No more rice importation this year — NFA By Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 7, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Ignoring a blueprint from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) that would address high rice prices and “possibly lower them,” the National Food Authority (NFA) has announced it will no longer import rice this year. NFA administrator Orlan Calayag made the announcement on Tuesday despite a memorandum for President Aquino from NEDA on Sept. 10 recommending an “immediate importation of half a million metric tons of rice to address the supply gap and stabilize prices.” The memo, written by NEDA director-general Arsenio Balisacan and copy furnished to NFA chairperson and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, warned that “even if rice production recovers in the last quarter of 2013, deficits are expected to be incurred from as low as 0.5 million MT to as high as 1.4 million MT.” Despite the NEDA recommendation, Calayag, in a statement released Tuesday, said the government “has no plans to import an additional volume of rice for this year.” Balisacan could not be reached for comment. Balisacan, a former Department of Agriculture undersecretary, had in previously published papers stressed the importance of “relieving the NFA of the burden of handling rice imports” because of the possibility of corruptiontainted transactions. Calayag’s statement also contradicted NEDA forecasts on rice production shortfalls. The country’s independent economic development and planning agency estimates local rice production to hit 18.45 million MT – a figure less than the 20 million MT the DA maintains necessary to meet the needs of the country’s 97 million people. NEDA’s estimates are consistent with the DA’s Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, whose head, Assistant Secretary Romeo Recide, testified in Congress that local rice production would hit 18.45 million MT. Recide also testified that the country would need an additional half a million tons of rice to meet local demand for 2013. Despite the disparity in numbers, Calayag said “current rice inventories and the incoming bulk of the main harvest are already enough for the country’s requirements.” Alcala has repeatedly claimed that the county would be able to produce 20 million metric tons of rice this year and that the country will be rice self-sufficient by the end of 2013.
Despite assurances from the DA and NFA that rice prices would stabilize by September, the prices of regular and well-milled rice continued to hit record highs in September. According to data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, the average retail price per kilo of regular milled rice for September 2013 was recorded at P36 – the highest this year or P4 more than pre-lean season prices and P3.60 per kilo more than in the same period last year. The average retail price per kilo of well-milled rice likewise hit an annual high, with prices pegged at P39.2 per kilo, P4 more than pre-lean season prices and P3.70 per kilo more than in September 2012.
Cha a-cha needed to plug loop pholes s in fund d disb burse ementt — M Miriam m By Christin na Mendez (The e Philippine Star) | Updated October O 7, 2013 3 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines P - Sen. S Miriam De efensor-Santia ago yesterdayy said that Cha arter change (C Cha-cha) migh ht be needed to plug the loopholes in the diisbursement of o public fundss, following the e controversiess hounding the e Aquino administration in n connection with w the alleged d misuse of po ork barrel fund ds and the Dissbursement Acceleratio on Program (D DAP). “The Cons stitution must detail d the proc cedure by whic ch transparenccy can be achieved,” Santia ago said over d dzBB radio, refe erring to the ap pparent lack off transparency y in the use of funds not covvered by the annual national budget. “I have alw ways been aga ainst Constituttion change fo or the sake of cchange becau use the Constitution must, byy definition, be a permane ent document. (But) our Con nstitution sayss it is anti-corru uption. It is pro o transparencyy,” she added d. Santiago noted n that rece ent political de evelopments could c usher ch hanges in the 1 1987 Constitution. A case in n point is the repo orted anomalie es in the use of o pork barrel funds f and DAP P that have fanned public ou utrage. She also stressed s that even e the use of o savings und der the nationa al budget can b be a subject o of constitutiona al amendments.
“All of these continue to fan public outrage against the unconscionable theft of public funds,” she said. “Just as we do not need climate change, we need climate change in Philippine politics,” she added. Eradicating political dynasties is another reason why Santiago wants Charter change. “What kind of Constitution is this? It provides that political dynasties shall not be allowed and then those at the House of Representatives and the Senate are composed of dynasties,” she stressed. She also said that “the Constitution should be amended so that only taxpayers would be allowed to vote” because in this way, taxpayers would be in the majority and would have the power to choose which of the candidates to vote for positions of fiscal responsibility like the senators.
Gov v’t spe endin ng P14 4.3 M for N Noy’s trips for APEC A C, Ase ean su ummiits By Alexis Romero R (The Philippine P Star) | Updated October 7, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines P - The T government will spend P14.3 P million fo for President A Aquino’s attendance in key regional su ummits in Indo onesia and Brunei. The amount covers the trip expenses of Aquino and d his 84-memb ber official delegation from O Oct. 6 to 10. Executive Secretary Paq quito Ochoa Jr. said the exp penses include e transportatio on, accommod dation, food an nd equipmentt. “Presidentt Aquino is exp pected to sharre a number off Philippine iniitiatives during g the schedule ed meetings in n Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam,” Ochoa O said. “Some of these t will be on o the areas of environmenttal protection a and climate ch hange mitigatio on, food securrity, women an nd the econom my, infrastructu ure investmentt, among othe rs,” he added.. Aquino yesterday left for Bali to attend d the 21st Asia a-Pacific Econ nomic Coopera ation (APEC) leaders’ meett from Oct. 6 to 8. 8
Aquino is expected to reaffirm the country’s commitment to enhance regional cooperation during the conference. Aquino and his delegation left around 8 a.m. on a chartered Philippine Airlines flight. Among Cabinet officials in the delegation were Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Presidential Management Staff head Julia Abad and presidential protocol chief Celia Anna Feria. Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and Communications Secretary Ramon Carandang are also part of the delegation but flew to Indonesia earlier. In his departure speech, Aquino expressed confidence the world leaders would be able to come up with measures that would strengthen their cooperation. “We will continue to strengthen our relations with Indonesia and other neighboring countries towards a stronger economy,” he said. Aquino also vowed to invite foreign businessmen to invest in the Philippines. “We will convince them that the Philippines is a worthy destination not just for tourism but also for growing their business,” he said. Aquino yesterday attended the APEC CEO summit as a panelist on inclusive growth along with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Peru President Ollanta Humala. Business leaders in the region attended the summit. Aquino was also scheduled to meet with members of the APEC Business Advisory Council and counterparts from the other 20 member-economies of APEC. Participants of the summit are expected to develop policies aimed at improving the business environment in the region. After attending the APEC meetings, Aquino will fly to Brunei for the 23rd ASEAN summit from Oct. 9 to 10. The President is expected to participate in at least nine different meetings between the ASEAN and Japan, the Republic of Korea, China, the United States and the United Nations.
Tho ose wh ho miisused DAP to b be held liable By Alexis Romero R (The Philippine P Star) | Updated October 7, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines P - Malacañang M ye esterday assurred the public that those wh ho misused the e funds for the e Disbursem ment Accelerattion Program (DAP) ( – which h has been desscribed by som me sectors ass illegal – woulld be held accou untable. But deputy y presidential spokesperson s n Abigail Valte said solid pie eces of evidencce are needed d to file cases in court. “Those inv volved in the misuse, m most certainly c (will be b made acco untable),” Valtte said when a asked what the government would do if it is establishe ed that DAP was w misused. “Even in th he cases relative to the 2007 7-2009 audit of o lawmakers’ Priority Devellopment Assisstance Fund (PDAF), th hose charged by the Department of Justic ce are those w with tangible an nd real eviden nce that tends to support their prosecution. What is imp portant is whatt we will prove e to the court,”” Valte said. The DAP became b contro oversial after Sen. S Jinggoy Estrada E claime ed that those who voted to impeach former chief justic ce Renato Corrona were give en P50 million in additional ffunding.
Estrada, who voted for Corona’s ouster, is facing a plunder case before the Ombudsman for his supposed involvement in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, however, said that the funds were meant to promote economic activity and not to influence senators to convict Corona. He said the DAP was meant to “ramp up government expenditures in the wake of sluggish spending,” adding that DAP funds were distributed to state agencies and projects endorsed by lawmakers. Abad said the DAP releases came from the overall savings of the national government, which include unprogrammed funds generated from windfall revenue collections, unreleased appropriations from slow-moving projects, terminated programs based on evaluation of zero-based budgeting and the withdrawal of unused allotments already released to agencies. The DAP issue has triggered calls for President Aquino to give up what they called “presidential pork.” Officials, however, said the President needs funds for unforeseen circumstances like the Zamboanga crisis. Malacañang later on suspended the DAP allotted to lawmakers’ projects after admitting that the funds may have been misused. The DAP for state agencies, however, will still be released due to the supposed positive impact of their projects. “I think it’s very clear that there is a problem,” Communications Secretary Ramon Carandang told reporters last week. “I think the responsible thing to do is to suspend that portion of the program, which has been seen to have had some questionable benefits,” he said. Malacañang could not say whether the suspension on the DAP of lawmakers would be lifted. “It’s hard to answer the hypothetical. For now, what I can say is the release (of DAP) has been suspended. I cannot say what conditions should be met for these to be released again,” Valte said. Valte said the DAP has helped the country maintain its economic growth. “In fact, several third-party institutions have also noted the help that DAP was able to give or the boost that it was able to give,” she said.
Colllectorrs urg ged to o heed d call for Cus stoms s reforrms By Zinnia Dela D Peña (The e Philippine Sta ar) | Updated October O 7, 2013 3 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines P - Finance F Secrettary Cesar Purisima has urg ged protesting g officials of the e Bureau of Customs (BOC) ( to heed d President Aq quino’s call for reforms in the e graft-tainted agency. Purisima is ssued this statement after th he Manila Reg gional Trial Co ourt extended for 17 days a 72-hour temporary restraining g order earlier granted to 14 BOC collecto ors who had be een ordered trransferred to a newly create ed office unde er the Departm ment of Financ ce. The TRO, which remains in effect until Oct. 20, prev vents the BOC C from reassig gning its districct collectors to o the Customs Policy P Researc ch Office (CPR RO) as part off the reforms b being initiated by the bureau u. Created under Executive e Order 140, the t CPRO is ta asked with revviewing tariff a and customs a administration policies. “Presidentt Aquino’s que est to stamp ou ut corruption across a many in nstitutions is a long and cha allenging task, and at times it will be difficultt for all of us. To T our colleag gues in the BO OC, I call on yo ou to share ou ur President’s vision and accep pt your orders with nobility,” Purisima said.
The 14 BOC collectors questioned the powers of the Customs commissioner to transfer them to the CPRO, an office whose principal purpose is research and policy formulation that they claimed is inconsistent with their job description. They also cited lack of due process and violation of their respective statutory and constitutional right to security of tenure. The 14 petitioners were former Port of Cebu Collector Edward dela Cuesta, Port of Manila Collector Rogel Gatchalian, NAIA Collector Carlos So, Ronnie Silvestre, Raymond Ventura, Ma. Liza Torres, Arnel Alcarez, Ma. Lourdes Mangaoang, Francis Agustin Erpe, Marietta Zamoranos, Imelda Cruz, Romalino Valdez, Arifeles Carreon, and Lilibeth Sandag. Purisima said the extension of the TRO would only hamper reform efforts. “The Manila RTC’s most recent decision serves those who resist reform and cling desperately to the old ways. This runs counter to President Aquino’s agenda to eradicate the predators that plague Customs and prey not just on businesses but on our balikbayans returning from abroad who are hassled for their personal effects,” he pointed out. Purisima also emphasized that the transfer was not in any way a demotion or dismissal contrary to previous allegations, saying the officials were selected due to their rich experience and extensive training in customs policy and operation. “In preparing for our goal to be the most competitive economy for ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) economic integration in 2015, it is important that we have intellectual leadership to guide our customs policy-making,” Purisima said. “The CPRO officials will continue to enjoy the remuneration due their rank and seniority. Their salary and benefits will not be reduced. The assignment to form the CPRO is the furthest thing from a demotion or dismissal – it is a call for these officials to take a greater part in revitalizing the bureau.”
Typhoon Ramil to graze g Phl By Helen Flores F (The Phiilippine Star) | Updated U Octob ber 7, 2013 - 12 2:00am
MANILA, Philippines P - Typhoon T Ramil (international code name D Danas) yesterrday entered th he Philippine a area of respons sibility but was s not expected d to hit land, th he state weath er bureau said d. Ramil is th he 18th tropica al cyclone to enter e the counttry this year an nd the first we eather disturba ance this montth, according to the Philippiine Atmospheric, Geophysic cal and Astron nomical Servicces Administra ation (PAGASA A). In its 4 p.m m. bulletin, PA AGASA said th he eye of the typhoon t was sspotted at 1,17 70 kilometers e east of Itbayatt, Batanes with w maximum sustained win nds of 130 kilometers per ho our near the ce enter and gusttiness of up to o 160 kph. It was fore ecast to move e northwest at 26 kph. The weather bureau sa aid Ramil may stay in the country for only a day. It is predic cted to be 800 0 km northeastt of Itbayat or outside the co ountry this afte ernoon. PAGASA weather w division chief Robe ert Sawi said Ramil R has a sli m chance of m making landfall and its trackk would dep pend on the mo ovement of Ty yphoon Queda an, which exite ed the Philippi nes last Saturrday. But the inttertropical convergence zone will bring raiins over Palaw wan, Visayas a and Mindanao o in the next fe ew days.
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Noy y at AP PEC, guara antee es inclusive e grow wth By Delon Porcalla P (The Philippine P Star) | Updated October 7, 2013 - 12:00am
President Aquino listens s to a question n during a panel discussion at the 2013 A APEC CEO Summit in Bali, Indonesia yesterday. BALI – We ealth for all, no ot only for the privileged few w. President Aquino gave the t assurance e yesterday shortly after his arrival on this Indonesian re esort island for the start of the e 21st Asia-Pa acific Economic Cooperation n (APEC) lead ders’ meeting. Aquino, in a “summit conversation,” guaranteed inc clusive growth across all secctors in the Ph hilippines. In the event held at the Westin W Hotel, where Aquino o and Peruvian n President Ollanta Humala a attended a fo orum moderated d by Linda Yue eh, the President said times s have change ed as the econ nomy should n no longer be measured based on “we ealth collective ely amassed.” “More and d more, the tas sk of governme ents has beco ome ensuring tthat this wealtth is not conce entrated in the hands of the few, but ratther that it is equitably e utilize ed to raise levvels of human development,,” Aquino told the crowd in a prepared spe eech.
Aquino cited his three-year administration as example, where endemic corruption has been and is still being addressed, and where reproductive health and sin tax laws have been passed, for the purpose of lifting the standard of living of the most impoverished. “We engender a situation wherein the broader base of society can benefit from opportunities opening up through economic growth. Without these factors, a nation may perhaps experience periods of cyclical growth; any progress, however, will be prone to disruption,” Aquino warned. “Why does inclusive growth matter? First: Inclusiveness matters because it ensures the stability of societies, and consequently, the sustainability of growth. The equation for sustainability is also integral to a second, perhaps, more important aspect,” he said. Aquino pointed out that in the Philippines, his administration had focused a substantial amount of the national budget to fund social services in education, health and poverty alleviation in advocating inclusive growth. The conditional cash transfer program benefits four million families and has expanded its scope to include families with children in high school as “there is a 40 percent increase in income for those who finished high school versus elementary graduates.” Aquino added that providing the opportunity for all Filipinos to learn by providing more classrooms, textbooks, chairs and tables; and the introduction of a new school curriculum “will increase the competitiveness of our graduates in the global arena.” “I signed into law two bills that have languished in Congress for years: The RH (Reproductive Health) law and the Sin Tax Reform Act. These will certainly accelerate our Universal Health Care agenda, which we continue to aggressively pursue,” Aquino said. “These are direct government interventions that we are pursuing as a proactive way of encouraging the equitable distribution of wealth - part of a concerted plan to ensure that all sectors take part in economic growth and partake in the prosperity it brings,” he said.
No exten e sion of terrm forr P-No oy By Delon Porcalla P (The Philippine P Star) | Updated October 7, 2013 - 12:00am
BALI – Prresident Aquin no is determine ed to step dow wn after his fiixed six-year tterm expires in n June 2016. At a “sum mmit conversattion” yesterdayy, Aquino said he expected to hand over tthe presidencyy to a successsor whom Fili pinos want to continue the rreforms he inittiated. A Taiwane ese businessm man, noting th he difference in n the Philippine es between the e early 1990s and the prese ent, asked the e President ho w the improvin ng economy ccould be sustain ned if pro-poor programs wo ould be halted if he failed to sseek a second term. Aquino re eplied that he w would “probab bly not” try to sseek re-election n. He had the e summit conv versation with Peruvian Pres sident Ollanta Humala at the Westin Hote el here, where heads of state s are attending the annual 21st Asia-P Pacific Econom mic Cooperatio on (APEC) lea aders’ summit.. “Beyond 2016, 2 if our peo ople are so us sed to this type e of governancce, then whoe ever will portra ay themselves as continuing g the policies we w have set, will w be the one to get into offiice,” Aquino sa aid. “At the end d of the day, our o mantra is, the bosses ulttimately are ou ur people, and d they will decide and they w will choose the e person and the t entity that will hopefully continue the p policies we ha ave started,” he added. Aquino als so cited the ris sks of being in power for a lo ong time, poin ting to the late e strongman F Ferdinand Marrcos who kept himself h in pow wer for 20 yearrs until 1986 - the reason the e next governm ment prohibite ed extending terms of office. “What is th he best reason n for a one-terrm presidency? There are de ecisions espe ecially for an em merging economy like ours, an a emerging country c like ours that may no ot be political, shall we say, palatable or p politically corre ect but are ne ecessary,” Aqu uino said. He explain ned that a pres sident should not be preocc cupied with ple easing everybo ody to ensure reelection.
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Joke er to DBM: Explain u use off P127 7-B DAP P By Christin na Mendez (The e Philippine Star) | Updated October O 7, 2013 3 - 12:00am
‘Budget dictatorship’ d slammed s MANILA, Philippines P - Former F senator Joker Arroyo o wants Budge et Secretary F Florencio Abad d to make publlic the utilization of Disburseme ent Acceleratio on Program (D DAP) funds, esstimated to ha ave reached ovver P127 billio on from 2011 to 2012. “Nobody knows k how the e DAP funds, amounting a to P72 P billion in 2 2011 and P55 billion in 2012 2, were spent.. They should exp plain before th hey file cases against a so ma any people,” A rroyo told radiio dzBB yesterday. He challen nged Abad to explain e how th he multibillion--peso funds we ere used in the last three ye ears instead of hiding beh hind a 24-year-old administra ative code as legal cover. “The gove ernment keeps s on filing case es but they sho ould first look a at themselvess in the mirror. Do they even n have a list of wh here the DAP funds f went?” Arroyo A said. He slammed the defens se of administrration allies tha at the DAP is legal, citing an n administrativve code passe ed during the term of Presid dent Aquino’s late mother, former f Preside ent Corazon A Aquino.
Arroyo, who was executive secretary during Mrs. Aquino’s regime, noted that the administrative order was not used when she was president from 1987 to 1992. Neither was it used during the terms of her successors, former Presidents Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. “Twenty-four years later after four presidents who did not use it, they use this as cover? What are the guidelines? What are the standards? They cannot say anything,” Arroyo said. Budget dictatorship Arroyo, who finished his last term as senator last June, lamented what he called a “budgetary dictatorship” under the present administration where “they may spend (government money) at will.” Arroyo said President Aquino’s popularity in survey ratings “does not give him license to commit any offense.” “I want Noynoy to succeed for himself, and more importantly, for the sake of the country which is now beset by many problems and the filing of cases here and there. But this DAP issue should not be covered up by the filing of such cases. This cannot be,” Arroyo said. Although the executive department has announced that the DAP will no longer be allocated for lawmakers, Arroyo said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) led by Abad cannot just arbitrarily use the funds and divert the savings somewhere else. Asked to react on reports that the DAP funds will be used for the rehabilitation of war-stricken Zamboanga City, which was seized by Moro rebels in recent weeks, Arroyo said the DBM has no authority to do so. “Whoever gave them the power to switch? That is not allowed unless there is a law that supports that,” he said. “The law says no money shall be paid out of treasury without congressional approval, otherwise we are in a dictatorship.” He also called President Aquino’s leadership style “fascist,” where anyone who protests will be slapped with fabricated complaints. “Meaning, this government cannot make a mistake,” Arroyo said. “They do not even have feelings.” The way the administration will handle funds from DAP hereon would be a test case of its sincerity on how it must deal with lump sum appropriations, he said. Arroyo batted anew for the abolition of both the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of lawmakers and the DAP. “The practice should be stopped. Even PDAF should be abolished, and then now you have this DAP, it is worse because there is no law to back it up. You cannot even annul it because it was not created by law,” Arroyo said. Criminal minds
Meanwhile, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago believes Abad can be held criminally liable for malversation of public funds or plunder for the alleged misuse of DAP funds. “Along the principle of presidential immunity, it is the secretary who has to assume criminal liability because you cannot sue the president criminally until his term is over,” Santiago told dzBB also yesterday. She described the DAP as a creation of “criminal minds.” The funds were tapped as alleged incentives for the 20 senator-judges who voted for the impeachment of former chief justice Renato Corona last year. Santiago said the “brains” behind the DAP did not foresee that these disbursements of government savings – either impounded by the DBM or returned by agencies at yearend – would be uncovered during their terms. “You can see the criminal minds of the people who thought of creating the DAP. They think that this is okay for as long as it is kept secret and confidential. The problem now is that this was uncovered,” Santiago said. Opposition Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who himself is embroiled in the alleged misuse of his PDAF from 2007 to 2009, exposed the release of P50 million in DAP funds for 20 senator-judges. Rallyists warned Santiago cautioned the public against using the demonstrations against the abuse of pork barrel funds as a means to remove President Aquino from power. She said there are those who protest against the abuse of the funds, but there are also those who want to use this opportunity to place themselves in power. “Filipinos do not like illegal or unconstitutional mode of regime change. We prefer to wait for the elections. So the power of these demonstrations will be diluted once these are used in politics,” Santiago said.
APEC leaders seek ways to foster growth By Associated Press (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 7, 2013 - 12:00am
BALI – Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is urging Asian business and political leaders to do more to counter the economic headwinds confronting developing countries by dismantling barriers to trade and investment. Yudhoyono told a regional summit that as advanced economies are speeding up after a gradual recovery from the global recession, emerging economies are slowing, dogged in some cases by trade deficits, capital flight and weakening currencies. “The advanced economies are experiencing recovery and showing faster growth while emerging economies are facing a slowdown,” he said at the annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum held amid tight security on the Indonesian resort island of Bali. “APEC is in the ideal position to help the recovery of the global economy,” said Yudhoyono, emphasizing the importance of preventing protectionism and opening markets further to maximize prosperity. His comments were consistent with a draft of the APEC leaders’ declaration, seen by The Associated Press, which is set at the end of the summit. It says the region faces the backdrop of a fragile and uneven global economic recovery and should guard against pressures to raise trade barriers. Reductions in tariffs over the past 25 years have yielded nearly $59 billion in savings for businesses, said Yudhoyono, whose own country is struggling not to lose gains that have made the world’s largest Muslim country a rising economic power in the region.
Yudhoyono said Indonesia’s recent troubles with a weakening currency and inflation were transient. “We are convinced this is a short-term challenge. Indonesia will remain a land of opportunity and growth,” he said. Singaporean prime minister Hsien Loong said that Asia is pressing ahead with reforms as the US, China and Japan – the world’s No. 1, 2 and 3 economies – grapple with their own internal issues. The APEC summit offers Indonesia a chance to showcase its own progress and possibly attract foreign investment it needs to help modernize its roads, ports, and other infrastructure. “As the chief sales person of Indonesia incorporated, let me urge you to take advantage of our opportunities,” Yudhoyono said, pointing to a potential $1.8 trillion in business prospects in a wide array of businesses. With the US bogged down in a congressional stalemate over the national budget, forcing President Barack Obama to call off his own attendance at the APEC summit, smaller economies in Asia are watching closely to see how the biggest economies fare.
Arro oyo ca amp: Aquino ad dmin coverring u up DAP P 'ano omaly y' By Louis Bacani B (philstar.com) | Update ed October 7, 2013 2 - 10:26am m
MANILA A, Philippines - The filing of plunder charges against fformer President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyyo over the e alleged Mala ampaya fund m mess is just a ccoverup of the e Aquino adm inistration for the Disbursem ment Accelera ation Program m (DAP) contro oversy, her law wyer claimed on Monday. Speakin ng to ANC Hea adstart, lawyerr Raul Lambin no question ned the timelin ness of the filin ng of charges against his client, sayying it was a way of the pressent administtration to divert public scrutiiny from the alleged DAP fun nd misuse. "'Yun an ng nakikita nam min... na itong g pagsasampa a ng kaso lab ban sa mga hindi kaalyado n ng presidente,, ito ay para i-c cover up 'yung g mga anomaly ya patungkol sa s DAP," Lam mbino said. "Bigla na lang sasampahan na naman n ng kaso si da ating Pangulo ong Gloria Arro oyo. So, sa tingin namin ito ay talagang diversionary d ta actic para maiw was na naman n sa mata ng p publiko itong m mga maling gin ngawa ng administra asyong ito," he e added. Last week k, the National Bureau of Inv vestigation filed d plunder cha rges at the Offfice of the Om mbudsman aga ainst Arroyo and d 23 others, in ncluding her fo ormer officials and alleged p pork barrel sca am mastermind d Janet LimNapoles fo or their suppos sed involveme ent in the P900 0-million Mala mpaya fund controversy. Justice Se ecretary Leila De D Lima said Arroyo A is involved in the casse for the issu uance of Execu utive Order 84 48 â€œwhich invalidly liberalize ed the exploita ation of the Ma alampaya fund d for purposess not contemp plated by existiing laws.â€?
Arroyo's camp c has insisted that the release of the e funds from the governme ent revenues from the Malampay ya natural gas s field was au uthorized under Presidentia al Decree 910 0. In a speec ch last week, President Aq quino himself said P23.33 billion of the M Malampaya fu und was alleg gedly used by th he Arroyo adm ministration fo or other purpo oses when it w was intended d for energy projects. He said th he Malampaya fund was uttilized like the e pork barrel a after P3.96 biillion went to ""priority developm ment projects" in Palawan. Arroyo's counsel c has denied d that the ere was a fun nd misuse.
"Wala naman siyang (Arroyo) kickback na natanggap. Hindi naman niya ginamit ang kanyang opisina to enrich herself," Lambino said on ANC. The plunder charges against Arroyo were filed amid the DAP controversy hounding the Aquino administration. The DAP scheme, which was introduced by the Aquino administration in 2011 to pump-prime the economy, is now being questioned for its alleged unconstitutionality. Joining other critics that include Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago and former senator Joker Arroyo, Lambino said the DAP has no legal basis, a claim that has been dismissed by the Aquino administration.
Problems and solutions A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) By Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 7, 2013 12:00am
With this administration’s intransigence in retaining the pork barrel, it looks like our country is in for a lot more of divisive and detrimental strife leading us to nowhere but back to square one in our fight against corruption. The dark outlook ahead should not however deter us from pursuing our objective to get rid of this dirty system now proven as the biggest source of graft, corruption and other wrongdoings in the government both in the past and especially now. There are still some positive aspects in what is happening now that can spur us to continue with our struggle at instituting the longed for reforms promised by P-Noy in convincing us to elect him. At least now we know that PNoy’s commitment in this regard is pure propaganda and a grand deception and that he is not about to give up his own pork despite knowing full well of the many evils and adverse effects it has on our country and our people especially the poor. So now we know that we cannot rely on him in reforming our government. Indeed, never before have we realized more clearly and convincingly than at present that the main cause of the continuing poverty in our country where only the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer, is the kind of leaders we put in office. We have so far elected only leaders who are too proud to admit their mistakes as typified by P-Noy and his cohorts now in power who stubbornly insist on pursuing their questionable and apparently illegal acts like creating the DAP and using it for the same sinister motives as the PDAF. We now know that we are still ruled by politicians engaged in transactional politics than Statesmen engaged in transformational politics. We are also aware now of our leaders who arrogantly refuse to acknowledge the truth that any government official, from the President down to the Barangay Captain, if given any discretion to use the peoples’ money, are bound to abuse it in order to promote their own selfish interests instead of the common good. And this is again exemplified by the use of the PDAF, DAP, the Malampaya fund, the social fund, the calamity funds, the intelligence funds and all sorts of other conceivable funds, as means of convincing (“bribing”) others to do their bidding or to perpetuate themselves or their party, in power. This is more commonly known as patronage politics that breeds political dynasties which in turn thrive on the ignorant mass of poor people who remain dependent on them. We have likewise discovered now that we have this kind of leaders and this kind of politics mainly because of too much power concentrated on the presidency or the Executive Department of the government. P-Noy has shown us that with his use of the pork in its official or disguised form, he can hold sway over the Legislative Department and to some extent also the judiciary whose members he appoints. Moreover with his almost absolute control over the audit and the prosecution arm of the government and even on the Ombudsman, he can see to it that none of his allies or he himself are charged and prosecuted, and that only the opposition and the past administration are prosecuted and immediately incarcerated for non-bailable offenses. Obviously, another reason for our present state of affairs coming out more clearly now, is the manner we choose our leaders and public officials. Aside from a subservient and highly politicized electoral commission now in place which has intentionally or unintentionally failed to ensure a free, orderly and honest election, it is now turning out that the automation of our election has not served its real purpose. Recently, P-Noy’s own aunt
confirmed that the 2013 Senatorial election has been rigged with the use of the same PCOS machines used in the 2010 elections, to favor the administration candidates.
So, at least now, we already know the real problems in our country. And this is indeed something positive because only in knowing the problems can we adopt adequate and effective solutions. Now we know that we should remain vigilant, as we continue with our mass actions until P-Noy and his party mates, or their successors in office finally take steps to scrap any form of pork barrel by ensuring that all government revenues are turned over to the treasury to be disbursed and spent only for such purposes, in such manner and at such places specified by the General Appropriations Act or Budget for any fiscal year. We should also remain vigilant in seeing to it that all officials involved in various pork scams recently exposed are duly prosecuted and punished according to law. Then on a longer term, we can also take initial steps towards changing our charter particularly our form of government. Since we already know that the principle of separation of powers does not work especially between the Executive and Legislative departments where the president virtually holds sway over members of Congress, it is about time we consider shifting to the parliamentary system where the Executive and Legislative Departments are merged and where we only have a unicameral body headed by a Prime Minister. The advantages here are that there will only be one House of Congress with fewer legislators elected by region who will find no need for pork thus resulting in tremendous savings. Besides, the Prime Minister is removable anytime because of peoples’ loss of confidence. Another constitutional reform covers electoral reforms for a more independent Comelec and the improvement of the quality of voters by granting the right of suffrage only to tax-paying citizens capable of voting wisely and not easily swayed by patronage politics. These are indeed changes seemingly difficult to achieve. But if we keep our strong faith and sustain our surging hope we can attain them. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
‘It’s more funds in Phl’ COMMONSENSE By Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 7, 2013 - 12:00am
President Benigno “Noy” Aquino III has embarked on the first of his three trips scheduled to take place one after the other this month. President Aquino flew yesterday to Bali, Indonesia where he is attending the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit. He immediately returns to Manila tomorrow night. On Wednesday, P-Noy flies next to Brunei Darussalam to attend the yearly Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Leaders’ Summit on October 9-10. Both the APEC and ASEAN Leaders’ Summit meetings are obligatory trips that P-Noy – who is supposed to be averse to foreign travels – has to take as part of the country’s international commitments. On Oct. 17 to 18, President Aquino will fly to Seoul for the first time to meet with his South Korean counterpart, President Park Geun-hye. The first woman President of South Korea invited P-Noy for a state visit in Seoul. For this year alone, P-Noy was out of the country on three official trips abroad. P-Noy traveled to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum (WEF) in January. He then went to Brunei for the first of the twice a year ASEAN Leaders’ summit that was held in April. The President attended the WEF on East Asia held in Myanmar last June. He had mentioned about a possible trip to Japan later in December. Before P-Noy goes to Seoul, United States President Barack Obama is supposed to come here in Manila for a state visit on October 11 and 12. However, due to the budget row between the White House and the US Congress, Mr.Obama skipped attending the APEC Summit and the East Asia Summit in Brunei. The White House also cancelled previously scheduled side trips to the Philippines and Malaysia by Mr. Obama on the way back to Washington.
While the US government shuts down without a new budget law, our government continues to operate even if Congress fails to approve a new budget law before the end of the year. As provided for in Article 6 Section 25 (7) of our country’s 1987 Constitution, the Philippine government can operate under a “reenacted” budget. Or this is the previous year’s Congress-approved budget law that automatically takes effect on day one of the new fiscal year. Thanks to that provision of the country’s Constitution crafted during the term of P-Noy’s late mother, former President Corazon Aquino, the Philippines does not face such danger of paralysis of government offices being forced to close down. Though temporary, still public services have to be suspended because simply there is no budget to pay for federal workers as in the case of the US government. But as far as P-Noy is concerned, the “re-enacted” budget has become a great source of corruption during the nine and a half years of his immediate predecessor. In his speech last week, P-Noy noted the former administration of ex-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was able to pass the budget law on time only once during her entire term. During those years the government operated under “re-enacted” budget, P-Noy deplored anew how the previous administration misused public funds and allowed his predecessor so much leeway to re-align savings, most of which lined the pockets of the corrupt.
For the past three years he has been in office, P-Noy made sure the General Appropriations Act (GAA) bill is approve by Congress early so that before December 31, he could sign this into law. So there is no more re-enacted budget. Of the three budget laws so far under his administration, P-Noy though took exception to the GAA of 2011 – a budget bill drafted by the Arroyo administration that he inherited. But in his 2012 and 2013 budget laws, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio Abad disclosed P-Noy approved the re-alignment of savings and gave them to the pet projects of senators and congressmen in the budgets of specific government agencies. Justifying the Aquino administration’s version of how government “savings” must be spent in accordance with the law, Abad revealed they came up with a system called Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). Over the weekend, the Palace-issued Official Gazette published the constitutional and legal basis cited by the DBM by which President Aquino approved the controversial releases of funds to the senators and congressmen through DAP. Specifically, the DBM invoked Section 25 (5), Article VI of the Constitution. It states: “No law shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriations; however, the President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the heads of Constitutional Commissions may, by law, be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items in their respective appropriations.” To obviously appease the public outcry of this previously unheard of presidential source of pork barrel, Abad announced the savings in the third quarter this year would no longer be channeled to lawmakers. Instead, it would be used to fund the rehabilitation of siege-stricken Zamboanga City. At the height of the furor over “pork barrel” scam that allegedly made businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles richer out of taxpayers’ money, President Aquino earlier suspended the release of the remaining Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for the rest of this year and eventually abolishing it starting next year’s budget. P-Noy’s fourth budget bill is in the advanced stage of legislative mill in the 16th Congress. The Lower House approved on second reading the proposed 2014 budget bill before they went into recess last September 28. When sessions resume on October 14, the House will approve the budget bill on third and final reading and transmit this to the Senate. The proposed P2.268-trillion budget for next year is P200 billion more than this year’s Congressapproved budget. With releases of PDAF and DAP suspended, obviously there are more funds now available in the budget. To ride on the popularity of our tourism campaign slogan, this means: It’s more funds in the Philippines!
A different sort of convention CTALK By Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 7, 2013 - 12:00am As far as the war against pork barrel is concerned, last week proved how a simple idea can be twisted at every turn and manipulated by the guilty and the desperate. From out of nowhere, we now hear of calls for impeachment of President Noynoy Aquino, suddenly the enemies of PNoy namely Gloria Arroyo and her minions are single handedly guilty in the Malampaya fund scam and no one else. Even Jun Lozada who had hoped to be rid of his involvement, if not guilt, in the alleged ZTE bribery deal rises to the occasion to lambast PNoy. Even the patriotic people I know who actively engage in the battle against social ills have taken to separate corners based purely on impressions and rumors of what is or might be. Yes, the war against the Pork Barrel has turned into a free for all and looks more like a bloody “Dinuguan” than “fatfree” pork. Obviously the Philippine government, the Executive, Legislative and perhaps even the Judiciary are all part of a very messy, confused and mixed up financial management system, from budget proposal all the way to accounting of expenditures. Instead of “reacting” to political baiting from his critics, what if PNoy or all of them (The three branches of government) declare a National Time Out and sincerely call for a National Summit for the correction of laws and procedures concerning government spending from the office of the President all the way down to all Barangays? All these on-going investigations and accusations concerning the “Pork barrel System” may be a good start to change things but it will never solve the cause of the problem, which we all know is legislated and legalized financial maneuvering intended to benefit and profit those in government be it national or local. It might also convince civil society that the PNoy administration means business if they (Civil Society) have a chance to participate in crafting better laws, rules and regulations to correct laws that originally started as a one-sided self-serving system for government officials and politicians. It would be the equivalent of a “Financial” sort of constitutional convention for government. I actually posted this notion on my Facebook page and solicited peoples response to the idea and I was encouraged to receive 99% of positive responses with only one doubting “if those directly benefitting from the confusion would be willing to give up the status quo”. This is probably true but given a choice between a “Financial constitutional convention” or Snap elections coming out of several EDSA rallies that could derail the economy, political survival might prove the biggest motivator to clean house and fix the mess that government has regarding finances. * * * While last week may have been a political mess, I also found comfort in two events that certainly showcased the best in Filipino Character. The first was the second annual Pink Party of the Peninsula Manila, which is a charity fund raising event to support the fight against Breast Cancer. Like the year before Peninsula Manila GM Sonja Vodusek inspired both friends and guests to help hit the One million target for the Pink month. To many foreigners surprise the target was basically achieved in one short evening as Filipinos and one foreign guest gamely bid against each other during the hour long auction of various items provided by supporters of the charity. If any impressions were made on that evening it was the generous spirit of Filipinos and their willingness to give to worthy causes. Since the modest target set by Sonja Vodusek was so easily hit, chances are one or two more events will be in the offering specifically to build/renovate and create a “Pink Room” for
cancer patients of the East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City. I hope you our dear reader can help this worthy cause. Two nights later, a similar crowd this time headed by Assumptionistas and Rustan’s President Neddy Tantoco hosted a charity event via a fashion show featuring the current works of Japanese Fashion designer “TADASHI SHOJI” at the Makati Shangri-la. This time the intended beneficiary was the Assumption facility in Passi, Iloilo that is in dire need of 8 classrooms estimated at a minimum of 1 million each. To help get things going no less than designer Tadashi Shoji donated a check for US$5,000. Without a doubt many Assumptionistas in the crowd generously followed suit just so the less fortunate children in Negros can get a chance at a better education. Well-done ladies! Remember: “Those who refresh others, will themselves also be refreshed by the Lord”. * * * When the biggest or tallest tree in the forest spreads out its branches over and above others, it tends to kill or stunt the rest of the smaller trees under it. DILG Secretary Mar Roxas may not realize it but his performance, as self-appointed spokesman of the DILG may be working against him as well as the various agencies and services under his command. To begin with, while it puts him in the limelight, it also gives the misimpression that he is a publicity-seeking politician doing anything and everything so voters won’t forget him if he runs for President in 2016. We might say; who can blame the guy considering the upper hand and popularity of his archrival VP Binay. On the other hand, Roxas can be blamed for the impression or misimpression that the PNP was not as active in battle for Zamboanga as the military. Instead of giving his field commanders in the PNP all the chance to promote the service, Roxas’ decision to do most of the talking highlighted his political presence and dangerously diminished the public presence of the PNP. Last week when Roxas once again did a one-man show regarding the Serendra Gas explosion, Mar may have thought he scored PR points but he did not. First of all, in the minds of most people, the announcement on the cause of the blast was generally received as “Panis!” or stale news and just like stale bread, was no longer fit for human consumption. If anything, Mar Roxas’ excessively detailed presentation laid the whole thing open to ridicule. After focusing so much on an LPG hose, where it lay on the ground, it’s angle etc., I was nearly convinced that Secretary Roxas was going to say that the explosion was a terrorist act committed by an LPG hose. What soured our amusement was the possibility that the blame would now be laid on construction workers. Mar also needs to keep in mind the concept of peoples’ “Attention Span”. People get bored and when the topic is boring they get bored faster! Someone quoted the Bible saying “Open rebuke is better than hidden love” and it is in this spirit that I comment on the recent misadventures of Secretary Mar as far as being the de facto spokesperson of the DILG- PNP. Perhaps Mar should be more selective, specific and limit himself to high percentage points presentation and comments that add up instead of his current plus=minus press conferences that end up being tedious or disappointing. E-mail: email@example.com
What’s happening to the ‘porky-pigs’? AS A MATTER OF FACT By Sara Soliven De Guzman (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 7, 2013 - 12:00am
Plunder charges have already been filed for those associated with the pork barrel scam. But do you think such cases are strong enough to achieve justice? What happens to senators and congressmen with plunder cases? Can they still hold office and if they do will they still be given the money (that has been allocated to them) to serve their constituents? To those in government and to the legislators these questions may seem trivial. But to the many hardworking citizens, the answer is vital. It may reflect the destiny of this nation. It is a known fact that in Japan, if a member of the Japanese Diet is implicated in corruption, he will go up to the rooftop, meekly accept his guilt, ask forgiveness for his misdeeds and jump to his death to preserve whatever is left of his family’s honor. Of course for obvious reasons, this is not the case in the Philippines. A politician will never admit to his guilt and will never even think of taking his life. It is considered a mortal sin in our religion as Catholics to commit suicide. Our politicians who cheat, lie and steal will forever have the audacity to always proclaim their innocence. What makes a Filipino politician numb and insensitive to what appears to be obvious? Maybe it is the neversay-die fighting spirit or the belief that nothing is impossible especially when you have the power and the right connections. The way I see it, it has become one of the typical traits of a Filipino politician to be callous and thick-skinned because charges made against them are often viewed to be politically motivated. In a seriously flawed system we cannot expect a public official to step down from office or even just take a leave out of delicadeza. Why? First, he might be a victim of political persecution and vindictiveness, which truly happens. Second, taking a leave of office may be taken as a sign of guilt because the innocent should fight for the truth. And third, they assume that voters easily forget their misdeeds so they buy out time until the coast is clear. Thus, unlike the Japanese, our politicians will never take the shortcut in this regard. Besides, anyone can say that every person is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. But at this point in time, no amount of mudslinging can change the perception that people have of all the senators and congressmen implicated in the pork barrel issue. The best thing that they can do for themselves now is to keep quiet and wait for the right time and venue to defend themselves. As a consequence of Senator Estrada’s speech, more corrupt practices have been unearthed and very soon more heads will roll. If this scandalous trend continues, it will be tantamount to putting the whole Senate in shame. Sanamagan! So, what do we expect then of our legislators charged with plunder or violations of the Anti-Graft Law? Nothing extraordinary I guess. They will hang on to their positions not for themselves but “for the people who voted for them”; claim their innocence and blame others; approach the case legalistically and look for loopholes; withstand the storm and wait for the next elections. No one will heed any public outcry for them to momentarily take a leave. It has never been in our political culture to make a personal sacrifice. We fight to the last drop and challenge the law to the hilt.
With the statement that the legislators implicated in the plunder case will continue in office during the pendency thereof, a breeze through the laws on suspension of a legislator may be of interest to all. Under the Constitution, each House may punish its Members for disorderly behavior, and with the concurrence of two-thirds of all its Members, suspend or expel a Member. At present, there is no case filed with the Ethics Committees of both houses. Besides, we cannot expect legislators to sanction their colleagues. Remember the saying that goes: “Those who have not sinned may cast the first stone!” So who is courageous enough among them to cast that stone? If it does happen, that would be a day of triumph for the Filipino people who have been fighting for justice in this land. The Ombudsman Act has a provision on preventive suspension pending investigation when the evidence of guilt is strong, but this will apply only to administrative cases within the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman. We cannot therefore expect the Ombudsman to issue any order of preventive suspension against a sitting Senator or Congressman because of legal and jurisdictional limitations. The Plunder Act provides that “Any public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this Act in whatever stage of execution and mode of participation, is pending in court, shall be suspended from office. Should he be convicted by final judgment, he shall lose all retirement or gratuity benefits under any law, but if he is acquitted, he shall be entitled to reinstatement and to the salaries and other benefits which he failed to receive during suspension, unless in the meantime, administrative proceedings have been filed against him.” A relatively similar provision is also found in the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. It is therefore clear that any appointed or elected public officer may be preventively suspended due to criminal indictment under the Plunder Law or the Anti-Graft Act. But this could happen only when the case is filed with the Sandiganbayan and after giving the accused the opportunity to question the validity of the information against him in a pre-suspension hearing. This only means that we will not witness any dramatic service of a suspension order upon a sitting legislator in the next few months. In fact we may not ever witness one. In the event of a preventive suspension, which is mandatory under the Plunder and Anti-Graft Acts, will it be for the entire pendency of the criminal case? The Supreme Court has held that an unreasonable length of time of suspension is violative of the due process and equal protection clauses of the Constitution. Thus preventive suspension under the Anti-Plunder Law and the Anti-Graft Law shall be limited to a period of 90 days, which period is provided in our Civil Service laws. With the way our criminal justice system is moving, it is safe to assume that a legislator facing even a very serious plunder case will be out of office momentarily during his period of preventive suspension but only for 90 days. Even if plunder is non-bailable, the lawmaker, who is presumed innocent until proven guilty, could finish his term while in jail and may continue availing all the perks and pork of his office, including transportation expenses. The best recourse for us now is to stop voting for these crooks into office. Another election is on its way. We must not forget. We must vote wisely so that we can have the government we truly deserve. “A mistake may mark a man, but admitting a mistake is the mark of a man.”– Zak Vora
'Ram mil' may m ex xit PA AR tod day - PAGA ASA (philstar.co om) | Updated October 7, 201 13 - 8:33am
PAGAS SA track of Tyyphoon "Ramil" MANIL LA, Philippiness - Typhoon "R Ramil" has slig ghtly intensifie ed but is expeccted to leave the Philippin ne Area of Respon nsibility later today, the state weathe er bureau said d. The Ph hilippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Asttronomical Services Adminiistration (PAG GASA) said Ra amil was loccated at 910 kkilometers norttheast of Itbayyat, Batanes a at 4 a.m. The typ phoon is packed with maxim mum sustain ned winds of 150 kilometers near the cen nter and gustss of up to 185 kilometters per hour. Ramil iis forecast to m move northwe est at 28 kilom meters per ho our and is expe ected to be o outside the PA AR by Monday afternoon, PAGASA said d. The agenc cy added that Ramil is not expected e to afffect any part o of the country. It its 24-ho our weather forecast, PAGA ASA said Palaw wan, Central V Visayas and M Mindanao will h have cloudy skkies with light to moderate ra ains ahd thund derstorms. Metro Man nila and the re est of the country will be parttly cloudy to c loudy with isolated rainshow wers and thundersto orms mostly in n the afternoon n or evening.
http://ww ww.philstar.co om/nation/20 013/10/07/12 242488/rami l‐may‐exit‐paar‐today‐pagaasa
BI officia o al denies ex xtortion in black k san nd mining project By Raymun nd Catindig and Charlie Laga asca (The Philip ppine Star) | Up pdated Octobe er 7, 2013 - 12:00am
BAYOMBO ONG, Nueva Vizcaya V , Philippines – The e head of the B Bureau of Imm migration (BI) iin Cagayan province has h denied hav ving something to do with th he alleged exto ortion attempt that she and at least four o others, including Gov. G Alvaro An ntonio, alleged dly made in ex xchange for th he processing of a black san nd mining perm mit. “I don’t kno ow about it. We W do not and never resort to o extortion. Bu ut I will answe er the issue once a (summon ns) reached us,” said Eva Antiporda, A head d of BI-Aparri district. Antiporda was reacting to t news reports that she, Go ov. Antonio an nd Antonio Ch humacod and E Emely del Mun ndo of the Mines and Geoscien nces Bureau (MGB), and on ne Randy Mira anda are being g summoned b by the Nationa al Bureau of Investigation central office for f alleged exttortion on an A American miniing company. Mario Anc cheta, MGB dirrector for Caga ayan Valley, said s he would conduct an inquiry on their two personne el being linke ed to the alleged extortion attempt. a “Definitely, I will ask the two about it. We W will conduct an inquiry a about it. We do on’t resort to ssuch an illegal scheme,” he said. Antonio co ould not be immediately reac ched for comm ment.
The American firm, represented by James Lee of Feiron Steel Inc., alleged in its complaint with the NBI that Antiporda and Antonio, through former Buguey town mayor Glicerio Antiporda, asked for P1.65 million for the firm’s dredging operation in the town. The firm, according to reports, bagged a contract for a multimillion-peso dredging project along a stretch of the Cagayan River in Buguey town in 2005 but could not take off due to lack of a mineral processing permit or authority to quarry black sand. The amount being demanded by former mayor Antiporda, the company alleged, would be for the processing of a mineral processing permit and other documents and to pay the town’s eight councilors with P100,000 reportedly for them to endorse the project. Lee alleged that the former mayor told him that P200,000 would also be given to the BI-Aparri district head for the processing of the documents. The company was also allegedly asked to reserve $2 per ton of extracted sand as royalty for Gov. Antonio, while a separate royalty was also allegedly demanded by the former mayor and for the mayor’s office. The BI official is the wife of the former mayor, whose children include incumbent Buguey town Mayor Lloyd Antiporda and former mayor Cerry Antiporda. The MGB and the provincial government are responsible for the issuance of mineral processing permits for large-scale and small-scale mining projects, respectively. At least 10 foreign firms, according to the MGB, were given permits to extract black sand along Cagayan’s northern coastlines such as in the towns of Buguey, Aparri and Gonzaga. The Church and other anti-mining groups in the province alleged that these firms have been operating under the guise of dredging, but are really only after the extraction of black sand.
DOJ indicts bank exec for perjury By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 7, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has indicted an executive of Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) for lying under oath in a lawsuit filed by Philippine Investment Two Inc. (PI II), the former local unit of the defunct American investment firm Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (LBHI). Kathrina Sebastian, SCB’s associate director for origination and client coverage, was ordered charged before the Makati regional trial court (RTC) with violating Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code after the DOJ found probable cause in the complaint filed by PI II in December last year. The case was originally filed before the Makati City prosecutor’s office but Justice Secretary Leila de Lima issued a department order for the transfer of the case to the DOJ. Prosecution Attorney Caterina Isabel Caeg, after a preliminary investigation, found probable cause to charge Sebastian for “willfully and deliberately making a false statement” by claiming that PI II “was not able to furnish adequate guarantees or security in exchange for the inadequate LBHI guaranty.” She did so by withholding the fact that SCB had already received more than enough collateral for a loan that it gave to PI II, Caeg said. The finding was approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon.
The SCB in 2007 lent P819 million to PI II. After LBHI filed for bankruptcy in New York in 2008, the Makati RTC Branch 149 under Judge Cesar Untalan became the rehabilitation court to ensure the payment of PI II’s debts to creditors. But PI II and another creditor, Metrobank, filed urgent court petitions against SCB upon discovering that SCB had received some $90 million in bonds as collateral from LBHI, and was negotiating a settlement in New York for the same loan that it was already being paid for under PI II’s local rehabilitation plan. In effect, they said SCB was seeking payment twice for the same loan, here and in New York. Last Aug. 30, Untalan ordered SCB to return P233.6 million to PI II upon finding that SCB had signed a settlement agreement in New York for the entire P819‐million loan. SCB sold the $90 million in bonds, and returned the $64 million in excess proceeds to LBHI. The judge said SCB’s failure to divulge the collateral prejudiced PI II and its other creditors and “deprived the rehabilitation court of making an informed evaluation and assessment.” http://www.philstar.com/metro/2013/10/07/1242217/doj‐indicts‐bank‐exec‐perjury
Minor quakes jolt parts of Visayas By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 4, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Minor earthquakes shook parts of the Visayas yesterday but authorities reported no damage or injuries. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said tremors of magnitudes 3.6 and 4.6 hit Santa Catalina, Negros Oriental and Silago, Southern Leyte at 5:58 a.m. and 8:52 a.m., respectively. The epicenter of the magnitude 3.6 was located at 18 kilometers southeast of Santa Catalina. It was felt at Intensity 4 in Valencia, Negros Oriental; Intensity 3 in Dumaguete City; and Intensity 2 in Sibulan. Meanwhile, the epicenter of the magnitude 4.6 tremor was located at 60 kms northeast of Silago, where it was felt at Intensity 3. It was also felt at Intensity 2 in Hinunangan, Southern Leyte Phivolcs said no aftershocks were expected from the quakes.
Suspected BIFF man arrested By John Unson (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 6, 2013 - 12:00am
NORTH COTABATO, Philippines – A suspected member of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) was arrested after he allegedly left an improvised explosive device (IED) in a roadside hotel in Midsayap town here yesterday. Abdulgani Malang Abas was arrested by bystanders as he was leaving the area where he left a box containing the explosives. Superintendent Renante delos Santos, municipal police chief, said responding policemen brough Abas to the police station for interrogation. Abas told investigators he was hired by a woman to bring the box to the town proper and leave it near the entrance to the Hill Park Hotel. The IED, fashioned from a mortar shell was placed in the box covered with durian. Delos Santos said they have yet to confirm whether Abas is a member of the BIFF as bomb experts defused the IED. Nation ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 He said Abas had initially confessed to probers that the IED came from an armed group in Barangay Tugal in Midsayap, not far from the farming villages that the BIFF bandits attacked last week. Meanwhile, authorities have been implementing curfew in 17 of 57 barangays in Midsayap town for three days now to protect residents from possible attacks by the brigand BIFF. “Only bad guys will roam in these 17 barangays with the curfew in place. The police and military will deal with them promptly,” Midsayap Mayor Romeo Araña, chairman of the municipal peace and order council (MPOC), told journalists. The 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew is being imposed with MPOC’s permission, according to Araña
Jollibee going to Indonesia, Canada By Neil Jerome C. Morales (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 7, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Fastfood giant Jollibee Foods Corp. (JFC) is expanding into new territories including Indonesia next year and Canada in 2015, catering to both the local population and Filipinos overseas. Tapping new markets is in line with the company’s goal of becoming Asia’s largest homegrown quick service restaurant chain, an executive said. “We just opened in Houston, Texas. Our next target is to open in Chicago and near future Toronto, Canada. It will be our first in Canada,” JFC chief operating officer Ernesto Tanmantiong said in an interview. Closer to home, Indonesia is in the radar for an expansion program early next year, Tanmantiong said. Late last month, Philippines’ largest fastfood chain posted an opening day record in its Houston branch. More than 5,000 Filipinos flocked to the first JFC branch in southern US, more than a thousand compared with the opening day record of Jollibee Hawaii. Tanmantiong hopes the company, famous for its signature Chickenjoy and Yum Burger, will continue breaking records in its overseas store openings. “We’re focusing where the Filipinos are. They are craving for Jollibee (because) it’s a taste of home,” Tanmantiong said, adding that Jollibee Chicago will open next year while Jollibee Toronto will start operations in 2015. In Asia, the fastfood giant is targeting to create a presence in Indonesia early next year. “Indonesia hopefully (we can open) next year. What we plan to do in Indonesia is to find a joint venture partner,” Tanmantiong said. “For Indonesia, it’s a fried chicken country so we believe the chicken joy will fit very well in Indonesia,” Tanmantiong said. JFC is developing spicy sauce sambal to cater to the Indonesia taste. JFC is looking at suppliers for food production in Indonesia but the company is also ready to invest in a commissary in the emerging market, Tanmantiong said. The expansion program signals the continuation of JFC’s corporate strategy of going after Filipinos overseas while also looking at the locals in host countries. Tanmantiong will become the fastfood chain’s CEO effective July 2014 while current CEO Tony Tan Caktiong will remain as the chairman of the board.
Phl powe er rate es am mong highe est in Asia By Iris C. Gonzales G (The Philippine Starr) | Updated Oc ctober 7, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines P - Electricity E rates s in the Philipp pines are amo ong the highesst in the region n, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) said in a rep port. “Data from m Asean Cente er for Energy show s that amo ong the ten co ountries in Sou utheast Asia in n 2007, the cou untry ranks as having h the third d highest resid dential electric city tariffs, fifth highest for co ommercial, and fourth highe est in terms of in ndustrial electrricity tariffs,” NSCB N secretarry-general Josse Albert said. NSCB said d that a study conducted by y the Perth-bas sed consultanccy firm, International Energyy Consultants (IEC), plac ced the rates in Luzon as ha aving the ninth h highest electtricity tariffs off the 44 countrries surveyed. One of the e main reasons s for this is the e absence of government g su ubsidies for electricity, unlikke in Indonesia a, Thailand, and a Malaysia, where the go overnment sub bsidizes electriicity costs. “These subsidies eat up p a large chunk k of public bud dget. In Indone esia, for exam mple, energy su ubsidies accou unt for 24 perc cent of the 201 13 public expe enditure plan,”” the NSCB pa aper said. It also said d that generatiion costs make up the bigge est componen t of the electricity cost, acco ounting for 65 percent off what custome ers pay for.
“Generation is the segment of the electricity industry, which produces power from sources like coal, diesel, natural gas, hydro and geothermal. Generation makes up the biggest component of our electricity tariff. Roughly 65 percent of what customers pay for goes to this segment. This means that for every one peso you spend on your power bill, about 65 cents goes to the power generators,” Albert also said. The amount then goes to the various generation companies who own and operate power plants. On the other hand, the portion paid for distribution cost accounts for 16 percent of the total power bill, Albert said. “The tariff which goes to distribution companies accounts for 16 percent of the total power bill. The rate of distribution varies across customer segments. It is generally progressive, which means that as you increase your power consumption, the amount you pay per kilowatt hour also increases,” Albert said. Companies in the distribution business are the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the Visayas Electric Cooperative and electric cooperatives in the provinces. “This is the segment of the industry which delivers power from the producers to the households, commercial establishments, and industries,” Albert also said. Aside from generation and distribution, electricity consumers also pay for transmission costs, which is the bridge between the power generators and the distribution utilities. “Transmission makes up 8.7 percent of the power bill,” Albert said. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/10/07/1242233/phl‐power‐rates‐among‐highest‐asia
Peso wea akening wiithin rrange e of re egion nal mov vemen nts By Kathlee en A. Martin (Th he Philippine Star) S | Updated October 7, 201 13 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The weakening of the pes so so far this yyear has been n within the m mid-range of the movemen nts of other cu urrencies in th he region, the Bangko Sen ntral ng Pilipin nas (BSP) said d. As of Friday, the peso has deprecia ated 4.65 perc cent against th he dollar, a rreversal of its appreciating streak las st year when the t local curre ency strengthened by 6.8 p percent by en nd-2012. The peso closed at 43..05 to $1 on Oct. O 4, far wea aker than its 4 41.05 to a do ollar finish on Dec. 28, the last trading da ay in 2012. “It’s within n the range. We’re W in the middle m of the range r but not exactly the m mid point,” BS SP Governor Amando M. M Tetangco Jr. J told reportters late Frida ay. “This mea ans we’re one e of the least affected a by th he global finan ncial market vvolatilities,” he e pointed out. During the e same period d, the Singap porean dollar depreciated d b by 1.93 perce ent against the e US dollar, th he Thai baht by 2.21 percent, and the Malaysian M ringgit by 3.64 p percent.
The Indian rupee, meanwhile, weakened by 10.64 percent against the greenback, and the Indonesian rupiah depreciated by 16.33 percent. Regional currencies this year felt the impact of the impending tapering of the US Federal Reserve and political tensions in the Middle East. Closer to home, other economies’ worsening current accounts deficits also took a toll on their currencies. Tetangco also noted that the Philippine peso was among the region’s currencies that saw wider fluctuations so far this year. “While we have seen wider fluctuations, we have basically moved in tandem with regional currencies,” Tetangco said. The peso’s volatility averaged at 3.22 percent as of last Friday, higher than its 2012 average of 1.94 percent. It was also higher than the Thai baht’s volatility at 3.04 percent and the Myanmar kyat’s 2.94 percent, but lower than Indonesian rupiah’s 5.62 percent and Indian rupee’s 6.76 percent. The Singapore dollar was the only currency in the region which saw its volatility improve to 1.31 percent as of Friday from the average of 1.71 percent last year. “Generally, we’re again within the range,” Tetangco said.
A win-win deal PHILEQUITY CORNER By Valentino Sy (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 7, 2013 - 12:00am
The Gokongweis are truly the smartest entrepreneurs in the country. Last week, the blockbuster transaction with the San Miguel group for the sale of its ~27 percent shareholdings in Meralco valued at P72-billion deal was a testament to this. Whenever they find value in an opportunity presented to them, they seize it. They have the courage to ride out on that investment over a long period. They have the fortitude and the intelligence to crunch the numbers and make such investment. More importantly, they have the resources to pay cash in a worthwhile deal. The Meralco sale was an all-cash transaction. Just like what we said in our Philequity Corner article Pacquiao Stocks more than two years ago (May 16, 2011), “We have always considered the Gokongweis to be the most intelligent businessmen in the country.” One may recall that nearly two years ago, the Gokongweis – through JG Summit – sold its stake in Digitel, owner of the Sun Cellular brand, to PLDT for a blockbuster deal worth P69.2 billion. It allowed the company to attain an eight-percent equity stake in PLDT. More importantly, the buyout also triggered consolidation in the competitive telecom industry. See Philequity Corner article The Smart Conquered the Sun (Oct. 31, 2011). Improved profile The purchase of Meralco would significantly improve the profile of JG Summit. First, the cash dividends that JG Summit receives from its operating subsidiaries and investee companies would rise to about P11 billion per annum. Aside from URC and PLDT, a big part of that figure would come from Meralco. Second, the addition of Meralco would further enhance JG Summit’s asset portfolio. (See table.) This is very important especially for long-term investors looking for a diversified and well-managed company. And third, JG Summit’s growth prospect would be enhanced as its ties with the Pangilinan group foster. We see more collaborative efforts between the two conglomerates in the future. Many expect the partnership between the Gokongweis and Manny Pangilinan to flourish as they could discuss business ventures and exchange ideas more regularly. Mr. James Go, Big John Gokongwei’s brother, sits in the board of PLDT representing JG Summit’s stake in the telecom giant. When San Miguel exits from Meralco, JG Summit would also fill in the vacated board seats. Meantime, both JG Summit and Metro Pacific Investments are teaming up in the Cebu‐Mactan airport project under PPP. What’s next for JG Summit and Metro Pacific Investments? Will it be tollways, power generation or some other infrastructure project? Will these two also team up to buy out Lucio Tan’s remaining controlling stake in Philippine Airlines? Will there be a consolidation in the airline industry? And will San Miguel and Ramon Ang be part of the partnership? There’s an ongoing consolidation of the airline industry in the US. Could we see such a scenario unfold in the Philippine setting? A tidbit, by the way: John Gokongwei and James Go were in the wedding party of Ramon Ang’s eldest son, Paul, who tied the knot with Tala Fernando over the weekend. The guests included not only the powerhouses in the corporate scene but also in government. Both President Aquino and Vice President Binay graced the occasion. Better control for Metro Pacific Investments
Manny Pangilinan of Metro Pacific and Ramon Ang of San Miguel have always been perceived as competitors in the many industries they operate in and the infrastructure projects they bid into. (You may refer to our series of Philequity Corner articles on the Meralco takeover saga.) With the Gokongweis as partners in Meralco, the company can be more focused in attaining its objectives and better execute on the growth aspirations in the power business. No more overhang for Meralco For months already, the market talk of a possible share sale in Meralco created an overhang on the stock. With this price overhang now resolved, investors will now look into Meralco’s future earnings potential as a better gauge of its value. Its long‐term move towards power generation will allow it to maximize opportunities as an integrated energy company. Back in the PSE Index With the sale of San Miguel’s 5.7‐percent stake to various investors last July, Meralco’s free float will improve to at least 12 percent, thus making it eligible to re‐enter the benchmark PSE Index. Being one of the largest market cap stocks, Meralco could also make a return to global indices such as the MSCI. More cash, more focus for San Miguel San Miguel, including two of its subsidiaries, PureFoods and Global Power, stand to benefit from the deal as the group cashes in on its passive investment in Meralco. Including the earlier sale of a 5.7‐percent stake which was priced at P270 per share, the San Miguel group will have the available cash to deploy on its priority projects and truly transform San Miguel into a well‐diversified conglomerate with vast investments in both consumer and infrastructure sectors. A win for SMC, a win for the country The sale of its shares is not only a win for San Miguel but also for Philippine business and our country. The cash San Miguel will raise can be used to participate in more PPP projects. As the government rolls out additional infrastructure projects next year, SMC can strongly contend against other bidders. What’s next after the NAIA Expressway project? Believers in the Philippine economy Moody’s upgrade of the country’s sovereign rating to Investment Grade is a seal of the Philippines’ robust economic fundamentals. The Philippines is the only country in the ASEAN region to ever secure such a rating from all three major credit rating agencies in under a year. This accomplishment is a solid invitation for investors to put in capital and do business in the country. The Gokongwei family, the Pangilinan group, and the San Miguel companies are believers in the Philippine economy. As serious investors who have placed their bets in the prospects of the country, their growth over the years is a reflection of the country’s economic progress. And as the fundamental underpinnings remain favorable, expect these companies to continue investing in the Philippines.
Please visit our online trading platform at www.wealthsec.com or call 634‐5038 for detailed stock market research. You can also visit www.philequity.net to learn more about the Philequity Fund and view our archived articles. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for feedback on the Philequity Corner articles.
DAP is for fast moving projects, daw? DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 7, 2013 - 12:00am
Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP was created two years ago supposedly to finance “new, fastdisbursing and high-impact projects to be funded from unused 2010, 2011 appropriations.” Last week, Ricky Carandang reiterated the reason why they instituted DAP. The Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), Ricky explained, is made for projects that require accelerated spending. That may have been the intention but I doubt if that had been accomplished by at least one of the projects funded by DAP. This is how the LRT/MRT rehab projects were described by a press release published in the Official Gazette: “Railway Rehabilitation: A total of P1.87 billion will be provided for the rehabilitation of Light Rail Transit (LRT) Lines 1 and 2, including the replacement of worn-out rails, repair and rehabilitation of trains and improvement of train station facilities. For the Metro Rail Transit (MRT), P4.5 billion has also been provided for the purchase of additional train cars.” I totally agree with the intention to rehabilitate our commuter train systems in a rapid fashion. But to
describe these train rehab projects as fast moving that require accelerated spending is twisting reality. PNoy has simply steadfastly neglected to address a serious problem of technical deficit at DOTC. What most likely happened is that DOTC got the money and saved it from reverting to the General Fund. They then froze it in an account under LRTA, which in itself seems questionable. The intention is to use the amount after they have selected a provider for the new trains and a contractor to rehabilitate the entire MRT system. But they have not addressed the legal problems. MRT 3 is still owned by MRTC, a private company, even if 70 per cent of the economic interest is now in the hands of government banks. Technically, government cannot fund capital expenditure or capex for a private corporation. It is ironic that they used DAP, supposed to be for fast disbursing projects to fund MRT rehab. DOTC has shown no intention of addressing this concern with some urgency. The money ended up frozen anyway. If the intention is to provide economic stimulus as Sec Butch Abad claims, I doubt if frozen funds can do that. To add to the curiosity of the situation, when Edwin Lacierda was asked by a reporter about this MRT allocation under DAP, I heard him say that if the funds were not quickly used by DOTC for the purpose intended it would revert to the general fund. I doubt that happened. But indeed, there is urgency in getting the rehabilitation of MRT done. As I have continually warned in this column, it is a tragedy waiting to happen. Those trains, the rails, the signaling system are barely able to carry on in their dilapidated condition. A serious accident could happen anytime that will result in death and serious injuries. If Sec Abaya wants to have a clear conscience, he will order an independent evaluation of the MRT system right away. I am told that MRTC, the owners of the system, wanted to do just that early this year
but were prevented from doing so. I suppose that clears them of any liability as legal owners if tragedy strikes. I heard GSIS also refused to cover the system because the current maintenance group is not accredited with the original manufacturer. I understand that last Jan. 12, 2013, MRTC wrote Sec Abaya expressing grave concern about the accidents and malfunctions that have plagued the MRT3 system. They suspect that this is mostly due to the inability of the maintenance contractor selected by DOTC to do a proper job. MRTC offered to undertake an independent technical assessment of the MRT3 system. This assessment was supposed to be done by an expert from MTR Hong Kong. While DOTC agreed to allow the independent assessment, the expert sent by MTR HK (Danny Shum Hing Loong) was not allowed to enter the depot. The expert left the country without being able to make his assessment on the real condition of the system. What do the guys in control of MRT3 have to hide? Ok, I know what they are trying to hide because it is obvious. But that is unfair to the riders of MRT3 who must be reassured of the safety of the system because they put their lives on the line on it everyday. Sec Abaya must not be a party to this conspiracy to hide the truth from the public. Sec Abaya has chosen to close his eyes on the MRT3 problems and just focus on a dream project of an EDSA subway. If he knows what is good for him and the people who are his bosses, Sec Abaya will make sure the independent assessment of MRT 3 is done quickly. That may just save lives and limbs. Car plates Last Friday, I reported in this column the reason for the delay in the production and issuance of car plates. DOTC failed to obtain MYOA (Multi-Year Obligational Authority) from DBM prior to bidding out the license plate standardization project. Because of this, DOTC cannot issue a Notice to Proceed to the supposed winning bidder. A re-bidding will be called because the previous one was illegal. I received an e-mail from a seemingly knowledgeable reader who provided one more reason why a rebidding is necessary. This has to do with an error in the test specification required. “ASTM (American Society of Test and Materials) D4956 is the Standard Specification for Retroreflective Sheeting for Traffic Control. As per bid docs, reflective sheeting to be used must meet test method ASTM D4956 8.5 for adhesion. “But test 8.5 no longer exists. “On page 50 of bid docs it clearly states in section 15 Standards, ‘...such standards shall be the latest issued by the institution concerned.’ “In the latest version of ASTM D4956 which is 11a, the test method is 7.5 and not 8.5. As per required by bid docs, results from independent test facilities are required to prove conformance.
“Since test 8.5 was changed to 7.5 way back in 2007, testing facilities only certify compliance as per test 7.5. Did these firms actually do the tests? “When this was brought this up to the Technical Working Group (TWG), they said they would amend using a bid bulletin if it was a typo. They didn’t amend. And TWG said it was not a typo and that indeed it had a copy of 8.5. “All bidders gave sworn statements of conformity to this test 8.5. If they did test, they would know that the active test since 2007 was 7.5. This shows that they probably didn’t do the test even though they were required to do so. This is an act of perjury. “This was brought to the attention of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC). Chairman Lotilla after receiving the letter, said it was a mistake on the part of the BAC and excused the compliant bidders when he started the second day of bid opening on May 7.”
I think I wrote something about this some columns back. But it is worth repeating just in case some folks think this problem is forgotten, swept under the rug. NAIA Last Friday I reported Sec Abaya’s text message to me that they are currently procuring the consultancy services and the construction management services for the NAIA1 makeover. “We expect to award and issue NTP on or before Oct. 15. The gencon we expect to award Nov. 15 and issue NTP end of November,” Abaya said. A reader e-mailed his reaction: “So where are the advertisements for bidding these works? They are not shown on the DOTC website? Or will they just appoint someone like they seem to prefer these days?” Kenneth Cobonpue, who offered his interior design services for free and was initially rejected by then DOTC Sec Mar Roxas, is now working on the project. He told Ces Drilon in the ANC program Pipol that “The concept is done, it was already made. It just needs further refinement.” Cobonpue told Ces: “I think the task of the government now is how to execute it well. I think a little change at the airport is really a big boost to the country because it really is a symbol of everything wrong that has been happening to our country.” I am hoping for the best but will believe things will soon get better only when I see them actually doing something. I am concerned that no bidding has been scheduled… so how can Sec Abaya meet the deadlines he told me? Shut down I wish we can have a government shutdown like the US that would send home non essential people on the payroll. Imagine sending all our senators and congressmen home.
Boo Chanco’s e‐mail address is email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/10/07/1242257/dap‐fast‐moving‐projects‐daw
Phl rema ains in n swe eet sp pot – A ANZ By Ted P. Torres T (The Ph hilippine Star) | Updated Octo ober 7, 2013 - 1 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippin es remains in a sweet spot,, posting high growth amid a a low infla ation environm ment, the Austtralia and New w Zealand Ban nk (ANZ Ba ank) said in a report. r “This hig ghlights our vie ew that the eco onomy has sh hifted to a struccturally higherr growth patth, increasing its absorption capacity,” AN NZ Bank said. With a thirrd rating upgra ade from Mood dy’s Investors Service, the P Philippines is n now rated inve estment grade e by all major agencies. a The recent revision upw wards by the Asian Developm ment Bank of iits growth outllook for the Ph hilippine econo omy, plus the do ownward revis sion of the rest of its Southe east Asian neig ghbors only sttrengthens its “sweet” positio on. It added th hat the Bangko o Sentral ng Pilipinas P (BSP)) would adopt a tightening b bias by the seccond semesterr of 2014. Assuming a monetary policy transmis ssion lag of 15-24 months, A ANZ Bank said d the BSP has room to asse ess whether re estricting the client-directed c investment management acccounts (IMA)) from the speccial deposit accounts (SDAs) ( has tra anslated to a significant s incrrease in creditt to productive e sectors of the e economy. Overall cre edit has remaiined strong ex xpanding 13 pe ercent year-on n-year in Augu ust. Loans to m manufacturing picked up 10.1 percent, pointing to gro owth in produc ction. The earlier assumption maintains thatt the BSP wou uld hold monettary policy rate es but the cen ntral bank wou uld slightly inc crease it by 25 5 basis points by the second d semester of 2 2014. “The (Philiippine) econom my has shifted d to a structura ally higher gro owth path,” the e bank reiterated. ANZ Bank k sees this yea ar’s inflation att 2.7 percent and a at 3.6 perccent in 2014. Despite po osting an averrage 7.6-perce ent growth rate e in gross dom mestic product (GDP) in the e first semester of the year, headline h inflation has been lower than the e BSP’s target range in the last six monthss. The BSP targets t headlin ne inflation to post a full-yea ar average of tthree to five pe ercent in the 2 2013-2014 policy horizon, and two to four percent for th he 2015-2016 policy horizon n.
http://ww ww.philstar.co om/business//2013/10/07//1242235/ph l‐remains‐sw weet‐spot‐anz
Mindanao seen to have enough power by 2015 By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 7, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines ‐ Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla sees enough power supply in Mindanao by 2015 because of new power plants that will come in. He assured that Mindanaoans should not worry about the power situation because there would be more than enough power supply after 2015. “What I am saying is that Mindanaons should not worry because they have more than enough supply,” Petilla told reporters. However, he warned electric cooperatives not to over contract. “I’m saying there is an oversupply but the problem with oversupply is that there is over contracting and when there is over contracting, there will be problems (of power cost),” Petilla said. At least 800 megawatts of additional power for Mindanao are expected to come on stream by 2017, marking the end of the prevailing power crunch, he said. He noted that the Aboitiz Group would be building a 300‐megawatt plant in Davao while Alsons Consolidated Resources of the Alcantara Group will be putting up a 200‐MW plant also in Mindanao. Another company FDC Utilities Inc., through its FDC Misamis Power Corp. will be building a 270 MW plant in Misamis also by 2016. San Miguel Global Holdings Corp., meanwhile, is also building a 600 MW coal‐fired power plant in Davao, with an initial capacity of 150 MW. Petilla said, in all, Mindanao would have an additional capacity of at least 800 MW by 2017. However, the problem that remains is how to address the critical power situation at the moment. Some power plants in Mindanao, for instance, have shut down for maintenance activities from July to December, according to data from the Department of Energy (DOE). Last July, the 210‐MW STEAG coal plant in Mindanao shut down for maintenance but is now back online. Similarly, the Pulangi IV hydropower plant also had a scheduled maintenance shutdown on different dates from August to September, covering roughly 160 MW. The Agus 6 hydropower plant is also scheduled to suspend its operations for preventive maintenance on different dates from August to December and which could affect 25 to 50 MW. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/10/07/1242237/mindanao-seen-have-enough-power-2015
NFA Council to decide on possible corn exports By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 7, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The National Food Authority (NFA) Council will deliberate this month on the petition of corn farmers to be allowed to export their produce, said Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. “This (corn exportation policy) will be tackled in the NFA Council meetings this month. This will be among the agenda in the regular meeting,” he said in a recent interview. The NFA Council is chaired by the Agriculture secretary and co-chaired by the NFA administrator. Sitting as members are the secretaries of Trade, Finance, a representative from the Office of the President, the presidents of Philippine National Bank, Land Bank, Development Bank of the Philippines, the governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and a farmer sector representative. Corn farmers have been asking the government to be allowed to export their produce to take advantage of high prices in the international market. The government, however, wants to wait until there is a surplus before allowing exportation to protect local supply and prices. The Philippines intends to produce 8.4 million MT of corn this year to attain a sufficiency level of 101 percent with a surplus of 140,000 MT. Corn production in 2012 reached 7.41 million MT for 2012, 6.25 percent higher than the 2011 production level of 6.97 million MT. Corn producers last year asked the NFA to be allowed to export at least 400,000 MT of yellow corn — which is primarily used as an additive for animal feeds — to take advantage of high prices after the drought that devastated corn crops in the United States. Under existing regulations, corn producers are only allowed to export as much as 100 metric tons for market testing and experimentation. The Agriculture department, however, recognizes that there is demand in South Korea and Malaysia that still import 95 percent of their corn requirements from the US. Local feed millers currently source most of their corn needs locally. The Philippine Maize Federation Inc. (Philmaize) argues that the Philippines should allow the exportation of corn to fulfill its trade commitments to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Asean Free Trade Agreement (AFTA). “What we want is the need to harmonize our policy towards the issue. While we allow the importation of corn and corn substitute, we should not restrict, but also allow the exportation of corn, not on the basis of surplus but in the spirit of harmonizing WTO-AFTA policy,” said Philmaize president Roger Navarro. Corn farmers want to be allowed to export to have a leverage when domestic prices fall. Navarro noted, however, that it would not be profitable for the sector to export now if the government gives the go signal because international prices are falling.
“Unfortunately, even if the government allows us to export today, the international price of corn is not attractive. We can only export if the international market price is good. So the policy should be in place and not conditional. The private sector should be liberated,” he said. He noted that world corn prices now range from $240 to $260 per metric ton compared to around $380 per metric tons at the peak of the US drought. World corn prices are falling on improving supply in the US, the world’s biggest corn producer. In May, the Philippines sent an initial shipment of 24 metric tons of corn silage for cattle to South Korea. The shipment bound for Busan, South Korea is part of the 15,000 MT of corn feed and grains worth P75 million that will be exported to South Korea until December 2013. Corn farmers are not contented with this because silage is considered a low-quality feed that can only be used for cattle.
Joke er to DBM: Explain u use off P127 7-B DAP P By Christin na Mendez (The e Philippine Star) | Updated October O 7, 2013 3 - 12:00am 8
‘Budget dictatorship’ d slammed s MANILA, Philippines P - Former F senator Joker Arroyo o wants Budge et Secretary F Florencio Abad d to make publlic the utilization of Disburseme ent Acceleratio on Program (D DAP) funds, esstimated to ha ave reached ovver P127 billio on from 2011 to 2012. “Nobody knows k how the e DAP funds, amounting a to P72 P billion in 2 2011 and P55 billion in 2012 2, were spent.. They should exp plain before th hey file cases against a so ma any people,” A rroyo told radiio dzBB yesterday. He challen nged Abad to explain e how th he multibillion--peso funds we ere used in the last three ye ears instead of hiding beh hind a 24-year-old administra ative code as legal cover. “The gove ernment keeps s on filing case es but they sho ould first look a at themselvess in the mirror. Do they even n have a list of wh here the DAP funds f went?” Arroyo A said.
He slammed the defense of administration allies that the DAP is legal, citing an administrative code passed during the term of President Aquino’s late mother, former President Corazon Aquino. Arroyo, who was executive secretary during Mrs. Aquino’s regime, noted that the administrative order was not used when she was president from 1987 to 1992. Neither was it used during the terms of her successors, former Presidents Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. “Twenty-four years later after four presidents who did not use it, they use this as cover? What are the guidelines? What are the standards? They cannot say anything,” Arroyo said. Budget dictatorship Arroyo, who finished his last term as senator last June, lamented what he called a “budgetary dictatorship” under the present administration where “they may spend (government money) at will.” Arroyo said President Aquino’s popularity in survey ratings “does not give him license to commit any offense.” “I want Noynoy to succeed for himself, and more importantly, for the sake of the country which is now beset by many problems and the filing of cases here and there. But this DAP issue should not be covered up by the filing of such cases. This cannot be,” Arroyo said. Although the executive department has announced that the DAP will no longer be allocated for lawmakers, Arroyo said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) led by Abad cannot just arbitrarily use the funds and divert the savings somewhere else. Asked to react on reports that the DAP funds will be used for the rehabilitation of war-stricken Zamboanga City, which was seized by Moro rebels in recent weeks, Arroyo said the DBM has no authority to do so. “Whoever gave them the power to switch? That is not allowed unless there is a law that supports that,” he said. “The law says no money shall be paid out of treasury without congressional approval, otherwise we are in a dictatorship.” He also called President Aquino’s leadership style “fascist,” where anyone who protests will be slapped with fabricated complaints. “Meaning, this government cannot make a mistake,” Arroyo said. “They do not even have feelings.” The way the administration will handle funds from DAP hereon would be a test case of its sincerity on how it must deal with lump sum appropriations, he said. Arroyo batted anew for the abolition of both the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of lawmakers and the DAP.
“The practice should be stopped. Even PDAF should be abolished, and then now you have this DAP, it is worse because there is no law to back it up. You cannot even annul it because it was not created by law,” Arroyo said. Criminal minds Meanwhile, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago believes Abad can be held criminally liable for malversation of public funds or plunder for the alleged misuse of DAP funds. “Along the principle of presidential immunity, it is the secretary who has to assume criminal liability because you cannot sue the president criminally until his term is over,” Santiago told dzBB also yesterday. She described the DAP as a creation of “criminal minds.” The funds were tapped as alleged incentives for the 20 senator-judges who voted for the impeachment of former chief justice Renato Corona last year. Santiago said the “brains” behind the DAP did not foresee that these disbursements of government savings – either impounded by the DBM or returned by agencies at yearend – would be uncovered during their terms. “You can see the criminal minds of the people who thought of creating the DAP. They think that this is okay for as long as it is kept secret and confidential. The problem now is that this was uncovered,” Santiago said. Opposition Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who himself is embroiled in the alleged misuse of his PDAF from 2007 to 2009, exposed the release of P50 million in DAP funds for 20 senator-judges. Rallyists warned Santiago cautioned the public against using the demonstrations against the abuse of pork barrel funds as a means to remove President Aquino from power. She said there are those who protest against the abuse of the funds, but there are also those who want to use this opportunity to place themselves in power. “Filipinos do not like illegal or unconstitutional mode of regime change. We prefer to wait for the elections. So the power of these demonstrations will be diluted once these are used in politics,” Santiago said.
DA, NFA ignore Neda blueprint to address high rice prices 06 Oct 2013
Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga IGNORING a blueprint from the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) that would address high rice prices and “possibly lower them,” the National Food Authority (NFA), through Administrator Orlan Calayag, announced that the NFA would no longer be importing rice this year despite a memorandum for the President dated September 10 from the Neda that recommended the “immediate” importation of half-a-million metric tons of rice “to address the supply gap and stabilize prices.” The memorandum, sent by Neda Director General Arsenio M. Balisacan and copy furnished Agriculture Secretary and NFA Chairman Proceso J. Alcala, warned that “even if rice production recovers in the last quarter of 2013, deficits are expected to be incurred from as low as 0.5 million metric tons [MMT] to as high as 1.4 MMT.” Despite the recommendations of the Neda, Calayag, in a statement released on Tuesday, said the government “has no plans to import an additional volume of rice for this year.” Attempts were made to obtain Balisacan’s comments on the refusal of the NFA to heed the Neda’s recommendations but he could not be reached. Balisacan, a former agriculture undersecretary, had argued in previously published papers for the importation of rice to stabilize prices but stressed the importance of “relieving the NFA of the burden of handling rice imports” because of the possibility of corruption tainting these transactions. Calayag’s statement also contradicted the Neda forecasts regarding rice production shortfalls. The country’s independent economic development and planning agency estimates local rice production to hit 18.45 MMT—a figure less than the 20 MMT the DA maintains is necessary to meet the needs of the country’s 97 million people. The Neda’s estimates are consistent with those of the DA’s Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), whose head, Assistant Secretary Romeo Recide, testified in Congress that local rice production would hit 18.45 MMT. Recide, likewise, testified that the country would need an additional half million tons of rice to meet local demand for 2013. Despite the disparity in numbers, Calayag in his statement said “current rice inventories and the incoming bulk of the main harvest are already enough for the country’s requirements.” Alcala has, likewise, repeatedly claimed in the media that the county would be able to produce 20 MMT of rice this year and that the country will be rice self-sufficient by the end of 2013. Despite assurances from the DA and NFA that rice prices would stabilize by September, the prices of regular and well-milled rice continued to hit record highs in September. Data from the BAS indicate that the average retail price per kilo of regular-milled rice for September 2013 was recorded at P36 per kilo; the highest this year, P4 more than pre-lean season prices and P3.60 per kilo more than in the same period last year. The average retail price per kilo of well-milled rice, likewise, hit an annual high, with prices pegged at P39.2 per kilo, P4 more than pre-lean season prices and P3.70 per kilo more than in September 2012.
http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/regions/20410‐da‐nfa‐ ignore‐neda‐blueprint‐to‐address‐high‐rice‐prices Jonathan Mayuga
Economic, security experts to talk at Philcoman’s 39th congress Category: Nation 06 Oct 2013 THE Philippine Council of Management (Philcoman) has invited four speakers to interact with its officers, members and guests from the government and private sectors, the diplomatic corps, Congress, business and the media on the occasion of its 59th founding anniversary and 39th National Management Congress on Tuesday, November 12, at the Grand Ballroom, Century Park Hotel, 599 P. Ocampo Street, Malate, Manila. Highlighting the whole-day affair is the awarding of the coveted Management Man of the Year (2013-2014) to successful businessman and former Philippine Ambasador to Lao PDR Antonio L. Cabangon Chua, and the interaction with the noted four speakers: former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, who will talk about the state of the Philippine economy in relation to Philcoman’s Congress theme “Managing an Inclusive and Sustainable Economic Growth and National Security”; Ernie Gonzales, a post-doctoral fellow of the Asia Research Center, London School of Economics and Political Science and UP-Manila graduate program professor, will speak on “Green Economy in the Blue World of Philippine Archipelago, while retired Maj. Gen. Galileo Kintanar, former Amed Forces intelligence chief, will discuss “Retrospect and Prospects in National Security.” Businessman-industrialist Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco, chairman of Statecraft Asia Ventures Inc., will touch on “Nation-building Through Community-based Anchor Business for Processing Products Export.” http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/nation/20421‐economic‐security‐experts‐to‐ talk‐at‐philcoman‐s‐39th‐congress
Fact-finding team: Fish cages near Sual power plant illegal Category: Nation 05 Oct 2013 Written by Orly Guirao / Correspondent LINGAYEN, Pangasinan—An inter-agency fact-finding team declared that fish cages near the 1,200-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Sual, this province, were put up illegally. This fact surfaced on Friday during the dialogue among the heads of the regional offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Bfar) and Philippine Ports Authority, the Sual local government and the provincial government. Gov. Amado Espino called the meeting to thresh out and resolve the contentious fish- cage issue. DENR-Environment Management Bureau (EMB) Regional Technical Director Joel Salvador revealed that all the structures, which have mushroomed from 400 last year to 778 during the first quarter of this year, do not have environmental clearance certificates (ECCs). Salvador said what his office issued in July last year was an ECC for a 10-hectare mariculture zone on Caticlan Bay at the mouth of Lingayen Gulf that can accommodate only 50 fish cages. No other ECC has been issued to any fishery project in the area ever since, Salvador said. It was revealed during the dialogue that the new structures were built outside the mariculture zone and close to the power plant. “EMB can issue cease-and-desist orders on the illegal structures, but we are not that brutal. We have to follow due process. Violators of the ECC law can be slapped with penalties of P50,000 per structure,” he said. Explaining the side of the local government of Sual, Mayor Roberto Arcinue said he will secure ECCs for the new fish cages. It was explained during the dialogue that the mayor needed to enter into a co-management agreement with the BFAR to secure an ECC. Provincial Board Member Danny Uy, chairman of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s Committee on Environment and Fisheries, however, said it is unfair for investors in other agribusiness projects like piggery owners that ECCs will only be secured after all those fish cages have already been built. No piggery venture in the province was started without first securing an ECC with the DENR, Uy, an agribusinessman said.
Arcinue, admitted though, that many of those fish cages also do not have business permits, which further bolstered the findings of the inter-agency body that the fish cages were set up illegally. Asked after the dialogue what he will do to the illegal fish cages, those that are without business permits, Arcinue said he will flush them out. The controversy broke out two weeks ago when TeaM Energy, operator of the power plant, warned Arcinue, Espino and officials of the EMB, BFAR, among others of the danger that the fish cages pose on the continued operations of the plant. Ruben Licerio, plant manager, during the dialogue presented photographs of the plant’s cooling facilities with marine growth, including mussels, already crawling 30-feet underwater into the plant’s perimeter and showed solid traces of residue of fish meals. He recalled that during a strong typhoon in 2009, the plant had to be put on emergency shutdown when bangus that escaped from the fish cages in nearby Anda and Bolinao coastal towns were sucked by the intake pump of the plant’s cooling system. Worse, tons of jellyfish got sucked by the same pump that same year, resulting in a six-hour Luzon-wide power blackout. Interviewed on the fish-kill prospects in the bay area, BFAR Regional Director Nestor Domenden said such phenomenon is caused by overcrowding of fish cages and the use of lowquality fish meal and irresponsible feeding practices. Domenden, however, allayed fears of a fish kill triggered by the Sual fish cages, but cautioned against water-quality deterioration that was monitored by the agency over the past few months. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/nation/20374‐fact‐finding‐team‐fish‐cages‐near‐sual‐ power‐plant‐illegal
Lan nded d Category: Opinion 06 Oct 2013 by The BusinessMirror Editorial Written b THE Depa artment of Agrarian Reform’s (D DAR) distribution n of land titles to the farmers who h have, for decade es, toiled at Hacienda Luisita, one o of the country’s la argest corpo orate farms,, has a proffound symbolic significance in the e governm ment’s agrarian-re eform progra am. It was the late Presid dent Corazo on “Cory” Aq quino who institu utionalized the distribu ution of lan nd to small land dless farmerrs as a po olicy through h the enactment of Repub blic Act 6657 7, or the Com mprehensive e Agrarian R Reform Prog gram (CARP P), 25 years ago. It was the e centerpiece e of her adm ministration’ss social legisslative agend da. Unfortunately, Hacie enda Luisita also epitom mized the faiilure of the CARP beca ause of the m many controversies and ob bstacles surrrounding effo orts to have it parceled o out to its ten nant farmerss. Indeed, over o the yea ars, it has be een used as s a glaring e example of h how big feud dal landlordss with economic c and politic cal power are the first to o refuse rediistributing th heir surplus land among their landless tenants. Critics have been saying g that, for as long as the vastly landed pow werful politicians in governm ment refuse to follow the e agrarian-re eform progra am, nothing will become e of it and it will always be one of those e laws that only o looks go ood on pape er. Despite all a the flaws in the CAR RP’s impleme entation, we e, however, b believe in th he law’s obje ective to help small landless farmers atttain econom mic self-sufficciency. Cory’s so on, Presiden nt Aquino, has h the oppo ortunity to co omplete land distribution under his term and eras se the unde erserved blo ot on his mother’s lega acy that was left by Ha acienda Luisita’s pending controversie es. On Mond day last we eek DAR offficials starte ed distributi ng the Certtificates of Land Owne ership Award (C CLOAs) to 59 97 qualified farmer-bene eficiaries of 10 barangayys in Hacien nda Luisita. The DAR R has filed th he CLOAs of o about 5,80 00 qualified farmer-bene eficiaries witth the Register of Deeds. Each ben neficiary rec ceived over 6,600 squarre meters off land in the e sugar plantation. Unde er the law, bene eficiaries wo ould need to pay amortiz zation for 30 years. The Aqu uino adminis stration still has to com mplete the d istribution o of over a million hectarres of agricultural land natio onwide to ac chieve the government’ss extended C CARP targett.
Of course, the agrarian-reform program’s success doesn’t end with just giving away land titles to small landless farmers. Possessing land alone will not solve the problems of peasants in the countryside. The government must also help them develop productivity plans; get credit for their farms for the purchase of seeds, fertilizers and other equipment; market their produce; and acquire good farming techniques from cooperatives and agricultural schools. It must also fill the gaps in agricultural infrastructure, especially in irrigation and farm-to-market roads. In short, the government must help the CARP beneficiaries become successful farmerentrepreneurs. It must preach the gospel that farming is where the money is and make the country’s mostly old and poor farmers believe in it because it is true. This will encourage more people, especially young people, to take up farming and to see agriculture as a worthwhile entrepreneurial venture. Only then could agrarian reform truly help alleviate poverty and improve food security in the country. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/opinion/20406‐landed
DSWD spends P113-million in Zamboanga relief operations Category: Regions 06 Oct 2013 Written by Manuel T. Cayon ZAMBOANGA CITY—The Army maintains control over a bigger portion of the former battle areas between government forces and armed followers of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Chairman Nur Misuari. The areas are near this city’s downtown. Slowly, the military turned over to city authorities the streets near the City Hall, including the nearby the Lustre Street, where intense fighting happened. By last week the Army had returned to the Department of Health and hospital authorities the operation of the City Medical Center and to owners of the Southern State College, one of the city’s oldest tertiary schools. Elmer E. Apolinario, city assistant administrator, said the military told a coordination meeting that it would be able to finish in two weeks and up to 20 more days its mopping up operations of the four heavily embattled barangays of Santa Catalina, Santa Barbara, Rio Hondo and Mariki. Apolinario said the city government has yet to decide on the fate of the evacuees after the military would have cleared the villages with mostly burned out houses, with options on either relocation to three farflung barangays, or to allow them to return to their villages. He said the main issue in the return of the evacuees would hinge on whether or not they have titles to the lands they occupied before the rebellion or the lands are government-owned. Luzviminda Mindros Ballaho, a barangay health worker of Rio Hondo who coordinated the relief efforts for the displaced residents of the barangay, said her family of six would try to ascertain the genuineness of the alleged title of a 6,000-square-meter lot named to the relative of his husband. “If that is located, then we would go back to Rio Hondo,” she said. Otherwise, the only option left to her family is to migrate to Davao City, where she once lived with her brothers in a barangay near Bankerohan Public Market. She said the evacuees could not decide on where to go to ease out living conditions in the Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex, that the Department of Social Welfare and Development spent P113 million and documented 25,304 evacuees, comprising the 5,350 families from all the affected barangays. Ballaho said that aside from the four heavily affected barangays, five adjacent barangays all along the southern coast of the city were also abandoned immediately after MNLF and government forces engaged themselves in a gun battle on September 9 in Santa Catalina.
APE EC Lea aders s Vow w: No n new ttrade walls s Category: Top News 06 Oct 2013
GLOBAL L growth will probably be e slower and less balancced than dessired, ministe ers from the AsiaPacific Economic E Co ooperation (Apec) member-econom mies said as they agree ed to refrain from raising ne ew barriers to t trade and investment. The world economy is too weak and “risks remain r tilted to the down nside,” minissters from the 21member grouping said in a statem ment in Bali, Indonesia, o on Saturday. The Asia a-Pacific reg gion will hav ve a harder time preserving growth h, given volatility in fina ancial markets and a a slow recovery r in advanced a nattions, Moodyy’s Investorss Service said d. “What we e are sensing is that there is a chang ge in the eco onomic cycle e and sustaiining the levels of economic c growth that we have se een in the re egion over the last five ye ears is going g to become more challenging,” Michaell Taylor, Moo ody’s chief credit c officer ffor Asia, told d reporters in n Bali. The regio on still has a “long way to go” to sh hift from expo ort-led grow wth to that drriven by dom mestic demand, he said. A slowdo own in China a and India is reverbera ating across the region, with the Assian Develop pment Bank forrecasting expansion at a four-year low in 2013 3, putting p pressure on policy-make ers to
bolster their economies. The Group of 20 countries repeated their concern last month that stimulus pullback in developed nations may prove damaging to global markets. “While overall confidence in growth from Asia-Pacific operations remains undiminished, we see many of the uncertainties associated with slow growth, previously limited to the more developed markets, now challenging developing economies, as well,” Dennis M. Nally, chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers International Ltd., said in a report released at Apec that surveyed more than 470 senior company officials in the region.
Open markets APEC ministers said they will recommend their leaders to extend through the end of 2016 a commitment to combat protectionist measures and roll back such policies that exist. “We reaffirmed our commitment to keep markets open and to refrain from raising new barriers to investment or to trade in goods and services, imposing new export restrictions, or implementing WTO-inconsistent measures in all areas, including those that stimulate exports,” the ministers said on Saturday. Sixty-eight percent of chief executive officers in the Asia-Pacific region plan to increase investments next year, with China, the US and Australia among top destinations over the next three to five years, the PricewaterhouseCoopers report showed.
TPP push TRADE ministers are seeking momentum during the Bali meetings on a 12-nation trade pact as concessions sought by countries threaten to delay completion further from the end of 2013. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which involves countries such as the US, Australia, Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam, would link an area with about $28 trillion in annual economic output. “The pattern of aggregate demand is changing in the region, but it is not significant enough to drive growth at the same pace prior to the crisis,” the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council said in a statement to Apec ministers on Saturday. “While investment has been increasing, some of this is due to the very cheap cost of capital during this extraordinary period,” the council said in the statement. “As long-term interest rates return to normal, more needs to be done to improve the investment climates in our respective economies.”
Malaysia risks SPECULATION over the future of the US Federal Reserve’s quantitative-easing program has whipsawed global assets since May, when Chairman Ben S. Bernanke first signaled cuts may start in 2013. Four months of rising bond yields around the world and reduced capital flows
into emerging markets were thrown into reverse by the Fed’s surprise decision in September not to pare its $85 billion in monthly asset buying. China needs more economic and financial reforms, while structural changes in Japan are essential for the country to grow, Taylor from Moody’s said. For Malaysia, Moody’s Senior Analyst Christian de Guzman said risks are tilted to the downside. Prime Minister Najib Razak raised subsidized fuel prices for the first time since 2010 last month and has said he will delay some infrastructure projects, seeking to contain the budget gap after Fitch Ratings cut Malaysia’s credit outlook to negative in July. The government is considering a goods and services tax in the 2014 budget due on October 25.
“While we do have a stable outlook, there has been deterioration in Malaysia’s credit profile over the past five, six years,” de Guzman said in Bali yesterday. “If the measures announced in the budget are not strong enough to move the needle, perhaps we may reconsider the rating. At the same time, we do want to recognize that there are important strengths in Malaysia as well.” Bloomberg News
In Photo: President Aquino answers questions directed to him during the panel discussion in the 2013 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) CEO Summit at the Summit Plenary, Mangupura Room, Bali International Convention Center in Bali, Indonesia, on Sunday. The President is one of the three country heads to deliver a message at the Apec CEO Summit on the topic “Why Inclusive Growth Matters.” (Malacañang Photo) http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/top‐news/20457‐apec‐leaders‐vow‐no‐new‐ trade‐walls
Tribal folk guard sacred Mount Kitanglad By Cai Panlilio Inquirer Mindanao 1:38 am | Monday, October 7th, 2013
MALAYBALAY CITY, Bukidnon—Indigenous people range the whole length and breadth of lush Mount Kintanglad, jealously guarding the riches of the mountain’s rain forest against the greed of outsiders. A prominent family here would have built a rest house in the timberland that adjoins the protected area’s buffer zone had the indigenous people not opposed the planned incursion into the forest. A multinational company that had put up a sugarcane plantation in the buffer zone quit and left Bukidnon, run out by the indigenous people who fought its degradation of the mountain’s pristine environment. Volunteer guardians of that natural wealth, the indigenous people took a village captain to court for allowing the commercial exploitation of the forest. The volunteers are poor but they would not allow other poor people to squat on land within the protected area. With their persistence, local governments just had to respond and clear the reservation of informal settlers. But the indigenous people’s vigilance has been costly. Five volunteers have been killed since 1997, all witnesses in cases the government brought against violators of the law protecting Mount Kitanglad. Protected area That law, Republic Act No. 8978, was passed by Congress in 2000, declaring Mount Kitanglad a protected area because of its biodiversity. The law named the reservation Mount Kitanglad Range Natural Park. To the indigenous people of the area, Mount Kitanglad is sacred and they have their origins from that sacredness of the mountain. Legend says that when a great flood submerged the province of Bukidnon, the only visible thing was lemon grass or “tanglad” on top of the mountain’s peak. “Kita” is Visayan for “to see.” The mountain stretches over 47,270 hectares, composed of 31,326 ha of protected area and 16,034 ha designated as a buffer zone. It straddles parts of the municipalities of Baungon, Talakag, Lantapan, Impasugong, Sumilao, Libona, Manolo Fortich and Malaybalay City, all in Bukidnon. The indigenous people of the region were entrusted with the protection of the mountain range. They were designated the Kitanglad Guard Volunteers (KGV). The volunteers patrol the forest and because of the killings, their responsibility has been limited to reporting violations of the protection law to the park area superintendent’s office. Anchored on culture The KGV was first organized in 1997 through the efforts of the indigenous people’s council of elders, the Kitanglad Integrated Nongovernment Organization and the Protected Area Management Board. From the first 200 members in 1997, the group has grown to 344. The members are confirmed by the council of elders and are deputized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Felix Mirasol, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office head, said the protection of the mountain by the indigenous people was anchored on culture, as it defined their existence.
“They want to volunteer not just for the money but because [the mountain] is part of their domain,” Mirasol said. KGV president Benjamin Maputi said the guards were the frontliners of the mountain range. “Because of our dedication to the protection of the area, people have become aware of and educated on its importance,” Maputi said. Emiliano Lumiston, known in the area as “Blackie,” has been a member of KGV since 2002. He is one of the organization’s officers and serves as the group’s head in Alanib village in Lantapan town. Blackie said he was happy to serve in KGV because the organization helped his community in many ways. He patrols the area once a week with his son, who is also a volunteer. “I want to protect the mountain because I do not want the lowlands to get flooded when it rains,” Blackie said. Meager allowance But happy as he is in serving his community, Blackie needs to earn more for his family, so he does treeplanting surveys for the DENR. “The allowance that we get as volunteer guards is not enough to feed our families and send our children to school,” Blackie said. Each of the 28 villages on the foot of the mountain receives a meager allowance of P5,000 a month, regardless of the number of KGV in any village. Of that amount, P200 goes to the group’s emergency fund. Blackie is one of the “luckier” volunteers who receive more than the volunteers in other villages because there are only eight of them in Alanib. He said there were some villages with up to 20 volunteers dividing the allowance among themselves. “If we are not going to get other contractual jobs, how can we sustain our needs?” Blackie said. Aside from the monthly allowance, the volunteer guards have insurance coverage worth P100,000. Watershed Mount Kitanglad is the watershed that provides water for irrigation, hydropower generation and domestic use for Bukidnon and the nearby province of Misamis Oriental. Mirasol feels that the industries operating in the mountain area should help support the socioeconomic efforts of the indigenous people. “They should look at the livelihood of the indigenous people because these people have so little. They should give back to them and to the mountain for using its natural resources, and that is its water,” Mirasol said. Social fencing In June 1992, President Corazon Aquino signed the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act (Republic Act No. 7586) that grants indigenous peoples the right to remain in protected areas. Indigenous communities serve as a “social fence” against illegal extraction of resources in protected zones, such as illegal logging and wildlife trade. Indigenous communities also protect the land from encroachment.
Before KGV was organized, up to 15 cases of such violations had been filed every year from 1994 to 1997. But with the volunteers taking on the job, the number of cases has gone down to two a year since 2008. Rain forest Mount Kitanglad has one of the few remaining rain forests in the country and is home to a diverse species of wildlife. The forest is also a known nesting place of the threatened Philippine Eagle. “The presence of eagles is an indication there is abundant wildlife on the mountain,” said Edgar Agbayani, a protected area superintendent officer of Mount Kitanglad. Wildlife on the mountain has been increasing since 2002, about the time that illegal activities within the reservation began to decrease, according to Agbayani. Heritage park The Asean Heritage Parks proclaimed Mount Kitanglad, at 2,889 meters the third-highest mountain in the country, a heritage park in 2009. It was the third Philippine mountain to be granted this distinction, after Mount Apo in Davao, at 2,954 meters the highest mountain in the country, and Mounts Iglit-Baco in Mindoro Oriental, home of the “tamaraw.” In the recent Asean Heritage Parks Conference held in Tagaytay City, the protected area managers and staff of Mount Kitanglad Range Natural Park were recognized for their endeavors in preserving the mountain. They received three awards for engagement with indigenous peoples and local communities, the institutional organization and active management board, and actual biophysical improvements.
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2 Napoles children liable in Malampaya Fund scam They also forged signatures, says whistle-blower By Gil C. Cabacungan Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:53 am | Monday, October 7th, 2013
The alleged looting of P900 million from the Malampaya Fund, which was officially meant to help victims of massive flooding in Luzon four years ago, appeared to be a “family business.” A daughter and son of detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles forged the signatures of the supposed beneficiaries of the fund, according to a whistle-blower. One of Napoles’ brothers and a nephew also served as presidents of two of the 12 dubious nongovernment organizations (NGOs) that were used to allegedly steal all the P900 million. Levito Baligod, lawyer of witnesses in the P10-billion pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by Napoles, said he would file an amendment to the plunder charges filed by the National Bureau of Investigation in the Office of the Ombudsman to include Jo Christine and James Christopher Napoles. Jo Christine and James Christopher were called “Neneng” and “Butsoy,” respectively, by their mother’s employees. Baligod said the two would be included in the plunder case for “direct involvement in the falsification and liquidation of documents” involving the P900 million from the Malampaya Fund that was coursed through the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). The money was earmarked for agrarian reform beneficiaries who were adversely affected by the back-toback Tropical Storms “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” in 2009, but the P900 million ended up in dubious NGOs that Napoles had formed. According to Baligod, the two Napoles siblings would join their mother Janet, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, three of her Cabinet secretaries—former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, former Budget Secretary and now Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya, and former Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman—in the case that the NBI filed in the Office of the Ombudsman on Oct. 3 against 24 people. Baligod said the father of the siblings, retired Marine Maj. Jaime “Jimmy” Napoles, would not be included in the case because the testimony and evidence did not show his direct involvement in the scam. Baligod, lawyer of pork scam whistle-blowers led by Benhur Luy and Merlina Suñas, said the former Reform the Armed Forces Movement officer was seen only as “enjoying the luxuries.” The Inquirer on Sunday called up Lorna Kapunan, lawyer of Napoles, to get her side but got no reply as of press time. Youngest child In his affidavit, Luy said Janet’s youngest child, Jeane, was just a recipient of her mother’s earnings as she was studying in the United States. Luy claimed that Janet was a heavy buyer of dollars in the black market. “She uses these dollars to pay for taxes or buy properties abroad. These dollars are also used by Jeane Napoles and (Janet’s brother) Reynald Lim who are residing abroad,” he said.
Suñas, who started working for Janet’s trading firm, Jo Chris Trading, after her retirement from Philippine Navy Naval Construction Corp. in 2000, said she was entrusted by Janet to handle the documentation and liquidation of DAR documents for the Malampaya Fund at a meeting of JLN employees in July 2009. The meeting was held three months before Arroyo and Ermita sent orders for the release of the P900 million to help farmer-beneficiaries recover from their losses from Ondoy and Pepeng. Also at meeting Suñas said Jo Christine and James Christopher were present at the meeting in which their mother and her employees plotted how to profit from the P900 million earmarked for the DAR. Aside from their mother and her JLN employees, the siblings took part in forging the signatures of the supposed beneficiaries of the Malampaya Fund, according to Suñas. “Truth be told, those that we could not finish signing in the JLN Corp. office were brought by Madame Janet Napoles to her house where they continued the signing of the documents along with the house help, drivers and security [guards],” the whistle-blower said. Suñas said Jo Christine and James Christopher had helped in faking the documents as the siblings were top officers of JLN Corp. Jo Christine was vice president for administration and finance of JLN Corp. while her brother was vice president for operations. The siblings held office on the 25th floor of Discovery Center in Pasig City. Suñas said Jaime served only as “consultant” at JLN Corp. although Luy claimed that the former military officer had often served as his wife’s driver. Brothers, nephew Suñas said Napoles also tapped her brothers Reynald Lim and Ronald Francisco Lim, and a nephew, Ronald John Lim Jr., as officers of JLN. Ronald Francisco was vice president for special projects and Reynald was in charge of information technology. Ronald Francisco and John Ronald who were among those charged with plunder last week, served as presidents of two of the dubious NGOs that were used in allegedly stealing all the P900 million. Luy claimed that Jo Christine had also received part of the funds remitted to the dubious NGOs whenever her mother was not at their home on the 18th floor of the north wing of the Pacific Plaza Tower in Taguig City. Luy said Jo Christine and James Christopher were aware of the code names given by Napoles to lawmakers whom she had regularly dealt with. “Tanda” was Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile; “Pogi” was Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.; “Sexy,” “anak” or “kuya” referred to Sen. Jinggoy Estrada. Other codes “Guerrera” was former Rep. Rizalina Seachon-Lanete (now Masbate governor); “Bonjing” was former Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza; “Bulaklak” was former Benguet Rep. Samuel Dangwa; “Suha” was former South Cotabato Rep. Arthur Pingoy; and “Kuryente” was former Apec Rep. Edgar Valdez. Suñas said that apart from the beneficiaries, the signatures of 97 town mayors in Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog and Bicol regions, and the Cordillera Administrative Region (the areas pummeled by Ondoy and Pepeng) were also forged.
“JLN Corp. had on file the previous requests for financial assistance with the Department of Agriculture and we copied their signatures (from these documents) in the (97) letter requests (addressed to Pangandaman) and MOA (or memoranda of agreement given to DAR),” Suñas said. Luy noted that the P900 million from the Malampaya Fund was the second time Janet raided DAR funds. In 2007, Janet’s NGOs took P200 million from DAR funds intended for land reform beneficiaries. Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/501673/2-napoles-kids-face-raps-for-forging-signatures-inmalampaya-fund-scam#ixzz2h0oAw8TT
Abad must take rap for DAP releases—Santiago By TJ Burgonio Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:50 am | Monday, October 7th, 2013
In an unprecedented move, President Aquino invoked the Administrative Code to create the “patently illegal” Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), and for that alone, Malacañang should hale itself to court, former Sen. Joker Arroyo said on Sunday. But given the President’s immunity from suit, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad Jr. should take the rap for his boss, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said. Arroyo said the late President Corazon C. Aquino and former Presidents Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo never invoked the Administrative Code, passed in 1987, to realign funds in the national budget. But the second Aquino administration is now invoking the code to justify the DAP and fund releases to pet projects of senators and representatives after the conviction of Chief Justice Renato Corona in May 2012 “without regard for guidelines,” said Arroyo, who was executive secretary in the first Aquino administration. “Twenty-four years after it was enacted, it’s now being used for a patently illegal program. Why is this administration so aggressive to use it without regard for guidelines, or standards? The four Presidents never used it,” the former senator said in an interview over dzBB. Arroyo insisted that the DAP was illegal because its creation was never authorized by Congress or by law. “There should be a law. No money shall be paid out of Treasury without congressional authority. Otherwise, we’re a dictatorship,” he said. “This is worse than the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) because there is no law.” Popularity, he added, doesn’t give anyone license to commit a crime. Malacañang said the releases were legal, citing provisions of the Constitution and the Administrative Code that authorized the President to realign savings. Constitutional law expert Fr. Joaquin Bernas and former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said Malacañang was not authorized under the law to transfer items in the General Appropriations Act from one department to another. Before filing charges against the next set of key players in the P10-billion pork barrel scam allegedly orchestrated by Janet Lim-Napoles, Malacañang officials should think about filing charges against themselves, Arroyo said. “The problem with Malacañang is that it has no feelings. It doesn’t care whoever gets run over. That’s not good because each one of us has a reputation to protect. Now, they’ve been filing cases, but these have never been heard in court. They should file cases against themselves,” he said. Bid to ‘deodorize’ DAP The former senator earlier cried foul over an attempt by the administration to “deodorize” the DAP by including him among the recipients.
But in reality, he said he requested funds for projects from regular items in the General Appropriations Act, not from the DAP. Following Sen. Jinggoy Estrada’s disclosure of the release of a P50-million “incentive” to senators, Abad confirmed that 20 senators received a total of P1.107 billion in additional pork after Corona’s trial. In May 2012, the senators voted 20-3 to convict Corona of dishonesty in declaring his assets, liabilities and net worth. Senators Santiago, Arroyo and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. voted against his conviction. After filing a flurry of charges against Napoles, senators, former President Arroyo and her Cabinet officials for the pork barrel scam and misuse of the Malampaya Fund, the Aquino administration has found itself fending off accusations that it is guilty too of political patronage by dangling DAP funds to lawmakers. Santiago, for her part, said the executive department’s claim that it was the lawmakers who requested DAP funds did not exclude it from charges.
And since the President is immune from suit, she said Abad should instead be charged with the illegal DAP and PDAF releases, which she said were unconstitutional and constituted bribery. “Absolutely, you could see the criminal mind of the one who thought of this,” she said of Abad when asked over dzBB whether the DAP releases were a bribe. “He didn’t think that this would be uncovered in the future …. The problem is, it was uncovered.” Criminally liable Theoretically, Abad would have to face criminal liability “because this involves public funds, and it qualifies as a crime of malversation” under the Penal Code, Santiago said. If it reaches the threshold amount of P50 million, then it qualifies as plunder, she added. Even if the President is the brains behind the DAP “scam,” the former trial court judge said, “it is the secretary who has to assume criminal liability because you cannot sue the President criminally until his term is over.” Sought for comment, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the government should first determine if the DAP was misused. “What is important in this case is not just the fund, but if there is misuse,” she said over government-run dzRB. She said lawmakers’ nominations for projects to be funded under the DAP had been suspended, but DAP fund releases to agencies continued. Santiago also cautioned the public against using antipork street protests to call for the President’s resignation. She said the two were different matters. “Filipinos are against that. We don’t like illegal or unconstitutional mode of regime change in our country. We prefer to wait for the elections. So the power of the voice of these demonstrations will be diluted once these are used in politics,” she said. Still best for reforms In a statement on Sunday, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda ruled out any attempt to oust Aquino. “Any impeachment is dead on arrival,” he said. “He remains to me the best chance our nation has for reforms to take root and bear fruits for this generation, or at least the next,” said Salceda, an economic adviser to the Arroyo administration. “In fact, there remain more reasons to support him in this period of uncertainty,” he said. Salceda said Aquino’s achievements in the past three years included “quality expenditures on the universal health program, P46 billion in conditional cash transfers, bottoms-up budgeting that increased the Economic Development Fund (EDF) of local governments across the country, the K to 12 program
that puts the country’s basic education on international standards and disaster risk reduction and management program.” It is also on Aquino’s watch that major social policies have been implemented, he said, such as the higher sin tax law and the reproductive health law. However, Salceda said, the “Filipino public, especially the long-suffering masses, the vocal urban middle class and the intelligentsia, must engage him and his team to invest his political capital in accelerating infrastructure, especially for tourism connectivity and countryside and rural development.”—With a report from Mar S. Arguelles, Inquirer Southern Luzon Originally posted: 2:29 pm | Sunday, October 6th, 2013
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/501539/malacanang-should-hale-itself-to-court-jokerarroyo#ixzz2h0obHxDI
Negros, N. Cotabato folk flee floodwaters By Alex V. Pal, Connie E. Fernandez Inquirer Visayas 1:35 am | Monday, October 7th, 2013
Army troopers were called out and helicopters dispatched on Sunday to rescue residents trapped on rooftops after torrential rains triggered unprecedented flash floods in parts of Negros and Mindanao. One of the worst hit was Bayawan City in Negros Oriental where the overflowing Bayawan River raised floodwaters to more than the average person’s height, forcing thousands to flee their homes, rescuers said. Reports from Dumaguete City said at least 4,000 persons were forced to abandon their homes in Bayawan and three towns in Negros Oriental’s third district. Also affected by floods were the towns of Sta. Catalina, Basay and Siaton, said Allen Froilan Cabaron, Office of Civil Defense Negros Oriental coordinator. Troops from the Philippine Army had to take rubber boats from the Negros Oriental State University (Norsu) Bayawan campus in Barangay (village) Carranoche, some five kilometers from the city proper, as the floodwaters made streets impassable by vehicles. Two Army helicopters were dispatched from Cebu to assist in rescue operations. Cabaron said rains had been pounding the towns since Friday. Badly affected were nine barangays in Bayawan— Banga, Poblacion, Maninihon, Villareal, Tuba, Ubos, Pagatban, Kalumboyan and Nangka. Evacuees stayed in the city gym (500), an elementary school in Pagatban (50), the Bayawan National High School (2,523), Norsu (350), the Integrated Business Center (1,000) and an elementary school in Maninihon (20). Cabaron said the number was expected to rise since some residents were trapped on the roofs of their homes. In southern Negros Occidental, more than 1,000 persons in three cities and four towns had to flee their homes. Badly affected in Negros Occidental were the cities of Sipalay, Kabankalan and Himamaylan, and the towns of Don Salvador Benedicto, Hinobaan, Isabela and Ilog, according to the Provincial Disaster Management Office. Provincial Social Welfare Officer Liane Gracia said the total number of evacuees reached 1,010. According to Rep. Mercedes Alvarez (Negros Occidental, 6th dist.), some residents of Ilog town who had initially refused to leave their homes were picked up by speedboats because the Ilog-Hilabangan River was rising. Reports from Pigcawayan, North Cotabato, said hundreds of commuters were stranded for at least five hours when the national highway was submerged in floodwaters Sunday morning. Senior Insp. Donald Cabigas, the town’s chief of police, said the Manuangan River overflowed and floodwaters rushed to the national highway, leaving light vehicles and passengers stranded. “The floodwaters were too strong, only huge vehicles could pass on the highway,” Cabigas said. Residents in low-lying villages fled their homes, seeking refuge in relatives’ homes and village halls. Cabigas said no one was reported hurt in the flash flood, which started to subside before noon Sunday. Heavy rains were also experienced in the towns of Mlang, Tulunan, Matalam and Kidapawan City in the past two days. The weather bureau said the moderate to heavy rains in Mindanao were caused by the intertropical convergence zone hovering over Mindanao and parts of the Visayas.—With reports from Carla P. Gomez and Carmel Matus, Inquirer Visayas; Williamor A. Magbanua, Inquirer Mindanao
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/501757/negros-n-cotabato-folk-flee-floodwaters#ixzz2h0p0m3Gk
Taclo oban airport a rehab faces d delay By Joey A.. Gabieta Inquirer Vis sayas 8:10 pm | Sunday, S Octoberr 6th, 2013
Daniel Z. Roomualdez (DZR) A Airport. Photo from m wikipedia.org w website
TACLOB BAN CITY—T The Departme ent of Budget and Managem ment (DBM) h has realigned d more than P P700 million in ntended for th he rehabilitatio on of Eastern Visayas’ premier airpo ort to the con ntroversial Disburse ement Accele eration Progra am (DAP). The movve was met w with criticism e especially from m the businesss sector, whicch had been ccomplaining a about the lack of better facilities at Danie el Z. Romuald dez (DZR) A irport. In a lette er to Leyte Re ep. Ferdinand d Martin pt. 20, Transp Romuald dez dated Sep portation Secretarry Joseph Em milio Abaya ad dmitted that th he DBM witthdrew the P7 718.75 million n that was parrt of the P1-billion funding fo or the DZR Airport A rehabiliitation plan. The letterr, a copy of wh hich was obta ained by the Inquirer, was in response tto Romualdezz’s inquiry on the status of the t airport’s re ehabilitation plan p that was supposed to be undertake en by the Dep partment of Transporttation and Communications s (DOTC). According g to Abaya’s le etter, about P1 P billion was released to tthe DOTC butt “in line with the DAP,” P718.75 million m was taken from the amount, redu ucing it to P28 81.27 million. The letterr didn’t indicatte when the portion p of the allocation a was removed. Abaya ass sured Romua aldez that the DOTC could still make do o with the rem maining amoun nt since the P281.27 million m could cover c “the inittial requireme ent for the resst of our devellopment planss for the Tacloban Airport.” He added d that the gove ernment rema ained committted to finish tthe project byy 2016 when P President Aqu uino’s term ends s. With expe ected changes s of the price levels, he ad dded that the budget for the e DZR Airporrt rehabilitation plan migh ht be adjusted d by the National Economic c and Develo opment Autho ority. From an earlier e budgett of P2.8 billio on, the DZR Airport A rehabillitation projecct would be givven an alloca ation of P2.12 billion b instead d, Abaya said.. The rehab bilitation of DZ ZR Airport, wh hich has 14 daily d flights, ha as been in the road map fo or more than a decade no ow. The Taclo oban Airport in n Barangay Costa C Brava, San S Jose disttrict, here wass constructed d in the 1960ss. The airport wa as later renam med after form mer House Sp peaker Daniel Z. Romualde ez, an uncle o of former first lady and now Ilocos I Norte Rep. R Imelda Romualdez R Marcos. M
Its rehabilitation plan has been in the pipeline since the term of former President Fidel V. Ramos but it had not taken off. It was supposed to be funded by the Japanese government through its Japanese Bank for International Cooperation but part of the funds was said to have been diverted to Bacolod-Silay International Airport in Negros Occidental and the procurement of the seacraft from Australia during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. President Aquino in his State of the Nation Address vowed to upgrade the airports in Tacloban, Mactan Island in Cebu, and Puerto Princesa City in Palawan. He, however, did not say when the actual work would start and where to source the needed funding. Now, when the budget had already been allocated, the DBM decided to get a huge chunk of it. Go Tic Cheng, president of Tacloban Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce Inc., said the withdrawal would only delay the project. â€œThe passengers have suffered long enough with the sorry condition of our airport,â€? the congestion and lack of ventilation at DZR Airport.
he said, referring to
Orlando Uy, former president of Leyte Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said he was surprised that a portion of the budget was removed when the project would not only benefit the people of Tacloban but the entire Eastern Visayas.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/501649/tacloban-airport-rehab-faces-delay#ixzz2h0pFCHB9
Bidding woes hound airport By Mar S. Arguelles Inquirer Southern Luzon 8:07 pm | Sunday, October 6th, 2013
LEGAZPI CITY—Construction at Southern Luzon International Airport in Barangay (village) Alobo, Daraga town, Albay province, has been delayed for almost a year now after being put on hold by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), said Albay Gov. Joey Salceda. Salceda on Friday has expressed dismay over the delay that, he said, was being caused by technical problems in the bidding process despite an initial P970-million funding that should hasten construction of the airport runway. He said the delay had pushed back project completion beyond the target date of 2016. Salceda said the project should have been started this year but because of the May national and local elections, the project has been put on hold by the DOTC. He cited another drawback after the project was awarded to Sunwest Construction Corp. in October 2012. The award was questioned by other bidders, who pointed out flaws in the bidding process, prompting the DOTC to raise the case to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) for resolution. The OSG, after hearing the case, issued a ruling awarding the construction project to Sunwest, and the DOTC thereafter issued a notice to proceed on Aug. 6 this year. Another cause of delay was when Sunwest Corp., which is based in this city and owned by Elizaldy Co, asked that it be reimbursed losses incurred when the heavy equipment they used were destroyed by lawless elements as the company was preparing the village for the project’s full implementation. Co has reportedly been identified as an ally of the previous Arroyo administration. He is a brother of Ako Bicol Rep. Christopher Co. Sunwest’s request for reimbursement is pending for consideration of the DOTC, triggering another ground for delay of the project, Salceda said.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/501645/bidding-woes-hound-airport#ixzz2h0pbinj4
300 villagers flee military operations in ComVal Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:06 pm | Sunday, October 6th, 2013
DAVAO CITY—Close to 300 people left their homes in Sitio Side 4 in Barangay (village) Manggayon in Maco, Compostela Valley, on Friday as fighting between government troops and communist New People’s Army guerrillas intensified. Fearing they might get caught in the crossfire, 227 people left Manggayon to head for neighboring Sitio Lobog in Barangay Ngan, where soldiers and town officials fetched and brought them to the Compostela town gym, 1st Lt. Vilma Mojado, the Army’s first communication information company commander, told the Inquirer. But Bello Tindasan, spokesperson of the Compostela Farmers’ Association, said the Matigsalog lumad fled because they were against the 25th Infantry Battalion’s (IB) plan to stay in their community for three weeks. He said some 120 soldiers in full battle gear and with heavy artillery arrived in Sitio Side 4 on Oct. 2 and stayed in their community. “They asked the military to pull out but the military said they will stay for a few more days until they have finished their operations,” Tindasan said in a statement. Christina Lantao, a Matigsalog woman leader, said she was worried that the farm, which they replanted after Typhoon “Pablo,” their farm animals and the school they were building would be destroyed. “We have a 61-hectare farm, some horses, pig and chickens; we have four classrooms that are not yet finished. We just want to recover from Pablo,” said Lantao. Tindasan said other communities in Compostela town also face displacement because of the intensified military operations. “The number of evacuees is increasing as other militarized communities start leaving their homes,” he said. “They refuse to go back to their communities unless the military pulls out, at least 800 to 1,000 meters away.” “We call for the immediate withdrawal of the 25th IB from the ancestral land to allow the lumad to continue their community rebuilding efforts,” he said. Sheena Duazo, secretary general of the human rights group Karapatan, also said a Matigsalog family was “threatened” and was stopped from leaving the area. Duazo identified the family as Tigkay Dayagmos, his wife Julieta and their four children, and a certain Rito Tibalao. She did not elaborate. Mojado denied this, saying the troops of the 25th IB and the Compostela town officials helped the residents to safety. Mojado also said a brief firefight ensued when communist rebels fired at the responding troops belonging to the 25th IB on their way to Sitio Side 4. Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/501641/300-villagers-flee-military-operations-incomval#ixzz2h0pmuS8h
Negrros stu udents help frree stra anded dolph hin By Alex V. Pal Inquirer Vis sayas 8:05 pm | Sunday, S Octoberr 6th, 2013
STUDENT TS of Tanjay City C Science High H School, supervised s byy Philippine Co oast Guard Au uxiliary voluntteer Jac Senag gan (left), pro ovide care for the stranded d Risso’s dolph hin off the Ta anjay City sho oreline last Thursday.. SIDNEY R. LEE/CONTRIB L BUTOR TANJAY CITY—News C of a beached d dolphin clos se to their sch hool on Thursday led some e curious stud dents of Tanjay City Science High School to the shoreline of Barang gay (village) T Tugas in Tanjay City, Negrros Oriental, to t catch a glim mpse of the marine m mamm mal. Joining the growing cro owd that gathered at the sh hore that noo on, they saw tthe mammal a and wished th hey could be of o help. Before the ey knew it, the ey found them mselves in chest-deep watters assisting the stranded d Risso’s dolp phin (Grampus s griseus) afte er they were deputized d as Sea Scouts b by Philippine C Coast Guard Auxiliary (PC CGA) 206th Squ uadron voluntteer Sidney R. R Lee. The stude ents—Carissa a C. Borromeo o, Danica B. Cornelio, C Dia na B. Cornelio, Kristine Ma ae R. Ebarita, Lorelie S. Calumpang and a May Lynn ne S. Guevarrra—said it wa as a “life-chan nging” experience.
The 8-foot sea mammal, weighing about 170 kilograms, had been there since Thursday morning and was starting to show signs of fatigue and stress. Lee said the first responders, led by Jac Senagan of the 206th PCGA Search and Rescue Squadron, needed extra hands to relieve them in keeping the dolphin afloat and wet without letting water in its blowhole. “Luckily, the science students were there in the nick of time, willingly skipping a meal just to help.” Angeline S. Dy, provincial president of the Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network, gave everyone a crash course on proper stranded marine mammal supportive care.
The students named the dolphin Amelia after Amelia Earhart, the first woman pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Dy, who suspected illness and malnutrition as the probable cause of the stranding, later on released Amelia to reunite with its pod in deeper waters amid the cheers from the students. “The students were so touched by their encounter with the dolphin that they all said they wanted to take up marine biology when they get to college,” Lee said. Amelia was the second Risso’s dolphin that ran aground in Negros Oriental in October. Last Wednesday, another dolphin measuring 9 feet and 10 inches was stranded in the adjacent coastal city of Bais, which has a booming ecotourism industry in whale and dolphin watching. The dolphin was given care and later on released to the sea by members of the Philippine Coast Guard and the 206th PCGA Squadron, together with city officials of Bais City and employees of the city tourism office. In Pangasinan, a rare striped dolphin was found stranded at a Lingayen beach in Lingayen town on Friday. Personnel from the provincial disaster risk reduction and management council tried to bring the dolphin back to the Lingayen Gulf but it kept on returning to the shoreline, according to council head Fernando de Guzman. Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) veterinarian Dr. Samantha Licudine said the 2.2meter adult female dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) had a tear near its right fin, which “could have been caused by a predator.” She said the dolphin returned to the shore because it could not swim well. “It was listing and could not balance itself,” she said. The dolphin was taken to the BFAR’s National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Center in Dagupan City, where it will be treated before being released back to the sea. With a report from Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/501635/negros-students-help-free-strandeddolphin#ixzz2h0q15fMJ
PDIC starts paying rural bank depositors Oct. 9 By Paolo G. Montecillo Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:03 pm | Sunday, October 6th, 2013
The Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC) will start paying claims of depositors of closed Rural Bank of Sto. Tomas on Oct. 9, the state-run firm said in a statement. The state deposit insurer said servicing of claims for accounts maintained at the bank’s head office would be conducted at the bank’s premises along R. Magsaysay Avenue, Sto. Tomas town, Davao del Norte province, until Oct. 14. Meanwhile, claims of depositors of the bank’s Braulio Dujali branch will be serviced at its premises located in Poblacion Dujali, Braulio E. Dujali town, Davao del Norte province, until Oct. 11. Claims of depositors of the Asuncion branch will be serviced at its premises at E. Aguinaldo corner A. Mabini St., Poblacion, Asuncion town, Davao del Norte province, also until Oct. 11. “Depositors whose accounts have balances of more than P15,000 and who have outstanding obligations with Rural Bank of Sto. Tomas regardless of type of account are required to file their deposit insurance claims,” the PDIC said.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/501631/pdic-starts-paying-rural-bank-depositors-oct9#ixzz2h0qLiCCB
‘Beneficiary’ says he learned from fertilizer scam By Kimberlie Quitasol Inquirer Northern Luzon 12:17 am | Sunday, October 6th, 2013
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—A Benguet town official who denied benefiting from P900 million of the Malampaya Fund in 2009 said he and other officials avoided that trap by heeding the lessons from the 2004 fertilizer fund scam. Kibungan Mayor Benito Siadto said many Cordillera communities had sought aid from Malacañang or Congress to build farm-to-market roads instead of farm supplies after studying how detained Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante allegedly distributed P728 million worth of fertilizers to generate votes for former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her allies. The so-called scam was first raised in 2004 by Sen. Panfilo Lacson but it became a full blown scandal in 2006, prompting Bolante to fly to the United States. He was repatriated in 2008 and was subsequently charged with malversation along with other Department of Agriculture officials. “We learned from the Joc-joc Bolante [incident] that soft projects are usually [vulnerable to] scams, so our project requests since then have been [for the construction of] farm-to-market roads and other hard projects,” Siadto said. Hard projects are infrastructure projects financed by the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or the pork barrel. Siadto was listed among mayors whose towns were supposed beneficiaries of farming kits that would have been coursed through the Department of Agrarian Reform using the Malampaya Fund. The project involved agrarian reform communities ravaged by Typhoon “Pepeng” in 2009 but the money was allegedly siphoned instead by fake nongovernment organizations (NGOs) linked to detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles. Siadto said authorities had yet to invite him to an investigation regarding the Malampaya Fund. He said he learned that Kibungan was a supposed beneficiary from a list posted in August by the Inquirer. Because of the publicity surrounding the fertilizer fund scam, Siadto said many Benguet mayors became wary about projects that involved farm inputs, like fertilizers, farm tools or medical kits. He said these projects could be manipulated to generate kickbacks. “Besides, what we really need in Kibungan are farm-to-market roads,” he said, adding that many farmers there already have the tools and could source out their own farm inputs. He said the recent scandals have enraged upland communities because it made the process of securing support from Congress more difficult. “Every time we request for funds from congressmen and senators, they tell us that there are no available funds, even after we put up with the stringent requirements. And yet, Napoles was able to get P10 billion easily,” he said. Kibungan was also listed among towns identified as pork barrel beneficiaries, by Napoles’ NGOs, based on a special audit report covering 2007 until 2009 by the Commission on Audit (COA). Siadto said the COA wrote him in 2009, asking if Kibungan received farm materials worth P10 million that was financed by the PDAF of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile. He informed the COA that the town had not received any allocations.
The mayor said he received a subpoena from the National Bureau of Investigation in September, inviting him to shed light on the town’s part in the scandal. The COA report said Kibungan’s P10-million allocation was facilitated by the National Agribusiness Corp., which transacted through an alleged Napoles NGO, the Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (Mamfi). They were supposed to supply 100 Kibungan farmers with wheelbarrows and knapsack sprayers but the town had not received any of these items, Siadto said. He said he had informed the Office of the Ombudsman that documents indicating that he received these supplies were fake. One such document is a delivery receipt for the supposed farm tools that were received by one Solas Lagua. Siadto said only seven of the 100 supposed beneficiaries listed by Mamfi were Kibungan residents. “The supposed list of beneficiaries looked like they used common Kibungan surnames and attached the first name that came to mind, and only seven matched real residents,” he said.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/501265/beneficiary-says-he-learned-from-fertilizerscam#ixzz2h0qcqica
Crossroads Philippine Daily Inquirer 7:56 pm | Sunday, October 6th, 2013
The Second Million People March that converged at the corner of Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas in Makati City on Friday failed on important counts—but succeeded where it counted the most: It kept up the pressure on the government to fully abolish the pork barrel in all its forms. It brought people back into the streets. It happened. In terms of sheer number, the turnout was disappointing. The logistical decisions made—to time the rally at the end of the working week, to site it in the middle of the central business district— were designed to attract as many people, especially the middle class who populate Makati City during office hours. But only about 3,000 people showed up, including a sizable delegation from Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and other leftist organizations. As Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes wrote in his blog, “The Left brought in people early to the Ayala rally, occupying a huge space that was there when the program was about to start and the Makati employees had not arrived.” In terms of movement unity, the flurry of behind-the-scenes activity at the rally was disconcerting. To cite only one instance: Co-organizer Peachy Bretaña, who was abroad, asked via Facebook that the video message she had prepared not be shown at the rally anymore; hurried calls from friends changed her mind, and the video was played. Why did she consider withdrawing the video? Journalist-turned-change-activist Inday Espina Varona summed it up in a Facebook note: “In Peachy’s case, it was info coming in saying the rally was going to end with a call for PNOY’s ouster.” There are other concerns to consider in the conduct and outcome and aftermath of the Oct. 4 protest, but it is this hint of a dividing line, involving President Aquino, that defines the antipork movement at this stage. “Personally, I am not calling for the ouster or resignation of P-Noy. What I want is for P-Noy to listen,” political satirist Mae Paner, better known as “Juana Change,” told the Inquirer. In his lengthy and revealing blog post, Reyes declared, “Aquino is THE biggest hindrance to the removal of the pork barrel system” (emphasis his). And yet both Paner and Reyes played key roles in the Oct. 4 protest. It is only reasonable to assume that one reason for the drop-off in participation from the 100,000-plus who trooped to Rizal Park on Aug. 26 for the first Million People March and the 3,000 who went to Ayala last Friday has to do with popular perception about Mr. Aquino and his role in the removal of the pork barrel system. Is the President in fact help or hindrance? Many people may have stayed away because they did not appreciate what sociologist Randy David described in his column yesterday as “the deliberate attempt to redirect public outrage and focus it on President Aquino.” As a “netizen” quoted in an Inquirer post-rally story phrased it, in Filipino: “There are anti-P-Noy [protesters] here, that’s why only a few joined [the protest].”
This is not to say that the public does not hold Aquino accountable; it may be that further revelations about the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program will seriously damage the President’s popularity, or that the intended fallout from Sen. Jinggoy Estrada’s privilege speech needs more time to reach and irradiate the Palace. But it may also be that the public, contrary to the expectations of political operators and observers alike, does see through all the clutter and confusion of the last few weeks. Perhaps it knows that all pork must go, even that of the President’s, but it also recognizes the distinction between the use of pork as political resource and as source of corruption. The antipork movement faces a crossroads, then. It is possible that it can attract many more citizens disgusted with the pork barrel system to its protests (which we believe must continue), but only if it assumes that not all politicians are alike, that some are in fact corrupt and have grown fat on pork. One possible problem (and a reason why some protesters fear a “hijacking” of the movement by much more experienced, much more disciplined leftist groups) is fundamental: The Left understands a rally’s “common theme” in a specific way. “The common theme or call is not a ceiling or a cap. It is the minimum basis of unity for holding the event,” Reyes explained in his blog. But others understand the theme the other way around; it is the maximum basis for holding an event, otherwise protesters will be seen as supporting other demands they had not agreed on. Decisions need to be made, and not only about logistics.
Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/62897/crossroads-2#ixzz2h0r1Iyg6
BANK LOSES CASE HONORING CHECKS OF WRONG PERSONS Submitted 13 hours 59 min ago by Amado P. Macasaet. The Bank of the Philippine Islands admitted before a regional trial court that it knew of the controversy between two groups in Phicomsat Holdings Corp., a public company 80 per cent owned by the Philippine Communication Satellite Corp. Yet, the bank allowed the encashment of more than P102 million worth of checks brought to the branch by the other group. RTC Judge Selma Alaraz of Branch 62 of the Makati recently ordered BPI to return to the legitimate faction - that of Erlinda Bildner-Ponce Enrile - the amount the bank allowed the Locsin group to encash. Alaraz said in her ruling “BPI’s decision to assess the circumstances of both groups and act as adjudicator of competing claims constitutes sufficient grounds to hold it liable for the return of funds to PHC’s account.” The records show that the so-called Locsin group held its own election of the board of directors and officers in 2004. Since then, the Locsin group has been running the company although the members of his clique only had nominal shares to qualify for seats in the board. The record shows that on Aug. 31, 2004, the Securities and Exchange designated a 3-man nomelec to supervise the annual stockholders meeting. The SEC validated the proxy held by the group headed by Enrique Locsin, Manuel Nieto/PCGG. The SEC considered them reelected to the board. The other group, that of Africa/Ponce Enrile/ Bildner protested the election of the Locsin group before a court on Sept. 10, 2004. Branch 138 of the Makati RTC invalidated the election of the members of the Locsin faction and declared that the legally elected officers and members of the board of directors were those of the Enrile/Bildner group. The BPI was notified or knew of the ruling but continued to honor transactions of the “iIIegal” group of Locsin. The Africa, Bildner, Enrile group filed a complaint against BPI on Sept. 9, 2007 for specific performance and damages. The Locsin group issued a check for P10 million to Concepcion Poblador. The check was honored by BPI in spite of being informed that the legally elected directors and officers were of the Africa, Bildner, Enrile faction. The check was accepted by the bank on the same day judge Alaraz issued a writ of preliminary injunction on BPI stopping the bank from further transacting with the Locsin group on matters covering deposits of the PHC. On Aug. 19, 2008 the bank filed with a Makati regional trial court as “interpleader” against Concepcion Poblador as chair of the Locsin. However, the bank did not freeze the accounts of PHC. It continued to honor the transactions of the Locsin group. More than P102 million was withdrawn. The Bildner group now says the Locsin faction could not explain how the P102 million in corporate funds were disbursed. In its defense, the officials of the bank including the president and chief executive officer claimed that the company actually benefited from the disbursements.
Judge Alaraz stressed in her ruling “it (allowing the encashment of the checks) is a clear act of gross negligence by BPI to honor the (Locsin group) as the legitimate PHC boards while it is openly admitted that there are pending cases yet to be resolved to finally determine the real group entitled to PHC deposits.” The transaction is said to have been allowed on the opinion of Alfonso Versosa, BPI’s chief litigation officer. In the case for specific performance and damages BPI hired lawyers from ACCRA Law Offices. Lorna Kapunan and Dennis Mansanal were the lawyers of the Bildner group. The case is said to be affected with public interest not only because shares of PHC are listed (but later delisted at the behest of the PCGG). By cascade, the state is also a stockholder of PHC. The government has 35 per cent of Philippine Overseas Telecommunications Corp., the mother company which fully owns the operating arm, the Philippine Communications Satellite Corp. (Philcomsat) In turn, Philcomsat owns 80 per cent of PHC. The holding company is supposed to be principally engaged in money market operations. Its biggest asset is more than 400 hectares of property in Tanay, Rizal, site of Philcomsat’s earth station. There are no records that indicate PHC is a sequestered company. However, the PCGG caused the annotation of all the land titles in Tanay.
2% OF BIR COLLECTION LOST TO BOI PERKS Tax incentives eat only a small portion of government revenues according to the Board of Investments (BOI). BOI executive director Efren Leano said based on a study, incentives granted to firms represent only 2 percent of the collections of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). Leano said the estimate value of incentives to registered firms is about P14 billion a year , a small amount considering that BOI alone registered P360 billion worth of projects in 2012. About 70 percent of the actual incentives granted were to projects in the power sector, a critical industry at this time when additional supply is critically needed. Leano said the internal findings of the BOI on the cost benefit analysis of incentives -- perceived as revenue foregone -- is being validated by a third-party research to ensure impartiality. The analysis contain the actual taxes paid and the investment that came in. Those findings are deemed important for the BOI to continue pushing the retention of incentives. A new bill filed by Rep. Gabriel Luis Quisumbing , believed to be a version of the Department of Finance (DOF) is about to rekindle debates over the incentives issue. The Department of Trade and Industry and the DOF have previously agreed on a compromise bill that limits the incentive to a preferential 15 percent income tax rate for 15 years for BOI-registered companies. Export firms, particularly those registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), will get a 5 percent corporate income tax rate over a period of 25 years. Both rates would be based on gross. A source at PEZA said the proposal is being opposed by the agency since it caps the life of the incentive. At present, PEZA-registered companies enjoy incentives in perpetuity. The BOI has its own opposition over Quisumbing’s bill. The source said his version seeks to centralize all data generated by the investment promotions agencies in the course of granting specific perks to enterprises. While the intention is to put in place transparency as this would trace and monitor the flow of incentives, the source said BOI feels this could potentially be a source of harassment for businesses in terms of reporting and submission requirements. The BOI, the source said, stands pat that administration of incentives still rests in the agency’s hands. Evaluation of projects is the purview of the BOI but the BIR still has the last say when it comes to actual incentive availment. The source added the Bureau of Customs similarly has control of the actual importation of enterprises of goods, raw materials or equipment that are subject to incentives. Another sticky issue that could stir further debate is the proposal to set aside a “fund” or an amount from the annual budget from which incentives granted to firms would be drawn from. The source said this is hard to administer as one cannot predict the amount of incentives, and investments for that matter, that would come in a given year. Once the incentives fund is used up, incoming investments will not be able to get a share.
The source said the Department of Budget and Management has also opposed this scheme since this could put their accounting in disarray. Several versions of the incentives bill have been re-filed in Congress, including those of Reps. Rufus Rodriguez and Mark Villar in the House of Representatives; and Senators Cynthia Villar and Ralph Recto at the Upper House.
PH UP FOR MORE UPGRADES Submitted 13 hours 59 min ago by Anonymous. The Philippines got Moody’s rating upgrade because the country proved resilient to the global market mayhem last May. Another good thing going for the Philippines is that due to this resilience, Moody’s retained a positive outlook on the new rating. Tim Condon, regional economist of ING Bank said that the Philippines is on a “rating upgrade cycle” and is now in a group called 9B or sovereigns having 3 BBB-equivalent ratings. Moody’s upgrade last Thursday gives the country a triple-win after 2 other global rating agencies —Fitch and Standard and Poor’s—also upgraded the country to investment grade level. Condon said the positive outlook means Moody’s believes the country’s current growth and debt handling will support further upgrades. “The sovereign is on a rating upgrade cycle,” Condon said in an email. Condon said that the Philippines grew by 7.6 percent in the first half of the year. He noted, however, that consumption has been fueling the growth. “We think what Moody’s means by “improvements in growth dynamics” is that the investment rate, which has languished near 20 percent since 2005, needs to rise,” Moody’s said. Despite receiving investment grade ratings earlier this year, the country still attracted few foreign direct investments (FDIs) for the first half of the year. Condon also said that the strong first half growth was despite a 3.4 percent contraction in exports. “(Philippines needs) accommodative financial policies for boosting domestic spending,” Condon said. On a positive note, Condon said that a side benefit was making the Philippines’ PSEi one of the few Asian stock indices to outperform developed market equities in the first part of the year before the market turmoil. Also, the peso’s underperformance during the market turmoil was associated with a 17 percent fall in the PSEi. “Bottom line, we expect a significant retracement in the PSEi’s loss in the fourth quarter. We also expect the associated hot money inflows eventually to pull up the peso but BSP US dollar buying to replenish reserves will delay the effect,” Condon said.
Condon, at the same time, lowered ING’s inflation forecast for the Philippines to 2.7 percent from 3.1 percent following the release last Friday of actual headline inflation results for the month of September. ING’s forecast is even lower than the full-year target of BSP which ranges from 3 and 5 percent. “Headline and core inflation have fallen from 3 percent at the beginning of the year to 2 percent. We recently revised our full-year forecast to 2.7 percent from 3.1 percent,” Condon said, adding that they also reiterate their forecast that the “BSP is on hold for an extended period.” The National Statistics Office (NSO) on Friday reported that headline inflation rate in September 2013 accelerated to 2.7 percent, from 2.1 percent in August 2013, but lower than 3.8 percent in September 2012.
Amando Tetangco, BSP Governor, said that September’s level is within their forecast range of between 1.9 and 2.8 percent. “This reaffirms our assessment that inflation would remain manageable over the policy horizon." “The BSP will adjust policy settings, as appropriate, consistent with our price and financial stability objectives,” Tetangco added. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan explained that the uptick in overall consumer prices in September was due to higher prices of major commodity groups, particularly food and non-alcoholic beverages; alcoholic beverages and tobacco; housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels; and health. Balisacan, who is also NEDA Director-General, stressed that despite the rise in price indices of rice due to the lean season, inflation in the food subgroup remains stable at 2.5 percent. Excluding selected food and energy items, core annual inflation moved up 2.3 percent in September from 1.9 percent in August.
PINOY FRENCH FRIES FLY HIGH IN THE US Submitted 13 hours 59 min ago by Anonymous. Filipino-owned French fries retailer, Potato Corner, is hitting it big in the United States. Sales from the US will outpace those from local stores by 20 to 30 percent by next year according to Jose Magsaysay Jr., chief executive officer of Potato Corner. In an interview on the sidelines of the Association of Filipino Franchisers Inc. (AFFI) franchise show at the World Trade Center last Friday, Magsaysay said that the US operations is growing so fast that most of the additional 100 stores to be opened in 2014 would be located there. Magsaysay said the US operations is run under a joint venture. The joint venture is the only second of two Filipino brands allowed to franchise in the US after Max’s. Potato Corner now has 20 stores in the US and will open 6 more until the end of the year. Magsaysay said the US consumes a lot of French fries that revenues almost match those of all the local stores’ combined. Potato Corner opens three stores in the US each month The wholly owned US based company, Potato Corner International, Inc. and through its subsidiary PCJV LLC in the US is the a full pledged franchisor company. Magsaysay said part of the success of Potato Corner in expanding overseas, which started in 2006 in Jakarta, Indonesia, is that it did not target Filipinos in these areas. “We are mainstream. Our focus is to make Potato Corner, a Filipino brand, global,” Magsaysay said. In the Philippines, Potato Corner has 320 stores and will end the year with 350. It eyes to open 38 more in 2014. He said in the Philippines French fries has become a basic staple in the Philippines and no longer a side dish or add-on in quick service restaurants. In movie houses, French fries are even outselling popcorn,” Magsaysay said . Aside from US, Indonesia and Malaysia, Potato Corner will also conquer the Middle East Africa, Panama and even Mexico. In the Middle East, the Al-Homaizi Group, which handles the master franchise of Burger King and IKEA in the region, has obtained the franchise for Potato Corner in the Middle East, including Egypt. The first store will open in November in Dubai. Magsaysay said in Africa, Potato Corner will be present in Botswana. In Mexico, Magsaysay is in negotiation with a multi-million dollar company which has operations in all of that country’s airports. This year, Potato Corner hopes to grow by 35 percent; same- store sales are expected to rise 25 percent.
FPI NOTES NEW WAY TO SMUGGLE CIGARETTES Submitted 14 hours 1 sec ago by Anonymous. The Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) issued its concern regarding the new modus operandi on cigarette smuggling in the country. The FPI a small player in the cigarette industry which used to corner a miniscule portion of the market has made a meteoric leap and now has 18.7 percent share of market. FPI did not name this company. The FPI said, this company sells its products to retailers at P16 per pack. The FPI added that simple arithmetic will show that after paying excise tax of P12 and the 12 percent VAT, the company is left with P2.30 to cover direct material cost, factory overhead and operating margins. The FPI said it is impossible to manufacture low-priced cigarettes at that amount especially for a small scale manufacturer with lower economies of scale.
AQUINO PUTS ON SALESMAN’S HAT; BUSINESS CLIMATE, GOVERNANCE OFFERED AT APEC, ASEAN MEETS PRESIDENT Aquino arrived in Bali, Indonesia yesterday for the 21st Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Summit (until Tuesday) and the 23rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei Darussalam (until Thursday). Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said the government will spend P14.3 million for transportation, accommodation, food and equipment and other requirements of the President, who arrived at Ngurah Rai International Airport at around 11: 45 a.m. The President took a chartered Philippine Airlines plane with Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima; Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo; Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan; Cabinet Secretary to the President Jose Rene Almendras; Presidential Management Staff head Julia Andrea Abad; and Presidential Protocol chief Celia Anna Feria; for the APEC Summit. Deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte said Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario and Secretary Ramon Carandang of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) had flown ahead of the 84-man delegation to Indonesia. Vice President Jejomar C. Binay; Ochoa; Pasay Rep. Emy Calixto Rubiano; Pasay Mayor Tony Calixto; Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Emmanuel Bautista; PNP chief Alan Purisima; Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino de la Cruz; Army Commander Lt. Gen. Coballes; Manila International Airport general manager Jose Angel Honrado and other government officials sent off the President to Bali. Upon arrival, Aquino attended the APEC where he was a panelist in the session on inclusive growth along with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra of Thailand and President Ollanta Humala of Peru. Aquino explained why inclusive growth matters in the Philippines and shared some of the reforms that his administration took in the last three years that “have borne a lot of fruit in terms of increased confidence in the Philippine economy and in the management of the economy.” He also attended the dinner hosted by the APEC CEO Summit that was held at Nusa Dua Beach Hotelon last night. On Monday, Aquino will meet the members of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) to discuss the Philippine initiatives on food security; infrastructure investment; Small, Micro, and Medium Enterprises (SMEs); trade in services; skills and education of women; and the economy, before attending the APEC Leaders Meeting where the agenda would focus on attaining the Bogor Goals; achieving sustainable growth and equity; and promoting connectivity. The following day, the President would join the APEC Leaders’ retreat where he is expected to discuss people-to-people connectivity and call for the increasing of cooperation in cross-border education and skills training, which is a fundamental step in aligning human resource development with economic growth and resiliency; and attend the closing event and adoption of the APEC Leaders’ Declaration. Aquino, before leaving Manila, reiterated the Philippines’ commitment to enhance its cooperation with the different countries in Asia Pacific region by pushing for increased trade and investment during the APEC Summit.
He said he would also push for the strengthening and renewal of ties between the Philippines and Indonesia, which have been longtime partners in peace, especially in terms of economy and trade. â€œNagbubukal ang malawak at pang matagalang kaunlaran sa matibay na samahan ng mga bansa. Naipupunla ang kasaganahang kapaki-pakinabang sa bawat bansa sa maayos na ugnayan, sa patas na kalakalan, at paglalatag ng pagkakataon para sa ating mamamayan. Ang paglipad natin sa Indonesia para makilahok sa ika-21 APEC Economic Leadersâ€™ Meeting ay patunay sa dedikasyon natin tungo sa katuparan ng adhikaing ito,â€? he said. The President said during the Apec Summit that he expects the world leaders to come together to develop policies aimed at improving the business environment in the region amid the global crisis, improve the level and quality of education in the region, boost infrastructure, and promote the plight of micro-small-and medium enterprises. Aquino is also looking forward to his meeting with the other world leaders and the executives of the different companies to be able to invite them to invest in the Philippines. In Brunei Darussalam, the President will join other Asean leaders in the 23rd Asean Summit and attend eight other related meetings on October 9 and 10 which include the following: 16th Asean-Japan Summit; 16th Asean-Republic of Korea Summit; 16th Asean-China Summit; the 1st Asean-US Summit; the 16th Asean-plus three Summit; the 8th East Asia Summit; the 11th Asean-India Summit; and the 5th AseanUnited Nations Summit. Aquino said his attendance to the Asean Summit will provide an opportunity to showcase before world leaders and investors the accomplishments of his administration in implementing widespread and meaningful reforms in governance as well as its advocacies on climate change and disaster management, maritime security, and free trade agreement through a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. - See more at: http://www.malaya.com.ph/business-news/news/aquino-puts-salesman%E2%80%99s-hatbusiness-climate-governance-offered-apec-asean-meets#sthash.6aSHcntH.dpuf
STILL ON OFFICIAL CORRUPTION... LAS Vegas is my official residence in the USA, where I vote, and where I run away to the second half of the year--to avoid drowning in Manila floods, what with my osteoporotic legs. My many Filipina friends in Las Vegas want me to tell them who are those tourists from the Philippines who sashay into their 5-Star, signature stores–Dior, Ferregamo, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada and all those pricey stores to order two of these, three of that, one black and one white of those…. Seeing that a handbag or a pair of shoes is more than a thousand dollars, an outfit is anywhere from four to eight thousand dollars, and jewelry and trinkets so much more overpriced… my friends who are in merchandising in Las Vegas are appalled at how much money these nameless, nondescript faces of Filipino tourist can afford such spending. Where do they get that kind of money? “They don’t look like an Ayala or Madrigal or those billionaire Philippine taipans, or those old rich types. Trained salespeople in fancy stores in Las Vegas are trained to be very discriminating, snooty. “These Pinay tourists who spend thousands of dollars look so masa, they talk pedestrian Pilipino, they act so ordinary. Where do they get the money? These friends pressure me for what I think are the sources of money of these Pinay tourist shoppers. I tell them: From what I observe from my wealthy acquaintances and relatives, the old rich are very frugal with shopping. These old-wealth Filipinos keep a medium-tight hold on their checkbooks. I cannot imagine even the wealthiest of them coughing up $1,000 for a purse. Prior to these past weeks, I myself had no idea where that kind of shopping money comes from spent like water by women described by Las Vegas salespeople as “they talk pedestrian Pilipino, they act so ordinary, so masa.” Prior to these past weeks, I myself had no idea where those kinds of Filipino tourists get that kind of shopping money. The past month’s news report on extensive, trickle-down (to the lowest rank) government stealing and corruption of billions from people’s taxes got me to finally realize who those shoppers in Las Vegas are. From covering media releases the past month, those Las Vegas shoppers with unlimited funds would have been spending hand-outs from Philippine government officials in Congress, Cabinet, etc.–wives and family, mistresses, in-laws and other relatives, chiefs of staff-cum-girlfriend, and other staff-cum girlfriend in congressional and cabinet offices, kept prostitutes, favored movie starlets. From some reports, certain corrupt government officials have their attentions on their families’ nannies, housemaids and even cooks. Maintaining such relations with household staff, the latter no doubt get their share of the flow of hushcash. They too get to have trips to Las Vegas to do their own shopping. E.g., “They talk pedestrian Pilipino; they act so ordinary; so masa,” according to Filipino salespeople in Las Vegas. No wonder merchandisers in 5-Star shops in Las Vegas find those moneyed shoppers nondescript, ordinary, pedestrian, masa, some even describe those big time Pinay shoppers as baduy. Of course they are baduy. Most can spot baduys a mile away when they are spending stolen people’s tax money supplied by corrupt government officials. - See more at: http://www.malaya.com.ph/business-news/opinion/still-officialcorruption#sthash.zyhlwPpt.dpuf
20 YEARS OF ONION SMUGGLING… CRIMINALITY in onion production was not first exposed by TV5 as claimed. I published the below 20 years ago. Will the Bureau of Plant Industry and corrupt civil servants in the Department of Agriculture please stand, and be recognized? And Lea Cruz, Onion Queen? The following is a reprint of my column, Oct. 21, 1993, Editorial page, Malaya: I was invited to sit in as an observer at a UPLB ACCI meeting where about 60 women, all wives of onion planters in Luzon were verbalizing their desperation. They came to UPLB to find sources of seeds, plants, information, and empowerment to alleviate their misery. The solitary male in the group was also an onion farmer, the husband of one of the women present. He was the spokesman of the group; his statements clear, his cause legitimate. He carried a few copies of a 13-page position paper, laboriously typed on cheap bond, with this opening statement: “We, 192 in number, wives of the Onion Growers, Samahang Nayon ng mga Ginang sa Kabukiran Onion Growers Cooperative Inc., together with our husband-farmers, of the nine barangays as a lead area with land area of 299 hectares consisting 2,014 soil-handlers who are suffering from economic desperation. Our children have been out from their schools because of poverty.” My Oct. 21, 1993 column summarizes the crucial information from their Position Paper left with me: We need to help our members not only to generate production loan but more to help them improve the quality and quantity of our products so that we can generate more income to pay our loans, preserve and maintain our status as good borrower and be bankable. This can be done by proper training and good discipline. The effect of this is to sustain the needs of our children. We want an efficient Cooperative for Onion Growers to free ourselves from the tricks and manipulations of usurers and the Chinese traders from Divisoria. We, onion growers, are victims of this kind of activities of the Chinese traders for 20 years. True the Chinese traders help us by giving loans for our production costs. In exchange, they control everything from the sale of seeds, fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, also cash for labor. Worst, these Chinese control the market of our products from harvest and the manipulation of price during sale. These Chinese demand payment of our loans at 12 percent interest in the form of goods– onion–and they establish the price which is of course very cheap. The tactics of the Chinese is to delay the liquidation of the loans so his interest grows. We own the land but these Chinese consider us tenants because they can dictate to us everything. The Chinese have calculated our production cost per hectare at P12,000 and based on this, they determine the worth of our onion yield. This is not a correct figure. In fact, it costs usP42,000 to produce a hectare of onion: Land preparation, P6,000; labor, P7,500; irrigation, P4,000; seeds, P10,500; fertilizer, P2,000; herbicide, P500–the last three bought overpriced from the Chinese. We desperately need a better source of financing or credit in order to get away from the usurious practices of the Chinese traders from Divisoria who control everything and get a lion’s share from our income. The net profit to us per hectare should be at least P65,000. Onion is a high value crop. But we, the onion growers, get for work on a hectare from September to February (five months) P12,000 and the Chinese usurers get P53,000. We conclude therefore that if the government will loan to farmers enough capital and then we have proper technology, fair and standard prices for our products together with systematic marketing, we can attain the net profit of P187,458 per year, per hectare, per farmer.
Our average household expense in only P8,926 per family. The tangible savings P6,695.60 per month. So in one year the farmers have a savings of P80,345.20. Therefore, we can pay our loans upon maturity together with interest. (End of the issues of the Position Paper.) What happened next? One long decade of Reign of Greed. Hundreds of containers smuggled in, full of onion from China and Taiwan, arriving regularly with unpaid import taxes, preferred by Taipans to sell in their supermarkets, underpriced, bought and cooked by 100 million un-nationalistic Filipinos who donâ€™t care that the imported onions on their tables are killing local onion farmers. - See more at: http://www.malaya.com.ph/business-news/opinion/20-years-onionsmuggling%E2%80%A6#sthash.Zpwdljnb.dpuf
PNoy rules out second term even if Charter allows it By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted 8 hours ago | 430 views Bali — After the Philippines was described as the region’s “rising star” by industry leaders in the Asia-Pacific region, President Benigno Aquino III expressed confidence the reforms he had instituted would be continued by his successor after he steps down in 2016. After the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit forum on inclusive growth, where he and Peruvian President Ollanta Humala gave the keynote speeches, Aquino was asked if he was open to running for a second term if it could become constitutional. “Probably not,” said the President who has repeatedly said he is looking forward to the end of his six-year term in his previous speeches. “There are decisions that need to be made that are not politically palatable but are politically correct,” Aquino said. “You are not afraid to make unpopular decisions if you are not worried of the next elections, otherwise there is the temptation to try and please the people all the time even if the decisions are not correct.” The President said it was only a matter of making citizens appreciate his administration’s reform measures to ensure that, in the next elections, the voters would demand the same platform from the presidential candidates. “If our people will be used to this kind of governance, whoever will be perceived as the one who will continue our reforms will get elected,” Aquino said. He underscored the importance of inclusive growth in ensuring political stability and economic sustainability in his keynote speech. He cited the Philippine experience where a substantial amount of the national budget had been used to finance social services in education, health and poverty alleviation. He also bannered his administration’s dole to four million poor families, the Reproductive Health Law, and the Sin Tax Reform Act increasing the taxes on tobacco and alcohol to boost health services.
“These are direct government interventions that we are pursuing as a proactive way of encouraging the equitable distribution of wealth—part of a concerted plan to ensure that all sectors take part in economic growth and partake in the prosperity it brings,” Aquino said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/07/pnoy‐rules‐out‐second‐term‐even‐if‐charter‐allows‐it/
PH as 4th ‘dark horse’ seen to pull off surprise By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted 8 hours ago | 469 views Bali — The Philippines has been ranked as the fourth “dark horse” in terms of growth and investment potential by industry leaders in the Asia-Pacific region. The Philippines was tied with Vietnam in fourth place—ahead of India, the United States, Japan and Russia—in the 2013 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Survey. The “dark horse” is defined in the survey as “the one economy in the region CEOs could surprise with more opportunity than is currently expected.” Of the 478 industry leaders surveyed, 19 percent went for Indonesia, 11 percent for Myanmar, eight percent for China, and seven percent for the Philippines and Vietnam. The majority of the CEOs surveyed also plan to increase investments in the APEC economies next year. But Denis Hew, director of the APEC Policy Support Unit, said uneven growth was still expected in the Asia -acific region. “Among industrialized and newly industrialized economies, there are signs of a turnaround in economic growth, although at a moderate pace,” Hew said. “However, growth in APEC emerging and developing economies is trending downwards.” Hew said the Philippines, in particular, recorded a contraction in export earnings this year, but Presidential Communications Development Secretary Ramon Carandang said the export industry had always been volatile. “What is important is that our domestic economy is strong—we have high remittances as well as tourist arrivals,” Carandang said. The Philippines became the fastest-growing economy among the member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in the first quarter of the year, with its expansion second only to China in the region. But by the second quarter the Philippines was already tied with China, making it the best performer among the emerging economies in the Asean region.
Meanwhile, the Aquino administration is lukewarm to joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade pact being pushed by 12 member-economies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation goup. “We are still studying, doing our homework on whether to join or not,” Carandang said. “There are concerns that we might have to amend our Constitution to be able to join the TPP. “If we have to amend our Constitution, then it might be harder for us to join.” In Manila, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Finance are now reviewing the Foreign Investment Negative List with a view to easing the restrictions on foreign ownership. United States Secretary of State John Kerry earlier announced that the talks on the trade pact were forging ahead despite President Barack Obama’s absence in the APEC CEO Summit here in Bali due to the US government shutdown. Kerry and US Trade Representative Michael Froman have expressed confidence on achieving a self-imposed year-end deadline for reaching an agreement on the TPP. Washington considers the TPP its “best vehicle” to advance its economic interests in the region. The free-trade zone would link an area with about $26 trillion in annual economic output. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/07/ph‐as‐4th‐dark‐horse‐seen‐to‐pull‐off‐surprise/
CHED execs question P10-b US research bid By Christine F. Herrera | Posted 8 hours ago | 183 views Officials of the Commission on Higher Education on Sunday questioned the legality of the P10billion US-based Philippine-California Advanced Research Institutes projects on health-related sicknesses such as dengue, malaria, cholera, asthma, tuberculosis and others, saying the US had no expertise as these illnesses did not exist in the United States. CHED Commissioner Nenalyn Defensor, former Commissioners Nona Ricafort and CHED Director Carmina Alonzo, said these health-related diseases would be done in the US and bankrolled by the Philippine government when those illnesses were endemic to the Philippines, a tropical country. They said the Palace’s own Government Procurement and Policy Board had recommended that the Department of Budget and Management and CHED secure a Department of Justice legal opinion on the P10-billion five-year PCARI project. They said those projects were best handled by the Departments of Health and Science and Technology, but the DOST had already rejected the project, invoking Republic Act 9384 or the Procurement Act that says bidding can only be exempted on projects from “foreign grants.” The three officials said the GPPB found it questionable that the Philippines would grant P10 billion to the US without proper bidding. They said this was the first time that the Philippines granted P10-billion in public funds to a foreign country. In their joint letter to CHED chairman Patricia Licuanan, the CHED officials said the CHED and DBM could not show any contract or transaction between the University of California Berkeley and CHED. Palace documents showed that Budget Secretary Florencio Abad had already approved the hiring of consultants in a “negotiated procurement” since they were to do work that was “highly technical or primarily confidential.” Ricafort and Defensor, sister of Senator Miriam Defensor, have withdrawn their signatures from all CHED en banc resolutions until after the Justice Department came up with a legal opinion.
Alonzo also resigned as chief of the Bids and Awards Committee after the Budget Department failed to provide her a legal basis for the P10-billion Philippine grant to UC Berkeley. The CHED officials demanded that Abad and Licuanan provide them the details of the five-year PCARI projects, but to no avail. But Palace sources furnished the Manila Standard with the allocations for the 25 projects under the PCARI that would run for the next five years. The documents belied Abad’s claim that the PCARI project was only worth P1.9 billion. In their letters to Licuanan, Ricafort, Defensor and Alonzo insisted that they had been told that the PCARI was a five-year program with an annual allocation of P2 billion. Abad has said that the correct amount for the controversial project is not P10 billion but P1.9 billion. “Everything she [Ricafort) said was wrong,” Abad said. “Abad is evading the issue,” Ricafort had told the Manila Standard. “I am not questioning what he said was a beautiful project. What I am questioning is the legal basis for it because he and CHED chairman Patricia Licuanan seemed to pursue the project even if it would mean massive misuse of public funds in the next five years with the US getting the P10-billion funding, and without the US granting a counterpart funding.” The Palace documents show a list and a breakdown of the P10-billion research project that includes 13 PCARI research projects on health-related illness with annual allocation for the next five years. Some P264.37 million was allocated annually for TB Control via novel efficient and low-cost technologies. At least P65.44 million was earmarked for advanced metagenomics diagnostics of Philippine respiratory and enteric pathogens; P85.43 million for high throughput screening of Philippine terrestrial and marine organism for anti-malaria; P186.97 million for Filipino asthma study of genes, environment and evolution and P240 million for the genetic of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease risks in the Philippine population. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/07/ched‐execs‐question‐p10‐b‐us‐research‐bid/
‘Poll fraud benefited LP’ By Christine F. Herrera | Posted 9 hours ago | 821 views
Tingting: Cheating rampant last May The election watchdog led by President Benigno Aquino III’s aunt Margarita Cojuangco on Sunday accused the ruling Liberal Party of cheating in the May 2013 elections, saying LP candidates benefited from 70 clustered precincts that had a 100 percent voter turnout—and where even the votes of the dead were counted. Isang Bayan Isang Boto co-convenor Worthy Acosta said cheating was rampant nationwide. “Electoral fraud was discovered nationwide, particularly in areas that were declared ‘zona libre’ (free zones) where the President’s allies slugged it out with the Liberals,” Acosta told the Manila Standard. Among the clustered areas that had 100 percent voter turnout were Abra, Apayao, Basilan, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Tawi-Tawi and Sulu, Acosta said. In these areas, Acosta said the senatorial and congressional candidates belonging to the opposition United Nationalist Alliance obtained zero votes, which was statistically impossible. “Most of these clustered precincts with 100 percent voter turnout were in opposition bailiwicks where UNA candidates obtained zero votes and the Liberals, 100 percent of the total votes cast,” Acosta said. In some areas, the Liberals obtained 99 percent of the total votes cast while the UNA and the independent senatorial and congressional candidates would share 0.50 percent and 0.18 percent, respectively. Cojuangco said they found evidence to prove that the 60-30-10 voting pattern was consistent with the results in that the Team Pnoy candidates getting 60 percent of the total votes cast, the UNA bets getting 30 percent and the rest of the independent bets sharing the remaining10 percent. “The Team PNoy senatorial candidates were digitally elected and the real voters were disenfranchised,” Cojuangco charged. Cojuangco ran but lost under the banner of UNA, whose president is Vice President Jejomar Binay. At least 110 LP candidates won House seats.
But Cojuangco said Binay had nothing to do with her group’s nationwide probe of the May elections. Cojuangco reiterated that the government is now spending P30 million “to fix the mess and cover up the crime.” Among those who most benefited in the fraud was Senator Grace Poe, who ranked No. 1 in the recent polls. Cojuangco said she had brought the issue to the attention of Commission on Elections chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr., who chose “not to dignify” her accusations. “I do not want to answer your queries,” Brillantes told Cojuangco in a letter, in response to her question as to why safeguards for the automated polls were “deliberately ignored.” “We have sufficient reasons and evidence to believe that the 2013 elections were rigged. That massive and nationwide election cheating happened. That cheating was done using preprogramming of PCOS and servers casting doubts on the integrity of the 2013 elections. That the election results were not credible from the proof I have,” Cojuangco said. Cojuangco urged her nephew-President to investigate the matter, considering that it was his team that benefited from the electoral fraud. “The President was indignant of the alleged electoral fraud that happened during the previous administration. It is therefore incumbent upon him to be indignant of the electoral fraud that took place under his watch,” Cojuangco told the Manila Standard. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/07/poll‐fraud‐benefited‐lp/
Philhealth sets P63-b payments By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Posted 9 hours ago | 59 views The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. Is expected to pay at least P62.98 billion to its beneficiaries for 2013, representing a 34% increase from P47 billion last year. Philhealth president and CEO Alexander Padilla said the corporation has been releasing some P1.2 billion a week for benefit payments. From January to June this year, he said PhilHealth reimbursed P 26 billion, which is 30 percent higher than the P20 billion disbursed during the same period in 2012. Padilla attributed the increase to the enhanced PhilHealth benefits which substantially cover hospital expenses of members and their dependents. Nine out of ten Health-licensed hospitals are now PhilHealth accredited for a total of 1,622 health care providers nationwide. Over 24,414 health care professionals have also been accredited across the nation. Meanwhile, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto is pushing for the enactment of a bill that would provide mandatory PhilHealth coverage to all senior citizens – without distinction –. Under the law, only those considered as indigents enjoy Philhealth benefits. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/07/philhealth‐sets‐p63‐b‐payments/
BSP okays $436-m Japanese rail loan By Julito G. Rada | Posted 9 hours ago | 95 views The Monetary Board, the policy-making body of Bangko Sentral, has cleared the government’s $436-million loan from Japan International Cooperation Agency that will fund the expansion of Light Rail Transit lines. Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco Jr., who also serves as the chairman of the Monetary Board, said over the weekend the approved loan at low interest rates involved 43.252 billion yen or about $436.2 million. “This loan is supposed to fund the capacity enhancement of mass transit systems in Metro Manila. They call it the MTSP, or the Mass Transit System Project of the DOTC [Department of Transportation and Communications],” Tetangco said. Official development assistance loans require approval from the Bangko Sentral, which is authorized to control the size of the country’s obligations and keep the debt service burden at manageable levels. The government and Jica signed the loan agreement as early as March 2013 to support the capacity enhancement of mass transit systems in Metro Manila, which involves the procurement of rolling stock and installation of facilities for the LRT Line 1 extension and the LRT Line 2 extension. The government is preparing the bid documents for the LRT Line 1 extension to Bacoor, Cavite and Line 2 extension from Santolan, Quezon City to Masinag, Antipolo City. Tetangco said the capacity expansion project was expected to mitigate traffic congestion and air pollution in the metropolis. “So it is a foreign loan [official development assistance] designed to fund infrastructure projects. It had a previous approval in principle but this is the final approval,” Tetangco said. He said the loan has a 40-year maturity inclusive of a 10-year grace period. It also has interest rates of 0.20 percent per annum for non-consulting services and 0.01 percent per annum for consulting services.
“This low rate is now reflected in this loan. But this is highly concessional… It has low rates which of course is very favorable for us,” Tetangco said. The Transportation Department earlier said it would rebid the P60-billion LRT-1 extension project to Cavite after revising the terms of the auction. The original Aug. 15 bidding of the project was declared a failure because the lone bidder, the consortium led by Metro Pacific Investments Corp., did not comply with the requirements. Light Rail Manila Consortium, a joint venture between the Ayala Group and MPIC, was the only party that gave a qualified offer with certain conditions. AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp., a unit of Ayala Corp., pulled out of the project. The three other pre-qualified consortiums of San Miguel Corp.’s SMC Infra Resources Inc., DMCI Holdings Inc., and MTD-Samsung Consortium of Malaysia and Korea also withdrew their bids. The government said it was expecting construction works for the project to commence early next year. Under the public-private partnership scheme, about half of the P60-billion project cost will come from the private sector. The government, on the other hand, will take care of the other half for the acquisition of 39 new light rail vehicles through the ODA loan from Jica. The rail project will extend the 20-kilometer LRT-1 system, which runs from Roosevelt Avenue in Quezon City to Baclaran, by an additional 11.7 km to Bacoor. Once completed, the project will increase the ridership of LRT-1 from half a million to about 700,000 commuters daily. It was also seen to provide faster and easier transportation for the residents of Cavite, Paranaque and Las Pinas. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/07/bsp‐okays‐436‐m‐japanese‐rail‐loan/
NEA: 11 cooperatives need financial support By Alena Mae S. Flores | Posted 9 hours ago | 26 views The National Electrification Administration has identified 11 out of the total 114 electric cooperatives in the Philippines as “ailing,” or those with huge debt, negative networth and continuing losses that need to be addressed. NEA deputy administrator Edgardo Piamonte in a paper said the ailing electric cooperatives are Pampanga Electric Cooperative III, Camarines Sur Electric Cooperative III, Albay Electric Cooperative, Masbate Electric Cooperative, Ticao Island Electric Cooperative, Northern Samar Electric Cooperative, Basilan Electric Cooperative, Tawi-Tawi Electric Cooperative, Sulu Electric Cooperative, Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative and Maguindanao Electric Cooperative Inc. Piamonte said these electric cooperatives had high system losses, huge liabilities, low collection efficiency, negative networth and institutional problems such as governance. They are also incurring losses. Piamonte said NEA can provide options for ailing electric cooperatives to ensure their delivery of electric service in their area of coverage. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/07/nea‐11‐cooperatives‐need‐financial‐support/
BSP offers to buy Egyptian currency By Julito G. Rada | Posted 8 hours ago | 33 views The Monetary Board, the policy-making body of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, approved the opening of a currency exchange facility that will allow overseas Filipino workers and their families returning from Egypt to exchange Egyptian pounds for Philippine pesos. “At present, the Egyptian banknotes are not convertible to pesos. It is not part of our international reserves. The facility was established as part of the BSP’s initiative to assist [migrant workers] displaced by the conflict in Egypt,” Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. told reporters over the weekend. The central bank is assisting thousands of migrant workers under five currency exchange facilities. These were put up in 1990 for the Kuwait-Iraq war; the US-Iraq war in 2003; the IsraelHezbollah conflict in 2006; and the Libyan and Syrian uprisings in 2011. “Under the facility, migrant workers and their Egypt-based family members will be allowed, through the BSP head office, its regional offices and branches, as well as authorized agent banks, to exchange their Egyptian pounds to Philippine pesos up to a maximum amount equivalent to not more than P10,000 per eligible person,” Tetangco said. He said the workers and their family members should present documentary proof of their travel from Egypt, like original passport or certified true copy of the travel document issued by the Philippine embassy in Cairo stamped with an exit visa by the Egyptian immigration. Tetangco said the currency exchange facility would be available for six months. “Those who returned from Egypt starting Aug. 15, 2013 and onwards can exchange their Egyptian pounds for pesos until the facility closes,” Tetangco said. He said the conversion of Egyptian pound to pesos would be based on the latest available exchange rate at the time of the exchange. He added the central bank would shortly issue the implementing circular covering the guidelines of the facility. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/07/bsp‐offers‐to‐buy‐egyptian‐currency/
Govt keeps option to sell $1-b bonds in the international market By Jennifer Ambanta | Posted 9 hours ago | 17 views The Budget Department said Friday the government will keep its borrowing plan for 2014, including the sale of $1 billion worth of bonds in the international market. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the government was still considering the sale of the offshore bonds despite ample liquidity in the local credit market. He said the bond sale, apart from financing the budget deficit, would keep the government’s communication lines with the global market open. “They [Finance Department] are positively still considering that, we have to continue our relationship with the international bond market, it is not always that availability of onshore funds will always be there,” Abad said. He said the government was monitoring the condition of the external market before issuing the offshore bonds. Meanwhile, Abad said the government’s interest payments would decline after the Philippines received an upgrade from Moody’s Investors Service. “It can only go down, especially now, that one of the big credit rating agencies has upgraded us to investment grade,” Abad said. He said interest payments were estimated at 15.5 percent of the 2014 budget. Abad said despite the controversy surrounding the budget system, the government was confident it could keep the deficit within the target of two percent of the gross domestic product. He said there was more room for the deficit to expand since the government might incur an additional P14-billion gap due to a temporary restraing order on the disbursement acceleration program. Abad said the government would file a petition to soften the rules of the court’s temporary restraining order.
Abad said P14 billion in savings were allocated for the rehabilitation of Zamboanga City and two other provinces in Mindanao, which were battered by typhoon Pablo. The budget deficit is expected to fall within the target range of 2 percent of the GDP in the third quarter. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/07/govt‐keeps‐option‐to‐sell‐1‐b‐bonds‐in‐the‐ international‐market/
Moody’s upgrade to boost economy By Julito G. Rada | Posted 9 hours ago | 32 views The Bangko Sentral expects the economy to sustain its strong growth in the coming months, after the country received its third investment-grade credit rating from Moody’s Investors Service last week. “The potentials for upside are greater than the risks on the downside for the Philippine economy,” Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said over the weekend. “What is significant about the rating action is that the outlook was also positive… We have to take this in the context that the Philippines was one of the very few countries that have been upgraded in this period of global financial volatilities,” Tetangco said. Tetangco said the strong growth was accompanied by an improvement in the government’s fiscal position, debt ratio and balance of payments. He said the gross domestic product expanded 7.6 percent in the first half, which was one of the fastest in the region during the period, while the debt-to-GDP ratio declined and the balance of payments posted a surplus. “We have reduced our foreign borrowings because we are getting a lot of forex [foreign exchange] from other sources. We have portfolio investments, direct investments, BPO [business process outsourcing], and remittances. Without having to borrow, we are witnessing a positive balance in various external accounts. So we are getting more forex receipts than we are spending,” he said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/07/moodys‐upgrade‐to‐boost‐economy/
PNoy fires LTO chief Torres October 6, 2013 9:58 pm by DR. DANTE A. ANG CHAIRMAN EMERITUS THE MANILA TIMES Land Transportation Chief Virginia Torres was finally shown the door, a reliable source told The Manila Times over the weekend. She was asked on Monday by PNoy to file her letter of resignation. Torres, who is currently being investigated by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) for violation of a circular prohibiting government officials and employees from playing in the casino, was called on Monday afternoon to Malacañang for a meeting with President Benigno Aquino 3rd. Before her meeting with the President, Torres, according to our source, already suspected why PNoy would want to see her. Someone from the Palace must have tipped her that she would be asked to resign. Before the President could say anything, she tried to explain her side on various issues besetting her. The idea was to convince the President that she deserved another chance at the LTO. The President was reportedly unmoved. At the end of Torres’ narrative, PNoy said that she should submit her resignation citing as reasons “various threats to her life.” A presidential relative tried to intercede for Torres. He talked to the President to reconsider his decision, but PNoy wouldn’t change his mind, the Times learned. Torres had to go. As of this writing, Torres has yet to submit her letter of resignation to the Palace. Several factors have conspired that made the President fire the LTO head. Chief among them was the casino incident. She must have thought she was out of the woods when Pagcor came to her defense saying that the place where Torres played the slot machine could hardly be classified as a casino. She thought, wrongly, that the people, more particularly those around the President, would take the Pagcor definition of what constitutes a casino hook, line and sinker. She was wrong. It only made her look ridiculous. Also, her denial that she played the slot machines was one for the books. She said that she was lured to the machines by the lights and that she only tried it briefly while waiting for her restaurant bill to come. Never mind if she was photographed actually playing with both feet comfortably resting on the slot machines. She left immediately after settling her dues. She was lying of course, many people thought. But the final blow did not come from her detractors in the Palace, or the DILG or DOTC, both departments known to be Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas’ “kingdom.” It was from her old backer, the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), no less. What must have sealed her fate was the report that she was
expelled by the religious organization for engaging in gambling, an absolute no-no for INC members. After her expulsion, she had lost her last remaining defender following President Aquino’s crumbling support for his friend. PNoy and Torres go back a long way. He, as Tarlac’s First District Representative and she, as LTO director for the same province. They would go on a target shooting practice together. Torres was among the first appointees of PNoy when he assumed the Presidency in June 2010. PNoy genuinely liked Torres. No amount of intrigues or black propaganda campaign would diminish his support for the LTO chief. Even at the height of the Stradcom controversy when she was seen on TV entering the LTO IT-provider offices, the President stood by his friend. (For the record, I supported Torres then and I still do particularly on the P4-billion LTO payable to Stradcom which is currently held in escrow. I also support the Sumbila group in its legal battle with the Quiambao faction.) It was no secret that when Roxas took the helm of the DOTC after the resignation of Secretary Ping de Jesus, the President gave Roxas a free hand to pick his people. With the exception of Torres, PNoy reportedly asked the new DOTC Secretary to consider retaining her as LTO chief. From the beginning, Roxas was uncomfortable working with Torres. Roxas brought along with him lawyers from the Carpio, Villaraza, Cruz law firm to DOTC. They, as well as others not from CVC, were reportedly recommendees of Atty. Nonong Cruz, a senior partner at CVC. Some of these CVC lawyers were with Cruz when he was Presidential Legal Counsel and DND Secretary during Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidency. Save for one lawyer, who was brought by Roxas himself to DILG as an undersecretary, the individuals originally recommended by Cruz were reportedly all placed in strategic and sensitive DOTC offices. Roxas sees Torres as a spoiler. Rightly so. The LTO chief had direct access to the President. And so, Roxas kept his peace. He wouldn’t risk earning the ire of the President so he played along and bided his time. Unknown to Roxas, Torres sincerely tried to work as harmoniously, peacefully and productively with Roxas and his successor, Sec. Joseph Abaya at the DOTC. She wouldn’t want to be seen as the “odd man out.” She wouldn’t “rock the boat” that could breach her relationship with Roxas and Abaya, according to the Times’ source. Even at the height of the P1-billion highly questionable bank withdrawal from an escrowed account by Stradcom, Torres kept her mouth shut and refused to do anything that would go against the position taken by the Secretary. She did not intervene in the recommendation of Abaya that the P1-billion of the P4-billion be unlocked and withdrawn in favor of Stradcom’s Quiambao faction allegedly to pay various trade obligations, including some P300 million it owes the BIR despite the fact that it was Torres who brought the interpleader suit before the QC Regional Trial Court which resulted in the freezing of the funds. The moment the P1 billion was withdrawn from Land Bank, Quiambao turned around and defied Abaya and the President’s instructions to pay Stradcom’s trade obligations. The BIR and others
were left holding the proverbial empty bag. The BIR has written Stradcom to release the money but Quiambao is defiant. The wonder of it all is why Abaya gave this favor to Stradcom and Quiambao. And, even after the President and his people questioned and condemned his action, why has Abaya been absolutely silent about it. What gives? With Torres finally out of the LTO, the last remaining cobweb for Stradcom/Quiambao at the DOTC has been cleared. Will the interpleader case filed by Torres before the QC Trial Court be dismissed or withdrawn? Recall that it was Torres who brought the suit to determine who the real stockholders of Stradcom are. What happens next to the P3 billion held in escrow? Will it be unfrozen and released in favor of the Quiambao group? Abangan. http://manilatimes.net/pnoy‐fires‐lto‐chief‐torres/42644/
SANDIGAN KEEPS GMA IN DETENTION October 6, 2013 9:57 pm by JOMAR CANLAS SENIOR REPORTER JAILED former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will stay locked up as the Sandiganbayan is expected to announce its decision denying her petition for bail. Arroyo, who has been under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, was charged with plunder over the alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds. Associate Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, who was recently appointed Presiding Justice of the anti-graft court, voted against the bail petition. According to an unimpeachable source, three justices cast votes denying bail for the former president and now Pampanga representative. The Special First Division of the Sandiganbayan will come out with the ruling on Arroyo. The ruling was anchored on the certification made by Arroyo’s co-accused and former PCSO official Benigno Aguas that the money went to Malacañang. The justices ruled that the evidence of guilt is strong enough for Arroyo to be denied bail. Arroyo and Aguas will be denied bail in this case. The Sandiganbayan First Division is headed by Associate Justice Efren dela Cruz. The members are Associate Justices Rodolfo Ponferrada and Rafael Lagos. The source said Ponferrada made a dissent, which caused a Special Division of five justices to include Tang and Associate Justice Jose Hernandez. The same source told The Manila Times that Aquino rewarded Tang by appointing her to the anti-graft court after she reopened the plea bargaining agreement case of former military comptroller Carlos Garcia and for voting to deny Arroyo’s petition. Tang’s appointment was also backed up by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who like Tang graduated from San Beda College, and Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza. Tang was a former Assistant Solicitor General before her appointment to the Sandiganbayan. Another Tang backer is San Miguel Corporation President Ramon Ang. Tang is vital in the cases of SMC involving presidential uncle Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco. In the case of Arroyo, the vote of Tang ensured that the lawmaker will spend a longer time in detention. Arroyo had asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the P365.9-million plunder case against her for allegedly misusing PCSO intelligence funds.
Arroyo invoked her right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty under Article III, Section 14 (2) of the Constitution and Rule 115, Section 1 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure claiming that the case filed by the Office of the Ombudsman should be quashed for lack of probable cause. She claimed said Section 3 of Rule 131 of the Revised Rules of Evidence provides that an accused is presumed innocent by submission of evidence, adding that she has a right for acquittal under Section 2 of the same Rule. She pointed out that even in the preliminary investigation by the Ombudsman, necessary elements of plunder under Section 2 of Republic Act No. 2080 were not established as the law requires commission by a public officer or connivance with relatives or subordinates in amassing ill-gotten wealth worth at least P50 million. Arroyo asked the Supreme Court to stop the Sandiganbayan from hearing the case. http://manilatimes.net/sandigan-keeps-gma-in-detention/42642/
US shutd down n fearrs cast clo oud o on APE EC su ummit Octoberr 6, 2013 9:56 pm
Presid dent Benign no Aquino 3rd 3 on Sund day chats w with Peru P President Olllanta Huma ala during d the APEC A CEO Summit in Bali, Indon nesia. MALA ACAÑANG PHOTO NUSA DUA, Indone esia: The Un nited States government g t warned on Sunday thatt business in n America was sufferin ng from the federal f shutd down as con ncern about Washington n’s policy paralysis s was voiced d at an Asia-Pacific summ mit where P resident Barrack Obama a was a notable absentee e. The first governmentt closure in 17 1 years has s directly affe ected hundrreds of thoussands of federal employee es, but Com mmerce Secrretary Penny y Pritzker sa id companie es were also o starting to h hurt, not least from her de epartment’s inability i to co ollate vital ecconomic datta. “The shu utdown is nott good for bu usiness. It’s not good forr the econom my,” Pritzkerr told reporte ers at the Asia--Pacific Econ nomic Cooperation (APE EC) forum o n the Indone esian island of Bali, whicch Obama has h been forrced to skip to t deal with the political crisis gripping Washing gton. “And we need to mov ve on with th he business of doing bussiness in the e United Sta ates. So, I am m hopeful this gets reso olved soon. It’s obviouslly having an impact,” Pritzker said. Her rema arks on the economic e im mpact came after a Secreta ary of State John Kerry w warned at th he APEC meetings on Saturday S tha at the stando off was “reckkless”, and w would weake en America’ss diplomatic standing abroad a if it did d not end soon. s Apart from APEC, Obama is also o missing a separate s Ea ast Asian sum mmit this we eek and schedule ed trips to Ma alaysia and the Philippin nes. His failu ure to come coincides w with a diplomatic push by China C in Sou utheast Asia a featuring high-profile v isits by Pressident Xi Jinp ping, who is at APEC. Speaking g at a Bali meeting m of AP PEC busines ss leaders w which Obama a had also b been scheduled to addres ss, Singaporre Prime Min nister Lee Hs sien Loong ssaid the pressident’s no-sshow was “a a very big disappointm d ment to us”.
“Obviously we prefer a US government that is working to one that is not. And we prefer a US president who is able to travel and fulfill his international duties to one who is preoccupied with national domestic preoccupations,” he said. Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said the United States had to confront its fiscal problems “in a better way than they are doing it now with shutting down the government”. Philippine President Benigno Aquino 3rd, who will now play host in Manila to Kerry instead of Obama, proffered understanding for the president’s decision to stay home by underscoring the gravity of the situation. “The US economy is the number one economy in the world, what happens there affects all of us,” he said in Bali. “The world economy obviously is not in a position to withstand too much shock at this time when we are just recovering as a global economy. We perfectly sympathize.” The US government closed all but its essential operations on Tuesday when Republican lawmakers refused to approve money for government operations without first delaying or defunding a new health care law commonly known as Obamacare. Obama is refusing to negotiate with the Republicans over the budget issues until they pass a temporary bill to reopen the government. Aquino will stay in Bali until October 8. On October 9 and 10, he will proceed to Brunei for the 23rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit. At the APEC summit, Aquino will attend the APEC CEO Summit as a panelist on the session on inclusive growth together with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra of Thailand and President Ollanta Humala of Peru. http://manilatimes.net/us-shutdown-fears-cast-cloud-on-apec-summit/42638/
New Cocopea book highlights K-to12 implications for youth October 6, 2013 9:55 pm by NEIL A. ALCOBER REPORTER To inform the public on the government’s flagship Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-to-12) program, the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (Cocopea) has come out with a book that primarily highlights the implication of K-to-12 and its impact on the country’s public and private educational system. Joseph Noel Estrada, the legal counsel of Cocopea, said the book is a comprehensive annotation of educational law, which is the Republic Act 10533 or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 and all related laws, policies in education. “There’s no other user’s book on K-to-12 implementing rules that is more comprehensive than this book,” Estrada said. It impacts the education sector in public and private. We all know that the K-to-12 law is the major education reform. So now, the implementation requires education knowledge with the existing law in education. Lahat ng education law ay importanteng malaman at maintindihan ng mga tao. So ang ina-outline sa book na ito ‘yung underlying principle why we need the K-to-12 education.” He said the book also helps school owners, administrators, teachers and students to further understand K-to-12 program. “Since the new curriculum provides the transition from the old to the new system, it will guide the school owners, teachers, students and all the stakeholders. The transition period ng implementation ng K-to-12 program ay mula 2013 to 2021. So with that long transition, ang dami kasing pwedeng mangyari (many things can happen). Since the full implementation of senior high school is on 2016, that’s the time na walang freshmen in college. ‘Yan ‘yung time na walang procedure. In 2018 and 2019, we have already the first batch of senior high school graduates. Dyan din natin makikita ‘yung new college curriculum,” Estrada, who wrote the book along with Kristjan Vicente Gargantiel, explained. An education law expert, Estrada began his career in education law as legal counsel at the Emilio Aguinaldo College. He also became the legal counsel and executive director of the Philippine Association of Private Schools, Colleges, and Universities and the Cocopea. Estrada also joined an exclusive group of lawyers who helped shape the legal environment of education. He is a regular resource person of the House of Representatives and Senate committees on education. He regularly represents private education in policy consultations in
the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. The young lawyer was one of the handful who drafted the K-to-12 law and helped wrote its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR). He said Education Secretary Armin Luistro and Rep. Roman Romulo of Pasig City have expressed their full support for their book. Luistro, who wrote the foreword of the book, said :â€œThis book documents the underlying principles considered in the legislation process and the concerns in drafting the IRR. As part of the technical working group that drafted the K-to-12 bills; and a resource person at the K-to-12 Steering Committee, Atty. Estrada has ably explained the legal implications, and transition issues and challenges of the K-to-12 program. Atty. Gargantiel, on the other hand, as a seasoned legal consultant of several DepEd City Schools in National Capital Region, has provided his invaluable inputs in the view of the public system implementation of K-to-12. In all, the book has become a rich source of fresh knowledge and analysis of education principles.â€? Estrada said the K-to-12 book was first introduced to the public in a soft launch during the national convention of the Catholic Educational Associations of the Philippines (CEAP) on September 25. http://manilatimes.net/new-cocopea-book-highlights-k-to-12-implications-for-youth/42635/
Palace rejects shoot-to-kill order vs. Nur October 6, 2013 6:37 pm by CATHERINE S. VALENTE AND RITCHIE A.HORARIO REPORTERS MALACAÑANG on Sunday said that there is no “shoot-to-kill” order against Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari, who has been in hiding since the Zamboanga City siege last month that left 140 people dead. “We do not certainly abide by [the] shoot onsite or shoot-to-kill order,” Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said in an interview aired over state-run Radyo ng Bayan The officials on the ground, especially the Philippine National Police (PNP), will be making the announcement based on their assessment, she said. Misuari was accused of staging the attack on Zamboanga City that lasted for 20 days over his opposition to the peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Government security forces have been tracking his location in coordination with the local government. Asked if the government will ask the help of neighbors like Malaysia to help hunt Misuari who may have left the country, Valte said that the matter has not been discussed. Valte also said that officials on the ground had ordered the deployment of troops in all possible escape routes of Misuari. Meanwhile, a top commander of the MNLF who was arrested for intrusion in Sabah, Malaysia is now under investigation by Malaysian authorities for his possible links to Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram 3rd. Assistant Commissioner Omar Mammah of the Sabah Crime Investigation Department said they are now investigating the 43-year-old Filipino, reportedly a battalion commander of the MNLF. According to Malaysian newspaper, Daily Express, the Filipino suspect, who was not identified, was jailed after being sentenced to an 18-month imprisonment on September 9 by a Malaysian court for encroaching on Silabukan Forest Reserve in Merabung, Tungku. The intrusion led to a series of deadly clashes with the Malaysian security forces that led to the death of 68 Filipino insurgents and 10 Malaysian policemen and soldiers. Malaysian authorities confirmed that the suspect was an MNLF Commander after they found an identification card in his huts, which were ordered demolished.
Police had opened a case file to determine if the Filipino was a member of the terrorist group under Section 130KA of the Penal Code, which is read with the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, Mammah added. But Sultanate of Sulu spokesman Abraham Idjirani said they have no information about the detained MNLF commander. http://manilatimes.net/palace-rejects-shoot-to-kill-order-vs-nur/42590/
Mt. Makiling named Asean heritage park October 6, 2013 6:35 pm by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ REPORTER THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources on Sunday expressed hope that the designation of Mount Makiling Forest Reserve in Laguna as one of Southeast Asia’s most treasured parks will spur enhanced coordination and foster greater cooperation among stakeholders to ensure its long-term protection and conservation. Just recently, environment ministers from the 10 member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have approved the nomination of Makiling as the 33rd Asean Heritage Park (AHP) and the fifth in the Philippines. Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said the recognition came as a “pleasant surprise” considering that the legendary mountain has been a “living laboratory for scholars and scientists,” which is also exposed to various human activities that threaten its biodiversity. Paje, however, pointed out that the naming of Makiling as a regional heritage park also meant “additional responsibilities, especially for those in charge of maintaining the natural park.” Despite being a host to a dense human population in various settlements and a popular tourist destination because of its hot springs, campsites, scenery, and gardens, the forest reserve is known for its high conservation importance, being one of the country’s 18 centers of plant diversity and 32 key ecotourism sites. “Mount Makiling is the only duly designated AHP thus far in the Luzon mainland. Its inclusion in the prestigious list of the region’s heritage parks prompts us to enhance our stewardship of this wonderful forest reserve,” Paje said. The four other AHPs in country are the Mount Apo Natural Park, Mount Kitanglad Range Natural Park, and Mount Malindang Range Natural Park, all in Mindanao, and the Mounts IglitBaco National Park in Occidental Mindoro, Visayas. AHPs are declared to represent conservation efforts of areas with importance or exceptional uniqueness in terms of biodiversity. In December 2003, environment ministers in the region signed the Asean Declaration on Heritage Parks in Yangon, Myanmar to promote cooperation among member-countries in developing and implementing conservation and management action plans for the region’s natural parks and other critical ecosystems. http://manilatimes.net/mt‐makiling‐named‐asean‐heritage‐park/42586/
Rice eel export valued at $21 million October 6, 2013 6:34 pm by LEANDER C. DOMINGO TUGUEGARAO CITY: In an effort to control the spread of an invasive fish species, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) here has turned the menace rice eel known as “kiwet” into a billion peso export commodity. BFAR national director, lawyer Asis Perez, on Sunday said that from zero export value, rice eel or Monopterus albus has reached up to $21 million and is now exported to Singapore, China, Japan and other Asian countries. ”Two years following the [rice eel] massive infestation, the country is now profiting greatly from the said fish species, bringing in an estimated amount of P517 million in export value from January to June this year,” he said. Perez said BFAR employees in the region have developed an “efficient and environmentfriendly fishing gear which enabled farmers to increase the catch by taking advantage of the nocturnal hunting behavior of the animal.” ”With the gear, fisher folks will be prevented from using electro-fishing gadgets in catching,” Perez said. However, he said the bureau will not allow the culture of the fish as these are invasive species. Meanwhile, BFAR’s Integrated Fish Processing Laboratory has conducted 50 rice eel processing trainings in different municipalities. Products like rice eel longganisa and nuggets are being promoted at processing centers. http://manilatimes.net/rice‐eel‐export‐valued‐at‐21‐million/42580/
BFAR ISSUES BAN ON CAGAYAN S DEADLY GOBY FISH October 6, 2013 6:32 pm by LEANDER C. DOMINGO TUGUEGARAO CITY: The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) here has reiterated a memorandum order on the permanent ban on gathering, marketing and consumption of certain species of goby fish locally known as “bunog.” The reminder came after a nine year old girl died and five other family members from the village of Minanga in Buguey town were hospitalized after eating the fish. Medical experts said symptoms of poisoning are “numbness around the lips and tongue, dizziness, excessive sweating, motor paralysis, motor incoordination, respiratory distress, drop in blood pressure, mental faculties impairment, and respiratory paralysis.” http://manilatimes.net/bfar‐issues‐ban‐on‐cagayan‐s‐deadly‐goby‐fish/42566/
Posted on October 06, 2013 11:55:03 PM
Adult joblessness up for a second quarter ADULT joblessness has picked up for a second quarter, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) said in a new report, with around 100,000 Filipinos having joined the ranks of the unemployed during the second quarter. At 26.1% -- equivalent to an estimated 11.2 million individuals -- based on an end-June survey, adult joblessness was about a point higher than the 25.4% (est. 11.1 million) recorded three months earlier. Those aged 18 to 34 and men accounted for the losses. The SWS findings compare to the official unemployment rate of 7.3%, or three million jobless Filipinos, as of July this year. Optimism about job availability rose slightly, meanwhile, to a still “fair” +15 from +13 previously. Fewer pessimists outweighed a dip in the number of those who expect more jobs to be available in the next 12 months. An economist said the unemployment result, while marginal, highlighted the argument that strong economic growth was not being felt by ordinary Filipinos. A Malacañang official, meanwhile, claimed jobs would catch up with the economy amid continued reforms. The June jobless number remains far from the record 34.4% seen in August last year. Still, the SWS noted that this has remained above 20% -- except in three instances -- since May 2005, after staying below 15% from 1993 to March 2004 and keeping within 16.5-19% from August 2004 to March 2005. Broken down, the latest adult unemployment rate of 26.1% consists of 9% who were retrenched, 12.3% who resigned and 4.8% who were first-time job seekers. Of those retrenched, 6.5% did not have their contracts renewed, 1.6% saw their employers close shop and 0.9% were laid off. “Adult joblessness has been traditionally dominated by those who voluntarily left their old jobs and those who lost their jobs through economic circumstances beyond their control,” the SWS noted.
Compared to March, the numbers of those who quit or were first-time jobseekers were basically unchanged. Those whose contracts were not renewed or saw their firms close worsened by a point, the SWS added. Asked about their outlook on jobs, meanwhile, 33% claimed more would likely be available in the next 12 months, down from 32% in March. Those who said there would be fewer positions for the taking, on the other hand, fell to 18% from 21%. Those who expected no change went up by two points to 30%. The “fair” net score of +15, the SWS said, compares to “mediocre” results seen from December 2011 to May 2012, and the “fair” +18, “high” +26 and “very high” +36 recorded, respectively, in March, June and November 2010. The latest survey also showed joblessness as hardly changed among women, at 35.8% from 35.4%, but up almost two points among men to 19.2% from 17.3%. By age, adult joblessness fell by over a point to 21.6% from 23% among the 35-44 (middle-aged) It was hardly changed at 16.1% from 15.8% among those 45 and older but rose by over two points to 51.8% from 49.6% among the 18-24 (youth). Among those aged 25-34 (intermediate youth), the increase was almost three points to 34.5% from 31.8%. Asked to comment on the survey findings, University of the Philippines economist Benjamin E. Diokno said: “Maybe the difference is not statistically significant but it does not deny the consensus that unemployment remains serious despite the above 7% GDP growth in the last four quarters. One in four workers are unemployed.” In Malacañang, Secretary Ramon “Ricky” A. Carandang of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office said, “Employment has always been a lagging economic indicator. But as long as we sustain our efforts to attract investments and provide wider access to education those numbers will eventually improve.” It joblessness data, the SWS explained, refers to those in the labor force who are at least 18 years old. Those with jobs are those working at present, including unpaid family members. Joblessness, it added, is based on the traditional definition of not working at present and also looking for a job. Those without a job but not looking for one are excluded from the labor force.
The official definition of employed, on the other hand, includes those who, during the week before the interview date, are at least 15 years old and are either at work or with a job but not at work. Since April 2005, also, the official definition of unemployed requires that the individual not be working, is looking for work, and is available for work. Applying the official definition, the SWS said the jobless rate among adults 18 years old and above would be 18.2% or an estimated 7.1 million Filipinos. The June 28-30 survey used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide. The sampling error margins are +/-3% for national and +/-6% for area percentages. http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=TopStory&title=Adult‐joblessness‐up‐for‐a‐ second‐quarter&id=77541
Posted on October 06, 2013 10:43:35 PM By Ann Rozainne R. Gregorio, Reporter
$436-M ODA loan from JICA approved THE MONETARY Board (MB) of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has approved a $436.24-million loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to enhance mass transit systems in Metro Manila, the central bank chief said. “The MB [last Thursday] gave its final approval for the loan ... from JICA in the amount of ¥43.252 billion or approximately $436.24 million for the Mass Transit System project of the DoTC (Department of Transportation and Communications),” BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. told reporters Friday night. The funds, which are an official development assistance loan from JICA, will be used to “enhance capacities of the LRT (Light Rail Transit) Lines 1 and 2 by extending the lines from Baclaran to Bacoor in Cavite and from Santolan to Masinag, respectively,” Mr. Tetangco added. “The project also aims to mitigate congestion and air pollution with the procurement of new rolling stocks (train coaches).” The 40-year loan, which was approved in principle in May, will carry a 0.20% rate per year for non-consulting services, 0.01% annual interest for consulting services and a 0.10% per annum rate for the commitment fee. It will also have a grace period of 10 years. The low interest rates of the infrastructure loan, Mr. Tetangco said, are “very favorable” for the country. He added that these also reflect low interest rates in global markets. The P9.76-billion LRT-2 Masinag extension project was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority Board in September last year. According to the DoTC, the private sector shall be tapped to operate and maintain the existing 13.8-kilometer LRT-2 -- which runs from Recto Station in Manila to Santolan Station in Pasig -- and the 4-km extension to Masinag, Antipolo. The civil works will be undertaken with government funds while the procurement of
trains will be funded by official development assistance. Meanwhile, the P60-billion LRT-1 south extension project involves the extension of the railway by 11.7 km to Cavite from the Baclaran endpoint. It also involves the operation and maintenance of the railway, design/construction/ integration of the Cavite extension, and a program for continued system enhancements. The LRT-1 extension project will be placed on the auction block anew next year after bidding failed in August. The LRT-1 extension project -- the biggest public-private partnership offered by the Aquino administration to date is -- one of three PPP deals the DoTC has been forced to defer, the others being the P1.72-billion automated fare collection system for Metro Manila’s light railways and the P17.5-billion Mactan-Cebu International Airport rehabilitation project, after prospective bidders raised issues with the concession agreements. DoTC Secretary Joseph Emilio A. Abaya last month said that the re-bidding of the LRT-1 project is expected to take place within the “first quarter of next year.” So far, three PPP deals have been successfully auctioned off since this centerpiece program was launched in late 2010: the P1.96-billion Daang Hari-South Luzon Expressway Link, awarded to Ayala Corp. in December 2011; the P16.42-billion PPP School Infrastructure Project Phase One (PSIP-I), granted last year to the Citicore Holdings Investment, Inc.-Megawide Construction Corp., Inc. and BF Corp.Riverbanks Development Corp. consortiums; and the P15.86-billion NAIA Expressway project, awarded to a unit of San Miguel Corp. in May. http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=$436‐M‐ODA‐loan‐from‐JICA‐ approved&id=77522
Moody’s RP upgrade not a sign of improving economy — Ibon Written by Paul Atienza
Monday, 07 October 2013 08:00 An independent think-tank has downplayed the significance of Moody’s latest credit rating, noting that “the investment upgrade for the Philippines does not reflect the real situation of the country’s economy.” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima earlier had said the Philippines’ sound fiscal and monetary policies had been validated yet again, proof that President Aquino’s goal to restore confidence in the Philippines and revitalize the economy has been a success. Research group Ibon, however, noted that unchanged poverty levels and continued high joblessness into the third quarter of 2013, as well as the continuous unraveling of the pork barrel controversy in the country, belies the Philippines’ supposed title as “Asia’s fastest growing economy.” On October 3, Moody’s Investors Service upgraded the rating of the Philippine government from “Ba1” to “Baa3.” Previously, the Philippines was upgraded to investment grade status by Standard & Poor’s, Fitch Ratings and the Japan Credit Rating Agency. This is the 17th positive rating action since President Aquino took office in 2010. The Philippines is now investment grade in all three major ratings agencies. Ibon said the Aquino government’s maintenance of hundreds of billions of pesos in discretionary funds which continues to stir public disgust affirms how patronage-driven governance remains from the lowest up to the highest level of the presidency. It added this disproves the administration’s claim that good governance is good economics and results in benefits for the country. “For instance, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) under the present government, with a reported release of P137.3 billion in 2011 and 2012, is an instance of presidential pork barrel and abuse of executive power,” Ibon said. The Moody’s Investor Service upgrade supposedly reflects the country’s improved capacity to service its debts due to sound economic policies. But Ibon maintained that as with previous credit ratings, the upgrade by Moody’s cannot be taken as an indicator of an improving economy.
“Historically, the country has obtained credit upgrades amid rising unemployment, poverty incidence and social unrest,” it said. Ibon stressed the real situation of the economy points to the urgency of pouring efforts to economic development where it matters. “Meaning a real thoroughgoing agrarian reform, agricultural development and building local industries which will push the economy upward that this requires a government with a bias for the interests of the people and strong political will rather than one that caters to profits and elite interests.” http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/headlines/item/19969‐moody‐s‐rp‐upgrade‐not‐a‐sign‐of‐ improving‐economy‐ibon
Budget dictatorship exists under Aquino Written by By Gerry Baldo and Angie M. Rosales
Monday, 07 October 2013 08:00 A dictatorship exists under the Aquino administration, at least in the handling of the country’s coffers with the juggling of tax-payers’ money on a whim in the yearly budget, former Sen. Joker Arroyo said yesterday. “This government is filing cases one after another but they should look at themselves in the mirror and realize what they’re doing,” Arroyo said. “They should explain first before they go on filing again numerous cases. They file cases against so many people. A series of filing of cases, even if the court has yet to set hearings. They should look at themselves,” he stressed. Arroyo had earlier indicated that the Executive may have violated several Constitutional provisions with the farming out of funds from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) to senators that was described as an incentive after the conviction of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona in the Senate impeachment court. “The problem with Malacanang, they don’t care who they go after. That’s not right. Each person has a reputation to protect and they should respect that. They should file cases against themselves,” the former lawmaker said. Arroyo was reacting to Malacanang’s continuing stance defending the validity of the DAP or the so-called stimulus fund program of President Aquino, supposedly made up of “savings” from the yearly appropriations, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) which was recently exposed to have been the source of alleged additional pork barrel funds of some senators and congressmen distributed several months after the Corona impeachment trial last year. Based on Palace officials’ claims, Arroyo said some P72 billion and P55 billion in savings in the years 2011 and 2012, respectively, went to fund the now controversial DAP and the existence of such amounts would not have known had the issue on purported P50 million “incentives” to some senators been not exposed by opposition Sen. Jinggoy Estrada. “Is there a list of expenditures on DAP, on where these P72 billion and P55 billion were spent? There’s none,” he said on radio. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM), in an apparent effort to dismiss
insinuations that the alleged incentives were actually rewards given by the Palace to those who voted to convict Corona issued a press release last week detailing the fund releases and it included the name of Arroyo, attributing P47 million to him. Arroyo was one of three senators who voted to acquit Corona, the two others are incumbent Senators Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Miriam Defensor-Santiago. The former senator lost no time in denying and berating the DBM’s claims on his having taken a slice from the DAP incentives saying he had no idea that the amount he sought funded in the 2012 General Appropriations Act (GAA) for his projects would be taken from the DAP, the very existence of which he described as unconstitutional. Arroyo, again, rebuked the Palace’s pronouncements saying that they have stopped releasing DAP funds to lawmakers but will continue disbursements to line agencies and even fund programs for those affected by the recent armed conflict in Zamboanga City. “They cannot do that. They cannot just said that because we saved some money, because it is for a good purpose, we will spend it it in Mindanao or Zambaonga. There has to be a law. It is not possible to set aside funds for whatever purposes that please them. Who will watch it? We don’t know. Nobody knows how the P72 billion or P55 billion was spent,” Arroyo said. “Whoever gave them the power to switch the fund’s use for Zamboanga? There should be a law first to support that. No money shall be paid out of the Treasury without congressional approval. Otherwise, we’re already under a dictatorship. This is what we call budgetary dictatorship. The public funds they get, they spend at will,” he commented. “In the beginning of this administration, I was asked what was my message, and I said what we should do now is unity. What the government should do is to unite the people not to divide the people. You should be a good father of a family,” Arroyo added. “But now, if you criticize the government, immediately you’re perceived as an enemy, you will be made to face charges. What kind of a government is that? That is a patent characteristic of dictatorship. The people are being cowed into silence,” he said. Arroyo also chided Malacanang in invoking an administrative code in the 1987 Constitution being as a basis in coming up with DAP, saying that the very same provision which was issued during the incumbency of the late Pres. Corazon “Cory” Aquino, when he happens to be still then the executive secretary, was “patently illegal.” “Pres. Cory did not use that. Former Pres. (Fidel) Ramos did not use that, also former Pres. (Joseph) Erap (Estrada) and GMA (former Pres. Gloria Arroyo). Now, 24 yrs after it was enacted by Cory Aquino, it was suddenly used,” he said. An administration lawmaker, meanwhile, sought a fresh investigation into whether the architect of the P10-billion pork barrel scam has also designed portions of the Disbursement Acceleration Program. According to Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) should
investigate projects funded by the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) to determine if Janet Lim Napoles and her fake non-government organizations also benefited from the fund. “Since the DBM has already released the letters of request of some senators and considering that the funds of DAP, again allegedly went to the bogus agencies of Napoles, the NBI should motu proprio start an investigation of the projects funded by the DAP,” Barzaga said. In 2011, four senators had sought the release of P100 million each from the DAP, asking that the DBM release it to projects to be implemented by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). The senators allegedly asked the DBM to have their DAP funds funnelled to the NGOs linked to Napoles who is tagged as the brains behind the pork barrel scam. Barzaga, a lawyer and stalwart of the National Unity Party (NUP), said also asked the DBM to make public all the letter requests “in order to quell the public perception that the administration is engaged in selective persecution.” “The DBM should also disclose the letter requests of all legislators indicating all the projects requested, the amount and the implementing agencies of these projects,” he said. Once the disclosure has been made, Barzaga said Commission on Audit, the NBI and the Ombudsman should start validating the projects. The DAP came to public attention after Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, among those charged with plunder for channeling his pork barrel funds to Napoles NGOs, accused the administration of “selective” prosecution, noting that the DBM released P50 million to senators who voted for the removal of then chief justice Renato Corona last year. The budget later turned out to be funded by the DAP, which the DBM said was used to accelerate government spending. The Palace, meanwhile, released yet a justification for the use of DAP funds, this time, for the long forgotten and neglected World War 2 veterans. Abad said an amount of P2.9 billion was ordered released for the unpaid Total Administrative Disability (TAD) Pension of a total of 16,980 living World War II veterans, upon validation of the proposed beneficiary list submitted by the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO),” Abad said. Abad said that the latest release will support the pension requirements of validated veterans from 1994 to 2012, chargeable against the Pension and Gratuity Fund (PGF). Under the annual budget of 2012 and 2013, the law provided that in the use of savings, priority should be given to the augmentation of the amounts set aside for compensation, year-end bonus and cash gift, retirement gratuity, terminal leave benefits, old-age pension of veterans and other personnel benefits authorized by law, and those expenditure items authorized in agency special provisions and in other sections of the general appropriations Act. “This release supports the government’s budgetary assistance to our living war veterans and their families. It is likewise in fulfillment of President Aquino’s pledge to ensure that timely
pension payments are made to our World War II veterans who fought bravely for the country and sacrificed much in the process,” Abad said. Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin reported that PVAO was able to generate P4 billion in savings in 2010, primarily due to the implementation of Automated Teller Machines (ATM) in delivering pension benefits. This amount enabled the agency to pay arrears for TAD of WWII veterans from 2003 to 2009. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/headlines/item/19968‐budget‐dictatorship‐exists‐under‐ aquino
Noy in Bali pitches for 2016 successor Written by Paul Atienza
Monday, 07 October 2013 08:00 President Aquino found time to make a pitch for his anointed successor in the 2016 elections in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit in Bali, Indonesia equating the continuation of the country’s economic gains to electing a candidate who would pursue his administration’s “sound government policies.” “If our people will be used to this kind of governance, whoever will be perceived as the one who will continue our reforms will get elected,” Aquino said. He added his successor would have to make hard decisions that may not be “politically palatable but are politically correct.” “You are not afraid to make unpopular decisions if you are not worried of the next elections, otherwise there is the temptation to try and please the people all the time even if the decisions are not correct,” Aquino said. At the same time, Aquino in a speech gave emphasis to inclusive growth that his administration for the past three years had failed to achieve with the unemployment rate hovering above seven percent which has been the highest for sometime despite the strong growth figures. “Inclusive growth has become an increasingly attractive development paradigm for the modern global economy. On top of fostering stability, social inclusiveness also empowers citizens to become bona fide economic actors that can productively contribute to nation building. It allows them to buy into the system, from which they can reap benefits. Perhaps a few examples arising from my country and our ongoing strategy can help concretize this idea,” he claimed. Aquino and his entourage left Manila yesterday to attend two key regional summits, which includes the East Asia Summit in Brunei Darussalam after the Apec Summit in Bali. With a P14.3 million budget for the overseas tour, Aquino left for Bali through a chartered flight along with Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, Presidential Management Staff head Julia Abad, Palace spokesman Ramon Carandang and
Presidential protocol chief Celia Anna Feria. Aquino was part of yesterday’s Apec CEO Summit to discuss inclusive growth along with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Peru President Ollanta Humala. Aquino claimed in the past three years, his administration increasingly focused the national budget on social services, such as education, health, and poverty alleviation. “Our flagship conditional cash transfer program now benefits close to four million families, and we have further expanded this so it may cover families with a child in high school,” he added. The conditional cash transfer scheme is funded with P45 billion in the budget for this year which in the 2014 budget is being proposed to rise to P60 billion. Aquino explained to participants of the forum the rationale of the one-term presidency under the Constitution but he said the Filipinos who got used to his leadership style will use such insight when they decide on who will lead them by 2016. “My father used to say that in the pre-Martial Law days, this was before 1972, if they had to raise fuel prices by five centavos, the country would have nationwide strikes that makes governance for those in power difficult,” he said. “Now, beyond 2016, the belief is, if our people are so used to this type of governance, then whoever will portray themselves as continuing the policies we have set will be the one to get into office,” the President said. “So, at the end of the day, our mantra is: The bosses ultimately are our people and they will decide and they will choose the person and the entity that will hopefully continue the policies we have instituted,” he added. The DFA also said Aquino will meet with members of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) and counterparts from the other 20 member-economies of APEC to discuss issues of mutual concerns, particularly on the promotion of trade liberalization and facilitation, economic technical cooperation and people-to-people connectivity. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/headlines/item/19967‐noy‐in‐bali‐pitches‐for‐2016‐successor
NFA chief junks recommendation of Neda to import rice ‘immediately’ Written by Benjamin B. Pulta
Monday, 07 October 2013 08:00 The National Food Authority, through Administrator Orlan Calayag, announced that the NFA would no longer be importing rice this year despite a Memorandum for the President dated Sept. 10, 2013 from the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) that recommended the “immediate” importation of half a million metric tons (MT) of rice “to address the supply gap and stabilize prices,” ignoring a blueprint from the National Economic Development Authority that would address high rice prices and “possibly lower them.” The memorandum by Neda Director General Arsenio Balisacan and copy furnished Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary and NFA Chairman Proceso Alcala warned that “even if rice production recovers in the last quarter of 2013, deficits are expected to be incurred from as low as 0.5 million MT to as high as 1.4 million MT.” Despite recommendations of Neda, Calayag, in a statement released Tuesday, said the government “has no plans to import an additional volume of rice for this year.” Attempts were made to obtain Balisacan’s comments on the refusal of the NFA to heed Neda’s recommendations but he could not be reached. Balisacan, a former DA undersecretary, had argued in previously published papers for the importation of rice to stabilize prices but stressed the importance of “relieving the NFA of the burden of handling rice imports” because of the possibility of corruption tainting these transactions. Calayag’ statement also contradicted Neda forecasts regarding rice production shortfalls. The country’s independent economic development and planning agency estimates local rice production to hit 18.45 million MT — a figure less than the 20 million MT the DA maintains is necessary to meet the needs of the country’s 97 million people. Neda’s estimates are consistent with those of the DA’s Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) whose head, Assistant Secretary Romeo Recide, testified in Congress that local rice production would hit 18.45 million MT. Recide likewise testified the country would need an additional half million tons of rice to meet
local demand for 2013. Despite the disparity in numbers, Calayag in his statement said “current rice inventories and the incoming bulk of the main harvest are already enough for the country’s requirements.” Alcala has likewise repeatedly claimed in the media that the country would be able to produce 20 million MT of rice this year and that the country will be rice self-sufficient by the end of 2013. Despite assurances from the DA and NFA that rice prices would stabilize by September, the prices of regular and well-milled rice continued to hit record highs in September. According to data from the BAS, the average retail price per kilo of regular milled rice for September 2013 was recorded at P36 per kilo, the highest this year, P4 more than pre-lean season prices and P3.60 per kilo more than in the same period last year. The average retail price per kilo of well-milled rice likewise hit an annual high, with prices pegged at P39.2 per kilo, P4 more than pre-lean season prices and P3.70 per kilo more than in September 2012. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/metro‐section/item/19945‐nfa‐chief‐junks‐recommendation‐ of‐neda‐to‐import‐rice‐immediately
US gov’t shutdown hits RP exports, OFWs, BPOs Written by Ed Velasco
Monday, 07 October 2013 08:00 The Bankers’ Association of the Philippines (BAP) said the current shutdown of the United States government will seriously affect the export, overseas Filipino workers and business process outsourcing (BPO) sectors of the country as the US is one of its biggest trading partners. “The effect on the Philippine economy can be traced to the exporters of goods and services directly to the US government and to companies that directly or indirectly supply to the US government,” BAP president Lorenzo Tan told the Daily Tribune. Tan said many US firms import spares parts and supplies for electronic products for its defense and other government needs from the Philippines. Tan said if the exports sector is badly affected, the same effect will be felt by the overseas Filipino workers because many companies there will refrain from hiring additional workers in different categories. “To some extent, BPOs servicing companies that directly or indirectly supply the US government (will also be affected),” Tan said. It is surprising, according to Tan, that the shutdown’s effect on financial aspects is felt heavier in the country than in the US. “The estimated effect of a one-week shutdown is only 0.1 percent reduction in the US gross domestic product growth, according to the Bloomberg survey of economists,” he said. Tan, who is also president of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., said even at per day basis, the shutdown has no much impact on the US economy. “The estimated lost US output is $300 million per day, a small fraction of the $15.7 trillion US economy,” Tan said. The shutdown will enter its second week tomorrow as it officially stated Oct. 1, a day after its Congress failed to enact regular budget appropriations on key spending measures. http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/business/item/19958‐us‐gov‐t‐shutdown‐hits‐rp‐exports‐ ofws‐bpos
WALANG SASANTUHIN SA DAP ‐‐ PALASYO Nina Bernard Taguinod, Boyet Jadulco at Dindo Matining Wala umanong sasantuhin ang gobyerno sakaling may mapatunayan ang Commission on Audit (COA) na nag-misuse at nang-abuso sa pondo ng Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). Ito ang tiniyak ni deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte kahapon ukol sa DAP na iniimbestigahan na ngayon ng COA kung nagkaroon ng misuse at iba pang uri ng pag-abuso tulad ng nangyari sa Prio¬rity Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) o pork barrel ng maraming mambabatas sa Senado at Kamara. Ayon kay Valte, tulad ng kaso ng PDAF na natuklasan ng COA na mayroong pang-aabuso sa paggamit simula noong 2007 hanggang 2009 kung saan maraming indibidwal ang nasampahan ng kasong plunder, ganito rin aniya ang mangyayari sa DAP kapag napatunayang ginamit ito sa maling paraan, partikular kung pinagkakitaan ito gamit ang mga bogus na non-governmental organizations (NGOs) gaya ng kay Janet Lim-Napoles. “Kung sino ho ‘yung nagkaroon ng involvement doon sa misuse, most certainly. Even in the cases relative to the 2007-2009 audit, ang nakita niyo po doon sa mga sinampahan po ng kaso ng Department of Justice ay ‘yung meron hong tangible and real evidence that tends to support their prosecution. Ang importante po kasi sa atin talaga ay kung ano ho ‘yung mapapatunayan natin sa korte,” pahayag ni Valte. Unang sinabi ng Malacañang na mayroong dalawang implementing agencies sa DAP ang inoaudit o iniimbestigahan na ng COA subalit tumanggi ang mga tagapagsalita ng Pangulo kung anong mga ahensya ito. Ilabas ang kumpletong DAP list Samantala, hiniling kahapon ni Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga na para hindi maakusahan ng cover-up at ‘selective justice’, kaila¬ngang ilabas ng Malacañang ang kumpletong listahan ng na-release na pondo ng DAP para malaman kung sinu-sino ang tumanggap nito. Maging ang lahat ng tinanggap na ‘letter request’ mula sa mga mga mambabatas ay pinalalatag sa palasyo dahil sa ganitong paraan lamang magkakaalaman kung itong apat na senador lang ba talaga -- na pawang taga-oposisyon -- ang humi¬ngi ng pondo at nakinabang sa DAP fund. “The DBM should also disclose the letter requests of all legislators indicating all the projects requested, the amount and the implementing agencies of these projects,” giit ng kongresista na naging miyembro ng prosecution panel sa impeachment ni dating Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Kailangang kumilos na rin umano ang National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) upang imbestigahan ang posibleng anomalya sa paggamit ng DAP, tulad ng isi¬nagawa nilang imbes¬tigasyon sa anomalya sa paggamit ng PDAF ng ilang senador at kongresista. “Since the DBM has already released the letters of request of some senators and considering that the funds of DAP, again allegedly went to the bogus agencies of Napoles, the NBI should motu proprio start an investigation of the projects funded by the DAP,” paliwanag ni Barzaga. Joker sa Palasyo: Kasuhan n’yo ang sarili n’yo! “They should file cases against themselves”. Ito ang inihayag kahapon ni dating Sen. Joker Arroyo dahil sa diumano’y iligal na paggamit sa DAP fund na ang ilang bahagi ay ibinigay sa mga mambabatas. “Iyang gobyerno file ng file ng mga cases, pero they should look at themselves at the mirror. They should file cases against themselves,” pahayag ni Arroyo sa panayam sa radyo kahapon.
Ginawa ni Arroyo ang pahayag dahil rin umano sa hindi maipaliwanag ng mga opisyal ng gobyerno kung saan napunta ang pondo ng DAP na kinuha mula sa savings ng tanggapan ni Pangulong Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III. “May listahan na ba kung saan napunta ang mga DAP funds na ‘yun? Wala!” giit ni Arroyo. Ayon sa dating senador, noong 2011, mahigit sa P72 bilyon ang savings ng tanggapan ng Pangulo at P55 bilyon naman noong 2012 subalit wala aniyang nakakaalam kung saan napunta ito. Tuloy ang paggastos sa DAP fund Kahapon, mismong si Valte ang nagsabing patuloy pa rin ang paggastos ng pamahalaan sa DAP savings para sa iba’t ibang proyekto ng mga ahensya ng gobyerno dahil ang sinuspende lamang ay ang pagpopondo sa mga nire-request na proyekto ng mga mambabatas. “Ang sinuspend lang po ay ‘yung as far as the nominations of the lawmakers are concerned. ‘Yung iba po na releases to agencies in the executive, tuloy naman po ‘yon,” pahayag ni Valte. Sinabi pa ng tagapagsalita ng Pangulo na hindi maaaring itigil ang paggastos sa DAP lalo na sa mga ahensya ng pamahalaan dahil mahalaga aniya ito sa ekonomiya ng bansa. “At least, for the agencies and the bureaus and the offices that have identified projects under the DAP mechanism, tuloy po ‘yung sa kanila. Wala naman po tayong problema po doon. ‘Yung mga proyektong no¬minated po ng mga lawma¬kers ‘yung sinuspende po,” paliwanag ni Valte. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/oct0713/news01.htm#.UlIkudKBlRI
PNoy shares PH ideas in APEC Published : Monday, October 07, 2013 00:00 Written by : Efren Montano PRESIDENT Benigno S. Aquino III is expected to share a number of Philippine initiatives, including environmental protection and climate change mitigation, as he participates in two key regional summits in Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam today and tomorrow, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said yesterday. The President left yesterday morning via a chartered flight to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum on the Indonesian island of Bali. With him were Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Cabinet Secretary to the President Jose Rene Almendras, Presidential Management Staff head Julia Andrea Abad, PCDSPO Secretary Ramon Carandang and Presidential Protocol chief Celia Anna-Feria. The APEC Summit is the President’s first stop for a series of meetings in the next five days. Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario is already waiting for the Philippine delegation in Bali today and tomorrow. He will also join the President in the 23rd ASEAN Summit and related meetings on Oct. 9 and 10 in Brunei. Malacanang has earmarked some P14.3 million for the President’s trip. The expenses cover transportation, accommodation, food and equipment. among other requirements for the the President and his 84-member official delegation. The President will also discuss initiatives on the areas of food security, women and the economy and infrastructure investments, among others. “Our President is also expected to press for the need to strengthen cooperation in cross-border education and skills training to bolster development of human resources amid economic growth,” said Ochoa. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the President will attend the APEC CEO Summit as a panelist on the session on inclusive growth together with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra of Thailand and President Ollanta Humala of Peru. The APEC CEO Summit, considered a premier business event, is attended by distinguished global CEOs from throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The DFA also said President Aquino will meet with members of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) and counterparts from the other 20 member-economies of APEC to discuss issues of mutual concerns, particularly on the promotion of trade liberalization and facilitation, economic technical cooperation and people-to-people connectivity.
In Brunei, President Aquino will take part in the 23rd ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings, where he is expected to attend at least nine different meetings between the ASEAN and Japan, the Republic of Korea, China, the United States and the United Nations, among others, according to the DFA. The Chief Executive will also attend the Gala Dinner to be hosted by His Royal Highness Sultan Bolkiah on October 9, as well as the closing ceremony and the handover of the ASEAN Chairmanship of Brunei to Myanmar at the end of the Summit, the DFA said. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/59512‐pnoy‐shares‐ph‐ideas‐in‐apec
PNoy, Budget chief erred with DAP creation — solon Published : Monday, October 07, 2013 00:00 Written by : Ryan Ponce Pacpaco THE controversy involving the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) could have been prevented had President Benigno Aquino and Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad Jr. asked Congress for a supplemental budget instead of pooling the supposed savings to create a new fund for lawmakers without congressional approval as part of the country’s “economic stimulus.” This was stressed by Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz, a member of the House independent bloc, as he asked Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. to allow a congressional inquiry into DAP especially now that the approval of P2.268 trillion general appropriations bill (GAB) on third and final reading is certain and the National Bureau of Investigation is almost done with its investigation into the pork barrel funds scam. “Oo supplemental budget lang ‘yon. Kapag sinabi ni presidente na urgent ito at kailangan nating ma-maintain ang ating economic stimulus, eh di tapos na. Pag nacertify niyang urgent ‘yan, mabilis pa sa alas kuwatro ‘ ang approval,” Dela Cruz told Rowena Salvacion’s radio morning program over dzBB. Dela Cruz led the bloc of Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, the acknowledged leader of the House independent group, in filing House Resolution (HR) No. 358 to clarify the use of DAP. “Unang-una nga kaya ako nag-file ng resolution sapagkat gusto nating malaman ano ba talaga ang pinanghahawakan ni Secretary Abad para magkaroon ng ganitong savings na sinasabi niya. Kung saan-saan nilang items nilalagay ngayon ‘yan. Wala siyang ganyang karapatan. Ang may karapatan sa ganyan ay unang-una ay siyempre ang Kongreso,” Dela Cruz stressed, adding that the congressional inquiry into DAP should push through despite the order discontinuing the release of DAP to lawmakers after three years of its implementation since 2010 to 2012. In a related development, Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo welcomed the decision of DBM to utilize DAP for the rehabilitation of Zamboanga City and extend assistance to the victims of Typhoon Pablo, which struck in December 2012. “The use of DAP in Zamboanga is welcome and acceptable. There is no better use for it than to restore the City to its old bustling form to improve the socio-eco activity in the area,” Castelo said Aside from Romualdez, the resolution is also being backed by independent bloc
members, namely Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (Buhay) party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, La Union Rep. Victor Ortega, Surigao del Sur Rep. Philip Pichay, Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla, Quezon Rep. Aleta Suarez, former President-turned Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo. Romualdez reiterated his challenge to Abad to thoroughly explain the P10 million and P15 million DAP funds given to each representative last year so they will not be perceived as a “reward or incentive” for impeaching former Chief Justice Renato Corona. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/59501‐pnoy‐budget‐chief‐erred‐with‐dap‐ creation‐‐solon
Environment issues worry Poe, Legarda Published : Monday, October 07, 2013 00:00 Written by : Bernadette E. Tamayo SENATOR Grace Poe has sought an inquiry into the actual state of the Philippine environment to ensure its proper management and protection. She noted that many poor Filipinos rely on the country’s natural resources to make both ends meet. “It is crucial to protect them in pursuit of inclusive economic growth. We want to determine the current state of our environment and identify the necessary measures toward its protection,” Poe said. Poe filed Senate Resolution No. 235 urging the Senate Committees on Evironment and Natural Resources and Senate Committee on Climate Change to conduct the inquiry, in aid of legislation, to ensure a timely blueprint for the protection of the country’s natural resources. The resolution cited the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) report stating that the Philippines has the second-lowest forest cover in Southeast Asia which has dwindled in the past 100 years from 30 million hectares to 7.2 million, or 24 percent of the country’s land area. Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, chaired by Sen.Loren Legarda, is set to be briefed today on the rehabilitation of the Manila Bay as ordered by the Supreme Court. “The Committee will be briefed on the status of compliance with the Supreme Court’s Writ of Continuing Mandamus issued in 2008 ordering various government agencies to clean up Manila Bay. We would also want to know the challenges faced by agencies involved in the clean up and see how the Senate can help fast track the much-needed rehabilitation of the bay,” Legarda said. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/59508‐environment‐issues‐worry‐poe‐legarda
Better pay for teachers pushed Published : Monday, October 07, 2013 00:00 Written by : Marlon Purificacion SENATE Majority Leader Alan Cayetano pushed for the passage of a Senate bill seeking to arm teachers in basic education with better financial capability to cope with the soaring prices of basic commodities. In Senate Bill 94, entitled “An Act Providing for Additional Support and Compensation for Educators in Basic Education”, Cayetano sought to grant a P9,000 additional compensation and P1,000 medical allowance for teachers. “They are given a role that is crucial in creating a society geared towards economic development. It is but reasonable that they receive support and appropriate compensation to ensure that the pillars of education system are not left behind,” Cayetano said. Cayetano’s primary advocacy has always been focused on addressing issues that will allow all Filipinos to feel the benefits of the growing economy. Increasing teachers’ benefits, he noted, will not only help teachers live a comfortable life but will also improve the quality of education and consequently allow students to find quality employment. SB 94, which he authored and filed early this year, seeks to grant the additional compensation to: public school teachers, locally-funded teachers, Philippine Science High School teaching and non-teaching personnel, and even non-teaching personnel of Department of Education except for those in SG 30, under the DepEd schedule of salaries, or holding positions from Assistant Secretary or higher. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/59504‐better‐pay‐for‐teachers‐pushed
Recto pushes for mandatory PhilHealth coverage of senior citizens Published : Monday, October 07, 2013 00:00
Written by : Marlon Purificacion
SENATE President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto is pushing for the enactment of a bill that would provide mandatory PhilHealth coverage to all senior citizens by removing the limitation under the law that grants the statutory benefit only to those who are considered as indigents. “I firmly believe that in the case of providing mandatory PhilHealth benefits to our senior citizens, the law should not distinguish. If limitations imposed by law tend to create unjust consequences, then they should be amended,” Recto said in filing Senate Bill No. 712. He explained the bill seeks to amend Republic Act No. 9994, or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 which provides an array of benefits, privileges and assistance for senior citizens, one of which is the mandatory PhilHealth coverage for “indigent” senior citizens. Recto said RA 9994 defines “indigent senior citizen” as “any elderly who is frail, sickly, or with disability, and without pension or regular source of income, compensation or financial assistance from his/her relatives to support his/her basic needs, as determined by the DSWD in consultation with the National Coordinating and Monitoring Board .” The Senate leader said his bill proposes to remove the limitation on the mandatory Philhealth coverage for senior citizens. Under this bill, all senior citizens, whether indigent or not, shall be enrolled under Philhealth. “The mandatory Philhealth coverage for indigent senior citizens enables them to avail of health services, free from out-of-pocket expenses. However, while this provision is meritorious, it is limited only to indigent senior citizens, most of whom are already under the indigent or sponsored membership of Philhealth,” Recto stated. “Senior citizens who are not considered as indigents but who cannot afford to enroll themselves under the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP), are then deprived of the Philhealth benefits.” Another salient provision of SB 712 is to source the funds needed to ensure the PhilHealth coverage of the country’s 6.1 million senior citizens from the National Health Insurance Fund. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/59492‐recto‐pushes‐for‐mandatory‐philhealth‐coverage‐ of‐senior‐citizens