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NTA opens P165‐M center to help tobacco farmers By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 6, 2013 ‐ 12:00am  

  MANILA, Philippines - The National Tobacco Administration (NTA) has opened a P165-million food processing and trading center in Ilocos Sur as part of its alternative income program for tobacco farmers. The 1.5-hectare facility, called the NTA Agri-Pinoy Tobacco Farmers Food Processing and Trading Center, is strategically located along the national highway of Brgy. Nanguneg East in Narvacan town. The food processing center comprises a slaughterhouse with a capacity of 200 heads daily and a chicken dressing plant which has a capacity of 200 heads per hour. To be processed in the plant are well-known meat products such as bagnet, longganisa, bacon, ham, tapa and tocino, which would be directly sold in major trading outlets (bagsakan centers), food terminal, government offices, and hospitals and supermarkets. The Department of Agriculture’s Agribusiness Marketing Assistance Service would assist the NTA in the distribution of processed meats in Ilocos and Metro Manila. NTA administrator Edgardo Zaragoza said that aside from the P165-million allotted for the construction of the food processing facility, another P35 million would be allotted as working capital. The facility is constructed as a component of NTA’s Integrated Farming and Other Income Generating Activities Project, an intervention program that seeks to provide tobacco farmers with additional sources of income outside their regular trade.

“The mandate of the NTA really is to improve the quality of lives of tobacco farmers, tobacco farmers so they will not be dependent on their crop alone,” said NTA planning manager Rex Teoxon. “We have been training them in integrated farming systems which included livestock and poultry raising. To increase their earnings, they need to add value to their products hence the need for the food processing center,” he added. Tobacco is harvested only once a year. The processing center, which would be initially be run by the NTA, would source hogs from farmers in Ilocos Sur, Abra, and the Cordillera Administrative Region. Zaragoza said 7, 693 tobacco farmers in the region have been trained in backyard hog and poultry raising since June and have been grouped into 125 farm clusters. Teoxon said the food processing facility is expected to begin processing of hogs in the second week of the month while it would begin to process poultry in the first quarter of 2014. NTA would source hog and chicken breeder stocks from Universal Robina Corp. because of “good quality of parent stocks and competitive prices.”

More gov’t‐to‐gov’t rice imports feared as Davao cargo kept on hold Philippine Daily Inquirer   2:41 am | Wednesday, November 6th, 2013  

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—A meeting of the highest policy-making body on food supply may yet result in more government-to-government deals to import rice, which would mean more public funds being used for duties instead of projects for the improvement of farm yield, according to a top critic of the government’s food sufficiency program. The meeting of the National Food Authority (NFA) Council, considered to be the highest policymaking body on rice and food supply, comes in the wake of the withholding of several rice shipments in this port that are being checked for import permits, prompting the shipments’ importers to cry foul. The meeting would be the first for the NFA Council following allegations that a government-togovernment deal to import rice from Vietnam had been overpriced by at least P400 million. Lawyer Argee Guevarra, of the militant group Sanlakas and who exposed the overpricing, said another government-to-government deal to import rice may be approved by the council. “The council used to be convened at least once every month, or even more when there are urgent matters that require its attention,” Guevarra said in a statement. “Why is it being convened only now, when alleged anomalies, high rice prices and questions regarding rice supply have been raised since August this year?” he said. “It’s possible that they plan on using these issues to again push for their anomalous G-to-G importation scheme,” he added.

The DA’s rice sufficiency targets had been put into question following the testimony in Congress by Assistant Agriculture Secretary Romeo Recide who said actual yield would be short by at least 500,000 metric tons of the target. “Experts from government, the private sector and the academe all agree that public funds are better spent on agricultural infrastructure, irrigation, and post-harvest facilities,” Guevarra said. In April, the government spent at least P4 billion, not including duties and taxes, to import 205,700 MT of rice from Vietnam.

The NFA Council is chaired by the agriculture secretary while the NFA administrator sits as vice chair. It counts among its members representatives of farmers, Office of the President, Department of Finance, Department of Trade and Industry, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Development Bank of the Philippines, Land Bank of the Philippines and Philippine National Bank. One of its mandates is to determine the amount of rice to be imported in a given year, based on the recommendations of the Department of Agriculture. Filemon Cangrejo, manager of the NFA in Davao, said Presidential Decree No. 4 required the NFA to demand import permits for rice shipments. At least 107 container vans of rice are on hold at the customs area here for lacking import permits. With a report from Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao   Read more:‐govt‐to‐govt‐rice‐imports‐feared‐as‐davao‐ cargo‐kept‐on‐hold#ixzz2jpf9xQk3   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook 

Female lawmaker’s baffling agenda Category: Opinion 05 Nov 2013 Written by Ed Javier / Firebrand

MANY were baffled by a recent statement attributed to a female legislator from a rice-producing province in Region 3 (Central Luzon). She reportedly asked Congress to probe the planting of a genetically modified (GM) variety of rice at a Department of Agriculture (DA)-operated farm in Pili town, Camarines Sur province. This was the same farm reported by the media as having been attacked and razed to the ground by a group of 300 militants claiming to be farmers. Based on the story, the attack was wellplanned, with the militants using bolt cutters to destroy the fences to get into the farm and uproot the crops. What is baffling is what the lawmaker wants investigated is not the vandalism committed by those militants at the government-owned farm, but the GM rice-variety field trials the DA is conducting there. According to the report, the legislator said she wants to verify reports that the rice project is being funded by a private company. She demanded to know the circumstances surrounding the trials, for fear that they would affect the safety of the environment and rice consumers. But here is the funny part. The lawmaker, who was a provincial board member before she was elected as representative, led the passing of a board resolution endorsing GM rice—the very same rice variety that she is questioning now. What made her change her mind so swiftly? Your guess is as good as mine. It is apparent that the legislator based her “new” position on information coming solely from the militants who attacked the DA farm. Consciously or not, she appears to have joined the war against Filipino scientists in this country that was triggered and fueled by international pressure groups, such as Greenpeace. The House representative may not be entirely at fault. Maybe the Filipino science community, which is behind the research on the use of modern biotechnology on food production, is partly to

blame. It may not have been as aggressive as local left-leaning groups that are conducting a sustained attack. But again, the Filipino science community must not be blamed for failing to match the intensity of the assault on biotechnology in the media and in the halls of Congress with their own information campaign. After all, our scientists, who are mostly based in the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, do not have the same financial largesse to spend on public relations (PR), as Greenpeace reportedly has. The PR assault on the GM rice variety appears to be a continuation of the same demolition job against a pest-resistant crop called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). In 2011 a group reportedly led by Greenpeace operatives assaulted and destroyed a trial farm planted with this eggplant variety. The Department of Justice has already ordered the filing of charges against them. It looks like anti-biotechnology forces operating in this country are well-organized and wellfunded. Moreover, they are conducting their PR job full-time. On the other hand, Filipino scientists worki g on agriculture food-production research are focused on their jobs and can only rely on the help of sympathetic agencies and opinion-makers to air their cause. Instead of compounding the woes faced by Filipino scientists in their bid to produce plant varieties like Bt talong, which are not dependent on chemical pesticides, shouldn’t our lawmakers help them instead? Don’t our legislators find a common cause with the DA and the Filipino science community in the bid to address food security and environmental issues? Don’t our Filipino scientists deserve the support of lawmakers as they conduct research on new and better ways to feed our countrymen? Maybe our lawmakers should leave the job of demolishing the research efforts of Filipino scientists to Greenpeace. This group, which reportedly has some P15 billion in PR funds annually, does not need any more help to fan imagined fears about biotechnology. It can do the job with the help of local groups. On second thought, that probe proposed by the representative from Central Luzon should give our Filipino farmers a good opportunity to shed light on agriculture biotechnology and how it can help the environment and promote food security. Based on reports, there has long been a consensus in the international science community that plants and food developed through biotechnology are safe, both for humans and the environment. They may even be safer than those doused with chemical pesticides. Perhaps, our scientists should grab the opportunity created by the female lawmaker’s call for a probe. After all, fear dissolves when it is face to face with the truth.

Guess who? Speaking of lawmakers, we espied this former legislator, from a city south of Metro Manila, sitting all by his lonesome at a makeshift first-aid booth at the Manila Memorial Park during last week’s observance of All Saints’ Day. Despite the teeming mass of people who had come to the cemetery to pay their respects to their dead, this former high-profile politician cut a forlorn, isolated figure, with nobody beside him to keep him company. This picture is a far cry from the time he was still a district representative. In the not-so-distant past, people clustered around him asking for favors. Now, he sits alone in a very public place. A fitting reminder for all politicians: Sic transit gloria mundi, or “Thus passes the glory of the world.”

Per-capita rice output met population’s requirement–BAS Category: Agri-Commodities 05 Nov 2013 THE per capita production of rice last year reached 120.82 kilograms, which was above the 117 kilos per capita consumption recorded in 2012, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (Bas) said in its latest report. In its report titled “Agricultural Indicators System: Food Consumption and Nutrition, 2013,” the Bas said the annual per-capita production of rice and corn continued to increase and remained above the 2000 records. “Rice production recorded an index of 114.07 percent indicating that rice per-capita production in 2012 exceeded the base year record by 14.07 percentage points,” the report read. The Bas said corn production at 76.20 kilograms per person in 2012 registered an index of 129.23 percent. “The 2012 estimates of per capita production of coconut at 162.51 kilos and coffee at 0.26 kilo were maintained below the 2000 levels. Sugarcane production dropped to 270.42 kilos per person,” the report read. The Bas said the 2012 per-capita production of banana at 94.52 kilos, pineapple at 24.56 kilos and papaya at 1.69 kilos surpassed the 2000 levels. “Among these fruits, banana exhibited the biggest per-capita production index at 146.69 percent. Decreasing and lower-than-the-base year production levels were continuously reported for mango, calamansi and pomelo,” the report read. Among the selected livestock and poultry products, only beef sustained lower than the base year production and was continuously going down in 2012 at 2 kilos per person. The Bas said per-capita production refers to the volume of production of a particular commodity available for each member of the population. As for the daily per-capita consumption of rice, the Bas said this increased to 320.93 grams in 2012. Corn consumption at 47.26 grams per person per day in 2012 was lower than that in the base year record.

“Despite the increases in the per capita consumption of coconut and coffee, these were still below the 2000 records. Sugarcane consumption was reduced to 7.4 grams per person in 2012 which was less than the 2000 level,� the report read. Per-capita consumption of papaya, the Bas said, went up to 4.27 grams in 2012 and recorded an index of 106.75 percent. Consumption of calamansi and pomelo declined to 4.71 grams and 0.79 gram, respectively, in 2012. Both were below the 2000 per capita consumption levels. The Bas said the daily consumption pattern of a commodity of each member of the population measured through an index indicates the movement of consumption in a specified year relative to a base year.

‘2% crop-yield loss per decade threatens global food supply’ Category: Agri-Commodities 05 Nov 2013 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent THE goal of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to develop better rice strains and promote the massive cultivation of Golden Rice should be hastened in the face of the prediction by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that crops yields in this century would lose 2 percent per decade due to global heating and new climatic conditions. This translates into a compounded crop loss ranging from 16 percent to 20 percent for the rest of the century, an eventuality that IPCC predicted would increase the likelihood of wars and destructive conficts due to dwindling food supply. A draft final report of the IPCC’s fifth assessment since 1990 was revealed by freelance journalist John Upton, who stressed that the world need not wait for the report’s release in March 2014 before acting. “The biggest impacts from climate change will be felt on farms, which will endure worsening water shortages and will have to deal with shifting growing ranges. That’s going to make it harder to feed the world its staples of wheat, rice, and corn,” Upton said. “Climate change could reduce yields of these crops by as much as 2 percent each decade for the rest of the century, and that will coincide with rising demand for food by growing populations,” he added. However, the IPCC also noted that the dire consequence should prompt a response if the farming sector wishes to supply enough food for the country’s teeming billions. “But if farms and agricultural systems proactively adapt to global warming, they could actually reap a rare benefit and increase yields by as much as 18 percent compared with today’s harvests,” Upton said. Farming regions near the poles are benefiting from climatic changes but the IPCC noted that “negative impacts of climate change on crop and terrestrial food production have been more common than positive impacts.” In a news briefing on November 4 at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City during the Seventh International Rice Genetics Symposium, Dr. Achim Doberman said the IRRI is focusing on developing high-yielding rice varieties, including genetically modified (GM) rice, that are armed with beta carotene precursors to allow humans to create vitamin A.

Doberman, a soil scientist and agronomist for 25 years, said IRRI is pushing Golden Rice, which offers high humanitarian, environmental and productivity benefit for consumers and farmers, and admitted that IRRI’s work on GM rice breeding is only 5 percent, compared to conventional varieties. He said IRRI has already developed rice strains equipped with traits that allow them to thrive even when submerged, thus the moniker “scuba rice,� which is similar to the four submergencetolerant rice varieties developed by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice). For his part, Dr. Hei Lung, principal scientist and program leader for Genetic Diversity and Gene Discovery at IRRI, said that as plant pathologist and geneticist with primary interest in disease resistance and genetic diversity, his main concern is how to raise output and inform the public about the crying need to conserve genetic diversity. Genetic sequencing can unlock the useful traits for new and better rice varieties but so far, only about 25 percent of the genetic diversity has been explored and 5 percent used for breeding, a small figure, indeed, considering that the International Rice Genebank has more than 117,000 different types of rice.

Asia’s coconut plantations aging, cutting output and farmers’ income   November 5, 2013  

By: Supunnabul Suwannakij (Bloomberg)


A coconut plantation in Aurora province Asia’s coconut palms, which mark the landscape from the Philippines to India, face a crisis as rapidly aging groves become less productive, curbing harvests that are a source of food and income for millions. The trees, many of which were planted about 50 to 60 years ago after World War II, no longer yield enough to meet rising global demand, according to the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization. There’s an urgent need for replanting and rejuvenation, said Hiroyuki Konuma, regional representative for Asia and the Pacific at the United Nations agency, which is seeking to coordinate a response to the challenge. At stake is the productivity of a core part of the rural economy in the Asia-Pacific, which accounts for about 85 percent of the global supply of the commodity that goes into food, fuel, soaps and cosmetics. In the Philippines, among the three biggest growers, one in five people depends on the crop to some extent, according to the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community.

The Jakarta-based group, which represents growers, predicts that harvests could be increased to benefit millions of smallholders. “We have a lot of aging trees,” Yvonne Agustin, executive director of the United Coconut Association of the Philippines, said in an interview, adding some local palms are already 100 years old. “The government recognizes that and has embarked on a planting and replanting program,” Agustin said by phone. The slender trees that are a staple image for tourists’ postcards are productive for between 50 years and a century, with the highest yields in the first three decades, according to the FAO. The harvest in the Asia-Pacific is now about 40 nuts per tree a year, compared with a potential yield of 75 to 150, it estimates, saying replanting is advisable after 60 years. India, Asia’s third-largest economy, is the top producer, harvesting 17 billion nuts last year, followed by Indonesia, which gathered 15.4 billion, and the Philippines, with 15.2 billion, according to the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community. The global coconut area was about 12.3 million hectares (30.3 million acres), yielding 64.3 billion nuts, it said. While the expansion of services and manufacturing spurs economic growth in Asia, farming remains important. In India, agriculture accounted for 17 percent of gross domestic product last year, according to the Washington-based World Bank. In Indonesia, agriculture was 15 percent of GDP in 2011, while in the Philippines it was 13 percent. The FAO estimates the coconut industry accounts for as much as 5 percent of Philippine GDP. In the Philippines, an estimated 340 million trees cover 26 percent of farmland, yielding 43 nuts per tree a year, data from the Philippine Coconut Authority show. Shipments of coconut products in the first eight months of the year rose 10 percent to $1 billion, data from the statistics agency show. The industry is the country’s largest agricultural exporter, said Euclides Forbes, the authority’s administrator. Kerala is the top producer in India, followed by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, according to the Coconut Development Board, under the Ministry of Agriculture. While a trial program in Kerala to replace aged palms has boosted productivity, yields are still dropping in the three other states, sometimes by as much as third, Sugata Ghose, the board’s chief coconut development officer, said in an interview. “We have removed disease-ridden and old palms for replanting,” said Ghose, who’s based in Kochi, Kerala. “Last year, we had a big problem with the price, as farmers were not getting a good price. This year farmers are happy because production is less plus demand has gone up.” Not all farmers face difficulties. Aging trees aren’t an issue in Vietnam’s Ben Tre, according to Tran Van Hung, deputy director of the agriculture department in the province that’s the biggest grower. Yields are stable at about 100 nuts per tree a year in most areas, up from about 60 a few years ago after prices rose and farmers used more fertilizer, Hung said.

The FAO hosted a consultation in Bangkok last week to address the yield issue, drawing representatives from 15 states including the three top growers as well as Fiji and the Solomon Islands. While yields are low and most trees are old, scientists are working to raise output, said Siriwat Kajornprasart, Thailand’s deputy minister of agriculture and cooperatives. “Coconut is a traditional crop in India, with more than 2,000 years of history,” K. Muralidharan, director of the Coconut Development Board, said on the sidelines of the gathering in Bangkok. Every part of the palm can be used, and the industry contributes more than 83 billion rupees ($1.3 billion) a year to India’s GDP, he said. New trees can start producing in as few as two or three years, according to Romulo Arancon, executive director of the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community. With replanting and improved farm practices, output can be raised by 50 percent to 100 percent within a few years, said Arancon, who estimated that a mature palm can produce as many as 400 nuts a year. More than half of Indonesia’s 4 million hectares of palms are aging, or over 50 years old, said Irawadi Jamaran, chairman of the Indonesian Coconut Board, which groups producers, processors and sellers. The main problem for the industry is a lack of government attention, with greater concern for bigger plantations, especially oil palm, Irawadi said. The country is the largest producer of palm oil, which is grown on estates. “Coconut is often overlooked by many people because we’re always looking at rice and oil palm, and people don’t think coconut is an important one: this is not true,” the FAO’s Konuma said in an interview. “It contributes to economy, culture and livelihood.”

Govt releases P211.31 million for typhoonaffected farmers Category: Agri-Commodities 05 Nov 2013 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga THE government has released a total of P211.31 million as assistance to 19,177 farmers who were affected by typhoons. The amount was released under the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries-Agricultural Insurance Program (ARBs-AIP) which is jointly being implemented by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC) under the Departmet of Agriculture. The DAR said ARBs-AIP aims to provide assistance to beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) whose crops have been destroyed by natural calamities. Agrarian Reform Undersecretary Jerry Pacturan said P196.1 million were paid to 18,351 affected rice farmers, P13.6 million to corn farmers and P1.64 million to high-value commercial crops farmers. “The amount given to the farmer-beneficiaries pales in comparison to the actual damage each of them incurred, but this will help them start all over again,� Pacturan said. He said the farms of the affected farmer-beneficiaries covered an aggregate area of 26,445 hectares. He added that 25,263 hectares of the affected area were planted to rice, 1,073 hectares to corn and 108 hectares to high-value commercial crops. Records show that 201,232 farmer-beneficiaries have availed themselves of the program that is being implemented jointly by the DAR and the PCIC, which entitled them to a total of P9.545 billion in insurance coverage. Of the 201,232 farmer-beneficiaries, 91,299 of them had their crops and livestock covered, while 109,933 availed themselves of the Accident and Dismember Security Scheme. Pacturan said the Department has paid P523 million in insurance premium subsidy for farm investments of farmer-beneficiaries since its inception in January this year. The DAR is targeting to cover under ARBs-AIP some 218,000 ARBs this year to protect them from losses resulting from damage to crops due to pest and disease infestations, natural calamities and extreme weather events brought about by climate change. Also covered under the program, he said, are the farmer-beneficiaries themselves and immediate members of their respective families. Besides rice, corn and high-value commercial crops, Pacturan said the program also covers livestock production.

Calata in tie-up to distribute animal feeds nationwide Category: Companies 05 Nov 2013 Written by Roderick L. Abad LISTED Calata Corp., in partnership with New Hope Group, will introduce a new animal feed line under its company-owned brand Golden Bean. The firm disclosed on Tuesday that the board of directors gave the green light to bring Golden Bean feeds to all its dealers nationwide. Calata expects that the Golden Bean Feeds will soon become the leading feed brand in the country’s P150-billion feed industry. The company said in its regulatory filing that it will exert “aggressive initiatives toward corporate growth [and] shall not be limited to the feeds distribution business but shall include all business opportunities in the agriculture industry, making it one of the leading agricultural firms in the country with real value and real business.� Incorporated in 1999, Calata is a combined distributor of agro-chemicals, feeds, fertilizers, veterinary medicines and other agricultural products coming from manufacturers or business partners. Based in China, New Hope Group is one of the biggest feed manufacturers with a production capacity of 26.6 million tons yearly. It is also one of the largest suppliers of poultry and pig meat, egg and dairy products in China. Apart from the Philippines, the company also expanded in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Bengal and Indonesia. Roderick L. Abad

IT professionals invent gadget to stop fishkills By Gabriel Cardinoza  Inquirer Northern Luzon   2:45 am | Wednesday, November 6th, 2013  


THIS prototype of the Arduino Dissolved Oxygen (DO) sensor automatically turns on a fishpond’s aerator system when the DO level is low and shuts it off when it normalizes. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Devastating fishkills in ponds and cages in aquaculture areas in the country will soon be things of the past, thanks to a gadget developed by a team of information technology (IT) professionals in Dagupan City. The gadget, called Arduino Dissolved Oxygen (DO) Sensor, automatically turns on a pond’s aerator system when the DO level is low and turns it off when the DO level normalizes. “We were looking for ways where technology could be applied to solve a problem. I’ve read news reports on a regular basis about millions of pesos [worth of bangus or milkfish] lost to fishkills. So I thought of applying technology to this problem,” said Wilson Chua, president of Bitstop Network Services Inc., based in the coastal city of Dagupan in Pangasinan province.

According to Chua, the device is based on a low-cost computing platform called Arduino, which was developed in Italy. “I first heard of it from friends at NUS (National University of Singapore). They were using it for all sorts of applications like measuring air quality, robotics, etc. So, I know that the Arduino was a low-cost general purpose computing platform that could form the brains of any solution,” he said. Chua then ordered a DO sensor from Atlas Scientific ( “It was one of the very few select sensors that was rated to work with Arduino,” he said. He organized his team composed of Kristher Vidal as web and database developer, Albert Estillore as Arduino programmer and IT students who joined his firm’s advanced research program. “The project almost died an inglorious death. The DO kit languished at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for quite some time. Several calls were placed to ask its whereabouts, but the phone there just kept ringing,” Chua said.

Frustrated, he said he asked his Facebook friends if they had contacts in the BOC who can help him with the shipment. “Up came Jay Fajardo, who is well-known in the [IT] community. He relayed my concern to the Biazons (Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon and his father, Muntinlupa City Rep. Rodolfo Biazon). Amazingly, the next day, we learned that the shipment will be in Dagupan one day later,” Chua said. Welcome development He said the gadget was completed within two months. For the next two months, it was tested at the National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Center (NIFTDC) in Dagupan. Westly Rosario, NIFTDC chief, said the gadget, which he described as the first of its kind in the local aquaculture industry, was a welcome development. “We have always said that the only way to improve our production capacity is through the use of [fish] feed to produce more biomass per unit area. And to do this, we need to provide artificial food, plus of course, oxygen, which includes aeration devices,” Rosario said. In the use of aeration devices, however, the Philippines has been lagging behind because of high operation cost, he said. “We just have to use it in a smart way [to save cost]. Don’t turn it on when you do not need it.”

Chua’s gadget will be a big help not only to the bangus industry in Pangasinan but to the aquaculture industry in the country. “It is because our problem in fish cages and ponds is fishkill. In the shrimp industry, which is high value, the DO level is very critical,” Rosario said. “Aerators are operated manually and you have to measure the DO level every now and then. If you do this, there is a big chance that your stocks will get sick because the probe (measuring rod or stick) may get contaminated,” he said. What excites Chua about the device is its capability to upload data to the Internet. “This solution not only turns on [and off] an aerator. It measures both oxygen and temperature levels in the waters where it is placed,” he said. Through the device, Chua said a provincewide alert system for preventing fishkills could be set up. “As more pond owners deploy this solution, we can map their geographic location into our database and coordinate with the relevant government agency to send out alerts. As we see oxygen levels start to fall from upstream river systems, we can warn pond owners about it, and give them time to harvest earlier,” Chua said.   Read more:‐professionals‐invent‐gadget‐to‐stop‐ fishkills#ixzz2jpeGNcAu   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook 

Inflation at 7-month high Category: Top News 05 Nov 2013 Written by Cai U. Ordinario THE average rate of increase in the prices of goods and services in October was at its fastest since March, and economists expect the pace to pick up further in the remaining months of the year due to the holiday- season spending. University of Asia and the Pacific School of Economics Vice Dean Cid Terosa said bad weather affected the country’s food supply in October, causing food items to become more expensive. Higher food prices, Terosa said, are expected during the holiday season. The last quarter of the year is usually the time of the year when consumption picks up due to the holidays. One of the biggest expenses at this time is made by Filipinos on food for the Christmas and New Year feasts. “Food prices rose because of inclement weather and supply disruptions, which caused demand to exceed supply. I expect food prices to continue to rise because of strong consumer demand,” Terosa said. National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Assistant Director General for Planning and Policy Rosemarie Edillon said the uptick in food prices is only seasonal. She said the increase in food prices were mainly due to higher prices of rice. “Historically, it [inflation] does pick up during the holidays. Still, it will be within target,” Edillon said. The National Statistics Office (NSO) reported on Tuesday that the average rate of increase in prices was faster at 2.9 percent in October from 2.7 percent in September. This caused inflation to hit 2.8 percent in the January-to-October period. Inflation in October 2013 was lower than the 3.2 percent recorded in October 2012 and was still below the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) full-year forecast of 3 percent to 5 percent. NSO data showed that inflation this year was at its highest in February at 3.4 percent. This slowed to 3.2 percent in March and since then, inflation rates were below 3 percent until October. The NSO said that in October, the heavily weighted food index posted a growth of 3.2 percent in October from 2.5 percent in September. This was fueled by the surge in food price inflation to 3.4 percent in October 2013 from 2.5 percent in September.

The commodity that posted the highest price increase was rice, which surged to 7.8 percent in October from 7.1 percent in September. Other food items that posted price increases were meat, which posted a growth of 2.2 percent; fish, 2.5 percent; and food products not elsewhere classified, 3.4 percent. Further, the NSO said the increase in vegetable prices reached 1.2 percent from a decline of 3.7 percent in September 2013. “The annual adjustments in the other food groups were either negative or at slower rates with the index for fruit retaining its last month’s growth of 3.8 percent,” the NSO added. The NSO said price increases in clothing also pushed up October inflation rates. However, slower price increases were recorded in alcoholic beverages and tobacco; housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels; furnishing, household equipment and routine maintenance of the house; health; and transport. Inflation in the National Capital Region (NCR) remained at its last month’s rate of 1.1 percent. The NSO said this was due to higher prices in food and non-alcoholic beverages, while the indices of alcoholic beverages and tobacco, clothing and footwear, and health had slowdowns. “The indices for housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels and transport had negative rates, while the rest of the commodity groups retained their previous month’s rate,” the NSO added. In areas outside NCR, inflation moved faster at 3.4 percent in October from 3.1 percent in September. Higher annual mark-ups were posted in the indices of food and non-alcoholic beverages; clothing and footwear; housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels; and recreation and culture. Excluding selected food and energy items, core inflation picked up to 2.5 percent in October from 2.3 percent in September. With the higher but still benign inflation, the BSP said the rate of increases in consumer prices supports the view that the current monetary stance remains appropriate and provides further space for the monetary authority to fulfill its stability mandates. “Monetary policy remains appropriate given the policy space from benign inflation outlook and expectations,” BSP Deputy Governor for Monetary Stability Sector Diwa Guinigundo said. The central bank attributed the uptick in the prices of goods and commodities to expected higher food prices. “As expected, domestic inflation inched up in October on account mainly of higher food prices. In turn, we trace this to recent weather disturbance,” The BSP is still confident that the average inflation for the country will fall within the government’s set target range.

“Looking forward we expected inflation to remain within the official target of 3 percent to 5 percent for both 2013 and 2014, and 2 percent to 4 percent for 2015,” Guinigundo said. The central bank announced its latest inflation forecast in its latest policy meeting at 3 percent for this year, 4 percent next year and at 3.4 percent in 2015. The BSP said as the recent price pressures are caused by seasonal changes, the rise in prices is seen to be temporary and to still remain within the government’s target range for the year. “As such, recent price movements are expected to be one-off, showing that is not expected to persist,” Guinigundo said. With Bianca Cuaresma

Senate asks mall, ‘tiangge’ owners to set up consumer welfare desks Category: Economy 05 Nov 2013 Written by Mia M. Gonzalez THE chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship on Tuesday urged mall owners and administrators of big tiangge-style business establishments to set up consumer welfare desks as a service to their customers and to help strengthen consumer protection. Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV made the appeal in an interview with reporters at the SM Mall of Asia, where he and Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo had a briefing at the consumer welfare desk at the mall. “We’re hoping that the consumer welfare desks would be set up in all shopping areas, not only in the malls….We’re hoping that there would be more mall owners, tiangge administrators who will actually work with the Department of Trade and Industry [DTI] so they can have consumer welfare desk in areas where people shop,” Aquino said. The desk would help disseminate information on consumer rights, and can provide dissatisfied consumers a venue for their complaints against retailers who sell defective products and services. He said the service is not required by the government and is a “partnership” between the establishment and the DTI, which is ready to provide training for those who will man the desk, as well material on consumer rights for public dissemination. Aquino also hoped that shopping areas would provide even temporary consumer welfare desks this Christmas season, when shopping is expected would be at its peak. Domingo invited Aquino to join him in his “Bantay Pasko”—a special market-monitoring activity on Christmas lights, and prices of Noche Buena products—at the Tutuban Mall in Divisoria that morning, followed by the visit to SM Mall of Asia to check their consumer welfare desk. Aquino said the government, business owners and consumers “can help each other so we will have a merrier Christmas.” “We should all pitch in. While the government continues its monitoring, business owners should be responsible and consumers should do their part by not being lured by cheap products. They should scrutinize the products and check for quality and product standards so that their hardearned money would not go to waste,” Aquino said.

Aquino added there are enough laws to ensure consumer protection, so it’s just a matter of implementation and public knowledge on what their rights are as consumers. He said it is not well-known that under the law, all sold products have an “implied warranty” of 60 days, during which time they can be exchanged if found to be defective for as long as there is a receipt. Aquino also said that while consumers have rights, they must be “responsible” consumers too by not patronizing products that are cheap but may cost them much more later on, such as Christmas lights without the proper Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) stickers that would vouch for their safe use. The senator said the DTI will intensify its monitoring of business establishment and prices of Noche Buena food items this Christmas season. Domingo said that during the monitoring activity in Tutuban, one retailer was found selling Christmas lights without ICC stickers—which is against regulation—prompting the DTI representatives to give him a citation. He also said prices of goods related to the Christmas season, such as ham and canned fruit cocktail, have remained stable.

BOC leads 3-day Asean conference on Customs procedures Category: Economy 05 Nov 2013 Written by Joel R. San Juan THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Tuesday led the opening of the three-day 15th Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation Working Group to prepare members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) for economic integration in 2015. Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon expressed optimism that the three-day conference being held at the Traders Hotel in Manila among customs commissioners from 10 Asean member-nations will help boost the country’s economic competitiveness in the global market. Biazon added that during the gathering, representatives from the 10 nations will come up with the rules and parameters for the Strategic Plans of Customs Development based on the March 30, 2012, Asean Agreement on Customs that was signed by Customs commissioners and directors general of the government of the Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Republic of Indonesia, the Lao People’s Republic, Malaysia, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the Republic of Singapore, the Kingdom of Thailand and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Out of the 10 Asean member-nations, only Lao People’s Democratic Republic failed to send its representative for the three-day conference. Joel R. San Juan

End to debt hangover to boost US growth Category: World 05 Nov 2013 Written by Bloomberg News SUFFERING from a debt hangover for the past four years, Americans will resort to a timehonored cure—hair of the dog that bit them. A pickup in borrowing will give the world’s biggest economy a much-needed boost next year as federal government austerity pinches growth. Workers will be more willing to take out loans as the lowest unemployment rate in almost five years bolsters job security, while banks will be more likely to lend after cleaning up their own balance sheets. The resulting gains in personal spending will help counter the effects of federalbudget cuts that are weighing on the expansion, according to Ben Garber, an economist at Moody’s Capital Markets Research Inc. in New York. “Consumers taking on more debt at a time when the deficit is shrinking would be a strong positive for the economy,” Garber said. “This will help offset some of the fiscal austerity that we’re experiencing.” Federal outlays relative to the size of the economy declined to 22 percent in 2012, the smallest since 2008, according to figures from the Congressional Budget Office. It projects the share will drop over the subsequent five fiscal years, reaching 20.6 percent in 2017. While the government is just beginning to cut back, consumers are well on the road to recovery and will be in position to take up the slack, Garber said. Household debt as a share of income was 92.2 percent last quarter, a decade low and down from its peak of 114 percent in 2009. The debt-service ratio, which measures how much income is devoted to paying off obligations, has also steadied after dropping last year to a record low. That debt load probably won’t get much lighter as Americans have already come around to using credit to buy automobiles, homes and other big-ticket items, Garber said. Thomas Nitzsche says that while he’s become more frugal, he’s beginning to feel more comfortable about borrowing and spending than in years past. When he was let go from his job in a Western Union Financial Services Inc. call center in July 2008, Nitzsche had about $190,000 in combined mortgage, credit card, auto and student loan debt. “It’s terrifying,” said Nitzsche, 34, who bought his home in Saint Louis in 2007, the same year the United States entered a recession. “It was definitely scary, but I was pretty determined to do whatever I could do to not go down that path of bankruptcy.” He found a lower-paying job at ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions—and made ends meet through ways like subletting rooms in his home. Now earning as much as he was five years ago, Nitzsche has been able to cut his debt load by about 28 percent and is whittling down his home

and student loans. He even took out a $5,000 loan to buy a used, 17-foot ski boat over the summer. Neil Dutta, head of US economics at Renaissance Macro Research LLC in New York, says it’s a positive step for the economy when consumers feel confident enough to borrow money. “It’s all about a hand-off,” said Dutta. “We’re entering the next phase of the deleveraging process where the government de-levers and the private sector begins to re-lever.” Domestic banks are making loans more readily available, easing lending policies to businesses as competition stiffens and relaxing standards on mortgages, according to results of a Federal Reserve survey issued on Tuesday. For the first time in three years, as many banks loosened lending rules on credit cards as tightened them, the report also showed. Forty-six percent of US and Canadian bankers surveyed project new consumer credit requested will increase over the next six months, according to a report published Octoer 9 by credit-risk grader Fair Isaac Corp. (FICO), which produces the FICO score. Some 53 percent of lenders estimate credit-card balances will increase during the period. The average FICO score of all closed home loans fell to 732 in September from 750 the year before, according to data from Ellie Mae Inc., the provider of software used by mortgage lenders to make home loans. Declines in the average score may mean credit is more accessible or it may indicate increased demand by mid-level borrowers. Falling foreclosures, bankruptcies and defaults on consumer loans all point to improved balance sheets as the economy continues to expand. Home-foreclosure filings fell to about 129,000 in August, down 65 percent from a peak of about 367,000 in March 2010, according to data from Realty Trac Inc. The number of non-business bankruptcies in the 12 months ended in September fell to 1.07 million from the 1.54 million reached during the same period in 2010, according to data from the US Courts. The national composite consumer-credit default rate was 1.38 percent in September, compared with the 5.51 percent peak reached in May 2009, according to an S&P/Experian index. “Banks are definitely more eager to lend than they have been in several years,” said Joe Carson, director of global economic research at AllianceBernstein Lp./USA in New York. Bloomberg News

DOTC prepares two options for future PHL airport system Category: Top News 05 Nov 2013 Written by Lenie Lectura TO address the growing appetite for travel, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) will pursue two options for the establishment of the country’s gateway airport system. “We will present two options for modernizing our gateway airport system, which will show the world that we are preparing to be one of the top global tourist destinations for the next few decades,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said. According to a 2011 study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), annual passenger forecasts for the Greater Capital Region, which covers the National Capital Region and Regions 3 and 4A, will rise from 49.8 million in 2020 to 75 million in 2030, up to 106.7 million in 2040. In 2012 total traffic was already at 31.879 million. To meet these expected volumes, the DOTC has identified two viable options, both of which will involve the expansion of Clark International Airport (CIA), as well as the development of a new international airport roughly within 20 minutes to 30 minutes from Metro Manila, to be fully operational by 2027. These options will be presented to President Aquino on November 6, said Abaya. Once the gateway airport roadmap to 2040 is identified, the DOTC will finalize its plans to execute the policy. Parallel to this, the DOTC has already begun preparatory measures to boost expansion efforts at CIA and to identify the site for the new international airport. A 6,000square-meter expansion of the CIA passenger terminal building was recently completed, and within this month, France’s Aeroport de Paris will begin preparing a master plan for a 45,000-sqm Low Cost Carrier (LCC) terminal in Clark on a grant basis. Meanwhile, Jica is currently conducting a site selection study for the new international airport—a long-term development to be commenced and completed in 15 to 20 years. Jica is scheduled to submit its findings to the transport department by the end of this year. Improvement efforts for Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) are also on the way. The much-awaited rehabilitation works for Naia Terminal 1 will begin in December, while Takenaka’s ongoing completion of system works at Naia Terminal 3 are on schedule and will be completed by the third quarter of 2014. The two options being mulled over by the DOTC differ insofar as the fate of the Naia is concerned. One option will entail the closure of Naia by 2030, which will mean that the new international airport should provide 78 percent of the required passenger terminal-building floor space, with CIA handling 22 percent by that year. The other option, meanwhile, will allow Naia to co-exist alongside CIA and the new airport up to 2040 and beyond.

10 more lawmakers to face ‘pork’ raps By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 6, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

  MANILA, Philippines - At least 10 more lawmakers will face charges for their involvement in the pork barrel fund scam allegedly perpetrated by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima hinted yesterday. “There could be more, depending on the documents yet to be gathered by the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation),” De Lima said. De Lima refused to reveal names as the NBI again deferred filing of the second batch of cases with the Office of the Ombudsman related to alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of lawmakers. The NBI was supposed to file this week the additional cases against more personalities tagged by whistle-blowers led by Benhur Luy. But after reviewing the complaint prepared by the NBI team, De Lima decided to defer the filing of the second batch of cases to next week. De Lima said she ordered the probe team to “purge” the list of respondents since documentary evidence against some of them was not sufficient. Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1  

“I want them to complete the documents first so when this second batch is filed, there will be substantial number of respondents so it will have more impact,” she explained. De Lima said the charges against the respondents that will not have supporting documents would be forwarded to the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft and Corruption Coordinating Council for further investigation. It was the second time the NBI deferred filing of the second batch of PDAF charges. Last month, De Lima explained there had been delay in the filing because their attention was distracted by the Senate inquiry. In the first batch filed last September, the NBI accused Napoles, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr., and 34 others of plunder and other criminal charges for allegedly amassing millions of PDAF funds through bogus non-government organizations. The NBI had also filed separate charges against Napoles and several former officials in connection with the P900-million Malampaya fund. De Lima also revealed another batch of charges is underway after the NBI probe revealed another form of scam allegedly perpetrated by Napoles. Citing testimonies of Luy and new witnesses, De Lima said Napoles also allegedly used the same scam in amassing funds not related to PDAF. “This involves other projects – special projects and projects of certain departments. That will probably be in the third batch,” she said. Asked to explain how Napoles did it, De Lima said Napoles got funds from implementing agencies using letters from lawmakers endorsing her fake NGOs as partners. Luy’s lawyer Levito Baligod, for his part, said there are at least two non-PDAF cases that were revealed by his client involving P407 million and P300 million in funds, respectively. Baligod added there were 10 to 15 lawmakers tagged by the witnesses – including a new one from an implementing agency involved in the scam. More time The Department of Justice (DOJ), on the other hand, has allowed Napoles and her husband Jaime more time to answer the P61-million tax evasion charges filed against them by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) last September. For the second time, the couple did not appear for preliminary investigation hearing and instead asked the DOJ panel for additional time to submit their counter-affidavit through a lawyer on special appearance.

Francisco Tolentino, an associate of Napoles’ counsel Alfredo Villamor, explained their clients were not ready to answer the charges as they have yet to hire the services of a tax lawyer. It was the same excuse given by lawyer Romeo Villarta III, who represented the couple in the first hearing last Oct. 21. The panel chaired by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Edna Valenzuela again granted the request, but gave the couple only until Nov. 19 to submit their answer. The same DOJ panel has been assigned to conduct the preliminary investigation on the separate P32.06-million tax evasion charges against the couple’s daughter Jeane. Valenzuela explained the appearance of Napoles and her transfer from detention in Fort Sto. Domingo in Laguna is beyond the concern of the panel. She said it is not the task of the panel to seek permission from the Makati regional trial court, which has jurisdiction over Napoles pending hearing of the serious illegal detention case against her. In its complaint filed last Sept. 26, the BIR accused the Napoles couple of tax evasion for the years 2004, 2006, and from 2008 until 2012. “In addition, Janet Napoles was charged with deliberate failure to supply correct and accurate information in her Income Tax Return (ITR) for taxable years 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2009 and with willful failure to file her ITRs for taxable years 2010, 2011 and 2012,” the BIR said. Jaime Napoles was also charged for not supplying the correct and accurate information in his ITR for 2009 and for his failure to file his ITR for 2004, 2006, 2008, and from 2010 until 2012. “Information gathered during investigation disclosed that spouses Napoles during the years 2004 to 2012 were able to purchase and register in their names various real properties, a number of motor vehicles, several insurance policies and club shares. They also invested millions of pesos in various new corporations,” the BIR stressed. The couple reportedly purchased condominium units in Cityland Mega Plaza and the Discovery Center, and parcels of land in Pangasinan and Kidapawan City. The Napoleses also have insurance policies with Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd., Philippine American Life & General Insurance Co., Inc., and Philippine Axa Life Insurance Corp., and have purchased vehicles that include a Ford Lincoln Navigator, Honda Civic and Porsche Cayenne. The BIR said Janet Napoles’ total acquisitions amounted to P4.17 million in 2004, P22.29 million in 2006, P4.35 million in 2008, P9.84 million in 2009, P6.33 million in 2010, P5.64 million in 2011 and P6.89 million in 2012.

But these were made with an income of only P195,800 in 2004, zero in 2006, P100,744 in 2008 and zero in 2009, as shown in her ITRs. She did not file any ITR from 2010 to 2012. Her husband, meanwhile, had total acquisitions worth P1.42 million in 2004, P5.51 million in 2006, P0.78 million in 2008, P9.25 million in 2009, P2.1 million in 2010, P1.17 million in 2011 and P3.65 million in 2012. The BIR said Mr. Napoles did not file any ITR for those years except in 2009, during which he declared nothing.

Senate rejects Napoles motion to postpone hearing By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 6, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 


MANILA, Philippines - There’s no stopping the Senate appearance of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles tomorrow as a last-minute attempt by her camp to have it postponed was rejected by the chamber’s Blue Ribbon committee. In making the request for postponement, Napoles cited her lack of lawyers to represent her when she faces grilling from the committee chaired by Sen. Teofisto Guingona III. She reminded the committee that her counsel Lorna Kapunan had resigned. “As an accused, it is within my rights to get the advice of my lawyers who will ensure that my rights are protected,” Napoles said in her letter addressed to Guingona and Senate President Franklin Drilon. Widely considered the mastermind of the pork barrel scam, Napoles emphasized she has no intention of snubbing the committee’s subpoena even if she believes her presence is unlikely to contribute much to its probe into the controversy. “We regret to inform you that your request is denied. Please be informed that the said hearing will proceed as scheduled,” Rodolfo Quimbo, director general of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, told Napoles in a letter. Guingona said his committee has made arrangements with the Public Attorney’s Office to provide Napoles with lawyers during the hearing. This was confirmed by PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta who designated public attorneys Marlon Buan, Howard Areza and Analisa Soriano to assist Napoles during her Senate appearance. “Pursuant to Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9406 or PAO law, in the exigency of the service, the PAO may be called upon by government authorities to render such services to other persons,” Acosta explained. PAO’s mandate is to provide legal aid to indigents.

Sen. Sergio Osmeña III had also proposed over the weekend the postponement of the hearing, saying many senators may not be able to attend since Congress is on break. Drilon did not sign the subpoena when it was first issued, saying he wanted Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to comment first on the legal implications of requiring Napoles to face the Senate while being investigated for plunder. Napoles is in detention at Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna for a serious illegal detention case filed by her cousin and former employee Benhur Luy. She and 36 others – including Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ramon Revilla Jr. – are respondents in a plunder complaint filed with the Office of the Ombudsman by the National Bureau of Investigation in connection with the pork barrel scam. Based on testimonies of whistle-blowers led by Luy, Napoles and her alleged cohorts in Congress skimmed billions of pesos from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Malampaya fund through her bogus non-government organizations. – With Edu Punay, Cecille Suerte Felipe


De Lima vows to prosecute hackers By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 6, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

  HACKTIVISTS: Protesters wearing Guy Fawkes masks display placards during a rally outside the House of  Representatives in Quezon City yesterday. Some 100 masked members of the hacking group Anonymous  Philippines marched to denounce corruption and vowed more cyber attacks.    BOY SANTOS                       

MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday vowed to run after hackers who defaced the websites of key government agencies over the weekend to call for support for street protests against the pork barrel fund. De Lima said the cybercrime division of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has been tapped to track down the hackers reportedly belonging to international activist network Anonymous. “That should be investigated because as we all know, hacking disrupts public service,” she stressed. De Lima explained that hacking is a criminal offense under Republic Act 8792 (Electronic Commerce Act), punishable with imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of P100,000. The hackers could be prosecuted even without the controversial Republic Act 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act), which has not been implemented by the government after it was stopped by the Supreme Court through a temporary restraining order (TRO) over questions on constitutionality.Dozens of masked protesters marched to the Batasang Pambansa yesterday morning to denounce the misuse of public funds and called for the total abolition of the pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers. Superintendent Eleazar Matta, Quezon City Police District Station 6 commander, said around 80 demonstrators joined the “Million Mask March” that started around 9:30 a.m. Matta said the protesters, who identified themselves as members of Anonymous Philippines, marched from Commonwealth Avenue in front of the Sandiganbayan to the Batasang Pambansa complex. – With Janvic Mateo‐lima‐vows‐prosecute‐hackers 

Brace for super typhoon Yolanda – Pagasa By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 6, 2013 ‐ 12:00am  

  MANILA, Philippines - The state weather bureau advised yesterday the public to brace for storm Haiyan that could intensify into a super typhoon before making landfall over the Visayas region on Friday. Haiyan, which will be given the local name Yolanda, was forecast to enter the Philippine area of responsibility tomorrow morning. Rene Paciente, weather forecasting section chief of the Philippine, Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said Haiyan was projected to make landfall over the Leyte-Samar area on Friday afternoon. As of 11 a.m. yesterday, Haiyan was spotted at 2,170 kilometers east of Mindanao with maximum sustained winds of 95 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 120 kph. “This weather disturbance is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility on Thursday morning. It will not affect any part of the country within the next 36 hours,” PAGASA said. Haiyan was moving westward at 25 kph as of yesterday noon.

The Hawaii-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) said Haiyan is likely to reach super typhoon category before making landfall over central Philippines. PAGASA, however, is not officially using the term “super typhoon.” It is a category used by the JTWC to describe a typhoon with maximum sustained winds of 215 kph. “Due to very favorable environmental condition, rapid intensification is forecast over the next 48 hours with a peak intensity of 130 knots (241 kilometers per hour),” the JTWC said in its latest forecast. The JTWC said Haiyan will weaken as it crosses the Philippines but will regain strength over the West Philippine Sea. PAGASA weather forecaster Glaiza Escullar said heavy rains and strong winds would be felt in the Visayas before noon Friday. Escullar said residents of southern Luzon, including Metro Manila, are advised to prepare for rains and occasionally strong winds. Escullar said storm warning signal no. 1 might be raised over Metro Manila as Haiyan passes Mindoro province. Metro under alert The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) placed nine regions in the country under blue alert to prepare for the typhoon. NDRRMC spokesman Maj. Rey Balido said the regions which are likely to be affected by the powerful storm and are now under blue alert are Caraga, Northern Mindanao, Central, Eastern and Western Visayas, Bicol region, Southern Tagalog region, and Metro Manila. “This tropical depression is expected to develop into a super typhoon,” Balido said. He added the NDRRMC has placed Bohol under red alert since most of the residents in the province are still suffering from the effects of the massive earthquake last month. The provincial government of Bohol ordered the evacuation of villagers in areas that have been identified as danger zones following the massive earthquake that struck the province last month. “The provincial government is rushing the distribution of additional tents and other relief goods for those who are still staying in open spaces in makeshift tents,” said Tootsie Escobia, spokesman of the Bohol provincial government. “All municipal mayors are under orders to conduct preemptive evacuation of residents still staying near river banks and mountain slopes as the rains could trigger landslides and flooding,” he said.

This move, Escobia said, is in line with the disaster preparation of the province as it braces for the possible effects of the typhoon headed toward the Visayas. Since Monday, heavy rains spawned by Tropical Storm Wilma have hit the province, flooding several evacuation centers. This prevailing weather system is further aggravated by Haiyan which is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility today. “It has been raining here since yesterday,” Escobia said, adding that the provincial government is doing all it can to at least mitigate the impact of the prevailing weather system on thousands of families displaced by the 7.2 magnitude quake. – Jaime Laude, Cet Dematera, Gerry LeeGorit, Raymund Catindig‐super‐typhoon‐yolanda‐pagasa                                     

Shellfish ban up in Bataan By Dennis Carcamo ( | Updated November 6, 2013 ‐ 9:03am 

MANILA, Philippines - Due to the occurrence of red tide , the provincial government has imposed a shellfish ban in the whole of Bataan. The Provincial Agriculture Office said that an advisory from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resource indicates the gathering, selling, transporting and eating of shellfish in the province are now temporarily prohibited. The PAO said that from 54 milligrams Saxo-Toxin (STx) per 100 mg STx shellfish meat last Thursday, the toxin level of samples taken in Orani town, rose to 265 mg STx per 100 mg STx. The tolerable or normal level for shellfish to be safe for eating is 60 mg STx. Mayors in 11 towns and a city have been informed about the province-wide shellfish ban, the PAO added. However, PAO said that fresh fish, crabs and shrimps are safe to eat. Residents of coastal communities in Orani, Samal, Abucay, Pilar, Orion, Limay, Mariveles and Balanga City have been harvesting mussels or tahong and other shellfish. PAO and BFAR and other concerned government offices are continuously monitoring the movement of red tide.‐ban‐bataan                   

NDRRMC alerts all offices on 2 weather systems By Dennis Carcamo ( | Updated November 5, 2013 ‐ 3:49pm 

MANILA, Philippines - The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council on Tuesday directed all its satellite offices and regional offices nationwide to monitor two weather systems that might bring heavy rains this week. In an advisory, NDRRMC chairperson Eduardo del Rosario also ordered all the heads of the  provincial, regional, city disaster management councils to take precautionary measures in their  respective areas.   "You are reminded to disseminate these through local/community leaders and through your  local media, including community radio stations.   "This local effort will complement and reinforce efforts at the national level. Emphasis should  be on proactive actions‐‐evacuation rather than rescue," Del Rosario said in the advisory.   Del Rosario made the directive following the possible entry into the Philippine Area of  Responsibility of tropical storm east of Mindanao on Thursday.   The tropical storm, with international codename Haiyan, was seen over the Caroline Islands,  with sustained winds of 95 kilometers per hour and gustiness up to 120kph.    He also cited the low pressure area, spotted northeast of Palawan, which has continuously  brought heavy rainshowers in the area, preventing small fishing vessels and boats to venture  out to the seaboard of the island.‐alerts‐all‐offices‐2‐weather‐systems                 

Interest rates expected to go up, says BSP By Kathleen Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 6, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

  MANILA, Philippines - The country may see a rise in interest rates once the domestic liquidity growth starts to normalize, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo said yesterday. Guinigundo made the comment after strong demand pushed the rate for the 182-day Treasury bills (T-bills) to a new low of 0.001 percent, while the rate for the 91-day securities remained at 0.001 percent on Monday. “I think we are in a transition period because we have ample liquidity in the system... so then all the available financial instruments – their prices will be going down,” Guinigundo said. “As soon as the adjustment in the SDA is over by the end of November, then I think we will see some developments that could alter interest rate movement in the economy,” Guinigundo said. M3 growth or the broadest measure of domestic liquidity in the system settled at 31 percent in September, sustaining the high level of expansion already seen in August (30.9 percent) and July (30.1 percent). The central bank said money supply in the economy was largely due to funds flushed out of the SDA after the BSP cut interest rates on the facility by 150 basis points this year to two percent. Moreover, the central bank ordered the removal of all singular investment management accounts in the SDA by November. The refinements were meant to free up parked SDA funds and urge investors to put them into other instruments or activities that will further support economic growth.

Due to the adjustments in the SDA, the BSP expects domestic liquidity growth to remain high until next year. BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. earlier said M3 growth should return to 10 to 12 percent by 2014. At the same time, Guinigundo said global markets may see a rise in interest rates once the US Federal Reserve decides to taper stimulus. “I think when there is more certainty about the direction of the US Fed decision on tapering then I think there will be some volatilities in the market and that could bring the rates up,” Guinigundo said. The US Fed in May hinted it may decrease its bond purchases, prompting sell-offs in global financial markets and causing heightened volatility. However, the US central bank in September and in October announced it will keep its policy intact, providing relief to markets although volatility still remains as the actual tapering has yet to be started.‐rates‐expected‐go‐says‐bsp                               

Phl records 2nd biggest FDI increase in ASEAN in H1  ( | Updated November 5, 2013 ‐ 3:27pm 

  Newston Free Library photo 

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) -- The Philippines recorded the second biggest foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow for the first half of this year, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). In its latest report on Global Investment Trends Monitor, UNCTAD said that the Philippines had a 10.9-percent increase in FDI inflows to 2.2 billion U.S. dollars in the first half of the year. This was the second biggest increase among the member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), topped only by Malaysia, which recorded a 14.4-percent increase in investments to 5.9 billion U.S. dollars. Next to the Philippines are Indonesia with FDI increase of 6.8 percent to 8.3 billion U.S. dollars, and Vietnam, up 3 percent to 3.9 billion U.S. dollars. According to the UNCTAD report, the two other founding members of ASEAN suffered an FDI contraction, with Thailand recording a 54 percent decline in FDI inflows to 1.9 billion U.S. dollars in the first semester of 2013 while Singapore suffered a 7.9 percent drop to 25.9 billion U.S. dollars. UNCTAD said that in developing Asia, the recovery of FDI inflows was weak, which it attributed partly to a slowdown in economic growth and macroeconomic uncertainty as well as a slow demand in consumer markets in many investor countries. The report said that globally, FDI reached an estimated 745 billion U.S. dollars in the first six months of the year, up from 718 billion U.S. dollars a year ago but the inflow to developed economies declined.

It said the flows of FDI to developing and transition economies accounted for more than 60 percent of the global FDI, which it called "a record share." The release of the UNCTAD report came on the heels of a statement by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the country's central bank, that the net FDI inflow in the Philippines in July surged to 533 million U.S. dollars, a sharp 227 percent increase from the 163 million U.S. dollars recorded in the same period last year. "This reflected the continued confidence of investors in the Philippine economy on the back of strong macroeconomic fundamentals," the BSP said in a statement. In the first seven months up to July 2013, the net FDI inflow in the Philippines climbed 22 percent to 2.62 billion U.S. dollars from 2.14 billion U.S. dollars in the same period last year. The BSP expects net FDI inflow to reach 2.2 billion U.S. dollars this year, slightly above the 2 billion U.S. dollars in 2012. Meanwhile a top official of the Department of Trade and Industry has said that by passing up the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Philippine industries may lose a significant share of the U. S. market. "We cannot afford not to be part of the TPP because the United States is one of our largest markets. Our neighbors, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam, are part of that agreement. If we are not part of this agreement, our neighbors will get preferential tariffs and larger market access. In effect, this may diminish our market access," Trade Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. was quoted as saying in a report. According to Cristobal, among the sectors that may be significantly affected are the electronics and agriculture industries. The Philippines' top 5 exports to the United States are static converters, ignition wiring sets, electrical machinery, other digital monolithic integrated circuits and coconut (copra) oil.‐records‐2nd‐biggest‐fdi‐increase‐asean‐h1               

Tobacco firm ready to open books   November 5, 2013  

Manila, Philippines – Mighty Tobacco Corporation (MTC) is ready to publicly open its corporate records and face any probe, saying that it has nothing to hide after it was linked to reports of government losing R4.9-billion in cigarette revenues. MTC legal counsel Miguelito V. Ocampo expressed the Bulacan-based cigarette manufacturer’s readiness to face the post entry audit of importation being conducted by the Bureau of Customs (BoC) following reports that alleged questionable trade practices resulted in cigarette-tax revenue losses. “We welcome in particular the orders of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to look into our records of shipments and taxes paid,” he said in a press statement. “We are not hiding anything. Our operations, from sourcing of raw local and imported materials to manufacturing, withdrawals and marketing, are transparent and are strictly monitored and liquidated by the BOC and the BIR,” he said. The House Committee on Ways and Means led by Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo assured that it would look into the “mighty” companies that deprive the government’s rightful tax revenues. The assurance was made after lawmakers expressed concern about a media report that MTC imported seven million kilos of tobacco but paid only $4.786 million compared to another company that imported one million kilos of tobacco but paid $4.9 million. Ocampo dared the government to also look into the practices of “giant and powerful” cigarette companies, while citing the need for Congress to pass a trust law to protect Filipino producers. “It’s unfair that some of our competitors, using faceless organizations and pseudo economists and researchers, have been dishing out malicious and damaging information to the media that not only tended to undermine the integrity of government tax authorities but also accused us of misdeclaration and illegal withdrawals and that’s why, they said, we can sell cheap cigarettes in the market,” he said. The MTC legal counsel also branded as fallacious the report disclosing the huge increase in Mighty Corp.’s market share from three percent to 30 percent. “If we have increased our share of the market, it’s not our fault and neither it means we’re using fraud. Maybe they should look at the supply and demand side and adopt the right marketing strategy based on Republic Act 10351 or the new sin tax law,” Ocampo said.Lawmakers questioned the 30-percent market share of the Mighty Corp. when it started selling cigarettes at R16 per pack. The cigarette manufacturer only started with 3 percent share of the market. (Charissa M. Luci)‐firm‐ready‐to‐open‐books/ 

Malacanang to verify reports on expired relief goods by Madel Sabater ‐ Namit  November 5, 2013  

Malacanang on Tuesday said it will validate reports that some earthquake victims in Bohol have been receiving substandard and expired relief goods. Reports revealed that some residents have complained that they had received relief goods that emanated foul smell while some of the goods had already expired and can no longer be fit for human consumption. Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. however said these reports have to be validated. “First we have to validate,” he said. “Ang common understanding po natin makikita ito sa mga labels ng mga pagkain o ng mga gamot na best to consume before at nakalahad ‘yung date [Our common understanding is it can be seen in labels of food or medicine when it is best to consume and there is a date indicated],” Coloma said. Coloma said that if there are expired items found in the relief goods, the government will immediately take the necessary action. “Kung meron silang natuklasan na ganyang pangyayari, tiyak po na gagawan po nila ng karampatang aksyon. Agad na ititigil ‘yan at sisiyasatin kung paano naganap ang bagay na ‘yan [If there will be expired items found, then the necessary action will be taken. The distribution of these items will immediately be stopped and will be investigated],” he said. Coloma also assured that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is exercising due diligence in the procedure of handing over relief goods to the earthquake victims. “Sila po ay concerned hindi lamang sa paghahatid ng relief goods ngunit sa pagtiyak din sa kalusugan at kaligtasan ng mga mamamayan na kukuha nitong mga relief goods na ito [They are concerned not only in the delivery of relief goods but also in ensuring the health and safety of out citizens who will benefit from the relief goods],” Coloma said.‐to‐verify‐reports‐on‐expired‐relief‐goods/         

Anonymous Philippines holds protest march to Congress by Ron B. Lopez  November 5, 2013 (updated)  


Members of Anonymous Philippines hold dialogue with police officers, who later allowed the protesters to march near the vicinity of the Batasan Complex. (Photo by Ellson Quismorio) Members and supporters of hacking collective group Anonymous Philippines went “offline” to march to Batasang Pambansa complex Tuesday noon in protest of the rampant corruption of public funds in the country. After a confrontation with police officers who blocked the group after it gathered along Quezon City Circle, the group was allowed to continue with their “Million Mask March” near the vicinity of the House of Representatives. Wearing Guy Fawkes masks, members of the group said they are protesting the unbridled misused of billions of public funds by several lawmakers who reportedly got hefty kickbacks in exchange of their pork barrel. On Facebook, more than 1, 300 out of more than 5, 600 individuals invited have confirmed that they will be participating in the protest. The group has discouraged other protesters from using banners which would identify their organizations, in effort to keep the protest “anonymous.” The protest gained publicity after the activist group hacked at least 39 local and national government websites on Nov. 3, displaying their message on most of the hacked websites.

“The government, in many ways, has failed its Filipino citizens. We have been deprived of things which they have promised to give; what our late heroes have promised us to give,” the group said. The Million Mask March is a global protest of members of Anonymous collective from United States, Indonesia, Australia and other countries where members also have agreed to hold their own rallies. “You can sleep, sit, go on with your everyday routine just like a herd of sheep and watch as the government laugh at you. But if you see what we see, if you feel as we feel, and if you would seek as we seek… then we ask you to stand beside us,” the Anonymous members said.‐philippines‐holds‐protest‐march‐to‐congress/                                     

Bamboo seen as boost to Ifugao carvers By Desiree Caluza  Inquirer Northern Luzon   2:48 am | Wednesday, November 6th, 2013  


IFUGAO carvers (from left) Roldan Dulnuan Pait, Nestor Anabon and David Namalmag show off the products they carved from bamboo, a new material that they hope will turn around the local woodcarving industry. RICHARD BALONGLONG Ifugao wood carvers who have settled in Tuba town in Benguet province have started an industry that for years have been catering to local and foreign tourists visiting Baguio City. From the workshops of Asin village come mass-produced items which have become icons of sort in the summer capital. These included the Indian tribal chief of the American West, the “man in the barrel,” “bulul” (Ifugao rice granary guardian), and even ashtrays featuring a man’s sexual organ. But a group of carvers wants to veer away from these products and look for alternative, environment friendly materials to sustain the industry, which has given livelihood to many Ifugao families who have settled in Baguio and Benguet. Members of the Asin Bamboo Carvers Guild Inc. (ABCGI) say they have shifted to bamboo so they can offer unique and quality products to the market.

Roldan Dulnuan Pait, ABCGI president, says the concept started after a section of the city dump in Barangay Irisan collapsed in 2011, burying a portion of the Asin community in trash. Soon after the tragedy, the Philippine Bamboo Foundation Inc. (PBFI) introduced bamboo to the community as a soil erosion control to prevent landslides there. “The PBFI was also interested in the plight of wood carvers who eventually stopped carving because of the scarcity of hardwood. Carvers also work as small-scale miners and taxi drivers because the industry is dying,” Pait says. Alternative material “So the foundation thought, why not revive the industry without a single tree being cut? That’s when bamboo, as an alternative material, was introduced to the carvers,” he says. PBFI officials visited the community in 2011 to announce the foundation’s 1st Bamboo Carving Competition exclusively for Asin carvers to entice them to try the new material. They also explained to the carvers the foundation’s vision for the bamboo industry and its long-term economic benefits. The Asin carvers took the challenge and submitted 42 entries to the competition. After that, ABCGI members started joining exhibitions in Metro Manila’s shopping malls, enabling them to sell their bamboo carvings.

In September, the group, represented by Pait, exhibited its works during an international exports promotion seminar in India. The ABCGI has a permanent exhibit at Baguio’s White House on Leonard Wood Road. A bamboo nursery is also being maintained by local foresters and the PBFI there. New market “It is through these exhibits that we have realized that there is a market for bamboo carvings. We are not doing the usual designs anymore… we were told that we should elevate our work to the level of art, and do unique designs,” Pait says. He says their carvings now focus on themes, usually featuring Ifugao culture, tradition and folklore. Prices of each work range from P12,000 to P30,000, depending on the intricacy of the design. Their mass-produced items have attracted buyers who could get a bargain in bulk purchases. With the introduction of the fast-growing bamboo, Pait says carvers like him have found a sustainable way of reviving the industry.

“This will be continuous, we need to reforest and preserve our environment. For so many years, Asin wood carvers have been known as tree cutters. Now, we want to change that; we want to contribute in preserving the environment,” he says. Pait says the ABCGI is looking at patches of land in Asin, Teachers’ Camp, Atok town and even abandoned mine sites in Benguet to cultivate bamboo. “Bamboo grows fast. In three years, it can be harvested, unlike hardwood which takes 25 years to mature,” he says. ‘Better than hardwood’ Nestor Anabon, 51, says working his chisel to carve bamboo is hard. “At first, it was difficult because bamboo is harder than the wood which we used to carve. But I have gotten used to it and I found this material better than hardwood,” he says. Pait says it takes a carver two to three weeks to finish a bamboo carving, compared to hardwood, which takes only a few days to a week. “But bamboo carving is worth one’s time because we are doing works of art. Our mission is to sustain the Ifugao’s wood carving tradition,” he says.‐seen‐as‐boost‐to‐ifugao‐carvers#ixzz2jpYmetzo   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook                     

Editorial: Public‐private partnership in microfinancing   November 5, 2013  

The Philippines has been cited for its excellent performance in microfinance as well as for its public-private partnership (PPP) program as a development strategy for economic growth. Because of its microfinancing achievement, the Philippines was chosen to host the 2013 Microcredit Summit on October 9-11, 2013, with the theme, “Partnerships against Poverty: Government, Business, Finance, and Civil Society.” The Summit was the 16th to be held by the Microcredit Summit Campaign, in partnership with Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc. (MCPI), and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. The first Microcredit Summit took place in Washington, DC, in 1997. Some 800 participants from 69 countries convened for the summit. The delegates explored the roles that microfinance institutions, banks, payment providers, regulators, policy makers, and social development organizations play in programs to help address poverty. The Microcredit Summit Campaign, a project of the Results Educational Fund of America brings together microfinance practitioners, advocates, researchers, investors, and donors to promote best practices in the field, interchange of knowledge, and help 100 million poorest families lift themselves out of the world. The Manila Bulletin, led by its Chairman of the Board of Directors Dr. Emilio T. Yap, President and Publisher Atty. Hermogenes P. Pobre, Executive Vice President Dr. Emilio C. Yap III, Editor-in-Chief Dr. Cris J. Icban Jr., Business Editor Loreto D. Cabañes, Officers and Employees, congratulate the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas headed by Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr., Department of Budget and Management Secretary Florencio B. Abad, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, Microfinance Council of the Philippines Inc. Chairperson Mila M. Bunker, and Microcredit Summit Campaign Director Larry Reed, for their partnerships to bring the benefit of microfinancing to poor communities and uplift the lives of as many citizens of the world, including in our Republic of the Philippines. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY!‐public‐private‐partnership‐in‐microfinancing/             

Analysis: Facebook alternatives   November 5, 2013  

By: Clemens Schoell Berlin, Germany (DPA) – Despite critics’ warnings about data-security violations, ever-changing regulations and its lack of transparency, Facebook keeps reeling users in because of the lack of alternatives. But groups like Friendica or Diaspora hope to change the situation. Users who truly get tired of Facebook tend to first try out Google+ to see how it compares. ”When you consider data security, it’s already conceived of a little more carefully,” says Ralf Mengert, an official with the data security commissioner of the German state of Hesse. Michaela Zinke, from the German Association of Consumer Centres, also has praise for Google’s use of circles. Using circles forces the users to make conscious decisions about which content to share and with whom. But there are plenty of complaints about how Google treats user data. Those who opt to keep on trying will soon discover sites named Friendica and Diaspora. Unlike Facebook, both are decentralized. One’s own data doesn’t go to a giant computer server, but stays on one’s own computer. Both services offer trial periods. A list with open servers for Diaspora can be found at Those who want to try Friendica should check out This gets them a free seven-day trial period. The profile sites of both services have elements familiar to anyone who has used Facebook. The resemblance is intentional. The only thing missing is the box where Facebook prompts users to suggest other potential members. To make sure customers don’t log out as soon as they get there, Diaspora has taken an in-yourface approach. As soon as users sign up, they’re not only asked ”Who are you?” but given the option to directly link the page with their old Facebook account. Jo Bager of German computer magazine c’t sees chances of success with this approach. ”With Friendica, you can pull in a plug-in to get everything that’s going on on your Facebook feed, and can also use Friendica to post information on your Facebook feed.”

The approach keeps people on top of things without having to switch back and forth between services. In order to keep these networks up and running, Bager recommends also signing up friends and colleagues. Spending time in these virtual worlds will prove that privacy is taken more seriously here. Head to the settings and see how users can set a time period for entries to stay online before they automatically disappear. There are also plenty of sites out there that charge fees so they can manage without advertisements and selling personal information.‐facebook‐alternatives/                                   

Where have all the VAT collection gone?   November 5, 2013  

By: Milwida M. Guevara As undersecretary of Finance, my obsession in the ‘90s was to raise the tax effort to support economic growth. I thought we reached the pinnacle of success when the tax collection of the Ramos government reached 17 percent of GNP in 1997. Although this benchmark has not been achieved by the current government, growth been sustained, thanks to remittances from workers abroad, growth of services and infrastructure projects of government. But the cliché is that growth has not been inclusive and the poor been left out. For many of us, our grasp with poverty is defined by statistics, i.e. that 26.5 percent or about 25 million Filipinos live on P47.00 per day. I find meaning to these numbers almost every day in my work with public schools. In Maguindanao, the biggest problem of schools is not the lack of classrooms, nor the lack of teachers. A big number of children drop out of school every year. Studies say that they lack interest in schooling or that parents do not prioritize education. Nothing is farthest from the truth. There is nothing in the world that parents would like except for their children to finish schooling. But their lack of income gives the children no alternative. They have to work as domestic helpers, help in the farm and help their parents earn a living. Even if the law provides that access to basic education is free, parents need to have a decent income to send their children to school. Money is needed for school uniforms, notebooks, project materials, and transport. In some places like Maguindanao, parents have to pool funds so that teachers can be hired. In Sabaken National High School in Upi 7 out of 12 teachers are called teacher-aides because they are communitypaid. Teacher-aides receive from P1,500 to P4,000 a month. In cases where parents no longer have any money to contribute, their children are forced to drop out of school. But this is not without the protestation of teachers. Teacher Araceli contributes for the share of 5 students. Teacher Pet left his work as a teacher of English in China and Vietnam and opts to stay in Upi. He has been waiting for a regular appointment for the last two years. And so I ask where have all the VAT revenues gone? The expansion of the VAT in 1995 made it a buoyant revenue source. In 2012, the VAT generated almost P465 billion. In strengthening the VAT, we were all driven by passion because it was dedicated to Mang Pandoy. We wanted him and all his peers to have access to health and to education. Our dream was to give the poor a life with dignity. It has been almost 18 years since then and ordinary people, especially the poor, are not better off. We all have to bear the inefficiencies of expenditure mismanagement be it in traffic, river pollution, mushrooming of squatters, anarchic transport system, and squabbles among government officials. And so the lesson that we learn is that it is not just about revenues, but how well revenues are spent. Increasing collection is not an end by itself. There has to be equal fervor, and advocacy in budget management. While there have been reforms on participatory management and performance budgeting, we still have to see that revenues are spent to get all the children to school, reduce maternal deaths to zero, and a complete production chain for the poor.

Government tells us to look at how it has increased its spending for health, education and 4Ps. But outcomes show that amounts have increased but the efficiency in public spending has not. Could it be that budgets are still made based on inputs, instead of on outcomes? What right has a public official to remain in office if he fails to deliver results? Could it be that major responsibilities remain to be assumed by the central government despite the law that devolved them to local governments? Could it be that the budget remains driven by the central government and efforts to listen to communities are at the fringes? Clearly, the system does not work and needs more than incremental changes. Government needs to do more listening than explaining.‐have‐all‐the‐vat‐collection‐gone/                                         

Country benefited from AFTA despite huge trade deficit by Bernie Magkilat  November 5, 2013  

The ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) agreement should not be interpreted as non-beneficial to the Philippines just because it has incurred a huge trade deficit with the entire region, Trade and Industry Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. said. “The Philippines does have a trade deficit in its total trade with fellow ASEAN member states, but to interpret this as not beneficial is incorrect,” Cristobal said in a text message. For instance, he said, Philippine exports to ASEAN members grew at an impressive rate of 20.4% per year in 1992-2008. About 19% of the country’s exports already go to ASEAN markets. “A look at our top imports for the past several years show that the types of products are not locally produced (oil, mineral fuels,) or not produced sufficiently (cereals, i.e. rice) or we are not yet competitive in (autos),” he explained. In addition, ASEAN provides better alternative source of imports for key inputs, raw materials, critical finished products or components in global value chains. “But in all of these, FTAs are actually neutral. What will translate FTAs to benefits are industry vision and action. Hence, importance of collaboration between industries and government through, for instance, roadmaps; as well as conscious efforts to raise awareness on free trade areas (FTAs) and issues faced by industries particularly exporters – through doing business in FTAs,” he said. He said the DTI is going to achieve target of it 100+ DBFTAs nationwide focused on ASEAN Economic Community by end 2013. Just recently, Cristobal made a presentation before the members of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry showing the Philippines trade deficit with ASEAN for the past five years. Based on his presentation, the highest trade deficit was incurred in 2008 with $7.543 billion followed by $5.601 billion in 2011 and $5,124 billion in 2009. Lower trade deficits were incurred in 2012 with $4.307 billion and in 2010 with $3.947 billion. It can be gleaned from the data that oil imports account for the bulk of the Philippines imports from her fellow ASEAN countries. Other huge imports from ASEAN include rice, petrochemicals, and automotives. With the Philippines nearly becoming self-sufficient in rice production, the country is expected to incur lower volume of rice imports from Thailand and Vietnam.

The country’s top ten imports from ASEAN include electrical, electronic equipment with 20 percent share of total followed by mineral fuels, oils and distillation product group to account for 14.8 percent. Importation of machinery, nuclear reactors, boilers accouant for 11.4 percent while motor vehicles account for 8.9 percent of total imports from ASEAN. Other imports include plastics and articles thereof; miscellaneous edible preparations; animal, vegetable fasts and oils, cleavage products; cereals; essential oils, perfumes, cosmetics, toiletries; and optical, photo, technical, medical. Electrical and electronic equipment is the single largest export product of the Philippines to ASEAN with a whopping 59.5 percent of its total exports to the region. Other exports are machinery, nuclear reactors, boilers for 8.4 percent while motor vehicles contributed 5.1 percent. Other exports include mineral fuels, oils and distillation products; optical, photo, technical, medical apparatus; copper and articles thereof; tobacco and manufactured tobacco cereal, flour, starch, milk preparations and products and fertilizers. Based on the statistics, Cristobal noted that the country’s trade with ASEAN is largely intraindustry in nature meaning the Philippines trade in products belonging to the same industries. “We export intermediate electronic components but we also import finished products. We sell Thailand motor vehicle parts, they sell us motor vehicles,” he said. This makes the country’s trade relations with ASEAN largely complementary rather than competitive in nature. Indeed, ASEAN countries trade less among each other than the world. This is evident in the overall ASEAN region’s trade figures. Total intra-ASEAN trade is placed at $33 billion, but the entire 10 ASEAN member countries’ imports from the world amounted to $1.243 trillion and exports to the world of $1.265 billion.‐benefited‐from‐afta‐despite‐huge‐trade‐deficit/           

Gov’t starts monitoring quality, prices of products for Christmas holidays By Maila Ager   5:38 pm | Tuesday, November 5th, 2013  

MANILA, Philippines—The government on Tuesday started its “heightened” monitoring quality and prices of products for the holidays like Christmas lights and Noche Buena items beginning with populated malls and establishments in Divisoria, Manila. And on the first day of monitoring, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo and Senator Bam Aquino, chairman of the Senate committee on trade, reported at least one violation by a retailer who was caught selling Christmas lights with no ICC (Import Commodity Clearance) sticker. Domingo said the retailer was given until 48 hours to explain why he was selling the product without the required ICC sticker. Such violation, Domingo said, entails a penalty of P5,000 up to P1 million “depending on the gravity of the offense.” “Yung tao namin sa DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) will determine the gravity of the fine,” he said. The “special market monitoring” conducted by the DTI along with the committee on trade and the local government of Manila was being conducted to ensure that only certified Christmas lights are in the market and that establishments sell Noche Buena products within specified suggested retail prices (SRPs), Aquino said in a statement Monday. He said the joint monitoring team will post information materials on the list of certified brands of Christmas lights and on the SRPs of Noche Buena products “to guide the establishments on their sale and distribution, and also to assist the consumers in their purchases.” “The DTI also aims to lessen the sale of uncertified brands of Christmas lights and to prevent unwarranted price increases for Noche Buena products,” said the senator. While the government is doing its job to monitor the products being sold in the market, Aquino urged business owners as well as consumers to do their parts. He said business owners should be responsible while the consumers should know how to spend their money wisely.

“Huwag masisilaw sa mura, kailangan tingnan talaga, kilatisin ang presyo, kalidad, tamang stickers o mga product standards para hindi masayang ang pera na pinaghirapan natin (Let us not be lured by cheap products. We should really look at the prices, quality, proper stickers and product standards so our hard-earned money will not be wasted), he said. Aquino then saw the need for an intensified information campaign on consumers’ rights, and the need for the establishments of more consumer desks at least in major malls in the country. “Our effort is to really bring out more information regarding consumer rights, being responsible business owners. Hopefully, hindi lang ito tungkol sa (this is not all about) enforcement,” he said. The senator said the laws were sufficient to protect consumers’ welfare but “implementation is really the key.” “Kailangan talaga malaman ng tao kung ano ang karapatan nila. For example, kahit wala kang warrant basta may resibo, meron kang implied na warranty na 60 days. Kung merong tindahan na sabi sa iyo na wala kang warranty, basta naipakita mo ang resibo mo, may implied warranty. (The consumers should really know their rights. For example, even if you have no warranty but if you have a receipt, then you have an implied warranty of 60 days. If there are stores that would tell you that you don’ have a warranty, just show your receipt and you have an implied warranty),” he pointed out. “’Yan ang hindi alam ng mga namimili sa ating bayan. So kailangan may (information campaign) tayo na alam ng mga consumers ang mga karapatan nila at kung sino ang puwede nilang takbuhan (The consumers in our country don’t know that. We should have information campaign so that the consumers will know their rights and where they can go),” Aquino added.‐starts‐monitoring‐quality‐prices‐of‐products‐for‐christmas‐ holidays                 

BSP: Gov’t borrowing costs down due to excess cash By Paolo G. Montecillo  Philippine Daily Inquirer   5:21 am | Wednesday, November 6th, 2013       

Excess funds circulating in the country’s financial system helped lower the government’s borrowing costs this week, according to the central bank. Money being withdrawn from special deposit accounts (SDA) have created a temporary spike in demand for all available investment instruments—from government securities to bank deposits— in the financial system, said Diwa C. Guinigundo, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) deputy governor. The BSP earlier this year ordered the withdrawal of individual investments from the facility. As a result, the financial system is now awash in cash. The SDA was originally envisioned as a tool monetary authorities could use to siphon off excess liquidity from the financial system and prevent consumer prices from surging. Recently, however, it became an investment haven for fund managers in search of low-risk finance instruments—something the BSP sought to correct. Guinigundo said the SDA funds helped push down treasury bill rates, which banks use to price loans to clients. In recent government auctions, the rates have reached record lows. Last Monday, the yield on six-month treasury bills fell to a record low of 0.001 percent, identical to returns on shorter term 91-day government debt notes. However, once all affected funds are withdrawn from SDAs by the end of November, the yields on government securities and interest rates offered by banks will start to normalize, he said. “As soon as the adjustment in SDA is over, I think we will see some developments that may alter interest rate movements in the economy,” Guinigundo said. Another factor that may push borrowing costs up is the tapering of the US Federal Reserve’s bond-buying program, which the market has been anticipating since June. The US Federal Reserve currently buys up to $45 billion of mortgage backed securities and government treasuries every month. This finances bulk of the US government’s deficit and keeps interest rates down, helping the US economy recover from the 2008 crisis. Once this tap of liquidity is shut, Guinigundo said, interest rates around the world will start to increase.‐govt‐borrowing‐costs‐down‐due‐to‐excess‐cash 

Another super typhoon threatens PH By Rio N. Araja | Posted 8 hours ago | 583 views Experts warned that another super-typhoon could hit the Philippines on Thursday even as Tropical Depression “Wilma,” which dissipated into a low-pressure area in the Central Visayas, threatened to re-intensify into a storm. Weather forecaster Gladys Saludes of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said the United States military’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii spotted Tropical Storm “Haiyan” over the Caroline Islands on Tuesday. Saludes said the storm was moving toward the country with maximum winds of 115 kph and gusts of up to 146 kph and will be named “Yolanda” when it enters Philippine jurisdiction. It is expected to make landfall in the Eastern Visayas region on Thursday morning . Also on Tuesday, the LPA that was formerly called “Wilma” was already 250 km west northwest of Puerto Princesa City near the boundary of PAR at 4 p.m. and is expected re-intensify into a storm as it moves toward Vietnam. Even after the departure of Wilma, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council will remain on red alert because of Yolanda and various local governments have issued their own alert notices.In the Eastern Visayas, regional disaster council chairman Rey Gozon directed all local government officials to take necessary measures to prevent or minimize the destruction of life and property. In Tacloban City, disaster official Isabelo Lagutan said they have already identified several evacuation centers in the city with the primary one located at the Tacloban Astrodome. In nearby Albay, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda also ordered cities, towns and villages to prepare and undertake “preemptive evacuations.” “Now is the time to prepare. We ask the various disaster risk reduction and management offices from cities, towns and barangays to start reviewing their response strategies to the impact of floods, flashfloods, landslides, storm surges and strong winds on exposed households and critical resources,” Salceda said. The Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office has called up emergency meetings with the local disaster agencies and the ‘preemptive evacuation” may be ordered soon. Salceda said households near riverbanks, lahar and mountain slopes should start preparing their evacuation kits and familiarize thelselves with their evacuation routes and evacuation camps. The governor noted that since newly elected barangay officials have yet begin their term on Nov. 30, incumbent baranagay officials should collaborate with their successors for the sake of their zero casualty goal. With Frank Tuyay and Ronald Reyes‐super‐typhoon‐threatens‐ph/ 

GMO rice up for mass market in 2 years By AFP | Posted 8 hours ago | 48 views The first genetically-modified rice to be commercially available could be approved for production in the Philippines in two to three years, researchers said Tuesday, despite strong opposition from environmental groups. Officers of both the International Rice Research Institute and the Philippine government’s agriculture department said the newly-developed “golden rice” had completed field trials, despite vandalism at one test field. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said he was open to testing “because if if we don’t do this, it’s like saying that we are not allowing our country to advance.” Studies on GMO rice are ongoing, he said. “We should make sure that it is safe to eat. If it is safe, then we can mass produce it,” he said. One of the most popular and advanced example GM rice that researchers are working on is the Golden Rice. “Golden rice is coming. That is in the pipeline and a lot of the principal development and research has been completed,” said Achim Dobermann, deputy director-general of IRRI. “At the moment, there is no GM (genetically-modified) rice officially released in any country,” he stressed. He said China was working on a pest-resistant variety of GM rice, but it was unknown when they would release it commercially. Dobermann said that depending on the length of the approval process, it could take a minimum of “two to three years” before seeds are ready to be distributed to farmers. Field trials of the rice, a genetically-modified organism (GMO), have been completed in the Philippines and it is now set to undergo tests to determine if it is safe to consume and propagate, said Antonio Alfonso, coordinator of the Agriculture Department’s biotechnology programme. With Anna Leah Estrada‐rice‐up‐for‐mass‐market‐in‐2‐years/       

HK to PH: Apology or sanctions By Manila Standard Today | Posted 8 hours ago | 342 views Hong Kong has threatened sanctions against the Philippines on Tuesday over a row involving the deaths of its tourists in a 2010 hostage crisis in Manila. The southern Chinese city is demanding a formal apology from President Benigno III for the incident, which saw eight of its citizens killed and seven others wounded after negotiations broke down between Philippine authorities and a former police officer who hijacked a tour bus. “Unless, within a month, there are concrete steps taken to resolve this issue, the government will take necessary actions to apply sanctions,” chief executive Leung Chun-ying said, without going into specifics. “I urge the Philippines government and/or the Manila municipal government to quickly come up with a proposal to respond to the families of the deceased and the requests of the injured,” he added, without specifying what actions Hong Kong may take. “We still have a long way to go,” Leung said. “I fully understand the disappointment among the victims and the families, which is shared by the community at large.” Hong Kong lawmakers will debate tomorrow a non-binding motion calling for sanctions against the Philippines, including the suspension of talks on air rights and trade, as well as cultural exchanges. “I now announce the Hong Kong government will take necessary actions unless substantial progress is made within one month,” Leung said. Filipinos made up about 1.9 percent of the population in Hong Kong, with most of them working as domestic helpers, according to the 2011 census. But Hong Kong’s demands for an apology was dismissed by a Malacanang spokesman, who said that Aquino had already made his stand that he would not admit a wrongdoing that is not his. Presidential Communication Operation Office said that Aquino has already offered his condolences and has addressed the issue several times. “The President has already addressed that issue in several occasions. He have answered three to four questions from the past regarding that matter,” Coloma said, adding that Aquino twice answered the issue in a recent forum with Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippine and during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Bali. In Bali, Aquino met with Leung to offer his condolences, but maintained that the country as a whole was not directly responsible for the tragedy.

Coloma said that while the government will not change its position, “whatever their (HK government) action will be, we hope this will not affect our friendship.” “We hope that in the coming days, friendship and cooperation between the people of the Philippines and the people of Hong Kong will flourish.” Leung blamed the apparent incompetence of the police during the hostage-taking incident, which he said outraged the residents of Hong Kong, a city accustomed to low crime rates, and saw relations with the Southeast Asian country nosedive. Rolando Mendoza, a dismissed police officer, shot down eight Hong Kong tourists and injured seven others after a botched negotiation. He was later killed by the police. Mendoza had taken hostage a busfull of tourists near the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta on August 23, 2010 to demand that authorities reinstate him to his post. Since then, Hong Kong has maintained a travel warning to the country, while the city’s lawmakers have mooted a cancellation of its visa-free arrangement for visitors from the Philippines as well as possible trade sanctions. More than 160,000 Philippine nationals reside in Hong Kong, with most working as domestic helpers. Bilateral trade between the two totalled some $8.2 billion in 2012. In October, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada offered to issue an apology for the hostage-taking incident, and offered compensation of US$75,000 to each family of the deceased and up to US$150,000 to those injured, media reports said. But the families involved in the hostage crisis have not accepted the money, saying the amount was too low. Manila councilor and Estrada’s representative to the negotiations Bernardito Ang reported that that Hong Kong authorities and representatives of the victims remained adamant in demanding an official apology from Aquino. HK authorities said that they were asking for Aquino’s apology because during the hostagetaking incident, there was ‘intervention’ from the national government when local officials tried to rescue the HK tourists held hostage by Mendoza. Aside from the travel ban it issued against Manila, HK congressmen has proposed to suspend visa-free access for Filipino visitors to Hong Kong. In a separate interview, Vice President Jejomar Binay said that he will most likely ask for reconsideration once this proposal pushes through.

“We may ask a petition to reconsider [to the Hong Kong auhtority] but that will be their decision,” Binay said over a television interview. The Department of Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario, meanwhile, said that it has been working “quietly” to achieve a mutually satisfactory conclusion with the Hong Kong government to restore diplomatic relationship. “We are working quietly to achieve a result that is mutually satisfactory,” he said. On Monday, DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said that the foreign affairs is closely monitoring if it is indeed true that Hong Kong may suspension of visa-free privileges through the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong. He said that they hope to “de-link” the Manila Hostage crisis issue from other aspects of Philippines-Hong Kong relations and that they look forward for continued healthy exchange of tourists. “Both Hong Kong and the Philippines are attractive tourist destinations for Filipinos and Hong Kong resudents, respectively. We look forward to the continued healthy exhange of travellers from both side,” He said.‐to‐ph‐apology‐or‐sanctions/                         

Many illegal OFWs opt to stay in Saudi By Sara Susanne D. Fabunan | Posted 8 hours ago | 117 views The Foreign Affairs Department said on Tuesday that the reason why there were still thousands of OFWs in Saudi Arabia who failed to beat the November 3 deadline to correct their status was because most of them did not act decisively. DFA Secretary Albert Del Rosario said that during the grace period given by the Saudi government, there were initially 11,000 Filipinos who trooped to Philippine embassy and consulate offices in Saudi for assistance, but as the days went by, the figure went down to only 6,000. “We don’t know what happened to the rest. They think that the correction period will be extended. Maybe they thought they will have more time to correct,” Del Rosario said. The DFA chief said there is a specific process that needs to be followed for repatriation and the correction of status, but “aside from that, he said that the Filipinos were “indecisive”. “Filipinos do not make a quick decision. It is also a process in terms of their decision making. Not very decisive,” he said. Another factor that slowed down the process was due to the number of cases filed against OFWs by their employers. “These need to be clarified before they can be repatriated.” He added that some Filipinos also opted to take the risk of staying in the kingdom as undocumented workers. “That’s a question I cannot answer because the nature of the status of these people undocumented as they are. We don’t really know how many undocumented there are. There could be more,” he said. According to official figures provided by the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, there are 660,000 Filipinos in Saudi Arabia, but several groups said there may be as many as 1.2 million Filipinos in the kingdom. A large chunk of them may be undocumented, the groups said. The DFA chief’s statement stood in contrast to an earlier claim by a source that the Saud immigration officials also are to be blamed for the slow issuance of exit visa. On Saturday, the source said that Filipinos who have been processed by the Philippine government cannot come home, because the (Saudi) government “is too slow” in issuing exit visa.

“They have been releasing their exit visas one by one, most especially during the observance of Ramadan [last July and August],” said the source, who was privy to the government efforts to repatriate illegal Filipino workers in the kingdom. After Ramadan, the source said, the Saudi government picked up the pace of the issuance of exit visas, but only to two or three at a time. Another cause of delay is the change in working days which the Saudi government implemented to harmonize its activities with regional commercial hubs, such as Dubai. The Saudi government recently switched the start of the weekend from Thursday to Friday. That means, the source said, Philippine representatives can only coordinate with the Saudi authorities from Monday to Wednesday only. Del Rosario also admitted that there is no guarantee that OFWS twh are still processing their papers for repatriation or regularization would not be arrested by the Saudi police as the crackdown starts. But although there was no guarantee, Del Rosario assured the 1,600 people under their care will not be arrested. “We don’t have such guarantee. But we know they won’t be arrested,” he said, referring to the OFWS who have camped outside the the Philippine missions in Riyadh and Jeddah. Rey Catapang of the department’s Middle East Affairs, urged Filipinos camping outside the consulate general in Jeddah to take shelter in the facilities provided by the Philippine government. Two days after the Saudi Arabia implemented its crackdown on illegal foreign workers, del Rosario said that so far there have been no reports of Filipinos arrested. He said that as contingency plan, the DFA have formed teams that will visit detention centers, police stations and jails to check if there are already Filipinos arrested from the crackdown. Del Rosario said the teams were formed to also check on reports of abuse, after a number of Filipina OFW complained that they were treated “like animals” by their employers. One of the complainants was identified as Amor Roxas, a domestic helper Amor Roxas, and another unidentified OFW, Roxas alleged that Saudi police rounded them up and placed them in a crowded cell for four days. They were then paraded from immigration to the airport with their feet chained, claimed another woman in the group.

Del Rosario said they were seeking to interview the women to check on their complaints. Embassy staff in Saudi had said that they had not seen signs of abuse in an initial inspection of detention cells. Del Rosario added that Filipino diplomats were in touch with the oil-rich kingdom’s human rights council to ensure the protection of Filipino workers there. Del Rosario acknowledged that many of the remaining Filipinos in Saudi Arabia could be there illegally and could face detention and arrest if caught. “If they are arrested, I think it is very clear that they will be detained in preparation for their deportation,” he said. Meanwhile, the Labor Department said that it was ready to provide an array of re-integration services to thousands of OFWs in Saudi Arabia who would be affected by the “Nitaqat” or Saudization of the Kingdom. Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said that DoLE in coordination with the DFA, Continues to fast-track the return home of OFWs in Saudi. Baldoz directed Overseas Workers Welfare Administration chief Carmelita S. Dimzon to be on “full assistance mode” for the expected arrival of more than 4,000 OFWs who are still waiting for their plane tickets. Dimzon said the government’s OFW welfare agency will provide the repatriates with free psycho-social counseling, shelter, food and transportation money for their trip back to their home provinces and, when they are already settled, retraining on various skills. The reintegration package includes skills training and re-training and entrepreneurial assistance. The OWWA also provides referrals to its social partners for, say, easy-to-pay financial loans for those who would like to venture into business. For those who wish to work, the DOLE will provide them job facilitation services. With Vito Barcelo and AFP‐illegal‐ofws‐opt‐to‐stay‐in‐saudi/             

CCP calls Aquino names, hackers set more attacks By AFP | Posted 8 hours ago | 438 views The Communist Party of the Philippines on Tuesday tagged President Benigno Aquino III as “The Lord of Thieves” in answer to his declaration on Oct. 31 on national television that he was not a thief. The group made its statement even as some 100 masked members of the hacking group Anonymous Philippines marched on the House of Representatives the same day, denouncing corruption and pledging more cyber attacks a week after 30 government websites were paralyzed. The hackers—wearing Guy Fawkes masks—faced off with dozens of riot police outside the House in Quezon City, blocking the road and bringing traffic to a standstill for around an hour. “We are here today to press for a new system of government,” said one of the leaders who did not give his name. “We are everyone and anyone. We will not go away and we will continue with our activities.” The CPP in a statement said “Aquino’s declaration [on Oct. 31] is as lacking in credibility and persuasiveness as Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s 2004 ‘I am sorry’ spiel. “In 2005 government television aired Arroyo seeking forgiveness for having called an election officer during the canvassing of the votes in the 2004 elections,” the CPP said. “Just like Arroyo, Aquino went on television last week amid the sharp fall in the survey ratings of the ruling government. “Contrary to his vehement denials, Aquino is the Lord of Thieves as he currently sits on top of the rotten heap that is the Philippine bureaucratic capitalist state, which has not changed significantly over the past half a century in terms of corruption. “He is as much a thief as the worst of the bureaucrat capitalists, the big compradors and hacienderos who have made use of their control or influence on state policy to advance their economic and political interests.” Mostly dressed in black, the hackers chanted anti-government slogans and held placards that read: “The corrupt fear us, the honest support us, the heroic, join us.” Last week, the group launched simultaneous cyber attacks that temporarily paralyzed more than 30 government websites.

They defaced the sites with messages calling on the public to support their cause. The government says it will prosecute members of the group, but has conceded it is yet to determine their identities. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Tuesday the NBI’s cybercrime division had been ordered to track down the hackers. “They should be investigated because, as we all know, hacking disrupts public service,” De Lima said. The global activist network Anonymous has carried out a number of attacks and threats in recent weeks. The Indonesia group claimed last week it had defaced more than 170 Australian websites while the Singapore government boosted its defenses after a threat. In the Philippines, the movement is protesting against the perceived corruption in the House and the Senate over the misuse of billions of dollars of development funds by politicians. Aquino was hit by the scandal after one of the senators named in the case alleged that his office had misused funds. Last week, with public anger growing, Aquino went on national television to publicly declare that he was “not a thief” in an attempt to head off the growing crisis that threatens to derail his political agenda. With Fred Villareal and Rey E. Requejo‐calls‐aquino‐names‐hackers‐set‐more‐ attacks/                   

‘Sweetie’ snares pedophiles in online sex By AFP | Posted 8 hours ago | 114 views The Hague — A Dutch rights group said Monday it had identified over 1,000 pedophiles around the world by offering online sex with a computer-generated 10-year-old Filipina girl called Sweetie. Terre des Hommes Netherlands has now handed over to police the identities of those who were willing to pay children in developing countries for online sex, a growing phenomenon, it said. Sweetie. These handout pictures released on Nov. 4 by Terre des Hommes Netherlands, a Dutch rights group, show computer-generated pictures of a 10-year-old Filipina called Sweetie that helped identify over 1,000 pedophiles around the world. AFP “They were ready to pay Sweetie for sexual acts in front of her webcam,” the rights group’s head Albert Jaap van Santbrink told journalists in The Hague. The group said it wanted to raise the alarm about a largely unknown but quickly spreading new form of child exploitation that has tens of thousands of victims in the Philippines alone, known as webcam child sex tourism. Sweetie was created by the child rights group and deployed in Internet chat rooms from a remote building in Amsterdam. Within a 10-week period, over 20,000 predators from 71 countries approached Sweetie, asking for webcam sex performances. In one exchange, a man named “Older4young”, identified as a 35-year-old father of two from Atlanta in the United States, asks Sweetie to undress for $10. “Turn on your cam. I’m horny,” the man wrote. While they were chatting with the “girl”, researchers gathered information about her customers through social media. Using this information, researchers identified the abusers and passed the information on to police. “The biggest problem is that the police don’t take action until child victims file reports, but children almost never report these crimes,” said head of campaigns Hans Guyt. The men involved were “fathers, musicians, an architect”, Santbrink told AFP.

They “come from all over the world, from America, Europe, but also from countries like India, Japan, Korea”, said Guyt. The rights group said they used the same procedures as the police. “But OK, we are not prosecutors, we are not judges, it will be for them to decide what to do with the elements we gave them,” Guyt said. The researchers involved found the experience shocking. “To put yourself in the shoes of a 10-year-old Filipina girl and seeing what some men want from you has been a shocking experience for them,” he said. “Some demands and acts were really obscene.” Terre des Hommes said that they did not approach anyone on the Internet but instead waited for people to approach Sweetie and ask for sex acts. The rights group also stopped the conversation as soon as someone offered Sweetie money for sex acts. “It is obvious that we did not show these people any sexual acts, we stopped before that,” Van Santbrink said. The rights group wants police around the world to have a mandate to actively patrol chat rooms where the abuse is taking place. “The child predators doing this now feel that the law doesn’t apply to them. The Internet is free, but not lawless,” said Guyt. According to the UN and the FBI, there are over 750,000 child predators online at any given moment, Terre des Hommes said, also announcing an online petition to pressure governments to adopt proactive investigation policies. Yet only six people have been convicted of engaging in webcam child sex tourism in the world, the rights group said. “It would have been easy with greater resources to identify 10,000 people,” Guyt said.‐snares‐pedophiles‐in‐online‐sex/       

Farmers lose land to property developers By Fred Villareal | Posted 8 hours ago | 89 views Angeles City, Pampanga—About 1,000 farmers and peasant families in Porac municipality have been evicted from the land they claimed their forefathers occupied since the Spanish colonial times, but were now titled under the name of property developers, a farmers group said. Joseph Canlas, Chairman of the Alyansang Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luson (AMGL), said the farmers and peasant families were driven out by armed security guards, “their farms bulldozed and their crops destroyed.” “The guards snatched away their livestock and poultry,” Canlas said. Canlas identified the three companies as Leonardo-Lachenal-Leonia Holdings Inc (LHI), FL Property Management Corp (FL Corp), and Ayala Land. The area, which covered about 2,099 hectares, is located near the interchange of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway. AMGL organized a fact-finding team into the area last week to look into the issue. The team include representatives from schools and religious groups such as the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Social-Pastoral Apostolate of Holy Family Academy and St. Scholastica’s Academy. Canlas said the three companies harassed and filed charges against the farmers to drive them out of their properties, making them sign waiver or voluntary surrender of their lands. He said LHI was claiming 298 hectares, while FL Corp grabbed 456 hecatres covering the lowland and a portion that stretches to the adjacent peak. Ayala Land has announced that it planned to develop 1,000 hectares into a housing project similar to their Nuvali property in Sta. Rosa City in Laguna, Canlas said. “LHI, FL Corp and Ayala Land violated the rights of the farmers, who were barred from attending to their farms since 2011,” Canlas said.

Non-working holiday in Bohol and Zambo declared By Joel E. Zurbano | Posted 8 hours ago | 18 views The Commission on Elections has asked President Benigno Aquino III to set Nov. 25 as nonworking holiday in Bohol and Zamboanga City to hold special village polls. In its Resolution 9807 promulgated on Oct. 30, the Commission en banc led by Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said “there is a need to declare Nov. 25, 2013 as a special non-working holiday in Zamboanga City and in the province of Bohol to afford registered voters therein the opportunity to participate fully in the said Special Barangay Elections.” The poll body decided to postpone the Oct. 28 voting because Bohol suffered heavy losses in the recent 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Central Visayas while Zamboanga City was still recovering from the attack by Moro National Liberation Front early September. The Comelec said 536 school buildings in 22 Bohol towns were damaged while several school buildings and other structures were attacked and burned in Zamboanga. The Comelec cited Section 5 of the Omnibus Election Code, allowing the deferrment of elections because of a calamity. The Bohol provincial board has passed a resolution asking the Comelec for postponement. The commission also promulgated another resolution to hold a special barangay electionin 12 villages in Pikit, North Cotabato. The en banc came up with a resolution after lawyer Bartolome Sinocruz Jr., Comelec deputy executive director for operations and project management office director, recommended voting on Nov. 8. Reports showed that Comelec officials were “constrained to stop the voting in 12 barangays in the area on October 28 when they found out that it was conducted not in the designated voting centers” in the villages of Bagoainged, Balabak, Balong, Balungis, Barungis, Bualan, Buliok, Bulol, Gukotan, Makabual, Rajah Muda and Talitay.

Inflation accelerates to 2.9% By Jennifer Ambanta | Posted 8 hours ago | 15 views The inflation rate increased to 2.9 percent in October, the fastest in seven months, on the back of higher food prices after typhoons disrupted supply, the National Statistics Office said Tuesday. The NSO said prices of non-alcoholic beverages, clothing and footwear also contributed to the rise in inflation. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, however, said price pressures in October would not be carried over to November and December despite the inflation uptick in October. “We believe, as we emphasized earlier on, that this is going to be one-off. Hopefully by November and December, the price pressures would have subsided and we don’t expect the price pressures that we saw in October to slide down to November and December,” BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo told reporters. Alvin Ang, president of the Philippine Economic Society, said the rise in inflation was not alarming. “It is still within the range set by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas,” he said in a text message to the Manila Standard. Data from the NSO showed excluding selected food and energy items, core inflation picked up to 2.5 percent in October from 2.3 percent in September. The NSO said inflation rate in the National Capital Region remained the lowest at 1.1 percent, unchanged from its September level. “In areas outside NCR, inflation moved faster at 3.4 percent in October from 3.1 percent in September. Higher annual mark-ups were posted in the indices of food and non-alcoholic beverages; clothing and footwear; housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels; and recreation and culture,” the NSO said in the report. Headline inflation year-to-date was pegged at 2.8 percent while core inflation stood at 2.9 percent. Guinigundo said the October inflation remained within the central bank’s forecast for the month. “Remember our projection is 2.8 percent to 3.6 percent, in other words, the actual 2.9 for October was right within the forecast range, in fact closer to the lower end,” he said.

“In short, when we did forecast in February, we knew and we recognized the impact of the natural calamities, we have typhoons and to a certain extent the calamities in Bohol and Cebu. Food prices were [also] reported to have gone up,” he said. Guinigundo did not discount the possibility that inflation rate in 2014 and 2015 could go up. “Maybe, because of base effects. [But] we still believe that 2014 and 2015 would continue to show an inflation performance that is within the target range of the BSP,” he said. The central bank earlier projected the inflation rate in 2014 at 4 percent and 3.4 percent for 2015. Guinigundo also said the BSP’s monetary policy stance remained appropriate and he did not see any change in policy rates soon. “We managed to hold our policy rates steady because one, inflation remains very benign. Two, the economy does not need additional push because the economy is growing and economic pace is very robust,” he said. With Julito G. Rada

Foreign investments to reach $4b, says DTI By Othel V. Campos | Posted 8 hours ago | 42 views The government expects a 40- percent increase in foreign direct investments to $4 billion in 2013 from $2.8 billion last year, the Trade Department said Tuesday. “Despite the gap in data collection, our FDI is increasing a lot now. We should be in the range of as much as $8 billion now if the data is properly collated. Nevertheless, investments are happening as we speak and this will go on well into the future,” Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said in an interview. Direct foreign investments in 2012 rose 55 percent to $2.8 billion from $1.8 billion in 2011. Investments in the first five months reached $2.6 billion, putiing Trade’s target on track. The department, however, expressed concern that multinational corporations in the Philippines were expanding through domestic credits and not by foreign direct investment. “While doing their investments here, they are funding them locally. And they’re not coming out as FDI. To me, local funding is okay so long as there is excess fund. But if there is a shortage of funds, then it’s not good,” said Domingo. He noted foreign companies were borrowing locally because of much liquidity in the domestic banking system. As much as two-thirds of the investments in the Philippines come from domestic companies and that many of the multinational companies are using locally-borrowed money either to invest or expand their operations. “But since there is so much liquidity, it’s alright as long as investments happen and jobs are generated. At the end, we want to employ many people to provide jobs,” Domingo said. There are over 1,000 foreign companies operating in the Philippines, but only a fifth of them have disclosed their investments and sources.

Ilocos trading mart to benefit tobacco sector By Anna Leah G. Estrada | Posted 8 hours ago | 15 views The Agriculture Department said Monday the recently inaugurated P165-million food processing and trading center in Narvacan, Ilocos Sur is expected to give tobacco farmers higher income. The project, dubbed the National Tobacco Administration Agri-Pinoy Tobacco Farmers Food Processing and Trading Center, is part of NTA’s commitment to improve economic conditions and uplift the quality of life of tobacco farmers in the northern provinces of the Philippines. “The project responds to the marketing needs of farmers by eliminating layers of middlemen both in buying agricultural inputs and in selling their products, resulting to lower production cost and higher income,� said NTA corporate planning manager Rex Antonio Tecson. The DA, meanwhile, assured it would continue to provide assistance, including raw materials for processing. The Agri-Pinoy Food Processing Center produces meat products such as bagnet, longganisa, bacon, ham, barbecue, tapa and tocino, which are sold at Bagsakan centers, food terminals, government offices and hospitals, commissaries and supermarkets.

Aquino faces ouster over DAP November 5, 2013 9:46 pm   by LLANESCA T. PANTI REPORTER, JOMAR CANLAS SENIOR REPORTER AND JOEL M. SY EGCO CHIEF REPORTER IBP head says President can be impeached for technical malversation President Benigno Aquino 3rd may have had noble intentions when he approved the implementation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) but the controversial scheme may yet lead to his downfall, according to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). Vicente Joyas, IBP president, on Tuesday said that if the Supreme Court (SC) declares DAP unconstitutional, the President may be held liable for technical malversation, a solid ground for impeachment. “That [technical malversation] is a ground for impeachment. They may be prosecuted for technical malversation and COA [Commission on Audit] shall require the return of the funds [released through DAP],” Joyas told The Manila Times. Last month, the IBP filed the fifth petition against DAP and asked the SC to order COA to conduct an immediate audit of the program and disallow all public money spent through it. Other petitions were separately filed by former Iloilo representative Augusto Syjuco, Manuelito Luna, Jose Malvar Villegas and the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa). Militant groups also filed a similar case before the High Court. Joyas clarified that the IBP is not one of the proponents of the People’s Initiative campaign for the enactment of a budget reform law being pushed by former chief justice Reynato Puno. He said his group is more inclined at present to try out the judicial route to having DAP scrapped and declared illegal. A magistrate of the High Court confirmed that criminal charges can be filed against Aquino, Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa and Senate President Franklin Drilon over DAP. The Justice, who spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed that due to the strength of the arguments in various petitions against DAP, the government officials may face charges of malversation or even plunder. However, he said that the ruling of the SC en banc will determine the fate of Aquino and his men and whether or not they should be held criminally liable.

The magistrate said that the transfer of funds from one branch of government to another is illegal “per se.” “The President is empowered under the 1987 Constitution to realign funds. But the big question is can he transfer it from the Executive Department to the Legislative Department?” the justice asked. He explained that a government official who is accountable for keeping public funds may be found guilty of technical malversation once he or she transfers the funds from one office or one purpose to another. ”An ordinary government official who shall transfer funds from one hand to another is clearly committing technical malversation,” he told The Times. The SC is set to deliberate on November 11, 2013, whether or not it will issue a temporary restraining order stopping the implementation of DAP. Malacañang had admitted that it has released nine percent of the total DAP budget to legislators, but maintained that there was no misuse of funds. In 1977, the High Court nullified a similar budget program introduced by former President Ferdinand Marcos. The tribunal voided a portion of Presidential Decree 1177 that gave Marcos leeway in realigning government funds because it “allows the president to override the safeguards, form and procedures prescribed by the Constitution in approving appropriations.” “The nation has not recovered from the shock, and worst, the economic destitution brought about by the plundering of the Treasury by the deposed dictator and his cohorts. A provision which allows even the slightest possibility of a repetition of this sad experience cannot remain written in our statute books,” the Court en banc, then led by the late chief justice Claudio Teehankee Sr., said. But Joyas said that DAP can be nullified even without a precedent case. “DAP can be voided for being unconstitutional not on the basis of [any] case . . .” he said. Former Budget secretary Benjamin Diokno described the petition being pushed by the IBP and other groups before the SC as “the first best hope” to win the battle against DAP. Anti-DAP petitioners argued that funds used for DAP officially contained in National Budget Circular No. 541 of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) cannot be considered as savings because “there could not be savings in the middle of a fiscal year, especially if the projects or programs for which these funds were allocated by law, have not been completed, discontinued or abandoned.” “The appropriations law becomes the law of the land, a product of the collective effort of the representatives of the people and the different government agencies. Not even Congress who

passed it can alter the same, without undergoing the same tedious process of enacting a law. Such is the wisdom of our Constitution,” the petitioners said. Records showed that fund releases through DAP also breached the P130 billion mark as of last month. “These funds that the DAP and the DBM 541 call as ‘savings’—the unreleased appropriations and unobligated allotments—are not actually savings following the strict formulation of the General Appropriation Laws passed by Congress through the years,” the petitioners added. Besides Aquino, Ochoa and Abad were named as respondents in the petition which also sought a temporary restraining order on the DAP while their petition is being heard. Malacañang previously said DAP was created in October 2011 to gather “savings” from slowmoving projects and use them for more important ones. Officials said DAP can be likened to the stimulus fund during the previous administrations which were used to spur economic growth. Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal also said that DAP is unconstitutional because it is not in the General Appropriations Act, unlike the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). “Mas illegal ang DAP kasi wala ang DAP sa batas. Kahit na pagbalik-baliktarin mo iyan, wala sa batas iyan. Kaya saan galing ang DAP? Kasi maliwanag naman sa batas na ang distribution ng appropriation from one department to any department ay hindi pwede,” Macalintal said. “Unlawful ang DAP. What remains questionable is the authorization of the executive branch to transfer the DAP from one branch to another branch.” Not worried Malacañang however insisted that DAP is legal and constitutional. Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that the use of the DAP is within the bounds of the law and the Constitution. Coloma said that the government is ready to go to battle and defend the legality of the fund scheme before the Supreme Court. He added that Aquino is not worried over the growing criticisms and petitions against DAP. “President Aquino has kept his faith with his sworn duty to be the Chief Executive. He has adhered to the Constitution and the laws of the land in performing his duties,” Coloma said. “The Office of the Solicitor General is preparing the government’s position pertaining to the petitions that were filed with the Supreme Court on this issue. The ongoing legal review by the OSG takes into account all relevant jurisprudence and pertinent laws,” he added.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, vice chairman of the committee on appropriations, also said that there is nothing wrong with releasing a small portion of the DAP to lawmakers. “I do not see anything wrong with it because as representatives, we always receive tons of Barangay and Municipal resolutions, asking us to provide funding for water systems, health centers, among others. In fact, a lot of barangay captains who won in the last elections are already sending me text messages, asking if I could fund health centers and the like for their constituents,” Evardone, a former governor of Eastern Samar, said. “I cannot think of a reason why it should be declared unconstitutional. Why should it be unconstitutional? Under the Constitution, the President can realign the savings of the government agencies under the Executive department in the same vein that the Chief Justice can realign the savings of the Judiciary to the agencies under the Judiciary,” he told reporters during the Ugnayan sa Batasan Forum. “We [in Liberal Party] are unanimous that DAP is legal, constitutional. DAP is just a brand. It has long been practiced because it is not unconstitutional. During former President [Joseph] Estrada’s time, it was called the stimulus fund,” Evardone pointed out. WITH REPORTS FROM CATHERINE VALENTE AND ROBERTZON RAMIREZ

Government still losing billions in tobacco taxes November 5, 2013 9:42 pm   by BETING LAYGO DOLOR MANAGING EDITOR and JOEL SY EGCO CHIEF REPORTER (Last of three parts) IN order to prove that Mighty Tobacco Corp. is underpaying its taxes, Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. turned to forensics. The multinational corporation must have built a strong case because the Department of Finance provided its data to both the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to verify if, indeed, Mighty is not only evading taxes, but is also engaged in tobacco smuggling. Thus far, Mighty has not rebutted the arguments presented by Philip Morris, to wit: • Mighty Corp.’s factory has a capacity that is anywhere from eight to nine times greater than what it claims to actually produce. Specifically, their machinery in Bulacan comprised of 10 AMF, eight SASIB, two GD, eight HLP (20s), and four HLP (10s) machines have a capacity to produce three billion sticks of cigarettes per month, or 1.8 billion packs a year. For 2012, Mighty declared and paid taxes on 213 million packs of their variants. • Based on lowest cost assumptions acceptable to the tobacco industry, Mighty loses P4.47 for every pack of cigarettes sold. The assumptions consider everything that goes into a pack of cigarettes just before it reaches the consumer, including the cost of the tobacco leaf itself plus other ingredients (example: the menthol flavoring), the filter (all imported), the cigarette paper, the liners and the labels. Then there are the variable costs like shipping and distribution, as well as the fixed manufacturing costs. Since every pack of cigarettes must pay P12 in excise tax and P1.58 in value added tax, adding up all the costs under the cost assumptions of Philip Morris shows that the break even price per pack of cigarettes is no less than P19.70. The estimated loss per pack of P4.47 is based on the average wholesale price of P15.23 for dealers. According to Philip Morris, “the numbers do not add up.” • Data from the multinational tobacco company also shows that Mighty has not fully accounted for all its imports. Following a formula for conversion supplied by the Department of Science and Technology, and based on import and export data from the BOC and the BIR, Mighty brought in 10,615,789 kilograms of tobacco leaf from various foreign sources in 2011, and 15,443,292 kg last year. Exports, however, were pegged at 2,248,849 kg in 2011 and 8,586,221 kg in 2012. Thus, the unaccounted tobacco leaf is 8,366,940 kg in 2011, or the equivalent of 498 million packs, and 6,857,070 kg last year, good for 407 million packs.

• Yet another key ingredient in cigarettes is acetate tow, which is the raw material for the filters used in most cigarettes. Acetate tow is not made in the Philippines, and there are only three countries which supply the ingredient. BOC and BIR data likewise show clear variances for 2011 and 2012. Mighty purchased 2.034 million kg of acetate tow, while exporting .99 million kg the previous year, for a variance of 1.034 million kg, equivalent to close to 116 million packs, or 2.3 billion sticks of cigarettes. Last year, Mighty’s acetate tow purchase was at 2.52 million kg, with exports of .97 million kg. The variance last year was therefore1.529 million kg equivalent to 171,513,228 packs, or 3.43 billion sticks. Philip Morris also pointed out that Mighty has allegedly been undervaluing its imports of tobacco leaf. Mighty’s figures say they purchase tobacco leaf from seven countries—Brazil, India, South Africa, Vietnam, China, Argentina, and Indonesia—at a price of $0.68/kg. By comparison, competitors Anglo-American and La Suerte purchase their tobacco leaf at much higher prices, from a low of $3.39/kg to a high of $6.75/kg. All the figures supplied by Philip Morris have been accepted by the Department of Finance as valid, putting the onus of disproving the data on Mighty. Old company reborn Mighty Tobacco Corporation was reborn in 2005 from the ashes of a cigar and cigarette company that had been around since the 1940s. That predecessor was best known for its lowpriced products like Magkaibigan (AKA) Amigo, La Campana and Campanilla. Oldtimers may remember the radio commercials of decades past where a comedian known for his harelip cried “Bataan matamis!” On Tuesday, this week, the company issued a statement to media saying, “We welcome in particular the orders of the BOC and the BIR to look into our records of shipments and taxes paid.” Spokesman and legal counsel Miguelito Ocampo said, “We are not hiding anything. Our operations, from sourcing of raw local and imported materials to manufacturing, withdrawals and marketing, are transparent and are strictly monitored and liquidated by the BOC and the BIR.” He also called for the filing of a trust law to protect Filipino consumers, while taking a dig at “some of our competitors” who use “faceless organizations and pseudo economists” to dish out what Ocampo calls malicious and damaging information to the media. “Maybe they should look at the supply and demand side and adopt the right marketing strategy” based on the new sin tax law, he added. Today, its flagship brand Mighty has been attracting the smoking public for daring to challenge the well-entrenched brands of Philip Morris, which accuses the company of dirty tactics in their ongoing mano-a-mano.

In presenting their case to the Finance department, Philip Morris effectively hurled the gauntlet at Mighty Corporation. The latter will have no option but to prepare a point by point rebuttal to the serious accusations of the former. Otherwise, the BOC and the BIR can come in and dun heavy penalties on the local manufacturer, strangling the goose that has been laying golden eggs for the company for the last few years. With Mighty finally coming out to face its accusers, the battle to control the multi-billion peso cigarette industry has just gone up a notch. Just how ugly it could get remains to be seen. As for Philip Morris, the US-based company is expected to continue to aggressively defend its market share. Recall that prior to purchasing Fortune Tobacco from Lucio Tan, Philip Morris had lost a big chunk of its luxury menthol market to Fortune’s Hope cigarettes. Philip Morris may have lost the battle back then, but the multinational company ultimately won the war.

Aquino ally sounds warning on 2015 Asean integration November 5, 2013 9:36 pm   by LLANESCA T. PANTI REPORTER THE Philippines may not be fully prepared for the planned Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) economic integration in 2015 that will allow the free flow of goods and services within the region, a lawmaker warned on Tuesday. Rep. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, vice chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, said that concerned government agencies should make an evaluation and brief Congress on how the country is gearing up for the integration of the economies of members of the Asean. “A year from now, there will be a free flow of goods and services in Asean. As for the manpower, we will have an edge because of our strong command of the English language, but how would our local manufacturers fare in this? If we are not ready, our factories could close. We should find ways to make them competitive alongside our neighboring countries,” Evardone, a member of the ruling Liberal Party chaired by President Benigno Aquino 3rd, said during the Ugnayan sa Batasan News Forum. Asean groups the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. The value of Asean’ Gross Domestic Product under the Asean Economic Community in 2015 is estimated at $1 trillion. “The concerned government agencies should apprise Congress on how we are going to meet these challenges, factoring in government subsidies, production cost in each country, considering that our government revenues will surely be affected with the absence of tariffs,” Evardone pointed out. To be competitive in the huge Asean Economic Community, Evardone noted that the country should have enough infrastructure, improve the production of industries as well as logistical capacity for the smooth flow of goods and services, provide access to capital for businesses and have a highly-skilled labor force. “This could be a threat and an opportunity at the same time. It’s either people will lose jobs, or more people will get jobs. Hindi tayo dapat natutulog sa pansitan (The concerned government agencies should not be sleeping on their jobs here),” the lawmaker said. Customs commissioners and Directors General of the 10 Asean member nations met beginning yesterday to establish the blueprint for the Strategic Plans of Customs Development in preparation for the Asean Economic Community (AEC).

The Bureau of Customs plays host to the 15th Asean Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation Working Group (CPTFWG) meeting which is being held at the Trader’s Hotel. The three-day conference aims to help facilitate the realization of the Asean single market and production base. Customs Commissioner Rufino Biazon explained that they aim to come up with a common framework regulating customs operations and intervention and strengthen cooperation and mutual assistance between the customs authorities and Asean member states including the prevention and repression of all forms of smuggling and customs fraud. “The international customs community is now going through a radical paradigm shift. Trade barriers are being dismantled and the free flow of goods and services among nations is now the global market trend.” Biazon said. “We need to be on board this global economic trend, otherwise we will be left behind in the doldrums of economic stagnation” WITH A REPORT FROM VOLT PALAÑA

COA orders PPA Batangas to demand P8-M November 5, 2013 8:44 pm   THE Commission on Audit ordered that the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) in Batangas should demand from a private company the unpaid P8-million dues. After records showed that the Port agency did not exert maximum efforts to collect P8.26 million from the General Milling Corp. (GMC), the three-member en banc of the Audit agency denied the request to write off the uncollected obligations of the company to the PPA. “The herein request for authority to write off noncollectible accounts receivable is hereby denied for the failure of the PPA to exert diligent efforts,” read the ruling of Chairperson Grace PulidoTan and commissioners Heidi Mendoza and Rowena Guanzon. The case stemmed from a July 2009 letter of port manager Alex Cruz of PPA in Batangas City for the P8.26-million obligation of GMC to PPA be stricken out of the records because the company has already closed. The dues of GMC started as P1.7 million, but catapulted to P8.26 million in just two years between June 2003 and January 2005. “Several demand letters were sent but all turned out futile. Per verification, PPA-Batangas found that GMC ceased operations in 2006,” the ruling noted. Although foreshore lease contract stated that GMC will expire on August 2024, it already stopped operations in 2006. Because of this, two indorsement letters approved the writing off of the uncollected dues. But at the COA regional director level, the unnamed COA official opined differently and noted that “PPA made no effors to collect from GMC” since the company closed. Apparently, Gerion Salazar, officer-in-charge of GMC, sent a letter in April 2009, stating that any validated amount due to PPA would be settled promptly. Resolving the matter, the three-woman panel of the Commission sided ordered PPA to demand the P8.26-million unpaid money. The en banc said that dormant accounts of the government can only be treated as irretrievable when the account has not moved for 10 years.

“[The] P8.26 million has not yet prescribed since the date when the amount became due and demandable is reckoned from January 25, 2005. Only eight years had lapsed as of this date,” the four-page ruling noted. Tellingly, COA ordered that “PPA can still collect the subject accounts from GMC” and junked the petition of PPA for it to be taken out of the books. JOHN CONSTANTINE G. CORDON

Philhealth defends premium hike for migrant workers November 5, 2013 8:43 pm   THE Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on Tuesday said that the premium adjustment for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) is appropriate and has been decided upon with the best interest of overseas workers and their families. The move, which is contained in its Circular 25, s-2013, adjusts the contribution rate from P1,200 to 2, 400 annually starting January next year to rationalize its contribution structure with the rest of members from different categories. This means that Philhealth members will have to pay P1, 200 more on annual contributions starting next year. Last year, the state-run health insurance agency has also implemented a 200 percent increase in premiums of individually paying members from P1, 200 to P1, 800 – a P600 increase per year, or P50 increase per month. The PhilHealth law provides that there shall be no contribution rate that is lower than those being paid for indigent members, which is now pegged at P2, 400. “With such gainful employment status of OFWs, it is but proper that their premium rate should at least approximate those with the indigents,” Chona Yap, PhilHealth Manager for Overseas Filipino Program, said. The agency has also pegged the contribution for its informal sector members at P2, 400 for those earning below P25, 000 per month. For those with monthly income of above P25, 000, the rate is at P3, 600. “The new rate for OFWs translates to just P6.70 per day, which clearly shows that they are still paying a very minimal amount and is comparable to indigents and informal sector members such as vendors, public transport workers, and the like”, Yap explained. PhilHealth further explained that the move has been openly discussed for years now with key stakeholders, especially migrant worker groups. “We have actively brought the issue with all players and affected sectors and even decided to phase-in its implementation starting this year in response to their calls for deferment,” Yap further explained. The PhilHealth also said that premium adjustments are called for to be able to sustain and continuously improve the level of financial protection being afforded its members.

In the last three years alone, it enhanced its benefits and introduced substantial payments for medically catastrophic and economically draining procedures under its Z Package which include childhood leukemia, heart surgeries, kidney transplants, lower limb prosthesis, among others, without increasing its premium rates. The agency is also moving towards shifting its payment mechanism from the traditional fee-forservice (payment per unit of service rendered) to case-based in order to contain costs, rationalize services, and ensure adequate care. For his part, PhilHealth president and chief executive officer Alexander Padilla said that the agency is expecting benefit payouts for 2013 to reach P62 billion, citing the increase in benefits as well as the expanding population coverage. Padilla also noted that over 2, 400 indigent and underprivileged families have received free healthcare benefits from the agency under the term of President Benigno Aquino 3rd, a subsidy from the national government which aims to expand accessible healthcare services to poor communities. In 2013, the agency received P12 billion subsidy from the national government. “For this year alone, more than 5.2 million poor families nationwide have benefitted the free healthcare service,” Padilla said. For 2014, the national government has earmarked PP35.3 billion for the 14. 7 million families, Padilla said. “These [budgets] all go to the benefit of the people, not reserves for the Philhealth employees,” Padilla explained. Meanwhile, the militant labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) also on Tuesday stormed the Philhealth head office in Pasig City to denounce the hike premium contributions for migrant workers amid crackdown of OFWs in Saudi Arabia. “The Philhealth premium hike is a grave injustice to our migrant workers. With all callousness, the Aquino administration still wants to squeeze out more from our OFWs after abandoning and allowing them to be abused, exploited, hunted like criminals and execute abroad,” Roger Soluta, the group’s secretary general, said. “It is enraging that we workers are being obliged to pay more for services we don’t actually receive. It is the Aquino government’s policy to spending less on basic social services like healthcare and just to realign the budget to debt servicing and to their pork barrel funds,” he added. NEIL A. ALCOBER

NDRRMC on ‘blue alert’ for super typhoon November 5, 2013 8:30 pm   by WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL THE National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on Tuesday placed its operation on “blue alert” status in preparation for a coming storm that may intensify into a super typhoon before it enters the country’s area of responsibility late this week. NDRRMC spokesman Maj. Reynaldo Balido said the alert order was in response to an earlier warning by the US Joint Typhoon Warning Center that weather disturbance Haiyan is moving toward the Philippines and may develop into a powerful typhoon equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane. Storm Haiyan, when it enters the Philippine area of responsibility will be named Yolanda, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Seismological Administration (Pagasa) said. Pagasa said that Haiyan was spotted on Caroline Island, some 2,170 kilometer east of Mindanao with a maximum sustained winds of 95 kilometer per hour (kph) and gustiness of up o 120kph and will enter Philippine Area of Responsibility by Thursday morning. Under the blue alert status, half of the personnel of all regional and municipal disaster risk reduction management offices, the regional offices of civil defense and other concerned government agencies in the would be affected areas should be at their posts. Balido said that regions to be affected are IV-A, IV-B, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX. X, XI, XII, Caraga, Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao and the National Capital Region, among others. Balido said that all chairmen of concerned government agencies must monitor the situation and undertake precautionary measures in their respective areas.

Posted on November 05, 2013 10:10:57 PM

Diesel, kerosene prices raised FUEL PRICES were raised yesterday to track movements of petroleum products in the  international oil market.  Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., Petron Corp., Total Philippines,     Inc. and PTT Philippines Corp. announced price increases of  P0.35 per liter on diesel and P0.20 per liter on kerosene  effective 6 a.m. yesterday. Prices of gasoline, meanwhile, were unchanged.    The oil companies noted that the provinces of Cebu and Bohol are still exempted from the fuel  price hike to consider the severe effect of a 7.2‐magnitude earthquake that hit Central Visayas  last month."This reflects movements in the international oil market," Raffy R. Ledesma, Petron  strategic communications manager, said via text yesterday.    The Energy department’s latest report showed that Platts reported that gasoline products in  Asian markets were affected by "gasoline cracks that were under pressure because of sustained  weakness in the US benchmark gasoline prices". Meanwhile, the diesel market was supported  by demand from Indonesia and Sri Lanka for November deliveries despite lower volumes  compared to October. ‐‐ Claire‐Ann Marie C. Feliciano,-kerosene-pricesraised&id=78974

Posted on November 05, 2013 10:08:07 PM

Tropical cyclone to hit Visayas region A NEW tropical cyclone is set to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Thursday  and could make a landfall as a typhoon later this week, the state weather bureau said  yesterday.  The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical & Astronomical     Services Administration (PAGASA) said the cyclone over the  Caroline Islands with international name Haiyan was estimated  at 2,170 kilometers (km) east of Mindanao.    It has maximum sustained winds of 95 km per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 120 kph. It is  forecasted to move west at 25 kph. "This weather disturbance is expected to enter the  Philippine Area of Responsibility on Thursday morning," PAGASA said.    In an interview yesterday with radio station dzMM, PAGASA forecaster Jun Galang said the new  cyclone will cross over Bicol Region, Western and Central Visayas, and the provinces of  Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan.    The tropical cyclone will be named Yolanda once it enters the Philippine territory.    "It may still intensify into typhoon category while it remains over the Philippine Sea," PAGASA  said.    Meanwhile, PAGASA said the low pressure area, formerly tropical depression Wilma, was  estimated at 160 km northeast of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan and will continue to affect  Palawan area "bringing moderate to occasionally heavy rain showers".    "Small sea crafts and fishing vessels are advised not to venture out over the seaboard of  Palawan due to the expected big waves generated by this weather system", PAGASA said.    In its 24‐hour weather forecast, the state weather bureau said Western Visayas and the Bicol  Region will have cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and thunderstorms while Metro  Manila will be partly cloudy. ‐‐ I.C.C. Delavin

Posted on November 05, 2013 09:32:35 PM

SRPs for noche buena goods out  

THE DEPARTMENT of Trade and Industry (DTI) yesterday published a list of suggested retail  prices (SRPs) for noche buena products and a list of accredited Christmas lights brands to guide  consumers this holiday season.  CONSUMERS are urged to check Christmas lights for an Import Commodity Clearance sticker  before buying. ‐‐ BW FILE PHOTO    "The DTI aims to lessen the sale of uncertified brands of Christmas lights and to prevent  unwarranted price increases for noche buena products," the DTI said in an advisory issued  yesterday.    SRPs are the prices at which manufacturers recommend retailers sell the products.    Based on the updated SRPs for noche buena products as of Oct. 28, a kilogram of cooked ham  costs P493, while a 500‐g brick ham costs P138.    The SRP of 3.06 kg of fruit cocktail ranges from P161 to P197. Branded keso de bola is to retail  for P227.70 for 500 g, P340 for 750 g, and P132 for 300 g.    A kilogram of spaghetti pasta is to sell for P59.35‐P103 while the SRP for a kilogram of spaghetti  sauce ranges from P68.10 to P89.70.    The DTI also reminded consumers to buy only DTI‐certified Christmas lights to avoid untoward  incidents.    "When buying Christmas lights, always look for the Import Commodity Clearance sticker either  on the wire or on the package of the Christmas lights to ensure that the product has passed  safety tests. Substandard Christmas lights are prone to fires," Gerardo P Maglalang, officer‐in‐ charge of the DTI Bureau of Product Standards said in a statement.    As of Oct. 31, the DTI has issued ICC certificates to 23 Christmas lights importers distributing 40  brands:    • DSL GAM   

• DSL LED    • Will Power    • Janxin Nanhai    • Golden Seasons    • Star    • Luck Deer    • 7 Star    • Northstar    • Landlite    • Ako    • Goldcrest    • LED Light    • Mabuhay Star    • Diamond Bright    • Akari    • Super Bright    • E.T.    • GHC    • Luckystar   

• Biglite    • North Star    • Seven Star    • Andrew    • JF    • Yuletide Fantasy    • The Magic of Lights    • Season of Lights    • Millenium Lights    • Merry Lights    • Xmas Lites    • The Joy of Lights    • Lights & Shine    • Hawaii Lights    • Christmas Star    • Shining Star    • Lampe    • Fuji Bright    • Eco Bright.   

"We urge retailers to make certain that the Christmas lights they sell were acquired from  legitimate DTI‐certified importers and ensure as well that all their stocks bear the ICC sticker,"  DTI Consumer Welfare and Business Regulations Group officer‐in‐charge Victorio Mario A.  Dimagiba said in the��same statement. ‐‐ D.E.D. Saclag

Posted on November 05, 2013 09:32:56 PM

October rice prices dip, corn prices rise THE AVERAGE prices of rice decreased while those of corn increased during the month of  October, based on a report by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) released on Nov. 4.    The average retail price of regular milled rice last month slid 1.14% to P35.66 per kilogram  from September’s P36.07/kg but was 11.09% more than the P32.10/kg of October 2012.    The average wholesale price of regular milled rice was P33.45/kg in October, 1.62% less than  the preceding month’s P34/kg but 11.83% more than October 2012’s P29.91/kg.    From P39.19/kg in September, the average retail price of well‐milled rice slipped by 1.27% to  P38.69/kg in October but was 9.57% more than the P35.19/kg of the same month last year.    Its average wholesale price, meanwhile, was P36.24/kg, 2.06% down from P37/kg in September  yet 10.65% more than the P32.75 recorded in October last year.    The average farmgate price of palay was P17.32/kg, 4.11% down from September’s P18.06/kg  but 7.63% up from P16.09/kg in October 2012.    As for yellow corngrain, the average retail price rose 0.73% to P21.63/kg in October from  P21.47/kg in September. Last month’s average price was just 0.68% less than the P21.48/kg  recorded in October 2012.    From P15.90/kg in September, the average wholesale price of yellow corngrain inched up 0.82%  to P16.03/kg in October and was 0.57% more than the P15.94/kg of the same month last year.    The average farmgate price of yellow corngrain was P11.80/kg, 0.48% up from September’s  P11.74/kg but 3.94% down from P16.09/kg in October 2012.    Meanwhile, the average retail price of white corngrain increased 1.85% to P18.74/kg in October  from P18.40/kg in September but was 4.38% less than the P19.60/kg of the same month last  year.    White corngrain’s average wholesale price in October was P15/kg, 2.18% more than  September’s P14.68/kg but 4.64% less than the P15.73/kg recorded in October 2012.    From P14.30/kg in September, the average farmgate price for white corngrain rose 0.54% to 

P14.38/kg in October, which was 1.67% more than the P14.14/kg of the same month last year.    Ermina V. Tepora, chief of the Agricultural Analysis Division (AMSAD) under the Department of  Agriculture, explained: "The decline in the price of rice is because the palay harvest is starting  to come in. The third quarter marks the harvest season. Usually, from the third to fourth  quarter, rice prices will continue to go down."    As for corn, she said that the price increases are due to sustained demand from feeds  producers. ‐‐ EVG,-corn-prices-rise&id=78961

Posted on November 05, 2013 09:32:14 PM

APECO plans food processing complex THE AURORA Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority is seeking contractors for the  design and construction of the APECO Agri‐Aqua Processing Hub in Casiguran, Aurora,  according to a notice in a newspaper last week.    The APECO Agri‐Aqua Processing Hub is part of the proposed 90‐hectare Agri‐Aqua  Technopark. The hub is to be a fenced compound and will occupy 2.6 hectares. Construction of  the facility has the approved budget of P86.430 million, according to the notice.    "The initiative for this came from our president, Malcolm Sarmiento, Jr., sometime in early  2012," explained Leo Angelo C. Salinel, APECO business development division manager, in a  phone interview yesterday.    "Aurora is suitable for agri and aqua processing, such as fish farming, and we also have a port,"  Mr. Salinel pointed out, noting also that Mr. Sarmiento was a former director of the Bureau of  Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.    The initial plan for the commercial park was to imitate the light industries in Subic and Bataan.  However, Mr. Salinel said that Aurora’s undeveloped road network and its distance from Metro  Manila led APECO’s leadership to focus instead on agriculture and aquaculture processing.    The project entails developing basic infrastructure for the road network, power, water, waste  treatment, ancillary utility facilities, two standard processing buildings for agriculture and  aquaculture, and a warehouse storage facility for multi‐purpose storage requirements of  processors, based on the notice. Mr. Salinel said that construction is projected to begin in the  middle of 2014.    For agriculture processing, the business development manager said that APECO plans on food  and non‐food processing of coconut, rice, bamboo, and rattan, which is the livelihood of the  residents of Aurora.     "Rattan is a good source of income, and we are also looking into organic virgin coconut oil  production," he said.    For aquaculture, APECO plans on processing fishes such as bluefin tuna, sea bass, milkfish, and  lapu‐lapu, among others.   

"The operation of the hub will be for export and local production," Mr. Salinel said, adding that  specifics of the operations for each agricultural commodity remain unclear at this point.    Still, he disclosed that APECO is aiming for commercial production by "more or less, 2016", once  negotiations with contractors and other parties from the agriculture and aquaculture sector  have concluded. ‐‐ E.V. Guadalope

Posted on November 05, 2013 08:48:29 PM

Low interest rates transitory THE CURRENT low interest rate environment may be temporary as financial markets continue  to be in transition, with both upward and downward pressures seen to come in moving  forward, a central bank official said.  “I think we are in a transition period. Because one, we have     ample liquidity in the system. And because of this liquidity, then  all the available financial instruments... the price will go down,  for government securities and bank deposits,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy  Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo told reporters yesterday.    The country’s money supply surged by 31% in September against the previous year, the fastest  rate of growth since December 2002. It has been growing at rates above 30% since July.    Mr. Guinigundo said the BSP’s move to tighten its rules for its special deposit accounts (SDA),  which resulted in the release of funds into the financial system, likewise helped bring down  rates.    The BSP banned banks from using the deposit facility for their fiduciary business and  investment management accounts, allowing them to make placements only for fund  management activities.    Banks should have taken out 30% of their ineligible funds in SDAs by July 30, with the balance  removed by November 30.    “As soon as the adjustment in the SDA is over by the end of November, then I think again we  will see some developments that will alter interest rates movements in the economy,” he said.    Developments abroad, specifically with respect to the US Federal Reserve’s monetary policy,  could likewise affect local interest rates.    “I think when there is more certainty about the direction of the US Fed decision on tapering,  then I think there will be some volatilities in the market and that could bring the rates up,” the  BSP official said.    After a two‐day policy meeting last Wednesday, the Fed maintained its $85‐billion monthly  bond‐buying program as expected to support the US economy.  

But in its announcement, it did not seem so alarmed about the weakness of US recovery,  hinting that the taper was still an option for the central bank.    At the year’s final Treasury bills auction on Monday, rates of most debt papers stood at record  lows.    The 91‐day and 182‐day T‐bills both fetched 0.001%, their lowest yet, with the latter falling 8.9  basis points from the 0.09% notched in the Oct. 7 auction. The one‐year papers, on the other  hand, fetched a rate of 0.278%, up 8.8 bps from last month’s 0.19%. ‐‐ Bettina Faye V. Roc

P407-million insertions source of new scam linking solons Written by  Angie M. Rosales   Wednesday, 06 November 2013 00:00   Legislators are being linked to a new controversy involving a P407-million fund from budget insertions and which allegedly was also diverted to bogus non-government organizations of pork barrel architect Janet Lim Napoles way back in 2004, the counsel for Napoles whistle-blowers Levito Baligod said. Baligod revealed that the legislators will form the third batch of cases to be filed after the second tranche of com-plaints is submitted, the schedule for which was again moved to next week. “There is a P407-million fund. I will not identify the agency now but the amount was shared among congressmen and the supposed suppliers of equipment were all NGOs of Ms. Napoles,” Baligod said. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, however, said said the filing of the second round of complaints related to the alleged pilfering of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) which involved 10 or more lawmakers have been moved anew to next week. De Lima initially cited a self-imposed deadline on the filing of the new complaints on Nov. 1. There’s no stopping blue ribbon committee chairman Sen. Teofisto Guingona III from proceeding with the scheduled public investigation to hear the testimony of Napoles tomorrow despite her last-minute appeal yesterday to postpone her called appearance before the panel chairman and Senate President Franklin Drilon, at least until such time she has employed the services of her new lawyer in place of her erstwhile counsel Lorna Kapunan who recently resigned. Guingona, however, immediately thumbed down her request, saying the committee can provide her lawyers from the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) to assist her and afford protection of her constitutional rights during the said hearing. “We regret to inform you that your request is denied. Please be informed that the said hearing will proceed as scheduled. Rest assured that the committee has made the necessary arrangements with the Public Attorney’s Office to provide you with the lawyers during the hearing,” Rodolfo Noel Quimbo, director general of the Blue Ribbon Oversight Office Management (BROOM) said in a letter to Napoles in behalf of Guingona. The said letter to Napoles, also dated yesterday, was coursed through Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) Commander in Fort Sto. Domingo, Police Dir. Carmelo Valmoria. The PAO, an independent and autonomous office but attached to the Department of Justice (DoJ), is mandated as the principal law office of the government in extending free legal assistance to indigent persons in criminal, civil, labor, administrative and other quasi-judicial

cases. Napoles, in her one-page letter, cited Kapunan’s resignation as the reason for her apprehension in testifying before Senate probers and will leave her without any legal counsel on her side to oversee the protection of her rights when she attends the hearing. Though Guingona had “handed down” his decision even before any consensus can be made by panel members, Napoles’ “predicament” drew mixed reactions from senators. Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano was quick in accusing Napoles and her camp of supposedly resorting to maneuvers against Senate probers by engaging into apparent delaying tactics. “She has all the resources. She knows the truth. She has a legal team who had been preparing and studying her defense. Time to answer questions and tell the whole truth. “I call on Miss Napoles to stop employing delaying tactics and to cease from making a fool out of the Filipino people. I encourage her to tell all on Nov. 7 and clear her conscience once and for all,” Cayetano said. “Let me remind Ms. Napoles that the ‘right to counsel,’ which she so vigorously invoked in her request, is not absolute under the law and her right to a counsel of her choosing is limited. “I am certain that the government can provide her a competent lawyer to assist her and ensure that her rights are protected during the blue ribbon hearing on Nov. 7,” he added. In the event that Napoles deliberately or capriciously fails to obtain the services of a lawyer, the majority leader said the upper chamber can still compel her testimony and the hearing will continue, as provided under the rules. Neophyte senators Nancy Binay and Bam Aquino were of conflicting position on the matter, with the former expressing her inclination to accede to Napoles’ request if only to give her ample time to look for a replacement lawyer. “For me, whether it’s Nov. 7 or Nov. 18, for as long as she’s here (it’s okay with me). What’s important is she’s present in the hearing,” Binay said in an interview with reporters. Providing her lawyers from PAO is indeed an option but Binay noted Napoles’ apparent preference to have a legal counsel of her choice Aquino, on the other hand, said the Senate committee can compel Napoles to attend the hearing if need be. Noting the offer of providing Napoles lawyers from PAO, Aquino said this will leave her no other choice but to appear in the scheduled proceedings. A member of the House of Representatives also chastised Napoles for her sought postponement of the Senate hearing citing the absence of a lawyer to accompany her, saying the suspected brain of the alleged multi-billion peso scam can always avail of the free legal counsel provided by the government. “She can always avail herself of a lawyer form PAO (Public Assitance Office),” Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco said. Tiangco made the statement after Napoles sent a letter to Senate President Drilon and Senator Guingona requesting the two to postpone her hearing saying she has no lawyer to assist her. “As you well all know, my lawyer Lorna Kapunan just recently resigned and I allowed her,” Napoles stated in her letter. “As a result of this, I have no lawyer to accompany me and protect my rights in the hearing in the Senate scheduled on the 7th of Nov. 2013. As an accused, it’s within my rights to have a lawyer who will defend and protect my rights,” Napoles added. However, Napoles clarified she is seeking the services of other lawyers to accompany her in

future hearings. “I have no intention to defy the Senate’s order to appear despite my personal view that my presence will do no good in the said hearing. Nevertheless, I respectfully beg for your understanding to postpone the hearing on Thursday because of the reason I mentioned that I have no lawyer who can assure that my rights would be protected,” said Napoles. But Cibac Rep. Sherwin Tugna doubted Napoles’ alibi saying that with all the money she had accumulated from the pork scam, it would be impossible for her not to get herself a lawyer. For his part, Magdalo Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo expressed apprehension Napoles might withhold everything she knows regarding the pork barrel scam and just concoct lies to protect herself and her clients-lawmakers. “Bringing Napoles to the Senate inquiry is a double-edged sword. If she tells the truth, then good. But what is she spins a web of lies? Looking at the big picture, I’m more interested in a dispassionate but determined legal effort by government to bring to trial that leads to the conviction of several impleaded senators, congressmen as well as napoles and her cohorts,” said Acedillo. Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte on the other hand, expressed optimism Napoles might still appear before the Senate hearing and spill everything. “Well, I’m hoping she’ll appear,” said Belmonte. The Philippine National Police (PNP) said a total of P150,000 will be spent to transport Napoles from Laguna to the Senate in Pasay City in connection with the Senate probe. According to PNP public information office (PIO) chief Senior Supt. Theodore Sinac the funds allocated for Napoles expenses from her detention facility in Fort Sto. Domingo in Laguna will be submitted to the Senate. Napoles is detained at a police training camp in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna province, while being tried for the illegal detention of her erstwhile chief-aide-turned-whistle-blower Benhur Luy in a Makati City court. Sindac explained that P125,000 is needed for maintenance, gasoline for the vehicles to be used during the operations while the remaining P25,000 is allocated for food for the police security escorts. The fund, Sindac added is for the 24-hour movement that started on Wednesday night. At least 100 police officers from Special Action Force, Police Regional Office 4-A, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and Highway Patrol Group (HPG) will serves as Napoles escorts during the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing. Fearing for her life, Napoles reportedly asked additional police escorts during the said hearing. The PNP disclosed previously that there are threats for Napoles’ life, based on the PNP’s intelligence gatherings. Napoles it can be recalled was tagged as the alleged mastermind in the P10-billion pork barrel scandal is set to appear before the senate inquiry for the first time. While the hearing is being conducted, hundreds of policemen will secure and will be deployed outside the Senate complex. Gina Peralta-Elorde, Charlie V. Manalo

Allies move to defend DAP anew amid Diokno remark Written by  Tribune   Wednesday, 06 November 2013 00:00   An assertion by former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno that the Supreme Court had already ruled on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of the Aquino administration unconstitutional as it is a rehash of an old budget measure of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, touched off a new round of media blitz from Aquino allies to defend the Malacañang measure. Diokno was quoted by a local broadsheet as saying a copy of the DAP was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1987. “In G.R. No. 71977, the SC ruled that section 44 of Presidential Decree 1177, then known as the Budget Reform Decree of 1977, was null and void because it allows the president to override the safeguards, form and procedures prescribed by the Constitution

in approving appropriations,” according to Diokno. “Section 44 of the same decree amounts to an undue delegation of legislative powers to the Executive,” the SC decision noted. The petition against the budget measure was filed by members of the then National Assembly led by Demetrio Demetria naming respondents then Budget Minister Manuel Alba and then National Treasurer Victor Macalingcag. Diokno said the High Court decision on PD 1177 “supports the proposition that the DAP is unconstitutional.” “Note that the ruling was made by the newly revamped Supreme Court (after Edsa l) on a case that was filed against then Budget Minister Alba. The ruling was done at a time when the people’s hope and confidence on its government was at its historic high,” Diokno said. Diokno, however, added that the SC ruling was ignored both by the Aquino and Arroyo administrations. Chief Aquino House ally Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said the DAP is a means by which the president is given the authority to realign government funds for priority projects of the administration and that it is “unthinkable for the SC to declare the program as unconstitutional.” Evardone, vice chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, the DAP is provided for in the Constitution. “I cannot think of a reason it should be declared unconstitutional. Why should it be unconstitutional? Under the Constitution, the President can realign the savings of the government agencies under the Executive department in the same vein that the Chief Justice can realign the savings of the Judiciary to the agencies under the Judiciary,” Evardone said during the weekly Ugnayan sa Batasan Forum at the House of Representatives. Evardone likened the authority of the president to realign portions of the budget to the authority

of the Chief Justice to realign savings of the judiciary to projects needed by the judiciary. Evardone maintained that the President can realign the slow moving funds to other priority projects which is also of equal importance. “We (in LP) are unanimous that DAP is legal, constitutional. DAP is just a brand. It has long been practiced because it is constitutional. During time of former President (Joseph) Estrada, it was called the stimulus fund,” Evardone said. The political opposition claimed that DAP was used to “buy” lawmakers into impeaching former SC Chief Justice Renato Corona. President Aquino maintained that there was no misuse of public funds in the DAP. Evardone stressed that there is no issue of misuse of public funds via the DAP as this is “mere speculation.” He underscored the fact that the issue raised by the political opposition and other critics of the administration against the DAP is not “misuse” but “mere speculation of misuse.” “I do not see anything wrong with it because as representatives, we always receive tons of Barangay and Municipal resolutions, asking us to provide funding for water systems, health centers, among others. In fact, a lot of Barangay Captains who won last elections are already sending me text messages, asking if I could fund health centers and the like for their constituents,” Evardone said. Calling plans for a nationwide series of ‘public dialogs’ regarding the pork barrel as a ‘cheap PR stunt’, youth groups Anakbayan and Youth Act Now issued respective challenges on President Aquino for the holding of a public debate televised nationwide. “Aquino is desperately looking for audiences because his Halloween speech flopped. No one believed his fantastic claims. Even ghost stories are more credible,” said Vencer Crisostomo, national chairman of Anakbayan and co-convener of Youth Act Now. “His public dialogs will certainly be scripted, and like his Oct. 30 speech, an absolute waste of time for anyone listening or watching,” said the youth leader. “Let’s hold it in Plaza Miranda or Mendiola and let’s have all major TV and radio networks cover the debate live” he proposed. But the youth leader was skeptical about the chances the president would accept the challenge, saying “Aquino will most likely chicken out.” “Even a child can answer Noynoy’s moronic arguments. Legal experts, academicians, everyone knows DAP is pork,” he explained. “The president’s idiotic logic is that just because the DAP and other presidential pork barrel funds went to a certain government agency, it is no longer pork barrel. It’s like saying that if he pocketed 90 percent of the money for the construction of a road, it’s not corruption as long as there is an actual road,” he said. “Even more moronic, if that was possible, is the claim that DAP is not pork barrel because it is used for economic development,” said Crisostomo. By Gerry Baldo and Charlie V. Manalo

Pagasa expects approaching typhoon’s possible landfall Written by  Tribune   Wednesday, 06 November 2013 00:00   A typhoon (with international name Haiyan) that continues intensifying in the Pacific Ocean will  most likely make landfall as a typhoon in the Philippines this week.  “Latest available data indicate a big possibility for such occurrence,” said weatherman Ben Oris  from the state‐run Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services  Administration (Pagasa).  He said that at present, “Haiyan” is packing winds of 95 kilometers per hour and gustiness of  120 kph.  That storm is about 2,170 km east of Mindanao and moving at 25 kph in a west‐northwest  direction at present, he noted.  If “Haiyan” maintains such speed and direction, he said the storm will likely enter the Philippine  Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Thursday, Nov. 7.  “The storm will make landfall around Friday in Eastern Visayas, possibly the Samar‐Leyte area,  should it continue moving at the same speed and direction,” he also said.  Pagasa is not discounting the possibility of “Haiyan” being a typhoon already by the time it  makes landfall in the country.  “That can happen as ‘Haiyan’ is still over Pacific waters gathering more strength,” he said.  Should the storm maintain its track and speed, Oris said it will cross the Visayas and exit the  Philippine landmass around Mimaropa region (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan).  “The storm is projected to be outside PAR by Sunday (Nov. 10),” he said.  Disaster hit the Visayas last month as a 7.2‐magnitude killer earthquake struck Bohol province  there, killing hundreds of people and damaging dozens of public and private infrastructure in  the area and elsewhere.  Pagasa will rename “Haiyan” as “Yolanda” once the storm enters PAR.  Several reports describe “Haiyan” as a supertyphoon.  Oris said “Haiyan” is not so yet since supertyphoons are those that pack winds of almost 200  kph and over.  Typhoons pack winds of 100 kph to 180 kph while those for storms range from 60 kph to 100  kph, he added.   Oris said “Yolanda” stands to be the 24th tropical storm in the Philippines this year.  The country averages some 20 tropical storms annually, he noted.  For November, he said Pagasa expects one to three tropical storms in the country.             PNA

Gov’t not ready for full implementation of AFTA’ Written by  Gerry Baldo   Wednesday, 06 November 2013 08:00   The Philippine government should now be preparing to the integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) economies by 2015. Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, during the weekly Ugnayan sa Batasan Forum at the House of Representatives, warned that the country may not be prepared to meet the full implementation of the Asean Free Trade Agreement (AFTA). “It’s a year before the full integration of the Asean, I don’t think one year is enough for us to prepare,” Evardone said. The members of the Asean include Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Vietnam joined in 1995, Laos and Myanmar in 1997 and Cambodia in 1999. AFTA now comprises the 10 countries of Asean. Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar (Burma) and Cambodia were required to sign the AFTA agreement as a requisite to join Asean, but were given longer time frames in which to meet AFTA’s tariff reduction obligations. He said that the integration will abolish all forms of tariff for imported and exported goods within the Asean-member countries. He said that under such circumstances local markets could be flooded with goods from other Asean-member countries. “While it poses a threat, it also offers an opportunity for us,” Evardone said, referring to human resources where Filipinos have the advantage of English proficiency. But in the manufacturing sector, the integration could have serious economic repercussions, he said.

Barangay bets reminded to declare their SOCE Written by  Tribune   Wednesday, 06 November 2013 00:00   Candidates in the just‐concluded barangay elections were reminded by the Commission on  Elections (Comelec) of their obligation to file their statements of contribution and expenditures  (SOCE) in connection with the local elections.  The reminder was issued by Comelec spokesman James Jimenez, who said that all candidates  should file their SOCE on or before Nov. 27 before the Office of the Election Officer where they  filed their certificates of candidacy.  Those who will not comply with the regulations can’t assume office until they file their SOCE  which is provided for under Section 14 of Republic Act 7166.  The form and content of the SOCE, Jimenez said it was specified under Section 3 Rule 8 of  Comelec Resolution No. 9476.  The resolution said the statement required in the said section shall be in writing, subscribed  and sworn to by the candidate or by the treasurer of the party. It shall set forth in detail.  Jimenez said the amount of contribution, the date of receipt, and the full name, profession,  business, taxpayer identification number (TIN) and exact home and business address of the  person or entity from whom the contribution was received.  The amount of every expenditure, the date, the full name and exact address of the person or  entity to whom payment was made, and the purpose of the expenditure.  A Summary Report of Lawful Expenditure categorized according to the list specified shall be  submitted by the candidate or party treasurer within thirty days after the day of the election.  The regulation also said that any unpaid obligation, its nature and amount, the full name and  the exact home and business address of the person or entity to whom said obligation is owing;  and if the candidate or treasurer of the party has received no contribution, made no  expenditure, or has no pending obligation, the statement shall reflect such fact.  Other stipulations in the SOCE that the Comelec may require to the winning candidates.  The Campaign Finance Unit of the Comelec shall strictly monitor the compliance of the  candidates.  By Alvin Murcia

Gov’t warned on DA, NFA execs’ attempts to push state-funded rice imports Written by  Benjamin B. Pulta   Wednesday, 06 November 2013 00:00   Activist lawyer Argee Guevarra yesterday appealed to government to guard against attempts by beleaguered Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alacala and National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Orlan Calayag to push additional government-funded rice importation despite criticism that such a scheme would be greatly disadvantageous to the government. “The NFA Council used to be convened at least once every month, or even more, when there are urgent matters that require its attention. Why is it only being convened now when alleged anomalies, high rice prices and questions regarding rice supply have been raised since August this year?” Guevarra said. ���It is possible that they plan on using these issues to again push their anomalous G-to-G importation scheme,” he added. Guevarra said it was surprising that the NFA Council had not been convened since July when rice prices began to steadily increase, hitting all-time highs in September despite heavy government spending in rice importation and assurances of self-sufficiency. The DA’s assurances of rice self-sufficiency have since been disputed by its own statistics bureau chief Assistant Secretary Romeo Recide who, last September, testified in Congress that the DA would miss the rice self-sufficiency mark by 500,000 metric tons. “Experts from government, the private sector and the academe all agree that public funds are better spent on agricultural infrastructure, irrigation and post-harvest facilities,” he explained. “Only BFF (best friends forever) Alcala and Calayag insist on a government monopoly of an acknowledged private sector function.” Alcala convinced the government in April 2013 to spend an estimated P4 billion, exclusive of duties and taxes, to import 205,700 metric tons of rice from Vietnam “when the private sector could instead have foot the bill for importing the rice and paid the government fees for importing the staple.” The April transaction is under investigation by both the Senate and the House of Representatives for allegations of overpricing to the tune of P457 million. “Our government could have profited if it let the private sector import rice. In April, the government instead spent its own funds and it looks like someone else profited. It’s like we’re being steamed to our own rice,” the lawyer added.

Solon wants sale, distribution of SIM cards regulated Written by  Charlie V. Manalo   Wednesday, 06 November 2013 00:00   A lawmaker has proposed to regulate the sale and distribution of Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards to discourage unscrupulous people from using these cards in illegal activities. Valenzuela Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian filed House Bill 2624 which mandates the registration of all prepaid SIM cards and requires telecommunication companies to keep a registry of these subscribers. Gatchalian said the seeming boundless stream of supply of SIM cards has become a magnet of nefarious activities. “We hear countless victims of text scams, ransom demand through untraceable mobile numbers and mobile phones become triggering devices for bomb explosion that kill hapless civilians in our midst,” Gatchalian said. The bill directs telecommunication companies to ensure that the users of their prepaid SIM cards are properly identified and their addresses verified through the presentation of valid identification cards such as government-issued IDs and company IDs, among other things. It provides that proof of payment of the sale shall be evidenced by an official receipt, duplicates of which shall be submitted by the telecommunication company to the National Telecommunications Co.. Information obtained in the SIM card registration shall be treated as confidential. Except upon order of any competent court or based upon a written request from a government law enforcement agency upon finding of probable cause that a particular number is being used in the commission of a crime or that it was utilized as a means to commit an unlawful act, the telecommunications company shall be obliged to provide the information. All existing prepaid subscribers are required to register their SIM cards with their respective mobile phone companies within three months from the effectivity of this Act. Failure to register within the prescribed period shall authorize the telecommunications company to suspend its services to the negligent user. The telecommunications company shall lift the suspension of its service upon compliance with the provisions of this Act. Telecommunication companies found guilty of violating provisions of the Act shall be fined P300,000 for the first offense; P500,000 for the second offense, and P1,000,000 for the third offense and subsequent offenses. Gatchalian said the government should follow the lead taken by Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei and other countries that have put this into law and succeeded in its effort of regulation.

Old notes valid until December 2015 only — BSP Written by  Ed Velasco   Wednesday, 06 November 2013 00:00   The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said old notes, or those not classified as new generation currencies, are only valid until Dec. 31, 2015. According to the BSP, the new generation currencies will be the official notes a day after that period. Former BSP-security plant complex chief and assistant governor Manuel Torres told the Daily Tribune that the BSP-SPC is now printing new generation currencies that will replace the old notes. New generation currencies were released in Dec. 2009, bearing all-new design from P20 to P1,000. Some critics scored the BSP for alleged “errors” in the currencies. Among these are the exclusion of Batanes from the Philippine map on the reverse of all denominations; the mislocation of the Puerto Princesa subterranean underground river on the reverse of the P500 bill; the Tubbataha Reef on the P1,000 bill; and the incorrect coloring on the beak and feathers of the blue-naped parrot, also on the P500 bill. However, former SPC chief and deputy governor Armando Suratos defended the alleged “errors,” saying those that have errors fetched so high in the auction market. Suratos, deputy governor for 13 years and now a member of the Monetary Board, likened the currencies with simple errors to DC Comics in the US that also have minor errors which commanded high price when it went into auction. “BSP is already printing only new generation notes. Old notes will be in circulation up to 2015,” Torres told the Tribune from the United States last week. Last year, the former SPC chief-assistant governor said the SPC will print new generation currencies equivalent to P300 billion. Since he is no longer the SPC chief, the former assistant governor cannot confirm if the SPC is printing the same amount to replace the old notes. “I don’t know how many but BSP will continue outsourcing finished notes,” he said. Several text inquiries to confirm the information were sent to current SPC chief and deputy governor for resource management sector lawyer Vicente Aquino but he didn’t reply.

HUMANDA SA SUPER TYPHOON! Nina Joselito Perez at Bernard Taguinod Atmospheric, Geophysical  Philippine kahapon ang  Nagbabala (Pagasa) sa publiko na  Services Administration  and Astronomical humanda at mag-ingat sa paparating na super typhoon na si ‘Yolanda’ na inaasahang tatama sa Southern Luzon, Visayas region at Northern Mindanao “Malakas itong darating na bagyo, nakikita natin na nag-i-increase siya ng strength habang papalapit ng Philippine Area of Responsibility.”Ito ang kinumpirma ni Pagasa weather forecaster Jori Loiz sa panayam ng Abante kahapon. Ayon pa kay Loiz, ganap na makakapasok ng bansa si ‘Yolanda’ sa Miyerkules ng gabi o Huwebes ng madaling-araw kung saan ang Eastern Visayas ang kanyang magiging point of entry. “Malayo pa naman si ‘Yolanda’ nasa layong mahigit 2,000 kilometro pa ng silangan ng Mindanao,” dagdag pa ni Loiz. Maaapektuhan umano ni ‘Yolanda’ ang Southern Luzon, Visayas region at Northern Mindanao partikular sa Samar at Leyte na siyang direktang tatamaan kapag naging ganap na super typhoon si ‘Yolanda’. Sinabi pa ni Loiz na maaaring sa araw ng Sabado o Linggo ay tatahakin ni ‘Yolanda’ ang lalawigan ng Mindoro bago tuluyang lalabas ng bansa. ang Malacañang sa pagdating ni ‘Yolanda’ bukas.  rin  na  handang-handa  nito,  Kaugnay Communication Operation  Ito ang siniguro ni Presidential Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio ‘Sonny’ Coloma Jr., kahapon ukol sa sa bagyong ‘Yolanda’.  gobyerno  ng  ginagawang paghahanda “Nakatutok po diyan ang ating NDRRMC (National Disaster Management Council) at doon sa isang partikular na  and  Risk Reduction lugar na tinatayang tatama ito, gusto kong ipaalam sa inyo na ‘yung magpulong ngayong hapon (kahapon) sa  East Visayas NDRRMC ay nakatakdang Leyte,” ani Coloma. Maging ang Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) ay nakanda na umano sa relief operations dahil inaasahan na mayrong mga ililikas bago pa mag-landfall ang bagyo.

More virulent swine flu virus strain found! November 5, 2013 9:21 pm   by EFREN L. DANAO INSIDE CONGRESS

  Efren Danao Health authorities have found a new and more virulent strain of the swine flu virus and warned that it could generate an epidemic in the Philippines. Authorities have traced the new strain, which they called P1Noy3, to Malacañang. The Office of the President had set up panic stations to keep this alarming news from going public. They tried but failed to mask it by saying it was actually a Drilon-Abad-PNoy (DAP) strain that’s “beneficial” to the country. President BS Aquino is set to pre-empt prime time programs on radio and teevee to deny that he’s the main source of the P1Noy3 virus strain. He is predicted to tell the people: “I’m not a Swine Flu King.” Survey firms and Malacañang have already pegged at 79 percent the public’s favorable response to the still-undelivered address. They’re confident that with the high approval rating of BS Aquino they have foisted on the public and with mainstream media accepting without question everything emanating from the Palace, they could pull the wool over the people’s eyes. They’re bent on protecting the President’s image at all cost, even at the expense of truth. Malacañang’s vehement denials on the existence of the P1Noy3 swine flu virus strain, however, could not keep the truth from getting out for long. The fact is, many had expected a swine flu epidemic when BS Aquino set foot on the Palace. What was unexpected was for the P1Noy3 strain to be three times more virulent than the flu strain in the previous dispensation. Common to pigs Swine flu is common among pig populations all over the world. People with regular exposure to pigs are more likely to catch its virus and transmit it to others. While symptoms of the old virus strain develop about one to three days after exposure, symptoms of the new more powerful

P1Noy3 strain become evident on the very second one enters Malacañang or gets in contact with high Malacañang officials, members of the Legislative and the Cabinet, and officers of bogus nongovernment organizations. The symptoms of P1Noy 3 virus strain differ from previous ones elsewhere. Its most unmistakable symptom is the insatiable desire for pork and the inexplicable readiness to give oodles of it to those who are also addicted to the same. It also manifests itself in its carrier’s total deafness to the voice of his supposed bosses, the people. It’s no wonder that when BS Aquino defended his pork, the people shouted anew: “What part of ‘No to pork barrel’ didn’t you understand?” Another symptom of the P1Noy3 strain is the blurring of eyesight. Its carrier invariably believes that he’s treading the straight path even while walking on a crooked road. This can’t be cured by wearing thick eyeglasses, said scientists who also warned that it would be exacerbated by addiction to video games. Virus turns infected into habitual liar A person positive of P1Noy3 swine flu virus becomes a habitual liar and is prone to make unbelievable promises like totally abolishing pork even if he’s hopelessly addicted to it. He also loses energy in performing his official duties and responsibilities but not in pursuing girls, and refuses to call regular meetings of the Cabinet and the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council but is always ready for photo opportunity in the dead of the night in a calamity area. It can also be seen in the inability to mitigate greed, making its carrier liable to play fast and loose with the people’s money. By denying the existence of the new P1Noy3 swine flu virus strain, the Palace completely ensured that the virus would spread faster. Health authorities have confirmed that many high officials of the Executive and Legislative departments are now severely ill from this ailment. Aside from preventing the dreaded disease from spreading, the denial of the existence of the P1Noy3 strain has also kept scientists from finding an early cure.Some, like reader Rocky Avila, had proposed the ultimate cure – castrate the carriers of the virus. Scientists, however, say we need not go to that extreme. They note that some high government officials like former Senators Joker Arroyo and Ping Lacson and the Makabayan Bloc in the House led by Rep. Neri Colmenares have developed protective immunity to the swine flu virus. Health authorities are confident that they could find an effective antidote to the P1Noy3 Swine Flu strain from the blood extracted from Joker, Ping, and Colmenares and his group. They said they would immunize executive and legislative officials once they have found this antidote. At the same time, they admitted that no antidote could work on BS Aquino and other carriers. “Their illness is very severe. They are already beyond cure,” they said. They proposed instead that the people distance themselves from these officials.

Gen. Dellosa paranoid or braggart? November 5, 2013 8:57 pm   by ERWIN TULFO DEAD SHOT

  Erwin Tulfo Is former Armed Forces chief of staff now Customs Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Jessie Dellosa paranoid or simply a braggart? Dellosa is the object of complaints filed by a dozen brokers and importers because he ordered hundreds of containers held at the South Harbor and the Manila International Container Port (MICP). Through several Alert Orders (AO) issued by the Office of the Commissioner, Dellosa and his men reportedly stopped the release of shipments and ordered them opened for inspection on suspicion that they contain contraband goods. Don’t get me wrong folks. I am not against strict measures at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to curb smuggling. But what the importers and brokers are complaining is the slow pace of. They say that it takes around five to 10 days before one container is opened and inspected by Dellosa’s men. But while it is being held at the BOC yard, the brokers and importers are forced to shell out around P5,000 to P10,000 a day for storage fee for each container. A BOC official, who asked not to be identified, said that Dellosa’s mandate is to go only after smuggled goods, guns, drugs, and misdeclared shipment. But so far, after hundreds of containers have been placed on alert, none turned out positive for smuggled goods or contrabands. What Dellosa found were a few shipments that were undervalued by a few thousand pesos.

The same source said that Dellosa is interfering in the operations of the bureau’s Assessment Department by going after undervalued shipment. Rumors have it that Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon cannot control Dellosa since he is the President’s man. Does this mean that Dellosa does not need to listen or follow orders anymore from Biazon? Looks like trouble is brewing at the pier. *** Squabbling and finger pointing at the Palace What’s this I heard from the grapevine that there is an ongoing squabbling and finger pointing among PNoy’s men in the Palace over who’s to blame on the sudden drop of the President’s popularity ratings. Rumor has it that days before the survey on the President’s popularity came out, Malacañang already knew of the result. The story goes that due to the drop in PNoy’s rating, Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda was promptly removed from his post and was replaced by Secretary Sonny Coloma of the Communications Group. The problem did not end there, according to the same story, as Pnoy allegedly wanted to know what went wrong and who is to blame. My “usisero” in Malacañang said that the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) blames Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad because of the questionable release of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). The source said DBM however is blaming the OPS for not containing the issue right away. My advice to the President? Fire all of them!

NAPOLES REBUFFED Published : Wednesday, November 06, 2013 00:00   Written by : Bernadette Tamayo  

SAYING she does not have a lawyer to represent her in her scheduled testimony before the Senate concerning her alleged involvement in the pork barrel fund scam, detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles has asked the Blue Ribbon Committee to postpone the public inquiry. Napoles’ lawyer, Lorna Kapunan, resigned last week due to unclear reasons. She was supposed to testify tomorrow on her alleged participation in the misuse of legislators’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) amounting to P10 billion. Napoles is currently detained at Fort Sto.Domingo in Laguna. However, Sen.Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, denied her request. “This morning (Nov.5), Janet Lim-Napoles sent a letter to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee seeking postponement of the hearing, in order to give her time to hire the services of a lawyer. The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has decided to proceed with the hearing, as originally scheduled on November 7, 2013,” he said in a statement. “To afford protection of her constitutional rights, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has made the necessary arrangements with the Public Attorney’s Office to provide Janet Lim-Napoles with lawyers during the said hearing,” Guingona said. In her letter to Napoles, coursed through Police Director Carmelo Valmoria, Special Action Force (SAF) commander, in Fort Sto.Domingo, Senate Blue Ribbon Oversight Office Management (BROOM) director general Rodolfo Noel Quimbo told her that the panel will not be able to grant her request.

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano rebuked Napoles for her “alleged delaying tactic.” “She has all the resources. She knows the truth. She has a legal team who had been preparing and studying her defense. Time to answer questions and tell the whole truth,” he said. “I call on Miss Napoles to stop employing delaying tactics and to cease from making a fool out of the Filipino people. I encourage her to tell all on November 7 and clear her conscience once and for all,” Cayetano said. “Let me remind Miss Napoles that the ‘right to counsel,’ which she so vigorously invoked in her request, is not absolute under the law and her right to a counsel of her choosing is limited,” Cayetano said.

Gov’t ready for tropical storm Yolanda Published : Wednesday, November 06, 2013 00:00   MALACAÑANG yesterday assured the public that the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, including its regional and provincial units, is girding up for Tropical Storm Yolanda. Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma said that the Eastern Visayas Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council will meet today in preparation for the approaching typhoon. “Nakatutok po diyan ang ating NDRRMC, at doon sa isang partikular na lugar na tinatayang tatamaan nito, gusto kong ipaalam sa inyo na ang East Visayas DRRMC ay nakatakdang magpulong ngayong hapon sa Leyte,” he said. “Ito po ang partikular na aksyon nila on the ground level: to discuss measures to undertake in preparation for the approaching Tropical Storm Yolanda,” Coloma said during a press briefing in Malacañang. According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, Tropical Storm Yolanda is expected to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility Thursday morning. EMontano

DENR, mining firm to establish bamboo seed farms in Ligao Published : Wednesday, November 06, 2013 00:00   Written by : Sonny Sales   LIGAO City -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources Regional Office sealed an accord with Albay 3rd district Rep. Fernando V. Gonzales, Sulpicio Barnardo III of Filmenera Resources Corp. and Ligao City Mayor Patricia G. Alsua for the establishment of a bamboo gene bank in Kawakawa Hill and 15-hectare bamboo plantation in eight barangays in the city. At the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, DENR Regional Executive Director (RED) Gilbert C. Gonzales bared plans to establish a 15-hectare kawayang tinik (Bambusa blumeana) plantations in Bgys. Oma-oma, Baligang, Busac, Abella, Nabonton, Amtic, Maonon and Tulatula. Filmenera Resources Corp. (FRC), which operates in Masbate, will provide planting materials worth P100,000. The FRC representative expressed the campany’s agreement with the RED’s plan to pursue an area development devoted to bamboo. They were convinced to support the project citing among others that Filmenera, a large-scale mining operator in Bicol, provides for community development program and environmental programs as responsible miners and as part of its corporate social responsibility. They consider the project part of reaching out to other areas -- those outside their mining operation site. Their post mining land use involves exploring the establishment of plantation over mined-out areas. Bernardo explains that mining areas have final mining rehabilitation and decommissioning plan. Gonzales said he will help ensure that the beneficiaries are well-trained and are able to make a living out of bamboo products. Gonzales said that his office will put up a bamboo palace in Kawakawa to promote the importance of bamboo as a cheap substitute for wood.

2013 11 06 quedancor daily news monitor