15 boxes of pork evidence Gigi Reyes’ letter to DA one of 2k pages of fiscal deals submitted to NBI By Nancy C. Carvajal Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:18 am | Thursday, September 12th, 2013
SMOKING GUN? NBI agents secure 15 boxes of evidence in the plunder case that is expected to be filed against several top officials and civilians tied to the P10-billion pork barrel scam. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO The smoking gun comes from government agencies. On Wednesday afternoon, 15 boxes of evidence and more than 2,000 pages of financial transactions purportedly detailing the extent of a P10-billion racket involving state funds meant to ease rural poverty and ended in kickbacks over 10 years were submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation.
The evidence that could implicate the senators—principally endorsements of questionable nongovernment organizations (NGOs)—would come from official records, according to a source who is privy to the investigations. “The smoking gun that could pin down the senators comes from government agencies where these letters were sent,” said the source who talked to the Inquirer on condition of anonymity. The source showed the Inquirer a letter of Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, a lawyer who was chief of staff of then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, dated Feb. 4, 2008, addressed to then Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap informing him that Enrile had allotted P25 million of his PDAF to National AgriBusiness Corp. (Nabcor). “The PDAF is for the implementation of various agribusiness, livelihood projects in different municipalities as per attached special allotment release order,” Reyes said in her letter. “We wish to implement these projects through Nabcor as attached agency of DA (Department of Agriculture),” she said. In the same letter, Reyes said that her deputy chief of staff, Jose Antonio Evangelista, was assigned the authority “to sign and follow up the project to ensure proper and timely implementation.” Another document showed Evangelista’s letter to then Nabcor president Allan Javellana informing him that Enrile’s office was designating the People’s Organization Progress and Development Foundation (POPDF) as the implementing NGO for the project that would be financed with the Senate President’s pork barrel allocation. The letter said the POFDF, an agency controlled by Napoles, was “a duly registered nongovernment organization” and should be “your conduit in the implementation of the said project.” Evangelista added: “May we humbly request your good office to assist and facilitate the processing of the documents for the smooth implementation of the said projects at the soonest possible time?” A stamp on the document showed that Nabcor received Evangelista’s letter on Feb. 11, 2008, and was paid on March 11, 2008. A handwritten check number appears on the lower part of the letter. The evidence came from 10 whistle-blowers—all former employees of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged brains behind the channeling of the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the government’s share in the Malampaya oil fields to ghost projects, according to their lawyer, Levito Baligod.
The papers will be used in the filing of plunder charges against Napoles and 13 other people, including three senators and “conduits,” in the Ombudsman later in the week. Another 40 people are likely to face malversation charges. Another document dated March 23, 2012, showed that Enrile had confirmed in his letter to Carmela Perez, associate commissioner-special services sector of the Commission on Audit (COA), that he had authorized Reyes and Evangelista to sign documents in his behalf. “We acknowledge receipt of your letter regarding the government-wide performance audit on PDAF projects,” Enrile said in his letter. He said that his PDAF projects, which he had endorsed, were assigned to National Livelihood Development Corp., Department of Social Welfare and Development-National Capital Region, Nabcor and the Technology Resource Center. “The set of letters was similar to those other senators and congressmen had written,” the source said. He said those letters were also sent to implementing agencies such as the DA, Department of Agrarian Reform and COA. Under heavy guard, the 15 boxes of documents were unloaded and brought to the NBI special task force office. Baligod confirmed to the Inquirer that all accused senators “received their kickbacks through personal delivery of cash.” “No senator received a check or through a fund transfer,” he said. Baligod said the evidence submitted by the whistle-blowers would ensure airtight cases against Napoles and her alleged cohorts. “It took us some time to finish everything because we want to make sure that our evidence will stand judicial scrutiny,” Baligod said. ‘We have a solid case’ “We are not here just to ruin the reputation of anybody because for all of us, our reputation is the most precious thing that we have, more precious than the wealth that this world can offer. That’s why we are very careful once we accuse somebody that we have a solid case to stand on,” the lawyer added. Baligod said the affidavit of six whistle-blowers covers only the PDAF and served as the first batch of affidavits. “This case is only for the PDAF. Next will be on the Malampaya funds,”Baligod said.
He explained that the evidence submitted included a matrix of the financial transactions between Napoles’ foundations and the lawmakers from 2004 to 2010 based on the records of the principal whistle-blower, Benhur Luy. Baligod said that the joint affidavits of the six whistle-blowers were supported by documents relating to fund transfers and letters to banks authorizing the debit of money from the accounts of foundations to the accounts of the legislators in some cases. He said several congressmen named in the affidavits received kickbacks through checks and bank transactions. In his letter to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, transmitting the documentary evidence and the sworn affidavits of the whistle-blowers, Baligod expressed his appreciation and gratitude to her and President Aquino for their support “throughout the evidence-gathering phase of this investigation.” http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/485791/15‐boxes‐of‐pork‐evidence#ixzz2ee2IpZnQ
Prices of rice declining — NFA By Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 12, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Prices of commercial rice have started to decline as the government intensified procurement of the food staple and boosted its presence in the market, the National Food Authority (NFA) said yesterday. Based on the NFA’s monitoring conducted in Bulacan, prices of commercial premium quality rice went down to P1,880 per bag from P1,920 per bag. The price of medium quality rice has fallen to P1,780 per bag from P1,820 per bag, and imported premium quality rice is now at P1,750 per bag from P1,800 per bag, the NFA pointed out. NFA administrator Orlan Calayag said they would continue to monitor markets, particularly those with price increases in the past weeks. “The NFA will ensure that no NFA rice will be overpriced or diverted and sold as commercial rice,” Calayag said. The NFA sells regular-milled rice at P27 per kilogram and well-milled rice at P32 per kg. Market supervisors have also been dispatched in addition to monitoring teams that are already in place, Calayag said. Last week, rice prices rose by P2 per kilo in public markets in Bulacan and by P3 to P4 per kilo in Pampanga. The higher prices were seen amid reports of rice shortage in these areas. Calayag warned that the government will file charges of economic sabotage against those found manipulating the current market situation. He also assured the public of sufficient rice supply. Calayag said the national rice inventory is recorded at 1.7 million metric tons or 34,282,000 bags, enough to last for 51 days.To augment government rice stocks, the NFA is starting to intensify its palay procurement in various parts of the country. This occurred as many farmers have started to harvest their main crop.– With Edu Punay http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/09/12/1199911/prices-rice-declining-nfa
Testing of GMO rice back on track nationwide, say scientists 9:46 pm | Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
FARMERS and activists in Bicol trample upon plots of land last month in Pili, Camarines Sur, that was planted with a grains variety called “golden rice,” which has been genetically engineered. PHOTO COURTESY OF SIKWAL-GMO SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ—The government’s golden rice research project has not been delayed, despite last month’s destruction of a test area in Pili town in Camarines Sur province by activists, a Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) official said. The Department of Agriculture field testing area in Pili, which was attacked by 300 farmer activists opposing the propagation of genetically modified organisms (GMO), was only one of five sites for the trial, said Dr. Antonio Alfonso, a PhilRice scientist and the project’s designated leader. “We are still on track toward the completion of our golden rice project. We are now determining if the data lost in that destroyed trial in Pili will not affect the over-all results,” Alfonso said. “Then we will submit all the gathered data to the Bureau of Plant Industry for evaluation,” he added.
According to Alfonso, testing continues at the PhilRice compounds in San Mateo town in Isabela province; in Batac City in Ilocos Norte province; in this city in Nueva Ecija province; and in Tigaon town in Camarines Sur. The field trials in these sites have either been completed or would be wrapped up as the plant’s fruits have matured. Last tests Alfonso said the current trials are the last of three season-long tests for the new grain that has increased beta carotene content, which the body consumes and converts into Vitamin A that helps improve eyesight. A season spans three months, covering the typical planting process that begins with the growing of seeds, which are transplanted into the fields and are harvested when the palay matures. Alfonso said the field-testing of golden rice is one of various processes undertaken in the research and development stage of the project before the grain is allowed to be sold in the market. He said the project also requires data concerning biosafety. “Pseudo-farmers” Dr. Eufemio Rasco, PhilRice executive director, said “pseudo-farmers” took part in the “deliberate uprooting and trampling of the rice plants in the experimental plots in Pili.” “Real farmers care for their crops and will not do that,” he said. But farmers and environment groups have vowed to stop the release of the golden rice to local farms and markets due to health and environmental concerns. Rasco said PhilRice will continue evaluating the potentials of the golden rice in addressing the problem of Vitamin A deficiency, along with the International Rice Research Institute (Irri) and other leading nutrition and agricultural research organizations. He said the trials comply with government regulations. Started in 2004, the golden rice research project was financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Irri and the Helen Keller International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing blindness and reducing malnutrition worldwide, are the institute’s partners in the project. “We are hoping that we can complete the final field-testing this year despite the small setback,” Alfonso said, referring to the Pili incident. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/485723/testing‐of‐gmo‐rice‐back‐on‐track‐nationwide‐say‐ scientists#ixzz2eduHUZpa
‘NFA rice-price reduction to affect farmers’ Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 19:03 Slashing the price of rice sold by the National Food Authority (NFA) by P2 per kilogram will adversely impact on palay farmers who may be discouraged to plant because farmgate prices would go down. NFA Administrator Orlan A. Calayag said in a television interview that the government will have to carefully study calls to revert the price of NFA rice back to P25 per kilo because of its impact on farmers. “Reducing the price of NFA rice to P25 per kilo may not be feasible as it would affect farmers,” Calayag said. The NFA official made the statement following calls made by various non-governmental organizations and militant groups to bring down the price of government-subsidized rice to P25 per kilo. The price of government-subsidized rice was effectively raised to P27 per kilo in December 2010, after the NFA council approved the increase in the wholesale price of NFA rice to P25 per kilo from the previous P23 per kilo. Then-NFA Administrator Angelito Banayo said the price increase was undertaken as one of the measures “to ensure the viability of the agency and continue fulfilling its mandate of supporting farmers to produce enough for self-sufficiency.” The food agency attached to the Department of Agriculture buys palay from farmers at a support price of P17 per kilo to stabilize prices. Meanwhile, the NFA confirmed in a statement that the prices of commercial rice have started to decrease. At the Intercity in Bulacan, prices of commercial premium-quality rice were monitored to have gone down to P1,880 per 50-kilo bag from P1,920; medium-quality rice to P1,780 per sack from P1,820; and imported premium rice to P1,750 per bag from P1,800. Calayag said the food agency will continue to monitor markets, especially those with price increases, in the past weeks. He said the NFA will ensure that no NFA rice will be overpriced or diverted and sold as commercial rice. Market supervisors were dispatched in addition to monitoring teams that are already in place.
The food agency said it will continue to maintain its monitoring teams in these markets to ensure the presence of affordable and good-quality NFA rice. The NFA sells regular-milled rice at P27 per kilo and well-milled rice at P32 per kilo. Calayag warned that the government will not hesitate to file charges of economic sabotage against those who will be found manipulating the current rice market situation. He said there is no shortage of the staple as national rice inventory is recorded at 1.7 million metric tons, or 34.28 million bags, enough to last for 51 days. The NFA also reported that it is starting to intensify palay procurement in various areas in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao that have started to harvest their main crop. This, Calayag said, will augment the current government rice stocks. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri‐commodities/19243‐nfa‐rice‐price‐ reduction‐to‐affect‐farmers
Sarangani farmers given land Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 18:59 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has installed 142 agrarian-reform beneficiaries (ARBs) at a 95-hectare banana plantation in Maribulan, Alabel in Sarangani province. The plantation is previously owned by the Sarangani Agricultural Co. Inc. (Saci), which was placed under coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). As its new owners, and with their installation, the farmers can now start to cultivate the land as its owners. As ARBs, the farmers will be provided basic rural infrastructures to enhance farm productivity, and get livelihood skills/training programs to help them put up their own business enterprises, Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer Salvador D. Solaña Jr. said. “To guarantee the farm’s sustainability is our goal, and the DAR, in collaboration with other Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms [CARPer] implementing agencies, will see to it that your basic needs are taken care of,” Solaña said. He also reminded ARBs of their obligations to the government—payment of their yearly land amortization through the Land Bank of the Philippines. Saci representative Engr. Jonathan Germino expressed the company’s continued support to CARP even as he urged the new landowners to take care of the banana plantation and make it more productive. The company was established in 1962 and pioneered the large-scale propagation of America Purebred Brahmans, a superior breed of cattle acclimatized to extreme tropical conditions and highly resistant to disease. Combined with several affiliates, Saci manages approximately 10,000 hectares devoted to cattle ranching. Saci devotes over 300 hectares to the raising of sweet pomelos for the local market and Cavendish bananas for export. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri‐commodities/19242‐sarangani‐farmers‐ given‐land
Tuna canners eye 64% hike in EU exports next year Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 18:57 Written by PNA GENERAL SANTOS CITY—The country’s canned-tuna exports to the European Union (EU) are seen to increase by about 64 percent by next year once it gains duty-free access to the 28nation trade bloc under the enhanced Generalized Scheme of Preferences, or GSP Plus, program. Francisco Buencamino, executive director of the Tuna Canners Association of the Philippines (TCAP), said the projected increase in canned tuna’s export volume to the EU is equivalent to around 2 million cases based on last year’s total shipments of 3.202 million cases. In 2012, he said, the country generated around $123.3 million in total receipts from the cannedtuna exports to the EU markets despite being slapped with a 24-percent tariff. The EU is presently the country’s biggest export market for canned tuna, which is mainly produced by six canneries based in this city. “Once we get into the GSP Plus program, our export prices [for canned tuna] will become more competitive, mainly because of the removal of the 24-percent duty. So it is imperative that we get into the GSP Plus by all means,” he said at the 15th National Tuna Congress here. The national government, through the Department of Trade and Industry, is presently finalizing its application to the EU’s GSP Plus program, an incentive scheme that grants the full removal of tariffs for a range of export products, including tuna. A program briefer said EU-GSP Plus is an enhanced preferences scheme that took off from the standard GSP, which offers to developing countries a partial or entire removal of tariffs on twothirds of qualified product categories that are exported to the EU. Under the EU-GSP Plus program, product categories covered by the standard GSP are granted the “full removal of tariffs.” These are granted to countries which ratify and implement international conventions relating to human and labor rights, environment and good governance. Under the standard GSP, Buencamino said a duty of 20.5 percent is levied on all local cannedtuna exports to the EU. “EU importers, therefore, discount their buying prices from the Philippines by this cost of duty to make our canned tuna competitive in the EU market with all other imports from other tuna sources,” he said.
Citing TCAP’s estimates, he said the country’s canned tuna export receipts would improve “at the very least” by 24 percent once it is included in the GSP Plus scheme. By then, he said exporters “will not need to adjust prices, as we have been compelled to do to remain globally competitive, to accommodate the burdensome duty imposed on EU imports of canned tuna from the Philippines.” With the improved competitive stance under the GSP Plus program, Buencamino said they expect tuna, factory employment to increase by an industry average of 70 percent while manning in fishing fleets will likely increase by around 50 percent. He added that such scenario was seen to trigger a projected increase in the volume of rawmaterial catch by an average of 64 percent. PNA http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri‐commodities/19241‐tuna‐canners‐eye‐64‐ hike‐in‐eu‐exports‐next‐year
Alleged rice shortage, hoarding denied by Mars W. Mosqueda Jr. September 11, 2013
CEBU CITY – An official of the Grains Confederation of the Philippines (Grecon) yesterday denied reports of rice shortage in the country as well as the alleged hoarding by some businessmen resulting to an increase in the retail price of rice in the local market. Former Grecon president and now vice president Teresa Alegado said the high retail price of rice in the market is triggered by the increase in the price of rice sold by local farmers to retailers. She said most of that sold in the country’s markets is local rice. The government, she said, has controlled the importation of the rice from Vietnam and other countries, resulting to the sudden spike in the price per kilo of local rice because, she added, local rice is more expensive than imported rice. “There is no rice crisis in the country. Our production volume is on target and the National Food Authority (NFA) said we have a buffer stock that can last 51 days,” Alegado, who is also mayor of Consolacion town in Cebu, said. She said there is enough supply of commercial rice in the country but the retail price of rice is expected to go up because farmers are asking for more in order to pay for their farm inputs including fertilizers, irrigation materials, and post harvest facilities. “We cannot lower the price of commercial rice because the farmers will suffer as farm inputs cost are not cheap,” she said. Alegado also said government has enough NFA rice, which is cheaper than commercial rice, but the NFA also controls the release of its supply to deter businessmen from commercializing government rice. She said price of commercial rice will only go down if government subsidizes local farmers by providing farm inputs and post harvest facilities and then buy local rice at a price that could also benefit the farmers. http://www.mb.com.ph/alleged-rice-shortage-hoarding-denied/
Mining’s tax regime ‘uncompetitive’ Category: Top News Published on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 21:26 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga The government needs to develop a single fiscal regime that is internationally competitive to attract mining investments, a ranking official of the Sagittarius Mines Inc. said. Justine Hillier, executive vice president of Sagittarius Mines Inc., said that while the Philippines might be attractive to mining investors because of its rich mineral deposits, its current mining fiscal regime is not globally competitive. Speaking on the topic “Philippine Mining Fiscal Regime: Is it Globally Competitive?” at the ongoing Mining Philippines 2013: Conference and Exhibition at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City on Wednesday, Hillier underscored the need to make the country’s mining fiscal regime competitive to encourage investments in the mineral resource industry and enable the country to realize its potential. In developing a single fiscal regime for mining, Hillier said the government should make sure there is an equitable sharing of proceeds between the state and private investors. It should also deliver a higher and steady revenue stream for the government, progressive and streamlined to enable efficient and transparent revenue collection. The Philippines currently imposes two different sets of taxes for mining companies, depending on their contract with the government. The contracts are either for minerals processing sharing agreement (MPSA) or financial or technical assistance agreement (FTAA). Taxes for both the FTAA and MPSA are high, as cited by the International Monetary Fund report, which puts the government’s take in the total cost of the mining project at above 50 percent. Hillier compared the country’s mining fiscal regime with that of Chile, Peru, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) using the Average Effective Tax Rate and Internal Rate of Return. He said that despite the tax holidays, mining companies in the Philippines pay taxes more than those in most of the countries in comparison. This tends to discourage investors, he said, and is the reason other countries have attracted more mining investments. In his presentation, income taxes in Indonesia, Chile, South Africa and Canada are lower. The Philippines charges mining companies 30 percent of their income. Aside from income tax, the Philippines charges mining companies 2-percent excise tax and 5percent royalty tax for mining operations within mineral reservations, royalty to indigenous
peoples at 1 percent, local business tax at 1 percent, dividend withholding tax to foreign shareholders at 15 percent and dividends to local shareholders at 10 percent. Hillier also cited rankings in the Risk and The Fraser Institute Survey of Mining Companies 2012/2013, Policy Potential Index wherein the Philippines ranks 88 out of 96 jurisdictions, indicating a high level of policy risk, higher than PNG (77) but lower than Indonesia (96). Chile is 23rd. Policy Potential Index measures the effects of exploration on government policies, including uncertainty in interpretation and enforcement of existing regulations, regulatory duplication and inconsistencies, taxation, native land claims and protected areas, infrastructure, socioeconomic agreements and political stability. The same study, under the Mineral Potential Assuming Best Practices Policy, revealed that the Philippines ranks 12 out of 96 jurisdictions, indicating very high mineral potential—higher than Peru (35) but lower than Chile (8) and Indonesia (3). The Mineral Potential Assuming “Best Practices” Policy Regime is an indication of the pure mineral potential of a jurisdiction under a policy regime that represents “best practice” and stable. Horacio Ramos, a discussant for the topic that touches on the competitiveness of the country’s fiscal regime, shared the mining industry’s concern and view on the issue of formulating a new mining-revenue-sharing scheme. Ramos, a mining economist who served as chief of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) before assuming the top DENR post, said there are a number of fiscal regimes that can serve as models for the Philippines. Born out of perception, he said, the government is pushing for a new mining-tax measure. The perception, he said, is that mining companies are earning so much, especially with higher prices and that the government and the people are not getting a fair share. In coming up with a fiscal regime for mining, he said: “The government must move fast. Since the issuance of Executive Order 79, Philippine Mining Industry has been in virtual standstill. Unless the situation is stabilized, there will be uncertainties.” He cautioned the government that unless it acts with dispatch to address the issues raised by the industry, there will soon be no industry to speak of. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/top‐news/19277‐mining‐s‐tax‐regime‐ uncompetitive
It’s all weeds, not vegetables Category: Opinion Published on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 19:46 Written by John Mangun
GARDENING is good for the soul. You push a few tiny seeds into the ground, give them some time and wait for them to yield vegetables. The talong or eggplant is definitely the crop of choice for new “farmers.” Just make sure that you have many neighbors who like eggplants, because planting the crop would make you understand about productivity and return on investment. Never, ever plant upo or bottle gourd unless you are preparing for the zombie apocalypse. The vegetable will overrun your garden without any regard to human safety. If given the chance, the upo will seek you out in the middle of the night and you will wake up in your bed covered with the vegetable. One year, little shoots appeared after a week or so of planting seeds. Every day our youngest boy would go out into the garden and make a full report on the progress of our vegetables. He and I were convinced that this growing season would offer a bounty of eggplants, tomatoes, peppers and Baguio beans. We noticed, however, that the young plants seemed to be growing faster than normal. A good sign, right? But they looked a little different from what the Internet said young tomato plants should look like. Maybe it was because they were native tomatoes. The strangest thing, though, was that all the little plants looked the same, not different, depending on the kind of seeds. As it turned out, we grew a fantastic garden of useless, non-productive weeds, just like what the US economy is doing now. The US economy has been failing for so long and is such an old story that it is almost burdensome to talk about it. However, the reason that we can never leave it out of our discussions is that to ignore it is to fall victim to the failure. You cannot have a healthy economy if the population is growing so much faster than job creation. There is no reason to be optimistic for the future if young people cannot find entry-level jobs. The jobs that are created must be good jobs that give employees an opportunity to have a
career, not just a paycheck. An economy is doomed if income, and particularly personal wealth, continues to decrease over an extended period of time. And all of those conditions exist in the US. It has been literally years since the US was able to increase the net number of jobs available to keep up with the number of people entering the work force. That means America now has a huge surplus of unproductive workers. The unemployment rate among young people is a disaster. Officially, there are 10 million young Americans who are trying to find work, but cannot. This data do not include those who would like to have a job, but have given up trying. A college degree means little in this vast pool of the unemployed. Two-thirds of all new jobs in 2013 are either part-time or found in the lowest level of the service sector: bartenders and front-desk receptionists. These jobs are not career-builders under the current economic situation. US household net worth fell from 2007 to 2009 by $17.5 trillion, or 25 percent, which is equivalent to one year’s total gross domestic product. Household net wealth must increase by over 15 percent just to get back to where it was before 2007. This will not happen anytime soon, with the economy growing below 2 percent per year. The only thing that has been growing is the US stock market. But last week’s New York Stock Exchange volume reached a new 15-year low. Now, that is truly an Old Boy’s Club without ordinary investor participation. The global financial media and institutions are beginning to realize that the Philippines is insulated from the worst effects of the economic failure in the West because our economy is neither export-dependent nor dependent on the well-being of Western economies. Nevertheless, we, as a nation and as individuals, must be very careful to make sure our “crops” are useful and beneficial vegetables, not weeds. Spend for increased production, which means you are not just watering the weeds. Plants seeds for future harvests; invest in vehicles that will give returns in the future. Store a small portion of your harvest outside of your farm; diversify your hard-asset purchases. The economic drought afflicting the rest of the world is far from over. We need to tend to our own farms properly. **** E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My web site is www.mangunonmarkets.com. Follow me on Twitter @mangunonmarkets. PSE stock-market information and technical analysis tools provided by COL Financial Group Inc. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/opinion/19257‐it‐s‐all‐weeds‐not‐vegetables
NFA told denials not easing rice price woes By Delfin T. Mallari Jr. Inquirer Southern Luzon 9:50 pm | Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
LUCENA CITY—Simple denials and a “smear campaign” won’t pacify the public’s rage over the continuing increase in prices of rice, shortage in supply and allegations that rice imported by the National Food Authority (NFA) are overpriced, a ranking leader of a militant group said on Wednesday. “Let us disabuse ourselves from this blanket and default defense that all criticisms directed at government officials are politically motivated smear campaigns. This is plain squid tactic,” Argee Guevarra, a leader of the group Sanlakas, said in a statement. NFA administrator Orlan Calayag had strongly denied that the Vietnam rice that NFA imported was overpriced. Last week, NFA Deputy Administrator Ludovico Jarina also dismissed Guevarra’s allegation of P457-million overpricing in its April 2013 rice importation as a “smear campaign hatched by groups opposed to reforms being implemented within the NFA.” Guevarra is set to face off with Department of Agriculture and NFA officials in a House investigation today. Guevarra had questioned NFA’s defense that 18,700 metric tons (MT) of the total 205,700 MT importation was “authorized” under the so-called Molso (more or less at supplier’s option) provision of the NFA’s government-to-government contract with Vietnam. “If this is the case, Molso should just be introduced into the market as Molso Rice: More-OrLess Still Overpriced,” Guevarra said. He said he has documents to prove his allegation that the imported Vietnam rice was overpriced and irregular. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/485727/nfa‐told‐denials‐not‐easing‐rice‐price‐woes#ixzz2edtPWpk4
Carabao center livestock mismanaged – COA September 11, 2013 8:30 pm by JOHN CONSTANTINE G. CORDON THE Commission on Audit (COA) noted mismanagement of carabaos (water buffaloes) at the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), prompting state auditors to ask the government-owned and controlled corporation to take care of the company’s P440-million live assets. According to government auditors, of the 2,326 carabaos worth P440.2 million, a tenth of the animals have been found not having ear tags, which suggests that the PCC does not declare ownership over those animals. The 213 female Brazilian buffaloes, each worth P191,527.81, were found to not have plastic ear tag and notches, which are used for a unified identification system, pedigree tracing in case of disease outbreak and research and breeding purposes. Different cooperatives owned these carabaos, which amounted to P40.7 million. Farmer-beneficiaries said that the absence of ear tags was allegedly because of the tags’ loss, non-availability of ear tags and the buffaloes being wild, which hinder the application of ear tag. COA said the number of buffaloes without tags increased by 65 percent from 129 in 2011 to 213 in 2012. Out of the 213 animals, 25 were already documented for not having any ear tags in its previous audit observation, COA added. “We could deduce that last year’s recommendation to see to it that all dairy buffaloes are applied with ear tags is not fully implemented,” the Commission said. Besides lack of identification system, the audit team also noted that 44 carabaos were transferred from the original farmer-beneficiaries to other members of their cooperative. COA asked the new recipients concerning some details on the livestock they received, which could only be verified from the contract. The new owners said that they did not receive these contracts in spite of signing them for transfer of ownership for the 44 carabaos, amounting to P8.4 million. Remarks showed that the new owners had no replacement of contract yet, a pair of owners had their contracts mixed up, others transferred the animals to others without informing the PCC, and some papers were being still processed at the National Impact Zone.
Other original farmer-beneficiaries already died and simply passed onto their wives the ownership of the animals. “Hence, new recipients cannot be held liable in case of non-compliance to the contractual provisions,” COA said. Also, auditors said that 45 buffaloes were not located in the areas stated in the contracts due to transfer to other locations. Stipulated in the contract of the program, the animals shall be kept “in its agreed location and do not transfer, sell or disperse off without written permission and approval from PCC.” Physical count of breeding stocks disclosed that 45 buffaloes worth P8.6 million dispersed to farmer-recipients are not found in the agreed location stated in the contract. Inquiries made to the farmer-recipients disclosed that the carabaos were transferred to areas where the animals can graze and forage. COA accepted the reason of the farmer-recipients, however, “transferring of animals to other locations causes delay in the conduct of inventory,” resulting in lagging of days needed for the inventory report and unaccounted animals. As an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture, the PCC was established to conserve, propagate and promote the carabao as a source of draft animal power, meat, milk, and hide for the benefit of rural farmers. It has a network of 13 centers within the Philippines to ensure higher income and better nutrition of rural farming communities. http://www.manilatimes.net/carabao‐center‐livestock‐mismanaged‐coa/38923/
Cagayan Valley rice production bolstered September 11, 2013 8:31 pm by LEANDER C. DOMINGO BAMBANG, Nueva Vizcaya: The implementation of a farming scheme is seen to have boosted rice production in Nueva Vizcaya, according to the National Irrigation Administration (NIA). NIA officials have expressed optimism on the projected rice production increase in the province because of the implementation of the Five in Two Years scheme. Provincial Manager Benjamin Moses Ebreo of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) said the farming scheme, which was introduced in November 2011 in the Cagayan Valley region is in support to the Rice Self Sufficiency Program of President Benigno Aquino 3rd. The provincial irrigation office explained that with this farming scheme, an increment area of 47,215 hectares will be realized by the end of December 2013 in Cagayan Valley which account for 188,860 metric tons of palay, computed to only 4 metric tons yield per hectare. Engr. Francisco Domingsil, provincial irrigation officer, said that in Nueva Vizcaya alone, 691 hectares were already realized in 2012 while another 1,317 hectares will be reached by the end of this year which also account for 8,032 metric tons at 4 metric tons yield per hectare. ”This will be our contribution for the regional increment. I am very confident that with our concerted efforts, the success of this endeavor will be realized and our goals will be accomplished,” he said. http://www.manilatimes.net/cagayan‐valley‐rice‐production‐bolstered/38931/
Betel nut vs fungal, pest infection found by Ellalyn De Vera September 11, 2013
As part of its efforts to develop organic solutions for the country’s farming sector, the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) found a potential in betel nut in significantly containing pests and fungal infection. PhilMech Executive Director Rex Bingabing said the agency tested at least eight botanical plants in the Philippines and based on initial research, only betel nut showed a promising potential in organic solutions. “This can be considered a big step in PhilMech’s research and development efforts to come up with organic solutions for use by Filipino farmers. Betel is widely grown in the Philippines and for sure, there are thousands of such trees in the country today,” he added. Besides Betel, PhilMech scientists and researchers tested Fish Poison Tree (bituon), Stink Grass (kantutay), Anobrang, Devil Weed (hagonoy), Bayating, jatropha (tubang bakod or tuba-tuba), and acacia. 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. Bingabing said PhilMech 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.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. http://www.mb.com.ph/betel-nut-vs-fungal-pest-infection-found/
Mindoro crisis over rice looms By Robert A. Evora | Posted 11 hours ago | 328 views
Calapan City — Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso Umali Jr. said rice stakeholders should act to prevent a crisis that can cripple the region’s top producer. “This rice shortage is purely artificial,” he said in an emergency meeting with officials of the Department of Agriculture, the National Food Authority, and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan “If this so-called rice shortage or hoarding continues, supply to provinces and cities who are depending on us might be affected.” Records show that Oriental Mindoro’s annual stock of eight million bags is allocated at two million bags for local consumption with the bulk going to other provinces. Oriental and Occidental Mindoro farms are the main source of rice for Marinduque, Romblon, Batangas, Quezon, Cavite, and Laguna, all in the Calabarzon rgion, and parts of Metro Manila. At outlets, well-milled rice at P36 a kilo has risen to P42 while dinorado, a fancy rice, has gone P46 a kilo. NFA provincial head Edmundo Enrique reported that “80% of commercial and fancy rice produced by local farmers are being exported or shipped outside the province” while the NFA rice remains in the local markets and sold to consumers for P27 to P29 a kilo. “There is no shortage of rice as 180,000 bags of NFA rice are available and being used as a buffer stock sufficient to feed the whole population of Mindoreños for the next 26 days,” he said. But Calapan’s situation on Wednesday showed six rice stalls have closed shop leaving other stalls to sell only commercial varieties, according to a consumer. “The P27 to P29 per kilo NFA rice is not available in the market,” Josefina Lagos, 56, told the Manila Standard. Senator Loren Legarda, chairman of the senate committee on environment and natural resourses, on Tuesday took to task two agencies—the Department of Agriculture and National Food Authority—for their inability to keep rice prices stable despite their assurances that notwithstanding the onset of the rainy season, the country has sufficient rice supply. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/09/12/mindoro-crisis-over-rice-looms/
For our kids, Don’t stop planting trees by Freddie C. Velez September 11, 2013
MALOLOS CITY — “No matter what happens to our skin, we won’t stop planting trees.” Concerned parents and employees of the Bulacan Environment and Natural Resources Office (BENRO), sun burnt and tired and who arrived Tuesday afternoon from a tree-planting activity, reported that they have already planted almost 13,000 seedlings in the province. This was “to let our kids know the importance of trees and grow them up with tall trees and beautiful flowers and different kinds of fruit-bearing trees everywhere,” they said. Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said the continuous tree-planting activities in many parts of the province will increase Bulakenyos awareness, particularly the youth, how important a tree is in our lives. Alvarado, in his message at the environmental meeting, stressed the role of trees in providing “refreshing shade, because the trees serves as the lungs of the environment and they cover the top surface of mother earth preventing excessive heating up by solar rays.” http://www.mb.com.ph/for‐our‐kids‐dont‐stop‐planting‐trees/
Landbank loans to priority sectors rise 16% in H1 By Donnabelle L. Gatdula (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 12, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Land Bank of the Philippines has hiked its loans to priority sectors by 16 percent in the first half this year to P206.2 billion, from P177.2 billion in the same period in 2012. The priority sectors include small farmers and fisherfolks and their associations, agri- and aquabusinesses, agri-aqua related projects of LGUs and government-owned and controlled corporations, small and medium enterprises, communication, transportation, housing, education, healthcare, environment-related projects, and tourism. Landbank president and CEO Gilda Pico said these sectors cornered about 75.3 percent of the bank’s total loan portfolio of P273.7 billion. She said the bank has been committed to aggressively expand its financial and technical support to better serve priority sectors. This is in line with our countryside development mandate and in support of the government’s thrust towards inclusive growth,” she said. Outstanding loans to small farmers and fisherfolks reached P23.8 billion as of end-June 2013. From January to June this year, loan releases reached P18.3 billion, benefiting more than 400,000 small farmers and fisherfolks nationwide. Loans to micro enterprises and SMEs grew a hefty 30 percent, from P26.7 billion in June 2012 to P34.7 billion, while loans to socialized, low-cost and medium-cost housing reached P23.5 billion.Landbank likewise remains aggressive in extending support to agri-aqua related projects of LGUs and GOCCs, with loans reaching P46.3 billion as of June this year. Pico said Landbank continues to play a major role in some of the National Government’s priority and development programs.In support of the Food Supply Chain Program, Landbank released a total P4 billion in loans to 88 anchor firms and 184 cooperatives, NGOs and SME producers in the first semester of 2013. She said this brings to P22.3 billion the bank’s total loan releases under the program, which is aimed at promoting food security and increasing agricultural productivity and income of farmers by providing financial and technical support along the value-added chain of a commodity or industry. Under the Department of Agriculture’s Sikat Saka Program, the bank released P85.1 million in loans, benefiting more than 1,600 palay farmers in major rice-producing provinces of the country. The Sikat Saka Program makes available direct access to credit for palay production of small farmers who are not yet members of Landbank-assisted cooperatives. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/09/12/1198981/landbank‐loans‐priority‐sectors‐rise‐16‐h1
Mining firms bat for single tax regime to boost competitiveness By Neil Jerome C. Morales (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 12, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The local mining sector is in dire need of reforms, particularly on taxation rules, to make it more attractive to foreign investors, industry officials said yesterday. The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) has outlined its recommendations, highlighting the need for a single tax regime, to make the country’s mining sector more globally competitive. “The regime here is very complex in terms of the number of different taxes and royalties that the miner and government need to administer,” Justin Hiller, executive vice-president of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), said during the Mining Philippines 2013 Conference. But a single tax regime will “encourage investments in the Philippine mineral resource industry and enabling the country to realize its resource potential,” he said. SMI is the company behind the $5.9-billion Tampakan copper and gold mine in South Cotabato. In its recommendation, COMP said the single tax regime should be able to achieve an equitable share of proceeds between the government and investors. Hiller said the rules should also be streamlined “enabling the government to collect revenues in an efficient and transparent manner.” There are currently seven taxes which include excise tax, royalties, real property taxes and corporate income tax, imposed on miners operating locally, way above the three types of taxes in other jurisdictions. The Mining Industry Coordinating Council is studying a simplified taxation rule. For one, there is a proposal that the government should obtain a 10-percent share from gross production value. Hiller said the government and the industry group are sharing knowledge on how to solve the taxation issues. In a study by Canadian think tank Fraser Institute, the Philippines ranked 12th out of 96 jurisdictions in terms of mineral potential. However, the local mining sector faces an uphill climb due to numerous risks that makes it uncompetitive, Hiller said. He said the Philippines placed 88th in terms of the level of policy risk and 80th in terms of policy environment. Hence, fund flows into the Philippines continue to lag behind other mineralized countries like South Africa, United States, Peru, Russia, Brazil, Chile, Canada and Australia.
“We can see that the Philippines is not attracting as it should based on its mineral potential,” Hiller said. COMP earlier warned that the government’s target of hitting $16 billion of investments in the minerals industry from 2004 to 2016 will not be met because of various issues like regulatory risks and host communities’ opposition on mining. Last year, investments in priority mining ventures sank to $719.7 million from $1.15 billion in 2011. Aside from finalizing changes, the reforms should be in place as soon as possible to allow miners to take advantage of existing opportunities. “The government must move fast. Since the issuance of Executive Order (EO) 79 in 2012, the Philippine mining industry has been in a virtual standstill,” said former mines bureau chief Horacio Ramos. “I hope we don’t see the time when we have the best mining reforms and policies yet no industry to speak of,” Ramos said. EO 79 called for the creation of a new revenue sharing agreement between miners and the government. Ramos said there should be no increase in taxes but incentives like tax perks in the first few years of operations can be removed. Aside from the fiscal regime, the mining industry is also challenged by the trend of low grade of ores, depressed prices and lack of qualified personnel, said Allan Trench, managing consultant of consulting firm CRU Group. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/09/12/1198971/mining-firms-bat-single-tax-regimeboost-competitiveness
If you must go commercial by Zac Sarian September 11, 2013
BEST ORNAMENTAL IN SHOW — Noel Vincent “Botchie” Canicula poses with his Alplenium mussifolium, a so-called female “Pakpak lawin” fern with fishtail tips, that was adjudged the “Best Ornamental In Show” in the recently concluded Orchid and Garden Show of the Philippine Orchid Society held at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City and LATEXLESS JACKFRUIT — One variety that is recommended for large scale planting is the latexless jackfruit. Very recently, a retired politician approached us. He wanted to go into commercial fruit farming. What strategy could we suggest? If you are going into commercial fruit production, we told him, better concentrate on two major crops first. Those that have high value, are relatively easy to take care, have long shelf life, and are in demand in the market. The politician has plenty of available land that could be developed into orchard. Land is no problem to him. Water is not a problem either. So he has the necessary land as well as the financial capability to undertake commercial production. What he needs is the right technology, which could be had with the right advisers or consultants. And what did we recommend to him? For a number of good reasons, we suggested that he plant thousands of jackfruit like the latexless variety with plump orange flesh. And why jackfruit? Jackfruit bears fruit any month of the year, depending on the care given to the trees. Thus supply can be throughout the year although there are also peak months.
Compared to mangoes, jackfruit has much less pest and disease problems. The mango is attacked by so many serious pests and diseases. You have to spray the mango trees to induce flowering. In the case of jackfruit, there is no need to spray flower inducers. Mangoes are also very perishable and the price can go very low during peak harvests. Jackfruit sells at a high price in the local markets, even if the quality is not so good. We see sliced jackfruit in the market that are miserable-looking which are being sold at P50 per kilo. One lady who has a thousand fruiting latexless jackfruit is so happy about her very fruitful trees. She does not only make money from ripe fruits. The thinnings are being sold as vegetable. The lady is Mrs. Naty Abrigo of Calauan, Laguna. She said that her jackfruit trees are very fruitful because they are adequately fertilized with chicken manure and vermicompost. Because of profuse fruiting, she has to remove some of the young fruits for sale as vegetable. One sack, she says, sells for just P400 but then she sells so many sacks. And then the ripe fruits are her real money-maker. They command a high price from the viajeros who buy them in volume. PUMMELO IN BIG VOLUME â€“ The other crop that we recommended to the retired politician is to plant the superior varieties of pummelo like the two varieties from Vietnam, Nam Roi and Dha Xhan. Why pummelo? There are a number of advantages. First, the pummelo with good eating quality is in big demand in the local market and they sell at a high price. Just go and observe at the SM or Robinsons supermarkets. The good kind sells at about P140 per kilo. The pummelo has a long shelf life. You can store the fruits for a month without spoiling as long as proper precautions are observed. Under cold storage, the fruits could keep for six months. Pummelos donâ€™t require any spraying to induce flowering as in the case of mangoes. The flowers of pummelo are not destroyed by rain. Pummelos also bear fruit more than once a year. While some fruits are already getting mature, there are some new flowers that are emerging for the second crop. You can plant more pummelos per hectare compared to mango. The latest recommendation in mango is to plant 12 to 14 meters apart. In the case of pummelo, planting 8 to 10 meters apart is good enough. Of course, there are also some problems in pummelo production but these could be solved or avoided with the right technology. Gummosis is a common disease encountered by many planters. The main culprit is undernourishment. Many growers donâ€™t fertilize their trees adequately so they are weak and are susceptible to gummosis. Affected trees can be rehabilitated by scraping the gums on the trunk and branches and painting the same with fungicide. A preventive measure is to nourish the trees with balanced fertilization.
Another problem in pummelo production is the attack of fruitflies. This can be remedied by bagging the fruits when they are the size of a turkey egg. Rind borer is also a problem in some places. One remedy is to spray the trees against insects while they are starting to flower. Also, one has to apply the right fertilizer at different stages of the plant growth. When the trees are fruiting, they should not be fertilized with too much nitrogen or their rind will become thick and the fruits become sour. The Power Grower Combo and the Heavy Weight Tandem fertilizers of Alfonso G. Puyat are a big help in producing quality pummelo fruits. Grower Neil Calo who has a farm in Laguna will attest to that. http://www.mb.com.ph/if-you-must-go-commercial/
Filipinos among the least happy in Asean Category: Top News Published on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 21:31 Written by Cai U. Ordinario Despite the Philippines’s recent success on the economic front, Filipinos are still among the least happy in the Southeast Asian region, according to the latest report released by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). In the 2013 World Happiness Report, the Philippines ranked 92nd out of 156 countries worldwide. It posted a happiness score of 4.985 out of a 10-point scale for the years 2010 to 2012. Among the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the happiest are Singapore and Thailand, which ranked 30th and 36th worldwide, respectively. Singapore posted a score of 6.546, while Thailand scored 6.371 out of 10. The two least happy countries in Asean are Myanmar and Cambodia, which ranked 121st and 140th, respectively. Myanmar posted a score of 4.439, while Cambodia’s score was 4.067 out of 10. “There is now a rising worldwide demand that policy be more closely aligned with what really matters to people as they themselves characterize their well-being,” UN Adviser and the Earth Institute at Columbia University Director Jeffery Sachs said in a statement. “More and more world leaders are talking about the importance of well-being as a guide for their nations and the world. The World Happiness Report 2013 offers rich evidence that the systematic measurement and analysis of happiness can teach us a lot about ways to improve the world’s well-being and sustainable development,” Sachs added. Happiness in countries were measured according to gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, health-life expectancy, perceptions of corruption, social support, generosity, the freedom to make life choices and population. The five happiest countries worldwide are all in Europe and with populations below 50 million. These were led by Denmark, with a score of 7.693, followed by Norway with a score of 7.655; Switzerland, 7.65; the Netherlands, 7.512; and Sweden, 7.480. The only country in the Asia Pacific that was included in the top 10 was Australia, which ranked 10th, with a score of 7.369. The only country in the Americas to be included in the top 10 was Canada, which ranked 6th worldwide, with a score of 7.477. While no Asian country was included in the top 20, the five happiest Asian countries were led by Singapore and Thailand, followed by South Korea, ranked 41st, with a score of 6.267; Taiwan, 42nd, with a score of 6.221; and Japan, 43rd, with a score of 6.064.
Meanwhile, the five least-happy countries in the world are Togo, which ranked 156th, with a score of 2.936; Benin, 155th, with a score of 3.528; Central African Republic, 154th, with a score of 3.623; Burundi, 153rd, with a score of 3.706; and Rwanda, 152nd, with a score of 3.715. Asian countries ranked in the 100’s included Mongolia, which ranked 102nd, with a score of 4.834; Bangladesh, ranked 108th, with a score of 4.804; Laos PDR, 109th with a score of 4.787; India, 111th, with a score of 4.772; Azerbaijan, 116th, with a score of 4.604; and Tajikistan, 125th, with a score of 4.38.“This report offers rich evidence that the systematic measurement and analysis of happiness can teach us much about ways to improve the world’s well-being and sustainable development,” it added. The report is published by the UN SDSN, under the auspices of UN Secretary General Ban KiMoon. Leading experts in several fields—economics, psychology, survey analysis, national statistics, and more—describe how measurements of well-being can be used effectively to assess the progress of nations. Apart from Sachs, the report is also edited by Professor John F. Helliwell, of the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research; and Lord Richard Layard, Director of the Well-Being Program at LSE’s Center for Economic Performance. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/top‐news/19279‐filipinos‐among‐the‐least‐ happy‐in‐asean
House PDAF realigned to education, health, infra By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 12, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The House of Representatives has broken up the P25.2-billion pork barrel fund for 2014 into six portions and distributed the amount to six departments and agencies that would be implementing the projects initiated by lawmakers. Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, and Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said the controversial lump sum in the proposed P2.268-trillion national budget for 2014 was deleted by the panel in the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) being deliberated in the chamber. Upon motion of Evardone, vice chairman of the panel, the committee yesterday approved the GAB, which will be presented on the floor Monday for plenary deliberations. Nearly 100 committee members attended the meeting. “It goes to show that our legislators are sensitive to public outcry to abolish pork barrel funds. We decided to return these funds to line departments to implement various projects nationwide,” Evardone said. “But we are going to propose hard projects during line item budgeting in the plenary before we approve the national budget on third and final reading,” he said, referring to the portion of the
Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the official name of the pork barrel for the infrastructure projects identified by lawmakers for their respective districts. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will get P8.8 billion or 35 percent of the allocation; Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) P5.1 billion (20 percent); while the Departments of Health (DOH), Labor and Employment (DOLE), Education (DepEd), P2.5 billion (10 percent), and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) P1.25 billion (five percent). Ungab said members of Congress can request the concerned agencies to extend assistance to their beneficiaries of scholarship and medical assistance programs. “Many asked what will happen to the present scholars or patients, for example, needing dialysis. We listened to the sentiments of our colleagues, especially from the rural areas, and yes, they can still identify, recommend. However, the discretion will no longer be theirs, they will not be holding the funds anymore,” Ungab explained. Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Tuesday said the policies of implementing agencies on the projects would be followed and there would be no more channeling of funds to non-government organizations (NGOs) and foundations. “It depends on the persuasion or the argument of the congressmen. Of course it can be accepted or rejected,” Ungab said when asked whether the implementing agencies are compelled to heed the recommendations of lawmakers. ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio voted against the move, saying he was consistent in his position for the complete abolition of the pork barrel system. “The proposal put forward and approved by the Committee on Appropriations does not go far enough. The PDAF lump sum of P25.2 billion will be unbundled and tucked into the regular budgets of a number of agencies while retaining many of the key features of pork barrel, such as the earmarking of specific amounts, exercise of individual discretion by legislators (particularly for local infrastructure projects), and right to recommend beneficiaries,” Tinio said. Education Secretary Armin Luistro welcomed the lawmakers’ plan to realign their PDAF to the education sector. “We are most grateful to our legislators for supporting DepEd programs. We will work closely with them and DBM to ensure that these programs are sustainable, effective and will ensure greater inclusivity,” Luistro said. CHED chair Patricia Licuanan, for her part, proposed the additional funds should go to state colleges and universities to finance much-needed faculty and capital outlay.
DepEd Undersecretary for Finance and Administration Francisco Varela stressed before lawmakers during the budget hearing at the House on Monday the need to clarify the sustainability of additional funding support. He said this will help DepEd identify expenditure items. Varela said the fund may be utilized for non-recurring items like additional classrooms that will be needed for senior high school, teacher-training, and extending information and communication technology (ICT)-based classrooms to other schools. Part of the additional funding may also go to DepEd’s feeding program for 500,000 malnourished children, which has an initial allocation of P1 billion for next year, Varela said. On the other hand, a group of cancer survivors called on the realignment of the pork barrel to health care services and promotion. New Vois Association of the Philippines president Emer Rojas said the pork barrel funds of lawmakers should be abolished but the fund should be used primarily for health care. “It is unacceptable when billions of pesos are being used to enrich corrupt government officials when our people are desperately needing effective treatment facilities and medical care,” he said. Rojas assailed the legislators linked to the anomaly for giving taxpayers’ money to bogus NGOs while the health sector has been begging for additional funding. “Our legislators’ job is to make laws, not fund projects. They should make themselves relevant by approving pending bills that will improve the lives of our people. They can start with increasing the budget for health services and promotion,” he said. – Helen Flores, Sheila Crisostomo http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/09/12/1199651/house‐pdaf‐realigned‐education‐health‐infra
‘Noy can’t be impeached over PDAF’ By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 12, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora yesterday dissuaded his colleagues in the opposition from threatening to file an impeachment complaint against President Aquino over the pork barrel issue. “At this point, the President is doing nothing that is impeachable,” Zamora told a news conference. He said he and his colleagues and other lawmakers should be talking about more serious problems the nation is facing. “For instance, we want to know why the unemployment rate is rising, which means more people are going jobless, despite our high economic growth. We will raise that when the House starts floor debates on the 2014 budget on Monday,” he said. He said the jobless growth implies that it is only the rich who are reaping the benefits of high growth. “This cannot go on if the administration wants to achieve inclusive growth, meaning growth that benefits the poor,” he said. Zamora said opposition senators and congressmen who have been linked to the pork barrel scam should not put political color to the impending government decision to file charges against them. “They should not use political affiliation as a defense. That is the advice I would give Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and the others. If the government claims they used bogus NGOs (nongovernment organizations), they should prove these are not bogus. If the claim is that their project beneficiaries were bogus, they should prove they were not fake,” he said. The opposition leader also urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) to make sure that it has airtight cases against alleged pork barrel scam brains Janet Lim-Napoles and lawmakers she reportedly gave kickbacks to. “It’s not sufficient that a whistle-blower claims he delivered millions to a senator’s chief of staff. They have to prove that the money ended up with the senator. It’s not enough that a whistleblower claims he delivered P10 million, for instance, to a congressman. That should be backed up by something else, like a testimony or document evidencing a P10-million withdrawal from a bank account,” he said. Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares expressed belief that the DOJ, National Bureau of Investigation, Commission on Audit (COA), and the Office of the Ombudsman have more than sufficient evidence to file plunder charges against all those behind and involved in the pork barrel scam. “They have filed cases before with less evidence. Here, they have a series of whistle-blowers or witnesses who will corroborate each other’s testimonies. They have documents and they have the exhaustive COA report on pork barrel fund irregularities in 2007-2009,” he said. Colmenares said whistle-blowers should be included in the charges to make sure they won’t recant their testimonies. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/09/12/1199831/noy‐cant‐be‐impeached‐over‐pdaf
Binay beats Aquino on scrapping ‘pork’ fund Category: Economy Published on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 20:37 Written by Butch Fernandez and Marvyn N. Benaning The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday moved to delete a P200- million annual porkbarrel fund inherited by Vice President Jejomar Binay from former-Senator-now-President Aquino after Binay offered to give it up amid mounting clamor to scrap the congressional assistance fund. Binay’s chief of staff, Undersecretary Benjamin Martinez, informed the committee during the Senate budget hearing, chaired by Sen. Francis Escudero, that the Vice President was asking lawmakers to delete Mr. Aquino’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) from the Office of the Vice President (OVP) budget for next year. Martinez confirmed that for fiscal year 2011, the OVP was given a PDAF, also known as the pork barrel, in the amount of P200 million. The said fund came from the unutilized PDAF allocation of then-Senator Aquino, he said. He added that in fiscal year, 2012, Budget Secretary Butch Abad, “in support of the constituency of the Vice President,” released the amount of P200 million incorporated in the agency’s regular budget under the line item for locally funded projects amounting to P100 million and a capital outlay of P100 million, respectively.” Martinez conveyed to Escudero’s committee Binay’s assurance that the “utilization and disbursement of the said funds are subject to the implementing rules and regulations on locally funded projects.” Martinez added that Binay’s office, for next year, plans to provide funds for the construction of multipurpose buildings for target beneficiaries, numbering about 200 city/municipal local government units (LGUs) across the country, with an appropriation of P500,000 each per city or municipality. “These Beneficiaries are...focused on those sixth class towns which we completed, fifth class municipalities and now we were planning to actually provide buildings for fourth class municipalities. The projects should benefit these beneficiary cities and municipalities for their livelihood assistance,” he said. In addition, he reported to the committee that Binay’s office also provided educational assistance amounting to P25 million. “The scholarships covered those in state-run universities and colleges in the form of faculty-development assistance.” “As of July 1, 2013, the OVP has 1,538 scholars enrolled in 106 SUCs across the country. Further assistance we have provided P45 milllion geared towards improving the medical and health frontline services of all LGUs, especially those with complete centers across the country,” he added.
Escudero, in turn, asked Martinez to clarify whether Binay was actually proposing that the P200 million allocated for locally funded projects be deleted from the OVP budget. “Mr. Chairman, whether it will be deleted or removed...our purpose really is to just inform Congress that this P200 million which is subject to a lot of questions right now, although we have our own views at this time, just to remove all of these, we believe that it is prudent for all of us to just forego this,” Binay’s chief of staff replied. House realigns P24.4-B PDAF The House of Representatives on Wednesday decided to realign their PDAF and the P200million lump-sum fund of Binay to at least six government agencies. House Appropriations Committee Chairman and Davao Second District Rep. Isidro Ungab said that the total fund amounting to P25.4 billion, will be transferred to the Department of Health, Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Social Welfare and Development and Department of Public Works and Highways. “The House members voted almost unanimously to this [realignment],” he said. “We don’t have anymore discretion on the said fund but we can still recommend beneficiaries and projects to the implementing agencies. Challenge to Aquino Social Watch Philippines (SWP) has challenged President Aquino to follow the lead of Binay, who had asked the Senate to scrap his P200-million pork barrel for 2014. SWP said Mr. Aquino should prove that he has the political will to end corruption by totally abolishing the P25-billion PDAF, or pork barrel, and items of the Special Purpose Funds (SPF) in the national budget for 2014. “SPFs breed corruption. How can Congress scrutinize the SPF when there is no detail? It is just one chart in the budget documents and one line in the summary papers,” SWP lead convener Leonor Magtolis Briones said. “National allocation of funds should be based not only on broad national development concerns; but it should promote redistribution. That is the role of a strong development state. We do not need pork to uplift quality of life in poor provinces. The Internal Revenue Allotment of poorer provinces should be more,” SWP convener Marivic Raquiza said. (With Jovee Marie dela Cruz) http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/economy/19271-binay-beats-aquino-onscrapping-pork-fund
Youth group blasts Palace’s P100-M dole-out to bogus NGOs Category: Economy Published on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 20:33 Written by Marvyn Benaning A youth group has turned the tables on President Aquino and demanded he explain why P100 million from his P72.11-billion “stimulus funds” ended up in the bank accounts of six nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) tagged as bogus, with four of them cooping up the cash last year. Youth Act Now Spokesman Victor Villanueva said that far from being lily-white, this disclosure would splatter dirt on Mr. Aquino’s escutcheon and start a flurry of investigation into why the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released the funds to the NGOs from Malacañang and not from the Priority Assistance Development Fund (PDAF), or the congressional pork barrel. The stimulus-funds mess was discovered by staffers of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who found out that the recent letter from the Commission on Audit (COA) addressed to Marcos inquiring into the veracity of his endorsement of the NGOs pertained to the release of the stimulus funds to the National Livelihood Development Corp. through the “disbursement acceleration program.” It had nothing to do with the Senator’s pork barrel at all since it was designed to evade the transfer of the money to the General Fund by year-end 2012. Villanueva said the DAP is used by the DBM to spend money during the last quarter to deter the remittance of the funds to the Bureau of the Treasury. The DAP that was made to appear as Marcos’s PDAF ended up in the coffers of the Ginintuang Alay sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc., Agricultura para sa Magbubukid Foundation Inc., Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc. and Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. “The P100 million shunted off to the NGOs of Janet Lim-Napoles by the DBM from Aquino’s discretionary funds is loose change compared to the P1-trillion annual Aquino pork barrel. Now that the anomalies on the use of discretionary funds being committed by the DBM under Secretary Butch Abad and the President are getting out into the open, it becomes incumbent upon the people to continue and intensify their demand for an end to the pork-barrel system, whether for members of Congress or for the President,” Villanueva insisted. Youth Act Now members joined the anti-pork-barrel prayer rally at the Edsa Shrine and the mass action at Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City involving students from the University of the Philippines at Diliman, Ateneo de Manila University and Miriam College.
They will also join the Luneta rally on Friday to demand an end to the pork-barrel system and the prosecution of all those who plundered the public funds, from the members of Congress to Malacañang, along with subordinate officials from the DBM and the COA who facilitated the releases of the money, not only from 2007 to 2009 but also from 2001 to 2006 and from 2010 to 2013. The September 13 will start with an interfaith service at 3 p.m. and a cultural program that will last well into the night. Youth Act Now also welcomed the announcement of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) that its member-schools would join the Luneta rally. CEAP President Gregorio Bañaga issued a memorandum on September 10 that enjoined all its member-schools to join the rally. “The CEAP participation is most welcome. Today, it is exceedingly clear that millions are joining the clamor for the dismantling of the pork-barrel system. The number of people condemning and fighting the deception of the Aquino administration is swelling,” Villanueva added. “The Filipino people should show unity at this time, when the government is clearly deluding all of us and trying to retain the hated pork-barrel system. Protests will continue, whether at Edsa or Katipunan or Luneta, as long as the system of plunder and deception continues,” Villanueva concluded. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/economy/19270-youth-group-blastspalace-s-p100-m-dole-out-to-bogus-ngos
Spend more on health-care services, cancer survivors urge government Category: Economy Published on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 20:30 Written by Claudeth Mocon-Ciriaco A group of cancer survivors urged the Aquino administration on Wednesday to spend more on health-care services and promotion rather than allowing billions of pesos go to bogus projects. Emer Rojas, president of New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP), who also expressed support for the anti-pork barrel “Edsa Tayo” prayer rally on Wednesday, called for the abolition of legislators’ pork- barrel funds and the redirecting of funds to health care. “It is unacceptable when billions of pesos are being used to enrich corrupt government officials when our people are desperately needing effective treatment facilities and medical care,” Rojas, a person with disability (PWD) blamed on cigarette smoking at a young age, said. He added that everyone should express their outrage over the illegal use of public funds by government officials. Rojas said allowing lawmakers to take hold of billons of pesos and disburse them at their discretion while health services and promotion beg for additional funding is a “disservice to the nation.” “Our legislators’ job is to make laws, not fund projects. They should make themselves relevant by approving pending bills that will improve the lives of our people. They can start with increasing the budget for health services and promotion,” he said. The NVAP head said the government should particularly look at the budget allotment for tobacco control, which is very minimal compared to the monthly expenditure of poor Filipinos on cigarettes. According to the newly released Asean Tobacco Control Atlas, Filipinos spend about P326.4 million on cigarettes every month. On the other hand, the annual budget for tobacco control is a measly P11.45 million, which is deemed too little to combat the epidemic that has placed the Philippines as the second-largest smoking population in the Southeast Asian region. “At the same time, the burden in treating just four of the major smoking-related diseases [cancer, heart attack, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] amount to P177 billion, which is more than four times the annual P42-billion budget of the Department of Health,” Rojas noted. NVAP is strongly supporting the passage of the graphic health warning law as a support measure to reduce the health-care cost of smoking-related diseases. Meanwhile, Akap-Pinoy, the national federation of PWD organizations, is also joining the protest and urged legislators to voluntarily give up their pork.
â€œAs persons with disabilities, we owe it not just to ourselves, but to our country and the rest of our Filipino brethren to speak up and be one on issues that affect us all. We join the rest of our people in protest to prevail upon our lawmakers to voluntarily give up their pork-barrel fund or face public censure and the consequences of their actions,â€? Manuel Agcaoili, chairman of AkapPinoy, said. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/economy/19269-spend-more-on-health-careservices-cancer-survivors-urge-government
MDGs, PDPs failed to uplift lives of poor Filipinos–groups Category: Economy Published on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 20:28 Written by Cai U. Ordinario Civil-society organizations (CSOs) lamented the failure of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the previous Philippine Development Plans (PDPs) to uplift the lives of the poor in the Philippines. The MDGs is a set of goals ratified by 189 member-states of the United Nations (UN) in year 2000 for the social and economic improvement of the world’s poorest countries by 2015. The PDP, on the other hand, is the country’s medium-term economic blueprint that is released and updated by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda). It tracks the direction of the Philippine economy under an administration. The CSOs called on the “architects” of Philippine development and the international community to ensure that national and global strategies will now target development for the extremely poor and not the development for corporations. “The extremely poor are asking the Philippine government and the international community why after more than a decade of investing so much on implementing goals to end the worst forms of human deprivation, we cannot achieve economic growth without so many people being left behind?” former National Treasurer and Social Watch Philippines (SWP) lead convener Leonor Magtolis Briones said. The MDGs and the previous PDPs excluded the aspirations of the “left behinds,” or the hungry, illiterate, uneducated, unhealthy, sick, jobless, homeless and landless in society. Briones said the Philippine government, through the PDP, has also failed to provide solutions to close the widening gap between the rich and the poor, as well as the destruction of the environment as the economy grew. Sarah Salvador, national coordinator of the Aktibong Kilusan Tungo sa Iisang Bayan, an SWP partner in budget advocacy in urban-poor areas in Tondo, Manila and Quezon City, said there is mistrust and apprehension among the urban poor because they remain poor and hungry even with 13 years of the MDGs. “The UN and the governments should make they clear what kind of poverty it wants to eradicate. The extremely poor never felt part of development, economic growth and sustainable development. They do not feel that their lives are better with the MDGs. Conditional-cash transfers help them send children to schools and avail [themselves of health services, but poverty is never addressed,” Salvador added.
Action for Economic Reforms President and SWP co-convener Jessica Reyes-Cantos also lamented that the Report to the UN Secretary-General made by the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda was lacking. Cantos said this did not have “indispensable values” that could help the left- behinds, estimated to be at 1.9 billion worldwide. In the Philippines the government estimates that nearly a third of the country’s population is poor in the first semester of 2012. Further, Veneranda Mateo, member of the SWP/Alternative Budget Initiative Social Protection Cluster said the MDGs do not address inclusion because it does not address the accessibility needs of the persons with disabilities (PWDs). “Poor persons with disabilities cannot access education and health facilities. In the Philippines not all schools have special education. Not all schools have facilities for the blind and the deaf. Values formation or setting the mind-set of the people in the community to be sensitive to the needs of PWDs should be included on the Post 2015 Development Agenda,” Mateo said. Meanwhile, Allie Cortez, division chief of the Neda Social Development Staff, said the government agrees that there has to be separate goals and indicators to address inequality. “The viewpoints of CSOs are very enlightening. The views of vulnerable groups give us a new perspective. The government is doing many things; but it needs to listen to the perspective of people directly affected by its decisions. This enlightens the government on gaps in implementing development programs,” Cortez said. SWP is a network of a hundred CSOs that pioneered citizens’ direct engagement in the national budget process through the Alternative Budget Initiative. (With Marvyn Benaning) http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/economy/19268-mdgs-pdps-failed-touplift-lives-of-poor-filipinos-groups
Pag-IBIG registration now a requirement to renew, apply for new business permit in Pasay City–Calixto Category: Economy Published on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 20:07 Written by Claudeth Mocon-Ciriaco The Pasay City government is urging all business establishments operating in the city to register with the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF), or Pag-IBIG, to be able to apply or renew existing business permits. “We are fully supporting the enforcement of the mandatory coverage of employers and their respective employees in accordance with Republic Act (RA) 9679 for we believe in providing accessible housing and multipurpose loans to each and every employee at the time they need it,” Pasay City Mayor Antonino Calixto, who recently signed a memorandum of agreement with the Pag-IBIG Fund, said. Under the terms of the agreement between the Pasay City government, represented by Calixto, and Pag-IBIG Fund, represented by Darlene Marie Berberabe, Pag-IBIG chief executive officer, Pasay City committed to the immediate passage of an ordinance that will require local businesses applying for or renewing their business permits to secure a Certificate of Employer Registration from the agency. This will be a pre-requisite for the issuance of their respective business permits in the city. Berberabe thanked the city government for its support to the Pag-IBIG Fund’s projects, and noted that “our office will always be here to assist employees in availing [themselves] different financial assistances such as housing, calamity and multipurpose loans.” Berberabe also reiterated that the “employees are rest assured that the dividends they get from their remittances are 100-percent tax-free that, in turn, provides them of bigger savings in the future.” To make private and government employees’ transactions accessible, Pasay City Spokesman Jonathan Malaya said the HDMF shall set up within the Pasay City Hall Building a PagIBIG Fund Registration desk, which will be manned by Pag-IBIG employees. “The registration desk will make readily available the list of employers/business owners’ updated remittances, annual certification documents for updated employers and checklist of requirements. The desk will also make available Employer’s Data Form and Membership contributions Remittance Form,” Malaya said. Malaya also said that for business establishments that are not yet members of Pag-IBIG, the desk can provide them with a checklist of requirements and give them timely advice on how to file their registration with other Pag-IBIG branch offices. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/economy/19261-pag-ibig-registrationnow-a-requirement-to-renew-apply-for-new-business-permit-in-pasay-city-calixto
BIR favors withdrawal of tax, other perks to several sectors By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 12, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 2
MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Internal Revenue is in favor of lifting the tax and financial incentives given to several industries which include agro-industrial businesses to boost tax collections of the government. Internal Revenue commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares said tax perks should only be granted to export-oriented enterprises and pioneer investors as the government moves to shore up state coffers. The BIR is targeting to collect P1.6 trillion by 2015 or more than double its tax take in 2010. For this year, the agency is tasked to collect P1.253 trillion or 18.5 percent higher than the P1.057 trillion collected in 2012. “We should give incentives only to exporters who export finished or semi-finished products. If you’re investing because you want to take advantage of the domestic market, you should only give incentives to pioneer companies that come and set up,” Henares said. For a pioneer investor, Henares said the duration of the tax breaks should not go beyond five years.
Henares is hopeful lawmakers will finally pass the fiscal incentives rationalization bill, which has been pending in Congress for more than 15 years now, noting that the government has been unnecessarily granting tax breaks to businesses that can stand on their own. Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima earlier said incentive-giving bodies should stop giving tax perks to industries that are already mature and viable as it distorts the governmentâ€™s main purpose of bringing more benefits to the Filipino people. Food producers and traders earlier asked the Supreme Court to scrap the tax incentives granted to Thai multinational conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Foods Philippines Corp. (CP). CP was granted pioneer status by the Board of Investments last year, making it eligible for tax incentives. Its swine project in Pampanga obtained a four-year income tax holiday while its broiler in Bulacan was given a six-year income tax holiday. On both projects, the company was granted duty-free importation of capital equipment but is made to pay the 12 percent value-added tax (VAT). The passage of the fiscal incentives bill, identified as among the priority measures of the Arroyo Administration, is seen to result in P19 billion in additional revenues for the government. The bill seeks to remove various incentives that are deemed either excessive or no longer necessary to avoid redundancies and lost revenues for the government. The DOF wants certain industries like shipbuilding, iron and steel and vehicle manufacturing excluded from the governmentâ€™s 2013 Investment Priorities Plan (IPP), saying these sectors have long enjoyed various fiscal incentives for several years now. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/09/12/1198891/bir-favors-withdrawal-tax-other-perksseveral-sectors
USAID to help thrift banks improve credit services By Donnabelle L. Gatdula (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 12, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Chamber of Thrift Banks (CTB) signed yesterday a memorandum of cooperation with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to improve access to credit by smaller banks particularly in the property sector. Under the Property Rights As a Credit Enhancement Mechanism (PRCEM), more people will gain access to credit with secure collateral acceptable to banks and financial institutions. The objective is to improve credit to land titling beneficiaries and establish cooperative activities among financial institutions, local government units (LGUs), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and other stakeholders. This cooperation will specifically fall under USAID’s Advancing Philippine Competitiveness Program, which is intended to contribute to higher growth through better provision of infrastructure, increased competitiveness of key industries, and increased access to credit The project will also involve the Foundation for Economic Freedom Inc. (FEFI). Under the PRCEM project, USAID will assist banks in converting their tax declarations into titled collateral through residential free patent (RFP). It will also allow USAID to assist banks in marketing services to RFP beneficiaries, set up titling services and set up partnerships. The possible activities of the partnership include trainings and workshop on the promotion of access to credit; conversion of tax declarations to RFP; titling process (including land investigation; and advocacy and dissemination of information on access to credit. With PRCEM, the banks will increase and widen client base to include those with RFP and possible applicants for RFP titling; and increase knowledge/expertise of banks on access to accredit and public titling. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/09/12/1198991/usaid-help-thrift-banks-improve-creditservices
Pork today 115 times larger than in 1989 – Monsod By Kristine Angeli Sabillo INQUIRER.net 6:25 pm | Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
MANILA, Philippines – The lawmakers’ pork barrel is now 115 times larger than when it started in 1989, said Professor Winnie Monsod in an ambush interview Wednesday. “The amount that went to Congress went up by 115 times. Do you know how much the price of commodities increased [since 1989]? Four times only! Eh di syempre talagang magagalit ka sa sakim. Hindi ba? (Of course you will get mad with this gluttony),” the Inquirer columnist told media during the “EDSA Tayo” prayer vigil. Although she canceled her lecture for the day, Monsod tackled how the pork barrel started in 1989 as a P720-million development fund for Visayas and Mindanao. “Those [legislators] from Luzon got jealous and it became the Countrywide Development Fund. It became P2.3 billion…When Aquino [came into power]…, the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), VILP (Various Infrastructure including Local Projects), and the congressional insertions [totaled] P83 billion. P83 billion from P720 million,” said Monsod. The former socioeconomic planning secretary said the problem now is what to do next. She said the different forms of protest, such as rallies, are important but the final judgment is still the vote of the people. “The final form is our vote in 2016,” she said, hoping that Filipinos do not have short-term memories. “Can you imagine if there is no more PDAF? Not just PDAF but the pork barrel…there will be no dividends for congressmen. Maybe those corrupt politicians will no longer run. Who will run? Politicians who really care for the country,” Monsod added. Monsod said the pork barrel system “has become like a cancer in the body polity.” She said even those in the local government units have also started to ask for their own form of “pork.” “In the first place it is not efficient. It is a dissipation of our resources. Our resources are being wasted,” she said. Monsod said the funds should instead go to agencies such as the Department of Education or to local development councils who know what the people need. The University of the Philippines professor earlier decided to cancel her lecture on the pork barrel system after the Catholic Church prohibited the use of EDSA Shrine’s enclosed area. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/485611/pork‐today‐115‐times‐larger‐than‐in‐1989‐monsod#ixzz2edrYt0Yj
Meralco customers in for refund By Riza T. Olchondra Philippine Daily Inquirer 5:47 am | Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
MANILA, Philippines—Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) customers may be in for refunds as regulators told the power distributor to get back at least P9.85 billion for double charges on transmission line costs paid to successor companies of National Power Corp. (Napocor). Overcharging allegations stemmed from line rental payments of Meralco to the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), which has a component for the same line losses imposed by successor-firms of Napocor facilities. The WESM charges were eventually remitted to the generators, including Napocor, whose assets are managed by the state-owned Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. Such costs are shouldered by Meralco’s clients. In a decision, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) said the power generation companies owed almost P4.67 billion. The ERC also said that on top of the P4.67 billion, Meralco should seek subsequent payments beyond Aug. 2012 “until the actual cessation of the collection” of the 2.98 percent line loss charge under Napocor’s supply contract with Meralco. ERC also upheld its order dated March 4, 2013, where it directed Napocor to fully refund almost P5.18 billion to Meralco through disbursements of about P73.94 million per month. The regulator also directed Meralco to file a petition for dispute resolution against generation firms Masinloc Power Partners Co. Ltd, AP Renewables, Therma Luzon Inc., San Miguel Energy Corp., and Sem Calaca Power Corp. to settle the issue. “The Commission abides by the principle that line loss shall only be charged once,” ERC said in its latest order. ERC director Francis Saturnino Juan earlier said Napocor was to make the refund to Meralco by paying the amount of P73.945 million per month until such time that the overpayments shall have been refunded in full. The refunds are seen to reduce the charges passed on to Meralco customers. Meralco filed its petition against Napocor in September 2008 demanding the refund of its overpayments. The petition stemmed from the inability of Meralco and Napocor to implement their contract provision on the reconciliation of the 2.98 percent line loss charge incorporated in Napocor’s rates imposed on Meralco and the actual line rental payments made by the power distributor to the Philippine Electricity Spot Market, as operator of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market. http://business.inquirer.net/142343/meralco-customers-in-for-refund
Inflation seen to accelerate in months ahead Spike in oil prices brought on by turmoil in Middle East By Michelle V. Remo Philippine Daily Inquirer 5:41 am | Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
MANILA, Philippines—After dropping to a four-year low in August, inflation may accelerate in the months ahead due to rising global oil prices and depreciation of the peso. But the faster pace of increase in consumer prices may remain manageable. According to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, rising prices of petroleum in the world market and the peso’s fall against the US dollar will soon impact on overall domestic prices. The ongoing tension in Syria is said to be behind the rising oil prices in the world market. The Syrian government has been accused of using chemical weapons against rebels in the ongoing civil war. Talks of a possible US military attack on Syria have fueled speculations of disruption in the oil supply from the Middle East, thereby pushing global oil prices. Also, the depreciation of the peso has been tagged as the reason why capital is being drawn away from local shores. Talk that the US Federal Reserve may soon scale down its bond purchases has also fueled the withdrawal of portfolio funds from emerging markets like the Philippines. The peso last month fell to the 44-to-a-dollar territory, and has so far stayed in that level even as portfolio funds, largely stocks, continued to be pulled out of the country. But Balisacan has expressed confidence that the impact of rising world oil prices and falling peso will not be enough to cause inflation to breach the ceiling set. There is also the probability that inflation may go back to the 3-percent territory, he added. “But even if inflation goes back to 3 percent, that will still be very manageable,” Balisacan said. In August, inflation fell to a four-year low of 2.1 percent. This brought the average for the first eight months of the year to 2.8 percent. The government has set the inflation target at a range of 3 to 5 percent for the year.
The benign inflation seen so far this year has been brought on partly by rising investments, which has helped boost the supply of goods and services. Balisacan said that the country’s strong macroeconomic fundamentals have somehow helped temper inflation. If not for the favorable fundamentals, he said, the peso’s fall would have been even more significant. http://business.inquirer.net/142331/inflation‐seen‐to‐accelerate‐in‐months‐ahead
Thousands flee Zambo homes By Francisco Tuyay | Posted 9 hours ago | 535 views
Standoff enters 3rd day with sporadic firefights Fierce fighting between forces loyal to Moro National Liberation Front founding chairman Nur Misuari and government troops continued on the third day of the standoff Wednesday, forcing nearly 13,000 residents to flee their homes in the five barangays in Zamboanga City where the rebels had holed up since Monday. The Crisis Management Committee led by Zamboanga City Mayor Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said that the total number of evacuees totaled 3,159 families, or 12,907 individuals. The bulk of the evacuees, the CMC said, were crammed inside the Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex, while the rest took shelter in schools and churches.
Dislocation. From top clockwise: Residents living along the coast in Zamboanga City near the area of a standoff between the military and MNLF rebels evacuate the boulevards to escape the conflict; residents believed to be hostages appeal to the military not to shoot; soldiers take cover from MNLF snipers; some city residents take shelter at a sports complex. AFP
Department of Social Welfare and Development personnel, who are taking care of the refugees, said that at least 5,000 residents arrived at the sports complex overnight. Wednesdays’ clashes, the third in as many days since early Monday, were mostly confined in two barangays – Bgy. Sta. Catalina and Barbara. But government forces admitted that it was difficult to attack the rebels’ position because the MNLF forces were using the residents as “human shields.” Explosions and sounds of automatic gunfires were heard in the two barangays early Wednesday, while sporadic clashes also took place in the heavilypopulated outskirts of Zamboanga City, as government troops battled rebels who tried to enter the city. In Bgy. San Roque, which is located near the Zamboanga City airport and only three kilometers away from the city’s financial district, a group of MNLF rebels fired at military aircrafts which were conducting reconnaissance flights over the city to monitor the movement of the rebels, according to Brig. Gen. Nick Vivar, head of the Air Force in Mindanao. Vivar made his report in a meeting presided by Mayor Salazar and Interior and Local Secretary Mar Roxas. The military said the rebels also launched two separate mortar fire at the Fort Del Pilar pier and at the State Marine Science and Technology. “We continue to condemn the acts of the MNLF against the peace-loving people in Zamboanga City by attempting to control the city but failed,” Roxas said. Roxas also dismissed claims by Misuari spokesman Absalom Cerveza that the MILF had already sent reinforcement to their beleaguered comrades. “Wala kaming nakakalap na intelligence report na nakapag-reinforce anf MNLF sa Zamboanga City,” he said, echoing a statement made by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, who had said that there were no reports of any reinforcement from MNLF followers of Misuari from as far as Sulu, Basilan and other provinces. Roxas added that their latest monitoring indicate that there are only 60 to 70 hostages remaining at the hands of the rebels.
After three days, the standoff had so far left 12 people dead and 21 injured. including a Navyman and two policmen and two civilians, military spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said. The latest fatality was an MNLF gunman whose body was recovered in one of the areas where the gunmen are holed up, Zagala told a television interview. Salazar said that efforts to negotiate with the rebel’s leader, Habier Malik, are still ongoing. “Our main priority really is the safety of all the hostages. The military should come in and try to secure the hostages and defend the city from further intrusion,” she added. The police, meanwhile, said they were able to intercept a separate group of MNLF rebels who tried to enter Barangay Canelar in Zamboanga City. The CMC said it received a report that the rebels suffered two casualties when they engaged the police in a firefight. The CMC said the casualties belonged to a group of “more or less 8-10 rebels who tried to engage the police in a firefight at a checkpoint. “Two MNLF members were confirmed shot by the police. Others are being pursued. Operations ongoing in the area,” the CMC said, but added that the police have yet to give an official report on the incident. In another development, Sulu commander Col. Jose Johriel Cenabre denied that a grenade explosion in Suulu was connected to the crisis in Zamboanga City. “No, it was just a grenade explosion lobbed by a still unidentified person not in his right mind against a motorcycle.” Cenabre said the incident happened in the vicinity of the provincial capitol at around 5:30 p.m. No one was hurt from the explosion. As this developed, Malacañang has ruled out any military action to end the threeday standoff in Zamboanga City.
Presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles said the volume of soldiers and policemen in Zamboanga City were there to make sure the standoff does not spill over to other neighboring areas. “Our government is very conscious of the civilians that are going to be affected,” Deles said. Deles disclosed that a team has already been formed in the Department of Justice to look into the possibility of filing charges against Misuari and his supporters. The siege began four weeks after MNLF founder Nur Misuari declared “independence” for Mindanao. He later urged his followers to overtake government installations. The MNLF ended a 25-year rebellion with a 1996 peace treaty, but Misuari’s faction laid a similar deadly siege on Zamboanga in 2001 that led to his imprisonment until 2008, when all charges against him were dropped. Salazar, meanwhile, urged owners of businesses, banks and other establishment to resume their operations despite the ongoing conflict. With Florante Solmerin Joyce Pangco-Pañares and AFP http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/09/12/thousands‐flee‐zambo‐homes/
Priests call for more rallies vs fund scam By Vito Barcelo | Posted 8 hours ago | 791 views
More Catholic leaders urged the people to participate in rallies and demonstrations to express their disapproval of the pork barrel system after the peaceful prayer vigil at the Edsa Shrine in Quezon City on Wednesday. Retired Caloocan bishop Deogracias Iñiguez said more demonstrations and more information campaigns against the pork barrel system are necessary because of the difficulty of persuading politicians to give up a source of corruption. “It has become part of the political culture and this is our greatest challenge, to change of heart of our government leaders,” said Iñiguez, the first bishop of the Diocese of Caloocan until he retired last January.
Protest. People gather at the Edsa Shrine on Ortigas Avenue to demand the abolition of the pork barrel appropriations. Lino Santos Another retired prelate, former Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop Oscar Cruz, urged citizens not divert their attention from the issue if they trully want change. “There is the so-called diversionary tactic… In order to divert the attention of people from one issue, other issues will be made to surface,” Cruz said in a statement posted at the CBCP website. “There are people surrounding [President Benigno Simeon Aquino], who are very expert in these things.”
“Before you know it, nobody will talk about the pork barrel anymore,” Cruz said. “Don’t fall for it. Stick to this major issue of the abolition of the pork barrel system to safeguard public funds.” The two prelates made the call as organizers of the Edsa Tayo prayer vigil said the campaign against the pork barrel system “will not stop here.” “This is a continuing process,” said one of the organizer Junep Ocampo. “We are now producing a study guide on what a pork barrel is, and how the fund is requested, released and received, and should be distributed. Most of the people really do not know the mechanics.” Ocampo said they are preparing downloadable study guide forms and other interactive materials on the issue of the pork barrel, official called Priority Development Assistance Funds. He said the rally was an “answered prayer because it did not rain yesterday, that the rally was generally peaceful and that they were able to heighten public awareness about the evil of the pork barrel fund system.” According to Ocampo, at least 1,000 people heard the mass celebrated by Fr. Nilo Mangussad at the Edsa Shrine, 1,000 others who arrived late during the mass, and 3,000 to 4,000 people who stayed outside the shrine throughout the event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The National Capital Region Police Office said there were only about 1,200 participants of the prayer vigil. Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo also echoed the call of Iñiguez and Cruz and said continuing the public dialogue on the pork barrel issue will help deliver the death blow to the system. “Let us macrh and join hands against illegal activities in the governement,” Pabillo said.With Rio Araja http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/09/12/priests‐call‐for‐more‐rallies‐vs‐fund‐scam/
SC initial finding shows PDAF ‘unconstitutional’ By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Posted 8 hours ago | 544 views
The Supreme Court’s preliminary finding is that the Priority Development Assistance Fund, commonly know as pork barrel, is unconstitutional, Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta said Wednesday. At a budget hearing at the Senate, Peralta was asked if the Court’s issuance of a temporary restraining order against the release of PDAF allocations was based on any preliminary finding. In response, Peralta said that in all petitions for the issuance of a TRO, the Court always determines if there is a prima facie or reasonable ground to issue the order. “In effect, you were saying that at least on a temporary basis, there’s a prima facie finding that the PDAF is unconstitutional?” asked Senate President Franklin Drilon. “On a preliminary basis, that’s correct, Mr. President,” said Peralta. But Peralta said the Supreme Court will decide on the fund’s constitutionality only after hearing the oral arguments on the case. Oral arguments have been set for Oct. 8. Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, who also attended the budget hearing, said the TRO only addresses the release of pork barrel. “What we are asking is only that the PDAF should not be spent. We have not declared its legality or unconstitutionality,” said Leonen. Peralta and Leonen told Drilon they had to recuse themselves when pressed to answer if Congress is allowed to realign pork barrel to other agencies. “In effect, there can be no realignment of the PDAF as long as your TRO is valid, is that correct?” asked Drilon. “We are tempted to answer your question, but we have to recuse ourselves. Please just refer to the TRO,” Leonen said.
But Drilon asked the same questions again, saying he needed to get guidance from the “gods of Padre Faura” on how to handle the remaining PDAF for this year, and the proposed pork barrel for next year. “While you are thinking as a body, I am under pressure here to interpret your order. These people needing dialysis, what are we going to tell them—to just wait, we are still talking with the Supreme Court?” asked Drilon. He added that public works projects have remained unfinished due to this controversy. Responding to Drilon’s questions, Leonen said the Senate is welcome to file a motion to clarify before the Court, since he and Peralta cannot answer these questions without the other magistrates. “We will entertain a motion for clarification. We can only move as a court,” he added. Drilon also asked the justices when they might come out with a ruling. Peralta said if the oral arguments on Oct. 8 and will not be extended, it will take a little time. He said after the oral arguments, respective parties will be required to submit their respective memoranda, after which the Court will consider the case for resolution. He added that since there were 14 justices, getting the opinion of each might take some time. Drilon, however, said the Court must decide quickly because not doing so would in effect be impounding the release of funds. “The Supreme Court, if it will not decide by Dec. 31, will be exercising the power of the Executive not to release [the funds],” he said. Leonon acknowledged the urgency to resolve the case. When Drilon asked about the fate of next year’s PDAF allocation, Peralta said the TRO covered only the 2013 pork barrel. Pressed by Drilon, who said pork cannot be unconstitutional in 2013 but constitutional in 2014, Peralta replied: “We will come to that later on.” http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/09/12/sc‐initial‐finding‐shows‐pdaf‐ unconstitutional/
Binay gives up ‘pork’ in VP budget By Sara Susanne D. Fabunan | Posted 9 hours ago | 344 views 2
Vice President Jejomar Binay on Wednesday asked Congress to cancel his pork barrel allocation for 2014, prompting three lawmakers to say that President Benigno Aquino III should be the one taking the lead in abolishing the grafttainted appropriations. “Today I am formally asking the removal of the P200 million appropriation for the Office of the Vice President intended for locally-funded projects next year,” Binay said in a statement. “I have made this decision even if the authorities have not specified the nature of this fund to avoid speculation and politicking.” Navotas City Rep. Tobias Tiangco, secretary general of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance, welcomed Binay’s decision. “Our boss has spoken so we have to follow. We have to toe the line,” Tiangco said. He said he believed Aquino “should take the lead” in abolishing the pork barrel appropriations. Rep. Neri Colmenares repeated her appeal to Aquino to give up his pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund. “The House and the Senate are pushing to abolish the pork [barrel]. The President is the only one left standing,” Colmenares said. “With him having the largest pork, he should also say he is letting go of it.” Rep. Antonio Tinio praised Binay “for responding to the clamor of the times.” “This puts even more pressure on the President to follow suit and give up his presidential fund,” Tinio said.
Meanwhile, Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, an Aquino ally, on Wednesday asked Aquino to ensure that appropriate cases were filed against those involved in the P10billion pork barrel scam. Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora said the government should be able to file an airtight case against officials like Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada. Binay’s pork barrel this year amounts to P416.6-million plus P85 million for “subsidies and donations.” P100 million of his pork barrel next year are to be used to finance “soft projects” and the other P100 million to finance “hard projects.” Binay said the removal of his P200-million appropriation next year would affect some of his projects, which includes college scholarships for poor students and medical assistance to indigent patients. But he said he knew that the public would understand his decision. With Maricel V. Cruz http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/09/12/binay‐gives‐up‐pork‐in‐vp‐budget/
Senate bill for 2016 Sanggunian Kabataan polls a go By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Posted 9 hours ago | 229 views
The Senate on Tuesday approved on second reading a measure of Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos to reset this year’s Sangguniang Kabataan elections which the poll body said lacked funding. Senate Bill 1186, entitled, “An Act to Postpone the Sangguniang Kabataan Elections on October 28, 2013, Amending for the Purpose Section 1 of Republic Act 9340, and for Other Purposes,” was approved with one amendment. Marcos, chairman of the Senate local government committee and sponsor of the bill, amended line 3, section 3, by inserting after the word “necessary” the phrase “to implement this act” and deleting the phrase “to implement this act” on line 4. Section 3 now reads: “The Commission on Elections and the Department of the Interior and Local Government shall promulgate rules and regulations necessary to implement this Act within thirty (30) days after its effectivity.” Last September 4, Marcos sponsored on the Senate floor Committee Report 1, the first committee report in the current 16th Congress, urging immediate approval of Senate Bill 1186. In pushing for a new poll date, he cited increasing disappointment over youth leaders becoming politicized and susceptible to malpractice.dishonest practices “As a result, there are strong clamor from different sectors of the society calling for the restructuring and in-depth evaluation of the SK, and institute reforms,” he said. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes on Tuesday said the SK and Barangay elections would require spending P2.3 billion. “We have no budget for that. It would be logical (to conduct SK) in October 2016,” he said, adding that he asked Malacañang to certify as urgent Marcvo’s Senate Bill 1186.
“The consensus is to postpone it. There is no achievements and performance, it’s just a waste of money and becoming a breeding ground for graft and corruption,” said Brillantes. “If the barangay functioned without SK, we will try to work for its abolition.” Voting 11-1, the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms passed Tuesday the measure resetting the SK elections to the last Monday of October 2016. With Joel Zurbano http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/09/12/senate‐bill‐for‐2016‐sanggunian‐kabataan‐ polls‐a‐go/
Only Aquino can resolve Zambo crisis By Emil Jurado | Posted 9 hours ago | 677 views 3
It is best to rewind and analyze the events leading up to the crisis engulfing Zamboanga City, now that Nur Misuari’s Moro National Liberation Front has attacked coastal barangays there. In response, the military and the police have sent an elite force of 1,500. For one thing, President Aquino has completely ignored Misuari and his group by undertaking that Framework Peace Agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which broke away from the MNLF. Palace insiders may insist this is not true, but we know they are lying through their teeth. Worse, Malacañang has started to terminate the 1996 peace accord between the government and the MNLF. The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will also be dissolved through the peace agreement with the MILF. The Palace also gave the impression that it believed Misuari was a spent force. The standoff in Zamboanga City can only get worse unless President Aquino sits down with Misuari. The problem of President Aquino is that he is relying on his peace advisers who are clueless about the history, culture and tradition of the Muslims in Mindanao. Experts have warned President Aquino that he may be disenfranchising the other stakeholders by talking to only one group—the MILF—in achieving peace and development in Mindanao. He has refused to listen. Now he is learning the hard way —and at the expense of Filipinos in Zamboanga! ***
The standoff in Zamboanga cannot just be entrusted to Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin to resolve. President Aquino must step in because the buck stops at his desk. At the rate Mar is going, he is self-destructing. Note that Mar has been very visible lately. He was there in the aftermath of the Serendra explosion, said to be have been caused by a gas leak. President Aquino also put him in charge of the relocation and housing of squatters. This, despite the fact that housing is the responsibility of Vice President Jojo Binay. Then, came the surrender of Janet Lim Napoles. Mar practically became her caregiver. Mar’s role made people believe that Malacañang truly wants to handle Napoles with kid gloves for some reason or another. Mar’s handling of the Zamboanga City crisis will make or break him. *** Newspapers have come out with the names of three senators- Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla- to be included in the plunder case against Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the P10-billion pork barrel scam. Whistleblowers have tagged Napoles as the brains of that multi-billion peso scam with the identified senators channeling their annual pork barrel allotments to Napoles’ ghost organizations. The plunder case assumes conspiracy between Napoles and the senators. Lawyers must know this will be very difficult to prove. While the plunder case against Napoles is airtight, I doubt whether the Department of Justice or the Ombudsman can pin down the senators. Their participation in that scam was simply to identify the projects where their pork barrel allotments would go. It was still the line agencies and the people who released the funds who made it all possible. The problem is that with the involvement of the three senators in the Napoles pork barrel scam, they have already been perceived as corrupt.
There’s also this perception that the Aquino administration is targeting Enrile, Estrada and Revilla since they are members of the opposition. There is an alleged Grand Plan to demonize the opposition in the wake of the 2016 presidential elections. It’s close to impossible for Malacañang and Congress to placate the people, who have risen in outrage and indignation against the pork barrel system in any form. *** As a Filipino now in his sunset years, I take note of the mounting protest of the people against pork barrel. I am also saddened by what is happening in Zamboanga. I truly wonder whether I can see in my lifetime how the government can address poverty, hunger and unemployment. No less than three million Filipinos are now unemployed. Only the entry of more foreign investments can get rid of unemployment. And only more jobs can solve poverty and hunger. The problem however is that the President cannot see the need in changing at least the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/09/12/only‐aquino‐can‐resolve‐zambo‐crisis/
House okays P2.3t nat’l budget By Maricel Cruz | Posted 9 hours ago | 186 views
The House committee on appropriations on Wednesday approved the proposed P2.268-trillion national budget for 2014, with the legislators’ priority development assistance funds or pork barrel allocations being re-channeled to specific government agencies. Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, the committee chairman, said the panel decided to allocate the P25.2 billion pork barrel, or 1.2 percent of the national budget, to the following agencies: Department of Education (5 percent), Commission on Higher Education (10 percent), Department of Public Works and Highways (35 percent), Department of Labor and Employment (15 percent), Department of Health (15 percent) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (15 percent). Ungab said the items falling under the Department of Public Works and Highways will be itemized during the third and final reading. “We don’t have the power to recommend and to submit projects, but we can propose projects,” said Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, the vice chairman of the appropriations committee. Ungab said the “Division was based on absorptive capacity of each agency.” “DPWH has the biggest absorptive capacity because they have a good network throughout the provinces and region,” Ungab said. The approval of the 2014 budget came after more than a month of debates on it. Earlier, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said congressmen and senators could still have access to their pork barrel funds as they would be the ones proposing projects for their constituents. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/09/12/house‐okays‐p2‐3t‐natl‐budget/
Rice import mess: Lawyer taunts NFA-DA for turning a blind eye By Rey E. Requejo | Posted 9 hours ago | 241 views
Lawyer Argee Guevarra, who exposed the half-billion-peso scam in the Vietnam rice importation deal, assailed officials of the Department of Agriculture and National Food Authority for turning a blind eye to the anomalous transaction. Guevarra said he was prepared to face the officials of the Agriculture Department and National Food Authority in a congressional inquiry on Thursday before the House committee on food security. He slammed NFA Deputy Administrator Ludovico Jarina for issuing a denial statement last week belying the lawyer’s accusations. Guevarra said that “Jarina’s plain denial is swallowed by the public with a grain of salt amid spiraling rice prices”. “Let us disabuse ourselves from this blanket and default defense that all criticisms directed at government officials are politically motivated smear campaigns. This is plain squid tactic,” the lawyer said. “The DA and NFA should start talking in terms of verifiable facts and figures, especially when they undergo grilling before the Lower House, where their anomalous importations and corrupt practices have taken them, first with Napoles pork and now, this MOLSO Rice,” the lawyer stressed. Jarina last week dismissed Guevarra’s allegation of P457 million overpricing in its April 2013 rice importation as a “smear campaign hatched by groups opposed to reforms being implemented within the NFA.” “What reforms is he talking about? Does he refer to the ‘reform’ of monopolizing the country’s importation of rice so they can assume the role of a public sector Mafia that maintains a stranglehold on the people’s daily staple? Why import overpriced rice when NFA insiders admit that the NFA hasn’t even finished
unloading its 2008 rice stock? It seems that that the GMA-era Mafia in the NFA has either burrowed itself deep into the NFA infrastructure or the racket was simply hijacked by a new set of rice profiteers masquerading as “reformist” bureaucrats.” The lawyer also disputed Jarina’s defense that 18,700 metric tons (MT) of the total 205,700 MT importation was “authorized” under the so-called MOLSO (more or less at supplier’s option) provision of the NFA’s government-to-government contract with Vietnam. “If this is the case, MOLSO should just be introduced into the market as MOLSO Rice: More-Or-Less Still Overpriced,” Guevarra lamented. “And I have the documents to prove so, from the NFA Administrator Orlando Calayag’s talking points with the Vietnamese Ambassador where he admitted that this so-called MOLSO was not covered by the Tax Expenditure Subsidy (TES) of the DOF (Department of Finance), and that it will be a violation of existing Philippine Accounting and Auditing rules and regulations, to a letter signed by Jarina himself admitting that the NFA Council had not, at the time of the transaction, approved the additional 18,700 MT under this MOLSO,” he added. As to the NFA’s claim that it has saved the country nearly a hundred million pesos as their transaction included handling and freight costs, Guevarra had this to say: “There will still be a $100 difference, the minimum export price (MEP) of Vietnam being $365 per MT; and even assuming their claim that the price of their imported rice was inclusive of handling and delivery, the handling of goods from Philippine ports to the NFA warehouses costs only $22 per MT while the vessel freight cost amounts to no more than $25 per MT. Doing the math, NFA still has to explain the missing $36.74 per MT.” http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/09/12/rice‐import‐mess‐lawyer‐taunts‐nfa‐da‐for‐ turning‐a‐blind‐eye/
BIR bucks CP Foods’ perks By Jennifer Ambanta | Posted 9 hours ago | 264 views
The Bureau of Internal Revenue said Wednesday it is in favor of stripping CP Foods, the local unit of Thailand’s agro-industrial giant Charoen Pokphand Foods Public Company, of its tax incentives. BIR Commissioner Kim Jacinto Henares said agro-industrial businesses should not qualify for tax perks, because incentives should only be extended to exportoriented enterprises and pioneer investors. ���We already have domestic players, so CP [is] no longer qualified for a pioneer status. If they [CP] are going to take advantage of the domestic market, the only question we need to answer is, do we have an existing industry here?” Henares asked. CP Foods operates animal farming and manufactures food products from meat in Thailand, Vietnam, China and India. The BoI granted CP Foods a four-year income tax holiday for its swine project and a six-year income tax holiday for the poultry farm, on top of duty-free importation of capital equipment. The company, however, is required to pay the compulsory 12-percent value-added tax. Henares said tax incentives should be given only to companies whose finished products are shipped for exports. “We should give incentives only to exporters who export finished or semi-finished products. If you’re investing because you want to take advantage of the domestic market, you should only give incentives to pioneer companies that come and set up,” she said. CP Foods’ integrated poultry production project in Central Luzon enjoys income tax holidays for six years, after the Board of Investments granted the company “pioneer status.” Henares, however, said tax incentives or tax breaks should not be extended for more than five years.
Local hog and poultry raisers, including the National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc., earlier criticized BOI’s grant of fiscal incentives to CP Foods. Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima earlier said incentive-giving bodies should not grant tax perks to industries that were already mature and viable, as it distorted the program’s main purpose of bringing more benefits to the Filipino people. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/09/12/bir‐bucks‐cp‐foods‐perks/
Two foreign insurance firms eye PH By Jennifer Ambanta | Posted 9 hours ago | 157 views
Two foreign insurance companies are investing in the Philippines, following the passage of the new Insurance Code, Insurance Commissioner Emmanuel Dooc said Wednesday. Dooc said the two interested companies included a Japanese firm that wanted to acquire a local life insurance company and a Hong Kong-based insurer that was preparing documents to apply for a license to operate in the country. “Last week, we had a visitor who will definitely invest here. They are in fact working on the requirements and pretty soon, they will give us the application to operate,” Dooc said, referring to the Hong Kong-based company. Sun Life Financial Philippines president and chief executive Riza Mantaring said the entry of more foreign companies in the industry would enhance competition among insurers. “Competition is good when it forces companies to be better, offer better products and services, and be more efficient, innovative,” Mantaring said. Mantaring said the Filipino consumers would benefit the most from the entry of more foreign insurance companies, although some local companies might not be able to survive the competition. “We may see a shakeout in the industry ahead, if some companies are unable to keep up,” she said. Dooc said the new Insurance Code, or Republic Act No. 10607, encouraged foreign investments in the local insurance industry. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/09/12/two‐foreign‐insurance‐firms‐eye‐ph/
Veterans Bank elects president By MST Business | Posted 9 hours ago | 112 views
The board of Philippine Veterans Bank’s headed by chairman Roberto de Ocampo elected Joey Bermudez as the new bank president as a part of the plan to revitalize the medium-sized commercial financial institution and turn it into a major player in the banking industry. A veteran banker who has been in the banking industry for almost three decades, Bermudez was the former president and chief executive of Chinatrust (Philippines) Inc., the local subsidiary of Taiwan’s biggest privately-owned commercial bank. He held key positions at Philippine Savings Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and Philippine Commercial International Bank (now BDO). “He [Bermudez] will have a crucial role in turning the bank into a major player in the industry. Innovations in consumer finance and commercial lending, as acknowledged by his peers, are some of the values that Joey brings to the organization. He is credited with having built from zero an industry-leading consumer finance business, and for having transformed another institution from a purely corporate and commercial lender into a major player in mortgage loans, auto loans, and small/medium-enterprise lending,” De Ocampo said in a statement. “I am honored and privileged to accept the appointment to say the least. Along with this, I recognize that the toughest challenge now for me as leader of this institution is to establish a solid reputation for growth, and build the bank into a truly lasting legacy to the nation and succeeding generations,” Bermudez said. Bermudez served as president of the Management Association of the Philippines in 2009. “I will definitely capitalize on my experience to make PVB a gamechanger,” he said. Bermudez holds a master’s degree in Business Economics and a bachelor’s degree in Commerce, major in Accountancy. A certified public accountant, he is a recipient of an outstanding alumnus award from his collegiate alma mater.
He attended the Pacific Rim Bankers Program of the University of Washington. Philippine Veterans Bank is a private medium-sized commercial bank owned by 385,000 Filipino World War II veterans and their families. The bank caters to both corporate and retail financial markets, and is also an authorized government depository. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/09/12/veterans‐bank‐elects‐president/
COA finds management flaws at carabao center September 11, 2013 5:16 pm
The Commission on Audit (COA) noted discrepancies in the way the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) was managing its animals, which were worth P440.2 million. The government auditors said that a 10th of the 2,326 carabaos had no ear tags which suggests that the PCC does not technically own the animals. COA said 213 female Brazilian buffaloes, each worth P191,527.81, did not have plastic ear tag and notches, which are used for a unified identification system, pedigree tracing in case of disease outbreak and research and breeding purposes. Different cooperatives owned the carabaos, which were worth a total of P40.7 million. Farmer-beneficiaries said the tags got lost, were not available or could not attached to the buffaloes because they went wild. COA said the number of tag-less buffaloes rose by 65 percent, from 129 in 2011 to 213 in 2012. Of the 213 animals, 25 already were not tagged in its previous audit observation, COA added. “We could deduce that last year’s recommendation to see to it that all dairy buffaloes are applied with ear tags is not fully implemented,” the commission said. It also found that 44 carabaos were transferred from the original farmer-beneficiaries to other members of their cooperative. COA asked the new recipients for details on the livestock they received, which could only be verified from the contract. The new owners said they never got the contracts, but they signed the transfer of ownership for the 44 carabaos, amounting to P8.4 million. The new owners have no replacement of contract yet, two owners had their contracts mixed up, others transferred the animals to others without informing the PCC, and some papers were being still processed at the National Impact Zone. Other farmer-beneficiaries already died and simply passed onto their wives the ownership of the animals. “Hence, new recipients cannot be held liable in case of non-compliance to the contractual provisions,” COA said. The commission also said that 45 buffaloes were not in the areas specified in the contracts because they were transferred to other locations.
A count of breeding stocks disclosed that 45 buffaloes amounting to P8.6 million dispersed to farmer-recipients were not in the location stated in the contract. The auditors found that the carabaos were transferred to areas where they can graze and forage for grass. An attached agency of the Department of Agriculture, the PCC was established to conserve, propagate and promote the carabao as a source of draft animal power, meat, milk, and hide for the benefit of rural farmers. It has a network of 13 centers in the Philippines. JOHN CONSTANTINE G. CORDON http://www.manilatimes.net/coa‐finds‐management‐flaws‐at‐carabao‐center/38819/
More protests to deal death blow to pork September 11, 2013 10:06 pm by Robertzon F. Ramirez And Jing Villamente Reporters
PHOTO OP OR OLD FRIENDS? After denying that he knew any of the Napoleses, a photo in Instagram showing President Benigno Aquino 3rd with blogger- socialite Jeane Napoles—daughter of the suspected mastermind of the pork barrel scam— forced Malacañang to clarify the Chief Executive’s statement. The Palace claims that the young Napoles happened to be present at a function where the President was the guest of honor, and she wanted a souvenir photo with Aquino. MORE protest actions are being scheduled that will deal the death blow to the pork barrel, Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez said on Wednesday. Iñiguez, who attended the Edsa Tayo rally at the Edsa Shrine in Quezon City, said “more demonstrations and media campaigns” are in the offing, and he called on more Filipinos to get involved. Hundreds gathered at the Edsa Shrine to protest the pork barrel, unaffected by an earlier Supreme Court ruling stopping Congress from further disbursing their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Wednesday’s rally was hyped as a sequel to the August 26 “Million People March” at Rizal Park in Manila. On September 19, overseas Filipino workers (OFW) from 23 countries all over the world will not send remittances to the Philippines as a form of protest. They dubbed it Zero Remittance Day (ZRD). According to organizers, by not sending their remittances, the migrant workers will send a strong message that their money is not meant to “feed corrupt officials”. Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairman, said “Zero Remittance Day for Zero Pork” is the answer of overseas Filipinos to the call of the Church to fight corruption and social injustice. The Movement Against Dynasty (MAD) will organize a demonstration on Sept. 21, also in Rizal Park, where they would give President Benigno Aquino 3rd a 120-day “Christmas” countdown to accomplish their four advocacies. Edgar Bacungan, one of the organizers, said they were challenging the President to swiftly act on the issue of political dynasty and corruption; pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill; scrap the pork barrel
system, and the R-I-P or the rectification, inquisition, prosecution of the legislators involved in the pork scam. “If the President is not able to act on our advocacies, he should expect more demonstrations,” Bacungan warned. Iñiguez stressed that their battle against the pork barrel will not stop even with the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court. “We will not stop … the battle will continue and we should even dig deeper to know the truth behind the pork barrel scam,” Iniguez said. At the same time, he described the prayer vigil at the Edsa Shrine as “people empowerment” after thousands attended. “We are very, very happy with the presence of these people. This is empowerment of the people, citizen’s awareness, and consciousness awakening,” he said. Edsa Shrine rector Father Nilo Mangusad, in his homily during the Mass, said that people should be vigilant not for revenge, but for enlightenment. “Vigilance is very important in the life of the people, just only by keeping watch, but paying close attention, understanding and being enlightened,” he said. “Being vigilant is also being pro-active,” he added. Jail all Also on Wednesday, militant groups Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Sanlakas and the Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod (KPML) added their voices to the mounting rage over the PDAF scam. They demanded the imprisonment of all those implicated in the anomaly. The BMP believes that the entire current political system is rotten to the very core. “It is TRAPO [traditional politics] in turn that has allowed the continued and unmitigated plunder of the coffers of the Filipino people while the large majority of the toiling masses have been kept in poverty and misery. Enough with TRAPO politics! We must carry forward the momentum of the people’s protests and actions towards a system overhaul,” said BMP Chairman Leody de Guzman. “The implication of certain officials in the Departments of Agriculture, Budget and Management and other implementing agencies such as the National Agribusiness Corporation under the Executive branch shows that this system has bred an organized mafia that conspired to rob hardworking Filipinos of a decent life. They must all languish in prison,” de Guzman said. Anthony Barnedo, regional Secretary-General of KPML National Capital Region and Rizal chapter, said that now that Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the massive misuse of the pork barrel, is detained and awaiting trial, the wheels of justice must turn swiftly. Barnedo found it “lamentable that exactly two weeks today since her supposed surrender to President Aquino, the Department of Justice and the Philippine National Police has not filed a single case out of the more than 10 billion peso pork barrel scam.”
Bank exposure to real estate manageable September 11, 2013 8:31 pm by Mayvelin U. Caraballo Reporter Bank’s real estate exposure (REE) remains manageable as it stood at P824.6 billion in March this year, up by 2.5 percent compared to the bank’s REE in December 2012, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed on Wednesday. The REE of universal, commercial and thrift banks refers to the sum of real estate loans and investments in real estate securities. The BSP data noted that the slight increase in REE was brought by the 1.7-percent increase in bank’s real estate loans (RELs). RELs extended by banks in March grew to P715.5 billion from P703.2 billion at end2012. RELs constitute 85 percent of bank’s REE. The data added that about 78 percent of RELs are residential in nature and are used to finance the acquisition, construction and improvement of housing units. “The exposure of banks to such residential RELs [RRELs] remains manageable as the nonperforming portion was only 4 percent of RRELs in March,” the BSP stated. The data also showed a 7-percent rise in banks’ investments in securities sold by real estate firms to P127. 1 billion in March from P118.5 billion in December last year. Real estate investments represent the remaining 15 percent of the banks REE. “Internal simulations on credit impairment using March 2013 data indicated that the industry’s capital adequacy ratio will remain well above the 10-percent minimum even with a simulated 50-percent write down in REEs,” it said. REE covers loans to developers of socialized and low-cost housing, loans to individuals, loans supported by nonrisk collaterals or the Home Guarantee Corp. guarantee, as well as investments in securities to finance real estate activities and exposures by bank trust departments. “The comprehensive monitoring of bank’s REE is in line with the financial stability initiatives of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. In particular, the BSP is continuously evaluating credit condition in the banking industry to avoid the potential impairment of intermediation,” the central bank said. http://www.manilatimes.net/bank‐exposure‐to‐real‐estate‐manageable/38930/
New BSP rule seeks to strengthen rural banks’ IT risk management September 11, 2013 8:30 pm The Monetary Board (MB), the policy-making body of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), recently issued a resolution that will enhance the risk management facility of rural banks in the face of the everevolving world of technology. Under Resolution 1286, the MB approved the issuance of the enhanced Information Technology Risk Management (ITRM) framework, which updates existing IT-related Guidelines in Sections X176 and X705 of the Manual of Regulations for Banks (MORB). Apart from all types of banks, the resolution shall likewise cover nonbank financial institutions, electronic money issuers and other nonbank entities that are subject to BSP supervision and/or regulation. Consistent with international standards and best practices, the enhanced ITRM framework is expected to strengthen management of risks, security of operations and governance on IT-related activities, as well as reinforce regulations on consumer protection on electronic products and service, by tackling the growing number of new and sophisticated technological threats. In addition, the salient features of the ITRM include adoption of well-structured IT governance model and processes that ensure alignment of IT strategic plan with the institution’s business strategy, IT value delivery and effective IT risk management implementation; maintenance of risk identification and assessment process to continuously evaluate IT environment and potential changes; and establishment of overall IT risk mitigation strategy. The framework likewise provides direction on the adoption of cloud computing for rural banks. The provision of cloud computing services pertains to the delivery of software, infrastructure and storage over the Internet based on user demand.The Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines—through its technical arm—the Rural Bankers Research and Development Foundation Inc. (RBRDFI) has been conducting workshops on risk management and financial indicator analysis to assist rural banks in developing comprehensive risk management practices, policies and strategies. Through these workshops, rural banks are provided with the necessary tools for the evaluation and monitoring of their financial and operational performance on a bank-wide basis. According to the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp., 611 rural banks have little or no integrated computerized systems for their core banking processes, 413 have simple systems, 96 have a semicomplex to complex system and 102 have no system at all. Currently, a Uniform Core Banking System is being eyed for rural banks that would improve their risks management and monitoring of transactions. Regulators see the facility as improving the accuracy and timeliness of bank reports, the coordination among bank branches and long-term cost savings.Should the initiative pushes through, a more modernized and upgraded rural banking system is soon to rise. http://www.manilatimes.net/new‐bsp‐rule‐seeks‐to‐strengthen‐rural‐banks‐it‐risk‐management/38924/
NEDA: Majority of jobless lack competency, experience September 11, 2013 8:28 pm by Kristyn Nika M. Lazo Reporter Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said that a majority of the unemployed under the labor force were “young people who lack competency and experience.” In the July 2013 Labor Force Survey released by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) on Tuesday, most unemployed persons were under ages 15 to 24, or 49 percent of the total 3 million unemployed Filipinos, followed by ages 25 to 54 having 47-percent share of the unemployed. In terms of educational attainment received, job seekers who are high school graduates also account for the highest in the unemployed rate, taking 44-percent share of the unemployed. This was followed by college graduates equating to 35 percent of the total. Balisacan, who is also the NEDA chief, noted that because of the volatile labor market and the perception of the people that the country’s growth translates to employment, instances such as workers being laid off in place by the new ones, new entrants to the labor force surging, and people shifting jobs do happen and is, in fact, “natural.” “There’s such thing as ‘natural unemployment rate.’ At any given point in time, even if the economy is in full capacity, these are people shifting jobs or just waiting and see until they get a better offer,” Balisacan said. As of July this year, unemployment rose to 7.3 percent, compared to the 7 percent the same time last year. Employment rates also went down to 92.7 percent from the 93 percent last year. But Balisacan said this only because of the sudden surge of Filipinos entering the labor market. “The confidence that we create in economy also expands the participation of people to get into the market. Once you don’t create enough jobs, more than these people coming in, then unemployment and underemployment can actually increase even though the economy is doing good in generating and raising income of people,” the NEDA chief said. “According to the experiences of emerging economies, that is observed. The implication to us is that we don’t expect initial unemployment and under to drop sharply with economic growth because that’s not the case,” he added. He also said that in the current revision of the Philippine Development Plan toward 2016, the target for unemployment would be at 6.5 percent, while underemployment is forecasted at 15 percent from the 19.2 percent in July 2013—which is an “ambition” as underemployment improved to 19 percent recently from the over 20-percent rates the past few months. The number of total employed Filipinos increased to 41.2 million July this year, compared to the 40.4 million in 2012.
Disappointing turnout for Edsa Tayo September 11, 2013 10:21 pm Even when the organizers of yesterday’s Edsa Tayo prayer rally had lowered their expectations, the meager turnout estimated at 900 was still extremely disappointing. This is because the targeted number of participants was 5,000. Their declaration that “around 5,000” actually attended was stretching the truth to its extreme limits, to say the least. So what went wrong with the rally? In a word, plenty. The afternoon before, a sudden heavy rainfall turned caused traffic in main thoroughfares like Edsa, Quezon Avenue and Espana to grind to a halt. Weather reports said that more rains could be expected over Metro Manila yesterday. Certainly a sufficient number of anti-pork activists might have gone had the expected weather been friendlier. More importantly, Edsa today is far different from the Edsa of 1986. Not only is it a much busier thoroughfare, there is also the Metro Rail Transit or MRT occupying the middle of its entire stretch, and which has become one of the most important means of public transport in all of Metro Manila. Calling for an Edsa gathering is not as attractive now as it was decades ago, and motorists do not relish the thought of parts of the country’s busiest thoroughfare being closed for a few hours in order to accommodate some rallyists. Furthermore, the Edsa Tayo prayer rally could not bring the same tens of thousands who trooped to the Luneta for the Million People March of Aug. 26 because the date reminded too many people that it was the birth date of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Thus, attending may have been misconstrued as some form of support for Marcos and his martial law regime. On Friday, this week, yet another anti-pork mass gathering is scheduled to be held. By all indications, it will be a youth-led event. Organizers should not expect a huge turnout there either. This is not to say that the cause being espoused is not valid. It is. The Filipino people remain shellshocked at the extent that the pork barrel allocations of senators and congressmen have been misused, misappropriated, and generally pocketed by one “businesswoman” and the ghost non-government organizations that she put up. But since suspected mastermind Janet Lim Napoles is already behind bars, the public anger may have abated somewhat. That anger is not expected to resurface unless the people feel that a gross miscarriage of justice is forthcoming. For as long as the wheels of justice are seen to continue
moving, no matter how slowly, chances of an Edsa-type revolt are considered slim, if not non-existent. There may, however, be a lull after the Supreme Court this week issued a temporary restraining order against releasing the Priority Development Assistance Fund of the senators and congressmen. In the weeks and months to come, we can expect more mass actions calling for an end to pork barrel. The number of attendees may not matter as much as the fact that this is an issue that will not fade into the background, nor be buried in the inside pages of the newspapers. For the occasional good that it did to some NGOs and some individuals, pork barrel is an idea whose time has come and gone. http://www.manilatimes.net/disappointing‐turnout‐for‐edsa‐tayo/39033/
PNP PREPARES FOR BARANGAY AND SK ELECTIONS September 11, 2013 8:28 pm by ANTHONY VARGAS THE Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday makes preparation for the coming Barangay and Sangguniang Elections even as the House of Representative voted for the postponement of the said elections. PNP Public Information chief, Sr. Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac said that among the strict security measures to be laid out by the PNP is the strict implementation of a 45-day long nationwide gunban. “The nationwide gunban period that will be in effect from September 28, 2013 until November 12, 2013 or 30 before and 15 days after the October 28 polls,” Sindac said in a statement. http://www.manilatimes.net/pnp‐prepares‐for‐barangay‐and‐sk‐elections/38918/
DEFER SK POLLS PROPOSAL PASSED ON 2ND READING September 11, 2013 8:28 pm by JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA The Senate on has approved on second reading the proposed measure seeking postpone the scheduled Sangguniang Kabataan elections this October. With only one committee amendment, Senate bill 1186, proposed by Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., made it to the second reading Tuesday afternoon and is scheduled for the final reading next week. Marcos, chair of the Senate local government committee, amended line 3, section 3 of the bill, by inserting after the word “necessary” the phrase “to implement this act” and deleting the phrase “to implement this act” on line 4. http://www.manilatimes.net/defer‐sk‐polls‐proposal‐passed‐on‐2nd‐reading/38915/
BIR against incentives for agribusiness firm September 11, 2013 8:24 pm The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is opposing the tax incentive granted to a local unit of Thai agribusiness firm, Charoen Pokphand Foods Philippines Corp. (CP Foods). BIR Commissioner Kim Henares said that only domestic export-producers are qualified to benefit from tax incentives, but not agribusinesses like CP Foods. “We already have domestic players, so CP Foods is no longer qualified for a pioneer status. If they are going to take advantage of the domestic market, the only question we need to answer is, do we have an existing industry here?” she said. “We should give incentives only to exporters who export finished or semi-finished products. If you’re investing because you want to take advantage of the domestic market, you should only give incentives to pioneer companies that come and set up,” the commissioner added. CP Foods is enjoying “income tax holidays for six years” after the Board of Investments (BOI) upgraded the company’s undertaking to “pioneer status.” The company, a local unit of the Thai Charoen Pokphand Foods Public Co., is a food production firm. Henares said that once a company is given pioneer status, that doesn’t mean that it should get tax breaks exceeding five years. She added that the government gives “unnecessary” tax perks to some establishments to “become attractive and profitable to foreign investors.” Local hog and poultry raisers, including the National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc., have been criticizing BOI’s grant of fiscal incentives to CP Foods. However, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima earlier said that incentive-giving bodies should not grant tax perks to industries that are mature and viable, as it distorts the program’s main purpose of bringing more benefits to the Filipino people. The Finance department is currently seeking Congress’ approval for the rationalization of fiscal incentives bill that aims to remove of tax- and duty-free privileges that are deemed “redundant.” Raadee S. Sausa and Kristyn Nika M. Lazo http://www.manilatimes.net/bir‐against‐incentives‐for‐agribusiness‐firm/38901/
Posted on September 11, 2013 11:33:46 PM By Bettina Faye V. Roc, Reporter
Simplified fiscal regime pushed by miners
A MINING INDUSTRY group is pushing for a simplified fiscal regime as the government continues to thresh out a new revenue-sharing scheme. “The Chamber has the position that the government must develop a single fiscal regime, one that’s applicable to both MPSA (mineral production sharing agreement) and FTAA (financial or technical assistance agreement),” said Justin Hillier, executive vice-president of Sagittarius Mines, Inc., in a presentation at the Mining Philippines 2013 Conference and Exhibition yesterday. He was tasked to talk about the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines’ (CoMP) stand regarding the Aquino government’s move to raise its share of industry revenues. “There are variations in each of these [existing] regimes. The benefit of making just one regime is that of simplicity,” Mr. Hillier told reporters separately on the sidelines of the event. “Whether a mine is majority-owned by foreigners or local investors, there would be just one regime being followed.” MPSAs, under the Mining Act of 1995, are granted to firms with at least 60% local ownership. They are subject to a 2% excise tax based on the actual market value of gross mineral output. The companies also need to pay regular taxes such as corporate income, real property and local business taxes, among others. MPSAs for areas in mineral reservations are subject to an additional 5% royalty. FTAAs, meanwhile, are the only arrangements that permit 100% foreign ownership and are subject to a 50-50 revenue-sharing agreement. Their share includes all regular taxes and other fees. If -- based on these payments -- the total government share of earnings does not reach 50%, the miner must remit an additional amount. Mr. Hillier said that while the country remained attractive because of its rich mineral potential, policies such as the varied revenue-sharing arrangements are “globally
uncompetitive.” “A single fiscal regime would be easier to implement and would be better for the industry,” he claimed, adding that this should also be progressive -- based on net profits rather than gross output. “The government should realize that there are years when firms don’t earn. Any royalty on revenue is considered regressive -- it means the miner doesn’t have to make a profit to pay the specified share,” Mr. Hillier said. Citing an International Monetary Fund study, Mr. Hillier said the government share of revenues under both MPSAs and FTAA was high. “The average government share paid by companies in the Philippines far exceeds the share paid by firms in less developed countries, which is at about 62% of their net income,” he said. “Depending on the regime, the government share here comes in at about 80% or above -- putting many firms under water.” The new fiscal regime must be internationally competitive to encourage investments, he said, noting that “Compared to other international regimes, the regime in the Philippines is very complex in terms of number of different taxes and royalties that the mine needs to administer and also for the government to administer.” While declining to specify the CoMP’s preferred rate, Mr. Hillier said discussions with the Mining Industry Coordinating Council -- the government body tasked to draft the new fiscal regime pursuant to Executive Order 79 -- were “ongoing.��� “The CoMP has put forward its recommendation and arguments and what it believes the share should be,” he said.
Posted on September 11, 2013 11:33:19 PM
Central banks await Fed move
SEOUL -- As global markets tremble in Federal Reserve will decide next week monetary stimulus, four central banks very different comfort levels are likely at policy meetings today.
anticipation that the US to begin tapering its in the Asia-Pacific region with to hold interest rates steady
Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea and New Zealand have all been buffeted since May, when the Fed first hinted that it could finally begin calling time on the easy money go-round that has lasted almost five years. “Some markets were treated overly harshly during the latest sell-off,” HSBC Global Research said in a note to clients on Monday. The reasons given for being more discerning included stabilizing growth in China, an upturn in the global industrial cycle, and some expectation that the region will prove less sensitive to rising interest rates resulting from the Fed tapering than has been supposed. “Amid all the talk about the end of the emerging market era ... do you really expect the West to deliver growth rates beating these economies in the near future?” HSBC concluded. Of the countries whose central banks meet today, only Indonesia has looked to be in serious danger. Southeast Asia’s largest economy needs capital inflows to support a current account deficit that was 4.4% of GDP in the second quarter. In contrast, the Philippines, South Korea and New Zealand have come through the past few months in far better shape. They have experienced outflows, but not on a scale to destabilize their markets or economies. If the Fed does as expected by starting a gradual reduction in its bond buying program, higher US Treasury yields could cause more pain for
emerging markets. But it will also remove uncertainty and give these central banks comfort to wait until early next year to begin raising interest rates. Indonesia’s policymakers will await the Fed decision on Sept. 18 with a far greater sense of trepidation. To staunch the outflows and counter the inflationary effects of weak currency, Bank Indonesia raised its key interest rates by a cumulative 125 basis points since June. Majority of economists expect these to stay unchanged at Thursday’s meeting but given the chances that the Fed will roil markets further, several see BI as being forced to raise anew. India has been the most badly hit by the great rotation out of emerging markets because, like Indonesia, Asia’s third-largest economy is running an unsustainable current account deficit and its fiscal deficit is also worryingly high. Reluctant to raise interest rates that could exacerbate a slowdown in economic growth and drive up the cost of state borrowing, the Reserve Bank of India has delayed its policy meeting until two days after the Fed meets. Those without pressing external deficit problems, like South Korea and the Philippines, or healthy economies like New Zealand have weathered the storm far more easily. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has kept its benchmark interest rate at a record-low 3.5% since late last year, and with the economy in a sweet spot of low inflation and strong growth it is under no pressure to change at this stage. The peso has fallen by 7.0% and the stock market’s gains have been wiped out, but the change of wind is not blowing the economy off course and it is expected to grow by 7% this year. “The Philippines has a strong current account surplus, unlike some of its regional peers such as Indonesia, and as such will not find it necessary to raise rates in order to attract inflows to finance an external deficit,” said Michael Wan at Credit Suisse in Singapore. Bank of Korea made a token interest rate cut in May to support a fiscal
stimulus program and has not moved since, although economists reckon its easing cycle has ended. “There’s no reason for (the BOK) to cut the rates further because the economy won’t get worse from here,” said Kim Sang-hoon at Hana Daetoo Securities. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand has kept its overnight cash rate at a record-low 2.5% since early 2011, but rising property prices could push inflation up from current low levels over the coming months. -- Reuters http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=TopStory&title=Central‐banks‐await‐ Fed‐move&id=76366
Posted on September 11, 2013 11:32:53 PM
Reform list bared by business groups
FOREIGN AND LOCAL business groups yesterday released an expanded list of measures they want the government to pass. Building on a list of eight submitted in June, the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) -- along with the Management Association of the Philippines, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Financial Executives of the Philippines, Employers Confederation of the Philippines and the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. -- identified more reforms and measures said necessary to sustain the country’s growth. The JFC’s original list called for approval of the following: • the Competition Policy and Anti-Trust Law; • Customs Modernization and Tariffs Act; • liberalization of the Foreign Investment Negative List; • amendments to the Government Procurement Act of 2003; • fiscal reforms for mining; • rationalization of perks; • incentives transparency and accountability; and • the lifting of foreign ownership restrictions. Added to the list were: • cabotage liberalization; • the Fiscal Responsibility Act; • creation of a Department of Information and Communications Technology; • Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act; • Freedom of Information Act;
• Labor Code reforms; • Land Administration Reform Act; • National Land Use Act; • National Valuation Law; • Sustainable Forest Management Act; • rationalization of the Public Services Act; • Whistle Blowers Protection Act; • a witness protection law; • removal of the common carriers tax and gross Philippine billings tax on freight; • easing of restrictions on foreign professionals; • amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001; • amendments to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas charter; • amendments to the Civil Aviation Authority Act of 2008; • amendments to the Ombudsman Act of 1989; • amendments to the Philippine Ports Authority Charter; • amendments to the Right-of-Way Act of 2000; and • reforms at the Sandiganbayan. “The passage of these business and economic reform laws support more investment and creation of jobs,” said John D. Forbes, senior adviser of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Inc. “We are not deluding ourselves that all bills will be passed in the present Congress. What we would like to see is that the pace of legislation is accelerated,” he added.
Posted on September 11, 2013 10:58:01 PM
Comelec slows down on SK
PREPARATIONS FOR youth council elections will take a back seat in anticipation of a congressional move to defer the polls at a later date, an election official said yesterday.
“Our assessment is that... the House and the Senate will agree on the postponement, most probably the SK (Sangguniang Kabataan) election,” Sixto S. Brillantes, Jr., chairman of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), said in a press conference. “We will be slowing down the work insofar as the SK preparation is concerned,” added the Comelec chief. The Senate approved on second reading Tuesday Senate Bill 1186 authored by Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. which seeks to postpone the SK polls on Oct. 28 and extend the incumbents’ terms by three more years. The SK elections will coincide with the barangay polls. Mr. Brillantes said postponing the elections was the “general consensus” among lawmakers who have, however, yet to agree on the period of postponement and whether the incumbents can stay in their posts or step down when their terms end this year. “Postponement preparatory to abolition,” Mr. Brillantes said, reiterating an earlier position to do away with the SK system. The Comelec, the poll chairman said, is inclined towards “no holdovers” as incumbent SK officials could still access their internal revenue allotment (IRA) share from the barangays. Mr. Brillantes said the barangay system receives 64 billion in IRA from the
national budget, with SK officials having a 10% share. “The SK was not an effective group. The consensus is that they don’t do anything but hold dancing events, basketball and other sporting activities,” Mr. Brillantes said. He said barangay elections will proceed as scheduled. Aside from deferment, proposals in Congress seek to limit the age bracket of SK officials to 17/18-21 years old from the current 15-21, and residency requirement for candidates. -- Mikhail Franz E. Flores http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Comelec‐slows‐down‐on‐ SK&id=76352
Posted on September 11, 2013 10:56:17 PM
Software to ease tax monitoring of doctors
A GROUP of physicians will tap a software system that will ease the monitoring of their member’s taxable income in response to the government’s efforts to streamline tax collection among professionals.
“If approved by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) this system will enable doctors to file their income tax return online using electronic devices already available to them like laptops, desktops, iPhones, etc.,” Philippine Medical Association (PMA) Chairman for BIR Affairs Dr. Oscar Tinio said in a statement yesterday. “The system is user-friendly and will ensure that doctors will be able to pay the correct taxes. Taxes are the lifeblood of our nation and we support all efforts to collect them for patriotism sake and sheer love of our country,” he added. The statement was issued following the BIR’s pronouncement that it will be issuing a directive for doctors, lawyers and other professionals to post their service rates in a prominent place in their clinics and offices. The BIR directive is aimed at promoting transparency and discouraging tax evasion among self-employed professionals, a sector notorious for its tax evaders. The disclosure of rates charged by professionals is expected to aid in tax audits conducted by BIR personnel. VIOLATE ETHICS Speaking before the “PMA Kapihan sa Manila Hotel” media forum, Mr. Tinio said the move to require doctors and medical practitioners to post a tariff of services will violate the PMA code of ethics.
Further, he said the requirement will “degrade the medical profession like a commodity that contradicts it as a vocation that entails sacrifice because our members and all those in the medical profession offers genuine humanitarian service.” “We are doing everything we can to give our share and we are continually coordinating with the BIR so that we can put in place a system that would help government in what it needs concerning collection of taxes,” the PMA chairman said. http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Software‐to‐ease‐tax‐ monitoring‐of‐doctors&id=76348
Posted on September 11, 2013 10:55:44 PM
House committee realigns 25.4-B PDAF to agencies
THE CONTROVERSIAL Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel for next year’s proposed budget has been realigned to five agencies that will implement projects in line with the directive of President Benigno S. C. Aquino III.
The House appropriations committee, after another closed-door meeting, has decided to transfer 25.4 billion in PDAF -- 25.2 for lawmakers and 200 million earmarked for Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay -- to the following agencies. • 9.654 billion (35% of the PDAF) to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for local infrastructure effectively raising the department’s proposed outlay to 162.054 billion; • 4.613 billion (20%) to the Department of Social Welfare and Development raising its budget to 61.013 billion; • 3.691 billion (15%) for education, whereby 2.54 billion will be added to the Commission on Higher Education’s budget of 3.8 billion, and an additional 1.151 billion to the Department of Education’s 293.4-billion proposal; • 3.691 billion (15%) to the Department of Health for hospitalization and assistance to indigent persons increasing its allocation to 63.591 billion; and • an additional 3.691 billion (15%) to the Department of Labor and Employment’s budget of 10.5 billion, raising it to 14.191 billion. “No more PDAF as we know it, it’s already gone. It’s now inside the line agencies,” committee chairman Rep. Isidro T. Ungab (Davao City, 3rd district) told reporters after the meeting. “Itemized na lahat [Everything is itemized]. Hopefully before the second
reading to final reading it will all be itemized,” he added. He explained that the “division was based on absorptive capacity of each agency. The DPWH has the biggest absorptive capacity because they have a good network throughout the provinces and region.” Asked if the congressmen can still propose projects, Mr. Ungab said: “Yes, they can still recommend pero wala nang [but there is no more] discretion, they won’t be holding funds anymore.” The agencies, meanwhile, can turn down recommendations of lawmakers, the congressman said, adding it “depends on persuasion and recommendation, [recommendations] can be accepted or rejected.” Mr. Ungab explained that Mr. Binay’s representative during the budget hearing, “voluntarily said yes” when asked if the Office of the Vice-President (OVP) was willing to give up the PDAF. The committee report was expected to be finished late yesterday and submitted to the committee on rules today for inclusion in Monday’s plenary agenda. SENATE DELIBERATION Meanwhile, the Senate will deliberate on a proposal by the OVP to remove the social services fund which has been considered as PDAF. “Considering it is a huge reduction of the OVP’s budget for the 2014, the proposed amendment is recommended to plenary for its consideration,” said Senator Francis Joseph “Chiz” G. Escudero, finance committee chairman, at yesterday’s budget hearing. The 200-million social services fund in the proposed 417-million budget of the OVP, has been earmarked for senior citizen programs and college scholarships for poor students. Mr. Binay, in a statement read by his chief-of-staff, Undersecretary Benjamin E. Martinez, Jr., said he is willing to scrap the social services fund amid calls to do away with the questionable PDAF.
The social services fund has been part of the annual budget of the OVP since 2011. “We have always itemized the beneficiaries of our 200-million fund. We have identified the 200 LGUs (local government units), the 1,538 student scholars and the recipients of medical equipment that we provide,” Mr. Martinez said. “The CoA (Commission on Audit) has praised our appropriation of this budget but we feel it’s right to remove this under the proper circumstances, without any suspicion of wrongdoing,” he added. Asked if the OVP’s function will be affected by the budget cut, Mr. Martinez said: “Some of our beneficiaries will have to accept deductions but we still have 85 million intended for our subsidy donations for the poor.” He further said that “the 200 million is really for our senior citizens and our student scholars.” -- Kathryn Mae P. Tubadeza with CNP http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=House‐committee‐ realigns‐25.4‐B‐PDAF‐to‐agencies&id=76347
Posted on September 11, 2013 10:58:26 PM
Protest rally hits pork barrel
ABOUT A thousand people staged a street protest yesterday in the second Internet-fueled demonstration in three weeks against alleged large-scale corruption by members of parliament. The rally at a Catholic shrine featured a religious mass to oppose “pork barrel” allocations given to legislators, which protesters condemned as a major source of graft. “We’re just ordinary Filipinos who want to hold a vigil here. We are here to call for the abolition of the pork barrel system,” protest leader Junep Ocampo told AFP. He and a small group of friends had sent out the call for the march via the popular social network Facebook a week ago. Police said the protest drew a thousand people. “We’re surprised at the power of social media. It was just a call: let’s go to Edsa,” Mr. Ocampo told AFP, referring to one of Manila’s main highways, the Epifanio de los Santos Ave. The highway had been the site of huge “people power” street protests that ended the 20-year rule of the late president Ferdinand Marcos that was tainted by allegations of massive corruption and human rights violations. Mr. Ocampo, a journalist, said the march was not aimed at President Benigno S. C. Aquino III, who won a landslide victory in 2010 running on an anti-corruption platform. The President has since pledged to reform the pork barrel system, where legislators nominate hundreds of millions of dollars worth of pet projects every year to be funded by the national budget. Anger started to mount last month following reports that a businesswoman connived with legislators to siphon off some 10 billion from the fund.
The woman, Janet Lim-Napoles, has since been arrested and the government is preparing graft charges against her and some legislators. Yesterday’s street action was the second Internet-driven protest over the pork barrel issue since Aug. 26, when several hundred thousand people joined the largest street protest under Mr. Aquino’s rule. Mr. Aquino had previously expanded the pork barrel fund in his 2014 budget so that each senator would receive 200 million while each congressman would get 70 million. But amid the growing anger, he suspended the release of the funds and has promised a more serious investigation. In addition, the Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a stay order on the release of the remaining pork barrel fund for the year. It also halted disbursements of royalties from a natural gas project. The Department of Budget and Management yesterday said it will abide by the order of the court. “We are not anti-Aquino, we are not anti-government. We are anti-pork barrel,” Mr. Ocampo said. CEBU PROTESTS Meanwhile, a new wave of protest rallies against pork barrel has been scheduled this week in Cebu and Bacolod cities. In Cebu, a rally was set for 6:00 p.m. yesterday at Fuente Osmeña Circle. A similar activity is set for 3:00 p.m. tomorrow in Bacolod. Stella Palomo Monteño, lead organizer for the Fuente Ta! Rally, said the protest is not backed by any politician or political group. “We have been receiving rumors and reports saying that our rally is being backed by Marcos money. We just want it to be clear that this is all spontaneous and we are acting as Filipinos of goodwill,” she said. The rally, which was organized through Facebook and text messages, is a follow-up to the Aug. 26 indignation march and will be more of an information campaign for the benefit of the public on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
“We will have more of a program this time around. We will have PowerPoint presentations shown in Fuente circle on the PDAF issue as well as a signature petition for the total abolition of the PDAF,” Ms. Monteño told BusinessWorld. She said security permits have been secured and the organizers have contacted the Cebu City Police for their assistance in maintaining order during the event. Another protest action, led by the Catholic Church’s Archdiocesan Discernment Group and the Cebu Coalition of Concerned Citizens Against the Pork Barrel System, is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on Sept. 28. Marc Canton, representative of the Movement for a Livable Cebu (MLC) and cocovenor of the coalition, said they will hold a coordination meeting today (Sept. 12). In Bacolod, protesters yesterday urged Mr. Aquino to serve as role model and give up his pork barrel. “The money should instead be allocated for basic social services like education, health, housing and job generation, among others,” said Christian A. Tuayon, secretary-general of Bayan. Roland Ian D. Evidente, Kilusang Mayo Uno-Negros spokesman, urged congressmen in Negros Occidental not to accept their PDAF. The Tipon Negrosanon-Pork Barrel Untaton, a group of concerned Negrenses calling for the abolition of the pork barrel, will also stage a rally at the Bacolod Public Plaza at 3:00 p.m. tomorrow. -- AFP, John Paolo G. Bago and Adrian P. Nemes III
Posted on September 11, 2013 11:07:29 PM
By Daryll Edisonn D. Saclag
Reforms, expansion urged ahead of AEC
THE PHILIPPINES will be able to fully enjoy the benefits of the planned ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2015 if the government simplifies doing business and if companies internationalize, two economists yesterday said.
TAC Applied Economic and Financial Research Chief Executive Officer Thierry Apoteker speaks at the Management Association of the Philippines forum in this Sept. 10 photo. -- Jonathan L. Cellona “The AEC will be highly beneficial for the Philippines, provided two conditions are met: administrative reforms and corporate strategies,” Thierry Apoteker, chief executive officer of TAC Applied Economic and Financial Research, said in an interview yesterday. The AEC calls for the ten-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) transformation into a single market and production base with the free movement of goods, services, labor and capital. Mr. Apoteker said that the AEC will provide a bigger market for the Philippines and encourage more investments and job creation. However, he said that other ASEAN members have business environments that are more attractive than that of the Philippines. This, he noted, should serve as a motivation for the country to implement reforms. “Doing business in Thailand, Indonesia, and even Vietnam, is much easier than the Philippines. It will only take you a few days to start and close a business. How long does it take in the Philippines? Very long,” Mr. Apoteker said.
Thierry Da, TAC senior advisor for Asia, shared the same sentiment and said: “The less administrative steps you have to go through, the less open you are for corruption. Simplify steps for business registration. Remove complexity where you can.” “There is a sense of urgency in implementing reforms since AEC is only two years away. It cannot be done overnight, but it can be done if there is a clear policy direction. If government will do this, the Philippines will be competitive,” Mr. Apoteker said. As for the expected bigger market for the Philippines, he said: “And with a bigger market comes stiffer competition.” For businesses to survive in such a competitive environment, Mr. Apoteker noted, they must know their competitive advantage and their market. “Majority of Filipino companies are still obsessed with the domestic market. They have not looked at expanding beyond the Philippines. They do not know their competitive advantage and do not develop internationalization strategies,” he said. Mr. Apoteker said that a Filipino company can either partner with another Southeast Asian firm or produce locally in that country. “The Philippine is ready for AEC, but it will be better if these two conditions are met,” he said. The ASEAN is composed of the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Myanmar. http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Reforms,‐expansion‐ urged‐ahead‐of‐AEC&id=76360
Posted on September 11, 2013 10:16:23 PM
More shares for sale at food unit
CONGLOMERATE San Miguel Corp. plans to sell up to a quarter of the outstanding shares of its food unit next year in a follow-on offer to raise funds for the group’s expansion, company officials said yesterday.
San Miguel’s President Ramon S. Ang and Chief Financial Officer Ferdinand K. Constantino told Reuters that San Miguel Pure Foods Company, Inc. was expected to end 2013 with double-digit revenue growth, up from 4% growth in the first half, boosted by the strength of the economy. Higher revenues should help San Miguel to sell an additional 25% stake in Pure Foods at a premium to market prices, Mr. Constantino said. San Miguel raised around $150 million last year when it sold a 15% stake in the food unit for P240 apiece. “It should be higher, much higher than that. If we do it next year, it could command a good price,” Mr. Constantino said of the share price. -- Reuters http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Corporate&title=More‐shares‐for‐sale‐ at‐food‐unit&id=76337
Disgruntled forces surface, say ‘crucial decision’ made Written by Tribune
Thursday, 12 September 2013 08:00
ROU SAYS NOYNOY REGIME ‘WEAK, CORRUPT, INSENSITIVE’
Signs of unrest have again manifested in the military ranks as a group which called itself the Reformist Officers United (ROU) issued a manifesto yesterday declaring a stand to “save the country from further ruin and continue the unfinished revolution of our forefathers, the true nationalists of the 1896 Philippine Revolution.” The manifesto, called an “Article of Faith,” carried the signatures of representatives from all the military commands, the Philippine Army, the Philippine Air Force, the Philippine Navy, the Philippine Marines and the Presidential Security Guard, and civilian security agencies Philippine National Police, Coast Guard and the National Bureau of Investigation. The names in the manifesto, however, are all likely pseudonyms. The ROU said it reached a “crucial decision,” which it did not state clearly, after many of its supposed members attended the recent rally at the Luneta Park or the Million People March on Aug. 26. The decision was arrived at “after much contemplation of the political, social, economic and national security situations that turned from bad to worse, after we have vetted our organization, purged its ranks of opportunists and fake nationalists and after we have consulted some of our elders in the military, legal profession, farmers and those from the business, church, academe, labor and civil society groups.” “Rest assured, together we will win this battle if possible with less bloodshed,” the ROU said in the manifesto. “We are very much aware of the colonial and neo-colonial circumstances which have denied us the chance to discover our national self and to establish our identity and discover how much our dignity is really worth,” it stated. The group added that the government and many of the country’s leaders have been “weak, corrupt, venal, insensitive and self-serving.”
As a result, foreign powers in the name of friendship and business partnership have interfered in our affairs with impunity, manipulating us, playing with our lives, our country and our destiny, the ROU added. The group was clearly critical of the administration of President Aquino saying that his government “is no different from his mother’s regime, characterized by callous shamelessness propped up by endless popularity surveys.” It added that the Aquino administration stages spurious public shows of piety and compassion. “It goes through the motions of apologizing for numerous blunders in public yet committed the unforgivable sin of blasphemy to shield its depravity,” the group said. It described the Aquino administration as being in the shameful tradition of the Makabebes, who betrayed the Philippine Revolution of 1896, and the even more notorious Makapilis who sent many Filipinos to their death (in World War II). “Pnoy’s government has repeatedly frustrated the honest aspirations of our people by offering its fanciful and deceitful brand of democracy, economy and political lifestyle to unscrupulous foreigners and appealing directly for their intervention to save it from the wrath of long-suffering populace with legitimate grievances,” the ROU added. The group added Aquino has been deceiving the armed forces into “fighting its battles of self-aggrandizement while undermining the military at every turn. It tells its armed service to fight terrorism without credible laws to protect them and the people.” “Many of our men have already died of loss of blood fighting a war they do not even understand,” the group added. It said occasionally, Aquino throws the military a bone to chew on, like guard dogs to be placated from hunger and reject. “More than 70,000 of our men in uniform are living as squatters in the urban centers as well as in the countryside,” it added. The Aquino administration has reduced the once-proud military and police organization into a private security force, dedicated to perpetuate its status quo. The group added that a Gestapo-like counter intelligence organization is being maintained by the government “not to spy on the real enemies of the State but to spy endlessly on the office corps, rank-and-file, their families and other innocent targets.” “From the first day, Pnoy, using useless advocacy of Matuwid na Daan, has actually steered by one direction alone, that of private gains and mindless arrogance,” the ROU added. For more than three long, unhappy years (Aquino) has drifted with neither will nor ability to govern, muddling through all our national crises, setting a record of corruptions and plunder, incompetence and clumsiness, it said.
The solutions offered “have been short-sighted, meaningless palliatives and rhetorics that leave the people more frustrated than ever.” The ROU said the Aquino administration excelled in only two things: the enrichment of its clique and self-congratulations. “What is more unconscionable is that (Aquino) even lionized Janet Lim-Napoles, who stole public funds and enriched herself and unscrupulous politicians. She cannot deny this because there are witnesses and highly incriminating pieces of evidence that will send them to jail the rest of their lives. This is not the right time to read a bill of particular. That will come later,” it added. The group said that only a few days ago while the political crisis was evolving, (Aquino) apologized to the nation and appealed to the public to support his presidency and the rule of law. “His conscience has become so compartmentalized he does not realize that the very men and women he asked for help were the same men and women victimized by his government’s corruption, plunder, arrogance and incompetence,” it said. Daily, the public “contend with (Aquino’s) mismanagement, extravagance, arrogance and sexual escapades, it claimed. “They suffer the high prices and the low wages. They suffer the scarcity of jobs. They suffer the absence of transportation, water shortage and high fuel prices. They suffer the breakdown of law and order, moral decay and endless salvaging,” it added. The group also lamented that the Aquino regime has the gall to ask for help from the very people they continued to deprive of their rights and their dignity. “Pnoy even asked the men in uniform to die for his government and his brand of illiberal democracy. But will they, these people on whose tongues linger the acrid tastes of disillusion, betrayal and greed?,” it added The ROU said it has “allies in the civilian sectors” and will offer the country, “not the tarnished version of EDSA 1986, cheapened and exploited beyond recognition, but the revolutionary spirit of 1896 and its noble dream, a dream filled with a fierce yearning for change: true independence, a sovereign nation, a just and wise government, genuine nationalism, respect for the rule of law, freedom in its best sense and reconciliation.” “In short, genuine democracy as the Filipino revolutionaries of 1896 installed but only fleetingly enjoyed before decades of subjugation, tyranny and pretense that saw our resources exploited and our values warped and perverted,” the group said. It called on “friends and guests from foreign lands” who the group said it gives respects to their “sovereignty, culture, individuality and business interests.” “We implore you in the name of our country not to interfere anymore with our internal affairs,” it said.
It also appealed to media “to be fair and responsible in your reporting.” “We will not hesitate to fight fire with fire those who will stand in our way and undermine our determination to protect the State and to create a just, wise, efficient and stable society throughout the land,” the group warned. It said that its members will remain anonymous, for the meantime, “but in time we will get to know with one another as some of our forces are still busy garhering intelligence information, infiltrating centers of power of the Aquino Government and carefully assessing its loyal forces on the basis of their morale, command system, fighting capability, intelligence and materiel supplies.” It said that since the 1986 EDSA Revolution, the Filipino masses “still huddled in their hovels, exploited, hungry and dispossessed. Our bureaucracy is corrupt and inefficient.” “There is systems failure everywhere. The entire country is deregulated in favor of the elite and their crook foreign partners. Prices of basic commodities keep on rising while workers’ wages remain the same,” it added. The group also said there is no peace and order. “The simplest public services cannot be delivered. Our military is demoralized and shot through with politics. Our judicial system does not work. The guilty go free; the innocent are framed.” The ROU said the country’s strength is vitiated by corruption, plunder and ignorance in high places. “When we protest, the government responds with arrogance and brutality. Our elections are farces, contests of force and money, or sleight-of-hand spewed by computers and automated machines,” it added. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/headlines/item/19082-disgruntled-forces-surface-saycrucial-decision-made
TIME: RP, corruption go together like pork, mustard Written by Tribune Thursday, 12 September 2013 08:00
The country is back in the spotlight of international news magazine TIME but for unflattering reasons with an article saying that the Philippines and corruption go together like pork and mustard. “A fresh inquiry into the country’s so-called pork-barrel culture has produced some of the largest popular protests to hit the nation in years, and they show no signs of abating. Up to 100,000 people took to the Manila’s Rizal Park to protest on Aug. 26," the article said, adding march was also held yesterday and another scheduled on Friday. “Pork barrel is a pejorative term for Priority Development Assistance Funds — discretionary annual lump sums of $4.5 million (P200 million) and $1.6 million (P70 million) provided respectively to each of the country’s 24 Senators and 289 Congressmen to pay for local infrastructure and develop-ment works,” the article said. “However, much of this cash is simply ferreted away through bogus non-government organi-zations (NGOs) and nonsensical initiatives (like $115,000 or P5 million for “antidengue inoculants” although no dengue-fever vaccine is currently available). In addition, the cash is treated as a slush fund for ensuring political patronage and successful reelection,” it added. Progressive groups that joined the prayer vigil along Edsa to denounce the P10 billion pork barrel fund scam, meanwhile, called for the conviction of all those implicated in the scam. The call was aired as different groups converged yesterday that served as a follow up to the Million People march in Luneta last month. According to progressive organizations Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Sanlakas and the Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod (KPML) the anger of thousands of Filipinos who joined the prayer vigil by the unfolding 10 billion peso pork barrel scam involving Janet Lim-Napoles and several senators and congressmen is evident. The group demanded to imprison all those implicated in the testimonies of the whistleblowers and the special audit report of the Commission on Audit and those who continue to defend the graft-riddled pork barrel system.
The BMP believes that the entire current political system is rotten to the very core. Every Senator and Congressman who connived with officials of the Executive branch to siphon peoples’ funds in order to fatten their bank accounts are guilty of systematic plunder and of perpetrating the TRAPO system that engenders patronage politics, political dynasties, and influence peddling in policy and legislation for partisan interests. Leody de Guzman, BMP chairman, the controversy is a form of traditional politics allowing the continued unmitigated plunder of the coffers of the Filipino people while the large majority of the poor masses have been kept in poverty and misery. The group said the people has enough of trapo (traditional politics) and the momentum created by the protest actions should continue and turn into action to overhaul the system of government. “The implication of certain officials in the Departments of Agriculture, Budget and Management and other implementing agencies such as the state-owned National Agribusiness Corp. under the Executive branch shows that this system has bred an organized mafia that conspired to rob hardworking Filipinos of a decent life. They must all languish in prison,” De Guzman added. On the other hand, Anthony Barnedo, regional Secretary-General of KPML National Capital Region and Rizal chapter, said the jailing of Janet Lim-Napoles should be closely monitored by the public up to the trial of her various civil and criminal cases. He said the wheels of justice should turn swiftly for the government to recover every centavo she siphoned off to her bank accounts. Barnedo added it is lamentable that exactly two weeks since her supposed surrender to President Aquino, the Department of Justice and the Philippine National Police has not filed a single case related to the P10 billion peso pork barrel scam. Napoles is being held at Fort Sto. Domingo, Sta. Rosa, Laguna for an serious illegal detention case filed by her relative and former employee Benhur Luy. The TIME article said although graft is endemic in the Philippines, the sweeping scope of pork barrel has stunned even the most cynical. “The scale emerged after a businesswoman named Janet Lim Napoles was accused of laundering staggering sums of money for lawmakers. From 2009 to 2012, Napoles allegedly provided at least six Senators and 26 Congressmen with $224.9 million (P10 billion), according to an Aug. 16 report by the Philippines’ official Commission on Audit,” it said although the amount of P10 billion was mostly provided by testimonies of whistleblowers. The 49-year-old former Laguna City housewife, who turned herself in to Aquino ostensibly out of fear for her own life, reportedly took a cut of 30 percent while delivering the bulk back to the pockets of politicians — much of it cash delivered furtively in
shopping bags, it added. The articles also cited the opulent lifestyle enjoyed by Napoles such as swanky houses, sports cars and a socialite daughter seen hobnobbing with celebrities including Justin Bieber at L.A. (Los Angeles, California) parties — spurred public outrage. “So far, however, Aquino has only gone as far as to offer more transparency. Under touted reforms, each Senator and Congressman would maintain their current $4.5 million and $1.6 million allocations but must reveal where it is being spent,” the article said. It quoted veteran activist lawyer and University of the Philippines law professor Harry Roque describing Aquino’s steps as — a half-measure misleading the people”. “Although Aquino remains untainted by the most serious allegations, he has not been immune to criticism. Aside from lawmakers, the office of the President also comes with a sizable discretionary budget — like calamity relief — and there are calls for this to also be abolished, as well as discretionary development funds for the judiciary and other arms of government,” the TIME article said. A long-awaited Freedom of Information Act is also receiving widespread public backing as it will give media the tools to properly investigate alleged impropriety. “I’m hoping that this anger will redefine Philippine politics and end the cycle of vote buying and corruption,” TIME quoted Roque as saying. A legislator from Cavite also said the Aquino government should now see to it that appropriate charges are filed as soon as possible against all persons involved in the pork barrel scam, including lawmakers. Dasmarinas City Rep. Elpidio Barzaga said the Filipino people are waiting for the government to file charges not only against Janet Lim Napoles but against congressmen and senators involved in the scandal. By Alvin Murcia and Gerry Baldo http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/headlines/item/19081-time-rp-corruption-go-togetherlike-pork-mustard
Congress, SC clash looms over frozen pork Written by Angie M. Rosales Thursday, 12 September 2013 08:00
A constitutional crisis appears in the offing involving the legislative and the judicial branches of government on the legality of the so-called pork barrel funds, with the Supreme Court (SC) leaning toward its unconstitu-tionality and the Senate assserting the “power of the purse” authority under 1987 Constitution. A preview of the expected heated debates in the forthcoming oral arguments in the Supreme Court on Oct. 8, on the petition concerning the legality of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), took place at the Senate floor during the hearing on the judiciary’s budget when Senate President Franklin Drilon engaged two magistrates. Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta was prompted to accede on record to the statement of Drilon that “there is a prima facie finding by the high court, at least on a temporary basis, finding that the PDAF is unconstitutional.” Debating with Peralta and Associate Justice Marvic Mario Victor Leonen, Drilon raised several issues, particularly what he described as “dire consequences” if and when the remaining PDAF of lawmakers for this year is declared “unconstitutional” by the high tribunal. Such does not exclude the Judiciary, especially if realignments of appropriations of the Executive and even the Legislature of its so-called “pork barrel” to the budgetary requirements of the Judicial branch are made, as it would constitute “congressional insertion” which is not allowed under the existing temporary restraining order (TRO), Drilon pointed out. “You would agree that when we realign portions of the budget, that is called earmarking, that is called insertion and that is a form of PDAF or pork barrel, isn’t it? That is an accepted parliamentary practice. In fact, in the budget when you realign a portion of the budget from one agency to the other as part of the appropriations authority, then the budget would consider that as earmarking, as a pork barrel?” Drilon asked and one of the SC magistrates were overheard saying “we are not aware, Mr. President.” “That is the truth, and I have been working on the budget for the last 10 years probably, that when you remove one item and place it in another which is different now from how the NEP (national expenditure program) is shaped, that is considered a congressional
insertion. That is considered a pork barrel. Under your TRO, that is not allowed because that is a form of pork barrel,” the Senate chief emphasized. “It is up to you to interpret that that provision. With your indulgence, there is only two of us here and we appreciate that you’re raising these questions. But I hope you also appreciate that we do have answers, except that by the constitutional order of things, we cannot just respond to your questions right now,” Leonen said. When Drilon inquired on the period in which the SC can decide on the pending case, as it’s decision could affect the 20104 proposed budget if the matter is not resolved Congress enacts the new money measure, Peralta said that with certainty, it will be terminated before the end of the year. Failure on the part of Congress to act on the proposed general appropriations bill will authomatically effect a reenactment of the existing budget. “What happens to the item (on PDAF) in 2014 budget?” Drilon asked, exploring the possibility of the SC declaring the pork barrel funds for the remaining year as “invalid” as Leonen himself noted that “any act declared as unconstitutional by the Court, any unconstitutionality serves ab initio which means from the very beginning.” “Without prudence, perhaps it is better for us not to respond to the question. I am sure that Justice Peralta and myself already have an answer to some of ur questions as of the moment but we would like to give time for the comment to be filed as well as the memoranda, in order to address the issue. “The TRO only addesses the non-expenditure of the PDAF, why it should not be expended. It has not be explicated in the TRO. So what we are only asking is that the PDAF not be spent. We have not declared legality or unconstitutionality,” Leonen said. “You are restraining the PDAF because of a concept of a pork barrel. Now you could not answer questions as to whether it can be realigned because you’re saying it’s involved in the case. Now the real situation is, you (Judiciary) are asking for P1.47 billion as additional PS (personnel services). We cannot increase the budget, we have to realign items in the budget. The question is, for our guidance, when we defend your budget before the (Senate) plenary, can we realign out of PDAF allocation?” asked Drilon. Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto echoed the concerns raised by Drilon saying that his colleague was just asserting the mandate of Congress insofar as the money measure is concerned. “I think the major point of the Senate president was that, dapat bang TRO yung PDAF? That is an act of Congress. That is power of the purse lodged to Congress. That I think is the issue here. And then the authority of the Executive to realign was an issue as well. Kung ang PDAF savings can he realign it now to any other..that’s another issue. That’s constitutional, I think, the President can do that. Unless the SC decides, he can
only realign - the Office of the President - and not the departments. â€œThe mere fact that the SC went to Congress for their budget, kinikilala nila yung power of Congres over the budget, yan ang tingin ko. I think that was one of the points of Drilon. Now the propriety of how PDAF is utilized is another issue, sa tingin ko,â€? said Recto. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/headlines/item/19080-congress-sc-clash-looms-overfrozen-pork
Probe on rice shortage, price increase still on Written by Angie M. Rosales Thursday, 12 September 2013 08:00
Despite repeated assurances made by members of the Executive on the country’s rice supply, the alleged current shortage being just “artificial” or deliberately fanned by some unscrupulous individuals, called Senate probe on the continuing price increase of rice is still on. The proponent of the move, Sen. Loren Legarda, the other day reiterated the need to pursue a separate investigation, saying that officials from the Department of Agriculture (DA) and National food Authority (NFA) should be put to task for their inability to keep rice prices stable. Legarda said that prices of rice have increased by P2 to P5 kilo per kilo in a matter of just one month. The senator further noted that an official of NFA was quoted saying last week that bad weather from typhoons “Labuyo” and “Mareng” may have caused the hike in prices of rice as some of the devastated areas are considered as the country’s major riceproducing provinces in Luzon. “Our country is hit by an average of 20 typhoons on an annual basis and a World Bank study has warned that as a result of climate change, typhoon-related rainfall could increase by up to 33 percent,” Legarda said. “As the agency responsible for ensuring the stability of rice prices, it is incumbent upon the DA and NFA to anticipate the adverse effects of these weather disturbances on rice supplies and take the measures necessary to prevent these from negatively affecting rice prices,” she stressed. During Monday’s deliberations of the proposed 2014 budget of the DA and NFA by the Senate finance committee, DA Secretary Proseso Alcala categorically stated that there is no rice shortage. Yet he could not provide any justification in the continuing price increase 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 remain to be 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. Legarda last Thursday effected the filing of Resolution No. 233 “to determine the actual state of the rice supply in the country and the role and policies of the DA and the NFA relative to our goal of achieving rice sufficiency in the country.” Legarda, chairman of the Senate committee on environment and natural resources, said that she would ask agriculture officials to explain why the DA and NFA were unable to take action on possible rice shortages despite possessing rice supply projections that showed that the effects of climate change would create a shortfall in rice supplies. The 2011-2016 Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP) prepared by the DA provides scenarios that should have allowed agriculture officials to act on possible shortages. In 2013, if rice supplies are affected by climate change in a high demand environment, there would be a maximum shortfall of 680,000 metric tons, according to the FSSP. “While these numbers constitute a worst-case scenario,” Legarda said, “the DA and NFA should be prepared for the worst and should not use this as an excuse whenever they are unable to meet the targets they themselves set.” http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/nation/item/19076-probe-on-rice-shortage-priceincrease-still-on
Senate approves SK polls deferment on 2nd reading Written by Tribune Thursday, 12 September 2013 08:00
The Senate yesterday approved on second reading the proposed measure of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos which sought to defer the scheduled Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections this year. Senate Bill 1186, entitled, “An Act to Postpone the Sangguniang Kabataan Elections on Oct. 28, 2013, Amending for the Purpose Section 1 of Republic Act 9340, and for Other Purposes,” was approved on second reading with only one committee amendment. Marcos, chairman of the Senate local government committee and sponsor of the bill, amended line 3, Section 3 of the bill, by inserting after the word “necessary” the phrase “to implement this act” and deleting the phrase “to implement this act” on line 4. Section 3 now reads: “The Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government shall promulgate rules and regulations necessary to implement this act within 30 days after its effectivity.” Last Sept. 4, Marcos sponsored on the Senate floor Committee Report No. 1, the first committee report in the current 16th Congress, urging immediate approval of SB 1186. Marcos has sought the postponement of the SK elections to give Congress reasonable time to craft legislation that would institute the necessary reforms to the present structure of the SK. He noted the general observation that the SK under the present structure has lost its effectiveness in advancing the democratic ideals of service-oriented youth leadership. The Comelec has sounded again its preference to postpone the youth polls with Chairman Sixto Brillantes saying they prefer to postpone the SK polls to 2016 coinciding with the next presidential elections. Brillantes, who has been very vocal for the postponement of the youth polls, said that he does not prefer the 2014 schedule since they have no budget for that and 2015 is very near the next presidential elections thus the logical thing to do is to hold it in October 2016. The poll chief revealed that they already met with the House committee on electoral reforms on the other day and that more or less their proposals were carried out. The poll chief expressed confidence that there is a big probability that the SK elections will be postponed.
He said that by not holding the SK elections on Oct. 28 would give them more time to decide if they would call for the eventual abolition of the SK because of the belief that is became a breeding ground for corruption. With Alvin Murcia, Gina Peralta-Elorde and Pat C. Santos http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/nation/item/19075-senate-approves-sk-pollsdeferment-on-2nd-reading
Argee to spill beans on rice import scam Written by Benjamin B. Pulta Thursday, 12 September 2013 08:00
Activist Argee Guevarra has denounced officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and National Food Authority (NFA) for the latter’s bare-faced blanket denial of an anomalous multibillion-peso shipment of overpriced rice from Vietnam. Reacting to NFA deputy administrator Ludovico Jarina’s statement last week, Guevarra said Tuesday “Jarina’s plain denial is swallowed by the public with a grain of salt amid spiraling rice prices.” Guevarra is set to face off with DA and NFA officials at a congressional inquiry before the House committee on food security on today. “Let us disabuse ourselves from this blanket and default defense that all criticisms directed at government officials are politically motivated smear campaigns. This is plain squid tactic,” Guevarra said. “The DA and NFA should start talking in terms of verifiable facts and figures, especially when they undergo grilling before the Lower House, where their anomalous importations and corrupt practices have taken them, first with Napoles pork and now, this Molso Rice,” the lawyer asserted. Jarina claimed Guevarra’s allegation of P457 million overpricing in its April 2013 rice importation as a “smear campaign hatched by groups opposed to reforms being implemented within the NFA.” “What reforms is he talking about? Does he refer to the ‘reform’ of monopolizing the country’s importation of rice so they can assume the role of a public sector Mafia that maintains a stranglehold on the people’s daily staple? Why import overpriced rice when NFA insiders admit the NFA hasn’t even finished unloading its 2008 rice stock? It seems that the GMA-era Mafia in the NFA has either burrowed itself deep into the NFA infrastructure or the racket was simply hijacked by a new set of rice profiteers masquerading as ‘reformist’ bureaucrats,” Guevarra said. The lawyer likewise contradicted Jarina’s defense that 18,700 metric tons of the total 205,700 MT importation were “authorized” under the so-called Molso (more or less at supplier’s option) provision of the NFA’s government-to-government contract with Vietnam. “If this is the case, Molso should just be introduced into the market as Molso Rice:
more-or-less still overpriced,” Guevarra said. “And I have the documents to prove so, from the NFA Administrator Orlando Calayag’s talking points with the Vietnamese ambassador where he admitted that this so-called Molso was not covered by the Tax Expenditure Subsidy of the DoF (Department of Finance), and that it will be a violation of existing Philippine Accounting and Auditing rules and regulations, to a letter signed by Jarina himself admitting that the NFA Council had not, at the time of the transaction, approved the additional 18,700 MT under this Molso,” he added. “There will still be a $100 difference, the minimum export price of Vietnam being $365 per MT; and even assuming their claim that the price of their imported rice was inclusive of handling and delivery, the handling of goods from Philippine ports to the NFA warehouses costs only $22 per MT while the vessel freight cost amounts to no more than $25 per MT. Doing the math, NFA still has to explain the missing $36.74 per MT.” “It is an impossibility for NFA to claim to have saved a hundred million pesos while pocketing four hundred (million pesos) more from a grossly anomalous transaction. This should be the NFA’s version of dagdag-bawas. Bago pa isaing ang kilong bigas ni Juan, ito pala ay nabawasan na ng isang salop at napunta sa bulsa ng mga kawatan,” he said. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/metro‐section/item/19085‐argee‐to‐spill‐beans‐on‐ rice‐import‐scam
Banks’ P842.6-B REE manageable, says BSP Written by Ed Velasco Thursday, 12 September 2013 08:00
Real estate exposure (REE) of universal and commercial banks as well as thrift banks in the Philippines stood at P842.6 billion as of March 2013. The figure is 2.5 percent higher than banks’ previous REE in December 2012. According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the rise in REE was due to the 1.7 percent increase in banks’ real estate loans (RELS), which grew from P703.2 billion to P715.5 billion from end-2012 to end of first quarter of 2013. RELS constitute 85 percent of banks REE. The BSP said 78 percent of RELS are residential in nature and are used to finance the acquisition, construction and improvements of housing units. The exposure of banks to such residential RELS (RRELS) remains manageable as the non-performing portion was only four percent of RRELS in March. Banks’ investments in real estate securities grew by seven percent from P118.5 billion in December 2012 to P127.1 billion in March 2013. Real estate investments represent the remaining 15 percent of banks’ REE. Under the expanded RE reporting system for banks, REE covers loans to developers of socialized and low cost housing, loans to individuals, loans supported by non-risk collaterals, as well as investment in securities to finance RE activities and exposures by bank trust departments. The BSP claims that its comprehensive monitoring of banks’ REE is in line with its financial stability initiatives. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/business/item/19060‐banks‐p842‐6‐b‐ree‐ manageable‐says‐bsp
Seminar on personal finance resumes Written by Ed Velasco Thursday, 12 September 2013 08:00
The Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) will resume the holding of the “No-Nonsense” Personal Finance seminar of book author Randell Tiongson on Sept. 14 at the V Mall, Greenhill’s Shopping Center. The learning event aims to educate participants in achieving true financial peace through step-by-step process. Tiongson will focus on his five fundamental steps in achieving financial peace, which include improving cash flow, getting out of debt, setting up your emergency fund, life insurance and investment. Tiongson is an advocate of Life and Personal Finance. With his 25 years of experience in the Financial Service Industry — Banking, Mutual Funds, Insurance and Financial Planning, and Management Consultancy, he has become one of today’s most respected personal finance coaches in the country. Aside from his training and speaking endeavors, he is also a director of the Registered Financial Planner Institute of the Philippines and also and a strong advocate of financial education for the overseas Filipino workers. Randell regularly appears on TV as resource person for various shows like TV Patrol, Bandila, 700 Club Asia, Mornings at ANC, Shoptalk, Business Nightly, Failon Ngayon, On the Money, Umagang Kay Ganda, Unang Hirit, Aksyon TV, and News to Go among the few. Started in 2009, the “No-Nonsense” Personal Finance Conference has been attended by thousands of participants from traders, investors, and entrepreneurs across the country and even abroad. Joining the conference will be Dennis Sy, the editor-in-chief of www.actlikeaman.org and author of the best-selling Amazon book “Rich for Life”; and Carl Dy, real-estate investment expert, who has over a decade of experience in the real estate industry. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/business/item/19058‐seminar‐on‐personal‐finance‐ resumes
SABIT SA ‘PORK’, IWAS-PUSOY Ni Marlo Dalisay Umpisa pa lamang ng sesyon ay napagalamang naka-leave na sa kani-kanilang tanggapan at hindi na muna umano nagpapakita pa ang isa sa staff ni Senador Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr., na maaaring kasama ng huli na masampahan ng kaso kaugnay sa pork barrel scandal. “He’s on leave, matagal-tagal na rin,” ang pahayag ni Atty. Patrick Baraoan na siyang humarap sa media nang personal na puntahan ang opisina ni Revilla sa ikalimang palapag ng gusali ng Senado kung saan ang tinutukoy nito ay si Atty. Richard Cambi. Bukod sa nasabing staff ni Revilla, hindi na rin umano pumapasok sa kanilang tanggapan sa Senado ang staff din ni Senador Jinggoy Estrada na si Paulene Labayen na kasama rin sa mga napapaulat na kakasuhan ng Department of Justice (DOJ) sa pork barrel scandal. Gaya ni Revilla, tumanggi ring humarap si Estrada sa media. “Basta po sabihin ko raw sa inyo na hindi siya pumasok,” ang tila kinakabahan na tugon ng isa sa mga staff ni Estrada nang sadyain ng mga mamamahayag ang tanggapan nito sa ikaanim na palapag ng gusali ng Senado.
Kanya-kanyang gimik ang mga nakilahok sa ‘EDSA Tayo’ prayer vigil upang ipakita ang kanilang sentimyento upang ipanawagan
Napag-alaman din na bagama’t pumapasok naman at nasa kanilang tanggapan kahapon sa Senado si Jose Antonio Evangelista, ang staff ni Senate minority leader Juan Ponce Enrile na kabilang din sa mga napangalanan ay hindi na ito humarap sa media at hindi umano muna magbibigay ng anumang pahayag. ang pag-alis ng pork barrel sa ginanap na pagtitipon sa EDSA Shrine sa Quezon City kahapon. (Mike Perez)
Aminado rin ang tanggapan ni Enrile na hindi na nila nakikitang dumadalaw ang dati nitong chief of staff na si Atty. Lucila ‘Gigi’ Reyes buhat nang ito ay magbitiw sa kanyang puwesto makaraang idawit sa mga umano’y hindi patas na pagtrato ng senador sa mga kasamahan noong ito pa ang presidente ng Senado. May mga balitang si Reyes ay tumakbo na sa Thailand pero ito ay hindi makumpirma ngayon bunga na rin ng umano’y internal instructions ng pamunuan ng Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID) na huwag magsisiwalat sa publiko ng arrivals at departures ng mga kontrobersyal na personalidad. Kaugnay nito, sinabi naman ni Sen. Revilla na ipinapaubaya na lamang nito sa Maykapal ang paggabay sa mga pangyayari ngayon sa lipunan lalung-lalo sa panig ng ehekutibo, lehislatura at hudikatura kung saan ay pare-pareho ang pinagdadaanan.
Doble-ingat kay Enrile! (Bernard Taguinod)
Kung mayroong dapat higit na paghandaan ang gobyerno lalo na ang Department of Justice (DOJ) sa mga senador na kakasuhan ng plunder case dahil sa P10 billion pork barrel scam na kinasasangkutan ni Janet Lim Napoles, ay walang iba kundi si Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile. Ginawa ni House minority leader Ronaldo Zamora ang nasabing pahayag matapos lumutang ang pangalan ni Enrile na isa sa mga posibleng kasuhan ng plunder case dahil sa pork barrel scam. “I would advise the government prosecutor to be very, very careful. He’s not just somebody of a certain age, he’s also smart and very competing lawyer. Baka mamaya ang kaso nila, ganu’n-ganu’n na lamang, baka mabigla sila and they find out is full of holes, mahirap ‘yung nagpa-file ng kaso kung hindi ka completely sure,” ayon kay Zamora. Sa ngayon ay nananahimik si Enrile sa nasabing kaso kaya may duda ang mambabatas na ngayon pa lamang ay naghahanda na ito nang husto at posibleng mapahiya ang gobyerno kapag nagkataon kung hindi kumpleto ang mga dokumentong ihaharap ng prosekusyon. Dahil dito, sinabi ni Zamora na kung gusto umano talagang idiin ng gobyerno si Enrile, kailangang ngayon pa lamang ay mayroon na silang hawak na dokumento na may nakarating na pera sa kanya dahil kung hindi ay malamang na mabalewala ang kasong isasampa laban sa mga kakasuhan ng plunder case. “If you want to have a case against him then make sure that it’s an airtight case, make sure that the case would hold that in court,” dagdag pa ni Zamora upang hindi mapahiya ang gobyerno.
May duda rin si Zamora na makukulong pa si Enrile sakaling mapatunayang nakinabang sa pork barrel scam dahil lagpas na ito sa edad na isinasaad sa batas na puwedeng makulong. Sa ngayon ay 86-anyos na si Enrile at base sa batas ay hindi umano puwedeng ikulong ang isang akusado na 70-anyos na, subalit tiyak na lalaban umano si Enrile para ipagtanggol ang kanyang pangalan at reputasyon. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/sep1213/news02.htm#.UjEgztKBlRI
Kaalyado nilinis sa ‘pork’ (Boyet Jadulco) Isa pang kaalyado ng administrasyon ang nilinis ng palasyo ng Malacañang matapos makaladkad sa pork barrel fund scandal. Ayon kay presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, wala pang lumalabas na ebidensya na sangkot sa iregular na paggamit ng kanyang Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) sa nagdaang taon si Senate President Franklin Drilon. Sinabi pa ni Lacierda na hindi rin nabanggit ang pangalan ni Drilon sa special audit report ng Commission on Audit (COA) hinggil sa iregular na paggamit ng PDAF ng mga senador at kongresista noong 2007 hanggang 2009. Ang hindi lang masiguro ng tagapagsalita ng Pangulo ay kung kasama ang pangalan ni Drilon sa iniimbestigahan ngayon ng National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). Nakaladkad si Drilon sa pork barrel fund scandal matapos lumabas ang litrato kung saan kasama siya ni Janet Lim Napoles, ang tinaguriang reyna ng pork barrel fund scam, matapos na makorner niya ang P10 bilyong PDAF ng mga senador at kongresista sa loob ng sampung taon para sa kanyang pekeng non-government organizations (NGOs). Inamin naman ni Drilon na totoo ang litrato nila ni Napoles, kasama ang misis niyang si Mila, kung saan kinunan umano ito sa isang pagtitipon sa Heritage Park sa Taguig City. Sa tingin ni Lacierda, mayroong ginagawang demolition job laban kay Drilon at sa iba pang miyembro ng administrasyon upang magulo ang usapin sa pork barrel fund scam. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/sep1213/news03.htm#.UjEg3tKBlRI
‘EDSA Tayo’ generally peaceful (JP/NF) Umabot lang sa bilang na mahigit isang libo katao ang mga nakilahok sa isinagawang prayer rally kahapon base sa datos na hawak ng National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO). Sa panayam ng Abante kay NCRPO Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo, generally peaceful na maituturing ang idinaos na ‘EDSA Tayo’ prayer rally dahil na rin sa ipinatupad na maximum tolerance sa hanay ng kapulisan. Nakatulong umano ang kanilang isinagawang dayalogo sa hanay ng mga organizer kung saan napagkasunduan ang hindi pagdadala ng streamers, tarpaulin, effigy at placards na posibleng magdulot ng kumplikadong sitwasyon. “Wala namang naiulat na untoward incidents maliban lang sa isang pulis natin na nasugatan sa kamay dahil nagpupumilit ang ilang mga militante na makihalo sa payapang prayer rally,” ayon pa kay Garbo. Samantala, sinabi naman ni Rodel Banares, isa sa mga organizer ng ‘EDSA Tayo’, na hindi dapat tingnan sa bilang ng mga nagsidalo ang kanilang isinagawang prayer rally dahil kakaunti lamang ang nakiisa kundi dapat tingnan ang mensahe ng kanilang isinagawang programa. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/sep1213/news04.htm#.UjEg49KBlRI
Napoles sa Lunes pa makakasuhan (Juliet de Loza-Cudia)
Hindi kakayanin ng ‘powers’ ng Department of Justice (DOJ) at National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) na masampahan ng kasong plunder ang negosyanteng si Janet Lim Napoles at ang ilang mambabatas at executive officials sa Biyernes sa Office of the Ombudsman. Ito ang tiniyak kahapon ni Justice Sec. Leila de Lima dahil sensitibo ang kaso at kailangan ng mabibigat na mga ebidensya upang hindi mabasura ang kasong kanilang ihahain sa korte. “Friday, mahirap, the latest on Monday. So best efforts,” ayon kay De Lima. Nabatid na patuloy pa ang pangangalap nila ng mga ebidensya at maging ang ginagawang imbestigasyon ng NBI. Una nang sinabi ni Pangulong Benigno Aquino III na maaaring sa Biyernes o sa Lunes ay maisampa na ang kasong plunder laban sa mga dawit sa pork barrel scam. Kaugnay nito, tumanggi si De Lima na tukuyin kung sino ang mga kakasuhan at ano ang mga isasampang kaso laban sa mga ito sa Ombudsman. Itinanggi ng kalihim ang lumabas sa pahayagan na pangalan ng mga kakasuhan. Nabatid na pinabulaanan din ng kampo ng mga whistleblower sa pangunguna ni Atty. Levito Baligod na may pinangalanan kaugnay ng scam bagkus ay binanggit na may limang sasampahan ng kaso. Umapela naman si De Lima na hintayin na lamang ang pagsasampa ng kaso lalo’t nakakadagdag lang ng pressure sa NBI ang mga maling impormasyon sa media.
Drilon naglihim kay PNoy? (Boyet Jadulco)
Inilihim ni Senate President Franklin Drilon kay Pangulong Benigno Aquino III na kilala niya si Janet Lim Napoles, ang tinaguriang pork barrel fund scam queen. Base sa pakikipag-usap ni Pangulong Aquino sa mga editor at reporter ng Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) noong Agosto 29, sinabi ng Pangulo na hindi binabanggit sa kanya ni Drilon na kilala niya si Napoles. “He has never mentioned it,” ayon sa transcript ng interview sa Pangulo. Ngunit sa palagay ni presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, maaaring umamin din ang Senate President sa Pangulo matapos ang interview sa kanya ng PDI. “I believe that Senator Drilon volunteered the information to the President -- after that interview with Inquirer,” wika ni Lacierda. Nakaladkad ang pangalan ni Drilon sa pork barrel fund scandal matapos lumabas ang litrato na kasama niya si Napoles sa isang okasyon.
Face-off on rice scam today! Published : Thursday, September 12, 2013 00:00 Written by : Paul Gutierrez
AGRICULTURE officials and their critics are expected to face off today over the truth behind the country’s ‘anomalous’ and ‘graft-ridden’ rice importation program as the House Committee on Food Security starts its inquiry on the controversial issue. Activist lawyer Argee Guevarra, who first exposed the alleged half-billion peso scam in a single NFA rice importation deal with Vietnam last April, also criticized officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and National Food Authority (NFA), for saying it was not anomalous. NFA deputy administrator Ludovico Jarina last week issued a statement denying Guevarra’s allegation. NFA officials and DA Sec. Proceso Alcala dismissed claims by critics that the rice import from Vietnam was “overpriced” by some P457 million, adding that it was a “smear campaign hatched by groups opposed to reforms being implemented within the NFA.” “The plain denial is swallowed by the public with a ‘grain of salt’ amid spiralling rice prices,” Guevarra said. “Let us disabuse ourselves from this blanket and default defense that all criticisms directed at government officials are politically motivated smear campaigns. This is plain squid tactic,” he added. Guevarra also downplayed the “reforms” now allegedly being undertaken by the agriculture department in the procurement of rice and which, officials claim, hurt vested interests such as rice smugglers who are allegedly behind the “plot” to discredit top DA and NFA officials. “What ‘reforms’ are they talking about? Do they refer to the ‘reform’ of monopolizing the country’s importation of rice so they can assume the role of a public sector ‘Mafia’ that maintains a stranglehold on the people’s daily staple? “Why import overpriced rice when NFA insiders admit that the NFA hasn’t even finished unloading its 2008 rice stock? “It seems that the GMA-era Mafia in the NFA has either burrowed itself deep into the NFA infrastructure or the racket was simply hijacked by a new set of rice profiteers masquerading as ‘reformist’ bureaucrats,” Guevarra said. The lawyer also contradicted Jarina’s defense that 18,700 metric tons (MT) of the total 205,700 MT importation was “authorized” under the so-called MOLSO (more or less at supplier’s option) provision of the NFA’s government-to-government (G2G) contract with Vietnam.
“If this is the case, it (18,700 MT) may have been introduced in the market as ‘MOLSO Rice’ -More-Or-Less Still Overpriced,” Guevarra said. The lawyer warned that among the documents he has pertaining to the NFA’s rice transactions was the ‘talking point’ used by NFA administrator, Orlando Calayag with the Vietnamese ambassador on the country’s rice requirement. The document would purportedly show that Calayag “admitted” that the so-called ‘MOLSO rice’ was not covered by the Tax Expenditure Subsidy (TES) of the DOF (Department of Finance), and that it will be a violation of existing Philippine Accounting and Auditing rules and regulations. In another document, Jarina allegedly admitted that the NFA Council had not, at the time of the April transaction, approved the additional 18,700 MT thru the MOLSO, Guevarra said. He also downplayed the NFA’s claim that it had “saved” some P100 million from the April transaction, saying: “It is an impossibility for the NFA to claim to have saved a hundred million pesos while pocketing four hundred (million pesos) more from a grossly anomalous transaction. “This may have been the NFA’s version of dagdag-bawas. Bago pa isaing ang kilong bigas ni Juan, ito pala ay nabawasan na ng isang salop at napunta sa bulsa ng mga kawatan,” Guevarra said. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/57938‐face‐off‐on‐rice‐scam‐today
Romualdez applauds TRO on pork Published : Thursday, September 12, 2013 00:00 Written by : Ryan Ponce Pacpaco HOUSE Independent bloc leader and Leyte (1st District) Rep. Ferdinand Martin ‘FM’ G. Romualdez yesterday welcomed the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court (SC) on the release of the remaining priority development assistance fund (PDAF) for 2013 and the Malampaya funds. Romualdez said the TRO will give ample time for the Executive branch of the government to come up with stringent safeguards and mechanisms that will prevent fraud in the utilization of the funds by implementing agencies and beneficiaries. He described the TRO as a much-needed boost in “our combined efforts to safeguard the unreleased balance of the PDAF against corruption.” “We hope that they will come out with the measures as soon as possible to shield the PDAF and other lump sum funds of the national budget from corruption while beneficiaries will still be able to avail of the PDAF balance,” Romualdez said. The Leyte lawmaker said among the pending projects covered by the remaining balance of the PDAF are scholarships, hospitals and medical assistance to the poorest of the poor. “We in the independent minority bloc are solidly behind anything that can help the people, especially the poor, and uplift their quality of life. But we are just as united and steadfast in fighting and preventing any and all forms of corruption,” Romualdez added. Cavite Rep. Elpidio “Pidi” Barzaga, Jr. said the inclusion of PDAF in the future appropriations might no longer be politically acceptable to the people on account of the massive protests arising from the pork barrel scam at present not to mention the possibility that SC might declare it unconstitutional. “So expect no PDAF in future national budgets.” “On the political aspect, considering that the protests are being directed against the pork barrel of the legislators, with the TRO and also the
declarations made by the President, the senators and the House regarding the abolition of PDAF, there is no more reason to continue the protests. Sad to state, these protests are already hurting our economy,” said Barzaga. Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. said the House of Representatives will comply on the ruling, but stressed it will affect the implementation of the ongoing projects. Despite this, Valenzuela Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian and Citizens Battle Against Corruption (Cibac) party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna believe that the SC will declare the pork barrel as constitutional. “In the spirit of transparency and cooperation, Congress should abide by the SC order. The public should be assured that the PDAF is legal and constitutional,” Gatchalian said. For Tugna, the TRO is no longer needed because the Executive Department already put on hold the remaining 2013 pork barrel. “This is merely a temporary setback, anyway, the current half of the 2013 budget is already put on hold by the Executive Department. Parang TRO na din ’yun. But I believe that the SC will eventually uphold the PDAF as constitutional. Kailangan lamang ng reforms,” Tugna also said. On the other hand, Ako Bikol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe appealed to the SC to rush the ruling as prolonging the TRO will affect the beneficiaries like the students who are relying in the scholarship grants provided by the pork barrel. “Sana madesisyunan kaagad sapagkat maaapektuhan ang beneficiaries ng PDAF. In Bicol alone, 75 percent of the enrollees in State Universities and Colleges are PDAF funded. The SC may have failed to consider this important factor which may result in dire consequences accordingly, I do hope that the SC will reconsider its decision,” Batocabe said. Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone also expressed the same sentiments as he appealed to SC to consider the condition of the people who are in need of assistance. “I respect the decision of SC. I just hope that the SC will be cognizant of the scholarship and medical needs of our constituents, particularly the poor and those in crisis situation,” Evardone said. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/57937‐romualdez‐applauds‐tro‐on‐pork
Solons dump pork Published : Thursday, September 12, 2013 00:00 Written by : Jester Manalastas IT’S final. Members of the House of Representatives agreed to scrap the P25.24 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in the 2014 national budget and instead give it to selected government agencies that will carry out projects to benefit the people. Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. announced that the lump sum will be divided among the Department of Education, Commission in Higher Education (CHED), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE). And because they became linked to the pork barrel scam, Belmonte said they decided not to give funds to the Department of Agriculture (DA), Local Government Units (LGUs) and the non-government organizations (NGOs). Members of the Lower Chamber have signed a statement of support for the decision of President Benigno Aquino to abolish the pork barrel. ”There it is, everybody has actually signed it. So, as you know it is not in the form of a resolution because we did not also like to dictate to the Appropriations Committee. We all agreed that yang item na yan called PDAF, with appropriations of 25.2 billio, I think will be deleted from the 2014 budget,” Belmonte said. However, Belmonte added that lawmakers will not be totally stripped of their responsibility to help the needy people as they can suggest projects to every department where the PDAF was entrusted. The House leader said they will discuss and agree later how much can lawmaker can request for a project. ”Like anybody else, we can access it. The number one effect of this is hindi na pwede ibigay sa NGO yon. A lot of the problems really arose from the fact that substantial amounts particularly in some parts of the Congress ended up in the NGOs definitely on the decision to delete that,” Belmonte also said. The House Committee on Appropriations has approved on committee level the proposed division of the P25.2 billion pork barrel allocations for 2014. The biggest portion — 35 percent — will go to the DPWH and the second, or 20 percent, to DSWD. The DepED and CHED, DoH and DoLE will get 15 percent each. Of the 15 percent for education, the DepEd will get 5 percent while the CHED, which is in charge of the state universities and colleges, will get 10 percent.