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NFA asks BOC to go after 5 rice importers By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 25, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The National Food Authority (NFA) has asked the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to go after at least five rice traders who recently brought into the country, through the Port of Davao, 243,000 50-kilogram bags of rice allegedly without import permits. NFA spokesman Rex Estoperez said the agency has recommended to the BOC the filing of appropriate charges against the rice traders and Customs personnel who allowed the shipments to leave the port allegedly without permits. In a letter to Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon on Tuesday, NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag identified the consignees as Bold Bidder Marketing and General Merchandise, with 25,000 bags of rice that arrived last Aug. 7 and 12; Jade Bros. Farms and Livestock Inc., with 77,000 bags that arrived on July 26 and Aug. 11; Medaglia de Oro Trading, with 45,000 bags that arrived on July 27 and Aug. 7, 10 and 19; Silent Royalty Marketing, with 68,000 bags that arrived on Aug. 10, 18 and 28 and Sept. 4; and Starcraft Trading Corp., with 28,000 bags that arrived on Sept. 21 and Oct. 1. The NFA said this was confirmed by the BOC’s district collector in Davao, lawyer Raymond Ventura.

At NFA’s request, some 69,500 50-kilogram bags of imported rice that arrived at the Port of Davao had been put on hold while the legality of the shipments were being verified. Shipments of 34,700 50-kilogram bags that arrived at the port last Sept. 6 were consigned to the San Carlos Multipurpose Cooperative. Shipments of 34,800 50-kilogram bags that arrived at the port last Oct. 19 were consigned to Starcraft Trading Corp. Rice imports are levied a duty of 40 percent when made under the 350,000 minimum access volume (MAV) and 50 percent if made outside the special restriction volume. High import duty is slapped on rice to protect local farmers from the influx of cheap foreign rice. For this year, the Philippines has an allocation of 163,000 metric tons for the MAV countryspecific quota comprising 98,000 MT for Thailand, 25,000 MT for China, 25,000 MT for India, and 15,000 MT for Australia. The Philippines also imported 187,000 MT of its buffer stock requirements from Vietnam under a government-to-government tender with its state-run Southern Food Corp. during the first semester of the year. The Philippine government is aiming for a production sufficiency level of 98 percent this year.

Citizenship issue hounds NFA amid rice controversy Philippine Daily Inquirer   11:19 pm | Thursday, October 24th, 2013  

DAVAO CITY—Amid the ongoing debate over whether or not the government can meet its rice-sufficiency targets despite continuing reports of shortage and price increases, the agency that is at the center of the rice situation is now under scrutiny over an issue that critics said could be key to why the country’s rice-production programs seem to falter—the citizenship of the agency’s highest official. Several groups pounced on reports that Orlan Calayag, the administrator of the National Food Authority (NFA), is actually a dual citizen, a violation of the NFA charter that required its administrator to be a natural-born Filipino. Lawyer Argee Guevarra, a leader of the militant group Sanlakas, said Calayag’s qualifications as NFA chief are now in question following revelations that Calayag is not a natural-born Filipino. According to documents that leaked out to media, Calayag reacquired his Filipino citizenship only on Jan. 7 this year. Guevarra said questions about Calayag’s qualifications do not end with his citizenship, but whether or not he is a natural-born Filipino is basic to the NFA position. In a statement, Guevarra called on President Aquino to consider removing Calayag from his post. Reports said Calayag returned to the country in December 2012 using an American passport.

While his dual citizenship is in effect, Calayag cannot hold a position in the government or run in any public office, according to some legal experts. For an appointee or candidate to be qualified, Calayag should show proof that he has already renounced his American citizenship before he was appointed in January this year, said Guevarra. In a statement sent to Inquirer, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said the appointment of an official with dual citizenship to the NFA adds to the many “sins of commission and omission” of the agriculture department, which should shame top department officials into resigning. The uproar over Calayag’s appointment as national food czar started as early as January when it was confirmed that he also possesses an American passport but his reported closeness to Alcala made him cling to his post.

“To borrow the words of President Aquino, where could agriculture officials be getting their gall to put a food czar that is an American citizen?” said Zarate. Zarate said the circumstances of Calayag’s appointment is tainted with “anomalies,” including his being an American citizen, and failure “to undergo the vetting process mandated by Republic Act No. 10149, otherwise known as the GOCC Governance Act of 2011.” “Calayag’s appointment is just another addition to the string of anomalies that attended the DA (Department of Agriculture) headed by Alcala. Farmers’ organizations have also recently called for his resignation for allowing DA as a conduit of bogus Napoles NGOs (nongovernment organizations) in the pork barrel scandal,” he said. Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao Read more:‐issue‐hounds‐nfa‐amid‐rice‐ controversy#ixzz2ihWMOgf2   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook 

Traders flock to Pangasinan for cheaper rice Philippine Daily Inquirer   11:16 pm | Thursday, October 24th, 2013  

FARMERS in San Manuel town in Pangasinan continue to plant palay even as the erratic weather has disrupted the rice cycle and triggered floods that occasionally destroy their crops and farmlands. WILLIE LOMIBAO/CONTRIBUTOR ROSALES, Pangasinan—Traders from top rice-producing provinces have been scrambling for newly harvested palay from different towns in Pangasinan since last week, a farmers’ group leader and rice trader here said on Thursday. But Rosendo So, chair of the party-list group Abono and president of the newly organized Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag), a coalition of 33 farmers’ and irrigators’ associations, said the palay-buying spree of traders from Isabela and Nueva Ecija provinces was not an indication of a rice shortage. “It is simply because palay is cheaper in Pangasinan than in their provinces, which have been devastated by typhoons,” So told the Inquirer by telephone.

He said in Isabela, a kilogram of palay costs P21, while in Nueva Ecija, the buying price of palay is P19.50 a kg. “In Pangasinan, because of good harvest, palay is only P18.50 a kg,” he said.

The traders’ buying price is higher than the palay buying price of the National Food Authority, which is pegged at P17 a kg. Nestor Batalla, rice program coordinator of the provincial government, said for this year, Pangasinan expects to produce some 1,133,373 metric tons of palay from its more than 169,000 hectares of riceland. “We are now 194-percent self-sufficient, which means we produce more than enough to feed our 2.7 million population,” Batalla said. Pangasinan is the third rice-producing province, next to Nueva Ecija and the country’s top rice producer, Isabela. Oftociano Manalo, head of the Ilocos Region Federation of Irrigators’ Association, said traders from other provinces are also buying Pangasinan rice because imported rice is no longer available. “Before, they were not alarmed because they knew that we were flooded with imported rice. They were the ones who were also buying imported rice. Some of them also bought smuggled rice,” Manalo said. So also said his group expresses gratitude to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon for their efforts to stop rice smuggling, particularly the attempt to bring in an untaxed cargo of 403 container vans of rice through Davao City. “We express our thanks to Secretary Alcala and Commissioner Biazon for the good work and coordination that resulted in the apprehension of a total of 200,000 bags of smuggled rice and we also convey our gratitude to our one hero who reported it to us,” said So in a statement. Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon Read more:‐flock‐to‐pangasinan‐for‐cheaper‐ rice#ixzz2ihXDyiWr   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook 

PH gains access to tuna-rich area October 24, 2013 9:10 pm by James Konstantin Galvez Reporter Filipino commercial fishermen gained new access to the High Seas Pocket 1, providing boost to the country’s commercial fish production and revitalizing the tuna industry that has been sagging since 2008, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said on Thursday. During the send-off ceremony in General Santos City, BFAR Director Asis Perez said that 84 commercial fishing vessels will troop to the tuna-rich High Seas Pocket 1 of the Western Pacific Ocean, in time for the opening of the fishing season on November 1 this year. “The ceremony involved the highest number of Philippine fishing vessels that will operate in the high seas,” Perez said. To recall, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), a regional fisheries management organization that addresses problems in the management of high seas fisheries, closed four high seas pockets from tuna fishing for two years beginning 2009, in response to the growing alarm over declining tuna catches. In April 2012, the WCPFC supported the “Philippine Conservation and Management Proposal,” which allows fishing of 36 group seines in the area between Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia, also known as High Seas Pocket 1. This measure allowed the country to fish until March 2013. The same support was granted by the Commission in December of 2012, convinced that the country adheres to responsible fishing operations, thereby, extending the right of the Philippines to fish in the area until June 30, 2013. Another fishing ban was imposed from July 1 to October 30 this year due to Fish Aggregating Device closure. The Philippines, however, gets new access in the High Seas Pocket 1 as the fishing season opens on November 1. By December 2013, the Philippines will again present its case before the WCPFC to request for continuous access in the High Seas Pocket 1 for 2014 and beyond. “If granted, this would still come with the commission’s strict imposition of regulations for the Philippine fishing vessels in the area which has become a known fishing ground for tuna fishers,” Perez said.

The multinational WCPFC establishes measures to ensure long-term conservation and sustainable use of highly migratory fish stocks like tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. As the commission convenes its 10th regular session in December, new or enhanced measures are expected to replace interim conservation measures currently being implemented. The opening of Pocket 1 is exclusive to Philippine catcher vessels with a capacity of no more than 250 tons. Still part of WCPFC’s regulations, only traditional fresh and chilled catching vessels operating as a group will be allowed in the area.

Lawmaker: Raise agriculture subsidy By Maricel Cruz | Posted 12 hours ago | 62 views 

A neophyte lawmaker on Thursday sought higher subsidies to agriculture through a bill as a result of the persistently high rice prices in spite of the start of the harvest season. Citing the country’s low productivity and the prohibitive cost of fertilizers, Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones filed House Bill 3252 or the “Rice Fertilizer Subsidy Act of 2013.” It seeks to provide qualified farmer-beneficiaries with a 50- percent government subsidy for the purchase of fertilizers. “One big threat cited by the Department of Agriculture when it comes to rice production is the price of fertilizers,” Aragones said. “It is thus necessary to restore the subsidy provided by the state to rice farmers in the purchase of their fertilizers.” The Philippine Rice Research Institute estimates that fertilizers account for 20 percent of the total cost of rice production, requiring at least eight bags per hectare of farmland. Each bag of fertilizer costs over P1,000, according to the September 2013 data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics. Arsenio Balisacan, director general of the National Economic Development Authority, says that the lack of government subsidy in agriculture is regarded by experts as a major contributor to poor production and high retail prices. He says that effectively inhibits the growth of productivity and employment, “reducing the earnings of poor farmers and landless workers, and making food more expensive and less accessible to the poor urban consumers and even to the small farmers who are net buyers of food.” But while the government has yet to substantially increase its subsidy to agricultural inputs, the National Food Authority in 2013 paid P1.7 billion in duties and taxes to import rice under a government-to-government arrangement. This was on top of the $94.5 million or more than P4 billion spent by the agency to import 205,700 metric tons of rice from Vietnam in April this year. That transaction is now under investigation by the Senate and the House following allegations that the importation was overpriced by P500 million pesos. Despite the heavy government importation of rice this year, rice prices in September soared to an all-time high of P36.04 per kilogram, an increase of 23 percent from P29.38 at the height of the rice crisis in 2008, according to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics.

Balisacan, himself a former Agriculture Undersecretary, had previously pushed for higher subsidies in production and the “dismantling of the National Food Authority’s extensive interventions in rice trade, including its virtual monopoly in rice importation.”

Solon: Increase production, lower rice prices thru higher investment in agri • •

Written by Charlie V. Manalo Friday, 25 October 2013 00:00

Amid persistent high rice prices, hitting all-time highs in September despite the harvest season, Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones has sought greater subsidy to agriculture through a bill filed in the House of Representatives. Citing the country’s low productivity compared to other rice producers in Asia as well as the often-prohibitive cost of fertilizer as bases, Aragones last Wednesday filed House Bill (HB) 3252, also known as the “Rice Fertilizer Subsidy Act of 2013,” which seeks to provide qualified farmer-beneficiaries with 50 percent government subsidy for the procurement of fertilizer. “One big threat cited by the Department of Agriculture (DA) when it comes to rice production is the price of fertilizers. It is thus necessary to restore the subsidy provided by the state to rice farmers in the purchase of their fertilizers,” the media personality-turned-lawmaker said. The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) estimates that fertilizers account for 20 percent of total rice production cost, requiring at least eight bags per hectare of plantation. Each bag of fertilizer costs upwards of P1,000, according to September 2013 data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS). Lack of government subsidy in agriculture has been regarded by experts as a major contributor to poor production and high retail prices, “effectively inhibiting growth of farm productivity and employment, reducing the earnings of poor farmers and landless workers, and making food more expensive and less accessible to poor urban consumers and even small farmers who are net buyers of food,” according to National Economic Development Authority (Neda) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan. But while the government has yet to substantially increase its subsidy to agricultural inputs, the NFA, in 2013 paid some P1.7 billion in duties and taxes for the importation of rice under a government-to-government arrangement. This is on top of the $94.5 million or more than P4 billion spent by the agency to import 205,700 MT of rice from Vietnam in April of 2013. The transaction is currently under investigation by both the Senate and the House for allegations of half-a-billion pesos overpricing. Despite having invested heavily in government importation this year, rice prices in September soared to an all-time high, according to the BAS, to P36.04 per kilogram, increasing 23 percent from P29.38 at the height of the rice crisis in 2008. Balisacan, himself a former agriculture undersecretary, had previously pushed higher subsidies in production and the “dismantling of the National Food Authority’s extensive interventions in rice trade, including its virtual monopoly in rice importation.” Aragones’ bill, consistent with Neda’s recommendations, advocates higher government investments in fertilizer farm inputs to “support the livelihood of rice farmers; achieve national self-sufficiency in rice; ensure that it is financially sustainable for the government, and curtail transaction costs and inefficiencies associated with distribution.” Earlier, Agri-Agra Reporma Para sa Magsasakang Pilipinas partylist Rep. Delph Gan Lee also advocated wiser government spending in agriculture through HB 2936 or the “National Food Authority Rationalization Act of 2013” seeking to end the NFA’s supposed import monopoly

and “to allow for scarce government resources to be re-allocated away from costly price stabilization functions to more productive investment in rice research and development, extension services and irrigation.�

Taro production program launched By PNA | Posted 11 hours ago | 32 views 

Pili — The Regional Field Unit (RFU) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) for Bicol based here has launched a program to promote the commercial production of taro, a nutritious vegetable popularly cooked by Bicolanos as laing or pinangat. Hatched in collaboration with the RFU’s Biotechnology Program Implementation Unit, the program considers the application of biotechnology as one of the tools in improving taro productivity in the region, DA regional executive director Abelardo Bragas on Wednesday here said. “With biotechnology, we could produce disease free and quality planting materials” Bragas said, explaining that propagation is fast with it being a timely and appropriate approach towards more productivity given the prevailing wet season. Taro is a vigorous growing perennial plant native to the Philippines and cultivated in swampy soils and flooded parcels along with rice and other semi-aquatic crops. It is one of the few crops that can be grown under flooded conditions. This is due to air spaces in the petiole, which permit underwater gaseous exchange with the atmosphere, he said. For a maximum dissolved oxygen supply, according to Bragas, the water should be cool and flowing. Warm, stagnant water causes basal rotting. For maximum yields, the water level should be controlled so that the base of the plant is always under water. Flooded cultivation has some advantages over dry-land cultivation: higher yields , out-of-season production, which may result in higher prices and weed control, which flooding facilitates. On the other hand, in flooded production systems taro requires a longer maturation period, investment in infrastructure and higher operational costs, and monoculture is likely. Like most root crops, taro does well in deep, moist or even swampy soils where the annual rainfall exceeds 2,500 millimeter, Bragas added. Although taro is cultivated primarily for its roots, the leaves are wholly edible and have a tenderfirm and succulent texture. The flavor is subtle, offering a pleasant nuttiness with an iron finish that is comparable to the flavor of spinach. Taro leaves offer a substantial amount of Vitamin A and C and they are better source of protein than the plant’s roots.


Synergistic model for inclusive growth By Ernesto M. Ordoñez  Philippine Daily Inquirer   10:48 pm | Thursday, October 24th, 2013  

Is there a model for inclusive growth that can combine agriculture, livelihood, environment, and industry? Can it include the public and private sectors, rural and urban, rich and poor? There is. It is the Central Luzon Million Tree Project, which is coordinated by the Kapampangan Development Foundation (KDF) but executed by different groups. The project’s elements can, and should, be replicated throughout the country to help attain inclusive growth. KDF (09178403711) is known as the organization that established the only hospital in Southeast Asia that services physically handicapped indigents free of charge. KDF chair Manuel Pangilinan said the organization should now focus on agri-based livelihood. He identified as a key project the growing of fruit trees to provide livelihood while also enhancing the environment, which is also Pangilinan’s advocacy. Following PNoy’s public-private partnership (PPP) model, emphasis will be given to networking with many sectors, especially the poor. Thus, the Central Luzon Million Tree Project, with a 10-year timeframe, was born. The idea is not entirely new. But the planning and execution is. In 1987, the KDF learned from former Governor Aguedo Agbayani that Pangasinan had the highest number of mango trees in the Philippines: 250,000. Most were small backyard ventures. The income from these trees helped many poor parents pay for their children’s tuition. The KDF then embarked on a plan to have one million mango trees in Bulacan. In seven years, the KDF achieved its one million target. A concrete indication is that a mango processing plant was established in Malolos, Bulacan to take in most of the excess production of mangoes. However, there was one weakness. Most were Indian mangoes, which did not command a high price. Also, the trees did not undergo certification, resulting in inconsistency in quality. Certified nurseries This time around, KDF is concentrating on certified nurseries. They learned that Guimaras mangoes, known for their consistent quality, originated from the best Zambales mango trees. They were the result of certified nurseries. On May 18, a free whole-day seminar was promoted largely through radio announcements. The KDF asked the Department of Agriculture (DA) for the most effective technologies. Although

the seminar was open to all, the DA asked the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to identify Cash Transfer Program (CTP) beneficiaries who needed supplemental income since they were about to graduate from the CTP. The Alyansa Agrikultura said the seminar would be useful only if there was a whole-day followup seminar and the necessary organization for implementation.

Already, 44 participants have started to establish their own nurseries coordinated by KDF Satellite Nursery Association President Honorio Bungay (09212053368). They now meet monthly to improve their planning and implementation. “Paying it forward,” they now constitute the main force supporting the KDF in the ongoing three-day fruit tree nursery seminar for new participants. They come from the rural and the urban areas: farmers, professionals, and returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW). To address inclusive growth, the KDF has organized the participants into KDF Satellite Nurseries which will involve the poor. Already, there are six Aeta communities involved. Bureaucratic difficulties are overcome because the KDF takes care of their certification from the DA’s Bureau of Plant Industry. A small farmer may be able to plant only a few trees. But he can produce good fruits as well as certified scions. Scions are the certified seedlings that are grafted onto ordinary seedlings so that these can then produce high-quality fruits. Among the key advantages of the Million Tree Project over the initial Bulacan project are: •The nursery will produce only certified seedlings. This will help ensure quality, marketability and profit. •Government agencies are heavily involved, such as the DA for technology and the DSWD for identifying low-income beneficiaries. •There is a cluster approach with specific areas for a given fruit. This is the same way KDF successfully promoted Ilang-ilang in Anao, Tarlac, which is now known as the Ilang-ilang Center of Luzon. •The mayors and partners—such as NGOs POs and even the Church—participate actively and have become the project’s champions. •Forward planning is done, taking into account large processing in municipal centers and small processing in the rural areas. Here is a synergistic agri-based livelihood model with an environmental enhancement component. Its success elements have been identified. It should be replicated in different parts of the country as a PPP initiative to attain the elusive goal of inclusive growth.

(The author is chair of Agriwatch, former Secretary for Presidential Flagship Programs and Projects and former Undersecretary for Agriculture and Trade and Industry. For inquiries, e-mail or telefax (02) 8522112).

Gov’t policy undermines right to food security Philippine Daily Inquirer  10:24 pm | Thursday, October 24th, 2013  

As part of World Food(less) Day celebration last Oct. 16, the Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes Inc. reiterated its firm adherence to the call for “upholding our right to food.” This year’s theme “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security” echoes the call of farmers for genuine agricultural development. Yet the culprits behind agricultural “mal-development” are the ones who will be awarded with the Nobel Prize for Agriculture by the World Food Prize Foundation. Monsanto and Syngenta have enslaved farmers worldwide to a profit-making technology that has wrought more hunger to food producers’ families and communities. Now, they are highly acclaimed to have found genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in crops, now widely protested by organizations internationally. The Philippines is tagged as the most “GMO friendly” country in Southeast Asia for allowing field testing of Bt-talong, golden rice and other crop-testing, even clandestinely, in farming communities. Filipino farmers, scientists and progressive groups vehemently call for a stop to all GMO-related testings and urge legislators to enact a law to protect our farming systems from GMOs. Ironically, eight out of 10 small farmers who till the land and produce food are landless and the hungriest. The promise of the planned “rice sufficiency in 2013” is marked by spiraling rice prices, huge volumes of smuggled rice, high rice importation, and the much-anticipated commercialization of golden rice in the Philippines. After the more than P700-million fertilizer scam in 2004, farmers are again victims of another, much bigger scam involving billions of pesos. The PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) and DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) scandals have shown that the government has no serious intention to resolve the problem of hunger and persistent food insecurity in the country.

And the government continues to open our prime agricultural lands to vast land-grabbing by foreigners and to mining explorations. Our agricultural land used to cover 13 million hectares; now it is around 9 million hectares, reports say. The World Trade Organization says the Philippines is the Third World’s largest seller of farmlands to foreigners. This, while government has been callous to the clamor for genuine agrarian reform for farmer-tillers. Indigenous peoples continue to strongly protect and fight for their right to ancestral lands even when government has forced them to eviction. These antipeople policies and programs have indeed aggravated our state of food insecurity.

There will be no more sustainable food systems to speak of once harsh massive environmental destruction afflicts farming communities. We call on all citizens to join us in our work to uphold our right to food security. We also support all actions calling for the abolition of the pork barrel system. We should demand the rechanneling of funds to social services, especially to address food insecurity and malnutrition. We are one with the millions of farmers marching for and demanding genuine agrarian reform! —JHANA JUNE D. TEJOME, executive director, Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes Inc., Read more:‐policy‐undermines‐right‐to‐food‐ security#ixzz2ihdMhGFh   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook 

Greater Manilans need all‐out earthquake drills   

Posted on Friday Oct 25th at 12:00am GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc An SOS from reader Larry Yolu of Tayug, Pangasinan: “We are now in the middle of the harvest and selling our palay to private traders, mostly dummies of big capitalists. They have cornered the buying, at the measly prices of P12 and P13.50 a kilo, wet and dry. From a recent interview of the National Food Authority spokesman and as posted in the NFA website, the agency’s buying price is P17.75 a kilo. Yet there are no NFA buying stations, to which we small farmers in eastern Pangasinan can sell our palay. Luging-lugi po kami (We are selling at big loss). Kindly bring this to the attention of the proper authorities. I’ve been trying to click open the Dept. of Agriculture website to file this complaint, to no avail. No one can log into it.” * * * Greater Manilans shudder watching TV news of the devastation and suffering caused by the Intensity-7.2 earthquake in Bohol-Cebu. As they reach for checkbooks to donate, they ask themselves how they’d fare if such temblor strikes their locale. For they’ve been reminded often enough by seismologists: the West Valley Fault moves every 450 years or so. It is due any time soon. (Soulful writer-editor Julie Yap Daza admonishes against talking about it, lest it come true. But then, forewarned is forearmed.) The fault stretches from the boundaries of Quezon City and Marikina to Mandaluyong-Pasig, Taguig-Makati, Parañaque-Las Piñas-Muntinlupa, down to Laguna-Cavite to the foothills of Tagaytay. In short, it covers thickly populated residential-commercial swathes of Greater Manila. Nearly half of the 15-million population will be affected. The Manila Observatory has long studied the geological effects of a Valley Fault quake. The human and structural destruction would be beyond anything present-day Filipinos have experienced. Manila’s Chinatown is likely to sink into the sea in grave liquefaction. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology too has drafted a scenario for a West Valley Fault temblor of Intensity-7.2 or worse. That Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (2004) warns local officials and safety experts to plan for the Big One. Specifically, for situations like: • damage to 40 percent of residential buildings; • 34,000 dead and 114,000 injured within the first hour of disaster; • electricity, water, and telecoms services cut off; no means to report or broadcast damages to homes, buildings, and roads;

• schools, the usual safe haven of typhoon — or flood-stricken poor folk, to sustain the most damage, followed by hospitals and fire stations; • Quezon City, Marikina, and Pasig to be most destroyed. Metro Manila chairman Francis Tolentino minces no words in dire details: “In an Intensity-7.2 quake, the Guadalupe Bridge in Makati would collapse. So would the MRT and LRT train lines. Imagine the chaos if it happens at daytime.” A nighttime quake would be as anarchic, Tolentino says: “Five thousand fires would be blazing at the same time. But the roads would be strewn with rubble, impassable by fire trucks. Even if they are able to penetrate, they might run out of water to douse the fires; water pipes would be busted.” The end of the world? That’s what Boholanos and Cebuanos thought as the Oct. 15 quake threw them about for long seconds. That’s what Greater Manilans might wish for even if they survive the Big One. For they could be isolated, wet, thirsty, famished, injured, or trapped under rubble — with no rescue and relief coming. To preclude despair and chaos, Tolentino proposes several disaster-mitigation measures. It’s nothing new; the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction has been advocating it for decades. Foremost is to retrofit all weak infrastructures, buildings, and homes. The first — bridges, train lines, overpasses, etc.— should be the responsibility of the Dept. of Public Works and Highways. The second — commercial structures, churches, schools, etc. — shall be inspected by city halls. The third — upper-, middle-, and low-class dwellings — would be tricky. Homeowners habitually break the National Building Code, erecting or remodeling dwellings with fire, flood, and earthquake hazards. City halls can hardly spare building inspectors to look into houses as well. Quezon City, the largest in the megalopolis, has only 30 such personnel. For this, Tolentino proposes an earthquake census. Junior and senior engineering students would be fielded on weekends to inspect all residential structures. Earthquake-risk defects would be pointed out to dwellers, who should then proceed to city hall for the necessary permits to refurbish. Frequent earthquake drills need to be undertaken, at the community and Greater Manila levels. It would be no different from the annual Earthquake Holidays initiated by California, now conducted North America-wide, with Japan and Korea. The latest “Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drill” was held only last Oct. 17, as each of the time zones struck 10:17 a.m. In such a drill, Tolentino proposes, the Guadalupe Bridge would be blocked off, the LRT-MRT lines shut down, and malls and offices evacuated. No laughing or waving to TV news cameras, he suggests that Metro Manilans walk their way to the nearest of four major open spaces. Firstaid and food tents will be waiting at: Villamor Air Base golf course, Bicutan; Ultra stadium,

Pasig; Intramuros golf course, Manila; and Veterans Hospital golf course, Quezon City. For drill purposes, the Macapagal Highway, Baclaran, will be the temporary mass morgue. *



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DENR taps NBI for help vs department grafters By Maricar Cinco  Inquirer Southern Luzon   11:24 pm | Thursday, October 24th, 2013    1  28  13  

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje INQUIRER FILE PHOTO LOS BAÑOS, LAGUNA—The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) tapped the National Bureau of Investigation to run after environmental officers and employees who are reportedly making money out of the government’s reforestation program. At the 65th annual foresters’ convention here, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje on Wednesday revealed that a P10-million DENR fund was released to the investigating agency last month to hunt down DENR employees involved in illegal mining and quarrying operations. The DENR is poised to give another P10 million to the NBI, this time to catch its personnel in cahoots with illegal logging operators or are stealing funds from the National Greening Program (NGP), Paje said. “I don’t want them to think, even just think, about making money out of the (NGP) program or else I will run after them,” said Paje, in a separate interview at the sidelines of the conference.

The NGP is the flagship reforestation project of President Aquino that targets to reforest over 1.5 million hectares until 2016.

So far, it has covered 578,000 ha of forest and generated 715,774 jobs since the project’s launch in May 2011, according to Paje. He said the anti-illegal logging program has also reduced by 76 percent the number of logging hotspots all over the country, with the confiscation of 24.7 million board feet of illegally cut forest products as of June 2013. Paje, who was guest at the Society of Filipino Foresters Inc. convention held at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, said some DENR employees are turning the NGP into a “cottage industry.” He said the department has been getting reports about DENR employees who pocket state funds by rigging contracts to supply tree seedlings, plastic bags and other materials for the NGP. Dr. Henry Adornado, a senior DENR administrative assistant who was with Paje during the event, said there were cases where employees dealt with private bidders instead of getting seedlings directly from the communities. Some, he said, are involved in extortion to cover up illegal logging or mining operations. Paje said the investigation would send a strong message that he is serious about curbing corrupt practices in the department. Since 2011, the department had fired 22 employees, among them two regional directors, while 306 personnel are currently under investigation, he said. Read more:‐taps‐nbi‐for‐help‐vs‐department‐ grafters#ixzz2ihVl5oYn   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook             

P150M in DAR funds went to NGOs picked by Honasan, Estrada By Gil C. Cabacungan  Philippine Daily Inquirer   2:17 am | Thursday, October 24th, 2013  

Two years after the plunder of the Malampaya Fund, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) continued to be the clearinghouse of lawmakers’ pork barrel funds channeled to bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs). Documents obtained by the Inquirer showed that P230 million from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) went to 16 dubious NGOs in 2011 through agreements to distribute agricultural livelihood packages forged between local government units (LGUs) and DAR Undersecretaries Narciso Nieto, Jerry Pacturan and Perry Felix Villanueva. The DAR releases included funding initiatives made by Senators Gregorio Honasan II (P100 million) and Jinggoy Estrada (P50 million) approved by Senate President Franklin Drilon (who was then chair of the Senate finance committee that served as the gatekeeper of PDAF releases of its members). The documents did not contain the identities of the lawmakers behind the remaining P80 million. In a phone interview, Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said the fund releases were under investigation by Undersecretary Anthony Parungao. On Oct. 3, the National Bureau of Investigation filed plunder charges in the Office of the Ombudsman against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, three of her Cabinet secretaries and 20 others for allegedly stealing P900 million from the Malampaya Fund coursed through the DAR for victims of Tropical Storms “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” in 2009. The Ombudsman is also poised to file a separate case of graft in connection with the diversion of P200 million in DAR funds meant to benefit beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). In both the Malampaya and CARP raids, Janet Lim-Napoles is a principal respondent. Napoles is also facing plunder charges for allegedly masterminding the P10-billion pork barrel scam. Dubious NGOs probed De los Reyes said the probe into the P230-million racket would determine how these NGOs with dubious background and tainted record during the past administration were able to access funds

on his watch. “We want to know who are the persons responsible for these releases. We also want to know where these funds were sourced,” he said. Nieto, who resigned in October last year, signed some of the agreements on behalf of De los Reyes while other contracts were signed by Pacturan. Both Pacturan and Villanueva (who handled the agency’s bidding and awards committee and finance division) oversaw the release of the checks to the NGOs.

Based on the documents, Drilon approved the requests of Honasan and Estrada to release P150 million of their pork allocations to the DAR’s livelihood projects upon the request of local governments. Honasan requested De los Reyes that P100 million of his PDAF allocation be granted to 10 towns—Benito Soliven and San Pablo in Isabela; Samal, Bagac, and Mariveles in Bataan; Porac, Pampanga; Malolos, San Ildefenso, Paombong in Bulacan; and Carasi, Ilocos Norte. Each town was given P10 million. Estrada requested P50 million of his pork be released to 10 towns—Dinalupihan and Pilar in Bataan; General Nakar and Infanta in Quezon; San Nicolas, Batangas; Umingan, Rosales, Calasiao and San Nicolas in Pangasinan; and Sta. Maria, Bulacan. Each town was given P5 million. Honasan said he would verify the authenticity of the funds released under his name. “I want to stress that I have no discretion in choosing the recipient NGOs. I only endorsed the local government unit receiving the fund,” Honasan said in a text message. Request to Estrada In a phone interview, Estrada said he would check his records whether he actually endorsed the release of the funds. Estrada, however, noted that he only endorsed the LGU as recipients to the implementing agency and that the mayors were left to pick the implementing NGOs. In a letter to Estrada on March 16, 2011, requesting P5 million for financial assistance to her constituents, Infanta Mayor Filipina Grace R. America wrote, “I wish to request that the above funding support be implemented by Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. to manage the execution of the project.” The NGO is one of the fake foundations linked to Napoles, who is detained for the alleged illegal detention of a whistle-blower in the scam. Although Napoles accounted for 10 of the 15 NGOs in the DAR pork barrel scam during the “daang matuwid” era, her group accounted for only 28 percent, or P65 million, of the P230 million released by the DAR to fake NGOs in 2011. These are the same NGOs allegedly used by Napoles to divert into her pocket P900 million from the Malampaya Fund in 2009 and P200 million from agrarian reform funds in 2007, both coursed through the DAR under then Secretary Nasser Pangandaman and Nieto.

In 2011, Napoles had fierce competition for DAR funds from rival NGOs that were also believed to be fake: Workphil Foundation Inc. (P60 million); Divine Grace Enhancement Foundation Inc. (P40 million); Samahan sa Magsasaka sa Kapatagan at Kabundukan Foundation Inc. (P50 million); Focus on Development Goals Foundation Inc. or FDGFI (P10 million); and Gintong Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc. (P5 million). In 2011, Workphil and FDGFI also received P50 million and P140 million, respectively, in pork through Philippine Forest Corp. with the endorsement of Honasan. Read more:‐in‐dar‐funds‐went‐to‐ngos‐picked‐by‐honasan‐ estrada#ixzz2ihXeaFBC   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook 

NFA bares massive rice smuggling via Davao Regulator says 312,500 sacks brought into PH recently without import permits  By Ronnel W. Domingo  Philippine Daily Inquirer   11:03 pm | Thursday, October 24th, 2013  

The National Food Authority on Thursday said a total of 312,500 sacks of milled rice were shipped in through Davao over the past four months, most of which have gone past customs without the necessary import permit from the regulator. NFA administrator Orlan A. Calayag said in a statement that he has requested the Bureau of Customs to immediately seize a batch of 243,000 sacks that came in via 14 shipments that arrived between July and this month. “These were confirmed by BOC’s district collector in Davao, Raymond Ventura,” Calayag said in a statement. “[But] BOC personnel assigned at the port allowed the shipments to leave despite the lack of an import permit.” Calayag said he has provided Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon with details about this batch of alleged contraband, including the names of the consignees.

He said a total of 25,000 sacks for Bold Bidder Marketing and General Merchandise arrived on Aug. 7 and 12, while 77,000 sacks for Jade Bros. Farms and Livestock Inc. came in on July 26 and Aug. 1. Also, 45,000 sacks for Medaglia de Oro Trading landed on July 27 and Aug. 7, 10 and 19, 2013; and Silent Royalty Marketing, with 68,000 sacks that arrived on Aug. 10, 18, 28 and Sept. 4. A fifth consignee, Starcraft Trading Corp., accounted for 28,000 sacks that arrived on Sept. 21 and Oct. 1. Calayag said he has requested Biazon to file the necessary charges against the consignees as well as the concerned BOC personnel.

DPWH, local executive to remove illegal fish ponds in Macabebe Category: Agri-Commodities 24 Oct 2013 Written by Joey Pavia / Correspondent MACABEBE, Pampanga—At least 200 hectares of illegal fish ponds along the MacabebeMasantol River are set to be removed before the year ends to minimize or eliminate flooding in this town. Macabebe Mayor Annette Flores-Balgan and Engr. Enrico Guilas, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) district manager and project manager III for Pampanga, on Thursday held a meeting with at least six fishpond operators in Barangay Esteban here. Those who attended the meeting at the municipal hall are part of the estimated 84 fish pond owners who allegedly operate illegally in San Esteban. They were given until December 31 to vacate their fishponds and demolish their structures. Flores-Balgan blamed the illegal fishponds for the worsening flooding in Macabebe, particularly in San Esteban and nearby Barangay Dalayap. “The students in San Esteban and nearby villages could hardly go to school due to the floods. Sometimes, they only report half-day instead of studying for a whole day because of the floods,” she said. “Enough is enough. The sufferings of the people and the town must end,” Flores-Balgan added. Guilas said the DPWH and experts from other countries had studied the impact of illegal fishponds and found that these contribute to the flood problem in the first-class municipality. He said these fishponds are blocking the pathways of the rivers causing the water to overflow onto the streets and communities. “We are not being personal. We just have to prioritize the welfare of the people and the town,” Guilas told the six fishpond operators who signed the agreement dated October 24. The agreement indicated that they should “comply with the deadline. The cost of the dismantling/removal of their structures shall be shouldered by the concerned fish pond operator which shall be initiated on the 27th of December 2013.” Guilas said at least 80 percent of the rivers’ passageways are blocked by the illegal structures, causing heavy flooding.

As as early as June 26, the DPWH issued notices to the operators informing them of the dismantling of illegal structures and fish ponds. The department issued three more notices, the last of which was dated October 23. “We want to follow protocol and procedures when issuing notices,” said Guilas, who also wrote Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda in June informing her of the dismantling of the illegal fish ponds. In the notice, the DPWH cited a Supreme Court ruling (G.R. Nos. 171947-48) of the continuing mandamus to remove and demolish structures that discharge solid and liquid wastes which eventually ends up at the Manila Bay. Flores-Balgan said even other illegal fishpond operators who did not sign the agreement would have to remove their fish. Guilas said the funds needed for the demolition works will be shouldered by the DPWH, Pineda and the Macabebe government. In 1991 the Department of Agriculture (DA) through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) issued permits to operate fish ponds in San Esteban. The permits are valid until 2015. But the DPWH said the DA permits “are null and void” following the release of the SC order. For her part, Flores-Balgan said the BFAR had not coordinated with the municipal government in issuing the permit to operate. In interviews with the fishpond operators, they said “we are hoping that the mayor and the DPWH will give us a one year extension,” citing the impact of the removal of the fish ponds on their livelihood.‐commodities/21491‐dpwh‐local‐ executive‐to‐remove‐illegal‐fish‐ponds‐in‐macabebe              

Laguna de Bay faces ecological deficit–study Category: Agri-Commodities 24 Oct 2013 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga A study on the resource demand and supply in Laguna de Bay revealed that demand for natural resources at the once biologically productive freshwater lake is increasing and is now estimated to be 30 times faster than what it can actually supply. The study, titled “Restoring Balance in Laguna Lake Region: 2013 Ecological Footprint Report,” said that because of the ever increasing demand for its natural resource, Laguna de Bay is now facing a stagerring ecological deficit. The study was published with the support of the Australian government through its Aid Program, in collaboration with the Philippines Climate Change Commission, Laguna Lake Development Authority, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and international sustainability think tank Global Footprint Network. “Understanding the risks caused by demands on the Laguna Lake region’s natural resources and the potential impact on lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable if left unchecked, is of upmost importance,” Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell said at the launch of the report on October 18. The widening gap between Laguna Lake region’s supply of and demand on ecological resources has serious national implications, the report said. The report said Laguna de Bay region’s ecological deficit poses economic risks that can have a ripple effect across the nation. The lake encompasses not only the nation’s economic capital, Metro Manila, but also the provinces and municipalities most vulnerable to climate change and resource degradation. Metro Manila’s resource demands alone make up 65 percent of Laguna de Bay’s total “Ecological Footprint.” Laguna de Bay’s per capita Ecological Footprint is higher than the national Philippine average. The report said the Laguna de Bay region maintains its ecological deficit by drawing down its own resource stocks of fish, timber and other resources; emitting more carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning into the atmosphere; and consuming imported resources such as food, fiber and forest products. As the Laguna de Bay region depletes its local resource base, the study said it exposes itself to price volatility and supply disruption due to its dependence on other regions’ and nations’ resources.

Recognizing the threat to Laguna de Bay’s productivity, the Climate Change Commission (CCC) partnered with the Global Footprint Network and adopt the Ecological Footprint last year. Phase I of the collaboration, documented in the study “A Measure for Resilience: 2012 Report on the Ecological Footprint of the Philippines,” laid the foundation for ecological resource accounting in the country as a whole. Phase II, made possible by the Australian Government, includes the publication of the Laguna Lake Region 2013 Ecological Footprint report and technical training to build capacity so that the government can continue to track, manage and benchmark its “biocapacity” and Ecological Footprint at the municipal, sub-regional, and national scales. Commissioner Naderev Saño of the Climate Change Commission said there is an urgent need “for all stakeholders, from national to the grassroots, to collaborate closely in order to internalize the issue of resource limits into the governance culture and in decision-making processes.” He also said there is a need to incorporate Ecological Footprint accounting and resource limits into public discourse and policymaking “as part of the pursuit of climate resiliency and sustainability.”‐commodities/21490‐laguna‐de‐bay‐ faces‐ecological‐deficit‐study                          

ADB: Economy may be overheating Category: Top News 24 Oct 2013 Written by Cai U. Ordinario After several quarters of high economic growth, the Philippine economy may already be showing signs of overheating, according to the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB). In its October 2013 Asian Economic Integration Monitor, the ADB said these signs of overheating pertain to rapid money-supply growth and the recent increase in the share of realestate lending. The ADB said money supply in the Philippines has reached a growth of almost 30 percent as of the third quarter of 2013; real-estate lending has reached close to 17 percent of total loans in the same period. “The Philippines is performing strongly, with growth higher than expected over the past few quarters,” the ADB said. “Inflation remains moderate, but the rapid money-supply growth and an increase in the share of real-estate lending signal the possibility of overheating.” Other multilateral institutions and local and international analysts had similarly pointed out the possibility that the economy is overheating. But National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Assistant Director General for Planning and Policy Rosemarie G. Edillon does not believe so. She said the increase in money supply and real-estate lending was largely due to the recent policy of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to ban non-pooled trust accounts from the SDA facility by January 2014. BSP Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo said the rapid domestic liquidity (M3) growth appears significant, “only because the Philippines has a lot of catching up to do.” Guinigundo said the analysts from ADB and elsewhere should instead consider the M3-to-GDP ratio, or money supply as percentage of local output, which, he said, remains relatively modest. “The economy is expanding and financial deepening is taking place. We need to provide appropriate levels of money supply. If there is overheating, we should never be having this long period of high output growth and low inflation. People should realize the country’s potential capacity has expanded significantly in the last few years on account of policy reforms and capital formation. Total factor productivity has gone up consistent with efficiency gains. The structure of the economy is slowly transforming,” he said. The next deadline for the phasing out of the special deposit account (SDA) facility is expected next month. Efforts to meet this deadline are now causing an increase in money supply and in real-estate lending.

Edillon said banks were now looking for areas to place the SDA funds and it would take time for them to do this. But she said she expects things to “equilibrate” by January 2014. “The economy is not overheating. While it’s true that there’s an increase in M3, its only temporary. Banks are looking for ways to dispose [of these funds]. When you look at the liquidity position of banks, ayos pa din,” Edillon said. “Nothing to be concerned about. There is still room for us to grow.” Edillon said overheating simply indicates that an economy is nearing capacity. One of the indicators is inflationary tendencies, which have not happened at this time. She added that the recent Monthly Integrated Survey of Selected Industries (MISSI) showed that industries operating at full capacity, or at 90 percent to 100 percent, account for only a little more than 20 percent. The August 2013 MISSI data released by the National Statistics Office showed that 22.7 percent of establishments were operating at full capacity in August 2013. Around 55.1 percent operated at 70-percent to 89-percent capacity, while 22.2 percent of such establishments operated below 70-percent capacity. This means, Edillon said, there was still room to romp up production. As gross domestic product (GDP) is a measure of production, there is still room for higher GDP growth. Further, in terms of labor supply, the July Labor Force Survey showed the country had an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent, higher than the 7 percent in July 2012. The data also showed that the underemployment rate was at 19.2 percent in July 2013. But this was lower than the 22.8 percent recorded in July 2012.‐news/21524‐adb‐economy‐may‐be‐ overheating                  

For 4th time, BSP maintains policy rates Category: Top News 24 Oct 2013 Written by Bianca Cuaresma The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) kept all its key policy interest rates on hold for the fourth consecutive time this year to support the country’s growing economy and as a prudent measure against uncertainties seen in the global markets. At the rate-setting meeting of the Monetary Board (MB) on Thursday, the central bank decided to keep the policy rate at 3.5 percent for overnight borrowing or reverse repurchase (RRP) facility, and at 5.5 percent for the overnight lending or repurchase (RP) facility. The interest rates on term RRPs, RPs and special deposit accounts (SDAs) were kept steady, and the reserve requirement ratios were also left unchanged. The last time the BSP tweaked the policy rates was in April this year when the MB made the final 50-basis point cut in its SDA interest rate down to 2 percent. BSP Deputy Governor for the Monetary Stability Sector Diwa Guinigundo cited at Thursday’s post-meeting briefing the main reasons for keeping the policy rates intact. “The board decided to maintain policy on the basis of a few arguments; one is the inflation outlook itself.… Inflation expectation remains firmly anchored,” Guinigundo said. The BSP deputy governor said buoyant demand was also one of the key reasons in maintaining policy rates. He cited various indicators of domestic demand, such as energy, which rose by about 7.6 percent in August compared to 4.6 percent in July, and vehicle sales, which increased by 10 percent from only 0.8 percent in July. “The demand is there. For the second quarter, we have seen how the economy performed. There is buoyancy in economic activity, you don’t exactly need additional stimulus to maintain the momentum of economic activity,” Guinigundo said. The BSP also looked at the uncertainty in the global markets as part of the key considerations in its decision. Guinigundo said that in times of global insecurity, maintaining the key rates is the “prudent” response to the situation. He said that while there ultimately was resolution in the US default debate, the solutions were temporary and there remains the likelihood that global markets would find the US in a similar situation if a permanent resolution was not employed. He also said that while economic improvements were seen in advanced economies, some emerging markets are showing softness and some advanced economies are not strong enough to show solid growth momentum. “That in itself will also produce uncertainty in the global market. Given that situation, I think it is important that we keep the monetary-policy stance steady. We need to be prudent under this

situation,” Guinigundo said. He also said that while the increases in domestic liquidity are significant, these are consistent with a growing economy and financial deepening. “The best proof of that we have a good combination of high growth and low and stable inflation,” Guinigundo said. The BSP said it would continue to monitor emerging-price and output conditions to ensure that monetary policy remains consistent with price stability and economic growth.‐news/21523‐for‐4th‐time‐bsp‐maintains‐ policy‐rates                                    

BSP retains 2013 inflation target at 3% to 5% Category: Top News 24 Oct 2013 Written by Bianca Cuaresma The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) remains confident inflation would average within the 3percent to 5-percent target range for the year. This, despite the lower-than-target average inflation in the first nine months of the year at 2.8 percent. At the post-meeting briefing on Thursday, the BSP said inflation expectations remain well anchored. The monetary authority still projects a full-year inflation averaging 3 percent this year. But the BSP revised its 2014 inflation target slightly upward—from the initial forecast of 3.9 percent to 4 percent on the back of higher-than-expected September inflation. It also revised its 2015 inflation forecast, but on a downward skew. The BSP announced it has changed its 2015 inflation expectations from 3.5 percent down to 3.4 percent. “The September actual inflation was higher than expected and will have an impact on succeeding months on to 2014. We would expect that while 2013 will be broadly unchanged, there is going to be a slight increase from 3.9 percent to 4 percent,” BSP Deputy Governor for the Monetary Stability Sector Diwa Guinigundo said. “But since the reason behind the higher September inflation number of 2.7 percent was due to food prices and higher adjustments in electricity charges and this was on the supply side, it is not going to be permanent. It’s transitory, so we will not see the impact by 2015,” he added. For this year, Guinigundo said the prices of goods and commodities remain still balanced and continue to be less generalized or narrow. He said the number of commodities with price growth near the upper end of the 3-percent to 5-percent target is about 58, while the number of commodities with price growth near the lower end of the target is 175. “It is less generalized and the outlook remains benign and core inflation remains at around 3 percent,” Guinigundo said. The BSP deputy governor also said low inflation gives them enough policy space to respond to any development occurring in the future. “I think we have sufficient monetary space should anything happen both in the global markets and the domestic economy,” he said.

SC expected to rule on DAP disbursement today Category: Nation 24 Oct 2013 Written by Joel R. San Juan Will the Supreme Court (SC) stop the disbursement of public funds through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP)? This question is expected to be answered on Friday during the 15-man special session of the High Tribunal where the reiterated plea for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) against DAP will be tackled. Former Iloilo Second District Rep. Augusto Syjuco Jr. filed the urgent motion for the issuance of a TRO stopping the Palace from further releasing the balance of the public money in the program even for the benefit of the victims of the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Bohol and Cebu. The SC magistrates, after debating on the matter, agreed during their regular en banc session last Tuesday to conduct a special session on Friday to finally address the plea against DAP. In his urgent motion for the issuance of a TRO, Syjuco said “succeeding occurrences and circumstances posit imminent and irreparable injury to the government.” Syjuco was referring to the statements made by Palace Spokesman Edwin Lacierda and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad indicating the Palace’s plan to use DAP in assisting the victims of the deadly earthquake in Bohol and Cebu. The former solon insisted that the disbursement of funds under DAP should be declared unconstitutional since no law was passed for its creation; the funds allocated for the DAP were illegally taken from budgets of slow moving projects which were not yet completed nor performed; and the DAP was and is being used to augment new budget allocations not approved by the legislature. Six petitions have been filed before the Court, all questioning the constitutionality of DAP. “Constitutional doctrines must remain steadfast no matter what may be the tides of time. It cannot be simply made to sway and accommodate the call of situations and much more tailor itself to the whims and caprices of government and the people who run it,” Syjuco said in his urgent motion. The Court had earlier moved from October 22 to November 19 the oral argument on the petitions.

Fishermen get ‘kikay’ livelihood kits By Dino Balabo (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 25, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

HAGONOY, Philippines – Why would fishermen need livelihood kits containing manicure sets? Residents in the coastal town of Masantol in Pampanga are asking this question after learning that a government livelihood program implemented in February 2010 supposedly released the livelihood kits to 200 fishermen. “It’s too much of an insult when they say manicure sets were given to 200 men here in Masantol, when we’re all fishermen here,” Bajun Lacap said in an interview with Radyo Bulacan on Wednesday. “When my town mates see me, they ask if I’ll do home service,” he noted in jest. Lacap, former Masantol vice mayor, said they were only informed about the “mysterious” project when representatives from the Office of the Ombudsman came to investigate. However, he said these Ombudsman personnel neither disclosed the source of funds for the project nor the implementing agency.

Lacap said the project is anomalous considering that their signatures were forged and even the dead, including his brother who passed away in 2009, were among those listed as beneficiaries. Masantol residents learned that each beneficiary supposedly received manicure and pedicure sets, training videos and training workshop amounting to P2,000. Bernardo Guevarra, president of the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) in Masantol, said they would need livelihood projects that would suit their needs. “Almost all of us are fishermen here and they would give us kikay kits,” he said. Target of scams Lacap said their town appears to be a target of scams. He recalled that when he was mayor in 2009, they were also informed that the town received funds from the Malampaya gas project.


Hydropower eyed for Palawan • •

Details Category: Regions 24 Oct 2013 PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan—A renewable-energy company is eyeing to grab a foothold of Palawan’s energy supply requirement through the construction of hydropower plants here and two other towns in the province. The Palawan-based Langogan Power Corp. said it can generate a combined 20 megawatts (MW) of electricity through the construction of hydropower plants at the Langogan, Batang Batang and Talakaigan rivers. Project Manager Jenny Monteagodo said the company is eyeing to generate a maximum of 10 MW at the Langogan River alone. Its proposed power plant site is in Barangay Langogan in this city. On the other hand, she said another proposed project tapping Batang Batang River’s potential power-generating capacity in Barangay Princess Urdunja, Sitio Mariwara in the town of Narra can generate 5 MW. Last, the company is eyeing to put up a power plant in Talakaigan river, specifically in Barangay Kabigaan, in the town of Aborlan. Various studies have confirmed the power-generation capacity of these rivers. Langogan Power has been conducting a study of the potentials of these renewable-energy sources since 2007, according to Monteagodo. Hydropower plants are being pushed as an alternative to fossil fuel power plants that currently generate electricity being distributed by the Palawan Electric Cooperative. Non-government groups like the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in the Philippines has been lobbying for investment in clean, renewable energy in lieu of “dirty” sources like coal. Coal, to note, forms nearly 90 percent of the country’s power source. The group has maintained that coal-fired power plants threaten the health of residents here, as well as the pristine environment of the province, considered as the country’s last frontier of biological diversity. The group launched on Tuesday a campaign to again urge the national and local governments, private-sector and financing institutions to invest in clean, renewable energy.

But the local power cooperative is not keen on accepting Langogan Power’s proposals, noting that it may not be able to deliver its promised power-generation capacity, particularly during the summer when rivers go dry. Currently, Palawan’s power supply comes from diesel and bunker fuel power plants generated by the National Power Corp., DMCI and Delta-P. DMCI is eyeing to put up a coal-fired power plant, initially in Narra. However, because of strong opposition of communities against the project, the company is now looking at Aborlan municipality. The proposed power plant will generate 15 MW of electricity. Meanwhile, a nickel mining company operating in Narra is eyeing to put up its own coal-fired power plant as part of its expansion plan. The company wants to put up a smelting plant to boost revenue from its nickel mine in the area. The mining company, as well as the push for the construction of coal-fired power plant in Palawan, is facing stiff opposition because of their destructive nature. The provincial government of Palawan, however, is tempted to allow the construction of a coalfired power plant despite the strong opposition expressed by various stakeholders in Palawan. A member of the Provincial Board of Palawan is lobbying in the town of Aborlan for officials of the local government and fisherfolk to give consent and approval. The proposed site is near a mangrove area, where hundreds of fishermen reside. WWF said there are alternative, more environment-friendly ways of generating power and electricity enough to supply Palawan’s energy requirement sans dirty coal or fossil-fuel power plants. Palawan is considered a “Man and Biosphere Reserve” by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The province is also home to two Unesco World Heritage Sites: the famous Tubbataha Reef and the Puerto Princesa Underground River.‐hydropower‐eyed‐for‐palawan        

BOC seizes P16‐M toxic chemicals, beer By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 25, 2013 ‐ 12:00am      googleplus    

Customs Commissioner Rufino Biazon inspects beer seized at the Manila International Container Port  yesterday. EDD GUMBAN 

MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Customs (BOC) seized yesterday P16.3 million worth of misdeclared items, including beer, motorcycles and toxic chemicals, allegedly smuggled into the Manila International Container Port (MICP) from Hong Kong. In a statement, BOC Commissioner Rufino Biazon said among the seized items are 160 containers of toluene diisocyanate, an extremely toxic chemical reportedly used in the manufacture of foam and firecrackers. The chemical, misdeclared as food ingredients, was consigned to Mythian Trading. “These are the type of shipments we are closely monitoring, as we will never allow the safety of the Filipinos to be compromised,” Biazon said.

The BOC also reported seizing 1,330 boxes of assorted beer and liquor from the United States. The shipment, misdeclared as beverages to avoid the payment of excise taxes, was consigned to Algebra Trading. The agency also seized electric motorcycles from China, misdeclared as e-bicycle parts and accessories. The shipment was consigned to Reigning King International. Nation ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1  

Two used trucks, a farm tractor, generator and used appliances from Japan were misdeclared by its consignee Seamrise Enterprises as used truck parts and used machinery. The BOC also said it confiscated “big bikes” from England that were misdeclared by its consignee, Masterlink Cargo System Inc., as personal effects.


Bill seeks to protect green sea turtles by Ellson Quismorio  October 25, 2013 (updated)  

Police officers confiscate dead sea turtles on a Vietnamese fishing boat at a port in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, on Oct. 21, 2013. The police seized nearly 300 apparently poached sea turtles and arrested 13 fishermen. Tawi-Tawi Rep. Ruby M. Sahali files House Bill 2771 urging the Congress to declare the Turtle Islands in Tawi-Tawi into a protected area under the control and administration of the Protected Area Management Board. (EPA) A lawmaker has urged Congress to declare a major nesting site of the endangered green sea turtle in Tawi-Tawi a wildlife sanctuary. House Bill 2771 by Tawi-Tawi Rep. Ruby M. Sahali turns the Turtle Islands in Tawi-Tawi into a protected area under the control and administration of the Protected Area Management Board.The Turtle Islands, established as a marine sanctuary by Presidential Proclamation No. 171 on Aug. 26, 1999, is one of only 10 breeding grounds for green sea turtles in the world. The board, the bill states, will conduct studies on the various characteristics, features and conditions of the Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary, and adopt and enforce a land-use scheme and

zoning plan in adjoining areas to control of activities that may threaten the ecological balance in the protected area. The bill prohibits hunting, destroying, disturbing or even possessing any of the plants and animals from the area without a permit from the board; and the dumping of any substances that could be harmful to the protected area.Violators will be punished by at most six years imprisonment or a fine of no more than P500,000. Sahali said it was incumbent upon Congress to declare the Turtle Islands a protected area to safeguard its ecological significance and protect the diminishing population of the green sea turtles.‐seeks‐to‐protect‐green‐sea‐turtles/                                    

Halal laboratory by Nonoy E. Lacson  October 24, 2013 (updated)  

Zamboanga City — The Department of Trade and Industry in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DTI-ARMM) has turned over P9.8 million worth of laboratory equipment to ARMM’s Regional Standards and Halal Testing Laboratory (RSHTL) in Cotabato city. The testing lab, run by ARMM’s Department of Science and Technology (DOST), was put up in 2011 as part of the region’s plan to become center of credible Halal Certification and the Halal industry in the country. DOST-ARMM Secretary Myra Alih said the testing lab is going to be initially manned by seven Muslim chemists who have undergone rigid trainings on Halal Laboratory procedures and testing. Alih said four of them are set to take further training at the Halal Science Center in Cholalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. “This is a breakthrough development for ARMM, especially in our bid to become the country’s Halal industry hub,” Alih said. She said the RSHTL will go into full operation next week, offering services that include microbial and Halal analysis clients based within and outside of the region.‐laboratory/                    

DOTC taps JICA for new airport study By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 25, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has tapped the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to determine the feasible location of a new airport that would either augment or replace the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) In an interview on the sidelines of the 39th Philippine Business Conference and Expo, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the Aquino administration has asked JICA to do a study on the possible replacement for NAIA. “This early we have requested JICA to do a study for a NAIA replacement airport. The basic parameter is that it should be 20 minutes away from the metropolis,” Abaya stressed. He pointed out that the agency has already presented two options to President Aquino as Malacañang is inclined to adopt the dual or twin airport system than a single airport system. The first option, he said, is to develop Clark International Airport in Pampanga, maximize the runway and terminal capacity of the 32-year old NAIA, and put up a new airport that would replace the congested international gateway. The option also involves the closure and the sale of the existing NAIA. On the other hand, Abaya said the second option entails the operation of the Clark International airport, NAIA, and the new airport. “We are going up to the President to get a final decision. We are now master planning Clark. We will invest in Clark but we won’t put all our eggs in Clark but we will make sure that we will stunt the growth in Clark. In NAIA, we will maximize runway capacity and terminal capacity and eventually we will hit a ceiling in NAIA either in 2018 or 2020,” he added.The DOTC chief said JICA would help immediately determine the feasible location of the new international airport as it would take at least 10 years to build the new facility. “One good example is Sangley in Cavite. That is only one of the areas being considered, there are other areas. It should be determined right away so we can start the construction. It takes maybe 10 years to build an airport,” he added. As early as May, the government decided to adopt a dual airport system by upgrading NAIA and develop Clark while building an alternate international gateway within Metro Manila. The Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) is completing the P360 million expansion of the existing terminal and is set to put up a P7.2 billion budget terminal.‐taps‐jica‐new‐airport‐study

Phl breaches sales goal at Germany food fair By Louella D. Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 25, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines generated a total of $58.2 million worth of sales from its participation in the Anuga food trade fair held in Germany earlier this month. “We have surpassed our target sales of $35 million for this year. Also, this year’s total sales is 66 percent higher compared to our sales during the previous edition of the Anuga,” Trade Undersecretary Ponciano Manalo Jr. said in a statement yesterday. Last year, total sales from the country’s participation in the fair amounted to $35.1 million. Manalo noted that bulk, or $20.5 million, of the country’s sales from the world’s largest food and beverage fair this year was generated by exhibitors under the recently launched Design for Exports Program for the Food Sector (DEFood), which features seven of the country’s top products. The DEFood involves product development and branding, food packaging development and enhancement, alignment to market requirements, as well as promotion in local and international markets. The seven products dubbed as the Philippine Premium 7 include coconut, pineapple, mango, banana, coffee, cacao and tuna. The products were chosen based on versatility, global demand and strength in exports. “This program supports small and medium scale food enterprises in developing products that will cater to the premium market. In creating the DEFood’s Philippine Premium 7, our goal is to create and promote a Philippine brand for premium foods,” Manalo said. The Philippine business delegation to the Anuga trade fair was composed of 18 regular exhibitors and 26 institutional exhibitors under the DEFood. Among the regular exhibitors, the best-selling products were seafood and marine products such as tuna, sardines and mackerel, with sales for the product category amounting to $13.4 million.The other popular products were consolidated and assorted Philippine ethnic food such as rice sticks and noodles, vinegar, sauces, mixes, and sautéed shrimp paste, with sales reaching $10.7 million. “In penetrating the European market, we are concentrating on bulk orders from the manufacturing sector by supplying semi-processed materials for their finished products. We also supply products for established brands,” Manalo said.

Information: National Food Safety Awareness Week October 24, 2013  

To address the need for continuing education on food safety, Presidential Proclamation No. 160 s. 1999, designated the period October 25-29 to be celebrated as National Food Safety Awareness Week. Leading the week-long activities is the Department of Health (DOH) in cooperation with private and government agencies. The DOH, one of whose primary concerns is food safety, seeks to disseminate information about the consequence of improper food handling on people’s health, and to heighten public awareness about proper food preparation practices. Liberalized global trade policies, and the increasing demand of consumers in both industrialized and developing countries for food that is healthy, tasty, and safe, has led to changes in production around the world. The recent decades have witnessed a growing competition among food manufacturers on food safety and quality, to win acceptability for their products in the market. Recognizing that food contamination can occur at various stages of food production, preparation, and consumption, the health department has issued advisories that frozen, pre-cooked, uncooked, grilled, and canned food should be handled properly to avoid contamination. Food safety is also an issue among small establishments and street food vendors. The celebration of Food Safety Awareness Week serves as a timely reminder to all concerned to observe hygienic preparation and handling of food. It also urges the public to be wary of street food that may not have been prepared properly under hygienic conditions. Kitchens should be free of pests that can cause contamination. It is also important to properly and thoroughly wash food containers. We congratulate the Department of Health headed by Secretary Dr. Enrique T. Ona, Undersecretaries Dr. Nemesio T. Gako, Dr. Teodoro J. Herbosa. Dr. Medeleine R. Valera, and Dr. Janette L. Garin, for their unwavering effort in our Republic of the Philippines. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY!‐national‐food‐safety‐awareness‐week/            

Davao coco pest study bags nat’l tilt by Alexander D. Lopez  October 25, 2013  

DAVAO CITY – A recent study on integrated pest management against a coconut pest known as Brontispa longissima that was submitted as an official entry of the Southern Mindanao Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium (SMARRDEC) to the 2013 development category of the National Symposium on Agriculture and Resources Research and Development (NSARRD) was awarded the best research paper in the national level. The study was commissioned by a Davao-based research and development (R&D) consortium and was funded by the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD). In a statement sent to the Manila Bulletin, Dr. Lourdes Generalao, SMARRDEC director, lauded the research team composed of Dr. Cynthia Gallego, Vivencio Gallego, Ivorie Dela Torre, and Jenycar Gallego all of the Philippine Coconut Authority-Davao Research Center (PCA-DRC). “The study makes use of parasitoid Tentrastichus sp. that infests the larval and pupal stages of Brontispa longissima,” Dr. Generalao said, adding that the parasitoid would eventually sterilize and consume its host. She extended gratitude to the members of the research team whom she said had made significant contributions to country’s coconut industry that remain as the country’s top earner in agricultural exports in the recent years. The research, she emphasized, is technically feasible and socio-economically acceptable at the farm level not only in Davao region but also in the country. Vivencio Gallego, a member of the research team, in an interview, said that the pest Brontispa longissima entered in the Philippines through shipments and imports of ornamental. He added that the pest is invasive and have proven that its infestation could result to heavy losses for coconut growers in the region and even in neighboring provinces. Gallego said that in the study, they had developed a cost-effective and environmentally sound integrated pest management strategy by tapping a parasitoid called Tetrastichus sp, Brontispa’s natural enemy. The strategy will grow more Tetrastichus sp, release them in coconut plantations to eliminate Brontispa in a natural and cost-effective way, he added. After proving the effectiveness of said integrated pest management, the PCA-DRC was able to spread the technique to coconut farmers and growers nationwide.

Dr. Generalao added in the statement that from 2010 to 2012, PCA-DRC has released 1.054 million Tetrastichus sp to coconut growers in Central Visayas, Davao, SOCCSKSARGEN, and Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The research center here, she said, has also trained 1,678 coconut growers from Central Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, SOCCSKSARGEN, and Caraga on Tetrastichus sp production and helped establish a total of 52 laboratories nationwide. Brontispa longissima has already infested coconut trees in the country and the need to aggressively educate the growers and farmers through sustained information campaigns is crucial, she said. “The use of pesticides will only give temporary relief” she said, adding that biological control as an alternative approach offers sustainable and effective means to control the infestation of Brontispa longissima.‐coco‐pest‐study‐bags‐natl‐tilt/                                

SSS extends work week to serve more members By Michelle V. Remo  Philippine Daily Inquirer   10:55 pm | Thursday, October 24th, 2013  

The Social Security System on Thursday announced that it would extend its work week by another day to make its services more accessible to members. Starting on Oct. 26, every branch of the SSS will be open for business every Saturday. The SSS has 5,000 employees working in 132 branches nationwide. The SSS also has 23 satellite offices in malls that are open Tuesdays to Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. “Under the new schedule, SSS branches will be open to serve members from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Saturday on top of regular hours from Mondays to Fridays,” said Edgar Solilapsi, SSS executive vice president. The pension fund decided to open on Saturdays because some of its members could not make the necessary transactions on weekdays, Solilapsi said in a statement Thursday.

The SSS has 30 million individual members and 871,000 registered employers. Recently, the SSS came under fire when it was reported that each of its eight directors received a bonus of around P1 million for the company’s performance in 2012. The SSS drew the ire of militant groups and several pension fund members, who complained about the difficulty in transacting business with the SSS. They likewise said that the granting of hefty bonuses was unfair, especially because the pension fund manager is set to hike members’ contribution rate in January, supposedly to trim the unfunded liability of the SSS. But the pension fund said the bonuses were given in accordance with the performance-incentives system applied to all government firms. The bonuses, it also said, were given because the financial condition of the SSS has been improving.‐extends‐work‐week‐to‐serve‐more‐members  

Banks secure BSP nod to open new branches By Paolo G. Montecillo  Philippine Daily Inquirer   3:54 am | Thursday, October 24th, 2013  

The central bank has approved the opening of new branches for several local banks in the coming months, in line with efforts for the promotion of a more inclusive financial system. In a circular letter released this week, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said six universal and commercial banks, six thrift banks, and 13 rural banks were given the authority to open new branches in various parts of the country. The opening of the new branches was approved by the BSP during various meetings in the second quarter of the year, circular letter 2013-58 showed. Robinsons Bank Corp. of the Gokongwei group led the pack when it was given the greenlight to open 21 new branches this year. BDO Unibank Inc., the main banking arm of retail tycoon Henry Sy’s business empire, was allowed to open 17 new branches in the second quarter. Other universal and commercial banks that secured the BSP’s nod were Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co., Philippine Bank of Communications, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., and China Banking Corp.

Chinabank Savings Corp., an affiliate of BDO, may open 18 new branches. Other thrift banks given the greenlight were Philippine Savings Bank, Philippine Business Bank, RCBC Savings, Security Bank Savings and Sun Savings Bank. Among rural lenders, the Bank of Makati was ahead when it got the BSP’s blessing to open 15 new branches in the coming months—all of them in Metro Manila. Last year, the BSP lifted its restrictions on the number of branches that banks may put up as it tried to promote the expansion of the country’s financial system to reach more people. The BSP said the number of a bank’s branches would only be limited by the size of its capital base. The number of banks, including head officers and branches, in the country increased to 9,543 at the end of June this year, from 9,207 the year before, latest data from the BSP showed.‐secure‐bsp‐nod‐to‐open‐new‐branches  

Equity‐linked insurance products gain popularity By Doris C. Dumlao  Philippine Daily Inquirer   3:50 am | Thursday, October 24th, 2013  

Filipinos are gobbling up more equity-laced variable unit-linked (VUL) insurance products in search of better yields given the prevailing low-interest rate environment. This is also amid expectations that equities will continue to outperform fixed-income instruments for the long haul, driven by robust corporate earnings and a rosy macroeconomic backdrop, said Arleen May Guevara, chief investment officer at The Philippine American Life and General Insurance Co. (Philam Life). Sharing the view that the Philippines is “still in a sweet spot,” Guevara said that corporate Philippines may grow its earnings by 12-14 percent in 2014. This is despite the likely drag on earnings by the banking sector, which posted this year large extraordinary gains that will be difficult to replicate next year. “The fundamentals are there. It still makes sense to invest in the Philippines and participate in that kind of growth,” Guevara said.

She noted that many analysts expect equities to still outperform fixed income instruments, at least in the next two to three years. For Philam Life, 80 percent of its sales are now coming from VUL and 20 percent from traditional life insurance products. Around 70 percent of its VUL sales consist of equity-laced funds, including the balanced funds. Eric Nicdao, senior agency manager at Philam Life, said this growing market preference for equity-laced funds reflected investors’ search for better yields. VUL, a hybrid between a mutual fund and life insurance, becomes variable as investment returns depend on the market performance of the fund where the premium is invested. With more funds to be unlocked from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ special deposit accounts, Philam Life officials said there was great opportunity to look at investment options. “An individual looking for capital growth should always look for investments that offer returns higher than inflation, to grow their money over time and reach their long-term financial goals,” Nicdao said.‐linked‐insurance‐products‐gain‐popularity

Customs seizes P16m in smuggled goods By Joel E. Zurbano | Posted 9 hours ago | 166 views Customs agents at the Manila International Container Port have intercepted shipments of hazardous chemicals, used trucks, motorbikes and other smuggled items worth P16.3 million from London, Japan, the United States, China and Hong Kong. The container vans loaded with 160 packages of Toluene Diisocyanate from Hong Kong was consigned to Mythian Trading, which described the shipment in its import manifest as food ingredients. “These are the type of shipments we are closely monitoring as we will never allow the safety of the Filipinos to be compromised,” Customs Commissioner Rufino Biazon said. He said Toluene Diisocyanate, when inhaled, causes eye irritation and affects the respiratory, gastro-intestinal and the central nervous systems. Experiments on animals have also shown that long exposure to the chemical increases the incidence of tumor on the pancreas, liver and the mammary glands.Also seized were 608 cartons and 40 boxes of electric motorbikes from China that were consigned to Reigning King International. The e-bikes were also declared as parts and accessories. The shipments of two completely built used trucks, a farm tractor, a generator and used appliances from Japan were consigned to Seamrise Enterprises and were declared as used truck parts and used machinery. The motorcycle from London was declared by its consignee, Masterlink Cargo System Inc., as personal effects, while the 1,330 cartons of assorted beers and liquor from the US, which were consigned to Algebra Trading, were declared beverages to avoid excise taxes. Biazon said all the shipments were intercepted by his men from the MICP-X-ray Inspection Project led by its chief Robert Quintana. “The seizure of these goods, particularly the extremely toxic chemicals, highlights the need for the bureau’s reform program to succeed,” he said.‐seizes‐p16m‐in‐smuggled‐goods/

Binay, Estrada back PNoy’s refusal to say sorry to HK By PNA | Posted 9 hours ago | 920 views Vice President Jejomar Binay and former president now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada on Thursday expressed their support to President Benigno Aquino’s firm decision not to apologize over the deaths of eight Hong Kong tourists in a 2010 hostage crisis. In an interview in Tondo, Manila, the two officials said they believe that Aquino’s stance on the issue is reasonable. “In my opinion, President Noynoy’s explanation was valid,” Binay said. “The incident took place in Manila, how come the entire country is being blamed?” But Binay also backed Manila Mayor Estrada’s move to apologize for the unfortunate event. Estrada is planning to deliver his apology to Hong Kong, as an effort to convince it to lift its black travel warning against the Philippines. “Manila’s plan of issuing an apology is also correct since it took in Manila,” he said. Reacting on the Hong Kong’s demand for apology, Estrada on the other hand echoed the vice president’s statement. “We are only speaking of our city not of the entire country. There is no need for the President to apologize. The incident happened in Manila not in the entire country,” said Estrada. “Since it took place in Manila. So, the mayor is accountable to everything which took place in his area of responsibility.” Estrada expressed his apology to the victims of the hostage crisis in the capital. “I am apologizing to all Hong Kong residents over the incident which should not have taken place,” he said.‐estrada‐back‐pnoys‐refusal‐to‐say‐ sorry‐to‐hk/      

Aquino moves to stem skid in ratings By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted 9 hours ago | 382 views In an apparent media blitz to stem dipping public satisfaction ratings, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III has ordered Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma to help beef up Malacanang’s public information efforts and started on Monday to preside over some of the Palace’s daily briefings. But Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda cautioned journalists against imputing any political color in the change in schedules because he and deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte welcomed Coloma’s offer of assistance since it frees their respective schedules. “Secretary Coloma asked us if he can do alternated briefings with me and Abi. Since we’ve been doing this for more than three years, we were more than happy to accommodate him as this frees our schedule to do our other work like our daily meetings with the President,” Lacierda said. “In fact, I decided to give him Tuesday, Thursday and the Sunday briefings,” he added, forwarding a message from Coloma where the latter wrote: “I can do MPC briefing on alternate basis with either of you.” Coloma ecohoed Lacierda’s remarks. “We belong to one team, and that is the communication team of President Aquino. We are one in our efforts to deliver clear and correct information in a timely manner and to improve our communication system,” Coloma said.

“In everything we do, we are committed to our desire to further improve our work. Continuous improvement is part of the work ethic of this administration, and the communications team is not exempted from this,” Coloma said. Coloma began holding press conferences this week, and will continue to do so every Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

Previously, only presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda and deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte held press briefings every day. Under the new system, Lacierda will preside over the press briefing every Mondays and Wednesdays and Valte will do it every Fridays and Saturdays. A Palace source said Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. spoke with Lacierda and Valte this week to inform them of the new set-up. Ochoa reportedly underscored complaints from some media practitioners as well as the need to improve the communication system. The need for additional muscle at the presidential briefings apparently emerged after Aquino suffered a 15-percentage point drop in his approval rations in the latest survey of the Social Weather Stations. A separate survey of Pulse Asia also showed that majority of Filipinos believe that the misuse of the pork barrel funds continued even during Aquino’s term. Lacierda and Valte belong to the so-called “Balay group” that is associated with campaign team of Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II when he unsuccessfully ran for vice president in the 2010 elections. Balay is the Visayan term for “house” referring to the Roxas family residence which was adjacent to Mar’s campaign headquarters in Cubao, Quezon City. Coloma, on the other hand, is part of the so-called “Samar group” associated with the President’s sisters Pinky and Ballsy as well as Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, which met at a house on Samar Street near Timog Avenue, also in Quezon City.‐moves‐to‐stem‐skid‐in‐ratings/            

DoJ seeks to cancel 3 senators’ passports By Rey E. Requejo | Posted 9 hours ago | 157 views The Department of Justice asked the Foreign Affairs Department on Thursday to immediately cancel the passports of Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and 34 others who were earlier criminally charged before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the P10 billion pork barrel fund anomaly. In a related development, the Bureau of Internal Revenue filed a criminal complaint with the Department of Justice against Neal Jose O. Gonzalez, brother of Gigi Reyes, chief of staff of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, for tax evasion. The BIR said Gonzalez deprived the government of taxes in the total amount of P190.14 million Justice Secretary Leila de Lima , in a letter to Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario dated October 23, 2013, said there was a strong probability that Enrile and the other respondents who are facing either plunder, malversation, direct bribery and other graft and corrupt practices will attempt to leave the country. De Lima said the National Bureau of Investigation has enough evidence against accused in the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel, thus, most of them are likely to end up in detention pending the trial of the case. To avoid arrest, detention and prosecution, it is likely that they will leave the country, De Lima said. De Lima said the DOJ decided to cancel the passports of those charged to prevent them from leaving the country like what Reyes, former social secretary Ruby Tuason, former Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza and former Technology Resource Center Antonio Ortiz did. She said that under the constitution and Section 4 of the Philippine Passport Act of 1996, the government may limit a person’s the right to travel “ in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health.”

The DFA, however, said on Thursday that it has yet to receive the DOJ request, according to department spokesman Raul Hernandez. However, Hernandez assured the public that as soon as they receive the letter, they will assess the DOJ request for appropriate action. “When we receive one, we will assess such and proceed from there,” Hernandez said. The cancellation of a passport is normally circulated in all Philippine embassies and consulates globally. After the issuance of the circular, a person found to be travelling abroad with a cancelled passport may be held by immigration authorities and can be deported. Meanwhile, de Lima indicated that no member or ally of the ruling Liberal Party would be included in the second batch of PDAF charges being prepared by the NBI, and expected to be filed before the Ombudsman next week. She maintained that the NBI probe on the controversy is limited to the testimonies of whistleblowers against Napoles and the supporting evidence. Senator Estrada had earlier criticized the DOJ for being selective in investigating the PDAF scam, since only opposition senators were charged when administration allies – including House majority floor leader and Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales II and former An Waray Rep. Florencio Noel – had also been mentioned in the COA report with questionable disbursements. De Lima disclosed that the lawmakers and non-government organizations included in the COA report apart from those linked to Napoles would be subject of the investigation of the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft and Corruption Council. With Jennifer Ambanta and Sara Susanne Fabunan‐seeks‐to‐cancel‐3‐senators‐passports/        

Miriam raps Chiz, Frank, Johnny over bigger pork By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Posted 9 hours ago | 1,028 views The three senators who were named the biggest recipients of pork barrel appropriations could brag that those had funded useful projects, but that would be begging the question, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said Thursday. She said the issue confronting Senate President Franklin Drilon, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, and Senator Francis Escudero was whether the DAP was constitutional. The other issues confronting the three—who had been named by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad as the biggest recipients of the Disbursement Acceleration Program— included whether or not they received kickbacks from their bonanzas and why they had been favored over the other legislators, Santiago said. “I myself believe that the DAP should be abolished for being unconstitutional,” she said, adding that all disbursements coming from it were equally “illegal and unconstitutional.” Santiago earlier told reporters that the three senators could be held liable for bribery for receiving P100 million in additional “pork” under the so-called DAP, which was said to have been released after the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona in May 2012. Santiago said she would not allow any of her colleagues to deflect their criminal liability over the Presidential Development Assistance Fund by harping on the DAP system from which they themselves profited. Former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco Jr. had earlier accused Drilon as the promoter of the use and disbursements of the DAP when he was the Senate’s finance committee chairman. But Drilon said the P100 million he requested under the DAP in December 2012 was neither misused nor wrongfully allocated. He insisted he used it to finance infrastructure projects in Iloilo City, which was eying to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation ministerial meeting in 2015.

He said he could account for every peso that was allocated for those projects, and that he did not have a history of malfeasance and misuse of government funds. He also said not a single centavo from his allocation was channeled to the nongovernment organizations linked to businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the P10-billion pork barrel scam. But like Drilon, Enrile and Escudero remained mum about why they got more than the other lawmakers who were given only P50 million each. They merely said that they spent the money on public projects. Santiago said President Benigno Aquino III was “mostly correct” in insisting that the first item of business over the pork barrel scam should be to jail, if warranted, the senators and representatives charged by the NBI with plunder before the Ombudsman. “President Aquino’s priorities are correct,” |Santiago said. “For the purposes of deterrence, it is more efficient to send senators to jail if they are guilty of plunder.”‐raps‐chiz‐frank‐johnny‐over‐bigger‐ pork/                      

Agency asks Customs to seize rice bags By Anna Leah G. Estrada | Posted 8 hours ago | 44 views The National Food Authority on Wednesday asked the Bureau of Customs to impound 243,000 bags of rice which were shipped into the country via the Port of Davao. In a statement, NFA said the shipper failed to obtain permits and other documents equired for importing grains. NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag in his letter to Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon last October 22, 2013, he identified the consignees as Bold Bidder Marketing & General Merchandise with 25,000 bags that arrived on Aug. 7 and 12, 2013, Jade Bros. Farms & Livestock, Inc. with 77,000 bags that arrived on July 26 and Aug. 11, 2013, Medaglia de Oro Trading with 45,000 bags on July 27, Aug. 7, 10 and 19, 2013, Silent Royalty Marketing, with 68,000 bags on Aug. 10, 18, 28 and Sept. 4, 2013, and Starcraft Trading orp. with 28,000 bags on Sept. 21 and Oct. 1, 2013. He said the shipments were confirmed by Davao District Collector lawyer Raymond Ventura. Calayag said Customs staff allowed the rice to leave the port premises even as the agency asked a separate shipment of 69,500 bags of rice had been put on hold on the agency’s request.‐asks‐customs‐to‐seize‐rice‐bags/              

Top breeders give fish hobbyists advice By Carlos Ardosa | Posted 8 hours ago | 20 views Freshwater fish hobbyists are assured of expert advice and best practices from storeowners at the Las Farolas on Frontera Drive beside Tiendesitas on Ortigas Ave., Pasig City. The outlets belong to founding members of the Ornamental Freshwater Fish Breeders and Exporters Association of the Philippines led by president Henry Babiera. He also serves as president and chief executive of Moment Philippines which operates Las Farolas, founded in 2012 to work with the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources toward the preservation and conservation of endemic freshwater species through research, breeding and growing-out facility and save them from becoming extinct. Babiera is joined in the advocacy by Jojo Velasco of Mojo’s Aquatic Escape, Edmar Acorin of Acorin Petshop, Joseph Cabral of Primo Aquatics Trading, Dennis Hipolito, Lodeth Avila of LAB’s Pet Essentials, Bernard Cenizal of Joy-Joy Petshop and Antonio Baldo of Fishaholics to give professional advice on feeding, health and water parameters. “OFBEAP will also vigorously exert its efforts to help the local freshwater fish breeders and exporters industry raise their products in commercial quantity that would be available to some parts of the world where there is a large market,” Babiera said. “It’s about time that the Philippines should get a slice of this multi-million dollar industry which thrives in neighboring countries like China, Thailand and Indonesia.” According to Babiera, the association recognizes the value of fishes as part of the food chain and will spearhead the aggressive development of the local freshwater fish breeding and exporting industry aimed atboosting the government’s thrust to create jobs and generate revenue through exports.‐breeders‐give‐fish‐hobbyists‐advice/  

P100M to rebuild churches By Vito Barcelo | Posted 8 hours ago | 25 views At least P100 million was needed to repair several centuries-old Roman Catholic churches in Cebu and Bohol, which were damaged by 7.2 magnitude earthquake last October 15, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said on Wednesday. Fr. Milan Ted Torralba, executive secretary of the Permanent Committee for the Cultural Heritage of the Church (PCCHC), said at least eight churches were damaged by the quake but restoration work has started on some of them. “There is still a possbility to restore those damaged churches but it will take a lot of money, time and resources. As of now, we have ruims that are off limits to the public. We have to build makeshit chapels to provide for the pastoral needs of the people,” Torralba said. The quake, one of the strongest to hit the country in years, killed 190 people, destroyed centuries-old churches and public infrastructure in the provinces of Cebu and Bohol. At least three million people were affected. Assistance in the form of cash and relief goods poured in from different parts of the world. But the cost in terms of human suffering was high. Torralba said the rubbles from the damged churches will be used in the reconstruction because of “their value in terms of aesthetic, historical and religious significance.” “Parts of the churches were mostly excavated and quarried hundreds of years ago. We can still use the materials present and find other materials that will make our churches firmer, and with the help of technology of our time, there is s good possibility of restoring those churches,” he said. Torralba said engineers will use photo documentation to restore the churches to their original looks.‐to‐rebuild‐churches/    

Who’s sorry now? By Manila Standard Today | Posted 9 hours ago | 737 views

President Aquino is adamant: he will not apologize to Hong Kong for the death of eight Chinese tourists in the Luneta hostage tragedy more than three years ago. That act, he said, was committed by one deranged person—so why drag the whole nation with the folly of a single, mentally disturbed policeman who had been dismissed from his job? The issue has festered for years and has caused a backlash aimed at Filipino workers and tourists in Hong Kong, who have reported rude and discriminating behavior by the Chinese against them, by virtue of their being Filipino. The Hong Kong government has also issued a travel advisory to its citizens against visiting the Philippines. It appears time has not healed past grudges. The Hong Kong leader barely spoke with President Aquino during a recent conference in Bali. Aquino has been playing hard ball and has maintained his stance. He is a softie, however, when it comes to his friends, some of who were deemed accountable for the deaths by a fact-finding committee, headed by Justice Secretary

Leila De Lima. Aquino practically ignored the committee’s recommendations. At best, the erring officials who were close to the President were given token slaps on the wrist. Mr. Aquino seems unable, or refuses, to distinguish between the police officer Rolando Mendoza’s act of taking tourists hostage and the government’s responsibility to execute a seamless rescue plan as a response to Mendoza’s act. Sure, nobody coaxed the former policeman to do what he did. But police and local government officials had the responsibility to bring the hostages to safety. In that, they clearly failed. Now the mayor of Manila where the hostage taking incident occurred, Joseph Estrada, has done what the President should have done a long time ago: say sorry to the people of Hong Kong for the deaths of their compatriots. It was another bungling official who was mayor of Manila at that time, but Estrada insists it is his duty to apologize, and apologize now. Estrada and Vice President Jejomar Binay say they agree with Aquino’s refusal to apologize on behalf of the entire country. We think they are patronizing the President, and taking advantage of the patently arrogant and unjust decision of the chief executive to boost their own political stock. After all, everybody loves the humble underdog. We don’t agree with any of the three. It is our country, not individual cities, that deals with the outside world. Mr. Aquino’s people, national and local officials both, bungled the job, and this bungling must be acknowledged and apologized for. Nobody else can do this but the President of the land.‐sorry‐now/              

Oil discovered in Cebu By Alena Mae S. Flores | Posted 8 hours ago | 159 views Gas2Grid Ltd. of Australia has filed an application with the Energy Department to declare Malolos-1oil well in Cebu as an oil discovery. Gas2Grid disclosed to the Australia Stock Exchange oil successfully flowed from two oil bearing sandstones in Malolos-1 at depths over 2,000 meters. The company said oil was produced on short-term test at indicative production rates of 100 to 200 barrels of oil per day. “We are confident that further testing of Malolos-1 will result in commercial oil production from a much larger Malolos oil field than currently assessed,” the company said. Gas2Grid said the two oil-bearing areas were recently tested for only short periods of time and showed commercial productive capacity. It said the two wells should be tested for a longer period in order to establish commerciality. Gas2Grid managing director Dennis Morton said the application for declaration of an oil discovery was the first step in appraising and developing the Malolos oil field.‐discovered‐in‐cebu/                  

Post-retirement program for retiring government employees pushed October 24, 2013 10:35 am A lawmaker has filed a bill seeking to provide an alternative for employees, who opt to leave government, to venture into entrepreneurial activities and provide the necessary post-service assistance to its retiring employees. Rep. Susan Yap of Tarlac City has filed House Bill 410, which aims to make government a partner in honing the entrepreneurial skills of its employees to prepare them for better economic opportunities after working with government. “It is the duty of the State to provide post-service assistance programs for purposes of allowing the retirees of government agencies to further evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities which can help them improve their living conditions after their retirement from government office,” Yap said. Yap said the Philippine government is the biggest single employer of people with over 1.6 million workers in its employ allocating a significant portion of its annual budget to personal services. “Competitive government employees shift to private employment upon the instance of opportunities while the rest opt to pursue public service until retirement,” Yap added. The bill mandates all government offices and agencies to prepare a post service Entrepreneurship Development Program (EDP) for its retiring employees. These programs shall be designed to help employees learn what they need to know to develop ideas and actualize them into successful businesses, and how to increase entrepreneurial opportunities in their respective municipalities, provinces and regions. “These programs will be designed to introduce retiring government employees to technology transfer systems, entrepreneurial educational programs and entrepreneurial networks,” Yap said. To be known as the Government Employees’ Entrepreneurship Development Act of 2013,” the bill aims to guarantee the continuous flow of innovative and developmentoriented government programs and projects for entrepreneurial development. “The measure ensures the maintenance of highly competitive government employees and the creative use of such resources whether in-service or post-service,” Yap said. Under the measure, the EDP shall be designed to help employees learn what they need to know to develop and actualize ideas into successful businesses, aid them how to increase entrepreneurial opportunities in their respective municipalities, provinces and regions, and introduce them to technology transfer systems, entrepreneurial educational programs and networks.

Likewise, all government agencies shall promote and support the establishment of cooperatives with the assistance of the Cooperative Development Authority, and of savings and loans associations (SLAs). Under the bill, government employees’ cooperatives shall have preferential rights to operate revenue-generating activities in available government-owned sites and facilities, provided these activities don’t interfere with their work. The agency head concerned shall link up with government financial institutions (GFIs) to provide sources of financing for the employees’ entrepreneurial projects. GFI experts shall be tapped to conduct lectures, workshops and live case studies of successful entrepreneurs. The participants shall be taught how to identify and evaluate opportunities for business ventures and understand the system of capital investment. The Civil Service Commission (CSC) shall promulgate the rules and regulations needed to implement the provisions of the proposed act. PNA‐retirement‐program‐for‐retiring‐government‐employees‐ pushed/47318/                          

DOJ wants Revilla, Jinggoy, JPE passports cancelled October 24, 2013 10:45 pm by Jefferson Antiporda Reporter and Jomar Canlas Senior Reporter Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Thursday asked the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to cancel the passports of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and several others implicated in the pork barrel scam. De Lima made the request through a letter. Aside from the three senators and those who have fled the Philippines, the Justice chief also sought the cancellation of the passports of Masbate Gov. and former representative Rizalina Seachon-Lanete; former APEC party-list representative Edgar Valdez; former Benguet representative Samuel Dangwa; former Cagayan de Oro Rep. Constantino Jaraula; Richard Cambe, a member of Revilla’s staff; Pauline Labayen, Estrada’s staff; Jose “Joy” Sumalpong, former chief of staff of Lanete; Jeanette dela Cruz, Lanete’s district staff; Erwin Dangwa, Dangwa’s chief of staff; Carlos Lozada, also a staff of Dangwa; Alan Javellana, former president of the National Agribusiness Corp.; Gondelina Amata, president of the National Livelihood Development Corp.; Dennis Cunanan, current director general of the TRC and Ortiz’s former deputy; Salvador Salacup, Agriculture assistant secretary and former president of ZNAC Rubber Estate Corp.; Jocelyn Piorato, president of Agrikultura Para sa Magbubukid Foundation Inc.; Nemesio Pablo, president of Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc.; Mylene Encarnacion, president of the Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic and Development Foundation Inc.; John Raymund de Asis, president of the Kaupdanan Para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc.; Evelyn de Leon, president of the Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc.; Ronald John Lim, president of the Ginintuang Alay sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc.; Victor Cabal, Julie Johnson, and Rodhora Mendoza, all of Nabcor; Alexis Sevidal, Sofia Cruz and Chila Jalandoni of NLDC; and Francisco Figura and Marivic Jover of TRC. Only Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged brains of the pork barrel scam, is behind bars but for a separate complaint of serious illegal detention. Jessica “Gigi” Reyes, Enrile’s former chief of staff, and Ruby Chan Tuason, the supposed “arms” of Estrada and Enrile, have left the country. In justifying her request, De Lima cited Section 6, Article III of the Constitution and the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 allowing limitations on the right to travel, “in the interest of national security.”

De Lima said these “politicians and their cohorts who pluck the food away from a hungry child’s mouth are no different from the terrorists who sow physical insecurity among the populace, when they cause economic insecurity among the people by stealing livelihood resources and money intended for calamity relief.” “On another angle, the money stolen by the subject persons could have also been easily used for improving the country’s external and internal defense infrastructure through the modernization of the armed forces and the national police. The estimated billions of pesos stolen can easily finance the Navy’s requirements for modern frigates and other warships, the Air Force’s need for sophisticated fighter jets, and the Army’s and Police’s requests for upgraded weaponry, vehicles, communications systems, and protective gear. Instead of going to these security modernization projects, the money went to corruption to feed the luxurious lifestyle of the few social predators among us who masquerade as public servants.” The DFA said it will assess the request once it formally receives a copy of de Lima’s letter. Under the Philippines Passport Act, a passport can be cancelled if its holder is a fugitive from justice, is convicted of a crime and is proven to have tampered with the document or fraudulently acquired the passport. The camp of Revilla branded the request “ridiculous”. “Unless we are now under martial law, it is ridiculous for this government to resort to cancellation of passports of those they wrongfully charge as part of the pork barrel scam,” said Joel Bodegon, Revilla’s counsel. “They (Department of Justice) have already filed their report to the Ombudsman, and by that, they have no authority any longer to declare those they charge as “national security risk,” Bodegon added. Estrada for his part said that they are not considered as security threat, and that no charges have been filed against them before the Sandiganbayan. With a report from Bernice Camille Bauzon‐wants‐revilla‐jinggoy‐jpe‐passports‐cancelled/47573/          

Campaigning in groups not allowed – Pimentel October 24, 2013 10:43 pm by Anthony Vargas Correspondent and Joel M. Sy Egco Reporter At Large

Hundreds of policemen stand at attention in Camp Crame as they wait for their deployment orders for the barangay elections on Monday. Photo By Miguel De Guzman THE “father” of the law that created local government units (LGU) on Thursday said candidates who are campaigning for barangay positions as a team or a group are violating the law against partisanship which may lead to their disqualification. Former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr., the principal author of the Local Government Code, stopped short of saying that the barangay election system was a failure because the Commission on Elections (Comelec) failed to “strictly implement the law.” “The principle on non-partisanship is not observed. Forming a team of barangay candidates is illegal. You are not supposed to campaign as a group. A candidate can only campaign for himself. That is the law,” Pimentel told The Manila Times. The former senate president observed that candidates seem unaware of this prohibition as posters containing the names and faces of rival “teams” litter the entire country. “The law should be implemented. There is a glaring lack of implementation of the law. It is an oversight on the part of the Comelec because it is supposed to implement the law strictly,” Pimentel said. “It is not the fault of the law [why these violations are being committed]. It is the lack of strict implementation of the law [that should be blamed],” he stressed. ‘Not prohibited’ But Comelec spokesman James Jimenez offered a different view. According to him,

while the law prohibits “partisanship and the participation of political parties” in the barangay elections, “informal groups are not prohibited.” “Per our interpretation, informal grouping that is short of forming an organization is allowed. We have no ruling on that yet,” Jimenez told the Times, stressing that they have yet to encounter a case wherein one candidate has lodged a complaint against a rival “team.” “Kung may mag-file ng complaint, dun lang mag-uusap [If a complaint is filed, that will be discussed]. If that is challenged . . . we will welcome anything that clarifies the law,” he added. Jimenez said they are on the lookout for violations on the sizes and locations of campaign posters being used by candidates. He added that mayors, governors and lawmakers should not give support to barangay candidates. “When a violation is committed, we talk to the complainant and pursue a disqualification case,” the poll body official said. Non-partisan Section 38 of the Omnibus Election Code explicitly states that “The barangay election shall be non-partisan and shall be conducted in an expeditious and inexpensive manner.” “No person who files a certificate of candidacy shall represent or allow himself to be represented as a candidate of any political party or any other organization; and no political party, political group, political committee, civic, religious, professional, or other organization or organized group of whatever nature shall intervene in his nomination or in the filing of his certificate of candidacy or give aid or support, directly or indirectly, material or otherwise favorable to or against his campaign for election…” the Code further provides. However, the same provision does not apply to the members of the family of a candidate “within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity nor to the personal campaign staff of the candidate which shall not be more than one for every one hundred registered voters in his barangay.” Pimentel said that since no candidate can be jailed for violating the law against “partisanship” in the barangay polls, the Comelec can move to disqualify the candidates. “One of the powers the Comelec has over them [candidates] is disqualification. Violators should be penalized for not following. But who’s going to file a complaint when everybody is doing the same?” he pointed out. On Wednesday, Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. warned that local government officials who would be caught endorsing barangay candidates may be jailed. But he admitted that it is hard to catch officials supporting barangay bets, saying they do not “support in the open.”

Around 54 million voters are expected to vote in the October 28 barangay elections and around 500,000 candidates are seeking election. The Comelec has set aside 170,603 clustered precincts spread throughout the country’s 42,028 barangays in 80 provinces Slightly violent Also on Thursday, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said that the upcoming village elections is turning out to be more violent than the barangay elections last held in 2010. As of Thursday, authorities have already recorded at least 30 election related incidents (ERIs) across the country. The PNP figures indicated that the 30 ERI’s recorded by the police ahead of Monday’s village elections is higher than the 25 ERIs that police have recorded in the 2010 village elections. Most of the 30 ERI’s recorded were 38 shooting incidents and 2 stabbing with 51 casualties recorded, the PNP figures showed. These ERI’s resulted in the killing of 22 individuals, half of whom were elected officials and the other half were civilians. Also, 24 individuals were wounded. Jimenez, who attended the conference in Camp Crame, said that in Metro Manila, 39 villages are on the “watchlist.” “There are 509 arrests related to the election gun ban and it seems the PNP is on top of the situation,” he said. The PNP leadership said the overall peace and order situation in the country as still manageable. “There was a slight increase in ERI’s . . . but so far, the situation still remain manageable,” PNP spokesman, Senior Supt. Wilben Mayor, said in a chance interview. He claimed that they are set to raise one notch higher the alert level status of their forces across the country on the eve of Election Day as police continue to implement stricter security measures. “The PNP will continue to implement the election gun ban and also at the same we will raise the alert level of our forces this weekend . . . and we are also ready to implement a liquor ban,” Mayor said. Of the 509 individuals apprehended for violations of the gun ban, majority are civilians at 475; security guards, 19; 5 policemen; 4 military personnel; 4 government officials and 2 militiamen. Police confiscated a total of 412 assorted types of firearms; 170 bladed weapons; 221 other types of explosives; 65 grenades; 18 gun replicas and 3,153 rounds of ammunitions.‐in‐groups‐not‐allowed‐pimentel/47562/

‘Relief goods need not be surrendered to officials’ October 24, 2013 9:01 pm Relief goods need not be surrendered to the local officials but there should be stronger coordination with concerned local government units, stressed Department Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Dinky Soliman. “In times of crisis, we should help one another and not engage in politics,” she added. As of Thursday, the DSWD reported a total of 198,113 family packs have been distributed to 39 towns including Tagbilaran City by the combined team of DSWD, Provincial Government of Bohol, and non-government organizations. Besides food items, the DSWD also provided 153 rolls of laminated plastic tents to be used as temporary shelter of families from the towns of Loon, Maribojoc, Catigbian, San Isidro, Cortes, Tubigon, San Miguel, Antequerra, Dagohoy, Carmen, Batuan, Sikatuna, Sierra Bullones, Dimiao, Pilar, Bilar, Sagbayan, Corella and Trinidad. From the initial 109 evacuation centers, only 81 are now open. The number of community-based evacuation sites still remains at 22. “We are now on the second cycle of relief distribution. We have also partnered with local and international humanitarian groups to begin planning for the early recovery and rehabilitation efforts,” Secretary Soliman added.‐goods‐need‐not‐be‐surrendered‐to‐officials/47448/          

Taiwan, Philippines make progress on fisheries talks October 24, 2013 8:01 pm TAIWAN and the Philippines wrapped up two days of fisheries talks on Tuesday in Taipei, making progress in law enforcement and protecting the safety of Taiwanese fishermen operating in the two nations’ overlapping exclusive economic zones (EEZs). “Taipei and Manila agreed to establish a technical working group responsible for issues related to fisheries cooperation such as managing and conserving resources, as well as delineating boundaries,” an official from the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said. Raymond L. S. Wang, Taiwan representative to the Philippines, and his Filipino counterpart Amadeo Perez Jr. participated in the talks, which reviewed and reaffirmed conclusions reached during a June 14 preparatory meeting. These conclusions include avoiding the use of force in the implementation of fisheries laws and relevant regulations; establishing a cooperative mechanism for enforcing fishing regulations in overlapping EEZs and advising of enforcement procedures; and setting up a no-delay reporting mechanism for fishery-related incidents and securing the release of detained fishing vessels and crews. “The mechanisms and procedures, including the establishment of an emergency hotline, have now been put in place with immediate effect,” the MOFA official said. “Both countries agreed to fully execute implementation details, signifying concrete results in efforts consolidating bilateral substantial fishery cooperation.” An example of the two sides’ commitment to this successful approach, the MOFA official said, is the fining and release on September 11 of a Taiwanese fisherman who was detained by Philippine authorities for operating in its territorial waters. The MOFA official said the Philippines is working on amending its domestic laws with immediate effect to avoid the use of force or violence during fishery patrols, which is only acceptable if the lives of its maritime law enforcement officers are at risk.‐philippines‐make‐progress‐on‐fisheries‐talks/47392/

BIR Chief: PH too generous on incentives for businesses October 24, 2013 5:49 pm The Philippine government is giving too many incentives to various businesses, Commissioner Kim Henares of the Bureau of Internal Revenue said. Henares made the observation recently when the House Committee on Ways and Means asked her about her stance on the proposed Fiscal Incentives Rationalization bill which seeks to streamline the tax breaks for businesses in order to maximize the use of available funds—a priority legislation of the Aquino administration. Henares cited the case of the oil and mining industries which enjoy huge tax perks despite their high income. “The gas stations have certain tax exemptions because of the Oil Deregulation Law, while the mining industry enjoys tax incentives even if the raw materials they got from mining here are processed abroad. These are big players,” Henares said before the House Ways and Means panel chaired by Rep. Romero Quimbo of Marikina . Under existing laws, Henares lamented that the mining companies get the raw materials in the country such as ore and have it processed in a plant abroad. Thereafter, the Philippines would have buy these semi-processed products back which make it more costly. “If they only engage in mining here for raw materials, they should not be given exemption. At present, they are given the [fiscal] incentive even if they do not out up a plant here to process the raw materials they got. They should put up a plant here to be given the incentive,” Henares, a lawyer, argued. “Having the processing plants here is very important because it means investment. With investments, the job generation will come. That is where the incentive should come in,” Henares added. Under the proposed Fiscal Incentives Rationalization bill authored by Reps. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro and Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. of Abante Mindanao partylist, fiscal and non-fiscal incentives will be granted to: businesses under investments priorities plan, registered export companies, registered enterprises in ecozones and

freeport zones, registered domestic enterprises, domestic strategic enterprises, registered domestic enterprises in Mindanao and in the 30 poorest provinces outside of Mindanao or less developed areas, private ecozone and domestic industrial zone developers and registered enterprises in supply chain cities. In response to Heneres’ concerns involving the mining sector, House Ways and Means panel Chair and Rep. Romero Quimbo of Marikina pressed Henares to ring Malacañang with its version of the Mining bill, a measure which seeks to increase the government’s take on taxes imposed on the mining industry. “The Mining Bill has been pending in the Palace since last Congress. You should follow it up with the Palace because it is material in our debate of rationalizing fiscal incentives,” Quimbo said. LLANESCA T. PANTI‐chief‐ph‐too‐generous‐on‐incentives‐for‐businesses/47367/                              

PCSO denies contributing to PNoy’s social fund October 24, 2013 5:13 pm THE Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office on Thursday categorically denied reports that it is the main contributor to President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s Presidential Social Fund (PSF). PCSO Chairman Margarita Juico said that for the record, the agency, which is a government owned and controlled corporation (GOCC), does not remit to the PSF. She added that President Aquino has never approached PCSO about contributing to the PSF or to any other government fund. “Indeed, the only instructions we have received from him time and again is to ensure that PCSO’s entire Charity Fund be distributed among those who need it most, to the poorest of our kababayan who cannot afford medical coverage and healthcare,” she pointed out. For his part, PCSO General Manager Jose Ferdinand Rojas 2nd said the report was just a misconception by the agency’s critics being circulated to the media. “This is a misconception that has gained ground with the public through erroneous news reports and we would like the public to be aware of this,” he added. Rojas also clarified that under PCSO’s mandate, its revenues are distributed according to a strict allocation scheme—55 percent to the Prize Fund (which returns to the public in the form of prize money for Lotto and PCSO’s other games), 30 percent to the Charity Fund (given as assistance to individuals and institutions for medical and healthcare needs), and only 15 percent for the agency’s operating expenses. Juico also stressed that PCSO does not receive anything from the National Treasury for operations, including salaries and compensations. “Everything that our agency gives away and uses comes from the public’s warm and generous support of Lotto and other games,” she added. During a hearing of the Games and Amusements Committee of the Lower House on Monday, Committee Chairman Rep. Elpidio F. Barzaga Jr. and other congressmen discovered that not a centavo from PCSO has ever gone into the PSF. “PCSO must reiterate to the public that they have never given any funds to the PSF,” said Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo, who is also a member of the committee. RITCHIE A. HORARIO‐denies‐contributing‐to‐pnoys‐social‐fund/47361/

BIR slams P232.7-M tax evasion charges on 4 companies, CEOs October 24, 2013 5:18 pm Four industry companies involved in transportation, engineering, real properties and infants wear faced a total of P232.7-million worth of tax charges from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for evading to pay their respective taxes in one to three years. In a series of statements, the BIR said that they filed criminal complaints to the firms with the Department of Justice because of “willful attempt to evade or defeat income tax and value-added tax” for their respective taxable years. One of the four companies, realty company MGNP Inc., its president and chief executive Neal Jose Gonzales and treasurer Patrick Jean Gonzales were charged because of three counts of tax evasion. BIR found that the real estate firm purchased properties and parcel of land which was not declared in their income tax returns (ITR) in 2009, 2011 and 2012, which is a total of P190.1 million liability: P40.6 million in 2009, P117.9 million in 2011 and P31.7 million in 2012. On the other hand, transport company Kingsam Express Inc. (KEI) and its president Samuel Santos were also charged because of their total liability of P33.6 million because of bus transactions which were not recorded in 2008 and 2009—P9.8 million and P23.8 million, respectively. The BIR also filed P4.1-million tax charges against infant wear retailer Manling Uy Lim because of failure to pass, declare and pay income taxes for year 2007. “Despite such finality and exhaustion of administrative remedies, Lim still failed to pay her deficiency taxes due,” the bureau said. Also, engineering and construction firm LVS Glimpex Philippines Corp. (LGPC) and its president Bonifacio Ladia were charged with P4.8 million tax raps as they did not comply to BIR requirements of income tax statements for 2008. In tracking tax discrepancies, the BIR used Expenditure Method for majority of the cases which compares the amount of money taxpayers spends and their source of money or income against their reported incomes and tax statements. The BIR earlier said that they are intensifying the run after tax evaders (RATE) program that will eventually raise taxes for funding of other government programs in line with the current administration’s agenda of inclusive growth. KRISTYN NIKA M. LAZO‐slams‐p232‐7‐m‐tax‐evasion‐charges‐on‐4‐companies‐ ceos/47362/

NFA ask Customs to sieze 243K tons of smuggled rice in Davao October 24, 2013 1:49 pm The National Food Authority (NFA) on Thursday requested the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to seize some 243, 000 bags of rice were shipped into the country via the Port of Davao without the necessary NFA import permit. NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag said that the illegal shipments were monitored by agency in coordination with the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the BOC in Davao. In a letter to BOC Commissioner Rufino Biazon dated October 22, Calayag named five consignees of the smuggled rice, including Bold Bidder Marketing & General Merchandise, with 25,000 bags that arrived on August 7 and 12, 2013; Jade Bros. Farms & Livestock, Inc., with 77,000 bags that arrived on July 26 and August 11, 2013; Medaglia de Oro Trading, with 45,000 bags that arrived on July 27, August 7, 10 and 19, 2013; Silent Royalty Marketing, with 68,000 bags that arrived on August 10, 18, 28 and September 4, 2013; and Starcraft Trading Corporation, with 28,000 bags that arrived on September 21 and October 1, 2013. Calayag also informed Biazon that BOC personnel assigned at the port allowed the shipments to leave despite the lack of an import permit. The NFA chief also requested Biazon to file the necessary charges against the rice consignees and concerned BOC personnel. Another 69,500 bags of rice imports that arrived at the Port of Davao had already been put on hold upon the NFA’s request. The shipments were consigned to the San Carlos Multipurpose Cooperative, with 34,700 bags that arrived last September 6, 15 and 22, 2013; and Starcraft Trading Corporation, with 34, 800 bags that arrived last October 19, 2013.JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ‐ask‐customs‐to‐sieze‐243k‐tons‐of‐smuggled‐rice‐in‐ davao/47337/       

Typhoon ‘Urduja’ leaves PH October 24, 2013 10:42 am Typhoon Urduja is now outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR), the state weather bureau said on Thursday. PAGASA said as of 4 a.m. today, the eye of Typhoon Urduja was located 855 km northeast of Itbayat, Batanes with maximum sustained winds of 130 kph and gustiness of up to 160 kph. It is forecast to move north at 9 kph. However, PAGASA said sea travel remains risky over the seaboards of Northern Luzon and the eastern seaboards of Central and Southern Luzon. PAGASA said Urduja is expected to be 890 km northeast of Itbayat, Batanes or at 190 km east-southeast of Okinawa Thursday afternoon. Urduja will bring rainfall of 10 to 25 mm per hour (heavy to intense) within its 700-km diameter, it added. Weather forecaster Samuel Duran said the agency continues to monitor a typhoon outside the country but its path shows it is not likely to enter the PAR. He added if it does not change course, it is not likely to enter the PAR. For Thursday forecast, Duran said that parts of Northern Luzon including regions of Ilocos, Cordillera and Cagayan Valley will continue to experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies with passing light rains until Thursday due to the northeast monsoon. The rest of the country including Metro Manila, he noted will have partly cloudy skies to at times cloudy with possible afternoon or evening rains due to localized thunderstorms. Meanwhile, moderate to strong winds from the northeast to northwest will prevail over Luzon and its coastal waters will be moderate to rough. Elsewhere, winds will be light to moderate coming from the northwest to west with slight to moderate seas. PAGASA also said strong to gale-force winds associated with the northeast monsoon enhanced by Typhoon Urduja may affect the seaboards of Northern Luzon and the eastern seaboards of Central and Southern Luzon. “Fishing boats and other small seacrafts are advised not to venture out into the sea while larger sea vessels are alerted against big waves,” it said. PNA‐urduja‐leaves‐ph/47324/   

Blessed are the rich and their millions October 24, 2013 8:30 pm by Emeterio Sd. Perez DUE DILIGENCER

Emeterio Sd. Perez FROM basketball to business. Remember Richard Palou? He was a basketball player many years ago at the height of the popularity of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). If his fans are wondering where he is now, they may want to know that he is still around. He is not a basketball player anymore because he has long moved to business. A filing posted by Asiabest Group International Inc. on the website of the Philippine Stock Exchange listed the age of Richard William Palou—that’s his full name—at 65. “He is an MBA candidate and a graduate of Business Management at the Ateneo de Manila University,” the company said. He is also the director of Ateneo’s university athletics. He has been a member of the board of Asiabest since August 2008; director of Denaga Pawnshop Inc. since 2007; and of First Philippine Wind Corp. since 1997. Palou was PBA finance director from 1999 to 2004. When Asiabest holds its annual stockholders’ meeting on December 4 at the Makati Sports Club, Palou will be one of the members of the board up for reelection. Additional listing. Philippine Bank of Communications (PBC) boosted the wealth of 12 corporate stockholders by more than a billion pesos when it sold to them 26.40 million new shares at P28.35 each. While the bank grossed P749 million from what it called a private placement, it, more importantly, made them gain P44.65 per share at the stock’s 30-day high of P73, and P31.65 per share at a low of P60. Computed at P73, the 12 buyers of 26.40 million PBC shares grossed P749 million at issue price of P28.35. With the stock’s climb at a high of P73, they made P1.93 billion, putting them ahead by P1.18 billion.

The 12 stockholders also made good in their investments even at PBC’s low of P60 for paper gross of P1.46 billion. By deducting their acquisition cost of P749 million from said paper gross would still make them richer by P715.35 million. The newly-issued PBC shares were listed on Wednesday at the Philippine Stock Exchange. Zobels’ foreign partners. The Capital Group of Companies Inc., which is based in Los Angeles, California, sold on October 18 1.05 million new shares in Manila Water Co. (MWC) at P26.47 each for gross proceeds of P27.861 million. The sale reduced Capital Group’s MWC ownership to 4.97 percent, which it said is “below the 5-percent threshold.” Stockholders of listed companies who own at least 5 percent are covered by the market’s full disclosure rule. Capital Group is only one of the foreign stockholders of the Zobel-controlled water distributor. As of September 30, 2013, First State Investment Management (UK) Ltd. holds 201.77 million shares, or 10.03 percent. Aberdeen International Fund Managers Ltd. owned 101.236 million shares or 5.028 percent as of August 9, 2013. Mitsubishi Corp. of Japan, the long-time partner of Ayala Corp., owns 169 million MWC shares, or 8.28 percent. The Zobels, through Ayala Corp., control 651.91 million shares, or 31.93 percent. Insiders’ worth. Enrique Razon Jr., chairman of the board of International Container Terminal Services Inc., owns 957.14 million ICTSI shares. Computed at P106 per share, his holdings have a market value of P101.457 billion. In a footnote to an ownership filing, ICTSI said that it excluded from Razon’s ownership the shareholdings of Bravo Int’l Holdings Inc. and Razon Group, which it placed under “principal stockholders to avoid double counting.” Bravo and Razon Group own 503.30 million shares or 18.41 percent, and 217.634 million shares or 7.96 percent, respectively. Emilio Tumbocon, senior vice president of Ayala Land Inc., sold three blocks of 20,000 shares each: at P30.50 per share on October 17; at P30.75 and P31 on October 18; and 14,900 shares at P30.65 on October 21. After selling, he still holds 8.89 million shares, or 0.6 percent, with paper value of P277.621 million at P31.20 per share. Walter Brown, chairman of the board and his wife Annabelle Brown, a director of A. Brown Co. Inc., own 484.57 million shares or 27.96 percent, and 325.578 million shares or 18.805 percent, respectively. Together, their conjugal holdings total 810.44 million shares, with paper value of P988.743 million computed at P1.22 per share.‐are‐the‐rich‐and‐their‐millions/47516/ 

BSP maintains key policy rates October 24, 2013 9:08 pm by Mayvelin U. Caraballo Reporter The Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) decided to maintain its key policy rates on the back of benign inflation environment. In a press briefing on Thursday, BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said that interest rates for the overnight borrowing or reverse repurchase (RRP) facility was kept at 3.5 percent, while overnight lending or repurchase remained unchanged at 5.5 percent. The reserve requirement ratios were kept steady as well. The interest rates on the special deposit account (SDA) facility were left unchanged at 2 percent. Since January, BSP slashed the interest rates for SDAs by a total of 150 basis points. Meanwhile, Tetangco reported that latest baseline forecasts indicate that the future inflation remains in line with the target range of 4 percent plus or minus 1 percent in 2013 to 2014, and 3 percent plus or minus 1 percent for 2015, while inflation expectations remain firmly anchored. Tetangco added that the assessment of risks to the inflation remains unchanged, noting the bulk of lending going to the productive sectors of the economy. He also said that the “improvement in the economy’s absorptive capacity is expected to be sustained, helping to moderate price pressures.” “Going forward, the BSP will continue to monitor emerging price and output conditioned to ensure that monetary policy remain consistent with price stability while being supportive of economic growth,” he added.‐maintains‐key‐policy‐rates/47505/             

Posted on October 24, 2013 11:31:30 PM

Malaria still a problem in the Philippines: WHO HUNDREDS of millions of dollars are needed to stop a deadly form of drugresistant malaria jumping from Southeast Asia to the rest of the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday. Resistance to the anti-malaria drug artemisinin has now been detected in Myanmar and Vietnam, the WHO said, five years after it warned that the drug was no longer effective in treating the disease on the CambodiaThailand border. “The emergence of artemisinin resistance could undo the enormous progress made towards malaria control and elimination -- and potentially pose a serious global health threat,” Regional Director Shin Young-Soo said in a statement. “Key development partners strongly support our efforts. However, we still face a funding gap of at least $450 million over the next three years.” Malaria, which is caused by a parasite infecting mosquitoes that feed on humans, kills 660,000 people each year, according to WHO figures. Artemisinin-based therapies are the first-line treatment for cases of malaria caused byplasmodium falciparum, the deadliest strain of the disease. The drug is credited for the remarkable success in reducing the number of malaria deaths globally in recent years. “If resistance to artemisinin emerges elsewhere, the consequences for global health could be grave,” Mr. Shin said. He said the drug-resistant strain was now found in four of the six states that make up Asia’s Greater Mekong region, which also includes Laos and China’s Yunnan province. Resistance to the drug may have been caused by the parasite’s long exposure to artemisinin therapies, as well as “substandard or counterfeit”

drugs in circulation, the WHO said. Resistance to other formerly effective malaria drugs had also originated along the Cambodia-Thailand border, before spreading west to South Asia, then Africa where most malaria deaths occur, it added. Malaria also remains a problem in Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, South Korea and Vanuatu. The warning came as senior health officials from East Asia and the Western Pacific met in Manila this week to coordinate support for international efforts to contain malaria and other diseases. Mr. Shin said the Swiss-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria had pledged $100 million to the campaign to prevent the spread of drug-resistant malaria, which was also backed by Australia and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 12 MILLION CASES The WHO said over 12 million people in the Philippines (almost 13% of the population) are at high risk of malaria causing death. Most malaria cases in the Philippines occur in swampy, hilly, mountainous regions and forested area that is infested with the deadly plasmodium species of the malaria virus. The WHO said plasmodium species can transfer virus by puncturing the human skin where the virus will then flow on the human’s bloodstream,spreading in the whole body. The health organization said Malaria can kill an individual in just an hour. In order to stop the increasing cases of malaria, the WHO together with the Department of Health, created various programs that tackled about treatments and awareness about the disease. Currently, the WHO said it keeps on eliminating the virus thru various initiatives being implemented around the Philippines. -- AFP‐still‐a‐problem‐ in‐the‐Philippines:‐WHO&id=78458

Posted on October 24, 2013 11:32:00 PM

Philippines attempts to break mass breast-feeding record THOUSANDS OF LACTATING mothers across the Philippines simultaneously breast-fed their babies yesterday in an attempt to break a world record and break down social taboos. Organized by the advocacy group Breast-feeding Philippines, the event was held in 1,000 cities across the conservative, largely Catholic country, where advocates say there remained a stigma against women who breast-feed in public. “When women bare their chests for sex in movies or wear skimpy clothes the public thinks its okay, but when a mother bares her breast to feed a child, people generally think its gross,” group director Nona Andaya-Castillo told AFP. “One of our members was once told to breast-feed her child in the toilet. This thinking and attitude has got to stop.” Yesterday’s event is meant to break the group’s own Guinness World Record of the most number of women simultaneously breast-feeding in multiple sites -- 15,218 mothers in 2007. An estimated 21,000 joined yesterday, but it would take Guinness representatives up to three weeks to verify the final tally, she said. At one of the main venues of the event, about 500 lactating mothers were bussed to a convention center in suburban Marikina city east of Manila. They sat in plastic chairs and were given tips on proper ways to breast-feed their babies, including techniques in calming an infant and cleaning of nipples. Twenty-one-year-old mother Jinky Valencia cradled her one-month-old baby,

Chrysler, as she tried to coax him to feed, but only a few drops came. “Maybe I’m just shy. I am not used to doing this around in public, with so many people around,” she said. “Maybe I will get used to it eventually, but I don’t know if my husband will approve of it,” she added. Organizers said the event also aimed to remind legislators to resist lobbying by infant formula companies seeking to reverse a law promoting breastfeeding. Passed in 1986, the law, called the Milk Code, prohibits advertising of infant formula to infants under two years of age. Another law passed in 2009 requires private and public companies to allot time for employees who breast-feed, while requiring lactation stations in all public institutions. “This activity is meant to send a strong message to legislators not to be swayed by these multinational milk companies to weaken our law,” Ms. Castillo said. The spokesman for the Infant and Pediatric Nutrition Association of the Philippines, a lobby group supporting the infant formula companies, was not immediately available to comment. -- AFP‐attempts‐to‐ break‐mass‐breast‐feeding‐record&id=78459          

Posted on October 24, 2013 11:30:39 PM

P16.3M worth of smuggled goods seized THE BUREAU of Customs (BoC) has seized P16.3 million worth of allegedly smuggled goods in Manila. Meanwhile, 1,330 cartons of assorted beer and liquor from the US worth P4.346 million and consigned to Algebra Trading were also confiscated. These alcohol products were misdeclared as ordinary beverages to avoid the payment of excise taxes, said Mr. Biazon. Also seized were two completely built used trucks, a farm tractor, generator and used appliances from Japan worth P3.1 million. The shipment, consigned to Seamrise Enterprises, was declared as used truck parts and machinery. Lastly, a P300,000 motorcycle from London, England, misdeclared as to be personal items by consignee Masterlink Cargo System, was likewise among the confiscated items. Mr. Biazon said the discovery of the goods highlights the importance and the need to fast-track the reforms in the Customs bureau. “The BoC’s reform program is anchored on three major components, the policy reforms, organizational reforms and equipment modernization. And the equipment modernization aspect involves the upgrading of the BoC’s computer system and X-ray capabilities,” Mr. Biazon said. -- Bettina Faye V. Roc‐worth‐of‐ smuggled‐goods‐seized&id=78456             

Posted on October 24, 2013 11:37:00 PM

Philippine sales at int’l food fair more than double LOCAL exhibitors who participated in a recently held annual food and beverage fair in Germany booked $58.2 million in sales, 66% more than last year, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) yesterday said in a statement. Philippine exhibitors await potential buyers in this photo taken during the recently concluded Anuga fair in Germany. “We have surpassed our target sales of $35 million for this year. Also, this year’s total sales is 66% higher compared to our sales during the previous edition of the Anuga,” Trade Undersecretary Ponciano C. Manalo, Jr. was quoted in the statement as saying. Anuga, according to the DTI, is considered the world’s largest and most important food and beverage fair. Held annually in Cologne, Germany, the fair ran from Oct. 5 to 9 this year. In 2011, total sales from the country’s participation in the fair amounted to $35.1 million, the statement said. The country’s participation, tagged “Food Philippines Goes to Anuga -2013”, was organized by the DTI’s Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions in partnership with the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Berlin, the Department of Agriculture and the private sector. Mr. Manalo said the bulk of this year’s sales were generated by exhibitors under the recently launched Design for Exports Program for the Food Sector (DEFood), which featured seven of the country’s top products: coconut, pineapple, mango, banana, coffee, cacao, and tuna. The exhibitors under this program contributed 35% or $20.5 million to total sales, the DTI said. The DEFood program entails product development and branding, food packaging development and enhancement, alignment to market requirements, and promotion in local and international markets.

The Philippine business delegation was composed of 18 regular exhibitors and 26 institutional exhibitors under the DEFood. Among the regular exhibitors, the best-selling products were seafood and marine products such as tuna, sardines and mackerel. Sales for this product category amounted to $13.4 million. The other popular products were consolidated and assorted Philippine ethnic food such as rice sticks and noodles, vinegar, sauces, mixes and sautéed shrimp paste. Sales for these products reached $10.7 million. Mr. Manalo said that the DTI is concentrating on bulk orders from manufacturers by supplying semi-processed materials for their finished products to successfully penetrate the European market. “This way, we develop a niche in this market by promoting our premium products like bananas and mangoes, which are known for certain qualities influenced by the Philippines’ geographical location,” he said. -- Daryll Edisonn D. Saclag‐sales‐at‐ int%E2%80%99l‐food‐fair‐more‐than‐double&id=78468                  

Posted on October 24, 2013 11:35:49 PM

DBP gives poultry farm P100-M loan STATE-RUN Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) has extended a P100-million term loan to a modern poultry farm project in Cebu. In a statement yesterday, DBP said it granted Birdsteel Farm in Balamban, Cebu, a P100-million term loan to finance the construction of its fourth poultry building with a capacity of 200,000 broilers per grow. The project will make Birdsteel Farm, owned and operated by spouses Neil and Ma. Theresa Sajula, the second largest contract grower in Cebu since it will increase the farm’s total capacity to 550,000 birds per grow. DBP said the loan assistance is part of its efforts to support the agriculture sector. This month, DBP also granted a P130-million term loan to shipping firm Oceanic Container Lines, Inc. to partially finance its acquisition of one container cargo vessel. The loan grant is part of the bank’s efforts to improve the country’s transport infrastructure and logistics facilities, DBP said. -- D.J.B. Evite‐gives‐poultry‐ farm‐P100‐M‐loan&id=78466               

Posted on October 24, 2013 10:12:11 PM

Fuel retailer improving products SEAOIL Philippines, Inc. has partnered with US-based Armored AutoGroup, Inc. in a bid to enhance the performance of its products, the local company’s top official announced in a launch at Marriott Hotel in Pasay City. SEAOIL President and Chief Executive Officer Francis Glenn L. Yu said his company’s partnership with Armored AutoGroup will enable SEAOIL to “market fuels enhanced with renowned fuel and additives brand called STP,” which is owned and produced by the foreign firm. Mr. Yu said that since the beginning of this month, SEAOIL’s gasoline products (Extreme 97, Extreme 95, Extreme U); and its Exceed Diesel product already contain STP additives. “We started delivery of STP-powered fuels several weeks ago in all our stations across the country,” he said. Mr. Yu also noted that the partnership made SEAOIL “the first gasoline company in Asia to introduce fuels enhanced with these kind of performance additives.” Jonathan Paluga, Armored AutoGroup vice-president of strategic marketing and business development, said in the same event that “SEAOIL is the company’s exclusive partner in the Philippines.”Mr. Yu said STP additives “improve performance and quality of fuel.” “Fuel additives are a mixture of chemical compounds formulated to maintain and enhance engine performance and to help protect the engine. The STP additives improve SEAOIL fuels with friction-busting formula by effectively removing and controlling engine carbon deposits,” Mr. Yu explained. “The cost of having these premium additives in our fuels has been absorbed by SEAOIL. Our customers can enjoy the improved performance of our fuels at no extra cost.” SEAOIL has 340 gasoline stations nationwide. -- Claire-Ann Marie C. Feliciano‐retailer‐ improving‐products&id=78448 

Noy’s LP cronies go scot-free in pork scam Written by Benjamin B. Pulta

Friday, 25 October 2013 00:00 Only non-allies will be charged with plunder, says De Lima Not one Liberal Party senator or congressman, as well as Noy’s allies in both houses of Congress, nor even a Cabinet official will be charged for plunder on the pork barrel scam. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima admitted as much to reporters yesterday. Despite glaring proof to the contrary, De Lima claimed that partisan politics played no part in indicting opposition lawmakers and virtually clearing Palace allies for their alleged part in the scandal over the diversion of lawmakers’ discretionary funds. De Lima confirmed that no member of the ruling Liberal Party nor allies of President Aquino would be included in the second batch of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) charges being prepared by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and expected to be filed before the Ombudsman next week. De Lima has also asked the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to cancel the passports of the non-allies of Aquino, namely Senators Juan Ponce-Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr., along with the others named in the DoJ-NBI complaint of plunder lodged before the Ombudsman on grounds of “national security (see related story, page 1). De Lima admitted that the NBI probe on the pork controversy is limited to the testimonies of whistleblowers against alleged brains of the scam, Janet Lim Napoles and supporting evidence gathered by the team. She justified the exclusion of the allies of Aquino who were also named in the Commission on Audit (CoA) special report and the non-investigation by the NBI on the Aquino allies and partymates, claiming that the NBI cannot investigate everything in the

CoA. “The NBI cannot investigate everything in the CoA report due to limited resources,” she said. She failed to explain why the investigation was focused solely on the non-allies of Aquino who are key opposition figures at the same time, using the same resources. The cancellation request of the Justice chief of the passports of the three senators came a day after Aquino, in his talk in the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (Focap) forum claimed that the attacks against his Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) was a conspiracy he blamed on “well known political persons” who had conspired to attack his DAP funds. “All of these attacks came after plunder cases, among others, that were filed in the Office of the Ombudsman against a few well-known politicians.” He did not name names, but was obviously referring to the three non-allied senators for the alleged attacks on his DAP funds. “Since I am in a room full of journalists, perhaps I can leave it to you to connect the dots,” he said during the Focap forum,” he was quoted as saying. Aquino is known for his vindictiveness. The DAP issue came to fore after Senator Estrada, in a privilege speech, mentioned that senators were given P50 million each as “incentive.” As the P50 million “incentive” was bared which implicated LP stalwart Sen. Franklin Drilon, then the finance chairman, and said to have been a bribe to get the senators to convict then impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona, the Palace quickly came up with its damage control, with Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad saying that the millions given to senators were from the unknown DAP funds, to “stimulate” the economy. However, virtually the majority of senators said they were unaware of such a program, which was moreover not included in the 2012 budget. The Palace damage control went awry as it was later found that several senator allies got 100 million and not just P50 million. Also Abad was hard put to justify the PDAF as stimulus to the senators. Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago wants the allies of Aquino to also be charged with plunder, naming at least two of them, Senate President Drilon and Sen. Francis Escudero along with the three non-allies of Aquino, saying that they were given P100 million each while the rest of the senators were given only P50 million. Santiago said that the three senators already charged with plunder – Enrile, Estrada, and Bong Revilla – are expected to be joined shortly by other senators, as soon as the Justice secretary finds the NBI reports to be sufficient in substance.

But this won’t happen, because the Justice Secretary herself has already stated that the second tranche of plunder cases which is probably the last of the plunder complaints, will not include the allies of Aquino. The DoJ chief revealed that the lawmakers and non-government organizations included in the CoA report apart from those linked to Napoles would be subject of the investigation of the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft and Corruption Council (IAAGCC). “It is not our fault, it was not deliberate on our part that only opposition lawmakers were included in the first batch of charges. We don’t look at political affiliations of respondents. We only based our findings on evidence gathered,” the DoJ chief stressed. During the impeachment proper, House prosecutors confirmed that they had signed the impeachment complaint against Corona without reading the same and that they felt it was poorly prepared. Subsequent investigation showed Malacañang also tapped funds in the form of discretionary funds contrary to the constitutional requirements on the disbursement of public funds. “The senators suspected of plunder have lost their moral right to steer the debate from the PDAF to the DAP. I myself believe that the DAP should be abolished for being unconstitutional. But I will not allow my colleagues to deflect their criminal liabilities concerning PDAF by harping on the DAP system from which they themselves profited,” she said. According to the Budget secretary, the biggest recipients of the controversial DAP, receiving P100 million each, are the following senators: Enrile, Drilon, and Escudero. Other allies were said to have gotten more than P50 million but were not listed by the Budget chief. “They can shout to high heavens about how useful their projects were, but that is begging the issue. The issue is whether the DAP is constitutional, whether those senators received kickbacks from their bonanzas, and why those three were favoured over the rest by receiving double the amount,” she said. “President Aquino’s priorities are correct. For purposes of deterrence, it is more efficient and bloodcurdling to send senators to jail, if they are guilty of plunder. Analyzing and retrofitting the pork barrel system should come later, because it will take more time and requires highly technical skill,” said Santiago. Santiago repeated her advocacy that “justice delayed is justice denied,” and urged public support for the Ombudsman in resolving the preliminary investigation so that if merited, criminal cases can be filed in court this year. “Clearly, the persons in interest are availing of the hoary courtroom tactic by the

defense to delay the case, so that the endgame will never be reached. Trial courts all over the country are too familiar with this tactic to lend credence to the various efforts of persons in interest to distract public attention and resort to technicalities,” the senator said. Santiago said that, having been an RTC judge herself, just like the Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, she knows that preliminary investigation should not be treated as a full-scale trial, but basically as an examination of the affidavits of the complainant and the counteraffidavits of the respondents. “If the public supports her, the Ombudsman can actually finish the preliminary investigation in only two or three months. The justice secretary should no longer entertain any motion for reconsideration, because the justice department already reviewed at length the NBI evidence. When media asked whether preventive suspension might disable the Senate from constituting a quorum, Santiago said: “Dura lex sed lex. If that is what the law provides, the lack of a quorum is not a reason for disobeying the law. The Senate itself can change the rule on quorums to enable the Senate to function.” However, contrary to Aquino’s stand, Santiago said that it is not an excuse for pork barrel to be retained, just because it will help to ensure the reelection of incumbent representatives. “To help the best and brightest to get elected to public office, it is not necessary to convert the office of the congressman into a local DSWD with freebies for all constituents. That is a matter for campaign finance reform. Ideally, government should finance and strictly regulate campaign advertising. In other words, government should subsidize campaigns, to make sure that candidates do not resort to vote-buying using pork barrel which are public funds,” she said. Santiago said there is no provision in the Constitution stating that distribution of freebies in the community is part of the function of a lawmaker. “Candidates should win on the basis of academic excellence and professional excellence. They should not win reelection by using pork barrel to bribe voters. That system is corrupt and breeds a culture of dependency on the person rather than on the institution of government,” she said. Santiago, reacting to a recent speech by Aquino, said that he is “mostly correct” in insisting that the first item of business concerning the pork barrel scam should be to jail, if warranted, the senators and representatives charged by the NBI with plunder before the Ombudsman.‐s‐lp‐cronies‐go‐scot‐free‐in‐pork‐scam

SC takes up DAP TRO plea Written by Tribune

Friday, 25 October 2013 00:00 Malacañang’s conti-nued access to its widely criticized pork barrel will hang in the balance today as the Supreme Court (SC) takes up a suit asking the high tribunal to hand down a restraining order and eventually outlaw the controversial Disburse-ment Acceleration Pro-gram (DAP). A special en banc session has been sche-duled by the 15-man high tribunal on the petition filed by former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco Jr. for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the Executive branch. United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) secretary general Toby Tiangco, for his part, yesterday stressed it is to the people’s interest to, once and for all, determine whether the mechanism adopted by the Malacañang to realign savings to accelerate the implementation of government programs and projects is legal. “I would like to make a personal appeal to the honorable justices of the Supreme Court to listen and weigh in the arguments presented by the Palace and those who question the constitutionality of the DAP,” he pleaded. Six petitions have been filed before the SC calling for the scrapping of the program for being unconstitutional. Tiangco voiced concern about possible unintended consequences of a protracted legal battle if the petition would be left untackled by the SC. The legality of DAP remains a divisive issue and its legal characteristic is likely to affect current and future realignments and disbursements made by the Executive branch. “It is clear that with DAP, there is no transparent mechanism in disbursing state funds, and without any accountability for how the funds are to be used,” Tiangco stressed. “Something’s just got to give. I hope that the President will not make an excuse in providing help to quake victims or in delivering basic services to the people because of the abolition of the DAP,” he said. Malacañang has earlier said it needs the money for, among others, government relief operations for the benefit of the victims of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Bohol and Cebu provinces.

But in Syjuico’s urgent motion for the issuance of a TRO, he said “succeeding occurrences and circumstances posit imminent and irreparable injury to the government.” The former lawmaker insisted that the disbursement of funds under DAP should be declared unconstitutional since no law was passed for its creation; the funds allocated for the DAP were illegally taken from budgets of slow moving projects which were not yet completed nor performed; and the DAP was and is being used to augment new budget allocations not approved by the legislature. “Constitutional doctrines must remain steadfast no matter what may be the tides of time. It cannot be simply made to sway and accommodate the call of situations and much more tailor itself to the whims and caprices of government and the people who run it,” Syjuco said in his motion. The high court earlier moved from Oct. 22 to Nov. 19 the oral argument on the petitions. Relatedly, the 32-member Visayan bloc in the House of Representatives has expressed confidence on the Solicitor General’s capability to convince the SC to lift the TRO issued on the 2013 priority development assistance fund (PDAF) that will be used for relief and rehabilitation efforts for earthquake-stricken provinces in Central Visayas. Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez said congressmen representing Visayas are leaving to the “capable hands” of Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza the pending case questioning the constitutionality of the PDAF although most of the lawmakers believe that the earthquake devastation in Bohol and Cebu requires immediate funding. In an urgent meeting called by Iloilo City Rep. Jerry Treñas, the Visayan congressmen agreed to pledge P10,000 to P20,000 each of their personal money to be contributed to the earthquake fund. Treñas, president of the VB, said Jardeleza should be given the free hand to argue before the high court the immediate lifting of the TRO on the PDAF in order to allow congressmen to help finance the relief and rehabilitation efforts in the two provinces. By Benjamin B. Pulta and Charlie V. Manalo‐takes‐up‐dap‐tro‐plea      

Comelec reminds all village chiefs to contribute to barangay poll funds Written by Tribune

Friday, 25 October 2013 00:00 The Commission on Elections (Comelec) reminded all barangay chairmen nationwide that they have to contribute P10,000 for the conduct of the elections this coming Monday. The reminder was issued by the poll body as it conducted a joint press briefing yesterday with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Comelec spokesman James Jimenez stated that it is the obligation of every barangay chairmen nationwide to shell out the said fund for the election. If ever a barangay chairman does not abide by the contribution they would be forced to file an election offense. The poll body is targeting to come up with P400-million election fund On the other hand, Jimenez also issued a warning for the conduct of the manual elections on Monday. He said voters should make sure they write legibly to the ballots most especially if their chosen candidate has a namesake. Under the equity of the incumbent in the event the election officers had a hard time reading the first name written in the ballot the vote will go instead to the incumbent who has the same surname. Likewise, Jimenez said the poll body would definitely authorize the police as BET member in the absence of teachers in some areas. He said that it is definite if the area has no teachers to serve as BET because of security concerns. The poll official said the hands of the commission will not be tied in cases like this because they can always tap the services of the police and Philippine National Police cadets.

He added that the Comelec would “issue the appropriate order if the necessity arises.” Jimenez added that the Comelec appreciates the PNP’s initiative to train its personnel for BET duties, which include monitoring and supervising polling places during the elections. The Comelec has deputized the police and military in ensuring peaceful, safe and orderly barangay elections. Around 54 million voters are expected to vote in the Oct. 28 barangay polls. With 42,028 barangays in 80 provinces across the country, the Comelec has set aside 170,603 clustered precincts for the elections. The police said they will move out of their camp some 50 percent of duty bound police officers most of which are doing administrative duties as part of the reactionary force to take care of the security during the elections. Under Comelec resolution, the police and the military will secure the polling areas but they will stay within 50 meters to ensure a speedy response in case there is a problem. Meanwhile, the Comelec said they will reimburse the expenses incurred by the PNP and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the conduct of the barangay polls. Jimenez said the poll body has already collected around P102 million from the contributions of the barangays. He said the funds, though still short, is already available but some paperworks have to be completed but they will release it by the end of the week. The release of the allocated budget for the PNP and the AFP is to be used to fund the election-related security preparation for the barangay elections. By Alvin Murcia‐reminds‐all‐village‐chiefs‐to‐contribute‐to‐ barangay‐poll‐funds             

Palace denies Noy ‘dissatisfied’ with communications group Written by Paul Atienza

Friday, 25 October 2013 00:00 Presidential Communication Operation Office Secretary Herminio Coloma denied that President Aquino is “dissatisfied” with the performance of presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda and Undersecretary Abigail Valte and Secretary Ramon Carandang to convey vital information that the people must know and understand in going-on of the administration. Lacierda, Valte and Carandang were tagged by some reporters as the “three-headed” and “elitist” spokesmen of Aquino. Coloma said his conducting of the press briefing to the members of the Malacañang Press Corps in Malacañang Press Center is nothing unusual but part of the Presidential Communications Group of Aquino. Coloma denied that there is a need to be “rescued” in the communications office. “No one needs for a rescue because there is no calamity that happened,” Coloma said. The Aquino administration has Presidential Communication Operation Office that is under Coloma, the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) under Carandang where Lacierda and Valte belong. “The President has only one communications team, and my group is part of the team,” Coloma said. Coloma explained that at present they are in “unity” that he would be joining in the regular press briefing to have a better understanding with the pressing national issues. “With your indulgence, I also want to have discussions with you (reporters), so that is the present set up,” Coloma said. Coloma appeared at the briefing as prepared with his visual material to make his presentation clear. “I think we have a united desire that the Presidential Communications Group would present communication in a way that is clear, realistic and timely information. If this could help to what we are doing and you have no violent objection, then we would continue doing this just to improve our communication,” Coloma said.

Coloma denied he is taking over the position of Edwin Lacierda. “I will repeat: This is one communications group, and I am part of it,” Coloma said. Coloma said that from the day he was appointed, at the night of the Rizal Park hostage taking on Aug. 23, 2010, he already conducted a press briefing. “From the start, when the hostage taking had took place, Aug. 23, 2010, I cannot forget that because I had my oath-taking on that afternoon. I was the one who gave the briefing,” Coloma said. Coloma said he continues to answer inquiries from reporters, even if he is not conducting press briefings. “If you have questions, as long as I can do to answer, I will answer. That’s why nothing has changed. Until now, I do my duties,” Coloma said. He said everyone in the communications group is exerting efforts to improve the information drive of the President as well with the mediamen. Coloma said that what prompted the changes in the set up of Malacañang media was that because “continuous improvement is part of the work ethic of this administration.” “All aspects in governance have been improving, and the area of Communications is not exempted,” Coloma said.‐denies‐noy‐dissatisfied‐with‐communications‐ group                      

Solon: Increase production, lower rice prices thru higher investment in agri Written by Charlie V. Manalo

Friday, 25 October 2013 00:00 Amid persistent high rice prices, hitting all-time highs in September despite the harvest season, Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones has sought greater subsidy to agriculture through a bill filed in the House of Representatives. Citing the country’s low productivity compared to other rice producers in Asia as well as the often-prohibitive cost of fertilizer as bases, Aragones last Wednesday filed House Bill (HB) 3252, also known as the “Rice Fertilizer Subsidy Act of 2013,” which seeks to provide qualified farmer-beneficiaries with 50 percent government subsidy for the procurement of fertilizer. “One big threat cited by the Department of Agriculture (DA) when it comes to rice production is the price of fertilizers. It is thus necessary to restore the subsidy provided by the state to rice farmers in the purchase of their fertilizers,” the media personalityturned-lawmaker said. The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) estimates that fertilizers account for 20 percent of total rice production cost, requiring at least eight bags per hectare of plantation. Each bag of fertilizer costs upwards of P1,000, according to September 2013 data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS). Lack of government subsidy in agriculture has been regarded by experts as a major contributor to poor production and high retail prices, “effectively inhibiting growth of farm productivity and employment, reducing the earnings of poor farmers and landless workers, and making food more expensive and less accessible to poor urban consumers and even small farmers who are net buyers of food,” according to National Economic Development Authority (Neda) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan. But while the government has yet to substantially increase its subsidy to agricultural inputs, the NFA, in 2013 paid some P1.7 billion in duties and taxes for the importation of rice under a government-to-government arrangement. This is on top of the $94.5 million

or more than P4 billion spent by the agency to import 205,700 MT of rice from Vietnam in April of 2013. The transaction is currently under investigation by both the Senate and the House for allegations of half-a-billion pesos overpricing. Despite having invested heavily in government importation this year, rice prices in September soared to an all-time high, according to the BAS, to P36.04 per kilogram, increasing 23 percent from P29.38 at the height of the rice crisis in 2008. Balisacan, himself a former agriculture undersecretary, had previously pushed higher subsidies in production and the “dismantling of the National Food Authority’s extensive interventions in rice trade, including its virtual monopoly in rice importation.” Aragones’ bill, consistent with Neda’s recommendations, advocates higher government investments in fertilizer farm inputs to “support the livelihood of rice farmers; achieve national self-sufficiency in rice; ensure that it is financially sustainable for the government, and curtail transaction costs and inefficiencies associated with distribution.” Earlier, Agri-Agra Reporma Para sa Magsasakang Pilipinas partylist Rep. Delph Gan Lee also advocated wiser government spending in agriculture through HB 2936 or the “National Food Authority Rationalization Act of 2013” seeking to end the NFA’s supposed import monopoly and “to allow for scarce government resources to be reallocated away from costly price stabilization functions to more productive investment in rice research and development, extension services and irrigation.”‐section/solon‐increase‐production‐lower‐rice‐prices‐thru‐ higher‐investment‐in‐agri                  

Revenue regulations on raw sugar bucked Written by Tribune

Friday, 25 October 2013 00:00 Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez yesterday urged the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to put on hold its implementation of the questionable revenue regulations on raw sugar until Congress is able to clarify the original intent of the definition under Republic Act 8424 or the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997. Benitez said sugar producing regions in the country are fuming mad against BIR for changing the definition of raw sugar that would put additional tax burden on the industry which is faced with a bleak scenario in 2015. Taking the cudgels for the embattled sugar industry, Benitez called for a congressional inquiry into the issuance of BIR Revenue Regulations 13-2013 released recently by Commissioner Kim Henares. He asked the House committee on ways and means to immediately schedule a hearing that will look into the revenue agency’s bid to impose additional taxes to the local sugar industry, saying that the move is also a “direct hit to the Filipino consumers.” “Amid new revenue regulations being issued by the BIR, Congress should review the powers of the BIR Commissioner to effectively legislate new laws in the guise of revenue issuances,” said Benitez, chairman of the House committee on housing and urban development. In filing House Resolution 394, the administration solon said the BIR’s recent directive amended the Philippine and internationally accepted definition of raw sugar, thus, imposing value added tax (VAT) to the product. RR 13-2013, in effect, amended the NIRC that considers raw cane sugar and molasses in their original state and VAT exempt. In 2008, the BIR defined raw sugar as “sugar whose content of sucrose by weight in dry state corresponds to a polar meter reading of less than 99.6 degrees.” On the other hand, the internationally-accepted definition of raw sugar based on Codex Alimetarius — Standards for Sugars is that “raw sugar is partially purified sucrose, which is crystallized form partially purified cane juice, without further purification, but

which does not preclude centribugation or drying, and which is characterized by sucrose crystals covered with a film of cane molasses.” Benitez noted that in the new BIR regulation, raw sugar was redefined as “sugar produced by simple process of conversion of sugar cane without a need of any mechanical or similar devices such as muscuvado.” Henares, thus, referred only to muscuvado sugar as “raw sugar” and the only sugar product exempted from VAT payment. “RR 13-2013’s redefinition and reinterpretation of raw sugar from that prescribed by BIR RR 13-2008 only confirms the propensity to introduce new interpretation of existing laws and regulations whenever there is a change in bureau leadership,” lamented Benitez. “It is the duty of government to protect its local sugar industry and should be ensuring safeguards to the vulnerable sugar sector in the midst of the 2015 scenario instead of adding tax burden to it,” Benitez stressed.‐regulations‐on‐raw‐sugar‐bucked                              

LandBank among PhilPost’s top customers in 2013 Written by Admin

Friday, 25 October 2013 00:00 LandBank was recently cited as one of the Philippine Postal Corp.’s (PhilPost) top customers in 2013 in an event celebrating PhilPost’s 115th anniversary held at the Manila Polo Club. PhilPost is one of LandBank’s partners in the disbursement of cash grants to beneficiaries of the national government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program. “We, at LandBank, are honored by this recognition and are all the more inspired to further strengthen our partnership with PhilPost in mutual pursuit of the government’s goal to help uplift the lives of Filipinos in great need through the CCT program,” said LandBank president and CEO Gilda Pico. As the official disbursing bank under the program, LandBank accredited rural banks and cooperatives as conduits of the CCT program. The bank likewise tapped Globe Exchange Inc. and MLhuillier Financial Services, Inc. as conduits in efforts to further facilitate timely and extensive disbursement of cash grants.‐among‐philpost‐s‐top‐customers‐in‐2013                

Bigger agri subsidy eyed Published : Friday, October 25, 2013 00:00 Written by : Paul Gutierrez AMID persistent high rice prices, hitting all-time highs in September despite the harvest season, Laguna 3rd district Rep. Sol Aragones has pushed for greater subsidy to agriculture through a bill filed in the House of Representatives. Citing the country’s low productivity compared to other rice producers in Asia as well as the often-prohibitive cost of fertilizer as bases, Aragones on Wednesday filed House Bill No. 3252, also known as the “Rice Fertilizer Subsidy Act of 2013,” which seeks to provide qualified farmer-beneficiaries with 50 percent government subsidy for the procurement of fertilizer. “One big threat cited by the Department of Agriculture (DA) when it comes to rice production is the price of fertilizers. It is thus necessary to restore the subsidy provided by the state to rice farmers in the purchase of their fertilizers.” explained the media personality-turned-lawmaker. The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) estimates that fertilizers account for 20 percent of total rice production cost, requiring at least 8 bags per hectare of plantation. Each bag of fertilizer costs upwards of P1,000, according to September 2013 data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS). Lack of government subsidy in agriculture has been regarded by experts as a major contributor to poor production and high retail prices, “effectively inhibiting growth of farm productivity and employment, reducing the earnings of poor farmers and landless workers, and making food more expensive and less accessible to poor urban consumers and even small farmers who are net buyers of food,” according to National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Sec. Arsenio Balisacan. But while the government has yet to substantially increase its subsidy to agricultural inputs, the NFA, in 2013 paid some P1.7 billion in duties and taxes for the importation of rice under a government-to-government arrangement. This is on top of the US$94.5 million or more than P4 billion spent by the agency to import 205,700 MT of rice from Vietnam in April of 2013. The transaction is currently under investigation by both the Senate and the House for allegations of half-a-billion pesos overpricing.

Despite having invested heavily in government importation this year, rice prices in September soared to an all-time high according to the BAS -- to P36.04 per kilogram, increasing 23 percent from P29.38 at the height of the rice crisis in 2008. Balisacan, himself a former agriculture undersecretary, had previously pushed for higher subsidies in production and the “dismantling of the National Food Authority’s extensive interventions in rice trade, including its virtual monopoly in rice importation.” Aragones’ bill, consistent with the NEDA’s recommendations, advocates for higher government investments in fertilizer farm inputs to “support the livelihood of rice farmers; achieve national self-sufficiency in rice; ensure that it is financially sustainable for the government; and curtail transaction costs and inefficiencies associated with distribution,” among others. Earlier, Agri-Agra Reporma Para sa Magsasakang Pilipinas (AGRI) partylist Rep. Delph Gan Lee also advocated for wiser government spending in agriculture through HB 2936 or the “National Food Authority Rationalization Act of 2013” seeking to end the NFA’s supposed import monopoly and “to allow for scarce government resources to be re-allocated away from costly price stabilization functions to more productive investment in rice research and development, extension services and irrigation.”

BLOODY RUNUP TO POLLS Published : Friday, October 25, 2013 00:00 Written by : Zaida delos Reyes-Palanca

WITH just a few days before the barangay elections, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has recorded a total of 30 Election Related Incidents (ERIs) since the start of the campaign period. This is based on the figures released by the PNP National Operation Center in Camp Crame. The figures are higher than during the 2010 barangay election. According to the statistics, of the recorded ERIs 28 were shooting incidents, two were stabbing cases while 51 victims were recorded. Records show that 22 individuals were killed, half of them government officials while the other half civilians. Twenty-four civilians were wounded. Although the figures are higher than in the last barangay elections, the PNP remains unperturbed and said the situation is still manageable. PNP Spokesman Sr. Supt. Wilben Mayor said they are set to raise one notch higher the alert level status of police forces across the country on the eve of election day as police continue to implement stricter security measures.

“The PNP will continue to implement the election gun ban and at the sametime we will raise the alert level of our forces this weekend… and we are also ready to implement the liquor-ban,” Mayor added. The PNP has arrested 509 individuals for violation of the election gun ban, most of them civilians with 475; security guards, 19; five policemen; four military personnel; four government officials and two militiamen. Police confiscated from these individuals a total of 412 assorted types of firearms; 170 bladed weapons; 221 explosives; 65 grenades; 18 gun replicas and 3,153 rounds of ammunition.

BIR probe Published : Friday, October 25, 2013 00:00 Written by : Hector Lawas Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares bared yesterday that revenue probers are now investigating lawmakers who might have benefitted unjustly from the Priority Development Assistance Fund. Henares divulged that the BIR will be using as basis for its investigation a controversial report from the Commission on Audit detailing the manner lawmakers spent their pork. “Yes because there was an allegation in the COA report,� Henares said when asked by reporters if lawmakers implicated in the pork barrel scam were facing BIR scrutiny. However, Henares refused to name those lawmakers supposedly under investigation for allegedly mishandling their pork.

Pinay’s ashes brought home soon Published : Friday, October 25, 2013 00:00 Written by : Cristina Lee-Pisco THE ashes of a Filipina immigrant who disappeared in West Virginia more than 10 years ago and who was later found to have been murdered will soon be brought to the Philippines. The Philippine Embassy said yesterday the cremated remains of Karen Santillan-Tait, a 23-year-old mother of one, are expected to arrive in Manila this week and turned over to her family in Legazpi City. Philippine Embassy officials expressed their appreciation to authorities in Waynesboro, West Virginia, for solving the case and putting Santillan-Tait’s husband, Thomas Neal Tait, 52, behind bars. “If not for their efforts, our kababayan would most likely remain nameless and her killer would still be on the loose,” Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose L. Cuisia Jr. said as he cited in particular the efforts of Prosecuting Attorney James L. Camblos III of the Office of the Commonwealth Attorney and case officer Corporal Alyssa Campbell of the Waynesboro Police Department. “We thank them and the good people of Waynesboro for going out of their way to make sure that Karen can finally rest in peace with her loved ones in the Philippines,” Cuisia said. He added that authorities and citizens of Waynesboro raised the necessary funds to cover the cost of the cremation, repatriation and burial of SantillanTait’s remains and other related expenses.  

Palace ignores apology Published : Friday, October 25, 2013 00:00 Written by : Efren Montano Malacañang is unruffled with the move of the Manila government to apologize to Hong Kong over the 2010 Manila hostage crisis. Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma said they are not bothered, too, with the reported support of Vice President Jejomar Binay to the move of Manila Mayor Joseph Erap Estrada to head a delegation to Hong Kong and personally deliver the apology. Coloma said Manila’s move is an “independent initiative” of a local government unit which enjoys autonomy. Coloma also stressed that Manila and Hong Kong are “sister cities” such that Estrada’s visit could likely be a way to promote goodwill between the two cities. Earlier, Binay reportedly expressed support at the same time for Aquino’s position not to say sorry, saying that the incident happened in the capital city. “Tanungin natin siya kung ano ’yung context din nu’n,” Coloma said of Binay’s statement of support for Estrada.‐palace‐ignores‐apology         

SSS open on Saturdays Published : Friday, October 25, 2013 00:00 Written by : Joel dela Torre STARTING October 26 Social Security System (SSS) members can now transact business in all branches all over the country even on Saturdays. According to SSS Officer-in-Charge Edgar Solilapsi, the move is part of the agency’s thrust to make its services more accessible to its members. The Social Security Commission has approved the extended branch schedule, which aims to accommodate members who cannot transact at SSS branch offices during regular business hours on weekdays. Under the new schedule, SSS branches will be open to serve members from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Saturday, on top of their regular business hours on Mondays to Fridays. “We encourage members, as well as regular and household employers, to take advantage of this special SSS branch schedule, which starts on October 26,” Solilapsi said. The extended work schedule will also benefit Cebu and Bohol-based members affected by the recent earthquake covered by the SSS Calamity Relief Package. This package includes the Salary Loan Early Renewal Program (SLERP) for members with existing salary loans; the waived one percent service fee for new salary loan borrowers; advance release of three-month pensions; and the fixed six percent annual interest rate and waived application fee under the special House Repair and Improvement Loan Program. A similar calamity relief package is also on-going for members and pensioners affected by Typhoon “Santi,” which left the town of San Miguel, Bulacan in a state of calamity as declared by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council or “NDRRMC.”‐sss‐open‐on‐saturdays   

2013 10 25 quedancor daily news monitor  
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