Global relief as U.S. avoids debt default Category: Top News 17 Oct 2013 Written by AP BEIJING—The International Monetary Fund (IMF) appealed on Thursday to Washington for more stable management of the nation’s finances as Asian stock markets rose after US leaders agreed to avoid a debt default and end a 16‐day government shutdown. With only hours to spare until the $16.7‐trillion debt limit was reached, Congress passed and sent a waiting President Barack Obama legislation on Wednesday night to allow more government borrowing and reopen public agencies. The debt standoff had rattled global markets and threatened to erode the image of US Treasu‐ries debt as a risk‐free place for governments and investors to store trillions of dollars in foreign reserves. Few expected a US default but some investors sold Treasuries over concern about possible delayed repayment and put off buying stocks that might be exposed to an American economic downturn. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde welcomed the deal but said the shaky American economy needs more stable long‐term finances. The deal only permits the Treasury to borrow normally through February 7 and fund the government through January 15. “It will be essential to reduce uncertainty surrounding the conduct of fiscal policy by raising the debt limit in a more durable manner,” Lagarde said in a statement. The Tokyo stock market, the region’s heavyweight, gained as much as 1.1 percent on Thursday. Markets in China, Hong Kong and South Korea also rebounded from losses. Still, the congressional cliffhanger might dent longer‐term confidence in American government debt, a cornerstone of global‐credit markets, prompting creditors to demand higher interest. “With the US government’s antics, the risks go up, so the cost of money could go up too,” said Nick Chen, managing partner of the Taipei law firm Pamir Law Group. Big Asian exporters, including China and South Korea, also faced the risk of a slump in global demand if a US default had disrupted other economies. Martin Hennecke, chief economist at The Henley Group, a financial advisory firm in Hong Kong, expressed exasperation at what he said was a failure by US politicians to fix underlying budget problems in the world’s biggest economy.
“It’s just show business, to distract from real issues and keep the public busy with nonsense,” Hannecke said. “What they should negotiate is how to make a bankruptcy negotiation of the United States, because they are broke. That’s the issue. It’s not about some stupid debt ceiling.” China and Japan, which each own more than $1 trillion of Treasury securities, appealed earlier to Washington for a quick settlement. There was no indication on whether either government had altered its debt holdings. South Korea’s government has $51.4 billion of Treasury securities; Taiwan has $185 billion. Earlier, China’s official Xinhua News Agency had accused Washington of jeopardizing other countries’ dollar‐denominated assets. It called for “building a de‐Americanized world,” though analysts say global financial markets have few alternatives to the dollar for trading and US government debt for holding reserves. In Israel, a key American ally in the Middle East, commentators said the fight hurt America’s overall image. “There is no doubt that damage was done here to the image of American economic stability,” Israel’s economic envoy to Washington, Eli Groner, told Israel’s Army Radio. “It’s not good for the financial markets, not in the United States and not around the world.” China and other central banks might want to move assets into other currencies, Hannecke said. However, he said their dollar‐based holdings are so huge they cannot sell without driving down prices. Hennecke said he would advise clients to stop holding Treasuries. “Why hold it?” he said. “There’s no yield and inflation and interest‐rate risk are on the up.” AP http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/top‐news/21028‐global‐relief‐as‐u‐s‐avoids‐debt‐ default
Local stocks jump on U.S. debt gains Category: Top News 17 Oct 2013 Written by VG Cabuag SHARE prices jumped on Thursday, as investors were relieved after US politicians agreed on a budget that averted the default of the world’s biggest economy and fund its government that has been on a partial shutdown for about two weeks. The bellwether Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) gained 1.2 percent or 77.31 points to 6,560.88, while all other subindices closed higher. “It’s a very positive market. A lot of people already had an expectation on the debt deal,” April Lee-Tan, head of research at COL Financial Group Inc., said. Tan said she is confident the main index will still reach 7,400 to 7,500 points by the end of the year. Most of the markets across the region ended higher, except for the Chinese markets Shanghai Composite and Hang Seng index that both closed lower. Japan’s Nikkei 225, Singapore’s Straits Times index and South Korea’s Kospi all closed higher. The US debt deal is expected to be short-lived as the budget will last only until January, and another round of talks between the two chambers of the US Congress would have to start immediately. At the PSE, total volume of trade was higher at 4.1 billion common shares worth P8.24 billion. Gainers edged losers 96 to 57 with 37 stocks unchanged. The performance of the day’s top-traded stock was mixed. Telecom giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. was down by P8 to P2,852, BDO Unibank Inc. was up P1 to P81, Alliance Global Group Inc. gained P0.75 to P26, Universal Robina Corp. increased by P1 to P122, Metro Pacific Investments Corp. added P0.19 to P4.95 but Manila Electric Co. was down P5 to P308.
Investor confidence boosts FPI inflow
Category: Top News 17 Oct 2013 Written by Bianca Cuaresma
THE resurgence of investor confidence in the Philippines due to positive economic data from China and the easing geopolitical tensions in Syria allowed portfolio investments to flow inward on net basis in September, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said on Thursday. Data show net inflows totaling $682.73 million at end-September this year, a strong rebound from $441.56 million in net outflows the previous month. Although gross outflows for September rose to $1.9 billion compared to the $1.4-billion gross outflows in the previous month, gross inflows proved stronger at $2.602 billion versus $999.58 million seen in the previous month. Foreign porfolio investments are short-term investments on securities, stock, bonds or financial assets from other countries. They are also called “speculative” or “hot” money because they can be easily pulled and redeployed elsewhere, and this explains its volatile reputation. More hot money flowed in the first week of October, which brought the country’s total hot money for this year to $2.806 billion, higher than the $2.653 billion seen in the same period last year. The bulk of portfolio investments in September were placements in Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE)-listed securities totaling $1.8 billion, or about 70.6 percent of total inflows for the month. Peso government securities investments total another $714 million, or 27.5 percent of total inflows, while investments in peso time deposits reached $52 million, or 2 percent of inflows for the month. The top five investor countries for the period, according to the central bank, were Singapore, the United Kingdom, the United States, Luxembourg and Hong Kong. The combined share of the five countries totaled 84.4 percent of all the inflows. The US was still the main beneficiary of the hot money outflows in September, receiving about $1.6 billion, or 85.3 percent of total outflows.
Consumption spending to keep PHL growing at 7%
Category: Top News 17 Oct 2013 Written by Cai U. Ordinario
STRONG consumption spending will sustain the Philippines’s economic growth to around 7 percent this year and next year, according to local analysts. In a briefing at the media launch of the 13th Pacific Region Investment Conference on Thursday, COL Financial Group Inc. Head of Research April Lee-Tan said there is “nothing stopping” the economy from posting a 7-percent growth this year, given the strong 7.6-percent growth in the first semester of 2013. Tan said she expects “more of the same” level of growth in 2014. “We’re very positive in the economy, largely because of our huge consumer base. In the Philippines 70 percent of our GDP [gross domestic product] is consumption. The drivers remain intact,” Tan said. Tan said these growth drivers include overseas Filipino worker (OFW) remittances, the strong business-process outsourcing sector and other new sources of consumption growth. She said the increased availability of consumer credit, for one, would allow consumers to increase their spending for real estate, vehicles and other investments. The stable growth in auto sales, Tan said, could already be indicative of this phenomenon. Tan also said that in light of recent disasters, there is a possibility that the spending allotted to rehabilitation efforts in earthquake-affected areas would boost growth in those areas and translate into higher Philippine GDP growth. “Believe it or not, GDP actually picks up during times of calamities. During times of calamities, people are forced to spend and what is captured by GDP is the actual spending. What we are fortunate to have at this point is that the government is in a position to [spend],” Tan said.
Young peso APART from these short-term growth drivers, another key source of growth of the Philippine economy is its demographic dividend, Tan said. She noted that the average age of Filipinos is only 23 years old, which means a strong and steady supply of labor would keep the economy going for years to come. Tan said this is one of the attractions of the Philippines to firms abroad and is one of the reasons the country remains a favored destination of outsourcing firms. BDO Private Bank Wealth Advisory and Trust Group Senior Vice President Rafael Ayuste Jr. said apart from consumption, the younger population is also driving the growth in financial investments.
Ayuste said young Filipinos are now more investment-savvy and are aggressive when it comes to their investment portfolio. He attributes this to the perception that the younger generation believes it is “invincible” and this now translates into their investment decisions. “They are more inquisitive and any additional information they need, they search online. They come up with very intelligent questions,” Ayuste said. Overall, Ayuste said, Filipinos are now more investment-savvy and are now willing to invest for longer periods of time, longer than 10 years. He attributes this to the increased financial education of Filipinos, that the management of financial institutions and even trusts are now being taught in school.
Tourists cancel travel to Cebu and Bohol
Category: Top News 17 Oct 2013 Written by Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo / Special to the BusinessMirror
LOCAL and foreign tourists have been canceling or postponing their travels to Cebu and Bohol in the wake of the 7.2magnitude earthquake that struck the provinces and other areas in the Visayas and Mindanao on Tuesday. Rowena Montecillo, Region 7 director for the Department of Tourism (DOT), told the BUSINESSMIRROR the cruise ship MS Hanseatic “carrying 180 Europeans transferred to Puerto Princesa.” The ship, owned by the Hamburgbased Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, was supposed to dock in Bohol this week. Other tour groups, Montecillo added, have decided to postpone their trips to Bohol, and wait until the province has recovered from the calamity. “Some tour operators have told their clients that maybe, they can push through with their trip but just stay in Cebu. But most of them insisted to wait for things to settle in Bohol, which is part of their tour package,” she added. Vicky Wallace, proprietor of the popular Bohol Bee Farm on Panglao Island, confirmed that “we have some cancellations, but we understand them [the guests] also.” She added that her property was fortunately spared the worst of the calamity and “operation is still going. We’re so blessed and lucky.” In Cebu, BE Resorts, a boutique hotel on Mactan Island, said it also suffered only minor damage. But Grand Benedicto, president of Enrison Land Inc. that developed the resort, said they have a “few cancellations, mainly by Koreans.” Cebu and Bohol are among the top tourism destinations in the Philippines. From January to April 2013, Region 7 (Eastern Visayas) posted a 15.52-percent increase in visitor arrivals to 1.2 million. Of this figure, visitors in Cebu reached 844,794 while Bohol accounted for 143,388. Koreans are the largest group of foreign visitors in Region 7, reflecting a nationwide trend. Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr., meanwhile, told the BUSINESSMIRROR that “most of the heritage sites [in Bohol] can be restored.” The DOT chief was in Bohol on Thursday to inspect the damage to tourism facilities and cultural heritage attractions. He is also expected to be in Cebu to do the same. “While it will take time to restore the heritage sites, reconstruction of damaged facilities in other attractions and transportation infrastructure should proceed with haste. Our Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority will help rehabilitate the view deck of the Chocolate Hills and other amenities. On the other hand, the DOTDepartment of Public Works and Highways convergence program will need to be skewed to include the repair of roads and bridges,” he added. The DOT chief said ways have to be found to “speed up recovery of the affected areas, especially since tourism is a major industry fueling their economies.” The DOT Region 7 office reported that most hotels, resorts and other business establishments have resumed operations and it’s now business as usual in Cebu and on Panglao Island in Bohol. The rest are still assessing
the structural integrity of their establishments. Though there are some tours still being carried out, areas severely affected by Tuesday’s quake are off-limits to the public, the DOT said in a news statement. These include the Basilica del Santo Niño and Fort San Pedro in Cebu, the Baclayon Church, Loboc and Dauis Church in Bohol, and its other heritage churches. A joint team of experts from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, National Commission of Culture and the Arts, and the National Museum are now in Cebu and Bohol assessing the integrity of these heritage properties and evaluating the costs to restore them. Palace Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the government plans to tap international restoration experts to mount what is likely to be a multibillion-peso eco-tourism project to rebuild centuries-old churches and other historic structures toppled by the 7.2-magnitude quake. Meanwhile, DOT’s Crisis Management Committee headed by Undersecretary Daniel Corpuz, will meet with heads of industry to come up with a contingency plan to regain market confidence and a plan to offer alternative tour programs within Cebu and Bohol. “On the business side, I call on our industry leaders and suppliers to swiftly embark on aggressive plans to sustain the destinations’ marketability and to achieve normalcy. Cooperation and commitment is key and I am confident that Cebu and Bohol leaders have plenty of these,” Jimenez said. He said “now more than ever” Bohol and Cebu need to step up their tourism-promotion programs and generate the necessary revenue “to move forward from this unfortunate tragedy.” The five-star Marco Polo Cebu said it received “postponements for meetings booked for next week but not cancellations.” In an e-mail, Lara Constantino-Scarrow, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing said that while there are postponed meetings, “we had a big group from South Korea that arrived on Wednesday morning. Despite the news of the quake they did not cancel their plans to come to Cebu.” Also, Bellevue Resort in Bohol said it would be closed until Sunday for repairs “for safety reasons.” While he declined to say if there were any cancellations of bookings, the resort’s managing director, Patrick Chan, said they will be closed for repairs until Sunday, October 20, and will start accepting guests on Monday, October 21. He said the resort incurred “superficial damage” and their facilities were “structurally sound.”
Robinsons to buy small retailers Category: Top News 16 Oct 2013 Written by VG Cabuag The Gokongwei Family’s Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc. said it would also be active in buying small retail firms as it expects the domestic retail industry to undergo consolidation in the next few years. Lance Gokongwei, the company’s vice chairman, said this trend was also observed in other Southeast Asian countries. Gokongwei said the company studied other larger markets in Southeast Asia, such as Thailand and Indonesia, and found that as the economy grows, consumer spending tends to shift to modern trade like grocery stores, rather than the traditional wet markets that have smaller players. “Modern trade will continue to consolidate at the expense of smaller stores. The Robinsons Group is going to be a leader in the Philippine retail in the next five to 10 years,” Gokongwei said. He said supermarkets in the country comprised just 25 percent of the business and the rest are in the traditional segment. The figure was relatively low compared with Thailand’s and Indonesia’s of about half of the market. “I think that it will happen here. You’ll see in general the larger players, like SM Group and Puregold, and we hope Robinsons [Supermarket] will be on that list,” he said. Consulting firms define smaller players as those with less than five checkout counters. Robinsons Retail, which at present has a combined network of 940 stores across its various formats, plans to have 1,400 stores by next year. As of the end of last year, a study of Euromonitor showed that Robinsons was the second-largest operator of grocerystore chains with a market share of about 9 percent. The SM Group leads the pack, cornering about 22 percent of the market. That changed this year, with Robinsons losing its position after Lucio Co’s Puregold Price Club Inc., which last year only had a 2-percent share of the market, started snapping up smaller players and rapidly increased its store counts in Metro Manila and Luzon, now numbering to about 200 branches. “Modern supermarkets are generally perceived by consumers to have an advantage over sari-sari stores in aspects including product selection, quality control and shopping environment,” the Euromonitor study said. Supermarkets account for half of the Robinsons Retail’s revenues last year to P29.45 billion. The department-store business was a far second with 19-percent revenue contribution; the rest was shared by other formats such as hardware, convenience, drug and other specialty stores. The company is mulling over its initial public offering by the middle of next month, offering up to 484.75 million in new shares that include 22.85 million shares in over-allotment option. It placed an indicative price of P55 to P66 per share, which would result in proceeds of up to P32 billion.
Some 70 percent will be offered to international investors and the rest to domestic investors. More than half of the proceeds will be spent to expand its supermarket chain, P2 billion for department stores, P1.39 billion for the do-it-yourself shops like hardware, P4.76 billion for convenience stores such as the Ministop chain, P1.9 billion for drugstores and P3.14 billion for specialty stores.
Banks continue to grow physical network Category: Top News 16 Oct 2013 Written by Bianca Cuaresma More than 100 bank branches were added to the Philippine banking system’s physical network from January to June this year, latest data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed. The total number of bank offices in the country grew to 9,543 in the first half of the year, 133 banks on top of the 9,410 bank offices recorded at the end of 2012. Universal- and commercial-bank offices increased from 5,145 in end-2012 to 5,234 as of end-June this year. Universal and commercial banks still comprise the bulk of all bank offices in the country. As of end-June this year, total universal- and commercial-bank offices in the country stood at about 55 percent of the entire physical network of the Philippine banking system. Thrift and rural and cooperative banks also posted slight increases in their physical network. As of end-June, thrift banks hit 1,662 offices, comprising about 17 percent of the total physical network of local banks; rural and cooperative banks stood at 2,647, or about 28 percent of the entire local banks’ offices. Meanwhile, about 900 more automated teller machines (ATMs) were erected in the first half of the year as the BSP reported about 13,129 ATMs across the country as of end-June, a 7.4-percent growth from the 12,225 ATMs at the end of last year. In terms of the regional distribution of banks, the National Capital Regional had about one-third of the entire physical network of local banks at 3,046 offices. This was followed by the Calabarzon region at 1,433 bank offices, or 15 percent of the total local banks’ offices. Next is Central Luzon with 977 bank offices, or 10 percent of the entire banks’ physical network as of end-June this year. These three regions comprise about 58 percent of the total banks offices in the country. The regions with the lowest number of banks are the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, with 20 banks, followed by the Cordillera Administrative Region at 149 banks and Eastern Visayas with 173 banks.
PSE recovers to track other Asian bourses Category: Top News 16 Oct 2013 Written by VG Cabuag
Share prices closed higher on Wednesday, with the Philippine market tracking other regional bourses as investors have become optimistic that the lawmakers in the United States would reach a last-minute deal to save the world’s largest economy from defaulting on its debts. The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) gained 40.87 points to 6,483.57, but the performance of other indices was mixed. The main index went into the negative territory in early trades but picked up the buying activity later in the day as its peers in the region stayed marginally higher. Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore all resumed trade on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225, Singapore’s Straits Times index and KLSE Composite all posted slight gains, but Shanghai Composite, Hang Seng index and Jakarta Composite retreated. “Everything now revolves around the US—at least for the next 24 hours—as both parties engage caucuses to iron out a bipartisan solution to the impasse,” Justino Calaycay Jr. of Accord Capital Equities Corp. said. US Congress needs to pass a budget by the October ceiling to prevent it from defaulting on its debt. “If the default is only for a day, [the result] maybe is a 50-basis-point increase in US [Treasury] yields. If prolonged, all bets are off and nobody really knows what can happen,” Ildemarc Bautista, research head at Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co., said. “There will likely be higher market volatility caused by movement of institutional investors who need to stay invested in high investment-grade papers,” he said. The performance of other subindices was mixed and the losses were minimal. The broader All Shares index gained 18.71 to 3,923.52, the Financials index added 22.49 to 1,613.25 but the Industrial index lost 2.34 to 9,317.59 and the Services index gave up 0.36 to 1,988.42. Total volume of trade reached 1.62 billion shares worth P7.48 billion. Top traded Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. shed P10 to P2,860, but Metrobank recovered and closed higher by P2.50 to P89.45. Universal Robina Corp. gained P0.10; to P121; International Container Terminal Services Inc. added P0.60 to P101; Puregold Price Club Inc. moved up by P0.50 to P46; and SM Investments Corp. lost P3 to P840.
NAIA A gets s wors st airp port tag ane ew (The Philip ppine Star) | Up pdated Octobe er 18, 2013 - 12 2:00am
MANILA, Phiilippines - The e Ninoy Aquino o International Airport (NAIA A) Terminal 1 h has again been vvoted as the w worst airport no ot only in Asia but in n the world by a travel website this year. The “Guide to o Sleeping in Airports” base ed its Oct. 15 rating g of best and w worst airports in the world on reviiews and votess from travelers who spend th he night in airp ports. According to the website, tthe travelers w were asked to con nsider comfort,, conveniences, cleanliness a and customer sservice. The travelers cited meta allic seating, crowded termin nals and limite ed seats at the e airport, makin ng it unpopula ar for long delay ys or layovers. The travelers’ review als so cited inconv veniences suc ch as bad sign nage in the terrminals, difficult transfers, lack of 24-hour fo ood and nothin ng to do in tran nsit, dirty floors s, bathrooms, unfriendly sta aff, airport scam ms, anti-airport sleeper po olicies and “immigration offic cers who prefe er to play Angrry Birds than p process travelers.” Worst and d best airports Also in the list of the world’s s worst airportts are Bergam mo (Italy), Calccutta (India), Islamabad d (Pakistan), Paris P Beauvais s (France), Chennai (India), Frankfurt Hah hn (Germany),, Mumbai (Indiia), Rome Fium micino (Italy) and a Los Angeles (US). NAIA Term minal 1 also to opped the list of o worst airporrts in Asia follo owed by Calcu utta (India), Islamabad (Pakiistan), Chennai (IIndia), Mumba ai (India), Jaka arta (Indonesia a), Kuala Lum pur LCCT (Ma alaysia), Hano oi (Vietnam), Denpassar (Indonesia) and a Bangalore e (India). Meanwhile e, Singapore’s s Changi Airpo ort was voted the t best airporrt this year, folllowed by Seo oul Incheon (K Korea) and Hong Kong. Other airports in the bes st airports list are a Kuala Lum mpur (Malaysia a), Bangkok (T Thailand), Tokkyo Narita (Jap pan), Taipei Tao oyuan (Taiwan n), New Delhi and a Hyderaba ad (India). Rehash Manila Inte ernational Airp port Authority (MIAA) ( genera al manager Jo ose Honrado rrefused to com mment on the n new survey, sa aying it is “a rehash of previo ous reports.” “It’s copied d word for worrd... If you look k up their repo ort and visit the e Terminal 1 n now, see for yo ourself the difference,” he said.
NAIA Terminal 1 manager Dante Basanta said toilets at the terminal can now be compared to some five star hotels following the renovation they undertook when the travel website named NAIA as the worst airport in the world in 2012. He added that the respondents in the survey could not expect all the amenities of a hotel in the airport. Basanta added that Terminal 1 has a day room, which travelers can rent for $18 for 24 hours. The NAIA Terminal 1 is set for rehabilitation in December in preparation for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ summit in November 2015. P1.5-B rehab project The government has tapped a local unit of the world-renowned Arup & Partners to evaluate the design for the much-needed rehabilitation of the airport amounting to P1.5 billion. Arup’s major projects include the Sydney Opera House, Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal3, Jetblue Terminal 5 and the Heathrow Personal Rapid Transit System. Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya earlier said they decided to commission a performance-based design instead of a code-based design, which would have required a longer construction period and disrupt the operations at the NAIA 1. Abaya said the review of the performance-based design is the final step before the start of the actual retrofitting works. The Department of Transportation and Communications tapped Arup after the Department of Public Works and Highways admitted that it does not have the expertise to approve and certify performance-based design. Last year, the Department of Budget and Management approved the budget for the retrofitting and rehabilitation of the airport. – Donnabelle Gatdula, Rudy Santos
Phl, South Korea a ink lo oan, de efense e pacts s By Delon Porcalla P (The Philippine P Star) | Updated October 18, 2013 - 12:00am
SEOUL – The Philippine e and South Korean K governments yesterd day signed thrree memorand dums of understanding (MOUs) in i defense and d sports coope eration, includ ding an $80.4-m million loan to o mitigate the e effects of floods in n low-lying tow wns in Pampan nga. Also includ ded in the sign ning, which President Aquino and Preside ent Park Geun n-hye witnesse ed at the Blue House herre, was a loan agreement be etween the Ex xport-Import B ank of Korea (KEXIM) and the Department of Finance. The agree ement will supp port the nation nal governmen nt’s Integrated Disaster Riskk Reduction an nd Climate Ch hange Adaptation n in the low-lying areas of th he Pampanga Bay project off the Department of Public W Works and Highways and Departme ent of Education. Flood-control measures will be put in place along th he Pampanga river and in 80 flood-prone schools. The agree ement is the se econd financin ng agreement to be conclude ed for the fiscal year betwee en the Philippines and the So outh Korean government, g which w supports the priority de evelopment prrojects of the A Aquino administra ation. Aquino and Park also witnessed w the signing s of the MOUs M on defe ense cooperattion and sportss cooperation between th he Philippine Sports S Commission and Korrea’s Ministry of Culture, Sp ports and Tourrism.
In defense cooperation, both the Department of National Defense and the Ministry of National Defense of Korea agreed to maintain “friendly military ties” anchored on “equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit.” Both agencies will “exchange defense-related experience and information, mutual exchange of visits by officials, military education and training, research and development, military technology cooperation, logistics and maintenance.” Classified military information will also be transmitted, exchanged or generated within the two countries’ MOU framework. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and his counterpart Kim Kwan Jin signed the MOU. In sports, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, in behalf of the Philippine Sports Commission, and Yoo Jinryong, minister of Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, signed the agreement. Both Manila and Seoul have agreed to share or “encourage the exchange of experts, specialists and technicians,” which includes training for athletes of the two countries. The MOU will be in effect for five years and be automatically renewed for a period of five years, unless either side gives a written notice of termination at least six months before the expiry date. Noy defends trip Meanwhile, President Aquino appealed to the public not to question his decision to push through with his state visit to South Korea despite the earthquake that struck Cebu and Bohol this week. In his departure speech yesterday, Aquino said, “We are going to South Korea to take care of the future while we attend to the present. We know that many (of our) investors come from Korea and we aim to attract more of their investments to the country.” Aquino said he visited Bohol and Cebu on Wednesday to personally check on the condition of the people and that some Cabinet members were asked to stay on to ensure that the victims’ lives would go back to normal at the soonest time possible. – With Aurea Calica
SC settles row over Sandigan division chairmanship By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 18, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang will chair the Third Division of the Sandiganbayan on orders of the Supreme Court (SC). SC spokesman Theodore Te said SC justices have ordered Associate Justice Jose Hernandez to vacate the post. The SC had acted on Tangâ€™s five-page letter to Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno last Oct. 10 seeking guidance on the confusion on chairmanship of the Third Division as a result of the proposed Revised Internal Rules of the Sandiganbayan, particularly Section 5(a). Last June 8, Associate Justice Francisco Villaruz Jr. retired as presiding justice of the anti-graft court. Prior to his retirement, he was chairman of the courtâ€™s Third Division. Hernandez then assumed chairmanship of the division. When Tang was named presiding justice last Oct. 1, she wanted to assume the chairmanship of the Third Division. But Hernandez, a senior magistrate, refused to relinquish the post. He said he has become permanent chairman of the division under Section 5(a), Rule II of the Revised Internal Rules of the anti-graft court.
Barangay bets urged to follow rules as campaign period starts today By Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 18, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - As the campaign period for the barangay elections begins today, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) reminded all candidates nationwide to strictly abide by campaign rules to avoid disqualification. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said candidates for the barangay elections on Oct. 28 should abide by the regulations on the size of campaign posters and not to put them in prohibited areas. “There are common poster areas identified during the May elections and they remain, just follow the rules,” Brillantes stressed. “We have the same rules under the Fair Elections Law and we are not changing it. We will be as strict as we were in the May elections,” Brillantes added. Candidates, particularly those from Metro Manila, must also obey the regulations on motorcades to avoid causing inconvenience to motorists, Brillantes said. The filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) started last Oct. 11 and ended yesterday, which triggers the start of the campaign period today. Brillantes also advised candidates in barangays that were severely affected by the recent typhoons and earthquake not to join in the distribution of relief goods to avoid being accused of bribing voters and engaging in illegal campaigning. The Comelec chief said candidates should just leave the distribution of relief goods to victims of typhoons and earthquake to the local government units (LGUs) in their areas. “The local government officials are not running so they should be the one who should be helping the disaster victims. Don’t let the barangay officials do it, because they are candidates,” Brillantes pointed out. He said the Comelec would not hesitate to disqualify those candidates who will be found guilty of violating campaign regulations. Brillantes said he has ordered the legal department to immediately send out notices to candidates as soon as they have received reports of campaign violations.
Distribution of Hacienda Luisita completed Friday Category: Nation 17 Oct 2013 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga DESPITE protests, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) isset to distribute on Friday in Barangay Mapalacsiao, Tarlac City, the last batch of certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs) for Hacienda Luisita beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Agrarian Reform Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Anthony Parungao said some 700 farmer-beneficiaries in the said barangay would be awarded their CLOAs, which are considered as “proof of ownership” of the CARP-awarded land. The distribution will officially conclude the three-week distribution process of the vast sugar estate of the CojuangcoAquino family in Tarlac. A total of 4,099 hectares of the original 5,916 hectare sugar estate was distributed as ordered by the Supreme Court (SC) in April last year. The distribution process started with the identification of qualified beneficiaries in May last year, or a month after the DAR officially received the SC order. The distribution of the CLOAs started on September 30. As of Thursday the DAR has distributed a total of 5,254 CLOAs, including the 665 CLOAs distributed to a total of 449 farmer-beneficiaries in Barangay Balete on that day. Parugao said only 135 CLOAs remain undistributed as of October 16. He disputed claims made by the Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) that farmer-beneficiaries have been boycotting the CLOA distribution. UMA, along with the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita, is questioning the land-distribution process. The groups also criticized the DAR for threatening to disqualify farmer-beneficiaries who refused to sign a document signifying the farmer-beneficiaries’ willingness to follow the terms imposed by CARP rules. A farmer-beneficiary of CARP needs to pay for the land based on its land value, in the case of Hacienda Luisita, P70,000 for the entire 6,600 square meters, payable within 30 years. The beneficiaries are also required to cultivate the CARP-awarded land to make it productive. Land transfer or sale of the land is allowed only after 10 years from the time the land has been fully paid. Parungao said farmers even braved the rain to get their much-awaited CLOAs during the past week. “The distribution went on despite the bad weather. Our commitment was to complete the distribution so in spite of the typhoon, we proceeded with the distribution,” he said.
For Hacienda Luisita, the DAR has generated a total of 6,515 CLOAs, 6,506 of which have been registered with the Registry of Deeds. A total of nine more are in the process of registration. Hacienda Luisita, owned by President Aquino’s family, is the biggest landholding ever to be distributed by the DAR during the 24-year implementation of CARP. The program started during the term of President Aquino’s mother, former President Corazon Aquino, and forms the centerpiece of the first Aquino administration’s social justice program after the People Power Revolution in 1986. Meanwhile, Parungao said a total of 296 lot allocation certificates, or 4.7 percent of the 6,212 farmer-beneficiaries, have yet to be claimed. A total of 339, or 5.45 percent of the total number of farmer-beneficiaries, have not yet signed the application to purchase and farmers’ undertaking (Apfu). He said the farmers who refuse to sign the Apfu will be disqualified and the land allocated for them will be awarded to other qualified beneficiaries. After Friday’s distribution in Barangay Mapalacsiao, the DAR will focus on monumenting or putting mojons. He said the remaining CLOAs will still have to be generated for those who recently signed their Apfus. The CLOAs, he said, will also have to be registered before the Registry of Deeds in Tarlac.
Sou uth Ko oreans takiing ov ver An ngat D Dam Category: Opinion 17 Oct 2013
Written W by Butch del Castillo / Om merta
IN May 2010 0 I wrote abo out how the S Supreme Courrt, under then--newly installed Chie ef Justice Ren nato Corona, issued a status quo ante order temporarily stopping s the highly controvversial privatizzation of the e 246megawatt hyd droelectric pla nt componentt of the Angatt Multipurpose e Dam (“Angat Dam m case—Coro ona’s big te est,” May 28 8 and 29, 2010, BusinessMirro or). It was a highly controversia al issue, becau use the Power Sector Assetts and Liabilities Management Corrp. (PSALM) w was about to formally award the contract to operate o and m maintain the entire dam to o the Korea Water Resources s Corp. (K-Wate er), a corporatio on owned by th he South Korea an governmentt. Corona’s status s quo ante e order, of course, was widely y cheered. It ga ave due course e to the deepesst fears expresssed by several loc cal cause-orien nted groups. The activist groups were conjjuring up all so orts of horrific scenarios thatt could take place once control of o the entire da am is entrusted d to the South Korean compa any. At the verry least, they argued, the award would w be a violation of the pe eople’s fundamental right to w water. The Angatt Multipurpose Dam supplies s 97 percent of o the water rrequirements o of Metro Manila and five ad djacent provinces. Some 12 millio on consumers depend on it fo or their water n eeds. Since I wro ote that piece, however, I los st track of the story. I mistakkenly presumed d that the gove ernment deal w with KWater had eventually bee en scrapped. It was only y recently that I discovered ho ow wrong I wa as. After more than three yea ars since it wo on the bidding ffor the hydroelectrric plant projec ct, it seems tha at K-Water now w feels that the e coast is clea ar for it to finallly take control of the dam. It was s only recently that it got its “c certificate of efffectivity” (COE E) from the PSA ALM. (Incidentallly, this deal with the Philippiine governmen nt would most likely be amo ong the major talking points during President Aquino’s curre ent state visit to South Korrea, aimed at “enhancing b ilateral relation ns between th he two countries.”) Byung Hoo on-yune, vice president p for th he overseas bu usiness division n of K-Water, told the Busine essMirror in a recent interview th hat the company would be able to take ove er the dam by the end of thiss year. K-Wate er has 270 dayys from the day it received its CO OE “to close the e transaction” with w the Philippiine governmen nt. K-Water ha ad placed a biid for $440.8 million m for control of the dam m. But Byung said it has to secure a $500-million bridge loan n (for one year)). After that, the e company exp pects the Korea an Exim Bank a and Philippine banks to proviide the project fina ancing. The pronouncements by K-Water and the President’’s state visit in ndicate that all the issues raised by local ccauseoriented grroups opposed to the takeove er have, for now w, become moo ot and academ mic.
Right now, there seems to be no stopping the South Korean company from taking control of the dam very soon. To think that, in their petition to the High Court three years ago, the groups—including the Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services Inc., the Freedom from Debt Coalition, Akbayan Citizens Action Party and the Alliance of Progressive Labor—raised several valid and urgent objections to the takeover. These groups also accused the PSALM of being less than transparent in the way it conducted the bidding. They also told the Supreme Court how the PSALM had refused to make public critical information, such as the terms and conditions of the award, in violation of Presidential Decree 1445, the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) and jurisprudence. Lawyer Maribel Arias, counsel for the cause-oriented groups, formally raised the following issues before the High Court: • The PSALM has consistently refused to divulge information related to the bidding…including the safeguards to the public interests involved, the identity and qualification of the bidders, especially of the supposed successful bidder KWater. This is in violation of Article III, Section 7 and Article II, Section 28 of the 1987 Constitution. It was also a violation of the jurisprudence relating to the right to information on matters of public concern and the policy of full public disclosure of all government transactions involving public interest. • The bidding process was not open and transparent, and one that discriminatorily limited participation to private sectors, in violation of the Epira. • The PSALM overstepped its mandate and jurisdiction in unilaterally undertaking the public bidding and in not offering the sale to the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System or the National Irrigation Administration as a way to ensure that control of the dam and its water would remain in government hands. • The PSALM allowed K-Water, which is a foreign state-owned corporation, to participate in the bidding process and subsequently declared the corporation to be the winning bidder. This is a clear violation of Article XII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution, the Water Code of the Philippines and the Epira. • The PSALM conducted the bidding without adopting effective safeguards for water security. This was in violation of the 1987 Constitution in relation to Articles 11 and 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and Article III, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution and its implementing rules and regulations. While it is the mandate of the PSALM to privatize all the generation assets of the National Power Corp., as provided for in the Epira, the petitioners correctly argued that the Angat Dam hydropower component should have been treated as a special case, if only because it is the main source of drinking and irrigation water for millions of Filipinos in the areas it serves. The groups’ most telling argument still holds true today—that the PSALM did the Filipino public a colossal disservice by turning over control of Angat’s water to a South Korean business group. But is it really too late to stop the South Korean takeover of this primary water resource? I wonder. E-mail: Omerta_bdc@yahoo.com
Recto says PDAF can be rechanneled for disasterrehab fund in 2014 budget Category: Economy 17 Oct 2013 Written by Mia M. Gonzalez
SENATE President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said on Thursday the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) can be “rechanneled” to disaster-related work in the proposed 2014 national government budget. Recto made the proposal as he pushed for a bigger allotment for the Disaster Aid Projects in the 2014 budget. The senator believed the P7.5 billion allocated for the Calamity Fund next year might not be enough to support reconstruction work in a “country which seems to be hit recently by every tragedy in the catalogue of calamities.” “In the past 30 days alone, this country was hit by a 7.2-magnitude quake, a typhoon that left P3.2 billion in damages, and a failed insurgent takeover of a major city which razed 10,160 homes to the ground,” Recto said. The senator said Malacañang and Congress should jointly consider the option of earmarking funds for the reconstruction of areas placed under a state of calamity this year. “We can increase the Calamity Fund, or create a fund in the DPWH [Department of Public Works and Highways] dedicated exclusively for disaster relief, or even introduce a section in the Unprogrammed Fund, which would qualify disaster relief as among the activities which can be funded by excess revenues, new loans or savings,” Recto said. He added, “We can even rechannel the dismantled PDAF to disaster work. If we do this, then pork barrel will end up as rebuilding material.” Recto, former chief of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), said disasters have become a “major macroeconomic assumption of the budget” and “it will be unwise to ignore their impact in crafting the national budget.” “If the budget is ballyhooed to be based on needs, then the earthquake in the Visayas and other expenditure-causing calamities must be factored in. We cannot be faithful to the bottom-up budgeting concept if we ignore the tragedies on the ground,” he said. He said Malacañang and Congress should start “tweaking” the proposed 2014 budget to create budget space for calamity-relief work. Recto said that in the proposed 2014 budget, the total DPWH allotment for Central Visayas is only P5.1 billion. “Any two-bit carpenter would tell you that this is not enough to repair the public works the earthquake has damaged,” he said, referring to the earthquake that inflicted extensive damage on Cebu and Bohol. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said in an interview with reporters on Wednesday night that the pork-barrel issue was informally discussed at the all-senators caucus that afternoon, and that there would be another discussion on its abolition in a caucus on either Monday or Tuesday.
Cayetano said it is clear that the senators are “100 percent” in favor of the abolition of the pork barrel, and that the PDAF would not be replaced by another fund with a different name, but the P25-billion PDAF of lawmakers this year is another matter. “It’s not yet clear what would be done to the P25-billion [PDAF] this year. Will we just let it expire or give it to scholars, medical assistance? That is the question. And then how will the senators and congressmen push their advocacies in the 2014 budget? That’s still unclear,” he said. Sources said several senators reportedly clashed during the caucus, among them, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada who allegedly castigated Cayetano for repeatedly asking whistle-blowers at the Senate inquiry on the pork-barrel scam about “sexy,” a term that Janet Lim-Napoles reportedly used to refer to Estrada. Estrada was reportedly also sore at Cayetano for repeatedly challenging him to attend the Senate inquiry. Sources said Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV reportedly “confronted” Sen. Francis Escudero for allegedly leaking the names of the six administration senators, including Trillanes, who received Disbursement Acceleration Program funds for their projects in 201. Trillanes clarified the topic was not about DAP but did not specify it.
SSS ready to assist members affected by killer earthquake Category: Economy 17 Oct 2013 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga
THE Social Security Commission has approved a three-part Social Security System (SSS) calamity-relief package for members affected by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Central Visayas region on Tuesday. SSS Vice President and Officer in Charge for Lending and Asset Management Division May Catherine Ciriaco said that a three-part SSS calamity- relief package will be made available for the earthquake victims. The relief package includes early renewal of salary loans, relaxed loan terms for home repairs and advance release of three months’ worth of pensions. “Covered by the relief package are affected members and pensioners residing or employed at the declared calamity areas, which, at present, include Cebu and Bohol provinces. Those in other areas affected by the earthquake, as declared or will be declared by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, or NDRRMC, are also eligible for the calamity-relief package,” Ciriaco said in a statement. The first component of the package is the Salary Loan Early Renewal Program (SLERP), which will be open for application until November 29. The SLERP enables current borrowers to renew their loans ahead of the prescribed one-year period from the start of loan payment under the regular Salary Loan guidelines. The SLERP for calamity-stricken members also allows borrowers who had earlier availed themselves of the SSS Loan Penalty Condonation to renew their loan, despite the earlier imposition of sanction on loan renewal. Ciriaco also said that the SSS will also waive the 1-percent service fee under the SLERP program to enable members to get higher loan proceeds. SSS pensioners for retirement, disability and survivorship residing in the declared calamity areas, meanwhile, can apply for advance release of the three-month pensions by submitting an accomplished application form with a certification of their residence in the declared calamity area from their barangay. For partial disability pensioners with a fixed duration for their monthly pension, the SSS can advance the balance of up to three months of their disability pension. “SLERP and advance release of pensions both aim to give affected members and pensioners immediate cash to help them recover from the disaster. The funds may be used for basic and urgent needs, such as food, medicines and clothing,” she said. “The covered members and pensioners can file their applications for SLERP and advance release of pensions on or before November 29. Given the earthquake’s extensive damage to property, the SSS also relaxed its terms for the House Repair and Improvement Loan Program for members living in the declared calamity areas. The deadline of application will be one
year after the SSS’s issuance of the corresponding circular to give members enough time to prepare the required documents. Under the calamity-relief package, house repair borrowers can avail themselves of reduced annual interest rates of the SSS Direct House Repair and/or Improvement Loan Program, which will be fixed at 6 percent per annum instead of the existing 9-percent interest rate. To qualify, members must be 60 years old or below and have at least 24 monthly contributions, at least three of which within the 12-month period immediately prior to the month of filing their application. The regular application fee, which is up to P3,000, will also be waived. Ciriaco advised members and pensioners in Cebu to transact at SSS Service Offices at Robinsons Malls in Mandaue, Cebu and Lapu-Lapu. The SSS Cebu branch will undergo assessment of its structural stability by both government and private engineers in the aftermath of the earthquake. “For the safety of members and pensioners, the SSS has enlisted the assistance of public and private engineers to check the effects of the earthquake on our Cebu branch,” she said. “The SSS has also approved a donation of P250,000 to the Philippine Red Cross-Cebu Chapter to further help in relief efforts at the affected areas.”
Groups, legislators file sixth petition questioning constitutionality of DAP Category: Economy 17 Oct 2013 Written by Joel R. San Juan
SEVERAL cause-oriented groups and party-list congressmen on Thursday filed the sixth petition questioning the constitutionality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) at the Supreme Court (SC). This developed as SC Spokesman lawyer Theodore Te announced that the Court en banc during its regular session on Thursday has decided to move the oral arguments on the petitions against DAP to November 19, from its original schedule of October 22. Te said he was not informed of the reason for the change of the schedule of the schedule but surmised that it was intended to give parties ample time to comment on the petitions. In a 29 page petition for certiorari and prohibition filed by Maria Carolina P. Araullo, chairman of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and several others, the petitioners insisted that the disbursement of DAP “infringe on the constitutional limits regarding appropriation and disposition of public funds.” The petitions argued that DAP is illegal since there is no appropriation law creating it. They noted that the Department of Budget and Management violated Section 25 (5), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits transfer of appropriations. The said provision also mandates that all appropriation bills should emanate from the House of Representatives. “While being peddled as a ‘stimulus package,’ the DAP is actually an appropriation which seeks to set aside public funds for public use...the DAP not being initiated by the House of Representatives, is unconstitutional,” the petitioners explained. Joining Bayan in the petition are University of the Philippines (UP) Prof. Judy Taguiwalo, co-chairman of Pagbabago; Henri Kahn, of Concerned Citizens Movement; Party-list Representatives Luz Ilagan of Gabriela, Terry Ridon of Kabataan and Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna; Renato Reyes Jr., secretary general of Bayan; Manuel Dayrit, chairman of Ang Kapatiran Party; Vencer Mari Crisostomo, chairman of Anakbayan; Victor Villanueva, convenor of Youth Act Now. The petitioners said that “no less than the Constitution mandates that public funds will not be paid out of the national treasury exception through an appropriation law enacted by Congress.” They also sought the issuance of a temporary restraining order enjoining the Palace from implementing the DAP pending the resolution of the petition. A total of P142.23 billion had already been spent under DAP, according to petitions, and if not prevented, the people will continue “to sustain personal and substantial injury.”
Named respondents in the petitions were President Aquino, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad. Meanwhile, Te said the Court has ordered the consolidation of the separate petitions filed by the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and Maria Carolina Araullo, et. al. with the previously consolidated petitions of former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco and Manuelito Luna. Another petition filed by lawyer Jose Malvar has not been consolidated pending the payment of the required docket fees. A total of six petitions have already been filed before the Court seeking to scrap DAP. â€œNo further action has been taken on the Philconsa, IBP and Araullo petitions pending a re-raffling of the case in view of the inhibition of the former member in charge from handling these cases,â€? Te said. He refused to identify the associate justice who recused from case. With Marvyn Benaning
DENR opens P265-M QC wastewatertreatment plant
Category: Economy 17 Oct 2013 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Thursday inaugurated a P265-million wastewater-treatment facility in Quezon City to prevent water pollution in Metro Manila. Environment Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio led the inauguration ceremony. Also present during the inauguration were Deputy Administrator Zoilo Andin of the Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), Maynilad Water Services Inc. (MWSI) Chief Operating Officer Herbert Consunji, Environmental Management Bureau Director Juan Miguel Cuna and World Bank representative Mat Stephens. The state-of-the-art wastewater- treatment facility in Project 7 was designed with a capacity sufficient to treat and recycle the wastewater generated by at least 1,800 households within the 45.6-hectare Veterans Village. The plant’s construction was funded by a P57-million grant under the World Bank’s Global Environmental FundManila Third Sewerage Project (GEF-MTSP) and P208 million from the MWSS. The local government of Quezon City and the water concessionaire MWSI are also involved in the project. GEF-MTSP is a project being implemented by the DENR since 2007. “This upgraded facility is an integral part of the strategy to improve our water quality and of the alliance that was forged between the public and private sectors that led to the passage of the Clean Water Act of 2004,” Ignacio said. The commissioning of the new facility, which sits on a 1,300-square-meter lot at the Veterans Village, replaces the inefficient 50-year-old Imhoff tank built at the same site in 1955 by the then People’s Homesite and Housing Corp., now the National Housing Authority. An Imhoff tank consists of two chambers placed one above the other with solids passing through an opening into the lower chamber. Settled solids form sludge in the lower chamber while the foamy layer on the surface of the liquid is accumulated in the upper tank and gases from the lower tanks are discharged to the air. The new facility can discharge up to 2,640 cubic meters per day of treated wastewater with 95-percent treatment efficiency in terms Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) removal. It can also treat septage collected from communal septic tanks within the area. The plant’s sewage capacity is 2,400 cubic meters per day (cmd) and its septage capacity is 240 cmd. Ignacio said that one of the water bodies that will greatly benefit from the facility is the Culiat Creek that drains to the San Juan River, which is among the most polluted waterways that contribute significantly to the pollution of Pasig River and Manila Bay. Septage, which has an offensive odor and contains solid-waste materials (consist mostly of grease, grit, hair and debris), is pumped from septic tanks. Sewage, on the other hand, refers to wastewater from residential and service
establishments consisting mostly of laundry and kitchen sink wastewater and those from food preparation, agricultural and even industrial activities. A resource that is sourced from treated septage are processed sludge called “biosolids” which Maynilad, the facility’s operator, will use as organic soil conditioner to rehabilitate lahar-stricken areas in Pampanga.
Bulacan officials eye contingency plans on worries earthquake could hit dams Category: Regions 17 Oct 2013 Written by Ramon Efren R. Lazaro / Correspondent
CITY OF MALOLOS—Government officials met here recently to craft an emergency plan in case an earthquake compromise the structure of three water dams located in the province. Officials of the provincial government of Bulacan met with representatives of four agencies, as well as representatives of operators of the dams. The meeting occurred a day after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit Bohol and nearby southern Philippine provinces. “The Office of Civil Defense is constantly coordinating with the different concerned agencies in formulating emergency action plans in a case an overwhelming natural disaster—in this case a powerful earthquake that could break Angat Dam—occurs,” Josefina Timoteo, Office of Civil Defense regional director in Central Luzon, said. Aside from Timoteo’s office and provincial officials, also present were representatives from the national weather agency and the national and provincial disaster risk-reduction management offices. She said experts are set to inspect the structural integrity of Angat, Bustos and Ipo dams. Timoteo added that the repair and rehabilitation of the 45-year-old Angat Dam was also discussed. The officials are banking on that project, which also aims to strengthen dikes. Modeling by an agency hired by the local government revealed that if the Angat Dam breaks, a wave of flood “will not only affect the areas near the Angat River, but will spread and occupy vast areas well beyond the Angat River channel, and extend both upstream and downstream into the floodplain of the Pampanga River.” The same report by Tonkin & Taylor Ltd. Noted that a total of 20 cities and towns in Bulacan, seven in Pampanga and three in Metro Manila are likely to be affected in their dam-dike failure scenario. “Inundation levels can reach as high as 10 to 30 meters in some areas of Norzagaray, Bustos and Baliuag, Bulacan, due to the initial flood wave resulting from breakage,” the report said. It added that flooding “may reach as high as 5 to 10 meters in some areas of Pulilan, Plaridel, all the way to Calumpit and Malolos City.” “It is estimated that 3 to 5 meter flooding will reach areas of Pampanga [due to the Bustos Dam failure]and the flood plain all the way to Metro Manila, while other areas shall likely experience between 1 and 5 meters of flooding.” Timoteo said logistics, availability and readiness of manpower and even international aid will also be discussed in the next meeting with local and provincial executives.
Meanwhile, Bulacan Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado said representatives of the agencies he met with will continue to consult each other to strengthen the emergency action plan. He added that the details of the plan, which the elected officials failed to identify, will be disseminated to village chiefs. The governor said he has been calling the attention of the national government on the condition of the Angat Dam, which he described as a “ticking time bomb.”
Public-sector debt improved in Q1 Category: Banking & Finance 17 Oct 2013
CONSOLIDATED public-sector debt at end-March this year improved to only P7.7 trillion or the equivalent of 71.3 percent of local output or the gross domestic product (GDP) from year ago of 74.3 percent of GDP. These are debts owed by the national and local government units (LGUs), the so-called monitored government coporations numbering 14, the state-owned pension funds, three government financial institutions plus the IOUs of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) minus the government holdings of its own debt through these same institutions and the Bond Sinking Fund. The P7.7-trillion debt represents an increase of 2 percent equivalent to P154.2 billion from end-2012 debt of P7.5 trillion. Total domestic debt of the public sector increased by 5.3 percent to P5.5 trillion, while foreign debt decreased by 5.4 percent to P2.1 trillion. Non-financial public-sector debt was down by 2.7 percent to P5.4 trillion, equivalent to 50.4 percent of GDP. This was attributed to the P155.6-billion decrease in national government debt, lower debt of LGUs, and also the decrease in both the domestic and foreign liabilities of the 14 monitored non-financial government corporations (MNFGCs). The outstanding debt of the financial public corporations grew by 5.4 percent to P3.9 trillion. BSP debt registered an increase of 6.7-percent offset by a decline of 21.3 percent in the debt of the GFIs from December 2012 level. General government debt, which counts national government debt net of the government’s holdings of its own debt, is down 3.1 percent from the December 2012 level. The ratio of general government debt to GDP declined to 38.5 percent from 40.6 percent as of the end of 2012. Finance Undersecretary and Chief Economist Gil Beltran said this development was the result of a well-planned government-borrowing program. “The benefits of our liability management program have allowed us to notch general government debt at only 38.9 percent of GDP. We already scored more favorably on this metric than many other economies rated higher than us and we were able to drive this down further,” Beltran said. “In fact, our general government ratio is now lower than the Asean+3 average of 39.4 percent.” The Philippines just this year received upgrades to “investment grade” status from the three major credit rating agencies—Fitch Ratings, Standard and Poors’ and, most recently by Moody’s Investors Service. As of March 2013, 28 percent of total outstanding public-sector debt is owed to foreign creditors and the remaining 72 percent is owed to domestic creditors.
Debt deal seen boosting US consumers as holidays approach Category: Banking & Finance 17 Oct 2013 Written by Bloomberg News
AMERICAN consumers are likely to breathe easier during the holiday shopping season now that lawmakers have struck a deal to avert a US default and end a government shutdown. Confidence will rebound after one measure fell to a nine-month low last week, predicts Neil Dutta, head of US economics at Renaissance Macro Research Llc. in New York. Buoyant consumer moods bode well for the spending that accounts for 70 percent of the economy. The debt-ceiling deal will probably produce a “relief rally in consumer confidence, the same way we talk about a relief rally in the equity market,” Dutta said in a telephone interview. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index jumped 1.4 percent to 1,721.54 on Wednesday. While a permanent agreement has yet to be reached, an improving labor market and a rebound in stocks will probably help households shrug off future Washington squabbles, said Jim O’Sullivan, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, New York. The compromise funds the government through January 15 and suspends the debt limit until February 7, setting up another round of confrontations then. Any fallout from those negotiations will be blunted as Americans increasingly view elected officials as “The boy who cried wolf,” O’Sullivan said. “We’ve gone through this process a few times now and at the end of the day, disaster was averted,” O’Sullivan said, who is the best consumer-sentiment forecaster over the past two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. “People are thinking there’s no wolf there. This is only going to reinforce that.” The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary consumer sentiment index for October dropped to 75.2, the lowest level since January, from 77.5 in September, a report showed last week. Nonetheless, households’ reactions so far are less severe than the last time the issue of the debt ceiling flared in mid-2011. While the Michigan index has fallen almost 10 points since reaching a six-year high in July, the decline so far pales in comparison to the almost 16-point drop in the two months ended August 2011. Back then, even as the US lost its top credit rating from Standard & Poor’s, no major slowing in spending occurred as confidence climbed in each of the following nine months, said O’Sullivan. The damage done from the most recent shutdown “is not too extreme,” he said. That may ease concern among some merchants that the partial government shutdown and talk of default would hurt sales. About 20 percent of the retail industry’s annual sales come during the $600-billion holiday shopping season, and some 42 million Americans work in retail and related careers, according to the National Retail Foundation. “Whether it’s consumer confidence, employment numbers and now with the issues going on with the government shutdown, it obviously doesn’t do much to build confidence,” James Buettgen, president and chief executive officer
at Ruby Tuesday Inc. said on an October 9 earnings call. “And it’s a little hard to tell where things are going to go until some of that clears up and we see where consumers really are.” The Maryville, Tennessee-based casual-dining chain reported sales at restaurants open at least a year fell 11.4 percent in the three months ended on September 3 from the same period in 2012. More than half of Matthews, North Carolina-based Family Dollar Stores Inc. customers are on some sort of government assistance, “so when they hear and read about all this uncertainty, I think it impacts their confidence,” Howard Levine, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer, said on an October 9 earnings call. The federal government’s delay of the debt-ceiling debate could “increase the amount of anxiety and apprehension,” among retailers ahead of the holiday season, Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for the Washington-based National Retail Federation, said in an interview. “If business is still uncertain about the direction, that’s going to impact hiring and spending to a degree.” Not everyone is as optimistic as Dutta and O’Sullivan. A short-term fix to the budget and debt ceiling issues means uncertainty would extend over a longer period of time, producing a greater drag on the economy, John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo Securities Llc. in Charlotte, North Carolina, wrote in an October 16 note to clients. The short-term nature of the deal “intimates that the private sector, both households and businesses, will emphasize more cautious cash management over the next three months given the likelihood of yet another contentious political debate,” Silvia said. The shutdown shaved 0.6 percentage point from annualized fourth-quarter growth, taking $24 billion out of the economy, S&P said in a statement on Wednesday. In September the company forecast a growth rate of about 3 percent. “If people are afraid that the government policy brinkmanship will resurface again, and with it the risk of another shutdown or worse, they’ll remain afraid to open up their checkbooks,” S&P said. “That points to another Humbug holiday season.” Bloomberg News
Scale insects infest Quezon coconut trees anew Category: Agri-Commodities 17 Oct 2013 Written by John Bello / Correspondent
LUCENA CITY—The province of Quezon is practically under a state of calamity following the resurgence of scale insect infestation in coconut-growing areas, particularly in the first and second districts. Roberto Gajo, head of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, presented to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Quezon on Monday the extent of the infestation. The pest affected not only coconut trees but also other fruit-bearing trees such as lanzones, mangosteen and rambutan. A summary of scale insect infestation and treatment from Gajo’s office showed that a total of 259 barangays in nine municipalities and one city have been affected and a total of 52,189 coconut trees have been infested by the pest as of October 4. The town of Sampaloc in the province’s Second District has the most number of coconut trees infested at 26,210; followed by Mauban, 12,109; Dolores, 8,090; Tiaong, 5,260; Polillo, 440; and Tayabas City, 53. Tayabas City also recorded the most number of infested mangosteen trees at 16,300. Scale insects have also affected 430 lanzones trees in Lucban; 300 in Tiaong; 200 in Dolores; 50 in San Antonio and 30 in Sariaya. The extent of damage caused by the pest prompted Quezon Gov. David Suarez to write a letter addressed to the SP, headed by Vice Gov. and presiding officer Sam Nantes, to inform him about the urgency of the matter. Suarez also asked the SP to pass an ordinance allocating P15 million to stop the infestation of scale insects. The allocation, according to Gajo, should also be used for information and dissemination campaign and livelihood projects for those affected farmers. Gajo said the budget to fight scale insects could come from the calamity fund of the province. First District Board Member Alona Obispo had expressed reservation to the idea considering that half of the province’s P30-million calamity fund will be spent on only nine municipalities and one city. The province has a total of 39 municipalities. Obispo, however, voted along with the other SP members for the approval of the fund allocation to eliminate the pest. Gajo told SP members that a mixture of 8 liters of cochin oil, 300 milliliters of dishwashing liquid soap and 200 liters of water would spray 15 to 17 trees and about 80 to 100 trees would be sprayed a day.
Davao rice farmers lured into catfish growing Category: Agri-Commodities 17 Oct 2013 Written by PNA
DAVAO CITY—It started with only 200 square meters area that rice farmers in Los Amigos allocated for hito (catfish) growing within their respective rice fields many years back. Barangay Captain Angelico Santander Jr. told the Philippine News Agency they learned of the technology of growing hito from the government through the Department of Agriculture (DA). Santander said there was a time in the past that their yield with rice farming was no longer viable, that is why they looked for other projects that will help them augment their income. He said for over 10 years now of growing hito in between their rice farming, there were already changes in their way of living as most of the farmers were able to send their children to school and finish college and got employed. Santander also said farmers already were able to purchase transportation that they use for their farm products. He said through the years, the 200-square-meter hito farm of some farmers had been expanded to 5 hectares and gets a gross income of P1 million. Santander said initial capital ranges between P50,000 and 80,000 depending on the area. With the success of growing hito in Barangay Los Amigos, farmers in the neighboring barangays like Calinan, Balengaeng, Tagakpan and Tugbok also ventured into the project. Santander said they had organized their group and formed the Los Amigos Aquaculture Producers’ Group. “We want to formalize our group into cooperative,” he said. He said they are also venturing into other projects because there are markets that have tapped them for supplies. Although talks are still ongoing, he said Japan market needs about 3 tons daily of the African hito that they produce organically. However, he said they are already supplying the different big markets of Davao City and supermarkets. He said they are very careful of getting other commitment and bringing out their produce outside of Los Amigos because right now there are already 19 restaurants that operate along the highways of the barangay from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. These restaurants need about 1,500 kilograms daily. He said the restaurants already have a captive market of travelers going toward Cagayan de Oro City and Bukidnon and vice versa, aside from tourists and residents along the area.
Los Amigos also houses eight new subdivisions, while colleges and universities of Davao City already have acquired areas for their expansion. Santander said they also have prepared their zoning plan and allocated areas for commercial development. He added that with the government’s direction toward tourism, they are now discussing with the Department of Tourism (DOT) on their move to focus on agri-tourism. Other than the DOT, he said, they are also in talks with the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Trade and Industry to help beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to also engage into hito growing. PNA
Militant group calls for independent probe of projects funded by ‘pork’ Category: Agri-Commodities 17 Oct 2013 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning THE Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) has demanded an independent inquiry into what it described as the “massive plunder of funds” in the Department of Agriculture (DA). The militant group said the probe teams created by Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala “will whitewash the investigation.” KMP issued the statement after reports said Alcala had created another team to investigate lawyer Irene D.T. Alogoc, director of the DA’s internal audit service, on her alleged participation in the plunder of agricultural funds. Ironically, Alogoc was appointed by Alcala to lead the inquiry into the fake non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that were accredited by the DA and managed to get millions of pesos. “It appears that Alcala is scrambling to cover up his mess. Alcala’s creation of fake probe teams is a desperate attempt to exonerate himself and escape accountability from plunder,” KMP Secretary-Gneral Antonio Flores said. “The DA never runs out of fakes. From fake NGOs, fake probers, up to the fake agricultural programs purposely designed to make public funds vulnerable to plunder,” Flores added. Alogoc is one of 12 public and private individuals, including President Aquino, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Janet Lim-Napoles and Alcala, who were charged with plunder by the KMP in the Office of the Ombudsman on October 2. “We don’t trust Alcala. We do not want a repeat of the 2008 fertilizer-fund scam probe,” Flores said, referring to the 2008 Blue Ribbon Committee investigation that failed to pin down Napoles because she was cleared, according to former Sen. Richard Gordon, at the DA level by then-Agriculture Assistant Secretary Catherine Mae Santos. “In light of the lack of credibility of institutions like Congress and the judiciary, both hounded by allegations of corruption, and Alcala’s fake probers, we call for the creation of an independent body that will investigate the massive plunder of public funds in the DA,” Flores said. Marvyn N. Benaning
Solon wants penalties for importation, use of toxic farm pesticide Category: Agri-Commodities 16 Oct 2013 Written by Jovee Marie N. Dela Cruz A party-list lawmaker has filed a bill criminalizing the manufacture, importation, storage, distribution, sale, use and disposal of a highly toxic pesticide called monocrotophos. House Bill 2426, filed by Party-list Rep. Delph Gan Lee of Agri, seeks to ensure that the toxic pesticide will not victimize anyone in the country. The bill penalizes a person caught manufacturing, importing, distributing, selling, using or disposing of pesticides found containing monocrotophos with five years’ imprisonment and a fine of P1 million. In filing the bill recently, Lee said monocrotophos—an organophosphorus insecticide developed by Novartis (formerly Ciba-Geigy)—is primarily used to control cotton pests but is also used on citrus, olives, rice, maize, sorghum, sugar cane, sugar beets, peanuts, potatoes, soya beans, vegetables, ornamentals and tobacco. She said the insecticide was described by the World Health Organization as a “nerve poison” banned in many countries because of its high acute toxicity. It classified monocrotophos as highly hazardous and had been responsible for deaths resulting from accidental or intentional exposure. “It is very toxic orally and also by inhalation or absorption through skin. Early symptoms of poisoning may include excessive sweating, headache, weakness, giddiness, nausea, vomiting, hypersalivation, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, blurred vision and slurred speech,” Lee said. “Inhalation or skin contact may increase the susceptibility to the pesticide without showing immediate symptoms,” she added. Lee said many incidents in developing countries, such as India, Brazil and Paraguay, have been linked to monocrotophos causing paralysis in children even leading to their deaths. “Even in the Cordillera region, monocrotophos as one of the pesticides widely used by farmers, suffered from adverse health effects,” she said. Lee said that at present, monocrotophos is not listed in the banned and regulated pesticides of the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, an agency of the Philippine Department of Agriculture which is responsible for overseeing matters regarding fertilizer supply and production. The lawmaker added that there were numerous reports that monocrotophos is still widely used in the Philippines. “The low cost and ready availability of this pesticide do not outweigh the potential harm that it can cause to our farmers and to the consuming public. Hence, the passage of this bill is earnestly sought,” Lee said.
'Wha at hap ppened d at Bohol? B ?': 7 questio ons on n the deadly d y quak ke (philstar.co om) | Updated October 17, 20 013 - 12:37pm
Â An aerial photo p of the de evastation of Loon L township p, Bohol provin nce in central Philippines W Wednesday Octt.16, 2013, a da ay after a 7.2-m magnitude qua ake hit Bohol and a Cebu provvinces. AP/Bu ullit Marquez)) The Philipp pine Institute of o Volcanology y and Seismollogy's primer o on the recent earthquake th hat originated ffrom the East Bohol B Fault: What hap ppened at Boh hol? At 8:12 AM M on 15 Octob ber 2013, Tues sday, a destru uctive earthqua ake of magnitu ude 7.2 shookk the island of Bohol and nearb by provinces. Smaller-magni S tude earthqua akes followed a afterwards, an nd as of 1:00 p pm, 16 Octobe er 2013, 885 earthquakes have been rec corded by the PHIVOLCS se eismic monito oring network. At least 15 evvents were reportedly felt in th he epicentral area. a The main n shock and su ucceeding afte ershocks were e located in the vicinity of Bohol. These recorded even nts were shallow, with a dep pth of at most 32 kilometerss. Based on sp patial distribution n of succeedin ng events and characteristic cs of the earthq quake, the eve ent is tectonicc in origin.
Based on preliminary intensity reports, the strongest ground shaking at PEIS VII was felt at Tagbilaran City and several cities in the province of Cebu. Neighboring island provinces of Cebu, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Camiguin, Panay, Leyte, and several areas in northeastern Mindanao felt the earthquake at varying intensities of PEIS I-VI. Moderate-magnitude (M5 to 6.9) earthquakes have also affected Bohol Island in the past! On 08 February 1990, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake occurred at Bohol generated by an offshore reverse fault east of the island. Sixteen municipalities felt the strongest intensity of ground shaking at PEIS VIII. There were reports of severe property damages, numerous casualties, hundreds injured, and several thousands homeless. The towns of Jagna, Duero, Guindulman, Garcia Hernandez, and Valencia experienced tsunami inundation. Why do earthquakes occur in Bohol? Bohol Island is one of the seismically active areas in the country. Instrumental monitoring of earthquakes for the past century has detected many small to moderate-magnitude earthquakes in Bohol Island. There is at least one known earthquake generator on the island, the East Bohol Fault. In addition, there are other local faults which can be sources of small to large magnitude earthquakes. Earthquakes can also occur offshore or undersea because of local offshore faults near the island or trenches in the vicinity of the region. Can these present earthquakes indicate volcanic activity? No. There are no volcanoes in Bohol Island. What can we expect from the current earthquake activity? The current seismic trend indicates that the magnitude 7.2 earthquake on 15 October 2013 is the main shock, and the succeeding small magnitude earthquakes are the aftershocks. Aftershocks are expected, some of which will be felt. These may continue for weeks to months, but diminishing in number and strength as time passes. In this case, a higher magnitude earthquake related to this event is no longer expected to occur. What can we expect after a large-magnitude/high-intensity earthquake like this? People are reminded to be cautious of structures visibly weakened or with signs of damage by the 15 October 2013 earthquake, as these may be further damaged by succeeding earthquakes. Strong ground shaking may cause extensive damage to or even the collapse of houses, buildings, bridges, and other infrastructures. Collapsed structures usually account for most of the casualties during a strong earthquake. Falling objects may also cause injuries. What should we do? Report from the field mentioned several building, houses and other infrastructures that sustained minor to major damages. In case of houses with visible damage, it is best to contact the Municipal Engineering Office for advice. Engineers from the municipal government and other authorities should inspect buildings and other infrastructures to determine their integrity and recommend appropriate action to concerned affected groups or individuals. Check for tension cracks on the ground that may have resulted by the strong ground shaking. These areas can initiate landslides during intense rainfall.
The best course of action is preparedness. In case of another felt earthquake, it is recommended that people protect themselves by doing the “duck, cover and hold”. In homes and offices, heavy furniture should be strapped to the walls and appliances be secured to prevent them from toppling and causing injuries injury to persons. Aside from strong ground shaking, what other seismic hazards are life-threatening? Landslides, rock falls, and other types of mass movement may occur in mountainous or hilly areas. Liquefaction, manifested by sandboils or lateral spreading may affect low-lying, water-saturated, sandy areas near the coast or at the banks of rivers. In general, since the destructive earthquake occurred inland, no tsunami was generated.
Recto o: P7.5-B B calamiity fund not eno ough, ne ew 'DAP' needed d By Louis Bacani B (philstar.com) | Update ed October 17, 2013 - 10:41am m
Â A crane sh hifts through th he rubble of th he damaged Our O Lady of Asssumption Parrish church folllowing a 7.2magnitude e earthquake, at Dauis in Bo ohol, central Philippines, Tue esday Oct. 15 5, 2013. The trremor collapse ed buildings, cracked roads s and toppled the bell tower of the Philipp pines' oldest ch hurch Tuesdayy morning, cau using multiple de eaths across the t central reg gion and sending terrified ressidents into de eadly stamped des. AP MANILA, Philippines P - Senate S Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto on Thu rsday called fo or the creation n of new "DAP P" funds that could be used d for specific projects p in 201 14. But Recto was not referring to the wid dely criticized Disbursement D t Acceleration Program intro oduced in 2011 1 to pump-prim me the econom my. Instead, his proposed DA AP funds will b be used for re elief and rebuilding efforts in areas deva astated by dis sasters. "There's certainly a need d for bigger DA AP - or Disastter Aid Projectts - funds," Re ecto said. "Thiss is the kind of DAP that we ne eed." Recto lamented that in the t past 30 da ays alone, the country faced a rebel stand doff in Zamboa anga City that affected ov ver 10,000 homes, a typhoo on that left P3..2 billion in da mages, and m most recently, a magnitude 7 7.2 earthquake that has kille ed over a hund dred people so o far. The senator said the pro oposed P7.5 billion b calamity y fund in the 20 014 national b budget might n not be enough h for the recons struction effortts in the affecte ed areas of a "country which h seems to be e hit recently b by every traged dy in the catalog gue of calamitties."
"If we count the help which owners of burned houses in Zamboanga, or Santi-hit farmers in Pampanga, or small Bol-anon businessmen whose stores were destroyed will be needing, the total bill is way above the resources at hand," Recto said. Recto said Malacañang and Congress should start tweaking the proposed 2014 budget to create space for calamity relief efforts and study the option of earmarking funds for the affected areas. He added that the impact of disasters should not be ignored in crafting the national budget. "We can increase the Calamity Fund, or create a fund in the DPWH dedicated exclusively for disaster relief, or even introduce a section in the Unprogrammed Fund which would qualify disaster relief as among the activities which can be funded by excess revenues, new loans or savings," Recto said. Recto also suggested that the dismantled pork barrel of lawmakers can be even rechanneled to disaster relief work.
Drilon: Senate to donate P6-M savings to disaster victims By Christina Mendez (philstar.com) | Updated October 17, 2013 - 10:51am
MANILA, Philippines - Senate President Franklin Drilon announced Thursday that he and his colleagues have agreed to pool about P6-million out of the Senate's savings from this year's budget to help in the relief efforts for areas affected by the deadly quake in Central Visayas and other areas distraught by the typhoons recently. Drilon said that the full amount will be transferred to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) by next week. "We have an initial review of our finances. We believe that we can have savings at this time of P6 million from the Senate budget which we will now transfer to the DSWD to assist in the relief operations," the Senate President said. The collective decision of the body came after a tense-filled atmosphere at the caucus Thursday, which followed Drilon's decision to give a green signal to issue a subpoena for alleged pork barrel operator Janet Lim Napoles and force her appearance at the Senate Blue Ribbon probe. Drilon said he and the senators will meet again next week to determine "other steps we can take in order to assist the rehabilitation of the affected areas." He did not say where the savings will be generated, except that it will generally be coming from the Senate budget. "It's just savings from the Senate budget. We have no time to examine everything but it’s part of the Senate budget," Drilon said before leaving for Seoul, South Korea for President Benigno Aquino III's two-day state visit. "We will give to DSWD. They will decide which area [to allocate the funds]," Drilon said.
Half a million betts seek king ba aranga ay pos sts By Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) | Updated Oc ctober 17, 2013 3 - 12:00am
Â MANILA, Philippines P - In n a span of jus st three days, over half a mi llion aspirantss filed their cerrtificates of candidacy y (COCs) for th he Oct. 28 barangay election ns, the Comm mission on Elecctions (Comele ec) reported yesterday.. Comelec Commissioner C r Grace Padac ca said their lo ocal offices nattionwide have e received a to otal of 57,674 C COCs for barang gay chairmen and a 467,196 frrom those running for baran ngay kagawad d (councilors). Padaca sa aid in the first three t days of filing f of COCs s, the Southern n Tagalog region posted the e biggest number of candidates s with more th han 9,000 seek king to become village chieffs. Aside from m Southern Ta agalog, the Bic col region and Western Visa ayas also recorded a high nu umber of candidates s running in th he coming elec ctions. The Nation nal Capital Re egion (NCR) so o far posted a total of 3,619 9 aspirants for chairmen and d 21,619 for kagawads. The Come elec is expectin ng the number of candidates in the comin ng elections to o reach 700,00 00 when the filling of COCs end ds today.
Except in Bohol and other quake-ravaged areas in Central Visayas, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said the poll body would no longer extend the 5 p.m. deadline in filing of COCs since the campaign period will start at 12 a.m. tomorrow. He said Comelec has decided to extend the deadline for filing of COCs in Bohol and other quake-ravaged areas for two or three hours. “Upon the request of our office in Central Visayas Region, we will extend just the period, not the date. So instead of 5 p.m. the Comelec in Region 7 will still accept COCs until 7 or 8 p.m. of Oct. 17,” Brillantes said. He said Comelec would decide before the start of the campaign period whether to postpone the barangay elections in Bohol and other quake struck areas. Brillantes said Comelec received reports that aside from Bohol, several areas in Leyte, Cebu, Bacolod, Negros Occidental and even as far as Mindanao have been affected by last Monday’s earthquake. “As much as possible we do not want to postpone the elections,” he said, adding the Comelec will decide whether to reset the elections before the start of the campaign period. If the Comelec will decide to postpone the elections, Brillantes said the poll body will try to limit the number of barangays to be affected. “As soon as we can have a more comprehensive report on the real situation on the areas affected by the quake, we will have to decide on the basis of that,” he said. Postponing barangay elections There had been calls to postpone the barangay elections in quake-stricken areas but President Aquino said only Congress has the power to do so by legislation. “Congress has to come up with a resolution doing that (postponing the barangay elections),” Aquino told officials during a briefing at Tagbilaran City, Bohol. Bohol Rep. Rene Relampagos asked Aquino if he could support them to have the barangay elections in the province postponed due to the damage wrought by the earthquake last Tuesday. “It is very near and considering the things that we had to do here, the people need full time and attention to address the challenges that they are facing right now,” Relampagos said. Relampagos added he would do his part by initiating the filing of a resolution at the House of Representatives seeking to postpone the barangay elections in quake-stricken areas. Bohol Gov. Edgar Chato said the provincial government would pass a resolution to defer the barangay elections. Brillantes, meanwhile, warned those who have already filed their COCs against engaging in premature campaigning. Brillantes said the Comelec’s legal department would start sending out notices to those who have put up posters prior to the official start of the campaign period. – Aurea Calica, Janvic Mateo
Groups push right to adequate food By Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 17, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Everyone has the right to adequate food. With this battle cry, more than 100 participants representing 50 non-government organizations signed the “Declaration on the Right to Adequate Food” to mark World Food Day yesterday. Led by the National Food Coalition (NFC), the groups also called on President Aquino and Congress to pass a framework law on the right to adequate food. Aurea Miclat-Teves, NFC convenor, said the declaration stands firm on the need for the passage of a law that will rectify existing incoherent, non-complementary and conflicting legal mechanisms to contribute to the realization of right to adequate food in the country. The groups urged the government to declare right to adequate food as a national policy priority. Teves said the declaration also affirms the country’s obligation to secure the right to adequate food, which is “closely intertwined with the right to land, water, work, education, health, and housing — the right to adequate standard of living” for its people. NFC hosted the first national conference on “The Right to Adequate Food: A Collective Action for Policy Reform,” which tackled governance of rural development, environmentally sustainable growth as well as redistributive justice in February. The NFC also recommended a national food policy with the participation of all concerned sectors, including the most vulnerable groups; rationalize the food framework law, institute capacity development of the right to adequate food and promote rights-based approach for its implementation. “Right to adequate food orientation and human rights training are key elements in educating individuals and groups in grasping the hunger and poverty situation in the country and in joining the NFC, right to adequate food documents and materials were translated into Filipino to help raise awareness of people,” noted Teves. The NFC is holding workshops and consultations for the promotion and development of a draft bill on right to adequate food, of which indigenous peoples, fisher folk, urban poor and youth, are among the participants. Over 50 organizations and federations with more than 10,000 members, representing the urban poor, peasants, indigenous peoples, fisher folk and the middle class, comprise the NFC. They had identified poverty, inequality and the resulting failure of the poor to access available resources as the main drivers of hunger in the country.
Visay yas qu uake's devas station by the e numb bers By Camille e Diola (philstarr.com) | Update ed October 17, 2013 - 9:19am m
Â Residents walk along a damaged road d following a 7.2-magnitude 7 e earthquake that hit Bohol, central Philipp pines, Tuesday, Oct. O 15, 2013. The tremor collapsed c build dings, cracked d roads and top ppled the bell tower of the Philippines s' oldest churc ch Tuesday mo orning, causin ng multiple dea aths across th he central regio on and sendin ng terrified re esidents into de eadly stamped des. (AP) MANILA, Philippines P - A quick glance at the devastation wrought by the magnittude-7.2 earth hquake that strruck Central Vis sayas on Tues sday morning,, October 15, 2013, 2 a Muslim m holiday. Authorities s said that had d it not been a holiday, the quake q could ha ave killed morre people in the provinces off Bohol and Cebu. Relevant data d from the National N Risk Reduction and d Managemen nt Council and d other official sources are a as follows: (Last upda ated: October 17, 2013; 5:41 1 pm)Â
Casualties and affected population Deaths: 161 Missing: 23 Injured: 374 Rescued: 3 Affected: 631,809 families; 3,209,058 individuals; 7 cities; 3 provinces; 1,080 barangays Displaced: 9,359 families; 47,067 individuals in Bohol Evacuation centers: 61
Related incidents Landslides: In 18 villages Stampedes: 2 Aftershocks: 1,213
Damages Cost of damages: P75,150,000 (damaged roads, bridges and flood control) Seaport/Airport: 4 Tagbilaran City port terminal; Tagbilaran Airport ceiling; Pasil Fish Port; Iloilo Admin Office Churches: 9 Cebu - Santo Niño Minor Basilica, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral; St. Catherine's Church Bohol - Church of San Pedro Apostol, Loboc; Church of Our Lady of Light, Loon; Santissima Trinidad Parish, Loay; Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Baclayon; Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, Dauis; Clarin Church Hospitals: 11 6 hospitals under the Department of Health; 2 local government hospitals; 3 private hospitals Roads and Bridges: 24 Road slips: Cortes-Balilihan-Catigbian-Macaas Road; Tagbilaran East Road Laya Baclayon; Tagbilaran North Road (Km 89.869-Km 89.950); and Loay Interior Road Loboc Section. Impassable: Abatan Bridge along Tagbilaran North Road; Camayaan Bridge along Tagbilaran North Road in Cortes; Tultogan Bridge along Tagbilaran North Road in Calape; Tagbuane Bridge along Tagbilaran East Road in Albur; Moalong Bridge along Tagbilaran North Road; Hunan Bridge along Tagbilaran North Road; Taguimtim, Damiao and Daet Bridges along Tagbilaran North Road in Buenavista; Palo, Hinawanan, Bonkokan, Banban, and Panangatan Bridges along Tagbilaran East Road; and Agape Bridge along Loay Interior Road Passable: Suarez Bridge along Dawis Panglao Road and Salog Bridge along Tagbilaran North Road Private establishments: 13 Cebu - Ayala Center Cebu; Gaisano Mall; Budget Builders, N. Bacalso Leyte - Novo Department Store; Cindy's Food Chain in Maasin City Negros Occidental - Central Philippine State University, Victorias City; SM City Mall, Cadiz City; Gaisano Mall Bohol - Plaza Marcella; Island City Mall; Bohol Quality Corporation
Schools: 4 Bohol - Immaculata High School fence; Tudela School and gymnasium; Cebu Doctors' University, Cebu Institute of Technology Houses: More than 18,000 Bohol - Houses in Barangay Anonang, Inabanga, Loreto and Cortes Cebu - Houses in Sambag 1 and Argao Others Chocolate Hills - portion Cebu City Hall DepEd Region 7 building, Cebu City DTI-Cebu building Sagbayan Municipal Hall, Bohol Tagbilaran City Hall, Bohol T. Padilla Public Market, Cebu Cit - portion Social Welfare Office, Boljoon Boljoon Municipal Hall - cracks Mandaue Public Market Panangatan River Control, Bohol Powered by ScribbleLive
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DILG chief: Enough rice supply for quake-hit provinces By Dennis Carcamo (philstar.com) | Updated October 16, 2013 - 8:29pm
MANILA, Philippines - Interior and Local government Secretary Mar Roxas on Wednesday asked residents of earthquake-ravaged Bohol to avoid panic-buying and hoarding as he assures that the government has enough supply of rice and other basic commodities. Roxas said that the government is exerting efforts not just in relief operations, but also in restoring services and rebuilding properties. In a press conference in Tagbilaran City, a day after a 7.2-magnitude temblor hit Bohol, Roxas said the National Food Authority has assured them that there is a two-week rice inventory at the warehouse and enough supply of other basic food items. “Tuluy-tuloy lang po ang pasok ng supply dito. Huwag po tayong maniwala sa panic buying,” he said. He also called on commercial establishments to resume operations and avoid hoarding. “Huwag po tayong mag-hoard dahil sapat naman ang supply ng mga pagkain, bigas, de lata, isda. Chi-neck din natin yung sa krudo, diesel, kerosese at gasolina. Marami din pong supply, maayos ang mga depot at hindi naapektuhan,” Roxas said. Roxas had directed the Philippine National Police to mobilize all its personnel in Central Visayas to extend assistance to all local government units affected by the magnitude-7.2 earthquake that struck Bohol and wrought havoc in Cebu and other provinces in the Visayas on Tuesday. Roxas said that a team of structural engineers has arrived in the province to assess the damage to public buildings. “Yan yung priority – public buildings, hospitals, yung mga government offices, yung mga pinupuntahan ng mga tao, evacuation centers, paaralan para masiguro natin yung kaligtasan ng mga gusaling ito. Tuloy tuloy naman ang trabaho dun sa mga tulay, sa mga kalye at iba pang imprastraktura,” he said. The interior secretary, meanwhile, clarified that not a single town in Bohol province has been isolated due to damaged bridges and landslides following the powerful earthquake. Roxas added that major airlines, including the Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific, that they would continue flights going to and from Bohol. “Tuloy tuloy pa rin po ang pagpasok ng mga turista sa kabila nang nangyari. In fact, inatasan na nang Pangulo ang Malacanang Communications Office na tumulong sa provincial Tourism Board Council para maparating sa lahat na tuloy tuloypa rin ang turismo dito at huwag magkansela ng bakasyon at okasyon na gaganapin dito sa Bohol,” he said.
Obs servattions SKETCHES By Ana Marie Pamintuan (T The Philippine Star) | Update ed October 18, 2013 - 12:00am m
In his tw wo days in So outh Korea, Prresident Aquin no may want to o look at the p politics and pub blic fund uttilization in one e of Asia’s mo ost prosperouss democraciess. P-Noy may also wan nt to look at ho ow South Kore ea dealt with itss serious corruption problem m as it emerge ed from severa al decades of authoritarian rule. Our culture es are of courrse different, but b we also hav ve similarities with the Kore eans. We both experienced dictatorial rule. We sharre democratic values such as a respect for h human rights a and the rule o of law – althoug gh in our case, adherence a to these ideals often o seems to o be little more e than lip service. Koreans are a among the biggest inves stors here and they account for the largestt number of to ourist arrivals in the Philippines s. Explaining this t phenomen non, a Korean diplomat once e told me thatt his compatrio ots think the Philippines s has “the mos st perfect wea ather in the wo orld.” Like other visitors here, the Koreans also a like the friiendliness of F Filipinos (and ffor investors, Pinoy skills), r low cost c of living, and a widesprea ad English pro oficiency. The Philippines’ natural attractions, the relatively ed culture and system of government rem mind Koreans o of home. westernize Newly arrived Korean ex xpats, howeve er, have comm mon observatio ons about our country that a are fascinating g for the fact tha at these are th hings we take for granted, but which otherr cultures conssider strange if not downrigh ht anomalous s. One is the e proliferation of o guns. South h Koreans notiice this probab bly because m many of them h have been victimized by robbers, carjackers and kidnappers he ere. Although South Korea is in a state off war with its northern neighbor, n it allo ows only soldie ers, police and d private secu urity guards to pack guns, an nd only to perfform their duties s. Another th hing they have e noticed is the e proliferation of gated comm munities in the e Philippines. T The only Soutth Korean wh hose house ha as high walls and a a gate is the leader of th he country, an nd President P Park Geun-hye e’s socalled Blue e House is her official reside ence. Even the e wealthiest h eads of chaeb bols or industrrial conglomerrates don’t have e an exclusive gated commu unity. Maybe we w have gated d communities because our country is floo oded with loose firearms. eigners have also noted that our politicians s move around d with a phala anx of police bodyguards at Other fore taxpayers’’ expense, and d join presiden ntial trips overs seas when on nly the chief exxecutive is inviited by the hosst government. cians also think k nothing of fla aunting their wealth w by throw wing lavish pa arties. A Korea an once told m me that Our politic if a public official did this s in their country, that officia al would be ou ut of a job quiccker than he ca an say kimchi.. o the pork barrel and relate ed scandals, o ur budgeting ssystem has be een added to tthe list With the spotlight now on hat Koreans fin nd amazing in the Philippine es. of items th
* * * South Korea, which hosts a US military base in the heart of its capital Seoul, has a system of government inspired, like ours, by the American presidential system. But the Koreans don’t have a congressional pork barrel. They seem to have gotten along impressively well without it. Their roads don’t melt in the rain and their infrastructure is one of the best in Asia. Several Koreans have told me they are mystified by the broad personal control vested on our lawmakers over the utilization of huge amounts of public funds. South Korea is no stranger to large-scale corruption at the top levels of government. The difference is that the Koreans sent two of their former presidents to prison for corruption, presenting them to the public in regular jailbird garb. The two spent sufficient time behind bars before they were granted pardon. Also sent to prison were chaebol VIPs involved in corrupt deals. Another former Korean president implicated in corrupt deals jumped off a mountain cliff, plunging to his death 30 meters below. In our country, public officials facing corruption cases will push their accusers off a cliff. The two former Korean presidents who were sent to prison have slipped quietly into retirement from public life. This is another common observation among expats in the Philippines: our public officials who are accused or convicted of corruption shrug off the charges and go on with business as usual, or else stage spectacular political comebacks. The Koreans indicted, arrested, tried, convicted, sentenced and then pardoned their former presidents with the same speed and efficiency that have come to be associated with the country’s industrialization and modernization. Then they moved on, busying themselves with achieving global market leadership in many industries from shipping to manufacturing of cars and smart phones. In our case, the pace of justice is… never mind. We can’t seem to bring closure to anything – the assassination of Ninoy Aquino and Rolando Galman, the cases against the Marcoses, the fertilizer scam, the ZTE broadband scandal. People who are accused of betraying public trust are kicked out by impeachment but do not face trial for what is supposed to be a serious crime. Joseph Estrada at least was convicted after six years in VIP detention… and look where he is now. Several Koreans have told me that for them, a five-minute delay is a long time. Expats from other countries have told me that the tardiness and delays in so many aspects of life in the Philippines, from the administration of justice to Customs processing and flight arrivals and departures, are among the biggest factors that take away the fun from a stay in the Philippines. Democracy is a difficult system. Some countries are better at it than others. We can learn from what others have done right.
Rewarded for being poor CTALK By Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 18, 2013 - 12:00am
People will act poor if they know they’ll get paid for it. That may sound as a harsh generalization to some but anyone who watched the million strong crowd of people lining up to get free medical service and groceries in the City of Manila this week would have a hard time arguing otherwise. The truth of the matter is that “poverty” or “poor” has become an ugly standard even in terms of government policy and public management. While it is good to care and address the needs of the poor, it is disturbing to realize that in many instances we see poor quality government services because many people in government conclude that the “poor” don’t pay, the poor don’t complain, and the poor will take anything they can get as long as it is free. To complete this vicious and shameful circle, many people simply resign themselves to act poor, think poor and talk poor because they get something free for it. ‘This is one big lie’ What the poor people in our society are supposed to be getting are not freebies but good service, because “WE” the taxpayers paid and funded all of that. It is not free. It is paid for! Just because a government office or facility services mostly poor people does not mean, and is no excuse for their offices or facilities to look squalid or dirty as if conforming to the “poor” living conditions of their “poor” clients or customers. Just because poor people don’t speak with the confidence and eloquence of educated “civilized’ individuals, this does not mean that front line government employees have license to be rude or speak like gutter rats because the poor are unschooled or “walang pinag aralan.” That reawakening to better quality and “equal” service was just one of many “take home” messages that participants gained last Wednesday during “Universal Health Care Forum II” sponsored by PhilHealth, Novartis Healthcare Philippines and the Ateneo de Manila School of Medicine and Public Health. The forum was organized to address public health issues “in pursuit of Access, Quality, and Financial protection” for managers and beneficiaries of public healthcare specifically under PhilHealth. Divided into three main sessions, the panelists and participants discussed: Increasing access to PhilHealth benefits — Ensuring Financial protection — Safeguarding Quality Care. The good news is that the road to affordable public healthcare in the Philippines continues to expand its coverage, much of the needed legislation, policies, and logistics are in place. To top it all, public healthcare managers have been very proactive in raising standards for accreditation of hospitals and physicians and working towards a “zero billing” world for Filipinos who enter public hospitals all over the country. PhilHealth has also gone tough on service providers who violate policies by suspending, removing accreditation as well as stiff fines on hospitals, clinics and doctors found guilty of violations. The bad news is that all of these efforts are not being maximized simply because of traditional mindset and behavior. For instance, coverage has not reached ideal numbers simply because a number of local officials have other priorities, don’t want to spend part of their IRA for coverage and do not appreciate the long term value of public healthcare and insurance, while others are simply too lazy to do the necessary paper work or to enroll people in far flung barangays that require sending out social workers or healthcare personnel to gather
data. I’m not familiar with the PhilHealth law but again the failure to enroll your constituents should be punishable by removal from office whether elected or otherwise, or else public officials will feel no dire need to comply. If there is a law, cases should immediately be filed. While listening in the earlier forums, one comment that placed everything in perspective was the statement of Dr. Jaime Alip who pointed out that most of the government healthcare facilities such as hospitals and clinics are often located in urbanized areas which are often too far, too expensive to reach, for the many poor people who need healthcare the most. Considering the rising and often unaffordable cost of real estate in many urbanized settings, one would think that building clinics outside towns and cities would be fair and equitable since property values would be lower and urban residents often have the money and the means to travel while the poor don’t. In a time when we have more and more mobile food stalls, mobile advertising trucks etc. how difficult is it to set up mobile clinics which will always be cheaper and effective than fixed assets. We can even give a new definition to the term “riding in tandem” by mobilizing doctors on motorcycles. Strangely enough, the politicians who have no qualms “busing” or making “hakot” voters during elections suddenly forget how effective it is to provide buses or trucks that can ferry or transport would be patients at least twice a week to town or city centers for much needed medical care. Some “poor” people actually are willing to pay bus fare to seek needed medical attention, but in many places there are no regular transportation services! In spite of it all, the most positive news has to be the fact that many public hospitals that were once considered “dumps” or “lay-in / die-in” clinics have risen to the challenge of renovation physically and operationally to the point of being ISO certified. Just five minutes away from where I live is the Rizal provincial hospital along Shaw/Pasig Boulevard that used to be so cramped, run down and old. But after a change of administration and general renovation, the hospital has become ISO certified and has attracted some of my doctor friends to relocate their clinics that used to be in the top 3 private hospitals in Metro Manila. Quality public health care, excellent public facilities and professionals are not just goals, they are today’s reality. It can be done. It is being done. *
Change rules on pork, or change Noy instead? POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual jr. (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 17, 2013 - 12:00am
WHAT TO DO?: Almost always, when I get into discussions with individuals incensed with the pork barrel plunder, the conversation reaches the cul de sac question “So what do we do now?” Refusing to turn around, we pursue the question. And the options narrow down to either: (1) The President, with the co-operation of congressional players, must reform the rules for ALL pork in and out of the budget, or (2) Change the President if he refuses to change the rules. It has reached that either-or point. Many people are angry and getting angrier as more revelations explode in the media. Worse, there is doubt if the communications strategists in the Palace and their lackeys imbedded in media can prevent the cauldron from boiling over. *
CHANGE NEEDED: If a stubborn President Aquino insists on keeping his pork and continues to dispense it as patronage, what happens? A situation could just develop calling for Option #2, which is to change him. It is disturbing that about six out of every 10 persons who ask me about the pork barrel crisis no longer wonder if the developing situation would require changing the pork-addicted President. The question they now ask is, if ever, who do we change P-Noy with? (However, they cannot agree on a suitable replacement or the mode of succession.) *
LOYALTY FOR SALE: Still, Option #2 keeps attracting disgruntled taxpayers who note the President’s unwillingness to give up his porky lump-sum discretionary funds. Although President Aquino has agreed readily to the scrapping/realigning of the Priority Development Assistance Fund, where congressional pork is hidden, his body language indicates a desire to have all the pork under his control. (When talking of presidential pork, we have in mind the Disbursement Acceleration Program, the Special Purpose, the Social, the Malampaya and such discretionary funds whose staggering total has not been revealed.) Since political loyalty in this country is for sale, obviously the President — now a lame duck — is afraid to lose the pork that assures him the support of a majority of congressmen and senators. *
BUT WHO?: President Aquino is lucky that until now no one has emerged as a suitable replacement if ever Option #2 gains ground. Under the succession rule in the Constitution, if the President is removed or vacates his post before the end of his term, the replacements in descending order are the Vice President, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House. All the officials mentioned are presumed to be qualified and acceptable to the electorate. But will the people accept Vice President Jejomar Binay, or Senate President Franklin Drilon, or Speaker Feliciano Belmonte as replacement? *
SCARY TAKEOVER: The case of Vice President Binay recalls the situation of then Vice President Noli de Castro during the waning years of the administration of President Gloria Arroyo with a Mike Arroyo standing beside her. There was a clamor for Ms Arroyo’s early replacement, but many people were worried over the prospects of Noli de Castro — generally regarded as not prepared for the awesome demands of the presidency — taking over. But Binay is not De Castro. Even his adversaries concede grudgingly that the Vice President has leadership qualities and administrative competence suited for the presidency. *
BINAY’S PROBLEM: But Binay is haunted by alleged corruption dating back to his days as Makati mayor. Such allegations, true or not, might not sit well with people fed up with the wanton graft in the Arroyo and now the Aquino administrations. It is conceivable that Binay’s rivals for the presidency are just waiting for the right time to start exploding corruption stink bombs. But it is still early to detonate them since — as in war — every explosive or bullet expended is immediately spent and prematurely rendered useless. Handlers of President Aquino, as well as those of DILG Secretary Mar Roxas — the presumed Liberal Party standard bearer in 2016 — might use this corruption line to check Binay’s ascension and keep Aquino in place. They could try scaring people with: “Would you rather have Binay than Aquino?” *
WHITE KNIGHT: The oust-Aquino groups hankering for immediate change can push aside Binay, Drilon and Belmonte, and mount instead a campaign for a White Knight emerging from outside the line of succession. Probably a military type, a former president or a former chief justice?
That would entail an extra-constitutional push (read: putsch) which could be convulsive and repulsive to those grown tired and wary of coup plotters and the forcible capture of government. But if the people’s anger over pork and big-time corruption is pushed to the limit, there is no saying where it might lead. Option #2 calling for the early replacement of Aquino — now tagged Pork Barrel King — might just catch fire. *
SAVING GRACE: One saving grace for Aquino is a lingering perception that he is honest and well-meaning, that he is a captive of a coterie that is neither clean nor competent. It could happen that disappointment in him is just transferred disapproval. Many are actually asking why he does not throw out the rascals who have abused their closeness to the President to make millions or who have been giving him bum advice. Many loyalists actually pity Aquino — saying that except for what looks like a vindictive streak and lack of, huh, brilliance, he really means well and is upright. Maybe he should venture out of his comfort zone, reach beyond his tight circle of advisers and replace the amateurs with a more knowledgeable team to help him recover lost ground and undo errors in the limited time left of his term. *
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Successive calamities IN SEARCH FOR TRUTH By Ernesto M. Maceda (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 17, 2013 - 12:00am
The series of calamities hitting the country continues one after the other, starting with the Zamboanga standoff, where over 200 people died, followed by floods in the evacuation centers. Floods extended to several Mindanao provinces and Negros Oriental, killing 23 people. Then, typhoon ‘Santi’ roared into the country causing heavy damage in Nueva Ecija, Aurora, Tarlac, and Bulacan, inflicting almost P3 billion in damage, with 13 killed. In Cabanatuan alone, 14,000 hectares of riceland were destroyed and a P 100-million damage to infrastructure was etimated. All electric posts are down. Now a 7.2-magnitude major earthquake hit Bohol, Cebu, Iloilo, and Negros Island. Early reports say that 107 were killed mostly in Bohol, including 9 in Cebu and 1 in Siquijor. Six churches in Bohol which are considered as national heritage treasures led by the church of San Pedro in Loboc were badly damaged, and 11 other churches were also damaged. In Cebu, the bell fry of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño collapsed. The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCAA) has sent teams to assess the damage. President Aquino flew to Bohol and Cebu yesterday, but Malacañang announced the State visit to South Korea will push through today. Couldn’t it be postponed for a week or two? Who are the seven? Senate President Frank Drilon revealed that 17 senators are in favor of abolishing the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Who are the 7 hesitating or even want it retained? The latest survey by Pulse Asia reports that 45% want PDAF abolished and only 10% want it retained. Protesters should now exert pressure on the Senate to abolish PDAF. Senators who are elected nationwide don’t need pork barrel to win an election. This was shown by the election of 6 new senators in 2013. Meanwhile, Drilon asked the COA to audit the Disbursement Acceleration Fund (DAF). * * *
Steep drop President Aquino suffered a steep drop in satisfaction rating in the 3rd quarter from a +64 to only +49, a 20% drop. It is clear that there is public outrage at the way President Aquino is defending his releases of PDAF and DAP. Also, Malacañang has not released the details of its releases of special purpose funds, including the Malampaya Fund, the Presidential Social Fund (PSF), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) releases, the Road User’s Tax collections, and several others.
There was also significant dissatisfaction at the way the government handled the Zamboanga standoff, with resulted in over 200 killed, 179 wounded, and 10,000 houses burned down. Some sectors are also unhappy at the slow pace of investigation by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) of LTO Chief Virginia Torres and the $30-million Inekon extortion case, complained by no less than the Czech Ambassador. The continued high unemployment figures, with no solution in sight, were also a major cause of dissatisfaction. Some columnists even suspect that the satisfaction rating could be lower, then massaged, due to the unusual delay in the release of the result.
Purisima vs. Biazon The disarray in government offices is again demonstrated by the conflict between DOF Secretary Cesar Purisima and Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon. Purisima has accused Biazon of making new assignments of collectors and personnel without his approval. The President must step in here. It doesn’t look good for 2 major presidential appointees to be fighting over turf. Purisima, a cabinet member, is the superior. Biazon must follow his superiors. If he disagrees, it’s time to resign.
Ph hunger serious The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), a Washington-based research institute, reported in its 2013 Global Hunger Index (GHI) that the hunger situation in the Philippines remains “serious”. Local SWS surveys have consistently confirmed a high hunger index, even as high as 57% of the population. Once again, this raises a policy question as to the effectivity of the P98-billion conditional cash transfer (CCT) program. This is another cause of dissatisfaction among the class D & E population: the incidence of hunger and malnutrition. The other major problem unsolved by the Administration is the high incidence of crime rate.
CA’s Ma’am Arlene Court of Appeals Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr. has opened an internal investigation on the reported fixing of cases at the appellate court. Presiding Justice Reyes has identified a clerk in the CA as one of the 3 ‘Ma’am Arlenes’ mentioned by the Supreme Court Administrator Midas Marquez. Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has already asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the matter.
The investigators can start with the CA divisions and the Metro Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) judges who have issued many temporary restraining orders (TROs). TIDBITS: The Senate met in caucus yesterday over the question of inviting Janet Napoles to appear at the Blue Ribbon committee hearing. Senate President Drilon announced a decision to issue the subpoena for Napoles.
Another barangay captain in Abra was shot dead. A mass stampede inside a gym caused by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Cebu City, left 1 girl killed and 42 wounded. Two Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) employees died in Loon, Bohol due to the earthquake. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has sent 2 rescue teams to Bohol and Cebu. The 30% of Chocolate Hills also suffered damage. The City Hall of Tagbilaran and the Provincial Capitol of Cebu both suffered damage. The roof of the new public market of Mandaue, Cebu collapsed. Eighteen bridges in Bohol were damaged, including Abatan Bridge that connected Tagbilaran City and Maribojoc. DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson reported that 3 major bridges in Bohol will take at least 4 weeks to repair. For the second time, a P10-million CCT payroll was held up in Quezon.
Heal thyself FIRST PERSON By Alex Magno (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 17, 2013 - 12:00am
This question boggles the minds of citizens anxious about the nationâ€™s future: Who will we trust to redeem us from this quagmire? We live in a time of ravaged institutions. It is as if a horde of barbarians swept in and desecrated everything in sight. The economy might still be holding fast, but the Republic is in ruins. We might have broken the insidious cycle of boom and bust that kept our economy underdeveloped. In its place, however, we have been treated to a long sequence of political administrations that ended up in the same way: in flames. At no time previously have our people been asked to deal with a crisis of institutions as serious as the one we now confront. Those we rely on to ferret out the truth are the very ones accused of crimes. The ones we trusted to govern us well have betrayed us. There is an ancient Greek adage that sums up the futility that often visits human affairs: Doctor, heal thyself! Can we rely on the same damaged institutions currently shaken by scandal to redeem our governance? Will we invest more trust on leaders who have violated it in every conceivable way? Those who looted the public treasury, albeit on some officious excuse, will we depend on them to lead us to fiscal sanity? Never before have the integrity and independence of our institutions been so blatantly debased across the board as they have been today. The path to institutional erosion began alarmingly. The Aquino administration went after the sitting Ombudsman, seeking to impeach her. She chose to quit than be demonized. Emboldened, the administration sought to impeach the sitting Chief Justice. This was clearly political overreach. When Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial rule in 1972, he did not dare cross the great divide between a willful presidency and an independent judiciary. In the case of Chief Justice Renato Corona, the administration managed to get 188 congressmen to sign a flimsy complaint they did not even read. The Senate, for hundreds of millions of reasons, convicted Corona on the otherwise remediable misdemeanor of an incomplete SALN. The overreach eventually backfired. We now have a mountain of evidence, circumstantial but convincingly voluminous, that the impeachment was bought and the conviction was bribed. The move against Corona undermined the independence of the judiciary. Every appointment to the High Court thereafter is tinged with partisan color. Notice how those agitated by what appears to be wanton disregard for constitutional procedure are not at all expectant of heroic constitutionalism on the part of the Court. Compare that with the way people immediately rallied behind retired Chief Justice Reynato Punoâ€™s call for a popular initiative to define the pork barrel as unconstitutional.
The judiciary’s ability to recover eroded prestige is today compromised by talk of “Napoles-style” fixers. When the Court Administrator called for an investigation into the matter, the DOJ immediately undermined that by initiating its own investigation. The message here is that the judiciary cannot be trusted to investigate itself. The sick doctor cannot be expected to heal himself. The Congress that was bribed to decapitate the head of a co-equal branch of government was itself embroiled in the scandal over pork. The money trails of questionable releases timed for the episode of impeachment could not be kept out of public view for very long. No sensible citizen today holds the Congress as a truly independent branch of government. How can an institution severely addicted to pork solve the crisis of public confidence about the efficacy of checks and balances? Will money-hungry legislators go after a presidency that seems to have run amuck with the budget? The President told us last August that the congressional pork is abolished. The Solicitor-General told the Court last week the pork barrel is alive, albeit “suspended.” It is tucked away somewhere for use at a more auspicious time. We are being lied to. Who will investigate this, even facetiously “in aid of legislation?” The Senate through the venue of a public hearing? All of them received hundreds of millions via the “Disbursement Acceleration Program” (DAP), this poisoned tree whose bitter fruit the executive branch will soon have to eat. A few days ago, whistleblower Sandra Cam blew the whistle on Senate President Drilon. The politician, she claims, dealt with Janet Napoles since 2005. That partnership was at least politically profitable, with Napoles said to have contributed much to the LP electoral kitty. Drilon, says Cam, was responsible for striking Napoles’ name from the list of those summoned for hearings on the fertilizer scam. Now we know her fake NGOs cornered most of the deals. Who, in the legislature, has clean enough hands to credibly conduct an inquiry into this growing mess that is rapidly washing away government’s legitimacy? I can think of no name. And what of the Presidency? Will it survive this deluge of public disgust? Having intimidated the judiciary by a shocking impeachment and having undermined the independence of the legislature by greasing it with pork, will the presidency be the last institution standing? Certainly, those who think the President has the greasiest hands will not think so. The controversial DAP is now this presidency’s Achilles’ heel. If the large-scale fabrication of “savings” and untrammeled disbursement of the same is declared illegal or even unconstitutional, the President, even if immune from suit, will begin to be tried in the public eye. After his term, he will land in jail for massive malversation or plunder. Can he now buy a mantle of constitutionality for what he has done? With what?
Davao power plant to provide 300 MW By Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 18, 2013 - 12:00am
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – This city is expected to get additional 300 megawatts as the AboitizPower subsidiary Therma South Inc. is set to complete its baseload power plant here by the first half of 2015. Davao City is considered to be the biggest power consumer in the south, as it is considered to be the leading growth center in this part of the country. The P25-billion power plant is seen to provide the much-needed power supply in Mindanao that has been plagued by continuous power outages that last up to eight to 10 hours in certain areas. Mindanao is largely dependent on hydroelectric power but the water levels in its main sources such as the Pulangi River in Bukidnon and Lake Lanao is Marawi City have lately been low and not enough to supply the demand. AboitizPower first vice president for Mindanao affairs Manuel Orig said the coal-fired power plant in Barangay Binugao, Toril district here is nearly 50 percent complete, with some 2,000 workers working round the clock to finish it. “We are fully committed in delivering our power to our customers on time and help relieve Mindanaoans of the debilitating effects of the Mindanao power crisis,” Orig said. On-site preparations started in late 2011 after the project got approval from the Davao City council. Full construction began in 2012. If not addressed, the power shortage in Mindanao is projected to hit 484 MW by 2015, enough to cut off power supply to the major cities of Davao, General Santos, Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, and Zamboanga.
Starts to feel like X-Mas: 'Amihan' now here, colder mornings seen ahead By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated October 18, 2013 - 8:47am
MANILA, Philippines - More than two months before Christmas day, the state weather bureau said the "Hanging Amihan" has started to affect the country. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said in its 24hour public weather forecast on Friday that the Amihan or northwest monsoon is now affecting northern Luzon. The weather system is usually associated with the Christmas season due to the cooler temperature. PAGASA said the development and strengthening of high pressure areas over mainland China have shifted the wind direction over Luzon to northeasterlies, bringing cold and dry air over the northern part of the country. This resulted in the lowering of the minimum temperature observed over the extreme northern Luzon area. "These meteorological conditions normally signify the start of the northeast monsoon season," PAGASA said. The agency added that colder early morning temperatures in the coming days and months are likely to be felt over Luzon, with chances of light rains especially over the northern and eastern sections. PAGASA said the Ilocos region, Cordillera Administrative Region and Cagayan Valley will experience scattered light rains today. Metro Manila and the rest of the country will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rains or thunderstorms. The weather bureau said moderate to strong winds blowing from the northeast will prevail over Luzon and its coastal waters will be moderate to rough. Elsewhere in the country, winds will be light to moderate coming from the northeast to north with slight to moderate seas.
Small scale mining: Immeasurable damage FILIPINO WORLDVIEW By Roberto R. Romulo (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 18, 2013 - 12:00am
I learned from the Blacksmith Institute the following: “Almost a quarter of the world’s gold supply can be traced back to 10-15 million poor small-scale gold miners, or artisanal and small scale mining (ASM), scattered about the globe. These miners are also the third largest source of mercury pollution today, however, comprising about 30 percent of the world’s anthropogenic mercury releases.” “One of three things will happen once the mercury has evaporated. The gaseous mercury may be inhaled by the workers and their families, leading to serious health issues. It may also settle into the surrounding environment, seeping into the ground and contaminating the water supply. It could also rise into the atmosphere, where it circulates for about three months before raining down again. The effects of evaporated mercury effect, not only in the area in which it is released but also on the entire globe equally, is reflected in elevated mercury counts in organisms located far from artisanal gold mining activity.” Inhalation of mercury vapor is particularly hazardous for kidneys, the central nervous system, and the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Inhalation of mercury vapor has been found to cause neurobehavioral disorders, such as hand tremor and mental retardation. Exposure to other forms of mercury – and in particular the methylmercury that accumulates in fish – can also lead to problems with the kidneys, lungs, and central nervous system, in addition to arthritis, reproductive problems, loss of memory, psychosis, and in some cases, death. Children exposed to mercury contamination have a higher risk of developmental complications. Chinese in ASM As everyone knows, China continues to reach out overseas for minerals needed to fuel its dramatic economic growth, and long-term prospects show that it will only become more aggressive in its pursuit of mining deals abroad. Our estimated $1-trillion worth of untapped mineral reserves has seen a notable influx of Chinese mining investments in recent years. For the Philippines, Chinese money from legitimate mining companies has been a welcome relief for its troubled mining industry that has seen a flight of investment from Western mining giants on top of a growing list of stale and frozen projects. Before I proceed further, I must inform that what I am about to describe is based on information derived entirely from industry sources who do not wish to be identified. I understand further that certain senior government officials have been provided similar information. There are an estimated 500,000 small-scale miners operating in more than 30 provinces, and some in the industry have begun to question the increasingly aggressive involvement of Chinese firms in these activities. The entry of questionable Chinese mining investors into the country has posed significant challenges to the Philippines. Substantial evidence points to unaccountability, misconduct, and corruption in many Chinese mining deals – all of which have created an unfair playing field. Philippine authorities have in fact arrested more than 100 Chinese nationals since January 2012 for their involvement in illegal mining operations across the Philippines. Most Chinese mining firms operate under the cover of domestic small-scale miners to bypass Philippine mining laws and protocols, as well as to avoid the large capital requirements, fees, and taxes associated with largescale mining. The Chinese firms circumvent the enormous time and expense of complying with large-scale
mining requirements by co-opting a Philippine proxy and purchasing small-scale mining permits or special ore extraction permits for a minimal fee. The sheer amount of minerals exported from the Philippines to China is further evidence of this exploitation and abuse. The Philippines is already the largest provider of nickel ore imported into China, and the leading provider of gold imported into Hong Kong. Few experts believe the volume of gold and nickel ore going into these territories could be achieved by legitimate mining operations. The massive export smuggling of minerals to China has led to major tax losses to the Philippines. In 2008, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) disclosed that an estimated three million metric tons of Philippine mineral ores processed in China were unaccounted for by the Philippines. In June 2012, the DENR sought help from the Presidential Anti-Organized Task Force (PAOCTF) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) after the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) reported a 38-percent first quarter decline from the previous year in total metallic mineral production value allegedly due to mineral ore smuggling. In the second quarter of 2012, the amount of gold sold from small-scale mining to the Central Bank of the Philippines dropped by 98 percent. MGB director Leo Jasareno said the figures showed that gold extracted from the Philippines was likely being sold illegally on the black market or smuggled out of the country. Significantly, official Philippine data reflect legal exports of gold to Hong Kong in both 2010 and 2011 at approximately just three percent of the total volume recorded by Hong Kong authorities.
Hong Kongâ€™s top source of gold imports from 2005 to 2010 was the Philippines. Official Hong Kong data show that Philippine gold shipments hit a record-high of 81,471 kgs in 2010, only slightly dipping to 81,192 kgs in 2011. Conversely, official Philippine data reflect legal exports of gold to Hong Kong in both 2010 and 2011 at approximately just three percent of the total volume recorded by Hong Kong authorities. According to UN trade data, Hong Kongâ€™s official figures of Philippine gold in 2011 were 11 times the Philippine numbers for gold shipments to Hong Kong. Corruption and manipulation of the law has rendered national agencies such as the DENR helpless in regulating and monitoring small-scale mining operations, as provincial mining and regulatory bodies often become rubber-stamp institutions of local politicians in cahoots with the mining companies. I was also informed that the Catholic Church, environmentalists, and other activists are not particularly aggressive in directing their ire at Chinese mining practices in the Philippines. At the end of the day, it is my fervent prayer that the national government will prevail over the corrupt local officialsâ€™ heinous practices which has wrought irreparable damage to its constituents, the environment and the nation.
Banks shiifting from SDAs S to tru ust fun nds (The Philip ppine Star) | Up pdated Octobe er 18, 2013 - 12 2:00am
MANILA, Ph hilippines - Loccal banks are ttargeting to sh hift at least 30 perccent of their to otal investable fund from hig ghyielding speccial deposit acccounts (SDAss) being freed up to the market b by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to unit investme ent trust fundss (UITFs), an iindustry officia al said. BDO Uniban nk Inc. senior vvice presidentt and BDO Privvate Bank head o of wealth advissory and trust group Rafael Ayuste said some of the S SDAs could alsso migrate to o other instruments such as time d deposits. As of end--July, the bank king sector’s SDA S funds stoo od at P1.8 trill ion. Ayuste noted that there have been a gradual g movem ment in the tru ust industry, particularly due e to the migrattion of SDAs to UITFs U and othe er financial ins struments. As of end--June, the trus st industry man nages P 2.939 9 trillion in fund ds, down from m P3.193 trillion n as of end-March. As of end--2012, there are P3.16 trillio on trust accoun nts in the coun ntry, up 12 perrcent from P2..82 trillion in 2011. “We expec ct trust funds to t go down to over P2 trillion n by the end o of the year beccause of SDAss,” Ayuste said d. By the end d of November, the next Ban ngko Sentral ng n Pilipinas (B BSP) deadline for the SDA p phase-out, he said they expec ct another P1 trillion to move e to trust funds, including exxchange trust funds (ETFs). Bulk of the e total trust ind dustry is corne ered by the cou untry’s three b biggest banks as of end-201 12. About 25.8 82 percent off the market is captured by the country’s la argest lender, BDO Unibankk Inc., with P8 816.9 billion; followed by Bank of Phillippine Islands s with 23.48 pe ercent or P712 2.87 billion; an nd 13.29 perce ent to Metropo olitan Bank & Trust Co. at P42 20.4 billion. Ayuste, wh ho is also the president of th he Trust Office ers Associatio n of the Philip ppines (TOAP)), said he is alsso confident some s of the SDA funds in th he market wou uld be channe led to the stocck market. “Despite some volatilitie es brought abo out by global scenario such a as the US shu utdown, we are e still optimistiic of the market. Seeing it hittting 8,000 will not be an imp possibility,” he e said. UITF, com mmonly describ bed by the industry as “hass sle-free,” is on ne of the well-kknown investm ment funds nowadays. Through UIT TF, a client’s money m is poole ed together witth the money of other peoplle.
Otto Energy confirms new Galoc oil find By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 18, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Australian firm Otto Energy Ltd. said drilling at the Galoc-5H well in northwest Palawan has successfully yielded oil, confirming the potential of the well. “The Galoc-5H well has successfully flowed oil to surface from the Galoc Clastic Unit (GCU) with the well flowing at a rate of 6,300 barrels per day (bopd),” Otto Energy said yesterday. The company said it successfully conducted the operations using the drilling rig Ocean Patriot. With the initial results, Otto Energy said “initial oil deliverability potential from Galoc-5H under normal field operating conditions is expected to be between 8,000 and 12,000 bopd with final operating rates to be set according to optimum facility and reservoir management constraints.” Furthermore, the company said results from the flow test are in line with the forecast overall field production rate of 12,000 bopd to be delivered once Phase II is brought in to production in late November. The forward plan now is to move to Galoc-6H, install the subsea tree and commence clean-up and flow testing, it added. The Galoc joint venture partners approved last year the Galoc Phase II development and commenced drilling last June. The consortium expects first oil in the fourth quarter of 2014. Total investment cost for the Galoc Phase II project is $188 million, of which Otto’s share is $62 million representing its 33 percent interest. The Phase II development, which has the support of the joint venture, will require the drilling of two subsea wells, tied back to the existing floating production, storage and offloading facility. Otto Energy holds a 33-percent direct ownership in the Galoc project through Galoc Production Co. Other partners are Nido Production Ltd., Oriental Petroleum & Minerals Corp., Linapacan Oil Gas & Power Corp., Philodrill Corp. and Forum Energy Philippines.
Lawmaker seeks suspension of loan payments in quake-hit areas (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 18, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Alay Buhay Party-list Rep. Weslie T. Gatchalian has filed a resolution mandating the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Social Security System, Pag-IBIG and all government financial institutions to suspend payments of loans and condonation of interests and penalties for 180 days to all victims of the earthquake that struck Visayas and parts of Mindanao. In House Resolution No. 384, Gatchalian said a payments suspension would greatly alleviate the suffering of earthquake victims – totaling around 28 million people or half a million families. Despite the declaration of a state of calamity in the affected areas, fund releases and even relief operations from government agencies and various NGOs are not adequate to address the emotional, financial and physical miseries of the victims especially the loss of lives and properties. “The suspension of loan payments for 180 days or six months would give the victims enough time to recover from the disaster and rebuild their lives. It is the inherent power of the state as the guardian of the people to intervene and protect their best interest,” Gatchalian added.
FAO names Filipina model farmer By Ronnel W. Domingo Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:18 am | Friday, October 18th, 2013
A Filipina from Camarines Sur was named this year’s “Model Farmer” along with three others from the Asia Pacific region, as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) observed World Food Day on Wednesday. The FAO’s regional office in Thailand cited Myrna Conigo Asor for her achievements in organic farming and the training she provides to fellow farmers and to agriculture students. Asor received the award as did another woman from Tonga and two men from Thailand and Bhutan. All four awardees were recognized for their contribution to agriculture and food production. This came as the Department of Agriculture (DA) on Thursday led the push for greater adoption among farmers of organic and natural farming methods as part of efforts to ensure a safe and sustainable food supply. About 2,500 people attended the opening of the 10th National Organic Agriculture Congress at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City, being held simultaneously with the 1st Philippine Natural and Organic Products Expo. According to the FAO, Asor grows some 50 varieties of organic rice and leads an association of 23 farming families in Goa town, mostly headed by women and all using organic methods. The mother of six turned to organic farming in 2002 after a nongovernment organization that promotes organic farming visited her community. From then, and with additional help from the DA and the local government, Asor learned how to make natural fertilizer, create a seed bank and apply integrated pest management. She turned to multi-cropping to make her five-hectare farm more self-sufficient. She also grows vegetables and fruits, processes other farm products into pili pulp oil fermented juices, and tends cattle, goats and fish.
Bohol, Cebu residents warned vs giant sinkholes By Jeannette I. Andrade Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:34 am | Friday, October 18th, 2013
Bohol and Cebu have sinkholes just waiting for heavy rains and floods or earthquakes to collapse and swallow entire towns. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said Thursday the 7.2magnitude earthquake was possibly caused by the movement of a fault line that remained uncharted because of the limestone base of Bohol. Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said the provinces of Bohol and Cebu, along with Baguio City, had foundations of solid limestone, which had been weathered and carved out naturally through a long period of time, making it prone to sinkholes. “[A sinkhole] is always a danger so it is important to identify where it is in an area,” Paje told the Inquirer. He said sinkholes already existed in most areas of Bohol, Cebu and Baguio City, but were still not apparent. Vacuum In a lay person’s view, he said, a sinkhole is a visible, deep depression on the ground. But in geology, “[i]t is a vacuum beneath the ground or top soil waiting for an occurrence (earthquake or heavy rain) to rupture.” Paje said he had ordered the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to expedite the geohazard mapping, specifically of sinkholes, in the provinces of Bohol and Cebu. “It is more than 50 percent complete for the two provinces. The sinkhole mapping has already been completed in Baguio City. It was previously supposed to be due by the end of 2014 but the MGB committed to finish the geohazard mapping within the first quarter of next year,” he said. Paje said, however, that the local governments of Bohol and Cebu are “very much aware” of the existing sinkholes. Solid limestone Asked how much of Cebu and Bohol was made of limestone, Paje said the two provinces were almost entirely of solid limestone. “Bohol’s base is limestone and coral,” he said. Paje cited some areas of Chocolate Hills in Bohol, the topsoil of which had collapsed.
“The white that appeared is solid limestone. If you would look closely, what was shed off was the topsoil and grass,” he said. Citing MGB records, Paje said the Chocolate Hills were formed 15 million years ago under water. The movement of water against coral and limestone shaped Chocolate Hills, he said. The MGB, Paje added, is verifying the report of a sinkhole somewhere in Cebu that ruptured following Tuesday’s earthquake. According to the US Geological Survey website, “[s]inkholes are common where the rock below the land surface is limestone, carbonate rock, salt beds, or rocks that can naturally be dissolved by groundwater circulating through them. As the rock dissolves, spaces and caverns develop underground.” Uncharted fault line Meanwhile, Phivolcs science research assistant Karl Vincent Soriano said the movement of the East Bohol fault may not have actually caused the powerful quake that jolted vast areas of the Visayas as well as portions of Southern Luzon and Mindanao on Tuesday. “Based on our records of aftershocks, the movement of a different and unmapped fault system possibly triggered the 7.2-magnitude earthquake,” he said, adding that the fault system is somewhere between the towns of Sagbayan and Catigbian in Bohol. “Our initial report that it was likely triggered by the East Bohol fault was based on our map of active faults. This fault system is not yet charted,” Soriano said, adding that limestone areas are extremely difficult for geologists to map. He explained that limestone is easily weathered so geologists find it difficult to trace previous signs of ground movement that have been “erased.” Verification Soriano said one of the two Phivolcs teams deployed to Bohol had been tasked to verify the existence of the uncharted fault line, apart from making a hazard assessment in the province. As of noon Thursday, Phivolcs has recorded 1,328 aftershocks, 27 of which were felt. The strongest was 5.5 magnitude, which occurred at around 7:37 a.m. on Thursday. The tremor had a depth of focus of a kilometer and had its epicenter at 18 kilometers northwest of Tagbilaran City. An Intensity VI tremor was felt in Tagbilaran City; Intensity IV in Dumaguete City and Lapu-Lapu City as well as in Sibulan town in Negros Oriental province.
An Intensity II tremor was felt in Maasin, Southern Leyte province, and Mambajao, Camiguin province. Quake power Phivolcs describes an Intensity VI quake to be very strong where some people lose their balance and motorists feel like driving on flat tires. An Intensity VI quake can move heavy objects or furniture and can cause cracks on wall plaster, Phivolcs said. It can also cause slight damage to very old or poorly built houses and structures and trees are noticeably shaking. Magnitude is the measurement of the energy released at the source of the earthquake while intensity quantifies the strength of shaking produced by the temblor.
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Bring out your sweaters, colder days ahead By Jeannette I. Andrade Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:31 am | Friday, October 18th, 2013
Brace for colder days and nights as the hangin amihan (the cool northeast wind, known as the northeast monsoon) prevails over the country. Temperatures could start dropping as low as 15 degrees Celsius in Baguio City and 22 degrees Celsius in other parts of Luzon, said the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa). The weather bureau said high-pressure areas over China have shifted the wind direction over Luzon, from the habagat (southwest wind or southwest monsoon) to the amihan, “bringing cold and dry air over the northern part of the country.” The main indicator of the switch in seasonal pattern from the habagat or southwest monsoon season (characterized by hot and humid weather, frequent heavy rainfall and a prevailing wind from the west) to the amihan or northeast monsoon is the “the lowering of the minimum temperature observed over the extreme Northern Luzon.” Pagasa said this signifies the start of the northeast monsoon season, characterized by moderate temperatures, little or no rainfall, and a prevailing wind from the east. It said colder early morning temperatures are to be expected in the coming days and months over Luzon, with the chance of light rain over the northern and eastern sections. Weather conditions over the rest of the country will be generally fair apart from isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms in the afternoon or evening, Pagasa said. Meanwhile, forecaster Jun Galang said a tropical cyclone could enter the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) by Monday but which could be expected to follow the track of Typhoon “Tino,” which passed through the PAR without much effect on the country. Galang said Tropical Storm “Francisco” is hovering somewhere in the far east of the country over the Pacific Ocean, in the area of the Marianas Islands. Francisco has maximum sustained winds of 130 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to P150 kilometers per hour. It is moving northwest slowly.
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Iloco os Nortte bans s black k sand mining g Philippine Daily D Inquirer 9:53 pm | Thursday, T Octob ber 17th, 2013
THE MIN NERAL rich town t of Cara asi, Ilocos Norte, is host to an iron-o ore mining an nd processin ng facility. LEILANIE L AD DRIANO/INQ QUIRER NORTHERN LU UZON LAOAG CITY—The C provincial bo oard of Iloco os Norte on W Wednesday approved a resolution banning black sand mining m in the e province. d the recall of o permits is ssued by govvernment ag gencies and voided The boarrd also urged endorsem ments by loc cal governme ents to minin ng applicantts. Board Me ember Joel Garcia, the resolution r sp ponsor, said d Ilocos Norte d e should ban black sand mining and learn from m the experiiences of the e neighborin ng provincess of Cagayan n and Ilocos Sur, where residents, env vironment ad dvocates and d church-bassed organizations had ccomplained about wa ater contamination and damage d to th he marine eccosystem fro om black sand extraction n. “Mining, in whatever form, has an impact on the environ ment,” said Board Member Vicentito o Lazo. n, however, is silent abou ut other type es of small- a and large-sccale mining The boarrd resolution activities which are th he province’’s biggest loc cal revenue earners.
Next to ecotourism, mining ranks second among five preferred investment areas of Ilocos Norte, as advertised in the Mines and Geosciences Bureau website. There are 158 applications for onshore and offshore magnetite mining in the Ilocos region, according to the website. Eighty six of these applications cover Ilocos Norte towns and cities: Badoc (6), Pinili (3), Paoay (3), Laoag (3), Currimao (4), Bacarra (3), Pasuquin (13), Burgos (4), Bangui (1), Pagudpud (2), Batac (1), Banna (5), Nueva Era (7), Marcos (6), Solsona (3), Carasi (5), Dingras (5), Vintar (6), Adams (2), Piddig (3) and Dumalneg (1). Romeo Angay, acting Ilocos Norte provincial environment and natural resources officer, said the agency has approved two mining applications for iron ore that cover the towns of Nueva Era and Carasi. Ilocos Norteâ€™s environmental sector has condemned all forms of mining in the province and has pushed for alternative industries to boost its economy without sacrificing its natural resources. Black sand miningâ€™s main market is said to be China with Chinese firms being behind the operations of black sand mines in parts of Cagayan and the Ilocos regions. Leilanie Adriano, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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Iloilo, Capiz farmers protest pork, demand farm funds Bill filed setting aside P25B in initial funds for microcredit lending to tillers hurt by calamities
By Nestor P. Burgos Jr. Inquirer Visayas 9:49 pm | Thursday, October 17th, 2013
ILOILO CITY—Decrying wanton greed amid grinding poverty and a crisis in the rice industry, hundreds of farmers in Iloilo and Capiz joined protest actions on Wednesday demanding the abolition of all forms of pork barrel and use of funds for agriculture and support for farmers. In Iloilo City, at least 400 protesters marched from Bonifacio Drive to the main streets where mini programs were held in stopovers. The farmers traveled from the towns of Tubungan, Leon, Janiuay, Maasin and Dumanggas to protest the dismal conditions of tillers. “We are suffering from high prices of farm inputs and low price of our produce while a few corrupt officials and their cohorts are enjoying billions of pesos in stolen public funds,” said Cris Chavez, secretary general of the Association of Farmers in Panay and Guimaras. Chavez said production of rice, the country’s staple food, continues to decline because most farmers do not have their own land to till, lack government support and services, and are saddled with amortization debts. In Roxas City in Capiz, at least 150 protesters, mostly farmers and fishermen led by the Kahublagan sang Mangunguma sa Capiz (Kamaca) and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan marched on main streets of the city before holding a picket in front of City Hall. They also demanded the abolition of pork barrel and the prosecution of those involved in irregularities in the use of the funds. In Congress, a partylist group representing the agriculture sector made a pitch for a bill that would provide “long-term government spending on the agriculture sector to mitigate the effects of climate change.” In a statement on Wednesday, Rep. Delphine Gan Lee (Agri or Agra Reporma Para sa Magsasaka ng Pilipinas) said aside from implementing the Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP), the government must work on “programs that provide farmers and fishermen access to microcredit facilities.” “Subsistence farmers are often without any access to additional funding. They fall prey to loan sharks,” said Gan Lee in the statement.
Explaining her bill, the “Agriculture Micro-Credit Act of 2013,” Gan Lee said that the government is “better off investing its financial resources in microcredit if it wants to reduce poverty in rural areas and ensure higher productivity.” “Microcredit is regarded as an innovative financial intermediation scheme aimed at reducing poverty especially in the rural areas,” she said. Gan Lee’s bill seeks to extend microcredit services to farmers and fishermen through the Land Bank of the Philippines and other facilities. The bill seeks an initial funding of P25 billion for microcredit for farmers nationwide. These small loans, she said, could be used to buy work animals, farm equipment, seeds, fertilizers and other farm implements. “The FSSP already provides the direction our country should be taking in terms of food security,” said Gan Lee. Initial estimates pegged damages caused by Typhoon “Santi” at P2.9 billion on rice production. The figures add to a 1.4 million metric ton shortfall in rice production projected by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) in September. Both the Neda and the FSSP recommend importation to be the “primary role of the private sector,” with government funds better allocated for irrigation to improve rice production, lower prices and increase farm incomes. In April 2013 alone, the government spent more than P4 billion to import 205,700 MT of rice from Vietnam.
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PhilH Health ailing but b exe ecs ha appy w with bon nuses By Cynthiaa D. Balana, Krristine Felisse Mangunay M Philippine Daily D Inquirer 2:52 am | Thursday, T Octob ber 17th, 2013
After exxecutives of tthe Social S Security Systtem (SSS) g gave themse elves a fat P1 1 million bon nus each, m managers of the Philippin ne Health Insurancce Corp., orr PhilHealth, cannot be ffar behind. nchos of PhilHealth are Not onlyy the top hon going to o get gifted in n a P1.5-billion bonanza a, but also its employees, in spite of fiindings by th he dit (COA) tha at the state Commisssion on Aud health in nsurance firm m hasn’t bee en performin ng exactly w well. The COA A has also sa aid the SSS had not bee en a paragon but the president of the sstate n of virtue, b pension system s for th he private se ector, Emilio o S. de Quiro os, went ahe ead anyway with the bonuses for its board d, while at th he same time e announcin ng an increasse in pension premiumss, just like PhilH Health. At least 19 1 other gov vernment-ow wned and -co ontrolled corrporations (G GOCCs) havve likewise b been authorize ed to grant th hemselves bonuses. b “We have en’t received d our perform mance-base ed bonuses,”” said Israel Francis Parg gas, PhilHea alth vice pres sident, at the e weekly Ferrnandina foru um in San J uan City. He said PhilHealth P was w still waiting for the ap pproval of th he Governan nce Commisssion for GOCC for this. s the incentives and allowances, a which w includ ded operating expenses and board Pargas said meetings s, among oth hers, were not given to some s officialls “only” but also to the 5 5,600-strong g employee es of PhilHe ealth. Like the SSS, S PhilHe ealth also is raising prem mium rates n next year. In its aud dit report for 2012, the COA C said PhilHealth sincce 2007 had failed to reimburse P25 50.15 d who had rrequired med million worth of claim ms by membe ers who had d fallen ill and dical treatme ent. ort, released on Oct. 10, said the hea alth agency also had no ot exerted effforts to solve e the The repo problem of unclaimed d checks reffunds accum mulation. nclaimed refu unds dated 2007 2 were “s still in the prrocess of validation” eve en for basic Some un details lik ke name of the t claimant, confinement dates, am mount reimbu ursed and to o be refunde ed.
The COA said PhilHealth cited the “lack of manpower and computers used exclusively for unclaimed refunds” as one of the reasons for the failure to deliver them to beneficiaries. In fact, the rate of unclaimed benefits has worsened in the last five years. The unclaimed checks totaled P5.14 million in 2007, P93.009 million in 2008, P128.65 million in 2009, P161.21 million in 2010 and P223.46 million in 2011. PhilHealth’s system of tracing intended beneficiaries has gotten so bad that last year, only P109.916 was refunded to members, accounting for a pitiful 0.17 percent, the COA said. Also, a total of 22,121 paid checks are going stale and had not been reverted to PhilHealth’s account by yearend contrary to PhilHealth Office Order No. 0086 (2012), which mandates the return of outstanding checks after six months. This, the COA said, resulted in an understatement of its available cash by P98.11 million. The COA earlier criticized the PhilHealth management for paying its officials and employees P1.45 billion in various bonuses and allowances in 2012 and P1.245 billion in 2011 despite repeated warnings that these had no legal basis. In an audit report on the SSS released earlier this month, the COA also aired serious concerns about the slow processing of payments of death, disability and retirement claims of its members. But the pension agency nevertheless rewarded its top executives, just like the PhilHealth will, soon enough.
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Where are we today? By Jose Ma. Montelibano Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:54 am | Friday, October 18th, 2013
In the turbulence of a politics upset by whistleblowers, of a country beset by typhoons and earthquakes, truth is both an objective and a victim. After all, it is not truth that is on trial, but Filipinos who have to get at the truth now muddled by the agenda of those afraid for the truth to surface. It is not only our honesty and integrity that is being tested, but also our intelligence to know truth from lie. When the first, and key, whistleblower was rescued by the NBI and started to talk, he must have known that telling the sordid story of greed and plunder was his only way to save himself. He was a major player in the web of corruption that included senators and congressmen, Cabinet members and heads of agencies, COA auditors and DBM officers. Only from the inside, and only from high up inside, could a truckload of details be available. The stories then grow, like multi-level marketing, because the personalities are connected to other personalities. The stories also grow because the more aggressive, and expert, media outlets and personalities go out to get more of the truth exposed. At this time, one can really say that the current issues involving the 10-billion scam, the PDAF and DAP, the Malampaya Fund, and the pork barrel have a life of their own. There are various agenda at work aside from possibly the only pure one – that which was accidental or providential. There are those who definitely want to confuse the public because their own necks are at stake. They are those individuals whom the truckload of evidence will most probably convict. There are those who know that the evidence will soon point to them because they know what they did, what they received in return for what they did. Their necks will soon be on the line, too. What few realize is that a macro view will point to three former presidents and/or members of their families are intimately involved with the most pressing issues – the 10-billion scam and diverted PDAF. Marcos, Estrada and Arroyo – the first two already named by Transparency International’s 2007 list of the World’s Most Corrupt Leaders as Number 2 and Number 10 respectively, and Gloria Arroyo with a good chance to overtake both. If we are to go by the estimates of their stolen wealth, we are talking about tens of billions of dollars. With tens of billions of dollars to protect, then there are billions of dollars that can be spent to turn the issues towards other directions, towards other personalities. Some of that money is already feeding mercenaries in both traditional and social media. And because they had a clear objective, because they have clear targets, the consistency of the confusion they sow and the attacks they manufacture will surely influence the emotions to go against objectivity, to convince many about guilt where there is none. Of all, it is P-Npy who is most responsible for making all these initiatives for truth and transparency become possible. Ironic but understandable that he is also the main target of information assassination. Beyond that, his security group also realizes he is the main target of physical assassination as well. If not for P-Noy, if not for a President who wanted to ferret out the truth from Day One of his administration, does anyone really believe that the current controversy of all kinds of revelations about the 10-billion
scam, the PDAF, the Malampaya Fund, and the pork barrel could have found an open environment and encouragement? Remember, P-Noy wanted the Truth Commission from the beginning. Had the Supreme Court of Rene Corona not disallowed it, the Napoles controversy and many more could have been triggered much earlier. But the very reason why P-Noy believed that Corona should not lead the Supreme Court was because Corona was a midnight appointment forced on the people by an outgoing president who knew she would face prosecution. Rene Corona was impeached by the House, convicted by the Senate, but not yet punished by the Republic. Even he has reason to fear from a wave of transparency and exposure. I saw a newspaper item that said corruption lingers in the P-Noy administration. Linger – ha! It remains embedded because it was that deep and could have gone deeper without P-Noy. What has developed to be a political sub-culture for decades cannot be erased in three years, especially when P-Noy has political allies who themselves may be tainted as well. However, we have a democracy that asks for the Executive to relate with the Legislature and the Judiciary, if possible with cooperation and harmony. I agree with some who think that corruption can be weeded out forcibly, suddenly, through a determined dictatorship. I wonder if this is what people want. His ratings may have lowered a little, but he still enjoys a 68% approval, making him the most likely choice of a one-man rule should that be the people’s preference. I would love to see this happen, and I feel confident that many thieves will be hauled to prison. But I know, too, the impossibility of this speculation because P-Noy himself would not play along. He does not even want an extended term unlike three presidents before him. If we choose democracy, then we accept the ways of democracy. There will be many allegations and accusations but only the law can convict and punish. Meanwhile, we might as well console ourselves that the PDAF, if the 2014 amount had been approved, is only 1.1% of the national budget. Also, not all, not even the majority of the PDAF, had been stolen through ghost projects. We can also console ourselves that the DAP comes from savings of operating agencies, and that is an accomplishment. More so, these savings are converted to become new projects and programs, pumppriming an economy and giving benefits to the people – as long as the funds were not stolen. And the Malampaya Fund is continuously replenished by oil and gas from the sea. Most important of all, we the people have begun to believe that corruption can be defeated – by our being vigilant, by our pressuring our officials, by our being intolerant to wrongdoing. In the end, we have the final say.
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Fast-food chains in PH asked to start offering brown rice By Tina Arceo-Dumlao Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:18 am | Friday, October 18th, 2013
Oxfam Philippines has called on the largest fast-food chains in the country to consider including brown rice on their menu to contribute to the nationwide campaign to increase consumption of the staple. Oxfam country director Justin Morgan told the Inquirer in an interview on Wednesday that if Jollibee Foods Corp., McDonalds Philippines and other restaurants and eateries would give their customers the option to buy brown or unpolished rice, then demand would increase, which would allow production to hit commercial scale. “For me, brown rice is much better for our health and as citizens, we should want brown rice. But we understand that brown rice is not produced in an economical way. As leaders in the industry, Jollibee and McDonalds can give people better access to brown rice,” said Morgan. Morgan said the fast-food chains could just offer brown rice as an option, even if it would be sold at a higher price compared to white rice. Demand will eventually increase, he said, as more Filipinos become more health-conscious. Oxfam and partner Dakila-Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism, a non-government organization composed of artists, are pushing for the increased consumption of brown rice under the Brown Rice: The Good Food Campaign, not only because it is healthier than white rice due to its higher fiber content but also because increased consumption can help in efforts to increase rice self-sufficiency. According to Oxfam Program Coordinator Marie Nunez, unpolished rice variants have a 10percent higher milling recovery compared to white rice, giving more yield and consequently income to the farmers. “The additional 10 percent in rice volume would translate to 1.58 million metric tons of additional rough rice. This is because brown rice demands only one milling compared to two or more milling processes needed to produce polished white rice. Reducing rice wastage will therefore help increase the country’s overall production volume, which could mean less rice importation and making the country more rice self-sufficient,” said Nunez in a statement. Dakila vice president Noel Cabangon added: “With our current situation, consuming brown rice is ideal because it gives you nutrients that you need. If only brown rice becomes accessible to all by increasing the volume of its production and keeping its price competitive, then this will help address the problem of food security in the country.”
Based on data from the Department of Agriculture, if all Filipinos will eat brown rice for three meals in a month, or 36 meals a year, the country’s rice importation will shrink by an average of 500,000 metric tons a year, which is equivalent to savings of P812.81 million a year. Oxfam and Dakila marked World Food Day on Oct. 16 with the launch of Brown Rice: The Good Food Planner that contains recipes prepared by celebrity and chef advocates advocating the increased use of brown rice http://business.inquirer.net/147957/fast‐food‐chains‐in‐ph‐asked‐to‐start‐offering‐brown‐rice
Farm groups join forces vs pork misuse By Christine F. Herrera | Posted 7 hours ago | 52 views THE 30-million strong agriculture stakeholders on Thursday expressed their collective disgust and protested the lawmakers’ use and abuse of their pork barrel as well as fertilizer, Malampaya and Development Assistance Program funds. The stakeholders led by hog raisers, poultry growers, rice millers and farmers demanded that the government prosecute all those involved in abusing their sector to plunder the national coffers. The second agricultural summit held at the Club Filipino resulted in the formation of an alliance called SINAG – Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultra, comprising more than 30 groups of national federations of rice, corn and vegetable farmers and traders, pork, livestock and poultry producers, aquaventure groups and fertilizer and pesticide suppliers from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. “We express our collective disgust over unabated smuggling, unfavorable policies, and plunder of government funds in the name of farmers, local agricultural producers and allied industries. We formed an alliance to fight for survival and the rights of farm workers,” SINAG said in a manifesto. “SINAG grew out of our collective anger at these developments. These collective anger brought us together, moved us in one direction, to our collective call, to our collective efforts,” explained Abono chairman and director of the Swine Development Council Rosendo So. “Billions of pesos that could have been used to increase farm productivity, build new irrigation systems, farm-to-market roads, post-harvest equipment and facilities like slaughter houses and cold storage warehouses, marketing infrastructure, retraining and extension services and other forms of public sector assistance, were instead pocketed by politicians of all shades and color in cahoots with erring public officials,” SINAG said. So said the underdevelopment of the local agricultural sector has long been used as a “convenient pretext to misappropriate and steal government funds” by erring lawmakers and officials.
The summit also demanded that the government change its “flawed agricultural and economic policies” to end smuggling and ensure food security. “We call on the government to set the right policy directions and work with the private sector to ensure food security; sustainable local production; safe food and properly labeled agricultural produce; improved productivity and incomes; and rural livelihood,” the group said. “This is our core difference with smugglers and dubious traders and importers who continue to flood our local market with agricultural wastes,” they said. “This is also the core of our anger against those that misuse the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), as with the Malampaya, ACEF and Fertilizer fund scam,” the group said. So said the group also demanded a stop to the “wanton granting of unwarranted benefits to foreign food conglomerates such as the Charoen Pokphand that they say cripple the country’s agricultural industry. They also demanded that the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund amounting to P10 billion be converted into a grant for common service facilities such as post-harvest facilities, dryers, warehouses, silos, cold storage facilities, slaughterhouses, among others. Former Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco was among those who invited as speaker at the Club Filipino summit. Apart from Abono, the national federations that formed the new alliance were AGAP Party-List, Agham Party-List, Bayan Muna Party-List, Agri-Business Action Initiatives, Alliance of Grains Industry Stakeholders, Arya Progresibo Baguio – NL, Arya Progresibo –Bulacan, Association of Fertilizers and Pesticide Distributors, Dealers and Outlets of Pangasinan, Association of Philippine Aqua Feed Millers Inc., Crop Protection Association of the Philippines, Fair Trade Alliance, Federation of Philippine Industries Inc. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/18/farm-groups-join-forces-vs-pork-misuse/
Taiwan donates P4.3m to W. Visayas By Eric B. Apolonio | Posted 8 hours ago | 76 views
Taiwan donated P4.3 million to help families affected by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that devastated last Tuesday large areas in the provinces of Cebu and Bohol, officials said on Thursday. The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO), Taiwan’s representative office in the Philippines, said the donation was intended to support the post-disaster relief efforts and rehabilitation in the affected areas. “It is a gesture of goodwill and concern,” TECO said in a statement. Taiwan was the first country to pledge humanitarian support in the aftermath of the earthquake, one of the strongest to hit the country in many years. Taiwan is close to the Philippines by proximity. TECO has coordinated efforts by local Taiwanese communities in providing relief to the damage areas. Local Taiwanese charitable groups such as the Tzu Chi Foundation has been in touch with local government officials to facilitate help to affected families. More than three million people have been affected by the earthquake, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/18/taiwan‐donates‐p4‐3m‐to‐w‐visayas/
SC creates panel to probe casefixing allegations By Rey E. Requejo | Posted 8 hours ago | 219 views The Supreme Court officially ordered an investigation into claims that a certain Arlene was involved in fixing cases pending in various courts in the country and formed a three-man committee to probe the allegations. The SC designated its most junior magistrate, Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, to head the committee that will also include two retired justices of the high tribunal who have not yet been identified. SC spokesman Theodore Te said the high court directed the committee to consolidate all existing parallel investigations on the matter “in order to avoid confusion and conflicting results and duplication of efforts.” The office of Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez, Court of Appeals and the Department of Justice have initiated separate investigations on the reports. “These fact-finding investigations will proceed. The SC committee will just be the umbrella that will consolidate the findings,” Te announced, adding that the court also directed the DOJ and the National Bureau of Investigation to “submit its findings” to the committee. According to Te, the Leonen committee will meet today with the NBI team that was formed by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to investigate the alleged influence peddling in the judiciary at the request of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno. Sereno asked the NBI to determine facts on two matters: possible violation of applicable criminal laws in the recently-concluded election of the Philippine Judges’ Association by any or all of the presidential candi-dates and the identity of private persons who appear to have unlawfully influenced members of the judiciary in the outcome of specific cases. According to the SC spokesman, the high court’s action on the matter was an affirmation of the chief justice’s earlier move and was not really the first time the high court created a fact-finding committee to investi-gate controversies in the appellate and lower courts.
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima inhibit herself from supervising the NBI probe on the Ma’am Arlene controversy and ordered NBI officer-in-charge Medardo De Lemos to head the investigation. De Lima offered protection to possible witnesses and whistle blowers against Arlene and corrupt members of the judiciary. She said the department has the resources under its witness protection program for this pur-pose. The OCA has already discreetly initiated an investigation into the controversy since early last month. It traced the charges to a supposed “smear campaign” in the recently concluded elections of officers in the Philip-pine Judges Association. Quezon City regional trial court Judge Ralph Lee won the PJA presidency over Makati City RTC Judge Rommel Baybay and Marikina City RTC Judge Felix Reyes. The three judges were ordered to comment on the issue. The OCA had discovered three Arlenes in the judiciary who are allegedly known fixers in courts, but Marquez refused to name them aside from saying they include a clerk from the Court of Appeals, a former em-ployee at the Manila regional trial court and a Manila City Hall employee. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/18/sc-creates-panel-to-probe-case-fixingallegations/
US govt reopens, Obama signs bill ending impassé By AFP | Posted 8 hours ago | 97 views Washington — President Barack Obama signed early Thursday a bill ending the two-week US government shutdown and extending the Treasury’s borrowing authority. The White House announcement was the final piece in an agonizing political drama that had raised the prospect of an unprecedented US debt default and rattled markets around the world. Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell said in a separate statement that the government will try to get back to full operating status as smoothly as possible. “This has been a particularly challenging time for Federal employees and I want to thank our Nation’s dedicated civil servants for their continued commitment to serving the American people,” she wrote. Most employees furloughed for the past two weeks are expected back to work Thursday, Burwell said in a directive to federal agencies. Obama earlier sought to heal the wounds of a debt ceiling and government shutdown showdown, and warned Washington that it must stop governing by crisis. Obama said US leaders needed to “earn back” the trust of the American people, in a short statement after the Senate voted to back a compromise deal and before the House of Representatives was expected to do likewise. “We’ll begin reopening our government immediately. And we can begin to lift this cloud of uncertainty and unease from our businesses and from the American people,” Obama said. Obama called on Democrats and Republicans to come together to advance the interests of the people of the United States, not just their own political careers. “I’m eager to work with anybody, Democrat or Republican, House or Senate members on any idea that will grow the economy, create new jobs, strengthen the middle class and get the fiscal house in order for the long term.”
Obama called on his political foes to work with him to pass comprehensive immigration reform, now stalled in the House, a farm bill and to agree on a budget that would save America’s longterm fiscal future. “We’ve got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis,” Obama said in the statement in the White House press briefing room. “My hope and expectation is everybody has learned that there is no reason why we can’t work on the issues at hand, why we can’t disagree between the parties while still being agreeable and make sure that we’re not inflicting harm on the American people when we do have disagreements.” The U.S. Congress voted to halt the 16-day government shutdown and raise the U.S. debt limit, ending the nation’s fiscal impasse. The House of Representatives voted 285-144 to clear a measure that now heads to President Barack Obama for his signature. House Republicans split, with 87 in favor and 144 opposed. All 198 Democrats who were present voted yes. The House vote came less than three hours after the Senate passed the bill, 81-18. Congress acted the day before U.S. borrowing authority was scheduled to lapse as lawmakers engaged in their fourth round of fiscal brinkmanship in less than three years. The agreement will put federal workers back on the job, prevent a potential default on U.S. debt and make no major policy changes sought by Republicans. Lawmakers didn’t resolve their longterm divides on fiscal policy and will have to return to the same issues over the next four months. The four-week fiscal standoff began with Republicans demanding defunding of Obama’s 2010 health-care law and objecting to raising the debt limit and financing the government without policy conditions. “We fought the good fight,” House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, said today on Cincinnati’s WLW, a radio station in his home state of Ohio. “We just didn’t win.” The agreement negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will fund the government at Republican-backed spending levels through Jan. 15, 2014, and suspend the debt limit through Feb. 7, setting up another round of confrontations then.
All of the votes against the proposal in the Senate were from Republicans. One senator, Republican James Inhofe of Oklahoma, was absent. The Senate accord was unveiled a day after Fitch Ratings put the U.S. AAA credit grade on ratings watch negative, citing the government’s inability to raise the debt ceiling in a timely manner, according to a state-ment after markets in New York closed yesterday. Stocks Rallied U.S. stocks rallied, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index toward a record. The benchmark index rose 1.4 percent to 1,721.47 at 4 p.m. in New York after sliding 0.7 percent yesterday. S&P 500 Index futures added 0.1 percent after the gauge closed within 0.3 percent of a record in New York. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.7 percent, heading for the highest close in five months. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures were little changed after the gauge closed within 0.3 percent of a record in New York. The Bloomberg U.S. Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against 10 major peers, weakened 0.1 percent. The yield on 10-year Treasuries dropped one basis point to 2.65 percent. The partial shutdown closed national parks, slowed clinical drug trials and led to the furlough of thousands of federal workers. The Senate plan will provide back pay for furloughed workers. $24 Billion The shutdown took at least $24 billion out of the U.S. economy, S&P said in a report today. “I do not come here to pin a rose on this legislation,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader. “It does have my support as a means to an end.” The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the country’s largest business group, supported the agreement, along with the Business Roundtable, an association of large-company chief executives. Several small-government groups, including the Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America, urged lawmakers to vote against the accord. “After two long weeks, it’s time to end the government shutdown,” said Representative Hal Rogers, a Kentucky Republican and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. “It’s time to take the threat of de-fault off the table. It’s time to restore some sanity to this place. To do this, we’ve all got to give a little.” With Bloomberg http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/18/us-govt-reopens-obama-signs-bill-endingimpasse/
Rift among President’s men widens over pork By Christine F. Herrera | Posted 8 hours ago | 1,278 views
The pork barrel scam is widening the rift between the allies of President Benigno Aquino III and the opposition in the Senate, sources told Manila Standard Thursday. The closed-door all-member caucus on Wednesday led to a heated argument between two senators and drew another one in, but most chose to stay out of the quarrel, sources privy to the confrontation revealed. The immediate issue was parliamentary courtesy, but observers said public pressure was taking its toll on the Senate after three of its members were accused of plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman. Senate sources said Senator Jinggoy Estrada, one of the three accused, was in a foul mood after dressing down Commission on Audit chairman Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan, for what he said was a biased audit. Tan had earlier called on the lawmakers who faced plunder charges to return the P6 billion in allocations that she said were released to fake non-government organizations owned by the suspected mastermind of the pork barrel scam, Janet Lim Napoles. After the caucus, sources said Estrada turned his ire on Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano for allegedly maligning him before the media and at the nationally televised Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hear-ings. “I do not like at all your insinuation that I am the one being tagged as ‘sexy’,” Estrada said. While the Guingona panel had already agreed that the whistleblowers would not be naming names, Cayetano kept pursuing the issue, and mocked Estrada as “He who must not be named,” an allusion to the arch-villain in the Harry Potter books. Radio dzBB said another confrontation broke out between Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Francis Escudero. Trillanes reportedly demanded an explanation from Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on finance, about the release of the six names of senators who allegedly got an extra P100 million each from the De-velopment Assistance Fund on top of their regular P200 million annual allocation on Priority Development Assistance Fund, also officially known as pork barrel.
“Why did you only name six of us? You said it was DAP, but I didn’t know it was from DAP,” Trillanes told Escudero. Not content with the answers from Escudero, Trillanes took Cayetano’s side against Estrada. Addressing Estrada, Trillanes said, “Ikaw nga, tinawag mo akong gago sa media. Sana sa privilege speech mo na lang para nasagot ko nang maayos. (You called me stupid in the media. You should have said that in a privilege speech so I could reply.)” Estrada simply dismissed Trillananes, saying: “I don’t know what you’re talking about. When was that?” Trillanes did not reply. Cayetano cut off the confrontation between Estrada and Trillanes and asserted that he did not know who the whistleblowers referred to as “sexy.” In a previous hearing, whistleblower Benhur Luy testified that he and other staff of Napoles referred to one of the senators as “sexy” because he was really huge before trimming down. Estrada was known as having undergone a bariatic operation to lose weight. So as not to be dragged in the confrontation, the majority of the senators left the caucus one by one. Neither Senate President Franklin Drilon nor Senate Minority Leader Enrile interceded to end the confrontation. Estrada and Cayetano got tired of it and simply stopped talking and left the lounge, sources said. “That’s all folks. That’s your senators, who are supposed to be statesmen,” one of sources who witnessed the caucus told the Manila Standard. Senator Juan Edgardo Angara confirmed there was a disagreement but said “there was no shouting.” “There were just those who expressed their feelings on how the (pork barrel) investigation is being conducted,” said Angara. He referred to the exchanges as “open discussions.” “It’s better if you just ask the parties involved,” he added. – With Macon Ramos-Araneta
Damages in WV reported By Manila Standard Today | Posted 8 hours ago | 29 views
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has reported heavy damage to several roads and bridges in Central Visayas as a result of last Tuesday’s 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit the area, officials said on Thursday. DPWH Regional Director Ador Canlas said at least four major roads were impassable in Bohol, which he identified as Cortes-Balilihan-Catigbian-Macaas Road; Tagbilaran East Road Laya Caclayon; Tagbilaran North Road; and Loay Interior Road. He said at least 14 bridges had collapsed: Abatan , Camayaan, Tultogan, Tagbuane, Moalong, Hunan, Taguitim, Damiao, Daet, Palo, Hinawanan, Bonkokan, Banban, and Panagatan, “Only two bridges remained passable. They are Suarez Bridge along Dawis Panglao Road and Salog Bridge along the Tagbilaran North Road,” Canlas said in his report DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson. Canlas said the Panagatan River Control, a flood control structure along the Tagvilaran East Road was totally damaged. In Cebu City, cracks were reported in the Carcar-Barili Road and the SibongaDumanjug Road but the two highways were passable to vehicular traffic after clearing operations by the DPWH, officials said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/18/damages‐in‐wv‐reported/
A wors w e calamiity By Franc cisco S. Tattad | Posted d 8 hours ag go | 1,035 viiews The latest natural n calam mity to hit the ccountry—a killler earthquakke that left (att press time)) nearly a couple of hundre eds dead, an equal numbe er injured, and d some three e million displa aced in Boho l and Cebu— —has prompted some to wo onder what is it in n the stars tha at causes so much misforttune to strike us under an Aquino ad dministration. Storms, flood ds, earthquak kes, drought, maritime acc idents, rebellion, massacre es, and lawless violence have been ourr common lot under Cory a and her son P PNoy. We know these occurre ences are beyond human control. But iff nature’s furyy is one way b by which the Creator co ommunicates s to his creatu ures, the fierce est critics are e inclined to b elieve these ccalamities are e the “wages off sin” not nece essarily of the e common citizens but rath her of those w who are taske ed to take care e of the nation n. This takes us u to the realm m of the arcane, where I ccan say nothin ng that might help anyone at all. But I can report what others o are say ying. Some would w like to re ecall the epissode in biblica al times when Yahweh sends s to Egyp pt a total of ten plagues to compel the P Pharaoh to se et the Israelite es free. Otherss would like e to recall the earlier episod de when Abra aham tries to bargain with Yahweh not tto destroy the e city of Sodom if he finds at least ten inno ocent people there. Now, are corruption an nd bribery in th he Aquino go overnment an nd the Preside ent’s efforts to o finesse and d justify them, equal to any of the sins s of the Phara aoh or of Sodo om? Are there at least ten n innocent members of the Cabin net and Congrress because e of whom the ese institutions should be sspared from destructio on? As more and a more deta ails of corrupttion are revea aled, we are p presented witth an incredib ble picture nott many of us u ever imagin ned possible under the reg gime that self--righteously a and sanctimon niously procla aimed itself as th he very antithesis of corrup ption. We hav ve seen corru ption in variou us forms and sizes before, but not this kind of corruptiion, where its s perpetrators seem to belie eve they coulld enjoy comp plete impunityy forever. It is the absolu ute perversion n of what the nation has be een led to believe from the e very beginning. In 2010, not n even Aquino’s presiden ntial rivals had d the courage e to question the pietistic p protestations o of his “daang matuwid” (straight and narro ow path) durin ng the shallow w presidentiall debates. They never even saw that corruption c was already ma anifesting itsellf in its most n naked form th hrough the sta ark manipulattion of the electo oral process, which w disman ntled all the sa afety featuress and transparency mechanisms of the precinct count c optical scan s (PCOS) machines. Th hey failed to g guard againstt the theft of tthe highest offfice, which made the plunde er of the treas sury a fait acc compli and su uperfluous. Th hey were all n naïve enough to
believe that Aquino’s five-million vote plurality was a legitimate and incontestable margin, so they tried to fall over one another in conceding his “victory.” Under the veil of Aquino’s “kung walang corrupt walang mahirap,” corruption became the biggest elephant in the room. The administration never tried to abolish it; it merely used all the instruments of propaganda to denounce its previous practitioners while enlarging upon their old practice. Not all the facts have been revealed, but from the limited data that has been unearthed so far, it appears that the colossal greed that consumed the likes of Bernard Madoff and others on Wall Street was not less virulent among Aquino’s elect. Budget Secretary Butch Abad is the first witness on the billions released from the socalled “Disbursement Acceleration Program”, and Emilio de Quiros of the Social Security System on the fat bonuses from the government corporations. Where Marcos could claim to have built more roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, ports and airports than all his predecessors combined, Aquino could probably say he has converted and consumed more “pork” than all his predecessors combined. He has, therefore, indulged the proclivities of the most corrupt politicians more than any one of his predecessors, including the one whom he likes to blame for his own frailties, excesses and crimes. He has become by far the biggest corruptor of Congress. Looking at the depth and virulence of the syndicated corruption and crime, one feels like being thrown against the savage currents of a shoreless sea during a tsunami; there is no other way to go quickly but under. Indeed, that’s where the entire nation is going—under. And Aquino is not helping himself any by going to South Korea for a completely avoidable protocolar visit at a time when the aftershocks of the tremor have not ceased, and the Cebuanos and the Boholanos are still trying to dig up the last victims from the rubble of the earthquake. There is no compelling reason for Aquino to fiddle like Nero while Rome burnt. During this visit, the Koreans, according to reports, will honor PNoy’s late father, Ninoy, who as a young man covered the Korean War (1950-53) for the old and more illustrious Manila Times. The Koreans are free to honor anyone they please, including a long-departed cub reporter who covered the war with so many others 60 years ago. But right now we have a calamity to attend to and Aquino’s place is here. Moreover, it is not generally known that Ninoy’s reporting, which the Times editors David Bugoslav, Jose Luna Castro and Emilio Aguilar Cruz helped to render into readable prose, had any impact on the course of that war. When I visited the war memorial museum in Seoul a year ago, I noticed a memorabilia of former President Fidel V. Ramos, who served in that war as a young lieutenant, but nothing associated with any particular correspondent who covered the war. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/18/a-worse-calamity/
US budget signing boosts peso, stocks By Julito G. Rada | Posted 8 hours ago | 36 views
Stocks climbed to a two-month high and the peso advanced to the 43-per-dollar level Thursday, after US lawmakers passed a last-minute bill to reopen the government, raise the country’s borrowing limit and avoid a devastating default that could spark another global recession. Investors breathed a sigh of relief as Republican and Democratic senators found a compromise budget after weeks of bitter rows on Capitol Hill that called into question Washington’s credibility with its creditors. The bill restarts government operations until Jan. 15 and raises the debt ceiling until Feb. 7, giving lawmakers time to draw up a longer term deal. The Philippine Stock Exchange index, the 30-company benchmark, climbed 77 points, or 1.2 percent, to close at 6,560.88, the highest in two months, or since Aug. 17, when it settled at 6,580.71. The peso also gained 0.3 percent to settle at 43.065 against the dollar Thursday, up from the previous day’s closing of 43.19 per dollar. “The measure passed by the US legislature is a positive development that buys time. However, I would like to emphasize the need for a more permanent solution, especially to the issue of its borrowing limit,” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said. “If the US is to maintain its role as the printer of the global reserve currency, its leaders cannot view going to the brink of default as a viable political tool. Socalled ‘governing by crisis’, where the entire world’s economy has to be held hostage to force a decision, cannot be allowed to become standard operating procedure in Washington,” Purisima said. Bangko Sentral Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said market volatilities were still expected, despite the temporary debt deal reached in the US Congress that would last until February next year.
“Everybody else will have to brace himself for a possible heady ride through market volatilities. Perhaps we need to prepare truly for a new normal, or for some people, new abnormal,” Guinigundo said in a text message. “The US has just avoided what otherwise could have been a financial conflagration. But we should not treat this as an open-ended extension of peace time. The agreement to adjust the debt ceiling will be good only until February 2014. We might be back to this wait-and-see situation by then,” Guinigundo said. With AFP http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/18/us‐budget‐signing‐boosts‐peso‐stocks/
SME sector seen growing 15% By Jennifer Ambanta | Posted 8 hours ago | 19 views Esquire Financing Inc. expects the small- and medium-enterprise sector in the Philippines to expand 12 percent to 15 percent annually until 2016, on the back of strong economic growth. Esquire Financing chairman, president and chief executive Rajan Uttamchandi said the SME sector was growing faster than the general economy, which posted a 7.6-percent expansion in the first half. “There are about 1 million MSEs out there and their number is still growing,” Rajan said. Rajan said given the robust economic growth and positive business environment, Esquire was poised to double its 2012 net income from P123 million to P240 million in 2013. He said the company had implemented new strategies to catch up with the growing market of SMEs dubbed as the “sales partnership model.” “It took us 30 months to get 1,700 clients. With the new business model, we will be able to get another 1,700 in a span of 12 months,” he said. Rajan said despite the strong competition in the SME and micro business sector, the market was still large enough for everybody to earn. He said Esquire Financing was focused on its Metro Manila operation, but aimed to expand in the south and north Luzon provinces. “In the long term, we would like to expand to Visayas and Mindanao but that’s about 3 to 5 years from now,” Rajan said. The company said about 85 percent of its loan portfolio was covered by the medium-sized businesses whose loans reach up to P1 million. The remaining 15 percent is divided among micro and large business. “Our lending is very diversified. We opt to lend to businesses that have good cash flow,” Rajan said. Esquire Financial Philippines was established in 2011 and has so far disbursed P2 billion in loans. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/10/18/sme-sector-seen-growing-15/
‘End budget dictatorship’ October 17, 2013 9:54 pm by Llanesca T. Panti Reporter And Jomar Canlas Senior Reporter
Opposition congressman on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to stop Malacañang from implementing the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which gives the President absolute control over government funds. “If the Court will not intervene, then we will have a President which will completely control the legislature because he holds the power to propose the budget, approve the budget, realign the budget and implement the budget. This budget dictatorship must not be allowed to continue,” the petitioners led by Rep. Luz Ilagan of Gabriela party-list said. Ilagan, Bayan Muna’s Carlos Zarate and Kabataan’s Terry Ridon asked the Court to stop the DAP and void the Department of Budget and Management’s Circular 541 which allows its implementation. Prior to the filing of the petition, the opposition bloc had sought a temporary restraining-order (TRO) on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the legislative pork barrel. The lawmakers said DAP is funded by unobligated public funds and savings because of the Executive’s alleged abuse of discretion. Other petitioners include Dr. Carol Araullo and Renato Reyes of Bayan, UP Prof. Judy Taguiwalo of Pagbabago, Henri Kahn of Concerned Citizens Movement, Manuel Dayrit of Ang Kapatiran Party, Vencer Crisostomo of Anakbayan and Victor Villanueva of Youth Act Now. The Court set oral arguments on the constitutionality of the DAP for November 19. The petitioners argued that the DAP and Budget Circular 541 are unconstitutional and illegal because they grant the President billions in discretionary fund or pork barrel each year by unilaterally impounding the budget approved by Congress and realigning funds to projects selected also by the President. They questioned the legality of withdrawing allotments from intended projects under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) and funneling them to the pet projects and beneficiaries of the President, many of which were not even provided in the GAA approved by Congress. “The DAP funds could never be considered savings because under the law, including the GAA itself, there can be no savings if the projects from which the funds were withdrawn have not been completed or abandoned. In fact, the law requires that savings may be had if the project was implemented at a lesser cost due the efficiency of the agency. This is not the case with DAP,” the petitioners said.
The funds were withdrawn even if the projects have not been completed “due to the inefficiency of the under-spending agencies.” As such they could not be considered as savings and could not be realigned by the President, they pointed out. The petitioners argued that DAP is within the judicial ambit of the Supreme Court because it is not a question of discretion or wisdom but of whether President Benigno Aquino 3rd violated the Constitution and laws passed by Congress just to maintain and enlarge his discretionary fund. Null and void Earlier, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) joined the clamor to have the DAP declared null and void. In a petition for prohibition, the group, through Pacifico Agabin, asked the Supreme Court to declare DAP unconstitutional and to order the Commission on Audit (COA) to immediately audit of all public monies spent through DAP. They also petitioned for a TRO and writ of preliminary injunction to stop the disbursement of DAP funds. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad was named respondent in the petition. According to the group, the Constitution provides that “ no money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuant of an appropriation made by law.” But the GAA for the years 2011, 2012 and 2013 has no appropriation for DAP, they said. ”There is no appropriation for such a program, nor was there any allocation made by Congress thereof. Obviously, this is not a program submitted to Congress for its approval,” the petition noted. The group said Abad’s declaration that the projects were funded by DAP “render the legality of the DAP doubtful and anomalous.” It said that the Budget chief cannot justify DAP by citing Article 6, Section 25 of the Constitution which prohibits any transfer of appropriations and provide a guideline for the use of government savings. They also questioned Abad’s failure to give the exact details where DAP funds have been used and if these projects were provided under the GAA. Earlier petitions contesting the DAP were filed by the Philippine Constitution Association, former Rep. Augusto Syjuco of Iloilo and former Councilor Greco Belgica of Manila. Malacanang however said that stopping DAP would adversely affect people in need of assistance. Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda cited in particular the needs of people affected by typhoon Pablo, the crisis in Zamboanga City and the recent earthquake in the Visayas.
He said P10.53 billion “unprogrammed funds” were released for the victims of Typhoon Pablo. ”This is not the first petition that has been filed against the DAP. But, essentially, if you’re going to ask the Supreme Court to suspend the realignment of savings, that’s what I’m telling you. The consequence of that will be: We will not be able to fund some of theassistance that we are going to provide to victims of typhoon ‘Pablo,’ victims of the Zamboanga crisis, and also the earthquake in Bohol and Cebu,” Lacierda said. ”We’re intending to use these savings for those situations and, in fact, that’s the reason why we’re able to use these savings properly,” he added. “But we’re letting them know, we’re letting the people know that the savings that we’re using are to help the people in need right now,” he said. “Whether it’s in typhoon ‘Pablo,’ whether it’s in Zamboanga, all our funds are fully and prudently used, utilized properly.”
Probe of DA fund ‘miracles’ sought October 17, 2013 9:40 pm MILITANT peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) on Thursday insisted for an independent body that will investigate what it described as the “massive plunder of agricultural funds” inside the Department of Agriculture (DA). The KMP said that the so-called probe teams created by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala will move to whitewash the investigation. According to KMP secretary general Antonio Flores, the Agriculture chief has created another team that will investigate lawyer Irene Alogoc, director of the DA’s internal audit service, on her alleged participation in the plunder of agricultural funds. “It appears that Alcala is scrambling to cover up his mess. Alcala’s creation of fake probe teams is a desperate attempt to exonerate himself and escape accountability from plunder,” Flores said. “The DA never runs out of fakes. From fake NGOs, fake probers, up to the fake agricultural programs purposely designed to make public funds vulnerable to plunder,” Flores said. Alogoc is one of 12 public and private individuals, including President Benigno Aquino 3rd, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Janet Lim-Napoles and Alcala, who were charged with plunder by the KMP in the Office of the Ombudsman last October 2. “We don’t trust Alcala. We do not want a repeat of the 2008 fertilizer fund scam probe,” Flores said, referring to the 2008 Blue Ribbon committee investigation that failed to pin down Janet Lim-Napoles because she was cleared, according to former senator Richard Gordon, at the DA level by then agriculture assistant secretary Catherine Mae Santos. “In light of the lack of credibility of institutions like Congress and the Judiciary, both hounded by allegations of corruption, and Alcala’s fake probers, we call for the creation of an independent body that will investigate the massive plunder of public funds in the DA,” the peasant leader added. NEIL A. ALCOBER
P9.4-M Pantawid money grabbed October 17, 2013 9:39 pm by TINA GANZON
CAMP VICENTE LIM, Laguna: Over P9 million meant for beneficiaries of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) were stolen by three armed men in a daylight heist in Pagbilao, Quezon on Tuesday. Region 4-A police director Chief Supt. Jesus Gatchalian said that five employees of PhilPost were on board a Starex van (WFC 753) when they were accosted by three armed men along Maharlika Highway in Sitio Polong Guiting, Barangay Silangang Malicboy at around 12 noon. Gatchalian said the victims, identified as Brian Magbutay Dizon, Odith Jaurigue Cadano, Geraldine Fabila Badong, Niño Santiago Calabia and Patrick James Gesulga Putungan, all employees of Philpost Regional Office in San Pablo City, had just taken their lunch in Valmyn’s Eatery when one of the suspects pointed a gun at driver Dizon and demanded the vehicle’s key. Reports said Dizon refused to give the key, prompting the suspect to shoot him twice in his left foot. Subsequently, one of the suspects commandeered the van but got stuck in heavy traffic.
9-DAY CAMPAIGN PERIOD STARTS ON OCT. 18 October 17, 2013 9:37 pm The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has reminded candidates on the October 28 Barangay elections to follow campaign rules as the nine-day campaign period officially starts at 12:01 a.m. on October 18. “Just follow the rules. The rules are there. There are sizes to be followed. Merong common poster areas,” said Comelec Sixto Brillantes in a press briefing. He added that the rules they will apply in the campaign for the village polls will be the same guidelines provided under Republic Act 9006, Fair Election law. http://manilatimes.net/9‐day‐campaign‐period‐starts‐on‐oct‐18/45622/
DENR URGES ‘BASURA FREE CAMPAIGN’ IN BRGY. POLLS October 17, 2013 9:36 pm TACLOBAN CITY: As the campaign period for the Barangay elections approaches, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Region 8 is strictly reminding candidates to be mindful of the environment as they embark on their campaign strategies. “Let the candidates be reminded to observe a ‘basura free campaign,’” said DENR Regional Executive Director Manolito Ragub. During elections, campaign supplies such as posters, stickers, sample ballots and others be it paper, tarpaulin or other materials may form part of the garbage that litter the streets and clog waterways. http://manilatimes.net/denr‐urges‐basura‐free‐campaign‐in‐brgy‐polls/45616/
Aquino’s 2-day trip to Korea costs P12M October 17, 2013 5:07 pm The government has allotted P12 million for President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s two‐day state visit to South Korea, a Palace official said on Thursday. The President left Thursday morning for Seoul on a chartered Philippine Airlines flight. He is expected to be back in Manila before midnight Friday. Aquino was accompanied by Senate President Franklin Drilon, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo and Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla. Others in the official delegation are Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Presidential Management Staff head Julia Andrea Abad and Presidential Protocol Chief Celia Anna Feria. In a statement, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said the expenses cover the charter lease, accommodations, transportation, food and equipment, among others, for the President and his official delegation. Aquino is expected to meet with South Korea President Park Geun‐hye as well as with Korean businessmen and Filipino community. “Our President is expected to tackle several issues with President Park. These concern not only South Korea and our country, but also the region, and cover matters related to politics, defense, labor, trade and development assistance,” Ochoa said. “The President will also meet with key Korean business groups as well as the Filipino community there,” he added. CATHERINE S. VALENTE http://manilatimes.net/aquinos-2-day-trip-to-korea-costs-p12m/45540/
Philippines holds ‘Red Card’ to penalize child labor October 17, 2013 5:01 pm The Philippines is joining the “Red Card to Child Labor” global campaign to end the worst forms of child labor by 2016, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said. The Red Card campaign was announced at the close of the third Global Child Labor Conference in Brasilia last week. It has already gained the support of Hollywood stars as well as artists and athletes from the around the world. A red card is used in several sports, including football, to indicate a serious offense. The football link is particularly appropriate because children in some Asian countries used to be forced to work making footballs, instead of playing the game. To mark the launch of the Red Card to Child Labor in the Philippines, about 200 former child laborers played in the Batang Malaya football tournament on October 17, in partnership with the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) and the Younghusband Football Academy. The NCLC, chaired by the Department of Labor and Employment, supports the global campaign to boost national efforts to end child labor under the Batang Malaya: Child Labor Free Philippines. The US Department of Labor has cited the Philippines as one of the 10 countries making significant advancements in ending the worst forms of child labor. The other countries were Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Gibraltar, Indonesia, Peru and Thailand. In 2011, the National Statistics Office estimated there were 3 million child laborers (aged five to 17) in the country, about 99 per cent of whom were in hazardous work. Agriculture remains the sector with the most child laborers but children also work in mines, on the streets, in factories, and in private homes as child domestic workers.
“Child labor as a complex issue is much related to poverty. Without access to decent and productive work, parents find themselves in vulnerable forms of employment. They are forced to accept or to create whatever work is available, at the same time, to send their children to work in order to survive,” Lawrence Jeff Johnson, director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines.
Globally, the ILO estimates the number of child laborers declined by one-third between 2000 and 2012–from 246 million to 168 million. More than half of the 168 million child workers “are engaged in hazardous work, dangerous to their health, safety or moral development.”
The ILO has recognized that there is global progress towards ending child labor but has pointed out that the decline is still too slow to meet the goal of ending the worst forms of child labor by 2016. According to the organization, the end to child labor requires strong political will and collective action.
Johnson pointed out that individuals can hold up their own Red Card to child labor by not buying goods or services involving child labor, not employing children as child domestic workers and reporting cases of child labor.
“Remember, [there are] three million child laborers in the Philippines. This means three million reasons for us to take action against child labor just in the Philippines and more than 168 million reasons globally,” Johnson said.
Many companies, organizations and individuals have supported the football tournament and the campaign against child labour by providing school supplies, football and school shoes, socks, jerseys, snacks and other items.
They included ABS-CBN as exclusive media partner, Landbank of the Philippines, Consuelo Foundation, Wang Videography, Imagine Nation Photography, Dole Philippines, Inc., SM Cares, SM Supermalls, Post Ad Ventures, Blue Leaf Pavilion and Accel.
Molten, Globe Telecom, Kettle Food Corporation, Megaworld, St. Luke’s Medical Center, United Football League, Gatorade, ILO Manila Staff Union, St. Scholastica’s College, DMCI Homes, University of the Philippines Alpha Sigma Fraternity, International School Manila, San Miguel Foundation, 3M Post-it, Royal Innovations Inc., Shining Light Foundation, Inc., Manila Genesis Entertainment and Management, Inc. and the local government of Taguig also supported the campaign against child labor. BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON
PNoy to encourage more investments, renew ties on his first State Visit to Korea October 17, 2013 12:22 pm President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Thursday vowed to bring home more investments and forge stronger ties on his first state visit to South Korea. In his pre-departure speech, President Aquino underscored the importance of having renewed ties with South Korea whose nationals remain as one of the top tourists entering the country in recent years. “Tayo naman po ay tutungo ngayon sa South Korea, upang asikasuhin naman ang kinabukasan habang inaasikaso natin ang kasalukuyan. Alam po ng lahat na marami pong investors na galing sa Korea, layon po natin lalo pang dagdagan ang kanilang investments sa ating pong bansa,” President Aquino said. The President pushed through with his South Korea trip after visiting quake affected areas in the Central Visayas region. President Aquino said other key Cabinet members are now overseeing relief operations in devastated areas. “May mga nagtanong po kung dapat tayo tumuloy matapos ng nangyari na lindol sa Kabisayaan. Ang sagot po natin dito: Habang inaasikaso nga ho ang kasalukuyan, dapat naman ho siguro huwag natin pabayaan ang kinabukasan,” he added. The Chief Executive said that aside from tourism, his other agenda in South Korea is to reestablish the country’s relationship with South Korea. “Palakasin rin sa larangan ng turismo, na siyang nagiging daan ng kabuhayan ng marami po nating mga kababayan, at ang muli po, ay lalong paigtingin pa ang ating ugnayan sa bansang South Korea sa pamamagitan ng marami pang agreements na ating inaasahan mapirmahan itong araw na ito,” he said. He added: “Alam po natin na talagang matindi nga ang naging ugnayan na sa ilang dekada sa bansang South Korea, at lagi rin po nga natin na talagang tangkilikin ang kanilang pag-aasikaso sa atin dito sa pag-iimbita, at kauna-unahang State Visit sa panahon ng Presidente Park”. President Aquino will be back home Friday night. PNA
ITCZ to bring light to moderate rains nationwide October 17, 2013 9:46 am Expect cloudy skies with light rains in most parts of the country as the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) continues to affect the country, the state weather bureau said on Thursday. In its Thursday forecast, PAGASA said that Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao and Caraga will experience cloudy skies with light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms. It added that Metro Manila and the rest of the country will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms. It said moderate to strong winds blowing from the northeast will prevail over Luzon and its coastal waters will be moderate to rough. Elsewhere, winds will be light to moderate coming from the northeast with slight to moderate seas. PAGASA added strong to gale-force winds associated with northeasterly windflow is expected to affect the northern seaboard of northern Luzon. “Fishing boats and other small sea crafts are advised not to venture out into the sea while larger sea vessels are alerted against big waves,” it said. PNA
Markets still face volatilities October 17, 2013 9:23 pm by Mayvelin U. Caraballo Reporter
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Thursday urged markets to still prepare for volatilities despite the raising of the US debt ceiling that prevented the federal government to enter a default. In a text message to reporters, BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said that the US just avoided on late Wednesday what otherwise could have been a “financial conflagration.” After weeks of a long impasse, the US Senate and Congress were able to reach an agreement to raise the federal government’s debt ceiling until February 7th of 2014, and to fund their federal government operations until January 15th. The measure passed on late Wednesday with less than two hours to go until October 17, the date from which the Treasury had warned it might not be able to pay its bills. “But we should not treat this as an open-ended extension of peace time. The agreement to adjust the debt ceiling will be good only until February 2014. We might be back to this wait and see situation by then,” Purisima said. He added that in the short term, central banks and government holders of US treasuries will have to make the necessary adjustment, “although difficult and options are not readily available.” The BSP official urged that everybody should be ready to brace themselves for a possible heady ride through market volatilities, noting the need to prepare truly for a new normal, or for some people, “new abnormal.” “The challenge is really to get back to higher, more sustainable economic growth built without dependence on excessive financial leveraging. That will of course require sustained policy reforms, intensified oversight of the financial system, avoidance of asset price inflation, continued fiscal and monetary policy coordination,” he said. For his part, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said that the measure passed by the US legislature is a positive development that buys time, however, the US should still look at a more permanent solution to its debt ceiling, especially on the issue of its borrowing limit. “If the US is to maintain its role as the printer of the global reserve currency, its leaders cannot view going to the brink of default as a viable political tool,” he said.
Purisima added that the so-called governing by crisis, where the entire world’s economy has to be held hostage to force a decision, cannot be allowed to become standard operating procedure in Washington. “Because the world’s economies are connected even as far away from the US as the Philippines, every standoff between America’s ruling parties forces the rest of the world to watch with anxiety,” he said. The Finance chief further stated that the US should look seriously at a more permanent solution to shield the world economy and financial markets from its domestic political squabbles. Important step On the other hand, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also welcomed the recent stance of the US government. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said that the US Congress has taken an important and necessary step by ending the partial shutdown of the federal government and lifting the debt ceiling. She noted that the US action “enables the government to continue its operations without disruption for the next few months while budget negotiations continue to unfold.” “Looking forward, it will be essential to reduce uncertainty surrounding the conduct of fiscal policy by raising the debt limit in a more durable manner,” she said. “We also continue to encourage the US to approve a budget for 2014 and replace the sequester with gradually phased-in measures that would not harm the recovery, and to adopt a balanced and comprehensive medium-term fiscal plan,” the IMF official added.
Posted on October 17, 2013 10:56:02 PM
Online directory of doctors developed DAVAO CITY -- Patients and their families need not browse the pages of the telephone directory to get the address of their nearest doctor and hospital, thanks to mobile application FindMyDok, developed by information technology enthusiasts here. FindMyDok, created by Dabawenyos Arjay T. Legere, Jed Adrian Varon and Yvanne Espina, enables doctors to find other doctors for referral purposes and allows ordinary citizens to search for doctors in their area. The app was one of the top 20 finalists in the 2013 IdeaSpace incubator competition for promising startups to win support. “There are other doctor databases out there, but not updated and not tied up with a medical organization,” Mr. Legere said. The developers tied up with the North Cotabato Medical Society to make the free software relevant not only to patients but also to the local health community. Being one of the IdeaSpace finalists would have given Mr. Legere’s group a chance for six months of incubation and up to P5 million in funding. Despite the lack of financial support, however, Mr. Legere plans to come up with FindMedSpace, another online application that can be used to search for hospitals. FindMedSpace will provide an updated list of hospitals and their contact details. It will be integrated with FindMyDok to make the search for doctors and hospitals more efficient, he added. “We are still raising funds for the app, but we are developing the platform already,” Mr. Legere said. FindMyDok can be used by anyone online, whether on a computer or a smartphone. Samuel R. Matunog, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Davao, Inc. president, said that the goal of the city’s IT sector is to come up with innovative and effective products that will prove to be significant to the society. The recent Innovation Expo held in the city focused on health applications and other health-related technologies. Mr. Matunog acknowledged a 70% gap between demand and supply of professionals in the IT sector and an approximate 40% gap in the business process outsourcing sector in the Davao Region, which could be a cause of concern for international locators. ICT Davao conducted iAuction last weekend to help finance the Summer Workshop for IT (SWIT) Kids, to be held next summer to acquaint public school children with ICT basics and
provide a long-term solution to the supply and demand gap for IT talents. “We are encouraging schools to revise their curriculum and integrate IT even for Grade 1 students, so we can start them young,” Mr. Matunog said. He said that several colleges and universities in the city have committed to be part of SWIT Kids: the University of Mindanao can accommodate 104 students; the University of the Immaculate Conception, 80 students; and the University of the Philippines, 40 students. The students will not only be given classroom instruction during the free two-week summer program but will also be involved in practical IT operations with senior students as their teachers and industry personalities as advisers. -- Carmencita A. Carillo http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Online-directory-ofdoctors-developed&id=78117
Aid still not reaching neediest in quake-ravaged Bohol Written by Tribune Friday, 18 October 2013 00:00 Some parts of earthquake‐ravaged Bohol province remained isolated with residents now crying for help, specially for food and water, and with their residences destroyed by the magnitude 7.2 quake that struck last Tuesday, they stayed out, day‐in and day‐out despite rains, due to lack of even temporary shelters. This, as the death toll brought about by the earthquake rose to at least 163 persons yesterday as the Bohol provincial government reported a total of 151 fatalities, while Cebu confirmed two more deaths, bringing to 11 the total fatalities, and one in Siquijor. In a broadcast interview, Rosario Mejares, 42, a resident of Loon town, which was the hardest hit area in Bohol, decried the absence of government relief operations to help them survive. Mejares was among the residents who lost their houses and now staying just outside the collapsed Our Lady of Light Church in Loon, without any shelter and using makeshift tents to shield them from rains. According to Mejares, they have not received any assistance, either in terms of food and medical, since Tuesday when the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that hit Central Visayas earthquake that hit Central Visayas Region, particularly Bohol province. Mejares said they are in dire need of food items, water, medicines and tents. Tootsie Escobia, information officer of the Bohol provincial government, said authorities are really having difficulty reaching some of the affected areas due to isolation and rains. “We have many challenges now in Bohol. The problem I think is how to deliver the relief considering the situation, there are roads that remained impassable, then there are still aftershocks plus these rains that we’re experiencing,” she added. Escobia said while relief goods continued to pour in Bohol, they still need more to extend help to all affected residents. “We are on schedule as far as number of relief but we are still hoping that more will come... so far, we are doing our best to give them (affected residents) but on the ground it might still be short so we need more help on this,” she stressed. According to Escobia, Bohol is home to estimated 1.2 million people, with about 150,000 to 200,000 affected by the quake mostly from the northern and eastern side. In Loon alone, Escobia said that the town has close to 40,000 population. Escobia said aside from the relief and search and retrieval operations in the affected areas, there are
also ongoing clearing operations in the towns of Maribojoc and Tubigon where there were reported landslides and presence of debris from collapsed structures. Escobia said rains and continuous aftershocks are hampering government efforts to reach affected people. Rescue workers were forced onto boats and helicopters to help thousands of isolated survivors of the earthquake. Road access to the worst‐hit towns in Bohol remained cut, two days after the quake destroyed buildings and triggered landslides that engulfed homes, regional civil defense chief Minda Morante, for her part, said. “I hope the people will understand. While we want to bring aid to them, our main adversary is accessibility,” Morante told Agence France Presse. “We acknowledge that there are still gaps in the emergency response. We cannot address the many needs all at the same time.” By Mario J. Mallari, Pat C. Santos and AFP http://www.tribune.net.ph/headlines/aid-still-not-reaching-neediest-in-quake-ravagedbohol
CoA orders s PCSO O chie ef to re eturn la avish p perks Written by b Tribune Friday, 18 October 2013 2 00:00 The Comm mission on Au udit (CoA) sought Philip ppine Charityy Sweepstak kes Office (P PCSO) Chairrman Margarita P. Juico o to refund P9.6 6 million perr diems and differential p pay given to her along with five others w who served a as PCSO directors priorr to Juico being g appointed by Presiden nt Aquino as head of the e lotto operations. The perks w were declarred excessivve by state auditors.Th he CoA raise ed questionss on the lega ality and propriety off hundreds o of millions in n allowancess and other benefits tha at officials off the agencyy paid themsselves last ye ear. Governmen nt auditors d disclosed tha at PCSO paiid P313,508 8 million to its s provident ffund in viola ation of the p provisions off Departmen nt of Budget and Manage ement Circu ular No. 2008 8-3 stating thatt such fundss should com me from “con ntributions off both the em mployees an nd the emplo oyer.” CoA said d the PCSO should also comply with h its earlier re recommenda ations to see ek the refund d of P9.617 million m per diems and diff fferential pay y given to Ju uico and dire ectors Mabell Mamba, Be etty Nantes, Ma. M Aleta To olentino, and d Joaquin Frrancisco III. The CoA A pointed outt that a proviident fund se erves as a lo oan facility a and providerr of suppleme entary welfa are benefits to t its membe ers. It also sa aid PCSO ma ade an unau uthorized cash infusion iinto its provident fund ovver and abovve what are considered legitimate disbursemen d nts. The CoA A findings sta ated that in 2012, 2 PCSO O disbursed a total of 103 3 checks am mounting to P396,317 7,764 to the provident fu und made up p of the emp ployees’ share and loan payments a and the special share. This amo ounted to P3 313.508 million or 79.11 percent of t he total disb bursements o of the specia al share. PCSO cited its 2011 collective negotiations agreement a ((CNA) as the e basis for th he special sh hare distributio on. The CoA A report also noted the Civil C Service Commission n, which requires registrration of such agreeme ents, has issu ued an opiniion dated Au ug. 22, 2011 declaring th hat the grant of similar benefits requires “leg gislative ena actment or prresidential isssuance.” In additio on, auditors held as unla awful the gra ant of “Weekkly Draw Allo owances” to officers and regular employees e of PCSO amo ounting to P27.429 millio on; “Cost of Living Allow wances” totaling P24.41 million; m unauthorized carr plans, medical and othe er allowance es of the boa ard of Directtors
worth P2.533 million; and per diems and differential pays also for the PCSO-Board totaling P2.715 million. CoA said the weekly draw allowance was prohibited by the Joint Resolution No. 4 of Congress dated June 7, 2009 and Executive Order No. 7 which rationalized compensation and position classification of all government-owned and controlled corporations. Payment of COLA on the other hand was considered excessive since said compensation was considered to have been incorporated in the standardized salary rates as stated under RA 6758 or the Salary Standardization Law. On the other hand, CoA noted that the PCSO Board paid its members questionable per diems and other benefits despite being told to stop such payments for lack of legal basis. Because of the findings, the CoA issued a recommendation for the officers and employees to immediately refund all unauthorized allowances, per diems, and other benefits. By Alvin Murcia http://www.tribune.net.ph/headlines/coa-orders-pcso-chief-to-return-lavish-perks
Whitewash seen with Alcala’s ‘fake probers’ of DA fund misuse — KMP Written by Charlie V. Manalo Friday, 18 October 2013 00:00 The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) yesterday insisted for an independent body that will investigate what it described as the “massive plunder of agricultural funds” inside the Department of Agriculture (DA), saying that the so-called probe teams created by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala will only move to whitewash the investigation. The KMP issued the statement after reports said that Alcala created another team that will investigate lawyer Irene Alogoc, director of the DA’s internal audit service, on her alleged participation in the plunder of agricultural funds. Ironically, Alogoc, who also face a plunder charge, was appointed by Alcala to lead the inquiry into the fake NGOs that had found their way into the DA list of accredited foundations that managed to get millions of agricultural funds. “It appears that Alcala is scrambling to cover up his mess. Alcala’s creation of fake probe teams is a desperate attempt to exonerate himself and escape accountability from plunder,” KMP secretary general Antonio Flores said. “The DA never runs out of fakes. From fake NGOs, fake probers, up to the fake agricultural programs purposely designed to make public funds vulnerable to plunder,” he said. Alogoc is one of 12 public and private individuals, including President Aquino, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Napoles and Alcala, who were charged with plunder by the KMP in the Office of the Ombudsman last Oct. 2. The KMP reiterated calls for an independent investigation to probe the massive plunder of agricultural funds in the DA. “We don’t trust Alcala. We do not want a repeat of the 2008 fertilizer fund scam probe,” Flores said, referring to the 2008 blue ribbon committee investigation that failed to pin down Janet LimNapoles because she was cleared, according to former Sen. Richard Gordon, at the DA level by then Agriculture Assistant Secretary Catherine Mae Santos. http://www.tribune.net.ph/nation/whitewash-seen-with-alcala-s-fake-probers-of-da-fundmisuse-kmp
Taiwan donates P4.3M for quake relief efforts Written by Tribune Friday, 18 October 2013 00:00 In the wake of the tragic loss of life and devastation caused by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck Cebu, Bohol and the rest of Central Visayas last Tuesday morning, the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) through its representative office, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines (Teco), expresses its deepest condolences on the fatalities that the Philippines has suffered. As a gesture of good will and concern, the government of the RoC (Taiwan) has immediately pledged to donate $100,000 or P4.3 million to support the postdisaster relief efforts and rehabilitation in the affected areas.
As a true neighbor to the Philippines, Taiwan is one of the first countries to pledge humanitarian support in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake’s devastation. The geographical proximity between Taiwan and the Philippines closely binds the two countries. Taiwan, always one of the first countries to extend assistance, has been a key partner of the Philippines in providing immediate humanitarian response during natural calamities. This is in line with the RoC President Ma Ying-jeou’s endeavor for Taiwan to play the role of a “provider of humanitarian assistance” in the international community.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines (Teco) is currently in cooperation with the local Taiwanese communities in the Philippines and the local charity organizations such as the Tzu Chi Foundation to conduct relief efforts in Central Visayas. Aside from this, Teco has contacted Bohol Gov. Edgardo Chatto in order to facilitate other means for the RoC to help the victims. To further assist the Philippines in its recovery process, Teco will continue to work closely with the Philippine authorities and the local Taiwanese communities in providing necessary and timely assistance to the areas affected.
When Typhoon “Ondoy” in 2009 and Typhoon “Juan” in 2010 struck the Philippines, Taiwan immediately extended its assistance through cash and kind. At the onslaught of Typhoon “Sendong” in 2011, Taiwan government immediately contributed $150,000 to the Philippines and provided humanitarian assistance. http://www.tribune.net.ph/nation/taiwan-donates-p4-3m-for-quake-relief-efforts
KMU says Aquino should blame himself for 15% dip in his performance rating written by Pat C. Santos Friday, 18 October 2013 00:00 President Aquino should not blame anybody but himself for the drop in his public satisfactiom ratings. This was the reaction of militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) to Aquino’s statement last Tuesday blaming the previous administration for the 15 percent dip in his approval ratings in the third quarter survey of the Social Weather Stations. In a prepared statement, the KMU said the dip was caused by Aquino’s retention and shameless defense of the much-despised pork barrel system while trying to deceive the public with the anti-corruption slogans “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” and “daang matuwid.” “It is not surprising that Aquino’s ratings have gone down, and they will continue to go down. More and more Filipinos are becoming aware that the saving grace of his administration, his anti-corruption drive, is a scam,” Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairman, said. The labor center said Aquino’s Aug. 23 announcement on the “abolition” of the Priority Development Assistance Fund, the staging of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles’ arrest and the government’s war in Zamboanga City all failed to save Aquino’s dwindling popularity. “The hunger and poverty being experienced by Filipinos are getting worse and the main illusion being peddled by Aquino has started to crumble. We have every reason to believe that this decline will be irreversible,” Labog said. The KMU leader added Aquino has failed to refute the “Pork Barrel King” tag, saying he failed to offer convincing explanations for the use of the Disbursement Acceleration Program fund and the Malampaya fund as pork barrel funds, on top of his P1.3- trillion pork barrel fund for 2014. “Aquino is now in a quagmire of corruption scandals involving him. He can’t fool all the people all the time,” the labor leader said. Labog added corruption cases involving lower-level bureaucrats, like the case of the P10-million bonus pocketed by board members of the Social Security System, make people angrier with Aquino. “The image is that of a system so hopelessly corrupt, the people have to rise up to change things. People know that corruption at the lower levels is a share from the bigger corruption at the top levels,” Labog said. http://www.tribune.net.ph/metro-section/kmu-says-aquino-should-blame-himself-for-15dip-in-his-performance-ratings
Stronger peso seen at year-end Written by Tribune Friday, 18 October 2013 00:00 Deutsche Bank ING sees the peso showing its strength against the dollar as this year ends at 42.8 from the previous projection of 43.5. ING chief economist for Asia Tim Condon said hot money inflows is partly expected to boost the local currency’s appreciation at the last quarter of 2013. He said the local currency is expected to benefit from the expected rise of the local bourse. ”We expect the PSEi (Philippine Stock Exchange index) to claw back most of its May-August losses in the fourth quarter,” he said noting that “it’s up a league-leading four percent so far in October.” The losses in both the local stock market and the peso in the second to third quarter this year was due to the expectations that the Federal Reserve will start scaling back its stimulus program by September this year. However, the widely expected cut did not materialize during the Federal Open Market Committee policy meeting last September after US monetary officials noted that positive economic developments in the US are not enough to scale back the $85 billion monthly bondbuying program. The developments in the US are the main culprits for the performance of both the local bourse and the peso in recent weeks. On Monday, the PSEi shed 0.73 percent or 47.10 points to 6,442.700. This is among the factors for the peso’s performance during the day. However, the local unit remained firm against the greenback after closing at 43.15 from last Friday’s 43.13. http://www.tribune.net.ph/business/stronger-peso-seen-at-year-end
Esquire Financing to open 50 more branches outside metro Written by Ed Velasco Friday, 18 October 2013 00:00 Esquire Financing Inc. (EFI), a fast growing financing firm, is taking advantage of the very big micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) market of the Philippines as it announced yesterday it will be opening 50 more branches in the next five years. In a roundtable lunch at Azuthai restaurant in Makati City before banking reporters, EFI chairman and chief executive officer Rajan Uttamchandani said 99.6 percent of businesses in the country are MSMEs that’s why they are taking advantage of this very big market. So far, the financing firm has seven branches all over Metro Manila since it started operations in 2011. “Our next targets will be far from the metropolis. Probably Davao City and Cagayan de Oro,” the official said. Of the huge number of MSMEs, 91 percent are micro firms, 0.4 percent are medium and 8.6 percent are small firms. Uttamchandani said this huge number is very attractive given the fact that 70 percent of Filipinos live in the so-called poverty threshold. The official said being in the financing business and not on the banking sector is very helpful because any financing firm is exempted from Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) regulations of high capital adequacy ratio and low bad loans number. “Your banking sector is already saturated that’s why we keep on concentrating on this business,” he said. Minimum loanable amount at EFI is P100,000 while maximum is P10 million. Interest is between one to three percent, depending on tenors. Since starting operations two years ago, the firm has so far granted loans to over 1,700 firms in diversified businesses. Uttamchandani said there are five Cs they consider before approving or disapproving any loan application to assure they are entertaining the right clients. These five Cs are character, capacity, capital, condition and collateral. If the loan applicant has met the first four Cs, he or she doesn’t need to meet the fifth C, the official added. “We have granted loan applications from maternity clinics to memorial parks. From birth to death,” the official said in jest.
He admitted that EFI looks at “sunrise industries” with emphasis rather than those businesses that are considered “sunset” or those that reached the diminishing returns. “Our focus includes BPOs, tourism and healthcare because these industries are very promising,” he said. The official said the MSMEs market is growing faster than most industries that’s why they need to act fast to catch up with its growth. “Our current client base is just less than two percent of our 100,000 target clients. By opening 50 more branches, we can expedite reaching that goal,” he said. http://www.tribune.net.ph/business/esquire-financing-to-open-50-more-branches-outsidemetro
Jinggoy hinamon si Alan! (DMatining) Nagkainitan, nagkairingan at nagsitahan ang ilang mga senador sa higit isang oras na closeddoor caucus kamakalawa ng hapon, ilang oras matapos ihayag ni Senate President Franklin Drilon ang subpoena kay Janet Lim-Napoles, ang itinuturong mastermind ng P10B pork barrel fund scam. Ayon sa mga sources ng Abante, nag-umpisa ang initan sa caucus ng mga senador nang lapitan at komprontahin ni Sen. Jinggoy Estrada si Senate majority leader Alan Peter Cayetano. “Nilapitan ni Sen. Estrada si Sen. Cayetano na lumaban nang harapan sa halip na dinadaan siya sa mga patutsada sa blue ribbon hearing at sa mga media interview,” kwento ng source na ayaw magpabanggit ng pangalan. Ikinainis umano ni Estrada ang pang-uurot ni Cayetano kay pork barrel scam witness Benhur Luy kung sino si “sexy” sa Senate hearing pati ang pagtawag sa kanya nito na “he-who-shouldnot-be-named” sa pagdinig ng Senate blue ribbon committee sa pork barrel scam. Hindi naman umano nagpadaig si Cayetano na nagbigay-diin na hindi niya pinag-iinitan ni Estrada at hindi niya ito idinidiin bilang si “sexy” sa pork barrel scam. Samantala, sinabi pa ng source na umeksena din sa caucus si Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV na mainit ring sinita si Sen. Francis Escudero. Pinagbintangan umano ni Trillanes si Escudero na siyang pinagmulan ng hindi kumpletong impormasyon ng media tungkol sa DAP releases. Ikinagalit umano ni Trillanes na anim na pangalan lang ang nag-request ng proyekto na pinondohan ng DAP ang inilabas gayong halos lahat naman sila ay nag-request at pare-pareho umano nilang hindi alam na iyon ay DAP-funded noong 2011. “Pero itinanggi ni Sen. Escudero na siya ang source,” kwento ng impormante sa Abante. Tinangka rin umanong pag-usapan ang pagpapa-subpoena kay Janet Lim Napoles subalit hindi na ito itinuloy dahil nalagdaan na umano ni Drilon ang subpoena para rito. http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/oct1813/news03.htm#.UmCS_nCBlRI
PAGLIPAT NG SCHOOL OPENING SA SETYEMBRE BINUHAY Ni Aries Cano Dahil sa ulat ng Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) na Hunyo hanggang Setyembre nagsisimulang dumating ang mga bagyo sa bansa, binuhay sa Kamara ang paglipat sa buwan ng Setyembre mula sa kasalukuyang ipinaiiral na buwan ng Hunyo ang pagbubukas ng klase. Ang House Bill 104 o paglipat sa buwan ng Setyembre sa pagbubukas ng klase ay iminungkahi ni Cavite 2nd District Rep. Lani Mercado dahil maliban sa pagpasok ng bagyo tuwing Hunyo ay sa ganitong buwan din, aniya, nagsisimula ang panahon ng tag-ulan kung saan ay madalas na bumaha kaya’t maraming beses na nasususpinde ang mga klase. “For the past years, the torrential rains and heavy floods have often disrupted classes in all levels resulting in the suspension and irregularity of school days,” dagdag pa ni Revilla. Binanggit din ni Revilla na dahil sa report ng PAGASA na 19 hanggang 20 bagyo ang nananalasa sa bansa mula Hunyo ay 25 hanggang 30 araw ang nababawas sa pagpasok sa klase ng mga estudyante. Sa pamamagitan ng paglilipat ng buwan ng pagbubukas ng klase sa Setyembre ay masisiguro ang kaligtasan ng mga estudyante at kanilang mga magulang o guardian sa naglipanang mga sakit na nauuso tuwing tag-ulan.
Food security law pushed Published : Friday, October 18, 2013 00:00 Written by : Paul Gutierrez A PARTY-LIST lawmaker has filed a bill seeking to put more teeth into the implementation of the country’s food security program while also giving financing access to the marginalized segment of the agriculture sector. Rep. Delphine Gan Lee of the AGRI partylist (Agri-Agra na Reporma Para sa Magsasaka sa Pilipinas), in a statement said her proposal, the Micro-Credit Act of 2013, not only seeks the “strict” implementation of roadmaps such as the FSSP (Food Staples Self-sufficiency Program) to ensure the viability of the country’s agriculture sector, but also “programs that provide farmers and fisherfolk with access to microcredit should also be put in place.” She added that “more focused long-term government spending” in the agriculture sector is also one of the best ways to “mitigate” the effects of climate change. “Subsistence farmers are often without any access to additional funding. “They fall prey to loan sharks who approach them in times of natural calamities or other unfortunate financial conditions,” said the lawmaker. Explaining her bill further, Gan-Lee said the government is “better off investing its financial resources in microcredit if it wants to reduce poverty in rural areas and, in the long term, ensure higher productivity.” “Bettering the plight of our farmers is still one of the main challenges of the Philippine government and it is still primarily a rural phenomenon. “Microcredit is regarded as an innovative financial intermediation scheme aimed to reduce the incidence of poverty especially in the rural areas,” she said. Initially, Gan-Lee proposed a funding of P25 billion to jumpstart the program for small farmers nationwide through “loans for the purchase of work animals, tillage equipment, seeds, fertilizers, poultry, livestock, feed and other similar items.” “The FSSP already provides the direction our country should be taking in terms of food security. “Implementing that action plan conscientiously, complemented by this bill which focuses government spending on poverty alleviation and capability building within the sector, will ensure
that our objectives are met – with or without calamities,” added the lawmaker. Critics of the Department of Agriculture (DA) have pointed out that the department has so far ignored the policies and programs in the FSSP that it is supposed to implement strictly, especially those giving the private sector greater responsibility in the importation of rice. Only last April, the DA, through the National Food Authority (NFA), spent some US$94.5 million (roughly P4 billion) in importing 205,700 MT of rice from Vietnam. However, it was discovered that the transaction was allegedly overpriced by as much as P475 million. The DA/NFA “monopoly” in rice importation that has been marred with accusations of corruption coupled with its alleged “slow response” in dealing with the effects of natural calamities to the country’s rice production has been blamed for the continued surge in the retail price of rice. Although typhoon “Santi” last weekend destroyed thousands of “harvestable” rice fields in Central Luzon with the initial damage placed at some P2.9 billion, the DA admitted that it would take about one week before it can come out with any action plan to deal with a feared shortage in rice supply leading to another spike in the staple’s retail price.