To arrest declining yields, rice producers must turn to science Philippine Daily Inquirer 10:16 pm | Sunday, December 8th, 2013
The Philippines, and other rice-dependent countries, may have to get more serious in adopting the latest scientific advancements in rice production as the share of agriculture in the nation’s output recedes, while the rural workforce declines. An external advisory group that the Food and Agriculture and Organization formed recommended an international strategy on rice production. The strategy brings to the fore the crucial role of scientific developments such as genomics and the issue-laden field of genetic modification. One recommendation is that “the rice strategy’s goals should be to increase productivity and nutrient content of rice adequately to meet the rising global demand through sustainable intensification of rice production systems,” said the FAO, whose Asia-Pacific office is located in Bangkok. The FAO said that rice farming is facing several new challenges, such as global climate change and the need to reduce the environmental footprint of rice farming, while increasing the efficiency of inputs like seeds, fertilizer and water. The UN agency further noted that “modern scientific developments are also making it possible to increase yield, reduce disaster risk, and also add nutritive value to rice.” Scientists at the International Rice Research Institute, working alongside experts in Japan, last week announced they had identified a long-sought rice gene that would increase the volume of production by more than a third. According to rice breeder Tsutomu Ishimaru, the process does not involve genetic engineering and instead uses genetic mapping and conventional breeding techniques, known as genomics. Also, the IRRI is making progress with field tests on the so-called Golden Rice. Developed using genetic modification techniques, Golden Rice has genes from maize and a common soil microorganism that, together, produce beta carotene in the rice grain, which gives it its color. The FAO also recommends that the region should take steps to improve mitigation and adaptation of rice farming to climate change. Ronnel W. Domingo http://business.inquirer.net/155653/to‐arrest‐declining‐yields‐rice‐producers‐must‐turn‐to‐ science#ixzz2mwybz4Ew
NFA intensifies help for typhoon victims (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 9, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
Workers build an evacuation center in Tacloban City over the weekend, one month since Typhoon Yolanda struck Eastern Visayas. AP MANILA, Philippines - The National Food Authority (NFA) has assured the victims of Typhoon Yolanda that it is committed to perform its primary mandate of ensuring a steady and sufficient supply of rice under the country’s food security program, especially during calamities and emergency situations. In a statement, NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag said they are closely coordinating with various private and government agencies engaged in relief operations and distribution, as they explore ways in further assisting and hastening the recovery of the victims.As of Dec. 4, the NFA, according to records, had released a total of 811,346 sacks of rice that were distributed to various agencies and offices, private groups and local government units (LGUs) engaged in relief operations and distribution. Of this number, 408,274 sacks of rice were given to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), 200,000 sacks to the World Food Program, 131,670 sacks to LGUs, 3,269 sacks to the Philippine Red Cross, and 68,132 sacks to various private groups and NGOs. Calayag said the NFA is committed to ensuring the steady supply of rice and food security in typhoon-ravaged areas until the situation returns to normal.In the past months, the NFA has helped ensure calm and order following a number of natural calamities and man-made disasters that befell various areas of the country. During the siege by Moro National Liberation Front rebels in Zamboanga City, the agency’s immediate action to release tens of thousands of sacks of rice ensured that the more than 105,000 residents affected by the siege could eat three square meals a day in evacuation centers. The NFA also played a vital role after Bohol, Cebu and other provinces were hit by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake last October. http://www.philstar.com/nation/2013/12/09/1265718/nfa-intensifies-help-typhoon-victims
FAO, Oxfam send support to farmers in Eastern Visayas By Kristine Angeli Sabillo INQUIRER.net 10:47 am | Sunday, December 8th, 2013
INQUIRER FILE PHOTO
MANILA, Philippines – Two international organizations have extended their support to farmers in Eastern Visayas after the devastation wrought by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” last month caused P17 billion worth of damages to agriculture. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (Oxfam) have committed 20,375 and 10,000 bags of rice seeds each to complement the 7,500 bags allocated by the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office-8 (DFA RFO-8). At least 63,234 bags of rice seeds are needed to cover all affected rice farms in Eastern Visayas. “We wish to rehabilitate over 63,000 hectares badly damaged areas in the region. That’s why we are grateful we have partners who are willing to help us achieve this target,” DA RFO-8 Regional Executive Director Antonio Gerundio said in a statement Sunday. Gerundio said they are hoping that replanting starts this month so farmers could harvest their crops by February or March next year. Both FAO and Oxfam identified priority areas in Leyte with Burauen, Sta. Fe, San Miguel, Tacloban City, Dagami and La Paz assigned to FAO, and Palo, Tanauan, Dulag, Julita, Mac Arthur and Mayorga to be handled by Oxfam. Meanwhile, Alang-alang, Leyte and the provinces of Biliran and Eastern Samar will be covered by DA. However, FAO Area Coordinator Peter Flewwelling said their assistance package will be distributed before the end of December, prioritizing farmers whose areas are ready for replanting. Oxfam, on the other hand, will distribute seeds on or before December 15. In addition to rice, DA is also working to rehabilitate corn, vegetable and livestock areas in the region. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/542537/fao-oxfam-send-support-to-farmers-in-easternvisayas#ixzz2mwkcdGos
Farmers push for bill banning aerial spraying in PH plantations By Germelina Lacorte Inquirer Mindanao 4:16 pm | Sunday, December 8th, 2013
FILE PHOTO DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Environment and small farmers’ groups are rooting for the bill that would effectively ban aerial spraying not only here but also in the entire country once passed in Congress. Dagohoy Magaway, president of the farmers’ group Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (MAAS), said small farmers have expressed support for House Bill 481, or an “act banning aerial spray of pesticides and other hazardous substances and for other purposes” filed by Akbayan Reps. Walden Bello and Kaka Bag-ao recently in Congress. He said they have decided to support the bill while waiting for the Supreme Court ruling on the aerial spray ban ordinance in the city, which has been contested by big banana growers’ and exporters’ group, for its projected adverse impact on the banana industry, Mindanao’s biggest export earner. The proposed bill cited the Department of Health (DOH) study showing the negative effects of pesticides on the health of people in communities near banana plantations. The DOH and the Commission on Human Rights earlier recommended a ban on aerial spraying for violating the people’s right to a healthy life and environment. The bill adopts the ban recommended by the DOH and CHR and prescribes a heavy penalty for pilots and aircraft owners who would continue to do aerial spray once the bill is approved.
“It’s about time that we really look into agricultural practices that may affect the health of the people,” said Davao City Councilor Leonardo Avila III, who supported the aerial spray ban ordinance the city council passed in 2007. Avila said the Davao City Council was merely exercising the police power of the local government when it declared the aerial spray practice as a “nuisance,” since the pesticide drift could reach areas not targeted by the aerial spray. An Akbayan partylist representative recently filed House Bill 481, after earlier similar bills, including HB 3381 filed by the Bayan Muna Partylist in Congress, did not prosper. “Now, we are hopeful because other groups, including those of Gabriela Women’s Rep. Luz Ilagan are also supporting the bill,” said Mary Ann Fuertes, executive director of the Interface for Development Intervention (Idis). A study released by Idis in April this year found traces of pesticides in the air and water samples taken from three random sites in the Talomo-Lipadas and Panigan-Tamugan watershed areas, the current and future sources of drinking water in Davao city, a fact partly blamed on the spray drifts and the common practice by plantations of using pesticides. Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/542623/farmers‐push‐for‐bill‐banning‐aerial‐spraying‐in‐ph‐ plantations#ixzz2mwjYwSxS Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
Aquino urged to bare PHL agenda in meeting of world trade groups Category: Agri-Commodities 08 Dec 2013 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga THE Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilpinas (Pamalakaya) said President Aquino should publicly disclose the agenda of the Philippine delegation in the recently held Ninth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) held in Bali, Indonesia, from December 3 to 6. Gerry Albert Corpuz, information officer of Pamalakaya said the Aquino administration should not keep its negotiating position like a top government secret and tell the people the agenda of the Philippine representatives who went to attend the top‐level meeting. Corpuz said it is highly suspicious for the Aquino administration not to disclose its agenda, considering the importance of the WTO meeting. Filipino activists went to Bali to hold protests against the WTO. Corpuz said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) led by Secretary Gregory Domingo had been asked to share the government position on the Ninth ministerial meeting of WTO in the tourist capital of Indonesia. Corpuz said Domingo did not disclose what was going on in Bali, as well as the official position of the Philippine government in the WTO ministerial meet. “Everything is kept in the secret room of Malacañang and the Philippine trade department. This is a national foul play done in the name of the United States and global capital,” Corpuz said. The Philippines is one of the 158 nations which approved the Bali package of the ninth ministerial meet of WTO. The Philippine trade chief said the Bali package includes cutting red tape in customs and port procedures while granting less‐developed countries temporary dispensation from subsidy limits and some preferential trade concessions. The DTI argued that overall, the Philippines will benefit from the Bali package. Under the agriculture agreement, developing countries like the Philippines will be able to maintain and expand its public stockholding for food security free from WTO dispute. Earlier, KMP National chairman Rafael Mariano chided WTO Director Roberto Azevedo and called him a liar and a rabid apologist of WTO, and a salesman of neo‐liberal globalization.
Mariano, also a former party‐list representative of Anakpawis, slammed the prediction of Azevedo that the global economy will increase by $1 million if the Bali package is ratified by the trade ministers. “How could that be? WTO is beyond repair and beyond review. The global community of people is witnessing and enjoying the downfall of an empire known as WTO,” he said. Jonathan L. Mayuga http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri-commodities/24038-aquino-urged-tobare-phl-agenda-in-meeting-of-world-trade-groups
DA bans cutting of coconut trees as millions decimated Category: Agri-Commodities 08 Dec 2013 Written by Alladin S. Diega / Correspondent ALARMED by the extent of damage to coconut trees in Regions 6 and 8 brought by Supertyphoon Yolanda (international code name Haiyan), the Department of Agriculture (DA) has ordered suspension on cutting coconut trees for lumber. The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) has suspended the issuance of permit to cut coconut trees and transport permit with few exceptions, PCA said in a statement on Friday. The PCA said that coconut trees deemed “beyond recovery” can be cut for lumber, even in areas hit by Yolanda, e.g., Regions 6, 7, 8 and the Mimaropa region. Likewise, this exception is given to areas damaged by Typhoon Pablo (international code name Bopha), like Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley in Region 11. Coconut trees heavily infested by the scale insect and also classified as “beyond recovery” can be sawed off. Likewise, trees that pose danger to life and property, that are affected by the eminent domain rule, or property boundaries can be cut. Included in the exception are coconut trees covered by land use or conversion orders issued by the DA and the Department of Agrarian Reform. Farmers are also allowed to cut coconut trees for personal use for not more than five individual trees and which are considered no longer productive. In its third quarter report for major nonfood crops, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) said during the July-to-September 2013 period, coconut production was estimated at 4.17 million metric tons or 3 percent less than last year’s production of 4.30 MMT. Around 98 percent were harvested as mature nuts, while 2 percent were harvested as young nuts, which were 3 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively lower than the corresponding outputs in July-to-September 2012. The BAS, also an attached bureau of the DA, blamed Typhoon Labuyo for the lower outputs. Pablo, internationally designated as Utor, battered the Aurora province in mid-August, causing the production on mature coconut to drop by 38.5 percent or by 14,830 metric tons (MT). Cutting and replanting of trees were also reported in Oriental Mindoro according to the BAS, reducing number of bearing trees by 2.2 percent resulting to a 7.9-percent (2,020 MT) drop in the province’s production.
In Batangas cutting of trees infected by the scale insect caused the production of mature coconut to drop by 20.3 percent. The BAS also said shifting from coconut to rubber farming in Basilan reduced the area and the number of mature coconut trees, resulting to a 10-percent decrease in production in the province. Pablo’s damage in Davao Region reduced coconut production in Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental and Davao del Norte by 32.9 percent, 40.6 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively. More than 32 million trees were damaged by Yolanda in Samar and Leyte areas, and another 2 million in Region 6, according to PCA. The coconut authority also said that Pablo damaged 5.4 million coco trees in Davao area, raising to almost 40 million the number of coconut trees damaged. Damaged trees were allowed to be cut in the typhoon-affected areas to prevent Rhinoceros beetles from multiplying. These beetles multiply by eating decayed trees. Felled trees can provide millions of board feet for housing and public buildings for the typhoon victims, the PCA also said in its statement. According to the BAS, the top coconut producers were Eastern Visayas with 13.6 percent share to the national total followed by Davao region with 12.8 percent, and Calabarzon with 11.9 percent. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri‐commodities/24040‐da‐bans‐cutting‐of‐ coconut‐trees‐as‐millions‐decimated
FDA: ‘GMOs food safe, requires no labeling’ Category: Agri-Commodities 08 Dec 2013 Written by Alladin S. Diega PROPONENTS of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as safe‐to‐eat gained the upper‐hand as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in a statement on Friday it will not require labeling of GM products. GMOs virtually has no difference from conventional food, is not cancer‐causing, and has been proven safe for human health under numerous tests, the FDA statement said. According to the food authority, packaged products containing GM crops like the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn and those that are not yet in the market, the Bt eggplant and the Vitamin A‐ rich Golden Rice, have no verifiable difference from any other conventional crops, adding that labeling is only mandatory if there are safety issues. “These are as safe as the usual crops in the market. The nutrition contents too are substantially equivalent compared to usual farmers’ produce, so why GM food should be labeled?” Oscar Gutierrez Jr., chairman of the FDA Policy Planning Office, was quoted in the statement as saying. Controversies ON May 17, the Special 13th Division of the Court of Appeals issued a ruling to permanently stop confined field trials of Bt eggplant because these allegedly pose risks to human health and the environment. The appellate court said the field trials of Bt talong (Bt eggplant) are unsafe to humans and environment and that the government of Philippines has failed to adopt sufficient biosafety protocols, as well as feasibility studies on GMOs to protect the environment and people’s health. The groups Masipag (Farmer‐Scientist Partnership for Development), Greenpeace Southeast Asia, and other advocates against GMOs contend that Bt eggplant is genetically modified to produce its own toxin to kill the eggplant fruit and shoot borer. According to these groups, genetic engineering disrupts the precise sequence of genetic codes, disturbing the functions of neighboring genes, and that when consumed; GM foods may give rise to potentially toxic or allergenic molecules or even alter the nutritional value. Concerns were also raised over genetic contamination, wherein a GMO crop reproduces once released in the open via pollination and interacts genetically with natural varieties of the same crop. Bt corn has contaminated the indigenous varieties of corn in Oaxaca, Mexico, a rich gene pool for maize varieties, according to a study published in academic science journal Nature.
In an earlier interview, Masipag said that prospects of export for Philippine organic corn, and eventually rice, might be affected once contamination is proven. Last month the Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary for Operations Dante S. Delima said the country has already shipped out 350 metric tons of organic rice to several countries. Biotechnology was identified by the agriculture department as one of the strategies of the government to pursue its food staples sufficiency program in improving the production of staple foods to feed the burgeoning population. Differences ACCORDING to the FDA, the difference between GM and non‐GM crops is the presence of recombinant DNA or the protein gene that is present in GM crops. However, in the process of cooking the GM crop, the protein is destroyed or denatured, the FDA said. “Once cooked, it’s no longer there. The food no longer carries the verifiable recombinant DNA. So what is there to label?” Gutierrez said, adding that in processed products like corn oil or corn syrup which are by‐products of both GM and non‐GM crops, nutritional content is practically the same in all aspects. Bt corn, which contains the Bt protein, cannot harm humans because it will need an alkaline environment to be activated, and human guts are acidic, Antonio A. Alfonso said in an interview. Alfonso, director of DA’s Crop Biotechnology Center, added that the human body does not have receptors in their cells to receive the insecticidal protein. Guidelines IN its “Draft Guidelines on Labeling of Prepackaged Foods Derived from or Containing Ingredients from Modern Biotechnology,” the food and drug agency indicated that it will not require labeling for GM packaged foods. “Special labeling shall not be required for prepackaged food products derived from modern biotechnology that is highly processed as to eliminate the verifiable presence of recombinant DNA [rDNA] or its resulting protein. [These] are substantially equivalent compared with its conventional counterpart or as safe,” it added. The regulation is in accord with the food safety standards Codex Alimentarius listed in the “Compilation of Codex Texts Relevant to Labelling of Foods Derived from Modern Biotechnology.”
Special labels will only be required when there is safety concern about food, according to the guidelines, and this only in instances that “significant change in composition, level of toxin, toxicity, allergenicity, nutritional value, or intended use of the food product as compared to its comparator.” The Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) was established by the Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization in 1963 to develop harmonized international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair trade practices. The commission also promotes coordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non‐governmental organizations like European Food Safety Authority and International Life Science Inc. The Sanitary Phytosanitary Agreement of the World Trade Organization ensures that internationally traded food meets the standards based on the scientific principles set by the CAC. Advisory IN its Advisory 2013‐014 on “Safety of GM Food Produced through Modern Biotechnology” dated June 24, 2013, the FDA stated that food‐safety assessment of biotechnology products “is more rigorous,” compared to other conventionally bred crops. “For the GM food crops that have undergone food‐safety assessment and approval process, the consensus of scientific opinion and evidence is that the application of GM technology introduces no unique food safety concerns and up to this time there is no single case of evidence of harm in man,” the FDA said. The FDA also said with GM crops, Filipino farmers who do not want to plant biotech crops may use conventional seeds that are widely available. Farmers planting corn have chosen to plant the GM Bt corn which as of 2012 occupied 719,446 hectares. This area was up from 685,372 hectares in 2011 and was a steady increase from around 10,000 hectares when it was first planted in 2003, it noted. Alladin S. Diega http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri‐commodities/24039‐fda‐gmos‐food‐safe‐ requires‐no‐labeling
Export opportunities for agri cited By Louella D. Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 9, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Philippine businesses are advised to take advantage of lucrative export opportunities in agriculture as well as in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector to increase trade with Malaysia. The Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. said in a statement that according to Malaysia External Trade Development Corp. Trade Commissioner Har Man Ahmad, Malaysia’s imports of agricultural and processed food products and crude rubber from the Philippines remain low. He said shipments to Malaysia are still dominated by electrical and electronic products which comprise more than half of total major imports from the Philippines. “I think the crude rubber can be developed into one of the major export products to Malaysia...only a portion of the rubber plantations are in the southern part of Malaysia and our technology is very far advanced so we still need more supply of crude rubber,” he said. He said there are opportunities in agriculture products, particularly mango and pineapple-based goods. “So far, we have been importing a lot from Thailand and I think due to the strength of agricultural goods in the Philippines, (this is) something that most probably the Filipinos should look at,” he said. He said other products that the Philippines can export to Malaysia include processed food; refined petroleum products; chemical products; manufactures of metal; as well as machinery, appliances and parts. Opportunities in ICT, he also said, can be explored. “We look at the Philippines because we have a very limited talent and the cost of doing business is getting higher. So the best way is to have it established here or we outsource from a local Filipino company by using the local talent which is being recognized as one of the (most) talented (manpower) in terms of the ICT industries,” he noted. Moreover, he said there are opportunities in the following sectors in Malaysia: automotive parts; business services; defense, aerospace and maritime; food and beverage; health and medical; infrastructure, building and construction; and oil and gas sectors. The Philippines is Malaysia’s 19th import source with purchases amounting to $1.55 billion in 2012. In terms of exports, the Philippines is Malaysia’s 17th largest market with sales reaching $3.39 billion last year. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/12/09/1265771/export‐opportunities‐agri‐cited
Visayas poultry sector reeling from impact of Yolanda By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 9, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Poultry raiser Bounty Fresh said the poultry industry in the Visayas is now reeling from the impact of Super Typhoon Yolanda as poultry population in the region decreases significantly and contract-growers suffer infrastructure damages. Bountry Fresh director Edwin Chen said they are now rallying their contract growers and dealers in the region to participate in rehabilitation measures to revive production. “The poultry industry is hard-hit. The major egg-producing site in the Visayas is Bantayan Island located north of Cebu. Around 80 to 90 percent of the operations there were destroyed,” he said. Bantayan Island supplies eggs to typhoon-battered Samar and Leyte. Chen estimates that of the original population of one million layers in Bantayan Island, only around 100,000 were left after the storm. The company’s contract growers in Visayas also suffered damages to their layer buildings. The company, Chen said, has coordinated with the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) for the provision of soft loans for growers. After the buildings are repaired, the company will resume supply of layer chicks. “We are encouraging our contract growers to immediately repair their layer buildings. The government is willing to extend soft loans to contract growers so they can conduct repairs or buy new equipment,” he said. The company is also urging their dealers to grow ready to lay pullets themselves for distribution while contract growers are repairing layer houses. While egg supply is scant in Visayas, Bounty Fresh is augmenting supply coming from hatcheries in Luzon and Mindanao. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/12/09/1265773/visayas‐poultry‐sector‐reeling‐impact‐yolanda
Philippine rice, coconut crops hurt most from typhoon by Reuters December 8, 2013
Agricultural production losses from Typhon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines last month, are estimated to reach 8.6 billion pesos ($195 million) while damage to agricultural infrastructure is estimated at 2.0 billion pesos($45 million), according to the USDA attache. Rice loss is projected at 147,000 tonnes – valued at 2.4 billion pesos or $55 million – less than one percent of national annual production. But the Philippine Department of Agriculture has authorized the imports of an additional 500,000 tonnes of rice to reinforce buffer stocks. “Coconut losses were estimated at over 1.5 billion pesos ($34 million) involving 42,000 hectares, while fisheries suffered similar losses (1.5 billion pesos or $34 million). The Philippine Government official death toll stood at 5,500 people as of Nov. 30 and the Department of Agriculture estimated some one million fishermen and farmers have, at least temporarily, lost their livelihoods. http://www.mb.com.ph/philippine-rice-coconut-crops-hurt-most-from-typhoon/
Coco oil exports up By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 9, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Coconut oil exports rose year-on-year in November on sustained demand from key markets and stable copra supply, according to the United Coconut Association of the Philippines (UCAP). Preliminary data from UCAP showed that coconut oil shipments in November bounced back to the normal exportation level of 72, 750 metric tons (MT) in November against 43, 427 MT in the same period last year. “We are comparing with a low base when copra supply was tight but now we have returned to normal levels,” said UCAP Executive Director Yvonne Agustin. Despite the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda to coconut estates in Visayas, Agustin said the country has enough copra stockpile to meet the aggregate export target of 1.1 million MT for this year. Agustin noted that in the first eleven months of the year, total shipments stood at 1.036 million MT. “It’s very likely that we will hit the target,” she said. The industry, she said, is still assessing the effects of typhoon devastation to copra stockpile for next year. “There will of course be a reduction in (production) volume (of copra) and we will feel the effects of this next year. But we are still determining this,” Agustin said. The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) has said that over 34 million trees have been confirmed damaged by Typhoon Yolanda in Samar, Leyte, and in Western Visayas. This comprises 10 percent of 340 million coconut trees in the country. To protect the population of coconut trees in the affected provinces, the PCA has suspended the issuance of cutting and transport permits for surviving trees. Only damaged trees in typhoon-affected areas could be cut and transported to prevent decay and infestation of rhinoceros beetles. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/12/09/1265775/coco‐oil‐exports
Veggie farming by Chito A. Chavez December 8, 2013
Manila, Philippines — The Manila Seedling Bank Foundation, Inc. (MSBFI) on December 9, suggested that typhoon-hit provinces of Leyte and Samar should adopt the “Gulayan sa Barangay’’ project of Quezon City to augment their food supply. Leonardo Ligeralde, president of MSBFI said, promoting vegetable farming will provide the survivors a source of food supply to complement the reforestation project that would replace uprooted trees destroyed by the supertyphoon. Since some vegetables are ready for harvest for several days, the victims’ “fangs of hunger will somewhat be neutralized’’ as they will be able to partake nutritious food while decreasing their over-reliance to relief goods. “We can just boil camote tops or similar vegetables. They are easy to prepare and can be cooked in a few minutes. They are also valuable sources of nutrition,’’ Ligeralde said. Ligeralde explained that trees require about 15 years to fully mature while vegetable gardening provides them with source of food for a week or two. Earlier, the foundation launched “Gulayan sa Barangay’’ program in which vegetable seeds were distributed in Quezon City’s 142 barangays to provide and sustain proper nutrition in the community level. http://www.mb.com.ph/veggie‐farming/
Fake Saros also involved bogus beneficiaries By Gil C. Cabacungan Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:30 am | Monday, December 9th, 2013
Not only forged signatures but also bogus beneficiary towns. These were found on the spurious special allotment release orders (Saros) that a syndicate believed to be operating in the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) produced for P879 million worth of farm-to-market road projects. In an affidavit, Maria Karisma Rea B. Agarao, a special technical assistant handling projects implemented by the Department of Agriculture (DA), said it was “impossible” for the Saro to be released, as the DA had not yet submitted the network plan of the farm-to-market road projects to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). The Inquirer got a copy of the affidavit that Agarao submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation. Agarao, who works under the office of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, was referring to the fake Saro intended for Cagayan Valley and intercepted by DA Regional Executive Director Lucrecio R. Alviar Jr. on Oct. 22. The discovery of the fictitious document triggered the NBI probe of the fake Saros that covered other regions—Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon), Western Visayas and Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City). At first, the Saros were reported as fake mainly because the signature of Budget Undersecretary Luz Cantor was falsified. But documents received by the NBI showed that the list of projects attached to the papers were also phony based on Agarao’s testimony.
Projects, lawmakers The Saro for Cagayan Valley had a total of P161.6 million in farm-to-market road projects for funding—P30.6 million for Cagayan’s second district (Rep. Aline Vargas-Alfonso); P30 million for the lone district of Batanes (Rep. Henedina Abad); P23 million for the lone district of Quirino (Rep. Dakila Cua); P20 million for the third district of Cagayan (Rep. Randolph Ting); A total of P18 million for the first district of Isabela (Rep. Rodolfo Albano III); P15 million for the second district of Isabela (Rep. Ana Cristina Go); P12 million for the third district of Isabela (Rep. Napoleon Dy), and P10 million for the fourth district of Isabela (Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao). The funds were supposedly for 28 barangays (villages) in 22 municipalities in Cagayan Valley. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said his department could not release the Saros because the list of recipients was not final. “The reason the DBM could not act on the request for allotment for the farm-to-market roads was the absence of an accompanying network plan for the project listings as required by the GAA (General Appropriations Act),” Abad said. “The network plan ensures that the farm-to-market roads are strategically located, i.e. they connect to a post-harvest facility, or to a national road, or to a market, or to a tourism zone or to a port facility or airport.” While the GAA earmarked funds for DA projects, it was still up to the agency to identify these projects. An Inquirer source in the DBM said the syndicate could cause the release of funds even with fake Saros. The actual cash comes when the notice of cash allocation is issued by the DBM.
Abad, however, has said no government money was lost in the Saro scam that was recently uncovered. As good as cash A DBM insider, who refused to be named for lack of authority to speak on the matter, said the Saros were as good as cash, as those with access to these documents could use them to get advances from both mayors or contractors who want to get a first crack at these projects. The informant claimed the fake Saro scam had been operating for years through several administrations, with the connivance of certain DBM officials who have access to these papers and of accomplices from Congress who were influential on how government funds were spent.
The source claimed the DBM syndicate did not wait for the agency to identify the projects, as they pushed the fake Saros with its choice of projects. If the mayor or the contractor did not agree to make advances, the DBM insider said the syndicate would just issue another Saro covering another set of projects. This was the reason some department heads were surprised to get Saros complete with handpicked project beneficiaries, even without any input from their agency. House personnel The NBI has already summoned Enrico Arao, an aide to Cagayan Representative Alfonso, who was caught holding the fake Saro for Cagayan Valley. Arao pointed to Joel Badong, a member of the secretariat staff of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, as the source of the document. Badong, in turn, claimed he got the fake Saros from Emmanuel Raza, an aide to Zamboanga City Rep. Lilia Macrohon-Nuño, who has yet to appear in the NBI probe. Badong has been transferred to another office in the House while Raza has filed a one-month leave. Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/542781/fake‐saros‐had‐bogus‐beneficiaries‐says‐da‐assistants‐ affidavit#ixzz2mwvtxpPL Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
Rehab efforts to spur growth Category: Top News 08 Dec 2013 Written by Cai U. Ordinario, Bianca Cuaresma and Butch Fernandez THE World Bank believes that the government’s growth targets up to 2015 will still be met if the Philippines will be able to implement speedy reconstruction and rehabilitation measures in the areas hit by Supertyphoon Yolanda (international code name Haiyan). Also, the research arm of a major global bank said the Philippine economy will return to robust growth as early as the first quarter of next year and will grow by about 7.3 percent for the entire 2014. According to the 2014 outlook of the international financial institution Citi, the trend in the Philippines will remain positive beyond the near‐term effects of Yolanda. Citi said the devastation brought by the super typhoon, which crippled areas in the Visayas, is expected to further slow the growth in the last three months of the year. The Philippines reported a gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 7 percent in the months of July to September this year, significantly slower compared to the 7.5‐ percent growth in the second quarter of the year and the 7.7‐percent growth in the first three months of the year. The bank said the rehabilitation and rebuilding efforts in the typhoon‐hit areas will prompt a “sharp recovery” in the first quarter of next year. The bank also cited the deployment of excess liquidity and the gradually rising rates as “key drivers” of the Philippine economy. Citi also said it expects the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to keep the policy rates in the last monetary‐policy meeting of the year on December 12. However, the central bank is likely to hike policy rates by 50 basis points in the second half of next year, as inflation is seen to stay within the range of 4 percent to 5 percent in the coming months. Citi also said the current account of the country is expected to remain in the surplus. However, Citi warned of downside risks in the Philippine economy, including the risk of reversal of flows and the sharp inflation pressures that may trigger and earlier‐than‐expected policy‐ rate hike and further delays in the public‐private partnership projects. In a statement sent over the weekend, World Bank Philippines Lead Economist Rogier van den Brink said post‐Yolanda gross domestic product (GDP) growth will likely be at 6.9 percent in 2013, 6.5 percent in 2014 and 7.1 percent in 2015. Van den Brink said the growth forecast for 2013 and 2014 were downgraded from World Bank’s initial estimate of 7 percent this year and 6.7 percent next year. The growth in 2015,
meanwhile, was higher than the initial 6.8‐percent forecast made by the Washington‐based lender. Based on the Philippine Development Plan (PDP), the government’s growth target this year is 6 percent to 7 percent; 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent in 2014; and 7 percent to 8 percent in 2015. “The costs of Yolanda’s reconstruction program include the substantial mark‐up for both the private and the public sector to rebuild at the higher standards needed to deal with the more extreme weather events caused by climate change. Going forward, finding a fiscally sustainable solution to deal with these ever more frequent events and maintaining the current excellent economic performance will be key,” Van den Brink said. Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank vice president for East Asia and the Pacific, said the timely implementation of the recovery and reconstruction program will reduce the economic and social impact of the typhoon. “In my short visit to Tacloban, I was able to get a sense of the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda and have been impressed by how people are coping and working extremely hard to clean up, rebuild and start the long road towards normalization. The World Bank will stand by people in the affected communities in their reconstruction efforts over the months and years ahead,” van Trotsenburg said. The World Bank said recovery and reconstruction covers various areas like humanitarian relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation of public infrastructure and social safety‐net programs. These efforts also include livelihood activities like farming and fishing and public grants for targeted interventions to replace some of the private assets or properties of the poor and most vulnerable, including their homes. These have already been included in the government’s short‐, medium‐, and long‐term plans in areas destroyed by Yolanda. The National Economic and Development Authority has been tasked to spearhead this activity. “Recovery and reconstruction are really all about people—about children going back to school or members of affected communities regaining their productive lives. Timely implementation will enable the typhoon‐affected communities to rebuild their homes, their livelihoods and infrastructure faster and better, thereby mitigating the disaster’s social impact while maintaining the country’s growth momentum,” Motoo Konishi, country director of World Bank, said. “Reconstruction efforts will take a long time and the country, its leaders, and development partners will need perseverance and persistence. The World Bank Group is a long‐term partner of the Filipino people in this endeavor. We are steadfast in our commitment to help the country recover from this tragedy and will continue to support the Filipino people’s efforts to build a more resilient and prosperous Philippines,” he added.
The World Bank Group’s board of executive directors recently approved the $500‐million quick‐ disbursing budget support that the government can use in dealing with the short‐term recovery and reconstruction efforts. The newly approved budget support is a Development Policy Loan (DPL) designed to provide quick‐disbursing assistance to countries undertaking reforms. The bank said DPLs support policy and institutional changes needed to create an environment conducive to sustained and equitable growth as defined by borrower‐countries’ development agenda. A week after Typhoon Yolanda’s landfall, the government started formulating the recovery and reconstruction plan while humanitarian aid relief efforts were underway. To support the planning process, the World Bank Group quickly deployed its disaster risk management specialists to help the government assess damages and identify priority areas for immediate short‐term recovery and reconstruction support. Lacson’s EO out soon MALACAÑANG expects to issue “anytime soon” the awaited executive order (EO) defining the duties and powers of former Sen. Panfilo Lacson, President Aquino’s new point man as post‐ Yolanda rehabilitation czar. “At the soonest possible time, we expect to release this EO and we will make the corresponding announcement right away,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said on Sunday. Mr. Aquino, who has yet to sign the EO, had earlier indicated to Palace reporters that Lacson’s post as the President’s overseer in the Yolanda rehabilitation efforts, would be conferred with a Cabinet rank because he will serve as overall coordinator of the massive rebuilding. He also told a media forum last week that he picked Lacson for his “no‐nonsense” approach in his job and because he is confident that Lacson, as rehab czar, will make sure none of the billions of pesos budgeted for rehabilitation would be misused. In separate interviews, Lacson, who is due to visit Tacloban City next week for an initial firsthand appraisal of the devastation, said he has already lined up a series of meetings with government officials, engineers and experts in finance and reconstruction. He also met with the head of the Land Registration Authority to discuss how to reconstitute land titles and records destroyed by the typhoon. Lacson had said such reconstitution of titles is his top priority because he wants to deter land grabbing and ensure any rehabilitation is not disrupted by conflicting property claims. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/top‐news/24046‐rehab‐efforts‐to‐spur‐growth
SC asks Noy for P4‐B new building By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 9, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has asked President Aquino for P4 billion for a new building amid the controversy on Malacañang’s use of billions in government savings under its disbursement acceleration program (DAP). Tomorrow, the SC is set to tackle petitions questioning the constitutionality of DAP. “They have forwarded their request to the President for at least P4 billion for a new building because they are being asked to move out of their present location,” a senior member of the House of Representatives’ appropriations committee told The STAR yesterday. The source said the lot and building housing the highest court belong to the University of the Philippines-Manila, which has advised the SC that it needs its property. UP-Manila also owns and runs the Philippine General Hospital, which serves as its school of medicine. The source said the highest court’s funding request came while Congress and the Palace are scrounging for money for victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda, the Cebu-Bohol earthquake and previous devastating storms like Pablo, Santi and Sendong, and the Zamboanga crisis. “We are mobilizing all savings, unused appropriations and other funds available for the victims and the reconstruction of their communities,” the committee member said. “If there are available funds for the SC request, they will come from DAP, which is a savings pool. Will the Supreme Court accept DAP funds?” the source asked. The lawmaker said the SC could source part of the funds needed for its new building from its own savings.
There is apparently increasing friction between the SC and House members as a result of the recent decision of the tribunal striking down the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or congressional pork barrel as unconstitutional. Over the weekend, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, a member of the ruling Liberal Party, verbalized the collective sentiments of his colleagues against the decision, calling it a flipflop. “This is quite perplexing because about a year earlier, on April 24, 2012, the same Supreme Court declared the PDAF as constitutional,” Umali said. He said last year’s decision was consistent with two other previous SC rulings on the same issue. Umali, who was a member of the House prosecution panel in the Senate impeachment trial of former chief justice Renato Corona, said the SC even explained how PDAF worked in its 2012 ruling. He quoted the decision: “The DBM (Department of Budget and Management) lays down the guidelines for the disbursement of the fund. The members of Congress are requested by the President to recommend projects and programs, which may be funded from the PDAF. The list... is endorsed by the Speaker to the DBM, which reviews and determines whether such projects submitted are consistent with the guidelines and priorities set by the Executive.” The SC ruled that the petition filed by the Lawyers Against Monopoly and Poverty against PDAF “is seriously wanting in establishing that individual members of Congress receive and thereafter spend funds out of PDAF.” “Although the possibility of this unscrupulous practice cannot be entirely discounted, surmises and conjectures are not sufficient bases for the Court to strike down the practice for being offensive to the Constitution. Moreover, the authority granted the members of Congress to propose and select projects was already upheld in Philconsa (a previous case),” the SC ruling stated. “Why the flip-flop? Whatever happened to the doctrine of adherence to precedents, when just a year ago the same court ruled the PDAF is constitutional?” Umali asked. He accused the tribunal of showing “despotic behavior” and usurping presidential power in its newest ruling when it ordered prosecutorial agencies to investigate and file cases against all those involved in PDAF misuse. He cited “conflicting” decisions in two similar election cases involving his colleagues, which have reached the Supreme Court: those of Regina Reyes of Marinduque and Angelina Tan of Quezon. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/12/09/1265887/sc‐asks‐noy‐p4‐b‐new‐building
Bayan says looming power rate hike unjust, anti‐consumer By Dennis Carcamo (philstar.com) | Updated December 9, 2013 ‐ 9:34am
MANILA, Philippines - Militant group Bayan said on Monday that the public should oppose the impending power rate increase even if it is implemented on a staggered basis. "The supposed P3.44 per kilowatt hour increase in generation charges will be collected via two tranches allegedly because of the power distributor is sensitive to the plight of the people," Bayan said.Electric distributor Meralco and the Energy Regulator Commission will be meeting today on the final details of the implementation of the jacked-up generation rates that will be passed on to the people, Bayan added.The group noted that any power rate hike now is "unjust," and "anti-consurmer." "We maintain that the latest price hike, whether collected in full or on a staggered basis, is patently unjust. The entire scheme of a deregulated power sector, where automatic adjustments are the norm, is anti-consumer. Added costs are passed on to end-users without any government or public scrutiny," Bayan said. "The idea of automatic recovery gives distributors the wide latitude to contract power at onerous rates, and to pass on added costs without regard for the consumers' welfare. Automatic recovery has become a disincentive for seeking lower-priced power supply. "The ERC practice of reviewing the pass on charges after these have been implemented, supposedly to determine over and under recoveries, is an afterthought that does not protect consumers who have already paid the higher monthly rates," Bayan added.Bayan also pointed out that since Congress passed the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA), the promise of lower power rates has yet to materialize. "The so-called Wholesale Electricity Spot Market which supposedly would encourage competition and lower rates has also proved to be a failure and in fact it has become one of the factors why power rates have gone up. "The rate hike is made even more burdensome with the inclusion of the VAT (value added tax) on power which taxes all items on the electric bill, including systems losses," Bayan said.Bayan also said that the probe of the House of Representatives on the power rate hike must determine whether automatic recoveries under the EPIRA and the passing on of charges related to maintenance work on power plants is just.Aside from Bayan, members of the women's group Gabriela are set to picket outside the ERC building in Pasig City where a hearing on the power rate hike will be conducted this morning. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/12/09/1266011/bayan-says-looming-power-rate-hikeunjust-anti-consumer
Emergency management agency pushed Category: Top News 08 Dec 2013 Written by Mia M. Gonzalez SEN. Antonio Trillanes IV on Sunday reiterated the urgency of creating an Emergency Management Agency (EMA) under the Office of the President (OP) to replace the existing National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). Trillanes made the statement in a recent hearing of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, which he chairs, in light of recent events that highlight the need for a “permanent, full‐time” agency under the OP, which he proposed under Senate Bill 819. “Our country, being vulnerable to all sorts of calamities and emergencies, demands that we elevate our disaster preparedness and mitigation response mechanism by creating a permanent, full‐time agency such as EMA,” he said. Trillanes said Republic Act 10121, which created the NDRRMC, is flawed since it placed the agency under the Department of National Defense (DND), and, as such, only gets a “small budget slice of DND.” “Also, under the current setup, the secretary of national defense serves as the head of NDRRMC. But because of the full‐time demand of the national defense, he can only focus on the NDRRMC during calamities,” Trillanes said. The senator had earlier filed SB 819 seeking the establishment of the EMA, which would be directly under the OP, “enabling it to utilize more resources, and initiate firmer policy actions,” his office said in a statement. “Unlike NDRRMC which is limited to natural calamities, EMA defines national emergency situations to include man-made disasters like fire, disease outbreak, etc.,” Trillanes said. Under SB 819, the EMA will cover “all aspects of emergency situations” and will be in charge of crafting policies to reduce the risk of disasters and damage to life and property, initiate rapid and effective disaster response, and effectively manage post-disaster recovery. The EMA will also be tasked to develop a comprehensive national emergency and disasterpreparedness plan. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/top‐news/24041‐emergency‐management‐ agency‐pushed
Transport groups eye P2 fare hike By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 9, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
ERC tackles Meralco rate hike petition MANILA, Philippines - Filipinos may not be in for a happy new year amid petitions for fare and power rate increases starting next month. Various transport groups led by the Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (ACTO) are scheduled to ask the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Wednesday for a P2 fare increase. ACTO president Efren de Luna told The STAR yesterday that they would be joined in their motion by the 1-United Transport Koalisyon (1-Utak) and the Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (ALTODAP). De Luna said they are seeking the fare adjustment amid the continuing hike in fuel prices, taxes directly collected by the national government, and even the increase in the prices of vehicle spare parts. The groups said they would ask the LTFRB to allow a P.50 provisional fare hike while waiting for a decision on their main petition. De Luna said they want the adjustment to happen next month. “We will not ask for the increase to be implemented this December. It’s our Christmas gift to our fellow Filipinos,” he said. “I think there is no reason for the LTFRB not to grant it,” De Luna said, citing that when the LTFRB set the minimum fare at P8.50 a few years ago, operators and drivers took it upon themselves to lower it by P.50 because fuel prices went down.
ERC deliberations today Meanwhile, the Energy Regulatory Commission, the power regulator, is set to deliberate today on how the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the country’s biggest power distributor, could best implement the impending all-time high increase in electricity rates with the least burden on its more than five million customers. Meralco is eyeing to implement a record increase of P3.4937 per kilowatt-hour in generation charge in two tranches and has thumbed down Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla’s appeal to do a staggered increase in three tranches or P1.165 per kwh a month up to February. But Meralco head of utility economics Larry Fernandez said the two-tranche rate hike scheme is not yet final as it would still depend on the ERC. “All options will be presented to the commission. We will then announce final implementation after that,” Fernandez told The STAR. The P3.4937 per kilowatt-hour increase in generation charge would bring December’s generation rate to a record P9.107 per kwh from only P5.66 per kwh in November.The increase is due to the month-long maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya deep water gas-to-power project, which supplies natural gas to three power plants in Luzon. The three plants sourcing power from Malampaya are the 1,200 MW Ilijan combined cycle natural gas plant owned by Kepco Philippines Corp. and the 1,000 MW Sta. Rita and 500 MW San Lorenzo natural gas facilities owned by First Gen Corp. of the Lopez group.The plant supplies electricity to three natural gas power plants in Luzon, accounting for 2,700 megawatts. In all, these power plants provide 40 percent of the electricity needs of Luzon. With the shutdown, the three power generation companies had to resort to the more expensive diesel fuel to run their plants.On top of this, Fernandez said the emergency outages of several plants also led to tighter supply and higher prices at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), the country’s trading floor for electricity. Petilla has appealed to Meralco to implement the increase in three phases, saying that December is an expense month and that additional increases in electricity bills would only be an added burden to consumers. He also said the energy department would look into the emergency outages of power plants that coincided with the Malampaya shutdown and led to tighter power supply and higher prices in the spot market.He declined to name the concerned power plants.Fernandez assured the public that the situation is expected to stabilize starting February. “Once all these outages are completed, generation costs should normalize and go down starting February 2014,” he said. – With Iris Gonzales http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/12/09/1265880/transport-groups-eye-p2-fare-hike
House chides Binay for mixing rehabilitation with politics By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 9, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and other leaders of the House of Representatives chided Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday for mixing the reconstruction of typhoon-ravaged communities with 2016 presidential politics. “We should avoid reading 2016 in our leaders’ actions and concentrate on rebuilding the lives of our people,” Belmonte said. He was reacting to Binay’s statement that former senator Panfilo Lacson, who has accepted President Aquino’s offer to lead the rehabilitation of typhoon-devastated areas, would be a welcome opponent in the next presidential election. “As for me, I have already declared right after the 2010 elections that, yes, I will be a candidate (for president),” Binay said. Two colleagues of Belmonte echoed his appeal to the vice president. “I think it is too early to talk about the 2016 presidential elections. All politicians should set aside their political plans right now and should focus their efforts and resources on addressing the immediate recovery of our country from the problems caused by the various calamities,” Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. of Dasmariñas City in Cavite said. Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
He said Binay’s statement left a bad taste in the mouth and was like the Vice President’s call for a ceasefire in Zamboanga City when soldiers were driving disgruntled Moro National Liberation Front rebels out of the villages they had occupied. He noted that city residents did not like Binay’s ceasefire proposal and even called him names. For his part, Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo said the Vice President should set aside his obsession to become Malacañang’s occupant. “Our leaders should single-mindedly focus on the rehabilitation of areas devastated by calamities, natural or manmade. Any statement about politics at this time is counterproductive. Let’s think about the welfare of our people first,” he said. He said those who are not being asked to help should just shut up.
Binay was criticized in the immediate aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda when he distributed relief packs with his name on them. The relief goods were reportedly packed at the National Housing Authority, one of the housing agencies under Binay. He later said his friends put his name on the relief packs. He visited some areas hit by the typhoon while Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin were attending to the needs of typhoon victims in Samar-Leyte. It is widely believed that Roxas would be the administration’s candidate for president in 2016. Early this month, President Aquino said it is too early to tell who would be the Liberal Party’s standard bearer in 2016. He also refused to give in to observations that he was “grooming” Roxas. – With Delon Porcalla http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/12/09/1265890/house‐chides‐binay‐mixing‐rehabilitation‐ politics
The President’s four mistakes Category: Opinion 08 Dec 2013 Written by Dong Puno / My View Point
I HAVE a list of four mistakes that have been made by President Aquino: 1. The acceptance of the resignation of Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon. The resignation of Biazon should not have been accepted; he should have been fired. When President Aquino made the “saan kumukuha ng kapal ng mukha” statement— obviously referring to Biazon—during his State of the Nation Address in July, he should have accepted that resignation. Making the man squirm is so uncharacteristic of the President. Biazon said he will write a book about his experiences in the Bureau of Customs, but won’t tell all. It seems he has not fully thought about the plan of writing it. If so, he should get to thinking it and write that book and tell all about his experiences. In that way, maybe, we can finally have a story and find out how his deputies missed the boat, so to speak, by missing their collection targets. 2. The prediction of 2,500 deaths. President Aquino should have predicted that the final death toll from Supertyphoon Yolanda (international code name Haiyan) would be over 2,500; the official figure is nearing 6,000. He should have made a more accurate prediction. Now, it’s too late, because the head of police in the region has been fired after saying the death toll may be as high as 10,000. How do you trust a person who predicts a number that is less than half of the actual toll? How do you trust a person who predicts the number of missing or injured people and of the houses that were destroyed? It’s a good thing we have Public Works Secretary Rogelio L. Singson to give us the real story. 3. The increase in the rates of electricity, water and gasoline/diesel. According to one account, the increase in the electricity rate will be big—as high as P3.44 per kilowatt‐
hour. The increase in the rate is one reason at least 60 percent of the population is suffering. The increase was granted by the Energy Regulatory Commission. 4. The unwarranted interference in Pacquiao’s case. President Aquino’s interference in the tax case of Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao of Sarangani province is unwarranted because, considering everything that has happened, he should get involved in other, greater crises. His interference is inauspicious. His involvement is also unnecessary, since Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Jacinto‐Henares has already gotten into the act, and she’s knowledgeable. That is where she should be and the President should not get involved. It can be predicted here that the President’s popularity ratings will continue to go down as the reality of these mistakes sinks in. When that happens, what does this do to the observation of his brain trust that he has done what he’s done because of his popularity numbers? http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/opinion/24026‐the‐president‐s‐four‐mistakes
Bicam hearing on 2014 budget open to the public Category: Economy 08 Dec 2013 Written by Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz A LAWMAKER on Sunday said the bicameral committee hearing on Tuesday for the proposed P2.268‐trillion 2014 national budget is open to the public. “We don’t see any problem opening the bicam to the public,” House Committee on Appropriations Chairman and Davao Rep. Isidro Ungab said. He said this will show that the lawmakers have nothing to hide. “No problem, we have nothing to hide. We support the government’s campaign for more transparency,” he said. In the Senate, Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Francis Escudero confirmed that the meeting will be open to the public on December 10 at the Senate in Pasay City. “I have already announced a month ago that the budget bicam will be open to the public. Schedule is on December 10 at 9 a.m. here at the Senate,” Escudero said. Ungab said the target dates for bicameral hearing are December 10, or the first day, at the Senate, and December 11 at the House of Representatives. “The budget can pass before the [Congress] Christmas break [on December 18] and signed by the President by December 23,” he added. But Ungab said the Congress secretariat is still completing some reports for the conference meeting. He said he is very optimistic that they could finish their inputs by Monday. “Both House and Senate staff are working overtime to finish the inputs for the bicameral conference committee. They are actually almost done and could finish it by Monday, so we can proceed with the bicameral conference committee meeting on Tuesday,” Ungab said. The Congress is expected to rehash the budget at the bicam meeting following the devastation caused by Supertyphoon Yolanda in the Visayas. The upper and lower chambers are eyeing to create a P15‐billion to P20‐billion rehabilitation fund. Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/economy/24034‐bicam‐hearing‐on‐2014‐ budget‐open‐to‐the‐public
‘Food aid from UK ends up in Manila shops’ By Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 9, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Food donations from the United Kingdom that were intended for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda have been diverted and sold for profit by corrupt local officials, a British paper reported yesterday. In an article posted on its website, The Daily Mail said emergency supplies delivered by military helicopters have turned up on the shelves of shops in affluent districts of Manila. “Crucial aid sent from Britain to help the victims of typhoon-ravaged areas of the Philippines is being siphoned off and sold for profit by corrupt local officials,” the report reads. The Daily Mail also reported that shelter equipment bought using British donations have been locked up in government warehouses and stockpiled alongside food items. UK-based charity groups are now concerned over the aid not benefiting the victims of Typhoon Yolanda. “The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) – an umbrella group representing 14 UK charities – expressed concern about evidence that suggests not all the £60 million of aid given by Britain is reaching those most in need,” the report said, adding that a spokesman for DEC wants to find out “what items are being sold and where.” The Daily Mail also quoted an expatriate identified as Keb Darge as saying that he has gotten death threats for stopping local officials who were pilfering aid in Eastern Samar. Darge reportedly said that only a tiny percentage of the donations are reaching typhoon victims. “The aid isn’t getting through to where it’s needed. I’ve seen the deliveries arrive and I’ve seen them disappear,” the report quoted Darge as saying.
“The situation isn’t going to improve unless there’s an investigation. Someone needs to go and find out exactly what is happening. It is British aid coming in. Why give it to untrustworthy officials to steal? It is ludicrous,” he added. The Daily Mail said Darge had photos of supplies being locked up instead of being distributed to affected residents. “People have warned me to take these threats seriously. They’ve said, ‘Be careful, they will shoot you if you carry on.” I’m under threat. There’s a price on my head,” the report quoted the expatriate as saying. The Daily Mail also quoted a Japanese aid worker as saying that local administrators were bringing relief goods to their homes. “There isn’t enough food getting through to people. We don’t have evidence but we believe it is being taken by officials,” aid worker Shiratori Koti was quoted as saying. Earlier, officials vowed to verify reports that food donations for Yolanda survivors are being sold in Makati City. The reports stemmed from online photos showing US military meal packs that are supposedly being sold in a department store. The meal packs contain the logo of the US defense department and the words, “Commercial resale is unlawful.” http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/12/09/1265888/food-aid-uk-ends-manila-shops
House to probe power-rate hike Category: Economy 08 Dec 2013 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent PARTY-LIST Rep. Carlos Isagani T. Zarate of Bayan Muna said the House Committee on Energy will hear the plea for an inquiry into the huge power-rate increase that the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) wants to impose. Zarate said the chairman of the House Committee on Energy, Rep. Reynaldo Umali, has informed him that Bayan Muna House Resolution 588 “to investigate the proposed humongous power‐rate hike of the Manila Electric Co. would be part of the agenda on the committee hearing on Tuesday, December 10, at 9:30 a.m.” The lawmaker stressed: “This is a positive development and we commend Cong. Umali for acting swiftly on a very pressing issue affecting millions of our countrymen. We hope that Meralco would defer the power‐rate increase as the probe is ongoing because as history would tell us, it is very difficult for them to refund consumers when they overcharge power rates.” Zarate also hit Malacañang for its “unabashed defense” of the planned huge power‐rate increase of Meralco that ranges from P3 to P3.50 per kilowatt‐hour. The Palace last week said the increase is neither “arbitrary” nor “unreasonable.” “What kind of government is this that it would rather defend the profits of big companies rather than work for the welfare of the people? This planned power‐rate increase is obviously artificial and contrived, considering that the supposed ‘maintenance shutdown’ of the Malampaya natural‐gas plant between November 11 and December 10 was scheduled long ago and other cheaper sources could have been used to compensate without imposing additional burden to our people,” Zarate said. “There is supposed to be an energy plan being implemented by the Department of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission. If it is so, then this power‐rate increase is also clearly planned. An investigation is definitely in order, considering that we have had enough calamities for the year. Meralco should not be callous by adding more to our woes,” said the progressive solon. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/economy/24032-house-to-probe-powerrate-hike
DOH warns of cold weather ailments By Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 9, 2013 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Health authorities yesterday warned the public against a possible increase in cases of fever and other ailments brought by the cold weather. Department of Health (DOH) assistant secretary Eric Tayag said the cold weather usually triggers respiratory problems unless appropriate preventive measures are taken. “Take care of yourself and your family against changes in temperature. Children and adults may become susceptible to cough, colds, and fever,” he said. Tayag said families living in the streets, including those from typhoon-ravaged areas, have higher risk of acquiring diseases. “They are susceptible since they are exposed to the cold,” he said. To avoid getting sick, Tayag said the public should wear clothing that could protect them from the cold weather. He said joggers should avoid early morning runs since their bodies may not be able to take the chill. He advised those who already have cough and cold to immediately seek medical attention in order to avoid complications. LGUs vs avian flu Meanwhile, Valenzuela Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian urged the DOH to help prepare local government units (LGUs) against a new avian influenza strain called H7N9. Gatchalian said the DOH should review the preparedness of LGUs in monitoring and controlling threats posed by the new strain. “We cannot afford to be caught flat-footed again just because all our resources and attention are focused on Yolanda. The likelihood that we may get hit by the avian flu is high, given our proximity to Hong Kong and China as well as the volume of travelers that pass through the Philippines everyday,” he said. Gatchalian said the government should be ready in case the new strain is detected here. He said hundreds of suspected carriers have already been quarantined in China and Hong Kong.
“Although there is no indication that the virus can trigger sustained human-to-human transmission, it is best that every local government is prepared in handling such risk should there be cases reported here.” In 2009, the DOH convened the municipal mayors to prepare against infectious diseases, including the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and avian flu. “LGUs play a very important part in battling emerging infectious diseases that pass the scrutiny of quarantine controls in airports and seaports. That is why there is a need for the DOH to activate every local government unit and see to it that the level of preparedness is high should there be an outbreak,” Gatchalian said. He suggested that LGUs should now be asked to draft action plans to monitor possible new avian flu cases in the barangay level. “Even if there are thermal imaging equipment installed at our major ports of entry, there is still a big chance that the H7N9 threat may enter the country,” he said. – With Jess Diaz http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/12/09/1265892/doh‐warns‐cold‐weather‐ailments
Exporters need to focus more on Asean–DTI Category: Economy 08 Dec 2013 Written by Estrella Torres WITH Europe and the United States still trying to hurdle their financial and jobs crises, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) told Philippine exporters to learn the ropes of trading more with neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to prepare for the market integration by 2015. Trade Undersecretary Ponciano C. Manalo said Philippine exporters should look at the Asean market as one of the biggest and most dynamic markets with a total aggregate gross product domestic product (GDP) of $2.3 billion and an average per‐capita income of $3,751. He said Philippine exports have been focused on markets in the US, Europe, Japan and China. “Business, more than the government, will drive regional integration,” said Manalo at the recent National Export Convention held in Pasay City. Earlier, US Ambassador to the Asean David Carden said Asean economies face difficulties in establishing a customs regime for the 10‐member bloc due to the very varied rules and laws, as well as in coming up with common standards for products and services. “The DTI is pushing for measures to address supply‐chain gaps, and to intensify productivity and competitiveness of the business sector,” Manalo said. Sergio Luis Ortiz, president of Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc., admitted that the country’s export industry will not meet its target for the year, but assured it would end 2013 in the positive territory, particularly the electronics sector. “Other than exports, we see performance improvements reported in our competitiveness ranking, GDP growth, tourist arrivals and investments. We acknowledge the gains, just as we remain focused on doing better, noting that such record are still not on a par with the economic development of our Asean neighbors whom we will engage in complete borderless trade starting in 2015,” Ortiz‐Luis said. The country’s total trade with Asean neighbors reached $24 billion, or 21 percent of the country’s total trade in 2012. At the same time, Asean accounted for 7.3 percent of total approved investments in the Philippines, amounting to P21 billion, a significant sevenfold increase from P3 billion in 2011.
Asean members the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Lao PDR and Myanmar seek to establish a single market and production base by 2015. The economic integration involves free trade in goods, free trade in services, free flow of skilled labor, free flow of investments and free flow of capital enabling the region to minimize transaction costs and maximize trade gains. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/economy/24031‐exporters‐need‐to‐focus‐ more‐on‐asean‐dti
Cayetano to fight for higher 2014 UP budget in bicam Category: Economy 08 Dec 2013 Written by Mia M. Gonzalez THE chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture said on Sunday that she will fight for higher funding for the country’s premier state university when the bicameral conference committee begins deliberations on the proposed 2014 budget on December 10. “Do we want to build a great nation? Then we should be willing to invest in higher education to develop formidable leaders for the future. It’s inexcusable and a gross disservice to our youth that the government has been underspending on higher education,” Sen. Pia Cayetano said in a statement. She said in previous years, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) lumped together in one item the capital outlay of UP and all other state universities and colleges (SUCs), but CHED and the Department of Budget and Management later agreed to itemize the lump‐sum item so each SUC would get a substantial capital outlay separate from that of UP. Cayetano said the scheme resulted to UP ending up “with nothing.” “In the period of amendments, I submitted proposals to include a capital outlay for UP’s various campuses and programs amounting to almost P1 billion,” she said. Cayetano said UP’s capital outlay was raised to P400 million from the zero allocation indicated in the House version of the proposed 2014 general appropriations bill, which she described as “still a pittance and negligible compared to the enormous requirements to continue developing UP’s facilities to international standards.” “My task now is to lobby with the members of the bicameral committee in the hope that they would support my proposal to augment government funding for UP,” she said. Cayetano said the ranking of UP has dropped to 380 in 2013 from 345 in 2012 under the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, while UP’s overall budget has seen marginal increases in past years. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/economy/24030‐cayetano‐to‐fight‐for‐higher‐ 2014‐up‐budget‐in‐bicam
Osmeña: Tap Malampaya Fund to subsidize Meralco increase Category: Economy 08 Dec 2013 Written by Mia M. Gonzalez THE Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy on Sunday called on President Aquino to use a portion of the Malampaya Fund to subsidize the power rate increase to be imposed by the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) on its customers over a two-month period. Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, who also co‐chairs the Joint Congressional Power Commission, said in a statement that the government can afford the P10‐billion subsidy since the Malampaya fund has an existing balance of over P130 billion. “The Malampaya Fund has gotten very fat. It is time that it is used to ease the burden of power consumers,” Osmeña said. The senator said the measure can be done in two weeks, if President Aquino would certify it as a priority measure. “If the law establishing the fund [Presidential Decree 910] has to be amended, we can do that in two weeks. All the President has to do is to certify the bill for prioritization,” Osmeña said. The P10‐billion subsidy is proposed to cover the additional generation costs that households in Metro Manila and neighboring areas are expected to pay over two months to cover the P4.15 per kilowatt‐hour (kWh) increase in Meralco’s generation charge. “It is better to spend the Malampaya Fund to subsidize power rate hikes rather than lose it to PDAF [Priority Development Assistant Fund] scams,” the senator said. Osmeña reiterated his long‐time proposal amid allegations that hundreds of millions of pesos in Malampaya collections had been diverted to bogus non‐government organizations with the connivance of public officials. The senator renewed his call following Meralco’s announcement of a total increase of P4.15/kilowatts per hour—inclusive of transmission charge, VAT, local franchise tax and system loss—in its generation charge this December following the shutdown of the Malampaya natural‐gas plant from November 11 to December 10. The increase would jack up Meralco’s generation charge to over P9/kWh in December from P5.66/kWh in November. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/economy/24029‐osmena‐tap‐malampaya‐ fund‐to‐subsidize‐meralco‐increase
CTB finds proposed BSP charter amendments too restrictive Category: Banking & Finance 08 Dec 2013 Written by Genivi Factao THE Chamber of Thrift Banks (CTB) has strong reservations on particular items amending the charter of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) that it considers repressive. CTB President Jose Teodoro K. Limcaoco, in a letter to Rep. Nelson Collantes, chairman of the Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries, said House Bill 3112, or the proposed amendment to the BSP charter, incorporates a particular provision the chamber deems too limiting for the lenders. In the proposed bill, the transfer of shares, or acquisition of 10 percent of the voting rights in banks or quasi-banks, prospectively requires prior approval of the BSP. The bill provides that “the selling or conveying stockholders must submit such transfer within a period as may be prescribed by the Monetary Board.” CTB said prior MB approval applies on all sale or transfer of ownership equal to 10 percent or greater. “As it reads, it only restricts transfer of 10 percent [or higher]. This section requiring prior permission for transfers of ownership of banks and other regulated entities may be highly restrictive,” the chamber said. It added that the amendment “may hinder access to private capital or even public markets for the banks.” If the intent was to prescreen ownership of banks, the CTB said a higher threshold may be more appropriate. The proposed BSP charter amendment also authorizes department heads and the examinees of the supervising or examining department to administer oaths to any director, officer or employee of any institution under their respective supervision or subject to their examination. Another amendment proposed making the presentation of the books and records of persons and entities relative to or in connection with the operations, activities or transactions of the institution under examination compulsory. Most importantly, the MB can inquire into bank deposits and investment accounts for examination purposes only, notwithstanding Republic Acts 1405 and 6426. The CTB stressed that the provision is an exclusion to the secrecy of bank deposits.
“The only criterion for access is that the same be done for examination purposes and this may be difficult to establish,” the CTB said. “This is an area where guidelines should be set and established for clear implementation. Amendment to the cited laws might be required,” the CTB said. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/banking‐finance/24018‐ctb‐finds‐proposed‐bsp‐ charter‐amendments‐too‐restrictive
Former solon questions inclusion in pork scam by Leonard Postrado December 8, 2013
Manila, Philippines — A former legislator dragged into the controversial P10-billion pork barrel scam has asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to re-investigate his graft case while questioning the authenticity of documents used to file the charges against him before the Office of the Ombudsman. In a two-page letter to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, ex-Oriental Mindoro 1st district Rep. Rodolfo Valencia vehemently denied the allegation that he pocketed P2.41 million from PDAF kickbacks. Valencia lamented his inclusion in the charge sheet filed by the DOJ when he supposedly had already proven before the Commission on Audit (COA) that his signature was forged in the documents. “Records will prove I have earlier called the attention of the COA that my signatures were forged and falsified in several documents… in connection with the conduct of government-wide audit of PDAF programs and project implemented during calendar years 2007-2009,” he said in a letter received by the DOJ last December 3. “I therefore find the inclusion of my person on your list of former members of the House of Representatives who have allegedly benefitted from the PDAF scam not only shocking but most unfortunate and offensive,” he said. Valencia submitted to the DOJ copies of his sworn statements submitted to the COA last year clarifying the issue. “Unfortunately, the aforecited clarificatory documents were not available or unwittingly disregarded in the investigation of the National Bureau of Investigation… Had I been invited by the NBI, in the observance of my constitutional right to due process, I could have readily submitted these documents to clear my person,” he said. http://www.mb.com.ph/former‐solon‐questions‐inclusion‐in‐pork‐scam/
Subsidies to gov’t firms surge By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 9, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 2 0 googleplus0 0
MANILA, Philippines - Subsidies to government-owned firms surged 75 percent in the first 10 months of the year from the same period last year, data from the Department of Finance showed. During the 10-month period, the government extended P35.907 billion in subsidies to government-owned firms, the bulk of which went to health care services. The latest figure was 75 percent higher than last year‘s P20.479 billion. Philippine Health Insurance Corp. received the highest subsidy as of October at P11.974 billion, with the amount going to health care services given to more than 10 million indigent families across the country. The National Housing Authority was the second biggest beneficiary with P8.255 billion while the National Electrification Authority received P4.283 billion. The National Food Authority was also among the big beneficiaries during the 10-month-period with P2 billion, followed by the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC) at P1.884 billion. Other big beneficiaries include the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (P1.264 billion), National Irrigation Authority (P1.219 billion), and the Philippine Coconut Authority (P1.049 billion). Total subsidies to state-owned corporations made up 2.37 percent of the government’s total expenditures as of October. In October alone, subsidies to government-owned corporations reached P507 million, down 75 percent from P2.015 billion in the same month a year ago. The bulk of the subsidies or P314 million went to the PDIC, while P171 million was received by PCA. Another P16 million went to the Philippine Heart Center, P4 million to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, and the remaining P2 million to the Development Academy of the Philippines. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/12/09/1265793/subsidies‐govt‐firms‐surge
Zamboanga underscores relevance of bio‐safety by Nonoy E. Lacson December 8, 2013
Zamboanga City – The city government here underscored the importance of bio-safety and biosecurity in protecting the people against harm and danger. Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco disclosed the local government’s stand during the opening of the 2nd National Symposium of the Philippine Bio-safety and Bio-security Association (PhBBA) that was held here recently. “Human security and a safe environment are paramount, and are intertwined with basic human rights, socio-economic growth, and our yearning for peace and progress,” Climaco pointed out. The symposium was participated in by academicians, medical practitioners, including military and police authorities. During the meeting, Climaco also related to the participants that this city also had its own share of challenges as a result of natural and human induced calamities that happened this year. She said that the most recent and devastating of these was the 23-day standoff between government forces and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels loyal to founding chairman Nur Misuari last September. Clima said the city had to pay a “high cost” to defend freedom, independence, and sovereignty, as the siege resulted in the displacement of more than 23,794 families or individuals that were temporarily housed at the 32 evacuation centers. The siege severely affected at least seven barangays (villages), which also triggered a series of conflagrations – razing to the ground a total of 9,722 houses valued at P200.83-million. Following the unfortunate September incident is the natural calamity that struck the city last October. According to Climaco, the five-day incessant downpour resulted in the flooding of several areas in this city. Climaco said the widespread flooding claimed the lives of at least five people, and also displaced some 4,804 families composed of 17,026 individuals in the hardest hit villages. On the other hand, the local agriculture office here estimated the damage to agricultural and fishery products at P57.9 million. http://www.mb.com.ph/zamboanga‐underscores‐relevance‐of‐bio‐safety/
Food‐tech startups aim to replace eggs and chicken Associated Press 7:06 am | Monday, December 9th, 2013
In this photo taken Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, plant-based products including chocolate chip cookies, cookie dough and mayonnaise are displayed at Hampton Creek Foods in San Francisco. Can plants replace eggs? A San Francisco startup backed by Bill Gates believes they can. Hampton Creek Foods is scouring the planet for plants that can replace chicken eggs in everything from cookies to omelets to French toast. Funded by prominent Silicon Valley investors, the upstart seeks to disrupt a global egg industry that backers say wastes energy, pollutes the environment, causes disease outbreaks and confines chickens to tiny spaces. AP SAN FRANCISCO – The startup is housed in a garage-like space in San Francisco’s tech-heavy South of Market neighborhood, but it isn’t like most of its neighbors that develop software, websites and mobile-phone apps. Its mission is to find plant replacements for eggs. Inside, research chefs bake cookies and cakes, whip up batches of flavored mayonnaise and panfry omelets and French toast — all without eggs. Funded by prominent Silicon Valley investors and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Hampton Creek Foods seeks to disrupt a global egg industry that backers say wastes energy, pollutes the environment, causes disease outbreaks and confines chickens to tiny spaces. The company, which just started selling its first product — Just Mayo mayonnaise — at Whole Foods Markets, is part of a new generation of so-called food-tech ventures that aim to change the way we eat. “There’s nothing to indicate that this will be a trend that will end anytime soon,” said Anand Sanwal, CEO of CB Insights, a New York firm that tracks venture capital investment. “Sustainability and challenges to the food supply are pretty fundamental issues.”
Venture capital firms, which invest heavily in early-stage technology companies, poured nearly $350 million into food-related startups last year, compared with less than $50 million in 2008, according to the firm. Plant-based alternatives to eggs, poultry and other meat could be good for the environment because it could reduce consumption of meat, which requires large amounts of land, water and crops to produce, backers say. It could also benefit people’s health, especially in heavy meat-eating countries like the U.S., and reduce outbreaks of diseases such as avian flu, they say. “The biggest challenge is that people who consume a lot of meat really like meat, and to convince them to try something different may be extremely difficult,” said Claire Kremen, faculty co-director of the Berkeley Food Institute at the University of California, Berkeley. The American Egg Board, which represents U.S. producers, said eggs can’t be replaced. “Our customers have said they’re not interested in egg substitutes. They want real, natural eggs with their familiar ingredients,” Mitch Kanter, executive director of the board-funded Egg Nutrition Center, said in a statement. The industry has reduced its water use and greenhouse gas emissions, and hens are living longer due to better health and nutrition, he said. Hampton Creek’s quest to replace the ubiquitous chicken egg is also backed by PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel and Khosla Ventures, a venture capital fund started by Sun Microsystems cofounder Vinod Khosla. In its food lab, biochemists grind up beans and peer through microscopes to study their molecular structure, looking for plants that can fulfill the culinary functions of eggs. So far, the company has analyzed some 1,500 types of plants from more than 60 countries. The research has resulted in 11 “hits,” said Josh Tetrick, the company’s CEO. “Our approach is to use plants that are much more sustainable — less greenhouse gas emissions, less water, no animal involved and a whole lot more affordable — to create a better food system,” said the former linebacker on West Virginia University’s football team. The company’s first product — the mayonnaise — is sold for roughly the same price as the traditional variety. It soon hopes to start selling cookie dough and a batter that scrambles like eggs when fried in a pan. “The egg is a miracle, so one of the hardest parts of replacing it is all the functions that it can do,” said Chris Jones, the company’s culinary director of innovations and a former contestant on Bravo TV’s “Top Chef.”
While Hampton Creek takes aim at the egg, another Gates-backed company is targeting the chicken itself. Beyond Meat, located in Southern California, sells “chicken-free strips,” which have the taste and stringy texture of poultry but are made from plant protein. It is sold at Whole Foods and natural food stores. It’s also working on a product that mimics beef. Inside its test kitchen in El Segundo, Caitlin Grady, the company’s culinary ambassador, stirfried the strips with broccoli, onion, peppers and sesame oil. “I cooked it just like a regular stirfry, but I don’t have to worry about the meat being raw,” Grady said. The company is also funded by Obvious Corp., a startup incubator founded by Twitter’s founders, and Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, one of Silicon Valley’s premier venture capital firms. “It can fit in a vegan’s diet. It can fit in a carnivore’s diet,” said Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown. “We’re trying to appeal to the full range of consumers that are making some shift toward healthier protein.” Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/542973/food‐tech‐startups‐aim‐to‐replace‐eggs‐and‐ chicken#ixzz2mwiZQOrz Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
Bohol wants to build houses that can withstand earthquakes, floods By Carmel Loise Matus Inquirer Visayas 8:24 pm | Sunday, December 8th, 2013
AP FILE PHOTO TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, Philippines —Two nongovernment organizations (NGOs)— Habitat for Humanity and Gawad Kalinga—have submitted their proposed designs for the residents rendered homeless by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake on Oct. 15 that damaged or destroyed Bohol province’s roads, bridges, schools and churches. Nemia Antipala, assistant Central Visayas director of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, said they had met with Gov. Edgar Chatto and that proposals for disaster-resilient houses were being studied. “Their design would be best suited for that eventuality. It has been predicted that every year, there will be stronger and stronger typhoons. So that is something we have to plan for,” she told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Thursday. She said the houses must endure winds with a strength of 220 kilometers per hour. Provincial officials are looking forward to the rehabilitation phase more than 50 days after the disaster struck Central Visayas. Total damage in Bohol was estimated to have reached P7.862 billion, Chatto said during his presentation of the four-year rehabilitation and recovery plan for Bohol when President Aquino visited the island-province on Nov. 28.
The President has promised a P5-billion allocation to help in the rehabilitation. The reconstruction and rehabilitation of roads and bridges in the province will need around P138 million. Two bridges, Tultogan Bridge in Calape town and Disamparados Bridge along the Tagbilaran north road, are also scheduled for completion. During his visit, President Aquino inaugurated the temporary steel bridge in Abatan connecting the towns of Cortes and Maribojoc. All roads damaged by the earthquake are now passable, although the rehabilitation is ongoing. The earthquake also damaged or destroyed 169 health facilities at an estimated cost of P164 million, Health Secretary Enrique Ona also reported. The repair of damaged health facilities and the construction of new ones would require P289 million, Ona said. Right after the earthquake that destroyed 8,083 houses and damaged 34,527 others, 64 evacuation centers were put in place, where tents distributed by different agencies and NGOs served as temporary shelters for more than 40,000 displaced families. At present, only one community evacuation site, located in Tubigon town, for 103 families remains. â€œAll remaining evacuees are now home-based, staying just outside their homes,â€? Chatto said. They also provided cash assistance to those with partially damaged houses but the residents would have to do the repair work, Antipala added. The assistance will be channeled through the local government unit (LGU) and the LGU will give the cash assistance to the affected family. Antipala explained that the assistance would be made available to those within the poverty threshold, with an income of P12,000 and below. Classes that have been disrupted for two weeks following the earthquake have resumed. The Department of Education (DepEd) reported that 672 of the 1,091 public school buildings in the province sustained damages and had to be repaired or rebuilt. On Nov. 1, temporary learning spaces in the towns of Loon, Maribojoc and Antequera were set up. These were being used as temporary classrooms since classes resumed on Nov. 5. Dr. Wilfreda Bongalos, DepEd Bohol provincial superintendent, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that they noted a 100-percent attendance of students in the first Monday of December.
Bongalos said they have started to hold Saturday classes to make up for the required number of school days. With this scheme, they are set to finish classes on April 9 and will hold graduations by April 10. Some schools have remained on shifting mode due to the lack of makeshift tents, she added. Bongalos, however, said organizations, such as the United Nations Children’s Foundation and Save the Children, would bring in more tents. Starting the second week of December, she said no schools would hold classes in shifts. Bongalos said they had identified six schools in Calape, Loon and Antequera that have to be relocated to a safer place. The DepEd is coordinating with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in Central Visayas to identify safe locations for these schools. Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/542727/bohol‐wants‐to‐build‐houses‐that‐can‐withstand‐ earthquakes‐floods#ixzz2mwj9zyER Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
State subsidies to GOCCs drop by Chino Leyco December 9, 2013 (updated)
Amid controversies over lawmakers’ annual discretionary funds, the Aquino administration’s expenses in subsidizing the operations of some state-owned and controlled corporations (GOCC) significantly fell in October this year. Data from the Bureau of Treasury showed that the national government spent P507 million in subsidies in October this year, way below compared with P2.16 billion in the same month last year. In October, major recipients of state financial aids were the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC) and Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) with P314 million and P171 million, respectively. In January to October, state subsidies to GOCCs amounted to P35.91 billion, higher by 79 percent year-on-year from P20.07 billion. For this year, the national government has allocated P42.79 billion for its subsidies for stateowned companies. In 2012, the national government spent P42.15 billion in subsidies, higher by 33 percent compared with P31.76- billion program for the year. However, total subsidies last year dropped by 21.5 percent compared with P53.7 billion spent in 2011. The biggest recipient of government subsidies in 2012 was the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation or commonly known as PhilHealth with P14.07 billion. State-owned firms that enjoyed hefty financial assistance from the national government in 2012 were cash-strapped National Food Authority with P7.66 billion, the National Electrification Administration with P4.95 billion and the National Irrigation Administration with P2.81 billion. http://www.mb.com.ph/state‐subsidies‐to‐goccs‐drop/
Citing recent disasters, EDC to revise trade targets By Amy R. Remo Philippine Daily Inquirer 10:13 pm | Sunday, December 8th, 2013
The Export Development Council (EDC) is planning to revise its trade target, citing the huge impact of natural disasters on the country’s export capacity. Initially, the council hopes to double the value of outbound shipments to $120 billion by 2016, said the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport). EDC deputy executive director Emmarita Mijares was quoted in a Philexport statement as saying that factors here and abroad could affect the council’s target as outlined in the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP) 2011-2013.
For one, Mijares said, the production capacity of local exporters in areas devastated by Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” and the 7.2-magnitude earthquake have been cut significantly. The economy of the United States, a big market for the Philippines, continue to face problems, while the European Union has yet to recover. Japan meanwhile has only slightly recovered while that of China has remained flat, Mijares added. According to Mijares, the EDC will start crafting next week the PEDP 2014-2016, which will contain export revenue targets for the next three years in consideration of the problems affecting local and international markets. For this year, the Department of Trade and Industry has remained bullish that the country’s total exports will still manage to grow by 7-8 percent, while merchandise exports alone were forecasted to grow by 3-5 percent, driven mainly by the robust performance of the nonelectronics sector. This was despite industry forecasts of a flat growth for merchandise exports from last year’s $51.99 billion. Read more: http://business.inquirer.net/155637/citing‐recent‐disasters‐edc‐to‐revise‐trade‐ targets#ixzz2mwzR6PMV Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
San Miguel eyes brewery in Asia’s ‘final frontier’ Conglomerate also open to infra projects in Myanmar By Miguel R. Camus Philippine Daily Inquirer 10:03 pm | Sunday, December 8th, 2013
Conglomerate San Miguel Corp. is renewing its interest to expand its flagship beer operations to Myanmar amid strengthening bilateral ties between the Philippines and what has been called the region’s “final frontier.” San Miguel president Ramon S. Ang told the Inquirer in an interview Friday that San Miguel Brewery Inc., which already corners about 90 percent of the local beer market, was considering investing in Myanmar, one of the region’s fastest growing markets for the alcoholic beverage. “We will pursue Myanmar for beer,” Ang said. “If given the opportunity to get a license, it should be a good investment for beer manufacturing.” Ang, who said San Miguel has been approached by “several groups” for other investment proposals, added that the conglomerate was open to exploring infrastructure deals like power and transportation. “In some cases, it’s strategic. Some companies are already dominant in the Philippines, so they are also looking for opportunities elsewhere,” said Eduardo Francisco, president of BDO Capital and Investment Corp. San Miguel, which is also involved in food, power generation, oil refining and toll roads, would be facing stiff competition as global brewers like Heineken and Carlsberg already announced expansion plans for Myanmar. Such deals would not have been possible a few years ago. But Mynmar, also known as Burma, has been opening up under the leadership of its reform-minded President, Thein Sein, after almost half a century of military rule and global isolation.
San Miguel Brewery, which began operations in 1890, is partly owned by Japan’s Kirin Holdings Co., which has a 48-percent stake. The rest is held by San Miguel. The Philippine brewer’s potential expansion to Myanmar would add to its sizeable assets overseas, which include breweries in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Hong Kong, and two facilities in China.
Closing a deal in Myanmar would also be San Miguel’s next major overseas investment after it sealed a deal in 2011 to buy ExxonMobil’s Malaysian assets for $610 million. Cross border investing is not new, and other local conglomerates have been looking beyond the Philippines for opportunities to cash in on attractive returns. Ayala Corp. and Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., led by businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, have previously executed regional deals and continue to look for new investments, including those in Myanmar. The purpose was partly to diversify their asset base or even minimize the risk given the sometimes uncertain regulatory environment in the Philippines, said a banker who requested anonymity. San Miguel, meanwhile, bolstered its investment war chest recently, having agreed to sell its remaining 27-percent stake in Manila Electric Co. to the Gokongwei family’s JG Summit Holdings for P72 billion last September. In July, the conglomerate also raised P17.5 billion after selling a 5.7-percent Meralco stake in the open market. Read more: http://business.inquirer.net/155603/san‐miguel‐eyes‐brewery‐in‐asias‐final‐ frontier#ixzz2mx00lfAl Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
10 fishermen await rescue in Spratlys By Florante S. Solmerin | Dec. 09, 2013 at 12:01am The rescue of 10 fishermen in Reed Bank within the Spratly Islands was stalled by the lack of a Navy ship to do blue water rescue off Palawan main island. “We will send a bigger vessel. In the meantime, we will send them supplies and saka medicines,” Western Command spokeswoman 1Lt. Cherryl Tindog said in Pilipino. She said the PS35 corvette would be suitable for the job particularly in turbulent seas. Tino said on Sunday that a distress call was received from “3 Sisters” fishing boat last December 5 after reporting engine trouble. A Nomad plane from the Air Force was sent first to drop food, water and medicines but a Navy rescue team returned after encountering huge waves. “Patrol Gunboat 392 was unable to tackle rough waters,” Tindog said, adding that the marooned fishermen were anchored on Reed’s easter portion. The Reed Bank is under the jurisdiction of Kalayaan town under Mayor Eugenio Bito-on. The group of islands scattered in the Spratlys in the West Philippine Sea is g claimed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/12/09/10‐fishermen‐await‐rescue‐in‐spratlys/
PNoy told: Subsidize power rates By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Dec. 09, 2013 at 12:01am President Aquino may have to set aside a portion of the P130 billion Malampaya fund for the subsidy of Metro Manila residents who face having to cough up an extra P4.15 per kilowatt hour in their Meralco bills this month. The subsidy proposal came from Senator Serge Osmeña who said the power rate increase will cost Metro resident at least P10 billion in additional charges, a move that led consumers and labor groups to stage protests. Various groups are restive over what they call “unjust” and untimely power rate hike while several lawmakers demanded a congressional inquiry. Osmeña, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and co-chairman of the Joint Congressional Power Commission, said the more than P130 billion balance in Malampaya funds could be used to cover the amount. “The Malampaya Fund has gotten very fat. It is time that it is used to ease the burden of power consumers,” Osmeña said in a statement issued on Sunday. For the past several years, Osmeña has been recommending that government lower the royalty collected on the Malampaya gas to lower power rates. He said it is better to spend the Malampaya Fund to subsidize power rate hikes rather than lose it to PDAF scams allegedly involvings several NGOs and public officials. If the law establishing the Fund (Presidential Decree No. 910) has to be amended, Osmena said this can be done in two weeks. All the President has to do is to certify the bill for prioritization. Meralco has announced a total increase of P4.15/kWh (inclusive of transmission charge, VAT, local franchise tax and system loss) in its generation charge this December following the shutdown of the Malampaya naturalgas plant from November 11-December 10. With the projected generation charge adjustment, a Meralco customer with a monthly average use of 200 kilowatt-hours currently paying P2,000 per month, will now pay P2,830 per month, or a monthly increase of P830 in his electricity bill. The Partido ng Manggagawa said the power rate hike is unconscionable, an act of economic terror amid calamities, deepening inequality and poverty in the country. “This is unjust. When imposed, the P4.15 rate adjustment will be the highest in Philippine history. This will also be the highest residential rate in the world,” PM said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/12/09/pnoy‐told‐subsidize‐power‐rates/
Valencia urges DOJ to review graft case By Rey E. Requejo | Dec. 09, 2013 at 12:01am A former congressman has asked the Department of Justice to reinvestigate the criminal charges filed against him in connection with the alleged misuse of Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel. Rodolfo Valencia, formerly of the first district of Oriental Mindoro, was included in the second batch of respondents in a case involving the pork barrel scam allegedly perpetrated by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles. In a letter to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Valencia denied the allegations that he pocketed P2.41 million from PDAF. He questioned the authenticity of the documents used as basis for filing malversation and other charges against him before the office of the Ombudsman recently. He decried his inclusion in the charge sheet filed by the DOJ when he supposedly had already proven before the Commission on Audit (COA) that his signature was forged in the documents. “Records will prove I have earlier called the attention of the COA that my signatures were forged and falsified in several documents... in connection with the conduct of government-wide audit of PDAF programs and project implemented during calendar years 2007-2009,” Valencia said, in his letter received by the DOJ last December 3. He submitted to the Justice department copies of his sworn statements submitted to the COA last year clarifying the issue. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/12/09/valencia‐urges‐doj‐to‐review‐graft‐case/
Senior citizens and services By Tristan H. Macapanpan | Dec. 09, 2013 at 12:03am We are all familiar with the senior citizen discounts for medicines and restaurant meals and even movies. Today, senior citizens proudly brandish their senior citizen IDs when asking for their bill and expect that the restaurant will properly compute the discount due them. Most restaurants honor the required discounts. There are still some that try to avoid giving the full discount by purposely obfuscating the discount computations, hoping that the elder citizens will not have the patience to scrutinize the bill. Some restaurants will try to even avoid giving any discount by trying to give some reasons such as the meal is a promo with a built-in discount or there is no proper ID. However, it is now known that what is mandated by law is that only a verifiable proof of age is necessary to avail of the discounts (with thanks to Atty. Romulo Macalintal). Other privileges More than discounts, there are other privileges that are often given to senior citizens. Many service firms provide these, though at varying levels of compliance. Transportation firms should provide these, but it is often a hassle to ask from buses and jeepneys. I am still not clear about discounts from taxis. Shouldnâ€™t they also give discounts? How about those UV Express vans? When paying bills, we are often allowed to go to the head of the line and given priority. At the mass rail transit systems, they have designated areas for the senior citizens together with the pregnant, disabled persons, and those with small children. However, it seems that implementation of the scheme is as varied as the three lines. Couldnâ€™t there be one single method of implementation? The LRT Line 2 has the best method. The platform guards enforce the policy and prevent non-eligible passengers from boarding the special area. The Line 1, while having the area, does not have the platform guards enforcing it and leaves it to the train guard riding in the designated area to try enforcing it. However, during rush hours he may not be effective. MRT has the worst implementation. The designated area, while clearly stated in signage in the platform, is not blocked off and other passengers are able to mingle. I have even seen young males riding, a clear violation of the policy. For seniors only A laudable initiative of supermarkets is the designation of check-out counters solely for senior citizens. They even provide seats before and after the counter for use by the seniors. However, this is often violated. Some customers do not seem to be able to read signage that designate the areas and will queue up. The check-out clerks seem reticent in admonishing these people. Worse, the seats provided are often sat on by non-elderly even if there are seniors standing in line. There are other privileges that are given based on the LGU such as free movie days, free parking, and even exemption from the color coding. Can these be mad universal without having to be a senior citizen of the LGU? Perhaps, the other freebies such as a birthday cake and Christmas gift can be based on the ability of the LGU to provide them, but the other more common privileges can be given by all.
Enhancing the senior citizen law It is quite heartwarming that we senior citizens are given these privileges. However, the implementation and enforcement of the policy is still uneven and may cause irritations between the senior citizen and the service provider. A more embracing codification of the Senior Citizen Law may help. And, by the way, in other countries, one is a senior citizen at 50. Can we not do the same? Tristan H. Macapanpan handles Operations Management courses at the MBA Program of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business of the De La Salle University-Manila. He may be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/12/09/senior‐citizens‐and‐services/
Fed tapering seen to weigh on stocks By Jenniffer B. Austria | Dec. 09, 2013 at 12:02am Stocks are expected to move sideways this week, with a downward bias on the growing possibility the US Federal Reserve may start reducing its bond-buying activities as early as this month. Accord Capital Equities trader Justino Calaycay said the index would likely trade between 5,550 to 6,210 points over the next five trading sessions, given the recent pattern in the stock market. “Under normal conditions and based on old conventions, the 198.68 points rally in the Dow Friday and the four-session slump in overall share prices should usher in a good start for this coming week’s trades,” Calaycay said. Analysts, however, said investors were opting to stay on the sidelines in anticipation the Fed would soon trim its $85-billion monthly bond purchases this month, after the US posted positive employment and jobs data. Latest US data showed the jobless rate fell to a five-year low of 7 percent, while non-farm payroll increased by 203,000 last month. The market anticipated the Fed to announce a cut in stimulus in March next year. Meanwhile, Calaycay said the recent decline in the stock market could lure some investors to give equities a second look, as valuations had gone down from recent highs, which make listed stocks attractive. The Philippine Stock Exchange index, the 30-company benchmark, closed at 6,014.94 on Friday, down 3.12 percent week-on-week, after it posted four consecutive days of decline. The PSEi joined the Korea Stock Exchange as the worst performing market in the first trading week of December. Aside from the tapering concerns, the lack of fresh positive leads from corporate news and economic fronts also prompted investors to take profits. The all-share index declined to 3,688.47 from previous week’s of 3,776.73, while the all subindices ended in the red. Calaycay said despite current market conditions, the possibility remained the PSEi could hit 6,700 before the end of the year, although 6,500 was more probable. “Hitting our adjusted year-end target of 6,500 to 6,700 required the month to post growth of 5 percent to 8 percent, based on the November closing level,” Calaycay said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/12/09/fed‐tapering‐seen‐to‐weigh‐on‐stocks/
Aquino eyeing emergency rule? By Francisco S. Tatad | Dec. 09, 2013 at 12:01am Against rapidly growing fears that his troubled leadership and badly weakened presidency might not allow him to carry on until 2016, President B. S. Aquino III could actually be considering emergency rule to outsmart all his critics and extend his stay beyond the end of his non-renewable six-year term. Aquino’s acerbic complaint against the critical media reporting---“negative,” he said---on his government’s performance in Tacloban and Samar could be an ominous indication of what seems to be secretly brewing inside Malacanan, political observers believe. Until super-typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan struck on Nov. 8, no one in the mainstream media had dared to criticize Aquino the way they are doing so right now. Understandably Aquino will want to see it contained. To many observers, an even stronger indication of what could be secretly cooking appears to be the surprise appointment of former Senator Panfilo Lacson as “rehabilitation czar” and the consequent downgrading of Secretary of Interior and Local Government Manuel Roxas II, who used to be projected as Aquino’s supposed heir apparent. In a forum of women journalists at Sofitel last week, where he was honored with a socalled “Man of Steel” award, Aquino said the ruling Liberal Party had not yet decided whom to field in the 2016 presidential election, contrary to previous statements by top LP officials including Senate President Franklin Drilon, that Roxas’s candidacy was already carved in stone. Aquino’s statement promptly provoked speculation that Roxas’s dismal performance in Tacloban and Guiuan, not to mention during the military operation against the Moro National Liberation Front in Zamboanga City last September, had finally become obvious to Aquino, and that the heir apparent was finally being sidelined in favor of the
non-LP newcomer. Roxas, a grandson of the late president Manuel A. Roxas, was the original LP presidential aspirant in 2010. Aquino’s skillful exploitation of his mother Cory’s death on Aug. 2, 2009 , however, transformed the lackadaisical senator into a presidential candidate, causing Roxas to slide down to the vice-presidency and lose to his vastly underrated rival, former Makati mayor Jejomar C. Binay. In an apparent attempt to indemnify Roxas for his loss of face, Aquino allowed his unsuccessful running mate to pack the administration with his own nominees, and to call some of the more important shots in domestic policy, pursuant to what amounted to a political “pre-nuptial” agreement under which Roxas would run the daily affairs of government should they get elected. This has prompted some critics to describe the Aquino presidency as a “Roxas puppet show.” Lacson’s sudden emergence may have changed all this. Even the camp of Vice President Binay, who seems to be the most popular presidential non-candidate at this point, seems to acknowledge it. It appears, though, that contrary to all speculation a presidential run may not be the only thing possibly in store for Lacson. Knowledgeable observers believe that Lacson is equally likely to become the “administrator” of emergency rule, similar to the role played by then-Defense Secretary (now Senator) Juan Ponce Enrile under Marcos, should that precede or render superfluous, as some are beginning to fear, the 2016 presidential election. Among Aquino’s political allies, Lacson alone has not been tarnished by the pork barrel scandal. Of the 20 senator-judges who had convicted then-Chief Justice Renato Corona at his 2012 impeachment trial, Lacson alone did not receive his P50 million or more “incentive” from the Disbursement Acceleration Program. More important than that, he is Aquino’s only political ally with significant police experience. A graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, Lacson was Joseph Ejercito Estrada’s
Philippine National Police chief with a fairly decent record in curbing kidnappers and policemen’s expanding waistlines. He is also remembered for having handed over his post to the anti-Estrada forces without a fight during the 2001 coup that removed “Erap” from the presidency after a botched Senate impeachment trial. Technical preparations for a possible emergency rule may have already begun in earnest. The 53-year-old bachelor president is believed to have already intimated to his innermost circle that they could not expect him to behave like his late mother, who was in such a rush to get out of Malacanang in 1992, after six and a half years. This particular information is extremely delicate but it is hard to dismiss or ignore, given its obvious logic and relationship to the President’s need to overcome the clear and forbidding challenges to his future security and well-being. First of all, the baring of presidential bribery during the Corona impeachment trial, and the Supreme Court striking down the Priority Development Assistance Fund as unconstitutional, coupled with the legal pressure on the Court to do the same thing to the much bigger Disbursement Acceleration Program, have made Aquino’s impeachment and removal, which had seemed unthinkable less than a year ago, a distinct possibility. Assuming no impeachment occurs, or Aquino survives an impeachment attempt or proceeding, he still stands the risk of ending in the same jail occupied by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, his immediate predecessor, as soon as he leaves the presidency. He cannot afford to take any chances. The only way to avoid possible prosecution after his term is perhaps to have the Constitution amended so he could run again and get the precinct count optical scan machines to perform as they did in 2010 and 2013. But he has put himself on record that he is opposed to any constitutional change, and there is, in fact, no effort to have the Constitution amended. This makes a “palace coup” an option. One concrete step that seems to point in that direction is the proposed “Creation of a
Highly Trained Special Action Force Composed of Elite Troops from the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines” with no clearly declared objective or specific mission. The Department of Justice is said to find no legal obstacle to such project, but its very nature invites suspicion. The police and the military are two official armed organizations with separate and distinct objectives, missions, doctrines. They are not meant to be conflated into one. The AFP is the “protector of the people and the State. Its goal is to secure the sovereignty of the State and the integrity of the national territory,” says Sec. 3 Article II of the Constitution. The PNP, on the other hand, is an armed organization that is national in scope but civilian in character, whose purpose is to maintain peace and order. The military’s mission is “search and destroy” , while that of the police is to solve crime----arrest criminals and with the aid of the courts send them to jail. But the AFP and the PNP have been meeting since August, according to our sources, on the creation of a joint AFP-PNP SAF unit with no clearly defined purpose. One such meeting on Sept. 5, 2013 at the Office of the Defense Undersecretary for Legal and Legislative Affairs and Strategic Concerns, Room 2014 of the DND Building at Camp Aguinaldo was jointly presided by DILG Undersecretary Rafael Antonio M. Santos and Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo F. Batino and agreed, among other things, to treat the proposed creation of the joint SAF Unit with utmost “confidentiality” until it is done. This is not an entirely new idea, however. According to highly informed sources, it was first proposed to the AFP and PNP command staff during the previous administration as part of a last-ditch attempt to allow the embattled President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to remain in office beyond the end of her term in 2010. A politically important Cabinet member was reported to have put it together. But the generals and top PNP officials shot it down when they reportedly served notice they would not follow an unconstitutional order. Apparently the original plan had remained on file with the DILG and had been fished out by the new players. The initial planning analysis may have suggested that the need for
the presidency to survive the cascading challenges is still sufficiently matched by Aquino’s control of certain variables. First of all, despite the SC ruling on the PDAF, the President remains in virtual control of the entire government. There is no credible opposition party or leader in Congress. The House of Representatives remains docile and captive, and the Senate has gone into a selfdestruct mode as members tear at each other on the Floor, and the LP attack dogs pounce on senior members in an attempt to deprive them of any vestige of public support. Despite the growing criticisms from individual journalists from the local and world press, the owners and gatekeepers of the oligarchic media remain blind supporters of the President. The railroading of the widely opposed, anti-Catholic Reproductive Health Law has shown that Joseph Stalin is right---however numerous its members, the Catholic Church does not have any armed divisions to challenge the State’s absolutist tendencies. Although intelligence sources talk (in guarded tones) about “emergency rule,” no one has suggested what precise form it would take. Martial law is usually mentioned, but the martial law declared by Marcos in 1972 under the 1935 Constitution has been so modified under the present Constitution that it has become so difficult to declare and successfully operate, without violating the Constitution. Under the old Constitution, the President as commander-in-chief of all the armed forces may place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law, “in case of invasion, insurrection, or rebellion, or imminent threat thereof, when the public safety requires it.” Under the present Constitution, however, he may do so only “in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it.” Mere “imminent threat” of invasion or rebellion is not enough; there has to be actual invasion or rebellion to trigger a
proclamation. Some have suggested that there are many ongoing rebellions, beginning with the communist insurgency, which remains active in many parts of the country. A more significant rebellion of the Mindanao Independence Movement could not be discounted, following the Zamboanga standoff last September in which 11,000 government troops exterminated a small band of MNLF fighters, who had come to raise the flag of Mindanao independence. Should this break out, it could provide the legal basis for martial law ---at least in the whole of Mindanao, if not throughout the whole country. But the difficulties do not end there. Congress, by a vote of a simple majority of all its members, the two Houses voting jointly, can within the first 48 hours revoke the President’s proclamation, and the President cannot set aside that revocation. The proclamation itself must not last longer than 60 days; the President can extend it, only with the formal consent of Congress. Finally, a state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution. Although the President’s father, the late former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., was known to have been a great admirer of Park Chung Hee’s martial law in Korea, he finally became a victim of Marcos’s martial law; and that may have colored B. S. III’s view of martial law. He could be ideologically opposed to the idea. But he may wish to follow the example of his late mother Cory, who declared a revolutionary government by abolishing the 1973 Constitution when she took over from Marcos after the 1986 EDSA “revolt”. She ruled as revolutionary president without Congress, and among other things replaced the members of the judiciary and other constitutional bodies as well as all elective members of the local government and the bureaucracy. She also planted the seeds of the present Aquino presidency. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/12/09/aquino‐eyeing‐emergency‐rule/
‘Situational justice’ in the Aquino administration By Alvin Capino | Dec. 09, 2013 at 12:01am The most disturbing development under the Aquino administration is what can perhaps be described as the pervasiveness of “situational justice”. It is advocated by, among others, no less than the President’s alter ego in the Department of Justice, Secretary Leila de Lima. “Situational justice” which prevails in our justice system reminds us of “situational ethics” which was the subject of a raging controversy in the 60s and the 70s. “Situational ethics” or “situation ethics” according to wordIQ.com “refers to a particular view of ethics, in which absolute standards are considered less important than the requirements of a particular situation. The standards used may, therefore, vary from one situation to another, and may even contradict one another.” In “situational justice,” established legal principles and procedures are set aside because those in the justice system believes situation warrants such an exceptional course of action is needed. It seems that “situational justice” is the principle used by the de Lima when she prevented former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from leaving the country for medical treatment despite an order of the Supreme Court. De Lima said that under the situation, Mrs. Arroyo cannot be allowed to leave . She justified her order by saying that since the SC decision is still under appeal, it cannot be implemented yet. “Situational justice” prevailed when authorities failed to implement the arrest order
against former Gov. Grace Padaca who was then facing graft charges before the Sandiganbayan for giving money to an NGO under questionable circumstances. Despite the arrest order, Padaca, a close ally of the administration was going around apparently immune from arrest for several months. She publicly surfaced only to post bail provided by no less than President Aquino and only because she was appointed as Commissioner of the Commission on Elections. Contrast the treatment of Padaca and businessman and real estate developer Delfin Lee who is the latest example of the prevailing “situational justice” in this administration. The Court of Appeals has cleared Lee of the charge of syndicated estafa in connection with the alleged P7 billion housing scam involving two real estate projects in Pampanga. Lee’s lawyers said the CA has also ordered the recall of the arrest warrants against Lee and four co accused since the CA ruled that there was no case of syndicated estafa. Syndicated estafa is a non-bailable offense while an accused can post bail for a simple case of estafa. De Lima, however, was adamant that they arrest Lee if he comes out in public. “We take the position that the warrant of arrest against Lee stands since the resolution has not attained finality yet. Lee is being accused of securing P6.65-billion of loans from Pag-IBIG for ghost borrowers but is it “situational justice” in action that no case has been filed against PagIBIG officials at that time which include LP stalwart Rep. Miro Quimbo who was president of Pag-IBIG at that time. Despite the favorable CA ruling, Lee has yet to surface because of the de Lima threat to arrest him.
Lee apparently believes that de Lima will not honor the order of the CA Special 15th Division ruling which says “all government agencies tasked in the enforcement of the warrant of arrest, including but not limited to the PNP, NBI and the Bureau of Immigration, are immediately enjoined from implementing the same.” What is interesting to note is that the recent CA decision brings to a total of 21 justices or almost half of the composition of the Court of Appeals that ruled in favour of Lee and Globe Asiatique in at least seven petitions brought before the CA. But it seems that this does not mean anything to the Justice Secretary who is more interested in putting Lee in jail before he is convicted of any crime. Of course, the DOJ and de Lima are not the only ones who apparently follow “situational justice.” The SC itself also apparently adheres to this principle as shown by their conflicting decision in the case of Rep. Gina Reyes whom the SC disqualified after she was proclaimed winner after she beat the son of a sitting SC justice and assumed her seat in the House of Representatives. This is in contrast to the SC decision in the case of lawyer Wigberto Tanada Jr. whose protest the SC dismissed because it said since Tanada’s opponent, Dr. Angelina Tan had already been proclaimed, therefore the SC has no more jurisdiction on the case. Like in the case of Tanada, the SC was expected to declare that the HRET already had acquired jurisdiction over the case of Reyes. The high court, in previous decisions, had ruled that once a candidate had been proclaimed, it was the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and not the Commission on Elections that had jurisdiction over disputes arising from his or her election and qualifications. People are asking why Reyes’ case appears to be an exception. The answer perhaps it that this is situational justice, at its best, at work. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/12/09/‐situational‐justice‐in‐the‐aquino‐ administration/
A few kind words for the President By Manila Standard Today | Dec. 09, 2013 at 12:01am IF anything, President Aquino is a creature of habit. Last week, at a press forum, he fell back on one of his favorite pastimes – blaming the media for “too much negativism.” To the journalists assembled at a five-star hotel to recognize him for showing strength in adversity, the President jawed about their colleagues who criticized him morning, noon and night. “I am sure, between you and I, we can point to so many columnists who have never said anything nice about me,” he said. Today, we thought we would directly address the President’s longstanding complaint, and offer a few kind words about him and his administration. First, Mr. Aquino is determined. We have seen time and again how, when he puts his mind to it, the President can achieve what he wants. This was certainly the case when he, with the help of billions of pesos in pork barrel-type inducements taken from the public coffers, moved both chambers of Congress to oust the sitting chief justice of the Supreme Court. Second, Mr. Aquino is creative. To create a war chest substantial enough to move both houses of Congress, Mr. Aquino had his Budget secretary create the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), to take funds away from congressionally approved projects and channel them into more productive uses, such as greasing the way to the chief justice’s impeachment. The legality of the DAP has been challenged
nine times before the Supreme Court, but why quibble? It clearly shows how creative Mr. Aquino can be at circumventing the law. Third, Mr. Aquino is loyal. The President, in fact, is loyal to a fault to his friends, political allies, shooting buddies and his former classmates. Never before have we seen such loyalty, even in the face of incompetence and the whiff of corruption from those he trusts. Time and again – in the Customs bureau, at the Interior and Local Government Department, at the Land Transportation Office, and at the Agriculture Department – we have seen this loyalty put to a test. To his credit, Mr. Aquino has kept his friends on for years, until their stay became absolutely untenable. Fourth, Mr. Aquino is optimistic. In the face of the vast destruction left by super typhoon Yolanda, the President told the world that he expected the death toll to go no higher than 2,500. The toll now stands at more than 7,000 dead or missing, so this clearly demonstrates the President’s optimism. This same optimism can also be seen in the President’s rosy projections for the economy, even as he has done little to reduce unemployment or to raise workers’ income. Finally, Mr. Aquino is consistent. Throughout his three years in office, Mr. Aquino has consistently blamed all the nation’s troubles on his predecessor, whom he had detained shortly after he came to power. The President has been so consistent, in fact, that when controversy exploded around his DAP, he again managed to bring up and blame his predecessor—even though the program to shuffle government funds around was completely of his own making. Another area in which Mr. Aquino has been consistent is in blaming the media for his problems. Ironically, the first President in the republic to have three official spokesmen also claims that his approval ratings do not matter to him—except, of course, when those ratings go up. When they go down – well, that is clearly the media’s fault. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/12/09/a‐few‐kind‐words‐for‐the‐president/
A national embarrassment By Bong Austero | Dec. 08, 2013 at 12:01am A national embarrassment LAST week was a particularly painful time to be a Filipino, thanks to the shenanigans of our some of our leaders. Earthquakes, super typhoons, and other forces of nature we can at least attribute to forces beyond our control. But how do we justify the embarrassing actuations of senators and congressmen, government officials, certain media people, and many of our fellow Filipinos? I have always been in awe of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago’s ability to captivate people’s attention. She is articulate, feisty, and does not hold her punches even if she reduces herself to a caricature in the process. She has also on many occasions showed that she is not beyond poking fun at herself. And many times, she did show that there is truly something between her ears other than her puffy cheeks and her scowling face. But I must point out that the privilege speech she delivered at the floor of the Senate a few days ago marked a new low in the history of the Senate of the Philippines. I expected Santiago to be fiery and intense. But I did not expect her to go that low. I have no love lost for the Juan Ponce Enriles of this world. Everyone in this country who is of a certain age and who is a non- Marcos loyalist knows the important role the man played during the dictatorship. He did make a critical turnaround that paved the way for the Edsa revolution to happen, but he subsequently became an obstructionist during the Cory administration when he didn’t get the kind of power and influence he was used to wielding during the Marcos years. He has tried to sanitize himself many times over but there is only so much propaganda can do to revise the past particularly when there are hundreds of thousands of eyewitnesses that are still living that can bear witness to the truth. But there are better ways to expose a pig other than to wrestle with it in the mud. The words of George Bernard Shaw comes to mind: “I don’t like wrestling with pigs, it gets dirty and besides, the pig likes it.” Santiago may have just been reacting to Enrile’s earlier attempt at mudslinging, but by doing so, she did exactly what Enrile wanted her to do which was to go down to the gutter. No one won in that wrestling contest. Not Enrile, not Santiago, not the Senate, and certainly not the Filipino people. Hardly have we recovered from the mud-wrestling spectacle at the Senate when certain congressmen started this movement to exempt national boxer Emmanuel Pacquiao from paying taxes for life. That has got to be the most idiotic idea to emanate from Congress. Why would anyone want to exempt a billionaire sportsman cum businessman cum legislator from paying taxes? I agree that Pacquiao is not getting the respect and the consideration he deserves as a person who has brought immense honor and jubilation to the country and millions of Filipinos. But this does not mean he should be exempted from paying his dues as a citizen of this country. Let’s not lose sight of the real issue, which is that the people in this administration just need an intensive workshop on emotional intelligence. Pacquiao is not the enemy of the people, so let’s not turn
him into one. The man has his frailties – let’s help him become better, not embarrass him publicly and make him the subject of a scandal barely a few days after his triumphant return to victory. There’s this persistent yarn that’s going around that says imported relief goods from first world countries are being held up while on their way to areas devastated by the super typhoon. This embarrassing rumor has been fuelled by certain media people. A couple of news reporters have even tried to follow the trail of relief goods from the time they get into the country until the time they are received and consumed by typhoon victims - all under the guise of vigilance although I strongly suspect the real motivation was the scent of a possible scandal. They did not find any concrete proof other than the fact that some relief goods from other countries are indeed repackaged so that more people benefit from them. In short, the imported relief goods are reapportioned – the quantities in each packaged reduced – so that instead of, say, one family getting 12 rolls of toilet paper, three families get four rolls each. No one is exchanging imported goods with local goods. Even that yarn about how ready-to-eat military ration food has found its way into the black market could not be verified. And yet, certain media people persist on making reports that simply whet the imagination about possibilities of corruption and anomalies hounding the distribution of relief goods. Why oh why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we perpetuate rumors that paint ourselves as notoriously and pathologically corrupt that we even steal goods intended for victims of the worst typhoon ever to hit the country? Why do we like shooting ourselves in the foot? http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/12/08/a‐national‐embarrassment‐4/
PNoy’s bad press By Alejandro Del Rosario | Dec. 07, 2013 at 12:01am There he goes, ranting again. After using the Manila Overseas Press Club as a platform to criticize media, President B.S. Aquino railed anew at the press during an appearance before a group of women journalists. He claimed he’s constantly criticized no matter what he does. The most telling criticism of the President, however, came not from the press but from a citizen. Award-winning film director Peque Gallaga described Aquino as “uniquely unqualified and totally unprepared for the most difficult job in the country.” Can the press really be blamed for being critical about Aquino? You be the judge. Here are some of the issues /events that earned the Aquino administration a bad press: Providing slow government response in the delivery of relief goods for the victims of super typhoon Yolanda; Coddling pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles by receiving her in Malacanang and even escorting her to Camp Crame; Allowing Budget Secretary Florencio Abad’s secret Disbursement Acceleration Program fund to dole out additional pork barrel to senators after the conviction of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona; Having no outcome in the DOTC probe of officials’ attempted extortion of a Czech company bidding to supply and upgrade MRT equipment; Turning in poor intelligence work and handling of ground operations during the MNLF
siege of Zamboanga City; Overturning a DOJ report that found then-DILG Assistant Secretary Rico Puno and former Manila Mayor Fred Lim culpable in the botched Luneta hostage rescue; and Promising to support passage of the Freedom of Information Bill during the 2010 presidential campaign but reneging on this promised after he was elected. The President claims he’s not getting fair coverage, but he has only himself to blame. He is the bad news. When asked at the same women’s forum whether Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas will be the Liberal Party’s presidential candidate in 2016, Aquino said “he’s not it yet.” B.S. Aquino’ startling statement must have caught Mar Roxas by surprise and he probably felt he had just been stabbed in the back. This, after Mar gave way to PNoy to be the Liberal Party standard bearer in the 2010 presidential elections. But Mar should really look at the Aquino statement with relief. A lame duck Aquino endorsement would only be a kiss of death. Mar is also weighed down by political baggage within the Liberal Party. The link to pork barrel disbursements of Senate President Franklin Drilon and Budget Management Secretary Butch Abad, the architect of DAP, won’t be a plus in a Roxas campaign. Santiago’s storm surge Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago went ballistic in the Senate last Wednesday, calling Minority Floor Leader Juan Ponce Enrile a philanderer and plunderer. She also recited a litany of Enrile’s alleged sins dating back to the Marcos martial law years.
Santiago said Enrile as defense minister should be investigated and made to answer for a number of human rights violations, adding Enrile staged and faked his own ambush to justify the imposition of martial law. Aside from insisting Enrile is the real mastermind in the P10-billion pork barrel scam, Santiago also called Enrile the king of illegal logging, smuggling and gambling who used Port Irene in the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) as a base for these illegal activities. Miriam claimed (without presenting any proof) that former Senator Panfilo Lacson, then a fugitive from justice, was harbored by Enrile in Port Irene. She accused the two of conspiring against her with Lacson serving as Enrile’s attack dog. With Enrile seated in the first row, Santiago pointed an accusing finger at Enrile several times and in one instance made the sign of the cross with her fingers. Enrile could only shake his head and smile sardonically. Senators Serge Osmena and Francis Escudero saw the gesture as unparliamentary. After her speech, Santiago refused to be interpellated, claiming she is still suffering from chronic fatigue. It would have been more interesting if Santiago had stood her ground to be questioned by Enrile who was left no choice but to deliver a brief manifestation. “She (Santiago) is the best evidence of everything (referring to Miriam’s mental state) I said about her. She did not answer the points I raised but chose to attack me personally and other people, including my chief of staff, who’s not here to defend herself.” said Enrile of his “bitter, obsessive hater.” The Santiago-Enrile acrimonious exchange, can only renew calls to abolish the Senate whose present members include a brother and a sister, two half-siblings, the wife of a retired senator, the daughter of a Makati political dynasty, two former military men, the son of a former senator, another Aquino, and an Osmena of the Cebu political clan. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/12/07/pnoy‐s‐bad‐press/
New scandal rocks PDEA December 8, 2013 9:31 pm by JOEL M. SY EGCO
tHE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is again rocked by yet another damning scandal, this time involving the arrest of a close relative of the agency chief and a high-profile drug inmate who were both arrested in a drug bust in Cabanatuan City last week. It almost came to pass as another ordinary drug bust but The Manila Times’ sources at the PDEA claimed that the arrested drug suspects— PO2Fraklin Ariap and “agent” Jean Granada—are, respectively, a relative of PDEA Director General Arturo Cacdac and an inmate who was involved in the theft of some 7 kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu inside the PDEA premises in 2006. Granada, who was supposed to be in jail, is one of the two security guards previously assigned at PDEA who were charged for the drug theft along with Supts. Jerome Mutia, former chief of the Special Enforcement Services, and Gustavo Torres, chief of the Administration and Human Resource Department; Chief Insp. Arsenio Tancinco; Insp. Joferdy Padillo, formerly detailed with the PDEA laboratory services. The other security guard charged with the same offense is Oliver Fernandez. Mutia and the other accused are detained at the Quezon City jail. Granada, on the other hand, was supposedly an inmate at the PDEA for fear that he might be killed if jailed along the other respondents in the drug case. “There are several questions which PDEA should answer squarely. First, how come the detainee who is under the custody of PDEA-IIS [Intelligence and Investigation Service] under the supervision of a Magdalo officer Randy Pedroso tolerated and allowed the detainee to leave the premises of the PDEA?” the Times’ source asked. It was said that Police Officer 2 Ariap’s detail at the drug agency was recently extended by Cacdac after its six-month expiration.
Arrest On December 3, Ariap and Granada were nabbed by anti-narcotics operatives of the Nueva Ecija Provincial Police Office during a buy-bust operation. Nueva Ecija police director Sr. Supt. Crizaldo Nieves said both suspects identified themselves as PDEA personnel but Cabanatuan City police chief Supt. Pedro Soliba reported that Cacdac’s office had denied Granada was an operative. The two were arrested by members of the Intelligence/Drug Enforcement Unit led by Senior Insp. Joel de la Cruz in Barangay Sangitan West at around 4:10 a.m. on the said date. Seized from them was a plastic pack containing shabu worth P125,000, three plastic sachets containing shabu with a street value of P10,000. The two also bore two PDEA identification cards. Ariap also yielded a 9mm pistol and a cal. .45, purportedly issued by the police and the PDEA. Unknown to the two, they have been subjected to a two-week surveillance operation by local police following reports about their illicit trade. Nueva Ecija police officials said charges of violation of Section 5 and 11 of Article II of RA 9165 will be filed against the suspects before the City Prosecutor’s Office in Cabanatuan. Violation Another source at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court where the case against Granada, Mutia and other 2006 heist suspects said Granada should have been in jail and not “peddling drugs.” “Magagalit si Judge dito kapag nalaman. May request sa korte si Granada na ilipat sa ibang detention facility at mukha nganga ginagamit siya doon [The judge will be mad when he learns about this. Granada had requested to be transferred to another facility maybe because he is being used there at PDEA],” a court source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Times.
Both PDEA and court sources agreed that under the Revised Penal Code, specifically Article 224, Pedroso and other PDEA officials concerned should be held liable for “infidelity in the custody of prisoners,” a crime punishable with imprisonment. The Article provides that “if the evasion of the prisoner shall have taken place through the negligence of the officer charged with the conveyance or custody of the escaping prisoner, said officer shall suffer the penalties of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period and temporary special disqualification.” Granada applied to be put under the Witness Protection Program and filed a motion for discharge as an accused in the shabu theft case. The QC Regional Trial Court Branch 76 under Judge Alexander Balut, according to the Times source, however, denied the motion several months ago. “In effect, PDEA should have turned over Jean Granada immediately to the Quezon City jail but PDEA deaf to the dictate of the law and kept Granada for unknown reasons or for reasons that we now very well know following his arrest for drug pushing in Nueva Ecija,” the source pointed out. According to him, the shabu seized form Ariap and Granada came from accumulated drugs seized from previous apprehensions, which are more commonly known as “savings.” These “savings” are used in future operations but some erring agents sell these for personal gain. “These savings are stored in a steel cabinet where they have gained access to after the other PDEA agents who were involved in the Mark Sy Tan case were relieved from the IIS,” the PDEA source said. Previously, the agency was rocked by similar controversies that include extortion and charges that money changed hands in the Tan case. The former head of the PDEA and his deputy even locked horns over a similar issue and caused the former to bow out of service. Background On August 21, 2006, seven kilos of shabu were stolen from the PDEA evidence room in
what many said was a move to humiliate then PDEA Director General Dionisio Santiago who wanted the policemen detailed to PDEA to be recalled back to their mother units. Santiago then ordered a thorough investigation and even sought the help of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to uncover the truth behind the theft. Santiago was a former chief of the Armed Forces. The breakthrough came when Santiago’s men discovered that Granada and the other security guard were acting strangely. Later, they found out cash stashed inside a speaker system owned by one of the guards who eventually confessed to the crime. On Sept. 18, 2006, Santiago personally led PDEA operatives in arresting Mutia and his wife Gina for delivering 122.66 grams of shabu to Padillo at SM Fairview, QC after the latter cooperated with PDEA. That time, Mutia was planning to leave for abroad. During interrogation, Santiago almost came to hitting Mutia with a metal chair. They were charged with violation of Article 299 of the Revised Penal Code (Robbery in a Public Building); Section 5 (Transportation of Dangerous Drugs) in relation to Section 26 (attempt or conspiracy) Article 11 of Republic Act 9165 and violation of Article 217 of RPC (malversation of public funds or property). Based on the investigation conducted by the PDEA, the respondents plotted the robbery during a meeting which was presided by Mutia and Torres. The group agreed to rob the PDEA and promised the others that each would get at least a million pesos each. The robbery was carried out in the early of morning of August 21, 2006 with Mutia driving a white Isuzu Crosswind (XGV-107) with Torres, Padillo, Fernandez and Avelino on board. Padillo, Fernandez and Avelino alighted and entered the exit gate, which was earlier opened by Granada for them to easily enter the PDEA compound without being detected. Fernandez and Avelino then proceeded to the evidence room while Padillo and Granada acted as look-outs. http://manilatimes.net/new‐scandal‐rocks‐pdea/59046/
President to sign budget before Christmas December 8, 2013 9:29 pm by JHOANNA BALLARAN
The 2014 national budget will be approved by Congress and signed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd before December 23, a lawmaker said on Sunday. Rep. Isidro Ungab of Davao City, the House Committee on Appropriations chairman, said the P2.268-trillion General Appropriations Act is expected to hurdle the bicameral committee meeting before Congress takes its Christmas break on December 23. The President will sign the budget two days before Christmas, just in time for its effectivity on January 1. Ungab said they have no objections to opening the bicameral committee deliberations to the public as a response to an online petition in Change.Org calling for transparency. “No problem, we have nothing to hide. We support the government’s campaign for more transparency,” he said. Ungab and his counterpart, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Francis Escudero, said the bicam panel will meet on Tuesday at the Senate and on Wednesday at the House. Ungab said the Congress is finishing the reports for the bicameral committee meeting. “Both House and Senate staff are working overtime to finish the inputs for bicameral conference committee. They are actually almost done and could finish it by Monday so we can proceed with the bicameral conference committee meeting on Tuesday,” Ungab said. The lawmakers want to create a P15-billion to P20-billion fund for the rehabilitation of areas ravaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda. It will be on top of the P14.6-billion supplemental budget sourced from the unused Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) declared by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. The House passed the supplemental budget but the Senate has yet to finalize its own version.
CA gives green light to prosecute exCJ Panganiban December 8, 2013 9:28 pm by JOMAR CANLAS
RETIRED Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, who was earlier ordered arrested in relation to a libel case filed against him, can now be prosecuted and the trial of his case may proceed before the Makati Regional Trial Court. This, after the Court of Appeals 11th Division failed to issue a writ of preliminary injunction which would halt his arraignment and trial. The October 1, 2013 temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the appellate court in favor of the former chief justice has already lapsed and was no longer extended and renewed. The CA TRO lasted only for a 60-day period, or until November 30, 2013. It was learned that the CA 11th Division cannot issue an injunction which would extend the life of the TRO because there was no hearing conducted as mandated by the Rules of Court. Associate Justice Stephen Cruz, Chairman of the Division, is asking for a hearing on the propriety of the issuance of an injunction order which is mandated by law. The ponente and Chairman of the Division, Associate Justice Magdangal De Leon, has yet to call for a hearing on the injunction case. The other member of the division is Associate Justice Myra Garcia-Fernandez. According a CA insider, Panganiban allegedly â€œlobbiedâ€? to get the TRO extended and to stop his arraignment by the Makati court. The source said Panganiban has been calling up Justices of the CA to save him from being arraigned by issuing a TRO for a period of 60-days.
Panganiban sought refuge from the appeals court to stop Makati RTC Branch 142 Judge Dina Pestano Teves from proceeding with the case. The petition was filed in the CA by Panganiban co-accused, Philippine Daily Inquirer Editor in Chief Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc. However, Panganiban was allegedly following-up his case after he was charged in court and was issued an arrest warrant. This is in connection with the libel case filed by Marcos crony Herminio Disini against Panganiban for the alleged defamatory statements made by Panganiban in his column in the newspaper. In a two-page Resolution of the CA 11th Division, dated October 1, penned by De Leon, the court issued a 60-day TRO in favor of the former chief justice and newspaper. “In the meantime, so as not to render any decision on the merits of the petition moot and academic, a temporary restraining order is hereby issued, to be effective from service and for a period of 60 days, Enjoining the Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 142, Makati City,” it says. The TRO was issued enjoining the lower court “from conducting further proceedings in Criminal Case No. 13-2084 entitled People of the Philippines vs. Artemio V. Panganiban and Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, subject of the present petition. When Panganiban is asking for his additional retirement benefits from the Supreme Court, an SC Justice told that The Manila Times that Panganiban has been calling up and lobbied with fellow SC Justices as well. The case stemmed from Panganiban’s alleged irresponsible and malicious attack on Disini over the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP). It all started on Disini’s lawyer, Jose Bernas, calling for Panganiban to correct his column on the BNPP entitled “After 35 Years, Still Languishing” which the Inquirer published on March 27, 2011. The letter to Panganiban was addressed to the newspaper. Bernas stressed that if Panganiban will not correct his article, appropriate legal action awaits him for irresponsible attributions that intend to malign Disini’s s character.
It was pointed out that Panganiban’s use of the phrase “go-between” to describe Mr. Disini in the alleged BNPP deal portrayed him as evil and/or someone’s dummy. Bernas questioned the assertion of Panganiban that the BNPP was constructed at US$2 billion and challenged him to quote the source of the information. Bernas also questioned Panganibana’s statement attributing to Disini the decision to “abandon” or to otherwise not operate the BNPP. He added that Panganiban’s column was irresponsible because it does not mention an act or person to justify attribution to Disini. He stressed that contrary to Panganiban’s aspersion, his client was a commercial agent and it was reckless for the former justice to portray his client with shady character without providing any reason for the portrayal. The former chief justice’s aspersion over Disini started as early as 2003 when the former justice wrote the Decision in PCGG v. Desierto, et al., where he first exhibited his bent on attacking Disini. In the said ruling said decision, Panganiban maliciously misquoted a mere opinion on an interlocutory motion rendered by the New Jersey Court on September 20, 1991 regarding the B NPP built by Westinghouse. The decision dismissed the claim of the Republic of the Philippines that Westinghouse bribed former President Ferdinand Marcos through Disini. Mr. Panganiban must have known or should have known that a decision was issued on 15 July 1993 in favor of Westinghouse, ten (10) years before his ponencia and 18 years before his column of 27 March 2011.“ He said that any responsible lawyer must verify first the status of a case he cites and would not have passed off a ruling or an opinon as a final or definitive decision, Bernas added. http://manilatimes.net/ca‐gives‐green‐light‐to‐prosecute‐ex‐cj‐panganiban/59038/
Support for response agency gaining support December 8, 2013 9:27 pm by JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA SEN. Antonio Trillanes 4th has filed Senate Bill 819 seeking the establishment of a separate emergency response department, to free the Department of National Defense of this tedious job of chairing the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. (NDRRMC). Trillanes said “the job of Secretary of National Defense is already taxing such that putting him in charge of NDRRMC will further make things difficult.” Trillanes said the NDRRMC has its own share of problems being under the Department of National Defense (DND) and gets just a small budget slice from the DND. Under the current set up, the Secretary of DND as chair of the NDRRMC can only focus on disaster management only during calamities, Trillanes said. His bill seeks to establish a permanent, full-time national agency under the Office of the President, which shall replace the NDRRMC. Unlike NDRRMC, which is limited to natural calamities, the emergency management agency (EMA) defines national emergency situations to include man-made disasters like fire, disease outbreak, and other emergencies. The EMA will also be in charge of formulating policies aimed at reducing the risk of disasters, mitigating possible damage to life and property, initiating rapid and effective response to disasters, and effectively managing post-disaster recovery. It will also be responsible for developing a comprehensive national emergency and disaster preparedness plan. Trillanes’ EMA is similar to the proposed Senate Bill 1940 filed earlier by Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano seeking to establish an “Emergency Response
Department” (ERD), a separate agency that will assume all of disaster risk reduction function of the NDRRMC) and Office of Civil Defense (OCD). Cayetano’s proposed ERD will be headed by a person with a rank of Cabinet Secretary and will be completely focused on disaster preparedness “24 hours a day and 365 days a year.” Cayetano said it is time to establish a focused and specialized single government agency that functions not only after the occurrence of disasters, but works all-yearround to ensure that effective mechanisms for disaster risk reduction are in place even before a disaster occurs. “Such specialized department shall stubbornly focus bear laser-like preciseness in focus, give primacy to pre-disaster resilience-building, and prioritize life preservation and basic subsistence needs in the communities affected by a disaster,” he added. Former Sen. Panfilo Lacson was appointed head of the body that would lead the rehabilitation efforts of the government on areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda and other calamities. However, despite the urgency President Benigno Aquino 3rd has yet to sign the executive order that would formalize Lacson’s duty as rehabilitation czar. http://manilatimes.net/support‐for‐response‐agency‐gaining‐support/59032/
Bantay Bata executive accused of child abuse December 8, 2013 9:26 pm by JING VILLAMENTE
MANUEL Padilla, vice president of ABS-CBN’s Bantay Bata Foundation faces charges of child abuse and grave threats during a spat with his cousin, which traumatized the latter’s daughter. Padilla, a resident of Ayala Twin Towers Condominium, allegedly threatened to have his cousin Arnold killed, as the latter and his wife Glocel were shopping at the Rockwell Power Plant Mall in June. Since then, Arnold’s children Alexi, 9, and Kevyn, 6, have been scared of going to Rockwell lest they encounter their uncle. In his testimony Arnold Padilla said his cousin kept on shouting the threat “in front of my family despite the fact that my daughter Lexi was already in tears,” and who is now “traumatized by such aggressive and abusive behavior.” The rift between the Padillas stemmed from inheritance, when siblings Manuel and Alberto allegedly deprived Arnold’s mother her share in the family’s properties in Manila. This prompted Arlene to file estafa cases against the Padilla brothers, who also allegedly failed to pay realty taxes for their Loakan, Baguio, and Tagaytay properties. Manuel on the other hand sued Arlene and Arnold in October for their supposed involvement in the explosion that killed Arlene’s daughter Yvonne Padilla-Chua in her home in Taguig City three years ago. The mother and son denied the accusation, stressing that Chua’s untimely demise brings them no advantage of ever inheriting the victim’s properties as she had legal descendants. http://manilatimes.net/bantay‐bata‐executive‐accused‐of‐child‐abuse/59029/
Aquino used agrarian reform funds as pork barrel December 8, 2013 9:20 pm by RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO More and more, President Aquino seems to deserve the Pork Barrel King moniker. It wasn’t just money from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF)—the official pork-barrel kitty—and later from the Disbursement Acceleration Plan (DAP) that President Aquino used to bribe senators for their support, especially for the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona. Aquino even converted as pork-barrel funds money from the Agrarian Reform Fund (ARF), set up way back in 1987 and sourced from the proceeds of the sale to private groups of government assets and the recovery of the so-called ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos couple and their cronies. Booked in the government’s accounting system as “Fund 158,” the ARF money is administered by the Land Bank of the Philippines, and intended mainly for the comprehensive agrarian reform program. It is money basically for peasants. Sources from the budget department and the Commission on Audit claimed that Aquino could have used about P700 million of the ARF as pork-barrel funds in 2011 and 2012, a big chunk of which ended up in lawmakers’ pockets through “Napoles-type” of scams.
Letter from 2011 Chairman of Senate Finance Committee F. M. Drilon to Sen. Gregorio Honasan transmtting a copy of a P100 million SARO under DAR. They were referring to the alleged operations of the now infamous Janet Lim-Napoles to siphon pork-barrel funds to fake NGOs, by which lawmakers got part of the money as kickbacks. Use of ARF money illegal The use by Aquino of these huge ARF sums however is illegal not only because of one reason the Supreme Court recently gave in declaring all pork barrel funds unconstitutional, which is that lawmakers cannot be involved in the expenditure of the government budget. More clearly, Aquino’s the use of ARF funds was because these had been released without resolutions by the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council’s Executive Committee, as required by law. The budget department cannot just on its own take money from the ARF; the transaction has to be approved by that committee. The agrarian reform secretary chairs this committee, whose other members are the Executive Secretary, the secretaries of the departments of agriculture, environment and natural resources, finance, public works and highways as well as the chairman of the Land Bank of the Philippines. In a full-blown investigation, each of these officials would have to choose whether to lie for Aquino or tell the truth that they didn’t approve or sign any resolution for such use of the funds. The sources claimed that the P220 million that Agrarian Reform Undersecretary Anthony Parungao recently claimed had been endorsed by Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Gregorio Honasan and released to fund nonexistent “agrarian reform projects” by dubious nongovernment agencies was just a part of the total ARF funds that Aquino used as pork-barrel money. “It was clearly Budget Secretary Florencio Abad’s idea, as he was familiar with these funds when he was agrarian reform secretary under Cory [President Corazon],” a
source said. He probably thought the use of some of these ARF funds, as pork barrel would escape scrutiny. A COA audit, contained in its Audit Observation Memorandum dated March 25, 2013, concluded that about P170 million of the P220 million was disbursed to fake NGOs, seven of which had been identified as fronts of Napoles by his employee Benhur Luy. These were supposed to be spent for projects undertaken by “agrarian reform communities” mainly (and strangely) for vermi-composting (the use of certain worms to compost waste without using chemicals) and the distribution of fertilizers and chemicals to farmers. Ghost projects A field investigation by the COA, however, found no such projects implemented or being implemented. The mayors who were supposed to be partners in the projects were totally unaware of them. The sources so far provided actual documents however solely in the case of such projects “endorsed” by Sen. Gregorio Honasan. Obviously in response to Honasan’s request, Sen. Franklin Drilon, then the chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Finance who allegedly was Aquino’s liaison man in that body to distribute pork-barrel funds of any type, sent an official letter to Honasan, dated February 15, 2011 which read: (see page 1) Attached to Drilon’s letter was a photocopy of Special Allotment Release Order No. E11-00282 darted February 8, 2011 for the amount of P100 million. The SARO was signed by Budget Undersecretary Mario L. Relampagos, with the note. “By Authority of the Secretary.” The SARO indicated the fund code: 158, which means it was drawn from the Agrarian Reform Fund, and not from the PDAF, which is a separate item in the appropriations laws. The COA and the agrarian reform undersecretary for legal affairs followed the paper trail on the use of the P100 million, and undertook actual investigations, and found that the bulk of the money was released to fake NGOs for nonexistent projects.
“What is strange though is why only documents involving Jinggoy and Honasan’s pork barrel from ARF funds are being released by the agrarian reform department,” a budget department source said. Several other senators, including those in Aquino’s camp had availed of this ARF ‘pork-barrel,’ the source added. Aquino and the Senate apparently had concluded an agreement in late 2010, that for the body to be really supportive, especially of the President’s unprecedented plot to take out Chief Justice Corona that year, the regular PDAF of P200 million yearly for each senator wasn’t enough. After all the senators thought they had a right to it as they make the budget law, and without that PDAF, there wouldn’t be a budget law. Being a former agrarian reform secretary, Abad knew that the ARF could be tapped as pork barrel funds. But Abad—and probably Relampagos—later thought that the easier way would be to get money from various departments, by simply declaring some of their allocations as “savings.” As a smokescreen, they used such dubious “savings” for other projects they preferred, and called such impounding and utilization of funds allocated by the budget laws as “Disbursement Acceleration Plan.” Instead, that scheme, when the Supreme Court rules it as unconstitutional, would probably accelerate the unraveling of Aquino’s regime. http://manilatimes.net/aquino‐used‐agrarian‐reform‐funds‐as‐pork‐barrel/59018/
Is Congress still relevant? December 8, 2013 9:17 pm by TITA C. VALDERAMA
Tita Valderama THE 16th Congress has been in session for almost five months with only one measure that has become lawâ€”Republic Act 10632, postponing the October 28, 2013 Sangguniang Kabataan elections. The only law that the present Congress has so far produced tasked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to set the new date of the SK elections between October 28, 2014 and February 23, 2015. With two weeks remaining before the Senate and the House of Representatives adjourn for a month-long Christmas break, the proposed 2014 budget of P2.26 trillion should be ratified by December 20 so it can be sent to the President for enactment. And thereâ€™s also a proposed P14.6-billion supplemental budget to augment the calamity fund to rebuild public infrastructures destroyed during recent calamities, including monster typhoon Yolanda that the President had certified for urgent approval. The Senate and the House have a combined expenditure budget of P9.65 billion this year. That translates to P804.29 million a month. From August to December, that means P4.02 billion in hard-earned public money down the drain. The amounts exclude P762.82-million budget for the Senate and House electoral tribunals tasked to settle electoral protests, and for the bicameral Commission on
Appointments (CA) that screens presidential appointments to top-rank positions in the Cabinet, military, and diplomatic posts. Personal services or benefits including salaries, allowances and bonuses for the legislators and their employees eat up roughly 50 percent of the allocations for the legislative bodies, and the rest for maintenance and operational requirements. The pork and other perks of legislators are tucked in the budget of other agencies and therefore not included in these amounts. It is indeed quite costly to keep the Congress. But we have to. The Congress is one of the many important symbols of democracy and freedom. Its primary function is not only to make laws, but also to check against the abuses of the executive branch including the President. At this time of financial difficulties and amidst charges of graft and corruption levelled against legislators, it becomes important to take a serious look at the power and significance of Congress as a legislative body. As maker of laws, Congress should pass legislations and the executive branch implements. The judiciary â€“ third branch of government- settles legal disputes between the two other branches. Our Constitution, present and past, clearly provide for separation of powers among the three branches. Nowhere does it open avenues for collusion or intervention. But with the controversies involving the abuse and misuse of the so-called pork barrel funds by the executive and the legislative branches, the principle of checks and balance seemed to have gone awry. Passing only one law in the first six months of the three-year life of the 16th Congress is not something to be proud of about. Crafting and passing legislation is the most significant power that Congress has, and performance is counted on the number of bills that have become law, not on the number of bills filed, privileges speeches delivered, or bills approved on second or third readings.
The public bickering between two senior senators, trading accusations and insults, and calling each other indigestible names should have no place at all in the august chambers of Congress. There is nothing dignified in a lady senator availing herself of the privilege hour and going ballistic in her delivery of a speech against an old male colleague who chose to fiddle with his electronic tablet to ignore the insults of the lady speaker. Congress seems to be engaged in massive self-destruction. The P10-billion pork barrel and related scams had successfully pulled down public trust and respect in the Congress as an institution The recent controversies pose serious challenges to the leaders of Congress to chart a new direction for real reforms that the public can feel so they can trust their lawmakers again. It will take Supermen to redeem the institution. Senators and congressmen should propose laws that make sense, not those that mandate selling of rice by half-a-cup or granting perpetual income tax exemption to a boxing hero who can’t even follow the simple requirement of declaring his earnings. We need lawmakers who will truly serve the public good, not those who engage in verbal fights or those with suicidal thinking. We need lawmakers who will make functional laws, not those who are to first violate laws and regulations. We need lawmakers who are humble and kind, not those who enrich themselves by using their positions to seek personal and business favors. We need lawmakers who will make our country proud, not those who make the public squirm over the arrogance of their lawmakers. If the quality of laws churned out year in and out continue to deteriorate, if the plenary speeches continue to be about personal attacks against a colleague or another person, it looks more logical to take seriously the suggestion to just abolish Congress, rather than keep an irrelevant legislature. http://manilatimes.net/is‐congress‐still‐relevant/59016/
Today is the feast of the Immaculate Conception December 7, 2013 10:16 pm by Rene Q. Bas Publisher- Editor
RENE Q. BAS DO you know who or what the Immaculate Conception is? Those who have forgotten their catechism, or never learned it, will say the Immaculate Conception is Jesus Christ, that the Immaculate Conception is that of Jesus Christ. Well, it is indeed true that Jesus the Second Person of the Holy Trinity (the Trinity of one God in the Persons of Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) was conceived as a human being immaculately in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Jesus, the God-Man, could not be anything but immaculate. But the great feasts of the Church for Jesus Christ are Christmas, His birth, and His Resurrection from the dead on the third day after his death on the cross. The moment of Jesus’ conception happened when the Blessed Virgin Mary said Yes to the Archangel Gabriel’s announcement to her that God had chosen her to be the bearer of God in human form, and she would conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit, and she would give birth to him who would redeem men and women (and mankind) from their sins. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word,” she told St. Gabriel after he explained how she could do the impossible of conceiving when she was a virgin. From that moment God the Word, the Second Person, who would be known as Jesus, took flesh in the womb of Mary. That is the moment of Jesus’ conception or incarnation—the beginning of his human nature, his membership in the human race. The Incarnation (the enfleshment of God) is celebrated on March 25 every year. It is
also known as the Annunciation. Nine months after that is the birth or nativity of Jesus our God-Man savior: Christmas Day. In the Christian Orthodox Church, the Feast of the Annunciation is celebrated more lavishly. In the Roman Catholic Church, it is a solemn day but not a holy day of obligation in most countries. (On a holy day of obligation Catholics are obliged, are duty bound, to go to Mass.) It was actually in the Eastern domains of early Christianity, where the Orthodox Church and the Eastern rite Catholic Churches were based, which first celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. In the seventh century, Eastern Christians began to observe the feast of the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary by her mother Saint Anne (wife of St. Joachim, Mary’s father) on December 8. Nine months later, on September 8 is the Feast of the Birth or Nativity of the Virgin, A theological controversy in the Western Church developed about the immaculate conception of the Blessed Virgin, in relation to the doctrine of Original Sin. Jesus saved all mankind, including His mother, Mary. But how could Mary be subject to Jesus’ redemptive action if she was conceived immaculately. One of those who could not accept the immaculate conception doctrine was the brightest mind in Christian theology and philosophy, the Dominican St. Thomas Aquinas. He contended that although Mary did not commit any sin whatsoever after the Annunciation she was at least also stained with Adam and Eve’s Original Sin by being a human being born of her human parents. The hero who championed Mary’s immaculate conception was the Franciscan Duns Scotus, who only became Blessed Duns Scotus on March 20, 1993, when Blessed John Paul II beatified him. People, including this writer, are praying for his canonization. Blessed Duns Scotus’ answer to St. Thomas Aquinas’ objection was simple: God sanctified (made a saint) of Mary at the moment of her conception because God sees and knows everything. He knew that the Blessed Virgin would agree to His call, through Archangel Gabriel, for her to bear Christ. Duns Scotus explained that Mary too had been redeemed by Jesus, only He (the Eternal Second Person of the Trinity) redeemed her at the moment of her conception.
This is of course unique. Other people are redeemed upon their baptism and after they fall into sin upon their getting absolved after making a good confession and doing penance or at their deathbed after receiving the sacrament of extreme unction. It was only on December 8, 1854 when Pope Pius IX promulgated the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. In the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, he wrote: “We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.” All Christians, not just Catholics, are obliged by canon law to accept this doctrine as true because it is a promulgated dogma. The Feast of our Mother Mary’s Immaculate Conception is extremely important to Filipino Catholics, and even other Filipino Christians like many Aglipayans and Anglicans-Episcopalians.This importance can be seen in the fact that in the Philippines there are only three holy days of obligation: January 1 – Motherhood of Mary (New Year’s Day), December 8—Immaculate Conception which is the title of our Blessed Mother as Patroness of the Philippines, and December 25—Nativity of the Lord (Christmas Day.)The liturgical observances (Holy Mass) of all major solemnities of the Church in the Philippines have been moved to the nearest Sunday. Therefore, the obligation to hear Mass on that day becomes simultaneous to the Sunday observance. Our Mother Mary, the Immaculate Conception is not only the patroness of the whole Philippines but also of specific town, cities and provinces. She is the patroness of the Archdiocese of Manila.She is also patroness of Puerto Princesa, Palawan. There the people and the Church began to celebrate their Immaculate Conception fiesta on December 1. The celebration reaches a high point today but the celebrations will continue on until January 6, the end of the Christmas season. http://manilatimes.net/today‐is‐the‐feast‐of‐the‐immaculate‐conception/58817/
WB cuts PH growth forecast December 8, 2013 6:47 pm by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO Washington-based lender World Bank trimmed down its economic growth forecast for the Philippines for this year and 2014, still on the account of the damages brought by Super Typhoon Yolanda. In a statement over the weekend, Rogier van den Brink, lead economist for the World Bank in the Philippines said that it’s likely that the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate will be 6.9 percent in 2013 from the lender’s pre-Yolanda forecast of 7 percent. For 2014, the Bank said that growth could further slow down to 6.5 percent from the earlier estimate of 6.7 percent. The latest World Bank growth forecasts are still within the government’s 6-percent to 7percent, and 6.5-percent to 7.5 percent target this year and for 2014, respectively. Meanwhile, as part of a broader and longer-term assistance package, the World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors approved the $500 million quick-disbursing budget support that the government can use in dealing with the short-term recovery and reconstruction efforts. “The World Bank support will be guided by the human face of this tragedy. This obliges us to act quickly and work with all involved parties toward a quick implementation of the recovery and reconstruction measures so that children can go back to school, people have access to health services, and businesses can return to normal and resume creating jobs and incomes,” said Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank vice president for the East Asia and Pacific. Recovery in 2014 Meanwhile, global banking giant Citi is seeing a recovery of the Philippine economy in 2014 because of the reconstruction efforts in the aftermath of the super typhoon.
In its latest research titled “Pan-Asia Road Ahead: 2014 Outlook,” the banking giant said that the country’s GDP could grow by 7.3 percent, or near the upper end of the government’s target for next year. “The devastation wrought by Typhoon Yolanda may slow 4Q13 [fourth quarter of 2013] GDP growth, but the rebuilding efforts could prompt a sharp recovery in 1Q14 [first quarter of 2014],” it stated. It cited the country’s current account surplus and inflation rate as drivers of growth, stating that “the current account remains in surplus. Inflation should stay within an acceptable range of 4 percent to 5 percent.” Latest data form the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed that the country’s current account recorded a surplus of $2.5 billion in the second quarter, or equivalent to 3.6 percent of the GDP. Robust current account surplus supported the balance of payments (BOP) to reach a $1-billion surplus in the same quarter. Inflation, on the other hand, averaged to 2.8 percent for the first 11 months of the year and still within the BSP’s 3-percent to 5-percent target band of the year. Besides reconstruction theme, Citi said that deployment of excess liquidity and gradually rising rates are seen as the key drivers of the market. http://manilatimes.net/wb‐cuts‐ph‐growth‐forecast/58936/
PH shares to trade sideways this week December 8, 2013 6:46 pm by MADELAINE B. MIRAFLOR With no specific fresh and positive leads lined up for the next few days, Philippine shares may experience a prolonged sideways movement this week. Jun Calaycay, Accord Capital Equities Corp. analyst, indicated that the market is quite trapped in limbo with the absence of fresh positive leads from the corporate, news and macro-fundamentals fronts. “The market would move sideways for the next few days,” Summit Securities President Harry Liu said. In the previous week, Philippine shares joined the Korea Composite Stock Price Index or KOSPI as the worst performing market in the week that opened the final month of the 2013 trading calendar. Specifically, total aggregate local share prices dropped 3.12 percent, just ahead of the Korean counters’ 3.15 percent decline. The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) ended the week with a drop nearer to the 6,000-point support level, tracking the correction of the Dow Jones. The benchmark index went down by 0.27 percent on Friday, or 16.01 points to end at 6,014.94, while the all-shares index declined by 0.39 percent, or 14.59 points to 3,688.47. Although it fell slightly during the last trading session of the week, the index suffered a more than 70-points loss during Thursday’s trade. On Thursday, the PSEi lost 74.28 points, or 1.22 percent to 6,030.95, while the broader all-shares index erased 30.55 points, or 0.82 percent t http://manilatimes.net/ph‐shares‐to‐trade‐sideways‐this‐week/58932/
Weighed, measured and found wanting – branding? December 8, 2013 6:45 pm You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting. Isn’t that branding? In simple terms, that is exactly how we define Superbranding without the fancy theories of the written word developed in the 19th Century. Marketing has been the culprit that hides what is not delivered, yet promised by brands that have stayed the market. Branding is not marketing. Think for a moment about successful brands that continue to be popular (evidenced by sales) but do not deliver on the brand promise. We see a lot of this in the soap industry, where companies compete for big money poured into the marketplace. Advertising doesn’t always live up to “truth in advertising” or the phrase would never have been coined. Soaps that promise to turn white whiter, to clean cleaner, to sanitize better, to make fresh fresher (even if fresh is not part of the characteristics) fail in delivery. Promises abound. Regulation is nil. It’s a free for all and, in the end, consumers are duped. With the beverage industry, even brand titles are misleading, falling far short of what their titles promise. And yet, they are allowed to enjoy space in a marketplace driven by the consumption of duped consumers. How is this possible? It is open capitalism driven by funds to generate perceptions without protective regulation for truth. This free for all strategy does not regulate truth in the delivery of products and services. Hence, branding strategy is crucial in today’s marketplace. If truth were the issue there would be no use for branding. Sigh. Branding is all about the consistent delivery of the brand promise, generating the integrity that makes it the brand. So if your product or service and brand is truthful in how it entices consumers to buy, there is no problem. The problem arises when many products and services are called brands when they are merely bogus offerings that frustrate consumers.
So why don’t we have regulation to ensure that brands deliver on promises? For Ayn Rand, the ultimate system is “a full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism—with a separation of state and economics,” i.e., a freewheeling market economy driven by competition and, of course, money. Capitalism is a social system based on the principle of individual rights. Politically, it is a system of laissez-faire neglect (freedom). Legally, it is a system of objective laws—rule of law as opposed to rule of man. Economically, when such freedom is applied to the sphere of production, a free-market results. Laissez-faire is an economic environment in which transactions between private parties are free from government restrictions, tariffs, and subsidies, with only enough regulations to protect property rights. The phrase laissez-faire is French and literally means “let [them] do,” but it broadly implies “let it be,” “let them do as they will,” or “leave it alone.” http://manilatimes.net/weighed‐measured‐and‐found‐wanting‐branding/58930/
GIR unlikely to meet $87 billion target – BSP December 8, 2013 6:45 pm by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO The country’s gross international reserves (GIR) is unlikely to meet the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) $87-billion target for this year. As of November 2013, the country’s foreign exchange reserves were recorded at $84.024 billion, $3 billion short from the $87 billion target. In a chance interview, BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said that the November level of GIR can be attributed mainly on the negative revaluation of the central bank’s gold holdings. The central bank said that the GIR inflows were partially offset by payments by the national government for its maturing foreign exchange obligations and revaluation adjustments on the BSP’s gold holdings. “It’s really the gold negative revaluation because the all the prices were down. The level of GIR could have been higher if not because of the negative revaluation of gold holdings,” he added. The international reserves are foreign assets that are readily available to and controlled by the central bank for direct financing of payments imbalances and for managing the magnitude of such imbalances. The reserves consist of holdings of gold, special drawing rights, foreign investments, and foreign exchange, including Reserve Position in the Fund. These assets are valued mark-to-market. Higher reserves help prop up the peso and keeps domestic inflation at bay. http://manilatimes.net/gir‐unlikely‐to‐meet‐87‐billion‐target‐bsp/58926/
DTI to exporters: Prepare for AEC 2015 integration December 8, 2013 6:44 pm by VOLT PALAÑA The Department of Trade Industry (DTI) has advised Philippine exporters to prepare and consider the opportunities offered by the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Economic Community by 2015. “Business, more than government, will drive regional integration,” DTI Undersecretary Ponciano Manalo Jr. said during last week’s National Export Congress held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City. He noted that it is businesses that will take advantage of the opportunities offered by a single market as well as the wide and varied complementation networks of a regional supply chain within Asean and its six free trade agreement (FTA) partners, namely, China, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India. “With the recent developments, we have seen a significant shift from the traditional markets to our neighboring countries in Asean,” Manalo said. For the last 20 years, the Philippine export market focused on United States, Europe, Japan and China. Manalo noted that Southeast Asia represents one of the biggest markets in the world with its more than 600 million young and dynamic population. It has a total aggregate gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.3 billion and an average per capita of $ 3,751. In 2012, total trade between the Philippines and Asean amounted to $24 billion, or 21 percent of the country’s total trade. In the same year, Asean accounted for 7.3 percent of total approved investments in the Philippines amounting to P21 billion, a significant seven-fold increase from P3 billion in 2011. “Asean is an important economic partner of the Philippines, both on the trade and investment fronts,” Manalo said.
Manalo noted that the DTI’s trade and investment promotion plans and programs are anchored on the Investment Priorities Plan (IPP) and the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP). “The Philippine Export Development Plan, our main trade policy document, underscores strategies consistent with the AEC, an important one of which is the unified industry development and international trade strategy framework, with industry competitiveness as its foundation,” Manalo added. For his part, Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) President Sergio OrtizLuis said that, “We are at the end of the implementation of the 2011-2013 phase of the PEDP. So far, we may be short of target but we project that we will end up in positive territory, given that electronic products are showing some recovery.” http://manilatimes.net/dti‐to‐exporters‐prepare‐for‐aec‐2015‐integration/58924/
Meralco 2014 capital expense may reach up to P15.6 billion December 8, 2013 6:44 pm by MADELAINE B. MIRAFLOR HONG KONG: The Manuel Pangilinan-led Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) has allocated as much as P15.6 billion for capital spending next year. Meralco President Oscar Reyes said in an interview with reporters that the company will extensively spend a higher amount of capex next year amid higher electricity demand. It was reported few days ago that Meralco’s 2014 capex would also be higher, although he initially said that it could be higher than P13 billion. But as of the latest, Reyes specified that the company’s capex will be P15.6 billion, higher than last year’s P10.8 billion, and 2012’s P10.3 billion. “[We are gearing up for] very heavy investments,” Reyes said, adding that the investments would involve efforts to grow Meralco’s number of accounts and end-user volume. Meralco is also anticipating potential big customers such as those that are building major developments in the Pagcor Entertainment City in Pasay, that would need bigger and more power supply. The group also mentioned previously its plan to grow its power generation portfolio. During the first nine months of the year, Meralco registered a thin improvement on its core net profit on the back of the volume of energy sold. The listed firm reported that its unaudited consolidated core net income, which excludes one-time, exceptional charges for the nine months ended September 30, 2013, amounted to P13.6 billion, up 5 percent year-on-year. Reyes told reporters during the same briefing that for full year 2013, Meralco is on track to hitting its P17-billion target profit, which will be higher than the P16.3 billion in 2012. http://manilatimes.net/meralco‐2014‐capital‐expense‐may‐reach‐up‐to‐p15‐6‐billion/58922/
Posted on December 08, 2013 11:02:03 PM
Country to benefit from landmark WTO deal FOOD SECURITY -- highlighted by the devastation caused by super typhoon Yolanda -- will become less of a concern, a Cabinet official said, with the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) signing of a landmark facilitation deal. “Overall, the Philippines will benefit from the Bali package,” Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo said in a text message. “Under the agriculture agreement, developing countries like the Philippines will be able to maintain and expand its public stockholding for food security free from WTO dispute,” Mr. Domingo added. “As for trade facilitation... provisions on transparency and streamlining procedures complement our government’s campaign to improve customs operations, allowing us flexibilities in compliance.” The WTO on Saturday reached its first ever trade reform deal on Saturday in Bali in talks that had dragged on to an extra day. “This time the entire membership came together. We have put the ‘world’ back in World Trade Organization,” WTO chief Roberto Azevedo said. “We’re back in business ... Bali is just the beginning.” The talks, which had opened on Tuesday, nearly came unstuck at the last minute when Cuba suddenly refused to accept a deal that would not help pry open the US embargo of the Caribbean island, forcing negotiations to drag into Saturday morning. Cuba later agreed on a compromise with the United States.
But there was skepticism how much had really been achieved. “Beyond papering over a serious dispute on food security, precious little progress was made at Bali,” said Simon Evenett, professor of international trade at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. The talks had begun under a cloud because of an insistence by India at the outset that it would only back an agreement if there was a compromise on food subsidies because of its massive program for stockpiling food to feed its poor. While India had insisted on a permanent exemption from the WTO rules, the final text aimed to recommend a permanent solution within four years. With the Philippines having been forced to import rice as government stocks were depleted in the wake of the Yolanda disaster, Mr. Domingo noted that the current limit of “10% of annual production value ... has been effectively suspended.” University of Asia and the Pacific economist George N. Manzano held the same view, noting: “The deal gives the Philippines more flexibility in terms of rice policy, which is important for developing countries like the Philippines.” “It will also speed up trade as products will not stay too long at customs,” he added. But for IBON Foundation executive director Jose Enrique A. Africa, the agreement is skewed in favor of developed economies. “The most important component of the approved Bali package reached is the agreement on trade facilitation which simplifies customs and other bureaucratic procedures to make trading easier,” he noted. “This deal supposedly makes it easier for underdeveloped countries to export to developed countries and vice versa. In practice, however, the deal is biased for the advanced countries who have much stronger production and
export capacities,” he added. “It will facilitate imports from developed countries to the Philippines rather than our exports to them and will further worsen the country’s trade balance. This only aggravates how much of supposed Philippine exports are really of foreign transnational corporations rather than by genuinely Filipino producers.” The stockpiling benefit, he claimed, is “less immediately relevant for the Philippines, which gives scant support to domestic farmers.” This point was supported by Agriculture Assistant Secretary Dante S. Delima, who declared: “Our problem is not about stockpiling. Our problem is we have insufficient funds to support farmers.” The Bali deal remains a milestone for the 159 WTO members as it marks the organization’s first global trade agreement since it was created in 1995. It also rescues the WTO from the brink of failure and will rekindle confidence in its ability to lower barriers to trade worldwide, after 12 years of fruitless negotiations. --from reports by Reuters and DEDS http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=TopStory&title=Country‐to‐benefit‐from‐ landmark‐WTO‐deal&id=80495
Posted on December 08, 2013 11:01:40 PM By Ann Rozainne R. Gregorio, Reporter
Rate adjustments unlikely MONETARY authorities will likely keep key rates at record lows during their last policy-setting meeting for the year, with economists polled byBusinessWorld noting that inflation remains manageable. All 11 analysts surveyed said the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) policymaking Monetary Board would likely keep overnight borrowing and lending rates at 3.5% and 5.5%, respectively, this Thursday, along with special deposit account rates that are at 2% across all tenors. Overnight rates have been at current levels since October last year amid a benign inflation environment. During its previous policy meeting last Oct. 24, the Monetary Board kept its 2013 inflation outlook at 3% but revised its forecasts for 2014 and 2015 to 4% and 3.4%, respectively, from 3.9% and 3.5%. Nine of the 11 economists expect the central bank to start tightening in the second half next year amid expectations of rising consumer prices, while the remaining two said rate hikes would only start in 2015. “Our view is that the BSP will keep rates where they are until mid-2014 given that inflation expectations are still within the band that they projected,” Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. research head Ildemarc C. Bautista said in an e-mail. “Even while inflation rates have been going up, their concern is not current inflation but forward expectations of it,” he added. Inflation rose to 3.3% in November -- a nine-month high -- from October’s 2.9% as food prices rose in the wake of super typhoon Yolanda. Year-todate inflation settled at 2.8%, below the BSP’s 3-5% target range and 3% forecast for the year.
Central bank Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. has said consumer prices would keep rising in the coming months due to Yolanda (international name Haiyan). Overall inflation, however, is still expected to settle within the central bank’s target range. DBS Bank, Ltd. economist Gundy Cahyadi, in a separate e-mail, said: “The BSP is likely to maintain a neutral stance for now, closely monitoring the inflation trend going forward while balancing it with also downside risks to growth due to the recent natural calamities.” Rate hikes, he said, will likely commence next year. Barclays economist Prakriti Sofat, meanwhile, said: “We continue to expect the BSP to look through supply-shock-driven rises in inflation.” “We expect the BSP to raise the policy rates by 25 basis points to 3.75%, in the third quarter of next year as inflation rises towards the top half of the 35% target band, given the lagged impact of relatively robust growth,” she added. Edward Teather, senior economist for ASEAN at UBS, on the other hand said: “We expect the BSP will leave policy unchanged into 2015.” “Accelerating inflation and reduced risks to global growth during 2014 may tempt the central bank to tighten monetary policy, but as inflation will still likely be in line with the target of 3-5%, we think it will hold off.” http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=TopStory&title=Rate‐adjustments‐ unlikely&id=80494 ]
Posted on December 08, 2013 08:25:26 PM
Philippines cited for microinsurance gains THE PHILIPPINES has the highest microinsurance coverage ratio in Asia and Oceania, with the industry advancing through product innovation, Munich Re said. Individuals with microinsurance coverage made up 21.3% of the total Philippine population, making for 19.9 million insured, the reinsurer said in “The Landscape of Microinsurance in Asia and Oceania 2013.” Thailand followed with 14%, or 9.3 million people, of its total population insured. India was the biggest microinsurance country in terms of coverage with 111.1 million insured individuals, but it only covered 9.2% of its total population. Product innovation in these regions opens more opportunities for microinsurance to expand, the briefing note said. “The countries in Asia and Oceania are varied in terms of size and development of their microinsurance sectors. However, even the small countries have started innovations which will eventually contribute to the advancement of the sector in a sophisticated way,” the note said. “The sector is characterized by a multiplicity of products and innovation. A substantial mosaic of products has been reported, ranging from traditional products... to more innovative ones, such as combined products like endowment, additional benefit insurance and index-based insurance.” Microinsurance for life and accident risks continue to dominate the market, the note said. A total of 83.9 million are covered by life insurance, while 77.8 million are insured against accidents.
Insurance Commissioner Emmanuel F. Dooc earlier said microinsurance continues to gain ground as more people now have higher disposable income that can be allotted to buy insurance. He added that insurers’ marketing efforts have boosted awareness, especially in the low-income sector, about the advantages of getting insured. -- Diana Jean B. Evite http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Finance&title=Philippines‐cited‐for‐ microinsurance‐gains&id=80451
Posted on December 08, 2013 08:23:43 PM
Peso seen to breach P44:$1 mark this week THE PESO could hit the P44 level against the dollar this week due to strong US job growth which could give the Federal Reserve more reason to start tapering its stimulus program this month. The local currency plunged to a three-month low of P43.97 a dollar on Friday, shedding 21 centavos from its P43.76-perdollar finish the week before. It was the peso’s weakest since Sept. 9 when it closed at P44.24 a dollar. “We should see a continuation of the peso’s weakening [because] the previous US data is strong,” a trader said in a phone interview. The peso took a nosedive on Friday following reports the US economy grew 3.6% in the third quarter, an upward revision from the initial reading of 2.8% last month. The number of Americans claiming unemployment benefits also dropped by 23,000 to 298,000 in the week ending Nov. 30. Feared to drag the peso further down is the non-farm payroll released late Friday, which recorded 203,000 new jobs in November, far beating the market forecast of 180,000. An increase in the non-farm payroll could create risk appetite for the dollar, another trader said. In an e-mail, Dennis D. Toraldo, MetisEtrade Inc. currency strategist, agreed: “Better-than-expected readings would probably have a bullish effect on the dollar as they would imply that the economy is stable enough to withstand tapering from the Fed.” In their last meeting, Federal Reserve officials announced they would
continue the central bank’s monthly asset purchase program, but said they could taper should more data show signs of sustained economic growth. The non-farm payroll capped last week’s spate of positive economic data out of the United States which made the peso lose almost 32 centavos from its P43.655-per-dollar close on Monday. In a research note, BPI Asset Management added: “The movement of the local currency will continue depend on US economic data releases, which would help determine the Fed’s plans on a possible early [quantitative easing] tapering during its December 17-18 [policy] meeting.” Economic data to be released this week include November retail sales and business inventories. Overall retail sales rose 0.4% in October from being flat in September. Business inventories, on the other hand, grew 0.6% in September from 0.4% in August. The peso is seen to trade to the dollar within the P43.60-P44.30 range this week. --Diana Jean B. Evite http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Finance&title=Peso‐seen‐to‐breach‐ P44:$1‐mark‐this‐week‐&id=80450
Posted on December 08, 2013 11:08:42 PM
Disqualified firms mull options TWO BIDDERS which failed the technical test for a public-private partnership (PPP) project to modernize Metro Manila’s railway ticketing system have not given up, with one of them saying it hopes to appeal the Transportation department’s decision, officials of the affected companies said over the weekend. COMMUTERS alight at a Quezon City station from a train of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 in this file photo taken on Aug. 26, 2011. -- BW file photo Representatives of Megawide-Suyen-Eurolink Consortium and E-Trans Solutions Joint Venture, Inc. were taken out of the competition after the department chose three out of the five bidders to proceed to the financial evaluation stage. Opening of financial bids has been scheduled for today. “Hopefully we can appeal,” Megawide Construction Corp. Chief Marketing Officer Louie B. Ferrer said in a text message. In a separate text message, Conrad S. Tolentino, counsel for E-Trans, said: “E-Trans will exhaust all opportunities provided by the DoTC (Department of Transportation and Communications) so that E-Trans proposal may be considered by the department.” E-Trans Solutions is led by Tera Investments, Inc. and East West Banking Corp. The department on Saturday announced that three groups -- Sy-led SM Consortium, AF Consortium of Ayala and Metro Pacific groups, and Berjayaled Comworks Consortium -- passed the technical evaluation for the P1.72billion Automated Fare Collection System (AFCS). The five prequalified bidders submitted their financial and technical proposals last Nov. 18.
According to the Transportation department, E-Trans’ technical proposal was deficient in terms of details on project implementation, while its business plan “did not follow projection computations contained in the draft concession agreement,” among others. Megawide-Suyen-Eurolink’s business plan “was found to be incomplete and inconsistent.” “It did not contain the required project internal rate of return, making it impossible to evaluate the project’s feasibility,” the Transportation department said in a statement, citing other deficiencies. “Since the disqualified groups failed to meet the project’s technical requirements, their financial proposals will no longer be opened,” the department added. The department is expected to announce the lowest financial bid today, but this will still undergo post-bidding evaluation. “We have been speeding up the process. At the rate we are going, we should be able to award the contract by January 2014,” Michael Arthur C. Sagcal, spokesperson for the Transportation department, said in the statement. Targeted to be operational by 2015, the AFCS aims to unify and upgrade the ticketing system for Light Rail Transit Lines 1 and 2 and Metro Rail Transit Line 3. Envisioned to be like Hong Kong’s “Octopus Card,” the AFCS payment scheme could be expanded into other modes of transportation as well as retail. The AFCS is the first PPP project participated by E-Trans group while Megawide is an active participant in the government’s flagship infrastructure project. Megawide last October bagged two of the five contracts under the P8.8billion PPP for School Infrastructure Project (PSIP) Phase II.
Its consortium with Citicore Holdings Investment, Inc. was one of two groups that last year won the P16.42-billion PSIP Phase I. The company, in the partnership with World Citi, Inc., also emerged as the lone bidder for the P5.70-billion project for the construction and operation and maintenance of the Philippine Orthopedic Center. The consortium awaits a notice of award from the Health department after the project was cleared by National Economic and Development Authority Board last month. The same company’s consortium with India-based GMR Infrastructure Ltd. submitted a bid last Nov. 28 for the P17.5-billion project to expand and operate Mactan-Cebu International Airport. -- Cliff Harvey C. Venzon http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Corporate&title=Disqualified‐firms‐mull‐ options&id=80498
Posted on December 08, 2013 11:05:49 PM
Angat dam rehab begins next year REHABILITATION of Angat dam in Bulacan is expected to start next year, with Korea Water Resources Corp. (K-water) taking the lead in the project. An official of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) said rehabilitation is expected to commence after the turnover of the privatized portion of the 246-megawatt (MW) Angat hydroelectric power plant (HEPP) to K-water. “Under the Angat HEPP O&M (operation and maintenance) agreement, Kwater has the obligation to perform the mandatory rehabilitation activities to make Angat dam and its related facilities conform to… international standards,” PSALM President Emmanuel R. Ledesma, Jr. said in a text message on Wednesday last week. He added that turnover of the 218-MW segment of the facility to the Korean firm is expected by early next year. K-water is the firm that bagged the contract to own and operate the 218-MW privatized segment of the 246-MW Angat HEPP in Bulacan, which sources its water requirements from the dam. Mr. Ledesma said that a study on the Angat Dam and Dyke Strengthening Project -- which was estimated to cost some P5.7 billion -- was undertaken even before PSALM awarded the contract to K-water. He added that K-water may adopt recommendations of the study though it can also conduct its own study for final project design. “K-Water under the O&M agreement for the non-power components, however, can engage the services of at least two independent consultants to conduct its own study,” the Mr. Ledesma said.
Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Administrator Gerardo A.I. Esquivel said in a separate interview on Friday that the government hopes rehabilitation will start next year. “Angat dam and dyke rehabilitation is one of the key infrastructure projects of the government which we’re hoping will start next year through K-water,” Mr. Esquivel said. The official said this came after MWSS, PSALM, National Power Corp., Kwater, and the local government of Bulacan met last Nov. 20 to facilitate implementation of the proposed strengthening and rehabilitation of Angat dam. “We’re finalizing our timelines, but K-water is working on it already. They made a physical model of the Angat dam in their laboratory in Korea,” Mr. Esquivel noted. He said the scale model of the dam should be completed by yearend, after which K-water will proceed with analysis and interpretation of data which in turn should be completed by March 2014. “We already gave them a Tonkin and Taylor study. So using this study and their laboratory and whatever independent studies they have, then we’re ready to proceed with the project,” Mr. Esquivel said. “So we hope in the middle of next year, they (K-water) already have an actual method that will be used in the rehabilitation and the project will already start by then,” he added. The dam supplies about 90% of the water needs of Metro Manila and nearby provinces. “This planned remediation is the first since the Angat Dam’s commissioning in 1968. The project was formulated based on a study as it aims to ensure the safety of the Angat Dam from the impact of natural calamities,” read a fact sheet on the project.
“More specifically, the project aims to conduct rehabilitation works on the main dam and dyke through establishment of contingency measures and the formulation of long-term strengthening and stabilization schemes,” it added. Both design and construction phases of the project are expected to run for some 42 months. The 246-MW Angat power plant and Angat dam are located in Norzagaray, Bulacan. The plant is composed of four 50-MW main units and five auxiliaries with a total capacity of 46 MW. MWSS owns two of the auxiliary units with a total capacity of 28 MW which were excluded from sale conducted by PSALM which K-water won with a $440.8-million bid. But MWSS last month said it was looking to sell the remaining unprivatized turbines to K-water as well so that there will be only one power plant operator. Should those negotiations succeed, the P1.16-billion project to operate, rehabilitate and maintain auxiliary turbines will be removed from the government’s public-private partnership program. -- Claire-Ann Marie C. Feliciano http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Corporate&title=Angat‐dam‐rehab‐ begins‐next‐year&id=80497
Posted on December 08, 2013 11:03:57 PM
Power distributor hikes budget for next year MANILA ELECTRIC Co. (Meralco) has increased its planned capital expenditures (capex) for next year, a top company official told reporters in Hong Kong on Friday, citing the need to meet an expected increase in demand. LINEMEN of Manila Electric Co. restore electricity supply to a slum in Manila that was hit by a fire in this photo taken on Sept. 1, 2008. -- AFP “We are looking at a capex of P15.6 billion in 2014. Its higher now compared to the previous announcement,” Meralco President and Chief Executive Officer Oscar S. Reyes said in a briefing on updates on Metro Pacific Investments Corp. He attributed the capex hike mainly to the expected addition of big-volume customers. “We’ve got new projects such as PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.) City,” Mr. Reyes noted. “A number of them are expected to go online next year or in 2015.” Touted as the Philippines’ answer to Macau, the Bagong Nayong Pilipino Entertainment City in Parañaque will feature four hotel and gaming complexes. Its locators are Enrique K. Razon-led Bloomberry Resorts Corp., which opened Solaire Resorts & Casino last March; SM Group and Melco Crown (Philippines) Resorts Corp., which will open City of Dreams Manila next year; Universal Entertainment Group, which will open Manila Bay Resort & Casino in 2015; and Travellers International Hotel Group, Inc., which plans to open Resorts World Bayshore in 2016.
“Secondly, we are seeing industrial estates that have run out of space and are expanding. New zones are being developed.” Just last month, Mr. Reyes announced that the company had programmed some P13.5 billion for capex next year, mainly to accommodate an expected increase in customers and to improve distribution services. Meralco distributes electricity in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite and Rizal, as well as parts of Batangas, Laguna, Quezon and Pampanga. Through Clark Electric Distribution Corp., the company also provides electricity to more than 1,000 industrial customers in Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga. The company’s net income slipped to P13.644 billion as of September from P13.646 billion in the same nine months last year. Revenues sank 3.1% to P208.097 billion from P214.749 billion, while costs and expenses fell 5.4% to P188.672 billion from P199.410 billion. Its shares gained 1.81% or P4.80 to close at P270 apiece on Friday last week from P265.20 each last Thursday. - LCSM http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Corporate&title=Power‐distributor‐hikes‐ budget‐for‐next‐year&id=80496 Posted on December 08, 2013 10:17:29 PM
Air talks with three countries set THE GOVERNMENT seeks to expand the country’s air service agreements with three countries in the first quarter of next year, a senior regulator said. The country has scheduled air talks with France, Singapore and New Zealand for the first quarter of 2014. -- BW File Photo The Philippine air panel is scheduled to hold talks with France, Singapore and New Zealand in January, February and March, respectively, Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) Executive Director Carmelo L. Arcilla told BusinessWorld in a phone interview. “We have yet to confirm an exact date for the talks in France, but it’s scheduled in January,” Mr. Arcilla said. “Air service talks with Singapore is scheduled on 5-6 of February and with New Zealand on 5-6 of March,” he added. The regulator said that the Philippines is allowed to fly to France once a week, as stated in the 1969 contract. But, currently, no local airline nor French carrier flies directly between the countries. The current traffic, Mr. Arcilla explained, is formed with connecting flights. “Europe is a big market, and we want to resume flying to it to reestablish the links between us and them,” he said. As for Singapore, Mr. Arcilla said that the neighboring country “is a major market for us. In terms of seats, Singapore is one of the biggest.” The Philippines currently has 43,487 seat entitlements from Singapore.
“[These are] fully utilized, so we want to expand our seat entitlements there,” Mr. Arcilla said. Last year, the Philippine air panel failed to secure additional seat entitlements from Singapore due to unresolved “substantive and operational issues.” Regarding New Zealand, Mr. Arcilla acknowledged that it is a small market, but local airlines have expressed their willingness and confidence to develop. “The parties want to talk, so we can look at the possibility of enhancing a more open grant of rights,” he said. In September, the Philippine air panel successfully bagged 14 weekly flight entitlements from Italy. -- Lorenz Christoffer S. Marasigan http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Air‐talks‐with‐three‐ countries‐set&id=80485
Posted on December 08, 2013 10:16:51 PM
Subsidies drop 77% SUBSIDIES to state firms fell 77% year on year in October as public spending remained almost unchanged. Data from the Bureau of the Treasury showed that the government released a total of P507 million to government-owned or -- controlled institutions that month, 77% less than the P2.158 billion disbursed in the same period last year. The Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. received the largest subsidy at P314 million, followed by the Philippine Coconut Authority with P171 million. The Philippine Heart Center received funds amounting to P16 million, while the Philippine Institute for Development Studies and the Development Academy of the Philippines were given P4 million and P2 million, respectively. For the ten months to October, the government gave state firms P35.907 billion, 78.90% more than the P20.071 billion released in the same period last year. Public spending was flat in October at P145.546 billion from P145.984 billion last year. Year to date, total disbursements totaled P1.513 trillion. The government still needs to spend P467 billion to meet its P1.98-trillion spending target for 2013. -- Diana Jean B. Evite http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Subsidies‐drop‐ 77%&id=80484
Posted on December 08, 2013 10:16:30 PM
Bicameral meeting on 2014 budget tomorrow
CONGRESS is set to hold a bicameral conference committee meeting tomorrow to harmonize conflicting provisions in the proposed 2014 spending plan. “The bicameral conference for the 2014 national budget will be on December 10, 2013, 9 a.m. at the Recto room of the Philippine Senate,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Francis Joseph “Chiz” G. Escudero said in a statement last Thursday. “The meeting is open to public,” Mr. Escudero added in the same statement. In previous years, the hearings were closed-door meetings between members of the House Appropriations Committee and Senate Finance Committee. Earlier, organizers of the Million People March put up an online petition for the debates to be open through TV coverage and a live online stream. “Unlike the hearings in the Congress and Senate, they have always closed the doors on the public and conducted these ‘bicam talks’ in secret. This is the public’s money, and there is no reason or law that prohibits these meetings from being conducted in the open where horse trading between both [the Senate and the House] will be monitored,” Patricia Tan, spokesperson of the Scrap Pork Network, said in the petition, posted onChange.org. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Isidro T. Ungab, in a text message toBusinessWorld yesterday, said that there is nothing wrong with the request: “I have already said this many times; we don’t see any problem
opening the bicam to the public.” Earlier, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. said that he was also amenable to the idea of opening the bicameral talks to the public but pointed out that Mr. Ungab and Mr. Escudero would make the final decision. Late last month, the Senate approved the proposed P2.268-trillion spending plan for 2014, P3.2 billion less than the version passed in the House of Representatives on Oct. 22. The deduction represents allocations for the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) given up by 15 senators as well as the P200-million discretionary fund that Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay requested to be slashed from his own budget. Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) declared PDAF or “pork barrel” unconstitutional. The Senate-approved budget bill for 2014 also includes a P100-billion reconstruction and rehabilitation fund for areas hit by recent calamities, including super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), which severely hit the central Philippines. Both Mr. Belmonte and Senate President Franklin M. Drilon earlier expressed optimism that there will be no problem or deadlock during the bicameral talks. Mr. Ungab, in a separate text message yesterday, said that he, too, does not expect difficulties at the meeting. “Both House and Senate staff are working overtime to finish the inputs for the bicameral conference committee. They are actually almost done and could finish it by Monday so we can proceed with the bicameral conference meeting on Tuesday, December 10,” he said. After the bicameral talks, a committee report -- a consolidated form of the House and Senate’s respective approved bills -- will be returned to both chambers to be ratified separately, before it is transmitted to the Office of
the President for signature. Mr. Ungab said in another text message that Congress aims to transmit the proposed 2014 spending plan to President Benigno S. C. Aquino III “on December 23,” for signature and approval before the year ends. Mr. Belmonte yesterday said: “I’m sure we will approve the budget before we adjourn.” Both chambers of Congress will be on recess from Dec. 21 to Jan. 19 for the Christmas season. -- I. C. C. Delavin http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Bicameral‐meeting‐on‐ 2014‐budget‐tomorrow&id=80483
Auto allotment for 2014 given to DAP funds source • •
Written by Chito Lozada Monday, 09 December 2013 00:00
CONDITIONS REMOVED FOR UNPROGRAMMED FUND
The lump sum under President Aquino’s discretion called Unprogrammed Fund, which is among the sources of the controversial P157-billion Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), has been allotted P140 billion under the budget for next year but which is not actually included as a budget item, based on Department of Budget and Management (DBM) records. Instead it is listed as an obligation in the budget for next year but the fund for which was assured through a “ready appropriations cover” supposedly agreed between the Palace and Congress. According to the DBM, the Unprogrammed Funds “can be tapped when government has windfall revenue collections, such as unexpected remittance of dividends from the government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) and Government Financial Institutions (GFIs), and sale of government assets. Further, the DBM added the Unprogrammed Fund is standby Appropriation authorized by Congress in the annual general appropriations act which may be availed of “only”
when any of the following instances occur: revenue collections exceed the original targets in the Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing (BESF) submitted by the President to Congress; new revenues are collected or realized from sources not originally considered in the BESF submitted by the President to Congress; or newlyapproved loans for foreign-assisted projects are secured or when conditions are triggered for other sources of funds such as perfected loan agreements for foreign assisted projects. It cited a 2011 law, Republic Act 10147 which has special provisions on the Unprogrammed Funds that stated “The amounts authorized herein shall be released only when the revenue collections exceed the original revenue targets submitted by the President of the Philippines to Congress pursuant to Sec. 22, Art. VII of the Constitution, including savings generated from programmed appropriations for the year: Provided, That collections arising from sources not considered in the aforesaid original revenue targets may be used to cover releases from appropriations in this Fund: Provided, Further, That in case of newly approved loans for foreign-assisted projects, the existence of a perfected loan agreement for the purpose shall be sufficient basis for the issuance of a special allotment release order (SARO) covering the loan proceeds. The DBM, however, said in a footnote on the allocation of P140 billion Unprogrammed Fund for next year, said the appropriation for it will not be contingent on the three conditions provided under the law and it will be definitely funded. “Congress deemed it proper to provide ready appropriations cover for such amounts under the Unprogrammed Fund so as not to delay implementation of programs or projects authorized therein once new or additional revenues sources are realized during the budget year,” it said. It added “for FY (fiscal year) 2014, for example, as the funding sources for the P139.9 billion Unprogrammed Funds are not included in the BESF submitted by the President to Congress, it is not part of the P2.268 trillion proposed FY 2014 National Budget,
which is the sum of new programmed appropriations for departments and SPFs, and automatic appropriations.” An accompanying finacial statement on how Unprogrammed Funds are treated showed that it will be taken from the general fund listed as obligations under the budget for next year. The records showed that the Unprogrammed Funds will be used for budgetary support for GOCCs, P36.3 million; support to foreign-assisted projects, P16.12 billion; general fund adjustments, P1 billion; support for infrastructure projects and social programs, P56.35 billion; Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization program, P10.9 billion; debt management program, P25 billion; risk management program, P30 billion and People’s Survival Fund, P500 million. During the oral arguments the Supreme Court held as part of its deliberations on complaints filed against the DAP branding it as going against the Constitution, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza defended the use of the Unprogrammed Funds in the assailed DAP saying the funds “provide flexibility to the Executive to use additional funds brought about by good fiscal management or some contingent event, without need of returning to Congress to obtain authorization to spend such funds.” “In other words, Congress authorized in advance, through the GAA, the expenditure of these additional funds which were not contemplated when the GAA was enacted,” Jardeleza said. “As a funding source for the DAP, the Unprogrammed Fund is used to finance DAPidentified programs, activities and projects. There is nothing unconstitutional here so long as the expenditures fall within the statutorily-defined purposes of the Unprogrammed Fund under any of the relevant GAAs,” he added. Former Budget Secretary UP School of Economics professor termed the use of the Unprogrammed Fund for DAP as a mystery since its nature is a contingent appropriation, and not part of the programmed appropriation. “It may be used only when the revenue collections exceeded the original revenue
targets submitted by the President, including savings from programmed appropriations for the year,” according to Diokno. He said in 2011, as in previous years, however, actual revenue collections did not exceed the original target. The original revenue target was P1,410,000,000 while actual collections was P1,359,942,000 yet the Unprogrammed Fund still started to become a source of lump sums for Aquino. He said some components of total revenues such as collections of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) may be higher than target but what could trigger the use of Unprogrammed Fund is not the excess of actual against target collections for a specific tax or non-tax source. Rather, it is the excess of total against target collections. “That’s elementary,” he said. http://www.tribune.net.ph/headlines/auto‐allotment‐for‐2014‐given‐to‐dap‐funds‐source
Use Malampaya Fund as buffer for high power bills — Osmeña • •
Written by Angie M. Rosales Monday, 09 December 2013 00:00
Since the Supreme Court had ruled that funds raised from government royalties in the lucrative natural gas project off Palawan or the so-called Malampaya Fund can only be used exclusively for energy-related projects, Malacañang can use them instead as buffer for the spike in electricity costs this month as a result of the shutdown of the Malampaya plant for maintenance from Nov. 11 to Dec. 10, Sen. Sergio Osmeña III said yesterday. The Malampaya Fund can be used to help cushion the impact of the estimated P10 billion in additional generation costs to household consumers in Metro Manila and neighboring areas for two months in the light of an increase in the generation charge of the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), he said. Osmeña issued the proposal in the wake of the mounting public protestation over the impending power rate hike. Osmeña, chairman of the Senate energy committee and co-chairman of the Joint Congressional Power Commission (JCPC), said President Aquino could tap the more
than P130 billion balance in Malampaya funds to cover the P4.15 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) increase in the generation charge of Meralco. “The Malampaya Fund has gotten very fat. It is time that it is used to ease the burden of power consumers,” Osmeña said. The senator has for years proposed that government lower the royalty collected on the Malampaya gas to lower power rates. “It is better to spend the Malampaya Fund to subsidize power rate hikes rather than lose it to Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scams,” Osmeña added, noting reports that hundreds of millions of pesos in Malampaya collections have reportedly been diverted to unscrupulous and even non-existent non-government organizations (NGOs) supposedly with the connivance of government officials and lawmakers. “If the law establishing the Fund (Presidential Decree No. 910) has to be amended, we can do that in two weeks. All the President has to do is to certify the bill for prioritization,” he said. Meralco has announced a total increase of P4.15 per kilowatthour (kwh) including transmission charges, value added tax (VAT), local franchise tax and system losses in its generation charge this December following the shutdown of the Malampaya natural gas plant. The Malampaya facility fuels three power plants in Luzon, which use the natural gas extracted in offshore Palawan. It has a combined output of 2,700 megawatts, the bulk of which is under contract with Meralco. The increase would jack up Meralco’s generation charge to over P9 kWh in December from P5.66 kWh in November. With the projected generation charge adjustment, a Meralco customer with a monthly average use of 200 kilowatt-hours currently paying P2,000 per month, will now pay P2,830 per month, or a monthly increase of P830 in the electricity bill. The government has been sending mixed signals over the surge in electricity rates with
the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) saying it will review the increase in Meralco charges in contast to the statement of Energy Secretary Carlos Petilla that the increase has been agreed under the power sales agreement (PSA) signed by the country’s largest power distributor with three power producers and does not need state review. He said these three power producers are providing Meralco a total of 2,700 megawatts capacity. He said the power producers source its gas from the Malampaya oil-to-gas project at offshore Palawan. He explained that under the PSAs signed by Meralco with the power producers if the latter cannot source power from Malampaya in certain instances such as temporary shutdown these will use diesel to run their plants. Price of diesel is way higher than fuel that comes from the Malampaya project, thus, the higher rate although there was no agreed price hike level. Petilla explained that the PSAs have been approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). “That is the reason why there is no need to apply for a rate hike. That has been previously approved,” he said. Petilla said he has asked Meralco for a “blended” price since the three power producers he did not identify are not the only sources of capacity of the distributor. He said Meralco and ERC are scheduled to have a meeting on Monday to finalize how the rate hike will be implemented. Reports quoting Meralco president and CEO Oscar Reyes said the rate hike will be done on a staggered basis or from December to February. The Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) of the Philippines earlier raised the high cost of electricity in the country as among the hurdles to business in creating an average of 500,000 jobs a year or a total of four million jobs from 2015 to 2022. JFC said concrete action from the government is crucial to start the initiative of boosting the manufacturing sector in order to achieve inclusive growth through employment.
Among the policy issues that needed reforms are electricity costs and power reliability, land transport infrastructure, land ownership, maritime infrastructure, labor policy, human capital, red tape, weak planning, smuggling and tax policy. The group of foreign chambers asked the government to attract more investments in energy to build more baseload plants and implement open access; introducing more competition by allowing foreign firms majority ownership in power distribution; and the temporary suspension of value-added tax (VAT) on electricity for manufacturers. http://www.tribune.net.ph/headlines/use‐malampaya‐fund‐as‐buffer‐for‐high‐power‐bills‐ osmena
Noy backpedals on Leviste, says parole to be reviewed • •
Written by Paul Atienza Monday, 09 December 2013 00:00
The Palace did a complete turnaround yesterday on its sentiment regarding the parole given to convicted former Batangas Gov. Jose Antonio Leviste after his release from prison generated public outrage with President Aquino raising the possibility that his release could be revoked. Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Aquino wanted the circumstances behind Leviste’s inclusion in the list of parolees submitted to the Department of Justice (DoJ) while at the same time seeking an explanation from Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on the approval of the parole. Just the other day, Coloma also cleared the parole given to Leviste, saying his release met all qualifications required in the grant of the privilege as confirmed by De Lima. Coloma said on radio no administrative or legal obstacles barred Leviste’s parole after the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) dismissed a case filed against him on violating his prison sentence after he was leaving the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) compound where he is detained in three times in 2011. “The Makati RTC dismissed the case. That issue has been resolved,” Coloma said. Coloma yesterday, however, said Aquino was not happy with the release of Leviste. “I am not happy with the decision and I am having the whole matter investigated,” Coloma said quoting Aquino. Coloma added that Aquino ordered to review the resolution of the members of the Board of Pardons and Parole in arriving at the conclusion to grant Leviste a parole.
“The President want the decision of the Parole Board reviewed on the matter of giving parole to former governor Antonio Leviste,” Coloma said. Under the Constitution, Aquino has the power to exercise giving a Presidential pardon to criminal convicts which is the only other case aside from the granting of parole when convicts can be released. Coloma did say if Aquino was kept in the dark by the officials of the Board of Pardons and Parole on Leviste by not giving him the list of those to be granted clemency. Coloma neither also refused to say whether or not Aquino intends to exercise his power of executive pardon this December in celebration of Christmas. “Let’s just wait. The Office of the President has to issue statement about that. We do not want to engage to speculation,” Coloma said. The Board of Pardons and Parole has the power to review the records of all inmates who have served sentence at the maximum security compound, and whose sentence is life imprisonment. It is a common knowledge that inmates who have no connections nor money are not usually included in the parole list that is submitted to the President, through the Secretary of Justice, for final approval. Leviste was granted parole along with 33 other inmates’ by the Parole and Probation Administration (PPA). PPA Administrator Manuel Co said that Leviste and the 33 others have been allowed to be released on parole because they have already served the minimum penalty imposed on them. He stressed that parolees have to comply with several conditions otherwise they will have to return to prison and serve the remaining portion of the maximum sentence. He added that the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) also has a positive recommendation for Leviste who was actively participating in BuCor’s reform program. De Lima on Friday said that Leviste has met all the requirements to be entitled for parole. De Lima added that even the family of his victim did not object on his application.
Co added that Leviste’s old age, 73, was also a consideration for the parole making him “no longer a threat to the community.” In addition, the family of de las Alas did not object to the parole. Coloma said the Palace will respect, follow, and participate in all legal processes should anyone question the parole in court. – http://www.tribune.net.ph/headlines/noy‐backpedals‐on‐leviste‐says‐parole‐to‐be‐reviewed
Malaysia seeking RP crude rubber, other aggie goods • •
Written by Ed Velasco Monday, 09 December 2013 00:00
Philippine businesses are encouraged to take advantage of lucrative export opportunities, especially those offered to supply agricultural goods, to increase trade with Malaysia. Har Man Ahmad, Trade Commissioner of Malaysia External Trade Development Corp. (Matrade), said Malaysia’s imports of agricultural and processed food products and crude rubber from the Philippines remained low. In a report obtained by the Daily Tribune, the Malaysian official said shipments are still dominated by electrical and electronic products which comprise more than half of Malaysia’s total major imports from the country. “I think the crude rubber can be developed into one of the major export products to Malaysia. Only a portion of the rubber plantations are in the southern part of Malaysia and our technology is very far advanced so we still need more supply of crude rubber,” he said. Other products that the Philippines can export to Malaysia include processed food; refined petroleum products; chemical products; manufactures of metal; and machinery, appliances and parts. He pointed out that the Philippines is Malaysia’s 19th import source, with purchases amounting to $1.55 billion in 2012 and the 17th largest export destination with sales of $3.39 billion last year. “(Philippines) as an import source, not much, it depreciated a bit from a year before. But there are still a lot of areas where we can further develop the bilateral trade,” he added. Ahmad also underscored the business opportunities offered by agriculture products, particularly mango- and pineapple-based goods from the Philippines. He said the Philippines and Malaysia can also explore business opportunities in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector. “We look at the Philippines because we have a very limited talent and the cost of doing business is getting higher. So the best way is to have it established here or we outsource from a local Filipino company by using the local talent which is being recognized as one of the talented (manpower) in terms of the ICT industries,” he said. http://www.tribune.net.ph/business/malaysia‐seeking‐rp‐crude‐rubber‐other‐aggie‐goods
BSP silent on rate cut foreseen by local banks • •
Written by Ed Velasco Monday, 09 December 2013 00:00
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) doesn’t want to give a hint if there will be another rate cut when the Monetary Board (MB), its policy making body, meets for the last time this year on Dec. 12. Many bodies, led by several think tanks and banks, predicted there will be another rate cut for borrowing and lending rates as market forces suggest doing so is the best at this time when the local economy is doing well compared to other markets in the world. “(It) will depend on MB. Last meeting is on Dec. 12,” deputy governor for monetary stability sector Diwa Guinigundo told the Daily Tribune. Borrowing and lending rates are nailed at 3.5 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively. The numbers are unchanged for several months as monetary authorities think these are perfect, especially for small and medium enterprises which account for 80 percent of all businesses in the Philippines. Guinigundo said as early September there is no much room to change the prevailing rates unless there are unforeseen events that require for such movement. Interest rate is the additional amount that a borrower needs to pay the creditor depending on the tenor of the debts. Interest rate targets are a vital tool of monetary policy and are taken into account when dealing with variables like investment, inflation and unemployment. The money released from the special deposit account (SDA) facility of the BSP remains a threat for assets bubble but the Bankers Association of the Philippines time deposits and unit investment trust funds are enough to accommodate the estimated P1.6 trillion
SDA deposits released to the market. The central banks of countries generally tend to reduce interest rates when they wish to increase investment and consumption in the country’s economy. The MB tackles interest rates every six weeks. The seven-man board last tackled the rates Oct. 31 and decided to keep the rates unchanged, saying macroeconomic fundamentals suggest there’s no change to lower or increase it. http://www.tribune.net.ph/business/bsp‐silent‐on‐rate‐cut‐foreseen‐by‐local‐banks
Jollibee Mobile Kitchen curbing hunger in Leyte • •
Written by Tribune Monday, 09 December 2013 00:00
Armando Alfar is one of the thousand beneficiaries of the Mobile Kitchen of Jollibee Group FoodAID roving in different locations in Leyte since Nov. 20. The Mobile Kitchen is part of Jollibee Foods Corp. (JFC) and the Jollibee Group Foundation’s (JGF) Jollibee Group FoodAID to help address the issue of hunger in the province, a major concern after the devastation of super typhoon “Yolanda.” The Mobile Kitchen also addresses the immediate problem in the communities and evacuation centers where there are limitations on how to use uncooked food donations. JFC’s corporate supply chain, Zenith Foods Corp., as well as franchisees and local partners facilitate and help out to bring the food served in the Mobile Kitchen to the beneficiaries. As of Dec. 4, more than 32,000 beneficiaries have been served “hot lugaw and boiled egg” in different hospitals and evacuation centers in Ormoc City and Palo, Leyte. “We’re very happy we have porridge from Jollibee, this is a big help especially now that my husband doesn’t have any source of living,” said Arlene Pasturan, mother of five kids from Ormoc, Leyte. The Mobile Kitchen is primarily supervised by JFC — from the preparation of the food ingredients, to the set-up of the cooking equipment on the sites, to the actual distribution of the food to the beneficiaries. At the same time, JFC also shares the processes of the Mobile Kitchen to the community to ensure sustainability of the project. “The Mobile Kitchen setup is like JGF’s Busog, Lusog, Talino (BLT) School Feeding Program where parents are taught to cook so that they can apply and continue this even beyond JFC’s assistance,” JGF president Grace Tan Caktiong said. JFC will be turning over all the cooking equipment and tools as well as premix ingredients of the lugaw to the local authorities and civic partners for continuation of the Mobile Kitchen. Aside from the Mobile Kitchen, JFC and JGF continue to distribute JFC products and food relief packs through Jollibee Group FoodAID program to severely devastated families in the Visayas. http://www.tribune.net.ph/business/jollibee‐mobile‐kitchen‐curbing‐hunger‐in‐leyte
Firm offers new hiring process • • •
Written by Tribune Monday, 09 December 2013 00:00 font size decrease font size increase font size
Kalibrr, a cloud-based startup software company, prepares its entry into the Philippine business process outsourcing market after having raised $1.9 million (P83 million) from global investors Omidyar Network, Siemer Ventures, Learn Capital, Kickstart Ventures and several other angel investors. Paul Rivera, co-founder and CEO of Kalibrr said the amount will be used primarily to launch their recruitment, assessment, and talent management platform which will revolutionize how jobseekers and employers connect. “Kalibrr has been identified as a promising company. We aim to become one of the fastest growing cloud-based software companies in the Philippines in terms of revenue, and to become the industry-wide standard for assessment and recruitment software. That is why we are thankful to our investors for having faith in what we do,” Rivera said. Helping Kalibrr realize its dreams are: Omidyar Network (http://www.omidyar.com/), established by E-Bay founder Pierre Omidyar, which invests in market-based efforts that catalyze economic and social change; Siemer Ventures (http://www.siemer.com/), an early stage venture capital firm that seeks motivated entrepreneurs who build technology-related businesses; Learn Capital (www.learncapital.com) which funds companies that seek to revolutionize the way the world learns; and Kickstart Ventures (http://www.kickstart.ph/), an accelerator-incubator company owned by Globe Telecom that helps startups operating in the Philippines to build robust businesses and technical foundations, and to scale. http://www.tribune.net.ph/business/firm‐offers‐new‐hiring‐process
Impeachment vs SC justices ‘di susuportahan sa Kamara (Boyet Jadulco) 1 Diniskaril ni House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte ang plano ng isang kongresistang kaalyado ng administrasyon na itulak ang impeachment ng ilang mahistrado ng Supreme Court (SC). Nanindigan si Belmonte na hindi niya masusuportahan ang inisyatiba ni Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynalo Umali, miyembro ng ruling Liberal Party (LP), na sampahan ng impeachment case ang hindi pinangalanang justices ng SC dahil sa “despotism”. “Not likely. I certainly do not support it,” diin ng Speaker. Ipinaliwanag ng lider ng Kamara na walang impeachable offense na ginawa ang High Court nang ideklara nilang ilegal ang Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) ng mga mambabatas at ang pagdiskuwalipika kay Regina Reyes bilang kinatawan ng Marinduque sa Kamara. “We may feel bad about the decision, may disagree with it, but that’s not a ground for impeachment,” katuwiran ni Belmonte. Nitong nagdaang linggo ay sinabi ni Umali na ginagapang na niya ang 1/3 miyembro ng kapulungan o katumbas na 99 kongresista, upang sa gayon ay dumiretso na sa Senado ang impeachment case sa ilang SC justices.
Pag-exit ng 3 gabinete lalong umugong (Bernard Taguinod) Lalong umugong ang nakatakdang pagkalas ng tatlong miyembro ng gabinete ni Pangulong Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III matapos ang tila pagboykot ng mga ito sa taunang presidential dinner with the press noong Biyernes. Sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon simula nang maging Pangulo si Aquino noong 2010, noong Biyernes lamang hindi dumalo sina Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, deputy nito na si Undersecretary Abigail Valte at Secretary Ricardo Carandang. Ayon sa ilang mamamahayag na nakabase sa Malacañang, ngayong taon lamang absent ang tatlo sa taunang dinner ng Pangulo sa media. Walang namang ibinigay na paliwanag ang Palasyo sa hindi pagdalo ng tatlo. Noong nakaraang linggo ay napaulat na kakalas si Carandang sa gabinete at lilipat ito sa isang mining company habang sina Lacierda at Valte ay may ulat din na aalis dahil hindi na sila pinagsasalita para sa Pangulo. Kasabay ng ugong na ito ang sabay-sabay na pagbabakasyon ng tatlo sa Singapore kahit abala ang Malacañang sa relief at rehabilitation effort sa mga biktima ng kalamidad. Hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa naglalabas ng statement ang tatlong nabanggit para pabulaanan ang kumakalat na impormasyon. Samantala, napansin umano ng Palasyo na nabawasan ang kritisismo laban sa administrasyon simula nang palitan ni Presidential Communication Operation Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio ‘Sonny’ Coloma Jr., sina Lacierda at Valte sa regular press briefing sa Palasyo noong huling bahagi ng Oktubre. http://www.abante‐tonite.com/issue/dec0913/news_story05.htm#.UqUnY9IW1GY
Pagpasok ni Ping sa gabinete isasapinal na (Bernard Taguinod) Ilalabas na anumang araw ngayon ang Executive Order (EO) para sa pormal na pagpasok ni dating Sen. Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson sa gabinete ni Pangulong Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III. Ito ang napag-alaman kay Presidential Communication Operation Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio ‘Sonny’ Coloma Jr., kahapon nang tanungin kung kailan ilalabas ang EO. “Sa maikling panahon ay lalabas na po ito (EO),” pahayag ni Coloma subalit tumanggi ang kalihim na sabihin kung kailan ito eksaktong ilalabas ng tanggapan ng Executive Secretary. Subalit ngayon ay nagsisimula na umano si Lacson sa kanyang trabaho tulad ng pakikipag-usap sa mga taong makakatulong sa kanya sa tungkuling inatang ng Pangulo. Si Lacson ang itinalaga ni Aquino na maging rehabilitation czar sa Eastern Visayas region na labis na sinalanta ng bagyong Yolanda noong nakaraang buwan na ikinamatay ng libu-libong katao. Popondohan ang rehabilitation effort ng P41 bilyon kung saan, si Lacson ang mangangasiwa sa pagpapatayo ng mga bahay ng mga biktima, government building at mga tulay na sinira ng bagyo. Ayaw ding magkomento ang Palasyo sa mga ulat na posibleng gawing tuntungan ni Lacson ang pagiging rehabilitation czar para sa 2016 presidential election. Kamakailan ay sinabi ni Aquino na wala pa itong napupusuang kandidato sa 2016 dahil wala pa umano ito sa agenda ng kanyang administrasyon lalo na ang Liberal Party. http://www.abante‐tonite.com/issue/dec0913/news_story06.htm#.UqUneNIW1GY
Bakit nakakalusot? EDITORIAL Âƒ
Taun-taon na lamang ay may kampanya ang Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) laban sa mga substandard na mga Christmas lights at iba pang dekorasyong pampasko. Ngayong taon kasabay ng nalalapit na Kapaskuhan ay inalarmang muli ng DTI ang mga establisyimentong nagbebenta ng mga Christmas decor na walang kaukulang safety at standard certificate at binalaang tatanggalan ng permit ang mga ito. Maliban sa pagtanggal ng permit ay may kaukulang multa ring ipapataw ang DTI sa mga hindi susunod sa panuntunan. Alinsunod sa direktiba ng DTI ang mga maaari lamang ibentang Christmas decor na patok tuwing panahon ng Kapaskuhan ng mga manufacturer o importer na pumasa sa mga panuntunang ipinatutupad ng Bureau of Product Standards (BPS) Product Certification Scheme. Sakaling pumasa na sa BPS ay obligado pa rin ang distributor ng Christmas decors na kumuha ng Philippine Standards license at Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) certificates para legal na maibenta ang mga produkto. Sa totoo lang lumang tugtugin na ang paghihigpit na ginagawa ng DTI. Taun-taon na natin kasi itong nasasaksihan. Taun-taon na ring naghihigpit ang DTI pero ang masaklap paulit-ulit itong nagiging problema ng DTI.
Ibig sabihin may ahensya ng gobyerno ang nagpapabaya sa kanilang tungkulin dahil hinahayaang makalusot sa merkado ang mga panindang walang kaukulang permit. Kung tuluy-tuloy lang sana ang paghihigpit na ginagawa ng gobyerno sa pamamagitan ng mga ahensya ng gobyernong may obligasyon sa pagtutok sa tamang kalidad ng mga produkto ay hindi nagiging isyu o problema taun-taon ang naglipanang mga substandard Christmas decor at iba pang seasonal na mga produkto. Ang kailangan ay maging tuluy-tuloy ang monitoring ng mga ahensya ng gobyernong may kinalaman sa pagbabantay sa kalidad ng mga produkto at hindi tuwing mabenta o nauuso lamang ito ginagawa. http://www.abante‐tonite.com/issue/dec0913/editorial.htm#.UqUp8NIW1GY
Kilalanin ang effort ng ilang mambabatas para pagaanin ang dagdag-singil sa kuryente JEANY LACORTE Ayaw tantanan Âƒ ang Manila Electric Company (Meralco) ng mga kritiko kaugnay sa ipatutupad na mahigit P3 pagtataas sa presyo ng kada kilowatt hour na singil sa kuryente ngayong buwan. Sa labang ito ay hindi iniwan ng ilang may malasakit na mambabatas ang mahihirap na mga mamamayang Filipino para tutulan ang panibagong pasakit na ipapapasan ng Meralco na itinaon pa kasabay ng holiday season at gastusan. Nakakatuwa na ilang mambabatas mula sa Mababa at Mataas na Kapulungan ng Kongreso ay may kanya-kanyang bersyon para himukin ang Meralco na huwag pahirapan nang todo ang publiko. Kaya naman ay dapat nating pasalamatan ang kanilang effort na harangin kung hindi man ay pagaanin ang epektong hatid sa mga consumer ng Meralco ng dagdag-singil sa kuryente. Sa Kamara ay may nagpopormang imbestigahan ang Meralco, Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) at Department of Energy (DOE) para alamin kung may katwiran ang ipatutupad na big-time power price hike. Sa Senado naman ay nakakaaliw ang rekomendasyon ni Senador Grace Poe na gawing hulugan ang pagbabayad sa kuryente. Alam ng senadora ang nakaambang hirap na haharapin ng publiko sa sandaling ipatupad na ngayong buwan ang dagdag-singil kayaâ€™t makatwiran nga namang hiriting gawing hulugan ang pagbabayad ng kuryente.
Pero sana kung pagbibigyang maging hulugan ang pagbabayad ng kuryente ay hindi sana itulad sa sistemang ipinaiiral ng mga Bumbay o iba pang lending company na may tubo o interes na ipinapataw para naman maging magaan sa lahat ang pagbabayad at hindi panibagong kalbaryong babalikatin. Kung may malasakit lang sana ang DOE at ERC sa publiko ay hindi daranasin ng mga consumer ng Meralco ang ganitong pasakit. Subalit nakakalungkot dahil hanggang ngayon ay tila walang pakialam sa kapakanan ng taumbayan ang mga ahensyang nabanggit kundi ay pagtungo o pag-bow na lamang sa bawat naisin ng mga power industry. Paanong hindi pinapaboran ang power industry eh tama bang sabihin ng DOE na kakausapin nito ang Meralco kung maaaring bawasan ang unang bugso ng taas-singil? Habang ang inutil na ERC ay nagbitaw ng pahayag na pwede pang baguhin ng ahensya ang mungkahi ng Meralco na utay-utayin ang dagdag singil. Naman, kaya naman palang gawan ng paraan ay bakit hindi gawin at kailangan pang magsentimyento ang publiko. Huwag nang magpapilit gawin na dahil obligasyon ninyong proteksyunan ang kapakanan ng taumbayan sa kamay ng abusadong mga kapitalistang ito. http://www.abante‐tonite.com/issue/dec0913/edit_record.htm#.UqUqK9IW1GY
HIGH COURT VERSUS HOUSE Published : Monday, December 09, 2013 00:00
A full-blown constitutional crisis is taking shape following Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr.’s declaration that the House of Representatives is seriously considering the option of “rejecting” a Supreme Court ruling upholding with finality the disqualification of Marinduque Rep. Regina Reyes. Belmonte said they cannot just simply allow the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) to be rendered useless as a consequence of the SC decision which disqualified Reyes from the 2013 election for failing to renounce her American citizenship. “We do not want that the HRET would be rendered useless,” Belmonte said. With this dilemma, Belmonte reiterated that the legal team of the House of Representatives is still studying the options available to the Lower Chamber in light of the SC decision. “That’s one scenario (reject the SC ruling), but we’re still mulling it,” Belmonte said when asked if the House will defy the SC order and invoke the HRET’s jurisdiction. Belmonte pointed out that the institution could not just ignore the HRET’s role in ruling on matters involving lawmakers. “We have to take into consideration that Congresswoman Reyes was proclaimed and the Constitution is very clear that the HRET is the sole judge in dealing with electoral protest,”
Belmonte reiterated. Under the Constitution, Belmonte explained that the HRET is the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of House members. “That is very clear and we have that constitutional mandate to exercise,” Belmonte stressed. In the meantime, Belmonte said Reyes remains as member of the House of Representatives. In case the institution vows to the SC ruling, former Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, Reyes’ rival in the congressional race, would get her post. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/headlines/63288‐high‐court‐versus‐house
ANOTHER PNOY MAN QUITTING? •
Published : Friday, December 06, 2013 00:00 Written by : Efren Montano
Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang PRESIDENTIAL Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang has not resigned contrary to rumors, according to Malacañang. “I have verified that Sec. Carandang has not resigned. He continues to perform his official duties,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Sonny Coloma Jr. said. Carandang was reported to be seriously considering filing his walking papers at the end of December after President Benigno Aquino reportedly expressed dismay several times with his performance as head of the messaging group. He was rumored to be on the way out last February. Carandang, a news anchor at ANC cable television before joining the President’s communication team in 2010, was reported to be returning to his television work. Carandang, who is currently visiting Singapore, heads the speechwriters’ group that has been openly criticized by the President for producing bad speeches or feeding him incorrect figures on
previous occasions. Reports claimed that President Aquino did not use a speech prepared by his staff last Monday for the “Bulong Pulungan” media forum. “If some of you might have noticed, I was scribbling on a pad earlier, this is the replacement of the speech—and I apologize to my writers. Today, we are not in sync,” Aquino said in his impromptu remarks. The President criticized the media in the forum for its “negativism” in the coverage of the recent calamities. Aquino lamented that stories of unsung heroes were not highlighted in the news reports. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/headlines/63100‐another‐pnoy‐man‐quitting
NEW BODY TO PROBE PORK SCAMS •
published : Thursday, December 05, 2013 00:00 Written by : Hector Lawas
THE government has created an inter-agency task force to investigate other pork barrel scams not linked to Janet Lim-Napoles. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the new body, the Inter-Agency AntiGraft Coordinating Council (IAAGCC), was tasked to conduct a fact-finding probe into scams not being investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation. Among those to be investigated by the council are the reported scheme allegedly perpetrated by non-government organizations linked to a certain Godofredo Roque, De Lima said. “The main mandate of the task force is to make independent evaluation of and build up cases from the CoA special audit report not covered by the NBI investigation,” she said. De lima said the investigation was pursuant to the Supreme Court order last month for the government to “investigate and prosecute all government
officials and/or private individuals for possible criminal offenses related to the irregular, improper and/or unlawful disbursement of all funds under the pork barrel system.” The IAAGCC probe would include lawmakers mentioned in the CoA report, but were not investigated by the NBI since they had no links with Napoles. The IAAGCC task force would be composed of representatives from the Department of Justice, National Bureau of Investigation, office of the Ombudsman and Commission on Audit. Meanwhile, De Lima said the NBI has started its investigation into the use of fake Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) in the PDAF scam. She, however, refused to give any update: “If we give you bits and pieces of results that would be prone to misunderstanding, misinterpretation, and speculations. That’s why it’s best to just wait for the results.” http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/headlines/63047‐new‐body‐to‐probe‐pork‐scams
Focus on rehab work, Binay told Published : Monday, December 09, 2013 00:00 Written by : Ryan Ponce Pacpaco HOUSE leaders led by Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. yesterday advised Vice President Jejomar Binay to set aside the 2016 presidential elections and focus on the rehabilitation and rebuilding of calamity-stricken areas. Belmonte, Cavite Rep. Elpidio “Pidi” Barzaga Jr., and Quezon City Rep. Winston “Winnie” Castelo said talking about politics in 2016 “leaves a bad taste,” stressing many people are still reeling from the effects of various disasters that hit the country, the latest the devastation caused by super typhoon Yolanda. “We should avoid reading 2016 in our leaders’ actions and concentrate on rebuilding the lives of the people,” Belmonte said in an interview after Binay claimed that rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson is qualified to run for president in 2016 and welcomed him as his opponent. Binay stressed it would be merrier if many would run for president. “I think it is too early to talk about the 2016 presidential elections. All politicians should set aside their political plans right now and should course their efforts, resources in addressing the immediate recovery of our country from the problems that beset us caused by the various calamities,” said Barzaga, who chairs the House Committee on Games and Amusement. Quezon City Rep. Winston “Winnie” Castelo, chairman of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development, urged politicians to continue helping the victims of disasters instead of spending their time talking about the next elections. “Politics should be set aside. We should prioritize first the rehabilitation of Tacloban City and areas damaged by disasters. Any discussion on politics at this time would be counter-productive. Let’s put people first,” Castelo said. Castelo led last month the launching of “Project Yakap” to temporarily provide shelter and subsistence to Yolanda victims who have been trickling
on a daily basis into Metro Manila. Under the program, he said the victims would be sent back to their communities of origin the moment their devastated communities are rehabilitated. Yolanda victims have been arriving at the Villamor Air Base since the middle of November in the aftermath of the “Yoland” devastation. Binay said “as for myself, I have already declared right after the (2010) elections that, yes, I will be a candidate (for president).” The Vice President even said he is not worried about the possibility that Lacson’s star would shine again if he does well in his job as rehabilitation czar of the areas that super typhoon Yolanda had devastated. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/63294‐focus‐on‐rehab‐work‐binay‐ told
COA unearths another pork anomaly Published : Monday, December 09, 2013 00:00 Written by : Ryan Ponce Pacpaco THE Commission on Audit (CoA) disclosed that a finance officer of a congressman from the province of Rizal during the previous 15th Congress was allegedly reimbursed for P28.3 million pork barrel funds spent on various “soft projects.” However, the CoA report released last December 7 did not name the lawmaker and the finance officer involved in the supposed anomaly. The soft projects were implemented by the member of the House of Representatives just last year. The CoA also stressed that the identified projects purportedly lacked key documents to support their implementation. In the current 16th Congress Rizal province has two legislative districts represented by Rep Joel Roy R. Duavit of the first district and Rep. Isidro S. Rodriguez Jr. of the second district. They are members of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and both ran unopposed in the last May 2013 mid-term polls to win their second terms of office. According to CoA, the disbursements were sourced from the unnamed lawmaker’s 2011 Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel traced through the issuance of eight checks in different amounts. CoA said that four of the releases were supposedly for scholarship programs while the rest were purportedly distributed in cash either as “financial assistance” or “livelihood programs”. A P1 million check dated February 13, 2012 were for 200 college students who received P5,000 cash assistance each; another check for P4 million dated February 27, 2012 was for 4,000 elementary and high school students who received P1,000 each. CoA also noted P5 million paid out on June 13, 2012 to 10,000 elementary and high school students at P500 each; and P1.2
million released on July 16, 2012 for 240 college students at P5,000 each. The list also included a check dated May 21, 2012 for P3.5 million distributed to 1,498 individuals in sums ranging from P2,000 to P20,000 per person as “medical, burial, disaster or emergency assistance”. The CoA also said that a similar disbursement was made on August 30, 2012 through a check for P2 million but not indicating how many beneficiaries as no list was submitted. On November 16, 2012, the CoA said a sum for P5.171 million was reportedly given out to 1,114 individuals at P1,500 each including 340 teachers, 320 members of tricycle organizations, 240 jobless persons, 128 barangay health workers and 86 day care workers. Also, a separate pay out was given to 700 selected beneficiaries each receiving P5,000. The last check was released on December 7, 2012 for P6.429 million shared out to 1,286 recipients as “livelihood program” for P5,000 each, the CoA report bared. “This practice indicates that the programs/projects were implemented by the office of the legislator instead of the Rizal Provincial Government, contrary to (National Budget Circular No. 529 dated February 21, 2011),” CoA said. State auditors added that the disbursements were not supported with complete documentation as required under Presidential Decree 1445 “rendering the propriety and validity of the claims doubtful.” For the scholarship programs, the audit team took note that all basic documents were missing including the students’ residential addresses, the school they were attending, report cards or class cards, student IDs, schedule of registration fees and official receipts of matriculation. CoA said there were also instances of missing and duplicate payrolls, disparity in the signatures of the recipient student on separate payrolls and payment of scholarship funds to persons other than the identified recipient. The only other document attached was a certification from the congressman’s own screening committee that the students complied with all necessary documents, CoA said. For the financial assistance, the list did not indicate the address of beneficiaries; no medical abstract for hospitalization assistance; no death certificate for burial assistance; and no fire report or pictures of damaged
property or certification from barangay officials to support emergency shelter assistance. A single pay out of P2 million made on August 30, 2012 under check no. 383039 was not explained at all nor was any kind of document attached. As for the livelihood programs, the same lack of addresses and specified purpose or training was reported by the audit team. “The authenticity of the signatures of the payees affixed on the payrolls could not be ascertained in the absence of any document to compare the same,” CoA said. The provincial government was told to require the finance officer of the congressman to submit a complete set of documents to prove that the payouts were valid and proper. In its comment, the Rizal provincial government assured CoA that the practice of funneling funds directly to a legislator’s office has been stopped and that the audit recommendations have been forwarded to the concerned lawmaker’s office for compliance. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/63292‐coa‐unearths‐another‐pork‐ anomaly