Tilapia production can’t meet local demand Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:54 pm | Saturday, November 2nd, 2013 CLARK FREEPORT—There is still not enough tilapia to meet local demand, agriculture officials said during the 4th Tilapia Congress at Fontana Convention Park here. But the industry and the government still intend to make the fish a global export commodity, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said in a speech read for him by Andrew Villacorta, director of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Central Luzon. In his speech, Alcala said the 270,000 metric tons of tilapia being produced annually had not been sufficient to meet the domestic demand. The DA has embarked on a food sufficiency program under the Aquino administration and is aiming to reduce the country’s dependence on imported food items by 2016. The agency plans to address the shortfall by developing 950,000 hectares of swamps, wetlands and several lakes in the Bicol region for tilapia production, Alcala said.
Only Central Luzon has been producing huge volumes of tilapia, which represent 45 percent of the national production, he said. A kilo of tilapia used to cost as much as a man’s minimum wage in the 1980s, Director Asis Perez of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said, citing his experience with the commodity in Laguna province. “Tilapia at that time was served only during birthday celebrations or fiestas. It was considered food for the rich,” he said. Today, he said, the price of tilapia had gone down to the more affordable P100 a kilo. “As a matter of fact, tilapia is now one of the seven basic commodities being monitored by the government, next to rice,” he added. DA and BFAR officials present at the congress exchanged tips with tilapia growers, who have expressed their desire to export the fish. Jun Malig, Inquirer Central Luzon
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/519239/tilapia-production-cant-meet-localdemand#ixzz2jZtI36aR
Phl tuna industry thrives amid challenges By Ronron Calunsod, Kyodo (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2013 - 12:00am
A fisherman hauls tuna from his fishing boat. GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines â€“ The Philippinesâ€™ tuna industry is thriving following stock management measures and despite challenges in its marketing overseas, officials and businessmen from the sector say. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala expressed optimism about a rebound in the industry this year after the lifting last year of a two-year tuna fishing ban imposed on the Philippines in a portion of the Pacific Ocean for stock replenishment. Alcala said tuna, which contributes more than 20 percent of marine fisheries production in the Philippines and is also the top fish export commodity, has consistently declined over the past few years. But conservation efforts and improved fishing management are expected to give the sector a turnaround staring this year, assuring the 1.5 million Filipinos who rely on fishing for their livelihood a steady, if not better, income. With 2.2 million square kilometers of waters as part of the migratory path of tuna, the Philippines is rich in yellowfin and skipjack tuna, particularly off Mindanao island. A few bigeye tuna and eastern little tuna are also found.
The high quality tuna are exported to the US, Germany, Britain, Japan, Thailand, the Netherlands, and Vietnam, while the rest are consumed domestically. During the first six months this year, skipjack production reached 120,850 tons, up 30.28 percent from a year ago, while yellowfin production reached 66,250 tons, up 13.93 percent. Overall, the fishing industry posted 4.44 percent growth in production value from January to June this year, with production reaching 2.4 million metric tons. “Bigger sizes of catch were noted and more fishing days were reported because of few weather disturbances during the period,” the Agriculture department reported. In 2012, commercial catches of bigeye and yellowfin tuna totaled 7,912 tons and 77,730 tons although the entire industry declined by 0.7 percent. “’We’re glad that our tuna stocks have recovered. Eventually, the main thing here really is sustainability, that we have more fish for our children, or the children of our children,” Ronnel Rivera, mayor of General Santos City in the southeastern part of Mindanao, told Kyodo News. The city, which has a population of almost 700,000, is regarded as the tuna capital of the Philippines because of the abundance of supply and being close to the marine resources-rich Celebes Sea and Pacific Ocean. From 2008 to 2012, nearly 40 percent of the fish unloaded in seven major ports in the Philippines was at General Santos. “Tuna has always been there for GenSan because we’re part of the tuna highway. We’re part of the migration path of tuna,” Rivera said, adding that with six canneries and a number of other fishing companies operating in the city, fishing has become the number one source of employment for its people and many of those in nearby provinces. Zimar Lanticse, 23, a fish classifier assistant at General Santos port, said he is satisfied with his daily income of P500 to P1,000 ($11.6 to $23.2), compared to the P310 he got working in a musical instrument shop. “My work time here is only about seven hours a day. If I am not busy, I can do an extra job of carrying fish, which gives me additional P30 for each. So, I can tell you that there is really money here,” he said. As does Lanticse, fisherman Melchor Manzo, 48, prays for an abundant fish supply and high demand in the market, saying he could no longer change jobs as he has been a fisherman for more than 20 years. Speaking aboard the fishing boat where he works that had just docked in General Santos after a month in the Pacific Ocean, Manzo said, “There are times we come home with zero income.
Other times, we are blessed to have good catch, so I get to take home P5,000 or P10,000, or even as much as P15,000. So I think the availability of fish is not cause for worry.” “It’s just normal that they decline, and then later pick up because these fish reproduce,” he said. Rivera said the key to avoid depletion of stocks that happened in previous years due to lack of regulations and control amid a rise in the number of fishing companies is proper management of fishing grounds and proper fishing practices. Rock Garay, a co-owner of Well-Delight Network Corp. which processes tuna for export, affirms that catches were down in recent years due to more fishing companies and the onset of climate change. He also said there are more smaller fish now than 10 years ago when the average fish weighted 50 to 60 kilograms. Now the average is closer to 35 to 40 kg, he said. As an exporter primarily to the US, Garay said the reduction in tuna size, particularly of yellowfin, means lost income because bigger fish have better color and texture and command higher prices. His wife Emma said the March 2011 earthquake in Japan forced them to stop shipping products there because Japanese orders shrank. “’I think it’s recovering now. So, we’re starting to negotiate and hopefully, resume our exports to Japan this year,” she added. Rivera said fresh, sashimi-grade tuna in General Santos all goes to Japan, while canned tuna goes to the United States. Masao Oishi of Prime Katsuobushi Philippines said that while an annual three-month fishing ban hurts his company, which exports all entire smoked and dried skipjack tuna to Japan for processing, he knows it is advantageous in the longer term. “The trend of the catch now is actually going up. So, there is no problem so far in our company. It’s going strong and alive,” he told Kyodo News. Plant manager Glenn Caballero said the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources just has to properly implement existing fishing regulations such as the use of appropriate nets to ensure sustainability, noting private players are supportive of such measures. http://www.philstar.com/agriculture/2013/11/03/1252333/phl-tuna-industry-thrives-amidchallenges
Pig farm owner seeks dialogue with NPA, military, workers By Gerry Lee Gorit (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The owner of a pig farm in Libona, Bukidnon whose hogs were killed by the New People’s Army last week has called for a dialogue with his workers, the military and a representative of the NPA. Mega Farm owner See Hong said the dialogue would try to address salary grievances among his workers that the NPA said was the reason why they attacked the farm. He said his piggery and poultry farm resumed operations on Saturday although the workforce constitutes only 60 percent of the total number. Last Wednesday, NPA fighters disarmed the security guards of the farm, burned some property, and shot dead more than 50 pigs and wounded about 500 more. Capt. Christian Uy, spokesman for the Philippine Army 4th Infantry Division based in neighboring Cagayan de Oro City, said the NPA group that attacked Mega Farm was the same group that recently attacked the Agrinanas agricultural business in the same municipality and the Del Monte plant in neighboring Manolo Fortich. He also said that the NPA fighters in Bukidnon belong to same group in Misamis Oriental, and the military has continued its pursuit operations against the rebels in their suspected areas of consolidation. Uy earlier said that the NPA could have staged the attack because of the collection of “revolutionary taxes.” http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/11/03/1252411/pig-farm-owner-seeks-dialogue-npamilitary-workers
NFA chief qualified – Ochoa By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - There are no more questions on the appointment of National Food Authority (NFA) administrator Orlan Calayag on allegations that he is an American citizen. Based on an assessment of the documents provided by Calayag, he has “met all the qualifications necessary to hold his current position,” Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said. President Aquino approved the nomination of Calayag as administrator of the NFA for the term beginning July 1 and ending on June 30, 2014. Ochoa’s office transmitted the letter on Calayag’s appointment to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala on July 12. Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. earlier said there was an ongoing review and verification process to address other issues pertinent to Calayag’s appointment. Calayag said he renounced his US citizenship shortly after gaining dual citizenship last January. Lawyer Argee Guevarra earlier raised questions about Calayag’s dual citizenship, noting the NFA charter allowed only natural-born Filipinos to lead the agency. Calayag did not go into details, but said he followed the process set by the US government in renouncing US citizenship that he gained in 2009. Calayag was supposed to serve only the unexpired term of his predecessor Angelito Banayo, who resigned to run for congressman of the first district of Agusan del Norte in the 2013 midterm elections, or until June 30. Coloma said Calayag’s reappointment was in accordance with Republic Act No. 10149 or the Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCC) Governance Act of 2011. “There are hundreds of appointments being made that go to the Office of the President, and each one of those appointments goes through a vetting and screening process. So that is what was done in this case and in all other appointments,” he said. Prior to his appointment to the NFA, Calayag was executive director of the Progressive Community and Ecological Services Organization, a non-government organization helping farmers, fisherfolk, the youth, women, and other sectors in the areas of livelihood, job generation and environmental protection. Militant groups, however, are demanding the resignation of Calayag amid complaints and issues haunting the NFA.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said Calayag was appointed by President Aquino through Alcala as head of NFA. “There is no other way but to demand Calayag’s resignation as his office continues to be a pool for corruption. The peasantry and the Filipino people are not bent on believing that the NFA is handling the rice smuggling fiasco just fine,” KMP secretary-general Antonio Flores said. Flores pointed out the NFA has been linked to several issues in the past months like the Vietnam rice scam and the overpricing of rice imports to P472 million. “We condemn the lack of sanctions from the Department of Agriculture and the Palace. In fact, Calayag remains to be untouchable and hasn’t been held accountable in the rice scams. We want him liable for his actions and we want him out,” he said. – With Rhodina Villanueva http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/11/03/1252413/nfa-chief-qualified-ochoa
Solons seek condonation of unpaid interests, penalties on farmers and fishermen’s loans Category: Economy 02 Nov 2013 Written by PNA TWO lawmakers are pushing for relief or condonation on the payment of interests that burden farmers, especially those who suffered production losses caused by typhoons, resulting to default on their loan payments. Party-list Rep. Cresente Paez and Anthony Bravo of Cooperative-National Confederation of Cooperatives filed House Bill 280, which provides for the condonation of unpaid interests, penalties and surcharges on loans secured by farmers, fishermen and agrarian-reform beneficiaries. Paez said the condonation should be applied on loans from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the People’s Credit and Finance Corp., the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), the National Food Authority and the Quedan and Rural Credit Guarantee Corp. Under the bill, the basis for the payment relief shall be limited to force majeure or market aberration and shall, in no case, be applied for the willful default of the borrower to pay such loans.The measure further provides that the accumulated payments of not less than 5 percent of the loan principal shall have been paid at the time of application for condonation. And to encourage borrowing discipline and enhance credit worthiness, the bill requires that a graduation process shall be followed in consonance with the plan of payment, such that a borrower shall only be granted a one-time condonation. It also provides that the condonation of unpaid interests, penalties and surcharges from loans acquired through conduit banks and financial institutions shall be in conformity with the applicable general banking laws and regulations of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Delinquent farmers, fishermen or agrarian-reform beneficiaries who secured agricultural and agrarian- reform credit through the Credit Assistance Programs—Programs Beneficiaries Development of the DAR; the Resettlement Loan Assistance Program of the DAR; and Cooperative Development Loan Fund of the CDA, among others, may apply for condonation of unpaid interests, penalties and surcharges with the concerned agency or corporation. Bravo said farmers and agrarian- reform beneficiaries are not only entrepreneurs in rural areas but are also partners in the evolution of a better and brighter country. “It is therefore imperative upon us to take an overwhelming care and attention by condoning these interests that burdened the debt,” Bravo said. PNA http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/economy/22150-solons-seekcondonation-of-unpaid-interests-penalties-on-farmers-and-fishermen-s-loans
Northern city pork fattens farmers’ pockets Category: Regions 02 Nov 2013 Written by Leonardo Perante II / Story and Photos
HE hasn’t hogged headlines. But 74-year-old entrepreneur Roger Confieso has barreled his way up to be considered the roasted pork mogul of Santiago City. And he, unlike politicians involved in a pork barrel scam, has earned the respect of many residents here because of his dedication to the business of selling lechon. With that dedication, Confieso has spurred interests on raising hogs, including the former city mayor. Born on July 2, 1939, in Bongabong, Nueva Ecija, Confieso recalls he was only 17 years old when he left for Manila to work for his uncle Francisco Calilap in Velasquez, Tondo. Calilap ran the biggest livestock-distribution center in the country back in 1957. His uncle supplied Tomas de los Reyes of the famous “Mang Tomas Lechon” brand, with live hogs for his budding business. As his uncle’s delivery man, Confieso met de los Reyes’s son Rudy, who eventually shared with Confieso the basics for making quality-tasting lechon.
Confieso applied what he learned from his newfound friend. He remembers his first lechon product for a neighbor in Tondo and proved to be successful because more orders kept coming in. And Confieso’s dream became larder, err, larger than life. But what are the secrets for a great-tasting lechon? Confieso says that since regional taste buds differ, lechon preparation would also differ depending on where the business is. “Lechon delicacies in the South are more of spices and full of aromatic insertions, while those up North in the Ilocano regions prefer theirs well-done but with a bit salty finish,” Mang Roger claims. When his family migrated to Santiago, Isabela, in 1977, he found no difficulty of keeping a reputable brand of lechon he introduced in town. “While there were no big piggeries here at that time, backyard-grown native swine were available practically in every household in the countryside because they served as literal piggy banks to locals who would sell them anytime they needed money. The pattern has been prevalent especially in far-flung villages,” Confieso said. There were rare instances when he would ran out of native stock compelling Confieso to roast hybrid large whites only to discover a big difference in taste and texture. “The skin of a native lechon can sustain to be crunchy the whole day unlike the hybrid ones which easily wilt in few hours. So I would rather not roast a lechon without a native stock.” Shaded with cogon grass cover, Confieso keeps his lechon yard with a primitive rural ambience, which he claims to be more comfortable for him when at work. Unwittingly, Confieso entered into the “organic” lechon industry.
Wild, man HAVING caught the eye of city officials, Confieso’s livestock-raising style that prompted the Santiago City veterinary office launched a wild-hog domestication program. The office, which initially encouraged the raising of native chicken in backyards, opted to launch the program that will give focus to the breeding of native swine with high degree of wild boar strain. “The high cost of feeds is one of the reasons why we are encouraging backyard owners in the countryside to engage in raising cross-bred native hogs not only because of their better tasting meat quality but they can be fed with wild-growing plants indigenous to the locality,” Santiago City Veterinary Officer Solomon Maylem said. Considered to be one of the most exotic meats and because of its rarity, the native pork commands a double price compared to the hybrid counterparts. A kilo runs to about P300. “Because they grow wild, the hogs are naturally more disease-resistant than the commercial swine and since they eat grass, definitely their meats are tastier and less fatty,” Maylem said. Maylem explained that growing wild hogs is more intended for personal consumption of those who have discriminating taste on pork preference and for those health-conscious individuals who avoid excessive fat. Former Santiago City Mayor Amelita Navarro, who is known to be fond of exotic food, has established a wild-hog breeding farm that continues to produce cross-breed native swine. “Nothing beats the best tasting lechon out of a native pig that’s why I was compelled to put up a native hog farm to answer the frequent meat requirement during special occasions at home,” Navarro said. She and the city can only credit Confieso for perking up the pork industry.
In Photo: A worker of Mang Roger’s Lechon, owned by entrepreneur Roger Confieso, in Patul, Santiago City, Isabela, prepares whole native pork on stick for roasting. (Right photo) Former Santiago City Mayor Amelita Navarro (third from right) and City Veterinary Officer Solomon Maylem (right) grace the opening of an agricultural festival in the city with a ceremonial chopping of native lechon with other local officials.
Pampanga group eyes national advocacy of ‘malunggay’ as superfood Category: Regions 02 Nov 2013 Written by Jojo C. Due / Story & photos
CLARK FREEPORT ZONE, Pampanga—Look not up in the sky but down: it’s not a man; it’s superfood. Found everywhere in the Philippines, the lowly Moringa oleifera, or known here as malunggay, is touted as such by a group advocating for farming and processing the plant nationwide. “The different parts of this plant contain important minerals and are a good source of protein, vitamins, beta-carotene and amino acids, among others,” Moringaling Philippines Foundation Inc. Director Bernadette Arellano said. The Moringaling is a network of organizations managing the moringa supply chain in the Philippines. Formed in 2009, the network includes farmers and producers, suppliers, processors and manufacturers, health enthusiasts, exporters and consumers of moringa products. Moringaling is derived from a play of words integrating the words “ang moringa ay magaling [moringa is good].”
The group aims to promote the health and economic benefits of moringa and in the long term, build a strong sustainable and globally competitive moringa industry in the Philippines.
Arellano said members of the network have assisted and shared with each other the best practices in moringa use, from farm management, propagation and processing technologies, equipment sourcing and acquisition, processing, plant design, market development and finance sourcing. Big demand RAFFY Barroso, executive director of the PRS Organic Center, said there is now a big demand for moringa in the US, where it is used as a food additive and considered a superfood. The head of the research and training institution of the University of the Philippines Los Baños campus added Germany exclusively buys moringa from the Philippines, a venture that they hope to maintain. “Moringa, in powder, flake, processed or raw, or practically in any form, can be used in almost any food, such as pasta and smoothies, for instance. Some of our members have created malunggay-fortified food. There is now even a malunggay shaker,” Barroso said. “This growing interest in moringa has started an industry.” Moringaling President Honorio Tan pointed out that what is interesting about the members of the foundation is they are all talking based on their experiences in moringa use, such as for ailments. Some even claim that these ailments are even life-threatening. They noted how the plant has helped them or their loved ones, earning for the tree among foundation members the moniker “miracle tree.” “Our members’ experiences were the bases for their going into the moringa business that, in turn, resulted in the production of foodstuff and vitamins,” Tan said. “That is why there is now a move to make moringa the world’s superfood. In fact, in some countries where it has been used, it is considered among the Trees of Life or even a miracle tree.” Some of their members include Gina Matsuoka who has developed a moringa furikake, a dry Japanese condiment meant to be sprinkled on top of rice. Matsuoka said she did this after her Japanese husband was able to stave off the progress of his liver cirrhosis problem by ingesting moringa seeds. He was afraid the prescribed medicine could worsen his problem. Another member, Peter Roland Petisme, owner of Philippine Moringa & More Corp. and a selfconfessed second-generation moringa lover, has produced a line of moringa-based health food and beverages like moringa tea, noodles, snacks, capsules, powder and flakes.
DIY food BING VAN TOOREN, another Moringaling board member, said malunggay’s nutritional value may even address malnutrition in the country. “One need not buy the products produced from moringa as some can be DIY [do-it-yourself] products such as dried leaves or seeds that have both medicinal and nutritional value,” van Tooren said. She pointed out that almost all parts of the tree, its roots, leaves, stem bark, gum, flowers, seed pods and seeds, are not only valued for their medicinal properties in some countries but specific parts are also used for food, such as in the Philippines where the leaves and seed pods are cooked in tinola or simply ginisa, among others. Van Tooren added that international non-governmental organizations have been advocating moringa as a “natural nutrition for the tropics,” with one author stating that the nutritional properties of moringa are now well known that there is little doubt of the substantial health benefits with the consumption of moringa leaf powder in situations where starvation is imminent.” Arellano added that aside from being a health-related endeavor, the moringa industry can also be a business venture, as most of their members have not only engaged in farming the tree but also processing for foodstuff and health products. “Unfortunately, only about 50 hectares of land in the Philippines is planted to moringa. And these are mostly cross-bred varieties. There is no native moringa. It could help if people planted more moringa trees not only to feed themselves but to keep themselves healthy.”
In Photo: Moringa-based products that include capsules, furikake, pancit canton, herbal tea and corn snacks. (Right photo) Dried moringa leaves produced at Moringaling Philippines Foundation Inc. farm in Pangasinan. The leaves can be eaten just as they are or processed in flake or powder form.
Surigao women seek more support for driedsquid enterprise Category: Regions 02 Nov 2013 Written by Noel T. Provido
DAVAO CITY—The women of Surigao del Norte are discovering dried squid as lucrative, but greater support is wanting. “Lack of financing limits us to produce dried squid of commercial quality. While most of us tried to produce the product, it was not as comparable as those sold in the market,” said Virgie Rivas of the group Women’s Livelihood Vision for Tomorrow (Wolivit). Rivas said their association could hardly sustain producing high-quality dried squid. According to her, this is because production is individually done among members and they could not monitor if the recommended manufacturing practices are observed. “We need to have a processing center so that we can ensure that the squids are dried and packed according to desired standards.” She added the association also needs adequate utensils “to expand our production and meet increasing orders from our buyers.”
Apart from dried mangoes and danggit, dried squid is also a popular present to bring home by travelers to this part of the archipelago. Dried squid or bulad pusit is a salted and sun-dried seafood product commonly produced along coastal areas. It is made of fresh and cleaned squids. The rural women of Malimono in Surigao del Norte have long seen dried squid as a profitable source of income production, as squid is abundant in their locality. However, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has no current estimates on the volume of production of dried squid. According to government agriculturists here, the process is simple and the marketing demand is high, making it a good business for rural folk. Rivas, who is chairman of the women’s livelihood association, said transforming raw squid into a dried product starts immediately after catch. Fresh squid must be cleaned and then dried for at least two to three days before they are packed, she added. “The technique of producing crispy dried squid lies in drying and packaging. There should be no shortcuts in drying.” She added that the squid must be sun-dried for at least a day and air-dried for at least two days. “This is to avoid molds while prolonging the product’s shelf life.” In packaging, Rivas said dried squid is quickly vacuum-sealed to keep bacteria out, prolong its shelf life and ensure its crispiness when fried.
Support RIVAS said the women’s livelihood group sought the assistance of various government agencies to help them upgrade the quality of their product.
She said they were able to access funds from the Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP), a special project of the DA with funding assistance from the World Bank of $16.6 million (roughly P798 million at September 2009 exchange rate of $1=P48). Through MRDP’s community fund for agricultural development, the unregistered association availed itself of P250,000. Rivas said the amount was spent for the construction of the group’s processing center. She added they also bought utensils and equipment for processing, including raw materials to improve and expand their production. “The assistance from MRDP was a big boost to our dried squid production. The processing center, which serves as our common production facility has upgraded the quality of our product as quality control is now strictly observed.” Program Director Lealyn Abellanosa-Ramos said Rivas’s women livelihood group is just one of the various organizations they help to help stimulate the local economy. “Malimono is one of the major seafood producers and it is inspiring to note that rural women here are engaging in value-added activities such as dried squid production.” She added: “Through community-driven development approach espoused by the program, beneficiaries has the leverage to come-up with projects based on their felt needs and develop it into a sustainable enterprise.” Rivas added the facility and the equipment allowed them to double production of dried squid from 100 kilos to as high as 250 kilos during peak season. They are selling these at P580 ($13.43) a kilo, which could gross up to P145,000 ($3,357.25, at current exchange rates of $1=P43.19). Rivas said the association supplies a souvenir store in Surigao City, which regularly places an order of at least 50 kilos a month. “We have also expanded our markets in the cities of Butuan, Davao and Cagayan de Oro and even in Metro Manila.”
Expansion DURING the lean season, Rivas said the association can only produce around a hundred kilos. She said they are now looking into consolidating the raw materials to offset low production.
Rivas said they also needed adequate drying facility so that they can dry the squid even during rainy seasons to cope with the year-round demand of their product. “We are planning to have a marketing contract with local fishermen to supply us the fresh squid and deliver it immediately to our processing center. In this way could ensure the quality of our raw materials.” She added that frozen or iced squid usually shrinks, which affects the quality of production. “Raw materials should be delivered to us on time so we could immediately process them and maintain the quality of our dried squid.” Rivas said their production process is quite laborious as it requires the squid to be peeled off to enhance its appearance. This, however, provided opportunity to other jobless women and children in their community as they are tapped in cleaning and peeling off the squid’s skin. “We pay them P8 for a kilo of squid they have cleaned. During weekends, children volunteer to work in the processing center so that they can also earn money for their [allowance] and [buy school] supplies,” Rivas said. For their customers to properly identify their product, they used their association’s acronym Wolivit as their brand. “We have learned that some traders claimed that the dried squid they are selling came from us but were actually bought elsewhere. So we decided to brand our product so that our valued customers would not be misled.” Ramos said government support has increased the income of the members of their association. Noel T. Provido, Department of Agriculture Davao information officer
In Photo: The dried-squid production provides rural women in Malimono, Surgiao del Norte, the opportunity to augment their meager household incomes (Right photo) Virgie Rivas (right) and members of the Surigao del Norte-based women’s livelihood association show off vacuumsealed dried squid being sold in major cities in Mindanao. They produce at least 250 kilos a month (peak season) and sell them at P580 a kilo. (Noel Provido) http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/regions/22143-surigao-women-seekmore-support-for-dried-squid-enterprise
Landslides threaten Leyte farms Category: Science 02 Nov 2013 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent THE soils of Southern Leyte hold too much water and can inundate rice farms downstream since rainfall batters the province 12 months a year, perhaps the only territory in the country that has no pronounced dry season. A recent study conducted by Beatriz Jadina of the Department of Agronomy and Soil Science of the Visayas State University in Baybay, Leyte, showed the soil types in the uplands and in the landslide areas are clayey, with some sandy and shale deposits. Rice is a major product of Southern Leyte, which produced 96,166 metric tons (MT) last year, and has the highest average yield in Eastern Visayas at 4.92 MT per hectare, the third-best average yield among rice-producing provinces nationwide. The study said the Department of Agriculture should take the lead in banning any form of agriculture in mountainous terrain. “It is strongly recommended that to improve soil stability, tree planting should be encouraged in the mountains of Southern Leyte, and tree cutting should be completely banned,” Jadina argued. Jadina’s study was supported by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca) and published into a monograph this year under the Agriculture and Development Discussion Paper Series of Searca. Searca Director Dr. Gil Saguiguit Jr. noted the Jadina study was significant since it determined with scientific accuracy the areas most vulnerable to landslides due to the seismic activities in the Philippine Eastern Fault, which traverses Leyte, particularly Southern Leyte. Saguiguit also explained that Jadina’s findings on the high water-holding capacity (WHC) of the soils in the upper reaches of the province will have an impact on rice farming in the lowlands, as well as on abaca and coconuts, which are cultivated in tandem in the sloping areas of Southern Leyte. These sloping areas are most prone to landslides, Jadina said, along with territories with distinct Miocene geology. Jadina found all the seven sites studied proximate to landslide areas had soil types that were clayey and had maximum WHC. “Maximum WHC refers to the amount of water retained by the soil when all of the pore spaces are occupied by water. WHC is a very important soil property since this is related to the
maximum amount of moisture that can be accommodated in the soil to sustain crop growth and development and facilitate chemical reactions and solubility of minerals,” she said. “Values added showed that the amount of moisture retained in the soil samples collected from the different profiles examined showed that WHC is a function of the amount of clay in the soil. The higher the amount of clay, the higher is the surface area and the higher is its WHC. These characteristics may imply that soils with high water-retention capacity, if present in areas with steep slope angles may result in landslides due to the combined weight of water and the soil materials,” Jadina added. Her study showed that only 13 percent of the land of the province or 21,647 hectares is suitable for coconut growing. Only 13 percent of Southern Leyte is best for abaca cultivation, she noted. Worse, Jadina discovered that only 8 percent of the land, or 13.373.88 hectares, is suitable for human settlements, with 46 percent, or 76,742.42 hectares, categorized completely not suitable for human habitation. “Not suitable are those found less than 8 kilometers from the fault line and at higher elevations and steep slopes. These are also areas frequently affected by seismic tremors. These characteristics of the area pose danger and serious hazards, especially during high and continuous rainfall.” she warned. She said that “the highest frequency [21 percent] of landslide occurrences in Southern Leyte were observed in Miocene—andesitic, basaltic, dacitic flows and breccia geologic formations— which is associated with the Leyte segment of the Philippine fault.” Moreover, Jadina added, “Landslides occurred at angles greater than 18 degrees and was at the highest frequency [54 percent] at angles greater than 50 degrees in both concave and convex slope curvatures.” The researcher noted, contrary to earlier analysis, that the loss of forest cover has something to do with landslides, particularly in an area were 5,000 lives were lost in Ormoc City in November 1991 and 200 lives in Panaon Island, Southern Leyte, on December 19, 2003. These massive landslides were caused by continuous heavy rains that stripped the topsoil and the minimum of vegetation that covers the uplands. In 2010 the forest cover further retreated to only 14 percent, meaning that the former geologic integrity of the area had been compromised, and a sharp departure from the previous character of the provice as largely covered by tropical rainforests, save for swampy areas. “Logging had depleted the forests of Leyte and Southern Leyte. In fact, a significant portion of the hills and mountains is devoid of vegetative cover. The current land use in Southern Leyte is dominated by coconut, abaca, banana, grasslands, upland crops [originally under dipterocarp forests] and rice in lowland areas,” Jadina stressed.
She found a big number of landslide points, 52, in the general area. “The highest number of occurrences was observed in San Francisco, Liloan and San Ricardo, Southern Leyte. Landslides generally occurred at the ridges near the fault line. It is strongly recommended that the unsuitable zones be planted with trees and forest cover should be restored, if possible, to 1954 levels to enhance stability,” she said. Jadina also recommended that human settlements be moved to prevent casualties from recurrent earthquakes and landslides. “Human settlement is strongly discouraged in the unsuitable zones and its immediate vicinity [approximately within the 8-kilometer run-out distance],” she said. Moreover, most of the landslides occurred in rough stony land (51 percent), rough mountainous land at 29 percent and 10 percent for Himayangan clay loam. What compounds the threat of landslides in Southern Leyte is the fact that it is characterized by Type II climate, which means it has no dry season but has maximum rainfall from November to January. Jadina explained and the disastrous landslides were preceded by strong rainfall, with 853 millimeters (mm) in December 2003 and 694.2 mm in February 2006. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/features/science/22130-landslides-threaten-leytefarms
Songs on environment may sing victory for Davao City musicians Category: Regions 02 Nov 2013 Written by Manuel T. Cayon
DAVAO CITY—A five-member band using a combination of indigenous and electronic instruments is banking on their song about the environment to bring them fame and a small fortune. Members of Jad Montenegro, the band that took its name from its lead vocalist, are currently doing the rounds of FM stations and gigs in hotels and corporate functions, and promoting the music search alongside a call to also vote online in its favor. The group has been selected to vie for the P150,000 top prize of a contest organized by a shoemaker, which organizers said was a “campaign to celebrate music, creativity and the talented Filipino artists.” The contest would be strong in the songwriting skills and artistry of Filipino music bands. Four other bands were selected to represent their respective city: Even of Baguio City, representing Northern Luzon; Brisom representing the National Capital Region; Kissbone of Taytay, Rizal, representing Southern Luzon; and Bethany representing the whole central island group of the Visayas. Jad Montenegro would perform “The Escapist,” a song about confronting the ebb in a relationship, backed by haunting musical of electronic and indigenous instruments. Lead vocalist Montenegro penned the song, as with the rest of the band’s songs. She performed solo here after returning from a college in Manila and later formed the band that carried her name. She had won Best Pop Artist in 2009 at the Muzika del Sur Awards and won Best Music Video in 2010 for her song “The Backyard.”
The band released its first commercial songs on June 22 last year, and were sold out before its set started. “Jad’s haunting melodies, vocals, lyrics, soulful guitar riffs and non-standard tunings are gaining for the band a reputation of being different, wise beyond their years, and able to deeply connect with their audience,” a commentary in their album bearing the band’s name said. The band Even, describing its music as “dark and melancholic,” would perform “Luminary,” according to contest briefing materials. Brisom would do “Waking Lives,” written along the lines of soulful indie rock. Kissbone, a hard-core and rock-metal band, would perform “Distance and Motion,” while Bethany would do “Moving On,” also embodying the alternative rock music that the band has been doing. Finals would be on November 9. Aside from the top purse, the host would give P100,000 to the first runner-up, and P60,000 and P40,000 to the next two runners-up, respectively.
In Photo: Jad Montenegro http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/regions/22142-songs-on-environmentmay-sing-victory-for-davao-city-musicians
BSP: Higher capitalization means better performance Category: Top News 02 Nov 2013 Written by Bianca Cuaresma A HIGHER capitalization for the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has become very urgent as the economy and the financial system have grown many times over the last 20 years, a BSP official told the BusinessMirror on Saturday. In reply to a query, BSP Deputy Governor for the Monetary Stability Sector Diwa Guinigundo said in a text message that the central bank needed a higher capitalization to enable it to perform better in terms of setting the appropriate economic-environment conduct to monetary and financial stability. Guinigundo was asked to comment on a bill filed in mid-October by Senate President Franklin Drilon seeking to amend the decades-old BSP charter. One of the bill’s key provisions is to provide the central bank with a fresh P150-billion capital, on top of the P50 billion earlier pledged by the national government. Out of the P50 billion pledged by the national government in 1993, only P40 billion has actually been given to the BSP, the latest of which was the P20-billion capitalization given in December last year. “Both the economy and the financial system have grown many times over the last 20 years. Therefore, the central bank should have a capital base commensurate to the size of both the economy and the financial system. Unfortunately, the BSP’s capitalization based on its charter has remained at P50 billion, with only P40 billion actually remitted by the national government in recent years,” Guinigundo said. In its mandate of promoting price and financial stability, the BSP incurs losses as markets become more volatile, he said. For example, in order for the central bank to temper extreme movement in foreign-exchange values, it participates in so-called open-market operations and buys volumes of currency needed to push the peso’s value and normalize the exchange rate. Guinigundo reported to the Senate earlier in the Development Budget Coordination Committee hearing that in the last three years of operation, the BSP incurred a net loss of about P33 billion in 2011, P95 billion in 2012 and about P14.3 billion in the first eight months of this year, totaling to about P142-billion losses in three years. Guinigundo also said in the same hearing that the BSP has already remitted about P17 billion in interest gains to the national government. This is on top of the P73 billion in dividends. Also, since 1998, the central bank no longer enjoys the benefit of tax exemption for the government. From that time until August this year, the BSP paid an income tax of about P15 billion and other taxes amounting to about P55 billion.
All in all, the BSP has remitted about P160 billion in interest gains, dividends in cash and property and in taxes. Guinigundo said the bill seeking to increase the BSP’s capital and grant the BSP other forms of support would not be unique to the Philippines. “These proposals are not going to accord unique privileges to the BSP. Other central banks in the region and elsewhere are given similar support,” Guinigundo said. “In fact, some governments provide automatic recapitalization; others practice symmetrical treatment of losses and gains being equally shared between the central banks and their governments.” Guinigundo said a higher capital base could provide the BSP with resources to better respond to the needs of the changing market, especially now that markets have been globally integrated. One of the benefits of an increased capitalization would be a more effective BSP intervention in open-market operation to tame the impact of liquidity flows. “Allowing the BSP to issue its own debt securities, establish buffer accounts—deduction of foreign-exchange losses, for instance—and tax exemption on governmental functions would definitely support the proposed increase in capitalization,” Guinigundo said. A higher capitalization, he also said, would give the BSP resources to ensure that the central bank could minimize the adverse spillover effects that can be caused by distressed systematically important financial institutions. These are banks, insurance companies or other institutions providing financial services whose failure could lead to an economic crisis. “We believe it would be sufficient to support the BSP with higher capitalization, authority to issue its own debt securities, establish buffer accounts and tax exemptions,” Guinigundo said. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/top‐news/22160‐bsp‐higher‐capitalization‐ means‐better‐performance
Consumer rates likely to hike Oct inflation Category: Top News 02 Nov 2013 Written by Bianca Cuaresma CONSUMER prices likely accelerated in October and averaged higher than the 2.7-percent inflation rate posted in September, economists said on Friday. For Banco de Oro (BDO) chief market strategist Jonathan Ravelas, October’s headline inflation would likely hit 2.85 percent. He also said he expected inflation to average at 3.5 percent next year. On the other hand, Patrick Ella, Security Bank Corp. economist, said he expects inflation to hit 3.2 percent, and that this “jump” is due to food-price gains. Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) lead economist Emilio Neri Jr. also cited “supply bottlenecks” due to the damage caused by the recent typhoon as the leading factor that pushed inflation upward in October this year. He forecast an inflation rate of 3.3 percent in October. Neri also said the “somewhat noticeable weakness” of the peso against the US dollar compared to the local currency’s strength last year might also have contributed to the uptick. The BPI economist also expressed concern over the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’s target-inflation range for 2015. “We would also like to reiterate our recommendation to the BSP to revise its 2015 inflation target upward. While there is still some space to make a credible adjustment, the window for market acceptance is quickly closing,” he said. The central bank’s target range for inflation in 2015 is set at 2 percent to 4 percent, slightly lower compared to the ranges set in 2013 and 2014, which is both at 3 percent to 5 percent. About 3.1 percent is the average of the forecasts of these three economists. In September the country’s inflation rate jumped to 2.7 percent, after dipping into a four-year low inflation rate in August, at 2.1 percent. In the first nine months of the year, the average inflation was at 2.8 percent, still slightly below the government’s forecast of 3 percent for the year and the government’s target range of 3 percent to 5 percent. For inflation to hit the government’s target of 3 percent, it must accelerate to about 3.5 percent in the last three months of the year. The highest inflation rate this year was at 3.4 percent, seen in February. The BSP earlier released a forecast range for October’s inflation. The monetary authority said it expects October inflation to hit between 2.8 percent and 3.6 percent. Bianca Cuaresma http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/top‐news/22159‐consumer‐rates‐likely‐to‐ hike‐oct‐inflation
Keep tobacco away from the youth Category: Opinion 02 Nov 2013 Written by The BusinessMirror Editorial
OUR own lawmakers should follow the example of the New York City Council, which voted recently to raise the legal age to buy tobacco products and electronic cigarettes to 21 from 18. The City Council also passed measures to set a $10.50 minimum price for a pack of 20 cigarettes or little cigars, ban discounting of tobacco products, and increase fines for illegal and untaxed sales. These are all aimed at keeping young people from smoking. “By increasing the smoking age to 21, we will help prevent another generation from the ill health and shorter life expectancy that comes with smoking,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said following the vote. “It’s critical that we stop young people from smoking before they ever start.” We agree completely with this view, and urge our own lawmakers, whether at the national or local levels, to take similar measures to curb smoking. The reality today is that we have a high number of smokers who continue to puff away despite the health problems that nicotine addiction brings in its wake, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and lung cancer. The “sin” tax bill was passed by Congress and enacted into law not too long ago precisely to raise taxes on tobacco products to discourage smoking, especially among the youth. The proceeds from the additional levy on tobacco are earmarked for the government’s health programs. This law is timely and appropriate, as it would go a long way in reducing tobacco consumption and the concomitant health problems of smokers. We are well aware that the local tobacco industry fought tooth and nail against the passage of the sin-tax bill, as it would erode their profit levels. But with the law now in place, then it should be followed to the letter because the health of our people is of paramount concern. We fully support efforts by the government, led by the Department of Health, as well as by health advocates and non-governmental organizations concerned with public health, to warn the
public, particularly the youth, to avoid the pitfalls of smoking through a vigorous information, communication and education campaign. While raising the legal age to buy cigarettes may not by itself significantly reduce smoking incidence in this country, it will be a big step forward in the battle to reduce deaths from smoking-related diseases. It is a state policy enshrined in the Constitution for the government to protect and promote the health of the people and instill health consciousness among them. If we adopt similar measures as those passed by the New York City Council last week and implement innovative programs designed to stop young people from taking up smoking, then we give flesh to the state policy of protecting public health. More than this, we guarantee that the future of the country will be in good hands, rather than, quite literally, going up in smoke. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/opinion/22156‐keep‐tobacco‐away‐from‐the‐ youth
Enfinity PHL to build 20-MW solar-power plant in Zambo Category: Economy 02 Nov 2013 Written by PNA IT’S all systems go for Enfinity Philippines Renewable Resources Inc., the local arm of Belgian renewable energy developer Enfinity, to put up a 20-megawatt solar-power plant worth P1.4 billion in Zamboanga City. Enfinity President Dennis Chan Ibarra said the power plant will be constructed at the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone and Freeport Authority in San Ramon, Barangay Talisayan, west of this city. Ibarra said the Department of Energy had already granted them with a service contract to build the power plant. He, however, said the solar plant may be too small for this city’s power demand “but at least it could help and part of the solution to the power crisis.” Ibarra further said Enfinity and Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative will jointly petition the Energy Regulatory Board for the rate approval. “We are now busy preparing the power rates, the power-purchase agreement and we are also busy formalizing the land leases, now that the national government has released the service contract,” he said. He assured that the power rates from solar energy are much lower than the current rates. Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar has strongly endorsed Enfinity’s solar power project proposal when she and Ibarra met on Wednesday at the City Hall. PNA http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/economy/22149-enfinity-phl-to-build-20mw-solar-power-plant-in-zambo
Hot planet seen as Earth’s twin in size, scientists find Category: Science 02 Nov 2013 Written by Nicole Ostrow / Bloomberg News
A PLANET located about 400 light-years away has a similar density and size to Earth, yet is much hotter and can’t support life, two studies found. Kepler-78b, discovered earlier this year using data from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Kepler Space Telescope, is probably made of rock and iron like Earth, according to two studies in the journal Nature. The planet, which orbits a star in 8.5 hours rather than a sun in a year like Earth, is the smallest for which the radius and mass are accurately known, the researchers said. “Every new detection is a piece of a larger puzzle,” said Francesco Pepe, lead author of one of the papers and an associate professor of astronomy at Geneva University, in an e-mail. “All these pieces of puzzle are important to get a global picture of how planets form, live and die.” Researchers from Geneva University and the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu determined the mass of Kepler-78b and then its density. Pepe said they found that the planet’s mass was about 1.86 times that of Earth, while its density was nearly identical to Earth’s, implying the planet is made up of iron and rock. Andrew Howard, lead author of the University of Hawaii paper, found that Kepler-78b’s mass was 1.69 times that of Earth and its density was similar to Earth’s, as well. Both authors said their findings released on Wednesday weren’t significantly different. Drake Deming, a professor in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Maryland in College Park, wrote in an accompanying article that the results show that Kepler-78b is “a virtual twin of Earth by astronomical standards.” “Kepler-78b, thereby, foreshadows leaps forward in the search of life beyond the Solar System,” he wrote. In Photo: This artist’s rendering provided by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics on October 30 shows a comparison between the Earth and planet Kepler-78b which is in the Cygnus constellation hundreds of light-years away. (AP)
Wilma brewing off Mindanao (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2013 ‐ 12:00am googleplus
MANILA, Philippines - Two days after Typhoon Vinta left the country, another possible storm is brewing off Mindanao and might enter the Philippine area of responsibility today. Jori Loiz, senior weather forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said they detected a new low-pressure area which is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility this morning. As of yesterday afternoon, the low-pressure area was still in the Pacific Ocean, and it might enter east of Mindanao. Loiz said it would depend if the low-pressure area would be able to maintain its speed. He added they are not discounting the possibility that it would intensify into a tropical depression because it was still in the water and could gather strength. “It would also depend if the conditions are favorable to its development into a tropical depression,” he said.
There is also a chance that the low-pressure area would dissipate. If it turns into a tropical cyclone it would be the 23rd to enter the country this year and would be named Wilma. Damage Vinta, on the other hand, left the country over the weekend with more than 30,038 families or 150,000 local residents from 29 towns in Cagayan province affected by the storm. Cagayan Gov. Alvaro Antonio said the number of storm-affected residents increased and damage estimate of destroyed crops went up to more than P38 million yesterday. The towns of Abulug, Camalaniugan, Penablanca, Piat, Rizal, Solana, Sta. Ana, Tuao, Tuguegarao City and the island town of Calayan have yet to submit their disaster report to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) due communication problems, as most areas in the province are still without power. “The first and second district are still without power,” Antonio said. He added communication facilities by mobile phone providers in the province have yet to be fully restored. While there were no reported deaths from the storm, nine people were injured, three each from Sanchez Mira, Buguey and Lallo towns. “As of yesterday, 376 barangays, 30,038 families or 153,391 individuals were affected by the storm,” Antonio said in his report to Cagayan Valley Office of Civil Defense director Norma Talosig. Out of 15,885 houses that were damaged by Vinta, Antonio said 2,315 were completely destroyed. “The province of Cagayan suffered huge losses in agriculture, livestock and fisheries and damage to infrastructure,” Antonio said. The PDRRMC gave an initial assessment of P38 million damage to rice, corn and high value crops as well fish cages and fishponds, and P48 million damage to infrastructure in 17 towns. Bonnie Cuarteros of the Cagayan PDRRMC said there are 2,315 totally damaged and 15,855 partially damaged houses in the province. The PDRRMC is requesting P100 million from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to fund the rehabilitation in the province.
On the other hand, most parts of Cagayanâ€™s first and second districts are still without electricity as of yesterday due to toppled electric posts and damaged cable lines. The Cagayan Electric Cooperative (Cagelco) is exerting all efforts to restore power in the province. Cagelco director John Trinidad said a total of 110 electric posts from the stretch of Iguig, Amulung, Alcala and Baggao were toppled by the strong winds of Vinta. He said it would cost the electric cooperative at least P1 million to restore the pylons. Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) regional spokesman Nestor Marallag said among those affected by Vinta are the northern towns of Baggao, Amulung, Alcala, Gattaran, Camalaniugan, Lallo, Gonzaga, Sta. Teresita, Buguey and Sta. Ana. In Tuguegarao City, Claire Callangan from the Office of Mayor Jefferson Soriano said the capital did not sustain damage from the storm except for a few toppled electric posts. She said there is no reported damage to crops since farmers have already harvested. â€“ Evelyn Macairan, Jaime Laude, Raymund Catindig, Charlie Lagasca, Teddy Molina http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/11/03/1252405/wilma-brewing-mindanao
Senate tackles Malampaya mess next By Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 2 29 googleplus0 0
MANILA, Philippines - The Senate Blue Ribbon committee is preparing to investigate alleged irregularities in the use of Malampaya funds as it wraps up its probe into the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam. Committee chairman Teofisto Guingona III said they have gathered enough information to come up with a conclusion on the pork barrel issue even before alleged scam mastermind businesswoman Janet LimNapoles appears before the committee on Nov. 7. “We have a pretty good idea already,” Guingona said when asked for updates on the pork barrel scam probe. But he said they would still like to hear Napoles speak, being the “center stone” in the issue. Guingona said the Blue Ribbon committee probe does not have to be as exhaustive as the investigation being undertaken by the Office of the Ombudsman.
“Once the questions we ask are answered, with the information we get, it is enough. If it were a criminal investigation like the ombudsman, then you have to be very, very thorough,” he said. Guingona said that he would make an evaluation after the appearance of Napoles if there would be any need to continue the hearings by summoning the other players in the scam, such as the chiefs of staff of the senators linked to the controversy. But definitely, he said “the next one on the list would be the Malampaya” issue. It was during a hearing on the pork barrel scam that the alleged embezzling of P900 million in Malampaya funds came to light. The funds were intended to be used for the rehabilitation of areas hit by Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng but instead ended up in the hands of Napoles. Earlier, the National Bureau of Investigation filed plunder and graft complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and 34 others in connection with the pork barrel issue. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/11/03/1252404/senate-tackles-malampaya-mess-next
Aftershocks hit Visayas By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Strong aftershocks have been recorded in Central Visayas over two weeks after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Bohol, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said yesterday. A 5.2 magnitude aftershock was recorded at around 10 p.m. Friday, with its epicenter traced some 34 kilometers northeast of Tagbilaran City. It was felt at Intensity 5 in Talibon, Bohol; Mandaue City and Cebu City. The quake was also felt at Intensity 4 in Tagbilaran City and San Isidro in Bohol; Intensity 3 in Dumaguete City and Intensity 1 in Hibok-Hibok. Two hours later, a 4.3 magnitude aftershock shook Bohol province. The aftershock, which occurred at 12:08 a.m. yesterday, was located 26 kilometers northeast of Tagbilaran City. Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
It was felt at Intensity 5 in Mandaue City; Intensity 2 in Cebu City and Intensity 1 in Lapu-Lapu City, all in Cebu province.
Phivolcs describes an Intensity 5 quake as “strong.” Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development is using its cash-for-work (CFW) program to help the residents of Loon, Bohol rebuild their lives, DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman said yesterday. The municipality of Loon was among the towns most severely affected by the Oct. 15 quake. Soliman said the CFW is a temporary intervention for families during a disaster. It enables the heads of households to earn a living by participating in community work such as clearing roads and canals of debris, helping set up community kitchen and maintaining cleanliness in evacuation centers. The DSWD has released P94,000 for the project. A total of 381 heads of families from Barangays Son-ong, Cabadug, Bas Daku, Cuasi and Tangnan in Loon helped install the tents given by the DSWD for the quake victims. Those who set up the tents were given P200 per day. “By giving affected families a source of income while recovering from the impact of the disaster, they regain dignity and self-esteem,” Soliman said. MVP Group launches fund-raising campaign The MVP Group, together with the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation, has launched a fund-raising campaign to help in the recovery of Bohol, Cebu and Zamboanga. The campaign, dubbed as Brick by Brick, gathers donations from Filipinos and donors around the globe to help respond to the recent disasters that have devastated the Philippines, such as the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Bohol and Cebu and the hostilities in Zamboanga. Group head Manuel V. Pangilinan said the campaign is an innovative way to raise funds to help rebuild the cities. “It is our hope that companies and foundations from every sector of the country and the world will join this fund-raising effort,” Pangilinan said. Donations have reached around P7.6 million following the launch on Oct. 25. Companies in the MVP Group involved in the effort are PLDT, Smart, Metro Pacific, First Pacific, Manila Electric Co., Philex Mining Corp., Maynilad, Metro Pacific Tollways Group, Makati Medical Center and TV5.
To jumpstart the campaign, PLDT employees donated P1.5 million while PLDT Smart Foundation and One Meralco Foundation each pledged P1 million. The First Pacific Group in Hong Kong also contributed $20,000. Metro Pacific Foundation allocated P1 million while the Metro Pacific Tollways Group will give P500,000. Philex has donated P300,000. The campaign, implemented through the www.pdrf.org website, will end on Dec. 5. The Land Bank of the Philippines also donated P1 million and agreed to accept dollar and peso donations for the campaign. All funds raised will be turned over to various groups such as Gawad Kalinga, Caritas and local government units. Other partners in the campaign include Western Union, the Commission for Overseas Filipinos, National Federation of Filipino-American Associations and the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce in New York. – With Iris Gonzales http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/11/03/1252402/aftershocks‐hit‐visayas
CCTV system in businesses, state offices pushed By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Two Mindanao congressmen are proposing the installation of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in all business establishments and government offices throughout the country. Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and his brother Maximo, representative of the partylist group Abante Mindanao, made the proposal in Bill 2449 titled “CCTV Act of 2013.” The authors said the presence of CCTV cameras would not only prevent crimes but would help the police solve crimes. In the case of state offices, CCTV could deter and solve corruption, they said. “One way to lower the crime rate is to provide deterrents, which would make criminals think twice and reconsider. One very effective form of deterrent is the installation of CCTV cameras,” they said. The Rodriguez brothers noted that physical assault and theft are among the crimes caught on CCTVs of certain local government units in Metro Manila. “It is high time that CCTV cameras become a mandatory requirement for different establishments and government offices all over the country,” they said. Bill 2449 provides that business establishments like restaurants, hospitals, malls, shopping centers, movie houses, supermarkets, groceries, entertainment centers, office buildings, and warehouses be required to install CCTV cameras before they are issued business permits. The business establishment must be employing more than 20 workers and with work premises of not less than 50 square meters. The cameras would be installed in all entrances and exits and in strategic places within the establishment or work area. Also covered are government offices and buildings. The covered establishments and offices would be required to turn on their CCTV 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They should keep their video recordings in a safe place for a period of not less than 60 days from the date of recording. The bill provides that the establishment or government office should inform the public of the presence of CCTV cameras in their premises through a written notice displayed at the entrance of the establishment. It prohibits the installation of CCTV cameras in any restroom, toilet, shower, bathroom or changing room, and other similar areas. Covered establishments and offices are to maintain the confidentiality of their video recordings. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/11/03/1252410/cctv‐system‐businesses‐state‐offices‐pushed
Pangasinan bags top LGU plum By Eva Visperas (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
LINGAYEN, Philippines – Pangasinan has been awarded as the best local government unit in the fight against professional squatters and squatting syndicates. Alvin Bigay, Pangasinan housing and urban development coordinating officer who received the award from Vice President Jejomar Binay last Oct. 25 at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City, yesterday said the award is a result of the provincial government’s effective programs in support of Republic Act No. 7279 or the Special Laws on Anti-Squatting. The awarding ceremony coincided with the National Shelter Month celebration held every October and served as the highlight of the 2013 Housing Fair festivities. Aside from a plaque of recognition, Pangasinan also received a cash prize of P100,000. Bigay said since the start of Gov. Amado Espino Jr.’s term in 2007, the provincial government has established innovative steps to address the perennial problem on illegal settlers. Bigay added that the provincial government has a long-term plan to provide more livable communities for informal settlers residing in danger areas such as shorelines, riverbanks and waterways. Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
Based on the province’s records, there are at least 19,000 illegal settlers in Pangasinan. Meanwhile, statistics showed that in a 2005 to 2010 survey, Pangasinan posted a housing need of 89,277 units. The provincial government has established various relocation sites, among them the Lingayen Gulf Resettlement Project in Pangapisan Norte, Lingayen; Aplaya West Resettlement Project and Natividad Resettlement Project. Bigay said the leaders of the various municipalities in the province are fully supportive of the housing projects for a slum-free Pangasinan. Thirty-three out of 44 towns and four cities in Pangasinan have crafted their local shelter plan, said to be the highest compliance in Northern Luzon. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/11/03/1252415/pangasinan‐bags‐top‐lgu‐plum
House retains Noy’s power over savings in 2014 budget By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0
MANILA, Philippines - The House of Representatives has retained President Aquino’s power over savings in the proposed P2.268-trillion 2014 national budget. “We have kept the President’s power to realign savings in the executive branch. Like previous appropriation laws, the proposed budget for next year authorizes the President to augment appropriations within his department from savings,” Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said yesterday. Evardone, an appropriations committee vice chairman, said the heads of the judicial and legislative departments as well as constitutional offices enjoying fiscal authority exercise the same power over savings in their respective branches of government. “We cannot take that away from them, especially the President. He is our omnipresent steward, the prime pusher of growth, the chief responder to crises. He should be vested with budgetary flexibility. We should not cripple the presidency,” he said. He cited Section 65 of the proposed 2014 budget law, which provides: “The President of the Philippines, the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the heads of Constitutional Commissions enjoying fiscal autonomy, and the Ombudsman are hereby authorized to use savings in their respective appropriations to augment actual deficiencies incurred for the current year in any item in their respective appropriations.” Evardone said this provision has been a feature of annual budget laws for many years. Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
He said he could not understand why there is now controversy over Aquino’s use of savings realized within the executive branch. He said the only explanation for this is that administration critics who have been linked to the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam are really muddling the issue. The controversy over the use of savings started with the revelation that Malacañang had given additional funds to scores of agencies and lawmakers under the so-called disbursement acceleration program (DAP). There are petitions pending in the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of DAP.
Some of the petitioners concede that while Aquino indeed has the power to realign savings under the budget law, projects to which funds were diverted under DAP are not specified in the national budget, contrary to what the law requires. On Friday, a Palace spokesperson said Aquino would insist on his power to realign savings. “I’m not quite sure what kind of action they’re calling for because that would require a constitutional amendment,” deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte said, referring to calls for the clipping of the President’s fiscal powers. She said Aquino is ever mindful of how taxpayers’ money is spent, and has put measures in place “that would limit his own powers over funds that are controlled by the executive.” “Even when it comes to the President’s Social Fund, the President did already implement several reform measures by way of limiting the uses, or at least the purposes, that can be funded out of the PSF,” she said. Evardone said as far as he knew, DAP does not exist as an item of appropriation in the national budget. “DAP is a label the Department of Budget and Management has attached to savings that have been used to stimulate economic activity. The President is authorized to realign those funds, however they are described,” he said. The House has also retained in the proposed 2014 budget certain lump sums Aquino could use for specific purposes. These include the P7.5-billion calamity fund, P1-billion contingent fund, P4.8-billion international commitments fund, and P400-million feasibility studies fund. There are other lump sums called special purpose funds, including allocations to local government units, which amount to P361.3 billion; pension and gratuity fund, P120.5 billion; miscellaneous personnel benefits fund, P80.7 billion; and e-government fund, P2.5 billion. Administration critics have lumped all these funds together, calling them Aquino’s pork barrel. Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, who chairs the House appropriations committee, said these funds could not be considered presidential pork barrel. “As their names or descriptions suggest, these funds are appropriated for specific expenditures. They cannot be used for other purposes. It is unfair to suggest that the President would treat them as his pork barrel,” he said. “How can money going to local government units, retirees’ pension and gratuity, miscellaneous personnel benefits, international commitments, e-government projects, and feasibility studies be considered presidential pork?” http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/11/03/1252417/house-retains-noys-power-over-savings2014-budget
Manual voting, counting in future elections proposed By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - After the use of manual voting in the just concluded barangay polls, former Manila mayor and now Rep. Lito Atienza of the party-list group Buhay is proposing that voting and vote counting in future national elections be done manually at the precinct level. However, Atienza wants the transmission of votes to the municipal, city and provincial levels, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the case of senatorial votes and Congress in the case of presidential votes, be done electronically like in last May’s combined congressional-local polls. He said the Automated Election Law should be amended to provide for a combination of manual and computerized election processes. “The recently concluded barangay elections were generally peaceful and orderly, with the results known within at least five hours from the closing of the polls, and this was done using manual canvassing,” he said last Friday. “In the past two elections using the automated election system via the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, we witnessed how tedious and time-consuming the whole voting process became. No one saw how the votes were canvassed. This lack of transparency – where voters are effectively asked to put implicit trust in the machine that can be tampered with – erodes confidence in a fully automated system,” Atienza said. He pointed out that under a combined manual-automated process, the community “can witness and see the counting accuracy at the precinct level.” Atienza conceded that manual voting and counting at the precinct level would take longer and “may entail more work” than the automated system, under which ballots are fed into the PCOS and the votes are automatically counted, tabulated and then transmitted to canvassing centers. “The tradeoff is that watchers can personally see that each vote is counted. In the case of the PCOS, once your ballot is fed into the machine, you have no way of knowing if your vote was indeed read properly and counted. You are at the mercy of the machine and the programmers,” he said. “With the current electronic system of voting using the PCOS machines, we have no way of knowing whether our votes were indeed counted, especially after the Comelec did away with several safety features. Instead of ensuring an efficient and credible elections, the automated system has in fact made wholesale cheating even easier,” he said. According to the Comelec, the automated balloting system is an accurate way of conducting election and counting votes. Even the random vote count audit conducted by the Parish-Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting showed that the system is almost 100 percent accurate. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/11/03/1252421/manual-voting-counting-futureelections-proposed
House to probe erring cigarette companies by Ron B. Lopez November 3, 2013
The House Committee on Ways and Means will conduct its own investigation into reports that some “unscrupulous entities” in cigarette industry have misdeclared their volume of tobacco, cigarette withdrawals or importations which had resulted in “grossly incorrect” excise taxes paid to the government. The inquiry aims to answer how certain cigarette brands can be sold at low prices despite the tax increases, and whether the government is maximizing its tax revenues despite the reports of massive down-trading from high-priced to low-priced brands, Assistant Majority Leader Rep. Paolo S. Javier said. “There is a need to review the consequences and implications of the recent excise tax increases in view of current market conditions and the proper implementation of Republic Act 10351, otherwise known as An Restructuring the Excise Tax on Alcohol and Tobacco Products of 2012,” the representative from Antique said. This came amid investigations of other government agencies such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs (BOC) into cigarette companies, including the Mighty Corp., for under-declaring its volumes of tobacco. Last week, Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles of Davao City in a House Committee meeting called the attention of the BIR and BOC about a news report that one company imported seven million kilos of tobacco but paid only $4.786 million. It was much the taxes paid by another company that imported one million kilos of tobacco for $4.9 million. Customs Commission Ruffy Biazon said he assumes the company in question is Mighty Corp. because the BOC had information previously from other cigarette manufacturers on issues similarly raised in the reports. http://www.mb.com.ph/house-to-probe-erring-cigarette-companies/
Trust fund for orphans pushed by Ron B. Lopez November 3, 2013 (updated)
Lawmakers are pushing for the creation of a government-funded special trust fund for orphaned minors staying in orphanages or child-caring institutions. The House Bill 2798, authored by Reps. Diosdado Macapagal Arroyo of Camarines Sur and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of Pampanga, aims to protect orphaned minors from any form of neglect and abuse and support them until they reach legal age. Under the bill, an orphaned minor’s trust fund account shall be opened in the name of the orphan under a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to be administered by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Each covered orphan will be entitled to the quarterly deposit in his trust fund for the entire duration that he or she was in an orphanage or a child-caring institution, until the orphan reaches the age of 18, Diosdado Arroyo said. If passed into law, the DSWD shall deposit the sum of P10,000 quarterly in every trust fund account, unless terminated by the DSWD due to the death or ineligibility of the recipient orphan. It also tasked the DSWD, together with other government agencies responsible for the welfare and development of children and the youth, to come up with a monitoring system to address the needs of orphaned minors. “The orphaned minors have suffered enough due to the death of their parents, or the stigma of being abandoned by their own family,” he said. The bill will cover all orphaned minors under the care of the DSWD, public orphanages, DSWDaccredited private orphanages and other child caring institutions. http://www.mb.com.ph/trust-fund-for-orphans-pushed/
House to clip PNoy powers ‘Clone’ Of President Aquino’s Budget Impoundment Bill Being Considered by Charissa Luci November 3, 2013
Manila, Philippines – The House of Representatives is moving to clip the powers of President Benigno S. Aquino III. Yesterday, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. expressed optimism that a bill that aims to trim the fiscal powers of the President can be prioritized and passed into law. “Yes, the proposed measure has a chance in this Congress,” Belmonte said in an interview. The move came in the wake of Malacañang’s persistent rejection of calls to moderate the powers of President Aquino to impound funds in the General Appropriations Act (GAA). Belmonte expressed the Lower Chamber’s readiness to scrutinize the proposal, which was filed by Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, the leader of the House’s independent bloc. “We will study the bill. Maybe, we could have a draft version,” the Speaker said. Romualdez’s group filed recently House Bill 2904 or the proposed Budget Impoundment Control Act that seeks to stamp out graft and corruption in the use of the national budget. HB 2904 provides that whenever the President determines that all or part of any budget appropriation will not be required to carry out the full objectives or scope of programs for which it is provided, or the appropriation should be rescinded for fiscal policy or other reasons, the Chief Executive shall transmit to both houses of Congress a special message. This measure is similar to the bill filed by Aquino in the 14th Congress when he was still a senator. Romualdez said he is counting on the support of President Aquino, having been the author of a similar measure, to hasten passage of the bill. He recalled that then Sen. Aquino filed Senate Bill 3121 calling for an increased congressional oversight and limited executive influence over specific appropriations in the GAA. I believe there is a compelling reason for the President to support the measure as it is similar to the one he filed when he was a senator. This measure should be pursued, Romualdez said. In the Upper Chamber, Senators Teofisto Guingona III and Miriam Defensor Santiago filed a similar version of the bill, which considers as grave betrayal of public trust and a ground for impeachment the failure of the President to ask Congress’ approval before impounding any funds. http://www.mb.com.ph/house-to-clip-pnoy-powers/
NCotabato farmers see more income with new farm‐to‐market road By John Unson (philstar.com) | Updated November 2, 2013 ‐ 4:01pm
NORTH COTABATO - Eladio, a 57-year-old corn farmer, is confident his income will increase in the next cropping season now that the 2.5 kilometer farm-to-market road connecting their village to the town proper of Arakan had been fully concreted. Eladio is just one of more than a thousand farmers that now benefit from the cemented thoroughfare, which straddles through farming enclaves in Barangay Dallag, a component district of Arakan municipality in the province. Another corn farmer, Vicente, 36, said the road project, bankrolled by the office of North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Talino-Mendoza, will enable them to deliver their products to buyers at the town proper even during rainy days. “And we can also use one lane of the road as a dryer facility, where we can spread our corn grains to be dried before selling to the market,” Vicente said in Cebuano dialect. Transporting farm products via the same route prior to its having been concreted was so cumbersome for farmers, according to local officials. “During the rainy days, farmers cannot transport their harvests to the markets because of the poor road condition. The products they harvest from their farms just rot in their houses,” said Arakan Mayor Rene Rubino. Nation ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
Mendoza led local officials in inaugurating the road last Wednesday. The road straddles through Sitio Napanlahan in Barangay Dallag, where vast tracts of lands are planted with rubber trees, bananas, and other high-value orchard trees. “This is a dream-come-true,” said Rubino, referring to the Dallag-Poblacion Arakan artery. Mendoza said the project was funded out of a special grant the provincial government received along with the 2013 Seal of Good Housekeeping Award from the central office of the Department of Interior and Local Government. Rubino, in a message during the launching of the road project, said he is confident Mendoza’s office can finish by 2016 the concreting of the roads connecting the town center of Arakan to Barangays Meocan and Santo Nino in the west of the municipality. http://www.philstar.com/nation/2013/11/02/1252277/ncotabato-farmers-see-more-income-newfarm-market-road
'Salesmen' rob agri supply store in North Cotabato By John Unson (philstar.com) | Updated November 2, 2013 ‐ 1:20pm
NORTH COTABATO - Two men neatly dressed and wearing gold watches robbed an agricultural supply store in M'lang town of P500,000 worth of cash in a daring heist, police said Saturday. Chief Inspector Rolando Dillera, chief of the M'lang municipal police, said the suspects smartly introduced themselves as “sales representatives” of a multinational manufacturer of agricultural farm inputs to workers of a store owned by a local merchant named Mac-Mac Win before they pulled out their guns and declared a holdup. Dillera said the tellers of the establishment did not have any hint that the two men were robbers since they both seemed sensible when they spoke about the agricultural supplies they offered to sell. The suspects managed to divest the store’s cashier of P500,000 cash, which were supposed to be deposited to the local bank. Dillera said the suspects casually walked away from the scene and disappeared. http://www.philstar.com/nation/2013/11/02/1252269/salesmen-rob-agri-supply-store-northcotabato
Inflation seen higher in October By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2013 - 12:00am googleplus
MANILA, Philippines - Inflation is expected to have risen in October as food prices climbed due to the onslaught of Typhoon Santi, UK-based Barclays said. In its latest Emerging Markets Weekly report, the bank said inflation could have settled at 3.1 percent last month, up from 2.7 percent in September and the four-year low of 2.1 percent in August. Barclays said inflation is seen to rise on higher food costs as rice and vegetable prices rose on account of a typhoon, adding â€œwith growth strong, we also expect service sector prices to continue to grind higher.â€? Santi battered northern and central Luzon early October, destroying crops and agricultural infrastructure in the process. Damage to agriculture has already amounted to P3.172 billion, while damage to other infrastructure summed up to P114.473 million.
The calamity also killed 15 individuals and displaced about 14,684 families, according to a National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council report. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 But the bank noted “Meralco (Manila Electric Co.) adjusted electricity prices lower on account of cheaper hydro-electricity during the rainy season which should provide some offset.” Meralco has earlier announced a 54-centavo per kilowatthour (kwh) rate reduction for October due to lower generation charges. Barclays’ assumption is within the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ forecast range of 2.8 - 3.6 percent for October. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/11/03/1252357/inflation‐seen‐higher‐october
BSP to complete review of ATM fees by yearend By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) expects to complete its review of automated teller machine (ATM) fees by yearend, a senior official said. “At least before the yearends, we should have a clear game plan on how we should proceed,” BSP Deputy Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. said. The BSP blocked banks’ planned increase in ATM fees last September as it said it will first conduct a study to see if such are reasonable. Espenilla said the central bank since then has been consulting with banks and the switches that provide the networks such as MegaLink, BancNet and ExpressNet. “We’re trying to understand what are the concerns then at the right time, we’ll come up with something... We have to be patient with these kind of reforms,” he pointed out. The BSP conducted the study to balance the interests of the banks and the consumers. The central bank understands banks have to recover their costs on putting up and maintaining their ATMs, while also considering if an ATM fee hike is reasonable for the consumers. Espenilla said the BSP is looking at promoting cooperation between the switches that provide the infrastructure for the ATM networks to cut costs. “They have their own policies so we have to see how those can be harmonized,” Espenilla said. “One way to actually create a win-win situation is to promote sharing and cooperation in the use of the infrastructure,” he added.
Aside from switches, banks also incur additional costs for putting up additional ATM units in order to expand their reach to their customers. Therefore, the BSP is looking at striking a balance between the operators and the consumers in its conduct of the study. “You have to balance the equation... there are expenses for running an ATM and they have to be paid for servicing cash withdrawals,” Espenilla recounted. He noted an ATM unit will need electricity, security, and even disaster recovery measures, among others. “We have to recognize that. Otherwise, if we don’t get the pricing right... the ATMs may become poorly maintained,” Espenilla said. Charges when withdrawing on other banks’ ATM units vary from P10 to P15 per transaction. Other fees are applied for balance inquiry. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/11/03/1252364/bsp‐complete‐review‐atm‐fees‐yearend
How to collect without using a lawyer (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2013 - 12:00am 0 5 googleplus0 2 MANILA, Philippines - Collecting money from abusive debtors has been made easier. You can present and argue your case in court with no lawyer required. You can have a speedy trial with your case heard and resolved in one day with the judge’s final, executor, and non-appealable decision. The Center for Global Best Practices is launching a pioneering seminar titled, “Best practices guide in using the Small Claims Court: How to collect debt without using a lawyer” on Dec. 12 at the Edsa Shangri-La Hotel, Mandaluyong City, Philippines. The establishment of the Small Claims Court has made settlement of collection cases become more convenient, less complicated and generally hassle-free. When you need to collect less than P100,000 against non-paying debtors, all you have to do is to file your cases in the small claims court. Yes, you can easily do it yourself. No lawyers needed. No costly litigation expenses, no delays with speedy resolutions of your collection cases. For more details on this and other upcoming learning events including How To Prevent, Prosecute and Collect Checks, log on to www.cgbp.org or call program leader, Lara Magnait at (02) 556-8968 / 69; (02) 842-7148 / 59; Cebu lines (032) 512-3106 / 07; Baguio line (074) 4235148 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Those interested to join may avail of the early bird discounts available until Nov 12 and group discounts for attendees of 3 or more. Pre-registration is required in this limited-seats-only event. This special program will feature Christian G. Villasis. He is the chairman on the Committee of Experts in Remedial Law of the University of the Philippines Law Center for 2012 and 2013. He is a recipient of the Justice Arsenio Dizon Memorial Award in Remedial Law. He is a partner at the Millar Villasis Pangilinan Law Offices. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/11/03/1252374/how‐collect‐without‐using‐lawyer
Laguna Lake faces decay (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2013 - 12:00am
A fishpen operator pulls his catch along a shallow part of Laguna Lake. MANILA, Philippines - Mirroring national trends of steady resource degradation, the Laguna Lake region, home to the nation’s economic hub, now faces a staggering ecological deficit, with its population demanding natural resources at a rate 30 times faster than what the region can renewably supply, according to a new report on the resource demand and supply of the region The Restoring Balance in Laguna Lake Region: 2013 Ecological Footprint Report has been published with the support of the Australian government through its aid program, in collaboration with the Philippines Climate Change Commission, Laguna Lake Development Authority, Metro 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,” said Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, Bill Tweddell. The widening gap between Laguna Lake region’s supply of and demand on ecological resources has serious national implications, according to the report. Today, the region contributes more than 60 percent of the Philippines’ gross domestic product. Laguna Lake region’s ecological deficit poses economic risks that can have a ripple effect across the nation.
The Laguna Lake region not only encompasses the nation’s economic capital, Metro Manila, but also the provinces and municipalities most vulnerable to climate change and resource degradation. According to the report’s findings, Metro Manila’s resource demands alone compose 65 percent of Laguna Lake region’s total ecological footprint. Laguna Lake region’s per capita ecological footprint is higher than the national Philippine average. The region maintains its ecological deficit by drawing down its own resource stocks of fish, timber and other resources; emitting ever more CO2 from fossil-fuel burning into the atmosphere; and consuming imported resources such as food, fiber and forest products. As Laguna Lake region depletes its local resource base, it exposes itself to price volatility and supply disruption due to its dependence on other regions’ and nations’ resources. The Philippine government is working to address these challenges. Through the leadership of the Climate Change Commission in 2012, the Philippines became the Southeast Asian country to collaborate with Global Footprint Network and adopt the Ecological Footprint. Phase I of the collaboration, documented in 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; a workshop to discuss incorporations resource limits in policymaking; and technical training to build-in-country capacity so that the Philippine government can continue to track, manage and benchmark its biocapacity and ecological footprint at municipal, sub-regional, and national scales. “The Climate Change Commission strongly recognizes the 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. The commitment towards climate resilience and sustainable development can only be pursued if we continue to incorporate ecological footprint accounting and resource limits into public discourse and policy-making in perpetuity,” asserted Commissioner Naderev Saño of the Climate Change Commission. The Ecological Footprint approach aims to provide government leaders with the tools they need to better manage the country’s resources. By the conclusion of Phase II, local government officials will have a clear framework to evaluate current practice and planned initiatives in order to maintain ecological, social and ecological balance in the key Laguna Lake and Metro Manila regions. “As it strives to live within the means of nature, the Philippine government is forging an innovative path for other countries to follow,” said Mathis Wackernagel, president of Global Footprint Network and co-creator of the Ecological Footprint. http://www.philstar.com/agriculture/2013/11/03/1252332/laguna‐lake‐faces‐decay
MVP Group spearheads Lingayen coastal cleanup (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2013 - 12:00am
Beach huts fronting Lingayen Gulf. MANILA, Philippines - One of the country’s richest bodies of water, Lingayen Gulf is spread across the vast expanse of Pangasinan and La Union provinces. This biodiversity-rich sea, where the mighty Agno River empties, is a major source of aquatic resources in northern Luzon. It takes pride in its checkered history spanning centuries, being once the domain of the legendary pre-Spanish amazon Princesa Urduja, a refuge to Chinese pirate Lim Ah Hong, and the landing site of Japanese Imperial Army in December 1941. In 1945, a massive force of 68,000 Allied troops landed to start the liberation of Luzon. History continues to unfold in Lingayen Gulf with another kind of battle – the war against environmental degradation with Shore It Up (SIU), the country’s biggest corporate-backed coastal cleanup program.
Incepted in 2009 after †yphoon Ondoy, SIU is spearheaded by Metro Pacific Investment Foundation (MPIF), and volunteer divers from the MVP Group of Companies to help rescue, restore and revive the country’s fragile coastal and marine ecosystems. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 MPIF is the social responsibility arm of conglomerate Metro Pacific Investment Corp. (MPIC) of businessman Manny V. Pangilinan. This undertaking is the firm’s way of paying back to the community by responding to the country’s environmental concerns. And just like in the olden days, this 56-kilometer stretch of sea was witness to another massive mobilization of people involving 22,500 volunteers spread across 114 coastal barangays in Pangasinan’s coastal areas. The municipalities of Sual, Labrador, Lingayen, Agno, Dasol, Binmaley, Bani, Bolinao, Burgos, Infanta, Anda, San Fabian, and the City of Dagupan took part in the recent coastal cleanup. Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino Jr. formed the Provincial Task Force Save Lingayen GulfShore It Up (SLING) in the conduct of the project. The cleanup involved more than a hundred recreational divers from MPIC firms to rearrange the giant taklobo (clams) at the Hundred Islands Natural Park (HINP) in Alaminos City. The group also planted 650 mangroves at the Bued mangrove forest along with city and barangay officials. Bued is a multi-awarded LGU environment project which has bagged citations from the provincial government, the Regional Development Council, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. To ensure continuity, the MPIF has partnered with the local governments to create synergy and ensure sustainability of the environmental initiatives. Joining the battle to protect Mother Earth were the Junior Environmental Scouts (JES), involving some 200 public elementary school students in Lingayen. For the past five years, the JES has been an integral part of the SIU and has reached over 1,000 children with environmental lectures through creative visual art activities. Because of its novel and comprehensive concept, SIU has been awarded by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines with the Anvil Award of Merit for sustained environmental program in 2011 and 2012. It was also given the Best CSR in the Corporate Governance Asia Award and the Silver Award of Excellence in the 5th Global CSR Award, both in 2012. http://www.philstar.com/agriculture/2013/11/03/1252334/mvp‐group‐spearheads‐lingayen‐coastal‐ cleanup
Drilon blew his chance — Lacson By Ernie Reyes (InterAksyon.com) | Posted on November 03, 2013 at 12:02am | 4,487 views The Senate had a singular opportunity to bury pork barrel and its evils over a decade ago, but then Senate President Franklin Drilon quickly adjourned a crucial session without allowing further debate that would have put on record and put to a vote a motion by Sen. Panfilo Lacson to totally scrap it.Lacson himself shared his recollection of that crucial session in a speech before the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), one of the petitioners asking the Supreme Court to strike down as unconstitutional the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), a little known form of pork barrel that allows the Executive branch to play around with billions of pesos tagged “savings” but are actually the unreleased appropriations for projects that were not pursued. The savings are then realigned by the Executive to other projects beyond the pale of lawmakers, thus subverting the constitutional mandate of the legislature to oversee the public purse, contend the petitioners. Lacson said he could still remember when he felt rebuffed by his colleagues when he delivered a scathing privilege speech against the pork barrel system in 2003. “As soon as I finished my speech with the usual, ‘Thank you, Mr. Senate President, I now yield the floor for interpellations ?’ what I heard was the banging of the gavel by the presiding officer, then Senate President Franklin Drilon, followed by a curt, ‘Session suspended.” “I thought I would have a momentary breathing spell to review my notes as I returned to my seat. Not a minute longer, the Senate President declared the resumption of session. As I walked towards the podium, I heard another banging of the gavel followed by a loud, “Session adjourned’!” narrated the former senator. “That was it. No interpellations or debate, no referral to any senate committee, and therefore, no resolution to the arguments that I posited in that privilege speech. From that time on, I started to believe—democracy is not always right. The ‘rule of the majority’ principle is not always a principled phraseology,” he said.
Giving incentives to solons not new In his speech, Lacson said that allocating extra pork barrel sums to lawmakers, ostensibly sourced from “savings,” to make them do the Palace’s bidding—in this case, P300-M on top of P200-M annual pork barrel to senators—is not a new practice. It was done during the administration of former President, now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo in 2006. Appreciating this context, Lacson said now the public could understand why not availing of any Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or the so-called pork barrel was the right thing to do for him. “Indeed, God works in many mysterious ways,” he said. He recalled that golden chance that eluded the Senate to rid itself of the evil that in recent months has exploded in its face: Senate President Franklin Drilon and former Senator Manny Villar shared the Senate leadership, where the former ended his term in the first half of 2006 and the latter, on the second half until 2007. Lacson said he felt vindicated over his decision not to avail himself of any pork barrel allocation during his stint as a lawmaker. Apart from Lacson, former Senator Joker Arroyo also declined accepting their P200-million annual pork barrel allotment. “The pork barrel system is ugly, more often than not, cruel, sometimes merciless towards the people we all swore to serve and protect when we took our oath of office,” Lacson said. “I learned of it with my own eyes and with my own ears. I’ve known about it firsthand. I participated and objected to it in caucuses and during plenary debates on the Senate floor, even in bicameral conferences,” Lacson said. He recalled that in 2006, senators were called to a caucus to decide on what to do with the more than P38-billion in Special Purpose Funds (SPF), or lump sum funds at the time of President Arroyo. At that time, he said, he agreed to a suggestion to slash a substantial portion of that fund. Though the idea was good, somebody also sought to re-allocate the deducted amount to the pork barrel of legislators with P300-million each in addition to the regular P200-million pork barrel of senators. According to Lacson, he loudly objected to it but without his knowledge, the senators held a second caucus on the same subject.
One Thursday afternoon of the same year, Lacson said he learned of an additional P200-million additional pork barrel from the realigned SPF. “While our small eating club composed of a few opposition politicians, businessmen, political analysts and advertising people [was gathered], then Congressman Alan Peter Cayetano requested thru former political adviser to President Erap (Estrada), Lito Banayo, that I allocate P50-million to Taguig out of our additional P200M from the realigned special purpose funds,” he said. “Apparently, Congressman Alan got wind of the information from his ate [elder sister], Sen Pia Cayetano,” Lacson said. Thus it was that he got wind of that crucial “secret” of his colleagues: from the P300M that was not approved because of his objection, they had, apparently out of shame, cut it down to P200M and approved it in a second caucus that he was not informed of. Lacson said he lost no time confronting the finance committee chairman and the Senate president at that time and “threatened them that I would go to town on that issue and would not stop interpellating on the Senate floor all the way to the period of amendments until the P4.6billion in additional PDAF of 23 senators disappears from the proposed GAA.” He went on: “A few more intervening events transpired afterwards, but to make the long story short, the P200M additional pork for each of the 23 senators did not materialize. Needless to say, I was the bad, kill-joy, corny kontrabida,” he added. ‘Hundred more stories on pork’ According to Lacson, there a “hundred more stories of similar nature,” done collectively and individually to fatten individual pork barrel allocations, from the committee hearings to the period of amendments all the way to the bicameral conferences—“P200-million minimum for senators and P70-million for congressmen.” The smarter ones, he said, manage to wangle as early as during the committee hearings held to tackle the budgets of departments and agencies; likewise during plenary debates when questions are addressed by individual legislators to heads of the different agencies thru the budget sponsors. By Ernie Reyes
‘Vinta’ destroys P49m By Francisco Tuyay | Posted on November 03, 2013 at 12:02am | 93 views Areas in Cagayan, Apayao and Ilocos Norte hit by power outage and communications signal problem because of typhoon “Vinta” were going back to normal, according to disaster officials. Vinta damaged P49 million worth of crops and property, uprooted 15, 885 houses and displaced 153,000 people. At least one died and three others went missing at the height of typhoon Vinta on Thursday. As the weather improved Saturday, all evacuation centers have been close, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said. At least 1, 794 evacuees opted to stay with their relatives but continued to receive relief goods, she said. Also on Saturday, the National Risk Reduction and Management Council said the Cagayan Electric Cooperative II assured its consumers torestore electricity in all the affected areas in the next few hours. Vinta uprooted trees that rendered major and secondary roads not passable as it battered Northern Luzon. In Laoag City alone, 70% of electricity was restored. In Apayao, power was restored in some municipalities except in Calanasan, Flora, Sta. Marcela, Luna, and Pudtol. CAGELCO II was tapped to quickly restore power services in said areas. Cellular phone signal remained unstable in Cagayan, while most parts of Apayao returned to normal. “A total of 229 communication lines were affected and undergoing restoration by the service providers,” the NDRRMC Executive Director Eduardo del Rosario said. Del Rosario said P29,891,964.08 worth of damage to infrastructure (P1,345,000) and agriculture (P28,546,964.08) in Regions 1 and 2. A total of 14,911 houses were damaged in Ilocos Norte, Cagayan and Apayao. Florante Solmerin,
Deadline downplayed By Sara Susanne D. Fabunan | Posted on November 03, 2013 at 12:01am | 1,399 views
Aquino to ‘push for correct things at the correct time’ A Palace official on Saturday downplayed the 100-day ultimatum set for President Benigno Aquino III to scrap all discretionary funds, including his own Disbursement Acceleration Program, an alleged pork barrel in disguise. Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that Mr. Aquino will “push for the correct things at the correct time”. “Well, they have been talking about the 100-day deadline (since the) beginning (of) August 26, if I’m not mistaken. You know, the President and the administration will push for the correct things at the correct time,” Valte said in a radio interview. During Aquino’s recent televised address, he emphasized that the DAP is “not Pork Barrel”. “Let me make it clear: the Disbursement Acceleration Program is not pork barrel… the DAP is not theft. Theft is illegal.” Valte said the Aquino administration will continue to answer all concerns and make the public understand that DAP is not the same as the controversial pork barrel where at least P10-billion was allegedly misused through a fake NGO headed by businesswoman Janet-Lim Napoles. “At confident naman po tayo na mararating naman po natin iyong mga mas marami nating kababayan na—at alam po nila iyong pagkakaiba nung mga napo-propaganda lang or ‘yung mga tunay na nagbibigay naman po ng impormasyon. (We are confident that we can reach out all our constituents [in informing them about the DAP]. And they know the difference between propaganda and those people who are truthfully and correctly informing the public),” Valte said. She added that the Department of Justice, which is headed by Secretary Leila de Lima, will release a third batch of cases that will be filed against politicians who allegedly were involved in the misuse of the pork barrel.
“The instructions of the President would be to make sure, as far as practicable, that these cases that are being filed will stand scrutiny and will stand for a conviction,” Valte said. She also assured the public that the DOJ probe will be “impartial” and that the Ombudsman would review the result of the DOJ’s probe, while adding that the government has enough evidence to convict those who will be charged. On Friday, Malacañang rejected renewed calls to abolish the DAP, as it urged the critics to wait for the Supreme Court ruling on petitions challenging its legality. On the same day, however, anti-pork barrel advocates warned Mr. Aquino against defying the public clamor to scrap all discretionary funds, including his own, or the people would take matter into their own hands. The #ScrapPork Network also set a Dec. 6 deadline for the President to get onboard and “destroy the barrier” that blocks his “straight path.” The date coincides with the 100-day deadline that was imposed by the conveners of the Million People March who organized a massive anti-pork rally at the Luneta Park on Aug. 26 But Valte said that DAP is here to stay unless the SC ruled against it. “As we’ve mentioned, the Disbursement Acceleration Program is nothing but the use of realigned savings for other purposes that have already been laid out in the General Appropriations Act,” she explained. Valte said the Solicitor General will present the government’s side in the oral arguments to be held soon. “It’s best to wait, considering that the court has already moved to consolidate the six different petitions against the constitutionality of the DAP,” she said. Thirty-seven individuals, including Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind, are facing plunder, malversation, and anti-graft and corrupt practices charges before the Office of the Ombudsman after they were accused of conspiring to channel congressional funds to bogus non-government organizations and ghost projects.
Meanwhile, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez welcomed the pronouncement of House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. over proposals in Congress that seek to limit the power of the Chief Executive to impound funds in the General Appropriations Act. Romualdez, the head of the independent minority bloc in the House of Representatives, maintained that his proposed “Budget Impoundment Control Act” would put control over specific appropriations in the General Appropriations Act (GAA), thus ensuring transparency and accountability in the use of public funds. “Since time immemorial, the Executive is exercising powers over the congressmen, and we want to put control on that. We would like to give some transparency (in the use of government funds),” Romualdez said in response to Belmonte’s statement that the proposal has “potential” this 16th Congress. With Maricel V. Cruz http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/11/03/deadline‐downplayed/
Lady baker discovers thriving cake market online By MST Business | Posted on November 03, 2013 at 12:02am | 317 views Ma. Catalina Corazon “Nicoy” Perez has traded her architect’s tool bag for a pastry bag, her rulers for a rolling pin and her draft desk for a kitchen counter.
Catalina Perez After studying architecture at the University of Sto. Tomas, she found fulfillment in designing cakes and other luscious desserts which she now sells online. The venture, which started as a hobby, has proven to be a lucrative home-based business, with the help of the Internet. “It started as hobby. I was baking for family celebrations only. My parents and family often praise cakes and pastries I baked during family occasions,” Perez says. As a young girl, Perez was fascinated by big buildings and house designs. She had a knack for drawing and studied architecture at the University of Santo Tomas in the 1990s. She was still studying, when she tried documentation work for Regional Container Lines until 1997. She dabbled in the business of selling ready-to-wear items, but that did not take off. In 2012, she took up a diploma course in pastry making at the Global Culinary and Hospitality Academy in Ortigas where she also worked as an intern.
She was later absorbed as commis chef or apprentice, supplying desserts and pastry goods to restaurants and food shops at Bonifacio High Street in Taguig City. Even before pursuing a course in baking, Perez in her spare time baked cakes, cookies and other desserts which she gave to friends and relatives during special occasions. Constant requests for her cakes made her decide to try selling them online.
Perez initially invested P30,000 for equipment and ingredients to jump-start the business and created a facebook site (facebook.com/BAKEDbyCatalina) to accept orders. She started receiving orders through email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. “As it is a home-based business, it is less expensive for me to market my products through the use of social media but allows me to interact with my customers,” she says. She realized she had a good business on her hands when orders came pouring in from people inquiring about her products online. She says she decided to pursue the business “when people whom I don’t know would call me to inquire for my products and will call again to inform me how much I made their events special through my cakes and pastries.” Perez says most of her clients are “those people looking for alternative bake shops, those who would like to discover other cakes that are not commercially available.”
Whenever a client orders a product she doesn’t carry, she researches on it to learn about the product for future orders. “I give so much love and
passion to what I do and I make certain my products are exceptional and of the best quality,” she says. Orders came and Perez got busy with two to three events per week. As her clientele grew, she got bulk orders on long weekends and holidays. Now, she requires a lead time of five to seven days to meet the orders and her schedule is nearly fully booked for the Christmas season. Perez says she discovered that running her own business and baking the cakes herself are a lot harder than her job at the commissary. Although she has a team of five helping her, she says their roles in the kitchen are limited to prep work and preheating the oven, while she concentrates on baking and product design.
“Baking requires precision and knowing and using the exact measurements and ingredients so I attend to every product personally,” she says. “There were a lot of challenges such as deliveries, clients’ requests which I am not capable of serving during that time. I overcame them by consistently improving my business knowledge and learning to adjust to different types of customers,” she says. Perez does her baking early in the morning before going to work and again after work before she retires for the night. A part of her commitment to her clients is delivering the cakes personally for meet-ups in the Makati area where she lives, but she makes exceptions to regular customers or “suki”. “Sometimes you have to make an exception and deliver as far as Bulacan if you want to retain your customers,” she says.
Dedication to the business made her forget fears of traveling alone to unfamiliar places. Sometimes, she foregoes making a profit and ends up shelling out more for her gasoline expenses just to deliver the cakes to areas far from where she lives. Perez says she also takes note of customers’ preferences and requests although she suggests particular pastry products befitting an occasion. “I always find time to personally take our customers orders and I always listen to their needs or preferences for their orders. I give them suggestions on what product they should get for their party or events,” she says.
Her product line now includes cakes, cupcakes, cookies, French macarons, brownies, cheesecakes and other desserts. Her bestsellers are the caramel almond cake with chocolate ganache filling and the hummingbird cake with cream cheese frosting sided with walnuts. Her cakes come in two sizes– the 9-by-13 inch rectangular shaped and the 8-inch round cake. She says her Pampango heritage from her mother’s side influenced her to create the cheesy yema cupcakes, which is now a favorite among her clients. “My creations are simple, classic cakes rather than decorative ones. I want my customers to taste each and every component,” Perez says. Her cakes are loaded with ingredients and she constantly researches on how to improve the products and consults a lot of baking and pastry books for reference. When asked about what she does in her spare time, she says she still bakes. “For me, baking is relaxing. I am focused on what I do, in an environment I am comfortable in, and I know the flow of my movements so it’s not work for me,” she says.
Perez says she also jogs and spends time with family and friends in dining out and trying different menus and flavors. This November, she will continue working as a commis chef at an SM Aura bakeshop in Taguig City. Perez, when asked for advice to budding entrepreneurs, cites one quote which she believes best describes what she has done in her life. “Never give up. If you love what you do, you’ll never work for the rest of your life,” she says. Perez has fully embraced her career as a pastry chef. With the full support of her family, she plans to expand her business and serve more people always in search of the best food products in the Internet. “I am looking forward to have a bigger commissary maybe in the next two years,” she says.RTD http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/11/03/lady‐baker‐discovers‐thriving‐cake‐market‐ online/
Breakthrough in hunt for HIV vaccine November 2, 2013 10:10 pm
WASHINGTON: Scientists in the United States (US) seeking to unravel the mysteries of Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have made an important breakthrough after capturing the clearest image yet of a protein which allows the deadly virus to attack human immune cells, new research showed Tuesday. Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and Weill Cornell Medical College have managed to obtain a detailed view of the atomic structure of the protein which envelops HIV, the virus which causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The development could potentially pave the way for a vaccine, according to the findings published in the US journal Science. “In order to develop a vaccine, you have to understand what bits on that very important trimeric protein can be recognized by broadly neutralizing antibodies,” said Scripps Institute cell biologist Bridget Carragher. “And in order to understand that, you need to understand what the structure of the thing looks like. “Then once you do, you can start designing a vaccine that will mimic that thing and elicit an antibody response and get the human being to fight the real virus when it comes along.” Although sophisticated antiviral drugs have been used to manage HIV infections in many developed countries, a vaccine against infection has proved elusive. The failure to find a vaccine is often attributed to the complex nature of HIV’s envelope protein, known as Env. The delicate structure of Env has hampered efforts to obtain the protein in a form that allows for the atomic-resolution imaging necessary to fully understand it. “It tends to fall apart, for example, even when it’s on the surface of the virus, so to study it we have to engineer it to be more stable,” said TSRI biologist Andrew Ward. However the researchers were able to engineer a version of the Env trimer, or threecomponent structure, that has the stability required for atomic-resolution imaging. The scientists were then able to study the Env trimer using cutting-edge imaging and electron microscopy.The use of X-ray crystallography allowed researchers to examine the Env trimer in more detail than previous attempts. The data also shed light on the process by which Env assembles and later shifts shape during infection, and also allowed researchers to make comparisons with protein envelopes from other deadly viruses such as flu and Ebola. AFP http://manilastandardtoday.com/category/business/
‘Tobacco ads target youth’ November 2, 2013 8:50 pm by FRANCIS EARL A. CUETO CORRESPONDENT The Philippines has one of the highest youth smokers in Southeast Asia with 45.8 percent of teenagers aged 13 to 15 hooked on cigarettes, according to a study conducted by the Institute for Global Tobacco Control of John Hopkins School for Public Health. When it comes to the number of adult smokers, the country comes second to Indonesia at 17.3 million. The study covered six low and middle income countries including China, which showed that 2/3 of children ages 5 to 6 can identify at least one tobacco brand. Smoking is the world’s leading cause of preventable death. It is estimated that around 250 million people worldwide will die of smoking and that between 80,000 to 100,000 will get addicted to nicotine every day, the study added. “It is very clear what advertising does to influence children to take up smoking,” Emer Rojas, Global Cancer ambassador and president of NewVois Association of the Philippines, said. “If children see pictures of cancer victims and other graphic images on the harmful effects of smoking, these may discourage them from initiating smoking and at the same time encourage current smokers to quit,” he added. The World Health Organization recommends graphic health warnings and higher taxes on tobacco products as the most efficient means to decrease tobacco consumption and deter would-be smokers from taking up the deadly vice. In the Philippines, the Tobacco Control Act of 2003 prohibits the advertising of cigarettes. Despite the law, posters of tobacco products proliferate in neighborhood stores where children sent on errands or simply buying their candies or biscuits are exposed to such suggestive materials. Aside from posters displayed in sari-sari stores, some retail establishments have their signage made by tobacco companies that also bear the name of their products. These displays, according to Rojas, send a strong signal that influence children to take up smoking at a very early age. In 2010, the Department of Health ordered the placement of picture-based warnings on cigarette packs but this has yet to be implemented as tobacco companies challenged the order in the courts. http://manilatimes.net/tobacco‐ads‐target‐youth/49985/
‘Vinta’ ruins P86M crops, infrastructure in Cagayan November 2, 2013 8:49 pm by LEANDER C. DOMINGO THE province of Cagayan lost at least P86 million worth of crops and infrastructure to the recent onslaught of Typhoon Vinta. The Cagayan provincial climate change and disaster risk reduction and management council (PDRRMC) said more than 100,000 people were affected. Initial assess-ment showed that damages to infrastructure, including roads and bridges, reached P48.6 million. The agriculture sector sustained P38.11 million worth of damages which include rice, corn and fruit crops as well as fishery products. Damaged palay was pegged at P26.9 million. Cagayan Provincial Informa-tion Officer Ophelia Parallag said the amount may increase since they have yet to finish their damage assessment. “Based on our initial assess-ment, it is most likely that the provincial government will declare a state of calamity throughout the province, owing to the extent of damage caused by the typhoon,” Parallag said. Disaster management council officials said the towns of Aparri, Gonzaga, Camalaniugan, Santa Teresita, Santa Ana and Buguey were the hard-hit areas in Cagayan. http://manilatimes.net/vinta‐ruins‐p86m‐crops‐infrastructure‐in‐cagayan/49978/
PNoy brushes off deadline on pork barrel abolition November 2, 2013 1:35 pm President Benigno Aquino 3rd is unfazed of the 100 day deadline that the groups against discretionary funds imposed on him to scrap the pork barrel, the term used by the protesters to describe discretionary funds, a Palace official said Saturday. Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte noted that such deadline has long been floated, and that the Aquino administration is confident of the measures it has taken to make those who abused the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or the legislators’ discretionary fund liable. “The Aquino administration will push for the correct thing in the correct time. The DOJ has already filed cases on these [PDAF and the Malampaya fund], and that is following the process,” Valte said in an interview with Radyo ng Bayan. Valte was referring to the plunder and graft-related cases filed against the 38 people in connection with the P10 billion PDAF scam and the 22 people charged over the P900 million Malampaya fund mess. The P10.9 billion allegedly went to the bogus non-state entities owned by Janet Napoles. “We won’t press charges just for the sake of press releases. The President’s instructions were to make sure that the cases filed are carefully done, would stand scrutiny and stand for conviction,” Valte, a lawyer, argued. “It would be a disservice to our people if we file charges for mileage whih would later be dismissed by the court,” Valte added. The critics of the “pork barrel” wants the President to scrap the discretionary allocation of the lawmakers and the President by December 6. President Aquino, however, is fresh from his primetime speech wherein he underscored that the issue is not about the discretion of the state funding, but those who stole government money. “Hindi ako nagnakaw at hindi ako magnanakaw. Bakit tayo pa ang magpapaliwanag? Hindi tayo pareho (I didn’t steal and I won’t steal. Why should we be made to explain? We are not the same),” the President shot at the P10 billion PDAF scam suspects and those critics calling for the abolition of the all discretionary funds,” the President said. LLANESCA T. PANTI http://manilatimes.net/pnoy‐brushes‐off‐deadline‐on‐pork‐barrel‐abolition/49831/
LAST DAY Published : Sunday, November 03, 2013 00:00 Written by : Efren Montano ON the eve of the November 3 deadline for illegal foreign workers in Saudi Arabia to correct their status, Malacañang assured the desperate Filipinos the government is ready to assist them by giving them temporary shelter while pursuing their legalization and repatriating them if they opt to come home. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said some 4,000 Filipinos had already been repatriated, even as the government continues to assist others with their documents. “Ipagpapatuloy ng ating kasamahan sa embahada ang pag-extend ng assistance sa OFWs doon,” Valte said. Once the November 3 deadline lapses, Saudi authorities will crack down on illegal foreign workers who failed to correct their status as well as those who failed to return home. Aside from continuous repatriation, Valte said the government will provide the OFWs with temporary shelter where they will stay until they are repatriated. Earlier this week, Vice President and presidential adviser on OFW concerns Jejomar Binay asked Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for another extension of the November 3 deadline. In his letter, Binay, said “thousands of Filipinos” are still hoping to correct their employment status at this time. “(D)ue to the large number of Filipino workers seeking correction of their employment status, many of them may not be able to meet the 3 November deadline,” he said. Records from the Department of Foreign Affairs showed that 4,111 Filipinos have been repatriated by the Philippine government. Binay said that 1,716 are still waiting to be brought home. A crackdown by Saudi authorities on illegal workers looms due to the “Saudization” policy or nitaqat, which encourages the employment of Saudi nationals in private firms. King Abdullah initially ordered a three-month reprieve to let illegal migrant workers correct their immigration or labor status in the Kingdom. He eventually extended the deadline to November 3, upon the request of Saudi companies and employers, who reportedly cited the backlog in the processing of documents in certain offices. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/headlines/61099‐last‐day
Jinggoy flies to US Published : Sunday, November 03, 2013 00:00 Written by : Itchie Cabayan IN the wake of recommendations to have his passport cancelled in connection with the plunder charges he is facing, Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada yesterday left for the United States. The senator left at around 11 a.m. via the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). He boarded Cathay Pacific Air flight CX-906 bound for Hong Kong, from where he will reportedly be taking a connecting flight to San Francisco, California, USA. Earlier on, Estrada has confirmed plans to leave for the US with his wife Precy whom he said would undergo checkup for her breast problem. But he said yesterday he will be back to attend the November 17 resumption of Senate sessions. Only last October 24, the Justice department had requested the Department of Foreign Affairs to cancel the passport of Estrada along with Senators Juan Ponce-Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and several others, after all of them were charged before the Office of the Ombusdman in connection with the controversial P10-billion pork barrel scam involving Janet Lim-Napoles. The said senators were accused of channeling millions of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), also known as pork barrel, to bogus non-government organizations being run by Napoles. As of yesterday, Estrada announced having hired the services of former Solicitor-General Estelito Mendoza to question his passport’s possible cancellation. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/61123‐jinggoy‐flies‐to‐us
Solons: Install CCTVs in the country Published : Sunday, November 03, 2013 00:00 TO help solve crimes, two congressmen proposed that the installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras be made a mandatory requirement for business establishments and government offices all over the country. The proposal embodied in House Bill (HB) No. 2449 or the proposed “CCTV Act of 2013” was filed by siblings Reps. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City and Maximo Rodriguez of Abante Mindanao party-list. According to the lawmakers, the installation of CCTV cameras will not only prevent crimes but could also help at solving crimes. Rufus, a lawyer, said one way to lower the high crime data is to install CCTV cameras in establishments. He cited crime data gathered by the Philippine National Police (PNP) showing that from January to November 2011, the PNP recorded 230,817 crime incidents. “While the number is lower compared to previous years like in 2009 when 333,416 crime incidents were reported, the figure is still very high. One way to lower this high crime rate is to provide deterrents, which would make criminals think twice and reconsider. One very effective form of deterrent is the installation of CCTV cameras,” said Rufus. Meanwhile, Maximo said PNP data revealed that for 2011, physical assault and theft were the two largest contributors to the total number of crime incidents. “When you read newspapers, there are many news reports with the following headlines or similar ones: ‘CCTV catches robber mauling woman’; ‘CCTV catches theft inside training center in Manila.’ Even one of the actors of the Phantom of the Opera was victimized by theft which was also captured on CCTV,” said Maximo. He said it is high time that CCTV cameras become a mandatory requirement for different establishments all over the country. Ryan Ponce Pacpaco http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/61127‐solons‐install‐cctvs‐in‐the‐ country
2 typhoon-hit regions get P743K Published : Sunday, November 03, 2013 00:00 THE national government has provided P743,100 worth of relief for Region II and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) as a response to the devastation of Typhoon Vinta in those regions. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan yesterday that the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Operation Center continues to be on red alert status monitoring and coordinating efforts between the national government and the affected local governments. “Tiningnan natin ang mga assets na naka-standby dito para sa pagtulong doon sa mga rehiyon na ito and we have enough to help the local governments that will be needing our assistance,” Valte said. Based on the NDRRMC’s report to the President, at least 70 percent of power supply has been restored in Laoag City as of 7 p.m. yesterday. In the municipalities of Burgos, Bangui, Dumalneg, Pagudpod, Badoc, Nueva Era, Paoay, all in Ilocos Norte, 85 percent of the power supply was restored as of 7 p.m. last night, Valte reported. The Palace official also reported that six roads and three bridges in Region III and CAR were damaged by the typhoon. “Ang importante sa atin ngayon ay ang nai-provide na relief assistance in the amount of P743,100 to the affected families in Regions II and CAR coming from DSWD. Iyong iba naman na nai-report, (iyong mga) nagpunta ng evacuation center sa Gonzaga ay nakabalik na sa kanilang mga tahanan,” she said. Typhoon Vinta exited the country yesterday after hitting the northern part of the Philippines. Efren Montano http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/61124‐2‐typhoon‐hit‐regions‐get‐ p743k