NFA: Rice prices going down By Kristine Angeli Sabillo INQUIRER.net 11:00 am | Thursday, September 12th, 2013
FILE Photo taken from agriculture‐ph.com
MANILA, Philippines — Commercial rice prices have started to go down after last week’s price increases, according to the National Food Authority (NFA). In a statement released Thursday, the NFA said prices of commercial premium quality rice went down from P1,920 per sack to P1,880 at the Intercity in Bulacan. Meanwhile, prices of medium quality rice has gone down from P1,820 per sack to P1,780, and imported premium quality rice from P1,800 per sack to P1,750. The food agency reminded the public that they sold regular milled rice at P27 per kilogram and well-milled rice at P32/kg. Increasing rice prices were first reported after the onslaught of tropical storm Labuyo but government agencies and farmer groups said it should not have happened because there was no rice shortage. On Monday, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said they were building cases against smugglers and hoarders out to manipulate market prices by creating an artificial rice shortage. Alcala said there were reports of people being told to line up at NFA outlets to make it appear that there was a rice shortage. The NFA also said that prices were expected to go down after the harvest season starts near the end of the month. NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag said in the statement that their supervisors would continue to monitor the markets to “ensure that no NFA rice will be overpriced or diverted and sold as commercial rice.” The food agency said they still have 1.7 million metric tons of rice to last 51 days, in addition to their intensified palay procurement in various areas of the country where farmers have started to harvest their crops.
Trader charged for rice smuggling By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 13, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Customs (BOC) filed yesterday smuggling charges against a businesswoman for allegedly bringing in illegally P63 million worth of rice from Vietnam. Peter Manzano, BOC deputy commissioner for revenue collection and monitoring and head of Run After the Smugglers (RATS), said the charges were filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ) against Gemma Aida Belarma, owner of Melma Enterprises. Belarma allegedly violated section 3601 of the Tariffs and Customs Code of the Philippines for misdeclaring shipment in an alleged attempt to smuggle rice into the country. She reportedly smuggled 49,920 sacks of rice placed inside 96 units of 20-footer container vans and declared the shipment as granite slabs, granite tiles, stone slabs and wall insulators. The shipment, amounting to P63,897.600, arrived at the Port of Cebu in March.
Under the law, all rice importations must be covered by permits from the National Food Authority (NFA). The shipment would be auctioned off as part of the BOC’s effort to raise revenue, Manzano said. BOC Commissioner Rufino Biazon has ordered all customs frontline operatives to be on the lookout for more smuggling attempts of food items in the coming weeks with the onset of the Christmas season. The filing of smuggling charges against Belarma brings to 104 the total number of cases filed by the BOC in Biazon’s two years as Customs chief. This also brings to 147 the total number of smuggling cases filed by the BOC at the DOJ during the administration of President Aquino. ‘Probe high rice prices’ Meanwhile, two senators want separate inquiries conducted over the high prices of rice, onions and garlic in the market. Sen. Loren Legarda yesterday called the Department of Agriculture (DA) and NFA to task for their inability to keep rice prices stable after the country was hit by Typhoon Labuyo and Tropical Storm Maring recently. Legarda has filed Senate Resolution No. 233 “to determine the actual state of the rice supply in the country and the role and policies of the DA and NFA relative to our goal of achieving rice sufficiency in the country.” She said rice prices have increased by P2 to P5 a kilo last month. An NFA spokesperson admitted last week that typhoons, which hit major rice-producing provinces in Luzon, might have caused rice prices to increase. As the agency responsible for ensuring the stability of rice prices, Legarda said the NFA and the DA should anticipate the adverse effects of these weather disturbances on rice supplies and take the necessary measures to prevent price increases. Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on environment and natural resources, said she would ask agriculture officials to explain why the DA and NFA were unable to take action on possible rice shortages despite possessing supply projections showing that the effects of climate change would result in a shortfall in supply. 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.
According to the FSSP, this year, if rice supplies are affected by climate change in a high demand environment, there would be a maximum shortfall of 680,000 metric tons. “While these numbers constitute a worst-case scenario, 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,” Legarda said. She said the inquiry would provide an opportunity for the Senate “to evaluate the DA and NFA’s projections, consult experts on the soundness of these figures, and see if the DA and the NFA have been doing enough to ensure rice supplies in the face of the negative effects of climate change.” For her part, Sen. Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, sought a Senate inquiry on how the DA issues permits for importation of garlic and onions following reports of a monopoly in the distribution of agricultural products. Villar filed Senate Resolution No. 238, citing Article XII of the Constitution which states that “the goals of national economy are a more equitable distribution of opportunities, income, and wealth; a sustained increase in the amount of goods and services produced by the nation for the benefit of the people, and an expanding productivity as the key to raising the quality of life for all, especially the underprivileged.” – With Christina Mendez http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/09/13/1204181/trader-charged-rice-smuggling
Inconsistent policies seen cause of rice price hikes Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:28 am | Friday, September 13th, 2013
KIDAPAWAN CITY, Philippines—The provincial head of the National Food Authority (NFA) in North Cotabato blamed the rising costs of rice on unscrupulous traders even as another lawmaker called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) and NFA to stick to a 2011-2016 food sufficiency program to ensure affordable rice prices. Avelino Usman, provincial NFA manager, said while the release of NFA rice to the market was aimed at keeping prices stable, NFA officials are wondering why prices continue to go up. In a statement quoting him, Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz (Abakada-Guro party-list group) said the 2011-2016 Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP) was an example of good coordination between the DA and NFA, but “we do not understand why DA and NFA officials just don’t stick with the plan that they themselves put together.” Inconsistencies Dela Cruz said the reason for supply shortages and price increases is the “adoption of policies that are inconsistent with the FSSP.” “What they are doing now contradicts the recommendations of the FSSP,” said Dela Cruz. One of these, he said, is the involvement of the private sector in rice importation. The NFA currently enjoys a monopoly over rice importation, resulting in the agency paying duties for imported rice. “If the agenda is rice self-sufficiency,” said Dela Cruz, “then all the DA and NFA have to do is stick to the plan.” “Unless our officials have another agenda,” he said. In this city alone, a kilogram of well-milled rice sells for P42 up by P5 from P37 per kilogram.
In other provinces, the situation is worse as retailers there sell rice at an average of P44 per kilogram. 40 sacks monthly Usman said each month, since the lean season started, NFA has been releasing 40 sacks of rice to retailers at a market here alone each month.
Usman, however, said there have been reports that unscrupulous rice retailers would mix NFA rice, which sells for P27 to P32 per kilogram, with commercial rice and sell them for higher prices. But he said the reports have yet to be proven. “We cannot discount the possibility” that the reports are true, he said. “That is why we are on constant monitoring of our various accredited outlets in the province,” Usman said. He said dishonest rice retailers would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Usman said there was no rice shortage in the province and that the food agency has more than enough stocks that could last until the harvest season. “To date NFA-North Cotabato has 24,000 sacks that serve as buffer stocks and 27,000 sacks of palay ready for milling,” he said. Williamor A. Magbanua, Inquirer Mindanao http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/486525/inconsistent‐policies‐seen‐cause‐of‐rice‐price‐ hikes#ixzz2ekWlGW2C
Nation Posted on September 12, 2013 10:47:24 PM
Whistle‐blower details mess THE GOVERNMENT’S star witness in the controversial fund scandal yesterday detailed before a Senate inquiry the anomaly allegedly involving lawmakers linked to a businesswoman, the principal suspect.
Benhur K. Luy, the principal whistle‐blower and former employee of suspect Janet Lim‐Napoles, stopped short of naming senators in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel, mess but provided the Blue Ribbon committee with processes on how the money ‐‐ released by implementing agencies ‐‐ ended up with lawmakers and Napoles using fake nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as recipients. Mr. Luy said the implementing agencies linked to the Napoles caper are Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC), National Livelihood Development Corp. (NLDC), National Agribusiness Corp. (NABCOR), and Zamboanga del Norte Agricultural College Rubber Estate Corp. (ZREC). The NGO recipients identified by former officials in previous hearings as linked to Napoles, meanwhile, were confirmed by Mr. Luy. These are the Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc. (MAMFI); People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation, Inc. (POPDFI); and Social Development for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (SDPFFI). The agencies and NGOs were previously identified in a special audit report of the Commission on Audit (CoA), and affirmed by the testimonies of CoA Chairman Maria Gracia M. Pulido‐Tan and former officials of NABCOR and ZREC in hearings earlier this week. Asked by senators on how the implementing agencies were chosen, Mr. Luy said: “Ms. Napoles has connection with the IAs (implementing agencies).” The sharing of kickbacks, Mr. Luy also said, was “50% for the lawmaker; 10% for the implementing agency, and the remaining 40% for Ms. Napoles.”
On occasions, he added, chiefs‐of‐staff of the lawmaker receive a one to two percent commission. Mr. Luy said he has the bank accounts of the legislators or the chiefs‐of‐staff where the funds were deposited. The PDAF would be disbursed in two tranches: 50% upon listing of the transaction, in which the implementing agency would be chosen from a “menu” of the Department of Budget and Management; and the remaining 50% upon the issuance of the Special Allotment Release Order (SARO), he said. Asked on who initiates the deal, Mr. Luy said: “The lawmakers would walk in to the office of JLN enterprise and lobby their PDAF.” JLN is the company set up by Napoles. Pressed for names, Mr. Luy refused to divulge the identity of senators who endorsed their PDAF and received commission from Napoles pending the filing of charges. Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima, who was seated beside Mr. Luy, said that the first set of charges will be filed on Monday. Aside from PDAF, the government is also looking into the alleged unauthorized use of royalties from the Malampaya gas‐to‐power project off Palawan province. “The NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) is also investigating the Malampaya fund controversy as one of the whistle‐blowers is privy to the issue,” Ms. de Lima noted. The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a stay order on the remaining PDAF of lawmakers for the year, and disbursements from the Malampaya fund for non‐energy related expenditures.On the sidelines of the Senate inquiry, Senator Teofisto L. Guingona III, Blue Ribbon chairman, said that “today [yesterday] it was established that there is really corruption and money given to legislators. Unfortunately, they were not named. But we will find out on Monday.” Asked if other whistle‐blowers will be summoned, Mr. Guingona said: “I think the most important whistle‐blower has already testified. I think he is very credible and very believable.” He added “there is very reasonable basis to conclude that there is either malversation of public funds or plunder committed by some legislators.” ‐‐ Kathleen T. de Villa http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Whistle‐blower‐details‐ mess&id=76440
Shrimp business by Floro Mercene September 12, 2013
Ten years ago, the Philippines used to be one of the biggest shrimp producers – No. 3 – in the world and ten years before that, the shrimp production had emerged as the country’s “sunshine industry.” Local shrimp production has since experienced a setback due to the early mortality syndrome (EMS), a disease that hit shrimp populations in Asia. Today, we’ve been downgraded to No. 8. The current three largest producers are China, Thailand, and Vietnam, but they too have been hit by EMS. Shrimp prices have reached record high in Japan and other countries that have a fondness for shrimp tempura. According to reports, global shrimp production will be down 10 percent this year. Global prices have risen $1-2 per kg, on an average, this month. The average global price has increased to $9-9.5 a kg (for 20-30 count) from $7-7.5 a few weeks ago. The EMS outbreak in China, Vietnam and Thailand has created double-digit yearly contraction in shrimp supply, leading to prices hitting record levels. Our Department of Agriculture (DA) has encouraged local producers to engage in a crash program so it can start to regain its dominance amid a strong global demand. The DA has developed new technologies, equipment, market linkages, as well as agro-fishery practices. Farmers are taught culturing shrimps that are resistant to diseases. They are urged to produce vannamei for the domestic market and the bigger native monodon for export. There is a strong market demand for vannamei (white shrimp) and monodon (tiger shrimp) in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and United States. The Philippine black tiger shrimp has a high-value export niche as neighboring Asian countries find it more difficult to grow. We have stopped import of live shrimps and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has also banned the entry of crabs and lobsters, which can carry and transmit the disease. BFAR said it is also monitoring the spread of EMS in Singapore, Myanmar, Brunei, and Cambodia. Meanwhile, a research team led by Donald Lightner at the University of Arizona found that EMS is caused by a bacterial agent, which is transmitted orally, colonizes the shrimp gastrointestinal
tract, and produces a toxin that causes tissue destruction and dysfunction of the digestive organ known as the hepatopancreas. It does not affect human beings. Lightner’s team identified the EMS pathogen as a unique strain of a relatively common bacterium, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, that is infected by a virus known as a phage, which causes it to release a potent toxin. Its growth is anchored on safety measures in production areas, including controlling fungus and shrimp diseases. Western Visayas, one of the country’s top shrimp producers, has a BFARaccredited shrimp diagnostic laboratory so Negros growers can resolve disease problems. The BFAR center in Dagupan, Pangasinan, has a molecular pathology laboratory which detects if a shrimp is a virus-carrier. Our eventual success could be credited through the untiring efforts of DA Secretary Proceso J. Alcala and BFAR Director,lawyer Asis G. Perez and other officers and personnel of the two agencies. http://www.mb.com.ph/shrimp‐business/
Senate sets rice, onion, and garlic investigation by Mario Casayuran September 13, 2013
Manila, Philippines — The Senate Agriculture Committee will conduct on Monday a public inquiry on the instability of rice prices and set later next week a similar probe into the alleged monopoly in the importation and distribution of imported garlic and onions. The shooting up of prices of these agricultural products caused Senator Cynthia Villar to conduct the separate public hearings as agriculture committee chairperson. Villar filed Senate Resolution 238 seeking the hearing, in aid of legislation, on the present policies and practices of the Department of Agriculture (DA) on the importation of garlic and onions vis-a-vis claims of monopolization in their distribution. Sen. Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, had sought a public hearing on why the prices of rice are high. Legarda had faulted the DA and the National Food Authority (NFA) for their inability to keep rice prices stable after the country had been hit by storms “Labuyo” and “Maring” despite assurances from the NFA in June that “notwithstanding the onset of the rainy season, the country has sufficient rice supply” and that the NFA “would keep prices stable.” With the inquiry on garlic and onions set on Friday next week, Villar said, the Senate will be able to come up with appropriate policies to protect consumers from unjust prices. She noted that the lack of new import permits limits the number of onion and garlic distributors to a select group in the country.This scenario, thus, allows one group to set the price of agricultural goods at a relatively high market price and earn large profits, she said. “The proliferation of imported garlic and onions in the market has adversely affected the local producers,” Villar said. She said consumers are the ones greatly prejudiced by the increased prices of onion and garlic. Under DA Administrative Order No. 18, Series of 2000, Villar said an Import Permit (SPS Certificate) is required prior to the importation of agricultural products, live animals, plants, fishes, as well as their products and by-products. She said a case has already been filed before the Regional Trial Court of Manila against the DA, the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), and the Plant Quarantine Services (PQS) on the importation permit issue. The Philippine Federation of Food Industry Inc. (PFFII) had earlier filed with the Manila RTC an auction for mandamus against DA Secretary Proceso Alcala, BPI Director Clarito Barron and PQS Chief Luben Marasigan on the issue. The BPI, through its attached agency PQS, issues import permits for plant and plant products through a sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) clearance. http://www.mb.com.ph/senate-sets-rice-onion-and-garlic-investigation/
All about rice & pork by fred lobo September 12, 2013
Agriculture officials maintain that there is no rice shortage in the country. No rice shortage, folks. Just rice price increase. *** But legislators, especially Magdalo party-list representatives, say that the truth about the country’s rice supply situation will be known when the House starts its inquiry into the matter. Hurry, probe it as the issue matters to millions of rice-eating Filipinos. *** As this develops, about 600 fighters of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) stage a predawn attack on the city of Zamboanga, killing at least six people, injuring 24 others, and holding hostage about 220 medical workers and patients. They are not after rice but after the Bangsa Moro Republik. *** Former President FVR suggests that President Aquino III or his emissaries talk with MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari and his boys to avert further trouble in the South. Yes to dialogue, no to bloodshed. Go South of the border, the FVR way. *** Misuari declares independence for the Bangsa Moro Republik in Sulu wearing a black jacket with a ”JESS” inscription. Jesus Christ, Jess Dureza, or Jesstoni? *** Meanwhile, the Supreme Court restrains the release of the “pork barrel” PDAF fund and the Malampaya fund pending resolution of the question as to its constitutionality. PNoy-suspended, SC-restrained “pork barrel” is really too hot to handle.
*** Lawmakers say that newly discovered evidence in the pork barrel scam points to the existence of a syndicate also operating within the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). Probe em, too, legislators cry. *** Lawmakers involved in the controversial P10-billion pork barrel (Priority Development Assistance Fund) scandal face automatic suspension from Congress if charged by a prosecutor with plunder in court, says Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago. An early warning from Miriam the Constitutionalist. *** The Philippines is the only emerging Asian nation with strong business cycle momentum, the OECD reports. Let’s hope the cycle continues and is not derailed by the “pork barrel scam.” *** Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay and Taguig City Mayor Lani Cayetano agree to keep the peace over the disputed Fort Bonifacio Global City. No to piggy brawl. Let’s stay cool and think global. He-he! http://www.mb.com.ph/all-about-rice-pork/
‘Just stick to govt rice sufficiency program’ September 12, 2013 7:12 pm by JHOANNA BALLARAN REPORTER A lawmaker pressed on the Department of Agriculture (DA) and National Food Authority (NFA) officials on Thursday to stick with the government’s plan to ensure the country’s rice sufficiency by 2016. At the House of Representatives’ Committee Hearing on Agriculture on Wednesday, Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz of Abakada party-list said that the DA and NFA should strictly follow the 2011-2016 Food Staples and Sufficiency Program (FSSP) to ensure the rice supply. “The DA and NFA worked together on a very good, very sound plan to ensure rice selfsufficiency by 2016, which is why we do not understand why DA and NFA officials just don’t stick with the plan they themselves put together,” dela Cruz said in a statement. According to NFA officials, the Philippines need to import additional 500,000 metric tons of rice for next year. The lawmaker said that this approach of the NFA drains the agency’s fund— instead of implementing higher taxes for rice imports, it bears the tax costs. “Rather than earn from fees it charges rice importers, the NFA is instead bearing the tax costs of importing rice. And now rather than us being rice self-sufficient, we now learn that we have to import an additional half million metric tons of rice,” lamented dela Cruz. The lawmaker said that the problem with rice supply is the result of policy implementation inconsistent with the FSSP. He reminded the NFA that according to the FSSP, the agency should have a limited role in rice importation and should focus instead in buffer stocking, intensifying palay procurement and strengthen price support. “If they adopt the recommendations of the FSSP, we could probably earn P10-billion annually, while keeping pace with our food security program,” he added. Rice prices have soared since the start of September but the NFA said that the country has enough rice supply. Smuggler-saboteurs Meanwhile, authorities have already identified the personalities believed to be responsible in the massive manipulation and sabotage of rice supply in the country following the discovery of some P15-billion worth of rice that were smuggled into the country from Vietnam.
This developed as the Philippine National Police-Intelligence Group reportedly raided the ship Komatse Star docked at the Manila Bay from which some 1.6 million sacks of rice worth P15 billion were discovered. The authorities involved in the raid however are yet to divulge the complete details of the operations purportedly so as not to affect their ongoing follow-up operations. The ship is reportedly being used to repack the smuggled rice and the government stood to lose some P15 billion in revenues had the smugglers succeeded in bringing it to the market even at the price of P500 per sack. A certain A. Yang and Alex S reportedly act as contacts of the group inside the Bureau of Customs (BOC) who are responsible for facilitating the “necessary” documentary requirements of the smuggled rice. Agents who were involved in the operations but who requested anonymity revealed that prior to the raid, a meeting was held on August 11 in an undisclosed place among several key figures behind the botched P15-billion smuggle attempt. They identified the personalities as a very high official of the BOC, and a few other private businessmen, including a certain Eldon Cruz. It is not yet clear if Cruz is the “presidential brother-in-law” or husband of Aquino’s sister Ballsy. The same group is reportedly also angling to spirit out of BoC premises a huge volume of smuggled rice which was part of initial smuggling operations. Another ship MV Song Nan also loaded with millions of metric tons of smuggled rice is also awaiting the go ahead while docked in the Port of Manila to unload the products. The smugglers have reportedly banded together to get back at Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag who have earlier imposed strict rice importation requirements to protect the interest of local farmers. Both Alcala and Calayag have stood firm in their declaration that the country has sufficient rice supply and stock and that there is no shortage of the main staple especially now that it has already reached the harvest months of September and October. The operatives discovered that the smugglers have reportedly used and manipulated the media by giving false information to confuse the public make it appear that there is a rice shortage and thus force the NFA to allow more importation of the product. They added that the same group is behind in the false text messages that the NFA was giving away free rice in various big markets in Metro Manila.Alcala has earlier sought the help of the authorities to run after and apprehend those behind the false text messages and file charges of economic sabotage against them. WITH REPORT FROM JING VILLAMENTE http://www.manilatimes.net/just-stick-to-govt-rice-sufficiency-program/39239/
Guppy fish can help control dengue in PHL–ADB study Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Thursday, 12 September 2013 19:00 Written by Cai U. Ordinario A larvae-eating guppy fish can help control dengue incidence in the Philippines, according to experts from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). ADB Southeast Asia Department Human and Social Development Division Health Specialist Gerard Servais said households and communities can invest as low as P20 per guppy fish to help control dengue at home or in barangays. This, the expert said, can be a simple solution to a serious health risk in the Philippines and the entire Southeast Asian region. Servais noted that as of September 5, there are 96,000 dengue cases in the Philippines. “This is a low-cost, year-round, safe way of reducing the spread of dengue in which the whole community can participate,” Servais said in a news conference on Thursday. “It offers a viable alternative to using chemicals and can reduce the scale of costly emergency response activities to contain epidemics,” he added. Servais said one or two guppy fish can keep a tank of water larvae-free for three to four months. After such time, the guppy fish die and would need to be replaced. The expert added that any size of tank can be kept clean by one or two guppies. The water in the tanks can also be safe for drinking and will not be contaminated by the guppies. The ADB said the trial study showed that guppies do not harm water quality and can survive on microscopic organic material in the absence of mosquito larvae. At the project close in Cambodia, about 88 percent of the storage containers contained guppies, with the figure at 76 percent in Lao PDR. Servais also said that if households or entire communities are keen on growing their own guppy fish, they only need to buy a male and female guppy fish to propagate it. After an initial P40 investment, households and communities can grow their own for their consumption. “The study we’ve made has shown that the guppy fish don’t have an impact on the biological quality of the water. It’s safe, even for drinking water,” Servais said. “It can be a one-time purchase, or sometimes in the village they have water ponds where they raise guppy fish. If you want to raise or grow guppy fish so they have babies, you have to feed them. You take a rice husk and that one you can use [to feed the fish]. It’s very, very cheap or in the village it’s free,” he added.
The ADB and World Health Organization recently supported a trial study conducted by the governments of Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) on the guppy fish. The community-based project, conducted in two districts in Cambodia and the Lao PDR from 2009 to 2011, resulted in a sharp decline in mosquito larvae in water-storage tanks after the tiny fish were introduced. Guppies eat larvae that grow into mosquitoes, which, in turn, bite humans and transmit dengue. The ADB explained that dengue causes severe joint and muscle pain, headache, high fever and rashes, and is fatal in a small proportion of cases, in particular, if not diagnosed and treated early. “Outbreaks of the illness not only affect families with sudden health-care costs and loss of incomes for adults put out of work, but also impact health services, businesses and tourism, straining government budgets due to unplanned spending on large-scale emergency response measures. Currently there is still no vaccine or specific medicine to treat this viral disease,” the ADB said. The ADB said around 2.5 billion people worldwide are at risk of contracting dengue, more than 70 percent of whom live in Asia and the Pacific. The Philippines is one of the most at risk to dengue in Asia. The Manila-based multilateral development bank also said that the threat of exposure to denguecarrying mosquitoes is rising with urbanization and a surge in the use of non-biodegradable packaging, which can act as a water reservoir for dengue mosquito breeding. Dengue is spread by a specific mosquito that breeds readily in standing water, such as found in storage containers, flower pots and discarded tires. The guppies are particularly effective in these settings. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri‐commodities/19294‐guppy‐fish‐can‐ help‐control‐dengue‐in‐phl‐adb‐study
Government slaps ban on poultry from Taiwan, Netherlands town Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Thursday, 12 September 2013 18:58 Written by Recto Mercene Manila has slapped a temporary ban on poultry products, including day-old chicks and eggs from Taiwan and Tzum in Friesland, the Netherlands. The Department of Agriculture (DA) issued Memorandum Orders 28 and 29 authorizing the implementation of the ban. Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the ban on Taiwanese poultry was imposed after the Animal Health Research Institute in Taiwan confirmed the presence of low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) in a duck farm. The DA slapped the ban on poultry products from Tzum in Friesland, the Netherlands, after the LPAI serotype H7 detected in domestic birds was confirmed by its Central Veterinary Institute. While Taiwan and the Netherlands are not major sources of poultry meat and other poultry products for the Philippines, imposing the ban was necessary. “Travelers may bring in birds and its products from Friesland, the Netherlands, and Taiwan,” Alcala said. Alcala said there is a need to prevent the entry of the LPAI virus to protect the health of local poultry, which remains avian influenza-free. With the temporary ban in place, the DA has suspended the processing, evaluation of application and issuance of veterinary quarantine clearance to import the poultry meat and other poultry products from Taiwan and Tzum, Friesland. Alcala warned that live poultry and poultry meat originating from Tzum, Friesland, and Taiwan will be confiscated. Meanwhile, airport Customs and animal quarantine officials confiscated more than 15 kilograms of uncooked chicken and duck meat, including 6 kilos of fresh duck eggs from Chinese passenger from Xiamen on Wednesday night. Customs examiner Mark Almase discovered hot items hidden in a cooler box wrapped with plastic bags. Animal quarantine officer Arlon Sanchez said a temporary ban on the importation of domestic and wild birds, including day-old chicken, eggs and other poultry products, from China still stands because of the outbreak of bird flu in that country. The Chinese passengers failed to produce health certificates and import permit, leading Sanchez to confiscate the items. He said this is meant to protect the local poultry industry from possible contamination from avian influenza and to protect the local poultry population. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri‐commodities/19293‐government‐ slaps‐ban‐on‐poultry‐from‐taiwan‐netherlands‐town
PCAARD taps Searca, UPLB to review agriculture plans Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Thursday, 12 September 2013 18:56 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) has commissioned the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca) and the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) to assess the agency’s industry strategic science and technology plans (ISPs) for crops, livestock and inland aquatic resources. Aside from working on the review of ISPs, Searca Director Gil C. Saguiguit Jr. said his office will also provide more than P500,000 in counterpart funds to the one-year project costing P13.76 million. ISPs outline the targets for each industry and identify the aspects of the industry in which S&T will make a difference. The ex-ante analysis will estimate the economic value of each ISP before research and development (R&D) projects are undertaken. It involves quantitative assessment of the possible net financial gain and economic benefits from each proposed R&D project. The results of the project will provide bases for more informed decision-making, as well as more effective and efficient implementation of the ISPs. The ISPs under crops are abaca, banana, coconut, mango and rice. The PCAARRD said it has been trying to intensify S&T interventions for crops to achieve food security, with emphasis placed on rice production. The Philippines is also the dominant player in the global abaca trade, accounting for 90 percent of abaca pulp and fiber sold worldwide. It is also second in coconut production and is the principal player in the production and export of coconut oil (CNO). Banana is another key export commodity that is seeking to have a broader market to prevent its dependence on the China market. Among the significant targets for S&T interventions is livestock, with the PCAARRD working on duck, goat, native chicken, layer and swine. The Philippines has been free from the dreaded foot-and-mouth disease that has hobbled many Asian countries and is also free from the equally lethal avian influenza that had obliterated the chicken and duck populations in China, Hong Kong and other Southeast Asian nations. The ISPs for inland aquatic resources cover milkfish, mud crab, tilapia and shrimp. Aquaculture is now responsible for more than 50 percent of all the fish food consumed on the planet. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri‐commodities/19292‐pcaard‐taps‐ searca‐uplb‐to‐review‐agriculture‐plans
GenSan Halal food outlet opens by Joseph T. Jubelag September 12, 2013
General Santos City (GenSan) – The first Halal pizza business in southern Mindanao opened in this city to cater to Muslim and non-Muslim customers who strictly abide to sentient foods. Halal is defined as foods that Muslims are allowed to eat or drink according to Islamic law, and the opposite of this is haram, which means acts that are prohibited in the religious texts of the Qur’an. The category of haram is the highest status of prohibition. Pizza Rayyan, which is owned by Moro couple Abdulraouf and Nurhatima Aljani Masdoc, bakes pizza delights that include Beef Supreme, Cheese Overload, Chicken Supreme, and Hawaiian Delight. The couple said their business started in 2010 before Abdulraouf went to work in Saudi Arabia. “That time we’re still producing Halal homemade pizza, which we deliver through orders of our friends and relatives,” Nurhatima said. The couple’s home-based business stopped in 2011 when Abdulraouf left for Saudi Arabia for a two-year employment contract in a catering company in Mecca. Instead of renewing his employment contract early this year, Abdulraouf decided to bring back the small business they started before. The couple makes use of their garage at their house at the Izabella Homes in Barangay San Isidro, this city, to set up their first outlet for customers who choose to dine in. They said Muslim residents in the city can now avail of 101-percent Halal pizza. “If you order vegetable flavored pizza from the existing pizza chains in the city, those are that come from the same oven where pork-containing flavors were baked,” Nurhatima explained. An advocate of Halal (permissible) food, Nurhatima said Muslims are unsure if the pizza they eat from commercial pizza parlors are 100 percent not contaminated with Haram (forbidden) ingredients. Meanwhile, the Masdoc couple is looking forward to find a space to open a branch at the downtown area soon for the accessibility of customers. http://www.mb.com.ph/gensan‐halal‐food‐outlet‐opens/
Editorial: Mindanao gets Agricultural Development Boost September 13, 2013 (updated)
Japan is financing another huge development project in Mindanao designed to enhance the productivity of its farmers, thereby ensuring food security and self-sufficiency for the country. The Japan Information and Cultural Center (JICC) said Tokyo, through its Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), is extending to the Philippines a 6.063-billion-yen (P2.75-billion) loan package to finance a project called Mindanao Sustainable Agrarian Reform and Agriculture Development (MinSAAD). The five-year project was launched on September 3, 2013, in Davao City. The MinSAAD project will provide small-scale agricultural infrastructure, including irrigation facilities, post-harvest facilities, farm-to-market roads, and capacity-building support in 12 selected settlement areas in three regions in Mindanao covering 205 barangays and 25 towns. Around 70,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries are expected to directly benefit from the project. The undertaking is expected to cause a beneficial ripple effect on the more than 400,000 residents of the 12 settlement areas. The JICA loan is complemented with R1.1-billion counterpart fund from the Philippine government. The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) serves as the lead implementing agency, along with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), and other government agencies. The Japanese government is the leading donor in Mindanao. Bound by its basic principle of “human resources development, nation-building, and heart-to-heart communication,” JICA has undertaken various development and humanitarian projects all over the country that have greatly benefited the Filipino people since 1962. The Manila Bulletin, led by its Chairman of the Board of Directors Dr. Emilio T. Yap, President and Publisher Atty. Hermogenes P. Pobre, Executive Vice President Dr. Emilio C. Yap III, Editor-in-Chief Dr. Cris J. Icban Jr. Business Editor Loreto D. Cabañes, Officers and Employees, congratulate people and government of Japan headed by Their Excellencies, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and through its Embassy in Manila led by Ambassador Toshinao Urabe for their generosity, kindness, and nobility of spirit of Japan in the Republic of the Philippines. MABUHAY! http://www.mb.com.ph/mindanao‐gets‐agricultural‐development‐boost/
Mining industry seeks stable business environment Category: Economy Published on Thursday, 12 September 2013 20:15 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga Mining industry’s big players on Thursday expressed concern over the ongoing review of the fiscal regime for the mineral development sector and want the government to put in place a stable environment to ensure the industry’s growth and development. The concerns were raised during the Mining Philippines 2013 Conference and Exhibition at the Sofitel Hotel on Thursday, the biggest gathering of mining industry’s big players, to tackle the challenges faced by the mining industry. Mining investment has, for the past two years, fallen short of government targets owing to mining policy inconsistencies and uncertainties that tend to put on hold mining investments.Top executives of government’s mining contractors, including New Zealand-based Oceana Gold, MRL Gold Inc. and Atlas Consolidated Mining Corp. expressed interest to see a stable fiscal regime in the country. Oceana Gold, which is now the country’s only operating financial and technical assistance agreement (FTAA) contractor hopes rules will not suddenly change midstream, according to Mick Wilkes, Oceana Gold Philippines Inc. (Ogpi) managing director and chief executive officer. “The FTAA is a contract between Oceana Gold and the government. We invested on the basis of that tax regime which is on the high side. We’re hoping to get a comfortable return from Didipio even though the tax is high. That’s the contract that we entered into,” Wilkes said at the sidelines of the Mining Philippines 2013 Conference and Exhibition. The Ogpi, which launched commercial operation on April 1 this year, has poured in close to $500 million into the copper-gold project in Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya. The company projects an $8.5-billion benefit to the Philippine economy in terms of its multiplier effect behind its estimated $3.3-billion export revenue. “Mining by itself is capital intensive. You have to put in a lot of money to find it [resources]. If you’re lucky enough to find it, you’ve got to have hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars to develop it,” Wilkes said. “To make that decision to invest that money, you need certainty that the tax regime will not change. It’s very important.” MRL Gold Inc., a subsidiary of the Singaporean Red Mountain, meanwhile, has two mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) contracts to develop a gold project in Lobo, Batangas. While it believes it may not be affected by the ongoing government review on revenue sharing, it may not pursue mine development if rules are changed to its disadvantage.
“If we are allowed to pursue development and get it into production under current fiscal regime, then we’ll start to work on the financial models. Then we go to the banks and say ‘This is the fiscal regime, you lend us the money.’ If government changes it, we may not get the funding,” MRL Gold Inc. Philippines Manager Geoff Boswell said. “You may get a greater percentage of nothing because they’re changing the rules. It’s a very sensitive thing. The model that we used for funding may no longer be viable,” Boswell added. Clariden Holdings, a unit under San Miguel Corp. that is buying into metallic mining properties, cannot immediately pursue acquisition plans due to the moratorium on new mining permit issuances. “We’re having problems with rights because new issuances for MPSA had been stopped. The other thing is not only MPSA. The NCIP [National Commission on Indigenous Peoples] followed suit. They’re not giving free and prior informed consent to new applications,” Clariden President Horacio Ramos, a former secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), said. Foreign investors are imperative to mining development, added Ramos. “Mining is highly capital intensive. The money you can utilize to explore development is normally not in the Philippines. You access it abroad, so you need foreign banks,” Ramos a former environment secretary, said. Assuming Philippine companies have capital, they still could not carry out many big projects, he added. “Filipino companies with capital like San Miguel can get foreign loans. But that’s not all. What about technology? Who among us, despite being big like Philex or Atlas, can operate a big mine like Tampakan? None. It has to be foreign firms with technical experience.” Ramos said the best approach to a foreign partnership policy on mining is the adoption of a “big brother, small brother” tie-up. “Foreign groups should joint venture with Filipino companies as big brother on 50-50 sharing or whatever system there can be, defining the role of each. One can take care of the operations, the other takes care of the social, political tasks,” he said. Atlas Consolidated Mining has also been eyeing new projects to make its operations sustainable even after exhaustion of its Carmen copper mine in Cebu. But it could not pour in investments in exploration since new permit approval is on hold while the fiscal regime review is ongoing, its officials said. Costs of projects that can be easily put to production are also more prohibitive. “We’re evaluating most copper and gold [prospects]. But most the MPSAs are quite expensive,” ACMDC Executive Vice President Adrian Ramos said. Jose P. Leviste, Ogpi chairman, quoted a Department of Finance statement that given more investment in mining, the Philippines can hit an additional 2-percent growth in gross domestic product even on top of the 7.8-percent growth registered in the first quarter of the year. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/economy/19321‐mining‐industry‐seeks‐stable‐ business‐environment
Pork protesters tagged ‘emotional’ Top LP leader says people demanding PDAF death should be ‘objective’ By Jennifer Sumagang‐Allegado, Jhunnex Napallacan Inquirer Visayas 12:30 am | Friday, September 13th, 2013 2 21 11
SENEN SARMIENTO CALBAYOG CITY, Samar, Philippines —A high-ranking official of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) cried foul over public outrage at the plunder of public funds through the pork barrel system, appealing to those demanding death to pork, mostly taxpayers, not to be emotional. Senen Sarmiento, representative of Samar’s first district and LP secretary general, said he worried about the students who relied on his pork for their education. Sarmiento said he maintained at least 2,000 scholars using public funds through his pork. Another congressman, Luigi Quisumbing of Cebu’s sixth district, admitted he dished out pork but not through the Philippine Forest Corp. (Philforest).
Sarmiento, who is from one of the country’s poorest provinces, said people should look at pork objectively. “Let’s be objective!” Sarmiento exclaimed. Abolishing pork, he said, “is not a problem to those in Manila because the cities are rich and can attend to the needs of their residents.” “What will happen to the patient from a poor family in a remote town in Samar and the district, provincial or regional hospital cannot attend to his special medical needs that can be treated only in specialized hospitals in Metro Manila?” Sarmiento said.
He said a system should take pork’s place to give the poor from the provinces access to medical services that are available only in urban areas. According to records at the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Sarmiento used public funds through his pork to send 2,141 students to Northwest Samar State University (NWSSU) and Christ the King College. Tuition at NWSSU, a government-run institution, is P120 per unit for an undergraduate course. Sarmiento used P1.4 million of public funds, through his pork, for his “scholars.” The DBM records said Sarmiento also used P12.5 million of public funds for medical, surgical and dental missions. He also used P1 million of public funds to subsidize the expenses of poor patients at Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Philippine Children’s Medical Center, Philippine Heart Center and Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center. DBM records said Sarmiento also spent P20 million in public funds for a road project in Calbayog City. In Cebu, Quisumbing said he did not dish out pork to Philforest, contrary to an earlier Inquirer report. He said he did spend public funds through his pork but these went to projects implemented by the Department of Agriculture. The Commission on Audit (COA), in a report released recently, said at least P900,000 of public funds credited as Quisumbing’s pork went to Kabuhayan at Kalusugang Alay sa Masa Foundation Inc. At least P750,000 went to Kasangga sa Magandang Bukas Foundation Inc. The COA questioned the use of public funds for the groups. Quisumbing said it was the agriculture department that picked the two groups, however. The department, said Quisumbing, certified and validated the livelihood projects that the two groups were supposed to have implemented. Quisumbing added that his pork was also used for medical programs and scholarships. Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/486533/pork‐protesters‐tagged‐emotional#ixzz2ekZgMwfg
Trade first casualty of territorial dispute with China Category: Economy Published on Thursday, 12 September 2013 20:08 Written by Estrella Torres BRUNEI—Trade between the Philippines and China has started to suffer owing to the territorial disputes on the South China Sea, a situation that is now pushing officials of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to rush the signing of a legally binding treaty that prevents Asean members and China from engaging in military confrontation. Asean Secretary-General Le Luong Minh told journalists here that a peaceful region is integral to building a single market for the 10 member-countries by 2015. “Now more than ever, it’s important to conclude the Code of Conduct [on the South China Sea]. We agreed to start consultation of senior ministers from Asean and China this month in China for the full implementation of the DOC [Declaration of Conduct] in the South China Sea to ensure peace and stability in the region,” Minh told journalists who attended the Second Editors Roundtable Forum organized by the Economic Research Institute for Asean and East Asia (Eria) at Radisson Hotel here. The DOC in the South China Sea, that was signed by Asean members and China in 2002, seeks a peaceful solution to the disputes and tasked members to finalize a binding Code of Conduct on the South China Sea. Minh said a peaceful solution to the South China Sea disputes that involve China and four Asean members—the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam—is critical to the success of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) that creates a single market by 2015. Other Asean members include Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Lao PDR, Singapore and Burma. He stressed that the governments of Asean member-countries cannot fully fund the ambitious Asean connectivity masterplan that requires $60 million annually in the next 10 years without the help of regional dialogue partners and private sector, including China. Philippine banana exporters face possible losses of up to $380 million annually following Chinese restrictions on bananas from the Philippines imposed since March this year. Chinese quarantine officials in March this year found scale of insects in more than 40 containers of Philippines bananas being exported to China, prompting Beijing to stop importing bananas from the country. The Philippine banana exports provide jobs to at least 200,000 Filipinos, mostly in Mindanao. The exporters have expressed optimism that Chinese restrictions will start to ease after their visit to China along with officials of the Department of Agriculture.
Banana exporters view the Chinese restrictions on their product as a retaliation to the Philippines’s decision to bring the territorial disputes with China before the United Nations’s Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague, the Netherlands, early this year. “For Asean to focus on the AEC 2015, it is critical to ensure peace and stability and address the disputes between Asean members and China,” Minh said, adding that China is Asean’s major source of investments. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/economy/19318‐trade‐first‐casualty‐of‐territorial‐ dispute‐with‐china
ANG BIGAS AT SI BOY PALUSOT by BIGWAS/Gil Bugaoisan Sep 12, 2013 7:27pm HKT
SA wakas, inamin na rin ng National Food Authority na nagyayabang lang pala itong si Pangulong Aquino nang ipinangalandakan nito sa kanyang nakalipas na State of the Nation Address na rice self-sufficient na ang bansa sa pagtatapos ng taong ito. Mukhang kinuryente siya ng kanyang paboritong Cabinet Secretary na si Agriculture Secretary Procy Alcala dahil mismong si Assistant Secretary Romeo Recide ng Bureau of Agricultural Statistics ang nagsabi na walang katotohanan na sapat na ang produksyon natin sa bigas. Sa unang araw ng ginagawang pagdinig ng Kamara hinggil sa ibinunyag na P457M tongpats sa ginawang importation ng bigas ng NFA mula sa bansang Vietnam, parang basing sisiw na inamin ni Recide na sinungaling ang kanyang boss Procy. Sa tantiya ni Recide, mahigit 500,000 metriko tonelada pa ang kakulangan ng Pilipinas kaya’t mas malabo pa sa tubig ng Pasig River ang ipinagmamalaki ni Pnoy sa kanyang SONA na kayang-kaya na nating makipagsabayan sa mga bansang gaya ng Vietnam pagdating sa produksyon ng bigas. Ayun pala eh. Eh bakit tila yata nasa mundo pa ng kababalaghan itong si Alcala na wala pa ring puknat sa kayang pagbibida na umano’y nagtagumpay na ang kanyang kagawaran para makamit ang rice self-sufficiency sa pagtatapos ng 2013. ‘Di nga ba’t ipinagyabang pa nitong si Procy na mula sa isang bansang umaasa sa imported na bigas ay nag-eeksport na umano ang Pilipinas. Aba’y kay yabang ano? Ang ‘di niya ipinaliliwanag eh ‘yung kanyang ipinagyayabang na ineskport natin sa ibang bansa ay hindi sapat upang mapakain kahit ang isang maliit na barangay sa isang araw. At dahil ibinuking na nga siya ni Recide, dapat siguro ay umamin na rin itong si Procy na pinagbobola lang niya tayong lahat, kasama na si Pnoy. Ang nakakatawa pa rito ay puro turo itong NFA at DA sa mga hoarder at umano’y mapagsamantalang negosyante na siyang may kagagawan sa patuloy na pagtaas ng presyo ng bigas. Ngunit sa isinagawang pagdinig, inamin ni NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag, na wala silang ebidensiya sa kanilang alegasyon na ito. Ang palusot pa nitong si Calayag eh bago pa lang umano siya sa NFA kaya’t hindi pa niya nakakapa ang katauhan ng kanilang mga hoarder at mapagsamantalang rice trader.
Kung ganun pala eh bakit turo-turo itong si Calayag? Mukhang bagay na yata sa kanya ang bansag na “Boy Palusot” dahil wala na itong ginawa kundi magpalusot! Kung inamin na lang sana ng NFA na kaya tumataas ang presyo ng bigas ay dahil kulang na kulang ang kanilang ibinabagsak na NFA rice sa merkado eh di sana kwentas klaras kung ano talaga ng problema natin sa bigas. **** Para sa inyong suhestiyon at komento, mag-email lamang sa email@example.com. http://www.remate.ph/2013/09/ang‐bigas‐at‐si‐boy‐palusot/#.UjKsLn‐veKE
Bright prospects for laterite producers–expert Category: Economy Published on Thursday, 12 September 2013 20:04 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga The prospects for Philippine laterite producers remain positive but a minerals-commodity expert said steps must be taken to position the country for stiff competition next year. Karim Awad, founder of Sigma Commodities, a natural resource and energy advisory firm, said the overall outlook for nickel remains positive and it presents a series of value-creating opportunities for Philippine producers. Speaking during the three-day Mining Philippines 2013 Conference and Exhibition at the Sofitel Hotel on Wednesday, Awad said a variety of factors could materially impact the nickel industry in the near term. Karim’s presentation entitled “Where next for Philippine nickel?” tackled potential developments in China and Indonesia and gave tips on how Philippine nickel producers can position themselves considering various factors affecting nickel prices, and the commodity’s supply and demand. These include a potential ban on Indonesian direct shipping ore in 2014; new supply sources of nickel and iron ore; Chinese efforts to restructure nickel pig iron smelter and steel capacity; and changes in Chinese demand for 200/300 series stainless steel. Analysts, he said predict an increase in nickel supply. At least 375 kilotons of gross additional output could come online by 2015, but he said there are significant variations among analysts on what each mine will contribute. He said that based on market supply and demand forecasts, the market still could fall into supply deficit by 2015 should particular catalysts come into play. A factor to be considered, according to Awad is that current regulations in Indonesia will lead to a ban on direct shipping ore exports by January 2014. Indonesia is China’s leading supplier of nickel ore. He said with a presidential election next year, it is unlikely that the Indonesian government will waiver such ban. At a minimum, the ban could be deferred—particularly with concerns over slowing economic growth. However, a phased approach is likely to be adopted, which in turn could limit supply and boost prices. According to Awad, while the Philippines has relatively lower grades of nickel compared to Indonesia, it benefits from a higher iron content. Higher iron content tends to be used in blast furnace operations in China as nickel pig iron (NPI), for low grade steel products, he explained.
He said Chinese nickel demand is expected to continue growing and NPI production has grown steadily over the years, which is expected to continue, as China shifts to lower cost Rotary Kiln Electric Furnaces (RKEF) relative to more costlier and lower quality blast furnace production The country’s nickel producers, he said, should take decisive action to cope with these developments. “Developments in Indonesia are likely to lead to some output leaving the seaborne market, providing at least a floor to nickel prices,” Awad said. This, nonetheless, could be offset by increased supply of iron ore depressing the value of ironrich laterite ores, significantly undermining profit margins and jeopardizing operations, he added. Awad said the medium term picture looks more optimistic for nickel prices, with the possibility of the market going into supply deficit around 2015. “Provided there are no credit events in China, this will be underpinned by increased spending in power generation, lower nickel grade terminals, transport, and potentially the development of its shale gas resources,” he said. Awad said there are a number of strategies that can be employed to protect short term value and enhance medium term profitability of a company engaged in nickel production. “How companies manage through these periods will be key, although there are a variety of options available, both to manage risk effectively, and to realize value,” he said. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/economy/19315‐bright‐prospects‐for‐laterite‐ producers‐expert
Government housing firm commits funds for Pangasinan resettlement project Category: Regions Published on Thursday, 12 September 2013 19:08 Written by Orly Guirao LINGAYEN, Pangasinan—A government corporation tasked to manage housing said it has committed P8.3 million for a resettlement area at a coastal village here. The National Housing Authority (NHA) said the funds would be released to the provincial government for the development of the 2.6-hectare Aplaya West Resettlement Project in the Pangasinan Norte coastal village. Alvin Bigay, chief of the Provincial Housing Development Office (PHDO), said the project is expected to benefit 295 informal settler families. The NHA had earlier approved the fund allocation under the agency’s Resettlement Assistance Program for local government units, Bigay added. The resettlement site has an area of 25,715 square meters and is covered by Presidential Proclamation 499 issued by then-President Fidel Ramos in 1994. The total development cost of the project is estimated at P11.6 million, Bigay said adding that the provincial government is allocating P3.2 million as its equity. According to Bigay, each housing unit with a floor area of 4.5 meters by 10 meters, will cost P100,000 and will be clustered in six row-type modules, complete with electrical, water supply and drainage system. The provincial government is negotiating for a P200-million loan with the Land Bank of the Philippines to finance the construction of the housing units, Bigay added. Bigay revealed that the NHA has also granted the request of the province to undertake the land development works by administration. He said the PHDO will use the provincial government’s equipment and manpower to maximize the funds allocated for the project. “Any excess [funds] would be used for the livelihood component of the beneficiaries.” Bigay added that the engineering office has started filling works while waiting for the funds to arrive. In a related development, employees of the NHA and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council arrived on Thursday for a two-day Pabahay Caravan in Pangasinan. The caravan composes government housing employees touring towns affected by the recent Typhoon Maring. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/regions/19297‐government‐housing‐firm‐commits‐ funds‐for‐pangasinan‐resettlement‐project
Government-MNLF fighting spreads to Basilan Category: Nation Published on Thursday, 12 September 2013 20:13 Written by Butch Fernandez and Rene Acosta THREE soldiers were wounded when a joint Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)-Abu Sayyaf Group attacked government forces and civilian communities in two towns in Basilan on Thursday, indicating that the government-MNLF confrontation in Zamboanga City has spread to Basilan. The skirmishes were the first pockets of rebellion that were reported and are directly associated with the ongoing standoff in Zamboanga, where government forces and MNLF fighters belonging to the faction of the front’s chairman, Nur Misuari, have been engaged in sporadic firefights since Monday. Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, Armed Forces Public Information Office chief, confirmed the casualties in Basilan. Senior Supt. Mario Dapilloza, Basilan police commander, identified the wounded as Pfcs. Ruel Martinez and Wilvan Caro, and MSgt. Ernesto Landagura. Capt. Jefferson Somera, spokesman for the Army’s 1st Infantry “Tabak” Division, said troops from the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion, who were guarding Christian communities in Barangay Colonia, Lamitan, Basilan, clashed for two hours with at least 150 gunmen, beginning at 9:30 a.m. He said the joint group of Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, headed by Commanders Furudji Indama, Isnilon Hapilon, Nurhassan Jamiri and Basir Kasaran, was on its way to attack sitios Burgos and Campo Dos, Barangay Colonia, when engaged in a gun battle by the troops. Palace not buying Misuari’s alibi MALACAÑANG is not readily buying Misuari’s claim that he had nothing to do with the fourday standoff between government forces and his followers who seized hostages in at least five barangays in Zamboanga City. Palace officials openly doubted Misuari’s claim, personally conveyed to Zamboanga City Mayor Isabel Climaco-Salazar, that he had nothing to do with the Monday morning siege by MNLF fighters loyal to him. Asked at a media briefing whether the Palace was lending credence to Misuari’s disclaimer, Press Secretary Ricky Carandang replied: “At this point, I am not in the position to say whether I believe that or not.”
“What we believe is that his [Misuari’s] faction, his group is behind it. So what he’s saying right now, if he’s really saying that, is not consistent with what we know happened,” Carandang added. He, however, dodged reporters’ queries seeking updates on the government’s efforts to end the standoff and free civilians being held hostage by Misuari loyalists in affected barangays. “Those are factors that I can’t talk about right now. But, remember, there are over a hundred people who are apparently being held against their will, who are in danger—physical danger— and there are people in those communities who remain in danger,” he said. Carandang affirmed that the safety of civilians and the community “is very important to us and we are going to be very careful about taking any action that might put them in danger.” Pressed about contingency measures taken by authorities to quickly resolve the standoff, he begged off anew, saying: “I cannot answer that question because even that is operational.” “We want to end this as soon as possible but we can’t discuss operational matters,” he said, adding, “we want to end the standoff peacefully and we are prepared to take necessary steps to end it soon.” At the same time, Palace Spokesman Edwin Lacierda issued a statement affirming the government’s resolve to settle the problem quickly with less bloodshed. Lacierda blamed the incident on “groups opposed to the peace process, or who want to impose a peace solely from their viewpoint and on their terms, [who] have sought to create disturbances. We have witnessed the bombing of Cagayan de Oro City and other similar events.” Detachment harassed SOMERA said that on Wednesday night, the Army detachment in Barangay Magcawa, TipoTipo, Basilan, was harassed by at least 50 Abu Sayyaf bandits and MNLF fighters, but the attackers were forced to withdraw after soldiers hit them with heavy firepower. Meanwhile, the Armed Forces spokesman, Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan, declined to confirm that the mosque in Barangay Santa Barbara in Zamboanga City has been cleared of rebels by the members of the Army’s Light Reaction Company. “The efforts have to be just generally described as a calibrated response because we don’t want also to publicize or translate into the open the efforts, the operational undertakings of the Armed Forces on the matter,” he said. Tutaan also confirmed that policemen stationed at Barangay Canelar, also in Zamboanga City, arrested an MNLF fighter.
On the other hand, Zagala, who is in Zamboanga City, said sporadic fire was heard at the barangays that MNLF fighters occupied on Thursday as the gunmen attempted to punch through the cordon that has been set out around them. He said Salazar, head of the Crisis Management Committee, has also talked to Misuari, who disowned ordering the attack on Zamboanga. Zagala said Misuari reportedly told that it was his deputy, Habier Malik, who ordered the attack and acted on his own. During the talks, Misuari reportedly made no demands. Zagala said the mayor has opened her line of communication to Misuari and even Malik. Zamboanga airport still closed THE Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) on Thursday said Zamboanga International Airport (ZIA) will remain indefinitely closed to all commercial carriers until further notice. The Caap made the announcement through a notice-to-airmen (Notam), saying that ZIA will remain closed and a no-fly zone has been imposed within a 25-nautical-mile radius from the airport. “In effect, ZIA is closed for all commercial aircraft. Only military and special government flights are allowed,” the Notam said. The Notam was approved by Caap Director General William K. Hotckiss III for safety and security reasons. The Caap said a regular bulletin would be issued to update airlines on regular basis. Passengers affected by flight cancellations should contact their respective carriers for the revised flight schedules, the Caap said. Cebu Pacific (CEB), meanwhile, said it is closely coordinating with the government for the reaccommodation of passengers affected by the Zamboanga International Airport closure. On Friday the Air Force will ferry affected CEB passengers from Zamboanga to Cebu. CEB has also arranged two special flights from Tawi-Tawi to Cebu, departing on Friday, to accommodate passengers who are traveling for the Hajj Pilgrimage. CEB’s daily flights between Zamboanga and Tawi-Tawi have been suspended since September 9. Upon arrival in Cebu, passengers will be re-accommodated on scheduled CEB flights from Cebu to Manila on the same day.
Cardinal Tagle: Pray ON the fourth day of Zamboanga City siege, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila, on Thursday said he is praying hard the standoff between security forces and Moro gunmen will finally be over. Tagle said he is asking God that love and compassion will prevail and that peace would be achieved the soonest possible time and protect the innocent. “Loving God, You made this world out of Your love and You made humans to look after what You have created in this world. Let Your will be done in Zamboanga. Let love and compassion flourish…and please avert more violence and let Your greatness prevail in every heart so that we may be able to achieve peace,” Tagle said in his prayer offered for the policemen, military personnel and MNLF gunmen. Meanwhile, Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad expressed worries on the possibility that the war in Zamboanga will spillover in the province. Jumoad said that around 9:20 a.m. on Thursday there was an exchange of gunfire between the soldiers and the MNLF gunmen in Colonia, Lamitan City. He revealed that his parish priest in Lamitan received information that the MNLF will attack Lamitan. He also confirmed that several MNLF gunmen arrived in Isabela City on Wednesday. Jumoad also appealed to Misuari to pull out his men in Zamboanga City and stop the plan to attack Basilan to spare the lives of the innocent people. To the rescue THE Philippine Red Cross (PRC), headed by Chairman Richard Gordon and Secretary-General Gwendolyn Pang, is making every effort to provide assistance to the affected residents of the current standoff in Zamboanga by sending food items that will be used to serve hot meals to at least 5,000 displaced persons for six days, along with medical and non-food items essential for nonstop operations. Roads in Barangays Talon-Talon, Santa Barbara and Rio Hondo remain inaccessible and classes in the city are still suspended. The number of evacuees have increased at an alarming rate over the night, initially estimated at 1,126 to 36,532 people since the current standoff between MNLF fighters and government troops was first monitored on September 9. On September 10 five hostages held by MNLF were released to the PRC and were transported to the Western Mindanao Command, and Camp Navarro General Hospital for briefing and medical attention.
Red Cross staff members and volunteers strive to continuously deliver services amid all the chaos caused by the exchange of gunfire. They have been able to set up a water bladder and tap stand at the Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex-Grandstand and tent for the distribution of water supply for the evacuees. Hot meals for the evacuees are already on the process to be provided. In addition, social services personnel from nine chapters are already on standby and have put up welfare desks. The Red Cross is also coordinating with entities that could provide food items, medicines and assorted goods related to the operation that will be sent to Zamboanga City. The International Committee of the Red Cross, also in close coordination with the PRC, provided kitchen utensils, tarpaulin for basic shelter, medical supplies and vital supplies of food, which is supplementary to continuous PRC shipments of human blood, food and non-food items. Moreover, staff members and volunteers from Zamboanga Sibugay also arrived at the local PRC to assist in the operation. (With Claudeth Mocon-Ciriaco) http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/nation/19320‐government‐mnlf‐fighting‐spreads‐to‐ basilan
Solons got 50% of ‘Pork’ Whistleblower Luy Declines To Name Senators, Congressmen Linked To PDAF Scam by Hannah Torregoza September 13, 2013 (updated)
‘WHISTLE-BAITING’— Senators attending yesterday’s Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the ‘pork barrel’ scam stay focused on the testimony of anomaly whistleblower Benhur Luy (left in inset at right), who appeared before them in a bullet-proof vest, with Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. (Tony Pionilla) Manila, Philippines — Senators and congressmen who transacted with businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the multi-billion pork barrel fund scam, enjoyed a 50-50 percent sharing on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the key witness in the multi-billion pork barrel fund scam yesterday said. Benhur Luy, the whistleblower in this case, bared this yesterday at the continuation of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s investigation into the pork barrel scam. He, however, declined to name the lawmakers, their staff, heads of implementing agencies, and other personalities supposed to be involved in the giving of pork barrel funds to fake non-government organizations (NGOs). Before presenting Luy, who was in bullet-proof vest and heavily guarded, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima requested the senators not to ask him names of the senators or congressmen who are implicated in the case since its probe is in aid of legislation. Luy, a second cousin of Napoles, also said he did not personally see Napoles give any money to senators or congressmen. He said it would be a senior staff from the lawmaker’s office that would pick up the money at Napoles’ office. In his testimony, Luy said Napoles would exchange phone calls with legislators to discuss the transfer of their PDAF.
“Ang sistema kasi ng office si Madam, nakikipag usap sa mga lawmakers, kung ano mapagkasunduan nila, let’s say 50 percent. Kami ngayon, magsa-submit na kami ng listing,” he said. Contacts At DBM According to Luy, they have contacts inside the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and other implementing agencies who they call whenever pork barrel funds are downloaded. He also identified the agencies as the National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC), the National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR), and the ZNAC Rubber Estate Corporation (ZREC). Even the chiefs of staff of lawmakers also get a share from the transactions but it is Napoles who decides how much they should receive. “May parte po ang mga chief of staff pero nasa discretion na po ni Madam yan. Minsan one percent; iba-iba po depende. Kasi sila po ang mga kausap namin sa mga tanggapan ng mga mambabatas,” Luy disclosed. Part of their regular transaction is to withdraw from different banks and bring the cash to their offices. P75-M Cold Cash “Umaabot ng P75-million ang pera sa opisina minsan. Galing sa iba’t ibang bangko. Kapag may natira sa disbursements inuuwi niya sa bahay,” said Luy. Sometimes, Napoles herself would pay lawmakers in advance even if the money has not yet been released as long as the documents have been secured. But Napoles is a shrewd businesswoman. “Nagpapaluwal siya kasi may mapagkukuhan siya ng pera. Pero sigurista si Madam, hindi siya magpapaluwal hanggang hindi siguradong ayos na ang mga dokumento para matiyak na makakakolekta siya,” he said. Solons Offer ‘Pork’ Sometimes, the lawmakers themselves would offer their pork barrel allocations to Napoles’ group for these to be utilized by their NGOs and foundations. “Nagpupunta po ang mga mambabatas sa upisina naming para i-alok ang kanilang priority development assistance funds (PDAF), inabutan ko na po ang sistemang ganito nung kunin niya ako sa pinagtatrabahuan kong ospital bilang medical techonlogist,” said Luy in response to a query of Senator Francis Escudero.
The money would be released to senators in cash, and at one time by manager’s check but it wasn’t named to a senator. On the other hand, lawmakers at the House of Representatives would get their share through fund transfers either through their personal accounts or their chiefs of staff. “Pag-nasa foundation na ang tseke ipapasok na ito sa bangko, Metrobank, Landbank. Karamihan ng account namin ay Metrobank, pag nag-good, iwi-withdraw na, minsan no cash out kasi same bank. Pag sa Landbank iwi-withdraw dadalhin sa upisina, iuuwi na sa bahay,” Luy said. His mother, Napoles’ aunt, is among those who received the money and would bring the cash stashed in bags inside her house. “Andun ang nanay ko na tita ni madam. Sila ang nagrerecieve ng pera, mula elevator hanggang masters bedroom sila magdadala,” he narrated. “Dahil di kasya sa vault, ipapatong bag na may pera sa bedroom o sa baththub at doon na rin kukunin ang mga ibabayad niya sa mga kausap niya. Doon din niya kukunin yung ipambibili niya ng mga properties,” Luy added. And contrary to Napoles’ assertion she had a coal business abroad, Luy said there was no truth to it. “Wala pong ganun. Wala po,” said Luy as he also bared that Napoles family was not rich before. “Mahirap lang sila dati. Taga Biñan, Laguna pa sila. Late 2002, nung tinawag niya ako, nagulat na lang ako na nasa Ayala-Alabang Village na siya,” he said. According to Luy, their family used to be close. He knew his cousins, Napoles’ children Jeane and Jo Christine, James Christopher, and Christian. “Naintihindian ko, naunawaan ko naman na parang contractor siya, nagta-transact sa gobyerno. So before that, wala ka alam kung tumama siya sa lotto or anything. Nagbebenta pa kami ng mga anak niya ng mga ballpen,” he said. He started to work with Napoles in 2002, when by chance he got reconnected with her family. Napoles, he said, invited him to work with her and promised to pay him much more than what he earns as a medical technologist at the Philippine Chinese General Hospital. “Tatapatan daw niya sweldo ko sa Chinese General, pero di naman nangyari. So, I stayed sa bahay niya pa rin because she is a family member,” Luy said. Lavish Gifts But while Napoles would splurge her contacts and lawmakers with lavish gifts, she would scrimp on her relatives and staff.
“Galante mag regalo… sa mga kausap niya. Pero sa aming mga empleyado, hindi. Siya mismo (bumibili) ng mga ire-regalo,” he said saying most of the recipients of Napoles’ gifts are congressmen, senators and , head of implementing agencies. Luy also admitted to Escudero that there were times he forged the signatures of some lawmakers in liquidation papers so that the next tranche of funds could be released immediately. “Minsan po nagpoforge ako ng pirma pero ginagawa ko lamang ito base sa utos ni Madam matapos na makausap niya ang taong dapat na pumirma sa mga papel na kailangang pirmahan. Ina-acknowledge din po (ng mga opisyal) nila ang pirma ko,” he said. http://www.mb.com.ph/solons‐got‐50‐of‐pork/
BIR reshuffles revenue district officers by Jun Ramirez September 13, 2013
Manila, Philippines – Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares reshuffled yesterday 142 key field officials, mostly revenue district officers (RDOs) in the forefront of raising P1.2 trillion this year. It is the biggest personnel movement conducted by Henares since she assumed the BIR post in 2010. Records showed the bureau raised P693.8 billion during the first seven months of the year which falls short of the P705.7-billion target. Revenue officials said the revamp was long overdue as almost all the RDOs and assistant RDOs affected in the reorganization have overstayed in their posts. The BIR has a total of 124 district and 19 regional offices throughout the country. The tax code limits the stay of field officials including examiners to only three years to minimize fraternization or being too friendly with taxpayers, the main source of corruption in the bureau. Among those who were given new assignments were RDOs Gerry Dumayas from East Makati to South Makati, Maridur Rosaerio from Taguig-Pateros to South Manila, Isabel Paulino from Mandaluyong to East Makati, Florante Aninag from East Pasig to South Quezon City, Edgar Tolentino from Cubao to North Quezon City, Josie Virtucio from South Manila to East Pasig, Corazon Montes from Pasay to Mandaluyong, Rose Ragasa from San Nicolos-Tondo to Cubao, Raul Recto from West Makati to North Makati. Armando Tria from Cainta-Taytay to Quiapo-Sampaloc, Petronilo Fernando from Paco-Sta. Ana to San Nicolas-Binondo, Maximo Cebrecus Jr. from North Quezon City Assistant RDO to RDO Sta. Cruz, Alfredo Santos from Olongapo City to Valenzuela, Virgilio Cembrano from Large Taxpayers (LT) collection service to RDO Binondo, Sol Adapon from Muntinglupa to Bulacan, Romeo Naranjo from Bohol to North Pampanga, Amador Ducut from South Pampanga to San Fernando, La Union. http://www.mb.com.ph/bir‐reshuffles‐revenue‐district‐officers/
Filipino migration on the rise–UN data Category: Economy Published on Thursday, 12 September 2013 20:16 Written by Cai U. Ordinario The number of Filipino migrants are on the rise again, according to data released by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (Undesa). UN data showed there are currently 213,150 Filipino migrants and this has increased from the 204,896 posted in 2010. Data showed that there was a 1.3-percent growth in the number of migrants between 2010 and 2013. In the 2000- to-2010 period, the growth rate in the number of Filipino migrants contracted by 4.5 percent while in the 1990-to-2000 period, the growth was at 7.1 percent. The Undesa also showed that the most number of migrants was recorded at 322,667 in 2000, while the least number of migrants in the past 20 years was in 1990 at 159,430 migrants. In 2010 and 2013 around 48.2 percent of the Filipino migrants are females. The highest share of female migrants to the total migrant stock of the Philippines is in 2000 at 49.1 percent and the least is in 1990 at 47.2 percent. The trend in the Philippines mirrors the one that was observed by the Undesa globally. The Undesa said in 2013, around 232 million people or 3.2 percent of the world’s population, were international migrants, compared with 175 million in 2000 and 154 million in 1990. The Undesa added that globally, women account for 48 percent of all international migrants. “Migration, when governed fairly, can make a very important contribution to social and economic development both in the countries of origin and in the countries of destination,” UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Wu Hongbo said. “Migration broadens the opportunities available to individuals and is a crucial means of broadening access to resources and reducing poverty.” In 2013 half of all international migrants lived in 10 countries, with the US hosting the largest number of migrants at 45.8 million. This was followed by the Russian Federation which is home to around 11 million migrants; Germany, 9.8 million; Saudi Arabia, 9.1 million; and United Arab Emirates, 7.8 million. Other major host countries for the world’s migrants are United Kingdom which hosts 7.8 million migrants; France, 7.4 million; Canada, 7.3 million; Australia, 6.5 million; and Spain, 6.5 million. “The US gained the largest absolute number of international migrants between 1990 and 2013— nearly 23 million, equal to 1 million additional migrants per year. The United Arab Emirates
recorded the second largest gain with 7 million, followed by Spain with 6 million,” the Undesa said. The data was released ahead of the upcoming High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, which will be held on October 3 and 4 at UN Headquarters in New York City. The High-level Dialogue aims to identify concrete measures to strengthen coherence and cooperation at all levels, with a view to enhancing the benefits of international migration for migrants and countries alike and its important links to development, while reducing its negative implications. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/economy/19322‐filipino‐migration‐on‐the‐rise‐un‐ data
MWSS rejects water rate hike By Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 13, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Average basic water rates will go down starting next month as the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Regulatory Office denied the petitions filed by Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc. to hike rates. In a press conference yesterday, MWSS acting chief regulator Emmanuel Caparas said the board has approved a 29.47 percent downward adjustment on Manila Water’s 2012 average basic water charge of P24.57 per cubic meter, which will be implemented in five equal tranches of -5.894 percent per charging year. This means that for residential customers with consumption of 10 cubic meters, the monthly water bill will be reduced to P123.04 by October from P134.77 previously. Those with consumption of 20 cubic meters will see a lower monthly bill of P271.13 from P297.12 and those who consume 30 cubic meters will pay a monthly water bill of P552.04 from the previous P605.10. Manila Water proposed a basic rate increase of P5.83 per cubic meter. Manila Water provides water and wastewater services for the East Zone of the metropolis, which covers Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig, Pateros, San Juan, Taguig, Marikina, and most parts of Manila and Quezon City, as well as Rizal. Caparas said the MWSS board has likewise approved a negative adjustment of 4.82 percent on Maynilad’s 2012 average basic water charge of P30.28 per cubic meter, which will be implemented in five equal tranches of -0.964 per charging year. For consumers with consumption of 10 cubic meters or less, the approved downward adjustment translates to a lower monthly water bill of P90.92 by October from P105.22. Meanwhile, for
consumers with consumption of 20 cubic meters, the monthly water bill will be reduced to P339.62 from P369.76 and those who consume 30 cubic meters will pay a decreased monthly bill of P692.76 from P739.79 previously. Maynilad requested for an P8.58 per cubic meter rate hike for 2013 to 2018. Maynilad serves the cities of Manila (all but portions of San Andres and Sta. Ana), Quezon City (west of San Juan River, West Avenue, EDSA, Congressional, Mindanao Avenue, the northern part starting from the districts of the Holy Spirit and Batasan Hills), Makati (west of South Super Highway), Caloocan, Pasay, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Valenzuela, Navotas and Malabon, all in Metro Manila; the cities of Cavite, Bacoor and Imus, and the towns of Kawit, Noveleta and Rosario, all in Cavite province. The two companies proposed to hike rates as part of their business and investment plans submitted to the MWSS earlier this year. Caparas said the MWSS decided to approve downward adjustment in water rates as the two firms were unable to justify the need for higher rates based on their business and investment plans. “Substantial disallowances were effected for unsubstantiated expenses, unliquidated cash advances, infrastructure projects, unjustified variation orders, capitalized interest, among others,” he said. “There was no pressure from any party with the approval of the rates,” he said. He added that the reductions are seen to be beneficial for the public. While the MWSS has approved downward adjustments, he said the water concessionaires can still file an appeal on the decision as the concession agreements allow for an arbitration process. “We are open to compromise but it has to be reasonably fair,” he said. He said that during the entire rebasing process, the MWSS Regulatory Office adhered to the Concession Agreement and followed the law. “We engaged the concessionaires in hundreds of hours of discussions and evaluation of their documents,” Caparas said, adding that they consulted the public as well as private sector groups. Manila Water said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange yesterday that it objects to the rate adjustments and that it intends to avail of the dispute resolution mechanism as provided in the concession agreement. Manila Water corporate communications head Jeric Sevilla told reporters the water firm will file the intent to proceed with arbitration in two weeks. – With Rhodina Villanueva http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/09/13/1204231/mwss‐rejects‐water‐rate‐hike
House: No more ‘pork’ abuse with realignment of funds By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 13, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Abuses in the use of congressional allocations may now be a thing of the past with the House of Representatives’ decision to distribute large sums of money originally intended as its members’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to various government agencies, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said yesterday. He admitted that with the move, it may now be harder for lawmakers to deliver certain basic services, particularly to those whose districts are in rural and depressed areas. “The House appropriations committee has come up with a formula that will banish the abuse, the abusive practices associated with it and at the same time – yes it is a more difficult way of doing it – but at the same time we are able to give social services to their constituents,” Belmonte said. “The most important is that we scrapped, we got rid of PDAF as a separate item in the budget. And this means to say that you lose discretion over the entire amount,” he said. He maintained there would be no more releases to non-government organizations, foundations and local government units and lawmakers as part of project implementation. But he stressed “certain basic services are absolutely essential as part of the services that a congressman must give to his constituents, particularly in rural areas.” He said these include scholarships, education, health care, emergencies and assistance in local infrastructure projects. He didn’t say how legislators intend to help finance these projects, considering recent developments. The appropriations panel, which is scrutinizing the proposed P2.268-trillion national budget for 2014, on Wednesday voted to divide the PDAF among the Departments of Public Works and Highways, Social Welfare and Development, Health, Labor and Employment, Education, and the Commission on Higher Education. The agencies are mainly the ones implementing PDAF-funded projects. The DPWH will get P8.8 billion or 35 percent of the allocation; DSWD, P5.1 billion (20 percent); DOH, DOLE, and DepEd P2.5 billion (10 percent); and CHED, P1.25 billion (five percent). Belmonte also said Congress has oversight powers to make sure the agencies are implementing projects for lawmakers’ constituents.
Moot The House decision also renders any Supreme Court (SC) ruling on questions regarding PDAF’s constitutionality useless, according to Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. Barzaga, chair of the games and amusement committee, said the SC temporary restraining order on the release of any amount from the PDAF “is unlimited as to its duration.” “There is a great possibility that no decision may be rendered by the SC on the merits of the case by the end of the year. If no final decision is made by Dec. 31, the issue on the remaining 2013 PDAF would be moot and academic,” he said. “We expect that in the 2014 budget, there will be no more PDAF, considering the public declarations by the President, the Senate and the House regarding its abolition. Consequently, the issue of mootness will apply in the case challenging the constitutionality of the PDAF,” he said. PDAF is the official name of the congressional pork barrel. It allocates P200 million a year for each senator and P70 million for each House member. The SC has scheduled the case for oral arguments early next month. Barzaga said even if the high tribunal rushes its decision on the PDAF issue and upholds its previous ruling that it is constitutional, there may be no more time for Malacañang to release the balance of the lawmakers’ funds. “If the SC finishes its hearings next month and comes out with its decision in November, and assuming that it sustains its previous ruling, there would only be a one-month window for the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to release the funds,” he said. According to the DBM website, as of Wednesday, the P24.790-billion 2013 PDAF had a balance of P13.2 billion. Even before the Supreme Court issued the TRO, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad had suspended any further releases upon orders of President Aquino. The President ordered the suspension shortly after the Commission on Audit (COA) came out with its report on its special scrutiny of pork barrel funds disbursed between 2007 and 2009. The COA reported that 12 senators and more than 180 House members gave a total of P6.2 billion to non-government organizations (NGOs), most of them bogus. Whistle-blowers claimed that a large part of the money received by NGOs went back to many lawmakers and their chiefs of staff in the form of kickbacks and commissions. Because of Aquino’s suspension order and the SC TRO, six new senators and 66 neophyte House members may not be able to taste congressional “pork.”
These lawmakers are entitled to a half-year allocation of P100 million for each senator and P35 million for each House member. So far, no PDAF money has been made available to them since their term of office started on June 30. The six new senators are Juan Edgardo Angara, JV Ejercito, Nancy Binay, Grace Poe, Cynthia Villar, and Bam Aquino. Angara’s father, former Sen. Edgardo Angara, and Ejercito’s brother, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, have used up their P100-million fund for January to June while Villar’s husband, former Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., has availed himself of P84.6 million. The 66 neophyte House members, in a manifesto, supported the decision of the chamber’s leadership to do away with the PDAF. “We are one with the Filipino people in expressing our outrage over the scandalous revelations in the Napoles investigation and the COA special audit. There can be no excuses for this kind of abuse, and the appropriate steps must be taken to make accountable those involved and to ensure that this travesty will not be repeated,” they said. Full compliance The DBM, for its part, said it would respect whatever decision the SC issues on PDAF and Malampaya funds. “We are prepared to fully comply with and support the TRO issued by the High Court on the remaining PDAF releases under the 2013 budget, especially as this agrees with the President’s instruction to suspend all releases from this fund while the current investigation on the Napoles controversy is still being conducted,” Abad said. “We will likewise comply with the Supreme Court’s order to hold off on all Malampaya Fund releases for non-energy related projects until the TRO has been effectively lifted,” he added. Abad pointed out that some P14.7 billion of the P24.7-billion PDAF for 2013 has not been released since President Aquino instructed the suspension of all PDAF releases after the discovery of the anomalous use of what is commonly known as pork barrel funds. “Under the Aquino administration, all Malampaya Fund releases were channeled to projects for energy resource development – including those that secure and protect our potential energy sources – exactly as the fund was designed for,” Abad said. Only P335.1 million has been released from the Malampaya Fund so far this year. The fund was released to the Department of National Defense (DND) to support the protection and security requirements of the Malampaya Gas-to-Power Project.
“As the inquiry on the PDAF scam continues, we welcome every course of action that will facilitate the progress of the investigation, so that those who are accountable for these fund irregularities will be prosecuted in due course,” Abad said. “At the same time, the DBM under the Aquino administration will continue its pursuit of greater transparency and accountability in the management of public funds, particularly those that have proven vulnerable to misuse and corruption,” he said. Child rights advocates, for their part, have joined calls for the abolition of PDAF and for its realignment to agencies delivering basic social services. Members of Save the Children described as “nothing short of scandalous” reports of “private persons and politicians living ostentatiously and getting wealthier through public funds.” They were referring to lawmakers who connived with Napoles in skimming billions of pesos from the PDAF. As a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of Child, the government has the obligation to use its resources to deliver basic services and uphold the rights of children especially those who are marginalized, said Save the Children country director Anna Lindenfors. The group noted the lack of transparency and accountability in public expenditure. – With Jess Diaz, Helen Flores, Zinnia de la Peña http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/09/13/1204311/house‐no‐more‐pork‐abuse‐realignment‐ funds
Noy signs law stabilizing prices of basic goods By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 13, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has signed Republic Act 10623, providing protection to consumers by stabilizing the prices of basic necessities and prescribing measures against undue price increase during emergencies and similar situations. RA 10623, which was enacted on Sept. 6, amended certain provisions of RA 7581, also known as the Price Act. The law provides for the creation of a price coordinating council to be composed of the secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry as chairman, and the secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Health, Environment and Natural Resources, the Interior and Local Government, Transportation and Communications, Justice, Energy and the National Economic and Development Authority as members. The council shall submit a report to the President and Congress the “status and progress of the programs, projects and measures undertaken by each implementing department, agency or office.” The report shall include goods that have been included or excluded from the list of basic necessities and prime commodities, according to the law. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/09/13/1204381/noy‐signs‐law‐stabilizing‐prices‐basic‐goods
LPA seen near Aurora, to bring rains in part of Luzon By Frances Mangosing INQUIRER.net 7:25 am | Friday, September 13th, 2013
MTSAT ENHANCED-IR Satellite Image 7 a.m., 13 September 2013 MANILA, Philippines – The low pressure area being monitored by the weather bureau was spotted near Aurora Friday morning and will bring rains in parts of Luzon. The LPA was last observed 270 kilometers east of Casiguran in Aurora embedded along the monsoon trough affecting Luzon, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said. “Cagayan Valley will experience cloudy skies with moderate to occasionally heavy rains and thunderstorms which may trigger flashfloods and landslides,” Pagasa said. Should it intensify into a tropical cyclone, it will be locally named “Odette.” Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon will have cloudy skies with light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms, while Visayas and Mindanao will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms. Light to moderate winds blowing from the west to southwest will prevail over Palawan, Visayas and Mindanao and coming from the northeast to northwest over the rest of Luzon, Pagasa said. The coastal waters throughout the archipelago will be slight to moderate, it added. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/486819/lpa-seen-near-aurora-to-bring-rains-in-part-ofluzon#ixzz2ejvS9hJZ
Farmers get free animals in NCotabato By John Unson (philstar.com) | Updated September 12, 2013 ‐ 11:02am
Residents of North Cotabato’s Midsayap town show the farm animals they received from the provincial government for free to help them recover from the devastation wrought by recent armed conflicts and floods that hit their villages. (JOHN UNSON)
NORTH COTABATO, Philippines --- Tomas, an Ilonggo farmer has always wanted one hybrid buck to breed with his herd of native goats. And then he got one for free from the local government. Neighbors, among them Julia and Serafin, said Tomas has been telling farmers to bring their does to his farm for free natural insemination by the stocky buck the North Cotabato provincial government gave him. Tomas was among dozens of farmers in Midsayap town who received 148 heads of goats dispersed early this week by the office of North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza. The animal dispersal activity, led by provincial veterinarian Rufino Suropia, was part of the government's program to help Midsayap’s farming communities to recover from the devastation wrought by recent armed conflicts and flashfloods that hit many low-lying areas in the province.
Mendoza’s office has been dispersing animals to farmers in the province since her first election to office in 2010, but expanded the project recently to help more farmers. Suropia said they have distributed 95 goats and five heads of hybrid pigs to residents of Barangay Poblacion II in Midsayap early this week. The activity, held at a government mini-gymnasium, was witnessed by incumbent provincial board member Loreto Cabaya, who hails from the neighboring Aleosan town. Cabaya said Mendoza’s animal dispersal program is open to farmers in all parts of the provinces, regardless whether they are Muslims, Christians, or members of the non-Muslim hinterland indigenous tribes. The provincial government requires all beneficiaries of the program to disperse to their neighbors the first offspring of the animals distributed to them for free. http://www.philstar.com/nation/2013/09/12/1201781/farmers‐get‐free‐animals‐ncotabato
Janet wrote Aquino for assistance By Joel E. Zurbano | Posted 9 hours ago | 2,107 views
Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the P10-billion pork barrel scam, had written President Benigno Aquino III to ask for the release of her brother Reynald who, she said, was arrested by NBI agents without a warrant in March. “On the night of March 22, 2013, NBI agents stormed Pacific Plaza Towers in Bonifacio Global City and arrested my brother Reynald Luy Lim,” Napoles says in her letter dated April 17, 2013. “According to the NBI, the warrant-less arrest was made pursuant to a complaint filed by the Luy family against my brother Reynald and myself for serious illegal detention.” The letter says Napoles asked the NBI agents to give them the opportunity to consult a lawyer with regard to the charges against them, but the arresting team refused and instead arrested Reynald who, she claimed, was ill at the time. “It was only due to his present physical condition and our strong demand to bring first my brother to the hospital that prevented him [from being] detained at NBI headquarters, but nevertheless he is now on hospital arrest [at the Saint Luke’s Medical Center] under the watchful eyes of at least five NBI agents round the clock every day,” the letter says. “As a result of that harassment, it has caused my brother to undergo another emergency Angioplasty operation procedure, this time far worse than he underwent last year.” The letter also says Levito Baligod, the counsel for the Luy Family, and one retired general named Rodolfo Diaz, had demanded P38 million from her family, through their lawyer Freddie Villamor, to drop their case against them and stop the bad publicity but they refused. On March 27, according to the letter, Napoles met Baligod who then demanded a higher amount— P250 million to P300 million—to drop the case against her brother.
The amount was apart from other demands, such as Canadian Visas for all the members of the Luy family including Baligod, $1.5 million in pocket money, and P30 million to open a pharmaceutical business for a younger female member of the family who will be left behind in the Philippines. “We are decent law abiding citizens all our lives, we are not kidnappers; we are not criminals,” the letter says. An NBI insider confirmed Napoles’ letter to Aquino but denied her accusations. “If there was an extortion they [the Napoleses] can ask the help of other enforcement agencies,’’ the source said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/09/13/janet‐wrote‐aquino‐for‐assistance/
Frank Chavez passes away By Rey E. Requejo | Posted 9 hours ago | 827 views
Frank Chavez, the tough-talking former Solicitor General who used his sharp tongue like a sword to cut down his opponents, died on Wednesday after four years of battle with cancer, members of the family said on Thursday. Chavez, 66, died from a stroke while confined at the Medical City Hospital in Pasig City, where he was undergoing treatment for lymphoma, a type of blood cancer in which white blood cells multiply faster than normal cells, his daughter, Ingrid, said. “In the course of his treatment, he developed complications and one of them was the stroke. This was the immediate cause of his death,” she said. Chavez was Solicitor General from 1987 to 1992 during the administration of former president Corazon Aquino. He pursued cases against former strongman Ferdinand Marcos, particularly human rights violations under the Martial Law regime. He was a candidate for the Ombudsman in 2011 and was nominated to a vacancy in the Supreme Court after the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona. Chavez handled celebrated cases, including the president’s sister, Kris Aquino, when she sought court protection from her ex-husband James Yap. Chavez died on September 11, which was Marcos’ birthday, and many of his friends and colleagues could not ignore the coincidence. “Frank Chavez died on Marcos’ birthday. I think Chavez would be chuckling at the irony,” Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te said in his Twitter account. Vice President Jejomar Binay, who was also a human rights lawyer like Chavez during the martial law years, said: “I will always remember Frank Chavez as a nationalist lawyer who fought side by side with us against dictatorial rule.” “His unyielding passion for defending human rights and battling corruption and vested interests earned him not a few enemies, but it endeared him to those who believe in the rule of law and human dignity,” Binay said. Chavez was a tough-talking lawyer, who loved to brawl and use his fist when he was a young man growing up in tough neighborhood in Bacolod City. He was a feared amateur boxer.
Chavez was cremated on the same day he died and his remains were brought to the Santuario de San Antonio Parish in Forbes Park in Makati City. He will be buried at the Heritage Park in Taguig on Sunday. Chavez was born on February 6, 1947 in Sagay, Negros Occidental. He is married to Ma. Juanita Rivera. He finished his law degree from the University of the Philippines in 1971. He was founding partner of the Chavez Laureta & Associates Law Office.
Medical group backs tax collection drive By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Posted 9 hours ago | 118 views
The Philippine Medical Association said a software system will be used to monitor the taxable income of members to support the Bureau of International Reveneu’s collection drive. Dr. Oscar Tinio, PMA chairman for BIR affairs, said the system, subject to the agency’s approval, will enable doctors to file their income tax return online (electronic filing) using laptops, desktops, iPhones and available gadgets. etc. He said the system is user friendly and will guarantee doctors will 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,” Tinio said. The revenue office said it was issuing an order for professionals to post their service rates in a prominent place at their place of business. The directive aims to promote transparency and discouragE tax evasion among selfemployed professionals. Speaking before the PMA Kapihan sa Manila Hotel media forum, Tinio said that to require doctors and medical practitioners to post a tariff of their services would be in violation of the PMA code of ethics which uphold the practice as a vocation and not to be simply regarded as commodity. “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,” he said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/09/13/medical‐group‐backs‐tax‐collection‐drive/
Stick to plan, food officials warned amid rice crisis By Maricel Cruz | Posted 9 hours ago | 117 views An opposition lawmaker on Thursday demanded that officials of the Department of Agriculture and the National Food Authority to abide by the strategies and programs enumerated in the 2011-2016 Food Staples Sufficiency Program to ensure that government can ensure the populace of affordable rice supply. “The DA and NFA worked together on a very good, very sound plan to ensure rice selfsufficiency by 2016, which is why we do not understand why DA and NFA officials just don’t stick with the plan they themselves put together,” said Rep. Jonathan Dela Cruz, member of the independent bloc in the House of Representatives. Dela Cruz, at the same time, reminded DA and NFA officials that the FSSP recommends that the NFA minimize its role in rice importation and instead focus on buffer stocking, intensifying palay procurement, and strengthen price support. “If they adopt the recommendations of the FSSP, we could probably earn 10 billion pesos annually, while keeping pace with our food security program,” Dela Cruz said, adding that “if the agenda is rice self-sufficiency, then all the DA and NFA have to do is stick to the plan.” Dela Cruz made the call following his earlier disclosure of the alleged P442 million “kickback” pocketed by officials of the National Food Authority (NFA) from overpriced importation of rice from Vietnam. NFA officials admitted on Thursday that the country needed to import additional stocks of rice. At the inquiry held by the House Committee on Agriculture, NFA leadership said an additional 500,000 metric tons needed to be imported. Dela Cruz said that
the DA and the NFA
“contradict the recommendations of the FSSP.” “For example, rather than involve the private sector in the importation of rice, the NFA has monopolized it. Rather than earn from fees it charges rice importers, the NFA is instead bearing the tax costs of importing rice. And now rather than us being rice self-sufficient, we now learn that we have to import an additional half million metric tons of rice,” he said.
Impeach-PNoy bid ‘baseless’ By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted 9 hours ago | 710 views
Malacañang has downplayed the statement of a militant party-list group that it would consider filing an impeachment complaint against President Benigno Aquino III, saying the Palace has the numbers in Congress to prevent any ouster efforts from prospering. “There is absolutely no legal or moral basis to impeach the President and I don’t think anybody would agree that there is basis,” Presidential Communications Development Secretary Ramon Carandang said. Asked if they still have the numbers in Congress despite the abolition of the pork barrel, Carandang said: “I believe we do.” “I think common sense would show you that would not prosper,” the Palace official added. Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio said the buck stops with Aquino when it comes to disbursements of the pork barrel. “The President has ultimate authority over any release of PDAF,” Tinio said “We must exact accountability not just from legislators but also the President,” the lawmaker added. Carandang did not address Tinio’s accusations, but maintained that Aquino himself has never been accused of misusing public money. “The President does not have a PDAF per se, the way that Congress has a PDAF, and so that’s not an issue,” he said. Carandang said impeachment calls at this time are just meant to divert the public’s attention from the issue of PDAF misuses. “I think there are certain parties who are trying to misdirect it, for one reason or another, towards the President,” he said.
Earlier, the President said he is open to itemizing his P5.2 billion PSF, but said he found calls for its abolition illogical. “Did you notice that no one is saying that the PSF has been abused? But they want it abolished. I could not understand the logic of such calls for abolition,” Aquino said. An off-budget trust fund, the PSF is handled by the Presidential Management Staff. “I will authorize the PMS to release to public where we have spent the PSF over the three years that I have served as President and how the PSF has increased during our term because of our careful use of it,” he added. Aside from the PSF, Malacañang will also not let go of the lump sum SPF which amounts to P957 billion this year. “The Special Purpose Fund, by its very name is self-explanatory. These are funds really, by their nature, could not be itemized. If we itemize these, and then there is an unforeseen event, expenses cannot be programmed under the SPF and we can actually be liable for malversation if we do it that way,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an earlier interview. She cited the P7.5 billion calamity fund as example, where if the government would itemize it for 20 typhoons annually, it can no longer be used for the 21st typhoon to hit the country. But Social Watch Philippines lead convenor and former National Treasurer Leonor Briones said the government must also abolish the SPF. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/09/13/impeach‐pnoy‐bid‐baseless/
Palace bares more photos of PNoy with Napoleses By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted 9 hours ago | 1,374 views Malacanang on Thursday released 24 photos of President Benigno Aquino III during a dinner in Cebu City on Nov. 30 last year, and of which at least eight were with alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles, her husband Jimmy and daughter Jeane. Presidential Communications Development Secretary Ramon Carandang said the decision to release the photos was to preempt other groups who might put a spin to the pictures, which were taken after the National Thanksgiving Mass for the canonization of Pedro Calungsod.
Malacanang on Thursday released 24 photos of President Benigno Aquino III during a dinner in Cebu City on Nov. 30 last year, and of which at least eight were with alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles, her husband Jimmy and daughter Jeane. “We are not hiding anything and I think if something comes out like that, the best way to address it is to tell the truth, and that’s exactly what we’re doing here. We have nothing to hide here,” Carandang said. He said the Palace would rather be the one to release the photos than allow speculations to run wild on Aquino’s relationship with the Napoleses. On Wednesday, a photo of Aquino with Jeane Napoles was released in a television program and the Palace immediately confirmed its authenticity. But it said it was “a normal thing to happen” since a lot of people wanted to have their pictures taken with the President. Carandang made his statement even as a staunch Aquino critic dared the President to break his silence and disclose to his “bosses” [the public] the other instances when he had interactions
with the Napoleses. Kabataan Party-list Rep. Terry Ridon made the statement after Aquino’s picture with Jeane came out in the papers on Thursday. “Malacañang should come clean whether this is the only instance that he had an interaction with the scammers,” Ridon told the Manila Standard. Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said “the smile-filled photos truly speak barrels of porky words.” “The problem with Malacañang and President Aquino is that they are not transparent and keep on hiding the closeness of Janet Lim-Napoles and family to the President,” Zarate said. But opposition Rep. Rodolfo Albano III said Aquino’s photo with Jeane “has no value.” House Deputy Majority Leader Sherwin Tugna appealed to Aquino’s critics not to give any meaning to the picture but to acknowledge that “the picture shows the President is a magnet for ladies.” Carandang said that after Aquino’s photo with Jeane came out, the Palace asked its close-in photographers to dig up their archives and search for the other photos taken during the dinner in Cebu City. “I know this from experience that people get mad if they are not allowed to have their pictures taken with the President. I think it’s the right of our people if they want to get pictures taken, and I think the public understands that,” Carandang said. “The public understands that a picture with someone does not mean that they are guilty. Now, if there are funds that were allegedly misspent, that is a different issue.” The President was asked on Tuesday if he knew Janet Napoles personally, and he said he could not remember having seen her in any event when he was a lawmaker. “When I saw her when she came to the Palace, I was trying to look at her and I don’t remember her,” Aquino said. “I am normally very good with faces, [but] maybe sometimes I’m poor with names. She doesn’t look familiar whatsoever. “In fact, I’ll be very honest with you: compared to the pictures in newspapers, I even had to ask myself if she was really the one we were looking for. “Now, did I ever meet her? Even at the level of just shaking hands with her or just say hi to her, I can’t even say I ever said hi to her.” With Maricel V. Cruz
Anti-pork rally today at Luneta By Fred Villareal | Posted 9 hours ago | 665 views 8
The largest association of Catholic institutions in the country, which include the major colleges and universities, called on its members on Thursday to take to the streets to back a public clamor for the abolition of the government’s pork barrel funds. Fr. Gregorio Banaga of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) called on its members to join the march to Luneta today to protest against continued use of pork barrel funds by the administration of President Aquino and members of Congress. “Let the truth out. We demand the abolition of the pork barrel system,” Banaga said. The protest dubbed “Forward March to #abolishpork” was part of a series of rallies against pork barrel organized by Catholic institutions in the country. Last Wednesday protesters held a prayer vigil at the EDSA Shrine in Quezon City. Fr. Joe Dizon, one of the convenors, said the activity was “meant to sustain the people’s outrage against the corrupt pork barrel system and pursue its total abolition, including President Aquino’s own pork.” The CEAP has 1,252 Catholic schools as members. It was founded in 1941. Banaga, in his memorandum to CEAP member schools, said the protest will be a “multisectoral initiative, which will begin with an inter-faith service, and will feature a cultural presentation that will discuss the issues of corruption in the pork barrel system.” “It will be an educational venue as the organizers expect the majority of the participants to come from the younger generation,” Banaga said. He said Catholic organizations, including the Association of Major Religious Superiors and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, and Protestant groups were expected to join the rally. Organizers of the #abolishpork Movement said the rally will be an expression of their demand for the abolition of the pork barrel system and the direct allocation of taxpayers money instead to hospitals, schools, public housing and other social services.
Discretionary powers of politicians and government officials in spending public funds should be removed and there should be greater transparency and accountability in the disbursement of these funds, the organizers said. “Despite the widespread public outcry for the abolition of all forms of pork barrel funds, President Aquino continues to disregard his bosses,” the organizers said. “President Aquino persists in retaining the system of discretionary, lump sum appropriations for individual members of Congress and the Chief Executive in the national budget, although with new mechanism for its release,” they said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/09/13/anti‐pork‐rally‐today‐at‐luneta/
MB keeps key rates unchanged By Jennifer Ambanta | Posted 9 hours ago | 123 views The Monetary Board, the policy-making body of the Bangko Sentral, on Thursday kept the key policy interest rates steady as the inflation outlook remains benign. Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said in a news briefing the bank held the interest rates steady at 3.5 percent for overnight borrowing and 5.5 percent for overnight lending. “The interest rates on special deposit accounts and the reserve requirement ratios were maintained as well,” Tetangco said, adding the action was based on assessment the inflation environment continued to be benign. Bangko Sentral Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said the bank kept the rates unchanged because of the expected tapering by the US Federal Reserves and the tension in Syria. “Keeping policy steady, we believe, is the prudent approach,” he said. The bank, however, cut its full-year inflation forecasts for 2013 and 2014. Guinigundo said the inflation forecast for 2013 was adjusted downward from the previous 3.3 percent to 3 percent. Guinigundo said the revision of inflation targets was due to a lot of delay in price hike in utilities. “Delayed implementation on Metro Rail Transit, jeepney fares, power and water rates will also help bring down our forecast for next three years,” he said. Guinigundo said the wage adjustments also played a significant role in inflation projections. “If we look at actual wage adjustment in the National Capital Region, it’s about P10 per day. Our assumption is a little higher than the forecast,” he said. “Wage order is for October implementation, delayed implementation in wage adjustment will also help bring down forecast for the next three years,” he added. The inflation forecast in 2014 was also revised from 4 percent to 3.9 percent, while the forecast for 2015 was kept at 3.5 percent. Guinigundo said the economy had a “greater absorptive capacity” for additional money supply as a result of the expected outflow of funds from the special deposit account facility due to the record-low interest rate of 2 percent and the earlier restriction imposed by the central bank on access to the facility.
Photo… oops! By Boy P. | Posted 9 hours ago | 177 views
A picture is worth a thousand words—or as S.O.C.O. (Scene of the Crime Operatives) host Gus Abelgas’ famous line goes, “Hindi nagsisinungaling ang ebidensiya” (evidence doesn’t lie). First it was Senator Bong Revilla and wife Lani, and Senator Jinggoy Estrada. Then came Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Gregory Ong, Congressman Roman Romulo and Shalani Soledad during their wedding, a female Agrarian Reform official dancing the boogie-woogie at “baby gurl” Jeane Napoles’ lavish party at Beverly Hills, and early this week, Senate President Frank Drilon and wife beaming their Closeup smiles with alleged pork scam queen Janet Napoles. And now, no less than President Noynoy Aquino himself is shown in a “Kodak moment” being dwarfed by Jeane Napoles. True, ordinary people want to have their photos taken with famous celebrities and powerful people, and as the Malacañang mouthpieces said, it’s can be no big deal. The only problem, however, is that the tiny seed of doubt is growing into a humongous perception and credibility problem, with people having difficulty believing the “I-don’t-really-know-her” and “I-can’t-exactly-remember” denials and excuses as these politicians scramble to dissociate themselves from the stigma attached to being friends or even acquaintances with Janet/Jenny Napoles. And remember, the Revillas’ showbiz manager and self-confessed Napoles friend Lolit Solis is adamant in saying that the alleged pork scam queen contribute to the campaign kitty of President Noy in 2010. If anything, these photos only confirm the whistleblowers’ revelations that Ma’am Jenny indeed moved among the rich, the influential and the powerful—something that Jeane swanked about in an interview saying it’s not their family’s fault that they are rich, and that her mommy knows a lot of influential people including the president.
Going by these photos (and we won’t be surprised if more will surface later), it’s getting more clear that the Napoleses, indeed, have access to the powers that be. Unfortunately for these politicians and government officials, the photo ops are now turning into photo-oops! AUB gives P1.5 million reasons to Smile about The ongoing controversy about pork barrel funds being wasted on fly-by-night NGOs, bogus organizations and fake foundations that are supposed to help uplift the lives of Filipinos is enough to make people frown and become suspicious. Fortunately, there are genuine and trustworthy groups who are passionate about their advocacy to help others. For instance, Operation Smile Philippines, or OSP, a medical charity organization that facilitates surgery for indigent kids and young people with craniofacial disorders like cleft palates, cleft lips and other facial deformities. Just recently, Operation Smile received a generous donation of P1.5 million from Asia United Bank, which means that around 100 children with craniofacial disorders and other facial deformities will soon have the opportunity to get lifechanging reconstructive surgery and related medical care for free. The surgeries sponsored by AUB, the country’s newest publicly-listed universal bank, will be performed in OSP’s mission site in Angeles City in Pampanga in November, coinciding with the bank’s celebration of its 16th anniversary. This is not the first time for the bank and its personnel to participate in OSP’s medical missions, since it already donated P1 million last year which covered the cost of surgery for 67 children in Cavite and Cagayan de Oro during the medical charity’s “Journey Home” medical mission to commemorate its global 30th anniversary. Not many are aware that oral cleft is among the top 12 congenital defects in the Philippines, with one in every 500 Filipinos born with a cleft lip, cleft palate or both according to studies. Worse, the condition mostly afflicts children from poor families, with one in every 10 children born with the condition dying before they turn one. More than 12 percent under the age of five also die. Additionally, kids who fail to receive reconstructive surgery by age 10 will suffer from lifelong speech issues—making it difficult for them to get a formal education and find employment eventually.
Buddies who want to help put a smile on a child’s face may email to firstname.lastname@example.org. or call (632) 811-9737 for details. Fearless Frank, 66 Happy Hour extends its condolences to the family of feisty former Solicitor General, Atty. Francisco “Frank” Chavez, who passed away last Wednesday at the age of 66. Fearlessly frank and frankly fearless, Atty. Chavez was a hardhitting, relentless legal warrior who must have made his adversaries quake in fear every time he trained his sight on them. This man with the witty, colorful and fiery legal salvos will be missed by many. Fare thee well, Atty. Frank! ### For comments, reactions, photos, stories and related concerns, readers may email to email@example.com. You may also visit and like our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/happyhourmanilastandard. We’d be very happy to hear from you. Cheers! http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/09/13/photo‐oops/
PIAP marks 50th year, holds expo By MST Business | Posted 9 hours ago | 102 views
The Printing Industries Association of the Philippines marks its 50th anniversary through a series of activities, with the theme Solid & Trailblazing@ 50, at the World Trade Center in Pasay City on Sept. 18 to 21. PIAP will hold Print Philippines 2013 Exhibition, the biggest printing show in the country, featuring the latest in equipment and supplies in the business. Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma will be the guest of honor during the opening and ribbon cutting for the exhibits on Sept. 18 at 9 a.m. For more learning, enjoyment and more benefits for members, the organizers timed with the Print Philippines 2013 roadshow the holding of the 16th National Printers Convention on Sept. 20 to 21 at the newly installed first-class function rooms of the World Trade Center. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/09/13/piap‐marks‐50th‐year‐holds‐expo/
Real estate to keep country ‘afloat’ without the 60-40 rule September 13, 2013 9:38 am One of the main issues that businesses face in the country nowadays is the 60-40 ownership rule, which, according to Century Properties Chairman and Chief Executive Jose EB Antonio, can help the country “afloat” particularly in the real estate sector. “In real estate, I [think we should] open up. Because even if we do, they [foreign investors] cannot take away the real estate [establishments] in the country. And that made Singapore, London, Paris, Hong Kong and New York as premier cities…They have been kept afloat not by local investors but by foreign investors,” Antonio said. During the CEO Business Leadership Series held at the University of Santo Tomas Graduate School, Antonio said that the government should consider revisiting the constitution and let foreign investors own more than 40 percent of businesses and even lands in the country than what is indicated in the 60-40 ownership rule. “[Foreigners are] so persistent in buying [lands and investing in the country] that the only way they go about it if they are marrying a Filipina, or putting up corporations and companies in the country,” Antonio said. In the 1987 Constitution, the 60-40 rule limits foreign ownership by only 40 percent and requires the other 60 percent of the corporation, business or establishment to be owned by a Filipino. Since the country has been growing fast with demands rising and multiple credit ratings, the 60-40 rule has become a debate and hurdle for the local business landscape. “We have to revisit our constitution because it was made number of years ago. In real estate, I would definitely open it up [in contrast to the 60-40], but except for certain areas like agriculture because we must protect our farmers. What I encourage for them is corporate farming because it leads to efficiency, ability to secure raw materials for great bigger scale farming,” he added. As a real estate developer, Antonio said that there is a great demand in terms of homes and luxury units because of the growing middle class population in the country. “This has propelled a lot of purchase of homes in the country. Demand comes from first own buyers—people who owns houses, and they demand about 350,000 units per year. The supply of all of us developers put together are only 250,000 a year. We have a shortage of 100,000; we are only catching up,” Antonio stated. In the CEO Series facilitated by UST Graduate Professor Thomas Tiu, Antonio explained that a lot of people now in the country can afford a monthly amortization of P7,000 to P10,000, which drives them to develop more luxury units and homes.
The Century Properties chairman also said that from having a lot of poor people, the middle class is increasing because of the rise of “business processing management and other industries that came along with it” as well as the dollar remittances that our overseas Filipino workers bring in, both of which account to about 40 percent of the country’s economy. He said that the BPM industry grants about P25,000 for the industry’s minimum wage, “which is double the minimum wage in the country so the graduates now are given a good chance of earning well.” He also cited that there is an increase in the middle class because of remittances accounting to $20,000, which is about 20 percent of the economy. Antonio emphasized that the administration should push for housing programs for the middle class market. “Government should be aware that there are growing middle class in the country. They must create an affordable housing program that is worth half a million pesos. With these homes, amortization is P2,000 a month and a lot of people can afford it. They will just o overtime and they can afford it,” he said. “But who will produce 500k units? Very few [developers] would like to go [invest] there because it is unprofitable. You have the volume, but you don’t have the margin, and as a developer, you wouldn’t want to waste your time there. The government should be the one spearheading the plan,” Century Properties has been tapping and partnering with worldwide-known brands like the Trump brand, Versache, and architecture expert Philippe Starck among others. KRISTYN NIKA M. LAZO http://www.manilatimes.net/real‐estate‐to‐keep‐country‐afloat‐without‐the‐60‐40‐ rule/39374/
Lawmakers got 50% pork kickback – Luy September 12, 2013 10:41 pm by JEFF ANTIPORDA REPORTER
Wearing a bullet-proof vest, Benhur Luy testifies Thursday at the Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing on the pork barrel scam. Photo By Edwin Muli Benhur Luy, who revealed highly questionable pork barrel releases arranged by Janet Lim-Napoles, said on Thursday legislators got as much as 50 percent in kickbacks from his former boss. Luy, a former trusted employee of Napoles who is now providing testimony against her, told the Senate Blue Ribbon committee that Napoles sometimes haggled with a lawmaker on the lawmaker’s cut for releasing part of his Priority Assistance Development Fund (PDAF) to a non-government organization set up or controlled by Napoles. “The lawmaker will ask for 50 percent, and Napoles would say 45 percent because she has taxes to pay,” Luy, who wore a bulletproof vest, said. He also told the committee headed by Sen. Teofisto Guingona III there were times when a lawmaker’s chief of staff would get a balato, or smaller cut, from the deal. So did the officials of the government agency that released the funding for project Napoles’ NGO was supposed to undertake, Luy said. Napoles is the key figure in the multibillion pork barrel scandal that has outraged the nation. She has been detained on charges of illegal detention filed by Luy. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who sat beside Luy during the Blue Ribbon hearing, was allowed by the committee to guide the witness along in revealing what he knew about Napoles’ operation. Luy made it clear that Napoles ran the operation and there were no other individuals above her.
The committee did not press Luy into naming the legislators involved in the scam ahead of the filing of charges against them next week. Luy said there were times when lawmakers visited their office at Discovery Suites to ask Napoles about projects they could channel their PDAF into. During such visits, the lawmakers also discussed the kickback they would be getting. There were also times when a lawmaker would call Napoles to tell her of prospective PDAF projects he has listed. Luy also told the panel that his ex-boss had contacts in government agencies which she used to implement PDAF projects. Napoles also had insiders at the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), he said. Among the agencies Luy mentioned were National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC), the National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor), and the Zamboanga Rubber Estate Corporation (ZREC). These were the same implementing agencies named by the Commission on Audit (COA) in its special audit reports last month. Luy said that after initial talks with lawmaker, the identification of the implementing agency that will carry out the project, Napoles would prepare the endorsement letter, memorandum of agreement and other documents that will be signed by the lawmaker or his authorized representative, usually his chief of staff. The legislator will then write the Department of Budget and Management, through the chairmen of Senate finance committee or the appropriations committee in the House, to formalize the release of the PDAF. Luy said Napoles was very strict in releasing a lawmaker’s cuts. She did it in tranches, the first after a lawmaker issued the listing of the project and the second after DBM issued the special allotment release order (SARO). The final instalment was delivered after a lawmaker provides Napoles a copy of the SARO either through email or fax as proof that the budget for the project has been approved. Napoles would then follow up the transaction with the designated implementing agency. Once the agency got the SARO it will issue a check to Napoles for the supposed project. The check will be deposited in Napoles’ account and she would withdraw the amount after three days, when the check is cleared. Aside from the lawmaker’s 50 percent, the implementing agency received 10 percent of the project cost aside from the official 3 percent. The remaining 40 percent went to Napoles. Luy said sometimes Napoles herself brought bags of cash to the senators, while in some instances the money is picked up by a senator’s chief of staff at the JLN office.
The share of a member of the House was either deposited in his bank account, or he got it through fund transfer or manager’s checks. Sometimes, the congressman’s staffers would accompany him to the bank to withdraw his share, Luy said. Asked by De Lima for evidence to back his claims, Luy said he had the bank account numbers of all legislators and their staff. He also had the drafts of memorandums of agreement (MOAs), endorsement letters and other documents Napoles used in her transactions. http://www.manilatimes.net/lawmakers‐got‐50‐pork‐kickback‐luy/39321/
Former Enrile chief of staff has flown away September 12, 2013 10:40 pm by JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA AND ROBERTSON RAMIREZ
Members of the Kilusang Mayo Uno wear masks depicting President Benigno Aquino 3rd, Local Government Sec. Mar Roxas, lawyer Lorna Kapunan, and (on wheelchair) suspected pork barrel queen Janet Lim-Napoles during a rally in front of the Mendiola Peace Arch in Manila on Thursday. The rallyists called for an end to the supposed preferential treatment being accorded Napoles. Photo By Alexis Corpuz
Bureau of Immigration (BI) officer-in-charge Siegfred Mison confirmed on Thursday that Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, the former chief of staff of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, has left the country amid the pork barrel scam. Mison said Reyes was allowed to leave on August 31 because she was not considered a “person of interest,” and the bureau has no legitimate reason to stop her. The office of Enrile said they do not know where Reyes was. Staff members of lawmakers linked to the controversy are reportedly among the people who will be charged. Some of them have already gone on leave. Patrick Paroan, from Sen. Bong Revilla’s legislative staff, has been on leave for several months, while Pauline Labayen, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada’s deputy chief of staff, has not been reporting for work lately and has yet to explain her absence. It was learned that Reyes left the country a few days after reports quoted a witness claiming to have personally delivered pork barrel funds to Reyes. On Thursday, whistleblower of the pork barrel scam, Benhur Luy told the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing that the “chiefs of staff” of senators and congressmen also got a kickback from Napoles. Enrile’s deputy chief of staff Jose Antonio Evangelista, who is also expected to be included in a separate case that will be filed in connection with the scam, still reports regularly for work but refuses to be interviewed by the media.
Lanuza one signature away from freedom September 12, 2013 10:33 pm by RITCHIE A. HORARIO OVERSEAS Filipino worker (OFW) Rodelio “Dondon” Lanuza, who was earlier sentenced to death by a Saudi Arabia court, is just one signature away from finally heading home, Vice President Jejomar Binay said on Thursday. The vice president said he was informed by Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ezzedin Tago that all is needed for Dondon to leave Saudi Arabia is for the Emir to sign his deportation order. Binay explained that the Emir had already previously issued an order for Lanuza’s release. But the Jawasat (Saudi Passport Office) informed jail authorities that the order from the Emir should specifically state that Lanuza be deported to the Philippines before his exit visa could be processed. “Upon signing by the Emir, an advance copy will be sent to the Dammam Reformatory Jail. The Jawasat will then issue Dondon’s exit visa,” said Binay, presidential adviser on OFW concerns. He added that Lanuza’s employer had already issued a No Objection Letter, or mukalasa, on September 3 needed for the OFW’s repatriation. Lanuza has also already undergone fingerprinting, another requirement for deportation. Citing information from Tago, Binay said the order issued by the Emir was for “‘Mr. Lanuza’s release’ only.” As such, he said the Jawasat has instructed the Dammam Reformatory Jail to request for a deportation. “Ambassador Tago said the Jawasat instructed the Dammam Reformatory Jail to request for a deportation since order the order issued by the Emir was for ‘Mr. Lanuza’s release’ only,” Binay said.He added a draft of the revised order was sent to the Emir for his signature last week. Once the order is signed, an advance copy will be sent to the Dammam Reformatory Jail, after which the Jawasat will issue Lanuza’s exit visa, he said. He said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had already bought a ticket for Lanuza’s trip home, although his flight schedule remains uncertain until his exit visa is issued. Lanuza has been in jail since 2000 after he was sentenced to death for killing an Arab national. Saudi Arabia’s highest court affirmed Lanuza’s death penalty in 2001, but he was pardoned after the victim’s family received SAR3 million in blood money. Of the amount, the Philippine government paid SAR700,000 while Saudi King Abdullah paid the remaining SAR2.3 million.
1/3 of world’s food ends up as trash – UN report September 12, 2013 7:11 pm by NEIL A. ALCOBER AT least 1.3 billion tons of food produced globally is being wasted every year, which resulted to around $750 billion of the world’s economic loss and a significant damage to the environment, a United Nations (UN) food agency reported on Wednesday. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in its report entitled Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources, said that one-third of the food waste goes in the garbage each year. The FAO reported that food that is produced but not eaten each year guzzles up a volume of water equivalent to the annual flow of Russia’s Volga River and is responsible for adding 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases to the planet’s atmosphere. Similarly, 1.4 billion hectares of land—28 percent of the world’s agricultural area—is used annually to produce food that is lost or wasted, it added. Beyond the environmental impacts, food wastage costs some $750 billion annually to food producers, the report also noted. “All of us—farmers and fishers; food processors and supermarkets; local and national governments; individual consumers—must make changes at every link of the human food chain to prevent food wastage from happening in the first place, and reuse or recycle it when we can’t,” José Graziano da Silva, FAO director general, said. “We simply cannot allow one-third of all the food we produce to go to waste or be lost because of inappropriate practices, when 870 million people go hungry every day,” da Silva added. http://www.manilatimes.net/13‐of‐worlds‐food‐ends‐up‐as‐trash‐un‐report/39243/
Carlos Garcia opts to stay behind bars September 12, 2013 7:11 pm by JOHN CONSTANTINE G. CORDON FORMER military comptroller Carlos Garcia will spend an indefinite time inside prison despite his pending release from the National Bilibid Prison on Sunday. The Sandiganbayan Second Division issued a commitment order against Garcia after the Bureau of Corrections reminded the anti-graft court that Garcia’s term behind bars will end on September 15. On August 22, director Franklin Bucayu of the Bureau of Corrections informed Associate Justice Teresita Diaz-Baldos, chairman of the Second Division, that Garcia’s sentence for violation of Articles 96 and 97 of the Articles of War will expire on Sunday. “The court resolves to issue a commitment order for the continued detention of accused Carlos Garcia . . . at the National Bilibid Prison until further orders,” the one-page minute of proceedings read. According to lawyer Jaime Cabrera, clerk of court of Second Division, the Sheriff Division has already served the commitment order to the Bilibid. The Sandiganbayan downgraded Garcia’s plunder charge to direct bribery and facilitating money laundering. It also upheld the plea bargaining agreement between the Office of the Ombudsman and Garcia in return of Garcia’s P135.43-million assets and allowed him to post bail. However, the Armed Forces convicted him of violating Articles of War 96 and 97 related to his alleged untruthful declarations in his 2002 and 2003 statements of assets, liabilities and net worth. The Philippine National Police arrested Garcia in September 2011 and has since remained behind bars. Recently, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order stopping the Sandiganbayan from sentencing Garcia with his lesser offenses.The Sandiganbayan invalidated in July the P60,000 bail bond that he posted after the anti-graft court upheld the plea bargaining agreement.Notwithstanding his pending release, Garcia asked the anti-graft court magistrates not to uproot him from the prison facility where he is presently detained. He requested the antigraft court that “in the event of release,” he still wanted to be inside the Bilibid so that he may continue his work as a lay minister. “Being installed as a lay minister here at Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel, I assist the Bureau chaplain in rendering religious and spiritual services to my fellow detainees,” the letter read. He said that his experience inside the penitentiary allowed him “to attend church services daily.”
NESTLE EYES GENSAN, SARANGANI FOR COFFEE PRODUCTION September 12, 2013 7:07 pm Food giant Nestle Philippines is planning to develop the various upland farming areas in this city and nearby Sarangani Province into production sites for high quality coffee varieties. Jonathan Villaverde, Nestle’s area agronomist, said in a statement that they are presently exploring several upland villages in the city and parts of Sarangani to identify possible development sites for the coffee plantations. He said they are also working on the development of a 50-hectare coffee demonstration farm here to jumpstart the project. http://www.manilatimes.net/nestle‐eyes‐gensan‐sarangani‐for‐coffee‐production/39225/
DENR DONATES SEIZED FOREST PRODUCTS TO DEPED, DSWD September 12, 2013 7:07 pm KIDAPAWAN CITY: The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 12 has turned over a total of 162,000 board feet of confiscated assorted lumber to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Education (DepEd) in Cetnral Mindanao, the DENR announced on Thursday. Undersecretary Demeterio Ignacio, DENR undersecretary for field operations, said the donation, done in two separate occasions in Tantangan, South Cotabato and in Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat on Tuesday, was pursuant to a directive by DENR Secretary Ramon Paje to turnover all confiscated logs and lumber without court cases to the DepEd and other agencies of the government in need of such. http://www.manilatimes.net/denr‐donates‐seized‐forest‐products‐to‐deped‐dswd/39221/
NFA CONTINUES TO BUY ‘PALAY’ FROM PALAWAN FARMERS September 12, 2013 7:07 pm PUERTO PRINCESA CITY: The National Food Authority (NFA) in Palawan is continuously buying palay from farmers at P17 per kilo, according to Provincial Manager Apolinario Buerano. He also announced that there is enough rice supply in the province, and the price of NFA rice remains at P27 per kilo. He also warned that those found selling NFA rice at an unaffordable price face serious trouble if caught by their monitoring team. Besides purchasing palay, Buerano said they are also giving incentives to cooperatives and individuals as additional cost of their harvest sold to NFA warehouses. http://www.manilatimes.net/nfa‐continues‐to‐buy‐palay‐from‐palawan‐farmers/39219/
INDONESIAN FARMERS FILES CASE AGAINST PRESIDENT OVER HAZE September 12, 2013 6:51 pm JAKARTA: Indonesian farmers in a province at the center of Southeast Asia’s worst smog outbreak for years have filed a lawsuit against the president in response to the haze crisis. Environmental groups filed the class-action lawsuit at the Jakarta High Court on behalf of farmers from five villages in Riau province on Sumatra island. They argue President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has not done enough to curb activities, such as slash-and-burn land clearance and logging, that lead to climate change, and their lives are being deeply affected. AFP http://www.manilatimes.net/indonesian‐farmers‐files‐case‐against‐president‐over‐ haze/39169/
Malacañang warns rebels in Zamboanga City: Don’t push us September 12, 2013 4:33 pm Malacanang on Thursday warned rebel group the government will not hesitate to use force to resolve Zamboanga City crisis. Dozens of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters loyal to Nur Misuari swooped on Zamboanga City on Monday, triggering clashes with government forces. “The forces of the state are ready to exercise the resolve of the government,” Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said, citing the government “exhausting all avenues” to end the conflict and protect he people in the are. “While the government is exhausting all avenues for a peaceful resolution to the situation, let it be clear to those defying us that they should not entertain the illusion that the state will hesitate to use its forces to protect our people,” Lacierda said “It is time for you to cooperate to resolve this situation peacefully at the soonest possible time,” Lacierda said. CATHERINE S. VALENTE http://www.manilatimes.net/malacanang‐warns‐rebels‐in‐zamboanga‐city‐dont‐push‐ us/39148/
Napoles is the Mastermind: Luy September 12, 2013 2:13 pm SHE is the mastermind. This was the confirmation made by Benhur Luy, the principal witness in the so-called pork barrel scam, during Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing when asked if it is possible that Janet Lim Napoles is not the brains behind the controversy. Luy said that Napoles is the boss and there are no other individuals above her. This is the reason why she can’t be turned into state witness, considering based on the Luy’s testimony, she could be the guiltiest. Secretary Leila de Lima of the Department of Justice said that while the idea of having Napoles as state witness is always within the realm of possibilities, but they are not considering it. “As of the moment we are not even discussing that [state witness] yet…” de Lima added.JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA http://www.manilatimes.net/napoles‐is‐the‐mastermind‐luy/39130/
Blue Ribbon hearing: witness confirms deals between Napoles and lawmakers September 12, 2013 2:02 pm THE principal witness in the so-called pork barrel scam on Thursday confirmed that Senators and Congressmen transacted with Janet Lim Napoles, the brains behind the controversy, and received kickbacks from every project endorsement they made. Benhur Luy, the main whistleblower in the PDAF scam, also told the Senate Blue Ribbon committee that the implementing agencies are also getting “cuts” from every transaction made between Napoles and the legislators. According to Luy he initially worked as Napoles’ personal assistant and eventually assigned by handle all financial records of the JLN corporation which is the reason why he managed to get and kept copies of transactions records made by his boss from 2007 to 2010. Luy was accompanied by Justice Secretary Leila De Lima and his lawyer Levito Baligod when he appeared before the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA http://www.manilatimes.net/blue‐ribbon‐hearing‐witness‐confirms‐deals‐between‐napoles‐ and‐lawmakers/39120/
PAGASA tracks two LPA, ITCZ continues to bring rains September 12, 2013 9:17 am The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) on Thursday is keeping watch of two low pressure areas (LPAs) off Pacific Ocean. Weather forecaster Alvin Pura said that as of 4 a.m., one of the LPAs was estimated to be at 750 km east of Luzon embedded along the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) across Luzon and Visayas. Pura said that this LPA re-entered the country after re-organized but is still too far to affect the country. He said the agency’s numerical models continued to show that the weather disturbance has a slim chance to become a tropical depression but the agency continues to monitor its movement. Pura said the other LPA was near Guam and is still outside the country. However, Pura said the other LPA which is expected to enter the country before Saturday has a higher chance of becoming a tropical depression since “it is still in the sea, where it could pick up more moisture.” He said it will be named Odette once it intensifies into a cyclone. “Mas malaki ang chance nito na maging isang bagyo base sa ipinapakita ng mga models and yung LPA sa east of Luzon maaring mag merge ito sa LPA na malapit sa Guam,” he noted. However, he said that if the potential cyclone maintains its present track, it is not likely to make landfall in any part of the country. He added that it will just pass over the eastern side of Luzon by the sea. Meanwhile, Pura said that Bicol Region and Eastern Visayas will experience cloudy skies with moderate to occasionally heavy rains and thunderstorms which may trigger possible flashfloods and landslides due to the effects of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). He said the rest of the country including Metro Manila will have cloudy skies with light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms. In its advisory, Pagasa said that light to moderate winds blowing from the southwest to west over Palawan, Visayas and Mindanao and coming from the northeast to northwest will prevail over the rest of Luzon. The coastal waters throughout the archipelago will be slight to moderate. PNA http://www.manilatimes.net/pagasa‐tracks‐two‐lpa‐itcz‐continues‐to‐bring‐rains/39070/
Central bank keeps current key policy rates September 12, 2013 7:05 pm by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO REPORTER The Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) decided to keep the current key policy rates on the back of benign inflation environment. In a press briefing on Thursday, BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said that interest rates for the overnight borrowing or reverse repurchase (RRP) facility is at 3.5 percent, while overnight lending or repurchase is at 5.5 percent. The reserve requirement ratios were kept steady as well. The interest rates on the special deposit account (SDA) facility were left unchanged at 2 percent. Since January, BSP slashed the interest rates for SDAs by a total of 150 basis points. “Steady policy settings will also allow policymakers to better assess evolving economic risks, given the current volatilities in global financial markets,” Tetangco stated. He also noted that firm demand and buoyant business sentiment supported domestic economic activity to grow at a solid pace. Meanwhile, Tetangco reported that latest baseline forecasts indicate that the future inflation path continues to be broadly in line with the target range of 4 percent at plus or minus 1 percent in 2013 to 2014, and 3 also with plus or minus 1 percent for 2015, while inflation expectations remain firmly anchored. However, the BSP governor also warned of “balance of risks” that could push the inflation rate up. “Monetary Board noted that the balance of risks to the inflation outlook has shifted slightly toward the upside as oil prices have become more volatile amid ongoing geopolitical tensions in the Middle East,” he said. The BSP governor also said that world economic prospects are seen to stay broadly subdued, thus tempering pressures on global commodity prices. On the other hand, Tetangco said that the robust growth of lending to the productive sectors of the economy should also support the improvement in the economy’s absorptive capacity, and help moderate price pressures. “As expected, the BSP’s operational adjustment of its SDA facility has also contributed to the rise in domestic liquidity [M3] growth in July,” he said.
The Monetary Board recently ordered trust departments or entities to reduce their investment management accounts in the SDA facility by 30 percent by end-July, while the remaining balance should be phased out by November 30. “As M3 growth rates are expected to decline once these adjustments have been completed, a temporary period of strong M3 growth is not expected to lead to significant inflationary pressures,” Tetangco said. End-July domestic liquidity reached the record high P6 trillion, growing 30.1 percent year-on-year. “Going forward, the BSP will continue to pay close attention to the outlook for prices and economic activity to ensure that monetary policy continues to safeguard non-inflationary economic growth,” he said. http://www.manilatimes.net/central‐bank‐keeps‐current‐key‐policy‐rates/39215/
Posted on September 12, 2013 10:50:28 PM
Water rates slashed
REGULATORS have denied rate hike petitions filed by Metro Manila’s two water concessionaires, instead ordering both to lower charges over a five-year period.
Manila Water Company, Inc. and Maynilad Water Services, Inc. objected to the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System’s (MWSS) decision, announcing that they would be calling for arbitration. Acting MWSS chief Emmanuel L. Caparas told reporters that “substantial disallowances” had to be ordered with regard to expenditures cited in the firms’ rate-rebasing petitions for the 2013-2017 period. Manila Water wanted an additional P5.83 per cubic meter (cu. m.) while Maynilad proposed an P8.58/cu. m. increase. “Based on the recommendation of MWSS-Regulatory Office, [the] Manila Water basic rate of P24.57/cu.m. will [instead] go down by 24.97% or P7.24/cu. m. in the next five years,” Mr. Caparas said, equivalent to an annual P1.45/cu.m. cut that will be implemented starting next month. Taking into account all other bill components, MWSS computations show that Manila Water customers with an average monthly consumption of 30 cu.m. will pay P552.04, down from the current P605.10. Those using 10 cu.m/month, meanwhile, will pay a reduced P123.04 from P134.77 and those at 20 cu.m. will pay P271.13 instead of P297.12. For Maynilad, Mr. Caparas said the basic water charge would be decreased by 4.82% or P1.46/cu.m., equivalent to an annual P0.29/cu.m. cut. Maynilad customers consuming 30 cu.m./month on average will have to pay P692.76 instead of P739.79; those at 10 cu.m. will pay P90.92 from P105.2; and those using 20 cu.m. will pay P339.62 instead of P369.76.
“During the entire rate-rebasing process, the MWSS Regulatory Office adhered to the concession agreement and followed the law. We engaged the concessionaires in discussions and evaluation of their documents,” Mr. Caparas claimed. “Substantial disallowances were effected for unsubstantiated expenses, unliquidated cash advances, infrastructure projects’ unjustified variation orders, [and] capitalized interest, among others,” Mr. Caparas said. “[These included] donations, charitable contributions, expenses for sports clinics and golf tours and beauty pageants. There are also overestimates on project costs and those are big projects. For example, a project that should be more than P1 billion was estimated to cost about P2 billion,” he said. Mr. Caparas declined to provide more details. Copies of the MWSS decision were not made available. Rate rebasing -- done every five years -- is allowed under the concession agreements granted to Manila Water and Maynilad. It provides for the determination of water service prices and the appropriate market-based rate of return on the firms’ investments. Manila Water and Maynilad won the concessions -- which allowed them to provide water and wastewater services in Metro Manila’s east and west zones, respectively -- in 1997. The agreements will lapse in 2037. Both firms, in separate disclosures, claimed the regulator had erred. “We believe that MWSS’ decision to reduce Maynilad’s water tariff is unjustified. Maynilad will thus initiate arbitration proceedings to dispute the MWSS decision and to settle the tariff rebasing issues promptly, to avoid any disruption in its operations to the detriment of its consumers,” the firm said. Ongoing operations would be reviewed with a view of providing continued services without compromising the firm’s financial stability, Maynilad added. Manila Water, for its part, said the decision meant the removal of “significant programs for building and maintaining the water and wastewater systems in
the east zone. Because of this, our ability to fulfill our service obligations to our customers will be severely compromised and impaired.” “Under these circumstances, we feel and believe it is our duty to challenge the MWSS rate determination. As such, we will file the dispute notice which officially commences the process of arbitration as prescribed in the Concession Agreement,” it added. Asked to comment, Mr. Caparas said: “We heard about that but that’s all part of the process. The Regulatory Office is ready for any arbitration. That’s part of the dispute settlement mechanism of concession agreements.” He could not say if the rate cuts would push through once the firms formally call for arbitration. “Let’s wait and see. Any possible dispute can still be resolved so there can be discussions between the two parties,” Mr. Caparas said. “So prior to the arbitration, we can discuss and compromise so that we don’t have to bring that to the courts.” He rejected the claim of reduced water services. “[T]he audit that we conducted showed that ... the water concessionaires can still meet their service obligations. We won’t come up with a result (decision) that will kill their businesses,” he said. Maynilad services residents in most of Manila, parts of Quezon and Makati cities, the cities of Caloocan, Pasay, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Valenzuela, Navotas and Malabon in Metro Manila, as well as the cities of Bacoor and Imus and the municipalities of Kawit, Noveleta and Rosario in Cavite province.Manila Water, meanwhile, provides water and wastewater services to the east zone covering parts of Quezon City and Makati, the southeastern parts of Manila, Taguig, Pateros, Marikina, Pasig, San Juan, Mandaluyong and areas in Rizal province. --Claire-Ann Marie C. Feliciano http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=TopStory&title=Water‐rates‐ slashed&id=76446
Posted on September 12, 2013 10:45:05 PM
Bill seeks use of LED lights
A MEASURE requiring all agencies to install light emitting diode (LED) bulbs in offices has been filed at the House of Representatives in a bid to conserve energy and promote a healthy ecology.
Parañaque Rep. Eric L. Olivarez (1st district) filed House Bill (HB) 262 or the LED Light Savings Act of 2013 “to promote economy in governance and in order to protect the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology by ceasing to use all products that contain mercury, a known toxic metal used to run incandescent and fluorescent bulbs.” “All government offices are hereby required to cease from using incandescent bulbs and fluorescent tube lights and CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs. Instead, government offices are hereby required to replace all their lighting fixtures with LED bulbs,” HB 262 read. “LED lights emit more efficient light, as they use only 2 to 17 watts of electricity. Thus, it saves almost 70% in energy consumption.” Mr. Olivarez said in his bill’s explanatory note. He said LED lights do not contain mercury, “a chemical used to run CFL bulbs.”
Posted on September 12, 2013 10:44:00 PM
Philippines in dengue list
THE PHILIPPINES is in the list of Asian countries with the highest incidence of dengue across the Western Pacific, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said yesterday.
Dr. Mark Jacobs, WHO director for communicable diseases, said yesterday at an Asian Development Bank event that Southeast Asian countries have the highest number of dengue infections in Asia-Pacific, including Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. “Asia-Pacific bears 75% of current global disease burden from dengue, estimated at 50-100 million annually,” Mr. Jacobs noted in his presentation. Mr. Jacobs also noted dengue increased fivefold in the last five decades globally. -MFEF http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Philippines‐in‐dengue‐ list&id=76433
Posted on September 12, 2013 10:47:24 PM
Whistle-blower details mess
THE GOVERNMENT’S star witness in the controversial fund scandal yesterday detailed before a Senate inquiry the anomaly allegedly involving lawmakers linked to a businesswoman, the principal suspect.
Benhur K. Luy, the principal whistle-blower and former employee of suspect Janet Lim-Napoles, stopped short of naming senators in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel, mess but provided the Blue Ribbon committee with processes on how the money -- released by implementing agencies -- ended up with lawmakers and Napoles using fake nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as recipients. Mr. Luy said the implementing agencies linked to the Napoles caper are Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC), National Livelihood Development Corp. (NLDC), National Agribusiness Corp. (NABCOR), and Zamboanga del Norte Agricultural College Rubber Estate Corp. (ZREC). The NGO recipients identified by former officials in previous hearings as linked to Napoles, meanwhile, were confirmed by Mr. Luy. These are the Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc. (MAMFI); People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation, Inc. (POPDFI); and Social Development for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (SDPFFI). The agencies and NGOs were previously identified in a special audit report of the Commission on Audit (CoA), and affirmed by the testimonies of CoA Chairman Maria Gracia M. Pulido-Tan and former officials of NABCOR and ZREC in hearings earlier this week. Asked by senators on how the implementing agencies were chosen, Mr. Luy said: “Ms. Napoles has connection with the IAs (implementing agencies).”
The sharing of kickbacks, Mr. Luy also said, was “50% for the lawmaker; 10% for the implementing agency, and the remaining 40% for Ms. Napoles.” On occasions, he added, chiefs-of-staff of the lawmaker receive a one to two percent commission. Mr. Luy said he has the bank accounts of the legislators or the chiefs-of-staff where the funds were deposited. The PDAF would be disbursed in two tranches: 50% upon listing of the transaction, in which the implementing agency would be chosen from a “menu” of the Department of Budget and Management; and the remaining 50% upon the issuance of the Special Allotment Release Order (SARO), he said. Asked on who initiates the deal, Mr. Luy said: “The lawmakers would walk in to the office of JLN enterprise and lobby their PDAF.” JLN is the company set up by Napoles. Pressed for names, Mr. Luy refused to divulge the identity of senators who endorsed their PDAF and received commission from Napoles pending the filing of charges. Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima, who was seated beside Mr. Luy, said that the first set of charges will be filed on Monday. Aside from PDAF, the government is also looking into the alleged unauthorized use of royalties from the Malampaya gas-to-power project off Palawan province. “The NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) is also investigating the Malampaya fund controversy as one of the whistle-blowers is privy to the issue,” Ms. de Lima noted. The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a stay order on the remaining PDAF of lawmakers for the year, and disbursements from the Malampaya fund for non-energy related expenditures.
On the sidelines of the Senate inquiry, Senator Teofisto L. Guingona III, Blue Ribbon chairman, said that “today [yesterday] it was established that there is really corruption and money given to legislators. Unfortunately, they were not named. But we will find out on Monday.” Asked if other whistle-blowers will be summoned, Mr. Guingona said: “I think the most important whistle-blower has already testified. I think he is very credible and very believable.” He added “there is very reasonable basis to conclude that there is either malversation of public funds or plunder committed by some legislators.” -Kathleen T. de Villa http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Whistle‐blower‐details‐ mess&id=76440
Posted on September 12, 2013 08:34:35 PM
Peso weakens but clings on to P43:$1 level
NEGATIVE data abroad brought the peso down against the dollar, but the local unit is still clinging on to the P43:$1 level.
The peso closed at P43.89 a dollar yesterday, shedding 10 centavos from its P43.790-per-dollar-finish on Wednesday. Its weakness was “mainly driven by negative Aussie data,” a trader said in a phone interview. Unemployment in Australia climbed to a four-year high of 5.8% in August. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that employers laid off 10,800 workers last month, higher than the 10,000 forecast by the market. At home, the central bank’s move to keep policy rates at record lows did not have an impact. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas maintained its policy rates -- the benchmark for interest rates -- at record lows of 3.5% and 5.5% for overnight borrowing and lending, respectively, during its policy meeting yesterday. The policy stance was in line with the expectations of the market, another trader said in a phone interview. “It’s already expected that they wouldn’t do anything so it didn’t have any major impact,” the trader said.The peso is expected to trade against the dollar within the P43.70 to P44.00 range today. Dollars traded yesterday rose to $998.25 million from $776.275 million traded on Wednesday. -- Diana Jean B. Evite http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Finance&title=Peso‐weakens‐but‐ clings‐on‐to‐P43:$1‐level&id=76403
Selective testimony to back up pork raps Written by Angie M. Rosales Friday, 13 September 2013 08:00 The testimony of prime whistle-blower Benhur Luy, the cousin and former employee of P10billion pork barrel scam author Janet Lim Napoles, filled in the blanks yesterday on the elaborate scheme to associate certain members of the Senate with the scam as Luy admitted that documents provided the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that would form basis of the cases to be filed on Monday covers only from 2006 to 2010 which was almost the same years covered by the selective Commission on Audit (CoA) report on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). The PDAF report was clearly aimed at members of the opposition in the Senate as the findings revolved mostly around the PDAF use of key opposition figures with up to 100 percent of their funds audited compared to less than 10 percent and in the case of President Aquino and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, senators during the audit period, were not reviewed at all. Luy was a surprise witness yesterday at the Senate hearing as Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she had a change of heart at the last minute to allow Luy to testify prior to the filing of charges related to the pork scam on Monday. De Lima, on questioning of Sen. Francis Escudero, also admitted that Luy issued two depositions, one containing Luy’s statement when he was rescued from illegal detention of Napoles which contained all that he knew about the scam including the legislators involved and a second which will be used by the NBI that is based on “supporting documents” which covered only the four years as told by Luy. De Lima defended the select number of legislators that would be included in the cases that would be filed on Monday saying that only those supported by documents will be charged. “We would not want to just be filing cases just simply because the names have been mentioned but yet without other proofs like documentary,” De Lima said. Escudero also asked De Lima which of the two depositions that Luy made will be submitted to the Senate or if the first affidavit everything that Luy knew about the PDAF scam will be provided the Senate, De Lima said the Senate will be furnished only with the affidavit supporting the case to be filed by the NBI. “I think the better part of prudence would tell me that we can furnish you with the copy only of the affidavit which is used for the filing of the case and which mentions only those who will face charges,” De Lima said.
De Lima also admitted that the cases involving legislators will be filed in batches. “The first batch will be those confirmed based on other evidence and based on the personal knowledge of the whistleblowers including Senators, members of the House, but as of their party affiliations, I really don’t know. In other words, what I am saying here is that politics is not at all a consideration,” she said. De Lima told the Senate blue ribbon committee that the NBI will be filing cases “in batches”, not necessarily on the weight or significance of the charges or not even based on the amount of money allegedly pocketted by personalities concerned from the supposed misuse of pork barrel funds or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). “I have to be candid. We are under extreme pressure to file already a case, cases ASAP (as soon as possible). So, magsa-sample muna ho kami (So, we will first take samples) but even in the sampling we will be careful, these should all have solid bases. These will all pass through the Ombudsman,” she said. With just four days left to work on and finalize the charges to be levelled at the supposed culprits, the DoJ chief admitted to Senate probers that the government had yet to decide on their legal tactics. Escudero inquired whether the “first batch” of cases would mean that these are those which has the most damning evidence, regardless of the amount involved, De Lima said they’re still in the process of deliberating on this. Luy also told Senate probers that Napoles was the one who ran the entire scheme of carting away with the lawmakers’ pork barrel and Malampaya funds. “There’s no one else but her. She’s really the mastermind because she’s my boss, no one else,” Luy repeatedly said before the Senate blue ribbon committee, dismissing conjectures of some observers on the possibility of a higher and powerful personality or individuals supposedly in connivance in raiding the government’s coffers through the use of fake non-government organizations (NGOs). Appearing before the investigating committee after Justice Sec. Leila de Lima announced in her opening statement that he had agreed to testify on the condition that he will not be made to name names of supposed lawmakers embroiled in the scam, Luy was ushered in to the plenary session hall where the hearings were being held, wearing a bullet-proof vest and heavilyguarded by National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) operatives. Luy initially tried to convince Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano on this claim saying that Napoles was all over each of the transactions involving the alleged misappropriation of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and reiterated the same when grilled by Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara. “Whoever maybe the person that she’s referring to, as the one that she’s allegedly receiving instructions from, that’s not true. There’s no such thing. We only dealt with her, being our only
‘boss’,” he told Angara. At one point during the lengthy proceedings, Sen. Grace Poe tried to solicit admission from Luy on Napoles’ “patrons” or any “higher individual” who could have wield influence but was only given a negative answer. In his testimony, Luy admitted that he had never dealt with any of the alleged senators who supposedly conspired with Napoles in downloading portions of their PDAF to her bogus NGOs and ghost projects in exchange for 50 percent of the released amount, saying that it was only the latter who was communicating with the lawmakers, including congressmen. In implicating some lawmakers’ chief of staff (COS) who allegedly transacted in behalf of their principals, attending to the purported documentary requirements and following ups releases of Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and in receiving the supposed “rebates” or cuts in the PDAF, Luy’s claims were based on written communication only. “Wala po akong nakausap na senador. Pagdating sa COS, sa documentation lang po ang level ng pag-uusap namin,” he told Sen. Bam Aquino, adding that what he could attest to are the alleged involvement of some agency heads in receiving “kickbacks”, having witnessed some of these incidents himself as he accompanied Napoles several times. He was give the impression, when he got himself involved in the transactions that all along Luy thought were all above board, that such “rewards” were part of the standard operating procedure (SOP) in doing regular “business” with them. And as such, Luy further claimed that he knows full well how the released amount were supposedly broken down by all those involved in the transaction, with Napoles allegedly securing as much as 35 percent in every transaction and the rest - 10 percent to the implementing agencies, meaning its head and five percent to the lawmakers’ COS. A measly one percent is given to the “NGOs”, which means a split to its “president” and “incorporators”, all of whom were Napoles employees, including supposedly some members of her household staff and drivers as well as immediate relatives. “Point five percent goes to the (NGO) president and point five percent to the (NGO) incorporators. She said it should be shared to her staff but most of the times, this was not followed since we’re already her employees and receiving salaries,” he said. When asked by Angara of his knowledge in the supposed delivery of “payments” to senators, having boasted to Cayetano that he had been in the Senate building for few times in the past, Luy said it was often Napoles’ driver who allegedly handed over the money to the persons concerned and made them sign a voucher, everytime. The unnamed driver who was subpoenaed by the NBI for questioning, according to De Lima, had refused to cooperate as he only sent his lawyer to deal with the investigators. Blue ribbon committee chair Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, when he inquired the same to Luy,
the latter admitted that he did not witness any of the senators in the act of receiving money from Napoles, saying that he only “knew” of them getting it from the latter herself or through their COS. “It’s in a cash basis but there were also MCs (manager’s checks) issue but not under the name of the senator. Those in the House of Representatives, it’s through fund transfer because we have the accnount number of the COS of the congressmen and we will just credit the amount in their account, either in the account of the congressman or their COS,” he said. Escudero manifested to have the bank manager of Metrobank Magdalena branch in Binondo where most of Napoles’ alleged personal accounts are kept, to validate Luy’s testimony as the latter claimed that every cash withdrawals they make would amount to tens of millions of pesos, at one point, even as much as P75 million. “There is a ‘know your client rule’ na pinapatupad ang BSP para sa mga bangko and surely, this must have raised a red flag. If you withdraw P75 million in one branch and the bank manager knows the business his client is in, he is required to report to the AMLC (Anti-Money Laundering Council) right then and there,” commented Escudero. It was also during Escudero’s interrogation that Luy confessed that they also engaged in forging the signatures of the alleged contact-lawmakers, “with the approval of Ms. Napoles” in some instances. Before agreeing to present Luy as a witness, De Lima first sought the commitment of the panel into not having to make him mention any names of lawmakers supposedly involved as this could jeopardize the filing of the cases before the Office of the Ombudsman on Monday, the formal complaints are now in the process of being finalized. Guingona, in a briefing after the hearing, said it’s a foregone conclusion that corruption was committed and that money changed hands with some legislators although, “unfortunately, their names were not mentioned.” “But it’s only a matter of time. According to the secretary of justice, it will come out on Monday. “There is reasonable basis to conclude that there is in fact either malversation of public funds or plunder committed by some legislators,” he said. Whether it was the end of the proceedings as the committee chair himself told reporters that they have come in “full circle” in ascertaining the flow of the transactions as well as the supposed money trail, Guingona put in hanging his answer saying it will all depend on Monday when De Lima formally lodge the complaint. “We will sit down and assess what will happen on Monday. About the other whistleblowers, we will take that into account. I think the most important whistleblower has already testified. And I think it’s very credible and very believable,” he said.
House abolishes PDAF, well not exactly ... Written by Gerry Baldo Friday, 13 September 2013 08:00 Claims that the House of Representatives had abolished the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or the pork barrel proved exaggerated as the House appropriations committee yesterday kept the P25.2 billion pork barrel fund intact in the 2014 General Appropriations Act merely distributing this to six line government agencies. The P25.2 billion stays in the 2014 General Appropriations Act (GAA) but the funds were scattered to six government agencies, House Appropriations committee chairman Isidro Ungab said. Of the entire amount, Department of Public Works and Highways will get the highest of P8.8 billion (35 percent); Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will get P5.1 billion (20 percent); and Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Department of Education (DEpEd) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will get P3.8 billion each (15 percent). The 2014 GAA committee report is now being drafted and is expected to be brought to the House floor for sponsorship. The redistribution of the PDAF was in line with President Aquino’s proposal to have new rules but keeping the pork barrel of legislators intact, thus only renaming the funds as a result of public outrage over the funds’ misuse as indicated in the P10-billion pork barrel scam. The new policy would enable the lawmakers to recommend to the government agencies which projects fit their respective congressional districts and the needs of their constituents including funds for education and health. ACT Teacher party list Rep. Antonio Tinio who voited against the committee decision to preserve the pork barrel fund said he was not convinced with the formula agreed upon and he is still battling for the total abolition of PDAF. Almost 100 members of the House approriations committee agreed not to scrap PDAF in the 2014 budget but merely transfer the funds to the six government agencies. Under the committee proposal, Ungab explained that each congressmen have still the chance to recommend soft and hard projects but the government agencies has the last say if they will approve the Congressmen’s request. “It depends on the persuasion or the argument of the congressmen. Of course it can be accepted or rejected,” said Ungab as he stressed that he could not say if the proposals of each congressman for the fund use will have a limit.
The PDAF funds, however, may no longer be channeled through foundations, non-government organizations (NGOs) and local government units, Ungab said. Left-leaning partylist groups rejected the mere transfer of the PDAF to government agencies. Party-list Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna, Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela and Tinio branded the move as a ploy to retain the PDAF against the will of the people. “We voted no because this is still PDAF. This is not the demand of the people. The demand is to abolish PDAF, including the Presidential pork. The fact that the lawmakers are still entitled to recommend proves that there is still PDAF,” Colmenares said yesterday. Colmenares, Tinio and De Jesus, who have not been using their PDAF during the past several Congresses, now maintained that the PDAF system is inherently corrupt. The Makabayan bloc describes any lump sum appropriation in the national budget as pork barrel and brands the President’s discretionary funds such as P1 trillion worth of Special Purpose Funds which are being used in emergency situations like calamity funds as pork. The position does not sit well with the administration which is task to disburse funds for typhoon victims and other natural disasters. The new system also gives the government agency the power to reject the recommended projects of the lawmakers. “The fact that the new system grants the lawmakers the entitlement of recommending projects proves that there is still pork. That is still influence peddling,” Tinio added. Tinio is one of those who have used millions of pesos of his pork barrel for the construction of school buildings in various parts of the country. Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, meanwhile, ordered the review of the performance of the House Oversight Committee during the previous Congresses following a recommendation to revive the panel. “I don’t like to say no to that [revival of oversight committee). We are studying it,” Belmonte said. The move was triggered by the decision of the House to relegate the pork barrel to six government agencies which are involved in education, health and social services. “For instance, the House for a long time had the oversight committee. What did it do? So I want to find out how successful was it? I want to do all of that and not just act on a theoretical basis,” the speaker said. The Speaker said he is also open to suggestion that implementing agencies should submit regular reports to Congress regarding the disbursement of public funds. “It is not a bad idea. We should do that,” he said.
Corruption under Aquino gov’t persists — bishops Written by Pat C. Santos Friday, 13 September 2013 08:00 The Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF) for the abolition of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) has joined others in calling for the immediate abolition of all forms of pork barrel, including the presidential pork barrel. “The Ecumenical Bishops Forum joins the Filipino people in calling for the scrapping of the Priority Development Assistance Fund which is more popularly called ‘pork barrel.’ The Million People’s March last Aug. 26, a gathering of between 80,000 to 100,000 citizens from all walks of life, and the biggest protest action in more than a decade, expressed in no uncertain terms the sentiments of the people,” the EBF said in a statement signed by Bishop Elmer Bolocan, UCCP; Rev. Deogracias Iñiguez Jr. and Bishop Felisberto Callang. “President Aquino was elected overwhelmingly because of his slogan ‘Kung walang corrupt ay walang mahirap” (If there are no corrupt people, there are no poor people), and promised to eliminate corruption under his administration. He also adopted the ‘daang matuwid’ (straight path) slogan, and promised to lead the country along that path,” the EBF said. “But what are we seeing now? Corruption in many agencies – the Armed Forces in the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, the Bureau of Customs and others – continues. Lately, the nation was rocked by the ‘Napoles pork barrel scam’ where P10 billion of PDAF of senators and congressmen went to personal accounts.” “This news came while the country was being battered by typhoons. For some people, this scam was worse than typhoons. And so they suggested through the social media that typhoons be named after the senators and congressmen who will be proven guilty,” it added. “What happened to the campaign against corruption? Where is the straight path? Three years of P-Noy’s rule did not change anything for the better. On the contrary, things became worse!” “The ‘pork’ is one big source of corruption. It is estimated that 100 billion pesos of people’s money which were earmarked for priority or pet projects of legislators were lost since 2001 to the present. Those funds could have been used to build public schools and equip them with chairs and books, hospitals with sufficient equipments and medicines, and roads and bridges that are not substandard. Those could have been used, too, to improve our agriculture and subsidize our poor farmers,” the bishops stressed. The group said that by scrapping the pork from the national budget is right and timely. “The legislators don’t need it. Their job is to make laws. Projects and social services are the domain of the Executive Branch. The funds should be allocated directly to the implementing agencies concerned,” the EBF said. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/nation/item/19111‐corruption‐under‐aquino‐gov‐t‐persists‐bishops
Only Congress can remove tax perks, BIR chief told Written by Tribune Friday, 13 September 2013 08:00
Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Lawyer Kim Jacinto Henares seems to be lost in her latest crusade — to abolish tax and financial incentives in several industries that include agro-industrial enterprises. Her latest crusade didn’t only earn her flak from various sectors but it also suggested she’s unaware that abolishing tax perks for any industry needs approval of both houses of Congress. Such was the comment of one of the authors of the law that gives tax exemptions to farm inputs and agricultural products. “Since it was granted by law, only a law can remove it; we must encourage investment in critical sectors and we are competing with other countries so we must be at par if not better or else the investors may go elsewhere,” former Nueva Ecija Rep. Renato Diaz told the Daily Tribune from abroad. Diaz, who authored some of the tax exemptions during his stint in Congress from 1992 to 1998, said removing a single tax exemption of any industry requires laborious work by both houses of Congress because doing such is not a simple task. “It’s in the tax laws and investment laws,” Diaz, a noted investment banker, said. Yesterday, Henares said she wants tax exemptions be given 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 was quoted as saying. The removal of tax exemptions for agricultural products/inputs was the latest jaunt of Henares. A week ago, Henares said she wanted bank accounts of dead people to be seen and studied to reach their target collection goal of P50 billion by 2016. Henares said looking into dead people’s bank accounts will help the bureau check taxable inheritance fortune and boost estate tax collections from about P1 billion a year to an average of P12.5 billion. A tax expert advised the BIR commissioner that there is already an estate tax for everybody who passed away.
Those who have inherited the fortune of any dead person will shoulder the tax. “She must do her homework before saying that,” the expert, who refused to be identified, said. “We are now hitting 100 million (population). Why does she want to include the dead among those who need to be taxed?” the expert, who also became a BIR commissioner, added. Henares didn’t reply to the Tribune when asked about her comment on the proposal to tax dead people. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/business/item/19101‐only‐congress‐can‐remove‐tax‐ perks‐bir‐chief‐told
Landbank awards top CFIs Written by Ed Velasco Friday, 13 September 2013 08:00
LandBank of the Philippines recently paid tribute to its outstanding partner countryside financial institutions (CFIs) for their valuable support to the bank’s various credit programs aimed at promoting countryside development. Conferred with the Golden Award was the One Network Bank Inc. in Davao City, which received a trophy and cash prize of P500,000. One Network Bank is majority owned by the Consunjis of DMCI, a dominant player in coal mining, real estate and housing. The Golden Award is given to a former Hall of Fame awardee which continued to support small farmers and fisherfolk as evidenced by their increasing number of small farmers and fisherfolk assisted and loan portfolio to the sector. The Rural Bank of Goa, Inc. from Camarines Sur was named the most outstanding CFI in the national category, followed by the Gateway Rural Bank Inc. in Bulacan. The Rural Bank of San Jose, Inc. in Camarines Sur bagged the third place while the Rural Bank of Cauayan Inc. in Cauayan City and the Cantilan Bank Inc. in Surigao del Sur landed in fourth and fifth places, respectively. The first, second and third place winners in the national level received P300,000, P200,000 and P150,000, respectively while the fourth and fifth place winners received P100,000 and P75,000, respectively. Landbank also gave citations and P75,000 cash price to each of the most outstanding rural banks in three political regions: Region I — Rang-ay Bank Inc. (A Rural Bank), Region IV-A—Bangko Kabayan Inc., Region XI — Rural Bank of Digos Inc. Special awards were also given to the Rang-ay Bank Inc. of La Union as Best CFI Intermediary (with lowest pass-on rate to end borrowers); Rural Bank of Cauayan Inc. of Isabela as Best CFI Availer — Agri/Agra Loans; Rural Bank of Goa Inc. of Camarines Sur as Best CFI Availer — Microfinance Loans and Gateway Rural Bank Inc. of Bulacan as best from January to June this year, Landbank extended P9.8 billion in loans to CFIs, benefiting 165,478 farmers and fisherfolk nationwide. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/business/item/19099‐landbank‐awards‐top‐cfis
Luy nasa hit list (Dindo Matining)
Matinding seguridad ang ibinigay kahapon ng Senado kay Benhur Luy, ang principal whistleblower sa P10 billion pork barrel fund scam. Sa pagpapatuloy ng imbestigasyon ng Senate Blue Ribbon committee kahapon, hiniling ni Justice Sec. Leila de Lima sa komite na siguruhin ang kaligtasan ni Luy sa kanyang pagtestigo sa Senado. “We would want to ensure his security. We have raw information earlier that there might be security threat leveled against him when he appears today before this honorable committee,” hiling ni De Lima kay Blue Ribbon committee chairman Sen. Teofisto ‘TG’ Guingona III. Maliban sa nakasuot ng bullet-proof vest, tatlong nakasibilyang security personnel ang tumayo sa likod ni Luy at humarap sa magkakaibang direksyon sa buong panahon ng pagbibigay nito ng testimonya sa session hall. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/sep1313/news05.htm#.UjJ_o9KBlRI
DTI nakatutok sa bigas (Eralyn Prado) Mahigpit na tinututukan ngayon ng pinagsanib na monitoring team ng Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) at National Food Authority (NFA) ang presyuhan ng bigas sa mga pamilihan. Ito’y makaraang ihayag ng NFA na bumaba na ang presyo ng bigas matapos na ito’y tumaas noong nagdaang araw. Nais tiyakin ng DTI na wala nang magsasamantala at balik na sa dating presyo ang bigas kung saan ang regular milled-rice ay nabibili sa halagang P27 kada kilo habang P32 naman kada kilo sa well-milled rice. tumaas ang presyo ng bigas matapos na manalasa ang bagyong Labuyo ngunit iginiit naman ng Department of Agriculture na walang dahilan upang tumaas ang presyo nito dahil wala namang rice shortage.!Magugunitang sinasabing tumaas ng P4 hanggang P5 ang kada kilo ng bigas na dahilan upang pumalo na sa P36 kada kilo ang pinakamurang klase ng commercial rice.!report,!Sa http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/sep1313/news08.htm#.UjJ_rdKBlRI
Asahan ang baha -- MMDA (Eralyn Prado)
Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino.!ang pagbaha sa Metro Manila kapag bumuhos ang malakas na ulan, ayon kay Metropolitan Manila Development!rin! pa!Asahan sa maraming kadahilanan.!rin!na!dulot!Ayon kay Tolentino, sa kabila umano ng patuloy na ginagawang mga hakbang at lunas ng ahensya upang tuluyan nang malunusan ang pagbaha sa Kamaynilaan ay hindi pa rin ito tuluyang maiiwasan mga baradong kanal, isa pa rin sa nakadagdag ng pagbaha ay ang mga ginagawang proyekto ng Department of Public Works and Highways (DWPH).!ang!maiwasan! Tolentino, na bukod sa hindi pa rin!ni!Tinukoy Partikular dito ay ang 76 drainage system projects ng DPWH na hindi pa natatapos, na karamihan ay matatagpuan sa Manila at Quezon City. natatapos ang nabanggit na mga proyekto ng DPWH ay hindi maiiwasang bumaha partikular kapag bumuhos ang malakas na ulan.!hindi!Giit ni Tolentino na hangga’t http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/sep1313/news09.htm#.UjJ_tNKBlRI
Plunder raps filed Monday – De Lima Published : Friday, September 13, 2013 00:00 Written by : Marlon Purificacion JUSTICE Secretary Leila de Lima confirmed that beginning Monday next week, cases will be filed against those involved in the pork barrel scam. During the Senate hearing, De lima said the first to be charged are those who received more than P50-million commission from Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the multi-billion peso scam. ”Ang basehan ay yung personal knowledge, nabanggit ng whistleblowers at kung may paper trail, documents,” De Lima told Sen. Francis Escudero when asked if all those supposedly involved in the scam will be charged on the same day. ”I have to be very candid. Magsa-sample muna kami pero maingat kami na may basehan pero dadaan sa Ombudsman,” De Lima said. ”Yung [first batch] na sasampahan, nasusunod yung threshold ng plunder, more than P50 million each yung commission nila,” she added. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/58022‐plunder‐raps‐filed‐monday‐‐ de‐lima
Napoles tagged as pork scam ‘brains’ Published : Friday, September 13, 2013 00:00 DETAINED businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles is the “mastermind” of the Php10-billion pork barrel fund scam and no one else. Whistleblower Benhur Luy pointed this out yesterday during his testimony before the continuation of the PDAF scam probe called by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee when asked whether there is someone “above” Napoles. Asked by Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and Sen.Juan Edgardo Angara to confirm reports that Napoles is the brains behind the PDAF anomaly, Luy said: “Siya po ang mastermind. Kasi sya po ang boss ko. Lahat po ng pera ni-re remit kay Mrs.Napoles.” Luy and Napoles are second cousins. He was already earning Php45,000 a month as “officer” in Napoles’s firm when their relationship turned sour after she suspected that he was trying to put up his own foundation. Sen.Teofisto Guingona III, committee chairman, wants to believe Luy’s testimony that it is Napoles who was running the entire syndicate. “We have to take that into account. It sounds convincing but I guess the proper person to answer that would be Janet Lim-Napoles,” he said. Pressed whether the committee will require Napoles to testify, he said: “We have to sit down and assess.” Asked to comment on Luy’s statement that he does not want Napoles to become a state witness, Guingona said: “I’ll leave that to the Secretary of the Department of Justice (Leila de Lima).” De Lima has reiterated that there is no political color in the investigation of lawmakers allegedly involved in the scam. She made the assurance when Sen.Francis “Chiz” Escudero asked her to address some criticisms that the filing of plunder cases against those linked in the scandal will be “selective” or against mostly members of the opposition party. The senator echoed the concern of other quarters that Luy’s testimony is being “controlled toward a certain direction.” “Ang attitude namin ngayon (ay) kung sino man ang tamaan, so be it. Kung ang tinutukoy niyo po ay ‘yung sinasabing may partisan consideration dito or unahin ang mga oposisyon kaysa mga administration allies, wala pong ganun. That I can tell you,” De Lima told the senators. “Unang ipinakita sa akin ng NBI ‘yung listahan, more or less a final list (ng kakasuhan). But I will again check today if really that is the final list. First batch ito kasi na-confirm nga, based sa mga other evidence and based on the personal knowledge of the whistleblowers. Iyung mga senators, more or less, I know kung ano ang kanilang party affiliations nung nakita ko yung mga pangalan,” she said. She added: “Iyung mga members of the House (of Representatives), mga congressmen na
nabanggit po dun, hindi ko po alam. Nung tinanong ko ang NBI, alam niyo ba ang party affiliations, hindi po namin alam at ayaw po namin malaman and that is also my attitude, I don’t want to know what is the party affiliations of those congressmen, although in-assign ko po sa isang staff ko na i-research kung ano ang mga party affiliation nila. Pero ang sabi ko pa, ‘wag mo muna sa akin ipakita (sa akin). So, I really don’t know.” “In other words, what I am saying here is that (party affiliation is) not at all a consideration. Wala po ‘yan. Makakaasa po kayo na never po consideration ‘yan. Iyun na po ‘yung standards namin — personal knowledge, documentary support, in respect kung sino man sila,” De Lima said. Bernadette E. Tamayo http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/58020‐napoles‐tagged‐as‐pork‐ scam‐brains
Rice saboteurs tagged Published : Friday, September 13, 2013 00:00 Written by : Marlon Purificacion AUTHORITIES have already identified the personalities believed behind the manipulation and sabotage of rice supply in the country following the discovery of some P15 billion worth of rice that were smuggled into the country from Vietnam. This developed as the PNP-Intelligence Group reportedly raided the ship Komatse Star which was docked at the Manila Bay from which some 1.6 million sacks of rice worth P15 billion were discovered. The authorities involved in the raid, however, are yet to divulge the complete details of the operations purportedly so as not to affect their ongoing follow-up operations. The ship is reportedly being used to repack the smuggled rice and the government stood to lose some P15 billion in revenues had the smugglers succeeded in bringing it to the market even at the price of P500 per sack. A certain A. Yang and Alex S reportedly acted as contacts of the group inside the BoC who were responsible for facilitating the “necessary” documentary requirements of the smuggled rice. Agents who were involved in the operations but who requested anonymity revealed that prior to the raid, a meeting was held last August 11 in an undisclosed place among several key figures that were behind the P15 billion rice smuggling. They identified the personalities as a very high official of the Bureau of Customs, a certain David T., Ariel N., Bong L. and a certain Eldon Cruz. It is not yet clear, however, if Cruz is the ‘presidential bayaw’ of President Aquino or husband of presidential sister Ballsy. The same group is reportedly also angling to spirit out of BoC premises a huge volume of smuggled rice which was part of initial smuggling operations. Another ship MV Song Nan which is also loaded with millions of metric tons of smuggled rice is also awaiting the go signal while docked at the Port of Manila to unload the products.
The smugglers have reportedly banded together to get back at Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala and National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Orlan Calayag who have earlier imposed strict rice importation requirements to protect the interest of local farmers. Both Alcala and Calayag have stood firm in their declaration that the country has sufficient rice supply and stock and that there is no shortage of the main staple especially now that it has already reached the harvest months of September and October. The operatives discovered that the smugglers have reportedly used and manipulated the media by giving false information to confuse the public, make it appear that there is a rice shortage and thus force the NFA to allow more importation of the product. They added that the same group is behind in the false text messages that the NFA was giving away free rice in various big markets in Metro Manila. Alcala has earlier sought the help of the authorities to run after and apprehend those behind the false text messages and file charges of economic sabotage against them. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/58002‐rice‐saboteurs‐tagged
DA, NFA execs scolded! Published : Friday, September 13, 2013 00:00 Written by : Paul Gutierrez ABAKADA-Guro Partylist Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz yesterday called on officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Food Authority (NFA) to follow the strategies and programs enumerated in the 2011-2016 Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP) to ensure quality but affordable rice for the country. “The DA and NFA worked together on a very good, very sound plan to ensure rice self-sufficiency by 2016, which is why we do not understand why the DA and NFA officials just don’t stick with the plan they themselves put together,” said Dela Cruz. Dela Cruz was one of those who surmised that the shortage in rice stocks and the consequent increases in rice prices “are a result of the adoption of policies that are inconsistent with the FSSP.” “What they (DA, NFA officials) are doing now contradicts the recommendations of the FSSP. For example, rather than involve the private sector in the importation of rice, the NFA has monopolized it; rather than earn from the fees it charges rice importers, the NFA is instead bearing the tax costs of importing rice,” stressed the stalwart of the ‘Independent Bloc’ in the Lower House, which is headed by Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin “FM” G. Romualdez. The NFA/DA current approach, Dela Cruz added, drains the funds of the already debt-ridden NFA, “money that could go to help the agriculture sector, funds that could go to providing them the infrastructure to make them more efficient, and therefore, more profitable.” Legislators reminded DA and NFA officials that the FSSP clearly recommends that the NFA minimize its role in rice importation and instead focus on buffer stocking, intensifying palay procurement and strengthening price support for local farmers. “If they adopt the recommendations of the FSSP, we could probably earn P10 billion annually, while keeping pace with our food security program,” Dela Cruz further added. The congressman also said that “if the agenda is rice self-sufficiency, then all the DA and NFA have to do is stick to the plan. “Unless, of course, our agri officials have another agenda, one that has to do with selfish interests, not self-sufficiency,” the lawmaker said.
JPE’s COS in Macau Published : Friday, September 13, 2013 00:00
THE controversial chief of staff of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile allegedly left the Philippines and flew to Macau last week, days before the Senate investigation into the P10-billion pork barrel scam which began yesterday. Airport sources said Atty. Lucila “Gigi” Gonzales-Reyes boarded Cebu Pacific Flight 5J-632 which left for Macau, China, shortly before 8 p.m. of Saturday last week. She was said to have departed alone and checked in only two pieces of luggage. It was learned that Reyes had no problem leaving the country since there is no hold departure order issued against her and neither does her name appear in the immigration watchlist. Sources said she had no return ticket when she left via the NAIA Terminal 3. Reyes is the longtime chief of staff of Enrile, who is among the senators being investigated in connection with the pork barrel scam involving the questionable non-government organizations being administered by now jailed businesswoman and alleged scam brains Janet Lim-Napoles. Yesterday, whistleblower and Napoles’ relative and former employee Benhur Luy testified before the Senate blue ribbon committee and claimed that the chiefs of staff of the senators involved in the anomaly also received a share from the total cost of the projects that utilize Napoles’ NGOs, ranging from one to five percent. Itchie G. Cabayan http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/58031‐jpes‐cos‐in‐macau
PISTON joins pork protest Published : Friday, September 13, 2013 00:00
DENOUNCING the pork barrel as part of the institutionalized corruption in the government, members of the militant transport group Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON) have again made themselves available for today’s anti-pork rally at the Luneta. According to George San Mateo, PISTON president, operators and drivers along with their families have already committed to be part of the fight against the retention of legislators’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). PISTON members were among those who joined in the “Million People March” last August 26 when thousands Filipinos filled the Rizal Park made the historic call for the abolition of the pork barrel. “Ang Pork Barrel System ay bahagi ng institutionalized system of corruption sa gobyerno na dapat nang mawakasan sa lalong madaling panahon. Mahalagang ilantad at kondenahin at panagutin ang lahat ng nagtatanggol at nagpapanatili sa bulok at korap na sistemang ito,” San Mateo said. Joel dela Torre http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/metro/58027‐piston‐joins‐pork‐protest
Firearms that may be registered under RA 10591 Published : Friday, September 13, 2013 00:00 Written by : Alfred Dalizon
ONLY “small arms” may be registered by licensed citizens or licensed juridical entities for ownership, possession and concealed carry under the new tough gun law called Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulations Act, Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan LM Purisima said yesterday. “Small arms” refer to firearm intended to be primarily designed for individual use or that which is generally considered to mean a weapon intended to be fired from the hand or shoulder and which are not capable of fully-automatic bursts of discharge such as a self-loading pistol, a revolver with a revolving cylinder, a rifle which may be classified as lever, bolt or selfloading and shotgun which is a weapon designed, made and intended to fire a number of ball shots or a single projectile through a smooth bore by the action or energy from burning gunpowder. A “light weapon” can be lawfully acquired or possessed exclusively by members of the PNP, the Armed Forces and other law enforcement agencies authorized for such purpose by the President or by the law that Congress may pass after the effectivity of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 10591. “Light weapons” are Class-A Light Weapons which refer to selfloading pistols, rifles, carbines, submachine guns, assault rifles and light machine guns not exceeding caliber 7.62mm which have fully automatic mode; and Class-B Light Weapons which
refer to weapons designed for use by two or more persons serving as a crew, or rifles and machine guns exceeding caliber 7.62mm such as heavy machine guns, handheld under barrel and mounted grenade launchers, portable anti-aircraft guns, portable anti-tank missile and rocket systems, portable launchers of anti-aircraft mobile systems and mortars of a caliber of less than 100mm. Purisima said private individuals who are already licensed holders of Class-A Light Weapons shall not be deprived of the lawful possession provided that they renew their licenses and firearm registration and they continue to possess the standard requirements. Failure to do so will result to the cancellation of the registration. “This will help us effectively reduce the presence of illegal guns in the streets and prevent them from being used as a tool in committing any crime,” said Purisima. The PNP leadership had proposed stricter standards and requisites for the issuance of and obtaining a license to own and possess firearms under RA 10591. RA 10591makes the carrying of licensed firearms in the streets without any Permit to Carry Firearm Outside of Residence an offense punishable by a maximum of six years in jail plus a P10,000 fine, said PNP -FEO director Chief Superintendent Raul D. Petrasanta. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/metro/58012‐firearms‐that‐may‐be‐registered‐ under‐ra‐10591
Free hospitalization for barangay officials sought
Published : Friday, September 13, 2013 00:00
CONSIDERING that elected and appointed barangay officials are prone to health threats, a Quezon City councilor filed an ordinance seeking the allocation of P10 million for their free hospitalization in city-owned medical institutions. Second district councilor Precious Hipolito-Castelo named the barangay officials as primary beneficiaries being in the frontlines of government services which make them prone to stress and other health related risks saying their monthly pay may not be enough to compliment such medical expenses. “Barangay officials are the frontlines in government service as the barangay council’s primary duty is to look after the welfare of their respective constituents,” Hipolito-Castelo said. Barangay officials, she added, are the immediate people sought for help, emergencies and other concerns from the public everytime there is a problem even whether it is during the first hour of the morning or the last minute of the night. The high cost of medicines and hospital processes may not be friendly to these barangay officials as far as their monthly pay is concerned thus the need to approve the bill. She added that the bill would boost the morale of the officials concerned and give them the needed energy to perform their duties service-wise. Joel dela Torre http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/metro/58010‐free‐hospitalization‐for‐ barangay‐officials‐sought
Bread and cake making seminar set Philippine Daily Inquirer 7:38 am | Friday, September 13th, 2013
MANILA, Philippines—The Golden Treasure Skills and Development Program will conduct a one-day seminar on cake baking and bread making at meeting rooms 5 and 6, SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex, on Sept. 14, Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The seminar will have an actual demo, food tasting and hands-on experience on how to make chocolate cake, lemon pound cake, butterscotch bars, apple pie, raisin oatmeal cookies, taisan bread, madeline, eclair, chiffon cake, brazo de mercedez, egg pie, carrot cake, food for the gods, sans rival, tiramisu, garlic bread, egg tart, fruit tart, floss bread, spanish bread, pandesal with fillings, hot dog bun, burger bun, cheese bread, dinner roll, donut, blueberry cheesecake and custard cake. And also there will be a bonus course on how to make fondant cake with gum paste design and basic cake decorating. Other topics to be discussed are sourcing of materials, costing, and step-by-step guidelines on how to venture into baking business. Participants will be given a certificate of training right after the seminar. Lunch, snacks handouts and all the raw materials needed for actual demo and hands-on will also be provided. For questions call 9136551; 4211577; 436-7826, cel. No. 0905-2050110 or 0949-9308487 or log on to www.GoldenTreasureSkills.com or like us on www.facebook.com/GTSDP. http://business.inquirer.net/142683/bread‐and‐cake‐making‐seminar‐set