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DA, NFA urged to explain higher rice prices By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 28, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Loren Legarda called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Food Authority (NFA) yesterday to explain why rice prices have not yet dropped despite assurances from the two agencies that these would stabilize after the lean season. Legarda noted that the NFA even declared that its inventory of rice stock this year is greater than in 2012. She was referring to the statement of NFA administrator Orlan Calayag who said that the agency does not expect any shortage. “But I have yet to see the positive impact of this on rice prices,” said Legarda, who had earlier filed Senate Resolution No. 233 that paved the way for the Senate inquiry into the rice situation in the country. During the hearing, Legarda asked DA and NFA officials why the prices of rice were going up despite the buffer stock and lesser impact of climate change on the crop this year. Legarda cited reports from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), which revealed that the retail prices for regular milled and well-milled rice are almost P4 higher than last year. Regular milled rice cost P32.40 last year. “This year it costs P36.10. Well milled rice in 2012 was P35.60, today it costs P39.20,” she said.‐nfa‐urged‐explain‐higher‐rice‐prices               

DAR to distribute Luisita land titles starting next week By Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 28, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) will start distributing land titles to qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries in the 10 barangays of Hacienda Luisita next week. DAR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Anthony Parungao yesterday said the department would distribute the certified true copies of the Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) to farmworker-beneficiaries (FWBs) starting Sept. 30 up to the middle of October. As of Sept. 25, he said the CLOAs of about 5,800 FWBs who had signed and filed their Application to Purchase and Farmers Undertaking (APFU) were generated by the DAR and registered with the register of deeds. However, 296 FWBs have yet to claim their Lot Allocation Certificates (LACs), while 377 others have yet to sign and file their APFUs. Parungao said the DAR continues to seek out the FWBs who have yet to claim their LACs or file their APFUs. A good number of them are either working abroad or living outside of Tarlac, so they are unable to claim their LACs or file their APFUs. “Their CLOAs will be generated and registered as soon as they have signed their APFUs,� he said.

DA’s ‘classified’ list full of bogus NGOs By Gil C. Cabacungan Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:04 am | Saturday, September 28th, 2013 No wonder Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala had described as “classified” the list of accredited nongovernment organizations (NGOs) allowed to receive pork barrel funds for livelihood under the Department of Agriculture (DA). The list, it turned out, is riddled with fake foundations, three of them affiliated with detained businesswoman and alleged pork barrel scam brains Janet Lim-Napoles, with another NGO reportedly put up by a member of the so-called Quezon mafia, associates and kin from Alcala’s home province who have cornered juicy posts at the DA. “The existence of fake NGOs on the DA’s list clearly shows that Alcala maintained the corrupt structure inside the (agency),” said Antonio Flores, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) secretary general, of the list that the Inquirer had been requesting from Alcala’s office since July. The former Quezon representative, however, ignored the Inquirer request. The KMP official said the biggest irregularity on the list was the inclusion of Isa Akong Magsasaka Foundation Inc., an NGO controlled by Arnulfo Mañalac who, the KMP official claimed, served as Alcala’s administrator for the Sariaya Bagsakan Center in 2007. Flores said the Commission on Elections denied party-list accreditation to Mañalac’s NGO in the 2013 elections. “It is high-time to purge the DA (of) bogus NGOs and hold Alcala and his gang accountable for plunder,” Flores said, adding that “Alcala and his gang (should) step down, submit to an independent investigation, and be (held) accountable for plunder.” The KMP provided the Inquirer with the confidential NGO list as of Aug. 28 this year, which showed that the DA continued to endorse three Napoles NGOs as official recipients of agency funds, despite the public outrage over the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF, also known as pork barrel). The three foundations used by Napoles in the P10-billion pork barrel scam were identified as the Kabuhayan at Kalusugan Alay sa Masa Foundation Inc. (KKAMFI); Gabay at Pag-Asa ng Masa Foundation Inc. (GPMFI), and the Kaupdanan Para sa mga Mangunguma Foundation Inc. (KPMFI). The Commission on Audit (COA) special audit on the PDAF used from 2007 to 2009 showed that a total of P526.679 million was funneled to the KKAMFI, with the National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor), the Technology Resource Center, and the National Livelihood Development Corp. used as implementing agencies. The COA audit also showed that P108.15 million went to the GPMFI while the KPMFI obtained P83 million in pork funds from the DA last year.

Livelihood booklets Another NGO tagged in the COA report, Kasangga sa Magandang Bukas Foundation Inc. (KMBFI), was also on the DA list. KMBFI, which used up P56.551 million in pork funds for eight projects through Nabcor, was among the fake NGOs that used the overpriced and useless livelihood booklets printed by C.C. Barredo Publishing House that, according to reports, booked P541.72 million in sales to fake NGOs from 2007 to 2009. The other dubious NGOs on the list were identified as the Maharlikang Lipi Foundation Inc., Livedures Foundation Inc., and Kaakbay Buhay Foundation Inc. “Given the magnitude of the scam, the plunder would not have happened without the knowledge and consent of Alcala and his mafia,” Flores said. According to Flores, accrediting NGOs was the responsibility of DA Undersecretary for finance and administration Antonio Fleta, who was earlier criticized for signing a memorandum of agreement with local government units that funneled P100 million worth of DA funds to fake NGOs last year. Not suspended Fleta worked with assistant secretaries Ophelia Agawin, the accountant in the fertilizer scam, and Salvador Salacup, the former head of the ZNAC Rubber Estate Corp. Agawin and Salacup were among those charged with plunder and malversation in the Napoles scam, but both have yet to be suspended or asked to go on leave by Alcala. Aside from Fleta and Mañalac, Flores named the other members of the “Quezon mafia” as: DA Assistant Secretary Ed de Luna; Philippine Coconut Authority Administrator and Alcala legal consultant Euclides G. Forbes; Claro Maranan of the National Irrigation Administration; Alcala’s former congressional chief of staff and National Food Administrator Roland Calayag; Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources director Asis Perez; Bureau of Plant Industry director Lito Baron; Philippine Fishing Development Authority director Rodrigo Jimenez, and Agri Technical Insititute director Nicomedes Eleazar. A source said Fleta, De Luna, Forbes, Maranan and Mañalac are longtime associates of Alcala from his political bailiwick, Quezon, while Perez, Baron, Eleazar and Maranan are related to the DA chief by blood or affinity. Flores said Alcala had also endorsed his former congressional chief of staff, Claron R. Alcantara, as general manager of the Human Settlement Development Corp. In 2008, Alcantara and the former Quezon representative were charged in the Ombudsman for disbursing P3.5 million in pork barrel funds to a dubious NGO, the Alcantara family-run Sir Pelagio Alcantara Development (Spade) Foundation Inc.

Finally, land titles for Luisita workers by Chito A. Chavez September 27, 2013 Manila, Philippines – After years of waiting, the farm worker-beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita will finally receive their land titles. The Department of Agrarian Reforms (DAR) will start distributing the certified true copies of the Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) to the recipients in the 10 barangays of Hacienda Luisita starting Monday up to the middle of October. As of Sept. 25, DAR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Anthony Parungao said the CLOAs of about 5,800 qualified farm workers beneficiaries (FWBs) who had signed and filed their Application to Purchase and Farmers Undertaking (APFU) were already generated by DAR and registered with the Register of Deeds. Only 296 FWBs have yet to claim their Lot Allocation Certificates (LAC) while only 377 FWBs have yet to sign and file their APFUs as of Sept. 25. However, Parungao clarified that the DAR continues to seek out the FWBs who have yet to claim their LACs or file their APFUs. He noted that a good number of FWBs are either working abroad or living outside of Tarlac and were unable to claim their LACs or sign and file their APFUs.

Senate panel to grill Agriculture, NFA officials on rice supply September 27, 2013 10:07 pm  

CONGRESS may be on a two-week break but that isn’t stopping senators from looking into the alleged rice price manipulation that happened recently as well as the supposed failure of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Food Authority (NFA) to act on the problem. Agriculture and NFA officials are likely to be grilled once again when the Senate agriculture and food committee resumes it inquiry on Monday. The hearing is in consonance with Senate Resolution 233 filed by Sen. Loren Legarda, seeking an investigation on the actual state of rice supply. Legarda said the increase in the price of rice meant either a shortage in the market or someone was manipulating prices. At the last committee hearing, the panel instructed Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to come up with measures to stop the unabated increase in the price of rice. It was learned that the retail prices for regular-milled and well-milled rice are almost P4 higher than last year’s. The NFA meanwhile is claiming that the country has more than enough rice stocks. Based on the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), regular milled rice is P36.1 per kilo, higher than last year’s P32.4. Well milled rice in 2012 was P35.6 per kilo, lower than the current P39.2. “If you look at the trend last year, the retail prices of regular milled and well milled rice slightly peaked during the lean season, as expected, then normalized. This year, not only have the price hikes during the lean season been significantly higher, they have also failed to normalize at the expected time,” Legarda said. Edwin Paraluman of the Philippine Farmer’s Advisory Board based in General Santos City, said during the last hearing there was no rice shortage and the price increase was due to the speculation of traders. Paraluman explained that the price of rice usually goes up during the lean season from July to September, because it is the time when rice farmers start planting. The NFA also blamed the price rise on typhoons Labuyo and Mareng that hit major riceproducing provinces in Luzon.

But Legarda didn’t buy the explanation and insisted that the DA and NFA should have anticipated the destruction that will be brought by typhoons on rice stocks considering that typhoon and severe weather disturbance are regular occurrences in the country. “As the agency responsible for ensuring the stability of rice prices, it is incumbent upon the DA and NFA to anticipate the adverse effects of these weather disturbances on rice supplies and take the measures necessary to prevent these from negatively affecting rice prices,” Legarda said. Jefferson Antiporda‐panel‐to‐grill‐agriculture‐nfa‐officials‐on‐rice‐supply/40162/                                       

FMD and the strengthening of the Senate September 27, 2013 10:17 pm  



Efren Danao Senate President Franklin M. Drilon (FMD) said on Sept. 13 at the Kapihan sa Annabel’s: “Admittedly, this pork barrel scam has affected the Senate and the House. But I find this as an opportunity to enable to strengthen the institution afterwards. Yes, there may be a weakening of the institution, but I am confident we should be able to strengthen our democratic institution afterward.” Well said, Mr. Senate President. You spoke of a determination, of confidence on strengthening the democratic institution in the aftermath of one of the biggest scandals to ever hit the legislature and even the entire government. Note, I said “well said,” and not “well done.” Ten days after speaking at Annabel’s, FMD abjectly surrendered to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio the decision-making on whether or not the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee headed by Sen. TG Guingona should subpoena Janet Lim Napoles. This voluntary surrender by FMD of a major element of the Senate’s power of inquiry in aid of legislation was complicated by his statement that he agreed with Guingona that “nobody should undermine the mandate and power of the Blue Ribbon Committee, much less of the entire Senate.” Huh! Nobody should undermine the power of the Blue Ribbon but he would not sign the subpoena requested by Guingona because Ombudsman Carpio said ‘no?’ Now, my head’s on a whirl. The truth is, I’ve never seen a Senate so willing to clip its wings as this one under FMD. Oh well, he can’t be FMD for nothing! I reiterate, FMD stands for Franklin Magtunao Drilon. That he has the same initials as the dreaded Foot and Mouth Disease is merely coincidental, although I’ve heard many say that this has actually afflicted many politicians. I don’t see FMD (again, it’s Franklin M. Drilon) putting his foot on his mouth on the rejection of a subpoena for Napoles. He will swear to the supremacy of the rule of law over the power of the Senate. He can say her appearance before the Blue Ribbon could undermine her prosecution by the Ombudsman. He can cite hundreds of reasons why the Blue Ribbon can’t hear the testimony

of Napoles. However, I don’t expect him to ever say that his refusal to sign the subpoena was meant to prevent Napoles from telling the whole truth to the Senate panel. Napoles might be a nervous wreck right now, what with almost all her friends deserting her and who knows? She might bring down others with her. Why should she suffer alone and let those who had benefitted from her schemes go scot-free? Ano sila, sinusuwerte? Napoles could have been asked about claims that she helped facilitate the allocation of bigger pork of legislators who had voted for the RH bill and the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona. Until now, I still can’t believe that those who prosecuted and convicted CJ Corona held a higher moral ground. They convicted Corona for failing to file his statements of assets, liabilities and networth, but most of them had refused to reveal their own SALNs. Napoles could have been asked also about the Montblanc pens that she had gifted to some legislators, or about the claims of Benhur Luy on the alleged share of lawmakers from their pork. Worse, she could be asked if she had direct links to Malacanang. I remember an online interview with her daughter Jean who said that President Aquino and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas were like a family to them. I take my hats off to Senators TG Guingona, Koko Pimentel and Chiz Escudero for insisting that Napoles be summoned by the Senate. I wonder if they could muster enough votes to force FMD (again, it’s not Foot and Mouth Disease) to call a caucus on the issue. When FMD was elected Senate President on July 21, he vowed: “We must be a sensitive and responsive Senate, a Senate that feels the pulse of the people, a Senate that is tireless in pursuing reforms to propel our beloved country to greater economic, political and social heights.” With his refusal to sign the subpoena for Napoles to appear before the Blue Ribbon, where’s the Senate that feels the pulse of the people, the Senate that’s tireless in pursuing reforms? I don’t see that Senate under FMD’s leadership. Butch Abad’s denials on pork Budget Secretary Butch Abad said his office was not selective in giving documents to the Commission on Audit on the use of pork from 2007 to 2009. He said his office had difficulty getting the needed documents so they had to submit only what’s available. I guess it’s just the bad luck of three senators that only their papers were readily available to the DBM, if I were to believe him.‐and‐the‐strengthening‐of‐the‐senate/40172/     

Rubber, paper industries bare roadmaps to DTI September 27, 2013 8:45 pm  

by JAN ERICK C. TUTAAN The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), through its Board of Investments (BOI), on Thursday received the roadmaps for the domestic paper and rubber industries. “In the tradition of the TID [Trade and Industry Development Updates], we have lined up a series of stakeholder conferences of which this forum is the second, to provide you with updates and present the complexities in the sector and significant findings of each roadmap,” said Adrian Cristobal, DTI undersecretary and BOI managing head. University of the Philippines Institute for Small-Scale Studies Director Leoncio Cubillas presented the roadmap for the rubber industry, while Philippine Paper Manufacturers Association Inc. Director Ray Geganto presented the roadmap for the paper industry. The forum is the latest installment in the DTI and BOI’s TID Updates program and comes after the first one conducted last August 13, where roadmaps for the manufacturing, chemical and copper industries were presented. “At that forum, we discussed with stakeholders the objectives and principles governing the roadmapping project. This initiative is about knowing the past and current situation of industries and setting goals for the present and the future,” Cristobal said. Rubber industry The rubber industry roadmap “aims to propel its products to become key contributors to the country’s economic development.” The industry’s target is to upgrade their manufacturing capabilities and technical and market standards, which according to them will boost their links with local and export markets. “The ability to adjust to customer requirements, the technical capability to satisfy the needs of customers, the expertise and knowledge to manufacture many types of rubber products, and the capacity to meet and cater to market demand are the strengths of the rubber industry,” said Cubellas. “Its weaknesses, on the other hand, include the need to outsource tool and machine requirements, the difficulty of coming up with an effective marketing plan, and the weak capability to compete with foreign products,” he added. Aside from those, the industry is also facing a number of threats, like the smuggling of rubber products, especially tires from China. There is also the deficiency in rubber testing facilities, nonavailability of quality raw materials, unstable price of crumb rubber, and lack or even absence of government support.

But despite all these challenges and the industry being “small,” the rubber industry still sees many opportunities that may help it achieve its targets. The most notable is the country’s climate, which makes the Philippines an ideal place for planting rubber trees. Paper industry Meanwhile, the paper industry envisions itself to be able to serve all major pulp and papering requirements of the country come 2020. It also plans to develop high-value, high-quality products in the long term, to be competitive internationally, and to be environmentally sustainable. But before the paper industry achieves those goals, it has to overcome some big concerns like the lack of raw materials. According to Geganto, it is mostly wastepaper that is used in the production of paper products in the country, with a small percentage of all domestic paper products coming from fiber. “The quality of local wastepaper is so low while its price constantly is going up, so we really have to import. Another reason is how inadequate the country’s supply of wastepaper is,” said Geganto. Another problem of the industry is that most of the country’s paper mills are either too old or too small. Geganto said that small mills cost more to operate than big mills, and are much more difficult to maintain and upgrade. He said that while other countries can produce more than 1,000 tons of paper a day, the Philippines can produce around 60 to 100 tons. “Most of the paper mills in the country are set up either before the war or during the ’60s. That’s why it’s so difficult to compete with other countries, especially those with bigger and modernized mills,” Geganto said. But the industry still believes that the industry will realize all of its goals in the roadmap, and sees “exponential growth” in the coming years. Geganto said this is because the industry has identified the key drivers for growth for the pulp and paper industry. “Industries like food processing, electronics, furniture, all of these needs packaging, so there is definitely growth here,” he added. “We use paper when writing. We use it in health care and in the household. We use it in packaging. We may not notice it, but paper has become a permanent part of our lives,” Geganto said.

Sugar agency denies COA allegations on fund September 27, 2013 8:43 pm  

by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has denied irregularity in the release of the P24.8million antismuggling fund to the Sugar Masterplan Foundation Inc. (SMPFI), saying that the amount is part of private funds. “There’s nothing irregular on the release of the fund to SMPFI because the fund was voluntarily contributed by the sugar planters and millers, with the purpose of funding the activities of the SMPFI in apprehending the entry of smuggled sugar into the domestic market,” SRA Administrator Ma. Regina Bautista-Martin said on Friday. The Commission on Audit (COA) recently reported that from 2008 to 2012, the SRA released the amount to a nongovernment organization for antismuggling operations. Martin said sugar planters contributed the antismuggling fund after seeing that the government alone cannot prevent the entry of smuggled sugar into the country. She added that the only vehicle to invite more voluntary contributions from the stakeholders for the antismuggling efforts of the industry is through the SRA. “We are proud to say that SRA has earned the trust and confidence of the sugar industry stakeholders, which bonded us together in implementing relevant programs for the industry like the antismuggling initiative using the private sectors’ money,” she said. SRA has no police power and the only way to help the industry guard against the entry of illegal sugar is through the initiative of the private sector arm of the sugar industry. This initiative was implemented by SRA in partnership with the private sector to prepare the industry for the full integration under the Asean Economic Community (AEC) by 2015. Asean is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Martin reiterated that the SRA’s basic mandate is “to promote the growth and development of the sugar industry through greater and significant participation of the private sector,” thus, the use of the fund contributed by the private sector for the operations of the SMPFI for antismuggling was not illegal. The SRA chief also said that she understands that COA only sticks to its auditing rules and regulations, while SRA also sticks to its mandate under its charter. “Without the intimate partnership of SRA and the sugar industry stakeholders, the industry will not survive the ups and downs because no one else cares but us,” she lamented.

In reaction to the COA report published in a national newspaper, the leaders of the sugar industry in the Visayas expressed support to the SRA, saying that the sugar industry has voluntarily lined themselves up to fight against the unabated smuggling of the sweetener in the country. “I am thanking COA that they have this figures. Now, we are demanding government to refund us, the private sector, for doing what is supposedly their job. We want this money back and we want COA to justify this amount,” said Manuel Lamata, president of the United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines. Enrique Rojas, president of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters, said that the funds that SRA released were not government funds but private funds, which were voluntarily contributed by planters and millers to finance the industry’s antismuggling drive. “SRA was merely asked by the leaders of the sugar industry to collect the voluntary contribution of the planters and millers for the industry’s antismuggling program,” he added.

Fatal fish species haunts Cagayan waters September 27, 2013 2:36 pm  

by LEANDER C. DOMINGO BUGUEY, Cagayan: A deadly and poisonous fish species has caused alarm among fishing communities in northern Cagayan after claiming the life of a young girl in this coastal town. Fishery officials are referring to shadow goby, locally known as langen-langen or bunog, a fish species, which usually thrives in shallow coral reefs, mangrove swamps and seagrass meadows. Dr. Jovita Ayson, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) director for Region 2, has warned fishing communities owing to reports that a nine-year-old girl here has succumbed to poisoning after eating the fish earlier this week. Other members of the family who have partaken the fish were also reportedly hospitalized because of poisoning. ”To have an idea what the deadly fish looks like, we have already posted photos and description of the particular fish species in our advisory to various towns in the province,” Ayson said. Described by BFAR fish experts, the shadow goby is relatively small having black spots on the body; the gobies form the family Gobiidae, which is one of the largest families of fish, with more than 2,000 species in more than 200 genera. It is as deadly as the puffer fish or butete for having similar toxic contents according to the BFAR.

Solon to BFAR: Name your fisherfolk beneficiaries • •

Written by  Charlie V. Manalo   Friday, 27 September 2013 08:00  

Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza has called for the deferment of the budget of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) pending the submission of the list of poor fisherfolk beneficiaries it is claiming to have served. Atienza made the call during the plenary deliberations on the budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) which BFAR falls under. This came about when the DA refused to consider the proposal to remove all fishpens from various bodies of water such as the Laguna Lake, Taal Lake and Manila Bay, citing the DA’s stand that doing so would disrupt the food supply for Metro Manila. “We totally disagree with the DA’s stand. Removing the fishpens would not only allow the ordinary fisherfolk to earn their livelihood but would also free up the water bodies from the pollution caused by the obstructive fishpens,” Atienza stressed. “It has always been my contention that we must liberate our bodies of water from fishpens and fish cages in all forms and sizes,” the solon said. “Almost all our water bodies, like the Laguna Lake and Manila Bay are in a state of continued deterioration because of the proliferation of fishpens which ironically are owned by big businessmen and even foreigners. Because of this, ordinary fisherfolk are deprived of their livelihood and it is not surprising that they now comprise the poorest sector,” he added. Moreover, according to Atienza, the recent flooding in Metro Manila, Laguna and Cavite, among other provinces, brought on by typhoons and tropical depressions has been caused by the overflowing of water basins and lakes which should have been catch basin for rainwater. “We have been blessed with abundant natural resources, primary of which are our 94 lakes and 421 rivers. We have more than enough to provide for everyone and I don’t see any reason why our fisherfolk should go hungry and become the poorest sector of our society,” Atienza said.

PFDA‐NFPC officials hail volunteers for cleanup of fishport area • •

Written by  Arlie O. Calalo   Friday, 27 September 2013 08:00  

Top officials of the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority-Navotas Fishport Complex (PFDA-NFPC) have lauded hundreds of volunteers who joined in the recent simultaneous coastal clean-up drive that yielded some 50 tons of trash and debris which have been threatening marine resources in the fishport area. Interviewed by reporters, PFDA-NFPC general manager Eduardo Chu was all praises for the active participation of the Inter-Island Deep Sea Fishing Association (IDSFA) whose members include the Frabelle Fishing Corp., Irma Fishing, RBI, Marlyd and Royale Fishing and the Association of Fish Brokers, Petron Corp., Therma Mobile Power as well as shipyard operators and other fish port clients. Equally hailed were personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National PoliceMaritime Command and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, said Chu who likewise lauded PFDA-NFPC employees and officials for being at the forefront during the activity which was part of the global International Coastal Clean-up with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is spearheading. “The volunteers took a whole day to scour and remove all the trash and debris which threaten to flow into the open water bordering the fish port area which includes the pier, quayside and its peripheries which have an estimated length of 1.8 kilometers,” Chu said. With assistant general manager Rodrigo Jimenez, port manager Miguel Lamberte and NFPC security unit chief Arfilo Catipay who have also been in the front line in the campaign, Chu said the tons of trash retrieved consisted mostly of plastic products, bottles, styrofoam products, fish nets, water lilies, driftwoods, cigarette butts and an assortment of garbage. “The trash which flowed from the rivers of Navotas and Marala, which traverse the Navotas City area, is a constant problem that threatens the coastal and marine resources in the area,” Chu said. He added the participation of PFDA-NFPC in the coastal clean-up was in response to the mandate issued by the Supreme Court to conduct a clean-up of the Manila Bay and its peripheral areas which include the fish port complex in Navotas. The officials have reiterated their appreciation to all the companies and locators who have provided their support and participation despite the short notice in the preparation. They said the successful implementation of the coastal clean-up by the PFDA-NFPC is “just the beginning to conserve our coastal and marine environment and the food security program of the Complex.”

Paolo exits; new low-pressure area spotted off Mindanao By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 28, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Tropical Storm Paolo exited the Philippine area of responsibility yesterday afternoon but a new low-pressure area was spotted off Mindanao, the state weather bureau said. Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) weather forecasting section chief Rene Paciente yesterday said rains may still persist over the western section of the country today as the disturbance will continue to enhance the southwest monsoon. However, Paciente said the whole country can expect good weather condition by tomorrow apart from isolated thunderstorms. Paciente also said the low-pressure area is not expected to affect the country this weekend. As of 4 p.m. yesterday, the low-pressure area was located 925 kilometers east of Northern Mindanao. Paciente said the low-pressure area has a chance of intensifying into a cyclone and if it does, it will be locally named Quedan. Meanwhile, as of 4 p.m. yesterday, the center of Paolo was spotted at 435 km northwest of Iba, Zambales with maximum sustained winds of 65 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 80 kph. Paolo was upgraded from a depression to a storm yesterday afternoon. It was forecast to move west northwest toward Vietnam at 15 kph. Paolo was the 16th tropical cyclone to enter the country this year and the second weather disturbance this month.‐exits‐new‐low‐pressure‐area‐spotted‐ mindanao       

House approves ‘pork-less’ P2.3-T budget for 2014 By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 28, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Amid the raging controversy over the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the House of Representatives approved on second reading last night the now “pork-less” P2.268-trillion national budget for 2014. The plenary deliberations on the proposed 2014 General Appropriations Act (GAA) began on Sept. 16 that saw lawmakers grappling with the abolition of the P25-billion PDAF, which was broken up and distributed to several agencies such as the Departments of Public Works and Highways, Health, Labor and Employment, and Education. “We have been telling our committee members and colleagues that we really have to focus on the approval of the budget, the PDAF is just one percent of the GAA,” Rep. Isidro Ungab, head of appropriations committee, said.Ungab said House members were demoralized over the abolition of the PDAF as lawmakers depend on it to fund numerous requests for medical and scholarship assistance of their constituents. “As before, we have to take the moral high ground and we’ll find ways to address the needs of our constituents,” he said.Except for the realignment of the PDAF, there were no major changes to the national expenditure program submitted by Malacañang, including the “presidential pork” estimated at over P400 million. The proposed budget, which is 13.1 percent higher than this year’s P2.006-trillion program, would address key expenditure requirements for social development and inclusive growth initiatives under the Aquino administration, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said. The government allocated the largest portions of the proposed budget to the DepEd with P281.8 billion, followed by DPWH with P200 billion.The Department of the Interior and Local Government was given the third highest allocation at P99 billion. The proposed budgets of the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Transportation and Communications, National Defense, and Interior and Local Government took several hours of questioning before hurdling the plenary. PDAF broken up Following President Aquino’s call for Congress to abolish the PDAF, the House apportioned the congressional allocations to the DPWH, DOH, DOLE, the Departments of Social Welfare and Development, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

These agencies will be the ones to directly implement infrastructure or “hard” projects identified by lawmakers as well as the “soft” assistance to their constituents like scholarships and medical help.An additional P9.65 billion was given to the DPWH for congressional infrastructure projects itemized by House members last night. The DSWD received an additional P4.71 billion for assistance to persons in crisis while the DOH got P3.69 billion to be downloaded to government hospitals, specialty hospitals and local government unit hospitals for hospitalization and medical assistance; DOLE and TESDA, P3.69 billion for employment and training assistance; CHED, P2.66 billion for scholarships, and P1.02 billion for the DepEd. For the infrastructure programs, each lawmaker will identify P24.5 million worth of projects for their respective districts limited to local roads, bridges, footbridges, classrooms or schools, multipurpose buildings, and levels 2 and 3 water supply systems. Each lawmaker can identify only a maximum of five “hard” projects.Ungab said there would be mechanisms to govern the disbursement of funds for “soft” programs. “Every congressman was already informed there are existing guidelines, policies on (spending) so everybody must follow them,” he said. Ungab, however, said various lump sum allocations under the Office of the President would remain intact, like the P7.5-billion calamity fund and the P1-billion contingent fund. Tempers flare Meanwhile, ABAKADA-Guro party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz and Quezon City Rep. Christopher Belmonte had a quarrel at the resumption of session yesterday morning. The spat started when De la Cruz approached Belmonte, who was acting majority leader at the time, to ask whether the latter could do something to let him grill the sponsor of the proposed budget of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). De la Cruz said he had been waiting since Thursday to interpellate the proposed ARMM budget but it was already approved when he arrived. As the two lawmakers appeared to be coming to blows, Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II put his arm over De la Cruz and led him away. De la Cruz later denied that they were close to a fistfight but admitted he raised his voice at Belmonte.

P50 million for senators IN SEARCH FOR TRUTH By Ernesto M. Maceda (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 28, 2013 - 12:00am Senate President Franklin Drilon has confirmed the release of P50 million PDAF to senators after the conviction of Chief Justice Renato Corona. He added that the PDAF of senators was withheld during the trial. That could be said as a threat of non-release if they didn’t vote to convict. Malacañang confirmed the P50 million release. Senator Jinggoy Estrada had stated the P50-million release in his privilege speech last Wednesday. Senators T.G. Guingona and Juan Ponce Enrile also confirmed receipt of P50 million after the impeachment proceedings. This raises a question on the legitimacy of Corona’s impeachment. He has a good basis to say he is vindicated. Senate sources also say that senators were given an extra P100 million as incentives for the passage of the P49 billion conditional cash transfer (CCT) fund. One thing is now clear. The P70 million per congressman and P200 million per senator is only a minimum as the PDAF scam investigations showed that they had received more than the minimum, one other source of congressional allocations being the Malampaya fund. Senator Jinggoy also revealed that Senator Edgardo Angara as finance committee chairman had asked them to submit an additional listing of projects to be funded by the Economic Stimulus Fund. Congressmen also received allocations from the Road User’s Tax fund. The COA should go full blast to audit all lump-sum funds, including releases by the Philippine Charity Sweepstake Office (PCSO) and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor). Recall that several cities received Pagcor funds for beautification and street lighting projects. Secretary Leila De Lima again promised the Senate that additional batches of lawmakers and executive officials will be charged after the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) completes its evidence.

Considering that the government is still operating under a deficit, it would be advisable to reduce the P1-trillion presidential pork barrel. In a TV interview, COA Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan confirmed that President Aquino as senator had used P40 million in PDAF funds. But his bigger pork barrel is the P6-billion presidential social fund that comes from Pagcor. With P5 trillion in foreign debt, it is time to review and reduce the present budget, which is reaching almost P3 trillion. COA Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan has travelled 30 times in less than 3 years. And so have cabinet members and solons. It is time to clamp down on foreign travel of government officials, many of whom travel in business class. Unfair The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has disqualified Laguna Governor E.R. Ejercito for overspending. He was found to have spent P6 million for TV ads alone. The Comelec said that at P3 per voter, his limit is only P4.5 million. Governor E.R. Ejercito won by a landslide and is admittedly doing well as governor. The Comelec should go slow in disqualifying winning candidates. How about the senators and congressmen who have also overspent? I estimate at least 3 senatorial candidates to have spent P500 million each. BIFF blasts tower The provinces of North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Maguindanao were plunged into darkness after suspected BIFF rebels blasted Tower #141 of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in Kabacan, North Cotabato. Powerlines in Tulunan, North Cotabato were also strafed. The Kabacan improvised explosive device (IED) blast is the 22nd blast after the bombing of Cagayan De Oro. It appears that the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) are on a full-blast offensive in Central Mindanao. They also tried to take control of the Cotabato Highway in M’lang, North Cotabato. Meanwhile, government forces suffered 5 (soldier) casualties in clearing up operations in Sta. Catalina and Rio Hondo, Zamboanga City as it appears that the group of Ustadz Habier Malik is decided to make a last ditch stand and die as martyrs. The standoff is now on its 20th day.

CJ Puno says yes Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno issued an opinion that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee can summon Janet Napoles. He said that the Senate’s right to investigate is superior to the rules of the Ombudsman. Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide expressed a different view supporting the stand of the Ombudsman. Senator T.G. Guingona has written Senate President Franklin Drilon asking him to approve the subpoena he issued for the appearance of Janet Napoles before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. Chief Justice Puno said that the cardinal rule of separation of powers demands that the power to investigate of Congress be respected. Puno further stated that an administrative rule cannot negate a constitutional grant of power. Heed the warning Engineer Rene Santiago, a railway expert, has warned that the 11-year old Metro Rail Transit (MRT) signalling system is now obsolete and poses a big risk to passengers. Santiago, a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) consultant, said: “Every MRT trip is a risky trip. Every time you ride the MRT, pray that there will be no accident.” The MRT, designed to carry 300,000 passengers a day, is usually overloaded as it now carries 500,000 passengers a day. Unwittingly Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, in trying to rebut Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s expose, has unwittingly given him a valid defense argument. Miriam said: “I would like to inform Mr. Estrada if he’s still educable, that under the rules of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the responsibility of the legislator stops at the point of identifying the project plus the implementing agency.” If that is Miriam’s excuse, then Jinggoy can also claim it. And so can all legislators now be charged by the Department of Justice. Good work, NBI The NBI should be commended for solving the Kae Davantes kidnap/murder case, with 5 out of 6 suspects in their custody.

It at least gives assurance that the police authorities can be depended on to solve cases and give justice to victims. What is disturbing is the decision of the 6 killers to kill Davantes when they could have just taken her car and let her go. Government inaction Mayor Jefferson Khonghun of Subic, Zambales has good reason to blame the National Government for its failure to dredge the Calaklan River, causing 18 casualties. Malaca単ang and Secretary Rogelio Singson gave the excuse that the dredging was stopped because of lack of spare parts for a stalled dredger. But Mayor Khonghun correctly argued the non-repair of the stalled dredger for one year is not acceptable. He said that a private dredging contractor should have been hired. The same problem is true of the stalled dredging of the Pampanga River and the cancellation of the dredging of Laguna De Bay.

BOC taps SGS for seminar on oil imports By Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 28, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Customs (BOC) and top global shipment verification and inspection expert Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS) S.A. which is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, have teamed up to formulate a common platform for the enhanced security, integrity, promotion, and performance of the oil industry in the country. The initial effort, focused on the efficient inspection and taxation of inbound petroleum products, have been made in a recent three-day seminar workshop organized by the BOC in partnership with SGS and attended by top Customs officials especially those in ports that handle oil import shipments. The seminar paved the way for a more comprehensive overview and update on current trends and issues facing the Philippine oil industry, such as: oil management and storage, fuel storage, fuel security and trusted fuel supply, fuel fraud prevention approaches, fuel marking system enhancement, fuel integrity, valuation risks management, tax evasion prevention, fair business competition, and price verification. The seminar likewise gave the BOC and SGS S.A. the opportunity to intensively discuss and subsequently identify appropriate solutions to stop oil smuggling in the country which has been cheating the government millions of pesos every year. According to Prudencio M. Reyes Jr., BOC deputy commissioner for assessment and operations, who spearheaded and facilitated the seminar, the seminar’s outputs would form part of the BOC initiatives to bring out the best in the country’s oil industry operational and technical policies, services and practices.

PDIC bids out banks’ assets By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 28, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC) conducted yesterday a public bidding for the assets of shuttered banks. In a statement, PDIC said 91 real properties including two former bank premises, one condominium unit and 88 residential lots were up for sale. The properties, sold on an “as-is, where-is” basis, had an aggregate minimum disposal value of P46.73 million. They are located in Metro Manila, and in the provinces of Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Bataan, Bulacan, Zambales, Pampanga, and Rizal. Earlier, the PDIC has advised interested bidders to physically inspect the properties, to verify land titles and other documents, and determine unpaid taxes and other fees. The bids should have been accompanied by at least 10 percent of the submitted bid either in cash or in manager’s or cashier’s check issued by a universal or reputable commercial bank. The winning bidder is required to pay the balance of the bid price no later than Oct. 8.

PDIC’s bidding of properties is in line with its mandate of liquidating non-financial assets of closed banks. “The regular conduct of public biddings of corporate and closed banks’ assets is in line with the PDIC’s strategic direction of expeditious disposal of non-financial assets as outlined in PDIC’s medium-term Roadmap to 2016,” the PDIC said. “This is also in support of PDIC’s mandate as liquidator of closed banks. The PDIC converts the closed banks’ assets into cash either through public biddings or negotiated sale to maximize recovery and facilitate distribution of assets to closed banks’ uninsured depositors and creditors,” it added.

Gov’t to borrow P120B in Q4 By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 28, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The government plans to borrow P120 billion from the domestic debt market in the fourth quarter, the Bureau of Treasury said yesterday. The borrowing is made up of P40 billion worth of Treasury bills and P80 billion worth of Treasury bonds, according to a memorandum posted on the Bureau of Treasury website. For the T-bills, the government will borrow P20 billion in October, and another P20 billion in November. The government will issue P4 billion worth of 91-day papers, P6 billion worth of 182-day papers, and P10 billion worth of one-year papers. With regard to the T-bonds, the Treasury will offer P20 billion worth of 20-year RTBs in October, P30 billion worth of 7-year RTBs in November, and another P30 billion worth of RTBs in December. In the third quarter, the government borrowed P150 billion from domestic sources. This was composed of P60 billion worth of T-bills and P90 billion worth of T-bonds.

Sept inflation seen below BSP’s 3-5% target range By Kathleen Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 28, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) expects the September inflation rate to remain below the full-year target range of three to five percent in September. In a text message, BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr said inflation is forecast to settle within the 1.9 to 2.8 percent range in September due to a stable food prices and lower fuel rates. “Prices of premium gasoline declined while prices of vegetables and fish stabilized after the monsoon rains. However, price increases in rice, selected oil products, and electricity rates were noted during the month,” Tetangco said. Inflation slid to a four-year low in August at 2.1 percent due to a fall in fuel and utility rates. The decline in the consumer price index was observed despite the typhoons that battered the country during the period. For the first eight months, inflation stood at an average rate of 2.8 percent, below the BSP’s three to five percent target range for the year. The BSP said it will continue to assess developments affecting domestic prices to make sure this is in line with sustaining economic growth. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 “The BSP will continue to closely monitor the developments that shape the outlook in prices and economic activity to ensure that monetary policy is directed at safeguarding price stability in an environment of sustained economic growth,” Tetangco said. The economy has expanded by 7.5 percent in the second quarter, the fastest growth rate in Southeast Asia. This brought first half growth to 7.6 percent, already above the government’s target of six to seven percent. The robust economic growth coupled with manageable inflation allowed the BSP to keep its policy rates unchanged since the start of the year.

Stiff fines for colorum operators loom by Kris Bayos September 28, 2013 Manila, Philippines – Government warned operators of out-of-line jeepneys, utility vehicles (UV) express and taxis of the looming increase in fines and implementation of stiffer penalties for colorum operations. Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Executive Director Roberto Cabrera said the proposed schedule of stiffer fines and penalties was already transmitted to Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya. Cabrera made the warning after yesterday’s launching of Oplan Samson, which is directed against colorum UV express units as well as taxis and jeepneys. The LTFRB, together with law enforcers of the Land Transportation Office (LTO), apprehended at least seven colorum UV express operators yesterday morning during the operation along Meralco Avenue in Pasig City. “Colorum UV express units were impounded and the driver’s licenses confiscated. They are also fined P6,000 for their offense,” he said. Cabrera said the operation against colorum UV express units was named after “Samson,” since most of the apprehended operators are uniformed personnel. “We encountered a case of a policeman operator who pointed a gun towards an enforcer during apprehension. With Oplan Samson, we want to warn them that they are not untouchables in terms of law enforcement,” he said, adding that LTFRB is readying to file a complaint against the Manila policeman. Abaya had earlier ordered the LTFRB to propose a new schedule of fines and penalties to deter out-of-line colorum operations. “If he approves of it, we will have no recourse but to implement it as a deterrent to colorum operations,” he said. The official refused to divulge the proposed increase but said new fines would be “hardly affordable,” especially as it is coupled with cancellation of the franchise and impounding of apprehended vehicle. “Given the higher fines and stiffer penalties for colorum operators, they better stop and cooperate,” Cabrera said, adding that the “government is only after the safety of commuters” since colorum vehicles are not covered by passenger accident insurance.

Guingona confirms P50M; senate to probe P900-M Malampaya funds by PNA and Hannah L. Torregoza September 28, 2013 (updated) Manila, Philippines – Senator Teofisto Guingona III, Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman, yesterday insisted that the P50 million given to each senator who voted to oust former Chief Justice Renato C. Corona was not an incentive for any political favor. “Please take note that the impeachment trial that ousted former Chief Justice Renato Corona happened in May, 2012. The P50 million was allocated in December, 2012,” Guingona said in a statement. He said the amount, sourced through the overall savings of the national government and released under a program called Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), came from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). In another development, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will investigate businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles’ alleged diversion of P900 million royalties from the Malampaya gas project to her non-government organizations (NGOs). Guingona said the panel may expand the coverage of its current investigation into the P10-billion pork barrel scam to include the Malampaya irregularity or he may re-open the panel’s investigation into the alleged misuse of the gas project’s funds in Palawan, which started on January 24, 2013. “Actually, kung naalala niyo, mayroon na akong Malampaya fund probe na hindi ko pa sinasara. Iyon yung tinawag ko si Dr. Gerry Ortega,” Guingona said. (If you remember, I already started a probe into the Malampaya funds, an investigation which has not been concluded. That is when I summoned Dr. Gerry Ortega.) The plan to include the Malampaya funds in the investigation was prompted by the testimony of Benhur Luy, the principal whistleblower who testified at the Senate “pork” probe, that Napoles got more from the Malampaya funds than from lawmakers’ pork barrel funds. In Thursday’s hearing on the pork barrel scam, Merlina Suñas, Napoles’ project coordinator and one of the witnesses who testified, confirmed to senators that Napoles used dummy NGOs as recipient of the Malampaya funds. 12 Napoles NGOs Got Malampaya Funds Luy said eight of the 20 Napoles NGOs received funds from pork barrel while 12 remaining foundations got funds from the Malampaya project.

Suñas said that at that time, they were clueless as on the nature of the Malampaya funds – where it is sourced from and how Napoles was able to negotiate with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), which is the implementing agency of the gas project funds. P1.7-B Palawan Projects Based on the Commission on Audit (COA) report on May 29, 2012, the provincial government of Palawan has P1.782-billion infrastructure projects funded from its share from the Malampaya royalty. But in the Statements of Work Accomplishments (SWAs), the COA discovered discrepancies between the reported project accomplishments and the actual accomplishments during inspections in 52 projects covered by 38 contracts. P87.5-M Discrepancy Guingona said based on the COA reports, the discrepancy is estimated to be at about P87.5 million. “So, that can be the continuation (of our investigation) because it is the Malampaya fund,” he said. In Thursday’s Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the Department of Justice (DOJ) is now preparing to file charges next week against those involved in the Malampaya fund mess. No Need For Napoles Subpoena – Miriam Meanwhile, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago said Senate President Franklin M. Drilon probably shares her line of thinking that it is not necessary for the Senate chief to subpoena Napoles, citing the hearing conducted by the Guingona panel is just in aid of legislation. “Hanggang ngayon pa ba wala pa tayong idea kung papaanong magpairal ng bagong batas to prevent plunder? After all those trees in the forests were felled just to make the paper on which all those volumes were written about plunder?’’ she asked. She also said that the government spends too much just to bring this woman from one person to another. However, Santiago disagreed on plans to make Napoles a state witness, saying “she is the most guilty.” (With a report Mario B. Casayuran)

Paje urges LGUs to push geohazard awareness by Jomari D. Guillermo September 27, 2013 (updated)

Rescuers retrieve a lifeless body of residents buried on a landslide in Brgy Balaybay, Castillejois, Zambales province on Tuesday, September 24, 2013. Monsoon rains worsen by typhoon Odette, causing floods and landslide that left 20 people dead. (KJ ROSALES) After landslides in Zambales killed over 20 people last Monday, Environment Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje has urged local government units on Friday to raise public awareness on landslides and flooding to help people to prepare and cope easily. Paje said he has already instructed the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and its regional offices to make a comprehensive training program for it. “There is now a need for LGUs to undertake continuing education of their constituents down to the sitio level to better prepare them and help them cope with the effects of typhoons which have become more intense due to climate change,� Paje said, adding that this is the best time to educate people since the government cannot be everywhere everytime.

He also said that investing in environmental education would make residents of areas susceptible to landslides and flooding “more resilient and readily capable” of what to do during calamities. “There is nothing we could do but to adapt to climate change and the only way we could be prepared for its impact is to accept that these recent developments in our country like intense weather disturbances, heavy rainfall, and long dry season are now the ‘new normal,’” Paje said. The number of people killed and properties damaged during the landslide in Subic, Paje said, would have been minimized or better yet prevented if residents were informed that these areas where they live are among those listed in the geohazard areas. Citing an MGB report, Sitio Masinit and Sitio Cabangan in Subic were already declared under “landslide accumulation zones” as these areas are situated near a ridge and volcanic plug. Based on MGB studies, Sitio Masinit is underlain by weathered volcanic rock while Sitio Cabangan is underlain by grain-size dark rocks formed from magma called micrograbbos. Also, reports indicate that 359.7 millimeter (mm) of rain per hour was dumped on these areas last September 22 and this was followed by 143.6 mm per hour the next day. Paje, meanwhile, said that the agency has already completed the geohazard assessment and mapping of the whole country and is now working on more detailed maps of municipalities. To date, more than 400 municipalities have their detailed maps. MGB, which implements the geohazard assessment and mapping program, said it has also completed the assessment of 293 municipalities for coastal geohazard and climate change impact.

Log, veneer output up; lumber, plywood down in H1 by Jomari D. Guillermo September 27, 2013 The country’s production of major forest products saw different results in the first half of the year, data  from the Forest Management Bureau (FMB) showed.     Based on FMB’s 2013 Forestry Sector Report, Caraga region contributed most of the logs, lumber,  veneer, and plywood produced in the country.     FMB, which is under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), reported that the  production of log in the first semester climbed by 25.734 percent to 549,103 cubic meters from 436,717  cubic meters in the previous year.     Of which, 393,618 cubic meters were produced by Caraga region.     This was followed by Davao, Central Visayas, and Zamboanga peninsula which produced 50,937 cubic  meters, 37,633 cubic meters, and 20,087 cubic meters, respectively.     Lumber production, on the other hand, declined by 14.98 percent to 64,026 cubic meters from 75,306  cubic meters last year.     For the period, Caraga region produced 27,558 cubic meters of lumber followed by Western Visayas,  Davao, and Central Visayas.     Production of veneer wood, which is used in making doors and cabinets, surged by 35.23 percent to  105,428 cubic meters from 77,960 cubic meters.     Caraga region also recorded the highest veneer and plywood production for the first semester of the  year.     Plywood, which is typically used for wall structures, posted a 34.21 percent drop in the January to June  period this year.     Volume of production of plywood rose fell to 104,585 cubic meters from 158,973 cubic meters in the  same period last year.     Northern Mindanao and National Capital Region (NCR) also contributed to the country’s plywood  production.Northern Mindanao produced 22,175 cubic meters while NCR produced 5,601 cubic meters.

45-day gun ban starts Sept 28 by Mary Rose Hogaza September 27, 2013 Authorities have imposed a 45-day gun ban starting Sept. 28 to Nov. 12 for the coming barangay elections on Oct. 28. The gun ban period covers 30 days before and 15 days after the elections. Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said they will also set up check points nationwide. He said individuals who wish to be exempted shall apply for security details. Law enforcers on duty and in uniform are excluded from the implementation. Other law enforcement agencies need to apply for permit to carry firearms. Private security agencies are also considered exempted from the gun ban. Other prohibited acts during the gun ban period include issuance of appointments, promotions, creation of new positions, salary increases in government offices, raising funds through dances, lotteries and cockfights, transfer and detail of officers and employees in the civil service such as public school teachers and suspension of any elective provincial, city, municipal or barangay officers. Brillantes said there are no prohibitions on early campaigning since there are still no candidates. He added that those who would post their campaign materials before the start of the official campaign period shall be called “epal.� The filing of certificate of candidacy is on October 11.

PAG-IBIG releases P19-M calamity loans by Jc Bello Ruiz September 28, 2013 (updated) Manila, Philippines – The Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF or Pag-IBIG) has released P19 million in calamity loans to families whose homes were destroyed by the ongoing conflict in Zamboanga, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said yesterday. As of Sept. 25, Pag-IBIG Zamboanga branch has completed the processing of 933 loan applications amounting to P19,030,577.00, according to Binay, chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC). Around 2,500 more applications are being processed for approval, he said. Pag-IBIG Zamboanga operates from Monday to Friday (8 a.m.-6 p.m.) and Saturday (8 a.m.-12 noon). “We at the housing sector intend to help our kababayans in Zamboanga rise up from this tragedy, even as we pray that peace finally reign in Mindanao,” the Vice President said in a statement. Pag-IBIG’s calamity assistance program is also open to overseas Filipino worker (OFW) members whose families were affected by the crisis. OFW members who are abroad may authorize their relatives in Zamboanga by executing a Special Power of Attorney (SPA) to transact with Pag-IBIG on their behalf.

Who got how much? DBM urged to open record By Norman Bordadora Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:03 am | Saturday, September 28th, 2013

TELLING IT LIKE IT IS Members of the militant group Abolish Pork Movement demonstrate their disgust at the House of Representatives during Friday’s second reading of the 2014 budget. MARIANNE BERMUDEZ Two senators would like the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to lay bare the records on the P50 billion in extra pork that Sen. Jinggoy Estrada said Malacaùang had granted to the senators after they voted to convict impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona last year. The people have a right to know where the funds went, if indeed they were allocated to the senators, and if the lawmakers had availed themselves of the P50 million for their projects, said Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III.

“If they (the DBM) post our PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund releases] online, they can treat that P50 million similarly,” Pimentel, the chair of the Senate justice committee, said in a telephone interview. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad suddenly made himself scarce on Friday, refusing to receive or return calls. For the second straight day, Palace spokespersons insisted that there was no such thing despite an admission from Senate President Franklin Drilon himself that P50 million in PDAF were released to the senators. In separate interviews, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang and Abad denied ever bribing senators to impeach Corona, an ally of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. But at a briefing in the Palace on Friday, Valte confirmed the release of pork barrel allocations to senators “sometime in October 2012,” about five months after the impeachment trial. ‘Regular’ fund releases But she said these were “regular fund releases in favor of the Senate by way of their PDAF.” But it’s not true that “there was a release for the specific purpose of bribing, of giving an incentive or a reward,” she said. Carandang said the DBM did not release any pork during the impeachment. Now, several months after the impeachment, when it was back to the normal course of business, there were PDAF releases. But the PDAF releases were both for senators who voted to convict and to acquit Corona. The records will bear that out,” he said. Neither Valte nor Carandang could quote a specific amount of PDAF actually released to individual senators, but asked the media to seek a clarification from Abad. Valte said the issue should be clarified by the senators themselves. Media could pursue issue Pimentel said the media could pursue the issue of the P50-million alleged post-impeachment payoff through the little-known Senate office that Estrada had mentioned in his privilege speech on Wednesday, the Legislative Budget and Research Monitoring Office headed by Director Yolanda Doblon. Estrada had challenged Doblon to produce the records of the pork-barrel fund entitlements allegedly given to the senators by Malacañang.

“In the records of Doblon, you can see the date when the requests were made. She would be holding letters from the senators totalling P50 million,” Pimentel said.

“Those who availed of the P50 million, most likely they would have letters with Doblon,” Pimentel said, as they would have identified the projects to be funded by the additional pork. Pimentel said the documents must also include the date of the letter memorandum informing the senators of the additional funds for projects and the special allotment release orders from the DBM. Pimentel said he could not recall if he actually received such an entitlement, “but if there really is such, you can ask Doblon.” “The media can pursue that. Get the list and publish it. Those are public funds, if ever P50 million in additional funds were released,” Pimentel said. Look at records Majority Leader Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano said it would have been wrong if pork barrel funds were released to the senators in connection with their role as magistrates in the impeachment court. “Now, if the pork barrel had a hand [in the impeachment trial], this is bad,” he said. Cayetano claimed that his affirmative vote to convict Corona wasn’t influenced by any monetary consideration. “Look at the records. When was it released, to whom it was released, and whether it is true that it was related to the impeachment … Whether it was used [to cast influence] on the Senate, that has to be looked at,” he said. Pimentel also denied the insinuation from Estrada that the Aquino administration had used pork barrel funds to influence lawmakers to vote for the President’s priority measures. Wrong in innuendo “When I was against RH [the reproductive health law] and when I was prosin tax, nothing changed. I was not deprived of anything. I was not offered anything,” Pimentel said. Pimentel said Estrada was correct as regards the timeline of the P50-million additional PDAF— that it came after Corona’s conviction. “He was just wrong in the innuendo that it influenced the [impeachment] vote,” he said. With Michael Lim Ubac

Women in forefront of anticoal drive in Palawan town By Redempto D. Anda Inquirer Southern Luzon 10:47 pm | Friday, September 27th, 2013 5 312 291

BARANGAY captain Grace Dantic of San Juan, Aborlan, where DMCI plans to relocate its coal plant project, is “anticoal” but admits she is taking strong pressure from Palawan Gov. Jose Alvarez to support the controversial project. REDEMPTO D. ANDA/INQUIRER SOUTHERN LUZON ABORLAN, Southern Palawan—After abandoning its original plan to put up a 15-megawatt coal-fired power facility in the adjoining town of Narra due to intense local opposition headed by its mayor, the Consunji group’s DMCI Powers Inc. has again found itself ranged against mostly women anticoal campaigners in this municipality. A village council dominated by women, academics from the state-run Western Philippines University (WPU) and relatives of this town’s fallen hero Dr. Gerry Ortega are leading the snowballing campaign against a proposed coal-fired power plant here. Grace Dantic, barangay captain of San Juan, where DMCI plans to construct the power plant, told the Inquirer that the majority of her constituents and their women-dominated village council was opposed to hosting the coal plant. “The truth is that most of our constituents don’t want the plant to be put up here. But we will allow DMCI to conduct its information campaign,” Dantic said in Tagalog. The local Catholic Church, headed by its parish priest

Fr. Armando Limsa, has put up tarpaulins around town calling for opposition to the plant, citing its adverse health effects and its threat to the environment. DMCI, in a letter addressed to the barangay council, has expressed interest in finding a suitable place within the coastal village to put up the plant. It had recently scuttled early plans to set up the facility in Narra after the municipality, headed by Mayor Lucena Demaala, refused to endorse the project. “As a woman leader, I have an obligation to our people, especially to the women and children, to protect them from the ill effects of the emission of the coal power plant,” Demaala had said.

DMCI then decided to head for neighboring Aborlan and began efforts to solicit support from the local community, holding a series of meetings in its coastal villages. WPU officials have lamented that the provincial government, headed by Gov. Jose Alvarez, is campaigning for support to the coal plant. Provincial information officer Gil Acosta confirmed in a radio interview that Alvarez personally spoke with local officials in Aborlan to solicit local endorsement of the coal plant project. “This was because of the governor’s strong position that we urgently need additional power supply to spur growth,” he said in Filipino, in an interview with local radio station dwAR. On Monday, the administration of WPU, which is located in Barangay San Juan, submitted its position paper to the municipal council of Aborlan opposing the coal plant project. Dr. Lita Sopsop, dean of the WPU College of Arts and Sciences, warned the municipal council of the proposed plant’s pollution impact on health and the towns marine resources. “The project threatens our sole marine sanctuary. We can only hope the municipal council will reject it,” Sopsop said. The women relatives of murdered journalist and anticorruption campaigner Ortega, including his family, who lives in Aborlan, launched this week an online campaign against the coal plant in a bid to pressure local officials not to allow the project. “If Kuya Gerry were alive today, he’ll be in the forefront of this campaign,” Ortega’s younger sister, Angela, said. “We vehemently reject the building of any structure that will snatch away our health, our life and our children’s future,” she added. The Palawan Electric Cooperative, which awarded DMCI a 25-MW supply contract following an open technology bidding, said DMCI could not meet its mandated schedule to start operations because of its failure to secure permits.

While DMCI had previously secured the support of most political leaders of the province, including the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, which issues a special clearance to all environmentally sensitive projects in the province, it has yet to hurdle the opposition in the communities.

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Mindanao Newsbits for September 28,2013 September 28, 2013 Enough rice Cagayan De Oro — The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) 10 here has assured consumers there is enough rice production in Northern Mindanao, but said the price of some commercial rice went up slightly in some retail stores. Consumers complained of increases in the price of commercial rice in Surigao City by as much as P10 per kilo. NEDA economic development specialist Engr. Cecilio Clarete allayed fears on the shortage of rice during a media forum the NEDA sponsored on Wednesday. He said a P5 increase has been noted in some variety of commercial rice in the market. (Camcer Ordonez Imam) COLLECTIONS UP CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Northern Mindanao is continuing to post increases in both tax and customs collections this year. In a press statement, Cecilio Y. Clarete, chief specialist of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA-10), said the region posted P2.26 billion tax collections in the second quarter of 2013, surpassing by 15 percent its P1.96 billion record in the same quarter in 2012. While the biggest increase of 30 percent was posted by Revenue District (RD) 101 in Iligan City, he said RD 98 in Cagayan de Oro City still accounted for the bulk of collections in the region, representing 55.3 percent of the regional total collections. (Camcer Ordonez Imam) ‘GREENING’ CARAGA BUTUAN CITY – The government is calling on volunteers and all sectors of the society to participate in the tree-planting activity in 100,000 hectares of denuded, idle and vacant lands in the five provinces and six cities in Northeastern Mindanao (Caraga region). The government is also calling on all Caraganons to help the government in the “greening” project in all the region’s watershed areas, which is vital for the use of people for potable drinking water and for the farmers’ irrigation system. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-13) is also calling on all sectors for their involvement in “greening” back the region’s vacant areas. (Mike U. Crismundo) ‘KAKANIN’ BUSINESS STA. MARIA, Davao del Sur – A group of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) here are anxious about expanding their “kakanin” business after the Department of Trade and Industry Davao del Sur recently awarded them a shared service facilities (SSF) project worth P150,000. The SSF project includes a wood-fired oven, wood-fired pugon, coconut grinder, coconut milk extractor, electric rice grinder/mill, steamer, stainless steel work table, stainless steel ladle, stainless steel basin, and stainless steel vat. Since their cacao business, which is already 60 years

old, is no longer productive, the Women’s Organization of the PCEC KUMASSIE Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multi-Purpose Cooperative (PKEARBAI) of Barangay Basiawan thought of venturing into the “kakanin” business. (Cherry Mae D. Palicte) TOURISM WEEK CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Various stakeholders in Region 10 recently joined the tourism week celebration here. Among the activities done were fashion shows, quiz bee, exhibits, destination displays, street dancing and cultural shows. Booths that provided information about the different tourism hubs in Northern Mindanao were also set up for the locals and the visiting tourists. The weeklong activity was made possible with the participation of schools, businesses, line agencies and the local government units meeting minds under the theme: Tourism and Water: Protecting our common future. (Camcer Ordonez Imam)

Minimum wage workers in NCR to get pay hike October 4 By Tina G. Santos Philippine Daily Inquirer 10:34 pm | Friday, September 27th, 2013 MANILA, Philippines—Minimum wage earners in Metro Manila will receive the P10 daily wage increase starting October 4, according to the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board of the National Capital Region (RTWPB-NCR). The latest wage increase brings to P466 the minimum wage rate for nonagricultural workers in Metro Manila and P429 in the other regions. Aside from the basic pay, workers in the region are also getting P30 cost of living allowance (Cola) as provided under the wage order approved by the RTWPB last year. The wage board ordered the integration into the basic pay of P15 out of the previously approved P30 Cola starting January 2014. According to the wage order, the increase covers all minimum wage earners in the private sector in NCR, “regardless of their position, designation, or status of employment and irrespective of the method by which they are paid.” Household service workers and workers of duly registered Barangay Micro Business Enterprises (BMBEs) are exempted from the new wage order. In the case of contractors, the increase shall be shouldered by the principal or project clients. However, if the principal fails to pay the additional wage, liability will be shared by the contractor. Schools that have not increased their tuition fees may defer compliance until the beginning of the next school year. Workers who are paid by result or output are also entitled to payment of the prescribed increase. Distressed establishments, new business enterprises and companies employing less than 10 workers, and establishments whose total assets including those arising from loans (but not including land) can apply for exemption from the wage order as determined by the RTWPBNCR. Workers may file a complaint before the DOLE-NCR against employers who do not comply with the new minimum wage rate, the RTWPB-NCR said. The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines earlier said it will file a petition for reconsideration of the new wage order. The TUCP’s two factions filed separate petitions seeking P83 and P85 wage increase for workers in Metro Manila. Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Visayas Newsbits for September 28,2013 September 28, 2013 Samar Road Catbalogan City, Samar — The P11-million farm-to-market road leading to the interior villages of Peña and Lagundi, here, is already due for completion within this month, a top official of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) revealed yesterday. The 4.8-kilometer road project, funded through the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Samar 2nd District Rep. Milagrosa T. Tan, involves making it an all-weather road that can be used by farmers in bringing in their farm produce to Catbalogan City and to Tacloban City. (Nestor L. Abrematea) GROUP SEEKING P132 WAGE HIKE CEBU CITY – A newly-formed labor organization, which claimed to have more than 2,000 members, said the other day that it was filling a petition to increase the minimum daily wage by P132 at the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) 7. The Living Wage Coalition Cebu, a coalition of 50 labor groups in Cebu and Central Visayas, was formed after labor leaders said their voices could become stronger if all labor unions and federations will come together. Included in the coalition is the Cebu of the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL). (Mars W. Mosqueda, Jr.) R.D.C.-6 NOMINEES ILOILO CITY, Iloilo — A total of four have been nominated to co-chair the Regional Development Council of Western Visayas (RDC-6). Governors Victor Tanco Sr. of Capiz and Alfredo G. Marañon Jr. of Negros Occidental are the nominees to represent local chief executives at the RDC-6 during its reorganizational meeting in Iloilo City last Thursday. For the private sector, the nominees are Jesraff Palmares of the Iloilo Foundation on Information Technology and Franklin Carbon of Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The nominees were selected by representatives of local governments, government agencies and the private sector from the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Guimaras, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental. (Tara Yap)

Poisonous fish kills girl – BFAR by Freddie G. Lazaro September 27, 2013 Tuguegarao City, Cagayan — The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Cagayan Valley Region has banned the harvesting, selling, and eating of the poisonous shadow goby fish species, locally known as “langen-langen” or “bunog,” after the death of a girl who had eaten it for dinner. This fish species is usually found in shallow bodies of water in the coastal areas of this province. This developed following the reported poisoning of six family members in the coastal area of Buguey, Cagayan after they cooked the shadow goby fry for dinner earlier this week. The victims were hospitalized and one of them – Rovelyn Garcia, a Grade 2 pupil – reportedly died, the BFAR said yesterday. BFAR Region 2 Director Jovita Ayson said that shadow goby fry is one of the species of goby fish that has heavy concentration of toxins. In the advisory poster pasted in the different conspicuous places in the municipalities of Cagayan, a distinct description of poisonous goby fry, which was the presence of dark blotches on its body, was included. She said that the shadow goby is as deadly as the puffer fish, more commonly known as “butete.” She also advised the residents to take extra precautions in eating cooked fish to avoid food poisoning.

Dethroned ‘Mutya’ wants more after QC court victory By Julie M. Aurelio Philippine Daily Inquirer 10:33 pm | Friday, September 27th, 2013

VINDICATED BEAUTY According to the lawyer of Esabela Cabrera, shown here in her winning form at the 1997 Mutya ng Pilipinas beauty pageant, she deserves more than the amount earlier set by the court to compensate for her “emotional insecurity and personal embarrassment’’ following her dethronement 16 years ago. SCREEN GRAB FROM YOUTUBE MANILA, Philippines—How much does it cost to appease a deposed “queen”? A dethroned Mutya ng Pilipinas winner is asking a Quezon City court to increase the amount that the pageant organizers should pay her, after she sued for damages 16 years ago and won her case in July. According to her counsel, Esabela Cabrera suffered “strenuous, offensive and scandalous indignation” after being stripped of her Mutya title in 1997 due to her pregnancy and impending marriage. Lawyer Nelson Borja filed a motion on Thursday in the sala of Assisting Judge Ma. Rita BascosSarabia of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221, asking the court to order the organizers to pay P1.87 million.

In a July 1 ruling favoring Cabrera, the court set the amount at only P1.1 million. It included P400,000 representing Cabrera’s prize as Mutya 1997 winner, P500,000 in moral damages, P100,000 in exemplary damages and P100,000 in attorney’s fees.

Ordered to pay were The Miss Asia Pacific Quest Inc., which promotes, manages and administers the pageant; Carousel Productions Inc., the producer; Ramon Monzon, then president of Carousel; Leandro Enrique, then president of Miss Asia; and co-organizer Lorraine Schuck. Also ordered to pay was the 1997 first runner-up, Annie Moraga, who replaced Cabrera and received the prizes as the reigning queen. But in the motion, Borja asked the court to increase the compensatory damages to P420,000; the moral damages to P1 million; the exemplary damages to P300,000 and the attorney’s fees to P150,000. “Plaintiff had no other recourse but to struggle under pain of public humiliation and moral discrimination while studying at De La Salle University-Dasmariñas. (She went through) the same feeling of emotional insecurity and personal embarrassment even in her workplace at different corporations,” the lawyer stressed. “Plaintiff is now emotionally relieved and gloriously vindicated by the wisdom and sense of justice of this court, but had to content herself with an ordinary employment from one private corporation to another up to the present,” Borja added. Cabrera filed a civil case after the organizers stripped her of the title on May 6, 1997, three days after she was crowned. In the July 1 decision, Judge Sarabia gave weight to her claim that the defendants did not give her due process before she was dethroned.

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Landmark climate change report adopted September 27, 2013 Stockholm (AP) — Officials say an international conference on climate has adopted a longawaited report on global warming after all-night talks. Jean-Pascal van Ypersele tweeted early Friday that the full report and a summary for policymakers had been accepted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In the report, which will be released to the public later Friday, the IPCC is expected to say that it’s more certain than ever that global warming is man-made and that it will raise its previous projections of sea level rise. Participants of an international conference on climate science say delegates have finished talks on a landmark report on global warming and are ready to formally adopt the document. Another participant said delegates had finished the line-by-line editing of the report and were getting ready to formally adopt it.‐climate‐change‐report‐adopted/                             

Information: Human milk banking in Philippines September 27, 2013 The Department of Health (DOH) released on September 6, 2013, a Manual of Operations to guide health institutions such as medical centers and regional hospitals in the safe operation of human milk banks (HMBs), which process, pasteurize, and store human milk for used by newborns and infants. DOH was assisted in the preparation of the manual by experts from the three pioneers in human milk banking in the country – the Philippine Children’s Medical Center, which started it in 1996, the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, and the Philippine General Hospital. HMBs may answer a temporary need until the infant can directly breastfeed from the mother, the DOH said. The DOH has been promoting exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of an infant’s life, saying there is no substitute for a mother’s milk and breastfeeding brings mothers and infants closer together. The National Demographic Health Survey shows breastfeeding within the first hour among Filipinos is 53.5%; the DOH aims to increase it to 90% by 2016. Breast milk has been proven effective in reducing the risk of sepsis or blood infection, diarrhea, pneumonia, ear infection, skin allergies, and asthma among newborns. It contains nutrients and minerals to boost the immune system. Benefits for the mother include decrease in breast and ovarian risk and ovulation delay, allowing a couple to practice natural child spacing. Breastfeeding is promoted by Philippine laws: Republic Act (RA) 10028, the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009; RA 7600, the Rooming-In and Breastfeeding Act of 1992; and Executive Order 51, the Milk Code of the Philippines, which prohibits the advertising of infant formula or bottle teats targeted at babies 24 months old andbelow. We congratulate the Department of Health, headed by Secretary Dr. Enrique T. Ona and Undersecretaries Dr. Nemesio T. Gako, Dr. Teodoro J. Herbosa, Dr. Madeleine R. Valera, and Dr. Janette L. Garin, and other Officers, in their collective undertakings to make available a safe and life-saving nourishment for neonates and infants in our Republic of the Philippines. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY!‐human‐milk‐banking‐in‐philippines/   

BSP tightens watch on credit card operations of banks 10:41 pm | Friday, September 27th, 2013 The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is tightening its watch over the credit card businesses of local banks to ensure that consumers are protected amid the increasing use of “plastic” money. Starting next month, banks will be required to submit reports on the scope of their credit card operations, the number of issued and type of cards, fees and charges for transactions and credit limits for the average user. The data will be included in the credit card business activity reports (CCBAR) to be submitted to the regulator every month. “The BSP deems it necessary to require the submission of the CCBAR in order to enhance the credit card database of both credit card issuers and cardholders, ensure transparency and availability of information on credit card operations and complaint resolution, and afford profound analysis on the credit card industry for policy-making,” the central bank said. BSP Circular 812-2013, which was published this week, outlined the reporting requirements of all banks, quasi-banks and their subsidiaries and affiliates with credit card businesses. Reports on credit card issuers and acquirers, cardholders and complaints would have to be submitted monthly, while data on usage location of credit cards would be submitted quarterly, the BSP said. The BSP said financial institutions would have to disclose the number of cards per network or brand, the types of cards issued, approved applications and the number of cards based on credit limits. Banks were also told to disclose their total receivables, gross payments, general profiles on cardholders (based on gender, civil status and educational attainment, among others) and the type of payments. Companies that fail to comply would be slapped with financial and regulatory penalties, the BSP said. The submission of reports, the BSP said, would ensure “transparency and availability of data on credit card operations in light of ensuring consumer protection.” The BSP said it also wanted to use the data for the crafting of policies to manage the risks involved in credit transactions.‐tightens‐watch‐on‐credit‐card‐operations‐of‐banks   

Pag-IBIG cuts loan rates further to 6.125% effective October 1 by Bernie Magkilat September 27, 2013 Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG will further reduce its interest rates for both institutional and retail housing loans effective October 1 this year to provide more affordable source of funds for Filipinos and narrow the 3.9 million units in housing backlog. Pag-IBIG president Darlene Marie B. Berberabe announced the new rates at the 22nd General Membership Meeting Subdivision and Housing Development Association (SHDA), the country’s largest mass housing developers in the country. Effective October 1, 2013, the rate for developmental or institutional loans will be reduced to 6.125 percent for one year fixing, 6.750 percent for two-year fixing and 7.875 percent for 3-year fixing. “We have been reducing rates from 8.5 percent to 7.5 and now to a low of 6.125 percent,” Berberabe said. For individual or retail housing loans, the new rates will be 7.375 percent for three-year, 8.250 percent for five-year, 9 percent for 10 years, 9.625 percent for 15-year, 10.250 percent for 25 year, 10.875 percent for 20-year and 11.375 percent for 30 years. The lowest 7.375 percent loan for new retail loan will be a reduction from the current 7.9 percent. Berberabe said that banks still offer prime rates of below 5 percent to their valued clients, but without such privilege the PagIBIG housing loan rates are very competitive with what the banks are offering Berberabe said the continued reduction in interest is a tool for this agency to ensure that 70 percent of its investible funds go to housing needs of this country. As of July this year, Pag-IBIG has collected P124.494 billion. For 2012, Pag-IBIG collected P110.003 billion, 9 percent higher than P100.866 billion collection from members in 2011. For the retail sector, Pag-IBIG has extended total loan value of P121.72 billion within a six year period from January 2010 to July 2013 period, which is 83 percent higher compared to the P161.2 billion worth of loans extended for the three-year, July 2010 to July 2013.

For the housing developers, Pag-IBIG has already extended a total of P3.582 trillion worth of loans from 2010 to July 2013 for total housing units of 4,776 units. SHDA members account for P2.508 trillion of total loans. In terms of loan allocation, the National Capital Region grabbed P68.676 billion or 48 percent of total followed by Central Luzon with P17.301 billion with 12 percent and Southern Tagalog with P12.49 billion for 9 percent, Central Visayas with P9.11 billion, Western Visayas with P5.987 billion, Southern Mindanao with P5.414 billion and other regions with P23.435 billion. Pag-IBIG’s net income also grew to P13.276 billion in just 37 months or for the period July 2010 to July 2013 or 50.823 percent higher than the P8.823 billion registered in 72 months covering July 2014 to June 2010.‐ibig‐cuts‐loan‐rates‐further‐to‐6‐125‐effective‐october‐1/                                   

The shift in food preferences by Nelly Favis-Villafuerte September 27, 2013 Whether we like it or not; whether we admit or not, the consumer preferences in food are shifting fast in favor of organic or natural choices. One may ask: Why is this so? Why are organic or natural foods gaining popularity compared with other food preparations like genetically modified (GM) foods. Simply because, there is now a growing perception worldwide that organic or natural foods are healthier than other food preparations particularly genetically-modified food preparations – because organic or natural foods are not grown; raised; or processed with the use of synthetic chemicals or pesticides. People with allergies to food chemicals or preservatives also find their symptoms lesser or completely gone when they eat organic or natural food preparations. No wonder, more and more people are patronizing organic or natural food preparation everyday worldwide – despite the fact that these food preparations are more expensive than the genetically modified foods. The definition of genetically modified foods as found in the Internet is as follows: “foods that have been altered in a biological and botanical way, usually by modifying them in the laboratory, while they are still in their seed or plant stages, by adding nutrients or increasing its resistance to certain pests.” The plants or animals whose DNA have been altered are known as genetically modified organisms (GMOs). One may wish to know if organic products contain GMOs. Organic foods are not supposed to contain GMOs. For example, organic livestock are supposed to be given organic feed and not antibiotics, growth hormones or fed animal by-products. Accumulated build-up of pesticide (chemicals like fungicides, herbicides and insecticides) exposure in our bodies (residues of these chemicals remain in the food we eat) may lead to health problems like headaches, birth defects (pesticides can be passed from mother to child in the womb), diseases of the nervous systems and various kinds of cancer – due to the build-up of strain or the weakened immune system. The competition between organic or natural foods and genetically modified food preparations (containing GMOs) is getting stiffer nowadays. While there is a growing demand for organic food products despite its expensive price – in the case of genetically modified food preparations, more areas of land in US and in other countries are also being devoted to the planting of genetically modified (GM) crops like corn, soybeans and other agricultural products. The proponents of GMO products as well as those against such products both have the opportunity to sell their ideas as well as their products to the public. In the final analysis, it is the consumer who should be given the final option whether to patronize GMO products – especially food. This is what democracy is all about. Thus, the consumers should be guided by food labeling. Products containing genetically modified organisms (GMO) should be labeled as such. Also foods derived from GMO. This is

the growing clamor of consumers here and abroad. And rightfully so. This is also adherence to the “full disclosure” relationship between sellers and buyers. And to use a more popular term for buyers – the consumers. By the way, there are countries that consider the use of labels to inform consumers in one country as a form of trade protectionism. Simply because the use of labels may limit the ability of GMO products to gain market access in one country. Different countries may also have different definitions of what is harmful to humans, animals, or environment. The labeling of GMO products can either be initiated by the producers in the private sector or by the government. In the first case, the labeling is voluntary. In the second case, it is mandatory to protect the consumers. In mandatory GMO-labeling, private firms are held accountable for misrepresentation. In the US, there is no federal regulation requiring the mandatory labeling of GMO. What is heartening to note though is that there are legislators in individual states in US that are crafting their own labeling registration. For example, Senator Maralyn Chase of Washington State has sponsored a bill that would require both raw GMOs and processed foods containing GMOs to be properly labeled beginning July 2014. For healthy foods and for healthy living, consumers should be up-to-date of the latest in food labeling. Be joyful always!‐shift‐in‐food‐preferences/                       

Solons push for standardized ATM rates by Ellson Quismorio September 28, 2013 (updated)

Minority congressmen have filed a measure that calls for the provision of a standard rate of transaction fees and charges on automated teller machines (ATMs). Authored by Bayan Muna Reps. Carlos Zarate and Neri Colmenares, House Bill 2105 would also require the posting of a notice of the said fees and charges on ATMs’ screens and monitors prior to the completion of any transaction. The proposal was filed in the House of Representatives (HoR) amid the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) announcement Thursday that it would soon issue an order halting banks from hiking interbank ATM transaction fees. The action, which originated from the BSP’s Monetary Board, is pending a review on disclosure requirements to consumers and the actual costs incurred by banks. The two Makabayan bloc solons noted that banks like Banco De Oro, Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. and sister firm Philippine Savings Bank are set to increase their ATM fees beginning October 1.

The Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), on the other hand, jacked up its fees last year. “We want the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to explain even last year’s ATM increase, particularly by the BPI. Congress should immediately look into these increases,” Zarate said. BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. earlier said that banks are free to impose whatever transaction fee they believe compensates them for the delivery of service but stressed such fees should always be transparent. The BSP also issued an earlier regulatory adjustment discontinuing the practice of compensating the banks with interest income for holding in reserve a portion of their deposits heightened the need to hike the ATM transactions. “Banks already earn profits when the salaries and wages of workers are coursed through them by employers, they should not further extract profit from the workers who need every peso of their earnings,” Zarate noted.‐push‐for‐standardized‐atm‐rates/                               

‘Economy may grow by as much as 9%’ By Amy R. Remo Philippine Daily Inquirer 10:31 pm | Friday, September 27th, 2013 0 208 164 The Philippine economy may grow by as much as 9 percent by the end of this decade once the government puts an end to the ongoing armed conflict in Mindanao and addresses the issues surrounding the implementation of the Mining Act. Richard Martin, managing director of consultancy firm IMA Asia, made this optimistic forecast during the general membership meeting of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) on Friday. Martin cited the tremendous potential of the country given the current robust economic growth. “We can see the Philippines growing by 6.5 to 7 percent by the end of the decade. But if you fix the insurrection in Mindanao, the issues of the mineral sector and, if you open more for business, you can have an 8 to 9 percent growth. [The Philippines] has the capacity to do it. It’s just a matter of removing the roadblocks,” Martin explained. In particular, he pointed to the ongoing standoff in Zamboanga, which could adversely affect the economy and foreign investors’ perception of the country. “It is an issue because there is so much potential in the south of this country that, if you can open up the peace talks [and resolve the conflicts], it can bring in more investments. I don’t see this knocking over the Philippines, but it slows down the country. If you can fix this, you can do much better,” Martin explained. As it is, the Philippines, with its 7.5-percent gross domestic product growth in the second quarter of the year, has attracted the attention of many companies across the globe, Martin said. Add to that is the throng of good news about the Philippines, which has “gone up to investment grade rating” courtesy of Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poors. Martin also mentioned the sturdiness of the peso and a President who remains popular. “We’re getting the investment numbers up and [the Philippines] is moving towards the right direction,” Martin yesterday told the members of MAP. “The game to play over the next five years is to make sure you remain on an investment grade rating and to have sound proposals for the utilization of capital on the ground. Money will come,” Martin stressed.

He further waxed optimistic that fixed investments in the country would continue to rise and could even go up to as much as 25 percent of the country’s GDP. At that point, however, the country needs to beef up its capacity in terms of power and infrastructure. The country may also experience a boost in manufacturing as many foreign companies are “desperate for factory capacity.”‐may‐grow‐by‐as‐much‐as‐9                                         

BSP urges creation of new benchmarks for loans Philippine Daily Inquirer 10:29 pm | Friday, September 27th, 2013 0 1 0 The central bank has moved for the creation of new benchmarks for loans in the country that would be more transparent and less prone to manipulation, to preserve the integrity of the local banking industry. In a statement on Friday, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said the policy-making Monetary Board had approved new rules on the banks’ valuation of government debt paper, which serves as a guide for the cost of money in the country. Under the new guidelines, yields on government securities should be valued in a bank’s books based on yields for actual or “done” transactions. The new approach replaces the previous method of pricing debt paper based on bids made by banks and other market players. “The changes are meant to better reflect market valuation for said instruments by promoting price consistency and enhancing price discovery,” the BSP said. The previous valuation guideline made the distinction between benchmark and non-benchmark securities. The former used actual rates in the secondary market. The latter, however, was valued on the books of the banks by averaging benchmark bonds. There are 12 benchmark government security tenors in the country: the one-month, three-month, six-month, one-year, two-year, three-year, four-year, five-year, seven-year, 10-year, 20-year, and 25-year tenor buckets. Government securities, which carry low yields and are considered risk-free assets, are used as benchmarks for all other loans extended by banks. Securities whose remaining tenors fall within these tenor buckets are considered benchmark bonds, while those that cannot be slotted in them are non-benchmark securities. In the absence of “done” rates, the GS for a particular tenor bucket would be valued using a simple average of the bid rates for securities of that tenor bucket. Only in the absence of “done” and bid rates will the yields of GS be “interpolated” or averaged using benchmark rates. “The enhancement of the valuation guidelines for GS is essential to developing the country’s capital markets,” the BSP said.

Earlier this year, BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. said the use of “done” rates was vital to avoid manipulation by market players. He cited the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) scandal—exposed in 2008—where banks inflated or deflated their bid prices for loans to increase their profits. The Libor benchmark is calculated using the average interest rate bids for overnight transactions among the Londons’ top banks. The method of getting “done” rates, Tetangco said, would also be used for the creation of the BSP’s so-called Overnight Index Swap (OIS), which is envisioned as a unified benchmark for the cost of credit that the entire industry could follow. The OIS would work similar to the Libor, except that “done” rates would be averaged instead of bid prices. Paolo G. Montecillo‐urges‐creation‐of‐new‐benchmarks‐for‐loans                                   

GSIS policyholders ordered to encash memorial plans By Michelle V. Remo Philippine Daily Inquirer 10:27 pm | Friday, September 27th, 2013

The Government Service Insurance System has asked its memorial plan holders to convert their policies into cash as it aims to engage less in its noncore functions. In a statement, the GSIS said memorial plan holders have until Dec. 31 to convert their policies into cash. The GSIS decided to extend the deadline by four months to enable more members to surrender their memorial plans. According to Robert Vergara, president and general manager of GSIS, the government pension believes that it may not be able to sustain its memorial plan business in the future, that is why it hopes to disengage from the trade. The GSIS also thinks it prudent to focus on its core function, which is to provide pension plans to its members. “The GSIS is implementing the exit mechanism to protect our memorial plan holders from problems that may arise in the future and to pay for their other expenses,� Vergara said in a statement. According to the state firm, memorial plan holders may recover anywhere between 100 percent and 150 percent of the contract price of their plans depending on the type. GSIS members who are qualified to avail themselves of the Enhanced Optional Exit Mechanism (EOEM) are policyholders who have fully paid their accounts, and who have not yet received memorial benefits. A total of 3,981 plan holders have so far converted their memorial policies into cash. Plan holders who wish to apply for the EOEM are required to submit a fully accomplished application form; photocopy of the GSIS Memorial Plan Agreement; photocopies of two valid government-issued IDs from the policyholder; and certificate of full payment, if any. Application forms are available at any GSIS branch office. It may also be downloaded from the GSIS website at

Meantime, the GSIS likewise announced that active members who have not yet availed themselves of the one-time educational loan assistance (EAL) have until Dec. 27 to apply. All active members, regardless of salary grade, length of service, and status of agency and member accounts, are entitled to apply for the EAL worth P4,000. Eligible members may file their application for EAL over the counter or through their agency’s liaison officer. EAL carries an interest rate 6 percent per annum, and is payable in 59 months for P20 a month or P240 qa year. The GSIS said it has so far released P2.49 billion worth of educational loans since the EAL program started in 2012.‐policyholders‐ordered‐to‐encash‐memorial‐plans                                 

In Sept., inflation may range from 1.9%-2.8% Central bank cites stable prices of fuel, food  By Paolo G. Montecillo   10:04 pm | Friday, September 27th, 2013  

Inflation likely stayed below the central bank’s target range for the sixth consecutive month due to the lower price of gasoline and stable food prices. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. on Friday said inflation may have settled between 1.9 and 2.8 percent in September, after hitting a four-year low of 2.1 percent in August. “Prices of premium gasoline declined while prices of vegetables and fish stabilized after the monsoon rains,” Tetangco told reporters. “However, price increases in rice, selected oil products, and electricity rates were noted during the month,” he added. If inflation falls within the forecast range, this would mark the sixth straight month that the rate of price increases would be below 3 percent, which is the low end of the BSP’s target of 3 to 5 percent this year. The inflation rate was last above 3 percent in March at 3.2 percent. Benign inflation pressures give the BSP’s Monetary Board space to keep interest rates at record lows to support the country’s growing economy. “The BSP will continue to closely monitor the developments that shape the outlook in prices and economic activity to ensure that monetary policy is directed at safeguarding price stability in an environment of sustained economic growth,” Tetangco said. The central bank’s benchmark overnight borrowing and lending rates currently stand at record lows of 3.5 percent and 5.5 percent. The Philippine economy was the fastest growing Southeast Asian market in the first half of the year after expanding by 7.6 percent. If sustained throughout the year, the country would beat the government’s own growth forecast of 6 to 7 percent for 2013. The likely low inflation for September comes despite the 30-percent increase in the amount of money circulating in the economy in July following restrictions on the use of individual investors of the central bank’s Special Deposit Accounts (SDA).‐sept‐inflation‐may‐range‐from‐1‐9‐2‐8 

MB orders status quo on bank service fees September 27, 2013 3:07 pm  

by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO REPORTER The Monetary Board (MB) of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) ordered banks to maintain the status quo for their service fees, particularly automated teller machines (ATM) charges. “This is about the hike in ATM charges that some banks have started to announced, which would based on those announcements take affect some as early as October 1, some in mid October, some in early November,” BSP Deputy Governor for Supervision and Examination Sector Nestor Espenilla said. He revealed that the Monetary Board approved the issuance of a memorandum instructing the banks to maintain the status quo in both service fees and their connectivity arrangements pending completion of a study. “Yes, so status quo, from where you are today, don’t change anything . . .” the BSP official said pertaining to banks. Espenilla added that the MB decided that there is room to study further whether the increases in bank’s service fee are warranted. He noted that the board instructed the BSP to have consultations with the industry to conduct a review of the disclosure practices, competition policy, and consumer protection and other issues as they apply to ATM transactions. The BSP official mentioned that the central bank is going to have a complete review of the arrangements, and is addressing the bank’s moves as a consumer protection issue. “So a study is required so we can balance the various interests, because the BSP recognizes that banks have to cover their cost of operation. But at the same time, consumers also must be protected on the reasonableness of their access and the cost of that access to the ATM networks,” the BSP official said. He added that the study will determine what works best for the common good, and not only for stakeholders but for the public. “We will be looking at disclosure practices, competition policy and consumer protection issues . . . That will also include interoperability arrangements of banks. In fact, that is the subject matter of the memorandum,” he said.

Asked for the timeframe of the study, Espenilla said that the MB is actually “open-ended,” until the study is completed, however, there is urgency on the part of the BSP and the industry to conduct and complete such study. Meanwhile, Bankers Association of the Philippines President Lorenzo Tan said that the group will consult its members to arrive at a uniform consensus on the matter. “However, each member bank will have its own particular justification in pricing of ATM services,” Tan said.

Food firms among top Manila taxpayers September 27, 2013 3:02 pm  

by KRISTYN NIKA M. LAZO REPORTER Eating outside of home help food establishments pay higher taxes to the government, according to latest data from the Department of Finance (DOF) and Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) Tax Watch Series. Some notable top taxpayers in Manila include branches and franchisees of Jollibee, Max’s Restaurant, McDonald’s and Chowking. Two Jollibee units were included on the list—one in Vito Cruz branch which accounted a total of P1.3 million in income taxes and another franchisee, Jetsan Food Corp. which paid P161,380. Max’s Restaurant franchisee HP Foods Services Inc. paid P613,673, while McDonald’s Masangkay branch paid P87,028 and Chowking franchisee Drinks Unlimited Inc. paid P67,044. Other novelty restaurants in Manila which also paid high taxes were Figaro Coffee main unit AMV Business Specialists (P1.19 million), Pancake House franchisee PCK-MTB Inc. (P771,887), ChicBoy (P50,056), Mang Inasal (P200,715). Fancy restaurant Aristocrat was also included in the top taxpayers with two of its unit on the list—Alex and Engracia Legacy Corp. with P479,176 and Aristocrat Franchise Corp. with P416,748. The 2011 top taxpayers in Manila came from different areas of the city such Intramuros, Ermita, Malate, Binondo, San Nicolas, Tondo, Santa Cruz, Quiapo, Sampaloc, Santa Mesa, San Miguel, Paco, Pandacan, Santa Ana and San Andres. The 10 restaurants that paid highest income taxes in combined parts of Manila were: Courseline Café (P1.9 million), Jollibee Vito Cruz branch (P1.3 million), Bayview Park Hotel (P1.208 million), Metrocircles Inc. (P1.207 million), Figaro Coffee franchisee AVM Business Specialists (P1.19 million), Romelie’s Coffee Shop (P1.07 million), Harbor View Restaurant (P954,124), Rap Steaks and Cakes (P907,844), Feb Cuisine Corp. (P891,964) and CK2 Food and Beverages Services (P798,310).

Northern Luzon raises optimism over rice stocks By Jessica M. Bacud | Posted 16 hours ago | 47 views Cauayan City — Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Irrigation administrator Claro Maranan recently led the Grand Rice Harvest Festival here on a note of optimism to fill up warehouses despite recent typhoons and monsoon rain that swept across central and northern Luzon and Cagayan Valley. “There’s nothing to worry,” said manager Mariano Dancel of the Magat River Integrated Irrigated System.

National Irrigation Administration Chief Claro Maranan (center) leads the harvest in Isabela joined by MARIIS operation manager Mariano Dancel and division manager Eduardo Ramos. LITO N. MANANES He made the assessment before Maranan based on the showing of farms covered by Division I Engr. Eduardo Ramos, DII Engr. Pedro Dalawampu, DIII Engr. William Oppuer and DIV Engr. Jose Soliven. House Deputy Speaker Giorgidi Aggabao, 4th district and Rep. Ana Go, 2nd district were joined in the festival by Regional Irrigation Manager Vicente Galvez, NIA–MARIIS Dam and reservoir Division Manager Engr. Florentino Baniqued, DA Regional Director Lucrecio Alviar, National Food Authority Administrator Orlan Calayag along with Roxas Mayor Benedict Calderon, Ramon Mayor Wilfredo Tabag, San Mateo Vice Mayor Roberto Agcaoili, San Mariano Vice Mayor Edgar Go, and Santiago City Administrator Armando Tan. Magat irrigation serves more than 82,000 hectares of farmland mostly in Isabela, making the province an emerging rice granary of the country. The food authority earlier assured Isabela and neighboring localities of ample stock as the agency started buying palay and corn at the onset of the seasonal harvest.

Atrocious ATM fees Published : Saturday, September 28, 2013 00:00   Article Views : 54   Written by : People's Journal  

Banks don’t want the party to stop – at least from their end. Sure, everybody can come, tap into their money machines, and have a good time. But they have to pay – it’s not an open-bar party, you know. Don’t look now, but banks even want to raise the “access” fee. This to us is ridiculous because using automated teller machines nowadays is generally considered part of the “regular course of business” of most global banks. It’s like free “wi-fi” offered by most food and beverage establishments – it’s supposed to be considered part of the service, stupid! Quite thankfully, the Bangko Sentral saw through the unabashed corporate greed of banks. The BSP announced it would issue the equivalent of a temporary restraining order to stop banks from hiking ATM fees next month. The BSP on Thursday said its policy-making Monetary Board approved the issuance of a memorandum to stop banks from hiking inter-bank ATM transaction fees, pending a review on disclosure requirements to consumers and the actual costs incurred by banks, among other factors. “(The hike in fees) has a broader impact on the welfare of consumers because ATM usage affects a wide range of people,” BSP Deputy Gov. Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. was quoted by a major broadsheet as telling reporters. “A study is required so we can balance the various interests here. The BSP recognizes that banks, as businesses, need to recover costs, but consumers also ought to be protected.” The status quo order would be issued as soon as BSP Gov. Amando M. Tetangco Jr. signs the BSP memorandum this week, Espenilla said. Several of the country’s largest banks have already announced plans to increase fees for certain ATM bank transactions sometime in October and November. Consumers can use the ATMs of their so-called “mother banks” for free. However, banks charge those who are not their own customers for using their automated teller machines.

Among the banks that have announced plans to increase ATM usage fees is the country’s leading lender BfO Unibank Inc. The banking unit of tycoon Henry Sy would implement its fee hike for withdrawals on November 4. Other banks that plan to hike fees include Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. and sister firm Philippine Savings Bank. The hike would take effect on October 1. Bank of the Philippine Islands implemented its own fee hike late last year. While a bank holds the right to seek a court injunction to question the legality of the status quo order, the BSP, as the industry’s regulator, has the primary jurisdiction over the businesses of banks, Espenilla stressed. For its part, the Bankers Association of the Philippines said it would consult its members before coming up with a consensus on how to approach the matter. BAP president Lorenzo Tan, head of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., said individual BAP members would have their own justification in pricing their ATM services. “The BSP believes we have the basis, as bank supervisor, to make such instructions,” he said. Tan cited sections 4 and 5 of the country’s General Banking Law, which gives the BSP the power to issue rules on the conduct or establishment of standards for banks. The BSP also has the authority to set limitations and directions on the different types of practices of banks and quasi-banks.


2013 09 28 quedancor daily news monitor