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US maintains Phl sugar quota By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star)  | Updated September 20, 2013 ‐  12:00am 

  MANILA, Philippines - The United States has kept the country-specific in-quota allocation for Philippine raw cane sugar this current crop year. In an announcement posted on the website of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the agency announced that for the current sugar crop year, the Philippines has an allocation of 142,160 metric tons raw value (MTRV), equivalent to 138,000 MT in commercial value. The US tariff-rate quota for raw sugar allow countries to export specified quantities of a product to the US at a relatively low tariff. The US in-quota allocation for crop year 2013-2014 is placed at 1.117 million MTRV, the minimum amount committed by the US to the World Trade Organization. The allocation for the Philippines is the third largest next to Brazil (152, 691 MTRV) and at Dominican Republic (185, 335 MTRV). Philippine sugar production for crop year 2013-2014 is projected to reach 2.45 million metric tons, roughly the same level as the actual production of 2.45 million MT in the previous crop year. Of the total projected volume, two percent is allocated for for A sugar or US sugar quota, 12 percent for “D” sugar or world market sugar, and 86 percent to “B” sugar or domestic market. The allocation for the US this year is lower because of the huge carry over of volume of more than 80,000 MT of “A” sugar from the previous crop year.

Fourth-quarter palay output to exceed 7.16 MMT–DA Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Thursday, 19 September 2013 19:37 Written by Alladin S. Diega / Correspondent Mlang, North Cotabato —The Department of Agriculture (DA) said palay production from October to December will be more than the 7.16 million metric tons (MMT) projected by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (Bas) for the period. Agriculture Undersecretary Dante Delima, who is also national rice program coordinator, said actual output during the palagad or main harvest “may exceed the target by 2 percent.” “Mga 2 percent pa ang ilalagpas ng target [palay production] for the fourth quarter,” Delima said in a news conference following the Harvest Festival attended by DA officials in Region 12. Farmers in some areas of the country have already started harvesting their crop. Harvest of palay usually goes into high gear by the end of September or the first week of October. Because of this, the DA said the price of commercial rice should go down in the coming days. Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said his department is now investigating “big people” who are behind the persistent increase in the price of commercial rice during the previous months. “Some of them are those who did not gain from importing rice,” Alcala said. The 187,000 metric tons of milled rice imported by the Philippines this year was undertaken solely by the National Food Authority (NFA). NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag said the decision to limit the participation of the private sector in rice importation this year was arrived at following consultations with various groups including farmers. “Sometime last February, a stakeholder meeting was held which included farmers. They suggested that for this year, only the NFA should conduct the importation para daw di masabayan ng mga may masamang plano,” Calayag said. He, however, refused to elaborate when pressed to provide details. This decision to let the NFA undertake the importation of rice this year was criticized by Magdalo Party-list representatives Gary Alejano and Francisco Ashley Acedillo.

The two party-list representatives launched an inquiry to investigate allegations of corruption in the DA and NFA’s purported “monopolistic” rice importation scheme. Alejano and Acedillo said this was a scenario Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan had warned against in various academic papers prior to his appointment. “Rice importation should also be increasingly made a private sector domain, thereby relieving the NFA of the burden of handling rice imports,” according to a study cited by Alejano and Acedillo in their statement. Citing another study, the two party-list representatives noted that the active participation of the NFA in rice importation in the past “increased the volatility of domestic farm prices, discouraged private investments in the rice supply chain, impeded diversification to high-value crops and non-farm employment activities, and in bred massive corruption.”‐commodities/19634‐fourth‐quarter‐ palay‐output‐to‐exceed‐7‐16‐mmt‐da                                 

Government rolls out ‘tilanggit’ Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Thursday, 19 September 2013 19:35 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent Two agencies under the Department of Agriculture (DA) are collaborating to bring to the market a product as crispy as dried squid and the popular danggit. Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) Director Dr. Nicomedes P. Eleazar said this product is not as thin as squid and danggit but it is expected to take the country by storm. Eleazar revealed that this product, which has a distinct a taste, aroma, and crispiness, will be called tilanggit. Tilanggit, also known as tilapiang dinanggit (Oreochromis niloticus), was developed in the manner of danggit (rabbitfish), a famous fish product from the Visayas, particularly Cebu. It is prepared similarly to danggit, which is horizontally cut in half and preserved through drying techniques. “One of its distinct characteristics is it is more meaty as compared to danggit. Since the new product is seen having a huge economic potential, research and development initiatives are on track,” Eleazar said. One of the DA agencies that ventured in this product breakthrough is the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Regional Fisheries Research and Development Center 10 (BFAR-RFRDC 10). Vianney Anthony A. Gapuz, regional focal person for Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR) and officer in charge of the Inland Resource and Management Sector of BFAR, said the idea started during the Research Development and Extension Review with Philippine Center for Aquatic and Marine Research and Development Zonal in 2005. “The concept of tilanggit gained traction in the region when BFAR embarked on producing tilapia for fillet,” Gapuz said. Tilanggit is also being developed in Region 10 as one of the components of an ongoing CPAR project on tilapia culture in Pangantucan, Bukidnon. Its production is seen by the region as good source of alternative livelihood. But its production is a seasonal activity because tilanggit production depends on the supply of quality tilapia. As of now, the common selling price is P50 per 100 grams and is bought through order basis. In an effort to commercialize tilanggit through product development, RFRDC 10 is proposing a project under the National Technology Commercialization Program of BAR.‐commodities/19633‐government‐rolls‐ out‐tilanggit 

Fil‐Ams urged to buy Phl bananas By Pia Lee‐Brago (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 20, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

  MANILA, Philippines - With the first shipment from Bukidnon available in Los Angeles this weekend, the Philippine embassy in Washington called on Filipinos in the US to patronize Philippine bananas. “I call on our kababayans to patronize our own by buying highland cavendish bananas from the Philippines that will be sold for the first time in select supermarkets in the Los Angeles area this weekend,” Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr. said yesterday. “For us to successfully penetrate the highly competitive US banana market, we need to show that there is a strong demand for highland cavendish from the Philippines,” he added. Cuisia made the call after four other companies have expressed interest in penetrating the US market, which has long been dominated by banana-exporting countries in Latin America.‐ams‐urged‐buy‐phl‐bananas     

Noy urged to rein in agriculture chief By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 20, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

  Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala 

MANILA, Philippines - Two lawmakers urged President Aquino yesterday to rein in Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, whom they accused of issuing misleading figures on the country’s rice self-sufficiency. Magdalo Reps. Gary Alejano and Francisco Ashley Acedillo said Alcala has strayed from reason and good sense in the rabid quest for his flawed version of rice self-sufficiency. Agriculture Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning Romeo Recide, who is also Bureau of Agricultural Statistics director, told a joint inquiry of the House of Representatives committees on agriculture and food security that the Department of Agriculture (DA) would not be able to meet its 2013 rice self-sufficiency targets, the two lawmakers said. Recide told lawmakers that based on optimistic projections, the country would be producing 18.45 million metric tons of rice in 2013, or 2.55 million MT short of the 21 million MT required for the country to be rice self-sufficient.

Recide answered “No” when pressed if the country would be rice self-sufficient by yearend. The panels were conducting an inquiry into the reported rice shortage and rising prices of the staple. Alcala had said in media interviews that rice production would hit 20 million MT this year. Alejano and Acedillo urged National Economic and Development Authority director general Arsenio Balisacan and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima to revisit plans and programs laid out at the start of the administration to see for themselves how Alcala’s interpretation of rice selfsufficiency has resulted in higher rice costs and inadequate supply. “Secretaries Balisacan and Purisima have always been vocal about the path this government should take to achieve genuine rice self-sufficiency,” Alejano said. “Perhaps it is time they spoke up and intervened, especially since Alcala’s maverick policies imperil both the country’s food security as well as the economic gains of this administration.” – With Edu Punay                          

Why Alcala is in a dour mood these days Category: Opinion Published on Thursday, 19 September 2013 20:27 Written by Butch del Castillo

ON Wednesday I revisited the Department of Agriculture (DA) on the Elliptical Road in Diliman, Quezon City, for a bit of small talk with some of my old contacts in that government office. It had been quite a while since the last time I was there. But what actually brought me there was a strong hunch that Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala would be in a very foul, if not murderous, mood that day, which was September 18. It was the day the Manila Bulletin came out with the front-page news that Alcala had, in effect, misled President Aquino and the public about the true rice situation in the country. It might as well have been an official disclaimer, to the effect, that all views and opinions so far expressed by Alcala on the rice situation do not necessarily reflect those of the government. Alcala, for more than a year now, has been repeatedly claiming that the country was well on the way to achieving self-sufficiency in rice; and that the day is near when we shall be a net exporter of the grain, in the league of Vietnam and Thailand. But somehow, nobody else—except Mr. Aquino himself, it seems—seems to take Alcala seriously. Maybe it was his bad timing. When he began making his grandiose projections (the President even mentioned those predictions in his State of the Nation Address in July), the newspapers were reporting huge shipments of foreign rice being smuggled into the country at will, apparently with the full cooperation of Customs authorities. Thus, whenever he opens his mouth to talk about bumper harvests and possible export scenarios, it all, somehow, sounds like a morbid joke. On the ground, to be fair, local rice harvests have, indeed, been generally improving. But the improvement can be attributed mainly to good weather in rice-producing areas; and is certainly not the result of a well-thought-out, comprehensive rice-production program. As I said, the Bulletin story, written by Ben R. Rosario, might as well have been an official government announcement that Alcala’s insistent, optimistic claim that the country would be

self-sufficient in rice by the end of the year isn’t being borne out by hard statistics, realistic projections and the actual situation on the ground. The story quotes the most credible source one can find in assessing the country’s rice situation. That source is no other than Agriculture Assistant Secretary Romeo Recide, who heads the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) as its director. (The BAS is the agency under the DA that officially keeps track of production, inventory and consumption patterns pertaining to rice and other agricultural products. Under Executive Order 116, issued in 1987, the figures the BAS compiles are used as the official basis for any rice importation, which can only be authorized by the National Economic and Development Authority.) The Bulletin story is all about Recide’s testimony before the joint inquiry of the House committee on agriculture and the special committee on food security. Recide simply told the joint investigating panel the truth: there is no way the DA could meet its 2013 self-sufficiency target. I heard that his refusal to fudge the rice data has put him in hot water. As it turned out, my hunch was correct. Alcala reportedly chewed Recide’s ass for making him look like a charlatan or a sleazy snake-oil salesman. But actually, there’s not much else Alcala can do for as long as Recide refuses to play ball with his boss and compromise the integrity of his data bank. Alcala could, of course, always find a way to fire Recide for one reason or another. In this administration—which can fire even a sitting Chief Justice—that would be a cinch. But if Recide is fired for doing his job, what a bloody mess that would make. (Alcala’s department has been in prime-time and front-page news lately because of the involvement of its key officials in the P10-billion pork-barrel scam. That’s why he’s in a dour mood. He even challenged activist lawyer Argee Guevarra to a fistfight after the latter remarked [in the vernacular] that “if we are being fried in our own fat in the pork-barrel scam, we are being boiled in our own rice by the DA.” Guevarra only laughed off the challenge, but recounted the whole incident during a radio interview with DWIZ. Guevarra has been constantly urging Alcala to stop playing politics with rice figures that affect the lives of Filipinos.) What I gathered was that Recide is now basically out of the “choir” (inner circle) for refusing to harmonize with lead tenor Alcala, who was about to hit the high notes of his self-sufficiency aria. Recide is, in fact, being ostracized by Alcala’s aides for his principled refusal to be a “team player.”

What Recide told the joint House panel was simply the truth: that the most optimistic projections would show that rice production in the country could not possibly exceed the equivalent of 18.5 million metric tons (MMT) of milled rice. This volume would still be 2.5 MMT short of the 21 MMT needed to be self-sufficient. Recide told the panel that all the figures he cited came from the 2011 to 2016 Food Staples Security Program (FSSP). The FSSP was prepared by the DA itself, Recide said. E-mail:


Gloom hovers over Ecija rice harvest as DA hit over figures By Anselmo Roque  Inquirer Central Luzon   10:52 pm | Thursday, September 19th, 2013  

SCIENCE CITY OF MUNOZ—It’s harvest time in Nueva Ecija but farmer Wilfredo Bernardo is unhappy as he watched his newly harvested crop being threshed. “The harvest is lower as the plant lodged and some of the grains deteriorated,” he said. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala repeatedly gave assurances that the target production of 20 million metric tons will be achieved by the end of the year despite testimony given by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics saying total production is likely to reach only a little more than 18 million MT. At a hearing of two House committees—agriculture and food security—Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo) pointed to what he said was an apparent attempt by the agriculture department to doctor figures to show the rice sufficiency targets are achievable. Alejano quoted government figures as saying that per capita consumption of rice has gone down from 119 kilograms per person to 115 kg per person. “It’s like if you can’t pass the grade, lower the passing grade,” said Alejano in a statement. Bernardo said traders are buying his harvest at P15 a kilogram instead of the P17 to P18 a kg offered a week ago. He said he has no other recourse but to sell his entire harvest from a three-hectare farm in Barangay Gabaldon here as he could not dry the grains. Bernardo blamed heavy rains the past few days and the prevailing cloudy sky for his woes. In past wet season cropping, Bernardo said he used to harvest an average of 90 sacks a hectare. Now it is down to 75 sacks a hectare, he said. In farms next to his, six farmers were seen on Wednesday harvesting the lodged crop. They said they were the only ones responding to a call to harvest the crop in about 30 hectares of rice farms. “The others wouldn’t like to harvest the crop. They said the task strains their hip,” a farmer said. He said they have to endure the pain and the difficulty of harvesting the lodged crop as they have asked for loans from farm owners in the last few months.

“We will not be able to ask for loans if we will ignore their call to harvest their crop,” he said. One of the harvesters, Christian Aguila, 27, sold earlier in the day his one-sack share for his labor. He was paid P13.50 a kg of the fresh harvest. He was told by the rice trader that the quality of the grain was not good that was why the buying price is lower. Aguila said he would buy rice supplied by the National Food Authority (NFA), sold at P28 a kg, as he would not be able to dry and mill his palay for the needs of his family. He said he hoped he could buy at least 5 kg of NFA rice, the sale of which local retailers had limited to a kilogram per customer a day. According to Aguila, there is no limit in buying commercial rice here. But he said he could not afford its price—P33 to P45 a kg. Bernardino Bautista, village chief of Gabaldon, said a large portion of the 380 hectares of palay farms in his village had been affected by heavy rain in the past weeks. “There is at least a 20-percent loss in harvest,” he said.   Read more:‐hovers‐over‐ecija‐rice‐harvest‐as‐da‐hit‐over‐ figures#ixzz2fPFQpu2f                            

Economy  Posted on September 19, 2013 10:07:31 PM 

S. Cotabato farmers get farm equipment TUPI, SOUTH COTABATO ‐‐ This town, dubbed the fruit and vegetable basket of  South Cotabato, has received a boost with new farm equipment, the  construction of a trading center and the development of farm‐to‐market roads.   

The town’s farmers recently received farm equipment worth P3    million in total from the regional office of the Department of    Agriculture (DA‐12).    The equipment include nine hand tractors, worth P25,000 each, and a 35‐horsepower tractor,  worth P740,000.    The machines were turned over to the following:    • Samahan ng mga Magsasaka sa Kablon;    • Sitio Basak Irrigators Association;    • Crossing Rubber Irrigators Association;    • Polonuling High Value Crop Producers Association;    • Palian Community Workers Association;    • Barangay Council of Miasong; and    • Office of the Municipal Agriculturist.    Zaldy M. Boloron, DA‐12 operations division chief, said the distribution of farm equipment was  to alleviate the plight of the farmers by providing them with adequate facilities to help improve  the shelf life of their crops, as well as to develop a market that would benefit the farmers.   

Mayor Reynaldo S. Tamayo, Jr., meanwhile, said the local government has allocated P2 million  for the construction of a trading or bagsakan center for crops produced here.    Farmers, Mr. Tamayo said, need a bigger place to sell their produce in times of harvest.    In support of the trading center, DA‐12 will also construct a storage facility for the farmers.    Mr. Tamayo said that the site of the bagsakan center would be at the foot of Mt. Matutum, in  the area of Barangays Kablon, Palian and Miasong, which are three of the most productive  areas in terms of high‐value crops in Tupi.    This is in response to the needs of the people in the town who are mostly dependent on  agriculture, he said.    The local government has also facilitated the rehabilitation of farm‐to‐market roads including  the P11‐million road project in Barangay Polonuling.    The barangays connected to Polonuling are having hard time delivering their produce to the  town center because of the poor road condition, the mayor said. ‐‐ Louie O. Pacardo‐Cotabato‐farmers‐get‐farm‐ equipment&id=76757                       

Workers want bigger budget for anti‐ poverty programs By Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 20, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The country’s largest labor group yesterday pressed for a bigger budget next year for employment and anti-poverty programs. Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) executive vice president Gerard Seno said the allocation for anti-poverty and employment programs is insufficient to improve the lives of the growing number of jobless and poor people nationwide. “The current priority structure of the budget is not in sync with the needs of the poorest of the poor,” he said. “It neither promotes employment nor minimizes poverty in regions where poverty and lack of employment opportunities are chronic.” Seno said programs to address poverty and employment have been identified, but the national government is not providing enough budget. Under the proposed P2.268-trillion budget for 2014, only P224.7 billion for the Visayas and P501 billion for Mindanao were allocated, while Luzon received P726 billion, he added. Seno said a bigger budget should be allocated for poor provinces to improve workers’ skills, greater diversification of production and processing of byproducts in agriculture.Examples are the National High-Value Crops Program (NHVCP) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the training, livelihood and enterprise development of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), he added. The NHVCP includes extension of support, education and training services to farmers, irrigation network services and provision of agricultural equipment and facilities support services. However, Seno said the NHVCP in Mindanao only received P337.1 million while the National Capital Region and other areas in Luzon have a total of P1.4 billion. The DOLE’s budget for employment facilitation and capacity building and support services for employment generation for the vulnerable sector to help workers graduate into being more productive and secure formal employment or livelihood has P491.1 million for Mindanao and P445.2 million for NCR and the rest of Luzon, he added. Seno said the government should allocate more funds for programs in Mindanao, where most of the poorest areas in the country are found. A majority of workers in the Visayas and Mindanao are agricultural laborers and unskilled, he added. The TUCP favors the proposal of Social Watch Philippines for the DA to implement the NHVCP to revive the banana industry, which employs 240,000 workers in Mindanao, Seno said.

Kung nakakapagsalita lang ang bigas Published : Friday, September 20, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 54

KUNG may batikang PR agency na ang tanging gagawin ay pabanguhin ang mabaho o pagandahin ang pangit na imahe, may isang trabahong matagal nang naghihintay sa kanya. Ito ay kung paano mapapaganda ang tingin ng tao sa bigas ng National Food Authority (NFA). Pag nabanggit mo pa lang na NFA rice, ibig sabihin ay bigas na may kakaibang amoy, hindi maputi (kung puti ang kalimitang standard ng magandang bigas) at hindi masarap ang eating quality. ’Yun nga lang mura sa karaniwan. Baka kaya mura, kasi hindi kagandahan. Kung namimili ang NFA ng palay sa magsasaka, pangit na palay ba ang nabibili niya kaya pangit din ang bigas na lumalabas matapos gilingin? Baka naman galing ang bigas ng NFA sa lumang imbentaryo at ibinebenta lang kapag may shortage sa merkado kaya may amoy at lasang luma? Kung ganun, may itinakda ba silang “expiry date” o markang “best before” upang ito ang unang ibenta bago ang date kung kailan ito ay mapapaso o bago tuluyang bumagsak ang kalidad? Kailan kaya darating ang araw na kapag sinabing NFA rice ay de-kalidad na, mura pa? Anong dapat gawin ng pamunuan ng NFA upang mabago ang imaheng ito? Tumaas na naman ang presyo ng bigas at taliwas ito sa sinasabi ng Department of Agriculture na walang krisis? Bakit daw tumaas? Dahil ba sa bagyo? Dahil ba nasa pagitan tayo ng pag-ani na magsisimulang dumagsa sa Setyembre? Na-project ba ng DA na magkakaganito ang galaw ng bigas sa merkado? Bakit hindi agad naagapan bago pa man umalagwa ang presyo? O baka may mga grupo na sinadyang magkaroon ng artificial shortage upang payagan silang umangkat ng bigas sa ibang bansa? O kung hindi man umangkat ay sila ang maglalabas ng bigas na binili nila ng maramihan noong dagsa ito at mura kung pakyawin sa mga magsasaka?

Sa ngayon na mahal ang bigas ay mahal din ang buying price ng palay. Umakyat ito sa P18.50 per kilo. At umaasa ang maraming magsasaka na sana ay mapanatili ang buying price na ito ng NFA para naman gumanda ang kanilang kita. Pero andun din ang kaba na kapag dumating na ang harvest season o panahon ng anihan sa maraming lugar sa bansa ay baka bumagsak na naman ang buying price. Sino ang magpuprotekta sa ating mga magsasaka? Kanino sila hihiling ng magandang presyo upang maengganyo silang muling magtanim sa susunod na cropping season? Ang kawalang-kasiguraduhan sa kita sa pagsasaka ba ang isang dahilan kaya wala nang gustong maging magsasaka ng palay sa panahong ito? Baka isang araw ay magising na lang tayo na wala na talagang gustong lumusong sa bukid? Balota at bigas Kaya bang magpatupad ng pamahalaan ng production programming o pagtatalaga ng panahon kung kailan dapat magtanim ang isang probinsiya o rehiyon upang hindi magkasabay-sabay ang ani ng sa ganun ay hindi bumagsak ang presyo kapag madami ang supply? Baka naman hindi problema ang supply, at ang problema ay ang buying price. Kumbaga, ang NFA ang magtatakda ng minimum buying price na hindi lugi ang farmers at ito ang susundin ng mga pribadong mamimili. At pwedeng magbenta ang magsasaka sa kahit anong panahon sa presyong hindi bababa sa minimum. Ang tanong, meron bang sapat na police powers at political will ang gobyerno upang maipatupad ito? Meron bang hotline ang gobyerno na pwedeng paratingan ng report ng hindi pagtupad sa buying price? At kaya ba ng gobyerno na rumesponde agad-agad? Marahil yan ang gobyernong inaasahan ng lahat. Ang gobyernong kagyat na tumutugon kung may panawagan ang mamamayan. Isang gobyernong ang motto ay aksyon ngayon at hindi mamaya. Isang gobyernong sensitibo sa hinaing ng ordinaryong mamamayan sa mga isyung kasing simple pero kasing halaga ng presyo ng bigas. Ang bigas ay isang political commodity. Natatandaan ng tao kung kailan at kung sino ang nakapwesto sa gobyerno noong panahong tumataas ang presyo ng bigas. Isa itong basic need na malaki ang epekto sa family budget sa sandaling magkaroon ng paggalaw ng presyo sa merkado. Kung kailangan mong bumili ng bigas araw-araw, araw-araw ka ding magtatanong kung bakit ba nagmamahal ito at sino ang dapat managot dito? Kwidaw, baka bumawi sa balota ang mga kinukulang sa bigas. Pero meron pa ding isang dimensyon o anggulo ang krisis na ito. Ito ay ang krisis ng pagkonsumo. Sinasabi ng mga eksperto na kung marunong lang tayong maging masinop sa pagsasaing at pagkain ng bigas ay bilyong piso din ang ating matitipid bilang bansa. Ibig sabihin, hindi na natin kailangang mag-importa pa kung hindi tayo maaksaya.

Lagi nating binabanggit na sa mga fast food center at maging sa mga fine dining, iisa ang mapapansin natin, ang dami laging natitirang kanin sa mesa. Baka naman maisipan ng ating mga fast-food chain na may rice sa kanilang menu na maging bahagi ng kanilang corporate social responsibility ang kampanya sa pagiging masinop sa kanin. Baka may maiisip silang gimik na incentive sa hindi maaksyang customer. Ilan nga ba sa atin ang kung kumain ay talagang clean plate o malinis ang plato? Saan mapupunta ang mga kanin na inihain, nabawasan pero hindi naubos? Mabuti kung lahat nakakaisip na gawin itong sinangag o congee para muling pakinabangan. Kung maiintindihan lang ng ating mga kababayan ang hirap na dinaranas ng ating mga magsasaka bago maging kanin ang inihahain sa atin sa araw-araw baka may mag-uugat na malasakit sa bawat isa sa atin? Kung wala tayong respeto sa kanin ibig sabihin ba ay wala din tayong pakialam sa magsasaka? Ang pagiging maaksaya, sa aking palagay, ay kakulangan din ng sensitivity sa pangangailangan at kakapusan ng iba. Hindi pa nga ba tayo buo bilang isang lipunan na may malasakit sa kapwa? Baka naman ang krisis na ito ang magmumulat sa ating mata upang pahalagahan ang bigas bilang staple food nating mga Pilipino? Kung nakakapagsalita lang ang bigas, baka yan ang din ang kanyang tanong. (Email:‐kung‐nakakapagsalita‐lang‐ang‐bigas     

DA sabit na naman sa PDAF scam Published : Friday, September 20, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 95

ANUMANG araw ngayon ay malamang ipapatawag ng Senado ang ilang opisyal ng National Agricultural and Fisheries Council (NAFC), isang government owned and controlled corporation na nasa ilalim ng Department of Agriculture (DA), para magpaliwanag kung bakit ibinigay ng naturang ahensiya ang P115 million priority development assistance fund (PDAF) sa mga bogus na ahensiya na naman ni Janet Lim Napoles nito lamang 2012. Base sa dokumento ng Commission on Audit (COA), P115 million ang ibinigay ng NAFC sa ilang pekeng kumpanya ni Napoles para sa soft projects at panahon na ni Sec. Proceso Alcala sa ilalim ng administrasyon na ni PNoy nitong 2012 lamang. Pero di pa tinutukoy ng naturang report kung kaninong mga pork barrel galing ang pondo at kung sasabit ba si Alcala sa bagong scam na ito o hanggang sa executive director lang nito na si Ariel Cayanan. Nagtataka lang ang COA kung bakit madaming pekeng NGOs ang nabibiyayaan ng pera ng bayan sa DA at tila hindi alam ni Alcala. Ito na ang ikalawang pagkakataon na sabit ang DA sa scam sa ilalim na ni Sec. Alcala. Noong nakaraang buwan lamang ay sinibak ni Alcala ang isa niyang assistant secretary dahil sa hindi pagberipika ng mga NGO ni Napoles na nabahaginan sa P10 billion pork barrel ng ilang senador st kongresman. At tanong ngayon, sisibakin niya na naman ba ang executive director ng NAFC dahil sa kapabayaan? Pero ’di ba may tinatawag na command responsibility o managerial responsibility na kapag

palpak ang tao mo ay may kasalanan ka rin? Panahon na para isama si Alcala sa PDAF scam inquiry na yan at mga tao niyang tanga o napagutusan lang ay sibakin agad. Kung ako kay Alcala ay mag-leave muna ako dahil puro sabit ang ahensiyang pinamumunuan niya at hayaan ang isang ahensiya na mag-imbestiga kung wala siyang kinalaman sa issue. Naku bossing Alcala... siguro uwi ka muna ng Quezon kasi daming problema sabit kayo ’di lang sa PDAF ngayon kundi sa importasyon din ng sibuyas at bigas. Napaghandaan niyo na rin ba ang mga kasong isinampa ng iba’t ibang grupo laban sa inyo sa Ombudsman at Justice Department noong nakaraang buwan lang??? *** DALAWANG LADY OFFICIALS DI NATINAG SA PUTUKAN SA ZAMBOANGA Muli na namang nasubukan ang tapang at galing ng kawal at pulis ng Pilipinas sa giyera sa Zamboanga City. Pero hindi lamang ang mga sundalo at pulis ang nakitaan ng tapang sa gitna ng bakbakan pati na rin ang ilang opisyales natin lalo na itong dalawang kababaihan na hindi inalintana ang mga bala ng kalaban. Unang araw pa lang ng bakbakan sa pagitan ng MNLF rebels at tropa ng pamahalaan, hindi nagpapigil si Zamboanga City Mayor Isabelle Climaco na magtungo sa city hall na target kubkubin ng mga kalaban. Bagama’t nagliliparan ang bala sa labas ng city hall dahil malapit ito sa frontline, patuloy ang pagpupulong ni Climaco sa kanyang konseho, mga negosyante at mga opisyal ng militar at pulis sa nasabing gusali.Ipinamalas ni Mayor Climaco na ang bayan muna bago ang sarili niya ang dapat isalba. Hindi rin nagpaawat si Social Welfare Sec. Dinky Soliman na lumipad papuntang Zamboanga sa ikalawang araw pa lang ng giyera. Personal na pinangasiwaan ni Soliman ang matutulugan at makakain ng evacuees doon. Dinig at ramdam din ng naturang kalihim ang dagundong ng mga kanyon at mortar ng tropa ng gobyerno at kalaban pero sige lang ito sa pag-asikaso sa mga biktima ng giyera sa evacuation centers nang aking maispatan siya.Nang tanungin ko si Soliman at Climaco kung hindi sila natatakot, ang tanging tugon lang nila, “kailangan nila kami ngayon.” Mabuhay po kayo mga maaam at ingat po.‐da‐sabit‐na‐naman‐sa‐pdaf‐scam   

May naghahangad sa puwesto ni Alcala! Published : Friday, September 20, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 126

NABASA ko ang statement ng Transparency International, anticorruption watchdog na nakabase sa bansang Berlin. Kinatigan nila ang ginawang privilege speech ni Senator Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III kamakailan nang ihayag na hindi na niya kukunin ang P100 million pork barrel at sa halip ay ibigay na lamang ito sa mga probinsiya sa hospital at karagdagang pondo ng University of the Philippines para sa mga iskolar ng bayan. May punto ang Transparency International. Nabubukod tangi lamang kasi si Sotto sa hayagang nagsalita na kasabay ng pagtutol sa paggamit ng kanyang ‘pork barrel’ ay ilipat na lamang ang pondo nito sa mga institusyong higit na nangangailangan ng pondo. Kung nanamnamin, puro salita lamang ang ginagawa ng ating mga mambabatas sa pagsasabing tutol na sila sa ‘pork,’ pero para direktang tukuyin kung saan dapat ilaan ang pondo ay hilaw na hilaw. ’Ika nga, ginagawa lamang ito ng ilang mambabatas para lamang mapahinuha ang galit ng taumbayan dahil sa kontrobersiya ng malalang ‘nakawan’ sa pork barrel. Sa kabilang dako, pabor din ako sa panawagan ni Senator JV Ejercito-Estrada sa pagsasabing hindi dapat itigil ang ginagawang pagdinig ng Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. Matapos kasing sampahan na ng kasong pandarambong sina Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Bong Revilla at Jinggoy Estrada sa Ombudsman, biglang-biglang ipapatigil ang ginagawang imbestigasyon sa Senado. Lilinawin ko, ang isyu kay pork barrel queen Janet Lim-Napoles ay ilan lamang sa dapat hubaran ng maskara. Kapag itinigil ang imbestigasyon, ibig sabihin, may mga senador pang sasabit sa

hinaharap na pilit pinagtatakpan ngayon ng Aquino administration. *** Hanggang ngayon, binibitin ng tanggapan ni Executive Secretary Paquino ‘Jojo’ Ochoa ang ‘appointment’ ni dating Senador Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson. Kahit saang anggulo tingnan, hindi maiwasang mukhang may mga taga-Malakanyang ang natatakot bigyan ng puwesto si Lacson kasi sigurado tayong walang sasantuhin ang dating pinuno ng Philippine National Police. Samantala, habang nakabitin naman ang ‘appointment’ ni Lacson, kabi-kabila naman ang pambabatiryang ginagawa ngayon laban kay Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala. Ayon sa kanyang kritiko na halatang may ‘hidden agenda,’ kailangan nang sibakin si Alcala kasi hindi raw nito masugpo ang sinasabing krisis sa bigas. Anak ng pusa... kuting! Ang pagsibak ba kay Alcala ang sagot para mapababa ang presyo ng bigas? Eh bakit si Energy Sec. Jericho Petilla, hindi n’yo ipasibak dahil sa patuloy na pagtaas ng presyo ng langis? Bilang simpleng mamamahayag na may kaalaman ng kaunti sa pang-agraryo, naniniwala ako na tumataas ang presyo ng bigas tuwing sasapit ang anihan. Antayin na lang natin sa mga susunod na araw dahil panahon na ng anihan kaya sigurado tayong bababa na ang presyo ng bigas sa merkado. Galit na galit ang mga smuggler kay Alcala kasi ayaw na nito ng ‘rice importation.’ Dahil dito, pilit nilang dini-discredit ang katauhan ni Alcala dahil hindi na nakalulusot ngayon ang plano nilang pag-smuggle ng bigas mula Vietnam at Thailand. Lilinawin ko, dalawang barko na punung-puno ng mga bigas na smuggled ang nakadaong ngayon sa Manila Bay na pilit ipinupuslit papasok ng bansa dahil mga smuggler ang makikinabang dito. Dahil desidido si Alcala na tablahin ang kanilang sindikato, pilit nilang ini-operate ito para maalis sa puwesto. Samantalang, isang politiko naman ang atat na atat ding kunin ang kanyang puwesto na sigurado akong ‘protektor’ ng mga smuggler. *** Attention Sr. Supt. Deocares Fidel, tuloy daw ang STL con jueteng sa Tanauan City, San Jose, San Juan, Alitagtag, Cuenca, Rosario, Ibaan, San Pascual, Malvar, Sto. Tomas, Calaca, Nasugbu, Taysan, Mataas na Kahoy at Mabini, Batangas.

Ang pagkakaalam ko, matindi ang bilin ni DILG Sec. Mar Roxas laban sa illegal gambling pero mukhang iba ang impluwensiya ng P4.5 million na koleksiyon ng jueteng dito araw-araw. Labas pa rito ang video-karera operation nina Celo at Teddy sa bayan ng San Jose; Uping sa Tanauan City Resty at Estacion sa bayan ng Lian. Ang STL bookies/jueteng operators ay sina Morcilla ng Malvar, Konsehal Clint ng Taysan, Kap Randy at Mayor ng Mataas na Kahoy, Villanueva ng Mabini, Kap Jojo, Lito at Alex ng Sto. Tomas, Richard ng Poblacion Talisay, Kap Peping ng Calaca at Chuidian at Caraig sa Nasugbu. Sa lungsod ng Maynila naman ay tuloy ang tupada nina Jess Taga sa Vitas, Tondo at Randy Sy sa Pacheco, Tondo, samantalang sa Las Piñas City na pinamunuan ng kaibigan kong si Sr. Supt. Boyet Samala ay tuloy din daw ang operasyon ng video-karera na pinamumunuan ni Duleng. Dahil ba busy si Sec. Mar sa Zamboanga City kaya talamak na naman ang illegal gambling sa bansa?‐may‐naghahangad‐sa‐puwesto‐ni‐alcala                             

What the heck is ‘MOLSO’ rice? By Alvin Capino | Posted 14 hours ago | 558 views  3 

What has happened in the Zamboanga City crisis, where a group of heavily armed Moro National Liberation Front fighters identified with MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari have occupied barangays and taken hostages, has served to confirm what a wise man once said that anything can be done so long as the people involved do not mind who get the credit. We believe that the reason the ceasefire brokered by Vice President Jejomar Binay did not hold is that there are people, particularly those who are supposed to be in charge of resolving the Zamboanga crisis, could not accept the fact that Binay is the one who was able to find a solution. Blinded by their 2016 ambitions, these officials could not accept their failure and Binay’s success in opening the line of communications with the Misuari group. Their desire to get the credit made them forget the sufferings that the people of Zamboanga had to undergo, not to mention the heavy economic cost of the prolonged conflict that could have been settled days ago. It is clear that Misuari has chosen to talk to Binay because he trusts Binay whom he has known since his college days at the University of the Philippines. Understandably, Misuari found it difficult to talk to those in charge of finding a solution to the crisis by the government because of the harsh words they have publicly said against Misuari and his people. It is also clear that President Benigno Aquino III and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin were briefed and informed by Binay every step of the way during his talks with Misuari and his representative. It is thus wrong to say that Binay was not authorized and did everything on his own. A ceasefire would have prevented the loss of lives and the destruction of property. It would have minimized the hardships of the evacuees. Binay could have done it—but those with 2016 presidential ambitions just couldn’t accept that Binay could succeed where they have failed. *** “What the heck is MOLSO rice?” This is a question many people are asking nowadays as Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and his former congressional chief of staff whom he has appointed as National Food Administrator, Orlando Calayag, scramble to explain

the scandalous overprice by as much as half-a-billion pesos of imported rice from Vietnam. Alcala and Calayag have other things to explain like how Alcala used his pork barrel when he was still a congressman as well as the details of how Alcala used the P199.4 million of congressional pork barrel coursed through the Department of Agriculture during his watch, the bulk of which went to NGOs and so-called People’s Organizations. But that is another story. Let’s go back to MOLSO which the DA and the NFA are using to justify the Vietnam rice import overprice hoping that the public will be confused by their gobbledygook. Lawyer Argee Guevarra has exposed what he said is the anomalous purchase by the NFA of 205,700 metric tons of rice from Vietnam last April. The Vietnam rice was imported under More Or Less at Supplier’s Option or MOLSO at $459 or P19,762.95 per metric ton. The importation is questionable from the start since it had no prior approval from the Department of Finance. From the pricing alone it is apparent that the import cost of the Vietnam rice was bloated. The prevailing price when the deal was made was only $360 per metric ton or P15,480. The importation was made under a government-to-government contract and under this arrangement, the cost should be lower. In this case, it was higher. The defense offered by DA and NFA to justify the higher cost is that the $360-per-metric-ton price does not include shipping and other extra charges. However, rice importers say that the landed cost of the Vietnamese rice including handling and delivery charges should only be around $409—which means that some people might have struck it rich with a $50 (or P2,100) overprice per ton. If you consider the fact that 205,700 metric tons were imported and if you multiply this by $50 per metric tons, then the overprice is more than P400 million, clearly a plunderous amount. Guevarra said he is willing to have a more liberal view of things and he would allow the NFA to factor the cost of freight as well as the handling of the imported rice to NFA warehouses. But even when these costs are used in the computation, there will still be an overprice of $36.74 per metric ton. The bad news for consumers is that the NFA is reportedly considering the importation of 700,000 metric tons of rice from Vietnam this November under a similar government-togovernment contract. The new importation will accordingly be sold as MOLSO rice—More or Less Still Overpriced.‐the‐heck‐is‐molso‐rice/   

Solons seek clear picture of rice situation by Ben Rosario  September 20, 2013  

Manila, Philippines – Administration congressmen yesterday called on Malacañang to direct Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to give the public a clear and true picture of the country’s rice self-sufficiency situation. Magdalo Party-list Reps. Gary Alejano and Francisco Ashley Alejano aired the appeal as they charged that the Department of Agriculture had “strayed from reason and good sense” in insisting on its “flawed version of rice self-sufficiency.” Former Rep. Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis Partylist, meanwhile, asked government to counter the unabated hike in rice prices by selling newly delivered rice from Vietnam at “break-even prices.” Mariano said government should give up profit in the sale of 205,700 metric tons of Vietnamese rice bought at just P19 per kilo under a tax expenditure subsidy program. “It would best to dispose of the rice to the public at P20 to P21 instead of P25 per kilo,” said Mariano as he pointed out that government-to-government rice transaction between the two countries must preclude profits. Congressmen Alejano and Acedillo urged National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director General Arsenio Balisacan and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima to “revisit” plans and programs laid out at the beginning of President Benigno Aquino III’s administration, “to see for themselves how Alcala’s interpretation of rice self-sufficiency is totally inconsistent with the country’s food security roadmap, and has resulted in higher rice costs and inadequate rice supplies.” Secretary Alcala has been claiming that the much-vaunted rice self-sufficiency program will be realized by the end of 2013 but the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) rejected this claim based on its own figures. “Perhaps it is time they (Balisacan and Purisima) spoke up and intervened, especially since Alcala’s maverick policies imperil both the country’s food security as well as the economic gains of this current administration,” Alejano said. During the ongoing joint inquiry of the House Committee on Agriculture and the Special Committee on Food Security on the country’s rice situation, BAS Director Romeo Recide reported that based on optimistic projections, rice production in the country would reach only 18.45 million metric tons in 2013. This is short by 2.55 million MT of the 21 million tons required for the country to be rice self-sufficient. The House has conducted the inquiry following reports that rice shortage in the country has triggered a sharp rice in rice prices.

NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag admitted that private sector importation has gone down to 3% of this year’s total imports from last year’s 76% — from 380,000 MT out of 500,000 MT total imports; in 2013 to 7,000 MT out of 212,700 MT total this year. NFA imports, on the other hand, have nearly doubled, from 120,000 MT in 2012 to 205,700 MT this year. Isabela Palay Harvested Meanwhile, at least 167,700 metric tons (MT) of palay, nearly two-thirds of the total expected harvest of Region 2 (Cagayan Valley), will be harvested this month. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said Isabela farmers are expected to harvest a total of 264,700 MT of palay until October. In 2012, Isabela province produced a total of 1.22 million metric tons (MMT) of palay from 283,150 hectares, placing second behind Nueva Ecija (1.59 MMT). Alcala visited Isabela last week to oversee the ongoing harvest in the province. He assured Isabela farmers and local government officials of continued support to modernize their farming operations, including the provision of post-harvest machinery like combine harvesters and rice processing facilities. National Food Authority Administrator (NFA) Orlan Calayag said NFA buying stations in the towns of Alicia and Ramon in Isabela are ready to buy palay at a maximum price of P17 per kilo. (With a report from Ellalyn B. De Vera)‐seek‐clear‐picture‐of‐rice‐situation/                       

156‐MT rice readied for Dubai by Malou M. Mozo  September 19, 2013  

CEBU CITY, Cebu — The Philippines is expected to carve a name in the global rice map with the exportation of hybrid rice to a French retailer based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. SL Agritech Corp. (SLAC), which produces Doña Maria Jasponica and Miponica brown and white rice, said it is all set to ship 156 metric tons (MT) of rice this October through, Carrefour S.A., the French multinational retailer which is one of the largest hypermarket chains in the world. SLAC will also export another 19.5 MT of Doña Maria in another shipment to Los Angeles, California also next month. Carrefour, which is also known to be the world’s second largest retail group in terms of revenue, the second in terms of profits next to Wal Mart, is the largest retail group in Europe. According to SLAC, the price is expected to be attractive for the country’s total foreign exchange receipt and for farmers tilling the hybrid rice. Said price is set at $1,250 per MT. Price of regular milled rice hovers at just $500 to $550 per MT in the international market. “The DA (Department of Agriculture) will not allow you to export at less than $1,000 per ton. DA provided for us the opportunity to export rice when we shipped to Dubai the first time last May,” said SLAC Chairman Henry Lim Bon Liong. The shipment through Carrefour involves eight containers of around 20 MT per container. “At this rate of 160 MT per month for Dubai alone, yearly shipment could reach to 1,920 MT,” said Liong. He said that if this volume of export becomes consistent, it will be more than enough for the Philippines to hit DA’s earlier export target of 200 MT by 2014. “We hope to further increase the export volume for the Dubai and US markets,” he said. “This is just for market penetration (in Dubai),” said Donna T. Lim, SLAC assistant vice president-supply chain.The company has come up with a package a bit different for the Dubai market to attract Filipinos to patronize local farmers’ produce. “Fifty percent of the Dubai population is Filipino and they’re eating rice that is imported from Thailand. We did a little twist on our packaging to ask them to support Filipino rice so that they can help the Filipino rice farmers,” said Lim.‐mt‐rice‐readied‐for‐dubai/ 

P355M expected from rice auction by Mars W. Mosqueda Jr.  September 19, 2013  

CEBU CITY, Cebu – The Cebu Customs Bureau yesterday conducted the second auction of seized smuggled rice and is expected to earn an additional P355 million for the agency. Cebu Customs District Collector Edward de la Cuesta was confident that said second rice auction will put an additional P320 million into coffers of the government. The auction was still ongoing as of press time yesterday. At least 46 bidders from around the country, mostly rice traders, were in Cebu to participate in yesterday’s auction. Dela Cuesta said yesterday’s bidding will be the last for the 1,169 cargo containers of rice that were seized by the Port of Cebu early this year. The smuggled rice bidding last May, July and August were successful as indicated by the average price of P1,560 for each bag sold by Customs, which was more than the P1,300 floor price per bag recommended by the National Food Authority.

Stable prices assured for bread, flour‐ based products by Bernie Magkilat  September 19, 2013  

Consumers are assured of stable prices of bread and other flour-based products at least until Christmas time as the Tariff Commission is expected to issue a decision on the anti-dumping petition filed by domestic flour millers against flour imports from Turkey, the country’s source of the most affordable flour in the world today, end this year yet. Ernesto Chua, president of the largest Turkish flour trader Malabon Long Life and president of the Philippines-Turkey Business Council, told reporters after getting a copy of the decision of Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala dated September 4, 2013 heeding a call by local bakers’ group Filipino-Chinese Bakers Association Inc. (FCBAI) to inhibit himself from the flour millers’ anti-dumping petition because of alleged premature pronouncements favoring the petitioner, Philippine Association of Flour Millers (Pafmil). “It is therefore prayed that the case carpeta be forwarded to the Tariff Commission,” Alcala said in his order citing the FCBAI’s petition asking him to inhibit “from further investigating and evaluating the above mentioned case because of alleged premature announcement to the media.” Since the case has been forwarded for resolution to the Tariff Commission, Chua said that DA can no longer impose a provisional tariff. Instead, the Commission will have 120 days to resolve the issue which could happen in the latter part of the year. This development has created a status quo situation as Turkish flour importers can continue their importation of the cheaper-priced flour from Turkey thereby ensuring a predictable price situation for bakers and consumers until end of the year. “This is good because we can continue importing cheaper flour that should provide the much needed supply and price stability which is very critical during the Christmas season,” Chua said. Imported Turkish flour is being sold for P600 per 25 kilogram bag as against the locally-milled flour, which is sold for over v800 per bag. “We are also happy that the Tariff Commission will have enough time to conduct thorough investigation unlike when the case is heard under the DA when they have only 30 days to decide and come up with a provisional anti-dumping duty. This is also good for our bakers and consumers who are assured of stable supply and prices especially for the high demand Christmas season,” he said. Chua also labeled as untrue the presentation by PAFMIL during the Commission’s public hearing that if the Turkish flour will continue to enter the country at the current price they would

be out of business because their capacity utilization would be down to a mere 4 percent in four years’ time. Chua explained that the local flour market is 65 percent hard flour (for bread making) and the remaining 35 percent is soft flour (noodles, low-end biscuits). The local flour millers are lording it over in the hard flour market with only 2 percent imports coming from Indonesia and other sources as this kind of flour is used for high-end bakery products. It is only in the soft flour market that Turkish flour is having some presence of about 24 percent. “Assuming we get 100 percent market share of the soft flour market, the local millers will still have a substantial 35 percent market share in the entire flour industry in the country,” Chua pointed out.

Life’s not fair: ‘Kangkong’ seeds for P10M pork By Redempto Anda  Inquirer Southern Luzon   2:24 am | Friday, September 20th, 2013  

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—One of the dummy nongovernment organizations (NGOs) linked to businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles siphoned off some P10 million from the Malampaya Fund to supposed beneficiaries in Roxas town in northern Palawan province but delivered only kangkong (water spinach) seeds, according to the municipal agriculture officer. “All we got were worthless kangkong seeds we don’t even need,” Edgar Padul, who heads the municipal agriculture office, told the Inquirer on Thursday. The Malampaya Fund represents royalties that the national government collects from the Malampaya gas project in Palawan. Managed by the Department of Finance, it is primarily meant for energy-related projects, but it could also be used for other purposes approved by the President, including assistance to agrarian reform beneficiaries. The municipal agriculture office of Roxas was listed as a beneficiary of Karangyaan Para sa Magsasaka Foundation, one of Napoles’ dummy NGOs which received the fund. “I never heard of that NGO and had not seen any project document or memorandum of agreement covering that fund,” Padul said. Collusion? Hinting of a collusion between local government officials and the NGO of Napoles, Padul called for an independent investigation of how the P10 million allocated to the municipality was spent.

He said he was compelled to speak out because farmers from Roxas had begun asking him how the amount was spent. “I serve three churches every Sunday and I don’t want my name tarnished. Even my own mother confronted me about it. It’s better that they conduct an audit of that fund,” Padul said on the phone on Thursday. “We are being dragged into this mess when we have nothing to do with it,” he said. Padul said the municipality conducted a bidding in 2010 for the purchase of P10 million worth of seeds despite his department’s objection and the nonparticipation of his office as the mandated agency to implement agriculture-related projects in Roxas. “I was not involved. My office was not involved in that project. They (municipality) did not want us to participate in that project,” he said.    

Vegetable seeds He said he first learned about the P10-million fund when it was mentioned to him by then Roxas Mayor Dennis Sabando sometime in 2010. “I thought he (Mayor Sabando) was just kidding me that we were going to receive P10 million to buy vegetable seeds,” he said. He recalled that during one of the meetings about the project headed by the municipal planning officer, he objected to the money being used for seeds, “but they did not want to involve us.” In a separate interview conducted by Radio Mindanao Network-Palawan, municipal treasurer Elsa Pedres said the money was downloaded to the municipal government’s bank account in 2010. No Alvarez pork However, she could not recall if it came from the Department of Agriculture or was part of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel, of then first district Rep. Antonio Alvarez. The former aide of Alvarez claimed none of his PDAF was spent on a P10-million seed fund in Roxas. “We were also not aware such a project existed,” lawyer Jeff Sahagun, former chief of staff of Alvarez, told the Inquirer.

Alvarez has been replaced by his son, Franz, as representative of the district. Antonio is also the brother of incumbent Palawan Gov. Jose Alvarez. Pedres said that as treasurer of the municipality, she was not asked to make a report on how the money was spent. “I don’t know about the accounting office if they were made to write a report, but in my case I was not asked to do a report,” she said. Incumbent Roxas Vice Mayor Alfredo Enojas Jr. said in a separate radio interview that the municipal council would soon hold an inquiry into the funds in its regular session.   Read more:‐not‐fair‐kangkong‐seeds‐for‐p10m‐ pork#ixzz2fP9pTFRs    

Abad rebuts Marcos Jr.’s forgery tale of P100M pork By Gil C. Cabacungan  Philippine Daily Inquirer   12:27 am | Friday, September 20th, 2013  


Senator Ferdinand “Bong-bong” Marcos Jr. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO Contrary to his claims that his signature was forged, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had written letters to then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) specifically endorsing a Janet Lim-Napoles agency to implement a P100million livelihood project, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said Thursday. The amount was part of a P475-million facility the DBM had extended to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to bankroll livelihood projects of local government units (LGUs) in 2011 as lump sum allocations for six senators. However, the DAR, burned by the alleged misuse of P900 million from the Malampaya Fund in 2009, refused to have anything to do with the money, the Inquirer has learned. A DAR official, who requested anonymity, said the department did not want to be used as a “clearinghouse” following the 2009 shenanigans. Marcos last week claimed that his signature was forged to facilitate the release of his P100million share to the nongovernment organizations (NGOs) controlled by Napoles—Agricultura para sa Magbubukid Inc. and Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc.—with the National Livelihood Development Corp. (NLDC) as the implementing agency in March 16 last year.

The namesake son of the late dictator said that his funds were sourced from the DBM’s disbursement acceleration program (DAP), which the DAR official claimed was the source of the P475-million facility. Other senators supposedly sharing the fund were Jinggoy Estrada (P100 million), Ramon Revilla Jr. (P100 million), Vicente Sotto III (P70 million), Juan Ponce Enrile (P55 million) and Loren Legarda (P50 million). Abad refuted Marcos’ claims that his signature was faked. He insisted that Marcos sought the funding and even requested for a switch in implementing agency. Abad stressed that the legislators and not the DBM normally determined the implementing agency “as well as the purpose for the request of funds.” “That’s the senator’s contention but that’s not what our records show,” Abad said of the Marcos allegation. “He wrote Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile through Sen. Franklin Drilon on Nov. 23, 2011, requesting an endorsement of his request. Then he wrote the DBM on Feb. 8, 2012, requesting that the implementing agency be changed from DAR to NLDC,” said Abad in a text message. Abad also clarified Marcos’ assertion that the P100 million given to him was from DAP. “This is not a fund. It’s a measure we adopt to accelerate budget execution. Allotments not used—such as items not filled, decrease in interest payments, procurements deferred—with the President’s approval, are realigned to fast moving projects (such as the Department of Public Works and Highways infrastructure projects) or those urgently required (such as the rehabilitation of areas damaged by Typhoon “Pablo”) or those that need augmentation (such as hiring additional policemen) or request from officials due to urgent needs in their constituencies. The latter represents a small portion of the DAP and that is where Senator Marcos’ request to assist displaced/marginal family constituents was funded from,” Abad said. Abad denied that the P475 million given to the DAR had any strings attached. However, he did not comment on the nature of the P475-million fund which the DAR did not request. Corona affair payoff nixed The DAR official claimed that the P475 million was meant as an inducement for senators to side with the government in the impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Renato Corona, who was impeached by the House of Representatives in December 2011. But Abad vehemently rejected this allegation, claiming this was “illogical” considering that Marcos voted against impeachment in the Senate vote that found Corona guilty of fudging his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth. Based on documents obtained by the Inquirer, the DBM released six special allotment release orders (Saros)—from E-11-01881 to E-11-01886 on Dec. 6, 2011—to the agrarian reform

secretary for the “requirements of the program beneficiaries development component of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.” The six Saros were divided in the following amounts—P100 million (for three Saros), P70 million, P55 million and P50 million. Attached with the six Saros were the NCAs, or notice of cash allocations, (depositing the funds at the Land Bank of the Philippines, Quezon Circle branch) issued on the same date “to cover for the requirements of the livelihood projects in various local government units with existing agrarian reform communities in support to farmer beneficiaries.” ‘Undue haste’ A DAR source noted the undue haste in releasing the funds as NCAs were normally issued months after Saros had been distributed. Both Saros and NCAs were signed by Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos who noted that the “release is in accordance with the OP (Office of the President) approval dated Oct. 12, 2011.” The DAR source said the agency’s officials were not keen on taking a generous amount of fund on top of their regular allocation which they did not even request. The source said the agency’s officials had already been alarmed by the DAR’s involvement in the P900-million Malampaya Fund scam, especially after receiving in June 2011 a memorandum from the Commission on Audit ordering a special audit on the P23.6-billion government share in the operation of gas field off Palawan province released by the DBM directly to the agencies under the Arroyo administration. On March 15, 2012, the DBM issued a “negative” Saro for the fund signifying the DAR’s refusal to handle the money.   Read more:‐rebuts‐marcos‐jr‐s‐forgery‐tale‐of‐p100m‐ pork#ixzz2fPEXXMYi                    

Bataan Napoles project backed by 3 senators By Robert Gonzaga  Inquirer Central Luzon   11:30 pm | Thursday, September 19th, 2013  


Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, Sen Jinggoy Estrada and Sen. Loren Legarda DINALUPIHAN, Bataan—Farmers and village officials here said the liquid fertilizers and plastic sprayers delivered to them by a nongovernment organization (NGO) identified with alleged pork scam queen Janet Lim-Napoles and bought with public funds credited as pork barrel of three senators were unusable, calling the project “a waste of money.” Fernando Paule Jr., a farmer and village chief of Sta. Isabel here, said the liquid fertilizers were “so [low grade] that farmers were not able to use them.” Paule said farmers, who used the fertilizer, had told him that it had no impact on the quality and growth of their crops. “It’s just a waste of money,” he said. He said they compared prices from different agricultural supply stores and found that the items given to them were worth only P1,000 each, although documents showed that these cost the government from P20,000 to P35,000 each or more expensive by P19,000 to P34,000 each. Rolando Romano, village chair of Pita, said while the liquid fertilizers were useless, they were able to use some of the plastic sprayers. “But some of them were also defective,” he said.

He said he heard this same complaint from more than 200 farmers in Dinalupihan who received the items in 2012. Former Mayor Joel Payumo acknowledged that Dinalupihan received funds from an NGO linked to Napoles but he said the local government was not part of the scam. “We were just the end user, and there were deliveries made to us,” Payumo said. He said the People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation Inc. (POPDFI), headed by whistle-blower Merlina Suñas, delivered to the town “organic agrarian implement packages” each worth P36,450, “high-value yield enhancement packages” each costing P20,500, and farm inputs and implements worth P20,500 per package. The Commission on Audit (COA) said a review of the fund transferred to POPDFI, amounting to P38 million from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Loren Legarda and Jinggoy Estrada, showed that the Dinalupihan government had “failed to submit the necessary supporting documents needed upon the release, implementation and liquidation of funds as required by the COA.” It said there was “no final utilization report, no liquidation report, no warranty for procurement of farm supplies.” But Payumo said: “How can that be? The COA was there during the distribution, and they inspected it before it was given to the beneficiaries. We have all the necessary documents to account for everything.” Saro offered Asked how he was able to get funds through the senators, Payumo said representatives from POPDFI went to Dinalupihan and informed the local government it had a Special Allotment

Release Order (Saro) from a senator intended for the town. Saro is a document from the Department of Budget and Management signifying the availability of funds for a project.    

“We have been writing senators and implementing agencies for [funds and projects] in Dinalupihan, just like any other local government would do. When they come, and tell you that, of course, you don’t ask if they are bogus or not. You don’t question it,” he said. Payumo said principal whistle-blower Benhur Luy and Suñas went to Dinalupihan to deliver the items. He said he agreed with Luy and Suñas that although the check representing funds for the project would be sent to Dinalupihan, “they would be the ones to implement the project.” “This was stated in the letters to us by the senators themselves,” said Payumo. “If your local government was given these funds, you don’t question why they should be the ones to implement and not us. We don’t bother with that. We are just grateful,” he said. According to Payumo, 70 percent of Dinalupihan is composed of farmland. It is the only inland town in Bataan, “so farm inputs benefit our community.” He said it was Legarda, Estrada and Enrile who designated POPDFI as the project implementer. In a letter on July 18, 2012, Yvonne Geston, chief administrative and finance officer of Legarda’s office, endorsed POPDFI to Payumo as a “conduit project partner,” in order to “expedite the immediate implementation of this project.” Gigi’s letter In a letter on April 19, 2012, lawyer Jessica “Gigi” Reyes, then Enrile’s chief of staff, also endorsed POPDFI. She also informed Payumo that Jose Evangelista II, deputy chief of staff, had

been authorized “to sign the pertinent documents and ensure the proper implementation of these projects.” Payumo said these were not ghost projects. “They delivered … I got beneficiaries from the different villages in Dinalupihan. Before they would make deliveries, I would ask them how many people would be the beneficiaries, and then tell the village chairmen here. Proxies were not allowed, so those who signed the receiving forms were the actual farmers who used them,” he said. Payumo also referred to another network of NGOs, which allegedly benefited from pork barrel allocations. Operated allegedly by a local family, one of whom ran and lost for mayor, this other network of NGOs did not have direct dealings with the Dinalupihan government, he said. “If you check the records of Dinalupihan, you won’t see any projects of [the other NGO network] that went through our office. We were surprised and we didn’t know that they operated NGOs,” he said. PDAF allocations were supposedly coursed through the following NGOs: Kabuhayan at Kalusugan Alay sa Masa Foundation which received P179.74 million; Kasangga sa Magandang Bukas Foundation Inc., which received P56.55 million; and Gabay at Pag-asa ng Masa Foundation, which got P52.87 million. According to the COA special audit report, these three NGOs were part of the 26 NGOs that were granted access to PDAF facilitated by the National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor) from 2007 to 2011. Nabcor officials have been implicated in the plunder charges filed by the Department of Justice in the Office of the Ombudsman on Monday.‐napoles‐project‐backed‐by‐3‐senators#ixzz2fPG99yIY    

Fish cages seen threat to Sual coal power plant By Gabriel Cardinoza  Inquirer Northern Luzon   10:53 pm | Thursday, September 19th, 2013  


BANGUS cages dotting a bay in Pangasinan near the Sual coal-fired power plant, a major supplier of electricity in Luzon and Metro Manila. GABRIEL CARDINOZA/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON SUAL, Pangasinan—Hundreds of fish cages that have sprouted near a coal-fired power plant on Cabalitian Bay here may disrupt the facility and trigger a Luzon-wide blackout. Ruben Licerio, vice president for operations and station manager of the Sual power station (SPS), has asked the local government to move the fish cages to a safer distance. Fish operators began raising bangus (milkfish) cages on the bay in May, many of them 100 meters from the south portion of the plant’s perimeter fence, he said. “The proximity of these new fish cages poses a serious threat to the safe and reliable operation of the power plant,” said Licerio in an Aug. 12 letter to Sual Mayor Roberto Arcinue. Nestor Domenden, Ilocos director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, said the number of cages in the bay has increased from 400 to 778 cages since May.

These are 18-meter diameter circular frames made of polyvinyl chloride pipes. Each cage raises 50,000 bangus fingerlings. “Our personnel have observed that fish feed residues are now appearing in the plant’s water intake area [and this] can disrupt plant operations,” Licerio said. In December 1999, the plant shut down when thousands of jellyfish obstructed its cooling system, plunging Luzon into several hours of darkness. The coal-fired plant, which is owned by Team Energy, a consortium of the Tokyo Electric Corp. and Marubeni Corp., produces 1,200 megawatts of electricity, which represents 22 percent of the total electricity that is distributed each day by the Luzon grid. When Typhoons “Cosme” and “Emong” struck Pangasinan province in 2008 and 2009, respectively, fish that escaped from the damaged cages on Cabalitian Bay were sucked in by the cooling system, forcing the plant to shut down, Licerio said. He also said the cages obstruct the routes of maritime vessels that deliver coal and fuel to the power plant and hamper its safety response protocol in case of emergency. “The close proximity of the cages and their operators poses a security threat to the power plant, which is a vital installation,” Licerio said. Arcinue said he had sent a team to check on Licerio’s complaint. “Some of the fish cage owners are hard-headed. They go near the plant. But we are doing something to keep them at a safe distance,” he said. Based on a directive of the municipal agricultural officer here, the cages should maintain a distance of 400 meters from the plant’s perimeter.   Read more:‐cages‐seen‐threat‐to‐sual‐coal‐power‐ plant#ixzz2fPF3yXNZ   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook     

Mining-tax reforms await Cabinet action Category: Top News Published on Thursday, 19 September 2013 21:27 Written by Butch Fernandez

PROPOSED mining-tax reforms have yet to be “vetted” by the Cabinet before they could be endorsed for congressional enactment, Malacañang said on Wednesday. “There are drafts already of the legislation for the mining tax,” Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang told reporters at a Palace briefing. “So, we expect them to be vetted by the larger economic cluster in the next few weeks.” In a related development, it was revealed that Mindoro is sitting on more than $40 billion worth of nickel that could be produced from the Mindoro Nickel Project, making it potentially the largest nickel producer and the only refined nickel-metal plant in the Philippines. The project straddles the towns of Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, and Victoria, Oriental Mindoro, and has a total of more than 350 million tons of laterite resources defined to date, which hold approximately 3 million tons of nickel, Sven Monrad Jensen, executive vice president of Intex Resources Philippines Inc., said. Carandang sought to allay concerns that the government would likely fall short of its mining investment targets, with a number of projects in the pipeline facing further delays because of the lack of fixed-revenue sharing rates to be spelled out in a new law that Congress must pass first. Carandang, who sits in the meetings of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC), said the remedial legislation has not yet been endorsed to Congress due to ongoing consultations with affected sectors. “We’ve taken into account the stakeholders. There are many stakeholders here— there are mining companies, the industry, there are environmentalists, there are local governments—and we try as much as possible to engage them as we come up with something like this,” Carandang said. He disclosed there has been a lot of back and forth between the MICC and the different stakeholders. “So we are just making sure everyone is consulted and we are already actually writing the legislation—the draft for the legislation.”

Carandang acknowledged that the delay would likely set back the 2016 mining investment targets fixed earlier. “But we would rather get this thing right than hold ourselves to some deadline that may or may not be met. I think, at the end of the day, the industry and even the local governments would rather have something that is acceptable for the most number of people, even if it comes down to not submitting it, say, within the next week or so.” But he kept the door open to readjusting the target if the MICC-endorsed legislation is not passed soon. “There has been no formal discussion about adjusting the targets. But it’s not something that we are closed to. I mean, if it doesn’t look like we’re gonna meet those targets, then we may have to. But there has been no formal discussion about it.” (With Jonathan L. Mayuga)‐news/19657‐mining‐tax‐reforms‐await‐cabinet‐ action                               

Gov't urges public to reduce marine trash  ( | Updated September 19, 2013 ‐ 10:00pm 

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - The government today urged the public to reduce marine trash as the amount being collected by volunteers for the last three years has been sharply increasing. Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said he hoped fewer marine trash could be collected when the country takes part in the world' s biggest cleanup, known as the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day, on Sept. 21. Based on the yearly reports of the Washington-based Ocean Conservancy, Paje said the volume of ocean trash recorded by volunteers from the Philippines has doubled every year during the past three years. The reports stated that in 2010, more than 145,000 Filipino volunteers picked up a total of 240,360 kilograms of trash. In 2011, some 114,418 volunteers recorded 485,091 kilograms, while in 2012, almost 144,000 people retrieved more than 1.3 million kilograms. "As you can see, the number of registered volunteers has more or less remained the same, but the amount of trash they picked up in just one day has doubled alarmingly. It means more trash is making its way into our waters," Paje said. Paje said the objective of celebrating the ICC Day was not to have the most number of volunteers, but to reduce trash in the waters. He urged Filipinos to be mindful of where they throw their trash and not to depend on having others to clean the beaches and waterways. Held on every third Saturday of September, the ICC Day was first celebrated in the United States in 1986. The Philippines has been an active participant in the worldwide event since 1994, consistently ranking second, next only to the United States, in having the most number of volunteers.          

DepEd holds tree‐planting for peace by Ina Hernando Mallipot  September 20, 2013  

Manila, Philippines – Thousands of trees will be planted by public school students and teachers today, as the Department of Education (DepEd) spearheads the “National Tree Planting Day: Education for Peace” celebration. Through DepEd Memo No. 165 series of 2013, Education Secretary Armin Luistro enjoined all public elementary and secondary students, teachers including Alternative Learning System (ALS) mobile teachers, and non-teaching personnel and officials of DepEd at regional and division offices to participate in the one day activity. Luistro said the activity is in line with the goal of Environment Online (ENO), a global virtual school and network for sustainable development. Since its launching in 2000, more than 10,000 schools in 157 countries have joined ENO and have made concrete actions for the environment such as planting trees. This year, the ENO through the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines invited the country to join the “A Global Call to Celebrate UN Peace Day, Now 10th Time.” With theme, “Education for Peace,” the UN aims to examine the role of education in fostering global citizenship. The “National Tree Planting Day: Education for Peace,” Luistro said, is the highlight of this year’s ENO’s celebration. This activity, he added, is also in support to the Executive Order No. 26 or National Greening Program (NGP).‐holds‐tree‐planting‐for‐peace/                   

Senators’ emerging alibi for pork scam: Dumbness GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 20, 2013 ‐ 12:00am   3  208 googleplus0  3  

Transportation Sec. Joseph Augustus Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya has just returned from the APEC Transport Ministers’ Meeting in Tokyo. So impressed he must be with what he saw there. His homecoming press statement was about the need for subway systems in megalopolises like Tokyo and Manila. Mega-Manileños weren’t as enthusiastic. At once they twitted Abaya: if his department cannot run well the ground level and elevated Light Rail and Metro Rail Transits (LRT-MRT), what more one underground? Others hooted louder: if the 15-meter-long Lagusnilad road underpass floods over from the rains, what more a deeper subway? The LRT-MRT are both in the red. The trains and coaches are so rundown they often conk out during rush hours. The Czech ambassador has accused the MRT brass of trying to extort $30 million from Czech firm Inekon to be allowed to bid for the repair-maintenance contract. Other agencies under Abaya’s department are as steeped in controversy. The Manila airport teems with thieves and cheating cabbies. The aviation authority can’t get the country out of the US blacklist. The Coast Guard frequently extorts money from trespassing foreign trawlers. Maritime officers allow unfit passenger ships to sail. Seaports are a mess. The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board is too slow to issue permits for new utility vehicles. The Land Transportation Office is of special note. For two years it badmouthed as inept its private servicer for driver’s license and vehicle registration database, but then renewed its multibillion-peso contract. It has run out of vehicle license plates. In a flawed bidding, it awarded as new plate maker a company blacklisted by the government for forgery. The Dutch financial partner lacked capital for the two-decade-long work. The LTO chief was videoed while illicitly playing the slot machine at the casino. Abaya is taking so long to investigate the misdeed, which should be easy just by checking the many scasino security CCTV tapes; whereas, the official’s church already has expelled her for disciplinary breach. Perhaps Abaya is being distracted by other concerns. Could it be pressing family duties? Just asking, considering that the ten-member delegation led by Abaya to Tokyo included five relatives. Traveling officially aside from him were: Atty. Michael Angelo A. Abaya, Plaridel

Madarang Abaya, Ma. Consuelo Aguinaldo Abaya, Paul Plaridel Aguinaldo Abaya Jr., and Emilio Maximo Jose Aguinaldo Pulido. Opinion ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1  




As pieced together from whistleblowers and documents, the modus operandi in the pork-barrel scam is evident. Greedy lawmakers masterminded with trusted aides the pocketing of their “pork” lump sums. Facilitating the crime with the senators and congressmen’s staff were fixers like Janet Lim Napoles. Accomplices were bureaucrats in the budget department and implementing agencies, who released the public funds to Napoles’ bogus NGOs and projects. The hundred-million-peso kickbacks were then turned over to the masterminds. Series and combinations of crimes conspiratorially were employed: malversation, bribery, forgery, falsification, money laundering, tax evasion, asset concealment. The amounts, exceeding P50 million each in Napoles’ scheme with three senators and two congressmen) qualifies as nonbailable plunder. The accused face jailing while on years-long trial. The flight of the lawmakers’ chiefs of staff betrays the alibi they will invoke. The talkative among them in fact have told the press. Supposedly, they innocently authorized their top aides to work on legit “pork” releases. Purportedly, little did they know that those aides — now safely hiding abroad from interrogation — dealt with the fixer Napoles. Allegedly, lower staff members disobeyed orders to check the realness of NGOs and projects. “It’s not our job to verify those,” one senator lamely claimed. They’ve never met Napoles or her whistleblowing gofers; those photos with her in socials were but on request of common hangers-on. In short, the accused plead, their trustees had fooled them. They were dumb, but not devious. How such alibi will wash in court is predictable. The ongoing Senate inquiry hints at the trial magistrates’ reaction. As inquiry head Sen. Teofisto Guingona III remarked, “You’re a senator, yet you didn’t see it coming?” Impliedly, a high official of the land who merits the official vehicle plate number “7” is not one believably to be duped just like that by close subordinates. In one senator’s case, it would be interesting to watch him squirm out of certain exposure of his King Saul-like dalliance with his top aide. Dumbness is not excusable. It is a crime. Lawmakers who handed “pork” to fake NGOs and projects are liable for malversation — by abandonment or negligence. Under the Penal Code, if the amount exceeds P22,000, the accused cannot post bail and faces life sentence, like in plunder. So three other congressmen implicated with Napoles’ gang in the millions of pesos also will land early behind bars. Freezing the accused lawmakers’ assets, to prevent dissipation and preparatory to confiscation, can complete the exaction of justice. If fixer Napoles’ bank deposits and real estate holdings have been held, then more so the masterminds.’




Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM). Gotcha archives on Facebook:, or The STAR website E-mail:‐emerging‐alibi‐pork‐scam‐dumbness                                       

Leatherback turtle eggs fail to hatch By Cet Dematera (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 20, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

  This leatherback turtle was found laying eggs in the coastline of Albay Gulf in Legazpi City last July 14. 

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Bad news. Not one of the 90 eggs laid last July 14 by a rare leatherback turtle in the coastline of Albay Gulf here hatched when these were inspected by marine experts yesterday. Nilo Ramosa, leader of the Pawikan Conservation Project of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said the eggs’ embryos stopped from developing into full-grown baby turtles during the 62-day incubation period. Ramosa said the eggs – with a diameter of 5.4 to 5.7 centimeters – could have been soaked or submerged in salty water before they were transferred to another hatching area. “The features of the eggs when we inspected them indicated that they were soaked in salt water that halted their embryonic development,” Ramosa told The STAR. He said they kept at least 20 eggs that would be preserved for further study and future reference. The others were buried. He said the preserved eggs could be subjected to genetic analysis to determine their original habitat. “Since it is really very rare to see an egg of a leatherback turtle, at least these preserved eggs could tell us how they look like and what their physical features are,” Ramosa said.  

PHL ‘business-friendly’ ranking seen to improve further this year Category: Economy Published on Thursday, 19 September 2013 20:08 Written by Jennifer A. Ng

THE National Competitiveness Council (NCC) expressed confidence that the Philippines would be able to improve its ranking in a survey of “business-friendly” countries conducted jointly by the World Bank and the International Finance Corp. (IFC) following the major reforms rolled out by the government and the private sector. The NCC presented on Thursday a comprehensive list of reforms prepared by the inter-agency Task Force on Ease of Doing Business to simplify business regulatory practices for 2013. Officials of the NCC led by its chairman Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo and private sector Co-Chairman Guillermo M. Luz said the reforms have shortened the time it takes for starting a business (to 11 days from 36) and dealing with construction permits (to 61 days from 84). They also reported that the time it takes to get electricity has been shortened to 36 days from 50, registration of property (to 23 days from 39), and importation of goods (to 12 days from 14). These improvements, the NCC said, were accompanied by a decrease in the steps required for starting a business (to 11 steps from 16), dealing with construction permits (to 17 steps from 29), and getting electricity supply (4 steps from 5). The NCC said the number of tax and contribution payments has also been trimmed down to 14 from 47 through electronic systems. Reviews of Philippine systems, laws, and cases on credit access and investor protection also pointed toward higher scores on the IFC-constructed indices on depth of credit information, strength of legal rights, extent of disclosure, extent of director liability and ease of shareholder suits.

The Task Force on Ease of Doing Business was established in May by virtue of Administrative Order 38. It developed the reforms based on the “game plan for competitiveness” designed by the NCC to raise Philippine competitiveness rankings to the top third in the world by 2016. The Philippines is ranked 138th out of 185 economies and eighth of nine Asean countries in the 2013 Doing Business Report of the World Bank-IFC. The World Bank report measured the ease with which a business undertakes 10 processes with government agencies and other institutions over its typical life cycle. The next Ease of Doing Business Report is expected to come out in October. NCC officials called on the private sector and the public to “test” the reforms rolled out and provide recommendations on how they can be further improved.

In Photo: Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo (left) get cues from Guillermo M. Luz, privatesector co-chairman of the National Competitiveness Council, as they field queries from the media on the state of the country’s competitiveness as an investment haven. During the Ease of Doing Business news conference held on Monday, Domingo and Luz said they expect the country’s ranking as a “business-friendly” destination to improve further this year. (Nonie Reyes)

PCCI to help Zamboanga businessmen recover Category: Economy Published on Wednesday, 18 September 2013 19:51 The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the country’s largest business organization, has vowed to help enterprises in Zamboanga City in their recovery efforts as part of its support to the government’s post-crisis recovery efforts. The PCCI, in a statement, said there are three categories of post-recovery activities that the group will support: extend immediate need for relief and social services to the areas affected by the standoff in Zamboanga City; help business operations get back on track; and rebuild damaged infrastructures. PCCI President Miguel B. Varela said the PCCI Board, in a meeting on Wednesday, approved the proposal to launch interventions for affected businesses in Zamboanga. PCCI directors were briefed on the standoff and the interventions requested by Ricardo Juliano, PCCI vice president for Mindanao, and Pocholo Soliven, president of the Zamboanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI). Juliano and Soliven described the post-crisis recovery plan as a “mini-Marshall plan” to help Zamboanga City economy back on track. At the meeting, Juliano and Soliven emphasized the importance of Zamboanga’s economy. They said Zamboanga City accounts for 40 percent of gross regional domestic product, is home to 16 canning factories supplying 80 percent of the country’s sardines, and is a front-door to other Southeast Asian countries when the Asean Economic Integration starts in 2015. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) statistics also showed that the circulation of some P50 billion of money in Zamboanga has slowed down during the first nine days of the standoff. Varela acknowledged that the national government and the local government have been doing their best to resolve the crisis as early as possible. The PCCI has already mobilized its members to supply food and medicines, Varela said, and the issue of how to get the supplies to the city is now being discussed with the national government. Representation will be made to the Department of Transportation and Communications to open airports and seaports and allow extra flights, new shipping routes and extend operating hours. The temporary suspension of shipping services will be asked to be lifted to allow deliveries to and from Zamboanga City.

The BSP has authorized banks in the non-affected areas to resume banking and ATM operations as soon as possible. Likewise, some supermarkets have also re-opened but their stocks and working hours are limited. Varela said that the PCCI will make representations to the government to fast-track processing and release of calamity loans from the Social Security System, Government Service Insurance System, Pag-Ibig and development banks. The PCCI has also asked the Department of Trade and Industry to monitor prices of basic commodities. The PCCI will also make representations to banks to extend grace periods for interests and monthly amortizations on business loans and commodities. The national government, he said, will also be asked to suspend minimum wages for new entrants to the labor force in Zamboanga City for the next six months. There is need to create jobs for new entrants to help many families earn additional income to tide them over, Varela said. The Zamboanga CCI committed to hire extra workers to generate employment and pump prime the local economy. In rebuilding damaged infrastructures, the PCCI will also lobby for resettlement of displaced persons in burned barangays. According to the Zamboanga CCI, the city has 807,00 resident and 300,000 informal settlers, is the traditional supplier of basic goods in the Basilan-Sulu-and-Tawi-Tawi area, and is the buyer for raw materials and farm products in the area.

Malacañang says FOI bill now a priority measure By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 20, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

  MANILA, Philippines - The freedom of information (FOI) bill is now a priority legislative measure of the Aquino administration, a member of Malacañang’s communications group said yesterday. “It is among the priority measures the Palace is endorsing to the LEDAC (Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council),” Secretary Herminio Coloma, who heads the Presidential Communications Operations Office, told reporters. He said he expects the council to endorse the bill to the Senate and the House of Representatives for passage into law. He said the version that the Palace wants to see enacted does not include a right of reply provision. Coloma could not say if President Aquino would certify the measure as urgent. The Senate has already passed its version of the bill, while the House of Representatives still has to open hearings on a consolidated measure.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. has vowed to put the measure to a vote during the 16th Congress, which expires on June 30, 2016. Aquino’s perceived lack of support for the FOI bill is seen as the major reason for the measure’s failure to hurdle the previous 15th Congress. During the interview, Coloma pleaded for understanding for the President’s decision to stay in Zamboanga City while government troops are battling Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels. “The administration’s focus is to find a solution to the crisis. The President has to be on top of the situation,” he said. He said Aquino may not be in Manila but he is doing his job and performing his duties as President even while attending to the crisis in Zamboanga City. “We seek the kind understanding of our people and the media that he has to be there,” he added.

Fish cages raise power outage fears Category: Top News Published on Thursday, 19 September 2013 21:16 Written by Orly Guirao / Correspondent SUAL, Pangasinan—Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon will experience a minimum of sixhour blackouts because of the uncontrolled sedimentation of the Baquien cove of the Lingayen Gulf, caused by residues of intensive chemical feeds used in the raising of bangus and tilapia in fish cages within the cove, which is just a few meters from the country’s biggest powergenerating plant here. The threat was revealed by Ruben Licerio, vice president for plant operations of TeaM (Tokyo Electric and Marubeni) Energy Corp., which runs the coal-fired 1,200-megawatt Sual power plant. He said the power outage could strike anytime soon if preventive measures are not immediately undertaken by the government. Licerio told the BusinessMirror the power-generating firm has appealed to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to look into the sedimentation, which has started polluting the water being siphoned from the bay for use in the plant’s boiler and cooling system facilities. Licerio expressed fears that the chemical residues would corrode the metallic covers of the plant’s cooling facilities and thus disrupt operations. The biggest threat, he said, is when a massive fish kill happens, with the dead fishes getting sucked into the plant’s cooling system. Licerio recalled that plant operations had to be shut down for six hours in 1995 after an army of jellyfish got sucked into the plant’s cooling system, triggering power outages of almost onefourth of the entire Luzon-grid area. “It took us six hours to unclog the whole cooling system then, including the turbines,” he recalled. The plant was built at a cost of $1.2 billion during the early years of the Ramos administration to stave off the power crisis that started during President Corazon Aquino’s term. It has two giant generating units, each producing 600 MW. Licerio said the cages mushroomed before the May elections this year. A check with the mayor’s office here confirmed that the municipal government had issued business permits to more than 700 fish-cage operators, a sharp increase from 324 structures before the start of the election-campaign period.

In a separate interview, Mayor Roberto Arcinue said of the total number of fish cages built within the bay area, about 30 percent are owned by Taiwanese investors who paid P10,000 in business permits fees for each fish cage. The new mariculture cages, according to the mayor, are more or less 300 square meters in surface area, floating on up to 40-meters deep of water. One cage could be seeded with as many as 50,000 fingerlings of milkfish (bangus) harvestable in three to four months. Arcinue admitted the possibility of fish kills in the cove but said the body of water has not yet reached a point of overcrowding that caused similar fish kills in near-shore fish pens in nearby towns of Anda and Bolinao. Licerio told newsmen he has brought the matter to the attention of Pangasinan Gov. Amado T. Espino, the regional directors of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to help avert a disruption of the plant’s operation. Arcinue said the local government regulates the operations of the fish cages but said some of them have violated the regulation of keeping those pens at least 400 meters away from the plant. He revealed that bangus raised in warm waters close to the power plant grow faster than those raised further at sea.

BSP vows to tame forex fluctuations Category: Top News Published on Thursday, 19 September 2013 21:31 Written by Bianca Cuaresma Capital funds that flowed out on expectations of a reduction of the United States monetarystimulus program were seen returning to emerging-market economies like the Philippines and could prove disruptive down the line. With this, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. said the central bank now stands ready to ride out the possible surge of capital inflows following the surprise US Federal Reserve decision. “As is our policy, the BSP will maintain a presence in the FX [foreign-exchange] market if, in our assessment, there is excessive exuberance in the financial markets, especially today because of the unexpected Fed announcement. We will also remain watchful of developments in realasset markets,” Tetangco said. This means the BSP will maintain strategic presence at the local currencies market where it buys or sells dollar holdings, as needed, to keep the exchange rate stable. The various businesses requiring regular use of foreign exchange, such as the exporter community, for example, insist on a stable and predictable exchange-rate environment to be able to plan near- as well as long-term operational plans that will be impossible to plot with the exchange rate fluctuating from one extreme to the other. “We have the macroprudential tools in place to manage surges in capital inflows, consistent with our price and financial stability objectives,” Tetangco said. The BSP said the foreign-fund reflows were more a welcome development than a nuisance seen helping boost the country’s capacity to build on the momentum created when the economy grew by 7.5 percent in terms of local output, or gross domestic product, in the second quarter. More important, the BSP said macroprudential measures have since been in place to help secure the economy against volatilities resulting from any surge in yield-seeking foreign funds wanting to take advantage of the country’s solid economic underpinnings. Such include measures ensuring against the buildup of inflation pressures as the central bank releases peso liquidity into the system each time it soaks on foreign funds, for instance. The BSP has also relaxed the documentary requirements involved in the repatriation of foreign currency for medical, educational and other purposes as part of the effort to encourage outflows, among other measures.

“The Fed action should be positive for risk appetite for emerging markets, including the Philippines,” Tetangco said. Tetangco also said the decision of the US Fed to play it safe before starting to unwind its assetpurchase program should prove favorable to the Philippines. A recovery in the world’s largest economy is considered beneficial for the Philippines, as the US is a major trading partner. “To the extent the Fed action helps to ensure the incipient US growth is not derailed, it should also be positive for our own growth prospects,” Tetangco said in a text message to reporters. At its two-day Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting that ended on Thursday, Manila time, the US Fed decided to keep its $85-billion asset-purchase program and its interestrate policy unchanged, a decision that surprised markets around the world anticipating a small cutback or tapering of its stimulus. The US Fed said US economic activity “has been expanding at a moderate pace” and decided to safeguard the upward trend before tapering its stimulus program. “The committee decided to await more evidence that progress will be sustained before adjusting the pace of its purchases,” the FOMC said in a statement released on its web site.‐news/19658‐bsp‐vows‐to‐tame‐forex‐ fluctuations                           

Senator pushes 14th-month pay for government, privatesector rank and file Category: Nation Published on Thursday, 19 September 2013 20:02 Written by Mia M. Gonzalez A SENATOR wants rank-and-file workers in both public and private sectors to receive mandatory 14th-month pay from their employers to help them cope with rising prices of basic commodities, as well as health and education expenses. In filing Senate Bill 1645, or the 14th Month Pay Law, Senate Assistant Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III said there was an “indispensable need to provide our Filipino laborers, both from the public and private sectors additional 14th-month pay.” Sotto cited Article II, Section 18 of the Constitution wherein the state affirms labor as a “primary social economic force” whose rights and welfare shall be protected and promoted. “We need extra earnings in the middle of the year to help in school and medical expenses. Health and education needs of the ordinary Filipino must be assisted by our government,” he said. Sotto said the P10-wage increase cannot help workers meet rising prices of basic commodities, and that the 13th-month pay “is gobbled up by Christmas expenses.” “Improved business earnings have not cascaded on its own,” Sotto said. SB 1645 seeks mandatory 14th- month pay for government and non-government rank-and-file employees who have been on the job for at least one month during the calendar year, “regardless of employment status, designation and irrespective of the method by which their wages are paid.” The minimum amount of the 14th- month pay shall be at least half of the total basic salary earned by the employee within the calendar year. The 14th-month pay shall include “all remunerations or earning paid by the employer for services rendered but does not include allowances and monetary benefits which are not considered or integrated as part of the regular or basic salary.” Under the proposed measure, the 13th-month pay shall be paid not later than June 14th, while the 14th-month pay shall be paid not later than December 24th of every year. SB 1645, however, provides that the frequency of payment of such monetary benefits “may be the subject of agreement between employer and employee or any recognized collectivebargaining agent of employees.”‐senator‐pushes‐14th‐month‐ pay‐for‐government‐private‐sector‐rank‐and‐file 

Odette intensifies into typhoon  (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 20, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

  MANILA, Philippines - Several areas were placed under storm warning signals yesterday as Typhoon Odette continued to move closer to Northern Luzon, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). As of 5 p.m., signal No. 2 was raised over Batanes, Cagayan, Calayan, Babuyan Islands and Apayao, while signal No. 1 was hoisted over Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Abra, Kalinga and Isabela. At 4 p.m., the eye of the typhoon was at 570 kilometers east of Tuguegarao City, with winds of up to 160 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 195 kph. It was forecast to move northwest at 15 kph. PAGASA said the Batanes Group of Islands, Cagayan, including Calayan and Babuyan Group of Islands and Apayao, would be stormy in the next 24 hours. Isabela, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur and the rest of Cordillera will have rains with gusty winds and moderate to rough seas.

Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan, Western Visayas and the provinces of Zambales and Bataan will have cloudy skies with moderate to occasionally heavy rains and thunderstorms. Residents in these areas were told to watch out for flashfloods and landslides. Metro Manila, the rest of Luzon and the Visayas and the Zamboanga peninsula will have cloudy skies with light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms. The rest of Mindanao will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms. Those living in coastal areas under signal no. 2 were warned against storm surge. Sea travel in Occidental Mindoro, Palawan and the eastern seaboard of central and southern Luzon and the Visayas was prohibited. Odette is expected to be 320 km northeast of Aparri, Cagayan this afternoon; at 50 km northwest of Basco, Batanes by tomorrow afternoon; and at 380 km west of Basco or outside the Philippine area of responsibility by Sunday afternoon. The Philippine Coast Guard suspended travel to the island-municipalities of Itbayat and Sabtang in Batanes. Inter-island vessels and fishing boats have been towed to safety to avoid destruction. Cargo vessel M/V Transcend, which arrived in Batanes from Manila last Monday, was advised to leave and seek shelter in mainland Luzon. Odette is the 15th tropical cyclone this year and the first weather disturbance this month. OCD-Cordillera on red alert The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Cordillera has been placed on red alert as Odette is expected to hit the region. OCD-Cordillera administrator Andrew Alex Uy said they would intensify monitoring and information dissemination on the typhoon. Uy said he ordered field units to draft measures that would help lessen the effects of the weather disturbance. Three roads – Kalinga-Abra, Balbalan-Pinukpuk and Tabuk-Banaue through the Tanudan-Barlig road – remain closed to traffic due to clearing operations by personnel from the Department of Public Works and Highways. The Army has placed on standby three rubber boats, three ambulance units, 10 M35 and 12 KM450 trucks for possible rescue operations.

The Air Force Tactical Operations Group 1 has prepared an M35 truck, three elf trucks and one KM450 truck for disaster response efforts. The Philippine Military Academy has readied three M35 trucks, two ambulance units and 13 buses to respond when the need arises. Magat Dam reaches critical level Rains spawned by Odette since early this week have raised the water level at the Magat Dam located at the border of Isabela and Ifugao provinces, prompting authorities to release excess water. Saturnino Tenedor, head of the dam’s flood forecasting and warning section, said the water level reached 191.17 meters, which is within the critical level of 190 meters. Earlier, dam officials said they released water gradually to avoid flooding the low-lying areas in Isabela and southern Cagayan. Mariano Dancel, operations manager of the Magat River Integrated Irrigation System, said the dam’s downstream areas were equipped with automatic rain gauges and water level sensors to help monitor flashfloods. Step up drive on climate change, gov’t asked Sen. Loren Legarda yesterday called on the government to intensify the campaign against climate change as she noted that stranded commuters, long queues in terminals, students wading in floodwaters, stalled vehicles and bancas have become usual scenes during rains. Legarda, chair of the committee on climate change and environment, said rains and floods do not only affect the poor and the working class, but also the economy. She cited the AON Benfield’s Impact Forecasting titled “December 2012 Global Catastrophic Recap,” which identified Typhoon Bopha (Pablo) as the world’s deadliest disaster in 2012. According to the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, from 1900 to this year the Philippines experienced 276 natural disasters. – With Alexis Romero, Jack Castano, Charlie Lagasca, Christina Mendez‐intensifies‐typhoon       

Satisfaction with Noy gov’t hits record 75% – SWS By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 20, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

  MANILA, Philippines - Satisfaction with the performance of the Aquino administration hit a new record high in the second quarter of this year, according to a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey. Seven in 10 Filipinos or 75 percent expressed satisfaction with the government’s general performance while only nine percent were dissatisfied, for a net score of 66 (“very good”). This was 13 points higher than the “very good” 53 (68 percent satisfied, 15 percent dissatisfied) recorded three months earlier, the SWS said. Results of the latest SWS poll on the public’s satisfaction with the government’s performance were published in the newspaper BusinessWorld yesterday. The survey was conducted in June, before the controversy on the P10-billion pork barrel scam broke out. The government’s latest rating also surpassed the previous peak of 64 – also “very good” – recorded in September and November 2010, the SWS noted.

Satisfaction with the government improved across all regions, it said. It rose to an “excellent” 76 in the Visayas, from 45 in March. It also improved in Metro Manila (53) and balance Luzon (68) by 10 and 14 points, respectively. Both scores are classified as “very good.” Mindanao’s rating, meanwhile, remained at “very good” 63. By socioeconomic class, satisfaction with government was an “excellent” 71 among the class E, from a “very good” 60 previously. It rose by 15 points but still “very good” 65 among the class D or “masa.” However, satisfaction with the administration dropped by seven points to 61, but still “very good.” The SWS categorizes net satisfaction ratings of 70 and above as “excellent”; 50 to 69, “very good”; 30 to 49, “good”; 10 to 29, “moderate”, 9 to -9, “neutral”; -10 to -29, “poor”; -30 to -49, “bad’; -50 to -69, “very bad”; and -70 and below, “execrable.” The Aquino government’s satisfaction scores remain substantially higher than its predecessors, the SWS said. Big challenge Malacañang said yesterday the sustained high popularity ratings of President Aquino for the past three years always pose a big challenge for the government to do better to keep the figures up. “We will always be happy if the numbers are up,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told Palace reporters after a news briefing. “But these are perception numbers. Regardless of what the numbers will be, the government is focused on addressing inclusive growth and corruption in the country,” he added. Symbol of good governance Lawmakers believe President Aquino would continue to enjoy high ratings if he sustains his good governance campaign amid the pork barrel scam. Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, a stalwart of the National Unity Party, said Aquino won under his slogan “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” “The recent filing of cases against three senators and several congressmen is a concrete proof of the President’s campaign against graft and corruption and also public accountability,” Barzaga said.

“Moreover, the assurances of the Department of Justice that more charges will be filed against legislators reinforce the public’s trust and confidence in the President,” he said. “As long as he doesn’t change his attitude and style, he will always be a symbol of good governance,” Isabela Rep. Rodito Albano III said. Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe and Marikina City Rep. Romero Quimbo said the SWS survey showed Aquino’s “honest and sincere” leadership while House Deputy Majority Leader and Citizens Battle Against Corruption party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna thinks “the people agree that President Aquino’s leadership is excellent.” Other improvements The SWS survey also showed improvements in the government’s scores in 14 key issues. The government scored a “very good” 58 in terms of providing basic elementary and high school education, a new issue included in its June survey.- With Delon Porcalla, Paolo Romero‐noy‐govt‐hits‐record‐75‐sws                             

‘No threat of spread of coronavirus’ By Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 20, 2013 ‐ 12:00am   0  0 googleplus0  0  

MANILA, Philippines - There is no danger that the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus will spread in the country even if the Filipina nurse who died of the disease in Saudi Arabia is brought home, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said yesterday. “On questions if the body could spread the virus here, the answer is no. In the first place, the (coffin) will be sealed,” he told a press briefing. Ona added that bacteria and viruses die with the host’s death. “We are not at risk of getting the virus. Cremation is not even necessary,” he said. The 41-year-old nurse is the first Filipino to succumb to the virus. She died on Aug. 29, a week after she was confined in a Saudi hospital for respiratory distress and pneumonia. Ona assured the public the country remains free from the virus, which had infected 114 persons worldwide, based on a Sept. 7 report of the World Health Organization. A total of 54 persons have died. He said precautionary measures are in place to prevent the entry of the virus in the country. These include strict surveillance system at the airports to monitor international travelers.                  

DOH preparing guidelines on ‘pork’ use By Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 20, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Health (DOH) is readying guidelines on the use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Speaking to reporters, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said they are formulating the guidelines for poor Filipino patients. “We are just sort of preparing proposals but essentially, it’s up to Congress how much money will be (given to us),” he said. The DOH is expecting to receive some P3.6 billion, or 15 percent of the P25.6-billion PDAF budget from the Office of the Vice President and Congress re-aligned under the 2014 General Appropriations Act. Ona assured poor Filipinos of equal chances in healthcare assistance from the government. The PDAF will augment the support from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), he added. Ona said the DOH is envisioning a system that will be less partisan. “The idea is to make it available for patient care,” he said. “It won’t pass through them anymore. Let’s say in certain legislative district, do we still have to check to which party (a patient) belongs? No. It won’t be necessary anymore.” Ona said the DOH is looking at the possibility of implementing a voucher system. However, he refused to elaborate as negotiation is still going on. Those to benefit from PDAF do not necessarily need to be PhilHealth members, Ona said. Health Undersecretary Ted Herbosa said the social welfare offices at hospitals will play a vital role in implementing the program. “There are social workers, the medical social service, that evaluates the capacity of patients to pay,” he said. “So that process will just be followed.”‐preparing‐guidelines‐pork‐use   

Visa targets more bank partners for contactless payment Category: Banking & Finance Published on Thursday, 19 September 2013 19:20 Written by Genivi Factao Visa, a global payments-technology company, has partnered with Citi Philippines and anticipates a wave of banks issuing proprietary Visa payWave cards. Iain Jamieson, Visa country manager to the Philippines, Guam and North Pacific, said Citi, the Manila unit of the global financial-services firm Citigroup, was the first to introduce the contactless credit-card payment technology in the country. The Citibank Visa payWave gives Citibank Visa cardholders a faster, secure and hassle-free payment option. “Citibank is the first in the market and we’re very happy with Citibank,” he said. “We’re hoping to see in the next few years other issuance within the market also issuing payWave cards,” he added. Jamieson said the goal is to see the bill payments of Philippine companies finally equipped with the contactless card technology to provide convenience for their customers. “We have talks with multiple banks in the Philippines. They are moving to the more secure EMV chip-enabled cards. With this technology, they just need to put the chip on the card. A lot of banks know this,” he said. “We have 22 bank networks. Every bank knows the technology and they just need the opportunity and the right client to issue the card,” he added. He refused to give further details but hinted that there will be new card issuances within the year. He said they target not just credit-card products, as this latest innovation is set to change the local payments landscape for both retailers and consumers. Jamieson said contactless payments will spur the country’s evolution toward a cashless society, reducing time waiting in checkout queues for “everyday” purchases, such as groceries, fast-food meals, coffee and movie tickets. Time is the most valuable asset for busy Filipino cardholders who no longer have to wait in long queues or fumble with cash or coins. “Our research shows that cardholders appreciate Visa payWave because they don’t have to carry cash for small-value purchases—and it is as secure as paying with a regular Visa chip card.

Retailers will benefit from faster checkouts, reduced queuing and lowering cash handling costs,” Jamieson said. The leader in credit cards, Citi Philippines has 1.1-million cardholders, Consumer Business Manager for Citi Philippines Bea Tan said. “We understand our customers and know the demands on their time and how their lifestyles are changing. Our latest innovation will empower our clients to access the latest technology in credit-card payments—all while enjoying best-in-class rewards that they can only have with Citibank credit cards.” Contactless payments are accepted at leading retailers; Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Mercury Drug, Robinsons Supermarket, Eastwood and Lucky China Cinemas and soon at Newport Cinemas and McDonald’s. According to Citi Country Officer Batara Sianturi, “Citi is proud to once again be at the forefront of customer banking innovation in the Philippines. We are delighted to introduce our clients to a new way to pay with their credit cards – where they simply wave, pay and go. In partnership with Visa and the merchants, we are committed to better serve customers.” With the new Citibank Visa payWave, cardholders can simply wave their cards in front of a Visa payWave reader to pay for their goods. They also have the convenience of making transactions without needing to sign for purchases below P2,000 but are given the option to collect the receipt. On average, Visa payWave transactions can be up to three times faster than cash payments, reducing queuing times for both cardholders and retailers.‐finance/19626‐visa‐targets‐more‐ bank‐partners‐for‐contactless‐payment               

6 of 38 charged in pork scam no longer in Phl – BI By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 20, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Six of the 38 people charged with plunder and malversation of public funds before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the pork barrel scam are no longer in the country, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said yesterday. BI spokesperson Ma. Angelica Pedro said Technology Resource Center (TRC) director general Dennis Cunanan, former TRC director general Antonio Ortiz, and former Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza left the country early this month based on BI records. Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, former chief of staff of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, and Ruby Chan Tuason, who had reportedly acted as a “conduit” to Enrile and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, left the country last August, according to BI. Nemesio Pablo Jr. of the Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. has reportedly been out of the country since May 2010. A BI source said Reyes left for Macau last Aug. 31 on a Cebu Pacific flight. Plaza had served as Agusan del Sur congressman from 2001 to 2010. A source said Plaza flew to Hong Kong on Cebu Pacific flight 5J108 last Sept. 11. Tuason left the country for Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific Flight CX 906 last Aug. 26. BI also announced its issuance of Immigration Lookout Bulletin Order (ILBO) against 35 of the 38 respondents in the plunder and malversation cases. Not on the list were Enrile, Estrada, and Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. There was no immediate explanation for their not being on the list. While they were believed to have already left the country, Plaza, Pablo, Reyes, Cunanan, and Tuason were still included in the list. The list includes alleged pork barrel scam mastermind businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, former congresswoman and now Masbate Gov. Rizalina Seachon-Lanete, former congressmen Edgar Valdez (Apec Party List), Samuel Dangwa (Benguet), and Constantino Jaraula (Cagayan de Oro). The list also covers Richard Cambe, Pauline Labayen, Jose Sumalpong, Jeanette dela Cruz, Carlos Lozada, Erwin Dangwa, Alan Javellana, Gondelina Amata, Salvador Salacup, Jocelyn Piorato, Mylene Encarnacion, John Raymund de Asis, Evelyn Deleon, Ronald John Lim, Victor

Cacal, Romulo Revelo, Ma. Ninez Guanizo, Julie Johnson, Rhodora Mendoza, Alexis Sevidal, Sofia Cruz, Chila Jalandoni, Francisco Figura, and Marivic Jover. Meanwhile, a lawyer for the whistle-blowers in the pork barrel scam is seeking preventive suspension for officials implicated in the case. “Those sitting appointive officials implicated in the complaint should also be preventively suspended to prevent them from influencing witnesses within their departments and from tampering with any other evidence,” lawyer Lourdes Benipayo told The STAR in a text message. Benipayo said she welcomed BI’s issuance of ILBO on 35 of the respondents. – With Aie Balagtas-See‐38‐charged‐pork‐scam‐no‐longer‐phl‐bi                                   

Palace assures judicious use of Malampaya funds by Genalyn Kabiling  September 20, 2013  

Manila, Philippines — Malacañang assured yesterday the judicious use of Malampaya funds under the watch of President Benigno S. Aquino III, saying the revenues are used only for energy-related projects. The administration has never abused or wasted the revenues coming from Malampaya gas project in Palawan, according to Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda. “We have been very studious and judicious in the use of the Malampaya,” Lacierda said in a Palace press conference. “We have not used Malampaya fund for anything other than energy and energy-related matters,” he added. He said a portion of the Malampaya funds was used to bankroll the government’s program to provide electricity in far-flung barangays. The same fund was also tapped to purchase a US Hamilton class-cutter for the Philippine Navy since the sea vessel is “essential for us to secure our energy resources,” Lacierda said. The Malampaya gas fund, or the royalties of the government from the gas project in Palawan, has reportedly reached P130 billion as of August. The law states that the funds should only be used for projects related to energy resource development programs and for such other purposes as directed by the President. Lacierda pointed out that alleged misuse of Malampaya funds actually occurred during the past administration. He said authorities have already launched an investigation based on the audit report made by the Commission on Audit (COA) on the Malampaya funds. “In the time of the previous administration there were a lot of non-energy related projects,” he added. He said the Palace will leave the investigation into the persons involved in the Malampaya gas fund scam to the Department of Justice.‐assures‐judicious‐use‐of‐malampaya‐funds/         

Calamity funds not for salaries, incentives – DBM By Charlie Lagasca (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 20, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines – Calamity funds cannot be utilized for salaries, bonuses or incentives of disaster personnel or volunteers of local government units (LGUs). Isabela Taguinod, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) director for Cagayan Valley, said the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund of LGUs is strictly for disaster response and rehabilitation measures only. “There are many questions if (such fund) can be utilized for salaries of (disaster) personnel, but the (order) is very clear that it cannot be. (Their) salaries must come from the (LGUs’) general fund,” Taguinod said. Taguinod’s clarification was in response to the LGUs’ inquiries as well as different interpretations of the DBM guidelines on the allocation and utilization of disaster funds. It also came as Typhoon “Odette” continues to move toward the region. Taguinod cited a recent joint memorandum of agreement of DBM and the Department of the Interior and Local Government which states that calamity funds are strictly for disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and rehabilitation programs and activities.‐funds‐not‐salaries‐incentives‐dbm                       

DENR to lead Int’l Coastal Cleanup Day By Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 20, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The world’s biggest coastal cleanup, known as the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day, will be held on Sept. 21, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) announced yesterday. The DENR, along with the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary, will lead the coastal cleanup, with Roxas Boulevard in Manila and the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area as the main focal points. Based on the yearly reports of the Washington-based Ocean Conservancy, the volume of ocean trash recorded by volunteers from the Philippines has doubled every year during the last three years. The reports stated that in 2010, more than 145,000 Filipino volunteers picked up a total of 240,360 kilos of trash. In 2011, some 114,418 volunteers recorded 485,091 kilos, while in 2012, almost 144,000 people retrieved more than 1.3 million kilos. “As you can see, the number of registered volunteers has more or less remained the same, but the amount of trash they picked up in just one day has doubled alarmingly. It means more trash is making its way into our waters,” DENR Secretary Ramon Paje said. He urged the public to be mindful of where they throw their trash and not to depend on having others to clean the beaches and waterways. “We should remember that clean waters and oceans also mean a healthier environment for our coastal and marine resources, which we heavily depend on for food,” the DENR chief said.


What the P10 wage hike can buy (or not) by Alma Buelva  September 20, 2013 (updated)  

What can P10 buy today? Not a lot. By Oct. 4, minimum wage earners in Metro Manila will receive an additional P10 in their daily earnings. This brings the new daily minimum wage rate to P466 for workers in the nonagricultural sector, and P429 in private hospitals with 100-bed capacity, retail and service companies with 15 or less employees, and manufacturing with 10 or fewer workers. Ten pesos can buy one McDonalds’ Vanilla Sundae Cone or five pieces of pandesal. But in reality, labor groups see the P10 pay raise as too little, too late. A look at the latest suggested retail prices (SRPs) for selected basic necessities and prime commodities as collated by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as of July 11, 2013, revealed that the P10 wage hike won’t buy Filipinos a lot of daily food and household items. In fact, only instant noodles were priced below P10, as everything else from sardines to bath soap cost a bit more. (See Price Table).

Based on the DTI price index for the said period, the cheapest brand of tomato-based sardines in can (Paradiso, 155g) costs P12.50 in supermarkets. The cheapest 350 ml condiments – vinegar and soy sauce – were sold for P10.40 (Amihan cane vinegar) and P13.35 (Lorins soy sauce). A 55ml Palmolive soap costs P12.95 while a laundry bar (Budget brand) costs P16.85.

Instant noodles (Lucky Me or Payless), sold for P6.90 – P7.10 and P6.30, respectively, in supermarkets, were the only items that cost below P10. The cheapest luncheon meat (P27.50 per can), evaporated milk (P34.15 for 410ml) and corned beef (24.25 for 150g) look like luxuries if one only has a budget of P10. According to the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board of NCR, the new wage order covers all minimum wage earners in the private sector in the metropolis, “regardless of their position, designation, or status of employment and irrespective of the method by which they are paid.” The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines is protesting the amount, which it labeled as a “bad joke” for workers in Metro Manila. The group vowed to appeal the matter until they get the P85 wake hike they deem just. The National Wage and Productivity Council published on Thursday, Sept. 19, details of the new wage order and gave aggrieved parties 10 days to appeal.‐the‐p10‐wage‐hike‐can‐buy‐or‐not/                               

Congressmen to donate P10,000 each for Zamboanga victims by Ben Rosario  September 19, 2013  

The 289 members of the House of Representatives have adopted a resolution allowing the chamber to deduct P10,000 from the salaries of each congressman as their one-time contribution to victims of the Zamboanga siege. Led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. the House unanimously adopted House Resolution No. 03 that was principally authored by Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora and Belmonte. With lawmakers numbering 289 to date, adoption of this resolution by these lawmakers could provide innocent victims of this crisis with a total of P2.89 million in financial aid to address their urgent subsistence needs such as food and drinking water. The independent minority bloc led by Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez has called for the swift adoption of the resolution that took place during the plenary deliberations for the proposed 2014 budget. Reps. Tupay Loong (NP, Sulu); LIto Atienza (Bagong Henerasyon) and Elmer Panotes (LakasCMD, Camarines Norte) congratulated their colleagues for the show of bipartisan support to push the resolution. Belmonte said the resolution recognizes the need for immediate aid and relief for the Zamboanga City crisis victims during this most difficult time of strife. “The House of Representatives hereby extends financial assistance to the victims of this crisis which has resulted in massive damage to property and infrastructure, and adversely affected the livelihood of the people of Zamboanga,” the Speaker said. The provision for financial assistance to the crisis victims followed an earlier condemnation by the House led by Belmonte of the needless violence taking place in Zamboanga initiated by the Nur Misuari-led Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). According to the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council, more than 82,000 people with 16,533 families from the 15 barangays have been affected by the crisis in Zamboanga, with thousands forced to flee their homes and seek shelter in evacuation centers within the city.‐to‐donate‐p10000‐each‐for‐zamboanga‐victims/     

Payments deficit stands at $318 M in August By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 20, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The country’s balance of payments (BOP) recorded a deficit in August due to financial market volatility arising from the uncertainty about the US Fed decision on stimulus. Data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed the BOP incurring a deficit of $318 million in August, a reversal of the $582-million surplus recorded in August last year and the $1.099-billion surplus in July. Last month’s BOP deficit was the first in six months, indicating the country is vulnerable to portfolio outflows. “This is due to financial market volatility arising from the uncertainty about Fed’s tapering... but likely to be temporary,” BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. said. The BOP position indicates the country’s transactions with the rest of the world including trade, investments and remittances from Filipinos abroad. A deficit means more funds went out of the country, while a surplus means otherwise. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1  

In the eight months to August, BOP surplus amounted to $3.359 billion, 33.9 percent lower than the $5.080 billion a year ago. The central bank has a BOP surplus forecast of $4.4 billion for the year, lower than last year’s $9.236 billion.‐deficit‐stands‐318‐m‐august               

Subsidies given to GOCCs reach P32B in Jan‐July By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 20, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Subsidies given by the government to state-owned agencies and corporations more than doubled in the first seven months, data from the Bureau of Treasury showed. The total subsidies released from January to July this year amounted to P31.97 billion compared with only P14 billion in the same period last year. The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. or PhilHealth received the bulk of government support with P11.97 billion. The amount, equivalent to more than one third of the total spending on subsidies, was used to extend critical health care to more than 10 million indigent families nationwide. The National Housing Authority got the second highest subsidy with P8.25 billion as the Aquino administration stepped up the relocation of informal settlers in Metro Manila’s so-called danger zones. The NHA is constructing 10 housing projects that will translate to a total of 6,426 units. These units form part of the housing relocation program for some 18,000 squatter families living in six priority waterways identified by the NHA that will be cleared this year. Trailing NHA was the National Electrification Administration (NEA), which is tasked to provide electricity to rural communities. It received P3.09 billion. It was followed by the National Food Authority (NFA), which obtained P2 billion in government support. The government subsidizes rice imports through exemption from duties and taxes in order to keep prices low. Other top recipients were the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (P1.21 billion) and the National Irrigation Authority (P1.09 billion). In July alone, subsidies to government-owned or controlled corporations jumped to P18.75 billion from only P1.23 billion a year ago. Subsidies given in the seven-month period accounted for 2.9 percent of the government’s total expenditures for the period of P1.09 trillion. The government has ramped up spending to achieve sustained inclusive growth. For this year, expenditures are seen to increase to P1.98 trillion.‐given‐goccs‐reach‐p32b‐jan‐july 

GSIS resumes survivorship pension benefits by Chino Leyco  September 19, 2013  

State-run Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) has resumed the benefits of survivorship pensioners after the Employees Compensation Commission (ECC) lifted the suspension of its payment beyond the five-year guaranteed period. Robert Vergara, GSIS president and general manager said that the pension fund will start paying the suspended survivorship pension of qualified Employees’ Compensation (EC) pensioners and dependents. Vergara said qualified EC survivors whose pension has been stopped as of August 2012 and those who should be receiving their pension beginning August 2012, will benefit from the ECC resolution. Under the Employees’ Compensation program implemented by ECC, the grant of EC survivorship pension, mandated under Presidential Decree 626, is among the benefits given to employees who died from work-connected accident, disease, or disability. In 2006, GSIS suspended the payment of the pension after the five-year guaranteed period. In letters sent recently to EC survivorship pensioners, GSIS requires surviving legitimate spouses (of deceased EC pensioners) to submit a certificate of no marriage (CENOMAR) issued by the National Statistics Office, stressing that the ECC board resolution disqualifies them from the benefit if they remarried. All qualified EC survivorship pensioners will also be asked later to enroll for eCard, through which their monthly pension will be credited, after the GSIS has created their pension records. When submitting document to the nearest GSIS office, pensioners are further advised to bring two valid government-issued identification cards and a copy of the letter from the GSIS for easy reference. Under PD 626, EC contributions are paid solely by employers in case of work-related contingencies incurred by their employees, such as accident, disease, disability, or death. Employees do not contribute to the Employees Compensation Insurance Fund. The GSIS and the Social Security System (SSS) are the implementing agencies and fund managers of the EC Insurance Fund for the public and private sectors, respectively.‐resumes‐survivorship‐pension‐benefits/     

Transforming PH into a modern, cashless society By Matikas Santos   6:19 pm | Thursday, September 19th, 2013  

Iain Jamieson, Visa country manager for Philippines and Guam, discusses the benefits of contactless credit-card payment technology offered by Citibank and Visa dubbed “Citibank Visa payWave”. Video by Santos MANILA, Philippines—Say goodbye to long lines at cashiers who are asking for a smaller bill or asking for coins when buying groceries at supermarkets, drinks at coffee shops, and tickets to the movies. Citibank and Visa launched Thursday their new contactless credit card payment technology dubbed “Citibank Visa payWave” that enables cardholders to make purchases simply by waving their card. “Today’s launch of Visa payWave marks a tremendous step forward in transforming the Philippines into a modern, cashless society,” Iain Jamieson, Visa country manager for Philippines and Guam, said during the launch. “Time is the most valuable asset for busy Filipino cardholders who no longer have to wait in long queues or fumble with cash or coins,” he said. The Visa payWave is already accepted at several commercial establishments such as Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Mercury Drug, Robinson’s Supermarket, Eastwood and Lucky China Cinemas. It will be accepted soon at Newport Cinemas and McDonald’s.


Iain Jamieson, Visa country manager for Philippines and Guam (right) shares a toast with Batara Sianturi, Citi Country Officer (left) and Bea Tan, Consumer Business Manager (Center), to

celebrate the launch of the Citibank Visa payWave contactless credit card in the Philippines. MATIKAS SANTOS The contactless payment system is expected to further reduce the long lines at cashiers since cardholders no longer need to sign for transactions below P2000. Higher value transactions require either a signature or entering a Personal Identification Number. Visa and Citibank assured that the new contactless technology is safe from cloning, accidentally being read by card terminals and double payments. Cards that are already equipped with the contactless technology may still be used at traditional swipe terminals. Cardholders can get the new payWave card as replacement when their current card expires or if they request for it. Jamieson said that several developed countries in Europe already have this technology and it is expanding in several developing countries in Asia. “Most of the Countries in Europe now accept it, even counties as big as the United States are now piloting this technology. In Asia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand have the technology [and] It’s been in play in places like Korea and Japan for a long time,” Jamieson said. “The biggest most successful markets now are Australia and New Zealand where in two years ago they deployed the technology and within that space of two years, 30 percent of all transactions in Australia are now through payWave cards,” he said. The payWave cards are being seen as a new form of payment especially for establishments that don’t traditionally accept card payments. “McDonalds used to not take cards in any way, shape, or form, over the counter. As of November, they will now be accepting cards as a payment form because the payWave has brought them the speed and the convenience in the checkout that they require,” Jamieson said. The new contactless credit card payment will likely move on to different form factors such as being placed at the back of mobile phones or integrated into the phone itself. “In the next year or so you’re going to see this technology move on to the mobile phone, so I think you will have mobile phones that will have contactless technology within the actual phone themselves, or a sticker at the back of the phone that is a small representation of your card,” Jamieson said.‐ph‐into‐a‐modern‐cashless‐society     

President has wide powers to stop fund misuse – Sereno September 19, 2013 10:17 pm by RITCHIE A. HORARIO REPORTER SUPREME Court (SC) Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno on Thursday urged President Benigno Aquino 3rd to use his Constitutional powers in going after erring government officials who dipped their hands into government coffers. Speaking during the 3rd Integrity Initiative Summit organized by the Makati Business Club (MBC) at the Makati Shangri-la, Sereno said the President has enough powers under the Constitution to effectively address the problem of public funds misuse. Sereno herself is a beneficiary of the government’s anti-corruption effort being the successor of former chief justice Renato Corona who was impeached last year after he was found to have misdeclared his statement of assets liabilities and net worth (SALN). She said that the President should utilize his wide spectrum of investigative and prosecutorial powers in going after erring public officials, regardless of their affiliation or position in the bureaucracy. The chief justice issued the call amid the controversies hounding the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or so-called pork barrel funds by some lawmakers. Three senators and several former congressmen and other government officials have already been charged with plunder in connection with the pork barrel scam allegedly engineered by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles. Weapon Sereno explained that the Executive department has the Commission on Audit (COA) as its main weapon in monitoring and checking the fiscal performance of various government agencies. She said the President is naturally expected to act on COA audit reports under his “faithful execution of the laws” duty under Section 5, Article VII of the Constitution. “The spectrum of actions he can perform under his ‘supervision and control’ powers is wide,” Sereno said in her speech. For this purpose, she said that not only can the Chief Executive investigate administratively the performance of any executive department agency, he can also reshuffle personnel. “He [Aquino] should take all necessary actions to protect government assets from misuse,” she stressed.

AMLC According to Sereno, the President can also investigate instances of money laundering by tapping the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC). She said the AMLC has the authority to investigate and ask the Court of Appeals to freeze “dirty money” and file complaints with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Ombudsman. As to the role of the judiciary, Sereno said it is only tasked to adjudge guilt or innocence in the legal liability for misuse of public funds. “But it can only do so on the basis of the provisions of the Constitution or the law that are alleged to have been violated, and on the basis of the admissibility and the weight of the evidence that are before it,” she pointed out. “If the action is civil, then only a preponderance of evidence is sufficient. If it is criminal, then the crime has to be proven beyond reasonable doubt.” The chief magistrate pointed out that the judiciary is prohibited from making decisions based on political considerations and in order to conform to public sentiment. “The judiciary must remain deaf, even to the public clamor for conviction, and can only hear what is appropriately brought before its halls of justice,” she said. “That is why it is all-important that the country must have a judiciary that is populated by independent, competent judges who live in constant mortal fear of not doing what is right,” she added. The Integrity Initiative is a private sector-led campaign introduced by the MBC in 2010 to promote good governance, transparent business transaction and implement strict ethical standards. It was attended by business executives and members of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP).

Rice war heats up; Alcala blows top September 19, 2013 10:15 pm by JING VILLAMENTE REPORTER THE on-going word war over the nation’s rice supply has taken a heated turn: the weight of controversies on his back—from alleged participation in the Napoles pork barrel scam to overpriced government importations, including a gauntlet of inquiries in Congress—may have been too much on the nerves of an embattled cabinet official. In a face-off at ABS-CBN’s “Umagang Kay Ganda” in Anthony Taberna’s Punto for Punto segment on Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and his staunch critic, lawyer activist, Argee Guevarra battled with arguments that was capped by, according to Guevarra, the agriculture chief in full view of everyone threatened him using “profane language in the vernacular.” “Pagkatapos ng debate, inabot niya ‘yung nakaunat kong kamay at nagkamayan kami pero nanlilisik ang mga mata . . . mataas ang boses ni Secretary Alcala at malamang maraming nakarinig ng sinabi niya sa akin, ‘Tandaan mo, hawak ko ang bayag ko mula umaga hanggang gabi [After the debate, he reached out for my extended hand and we shook hands but he glared at me . . . Secretary Alcala’s voice was menacing and for sure, a lot of people in the studio heard what he told me, ‘Remember this, I hold my balls from morning to night],’” Guevarra told The Manila Times in an interview on Thursday. “To have a ‘firm hold of one’s testicles’ is sexist parlance, which translates to not back down from any challenge wherever it leads or however it ends. How the agriculture chief said it, however, purportedly sounded more like a threat than a mere declaration of resolve,” Guevarra explained. “For those who were there, they felt, I’m sure, that he was threatening me,” recalled Guevarra, referring to the television studio and in full view of everyone present. “To confirm this, you can go after everybody who was there on the set . . . the audience, reporters, the program’s workers. Jing Castañeda, am sure caught the commotion and can attest to this. Kim [Atienza] was there also, and Bianca [Gonzalez], ” he said. “I intended to stay to talk to some of the reporters who were there but he kept repeating, almost shouting: Tandaan mo, hawak ko ang bayag ko mula umaga hanggang gabi,” he related.

The “scene,” by Guevarra’s recollection got to the point where Alcala’s bodyguards started to approach him in what the lawyer felt was in a threatening manner. “While he was making a scene, nakita kong papalapit ang mga bodyguards niya. Napansin pala nung isang malaking mama doon, empleyado ng istasyon o ng show, inescort ako papalabas ng studio [I saw his bodyguards begin to approach. A big man, an employee of the station or the show, noticed and escorted me out of the studio],” recounted Guevarra. The lawyer’s exposé on the alleged P457-million anomaly involving the National Food Authority (NFA), an attached agency of the DA, among other issues, has caused the House of Representative and the Senate’s investigation on the country’s rice situation. Last week, at the joint inquiry of the House Committee on Agriculture and Special Committee on Food Security, Alcala’s repeated claim of rice self-sufficiency and rice projection numbers were contradicted by the DA’s own Bureau of Agricultural Statistics. The DA’s statistics chief, Assistant Secretary Romeo Recide, said that country would not be rice self sufficient at the end of 2013, as optimistic projections pegged the country’s rice production at 18.45 million metric tons (MT)—a far cry from the 20 million MT of rice Alcala claimed would be domestically produced this year. While the said developments may have caused Alcala’s outburst, Guevarra vowed not to be intimidated. “But if we allow ourselves, who keep close watch on governance, to be adversely affected by these cheap attempts at intimidation, we, in an instant, bridge our distinction from those who passively allow the unhampered raiding of our public coffers, from those who perform active parts in it, [and] from those who directly benefit from it,” Guevarra, a University of the Philippines-trained lawyer said. A poll held during the debate showed that 55 percent of the program’s viewers wanted Alcala to resign his post as agriculture chief amid allegations of corruption, persistent rice price hikes, and the DA’s inability to meet its self-imposed rice production targets. Guevarra is contemplating to file a complaint before the local police over the incident and vowed to press for Alcala’s resignation or revamp at the department as the secretary became to personal in handling an intelligent discourse over rice supply. Rice traders, dealers support Meanwhile, legitimate rice traders, dealers and other stakeholders have manifested their full support to the programs and initiatives of Alcala and the NFA in ensuring that there is enough supply of rice in the country n accordance with the food security program of the government. In a statement sent by more than 150 stakeholders and industry players representing the biggest groups of farmers, rice mill owners, wholesalers, traders and retailers throughout the country expressed their support to the assertions of Alcala and NFA

Administrator Orlan Calayag that their industry is stable and that there is sufficient rice supply. They were also unanimous in their declaration that some individuals and groups who have an axe to grind against Alcala and the government are behind in spreading the false reports about the artificial rice shortage and whose main objective is to create panic and confusion among the people. The expression of support they said was given by the industry players shortly after their meeting with Alcala, Calayag and other government officials recently during which they discussed the real rice supply situation in the country. It was during that gathering that they arrived at a consensus that while there might have been a slight rise in the price in some areas, it was mainly due to lean months and not because of rice shortage, as saboteurs wanted the public to believe. Participants from various groups like Grains Retailers Association of the Philippines; Binhi-NCR; AGRIS; Philippines Confederation of Grains Associations; and ANIB-AMI among others also vowed to join hands and fight those who are behind in the malicious market price speculations that result to confusion among their ranks and the public. The participants also reported that the price of rice has started to stabilize at the Intercity in Bulacan, wherein the price of commercial premium quality rice has now gone down from P1,920 to P1,880 per sack. The price of medium quality rice meanwhile has also dropped from P1,820 to P1,780 per sack while the imported premium quality rice also slumped from P1,800 to P1,750 per sack. Alcala earlier announced that he already sought the help of National Bureau of Investigation to help them unmask those behind the manipulation of rice price and supply, and he is just waiting the results of the probe before appropriate legal actions are taken against them.‐war‐heats‐up‐alcala‐blows‐top/41652/            

Killer ‘red tide’ afflicts coastal waters of 4 regions September 19, 2013 9:57 pm by LIEZL BIGATA SPECIAL TO THE MANILA TIMES

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on Thursday warned the public from harvesting and eating shellfish from coastal areas of four regions. Weeks of BFAR sampling showed shellfish culled from those parts were positive for the killer red tide toxin. In its Shellfish Bulletin 23, BFAR announced that shellfish and other fish species harvested from the coastal waters of Dumanquillas Bay in Zamboanga Del Sur; Murcielagos Bay in Zamboanga del Norte and Misamis Occidental; Matarinao Bay in Eastern Samar; Balite Bay, Mati Davao Oriental; and coastal waters off Masbate are still positive for paralytic shellfish poison that is beyond the regulatory limit. The agency also said that all types of shellfish and acetes or alamang gathered from these areas are not safe for human consumption. BFAR, however, said that several species—including fish, squids, shrimps and crabs—are safe to eat. But they must be fresh and washed thoroughly, and internal organs such as gills and intestines are removed before cooking. Meanwhile, several areas surrounding Manila Bay remain untainted from red tide toxins, including the coastal waters of Cavite, Las Piñas, Parañaque, Navotas, Bulacan and Bataan. Major fishing areas of Alaminos, Wawa and Bani in Pangasinan; Masinloc in Zambales; coastal waters of Milagros and Mandaon in Masbate; Juag Lagoon inMatnog and Sorsogon Bay in Sorsogon; Honda and Puerto Bays in Puerto Princesa City, and Inner Malampaya Sound in Taytay, Palawan continue to be unaffected by the deadly toxins. Also free from red tide were the coastal waters of Pilar, President Roxas, Panay Roxas City, Ivisan and Sapian in Capiz; E.B. Magalona, Pontevedra, Pulupandan, Valladolid, Talisay City, Silay City, Bacolod City, Hinigaran, Cadiz City, Victorias City, Bago City, Binalbagan and San Enrique in Negros Occidental. Other areas of Maqueda Bay, Villareal Bay, Irong-iromg Bay, Cambatutay Bay and coastal waters of Calbayog City in Western Samar; Ormoc, San Pedro, Cancabato and Cariga Bays in Leyte; Biliran waters in Biliran Province; Hinatuan, Bislig and Lianga Bays in Surigao del sur; and Taguines Lagoon in Benoni Mahinog, Camiguin Island are also free from toxins.‐red‐tide‐afflicts‐coastal‐waters‐of‐4‐regions/41608/   

Lack of faith in Filipino farmers September 19, 2013 10:13 pm Whenever a Filipino beauty queen, athlete, artist or entertainer gets accolades here or abroad, mainstream media whip up a party and politicians try to share the limelight. A good example is Manny Pacquiao, who has given the country honors for winning championship fights abroad. Remember how the media, Congress, politicians and the military heaped honors and praises on Pacquiao? But have we ever given our farmers a pat on the back, who work hard to produce an additional 1.32 million metric tons (MT) of palay (unhusked rice) over a span of two years to help the country achieve rice self-sufficiency? In 2012, the country’s rice farmers produced 18 million MT of palay, which is a record figure, or 1.2 million MT higher than the 2010 production figure of 16.68 million MT. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala is given kudos for increasing domestic production in the last two years, and rightly so, but it is the farmers and even agriculture extension workers who should get the honor, congratulations, accolades, and more importantly, encouragement to continue their efforts. Alas, a few members of Congress and personalities who suddenly become “rice experts” are saying the country will fail to achieve 100-percent rice self-sufficiency at the end of the year because the 20-million MT target set by Alcala is undoable. Of course, the critics-turn-experts are wrong. They fail to recognize the 1.32-million MT gain in rice production our farmers have achieved over the past two years. All we have to do is to give them the encouragement—and the support—they need. That the Philippines is capable of achieving rice self-sufficiency is actually a no-brainer. Consider the fact that the country can expand the area planted to rice by at least a million hectares, with the vast swath of land in the public domain that can be utilized for production; the development of hybrid rice varieties that can yield up to 8 to 10 metric tons per hectare per cropping, which is almost the same as the Chinese government boast of 10 MT/hectare/cropping for its new rice seeds. In addition to irrigation systems nationwide, the use of less costly communal water impounding systems is slowly picking up. Also, modernization has caught up with rice farmers as shown by the fact that the mechanization level has increased from 0.5 horsepower per hectare in 1995 to 2 horsepower per hectare this year. More importantly, the Filipino rice farmers are a persistent lot. They are not easily discouraged. They continue to increase their yield year after year, even against overwhelming odds. In spite of the neglect and apathy of past governments, and the exploitation of traders, the farmers continue to ensure there is food for the nation. There

has been no dramatic decrease in areas under cultivation. On the contrary, the areas planted to rice and other food crops have expanded. Those who are saying that rice self-sufficiency is impossible just do not have faith in the Filipino farmers, who continue to increase the country’s rice yield in this era of weather uncertainty brought about by climate change. The tribal people of the Cordilleras, for instance, continue to grow rice in mountain environs, as the Banawe, Batad and other rice terraces clearly demonstrate. These farmlands in the sky, which by the way attract foreign and domestic tourists stand, as a monument to Filipino ingenuity and hard work. Those who tell us we cannot achieve rice self-sufficiency are showing contempt for our farmers and extension workers. Or maybe it is just their way to get us so discouraged that we drop the whole idea. In such a case, they are more concerned for farmers in Vietnam and Thailand, who produce enough rice for export to other countries, including the Philippines.‐of‐faith‐in‐filipino‐farmers/41641/                               

P3.8B to rebuild Zamboanga September 19, 2013 10:21 pm by CATHERINE VALENTE AND LLANESCA T. PANTI REPORTERS

Soldiers unload ammunition near the site of a stand-off with Muslim rebels as the military conducts clearing operations in Zamboanga City. A young Army commander was reported killed in sporadic clashes on Thursday. AFP PHOTO President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Thursday said that the government is readying P3.89 billion for the reconstruction of Zamboanga City, which suffered extensive damage after almost two weeks of clashes between Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels and government forces. The President said that the government has a total of P6.1 billion in contingency funds to rebuild the city. The national government, he said, was also coordinating with the Zamboanga local government on rehabilitation plans which includes the construction of temporary houses for residents who lost their homes, cash-for-work programs and educational assistance. “What I’d like to assure the people is we have the necessary funds on hand to take care of that (reconstruction),” Aquino told reporters. Officials of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, National Hosing Authority, and the city government have already started discussing reconstruction plans. They have identified target areas, especially some structures that were burned down by the rebels, according to Aquino. “My understanding yesterday is that the (resettlement) site has been identified. But, again, there are people who do not want to be distant from the coastline, so that will have to be taken into consideration,” the President said.

Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that Aquino called up Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad to discuss the continuing relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction plans for Zamboanga City. Based on a situational report from DSWD, there are 23,794 families comprised of 118,819 individuals that have been affected by the fighting. Lacierda said 89 percent of the displaced families were staying in evacuation centers, while 1,790 families chose to stay with their relatives or friends. There are 57 evacuation centers serving 21,261 families or 112,961 individuals. The largest is the Joaquin F. Enriquez Sports Complex, also known as the Grandstand, where 63 percent of the affected families were staying. The DSWD, through a number of food service providers in the city, provides 70,000 ready-to-eat packed foods for the evacuees every day. The agency is conducting a computerized profiling of displaced families using its Disaster Assistance Family Center, family access cards for validation, and profile generation purposes as basis for providing relief and shelter assistance for families whose houses were badly damaged by the fires. House contribution The House of Representatives also pledged to help rebuild Zamboanga, with congressmen each pledging P10,000 from their monthly salary to raise P2.89 million. Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales 2nd and House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora signed House Resolution 3 that calls on all lawmakers to donate to the efforts to rebuild Zamboanga City. “The House of Representatives will extend financial assistance to the victims of this crisis which has resulted in massive damage to property and infrastructure, adversely affecting the livelihood of the people of Zamboanga. This resolution recognizes their need for immediate aid and relief during this most difficult time,” Belmonte said. A congressman receives P90,000 as monthly salary. Belmonte earlier condemned the MNLF for the siege that led to the burning of homes and destruction of schools. “Violence is definitely not at all the solution to achieve the peace sought by our brothers in Mindanao and by the Aquino government,” Belmonte said. Still in Zamboanga The President on Thursday said he will remain in Zamboanga City until the standoff between the MNLF and government forces is over. Aquino said that he wants to personally oversee operations in the area. ”I’ll stay (in Zamboanga) until the crisis is over. I”ll return (to Manila) after I can explain in detail what the government plans to do . . . And I don’t expect that to take too long,” Aquino said. He downplayed criticisms that he was micromanaging the situation in Zamboanga City.

”We assign people responsibilities because we knew they were capable of fulfilling them,” he said. “As both Commander-in-Chief and the President, at the end of the day, everything is my responsibility, so I am very involved.” ”I ask them what is needed, authorize the releases of funds; I am talking to Bangko Sentral to ensure the cash supply, am talking to Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Transportation and Communications, and Department of Agriculture to ensure that basic food stuffs are available from the time before I left Manila to the present—to include not just Zamboanga City but also Basulta [Basilan, Sulu and TawiTawi],” Aquino added.‐8b‐to‐rebuild‐zamboanga/41664/                                     

Aquino performance ratings improve September 19, 2013 10:19 pm by CATHERINE S. VALENTE REPORTER Three out of four Filipinos are satisfied with the Aquino administration’s performance, according to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey. The survey, conducted in end-June, noted that the administration scored a high public satisfaction rating, with 75 percent of adults satisfied, 16 percent ambivalent and nine percent dissatisfied with the government’s general performance. This translated to a “very good” net score of +66, higher than the “very good” +64 in September and November 2010. The SWS noted improvements in several issues, including providing basic elementary and high school education, helping the poor, defending the country’s territorial rights, promoting the welfare of overseas Filipino workers, providing jobs and foreign relations. The Aquino administration’s scores rose across all regions, and improved in Metro Manila by 10 percentage points and 14 percentage points in Balance Luzon. It scored a +61, “very good,” among the ABC class, +65, “very good” among Class D, and an “excellent” +71 among Class E. But the administration’s scores dropped in some issues, including reconciliation with rebel groups and eradicating graft and corruption. ”We are very happy that that survey came out,” Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said on Thursday. “These are perception numbers,” Lacierda said, “But then, this is a challenge for the government always, to do better than what we did.”‐performance‐ratings‐improve/41660/               

Malampaya charges filed next week September 19, 2013 10:18 pm by JORGE F. ZAMORA REPORTER The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is compiling the documents that will be presented before the Office of the Ombudsman when the Department of Justice (DOJ) files the second batch of criminal complaints over the misuse of Malampaya funds next week. The NBI has started photocopying the voluminous documents relating to the P900 million Malampaya fund scam. A source said they hope to file the criminal charges on Friday next week. The DOJ filed plunder charges against several senators, former congressmen and other personalities on Monday in connection with the release of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to non-government organizations controlled by Janet Lim Napoles. Four waist-high stacks of documents were being photocopied at the NBI on Thursday. Although the documents are not as voluminous as the papers supporting the plunder complaints, the source said it will also take hours to copy them. He said several government officials may also be charged. Millions of pesos from the fund are said to have been funneled in 2009 into shell NGOs run by Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the pork barrel scam, with the help of an official from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). But based on NBI findings and the testimony of witnesses, Napoles forged some of the signatures in the documents. The Malampaya fund was intended to help farmers stricken by typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng.” Benhur Luy, a former trusted aide of Napoles, claimed that they forged the signature of local officials in their request for assistance from DAR. Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda on Thursday said the Aquino government has been very “judicious” in disbursing the Malampaya funds. Lacierda said the funds, under the current government, were only used for energyrelated projects. ”Under this administration, we have focused and we have complied with the PD [Presidential Decree], which says the fund can only be used with energy and energyrelated matters,” Lacierda said. He said part of the money went to the electrification of villages, and it acquiring a Hamilton Class Cutter from the United States.

The ship “is essential for us to secure our energy resources,” Laciereda said. During the previous administration, “there were a lot of non-energy related projects,” he said The Malampaya funds—which he said amounted to P130 billion as of August— remained untouched. According to Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, the Aquino administration has spent about P15 billion of the funds to finance, among others, the P4 billion allocation for the diesel power generation sets for Mindanao and P2 billion for the Pantawid Pasada program. The fund comes from the proceeds of the Malampaya natural gas project that has been operating off Palawan since 2001. It has earned the government more than $4 billion in revenues. In a related development, the Bureau of Immigration issued a lookout bulletin for 35 people implicated in the pork barrel scam. The list, which was issued Wednesday, does not contain the names of the senators charged with plunder–Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla. “They were not included in the list as a courtesy to them because they are also part of a co-equal branch of government,” Immigration spokesman Angelica Pedro said. Persons in the list will not be prevented from leaving the country. “If anyone of them is seen leaving the country, we can only report their departure to the Department of Justice for monitoring purposes, but we cannot prevent them from leaving without a warrant or HDO (hold departure order) from the court,” she said. Pedro said that Jessica Lucila Gonzales Reyes, Enrile’s former chief of staff, is in the lookout bulletin. Reyes left the country a few days ago and has not returned. WITH A REPORT FROM CATHERINE VALENTE‐charges‐filed‐next‐week/41658/               

‘Odette’ set to howl through seven North Luzon areas September 19, 2013 9:56 pm by FRANCIS EARL A. CUETO STATE forecasters placed at least seven areas of Luzon under storm signals as Typhoon Odettte continued to pack strength and move toward Luzon before noon Thursday. Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) forecaster Alvin Pura said residents can expect possible heavy rains until Saturday, as Odette enhances the southwest monsoon. “Bukas at Sabado magiging mas maulap o maulan sa Metro Manila [We can expect cloudier skies and heavier rain in Metro Manila on Friday and Saturday],” Pura said in a radio interview. Pagasa also indicated Typhoon Odette may be out of the Philippine area of responsibility by Sunday morning. Pagasa’s 11 a.m. advisory said that as of 10 a.m., Odette continued to move towards Northern Luzon and was estimated at 610 kilometers (km) east of Tuguegarao City. It packed maximum winds of 140 kilometer per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 170kph, and is forecast to move west at 13kph. By Friday morning, it is expected to be 340km east of Aparri, Cagayan. By Saturday morning it is expected to be 80km south of Basco, Batanes. On Sunday morning, it is expected to be 310km west of Basco, Batanes outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility. Storm Signal No. 2 covers Cagayan, including Calayan and Babuyan Islands. Storm Signal No. 1 embraces Apayao, Ilocos Norte, Abra, Kalinga, Isabela, and Batanes. Pagasa said that Odette may bring rainfall of 15 to 20 mm per hour (heavy to intense) within its 600-km diameter. It warned residents in low-lying and mountainous areas under storm signals against possible flash floods and landslides. Also, it warned those living in coastal areas under Signal No. 2 to be alert against storm surges. Pagasa said Odette will continue to enhance the southwest monsoon, which will bring moderate to occasionally heavy rain and thunderstorms over Mimaropa, Western Visayas, Zambales and Bataan.

“Residents in these areas are advised to be alert against flash floods and landslides,” it said. It also said sea travel is risky over the seaboards of Occidental Mindoro and Palawan and over the eastern seaboard of Central and Southern Luzon and of Visayas. Meanwhile, at least three major dams in Luzon kept their spill gates open early Thursday as Odette continued to move closer to Northern Luzon. Pagasa said that as of 6 a.m. Thursday, Ambuklao and Binga in Benguet kept two gates open while Magat in Isabela kept one gate open. In its 6 a.m. update, Pagasa also noted water levels at Ambuklao, Ipo (Bulacan) and Pantabangan (Nueva Ecija) had risen. Ambuklao kept two gates open at one meter as its water level rose to 751.74 meters from 751.66 meters on Wednesday. Ambuklao’s high water level is 752 meters. Binga kept two gates open at 1.5 meters as its water level was at 573.61 meters, lower than the 573.80 meters on Wednesday. Binga’s high water level is 575 meters. Magat kept one gate open at two meters as its water level was at 191.19 meters, lower than 191.43 meters on Wednesday. Magat’s high water level is 190 meters. Pagasa forecaster Buddy Javier said their models indicate Odette is not likely to make landfall on the Philippines.‐set‐to‐howl‐through‐seven‐north‐luzon‐areas/41602/                         

MORE WOMEN TAKING UP TECH VOC COURSES September 19, 2013 9:55 pm The number of women taking technical vocational education and training is increasing, according to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda). Tesda director general Joel Villanueva on Thursday said that many women are taking up blue collar courses compared to their male counterpart. “What we can say right now is that there is almost equal distribution between male and female taking technical vocational courses. The number of women taking tech voc courses is growing,” Villanueva said.‐women‐taking‐up‐tech‐voc‐courses/41601/                                   

SK ELECTION POSTPONEMENT, DE FACTO SK ABOLITION’ September 19, 2013 9:55 pm by NEIL A. ALCOBER A MILITANT youth lawmaker on Thursday expressed “extreme reservations” over the rushed bill, saying that the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections postponement “does not address the fundamental issues hounding the SK as an institution.” “Mere postponement of the SK elections does not address the issue of the youth council being transformed into a breeding ground for corruption. Instead, if House Bill 2849 passes into law, the end effect would be de facto abolition of the youth’s elected representation in the local government,” Ridon said. The youth lawmaker explained that House Bill 2849 does not contain a “hold-over provision,” which means that there would be virtually no youth representative in the Sangguniang Barangay, Sangguniang Bayan, and the provincial council for the next three years if the SK election this October would be postponed.‐election‐postponement‐de‐facto‐sk‐abolition/41598/                         

US TREASURY ASEC. LAGO VISITS PH September 19, 2013 9:55 pm by BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON Marisa Lago, United States (US) Department of the Treasury Assistant Secretary for International Markets and Development, visited the Philippines this week to meet with key government and business leaders and ensure that the momentum of economic growth is being kept. A statement from the US Embassy in Manila said Lago was in the country to discuss economic growth and developments efforts in the region with top government officials and business leaders. While here, she met with Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco, US Ambassador Harry Thomas, as well as other government officials and business leaders.‐treasury‐asec‐lago‐visits‐ph/41595/                               

BSWM’S PROJECT ON CLIMATE CHANGE September 19, 2013 9:55 pm by JOLLY ANN PELLERO The Bureau of Soils and Waste Management (BSWM) is on its second year of implementing its P175-million project of helping agricultural extension workers and farmers cope with climate change. BSWM proposed project to National Agricultural and Fisheries Council (NAFC) titled, “Establishment of Agrometeorical Stations in Highly Vulnerable Agricultural Areas: A tool for Climate Adaptation and in the Development of Local Early Warning System (Agromet-CUM Climate Change). NAFC approved the project through the US PL480 or Food for Progress funds. The project aims to generate local weather data for immediate and long-term application of farmers, agricultural extension workers, researchers, investors, local planners and disaster mitigation managers.‐project‐on‐climate‐change/41589/                         

12 FISHERMEN ARRESTED FOR ILLEGAL FISHING September 19, 2013 9:54 pm by ROGELIO LIMPIN Twelve illegal fishermen were arrested by joint operation by Chief, Environmental Protection and Operations Division (COPS-EPOD) , the Cavite Provincial Government and Naic Municipal Police Station was conducted against illegal fishing activity in Naic, Cavite. The 12 illegal fishermen were led by :Antonieto Basaya y Catipay, 39 years old, Boat Captain together with fisherman, native of Cebu and a resident of 87 Oliveros St. Tangos Navotas City togetehr with his 11 crews; Jupeter Tantiado, Milod Agdol, Noli Magdali, Edem Villamater Edgar Casas, Roberto Codera, Junrey Aguilar, Benjamin Raboka, Edmun Vallente, Richard Candelario and Roger Puspus. At about 12 p.m. the suspects were caught in the act of illegal fishing in the vicinity of Naic River using a fine mess net on board in FB B/BOY 1 registered to Daniel Ybot of Navotas City. The fishing boat is now under the custody of COPS-EPOD while all the arrested persons are now under the custody of Naic Municipal Police Station for proper documentation.‐fishermen‐arrested‐for‐illegal‐fishing/41590/                         

Aquino to MNLF holdouts: Not yet too late to surrender September 19, 2013 5:43 pm President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Thursday called on the remaining Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) holding out in Zamboanga City to surrender. In an interview, the President said the government “demonstrated that it has enough force and is ready to wield it.” “It’s not too late (to surrender). For the remaining enemies, for me, life is valuable,” he added. He said some reports indicated that the MNLF had been planning to storm Zamboanga for about a year, and had been smuggling arms into the city as part of its preparations. Aquino said the government is ready to negotiate with the MNLF. The other factions of the group, he said, had already condemned the siege. CATHERINE S. VALENTE‐to‐mnlf‐holdouts‐not‐yet‐too‐late‐to‐surrender/41508/                           

Canadians, French warned against travelling to Mindanao September 19, 2013 5:09 pm

Canadian and French citizens have been cautioned to exercise a “high degree of caution” when traveling to Mindanao because of continuous threats to Westerners and Western interests, as well as the clash between a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and government forces in Zamboanga City. The French government issued its updated travel advisory regarding the “resurgence” of terrorist attacks in Mindanao on September 17. It noted the blasts in Cagayan de Oro City, Cotabato City and Midsayap since late July, and the recent clashes between the Nur Misuari-led faction of the MNLF and government forces. “Risk of violence exists on the entire Philippine territory, particularly in public places,” the advisory said. The French government advised its citizens to avoid Basilan, Jolo and Tawi-Tawi, in Sulu, Zamboanga Peninsula (Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay), Misamis Occidental, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato (except General Santos City) and Sarangani. “The use of means of transportation should be avoided in these areas,” the advisory added. Canada renewed its warning to its nationals about traveling to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, which consists of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao. It also cautioned its citizens against going to the Zamboanga peninsula, Sarangani, Lanao del Norte, Davao, North and South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat “due to the serious threat of terrorist attacks and kidnapping.” “Public shopping malls and western-based cafés in the region [southern Mindanao] are thought to have been monitored, as potential targets of interest, by individuals affiliated with extremist groups,” the Canadian advisory said. “Review your security situation and take appropriate precautions if you are visiting or living in this region, particularly when visiting places frequented by foreigners,” it added. BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON‐french‐warned‐against‐travelling‐to‐ mindanao/41499/    

US Fed decision should be positive for PH September 19, 2013 9:48 pm by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO REPORTER

The decision of the United States Federal Reserve to keep its quantitative easing (QE) stimulus program is seen as a positive action for the Philippines. “The Fed action should be positive for risk appetites for emerging markets, including the Philippines,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said in a text message to reporters on Thursday. Following its policy meeting, the Fed decided to postpone the winding down of its massive monetary stimulus, as it wanted to wait for more evidence of solid US economic growth. The Fed’s $85-billion-a-month Quantitative Easing program fueled an investment splurge in emerging Asia over the past year. Furthermore, Tetangco assured the public that the central bank will remain watchful of the development in the financial markets. “As is our policy, the BSP will maintain a presence in the foreign exchange market if, in our assessment, there is excessive exuberance in the financial markets especially today because of the unexpected Fed announcement. We will also remain watchful of developments in the real asset markets,” he said. The BSP governor also said that the Philippines has enough monetary measures to manage capital inflows, which is expected to surge because of the Fed’s latest move. “We have the macroprudential tools in place to manage surges in capital inflows, consistent with our price and financial stability objectives,” he noted. Tetangco added “to the extent the Fed action helps to ensure the incipient US growth is not derailed, it should also be positive for our own growth prospects.” Earlier, the BSP governor said that the monetary authority stands ready to make refinements to its existing macro prudential measures, or deploy new ones as necessary to preemptively address any potential risk of financial market imbalances. “We are also ready to make adjustments to the stance of policy, as the inflation outlook would allow, in order to support economic growth,” he said.‐fed‐decision‐should‐be‐positive‐for‐ph/41565/   

News of continued tapering ups peso September 19, 2013 9:47 pm by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO

The Philippine peso on Thursday closed on a stronger level as the United States Federal Reserve decided to postpone the tapering of its $85-billion-a-month quantitative (QE) easing program. The local currency finished P43.05 to a dollar, appreciating 48 centavos from the P43.53 a dollar level on Wednesday. The current level is within the government’s peso assumption of P41 a dollar to P43 a dollar range for the year. “Markets were overjoyed when the US Fed holds off the taper,” Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist at Banco de Oro, said. He also projected the peso to settle between the P43 a dollar and P43.25 a dollar range. For its part, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said that it will maintain a presence in the foreign exchange market to manage if there is “excessive exuberance” in the financial markets brought by unexpected Fed announcement. Meanwhile, stocks and currencies in emerging markets led an Asian rally on Thursday following the surprise decision by the Fed. The main beneficiaries of the news, however, were emerging economies, which have suffered a torrid few months on expectations the Fed will begin cutting down its bondbuying. India’s rupee was at 61.83 to the dollar, well up from the record levels above 69.00 seen at the start of September, while the greenback also fetched 30.92 Thai baht, compared with 32.45 baht a few weeks ago. The dollar fell to 1,071 Korean won, against the 1,150 won level touched over the summer. It also slipped to 11,090 Indonesian rupiah from 11,290 rupiah, although the greenback is still sitting around four-year highs. WITH AFP‐of‐continued‐tapering‐ups‐peso/41562/         

BOP posts $318-million deficit in August September 19, 2013 9:46 pm by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO The country’s balance of payments (BOP) recorded a deficit of $318 million in August this year, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed on Thursday. The deficit in the BOP was a reversal of the $582-million surplus recorded in August last year and of the $1.1-billion surplus in July 2013. The BOP summarizes the country’s economic transactions with the rest of the world during a period. It consists of the current account, the capital account and the financial account. A deficit is incurred when outflows of dollars exceed the inflows, while a surplus arises when inflows are greater than outflows. BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. sees the BOP deficit a thing and can be attributed to the uncertainties brought by the expectations on the future of United States Federal Reserve’s $85-billion-a-month quantitative easing. “Due to financial market volatility arising from the uncertainty about the Fed taper . . . Likely to be temporary . . .,” he said. Tetangco also said that as of now, the country is still on track of meeting the projected $4.4-billion BOP surplus this year. Meanwhile, the BSP data said that cumulative surplus from January to August this year amounted to about $3.36 billion, but lower than the $5.08-billion surplus recorded in the first eight months of 2012. BOP ended at a $9.2-billion surplus last year. A deficit in the BOP causes a drop in the country’s gross international reserves (GIR). The GIR are foreign assets that are readily available to and controlled by the central bank for direct financing of payments imbalances and for managing the magnitude of such imbalances. GIR consists of holdings of gold, special drawing rights, foreign investments and foreign exchange, including Reserve Position in the Fund. These assets are valued mark-tomarket. Higher GIR helps prop up the peso and keeps domestic inflation at bay. As of end-August, the country’s GIR level stood at $83.2 billion, while inflation for the same month recorded a four-year low of 2.1 percent, below the 3-percent to 5-percent target range of the BSP for 2013.‐posts‐318‐million‐deficit‐in‐august/41558/     

Sereno urges citizens: Take action By Ferdinand Fabella | Posted 9 hours ago | 1,062 views

Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno says President Aquino has ample constitutional powers to address the misuse of public funds and that it would help if the citizens do their bit and file complaints against erring public officials before the Ombudsman. Sereno said the Constitution empowers the people to take an active role and should not act as “mere bystanders” in making officials account for their deeds and for their use of public funds. Speaking at the Integrity Initiative Summit held at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel, the chief magistrate said that every Filipino has the right to be informed and it is enshrined in the bill of rights of the Philippine Constitution. Amid the scandal spawned by the pork barrel scam and other irregularities, Sereno said the public may file complaints, even anonymous complaints, with the Ombudsman. “Any citizen, with the endorsement of a legislator, may also initiate an impeachment complaint against the President, Vice-President, Justices of the Supreme Court, Members of the Constitutional Commissions and the Ombudsman,” Sereno said. Her immediate predecessor, Renato Corona, was impeached last March. On the President’s powers, Sereno said the executive department has, as its main weapon, the Commission on Audit, whose audit reports should be relied upon to check the fiscal performance of various government agencies. “The spectrum of (Aquino’s) actions he can perform under his ‘supervision and control’ powers is wide, and for this purpose, he can not only investigate administratively the performance of any executive department agency as a response to the report, he can execute personnel movements, and take all

necessary actions to protect government assets from misuse,” the chief justice pointed out. One of the (President’s) powers is the power to investigate instances of money laundering by tapping the Anti-Money Laundering Council , which has the authority to investigate and ask the Court of Appeals to freeze “dirty money” and file complaints with the Department of Justice and the Ombudsman. On the judiciary, Sereno said its role is only to adjudge guilt or innocence in the legal liability for misuse of public funds. “But it can only do so on the basis of the provisions of the Constitution or the law that are alleged to have been violated, and on the basis of the admissibility and the weight of the evidence that are before it,” the chief magistrate stressed. “If the action is civil, then only a preponderance of evidence is sufficient. If it is criminal, then the crime has to be proven beyond reasonable doubt,” she added.‐urges‐citizens‐take‐action/                           

‘Endgame’ Fire burns for ageing Misuari By AFP | Posted 9 hours ago | 742 views

Nur Misuari, a charismatic Muslim leader who set the Philippines’ south ablaze with rebellion decades ago, is back doing what he does best after a less-than-successful fling with peace. At the age of 71, the former academic is orchestrating a stand-off in the southern port city of Zamboanga that has claimed more than 100 lives and put him back in the national spotlight. “We don’t want to be part of the Philippines anymore,” Misuari told supporters in his Jolo island stronghold on August 12 as he declared himself the president of the “Bangsamoro Republik” and railed against national government authorities. “Their presence in our homeland is illegal, unlawful, illicit. They should pack up and leave.” A firebrand orator from an influential clan of the Tausug, a warrior-like seafaring tribe, Misuari rallied thousands of fellow Muslims in the early 1970s to take up arms for a separate state in the southern Philippines. He was continuing a tradition for Muslims in the south of the mostly Catholic Philippines who had for centuries resisted outside Christian rule — whether that be Spanish, American or Filipino. Misuari was a young political science professor at Manila’s prestigious University of the Philippines when he established the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to launch a war for independence. The conflict, which eventually took on other forms with the emergence of other rebel groups, has gone on to claim about 150,000 lives. Misuari went into Middle East exile after a 1976 truce, then returned a decade later following the fall of dictator Ferdinand Marcos to begin negotiations with democratic governments in Manila. He eventually agreed to a peace pact in 1996, with the MNLF laying down its arms in return for self-rule in parts of the southern Philippines and Misuari as the autonomous region’s governor. But life for Misuari as a bureaucrat and politician would prove to be far less successful than as a revolutionary leader.

As head of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), he was finally in a position to help alleviate devastating poverty, corruption and violence in the south, and work to end the oppression that the millions of Muslims there feel. Instead, he established a reputation among the political elite, the national media and some Muslims as an aloof administrator who was more concerned about his own interests. They argue he wasted the hundreds of millions of dollars in development funds he controlled. “Some say he blew his chance, that he did not perform well, that he did not deliver, that he failed his people,” Jesus Dureza, who advised two past Philippine presidents on Muslim issues, told AFP. The governor was notorious for spending most of his time away, including weeks at a time with a large retinue at plush Manila hotels or on Middle East tours, said Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Manila-based Institute for Political and Electoral Reform. Nevertheless, Misuari undoubtedly retains some support and influence.‐burns‐for‐ageing‐misuari/ 


Migrante: Zero remittance observed in 23 countries By Sara Susanne D. Fabunan | Posted 10 hours ago | 553 views

At least 300 Filipino migrant organizations from 23 countries around the world participated on the Zero Remmitance Day on Thursday even as local groups prepared for another protest rally against the pork barrel system and corruption in the government. According to Migrante International, overseas Filipino workers from Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Malaysia, Macau, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, South Korea, United Kingdom, Austria, Netherlands, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the US joined in the protest. “This is just the beginning, and families of overseas Filipinos are with us until the pork barrel system is abolished, those involved in the pork barrel scam are prosecuted, and systemic changes in government are implemented to eradicate the rotten culture of patronage politics and corruption,” the group’s chairman Gary Martinez said in a statement. “More global protests are coming and OFWs are geared for longer Zero Remittance Days in the next weeks,” Martinez added, admitting that they could not immediately quantify how much money was withheld on Thursday but they will release an assessment shortly. Migrante International released the statement after Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda again tried to discourage Filipinos overseas from participating in the protest action against the misuse of taxpayers’ monies. “This is a free country. If they choose not to remit, it’s their right not to remit. Our point is simply, who will be affected if they do not remit? The first to be affected will be their relatives,” Lacierda said. But lawyer Edwin dela Cruz, one of the convenors of the anti-pork barrel group Overseas Filipinos Demand Abolition of Pork (Depork), said efforts to dissuade Filipinos from anti-pork actions have all failed as shown by the support of various groups.

“Some have tried but failed to belittle overseas Filipinos’ participation in the Zero Remittance Day by saying that it will not have an effect on the economy, or that families are not supportive of today’s global protest,” said Dela Cruz of the International Seafarers Action Center. “[But] the mere fact that they have taken so much trouble to undermine the outrage and unity of overseas Filipinos around the world is a clear testament that our message has cut across,” he added. Another Deport convenor, Lito Soriano, said OFWs and their families must unite so they can match their economic power with political influence. “OFWs have long been the ‘sleeping elephant in the room’. But today, Filipinos around the world are marking their protest against the pork barrel system and corruption in government,” Soriano said. Aside from Martinez, Dela Cruz and Soriano, other Depork convenors are former Philippine Overseas Employment Administration lawyer Carlos Cao, former labor secretary Marianito Roque, retired commodore Dante Jimenez of the Philippine Association of Maritime Institutions and founding president of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, Migrante Partylist chairwoman Connie Bragas-Regalado, Rev. Mirasol Villalon from the National-in-mission for Victims of Human Trafficking, OFWs and their Families-United Methodist Church and Bishop Bart Espartero of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente.‐zero‐remittance‐observed‐in‐23‐ countries/               

Rice mess sparks call for AgriNFA shakeup By Rey E. Requejo | Posted 10 hours ago | 134 views

President Benigno Aquino III has been urged to replace Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and to revamp the Department of Agriculture and the National Food Authority amid reports of continued overpricing and supply shortage to justify the costly importation of rice. “It appears now that reforms in the DA and the NFA cannot be done piecemeal. The entire bureaucracy must be revamped to put an end to the malpractices of DA and NFA officials,” lawyer Argee Guevarra said in an interview. “It should start with Secretary Alcala, because he has failed his bosses and he has misreported to the President just to hold on to his position,” he added. Guevarra earlier exposed a P400 million overprice in the rice importation contract entered into by the government with Vietnam, a portion of which was covered by the MOLSO provision or More Or Less at Supplier’s Option. He chided the NFA for the anomalous contract, saying MOLSO could also mean “More Or Less Still Overpriced” rice. Based on DA documents, the government purchased 205,700 metric tons from Vietnam in April, of which 18,700 metric tons were bought under the MOLSO provision, and without any prior approval from the Department of Finance – Fiscal Incentive Review Board. Guevarra also called on the President to crack the whip on Alcala for acting like a “sanggano (goon)” or a political warlord when the latter threatened him during a television debate for ABS-CBN’s Umagang Kay Ganda on Wednesday. “After the debate, he shook my outstretched hand. His eyes glared, agitation in his voice, and told me: Remember, I have a hold of my balls from morning until night,” Guevarra recalled.

Guevarra said Alcala also shouted at him repeatedly, saying “What do you want? Just tell me what you want.” “It was very shocking. It was so unbecoming of an alter ego of the president to act that way,” the lawyer said. “ABS-CBN staff escorted me out to safety because they felt there was a threat to my person. (Television host) Anthony Taberna even brought me to my car because Alcala’s aides might be waiting for me,” Guevarra said. Guevarra described Alcala’s outburst as “very brazen.” “If he can do it in front of media people, how much more rude and threatening can he behave in front of his own people?” A poll held during the debate also showed that 55 percent of the program’s viewers wanted Alcala to resign amid allegations of persistent rice price hikes, and the DA’s inability to meet its production targets.‐mess‐sparks‐call‐for‐agri‐nfa‐shakeup/                         

Ortega boosts urban farming By MST News | Posted 10 hours ago | 120 views

San Fernando City Mayor Pablo Ortega joins the harvest of organically raised vegetables on Sept. 18, 2013 in Barangay Bangbangolan. CHRISTINE JUNIO San Fernando City — Mayor Pablo Ortega led Wednesday’s harvest in Barangay Bangbangolan to promote organic vegetable raising, agricultural office coordinator Joan Pasca said. At least 33 participants have signed up for the 16-week training on a 1,000-square meter garden to apply best practices in urban farm management on experimental modules. “I demonstrated to the farmers different treatments for plants on every plot,” she said, pointing to the neatly laid out rows of plants. Ortega was joined by Vice Mayor Herminigildo Gualberto and Councilor Ramon Laudencia at the site devoted to crops that can be raised in the backyard for household consumption–ampalaya, eggplant, squash, pepper, tomato and okra . Pasca said the trainees worked on demontration plots using the traditional practice, urea or NPK (nitrogen+phosphorus+potassium), organic through compost, and combined nutrients. To complement soil management, she said the training from June 7 to Sept. 27 also introduced companion or cover plants such as marigold for natural pest control along with concoctions based on oregano and lemon grass as safe insect repellants to replace toxic commercial pesticides.

There’s no better endorsement than one coming from the farmers themselves who told Pasca that organically grown crops tasted better. La Union’s urban hub has all the buzz of a metropolis but city folk still manage to make the best of its land and the abundant West Philippine Sea.‐boosts‐urban‐farming/                                         

Stay water rate increase—Mayor By Robert A. Evora | Posted 10 hours ago | 69 views

Calapan City — Mayor Arnan Panaligan called on Calapan Water Corp. to hold its rate increase in October “for humanitarian consideration.” He told reporters Wednesday “there is no more way to file a temporary restraining order to stop the the Calapan Water from implementing the new rates except to negotiate with the firm’s management.” The Water Regulatory Board allowed Calapan Water led by Jolly Ting a P321-charge for the first 10 cubic meters for households and P1,605-minimum charge for the first 25 cubic meters for commercial and industrial consumers. City Administrator Adel Abas echoed the appeal saying that since “water is a basic necessity of the people, Mr. Ting might just as well remunerate the water rate fees for humanitarian consideration.” The NWRB, through Executive Director Vicente Paragas, authorized Calapan Water to adjust its rate being “technicaly, legally, financially qualified to operate and maintain the subject waterworks system” and “there is no oppositor on record to this case.” Panaligan said the “unopposed water rates increases” were during the past administration on Feb. 16, 2009 and May 26, 2010. He said the choice now was either to appeal deferrment “or negotiate the reduction of its component fees, such as the P4,300-reactivation fee after disconnection.” But Panaligan said the city government was sticking to its opposition to drilling new wells in Barangay Isabel as he urged tapping other sources. As approved, after the 25-cubic meter minimum charge for commercial and industrial consumers the rate is P118 per cubic meter from 26 to 1,000 cubic meters; in excess, P133.60 per cubic meter will apply.

Cheap imports of flour continue By Othel V. Campos | Posted 10 hours ago | 108 views

Bakers can continue using cheap imported flour until the Christmas season, as the Tariff Commission has not issued a decision on the anti-dumping petition against the Turkish commodity, a trader said Thursday. “Because of this development, we may continue importing flour for the holiday season. And we see no reason for an upward movement in the price of bread,� said Ernesto Chua, owner of flour trading company Malabon Long Life Inc. Chua said the situation would ensure a predictable price situation for bakers and consumers. Flour prices, he said, would remain at P620 per 25-kilo bag of soft flour and P720 per 25-kilo bag of hard flour. Chua, who is also the president of the Philippine-Turkey Business Council, told reporters the Agriculture Department decided to inhibit from the anti-dumping case filed by local flour millers against Turkish imports. A letter obtained from the Agriculture Department dated Sept. 4 showed Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala accommodated the request of a bakers group to refrain from announcing forward-looking statements to avoid influencing the decision of the Tariff Commission. Flour millers said last week the case was now with the Tariff Commission.

Posted on September 19, 2013 11:34:28 PM By Ann Rozainne R. Gregorio, Reporter

Borrowing shift eyed  

THE GOVERNMENT could offer long-tenored Treasury bonds in the fourth quarter, shifting from an initial plan to sell short-term bonds, after the US Federal Reserve unexpectedly decided to maintain its massive stimulus program.  

“[W]e will take a look at the long-end of the curve,” National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon said in a text message yesterday, noting that the “Fed’s decision could mean that rates can stay low.” Long-tenored Treasury bonds are government securities with a life of 10 years or more. Earlier this month, Ms. de Leon said the Treasury was inclined to issue shortdated T-bonds -- which could include five- and seven-year tenors -- as investors were avoiding “duration risk” as interest rates would start to rise with a tapering of the US Fed’s $85 billion monthly bond-buying program. The Bureau of the Treasury is scheduled to release it fourth quarter borrowing program next week. The volume and frequency of next quarter’s T-bill and T-bond issuances would “likely be maintained” from the third quarter, Ms. de Leon said. The government said it would raise P20 billion from T-bill auctions and P30 billion from T-bond auctions this quarter, both unchanged from the second quarter’s issue volume. With regard to tapping offshore markets next year for its commercial borrowings, Ms. de Leon said: “We will have to watch market developments

in the meantime.� The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) -- the policymaking body of the US central bank -- yesterday maintained the pace of the stimulus program and kept interest rates at near zero, saying it was looking for added signs of an economic recovery. The market had expected the Fed to begin tapering its bond purchases by at least $10 billion this month. Uncertainties over the timing and pace of the Fed’s bond-buying program have caused massive outflows in emerging markets, the Philippines included. Markets worldwide rose on news of the Fed move, although analysts cautioned that the relief could be temporary.

Posted on September 19, 2013 08:35:32 PM

Peso hits three-month high  

THE PESO soared to a three-month high against the greenback yesterday as the US Federal Reserve decided to hold off from tapering its stimulus program. The local currency further appreciated to P43.05 per dollar yesterday, gaining 48 centavos from its P43.53-per-dollar finish on Wednesday. It was the peso’s strongest performance since June 17 when it closed at P42.875 against the greenback. It has traded within the P43:$1 to P44:$1 band since then. “There was risk appetite among investors because of the decision of the Fed,” a trader said in a phone interview. The US central bank stunned financial markets worldwide by postponing the tapering of its $85-billion monthly bond-buying program. It was widely expected to cut the stimulus by $10-15 billion in its policy meeting which concluded yesterday. Monetary officials said they decided to wait until there were clearer signs the world’s largest economy was strong enough before dialing back the stimulus. “Because they delayed the tapering, almost all currencies rallied against the dollar,” another trader said. Both traders said the peso could strengthen even further this week or next, allowing it to breach the P42:$1 level for the first time in three months. The US economy still has a lot to prove before the Fed can trim its bond buys, the second trader said. “Economic data should be consistent before they can do the tapering,” the

trader explained, adding that the reduction could start in December instead. The non-farm payrolls released by the US Labor Department showed that only 169,000 new jobs were created in August, lower than the expected 180,000. While the unemployment rate eased to 7.3% last month, it was still far away from the 6.5% target of the Fed. Meanwhile, housing starts registered at only 891,000 units in August, far less than the 930,000 units expected by the market. The peso is expected to trade against the dollar within the P42.75 to P43.00 range today. Dollars traded rose to $1.567 billion yesterday from $777 million on Wednesday.

Posted on September 19, 2013 10:08:46 PM

Fishing ban sought for Davao Gulf DAVAO CITY -- Two government agencies are proposing a ban on commercial fishing in the Davao Gulf amid complaints of depleted fishing grounds.  The Departments of Agriculture and Interior and Local Government have proposed, as an initial point of discussion, that the ban start next year. The proposal, which will be submitted to the National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council, came about after Barog Katawhan sa Governor Generoso, a peoples’ organization, submitted it to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Davao Region. Governor Generoso is a fishing town in Davao Oriental. Fisherman Jerson R. Rivas, who hails from the town, said commercial fishing has become the biggest threat to small fishers like him because they cannot compete with big boats equipped with new technologies. Compostela Valley Governor Arturo T. Uy, three of whose towns would be affected by the ban, said that everything must be first considered before it is implemented. “We must first study its impact before we impose it,” Mr. Uy told BusinessWorld in a text message. Under the proposed ban, a closed season between May and October would be implemented for five years to strengthen the rehabilitation of the resources. A closed season would also ban commercial fishing during the period. “The commercial fishing exerts high fishing pressure, with most fish caught before length at first maturity,” the proposal said.

It defined commercial fishing as “taking of fishery species by passive or active gear for trade, business or profit beyond subsistence or sports fishing.” Jose A. Villanueva, BFAR National Stock Assessment Project leader, said that based on an official report, fish sizes caught within the gulf have decreased as fish fail to reach their “first sexual maturity stage, which implies either overfishing or recruitment overfishing exists.” The BFAR regional office noted that municipal fishing, or fishing within municipal waters, will continue to decline unless measures are adopted to arrest the problem. Under Republic Act 8550, municipal fishing is defined as fishing with municipal waters with fishing vessels of three gross tons. Municipal waters, on the other hand, aside from rivers, lakes, streams and other inland bodies of water, are “marine waters included between two lines drawn perpendicular to the general coastline from points where the boundary lines of the municipality touch the sea at low tide and a third line parallel with the general coastline including offshore islands and fifteen (15) kilometers from such coastline.” Based on a report from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, commercial fishery production in the region saw an increase of 8.22% between 2011 and 2012 while municipal fishery declined 13.97%. -- C.Q. Francisco

Posted on September 19, 2013 10:08:21 PM

Davao inventors to ship coco oil to Korea DAVAO CITY -- A group of local inventors claiming to have improved technology for processing virgin coconut oil (VCO) is set to supply South Korea with the product soon.  “We have long been asked by other countries to supply them with VCO, but we have not passed their standard since our product becomes rancid after sometime, but now, we have perfected the technology,” Virgilio M. Sangutan, Davao Inventors Association executive vice-president, said. The group is composed of around 40 active inventor-entrepreneurs. VCO is the natural oil that comes from fresh coconut and requires proper mechanical extraction to reach export quality. It has health benefits and is highly in demand in various industries worldwide. “This is where we have failed before, so we improved our process for the past three years and succeeded only now,” Mr. Sangutan said. According to him, VCO is highly in demand in South Korea because it is used in the Korean cosmetics industry. Within two months, he said, the inventors’ group is set to send an initial one container van or an estimated 10 metric tons of VCO to South Korea. “Our customer has already placed an order for the VCO, which we will send by November this year,” Mr. Sangutan said. A liter of VCO here can cost up to P200, he added. Romeo Montenegro, Mindanao Development Authority director for investments and promotion, said that copra remains Mindanao’s top dollar earner, with a 21.26% share of the island’s total exports, as of 2012. MINDANAO INVENTORS

Mr. Sangutan rued the lack of support from the government and said: “Mindanao’s inventors could accomplish more with enough support from TAPI.” The Technology Application and Promotion Institute is under the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) and was created in 1987, primarily to promote and market locally developed technologies. Mr. Sangutan said that TAPI was very active in promoting local technologies during the time of DoST Secretary William G. Padolina (1994-1999). However, TAPI does not have an office in Mindanao, and inventors have to go all the way to Manila when they need help, Mr. Sangutan said. He also noted that, five years ago, DoST had an event for Mindanao inventors twice a year. Now, he said, that has been reduced to once every two years. The local inventors’ group is set to conduct the Regional Inventors Contest and Exhibit on November 23, but DoST can only allot a P30,000 budget for it and will not pay for the venue, Mr. Sangutan said. “Not once have we met with the new DoST Secretary (Mario G. Montejo) ever since he took over,” he also said. The Davao inventors’ group, under its president, Dr. Randell U. Espina, is pushing for the passage of an ordinance that will establish the Davao City Research, Innovation and Livelihood Training Center to provide an alternative not only to aspiring inventors but also to other sectors. “Once established, the Center will provide technical, innovation and commercialization support to the new graduates, the unemployed and the out-of-school youth,” Mr. Sangutan said. He considers this a proactive approach as that Davao City is growing, and the population is increasing as people migrate here, creating unemployment. “Our mindset is to look for a job after school, but this time we are training young people to look into the possibility of going into entrepreneurship,” he added.

Mr. Espina earlier said inventors also need training before they can avail of TAPI’s loan and patent applications. He also said that inventors must also be entrepreneurs, so their ideas can become products needed by the market. -- Carmencita A. Carillo

Posted on September 19, 2013 10:07:57 PM

US Treasury rep visits Philippines AN OFFICIAL of the United States Treasury department visited the country this week to meet with government officials and private sector representatives on economic developments in the Philippines.  The US Embassy in Manila yesterday said in a statement that Marisa Lago, US Treasury assistant secretary for international markets and development, met with economic managers and business leaders while in the country. “These meetings focused on the government’s economic reform agenda, recent macroeconomic developments, and the Aquino administration’s vision to further economic growth,” it said. Officials Ms. Lago met with included senior economic officials like Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr., as well as US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas, Jr. Asked about the agenda of the meetings, Mr. Tetangco said in a text message: “It was essentially a meeting to exchange views on current global developments and the Philippines’ economic performance.” “Strong economic leadership in the Philippines is helping to ensure that reform momentum is sustained,” Ms. Lago was quoted as saying in the statement. “The Philippines has an exceptional opportunity to sustain robust growth by attracting higher levels of foreign direct investment,” she said. The US Embassy said that during these meetings, Ms. Lago also reaffirmed

the US Treasury’s support for the Partnership for Growth (PFG), including assistance by the department’s Office of Technical Assistance. The PFG is a bilateral agreement between the US and selected countries to provide resources to address economic growth and development constraints. During her stay in Manila, Ms. Lago also visited the Asian Development Bank (ADB) -- where the United States is one of the largest shareholders -- and met with ADB President Takehiko Nakao, ADB Executive Director Ambassador Robert M. Orr, and other bank officials. The US Treasury official also went to host sites of ADB-supported development projects in the country. Following her Philippines trip, the official will travel to Indonesia for today’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Finance Ministers’ meeting, the US Embassy said. -- Bettina Faye V. Roc

Posted on September 19, 2013 10:07:07 PM

DTI craft fair starts THE DEPARTMENT of Trade and Industry (DTI) yesterday kicked off its second Sikat Pinoy fair to promote Philippine handicrafts and provide small entrepreneurs some opportunities.  The Sikat Pinoy National Handicrafts Fair aims to “help small businesses from different regions of the country promote their products at the national level,” DTI Secretary Gregory L. Domingo said in his opening speech, at the official launch at SM Megatrade Hall. Over 300 exhibitors will present their products at the fair, which will last until Sept. 23. – DEDS‐craft‐fair‐ starts&id=76756                       

Posted on September 19, 2013 10:09:11 PM

Higher WB business ease rank seen WITH government reforms to simplify procedures, the country hopes to improve its ranking after last year’s fall in an annual ease of doing business list by the World Bank (WB), officials yesterday said.  “We [the Philippines] deserve at least plus 20 to 25 improvement from last year’s rank,” National Competitiveness coChairman Guillermo M. Luz said during yesterday’s Ease of Doing Business press conference in Makati. Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo shared this sentiment and said: “I am confident that we will be in the 60s [range] by 2016 given all these reforms.” The Doing Business report released by the WB and International Finance Corp. last year said that the Philippines slid to 138th out of 185 economies from the previous year’s 136th out of 183 as the country posted lower scores in seven of ten indicators monitored. Mr. Luz, however, said reforms have already been implemented in the areas where the country registered low scores. He said, for example, that the process of starting a business has been reduced to 11 steps and 11 days from 16 steps and 36 days. Dealing with construction permits has also been cut down to 17 steps and 61 days from the previous 29 steps and 84 days. Getting electricity for a business has likewise become easier, from five steps and 50 days to four steps and 36 days. It will also now take a business 23 days to register a property from the previous 39 days.

Mr. Luz hopes that with all these reforms, the Philippines will advance in this year’s Doing Business report. Asked how the standoff in Zamboanga between government forces and rebels will affect the country’s bid for a higher spot, Mr. Luz said: “The conflict in Zamboanga City is very recent. Data gathering for this year’s report was done from June 2012 to June 2013.” “What is important is how that situation is going to be handled. The government should show that the law is being enforced. If we look at overall perspective, it is just a glitch. It doesn’t affect country stability as a whole. The country continues to be stable and even in Zamboanga City businesses are starting again,” he added. Similarly, Mr. Domingo described the situation as a temporary setback. “The Zamboanga case is just a hiccup. Once the situation starts to stabilize in 2-3 months, it will basically be forgotten. I will not deny that there may be negative effects, but they will just be temporary.” Members of a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) identified with Nur Misuari have clashed with authorities since Sept. 9 while holding scores of civilians as hostages. A statement from city hall’s hostage processing team, however, said that at least 145 hostages have been freed as of Sept. 17. Estimates placed the number of civilian hostages in the early days of the conflict at 180. -- Daryll Edisonn D. Saclag‐WB‐business‐ ease‐rank‐seen&id=76762         

Posted on September 19, 2013 10:13:10 PM

Oil spill cleanup to be completed this month CEBU CITY -- Transport solutions provider 2GO Group, Inc. targets to clean up the oil slick from its sunken passenger ferry by the end of this month.  

Calvin Rosellosa, manager of the group’s shipping brand 2GO Travel, said siphoning of oil from the fuel tanks of the sunken M/V St. Thomas Aquinasis proceeding smoothly. “We are now on the last five tanks of fuel. We expect to complete the oil cleanup by the end of the month,” he said. The company contracted a Japanese tugboat through Malayan Towage, Inc. to draw out the remaining oil from the sunken passenger vessel. The ferry had 20,000 liters of diesel fuel and 120,000 liters of bunker or crude fuel in its fuel tank. It also has 20,000 liters of lube oil that were being used by the engines when it sank shortly after colliding with cargo vessel M/V Sulpicio Express Siete last Aug. 16. The oil leak from the ferry spread northwards, affecting the cities of LapuLapu and the municipality of Cordova on Mactan Island. Meanwhile, Mr. Rosellosa said they have set aside P300,000 for the mass burial of 47 unidentified victims on Sept. 25. “The proposed amount does not yet cover the cost of the lot at Carreta. We will also pay for the use of the land,” Mr. Rosellosa said, referring to the

Carreta public cemetery. The victims of a past ship disaster -- the sinking of M/V Princess of the Stars in 2008 -- were also buried in the same cemetery, which is owned by the Archdiocese of Cebu. He also said they were preparing for the procession of the bodies to the cemetery. “There’s a belief among Christians that the bodies must be all brought to the cemetery in one procession. We will have to arrange the necessary vehicles and logistics for that,” he added. The 47 unidentified victims were among the 116 fatalities in the sinking of M/V St. Thomas Aquinas following the collision last Aug. 16. Twenty-one people remained unaccounted for as of Sept. 17. The ferry, which was on its way to Cebu Port from Mindanao, had carried 870 people. -- John Paolo G. Bago‐spill‐cleanup‐to‐be‐ completed‐this‐month&id=76774                       

Esquivel spent P88M for MWSS consultants, breaches budget by P121M Written by  Tribune   Friday, 20 September 2013 08:00   Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Administrator Gerardo Esquivel is certainly proving to be a big spender of public funds and a big violator of the law in spending public monies. Also, Esquivel and his board members overshot their budget by P121 million as the records show. A 2012 Commission on Audit report showed that Esquivel and his board members spent an exorbitant, disallowed staggering P88 million for some 46 MWSS consultants, just in one year. In its audit report for 2012, the CoA said MWSS had spent P88.850 million for calendar year 2012. Worse, the consultancy services were not properly documented since their contracts were signed only the following year. MWSS union leaders have been pointing this out even before the CoA report was out, listing the many violations of the law by Esquivel and his board, and the hiring of consultants who were obviously redundant, since there are enough personnel in the Waterworks agency who were also doing the same tasks that the hired consultants were supposed to be doing. An MWSS insider told the Tribune that the MWSS management “was so corrupt,” adding that it would not be a surprise to later find out that the funds may have been pocketed by the officials — including the budget overshot of some P121 million. In fact. there has been a graft case filed against Esquivel before the Ombudsman. But as Esquivel is an ally and friend of President Aquino, he has not been touched by the Ombudsman. “Included in the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses for CY 2012 are obligations for Consultancy Services contracts in the amount of P88,850,000.00. “Verification revealed that Journal Voucher was not supported with documents to support the accrual of consultancy services, and that the Consultancy Services contracts for Rate Rebasing and Valuation of Assets and Review and Authentication of the Concessionaire’s Asset Condition Report were signed only on March 1, 2013 and March 8, 2013, respectively,” the CoA said. The CoA said recording of the obligation a year later is in violation of PD 1445 or the auditing code of the Philippines. In addition, the state audit agency said the procurement of the consultancy service contracts by

the regulatory office was not included the approved budget by the Department of Budget and Management. Because of the staggering amount, it exceeded the agency’s operation budget by P121 million. “Contrary to the above Management explanation, the procurement of the said consultancy service contracts was not included in the DBM approved Corporate Operating Budget of the Regulatory. “As stated in Comments and Observations, actual expenditures exceeded the DBM approved operating budget by P121 million and the bulk of the variance was largely due to the excess expenditure for Consultancy services in the amount of P88.85 million,” the CoA said. The MWSS, led by its Administrator Esquivel, has been under fire for getting into a hiring binge of consultants since he took office in 2011. The CoA had said Esquivel’s hiring of 42 consultants was excessive and illegal. It declared that just like the consultants hired by Esquivel in 2011, the consultants he hired in 2012 were brought in without public bidding as required under RA 9184. The auditors also said they were hired despite a moratorium on the hiring of casuals or contractuals, including personnel on consultancy/emergency job order basis in all government agencies whose Rationalization Plan has not been approved as provided under Executive Order No. 366. Moreover, the auditors said the hiring of the consultants is redundant because “there are available MWSS personnel who can perform the designated duties and responsibilities of the hired consultants, negating the necessity of hiring.” The MWSS’ anomalies report as stated in the CoA audit has gotten the attention of Abakada Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz who had earlier scored the failure of MWSS to give up perks and other financial privileges which have been the object of public criticisms a few years back. De la Cruz, a member of the independent minority bloc noted that despite having been appointed among the poster boys of the Aquino administration reform agenda, MWSS officials turned out to be be no different from the previous MWSS management and “just as corrupt as it was before.” CoA has also disclosed that the MWSS board granted allowances and other financial perks to the water agency’s officials and employees even in the absence of a presidential approval. De la Cruz also noted that the MWSS Labor Association (MLA) has already filed a complaint for graft and corrupt practices against MWSS administrator Esquivel for hiring 36 consultants and 162 job order personnel. He is calling for a full-blown investigation on this matter by Congress.‐esquivel‐spent‐p88m‐for‐ mwss‐consultants‐breaches‐budget‐by‐p121m   

Aquino gets pat on back with outdated SWS poll Written by  Gerry Baldo   Friday, 20 September 2013 08:00  

Before the State of the Nation Address (Sona) of Aquino in July which many found to contain nothing more than a rehash of achievement claims and more promises, and also even prior to Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Nur Misuari unilaterally declaring independence for the Bangsamoro Republik which led to the Zamboanga City siege. The failure of the government to immediately respond to Misuari’s move was believed to have resulted in the MNLF to build up their resolve for armed hostilities. Malacanang immediately welcomed the SWS back pat of the Aquino before the State of the Nation Address (Sona) of Aquino in July which many found to contain nothing more than a rehash of achievement claims and more promises, and also even prior to Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Nur Misuari unilaterally declaring independence for the Bangsamoro Republik which led to the Zamboanga City siege. The failure of the government to immediately respond to Misuari’s move was believed to have resulted in the MNLF to build up their resolve for armed hostilities. Malacañang immediately welcomed the SWS back pat of the Aquino administration saying his administration will continue to remain focused on attaining inclusive growth as well as fighting corruption. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said they are glad that the recent SWS survey result came out, noting the result was no longer news to the Palace. “We have already said we were happy in June, we will always be happy if the numbers are up. But then this is a challenge for the government to always do better than what we did,” Lacierda said. “Regardless of what the numbers will be, the government is focused on addressing inclusive growth and addressing corruption in the country,” he added. The survey was also held before the public protests built up over the pork barrel system in the government and the widespread demand for the removal of all discretionary funds in the budget, not only the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of legislators but Aquino’s own lump sum funds such as the Presidential Social Fund (PSF) and the Special Purpose Fund (SPF). The Palace said that the Aquino administration’s high public satisfaction rating was

equivalent to three out of four Filipinos satisfied with the Aquino’s administration’s performance. The high ratings also belied the ranting of the leftist groups that President Aquino is involved in wrongdoing relative to the misuse of the PDAF or the President’s own lump sum funds, according to Aquino’s allies in the House of Representatives. They said Aquino’s stand against corruption has weathered all criticisms about his government amid the controversy relative to the P10-billion Napoles scam. “The recent filing of cases against three senators and several congressmen is a concrete proof of the president’s campaign against graft and corruption and also public accountability,” Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga said yesterday despite the survey antedating even the uncovering of the pork barrel scam engineered by Janet Lim Napoles. He said that the assurances of the Department of Justice that more charges will be filed against legislators reinforce the public’s trust and confidence to the president. Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Rodel Batocabe said that the high ratings of the president was due to his no-nonsense style of leadership.‐aquino‐gets‐pat‐on‐back‐with‐ outdated‐sws‐poll                           

Lawyer denounces DA chief as ‘bully’ Written by  Benjamin B. Pulta   Friday, 20 September 2013 08:00  

A civil rights advocate has warned that only a full overhaul of the leadership in the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Food Authority (NFA) can stop the continued overpriced importation of rice. “It appears now that reforms in the DA and the NFA cannot be done piecemeal. The entire bureaucracy must be revamped to put an end to the malpractices of DA and NFA officials,” lawyer Argee Guevarra yesterday noted. “It should start with (Agriculture) Secretary (Proceso) Alcala because he has failed his bosses (the masses) and has misreported to the President just to hold on to his position,” he added. Guevarra had earlier exposed a P400-million overprice in the rice importation contract entered into by the government with Vietnam, a portion of which was covered by the MOLSO provision or “More Or Less at Supplier’s Option.” He also scored the NFA for the anomalous contract, saying MOLSO could also mean “More Or Less Still Overpriced” rice. Based on DA documents, the government purchased 205,700 metric tons from Vietnam in April, of which 18,700 metric tons were bought under the MOLSO provision, and without any prior approval from the Department of Finance-Fiscal Incentive Review Board. The product was purchased at $459 or P19,762.95 per metric ton. But Guevarra said the prevailing market price in Vietnam when the deal was made was only $360 per metric ton or P15,480. The lawyer also called on President Aquino to crack the whip on Alcala for acting like a “goon” or a political warlord when the latter threatened him during a television debate last Wednesday.

“After the debate, he shook my outstretched hand. His eyes glared, agitation in his voice, and told me: ‘Remember, I have a hold of my balls from morning until night,’” Guevarra recalled. He said Alcala also shouted at him repeatedly, saying “What do you want? Just tell me what you want.” “It was very shocking. It was so unbecoming of an alter ego of the President to act that way,” the lawyer said. Guevarra described Alcala’s outburst as “very brazen.” “If he can do it in front of media people, how much more rude and threatening can he behave in front of his own people?” A poll held during the debate also showed that 55 percent of the program’s viewers wanted Alcala to resign amid allegations of corruption, persistent rice price increases and the DA’s inability to meet its self-imposed rice production targets. He said Alcala’s outburst may have been triggered by “guilt, or maybe I really hit a raw nerve when I exposed the overpriced Vietnam contract.” “The President should not be deaf to the clamor of the people. He should take the hint, specially since his alter-ego acted like a goon or a political warlord,” Guevarra stressed. Last week, at the joint inquiry of the House committee on agriculture and special committee on food security, Alcala’s repeated his claim of rice self-sufficiency and rice projection numbers but were contradicted by the DA’s own Bureau of Agricultural Statistics. DA Assistant Secretary Romeo Recide said the country would not be rice self-sufficient by the end of the year, since the rice production for 2013 will only reach 18.45 million metric tons — a far cry from the 20 million metric tons being bannered by Alcala.‐lawyer‐denounces‐da‐chief‐as‐ bully

Public asked for leads to nab hit men out to kill Mayor Ynares Written by  Jason Faustino   Friday, 20 September 2013 08:00   Antipolo City — Police are asking help from the citizenry for any leads that would get them to the three other hitmen hired to assassinate Mayor Casimiro “Jun” Ynares III. Earlier, Antipolo Philippine National Police chief Sr. Supt. Manuel Placido said they formed a task force that would help determine the identity of the hitmen and get to the head of the plot. According to the report, four men were originally hired for P1 million to kill Ynares. But one of the hitmen had a change of heart and opted out of the “project.” This prompted the remaining members of the group to take him down first, over fears that he might squeal on the job. A downpayment of P400,000 was made, with the remaining money to be given upon completion of the mission. However, everything went down the drain after the wife of Rolando Laroco, an alleged hired assassin, narrated to her how he and three other unidentified hirelings followed the daily activities of the Yñareses. It took almost three months of surveillance with a view to kill former Gov. Casimiro Yñares Jr. of Rizal and Mayor Yñares. He also said he had no knowledge of such plot until former president and now Mayor Joseph Estrada of Manila called his father, Yñares Jr., to tell him about it, and eventually referred the wife of Laroco to both Yñareses. Laroco’s wife surrendered to Estrada earlier this week to seek for help for the security of her family, reports said.The mayor said Laroco and three others were offered P100,000 each as downpayment for the assassination job.Laroco was shot dead by four motorcycle-riding suspects along Buliran Road, Barangay San Isidro in the city in the afternoon of Aug. 26. Laroco told his wife that he was afraid to perform the plan to kill Yñares III. The assassins were said to be hired by a certain Dan Aquino and Freddie Garcia. Garcia is said to be the treasurer of Barangay San Luis in the city where Andrei Zapanta, a known political rival of the Yñares III, was chairman.He said the plot could have been hatched by his political rivals.Mayor Yñares said elements of the PNP ensured his security from time to time by checking his schedule. He added that he stayed in his office for the entire week.

NDRRMC warns of possible landslides, flash floods in Luzon Written by  Mario J. Mallari  Friday, 20 September 2013 08:00  

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) yesterday warned of possible landslides and flash floods in some parts of Luzon that are threatened by typhoon “Odette” which is projected to bring occasional heavy rains. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) has placed Cagayan, including Calayan and Babuyan group of islands, under public storm warning signal No. 2 while the provinces of Apayao, Ilocos Norte, Abra, Kalinga, Isabela and the Batanes group of islands are now under PSWS No. 1. “Residents in low-lying and mountainous areas under Signal No. 2 and No. 1 are alerted against possible flash floods and landslides,” the NDRRMC said in its advisory. “Likewise, those living in coastal areas under Signal No. 2 are alerted against storm surges,” it added. Typhoon Odette is expected to enhance the prevailing southwest monsoon that may result to moderate to occasional heavy rains and thunderstorms over Mimaropa, Western Visayas, Zambales and Bataan. “Sea travel is risky over the seaboards of Occidental Mindoro and Palawan and over the eastern seaboard of Central and Southern Luzon and of Visayas,” the NDRRMC said. The typhoon was monitored at about 610 kilometers east of Cagayan, packing with maximum sustained winds of 140 kilometers per hour and gustiness of up to 170 kph. It is moving 13 kph westward. The NDRRMC said that all Office of Civil Defense regional centers have been furnished with the weather bulletin for further dissemination down to municipal levels. “Directed regional DRRMCs, through OCD regional centers, to undertake precautionary measures in their respective areas of responsibility and subsequently advised local DRRMCs to initiate pre-emptive evacuation of families in low-lying and mountainous areas if situation warrants,” the NDRRMC said.

Comelec to hold plebiscite for new Davao province Written by  Tribune   Friday, 20 September 2013 08:00   The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will hold a plebiscite for the creation of the new province of Davao Occidental. The creation of the said new province will be held simultaneously with the Oct. 28 barangay elections, according to the poll body. The plebiscite is in connection with the enactment of the House of Representatives on July 23 of Republic Act (RA) 10360. RA 10360, otherwise known as an Act of Creating the Province of Davao Oriental, which was passed unanimously at the lower house. The new province will be carved out from the present Davao del Sur, and it will consists of the municipalities of Sta. Maria, Malita, Don Marcelino, Jose Abad Santos and Sarangani. The Comelec was mandated to supervise the conduct of a plebiscite for the approval of the creation of Davao Occidental by the majority of the votres cast by voters in the affected areas, within 60 days after the Act becomes effective. However, the poll body on Nov. 27, 2012 suspended the conduct of all plebiscite as a matter of policy in view of the preparations for the May 13 elections. The policy of deferment was later extended by the Comelec on July 9. The poll body in a meeting held on July 31, decided to hold the plebiscite for the creation of Davao Occidental simultaneous with the Oct. 28 brangay elections. The poll body said that five out of the eight municipalities in the 2nd Legislative District of Davao del Sur shall compose the new province of Davao Occidental, once approved by the electorate in the plebiscite.The registered voters of Davao del Sur, excluding Davao City, shall participate in the said plebiscite. As of the May 13 elections, Davao del Sur, excluding Davao City has 523,862 total numer of registered voters, said the poll body. Voters in Davao del Sur shall use a different ballot in the October 28 barangay elections as it would also include voting for the plebiscite.The Comelec shall be printing special ballots for the purpose. By Alvin Murcia

Senate interview ban a chilling effect on media Written by  Angie M. Rosales   Friday, 20 September 2013 08:00  

A chilling effect on the media was how Sen. Grace Poe yesterday described the now controversial “advisory” of the Senate’s information bureau to members of the media covering the Senate beat, threatening an immediate revocation of accreditation ID for violating the ban on interviews inside the plenary hall while session is ongoing. Poe called on the Senate leadership to reject the move taken by the Public Relations and Information Bureau (PRIB) in reminding members of the press to observe Senate rules in interviewing senators as it was coupled with punitive action. “The letter states in brief: ‘similar violation will cause the automatic revocation of reporters’ or their media outfits’ accreditation in the Senate roster,” Poe said in citing the Sept. 17 “media advisory” issued by the PRIB. “While proper decorum must be observed by the media, the letter, which this representation notes, is somewhat arbitrary. The lapse of some media members on that particular situation last Sept. 16 when they interviewed a senator while the Senate is in session, to my mind, should not be used as a blanket authority to cause a chilling effect on the media. “As this representation understands, an open system has been the practice since the Philippine Senate reopened in 1988, which is a fitting homage to the basic civil liberties enshrined in the Constitution,” Poe said in her letter addressed to Senate President Franklin Drilon and read on the floor last Wednesday. Poe was referring to the Sept. 16 interview of reporters with Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. inside the plenary session hall, where media practitioners scrambled to get a reaction from the lawmaker over the filing that same day of plunder charges against him and two other colleagues by the Department of Justice (DoJ) over the pork barrel scam. Some of the reporters, according to the PRIB letter, were leaning over the railings of the left gallery and called Revilla on the sidelines for an interview. “Please be reminded that media interviews are not allowed on the Floor when a plenary session is in progress. As a rule, absolute silence in the plenary hall must be observed during sessions so as not to distract the proceedings. Media practitioners may request interviews with senators through their media relations officers. The briefing room located near the plenary hall on the second floor may be used for individual or group interviews. “The Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms is strictly enforcing the observance of plenary hall

rules. Similar violation will cause the automatic revocation of reporters’ or their media outfits’ accreditation in the Senate roster. PRIB will come out with an updated media guidelines for proper guidance,” bureau director Raymundo Corro said in the letteradvisory. Alongside this development, the National Press Club (NPC) yesterday lauded the four senators for “thwarting” the apparent attempt by some PRIB officers identified with Drilon, to put a “gag” on media interviews with a further threat to remove the accreditation of those violating the “new” rule. “The NPC takes comfort over the fact that rather than take refuge in secrecy due to the many controversies now hounding the Senate by restricting media interviews, there are enough of its members who continue to stand up for the unhampered exercise of the freedom of the press especially within the confines of its walls,” said NPC president Benny Antiporda. He noted that since Drilon was elected Senate president last July, some officers of the PRIB already made it known that media interviews, especially at the plenary, would soon be a “thing of the past.” In particular, Antiporda cited Senate Assistant Minority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto, for standing up last Wednesday at the plenary to question the move by the PRIB to ban media interviews in the area with a threat of revoking the Senate accreditation of those who would dare to violate it. He said the NPC is very much aware of the goings-on in the Senate, especially those involving the media.

Solons call for three-year moratorium on tuition hike Written by  Charlie V. Manalo   Friday, 20 September 2013 08:00  

A group of lawmakers are pushing the imposition of a three-year moratorium on increases in tuition and other school fees to alleviate the burden of the already suffering people. Reps. Neri Colmenares, Carlos Isagani Zarate, Antonio Tinio and Terry Ridon authored House Bill 354 which prohibits educational institutions from implementing within the given period increases in tuition and other miscellaneous fees for specific actual services rendered to students such as medical and dental, library, laboratory, publication, athletic and other related services. Under the bill, only schools that registered losses in the previous year may apply for an increase but such losses should be reflected in the complete annual financial statement, a copy of which shall be submitted together with the application for tuition hike. Schools that will impose unilateral increases shall be punished with a fine of not less than P100,000 and not more than P500,000 or six-year imprisonment of their officials or both at the discretion of the court. In filing the bill, Colmenares said Filipino families put premium on education that they forego other needs. However, they still cannot cope because of the “meteoric and unchecked rise” of school fees in private and public educational institutions. Colmenares attributed the unabated tuition increase to the defects in the deregulated education and the lack of proper guidelines for school fee increases. He said due to the deregulation policy mandated by Batas Pambansa 232, private education “has turned into a very profitable business” with the number of private higher education institutions (HEIs) increasing from 637 in 1991 to 1,523 in 2008. “In fact, several private HEIs have been consistently included in the Top 1,000 corporations of the country. The top five school-corporations earned, in a span of six years, P15.43 billion in gross revenues and P3.45 billion in net income,” Colmenares said. Zarate scored the concerned government agencies which, he said, have failed miserably to protect the public against schools that engage in profiteering activities. “Increases in tuition, miscellaneous and other fees, some of which are collected redundantly, continue without regard to the suffering students and their parents,” Zarate

said. Zarate added the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) approved 354 or 78 percent of tuition increase petitions in 2013 while the state universities and colleges were mulling the possibility of imposing a tuition moratorium following the suicide of a cashstrapped University of the Philippines student. “The average tuition hike, according to Ched, costs an additional P37.45 per unit or P561.75 per 15 units. The 8.5% average increase is almost three times higher than the prevailing inflation rate in the country,” Zarate said. Tinio said this year, schools in the National Capital Region posted an average tuition hike of P64.04 or 6.79 percent per unit. Region I posted the highest increase at P34.10 per unit or 11.12 percent, Region II with P31.26 or 12.25 percent and Region V with P44.77 or 11.83 percent. “On top of these are various miscellaneous and other school fees ranging from hundreds to thousands of pesos. These include exorbitant, redundant fees like power charges, instalment fee, copier fees and infrastructure maintenance fees,” Tinio said. Ridon pushed the immediate passage of the measure “to give our people some kind of relief, considering that they have yet to feel the promised social payback from higher taxes.” “Considering how important education is for our people and how costly it has become for them, it will only be fair for government to ensure our citizen’s right to education by imposing a three- year moratorium on all kinds of fee increases, whether tuition or other school fees,” Ridon said.

PDAF abolition will have disastrous effect on poor communities — UP Prof Written by  Charlie V. Manalo   Friday, 20 September 2013 08:00  

The poorest towns in the country and an estimated 6.4 million out of school youth (OSY) will end up collateral damage in light of the Supreme Court’s order to stop releasing lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for 2013 and the rush to abolish the PDAF in response to the public outcry over the alleged “Napoles Scam.” University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration and Governance Prof. J. Prospero de Vera III said the abolition of the PDAF “will have a disastrous effect on many local communities where a legislator’s pork barrel project is often the only capital investment in the area.” PDAF projects in 5th and 6th class municipalities, De Vera said, go to “road construction, repair of day care centers, schools and barangay halls, livelihood projects — provide employment and much-needed infrastructure.” Fifth level municipalities are towns that earn only P15 to P25 million in revenue. Sixth level municipalities earn less than P15 million. “The budget of these LGUs can barely pay for salaries and operating expenses, and their needs tend to fall out of the radar screen of national and provincial authorities. A reduction in the pork barrel coupled with a reduction in their IRA (Internal Revenue Allotment) will be disastrous to poor communities,” he added. The governance expert said despite the demonization of the “pork barrel,” the PDAF by itself is not bad. “PDAF is as good or bad as how it is used. There is good pork and there is bad pork,” he said. PDAF used for education, the professor explained, “is an example of good pork.” “While there is no question that there are many examples of bad pork there are also many innovative PDAF projects that fulfill constituency needs but get poor press,” he said. “For example, former Sen. Nene Pimentel has given PDAF funds to the University of the Philippines to train some 350 SUC (state universities and colleges) student council presidents and editors-in-chief on leadership and legislative advocacy.” De Vera added that like Pimentel, a legislator “can also use his PDAF for scholarships

by putting this in any state university or college.” The National Statistics Office reports that 6.24 million or 16% of the estimated 39 million Filipinos 6 to 24 years old are out-of-school-youth (OSY), according to the results of the 2010 Annual Poverty Indicators Survey. An OSY refers to family members 6 to 17 years old who are not attending formal school and family members 18 to 24 years old who are currently out of school, not gainfully employed and have not finished college or post-secondary course. Among the regions, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has the highest percentage of OSYs of about 24 percent of the population aged 6 to 24 years, followed by Davao (19 percent) and Caraga and Central Luzon, with 18 percent each. Cordillera Administrative Region has the lowest percentage of OSYs (10 percent). In the past, legislators could apportion P30 million out of their P70 million PDAF allocation for “soft” projects like scholarships. This means that as much as P10.5 billion out of the P25-billion PDAF budget for members of the Lower House could be used to fund scholarships.

Be careful on samurai bonds, top execs told Written by  Ed Velasco   Friday, 20 September 2013 08:00   Former Finance Secretary Margarito Teves hopes that the return of the country to offshore borrowing next year will be a collective decision among the Department of Finance (DoF), Bureau of Treasury (BTr) and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). Teves, secretary from 2005 to 2010, gave this hint after learning that the Philippines will again tap global fund market to finance next year’s government spending. “The national treasurer and the secretary of Finance are in the best position to determine whether or not it would be prudent to do so, including the amounts and timing,” Teves told the Daily Tribune. National Treasurer Lea de Leon on Wednesday said the government would be sourcing at least half of its spending needs from offshore borrowing. Among the foreign bonds, the BTr chief is setting its sight on low-interest samurai bonds. De Leon didn’t mention any amount of such bonds to be sourced next year. Incidentally, De Leon was Teves’ chief of staff during the latter’s entire stint at the DoF for five years. The Philippines last availed of such bonds in 2009 but sold it after just a few months, citing the liquid market that time. According to Teves, if during their time tapping offshore bonds is not so ideal, the current situation is entirely different from then. “The circumstances during our time may not be the same or similar to the circumstances today. History has shown that the collective judgment of the national treasurer and the secretary of Finance plus the sound advice of the (BSP) governor or deputy governor has largely resulted in a sound decision when tapping different types of instrument, including samurai bonds,” Teves said. Teves said if foreign funding will be used next year, the liquidity of the local market will not be given much importance. “In summary, it would be more prudent to ask them whether the prevailing and emerging circumstances in the capital market would point to tapping the samurai bonds next year. They are in better position to get the facts and circumstances that will enable them to make a sound decision on the matter,” he said.

Rating scale for Pinoy jobseekers’ skills set Written by  Ed Velasco   Friday, 20 September 2013 08:00   Filipino jobseekers’ work skills and knowledge will eventually be rated under a recently approved national qualifications system. Such system is expected to dovetail with the regional framework to be adopted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). The Philippine Task Force on Asean Qualifications has been holding consultative meetings with academic, technical, and vocational institutions as well as professional regulatory boards and employers to present the approved Philippine Qualifications Framework (PQF) and gather input for the Asean Qualifications Reference Framework. In a position paper obtained by the Tribune, it was revealed that back-to-back consultations is needed to narrow the job-skills mismatch and prepare the country for the opportunities opening up in the regional job market when the Asean member-economies integrate by 2015. The task force recently presented the approved PQF at a consultation in Pasay City attended by stakeholders from across the country. The framework will align the Philippine professional qualifications system to those of its Asean neighbors, with the goal to raise the mobility and competitiveness of Filipino professionals within Southeast Asia. The PQF was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority Social Development Committee-Cabinet Level on May 18 last year, said Irene Isaac, deputy director for Sectoral TVET of the Technical Education Skills Development Authority, who spoke during the consultation in Pasay two weeks ago. Under the PQF, there will be eight levels of qualifications, starting from National Certificate I (NC I) all the way to Doctoral Degree and Post-Doctoral Programs. Awarding of the certification to candidates is to be based on three areas: their knowledge, skills, and values; their application of these qualities to work; and their degree of independence. For instance, NC I and NC II (corresponding to Level 1 and Level 2) are certificates given to workers whose knowledge, skills, and values are manual, concrete, practical or operational in nature. These skills set are applied in activities that are familiar, predictable, and routine. Candidates for these levels usually have limited independence and decision-making, and need close or substantial supervision and guidance.

ATI operations normal at Manila South Harbor Written by  Tribune   Friday, 20 September 2013 08:00  

It is business as usual for Asian Terminals Inc.’s (ATI) Manila South Harbor despite the on-going personnel realignment at the Bureau of Customs (BoC). The listed port operator assured port-users that the delivery and receival of shipment via Manila South Harbor remains efficient and that port transactions and processes are uninterrupted in spite of developments at the BoC. It can be recalled that a recent order directed all BoC personnel to return to their permanent plantilla and original/permanent units as indicated in their appointment papers. In the exigency of service, Port of Manila district collector lawyer Rogel Gatchalian, whose original unit is the POM, has put in place contingency measures to ensure that critical positions, left vacant by recalled personnel, remain functional, including operations, assessment, transshipment, exports, warehousing and PEZA transactions. As part of this, the collector signs pertinent documents under his jurisdiction until such time the new appointees have assumed office. “ATI is working closely with the BoC to make sure that our gateway ports remain efficient for the benefit of the port community and in support of the growing economy,” ATI vice president for commercial and marketing Sean Perez said.

KAHIT ISOLI ANG PERA, IKULONG PA RIN! Ni Bernard Taguinod Kahit ibalik pa ng isang ‘pork’ solon ang kanyang ibinulsang pera mula sa pork barrel, hindi pa rin mabubura ang kanyang criminal liabilities at makukulong pa rin ito. Ito ang pahayag ni 1BAP partylist Rep. Silvestre Bello III kahapon kaugnay ng ulat na mayroong isang pulitikong sangkot sa pork barrel scam na minaniobra ni Janet LimNapoles ang nagpadala ng feelers sa Malacañang at humihingi ito ng areglo kapalit ng pagbabalik nito ng perang nakuha kasama na ang interes. “Restitution is not a ground for extinguishing criminal liability,” pahayag ni Bello, dating Justice secretary, kaugnay ng areglong hinihingi umano ng hindi pinangalanang ‘pork’ solon alang-alang umano sa kanyang mga apo. Sinabi ng mambabatas na kahit hindi magsoli ng pera ang solon ay babawiin din naman umano ito ng gobyerno sa sandaling masentensyahan sa isinampang plunder case laban sa kanya. Ganito rin ang reaksyon ni Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Zarate na isa ring abogado, na nagbabala na kapag pinatos ng Malacañang ang hinihinging areglo ay magiging precedent na ito sa mga susunod pang magnanakaw sa gobyerno. Sa panayam kay Zarate, sinabi nito na maraming magnanakaw sa gobyerno na takot na makulong ang gagaya kapag pinayagan ang areglong hinihirit ng ‘pork’ solon. “Ang mangyayari diyan, magnanakaw nang magnanakaw ang mga nasa gobyerno at kapag nabuko, makikipag-areglo na ibabalik ang perang ninakaw. Bad precedent iyan,” ani Zarate. Isa pa sa mga pinangangambahan ng mambabatas ay “paano kung hindi mabuko ang pagnanakaw nila?” Sa panig naman ni Gabriela partylist Rep. Emmi de Jesus, sinabi nito na hindi dapat gamitin ng ‘pork’ solon ang kanyang mga apo sa pakikipag-areglo sa kanyang kaso. “Naisip pala niya ang mga apo niya, bakit hindi niya sila naisip noon pa?” tanong ni De Jesus.

Mas maraming ‘big names’ sa Roque ‘pork’ scam (Bernard Taguinod/Noel Abuel) Mas maraming malalaking pangalan, gaya ng mga nakapuwestong senador at kongresista, ang malalambat ng National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) at Department of Justice (DOJ) kung magiging kasing agresibo ng ginawang Napoles scam probe ang pagkalkal sa ‘Godofredo Roque’ pork scam. Ito ang pahayag ni Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Zarate kaya nanawagan ito sa NBI at DOJ na huwag lang ubusin ang oras sa kaso ni Janet Lim-Napoles dahil mas maraming “sitting congressmen” ang naglagak umano ng kanilang pork barrel fund sa iba pang non-government organization (NGO) operators. “Although kailangang panagutin si Napoles, pati ang mga pulitikong kasabwat nito, kailangang ding imbestigahan na ang mga ibang NGO operators dahil maraming congressmen ang kanilang kliyente,” ani Zarate. Sa kaso na lamang umano ni Roque, lumalabas na 10 sitting congressmen o nakabalik sa Kamara o miyembro ngayon ng 16th Congress ang naglagay umano ng kanilang pork barrel sa mga NGOs ng Roque Group habang lima naman ang wala na sa Kongreso. Sa Napoles Group, mayroon lamang umanong limang sitting congressmen ang sangkot sa paglalagay ng kanilang pork barrel sa mga pekeng NGOs ni Napoles na hindi pa naisama sa plunder case na isinampa ng NBI at DOJ sa Office of the Ombudsman. Marami umano sa mga mambabatas na ito ay mga kaalyado ni Pangulong Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III kaya dapat aniyang palawakin ng NBI at DOJ ang kanilang imbestigasyon para mapanagot din ang mga ito.

“Sabi ng COA (Commission on Audit), 82 ang NGOs na kuwestiyunable, 10 lang diyan kay Napoles at tinataya nila na P100 billion ang halaga ng pork barrel na sangkot, nasaan ang P90 billion kung P10 billion lang ang nakuha ni Napoles?” tanong pa ni Zarate. Samantala, isang impormante ang nagkumpirma sa Abante na maliban sa ilang sitting senators at congressmen, may ilang local executives din sa iba’t ibang panig ng bansa at mga opisyal ng ahensya ng gobyerno ang sabit sa Roque Group. Kabilang sa mga natukoy na pekeng NGOs ng Roque Group ay ang Ikaw at Ako Foundation, Inc.; Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation, Inc.; Kabuhayan at Kalusugang Alay sa Masa Foundation Inc. (KKAMFI); Gabay at Pag-asa ng Masa Foundation Inc. (GPMFI); Kasangga sa Magandang Bukas Foundation Inc. (KMBFI) at Kapanalig ng Masa sa Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KMKFI). Ayon sa COA, ang KKAMFI ay nakatanggap ng malaking pondo na nagkakahalaga ng P308.218 milyon mula sa National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC) mula taong 2007 hanggang 2009. Sa kabuuang 772 proyekto ng 82 NGOs sa 10 implementing agencies ng pamahalaan ay nailipat ang P6.156 bilyon mula sa pork barrel ng 12 senador at 180 kongresista kung saan 10 sa mga NGOs ay kay Napoles na nakakuha ng P1.157 bilyon na pawang natuklasang may iregularidad. Aabot din sa 55 NGOs ang kumubra ng P1.531 bilyon na hanggang sa kasalukuyan ay hindi pa nakakapag-liquidate habang ang ilan ay nagsumite ng kuwestiyunableng liquidation report, kabilang ang P28.605 milyon na sinasabing ginamit sa isang pag-aaral na lumilitaw na hindi nangyari.

Tax evasion vs akusado sa ‘pork’, tinatrabaho na (Juliet de Loza-Cudia) Pag-aaralan na ng Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) ang posibilidad ng pagsasampa ng tax evasion case laban sa 38-katao, kabilang ang tatlong senador na isinangkot sa P10 billion pork barrel scam, kasama ang itinuturong mastermind na si Janet Lim-Napoles. Nabatid kay BIR Commissioner Kim Henares, hihingi sila ng kopya ng reklamo na isinampa ng National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) at Department of Justice (DOJ) sa Ombudsman para alamin kung nagbayad ng tamang buwis ang mga nahaharap sa kasong plunder, malversation at iba pa. Gayunman, nilinaw ni Henares na hindi ito nangangahulugan na magsasampa sila agad ng kasong tax evasion dahil depende umano ito sa makakalap nilang ebidensya.

AMLC job ‘yan! (Marlo Dalisay)

Kinuwestyon ng Senado ang naging hakbang ng Department of Justice (DOJ) na i-freeze ang mga bank accounts ng mga senador na nasangkot sa multibilyong pisong pork barrel anomaly. Ayon kay Sen. Francis Escudero, chairman ng Senate committee on finance, tanging ang Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) lamang ang may kapangyarihang mag-freeze sa mga bank accounts ng mga personalidad na nasasangkot sa mga sigalot na may kaugnayan sa pananalapi. “Ang alam ko hindi DOJ ang pwedeng gumawa niyan. AMLC ang pwedeng gumawa niyan kahit wala pang request ang secretary ng DOJ,” pahayag ni Escudero sa isang panayam kahapon. Sa ganitong sitwasyon ay pwede umanong ang AMLC na ang makipagkoordinasyon sa Court of Appeals (CA) para sa pagproseso ng mga papel na may kaugnayan sa pagfreeze ng bank accounts ng mga mambabatas na isinasangkot sa pork barrel scam.

Never PORKget sa Luneta, camping vigil sa Bustillos (Bernard Taguinod/Juliet de Loza-Cudia)

Ile-level-up pa ang kilos protesta laban sa pork barrel na gaganapin bukas sa Luneta, Setyembre 21, na binansagang #NeverPORKget kahit nakasuhan na ang unang grupo sa pangunguna ni Janet Lim-Napoles ng plunder, malversation at graft and corruption. Ito ang napag-alaman sa anti-pork group kahapon habang naghahanda sa panibagong pagkilos laban sa pork barrel ng mga mambabatas na hindi pa rin umano mawawala sa susunod na taon. Ang grupong magsasagawa ng kilos protesta bukas sa Luneta ay siya ring nasa likod ng rally noong Setyembre 13, na hindi umano titigil hangga’t hindi napaparusahan ang mga sangkot sa pork scam at hindi aalisin ang pork barrel ng mga mambabatas nang tuluyan. Kabilang sa mga grupong ito ay Concerned Citizens Movement, Ecumenical Bishops Forum, Pagbabago, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, Movement Against Dynasties, Artista Kontra Kurapsyon, Babae Laban sa Katiwalian, at iba pa. “Talagang hindi pa panahon para manahimik tayo sa pork barrel dahil wala pa naman talagang nakakasuhan. Naisampa na nga ang kaso sa Ombudsman pero hindi pa aktuwal na kaso iyan,” ani Gabriela partylist Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan. Pero bago ang mismong anti-pork rally bukas, mamayang gabi ay sisimulan na ng 300 kabataang miyembro ng Youth Revolt ang ‘camping vigil’ sa harap naman ng Bustillos Church sa Sampaloc, Manila simula alas-sais ng gabi ngayon at saka sila tutuloy sa Luneta bukas ng alas-otso ng umaga. Ayon kay Mark Joseph Vicencio, spokesperson ng Youth Revolt, may temang “Camp, Rock and Rage” ang camp vigil protest na lalahukan ng mga estudyante mula sa Trinity University of Asia, University of the East, Adamson, Earist, TUP at Philippine Christian University (PCU) kung saan magkakaroon rin ng isang acoustic concert.

$57.5M nawala sa ‘Zero Remittance Day’ Posted by Online Balita on Sep 20th, 2013 // No Comment    Ni Bella Gamotea 

Umabot kahapon sa US$57.5 milyon na remittance ang nawala sa kabuuang US$21 bilyon na ipinadadala kada taon ng mga overseas Filipino worker (OFW) matapos makiisa ang mga ito sa ikinasang “Zero Remittance Day for Zero Pork” kahapon, ayon sa Migrante International. Ayon sa grupo, bukod sa mga OFW buhat sa 23 bansa, patuloy ang pagdagsa ng mga indibidwal at organisasyon na sumuporta sa protesta kontra pork barrel hanggang nitong Miyerkules ng gabi. Hiniling ng grupo kay Pangulong Benigno S. Aquino III na buwagin ang lahat ng uri ng pork barrel – kasama ang pondo ng Presidente, imbestigasyon at panagutin ang mga sangkot sa anomalya at paglipat ng pondo sa mga serbisyo na pakikinabangan ng publiko. Unang minaliit ng Malacanang ang protesta dahil aniya ang mga pamilya rin ng mga OFW ang maaapektuhan ng “Zero Remittance Day”. Subalit maituturing na apektado ang gobyerno dahil kumikita ito ng US$1.4 bilyon kada taon sa mga sinasabing sikretong mga buwis na kinakaltas naman sa remittance ng mga OFW. Ito na ang ikatlong beses na nagkasa ng “Zero Remittance Day” ang mga OFW sa maraming bansa. Ang Setyembre 19 noong 2003 binago ng Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) ang polisiya ng ahensiya na “nagtatakda na ang membership ng OFW ay per contract basis.”Inilipat umano ang pera ng mga miyembro mula Medicare patungo sa PhilHealth kung saan nabalot ng kontrobersiya na sinasabing ginamit ang pondo sa kampanya ni dating Pangulo at ngayo’y Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo noong re-election niya ng 2004.

25.9M balota, naimprenta na Posted by Online Balita on Sep 20th, 2013 // No Comment Umaabot na sa 25.9 milyong balota na gagamitin para sa Barangay Elections ang naimprenta ng Commission on Elections (Comelec) nitong Miyerkules ng umaga. Ayon sa Comelec, ito’y 48% ng kabuuang 54 milyong bilang ng balota na gagamitin sa halalan. Inaasahang aabot sa 54 milyong botante ang boboto sa barangay elections at 3.2 milyon naman para sa Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections. – Mary Ann Santiago

Cardinal Vidal, na-stroke Posted by Online Balita on Sep 20th, 2013 // No Comment Kasalukuyang inoobserbahan sa isang pagamutan si Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal matapos umanong dumanas ng mild stroke sa naturang lalawigan noong Martes. Ayon kay Fr. Joseph De Aquino, kalihim ni Vidal, napansin nilang nanghihina ang 82taong gulang na Cardinal at nahihirapang kumain kaya agad nila itong isinugod sa Perpetual Succour Hospital nitong Martes ng hapon. Nasa maayos naman umano ang kondisyon ng Cardinal at ayon kay De Aquino, nang makita niya ito sa emergency room ay aktibo na ito at nanumbalik na ang lakas. Hanggang noong Miyerkules patuloy din umano sa pagbuti ang kalagayan ng Cardinal ngunit kinakailangan pa itong sumailalim sa mga pagsusuri upang ma-check ang kanyang neurological at cardiac functions. Matatandaang noong 2004, sumailalim si Vidal sa angiogram, na isang pagsusuri sa heart at blood vessels, at nilagyan ng pacemaker para ma-monitor ang tibok ng kanyang puso. Habang isinasagawa ang naturang procedure, dumanas umano ng heart attack ang Cardinal na halos ikamatay nito. Pagkatapos naman ng procedure ay nilagyan din umano ng stent ng mga doctor ang Cardinal para normal na makadaloy ang dugo sa kanyang arteries. Bukod dito, sumailalim na rin umano si Vidal sa ilang major operations tulad ng heart bypass at angioplasty, at minsan ay kinailangan pang magsuot ng neck brace matapos matuklasang mayroong osteoarthritis. – Mary Ann Santiago

Paggastos sa trust fund, ipinaliwanag Posted by Online Balita on Sep 19th, 2013 // No Comment PRESIDENT QUIRINO, Sultan Kudarat – Nagsalita si President Quirino Vice Mayor Lino de Guzman kaugnay ng usapin sa paggamit ng trust fund, nang pagandahin ni Mayor Zael V. Mangudadatu ang bisinidad ng kanilang tanggapan at pailawan ang national road, bagamat hindi nagkomento sa usapin ng pasahod sa daang contractual at job orders. Ayon kay De Guzman, bilang pagtalima sa direktiba ng Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) tungkol sa nagawa ng bagong alkalde 30 araw makaraang mahalal, ay naaayon sa batas ang mga resolusyong ginawa bilang suporta sa mga layunin ng alkalde. – Leo P. Diaz

CHEd: Agri-tech kontra kahirapan Posted by Online Balita on Sep 19th, 2013 // No Comment TARLAC CITY – Inihayag ni Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) Region 3 Director Virginia Akiate na ikinakampanya nila ang kahalagahan ng agrikultura at teknolohiya sa layuning mapaunlad ang pangkabuhayang aspeto ng mamamayan. Aniya, aabot sa 75 porsiyento ng mga nasa rural areas ay nagdarahop at agrikultura ang isa sa mabilis na makakaresolba rito; aniya, kung walang agrikultura ay wala ring pag-unlad sa mga komunidad. Nabatid na suportado ng CHEd ang mga proyekto ng mga state college and university sa Central Luzon, gaya ng katatapos lang na Regional Skills Olympics sa Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology (NEUST). – Leandro Alborote

Supply ng bigas, ‘very tight’; presyo, bababa na Posted by Online Balita on Sep 19th, 2013 // No Comment SAN JOSE CITY, Nueva Ecija – Bagamat ilang beses nang nilinaw ng gobyerno na walang rice shortage sa bansa, sinasabing kinakapos pa rin ang supply ng bigas sa Nueva Ecija, ang Rice Granary of the Philippines at may hinala ang ilang rice miller sa San Jose City na may nangyayaring rice hoarding matapos kumpirmahin na hindi kulang kundi “very tight” ang supply ng bigas sa lalawigan. Batay sa rice price monitoring, umaabot na sa P37-P42 ang kada kilo ng bigas mula sa dating P34-P35, samantala tuluy-tuloy ang pagrarasyon ng bigas mula sa National Food Authority (NFA), bagamat isa hanggang dalawang kilo lang ang maaaring ibenta sa bawat mamimili. Sinabi ni Mario “Kokoy” Salvador, rice miller sa San Jose City, may nangyayaring rice hoarding kaya tumaas ang presyo ng bigas, bukod sa hindi pa panahon ng anihan. “Ang totoo riyan, wala pang inaani sa bukid at ‘yung mga palay ay nakatago. Ang nasusunod diyan ay ‘yung mga may-ari ng palay na nagpataas ng presyo. Hindi nila pinapawalan sa mababang presyo dahil alam nilang walang palay na makukuha,” ani Salvador, idinagdag na iilang tao lang ang nagkokontrol sa presyo ng bigas. Ayon naman kay Edgardo Alfonso, pangulo ng Rice Millers Association ng San Jose City, hindi kapos kundi “very tight” lang ang supply ng bigas. Kaugnay nito, tiniyak naman ni Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala sa publiko na malapit nang magbalik sa normal ang presyo ng bigas dahil maguumpisa na ang anihan. “There is no reason to panic. We are expecting that rice prices will normalize in a few days, as palay harvest is starting,” sabi ni Alcala. Una nang binigyang-diin ng mga opisyal ng industriya ng bigas na kontrolado ang supply at presyo ng bigas sa kani-kanilang rehiyon, at pinabulaanang may kakapusan sa supply ng bihas. – Light A. Nolasco at Ellalyn B. De Vera

Romualdez: Pork scam to paralyze Congress Published : Friday, September 20, 2013 00:00 Written by : Ryan Ponce Pacpaco

THE House independent bloc lead by Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez yesterday warned of “paralysis” in the 16th Congress, unless concerned bodies will act with dispatch on the resolution of complaints pertaining to the alleged P10-billion pork barrel funds scam. Romualdez, head of the independent bloc or the third force, said the 16th Congress may not be able to deliver the legislative agenda of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III in the remaining three years of his term because it is suffering now from serious question on its credibility and integrity. Romualdez strongly urged the concerned authorities to set a quicker and definite timeline in resolving the complaints regarding the pork barrel funds scam, especially to the soonto-be filed ones. “We hope naman that there will be some definite timeline within which to finish this kasi sa totoo lang naman kung ibibitin itong proseso nang matagal, nakikita ninyo naman iyong Kongreso at Senado parang napipilay kasi hindi na maganda iyong reputasyon at nawawalan na ng kredibilidad,” Romualdez stressed. “Eh paano tayo magtatrabaho? So we want this process finished and let the court of law take its course,” Romualdez added. “And we hope that we can get back to the order of business of

the Senate and the House of Representatives, which is in this instance, passing our national budget, with the reforms and the transparency that the public demand. We have to prove to the Filipino people that we can still discharge our functions effectively," he said. Buhay Hayaang Yumabong party-list Rep. Lito Atienza and Abakada Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz, both members of the bloc, agreed with Romualdez on the need to expedite resolving the complaints in connection with the pork barrel funds scam. “Definitely, we are one with the Filipino nation today elated with the wheels of justice running. Ang tagal-tagal na nitong issue na ito eh. It’s been burning and really affecting the whole system and the very foundation of our democracy is being shaken. Dapat madalian ito. Dapat mas mabilis ito eh. Hindi ganito kabagal while all of the whole nation is affected and suffering,” Atienza stressed. For his part, Dela Cruz said “what we don't want to happen is this becomes, as we have always been mentioning, a striptease.” Sens. Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. were among those named respondents in the plunder charges filed before the Office of the Ombudsman.

Rice group backs DA, NFA! Published : Friday, September 20, 2013 00:00 Written by : Marlon Purificacion

LEGITIMATE rice traders, dealers and other industry stakeholders have manifested full support to the programs and initiatives of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and the National Food Authority (NFA) in ensuring that the country has enough rice supply in accordance with the government’s food security program. This developed as more than 150 stakeholders and industry players representing the biggest groups of farmers, rice mill owners, wholesalers, traders and retailers throughout the country expressed their full support to the assertions of Alcala and NFA Administrator Orlan A. Calayag that their industry is stable and that there is sufficient rice supply. They were also unanimous in their declaration that some individuals and groups who have an axe to grind against Alcala and the government are behind false reports about the artificial rice shortage which aim to create panic and confusion among the people. The expression of support was given by the industry players shortly after meeting with Alcala, Calayag and other government officials wherein they discussed the real rice supply situation in the country. They arrived in a consensus that while there might have been a slight rise in the price in some areas, it was mainly due to lean months and not because of rice shortage as the saboteurs wanted the public to believe. Participants from various groups like the Grains Retailers Association of the Philippines; Binhi-NCR; AGRIS; Philippines

Confederation of Grains Associations; and ANIB-AMI among others also vowed to join hands and fight those behind the malicious market price speculations that result in confusion among their ranks and the public. They also expressed full support to the Rice Self-Sufficiency program of the government which they described to be on the right track. The participants also reported that the price of rice has started to stabilize at the Intercity in Bulacan, wherein the price of commercial premium quality rice has now gone down from P1,920 to P1,880 per sack. The price of medium quality rice has also dropped from P1,820 to P1,780 per sack while that of imported premium quality rice also slumped from P1,800 to P1,750 per sack. Earlier, Alcala announced that he already sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation to help them unmask those behind in the manipulation of rice price and supply. He added that he is just waiting for the results of the probe before appropriate legal actions are taken against them.

35 in pork scam on BI ‘lookout list’ Published : Friday, September 20, 2013 00:00 Written by : Itchie G. Cabayan

Thirty-five out of 38 individuals who were charged before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the controversial P10-billion pork barrel scam, have been placed in the “lookout list” of the Bureau of Immigration (BI). However, while including alleged scam brains Janet LimNapoles, the Immigration Lookout Bulletin Order (ILBO), issued pursuant to the verbal instruction of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, did not include the names of Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce-Enrile and Bong Revilla, who were likewise named respondents in the complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (BI) with the anti-graft body last Monday. BI officer-in-charge Siegfred Mison said the senators’ noninclusion in the list was done out of courtesy towards members of a co-equal branch of government. All immigration officers are directed to immediately report to the Office of the Secretary of Justice and the Office of the Prosecutor General should any of the respondents attempt to leave the country via any of the international airports and seaports. Aside from Napoles, the lookout list included members of the House of Representatives Rizalina Seachon-Lanete (Masbate), Edgar Valdez (Apec Party List), Rodolfo Plaza (Agusan del Sur), Samuel Dangwa (Benguet), and Constantino Jaraula (Cagayan de Oro).

The list also included Enrile’s chief of staff Atty. Jessica “Gigi” Lucila Reyes, who had reportedly had flown out of the country even before a Senate inquiry began, and the following: Richard Cambe, Ruby Tuason, Pauline Labayen, Jose Sumalpong, Jeanette dela Cruz, Carlos Lozada, Erwin Dangwa, Alan Javellana, Gondelina Amata, Antonio Ortiz, Dennis Cunanan, Salvador Salacup, Jocelyn Piorato, Nemesio Pablo Jr., Mylene Encarnacion, John Raymund de Asis, Evelyn Deleon, Ronald John Lim, Victor Cacal, Romulo Revelo, Ma. Ninez Guanizo, Julie Johnson, Rhodora Mendoza, Alexis Sevidal, Sofia Cruz, Chila Jalandoni, Francisco Figura and Marivic Jover. Apart from Reyes, two others have also been reported to have already left the country. They are Ortiz, who left this month and Pablo, who left in May 2010.

Patronize bananas from Bukidnon, Pinoys in Washington urged Published : Friday, September 20, 2013 00:00

The Philippine Embassy in Washington yesterday urged Filipinos to patronize the highland cavendish bananas from Bukidnon which will be made available this weekend in select Los Angeles supermarkets to pave the way for the entry of more bananas produced in the Philippines into the United States. “For us to successfully penetrate the highly competitive US banana market, we need to show that there is a strong demand for highland cavendish from the Philippines,� Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose L. Cuisia Jr. said. He issued the call after four other companies have expressed serious interest in joining Dole Philippines in penetrating the huge US market, which has long been dominated by bananaexporting countries in Latin America. The Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association said the four member-companies interested in exporting the highland cavendish to the US are the Dizon Group; Nader & Ebrahim S/O Hassan Philippines Inc.; Lapanday Foods Corporation; and the Tagum Agricultural Development Company Inc. of the Anflo Group of Companies. The four companies announced their plans to enter the American market after the successful arrival on Sept. 9 in Los Angeles the trial shipment of 7.047 metric tons of highland cavendish from Mindanao. The shipment is the first of an earlier estimate of 3,000 metric tons of bananas to be imported from the Philippines.

Dole Fresh Fruit Company, a subsidiary of Dole Food Co. Inc., said the Bukidnon bananas to be marketed under Dole’s Sweetio brand will be available this weekend in the fruits sections of Gelsons stores in Encino, Century City, Tarzana, Newport Beach, Pacific Palisades, Calabasas, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, West Hollywood and Hollywood and in the Walmart stores in Baldwin Park, Corona and City of Industry. Dole’s plans will take off from the results of this market test. “The US is the largest single country importer of bananas with a per capita consumption of 25 pounds,” Agriculture Attaché Josyline Javelosa said. With the arrival of the maiden shipment of Mindanao bananas, the Philippines has earned the distinction of being the first Asian country to export bananas to the United States, Cuisia said. Cristina Lee-Pisco

NFA pours rice into Zambo Published : Friday, September 20, 2013 00:00 Written by : Joel dela Torre RESPONDING to the immediate need of 105,000 people displaced by fighting between security forces and members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the National Food Authority (NFA) released 2,800 bags of rice to the war-torn area. Aside from rice, the government also deployed rolling stores and released stocks to accredited retailers in selected markets in safer areas to ensure Zamboanga City residents’ access to rice. The NFA said that regular-milled rice in the conflict areas are priced at P27 per kilo while well-milled rice is sold at P33. Of the 2,800 bags, 1,100 were issued to the Region 9 office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD); 200 bags to Vice President Jejomar Binay which he donated to the DSWD regional office; 500 bags went to the City Social Welfare and Development Office; and another 1,000 bags were released to the local government of Zamboanga City. The NFA Region 9 office has also set up a Relief Operations Center to receive donations in cash and in kind. According to NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag, bags of rice, assorted food items and clothing were already collected and handed out to the evacuees. In the meantime, the government is scouting for additional outlets and accredited retailers to be tapped for additional rolling stores in afflicted areas. Calayag said that NFA Zamboanga is currently holding sufficient stocks of rice which, based on the city’s daily consumption requirement of 6,150 bags, could last for 41 days.

Metro Manila is safe Published : Friday, September 20, 2013 00:00 Written by : Zaida delos Reyes-Palanca

THE Philippine National Police yesterday assured Metro Manilans the metropolis is safe despite possible presence of members or supporters of Moro National Liberation Front. PNP Public Information Office Chief Sr. Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac said they are not discounting the possibility of MNLF presence in Metro Manila but said that the PNP is doing its best to protect the public from any possible threat. “Hindi namin inaalis na there is a possibility, there could be some MNLF presence in Metro Manila,” Sindac said. This possibility, according to him, is one of the reasons why the National Capital Region Police Office was placed on heightened alert. NCRPO Director Chief Supt. Marcelo P. Garbo Jr. ordered all Police District Directors to conduct dialog with Muslim communities in their areas to take precautionary measures. Earlier, Garbo placed the NCRPO on heightened alert amid the ongoing crisis in Zamboanga City and bombing of two movie theaters in Davao City. Sindac said the declaration of heightened alert is to remind the PNP in Metro Manila to be on guard in their respective police stations.


2013 09 20 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor