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Rice farmers incur higher production costs– BAS report Category: Agri-Commodities 18 Oct 2013 LOCAL farmers who plant palay have incurred higher production costs as of 2012, according to a report released by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS). In its latest report, the Bas noted that the average incurred by palay farmers last year reached P42,475 per hectare. This amount is higher than the P40,003 per hectare recorded in 2011 and P38,029 per hectare. “Palay production during the dry-season cropping posted higher costs at P43,506 per hectare and lower cost during wet-season cropping at P41,299 per hectare in 2012,” the report read. A breakdown provided by the Bas showed that among all the expenditures of farmers, fertilizers and hired labor were the biggest. While production cost was higher in 2012, the Bas said the gross return was also higher at P62,366 per hectare. Net return, which already excludes the production cost, was also higher at P19,981 per hectare. “Palay farmers netted P20,177 per hectare during the dry-season cropping and P19,913 per hectare during the wet-season cropping,” the report read. “For every peso of investment in palay production, farmers earned an average of P0.47. Net profit-cost ratio was higher during wet season at P0.48 and lower during dry season at P0.46,” it added. Per kilo, the Bas said the average cost of palay production in 2012 was P11.05, while the average farmgate price was P16.22. “During dry-season cropping, average cost was P11.22 and farmgate price stood at P16.43 per kilo. The wet-season cropping incurred lower cost, which averaged P10.81 per kilo, [while] farmgate price averaged P16.02 per kilo,” the report read. The Bas said palay farmers from the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) incurred the highest cost in producing a hectare of palay at P55,785.

“Production cost was lowest in Eastern Visayas at P29,897. By season, the cost of palay production during dry season was highest in CAR at P59,671 per hectare and lower in Bicol region at P31,025 per hectare and Eastern Visayas at P30,574 per hectare,” the Bas said. During wet season, the Bas said palay farmers in Davao region recorded the highest cost of production at P53,943 per hectare, while production cost was lowest in Eastern Visayas at P28,95 per hectare. In terms of gross earnings, palay farmers in Central Luzon received the highest at P84,168 per hectare Palay farming grossed the highest during dry- and wet-season croppings at P92,151 per hectare and P77,596 per hectare, respectively. Lower gross receipts were noted in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), where it averaged P40,220 per hectare. The ARMM also grossed the lowest during the dryseason cropping at P38,890 per hectare and during the wet-season cropping at P44,154 per hectare.‐commodities/21050‐rice‐farmers‐incur‐ higher‐production‐costs‐bas‐report                            

Jica-funded road projects in Pangasinan to boost farm output–DAR Category: Agri-Commodities 18 Oct 2013 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga THE Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) expects farmers in two towns of Pangasinan to increase farm production with the P43.9 million worth of road-improvement projects that were funded by the Japanese government. Local officials said the 13.5-kilometer farm-to-market road in the town of Tayug, worth P33.9 million, and the 4.7-km road in the town of Santo Tomas, worth P10 million, provide farmers better access to trading centers where they can sell their farm products. The DAR said better roads will spur economic activities and boost farm production with farmers in far-flung areas being encouraged to do business in agriculture. The projects implemented by the DAR under the Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Support Project are funded by the Government of Japan through the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (Jica). The rehabilitated road in the municipality of Tayug linked seven barangays—composed of Saleng, Evangelista, Panganiban, Lawak, Lichaico, Zamora and Toketek—to the town proper, allowing farmers to bring their produce on their own. The farm-to-market road is reinforced with 79.7-meter vented spillway. The farm-to-market road will benefit the members of the Saleng, Evangelista, Lawak, Lichaico agrarian-reform community (ARC) with 1,117 beneficiaries. In a statement, Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Gabas of Pangasinan lauded the DAR for the roadimprovement project, which is expected to ease transport service even up to far-flung areas. Gabas said that in the past, local residents were forced to walk for a few more kilometers as public-utility vehicles usually cut short their trips due to poor road condition. “With the well-paved road, I am expecting a big turnaround in the economic activities here for the benefit of the local residents and of the community,” she said. Farmers’ travel time to the markets will be reduced, as well as their transportation cost, while students will have an easier time going to and from their schools, Gabas said. In the municipality of Santo Tomas, the farm-to-market road that connects barangays San Antonio and Santo Domingo is located in La Santos ARC will benefit 940 farming families.

Santo Tomas Mayor Timoteo Villar said the farmers are “very happy” with the infrastructure project because they can transport their products to various markets without delay. “They give us this road to make life easier for us, we promise that we will take care of it,” he added. Jica Chief Representative Takahiro Sasaki said his agency, representing the Japanese government, believes that uplifting the living condition of the poor people would help give the rural communities a sense of peace. Sasaki said the road has opened a lot of investment opportunities for the benefit of the local residents and farmers.‐commodities/21049‐jica‐funded‐road‐ projects‐in‐pangasinan‐to‐boost‐farm‐output‐dar                                

Govt urges seafood exporters to follow safety rules Category: Agri-Commodities 18 Oct 2013 FILIPINO exporters of seafood must know like the back of their hand the safety standards of their target destinations to meet the expectations of importers and avoid rejection when products are subjected to strict testing processes. Consider your knowledge of these safety standards as your “passport” to the global marketplace, said Belinda Raymundo, an aquaculturist with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), an agency attached to the Department of Agriculture (DA). “If you are well versed with the standard requirements of the importing country, you will be able to interpret beforehand if your product will pass or fail in the international market,” Raymundo said. She discussed the standard requirements for exporting fish products during the “Seafood Safety and Quality Assurance Seminar” on October 15 in Mandaluyong City. Raymundo said potential exporters should religiously follow international safety standards, since overseas specifications, particularly in Europe and North America, are more thorough and exacting. “Manufacturers and exporters should implement safety measures right from the initial stage— raw-material sourcing—since their efforts may be undermined if the supply used is not fresh,” she added. Products undergo sensory evaluation, with inspectors making assessments based on appearance, including the skin, eyes, flesh and shell; on smell; and on the presence of foreign matter. Besides assessing their sensory characteristics, the Bfar said seafood products also have to undergo microbiological and chemical laboratory testing following established sampling plans and procedures. These include tests for toxins, such as E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Enterococci, Salmonella and Vibro cholerae; heavy metals, such as mercury and cadmium; as well as chemicals, antibiotic residues and dyes. Consuelo Baltazar, supervising aquaculturist at the BFAR who discussed seafood-safety control from farm-to-port, told exporters to conduct comparative studies on which export destinations may have less stringent safety requirements to raise the chances of product acceptance.

In addition, exporters should also look at improving product packaging. Philippine exports are on a par with the best in the world, but they sometimes fall short when it comes to packaging design, said Baltazar. “Review your packaging technology and materials, and evaluate them. Is your packaging attractive and user-friendly? Can it benefit from a redesign? Better packaging can vastly improve the salability of your products,” she said. Exporters and producers can approach the BFAR for technical assistance and updates on guidelines for the successful exportation of seafood. The Philippines is one of the world’s leading fish-producing countries, with seafood exports amounting to $616 million in 2011, according to the BFAR. Tuna is the top export commodity, followed by seaweeds, octopus, shrimps and prawns, and crab.


PHL aims to boost tilapia production Category: Agri-Commodities 18 Oct 2013 Written by norbert CLARK FREEPORT—The Philippines is pushing to increase the production of tilapia in order to meet the global demand. Currently, the Philippines ranks fourth among tilapia-producing countries in the world. Andrew Villacorta, regional director of the Department of Agriculture (DA), who read the message of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala during the opening of the Fourth Tilapia Congress held at the Fontana Convention Center here on Thursday, noted that the Philippines has cornered 8 percent of the total world production of tilapia. The country, Villacorta said, produces 260,935 metric tons (MT) of tilapia, with Central Luzon getting the lion’s share at 44.94 percent in terms of total output. Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Bfar) Director Asis Perez said tilapia is fastbecoming a bumper commodity, adding that it is one among seven commodities whose prices are being monitored in the markets. “From local consumption, it is fast-becoming a global commodity,” said Perez in his speech during the two-day conference, citing tilapia’s potentials in the export industry. The two-day summit tackled the tilapia road map of the Philippines, which was presented in a series of consultations with academe, research institutions, fishpond operators organization, officers of the fisheries society and major suppliers of aquatic products, feeds and fingerlings. Among the speakers are international experts from World Fish, Climate Change Commission and Infofish Trade Promotion. Mabalacat City Mayor Marino Morales, for his part, lauded the DA for implementing “inclusive and sustainable” agriculture and fishery programs, highlighting the agency’s role in food security and lessening the incidences of hunger and malnutrition. “The myriad functions of the Department of Agriculture are wide and encompassing,” said Morales, as he expressed his support to the agency’s programs to uplift the lives and living conditions not only of the farmers but all citizens. PNA

JICA, DAR partner on farm roads by Ellalyn De Vera  October 19, 2013  

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have provided P43.9-million worth of farm-to-market roads to boost the quality of lives of the farmers in Pangasinan. The 13.5-kilometer farm-to-market road in the municipality of Tayug, costing P33.9-million, and the 4.7-kilometer road in the town of Sto. Tomas, worth P10-million, are implemented under the Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Support Project (ARISP), funded by JICA. DAR said the rehabilitated road in the municipality of Tayug has linked seven barangays composed of Saleng, Evangelista, Panganiban, Lawak, Lichaico, Zamora and Toketek to the town proper. This allows farmers to market their produce on their own. The farm-to-market road is also reinforced with 79.7-meter vented spillway. The farm-to-market road is located in Saleng, Evangelista, Lawak, Lichaico (SELL) agrarian reform community (ARC) with 1,117 actual beneficiaries. Pangasinan Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Gabas said local residents used to walk for few more kilometers as public utility vehicles usually cut short their trips due to poor road condition. “With the well-paved road, I am expecting a big turn around in the economic activities here for the benefit of the local residents and of the community,” she said. “Farmers’ travel time to the markets will be reduced as well as their transportation cost, while students will have an easier time going to and from their schools,” she added. In the municipality of Sto. Tomas, the farm-to-market road that connects barangays San Antonio and Sto. Domingo is located in La Santos ARC with about 940 families benefitting from it. Sto. Tomas Mayor Timoteo Villar said the farmers are very happy with the infrastructure project because they can transport their products to various markets without delay. JICA Chief Representative Takahiro Sasaki expressed belief that uplifting the living condition of the poor people would help give the rural communities a sense of peace. Sasaki also said the road has opened a lot of investment opportunities for the benefit of the local residents and farmers.

Senate mulls over P150-B additional capital for BSP Category: Top News 18 Oct 2013 THE Senate is set to legislate an increase in capitalization of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)—from P50 billion to P200 billion—in order to allow the central bank to respond more effectively to challenges facing the country’s financial condition. “We have to support the BSP in its constitutional mandate of ensuring a competitive, robust and inclusive economy,” Senate President Franklin Drilon said after filing Senate Bill 1865. Drilon said the proposed additional capitalization and other amendments to the BSP charter are expected to “enhance its capability to perform its roles in protecting the savings of depositors, ensuring the smooth flow of transactions in the financial market, and enhancing the corporate viability of the BSP.” It would also exempt the BSP from all types of taxes. Sources said the bill contains all the proposals contained in a BSP draft that was forwarded to the Senate for sponsorship. By increasing its capitalization to P200 billion, the BSP would be able to respond to the challenges and innovations of a globalized economy, Drilon said. An empowered BSP fosters a financial system that delivers a high quality of life for Filipinos, the Senate chief added. The proposed capitalization would be three times higher than the P50 billion provided in the current BSP charter; the government shall pay the P150-billion additional capitalization in three consecutive annual installments, Drilon said. Drilon said the proposed amendments would focus on areas that would enhance BSP’s capability in fulfilling its primary objective of maintaining price stability conducive to a balanced and sustainable growth of the economy. “Aside from the additional capital buildup, the proposed new charter will expand the BSP’s regulatory function to include credit-card companies, money changers, e-money issuers, remittance agents, payments and settlement system operators,” he said. Under Drilon’s proposal, the Bangko Sentral shall “oversee the payments and settlements system in the Philippines in accordance with sound and prudent practice.” The bill provides that the BSP shall also have the power to obtain information for supervisory purposes on transactions between a supervised institution and a parent or other affiliate companies, “and the authority to look into the main activities of companies affiliated with the parent companies that have a material impact on the safety and soundness of the bank and the banking group.”

Drilon said the measure would likewise strengthen the BSP’s monetary-stability function by restoring its authority to issue negotiable certificates of indebtedness even during normal times, a power granted to the old Central Bank of the Philippines, but was not included in the current BSP charter. He added that the bill also seeks to boost BSP’s financial stability function by enhancing BSP’s supervisory authority and providing legal protection for BSP officials when performing official duties.

‘Big Data’ won’t replace govt statistics–NSCB Category: Nation 18 Oct 2013 Written by Cai U. Ordinario WHILE the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) recognizes that “Big Data” is here to stay, the agency says it will not be enough to replace official data used in government planning and policy-making. In his StatFocus online column, NSCB Secretary- General Jose Ramon Albert said Big Data, which comes in big volumes and produced at “high velocity” through databases, is still wrought with privacy issues. Nonetheless, Albert said this does not mean that the Philippine Statitistical System (PSS) should not use Big Data. He said the PSS could be more forward- looking and open to using Big Data. “While I have often said that statistics tell a story, in the case of Big Data, the story we get may not be very clear, especially as each piece of information is not given weights. While it is clear that Big Data is here to stay, it should also be clear that the data revolution does not mean the end of official statistics,” Albert said. “Statistical systems such as the PSS are merely challenged to come up with better statistics for a better society. The challenge is for the PSS to be more forward- looking and open to making use of non-traditional data sources, such as Big Data,” he said. Albert said to use Big Data, efforts must be exerted to “identify legal protocols” and make “institutional arrangements” that will allow the PSS to use Big Data. He added that privacy issues of Big Data should also be addressed to prevent its misuse. “Capacity building will also be required for the PSS and its partners to harness Big Data, and so that the official statistics community can help identify ‘signals’ within ‘noise,’ certify quality and, ultimately, decipher truth from falsehood, so that in this country, statistics can truly matter to every Filipino,” Albert said. Owing to the increased availability of online sources and mobile Internet access for many around the world, Albert said “the world’s capacity to collect data is reported to double every 40 months since the 1980s, with about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being created per day in 2012.” The resulting information is what is called Big Data, which is characterized by the 3Vs— volume, velocity and variety. Big Data is now creating business opportunities in rich countries and it will only take a matter of time before countries like the Philippines will be able to catch up.

Examples of Big Data include Google’s real-time flu tracker called “Google Flu Trends,” which monitors people’s online searches for terms relating to illness and mapping that data with the US Centers for Disease Control. Albert also added that studies have also highlighted that Google is now experimenting on using a real-time tracker for “Dengue Trends” and it has made attempts to examine Web searches and correlate them with actual sales, such as car sales. Further, Albert said a UN Global Pulse reports of studies made tracking tweets in twitter accounts in Jakarta regarding the high prices of rice, and correlating such information with the actual price of rice, as well as examining mobile-phone usage with traffic in Jakarta. “These case studies show the vast amounts of potentials of Big Data, but there are also issues regarding the realization of these potentials, especially in developing countries,” Albert said. But because mobile penetration in countries worldwide is still low and uneven, technological and analytical disparities may become a downside in using big data.

Aquino: 80% of Pinoys can reach middle class in 15 years By Louis Bacani ( | Updated October 18, 2013 ‐ 2:22pm 

President Benigno S. Aquino III addresses the Korean Business Community at the Grand Ballroom of the  Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seoul during his State Visit to the Republic of Korea on Friday (October 18). Korea is  one of the Philippines’ major investment and trade partners and remains the country’s top source of  tourists. Benhur Arcayan/Malacañang Photo Bureau 

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III claimed on Friday that a huge majority of Filipinos could reach the middle class status in the next several years if the country sustains its economic growth. "Studies foresee that in the next fifteen years or so, four out of five Filipinos can hit middle class status if we continue on our current trajectory," Aquino said in a speech during his state visit in South Korea. Aquino also said the country will enter a "demographic sweet spot" in 2015 when the bulk of Filipinos hit the working age. He said such situation that is conducive to business will remain for the next 40 years.

Also by 2019, the Philippines will enetr another sweet spot when gross domestic product per capita will hit around 6,000 dollars. "This middle income sweet spot means a more empowered consumer base, as proven by other countries that hit an inflection point in the buying power of their citizens," Aquino said. The President made these statements before the members of the business community in South Korea as he tries to attract them to invest in the country. "There is a rising tide in the Philippines, fueled by a growing segment of the population that has the skills to drive businesses, and the spending power to spur profits. Today, we invite you to ride this wave: To invest in the Philippines and become part of our country’s continued success," Aquino said. He said some Korean companies who are already in the Philippines can attest to the opportunities here. "These companies have found success in the Philippines, and can truly say that it’s not just more fun in the Philippines; it is also more profitable," Aquino said.

FDA warns public on ‘fake Centrum’ by Raymund F. Antonio  October 19, 2013  

Manila, Philippines – Is Centrum or Centrum Silver your brand of multivitamins? If yes, beware. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found a pharmacy website selling fake Centrum and Centrum Silver, the multivitamin and mineral tablets of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. FDA issued a warning that buying the fake multivitamins may pose health hazards to the consuming public. In Advisory No. 2013-043, FDA said the office has monitored that the counterfeit products are being “advertised, sold, or offered for sale online through Beeconomic Philippines Inc., owned and operated by Groupon Philippines.” “The products are counterfeit as defined by Republic Act 8203, or the Special Law on Counterfeit Drugs, and the establishments are violating the provisions of RA 9711, or the FDA Act of 2009,” the FDA said. Under the law, the “manufacture, importation, exportation, sale, offering for sale, distribution, transfer, or retail of any drug product by any natural juridical person without the License to Operate (LTO) from the FDA” is prohibited. The fake multivitamin and mineral tablets came to the FDA’s attention when it noticed that its labels differ from those being sold by Pfizer. “The counterfeit products do not bear the FDA Certificate of Product Registration Number and do not contain the same formulation approved by the FDA,” it said. FDA said the counterfeit products do not carry the complete name and address of the manufacturer and/or distributor as required by the FDA. FDA said the vitamins were fake if “the font size of the generic name multivitamin + mineral is not in conformity with the labeling requirements of RA 6675 or the Generics Law of 1988 which requires that the generic name should at least be one point size bigger than the brand name.” With the proliferation of these counterfeit multivitamins and mineral tablets, FDA advised consumers to buy their medicines only from licensed establishments and outlets.

Bill to make Ecija mining‐free by Ellson Quismorio  October 19, 2013  

A lawmaker has moved to declare Nueva Ecija as a mining-free zone in order to protect and save lives, the environment and the immensely huge potentials of his home province. To achieve this, Rep. Joseph Violago (2nd district, Nueva Ecija) filed House Bill 2816, which would prohibit mining operations in the entire province of Nueva Ecija. Under the proposal, violators shall be penalized with a 12-year imprisonment and fined P500,000. Violago said Nueva Ecija has always been proud of its historical role in the nation’s struggle for freedom and independence from colonizers, its nationalist patriots, its current tag as the “rice granary of the country” and as one of the top leading producers of onions, garlic, mango, calamansi and vegetables. In June 2008, the province received the title “Milk Capital of the Philippines,” the solon said, with Nueva Ecija producing more milk from both cows and carabaos than any other place in the Philippines. Violago said rich mineral deposits like copper and manganese could also be found in Nueva Ecija especially in the municipalities of General Tinio, Carranglan and Pantabangan. “Sadly, stories that the hills and mountains of Carranglan and Palayan City produce gold, have lured many unscrupulous and irresponsible miners in the province, with their operations, threatening to destroy more of the province’s natural resources, its two big watersheds, the land’s fertility and the integrity of its forests, wildlife, rivers, streams and rice fields,” he pointed out. “Amidst its fast increasing role in the economic growth of the country and of the nation’s food security, it is necessary to declare the entire province a mining-free zone,” stressed Violago. Violago said the province also prides itself with many historical and tourism spots and colorful festivals such as Taong Putik, Licab, Baybayanting, Tanduyong, Araquio, Tsinelas and rice festivals.

NPA destroys rubber farm by Camcer Ordonez Imam  October 19, 2013  

Cagayan De Oro City — Communist rebels reportedly cut down newly planted rubber trees and uprooted 7,196 seedlings of rubber in Sitio Cagburao, Barangay Bacolod, Cagwait, Surigao del Sur, last October 14, a belated report here said yesterday. Around 15 New People’s Army (NPA) rebels belonging to the Guerilla Front 19B ravaged the plantation of the Bacolod Upland Farmers Association around 1:30 p.m., said Capt. Christian Uy, spokesman of the 4th Infantry Division. Later the same day at around 11 p.m. the band of rebels uprooted 7,196 rubber trees and seedlings at the nursery, said Uy, who condemned the act as a bid to purposely disrupt the economic operation of the barangay. The destroyed seedlings were part of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ regreening program and poverty alleviation project.

Indonesian investors eyeing palm oil plantation in Agusan Del Sur by Mike Crismundo  October 19, 2013  

Patin-ay, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur — Indonesian investors are planning a multi-million investment in palm oil trees, eying a 60,000 hectares plantation in this fast-rising agriculturalrich province in Northeastern Mindanao. This plan was revealed after the investment teams from two Indonesian government-owned and controlled companies spent the entire of last week inspecting target areas. The team of PT Perkebunan Nusantara (PTPN) and Pertamina made a personal visit in the province for an investment mission. The visiting investors are eyeing to expand Indonesia’s palm oil industry in the Philippines, utilizing rich-idle lands in the hinterlands in order that they become productive. The Indonesian investment team is looking for wider areas in an effort to hit their target from an initial 30,000 hectares and another additional 30,000 hectares for the period of 10 years. At present, Agusan del Sur has only an estimated 25,000 hectares planted with palm oil trees and most of these are located in the southern part of the province. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI-13) said Caraga Region is a very promising area of plantations, with 384,000 hectares of agricultural land to offer. Agusan del Sur Gov. Adolph Edward G. Plaza expressed his delight over the investment plan of the Indonesian investors. “Investment is the economic driver of the provinces’ continuing development and economic growth,” he said. In their investments sorties here, the Indonesians also surveyed the status of lands, transport and communication, infrastructures, extension of plantation, shape of the region’s climate, availability of labor, administration’s demographic data, public facilities, peace and order, culture and the like. PTPN Director for Planning and Development Memed Wiraminardja said the other purpose of the team in coming to the province is the procedure for the acquisition of oil palm plantation with Philippines’ interested party and other key areas of concern for ground preparation.

Indonesia to invest in Agusan’s palm oil by Mike Crismundo  October 19, 2013  

PROSPERIDAD, Agusan del Sur – Indonesian investors from two of its government-owned and controlled companies are planning to invest in a 60,000 hectares palm oil plantation in the province to further increase productivity. The team of PT Perkebunan Nusantara (PTPN) and Pertamina made the personal visit in the province for its investment mission Friday. The visiting investors are eyeing to expand Indonesia’s palm oil industry in the Philippines to hit its 10 year target 60,000 hectares.Currently, Agusan del Sur has only an estimated 25,000 hectares of palm oil trees and most of these are located in the southern part of the province. According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI-13), Caraga Region is a very potential area for plantation as it has over 384,000 hectares of land to offer.Agusan del Sur Gov. Adolph Edward G. Plaza expressed his delight on the investment plan saying “investment is the economic driver of the provinces’ continuing development and economic growth.” The Indonesian investors also surveyed the status of lands, transport and communication, infrastructures, extension of plantation, shape of the region’s climate, availability of labor, administration’s demographic data, public facilities, peace and order, and culture. PTPN Director for Planning and Development Memed Wiraminardja said that one of its purpose in visiting the province is to make the procedure and preparation for the acquisition of oil palm plantation with any interested party. Meanwhile, Alma Argayoso, Philippine Attache to Jakarta, Indonesia said this move of the Indonesian government is one of the products of President Benigno S. Aquino’s attendance to the APEC summit where he offered the potential investment areas of the country in order to bring in investment for agriculture and tourism which can benefit people in far flung areas. “Caraga Region is a very potential area for plantation all over the country,” Argayoso added. Agusan del Sur Vice Governor Santiago Cane also welcomed the Indonesian team , saying “investment is the spark plug of development in the province.” “In fact, we in Agusan del Sur had legislated an Investment Code where I authored way back in 1998 during my first term as member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. We have done this because we are protective of the investments here in Agusan del Sur while protecting our environment. We are doing this in order to fully observe and implement the laws in order to maintain ecological balance and to align it to investment,” he added.

Celebration: Lanzones Festival October 19, 2013  

The 34th Lanzones Festival is being held on October 20-27, 2013, in Mambajao, Camiguin, in Northern Mindanao. It is a four-day grand celebration of the island-province’s harvest of sweet lanzones fruit, highlighted by a tableau of local culture and a parade of lanzones (buahan), the delicious, golden fruit that abundantly grows in backyards of local folks. The lively festival is Camiguin’s way of giving thanks to a bountiful harvest not only for lanzones but for other agricultural produce, as well as its contribution to the promotion of the region of Mindanao as an emerging cultural and tourism hub. Popularly called “Buahanan 2013,” the festival centers on the lanzones, the main source of income for the people of Camiguin. The fruit ripens sometime in the third week of October. It is said that the sweetest lanzones comes from the province, comparable with those harvested in the Province of Laguna. Like the Pahiyas of Quezon province, every house, building, street pole, vehicle, and even people in Mambajao are elaborately draped with lanzones fruit and leaves during the festival. Camiguingnons dance on the streets to recall the legend that a beautiful maiden (diwata) once visited the province, removed the fruit’s bitter flavor and replaced it with sweet luscious taste. Local and foreign visitors flock to the province to join the parade and pageant. Among the activities lined up are agro-industrial techno trade fair, trek to the summit of Mt. Hibok-Hibok, open lawn tennis tournament for men, annual search for Mutya Sa Buahanan (Miss Camiguin Tourism), rondalla and folk dance contest, jobs fair, farm tour and lanzones picking, street dancing, sports events, tableau presentation featuring Camiguingnons in native attire, and an Oktoberfest. A popular destination, Camiguin is referred to as “Island of Your Imagination” because of its volcanoes, waterfalls, springs, beaches, historic ruins, and colorful sunsets, but its come-on to local and foreign tourists is the Lanzones Festival held every third week of October in the town of Mambajao. We congratulate the Province of Camiguin, headed by Governor Jurdin Jesus M. Romualdo, Vice Governor James A. Ederango, Mambajao Mayor Maria Luisa D. Romualdo and Vice Mayor Roldan A. Chan, and its Officials and Residents, for holding the 34th Lanzones Festival in celebration and thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest and for showcasing how the province and its people value their major produce and source of livelihood in our Republic of the Philippines. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY!

BSP seen to hold rates until Q1 By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 19, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) may not need to adjust current policy settings until the first quarter of next year, a member of the central bank’s policymaking Monetary Board said yesterday. “There is no need to change policy settings and even SDA (special deposit accounts) rates for the rest of the year and probably until the first quarter of next year,” Felipe Medalla, a member of the Monetary Board, told reporters. Medalla explained that his view is on account of manageable inflation expectations despite expected uptick in domestic liquidity. “Inflation rate is now slightly below target and can inch up a bit as liquidity increases because of the SDA adjustments,” Medalla pointed out. Overnight borrowing and lending rates are at 3.5 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively, since the start of the year. The rates have been kept steady amid a robust economy that already expanded by 7.6 percent in the first half supported by a benign inflation environment. Inflation has so far averaged 2.8 percent in the first nine months of the year, below the BSP’s target of three to five percent. The rate is expected to remain within target despite a foreseen rise in domestic liquidity due to adjustments in the central bank’s SDA facility. M3, the broadest measure of domestic liquidity, has been rising by more than 30 percent for July and August, owed to money flushed out of the SDA facility.

Santi‐affected banks get regulatory relief By Kathleen Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 19, 2013 ‐ 12:00am   

MANILA, Philippines - Banks affected by Typhoon Santi which hit the country earlier this month will be granted regulatory relief by the central bank, a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) official said. BSP Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo told reporters late Thursday the central bank’s policy-making Monetary Board has approved relief measures for banks located in areas battered by Typhoon Santi. The BSP grants temporary relief to banks affected by typhoons to ease their financial burden and also assist their customers in the process. Typhoon Santi, which devastated Luzon from Oct. 8 to 13, killed 15 individuals and displaced at least 14,684 families, according to a National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council report dated Oct. 16. Damage to agriculture has amounted to P3.172 billion, while damage to infrastructure summed up to P114.473 million. In August, the BSP has granted temporary regulatory relief to banks affected by Typhoon Labuyo and by southwest monsoon enhanced by Tropical Storm Maring during that month. Relief measures granted during that month included the exclusion of existing loans from the computation of past due ratios so long as these are restructured, and the non-imposition of penalties on legal reserves deficiencies.

BIR falls short of 9‐month target By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 19, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) fell short of its collection target in the first nine months of the year despite a notable 21 percent increase in the tax take in September. In a report, the BIR said tax revenues reached P86.03 billion in September, 21 percent or P15.03 billion higher than the P71 billion raised a year ago. While this brings total tax collections for the first nine months of the year to P898 billion, or 16 percent higher than last year’s tax take, the BIR failed to hit its P931 billion collection target for the first nine months of the year. The BIR is targeting to collect P1.25 trillion this year. In September alone, collections from BIR operations expanded 20.75 percent to P81.76 billion while revenues from non-BIR operations grew 28.4 percent to P4.27 billion. Non-BIR operations refer to the taxes collected by the state from government securities issued by the Bureau of Treasury. Collections by the BIR regional offices stood at P32.84 billion or 29.18 percent more than the previous year. Collections of the large taxpayers unit likewise went up 20.75 percent to P48.93 billion. This is the second month in a row that the BIR collections grew by more than 20 percent. The BIR has seen double-digit growth rates in collections in the past several months partly due to its intensified campaign against tax evaders. Its goal is to hit P1.64 trillion in annual tax collections by 2015 or double the P822.62 million collected in 2010. It likewise wants to increase the ratio of tax collections to GDP (gross domestic product) to 16 percent by the end of President Aquino’s term in 2016.For this year, the BIR aims to boost its tax effort to 13.5 percent from 12.8 percent in 2012. Tax effort is defined as a measure of the extent to which a country makes use of its taxable capacity.To bring more people into the tax net, the BIR continues to conduct audits with particular focus on professionals such as (doctors, accountants and lawyers), and self-employed businessmen.

Rice row over; PNoy rules out importation October 19, 2013  

The controversy surrounding rice importation is over. President Aquino has ruled out any rice importation this year after meeting with Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala and Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan. Alcala said a recent meeting with the President and the director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) yielded an agreement that no such importation should be made for the rest of the year and that any foreign procurement of the commodity after 2013 would be made only after determining its necessity based on a full assessment of the country’s stock position. “That (stock position next year) we would know from the volume of harvests in the remaining months of 2013,” Alcala said, citing optimism that it might even exceed the 2012 figures and post another historic high. The 2012 volume of palay production soared to a record high of 18.03 million metric tons, or 8.0 percent more than the previous year’s. So did corn production, posting a six-percent year-on-year increase to an unprecedented volume of 7.41 million mt in 2012. Asked what convinced the NEDA to soften up on its demand for a 500,000-mt importation to ensure sufficient rice supply, Alcala simply cited the “farmers’ welfare and interest.” Long advocating against rice importation as a disincentive to farmers and the national pursuit of rice sufficiency, Alcala warns that they may just give up and shift to other means of livelihood. He cited as example the ageing and dwindling population of farmers, particularly in the rice sector. “The situation could only be reversed if we raised the proficiency, productivity and profitability of rice farming and other areas of agricultural production and enterprise,” Alcala stressed. “That’s why the DA (Department of Agriculture) is doing its best to protect the rice farmers from unscrupulous traders who try to keep their control of the commodity from both ends of the supply chain,” Alcala said, citing it as reason for the artificial shortages and the resulting price hikes being experienced by consumers. “Rice cartels are inclined to do that (price manipulation) to increase profits because the margin in rice trading is quite thin under normal circumstances,” Alcala explained. “So even at this early, we are opening up new markets, particularly for rice export,” Alcala added.

The Philippines is now exporting fancy rice to widen the farmers’ market options and keep them in the industry, while developing a hedge or an equalizer against dollar outflow from importation. Thus, the continuous decline in rice importation has been saving the country billions of dollars in foreign exchange, amounting to $1.4 billion in 2012 and an estimated $1.8 billion in 2013. From a total rice import volume of 2,399,403 mt in 2010, the DA has steadily reduced it to only 1,063,985 mt in 2011, 688,559 mt in 2012, and 208,600 mt as of last July 18. For the very first time, there was zero importation by the private sector during that almost 7month period in 2013. In terms of actual arrivals, rice importation by the government through the National Food Authority dropped steeply from 2,149,096 mt in 2010 to only 251,300 mt in 2011, 119,776 mt in 2012, and 205,700 as of July 18, 2013. Nonetheless, traders may import up to 350,000 mt after 2013 in keeping with the country’s Minimum Access Volume (MAV) commitment to the World Trade Organization as provided in the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade.

Organic farming expands By Anna Leah G. Estrada | Posted on October 19, 2013 at 12:01am | 50 views

The Agriculture Department said Friday more farmers are now shifting to organic farming. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said over the last three years, organic production area increased by more than three folds, or from 4,415 hectares in 2011 to 17,724 hectares this year. “We are determined to speed up the spread of organic farming in the country to meet the targeted 5-percent conversion by 2016,” Alcala said. He said the passage of Republic Act 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 recognized the urgency of shifting to a more sustainable organic and ecological agriculture model. “Organic agriculture aims to promote safe and nutritional foods for farmers and consumers and also a way to fight global warming and the destruction of our environment,” he said. Alcala said despite the huge increase in the number of organic farming practitioners, most of the farmers only had first and second-party certification. “We are encouraging third-party certification because after the extended moratorium on the labeling of organic products, only third-party certified products will be allowed to use the organic label as mandated by RA 10068,” Alcala said.‐farming‐expands/            

Tax collection jumps 21% By Jennifer Ambanta | Posted on October 19, 2013 at 12:01am | 41 views

Tax collections by the Bureau of Internal Revenue jumped 21 percent year-on-year to P86 billion in September. “This is the second month in a row that the BIR collections grew by more than 20 percent,” the agency said. The BIR said collections from its operations amounted to P81.76 billion in September, up by 20.7 percent from a year ago while collections from non-BIR operations increased 28.4 percent to P4.27 billion. Collections by regional offices in September amounted to P32.84 billion, up by 29 percent in the same period last year. It said collections by the large taxpayers service reached P48.93 billion, up by 20.7 percent from a year ago.‐collection‐jumps‐21/                        

Save the trees By Manila Standard Today | Posted on October 19, 2013 at 12:00am | 26 views

Safety officer Thomas Geronimo (second from left) of Manila North Tollways Corp. supervises contractors as they earth-ball an Indian mast tree along Marcelo Street, Valenzuela City on the 2.4-kilometer Segment 9 of the North Luzon ExpresswayHarbor Link project. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources requires trees with a diameter of 15 cm or less must be earth-balled then replanted at a designated site. NLEX is compliant with DENR policy, ensuring proper identification of trees to be earth-balled and turning them over to the agency for transplanting in Balagtas, Bulacan. The DENR also requires 100 seedlings to be planted for every transplanted tree.‐the‐trees/          

Gas supply stable By Manila Standard Today | Posted on October 19, 2013 at 12:00am | 21 views

Motorists in the Visayas region have been assured by Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. of stable supply of fuel products to serve their requirements despite the recent 7.2magnitude earthquake. Shell retail stations in these areas have reopened since October 16. Bobby Kanapi, Pilipinas Shell vice president for communications, said that the uninterrupted supply will ensure smarter use of fuel products and enhance mobility of relief operations to deliver goods and services to affected communities. Shell is donating P1 million each to media organizations ABS-CBN Foundation and the GMA Kapuso Foundation, Kanapi said. It has also mobilized all of its more than 900 retail stations around the country to serve as collection points for in-kind donations. As part of employee volunteerism, Shell’s workforce of 4,000 staff have been asked to start the donation drive.‐supply‐stable/                        

Solon seeks blood-type ID By Maricel Cruz | Posted on October 19, 2013 at 12:01am | 193 views

A bill has been filed in the House of Representatives requiring all government agencies have the blood type of citizens included in their official documents to allow for quick action or transfusion response during medical emergencies. House Bill 403, Tarlac Rep. Susan Yap said that this blood-type info will mean life or death in unlikely situations. Otherwise known as the “Blood Type Identification Act of 2013, the proposal covers government-issued identification documents such as certificate of live birth, community tax certificate issued by the Local Treasurer’s Office, driver’s licenses, professional licenses issued by the Professional Regulation Commission, firearms licenses, Social Security System cards, Government Service Insurance System cards and passports.‐seeks‐blood‐type‐id/                          

Victims cry for help as relief goods run out By Francisco Tuyay | Posted on October 19, 2013 at 12:08am | 431 views The death toll from the 7.1-magnitude earthquake that struck Central Visayas and parts of Mindanao four days ago climbed to 172 on Friday, amid concerns that supplies are fast running out for the affected residents.

Bohol, a major tourist destination in the country, suffered the most with 160 people dead. Eleven died in Cebu and one from Siquijor. Bohol police commander Senior Superintendent Dennis Agustin said 22 people remained missing, including five children who were playing by a waterfall when the quake hit.

Road closed. Workers from the Department of Public Works and Highways (above and inset) check out a road in Cantam-is village in Bohol that was damaged by a killer earthquake on Oct. 15. AFP “Some are believed buried under landslides, some are under fallen structures. We will likely get more reports of deaths,� he said. Government and aid groups have been rushing to deliver assistance to the affected areas, but travel has been hampered by the bridges and roads which had been rendered impassable by the quake. Residents complain that the food supplies have dwindled, even as rescuers were rushing to reach isolated towns in Bohol.

They said that they had been without potable water, rice and food supplies, as the relief were slow in coming. In Tubigon, Bohol, for instance, some residents painted the word “HELP” along the highway to draw attention to their plight. In Clarin town, Mayor Allen Piezas said relief goods had failed to reach his municipality since day one and the water ration was quickly running out. “We have not received any substantial food supplies,” said Piezas. In Antequera, a town with a population of 14,481, almost 85 percent of the area was devastated by the strong quake with 9,921 persons directly affected. But the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said that at least 5,000 pounds of relief goods coming from the Social and Welfare Department was flown Friday by a C-130 cargo plane to Tagbi-laran, Bohol. At least 676,065 families or 3,426.718 from 1,285 villages in Bohol and Cebu were affected by the strong quake while only 162,566 individuals who are staying inside evacuation centers had received assistance from government agencies. Relief efforts were slowed down by the rainy weather, even as weather forecasters said that a tropical storm, (international name Francisco) was seen moving towards the country. Forecaster Alvin Pura said the cyclone would likely enter the Philippine territory early Sunday or Monday morning, and would be renamed “Urduja when it enteres the PAR. “Urduja” would be the fourth cyclone to enter the country this month and the 21st for the year. But Pura assured the public that like “Tino,” Urduja is forecast to stay inside the PAR in less than 48 hours. It was also not expected to hit land, since it would only pass along the “corner” of the PAR off east of Northern Luzon.

Weather forecasters added that the climate would be colder in the coming days as the Christmas season approaches, especially in Luzon following the onset of the northern monsoon, or “hanging amihan.” The ‘amihan’ are cold winds from Siberia that blows into the country, usually from mid-October until mid-February. It replaces the southwest monsoon or ‘habagat,’ the prevailing weather system in the country from June to early October or during the rainy season. Aside from the rain, affected residents remained wary of possible aftershocks. A total of 1,500 aftershocks had been recorded since the quake jolted Bohol and Cebu on Tuesday. Rescue and rehabilitation were also slowed down by damaged roads and bridges. At least 35 bridges were damaged, 22 of them currently not passable in various parts of Bohol, Cebu and Negros Occidental. The NDRRMMC said the total cost of te damage to roads, bridges and flood control system could reach up to P564 million. The Armed Forces of the Philippines, meanwhile, said that it deployed in full force its various units to bring relief goods, especially potable water, to isolated areas in Bohol. The rescue units include water sanitation teams which would help source out potable water in evacuation areas, the AFP Public Information Office said. Three Navy vessels also departed Friday afternoon to transport assorted relief goods. The AFP Central Command also deployed a total of 233 trucks to help in the clearing, evacuation and other humanitarian assistance operations in gravely affected areas. In other developments, the Coast Guard sent two ships to deliver relief goods in badly-affected areas in Bohol. Rear Admiral Luis Tuason Jr., Coast Guard vice commandant for operation, said that the BRP-Corregidor and the 35-meter Romblon (SARV-3502) were deployed

to deliver the more than 10,000 sacks of family food packs provided by the DSWD in coordination with the US AID and World Food Program. Tuason said the Coast Guard will also dispatch K-9 units capable of searching people that were trapped under the ruins of destroyed structures. In Manila, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority sent a fourth rescue team to Bohol. Chairman Francis Tolentino said the fourth team led by Corazon Agulan, is composed of 10 trained rescuers to augment the 26 agency personnel who were earlier sent to Bohol a few hours after the quake. At least three K-9 dogs and underground camera sensors were also sent to equip agency’s rescue teams. The MMDA search teams had rescued 60 persons alive, including 10 elderly, three babies and 21 children, from a remote mountain area in Tan-awan, Loon, Bohol. Meanwhile, doctors in Loon town said they may have to perform surgeries in open-air operating tables in a hospital carpark after the quake also damaged several hospitals in the province. Patients waited to be operated on in the parking lot, their beds sheltered under makeshift tents because the main building was already filled with injured survivors. With Florante Solmerin, Joel Zurbano, Rio N. Araja and AFP‐cry‐for‐help‐as‐relief‐goods‐run‐out/               

PhilHealth turns deaf ear to howl vs bonus By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Posted on October 19, 2013 at 12:09am | 466 views

PhilHealth rejected on Friday a public clamor to return the P1.5 billion bonuses and allowances the agency released to officials and employees in 2012, and senior officials insisted they were “above board and neither irregular or extravagant. PhilHealth President Alex Padilla said the amount was not all bonuses and allowances because it also included the budget for maintenance and operating expenses of the agency, which provide medical insurance to millions of Filipinos, including indigents. “We will justify our actions in a letter we will send to the Commission on Audit (COA),” Padilla said. COA has disasllowed the bonuses and allowances and demanded a refund. It gave PhilHealth until mid-November to comply and respond to every point raised by auditors in their findings. PhilHealth has 81 million members and 5,806 workforce. Members pay P1,200 annual premium in exchange for 30 percent coverage of hospital bills. PhilHealth Vice President for Corporate Affairs Israel Francis Pargas said the bonuses were legal and assured members that the agency has been prudent in handling their contributions. Esperanza Ocampo, PhilHealth Workers’ Union President, appealed for public sympathy and said the employees were demoralized by questions raised over the bonuses, which they deserved because of their hard work. “We have been working here for a long time. This is the first time we figured in this kind of issue. We are demoralized,” Ocampo said. She said salaries of PhilHealth employees were low compared with other agencies and they depend on their benefits and bonuses to pay for their loans, school tuition and other expenses. But Council for Health and Development (CHD) executive director Eleonor Jara described the bonuses as “insensitive and deplorably immoral” and said the money

should have been used to finance free health ser-vices and medicines in public hospitals. “While thousands of PhilHealth members agonize in pain over disallowed reimbursements and limited coverage, their officials, employees and contractors received P1.448 billion in 2012 …. despite a P3.8 billion shortfall in reserve fund requirement,” Jara said. Kilos Bayan Para sa Kalusugan (KBK) spokesman Albert Pascual demanded that the officials return the money, which he described as “scandalous and unjust” because millions of Filipinos did not received medical treatment due to poverty. “It is the height of insensitivity to enjoy billions in bonuses in the face of a new increase in premiums,” Pascual said. PhilHealth has announced that the P1,2000 annual premium will be doubled for ordinary members and for overseas workers, it will increase from P900 monthly to P2,400 annually. Members of the PhilHealth Board of Directors, who received bonus of P1.2 million each, are Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Chairman; and the following are members: Civil Service Commission head Francisco Du-que, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, Alexander Padilla (employer sector), Alexander Ayco (Labor Sector), Jane Sta. Ana (Overseas Workers), GSIS President Robert Vergara, Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, Juan Flavier (Health Care Providers), Francisco Lopez (Self-employed Sector), SSS President Emilio de Quiros, Marlon Manuel, vice chairperson. Baldoz and De Quiros were also members of the SSS board, which has been criticized of granting P1 million bonus to board members despite the poor performance of the agency based on findings of COA. Baldoz declined to accept the SSS bonus because of her status as ex-officio member. De Quiros, who is also ex-officio member, declined to return his bonus and insisted that he deserved it.‐turns‐deaf‐ear‐to‐howl‐vs‐bonus/

PNoy takes potshot at Arroyo for PH woes By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted on October 19, 2013 at 12:14am | 1,675 views

President Benigno Aquino III again blamed his predecessor for the economic problems that he said he inherited as he urged Korean businessmen to invest in the Philippines. Speaking before the Korea International Trade Association, Aquino cited the case of the National Food Authority, whose debt ballooned from P12 billion in 2001 to P177 billion when former President Gloria Arroyo stepped down in 2010. “My predecessor had us believe that the country needed to import 1.3 million metric tons of rice every year. In 2010 alone, to address this, they allowed the importation of 2.5 million metric tons, and actually imported 2 million metric tons of rice—grossly in excess of what was needed, overpriced, and finally with many sacks of rice ending up rotting unconsumed in warehouses,” Aquino said. But Aquino was quick to appropriate Arroyo’s conditional cash transfer program as his administration’s “flagship project.” “From 800,000 families when we stepped in, now, almost 4 million families are being given the opportunity to improve their lives because of this program. All these, we did without raising taxes,” he said. Mr. Aquino told the Korean investors that the good governance reforms he has instituted have resulted in a better business climate in the Philippines. “Since my administration took office in July of 2010, my country has seen a large-scale turnaround in its fortunes—from being called the Sick Man of Asia, to being referred to as the New Asian Tiger, or as Asia’s Bright Spot. This drastic transformation is anchored on a simple idea—the same idea that our people voted for in the 2010 national elections: If we eliminate corruption, we can end poverty,” he said. In the open forum portion of his meeting with KITA members, Aquino told the Korean businessmen that he is not for tampering with the 1987 Constitution but he is open to

reviewing the country’s Foreign Invest-ment Negative List, which limits foreign investments in certain industries. “We’re not looking at revising the Constitution… (but) we are reviewing the items that directly can be changed and we are going to be sponsoring or requesting the legislature to change or amend certain of these provisions to further review that negative list,” he said. He also expressed openness to pursuing a Free Trade Agreement with Korea. “We are very interested in exploring this as well as in joining other FTAs. We do believe that our growth cannot exist in a vacuum with-out our partners,” he said. On Thursday night, Aquino announced that Manila and Seoul have agreed to expedite the Philippines’ purchase of a dozen FA50 fighter jets worth P18.97 billion. In doing so, Mr. Aquino ended speculation that the deal would not push through after a T-50B lead-in jet fighter from the same manufacturer and the same platform as the FA50 crashed off southwestern Gwanju City. “Both sides agreed to try and expedite the arms purchase and the delivery of these planes,” the President said in an interview Thursday evening after his meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-Hye. “There were several models that were looked at by the Philippine Air Force and after all of the negotiations, this is their preference—this Korean lead-in fighter,” Aquino added. The acquisition is part of the P75 billion modernization program for the Armed Forces. During their meeting, Aquino and Park also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation between Manila and Seoul. “The MoU covers various areas, including exchange of defense-related experience and information; exchange of visits by military personnel and experts; military education and training and research and development; logistics maintenance; and humanitarian assistance and international peacekeeping activities, among others,” the President said. “For our part, jungle warfare, I think, would be one of our expertise since we have experience in dealing with insurgencies,” Aquino added.

The agreement, however, does not provide for joint combat training such as the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States and the Status of Forces Agreement with Australia. Aquino is the first leader to make a state visit to Korea since Park took office in February this year. Korea, the third largest economy in Asia, is one of the Philippines’ major investment and trade partners with bilateral trade amounting to $7.408 billion. It has also donated $500,000 for emergency relief to those affected by the earthquake in Bohol and Cebu as well as the displaced families in Zamboanga. Korea is also the country’s top source of tourists reaching more than 1 million in 2012 or nearly a quarter of total tourist arrivals in the Philippines. Aquino also met with the Korean business community to discuss investment opportunities in the light of the Philippine economy’s sustained growth and development. He also conferred the Order of Lakandula on Rep. Jasmine Bacurnay-Lee of the Korean National Assembly. Lee, who hails from Cavite and Davao City, is the first naturalized Korean to be elected to the National Assembly.‐takes‐potshot‐at‐arroyo‐for‐ph‐woes/                

Aquino makes U-turn on nuke plant budget By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on October 19, 2013 at 12:12am | 1,572 views Defyng his Cabinet officials’ advice, President Benigno Aquino III ordered the restoration of the P50-million budget to maintain the mothballed 620-megawatt Bataan Nuclear Power Plant shortly before his state visit to South Korea, which operates 23 nuclear plants. The budget restoration was confirmed by Pangasinan Rep. Kimi Cojuangco, who was officially informed by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, who withdrew his order to the National Power Corp. to recall the personnel in charge of maintaining the facility. Cojuangco said the removal of the maintenance budget would have paved the way for the permanent closure of the plant in 2014. Cojuangco said Abad had told her that the President’s order was made while the President was in Zamboanga supervising the siege on Moro rebels there. Lidy Nacpil, lead convenor of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice and vice president of the Freedom from Debt Coalition, and Francis dela Cruz of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, protested the budget restora-tion. “We have been demanding that the BNPP be decommissioned a long time ago. We are only being saddled with a totally useless and dangerous nuclear plant,” Nacpil told the Manila Standard. Nacpil said there was no technology that could ensure the safety of the plant, citing the recent Fukushima tragedy in Japan as a result of the tsunami that hit the country two years ago. Cojuangco’s BNPP bill in the 15th Congress had already garnered the support of some 197 congressmen when the nuclear plant accident in Fukushima, Japan occurred. “No one died from the Fukushima nuclear plant accident. We have learned a lot from it and we want to reassure the public that it will not happen to us in the Philippines,” Cojuangco’s husband and former Pangasinan congressman Mark Cojuangco said.

In fact, he said, two of South Korea’s nuclear plants the Kory1 and Kory2 used a similar design but cost $6 billion. The BNPP, he said, had been fully-paid in 2007 at a total cost of $2.12 billion. The Cojuangcos said the BNPP, once rehabilitated and operating, would bring down the cost of electricity to as low as P2.50 per kilowatt hour, as against the prevailing P11 per kwh in Luzon because the coal or diesel fuel was expensive compared to the more efficient and cleaner technology of the BNPP. “It is about time that we run the BNPP. It is unfair to the future generations if we throw away the $2.1-billion asset that the Filipinos now own and deprive our children of good future,” the congresswoman said. But Nacpil was adamant. “When then President Cory Aquino decided to honor the debt, it was like we had thrown good money after bad. Now that the son, President Noynoy Aquino decided to continue maintaining the plant, instead of de-commissioning it, we are being thrown from the frying pan into the fire,” she said. She and Dela Cruz demanded an explanation from Mr. Aquino. “The President ought to clarify why he favors the reinstatement of P50-million maintenance of the BNPP. Does it mean that this administration is considering the resurrection of this monument to man’s folly? We certainly hope not,” Dela Cruz said. Before the President countermanded his order, Abad had reminded the National Power Corp. that no more maintenance funds would be released for the nuclear power plant. The BNPP is manned by nuclear engineers and a staff of about 30 with 28 security guards protecting the entire 356-hectare complex and the nearby 44-hectare Nuclear Village. During a budget hearing, Cojuangco invoked Executive Order 55 issued by the late President Corazon Aquino “assigning the National Power Corp. as caretaker of the BNPP until the national government shall have studied on what to do with it,” Cojuangco said. “I don’t think that EO 55 was ever superseded or repealed,” she told the House committee on appropriations.‐makes‐u‐turn‐on‐nuke‐plant‐budget/

Romualdez, ex-health secretary; 73 By Manila Standard Today | Posted on October 19, 2013 at 12:10am | 911 views Former Health Secretary Alberto “Quasi” del Gallego Romualdez Jr. died at noon on Oct. 18. He was 73.

Communications Secretary Ramon Carandang expressed his condolences to Romualdez’s family on his Twitter account, describing him as “one of the good guys.”

Romualdez Romualdez served as Health Secretary during the administration of President Joseph Estrada and was known as a staunch advocate of public health reform and a strong supporter of the reproductive health and tobacco control programs. He was admired and respected for his outspoken pronouncements on the sin-tax bill and the stem cell therapy. Romualdez obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in Biological Sciences from the Ateneo de Manila University and his doctorate in medicine from the University of the Philippines. Before his appointment to the Estrada Cabinet in 1998, Romualdez served as director of the Research Institute for Tropical medicine from 1981 to 1984, and was dean of the UP College of Medicine from 1984 to 1987.

He also worked as regional adviser in the Development of Human Resources of Health for the World Health Organization’s Western Pacific Region and was director of Health Services for Development and Planning. From June 1996 until his appointment as Health Secretary, Romualdez was medical director of HCA Philippines Inc. and at the same time a consultant of the World Health Organization and the Department of Health. He was the eldest of the seven children of Alberto Zialcita Romualdez Sr., a former secretary general of the World Medical Association, and Covadonga del Gallego, a former chairman of the Pathology Department of the University of Santo Tomas Hospital.‐ex‐health‐secretary‐73/                                

NAIA’s Terminal 1 named ‘world’s worst’ for second year in a row in survey Written by Tribune Saturday, 19 October 2013 00:00  

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s (NAIA’s) main terminal has been named the world’s worst for the second year in a row in a survey by an online travel Web site. Officials yesterday brushed off the survey results, insisting conditions were being improved. “The Guide to Sleeping in Airports” Web site said NAIA’s crowded Terminal 1 was ranked by travellers based on comfort, convenience, cleanliness and customer service to be the worst in the world. Reviews for NAIA’s Terminal 1 posted on the site mentioned “dilapidated facilities,” dishonest airport workers — particularly taxi drivers — long waiting times and rude officials. “These are old issues,” NAIA’s Terminal 1 manager Dante Basanta told AFP, adding that the problems were already being addressed by the government. He conceded that the Manila airport, with a capacity of about 6.5 million passengers annually, was overstretched, handling 8.1 million travellers last year. The terminal at the Italian airport of Bergamo was named the second-worst, where it said there were “people loafing around without T-shirt or without shoes as if they were in their homes and no one gives a hoot.” Its third-worst was Calcutta, just edging out Islamabad, ahead of Paris Beauvais. The best rated airports were Singapore Changi, Seoul Incheon, Amsterdam Schiphol, Hong Kong and Helsinki Vantaa. NAIA’s Terminal 1, the oldest of its four passenger terminals, was built 32 years ago. The government has launched a P2.5-billion renovation program for the terminal. It is also attempting to reduce congestion by moving at least three million passengers a year to a newer terminal. AFP‐section/naia‐s‐terminal‐1‐named‐world‐s‐worst‐for‐ second‐year‐in‐a‐row‐in‐survey

2013 10 19 quedancor daily news monitor  
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