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Group assures public of stable rice supply By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 24, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

  MANILA, Philippines - A party-list group representing rice farmers has assured the nation that there is enough rice supply despite the increase in the prices of the staple. “We have assessed the situation. There is really no shortage,” Abono party-list chairman Rosendo So said after meeting with industry stakeholders, including officers of the Philippine Confederation of Grains Associations, Region 1 Confederation of Irrigators’ Association and Fertilizer Industry Association of the Philippines. So said the slight increase in rice prices might have been due to the delay in harvest or manipulation by smugglers to create an artificial shortage that would justify the release of smuggled rice into the market. “The planting season was delayed because the rainy season was also delayed. Some farmers planted in July, some in August, so it is as if there is shortage when actually there is none,” he said in a statement. “Retailers were also waiting for the next harvest so they were not increasing their stockpile,” he added.

According to So, industry stakeholders expect rice prices to stabilize in the next two weeks with the upcoming harvest in Isabela. He said that Isabela is projected to harvest 167,700 metric tons this month, while the entire Cagayan Valley region would bring in 264,000 MT in the next two to three weeks. After Cagayan Valley and Isabela, Nueva Ecija and Pangasinan would follow, with their harvest coming in middle of next month, So said. Isabela, Nueva Ecija and Pangasinan are among the country’s biggest rice-producing provinces. ‘Check rice prices’ Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz of the party-list group Abakada yesterday asked Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to check the continued increase in rice prices. Earlier, Alcala said consumers should not panic because the country has enough supply of rice. “Secretary Alcala has repeatedly issued statements in the media that he will file cases against those supposedly involved in rice hoarding and economic sabotage, but these have not prevented the increases in the prices of rice,” De la Cruz said. He said the DA chief should take stronger action against rice price manipulators, hoarders and smugglers. De la Cruz cited data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) to support his claim that rice prices are high. The bureau is under the DA. BAS data show that the average retail price of regular milled rice in the second week of September was P36.10 per kilo, P3.70 higher than a year ago and P4.70 more than what consumers paid for in 2011. De la Cruz said Alcala’s assurances that the country has enough rice supply have not been felt in the marketplace, where consumers still complain of high rice prices. “I for one would like to believe Secretary Alcala’s statements that all is well, that we have an ample supply and that we will be self-sufficient in rice this year,” he said. “But if you see that prices are high, as shown in the data of the BAS itself, you come to a different conclusion,” he added.

Corn farmers continue to hope for DA nod on exports Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Monday, 23 September 2013 18:48 A YEAR after they first made the request to ship out corn to neighboring Asian countries, corn farmers belonging to the Philippine Maize Federation Inc. (PhilMaize) said they remain hopeful that the Department of Agriculture (DA) would allow the export of yellow corngrain. PhilMaize President Roger Navarro said that while the DA has yet to agree to their proposal, corn farmers have not given up on the possibility that they could export their produce. “There’s nothing we can do at this point but to hope that the government will soon issue a policy that would allow us to export corn,” Navarro told the BusinessMirror in a telephone interview. He said corn farmers remain keen on exporting their produce as this would serve as their “ace” or leverage whenever prices in the domestic market are low. “We have no ‘ace,’ unlike feedmillers who can import feedwheat,” Navarro said in the vernacular. The PhilMaize official said that since the government allows the importation of feedwheat and even corn itself under the World Trade Organization and the Asean free-trade scheme, it should also allow Filipino farmers to export corn. “Allowing farmers to export corn would give them an opportunity to earn more as they could take advantage of favorable international prices,” he said. In August last year corn farmers said they wanted to export as much as 400,000 metric tons (MT) of yellow corn as prices in the international market rose following the worst drought that hit the United States, a major corn producer. The National Food Authority (NFA) said, however, that under Presidential Decree 4, corn farmers cannot export unless the NFA council certifies that there is a surplus. The country has so far exported 467 MT of corn silage this year to South Korea. A study released by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics showed that corn “self-sufficiency” is already at 99.06 percent as of 2011. Meanwhile, Navarro said damage to corn crops in Northern Luzon was “minimal” after Typhoon Odette (international name Usagi) affected a number of provinces in the area.

Agri dept ships out 15 MT of heirloom rice to US Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Monday, 23 September 2013 18:45 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent THE Department of Agriculture shipped out 15 metric tons (MT) or organic heirloom rice from the Cordilleras to the United States. Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala led the ceremonial send-off of 15 MT of organic heirloom rice from the Cordilleras on Friday. The shipment—worth P870,000 and comprised of 10 MT of mina-angan variety from Banaue and hungduan from Ifugao, and 5 MT are ulikan from Pasil and Lubuagan in Kalinga—were consolidated by the Rice Terraces Farmers’ Cooperative (RTFC), in cooperation with nongovernmental organization (NGO) Rice Inc. Eighth Wonder Inc., a US-based NGO that helps market products from the Cordillera’s rice terraces, will receive it in California. “More than profit, we are promoting the rich Cordilleran cultural heritage through this export,” Marilyn Sta. Catalina, director of the DA’s Regional Field Unit-Cordillera Autonomous Region (RFU-CAR), said. “These grains represent the best in the Cordilleras, notably the industry and ingenuity of its people, as they are organically grown, and manually harvested and pounded to perfection,” Sta. Catalina added. The shipment forms part of the 27.6 MT that the Philippines will send this year to the US, bought from 272 farmers from the three provinces. The DA said the remaining volume is undergoing organic fumigation at a Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) laboratory in Nueva Ecija, in compliance to strict US sanitary and phytosanitary requisites. The DA has been facilitating RTFC’s export to the US through Eight Wonder Inc. since 2005. Last Friday’s shipment forms part of the 27.6 MT that the Philippines will send this year to the US. The rice was purchased from 272 farmers in three provinces. To date, shipments of various heirloom varieties—such as Mountain Province’s Mountain Violet variety, Kalinga’s unoy, jekot and the ulikan red grains as well as for Ifugao’s tinawon, fancy rice and diket—to the US totaled 97 MT, including last year’s 24.4 MT valued at P1.3 million. The DA has embarked on a campaign meant to preserve farming practices in Northern Philippine and expand overseas markets for indigenous rice varieties.‐commodities/19781‐agri‐dept‐ships‐out‐15‐ mt‐of‐heirloom‐rice‐to‐us 

‘NFA rice still missing in Albay’   Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Monday, 23 September 2013 18:44 Written by Manly M. Ugalde / Correspondent TABACO CITY, Albay— Padyak (sidecar) operator Telesforo Begil complained that he remains unable to buy government-subsidized rice as no seller carries the product in this city’s wet market. Begil said the situation is “disastrous” given his meager income. Worse, he said, the cheapest commercial rice sold at P30 a kilogram pales in comparison to the quality of the rice sold by the National Food Authority (NFA) at P27 per kilo. The padyak operator is one of the thousands of operators in this city who have been inconvenienced by the continuous absence of NFA rice in Albay markets. City Administrator Elizir Bron said police have started monitoring the situation following his receipt of complaints about the “missing” NFA rice in wet markets. A report issued by Dr. Elena de los Santos, regional technical director for operations of the Department of Agriculture office in Pili, Camarines Sur, indicated that there is no artificial shortage of rice supply in the region. Santos added that palay production in Bicol will be higher this year compared to the output last year. NFA regional and provincial officials also said there was no shortage of NFA rice. Former Jovellar town Mayor Jose Arcangel said the absence of NFA rice in Albay could be due to the “collusion between unscrupulous traders and some unscrupulous government officials.” Reports regarding missing NFA rice and the spike in the price of commercial rice have prompted solons to investigate the current rice situation in the country. Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarata of Bayan Muna joined lawyer Argee Guevarra in calling for the resignation of Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala for the alleged overpricing of rice imports and his supposed failure to make the country rice self-sufficient this year. Alcala, however, said the Philippines will be able to be self-sufficient in rice and that there is no shortage of rice. NFA officials have also denied allegations that the imported rice bought by the agency from Vietnam was overpriced.‐commodities/19780‐nfa‐rice‐still‐missing‐in‐ albay   

Manila hosts first Asean agri engineers conference Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Monday, 23 September 2013 18:43 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning FILIPINO agricultural engineers and their counterparts from Southeast Asia will convene in Manila for the first-ever Asean Conference on Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (Acabe 2013) from September 24 to 27 in Manila. Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, is invited to keynote the opening program on September 24, while Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala will grace the event on September 26. Alcala will lead the ceremonial signing of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Agricultural and Fisheries Mechanization Law (Republic Act 10601) on September 26. The law was sponsored by former Sen. Francis Pangilinan and Rep. Mark Llandro Mendoza during the 15th Congress and signed by President Aquino on June 5. About 1,000 participants, resource persons and Filipino and foreign government officials and guests from 10 Asean member-countries are expected to attend, including suppliers and distributors of agricultural machinery and equipment from Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, South Korea and the United States. The four-day conference aims to harmonize global professional practice of agricultural engineering, and contribute to increasing agricultural productivity and farmers’ incomes, ensuring food security and sufficiency, and making the region’s agricultural and fishery infrastructure withstand adverse climatic conditions. The event will also feature an exhibit of the latest agricultural and biosystems engineering and mechanization products, services and technologies. It is spearheaded by the Philippines’s Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers and Distributors Association, in partnership with the Department of Agriculture and Department of Trade and Industry. Marvyn N. Benaning‐commodities/19779‐manila‐hosts‐first‐ asean‐agri‐engineers‐conference   

Northern Samar islanders’ farming system boosts biodiversity–study Category: Regions Published on Monday, 23 September 2013 19:32 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent DON’T sneeze at the Abaknons, the people who inhabit island of Capul in Northern Samar, since their traditional farming system helps conserve biodiversity and protect the surrounding fishing grounds. A study of the interrelationships of the farming system and coastal ecosystem in Capul was undertaken by Tito M. Cabili, a doctoral student at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños (UPLB) whose work was funded by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca). Cabili is with the faculty of the University of Eastern Philippines (UEP) in Catarman, Northern Samar. Searca Director Gil Saguiguit Jr. said the Cabili dissertation was significant and formed part of the center’s publication “Discovering New Roads to Development—Coastal Ecosystems Technologies.” In the study, Saguiguit said, Cabili “analyzes the interrelationships between the Abaknons’ farming system and the productivity of the coastal ecosystem. Using a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods for data collection and analyses, the impacts of upland farming on the coastal ecosystem were assessed.” Cabili paid attention to such indicators as sediment load, runoff water quality and seagrass and fish productivity to determine whether the traditional island farm system damaged the ecosystem or not, Saguiguit added. His conclusion was that Abaknons’ upland farming system, which is practiced from Decemebr to March, is not only efficient but also protective of the entire ecosystem and noted that the islanders have devised a calendar that governs when they have to plant rice and rootcrops, and where they have to cultivate other crops to shield them fromthe gusty winds and heavy rains brought by the habagat or southwest monsoon. Cabili also noted that Capul is right smack at the center of the turbulent San Bernardino Strait but is contiguous to coral reefs and rich fishing areas. Traditional site selection for farms depended on the rituals that the Abaknons conduct, with Cabili describing the age-old practice in this wise: “Before dawn, the head of the family would go to the chosen site and hang an axe on a dalakit [balete or banyan] tree or any big tree [if dalakit is not found in the area] for three days. This is usually done without the knowledge of the

other members of the family. If, after three days, the axe still hangs where it was originally placed, it signifies permission from the forest spirits for the clearing of the site. If the axe is no longer in its original position, it indicates non-permission. Farmers believe that those who go against the will of the forest spirits will get sick or die.” Rituals are also performed for field preparation, like the paharang. “During the preparation of the field, a paharang is conducted. Although this is not practiced in all fields at all times, it is done if the field has not been cultivated in years. Paharang is a ritual used for various purposes [such as asking permission for the use of a farm area, for thanksgiving, or even treatment of ailments], usually conducted by an elderly member of the family or a hired tambalan [folk healer], inviting the unseen spirits to partake of the food offering,” Cabili said. “The ritual requires usually three eggs, any candy, anisado [wine], tinapay [bread], cigarettes, cooked rice, kamangyan [herb], baga [fire] and meat. The number must be odd so the unpaired one is for the unseen spirits, which to the Abaknons are unseen stakeholders of nature. This ritual is also done in thanksgiving and supplication for the spirits’ protection of the plants. The food offering is not eaten by the farmer and family members,” Cabili said. Coconut farming is the principal activity in Capul, with 2,230 hectares, or 75.7 percent, of its total area of 3,500 hectares devoted to coconuts. Rainfed rice is grown in 367.8 hectares, or 12.5 percent, of the land while irrigated rice farms only cover 136 hectares, or 4.6 percent, of the area. Corn is grown in 54.9 hectares, or 1.9 percent, of the land and vegetables are grown in 6.3 hectares. Cabili noted that the farmers are engaged generally in multicropping, with many of the crops growing in sandy loam soil called burobaybay, which holds water even as it is porous, and this type of soil is found in the uplands, or 63 percent of the total area.‐northern‐samar‐islanders‐ farming‐system‐boosts‐biodiversity‐study                 

Single-lane bridges offer multiple benefits to Davao Norte farmers Category: Regions Published on Monday, 23 September 2013 19:28 Written by Noel Provido DAVAO DEL NORTE—They are no crying ladies but they could cry a river recounting the difficulties of crossing flood-prone rivers just to bring their produce to the market. “It was really difficult and costly for us farmers as we have to pay as high as P100 per sack in hauling our produce,” Merlinda dela Vega of New Corella, Davao del Norte, said. She said high transport cost is attributed to lack of accessible shorter route especially during rainy seasons where rivers overflow. “We have to travel for almost an hour just to deliver our produce to the market. This, in turn, resulted not only to higher hauling and transport fees but also deteriorates the quality of our commodities leaving as no option but to sell it on lower price.” Rosalina Gabuat of Barangay K’tam in Asuncion, Davao del Norte, shared the same plight and can’t hold back her tears, while telling how her rice produce was damaged because it was not immediately delivered to the market. “We could have bought good food for the kids; we could have given them bigger allowance,” Gabuat said. She said after the downpour of heavy rain, it would be difficult to cross the river, as the current is very strong. She said there were times when their produce are damaged due to mishandling, which cannot be avoided when passing the narrow and unstable wooden bridge. Barangay Captain Edgar Castillo said Gabuat is just one of the farmers who complained on being isolated due to lack of access to adequate infrastructure. “When we drafted our Comprehensive Barangay Development Plan, we prioritized the construction of farm-to-market roads with bridge component,” Castillo said. The risky trading route and expensive hauling of produce was changed with the construction of single-lane bridges in both villages. This came after the Provincial Government of Davao del Norte and the Department of Agriculture-Mindanao Rural Development Program (DA-MRDP) partnered to open up market access to the said towns.

“Both project have boosted the economic activities in the said towns. The bridges were linked to existing farm-to-market roads which makes transport of produce faster and safer,” provincial planning chief Josie Jean Rabanos said. “The bridge in New Corella is now servicing 808 hectares of rice areas, while the Asuncion bridge covers 300 hectares of rice areas,” Rabanos said. “The bridge have indeed helped us improved our income as we no longer need to pay P100 per sack hauling fee. It has also reduced our travel time in delivering our commodity to the market giving us enough time to engage in other economic activities,” de la Vega said. Gabuat, on the other hand, said the bridge did not only provide them faster and safer transport of their produce, it has been their refuge in times of calamities considering that most of the residents are living in low-lying areas. Noel Provido/DA-MRDP

In Photo: The bridge component of the 3.9-kilometer farm-to-market road in Asuncion, Davao del Norte, provides safe crossing for commuters and farmers transporting their produce to the market.‐single‐lane‐bridges‐offer‐ multiple‐benefits‐to‐davao‐norte‐farmers                       

Odette ruins P40 M crops in Cagayan By Charlie Lagasca (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 24, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines – At least P40 million worth of crops were damaged by Typhoon Odette in the Cagayan region. Resty Vargas, officer-in-charge of the provincial disaster risk reduction and management council (PDRRMC), said that among the crops, ready-to-harvest palay incurred the most damage. “Many farmers were not able to harvest their palay before the typhoon struck. We are looking for some ways to help our affected farmers,” Vargas said. The amount of damaged crops in the province, he said, is expected to climb as they are still assessing the damage. The typhoon affected some 3,000 families or 14,000 individuals while hundreds were stranded in ports in Aparri and Santa Ana towns. Meanwhile, a C-130 aircraft loaded with relief goods arrived yesterday in Batanes, the hardest hit by Odette. Power in the island province has yet to be restored. Batanes Gov. Vicente Gato said Odette toppled trees and was the most powerful storm that battered the province in many years. Ilocos Norte was placed under a state of calamity. Reports said the province lost at least P34 million in damaged crops, as well as in fisheries and livestock. Aside from Laoag City, the capital of Ilocos Norte, the towns of Bangui, Solsona, Pagudpud, Bacarra, Piddig, Paoay, Banna, Marcos, Nueva Era and Pasuquin were hard-hit by the typhoon.              

Vitarich OKs P2.4‐B debt‐to‐equity deal By Neil jerome C. Morales (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 24, 2013 ‐ 12:00am  

  MANILA, Philippines - Animal feeds and livestock firm Vitarich Corp. is set to write off more than P2 billion worth of liabilities in its books through a debt-to-equity conversion to complete its corporate rehabilitation. In a regulatory filing, Vitarich said its board of directors approved the “conversion of part of its debts to Kormasinc Inc. amounting to P2.376 billion into equity of the corporation at a ratio of 1:1 or one common share of stock for every P1 debt.” Of these debts, P90.03 million will be paid through the issuance of 90.03 million unissued Vitarich shares. This will allow Kormasinc to own nearly a fifth of the agribusiness firm. “The amount of P2.286 billion shall be applied as payment for the additional shares of stock, which shall be issued out of the increase in the authorized capital stock upon approval of such increases by the Securities and Exchange Commission,” Vitarich said. In June last year, the firm announced its plan to raise its capitalization to P1.5 billion from P500 million to facilitate the entry of new investors.

Vitarich, which used to lead the poultry industry, has been under corporate rehabilitation since 2006 due to tight liquidity problems resulting from the Asian currency crisis and the avian flu outbreak in 2003. At the height of the financial crisis, Vitarich’s debts stood at P3.23 billion. As of end-June, the company had P2.23 billion worth of restructured debts, almost the same as the December 2012 figures. Vitarich has been unloading non-core assets to service debt payments. In 2011, it sold several properties worth as much as P202.34 million to pay down debt. Under the corporate rehabilitation plan, management committed to corporate branding and image rebuilding; launching of new products in the market; expanding sale and distribution networks; strengthening business ties with trading partners; and continuously improving product quality thorough the rehabilitation and standardization of certain plants to qualify for international standardization and accreditations. Incorporated in 1962 by the Sarmiento family, Vitarich is engaged in the production and distribution of various poultry products such as live and dressed chicken, day-old chicks and animal and aqua feeds, among others. Vitarich’s day-old chicks are supplied to its contract growers and sold to commercial broiler producers. Its subsidiary Gromax Inc. continues to engage in the manufacture and distribution of animal health and nutritional products. In the first half, Vitarich’s net loss of Vitarich narrowed to P14.63 million from P85.15 million a year ago, driven by an P82.76-million gain due to the reversal of long outstanding payables. Its sales, however, fell nearly six percent to P1.38 billion from P1.47 billion last year.‐oks‐p2.4‐b‐debt‐equity‐deal               

Malungon tramline by Joseph T. Jubelag  September 23, 2013  

MALUNGON, Sarangani – The Department of Agriculture has set up a P2.8-million worth of tramline to benefit the remote villages here, which was designed to boost the production of local farmers. Mayor Reynaldo F. Constantino said the 800-meter tramline stretch in Barangay Datal Batong is expected to lessen the cost of transporting the agricultural produce of the farmers. The tramline will serve Sitio Blol and Sitio Kiturok – the farthest B’laan inhabited community in this municipality. It could carry 350 to 500 kilograms of farm produce, which will be transported to the market in Poblacion Malungon. “The project is expected to boost local production of high-value crops that can spur economic activities in the impoverished villages,” Constantino said. He said farmers could save at least 25 percent of their transportation cost, compared to the use of cattle and horses as means of transportation.‐tramline/                         

Farm production by Joseph T. Jubelag  September 23, 2013  

ALABEL, Sarangani – Provincial officials of Sarangani committed to support local rice farmers to boost their production. Sarangani Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon said the provincial government and the other line agencies have been continuously giving support to local farmers to increase rice production in the seven municipalities of the province. He said the local government is doing its best to help the farmers through the implementation of various projects, like irrigation system, farm-to-market roads, and funding support. Speaking during the Rice Harvest Festival here, Solon urged the farmers to actively support the rice production program as the government will also provide the needed support for them as well. “You must take part in the implementation of the program, while the government will do its share to support you. Your motivation towards this undertaking is vital to become productive farmers,” the governor stressed.‐production/                       

CL red tide‐free — BFAR by Mar T. Supnad  September 23, 2013  

MARIVELES, Bataan — Coastal areas of Bataan and Zambales provinces remain clear from paralytic shellfish poison or most commonly known as red tide that commonly occurs during rainy season, authorities assured yesterday. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) reported: “The coastal waters of Bulacan in Manila Bay; Masinloc Bay in Zambales; and coastal waters of Mariveles, Limay, Orion, Pilar, Balanga, Orani, Abucay, and Samal in Bataan remain free of the toxic red tide.” BFAR said shellfish from the mentioned areas can still be gathered, harvested, and sold in markets and are safe for human consumption. Meanwhile, shellfish collected at Dumanquillas Bay in Zamboanga del Sur; Murcielagos Bay in Zamboanga del Norte and Misamis Occidental; Matarinao Bay in Eastern Samar; Balite Bay in Mati, Davao Oriental; and the coastal waters of Milagros in Masbate are still positive for paralytic shellfish poison that is beyond the regulatory limit. All types of shellfish and Acetes ap or alamang from the areas mentioned are not safe for human consumption, BFAR said. “Fish, squids, shrimps, and crabs are safe for human consumption,” it added.‐red‐tide‐free‐bfar/                     

Corn exports to S. Korea, Malaysia set by Melody M. Aguiba  September 24, 2013 (updated)  

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is setting an export of 50,000 to 100,000 metric tons (MT) of corn grains after a successful export of 467 MT of corn silage to South Korea. DA is coordinating with the National Food Authority (NFA) for the export of corn grains in order to lift restrictions on the export of corn. The restriction ensures that the corn for export is only a surplus volume. “We have a recommendation with the NFA (National Food Authority) Council for us to export 50,000 to 100,000 tons of corn,” said DA Assistant Secretary Edilberto De Luna.DA Secretary Proceso J. Alcala also confirmed the corn export is part of government’s program. “Exporting corn is really our strategy because if we have a surplus, prices may go down, and it will be our farmers that will suffer if prices will drop,” said Alcala. The export of corn silage since May this year is paving the way for Philippines to also export corn grains, according to Butch Umengan, president of exporter Ploughshares, Inc. Ploughshares exported to South Korea corn silage initially at 24 MT of in April. It then shipped out 69 MT in June, 320 MT in July, and 38 MT in August. The country’s corn production this year is targeted to reach to 8.1 million to as much as 8.4 million MT. Projected yellow corn production is placed at 5.7 million MT, and white corn 2.4 to 2.7 million MT. This is a new high from the 7. 41 million MT recorded in 2012. The Philippines has already been experiencing a surplus in corn grains over the last few years. Surplus may be reaching to 150,000 to 200,000 MT of yellow corn yearly. But this surplus, including from corn substitute cassava, may even be reaching to 600 MT in corn equivalent by 2013-2014 . In another five months when cassava will have been harvested, additional corn substitute will come from this at 2.308 million MT based on DA projections. When it comes to price of corn grains, the Philippines can be competitive against big corn exporters Brazil and Argentina if the markets are neighboring countries Korea and Malaysia. DA records show the country’s landed cost only reaches to P16.14 to South Korea from Cagayan de Oro, lower than US’s 16.36 per kilo or Brazil’s P16.29. Landed cost to Malaysia from South

Cotabato is only at P13.35 per kilo. This is lower than P14.75 per kilo from Argentina, P16.50 from Brazil, and P16.65 per kilo from the US. Umengan said South Korean livestock raisers resort to importing corn silage as South Korea now has very limited land for grazing. If they use corn silage for feed, their cattle are able to still eat an entire corn plant. Corn silage is composed of semi-dried corn stalks, leaves, and grains forming 10 percent of the volume. “There isn’t much grazing area, so they’re heavily dependent on silage,” Umengan said. The country used to import one million metric tons (MT) of corn and corn substitutes. “We used to import corn and corn substitutes at one million tons yearly. But GM (genetically modified) corn is enabling us to export,” said Umengan. The South Korean feed market has started importing Philippine corn silage because of its quality. “Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) corn is clean, and its grains are bigger. So feed suppliers in Korea want it,” said Umengan. Bt corn’s cob brims with full kernel. Its stalks and leaves are free from holes manifesting insect infestation in conventional corn. Since Bt corn was released in 2002, the country sustained its production growth. The country has 1.3 million hectares of land planted to yellow corn, DA records show. Of this area, 507,000 hectares or 38 percent is planted to Bt corn. “The GM technology is not only benefiting consumers and farmers. It’s benefiting the whole country towards agricultural modernization and competitiveness,” said Umengan. “We now have very little or zero importation because of increased competitiveness. A lot is due to biotechnology seeds. That pulled up our production.”‐exports‐to‐s‐korea‐malaysia‐set/             

Stop rice hoarding, lawmaker prods Alcala By Maricel Cruz | Posted 13 hours ago | 164 views 

An opposition lawmaker on Monday demanded that Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala should take decisive steps over the department’s accusations that rice cartel and smugglers are behind the steady and unrelenting increases in rice prices before the cost of the staple goes beyond the reach of ordinary consumers. “Currently the increases in rice prices have outpaced increases in previous years; it has even outpaced the speed of the DA’s ‘investigation’ of the parties supposedly involved in hoarding,” said party-list Rep. Jonathan De La Cruz of Abakada.Dela Cruz deplored Alcala’s inaction depite the serious allegations he himself made. “Secretary Alcala has repeatedly issued statements in the media that he will file cases against those supposedly involved in rice hoarding and economic sabotage, but these have not prevented the increases in the prices of rice,” said De La Cruz, who earlier filed a resolution seeking a probe of the P442 million rice kickback. He also urged the Agriculture department to reconcile its projections and data so that Congress and the public would have a clearer picture of the country’s rice situation. “Without the right data, we will not be able to take the steps necessary to ensure the country’s food security. This includes deciding on whether we should import more or less rice. The sooner we know the real score, the sooner we can act,” Dela Cruz said. Dela Cruz, a member of the independent bloc in the House, advised Alcala to refrain from resorting to press statements to hide the real issue. “Press statements cannot be eaten. These cannot help bring rice prices down. Maybe our people, who do not have rice, have taken to chewing newspapers,” he said. Rice prices are at their highest in three years. According to the data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) website,, the average retail price of regular milled rice in the second week of September was 36.1 pesos per kilo, 3.7 pesos higher than the roughly the same period a year ago and 4.7 pesos more than what consumers paid for in 2011. De La Cruz said that the DA’s assurances regarding the country’s rice supply have not been felt in the marketplace, where consumers still complain of high rice prices. “I for one would like to believe that all is well, that we have an ample supply of rice and that we will be rice self-sufficient this year,” he said. “But if you see that prices in the market are high, and you see in the BAS website that rice prices are going up, what will you believe, the press release or the evidence?” he added. The party-list representative pointed out that “while the projections of the BAS says that 2013 palay production will hit 18.45 million MT, Sec. Alcala has boasted that the country’s output this year will be 20 million MT.”‐rice‐hoarding‐lawmaker‐prods‐alcala/ 

Economy  Posted on September 23, 2013 11:10:58 PM 

DA sets up cold storage committee THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture (DA) has issued an administrative order (AO)  establishing a committee to regulate cold storage facilities for agricultural and  fishery products.   

According to AO 23, published in newspapers yesterday, the Committee on Cold Storage  Warehouse Accreditation (CCSWA) will “conduct audit and assessment of the CSW (cold  storage warehouse),” “endorse the submitted documents, as well as the report on the result of  the audit and assessment to the CSWCT (CSW Composite Team),” and “conduct further study  and prepare ... recommendations to the CSWCT chairman.”    The CCSWA is composed of inspectors from the National Meat Inspection Service, Bureau of  Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Bureau of Plant Industry, and Bureau of Animal Industry.    CSWs are facilities where local and imported agricultural and fishery products intended for sale  are kept.    It was, however, unclear why the Agriculture department sought to create such committee. DA  officials were also not available for comment.    The AO takes effect early next month, or within 15 days of publication, according to the order. ‐ ‐ DEDS‐sets‐up‐cold‐storage‐ committee&id=76914           

Economy  Posted on September 23, 2013 11:11:50 PM 

NFA preps for new stocks in E. Visayas PALO, LEYTE ‐‐ The government is bracing for massive palay procurement in  Eastern Visayas as farmers are expected to commence full harvest next month.    National Food Authority (NFA) Regional Information Officer Mary Agnes R. Militante said that buying  stations have been opened for farmers interested in selling unhusked rice to the government.    “We have a standby budget of P5 million from our Cereal Procurement Fund to finance palay  procurement in six provinces. We can request for more funding depending on the demand,” Ms.  Militante said.    The NFA buys clean and dry palay at P17 per kilogram, more than the P12‐14/kg common prices offered  by commercial traders.    From January to August 2013, the grains agency has already procured 143,526 bags of palay. The NFA  aims to buy 27,000 bags this month, 34,000 bags in October, 30,000 in November and 17,000 in  December.    “Our procurement target for 2013 is the highest in 20 years,” Militante added. In 2012, the NFA  procured only 28,242 bags.    NFA buying stations are located in Tacloban City, Abuyog, Alangalang, Baybay, Hilongos and Ormoc City  in Leyte; Maasin and Saint Bernard in Southern Leyte; Naval in Biliran; Calbayog City and Catbalogan in  Samar; Catubig, Rawis, Bobon, and Victoria in Northern Samar; and Oras, Borongan, and Guiuan in  Eastern Samar.    Under its buying scheme, the NFA has been purchasing palay from members of accredited farmers’  organizations and cooperatives at P17/kg, inclusive of drying, transport, and cooperative development  incentives. The same rate is extended to individual farmers.    The NFA has notified local agriculture offices to help the agency inform farmers about the procurement  initiative.    The food authority noted that although its price is higher than those of commercial traders, many  farmers opt to sell their produce to the latter since they are indebted to those traders, and bringing 

products to private buying stations is more convenient.    However, the NFA assured that farmers will get a higher buying price and accurate weighing if they sell  palay to the government.    The NFA also admitted that sufficient supply of government rice is not enough to stabilize the price of  staple food in Eastern Visayas, given the agency’s minimal share of the total regional reserve.    In a Sept. 1 inventory report released by the NFA today, of the 1,646,112 bags of rice stored in the  region, only 395,364 or 24% are government rice. Household stocks account for the biggest share with  978,540 bags or 59% of the total inventory.    Stocks of commercial rice dwindled to 272,208 bags (17%) early this month as traders waited for the  new harvest.    “The NFA was not able to influence rice prices because of so many rice stocks in the household. To be  able to manipulate the price, we have to get the majority share of stocks,” Ms. Militante said.    The NFA believes that high stocks in houses could be attributed to the palangoy system where farmers  borrow money from lenders and pay interest of one sack of palay for every P1,000 in credit.    “These lenders have been keeping rice in their houses for their own consumption or sell the stocks to  their friends,” Ms. Militante added.    High costs of farm inputs such as fertilizers and seeds, and poor credit support are said to lead small rice  farmers to borrow money from individual lenders and loan sharks.    NFA records show that the region’s current stocks would last for 52 days at an average daily  consumption of 31,596 bags for the region’s 4,532,935 population. Each person in Eastern Visayas  consumes 127.24kg every year.Of the 1,646,112 bags of stocks in three levels, 490,627 bags are in Leyte;  142,249, in Southern Leyte; 61,433, in Biliran; 95,843, in Samar; 430,018, in Northern Samar; and  452,942, in Eastern Samar.    As of last week, the modal retail price of well‐milled rice per kilogram is pegged at P42.33; regular milled  rice, P39.43; and premium rice at P46.20.NFA rice remains priced at P27/kg. The food agency said it will  ensure that no government rice will be overpriced or diverted and sold as commercial rice.    Ms. Militante expects the price of commercial price to go down next week as the country approaches  harvest season. ‐‐ S.Q. Meniano‐preps‐for‐new‐stocks‐in‐E.‐ Visayas&id=76916 

Nation  Posted on September 23, 2013 11:06:01 PM 

Web tool for Davao farmers to open DAVAO CITY ‐‐ The city’s information and communications technology (ICT)  umbrella group hopes to make Davao Region’s farmers more competitive with  the establishment of a farm‐to‐e‐market Web portal.    “The farm‐to‐e‐market portal will make the farmers more mobile and better aware of the prevailing  prices of agriculture products in the market at any given time,” said Eriberto P. Barriga, Jr., ICT Davao,  Inc. executive vice‐president.    A related but limited system driven by text messaging was initiated by the city government and Smart  Communications, Inc. three years ago.    Former City Agriculture Office chief and now City Councilor Leonardo R. Avila III explained that the city  government provided farmers with current prices through text message blasts provided by Smart.    “The farmer is only aware of the current prices of the commodity based on the nearest market, so a  farmer in Calinan in Davao does not have any idea as to the current price in Metro Manila markets,” Mr.  Avila said.    With the text blast, he said, the farmers became aware of current prices in many locations, giving them  a reference when pricing products.    Mr. Barriga said that the new Web portal would improve the system.    The farm‐to‐e‐market Agri‐Exchange Online Portal will be launched during the Davao Trade Expo, which  will be held on Oct. 17‐19 at the SMX Convention Center in Davao.    Smart is the mobile telecoms arm of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. Hastings Holdings, Inc.,  a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in  BusinessWorld. ‐‐ Carmencita A. Carillo‐tool‐for‐Davao‐farmers‐to‐ open&id=76902   

Miriam seeks probe into rice cartels Published : Tuesday, September 24, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 93 Written by : Bernadette Tamayo

SENATOR Miriam Defensor-Santiago has sought an inquiry into the alleged involvement of rice cartels in the recent increase in the market price of rice. She filed Resolution No. 242 directing the concerned Senate committee to conduct a public hearing on the allegation of a militant farmer group, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), that rice cartels were manipulating the prices of the staple. The KMP had called on President Benigno Aquino to stop rice importation and order a rollback on rice prices, and institute price control measures. The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) had reported that the price of regular milled rice ranged from P32 to P34 per kilo as of July 9, up from the P30 per kilo recorded since last year. The KMP claimed that rice cartels were also the rice importers and rice smugglers, or at the minimum have connections with rice smugglers, who benefit from the government’s rice importation policy or legalized rice smuggling. It added that the local rice industry is being killed by the policy of massive rice importation and smuggled rice. Santiago noted that the KMP had already challenged the government to dismantle rice cartels, stressing that there is no reason to increase rice prices by P1 to P2 because there is abundant harvest for the first half of the year. It also warned the release in the local market of the tens of thousands of metric tons of smuggled rice seized in Cebu and Legazpi City, which is being auctioned by the Bureau of Customs (BoC), could “worsen” the situation. “Congress should formulate a national policy to ensure food sufficiency for the people both in terms of supply and affordability, particularly in addressing the issues of alleged rice cartels adversely influencing the rice market,” Santiago said. Santiago also pressed for an inquiry into the reported “overpriced” importation of rice from Vietnam by the National Food Authority (NFA) amounting to about P460 million.. She filed Resolution No. 244 asking the concerned Senate committee to check the claim of activist-lawyer Argee Guevarra that the cost of the NFA’s latest rice importation from Vietnam was “disadvantageous” to the goverment by at least P457 million. Guevarra alleged that the NFA, under the Department of Agriculture (DA), imported last April some 187,000 metric tons of rice from Vietnam at an overprice of P19,762 per metric ton. “In the wake of the controversial multibillion pesos pork barrel scam, there is a pressing need for

the enactment of new measures that guarantee transparency in the financial transactions of the government, particularly those that have direct impact in the lives of every Filipino such as the purchase of agricultural commodities,” Santiago said. Guevarra claimed that while government-to-government contracts are supposed to be more costeffective, the payment made by the NFA was “way higher” than the prevailing market price in Vietnam when the deal was made, which then reportedly stood only at P15,480 per metric ton. He also said that on top of the imported 187,000 metric tons of rice from Vietnam, the NFA had “inserted” the purchase of another 18,700 metric tons of rice without any prior approval from the Department of Finance (DoF) under the Fiscal Incentive Review Board (FIRB). Santiago noted that Guevarra said he would bring his findings to the Office of the Ombudsman or the newly created Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council for further investigation.‐miriam‐seeks‐probe‐into‐rice‐cartels                               

Rice prices will be back to normal—PCGA Published : Tuesday, September 24, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 42

THE Philippine Confederation of Grains Association said the prices of rice will be back to normal soon. The PCGA and the Region 1 Confederation of Irrigators Association and Fertilizer Industry Association of the Philippines said there is no reason to panic over the prices of rice since the country had plenty of rice. “Our farmers in Isabela were expecting to harvest some 168-metric tons just for this month alone,” they said. “Hindi pa kasama rito yung sa Pangasinan at Cagayan Valley na mag-aani na rin,” they added. The groups said this proved there was no shortage in the supplies of rice. They accused some “rice smugglers” as behind the reported rice shortage. They said rice shortage was created to justify the presence of illegally imported grain in the market. Earlier, the Department of Agrarian Reform said there was no shortage of rice. KEEP THE PATIENCE AGRICULTURE Secretary Proceso Alcala called on the farmers to continue with their sacrifices and prove the critics wrong that the government’s rice sufficiency program is not on target. Speaking before some 3,000 farmers in M’lang, North Cotabato and Barsalan, Davao del Sur, Alcala asked rice players to just keep their patience and let the results do the talking. Many detractors, he said, were not convinced that rice sufficiency can be achieved by the end of 2013 even as the DA chief challenged them to visit the countryside to see for themselves the record yields. “Sa ating patuloy na sakripisyo at pagtutulungan, tanaw na natin ang kasapatan sa bigas, kaya naman ako’y naririto upang magpasalamat at maghatid pa ng karagdagang tulong at ayuda,” Alcala said. In signifying their support to the government’s program, the farmers showed Alcala their respective combined harvesters’ action.

Based on standing palay crop and planting intentions during the 3rd and 4th quarter, respectively, the DA’s Bureau of Agricultural Statistics has estimated a total production of 10.46 million metric tons, 3.1 percent more than last year’s output of 10.14 MMT. DA Undersecretary for Operations Dante Delima said he is optimistic that the projected 4th quarter harvest of 7.16 MMT may even be surpassed by two percent or 143,200 MT. His optimism was based on his recent field visits and initial reports of DA regional offices. Barring adverse weather conditions in the remaining months of the year, the country would then expect an 18.6-million MT record harvest, said Delima, who also serves as the DA’s national rice program coordinator. Jun Icban-Legaspi and Joel dela Torre‐rice‐prices‐will‐be‐back‐to‐normalpcga                                 

Hamon ng solon kay Alcala: Rice cartel buwagin Ni Butch Quejada (Pilipino Star Ngayon) | Updated September 24, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Hinamon ni Akbayan partylist Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz si Department of Agriculture (DA) Sec. Proceso Alcala na lansagin na ang mga kartel at mga ismagler ng bigas na sinasabi nitong nasa likod ng patuloy at walang tigil na pagtaas ng presyo ng bigas sa bansa. Ayon kay Rep. Dela Cruz, hindi na dapat hintayin pa ng nasabing ahensya ang pagdating ng panahon na hindi na makayanang bumili nito ang karaniwang mamamayan. Pinuna ni Rep. Dela Cruz ang mabilis na pagtaas sa presyo ng bigas ngayong taon kumpara sa mga paakyat na galaw nito ng mga nakaraang taon. “Ilang beses na inulit-ulit ni Sec. Alcala ang mga sinabi niyang iyon sa media. Meron pa nga siyang pahayag na sasampahan niya ng kasong ‘economic sabotage’ ang mga sangkot sa ‘hoarding’ ng bigas ngunit hindi pa rin ito sapat upang mapigilan ang pag-angat ng presyo nito,” ani Dela Cruz. “Hindi nakakain ang statements. Hindi ito makakatulong sa pagbaba ng presyo ng bigas. Baka yung kababayan natin, sa kawalan ng bigas, dyaryo na lang ang nginunguya,” pahayag pa ng mambabatas. Sa datos sa website ng Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS),, ang tinging regular milled na bigas ay karaniwang mabibili noong pangalawang linggo ng Setyembre sa pamantayang presyo na 36.1 pesos kada kilo. Mas mataas ito ng 3.7 pesos noong kaparehong mga buwan noong nakaraang taon at mas mataas ng 4.7 pesos kesa sa karaniwang presyo nito noong 2011. Sinabi rin ni Dela Cruz na hindi maramdaman ang epekto ng mga sinasabi ng DA tungkol sa suplay ng bigas sa bansa dahil marami pa rin ang nagrereklamo sa taas ng presyo nito ngayon sa mga palengke. Dagdag pa ng party-list solon na maaaring ang mga pinakamagandang pagtaya ni Sec. Alcala sa kalagayan ng bigas ay nakabatay sa pangako nito sa Pangulo noong 2010 na makakamit ng bansa ang rice self-sufficiency ngayong taon.

“Naiintindihan ko kung ayaw niyang mapahiya. Ngunit, higit pa sa kahihiyan, ang nakataya dito ay ang kapakanan ng ating mga kababayan,” ayon pa kay Dela Cruz. Ang tinutukoy ng mambabatas ay ang mga ulat ng nasabing ahensya na nagsasaad na “ayon sa pagtaya ng BAS aabot lamang sa 18.45 milyong metriko tonelada ang produksyon ng palay sa bansa samantalang ipinagyayabang ni Sec. Alcala na ang ani ngayong taon ng palay ay magiging 20 milyong MT.                                      

ATDF dinagsa ng mga magsasaka Ni Mer Layson (Pilipino Star Ngayon) | Updated September 24, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Mahigit sa 2,000 magsasaka na galing sa iba’t-ibang panig ng bansa ang dumalo sa 2nd year anniversary ng Agri Techno Demo Forum (ATDF) na ginanap sa PIA building sa Visayas Avenue, Quezon City noong Sabado. Ang ATDF ay isinilang sa programang Maunlad na Agrikultura ni Ka Francis Cansino na napapakinggan araw-araw sa Radyo ng Bayan ganap na alas-4:00 hanggang alas-5:00 ng madaling araw. Pawang mga tagapakinig sa radyo ni Ka Francis ang karamihan na dumalo sa ATDF na nagnanais na makabatid ng mga bagong teknolohiya sa larangan ng pagsasaka, pag-aalaga ng hayop, tulad ng baboy at manok at pag-aalaga ng isda, sa pamamagitan ng organikong pamamaraan. Pinasaya ni Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala ang mga dumalo sa anibersaryo ng ATDF dahil sa pagbibigay nito ng ibat-ibang pa-raffle tulad ng mga gamit sa pagbubungkal ng lupa, grass cutter, bigas, tatlong kalabaw at iba pa. Inihayag ni Sec. Alcala ang kanyang buong suporta sa mga organizer sa pangunguna ni Ka Francis, Sonny Estrella, at iba pang opisyal ng Agri Techno Demo Forum; Kapampangan Development Foundation na pinamumunuan ni Sylvia Ordonez; gayundin sa bagong tatag na Golden Beans and Grains Producers Cooperative (GBGPC) na pinamumunuan ni Dok Nilo Dela Cruz na nangakong ipapalaganap ang pagtatanim ng wonder crop na organic soya sa bansa. Nakiisa rin sa anibersaryo ng ATDF ang Philippine National Red Cross, Gen. Richard Albano, director ng QCPD na siyang nagbigay ng seguridad sa paligid; Philmech; Central Luzon State University, BFAR, Bureau of Plant and Industry at iba pang sangay ng DA na nagbigay ng libreng binhi ng Soya sa pangunguna ni Ma’am Jenny Castañeto.‐dinagsa‐ng‐mga‐magsasaka             

P‐Noy did the right thing SEARCH FOR TRUTH By Ernesto M. Maceda (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 24, 2013 ‐  12:00am 

After 8 days of overseeing the fighting with the MNLF Misuari forces in Zamboanga, President Aquino returned to Manila, leaving Secretaries Mar Roxas, Voltaire Gazmin, and Dinky Soliman to take care of the remaining operations. Now comes the bigger job of rehabilitating and reconstructing Zamboanga, including public schools and buildings, and resettling 118,000 evacuees who lost 10,160 houses in the different fires set off by the MNLF and the fighting. There has been widespread debate as to whether President Aquino should have personally taken control of the Zamboanga operations. We believe he did the right thing. The MNLF forces that attacked and invaded Zamboanga were following Nur Misuari’s declaration of independence of the whole of Mindanao. That was a declaration of war. The Zamboanga invasion was no small matter that could be left to cabinet members alone. While the battle produced more than 130 casualties, more than 200 wounded, and an estimated P6 billion in damage, it was a price to pay to safeguard the independence of the Republic and a direct message to all rebels that the Philippine government will not tolerate any attempt or challenge to the sovereignty of the country. The 3 Cabinet Secretaries, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the City of Zamboanga, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and various civic volunteer organizations joined hands to take care of the emergency. They did a good job. Imagine the magnitude of serving 125,000 food packs, 3 times a day. Now comes the harder part of curing the trauma of 800,000 people, the rebuilding of 10,160 homes, the restoring of business establishments, and the reopening of schools. Charges of rebellion must now be filed against Chairman Nur Misuari, Commander Malik, and all the MNLF forces who took part in the Zamboanga siege.

Peace a long way off There’s no peace in Mindanao as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and New People’s Army (NPA) rebels mounted attacks in Kidapawan, North Cotabato, and Balingasag, Misamis Oriental. 150 BIFF fighters attacked Midsayap, North Cotabato and took pupils and teachers hostage from the Malinao Elementary School. 18th, 19th, 20th blasts happened in Zamboanga City. The 18th was the explosion of an improvised explosive device (IED) in a bus, killing 3. The 19th saw the explosion of an IED in a vacant lot, while the 20th destroyed a house in Tetuan, killing one woman. Yes, it’s a long way to peace in Mindanao as the NPA killed 3 militiamen men and 1 soldier, when NPA rebels attacked their military outpost in Sitio Lantad, Barangay Kibanban, Misamis Oriental. After PDAF and Malampaya A 3rd batch of 3 senators and 32 congressmen have devoted a total of P470.75 million to the Philippine Forest Corporation (Philforest), the major part of which was supposed to fund the establishment of Jatropha plantations. This was reported by Undersecretary Annaliza Rebuelta-Teh, OIC of Philforest, who confirmed that this new batch of lawmakers’ allocation was released during 2010-2012, using 11 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as the ultimate recipient of funds. The following congressmen allegedly funneled their PDAF to Philforest from 2011 to 2012: Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas – P15 million, P5 M, P4 M; Misamis Oriental Rep. Peter Unabia – P1.71 M; Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali – P5 M, P10 M, P15 M; Negros Occidental Rep. Jose Carlos Lacson – P10 M; Basilan Rep. Hadjiman Hataman Saliman – P11 M; Agusan del Norte Rep. Potenciano Payuyo – P5 M; Misamis Oriental Rep. Salvador Cabaluna III – P15 M, P7.5 M; Basilan Rep. Michael Angelo Rivera – P15 M, P7.5 M; Bukidnon Rep. Jesus Emmanuel Paras – P5 M; Northern Samar Rep. Emilio Ong – P13 M, P10 M; Masbate Rep. Antonio Kho – P15 M, P15 M; Cagayan de Oro Rep. Benjamin Benaldo – P5 M, P10 M; Basilan Rep. Nicanor Briones – P5 M; Davao Oriental Rep. Nelson Dayanghirang – P4 M; Davao del Sur Rep. Franklin Bautista – P1 M; Agusan del Norte Rep. Jose Aquino – P1 M, P2.425 M; Misamis Oriental Rep. Yevgeny Vicente Emano – P3 M; Davao del Sur Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas – P7 M; Abono partylist Rep. Raymund Estrella – P3 M; North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco – P5 M, P4 M; Cebu Rep. Ramon Durano VI – P4 M, P5 M; Oriental Mindoro Rep. Rodolfo Valencia – P3 M, P2 M; Rizal Rep. Joel Roy Duavit – P10 M; Zamboanga City Rep. Ma. Isabel Climaco – P4 M; Ang Kasangga party-list Rep. Teodorico Haresco – P1.5 M; Lanao del Norte Rep. Fatima

Dimaporo – P5 M; APEC partylist Rep. Ponciano Payuyo – P2 M; Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tañada – P9.7 M; Misamis Oriental Rep. Isidro Lico – P4.5 M; TUCP partylist Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza – P13 M; Palawan Rep. Antonio Alvarez – P3.880 M; Laguna Rep. Ma. Evita Arago – P5 M. 2 more DA agencies A recent report showed that PDAF releases have been made to implement projects nominated by lawmakers to 2 more departments of Agriculture agencies. The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) released P24.8 million to an NGO for use in antismuggling operations as found out by the Commission on Audit (COA). The COA also questioned the use of the National Agricultural and Fishery Council (NAFC) of P116.7 million to various NGOs and people’s organizations for livelihood projects. Marcos bombshell Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. exploded his own bombshell ahead of the scheduled privilege speeches of Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla. Marcos said that Malacañang disbursed P475 million of so-called stimulus funds from the Disbursement Allocation Fund (DAF) to 6 senators to buy their votes to impeach Chief Justice Corona. The funds were released through the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). The DAF which amounts to P77 billion is another pork barrel of the President. Marcos’ revelation confirms that the President is also guilty of misusing his pork barrel.‐noy‐did‐right‐thing     


COA scores DBM over Malampaya Fund release By Gil C. Cabacungan  Philippine Daily Inquirer   12:08 am | Tuesday, September 24th, 2013  

The Commission on Audit (COA) has criticized the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for haphazardly disbursing P23.6 billion from the Malampaya Fund during the Arroyo administration, which spent 60 percent of the money a few months before the end of its term. The COA has also recommended that charges be brought against officials, employees and recipients who benefited from the careless use of money from the Malampaya Fund. In two consecutive annual audit reports on the DBM from 2010 and 2011, the COA cited several serious lapses in releases from the Malampaya Fund, labeled as “Special Account in General Fund 151”: actual cash allocations exceeded official allotments by close to P4 billion; several checks for a total of P271.798 million were released to unidentified people without authorization papers; no accountability for the release of P2.609 billion to local governments; recipients were not obliged to report their use of the funds; and the DBM did not give disbursement vouchers to the audit. The COA report gave an “adverse opinion” on the fairness of the DBM’s financial report on the Malampaya Fund due to these glaring lapses in fund monitoring. Unauthorized projects In a separate report on the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in 2010, the COA said the P7.07 billion from the Malampaya Fund the agency received was not in accordance with the use of the fund (for energy-related projects) as the projects were not approved by the Department of Energy. Releases from the Malampaya Fund used from 2006 to December 2010 are currently the subject of a special audit by the COA, including P900 million released through the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) that was allegedly channeled through questionable nongovernment organizations (NGOs) set up by detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles. In both the 2010 and the 2011 reports, the COA noted that the number of notices of cash allocation (NCAs) issued by the DBM exceeded the total amount of special allotment release orders (Saros) it released in 2008 (with an excess of P2.090 billion) and in 2009 (with an excess of P1.716 billion). “We recommend that management conduct an investigation into the releases out of Fund 151 and make the concerned officials, employees and recipients benefited liable for their illegal actions if proven guilty,” the COA said.

Local shares The COA recommended that the DBM coordinate with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Bureau of Treasury to properly account for the share of the national government and Palawan province from the oil and gas find in the Camago-Malampaya reservoir under Service Contract 38 operated by Shell Exploration and Occidental Philippines. The COA also recommended the transfer of the authority to release NCAs from the DBM to the Treasury “because there is no independent body checking on whether the NCAs being prepared and issued by the DBM do not exceed the amounts of Saros issued.” The COA cited the DBM for issuing four checks—two of which were for P100 million each— for Palawan province and Bago City between April and June 2009 received by unidentified people who had no authorization letter from the payee-government servicing bank. The COA noted that the local governments have yet to confirm receipt of the funds. The DBM claimed that the people who received the checks were liaison officers of the bank, but when the COA checked with Land Bank of the Philippines’ branch in Malacañang it found that the bank had no liaison officer. Different codes Another cause of confusion in tracking the money from the Malampaya Fund was the DBM’s use of different codes other than the designated Fund 151 in the accounting report. The COA said this was in violation of COA guidelines as it resulted in “difficulty in recording, reporting and auditing of the release and utilization of the funds.” Why, the COA wanted to know, did the DBM not require the local governments to submit reports, including the list of projects for which the funds were used?    

The COA said the accountability for P2.609 billion from the Malampaya Fund that went to local governments could not be determined because these were booked as outright subsidies or expenses that did not require liquidation reports instead of as interagency fund transfers that required strict reporting. Recipients Based on the COA memo on the special audit, the recipients of the Malampaya Fund were the DPWH, with P7.073 billion; Department of Agriculture (DA), P5.824 billion; Palawan, P3.958 billion; Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), P2.14 billion; Department of Finance-National Housing Authority (DOF-NHA), P1.398 billion; Department of National

Defense (DND), P1.198 billion; DAR, P900 million; Department of Health (DOH), P745.926 million; DOE, P250 million; DBM, P62 million; Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC)-Philippine Coast Guard, P50 million; and Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (DOST-Pagasa), P400,000. Only P9 billion from the Malampaya Fund was released outside the October to December 2009 period as then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her Cabinet officials agreed to release over P14 billion supposedly to bankroll efforts to help victims of Tropical Storms “Ondoy” and “Pepeng.” Palace ‘misuse’ Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares on Monday said President Aquino’s channeling of the Malampaya Fund to the defense department and the military should be considered misuse, as this did not fall under the purpose of the fund. Colmenares said he did not buy Malacañang’s reason that the use of the funds for the defense department was to protect the Malampaya gas project. Such a reasoning was a stretch of the imagination, he said. Colmenares said about P1.3 billion from the Malampaya Fund went to the acquisition of a cutter from the US Coast Guard and for the transfer, dry-docking and hull maintenance of the vessel, while another P4.95 billion was given to the defense department to upgrade its capabilities for the security and protection of the Malamapaya gas project. “If this is their reasoning, maybe the President’s purchase of a nuclear missile could be charged to the Malampaya Fund by saying that it is intended to protect the Malampaya project,” Colmenares said in a statement. No other purpose Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte earlier said the Aquino administration used the Malampaya Fund for energy-related projects, including the purchase, refurbishment and transport of a cutter from the US Coast Guard. Valte explained that the cutter, renamed the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, was to be deployed to secure the country’s energy resources in the West Philippine Sea. According to Valte, the Aquino administration did not use the fund for purposes other than what was laid down in the presidential decree covering the use of the fund. Under the Marcos-era decree, the fund can only be used for the government’s energydevelopment projects. The administration has disbursed P15.255 billion from the Malampaya Fund.

Lower power cost But Colmenares said that if the fund was just used for the development of the energy industry as intended, the money could have helped lower power costs or reduce blackouts in the country. “This kind of spending is what makes the pork barrel, especially the presidential pork barrel, anomalous,” he added. He said that in sum, nearly half of the P15 billion Malampaya disbursements went to the defense department and the military. “It is in this light that we are urging Malacañang to stop being a hypocrite and stop fooling the public,” he said.—With a report from Leila B. Salaverria   Read more:‐scores‐dbm‐over‐malampaya‐fund‐ release#ixzz2fmifcmuz   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook                             

Negros food stalls named after Robredo By Danny Dangcalan (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 24, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – The officials of Pulupandan in Negros Occidental have named the food stalls after the late interior secretary Jesse Robredo, as a show of gratitude for recognizing the town’s good governance. The food stalls, located in the public market, were constructed using the Performance Challenge Fund (PCF) amounting to P1,000,000 that was awarded by the DILG to the municipal government for winning the Seal of Good Housekeeping in 2012. The Seal of Good Housekeeping is given to the best performing local government units across the country that showed transparency and sound fiscal management. Since the grant of the PCF was generated through the efforts of Robredo, the municipal government deemed it best to honor the late secretary by naming the infrastructure after him.‐food‐stalls‐named‐after‐robredo                             

Peace, new rice breed bring hope to Maguindanao farmers By John Unson ( | Updated September 23, 2013 ‐ 1:37pm   

  Regional Agriculture Secretary Makmod Mending, Jr. (second from left) leads local officials in inspecting  a demonstration farm for a high‐yield rice variety in Datu Saudi town in the second district of  Maguindanao. John Unson 

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - Samad, a 43-year-old Moro farmer in Datu Saudi town, is optimistic he can recover in the next two harvest seasons the losses that he incurred from armed conflicts that thrice devastated their village in recent months if the peace now in their municipality continues. “With the tranquility we now enjoy, government interventions intended to alleviate us from underdevelopment can take off without any disruption,” Samad said in the Maguindanaon dialect.

All of the barangays in Datu Saudi, a rice-producing town in the second district of Maguindanao, were badly affected by incursions by the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in 2011 and in ugust to September in 2012. Makmod Mending Jr., regional agriculture secretary of the Autonomous Region Muslim Mindanao, led over the weekend the first ever “rice harvest festival” in Datu Saudi to showcase how local officials and the ARMM are cooperating in restoring normalcy in conflict-stricken rice-producing areas in the province. The festival was also graced by Datu Saudi Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom, Abdulrashid Ladayo of the ARMM’s Cooperative Development Authority, and representatives from the office of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu. Mending said Mangudadatu’s office has been helping rebuild farming communities in the province through his free orchard, oil palm, and rubber tree seedling dispersal project, which started as early as 2010, during his first term as provincial governor. “Our latest projects in Maguindanao and other ARMM provinces are parallel with the development roadmap being pursued by the governor of the autonomous region, Mujiv Hataman, which involves Moro farmers and the local government units,” Mending said. The rice harvest festival in Datu Saudi sought to highlight the successful introduction into the area of high-yield rice varieties recommended by the central office of the Department of Agriculture. “If our farmers will continue to propagate these rice varieties, we are sure to have a considerable volume of rice surplus in Maguindanao in the coming months,” Mending said. The rice farms in Datu Saudi that were planted to high-yield varieties amazingly had an average 9.6-ton harvest per hectare, higher by almost two tons compared to previous harvests. The massive introduction to the region's rice-producing areas of high-yield rice varieties by the Hataman administration is in line with the national government’s Food Staple Sufficiency Program, according to Mending. A Moro farmer, Guiamat, 37, who had tried the new rice varieties, said he had harvested 9.5 tons of grains from each hectare of his farm. Guiamat's neighbor, Katutang, who is also a rice farmer, said he had produced 10.1 tons of grains from every hectare of his rice farm.‐new‐rice‐breed‐bring‐hope‐ maguindanao‐farmers     

National gov’t trims debt payments in July to P53B by Chino Leyco  September 23, 2013  

The national government debt payments narrowed last July as the Aquino administration’s servicing for principal obligation fell more than half compared with the amount it settled in the same month last year. Data from the Bureau of Treasury showed on (Monday) September 23 that the significant decline in government’s payments for principal debt in the domestic market was the main factor for overall drop in the total debt servicing last July.The national government’s total debt payments stood at only P67.81 billion during the month, or lower by 18 percent compared with P82.6 billion in the same month last year. Last July, the government paid P53.51 billion worth of interest, higher by four percent compared with P51.29 billion a year ago, while principal payments during the month amounted to P14.3 billion, lower by 54 percent year-on-year from P212.78 billion.Of the total interest payments, the government paid local creditors some P32.12 billion, which is higher by nine percent compared with P29.34 billion settlement in the previous year. On the other hand, the government paid P21.38 billion to settle some of its interest cost obligation with foreign lenders, however, the amount is lower by 2.5 percent compared with P21.95 billion in July, 2012. Meanwhile, the government’s principal payments to domestic lenders during the month declined by 57 percent to P12.6 billion from P29.88 billion in the same month in 2012. Total principal servicing to offshore creditors, meanwhile, increased 18 percent year-on-year to P1.7 billion from P1.43 billion.Debt servicing refers to payments of both interest and principal. The debt service burden excludes actual outflows such as rescheduling or refinancing of existing debt and conversion of debt to equity. In January to July this year, the government’s debts servicing decreased by 14 percent to P264.19 billion from P445.4 billion in the same period a year ago. Of the amount, the government’s interest payments reached P210.64 billion, while principal payment amounted to P172.55 billion. As of June this year, the outstanding debt of the national government stood at P5.451 trillion, higher by seven percent compared with P5.101 trillion in the same period last year. Of the total government debt stock at end-June, the treasury data showed that 64.2 percent was from local creditors, while the remaining balance of 35.8 percent was sourced from offshore lenders.‐govt‐trims‐debt‐payments‐in‐july‐to‐p53b/ 

Report: Mining harms Nueva Vizcaya's resources By Artemio A. Dumlao ( | Updated September 23, 2013 ‐ 11:19am 

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – An independent probe on mining ventures in Nueva Vizcaya has allegedly unearthed cases of poisoning and plunder of community resources. A fact-finding mission led by anti-mining alliance “Defend Patrimony” along with Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Vizcayanos para sa Kalikasan (ANVIK) said it discovered a number of cases of ecological destruction and resource plunder commited by three big mining companies in Nueva Vizcaya province. The mission participants said they unearthed “massive biodiversity loss, water pollution, and human rights violations along indigenous peoples and peasant communities” affected by foreign mining corporations Oceana Gold and FCF Minerals. “Based on the initial investigation we conducted, we surmise the main river in Barangay Didipio where Oceana Gold released their mining effluents is biologically dead. In our scoping study, we observed the foul stench, the thick, orange-brown siltation and the disappearance of aquatic resources. Water snails, shrimps, carp, mud fish and other local species that used to populate the river, according to locals, have all disappeared,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) and lead of the environmental scoping team on Oceana Gold gold mining operation. Water pollution in Didipio, Bautista said, has reached other barangays and communities in Qurino province. The Didipio River merges with Diduyon River which traverses the Quirino province. Local residents have reported the reduction of frog population and the increase of mosquito population in the communities. Frogs and fish are known as natural biological controls of mosquitos. The independent probers said the “biological imbalance could threaten nearby communities in Brgy. Didipio with an outbreak of dengue and other insect-borne diseases.” Villager Luis Paulino of Barangay Alimit in Kasibu town said “small-scale miners and other folks who have been exposed to the waters where Oceana Gold’s tailings flow have consistently experienced itching and [complained of inhaling] squalid odors." He added that"‘rare wildlife such as makawa (local deer), hagiit (wild boars) and kalaw hornbills)" that were used to be seen in the forests can no longer be seen’. The disappearance of these animals allegedly started when Oceana Gold started to clear the forest, blast the mountains and excavate the lands.

The scoping team in Brgy. Runruno where the Runruno Gold and Molybdenum project of FCF Minerals is currently in the mine development stage called the current environmental impacts as “another Didipio in the making, following in the polluter giant’s footsteps.” “Similar to Oceana Gold’s mine development stage, waterways have either decreased in both flow and volume or have completely dried up, while some ‘dead creeks’, as locals put it, have suddenly strengthened most likely due to deliberate water diversion. We also observed signs of decreased water quality, including signs of chemical contamination and increased turbidity in comparison to observed unaffected rivers that will likely impact on the irrigation, potable water supply and sanitation of communities,” said Dr. Chito Medina, national coordinator of the peasant-scientist group MASIPAG and lead expert of the scoping team on FCF Minerals. The groups also noted the destruction of rice fields, citrus plantations and other cultivated lands alongside homes and properties in all affected barangays by both the Australian-owned Oceana Gold and British-owned FCF Minerals. Fr. Vicente Tiam, chair of the mission’s lead organizer group Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan (ANNVIK), said “the findings of the mission is a clarion call for justice on the crimes committed by mining TNCs to the people and the environment of Nueva Vizcaya."

RYM completes infusion of P162 M to Benguet Corp. By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 24, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Mining firm Benguet Corp. announced RYM Business Management Corp. (RBMC) has completed the first part of its private placement agreement with the company with the infusion of P162 million. Last month, Benguet approved the P250 million capital infusion by RYM which will be used to augment the working capital of existing mining operations. The first part of the placement entails the subscription by RBMC to roughly 18 million common shares valued at P162 million. Benguet Corp. chief finance officer (CFO) Renato Claraval earlier said that RBMC would have a “minor” ownership in Benguet after the completion of the placement. Benguet operates the Sta. Cruz Nickel Project in Sta. Cruz, Zambales and the Acupan Gold Project in Itogon, Benguet. In the second quarter of the year, Benguet reported a modest net income of P332,000 down from P158 million in the same period last year. Net earnings for the first semester of the year fell to P36.6 million from P184.9 million in the same period last year. Consolidated operating revenues for the second quarter of the year rose to P605.7 million from P474.5 million. For the first semester, operating revenues rose to P1.26 billion from P694 million in 2012.


Coconut oil may help fight heart disease By Queena N. Lee‐Chua  Philippine Daily Inquirer   8:41 pm | Monday, September 23rd, 2013  

Coconut oil does not cause coronary heart disease (CHD), says National Academy of Science and Technology academic and Ateneo de Manila University chemist Fabian M. Dayrit, son of the late coconut oil research pioneer Conrado S. Dayrit. “Coconut oil may even help fight CHD,” he says. As to the claim in the United States Dietary Guidelines that coconut oil, a saturated fat, raises CHD risk, Dayrit says, “The guidelines try to make healthy recommendations but reflect the interests of the US food industry.” Nonfattening “It is wrong to lump all fats into one group,” he says. Fats differ in quality and health effects. Excessive intake of palm oil, dairy and animal fats, which are saturated fats, can lead to weight gain. While also saturated, coconut oil has different chemical structures and properties. It can even lead to weight loss as it raises body temperature. “Coconut oil is the only fat that does not fatten us,” Dayrit says. Fish oils, which contain Omega-3, are deemed healthy, increasing good cholesterol, decreasing inflammation and protecting against CHD. But Dayrit says fish oil may not protect against cancer (like prostate). Coconut oil may protect not only against cancer but also Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, skin, gastrointestinal and oral diseases, perhaps even AIDS. In 1998, the elder Dayrit treated 14 individuals infected with HIV (the AIDS-causing virus) with coconut oil. After six months, nine had fewer viral counts. Only one died. “I gargle with virgin coconut oil (VCO) when I have a sore throat, making sure it comes in contact with the sore area,” says Dayrit. “My sore throat usually goes away within 30 minutes.”

Olive oil may lead to weight gain and its effects on CHD are not known. Canola oil is now being genetically modified to mimic the composition of coconut oil, says Dayrit. Toxic fats Corn, soy and other Omega-6s have the worst effects. They reduce good cholesterol, promote inflammation, lead to obesity, and up the odds of CHD and cancer. When they become solid like margarine, shortening and other hydrogenated fats, trans fats form, “wreaking havoc” on our health. They are so “toxic that we cannot do human experiments with them,” Dayrit says. Trans fats raise the risk of CHD, strokes, cancer, metabolic diseases, possibly even aggression and depression. Dayrit suggests staying away from hydrogenated oils and fats.    

Omega-6 intake from food should be limited. Corn and soybean oils form toxic products when heated. On the other hand, coconut oil remains stable and is the healthiest for frying. “Too much consumption of corn, soybean, canola, sunflower oils may be partly the cause for the rise in metabolic and inflammatory dysfunctions, including CHD and cancer,” says Dayrit. The modern Western diet that calls for low-fat, high Omega-6 is making people ill, he adds. All-out attack In 1919, Philippine coconut oil exports to the United States were nearly 40 percent of our national earnings. A decade later, “US soybean producers slapped taxes to treble the cost of coconut oil,” says Dayrit. “Industry opposition reached its height in the 1980s when the American Soy Association launched an all-out attack against coconut oil.” US physiologist Ancel Keys had the original idea that saturated fats raised cholesterol and caused CHD. Although he collected data from 22 countries, in 1986 he chose only seven in support of his theory. Keys’ conclusions “were promptly accepted by 99.9 percent of doctors,” says Dayrit. “Dissenters were ignored.” Subsequent studies led to different results. In 2010, World Health Organization data from 192 countries revealed no relationship between cholesterol and CHD. In 1996, the Mediterranean paradox showed that several European countries with high-fat diets had less CHD.

Many South Pacific and Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines, had consumed coconuts for millennia, with “no reports of disease”—until they adopted a predominantly Western diet. Healthy Bicolanos The Bicolanos consume the most coconuts in the country. With coconut milk (gata) in much of their foods, more than 60 percent of their fat calories come from coconut. Shouldn’t they have a high heart disease rate? But Bicolanos have the lowest heart and brain disease mortality rates, according to data since the 1960s: 937, compared to 2,582 for Manila, and 2,076 and 1,691 for other parts of Central Luzon. Cholesterol increases naturally with age. “Artificially” lowering it with statins “comes at a high cost, including liver damage and possibly diabetes,” says Dayrit. A 2009 US study found that nearly 75 percent of heart attack patients had “normal” cholesterol levels. “Coconut oil is now praised as a miracle,” says Dayrit. “It is the best oil on earth, but there is no miracle anything.” But more work is needed to verify coconut oil’s healing properties. Though safe, big doses can cause upset stomach and diarrhea. Get VCO from reputable sources and start with a teaspoon daily. “Used externally, it is completely safe,” says Dayrit. “Very few other remedies can claim this.” “Coconut Oil: From Diet to Therapy” (Anvil, 2013) by Conrado S. Dayrit and Fabian M. Dayrit is available in National Book Store. E-mail the author at   Read more:‐oil‐may‐help‐fight‐heart‐ disease#ixzz2fmWK3VN2   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook 

BSP to strengthen Islamic banking Category: Top News Published on Monday, 23 September 2013 21:35 Written by Bianca Cuaresma THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is coming out with a special facility that would extend financial services to believers of Islam but without violating their Koranic values, particularly on the charging of interest that the religion’s faithful frown upon as usurious. The plan is to open up the BSP’s rediscounting window to sharia lending entities, essentially a mechanism that allows lenders to exchange their loan receivables for cash but at a discount, effectively giving them cash that they then use to turn around and give even more loans. The sharia rediscounting window places Islamic lenders on equal footing with their more commercial counterparts and comes at a time of healing, particularly in Mindanao, where lack of business opportunities and financial-services support drive some residents to desperation. According to the BSP, the sharia rediscounting window forms part of a larger effort to achieve an inclusive financial system that delivers financial services not only to the unbanked but also to the Muslim community. This, the BSP said, can contribute to the peace effort in certain areas in Mindanao, where the opportunities for advancement are limited, but which could be improved if financial-services infrastructure exist. “This will surely be welcomed and totally embraced by Muslim brothers and sisters. Islamic banks will be granted similar privileges enjoyed by the mainstream banks, to avail themselves of the BSP’s credit facilities. This will also contribute to the efforts of lasting peace in certain areas in Mindanao,” BSP Deputy Governor for the Resource Management Sector and Security Plant Complex Vicente Aquino said. According to Nestor Espenilla Jr., BSP deputy governor for the Supervision and Examination Sector, the key difference between Islamic banks and conventional banks is that Islamic banks provide financial services but do not charge interest like conventional banks do. A shari’a bank typically engages clients by buying a house or a car on their behalf, for instance, and selling these back to the client at a slightly higher price. Its depositors also do not earn interest on their money but get a share in the profits made at the end of the year. Espenilla said the Philippines has a “significant and economically active Muslim population” and extending financial services that are appropriate for them would be beneficial.

He said there is only one bank, the Al-Amanah Islamic Investment Bank of the Philippines (AAIIBP), that is authorized to offer Islamic banking services in the country for now. It was unclear whether or not the government would continue to pursue Al Amanah Islamic Bank’s on-again and off-again privatization plan, the lender being a subsidiary of the stateowned Development Bank of the Philippines. Then-Finance Secretary Margarito Teves wanted the lender sold to private hands and acknowledged feeling a tad worried each time he signs a government check to ensure its continued operations. AAIIBP is headquartered in Zamboanga City. According to Espenilla, AAIIBP’s operations remain small-scale. He also said the financial reforms for Islamic banking hopes to pave the way for the development of a broad system of Islamic banking and not just individually. The BSP is preparing to draft new rules for the BSP to extend its financial services to Islamic banks that are in accordance with the provisions of Islamic banking. “Example, for credit facilities, rediscount facilities for a conventional bank. But since rediscount facilities have interest rates, it’s not the right product for Islamic banks. This one gives us the flexibility to design and adjust based on practices in the Islamic finance,” Espenilla said. The proposed reforms on Islamic banking in the Philippines form part of the larger effort to amend the BSP charter. The central bank has pursued changes to its two-decade-old charter in keeping with the growing and changing economic dynamics of the country. According to BSP officials, the draft bill has already been submitted to the Senate and the House of Representatives. One of the key provisions is the request for a fresh injection of capital worth P150 billion.‐news/19819‐bsp‐to‐strengthen‐islamic‐ banking                 

Govt races against time to forge Mindanao peace Category: Top News Published on Monday, 23 September 2013 21:29 Written by Joel Guinto and Clarissa Batino / Bloomberg News THE Philippines faces time limits to complete a peace pact this year with the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, as clashes in Mindanao between government troops and other separatists continued for a second week. “We are working on a tight time frame,” Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, the head of the government’s peace panel, said in a video news conference from Kuala Lumpur on September 21. While many issues on power-sharing and disarming the Moro Islamic Liberation Front were resolved after 10 days of talks that ended on September 20, agreement is yet to be reached on those two matters before a final deal can be sealed, she said. Talks will resume soon, and amid the violence in Mindanao, both parties are “acutely aware” of the importance of ensuring that this peace agreement serves the interest of all Muslims, CoronelFerrer said. A wealth-sharing deal was signed in July. Four decades of insurgency in Mindanao has killed as many as 200,000 and stifled development of the resource-rich island. Ending one of Southeast Asia’s most entrenched conflicts could help bring investors to Mindanao and unlock mineral deposits worth an estimated $300 billion. Mindanao accounted for 14.4 percent of Philippine output in 2012, according to government data. The Zamboanga peninsula, which contributed 2.1 percent to the economy last year, expanded 12.4 percent, the fastest among the nation’s 17 regions, the data show. Muslims account for 5 percent of the Philippines’s 103 million-strong population, according to estimates by the US Central Intelligence Agency. At least 107 people have been killed and more than 126,000 displaced since September 9, when fighting broke out in Zamboanga City between government forces and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The dead include 11 civilians, 14 military and police and 82 MNLF fighters, according to the latest figures from the government. Chief Inspector Ariel Huesca of the Zamboanga police said on September 21 that 170 hostages held by rebels have been rescued. Police also reported the capture or surrender of 144 members of the MNLF. Charges of rebellion were filed against at least 29 MNLF fighters, including 25 in custody and the alleged commander, Habier Malik, who remains at large, Chief Inspector Elizabeth Jasmin, spokesman at the police’s investigation group, said in a mobile-phone message.

Authorities will ensure all stakeholders, including the MNLF, are consulted when legislation creating Bangsamoro, an expanded autonomous region, is crafted, Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles said on Sept. 11. “The work is cut out for the government and the MILF to come up with an inclusive and effective agreement that is acceptable to the Moro people,” Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform in Manila, said by phone. “The realistic assumption is there will always be those who will oppose but hopefully, it’s not on a scale that will create a rebel group that can mount a major rebellion.” President Aquino has spent the past week in Zamboanga to direct operations after deploying his interior and defense secretaries to the region on Sept. 9. He ordered the military to investigate why the MNLF seem not to be running out of ammunition, a newspaper reported. Before the Sept. 9 fighting started, the peace panel expected to forge an agreement soon, according to its statement on Aug. 25. “Our goal is to put in place the new institution by 2016,” Ferrer said, referring to Bangsamoro. “We know we have to finish this as soon as possible. We are taking measures that will help us fast-track the process as we continue the negotiations.”‐news/19817‐govt‐races‐against‐time‐to‐ forge‐mindanao‐peace                       

Landslides, floods kill 22 in Zambales By Bebot Sison Jr. (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 24, 2013 ‐ 12:00am    

  Soldiers and volunteers search for bodies following a landslide caused by heavy rains in Barangay Cawag,  Subic, Zambales yesterday. EDD GUMBAN   

SUBIC, Philippines – For two days, the monsoon rains poured incessantly, swelling rivers and causing flooding up to two meters deep. On the third day yesterday, soil loosened by the rains came crashing down on communities in Zambales, burying scores of residents. As of last night, 22 bodies had been found in the landslide areas, with the town of Subic the worst hit. The monsoons, enhanced by Super Typhoon Odette (international name Usagi), stranded hundreds of residents on rooftops in Subic and cut off the municipality from the rest of the province, officials said. Subic Mayor Jefferson Khonghun said heavy rains caused rain-soaked soil to cascade down.

“We’ve been experiencing very heavy rain. We are now isolated. I can confirm there are two landslide incidents here – in Barangays Wawandue and San Isidro,” Khonghun said. He said it was the worst flooding they have seen so far. “The floodwater is about two meters in many areas, and the rain is pounding and the water keeps on rising,” he said. Khonghun said four rivers that pass through Subic were heavily silted and overflowed, causing the floods. Ten of the fatalities were recovered in Barangay Cawag and six in Barangay San Isidro. 1Lt. Yvonne Ricaforte, civil- military operations officer of the Army’s 24th Battalion, said four bodies had also been found in barangay Agdlao in San Marcelino town. Another body was retrieved in Barangay Balaybay in Castillejos town, the Army added. In nearby Olongapo City, a 67-year-old woman drowned. Local officials tied ropes across flooded streets so people could hold on to them to keep from being swept away by strong currents, eyewitnesses said. People there carried their shivering children as they waded through the floodwaters amid submerged cars, an AFP reporter at the scene said. Affected were barangays Sta. Rita, Mabayuan, West Bajac Bajac, East Tapinac, Banicain and other areas near the river

channel. Ten persons remained missing as of yesterday afternoon, according to data from the Office of Civil Defense Central Luzon and the Army. Six of them were from Subic while four were from Castillejos.

Officials cry for help Khonghun called on the national government to come to the town’s aid. “We are appealing for rescuers, equipment, diggers. We need relief goods. We need help from the national government, please send in inflatable boats,” he said. Local authorities sent rubber boats and fire trucks to pick up residents but there were not enough to cope, Khonghun added. Government employee Cristina Humbert, 35, said the ground floor of her two-storey home was flooded but she managed to evacuate her 63-year-old mother to higher ground. “Many are on the rooftops, waiting for help. They are marooned, and are getting hungry and cold. We have no power, no electricity,” she told AFP. Classes in all levels and work in government offices were suspended due to the flooding. Odette passed through Northern Luzon over the weekend and has moved away from the country but it continued to exacerbate monsoon rains. Rescue teams sent The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) yesterday deployed two rubber boats to heavily flooded parts of Zambales to assist in search and rescue operations. The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and Philippine Red Cross also deployed two search and rescue teams each to Zambales. MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the same rescuers were deployed to Negros Oriental last year when an earthquake hit the province. Former senator and Red Cross chairman Richard Gordon said they are encouraging everyone in affected areas to evacuate as soon as they can, and for those who cannot relocate, to display a white flag outside their houses to notify rescuers. Olongapo City Mayor Rolen Paulino also said they sought the assistance of US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. to deploy personnel from US Navy ships docked in Subic Bay to assist with rescue efforts. Palace to probe flooding Meanwhile, Malacañang vowed yesterday to look into the cause of flooding in Zambales. Local authorities were reportedly citing the lack of dredging and flood-control programs in the area as cause of flooding problems.

Some residents managed to post messages and photos on social networking sites to seek help. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said disaster officials had been alerted about the situation and they would ask the Department of Public Works and Highways to respond to the statements of Khonghun that dredging operations in rivers in his area were stopped. “We will confirm with DPWH Secretary (Rogelio) Singson if there was such a thing and if that is really the reason why the floodwaters rose in Subic,” Lacierda said. Lacierda also said that if US Navy ships would help in the search and rescue in Zambales, they would have to coordinate with the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces. “We are just making sure that the proper coordination is done so everyone is on board and the assistance for the local governments will be coordinated,” Lacierda said. – With Alexis Romero, Ric Sapnu, Ding Cervantes, Mayen Jaymalin, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Evelyn Macairan, Mike Frialde, Aurea Calica‐floods‐kill‐22‐zambales                               

Currencies and manageability Category: Opinion Published on Monday, 23 September 2013 19:56 Written by The BusinessMirror Editorial

THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) wants some changes made to its charter, and the reason may well be pragmatic: It needs to save money. Getting some elbow room in the world of big-time finance costs an arm and a leg these days, and with the US still reeling from the last economic uppercut, its bonds would naturally demand more. The BSP revealed recently that it needs to change its 30-year-old charter to augment its fiscal power and give it more room to maneuver, in case of unforeseen circumstances. The proposition includes increasing capitalization by P150 billion. This is on top of the P50-billion capitalization ceiling. More than half of this amount goes to payables. With very little left to spend in case of spikes in peso value, the estimated P10 billion could only serve as the country’s crutches. It needs more, apparently. In August the BSP raised concerns about the risk of capital flight if and when the US Federal Reserve (the Fed) tapers its bond-buying scheme. This alone, the BSP believes, could affect a wide range of business opportunities, if not the economic system itself. The BSP, however, said the institution has enough in its virtual pocket to weather any storm. Mid-September came with a piece of unexpected news: The Fed will keep its bond-buying intact. The BSP said this decision by the US central bank would help the Philippines manage its financial-stability programs. But it does not prove sufficient. One of the ways to augment the BSP’s coffers is exemptions from all kinds of taxes. More money to spend means more control for the BSP in keeping prices and markets stable. Also, savings derived from tax exemptions are vital if the BSP is losing massive amounts of money.

However, it seems mixed messages have been sent. In 2012 the BSP reported that it had kept all government-owned corporations wallowing in the dust as it led the submission of dividends—to the tune of a little over P14 billion—to the national government. In the middle of that year, the country extended a $1-billion loan to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help thwart a spillover effect of the European financial crisis to Asia. An additional $350-million loan from the Philippines went to the euro zone in early 2013. It formed a small part of the overall contributions given by the IMF to European countries plagued with massive government debts. It is quite clear from these actions that the BSP has enough to “splurge” on assistance. Nonetheless, the BSP has reported a cumulative net loss of P188.11 billion from 2010 to 2012. The reason: It spent more money to keep the value of the peso in a stable, manageable rate. So, which is which? It goes, therefore, without saying that the balancing act the BSP is into proves more difficult to manage as time passes. As the barometer for economic stability, money can only go so far as to alleviate any chance at instability in the currency market. The currency market itself is moved by a different thing altogether: Speculation, mostly. Even with sufficient amounts of legal tender, it is the hardest thing in the world to control.‐currencies‐and‐manageability                     

Water policy Category: Opinion Published on Monday, 23 September 2013 19:48 Written by Sen. Edgardo J. Angara

IN a report released earlier this year, the Asian Development Bank identified the Philippines as one of many Asia-Pacific countries facing an imminent water crisis—a case of having either too much or too little water. On the five-point National Water Security Index, the country garnered a low 2, despite the clear abundance of its water resources. In terms of urban water management, the country received a 1 out of 5—one of the worst in Southeast Asia. Up to 160 billion cubic meters of water are said to be available in the country every year, but, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 70 percent of this is either wasted or lost to the sea. About one-third of this would have been sufficient for the everyday use of some 16 million Filipinos, who are without ready access to steady and safe water, in part, for lack of proper infrastructure such as catchments, reservoirs and piping systems. That water is necessary for agriculture to grow, industries to flourish and the environment to renew itself also makes it imperative that it be managed properly and holistically. During the 15th Congress—my last as a senator—I filed the Water Sector Reform Act, which was based on the globally recognized Integrated Water Resources Management approach. The bill sought to streamline the current governance framework, where as much as 16 major agencies have some control over the country’s water resources. Among its many provisions, the measure proposed that the country be divided and managed as provincial water-resource zones. River basin clusters would also be established wherever necessary to manage both upstream and downstream water resources.

But any approach to efficient and effective water governance should consider a changing climate. According to the United Nations, water is the primary medium through which climate change affects the world’s ecosystems and the people who are dependent on them. Hence, climate-change adaptation is largely about better water management. The Climate Change Commission (CCC) recently presented a climate-change map of Cagayan de Oro, one of the Philippines’s most vulnerable cities to natural disasters. This map provides a three-dimensional view of the area’s topography, and superimposes the possible impacts of hydrological factors, such as increased rainfall, humidity, flooding, soil erosion and ground-water absorption. The first of its kind in the country, the map was finished within six months through the collaborative efforts of the CCC, the Cagayan de Oro city government, the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority and the Department of Science and Technology, particularly its Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards). Such a tool would have been useful in preventing the destruction that Typhoon Sendong (international code name Washi) inflicted on Northern Mindanao in December 2011, when flashfloods claimed over a thousand lives and caused damages worth P2 billion. Similar maps are now being created for other flood-prone cities, including Metro Manila, with the hope that one for the entire nation would eventually be completed. This map represents one of the country’s several initiatives toward science-driven climatechange adaptation and, hence, toward better water policy. Such should be ramped up and optimized to better prepare the country for water-related risks. Recently, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released a new report, titled “Water Security for Better Lives,” where another approach to water security was proposed. In this report, sound water management meant balancing between four water risks—shortage (droughts), inadequate quality (pollution), excess (floods) and undermined capacity of freshwater systems to renew themselves (overuse). Policy-makers will have to assess and determine an acceptable level of risks for each area and ensure that the burden of carrying them is spread across stakeholders.Such an approach entails a heightened capacity for technology and a steady inflow of scientific data—the kind that made the new climate-change map of Cagayan de Oro possible. After showing that is equipped with the right tools, the government should now craft better water policies. Web site: E-mail:‐water‐policy 

Half of world’s population at risk for dengue, says WHO By Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 24, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Almost half of the world’s population is now at risk of contracting dengue, which the World Health Organization (WHO) considers as a “major international public health concern.” The WHO said “the incidence of dengue has grown dramatically around the world in recent decades. Over 2.5 billion people – over 40 percent of the world’s population – are now at risk from dengue.” The health agency also estimates that there are 50 to 100 million cases of dengue around the world every year. The WHO said that the transmission of the mosquito-borne disease has increased predominantly in urban and semi-urban areas in recent years until it has become a major health concern. Severe dengue (previously known as dengue hemorrhagic fever) was first recognized in the 1950s in the Philippines and Thailand. Today, the illness affects most Asian and Latin American countries and has become a “leading cause of hospitalization and deaths among children in these regions,” the WHO said. Only nine countries had experienced severe dengue epidemics before 1970. But now, the disease is endemic in more than 100 countries in Africa, the Americas, Eastern Mediterranean, Southeast Asia and Western Pacific. However, the Americas, Southeast Asia and Western Pacific are the “most seriously affected.” WHO said that cases across the Americas, Southeast Asia and Western Pacific have exceeded 1.2 million in 2008 and over 2.3 million in 2010. The agency warned that “not only is the number of cases increasing as the disease spreads to new areas, but explosive outbreaks are occurring.” “Threat of a possible outbreak of dengue fever now exists in Europe and local transmission of dengue was reported for the first time in France and Croatia in 2010, and cases were detected in three other European countries,” the agency said. “In 2012, an outbreak of dengue on Madeira islands of Portugal resulted in over 2 000 cases and imported cases were detected in 10 other countries in Europe apart from mainland Portugal,” the agency noted.This year, cases have also occurred in Florida in the United States and Yunnan province of China while the disease “continues to affect” several central American countries like Honduras, Costa Rica and Mexico. “In Asia, Singapore has reported an increase in cases after a lapse of several years, and outbreaks have also been reported in Laos,” the WHO added.‐worlds‐population‐risk‐dengue‐says‐who 

Aquino ‘misused’ P6B from Malampaya fund for nonenergy-related projects, says lawmaker Category: Economy Published on Monday, 23 September 2013 20:02 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning PARTY-LIST Rep. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna has accused Malacañang of lying when it claimed that President Aquino did not misuse the Malampaya funds. Colmenares said Palace mouthpieces cannot deny that a large portion of the funds was used for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Department of National Defense (DND). The AFP and the DND cannot be beneficiaries of the fund since the money is reserved for energy projects, the lawmaker said. Earlier, Colmenares said Palace Deputy Spokesman Abigail Valte admitted that Mr. Aquino had actually disbursed P15,255,416,490 in his three years in office, or P5 billion each year, much higher than former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s average Malampaya spending of P2.4 billion per year. Mr. Aquino disbursed, according to Valte, the Malampaya fund for the following projects: • Lump sum given to the National Power Corp. (Napocor), P2 billion; • Lump sum for the Public Transport Assistance Program (PTAP)-Pantawid Pasada, P300 million; • Another lump sum for PTAP- Pantawid Pasada, P150 million; • Acquisition of US Coast Guard Hamilton-class cutter, P423,063,900; • Fuel requirement, lease/rental and half of capital expenditure requirements of Napocor-SPUG, P1,624,500,000; • Given to the AFP-DND, P4,954,580,167; • Sitio Electrification Project, P814,411,357; • Payment for Napocor’s short-term loan facility, P3 billion; • Barangay Line Enhancement Projects, P1,108,245,890; and, • Transfer, dry-docking and hull maintenance costs of Coast Guard Cutter ship, P880,615,176.

According to Colmenares, “granting that the 2010 disbursements were still that of former President Arroyo, the Malampaya fund is still being misused by the Aquino administration,” “In 2011 a total of P13,266,555,424 was spent from the Malampaya funds, with the AFP with P4,954,580,167 and the DOE [Department of Energy]-NPC [Napocor] with P4.6 billion as the biggest spenders. Pilit naman masyado ang rason na ang pambili ng barkong pandigma ay energy-related dahil poprotektahan daw nito ang Malampaya. Kung ganito ang reasoning ay baka i-charge din sa Malampaya kapag bumili ng nuclear missile si Noynoy para protektahan ang Malampaya,” the senior deputy minority leader said. “In 2012 the total disbursement for the Malampaya fund was P1,988,861,066, with the DND and the DOE-NEA [National Electrification Administration] electrification as the only two agencies that accessed it. Malaki na talaga ang napupunta sa military use mula sa Malampaya funds sa halip na sa dapat talagang paggamitan nito,” the progressive solon said. “Kung susumahin ay aabot na sa P6,258,259,243 ang nagastos na para sa AFP-DND na halos kalahati na ng total P15 billion na nakuha mula sa Malampaya fund. It is in this light that we are urging Malacañang to stop being a hypocrite and stop fooling the public,” Colmenares said.

Health advocates intensify anti-smoking campaign Category: Economy Published on Monday, 23 September 2013 19:01 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga HEALTH advocates have intensified the campaign against cigarette smoking in the Philippines and are now focusing more on the negative health impacts of cigarette smoking to Filipinos. Health Justice is supporting the passage of a new bill that will make graphic health warnings (GHWs) on cigarettes mandatory to discourage Filipinos from patronizing the “unhealthy” product. The anti-cigarette smoking campaign strategy to increase the prices of cigarette to make it unaffordable with the passage of the “sin” tax law hardly made a dent on the incidence of cigarette smoking among Filipinos. The group cited a finding that even smokers who seem “healthy” have damaged airway cells, with characteristics similar to cells found in aggressive lung cancer. The study conducted by Weill Cornell Medical College has proven that even smokers who have gone through a battery of medical tests that came back normal had dangerous changes in their DNA, which means that smokers who have received a clean bill of health from their doctors still have cause to worry, since this type of cell-damage is not easily detected by most medical examinations. The study compared cells lining the airways of healthy non-smokers against those from smokers with no detectable lung disease. All had normal X-rays and chest examination results. The smokers’ cells showed early signs of damage and cellular malfunction. It was also found that in the cells lining the airways of the smoker’s lungs, human embryonic stem-cell genes had been turned on. This type of gene is also “on” in the most aggressive, hard-to-treat lung cancers. “When you smoke a cigarette, some of the genetic programming of your lung cells are lost,” said the study’s senior investigator, Dr. Ronald G. Crystal, chairman and professor of genetic medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. He explained that healthy cells are very tightly controlled. Normal cells have rules and only do certain things. “In cancer, that control is lost. Your cells take on the appearance of a more primitive cell. It doesn’t necessarily mean you will develop cancer, but that the soil is fertile to develop cancer,” he added. The study found that smokers’ cells were already in the early stages of losing this control. It is this loss of control, which allows cancer cells to multiply and migrate to other organs.

According to Atty. Diana Trivino, project manager at HealthJustice, many smokers don’t quit smoking until they get sick. “This new evidence proves how dangerous smoking is, and how it affects even those who think they are healthy or whose medical test results are normal despite their smoking. Graphic health warnings have been proven to be one of the most effective means to make smokers quit and to prevent non-smokers from starting. If GHWs were on our cigarette packs now, perhaps many more would be convinced to give up on this lethal product or to never start at all.” Cancer survivors said many smokers disregard the vague text warnings that are on our cigarette packs today. Emer Rojas, laryngeal cancer survivor and President of the New Vois Association of the Philippines said he only knew how deadly smoking is after he got cancer. “Placing pictures of tobacco victims on packs will be more effective in convincing smokers that no one is spared from the lethal effects of smoking,” he said. The group expressed support behind the filing of of a bill that will require cigarette manufacturers to place picture-based health warnings on cigarette packs. The Picture-Based Health Warning law is a new bill that seeks to mandate the placing of GHWs on at least 80 percent of the principal display areas of tobacco packages, both for the front and back panels. The decision to require GHWs of this size adheres to international best practices set by Australia with GHWs encompassing 82.5 percent of the pack and by Uruguay with 80 percent. New Zealand and Ireland are set to follow Australia’s example. A salient portion of the bill is the ban of misleading descriptors such as “light,” “ultra-light,” “mild,” “extra” and “ultra.” Health advocates believe that the descriptive words such as these deceive smokers into thinking that cigarettes labeled as such expose them to lower risks, and that there are “safer” cigarettes. A US court has already ruled that tobacco companies “falsely marketed and promoted low tar/light cigarettes as less harmful than full-flavor cigarettes in order to keep people smoking and sustain corporate revenues.” In filing the bill, Ang Nars Party-list Rep. Leah Paquiz said, “Health is the responsibility of each and everyone of us. Our action and inaction affects other people. It is but proper that we make every decision count to promote health and improve the health of the nation.” Currently, the Philippines ranks among the top 20 smoking nations in the world, and has the distinction of being one of Southeast Asia’s top tobacco-consuming countries, second only to

Indonesia, with every Filipino smoker smoking an estimated 1,073 cigarettes per year, says HealthJustice. The large number of Filipino smokers proves how ineffective the text-only warnings currently printed on Philippine cigarette packs are in convincing smokers to quit the deadly addiction. “Smoking kills one out of every two smokers. It kills 240 Filipinos every day through a tobaccorelated illness,” Trivino said. “Graphic health warnings are life-saving measures that should have been implemented long ago, had it not been for the interference of tobacco companies, which put profit before public health. We hope more of our lawmakers act on their duty to uphold our public health. Lives are what we sacrifice for every year we fail to pass this bill,” she said.

Small-scale mining rampant in Nueva Vizcaya–MGB Category: Regions Published on Monday, 23 September 2013 19:33 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga SMALL-SCALE miners have started to operate in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya, and they could be the culprit behind the reported water pollution in the province, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Leo Jasareno said. Nevertheless, Jasareno said the MGB will look into allegations that large-scale mining operations in the province are causing the water quality of rivers in the area to deteriorate. He said it is unlikely that the water pollution was caused by large-scale miners, saying that reports received from field personnel of MGB’s Region 2 office indicate the presence of smallscale miners in the area. These activities, he said, have been reported as early as June this year. He said, however, that the bureau’s personnel will verify the reported degradation of the water quality in rivers and creeks in the province and determine if large-scale miners are to be blamed. The MGB chief was reacting to allegations of members of a fact-finding team that conducted an impact-assessment in the area that large-scale mining operations in the province are to be blamed for the deterioration of the water quality of in rivers, creeks and streams. The Didipio River is already “biologically dead,” the National Fact-Finding and Solidarity Mission (NFFSM) commissioned by Defend Patrimony, an alliance of environmental nongovernmental organizations and the Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Vizcayanos para sa Kalikasan reported. “We have received reports of the siltation from the regional [MGB Region 2] office but as for it being biologically dead, we need to verify that,” Jasareno said. Members of the fact-finding team that conducted the investigation are blaming the operations of large-scale mining companies. Jasareno said the bureau will look into allegations that the Didipio mines is illegally discharging mining effluents into the Didipio River which caused it to become “biologically dead.” “If it is true, then we will have to stop it,” he said. Jasareno said the MGB’s Region 2 office has reported that the siltation in Didipio River that was caused not by large-scale mining, but by small-scale mining operations. “Small-scale miners have started to operate in the area. We are addressing that problem in coordination with the local governments,” he said.

Jasareno said the Didipio mines just started commercial operation in May and it is unlikely that it is the culprit behind the water pollution. “The Didipio River is at the receiving end of pollutants from small-scale mining operations. But we will look into the allegations. If it is true that Didipio mines is discharging wastewater in the river, we will have to stop it,” he said. NFFSM members said they have discovered a “pandora’s box of ecological destruction and resource plunder” by three big mining companies in Nueva Vizcaya. “Massive biodiversity loss, water pollution and human-rights violations were observed in the indigenous people’s and peasant communities affected by foreign mining corporations Oceana Gold and FCF Minerals,” the NFFSM said. Scoping study conducted at the Didipio River where the Didipio mines operated by Oceana Gold in Kasibu allegedly discharge its mining effluents revealed the disappearance of aquatic resources such as water snails, shrimps, carp, mud fish and other local species. Also, the team observed the stench and the thick orange-brown siltation in the river. The water pollution in Didipio have reached other barangays and communities in Quirino province. The Didipio River merges with the Diduyon River which transverses the Quirino. Meanwhile, in nearby Barangay Runruno in Quezon town, where the Runruno Gold and Mlybdenum project of FCF Minerals is currently in the mine development stage, the scoping ream called the current the environmental impacts as “another Didipio” in the making. Despite its benefits such as employment and taxes to both the national and local governments, large-scale mining operations in Nueva Vizcaya are being strongly opposed by local communities of its adverse environmental impacts. Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan-PNE, said they will use the fact-finding team’s reports to press a thorough investigation into the impacts of large-scale mining operations in the province. He said copies of the report will be submitted to concerned national government agencies, as well as the local government units hosting the mining operations in the province.

Governance and compensation of directors by Mercedes B. Suleik  September 23, 2013  

Reports of the humongous salaries and perks that directors of government owned corporations have been giving themselves had prompted a review of the way these scandalous compensations had been allowed in GOCCs (government-owned or –controlled corporations) . Also a result of the review of GOCCs themselves was the passage of the law creating the Governance Commission which has been empowered to rationalize the GOCC sector itself, requiring GOCCs to review their charters with a view to ensuring the need for their existence, and abolishing some GOCCs where found necessary. It was therefore disconcerting to find this headline in a recent newspaper: “MWSS execs, employees still got excessive allowances in 2012.” Although the Commission on Audit had proposed that MWSS get approval from the Office of the President for the allowances and recommended that such grants be stopped, records showed that the officials and employees still got their allowances in 2012. Just to get a flavour of the kind of abuse that went on, COA findings showed that “hazard pay” was being granted to officials and employees assigned at the MWSS compound, Old Balara – which reportedly was questionable, Quezon City being neither strife-torn or an embattled area, nor is exposed to harmful elements or situations. Hopefully, the GCC looks into such anomalous activities that continue to be perpetuated. Good governance requires that the Board of Directors, including boards of GOCCs, should act with a code of proper practices, with a high degree of probity and transparency, and a deep sense of responsibility to ensure the long term sustainability of the corporations which they direct. Moreover, Board directors are stewards of the assets and finances of the corporation, and must therefore ensure that its resources are properly maintained, improved, and kept productive as part of their fiduciary duty towards the owners of the corporation. In the case of GOCCs, the owners of the corporation are the Filipino people Let’s look at what good governance should mean for board directors. Because the Board faces a uniquely demanding set of responsibilities and challenges, and because board directors must be responsible for risk taking, enterprise, and sound judgment, it is only reasonable that the directors be compensated accordingly. However, such award of compensation must adhere to certain guidelines of good practice. They should therefore formulate for themselves certain standards that include among others, accountability and responsibility in their conduct. Their primary responsibility is to steer the company effectively and efficiently, and this should be taken to mean that they have to ensure the company remains afloat. Directors owe their fiduciary duty to the corporation, and that means that they have to act with probity and in the best interests of the company. Justice requires that they observe prudence in their actions, and that no intellectual dishonesty is used to justify actions that benefit only themselves. Good governance demands that directors be open and honest, and communicate fully with their shareholders/stakeholders, and indeed align the interests of the company with the interests of the latter.

Of course it is understandable that levels of remuneration or compensation should be such as to attract and retain competent directors and managers to be able to run the corporations successfully. Of course it is also true that such remuneration should be structured in such a way that rewards are linked to corporate or individual performance. I see no reason to withhold from them incentives to prod or inspire them to raise the profitability or sustainability of their corporation. I think good governance involves the establishment of a formal and transparent procedure for developing policy on the remuneration of the directors and managers, and for fixing remuneration packages for individual directors. However, I think no director should involve himself in determining his own remuneration. While I do not necessarily agree with imposing regulatory caps on remunerations for directors because companies vary in their purpose, structure, and goals, I think that the company directors themselves should come up with their own codes of behaviour, always taking into account the interest of the corporation itself, and therefore, of its shareholders or stakeholders. In short, they should have a policy that ensures prudence, accountability and transparency. More government regulation would not always result in correct observance…we all know how easy it is to find ways around a rule or regulation. In other words, there should be a culture of stewardship and solidarity inherent in the Board of Directors. Simply put, a board and its directors individually should set a high moral tone for its corporate culture, and self-regulation and self-discipline would work better than a hundred “don’ts” from regulating bodies. Let me quote what a 19th century philosopher has said: “When values are sufficient, laws are unnecessary; when values are insufficient, laws are unenforceable.” (Emile Durkheim, 18581917)‐and‐compensation‐of‐directors/                   

BSP probes banks in pork barrel scam Bankers cooperating with regulators  By Paolo G. Montecillo  Philippine Daily Inquirer   12:00 am | Tuesday, September 24th, 2013  

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is investigating several banks for their possible failure to detect irregular transactions that may have abetted the illegal activities of Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged brains behind the P10-billion pork barrel scam. Banks found to have committed lapses in reporting suspicious transactions to the government face financial and regulatory fines, the BSP said. “It’s too early to say if they failed in their know-your-customer (KYC) policy, but we will look into that. They will be investigated,” said Mel Racela, deputy director of the BSP’s antimoney laundering specialist group. In particular, the BSP said it would look into the possible failure of banks to follow their KYC procedures in which banks determine whether their customers should be tagged as high-risk individuals who need to be more closely watched. The BSP requires that banks follow strict procedures in their KYC process, according to Racela. These include gathering the proper identification of customers and face-to-face meetings with bank representatives. High-risk customers Racela said banks are also required to conduct the risk-profiling of customers. High-ranking government officials, including the BSP’s own management, and individuals who conduct business with government officials are usually considered high-risk customers. BSP Deputy Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr., head of the regulator’s supervision and examination sector, declined to identify the banks under investigation, but said the BSP was looking at the information “that is coming out of public hearings.” Based on the affidavits of various whistle-blowers, Napoles had bank accounts with state-run Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) and Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. (Metrobank) of businessman George Ty.

Banks cooperating The Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) said it had been working closely with authorities to ensure the compliance of its members with antimoney laundering reportorial rules. “The BAP has been working vigorously with its members to ensure full compliance with Amla laws and regulations,” the group’s president Lorenzo Tan said. Amla refers to the Anti-Money Laundering Act. Tan, president of the Yuchengco-led Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., said BAP would fully cooperate with the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) in its investigation of the handling of the Napoles accounts by certain banks. One of those banks, Metrobank, said it was fully cooperating with the BSP and the AMLC investigations. In a statement sent to the Inquirer, Metrobank said it was also complying with the “freeze order issued by the Court of Appeals” on Napoles’ accounts. Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and Landbank were unable to issue comments as of press time. 344 accounts frozen In August, the Court of Appeals ordered a freeze on 344 bank accounts, 66 insurance policies and five credit card accounts of Napoles, her relatives, her cohorts and her dubious nongovernment organization (NGO) empire on the recommendation of the AMLC. The accounts covered by the appellate court order were with HSBC, Citibank, BPI, Landbank, Banco de Oro, Insular Bank, Metrobank, United Coconut Planters Bank and Air Materiel Wing Inc.

Probe of individuals Investigations on individuals are done by the AMLC, an agency separate from the BSP. The BSP’s duty is to ensure that banks comply with reportorial requirements of the AMLC. All bank transactions above P500,000 are automatically reported to the AMLC, which determines whether these transactions are part of predicate crimes to money laundering. Napoles allegedly diverted over the past 10 years at least P10 billion of the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to bogus NGOs for nonexistent projects. The PDAF, the official name of the pork barrel, was a lump sum fund that financed lawmakers’ pet projects and a source of kickbacks.

Huge kickbacks In his testimony before the Senate blue ribbon committee on Sept. 12, Benhur Luy, principal witness of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), said lawmakers got kickbacks equivalent to 50 percent of the project cost should they choose to funnel their PDAF to NGOs that Napoles had set up. Luy, a second cousin of Napoles and her former employee, said Napoles would advance half of the kickback once the project was requested either by the House appropriations committee or the Senate finance committee. Lawmakers would get the remainder once the Department of Budget and Management issued the special allotment release order, he said. In the 50-50 sharing, Napoles got 40 percent of the value of a project, government “conduits” received 10 percent and the lawmakers the rest, according to the whistle-blower. Luy said Napoles also transferred kickbacks to bank accounts of lawmakers and their chiefs of staff. He told the blue ribbon committee that he had in his possession bank account numbers. Withdrawal of P75 million Luy said Napoles could afford to give kickbacks in advance because she was “liquid.” There were days when Napoles would withdraw as much as P75 million from her Metrobank or Landbank accounts, he said. The amount was way beyond the P500,000 that should have automatically set off alarm bells and prompt the bank to report the transaction to the AMLC. In the wake of the public uproar over the scam and calls for the abolition of the pork barrel system, the NBI filed on Sept. 16 plunder, malversation and graft charges against three senators (Ramon Revilla Jr., Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile), five former House members and 30 others, including Napoles, in the Office of the Ombudsman. The NBI said Revilla received kickbacks amounting to P224.5 million; Estrada, P183.8 million; and Enrile, P172.8 million. The public outrage pushed President Aquino to scrap the PDAF and Congress to follow suit. But the pork barrel system in which lawmakers identify projects as line items in the proposed 2014 budget remains.—With a report from Inquirer Research Originally posted: 8:02 pm | Monday, September 23rd, 2013‐probes‐banks‐that‐failed‐to‐report‐napoles‐questionable‐ transactions#ixzz2fmQATKX0    

RMC No. 58‐2013 – A boon to government bidders? TOP OF MIND By Jayson A. Dizon (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 24, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

Bidding is a way of determining the price of a commodity in a free market economy. The more the bidders, the better would be the price. Thus, the government resorts to bidding out its projects to qualified participants to get the best value. Private parties contracting with the government also benefit from transacting with the government. On 12 January 2005, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Executive Order No. 398 (E.O. No. 398) directing all persons, natural or juridical, local or foreign, desiring to enter into or participate in any contract with the government shall, as a pre-condition, submit, along with their proposal and/or bid, a copy of their latest income and business tax returns duly stamped and received by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and duly validated with the tax payments made thereon. Subsequently, on 16 February 2005, the BIR issued Revenue Regulations (RR) No. 03-2005 to implement E.O. No. 398. Under RR No. 03-2005, all prospective participants to any government procurement of goods and services are required to submit, along with their proposal and/or bid, (1) a copy of their latest income and business tax returns, (2) summary list of contracts and payments made to contractors, and (3) tax clearance. The first two requirements are easy to comply with because these documents are integral parts of the taxpayer’s business operations. However, the tax clearance is a headache to many prospective bidders because this is issued only by the BIR after it is ascertained that the taxpayer has no outstanding Final Assessment Notice and/or delinquent account with the BIR. The newly issued Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) may be the medicine to the headache. RMC No. 58-2013, dated 30 August 2013, provides that the BIR may issue a Provisionary Tax Clearance (PTC) for bidding purposes in cases where (1) the taxpayer availed of the tax amnesty program and was issued a certificate of availment by the tax amnesty task force; or (2) the taxpayer’s case is still pending final resolution by the Court of Tax Appeals or the Supreme Court. Please note however that the issuance of PTC is not automatic. Under RMC No. 58-2013, the BIR processing office is required to evaluate each application pursuant to procedures and guidelines enumerated in the said RMC. This is in light of the reports that some taxpayers indiscriminately appeal their cases to the courts even after the receipt of final decision denying their protests. The BIR clarified that it would only issue a PTC if the assessment for tax liabilities against a taxpayer is not yet final and executory. Also, the issuance of PTC does not mean that the taxpayer will no longer be held liable for his tax liabilities. Taxpayers issued with the PTCs are still required to secure the appropriate tax clearance in order to be removed from the BIR’s Delinquent Taxpayers List.

Most often, the process of ascertaining the delinquency status of the taxpayer takes time and causes the delay of the issuance of the Tax Clearance. Hopefully, the issuance of RMC No. 58-2013 will remedy the delay and pave the way for the participation of more bidders in government projects. With more bidders, the government stands a better chance of getting the best bid in its projects. *** Jayson A. Dizon is an Associate from the Tax Group of Manabat Sanagustin & Co. (MS&Co.), the Philippine member firm of KPMG International. This article is for general information purposes only and should not be considered as professional advice to a specific issue or entity. The view and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of KPMG International or MS&Co. For comments or inquiries, please email or‐no.‐58‐2013‐boon‐government‐bidders                         

Gov’t allots P14.4B for tourism infra Road projects to make destinations accessible  By Michelle V. Remo  Philippine Daily Inquirer   9:02 pm | Monday, September 23rd, 2013  


AFP File Photo The government has earmarked P14.4 billion out of the proposed national budget for next year for road projects meant to make tourist destinations accessible. The proposed 2014 budget for tourism infrastructure marked a 20-percent increase from the P12 billion allotted this year, a report from the Investor Relations Office (IRO) showed. Next year’s budget for tourism infrastructure will cover 167 kilometers of roads to be constructed and rehabilitated, all leading to various tourist destinations across the country. The projects will be implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways. The allocation of a higher budget for tourism infrastructure comes amid pronouncements that tourism will be one of the sectors to receive more government support in its bid to attain the Aquino administration’s job-creation and poverty-reduction goal. Under the Department of Tourism’s medium-term plan, jobs in the tourism sector should increase from the projected 4.9 million this year to 7.4 million by 2016. The share of tourism jobs to total employment in the country should also rise from the projected 13 percent in 2013 to 18.8 percent three years from now.

The government has a daunting poverty-reduction goal of reducing the proportion of Filipinos living below the poverty line from 27.9 percent as of the first semester of last year to just 16.6 percent by 2016. It likewise has a goal of bringing down the unemployment rate to 6.5 percent by 2016 from 7.3 percent as of July this year. The targeted number of jobs in the tourism sector is anchored on the objective of increasing the number of foreign tourists visiting the country to 10 million by 2016. For this year, the government projects foreign tourists to hit 5.5 million. Tourism has been identified as one of the government’s priority sectors, or those that have a huge potential to substantially trim down poverty by generating more jobs. Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, also director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, earlier said that higher investments in tourism infrastructure should be one of the initiatives for job creation. Other priority industries moving forward, he said, were manufacturing, business process outsourcing and agriculture. Despite its rich natural resources and abundance of attractive sites, the Philippines lags behind most of its Southeast Asian neighbors in terms of tourist arrivals. Compared with 4.3 million foreign tourists that visited the Philippines last year, there were more than 8 million foreigners who visited Indonesia, about 22 million went to Thailand, and over 25 million toured Malaysia. With the Philippine tourism sector’s big room for growth, the government banks on higher public investments to maximize the growth potential of the tourism sector.‐allots‐p14‐4b‐for‐tourism‐infra                 

De Lima: COA not up-to-date By Rey E. Requejo | Posted 8 hours ago | 541 views

The Department of Justice on Monday belied a Commission on Audit report that said the agency had accumulated over P290 million in unliquidated cash advances in the last few years. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima lamented that the COA report dated September 19, 2013 was “not updated”. The COA report showed that the DOJ had a total of P290.15 million in unliquidated accounts: P147.42 million cash advances for 2012 and P142.72 million cash advances by officials and personnel from “2011 and prior years.” According to De Lima, DOJ’s Finance Services department has been “promptly complying with the requirements and submitting the necessary liquidation documents to the Commission on Audit Central Office and just awaiting for the corresponding Credit Advice.” A credit advice serves as a clearance or certification that COA has reviewed and found as regular expenditure reports on an agency’s funds. The COA report said that of this total figure, P225.05 million went to the Witness Protection Security and Benefit Program (WPSBP) and was listed as “confidential and intelligence expenses.” Of this amount, P115.53 million was released in 2011 or earlier while P109.52 million worth of disbursements were made in 2012. “We have updated our 2012 records and out of the P290 million unliquidated cash advances, P261.7 million is awaiting Credit Advice from COA-CO and only P15.3 million awaiting compliance from concerned officials/employees,” De Lima stressed. “These cash advances would appear in DOJ’s books as unliquidated in the absence of Credit Advice. In short, that report on unliquidated cash advances is not updated,” she said.

Reports citing the COA report acknowledged that the DOJ has reportedly submitted a report detailing intelligence fund expenses for the sum of P218.78 million but COA has not yet issued a credit notice. According to the same COA report, the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) also used up unliquidated intelligence funds worth P18 million and the Office of the Secretary had spent another P25.406 million. The balance of the unliquidated advances consisted of expenses for local and foreign travels, purchase of supplies and fuel and operating and sums spent on regular operations of IACAT and the Witness Protection Program.                                

Agrarian head backs audit of projects By Rio N. Araja | Posted 8 hours ago | 29 views Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes on Monday said that state auditors are now carrying out an inventory of 22 projects, all farm-to-market roads, supposedly put up in Maguindanao in 2009 with the use of a P500-million fund from the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. De los Reyes said the ongoing audit could help the government to determine how the P500million fund was used up by former Maguindanao governor Sajid Islam Ampatuan. “The state auditor’s office is verifying if farm-to-market roads have really been built and how many are they,” he told the Manila Standard.He said his department has already forwarded documents needed to help COA uncover any misuse of funds. “There is full cooperation with the state audit commission. We will provide any information or documents we have, such as checks,” de los Reyes said. Ampatuan was granted the release of P500 million on June 1, 2009 by former budget secretary and now Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya through former agrarian reform chief and now AA Kasosyo party-list Rep. Nasser Pangandaman. The huge amount of money was withdrawn from the Land Bank of the Philippines-Quezon City Circle in Diliman, according to DAR.Ampatuan is one of the principal accused in the multiple murder charges filed against them before Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court in connection with the massacre of 58 people, including 32 journalists, in Maguindanao on Nov. 23, 2009. In a two-page Feb. 6, 2009 letter addressed to Pangandaman, Ampatuan had requested P500 million to construct farm-to-market roads in Rajah Buayan town with a total of P93 million; Datu Abdullah Sangki town, P90 million; Odin Sinsuat, P15 million; Mamasapano town, P50 million; Ampatuan town, P30 million; Datu Saudi Ampatuan, P55 million; Shariff Aguak town, P65 million, and Datu Unsay town, P3 million, and the purchase of fertilizers worth P40 million, palay varieties worth P30 million and corn varieties worth P30 million.‐head‐backs‐audit‐of‐projects/

Welfare targets poverty By Jess Malabanan | Posted 8 hours ago | 14 views

City of San Fernando — Social welfare director Adelina Apostol of Region 3 launched Monday another “Listahan” for 1.4 million poor households in Central Luzon. “The objective of second round of the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction is to identify poor and near poor families deserving of assistance from social protection programs and services of the government,” she said in a briefing at the Partyland Restaurant in Barangay Dolores. She was joined by assistant director for operations Maura de la Rosa, deputy project manager Lalaine de Leon, and deputy regional director for administration Irene Crespo. The target sheet of the region showed Nueva Ecija with 377,264 families followed by Bulacan–338,012; Pampanga–268,712; Tarlac-222,183; Zambales-105,507; Bataan97,003 and Aurora–42,567. At least 4,062 field staff will be deployed to accomplish the list in for provinces. A total of 322,622 families in region 3 were classified as poor which is 45 percent of the total number of household assessed by the department. “Five out of 10 poor households have been identified to have no access to safe water, no toilets, no electricity while two our 10 households were considered vulnerable to manmade disasters as they used light construction materials on the roofs and outer walls of their houses,” the list guideline noted.            

15 tons of organic rice from Cordillera exported to US — Alcala By Anna Leah G. Estrada | Posted 8 hours ago | 28 views

The Philippines recently exported 15 metric tons of organic heirloom rice to the United States, as a part of the government’s bid to promote local rice varieties. The Agriculture Department said in a statement the US-bound organic heirloom rice from Cordillera region was a part of the 27.6 metric tons the country aimed to ship to the world’s largest economy this year. “This will help sustain the status of rice terraces as a world heritage treasure,” said Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. Marilyn Sta. Catalina, the regional director of the Agriculture Department in Cordillera, said the shipment, valued at P870,000, was consolidated by the Rice Terraces Farmers Cooperative in cooperation with Rice Inc. Eighth Wonder Inc., a US-based nongovernment organization that helps market products from the Cordillera’s rice terraces. “More than profit, we are promoting the rich Cordilleran cultural heritage through this export,” Sta. Catalina said. “These grains represent the best in the Cordilleras, notably the industry and ingenuity of its people, as they are organically grown, and manually harvested and pounded to perfection,” she said. The Agriculture Department said another shipment was currently undergoing organic fumigation at the Philippine Rice Research Institute laboratory in Nueva Ecija, in compliance with strict US sanitary and phytosanitary measures.The agency said it had been facilitating RTFC’s export to the US through Eighth Wonder Inc. since 2005. The country shipped 97 metric tons of various heirloom varieties to the US since then.‐tons‐of‐organic‐rice‐from‐cordillera‐ exported‐to‐us‐alcala/

Exporters urge govt to release P1-b aid By Othel V. Campos | Posted 8 hours ago | 9 views Exporters renewed their call for the release of the P1-billion assistance promised by the government under the Philippine Export Development Plan. The Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. said the export targets for 2013 to 2016 would “not fly” unless assistance was given to the local manufacturing industry. “We never did receive the money. And as far as we’re concerned, we want what is due us given to us,” Philexport president Sergio Ortiz-Luis said Monday. The government was looking at a 10- percent increase in merchandise exports in 2013 over $54 billion in 2012. The export group, however, said the target was not possible anymore following a flat growth in the first semester. Under the PEDP, the government aims to double export revenues to $120 billion, including the services exports, by 2016. Ortiz-Luis said under the 2008 export plan, exporters should have been given as much as P2 billion in assistance as promised by Malacañang. The group said the pledge was reduced to P1 billion and eventually to P100 million but even that amount was not received by the exporters. Philexport said of the P100 million that should have been allocated for product development and capacity development training of export companies, the Trade Department diverted P80 million to the shared services facilities program while the remaining P20 million was given to the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions. The export group said without the government’s assistance, the export target under the medium term would not be met. “Considering the erratic behavior of the market, we are at wits’ end on how to realize the target for 2013. We’ll be hard-pressed, even, to hit targets for the next three years of the export plan without any intervention from the government,” Ortiz-Luis said.‐urge‐govt‐to‐release‐p1‐b‐aid/

Cheating starts from the mind By Manila Standard Today | Posted 9 hours ago | 452 views 4

Social media is abuzz from reports that a graduate student at the University of the Philippines – National College of Public Administration and Governance has been stripped of a photography award because the picture he submitted was not his in the first place. Mark Solis, a political science graduate, has expressed remorse for his misdeed, but it is difficult to believe him since he has apparently pulled off the same stunt in other competitions before. Solis claimed that the award-winning shot was that of a seaweed-farming boy in Zamboanga, when it was actually a Chilean boy. He would have been happy to run off with the prize money and the trips abroad had not the real owner of the photo, who had posted his work on Flickr, called the attention of the Chilean ambassador and branded Solis an impostor. What would he have done had he not been caught? Recall the outrage that was created when Senator Vicete Sotto III shamelessly liberally lifted from other speeches and passed them off as his own in his statements denouncing the reproductive health bill. Recall, too, that Supreme Court Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo was nearly impeached when it was revealed he quoted a legal scholar, without

attribution, in his decision on the petition of Filipino comfort women asking the state to stand up for their claims. This unfortunate event shifted public attention to the plagiarism scandal from the more far-reaching implications of the court’s denial of the women’s petition. Why do we seem to have a low tolerance for intellectual cheats? Plagiarism may be portrayed as a lesser crime compared to murder, or plunder, or rape. Nobody is physically harmed or killed in the process—and is not information meant to be shared, after all? Just like Sotto and del Castillo, however, Solis is in a privileged position because of his education and the promise of his youth. In his letter to the owner of the picture, however, he says he was driven by his “youth, lack of experience and inability to see the repercussions of my actions.” This is easier to believe if it were coming from somebody transgressing intellectual property rights for the first time. “It was a regrettable lapse on my judgment, and no words can express how sorry I am for taking your photo as mine.” The words sound sincere, but as an Internet pundit wrote, Solis may just have copied those remorseful words, too. All kinds of cheating begin in the head—as idea that, turned over numerous times, becomes solid, attractive and doable enough to be translated into action. The first time is always the most difficult. As one pulls it off without getting caught, one is emboldened to raise the stakes and up the ante. This pattern holds for ideas, for photographs—and yes, for the plunder of people’s money. Unfortunately, these thieves just get more daring until they are caught. And when they do, they offer all sorts of excuses to distance themselves from their crime.    

The President’s failure to listen By Emil Jurado | Posted 9 hours ago | 1,003 views

There are two common denominators that link the Zamboanga standoff (on its 17th day today), and the pork barrel system scandal, the worst of its kind in the nation’s history. In both instances, President Aquino and his administration refused to listen to complaints. The Zamboanga standoff—with only a motley group of Moro National Liberation Front forces holding out against the superior military and police —was a crisis waiting to happen ever since the government signed the Framework Peace Agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. MNLF leader Nur Misuari felt ignored and marginalized. The Aquino administration failed to listen to other stakeholders in the peace process when peace and development in Mindanao should be inclusive. What we are hearing from the Palace and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles are half-truths. Recall that it was Misuari who signed a deal in 1996 with the Philippine Government, through an agreement brokered by Indonesia. So if Misuari was not feeling ignored, why did he declare independence and stage that Zamboanga standoff, which soon enough became a humanitarian crisis? And then, with regard to the pork barrel scam, it seems as though the President is not listening to the people. He calls us his bosses but he ignores the clamor that all pork, including that of the Executive, be abolished. Instead of listening to what the people want, Congress, in cooperation with the Department of Budget and Management, did a Houdini. As a result, congressmen and senators can still identify where their pork barrel funds will go.

If Malacanang and Congress think that they can fool all the people all the time, they are mistaken. Unfortunately, instead of being part of the solution, President Aquino has become part of the problem. There is growing distrust in the government. Transparency and accountability are just illusions. Worse, Malacañang is ambivalent toward the freedom of information bill. We are not even sure that Mr. Aquino will fulfill his promise that he would support it. What is the President afraid of? What is he hiding? Why doesn’t he support this bill? What we have now is a growing crisis of credibility. And in case the President does not realize it, the buck stops at his desk. He is to blame. *** It’s amusing to note that with the Zamboanga standoff not yet over, Malacañang and the Department of Justice are now saying they will issue a subpoena to Habier Malik and that Misuari will be facing rebellion charges. But how will the subpoena be served when Malik is still holding out in Zamboanga City? How will they arrest Misuari, who is surrounded by his loyal followers? The President already played general in Zamboanga for one full week even though he was hardly seen during that time. Is this some sort of propaganda? I believe that even if government forces eventually defeat the MNLF in Zamboanga, the latter would just regroup and strike again somewhere else. *** Aquino loyalists and the conscripted media may not believe what my colleagues in the newspapers have been writing that the conviction and ouster of Chief Justice Renato Corona and the passage of the reproductive health bill were part and parcel of the pork barrel scam. Thus, when Jojo Robles, came out with his expose that Malacañang used pork barrel to entice congressmen and senators to impeach and convict Corona, and more recently, when former Senator Kit Tatad claimed that his sources validate

the rumors coming out with amount used to sweeten the pot (with more allocations of pork barrel funds), I realized that we were in far deeper trouble than I first thought. Personally, I can believe all that my colleagues have written in connection with the abuse of the pork barrel system. No amount of name-calling resorted by Palace spokesmen against Robles and Tatad can keep me from believing them. *** I may have been critical of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman on some issues, but I must commend them for staying in Zamboanga City for as long as they are needed. Mar is really committed to his job of overseeing the developments in the standoff between government forces and the MNLF for that length of time. Soliman, for her part, is handling the crisis well. It is not easy, with 130,00 people displaced in Zamboanga City. Imagine attending to the food, shelter and other basic needs of thousands of citizens in distress. *** The President promised Mayor Beng Climaco-Salazar no less than P3.9 billion for the rehabilitation of Zamboanga City. Now people are asking whether he is as concerned with other places devastated by typhoon.            

Defense 101 By Bong Austero | Posted 8 hours ago | 307 views

First, play the victim role to the hilt. According to the famous lawyer, her client’s rights have been wantonly and gleefully trampled upon. She’s being wrongfully treated like a convict instead of being a mere suspect. She has been stripped of her dignity – slowly but mercilessly. She enumerates the many ways in which her client’s privacy has been violated. Second, blame the media. The same lawyer goes into a long tirade against certain media establishments who, if we are to believe her, ganged up on her client, twisted and mangled her various statements to make her appear guilty, and in general, preyed on her weaknesses. She insists that certain people in media are patently biased against her client. Third, portray the client as the average person who, just like everyone else, is a hardworking mother, sister, child, friend. The lawyer insists that she accepted the challenge of defending her in court because “she is a real person.” The lawyer knows that the appellation has top premium today thanks to reality TV who has conditioned people to think that people can be forgiven for their quirks in the name of “nagpapakatotoo” (just being authentic). The lawyer then goes to town with her supposed various qualities. She is a generous and charitable person; she is hardworking, trusting, and knows how to get her way around people. Fourth, continue reassuring people that the truth will be told at the right forum and at the right time without going into details. The lawyer has repeatedly stressed that her client is honest – and will therefore reveal everything at the right time and at the right forum. Fifth, claim ignorance. Another lawyer, this time taking up the cudgels for the Senate President, firmly redirects the blame to someone else – the Chief of Staff who allegedly enjoyed the full trust and confidence of the boss. Very, very subtly remind everyone that the person in question is capable of carrying out the act and allow others to dig up previous controversies that portrayed her as the autocrat who threw her weight around by wielding the power of her boss’s lofty position. Of course everyone knows ignorance is not an excuse and that this tack tends to raise more questions given the supposed legal acumen of the senator in question.

Sixth, shed tears in public and appear to be inconsolably devastated. The senator, allegedly the one referred to as “pogi” (handsome) has chosen not to break his silence yet. However, he has in so many ways communicated to everyone (most presumably his loyal fans) his extreme sadness and disappointment that his name and image has been dragged in the scam. The other people included in the rap sheet have also resorted to doing this tack on camera. If you can’t refute or rebut, one can always emote. Seventh, keep on issuing denials of your involvement despite what the Commission on Audit and everyone else is saying. Continue insisting that there exists no evidence to link you to the scam regardless of the tons of documentary evidence. Another senator, the son of the dictator, has continued to profess his non-involvement in the scam and insists that his signatures on certain documents were forged. Continue professing innocence and non-involvement. Deny, deny, deny. Eighth, threaten to release your own expose detailing anomalous transactions involving the powers that be. The senator who has used the cottage currently being assigned to the main suspect in the scam has not only continued to be defiant. He has also threatened to stage retaliation. The senator will be doing everyone a favor if he just went ahead and released whatever information he has. The problem with this tack, though, is that spreading the blame around does not really reduce one’s guilt or culpability, does it? But then again, deflecting blame is probably not the goal of to begin with. Ninth, threaten everyone. People previously involved in scams have employed this defense tactic many times in the past, and the people implicated in the ongoing pork barrel scam have not been shy about threatening everyone with lawsuits, retaliation, etc. The main suspect has in fact already filed many libel suits against certain journalists and media personalities. Tenth, feign sickness or claim that your life is in danger. This is the perfect alibi for not saying anything, for acquiring security and protection, and eventually, for not implicating anyone.‐101/        

Enrile denies betraying former chief aide By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Posted 9 hours ago | 1,004 views

Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile on Monday denied betraying his former chief of staff, Jessica Gonzales Reyes, his co-accused in the plunder case filed by the National Bureau of Investigation with the Office of the Ombudsman. “I’m not up to betraying any of my people. I’ve never been know for that,” said Enrile, who appeared at the Senate Monday after being absent for the last three session days. Enrile was taken to Makati Medical Center Sept. 14 for a urinary tract problem that sent his blood pressure up. However, when reporters asked him if he indeed authorized Reyes to sign documents related to the release of his pork barrel funds to non-government organizations (NGOs) with links to pork barrel scam suspect Janet Lim Napoles, Enrile refused to answer. “I will not discuss my case, if you don’t mind. I’ll face the music in the courtroom,” he said. In a statement issued Sept. 18, Enrile’s lawyer and spokesman, Enrique dela Cruz, said it is unfair to implicate the senator in the P10 billion pork barrel scam because he did not authorize any of his employees, including Reyes, to channel his pork barrel to NGOs. Dela Cruz said Enrile, who allegedly got a total of P172 million in kickbacks, allocated his funds to local government units (LGUs) only and did not authorize any of his employees to transfer funds to NGOs. He also said Enrile’s instructions were clear that his funds should be allocated only to LGUs. “If his people or his employees did not follow his instruction or did something to divert the funds to NGOs, Enrile did not order it,” Dela Cruz said. Reyes, who had left for Hong Kong before the complaint was filed, took offense at the statement.

“I never once thought that this day would come. I never stepped on anyone’s toes nor abused my position in all the years I served in the Senate. But I have earned the bitter ire and enmity of some people by and large because and in defense of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile,” she said in a statement. “If indeed these statements are sanctioned by or coming from my former boss, then nothing can be worse than this kind of travesty and betrayal,” Reyes added. She also said the worst blow had just been dealt upon her by the camp of Enrile, whom she served with full dedication, honesty and loyalty for 25 years. Reyes said Dela Cruz had been making the media rounds saying Enrile did not give his blessings to any of the acts she performed on his behalf. “He directly accused me of doing things without the senator’s knowledge and going beyond the authority conferred upon me. Not content, attorney Dela Cruz goes on to say that the office of the senator was investigating me for what he calls katiwalian [corruption], and that I, not the senator, will be liable,” said Reyes. “I have lost contact with Senator Enrile and this very tragic development is beyond my comprehension. Does this Atty. Dela Cruz really know whereof he speaks? Really? The last time I spoke to the senator from abroad, he maintained that he will stand by the authority he issued to me and that all that I did was faithful and pursuant to his instructions. He even told me to be strong; that we will fight together to prove the accusations against us are false and fabricated,” Reyes said. Reyes said she left the country last Aug. 31 “to seek some peace and quiet amid the barrage of adverse and downright insulting publicity and commentary” against her in the mainstream and social media. “I and my family have been deeply disturbed and hurt by the continuous slanted and patently biased reportage regarding my alleged involvement in the so-called P10 billion PDAF scam. Strangers and some elements from the media have attempted to get to our residence pretending to be my relatives,” she said. She also rebuked a broadsheet (not the Manila Standard) for being cruel to her by maliciously twisting her answers although she answered “in all candor and honesty” the texted questions of its reporter.

When she protested what came out in the paper, Reyes said all she got from this broadsheet was a tiny erratum, claiming the omission was “a clerical error.” She said this broadsheet evidently has an axe to grind against her. She recalled having accompanied Enrile to a private dinner in Rockwell where they met its editor-in-chief. During that meeting, Reyes said, the editor openly told them about her deep personal hurt over the senator’s published “Memoirs” which recounted the beginnings of the broadsheet and what she called the unfair portrayal of one of its former bosses. She remembered Enrile told the editor and the others present at the dinner that Reyes was the one who convinced him to write, finish and publish his memoirs. “They resent me because of my role in the memoirs and due to my association with Senator Enrile, and for that, I have never gotten any fair treatment from this newspaper. They are determined to destroy me,” Reyes said. The same newspaper referred to her as “the 25th senator,” she said. Reyes also pointed out that in one TV newscast, her photograph was flashed four times. “This kind of media treatment has inflicted so much torment and trauma on my children and my whole family. I wanted to talk to my children to somehow insulate them and prepare them for worse things to come,” she said. She said before leaving the country, she had already engaged the services of a lawyer to prepare for her defense because as things stood, it was a foregone conclusion that she would be included in the complaint. She added that she intended to defend herself, her name and her honor and to acquit herself from “all the baseless charges and blatant lies” spread about her. Reyes, who is known by her nickname “Gigi,” hogged the headlines during the controversy over the uneven distribution of funds to senators last December, resulting in a word war between Enrile and Senator Alan Cayetano. In a privilege speech, Cayetano had insinuated that the decisions of Reyes prevailed over those Enrile. He also suggested that the public should be asking who’s calling the shots in the Senate. While Cayetano failed to provide any details, he claimed he had “a hundred truths” about Enrile and Reyes “for every lie” that the Senate leader would say against him.

He later told reporters he did not mean to link Enrile and Reyes romantically. Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who has also had heated exchanges with Enrile, said the Ombudsman and Justice Department should consider Reyes as a state witness, but he did not elaborate. Senate President Franklin Drilon on Monday said he referred a request by the Blue Ribbon Committee to have Napoles testify before the panel, noting that this might prejudice her case.‐denies‐betraying‐former‐chief‐aide/                                 

‘I quit if Tatad proves claims’ By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted 9 hours ago | 1,768 views

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said he will resign if former senator Francisco Tatad produces evidence to prove his allegation that Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind behind the P10 billion pork barrel scam, had lunch at the Palace before she surrendered on Aug. 28. Lacierda, however, said Tatad would owe the Palace an apology if he is unable to prove his claim. “He has not even identified the sources of [information about] this lunch with Napoles. You know, I’m still waiting for it. If he can prove to me that Napoles had lunch with the President, I will resign, simple as that,” Lacierda said. “If he doesn’t prove his claim, then he should stop. He should apologize to us. We’re giving him too much news already. It’s all not true, obviously,” he added. Tatad, citing well-placed sources at the Palace, said Napoles “arrived at 10:30 am, all by herself, without her lawyer, but accompanied by Lacierda alone, “who happens to be a lawyer.” “She was immediately conducted to what is known as the ‘Music Room’ or ‘Ready Room’ where she remained closeted” with President Benigno Aquino III, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, and the Malacanang spokesman for the next six hours, Tatad said. “At lunch time, food was brought in by a secretary rather than the regular Malacañang waiters, and Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras joined the meeting. He was followed by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad at around 1 p.m., and [Executive Secretary Paquito] Ochoa a few minutes later. Between 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., Aquino stepped out three times to meet some official callers, then finally left for an unknown destination.” Tatad said the meeting ended at 4:30 p.m., and “Lacierda left with Napoles, destination unknown.” Lacierda also denied Tatad’s new column where he accused the Palace of using Napoles as conduit to release P69 billion in pork barrel funds to lawmakers to secure

the impeachment of then Chief Justice Renato Corona and the passage of the Reproductive Health Law. Lacierda said based on his recollection, the Priority Development Assistance Fund was never dangled by the Palace on the two issues. “As far as we know, it was based on the judgment of the congressmen and the senators,” he said. Lacierda said all Tatad had to do was check the Web site of the Department of Budget and Management to see the disbursements made to lawmakers. “I can categorically say that’s not true…If he has any documents to prove that, then show it. He just keeps on giving us innuendos. We are a very transparent administration,” he said. Tatad said his sources confirmed to him that at least P24 billion was disbursed by the Palace to effect Corona’s impeachment and removal. Another P25 billion was released to secure the passage of the RH Law, while an extra P20 billion was “believed to have been released to the lawmakers as regular pork,” Tatad said.‐quit‐if‐tatad‐proves‐claims/                     

‘Habagat’ sets off landslides, floods; 20 die By Francisco Tuyay | Posted 9 hours ago | 247 views

Diasaster officials on Monday placed Ilocos Norte, Sablayan in Occidental Mindoro, Olongapo City and Subic in Zambales under a state of calamity after the torrential rain, flooding and landslides triggered by the southwest monsoon in those areas killed 20 people and sent eight others missing, initial reports said. The casualties were difficult to sum up as the officials cited running figures as they were interviewed. The weather bureau blamed a tropical storm outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility for enhancing the southwest monsoon and bringing intense rain to Metro Manila, Zambales and the rest of Luzon in the past two days.

Rainy day blues. From top clockwise: Residents carry a girl on a rubber raft to safety in Olongapo City after torrential monsoon rain worsened by Typhoon Usagi pounded Luzon; a man loses his balance as he walks on flooded Dimasalang Street in Sampaloc, Manila, while the next photo shows the other man helping him get to his feet. AFP, LINO SANTOS

At least 18 people were killed in Olongapo City alone, where seven suburbs were under chest-deep flood waters after ten hours of continuous rain. Six people were buried alive while eight others went missing in Subic after a landslide triggered by heavy rain buried several houses there. Mayor Jefferson Khonghun said the entire Subic was isolated as a result of the massive flooding and landslides there. Four people drowned in Batangas, Laguna, Muntinlupa and Bataan. In Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, thousands of residents were evacuated after intense rain inundated several villages. Strong winds knocked down power lines in Ilocos Norte, while hundreds of families in Cavite were brought to safer ground as a result of chest-deep flood waters. About 500 passengers were stranded in Bicol and elsewhere after the Coast Guard prevented 17 vessels from sailing as a result of bad weather. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters a C-130 plane carrying Batanes Rep. Dina Abad had flown to the hard-hit province carrying relief. “She brought relief goods to Batanes and NEA [National Electrification Administration] personnel are there to restore power,” Lacierda said. “Relief is under way, but we continue to ask our kindhearted brethren to provide relief assistance to our countrymen in Batanes.” Lacierda said Malacañang will discuss with the Defense Department and the Armed Forces if the American soldiers participating in the joint military exercises with Filipino soldiers could be diverted to Subic and Olongapo City to help those affected by the intense rain and flooding. Olongapo City Mayor Rolen Paulino said he had asked US Ambassador Harry Thomas to deploy personnel from a US Navy ship docked in Subic to help in the rescue efforts. The Department of Public Works and Highways said it had deployed heavy equipment and personnel to clear the national roads in the north that had been hit by landslides.

The Metro Manila Development Authority said it had responded to the request of Zambales officials asking it to help in the rescue operations in their flood-stricken communities. “We have deployed two teams to Subic and Olongapo to assist in th rescue and relief operations,” MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said. “They will be coordinating with the municipal and provincial governments.” With Jess Malabanan, Florante S. Solmerin, Fred Villareal, Rio N. Araja, Joel E. Zurbano and Joyce Pangco Pañares, with PNA‐sets‐off‐landslides‐floods‐20‐die/                                 

PNoy told: Have political will By Vito Barcelo | Posted 9 hours ago | 677 views

A Catholic priest on Monday criticized President Benigno Aquino III for allegedly lacking the political will to abolish the pork barrel despite the calls from various sectors that he do so. “I believe that President Aquino is not showing a strong political will to hear the call of the people to abolish the pork barrel system,” said Joe Dizon, one of the convenors of the Abolish Pork Movement. “If he is serious about this issue, he can level up with the people by abolishing his own pork barrel and everything else will follow.” Dizon made his statement even as the Philippine Embassy in Washington called on the Filipino community there to help Aquino safeguard the supposed gains he had made in eliminating graft and corruption. “We thank our countrymen for their vigilance in ensuring that the gains that have been made in the fight against graft and corruption during the past three years of the Aquino administration are safeguarded,” Ambassador Jose Cuisia said in a statement. “The fight is not yet over. We can only emerge victorious if our people will continue to stand behind the President and walk with him along the straight and righteous path towards good governance. Cuisia issued his statement in response to the the calls of the Filipino community in the US to abolish the pork barrel funds of the members of Congress. In the House, a neophyte lawmaker on Monday urged the public officials involved in the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam not to run in the next elections out of a sense of propriety. “The people should continue to show their anger through peaceful protests and make sure we vote the right candidates in the next election,” Parañaque Rep. Gustavo Tambunting said. “[Those] involved in the [pork barrel] scandal should not run for office anymore. If they do, people should not vote for them.”

Dizon said the efforts being made by the government in resolving the pork barrel issue were not enough to bring truth and justice to the people. He urged the people to take the next step in protesting against corruption by uniting and ensuring that they are being heard by the people in authority. “We have to level up in the issue of the pork barrel. This means that we have to initiate acts together and ensure that this initiation would reach a clear end. We have to pressure the government to focus and resolve this issue,” Dizon said. “To our government leaders, I hope you will serve the people truthfully. Please consider the sacrifices made by the people whenever they give portions of their salary just to pay government taxes.” Meanwhile, retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz said it was not enough to imprison those who behind the pork barrel scam. The issue would only be resolved once the funds were fully recovered and returned to the public. “The quest for truth and justice has already started, but the end is still far from reached,” Cruz said in a statement posted at the CBCP website. “I am hoping that this would end not just by sending those who will be proven guilty to jail, but to also return the money stolen from the people.” With Sara Susanne D. Fabunan and Maricel V. Cruz‐pnoy‐told‐have‐political‐will/                 

Napoles enters no plea, court notes it ‘not guilty’ By Ferdinand Fabella | Posted 9 hours ago | 204 views A Makati court on Monday entered a plea of not guilty for businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles in the serious illegal detention case filed against her by her former personal assistant Benhur Luy, who also accused her of being the mastermind behind a scheme that defrauded the government of up to P10 billion. Napoles, who has been detained at a police camp in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, was taken to the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 courtroom shortly after 1 p.m., but she refused to enter a plea when the court read the criminal charges filed against her.

Arraignment day. Policemen escort suspected pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles to a Makati court on the day of her arraignment on Monday. Inset, Napoles is shown seated in court waiting for her arraignment. Lino Santos, DANNA PATA Judge Elmo Alameda automatically entered a “not guilty” plea for Napoles as provided under the Rules of Court. The proceedings were over by 2 p.m. when about six members of the police Special Action Force escorted the 49-year-old Napoles from the 14th-floor courtroom to the basement of the Makati City Hall, where her security convoy was waiting. Napoles wore a bullet-proof vest and a Kevlar helmet. A white towel covered her cuffed hands. “She did not enter a plea because we still have a pending case before the Court of Appeals,” Napoles’ lead counsel Lorna Kapunan told reporters, who were barred from entering the courtroom.

Kapunan was referring to the petition before the appellate court questioning the arrest warrant issued against Napoles. A few hours before the arraignment, Kapunan filed a motion to transfer the venue of the proceedings to Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, where Napoles is detained. “It can reasonably be expected that any of the politicians sued for plunder and malversation, whose careers and future ambitions are on the line, can easily engage gunmen to exterminate and get rid of Janet in the course of her perilous transfer from Fort Sto. Domingo to the RTC Makati courtroom,” Napoles’ motion said. But work at the court has already been suspended by the Supreme Court because of the bad weather and the presiding judge has no more time to decide on the motion. “The judge said only the Supreme Court can decide whether to postpone the arraignment or move the venue. And because Mrs. Napoles is already here, they proceeded with the arraignment, anyway,” Kapunan said. Gertrudes Luy, Benhur Luy’s mother, as well as their lawyer Levi Baligod, was also present in the hearing. Dante Jimenez of the Volunteers against Crime and Corruption was also in court. About 15 to 20 Makati policemen formed a security barrier outside the courtroom. At the city hall grounds, about 100 more policemen carrying anti-riot shields were stationed. Some carried high-powered firearms. K-9 units were also seen patrolling the grounds and the corridor outside the courtroom. Calling such security precautions a waste of government resources, Kapunan said they would file a motion to move the trial to Fort Sto. Domingo. The lawyer said Napoles would not appear before the court for her bail hearing on Sept. 27. “During the NBI investigation on the plunder case, the [Justice Department] reversed its earlier decision dismissing the serious illegal detention and kidnapping case. Almost overnight they revived the illegal detention case and had Napoles put in jail without according her the opportunity to read the resolution and seek legal relief,” Kapunan said. On September 20, the Makati court dismissed Napoles’ last-minute attempt to postpone her arraignment, saying it saw no compelling reason to do so.

The presiding judge noted that the appellate court had issued no restraining order to stop the arraignment. Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim, who remains at large, were charged for allegedly detaining Luy at the “Bahay ni San Jose” retreat house in Makati from Dec. 19, 2012 to March 22, 2013, purportedly to prevent him from revealing what he knew about the pork barrel scam. The Justice Department forwarded the complaint to the Makati court after finding probable cause to charge Napoles and her brother with serious illegal detention. Alameda subsequently issued an arrest warrant against Napoles and Lim on Aug. 14. Napoles, however, had gone into hiding, surfacing only about two weeks later in Malacañang after President Aquino announced a P10 million reward for her capture. After her surrender to President Aquino on Aug. 28, Napoles was temporarily held at the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City. She was then transferred to Makati City Jail but her lawyers convinced the court to move her to a more secure detention facility in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, where she has been held since Sept. 1. On Sept. 16, Napoles and Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ramon Revilla Jr. were charged before the Ombudsman with plunder for the alleged misuse of the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund, commonly known as pork barrel. All three senators have denied wrongdoing. Thirty-four other government officials and private individuals were also named respondents in the case. In the Senate, the chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee said he wanted Napoles to appear before the panel investigating the pork barrel scam on Thursday. On Monday, Senator Teofisto Guingona III forwarded to the Office of Senate President Franklin Drilon a subpoena for signing to compel Napoles to appear before his panel. “The appearance of Ms. Napoles in the Blue Ribbon hearing is important to our investigation as the Filipinos are looking for answers that may shed light to some issues at hand,” said Guingona in a statement. Napoles has been accused of siphoning off some P10 billion in congressional pork barrel into bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) she set up, and kicking back some of the illgotten funds to the legislators who worked through her NGOs.

Estrada and Revilla had also vowed to deliver privilege speeches that were supposed to link their other colleagues in the Senate to various anomalies. The Blue Ribbon committee will resume its hearing today (Sept. 24). In a TV interview, the lawyer of five whistleblowers – all employees of Napoles – said her clients were ready to testify before the Senate if they are summoned. The whistleblowers include a bookkeeper, a financial clerk and the presidents of three bogus NGOs set up by Napoles. With Macon R. Araneta‐enters‐no‐plea‐court‐notes‐it‐not‐ guilty/                               

House defers SK elections By Maricel Cruz | Posted 10 hours ago | 133 views

The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading the bill seeking to postpone the scheduled October 28 Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) elections to the last Monday of October 2016. Voting 185-12, congressmen approved the bill that differed from the Senate version on when the council polls will be held. The Senate wants the elections to be postponed for only a year while the House wants it held in October 2016. But both chambers agreed that incumbent youth council officials, many of whom will be beyond the mandatory age limit in October, shall not remain in office after their terms expure on Nov 30. Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said the House version of the bill will be submitted to the Senate so that both chambers can immediately start bicameral deliberations since there are only five more weeks before October 28, but there is still no word if President Benigno Simeon Aquino III will certify it as urgent. According to Presidential Legislative Liaison Officer Manuel Mamba, the President was keen on certifying the measure as urgent, but there has beeon no word on the certification as of Monday. Once a bill is certified as urgent, both houses of Congress will not have to follow the “three-day rule� between the second and third reading and will permit the passage of the bill on third and final reading on the same day. The Senate passed its version of the bill by a 19-0 vote last week after Drilon noted that time was running out for the measure. The Senate approved SB 1186 last Sept. 10 amid calls to reset the election because the Commission on Elections said it lacked funding. Last September 4, Marcos sponsored on the Senate floor Committee Report 1, the first committee report in the current 16th Congress, urging immediate approval of Senate Bill 1186. In pushing for a new poll date, he cited increasing disappointment over youth leaders becoming politicized and susceptible to dishonest practices

“As a result, there is a strong clamor from different sectors of society calling for the restructuring and in-depth evaluation of the SK, and institute reforms,” he said. Moreover, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said the SK and village elections would require spending P2.3 billion. “We have no budget for that. It would be logical (to conduct SK) in October 2016,” he said, adding that he asked Malacañang to certify as urgent Marcos’ Senate Bill 1186. “The consensus is to postpone it. There is no achievements and performance, it’s just a waste of money and becoming a breeding ground for graft and corruption,” said Brillantes. “If the barangay functioned without SK, we will try to work for its abolition.”‐defers‐sk‐elections/                             

Testify vs. Enrile, Gigi told September 23, 2013 10:16 pm by Jomar Canlas Senior Reporter Jessica “Gigi” Reyes can testify against her former boss, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, and she may escape criminal liability if she can prove she did not get a cut from the pork barrel kickbacks that the senator allegedly received from Janet Lim Napoles, according to retired Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Edilberto Sandoval. Sandoval said Reyes should disprove Enrile’s claim that she acted on her own when she authorized the release of the senator’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to nongovernment organizations controlled by Napoles. In fact, Reyes can even file charges against the 89-year-old Enrile, the former justice said. Sandoval, a criminal law expert and professor, said Reyes can escape liability under the Revised Penal Code but it would be a problem to escape prosecution for violations of the Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. He described “scenarios” on the possible involvement of Reyes in the pork barrel scam case. “If she is authorized and she returned the money, she is free from criminal liability,” he said. ”It will be direct bribery if she was not authorized at did not hand the money to Enrile. Indirect bribery if she was authorized and pocketed it.” But he said Reyes and the other respondents will have a hard time wriggling out of the case. “They still have to answer for their irregular acts as public officers,” Sandoval said. An incumbent magistrate of the Court of Appeals said Reyes should first apply as a state witness. The Department of Justice (DOJ) can then review her qualifications to determine if she acted as a principal or an accomplice, the magistrate, who requested anonymity, said. He said the Rules of Court require that for a person to become a state witness, he or she should not appear to be the most guilty. In the case of Reyes, he said the point of contention will be whether she took a large sum of money for her personal gain from Enrile’s PDAF and whether she was authorized to do the pork barrel transactions. The justice said that if Reyes is deemed to be a principal by indispensable cooperation, then she cannot be a state witness. But if she acted as a mere accomplice or accessory, then she can testify against Enrile. Reyes is facing plunder charges at the Office of the Ombudsman for her alleged involvement in the release of Enrile’s PDAF to questionable organizations controlled by Janet Lim Napoles. The Justice department claimed that Enrile amassed P172.85 million from pork barrel transactions.

Also charged with plunder were senators Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla, several former congressmen and their chief of staff, and heads of various government organizations. The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) sees Reyes’ statement as an indication that a rift between Enrile and Reyes was developing and that the Justice department should persuade Reyes to be a state witness. Dante Jimenez, founding chair of the VACC, said Reyes has direct knowledge of the transactions between Janet Lim-Napoles and Enrile’s office, including kickbacks which according to one witness were personally delivered to Reyes. Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th, considers Reyes as a good witness and believes that the DOJ or the Ombudsman should seriously consider making her a state witness. Apart from the preliminary investigation being conducted the Office of the Ombudsman on the case, the Senate blue ribbon committee is also conducting its own inquiry into the PDAF controversy and is set to summon Napoles. Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd has forwarded to the Office of the Senate President the subpoena for Napoles to attend the Senate panel hearing on Thursday, September 26. Senate President Franklin Drilon said in separate interview he decided to seek the advice of the Ombudsman on summoning Napoles to a Senate investigation while a criminal case against her is pending. Drilon said the Ombudsman has to determine if the Senate proceedings could prejudice the case. This early the DOJ has said witnesses in the pork barrel scam should not attend the Senate hearing. In a two-page letter, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima told Guingona the Office of the Ombudsman has jurisdiction over the case and should decide whether “a public exposition of the testimonies of all the whistleblowers would be detrimental to a just and fair evaluation of the evidence before it.” “I am inclined to reserve my consent to the appearance of all the whistleblowers in the next scheduled hearing of the Committee, in deference to the primary role the Ombudsman now plays on the matter of publicizing the testimonies of the whistleblowers in a public hearing after the complaints have already been filed with her office,” de Lima said. “With the filing of the complaints, the Ombudsman has already assumed jurisdiction over these cases. As such, anything related to the complaints filed against these senators, congressmen, other public officials and private individuals is already within the power and authority of the Ombudsman, including the release of information gathered from the evidence submitted that would reflect on the merits of the complaints and the strength or weakness of the evidence against those charged in the complaints,” she said.‐vs‐enrile‐gigi‐told/42918/ 

Pope criticizes focus on ‘idol called money’ September 23, 2013 10:07 pm CAGLIARI, Italy: Pope Francis on Sunday (Monday in Manila) hit out at an “unethical, unfair” economic system that idolized money, saying it was behind suffering and unemployment as he visited the struggling Italian island of Sardinia. The Pope was welcomed by thousands as he arrived in Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, an idyllic island where behind the picture-perfect beaches, youth unemployment is up to 51 percent. Francis broke from his official speech to tell the crowd of his family’s suffering after his father emigrated from Italy to Argentina. “He suffered the terrible crisis of 1929 (the Great Depression) and lost everything . . . I felt this suffering throughout my childhood,” he said. The Pontiff said the lack of a job robbed one of dignity and he criticized “the consequence of a global choice, of an economic system centered on an idol called money.” He said he wanted to put the focus back on people. “Let us all fight the money idol, against an unfair system without ethics in which money rules everything,” he said to loud applause from the crowd. “To protect this idolatrous system we abandon the weakest, the elderly, those who have nowhere to sleep . . . Even the young are abandoned and left without dignity.”‐criticizes‐focus‐on‐idol‐called‐money/42900/             

PH has highest teen pregnancy rate in Asia September 23, 2013 9:57 pm LEGAZPI CITY: The Philippines has the most number of teenage pregnancy in Asia, according to a family planning specialist who claimed that 20 percent of maternal deaths involved teen mothers. “Philippines is ranked one in Asia with high prevalence of teenage pregnancy. We want to prevent this as much as possible because out of 21 percent reported maternal deaths everyday, 20 percent of these came from teenage pregnancy which is very disturbing,” Chi Laigo Vallido, an advocacy specialist at the Forum for Family Planning and Development, told The Manila Times on Monday. The Forum for Family Planning and Development is a non-governmental organization based in Quezon City but is working in several provinces, including Albay. The increasing cases of teenage pregnancy nationwide also resulted in at least 500,000 to 800,000 cases of induced abortion annually, Vallido said, citing a study. “Before, the youngest teenage pregnancy reported (involved) a 15-year-old but currently, the youngest is 12 years old,” she added. An estimated 14 to 15 women die daily due to childbirth and pregnancy-related complications. “Filipinos have fought for the passage of the RH Law for more than 14 years. With this delay, what does this mean for Filipinos who have been waiting for the RH Law?” Vallido said. The Reproductive Health bill or RA 10354 was signed into law by President Benigno Aquino 3rd on December 17, 2012 but its implementation was put on hold by the Supreme Court after anti-RH groups questioned its constitutionality. In Bicol region, the number of teenagers between 15 and 19 years old who have begun childbearing and have given birth to their first child doubled from 2006 to 2010 based on the 2010 Family Health Survey of the National Statistics Office (NSO). “While the rate of teen pregnancy in Bicol is lower compared to other regions, the doubling of incidence need to be looked into and addressed,” Vallido said. “Rather than ignore these statistics, we admire the local government of Albay for engaging Reproductive Health issues head on that’s why we supported the First Adolescents Congress of the province and we hope that other provinces will also be inspired,” she said. Various student leaders from 15 towns and three cities of Albay convened in Sto. Domingo town for the First Adolescents Congress where they discussed the pressing issues faced by the youth such as reproductive health, education, poverty, substance abuse, disaster risk reduction. “While Albay is lucky in the sense that their local leaders are determined to address adolescent RH issues, other provinces remain indifferent. That’s why we need to implement the RH Law now,” said Nilda Devera of Health Action Information Network (HAIN).‐has‐highest‐teen‐pregnancy‐rate‐in‐asia/42871/ 

Legislators are accountable September 23, 2013 10:10 pm by ERNESTO HERRERA POLICY PEEK

Ernesto F. Herrera I subscribe to the belief that the Commission on Audit (COA), the Department of Budget and Management, and other implementing government agencies are just as accountable for the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). But legislators cannot just wash their hands completely and say they just identify the projects and it is the responsibility of the implementing agencies from thereon. Way back when pork barrel was known by other names like the Countrywide Development Fund and Congressional Initiative Allocations, legislators were always quick to say that they have no direct participation in the implementation of pork barrel; that these projects and the funds for them are directly implemented by national government agencies like, for instance, the Department of Public Works and Highways for roads or the Department of Agriculture for fertilizers and farm implements. By justifying the pork and washing their hands in this way, they already know what the people are thinking: that pork means kickbacks and corruption. But senators and congressmen have the responsibility to ensure that the development funds entrusted to them are used for the purposes intended, and are not jeopardized by corruption. They already know that the pork barrel process is ripe with opportunities for corruption so they have to exert every earnest effort to look after their projects and policies concerning their allocations. It’s not the problem of implementing agencies alone, most certainly. Majority of legislators have been saying that without the attendant kickbacks that have given pork barrel a very bad name, the PDAF (or whatever name it is called) can

actually do a lot of good; that used wisely and without corruption they can allocate money on projects that would otherwise be neglected by the national government. These include using pork for medicines and health services of indigent patients in government hospitals, for constructing new classrooms and repairing decrepit ones, for livelihood projects, for farm-to-market roads. Wherever it would do the most good. Legislators must not only be straight in allocating the money. They must also make sure their own people are straight too and that the money is allocated and implemented properly. They can’t just say the kickbacks and other kinds of corruption happened without their knowledge and consent. How can they, when they have a huge influence on the budget process and they have vast oversight functions? It is the responsibility of every legislator to know how to work the budget and thoroughly scrutinize it and revamp it if need be. Surely one’s concern over the budget should go beyond merely appropriating pork barrel allocations. Legislators have to use their oversight powers to make sure that laws and projects are being implemented, that government agencies are doing their jobs and to find out what policies and measures need tweaking. Their responsibility also includes hiring good people. Eight chiefs-of-staff of the eight lawmakers in the pork barrel complaint have been recommended to be charged with plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman. This means they are going to be charged as co-conspirators of their bosses and Janet Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the pork barrel scam. A few months ago, I told you of a true story about this senator who won in the 2001 national elections. The chief of staff he hired resigned during his first week in office. You see, this senator asked his new chief of staff, a lawyer, if he knew how to get commissions from pork barrel allocations. The new chief of staff of the new senator told his boss the truth: he didn’t know anything about it and if, indeed, asked to facilitate commissions for the senator, he won’t. The senator told him bluntly that maybe he’s not the right guy for the job after all. And so the chief of staff promptly resigned, without regret, I heard, and with much satisfaction. On the other hand, I know of another senator who made it quite known that he is absolutely against getting commissions from his pork barrel, although he did not renounce his allocations as former Senators Panfilo Lacson and Joker Arroyo did. He delegated a trusted friend and political officer to handle his pork barrel allocations, only to find out later that this ‘trusted’ staffer was very aggressively getting commissions using the name of his boss, the senator, without the latter’s knowledge. These stories emphasize the importance of hiring the right people in government or anywhere.

But the bosses themselves must first be honest so they would also get honest people. Honest staffers are hard to find. And unfortunately, the honest ones don’t always stay so after being exposed to the many opportunities for corruption in government. Certainly, legislators shouldn’t just hire people based on their efficiency at getting commissions from pork barrel allocations. Let’s not forget though that the problem is also P-Noy’s and Malacañang’s. The Napoles scheme happened quite obviously through a grand conspiracy of both the executive and legislative officials and agencies. How can the administration now completely eliminate extortion, theft, bribery, bid rigging and collusion not only in pork barrel allocations but in other public projects (yes, Juan whatever Malacañang says pork barrel is still in the budget). This administration has to bring back the people’s confidence in public transactions. Or else no one will believe its Daang Matuwid.                              

Want to fight graft? Check on COA September 23, 2013 10:07 pm by TONY LOPEZ VIRTUAL REALITY

Tony Lopez Can you believe that under the Constitution, there are many provisions that could combat corruption and pork barrel abuse? Yet by now the Philippines should be one of the top three most corrupt countries in Asia, what with the ongoing pork barrel scandal. The outrage against abuse of special funds by legislators and the executive has been so widespread and callous it has triggered what Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno calls “several threads of discussion.” One line of discussions raised “questions as fundamental as whether we have a cultural genetic defect as a people that has allowed massive public frauds to be perpetrated in our sad history,” the chief jurist told a Sept. 19 integrity summit of businessmen with her as the main speaker. In her speech, Sereno maintained that the solution to fighting graft in government is in the current Philippine Constitution. “The Constitution contains basic principles and rules that must be followed in the protection of the rights of the human individual against the possible allpowerful incursion of the State,” she explains in her speech. “The Constitution also provides a practical framework for addressing issues of governance,” she says, adding “the constitutional framework is practical because it describes with sufficient clarity, the process by which accountability over public funds is to be ensured.” “And, with respect to the constitutional requirement on fidelity over public resources, statutes have been enacted in line with the Constitution,” she adds. In Sereno’s mind, the most important agency in fighting corruption is the Commission on Audit. Section 2 (1), Article IX-D of the Constitution provides: “The Commission on Audit shall have the power, authority, and duty to examine, audit, and settle all accounts pertaining to the revenue and receipts of, and expenditures or uses of funds and property, owned or held in trust by, or pertaining to, the Government, or any of its subdivisions, agencies, or instrumentalities,

including government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters, and on a postaudit basis . . . ” Also Section 4 provides: “The Commission shall submit to the President and Congress, within the time fixed by law, an annual report covering the financial condition and operation of the Government, its subdivisions, agencies, and instrumentalities, including government-owned or controlled corporations, and non-governmental entities subject to its audit, and recommend measures necessary to improve their effectiveness and efficiency. It shall submit such other reports as may be required by law.” In addition, in a special section in Article VI of the Constitution on the Legislative Department, the COA is specifically given a role defined as follows: “Section 20. The records and books of accounts of the Congress shall be preserved and be open to the public in accordance with law, and such books shall be audited by the Commission on Audit which shall publish annually an itemized list of amounts paid to and expenses for each Member.” Powers of the Commission on Audit Sereno says COA has under its powers to examine, audit and settle all fund and property accounts of the State, the duty to achieve the following objectives: (1) Determine whether or not the fiscal responsibility that rests directly with the head of the government agency has been properly and effectively discharged. This fiscal responsibility has been defined under the same Administrative Code as; All resources of the government shall be managed, expended or utilized in accordance with law and regulations and safeguarded against loss or wastage through illegal or improper disposition to ensure efficiency, economy and effectiveness in the operations of government. The responsibility to take care that such policy is faithfully adhered to rests directly with the chief or head of the government agency concerned. (2) Develop and implement a comprehensive audit program that shall encompass an examination of financial transactions, accounts and reports, including evaluation of compliance with applicable laws and regulations; (3) Institute control measures through the promulgation of auditing and accounting rules and regulations governing the receipts disbursements, and uses of funds and property, consistent with the total economic development efforts of the Government; (4) Promulgate auditing and accounting rules and regulations so as to facilitate the keeping, and enhance the information value of the accounts of the Government; (5) Institute measures designed to preserve and ensure the independence of its representatives; and (6) Endeavor to bring its operations closer to the people by the delegation of authority through decentralization, consistent with the provisions of the Constitution and the laws. Audit of special funds

Sereno says special and fraud audits can be conducted any time, and any concerned citizen may request such audits. In the case of requests for fraud audits, the complainant does not need to disclose his identity. In the same manner, both the Constitution and the Administrative Code with particularity, has armed the COA with the powers to: (1) promulgate rules to prevent irregular, unnecessary, extravagant or unconscionable expenditures or uses of government resources; (2) adopt measures to correct inadequacies of the internal control system of the audited agencies, including, when necessary, adopting special pre-audit; (3) examine all documents filed with other agencies in connection with government revenue collection operations; (4) exercise visitorial authority over non-government entities that are either subsized by the State, those required to pay levies, have government shares, have received counterpart funds from the government, or are partly funded by donations through government; (5) upon direction of the President, exercise visitorial authority over non-government entities whose loans are guaranteed by the Government; (6) assist in the collection of all debts due Government; (7) order the retention of money by a public officer due a person who is indebted to the Government; (8) inspect the originals of orders, deeds, contracts or documents involving public funds and failure to do so can be the basis for disciplinary action, as well as a permanent disallowance of the claim, assessment of additional levy or government share, or withholding of government funding or donation; (9) investigate and conduct inquiries, summon parties, and subpoena for testimony and submission of documents; (10) punish for contempt as under the Rules of Court; (11) conduct random and periodic inspections, including ocular ones; (12) seize the office and the contents thereof of any local treasurer or accountable officer in cases of shortage of cash on hand, close and render his accounts to the date of taking possession and temporarily continue the public business of such office and the auditor who seizes the offices shall ipso facto supersede the local treasurer until or officer until the latter is restored or another is designated; (13) place under constructive distraint personal property of the accountable officer upon a prima facie finding of malversation, and there is reasonable ground to believe the officer is retiring from government service, intends to leave the country or remove or hide his property.    

Barangay in frontline of govt service September 23, 2013 10:04 pm by MA. LOURDES N. TIQUIA ZILCH

Ma. Lourdes N. Tiquia Barangay units are our frontline service and our first impression of government. It used to be being a barangay captain was the most respectable position one can have since the community supports you and thinks highly of you. Today though, barangay captains are different from the volunteer type of the 70s. Barangays today have funds and salaries but they have deteriorated in performance. Barangay elections are supposed to be non-partisan but politics has crept in. In fact, they are the foot soldiers of local chief executives or LCEs. As of September 2012, there are 42,028 barangays nationwide. And on 28 October 2013, we will again have another election, this time using the manual system. Why is this election important? The Barangay Election is the first step to building the ground for any presidential candidate for 2016. With the remaining 2013 PDAF on hold, the political power play has shifted to LCEs with cash-strapped district representatives waiting in the sidelines, hoping money politics does not define the outcome. For presidential wannabes, strategic locations would have to be mapped out so that support can be extended key foot soldiers. Unless, the powers that be unleash another Napoles for Local Government Units or LGUs to level the playing field, as they’d say. Why are audits for LGUs critical? It is critical because it has been said that corruption has shifted from the national to the local since the start of Aquino II. If this is true and the first three years, 2011-2013, show proof of the same, then Tuwid na Daan is just an illusion, a fairy tale. During the time of the late DILG Secretary, Jesse Robredo, effort was given to reward good governance at the local level. There was a seal of good house keeping. That was then so what is it now? Not much has been heard on local government reform initiatives. How many LGUs are in the red? How many of the 80 provinces, 143 cities,

1491 municipalities and 42,028 barangays? How pervasive is a Napoles influence among the LGUs? Taxpayers are easy to please but public officials never get it. Collect the garbage on time, have working streetlights, maintain public order and safety in the community manage traffic along environs and properly handle flood mitigation and control. Simple things for the frontline to deliver and with decentralization and deconcentration, it would have unburdened the national. The moment the frontlines do not act, government fails and the moment government fails, no survey spins can cover up for it. Just like a June survey being passed as a September survey and again, some media organizations embraced it like gospel truth. If we are shocked at the tip of the proverbial iceberg that is Napoles, will we fall on our behinds once we see the audit of COA on LGUs? Will we have another Million Day March? Or the hiccup is too much for the system and we crumble? What do members of barangays learn from our present officialdom? Then, public office is its own reward. Today, the more money a barangay gets, the more detached they are from their constituencies. The more they are lazy and develop bas habits. The same pork has eroded community service. The frontline is dripping with oil that affects the health of even our barangays. Barangays do not move today without money unlike the days when it was created and when the most respected residents run for office. What have we become as a nation? I yearn for the olden days when being in public service means having honor.                  

Rapid rice price rise outpaces past hikes September 23, 2013 8:07 pm WITH price increases of the national staple at their highest in three years, a lawmaker on Monday urged Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala to act on the department’s accusations that rice cartels and rice smugglers are behind the steady and unrelenting increases in rice prices before rice cost put it beyond the reach of ordinary consumers. “Currently the increases in rice prices have outpaced increases in previous years; it even outpaced the speed of the DA ‘investigation’ of the parties supposedly involved in hoarding,” said Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz of Abakada party-list. “Secretary Alcala has repeatedly issued statements in the media that he will file cases against those supposedly involved in rice hoarding and economic sabotage, but these have not prevented the increases in the prices of rice,” de la Cruz lamented. “Hindi nakakain ang statements. Hindi ito makakatulong sa pagbaba ng presyo ng bigas. Baka yung kababayan natin, sa kawalan ng bigas, dyaryo na lang ang nginungyuya,” the legislator quipped. [Press statements cannot be eaten. These cannot help bring rice prices down. Maybe our people, who do not have rice, have taken to chewing newspapers].” Rice prices are at their highest in three years. According to the data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) website,, the average retail price of regular milled rice in the second week of September was P36.1 a kilo, P3.7 higher than the roughly the same period a year ago and P4.7 more than what consumers paid for in 2011. De la Cruz said that the DA assurances regarding the country’s rice supply have not been felt in the marketplace, where consumers still complain of high rice prices. “I for one would like to believe that all is well, that we have an ample supply of rice and that we will be rice self-sufficient this year,” the lawmaker said. “Pero kung nakita mo ang mataas na presyo ng bigas sa palengke, ‘pag nakita mo sa datos sa mismong website ng BAS na tumataas ang presyo ng bigas, ano ang paniniwalain mo, ang press release o ang ebidensya?” de la Cruz stressed. [But if you see that prices in the market are high, and you see in the BAS website that rice prices are going up, what will you believe, the press release or the evidence]?” Data disparity The legislator added that Alcala’s optimistic projections and analysis of the country’s rice situation may stem from the latter’s commitment to the President in 2010 to make the country rice-sufficient by the end of the year.

“Naiintindihan ko kung ayaw n’ya mapahiya. [I understand if he does not want to lose face] But it’s more than just his pride at stake here; it’s the welfare of our people,” said de la Cruz. “So the disturbing trend,” de la Cruz warned, “has been for the DA Secretary to bloat his numbers. He is a far more optimistic man than the head of his very own stat bureau.” The party-list representative pointed out that “while the projections of the BAS says that 2013 palay production will hit 18.45 million MT, Secretary Alcala has boasted that the country’s output this year will be 20 million MT.” De la Cruz hoped that the DA would reconcile its projections and data so that Congress and the public would have a clearer picture of the country’s rice situation. “Without the right data, we will not be able to take the steps necessary to ensure the country’s food security. This includes deciding on whether we should import more or less rice. The sooner we know the real score, the sooner we can act.”‐rice‐price‐rise‐outpaces‐past‐hikes/42854/                           

NFA rice still nowhere to be found September 23, 2013 7:04 pm by MANNY T. UGALDE TABACO CITY, Albay: Two weeks have passed and there’s not a grain of P27 a kilo rice retailed in National Food Authority (NFA) outlets here. Also, consumers are balking that the cheapest commercial rice at P30/kilo is worse in quality compared to the cheaper—but missing—NFA rice. Early last week, city mayor Marie Demetriou through her city administrator retired police officer Elizir Bron said the police was monitoring the development several days after complaints about the missing NFA rice in the market surfaced. The public market is 50 meters from the city hall and city executives remain unaware of the rice shortage while other nearby cities have supplies in their market, complained some resident-consumers. A production report by Dr. Elena delos Santos, regional technical director for operations of the Department of Agriculture regional office in Pili, Camarines Sur boasted that there is no artificial shortage of rice supply in the region saying 2013 palay production was far higher compared to last year’s. NFA regional and provincial officials also deny NFA rice shortage but more than two weeks absence of the staple food in the market makes them a suspect in cahoots with unscrupulous traders, said former Jovellar town mayor for 20 years Jose Arcangel. Radio station Hot FM here managed by former city councilor Noel Que led in attacking the ineptness of NFA officials for not taking decisive action over the shortage of NFA rice. A radio report said the cheaper NFA rice appeared to be in the market, but is introduced as commercial rice above P35 a kilo.‐rice‐still‐nowhere‐to‐be‐found/42796/             

PAGASA issues ‘Orange Rainfall’ warning over MM, nearby provinces September 23, 2013 10:23 am The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) on Monday issued an “Orange Rainfall” warning for Metro Manila and nearby provinces. This was issued around 5:45 a.m. and expected to be in effect for the next three hours. “Heavy to at times intense rainfall is affecting Metro Manila, Zambales, and Bataan and most likely to continue for the next 3 hours,” PAGASA stressed. It added that moderate to heavy rains affecting Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga and portions of Laguna, Quezon, Cavite, and Occidental Mindoro which may persist within three hours. “Flooding is threatening and people are advised to monitorthe weather condition and for the next updates,” PAGASA added. PNA‐issues‐orange‐rainfall‐warning‐over‐mm‐nearby‐ provinces/42560/                         

MRT, LRTs, PNR continue operations despite heavy rains September 23, 2013 8:33 am Operations of the country’s mass rail transport systems remain normal on Monday despite the overnight heavy downpour experienced in Metro Manila. According to the Light Rail Transit Authority control center, both its Lines 1 and 2 remain in operation amid the heavy rains. The same holds for the Metro Rail Transit Line 3. The Philippine National Railways said its operations are also normal. Its first trip left Tutuban station Alabang at 5:37 .am. PNA‐lrts‐pnr‐continue‐operations‐despite‐heavy‐rains/42555/                             

Habagat continues to bring heavy rains over Metro Manila, Luzon PAGASA September 23, 2013 8:32 am The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) on Monday morning issued a orange rainfall warning in Metro Manila as well as some Luzon provinces as it expects heavy to intense rains. The orange rainfall advisory, the second in its three-stage rainfall warning system is raised in areas where rainfall is between 15 mm and 30 mm within one hour. Flooding is a definite threat in communities under the orange alert. In its twitter account, an Orange Rainfall Warning issued at 5:45 a.m. Monday, PAGASA said that heavy to at times intense rains affecting Metro Manila, Zambales, and Bataan most likely will continue for the next three hours. However, moderate to heavy rains affecting Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga and portions of Laguna, Quezon, Cavite, and Occidental Mindoro may persist within three hours. PAGASA issued an orange rainfall advisory over Metro Manila, warning of rain due to the southwest monsoon affecting southern Luzon and Visayas. Weather forecaster Connie Dadivas said that due to tropical storm Pabuk (international name) which is still outside the country enhances the the southwest monsoon that will bring rains over the most parts of Luzon and Visayas. She also said the tropical storm has small chance to enter the country but will pass over the boundary of PAR line. As of now “Pabuk” is located east of Taiwan. Dadivas said that the agency continues to monitor and once it enter the country it will be named “Paolo,” the 16th tropical cyclone to enter the country this year. Due to southwest monsoon, she noted that Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Calabarzon will experience cloudy skies with moderate to occasionally heavy rains and thunderstorms which may trigger flash floods and landslides. She added that Mimaropa and Bicol Region will have cloudy skies with light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms while Northern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms. In its advisory, PAGASA said that moderate to strong winds blowing from the southwest will prevail throughout the entire archipelago and the coastal waters will be moderate to rough.

PAGASA also issued gale warning as strong to gale-force winds associated with the southwest monsoon enhanced by typhoon “Odette” might affect the seaboards of Northern and western Luzon. “Fishing boats and other small sea crafts are advised not to venture out into the sea while larger sea vessels are alerted against big waves,” it said. PNA‐continues‐to‐bring‐heavy‐rains‐over‐metro‐manila‐ luzon‐pagasa/42554/                                     

Posted on September 24, 2013 12:07:39 AM By Claire-Ann C. Feliciano, Reporter

Meralco looking to raise P20B  

MANILA ELECTRIC CO. (Meralco) is planning to issue up to P20 billion in long-term bonds to refinance debt.  

Meralco, in a disclosure, said its board yesterday approved “the offering... of a peso long-term bond in the aggregate principal amount of up to... P20,000,000,000.00 for the principal purpose of refinancing the company’s existing debt.” The power distribution utility noted that it had P25.383 billion in outstanding debt as of end-June 2013. Betty C. Siy-Yap, Meralco senior vice-president and chief finance officer, said in a text message that the offering would likely be conducted “sometime in the fourth quarter.” “There are approval processes required before we will be able to do so,” she added. Ms. Siy-Yap earlier this year said Meralco was looking at various refinancing options. She also noted that the firm’s “debt maturities are comfortably spread through 2022”. Meralco, meanwhile, said in the same disclosure that its board had also authorized the execution of a supply contract with Therma Mobile, Inc. (TMO), a unit of listed Aboitiz Power Corp. The power supply agreement, for up to 234 megawatts (MW) of TMO’s capacity, will run to June 2017 from the date of its approval by the Energy Regulatory Commission. TMO owns and operates four power barges, with a combined capacity of 242

MW, that are located inside the Navotas Fishport Complex. Meralco, which distributes electricity in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite and Rizal as well as parts of Batangas, Laguna, Quezon and Pampanga, saw its net income drop by 3.2% to P9.441 billion in the first half. Its shares gained P1 or 0.36% to close at P277 apiece yesterday. Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, Inc., which has the biggest stake in Meralco, is partly owned by Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT). Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld.‐looking‐to‐ raise‐P20B&id=76924        

Posted on September 24, 2013 12:08:05 AM By Diane Claire J. Jiao, Sub-Editor

New PPP players sought by gov’t THE GOVERNMENT is looking to entice a new group of players -insurers -- to join its vaunted public-private partnership (PPP) program. “We have to develop infrastructure as an asset class that market players can invest in,” Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima said following last week’s government briefing on the economy. “This is why we have been working to boost the capitalization of insurance companies, because their money is the better match for infrastructure projects,” Mr. Purisima added. While the insurance sector has held key roles in funding infrastructure development in other countries, here it is still not the first choice among project proponents. Those who may be interested, meanwhile, have no formal system to find partners. Industry officials noted that they need investments to park the premiums they collect. Rizalina G. Mantaring, president and chief executive of Sun Life of Canada (Philippines), Inc., estimated that the average liability duration of insurers is 19 years. The average duration of assets like stocks and bonds, however, is only 10 years. Big-ticket infrastructure projects like toll roads, railways and airports, in contrast, are constructed, developed and operated over much longer terms. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development calls insurance money “patient capital”. It warned in a June 2013 paper that the financial system was running short of such in the wake of the 2008 global crisis.

Michael T. Rodriguez, Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets managing director, painted a different problem in the Philippines. “There is so much wealth in the economy right now, but there is nowhere to put it. That is why the money keeps going to the short-term market which is more volatile,” he said. Sun Life, the country’s largest insurer, amassed P20.06 billion in premium income in 2012 alone. “We are actively looking at PPP projects right now, since they can offer the better yield and duration for us,” Ms. Mantaring said. “In Canada, Sun Life is the biggest individual investor in infrastructure programs.” Despite the money on offer, Ms. Mantaring said Sun Life was having difficulty attracting proponents of infrastructure projects. “Banks are thought of more naturally when people think of loans or funding,” she noted. Some project proponents also look to the debt markets but the long-term bonds they issue typically have a tenor of 10 to 15 years since investors don’t have the appetite for anything longer. Insurers can lock up funds for 20, even 25 years, she said. Mr. Purisima said one way of bringing insurers into the PPP program was to issue infrastructure-linked bonds, which are currently being considered by the government. PPP Center Executive Director Cosette V. Canilao said that over the next two to three years, the government could issue the long-term bonds and allow insurers purchase the bulk. The proceeds will be used to finance projects. Ms. Canilao also urged investment banks to arrange infrastructure project bonds. “Local banks will commonly lend for 12-15 years, so there will be refinancing risks for the project proponents. Investment banks should tap insurers to make sure there are no refinancing risks. On the fifth or seventh year of a

project when cash flows stabilize, they can issue project bonds,” she said. Antonio G. de Rosas, president and chief executive of Pru Life UK -- the country’s second-largest insurer with P15.59 billion in premium income last year -- said investment banks could arrange and underwrite the bonds and then invite insurers to the primary offer. Until then, insurers are working by themselves to meet project proponents and offer their funding. “Here there appears to be no interest” in bringing the two parties together, Ms. Mantaring said. “Perhaps the government can help by more actively working with insurance companies when projects are bid out to put them together with interested bidders,” she added. Ms. Canilao offered: “We have held infrastructure summits. We are also thinking of holding some sort of networking and business-matching event. We will keep in mind the Insurance Commission and insurers.” Mr. de Rosas was more optimistic, saying: “As more and more projects are approved, credit arrangers will get around to requesting funding requirements not only from banks but also from insurance companies.”‐PPP‐players‐ sought‐by‐gov%E2%80%99t&id=76925             

Posted on September 24, 2013 12:07:10 AM

First Gen considering bond offer LOPEZ-LED First Gen Corp. is preparing for a possible dollar bond offering, yesterday announcing that it was looking to arrange a series of fixed-income investor meetings. The company, in a disclosure, said it had “mandated Deutsche Bank, HSBC and J.P. Morgan to arrange ... meetings in Manila, Hong Kong and Singapore.” “A Regulation S US dollar bond offering may follow, subject to market conditions,” it added. Further details were not immediately available from company officials. First Gen in May said it was planning to tap the debt market to fund the second phase of its San Gabriel natural gas power project in Batangas. The company said it was considering all possible fund raising options, including syndicated loans and issuance of dollar or peso bonds. The San Gabriel project involves a facility with total capacity of 1,300 megawatts, to be constructed in three phases beginning this year. It is expected to cost around $1.4 billion and the start of commercial operations has been targeted for 2018. First Gen is the holding company for Lopez Group’s power generation businesses. It owns and operates several power plants with a total installed capacity of 2,763 MW.First Gen saw its net income sink by 30.65% to $116.042 million in the first half from $167.320 million in the same period last year. Its shares closed six centavos or 0.36% down to P16.82 apiece yesterday. -C. A. M. C. Feliciano‐Gen‐considering‐ bond‐offer&id=76923 

Posted on September 23, 2013 10:22:24 PM

BSP readies investigation

BANKS cited in legislative hearings and cases on dealings by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles will be investigated for possible violation of the know-your-customer (KYC) rules of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), a central bank official told reporters over the weekend.  

Ms. Napoles faces charges of plunder, malversation as well as graft and corrupt practices before the Ombudsman for alleged diversion of Priority Development Assistance Funds to bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs), and has been charged in court separately for serious illegal detention of key state whistleblower Benhur K. Luy. “It is too early too say if banks have failed in the KYC rule, but we will look into that…They will be investigated,” Mel Georgie B. Racela, BSP deputy director and head of the anti-money laundering specialist group, said in a briefing in Pasay City when asked if the BSP will look into banks named by Mr. Luy during the Senate hearing two weeks ago. Under the central bank’s KYC rule, bank transactions worth P500,000 and above must be reported to the Anti-money Laundering Council, including transactions in checks, fund transfers and/or the debiting or crediting of accounts. Mr. Luy, during a Senate hearing, revealed that Ms. Luy was able to withdraw millions in one day. BSP Deputy Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. clarified that there “no single entity is being targeted” by the central bank. “We are not singling out anyone, but we are monitoring information that is coming out of the public hearing, which will serve as the guide for the BSP for looking in further at non-compliant entities,” he said.

Last month, the appellate court issued a freeze order on the bank accounts of Ms. Napoles and of her family members, staff and NGOs linked to her. The freeze order -- in place for six months -- covered 415 accounts, which include 344 bank accounts, 66 insurance policies and five others. Ms. Napoles was arraigned at the Makati regional trial court branch 150 yesterday for the alleged serious illegal detention of Mr. Luy. -- Ann Rozainne R. Gregorio‐readies‐ investigation&id=76889                                 

Posted on September 23, 2013 10:20:37 PM

Peso slides with much of Southeast Asia  

SINGAPORE -- The Indonesian rupiah led slides among Southeast Asian currencies on Monday on renewed worries that the Federal Reserve will soon cut its stimulus, while the South Korean won and the Taiwan dollar rose on a strong China factory survey.  

The rupiah lost as much as 1.4% to 11,500 per dollar -- near the 11,520 level hit on Sept. 12, which was the weakest since April 2009. Dollar demand from local companies for month-end payments put pressure on the rupiah, and traders said they spotted the central bank providing dollars. The peso ended trading yesterday at P43.265 to the dollar, 21 centavos weaker than its P43.055-to-the-dollar finish on Friday last week. The Philippine currency opened the day 9.5 centavos weaker at P43.15 and traded within a P43.090-P43.285 band, compared to Friday’s P43.030P43.185 range. Dollars traded dropped to $672.700 million yesterday from $1.095 billion on Friday. One trader said he expected the peso to trade within an even weaker P43.20-P43.40 band today. The Malaysian ringgit fell on stop-loss selling especially after it weakened past 3.1800 per dollar, traders said. But the South Korean won and the Taiwan dollar hit multi-month highs as growth in China’s factory sector accelerated to a six-month high in September, a preliminary survey showed, adding to signs of a tentative turnaround in the world’s second-largest economy.

The won rose as much as 1.0% to 1,073.7 per dollar, its strongest since Jan. 25, on sustained stock inflows and exporters’ demand for month-end settlements. The Taiwan dollar also advanced, up to 0.8% to 29.505 against the US currency, its strongest since May 10 on demand from foreign financial institutions and exporters. Still, upside in those currencies was limited by intervention of foreign exchange authorities, traders said. -- main report by Reuters                            

Posted on September 23, 2013 10:46:15 PM

Wastewater service network widens AYALA-LED Manila Water Company, Inc. expects to finish construction of its P350-million wastewater project by June next year, the listed firm said in a statement yesterday.  

Manila Water is building 3.2 kilometers of sewer lines under its Marikina North Sewer Network Project. “The project, which costs P350 million, is set to benefit more than 400,000 residents of Marikina and San Mateo,” the firm said in its statement. “The project, which started last June 2013, is expected to be completed by June 2014.” Manila Water said wastewater that will be collected from households will be treated at the company’s 100-million-liters-per-day sewage treatment plant in Barangay Nangka, Marikina City. Manila Water is currently operating 37 sewage treatment plants with a total wastewater treatment capacity of 500 million liters per day. The utility provides water and wastewater services to the east zone concession area covering parts of Quezon City and Makati, southeastern parts of Manila, Taguig, Pateros, Marikina, Pasig, San Juan, Mandaluyong and parts of Rizal province. The firm has three subsidiaries that operate outside its concession area in the country, namely: Laguna AAA Water Corp., Boracay Island Water Company, Inc., and Clark Water Corp. -- CAMCF  

Posted on September 23, 2013 08:09:20 PM

Pope Francis warns the bishops   THE HEADLINE of the Philippine Daily Inquirer last Sunday blared, “Pope shakes up Catholics.” The article referred to the “revolutionary remarks” challenging the Catholic Church’s harsh obsession with divorce, gays, contraception, and abortion the Pope made in an interview with La Civilta Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit magazine. The interview, done in August, was published last week in Jesuit journals in 16 counties.

To Take A Stand Oscar P. Lagman

  Contrary to the impression that the article may have given many of the newspaper’s readers, Pope Francis has not spoken against Catholic Church doctrines. Referring to the issues of divorce, homosexuality, contraception, and abortion, Pope Francis said, “The teaching of the Church is clear and I am a son of the Church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time. The Church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the Church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.” That is the remark that would shake up the Catholic bishops in the Philippines for what they have been doing in recent years is transmitting obsessively a disjointed multitude of doctrines that they impose insistently, in the process threatening the fall of the moral edifice of the Church in the Philippines. “Contraception is corruption!” thundered Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas. Many bishops hailed those who opposed the Reproductive Health bill in Congress, even urging Catholics to vote for them if they were running for public office and to repudiate those who pushed for reproductive health. Many of those who voted against the RH bill in the Senate are now accused of graft and corruption, which the CBCP (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines) of 1989 declared in its pastoral letter in July of that year as “a sin of the blackest hue that cries to heaven for vengeance.”

Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Ramon “Bong” Revilla, and Gregorio Honasan have been charged with plunder, graft, bribery, and malversation before the Office of the Ombudsman. Enrile, Estrada, and Revilla were accused by no less than Secretary of Justice Leila de Lima, Honasan by the anti-crime group Citizen Crime Watch (CCW). Senator Vicente Sotto is said to have misused his pork barrel to purchase garbage deodorizers for two municipalities of Rizal Province that claimed to have had no need for them. All five senators voted against the Reproductive Health bill. Strangely, the high-profile Church dignitary Villegas has not cried to heaven for vengeance on the five senators. He blames the nation instead. Said he gingerly, “The core problem is not just the shameless corruption of a growing number of greedy corrupt officials. The issue is the breakdown of our moral fiber as a Christian nation.” He did acknowledge that the “issue could also be the diminishing relevance and eroding credibility of moral shepherds.” I have been writing about the diminishing influence of the Church since 2007. In November of 2007 I wrote: “The Church leaders’ benign attitude towards highranking public officials ostensibly guilty of big-time graft and corruption and massive electoral fraud juxtaposed with the dire warnings to a city councilor endorsing an ordinance to formulate a population and reproductive health management policy can be expected to diminish the Catholic Church’s influence on her faithful when it comes to matters of morality.” I wrote in February of the following year: “The CBCP as a body had lost its influence on the faithful as it has evinced a confused appreciation of moral principles and ethical conduct. It says that gambling is pernicious to the well-being of the person and his family but at the same time allows some of the bishops to receive substantial financial support from PAGCOR. It says nothing of the possible conflicts of interest that stem from bishops receiving money envelopes over dinner in Malacañang from Palace functionaries. “The CBCP says it does not involve itself in government affairs yet at the instance of Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, Balanga Bishop Socrates Villegas whisked a vital witness to the Hello Garci Tapes to the bosom of the military.” My column in July of that year said: “Many archbishops and bishops, even cardinals, have given the Holy Eucharist to politicians and their partners who are in a situation of sin because they are living together without the blessings of the sacrament of matrimony. There is the supreme trapo and the woman generally regarded as his wife who are often shown in media being given communion at

special Masses. Both are still married to other persons as their past marriages have never been annulled by the Church. Then there is the Cardinal Vidal asking for special treatment -- air-conditioned and curtained quarters with toilet and bath -for Joseph Estrada, an official accused of plunder and a known philanderer. “How can the bishops preach holiness and be listened to and followed when they have been so meek and tolerant of high ranking public officials who have lied blatantly, cheated brazenly, and squandered taxpayers’ money wantonly. Many bishops lionize and receive monetary donations from those corrupt public officials.” The following month I wrote: “The bishops speak against the artificial methods of family planning because they are offensive to the sanctity of life. I wonder how Cardinal Rosales explains the sanctity of life to the dwellers under bridges and in shanties byesteros who abound in his archdiocese. “His discourse at the prayer rally at the University of Santo Tomas campus on July 25, 40th anniversary of the promulgation of the encyclical Humanae Vitae, was totally irrelevant. He spoke of the evil of abortion. But the various family planning bills that have been introduced in both houses of Congress do not include any provision that would legalize abortion. In fact they affirm that abortion is a crime and is penalized under the revised Penal Code. That attempt at deception detracted from the Cardinal’s standing, which has not been sterling in the first place given his seeming tolerance of malfeasance on the part of many in government. “In fact, the entire prayer rally was a fiasco. At the rally Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said that distribution of contraceptives was a form of selfishness. The attitude of ‘what is mine is mine absolutely and I can do with it as I wish’ or the belief that ‘my money entitles me to consume or control on my own terms as much as my money will buy’ is not permissible at all. That homily was more appropriate for an audience made up of the highest ranking officials of the present administration who have the attitude that they can spend taxpayers’ money as they please. “The presence of certain personalities robbed the rally of the aura of piety. Who is Manny Pacquiao to be telling people to follow the teachings of God? Has his marital life been in accordance to the commandments of God? Who is Lito Atienza to be speaking on moral issues? Has not his direct and deep involvement in the weird reception given Jun Lozada upon his return from Hong Kong and Atienza’s subsequent attempt to muddle matters at the Senate hearing raised serious questions about his adherence to moral principles? Who is Eduardo Zialcita to grace with his presence a rally around a moral issue? As representative of the First District of the City of Parañaque, he was given P5 million by Joc Joc Bolante to buy

fertilizer for use in his district. Residents of Parañaque have difficulty looking for the rice fields and farms in their city that could use the fertilizer.” In October of 2010 I wrote: “Now the Catholic bishops of the Philippines are considering calling for civil disobedience if President Aquino pushed for the distribution of artificial contraceptives to couples who want to use them. If indeed President Aquino is undermining the natural moral law by promoting artificial family planning method, then Cardinal Rosales should excommunicate him and all those who belong to the archdiocese who use the artificial methods. But calling Catholics to violate the laws of the land smacks of misplaced spite unbecoming of Church dignitaries.” In July 2011, Bishop Nereo Odchimar, CBCP president, said, “Our Mother Church has been deeply wounded by the controversies in the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office that have erupted in the past two weeks.” I wrote in reaction to that pastoral statement that the Church has been wounded many times in the past because of her confused appreciation of moral principles and ethical conduct. If the Church does not strike a balance in its pastoral ministry, Pope Francis’ warning may become a reality in the Philippines.                      

Posted on September 23, 2013 08:08:13 PM

Bracing for the ASEAN economic



MANY Filipino business leaders and corporate managers seem to be visibly on edge about the impending implementation of the economic integration of ASEAN. No matter how one looks at it, the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 will truly be an event of historical significance, one which will drastically alter the way we do business and manage our economic and corporate affairs.

Map Insights Niceto S. Poblador

  What many businessmen fear most of all is that the crumbling of protective and regulatory walls that used to insulate them from their rivals elsewhere in the region will, in one fell swoop, expose them to unfettered competition which they fear they are illprepared to deal with. The forthcoming integration of the economies in the region into the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) was the subject of the recently concluded 11th MAP International CEO Conference. While the six speakers at this forum touched on wide-ranging topics, there was one dominant message that was common to all the presentations: While the formal creation of the AEC poses great challenges and difficulties and create new uncertainties for business organizations and countries in the region, it also opens up great opportunities for accelerated and sustained growth and profitability for all. AEC seeks to achieve the goal of economic prosperity for the region by creating a single market and production base, by enhancing the region’s competitive stance vis-a-vis the rest of the world, and by promoting equitable economic growth within the region. On balance, we believe that the potential benefits from AEC far outweigh the perceived problems and difficulties associated with it. In responding to the situation, business organizations should therefore focus their attention and devote their energies on the advantages that integration offers, rather than sulk over the problems and uncertainties that lie ahead.

In doing business with our counterparts in the other countries in the region and beyond, our main concern should be how to develop creative and innovative products and services to cater to the increasingly demanding needs of today’s consumers. Textbooks on strategic management tell us that to establish our competitive edge, we must develop the resources that enable us to produce those glitzy products, and the competencies to advantageously position ourselves in the market to gain customer loyalty. In today’s complex and fast-paced knowledge-driven world, value creation is the major aspect of strategy, and gaining market share is only of secondary importance. (Come up with a good product, and the customer will come to you -it’s as simple as that!) Moreover, value creation through product innovation and development no longer takes place within the narrow confines of a business enterprise but through extensive collaboration with other organizations, including those with whom we are potentially in competition. This goes to show that in today’s world of business, collaboration is the name of the game! (The term popularly used to describe this strategy is “coopetition,” short for “cooperative competition.”) In today’s economy, knowledge has become the most important economic resource, one moreover which is most easily transferable across corporate and national boundaries. It is the great equalizer of business opportunities, one that evens out the playing field. It is also resource that figures most prominently in collaborative strategies. It is our belief that thriving in the emerging regional economic community requires business strategies intended to develop the firm’s human capital, which includes not only knowledge and human skills, but also an organizational culture that nourishes mutual trust and collaboration -- intangible assets that are the main drivers of business success in the global economy. (The article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines. The author is a former Professor of Management in UP Mindanao. Feedback at For previous articles, visit‐for‐the‐ASEAN‐ economic‐integration&id=76873   

Posted on September 23, 2013 11:05:07 PM

Budget sought for PCMC debt THE DEPARTMENT of Health (DoH) proposes to settle the P1.1-billion rent owed by the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) to the National Housing Authority (NHA) through a budget allocation.  “A solution for this dispute would be for the national government to allocate a fund to pay NHA since the organization essentially does not recognize that the land should be given for free,” Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona said yesterday, during his agency’s budget hearing at the Senate. PCMC received a “firm order” from the NHA last week to pay P1.1 billion for its tenancy. The amount is not covered by the hospital’s budget. The NHA has already sold 2,500 square meters of the land occupied by PCMC to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), according to Dr. Jose Luis J. Danguilan, executive director of the Lung Center of the Philippines. The area sold to PIDS will be requested to be returned to PCMC after the funding is provided, Mr. Danguilan said. In a similar incident last year, the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), another specialty heath facility under the DoH, was told to purchase the land it sits on, which is part of the NHA-owned National Government Center. The situation was resolved through a P1.6-billion subsidy to NKTI from the unreleased portion of the DoH budget. The NHA will use the payments to fund its socialized housing projects. “We will go through the same process as NKTI in negotiating with NHA,” Mr. Ona said.

Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Director Christina B. Clasara, at the same hearing, stated that the agency has already passed the 2014 budget to Congress without an allocation for PCMC. Ms. Clasara said that the DoH budget may once again be tapped for funds, but only if these are available. When asked to clarify the source of funding in an ambush interview after the hearing, Mr. Ona replied that it is up to the DBM and the Department of Finance to decide. In light of PCMC’s problem, a resolution urging Malacañang to authorize the donation of the land and place its possession in PCMC’s name was filed at the House of Representatives on Sept. 18. Senator Jose Benigno “Bam” A. Aquino IV of the finance committee has also filed a resolution asking the concerned agencies to collaborate and settle the issue of land ownership. -- CENP‐sought‐for‐PCMC‐ debt&id=76900                       

Ombudsman pork raps review puts damper on Senate probe Written by Benjamin B. Pulta and Angie M. Rosales

Tuesday, 24 September 2013 08:00

The charges filed by the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) with the Ombudsman related to the alleged P10 billion pork barrel scam complicated matters for the Senate blue ribbon committee in obtaining testimonies from key figures and witnesses involved in the anomaly as the subpoenae committee chairman Teofisto Guingona III wanted to issue on Janet Lim-Napoles for her apperance had to go through a circuitous route before reaching Napoles herself. The Department of Justice (DoJ) also expressed misgivings in supplying the probe with whistleblowers under state witness protection. Raising the danger of their public testimony affecting the evaluation of evidence, the Department of Justice (DoJ) said it is withholding some of the whistleblowers under state witness protection from the Senate blue committee which will also hold a hearing on the pork barrel scam today. After a self-serving parade to drum up public awareness on what is perceived as a crackdown on members of the opposition, Justice secretary Leila de Lima now says she has serious misgivings about allowing key figures in the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam take the witness stand at the Senate probe.

Citing doubts about the legality of allowing a public evaluation of its witnesses, De Lima formally informed the Senate yesterday that a public testimony for some of the key witnesses would be “detrimental to a just and fair evaluation of the evidence” now in the hands of government prosecutors. “The appearance of Ms. Napoles in the blue ribbon hearing is important to our investigation as the Filipinos are looking for answers that may shed light to some issues at hand,” Guingona, however, said. The serving of the subpoena had been effectively put on hold by Senate President Franklin Drilon, who, under the rules of procedure governing inquiries in aid of legislation should affix his signature for approval to allow the upper chamber process servers to deliver the said order to Napoles. Drilon, it was gathered, opted to route Guingona’s “request” for his approval on the issuance of “subpoena duces tecum and subpoena ad testificandum” first to the Office of the Ombudsman, requesting Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales’ comment before issuing the proposed subpoena to Napoles. Drilon, in seeking first the recommendation of Senate Secretary Oscar Yabes on the “proper course of action to take respecting the proposed subpoena on Napoles within the soonest possible time,” cited the issue of the latter being one of the principal accused in the plunder charges filed by the Department of Justice (DoJ) before the Ombudsman concerning the so-called Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam. Under the Senate rules governing the conduct of public hearings, the committee has the power to summon the witnesses and take their testimony and to issue subpoena and subpoena duces tecum signed by its chairman or in his absence, the acting chairman and approved by the Senate president. Such process shall be served by the Senate sergeant-at-arms or his assistant, the rules said. Failure to heed subpoenas issued by any Senate committees would earn the subject person contempt charges. Senate rules also require the consensus or approval of “majority” of committee members, which in this case, is lacking, as Guingona neither consulted nor sought the approval of his colleagues sitting in the blue ribbon panel, sources said. Likewise, the Senate president need not have to seek the position of Morales based on precedents in the past, such as the time when the blue ribbon did not have to compel former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) comptroller Major Gen. Carlos Garcia in appearing before them during their investigation in 2011 into the plea bargaining agreement with the Ombudsman as the latter was merely issued invitation, sources pointed out. Garcia was also facing plunder charges, just like Napoles.

“Oscar G. Yabes, the Secretary of the Senate, to whom we have referred the matter, recommended that the Office of the Senate President request the comment from your office where the case is pending. Enclosed is a copy of the aforementoned recommendation,” said Drilon in his letter to Morales dated yesterday. Yabes, in his letter-memorandum to Drilon, noted section 15(1) of R.A. 6770 also known as the Ombudsman Act of 1989, saying that the Office of the Ombudsman “has the primary jurisdiction over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan and in the exercise of this primary jurisdiction, it may take over, at any stage, from any investigatory agency xxx the investigation of such cases.” Also, the same provision underscores the fact that the said body has the following powers, functions and duties: “publicize matters covered by its investigation...when circumstances so warrant and with due prudence, provided that the Ombudsman under its rules and regulations may determine what cases may not be made public... “I referred it to the Ombudsman upon the advice of Secretary Yabes because there is already a case pending in the Ombudsman. So, we sought the advice of the Ombudsman given the fact that under their law, publicity is to be avoided or prohibited where in her judgment, it can prejudice the case,” Drilon said in an interview with reporters. “The law says, the Senate secretary advised me on this, …pending final action, no publicity shall be made of matters which may prejudice the safety of the witnesses or the disposition of the case or unduly expose persons complained against to ridicule or public sensor.’ This is the Ombudsman law. So, I asked for her comment on the request for a subpoena. Benjamin B. Pulta, Pat C. Santos, Gina Peralta-Elorde            

Palace ‘selective’ in giving out aid; heavy rains leave 18 dead Written by Tribune Tuesday, 24 September 2013 08:00  

While the extent of the damage brought by Typhoon “Odette” in Batanes is yet to be assessed, aid immediately came to the province of President Aquino’s key ally, leaving other areas affected by floods and landslides crying for help. Batanes is the province of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Presidential Management Staff (PMS) Secretary Julia Abad. Monsoon rains worsened by the typhoon pounded the country for the third day yesterday, causing floods and landslides that left 24 persons dead and others stranded on rooftops, officials said. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told a media briefing that a C-130 plane carrying Batanes Rep. Dina Abad flew to the province to bring basic relief goods. “She brought relief goods to Batanes and NEA (National Electric Administration) personnel are there to restore power in Batanes. Some telcos have also sent some personnel there to provide charging stations,” he said. The Palace official also urged the public to send in their donations for victims of the typhoon in the country’s northernmost province. Batanes was placed under storm signal warning No. 4 over the weekend. But in Zambales, where the province of Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane has experienced massive flooding and landslides and deaths, support from Malacañang could be far away. The mayor of Subic town, Jay Khonghun, where the majority of victims died, said the heavy rains and chest-deep floods had isolated the town of 160,000. He added 15 bodies were dug out in two landslide-hit villages in Subic. Army and police officials said five persons also died in landslides in the Zambales towns of San Marcelino and Castillejos. Although many people were rescued, about a hundred remained trapped on their rooftops by the rising waters, he said. Khonghun said four rivers that pass through Subic were heavily silted and had overflowed, causing the floods. He called on the Aquino government to come to the

town’s aid. “We are appealing for rescuers, equipment, diggers, we need relief goods. We need help from the national government, please send in inflatable boats,” he said. Lacierda said he had seen the message of the mayor from the Twitter account. “We’ve seen that on the Twitter of the mayor,” he added. “Yes and the NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Council) has already been informed about the situation, so we’ll let you know on what the actions of the NDRRMC,” Lacierda stressed. Khonghun said it was the first time that they have experienced flooding in Subic. He noted that had not the dredging operation of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) stopped, there would be no flooding in the town. But the order to stop the operation came from President Aquino himself, the mayor said. “We will confirm with DPWH Secretary (Rogelio) Singson if there was such a thing and if that was really the reason of the flooding in Subic. “It’s a common fact that orange advisory. So it will be occurring for the next three hours but we will get you the information from Secretary Singson,” Lacierda said. In Olongapo City, local officials put up ropes across flooded streets so people could hold on to them to keep from being swept away by strong currents, eyewitnesses said. Olongapo City Mayor Rolen Paulino asked US ambassador Harry Thomas to send some of the US Marines now in the country for joint war games, to help in relief efforts, his spokesman said. About 2,300 US and Philippine marines are taking part in three-week long joint exercises, many of them to be conducted in Zambales. Mario J. Mallari, Gina P. Elorde, Efren Chavez and AFP‐palace‐selective‐in‐giving‐out‐ aid‐heavy‐rains‐leave‐18‐dead         

Gov’t urged to probe report MNLF got funds from PDAF scammers Written by Gerry Baldo Tuesday, 24 September 2013 08:00   Lawmakers from the partylist Magdalo yesterday urged the government to investigate reports that the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) received funds from lawmakers involved in the pork barrel scam. According to Reps. Francisco Ashley Acedillo and Gary Alejano, there is a big possibility that the siege in Zamboanga was funded by people involved in the scam. He said that both the opposition and the administration lawmakers should be included in the probe. “There is a big possibility that the funds from those involved in the scam reached the MNLF,” Alejano said yesterday at a press conference at the House Media Center yesterday. Alejano, however, said that their group, the Magdalo, is still trying to confirm the reports from their “contacts.” “We received report that there’s money behind that siege. And I actually asked Secretary (Ging) Deles this morning for them to look into the reports,” Alejano said. The Magdalo lawmaker noted that statements coming from those who surrendered show that they were promised P10,000 each for joining the attack on Zamboanga and that there are also information about funding that could likely be coming from the pork barrel issue. Alejano and Acedillo, who both served in the Navy until they figured in a rebellion case in protest over alleged corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said that the government should improve its intelligence work and preclude all future incidents such as the Zamboanga siege. Alejano noted that during the previous Arroyo administration, a big issue against the government would most likely be diverted to another incident. He said that he would like to believe that the Zamboanga issue is being used to divert public attention from the PDAF issue. “I’d like to believe,” Alejano said even as he explained that the original plan by the MNLF was to stage a peace rally and that the “interested parties” saw the opportunity to take advantage of the situation. Acedillo claimed that before the Zamboanga siege was initiated there were negotiations among and between the MNLF commanders which other MNLF commanders were not privy to.‐gov‐t‐urged‐to‐probe‐report‐ mnlf‐got‐funds‐from‐pdaf‐scammers 

Senado ‘no’ sa special court (Dindo Matining) Hindi na umano kailangan pang magbuo ng isang “special court” na siyang lilitis sa mga inaakusahan sa P10 billion pork barrel fund scam. Ayon kay Senador Grace Poe, malaki umano ang tiwala ng taumbayan sa Ombudsman kaya’t hindi na dapat pang magbuo ng isang korte para lang sa naturang kaso. “Sa tingin ko hindi na kailangan sa ngayon. Malaki ang tiwala ng marami sa pamumuno ni Ombudsman Morales,” ani Poe sa kanyang text message. “Dapat din na maging mapagmasid ang media at taumbayan para tutukan din ang Sandiganbayan,” dagdag pa nito. “Hindi na kailangan,” giit naman ni Senador Antonio Trillanes IV. Si Senador Joseph Victor Ejercito ay nagsabing mas mabuting sa isang regular court na lang litisin ang kaso para hindi ito mapagdudahan ng publiko. “Kapag special court base sa kasaysayan ay parang designed to convict, parang ginawa kay Ninoy Aquino at Erap. Mas mabuti na regular court lang para wala nang perception na may disenyo,” ani Ejercito. Sabi naman ni Senador Bam Aquino, “Bigyan natin ng sapat na pagkakataon ang mga pangkasalukuyang sistema ng hustisya upang malutas ang isyu ng pork barrel scam.”‐kdKBlRI       

Waterworld uli sa Metro Manila (Amihan Sabillo/Armida Rico/Jojo Perez/Eralyn Prado) Dahil sa magdamag na pagbuhos ng malakas na ulan nitong Linggo ng gabi hanggang Lunes ng umaga, maraming bahagi ng Metro Manila at National Capital Region (NCR) na naman ang nalubog sa baha na nagmistulang ‘waterworld’ dulot pa rin ng habagat. Bunsod nito, kinansela ang klase sa lahat ng antas sa Metro Manila at maging sa mga kalapit na lalawigan na apektado ng pagbaha. Sa tala na ipinalabas ng National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), nagsimula ang pagbuhos ng ulan dakong alas-sais kamakalawa sa Kalakhang Maynila. Ilan lamang sa mga binahang area sa NCR ay ang SM Sucat northbound, AranetaQuezon Avenue northbound, Sentosia-Hotel southbound, Ma. Clara, C3 A. Bonifacio, Sentosia-coastal northbound, MIA Coastal northbound, RMB Pureza, España BlumentrittLacson westbound, Bonifacio Monument Circle, at España Antipolo. Bukod sa Metro Manila, makakaranas din ang Zambales at Bataan ng mga malalakas na pag-ulan. Ang Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga, at iba pang portion ng Laguna, Quezon, Cavite at Occidental Mindoro ay patuloy pa rin umano na makakaranas ng bahagyang mga pag-ulan hanggang ngayong araw. Sa naitalang mga pagbabaha ng Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) at ng iba’t ibang ahensya at lokal na pamahalaan, umabot nang hanggang dibdib ang baha sa ilang lugar. Umabot sa 22 pamilya ang inilikas sa Bgy. 179 na nakatira sa gilid ng estero. Lagpastuhod rin ang baha sa EDSA-Taft Avenue at MIA Road-Coastal Road. Habang sa lungsod ng Parañaque, umabot ng hanggang binti ang baha sa Baclaran, habang lagpas-tuhod ang tubig-baha sa tapat ng SM Sucat. Samantala, umabot sa 45 pamilya naman ang inilikas sa Quezon City. Kaugnay nito, sinuspende ni MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino ang number coding kahapon.‐mNKBlRI 

P40M pondo sa MNLF attack, pantakip sa ‘pork’ scam Ni Bernard Taguinod

Pinondohan umano ng isang kilalang tao sa lipunan ang pag-atake ng Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) ng 40 milyong piso sa Zamboanga City noong Setyembre 9, para takpan ang isyu sa pork barrel scam. Ito ang isiniwalat ni Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano kahapon sa isang ambush interview kaugnay ng kanilang nakuhang impormasyon sa Zamboanga attack na kinasasangkutan ng grupo ni Nur Misuari. “We received report na merong pera sa likod niyan. And I actually ask Secretary (Ging) Deles this morning na dapat tingnan nila iyon dahil sa mga nag-surrender they were promised P10,000 na sumama roon and aside from that I also received information na merong 40 million of pesos sa likod na iyan,” pahayag ni Alejano sa mga mamahayag sa Kamara. Si Deles na Presidential adviser on the Peace Process ay nasa Kamara kahapon para sa deliberasyon sa pondo ng kanyang tanggapan sa susunod na taon. Ayon kay Alejano, ang unang plano umano ng MNLF ay magsagawa lamang ng kilos protesta tulad ng kanilang ginawa sa Davao City subalit ginamit ito ng ‘interested party’ para magkaroon ng diversion sa isyu ng pork barrel. “Most likely ay nanggaling doon, makokonek natin sa pork barrel issue. I’d like to believe. Kasi ang orihinal na plano riyan sa Zamboanga sa pagkakaalam ko ay peace rally just like what they did in Davao City. Just so happened na siguro iyong mga interested parties nakita ito na pwedeng avenue for diversion,” ani Alejano.‐pdKBlR   

ULAT PANAHON: Luzon, Visayas uulanin pa rin Patuloy na magdadala ng pag-ulan ang southwest monsoon o habagat sa malaking bahagi ng southern Luzon at Visayas region, ayon sa pinakahuling ulat ng Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). Makakaranas ang Metro Manila, Central Luzon at ang Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal at Quezon (CALABARZON) ng maulap na papawirin na may katamtaman hanggang sa kung minsan ay malalakas na pag-ulan, pagkulog at pagkidlat na maaaring magdulot ng mga pagbaha at pagguho ng lupa. Habang ang Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon at Palawan (MIMAROPA) ay makakaranas ng maulap na kalangitan na may mahina hanggang sa katamtamang pag-ulan na may kasamang pagkulog at pagkidlat. Ang hilagang Luzon, Kabisayaan at Mindanao ay magiging bahagyang maulap hanggang sa maulap na may pulu-pulong pag-ulan, pagkulog at pagkidlat.‐q9KBlRI                 

‘Bomba’ nina Jinggoy at Bong inaabangan na (Bernard Taguinod) Inaabangan sa Mababang Kapulungan ng Kongreso ang “pasabog” nina Sens. Jinggoy Estrada at Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr. sa pork scam kung saan una silang nadawit sa operasyon ni Janet Lim-Napoles. Ito ang inamin ng ilang mambabatas sa Kamara, hindi lamang sa hanay ng oposisyon kundi maging sa mga mismong kaalyado ng administrasyon ni Pangulong Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III. “Inaantay din namin dahil baka mayroon pang ibang isyu na hindi pa natin nalalaman at sila (Revilla at Estrada) pa lamang ang nakakaalam,” pahayag ni Kabataan partylist Rep. Terry Ridon. Ayon sa mambabatas, isa sa mga inaasahan nila na pasabog nina Revilla at Estrada ay na mayroong mga kaalyado rin si Pangulong Aquino, hindi lamang sa Senado kundi sa Kongreso, na sangkot din sa pork barrel scam. “Malalaman natin kung mayroon pang mga sasabit na nasa bakuran ni PNoy. Hindi lang kasi dapat tumigil ang imbestigasyon sa oposisyon sa pork barrel scam, kailangang lahatin at kung mayroong sabit sa administrasyon, kailangan natin din malaman,” ayon pa kay Ridon. Maging si Akbayan partylist Rep. Walden Bello na isa sa mga kaalyado ng administrasyon sa Kamara, inilarawan nito bilang “interesting” ang gagawing pasabog nina Revilla at Estrada.     

DA chief chided Published : Tuesday, September 24, 2013 00:00 Written by : Paul Gutierrez

A LEADING member of the Independent Bloc in the Lower House called on Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to act on the department’s own claim that rice cartels and rice smugglers are behind the steady and unrelenting increases in rice prices before its retail cost put it beyond the reach of ordinary consumers. “Currently the increases in rice prices have outpaced increases in previous years; it has even outpaced the speed of the DA’s ‘investigation’ of the parties supposedly involved in hoarding,” said Abakada Party-list Rep. Jonathan De La Cruz. “Secretary Alcala has repeatedly issued statements in the media that he will file cases against those supposedly involved in rice hoarding and economic sabotage, but these have not prevented the increases in the prices of rice,” De La Cruz lamented. “Hindi nakakain ang statements. “Hindi ito makakatulong sa pagbaba ng presyo ng bigas. Baka yung kababayan natin, sa kawalan ng bigas, dyaryo na lang ang nginunguya,” the legislator chided. Rice prices are at their highest in three years. According to the data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) website,, the average retail price of regular milled rice in the second week of September was P36.1 per kilo, which is P3.7 higher for roughly the same period a year ago and P4.7 more than what consumers paid for in 2011. De La Cruz said that the DA’s assurances regarding the country’s rice supply have not been felt in the marketplace, where consumers still complain of high rice prices. “I for one would like to believe that all is well, that we have an ample supply of rice and that we will be rice self-sufficient this year,” the lawmaker said. “Pero kung nakita mo ang mataas na presyo ng bigas sa palengke, pagnakita mo sa datos sa mismong website ng BAS na tumataas ang presyo

ng bigas, ano ang paniniwalaan mo, ang press release o ang ebidensya?” De La Cruz stressed. DATA DISPARITY The legislator added that Alcala’s optimistic projections and analysis of the country’s rice situation may stem from the latter’s commitment to the President in 2010 to make the country rice-sufficient by the end of the year “Naiintindihan ko kung ayaw nIya mapahiya. But more than just his pride that is at stake here; it’s the welfare of our people,” the lawmaker added. “So the disturbing trend,” De La Cruz warned, “has been for the DA Secretary to bloat his numbers. He is a far more optimistic man than the head of his very own statistics bureau.” The party-list representative pointed out that “while the projections of the BAS says that 2013 palay production will only hit 18.45 million MT, Secretary Alcala has boasted that the country’s output this year will be 20 million MT.” De La Cruz hoped that the DA will reconcile its projections and data so that Congress and the public will have a clearer picture of the country’s rice situation. “Without the right data, we will not be able to take the steps necessary to ensure the country’s food security. “This includes deciding on whether we should import more or less rice. The sooner we know what the real score is, the sooner we can act,” he stressed.‐stories/58698‐da‐chief‐chided           

Parts of NCR flooded due to Habagat, classes suspended   Published : Tuesday, September 24, 2013 00:00 Written by : Zaida delos Reyes-Palanca

CLASSES in all levels in Metro Manila were suspended because of floodings brought by Habagat rains. An update issued by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said heavy rains were continue since Sunday evening and as of 6 a.m. yesterday, several areas in Metro Manila were submerged under floodwaters. Among the flooded areas were SM Sucat north bound; AranetaQuezon Avenues north bound, Sentosia Hotel south bound, Ma. Clara, C3 A. Bonifacio, Sentosia-Coastal north bound, MIA coastal north bound, RMB Pureza, España Blumenttrit-Lacson west bound, Bonifacio Monument Circle, and España- Antipolo. According to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Metro Manila as well as some Luzon provinces will experience heavy to intense rains due to Habagat, so they issued the orange rainfall warning. The orange rainfall advisory, the second in its three-stage rainfall warning system, is raised in areas where rainfall is between 15mm and 30mm within one hour. Flooding is a definite threat in communities under the orange alert. Aside from Metro Manila, Zambales and Bataan also experienced heavy to intense rains.

Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga, some portions of Laguna, Quezon, Cavite and Occidental Mindoro experienced moderate to heavy rains. PAGASA issued an orange rainfall advisory over Metro Manila, warning that rains due to the southwest monsoon will affect southern Luzon and Visayas. PAGASA also issued gale warning as strong to gale-force winds associated with the southwest monsoon enhanced by Typhoon Odette might affect northern and western Luzon seaboards. In Muntinlupa, Habagat caused the Laguna de Bay to overspill to low-laying areas, forcing 221 families to evacuate to areas provided by Mayor Jaime R. Fresnedi. Per monitoring of the DSWD, the following areas were affected, some knee to waistline deep, including Sitio Aplaya, Purok 1 Tarikan, Hacienda Rosario, Purok 3 Lakeside, Sitio Rang-I, Purok 1 to 6 Bgy. Cupang, Wawa, Ilaya, 7A Extension, 7C, Karso, Davao, Sitio Anahaw, Joaquin Compound, Maria Tegue, 64 San Guillermo Putatan, Vibora Compound, Pantalan Espeleta, Rizal Aplaya, Buendia Compound, Isla Verde, ESC Compound, Purok 2 to 4, Bgy. Tunasan, Levis’ Compound. In addition to relief goods, Fresnedi will also provide 31,320 coco lumber to be used as temporary bridge to the affected families. With Jun I. Legaspi

CCTV helps solve ‘Kae’ case   Published : Tuesday, September 24, 2013 00:00 Written by : Alfred Dalizon

WITH the aid of CCTV recordings and useful tips from informants, the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation have literally solved the gruesome case of murdered 25-year-old advertising executive Kristelle “Kae” Davantes who was executed since she had recognized the suspects. The suspects are believed to be members of a small-time robbery group who ‘just do it kicks’ until they decided to kill Davantes on that fateful morning of Sept. 7 after realizing that if they would leave her alive, she would go to the police and report their identities and their getaway car. The Davantes case also prompted anew the PNP to renew its advisory on the public, particularly drivers of vehicles entering their house to be watchful of their surroundings since there will always be the possibility that criminals waiting for their targets would just hide in a corner and later attack their prey at gunpoint as soon as he open the gates or door of his house. The partnership between the PNP Special Investigation Task Group ‘Kae’ and the NBI led in the identification and arrest of three suspects in the case with at least three others, identified as Jomar Pepito, one alias ‘Joric’ and an alias’ Basher’ still being hunted, said NCRPO director Chief Supt. Marcelo P. Garbo Jr., who announced that one of the suspects surrendered after being bothered by his conscience while the second was caught in Muntinlupa City. All suspects are neighbors in Molino, Bacoor, Cavite.

Reggie “Jojo” Diel, 30, escaped when SITG ‘Kae’ operatives raided his hiding place but he later surrendered to the Las Piñas police after seeking the help of a priest. The second named Lloyd Enriquez,18, was arrested in Cupang, Muntinlupa City in the wake of NCRPO operations to get members of robbery-holdup syndicates who could have had a hand in the Davantes case, said SITG ‘Kae’ head Chief Supt. Christopher A. Laxa. The first suspect identified as 19-year-old Samuel Decimo was arrested last Friday by NBI agents after being involved in a robbery case in Cavite. The suspect and his cohorts are notorious for preying on jeepney passengers in Las Piñas and Bacoor City. As pieced out by investigators, the suspects snatched Davantes shortly after she alighted from her car (PIM-966) to open the gates of their family residence. The Davantes family resides in Moonwalk Village, Las Piñas City. Using a toy gun, three of the suspects surprised the victim, dragged her back inside her Toyota Altis and drove away. Two other suspects who were riding in a red Honda City (NYO-517) followed the car. Laxa said that based on CCTV footages reviewed by SITG ‘Kae’ investigators, the red Honda was identified and recovered on Saturday evening in Camella Homes, Pamplona 3. Decimo led the NBI and the police to the place which turned out to be owned by one Shiela Marie Villa, a woman whose only fault was to be too trusting on Pepito who happened to be their driver and errand boy. He said Villa’s red Honda City was shown on a CCTV recording of the Moonwalk Village entering the subdivision seven minutes

before Davantes arrived. Ten minutes later, Davantes’ car was seen leaving the subdivision anew followed closely by the red Honda. In the case of Villa, she told SITG ‘Kae’ investigators that Pepito works as their driver and errand boy. The woman said there were times that she had asked Pepito to driver her children to and from school but was unaware that he was using her car without her knowledge. She also said that she had moved out of the same house after its electricity was cut off. “Unknown to her, Pepito was using her car in his illegal activities,” Laxa said. During interrogation by the NBI, Decimo confessed that they decided to kill Davantes since she was struggling and fear they would identify them before the police. Decimo said the victim was strangled by the other suspects as she tried to put up a fight. He said his cohorts told him to stab Kae.              

‘Contempt of Court’, posibleng kaharapin ng pamunuan ng POC Posted by Online Balita on Sep 24th, 2013 // No Comment Ni Angie Oredo Nahaharap sa posibleng “Contempt of Court” ang pamunuan ng Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) na nagdeklara noon sa kontrobersiyal na Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA) president na si Go Teng Kok bilang isang “persona-non-grata.” Tangan ang desisyon mula sa Supreme Court Third Division, sinabi ni Go na nakahanda itong dumalo sa isasagawa na POC General Assembly ngayong Setyembre 28 bilang pagsunod sa kautusan ng korte na nararapat itong dumalo matapos balewalain ang naging deklarasyon ng POC dalawang taon na ang nakaraan. Sinabi ni Atty. Nicanor Sering, abogado ni Go, na sakaling hindi padaluhin at ibalik ang pagkilala sa athletics chief ay isa na itong lantarang paglabag sa kautusan ng pinakamataas na korte sa bansa na nagdesisyon noon na paborable kay Go at pagdismiss sa apela ng POC. Ayon kay POC Vice-president Jose Romasanta, wala pa naman silang natatanggap na anumang dokumento mula sa Supreme Court hinggil sa pag-uutos na pagbalik kay Go bilang miyembro ng POC general assembly at pagbawi sa deklarasyon dito bilang “persona-nongrata”. “Wala kaming natatanggap na anumang dokumento pa. Akala ko ba nagkausap na noon na babawiin na ang lahat ng kaso. Bakit ngayon meron naman siyang gusto na mangyari sa matagal nang kaso,” sabi ni Romasanta. Inilabas naman ng kampo ni Go ang naging desisyon ng Supreme Court noong Setyembre 26, 2012 at naging final and executory noong Hunyo 20, 2013 matapos na itala sa Book of Entries of Judgments ng Clerk Of Court at pirmado ni Corazon Delos Reyes na Deputy Clerk of Court & Chief, Juidicial Records Office. Nakasaad naman bilang petitioners sa kaso sina POC president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, dating POC Chairman Monico Puentevella at kasalukuyang Secretary General na si Stephen Hontiveros, et al. Matatandaan na nagsampa ng kaso sa korte si Go matapos itong patalsikin bilang miyembro ng POC general assembly dahil sa madalas nitong pagsasampa ng kaso sa kaganapan sa kaguluhan sa liderato ng Karatedo at pangyayari habang nalalapit ang eleksiyon ng pribadong organisasyon.‐of‐court‐posibleng‐kaharapin‐ng‐ pamunuan‐ng‐poc/#.UkEGN9KBlRI 

4 dam sa Luzon, nasa critical level Posted by Online Balita on Sep 24th, 2013 // No Comment Binabantayan ngayon ng Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) ang apat na dam sa Luzon dahil sa posibleng pagapaw ng mga ito dahil na rin sa patuloy na pag-ulan bunsod ng habagat. Ayon sa Hydrological and Meteorological Division ng PAGASA, kabilang sa kanilang sinusubaybayan ang Ipo Dam na ngayon ay nasa 100.06 meters at malapit nang umabot sa spilling level na 101 meters, Bustos Dam na malapit na ring umabot sa 17 meters na spilling level matapos maitala ang water level nito na 16.84 meters, Angat Dam na nasa 202.59 meters na malayo pa sa 210 meters na spilling level, habang ang La Mesa Dam sa Quezon City ay nasa 79.25 meters at posibleng umabot sa 80.16 meters na spilling level. Tiniyak naman ng PAGASA na aabisuhan nila ang mga residente na posibleng maapektuhan kapag nagpakawala ng tubig na ang nasabing mga water reservoir. Sinabi pa ng ahensiya na kapag hindi pa rin tumitigil ang ulan dulot ng habagat sa loob pa ng limang araw ay posible silang magpakawala ng tubig ang mga dam. – Rommel P. Tabbad‐dam‐sa‐luzon‐nasa‐critical‐level/#.UkEGOtKBlRI                               

PAGSISIMULA NG ANIHAN Posted by Online Balita on Sep 24th, 2013 // No Comment Anang isang linya ng sikat na kanta ng Bisaya noon: “Waray bugas, manigas”. Kung wala raw bigas ay maninigas na lamang tayo at totoo iyan. Dahil kung walang bigas ay wala tayong lalamunin, at kapag hindi tayo lumamon ay talagang maninigas tayo sa gutom. Hindi ba, P’re? Sa kasalukuyan, mukhang may palatandaan na maninigas nga tayo, P’re. Kasi, saksakan ng taas ngayon ng presyo ng bigas. Mismong sa Depertment of Agriculture o DA na rin nagmula P’re, ang pahayag na lamang na umabot sa 200 pesos ang iaakyat ng presyo ng bigas kada isang sako. Kaya mula sa dating 1,740 pesos ay aabot sa 1,940 pesos ang presyo ngayon, kaya ang pinakamurang bigas ay papalo na sa 36 pesos kada kilo. Iyan, P’re ang pinakamura, eH ang pinakamahal? Naglalaro daw ang itinaas bawat kilo nito mula 4.00 pesos hanggang 5.00 pesos. Anak ng mag-inang salaula, P’re, napakasakit! Isinisisi, P’re ng DA ang pagtaas nito sa kakulangan daw ng supply, meaning, mas marami ang kumakain kaysa kakainin. Pero sinasalungat mismo ang pahayag na ito ni DA Sec. Proseso Alcala gayong sila ang nagpahayag nito. Sapat daw ang supply ng bigas sa bansa kaya huwag daw mag-panic ang publiko. Kung sapat nga ang supply ng bigas ay bakit sumalipawpaw hanggang alapaap mismo ang presyo ng butil na ito? Sa mga probinsiya, P’re, ang mga maralita na dating bumibili ng kilukilo ay bumibili na lamang ngayon ng kala-kalahating kilo. Ang dating nagsisikain ng kanin ay nagtitiis na lamang ngayon sa lugaw at iyon ay dahil sa sobrang kamahalan ng bigas. Wala na raw dapat na ipangamba ang madlang pipol sabi pa ni Alcala dahil nagsisimula na ang anihan. Hindi raw naman masyadong naapektuhan ng mga pagbaha ang mga bukid o mga palayan kaya walang dahilan para magkulang tayo sa bigas. Dinedenggoy ba tayo ni Mr. Alcala, P’re? Kung totoong talaga ang mga ipinangangalandakan niya ay bakit biglang umakyat hanggang ulap ang presyo ng bigas? At bakit pati presyo ng bigas na NFA ay pumaimbulong? Answer me naman, Sec. Nagtatanong din si P’re.‐ng‐anihan/#.UkEGZdKBlRI           

2013 09 24 quedancor daily news monitor  
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