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DA to file charges vs traders, rice smugglers By Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 10, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 


MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture (DA) is set to file charges against rice traders and smugglers who have engaged in activities that caused an artificial spike in the price of rice. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala told reporters at the Senate that the DA has started investigating the source of reports about a supposed shortage of rice as well as the bogus text messages about free NFA (National Food Authority) rice being given away at the Commonwealth market in Quezon City and Rizal market last week. Alcala said he has asked the DA’s legal team to study the possibility of filing charges of economic sabotage against the perpetrators.He said the ploy of some groups is to create an artificial shortage of rice, possibly by hoarding, so that the price in the market would go up. “We are checking on this and we will go after them. This is something that should not be happening,” the DA chief added. Alcala also assured the public that domestic supply of rice is sufficient and this can be seen in all 28 warehouses operated by the NFA in Metro Manila. While the practice of creating an artificial shortage of rice would point to rice traders as the culprits, Alcala said he is avoiding such a generalization. He did not discount the possibility that rice smugglers may be behind the hike in prices. “It’s possible because they were hit hard by the tighter rules introduced by the NFA in the importation of rice, so a lot of them are angry,” Alcala added. – With Paolo Romero, Ric Sapnu

NFA: We have sufficient rice stocks Category: Top News Published on Monday, 09 September 2013 21:39 Written by Mia M. Gonzalez Agriculture officials on Monday reiterated there is no rice shortage in to justify the high prices of commercial rice, since the government and the private sector have more than enough stocks to last way past the lean season. Responding to Sen. Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Orlan Calayag said at the Department of Agriculture budget hearing that the NFA has a 15-day rice inventory, while the private sector has 36 days, for a total 51-day buffer stock. “We have 638,000 metric tons available. With private inventory and the households, we have 1.7 million metric tons available, equivalent to 51 days,” he said. He said the rule in the NFA is to have at least a 30-day buffer stock at the start of the lean months, and with the latter coming to an end, the government has a “comfortable” 15-day buffer stock. Calayag said the stock is considered “one of the highest,” compared to previous years. “We see no shortage in terms of production. In the past months, we talked to rice traders and they asked for help because their rice inventory is up to the ceiling already and has yet to be milled. We went to them and even last month, before this [shortage] issue cropped up, we have documentation that they have the inventory,” Calayag said. He added that some businessmen were apparently taking advantage of the remainder of the lean season to sell their rice at a higher price, since it would go down once the harvest season begins. Calayag said the NFA has been visiting warehouses to check on the rice inventory and has assigned people in public markets to ensure there is no “switching” of NFA rice and passed off as commercial rice. “As of this time, we have more than 200 cases filed against rice dealers. This is only for the duration of the lean months. These are businessmen who swap NFA rice and sell it as commercial [rice]. Others divert NFA rice and overprice it,” he said. In an interview after the budget hearing, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala dispelled speculation that the government would import more rice; all the necessary rice importation had been completed in June, he said. “I don’t know where these stories about more importation are coming from. We will not import [more rice],” Alcala said. He appealed to the public to report unscrupulous rice retailers and their cohorts, whom he believed to be responsible for misleading text messages and rumors of a rice shortage.

Economy  Posted on September 09, 2013 10:04:32 PM 

Senate approves DA budget THE SENATE has approved the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) proposed 2014  budget but will require irrigation and farm‐to‐market road projects to be  itemized before the plenary deliberations in November.    “The budget is approved, subject to the submission of documents earlier required and  requested by the chair,” Senator Francis “Chiz” G. Escudero, chairman of the finance  committee, told the DA officials.    “Kindly unbundle and give us the line‐item allocation of the P1.317‐billion irrigation projects of  NIA (National Irrigation Administration), both local and foreign‐assisted. Second, the [itemized  list of the] P13‐billion farm‐to‐market projects ... please submit it as well,” Mr. Escudero said.    The Senator also asked the DA to submit a detailed plan of the following’s agriculture  modernization thrusts:    • P6.9‐billion rice program    • P1.7‐billion corn program    • P1.6‐billion high‐valued commercial crop    • P1.3‐billion livestock program    • P3.7‐billion fisheries program    Mr. Escudero added that the P1.7 billion earmarked for the DA’s Payapa at Masaganang  Pamayanan (Pamana) program has to be disaggregated as well, in compliance with the recent  order of the Department of Budget and Management to specify all projects of government  agencies.    Failure to comply and meet the deadline, Oct. 15, will lead to inclusion in the so‐called negative 

list, under which funds and implementation of initiatives would be stalled.    A list of programs indicating which programs will be implemented by the DA and NGOs should  be handed in as well, Mr. Escudero noted, in light of the findings of the Commission on Audit  (CoA) special audit report.    “In our next meeting, we won’t anymore allow you, or any agency for that matter, to just  sweep the CoA audit under the rug. Instruct all your units to address the CoA findings ‐‐ you can  take the issues to court if you don’t agree with their findings ‐‐ but these definitely cannot be  left hanging and unanswered. We will make sure to ask each and every recommendation and  observation to be settled by the agency as well as your attached corporations,” Mr. Escudero  told the DA chief.    DA Secretary Proceso J. Alcala presented before the Senate committee the agency’s proposed  budget of P79.16 billion, up by 6% from this year’s allocation of P74.16 billion.    The bulk of the budget would go to capital outlay (P38.13 billion) while the remainder would be  allotted to maintenance and other operating expenses (P37.61 billion) and personnel services  (P3.42 billion).    In terms of operations and projects, the expenditure program of DA is pegged at P66 billion, the  bulk of which would go to irrigation network services (P22.43 billion).    Technical and support services, which include research and development, education and  training, and market development, would be allotted P14.06 billion.    Farm‐to‐market road network services ‐‐ considered a major factor in the agriculture sector’s  growth, according to Mr. Alcala ‐‐ would get P13.19 billion for both operations and projects. Of  the DA’s attached agencies, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources received the most  funding, P4.88 billion.    Among the government‐owned and ‐controlled corporations under the DA, the Philippine  Coconut Authority got the biggest allotment, P2.37 billion. ‐‐ K.T. de Villa

Party-list solons call for probe on PHL’s rice output Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Monday, 09 September 2013 20:04 Written by Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz and Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent Two party-list representatives are calling for an investigation into the performance of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to make the Philippines self-sufficient in rice and ensure the ample supply and affordability of the staple in the local market. Magdalo party-list representatives Gary Alejano and Francisco Ashley Acedillo on Monday filed a resolution at the House of Representatives to conduct an inquiry on the country’s rice situation. “While news items of progressive price hikes and persistent allegations of corruption in the DA and the National Food Authority’s [NFA] importation of rice may have precipitated the need for an investigation, this will be but starting points to a more thorough review of our self-sufficiency road maps and these agencies’ performance relative thereto,” Alejano and Acedillo said. Targets and policies on rice self-sufficiency are contained in the 2011-2016 Philippine Food Staples Self-Sufficiency Road map (FSSR). The FSSR sets 2013 as the year within which the country should be “rice self-sufficient.” Also, among the strategies the FSSR recommends adopting to achieve rice self-sufficiency this year is to allow the quantitative restriction (QR) on imported rice to expire in 2012 and to replace this with tariffs. “The DA and NFA’s rice self-sufficiency programs are inextricably the product of the FSSR. But while there is already a disparity between this year’s [palay] production target of 20.4 million metric tons (MMT) and the 18.45 MMT that we may realistically produce by the end of the year, the FSSR, on paper, says we should be producing 21.11 MMT if we were to be truly rice selfsufficient this year,” Alejano said. The party-list solons’ call for an inquiry came after Sen. Loren Legarda filed Senate Resolution 233 which seeks to investigate the “alarming” increase in rice prices in the country. The Senate investigation will also include other concerns such as the smuggling of rice and onion. Officials of the DA and the NFA are set to face senators this week. Earlier, Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz of Abakada-Guro party-list said he is also planning to call for a congressional inquiry on the alleged overpricing of rice imports from Vietnam. De la Cruz said his call for an investigation on the reported rice shortage has “gained greater urgency” after reports came out that the 205,700 metric tons (MT) of rice imported from Vietnam in April was “overpriced” by at least P442 million. “The [DA and the NFA] have a lot of explaining to do,” he said.

Meanwhile, rice industry watchdog Bantay Bigas criticized the Aquino administration for its alleged failure to stop the increase in the price of rice, the staple food of Filipinos. Bantay Bigas said that under the law, the Department of Trade and Industry has the power to have profiteering retailers and wholesalers arrested and prosecuted while the DA can move to influence prices by injecting more rice stocks into the local market. The group vowed to undertake protest actions to press the government to move against profiteering traders.‐commodities/19146‐party‐list‐solons‐ call‐for‐probe‐on‐phl‐s‐rice‐output                                     

Bayaw ni P-Noy sa rice smuggling? Published : Tuesday, September 10, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 159

GUMAWA na naman ng eksena ang founder ng Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Nur Misuari. Isinusulat ko ang pitak na ’to kahapon ng tanghali, tatlo na ang patay at 10 ang sugatan habang 11 barangays na ang sakop ng bandidong grupo ni Misuari sa Zamboanga City. Naapektuhan na ang pasok sa eskuwela ng mga bata, pati business transactions sa lungsod ay apektado na rin na malaki ang epekto tiyak sa ekonomiya. May 20 katao raw kasi ang hostage nina Misuari kaya hindi kaagad sila mapasok ng mga sundalo at militar. Nakulong na si Misuari sa kasong terorismo noong December 2007 pero nakapagpiyansa noong Abril 25, 2008. Ayaw kong isipin na ‘diversionary tactics’ ito ng ilang grupo para matabunan ang masalimuot na isyu ng ‘pork barrel scam.’ Mas gusto ko kasing makita kung paano lalabanan ng Aquino administration ang bandidong grupo ni Misuari. May 44 taon nang ‘naghahasik’ ng lagim ang MNLF kaya panahon na para sila kalusin! *** Mabigat ang natanggap nating impormasyon kamakailan. May naganap daw kasing meeting sa pagitan ng suspected smugglers na sina Ariel N, Bong L., David T. at isang Eldon Cruz na hindi ko alam kung ito rin iyong Eldon Cruz na sinasabing bayaw ni Presidente Aquino. Tungkol daw ito sa 1.6 milliong sako ng bigas na smuggled mula sa Vietnam. Base sa pagtaya ng U.S. Department of Agriculture, ang na-smuggle na bigas ay aabot sa 1.5 million metric tons

(30 milyong sako ng bigas). Ang grupo ni Davit T. ay nakapagpuslit na raw ng 487,000 metric tons, bukod pa sa sinasabing nakapagpalusot din sila ng 800,000 metro tonelada ng bigas o 16 milyong sako ng bigas. Kontak ng grupong ito sa monitoring at customs clearance and preparations para sa kanilang documentary requirements ang isang A. Yang o alyas Alex S. Kung totoo ang natanggap nating impormasyon na 1.5 million metric tons o 30 milyong sako ng bigas ang napupuslit ng organisadong grupong ito, aabot sa Php15 billion ang nalugi sa pamahalaan kung ang halaga ng isang sako ng bigas ay Php500 bawat isa. Ibig sabihin, mas malaki itong di hamak sa Php10 billion scam na pinag-uusapan kay pork barrel queen Janet Napoles na nakasamsam ng naturang halaga sa nakalipas na 10 taon. Ang catch pa rito, dalawang presidentiable raw ang ‘protector’ ng grupo nina Haring David, maliban siyempre na panibagong sakit ng ulo na naman kay P-Noy kung totoo mang ang bayaw nga niyang si Eldon ang tinutukoy sa isyung ’to. *** Pinasisilip na ni Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala ang posibleng pagsampa ng kasong ‘economic sabotage’ sa mga taong nais guluhin ang industriya ng bigas. Kamakailan kasi, ilang text messages ang natanggap ng ating kababayan na diumano’y may ipinamimigay na NFA rice sa Commonwealth at Pritil Market kaya dinumog ang mga nabanggit na pamilihan. May ilang grupo na namigay pa raw ng pera habang ang iba naman ay galit na galit sa liderato ni NFA chairman Orlan Calayan. Sa ambush interview ng Senate media kahapon, sinabi ni Alcala na organisado ang grupong naninira sa kanila. Naniniwala rin siyang ilan sa mga ito ay ‘rice smugglers’ mismo dahil sila ang unang-unang naaapektuhan sa ginagawa nilang paglilinis sa smuggling sa bigas. Higit lalo umanong galit ang mga ito kasi ipinahihinto na nila ang rice importation at hindi totoong mayroong krisis sa bigas. Sa ganang akin, posibleng ang nasa likod nito ay ang grupo nina Haring David na binanggit ko sa itaas. Maliban pa siyempre rito ay isang politiko na atat na atat na makuha na rin ang puwesto ni Alcala bilang DA secretary.‐bayaw‐ni‐p‐noy‐sa‐rice‐smuggling   

Smugglers blamed for rice shortage By Macon Ramos‐Araneta | Posted 11 hours ago | 253 views 

THE Department of Agriculture and the National Food Authority will have their hands full this week when the Senate starts its investigation of the rice situation due to the alarming increase in rice prices. Senator Loren Legarda, author of Senate Resolution 233 that seeks a Senate inquiry into the problem, said Sunday no stone will be left unturned to find out the truth about the rice situation. Senator Cynthia Villar, chairwoman of the Senate committee on agriculture, said the inquiry will be conducted this week and will be expanded to include other concerns. “In the process, we will also look into the smuggling of rice and onions and the reported hoarding of rice by some groups,” Villar said. She cited the need to review the government’s policies and programs on rice sufficiency. “There might be something lacking or there might be some things that need to be changed,” said Villar. Loren said the inquiry will determine the role and policies of the Department of Agriculture and National Food Authority relative to the government’s goal of achieving rice sufficiency. The inquiry will weigh the performance of the two departments against the “targets they have set for themselves. The targets and policies on rice self-sufficiency are contained in the 2011-2016 Philippine Food Staples Self-sufficiency Roadmap. The FSSR sets 2013 as the year the country should be selfsufficient in rice. “The DA and NFA’s current rice self-sufficiency programs are inextricably the product of the FSSR,” Legarda said.

No lead yet against rice smugglers, hoarders — DA Tuesday, 10 September 2013 08:00 Published in Headlines  

While Department of Agriculture (DA) and National Food Authority (NFA) officials repeatedly assured senators yesterday during deliberations of their respective agencies’ proposed 2014 budget that there is no rice shortage, they could not provide any logical explanation in the reported looming rice crisis and continuing price increases due to the supposed scarcity of supply, except that of a possible handiwork of purported “saboteurs” or unscrupulous individuals who are just out to milk money from the consuming public. But even in the face of a Senate investigation by the committee on agriculture into the “artificial rice shortage” anytime this week, DA officials claim to remain clueless as to the possible culprits, including those fanning disinformation on distribution of free rice in some key areas in Metro Manila the past few days. There seems to be a concerted effort to create the public impression of a rice supply problem, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala told Senate reporters in a chance interview even as he admitted that they still don’t have any lead even at this point in time. “It’s hard to say whether there are already leads but we’re doing everything we can so that our legal team can file appropriate charges the soonest time possible... There are some groups we’re looking at right now but we have to gather evidence before they can be formally charged,” he said. “There’s no rice crisis. You can be assured that there is NFA rice in all of our markets although there had been some price adjustments. It’s just that some groups seem to be out to cause for an increase in rice prices and create panic among the public. We are checking on this and we’re looking at possible charges of economic sabotage,” Alcala added. The DA chief also did not dismiss the possibility that rice smugglers are behind the current situation especially since the government has already prohibited the entry of imported rice since the NFA had already secured the required 200,000-metric ton of rice late June. “There are just some sectors out to effect a price increase before the harvest season sets in and are against the strict policy being imposed by the NFA on any rice importation,” he said. “We’re asking the help of the media to assist the government especially if there are reports concerning any attempts to smuggle rice as this could have a major impact on the livelihood of our farmers,” Alcala added. In the budget hearing by the Senate finance committee chaired by Sen. Francis Escudero, NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag told senators that they have even more than enough buffer stock. He said the government’s buffer stock, as of Monday, was at 638,000 metric tons available or 42,000 MT for 15 days.

“That’s even more than what we are required to keep because we are using the 34,000 metric tons in daily consumption for the entire Philippines. This does not include those from the private sector. If you consider the private inventory based on the number of households, we are looking at 1.7 million metric tons that is still available that is equivalent to 51 days,” Calayag added. At the House of Representatives, partylist lawmakers yesterday aired optimism that the truth about country’s rice supply situation will come out when the Senate starts its inquiry into the controversy, saying officials of the DA and the NFA will be grilled. Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano and Francisco Ashley Acedillo also vowed to file a resolution backing a House inquiry which was originally sought by Abakada partylist Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz. Alejano and Acedillo added the hearings should be scheduled immediately to be fair to the public that has been fed with conflicting reports about the supposed shortage of rice supply in the country. In an interview, the two lawmakers said they are calling for a parallel House investigation “with the intention of leaving no stone unturned to ferret out the truth amid conflicting statements in media.” “While news items of progressive price hikes and persistent allegations of corruption in the DA and NFA’s importation of rice may have precipitated the need for an investigation, this will be but starting points to a more thorough review of our self-sufficiency roadmaps and these agencies’ performance relative thereto,” the lawmakers stressed. Targets and policies on rice self-sufficiency are contained in the 2011-2016 Philippine Food Staples Self-sufficiency Roadmap (FSSR). The FSSR sets 2013 as the year within which the country should be rice self-sufficient. Alejano explained that the current rice self-sufficiency program of the DA and the NFA was lifted from the FSSR although there appears to be a disparity between the target of 20.4 million MT this year and the 18.45 million MT that may actually be produced by December 2013. Charlie V. Manalo

Investigate all releases SEARCH FOR TRUTH By Ernesto M. Maceda (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 10, 2013 ‐  12:00am   0  5 googleplus0  1  

Senator Chiz Escudero has proposed the expansion of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee probe in the pork scam to include all non-governmental organizations (NGOs) including the 74 included in the Commission on Audit (COA) report other than the 8 linked with Janet Napoles. This is a move in the right direction. The investigation should also investigate the use of funds coming from other lump-sum funds like the Malampaya fund, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), the Road Board funds, the P12-B farm-to-market fund of the Department of Agriculture, the lump-sum funds of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). The investigation should further be expanded to cover all hard projects of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). TV and newspaper stories have reported unfinished or ghost road projects in Legaspi, Zamboanga, Cotabato, Maguindanao, Palawan, and Pampanga. It is believed that lawmakers also get 30-40% kickback from favored contractors of hard projects, especially roads. It should also be revealed who are the favored contractors who cornered most of the big projects including 2011-2012. A few contractors were awarded Road Board contracts. There is also the matter of rigged bidding in DPWH contracts. Yes indeed, let’s expand the investigation to cover all funds, including intelligence funds of so many offices, including those given to Government-Owned and Controlled Corporation (GOCC) executives. Opinion ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1  

The Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council (IAAGCC) investigation headed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales should also cover all funds and all releases to include those from 2010 to the present. There are also consistent reports that one has to pay a commission to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) officials to get a release of funds.

No PSF listing Up to this point in time, President Aquino has not complied with a promise to issue a listing of the projects funded by his Presidential Social Fund (PSF) and the requesting sponsors for the same. It is therefore not clear yet that the PSF has not released funds to NGOs too. The other fund begging for a report as to whom it has been released is the P165 billion Malampaya funds, of which P900 million has been released to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and also linked to NGOs. Releases totalling P3 billion to the province of Palawan have also been questioned. Recall the misuse of PCSO funds by President Arroyo. AFP-MNLF clash Forces of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) soldiers clashed in Zambonga City resulting in 6 dead, 14 wounded, and 20 civilian hostages taken by the MNLF. Flights to Zamboanga and classes have been suspended. The incident expands the hostilities with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), to include now the MNLF. The MNLF through spokesman Atty. Emmanuel Fontanilla said, the MNLF soldiers were on the way to a peace rally when they were harassed by government troops. It looks like this is just the start of clashes with the MNLF who have an estimated 10,000 armed men. Rice prices up The price of rice has gone up to P35-41 per kilo. DA Sec. Proceso Alcala suspects rice cartels and syndicates are behind the increase in prices. He says, there is enough supply with the government only importing 200,000 metric tons this year. Rice smuggling has also added to the supply. Sen. Loren Legarda has filed a resolution seeking an investigation of the increase in the prices of rice. The next rice harvest is supposed to come in this month of September. There is no justification for the increase of prices of rice. Insulting The NCR Regional Wage Board has approved a measly P10 per day increase in the minimum wage. Prices of rice, gasoline, cooking oil, meat, and vegetable prices are up. There’s an impending increase in water rates.

Certainly, the minimum wage is one clear way to help the poor as a big percentage of the population. It is time to review the regional wage board mechanism. It is an anti-labor board because the government representatives usually vote with the management panel. House scraps pork The House committee on appropriations has recommended to the plenary session the abolition of the P27-billion PDAF. It appears, however, that congressmen can still request funds for their district projects directly from the departments concerned including some GOCCs, and especially DPWH, DILG, and DA. Congressmen are expected to be given at least P10 million each from lump-sum appropriations of the DA. Sen. Ralph Recto has identified the P94 billion lump-sum funds in the 2014 budget. The congressman as in the past can also be allocated funds from the Road User’s Tax fund from the Road Board. The lawmakers can also direct requests for school buildings to the Department of Education (DepEd) and requests for medicines from the Department of Health (DOH), and PCSO. Let us see how the P27 billion funds will be realigned and what restrictions will be provided in the budget for their release. Ateneo law homecoming The Grand Alumni Homecoming of Ateneo Law hosted by Class ’89 will be held on October 18, 2013 at the New World Hotel, with its theme, “Generations of Ateneo Lawyers”. It honors families who have two or more members from Ateneo LAW as well as Jubilarian classes ’88, ’73 and ’63. Class ’89 has embarked on projects to help deserving individuals obtain an Ateneo Law education. To assist in their worthwhile efforts, we are encouraged to sponsor a scholar for a donation of P5,000 and get a chance a win a Volvo XC60. For details, please contact the Ateneo Law Alumni Office at 8997691 or 9865598.

Bicol’s ‘pork’ scam Category: Opinion Published on Monday, 09 September 2013 19:49 Written by Ernesto Hilario

FORMER Rep. Arnulfo Fuentebella of Camarines Sur province, who served as House speaker during the Estrada administration and House deputy speaker during the Arroyo administration, now finds himself in hot water after the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) raised questions over the use of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Various Infrastructure including Local Projects (VILP) allocations during his stint in Congress. In the 462-page special audit report for the years 2007 to 2009, the COA listed P197 million worth of PDAF and VILP funds allocated to Fuentebella. Of this amount, P120 million were for VILP or “hard” projects and P76.8 million were for “soft” projects. The state auditing firm said P18.6 million of the lawmaker’s PDAF went to the Partido District Development Cooperative Inc. (PDDCI), through the Technology Resource Center, for a livelihood training and entrepreneurial promotions and development program for farmers. The PDDCI is reportedly not registered with either the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Cooperative Development Authority and is said to be led by Fuentebella’s driver. The cooperative does not even have records at the Business Permit and Licensing Office of the municipal hall in Camarines Sur’s Tigaon town, where Fuentebella’s son Arnulf Bryan is the mayor. In a hearing of the House appropriations committee, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala pointed to Fuentebella as one of six legislators who had channeled a combined P83.2 million of their PDAF outlays at the DA to the Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation, one of the 10 identified bogus non-governmental organizations of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles. Fuentebella used to represent the Partido area in Camarines Sur, which remains among the country’s poorest, despite the hundreds of millions of pesos in developments funds allotted to the district. Apart from the PDAF and VILP budgets, the Fuentebella-controlled district also enjoys separate special funding through the Partido Development Administration (PDA), which his son Felix William, or “Wimpy,” headed under the Arroyo administration.

The PDA has become a financial burden to the government, with the COA’s 2009 Annual Audit Report showing that the PDA has been operating at a loss for the years 2009 (P33,355,328.32) and 2008 (P66,247,741.64). Its foreign loans and national debt, likewise, amount to more than P1 billion and which is being paid for and assumed by the national government because the PDA is unable to service its obligations. Despite the huge funds received by the PDA, five of the municipalities covered by the agency remain among the poorest in Camarines Sur. One of these—Tigaon—has been classified by the National Statistical Coordination Board as among the country’s worst-governed local government units. What the COA findings indicate is that the Fuentebellas have apparently turned the PDAF-VILP system into a family business. Although Fuentebella is no longer deputy speaker, the channeling of public funds to other uses is feared to continue, since his son has replaced him as the representative of the Partido district. Fuentebella, his wife Evelyn (the mayor of Sagnay town), and their sons Felix William and Arnulf Bryan are already facing plunder charges before the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly using P80 million in public funds for the construction of roads, multipurpose facilities and other public works in their private estates. In a 15-page plunder complaint, the Fuentebellas were accused of using some P28 million in taxpayers’ money to build infrastructure projects leading to their private beach resort in Sagay and P32 million more for other development projects in their private properties in Abo and Gaao villages in Tigaon. Several local executives in Fuentebella’s district are now calling on the Department of Justice to include him in the initial list of politicians who should be prosecuted in connection with the P10billion pork-barrel scam. Vice Mayor Alfredo Gonzaga of Goa, former Mayor Elmo Bombase of Tigaon and ex-Councilor Francisco Tria III of Sagnay—all from the Partido district—cited the “the magnitude of [Fuentebella’s] pork-related ‘shenanigans’ enumerated in the COA special audit report as clear evidence against the former House leader.” Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona of Nueva Caceres has joined the call for a speedy and impartial probe into the misuse of public funds. In a pastoral letter read in Catholic churches across the province recently, the prelate emphasized the need for the Aquino administration to ensure the “lawful conviction of the guilty” to prove its commitment to truth and justice. E-mail:

Production of forest products down 50% in 2012–FMB Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Monday, 09 September 2013 20:03 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga The country’s production of major forest products went down by as much as 50 percent last year, following the government’s strict implementation of the ban on logging in natural forests. Figures released by the forest statistics division of the Forest Management Bureau (FMB) under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) showed that the production of logs, lumber, veneer and plywood went down by 40 percent to 50 percent in 2012. The FMB records show that logs produced in 2012 totaled 519,349 cubic meters, down by 40 percent compared to the 2011 total of 871,126 cubic meters. Lumber produced in 2012 also dropped to 183,554 cubic meters, or 50 percent lower compared to the previous year’s total of 370,351 cubic meters. Veneer production last year also fell short, from a high of 184,768 cubic meters in 2011 to 67,873cubic meters or down by 63 percent. Plywood suffered the biggest setback as 2012 production, reaching only 161,600 cubic meters. This is nearly 46 percent lower than the total production of 298,061 cubic meters in 2011. FMB said these forest products are produced from trees harvested in forest plantations, mostly in the Caraga region or Region 13, which remains as the country’s top producer of wood products. The ban on the cutting of trees in natural forests took effect in early 2011, with the signing of Executive Order 23 by President Aquino, consistent with EO 26 which called for the massive reforestation of the country’s bald forests under the National Greening Program (NGP). The program aims to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of open, degraded and denuded forests, including mangroves along the country’s coastal areas between 2011 to 2016. As of August 2013, over 400,000 hectares of land have been planted, exceeding the program’s 2011 and 2012 targets of 100,000 and 200,000 hectares, respectively. By the end of 2013, FMB Director and National Coordinator of NGP Ricardo Calderon said the government hopes to exceed its target of reforesting 300,000 hectares. In an earlier interview, Calderon said the drop in the production of logs, lumber, veneer and plywood, is expected with the ban on logging activities in natural forests still in effect. “All these products are from forest plantations. These are fast-growing trees that can be ready for harvest between five to seven years,” he said.‐commodities/19145‐production‐of‐ forest‐products‐down‐50‐in‐2012‐fmb 

Philippines botanical research gaining ground September 9, 2013 7:26 pm   by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ 

The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) is furthering its initial research on Betel nut and trichoderma in containing pests and fungal infection, as part of its efforts to develop organic solutions for the country’s agriculture sector. Rex Bingabing, PhilMech executive director, said that the agency has tested at least eight botanical plants in the Philippines and based on initial research, Betel nut showed potential in significantly reducing pests and fungal pathogens. “This can be considered a very big step in PhilMech’s research and development efforts to come up with organic solutions for use by Filipino farmers. Betel is also widely grown in the Philippines and for sure, there are thousands of such trees in the country today,” Bingabing said. Beside Betel, PhilMech scientists and researchers tested Fish Poison Tree (bituon), Stink Grass (kantutay), Devil Weed (hagonoy), jatropha (tubang bakod or tuba-tuba), acacia, bayating and anobrang. The extracts were tested against pests like maize and rice weevil, red flour beetle and grain borer, and against fungal plant pathogens Apergillus flavus, Lasiodiplodia theobromae, Fusarium verticilloides and Colletotrichum gloeosporioides. Among the eight botanicals tested, only Betel showed significant effect on the mortality of adult insects and fungal pathogens. PhilMech, the technology and mechanization research arm of the Department of Agriculture, is also developing and formulating a strain of trichoderma harzianum to combat major postharvest fungal pathogens in banana. Trichoderma formulations from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Mexico, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United States are currently available for farming applications, and PhilMech wants to commercialize a strain that can effectively deal with the banana crown rot. So far, PhilMech has successfully isolated strain DGA02 of trichoderma harzianum as effective against banana crown rot-causing pathogens. “The ultimate objective is to come up with a commercial package that will be easily used by banana farmers and exporters,” Bingabing said. The commercial package can be in the form of wettable powder, granular formulations, pelleted formulation and liquid formulation. Banana crown rot is one of the major postharvest problems of banana farmers and exporters, who currently use chemicals to contain the pathogens cause the fungal infection. However, chemical use on banana harvests can negatively affect human health. Bananas are one of the major agricultural exports of the Philippines.‐botanical‐research‐gaining‐ground/38172/ 

Local firm seeks DA assistance to export crocodile meat Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Monday, 09 September 2013 20:02 Written by Alladin S. Diega / Correspondent Local crocodile meat processor Coral Agri-Venture Farm (CAVFI) has asked the Department of Agriculture (DA) to assist them in exporting their product. Careen Belo, manager of CAVFI, said crocodile meat has “huge” export potential. “Buyers from Russia and China had expressed interest to import crocodile meat for food from us and they have asked us to send them samples,” Belo told the BusinessMirror in a telephone interview. She said, however, that the company is “at a loss” on how they should proceed with their export plans. “Since our product is considered exotic, we don’t know what papers are needed or procedures to undertake. That is why we need the help of the government,” Belo said. The CAVFI official said Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala visited the company’s crocodile breeding and processing facility in Morong, Rizal last month. Company officials asked Alcala to help them export crocodile meat. As a wildlife species, the conservation of crocodiles falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). CAVFI noted, however, that it remains unaware of which government agency should be responsible for approving the export of crocodile meat. Belo said CAVFI supplies some 50 kilos of raw meat to different restaurants in Metro Manila and that orders are increasing every month. A kilo of raw crocodile meat sells between P500 and P700. “Aside from raw meat, we also sell pre-processed meat, like sisig, for those who do not know how to prepare the exotic meat,” she said. The company also sells crocodile skin to various manufacturers of bags and other accessories. Five years ago, the Crocodylus Porosus Philippines Inc. (CPPI), an association of six commercial crocodile farms in the country, had asked the DA to ease regulations concerning crocodile trade. In a letter dated February 21, 2007, CPPI President Vicente P. Mercado said the crocodile farming industry in the Philippines is “over regulated,” in part because of the overlapping and unclear jurisdictions of the DA and DENR.

CAVFI, a member of CPPI, has renewed the group’s call for the formulation of guidelines on the issuance of permits, jurisdiction on crocodile farms, farming and slaughtering, meat hygiene, animal welfare and disease control. In response, Alcala instructed Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) acting director Rubina O. Cresencio to coordinate with the DENR and look into the status of the resolution sent by the industry group. In a letter dated August 22, Cresencio asked Dr. Theresa Mundita S. Lim, director of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the DENR, to review the status of the group’s resolution and to look into the possibility of setting a meeting between the secretaries of the DA and DENR. Founded in 2000, CPPI members were selected by the DENR to engage in crocodile farming. They all received their original stock from the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.‐commodities/19144‐local‐firm‐seeks‐ da‐assistance‐to‐export‐crocodile‐meat                               

Economy  Posted on September 09, 2013 10:02:43 PM 

E. Visayas rice price increases said temporary PALO, LEYTE ‐‐ The National Food Authority (NFA) has assured that the increase  in rice prices is temporary and that these will likely stabilize later this month.    Mary Agnes R. Militante, NFA regional information officer, said that price increases are  expected during these lean months, when commercial warehouses have less inventory.    “Stocks of rice in NFA warehouses are substantial, but our sales are still calibrated since the  price of regular milled rice is still below P40 per kilogram,” Ms. Militante said.    As of Aug. 31, the price of well‐milled rice went up to P40.33 per kilogram, about 13% more  than the P35.60/kg rate in June.    Regular milled rice was cheaper at P36.83/kg, but this was also 14% more than the P32.33/kg  recorded in June. As for stocks, as of end‐August, there were 390,962 bags of NFA rice in  Eastern Visayas. These will last 68 days, based on the 5,721‐bag average daily sales. NFA sells  rice at P27/kg.    Antonio G. Gerundio, Department of Agriculture regional executive director, said that the price  of rice is expected to decline later this month when the harvest season starts.    “This is quite expected because we are at the peak of lean months. This is just temporary, and  we expect more harvest from traditional planting area and third cropping,” Mr. Gerundio said.    For 2013, the DA regional office aims to produce 1.15 million metric tons (MT), 15% more than  the 2012 harvest. Target production for the July‐December period is 520,780 MT from 136,249  hectares of rice fields.The DA expects an additional 85,647 MT from 28,757 hectares of new  planting areas. ‐‐ Sarwell Q. Meniano‐Visayas‐rice‐price‐increases‐ said‐temporary&id=76214 

Economy  Posted on September 09, 2013 10:02:20 PM 

S. Mindanao rice supply “normal” ‐‐ NFA DAVAO CITY ‐‐ The National Food Authority (NFA) assured that Southern  Mindanao has enough rice to sustain the region’s total population for over 90  days.    A worker inspects stacks of rice at a National Food Authority warehouse in this Aug. 12, 2010  photo. NFA authorities in Southern Mindanao say there should be no cause for alarm over the  region’s supply. ‐‐ AFP  In a press statement sent to media, Edgar S. Bentulan, regional director of the NFA in South  Cotabato, said the rice supply situation in the region “is normal.”    “There should be no cause for alarm,” Mr. Bentulan said, pointing out that the agency’s  imported iron‐fortified rice is still sold at P27 per kilogram, while the price of well‐milled rice  was at P32/kg.    The NFA retail outlets, numbering 649 in the region, are “each given daily allocation according  to the marketing plan set by the province,” he said, adding that of these outlets, 242 stores are  in this city.    Mr. Bentulan said that the region’s rice supply is also augmented with commercial rice as initial  rice harvest has resulted in about 825,000 bags, based on inventory.    The NFA has also dispatched its mobile procurement teams to the different barangays where  harvests are already ongoing, he said.    Because of these mobile buying teams, the agency hit a record‐breaking 300,000 bags during  the first semester of the year, or about 120% of the target for the period.    The agency buys at P17/kg of palay.    To ensure that the region will have enough rice for the second semester, the NFA’s central 

office has deposited about P442.5 million to buy 500,000 bags of palay.    But, Mr. Bentulan also speculated that prices of rice in the local farms are going down as  harvest is expected to peak this month.    Meanwhile, the City Agriculturist Office said it is developing new farms for production of upland  rice varieties to increase local production. Davao City’s farms are mostly planted with high‐ value crops, specifically tropical fruits.    Councilor Leonardo R. Avila III, former city agriculturist, said that upland rice varieties,  especially those organically grown, command higher prices in the local market.    Surplus upland rice produced, Mr. Avila said, would eventually be exported. ‐‐ Carmelito Q.  Francisco‐Mindanao‐rice‐supply‐ %E2%80%9Cnormal%E2%80%9D‐‐‐‐NFA&id=76213                             

Economy  Posted on September 09, 2013 10:01:16 PM 

New facility to help Davao Oriental food processors ‐‐ DTI THE DEPARTMENT of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Davao Oriental expects a P1‐million shared  service facility (SSF) to boost the productivity of the province’s food processing association,  according to a statement from the agency yesterday.  “The [SSF] project, which has a total cost of P1 million, is expected to address production gaps,  to wit: limited capitalization, which hinders the group to purchase the necessary machines,  equipment, and facilities; and absence of upgraded and efficient machines and equipment in  the working area, which is a requirement to become GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice)‐ certified,” the statement read.    The SSF includes, among other equipment, an electric mixer, fruit depulper, meat grinder, food  blender, pressurized cooker, deep fryer, vacuum sealer, and peanut roaster.They facility was  turned over to the Davao Oriental Food Processors Associations (DOFoods)��in July. DOFoods is  an organization of 34 local micro food processors that make fruits jams and jellies, puree and  juices, candies, sweetened banana chips, peanut brittle, processed meat and fish products,  dairy products, rice‐based food products, cacao tablets, and ice cream.    “Micro as they are, their vision of establishing a processing center remained a remote chance  for them because of its huge investment requirement that is beyond their capacity,” DTI  Provincial Director Ma. Belenda Q. Ambi said in the statement.    “A standard processing center is all they need to fill the gap [and] conform with the  requirements of food regulating agencies. Thus, with the facility in place, food products from  Davao Oriental can now compete with other food products in the market in terms of quality,  availability and affordability,” Ms. Ambi added.  SSFs are part of the DTI’s industry clustering  program to improve production processes for micro, small, and medium enterprises in terms of  quality, productivity and efficiency. The facilities are intended for the common use of  beneficiaries and community‐based cooperatives. SSFs have a budget of P700 million for the  year. ‐‐ D.E.D. Saclag‐facility‐to‐help‐Davao‐Oriental‐food‐ processors‐‐‐‐DTI&id=76211 

Too predictable • •

Written by Charlie V. Manalo Tuesday, 10 September 2013 08:00


t the rate the administration-led Senate blue ribbon committee is conducting its

investigation on the alleged pork barrel scam, it won’t be surprising if all opposition lawmakers tagged in the controversy would be found guilty and be recommended for prosecution, while at the same time, it will be absolving all allies of this administration. For even with the dramatics employed by the committee chairman, Sen. TG Guingona, the Senate investigation is turning out to be no different from a local telenovela, a story with a predictable plot. First, Guingona and his army of investigators grilled the officials of the implementing agencies, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) which releases the funds and the Commission on Audit regarding the release of the legislators’ priority development assistance fund to alleged bogus non-government organizations, which CoA audit reports bared were anomalous. But noticeably, Guingona failed to grill the implementing agencies fully on their involvement in the alleged anomalous projects. Every General Appropriations Act passed every year carries a provision that implementing agencies should ensure that all projects involving the Priority Development Assitance Fund (PDAF) should be properly executed. The bidding of every project occurs at the level of the implementing agencies, the execution of the project is carried out by these implementing agencies up to the evaluation and liquidation. So, why do these implementing agencies utilize the same non-government organizations (NGOs), given their failure to fully execute and liquidate the funds released to them for the projects extended to them? Surely, the implementing agencies would have to be involved, if indeed the transactions are found to be anomalous. And also, why did Guingona fail to question Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala who was present during the hearing, on why he funded a project of an NGO based in Pangasinan when he was still a congressman even though he was representing the 2nd district of Quezon then? Isn’t it part of the supposed pork anomaly? And why did Guingona fail to question the DBM and the Department of Agriculture (DA) regarding the issuance of a special allotment release order in the name of Camarines Sur Rep. Arnulfo Fuentebella in April 27, 2011 for a supposed project for an NGO even with the former solon not making any request for such purpose but with both agencies failing to notify him?

Why did Guingona fail to question both DBM and the DA on why a notice of cash allocation as released for the same SARO in Jan. 13, way beyond the expiration of the said SARO? If this happened to Fuentebella, this could have also have happened and still be happening to other lawmakers. While I am not an investigator myself, I firmly believe this alone, could help establish the fact that a syndicate might be operating within the said agencies, preying on the pork barrel of the unsuspecting lawmakers. With regard to the CoA, Guingona also failed to compel the state auditors to produce the results of their regular auditing for the period covering 2007 to 2009 and compare them with the results of CoA’s special audit report for the same period which has so far targeted only a selected group of lawmakers. Guingona also failed to compel CoA to produce the results of its audit for the period covering 2010 to 2012 and appeared to be content with the listing provided by the state auditors listing only the names of the administration’s perceived political opponents. But what could be the critical point in the plot being carried out by Guingona’s committee was when Mar Roxas’ name cropped up in the CoA report alleging that the channeled P5 million of his pork when he was still a senator, to a questionable NGO based in Caloocan City. Even before anybody could pursue an investigation on the said issue, no less than President Aquino came to Mar’s defense, absolving him of any wrong doing, saying Roxas was not among those involved in funneling money to bogus NGOs during his term as senator. To substantiate this, deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte was quoted saying they have the ability to quickly discern what is a substantial allegation and what is an allegation borne out of politicking, justifying that the revelations against Roxas was merely borne out of politics. Valte even said that it should be the NGO which should be made to explain on the manner by which it disbursed Mar’s pork. But why not apply the same line of reasoning to the other lawmakers being implicated in the issue? And speaking for Noynoy, Edwin Lacierda, said that Roxas can never be tempted to engage in a corrupt activity. “In his years of public service, Secretary Mar Roxas has never been tainted with any allegation of anomaly,” Lacierda was quoted saying. Roxas was never tainted with anomaly? But weren’t the lawmakers being implicated in the alleged pork scam, also not tainted with anomaly before this issue came out? I am no fan of Sen. Bong Revilla as I don’t find him amazing enough. But as far as I recall, he has never been charged with any anomaly nor was he convicted for such.

I am also no fan of Sen. Juan Ponce-Enrile as he is being alleged to be one of the architects of Martial Law, but I don’t recall him being charged for corruption, other than the accusations of being involved in coups and attempt to destabilize the government. I also am no big fan of Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and I have never watched any of his movies yet, but he has never been convicted on any corruption cases. He may have been charged with plunder along with his father before, but he has been cleared by the court. So basically, almost all the lawmakers now being implicated in the alleged pork scam were, just like Roxas, immaculate-clean before this issue came out in the open, with regard to corruption cases. So why is Noynoy only absolving Mar and not the other lawmakers? In so doing, Noynoy is essentially issuing a marching order to Guingona not to drag Mar into the issue. Thus as it is, Guingona has refused to let his investigation take a life of its own, let the probe take its natural course, and include all other personalities whose names would crop up in the nature of his investigation, opposition or otherwise. Unfortunately, Guingona seems to be following the story line of the script provided to him by Malacañang, transforming his probe in a selected persecution of perceived administration opponents, particularly those who are potential candidates for 2016 including their supporters, destroying their credibility in the process. As such, it would be only predictable his telenovela would have to end with a virtually unopposed Mar for the next presidential election and win the presidential polls, of course, with the big help of the precinct count optical scan cheating machine.‐too‐predictable                     

Hacienda Luisita farmers to get proof of ownership Category: Nation Published on Monday, 09 September 2013 19:40 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga THE Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is set to distribute the certificate of land ownership award (CLOA) of beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) for the Hacienda Luisita within the month. However, the DAR has yet to decide what will be the mode of distribution, since Hacienda Luisita is the biggest private landholding ever to be distributed by the agency. Traditionally, CLOAs are distributed during simple ceremonies where the beneficiary or a designated representative receives the so-called proof of ownership. Agrarian Reform Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Anthony Parungao said: “As for the distribution or awarding, we are still thinking of whether to do it per barangay or at the same time. Actually, there are advantages if the Cloas will be distributed per barangay, but we are still thinking about one-time distribution, or per town for, that matter. Parungao said the generation of CLOAs for the Hacienda Luisita farmers will be completed within the week for those already with completed Applications to Purchase and Farmers’ Undertaking (Apfu). “We are informing those without Apfu to sign [the document] so that registration of titles will not be delayed,” he said. Parungao said the DAR’s field personnel have been distributing leaflets and posting tarpaulin billboards in strategic areas within the hacienda to notify the beneficiaries. “We are bending over backwards and going the extra mile on this to give them every opportunity to sign [the Apfus],” he added. Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes earlier warned defiant Hacienda Luisita farmers that they will lose the opportunity of owning a piece of the Cojuangco-Aquino sugar estate by refusing to sign the Apfu. He said the signing of the Apfu guarantees the farmers’ commitment to the terms and conditions of the program, including commitment to cultivate the CARP-awarded land and make it productive. Each of the 6,212 beneficiaries will get approximately 6,600 square meters. Parungao said as of Friday, a total of 6,005 CLOAs have been generated for 5,402 beneficiaries, while a total of 5,325 have been submitted to the Registry of Deeds in Tarlac City as of Saturday. He said that of the 6,212 land allocation certificates (LAC), only 305 have not been claimed, or roughly 4.9 percent, of the total.

LandBank lauds strong CFIs Category: Banking & Finance Published on Monday, 09 September 2013 19:22 Written by Genivi Factao THE Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank) has recognized top countryside financial institutions (CFIs) for making their presence count in rural places no matter the heightened competition from bigger banks and non- bank institutions. LandBank President and CEO Gilda E. Pico paid tribute to outstanding partner CFIs for their valuable support to the bank’s various credit programs promoting countryside development. “Apart from their strong countryside penetration, CFIs have unique strengths and potentials that allow them to truly play a distinct role in countryside development. This bounty of possibilities has inspired us over the years to continuously expand support to this sector,” Pico said. From January to June this year, LandBank extended P9.8 billion in loans to CFIs, benefiting 165,478 farmers and fishermen nationwide. Chairman of the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries Rep. Nelson P. Collantes highlighted the role of CFIs in promoting inclusive growth to improve the economy. “CFIs are the best tools to achieve inclusive growth because they serve as conduits for loan acquisition, especially in rural and underdeveloped areas,” he said. The outstanding CFIs serve as models of excellence in rural financial services. LandBank gave total cash prizes of P1.95 million. Conferred with the Golden Award was the One Network Bank Inc. a rural bank in Davao City. One Network was chosen for its continued to support small farmers and fisherfolk as evidenced by their increasing number of small farmers and fisherfolk assisted and loan portfolio to the sector. One Network Bank Inc. President Alex Buenaventura received the trophy and cash prize of P500,000. LandBank named the Rural Bank of Goa Inc. from Camarines Sur as the most outstanding CFI in the national category, followed by the Gateway Rural Bank Inc. in Bulacan. The Rural Bank of San Jose Inc. in Camarines Sur bagged the third place, while the Rural Bank of Cauayan Inc. in Cauayan City and the Cantilan Bank Inc. in Surigao del Sur landed in fourth and fifth places, respectively.

The first, second and third place winners in the national level received P300,000, P200,000 and P150,000, respectively, while the fourth- and fifth-place winners received P100,000 and P75,000, respectively. LANDBANK also gave citations and a cash prize of P75,000 each to the most outstanding rural banks in three political regions: Region 1 – Rang-ay Bank, Inc.; Region 4-A - BangkoKabayan, Inc.; Region 11 – Rural Bank of Digos, Inc. Special awards were also given to the Rang-ay Bank, Inc. of La Union as Best CFI Intermediary, with lowest pass-on rate to end borrowers. The Rural Bank of Cauayan, Inc. of Isabela as Best CFI Availer – Agri/Agra Loans. Rural Bank of Goa, Inc. of Camarines Sur as Best CFI Availer – Microfinance Loans and Gateway Rural Bank, Inc. of Bulacan as Best CFI Availer – All Loans.

Philippine peso advances on Fed tapering outlook; bonds decline Category: Banking & Finance Published on Monday, 09 September 2013 19:21 Written by Bloomberg News The Philippine peso gained for a second day after US jobs data reinforced speculation the Federal Reserve will proceed at a cautious pace in reining in monetary stimulus that fueled demand for emerging-market assets. Payrolls in the US climbed less than projected in August, a Labor Department report showed on September 6. The Federal Open Market Committee will probably reduce asset purchases to $75 billion from $85 billion at the September 17 and 18 meeting, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 34 economists after the jobs report. The peso has lost 7.4 percent this year. Philippine bonds fell before unemployment and trade data tomorrow. “Employment is a little bit shaky again,” Rafael Algarra, executive vice president and head of financial markets at Security Bank Corp. in Manila said. “It might be good for the Fed to be not too aggressive in its tapering. This is going to be positive for those currencies against the US dollar.” The peso appreciated 0.3 percent to 44.36 per dollar as of 10:11 a.m. in Manila, Tullett Prebon Plc. data show. One-month implied volatility, a measure of expected moves in the exchange rate used to price options, advanced one basis point, or 0.01 percentage point, to 7.01 percent. Philippine exports probably fell 1 percent in July from a year earlier, after a 4.1-percent increase the previous month, according to the median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg News survey before government data due on Tuesday. The yield on the government’s 8 percent bonds due July 2031 increased five basis points to 5.0 percent, according to prices from Tradition Financial Services. That was the highest level in two months. Bloomberg News

DENR, Meralco launch search for environment-friendly schools Category: Nation Published on Monday, 09 September 2013 19:36 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga / Reporter THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources’s Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) has forged ties with the One Meralco Foundation for the search for sustainable and eco-friendly schools. The 2013 National Search for Sustainable and Eco-friendly Schools partnership was formalized with the signing of a memorandum of agreement recently in Pasig City by EMB Director Juan Miguel T. Cuna and One Meralco President Jeffrey O. Tarayao. Under the agreement, One Meralco Foundation will provide P900,000 worth of cash prizes and plaques for schools in the elementary, high-school and college levels that will be recognized for their exceptional programs on energy efficiency and conservation. Also called Meralco Energy Leadership Award, schools will be recognized for their exemplary initiatives to promote practices in electrical safety, energy efficiency and conservation. “This is the first year that this leadership award will be given to schools that will join the national search,” Cuna said. Tarayao, on the other hand, said it has long been an advocacy of Meralco to recognize public and private schools for their good initiatives in electricity conservation. “We want teachers and students to deepen their understanding of the vital role energy plays in their lives. Since the DENR has a very good platform for environmental and energy advocacies through the National Search for Sustainable and Eco-friendly Schools, we decided to forge a partnership with them to assist them in this endeavor,” Tarayao said. In 2008 the DENR-EMB initiated the Nationwide Search for Sustainable and Eco-friendly Schools. The nationwide search is a direct response to Republic Act 9512, also known as the Environmental Awareness and Education Act of 2008. It is also the Philippines’s initiative in support to the declaration of 2012 as the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Environment Year, with the theme “Environmental Awareness thru Eco-Schools,” and the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014). The contest aims to encourage schools and academic institutions to become more actively involved in environmental issues at the local level.

Also, it aims to develop skills and understanding among students, faculty and school administrators to initiate active practical responses and increase community awareness and involvement on environmental concerns. A total of nine schools will be declared as overall eco-friendly champions in November in time for the national observance of the National Environmental Awareness Month.

Deficit swells as government ups spending ante Category: Top News Published on Monday, 09 September 2013 21:44 Written by Bianca Cuaresma National government (NG) deficit totaled P53 billion in July, up 36 percent from the year-ago shortfall of only P39 billion, indicative of a government with renewed resolve to ramp up spending to optimize the year’s growth potential. This, Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima said on Monday, helped push the seven-month budgetary shortfall to P105 billion, as the pace of public-sector disbursement far exceeded collection. The government anticipates a nine-month deficit of P144 billion. For July, total government spending rose 22 percent, compared to the same month last year to P198.84 billion. Its nine-month spending accelerated to P1.089 trillion, which helped narrow the year-to-date expenditure shortfall. The government, however, needs to accelerate further its spending in the remaining five months of the year to reach its programmed expenditure of P1.98 trillion. On average, the government spent around P155 billion a month in the first seven months of the year, thus far. To hit the P1.98-trillion spending program, the government must ramp up its spending by an average of P178.2 billion per month. A higher disbursement rate is needed to sustain the robust 7.6-percent growth posted in the first six months. President Aquino himself committed to accelerate the disbursement of funds, particularly those earmarked for public-infrastructure programs. Purisima expressed confidence that the increased spending pace in July helped boost local output measured as gross domestic product. “Our fiscal operations for July show that our expenditures have gained momentum, indicating increased investments in priority infrastructure and social projects. With both revenues and expenditures posting double-digit increases, this means that the Philippine government is stepping up its efforts to support our growing economy,� Purisima said. In July revenues collected by the government also grew by 17.3 percent from a year earlier to P144.62 billion. Seven-month revenues totaled P984.09 billion. Aggregate revenues for the period were also 11.3 percent higher than revenues seen in the same period last year.

Of total revenues of P144.64 billion, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) collected P100.1 billion, while the Bureau of Customs collected only P27.67 billion. The Bureau of the Treasury contributed P7.95 billion, while revenue from other offices amounted to P8.91 billion. Purisima also cited the performance of the economy in the second quarter when local output averaged 7.5 percent despite the net outflow of capital and the general weakness of currencies across emerging markets including the local currency the peso. “That this growth comes at a time when other economies are forced to retreat due to uncertainty signals that the Philippines has evolved to differentiate itself from the limitations of the traditional emerging market model. Of note is increased government activity afforded by expanded fiscal space, which pushed public construction and government consumption to grow by 31.1 percent and 17.0 percent, respectively, for the second quarter,” Purisima said.‐news/19172‐deficit‐swells‐as‐government‐ ups‐spending‐ante                                 

Generation charge hikes September power rates Category: Top News Published on Monday, 09 September 2013 21:37 Written by Lenie Lectura Electricity rates will go up this month because of a higher generation charge and other bill components, the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) said on Monday. The utility firm said there would be an overall increase of 18 centavos per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in the rates for September because the generation charge went up by P0.13/kWh more to P5.17/kWh. Also, the transmission charge and other charges increased by P0.08 and P0.01/kWh, respectively. Overall, electricity rates should go up by P0.22/kWh but because taxes decreased by P0.04/kWh, an average residential customer with 200/kWh consumption will experience an P0.18/kWh increase in his or her September electricity bill. Meralco reiterated that it does not earn from these pass-through charges, the largest of which is the generation charge. The payment for the generation charge goes to the power suppliers, such as the Independent Power Producers (IPPs), plants selling to Meralco under the Power Supply Agreements (PSAs) and the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM). The rest of the passthrough costs include transmission, taxes, universal charges and other charges. Meralco’s distribution, supply and metering charges account for only about 18 percent on average of the total electricity bill. Meralco said there was an P8.70/kWh increase in the cost of electricity from the WESM. WESM prices went up as a result of increases in the trading amount, coupled with higher previous-month adjustments. Despite the increase, this month’s generation charge is still P0.62 lower than the January 2013 level of P5.79/kWh, reflective of costs in December 2012, prior to the effectivity of the PSAs. Rates of both the new PSAs and IPPs, meanwhile, went down by P0.03/kWh. This was mainly due to an improvement in capacity factor for some plants and the reduction in coal price for the supply month of August, which offset the impact of a slight depreciation of the peso against the dollar. On a year-on-year basis, this month’s generation charge is P0.23 centavos per kWh, lower than that in September 2012 and reflects the contribution of the new PSAs, which remained to be the lowest cost source of supply.In terms of contribution to Meralco’s total supply requirements for the August supply month, PSAs, IPPs, WESM and other sources had shares of 56.1 percent, 41.4 percent, 2.4 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.

Proposed 2014 budget retains Aquino, lawmakers’ ‘pork,’ says Makabayan bloc Category: Economy Published on Monday, 09 September 2013 20:37 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent The pork-barrel fund is still in the proposed budget apart from the more than P1-trillion discretionary funds of President Aquino that are not subject to audit, the Makabayan bloc said on Monday. Makabayan issued the statement as the congressional hearings for the proposed 2014 national budget drew to a close, with the Aquino allies pontificating that the pork barrel had been deleted from the proposed General Appropriations Bill (GAB). House Bill (HB) 2630 or the 2014 GAB still contains the P25.24-billion allocation for Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), along with the Special Purpose Funds (SPFs) and various lump-sum items comprising presidential pork. Copies of HB 2630, principally authored by House Committee on Appropriations Chairman Isidro Ungab, were distributed to House members last week. “The appropriations bill is not yet final and is still subject to further deliberations. Yet, what we’re pointing out is that if the majority and the appropriations committee is sincere in the call for the abolition of the pork barrel, these items should not have been included in the proposed bill in the first place,” Kabataan Party-list Rep. Terry Ridon of Makabayan said. The House Committee on Appropriations was set to conclude the budget deliberations on Monday, after which the GAB is expected to be passed at the committee level, thereby forwarding HB 2630 to the plenary for further deliberations during the second reading. Amendments can be inserted during this phase, before the bill finally passes in the third and final reading. After this, the Lower House will forward the bill to the Senate. Once the upper chamber passes its own version of the GAB, a bicameral conference will be convened to reconcile differences in the House and Senate versions. In the event it is finalized, the bill will then be submitted to the Office of the President (OP) for approval. “HB 2630 contradicts earlier statements released by the House majority, as it retained not only the PDAF, but also lump sums and other questionable items—an utter disregard to the public’s growing outrage against the pork-barrel system,” Ridon said.

Apart from the PDAF, HB 2630 retained lump-sum funds in the national budget, including the SPFs worth P310 billion. Also included are Unprogrammed funds worth P139 billion and Automatic Appropriations worth P796 billion, questionable in-budget line items, including funds for intelligence and confidential expenses worth P1.4 billion, Pamana funds worth P7.22 billion, Conditional Cash-Transfer Funds worth P62.6 billion, and funding for Bottom-Up Budgeting worth P20 billion. These items, along with funds from realigned savings and off-budget accounts worth anywhere between P56 billion and P113 billion, constitute what is referred to as the “presidential pork barrel” since these funds undergo little to no public scrutiny even from Congress, the Makabayan party-list pointed out in a briefing paper released last month. “The Makabayan bloc is currently drafting a resolution for the rechanneling and itemization of a large portion of these funds. We in Makabayan will not let PDAF and the presidential pork barrel pass through the plenary debates without a fight,” Ridon said. Meanwhile, protests against the pork-barrel system continue to snowball, with the fate of the PDAF and the presidential pork barrel still hanging in limbo. In time for the congressional hearing for the budget of the OP, youth groups picketed outside Congress’ gates at noon on Monday. Members of Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students, National Union of Students of the Philippines and other youth groups denounced not only the retention of the presidential pork but also the rampant corruption under the Aquino administration. Student leaders under the anti-pork alliance Youth Act Now also announced the group’s series of protest activities this week, including coordinated banner posting in schools and communities, noise barrages and other similar activities, culminating in the September 13 “Rock and Rage” protest in Luneta. The September 13 Luneta protest will be attended by multisectoral formations, including members of the clergy, students from public and private schools, and various people’s organizations. “As long as the President and his cohorts continue the doublespeak and continue to cling to the pork-barrel system, the protests will only intensify. The youth is ready to take the lead in this protracted struggle against corruption and deception,” Ridon said.‐proposed‐2014‐budget‐ retains‐aquino‐lawmakers‐pork‐says‐makabayan‐bloc 

P2.9-million DTI project for MSMEs boosts entrepreneurship in Zambales Category: Economy Published on Monday, 09 September 2013 19:28 Written by Henry Empeño / Correspondent

SAN FELIPE, Zambales—Small entrepreneurs here and in five other towns of Zambales received a big boost from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), following the launch of six shared-service facilities (SSFs) designed to enhance the competitiveness of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the province. The recently inaugurated SSFs in Zambales were designed for vegetable noodles processing in the municipality of Castillejos, sweet potato (camote) processing here and in Cabangan, pastillas processing in Palauig and Tetrapak bags production in Olongapo City. A similar facility has been established in Candelaria town. Mari Febrero, vice chairman of the Maloma Multipurpose Cooperative in this town, said the sweet potato processing facility would be a big help to their group, which has 125 members, as well as to local farmers who would be selling their produce for processing. “Before the SSF, we can only produce camote chips. Now we have a bigger product line because of the equipment from DTI,” Febrero said, proudly showing pan de sal bread that the cooperative has made from camote flour. In Castillejos town, meanwhile, Mayor Jose Angelo Dominguez said the vegetable noodles produced by the local cooperative under the SSF Program would not only provide income to residents but would also benefit local schoolchildren in terms of providing nutritious and affordable snacks. According to the DTI, the SSF Program is a strategic complementary project that intends to achieve inclusive growth as envisioned by the Aquino administration. It entails the setting up of common-service facilities, or production centers, to give MSMEs access to better technology and more sophisticated equipment to accelerate their bid for competitiveness. Under this P700-million national program, facilities can be shared by beneficiaries such as cooperatives, institutions and communities, to help them become more competitive in the local and foreign markets and be integrated in the global supply chain.

Depending on the line of business required, the facilities may be equipped with packaging machines, mechanical driers, industrial weighing scales, noodle- making machineries, vegetable and meat slicers, metal craft machineries, milk extraction equipment, deep fat fryers, stainless industrial tables, chillers and freezers. DTI Region 3 Director Judith Angeles, who attended the SSF launchings in Castillejos and San Felipe said: “We don’t want anyone to fall behind as the country moves forward to progress. “We’re giving you more equipment so that you may be more productive,” she told the beneficiaries. Angeles said the DTI will initially lend equipment to co-operators who will be using the SSFs. The equipment to be installed in the province are worth a total of P2.9 million, she said. “However, if we see that you are doing well, and that you are using the equipment fully, we are going to donate these to you after five years. It’s like the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s conditional cash transfer; ours is conditional equipment transfer,” Angeles said. She added that the bases for the eventual transfer of equipment would be the number of beneficiaries, jobs generated, amount of products sold and equipment generated. Angeles, likewise, said that they have identified nine qualified cooperatives in the province that will benefit from the program. The beneficiaries were determined according to experience, track record and legal personality. Meanwhile, DTI Provincial Director Leonila T. Baluyut said the DTI will be providing technical assistance to the beneficiaries and will be monitoring their progress. “We want to see that you would be earning from this program, especially the housewives. In these times, the womenfolk shouldn’t be relegated to just staying at home, they should also be equal partners in earning a living,” Baluyot said. “Our challenge to local cooperatives is to make sure that all members earn. This means that you should also patronize your products, so that the cooperative would grow,” she added. The SSF projects were met by the local community with excitement and enthusiasm. San Felipe Mayor Carolyn Fariñas said the project “looks promising,” especially for Febrero and other members of the cooperative at Barangay Maloma. “This facility would strengthen the cooperative and help improve the economy of Barangay Maloma,” Maloma Barangay Captain Fernando Arañas said. “This is the first time that a blessing such as this reached us here in Maloma, so we are very thankful to the DTI for their program. They can count on us to support this project,” he added. In Photo: Members of a cooperative in Castillejos, Zambales, produce vegetable noodles using a shared-service facility put up by the DTI. (Henry Empeño)‐p2‐9‐million‐dti‐project‐for‐ msmes‐boosts‐entrepreneurship‐in‐zambales 

All-digital government financial transactions seen in five years Category: Banking & Finance Published on Monday, 09 September 2013 19:25 Financial transactions among the various government agencies were seen shifted to all-digital format in five years as the program abandoning cash-based transactions gain traction, according to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). Budget Undersecretary Richard Bon Moya, also chief information officer at the agency, said baby steps taken two years earlier have began to accelerate as both the DBM and the country’s armed forces took the first few steps to go cashless and embrace the e-money technology instead. According to Moya, governments that adopted the all-digital format typically took seven to 10 years to execute the transition. In the case of the Philippines, the goal is to complete the transition hopefully within five years or around 2018. “This is not a quick system to roll out. Elsewhere, the transition typically took seven to 10 years,” he said of the program backed by the Better Than Cash Alliance (BTCA) which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The overriding goal, Moya said, had been to eliminate areas for corruption, optimize government operations and generate savings at the same time. The local unit of the global financial services provider Citigroup won the initial bid to provide the plastic cards that will make the transition happen. According to Moya, Citibank Manila makes money from the merchant outlets previously enrolled by government as participating outlets and not from the government itself. Under the program, the DBM and personnel from the various armed forces have been issued cards that will allow them to make small-item purchases such as medicine and groceries. A credit limit is imposed based on the agency’s history of purchases and only on eligible merchant outlets that do not include certain types of restaurants and bars. The cards may now also be used to purchase plane tickets, essential items for armed forces personnel that typically get deployed rather quickly to flashpoints in the country, Moya said. He said with the cards in place, ambiguities in the purchase of essential items by government personnel are eliminated, making for a more transparent bureaucracy that now creates a digital footprint of anything it purchases.

Moya also said the corporate card for DBM and armed forces personnel sought and obtained approval from the policy-making Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas owing to the nature of the card as an instrument of credit. More or less 98 percent of all government transactions are conducted on cash basis at the moment. With the cards in place, the goal is to go all-digital in just a few years, Moya said.‐finance/19130‐all‐digital‐ government‐financial‐transactions‐seen‐in‐five‐years                                       

Binay’s office not giving up P200‐M ‘pork’ for 2014 By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 10, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Vice President Jejomar Binay’s office won’t let go of his P200-million pork barrel fund for next year. During yesterday’s House of Representatives appropriations committee hearing on Binay’s P417-million 2014 budget, his chief of staff Benjamin Martinez Jr. was grilled on his principal’s “pork.” Alliance of Concerned Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio asked Martinez whether the Vice President would treat his P200-million allocation “as PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) or not PDAF.” PDAF is the official name of the congressional pork barrel. It allocates P200 million for each senator and P70 million for each House member. Tracing the history of the P200-million allocation, Martinez said Binay is actually the country’s first vice president who was given such fund. “In 2011, this was the unspent PDAF balance of President Aquino. However, starting in 2012, this amount has been integrated into our regular annual budget as an appropriation for locally funded projects,” he said. “Does this mean that Binay does not consider the amount as PDAF?” Tinio asked. “It is part of our regular budget,” Martinez reiterated. He said Binay is using the fund to put up P500,000 worth of buildings for senior citizens and for medical, disaster relief and educational assistance. Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice said he does not believe that building shelters for senior citizens and extending medical, educational and disaster relief assistance should be part of the Vice President’s job. He said Binay has P85 million for “subsidies and donations” on top of his P200-million pork. Erice said the Vice President’s office treats its P200-million fund as a PDAF allocation as evidence by the briefing material it submitted to the appropriations committee. For his part, Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, appropriations committee chairman, read the provisions of the 2013 budget law on Binay’s P200-million fund. Ungab said under the law, such fund would be for the “priority programs and projects identified by the Vice President.”

“Not more than 50 percent of it shall be for what lawmakers call ‘soft’ projects like medical and educational assistance, and not more than 50 percent for ‘hard’ or infrastructure projects. The P200 million is subject to the same conditions, limitations and requirements as the PDAF,” he said. “Clearly, the P200-million fund is in the nature of a PDAF allocation. Besides, it originated from the PDAF,” he stressed. Ungab pointed out that it is the consensus of House members “to do away with the PDAF.” Martinez said it is the prerogative of the House to scrap Binay’s fund. “We will respect your decision on this matter. But we insist that it’s no longer PDAF as it is already part of our regular budget,” he said. During the hearing, Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian urged Binay’s office to strengthen its campaign against human trafficking.                            

PCG intercepts 1,600 sacks of 'undocumented' rice  ( | Updated September 9, 2013 ‐ 2:00pm 

MANILA, Philippines - At least 1,600 sacks of undocumented rice were intercepted by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Sunday night. The PCG said that its station in Zamboanga City alerted all its units after receiving a report tht a cargo vessel loaded with smuggled rice will arrive in the city. At around 11 p.m., members of the PCG and the Philippine Navy intercepted M/B Erwana, a wooden-hulled cargo vessel, at around 11 p.m. The operatives said that the crew of the motor boat failed to show proper documents for the shipment of the 1,600 sacks of rice. The PCG said that the motor boat is owned and operated by a certain Adzman Hussin of Upper Port Holland in Maluso, Basilan. Its operatives along with members of the Philippine Navy are on standby for the possible filing of charges in connection with the intercepted rice shipment.‐intercepts‐1600‐sacks‐undocumented‐rice                       

Gov’t reports P53.22‐B deficit in July By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 10, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

  MANILA, Philippines - The government incurred a budget deficit of P53.22 billion in July, up 36 percent from a year ago as expenditures outpaced revenue growth, the Department of Finance (DOF) reported yesterday. This brings the seven-month deficit to P104.5 billion, up nearly 42 percent from the P73.63 billion fiscal gap recorded a year ago. Government expenditures rose 13.6 percent to P1.089 trillion at end-July, while tax collections and other revenues increased a slower pace of 11.3 percent to P984 billion. Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the government is on track to meeting the P144.4-billion deficit program for the first nine months of the year. “Our fiscal operations for July show that our expenditures have gained momentum, indicating increased investments in priority infrastructure and social projects. With both revenues and expenditures posting double-digit increases, this marks that the Philippine government is stepping up its efforts to support our growing economy,” Purisima said.

Revenues in July alone rose 17 percent to P145 billion on improved collections from the Bureau of Internal Revenues, Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Treasury and other government offices. Government expenditures jumped 21.7 percent to P197.84 billion in July from a year ago level. Interest payments amounted to P54 billion in July, bringing the year-to-date total to P211 billion. The figures are both below the government estimates. Netting out interest payments, the government achieved a P288 million and P106 billion primary surplus in July and the first seven months of the year, respectively. The government said it remains on track to keeping the budget deficit to two percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013 through 2016. Optimism over the country’s economic growth prospects as well as steady remittances from overseas Filipinos have spurred strong capital inflows. The government has responded by ramping up domestic borrowings to cushion the economy from wild foreign exchange fluctuations. – with Delon Porcalla‐reports‐p53.22‐b‐deficit‐july                           

Six senators’ 2012 pork tied to Napoles P178 million released to NGOs through LGUs   By Fernando del Mundo  Philippine Daily Inquirer   12:00 am | Tuesday, September 10th, 2013  


Enrile Janet Lim-Napoles’ dummy groups secured millions of pesos worth of questionable livelihood projects under the Aquino administration from the pork barrel funds of at least six senators last year, according to a 2012 report of the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). The reports on the websites of the COA and the DBM showed that the activities of Napoles, the alleged mastermind behind a P10-billion swindling scheme, went on not only for much of the graft-ridden administration of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but also continued well into the “daang matuwid” regime of President Aquino. Mentioned in the reports were Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Revilla Jr., Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Vicente Sotto III and Loren Legarda. They allegedly allowed the nongovernment organizations (NGOs) controlled by Napoles access to their allocations under the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). All six senators denied any wrongdoing.

Revilla The PDAF, or pork barrel, is meant to ease rural poverty and provide relief to storm victims, among many others. In many cases, however, the PDAF has become a source of kickbacks for lawmakers. In the 2012 reports of COA and the DBM, Estrada gave P63 million of his PDAF to the Napoles NGOs in four local government units (LGUs), Marcos, P40 million to four towns, Legarda, P25 million to three LGUs, Sotto, P20 million to two LGUs, Revilla, P20 million to two towns and Enrile, P10 million to one municipality. In previous reports by whistle-blowers to the National Bureau of Investigation that the Inquirer published in July and the COA special audit from 2007 to 2009, only senators in the opposition were mentioned, giving rise to criticism that they were the object of an administration “demolition” job. The accusers said the schemes generated kickbacks of up to 70 percent. Dinalupihan project But the 2012 audit report said Legarda, an administration ally, had authorized P5 million of her PDAF allocation for the distribution of farm products for high-value crops in Dinalupihan and P10-million allotment in Pilar, both in Bataan province, coursed through Napoles’ NGO People’s Organization for Progress (POPDF). In the Dinalupihan project, the POPDF was also endorsed as the implementing agency of Enrile (P10 million) and Estrada (P23 million).

Marcos The audit commission said a review of the fund transferred to the NGO amounting to P38 million from the three senators disclosed that the LGU in Dinalupihan had “failed to submit the necessary supporting documents needed upon the release, implementation and liquidation of funds as required by the COA.” It said there was “no final utilization report, no liquidation report, no warranty for procurement of farm supplies.” The COA said that the rules on procurement under Republic Act No. 9184 were disregarded in the Dinalupihan program. It said documentary requirements on the liquidation of funds were either insufficient or incomplete, in violation of COA Circular No. 2012-001 dated June 14, 2012. “The offices of Estrada, Enrile and Legarda allocated to the municipality P38 million from their PDAF as per various Saros (statement of allotment release orders from the DBM) for the implementation of livelihood projects. Attached to the voucher was a letter of request that the project be implemented by the People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation,” it said. High-yield enhancement

Estrada Estrada’s PDAF allocations for Dinalupihan came in three tranches with Saros attached—P5 million for 137 organic agrarian implement packages at P36,450 each, P10 million in 487 highvalue yield enhancement packages each costing P20,500, and P8 million in farm inputs and implements at P20,500 per package. Enrile’s P10-million pork barrel went to 487 high-value yield enhancement packages at P20,500 each, and Legarda’s P5 million for a similar deal. Aside from Legarda’s endorsement of P10 million of her pork barrel funds to the POPDF livelihood project in Pilar, the COA said the NGO there also secured authorization to use another P10 million from Revilla’s pork allocation, P10 million from Marcos and P5 million from Estrada. Here, the COA said that the P35 million in total funds to the Pilar LGU was released even before memorandums of agreement (MOAs) could be notarized. “Distribution of goods could not be ascertained,” it said. The POPDF was “identified and designated by the concerned senator to expedite the implementation of the project” in Pilar, the COA said.

Legarda “Thus, the validation of the disbursements of Priority Development Assistance Funds cannot be made,” the report said. The COA said that in San Antonio, Nueva Ecija province, a postaudit of transactions disclosed that 10 vouchers amounting to P90 million for livelihood projects were coursed through three Napoles NGOs—Countrywide and Rural Economic Development, Ginintuang Alay sa Magsasaka Foundation and Kaupdanan Mangunguma Foundation Inc. “[The] funds were received by the LGU through the initiative of different senators from their PDAF, but were disbursed to NGOs/PO (public organizations) without complete supporting documents. This practice does not conform with Section 2 of COA Circular No. 2012-001 dated June 14, 2012. DBM disbursements The senators were not named in the COA report, but the Department of Budget and Management website of last year showed that Estrada had coursed P15 million of his PDAF allocation to San Antonio, Sotto P15 million, Revilla P10 million, Legarda P10 million, and Marcos P10 million.


Sotto The audit commission said that P30 million in PDAF funds went to Calasiao in Pangasinan province and implemented by Napoles’ Kaupdanan “for the implementation of livelihood projects for entrepreneurs and small farmers” from the PDAF allocations of “various senators” who likewise were unnamed. “We noted that documents required in the COA circular dated June 25, 2007, were not attached to the disbursement vouchers,” it said. In addition, there were insufficient documents, including the certificate of Kaupdanan’s registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission, a copy of its articles of incorporation, financial reports audited by independent certified public accountants for the past three years, disclosure of its related businesses and a complete project proposal,” the commission said. The DBM website showed Calasiao received disbursements of P5 million from Sotto’s PDAF and P10 million from Marcos. The COA report also said Kaupdanan secured P47 million in livelihood projects for Sual, also in Pangasinan, which also lacked documentation. It did not mention where the PDAF allocations came from, but the DBM website showed that P20 million of Estrada’s allocations went to Sual, along with P10 million from Marcos.   Read more:‐senators‐2012‐pork‐tied‐to‐ napoles#ixzz2eSb3NjgV   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook                     

Church to help farmers victimized by fake NGOs By Tonette Orejas  Inquirer Central Luzon   9:09 pm | Monday, September 9th, 2013  


San Fernando Archbishop Paciano Aniceto: No toleration of erring priests PHOTO FROM CBCPONLINE.NET CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—At least 500 farmers and fisherfolk in Pampanga who were listed as recipients of four projects by two nongovernment organizations (NGO) linked to detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles can seek legal aid from the Archdiocese of San Fernando. “They may approach us any time through our social action center,” Archbishop Paciano Aniceto told reporters after he led the celebration of Mass for the 57th anniversary of the canonical coronation of the Virgen de los Remedios and Sto. Cristo del Perdon, patrons of Pampanga, on Sunday. Through the center’s Fr. Francis Dizon, legal assistance could be extended to victims in Masantol, Macabebe, San Luis and Guagua towns, Aniceto said. The Roman Catholic Church, he said, “is always constant in its protection of the underprivileged, those who are victimized by injustice, calamities and poverty.” The four projects by Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc. and Gintong Pangkabuhayan Foundation in Pampanga were among the 124 alleged bogus projects funded through a P900-million share of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) from the Malampaya funds between November 2009 and May 2010, documents accompanying the affidavits of whistle-blowers showed.

The projects in Masantol and San Luis, worth P7.5 million each, were attributed to Kaupdanan while those in Macabebe and Guagua, also worth P7.5 million each, were traced to Gintong Pangkabuhayan. Former and incumbent mayors said they did not solicit or implement the projects. Former Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman did not answer the Inquirer’s calls. Registered in 2008, Kaupdanan is still an active NGO based on the general information it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on May 30. An amended sworn statement it filed with the SEC showed that its project in 2011, worth P4.8 million, was funded by the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the official name of congressional pork barrel, of Sen. Jinggoy Estrada. Done in Calasiao town in Pangasinan province, the project consisted of farm supplies, sprayers, seeds and fertilizers, similar to what were distributed in Masantol. Only the supposed recipients in Masantol came out in November when they learned about the scam through a verification letter by Director Susan Garcia of the Commission on Audit’s (COA) Special Audit Office. They denied receiving the post-Typhoon “Ondoy” Farming Yield Emergency Contingency Project of the DAR, worth P35,781 per package, in December 2009, saying they had no use for the inputs since there were no farmlands or land reform areas in the coastal towns of Pampanga. They claimed their signatures were forged. Their leaders have appealed to the DAR and COA to free them from any liabilities by removing their names as beneficiaries. Without any explanation, the provincial board in 2012 canceled a planned investigation into the anomaly. National Bureau of Investigation agents met with Masantol fishers in July and asked them to sign affidavits, the leaders said. Aniceto said the social action center had a social justice committee, which could assist the victims. It may get official word from the DAR or COA that the supposed beneficiaries were actually victims and should be free from any legal case, he said. In his homily, the prelate urged lawmakers who funneled their PDAF to bogus projects of NGOs used by Napoles to return the money to the national treasury. “I think that is very just. I don’t know the way but justice demands that it should go back to the real recipients, since these are the taxes of the people,” he told reporters.

“Let’s not cry only. Let’s grieve because [these erring senators and congressmen and their cohorts] insulted God. They hurt God because they stole taxes from the poor, the money for the poor,” he said in his homily. “Patriotism should take the better of government leaders and employees to protect the poor and liberate them from poverty. Aniceto asked prayers for government leaders and employees so they may emulate the Virgin Mary, whose hallmark was obedience to God. “Our public leaders should live among farmers, fisherfolk, Aetas and workers so that they may know what poverty really means,” he said.   Read more:‐to‐help‐farmers‐victimized‐by‐fake‐ ngos#ixzz2eSbEJvu4   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook                                   


Coconut festival stirs memories abroad By Delfin T. Mallari Jr.  Inquirer Southern Luzon   9:07 pm | Monday, September 9th, 2013  


STREET dancers during the “Niyogyugan Festival” PHOTO COURTESY OF THE QUEZON INFORMATION OFFICE LUCENA CITY—Memories of the weeklong “Niyogyugan Festival,” which showcased Quezon province’s top products and rich cultural traditions in colorful fiesta-like events, have spilled overseas from Perez Park and the provincial Capitol complex in Lucena City. Amelia Perez, a retired teacher from the Bondoc Peninsula, said her daughter and grandchildren, who are based in Italy, had been pestering her for video CDs of the different events. Her daughter, a nurse who has been out of the country since the early 90s, saw some photos and video clips posted by her brother on her Facebook account and cried, Perez said. Janet Geneblazo-Buelo, Quezon public information officer, said the Internet had helped provide a wider audience for the festival. Photos and video clips have been posted on social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Instagram and other online sites, she said, citing her friends and provincial employees. Niyogyugan was coined from “niyog,” the Tagalog word for coconut, and “yugyog,” or move to a fast beat. Quezon Rep. Aleta Suarez, the governor’s mother, conceptualized the first Niyogyugan festival last year to feature the artistry, beauty and rich cultural heritage of the province. This year, the festival was held on Aug. 12-19 at Perez Park and the Capitol complex. It was the local government’s way of recognizing the role of the coconut, also known as the “tree of life,” to its contribution to the cultural and historical development of Quezon, Gov. David Suarez said.

It displayed agricultural and other products from 38 municipalities, which joined the AgriTourism trade fair. Buelo noted a high demand for the products seen by prospective buyers. On Aug. 14, people lined up along the major city streets for the dance parade competition. Lucena Bishop Emilio Marquez held Mass at the Quezon Convention Center on Aug. 19 to commemorate the 135th birth anniversary of Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon, a native of Baler, Aurora, a former subprovince of Quezon. In his homily, Marquez urged local officials and people to continue their united efforts to promote the province. Despite the success of the festival, some farmer groups said it was irrelevant to the sorry plight of poor coconut farmers. In a statement, Mylene Santos, spokesperson of the Pinag-Isang Lakas ng mga Magsasaka sa Quezon, said a government-sponsored festival is the “height of callousness” amid worsening landlessness and poverty suffered by coconut farmers. Coconut farmers across the country are still struggling for the return of the multibillion-peso coconut levy fund forcibly collected from them by the Marcos regime in the 1970s amid dipping copra prices. In his State of the Province Address on Aug. 12, Suarez appealed to the provincial board to pass a resolution asking the national government to return the levy, estimated at P72 billion, to the farmers.   Read more:‐festival‐stirs‐memories‐ abroad#ixzz2eSbOoaMz   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook               

Senators fume over COA report on pork By TJ Burgonio  Philippine Daily Inquirer   12:20 am | Tuesday, September 10th, 2013  

Senators on Monday bristled at the Commission on Audit (COA) report on the alleged diversion of their pork barrel allotments to local government units (LGUs) through implementing agencies controlled by Janet Lim-Napoles. Sen. Loren Legarda in a text message said that she gave funding to projects in municipalities but that she never dealt “officially or unofficially” with the nongovernment organizations (NGOs). She was in a meeting when the Inquirer called, and did not reply to follow-up questions by text. Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, for his part, dismissed what he called a rehash of an old COA story. “Is there anything new? That’s an old report. The mayor wrote me a letter [explaining the project]. I can prove that to you,” Estrada tersely said by phone, indicating that the project was legitimate. He referred to Dinalupihan Mayor Joel Payumo. Reacting to a DBM report that he coursed P15 million of his pork barrel for a project in Nueva Ecija through Napoles’ NGOs, Sen. Vicente Sotto III said he could not recall the specific project but said his office was reviewing all projects funded with his pork barrel. “Out of the hundreds of requests, out of the hundreds of projects given, I could not recall that. The important thing is that our office is waiting for reports from the COA if there are irregularities,” he said by phone. When told that the findings showed that the funds were disbursed without supporting documents, Sotto said: “That is not my work.” Sotto appealed to the media to carefully sift through allegations and reports that have yet to be validated by the COA to avoid unduly implicating lawmakers in controversies. “As far as I know, the COA has never questioned my office about any irregularities. Better check the source, it could be a bum steer (kuryente) or a demolition job,” he later said in a text message. Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile declined to be interviewed on the pork barrel scam, while Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr.’s staff said they would reply at the proper time. Signature forged Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s staff said his PDAF releases to NGOs were being investigated.

Marcos also disowned his purported endorsement of a government corporation as the implementor of livelihood projects using P100 million of his pork barrel in 2012. The denial came after COA team leader Magno Oasan confirmed the authenticity of Marcos’ signature in his endorsement letter to National Livelihood Development Corp. (NLDC) in March 2012. In that endorsement letter, Marcos also purportedly designated four NGOs as conduits in the implementation of the projects and designated his chief of staff, Ramon Cardenas, to sign documents. The NGOs were Ginintuang Alay sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (P5 million); Agricultura para sa Magbubukid Foundation Inc. (P25 million); Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc. (P25 million) and Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. (P45 million). In a statement, Marcos said he had written back Oasan to say that his signature was “not mine” and that he “never authorized” Cardenas or any person to deal with the NLDC. Marcos said his staff, whom he instructed to investigate the matter, found out that his signature in the NLDC endorsement letter was falsified; the endorsement letter did not appear in the “docket system” of the senator’s office; the signatures of Cardenas in the memorandums of agreement with the four NGOs were falsified; and the MOAs were of dubious origin, among others. The senator said the findings were transmitted to the COA “in the hope that this could aid” in its audit. “When this scandal broke out, I purposely kept quiet—even when my name was constantly being dragged into this controversy,” he said in the statement. “Instead, I instructed my office to conduct an investigation because I wanted to be very sure about what I would say since I didn’t want to misinform nor mislead the public,” he added.   Read more:‐fume‐over‐coa‐report‐on‐ pork#ixzz2eSbywE24   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook           

‘Pork’ Barrel syndicate within DBM exposed by Ben Rosario  September 10, 2013  


OCHOA AT HOUSE HEARING – Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa (left) speaks during the budget hearing at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on Sept. 9, 2013. Looking on is Cabinet Secretary Jose Almendras. (KJ Rosales) Manila, Philippines — New evidence in the pork barrel scam pointed to the existence of a syndicate operating within the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), with the group counting a former Speaker of the House of Representatives among its victims. A group of reporters covering the House of Representatives received from a source several documents showing that former Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella’s Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) for P5 million of his share of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) was covered with a Notice of Cash Allocation (NCA) weeks after the SARO had expired. Among the documents is a copy of Fuentebella’s SARO assigned with number BMB-G-11T00000377 issued on April 27, 2011, and supposedly intended for financial assistance for the implementation of a livelihood project involving organic farming for high value crops for microentrepreneur and small farmers from District 4 in Camarines Sur. The SARO indicated that the amount to be released will only be valid “for obligation until December 31, 2012.” Another document indicated that an NCA was released for the said SARO on Jan. 13, two weeks after the SARO has expired. “If a SARO has expired, the lawmaker to which the SARO was issued should obligate the DBM, which in turn would issue an extension,” said the highly reliable source. “But in this case, it is obvious Congressman Fuentebella did not obligate the DBM because he was not notified a SARO was issued to him. So, if he was not aware of what was happening, then

how would he take any step to obligate the DBM to issue an extension for his SARO?” he told reporters. The source noted that 15 percent of the amount indicated in the SARO had apparently been spent as Director Irene Alagoc of the Department of Agriculture (DA) has reportedly asked Fuentebella what he intended to do with the remaining 85 percent of the amount. He aired hopes that the expose would pave the way for a congressional investigation into the apparent existence of a DBM-based syndicate victimizing lawmakers. The source also urged lawmakers to check their PDAF allocations to determine whether or not they have also been victimized by the group. Fuentebella, whose latest post in the House was that of deputy speaker, could not be reached for comment. However, last week, the former House official revealed that the DBM, in 2011, released a SARO involving his PDAF supposedly intended for the implementation of High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) to the DA without his knowledge. And while the SARO was released more than two years ago, an NCA was only issued by the DBM in Jan. 13 early this year to the DA, paving the way for the release of 15 percent of the total amount involved, amounting to P750,000 to the Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc. (KPMFI), supposedly representing expenses for mobilization fee. Fuentebella denied having made any request for such project, nor was he notified a SARO and an NCA was issued by the DBM for his PDAF’s release for the supposed project.‐barrel‐syndicate‐within‐dbm‐exposed/                   

No rice shortage, says DA, but Solons seek inquiry September 10, 2013 (updated)  

Manila, Philippines — Agriculture officials said yesterday there is no rice shortage in the country after defending the Department of Agriculture (DA) budget proposal for 2014 in the Senate, but in the House of Representatives, Magdalo party-list lawmakers said they were optimistic that the truth about the country’s rice supply situation will come out when the House starts its own inquiry in the face of conflicting rice reports. In yesterday’s Senate hearing on the DA’s proposed budget for 2014, Secretary Proceso Alcala and National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Orlan A. Calatag answered questions related to the proposed DA budget of P80.9 billion, 7.8 percent more than the current P74.9-billion budget. After the hearing, Alcala charged that unscrupulous rice dealers have increased the prices of their commercial rice. “There is no rice crisis,” he said. “The NFA is selling at P27 per kilo of ordinary rice and P32 per kilo of well-milled rice.’ However, Reps. Gary Alejano and Francisco Ashley Acedillo said they are calling for a parallel House probe “with the intention of leaving no stone unturned to ferret out the truth amidst conflicting statements in media.” “While news items of progressive price hikes and persistent allegations of corruption in the DA and NFA’s importation of rice may have precipitated the need for an investigation, this will be but starting points to a more thorough review of our self-sufficiency roadmaps and these agencies’ performance relative thereto,” they said. A House inquiry was originally sought by ABakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz who said the hearings should be scheduled immediately to be fair to the Filipinos who have been fed with conflicting reports about the supposed shortage of rice supply in the country, they said. After the three-hour Senate hearing on the DA budget before the Senate Finance Committee chaired by Sen. Francis “Chiz’’ Escudero, the senator said the 51-day buffer stock of 1.7 million metric tons of rice owned by the NFA and the private sector for the whole country is sufficient, although the ideal is 60 days before the harvest season. For the NFA, Calatag said the ideal is a 30-day buffer and its current stock of rice of 638,000 metric tons is more than enough for the 34,000 daily consumption countrywide, excluding private inventory and those in the households. “Thus we are looking at 1.7 million metric tons still available, equivalent to 51 days, roughly,’’ Calatag told Escudero. Calatag said the NFA has been buying palay and the current high prices of commercial rice was expected to go down when the palay harvest season starts next mo nth. He also said that the NFA has visitorial powers to check on any illegal activity among rice traders or retailers at their warehouses or a markets to check on the probable switching of NFA

rice to be passed off as the higher-priced commercial rice because the P32 per kilo price of NFA rice is comparable to the commercial rice in the P35 to P36 per kilo level. “There are 28 NFA warehouses in Metro Manila. We assure no kulang (no shortage),’’ he added. After Sen. Loren Legarda filed last week a Senate resolution seeking a public hearing on the “sudden’’ increases in the price of rice, Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate agriculture committee, scheduled a public hearing on the rice issue sometime this week. In calling for a House inquiry on the rice situation, Congressmen Alejano and Asedillo said targets and policies on rice self-sufficiency are contained in the 2011-2016 Philippine Food Staples Selfsufficiency Roadmap (FSSR). The FSSR sets 2013 as the year within which the country should be rice self-sufficient. “The DA and NFA’s current rice self-sufficiency programs are inextricably the product of the FSSR. But while there is already a disparity between this year’s rice production target of 20.4 million MT and the 18.45 million MT that we may realistically produce by the end of the year, the FSSR, on paper, says we should be producing 21.11 million MT if we were to be truly rice self-sufficient this year,” said Alejano. “By that alone, measured against targets and deadlines they have set for themselves, the DA and the NFA need to explain their inability to meet their targets and ensure adequate, affordable rice supplies.” Acedillo said that also included among the strategies the FSSR recommends to adopt in order to achieve rice self-sufficiency in 2013 is to allow the quantitative restriction on imported rice to expire in 2012 and to replace this with quantitative tariffs. “These have obviously not been done. Instead, the NFA has designated itself as the country’s sole importer of rice. Without prejudging either the DA or the NFA, we want to know why the policy shift mid-implementation?” Acedillo said. Several groups had previously alleged overpricing to the tune of half-a-billion pesos in the NFA’s supposedly “monopolistic” rice importation transactions. The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas on Friday also warned of an intense rice crisis that “would lead to the eruption of the country’s social volcano.” Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on agriculture, said its inquiry will be conducted this week, and will be expanded to include other concerns such as the smuggling of rice and onions. “More importantly, we are preventing what may amount to P2 billion in losses to government coffers, if news reports of overpricing are indeed true. That’s no less than economic sabotage and profiteering,” added Acedillo.‐rice‐shortage‐says‐da‐but‐solons‐seek‐inquiry/ 

BIR slams Tax‐Evading professionals by Jun Ramirez  September 10, 2013  

Manila, Philippines — Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said yesterday many professionals opposing her plan to require them to post schedule of service fees they charge their clients were the ones not paying correct taxes via non-issuance of official receipts. Henares said the BIR will start implementing the plan on Jan. 1, 2014 despite strong opposition from the officers and members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and the Philippine Medical Association (PMA). Both the IBP and the PMA said the proposed regulations were against judicial and medical ethics as it constitutes a form of advertisement. But Henares sees nothing wrong or unethical about the measure, stressing that it was part of an honest to goodness program of the bureau to collect the right amount of taxes from all sources to enable it to hit the P1.2-trillion collection target for the year. A study conducted jointly by the BIR and the Department of Finance (DOF) showed that many doctors, lawyers and other professionals in Metro Manila and elsewhere have been paying much less income taxes than ordinary school teachers. Many of them have already been charged with tax evasion before the Department of Justice and the courts. Henares argued that professionals are advertising themselves every time clients visit them and inquire on the cost of services. She said a professional need not paste the charges at his reception area like those in barbershops and may simply put it on his table. She said the BIR will not question professionals if they collect much lower amount than what they officially charge, say only P200 instead of P500. “All the doctor has to do is issue the patient a receipt reflecting the P300 discount,” she said. PMA Stand Meanwhile, the PMA said the Physicians Code of Ethics will be violated if they post consultation fees outside their clinics. In a forum at the historic landmark Manila Hotel yesterday, Dr. Oscar Tinio, PMA point person for BIR affairs, said the doctors fully support the BIR memorandum to police erring

professionals. However, Tinio said posting fees outside their clinics simply violates the doctors’ code of ethics. Moreover, he said standardizing medical fees is not possible at this time. (With a report from Jenny F. Manongdo) “It has something to do with charges or fees based on factors such as competency, experience, economic conditions prevailing in the area and others…Kaya kung magkakaroon ng posting, kanya-kanyang posting,” Tinio said. The PMA has 70,000 members nationwide practicing in all medical specialties. (With a report from Jenny F. Manongdo)‐slams‐tax‐evading‐professionals/                                     

SC tackles legality of PDAF today by Rey G. Panaligan  September 10, 2013  

Manila, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) is set to tackle this morning in its full court session two more petitions that challenged the constitutionality of the system of allocating the multi-billion-peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), known as pork barrel. Set for deliberation are the petitions filed by the group of Greco Antonious Beda B. Belgica, a former Manila city councilor, and Pedrito M. Nepomuceno, former mayor of Boac, Marinduque. The SC had earlier required both Houses of Congress to comment in 10 days on an earlier petition against PDAF filed by lawyer Samson Alcantara, president of the Social Justice System (SJS). It is expected that the SC would require the consolidation of the cases filed by Belgica and Nepomuceno with that lodged by Alcantara. It is also expected that Congress would be asked to comment on the two petitions.‐tackles‐legality‐of‐pdaf‐today/                           

Avoid EDSA on Sept 11., LTFRB warns PUVs by Kris Bayos  September 10, 2013  

The government is advising operators of public utility vehicles (PUVs) to refrain from plying Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) on Wednesday due to the expected heavy concentration of protesters at EDSA Shrine in Ortigas Avenue. Expecting heavy traffic at the corner of EDSA and Ortigas Avenue, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) executive director Atty. Roberto Cabrera III urged public utility buses (PUBs) to implement rerouting. “After discussion and coordination with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, the LTFRB hereby advises PUVs, especially PUBs, to refrain from going out to EDSA on September 11 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. due to the reported rally that will be held in the EDSAOrtigas Avenue area during said time,” Cabrera said. The official likewise advised commuters to plan their travel and try alternative means of transport especially during rush hour. “The riding public is notified to expect heavy traffic along EDSA-Ortigas and other surrounding areas. As such, the riding public is advised to find alternative means of transportation between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. especially during rush hours,” Cabrera said. He added that commuters can also try to delay their travel after the scheduled rally or “stay a while longer in their officers until the traffic along EDSA has cleared.” Despite the advisory, Cabrera maintained that the LTFRB and MMDA will continue enforcement operations against out-of-line vehicles and other violators of franchise laws. Cabrera also warned PUV operators that being hired to transport groups of protesters is also “illegal.” “We got word that rally participants will hire PUVs to bring them to the site. That is illegal,” he warned. The scheduled rally condemning the misuse of the priority development assistance fund (PDAF), also known as Pork Barrel fund, is expected to draw throngs of protesters as many as those who gathered in an earlier mass action held in Rizal Park, Manila.‐edsa‐on‐sept‐11‐ltfrb‐warns‐puvs/     

GenSan tuna industry in Peril – Greenpeace by Joseph T. Jubelag  September 10, 2013  

General Santos City (GenSan) – The environmental group Greenpeace has expressed its concern over the continued decline of the world’s tuna stocks that may eventually lose the multi-billionpeso tuna industry here. Speaking during the 15th Tuna Congress here recently, Mark Dia, regional ocean campaigners for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said the Philippine government should focus its support to boost the tuna industry by employing sustainable methods in catching tuna. “The government should ensure sustainability in our seas so that tuna fisheries can continue, securing the livelihood of millions of fisherfolk,” Dia said. Following the recent decline of tuna stocks, experts had called for protection of fishing grounds where valuable big eye and yellow fin tuna species inhabit. They also cautioned the rampant use of Fish Aggregation Device (AFD) to catch juvenile tuna species. Dia said tuna need at least two to three years to grow to maturity, thus the continued fishing of juvenile tuna will likely deplete tuna stocks. He said the phenomenon has already affected long-line and hand-line fishing in some fishing grounds in Mindanao where tuna are getting smaller and harder to catch. “Without strong action to stop overfishing and overcapacity in the fleets, which use a large number of fishing boats, fishing companies, as well as coastal communities, will suffer huge losses as the stocks decline and fleets will be forced to move elsewhere,” said Sari Tolvanen, Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace International. The Alliance of Tuna Hand-liners, a federation of local hook-and-line tuna fishermen, said the unsustainable fishing practices had hampered the future of the industry. “Our livelihoods are already threatened. The hook-and-line tuna industry is being sacrificed for canned tuna,” said Raul Gonzales, spokesperson for the group.‐tuna‐industry‐in‐peril‐greenpeace/         

What is the gov’t abolishing? by Atty. Joey D. Lina Jr.  September 10, 2013  

Will you agree or disagree with the actuations of a congressman and a senator in the following story? During the House deliberations on the 20l4 General Appropriations bill submitted by President Aquino, Congressman A asked the DBM Secretary why no infrastructure projects in his district – such as certain farm-to-market roads, school buildings, or health centers – were given allocations in the proposed national budget for 20l4? Congressman A explained that the aforesaid projects were identified by a certain barangay development council (BDC) in his district, approved by the concerned barangay sanggunian, submitted to the municipal development council, which approved and integrated them into the municipal development plan. This municipal development plan was then submitted to the provincial development council which consolidated it with the provincial development plan. The provincial sanggunian then approved the provincial development plan. The approved provincial development plan was then submitted to the regional development council for submission to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), which in turn incorporated them with the national development plan upon which the annual national budget is based. Congressman A further explained to the DBM Secretary that under the Local Government Code of 1991, Section 107, every congressman is a member of the barangay, municipal, city, and provincial development councils. A barangay development council, headed by the punong barangay, is composed of the members of the sangguniang barangay, representatives of non-government organizations operating in the barangay who shall constitute not less than one fourth of the members of the fully organized council, and a representative of the congressman, as members. The city or municipal development council, headed by the mayor, is similarly composed of all its punong barangays, the chairman of the committee on appropriations of its sanggunian, representatives of non-governmental organizations operating in the city or municipality, who shall likewise constitute not less than one-fourth of the members of the fully organized council, and the congressman or his representative, as members. The provincial development council, headed by the governor, is similarly composed. All of the above councils exercise, among others, the following functions: formulate long-term, medium-term, and annual socio-economic development plans and policies; formulate the

medium-term and annual public investment programs; and appraise and prioritize socioeconomic development programs and projects. Congressman A asked the DBM Secretary to be fair to his district. As their representative, and as member of the aforesaid councils, he knows the needs of his district. His constituents, after all, pay their taxes, and therefore his district should also be allocated funds for projects that the provincial, municipal, city, and barangay governments cannot implement due to insufficiency of funds. On another front, during the turn of the Senate to scrutinize the 2014 national budget, Senator B presented the DBM Secretary with the resolutions of several governors and mayors, requesting him to intercede on their behalf for allocations for projects that their own respective budgets cannot implement for lack of funding. Senator B handed over to the DBM the minutes of meetings of the respective development councils, as well as development plans and programs, and estimated revenues and expenditures of the various concerned local government units. Now let me repeat the question. Are Congressman A and Senator B to be barred from asking the DBM Secretary to incorporate in the General Appropriations Act requests from their constituents when these requests were properly coursed through their respective development councils? Are legislators simply to approve the national budget being proposed by the executive branch without invoking fairness in the allocation of funds for district or region? What will happen to the principle of check and balance which is inherent in a tripartite system of government? Will the executive branch of government now assume all the powers to identify programs and projects, their corresponding appropriation of funds and disbursements? Are we now changing the power of appropriation constitutionally lodged with Congress? Will this not result in an overconcentration of powers in one branch of government, in this case the executive branch? These are legitimate questions that must be answered in the light of the strong righteous indignation over the pork barrel scam which materialized in the first place because of connivance between unscrupulous legislators and officials in the executive branch. By all means, let the national outrage over the pork barrel scam lead to the early charging, arrest, prosecution and punishment of the guilty parties, regardless of rank and status. Implement fully all the laws against malversation, grand theft, and plunder of public treasury. Formulate and implement all the possible detailed measures to ward off all kinds of machinations to steal the people’s money entrusted to the government. By all means, all appropriations must now use line-item budgeting, including discretionary and off-budget funds like PAGCOR, PCSO, Malampaya, except where line-item budgeting is impractical to apply, as in cases of calamity and contingency funds, and that stricter safeguards must be installed to minimize, if not entirely eradicate, theft of public funds.

The abolition of the pork barrel system, as perceived by those who have recommended it and supported now by a large sector of society, carries with it the abolition of the principle of check and balance, barring the legislators from even proposing and identifying projects to be included in the annual national budget. Let us not throw out the baby with the bath water, as the saying goes. What if, with the abolition of the principle of check and balance, the executive branch falls into the hands of power-hungry individuals? They can easily use their monopoly of power to disburse trillions of pesos in the implementation of programs and projects to perpetuate themselves? Is this what we want? Let us, therefore, be clear. When we shout “abolish the pork barrel!” what do we actually mean? E-mail:‐is‐the‐govt‐abolishing/                                   

SoKor bans fish from Fukushima September 10, 2013 (updated)  


IMPORT BAN – A worker uses a Geiger counter to check possible radioactive contamination at Noryangjin Fisheries wholesale market in Seoul, South Korea. South Korea announced Friday it was banning all fish imports from Japan’s northeastern coast because of what officials called growing public worry over radioactive water leaking into the Pacific Ocean near the crippled Fukushima power plant. (AP) SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea is banning all fish imports from Japan’s Fukushima region because of what it calls growing public worry over radiation contamination that has reportedly prompted a sharp decline in fish consumption.The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said in a statement Friday that it made the move because of insufficient information from Tokyo about what will happen in the future with contaminated water leaking from the a crippled nuclear plant into the Pacific. Seoul imposed a partial ban on Japanese fish following the March, 2011 earthquake and tsunami that led to a meltdown at the Fukushima plant. All fishery products from Fukushima and seven other nearby prefectures are now banned. Scientists have found high levels of radioactive cesium in fish near the plant. Fisheries off Fukushima are closed.South Korea announced Friday that it was banning all fish imports from along Japan’s northeastern coast because of what officials called growing public worry over radioactive water leaking into the Pacific Ocean near the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. Fisheries in Fukushima prefecture (state) are nearly all closed, and fish caught in nearby prefectures are sold on the market only after tests have shown them to be safe for consumption. However, South Korea’s ban applies a total of eight prefectures with a combined coastline of more than 700 kilometers (430 miles), regardless of whether the fish pass safety standards or not. The South Korean government made the move because of insufficient information from Tokyo about what steps will be taken to address the leakage of contaminated water from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, according to a statement by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.‐bans‐fish‐from‐fukushima/ 

Environmentalists seek sustainable Tuna sector by Ellalyn De Vera  September 10, 2013  

International advocacy group Greenpeace called on the government to ensure a sustainable tuna industry that will secure the livelihood of fisherfolk who are dependent on tuna fishing. Scientists have long called for protection of the region’s valuable big eye and yellow fin tuna stocks due to its vulnerability to decreasing stocks. Unless measures are taken, such as reducing the catches of juvenile tuna caught by using fish aggregation devices (FAD) the stocks will continue to dwindle. “The government should ensure sustainability in our seas so that tuna fisheries can continue, securing the livelihood of millions of fisherfolk,” Mark Dia, Regional Oceans campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia said. Speaking during the 15th Tuna Congress in General Santos City, Dia said, “instead of pursuing ever-increasing tuna catches and opening up new fishing grounds, the Philippine government needs to direct its support to shift the tuna industry and prop up existing sustainable methods in catching tuna.” Tuna need at least two to three years to grow to maturity, so if most of the catch is juvenile tuna, fish stocks will not be able to replenish themselves. The decline in these fish stocks is already hurting longline and handline fleets. Evidence of this is already clear in the traditional tuna fishing areas south of Mindanao where tuna are getting smaller and harder to catch. “Without strong action to stop overfishing and overcapacity in the fleets, which means that there are already many boats catching fish, fishing companies as well as coastal communities will suffer huge losses as the stocks decline and fleets will be forced to move elsewhere,” Sari Tolvanen, Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace International said. “A precautionary approach must be taken now, before it is too late. The problem is that efforts at fisheries management have fallen short of what is required,” Tolvanen said. The Alliance of Tuna Handliners echoed Greenpeace’s concern about current unsustainable fishing practices that jeopardize the future of the industry. “Our livelihoods are already threatened. The hook and line tuna industry is being sacrificed for canned tuna,” said Raul Gonzales, spokesperson for the group. “We ask that the government act now to ensure that juvenile tuna catches in the purse seine fisheries are reduced. Urgent reduction in excess purse seine fishing capacity must also be implemented,” he added. The problem of big eye tuna overfishing was discussed at the recently concluded Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission workshop held in Japan, of which the Philippines is a member. A proposal to extend the FAD ban in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean from the current four months to at least five months has been broadly agreed, but the Philippines has said that it wants to be exempted from having to further restrict FAD use.‐seek‐sustainable‐tuna‐sector/ 

New rice benefitting poor children September 10, 2013 (updated)  

Could rice help prevent blindness and even death in children? The International Rice Research Institute believes so. IRRI is pushing field trials so that farmers could sow their fields by 2015 with a new rice variety – called golden rice – that could help address Vitamin A deficiency. A lack of the vitamin is a leading cause of preventable blindness and is linked to death due to infections in many poor countries. The World Health Organization estimates that 250 million young children don’t get enough Vitamin A. Up to 500,000 of these young children go blind every year. Half die within a year of losing their sight. The golden rice program has received the backing of such groups as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Helen Keller International, the Rockefeller Foundation and the US Agency for International Development. USAID provided $10.3 million in 2010 that is paying for research on golden rice’s safety and field trials in the Philippines and Bangladesh. But opponents, such as Greenpeace International, say oppose the rice, warning that genetically modified organisms could unleash serious, long-lasting problems in the environment. Greenpeace successfully petitioned the Philippine Supreme Court to stop the government’s field trials of genetically modified egglant. It has yet to decided whether it will go to court to block golden rice. “There are already working solutions to address fortification of everyday food, not just with Vitamin A but other micronutrients,” said Danny Ocampo of Greenpeace. A small clinical test on people of the bio-fortified rice was conducted in the US in 2009. IRRI plans to do testing on animals through their feed as early as next year, followed by tests on humans. It is unclear whether golden rice will taste as good as other rice and whether consumers will want to buy it. An iron-fortified rice now being sold by the Philippine government is cheap, but some consumers who can afford more expensive rice avoid it because they say it doesn’t taste as good. Golden rice gets its name from its yellow color. The variety was engineered by introducing a few genes – initially from daffodils, then from yellow corn – so that the grains’ edible part produces beta carotene, a pigment that gives fruits and leafy vegetables their color and that the human body converts into Vitamin A. Rice can produce beta carotene in its leaves. The first scientific details of golden rice were made public in 2000. At that time, it was an eightyear-old project of Professor Ingo Potrykus of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Dr. Peter Beyer of the University of Freiburg in Germany addressing malnutrition.

Swiss agribusiness company Syngenta AG in 2005 produced new golden rice materials that produced 23 times more beta carotene than the original breed. But instead of producing it commercially, Syngenta decided a year later to donate it to IRRI to make the bio-fortification of rice a humanitarian project. “Our hope is that farmers everywhere will be planting their fields with golden rice in two years,” Dr. Bruce Tolentino, a deputy director general at IRRI, told The Wall Street Journal. He said after field trials this year, IRRI hopes to feed golden rice to animals and then to humans by next year. He said scientists decided to bio-fortify rice because other food products are more expensive and aren’t part of most people’s diet. “Half of the world eats rice and 70% of the poor eats rice. So why not make it more healthy,” Dr. Tolentino added. IRRI estimates that per-capita consumption of rice is around 65 kilograms a year worldwide. And in developing Asia, the consumption doubles to 135 kilos in Indonesia and triples to 200 kilos in Myanmar. Per-capita consumption of rice in the Philippines is around 120 kilos a year. But golden rice is sparking opposition in the Philippines. In early August, an experimental farm in the Philippine town of Pili, which is testing whether golden rice could grow and be produced in various climatic conditions in this archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, was vandalized. But Dr. Evangeline dela Trinidad, a plant pathologist designated by Philippines’ Department of Agriculture to lead the golden rice trials in Pili town, said of opponents, “It’s fear of the unknown.”IRRI is collaborating with the Philippine Rice Research Institute and the agriculture department for Philippine trials. Golden rice trials are also being conducted in Indonesia and Bangladesh. Dr. dela Trinidad pointed to special corn and cotton called bt corn and bt cotton, with the bt referring to bacillus thuringiensis, a naturally occurring soil bacteria that produces proteins to stop target insects, such as the corn borer that reduces corn production. Bt corn and Bt cotton are already being cultivated and produced in the Philippines, without the negative problems critics warned about. “Bt corn is already being commercially produced in Isbela,” said Dr. dela Trinidad, referring to the northern Philippine province that is a major producer of the grain. “We also have Bt cotton,” she added. IRRI points to a small trial on golden rice by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2009 that had five volunteers from Boston that showed 100 grams of the new variety could provide up to 70% of the recommended dietary allowance of Vitamin A for both men and women. Because that study only involved adult Americans, IRRI had to “speculate” that 50 grams of golden rice would provide children aged four to eight greater than 60% of the recommended dietary allowance.‐rice‐benefitting‐poor‐children/ 

Concepcion‐Carrier, DENR team up for greener cooling   September 10, 2013  

Cooling solutions provider Concepcion-Carrier Air Conditioning and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have tied up for a program that encourages hotels and other establishments to replace their inefficient chillers containing ozone-depleting substances (ODS) with environmental friendly chillers. The program, called the Philippine Chiller Energy Efficient Project (PCEEP), is funded by grants from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and assisted by the World Bank. The first enterprise in our country to receive a 15% subsidy in the amount of P1.3 million is a five-star hotel located in the Makati Central Business District. Commercial establishments such as hotels and large buildings need chillers to keep its environment cool. Chillers are the main component of refrigeration and air cooling systems in buildings. In the past, ozone depleting substances such as chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs were used, which damage the earth’s ozone layer. With the PCEEP in implementation, ConcepcionCarrier hopes to speed up thereplacement of inefficient chillers and cooling equipment to reduce carbon emissions. Rajan Komarasu, Business Solutions Group Director of Concepcion-Carrier Air Conditioning said, “Concepcion-Carrier is excited to be part of the first successful chiller financing program with the DENR which uses the state of the art Carrier 23XRV energy efficient chiller. With this program, we are helping buildings in reducing their carbon footprint.” According to Mr. Komarasu, Carrier’s very own 23XRV is the world’s first integrated water cooled screw chiller. Incorporating the breakthroughs in water-cooled chiller technology, the 23XRV provides energy savings without compromising the environment. When applied in a series counter flow system design, this leverages the inherent advantages of the 23XRV variable speed screw chiller and the result is improved chiller plant efficiency by more than 10% compared with other high efficiency variable speed centrifugal alternatives. This is well beyond the capabilities of most other chillers and is truly a ‘no compromise’ solution for owners. “Concepcion-Carrier commends the DENR for spearheading a program such as the PCEEP and we sincerely hope that other commercial establishments follow suit in our aim towards energy efficiency and saving the environment,” concluded Mr. Komarasu.‐carrier‐denr‐team‐up‐for‐greener‐cooling/     

Rural pinoys now spending more than city counterparts by Emmie Abadilla  September 10, 2013  

Filipinos in the rural sector covering 9.59 million homes – 49 percent of all the households nationwide – have overtaken city dwellers in terms of spending in the past half decade. So far, these fast-growing countryside spenders have contributed P246 billion worth of FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) in-home purchases, according to the most recent findings of Kantar Worldpanel, an international firm dealing in consumer knowledge and insights based on continuous consumer panels. Rural dwellers overtook their its urban counterpart in terms of spending in both modern channels (hypermarkets, supermarkets, drug stores, department stores, personal care stores, convenience stores and online shops) and traditional trade channels (sari-sari stores, market stalls and grocery stores). Spending in modern trade channels by rural area dwellers have increased by 9 percent while urban areas were noted to have an increase of just 3 percent. Meanwhile, spending in traditional trade channels in rural areas have increased by 3 percent versus 2 percent in urban areas. Rural homes’ annual spend per household has increased by 4 percent from P20,610 in 2009 to P25,422.00 in 2013, while urban homes’ annual spend per household increased by only 2 percent (from P28,207.00 in 2009 to P31,179.00 in 2013). In particular, rural households in South Luzon spent 5 percent more, while those in Mindanao saw an increase in purchase by 6 percent. Therefore, South Luzon and Mindanao are the two areas that showed the most impressive growth in terms of annual spend per household over the past five years.Because of the increase in their annual spend per household, rural areas have contributed significantly to the growth of the big four (4) trends. Rural homes’ spend on beauty products outpaced that of the urban sector, with hair conditioner having the most increase (19 percent for rural versus 9 percent for urban).As for hygiene, Kantar Worldpanel noted an increasing consciousness among rural homes on personal care. Data showed more rural buyers of hand sanitizers, wet tissues, and panty liner (7 percent growth in buyer base for rural versus 3 percent for urban). Rural homes are also spending more on products with a healthier market positioning. These include yoghurt, packaged water, juice, energy/sports drink, biscuits and cereal/oatmeal (8 percent for rural versus 5 percent for urban). In terms of convenience, rural areas purchased more ready-to-drink choco, ready-to-drink teas and ready-to-drink juices (3 percent for rural versus -1 percent for urban).‐pinoys‐now‐spending‐more‐than‐city‐counterparts/ 

Labor protests P10-wage hike By Vito Barcelo | Posted 8 hours ago | 158 views

Two major labor groups on Monday vowed to hold mass actions to protest the P10-increase in minimum wages in Metro Manila, comparing the amount to “crumbs” and too small to make ends meet. The Kilusang Mayo Uno, for one, said minimum wage was paltry compared to the amount of pork barrel being misused by lawmakers. The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines said its members will hold a protest march around Manila to dramatize their sentiment. The labor groups warned of more protest moves even as the Department of Labor and Employment defended the wage hike. Labor Spokesman Nicon Fameronag said they had to consider if companies would be able to afford the wage increase. Around 99% of businesses in the country are micro, small and medium enterprises, he said. “Among the factors considered is its impact on business. The government has also the mandate to preserve employment, meaning we cannot just decide when the effect of the decision for businesses to be closing or layoffs,” Fameronag said in a television interview said. He said the government have implemented 12 wage increases in Metro Manila since 1999, with a total increase of over P200 a day. “If there is a large increase in minimum wage, there will be a large distortion… There is pressure for the company is to raise the wage for others in the hierarchy. So there is very careful act of deciding, the amount of increase should be ordered by the wage board so that not so much distortion can happen in the labor market,” Fameronag said. The Employers Confederation of the Philippines v reiterated that the Philippines has the highest wage compared to several Southeast Asian countries.

ECOP president Ed Lacson said increasing the minimum wage may discourage foreign companies from investing in the Philippines. “We have the highest minimum wage in Asia, among 8 countries. In the Philippines, it’s $10.25 (P456) a day. Malaysia is $9.75, Thailand is $9.75, Indonesia is $7.46, Vietnam is $3.15, Cambodia is $2.03 and this is surprising, Myanmar is only $0.52,” he said. “If we keep on increasing the minimum wage, we are sending a very wrong message for all investors to come,” Lacson added. But TUCP spokesman Alan Tanjusay said it’s not fair to compare the wages of Filipino workers to those in other Southeast Asian countries because of the different economic and political conditions. “If we have the highest wage among Asians, how come foreign investors still invest in South Korea? Or, Japan? Which were the wage rate is much higher?” he asked.                      

Govt urges Pinoys in Syria to leave now By Sara Susanne D. Fabunan | Posted 9 hours ago | 272 views The Foreign Affairs Department on Monday reiterated its call to Filipinos in Syria to avail of the government’s repatriation program after US bared plans to launch a military air strike against the troubled Middle East country. At the same time, spokesman Raul Hernandez said the department is ‘working double time to bring home as many Filipinos as possible.’ Recent data showed that there are now less than 3,000 either working or living in Syria. “In view of the deteriorating security in Syria, our embassy in Damascus has intensified its efforts in repatriating the remaining OFWs [overseas Filipino workers in that country,” Hernandez said in a text message. He said that 41 OFWs are set to arrive today (Tuesday) bringing the total those who were repatriated to 4,728 from the previous total of an estimated 7,000 OFWs in Syria. Hernandez said that ‘intensified’ efforts would continue with the assistance of the Philippine embassy in Beirut in Lebanon where the repatriation is being undertaken. “Upon representation made by Secretary Albert del Rosario, Undersecretary Rafael Seguis and our ambassador in Damascus, the Syrian government and the International Organization for Migration [IOM] have assured us of their continued assistance in our mandatory repatriation efforts,” Hernandez said. On August 21, alleged chemical attacks poisoned and killed 1,400 people in Syria, which the US said was perpetrated by forces identified with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which had clashed with prodemocracy groups since March 2011. The situation prompted President Barack Obama to ask the US Congress to vote in favor of launching military strikes on the conflict-torn country. Russia, America’s Cold War rival, has voiced its support for Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin said his military will deploy advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Syrian forces if Obama pushes through with his plans to punish Assad for using chemical weapons.

Syria, through its foreign minister Walid al-Muallem, passed on Assad personal thanks to Putin for his support when he held talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavroas. US lawmakers were to return Monday from a summer break and debate whether to approve limited US military action in Syria. “The president asked me to pass on his thanks to Putin for his position during and after the G20 summit” in Saint Petersburg last week, Muallem told Lavrov. Lavrov assured Muallem that Moscow’s position on Syria was “well known and not subject to changes”. “There is no alternative to a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria” Lavrov said, rejecting any “military solution involving outside intervention”. Russia has vehemently opposed US-led strikes against the Assad regime, warning it could destabilise the whole Middle East, and Putin at the G20 has vowed to help Syria if it was hit. His visit comes days after Putin refused to give ground on Russia’s position over Syria in talks with world leaders at the G20 summit in Saint Petersburg. Despite insistent Western pressure, Russia has refused to abandon its cooperation with the Assad regime throughout the two-and-a-half year conflict that has claimed more than 100,000 lives according to UN figures. Russia’s close ties to Damascus date back to the alliance between the Soviet Union and Bashar alAssad’s late father Hafez. The Kremlin fears losing arms contracts and influence if the dynasty falls. Meanwhile, partylist Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said that Oblama’s ‘warmongering’ could worsen human rights violations in Syria and may explode into a war and a subsequent arms race following the alleged chemical attack. “The US government is at it again, throwing accusations that is yet unproven, just like when it invaded Iraq in 2003 for its supposed use of weapons of mass destruction that turned out to be not only false but even outright lies.” Zarate said that the unilateral action by the US government can worsen the conditions of some 3,000 Overseas Filipino Workers in Syria, as the recalled the harsh conditions suffered by thousands of OFWs displaced by the 2010 US military strike in Libya. With AFP‐urges‐pinoys‐in‐syria‐to‐leave‐now/ 

Bongbong debunks link to pork scandal By Manila Standard Today | Posted 9 hours ago | 1,023 views

SENATOR Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday denied any links to the lawmakers’ P10-billion pork-barrel scam, saying his signature was forged and he never released funds to four non-government organizations with links to Janet LimNapoles, the alleged brains of the scam. He said he had steered clear of any controversy in his nine years as a legislator and made sure he spent money only on worthwhile projects. “When this scandal broke out, I purposely kept quiet even when my name was constantly being dragged into this controversy,” Marcos said. “Instead, I instructed my office to conduct an investigation because I wanted to be very sure about what I would say since I didn’t want to misinform or mislead the public.” Marcos made his statement even as Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez demanded that Budget Secretary Florencio Abad resign for failing to explain whether or not President Benigno Aquino III had a hand in the reported release of P500 million in pork barrel appropriations to questionable non-government organizations in 2011. Romualdez, the head of the Third Force in the House of Representatives, made the call after Environment Secretary Ramon Paje admitted that, as early as 2010, he asked the Budget Department to stop using the Environment Department and its subsidiaries as pork barrel conduits. “Secretary Abad should resign,” Romualdez said. “Was it the President who ordered him to release the P500 million despite the appeal of Secretary Paje? This insults the adherence to the so-called straight path mantra of public service of this government.” Meanwhile, 57 out of the 66 neophyte lawmakers in Congress on Monday filed a resolution supporting the call to abolish the pork barrel.

The lawmakers also asked the appropriate government agencies to prosecute those involved in the P10-billion pork barrel scam. Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu led the reading of the resolution in plenary, which says “Those who are guilty must be held to account and those who are innocent must be cleared.” Marcos said his office’s investigation of the pork barrel scandal had not been easy because they were never given any documents on the transactions his office was allegedly involved in. “Fortunately, when we received the [Commission on Audit] letter asking us for confirmation, we were able to make some sense of what was going on,” Marcos said. His denial of any links to the pork barrel scam came out after he received a letter from a COA audit team on Sept. 4 regarding the authenticity of various documents involving the National Livelihood Development Corp., an NGO with reported links to Napoles. In reply, Marcos said the signature on the endorsement letter to that NGO was forged. “It is readily apparent that the signature in the subject letter appears to be falsified and/or scanned,” Marcos said. With Maricel V. Cruz‐debunks‐link‐to‐pork‐scandal/             

‘EDSA TAYO’ QC dilly-dallies giving it permit By Rio N. Araja | Posted 9 hours ago | 677 views

FOR no apparent reason, the Quezon City Hall denied on Monday the application for a permit for the Edsa Tayo prayer vigil set at the EDSA Shrine on Sept. 11, but the protest action will proceed as scheduled, organizers said on Monday. But QC Mayor Herbert Bautista denied that they had already denied the group’s application although Mandaluyong City had already granted a permit and the organizers have reached an agreement with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the Metro Manila regional police office. “We will study further. Quezon City will decide [Tuesday],” Bautista said in a text message to the Manila Standard, adding that officials were “still securing information.” Former QC police chief Elmo San Diego, now head of the city’s Department of Public Order and Safety, said he recommend that Bautista “further evaluate” the event before granting the rally permit. “While Mandaluyong City has already granted Ocampo a permit, Quezon City has yet to determine the number of rallyists to flock to Edsa and the traffic measures to be undertaken in the area,” San Diego said. But one of Edsa Tayo’s leaders Junep Ocampo said city hall officials declined to receive documents to show that the gathering was a religious event and not a political rally. However, Ocampo said the event will push through, with or without a permit, as they have already coordinated with the MMDA and the National Capital Regional Office, not to mention the hierarchy of the Catholic Church on the use of the Edsa Shrine. The MMDA said it will deploy 500 traffic constables and medical personnel for the event and will even provide 37 trucks to give commuters a free ride.

“We are praying to God that Mayor Bautista will see the light that this prayer vigil is a religious gathering and not a political gathering. It is a basic right of the people to come together to worship and pray,” he said. Ocampo said they expect at least 5,000 people to attend the prayer vigil seeking the complete abolition of the controversial pork barrel system from the President to the barangay level. But other groups in the Visayas and Mindanao have also announced they will hold their own events simultaneously with Edsa Tayo. At the same time, Manila Auxilliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said they did not see anything wrong with the prayer vigil and that was why Ocampo’s group was allowed to use the Edsa Shrine. “We allowed them to use the shrine upon seeing that their program is orderly and systematic… They just want to call on the citizens to be more vigilant,” Pabillo said in a statement posted on the website of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. “The Catholic Church did not organize that movement. We only gave them permission to use the shrine as the venue of their mass and vigil,” Pabillo said, adding that the Catholic faithful are not obliged to come to the event. “If you choose to come or not, it is up to you. This just shows how great your stand is regarding this issue,” he said. “Those who will go there will not just come for leisure, but will pray for the fulfillment of the cause they are fighting for.” Unlike the massive rally against pork barrel last Aug. 26, Pabillo noted that Sept. 11 was a regular workday and attendees will be making a “sacrifice” to make a stand against the pork barrel system. Pabillo also reiterated the CBCP position on the controversial pork barrel so that the Aquino administration could restore integrity in government. “We call for the total abolition of all forms of pork barrel—from the presidential up to the barangay level. Even councilors and youth leaders (Sangguniang Kabataan) have their own forms of pork. This big amount of money serves as a source of corruption that is why it has to be abolished,” he said.

Just the day before Pabillo made the clarification, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle urged Filipinos to forge a collective “cultural response” to corruption both in people themselves and in society. “We, individuals, should strive to change this system… Let us refuse. We should not comply or agree with practices that are not keeping God’s will and the laws of the land,” during an archdiocesan pastoral assembly at the Paco Catholic School. “Even if we say that corrupt practices are widely accepted in various government offices, we all have the freedom to choose. The political community and our personal families might have greatly influenced us, but we should always remember that we are free to make a choice.” “In the end, each Filipino will become corrupt, thinking that it is part of an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure). This should not be the case,” the cardinal said. With Vito Barcelo‐tayo‐qc‐dilly‐dallies‐giving‐it‐permit/                         

No warning of attack — Taiwanese By Rey E. Requejo | Posted 9 hours ago | 306 views

Three companions of the Taiwanese fisherman, who was killed when the Philippine Coast Guard opened fire at a Taiwanese fishing boat at the Balintang Channel last May, told government investigators on Monday they were attacked with heavy gunfire without warning.

Hearing. Three witnesses in the Balintang incident on May 9, when a Taiwanese fisherman was shot by Coast Guard operatives, attend a Justice Department hearing on the incident Monday. Danny Pata Taiwanese Hong Yu Zhi, Hong Jie Zhang and Indonesian Imam Buchaeri said Hung Shif-cheng, who was inside the engine room, died when he was hit on the neck and bullet exited through his back. “There were no whistles or warning to drive us away. The [Coast Guard] vessel approached us and from 40 meters away, and without any reason, fired directly at our boat,” the three men said in their affidavits submitted to Department of Justice investigators. The three men were accompanied by representatives of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office. One of them, Hong Yu Shi, is a son of the killed fisherman. Eight Coast Guard servicemen, including their commander, Arnold de la Cruz, face homicide charges. They claimed the Taiwanese fishermen were poachers, who illegally entered the Philippine fishing ground.

Hong said their vessel, Guang Da Xing 28, was returning to Taiwan when it was attacked and “we hid at the engine room after placing the vessel on auto navigation mode.” “My father was shot and I heard him scream. But we were too busy refilling the hydraulic drive fluid for the auto navigation until we ran out of supply,” Hong said.‐warning‐of‐attack‐taiwanese/                                         

CA affirms secrecy of deposits By Rey E. Requejo | Posted 9 hours ago | 425 views

The Court of Appeals has overturned a decision rendered by the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court compelling an officer of the Anti-Money Laundering Council to testify and bring with him documents related to the forfeiture proceedings on the assets and bank accounts of “pyramiding queen” Rosario Baladjay, her husband and their companies. In an 11-page decision, the CA’s Seventeenth Division through Associate Justice Pedro Corales said the confidentiality rule is “definite and absolute” under Rule 8.4 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Anti-Money Laundering Act. “In fact, the law clearly provides that disclosure of information in any manner is not allowed,” the CA stressed. The Court’s ruling arose from the petition filed by the AMLC seeking to stop the Muntinlupa RTC from enforcing its order which granted the motion filed by Rafael Manaldo, Grace Oliva and Freida Rivera-Yap, assignees of the properties of the Baladjays. In its order issued on March 23, 2011, the Muntinlupa RTC ordered lawyer Vicente Aquino or his representative, from the AMLC, to testify in court and bring with him documents and papers relating to the accounts under the names of the Baladjays and their companies which were subject of the freeze orders issued by the AMLC. The RTC also denied AMLC’s motion for reconsideration in an order issued on July 5, 2011. The assignees insisted that the testimony and documents being sought from AMLC is necessary to the resolution of the petition for involuntary insolvency they have filed before the Muntinlupa RTC. In quashing the March 23 and July 5 orders, the CA held that the Muntinlupa RTC must comply with Rule 8.4 of the IRR, which prohibits AMLC officers and members from divulging information in their personal and professional capacity.‐affirms‐secrecy‐of‐deposits/   

3,732 Filipinos in jail abroad By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Posted 10 hours ago | 302 views 1

At least 3,732 Filipinos have been languishing in jails in 53 countries, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said on Monday. Of this number, 108 were in death row, with 69 in Chinese jails awaiting execution or clemency, Recto said. DFA officials, however, gave a lower estimate of 80 Filipinos in death row in seven countries, with 28 in China, when they testified before a House committee last week. Recto said Malaysia hosted the most number of Filipinos behind bars, with 2,236, mostly immigration cases as the country had launched a crackdown against undocumented aliens. Next to Malaysia was China, including Hong Kong and Macau (345), followed by Saudi Arabia (277), USA (208), Italy (97), United Arab Emirates (75), Kuwait (72), Japan (59), Peru (37) and Qatar (34). At least 476 of the Filipinos imprisoned abroad were female and 865 were male, Recto said. The gender of the 2,391 was not indicated in the reports filed by the country’s 60 embassies and 20 consulates abroad. It was the reports of these diplomatic posts which were later collated into a 732page “Status of OFWs Report” which the Department of Foreign Affairs submitted to the Senate last June.‐filipinos‐in‐jail‐abroad/             

3 in Ombudsman shortlist By Rey E. Requejo | Posted 10 hours ago | 277 views

The Judicial and Bar Council has shortlisted three candidates aspiring for the position left vacant by the retirement of Overall Deputy Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro. During the JBC session on Monday, the seven-man council chaired by Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno voted to include in its shortlist the following nominees: Melchor Arthur Carandang who garnered five votes; Roque Damian Dator, four votes; and Ferdinand Rafanan, four votes. President Benigno Aquino III will choose from the shortlist the successor of Casimiro. Carandang and Dator are both currently with the Office of the Ombudsman, while Rafanan works with the Commission on Elections (Comelec). Carandang was appointed Assistant Ombudsman during the tenure of former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo and held the post until the leadership of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.‐in‐ombudsman‐shortlist/                     

Press federation marks 50th year By Manila Standard Today | Posted 10 hours ago | 130 views

The Federation of Provincial Press Clubs of the Philippines Inc. will celebrate its 50th year on Oct. 18, 2013 with activities at the Aklan State University and on Boracay Island. The three-day event will be hosted by the Boracay Global Press Corps, said Johnny Dayang, Aklan Press Club secretary general. FPPCI was organized in 1963 as an adjunct of the National Press Club of the Philippines. According to Allan Sison, federation president, said the golden jubilee will center on strengthening the provincial and community press while giving members an opportunity to rally support to bolster press freedom, promote the welfare of media professionals, push for the passage of the freedom of information law, adoption of measures to protect practitioners against violence. To register, contact secretariat chairman Joseph A. Punay through mobile 0922 8840971; 0922 884 0971; 0949 1294777; or 0922 8222020‐federation‐marks‐50th‐year/                   

The presidential race has begun By Emil Jurado | Posted 10 hours ago | 1,170 views 10

“Napoles” has become a byword in the Philippines, taking different meanings and forms, especially in social media. “Napoles ako” or “Napoles sya,” now refers to people caught in the act of stealing or cheating. It even refers to people who spend beyond their means, and to women who carry very expensive bags, some costing over a million pesos. *** The big question is this: With the filing of plunder charges against Janet Lim Napoles for allegedly masterminding the P10 billion pork barrel scam, implicating senators and congressmen, how will this saga end? This query takes into consideration the build-up of outrage and indignation over the plunder of people’s money through the pork barrel system. Will it just be given another name? As it sounds, the new mechanism may result in “fiscal dictatorship” with the executive having total control of a system which has perpetuated the cycle of corruption. We must remember that the Napoles scandal includes only transactions from 2007 to 2009. The first three years of the Aquino administration is not included, even as the system has continued during this time. Why refer only to the previous administration? I am certain there are other Napoleses out there used as conduits by legislators. Since the targets of Malacañang and the Department of Justice in building plunder cases appear to be former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, former Senate President Protempore Jinggoy Estrada, and Senators Bong Revilla, Greg Honasan and Bongbong Marcos, we cannot help thinking that the Aquino

administration is out to demonize the minority and possible presidential candidates for 2016. The motivation seems to be to weaken them. Take note of the fact that Enrile was one of the Three Kings of the United Nationalist Alliance or UNA, and that Jinggoy is the son of Erap Estrada, another one of the Three Kingsof the opposition. Jinggoy is also being mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate of Vice President Jojo Binay who will surely run for President in 2016 against whoever is the anointed one of the President Aquino. I say there is a Grand Plan leading to the 2016 polls, and it has begun. Even the scheduled “Zero OFW remittance” has made the people’s anger and disgust over the pork barrel system more pronounced. In response, Malacañang showed utter insensitivity to the OFWs by belittling the impact of their move. There are questions facing the President if the DoJ includes the minority senators in the plunder cases filed against Napoles. Will the people believe in the conspiracy theory linking the minority senators with Napoles? Even if evidence shows that some minority senators pocketed pork barrel funds through kickbacks and commissions, how about administration allies and supporters who also have conduits like Napoles? Protest rallies and street marches may now be only by the middle-income group. But soon enough, as history tells us, they escalate to something else. Even the “masa,” who are slowly and surely realizing that the people in power they elected into office have robbed them of the money due them to meet their needs and concerns, will eventually rise in anger and say “Enough!” *** There’s a lot of hypocrisy going on with regard to the pork barrel issue. The biggest is President Aquino’s statement that it was time to abolish the PDAF after he initially stated that he would not. Yes, PDAF will be abolished, but what mechanism will take its place?

The findings of the Commission on Audit that the P10 billion pork barrel scam that Napoles allegedly mastermind happened during years 2007 to 2009 is also hypocritical. Are we now saying that no abuse of the pork barrel system has taken place in the first half of the Aquino administration? All the denials of legislators that they did not partake of the loot with Napoles is also hypocritical. We all know about their commissions and kickbacks. The Department of Budget and Management was also hypocritical when it said that it should not be blamed for non-existent non-government organizations, foundations and cooperatives, some of them owned by conduits of legislators. My gulay, the DBM is the one that releases the funds! Why should it not be blamed? It’s also hypocritical for line agencies to claim that they should not be blamed for pork barrel scams when they are the ones that funnel the funds to non-existent NGOs, foundations and cooperations. And when Malacañang claims it has no pork barrel, that’s also hypocritical. We know that while the President has no PDAF, he has billions of pesos that he can allocate for whatever purposes he thinks best. *** So who was Napoles’ Malacañang connection? Why did she go straight to the President when the National Bureau of Investigation had been looking for her for days? Where was she all that time? How come she felt bold enough to write a letter to Mr. Aquino? Napoles said she only trusted the President—how can you trust someone if you had no connection with him or her? What a dead giveaway! There are talks that Napoles contributed to the Aquino Presidential elections in 2010 and to the midterm polls in 2013. Will Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes even look into this?‐presidential‐race‐has‐begun/     

Pig, Badaf, Bacon, Pata? Netizens rechristen pork barrel September 9, 2013 10:02 pm by EFREN L. DANAO SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR Filipinos are ranting and fuming over the misuse of billions of pesos from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the sugar-coated name for pork barrel. Amid this growing rage emerged the unique Filipino sense of humor that makes light of even the most despicable crime. Even if President Benigno Aquino 3rd had said that he would abolish the PDAF, some disbelievers say it would merely be given a new name. A reader of The Manila Times online from Alameda, California, lawyer Pres Ordinario, emailed the following proposed new names for PDAF that he had gathered from Facebook: *National Assistance Program of Lawmakers Engaged in Swindling (NAPOLES) *Pinagandang Iligal na Gastusin (PIG) *Benigno Aquino Development Assistance Fund (BADAF) *BSA’s Awesome Budget for Outstanding Allies of the Year (BABOY) *PNoy’s Allowance and Treasury Allocation (PATA) *President-Approved National Outlay from Treasury (PANOT) *President Aquino’s Political Action and Initiative for Total Allocation of National Budget (PAPAITAN) *President’s Overt Revenue Kickback (PORK) *President’s Outlay for Countrywide Handling of Emergency Rehabilitation for Opulence (POCHERO) *Outlay for the Interest of Noynoy and Kinfolks (OINK) *Countrywide Re-distribution of the Inherent Source of Patronage for the Yellow President’s Allies, Toads and Associates (CRISPY PATA) *PNoy’s Initiative for Good Governance CountrYwide (PIGGY)) *Presidential Oversight for Relatives and Kin with Budgetary Entitlement from Legislative Largesse Yearly (PORK BELLY) *Budgetary Initiatives for Secretive Transactions Enhancing Kickbacks (BISTEK) *Social Initiative for Service in Governance (SISIG) *Budgetary Allocation for Collaborative Outreach Nationwide (BACON) *Lawmakers’ Initiative for Emergency, Miscellaneous and Personal Outlay (LIEMPO) *Livelihood Empowerment for Countrywide Humanitarian Outlaw Network (LECHON)

*Totally New Government PDAF Audited to Satisfaction (TONGPATS) *Holistic Lawmaking for Development of All Filipinos (HOLDAF) *Selective Enforcement of Budgetary Outlays (SEBO) *Countrywide Allocations With Accountability and Transparency (CAWAT) *National Allotment for Countryside Amelioration and Welfare (NACAW) *Countrywide Assistance for Special and Important Matters (CASIM) *Budget for Allies for Continuation of Party Dominance (BACON-PD) *Hearty Allocation of Money (HAM). *Barangay Initiatives for New Allocations Granting Oversight On Non-Government Associations Nationwide (BINAGOONGAN) *National Allotment for Countrywide Amelioration and Welfare Initiative Fund (NACAWIN FUND) *Budgetary Utilization for Literacy Assistance and Livelihood Opportunities (BULALO) *Buwis na Ipinondo para sa Iilang Kapakanan (BIIK) *Budgetary Allocations for Government’s Nonsense but Endless Transactions (BAGNET) *New Initiative for Legislator’s Use of the Treasury Outlay (NILUTO).                        

Teachers: Channel pork to education September 9, 2013 9:57 pm by NEIL A. ALCOBER THE Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) on Monday urged lawmakers to use their Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) or pork barrel to fund projects on education and other social services. “A big amount of the people’s money goes to corruption. This is clearly manifested in the recent pork barrel scam involving Janet Lim Napoles, her fake non-governmental organizations (NGOs), with some senators, congressmen and heads of government agencies. Malacañang is also a party to this anomaly,” Benjie Valbuena, the group’s national chairman, said. He said that the pork barrel of lawmakers, and even of the President, should have been used to hire more teachers, build classrooms, acquire chairs, textbooks and instructional material, and build water and sanitation facilities. ACT secretary general France Castro said President Benigno Aquino 3rd should stop pretending to abolish the congressional pork barrel. “The president is merely proposing a different name for it [pork barrel], and under an itemized system of budgeting under his tighter control. However, it is still a rotten scheme of political patronage,” Castro said. “President Aquino is defending his far bigger pork allocation but this, too, should be abolished and channeled towards providing for education and genuine social services to the people,” Castro added. The group also vowed to actively participate in the campaign for the total abolition of the pork barrel system, and for the rechanneling of pork barrel funds to education and other social services. “ACT will join the multi-sectoral anti-pork barrel mobilization on September 13 in Luneta,”        

Idled online project cost POEA P73 million September 9, 2013 10:05 pm by JOHN CONSTANTINE G. CORDON REPORTER SOME P73 million in government funds were wasted after the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) abandoned the Overseas Filipino Workers’ (OFWs) e-Link Project due to disagreements with other partner agencies, the Commission on Audit (COA) reported. State auditors said the POEA did not continue with the OFW e-Link Project worth P72.9 million even after completing the online deployment system, the first phase of the project. The POEA received a budget allotment for its computerization program following the endorsement of the Commission on Information on Communications Technology. The project was never completed. The first phase was completed in 2007. The last two phases — the online passporting system and online credential application and verification system — were called off. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) launched its own online services for passporting and the National Statistics Office, for birth certificates. Partner agencies in the credentialing system such as the Commission on Higher Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority maintain websites, where OFWs could readily get the information they need, also dropped the project. The Bureau of Immigration, the target linkage of the POEA, backed out as well, saying it had already a database in place. But P52.6 million was already spent for the purchase of IT equipment, software, and other operating expense items. “As a result, government funds approximately P52.6 million have been wasted,” the COA said. The P20.3-million balance was also used “without proper authority” to buy equipment, it was learned. By 2012, the balance was only P11.5 million, “which only shows that even fully aware of the project termination, the management caused the delivery of P8.77 million worth of IT equipment.”

“The IT equipment delivered in various offices of the POEA [was used] no longer for the OFW e-Link Project from which the fund was sourced. The balance of P20.31 million should have been reverted to the National Treasury,” auditors said. COA said the POEA should stop using the money allotted for the computerization project without proper authority. POEA officials said they abandoned the project because other partner agencies were not ready to connect their databases and systems to the OFW e-Link System. They said the agency was using computers, software and other equipment acquired for the project for OFW-related assistance programs, among others, e-Contracts Submission, POEA e-Verification System, and data sharing with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Philippine Health Insurance Corp., and Home Development Mutual Fund.‐online‐project‐cost‐poea‐p73‐million/38335/                                 

Palace intel fund bigger than AFP’s September 9, 2013 9:59 pm by JHOANNA BALLARAN Why is the Office of the President’s (OP) intelligence funds bigger than that of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)? ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio threw this question at Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa during the budget hearing for the Office of the President (OP) on Monday. Tinio’s curiosity was roused after he went over the OP’s maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) worth P1.998 billion. He found that P508 million, a fourth of the MOOE, is broken down into confidential expenses (P240 million), extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses (P18 million), and intelligence expenses (P250-million). In comparison, the AFP only has P350 million in intelligence funds, Tinio noted. “Isn’t it relatively big? One-fourth of the MOOE for an agency are confidential funds? Isn’t that unusual?” Tinio prodded Ochoa. Ochoa replied it is not unusual for the OP to have such a budget since sub-agencies under the Executive department, including the Anti-Terrorism Council and Security Council, also need such funds. “There’s nothing unusual, your honor, considering the Office of the President covers the entire bureaucracy,” he said. The President has the power to augment the budget as he deems fit, Ochoa said, and this power extends to the agencies under the Executive. President Benigno Aquino 3rd exercised that power when he asked the Department of Interior and Local Government headed by Secretary Mar Roxas to implement a housing project for informal settlers living along waterways, instead of asking the National Housing Authority led by Vice President Jejomar Binay. The OP has an approved budget of P2.790 billion for 2014, a 3.32 percent increase from this year’s. The biggest slice—71.61 percent—goes to the MOOE, 21.81 percent goes to personnel services, and 6.57 percent to capital outlay. Despite the huge allocation for the confidential and intelligence funds, Ochoa cannot confirm where the P643 million in rewards for the capture of 200 wanted high-profile communists and Abu Sayyaf leaders will be drawn. At the budget hearing of the Department of National Defense last week, AFP Chief Emmanuel Bautista told the lawmakers that the money for the reward will come from the OP.‐intel‐fund‐bigger‐than‐afps/38326/ 

Colleges bracing for lower enrolment – Cocopea September 9, 2013 9:52 pm The Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (Cocopea) said that the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 or K-to-12 law will enhance basic education but there are challenges in its implementation. The implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the K-to-12 program was signed last week. The program extends basic education from 10 years to 12 years, which is the current international standard. “We supported K-12 because it raises the quality of basic education. Our advocacy is to improve the overall quality of education, because that is how we enhance the competitiveness of Filipinos,” Dr. Patricia Bustos Lagunda, Cocopea chairman, said. She added that besides the challenges in implementing the K-to-12 law, there were serious threats to the viability of private Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) during the transition period. “Already, colleges and universities are bracing for a sharp drop in enrollment as students enter grades 11 and 12, instead of first year college. In fact, studies show that HEIs stand to lose P150 billion in foregone tuition during the transition period,” Lagunda said. Even as schools grapple with serious revenue losses, she said there would be constant pressure to continue investing in equipment, training, and other things needed to maintain and improve quality. “Good quality comes at a cost, and we hope that our policymakers and lawmakers will find a way that allows our schools to remain competitive amid falling tuition income that result from the K-12 implementation,” she added. Lagunda noted that in supporting the K-12 program, Cocopea has demonstrated its commitment to education reform. “We fought hard for K-12 because we are a partner in educating our youth. Without private schools and private capital, public schools would be even more crowded and course offerings would be more limited,” she said. Cocopea is a federation of 2,000 private educational institutions in the Philippines that belong to its five national member-organizations: Association of Christian Schools, Colleges, and Universities (ACSCU); Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP); Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities (PACU); Philippine Association of Private Schools, Colleges, and Universities (PAPSCU); and Technical-Vocational School Associations of the Philippines (TEVSAPHIL).‐bracing‐for‐lower‐enrolment‐cocopea/38291/   

P1B released for housing loan support to squatters September 9, 2013 8:28 pm by KRISTYN NIKA M. LAZO REPORTER The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released P1 billion in fresh funds to Social Housing Finance Corp. (SHFC) to cover housing loans and relocation costs of squatter families. In a statement, the DBM said that the fund handed to SHFC is part of “the government’s community mortgage financing initiative” which is the allocation for 2013 under the General Appropriations Act. “Now that we’re in the middle of the rainy season, it’s even more important to inject funds into programs that will enhance our pre-disaster management initiatives,” Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad said “Besides relocating poor families—particularly those in flood-prone or high-risk areas— this fund release will also allow SHFC to give poor families the opportunity to secure their own property,” he added. The fund will include loans for SHFC’s 175 project for their general mortgage program (GMP), as well as seen to “benefit 19,953 poor households and ISFs nationwide.” SHFC, a subsidiary of the National Home Mortgage Finance Corp., will provide housing projects and land tenure assistance for ISFs and marginalized families through GMP. Families qualified to benefit from GMP will be given “loans to finance the acquisition of lands which they are currently occupying or where they have been resettled.” Last year, SFC allotted a total loan budget P549 million for the 100 projects that benefitted some 9,287 ISFs.‐released‐for‐housing‐loan‐support‐to‐squatters/38287/           

Korea provides $3-M grant for health facility September 9, 2013 8:17 pm by TINA GANZON TRECE MARTIRES CITY: The Korean International Cooperation Agency (Koica) provided $3 million funding to set up a three-story health facility here, which Gov. Jonvic Remulla inaugurated on Monday at the Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo Memorial Hospital Compound. The facility, Cavite Collaboration Center for Public Health (CCCPH) is the third phase of a Korean grant to the province under the Korea-Philippines Friendship Project in support of the Provincial Government’s advocacy to provide quality medical and health care services to Caviteños. CCCPH envisions becoming the regional model of a collaborative and integrated health care delivery system. It aims to improve disease prevention and control in the province and strengthen the health sector of the Philippines through the application of Korean technology and expertise. Preparations for the center started on October 12, 2010 when the Korean Survey Team visited Cavite to work on details of its construction and the Records of Discussion was signed. Koica provided $3 million to construct the three-story building. They will also provide the equipment and supplies necessary for the operation of the center and dispatch Korean experts to the province to provide technical advice on the implementation of the project. Construction of a public health collaboration center project will maximize the effectiveness of the first and second phases of the Korea Philippines Friendship Project in Cavite, which was implemented in 2002 and 2007. Koica donated $3.8 million for the first phase—the construction of the 100 bed KoreaPhilippines Friendship Hospital, an extension clinic, hospital equipment and trainings. Phase II of the project, involved a $1.5-million grant for the construction of the Medical Arts Building, repairs and equipment for Phase I.‐provides‐3‐m‐grant‐for‐health‐facility/38283/     

Bulk commercial rice prices going down September 9, 2013 8:12 pm by RAADEE S. SAUSA    BOCAUE, Bulacan: Wholesale prices of commercial rice have started to slide down as palay harvest season starts to take place in several rice-producing provinces in Northern Luzon. This was the assessment of several rice traders at the Intercity Industrial Estate in this town, a major ricetrading center in the country. The traders said that current palay prices being delivered in Intercity by palay traders from Nueva Viscaya and Isabela provinces range from P22.00 to P23 a kilo depending on its quality and have gone down by an average of P1 per kilo compared to last week price of P23 to P24 a kilo. As prices of local commercial rice start to slide down so does prices of imported commercial rice wherein current prices are pegged at P1,780 to P1,830 from last week’s P1,830 to P1,880 for five percent broken rice; P1,750 to P1,800 from P1,800 to P1,850 for 15 percent broken rice and P1,730 to P1780 from P1,780 to P1,830 for 25 percent broken rice. On the other hand, Simeon Sioson, chairperson of the Federation of Central Luzon Farmers Cooperative, said that it is normal for palay and rice prices to increase during these rice lean months starting June to early September because most of the farmers have no more palay to sell to rice traders and smuggled rice was effectively controlled by the government. Sioson also noted that in the past several years, rice were priced steadily during the rice lean months of June to September and so does the dumping of smuggled rice in the local market to the detriment of local farmers. Meanwhile, the National Food Authority (NFA) assured that Central Luzon, the country’s rice granary, has sufficient supply of the staple until end of 2013. NFA Central Luzon Director Amadeo de Guzman explained to Philippine Information Agency Region III that “Our buffer stock stands at 1.77 million bags which is good to last in the remaining four months of the year.” “Lean months, which starts late June and ends early September is the traditional planting season for farmers. Hence, we expect no harvest that is why supply of commercial rice dwindles and prices soar ranging from P36 to P42 per kilogram,” de Guzman explained. “The government’s market intervention in Central Luzon was able to prevent the prices of commercial rice from increasing at unreasonable levels during the lean month period. We expect supply and prices of commercial to normalize with the onset of the main cropping harvest season as palay deliveries from the provinces started arriving at the Intercity in Bocaue, Bulacan which is one of the biggest rice trading center in the entire Luzon island,” de Guzman said.‐commercial‐rice‐prices‐going‐down/38275/ 

Female literacy rates still lag behind young men – Unesco September 9, 2013 8:10 pm by NEIL A. ALCOBER WHILE literacy rates for youth are rising, but young women and girls continue to lag behind young men, according to the new data from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) Institute for Statistics (UIS) stressing that more than half of countries with data have youth literacy rates of 95 percent or higher. Unesco said female youth aged 15 to 24 are making the strongest gains, but in 2011, 87 percent of them had basic literacy skills, compared to 92 percent of males. Despite the increase in literacy rates in the youth, 774 million adults aged 15 years old and above still cannot read or write, figures from the Unesco also revealed. “Two-thirds or 493 million of them are women. Among the youth, 123 million are still illiterate where 76 million are female. Even though the size of the global illiterate population is shrinking, the female proportion has remained virtually steady at 63 percent to 64 percent,” Unesco said. According to the data, South and West Asia have made one of the tremendous gains in improving adult and youth literacy over the past two decades. Between 1990 and 2011, adult literacy rate in South and West Asia increased from 47 percent to 63 percent and the youth literacy rate from 60 percent to 81 percent. Despite this progress, the lowest literacy rates are observed in South and West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The region of South and West Asia is also home to more than one-half of the global illiterate population [53 percent]. Also, 12 percent of all illiterate adults live in East Asia and the Pacific, 24 percent in sub-Saharan Africa, 6.2 percent in the Arab States and 4.6 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean. By 2015, through the Education for All (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Central Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, East Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean are expected to be at or near universal youth literacy at 92 percent. The global adult literacy rate is also estimated to reach 86 percent by 2015.‐literacy‐rates‐still‐lag‐behind‐young‐men‐ unesco/38269/ 

LTFRB SETS PUBLIC HEARING ON NEW FARE HIKE September 9, 2013 8:08 pm by LYDIA C. PENDON ILOILO CITY: The Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has set a public hearing on September 16, 2013 starting at 2 p.m. at the LTFRB office here to hear the petitions of a new fare increase on passenger jeepneys filed by two transport organizations based in this city. LTFRB Reg. Dir. Romulo Bernardes said the petitions were filed by the Iloilo City Alliance of Drivers Association (Icada) and Iloilo City Alliance of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association (Icajoda) for fare increase of at least P0.50 on top of the prevailing and approved fare of P7.50. The Icada is headed by Nick Dalisay while Icajoda is headed by Vulcan Espinosa as presidents of the associations in claiming thousands of members in the city loop.

PH lauded for ‘strong business cycle momentum’ September 9, 2013 8:05 pm PARIS: The Philippines is the only emerging Asian nation with strong business cycle momentum, although China and Singapore have stabilized, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Center said on Monday. Chinese growth was now returning to trend, meriting a “Stay the same” reading for the business cycle, after a slowdown that had weakened momentum across Asean nations. India had a “weak” business cycle reading with growth below trend in latest Asian Business Cycle Indicators report. Singapore and Malaysia were now rated as stable. Indonesia and Thailand had weak ratings. The OECD said “the key imminent downside risk facing Southeast Asia, China and India is the turmoil in the financial market, triggered by the prospects of tapering of quantitative easing (QE) policy in the United States. It noted emerging Asian economies with large current account deficits that are more vulnerable to rapid capital outflows such as India and Indonesia bore the brunt of the financial turmoil. The OECD warned volatile global oil prices due to tension in the Middle East could also pose a problem if the situation persists. AFP

Palace: Zamboanga attack won’t affect Bangsamoro talks September 9, 2013 5:01 The attack in Zamboanga City will not affect the government’s peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a Malacanang official said on Monday. “We are going to negotiate with MILF. This will not affect the peace process,” Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said. Lacierda said the Bangsamoro agreement being hammered out by the government and MILF will ultimately lead to peace and development in Muslim Mindanao. “We believe that the peace process that we have entered into with the MILF is a peace process for all of Muslim Mindanao not just the MI[LF],” Lacierda added. The Aquino administration is in the final stages of negotiations with the MILF, which is expected to result in a Bangsamoro Political Entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Lacierda said representatives of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) were consulted on the said agreement. “There were consultations on the ground by then chief negotiator Marvic Leonen and consultations continue to be done on the ground by the current peace panel,” he added. Armed members of the MNLF swooped down on several villages in Zamboanga City before dawn Monday and took about 30 people as hostages. Clashes between government security forces and the MNLF group left at least six people dead. CATHERINE S. VALENTE

Ochoa denies Napoles connection September 9, 2013 4:43 pm Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa on Monday denied he has connections with Janet Lim-Napoles, the businesswoman at the center of the P10-billion pork barrel scam. Testifying at the House of Representatives’ budget hearing for the Office of the President, Ochoa made it clear that he had divested his interests at the Marcos, Ochoa, Serapio, Tan (MOST) law office he founded. The law firm initially represented Napoles in the illegal detention case filed by Benhur Luy, her former employee who exposed the pork barrel scam, but Ochoa said the firm dropped the case on his advice. “I came to know that they (MOST) assisted initially in the legal representation of Napoles, but when I learned that they were doing that, I advised them not to continue and they withdrew the representation to Napoles,” Ochoa said. He said he didn’t know that one of his consultants, Brian Yamsuan, had direct links to Napoles. He said he learned about it only when Yamsuan’s name came out in a news report. “There was a news article that said that he was involved. It was right away we decided to terminate his services,” Ochoa said. “I was not aware of his links to Napoles.” Yamsuan was a communications consultant in Ochoa’s office, monitoring various news articles and all media-related activities. He was dismissed almost two weeks ago. Ochoa has since been cleared by the Malacanang since reports of his ties with Napoles surfaced although it was the first time that he himself denied such allegations because he does not grant any media interviews. He avoided the media after the hearing. It was not the first time Ochoa had been linked to controversy. Last July 25, The Manila Times reported that he was one of the “padrinos” or protectors of ranking officials at the graft-tainted Bureau of Customs, where he is referred to as the “Little President.” JHOANNA BALLARAN

PNP says MNLF has not taken more than 200 hostages in Zamboanga City September 9, 2013 3:24 pm THE Philippine National Police (PNP) clarified on Monday that rogue elements of the Moro National Liberation (MNLF) are not holding 200 civilians as hostages in the besieged Zamboanga City. PNP spokesman, Senior Supt. Wilben Mayor made the clarification as the standoff between government security forces and MNLF rebels in Zamboanga City have already resulted to six dead and 24 wounded. “There are 200 people stranded in Brgy. Sta. Calina . . . they cannot leave, but they are not hostages,” Mayor told reporters in a press briefing in Camp Crame. An earlier report said that more than 300 MNLF fighters, loyal to their chairman and former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Nur Misuari, stormed several villages in Zamboanga City and declares independence. “As for the motive behind the [Zamboanga City] incident… we cannot speculate as of now, but rest assured that the PNP and the Armed Forces [AFP] are doing its job to resolve the situation as soon as possible,” Mayor said. The PNP spokesman also declined to say if they will place the besieged city under a ‘state of emergency’, saying that their primary task is to ensure the stability of peace and order situation in the area. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd are flying in to Zamboanga City to assess the current situation in the area. Initial reports at the PNP national operations center in Camp Crame said the MNLF rebels swooped down on the villages of Rio Hondo, Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalona and Mariki and raised their flag.The reports said that combine military and police forces in Zamboanga City quickly engaged the MNLF fighters, allegedly led by Ustadz Habier Malik, into a firefight, leaving at least one soldier dead and 12 others wounded. The MNLF fighters, which also declared their chairman, former ARMM governor Nur Misuari as president, took at least 40 civilians as hostages and triggering a stand-off between government troops and MNLF rebels.As of press time, MNLF spokesman, Lawyer Emmanuel Fontanilla said in a radio interview that their forces are in control of seven villages of Zamboanga City, prompting an emergency meeting in Manila. Anthony Vargas‐says‐mnlf‐has‐not‐taken‐more‐than‐200‐hostages‐in‐ zamboanga‐city/38123/ 

LPA off Palawan continues to bring rains September 9, 2013 10:49 am MOST parts of the country including Metro Manila will experience light rains due to the low pressure area (LPA) that is embedded in the inter-tropical convergence zone(ITCZ) off Palawan province that is moving closer to Luzon. The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) Forecaster Alvin Pura said that as of 4 a.m, the LPA was spotted at 180 km north of Puerto Princesa Cityin Palawasm and is expected to be out of the Philippine Area of Responsibility by Monday afternoon or early Tuesday and will be heading towards west Philippines towards Vietnam. “Inaasahan natin ang LPA lalabas ng bansa mamayang hapon o bukas patungong west Philippine sea at maaring maging bagyo ito dahil nasa dagat pero nasa labas na ito ng bansa,” Pura explained. Citing the agency’s numerical models, Pura said the weather disturbance has a small chance of intensifying into a cyclone. But in case it becomes a tropical depression, he said it will be named Odette—the first cyclone to visit the country this month and the 15th for this year. He added that Visayas and Mindanao will experience cloudy skies with light to moderate rains. Except east and northern Luzon, Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon will have cloudy skies with passing light to heavy rains because of the effects of the LPA. East and Northern Luzon will have fair weather but will experience passing light rains. In its advisory, Pagasa said that Calabarzon (the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan provinces) will experience cloudy skies with moderate to occasionally heavy rains and thunderstorms which may trigger flashfloods and landslides. It added that Metro Manila, Ilocos Region, Bicol Region, Visayas and Mindanao will have cloudy skies with light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms. The rest of Luzon will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms. Pagasa also said that moderate to occasionally strong winds blowing from the northeast will prevail over extreme Northern Luzon and its coastal waters will be moderate to occasionally rough. Light to moderate winds coming from the east will prevail over Northern Luzon and from the southwest over the rest of the country with slight to moderate seas, it said. PNA‐off‐palawan‐continues‐to‐bring‐rains/38017/ 

DOF supports incentives bill September 9, 2013 7:28 pm by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO The Department of Finance reiterated its support on the filing of the Fiscal Incentives Rationalization Bill as part of the government’s goal to institutionalize good governance through legislation. On September 5, Rep. Luigi Quisumbing of the Sixth District of Cebu filed before the House of Representatives House Bill 2765, or “An Act Rationalizing the Grant and Administration of Fiscal Incentives for the Promotion of Investments and Growth, and for Other Purposes,” also known as the Fiscal Incentives Rationalization Bill. In a statement on Monday, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said that the objective of the bill is to instill further transparency in the government, by requiring units to be accountable for the incentives they grant. He explained that the bill means a department, as part of the budgeting process, must clearly outline what incentives it proposes to grant, at what cost, and what measurable outcomes each incentive will bring. “When it is time to debate whether or not to continue incentives, these will be judged based on whether or not they have produced the desired outcomes. This will make it easier for us to discontinue incentives that are either misaligned with our goals or for industries that are already mature,” he stated. Purisima also said that the bill will help the government identify which sectors use incentives most effectively in bringing benefit to the Filipino people. He added that the bill will also help trim waste from government spending, and free up fiscal space to invest in people and infrastructure. “I hope that this bill gets all the support it deserves not just from Congress, but from the public as well,” he said.‐supports‐incentives‐bill/38177/         

Life without pork September 9, 2013 9:49 pm by Mabel P. Villarica-Mamba TONGUE IN CHEEK

Mabel P. Villarica-Mamba Pork is not bad per se. Actually, any kind of food, whether it is red meat, sugary sweet, and cholesterol-rich, is not bad as long as it is taken in moderation. It becomes bad when it is taken excessively. Pork barrel, otherwise known as Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), is also not bad. It is supposed to respond to the needs of everyone, especially those belonging to the marginalized sectors or living below the poverty line, wherever they may be, in the form of soft projects (such as medical assistance, scholarship, livelihood programs, etc.) or hard projects (such as roads, bridges, classrooms, etc.). With 24 Senators covering the entire country, and 289 Congressmen representing districts and party lists all over the Philippines, the PDAF should very much cover every nook and cranny of our archipelago and fill the gaps which may have missed the attention of the national and local governments. Alas, recent news, investigations (both in the Senate and by media networks) and revelations show that more PDAF fall through the cracks rather than spent on actual projects. What is more appalling is that some of the PDAF spent on actual projects are grossly overpriced. How can a whistle, flashlight, metal rod and baseball cap cost P10,000? How can a plastic fertilizer sprayer and some bottles of what are said to be ineffective fertilizers cost P20,000 to P30,000? Any form of corruption, no matter the amount, is bad. What more if the PDAF is coursed through bogus NGOs to purchase overpriced equipment and distributed to ghost beneficiaries?

It is no wonder the people are fed up. Why am I not surprised the call to abolish the pork barrel has become stronger and louder, despite the good it has brought – well, at least to some areas by some conscientious legislators. I am not interested to know if there are still people who will run without pork, because the primary role of a legislator is to legislate, and not to implement or identify projects, much less endorse NGOs. I am more interested to know what will happen if there is no pork. Each senator is supposed to receive P200 million as PDAF annually or P4.8 billion for the entire Senate, and each congressman P70 million or P20.230 billion for all 289 congressmen. If we add the PDAF for the Senate and House, this will amount to P25.030 billion. According to the 2010 Census of Population and Housing, the population of the Philippines stands at 92,097,978 with 20.2 million households (computed based on the average household size of 4.6 persons). Using basic arithmetic, if the 25.03 billion pesos PDAF is distributed instead to each of the 20.2 million families, each family will receive around 1.24 million pesos. A single 9×7 square meter classroom using the specifications of Senator Franklin Drilon’s classroom program in partnership with the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry costs P325,000. A sturdy school desk, meanwhile, is in the P800 range. If there will be 40 school desks per classroom, the construction of the building plus school desks will be P357,000. Thus, P25.030 billion can actually put up 70,112 classrooms. The concreting of a regular road is around P20 million and a concrete farm-to-market road is around P12 million. If P25.030 billion is divided equally between regular and farm-to-market roads, there will be 625.75 kilometers of concrete regular roads and 1,042 kilometers of concrete farm-to-market roads. A basic desktop computer costs P30,000. With P25.030 billion, 834,333 desktop computers can be purchased for the use of elementary, secondary and even university or college students. The average price of a textbook in 2010 is P42 to P43. Unfortunately, cheap books may also mean grammatical error ridden and poorly written books. Increasing the baseline cost to P70 can easily provide each public school student a complete set of textbooks plus uniform plus school supplies. Of course, I must admit this is a simplistic way of dividing the entire pork barrel per family, per classroom, per kilometer of road, per computer, per textbook. However, these examples show many things can be done if only it was spent for what it was intended for. By the way, let us not forget the P200 million per senator and P70 million per congressman budget are annual allocations.

Not to be unfair to our Senators and Congressmen, the budget of local government units must also be looked into more stringently. The Internal Revenue Allotment released to provinces, cities, municipalities and barangay for 2013 is 302.3 billion pesos, but a discussion thereof is best reserved for another day. There is definitely life without pork. There is definitely hope for a better Philippines without corruption.        


Asian stocks rise on regional developments September 9, 2013 7:28 pm HONG KONG: Asian markets rose on Monday as strong Chinese trade data lifted hopes for the global economic outlook, while Japanese stocks were boosted by improved growth figures and Tokyo’s successful bid to host the 2020 Olympics. Weaker-than-forecast US jobs figures raised concerns about the world’s number one economy, but also fueled hope that the US Federal Reserve will hold off winding down its stimulus program for the time being. Tokyo rose 2.48 percent, or 344.42 points to 14,205.23. Japanese dealers bought into construction and real estate plays after Tokyo’s Olympics success, while there was also cheers for better-than expected gross domestic product (GDP) for the April to June quarter. Sydney rose 0.71 percent, or 36.5 points to 5,181.5 in the first session back after the conservative Liberal/National coalition won a weekend general election in Australia as widely expected. Shanghai soared 3.39 percent, or 72.53 points to 2,212.52, and Hong Kong added 0.57 percent, or 129.43 points to 22,750.65. Seoul closed 0.99 percent higher, adding 19.36 points to 1,974.67. Chinese data on Sunday showed exports jumped 7.2 percent year-on-year to $190.6 billion last month, much better than the 6 percent expected by economists. It was also better than the 5.1-percent rise seen in July. The figures are the latest in a string of good results out of Beijing that indicate China’s painful slowdown over much of the first six months of 2013 may have come to an end. Earlier this month, the government said that manufacturing activity grew at its fastest pace in 16 months in August. Investors were cheered by the news as Chinese growth is key to helping drive the economies of many other countries in the region. Tokyo dealers were in buying mood after the Olympics result when data was unveiled, showing the Japanese economy grew 0.9 percent over the previous quarter in April to June, up from a preliminary reading of 0.6 percent. On an annualized basis, the economy expanded 3.8 percent, the government said, up from the first estimate of 2.6 percent. Annualized figures show the rate of growth if the data was stretched across an entire year.

“The Olympics, better-than-expected China’s export data and strong GDP data are all supporting the market today,” Haruhiko Kuramochi, strategist at Mizuho Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires. The Nikkei was also supported by a weaker yen, as confidence in the global economy saw investors move into higher-risk assets looking for better returns. In afternoon forex trade, the dollar bought 99.60 yen against 99.11 yen on Friday in New York City. The euro was at $1.3171 and 131.21 yen compared with $1.3180 and 130.62 yen. The greenback suffered a sell-off on Friday after the US Labor Department said that the economy added 169,000 jobs in August, below projections of 177,000. The report also lowered the estimates for jobs added in June and July. However, while the result suggests the US economy is not as strong as hoped, it means that the Federal Reserve’s plans to reel in its stimulus program may be put off a little longer. Scott Wren, a senior equity strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors, said that the report “wasn’t good at all” but added: “It’s a ‘what’s bad is good’ type of thing.” Emerging markets—especially in emerging economies—were hammered last month as foreigners fled back to the West in expectations the Fed will start to cut back on its vast bond purchases by the end of the year. On Wall Street, the Dow fell 0.10 percent, and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were flat. While buying sentiment was strong, an ongoing dispute between Russia and the US over Syria had dealers on edge, as presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin failed Friday to reach agreement at a Group of 20 summit on how to deal with the crisis. AFP  


Posted on September 09, 2013 11:19:41 PM By Bettina Faye V. Roc, Reporter

Incentives bill refiled   A BILL rationalizing the grant of fiscal incentives -- a priority of the Cabinet economic cluster -- has been filed at the House of Representatives with the Finance department’s backing.  

House Bill (HB) 2765 “proposes the rationalization and harmonization of the fiscal incentive system that will enhance the competitiveness of the country as an investment site and... ensure that the tax incentives are cost efficient and attuned to the fiscal sustainability thrust of the national government,” Rep. Gabriel Luis R. Quisumbing (6th district, Cebu) said in the measure’s explanatory note. The proposed law limits the grant of incentives to registered export enterprises, strategic activities and micro and small enterprises (MSEs) for a period not exceeding 25 years. It also provides mechanisms for the administration, implementation and monitoring of incentives granted by authorities. “This measure is our answer to the challenge of this administration to raise additional revenues for better government services without imposing new taxes,” Mr. Quisumbing said. Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, in a statement, yesterday noted his department’s support for the bill. “This bill will help us trim waste from government spending and will help us free up fiscal space to invest in our people and our infrastructure. I hope that this bill gets all the support it deserves not just from Congress, but from the public as well,” Mr. Purisima said. HB 2765 contains key provisions that the Finance department has called for in the past, such as limiting perks to export enterprises and the inclusion of

incentives in the national budget, among others. “The objective of this bill is to instill further transparency in our government by requiring units to be accountable for the incentives they grant. This means that a department, as part of the budgeting process, must clearly outline what incentives it proposes to grant, at what cost, and what measurable outcomes each incentive will bring,” Mr. Purisima said. Under HB 2765, registered export enterprises will be entitled to any one of the following: • an income tax holiday of not more than five years from the start of commercial operations; • a 5% tax on gross income in lieu of all national local taxes -- except valueadded tax (VAT) and real property tax -- of which 3% shall be remitted to the national government and the other 2% to the local government unit; or • a reduced income tax rate of 15%. Export enterprises located inside an economic zone and/or free port zone can also get preferential VAT and customs duty treatment for imported capital equipment and raw materials, subject to several conditions. Firms located outside such zones will be entitled to VAT and duty refund claimable within one year from the date of actual export of their products. The refunds will be facilitated through the creation of a Trust Liability Account with the Bureau of the Treasury. “The claims for VAT and customs duty refunds shall be made by the registered export enterprise with the Bureau of Customs. However, the VAT refund shall only be granted upon obtaining a favorable endorsement from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR),” the bill states. VAT-registered domestic firms selling raw materials, packaging materials or capital equipment, as well as services such as the processing or manufacturing of goods for the use of registered export enterprises will also get a VAT incentive.

Meanwhile, registered strategic activities will get the same incentives available to export firms save for VAT exemption for the importation of materials. Only income derived from the registered activities of these export firms and strategic activities will be considered in the grant of incentives. Earnings from non-registered activities or projects shall be subject to the appropriate taxes. As for micro and small enterprises, the bill states that qualified entities -meaning those whose gross revenues do not exceed P350,000 for serviceoriented entities or P700,000 trading or manufacturing entities for a taxable year -- will be exempt from income tax. Investment promotion agencies will be responsible for the administration and implementation of incentives granted to the registered enterprises. For qualified MSEs it will be the BIR. Export or strategic enterprises will also not be allowed to register their export or domestic activities in more than one investment promoting agency. “In the event that an enterprise shall transfer to another authority, only the remaining unutilized incentives shall be granted to the enterprise or the transferee, vendee, or assignee,” the bill states. Tax incentives for all registered enterprises will be drawn from a Tax Expenditure Fund, which will be automatically appropriated as part of the national budget.  


Posted on September 09, 2013 11:19:11 PM

Budget gap widens THE GOVERNMENT posted its widest budget gap so far this year in July as it ramped up spending to outpace double-digit growth in revenues.  At P53.2 billion, the result pushed the year-to-date shortfall to P104.51 billion, data released yesterday showed. “Our fiscal operations for July show that our expenditures have gained momentum, indicating increased investments in priority infrastructure and social projects,” Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima said in a statement. “With both revenues and expenditures posting double-digit increases, this marks that the Philippine government is stepping up its efforts to support our growing economy.” Revenues grew by an annual 17.3% to P144.62 billion in July, attributed to improved collections by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BoC). The BIR collected P100.1 billion, up 19.9%, while the BoC saw a 13.5% gain to P27.67 billion. The Treasury bureau added P7.95 billion and other offices, P8.91 billion. July’s revenue haul took the seven-month total to P984.09 billion, up 11.3% from the comparable 2012 period. The government must now collect P311.91 billion up to September to meet its P1.295-trillion target for the first three quarters of the year. Spending, meanwhile, totalled P197.84 billion in July, up by more than a fifth from a year earlier. Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad said it was “the highest in monthly expenditures for the year to date.” “From month to month, we’re seeing the sustained improvement of the pace and quality of our expenditures, so that we’re proceeding at the momentum we want and channeling our resources to high-impact projects,” he said in a separate

statement. “The budget reforms that this administration introduced -- such as the early release of allotments and the facilitation of pre-procurement activities -- helped make expenditures much more efficient,” he added. The month’s disbursements helped the government breach the P1-trillion spending mark, with the January to July tally hitting P1.089 trillion. This was mostly driven by a surge in infrastructure expenditures, which grew by 42.4% year on year to P150.9 billion. The broader category of capital outlays totaled P195.7 billion, up 31.8% from last year. Maintenance and other operating expenditures, meanwhile, grew by 22.9% to P165 billion and spending on personnel services likewise increased by 10.7% to P330.3 billion as of end-July. Disbursements for interest payments also rose by 4.6% annually to P210.6 billion. Public spending needs to breach P351 billion by end-September if the government is to meet its three-quarter expenditure target of P1.44 trillion. The government still enjoys considerable fiscal space given the January-September deficit ceiling of P144.45 billion. “As we work on accelerating public spending in the second half of the year, we look forward to facilitating disbursements that will ensure continued growth across highperforming and promising industries, as well as the rapid implementation of bigticket programs and projects, including infrastructure projects and the administration’s banner antipoverty programs,” Mr. Abad said. The government hopes to collect P1.746 trillion in revenues and spend P1.98 trillion for 2013 deficit of P238 billion, equivalent to 2% of gross domestic product (GDP). It posted a budget gap of P242.8 billion last year, equivalent to 2.3% of GDP. -Bettina Faye V. Roc    

Posted on September 09, 2013 11:18:47 PM

IMF team to arrive next week  

AN INTERNATIONAL Monetary Fund (IMF) team will be in town next week to prepare for an annual economic review.   “A regular interim short staff visit... between the annual Article IV consultations will be... from September 17-20,” IMF Resident Representative Shanaka Jayanath Peiris yesterday said in an e-mail. It will be a “usual mid-year visit to update information and prepare for the next Article IV,” Mr. Peiris explained. The last time an IMF team visited the country for an Article IV consultation was from January 10-23 this year. “[W]e may release a revised outlook after that mission or wait for the WEO (World Economic Outlook) report in October,” Mr. Peiris also said. The IMF is trimming its growth projections for emerging economies, citing risks from the scaling back of the US Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing program. In July, the IMF raised its 2013 and 2014 growth forecasts for the Philippines to 7% and 6%, respectively, from 6% and 5.5%. Growth has so far stayed above the government’s 6-7% target for the year, hitting 7.6% in the first semester. In its last Article IV report in April, the IMF commended the government’s “prudent policies,” which it said had resulted in robust macroeconomic conditions and set the stage for “favorable economic prospects for the near term.” On the other hand, global uncertainties, volatile capital inflows, banks’ exposure to certain sectors and stretched asset prices were cited as risks. -- Ann Rozainne R. Gregorio    

Posted on September 09, 2013 11:18:16 PM

Debt measure improves in first half  

GOVERNMENT DEBT as a percentage of the economy fell to 49.5% in the first half from the 50.6% recorded a year earlier, the Treasury bureau yesterday reported.  

In a statement, the bureau said the latest debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio -- also an improvement from the 51.5% as of end-2012 -showed that the state’s debt remained “sustainable.” The measure is used by many debt watchers to assess a country’s creditworthiness. The government is targeting a 48% debt-to-GDP ratio for this year alongside 6-7% growth in the economy. The country recorded GDP growth of 7.6% in the first semester, above the full-year goal.            

Posted on September 08, 2013 09:00:33 PM

Yields little changed as investors wait for Fed  

YIELD YIELDS in the secondary bond market were little TRACKER changed last week as investors stayed on the sidelines ahead of the US Federal Reserve’s much-awaited policy meeting this month.

Week-on-week, yields on government debt papers rose by an average of just 0.10 basis points (bps), according to data from the Philippine Dealing and Exchange Corp. “Market players generally stayed defensive last week as they continued to wait for the US Federal Reserve’s decision about its bond purchases,” a bond trader said in a phone interview.

The US central bank has announced it would start scaling back its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases this year as soon as it sees indications that the US economy is on the mend. The central bank’s policy-making body, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), will meet on September 17 to 18, and the market widely expects it to approve the taper then. Abroad, yields of the benchmark 10-year US Treasury notes have been soaring as investors fear a tightening of global liquidity when the Fed cuts its bond buying. Concerns over the Fed taper made investors disregard positive developments on the local front, particularly the slowdown of inflation last month, the bond trader said. This resulted in a minimal change in bond yields. Inflation in August eased to a four-year low of 2.1%. It pulled down year-to-date inflation to 2.8%, below the central bank’s 3-5% target for the year. Yields on the 91- and 182-day Treasury bills declined by 51.04 bps and 17.50 bps, respectively, while the 364-day security gained 50 bps. At the belly of the curve, the two- and five-year Treasury bonds lost 2.50 bps and 38.79 bps, respectively, while the four- and seven-year debt papers were unchanged. The threeyear security, on the other hand, gained 47.56 bps. At the long end, yields on the 10- and 25-year T-bonds climbed by 4.14 bps and 9.18 bps, respectively. The 20-year note was unchanged. “There was higher demand for short-term bills that was why their yields declined,” the bond trader said. “Usually when there are uncertainties in the market, market players prefer the short-term papers,” the trader explained. Asked about his outlook, Jonathan L. Ravelas, chief market strategist of BDO Unibank, Inc. said, “chartwise, continue to expect interest rates to move sideways with an upward bias, in the week ahead.” The bond trader agreed, saying, “market players are likely to continue staying on the sidelines ahead of the FOMC meeting.” -- Mariel Therese E. Bobier        

Posted on September 09, 2013 08:51:23 PM By Ann Rozainne R. Gregorio, Reporter

PNB to raise another P5B from LTNCDs  

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL Bank (PNB) is looking to raise P5 billion from the issuance of long-term negotiable certificates of deposit (LTNCDs) -- its second offering for the year -- to bankroll its expansion plans and strengthen the bank’s operations.  

PNB aims to raise another P5 billion this year to help fund its expansion plans. -- Jonathan L. Cellona “We applied for the issuance of five-and-a-half-year LTNCDs with the central bank this month,” PNB Executive Vice-President and Head of Treasury Horacio E. Cebrero III said in a phone interview last Friday. The board of directors of the Lucio C. Tan-owned bank approved the issuance early last month, he added. PNB is targeting to raise up to P5 billion from the transaction. “We might be issuing the certificates of deposit in several tranches, but it would depend on the demand from the market,” Mr. Cebrero said. Proceeds of the issuance will be used for the “asset growth of the bank” and “to meet the loan demand in certain durations,” Mr. Cebrero said. It will also provide for the liquidity cover ratio required by Basel III, he pointed out. Under Basel III -- a set of international standards meant to strengthen the banking industry in the wake of the global financial crisis -- banks must have a liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) of 60% by January 2016. The LCR is an indicator of a bank’s “short-term resilience,” according to the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the administrator of Basel III.

It ensures that a bank has enough “unencumbered, high-quality liquid assets that can be converted into cash easily and immediately” to meet its liquidity needs for the next 30 days. “It will improve the banking sector’s ability to absorb shocks arising from financial and economic stress, whatever the source, thus reducing the risk of spillover from the financial sector to the real economy,” the BIS said. Mr. Cebrero said the LTNCD offering will take place “within the year.” LTNCDs are similar to time deposits, but they cannot be terminated before their maturity date. They may also be traded in the secondary market. PNB already raised P5 billion from the issuance of LTNCDs in July. The offer was closed on the same day it began due to overwhelming investor demand. The certificates had a coupon rate of 3% -- said to be the lowest for an LTNCD -- and a maturity of five and half years. Meanwhile, Mr. Cebrero clarified that the downgrade of the bank’s subordinated debt ratings by Moody’s Investors Service was merely part of an adjustment in the credit rater’s methodology. “PNB remains to have a healthy asset quality and balance sheet,” he said. Last week, Moody’s put down PNB’s subdebt ratings to B2 from Ba3, five notches below investment grade. PNB shares closed at P80.15 apiece yesterday, down 1.29% or P1.05 from their P81.20 finish last Friday.      

Posted on September 09, 2013 08:44:33 PM

Peso rallies with emerging Asia as US job growth falters THE PESO recovered strongly on Monday as the United States reported weak job creation in August, threatening the Federal Reserve’s plans of tapering its stimulus program this month.  The local currency closed at P44.240 yesterday, gaining 24 centavos from its P44.48-per-dollar finish last Friday. “The peso appreciated mostly in reaction to the US non-farm payrolls,” a trader said in a phone interview. The non-farm payrolls released by the US Labor Department last Friday showed only 169,000 new jobs were created last month, lower than the market forecast of 180,000. The June and July figures were also revised downwards, showing 74,000 fewer new jobs were added. The non-farm payrolls records all paid labor in the US except those in the government, household and farm sectors. The lower-than-expected jobs data raised hopes the Fed could delay or scale down its planned tapering of its $85-billion monthly bond-buying program, another trader said in a phone interview. This created a “risk-on scenario,” the trader explained, encouraging investors to stock up on risky assets like emerging market currencies. The US central bank has said it could trim its stimulus program within the year should the economy show signs of sustained recovery. Policy makers are widely expected to start the taper when they meet on September 17-18. Fears of tighter global liquidity have caused investors to pull their portfolios out of emerging markets, moving them back to developed nations. “We also had China data [yesterday] which was positive,” the second trader

said. China reported that inflation slowed to 2.6% in August from the 2.7% in July. Its exports also rose 7.2% year-on-year last month, while imports jumped 7%, leaving the country with a trade surplus of $28.6 billion for August. The market forecast was 6% and 11%, respectively, for a trade surplus of $20 billion. Most currencies in emerging Asia rallied yesterday. The South Korean won hit a four-month high as sustained stock inflows prompted stop-loss dollarselling. The Taiwan dollar advanced on demand from foreign financial institutions, though its upside was limited by central bank purchases of the dollar. The Malaysian ringgit, along with the peso, appreciated as investors cut bearish positions. Still, emerging Asian currencies are unlikely to rise further as long as investors maintain expectations the Fed may dial down its bond buys, traders said. Dollars traded yesterday totaled $698.7 million, down from $789.3 million last Friday. The peso is expected to trade against the dollar within the P44.10 to P44.40 band today. -- DJBE and Reuters      

Posted on September 09, 2013 10:03:44 PM

Digos seeks export processing zone DAVAO CITY -- The government of nearby Digos City, Davao del Sur’s capital, has asked the national government to declare an area near a manufacturing site an export processing zone.  Mayor Joseph R. Peñas told media that the city government is pushing for the creation of an export processing zone to entice investors in Digos, which just observed its 13th anniversary on Sunday. The proposed zone would occupy a 38-hectare area near Nakayama Technological Corp., which manufactures various products for buildings and homes. “This is one way to boost our economy,” said Mr. Peñas, pointing out that creating an economic zone will result in more investors and eventually more jobs for his constituents. He also said that the city is “strategically located” as it is between two major cities, Davao and General Santos. Mr. Peñas added that the city, with about 200,000 residents, has become the center of commerce and trade in the province and noted that it also has adequate infrastructure. He also cited the schools and hospitals needed by a growing city. He also said the city is peaceful, making it conducive to business. Recently, SM Prime Holdings, Inc. identified Digos City as among possible expansion areas in Mindanao. The city government is also pushing for the development of its tourism sector as it has endorsed to the Regional Development Council the development of its road network. This will pass through Kapatagan, the starting point for trekking to Mt. Apo, considered the main tourist attraction in the Davao Region.

The regional office of the Department of Tourism earlier said that the national government set aside about P1.7 billion, to be used in developing roads to tourist sites. “If we can develop this road, the tourism program will boom,” Mr. Peñas said, adding that the development of the road has already started. -- C.Q. Francisco                                    

Posted on September 09, 2013 09:56:41 PM

After indignation ONCE AGAIN, the Filipino people have expressed their Blueboard Pierre de indignation. After EDSA I and EDSA II, the Luneta Charentenay, SJ march assembled hundreds of thousands of people. Every time the cause was fundamental. With the help of many groups and the support of the Church, huge crowds went to the street in order to say that something very profound was wrong and demanded action and mobilization. EDSA I wanted peace between two armies and the departure of President Marcos. It got both of the objectives. EDSA II wanted the departure of President Estrada. It got it. Human rights and the rule of law had to prevail against the public authority itself. The “people power” was stronger than any attempt to prevent the respect of the law.  

The objective of Luneta was also clear, the abolition of such a hated “pork barrel.” Behind this fat lechon, the crowd targeted corruption. Everyone was fed up with those practices which affect all levels of government and private business as well. The President already said he would get rid of these special funds, PDAF. The debate is far from being finished, but indignation seems to work well. This reminds me of an old Frenchman of 93 years old, StephaneHessel, diplomat and survivor of the Nazi camps, who wrote some years ago a small book of 32 pages entitled Indignez-vous, (Time for outrage). This book sold four million copies in French, and was translated to 34 languages. It clearly showed a strong feeling that too much is too much and things must change. The author was explaining that indifference was the worst of all attitudes. He asked to look around for topics of indignation. For him, it was the treatment of the Palestinian people by Israel. In Spain, many groups have followed that invitation and have expressed their outrage at the politics of their government through the movement of the “indignados.” In Greece, people have expressed their refusal of extreme austerity, and in the US a whole

camp was organized in front of Wall Street under the banner “Occupy Wall Street.� For the Filipino people today, the target is clearly corruption, impunity and the constant breaking of the rule of law. At first look, the capacity for indignation is very efficient because of the change it seems it has produced in the past. But if one looks more closely to those events and their follow up, doubts are coming about the capacity of indignation to produce a real political change in the long run. They could even produce a great disappointment,because nothing changes. Stephane Hessel’s book was later discussed by philosophers and political scientists. They understand the powerful capacity of emotion in the formulation and the mobilization of outrage. But they ask questions on the follow up: he did not invite the outraged to organize themselves and to get involved rationally in the institution as a social force to be able to get to power through politics and political parties. He took people out of indifference, without showing them thew ay and the means to change the situation which created their indignation. It is interesting to apply this parable to the three events in which the Filipino people have demonstrated so strongly their indignation. EDSA I has reestablished the rule of law which had been destroyed for so long by Marcos and his cronies. But EDSA I did not change the culture of Philippine democracy: the old families went back in the first row of power, the agrarian reform was not enacted, and the day to day corruption went on as usual. This is not to say that nothing was done. In many areas, great progress was achieved -- thanks to some very qualified personalities. But the political culture had not changed. EDSA II is more of the same: the corrupt president was ousted, but Estrada was replaced by a team which proved to be also corrupt and ready to pardon his predecessor, as if nothing had happened. The law was not better applied. Business was again going on as usual. Inequality still increased, and when the economy started to accelerate with fabulous growth of the GNP, the percentage of poor people did not change, while the rich and the powerful were getting richer and more powerful. Luneta has confirmed the outrage of the people over the pork barrel system. But will it lead to a strict respect of the law and of the role of public institutions? There was no indifference in the archipelago. Those decennial

events prove it through the expression of indignation. But the prevalence of clientelism and personal interest over the common rule remains the daily practice. It will not change without a change of culture. It demands the restoration of the authority of the state in setting the goals of a real politic of common good and in applying the laws. It demands a justice department able to respect the rules at all level of administration and business. It demands a competent and free press to be able to analyze the situation and put in the light of all the manipulations often hidden for years below the blanket of bad habits. Pushed by the indignation of many, the political culture will then be able to change so that the mobilization of the people will have some permanent effect. Fr. Pierre de Charentenay, S.J., PhD, former president of the Jesuit Universities in Paris, France is visiting professor of Political Science at the Ateneo de Manila University. He has directed études as editor-in-chief from 2004 to 2012. A Jesuit review of contemporary culture, études is renowned in France and Europe for social analysis.                    

Posted on September 10, 2013 09:05:11 AM

Local universities fall in global ranking  

PHILIPPINE universities -- except for one -- have slipped in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) rankings for Asia as the ratings body urged the country’s educational institutions to improve on research and international faculty viability to boost their standing.  

The University of the Philippines (UP) remained on top among four universities but was down 32 notches to 380th from 348th in 2012. Jesuit-run Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) came in second, dropping to 501-550 from its 451-500 level the previous year. De La Salle University (DLSU) stayed among the 601-650 universities, unchanged from last year. University of Santo Tomas (UST) was the fourth and last Philippine institution to make it among the top universities at the 701+ level. The Dominican school was at the 601+ level in 2012. Ben Sowter, QS research head, said in a statement: “To improve their competitiveness on the global scene, Filipino institutions have to increase their influence in research and in the ability to attract international faculty.” “As one of the emerging Asian Tigers, the Philippines should invest in knowledge creation to fuel and sustain its rapid growth,” Mr. Sowter added. QS also saw the country’s robust growth as “likely to boost the country’s ambitions at higher education level”. The country’s economy expanded at 7.5% in the second quarter and 7.7% in the first quarter of the year as the Philippines is headed to beat the government’s full-year goal of 6-7%. QS noted most of the 62 Asian universities in the top 400 ranked higher than in 2007 but still failed to make into the top 20.

National University of Singapore, the top Asian institution for 2013, ranked 24th in the world, overtaking University of Hong Kong at 26th. Massachusetts Institute of Technology remained the top university in the world, followed by Harvard which switched places with University of Cambridge in the second and third spot. -- Mikhail Franz E. Flores‐universities‐fall‐in‐ global‐ranking&id=76238                                     

A disaster waiting to happen Written by Tribune Editorial Tuesday, 10 September 2013 08:00    

National Liberation Front’s (MNLF) attack on Zamboanga City was an offshoot of indecision and the defective Bangsamoro agreement that exclusively deals with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in establishing peace in Mindanao. Indecision because instead of taking a quick response when MNLF chairman Nur Misuari said the MNLF was breaking with the republic and was declaring independence, Noynoy and his cabals at the Palace merely shrugged it off, saying that as long as the MNLF does not brandish arms in its declaration, it can do as it pleases. The MNLF committed treason in full public view and the Palace made light of it saying that Misuari does not have the forces to enforce the Bangsamoro declaration of independence. It seems that Noynoy and the intelligence community of military and the police did not recognize the so blatant fact that Misuari can be the rallying figure of the groups ignored in the peace process, which groups are much more than just the MNLF. There is the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the armed followers of various sultans whom the government did not consult with in the drafting of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB). The MNLF, which has an observer status in the influential Organization of Islamic Conference, can still throw its weight around and seek recognition of what it does with the international group. Last August, Misuari declared the breakaway of the Bangsamoro Republik that consisted of the whole of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan as an independent nation, which has its own Constitution already submitted to the United Nations. The actions would have earned a swift arrest from a well-meaning government since it was clearly a breach of sovereignty, and if the Palace is reluctant to cite the MNLF for rebellion or treason, then public disturbance would have sufficed just to show the government’s clear position on its treacherous action. The MNLF has been badgering Noynoy about the 1996 Final Peace Agreement that did not live up to its name based on the claims of Misuari that the economic provisions of the agreement signed with former President Fidel Ramos were never implemented. The economic provisions of the deal are similar to the wealth sharing annex of the FAB where the MILF is likely to grab 75 percent against the government’s 25 percent on wealth proceeds in the proposed Bangsamoro political entity. This has naturally become

a source of envy from other Muslim groups in Mindanao excluded from the agreement with the MILF. Noynoy is seen as buying off the MILF to create a semblance of peace in Mindanao which is not expected to be permanent and, like the agreement with the MNLF, will be a mere political trophy for the incumbent. Similar disturbances are bound to happen unless Noynoy make a move on the other Muslim groups who feel to have been unfairly excluded in the deal, either through force or diplomacy. The MILF got what it wanted after breaking off with the MNLF and waging its own war of secession supposedly in response to its main MNLF group surrendering the aspirations for an independent Bangsamoro land. What would stop other groups from saying now that the MILF was coopted to justify a new war?‐a‐disaster‐ waiting‐to‐happen                           

Some groups trying to discredit Sept. 11 Edsa rally — organizer Written by Tribune Tuesday, 10 September 2013 08:00  

A warning was issued by the organizers of the so-called Edsa Tayo rally on Sept. 11 because of the circulation of emails linking them to United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). According to Junep Ocampo, one of the organizers of the Edsa Tayo, they were told about the circulation of the emails linking them to UNA which is not true. “We were told that emails are being circulated now linking Edsa Tayo to UNA. Sorry, but this is again another attempt to discredit us and discourage people from attending the Sept. 11 event,” Ocampo said. He added that only last week, these same people linked them to President Aquino and then they linked them to Marcos and the latest is that they are being linked to Binay. Ocampo said these erroneous claims seemed to be orchestrated and they would not stop whoever they are. “Our call is very clear: We want the pork barrel to be scrapped from the President down to the barangay. That’s our only call. We’re praying to God that He will give him the courage to do what’s right,” Ocampo said. Ocampo also said that they “will just pray to those who are trying to discredit them and only asked Why are they doing this? Your guess is as good as mine.” The protest rally will be held on Sept. 11 along Edsa, particularly at the Edsa Shrine the site of the first People Power Revolution that ended the reign of then President Marcos and his ilks. This protest is a follow-up to the Million People March in Luneta Park in Manila last month which was triggered by the controversy surrounding the P10-billion pork barrel funds of the lawmakers. Ocampo said that tomorrow the mediamen will be briefed about the Edsa Tayo protest at exactly 11 a.m. at the Edsa Shrine grounds. He said the organizers will be there to answer all questions regarding the move for a second protest rally. The media will also be guided inside the Shrine for a walk through to orient them as to what will happen on Sept. 11. The rally is also supported by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. Earlier, some people expressed concerns over the choice of the date of the rally and

venue because it coincides with the 96th birthday of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, and the resulting traffic that it would likely create because the venue is a very busy main road. Ocampo has repeatedly explained, however, that the date was picked for no special reason other than currency as the pork issue continues to stew even after the Million People March last Aug. 26 at the Luneta Park in Manila. He also said Edsa is an obvious choice as it symbolizes the Filipinos’ fight for major issues that hurt them and the country in general. Meanwhile, Regional Director Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo Jr. of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) announced yesterday that all its units will be on red alert tomorrow as part of efforts to secure the Edsa Shrine during the anti-PDAF rally. Garbo said that 500 cops from Quezon City Police District (QCPD) are set to be deployed while another 500 cops will be on stand by and ready for deployment in the area. With PNA and Alvin Murcia‐some‐groups‐trying‐to‐discredit‐ sept‐11‐edsa‐rally‐organizer                     

PPA shortchanged gov’t from 2009 to 2012 — CoA Written by Gerry Baldo Tuesday, 10 September 2013 08:00   The Philippine Ports Authority has shortchanged the government from 2009 to 2012 by failing to earn revenues for the 52 ports that has been constructed during the period. Only 38 are operational. The Commission on Audit (CoA), in its 2012 audit of the PA, said that only 38 out of the 52 ports constructed from 2009 to 2012 at a total cost of over P3 billion are currently operational. The CoA also reported that 14 of the seaports now in operation are underutilized or receive income not enough to “defray the cost of providing the facilities and services.” “Of the 52 ports audited from 2009 to 2012, a total of 14 and 38 ports remained underutilized and unutilized, respectively, since their completion, hence were unable to generate income enough to defray the cost of providing facilities and services and realize reasonable returns on the assets employed,” the CoA findings said. State auditors explained that the government spent a total P1,522,053,221 for the construction of some of the ports that were audited from 2009 to 2011. Despite the huge public expenditures for the construction of the said ports, government was only able to recover P2,278,324 in revenues from the ten underutilized ports during the period of audit. Among the ports that were put up but failed to operate and have not received any income are the following: Canalate Seaport, Malolos, Bulacan built for P773,289,000; Sta. Cruz Seaport, Paombong, P976,551; Masantol Wharf in Pampanga, P33.6 million; Diosdado Macapagal Cruise Terminal, P38.1 million; Ports of Sibunag, Gimbal and Concepcion in Iloilo, P140.3 million; Ports of Taytay and Bataraza, Puerto Princesa, P101million; Bacacay, Albay, P14.6 million; Tandoc-Siruma, Camarines Sur, P44.9 million; and San Pascual and Esperanza, Masbate, P157 million. Ports that are operating but have failed to generate enough profit are the Pantao Port in Libon, Albay; Nato, in Sangay Camarines Sur , Aroroy, Masbate; CAwayan, Masbate; Orion Port Terminal, Bataan; Dingalan Terminal Port, Nueva Ecija and Rizal Port, Palawan.‐ppa‐shortchanged‐gov‐t‐from‐ 2009‐to‐2012‐coa 

P10 pasahe hinirit (Joselito Perez) Binuhay ng grupong Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (ACTO) ang kanilang nakabinbing petisyon sa tanggapan ng Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) na humihiling na gawing P10 ang minimum fare sa mga pampasaherong dyip. Matatandaang Nobyembre noong nakaraang taon nang ipatigil ng ACTO sa LTFRB ang pagdinig sa kanilang inihaing petisyon matapos bumaba ang presyo ng produktong petrolyo at krudo. Kahapon bandang alas-onse ng tanghali ay nagtungo si ACTO President Efren de Luna sa tanggapan ng LTFRB upang ihain ang kanilang “motion to lift archived and to set an immediate hearing for fare hike petition” upang patungan ng P2 dagdag sa kasalukuyang P8 na minimum fare sa mga pampasaherong dyip. Gayunpaman, sinabi ni De Luna na tanging dagdag lamang sa minimum fare ang kanilang hinihingi at hindi kasama dito ang mga patong na singilin sa bawat haba ng kilometro sa kanilang kabuuang biyahe o ruta.               

Oil hike pa! (Armida Rico/Bernard Taguinod)

Napipintong magtaas ng presyo ng produktong petrolyo ang mga kumpanya ng langis ngayong linggo. Dahil dito, hindi maitago ang pagkadismaya ng mga motorista partikular na ang mga tsuper ng jeepney sa patuloy na pagtaas ng presyo ng langis gayong hindi naman tumataas ang pamasahe. Tinatayang nasa P0.40 hanggang P0.50 kada litro ang idadagdag sa presyo ng gasolina habang wala namang dagdag ang presyo ng diesel dahil sa bahagyang bumaba ang presyo nito sa pandaigdigang pamilihan. Samantala, lalong hindi mararamdaman ng mamamayan ang ipinagmamalaking economic growth ng administrasyon ni Pangulong Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III dahil sa sunud-sunod na oil price hike bagama’t hindi pa nagsisimula ang pag-atake ng Amerika sa Syria. Ito ang pangamba ng mga militanteng mambabatas sa Kamara kaugnay ng panibagong oil price hike na nakaamba anumang araw mula ngayon.             

Pantakip sa ‘pork’ scam? No way! (Bernard Taguinod)

Itinanggi ng isang administration congressman na pang-ligaw sa isyu ng pork barrel scam ang pag-atake ng Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) sa Zamboanga City. Ayon kay House assistant majority leader Sherwin Tugna, isang criminal at barbaric act ang ginawa ng MNLF kaya hindi ito maituturing na diversionary tactics sa mainit na isyu ng pork barrel scam. “Para sa akin, ito ay isang barbaric act ng MNLF. Gumagamit ng inosenteng sibilyan for their political demands,” ani Tugna. Dahil dito, wala aniyang dahilan para akusahan ang gobyerno na pang-ligaw nila ang MNLF attack sa isyu ng pork barrel. Hindi aniya bayolente ang gobyerno para gawin ang taktikang ito tulad ng iniisip ng mga kritiko ng administrasyon.               

Suspensyon vs senador, kongresista sa ‘pork’ scam (Dindo Matining)

Awtomatikong suspensyon ang kahaharapin ng mga senador at kongresista kapag nagdesisyon ang mga government prosecutors na sampahan ng kaso ang mga ito dahil sa pagkakaugnay nila sa maling paggamit ng kanilang pork barrel fund. Sa ilalim ng Anti-Plunder Act of 1991, ipinaliwanag ni Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago na ang sinumang public official na nahaharap sa criminal prosecution ay dapat suspendehin sa kanyang tanggapan. “Any public officer facing criminal prosecution that is pending in court, shall be suspended from office,” paliwanag ni Santiago. Oras na maisampa na ang kaso sa korte, ang unang gagawin ng hurado ay magsagawa ng bail hearing para matukoy kung matibay ang ebidensya laban sa akusado. “If the evidence of guilt is strong, the accused lawmakers will have to stay in jail during the course of the trial,” ani Santiago.           

Maximum penalty kay Napoles (BTaguinod) Umaasa ang isang mambabatas na maipapataw ang “maximum sentence” sa umano’y utak ng P10 bilyong pork barrel scam na si Janet Lim-Napoles, sampu ng kanyang mga kasabwat sa pagnanakaw sa pondo ng bayan. Ito ang dahilan kaya umapela si Akbayan partylist Rep. Ibarra Gutierrez sa Department of Justice (DOJ) na tiyaking solido ang kaso upang mangyari ang inaasahan laban kay Napoles at maging sa mga pulitikong nakinabang sa pork barrel scam, kung mayroon man. “Sana maximum ang penalty sa kanya,” pahayag ni Gutierrez na tila naiinip na rin sa kasong isasampa kay Napoles na may kaugnayan sa nasabing anomalya na naging dahilan para ipa-abolish ni Pangulong Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III ang Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) na mas kilala sa tawag na pork barrel. Pero hindi umaasa ang kongresista na kakanta nang buung-buo si Napoles lalo pa’t malalaking tao ang kanyang ikakanta kung sakali na kinabibilangan ng mga senador at kongresista. “Hindi ako umaasa na kakanta iyan. Baka mapahamak, madiin pa sa kaso kung kakanta siya. Palagay ko mananahimik na lang iyan,” ayon pa kay Gutierrez sa panayam ng Abante. Ganito rin ang opinyon ni Dasmariñas City Rep. Elpidio Barzaga sa hiwalay na panayam kung may posibilidad na kakanta si Napoles para madiin ang mga pulitikong kasabwat nito. “Kung may incentives, kakanta siguro. Pero kung wala, mananahimik na lang iyan,” ayon kay Barzaga kaya hindi ito umaasa na ilalaglag ni Napoles ang mga pulitiko na walang balik o pabor sa kanya. 

Mga magbababoy, sapul ng anti‘pork’ protest (JPerez)

Umaaray ang mga negosyante sa industriya ng pagbebenta ng baboy dahil umano sa isyu ng pork barrel scandal kung saan ay lubos na naaapektuhan ang kanilang negosyo dahil sa panawagan na pagbasura ng pork barrel fund na kung tutuusin umano ay wala namang kinalaman sa kanila bilang mga hog raisers and meat processors. Ayon kay Daniel Javellana Jr., pangulo ng National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. (NFHFI), noong Agosto 26 kung saan isinagawa ang ‘Million People March’ sa Luneta ay marami sa mga restaurant ang tumangging magbenta ng kanilang mga putaheng baboy bilang protesta laban sa mga mambabatas na kinurakot umano ang Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) sa halip na ilaan sa mga proyekto at mga serbisyo sa mamamayan. Ilan pa umano sa mga isinisigaw sa naturang kilos protesta ang “Don’t Eat Pork, Join the Struggle” at “Oink-Oink”. “We were also at Luneta to join fellow Filipinos in protesting and expressing outrage against the PDAF but we were hurting inside with the collective chant of ‘Makibaka, huwag magbaboy’. The hog raisers are truly part of the campaign against the PDAF,” ayon pa kay Javellana. Gayunpaman, nakakalungkot umano na ginagawang literal ang kampanya laban sa baboy na nagreresulta ng pagkalugi nilang mga magbababoy.       

Walang price hike sa basic goods! (Eralyn Prado)

Patuloy na ipinatutupad ng Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) ang price freeze sa mga pangunahing bilihin sa mga lugar na isinailalim sa state of calamity matapos masalanta ng bagyong Labuyo noong nakaraang buwan. Paglilinaw ito kahapon ng DTI kasabay ng pagsasabing hangga’t hindi tatanggalin ng Pangulo o ng mga pinuno ng lalawigan ang deklarasyon ng state of calamity sa lugar ay mananatili ang price freeze. Batay sa Section 6 ng RA 7581 o mas kilala sa tawag na Price Act, ipapatupad ang automatic price control oras na nasa ilalim ng state of calamity ang isang lugar upang maiwasan ang kaguluhan na dulot ng overpricing. Saklaw sa price freeze ang basic goods tulad ng gatas, de-lata, kape, bigas, tinapay, asukal, kape, asin, mantika, sabong panlaba, itlog , karneng baboy, manok at baka, processed milk, root crops at iba pa. Una nang nagbabala si Consumer Welfare and Trade Regulation Group head Victorio Dimagiba laban sa mga magsasamantalang negosyante at hindi susunod sa pinaiiral na price freeze ukol sa kakaharapin nitong kaparusahan tulad ng pagkakulong ng hanggang 10 taon at multang P1 milyon kapag sila’y mahuhuli. Dagdag pa ni Dimagiba, patuloy pa rin ngayon ang mahigpit na pagbabantay at pagiikot ng kanilang mga monitoring team partikular sa mga lugar na nasa ilalim ng state of calamity upang siguruhing pinatutupad ang price freeze.       

NUR’S MNLF ATTACKS ZAMBO Published : Tuesday, September 10, 2013 00:00 Written by : Alfred Dalizon

AT least six were killed and 24 wounded as fighting broke out between security troops and heavily-armed Moro National Liberation Front rebels who forced their way into Zamboanga City Sunday night, the spokesperson of the Philippine National Police said. Senior Superintendent Wilben Mayor said the dead included one policeman, a soldier and two civilians. Wounded were three policemen, seven soldiers and four civilians. Mayor, in a press briefing said the gunmen occupied portions of Barangays Sta. Catalina, Rio Hondo and Talon-Talon. He said that the incident started 10:30 p.m. Sunday when members of the Zamboanga City Police Office arrested two MNLF rebels armed with caliber .45 pistols and carrying backpacks containing MNLF uniforms and countersigns in a fishpond in Bgy. Rio Hondo. An hour later, members of the PNP Special Action Force were deployed in the same area to counter a hostile force of 30 armed men. At 9 a.m. yesterday, Mayor said SAF commandos engaged gunmen in Bgy. Sta. Barbara and arrested four of the suspects. At 10:30 a.m., the armed men fired four mortar rounds in Sta. Barbara.

“The fighting since then had left a policeman, a soldier and two civilians dead and 17 others wounded,” Mayor said without saying how the victims died. Mayor said 200 civilians were “stranded” in the affected areas since they could not leave at press time for fear they might be caught in a crossfire. He added that the armed men had seized more or less 20 hostages. He said that PNP chief Director General Alan LM Purisima has ordered Police Regional Office 9 director Chief Supt. Juanito Vano Jr. to act as ground commander of troops in the area and to activate the crisis management committee. "All other police units in the region have been placed on highest alert to ensure peace and security in the area,” he said. He also called on the citizenry to immediately report on the DILG-PNP hotlines 117 and 166 any suspicious armed activities in the affected areas. Information may also be relayed through twitter @ireport_krimen. Mayor said the PRO9 has a sufficient number of policemen to respond to the emergency. “As of now, the situation is still evolving,” he said. He said that he still has no information regarding an alleged intelligence report about the plan of the MNLF but he emphasized that the heavy presence of soldiers and policemen in the city is actually regular law enforcement. “Our presence there is part of our normal police functions before,” he said. Mayor said the gunmen “are yet to make any demands as of this moment.’ “We are doing everything to resolve the conflict as soon as possible,” he said. Mayor said they also still have no information on the whereabouts of MNLF founding chair Nur Misuari nor the motive of the armed men or if Misuari really had a direct hand in the incident. “We just want to ensure that the conflict will be resolved ASAP. We hope that the situation will be resolved today.” City paralyzed In a radio interview, Zamboanga City Mayor Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said they were forced to suspend work and classes in the city due to the tense situation in Bgy. Sta. Catalina where the MNLF reportedly seized some

hostages. “As of now 20 people are being held hostage. We believe the main target of the MNLF in encroaching Zamboanga City is to declare independence in City Hall,” she said in Filipino. Vano said they still have no reports on any fatality in the area. Troops have secured the city hall in the wake of the MNLF threat as the local government put up evacuation centers to house residents of Barangays Mariki, Sta. Barbara and Rio Hondo. Troops also put up checkpoints in strategic parts of the city to intercept armed men who will try to take advantage of the situation. Naval troops and barangay coastal authorities were also alerted against the possible entry of more MNLF gunmen. The mayor said they were not advised that the armed MNLF guerrillas were to escort their chairman Nur Misuari and asked that dialogues between the government and the MNLF be held outside the city. Fighting also broke out in Rio Hondo between MNLF gunmen and soldiers in the city leaving one soldier dead and six others wounded around 1:45 a.m. yesterday, said Armed Forces Public Information Office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala. One MNLF rebel was reportedly hurt in the skirmish. Vano said he has ordered his men to apprehend all unauthorized armed men in the city. Those who will be found carrying weapons without any permits and licenses will be immediately arrested and jailed, he said. In a separate radio interview, MNLF spokesperson Emmanuel Fontanilla said the rebels who arrived in Zamboanga City were supposed to “escort” Misuari during his visit. “Ang plano sana is for the chairman to peacefully go around Mindanao to consult the people tungkol sa declaration of independence without resulting in any violence,” Fontanilla said. “Ang pinaabot sa pamahalaan na ito ay mapayapang pamamaraan patungo sa deklarasyon ng independence at ito ay gagabayan ng United Nations,” he added. Misuari recently declared independence for Palawan, Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and even North Borneo or Sabah, which is controlled by Malaysia. He called it “peaceful revolution.”

The MNLF’s declaration of independence came after the group condemned the peace pact between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda deferred comment on whether or not the government will arrest Misuari and file charges against him following the skirmishes between his fighters and the government troops. With Zaida delos Reyes-Palanca, EMontano‐nurs‐mnlf‐attacks‐zambo                                     

Romualdez: Abad should resign! Published : Tuesday, September 10, 2013 00:00 Written by : Ryan Ponce Pacpaco

“BUDGET Sec. Florencio Abad Jr. should resign. Was it the President who ordered him to release the P500-million despite the appeal of DENR Sec. Ramon Paje? This insults the adherence to the so-called straight path mantra of public service of this government. “ This was stressed yesterday by Leyte (1st District) Rep. Ferdinand Martin “FM” G. Romualdez, head of the House independent bloc or the third force. Romualdez stressed that Abad Jr. was challenged yesterday to resign if he could not substantially explain whether or not President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III has a hand in the reported release of P500-million in pork barrel funds to dubious non-government organizations (NGOs) in 2011. The head of the independent bloc or the third force made the call after Environment Sec. Ramon Paje admitted that he already asked the DBM as early as 2010 to stop using DENR and its subsidiaries, like Philippine Forest Corp. (Philforest), as pork conduits. Romualdez explained Abad should have prevented the release of priority development assistance fund (PDAF) to Philforest upon the request of Paje following the red flags raised by the Commission on Audit (COA) questioning the legitimacy of bogus NGOs. Reacting to Romualdez’s call, Abad said the reports were baseless and unfounded, stressing that the 2011 budget was prepared by the previous Arroyo administration when it was submitted to Congress in July of 2010 or immediately upon the assumption to power of the Aquino administration.

“We prepared only the national budget for 2012, 2013 and 2014 where Philforest is no longer there. When we came in June 2010, the 2011 national budget was already prepared by the previous administration for submission in July of 2010. We only have little time to substantially change the budget,” Abad said. “The report was erroneous. If it has no factual basis, how can the call [for resignation] be even entertained by the President?” Abad stressed, adding that President Aquino will not tolerate any unlawful acts. But Romualdez said Abad should stop pointing finger, saying the controversy happened during the time of the Aquino administration. “He (Abad) should not point his finger again to the previous administration. The buck stops at him. He should be held accountable for that budget. That was a very lame excuse of him, especially that this government is championing good governance,” Romualdez stressed. Philforest were among several agencies recommended to use pork barrel funds for programs that would rehabilitate and protect forests and watershed areas, including upland planting project for jatropha. The Philforest continued to be an implementing agency despite a CoA audit in 2010 that roughly P428.5 million in PDAF releases for jatropha from Philforest to several NGOs were questionable.‐stories/57821‐romualdez‐abad‐should‐ resign 

2013 09 10 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor