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Destileria Limtuaco eyes agri crops for new products By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 2, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Liquor maker Destileria Limtuaco & Co., Inc. is looking at several agriculture products such as calamansi that could be used to manufacture of new alcoholic drinks. The company has signed a marketing agreement with the Tugdaan Mangyan Center for Learning and Development for the supply of calamansi rinds which will be used for making a limoncellolike drink. The Tugdaan Center is a group of Mangyan tribesmen from Oriental Mindoro who are engaged in calamansi growing and processing. Their products include calamansi concentrate, hibiscus concentrate, organic wild honey and other herbal products. The cooperative is a certified producer of organically-grown calamansi. Under the agreement, Destileria Limtuaco will purchase calamansi rinds from Tugdaan at a price equivalent to the price of the whole fruit. Transportation of the rinds will be shouldered by Destileria Limtuaco while the Department of Agriculture will support the operation of Tugdaan Center by providing chest freezers and weighing scales. The maiden purchase from the cooperative will begin on Sept. 2. The agreement will be valid for three years; shipment of rinds will be made at the peak of harvest. “We chose them because they manually squeeze the calamansi juice, therefore the rinds are not damaged,” said Destileria Limtuaco president Olivia Limpe-Aw. Limpe-Aw is introducing to the market soon its limoncello-like drink called Manille de Calamansi. Lemon liqueur is traditionally made by steeping lemon peels in grain alcohol until essential oil is released. “We developed this product because of feedback from the market. We were told several times that there is demand for this product,” said Limpe-Aw

The calamansi liqueur will join Destileria Limtuaco’s roster of popular products like White Castle Whisky, Napoleon V.S.O.P Brandy, Maria Clara Sangria, El Hombre Tequila, and Toska Vodka. The new product will become a new revenue stream for the company without the need for additional investment in equipment. “We have existing infrastructure for this,” said Limpe-Aw. This month, the company will also begin exporting to the US its Paradise Mango Liqueur and Amadeo Coffee Liqueur. Limpe-Aw said Manille de Calamansi will be marketed as a specialty product in Duty-Free outlets and eventually exported to the US. “Calamansi is now in season so we are talking advantage of it now,” she said. Limpe-Aw the company is also looking at the potential of commercially producing basi or wine made from sugarcane. dojfves9d30

Bulacan dam continues to discharge water Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:49 pm | Sunday, September 1st, 2013

FLOODING has affected these residents in Paliwas Street, Barangay Maysantol in Bulacan town, Bulacan province. Some children found it a good time to catch fish that were swept into the neighborhood. CARMELA REYES-ESTROPE/INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON CITY OF MALOLOS—Despite the sunny weather on Friday, operators of Bustos Dam in the province discharged water, part of a four-day operation meant to ease pressure on its reservoir before the monsoon rain pounds the area again. Precioso Donato Punzalan, supervising operations assistant of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), which manages the dam, said the agency intends to bring down the water elevation to 16.80 meters. The water level at the dam was recorded at 17.45 meters above sea level, inching closer to its critical spilling level of 17.70 masl. The NIA began releasing up to 192 cubic meters per second of water. The NIA operation took place after the provincial government evaluated the conditions of its dams in a Friday meeting called by Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado. Water elevation at Angat Dam, the largest Bulacan dam, was recorded at 203.53 masl on Friday, indicating that rain still fell over the Sierra Madre mountain range from where the rivers flowing into Angat emerge. Angat Dam’s spilling level is 210 masl.

Bustos Dam takes in all the discharges from the reservoirs of Angat and Ipo dams, so it needs to be freed of excess water if a new storm strikes the province, Alvarado said. “One storm is able to raise the Angat Dam elevation by 10 meters and that will lead to flooding unless we release water now while the weather is good,” he said. He said Bustos water discharged in a span of four days would not trigger flooding in downstream towns along Angat River. Water released by the dams flow into 11 Bulacan towns that lie along Angat River. Alvarado said the releases would also be timed so discharged water would not aggravate high tide. He requested the National Water Resources Board and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System to also open some of Angat Dam’s floodgates and ease pressure on its reservoir. Punzalan said Bustos Dam’s six gates have started to wear out, which is why early water discharges are necessary to keep the rubber gears from being stressed by the weight. He said P1.7 billion has been allocated for the dam’s rehabilitation but the project is still being reviewed. Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Inquirer Central Luzon

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Mindanao Newsbits for September 2, 2013 Published: September 2, 2013  

A.R.M.M. CABINET Cotabato City — Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman has revamped anew his regional cabinet, naming last week a lawyer as secretary of the ARMM’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), an agency still wanting to harness vast tract of idle lands in two mainland provinces, and rich aquaculture resources in three island provinces. Atty. Makmod Mending Jr. replaced Engr. Maritess Maguindra, who was named head of the ARMM’s Tourism Department, another agency criticized for having not promoted rich culturebased and physical tourism potentials in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi. (Ali Macabalang),_2013#. UiQFzH-veKE

Flying V to build new biodiesel plant By Alena Mae S. Flores | Posted on Sep. 02, 2013 at 12:02am | 200 views TWA Inc., the oil company behind the Flying V brand, will put up another biodiesel facility in the Visayas with a capacity of 30 million liters in preparation for the higher biodiesel blend in fuel products, a company executive said over the weekend. TWA operations manager Tanya Samillano told reporters the company pioneered the use of 5percent biodiesel blend or B5 in Flying V’s retail station in Philcoa, Quezon City. “The PCA [Philippine Coconut Authority] has stood their ground that there is enough local raw materials for local and their foreign commitments. They are just waiting for the NBB [National Biofuels Board] when to implement [the higher blend],” Samillano said. She said Flying V also pioneered the use of 1-percent biodiesel ahead of the passage of the Biofuels Act of 2006. “We were way ahead by about two years, we were already using B1. We believe that B5 will help the economy, especially the coconut farmers,” she said. Samillano said the company has an existing 30-million liter biodiesel plant in Sasa, Davao City, which catered to the biodiesel needs not only of Flying V but also other small oil players. “We plan to put up [a plant] in a different location. We’re looking at Visayas, another 30 million liters. If you want to catch on the market, the expansion has to be very fast,” she said. She said the Visayas biodiesel facility was estimated to cost around P40 million, or almost the cost of the facility in Davao. Flying V chief operating officer Noel Soriano said the higher biodiesel blend was “good for the economy because if we replace imported diesel with more CME (coco-methyl ester), it will really spur the coconut industry and the farmers.” He said a recent study on the use of B5 by the UP Transport Research Group using seven public jeepneys showed a 5.9-percent fuel efficiency and 12-percent reduction in emission.

Economy  Posted on September 01, 2013 10:03:20 PM 

Extended import curb eyed THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture (DA) is hoping to implement the extension of  quantitative restriction on rice imports by 2014 as it expects to conclude  negotiations by October this year, an official said.   

“May meeting pa rin ang WTO (World Trade Organization) Committee on Trade in Goods (The  WTO Committee on Trade in Goods still has a meeting). They have asked us to continue  negotiations with countries and to report on the progress of negotiations this October. We are  hoping to conclude it in October, but you can never tell. We are dealing with many members,”  Bureau of Agricultural Statistics Director and DA Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning  Romeo S. Recide said in a phone interview yesterday.    “Wala pang definite na date (There is still no definite date) for the implementation, but if it is  positive in October, and if there is an endorsement from the committee, it will go back to the  general council. If approved, by 2014, we would be implementing and operating under the  extension,” he added.    To date, Mr. Recide said, nine countries ‐‐ Pakistan, Canada, Australia, China, US, India,  Vietnam, Thailand, and El Salvador ‐‐ have expressed interest during the continued  negotiations.    Rolando T. Dy, executive director of the Center for Food and Agribusiness at the University of  Asia and Pacific, said in a phone interview that there is a need to extend the country’s  quantitative restriction because it regulates the influx of cheap rice.    “We need to regulate the entry of cheap rice from other countries. If there will be no  restriction, then there is a chance that cheaper rice imports will spread,” Mr. Dy said.    The country has asked for the extension of the quantitative restriction until 2017 and is still  requesting the support of other WTO members through negotiations.    Quantitative restriction, which the WTO approved in 2006, already expired June 2012. 

“The only general direction is to increase the country‐specific quota and lower the tariff. Yes,  we are amenable with that, but as much as possible, we want to limit the amount they bring in  and keep the tariff as high as possible,” Mr. Recide said.    Earlier this month, Vietnam asked to be included in the country‐specific quota under the  minimum access volume (MAV) in exchange for support of the Philippine request for extension.    DA Secretary Proceso J. Alcala told reporters that the agency is now evaluating if Vietnam can  be included in the country‐specific quota.    Mr. Alcala also said that Thailand has asked for a higher export quota while Australia, US, and  Canada have requested market access for their meat, vegetables, poultry, and fruits.    The Philippines has a specific rice import quota of 98,000 metric tons from Thailand, 25,000 MT  each from India and China, and 15,000 MT from Australia.    Under agreement with the WTO, the Philippines allows a total MAV of 350,000 metric tons of  rice imports, with a 40% tariff rate, while imports outside the MAV are levied a 50% duty. ‐‐  Jomari D. Guillermo‐import‐curb‐ eyed&id=75841                     

Hike in help to Zambales fishers not due to PH-China row over shoal Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:47 pm | Sunday, September 1st, 2013 CITY OF SAN FERNANDO— The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has given more assistance to fisherfolk in Zambales who, a former lawmaker said, have been prevented by Chinese patrols since May to fish in Scarborough Shoal, which the Philippines asserts to be within its territory in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). Since January, the BFAR has given 75 engines, 780 tuna handlines, 14 shallow payao (fish aggregating device), 80 deep sea payao, 500 collapsible crab pots, 100 gill nets, 700 life vests, 100 sets of seaweed farm implements, 1.8 million tilapia fingerlings, six seaweed nurseries and 20 cages to more than 3,000 fisherfolk, a report showed. The BFAR has also started a technology demonstration project for mud crabs and sea bass culture, and mangroves reforestation. It provided training in smoking, deboning and handling of fish. The agency also gave fisherfolk smokehouse and seaweed dryers, sent them a patrol boat and extended education grants to their children. Lawyer Asis Perez, BFAR director, confirmed on Sunday the additional support for Zambales fisherfolk but said this was part of the “increased support of the government to the sector.” The agency’s budget of P2.3 billion in 2012 rose to P4.6 billion in 2013, he said. “[Our assistance could be in response] to specific area intervention but the dispute over the shoal is not the reason for the additional support for those in Zambales,” Perez said by telephone. In May, former Zambales Rep. Jun Omar Ebdane said Chinese patrols prevented him and local fishers from going near the shoal, called by locals as Bajo de Masinloc. Perez said the shoal is 128 nautical miles from Masinloc town. A 1900 map published by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey referred to it as Panatag Shoal. Asked if Zambales fisherfolk are still barred in the area, Perez said: “I have no information.” Perez said the BFAR banned municipal and commercial fishing in the shoal from May 16 to July 15, 2012, as a “precautionary approach for the protection and conservation of the marine resources in the area.” The ban was not imposed this year, he said. He said locals fish in the area only during the summer, adding that the BFAR has not encouraged them to fish during the southwest monsoon season, when storms usually exit through western Luzon. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

We may be underestimating the ’pork barrel’ queen September 1, 2013 8:28 pm  



Erwin Tulfo One of the witnesses against Janet Lim Napoles was earlier quoted to have said that the businesswoman believes she will be off the hook and scott free in four to five years. The witness said Napoles has connections in Congress, the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police, the courts, and at the Office of the Ombudsman. Besides having the right connections, Napoles can bank on the people’s tendency to forget easily. It is possible that after a few month, they will forget that the “pork barrel queen” has billions of pesos stashed somewhere to pay off or bribe the officers of the courts in the months to come when this brouhaha settles. On top of that, some quarters fear that Malacanang could have cut a deal with Mrs. Napoles upon her surrender last week. Some fear that if she is not allowed to become a state witness, she could get a light sentence if she identifies the lawmakers, especially those in the opposition, involved in pocketing the people’s money. She could also avail and be protected by Marcos’ Presidential Decree 749 which provides that in bribery crimes, “ a person who offered or gave the bribe or gift to the public official or is an accomplish for such gift or bribe giving can be exempted from prosecution if he or she willingly testifies against that public official.” So, if we thought we have captured Napoles to make her answer for stealing our money and won this round . . . think again. We might end up the loser after all. And Napoles could be laughing all the way to the bank in just a few years.

*** A questionable project Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson should immediately look into reports about the alleged anomalous Valenzuela-Malabon dike project which is underway. Residents are questioning the quality of this P40 million project supposed to keep them away from high flood waters and Manila Bay’s high tide. Cracks had been spotted on the concrete walls as well as signs of strain on the metal bars. Residents want Singson to check if its contractors, AKN Construction, Rain Construction, RNN Construction, RM Nunez Construction Corp., are legitimate and if they have done similar types of projects. DPWH insiders admitted the bidding of the project is questionable since there were four winners. According to them, a P40 million project does not require four contractors. If this is not a rotten smelling project, I don’t know what it is. Right Secretary Singson? *** DA and BOC closing in on Lea Cruz Even as Agriculture Secretay Proceso Alcala has reportedly ordered a thorough investigation into the allegations that the importation of onions and garlic has been monopolized by a certain individual, Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon does not want to take any chances. Biazon cancelled the accreditation of the companies reportedly connected to importer Lea Cruz on Thursday. TV 5 found out last week that these companies are fake and do not have offices. Cruz is said to be the only person given an import permit by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) to bring in onions and garlic from another country which triggered an uproar from the importers’ community. The Customs chief also ordered his men to seize all onion and garlic cargoes of Cruz arriving at the pier from now on. Lea Cruz’s happy days will soon be over.

According to new COA audit: 3 senators gave P38M to fake NGO last year September 1, 2013 9:41 pm  

by JOHN CONSTANTINE G. CORDON REPORTER THREE senators released P38 million of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to a questionable non-governmental organization (NGO) last year, according to the Commission on Audit (COA). A COA report said Jose “Jinggoy” Ejercito Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Loren Legarda channeled part of their “pork” to the People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation, Inc. through a town in Bataan province. The money was supposedly used to purchase agricultural products but the documentary requirements it submitted for liquidation were not sufficient. People’s Organization was one of the NGOs identified by COA Chairman Grace Pulido Tan to have links with Janet Lim Napoles, the key figure in the pork barrel controversy. In its report on the municipality of Dinalupihan, Bataan, the COA said that People’s Organization, received a total of P38 million from the three senators as shown in the various special allotment release orders (SARO) that covers the implementation of the livelihood projects. It said Estrada released P5 million on January 6, 2012, another P10 million on March 30, 2012 and P8 million on May 15, 2012 or a total of P23 million. Enrile released P10 million on March 29, 2012, while Legarda released P5 million on June 25, 2012. People’s Organization was to have distributed 1,744 packages of agrarian implements, high value yield enhancements, and farm inputs and implements, ranging from P20,500 to P36,450 per package. But COA said Dinalupihan failed to submit the supporting documents for the release, implementation and liquidation of funds. It said People’s Organization submitted a memorandum of agreement, work and financial plan, the SAROs, the letters from the offices of the three senators designating People’s Organization as the NGO project implementer, a municipal council resolution and a list of recipients.

The three letters from the senators assigning People’s Organization as their recipient were signed by the lawmakers’ chiefs of staff. The group did not submit a final utilization or liquidation report and warranty for the purchase of the farm supplies. “Except for the P5 million received from Senator Legarda, no pictures of the actual distribution were attached,” COA said. The commission said Dinalupihan also failed to submit the accreditation of People’s Organization as the grantee agency, the financial and legal requirement of the NGO and a certification that group had cleared any previous cash advance released to it. COA added that no supplemental budget was approved for the use of the subsidy. The fund was immediately transferred to People’s Organization “per letter of the Office of the Senate and a Sanggunian [council] resolution.” COA demanded that municipality officials submit additional documents from People’s Organization for the liquidation “but as of this date, no documents were submitted to the [town officials].” “As a result of the above deficiencies, the fund transferred to People’s Organization cannot be fully substantiated,” the commission said. Previous transactions According to COA’s special audit on the pork barrel, People’s Organization had previous transactions with other lawmakers amounting P50.3 million. From 2007 to 2009, the group got P24.25 million from Enrile through the National Agribusiness Corp. Members of the House of Representatives were also generous to the group. Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas 4th endorsed P2.7 million, Victor Francisco Ortega, P2.7 million, Conrado Estrella 3rd, P4.5 million, Robert Raymund Estrella P4.5 million, Samuel Dangwa, P7.2 million, and Erwin Chiongbian, P4.5 million for an aggregate amount of P26.1 million. The money was released through the Technology Resource Center. People’s Organization was not included in the list of registered NGOs published in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website, COA said. But it had business permits to operate from 2007 to 2009. The group listed its office address as Block 23, Lot 59, Phase 2, EP Housing Village in Taguig City. When the COA audit team visited the address on February 14, 2011, the unit, which is located within the residential area, was closed. Neighbors told COA the unit was for rent. The pork releases last year is separate from the special audit conducted by COA earlier. That audit covered transactions from 2007 to 2009. Appearing at the Senate last week, Tan said that eight organizations linked to Napoles got more than P1 billion from Senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Gregorio Honasan, Enrile and Estrada. The four senators did not attend the investigation held by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

Economy  Posted on September 01, 2013 10:02:33 PM 

FDA scraps import clearances THE FOOD and Drug Administration (FDA) will no longer require letters of  clearance for imported products under its control, to improve the bureaucratic  process.   

This is according to FDA Memorandum Circular No. 2013‐032, dated Aug. 28.    FDA Acting Director‐General Kenneth Y. Hartigan‐Go said in a text message that the circular was  meant to reduce red tape in allowing imported products.    By Sept. 15, letters of clearance or certifications are no longer needed for the Bureau of  Customs (BoC) to release imported products and raw material under the FDA’s jurisdiction if  the importer is able to present a valid FDA license to operate and a valid certificate of product  registration or notification.    However, donated health products that may need sampling and products that are not yet  authorized in the market but will be used for exhibition and clinical trials will still require FDA  certification prior to release from the BoC. ‐‐ Mikhail Franz E. Flores‐scraps‐import‐ clearances&id=75839           

New action team formed to stop garlic smuggling By Othel V. Campos | Posted on Sep. 02, 2013 at 12:02am | 166 views The government and the private sector created a new action team to ensure the stability of garlic supply in the local market and prevent the smuggling of the commodity, a group of vegetable traders said over the weekend. The Bureau of Plant Industry and the Vegetable Importers, Exporters and Vendors Association Philippines Inc. established the National Garlic Action Team, following the formation of the National Onion Action Team to ensure the stability of onion supply in the country and also prevent the smuggling of onions. Vegetable traders said under the current system for onions, the attached agency of the Agriculture Department and farmers’ groups held discussions to determine the volume of onions that would be imported for a given period. The BPI would only issue import permits after the government and the farmers’ groups determined the volume that needed to be imported. The setup of the NGAT was first discussed in February this year and the body was formally created in July. Arnold De Sagon of the Itbayat Garlic Producers and Multi-Purpose Cooperative was named chairman of the National Garlic Action Team. Garlic growers predicted their output in 2013 would increase 68.9 percent to 49,000 metric tons from 29,000 MT in 2012. Farmers asked the government to go slow in allowing the entry of imported garlic, given the bumper harvest. De Sagon credited the government’s assistance to the projected increase in their output this year. Government support came in the form of seeds and other inputs that were distributed in garlicproducing provinces in the country.

Government to lose P2B in rice importation anomaly September 1, 2013 7:12 pm  

by JING VILLAMENTE REPORTER The government stands to lose at least P2 billion by the end of the year from a flawed and graftprone rice importation scheme being implemented by the Department of Agriculture (DA) through the National Food Authority (NFA), one of the country’s biggest consumer cooperatives warned. Ang Gawad Pinoy Consumers Cooperative head lawyer Tonike Padilla revealed that if the NFA proceeds with the planned importation of another 700,000 metric tons (MT) in November to address a purported looming rice shortage, the P457 million already allegedly lost due to overpriced imported rice could easily balloon to P2 billion before the year ends. Padilla concurred with earlier reports that at least P457 million in public funds had been lost to corruption in relation to the importation of rice from Vietnam last April. “In NFA’s April importation alone, the prevailing price per metric ton of rice in Vietnam ranged from $360 to $365 per MT. But the government, using public funds, paid an overpriced $459.75 per MT for the transaction,” Padilla said. “For this April G2G [government to government] transaction alone, $10,439,275 or P457 million . . . were lost to corruption. This is a killing. Even more than the annual PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund] of six congressmen combined,” he pointed out. The lawyer stressed that the cited scheme is the reason why the DA and the NFA has established a government monopoly in the importation of rice. The anomalies are being committed in the guise of the country’s quest for rice self-sufficiency, Padilla said. “The President [Benigno Aquino 3rd] has obviously been fed with erroneous data. We did not import 187,000 MT of rice in 2013, as he claimed in his July SONA [State of the Nation Address]. We imported more—a total of P205,700 MT as of April of this year,” the lawyer claimed. “The difference,” Padilla stressed, “is that all importations were done by the government, nearly doubling its previous year’s imports of 120,000 MT.” “This is the reason why the DA and NFA has overzealously insisted and pushed the private sector out of the international rice trading business,” he underlined.

A check of the Oryza Global Rice price for April confirms that the NFA’s acquisition was overpriced by at least $50 or about P2,150 per MT. “P457 million could have funded the construction of irrigation systems for 3,778 hectares of land, that’s a land area almost twice the size of Makati City, large enough to produce 30,224 MT of rice a year or P705.2 million worth of rice at 23,333.57 per MT. Multiply these figures by 450 percent should the November G2G importation proceed and P2 billion shall have been lost to corruption,” alleged the lawyer. Citing the National Economic Development Authority’s opinion, Padilla argued that the DA and NFA had unduly monopolized rice importation in the country, contrary to their mandates. “Even the NEDA believes that the NFA’s role should be limited to increasing domestic procurement of palay and reducing importation for buffer stocking, as well as encouraging the private sector’s primary role in rice importation,” he stressed. “During the first half of this year alone, the NFA paid P1.7 Billion in duties and taxes for its imports—an amount that should have otherwise been paid by the private sector and received as revenues for the government had the DA-NFA not insisted on its monopolistic G2G scheme,” he further said. Meanwhile, NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag assured the public that rice farmers in the Visayas and Mindanao have begun harvesting their crops, boosting the country’s stocks. This year’s production may reach 18.45 million MT, lower than the 20.4 million MT target set by the National Rice Program.

PCA distributes village‐type copra mill By Melody M. Aguiba  Published: September 2, 2013  

The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) is carrying out a pilot dispersal of a village-type copra mill that can boost value-adding activity and income of small farmers initially in Capiz and four other coconut provinces. The distribution of a smallhold copra mill can help farmers produce their own virgin coconut oil (VCO), thereby helping them become small entrepreneurs by turning copra into a product that has an attractive export market. Many other value-added products can be produced from the copra mill after coming up with VCO as VCO is another ingredient for soap, cosmetics, and other consumer or personal care products. PCA is now identifying the four other sites where the copra mill is expected to make a leap of change even if it is only a small addition in asset to coconut farms, according to PCA Deputy Administrator Carlos Carpio. “This equipment produces a good quality of virgin coconut oil. It will help our farmers move away from the traditional copra culture,” said Carpio in an interview. The project only involves a P1.3 million budget. Each of the copra mill only costs P250,000 per unit. However, the small mill’s impact may be significant in the countryside, according to Dean Lao Jr., managing director of coconut methyl ester (biodiesel) producer and exporter Chemrez. “Let’s say you need five nuts to extract one kilo of coconut oil. With P35 to P40 kilo (worth of copra) at P7 per nut, you can create a kilo of virgin coconut oil and sell that at say P120,” said Lao. That should generate an P80 per kilo net profit or a 200 percent return on the five nuts. That though has not yet factored in the labor and equipment costs. It should be distributed right in the far-flung coconut farms so that the coconut may easily be turned into a higher-priced finished product, benefitting those who need it most. “The equipment just takes a one cubicle area. It’s not mobile, but it’s better to establish it closer to the coconut farms,” said Lao.

Coconut farmers are among those known to need a lot of assistance from the government. There is a particular need to migrate them from mere producers of the cheap raw material copra, the coconut meat, into producers of finished products. From an export price of just around $800 per metric ton (MT) for coconut oil, this can be turned into products valued at $2,000 to $4,000 per MT given their manufacturing into coconut chemicals. Because of the current value of coconut chemicals, being a natural raw material in replacing synthetic chemicals, Indonesia, the world’s largest coconut producer, has imposed a barrier against exporting raw coconut products. The barrier is implemented through an export tax, according to United Coconut Chemicals Inc. Chief Operating Officer Evelina L. Petino. It is unfortunate that the Philippines stopped the implementation of Executive order 259 passed in 1987 during the time of President Corazon C. Aquino. EO 259 promotes the expansion of use of chemicals derived from coconut oil. It mandates use of these natural chemicals for soap and detergents, but it was repealed in compliance with the country’s commitment to the World Trade Organization.

PHL’s imports of US biotech food products hit $1.5 billion Category: Agri‐Commodities   Published on Sunday, 01 September 2013 17:59     THE country’s openness to biotechnology has allowed the entry of genetically engineered (GE) or GE‐ derived food and agricultural exports valued at over $1.5 billion in 2012, according to a report prepared  by the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service.    In the Global Agricultural Information Network (Gain) report, the Philippines was the ninth largest  market for US agricultural products, most of which were GE or GE‐derived.  Philippine farm imports from the US include meat, dairy and processed foods that contain high fructose  corn syrup and vegetable oils.The report noted that this openness to biotechnology also extended to the  planting of GE crops such as corn.    “The Philippines has long been a leader in biotech research and commercialization. GE corn has been on  sale in the country since 2003 and comprised 28 percent of planted area in 2012,” the Gain report read.  As of 2012, the report noted that 729,000 hectares of farmlands were planted with GE corn, making the  Philippines the 12th‐largest country in area planted to GE crops.    There are five transformation events (TEs) in eight GE corn varieties that are approved for commercial  production in the Philippines.  While as of July 2013 corn was the only product approved for commercialization, Golden Rice and  Bacillus thuriengensis  (Bt) eggplant had completed most required testing and administrative  requirements, the USDA report noted.    “This leadership status has attracted attacks from domestic and international anti‐biotech groups,  culminating in a 2012 law suit to halt commercialization of Bt eggplant and other crops,” the report  read.    Despite the opposition to the commercialization of Bt eggplant, the USDA noted that the Philippines  continues to be a model for GE regulatory policy for other developing countries.  “Science‐based and thorough, Philippine regulations have allowed the propagation of GE corn for over a  decade with no environmental and health issues,” the report read.    To ensure human, food, feed and environmental safety, the USDA said the Philippine regulatory regime  requires that risk assessments be conducted in accordance with internationally accepted bodies such as  the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, Codex Alimentarius Commission, Organization for Economic Co‐ operation and Development, and the Food and Agriculture Organization.‐commodities/18756‐phl‐s‐imports‐of‐ us‐biotech‐food‐products‐hit‐1‐5‐billion   

DENR holds bamboo technology forum Published: September 2, 2013  

Tacloban City (PIA) — A bamboo technology forum was recently held at the conference room of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Eastern Visayas. The forum organizer was the Ecosystems Research and Development Service (ERDS) of the DENR. The forum, attended by close to a hundred stakeholders from local government units (LGUs), academe, bamboo industry players, and government agencies, aimed to impart the importance and viability of bamboo production as a livelihood enterprise and as a commodity which promotes ecological stability. The one-day technology forum provided a focused discussion on the bamboo plant, nursery and plantation establishment and management and provided added information through an exhibit on the commercial bamboo species and bamboo furniture products and sample potted plants. Speakers in the forum include researchers from the ERD Bureau in Los Baños, Laguna, who discussed the merits of the bamboo plant, how to establish and manage plantations, and the cost and return of bamboo production. Dr. Eugenia Bautista of the ERDS who has undertaken a study on the priority species of bamboo in the region, mentioned the places in the region where bamboo grows abundantly. An official of the regional Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) apprised the participants on the industry profile of bamboo, the market, and the challenges and opportunities of the industry. Engineer Japhet Calipon, product designer for engineered bamboo of Eco-Homes in Makati shared on the private sector initiatives on E-bamboo production. The forum ended with the organization of a Regional Bamboo Industry Development Council to be managed by the DENR, and the DTI. In another development, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will be distributing Ovicidal-Larvicidal or OL Trap to places in Eastern Visayas with many reported dengue cases. DOST Region-8 Director Edgardo Esperancilla said that among these areas are Tacloban City and Leyte. He said the distribution of OL traps is now ongoing in various schools nationwide to control the population of the dengue-carrying Aedes mosquitoes. The first to avail of the system are those places which recorded high incidence of dengue cases.

The OL trap was developed by the DOST. However, in the second phase of implementation, the Department of Health (DOH) takes the responsibility by allotting more than P30 million for the procurement of OL traps this year. The DOH will determine where dengue cases are high, and the distribution will be done directly to the schools, Esperancilla said. Relative to this, Esperancilla said the DOST-8 is planning to convene teachers from various schools in the region to gather their reports after the first phase of the implementation was done. More training will also be conducted by the DOST to educate the classroom teachers on how to use the OL traps, and on new ways of monitoring in their respective schools.‐ veKE                             

Wholesale, retail rice prices continue to post hikes Category: Agri‐Commodities   Published on Sunday, 01 September 2013 17:58   THE  wholesale  and  retail  prices  of  regular  and  well‐milled  rice  again  posted  increases  for  the  week  ending  on  August  27,  according  to  the  latest  report  released  by  the  Bureau  of  Agricultural  Statistics  (Bas).  The  Bas  said  the  average  wholesale  price  of  well‐milled  rice  gained  by  9.24  percent  to  P36.29  per  kilogram compared to the price registered last year.  At the retail level, the attached agency  of the Department of Agriculture noted that the price of well‐ milled rice went up by 6.78 percent to P38.11 kilo on an annual basis.  For  regular‐milled  rice,  or  the  variant  usually  bought  by  consumers,  wholesale  price  went  up  by  9.13  percent to P33.22 per kilo on a yearly basis.  The average retail price of regular‐milled rice, which averaged P34.75 per kilo, was 7.52 percent higher  than last year’s price level.  The  Bas  said  the  average  farmgate  price  of  palay  went  up  by  6.32  percent  to  P18.18  per  kilo  for  the  week ending on August 27.  For yellow corn, the Bas said the price at both the wholesale and retail declined for the third week in a  row.  The  agency  said  the  average  wholesale  price  of  yellow  corn  at  P15.90  per  kilo  was  0.25  percent  compared to last year’s price level.  At  the  retail  level,  yellow  corn  was  sold  at  P21.46  per  kilo,  or  1.83  percent  higher  than  the  price  registered in the same period in 2012.  For white corn grain, the Bas said price cuts were reported at the wholesale and retail levels on a year  basis.The average wholesale price at P14.52 per kilo of white corn grain was 3.97 percent lower than last  year’s price level.The retail price of white corn grain at P18.42 per kilo was 5.05 percent lower than last  year’s quotation.‐commodities/18754‐wholesale‐retail‐ rice‐prices‐continue‐to‐post‐hikes 

Milk imports down 5.44 percent in first quarter Category: Agri‐Commodities   Published on Sunday, 01 September 2013 17:57   Written by Cai U. Ordinario   THE country’s purchase of milk and cream from abroad declined by 5.44 percent to 405,930 metric tons  (MT) in the first quarter of the year, the National Dairy Authority (NDA) said in a report.  NDA,  an  attached  agency  of  the  Department  of  Agriculture,  said  total  imports  of  dairy  products  also  declined by 7.12 percent to 452,800 MT in January to March.  The  value  of  dairy  imports  in  the  first  quarter,  including  cost,  insurance  and  freight,  reached  P7.45  billion. This is almost 15 percent lower than the value of last year’s imports.  NDA  figures  show  that  among  milk  and  cream  products  imported  in  the  first  quarter,  the   biggest  volume was registered for skim milk powder at 207,900 MT.  Other  milk  products  imported  during  the  period  are  wholemilk  powder,  buttermilk  powder,  whey  powder, ready‐to‐drink liquid milk, evaporated milk, cream and condensed milk.  The  Philippines  also  imported  24,520  MT  of  butter  and  dairy  spreads  in  the  first  quarter.  Cheese  imports, meanwhile, reached 21,120 MT during the same period.  Among the major sources of dairy products for the Philippines, New Zealand accounted for 49 percent,  followed by the United States at 23 percent and Australia at 10 percent.  NDA  figures  show  that  the  increase  in  local  output  of  dairy  products  contributed  to  the  decline  in  imports for the period.  From January to March, local production reached 4,740 MT, or 2.82 percent higher than the 4,600 MT  produced in the same period last year.The agency said local production comes from an estimated 19,828  dairy animals.  Of  the  total  domestic  output  during  the  first  quarter,  65  percent  were  cow’s  milk,  33  percent  were  carabao’s milk and 2 percent were goat’s milk. The Philippines also exported 1,070 MT of dairy products  worth $127.3 million in the first quarter. The value  of dairy products exported was almost 38 percent  higher than the figure recorded last year.‐commodities/18753‐milk‐imports‐ down‐5‐44‐percent‐in‐first‐quarter 

PCA distributes 7.7M coconut seedlings in first semester Category: Agri‐Commodities   Published on Sunday, 01 September 2013 17:56   Written by Alladin S. Diega / Correspondent   THE Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) said it has distributed close to 7.7 million coconut seedlings to  farmers all over the country in January to June.  The  attached  agency  of  the  Department  of  Agriculture  (DA)  said  this  is  more  than  the  7.18  million  seedlings targeted by the government for distribution this year.  PCA  said  about  45,718  farmer‐beneficiaries  have  received  coconut  seedlings  by  June.  Of  the  71,789  beneficiaries  of  the  coconut‐planting  project  for  2013,  the  agency  said  only  26,071  coconut  farmers  have yet to receive seedlings.  The  agency  also  said  it  has  fast‐tracked  its  planting  and  replanting  program  in  Davao  region  to  compensate for the 5.76‐percent or 39,800‐metric ton decline in the region’s output in the first quarter  of the year.  Davao  region  or  Region  11  is  one  of  the  top  coconut‐producing  regions  in  the  country.  Other  top  coconut‐producing  regions  are  Zamboanga  Peninsula,  Northern  Mindanao,  Eastern  Visayas  and  the  Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.  Meanwhile,  the  PCA  said  under  its  salt  fertilization  program,  662,617  bags  of  salt  fertilizer  were  delivered to priority areas from the 852,127 bags targeted for delivery for 2013.  However, only 98,929 bags were actually distributed, and only 11,580 bags salt fertilizers were applied.  This resulted in the limited number of trees fertilized at 289,500 planted in 2,895 hectares of farmlands.  The PCA is targeting to fertilize 21.3 million trees planted in 213,031 hectares of farmlands this year.  The  distribution  of  coconut  seedlings  to  farmers  is  part  of  the  government’s  efforts  to  increase  the  number of productive trees.  The fertilization of coconut trees is part of the government’s efforts to increase production and sustain  the export of coconut products.‐commodities/18751‐pca‐distributes‐7‐ 7m‐coconut‐seedlings‐in‐first‐semester 

Fake vitamins sold in Cagayan By Samuel P. Medenilla  Published: September 2, 2013  

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are warning consumers against buying alleged fake vitamins in syrup form, which claims it has been endorsed by the Department of Education (DepEd) and is being sold directly to a school in Cagayan. FDA issued the advisory recently after receiving complaints from concerned citizens in Cagayan about the health product labeled as “Citrange” syrup, which is purportedly being manufactured by Valenzuela City-based Linderbergh Food Products Valley. It said sales persons were selling Citrange to parents of school children at a price of P380 per bottle, claiming it will cure illnesses like asthma and improve memory retention. However, parents who bought the product complained it made their children sleepy or lazy in attending in class. The FDA said Citrange is not included in its list of registered vitamin syrup brands. Likewise, Linderbergh, which had an FDA license to operate (RDII-MM-F-2454) that expired in 2008, was not authorized to manufacture the product because its permit only covered flavored drink concentrates. “Some parents were deceived not only because of the claimed benefits but because there is a letter, allegedly from the Department of Education, being shown by the peddler,” the FDA said. The FDA warned consumers to be on the lookout for such products, claiming to be approved by the FDA and endorsed by DepEd. “This advisory is being issued to warn the public and consumers, especially the children and parents, not to fall prey to the marketing schemes of unscrupulous peddlers,” it added. The FDA also advised school administration to be more stringent in allowing unauthorized personnel in entering their school grounds. “The school administrators are also advised to be more vigilant and to ensure that the products being sold inside school premises is FDA registered and to be more cautious before entering into an agreement or receiving sponsorship from food and drug establishments,” FDA said.‐veKE   

Nation  Posted on September 01, 2013 09:57:00 PM 

Food safety standards required under new law NEW FOOD safety standards will be crafted by the Agriculture and Health  departments in line with a new law recently inked by President Benigno S. C.  Aquino III.    Republic Act (RA) 10611, also known as the Food Safety Act of 2013, will also set a body that will  monitor the implementation of safety benchmarks that aim to protect consumer health, including  quality controls for food business operators and food importers.    Current food regulation is based on RA 9711 which created the Food and Drug Administration in August  2009.    Mandatory food safety standards under the Food Safety Act ‐‐ which was enacted last Aug. 23 ‐‐ will be  developed “on the basis of science, risk analysis, scientific advice from expert bodies, standards of other  countries, existing Philippine National Standards and the standards of the Codex Alimentarius  Commission....”    Food business operators will be required to adopt new food standards and allow inspection of  businesses by regulatory authorities, among others.    A Food Safety Regulation Coordinating Board will be established, according to the law, that will “monitor  and coordinate the performance and implantation of the mandates of the DA (Department of  Agriculture), the DoH (Department of Health, the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government)  and the LGUs (local government units) in food safety regulation.”    It will also coordinate crisis management and planning during food safety emergencies and evaluate  enforcement. ‐‐ ENJD‐safety‐standards‐required‐ under‐new‐law&id=75827     

Govt wants to finish rice trade talks in Q4 By Anna Leah G. Estrada | Posted on Sep. 02, 2013 at 12:02am | 165 views The Agriculture Department said over the weekend it is hoping to conclude the negotiations for the extension of the quantitative restriction on rice with other countries next month. Agriculture Assistant Secretary Romeo Recide, who is also the co-lead negotiator for the Philippine mission, told reporters the department wanted to finish the negotiations by October. “The WTO [World Trade Organization] asked us to continue negotiations with countries interested in our QR, and to report on the progress of negotiations this October,” Recide said. “If it is positive, and if there’s an endorsement from the WTO committee, it will go back to the general council. Once officially approved, by 2014, we would be implementing or we should be operating under the QR extension,” Recide said. The government is currently negotiating with the World Trade Organization for the extension of the special restriction on rice imports until 2017. The quantitative restriction on rice allows the government to limit the volume of imported rice that enter the country to prevent possible drop in prices and protect local farmers. The Philippines, under the agreement with the WTO, committed to a minimum access volume of 350,000 metric tons for rice, with tariff rate of 40 percent annually. MAV refers to the minimum volume of farm produce allowed to enter into the Philippines with a 40-percent tariff, while shipments outside MAV pay higher rates. Recide said the government was pushing for the QR extension until 2017. The agency said in order to get the consent of other countries, the Philippines needed to grant their request for concessions or market access for the importation of certain agricultural products. Vietnam earlier said that it wanted an allocation under the country-specific rice importation quota of the MAV in exchange for its support to the Philippines’ request. Recide said aside from Vietnam, other countries in talks with the Philippines on rice trade were Pakistan, India, Australia, US, Thailand, China and El Salvador. Thailand asked for a higher export quota while US, Canada and Australia were asking market access for their meat, poultry, vegetables and fruit products. “The general direction right now is for us to increase the country-specific quota under MAV and lower the tariff on rice,” Recide said.

“We are amenable with that, but as much as possible, we want to limit the amount they want to bring in, as well as keep the tariff as high as possible,� he added. The Philippines currently has a country-specific quota for Thailand with an allocation of 98,000 metric tons, China with 25,000 metric tons, India with 25,000 metric tons and Australia with 15,000 metric tons.

Pagasa exec warns of more excessive rainfall By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 2, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A senior official of the weather bureau yesterday called for more flood control measures as scientific data showed a rising trend of excessive rainfall hitting the country that is expected to continue in the coming decades. Flaviana Hilario, deputy administrator for research and development of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said a recent study conducted by the agency found that extreme rainfall is projected to continue to increase until 2050 in Luzon and the Visayas. Hilario said a study entitled “Climate Change in the Philippines” is ongoing. “Moreover, the usually wet seasons become wetter, with the usually dry seasons becoming also drier, and these could lead to more occurrences of floods and dry spells/droughts, respectively,” the study, which was first published in February 2011, revealed. It also showed that hot temperatures would continue to become more frequent in the future. “We have to improve our disaster risk reduction measures, specifically land use plan and improvement of the drainage system,” Hilario told The STAR. Most parts of Luzon, including Metro Manila, have suffered from severe flooding due to torrential rains brought by storm-enhanced southwest monsoon in the last two years. Luzon suffered at least P97.3 million worth of damage to agriculture and infrastructure from torrential rainfall and flooding caused by the southwest monsoon enhanced by Tropical Storm Maring last month.‐exec‐warns‐more‐excessive‐rainfall 

Groups lament tighter rules for setting up NGOs By Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 2, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Leaders of legitimate organizations are worried over the government’s pronouncements of reforms to regulate foundations and non-government organizations (NGOs) in the aftermath of the pork barrel scam. It now takes P1 million or more to put up and register a foundation or an NGO that helps the poor. With the capital requirement and other procedures that would be asked by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), only those with ample funds can set up a foundation or an NGO. Anton Mari Lim, co-founder and president of the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation that is helping poor island communities in the country, was among the NGO leaders who were shocked over revelations of the P10-billion pork barrel scam. “But people, especially the government, should refrain from taking knee-jerk reactions,” Lim said. Lim’s foundation builds “school boats” that has spared thousands of public school children in coastal communities from having to swim kilometers to go to school. Lim, who was cited last week as one of the four Cobra Pinoy Heroes of 2013, lamented that there were proposals to make the registration of NGOs and foundations stricter.

If government authorities would make it hard to form groups to implement community development programs to help poor families, many would think twice about volunteering, Lim said. “The SEC should beef up instead its monitoring and actual inspection of registered foundations, not require more money and paper work.” Lim said the pork barrel scam involving bogus NGOs by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles has destroyed people’s trust in good NGOs. Napoles’ foundations were set up for tax evasion, money laundering, and other nefarious activities, he said. However, legitimate groups suffered “collateral damage” and became the butt of jokes, Lim said. Lim, a veterinarian-businessman in Zamboanga City, said current requirements for registration of NGOs and foundations as adequate. What is needed, he said, is diligence and alertness by the SEC to check papers filed before acceptance and approval of groups. A fellow Cobra Pinoy Hero 2013 awardee, 19-year-old Arriza Ann Nocum, a junior Industrial Engineering student at UP-Diliman under an Oblation scholarship, shared Lim’s apprehensions about additional hardship for NGOs.‐lament‐tighter‐rules‐setting‐ngos                       

No evidence on cell phone radiation’s link to cancer – FDA By Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 2, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Amid questions on the safety of mobile phones and cell sites, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has assured the public that there is no conclusive evidence that the type of radiation from these devices causes cancer. According to Agnette Peralta, director of FDA-Center for Device Regulation, Radiation Health and Research, the connection between cancer and radio frequency radiation (RFR) emitted by the antennas of mobile phones, cell sites, and outdoor antenna distribution systems has not been established. “The scientific evidence is inconclusive vis a vis the issue of cancer and exposure to this type of radiation,” Peralta said, citing the 2010 Interphone Study coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO)’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The Interphone Study involved 13 countries that used a common protocol to analyze brain tumor risk in relation to mobile phone use. “What happened? Some studies found that there was no positive association. A few found a positive association but (they were) questionable because in some of the data, it was stated that the cell phone user has been using a cell phone for 17 hours a day for many years (which was unrealistic),” said Peralta, who has been a member of International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, the first and only Filipino to be so. Citing analysis done by a group of epidemiologists that include Anthony Swerdlow and Maria Feychting on the results of the Interphone Study, Peralta further noted that “although there remains some uncertainty, the trend in the accumulating evidence is increasingly against the hypothesis that mobile phone use can cause brain tumors in adults.” Peralta added there are other related studies but their results are “not convincing in linking mobile phone use to the occurrence of glioma or other tumors of the head region among adults.” Because of these, she said the IARC had placed RFR only under the “Group 2B category, which means ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans,’ and not under the Group 2A category, or ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ and also not under the Group 1 category which is ‘carcinogenic’.” “They could not classify it as 2A, only 2B. What is 2B? Limited evidence of carcinogenicity. Anything is possible but is it probable? The available scientific data were not strong enough and not convincing enough to classify RFR as carcinogenic,” Peralta stressed.

Other sources of RFR Peralta explained that the RFR coming from mobile phones and cellular sites is actually the same type of radiation transmitted by the antennas of radio and TV stations, radar systems, cordless phones, walkie-talkies, wireless fidelity or Wifi routers, computer wireless adapters, and wireless baby monitors. “Some people have said that they would stop using their TV or radio to minimize their RFR exposure. But this action would be useless because RFR is all around us, whether or not one turns on one’s TV or radio,” she noted. Even the extremely low frequency magnetic fields from electric power lines and all wires carrying 50 or 60 hertz electric current have also been classified under Group 2B for specific cancers. Others in the 2B category are coffee, gasoline vapor, gasoline engine exhaust, and fermented vegetables. “Electricity has been a part of modern life for over 100 years. Does one now stop using electricity? If it can cause childhood leukemia, there should have been an unusual increase in the incidence all over the world already,” she added. Safety standards The only proven major harmful effect of RFR is the increase in temperature or heating, if exposed to very high levels. But the actual exposure to RFR levels from cell sites and cellphones are well below the allowable limits of exposure to members of the public that have been set by the Department of Health (DOH). Peralta said the “relevant exposure limit” for the public is much lower than that for workers. However, workers will also not be exposed to harmful RFR levels if they follow safe working procedures. She said the DOH’s RFR exposure limits strictly follow international standards. Also, the FDA does “desktop safety evaluation” of all proposed cellular sites of telecommunication companies. On-site measurement of RFR radiation levels is also done for representative sites. The RFR desktop safety evaluation report done by the FDA is one of the requirements of the National Telecommunication Commission for the license to operate cell sites, but the permit to construct is given by the local government units. There are certain requirements that companies must comply with, like submission of antenna specifications, installation of a perimeter fence or appropriate structures to prevent unauthorized access, warning signs, and restrictions in the access to the antenna tower, among others.

Asked about the resistance of some residents in the establishment of cell sites in their neighborhood, Peralta said that “what the people do not realize is that the farther away from a cell site a person using a mobile phone is, the higher the power of the RFR emitted by the cell phone antenna.” “If you are closer to the cell site, the lower is the power of the RFR that’s emitted by your cell phone. Why? Imagine if I’ll throw a ball pen at you and you are near me, I will throw it with a low power. But if I were to throw it to someone farther away, I have to throw it with a higher power,” she added. Peralta also said that further research is still ongoing abroad in the area of RFR effects, “especially because more children are now using mobile phones and they will be exposed to this type of radiation for more years of their life.”‐evidence‐cell‐phone‐radiations‐link‐ cancer‐fda                                 

Gov’t losses mounting on rice mess, says co-op By Rey E. Requejo | Posted on Sep. 02, 2013 at 12:02am | 425 views

The Aquino administration has lost P457 million and faces losing as much as P2 billion more this year due to a flawed rice-import policy being carried out by the Department of Agriculture through the National Food Authority, according to one of the country’s biggest consumer cooperatives. Lawyer Tonike Padilla, head of Ang Gawad Pinoy Consumers Cooperative, said that at least P457 million in public funds had been lost to corruption when the NFA brought in rice from Vietnam last April. “In NFA’s April importation alone, the prevailing price per MT of rice in Vietnam ranged from $360 to $365 per MT. But the government, using public funds, paid an overpriced $459.75 per MT for the transaction,” Padilla said. For this government-to-government transaction alone, $10,439,275 or P457 million of public funds was lost to corruption, Padilla said. “This is a killing, even more than the annual PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) of six congressmen combined,” he pointed out. Padilla said if the NFA proceeds with the planned importation of another 700,000 MT in November to address the looming rice shortage – which ironically, the DA denies – the P457 million losses could easily balloon to P2 billion before yearend, falling into the pockets of corrupt Agriculture officials. The annual minimum PDAF allotment for a member of the House of Representatives is P70 million. This is the reason the DA and the NFA have established a government monopoly in the importation of rice, Padilla said. “The anomalies are being committed in the guise of the country’s quest for rice self-sufficiency.” President (Benigno Aquino III) has been fed with erroneous data, he said. “We did not import 187,000 metric tons (MT) of rice in 2013, as he claimed in his July SoNA (State of the Nation Address). We imported more — a total of P205,700 MT as of April this year.”

The difference, Padilla stressed, is that all importations were done by the government, nearly doubling its previous year’s imports of 120,000 MT.” “This is the reason why the DA and NFA has overzealously insisted and pushed the private sector out of the international rice trading business,” Padilla said. A check with the Oryza Global Rice price for April confirmed that the NFA’s acquisition was overpriced by at least $50 or about P2,150 per MT. Padilla said that the foregone revenue or P457 million could have funded the construction of irrigation systems for 3,778 hectares of land, that’s a land area almost twice the size of Makati City, large enough to produce 30,224 MT of rice a year or P705.2 million worth of rice at 23,333.57 per metric ton, Padilla said. “Multiply these figures by 450 percent should the November G2G importation proceed and P2 billion shall have been lost to corruption,” he said. Citing the National Economic Development Authority’s opinion, Padilla argued that the DA and NFA had unduly monopolized rice importation in the country, contrary to their mandates. “Even the NEDA believes that the NFA’s role should be limited to ‘increasing domestic procurement of palay and reducing importation for buffer stocking, as well as encouraging the private sector’s primary role in rice importation,” he emphasized. “During the first half of this year alone, the NFA paid P1.7 Billion in duties and taxes for its imports – an amount that should have otherwise been paid by the private sector and received as revenues for the government had the DA-NFA not insisted on its monopolistic G2G scheme,” he said. Despite assurances of sufficient supply, other groups like Gabriela Partylist have deplored the continuing increases in rice prices. Meanwhile, NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag assured the public that rice farmers in the Visayas and Mindanao have begun harvesting their crops, boosting the country’s stocks. This year’s production may reach 18.45 million MT, lower than the 20.4 million MT target set by the National Rice Program.‐losses‐mounting‐on‐rice‐mess‐says‐co‐op/

Manila asks 3 Taiwan fishers to join Sept. 9 probe By AFP | Posted on Sep. 02, 2013 at 12:02am | 283 views

A Philippine panel preparing homicide charges against the country’s coastguards over the death of a Taiwanese fisherman has formally asked his fellow crewmen to appear before it, Manila’s justice secretary said Sunday. Those asked to appear before the justice department investigation were the three companions of slain fisherman Hung Shih-cheng, whose shooting death at sea in May badly damaged relations between the neighbours. “The panel of prosecutors subpoenaed them through TECO,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima told AFP. The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) is the de facto Taiwan embassy in Manila. The presence of the three was necessary for them to “subscribe and swear to their affidavits” about the incident, de Lima said. The three were requested to appear on September 9, but it was not immediately clear whether the Taiwan government had responded to the request. The Philippines and Taiwan began repairing a serious diplomatic rift after Filipino authorities in August recommended homicide charges against the coastguards following pressure from Taiwan. That move was welcomed by the Taiwanese government, which reciprocated by lifting a ban on the hiring of new Filipino workers on the island. Some 87,000 Filipinos work in Taiwan, according to official figures. The May 9 incident occurred in waters near an island in the Philippines’ extreme north, which Taiwan also claims as part of its economic zone. Hung, 65, was killed when the coastguards opened fire on the small vessel he was crewing with his son and two others.

The killing was described by Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou as “cold-blooded murder”, and his government had previously rejected official apologies from Manila and demanded criminal charges against the coastguards. The coastguards had defended their action, and said they fired because the Taiwanese vessel tried to ram their vessel. But a 40-minute video of the incident released by the justice department showed the Taiwanese vessel had not acted threateningly but only tried to escape before the shooting started.‐asks‐3‐taiwan‐ fishers‐to‐join‐sept‐9‐probe/                              

Philippines-France tax treaty adopted By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Posted on Sep. 02, 2013 at 12:01am | 239 views

The Philippines has been removed from the French Blacklist of high tax rates as a result of improved fiscal integrity and sound policies, Sen. Loren Legarda said on Sunday. She said the Senate has adopted the Protocol amending the Agreement between the Philippines and France for the avoidance of double taxation and tax evasion and the revised agreement has broaden the scope of exchanges between the two countries. “It now allows the exchange of information related to tax administration, including bank of information,” Legarda said. The previous Philippines-France treaty took effect on January 1, 1978. It was not aligned with the Exchange of Information provisions of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Model on Tax Convention. Under this treaty the Philippines was listed among non-cooperative countries and territories (NCCTs). French nationals were dissuaded from transacting with NCCTs because of the high tax rates. Legarda said tax treaties allow developing countries to enforce domestic laws to prevent tax evasion and promote technology transfer as well as academic, cultural and sports exchanges between contracting countries. “While globalization brought about an increase in international trade, it also posed greater challenges to the effective enforcement of tax laws. This is what we want to address when we adopted the new PH-France Tax Treaty,” Legarda said.‐france‐tax‐ treaty‐adopted/  

God, country, family By Benel P. Lagua | Posted on Sep. 02, 2013 at 12:01am | 136 views

As a new senior officer at the Development Bank of the Philippines, I was initiated to a Monday habit, the usual flag ceremony in government offices. What distinguished the DBP Monday habit was the recitation of the DBP Family Credo, after which a staff from the rank and file, and sometimes the officer corps, will render a three-minute reflection on the Credo. A value-driven attitude Far from it being a mere recitation of platitudes, the Credo is a reminder to the employees of the imperative of having a value-driven attitude towards DBP’s mission. I understand the Credo was borne out of the need to build a corporate culture that embodied the changes to ensure DBP’s rise out of the 1986 rehabilitation plan. At that time, the bank was almost closed due to nonperforming accounts brought about by economic difficulty and political interventions. But former President Cory Aquino brought in a professional team headed by then chairman Jesus Estanislao and later on former Secretary Roberto de Ocampo to rehabilitate and strengthen the institution. The intervention involved reforms on credit process, organization and values. The changes, which pounced on corporate culture, brought about a dramatic turnaround in business growth and in the conduct of the personnel and professional lives of the people. It is thus unfortunate that in the recent past, the DBP hogged the headlines for the wrong reasons. Because if one could only hear the stories, sentiments and sharing of the weekly commentary on the DBP Credo, one would find inspiration in the aspirations of the regular staff aiming to bear witness and living by the tenets of the Credo. It’s amazing how senior people can learn a thing or two from our subordinates.‐country‐family/  

Cagayan Freeport top taxpayer and employment generator — BIR By MST Business | Posted on Sep. 02, 2013 at 12:01am | 47 views

The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, operator of the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport, emerged as the top income generator and taxpayer of Cagayan province for remitting P34 million in taxes, out of its gross revenues amounting to P310.95 million in 2012, according to the Bureau of Internal Revenue. CEZA received the plaque of recognition from BIR Region II for being the top 2012 taxpayer in the province. Two investors/locators in Cagayan Freeport were also awarded for being the second and third largest corporate taxpayers. The awards, given during BIR’s 109th founding anniversary and 8th Regional Staff Conference, were based on the timeliness of tax payment by the corporations, voluntary gross declaration and income tax paid. CEZA administrator and chief executive Jose Mari Ponce said Cagayan Freeport was fast becoming a self-sustaining industrial, commercial investment, financial and tourism-recreational destination. Data showed of 159 active government-owned and controlled corporations, CEZA was in the top 18 among the agencies that remitted a total of P25 billion to the government last year. Business investments in CEZA produced more job opportunities, leading the National Economic Development Authority to commend CEZA as the consistent highest employment generator in Region II. The Cagayan Freeport has attracted investors to put up hotel resorts and restaurants, commercial establishments and business process outsourcing centers that, in turn, generated thousands of jobs for the local communities.

Cagayan Freeport is envisioned as a major transshipment hub, an agro-industrial growth center and a tourism and eco-tourism haven in North Luzon. Ponce said CEZA offered valuable investment incentives and advantages for business sectors, such as tax holiday and discounts, tax and duty-free importation of items, and permanent resident status for foreign investors among others, to encourage more business opportunities in our jurisdiction. “Investors see the potential of lucrative business enterprises because lower expenses is tantamount to greater profit. To avoid red tape and encourage efficiency and reliability in processing the required documents for business transaction, CEZA designated a One-Stop-Action Center for the convenience of the investors,” he said.‐freeport‐top‐ taxpayer‐and‐employment‐generator‐bir/                            

PTT bullish on retail By Alena Mae S. Flores | Posted on Sep. 02, 2013 at 12:01am | 78 views

A Thai executive encouraged foreign companies to invest in the Philippines, given the country’s expanding retail market. “Filipinos’ shopping and spending habits are obviously driven by the Philippines’ economic growth,” PTT Philippines Corp. president and chief executive Wisarn Chawalitanon said in a statement. “And this is the best time for investors to come in and invest especially on retail business,” Chawalitanon told expatriates and businessmen during the recent Business Forum and Networking hosted by Thailand’s Department of International Trade Promotion, Ministry of Commerce in celebration of the Thailand Week in Manila. Chawalitanon, a Thai national, was one of the resource persons during the event and spoke about “doing business in the Philippine market.” PTT Philippines is the local subsidiary of PTT Public Co. Ltd., Thailand’s biggest oil firm. PTT expanded into retail business from commercial trading of fuels in the Philippines.‐bullish‐on‐retail/                  

We’re not stupid, Mr. President By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Sep. 02, 2013 at 12:01am | 1,163 views

AT an Asian press forum this week, President Aquino gave lip service to the need for the press to speak truth to power. Let us speak the truth plainly, then, Mr. President. You must think Filipinos are a stupid, gullible lot who will believe anything that you or your arrogant spokespersons say. The biggest lie from the Palace last week was that the woman accused of bilking billions of pesos from government coffers, Janet Lim Napoles, enjoyed no special treatment when she surrendered. Let’s examine the chronology and see how well or how poorly the Palace claim conforms with the facts. Some time after 9 p.m. Wednesday, Napoles, who had been in hiding since Aug. 15, emerged from a cemetery where she was fetched by the presidential spokesman, the deputy presidential spokeswoman and an undersecretary from the communications group. She rode a government vehicle provided by the secretary of the Interior, along with her husband, her lawyer and the Cabinet officials who picked her up. Her two-vehicle convoy, complete with motorcycle-riding policemen, arrived at the Palace at 9:37 p.m. Entering the Palace, Napoles and her husband went through the regular security checks, and was checked by a doctor when she complained of palpitations. She and her entourage then went up to the receiving room on 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, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, and national police chief Alan Purisima. The meeting lasted for about 10 minutes, and the Palace insists that all they discussed was the need to protect Napoles from threats to her life. Following the meeting, President Aquino left ahead for police headquarters in Camp Crame to inspect the premises and to make sure that her detention room was safe. Throughout this process, Napoles was never handcuffed. On the way to Camp Crame for booking, she rode with the presidential spokesman, while the rest of the Cabinet officials except for the executive secretary also joined the convoy in their respective cars. On Thursday night, when Napoles was to be transferred to the Makati City Jail, Cabinet officials led by Roxas, with members of the Palace communications group in tow, were again on hand to greet her. And, when the Makati court agreed to a defense petition to move Napoles to a police camp in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, the Justice Department raised no objection. To justify this kind of solicitous behavior, the presidential spokesman had to dig deep into the country’s history to find two long-dead presidents – Manuel Quezon (president from 1935-1944) and Ramon Magsaysay (1953-1957) – who had personally accepted the surrender of rebels. But of course, the wellheeled Napoles is no surrendering rebel bent on overthrowing or defying the government. Ordinary criminals—even those accused of kidnapping and plunder–do not get a tete-a-tete with the President of the republic. They do not get escorted by Cabinet members to their places of detention. And they do not have the President in the advance party to make sure that their cell is up to snuff. We are not stupid, Mr. President. Even if there were a real threat to Napoles’ life, we fail to see how you and the members of your Cabinet were needed to personally protect and escort her. No special treatment? Go tell that to the Marines. Oh wait—you already did that when you also met with Napoles’ husband, a retired Marine colonel.‐not‐stupid‐mr‐president/    

Pork and other ills By Pastor Apollo Quiboloy | Posted on Sep. 02, 2013 at 12:01am | 198 views 1

Now it is crystal clear. Pork barrel is the virus that has corrupted our nation’s DOS—our democratic operating system. No institution stands unscathed by the corrosive influence of pork. The only option left, it seems, is to push the national reset button, if there is one. But when it comes to how taxpayer’s money is spent, the only recourse, without doubt, is to write a new program, beginning with the 2014 national budget. We cannot continue with the old. A new app on how public funds are budgeted, spent and audited must be designed. Not to do so would invite taxpayer disobedience because the former’s fidelity with revenue laws depends, to a large extent, on how the taxes they have paid are returned to them. They are saying that the reimbursement must come in the form of public services, and not rolled out in pork barrels. *** Pork has been described as the lubricant that makes Congress work. If Congress is a wheel that constantly squeaks, pork has been the traditional tool used to deaden the noise. And what an expensive dissent-suppressant it has become. Unfortunately, the pipeline through which pork grease flows has been privatized, run by the likes of Janet Napoles. It now appears that she has not only punched this pipeline full of holes but she has been able to divert it, if we believe one whistleblower account, to large bathtubs. Now it can be told. Of all the legislative franchises Congress has approved, the most lucrative, it seems, was one that is not in the statutes, but the license to operate this pipeline.

But because the leakages in the pipeline have been exposed, every person to whom pork grease oozed has been tarred. If you run down the names, they seem to cover whole pages in the government directory. The result is a whole government under indictment. *** Good things must come out of this mess. Of course, the creation of a see-though government funding pipeline is on top of the list. Another one, I hope, is that of a vigilant Congress, jealous of its rights, and one that ceases to be a subsidiary of the Executive. It should start reclaiming its constitutionally-assigned role as the dominant among the three branches. It would be a great tragedy if out of this sordid episode what would emerge is a legislature further emasculated. Congressmen and senators may appear today as the perfect kontrabidas. I agree. But there would be greater damage if their institutions are stricken off the equation. Having been sullied, they would be reduced to rubber stamps. We should remember that pork barrel was designed to co-opt the Legislature. It was meant as an institutional bribe so that Congress would abdicate its power to appropriate and meekly ratify whatever budget Malacaùang wants. *** If this decades-old modus vivendi is now gone, then Congress should celebrate its liberation from pork barrel by scrutinizing the budget the way taxpayers’ representatives should—with an eye for detail and with distaste for unitemized lump sums. The demand by the Senate for a line-item budget is a step in that direction. One word of advice, though: It can only be a credible reformer if it scraps PDAF, by really atomizing it, and not merely transferring it to some hidden nook in the budget. There are some quarters who have dispensed the advice that Congress should just focus on just writing laws. Yes, I agree. And if I may add, focus on the most important of all laws, the General Appropriations Act.

If an industrious legislator is the greatest threat to the Malacanang-proposed budget, then so be it. That is the kind of check-and-balance we would like to see, not the pork-brokered conspiracy of the two branches. *** As we look for the reset button and write a new DOS for our nation, we should not lose sight of the fact that there other elephants in the national living room. The woman in a detention facility in Laguna is not our only problem. If we think that she is, and that pork is the root of all our problems, then the farther are we from finding solutions to our country’s other greater problems. Yes, we shouldn’t take our eyes off pork barrel but the national gaze shouldn’t be fixed on it alone. As we run after those who ran away with our money, let us not stop chasing solutions to the other ills that grieve us. Rice prices are shooting up, in some places ordinary varieties now fetch P48 per kilo, and yet there is scant attention to it as we are 24/7 riveted to Napoles while the rice pot is running empty. The traffic in Metro Manila is nearing disaster proportions but the collective anger that we should pour on it go instead to Instagrams of Napoleses speeding off in Porsches. The jobless rate is on the rise but we do not hyperventilate on the plight of the army of unemployed as the disgust we can muster against injustice has been consumed by our Facebook rants against pork barrel. While we watch Napoles being sent to jail, our children are being mugged, our homes invaded, our cars are being forcibly taken against us. Why do we accept these other crimes as the new normal? The times call for multitasking. We must demand an end to traffic, rising rice prices, joblessness, and criminality with the same energy that we demand an end to pork barrel abuse.‐and‐other‐ills/  

Time for a true court of the people? By Francisco S. Tatad | Posted on Sep. 02, 2013 at 12:01am | 650 views 12

President Benigno S. Aquino III seems to believe the Filipinos’ memory is short and their capacity for indignation shorter. This seems to be the message coming out of his state-guest treatment of Janet Lim Napoles, the reputed “pork barrel queen.” He needs to be proved wrong. On August 26, tens of thousands of Filipinos poured out at Manila’s Rizal Park, in several other cities around the country, and in various Philippine diplomatic missions abroad to proclaim their outrage at the plunder of billions of the Priority Development Assistance Fund by members of Congress and the Executive Department. It was a great cathartic experience. Many, if not most, of them had been Aquino supporters. But faced with Napoles’s alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam, they demanded the abolition of the lawmakers’ P27-billion PDAF as well as the President’s nearly P1 trillion lump sum appropriations, and the punishment of all those who had committed plunder. This marked a rupture in Aquino’s mighty ranks, a turning point in his relationship with big business and the middle class, a watershed in his otherwise smooth journey toward 2016. Many saw him as a deeply wounded president. The most natural reaction would have been for him to try to reassure the angry crowds that he remained true to their cause, that he would, as he had said earlier, “abolish” the pork barrel with no regret or recrimination, and punish those guilty of plunder. But he did not do this. He did the exact opposite. Given the chance to placate the angry crowds, he chose to drive them to the edge instead. On the evening of Wednesday, August 28, he went out of his way to welcome inside Malacañang the same Janet Lim Napoles, who had provoked the outrage the nation had not seen in years.

Napoles had been a fugitive from justice since August 14 when she went into hiding after the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 51 issued a warrant for her arrest on a charge of serious illegal detention of her nephew and former employee Benhur Luy. No one had seen her since. When she finally reappeared, she was not in cuffs or in the hands of an arresting officer, but in the august company of the President of the Philippines. For those who had gone to the anti-“pork” rallies or had vicariously shared their experience only two days before, this was the most humiliating and crushing. But it was not just a bad dream; it was real. To some observers, Napoles’ “surrender” to the President looked more like the “courtesy call” of an honored state guest. It followed an elaborate protocol, fit for a movie script featuring Jason Bourne. Following a secret understanding between Napoles’s lawyer Lorna Kapunan and presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, the latter met Napoles at the Heritage Memorial Park at The Fort. From there, they drove to Malacañang, where Aquino received her at 9: 28 pm. Much earlier that same day, Aquino had announced a P10-million bounty for her arrest. Napoles had been on the police “wanted” list not on account of the “pork barrel scam”, where no case has been filed until now, but only in connection with the charge of “serious illegal detention.” Coming from the President, the bounty offer was a great mystery. But it was never explained. Still it increased Napoles’s fear for her life, Atty. Kapunan said; thus, her decision to “surrender.” Paradoxically, the task of securing Napoles from any possible harm was assumed solely by Aquino’s propaganda elite who appeared to have made sure that none of the responsible and accountable security officers were involved. Neither the Secretary of Justice or any high Department of Justice official, nor the chief of the Philippine National Police or any high PNP official, nor the director of the National Bureau of Investigation or any high NBI official took part in the extremely delicate security operation. Neither were they asked to join Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Manuel Roxas II, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang, Communications

Undersecretary Manolo Quezon III, deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte and of course Lacierda during Napoles’s call on the President. Aquino’s propaganda crew apparently thought the President could gain some brownie points from their operation. But the objective situation was, from all angles, intrinsically unfavorable to him. No one with an elementary understanding of political propaganda would have advised Aquino to put himself in the middle of it. What message were they trying to convey, in the first place? Whatever it was, the result was adverse. The clearest message that came through was that Aquino was not with the people but with Napoles. Or, to put it even more bluntly, the President had fallen inside Napoles’s pocket. The official propagandists, joined by the country’s biggest tabloid, have since tried to suggest that the Malacañang meeting was necessary because Napoles could not trust the NBI or anybody else, except the President. They seemed convinced this was their best line, and that it would save the President. But how could it possibly save any president when he and his propagandists were saying that he and he alone, nobody else, could be trusted in the entire government? According to Lacierda, the President’s conversation with Napoles lasted ten minutes. It was supposed to have been warm and pleasant. But nothing said there has been reported. It should have been fully disclosed. For unless and until the text of that conversation is officially released to the public, it would continue to fuel speculation unfavorable to the President. Having disrupted his bedtime schedule to receive his guest, the President and Commander-in-Chief of all the Armed Forces took on the role of an ordinary security officer and led the convoy of cars that took Napoles to Camp Crame, where he formally turned her over to the custody of Roxas, as DILG head, and Director General Alan Purisima, PNP chief. But he first had to make sure the accommodations were suitable for the former fugitive from justice. The next day Napoles was transferred to the Makati city jail. But almost immediately, the Regional Trial Court ruled in favor of her request to be transferred to a more secure detention facility in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. This is now the focus of the press.

Lacierda and company have tried to justify the Malacañang meeting by citing instances when past presidents received some political offenders in the Palace. For instance, on two separate days in January 1936, President Manuel L. Quezon received two notorious outlaws from his home province of Tayabas. These were Nicolas Encollado and Teodoro Asedillo who had earlier surrendered to the provincial governor Maximo Rodriguez. Rodriguez brought them to Malacañang, where they met with Quezon and pledged their full cooperation and support to the government. In 1948, Huk Supremo Luis Taruc came to Malacañang to accept President Elpidio Quirino’s amnesty for the Huks. This led to negotiations on the terms under which the Huks would legally disarm and disband. But the talks collapsed and Taruc went back to the hills. In 1954, Taruc surrendered a second time to President Ramon Magsaysay. That ended the Huk rebellion, but Taruc was later prosecuted for revolt and terrorism and sentenced to 12 years in jail. In 1968, he was finally pardoned by President Ferdinand Marcos who also received him at the Palace. But these were not common criminals, but political offenders who had elected to end their dissidence and finally support the government. And while none of those presidents could ever be accused of standing to benefit personally from meeting with the dissidents, no one who could say the same thing of Aquino in relation to Napoles. In fact, one wonders whether Aquino did not have any previous meetings or dealings with Napoles when he was still a congressman or senator or when he ran for president in 2010, or campaigned for his senatorial candidates in the last May 2013 elections. Was she not, in fact, a big contributor to his 2010 and 2013 campaigns? Malacanang has rejected this, saying her name does not appear on Aquino’s list of contributors. But that is absolutely without merit. It is no great secret that no one who contributes even a few million pesos to any party or candidate ever wants his name and contribution recorded. No matter how many times Aquino dismisses the allegation, a large part of the public seems convinced that Napoles is a big-time Aquino supporter, and this was why he himself had to receive her instead of simply directing the Secretary of Justice, the Secretary of Interior, the PNP chief or the NBI Director to receive her on his behalf.

It doesn’t end there. Why does Napoles have to be in a maximum security jail when she has not been charged with any non-bailable crime, but only with serious illegal detention, which is bailable? For all her money, why has she not tried to post bail? In at least two instances, the President himself had posted bail for two of his allies—former Congressman Nereus Acosta and Commissioner Grace Padaca of the Commission on Elections. Given his obvious concern for Napoles’s wellbeing and her constitutional right to be presumed innocent until her guilt is proved, could he not have posted her bail, too? Or is there a grand design to keep Napoles beyond the reach of the news media and the ongoing Senate blue ribbon investigation? Although no plunder charges have been filed, the government’s plan to use Napoles as a “state witness” is already out in the open. This means that if and when the charges are filed, and Napoles found herself accused of having conspired with senators and congressmen, and various officers of the Department of Budget and Management, Commission on Audit, and some implementing agencies to commit plunder, the government would move to discharge her from among the defendants so she could testify against the other defendants. Lawyers are one in saying that the party alone that appears the least guilty, not the one that appears the most guilty, could become a “state witness.” To many Napoles appears to be the most guilty. But in a conspiracy where the act of one is the act of all, all of the accused, if guilty, would share the same guilt, leaving no one either more guilty or less guilty than the others. It would take a completely unthinkable application of the law to make Napoles the “state’s witness.” But supposing the unthinkable happens, what then? Whatever her crimes, the government would try to absolve Napoles of all legal culpability. In return, she could try to clear Aquino’s allies of any culpability, while trying to convict Aquino’s adversaries. But not everything depends on Napoles. There is at least the COA still. If the COA remains trustworthy as the constitutional institution mandated to audit the use of all government funds, there seems a good chance we could see the

complete data on how the government has used or misused the annual national budget not only during the past administration but especially during the present administration. However the public must protect the constitutional mandate of the COA, which could be gravely undermined. It cannot allow a situation where instead of investigating the senators, the COA is the one being investigated by the senators; and instead of telling the Department of Budget and Management that its official data are in error, it is the DBM saying that COA’s data are in error. Through the COA, the nation should be able to see, without any biases or blinders, how the entire national budget has been converted into one giant “pork” by the supposedly incorrupt administration, and that the time has come to stop the plunder and get rid of the plunderers. Above all, the nation must decide whether it is still within the power of the courts to right injustices and wrongs, or whether the time has come for a morally enraged population to step in and constitute a real court of the people.‐for‐a‐true‐court‐of‐ the‐people/                    

Public-Private Partnership must work By Alvin Capino | Posted on Sep. 02, 2013 at 12:01am | 205 views

Buried amid the din of the pork barrel controversies is the fate of the Public-Private Partnership strategy. Many are asking, what is the status of the PPP? Isn’t this supposed to be the core economic takeoff strategy of the present administration? The concern about the fate of the PPP came up in the wake of a massive public uproar over the reported abuse and misuse of pork barrel funds. Perhaps, for the first time, the public understood the obsession among solons and government executives with spending taxpayer money – the idea of easy money overwhelms the sense of accountability. We recall that the present administration clearly said at the start of its term that PPP is the way to go. The reason was clear – government can create jobs, fuel economic activity and improve infrastructure all at the expense of private sector. To date, we still have to see a new and major PPP project launched under the present dispensation. It is time for the administration to look for other venues where it can prove that its vision for PPP can work. One of the areas being talked about these days is river dredging. The way it looks, no river dredging project in this country will be implemented within the next few years. This is because dredging is among the project types which solons and the Palace are considering from funding exclusion under a modified pork barrel system. Senate President Franklin Drilon himself is staunchly against the idea of funding river dredging projects under the pork barrel system. The Ilonggo solon has basis for the statement: he said some P750 million in pork funds may have been lost in this type of project in just six months during the past administration.

The losses came in the form of ghost or incomplete deliveries. Some of his fellow senators, like Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III have found themselves in difficult situations as a result of the present public mood against pork barrel spending for river dredging. Earlier, Pimentel and a congressman from Cagayan de Oro pooled their respective pork barrel funds to finance the dredging of two rivers running through that flood-prone city – Cagayan de Oro and Iponan rivers. This is an important project because the onslaught of Typhoon Sendond had severely silted the two rivers, making CDO even more vulnerable to destructive flooding. Dredging those two bodies of water requires some P250 million. We don’t know if the project has already been completed or if there have been enough pork disbursements to ensure they are completed. What appears to be certain is, further attempts to fund river dredging initiatives using pork and other taxpayer moneys will face rough sailing. CDO is not alone in this predicament. The provinces of Albay and of the Cagayan Valley Region are in similar dire straits. So are many other provinces throughout the country. Maybe, this is where the government can revive the PPP concept. Here, the government can invite private sector investors to come in and fund river dredging projects under mutually beneficial terms. The big question, of course, is this: why would private sector come in and fund their own dredging projects? Well, from what have been hearing lately, it looks like our heavily silted river beds are not without valuable deposits. The government, for sure, knows that there are minerals under the silt and waste deposits. Government experts might wish to find that out and offer to private sector the opportunity to benefit from them. In exchange, the government can require a private sector partner to do a stateof-the-art dredging project that will ensure that our rivers are properly de-silted. That, in turn, will ensure that cities like CDO can become flood-free again. Some might say that, sooner or later, silt will return to our river beds, washed down by rainwater from our denuded forests.

That is true. But then, with the new layer of silt will come more valuable mineral deposits. Private sector investors can then dredge again and benefit from what they can find by sifting through the waste and the silt. This is a possible win-win arrangement. Instead of complaining about the massive loss of public funds in dredging projects, the government can tap the PPP strategy to get private investors in doing the job. It is not too late for the present administration to explore ways to live up to its promise to make PPP work. We like the idea. After all, this one won’t rob us of precious taxpayer money while getting rid of our perennial flooding woes.‐private‐ partnership‐must‐work/                            

The poorest rich persons By Rita Linda V. Jimeno | Posted on Sep. 02, 2013 at 12:01am | 346 views 1

When Janet Lim Napoles surrendered last week, her forlorn and worry-filled face, while being booked at the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame, served as the entrÊe on the front page of all major dailies. It is hard to imagine how one who used to live in pomp and scandalous display of wealth can ride it out in a jail cell. For all her humiliation and hapless fall into ignominy, one thing is certain. She will not get sympathy; at least not from the angry crowd that waged a war against the multi-billion pork barrel scam which was alleged to have been authored by Napoles. It was bad enough that she and her family were flaunting their life of excess in the social media. Her daughter posted photos of her Porche sports cars, her name-brand dresses, shoes and bags; her apartment at the Ritz Carlton in Los Angeles where the rich and famous live; and her difficult-to-imagine extravagant parties fit for royalty, while millions of Filipinos survive on one US dollar a day. It was also bad enough that we discovered that Napoles owns 28 houses and mansions in upscale villages while countless homeless live under bridges and on street pavements. The last straw that triggered the Million People March was, as it turns out, her billionpeso-wealth is apparently, taxpayers’ money. Every Filipino’s money, in fact, as even the poorest of the lot who buy food and basic commodities contribute taxes by way of the EVAT. Based on reports of her alleged role as the conduit of senators and congressmen in misappropriating their pork barrel allocations or their priority development assistance fund, she and her connections in government get 30 per cent of the PDAF while the lawmakers under her scheme each get 70 per cent. Nothing is left for the constituents of the lawmakers involved in the scam. Why do people fall into the money trap to the point of risking loss of their honor, dignity and, yes, their very soul? History has not been scarce in stories of how too much money and excessive lifestyle have brought down people from

positions of power and glamor. The first that comes to mind was how France’s 18th century queen, Marie Antoinette, lived in such lavish and profligate lifestyle that she became the symbol of everything wrong with France’s reviled monarchy. When the starving people staged a revolution, she was arrested, tried and guillotined. Not too long ago, Col. Muamar Gaddafi who ruled Libya as a dictator for 40 years, was killed by his own people, his remains displayed in an ignominious way. His dictatorship was marked by his abuses and excessive lifestyle. We need not look too far, in fact. The family of former president Ferdinand E. Marcos lived a life of extravagance to the hilt until he was deposed and forced to flee. He died in a foreign land and faded in ignominy. Former president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, once the most powerful woman in Asia, is facing charges of plunder and is now confined to a public hospital serving as her prison walls. Military General Carlos Garcia whose wife and children also lived a pompous lifestyle; traveling first class and carrying bundles of dollars, also went down in shame and ignominy. Lessons are not easily learned, however. The most creative and criminallyminded men will always find ways to enrich themselves with money they did not work for, or earn. The biblical passage saying, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?” is a powerful warning but nonetheless ignored. And so, natural justice takes its course. They who abuse, steal, live in excess at the expense of others invariably fall from grace. And what is most tragic is that their rich friends and the famous people they hobnobbed with disown them and distance themselves from them. Their money and wealth will not mean anything as these cannot buy them back their lost honor and soul. They become the poorest rich persons—friendless, unhappy, humiliated and reviled. Is money the problem? Money does not destroy people, someone said. It only exposes people for what they really are. Truly, men with strong moral fiber will not trade their honor for wealth unearned. It is only those with weak moral foundations who succumb to temptations of illicit material gain. *** It is timely that the Legal Education Board, headed by Justice Hilarion Aquino, and the Philippine Association of Law Schools are mulling a significant change in

the curricula of law schools to produce lawyers who will have strong moral values and ethics. The plan is that legal ethics will no longer be taught as an independent subject. Legal ethics will be incorporated in all the subjects in law school. For instance, in the study of Remedial Law, law students will be made to apply the core principles of legal ethics in legal procedures. Students will be confronted with such questions as: Is it proper to coach witnesses to lie to put together a theory that will set a guilty offender free? Is it all right to coddle a client who is a fugitive from justice? May lawyers conceal evidence that is vital but damaging to their client? The formation of strong moral foundations in a person’s conscience begins at home; then in school. It is every parent’s and every teacher’s duty to teach moral values to the youth if we are to have a society of men who will choose integrity over illicit money or power. E-mail: Visit:‐poorest‐rich‐persons/                      

CA justice in ‘pork’ scam says signature was forged September 1, 2013 9:40 pm


A COURT of Appeals Associate magistrate wants the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to check the authenticity of the funds allocation documents he allegedly signed when he was still a lawmaker. Justice Danton Bueser, a former congressman from Laguna, denied allocating P9.6 million and P9.8 million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to the Philippine Environment and Economic Development Association (PEEDA) and the Aaron Foundation Philippines. Based on the Commission on Audit’s (COA) report on congressional pork barrel releases from 2007 to 2009, Bueser endorsed the release of funds to PEEDA and Aaron. Bueser believes his signatures were forged. “I have not made any endorsements to these organizations, much less transacted business with these entities,” he said. Aaron and PEEDA are among the 82 non-government organizations (NGOs) that received pork barrel funds, but are not in the list of groups that are linked to Janet Lim Napoles. Bueser, who was appointed Court of Appeals justice in 2009, admitted he was a member of the Court’s Special 2nd Division which empowered the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to examine the 430 bank accounts of the Napoles family, their associates and corporations involved in the pork barrel scam. He was also a member of the Court’s 4th Division which did not issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) for Napoles when she questioned the validity of the arrest warrant issued against her by the Makati Regional Trial Court. He said that he will inhibit from the case involving Napoles. “While it is true that I am a member of the Court of Appeals Divisions on the cases involving Janet Lim Napoles, records would show that our rulings are not favorable to her. To cast any doubt and speculations which could affect the dignity of the court and my credibility as a magistrate, I am recusing myself from handling these cases,” he said. DBM to blame Meanwhile, a lawmaker said the pork barrel inquiry should also include the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) because it is the agency that releases lawmakers’ PDAF. Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, secretary general of the United National Opposition, said the blame should not be heaped on the legislative department.

He said that if the DBM can withhold the pork barrel of lawmakers not perceived as “friends” of the administration, it should have been able to stop the release of PDAF to bogus organizations. Tiangco said the implementing agencies under the executive branch should also be held liable because it is their duty to make sure that the NGOs endorsed by the legislators were legitimate. “The controversy should not be blamed on legislators alone because the funds will not be released without the go-signal coming from the executive branch and the public should know this,” Tiangco said in a radio interview. He explained that the DBM has the authority to suspend the release of PDAF or deny the PDAF release request of lawmakers if it wanted to, like in the case of former Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay. From 2011 to 2013, the budget agency withheld the P70-million PDAF allocation of Magsaysay despite her repeated requests for its release. Tiangco also questioned the DBM’s sincerity in following the “tuwid na daan” (straight path) campaign of the Aquino administration, noting that the agency continued to release funds to questionable government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs). Tiangco was referring to the revelation of COA Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan of PDAF releases to Philforest from 2011 to 2012. PhilForest, he said, is in the list of questionable GOCCs in the COA report but the DBM did not stop the release of funds to the group.                      

Repeal immunity law, VACC chief urges Congress September 1, 2013 9:37 pm


AN anti-crime advocacy group urged Congress to repeal a 38-year-old law that grants immunity to people who give bribes to prevent Janet Lim Napoles, the woman in the center of the pork barrel controversy, from hiding behind this law. Dante Jimenez, Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) founding chairman, said Congress should repeal PD 749 which grants immunity from prosecution to bribe givers if they testify against government officials who received the bribe. Jimenez said that since the idea of making Napoles a state witness received strong objections, some officials who want to help her may think of some other way to save her. “Fairness and justice would require that in the present circumstances, lawmakers and private individuals alike, if the accusations were true, should be held accountable for the thievery and plunder committed against the Filipino people,” he said. He pointed out that Napoles, the reported mastermind of the pork scam and “the worst abuser of the pork barrel system” should be held liable. Jimenez said the special law, which was signed by former President Ferdinand Marcos, should have long been amended because it might prevent the Filipino people from obtaining genuine justice. He also criticized the transfer of Napoles from the Makati City Jail to Fort Santo Domingo in Sta. Rosa Laguna, saying it clearly shows the special treatment being accorded Napoles. Jimenez said that instead of detaining her at the Makati jail which is near the Makati City Regional Trial Court where she was charged, the government allowed her to be transferred to Laguna that will even require additional funding for security and transportation. He pointed out that the facility where Napoles is staying is not a jail cell but a bungalow, a privilege which is denied ordinary inmates. “Is this the message the government wants to send to the public, that if you steal P10 billion you will also receive special treatment?” Jimenez said.          

DBM cover-up in COA ‘s pork barrel report September 1, 2013 9:22 pm


Imagine if the school principal clamps down on cheating by this class of 24 students, which had become an open secret on campus. An investigator is called and asks for the exam papers for him to pin down the cheating. The teacher submits only the documents for this particular gang of four he doesn’t like, and simply ignores the investigator’s demand to provide him with the exam papers of the others. True enough, the papers show the gang of four cheating, and there’s a mob raised to go against them. Everyone forgets that the rest of the 21 most probably were cheaters too. The teacher just didn’t provide the investigator with their papers.

Source: COA, Special Audits Office, Report No. 2012-03

That’s exactly what the Commission on Audit’s controversial report on legislators’ pork barrel involves. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) refused to provide the auditors the documents involving certain legislators, most likely allies and supporters of President Aquino. Let’s be clear what the COA’s audit of the pork-barrel funds, officially called the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), is. It is a special audit on the use of the PDAF by both houses of Congress for the years 2007 up to 2009. The audit was undertaken from June 15, 2010 to September 13, 2012 during which period President Aquino’s ideologue Florencio Abad headed the budget and management department, which kept the records on the disbursement so the pork barrel funds.

The COA report itself complained about a big obstacle to its special audit: “The DBM could not provide the team, despite repeated requests, with complete schedule of releases per legislator from PDAF for soft projects . . .” (page 5). And how much of the total PDAF releases of P29 billion during the period was the COA able to get data and documents on? It received documents from DBM tracking how the pork-barrel funds were actually reimbursed covering only P8.4 billion, or 29 percent of the PDAF released. As the COA report’s paragraph “e” on page 1 put it: “Out of the total releases gathered by the Team, P8.374 Billion . . . (See Table 7) out of PDAF were covered in the Audit.” So how was the remaining P21 billion, or 71 percent of the total pork barrel used? We don’t have an idea. As the COA put it, the DBM simply did not provide data on these “despite repeated requests.” To call a spade a spade, there was cover-up by the DBM on certain legislators’ pork-barrel use. A recent report by the Philippine Star is worrying, that allegedly pork-barrel scam operator Janet Lim-Napoles had destroyed her documents in January that could have linked politicians to her racket. Could a similar, parallel operation have been done in the DBM, so records on the use of PDAF disbursements for certain senators especially would forever be lost? It is just too coincidental that the senators whose pork barrel were audited by the COA, which found gross misuse and even fund malversation, were nearly all those in the opposition or those who are presidential or vice presidential timber for 2016: Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Gregorio Honasan, Ramon Revilla and Lito Lapid. It’s a brilliant move by Aquino’s operators. How can Enrile and company defend themselves by just claiming, “Why only us?”. Other than Senator Edgardo Angara, the COA audit did not have any data (or very little data) on the following senators of that period to evaluate whether or not they properly used their PDAF: Mar Roxas, Rodolfo Biazon, Alan Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda and Antonio Trillianes. The most glaring omission of course involves the pork-barrel data on Mr. Aquino, who was a senator during that period. The report did not have any amount listed for his PDAF. Aquino though has never claimed that he didn’t touch his pork barrel allocations. Only two senators are known to have refused any PDAF money: Joker Arroyo and Panfilo Lacson. The COA also reported: “The Audit covered releases by the DBM Central Office and Regional Offices Nos. III, V, XI and National Capital Region and utilization of funds and implementation of projects during CYs 2007 to 2009.” It also listed the three implementing agencies it investigated, which consisted of three departments, four state firms, nine cities and municipalities, and four provincial governments. How did the COA choose these implementing agencies which it audited? At random? Or was it tipped that pork-barrel misuse by Enrile’s gang was rampant in these state entities? Why did it choose for instance to investigate the National Agribusiness Corp. and

Zamboanga del Norte Agricultural College Rubber Estate Corp., entities few people—I would think even COA officials—even knew existed? Or did the DBM and Aquino’s strategists already undertake their own probe and found that these entities were the favorite venues of Enrile and company to siphon off into their pockets pork barrel funds? Consider the regions the COA decided to investigate: III (Central Luzon), V (Bicol). XI (Davao) and the National Capital Region. Why weren’t the bailiwick region of Liberal Party leaders Franklin Drilon and Mar Roxas—which is Region VI (Western Visayas)—included in the COA’s probe? It is the fact that the COA report was based on documents which DBM head Abad chose which destroys its credibility. This wouldn’t be a problem if the audit were entirely a diagnostic tool for the COA to tighten up its auditors’ protocols and procedures. But it just hasn’t been so. The COA audit did expose how legislators have been stealing taxpayers’ money, consequently igniting people’s outrage calling for its total abolition. That’s certainly a laudable accomplishment. But the COA report obviously has also become a political tool for destroying—validly or not—the prestige of the opposition’s leaders, seriously weakening them in their bid to take over power in 2016. That’s not how a nation should build its institutions. That the COA has become partisan, rather than sticking to its constitutional mandate as an independent body, was obvious in last week’s Senate hearing. COA chair Grace Pulido-Tan nearly gleefully testified that “based on the COA’s report,” senators Enrile, Honasan, Revilla and Lapid allocated pork-barrel amounts to dubious “eight NGOs linked to Janet Lim-Napoles,” widely believed now to have headed a scam for lawmakers to pocket the PDAF funds. But the COA report had no reference at all to a “Janet Lim-Napoles.” What the COA report had data on was on Benhur Luy, whom its auditors found was president in one NGO and director in another both of which appeared ghost entities but which received substantial pork barrel fund. Yes, Luy had been linked to Napoles, that he was her staff who accused her of running the pork barrel racket. But that is according to the newspapers which broke the mammoth racket, which based its reportage on claims of Luy and other alleged whistle-blowers. So far there isn’t any other confirmation of those allegations. Luy’s claim may likely prove accurate, but his allegations regarding Lim aren’t in the COA report. Would you consider professional an auditor who refers to a newspaper report as a basis for her audit of your company? By testifying in the Senate that the COA report found that several senators were linked to “Janet Lim-Napoles,” Tan was technically lying, as Napoles’ name didn’t appear anywhere in the report. She has become a partisan in this controversy, and sadly has transformed the COA—which like the Supreme Court is supposed to be above the fray—into a political weapon. It has become another institution politicized and damaged by this administration.  

Philippines shedding ‘Asia’s Stray Cat’ image September 1, 2013 6:03 pm


The Philippines is beginning to shed its image as “Asia’s Stray Cat,” as it is now joining the rest of the pack of Asia’s emerging tiger economies, a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) official said. “This cat is beginning to let the world hear its mighty roar,” BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said in a forum titled “Bloomberg’s Quantitative Easing and Currency Volatility—What’s Next for Asean?” Asean is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Guinigundo said that the country’s advantage over the other emerging markets is its solid economic fundamentals. He cited the country’s robust gross domestic product (GDP), which grew 7.5 percent for the second quarter, and the manageable inflation that is within the government’s 3-percent to 5-percent target. “We call this sweet convergence of high growth and low inflation. To a large extent, this was on account of the expansion in the country’s potential capacity,” Guinigundo said. The BSP official also noted that the Philippines posted a balance of payments surplus of $1.5 billion in the first quarter, and the country’s total reserves reached $82.9 billion as of end-July, which is equivalent to a year’s worth of imports of goods and payments of services and income. “This shows that the Philippines possesses sufficient reserves ride out any turbulent period that we may encounter,” he said. Furthermore, Guinigundo mentioned that “the country’s stable banking system is as sound as the banking sector is growing steadily and thus, creating a firm base for domestic retail funding.” He also assured that the system is amply capitalized and there is enough liquidity in the market. “This strength of the banking sector encourage the BSP to be confident that the country will have no difficulty form the early adoption of the capital requirements of the Basel III by January 2014,” Guinigundo said. Challenges The BSP deputy governor also said that it is important for the Philippines and the rest of Asean to be cautious of the challenges the expected unwinding of the United States Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing (QE) program and the three-speed global growth may post. “The anticipated Fed exit from its QE program would tighten the United States’ monetary conditions that will spur the repricing of assets and rebalancing of portfolios, which may result in the outflow of capital from emerging market economies—now under siege form threats of flow reversals,” Guinigundo explained. Meanwhile, he added that global growth is still on “three speeds but slower,” noting that the economic developments in Asia, US and the eurozone.

“These are global developments that we must carefully monitor—in particular, if the US and eurozone can sustain their respective growth paths and subsequent recoveries,” Guinigundo said. He warned that if not managed carefully, the said risks may undermine the region’s financial and economic stability that it is presently enjoying. Amid the risks and challenges, Guinigundo assured that the BSP remains committed to maintaining good communication with the financial markets.                                        

Market to track local, overseas leads September 1, 2013 6:03 pm


After a rather unpredictable week, the local stock market is now seen caught between the development of several local and overseas leads, which could either bring the benchmark index to another correction or a further recovery. Jun Calaycay, Accord Capital Equities Corp. analyst, said that in so far as external influences are concerned, focus will be on three major issues—the debt ceiling debates, the US Federal Reserve tapering and the Syrian conflict. While in the local stage, Calaycay pointed out that the pork barrel investigation can lend some uncertainties with respect to government spending. “Nonetheless, the results of the first six months bear out that government’s under-spending has had little impact on the robust numbers, so far,” he added. Heading into the closing month of the third quarter, Calaycay noted that the market’s direction remains consistent with estimates and projections made at the beginning of the year. On Friday, Philippine shares concluded the week with sustained resurgence, even tapping the 6,000-point level anew amid local leads. “Gross domestic product is above target, inflation is contained, remittances continued to expand, gross international reserves at record levels, among others,” Calaycay cited. On Thursday, the country’s second-quarter gross domestic product growth of 7.5 percent helped the market pull off a quick recovery, after having been through steep declines during the early part of the week. After wiping out year-to-date gains on Tuesday and Wednesday, 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.            

Rice QR negotiations extension seen by Oct. September 1, 2013 6:02 pm


The government hopes to conclude by October this year the negotiations for the extension of the country’s quantitative restriction (QR) on rice, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said. DA Assistant Secretary Romeo Recide, co-lead negotiator for the Philippine mission, said that the agency wants to finish negotiations within the next two months in time for the submission of their report to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Committee on Trade and Goods. “WTO asked us to continue negotiations with countries interested in our QR, and to report on the progress of negotiations this October,” Recide said. “If it is positive, and if there’s an endorsement from the WTO Committee, it will go back to the General Council. Once officially approved, by 2014, we would be implementing or we should be operating under a new QR extension,” he added. Manila has been consistently lobbying with its Southeast Asian neighbors and other major trade partners, citing the need to prepare Filipino farmers for international trade and to achieve rice selfsufficiency. An extension of the quantitative restriction will allow the Philippines to limit the volume of rice that can be imported by the government every year, preventing the influx of cheap rice from other countries. The government earlier said that it is asking for a five-year extension, but may only get another three-year extension like that of South Korea. “But we have stressed to interested countries and the WTO that our QR extension should be at least until 2017,” Recide said.              

Posted on September 01, 2013 10:59:12 PM

Concerns raised over latest PPP delays   THE TRANSPORTATION department’s public-private partnership (PPP) thrust needs to be reviewed following three problematic auctions, business leaders said, if the Aquino administration’s centerpiece infrastructure program is to move forward.

  “It is time to review the failures and design a new concept,” European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) Vice-President Henry J. Schumacher told BusinessWorld in a text message late on Friday. “ECCP feels that the PPP model designed by the DoTC (Department of Transportation and Communications) obviously does not work,” he added. Bidding for the P60-billion Light Rail Transit 1 (LRT-1) extension project -- the biggest PPP to date -- failed last Aug. 15 after three of the four pre-qualified groups backed out and the sole participant made a conditional offer. Commercial concerns were said to be the primary reason and the department is now in the process of revising the concession agreement. The P17.2-billion Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) rehabilitation project and the P1.72-billion automated fare collection system (AFCS) for Metro Manila’s light railways were also deferred just days before the scheduled Aug. 28 and 30 auctions, respectively, given the need to “finalize” the attached contracts. Issues that surfaced late in the bidding stage included real property taxes (for both the LRT-1 and MCIA projects), guaranteed fare increases (LRT-1) and the “delineation” of roles and obligations (the AFCS). New auction dates have yet to be set, although officials have raised a “mid-October” possibility. “[What is] important is that investors must be allowed to make a profit. Without profit, nobody is going to provide fund and take risk. DoTC has to understand that making profit is not a sin,” Mr. Schumacher noted. The Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC), of which the ECCP is a member, last month expressed concern following the LRT-1 auction. “JFC urges the government to ensure that this project and all PPPs are commercially attractive and viable, both in terms of risk and reward,” it said. In a separate text message last Friday, Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) President Melito S. Salazar said: “We are disappointed given the need for PPP projects to take off without further delays”. “The government should pave the way for the proliferation of successful PPP projects in the country in order to send a positive signal to foreign investors that the Philippines is indeed a good investment destination.” Mr. Salazar also claimed that the Transportation department was apparently disinterested in meeting with his organization.

“The fact that the secretary (Joseph Emilio A. Abaya) has not met with us was initially thought ... as due to his intense involvement in the last elections. But after the elections, still there has been no meeting. It makes us think that he is not keen in sharing and learning with us or even partnering with the private sector -- yet this is the core of PPP [program],” he said. “A meeting with the secretary would lead to an identification of the reasons of the delay. We in the private sector can then help solve these impediments.” The Transportation department’s Mr. Abaya, for his part, said “nothing went wrong” with regard to the three projects. “It’s just the nature of the PPP. It is really a sophisticated negotiation process ending in a competitive bid,” he said in a text message. The delays, the Transportation chief claimed, can be blamed on both the government and the private sector, the former needing to tweak contracts “after arduous discussions with bidders” and the latter requesting “to postpone bids to further study or fine-tune their bids”. “In Mactan-Cebu and AFCS almost all are requesting a longer period of time,” he noted. “Why will they feel bad when they are the ones requesting postponement or more time? They should feel bad if we don’t listen and just push through with the bid ... In such a scenario, government runs the risk of losing [the] bidding or [having] no bidder at all.” PPP Center Executive Director Cosette V. Canilao has said that project timetables are just a “tool” that can be adjusted. “In PPP projects, the issues are addressed up front, which means that the contract design is an interactive process between the implementing agency and the bidders,” she said. “Implementing agencies have a working timeline, but that timeline is a project management tool...,” Ms. Canilao added. Mr. Abaya, who did not respond to Mr. Salazar’s claim of not being consulted, said the government was moving to address investor concerns. “On LRT-1 we are going to the NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) Board to get clearance for changes,” he said, declining to provide more details. So far, only three PPP projects have been successfully auctioned off since the centerpiece program was launched in late 2010: • the P1.96-billion Daang Hari-South Luzon Expressway Link, awarded to Ayala Corp. in December 2011; • the P16.42-billion PPP School Infrastructure Project Phase One, granted in September last year to the Citicore Holdings Investment, Inc.-Megawide and BF Corp.-Riverbanks Development Corp. consortiums; and • the P15.8-billion Ninoy Aquino International Expressway project, which was won by a unit of San Miguel Corp. last May.Initial delays were blamed by the government on the need for extensive project reviews that would make for attractive and ironclad deals. -- Lorenz Christoffer S. Marasigan‐raised‐over‐latest‐PPP‐ delays&id=75846

Posted on September 01, 2013 10:58:22 PM

BSP exec says policy still appropriate   MONETARY POLICY remains appropriate amid renewed market volatility, a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) official said, as it has produced a combination of favorable macroeconomic conditions.

  “[H]as growth slowed down? No. Is inflation accelerating?” central bank deputy governor Diwa C. Guinigundo said on Friday. “Do we have a weak banking system? No, our banks are strong and stable. We also don’t see the economy overheating,” he added. Emerging markets, the Philippines included, have been hit by capital flows in recent days. Local declines, however, were arrested following news that the Philippine economy expanded by a stronger-than-expected 7.5% the second quarter. Inflation, meanwhile, remains benign, averaging 2.9% as of July and just below the BSP’s 3%-5% target. August data is scheduled to be released this Thursday and the BSP expects the pace to have fallen to the 1.9%-2.7% range. Monetary authorities, said Mr. Guinigundo, remain watchful and will act promptly to support the economy. The BSP’s overnight borrowing and lending rates have been kept at 3.5% and 5.5%, respectively, since October 2012. These will be reviewed anew on Sept. 12.‐exec‐says‐policy‐still‐ appropriate&id=75844              

Posted on September 01, 2013 10:57:26 PM

BIR to start setting estate tax collection targets   THE BUREAU of Internal Revenue (BIR) will start setting estate tax collection targets next year as it bids to expand its revenue base.

  “The target is about P50 billion from now... up to 2016,” BIR Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares told reporters last week. “We will start setting annual targets by 2014,” she added. Estate taxes -- levied on inherited assets -- have been tagged as an area that can be tapped for additional tax revenues. Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima has said that rising asset prices should mean more collections, but the BIR’s annual take has always ranged between P850 million to P1 billion. Mr. Purisima said the long-term goal was to bring this up to P50 billion annually. “Of course we can reach it,” Ms. Jacinto-Henares said. “Property values increase, people get richer, so ideally estate taxes will increase.” Ongoing initiatives will support the goal of improving estate tax collections, she added. “We coordinate with the NSO (National Statistics Office) for death certificates. They report to us,” she said. “I made a statement earlier this year that the bank secrecy law do not apply to estate taxes, so we’ve started asking for statements from banks ... that’s a new procedure that’s ongoing.” In June, Ms. Jacinto-Henares said the BIR wanted to review the bank statements of people who had died over the last five years to see if the estate taxes filed were accurate. The Philippines has several bank secrecy laws, like Republic Act 1405 or the Law on the Secrecy of Bank Deposits, which states that accounts cannot be disclosed by banks and may not be examined except upon written permission of the depositor or if the money involved is the subject of litigation. Under RA 10021 or the Exchange of Information on Tax Matters Act of 2009, on the other hand, the BIR commissioner has the authority to inquire into bank deposits of a deceased person to determine his gross estate.The BIR is the government’s main revenue agency. As of July it had collected P693.811 billion, up 14.74% year on year. It is tasked to collect P1.253 trillion this year. --Bettina Faye V. Roc‐to‐start‐setting‐estate‐tax‐ collection‐targets&id=75842  

Posted on September 01, 2013 09:00:06 PM

Syria adds to peso woes   THE PESO is expected to be range-bound this week, with its movement against the greenback to depend on external developments.

  The local currency finished at P44.605 per dollar last Friday, 34.5 centavos weaker than its P44.26-a-dollar close the week before. The peso is expected to trade within the P44.35- to P44.75-per-dollar range this week. “The peso’s performance will depend on developments in Syria,” a trader said in a phone interview. Investors have been shunning risky assets, including the peso, amid brewing geopolitical tensions in Syria. This added pressure on financial markets already bracing for the impending unwinding of the US Federal Reserve’s $85-billion monthly bond-buying program. The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad allegedly orchestrated a chemical attack on a rebelheld suburb outside Damascus last month, killing and injuring over a thousand people. US President Barack Obama has condemned the attack, calling it an “assault on human dignity.” Yesterday, he called on the United States to “take military action against Syrian regime targets.” Mr. Obama is seeking approval from the US Congress for any military action. The administration and legislators are expected to schedule a debate and vote as soon as Congress reopens next Monday. Meanwhile, another trader said the market will watch out for the release of US non-farm payrolls for August, scheduled to be released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday night, Manila time. Non-farm payrolls, which account for all paid labor in the US outside of the government, non-profit, household and farm sectors, is a key indicator of economic recovery. The state of employment will likely be a key consideration of the Fed when it holds its policy meeting on September 17-18. The US central bank has said it could dial back its bond buys within this year if the economy shows signs of recovery. The market widely expects the taper to start this month. The latest non-farm payrolls were not so promising. Only 162,000 new jobs were created in July, below the market’s forecast of 175,000. It worsened from the 188,000 new jobs in June, revised down from 195,000. Unemployment, however, improved to 7.4% in July, the lowest since December 2008. It beat the forecast of 7.5% and the June result of 7.6%. The Fed aims to bring down unemployment to 6.5%. CURRENCY ROUT Meanwhile, India is seeking support from other emerging markets for coordinated intervention in offshore foreign exchange markets after a currency rout the past three months. Concern about the end of cheap dollars from the Fed’s stimulus program has prompted a massive capital flight toward dollar-denominated assets. The rout has been compounded by short-seller attacks in offshore

trading centers. “It is now time to stop,” Dipak Dasgupta, the Indian finance ministry’s principal economic adviser, said last Friday, referring to speculative behavior in offshore markets. “It is going to happen in a matter of days rather than weeks,” Mr. Dasgupta said. “Brazil and India can start the move.” Brazil, though, has rejected outright involvement. Mexico and Russia, two other key developing nations, had no comment. Brazilian finance minister Guido Mantega said the BRICS group -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- is instead working to create a joint bank and a joint reserve fund. -- Ann Rozainne R. Gregorio and Reuters‐adds‐to‐peso‐woes&id=75808                                

Posted on September 01, 2013 08:57:46 PM

T-bill rates seen to rise at auction   INTEREST RATES of short-term government securities are expected to spike in today’s auction as market players continue to be risk-averse due to the looming tapering of the US Federal Reserve’s bond-buying program.

  Bond traders interviewed by phone last Friday said rates of the 91-, 182- and one-year Treasury bills are expected to rise by 10 to 15 basis points (bps) at the auction. “We are looking at an upward bias of 10 to 15 bps across all tenors as bids for [this] week’s auction may align with the current market levels,” a trader said. During the last T-bills auction on August 1 -- when the Bureau of the Treasury raised only P13.85 billion, less than the planned P20 billion -- the three-month papers fetched 0.589%; the six month papers, 0.897%; and the one-year papers, 0.933%. At the secondary market last Friday, both the 91-day and 182-day T-bills were quoted at 1.25%, while the one-year paper fetched 1.5%. Another trader said, “Reasons for the upticks in rates are the negative sentiment stemming for the Fed’s plan of possibly starting to taper [this] month. As a result, funds may continue to sell emerging market assets and flow back to developed markets.” Yields at the secondary market have been rising on the back of fears the Fed will soon announce the unwinding of its stimulus, an $85-billion monthly bond-buying program, with the US economy on the up. Yields have increased by an average of 1.05 bps week-on-week, data from the Philippine Dealing & Exchange Corp. showed. “Market players will remain defensive as they await for more concrete developments on the Fed’s tapering of its quantitative easing program,” the first trader said. The trader added that concerns over slowing growth and weakening fundamentals in emerging markets in Asia also weighed on both government securities’ yields and the local currency. Total tenders for the T-bills are expected to reach at least 1.2 times the government’s P20 billion offer. -Ann Rozainne R. Gregorio‐bill‐rates‐seen‐to‐rise‐at‐ auction&id=75807    

Posted on September 01, 2013 08:56:46 PM

Debt yields flat despite strong Q2 growth   DEBT YIELDS at the secondary bond market were flat last week, with Middle East tensions and fears the US Federal Reserve will start scaling back its multibillion stimulus this month curbing the exuberance stemming from the country’s robust growth in the second quarter.


  Data from the Philippine Dealing & Exchange Corp. (PDEx) as of August 30 showed yields inching up by 1.05 basis points (bps) on the average week-on-week. According to bond traders, sentiment stayed sour despite the government’s announcement last Thursday of a 7.5% gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate in the second quarter, which exceeded market expectations of 7.2%.

“Although the country’s fundamentals remained strong, investors still stayed on the sidelines to look for clues on whether the Federal Reserve will reduce its bond buys,” a bond trader said. Deanno J. Basas, ATR KimEng Asset Management investment director for fixed-income securities, agreed. He said, “Activity has been quite low lately because the market is still waiting for news about the Fed’s decision.” During the Fed’s July 30-31 meeting, some members of the policy-making Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) pushed for a reduction in the US central bank’s $85 billion in monthly bond purchases. The FOMC will again meet on September 17-18, with its announcement after highly anticipated by the market. Mr. Basas said that while the stock market was able to recover the losses made early last week due to the GDP announcement, the effect on the bond market was negligible. He and the bond trader said investors focused more on developments abroad, including possible US military action against Syria, which was suspected of having used chemical weapons to kill thousands of civilians last month. The 25-year Treasury bond jumped the most last week, adding 16.40 bps to fetch 5.0538%, followed by the two-year security, which rose by 11.88 bps to yield 2.6250%. Papers maturing in 182 days and by four and 20 years climbed by 10.00 bps, 10.66 bps and 7.48 bps, respectively. However, the rest of the papers at the belly of the curve dropped, with bonds maturing in three and five years losing a hefty 25.06 bps and 19.75 bps, respectively, to give 2.1244% and 2.8025%. The 10-year T-bond was flat, shedding just 0.05 bps to fetch 3.4429%. The 91- and 364-day Treasury bills, as well as the seven-year paper, were unchanged, yielding 1.2500%, 1.5000% and 3.3750%, respectively. For this week, Mr. Basas said “the trend will continue as the market is very cautious about moving up due to external factors and expectations of rising interest rates.” --Kayzee Lynn C. Santiago            

Posted on September 01, 2013 08:52:56 PM

EU banking system still not safe   FRANKFURT -- Five years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the European financial system is still not equipped to cope with a bank failure of a similar magnitude, Bundesbank board member Andreas Dombret told Reuters.

  The bankruptcy of US investment bank Lehman in September 2008 plunged the global financial system into crisis, leading to a raft of new rules aimed at making banks’ business less risky to avoid taxpayer-funded rescues. Some progress had been made and the system is now safer than in 2008 but implementation is slow, said Mr. Dombret, who is in charge of financial stability on the German central bank’s board. “If we had a Lehman 2.0 tomorrow, which I don’t see, we still wouldn’t hold the tools we designed to wind down banks globally effectively in our hands,” Mr. Dombret said. It was too early to give the all-clear because the root of the crisis had still not been addressed, he added. “More than anything, we have bought time with a number of unconventional measures. That’s why financial markets are currently calm, but it doesn’t have to stay like that forever.” The European Central Bank’s (ECB) vow a year ago to do “whatever it takes” to preserve the single currency, the euro, took some heat out of the debt crisis, but it also eased pressure on struggling euro zone countries to reform. As a result, Mr. Dombret singled out the European sovereign debt crisis as the main risk to financial stability. The link between troubled banks and indebted governments was still too strong, he said. A banking union project aims to address this, but Mr. Dombret also reiterated the Bundesbank’s plea to back banks’ sovereign debt holdings with sufficient capital. Such holdings are still treated as risk-free investments in the global regulatory framework, called Basel III. He also warned that low interest rates could lead to asset bubbles as seen in the past. He added, though, that he saw no risk of that happening so far in Germany. Mr. Dombret’s comments come as G20 leaders are set to meet on September 5-6 in Russia, where they are expected to reiterate their pledge to implement the new global rules for banks -- the Basel III framework. Banks are coming under pressure in Britain, the United States and Switzerland to comply earlier with some Basel III elements, in particular the leverage ratio, the limit on balance sheet size relative to

capital held. Mr. Dombret warned against overestimating the leverage ratio. “It is impossible to regulate a complex game with a single rule. That would be neither just nor fair. The significance of the leverage ratio is limited. I still believe in the basic principle of risk weighting,” he said. NOT ENTIRELY HAPPY Mr. Dombret was in charge of Bank of America’s business in Germany, Austria and Switzerland at the time Lehman collapsed and he said since then, a lot had improved in the industry. Banks had started to build up their capital buffers and to cut down on leverage, the market had become more transparent and the mentality of bankers and regulators alike had changed, becoming more risk-aware. Nonetheless, he said he was not satisfied with the progress on efforts to get banks under control that are too big to fail without disrupting the financial system, as Lehman did. The shockwave could be felt across the globe. “I’m not entirely happy with the implementation of the already agreed regulatory measures. There is no room for complacency,” Mr. Dombret said. It was key now to establish a single mechanism to wind down non-viable banks and in the euro zone such a system should be in place when the single bank supervisor under the roof of the ECB starts operating next year, Mr. Dombret said. “Otherwise there won’t be a credible threat of force at the start of the banking union,” he said, adding that a new European institution should take on the task eventually and until such a body was in place, an interim solution had to be found. – Reuters‐banking‐system‐still‐not‐ safe&id=75805                  

Posted on September 01, 2013 09:45:57 PM

Firms drawn to ex-base lands   PRE-BID conferences held last week for the sale of a commercial lot near Bonifacio Global City and two parcels of land alongside Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) attracted a number of companies, an official of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) said in a text message over the weekend.

  BCDA is the state agency entrusted with the development, management and sale of former US base lands and areas no longer used by the Philippine military. BCDA Head for Asset Disposition Nena D. Radoc identified the parties interested in developing the 5,225square-meter Pamayanang Diego Silang commercial lot in Brgy. Ususan, Taguig City as “Robinson’s Land (Corp.), Filinvest (Land, Inc.), and R-II Builders (Inc.).” She said all three bought bid documents, including terms of reference, for a non-refundable fee of P100,000 at the pre-bid conference last Friday. Asked on the two separate two-hectare areas alongside SCTEx, Ms. Radoc said in the same text that 10 firms expressed their interest at a separate pre-bid conference held on Aug. 27. Asked to identify the companies, Ms. Radoc described them only as “a mix of oil players and various companies,” without elaborating. She had earlier said the commercial lot will be sold “on an as-is-where-is basis because there are informal settlers in the area as well as an office.” She explained by phone yesterday that the lease agreement will run for 25 years, renewable for another 25. Floor price has been set at P53 million, representing annual lease payment, she added. The winning bidder, however, will be entitled to a concessional lease payment totaling P93 million for the first three years. Opening of bids is scheduled for Sept. 26. The two service areas alongside SCTEx will also involve a long-term lease. Both areas are expected to cater to establishments like gasoline stations, convenience stores and restaurants, complete with public toilets and emergency service facilities. The minimum lease amount is P2.24 million per area. “Due to requests, we are extending the deadline for submission of bids from Sept. 6 to Sept. 10,” Ms. Radoc said yesterday.The 94-kilometer SCTEx, which opened in 2008, was built by BCDA at a cost of P34.907 billion, 78% of which was funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, according to the state agency’s Web site. -- D. E. D. Saclag‐drawn‐to‐ex‐base‐lands‐ &id=75821

Posted on September 01, 2013 09:42:57 PM

Swift Foods to review business plans   LISTED Swift Foods, Inc. will review business prospects after paying off all debts by yearend, a company official said last Thursday.

  “We are basically paring down our debts. Hopefully, we could complete that within the year,” Treasurer Francisco A. Segovia said after the firm called off its annual stockholders’ meeting in Mandaluyong City due to lack of quorum. Mr. Segovia said around 94% of its “P800 million-plus” obligations have been paid. Citing Southeast Asia economic integration in 2015 that will see elimination of cross-border barriers, Mr. Segovia said “goods will come and go without any duties, and how will that impact businesses here remains to be seen.” Swift Foods produces only Swift Sariwanok chicken, after transferring to RFM Corp. in 2001 its meat-processing business, which was then sold last year to Century Pacific Group for P850 million. “Growing chickens is high risk. If we cannot grow them cheaper than Thailand, we will never be able to compete,” Mr. Segovia explained. -- C. H. C. Venzon‐Foods‐to‐review‐business‐ plans&id=75818              

Posted on September 01, 2013 10:02:56 PM

BIR wants liquor tax stamps   THE BUREAU of Internal Revenue (BIR) wants to expand its security tax stamp project to cover distilled spirits by next year, in compliance with the new “sin” tax law signed in 2012, an official said last week.

  “After we roll out the stamp tax for cigarettes, we want to include distilled spirits. When the system is stabilized and we have more or less firmed up the implementation of the project for cigarettes, then we add distilled spirits,” BIR Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares told reporters last week in an interview. “We will be able to fully implement the stamp on cigarettes by April next year after we bid it out this year. So, after that will be distilled spirits,” Ms. Jacinto-Henares said. Last month, the government formally opened the bidding process for a P1.75-billion contract to supply the security technology for the Internal Revenue Stamps Integrated System (IRSIS) project to aid in monitoring the supply and sale of tobacco products. Official tax stamps on products signify that all tax obligations of the manufacturer have been paid. The bid documents for the IRSIS showed that the approved budget is for a five-year contract, under which the chosen contractor will deliver an estimated 3.5 billion stamps annually. The bidding is open to all interested firms, whether local or foreign. The deadline for submission of bids, earlier set for Aug. 22, has been moved to Sept. 5, a bid bulletin on the Web site of APO Production Unit, Inc. showed. “Under the new ‘sin’ tax law, we required security stamps for distilled spirits -- so that means all alcohol products except beer. What we want to do is, the firm who will win the tax stamp project for cigarettes will also handle the stamps for distilled spirits,” Ms. Jacinto-Henares explained. “Under the contract we’re bidding out for cigarettes, the contractor will need to produce about 350 million stamps per year. So that volume will just increase when the distilled spirits are covered,” she said. The tax bureau may also place additional orders if it wants to implement the use of security stamps for other products aside from cigarettes and alcohol, the BIR chief added. “It’s to monitor the supply and sale of these products. Like if firms say a certain volume was withdrawn, we want to see if this is really what was withdrawn, if they’re declaring that correctly,” Ms. Jacinto-Henares said. Products subject to excise taxes are taxed upon withdrawal from their assigned Customs facility, if imported, or upon removal from the place of manufacturing, if locally produced.

In April, the BIR said it was tapping APO Production Unit -- a state-run printing services firm under the Presidential Communication Operations Office -- to run the tax stamp project as the stamps are considered “accountable forms”. Under Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the government’s procurement law, agencies requiring any printing of accountable forms must avail of the services of the state-run Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, National Printing Office, or the APO Production Unit. President Benigno S. C. Aquino III signed Republic Act 10351 or the Sin Tax Reform Act of 2012 into law last December. The measure, which restructures the excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco products, took effect this past Jan. 1. The act sets two tiers both for tobacco products and fermented liquor, which will gradually increase to settle at a single rate by 2017, and a combination of ad valorem and specific tax for distilled spirits. It is expected to generate P33.96 billion in fresh revenues this year, the bulk of which, or P23.4 billion, would come from tobacco products, while the remaining P4.5 billion and P6.06 billion would come from fermented liquor and distilled spirits, respectively. As of June, the BIR’s collections of excise taxes on “sin” products reached P38.54 billion, 46.04% more than the P26.39 billion recorded in the first semester last year. Of this amount, excise tax collections from tobacco products chipped in P22.38 billion, 53.14% higher year-on-year, while collections from alcohol products grew by 37.27% to P16.16 billion in the period. - Bettina Faye V. Roc‐wants‐liquor‐tax‐ stamps&id=75840                  

Posted on September 01, 2013 10:01:55 PM

Small, medium retailers air concerns   SMALL and medium local retailers met last week at a two-day conference in Clark, Pampanga, to discuss issues confronting the retail industry.

  The conference, tagged “The Era of Retail Giants: The Saga Continues,” was held Aug. 2930 and was organized by the Philippine Association of Supermarkets, Inc. (PASI). Topping the list of concerns the retailers raised was suggested retail price (SRP), or the price manufacturers recommend to sell a product. “SRPs have drastically affected our cost of doing business,” said PASI President and CVC Supermarket’s Chief Operating Officer Carlos V. Cabochan. “It’s supposed to be a recommended price, but it seems to have become mandatory,” he added. “Consumers insist that the SRP be the actual price, and when we (retailers) go beyond the SRP, they accuse us of overpricing.” Mr. Cabochan said that taxes and mandatory discounts for senior citizens already cost retailers a lot, so he hopes that the government will eventually remove SRPs. Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba, head of the Consumer Welfare and Business Regulation Group under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), disagreed with Mr. Cabochan and said that it is competition among retailers themselves that drive down prices. “SRPs already have a margin. They are higher than the actual cost of producing a product. But, there is competition in the market. There are many players driving down prices. So even if SRPs are not mandatory, when you go beyond them, it is already considered overpricing,” said Mr. Dimagiba. SRPs are provided for in Republic Act No. 7581, or the Price Act of 1991. Under the law, the government must ensure that basic necessities are sold at reasonable prices at all times but without denying businesses a fair return on investment. Aside from SRPs, another concern raised was the competition against bigger retailers such

as Puregold, Savemore, and Robinson’s Supermarket. “It’s hard to compete with big, national retailers,” said Manuel T. Parroco, president and chief executive officer of Negros-based Island Merchants Corp. “Our advantage, however, is that we know the local culture and preferences better,” Mr. Parroco added. Wider product variety and simpler shelf layouts in supermarkets were also seen as ways to increase smaller retailers’ competitiveness. Retail sales reached P1.42 million in 2012 and are expected to grow by double digits this year amid higher remittances from overseas Filipino workers and business process outsourcing (BPO) gains, as well as buoyant consumer confidence and election-linked spending. -- Daryll Edisonn D. Saclag,‐medium‐retailers‐air‐ concerns&id=75838                            

Posted on September 01, 2013 10:01:32 PM

Call centers urged to offer health info services   CEBU CITY -- With the vast nursing resources here, Philippine contact centers are wellpositioned to seize huge opportunities in health care information management as a result of a new US health care law, an industry leader said.

  Jeffrey Scott Williams, chairman of Healthcare Information Management Outsourcing Association of the Philippines (HIMOAP) and president of Medicall Philippines, Inc., said that more than 33 million people in the US who don’t have insurance are expected to enroll through virtual marketplaces called health insurance exchanges, beginning Oct. 1. “There’s tremendous pressure because insurance companies are asking how they’re going to do it. How are they going to handle 33 million new enrollees? It’s so close; they can’t ignore it anymore,” Mr. Williams said in his presentation, during a workshop at the recently concluded International Contact Center Conference & Expo here. An insurance exchange is a regulated Web site where consumers and small businesses can compare and buy private policies. Any plan purchased through the exchange takes effect on Jan. 1, 2014. Mr. Williams explained that under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed in March 2010 and popularly known as Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act, no one will be denied insurance, plans are made affordable, providers will have to charge the same rates despite pre-existing conditions, and subsidies are provided through the exchanges to those eligible. “This is all the talk. [Insurance] companies are taking steps on how they will handle this. The opportunity is just tremendous,” Mr. Williams said. The Medicall executive was also confident that efforts to repeal the new law will not succeed. “It may be delayed, but I don’t think it will be repealed,” he said. Mr. Williams said that the Philippines should capitalize on its huge number of nursing graduates and take advantage of the opportunities provided by the new law to become a health care outsourcing destination. “You’ve got the amount of clinical resources that nobody else has. No other country has an underutilized, highly educated, medical-oriented workforce. It’s as simple as that,” he said. The Philippines has about 80,000 nursing graduates yearly. At least 200,000 registered nurses in the country are currently unemployed, Mr. Williams said. Based on a study released early this year by the Everest Group, health care outsourcing companies in the Philippines raked in $430 million in revenues last year, over 50% more than 2011 earnings. The industry is projected to expand to $1 billion in revenues by 2016, with employment seen to reach

100,000. Ma. Cristina Coronel, Pointwest Technologies Corp. president and chief executive officer, said that industry growth is expected to be driven by the conversion, effective October 2014, to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) 10 code set in reporting medical diagnoses and procedures. But, Ms. Coronel pointed out that there are competency and compliance requirements for all the health care opportunities. “It’s not something where you just get on board and that’s it,” she said. Opportunities for growth are in medical transcription, medical coding and billing, claims recovery, patient education, and clinical research documentation and communication, among others. -- Marites S. Villamor‐centers‐urged‐to‐offer‐health‐ info‐services&id=75837                              

Posted on September 01, 2013 10:00:47 PM

Housing Board adds fees   THE HOUSING and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) has approved the addition of fees for subdivision and condominium projects to benefit the underprivileged.

  Under Board Resolution No. 901, dated June 28, the following fees have been added to the charges collected by the HLURB: • processing fee -- P500 • inspection fee -- P1,500 per hectare • annotation for future and subsequent utilization -- P500 • general accreditation (socialized housing developers) -- P3,000 • limited accreditation (socialized housing developers) -- P3,000 per accreditation • accreditation of non-government organizations -- P1,000 The new charges are in line with the revised implementing rules and regulations to govern Section 18 of Republic Act No. 7279, otherwise known as the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992. The said section states that proposed subdivision projects are required to develop an area for socialized housing equivalent to at least 20% of the total subdivision area or cost, whichever the developer chooses. Socialized housing refers to programs and projects undertaken by the government or private entities for homeless citizens, as stated by RA 7279. -- Kathleen T. de Villa‐Board‐adds‐ fees&id=75835            

Posted on September 01, 2013 08:11:54 PM

Whose central bank?   BERKELEY -- Broadly speaking, for at least 115 years (and possibly longer) -- that is, at least since the publication of the Swedish economist Knut Wicksell’s Geldzins und Güterpreis (Interest and Prices) in 1898 -- economists have split into two camps with respect to what a central bank is and the purposes it should serve.

Commentary J. Bradford DeLong

  One camp, call it the Banking Camp, regards a central bank as a bank for bankers. Its clients are the banks; it is a place where banks can go to borrow money when they really need to; and its functions are to support the banking sector so that banks can make their proper profits as they go about their proper business. Above all, the central bank must ensure that the money supply is large enough that mere illiquidity, rather than insolvency, does not force banks into bankruptcy and liquidation. The other camp, call it the Macroeconomic Camp, views central banks as stewards of the economy as a whole. A central bank’s job is to uphold in practice Say’s Law -- the principle that output is balanced by demand, with neither too little demand to purchase what is produced (which would cause unemployment) nor too much (which would cause inflation) -- because Say’s Law certainly does not hold in theory. In other words, a central bank’s primary responsibility is not to preserve the health of the firms that make up the banking sector, but rather to maintain the robust functioning of the economy as a whole. In the United States, from Sept. 15, 2008 -- the day that the investment bank Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy -- until then-US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner announced in May 2009 that in his judgment the major US banks either had or could quickly raise adequate capital cushions, the two camps’ interests and conclusions were identical. For both, reducing the imbalance between aggregate supply and aggregate demand required, first and foremost, preserving the banking system; and preserving the banking system required boosting aggregate demand to bring it closer to aggregate supply. There was a lot of bank rescue in economic stimulus; and there was a lot of economic stimulus in rescuing banks. Thereafter, the two camps’ interests and conclusions diverged sharply. A prolonged and sustained central bank policy of keeping short-term Treasury nominal interest rates low is essential to keeping the many interest rate-sensitive components of aggregate demand from falling even further below potential aggregate supply. But, for investment banks, shadow banks, and especially commercial banks (with their expensive networks of branches and ATMs), such a policy makes it very difficult to report regular and healthy operating profits on their quarterly income statements and regular and healthy gains in their clients’ portfolios. A prolonged and sustained central bank policy of purchasing ever-increasing quantities of long-term assets is essential to encourage a wary financial sector to use some of its risk-bearing capacity for its proper purpose: reducing the risk burden on entrepreneurship and enterprise. But such a policy

diminishes, and may even eliminate, financiers’ ability to take the easy route by riding the duration yield curve for profits. From the standpoint of balancing aggregate demand and potential aggregate supply, the central bank should start by simply issuing a straightforward statement that, five years after the crisis began, a 02% target for annual inflation clearly runs unwarranted downside employment risks, and a 2-4% target is called for. But, while such an announcement is an obvious no-brainer for those in the Macroeconomic Camp, it would make all bankers who hold nominal assets or who think in nominal terms physically ill. In terms of the US public interest -- and that of the world -- it is very important that whoever President Barack Obama nominates to succeed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke when his term expires at the beginning of 2014 is from the Macroeconomic Camp. The world does not need a bankers’ central banker any more today than it did five years ago. J. Bradford DeLong, a former deputy assistant secretary of the US Treasury, is Professor of Economics at the University of California at Berkeley and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.‐central‐bank?&id=75793                            

Angara queries CoA rush on PDAF report • •

Written by Tribune Monday, 02 September 2013 08:00


More questions were raised yesterday on the motive behind the release of the Commission on Audit (CoA) special report on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the swift decision of an executive inter-agency body to use it as basis for the P10-billion pork barrel scam probe. A former Senate president raised issues practically putting into question the motive of state auditors in making public their report as well as the moves of the Executive concerning the alleged misuse of pork barrel by some lawmakers. Former Sen. Edgardo Angara said the special report was raw and was still in the stage of validation. “That’s why I’m wondering why there’s now an inter-agency, an Ombudsman action. Why are they taking palliative moves immediately? If we follow really the rule of procedure, it should be first validated if those assertions are really true because those are just initial special audit of a government agency which is subject to validation,” Angara said, referring to the controversy stirred by the CoA special audit on the PDAF which covered only 2007 to 2009. Amid the ongoing Senate investigation into the CoA findings on purported misuse of lawmakers’ pork

barrel funds, the upper chamber has not taken any definitive stance even on the suspension of its members’ availment of their respective remaining PDAF. Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV yesterday contradicted Senate President Franklin Drilon’s claims on the supposed decision recently of the majority of the senators to adopt a resolution to suspend their PDAF until stricter measures are adopted. “There’s no such consensus (in the Senate). We have not had any discussion, actually, (on our position) but it was announced that it will be suspended in the meantime to ensure first that reforms will be instituted to prevent it from being abused,” he said. Days before the protest march in Luneta by those calling for the abolition of PDAF and the President’s public pronouncements on its suspension, Drilon issued a statement saying that the majority bloc senators will adopt a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate to cease from availing, accessing and utilizing their pork barrel funds until and unless stricter guidelines on the release of such funds are adopted. The resolution, proposed by Drilon, is a collective decision of the senators in the majority coalition to cease from utilizing their respective priority development assistance fund (PDAF) allotments until such time that more effective and strict implementing PDAF guidelines are put in place by the executive branch. It will be filed in the Senate’s next session, he said. “The majority senators’ decision to adopt the resolution is a manifestation of their interest in making the use of the PDAF more transparent and open for scrutiny of the public that will help prevent the abuses and inadequacies which were observed in the CoA report. It is consistent with the expressed desire of senators to effect reforms in the use of the pork barrel funds in order to prevent the preponderance of abuses and malpractices in the use of the PDAF,” Drilon said in a statement dated Aug. 20 Drilon said the majority senators agreed to let the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) promulgate stricter and more effective implementing guidelines on the release of the PDAF and the determination of qualified projects under the PDAF menu as defined in the General Appropriations Act. Angara said on radio the representatives of the Europe-based Transparency International, a global civil society organization leading the fight against corruption, has already made some inquiries and raised concern over the state of government affairs as a result of allegations linking some legislators to the pork barrel scam. “They’re asking about what’s happening (here). But they know the (audit) procedure. Still, I gave them an initial report and I told them please don’t rush to judgement, don’t jump to conclusion. They know that under international protocol that findings of government audit is subject to validation and they understand that,” Angara, recently elected chairman of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC), said. “It’s the issue of corruption, that’s why they called. Their main mission, main mandate is to monitor and do something about corruption,” he explained.

A requirement in an international and even national auditing rules is that the audit work should be conducted within one year or a year after the covered period and the report should first be embargoed as it’s release or accessibility will be prejudicial either to the entity or agency covered if there are some deficiency in documentation or loopholes that should be addressed, Angara pointed out. “Otherwise, people will think it’s a dubious report. There are steps or precautions to be followed before the report is released. Just like in the case of the CoA special report, it created a frenzy, a feeding frenzy. It has become juicy news, even juicy international news,” he said, referring to the events that followed after the release of the CoA special audit report at the height of the so-called pork barrel scam orchestrated by the group of businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles. While it’s understandable that the CoA undertook a special audit, compared to a regular audit in which the implementing agency (IA) being audited should be able to reply or air its side on the issue, still, it’s not a criminal investigation as they have to verify the authenticity of expenditure of public funds, Angara emphasized. “Since it’s a special audit and it (documents) was taken five, six or seven years ago, the first obligation of the auditor whether public like CoA or private like SGV, is not to release it publicly because it is prejudicial to the agency affected, but also to confront the implementing agency because they have the main responsibility of deciding whether the non-government organizations (NGO)-beneficiaries are legitimate or not,” he said. Angara repeatedly stressed the fact the so-called IAs as well as the local government units (LGUs), are the ones responsible in determining the legitimacy or the NGO or beneficiary whether it’s a private or government entity. This bolstered the position taken by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, one of those being alleged to have funded the projects of bogus NGOs according to the CoA report, that it’s not within their responsibility to ascertain the existence or legitimacy of their beneficiary. “Technically and legally he is correct (Estrada). As a moral duty to the nation and to those who gave us the authority to identify projects, we should help the government, whether CoA or whoever, in doing the validation,” he said. “(But) The first obligation of an implementing agency or LGU is to determine that the beneficiary-NGO is a legitimate (entity). It’s their duty, according to the law because they’re acting as the disbursing officer. Their second duty is to seek liquidation from the NGO. They should require the NGO to submit accounting and liquidation. And their third obligation is to report to the Senate committee on finance and the committee on appropriations in the lower house. That’s the comple cycle of accountability and transparency,” Angara, who spent almost two decades at the Senate, explained. The issue on requiring a memorandum of agreement (MoA) or understanding (MoU) before any fund transfer could take place between the IA and the NGO-beneficiary is an additional requirement which was adopted in the 2008 or 2009 general appropriations act (GAA), he pointed out. “There are guidelines and it was clearly understood and followed (in the past). Now I’m having difficulty

understanding the situation why it seems to be the other way around, that it is the solons, senator or congressmen who has to ascertain whether the entity they’re endorsing is genuine or not or why they have failed to liquidate. It should not be the case,” he said. Angara also disputed the assertions made before the Senate blue ribbon committee by CoA chairman Grace Pulido-Tan that there’s no law allowing the transfer of government funds to NGOs. “There is. Maybe we should suggest to her to direct her legal staff to research on this. In fact, it was a separate law, in addition to the provisions of the GAAs,” he said. “If only we could explain this to the public clearly that there’s process being required by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Congress on the use of public funds by senators and congressman, the controversy should have been avoided,” he said. It’s a matter of proof, Angara further emphasized, on the issue of the lawmakers supposedly insisting their choice of NGO or those being “endorsed” by them. Angara claimed that even during the pre-martial law days, the matter of NGOs being a beneficiary of government funds had been allowed. And when the pork barrel system was restored in 1989 under the Cory Aquino government, a decade after, the DBM had set some guidelines, one of which required the implementing agency to be a government agency or LGU. Alongside this development, Trillanes also raised concern over the possibility of giving the President or the Executive the blanket authority in the implementation of the pork barrel “funds”, in the event that it will be abolished and its implementation will be transferred to the hands of the Executive branch as the issue of corruption could be at its worst. “What most of our countrymen do not seem to realize is that if this will be abolished, the national government which has no way of determining the extend of needed projects in remote areas, the planning (and the release of funds) will be centralized and there will be all sorts of lobbying directly to the departments. “They will find a way. (If) your constituents from a certain municipality, barangay will seek help on a needed project, so the congressman or mayor will go to the concerned department and lobby intensely. So this will make it more powerful the President or (complicated) the central or national government. And in the event that the President will be replaced by someone like (former Pres. Gloria Arroyo) GMA, the funds will be easily abused. I just hope that the public will soon be able to realize that the problem lies not in the (pork barrel) system but the corrupt personalities,” he said in a radio interview. While Trillanes is obviously against the abolition of the pork barrel system, he was candid enough in admitting that he’s not about to stand up and publicly defend his position, given the present situation. “It has come to a point where the public outrage is tremendous. I don’t think the people is already prepared to listen to some justifications in this system...I will not stand up there and justify that system,” he said.

“Anyway, this PDAF is a ‘tool’ of the President, of the Executive as a way of having a good rapport with the Legislative. President Aquino has already made a statement how he justifies this system and what’s needed are some form of safeguard,” Trillanes said. “We have put in our trust in the President in leading our nation when we elected him and this include the matter of the handling of issues such as the pork barrel, whether to abolish it or not,” he added. In this light, Trillanes said the suspension of the availment and release of what remains in their PDAF allotment for this year came from Aquino himself and not because of the prodding of some lawmakers. Trillanes said it was the President’s decision announced through the media to suspend their PDAF. “There’s no decision yet on what we’re going to do next. But based on the decision of Pres. Aquino, a line-item (budgeting) will be adopted in the general appropriations act (GAA) to make transparent its implementation,” he said. While the line-item budgeting approach is seen by many as way of continuing with the pork barrel system, Trillanes defended the move saying that it ensures accountability of the use of funds. “Ang issue naman dito ay kung ibubulsa mo o hindi eh. Kung ito bang pork barrel ay hindi ibinulsa magiging issue ba ito ngayon? Kaya may public outrage kasi napunta sa bulsa ng mambabatas at conduits,” he explained. “Whatever the position of the President on this issue, I will support it. Whether he retains it with the necessary safeguards, it’s okay with me because I have been always open in the use of my PDAF. I have been very transparent. You can actually see in my website how my funds were disbursed,” he said. The Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CENPEG) also issued a call yesterday for the redistribution and socialization of the pork barrel funds in connection with the controversy. Aside from this, the group also calls on Aquino to prioritize passage of Freedom Of Information (FoI) bill now pending in both houses of Congress. CENPEG said that instead of Malacanang and Congress leaders colluding again to retain the fraudulent pork barrel in the guise of “requested” line projects, the national budget should be reformed to allow direct people’s participation in the planning. The call was issued as it also asked that the traditional funding for PDAF should instead be used for grossly underfunded social services such as basic education, health programs, and socialized housing. Dr. Temario Rivera, CenPEG Senior Fellow and current chairman said “As an alternative, the choice of projects to be funded must start with a bottoms-up, participatory process of budgeting involving legitimate representatives from civil society in the respective development councils at all levels of government.” Bobby M. Tuazon, CenPEG director for policy studies, also said the key to resolving the controversy unleashed by the expose’ on the P10-billion pork barrel scam, is to render justice to the country’s millions of taxpayers. He said the modality is to “redistribute and socialize” funds stolen by giving them back to the people in the form of pressing social services. “All that it takes for this to work and restore public trust in government,” Tuazon said, “is for the chief

executive and Congress leaders to at least for the moment stop acting like spoiled politicians and begin serving as true public servants.” Rivera said the traditional funding for PDAF should instead be used for grossly underfunded social services such as basic education, health programs, and socialized housing. CenPEG, is an independent think tank based in UP, has supported the calls for redistributing and socializing the traditional funds, among others, toward reinstituting the subsidies that had been cut by all administrations since Marcos to all state colleges and universities (SCUs). Tuazon said the national budget should once and for all be de-politicized by re-channeling the traditional pork barrel funds to where it should go – public tertiary education as well as more health services and socialized housing for the poor. He said that the Philippines is unable to meet the minimum Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in education, health, and housing services and this is partly because of misuse of funds and corruption despite huge amounts of foreign grants given to government every year. Alvin Murcia                          

Economy still not out of woods despite growth, says IBON • •

Written by Paul Atienza Monday, 02 September 2013 08:00

Limited and unsustainable. This was how IBON Foundation branded the Aquino government’s second-quarter figures of a 7.5-percent economic growth.

IBON explained that while the government hailed the growth as the fastest in Southeast Asia and the fourth consecutive quarter that gross domestic product (GDP) has been expanding more than 7 percent, the growth is still not a sign of an improving economy. The research group pointed out that the hyped rapid growth still saw a net 21,000 jobs lost yearon-year according to the latest April 2013 round of the Labor Force Survey. Second quarter GDP growth has been accelerating from 3.6 percent (2011) to 6.3 percent (2012) to 7.5 percent (2013) yet year-on-year job creation in April has been falling steeply from 1.4 million (2011) to 1.0 million (2012) to negative 21,000 (2013). “These are signs of unsound economic fundamentals,” it noted. The agriculture sector, the country’s single biggest sector where the largest number of Filipinos make a living and where poverty is deepest and most concentrated, even saw 624,000 job losses between April 2012 and April 2013, according to the research group. “By occupation group, 822,000 farmers, fisherfolk, workers and unskilled laborers and 26,000 professionals, associate professionals and technicians lost their jobs over the same period. The worsening joblessness undermines incomes and depresses domestic demand which compromises sustainability,” IBON said. IBON also pointed out that the fastest growing subsectors appear to have been driven by election- or election-related spending specially by the government. “Government expenditure accelerated to 17.0 percent in the second quarter from 13.2 percent in the first quarter and 9.5 percent in the fourth quarter of last year. “On the other hand, household expenditure, capital formation and net exports all slowed down. “By industry, construction was also the fastest growing subsector with 17.4 percent growth particularly driven by 31.1 percent growth in public construction versus just 9.0 percent growth in private construction. “The important agriculture sector on the other hand even contracted by 0.3 percent.

“Financial intermediation and real estate, renting and other business activity subsectors grew relatively quickly, at 9.6 percent and 9.5 percent respectively, but these are sectors with low job generation,” IBON said. It stressed that growth will most likely continue to slow down and remain exclusionary in the succeeding quarters due to the lack of programs that build and strengthen domestic industry, create stable job opportunities and improve people’s incomes and welfare in a broad-based and strategic manner.                                    

UNA: Abad should take blame for PDAF mess • •

Written by Gerry Baldo Monday, 02 September 2013 08:00

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad should take most of the blame in the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) since he has final discretion on the awarding funds including some which allegedly went to fake non-government organizations (NGOs), United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) spokesman Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco said yesterday. Tiangco argued that Abad can withhold the PDAF of lawmakers, which he can also do the same to NGOs. Tiangco noted that Abad withheld the release of his PDAF in 2011. “If they can stop the release of the PDAF of the lawmakers, they can stop the PDAF from being released to fake NGOs,” Tiangco pointed out. Tiangco, at the same time, stressed that the current focus of the investigation on the PDAF scam to lawmakers is misplaced. Tiangco maintained that the investigation should also focus on the government agencies implementing the PDAF of legislators. “The lawmakers are the sacrificial lamb in this controversy. As if they are the ones guilty,” Tiangco said. The special report of the Commission on Audit (CoA) from 2007 to 2009 was concentrated on the lawmakers as it did not touch on the various government agencies that implemented the PDAF, Tiangco said. He added the DBM and government agencies implementing the PDAF should also be held accountable for the current controversy involving the discretionary funds in the budget. Tiangco made an appeal to President Aquino to relieve department secretaries that have been involved in the scam. “President Aquino is capable. Hopefully Mr. President, even your allies, whether they are legislators or part of the Executive branch, when they are found definitely involved in a controversy, they should be ordered relieved,” Tiangco stressed. He said that Aquino should have the political will to relieve and allow the filing of criminal cases against those involved in the anomaly whether they be from the administration or the opposition. “For me, it’s better to file charges against all who are guilty, whether they are from the political opposition or from the administration. The law should be equally applied to all including those from the executive department. This is not going to happened if those from the executive did not allow it to happen,” he said. He said that it is imperative upon the president to relieve his alter egos who are involved in this anomaly. “He could be held liable under the dictum of command responsibility,” Tiangco said referring to Aquino.

Leaders of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) in the House of Representatives are also set to meet today to address the issue of PDAF implementation amid calls for its abolition. “Yes, the issue concerning pork barrel whose abolition was echoed by no less than the President is possibly one of the major concerns to be discussed,” Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte said yesterday. Belmonte will be presiding over the meeting which will be held at the “Balay” of the Roxases in Cubao today. Some 113 LP members are expected to attend the meeting. Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento, secretary general of LP, said that the meeting is part of the regular meetings of the party. “The meeting is a one hour caucus. This is a regular activity. We used to do this every Monday in the 15th Congress regarding congressional work,” Sarmiento said. According to former budget secretary and now Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya the Lower House is set to implement more stringent measures that would plug the loopholes in the PDAF use. He said that the House is now in the process of formulating a new system in use of the PDAF that would not sacrifice the delivery of government service. Andaya said Belmonte has issued guidelines that the PDAF should never be used again for NGOs and consumable items. He said that the amount of PDAF that would be allotted to each lawmaker is also under review. Belmonte added that lawmakers should be given their day to answer the charges leveled against them before making conclusions. “Yes I appeal to them (public), they should not judge my colleagues implicated in the pork barrel scam right away. They should be given their day to explain their side,” Belmonte said. The speaker noted that one of the lawmakers implicated in the P10-billion Napoles scam was dragged into the controversy because his signature was forged. “One congressman showed me the documents with his forged signatures showing he had no idea the money (pork barrel) he put would be downloaded to an NGO. We should hear them out,” Belmonte said. Sarmiento and Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe backed Belmonte, saying everybody has the constitutional right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. “Every Filipino is entitled to due process,” Sarmiento, secretary general of LP, explained. United Nationalist Alliance Spokesperson Navotas rep. toby Tiangco maintained that the lawmakers are “sacrificial lambs” in the controversy. Tiangco said that the implementing agencies are equally or more liable than the lawmakers. Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe said “just like any other accused, congressmen implicated in the pork barrel scam should be given all the opportunity to defend themselves in all forums as they are also entitled to constitutional presumption of innocence. For all we know, they may have been victims themselves.” Commission on Audit (COA) chairman Grace Pulido-Tan told the Senate blue ribbon committee that

some senators gave instructions to implementing agencies that their pork barrel funds should go to specific NGOs. Tan claimed that a total of P1.093 billion from the PDAF of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr., Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and Sen. Gregorio Honasan went to bogus NGOs belonging to Napoles. The COA’s two-year special audit report covering 2007 to 2009 showed that P6.156 billion of pork barrel funds of 12 senators and 180 congressmen all went to 82 NGOs, ten of which are linked to Napoles who allegedly got P2.1 billion. Some lawmakers, particularly the Makabayan bloc and some administration lawmakers have sought the abolition of the PDAF following the P10-billion Napoles scam. Cavite Rep. Elpidio “Pidi” Barzaga Jr., a stalwart of the National Unity Party (NUP) said that the solution to the raging controversy over the PDAF is its abolition. “There should be a complete abolition. To restore public trust and confidence to legislators even the line items should be abolished,” Barzaga said. Barzaga maintained that lawmakers should focus on legislation. “We should focus mainly on our constitutional duty of crafting laws. The people have already spoken. We have already heard their voice,” Barzaga stressed. But Deputy Speaker and Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao, a stalwart of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), opposed the total abolition of pork barrel funds. “On PDAF, I still think it is needed by the people, especially in the countryside. For many, it’s lifeline for them. It should not be abolished notwithstanding the clamor of people belonging to the ABC class. PDAF is not for them. It is for the poor. But having said that, lets jail the corrupt,” Aggabao said. Anak Mindanao party-list Rep. Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman said authorities should work double time in the filing of appropriate charges against those involved in the scam in order to clear the names of the innocent. “I hope her surrender will give way to justice, through a thorough and impartial investigation so the guilty will be punished and the innocent people are spared,” Turabin-Hataman said. President Aquino also is set to receive within two years up to P5 billion in remittance from state gaming firm Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR) as part of royalty, from casino collections, which will go to the President’s Social Fund (PSF) that Aquino’s spokesmen consistently defended as a necessary pork barrel which is beyond the scrutiny of Congress since this is not listed in the annual budget. Pagcor chairman Cristino Naguiat Jr. said the Casino is contributing P2.25 billion to the PSF this year (2013) and P2.5 billion next year (2014). Naguiat Jr. said amounts would be on top of the P2 billion it remitted to Malacañang last year for the PSF. Aquino said he would order the Presidential Management Staff, which administers the PSF, to disclose in detail how the fund has been used since he assumed office in 2010.

Aquino, aside from the casino fund, also is entitled to a share from the “small” proceeds of the operation of the Malampaya Natural Gas project which is under the control of the Department of Energy (DOE). Presidential Deputy spokesman Abigail Valte argued Aquino has been transparent in spending the PSF. “We assure transparency in the use President’s Social Fund. That can be seen on the COA report of 2010,” Valte said. Valte said the PSF is getting bigger in amount because the fund had not been used every year. “It is not saturated every year and is in fact replenished. So, by this, we can see how judicious is the President in using this funds,” Valte said. Valte said there is only a demand to abolish the stinky pork barrel because of the abuses in the PDAF allotted to the members of Congres. The Communist Party of the Philippines said that in the hope of drawing the people’s ire away from Aquino and drowning out the people’s demand to abolish Aquino’s trillion-peso discretionary funds, Malacañang orchestrated the Janet Lim Napoles drama, taking advantage of the public outrage at the profligate lifestyle of the Napoleses whose riches are believed to have been accumulated through corrupt dealings with congressmen and senators. Malacañang ordered the filing of illegal detention charges against Napoles. This was followed by days of attention-grabbing “manhunt” operations and Aquino’s announcement of a P10-million bounty, only to end in the farcical “surrender” of Janet Lim Napoles to Aquino himself. In a crass show of political accommodation, Aquino himself, with his top officials, brought Napoles to Malacañang and subsequently remanded her to the national police headquarters in Camp Crame (instead of a detention facility in the city where the criminal charges against her were filed).                

Anti-political dynasty bill filed • •

Written by PNA Monday, 02 September 2013 08:00

Lawmakers have vowed to push for the passage of the controversial anti-political dynasty bill to end what they described as “monopoly of political power by few influential families in Philippine society.” The lawmakers led by Rep. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna partylist said House Bill 173 brings to life the constitutional provision, stating that the State shall guarantee equal access to public service and prohibit political dynasty as may be defined by law. “Look around you and you will see that public office, in more cases than not, has become the exclusive domain of influential families and clans,” said Colmenares, one of the bill’s authors. The other authors of the proposed Anti-Political Dynasty Act of 2013 are Reps. Carlos Isagani Zarate (Bayan Muna), Luzviminda Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus (Gabriela), Fernando Hicap (Anak Pawis), Antonio Tinio (ACT Teachers), Terry Ridon (Kabataan) and Edgardo Erice (2nd District of Caloocan City). Colmenares said family dynasties have become so well-entrenched in Philippine politics that they have monopolized political power and public resources at almost all levels of government. Colmenares cited a United Nations Development Programme study which revealed that of the 77 provinces covered in the Philippines, 72 provinces or 94 percent have political families. The study added that the average number of political families per province is 2.31, meaning there are at least two dominant political clans in most of the provinces. Colmenares said the socio-political inequities prevalent in Philippine society limit public office to members of ruling families. “In many instances, voters, for convenience and out of cultural mind-set, look up to these economically and politically dominant families as dispensers of favors, material and otherwise, and tend to elect relatives of these politically dominant families,” Colmenares said. Ilagan stressed the necessity for the political arena to be levelled by opening public office to persons who are equally qualified to aspire on even terms with those from dominant political families. “We are pushing for this bill to give real teeth to the constitutional mandate and strengthen the call for a new politics to lay the basis of greater empowerment for the greater number of Filipinos,” Ilagan said. Under the bill, no spouse, or person related within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity, whether legitimate or illegitimate, full or half blood, to an incumbent elective official seeking re-election shall be allowed to hold or run for any elective office in the same province in

the same election. The bill provides that in case the constituency of the incumbent elective official is national in character, the above relatives shall be disqualified from running only within the same province where the former is a registered voter. In cases where none of the candidates is related to an incumbent elective official within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity, but are related to one another within the said prohibited degree, they, including their spouses, shall be disqualified from holding or running for any local elective office within the same province in the same election. Furthermore, in all cases, no person within the prohibited civil degree of relationship to the incumbent shall immediately succeed to the position of the latter: Provided however, that this section shall not apply to barangay captains or members of the Sangguniang Barangay.                          

No need for Senate nod on increased US presence in RP so far — Trillanes • •

Written by Angie M. Rosales Monday, 02 September 2013 08:00

Senate’s approval of the temporary stay of American forces or their increased rotational presence in the country may not be needed but the upper chamber is keeping a close watch of the implementation of the new military arrangement with the United States government. “We are just monitoring it quietly on the sidelines to make sure na hindi ito lalabag sa ating Constitution and at hindi ito lalabas existing parameters of the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement) and MDT (Mutual Defense Treaty). So kapag lumalabas na kakailanganin ng consent ng Senate, (then we will insist on it). Sa ngayon wala pa tayo doon at ongoing pa naman ang kanilang negotiations,” said Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, chairman of the committee on national defense and security, yesterday. In an interview with dzBB, Trillanes said they had a briefing on the matter few weeks ago and so far, he assured that there has no new principle or concept introduced by both the US government and Malacañang. “Whatever we have right now under the VFA and MDT, it’s the same. The only difference is an increased presence or frequency of visits (of US troops). So with that, nakita ko na baka hindi na kailanganin ang consent ng Senate (I think there’s no need of the Senate’s consent). “We are on top of the situation, minomonitor din natin, pero kasi (we also monitor, however) we but cannot just conduct a public hearing on this because there are operational matters na hindi puwedeng isapubliko (that should not be made public). Merong mga ganyan (There’s also), even if magkaroon tayong ng FoI (Freedom of Information) law, when it comes to matters of foreign relations and national security hindi yan automatic na nilalalabas (it should not automatically divulged). “We’ll just have to trust that they know what they’re doing, na papangalagaan nila ang karapatan ng Pilipino at sovereignty ng ating bansa (that we are protecting Filipinos’ rights and the sovereignty of our nation,” he added.  

Elderly, PWDs to get accessible precincts for October elections • •

Written by Tribune Monday, 02 September 2013 08:00

The Commission on Elections approved a resolution that would pave the way for more convenience to senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWD) during election time. Under Resolution No. 9763, or the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 10366, authorizing the commission to establish precincts in accessible polling places for PWDs and senior citizens. Registered senior citizens and PWDs may choose to be assigned to an accessible polling precinct, making it easier for them to exercise their right to vote. During the registration period, the applicants must specify their disability and the assistance they need on election day. If the said PWDs and senior citizen registered voter manifests an intention to be assigned to an accessible precinct, as stated in Section 7, they shall remain in their regular precinct but their polling places shall, whenever practicable, be located at the ground floor which shall be made compliant with the requirements of an Accessible Polling Place. Aside from not going up to the polling precincts, the Comelec also said that waiting areas will also be setup near the polling place. In the last elections the said PWDs or senior citizens experienced difficulty reaching their voting precincts and some were forced to climb several flights of stairs while others gave up and left without voting. The Comelec had also started using express lanes for registrant PWDs, senior citizens and heavily pregnant applicants. The move of the Comelec which is consonance with the policy of the state for equal protection aimed to give the said sector support or aid that may be extended for them to meaningfully and effectively participate in electoral processes. The resolution defined discrimination on the basis of disability – refers to any distinction, exclusion or restriction on the basis of disability which has the effect of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal basis with others, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including denial of reasonable accommodation. By Alvin Murcia    

Appellate court issues TRO for elected TUCP officials • •

Written by PNA Monday, 02 September 2013 08:00

The Court of Appeals (CA) has granted injunction reliefs for the officers of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) in connection with the leadership dispute among its elected officials. In a resolution written by Associate Justice Noel Tijam, the CA’s Seventh Division issued a temporary restraining order in favor of former Sen. Ernesto Herrera; Jose Umali Jr.; Rep. Roy Seneres and several others and against the order issued by the Department of Labor and Employment-Bureau of Labor Relations (DoLE-BLR). The CA, however said, for the TRO to become good, the petitioners should first post a P1-million bond. “On the basis of equity and fair play, the court hereby grants upon the petitioners the injunctive relief they applied for subject course to the posting of the required bond in the amount of P1 million,” the CA said. The CA said the bond shall answer to pay the party or person who may sustain damages by reason of the issuance of the order. The DoLE-BLR earlier had issued a status quo ante order dated Aug. 10, 2012 directing its observance or the status prior to the contested resignation of lawyer Democrito Mendoza.            

BAP warns RP industries vs Fed’s QE, tapering programs • •

Written by Ed Velasco Monday, 02 September 2013 08:00

Bankers’ Association of the Philippines (BAP) president Lorenzo Tan has reminded all industries in the country, especially those in the financial sector, to brace themselves for the effects of Federal Reserves’ quantitative easing (QE) and tapering programs. QE is an unconventional monetary policy used by central banks to stimulate the national economy when standard monetary policy has become ineffective. A central bank implements quantitative easing by buying specified amounts of financial assets from commercial banks and other private institutions, thus increasing the monetary base. This is distinguished from the more usual policy of buying or selling government bonds in order to keep market interest rates at a specified target value. “QE has never been done in history. It was a radical, unconventional solution to a serious economic situation. Tapering has triggered negative downsides in currency in India and Indonesia and capital markets of emerging markets,” Tan explained to the Daily Tribune. The 51-year-old BAP president, who is also president of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., said banks that need to raise equity in public markets are those that would likely be affected by QE and tapering. “Banks that need to raise equity in public markets will face bigger dillution because prices dropped 20 percent plus since the May statement of Bernanke. It can be done but pricing not as good like the first quarter,” the official said. Outgoing Fed chairman Ben Bernanke was quoted as saying that the biggest reason why he decided to impose QE and tapering was to control inflation from going too low. Indeed, the International Monetary Fund ( IMF) said the QE can be used to help ensure that inflation does not fall below target. Experts vary their views on the Fed chairman. Some say Bernanke is making his swan song four months before his term ends in January 2014 while others say he is like a voodoo financial genius. Chinese ratings agency, Dagong, considered QE as “a practice resembling drinking poison to quench thirst.” In essence, the depreciation of the US dollar adopted by the US government indicates that its solvency is on the brink of collapse, it said.

P2.5-B infra project topped off in Laguna • •

Written by Ed Velasco Monday, 02 September 2013 08:00

The first ever public-private partnership (PPP) project, the P2.5 billion regional government center (RGC) in Region 4-A, is ready for operation in January 2014 after the concessionaire of the project, AlloyMTDPhilippines, topped off the project last Aug. 30. Topping off means the last square foot of the last floor of a building under construction has been cemented, according to AlloyMTD-Philippines president Isaac David. The RGC in Region 4-A is located in Barangay Mapagong, Calamba City. Now that the topping off was done, David said finishing works of the project will follow. At least four months are needed to do all the finishing works for the four-building, five-storey RGC, according to David. Construction of the project officially started last Jan. 23 when AlloyMTD and Calamba City officials signed the agreement for the project. “This is our commitment to the people of the Philippines. We promised to construct it in that period and we did it exactly on time. Let’s just wait for more months and this structure is ready for occupancy,” David explained to the Daily Tribune. The RGC is located in a three-hectare lot at the center of the barangay. Once completed, all government agencies in Region 4-A can be housed in the area. At least 4,000 employees can be located in the area. RGC is adopted after Putrajaya in Malaysia, where all the Malaysian national government agencies are located. The government center was constructed to give convenience to all who will transact with government agencies as all of them are just located in one area. The regional hub will also showcase state-of-the-art infrastructures, latest construction and engineering and designs, equipment and facilities by the Malaysian and MTD Philippines’ expertise and vast experience in the construction business, real estate and property development. The RGC is just one of the numerous projects of AlloyMTD, a Malaysian multinational, in the Philippines. The AlloyMTD Malaysia conglomerate has headquarters in Kuala Lumpur and with business operations in 14 countries in the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.

RP to hike spending for infra projects • •

Written by Tribune Monday, 02 September 2013 08:00

The Philippines will increase spending on infrastructure projects crucial in attracting more investments, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda). “Notwithstanding the challenges of implementing public-private partnership projects or PPPs, both the government and private sectors continue to invest heavily in infrastructure, which has been a critical constraint to development,” said Neda director general Arsenio Balisacan. Balisacan said the construction sector’s strong performance as well as of manufacturing mainly boosted the industry sector to grow 10.3 percent in April to June this year. Construction for the past the past five quarters grew double digits. In the second quarter this year alone, public and private construction grew by 31.1 percent and nine percent, respectively. The industry and services sectors were the main drivers of the country’s economy that grew 7.5 percent in the second quarter. This is the fourth consecutive quarter that the Philippine gross domestic product has been expanding above seven percent. “Can we sustain the growth? Yes, if we have to invest now in the infrastructure. Otherwise, you are going to overheat quickly,” he said. Balisacan noted that infrastructure like power systems and transport will reduce the cost of doing business in the country. “If we don’t address this problem, the cost of doing business in this country will rise,” he said. Apart from basic infrastructure, Balisacan said other factors that affect investment decisions are the country’s quality of institution including the regulatory system, and macroeconomic fundamentals. The latter factor pertains to inflation, interest rates and current account. In 2014, the government is allocating P399 billion for public infrastructure projects. The amount is 35 percent more than the P295 billion earmarked for this year. “The dramatic surge in infrastructure spending next year will lower the cost of transporting goods and people, support agricultural productivity, reduce risks from disasters and generate economic investments and employment,” the Neda chief earlier said.Balisacan said the infrastructure program aims to remove constraints to inclusive development, noting “the proposed projects will ultimately benefit the poor and vulnerable sectors.”


  Kinuwestiyon ng isang senador ang partisipasyon ni Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Sec. Albert del Rosario sa negosasyon ng pamahalaan sa Estados Unidos para sa karagdagang tropa ng Amerika sa Pilipinas.



Ayon kay Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, hindi na dapat pumapapel sa negosasyon si Del Rosario dahil sa trabaho na ito ni Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

“That is a defense concern, wala dapat papel diyan si Secretary Del Rosario, so dapat hindi siya umeepal,” giit ni Trillanes sa kalihim na minsan na niyang nakaalitan nang maging backdoor negotiator siya sa away ng Pilipinas at China sa Scarborough Shoal noong 2012.

Kumbinsido rin si Trillanes bilang chairman ng Senate committee on national defense and security na hindi na kakailanganin ang ratipikasyon ng Senado sa nilulutong kasunduan para sa karagdagang tropa ng Amerika sa Pilipinas.

Sa tingin kasi ni Trillanes, wala namang bagong konseptong ipapasok sa Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) o kahit sa Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) kundi mapapadalas lamang ang pagbisita ng mga Amerikanong sundalo sa bansa.

“Wala namang bagong principle of concept na introduce. Ang gagawin lang is kung ano ‘yung meron ngayon under the VFA Mutual Defense Treaty eh padadalasin lang. So with that, nakita ko baka hindi na kailanganin ng consent ng Senado,” paliwanag ng senador.

Sa obserbasyon naman ni Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Neri Colmenares, lahat ng indikasyon ay nagpapakitang walang negosasyon na nagaganap kung hindi sumusunod lamang ang opisyales ng gobyerno sa dikta ng US Defense.Tugon ito ng mambabatas dahil sa posibleng sa Washington, USA at hindi sa Maynila ang ikalawang round ng usapan ng dalawang bansa para madagdagan ang bilang ng mga sundalong Kano sa Pilipinas.


NAPOLES MONEY PROBED Published : Saturday, August 31, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 1,251  Written by : Hector Lawas 

THE Court of Appeals (CA) has authorized the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to look into the bank and financial accounts of alleged pork barrel scam leader Janet Lim-Napoles. In a resolution, the CA also allowed to examine the accounts of Napoles’ family members, staff, and non-government organizations (NGOs) she reportedly formed. The order covered over 400 financial accounts spread in different banking institutions. AMLC was given five months to complete its investigation, and was required by the CA to submit a report 10 days after the completion of such probe. The members of her family were Jo Christine Napoles, Jaime Garcia Napoles, James Christopher Lim Napoles, Jean/Jane Catherine Lim Napoles, John Christian Lim Napoles, Reynald Lim, and Ronald Francisco Lim. Likewise, the bank accounts of whistleblower Benhur Luy are also covered by the order, as well as those of his mother, Gertrudes, and the accounts of the following persons: Arthur Luy, Merlina Sunas, Evelyn Ditchon De Leon, Marina Sula, Nova Kaye Dulay Batal, and Simonette Briones. Among others, the banks included in the order were the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, Citibank, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Land Bank of the Philippines, Banco de Oro, Metrobank, and United Coconut Planters Bank. Napoles, who surrendered after a P10-million bounty was offered for her capture, is under

detention at the Makati City Jail. She was charged with serious illegal detention, a non-bailable offense. New witnesses The lawyer of pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy yesterday said 17 more witnesses will testify against Napoles. This brought to 27 the total number of witnesses against Napoles. The new witnesses went to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima last Thursday and yesterday. Atty. Levito Baligod disclosed that the witnesses would testify that Napoles tried to convince them to pin down Luy in the pork scam. Baligod said the witnesses were told to sign prepared sworn statements by one of the lawyers of Napoles, a certain Atty. Alex Tan. Baligod stressed that the new set of witnesses has corroborated Luy’s earlier testimony that Napoles was behind the fake NGOs which got lawmakers’ pork barrel.                            

Maliligayang araw ng ‘Reyna ng mga sibuyas’ malapit nang matapos? Published : Monday, September 02, 2013 00:00

BAGAMA’T ipinag-utos na raw ni Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala ang isang malalimang imbestigasyon sa balitang kinokopo raw ng iisang tao lang ang importasyon ng sibuyas at bawang sa bansa na labag sa batas, ayaw naman magpakampante ni Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon. Ipinaaalis na raw ni Biazon ang limang kumpanya na konektado sa importer ng bawang at sibuyas na si Lea Cruz sa listahan ng BoC importers’ accreditation. Nadiskubre kasi ng TV5 na pawang mga peke ang mga nasabing kumpanya at wala man lang opisina. Tanging si Cruz lang daw ang binibigyan ng import permit ng Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) sa pamamagitan ng limamg pekeng kumpanya, para makapagpapasok ng sibuyas at bawang sa bansa. Ipinag-utos din ni Biazon sa mga tauhan nito na hulihin na ang mga parating na mga kargamento ni Cruz. Lumalabas kasi na ginawang monopolya ni Cruz ang pag-import ng mga nasabing gulay sa bansa . Labag sa Saligang Batas ang pag-monopolya ng isang negosyo. Sa tulong ng BoC at imbestigasyon ng DA, malapit nang matapos ang raket ni Lea Cruz. Sana nga.. *** ’WAG ISMOLIN SI NAPOLES Dahil sa mala-pader daw ang tibay ng mga koneksiyon ni Janet Napoles, mga apat hanggang limang taon lang ito sa kulungan o baka hindi pa nga raw ito maghihimas ng bakal na rehas. Ito ang pananaw ng isa sa mga whistleblower ng Php10 billion pork barrel scam na dating tauhan ni Napoles.

Aniya, bukod sa mga koneksiyon ng tinaguriang pork barrel queen sa Senado at Kongreso, may mga malalapit itong kaibigan din sa AFP at PNP, at mga padrino sa korte at maging sa Ombudsman na puedeng tumulong sa kanya para maabswelto o mapagaan ang kanyang parusa. Baka nakakalimutan na rin daw agad natin na may bilyones si Napoles na nakatago hindi lang sa kanyang mahigit na 400 bank accounts pati na rin umano sa abroad para aregluhin ang mga huwes at ang mga otoridad sa takdang panahon. Nariyan din ang agam-agam ng mga kababayan natin na baka nagkaroon na ng kasunduan si Pangulong Aquino at Napoles noong sumuko ito sa Malacañang na inguso lamang ang mga oposisyon at ilibre ang kanyang kaalyado kapalit ng pagiging state witness nito o napakagaang sentensiya. Ayon sa ilang abogado, puede ring gamitin ni Napoles ang Presidential Decree 749 na pumoprotekta sa mga nagbigay o nag-alok ng lagay sa mga opisyal at maaaring mapawalang sala kapag ito ay tumestigo laban sa mga korap na opisyal. Kung akala ng ilan na tapos na si Napoles dahil nahuli na ito...nagkakamali kayo. Baka hindi pa nga raw maghihimas ng rehas ang “reyna ng pork barrel” dahil sa tindi ng koneksiyon nito at bilyunbilyong pera na puedeng gamiting panampal sa mga korap na opisyal.                        

Mga ospital sa Maynila, 'di na libre??? Published : Monday, September 02, 2013 00:00

Maraming mahihirap na taga-Maynila ang nagrereklamo dahil sa ’di kagandahang mga kaganapan ngayon sa mga ospital na pinatatakbo ng pamahalaang-lokal ng lungsod. Sabay-sabay na nagreklamo sa pansamantalang bagong tanggapan ng Manila City Hall Reporters’ Association (MACHRA) ang mga apektadong pasyente, bitbit ang iba’t ibang uri ng reklamo. Bakit kanyo? Lahat daw kasi ngayon, binibili na ng pasyente ultimo heringilya. Doktor na lang daw ang libre ngayon at kung minsan, kung mamalasin, sapilitan pa ang donasyon, gaya ng nangyari sa isang senior citizen na taga-Raxabago, Tondo, na hindi nakapag-paopera ng katarata dahil walang pambigay na donasyong Php600. Manganganak naman daw ang isa pang nagrereklamo na asawa pa mismo ng isang news photographer. Ang siste, bago paanakin doon ay pinabili daw muna ’yung pamilya ng pasyente ng dugo na kapareho ng tipo du’n sa manganganak. Nu’ng hindi nagamit ’yung dugo dahil ’di naman kinailangan, kinuha din ng ospital ’yung dugo bilang donasyon. Eh Php1,300 daw ang bili nila du’n sa dugo. Matatandaan na nu’ng maupong alkalde si Fred Lim sa Maynila nu’ng 1992, iisa lang ang ospital ng lungsod -- ang Ospital ng Maynila. Dahil ‘tunay’ na laki sa hirap at alam ni Lim ang bigat ng dalahin kapag may sakit ka at walang perang pangkonsulta, pampadoktor at pambili ng gamot, sinikap niyang magkaroon ang Maynila ng maraming ospital kung saan libre lahat ng serbisyo pati iniuuwing gamot. Nang iwan ni Lim ang Maynila, anim ang ospital na pawang nagbibigay ng libreng serbisyo medikal, isa para sa bawat distrito -- Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Medical Center, Ospital ng Tondo, Jose Abad Santos Mother and Child Hospital na na-upgrade pa at ngayon ay Jose Abad Santos General Hospital na, Ospital ng Sampaloc, Ospital ng Maynila at Sta. Ana Hospital, na sampung palapag at fullyairconditioned pa. Bakit at paano bang napatakbo ang mga ospital na ’yan nang libre lahat ang serbisyo sa pasyente pati na mga gamot na iniuuwi sa bahay o take-home meds?

Ganito ang kuwento ng isang source mula sa city treasurer’s office. Kada buwan pala, ang PAGCOR ay may ibinibigay na Php9 milyong pondo o ‘financial assistance’ para sa alkalde at humigit-kumulang naman na Php4 milyon para sa bise alkalde. Maging ang mga konsehal ay meron ding tinatanggap na Php90,000 kada buwan. Maaring gamitin ng alkalde, bise alkalde o konsehal ang pondong ’yan sa anumang paraan na gusto nila pero sa kaso ni Lim, sabi ng taga-treasurer’s office, ni hindi sumasayad sa palad nito ang pondong ’yan dahil diretso pala ang punta nito sa city treasurer’s office, batay na din sa utos ni Lim. Ang pondong ’yan ang bumuhay sa anim na ospital kaya napanatili ang mga libreng gamot, laboratoryo, dialysis, X-ray, CT scan, operasyon at kung anu-ano pa. Bawat isang ospital ay may nakalaang budget galing sa nasabing pondo para pambili ng mga kinakailangang gamot at iba’t ibang pangangailangan sa ospital ng mga pasyenteng nagpupunta du’n. Buwan-buwan ’yan. Kasama sa mga nabibiyaan ng pondo na ’‘yan ang 59 barangay health centers, mga pampublikong paaralan mula day care, elementary hanggang high school at pati na din sa City College of Manila at Pamantasan ng Lungsod Maynila. Sabi ng source, ganito na ang naging sistema ni Lim mula nu’ng maging alkalde ng 1992 hanggang 1998 at muli noong 2007 hanggang 2013. Hindi ako magaling magkwenta pero ang sabi niya sa akin, ang ’di pagbulsa ni Lim ng milyun-milyong pondo na ’yan ang isa sa mga dahilan kung bakit siya bumilib dito, pagdating sa pag-iingat ng pera ng bayan. Magkano nga naman kasi ang halagang ito na napunta hindi sa kanya kundi sa kapakinabangan ng ibang tao? Bale Php9 million times 12 months times 12 years. Magkano ’yun kung ibinulsa na lang ni Lim? O kaya ay pinadaan kuno sa mga foundation na kadalasang ‘style’ ng mga pulitiko pero ang bagsak ng pera sa huli ay sa bulsa din nila? Nagtatanong lang, ha. Ang magagalit... guilty! *** Condolence to a very good friend, Ferdie Sandoval of Tondo, for the passing of his beloved wife recently. This column expresses its sincerest sympathies to those left behind by his wife’s sudden death. May they be able to move on as swiftly as possible. Let us pray for the eternal repose of her soul… *** (Jokjok from Sheryl Conducto of Batangas City) --Babae: Taxi, para!/ Driver: Sa’n po kayo?/Babae: Pakihatid lang ako sa J.P. Rizal sa Makati, pwede? Sige na o, lakas ng ulan eh./Driver: Naku pasensiya na ha, maa-out of the way kasi ako eh. Pa-Quezon City ako./Babae: Ganu’n ba? Okay (sabay sakay ng taxi)/Driver: O, bakit ka sumakay? Pa-Quezon City nga ’ko, ’di ka ba nakakaintindi?/Babae: Malinaw sa ’kin. Du’n naman talaga ko papunta ineklat lang kita kasi ’pag sinabi kong sa Quezon City ako pupunta baka sabihin mo pa-Makati ka naman. Sige, andar na!    

2013 09 02 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor  

Philippine Agriculture and Related News' Daily Monitor

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