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Flood‐tolerant rice variety cultivation pushed by PIA  December 22, 2013  

Tagum City — Rice paddies in the province of Davao del Norte will soon be teeming with climate change-ready rice varieties that are expected to survive prolonged flooding. Governor Rodolfo del Rosario directed Provincial Agriculturist Dr. Anastacia Notarte to look for and cultivate flood-tolerant rice varieties to be planted in farms that experience periodic inundation. “I have instructed Dr. Notarte to find a rice variety that could withstand one week or so of flooding,” he said, to the delight of farmers attending the recent first Provincial Rice Congress at the Bulwagan ng Lalawigan here. The governor said the provincial government is bent on equipping the agriculture sector to combat the worsening weather condition brought about by climate change. Some 10,000 hectares of farm lands in the province have experienced occasional flooding this year, with the rice sector taking the brunt of the disasters. Last year, super typhoon “Pablo” destroyed over P3.8-billion worth of agricultural crops and infrastructure.Del Rosario said that planting flood-tolerant varieties will ensure a steady supply of the staple, and help the province attain food sufficiency, even during the onslaught of typhoons. He said that this is part of his administration’s thrust of making all social groups in the province resilient to any form of calamity.The local chief executive pointed out that the Provincial Rice Congress is an expression of the all-out commitment of the provincial government to ensure further growth of the agriculture-based local economy, particularly the rice sector. “You are important, and as your governor, I salute you for being good farmers,” he told the rice farmers. He also thanked them for helping attain Davao del Norte’s distinction of yielding over 50 percent rice production in the Davao Region. “Kung wala kamo, kinsa man ang magpakaon sa atong katawhan (Without you, who will feed our people),” he said. http://www.mb.com.ph/flood-tolerant-rice-variety-cultivation-pushed/


Land distribution benefits remote villagers by Mike Crismundo  December 22, 2013  

Butuan City — The Region-13 office of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR-13) is set to distribute additional Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) next year in an effort to help the farmers attain their dreams, and uplift their living condition, a DAR-13 official disclosed yesterday. According to DAR-13 Director Faisar Mambuay, the agency is targeting some 18,000 hectares of land for distribution to the farmers, particularly those in the remote communities. He said that this is part of the target for the completion of land acquisition and distribution before year 2016. “At this early, we have started documenting the qualified farmers who are expected to receive their CLOAs in 2014,” said Mambuay. He said that various government agencies, including the local government units (LGUs) from the five provinces, and six cities in the region have already started coordinating to assist the farmers in the remote areas of the region. It was learned that DAR-13 already distributed at least 14,005 hectares of agricultural land to the farmer-beneficiaries in the various areas of the region –surpassing its target of 11,088 hectares. This year, the DAR-13 is targeting the accomplishment rate of 126 percent before the year ends. Last week, a total of 860.1465 hectares of agricultural land was distributed by the DAR-13 to the 491 farmer-beneficiaries in Jabonga town, Agusan del Norte. Together with the local officials, Mambuay led the distribution of the CLOAs covering packets of land in the villages of Bangonay, Libas, and Cuyago, all of Jabonga town. Mambuay said that the distribution of land in the various areas of the region is the DAR’s commitment to the farmers, in the hope of improving their living conditions, and at the same time, spurring rural development. “Aside from the CLOAs, the government is also implementing various support services to ensure the economic improvement of the farming sector. These services come in the form of credit assistance, crop insurance, and training,” added Mambuay. http://www.mb.com.ph/land-distribution-benefits-remote-villagers/


Banking industry resources up by 20 percent in October Category: Economy 21 Dec 2013 Written by Bianca Cuaresma THE Philippine banking system continued to show stability months ahead of the implementation of the Basel 3 Accord in the country, as their total resources showed strong growth as of endOctober this year. Latest data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed that the country’s banking system grew by about 20 percent in terms of resources in October this year compared to the level of resources seen in the same month last year. In particular, about P1.548 trillion was added to the total resources of Philippine banks in October this year from last year. From P7.895 trillion last year, resources hit P9.443 trillion in end-October this year. The total resource of the banking industry in the first 10 months of the year also surpassed the resources seen for the entire year last year by more than a billion pesos. However, compared to the previous month, the resources of local banks were slightly down by about P22.7 billion. The movement of the resources of the local banking sector was due largely to the resources of the universal and commercial banks in the country, which comprise about 90 percent of the total bank resources. Universal and commercial banks hit about P8.472 trillion in end-October this year, up from the P7.073 trillion posted in the same period last year. Thrift banks’ resources, meanwhile, shored up to reach P780.9 billion in October this year, up from its year-ago level of P632 billion. Data on the resources of rural banks and non-banks as of end-September this year has not yet been made available by the BSP.Latest data on the resources of rural banks is at P190.1 billion as of end-July last year. While latest data on the resources of non-banks including finance companies, investment companies, securities dealers or brokers, pawnshops, lending investors, non-stock savings and loan associations, credit-card companies which are under BSP supervision and private and government insurance companies hit P2.256 trillion as of end-April this year. This brings the preliminary data on the total resources of the entire Philippine financial system at P11.699.1 trillion in the first 10 months of the year. This is significantly higher compared to the P 10.053 trillion figure in the same period last year. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/economy/24714‐banking‐industry‐resources‐up‐by‐ 20‐percent‐in‐october


Cutting of coconut trees banned in Aurora by Mark Manuel  December 21, 2013  

BALER, Aurora – The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) has issued a directive banning the cutting of coconut trees in the entire province of Aurora for the month of December, an official said Friday. The moratorium on the cutting of coconut trees contained in PCA Memorandum Circular No. 05 which aims to boost coconut production in the country and to help curtail the adverse effects of climate change. PCA Administrator Euclides Forbes said that violators may be jailed from two to five years and fined P100,000 to P500,000. The PCA Head said that government employees who violate the ban will face more stringent penalties which include being fired and banned perpetually from being employed in any government agency. He added that all permits for the transport of their coconut products have been temporarily suspended for the duration of the moratorium. “We have already met with coconut traders and coco lumber dealers in the province to inform them of the moratorium,” Forbes explained. Forbes also said that PCA has already ordered the immediate purchase of 100 chainsaws to be used for the clearing operations in the provinces devastated by typhoon Yolanda. He said that reports reflected damage to some 3.059 million coconut trees in varying degrees from slight to severe in the provinces of Quezon in Region IV−A, Guimaras, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental in Region VI, Cebu in Region VII and Eastern Samar and Leyte in Region VIII amounting to P1.495 billion. “The chainsaws will be used to cut fallen trees barring free passage of relief operations. Those suitable will be processed into timber for use in the construction of shelters for families made homeless by the typhoon. Each operator will be paid 300.00 pesos a day as part of PCA’s cash for work program,” he said. http://www.mb.com.ph/cutting-of-coconut-trees-banned-in-aurora/


Cargill donates $500,000 for Yolanda relief and rehab (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 22, 2013 ‐ 12:00am   0  15 googleplus0  4  

Apart from cash donations, Cargill and its employees  have also been actively participating in various on‐ site volunteer projects. Photo shows Cargill employee volunteers during a relief goods distribution in  Capiz and Leyte. 

MANILA, Philippines - Cargill, an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services, continues its efforts to aid the survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) by giving an additional $120,000 (P 5.2 million) to support the immediate relief and rehabilitation operations in affected areas. The additional $120,000 takes the total amount donated by Cargill to $500,000. Cargill responded immediately when the company learnt of the impact of Yolanda on the lives of the people in the Philippines by giving an initial donation of $100,000. In the week following, Cargill employees actively participated in various on-site volunteer projects, such as the re-packing and distribution of relief goods in Capiz and Ormoc City in Leyte and, most recently, Bantayan Islands in Cebu. Partnering with the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), the largest corporate-led, non-profit social development foundation in the Philippines, the cash donation will be used to deliver life-saving and early recovery assistance, including food and comfort packs that adhere to the internationally-accepted SPHERE standard in disaster response.


The funds would also be used to distribute shelter repair kits which are intended to help mend survivors’ damaged houses. “We deeply sympathize with those who have been affected by the recent disaster and remain committed to standing by them by ensuring that their basic needs are fulfilled,” said Philip Soliven, Cargill Philippines president, who shared that the company is also developing longterm rehabilitation and reconstruction programs to create livelihood opportunities for the affected communities. To date, the company has raised more than $ 500,000 (P 21.5 million) for its Yolanda relief efforts, including a $130,000 (P 5.6 million) contribution to the United Nations World Food Program’s (WFP) emergency response plan. “Giving back to the impacted communities is reflective of how we conduct our business at Cargill and how we measure our success,” adds Soliven. Founded in 1865, Cargill entered the Philippine market in 1947. It established its first office in the country – which was also its first in Asia – in 1948. Presently headquartered in Makati City, Cargill Philippines’ local operations include animal nutrition, grain and oilseed origination, processing and marketing, and food and beverage ingredients. http://www.philstar.com/agriculture/2013/12/22/1270770/cargill-donates-500000-yolanda-reliefand-rehab


Eco‐friendly tips for a green and bright Christmas (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 22, 2013 ‐ 12:00am   0  0 googleplus0  0  

MANILA, Philippines - Humanity is currently using the resources of one and half planets. This puts tremendous pressure on our planet and its biodiversity. By 2050, the global population is expected to reach nine billion, stretching our natural resources to the brink. With such limited resources, we need to change the way we consume products. This Christmas, make gift-giving more meaningful by giving back to planet Earth! Remember to follow these holiday eco-tips from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines) to make your Christmas extra green and bright! 1. Use LED Christmas lights. Energy-efficient LED (light-emitting diode) Christmas lights are 26 percent more efficient than regular tungsten bulbs. They last longer too! 2. Buy local products. It takes much more resources for imported goods to reach our doorsteps. Patronizing local products reduces carbon emissions while boosting the local economy. 3. Bring an eco-bag when gift shopping. An estimated 500 billion to one trillion plastic bags are consumed globally every year. This means over a million plastic bags are used each second. Using eco-bags reduces plastic pollution.


4. Make your own Christmas cards. About a million Christmas cards (and 200,000 trees) are wasted each December. Why not craft your own from recycled paper or fresh cardboard? A little doodling with some colored pens can bring out your inner artist. 5. Use soy candles. Yucky petroleum-based Christmas candles constantly pollute the environment when lit. Use soy or vegetable-based candles instead. They are biodegradable and smoke-free. 6. Use recycled décor. With a little tinkering and a touch of creativity, your old bottles, furniture, clothes and gizmos can be converted into cool Christmas decorations. This is not just cheaper – you’ll also ensure that each piece is unique. 7. Give green gifts. Why not give away eco-friendly gifts rather than your usual giveaways? You’ll be remembered as both generous and Earth-loving! 8. Go one degree up. When the party’s getting too cold, you can increase your air conditioner’s thermostat by one degree Celsius. This will leave you feeling comfortable while cutting down the energy bill by as much as 10 percent. Now that’s a cool tip. 9. Use recycled paper to wrap gifts. Printed paper wrappers constitute one of the largest Christmas wastes. Use old magazines, newspapers or brown paper to wrap gifts. You can also use last year’s ribbons and strings. 10. Buy only what you can finish. Hosting a Christmas party? Politely ask your guests to minimize leftovers and get only what they can consume. Every year, 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted. Minimize waste and your waistline at the same time! http://www.philstar.com/agriculture/2013/12/22/1270773/eco-friendly-tips-green-and-brightchristmas


DENR gets P450‐M German grant for protected area mgm’t By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 22, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has signed a P450-million grant agreement with the German government for the management of protected areas in the country. The grant would be coursed through Germany’s grant agency Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The technical assistance grant from the German government calls for a 4.5-year partnership on strengthening the management of protected areas in the Philippines through the Protected Area Management Enhancement (PAME) project. The PAME project began in 2012 and is set to be completed in March 2017. It aims to enhance the management of 60 existing terrestrial and marine protected areas in the country and to establish 100 new ones by 2017. One of the project’s first steps was to help the government assess the effectiveness of Protected Area Management in identified Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA). The enhancement may be implemented through the introduction of improved planning, legal, financial and protection systems, as well as strengthening the management and technical competencies of relevant DENR staff. It also calls for the improvement of legislative conditions for the protection and management of KBA’s while raising awareness about the value of biodiversity conservation and protected area management. “This project constitutes a big leap forward for efforts in protected area management and conservation here in the Philippines. Considered as one of the 25 biodiversity hotspots and one of the 17 mega diverse countries in the world, the Philippines contains an exceptionally diverse group of ecosystems and species that people can be proud of,” Berthold Schirm, principal advisor of GIZ-PAME project, said. As a springboard for future interventions, a study on the present condition of 60 protected areas in the Philippines and the management effectiveness in these areas was conducted by GIZ and the DENR.The report will be presented during a national conference in January. http://www.philstar.com/agriculture/2013/12/22/1270769/denr-gets-p450-m-german-grantprotected-area-mgmt


Group pushes ban on mercury use (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 22, 2013 ‐ 12:00am   0  0 googleplus0  0  

MANILA, Philippines - On Human Rights Day, environmental justice group BAN Toxics stresses the protection of people’s right to life as it reiterates their call to phase out mercury use and trade. “As the world observes International Human Rights day, we urge all nations to curb the threats against the people’s basic human right to health and life by stopping mercury pollution by rapidly ratifying the Minamata Treaty and taking immediate measures to meet the requirement of the treaty,” says BAN Toxics executive director Richard Gutierrez. Exactly two months ago, the Minamata Treaty was signed and adopted by different nations including the Philippines. The treaty is an internationally binding legal instrument that aims to protect human health and the environment from the adverse impacts of mercury and mercury compounds. The group raises alarm over the seemingly high exposure of the Filipino family to mercury. According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) national inventory of mercury the artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector emits an estimated 70 tons of mercury in the environment annually. It may be recalled that in 2006, a report by the United Nations stated that Filipino miners have mercury levels 50 times higher than WHO limits. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that is persistent in the environment. From a number of historical pollution disasters it has been established that psychiatric symptoms, brain damage and kidney damage are some of the serious health consequences of exposure to high levels of mercury, but it is also well-documented that even tiny dosages affect the intellectual and physical performance of children when exposed in utero. Women and children are most vulnerable to the ill-effects of mercury exposure. In 2013, the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the WHO confirmed that mercury is a human carcinogen. Aside from that, statistics from the United Nations COMTRADE, a global database on trade of commodities, for the period 2007-2011 shows that the Philippines imported more than 65,000 kilograms of inorganic and organic compounds of toxic metals,including dental amalgams which are composed of 50 percent mercury (BAN Toxics, 2012). “Mercury is a poison that impacts not just the health of those that use, but also and unjustly a larger portion of the population,” add Gutierrez.


In this light, BAN Toxics urges the government to accelerate its effort towards the elimination of mercury through the strict and steadfast implementation of the Minamata Treaty. BAN Toxics! is an independent non-government environmental organization focused on the advancement of environmental justice, children’s health, and toxics elimination. Working closely with government agencies, partner communities and other NGOs in both the local and international levels, BAN Toxics endeavors to reduce and eliminate the use of harmful toxins through education campaigns, training and awareness-raising, and policy-building and advocacy programs. http://www.philstar.com/agriculture/2013/12/22/1270772/group-pushes-ban-mercury-use


DENR supports mining firms’ direct tax remittance to LGUs by Melody M. Aguiba  December 22, 2013  

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is pushing for the direct remittance of mining revenue share to local governments as remote rural areas have been priority beneficiaries of the economic benefits from mining operations. The direct download of local government units (LGUs) from the payment of taxes by mining companies is a provision that should be incorporated in the draft revenue-sharing bill. “I support that LGUs’ share will be automatically released to them,” said DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje in a press briefing. According to Paje, the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) wants the scheme to be very simple, easy to compute wherein sharing would automatically remove the 40 percent for LGUs and the share of indigenous people. Mining companies have also been advocating release of taxes to rural areas which act as direct host to mining activities. The government has been trying to raise revenue collection from mining firms through an immediate 10 percent tax deduction on the gross value of mineral production. This scheme ensures higher collection and faster release of tax to government. The current immediate tax deduction is only the 2 percent excise tax although other tax forms like income tax are computed on sales of minerals. While immediate tax deduction on gross mineral value is an option, Paje said there are also suggestions to allow companies to pay the tax in installment. Meantime, Paje did not confirm that the revenue-sharing bill on mining is certified as urgent by the Office of the President. While the bill’s deliberation has been ongoing since Executive Order (EO) 79 was issued in August-September 2012, a moratorium on issuance of new mining permit has effectively halted expansion in the mining sector. EO 79 provides for this moratorium which will be in place until a new revenue mining scheme is ratified by Congress. The MICC is also endorsing a bill that removes the mining sector from the Board of Investments’s Investment Priorities Plan. Once approved, mining firms will no longer entitled to five to seven years in income tax holiday.


“There are companies that have applied for 15 years of operation. But because they have exhausted the minerals, they’re terminating operation after enjoying tax holiday for seven years. Now that we’re about to enjoy the tax collection, they will say they’re over. Who will be happy with that?” said Paje. Paje cited the Rapu Rapu project as one of those that terminated mining after seven years or after enjoying the ITH. With regard to the application for environmental compliance certificate (ECC) of the Tampakan copper project in South Cotabato, Paje said the Department of Agrarian Reform issued an order asking operator Sagittarius Mines to compensate landowners for the land it will occupy. “The entire pit is covered by a CLOA (Certificate of Land Ownership Award). The state is allowed (or may allow a contractor) to extract minerals, but surface owners should be compensated,” said Paje. The Tampakan copper project, one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper deposit needing $6 billion in development cost, will occupy a big area of proposed 2.5-kilometer wide and three kilometer-long. Government’s rejection of Tampakan’s ECC has prompted investors, led by major investor Glencore Xtrata, to remove the project from its global mining development priorities. http://www.mb.com.ph/denr-supports-mining-firms-direct-tax-remittance-to-lgus/


Miriam has most number of bills, resolutions By Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 22, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Chronic fatigue syndrome failed to stop Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago from being the top-ranking senator in terms of the number of bills and resolutions filed since the start of the 16th Congress. In a statement, Santiago was quick to note that her nemesis, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, was at the bottom of the list with a total of only 16 bills and resolutions filed under his name. Based on the Senate legislative bills and index service, Santiago filed the most number of bills at 437, 436 of which she was the principal author. She also filed 181 resolutions, 179 of which were introduced by her. In contrast, Enrile filed only three bills and was co-author of 13 resolutions. After Santiago, the other senators who were among the most prolific in terms of filing bills and resolutions were Senators Jinggoy Estrada with 543, Antonio Trillanes IV with 249, Loren Legarda with 136, JV Ejercito with 132, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto with 116, Francis Escudero with 111, and Manuel Lapid with 101. Apart from Enrile, the other senators who filed the least number of bills and resolutions were Aquilino Pimentel III with only 20, Sergio Osmeña III with 28, Deputy Minority Leader Vicente


Sotto III with 30, Senate President Franklin Drilon with 31, Gregorio Honasan II with 32, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV with 35 and Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano with 36. Santiago said that in spite of her being sick and unable to report for work at the Senate, she managed to file the highest number of bills and resolutions among all 24 senators just as she did in the past. Santiago and Enrile have been engaged in a long-standing war of words, which has led to bitter allegations and a probe by the Department of Justice on Enrile’s alleged involvement in anomalies. The bitter war of words between the two started in December 2010 when Santiago revealed that she returned the P250,000 cash gift given to her by Enrile, who was then the Senate president. “He returned my biscuits so I returned his cash,” Santiago said, referring to her gift of a native delicacy from Iloilo, which she apparently gave to every senator. Santiago also revealed that on top of the P250,000 cash gift from Enrile, almost all of the senators were also given P1.6 million from the savings of the Senate. She said only Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, his sister Sen. Pia Cayetano, Trillanes and herself did not receive the P1.6 million from Enrile because they were critical of his leadership. The issue drew widespread criticism from the public after it was revealed just how much most of the senators were receiving in terms of funds for their respective offices and how most of these were not being liquidated for auditing purposes. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/12/22/1270935/miriam‐has‐most‐number‐bills‐resolutions                  


No power rate hike in January By Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 22, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - There will be no further power rate hike in January 2014 after the record increase in the generation charge for December 2013 of P3.44 per kilowatt-hour. Power regulator Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) ordered Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) on Friday night not to implement further increases in its generation charge for January 2014. The generation charge is the cost of power that Meralco pays power plants for the previous month’s supply. Meralco is allowed to pass this on to consumers through the automatic generation rate adjustment mechanism but it consults the ERC when the rates are too high as what happened in the December generation charge. ERC ordered Meralco to maintain the January 2014 generation charge at P7.37 per kwh, the original estimate Meralco earlier submitted to the commission after the power firm said the actual figures could be higher than P7.37 per kwh. The order does not change Meralco’s staggered billing scheme for the P3.44 per kwh increase in the December generation charge, which Meralco will collect from its 5.2 million customers in three installments: P2 per kwh in December, P1 per kwh in February and P0.44 per kwh in March. Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said the ERC order would not affect the earlier approved staggered billing system. “That only applies to the December supply month which is applicable on the January billing. That does not affect the previous order of staggered payments which covers the December billing,” he said.


Nevertheless, Meralco first vice president Ivanna dela Peña said the power distributor would have to clarify with the ERC if its latest order would have any impact on the staggered billing scheme.

ERC officials were not available for comment as of press time. In a Dec. 19 letter to the ERC, Meralco expressed “concerns” that the generation charge for January “will be significantly higher” than the estimated P7.37 per kwh “as the bills of the suppliers are still to be received after the 26th of the month and validated until the early days of the next billing month.” In rejecting Meralco’s request, ERC cited its mandate “to ensure the adequate promotion of the consumer interest under Section 41 of Republic Act 9136 (RA 9136), as well as its responsibility to validate that no abuse of market power was committed by any of the participants in the spot market.” The ERC advised Meralco to file a separate request for approval of a recovery scheme for the distributor’s unrecovered generation costs within a 90-day period. Meralco’s generation charge for December rose to a record high of P3.44 per kwh as a result of the month-long maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya gas-to-power project, and the simultaneous “forced shutdown” of three key power plants in Luzon.

Praised, belittled The ERC order, meanwhile, drew praises from Malacañang, which considered it an indication of the regulator’s readiness to listen to different sectors, particularly consumers. “The ERC order appears to respond to calls from legislators, consumer groups and other stakeholders to validate the basis for Meralco’s generation charge that is used as basis for computing power rate adjustments,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said yesterday. “We reiterate the government’s determination to prevent abuse of market power and protect consumer welfare,” Coloma said. But for Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. of Dasmariñas City in Cavite, the ERC order meant nothing. “It’s an empty gesture. In the first place, ERC did not approve any adjustment for January. What they told us in the committee on energy of the House of Representatives is that Meralco’s increase of P4.15 per kilowatt-hour would be spread over three months: this month, in February and in March,” he said.


“Their statements were that the three installments would be one-time payments, meaning the December increase will not be billed in January, the February adjustment will not be collected in March and the March increase will disappear in the April bills. Therefore, there is clearly no additional collection for January,” he said. Barzaga said the ERC order could only mean that there might be an increase for next month that officials of both the commission and Meralco have not revealed to the public and to the House energy committee. He also said the ERC should have first examined the details and justifications of every centavo increase in electricity rates before approving it. “They failed in their mandate to protect the interest of the people,” he said, referring to the ERC. – With Aurea Calica, Jess Diaz http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/12/22/1270924/no‐power‐rate‐hike‐january                              


Aquino appoints 10 new judges by Leonard Postrado  December 22, 2013  

President Benigno Aquino III has appointed 10 new judges in courts in different provinces. In a one-page transmittal letter of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa to Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, dated November 27, 2013, but was released just recently, new judges have been assigned to Catanduanes, Benguet, Baguio, La Union, Ilocos Sur and Cebu. “I am pleased to transmit herewith the appointment letters of the following signed by His Excellency, President Benigno S. Aquino III,” the letter states. For the Regional Trial Courts (RTCs), the new appointees are Judge Maria Ligaya ItliongRivera, who was assigned at Branch 5 of Baguio City, Benguet, Judge Ivan Kim Morales of Branch 59 of Baguio City and Caroline Rojas Jaucian of Branch 26 of San Fernando, La Union. In Cebu RTC, Judge Glenda Ching Co was appointed in the Branch 65 of Talisay City,Cebu. For the Municipal Trial Courts, the appointees are Judge FRancisco Torres of the 1st MCTC of San Miguel, Catanduanes; Judge Bernadette Balangitan Badecao of MTC Sto. Tomas, La Union; Judge Melita Amylesha Delson-Macaraeg of 1st MCTC, Kapangan-Kibungan, Benguet; Judge Homer Jay Ragonjan of MTC, Cabugao, Ilocos Sur; Judge Jaime Bugain of the 6th MCTC, Santiago-San Esteban, Ilocos Sur. The said appointees were screened by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) and it is now headed by its chairperson Sereno, with three ex-officio members namely Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Senator Aquilino Pimentel 3rd. Currently, there are also three regular members which includes Atty. Jose Mejia from the Academe, Atty. Milagros Fernan-Cayosa from the IBP, and representing the private sector retired CA Justice Aurora Santiago-Lagman. http://www.mb.com.ph/aquino‐appoints‐10‐new‐judges/          


Millions of coconut trees lost to ‘Yolanda’ to hurt global supply by Reuters  December 22, 2013 (updated)  

KUALA LUMPUR/MANILA – The destruction of an estimated three million coconut palms in last month’s deadly typhoon in the Philippines is set to squeeze global supply for years of the tropical fruit used to make products from fuel to health drinks. Even before Typhoon Haiyan tore through the Philippines, the United Nations had warned that global demand for coconuts was outstripping production in Asia, home to 85 percent of output.

DEAD STAND — Super-typhoon ‘Yolanda’ left these coconut palm trees still standing, albeit dead. Photo taken from Salcedo, Eastern Samar. (Contributed by Revoli Cortez) The crop losses in the Philippines, the world’s top exporter of coconut oil, have already helped drive prices up as much as 40 percent since the storm and led to a scramble for supplies from top producer Indonesia, and for alternatives to the edible oil. But with little chance of Indonesia or India, another top producer, plugging the gap prices are expected to climb even further next year and beyond, analysts and traders say. There is also continuing demand pressure, helped by heavy marketing of coconut water as an electrolyte-rich health drink that has led investments in suppliers by soft drink giants Coca-Cola Co and PepsiCo Inc.


Coconut water and milk account alone for 30 percent of coconut consumption, according to data from the United Nations. Coconut oil is extracted by crushing dried coconut, and is widely used in items such as soap and cosmetics, due to being rich in fatty lauric acid. The leftover, copra meal, is often used as animal feed. “One thing about lauric oils is they are the one oil when things are bad on supply, they can really go up crazily because people don’t have much choice,” James Fry, chairman of commodities consultancy LMC International, told Reuters. Philippine supply worries after Typhoon Haiyan struck in early November drove Rotterdam coconut oil prices as high as $1,480 per tonne on Nov. 13, up 40 percent from before the storm and 80 percent on the year. And analyst Fry and some traders say prices, currently at around $1,260, could hit $2,000 next year due to lower Asian supply.. While substitutes such as palm kernel oil could soak up some demand, plans to raise the Philippines’ mandatory biodiesel blend could divert more coconut oil for fuel and add to demand pressures. ONE-IN-FIVE DEPEND ON SECTOR For the Philippines, the destruction will hurt not just exports but also millions of families making a living from producing and trading coconut oil and other products. It could take years for supplies to be replenished after the storm that killed more than 6,000 people. Replanting will start only after relief operations are in place and trees will only bear fruit after three years. The typhoon has knocked out up to 300,000 tonnes of coconut oil supply in the Southeast Asian country, according to the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), a government-linked agency. “The full impact will be felt next year,” said PCA administrator Euclides Forbes, adding he hoped the decline in exports worth around $1 billion in 2012 would not exceed 10 percent. Forbes said among the hardest-hit areas were Leyte and Samar, provinces accounting for 15 percent of the 852,000 tonnes of coconut oil exported in 2012. “The livelihoods of one in every five Filipinos are directly or indirectly dependent on the coconut sector,” said Romulo Arancon, executive director of the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community, a group representing 18 coconut-producing countries. INDONESIA AND INDIA


Indonesia could go some way in helping fill the gap in global demand, but relief will be limited as Southeast Asia’s most populous nation typically consumes a lot of supply locally. Indonesia produced about 850,000 tonnes of coconut oil in 2012, half of which was exported. However, the sector faces its own struggles from land scarcity to ageing trees. Donatus Gede Sabon, secretary general of the Indonesian Coconut Forum, estimated the country’s output could drop by 0.5-1 percent this year and fall further in 2014. India, which exports only about 6,500 tonnes of the world’s 1.9 million annual coconut oil exports, will also offer little help as its domestic consumption grows alongside a swelling population. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization said last month that growth in output of coconut products in Asia was running at 2 percent annually, well behind the 10 percent global demand growth. The comments were made before the typhoon struck. (Anuradha Raghu and Erik dela Cruz) http://www.mb.com.ph/millions‐of‐coconut‐trees‐felled‐by‐yolanda‐to‐hurt‐global‐supply/                              


Red tide remains in Zambo Sur bay, Bataan waters By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 22, 2013 ‐ 12:00am   0  0 googleplus0  0  

MANILA, Philippines - Dumanquillas Bay in Zamboanga del Sur and the coastal waters of Bataan remain positive for red tide toxin, according to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). In a latest bulletin, the BFAR said the waters in Mariveles, Limay, Orion, Pilar, Balanga, Orani, Abucay, and Samal, all in Bataan remain positive for paralytic shellfish poisoning. All types of shellfish and acetes sp or alamang harvested from these areas are not safe for human consumption. Fish, squids, shrimps and crabs harvested in these areas are safe for human consumption provided they are washed thoroughly. Meanwhile, the Murcielagos Bay in Zamboanga del Norte and the waters in Misamis Occidental, which were earlier reported to be positive with algae that produces the red tide toxin, are now free from contamination, according to BFAR. http://www.philstar.com/nation/2013/12/22/1270781/red‐tide‐remains‐zambo‐sur‐bay‐bataan‐waters                  


Peace benefits Mindanao farmers (philstar.com) | Updated December 21, 2013 ‐ 5:52pm   0  57 googleplus0  1  

COTABATO CITY, Philippines --- The absence of any encounter this year between the military and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has helped farmers in Central Mindanao to invest in projects that could develop the region into a livestock, rubber and oil palm hub. Except for some isolated atrocities perpetrated by bandits belonging to the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the region was peaceful, with “zero" military-MILF encounter, in the past 11 months. The BIFF, which is led by extremists, among them the now paralytic Ustadz Ameril Umbra Kato, is not covered by the July 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities between the government and the MILF. The peace has allowed farmers in far-flung areas in North Cotabato and Maguindanao provinces benefit from government projects. The livelihood projects were implemented in support of the socio-economic agenda of the GPHMILF peace talks. “I hope the tranquility we now experience in our communities will continue in the years to come so we can focus on activities that could generate income to continue sending our children to school,” Mutalib Tantung, a Moro farmer in S.K. Pendatun town in Maguindanao, said in the local dialect.


Tantung is one of more than 50,000 farmers in Maguindanao who received free rubber tree and oil palm seedlings dispersed in the past 11 months by the provincial government under the “plant now, pay never” project of Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu. Thousands had received seedlings and farm animals from the Maguindanao provincial government from 2010 to late 2012. Maguindanao is one of the five provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. In North Cotabato, hundreds of farmers in flood-hit and conflict-stricken areas also benefited from the animal and seedling dispersal activities of Gov. Emmylou Talino-Mendoza from January to early December this year. North Cotabato, which is under Administrative Region 12, has three congressional districts that are home to mixed Moro, Christian and non-Moro indigenous highland communities. Mendoza’s office also distributed water buffaloes and hybrid goats to Christian and Moro farmers in North Cotabato in recent months. Some of the beneficiaries of the community agricultural interventions initiated by the Maguindanao and North Cotabato provincial governments are members of the MILF and its rival, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The MNLF signed a peace deal with government on September 2, 1996. Chief Supt. Noel Delos Reyes, police director of ARMM, said the community projects of the Maguindanao provincial government helped convinced the followers of MNLF founder Nur Misuari to refrain from joining their companions in Zamboanga City in September. Many of the more than 4,000 scholars of the Maguindanao Program on Educational Assistance and Community Enhancement (MagPEACE), bankrolled by the office of Mangudadatu, are children of MILF and MNLF members, according to Lynette Estandarte, Maguindanao’s chief provincial budget officer. “Naturally, because we have peace education subjects, these scholars help educate their parents on the importance of resolving security problems through dialogues. This learning process is good for the Mindanao peace,” commented Engineer Sukarno Datukan, administrator of the government-run Upi Agricultural School in North Upi town in Maguindanao. MNLF members in North Cotabato had also committed to Mendoza, who, like Mangudadatu, is now in her second term as provincial governor, to refrain from disturbing the peace in their enclaves in the province. Peace activists in Central Mindanao, among them Catholic priests and leaders of various Christian sects, are convinced the government and MILF panels would be able to strike a final peace compact by 2014.


Peace talks between the government and the MILF started January 7, 1997, punctuated by security problems that caused its frequent suspension, and gained headway in 2003 with the help of Malaysia as facilitator. Besides Malaysia, Japan, the European Union, Norway, Indonesia, and several other international donor organizations, and foreign peace advocacy entities, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of more than 50 Muslim countries are assisting in the peace talks. John Unson http://www.philstar.com/nation/2013/12/21/1270710/peace‐benefits‐mindanao‐farmers                                        


Relax foreign ownership limits – PCCI By Louella D. Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 22, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The government will have to take decisive action on improving infrastructure, relaxing foreign ownership limits and addressing the high power costs next year to allow the country to benefit from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) integrated market, the country’s largest business group said. In a statement, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) president Miguel Varela said taking decisive actions to lift the constraints to growth will enable the country to build its competitive advantage for the ASEAN’s economic integration. “Next year is a critical year to take decisive action if companies are to satisfy a market of five billion strong consumers with products and services,” Varela said. “We could lose out to our competitors if we delay in removing the constraints that have been making us just play catch up,” he added. The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) to be established in 2015 will transform Southeast Asia into a region with free flow of goods, services, investment, skilled labor as well as capital. Varela said the private sector can build its competitive advantage and maximize the benefits of the integrated region if the government will ensure the adequacy and cost-competitiveness of fuel and electricity to power the growth of businesses and industries. He said the rehabilitation as well as modernization of airports and seaports will be needed to accommodate the growing number of tourists and rising volume of traded goods domestically and internationally. Varela said government will need to construct roads, rails and bridges with a priority given to linking airports and seaports to cities, key destinations and farm-to-market roads.


According to Varela, 2014 will also be critical for government to consider easing up on the foreign investment negative list including such sectors as public utilities and liberalizing the restrictive economic provisions of the Philippine Constitution. “Foreign companies have already strategically located themselves within ASEAN for some years now,” he said adding that these firms would no longer need to set-up facilities in the Philippines to enter the market when the AEC is in place. Other measures being pushed by the PCCI are streamlining business permits and licenses, improving customs administration and procedures, as well as upgrading the quality of education by enhancing the current curriculum based on market analysis and emerging trends. “Certainly, the rosy picture painted by our economic managers could result to the transformation of the Philippine economy into a powerhouse economy if the government, with the support and partnership of the private sector, is able to address the constraints to growth,” he said. Earlier, he said the PCCI expects the economy to grow by 6 to 6.5 percent this year, lower than the 6.6 percent gross domestic product growth posted in 2012 due to the damage to infrastructure and livelihood left by by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake which hit Bohol and Cebu and Super Typhoon Yolanda in Eastern Visayas. As of end-September, the economy expanded by 7.4 percent, higher than the 6.7 percent growth recorded in the same period last year. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/12/22/1270752/relax‐foreign‐ownership‐limits‐pcci                  


DTI summons more supermarkets on Noche Buena products pricing By Louella D. Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 22, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has issued show cause orders to four supermarkets in Metro Manila found to be selling Noche Buena items above the suggested retail prices (SRP). In a statement yesterday, the DTI said that based on their price monitoring of 10 supermarkets in Metro Manila held on Wednesday, the following were found to be selling Noche Buena products at prices higher than the SRP: Ever Gotesco Supermarket, Ortigas Extension; Landmark Supermarket, Makati City; Rustan’s Supermarket in Shangri-La, Mandaluyong City; and Super 8, Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City. “These supermarkets were found selling Noche Buena products from P50 centavos to P21.25 higher than the SRP,” DTI-Consumer Welfare and Business Regulation Group officer-in-charge Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba said. Meanwhile, the following supermarkets were found to be compliant to the SRP for Noche Buena items: Liana’s Supermarket in Pasay City; Rustan’s Supermarket, SM Supermarket, and SM Hypermarket in Makati City; Robinson’s Galleria Supermarket in Ortigas City; and Welcome Supermarket Metro Point, Pasay City. “We commend these supermarkets for conforming to the SRPs of Noche Buena products...We call on other establishments to follow their lead to ensure that prices of Noche Buena products are reasonable this Christmas season,” Dimagiba said. The DTI had earlier issued show cause order to nine supermarkets for selling Noche Buena products above the SRP. “The DTI enjoins all retailers to stop selling overpriced Noche Buena products and comply with the SRP,” Dimagiba said. He said the DTI is also calling on consumers to report any store found to be selling items above the SRP. To report retailers that sell above the SRP, consumers can visit the nearest DTI Office or call DTI Direct at 751.3330 or 0917. 8343330. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/12/22/1270761/dti‐summons‐more‐supermarkets‐noche‐ buena‐products‐pricing


GSIS extends emergency loan to Yolanda‐ hit members By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 22, 2013 ‐ 12:00am   0  0 googleplus0  0  

MANILA, Philippines - Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) members hit hard by Super Typhoon Yolanda may avail of loans amounting to as much as P200,000 under the state pension fund’s Home Emergency Loan Program (HELP). HELP is a one-time special loan which allows Yolanda victims to rebuild their homes and resume productive livelihood and employment activities, GSIS said. The loan will carry an interest of six percent and is payable in 10 years. The first monthly amortization of the loan will be in July 2014. Under the program, members may apply for a loan based on their total length of service in the government. Those who have been in the government for 10 years or more may borrow a maximum amount of P200,000 while those who have been in the service for five years or more, but less than 10 years, may take out up to P100,000. Those who have been in the service for less than five years, on the other hand, may obtain up to P30,000 worth of loans. GSIS president Robert Vergara said the program is in response to President Aquino’s directive to all government agencies to extend the necessary financial support to Yolanda victims. The agency will accept applications from January to March 2014 in any of its 56 branch and extension offices nationwide. An approval from the members’ agency authorized officer (AAO) will be required by the pension fund before processing the loan. The program may be availed only once and is not subject to renewal, the GSIS said. Aside from HELP, other programs offered by the GSIS to help alleviate the plight of Yolanda survivors include the grant of a six-month loan moratorium for members and pensioners living or working in worst-hit areas; an enhanced emergency loan with higher credit limit of P40,000 for members with outstanding emergency loan balance; and for the first time, a pensioners’ emergency loan of P20,000. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/12/22/1270759/gsis-extends-emergency-loan-yolandahit-members


More multi‐sectoral reps in Land Use Act urged by Bernie Magkilat  December 22, 2013  

Land use planning, in the latest version of the National Land Use Bill and Management Act (NLUMA), has called for more multi-sectoral representation and input, including technical experts and experienced planners and operators to ensure an efficient and balanced land use. With the country reeling from natural disasters, endless traffic bottlenecks, increased squatting, and floods, the expertise of urban planners, developer, experienced planning engineers, and logistics experts in land use and physical planning are vital to environmental sustainability and national productivity. National Land Use should also balance the use and considerations of land for residential, commercial, tourism, logistics, education, parks, and other community needs and visions, and not be defined necessarily by just a single use or sector consistently as the highest priority. The Subdivision and Housing Association (SHDA), the country’s largest association of private developers, proposes the above good land use planning which requires increasing private sector and multi-industry/stakeholder involvement in the government and inter-agency committees, meetings, evaluation processes and land use bodies outlined in some of the bill’s current versions. There are two pending versions of the National Land Use Bill, namely HB 108 and 3122, wherein both seek to manage and develop the country’s land and water resources. Both also look at maintaining and preserving environmental stability, sustainable use of natural resources, disaster risk reduction and climate risk-based planning, among a number of goals. The bills will create a number of planning bodies to achieve these goals, including the National Land Use Policy Council (NLUPC) or Commission, deemed the highest policy-making body for land use. This body at the national level will be composed of several cabinet members and agency heads, and eight sectoral representatives from the urban poor, peasants, fisherfolk and indigenous peoples, as part of the basic sectors directly involved in land use but no representation from business. “The bill gives too few, and even no representation in certain instances, from much-needed business and technical and other sectors who should be able to share their inputs,” said Paul Tanchi, SHDA President. “To ensure a more practical, efficient and balanced land use planning, all significant stakeholders including the developers, private professional planning and business sectors and others must be represented.”


SHDA has recommended involving technical and multi-industry representatives from tourism, retail, education, services, local business and even parks planners. “The active participation of people’s organizations and other stakeholders who can contribute their expertise, experience and technical, social and commercial know-how will help create sound land use policies that will be beneficial to all,” added Tanchi. SHDA said it fully supports the passage of the bill, its environmental planning, its consideration of agriculture and social-concern through representatives, but has proposed a few enhancements. “Aside from increasing private sector involvement in land use planning, we also recommend that on top of the visionary time frame of 30 years we need a time frame of ten years for implementation work plans for the National Physical Framework Plan, with 5-year reviews for adjustments where warranted, and the inclusion of the Anti-Red Tape Law in getting clearances for land development. Penalties should deter abuses and negligences but not be disproportionate or counter sound practical policy,” said George Siy, SHDA Board Governor-Legislative Concerns. The two pending bills were the subject of a technical working group meeting under the Special Committee on Land Use. “We will all need to make our inputs known to help craft a Land Use Planning structure good for the most number in our country, in a sustainable way, for decades to come. Given the open exchange and open minded approach of the sectors in the last Technical Working Group, this bill’s outcome may yet become a landmark in the way government, private sectors and NGOs/People’s Orgs may work together towards the good of all and the country,” added Siy. http://www.mb.com.ph/more‐multi‐sectoral‐reps‐in‐land‐use‐act‐urged/                    


Attributes and qualities of CEOs (Part I) by Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas  December 22, 2013  

There is such a dearth of qualified CEOs in the Philippine business environment that very many of the leading conglomerates keep on recycling CEOs from one subsidiary to another all the way to ages beyond 70. This is one reason why the University of Asia and the Pacific decided to ask the help of one of the leading business schools in the world, the IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain to mount an Advanced Management Program oriented towards developing future CEOs among executives in their forties or fifties (or even younger if they happen to be the children of the owners and are destined to be CEOs of family corporations). In a recent trip to Barcelona to accompany some Southeast Asian executives for their last one-week module held at the IESE Business School, I had the fortune of interviewing the Dean of IESE himself, Dr. Jordi Canals, who has written a good number of best sellers on top management or executive education. I was doubly lucky because he gave me an autographed copy of his book entitled Building Respected Companies. The book is a must reading for business enterprises, both big and small, that want to survive in the rapidly changing environment of the Asian Century for at least the next twenty years and beyond. This long-term sustainability is impossible without the leadership of CEOs and other senior executives who take a very long-term view of their businesses. Dr. Canals has enumerated the attributes and qualities of a CEO that would guarantee the building of an institution that will survive the test of time. I would like to see more top executives in the Philippine business environment with these attributes and qualities. According to Dr. Canals, the job of a CEO differs from that of a functional manager in various ways. A CEO must cultivate a comprehensive, integrative view of the organization and avoid taking a partial, functional or divisional approach to problems, challenges or solutions. As an independent director in the boards of a number of leading Philippine enterprises, I have observed that it is often difficult for the CFOs, CMOs, CPOs, CIOs or even the Human Resource Managers to transition from their functional responsibilities to the position of the Chief Executive Officer. They fail to realize that the CEO must orient the organization toward the long term, beyond short-term fluctuations, and contribute to the enterprise’s long-term success and survival, beyond any failures in individual business units. Even functional managers with their MBAs from leading business schools here or abroad find it hard to accept the fact that CEO does not need to know more about finance than the CFO or more about technology than the CTO, but must be able to engage in a rigorous debate on any of these subjects. It takes time and a lot of trial and error for functional managers to assume the role of leading and working with the top management team and securing its commitment to the company’s purposes: this is one of his core tasks. In the view of Dr. Canals, the first attribute that a CEO should develop is a long-term perspective not only of markets, customers, products or competitors, but of all the areas and functions that help a firm become an institution: a mission, a set of values, a group of professionals, an organization and, of course, customers who have needs and who expect goods or service, which


must be provided as efficiently as possible and at a profit. A good long-term strategy must be executed efficiently day to day. The CEO must be capable of looking to the long term and, at the same time, ensuring the proper quality in executing the different plans and policies. A CEO must have a general management perspective. This means that he should have an integrated and holistic view of the organization as well as a good knowledge of the various functions, divisions and people. A CEO must combine an understanding of each of the company’s units, divisions and functions with a thorough grasp of the whole organization. This is the only way that the CEO can help to develop the firm as an institution that will live beyond his term. This view is the general management perspective which looks at the long term while managing the short term. A good CEO constantly thinks of the firm’s future, how the firm has to change over the next years and how the change has to be implemented. At the same time, longterm plans have to be considered simultaneously with the design of new plans and ideas and their implementation in the short term. (To be continued) http://www.mb.com.ph/attributes-and-qualities-of-ceos-part-i/

                           


Immigration, Pagasa appointments now permanent By Michael Lim Ubac  Philippine Daily Inquirer   3:21 am | Sunday, December 22nd, 2013    

President Benigno Aquino lll. AP FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III has finally signed the appointment papers of Immigration Commissioner Siegfred B. Mison and Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) Administrator Vicente B. Malano. Both are currently serving as officers-in-charge of their respective bureaus. Mison’s permanent appointment was signed on Dec. 18, while Malano’s paper was signed the following day, said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte in a radio interview. Mison, who was appointed associate commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in 2011, replaced Ricardo David who quit last July. Like father like son Mison is a son of former Customs commissioner Salvador Mison. Malano replaced Nathaniel Servando who resigned in June to take on a teaching post in the Middle East. Mr. Aquino returned Nonnatus Cesar R. Rojas to his previous post in the prosecution service. Rojas, who resigned as director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in September following President Aquino’s statements to the Inquirer that tended to cast doubt on the NBI’s integrity, has been appointed Prosecutor 5 (Regional Prosecutor) in Region 1 (Ilocos). : http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/550595/immigration‐pagasa‐appointments‐now‐ permanent#ixzz2oGRscmIz   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook 


Borrowers told to pay loans even if banks have closed By Allan Nawal  Inquirer Mindanao   6:02 pm | Saturday, December 21st, 2013  

DAVAO CITY – Borrowers of banks that have been shut down or closed by the government for various reasons should continue to pay their loan amortizations and other obligations, according to the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. PDIC said the closure of these banks did not free borrowers from their obligations and they still have to pay their debts to the last centavo. The state insurer issued a statement on this subject in the wake of yet another bank succumbing to insolvency, the Sarangani Rural Bank in General Santos City. “The receiver of the closed Sarangani Rural Bank and other banks remind borrowers to continue to pay their loans,” the PDIC said in a statement issued on Friday. However, the state insurance company warned borrowers against dealing with individuals claiming to be bank or PDIC representatives. “Borrowers should only pay their loans and other obligations directly at any Philippine National Bank (PNB) branch,” it said. PDIC said in the case of borrowers of the SRB, the account name to be used is “PDIC FAO BURL – SARANGANI RURAL BANK with Reference Number 3730949-00013.” “(PDIC) has discontinued the engagement of the bank’s collectors. PDIC has not engaged any person to collect the loans of the bank,” it added. The Monetary Board placed SRB, a single unit bank operating in General Santos City, under PDIC receivership on December 5 after it was found to lack the resources to meet its liabilities, P45.57 million of which was in the form of deposits. Its closure surprised its more than 2,000 depositors, mostly market vendors, as it was one of the oldest rural banks there and celebrated its 55th anniversary a few months earlier. Since the start of the year, PDIC has been taking over rural banks and other financial institutions deemed insolvent or suspected to have engaged in anomalous transactions. In November, PDIC took over such banks as the Rural Bank of Alaminos (Laguna), Inc.; the Rural Bank of Catubig (Northern Samar); the Rural Bank of Hagonoy; Rural Bank of Gainza (Camarines Sur) and Rural Bank of Majayjay (Laguna); and the Rural Bank of Sto. Tomas (Davao del Norte). : http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/550409/borrowers‐told‐to‐pay‐loans‐even‐if‐banks‐have‐ closed#ixzz2oGSDX4QC    


INQUIRER MINDANAO 

Small miners won’t stop mercury use By Frinston L. Lim  Inquirer Mindanao   11:05 pm | Saturday, December 21st, 2013  

MINERS extract gold from crushed ore using mercury at a gold-processing plant in Pasian village, Monkayo, Compostela Valley. Pasian is 36 kilometers from Mt. Diwalwal, a gold-rich village where mercury is still widely used for catching gold by artisanal mining in spite of a worldwide ban. FRINSTON L. LIM MONKAYO, Compostela Valley—With a piece of cloth, Demetria Durano squeezes out a whitish object the size of a matchstick head from a shallow basin. Using a kilogram of mercury, she captures 5 grams of gold—worth P5,500—from a 45-kg bag of milled ore. The 51-year-old woman works on the top floor of her three-story house in Sitio Summit, Mt. Diwata village, in Monkayo, Davao del Norte. In the basement is a jewelry display store and a makeshift ball mill, rolling drums where ore from the tunnels is crushed and milled. Like most residents of the gold-rich village of Diwata, popularly known as Diwalwal, Durano crudely extracts gold from milled ore by using mercury, a highly toxic heavy metal. Almost daily, many of the estimated 18,000 small-scale miners in Diwalwal handle mercury and other deadly chemicals with bare hands and no protective masks, in spite of warnings by health authorities about the danger.


No clear alternative “I’ve been doing this (handling mercury) since my mid-20s, when I first came here from Cebu,” said Durano, who settled to Diwalwal shortly after the gold boom in 1984. A cousin had made it big there. Starting from picking discarded ore, or “wastes,” outside tunnel portals honeycombing the 1,000meter-high, 729-hectare village, Durano was able to put up three ball mills and her current multistory house and own a tunnel, which employs dozens of small-time miners. “With God’s help, nothing has happened to my health. I’m OK,” the mother of three grown-ups said. Mercury use in Diwalwal is certain to stir controversy in the small-scale mining community which, at its peak in 1987, swelled to more than 200,000 people. Only last month, the Philippines signed an international accord banning the use of the toxic metal. Efforts to ditch mercury in favor of safe methods of extracting gold have been pushed by municipal officials as early as 2000, but the lack of a clear alternative is a problem, according to Mayor Joselito Brillantes. Benguet and other areas with small-scale mining communities have long abandoned the use of quicksilver and resorted to borax and other safe methods of gold extraction. “With mercury, miners can extract gold more efficiently. At three or four bags of good-grade ore, they can already catch at least 5 g [of gold],” Brillantes explained. Stiff resistance The mayor acknowledged that exposure to mercury was too big a health risk and the local government had tried to stop its use in Diwalwal. A cease-and-desist order was issued by the local government in 2001, “but there was resistance from small-scale miners,” he said. “They refused to change their methods.” The fight against mercury use was started by the incumbent mayor’s brother, Joel, who was mayor in 2001 until his murder. “We suspected that his firm stand against mercury use may have angered many miners, leading to his murder,” Brillantes said. The mayor’s family owns JB Management and Mining Corp., one of the biggest “medium-scale” mining firms in Diwalwal. The continued use of mercury in Diwalwal could be a test case for the Philippine enforcement of the United Nations-backed Minamata Convention, an international treaty that seeks to ban mercury use in over 130 countries. The accord, named after the Japanese city devastated by massive mercury poisoning in 1956, aims to eventually phase out mercury use by 2020.


According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), metallic mercury is deadly especially when its vapors are inhaled. “This exposure can occur when elemental (metallic) mercury is spilled or products containing mercury break and expose mercury to the air, particularly in warm or poorly ventilated indoor spaces,” the EPA said on its website. Symptoms of mercury poisoning include tremors, emotional changes or mood swings, insomnia, neuromuscular changes such as weakness, twitching, headaches, cognitive performance deficits, among others. In extreme cases, mercury poisoning destroys kidneys or lungs leading to death. High risk Infants and children exposed to mercury have a high risk of impaired neurological development. President Aquino issued Executive Order No. 79 last year, banning the use of mercury in smallscale mining. Tests conducted by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (Unido) and the Department of Health (DOH) in early 2000 revealed high mercury contamination in Diwalwal, exacerbated by improper disposal of mercury-laced mine wastes, local health officials and residents said. Mercury has also contaminated streams, waterfalls, rivers and other water sources of the village, and the people had to draw drinking water from a source 10 kilometers away, using hoses, said Lito Adlawan, another longtime resident. “Mercury and other mining chemicals are poisoning the village, slowly killing us,” said Adlawan, 45, a jewelry maker. “It’s high time the government acts in helping solve the pollution problem in Diwalwal.” A study by UK experts in late 1999 revealed mercury pollutants from Diwalwal streams flowed down to the Naboc River in Barangay Naboc, over 12 km away and contaminated rice paddies there. Up to 90 milligrams of mercury was found per kilogram of silt in the river. Rice, fish and mussels from the area were found contaminated with mercury. Up to 38 percent of Naboc residents were also found to be “mercury intoxicated” after consuming rice and fish contaminated with the heavy metal. Unhealthy place Adlawan said the government should be firm on stopping the use of mercury. Mercury is illegal, but in Diwalwal and in other mining areas in Compostela Valley, the metal is being sold in the black market for P5,000 to P8,000 per kilogram .


“The government should intervene and not be content with maximum tolerance,” Adlawan said in an interview late last month. Health and local authorities warned that the high concentration of mercury and other chemicals used by over 100 ore-crushing plants have made Diwalwal an almost inhospitable place. “It’s really not healthy to stay there,” said Sarah Tanghian, municipal administrator. Tanghian said the government had drawn up a plan to relocate the gold-processing plants from Diwalwal to Sitio Mebatas in Upper Ulip village, 5 km from the foot of the gold-rich mountain. A P20-million tailings dam in a 5-ha area in Mebatas, was finished in 2003 but miners and goldprocessing plant owners refused to use it, officials said. Easy money Edilberto Arreza, Southern Mindanao director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, said the Mebatas tailings dam was built as a long-term solution to the pollution in Diwalwal caused by mercury and other mine wastes dumped in the village’s waterways. But for Diwalwal folk, the lure of easy money is hard to resist. For Aljun Bulacoy, using mercury is the only expedient way for miners to extract gold. The 18-year-old works as an operator of a six-drum ball mill in Diwalwal’s Patindol area, milling muck ores for 30 minutes and treating this with mercury—a technique locally known as “bubbling.” He is paid P5,000 per batch of “ore loading,” or after milling some 300 bags of ore. Each bag weighs 45 kg. In a month, he can process up to 600 bags. “We capture as much as 60 percent of the gold from ore waste using mercury,” said Bulacoy, who has been into the trade for just over a year, as he poured mercury from the edge of a shallow basin to a cough syrup bottle, before tightly turning the cap. Asked why he wasn’t wearing a protective mask or gloves, Bulacoy replied, “It’s cumbersome.” Durano, the ball mill owner, gave a similar reason for not wearing protective gear. “I’m taking enough vitamins, just in case. And I always see to it my children do not come near the ball mills or whenever I’m doing the processing,” the woman said. Health workers Durano, however, admitted that decades of exposure to mercury have resulted in “throbbing headaches and I tend to be forgetful at times.”


Health teams from Unido and the DOH gave detoxification treatment to several Diwalwal residents in 2000 following results of tests validating mercury contamination in the gold-rich village, said Charlita Baluis, resident sanitary inspector in Diwalwal from 1993 to 2000. “Four of my colleagues at the village health unit who were found to have high mercury levels in their bodies were treated,” Baluis said. She admitted that she, too, was found to be contaminated by the heavy metal, but declined the detox for fear that the drug used in the process could complicate her asthma. She, instead, requested that she be treated at the municipal health office at the town proper, some 29 km from Diwalwal. Baluis said she used to experience headaches and tremors, or involuntary muscle movements, which could be symptoms of mercury poisoning. “Alternative treatment slowly cured me as the symptoms are now gone,” she said. At least a dozen miners were randomly picked and detoxified, an almost negligible number compared to the total village population of 40,000 that time. Due to the costs of treatment (P35,000 per patient), the medical mission has not been repeated. Squandered health The health worker said adequate health awareness and education campaigns about mercury have been conducted in Diwalwal, but residents there seem incorrigible. “And who can blame them? What’s important for them is to earn money for their families as quickly as possible. Using mercury, they can already process a bag of ore into a 5-g gold in a matter of minutes,” Baluis said. She said people in Diwalwal tended to “squander their health in search of wealth.” “After years of digging, they may find wealth but they get sick, so they squander that newfound wealth to search for health,” Baluis said. Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/550493/small‐miners‐wont‐stop‐mercury‐use#ixzz2oGUesU00   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook         


New UP tuition system in 2014 By Julie M. Aurelio  Philippine Daily Inquirer   10:58 pm | Saturday, December 21st, 2013  

PASCUAL The University of the Philippines (UP) has adopted a new socialized tuition system which officials said would shorten the application process and make the premier state university more accessible to students from low-income families. The Socialized Tuition System (STS) classifies students based on income brackets that have been adjusted for inflation but with the same tuition rates. It also increases the allowances for those in the lowest bracket. In a statement, UP President Alfredo Pascual said the new scheme would replace the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP), which was established in 1989. The STS was approved by the UP Board of Regents, the university’s highest decision-making body, in a meeting on Nov. 28. Pascual said the new scheme would be implemented starting next semester and apply to incoming freshmen for Academic Year 2014-2015. He said he initiated the reform of the tuition scheme upon assuming office in 2011. The old socialized tuition scheme has been criticized for its long application process, the frequent mismatch between the students’ assigned brackets and their actual financial standing, and the inadequate benefits allotted for students in the lowest income bracket. The changes introduced by the STS include a simpler basis for assigning tuition brackets, inflation adjustments, an increase in the monthly stipend for the poorest students, and a streamlined appeals process.


Application now online The STS application form, for example, covers only two pages, whereas the STFAP form has 14. The new application process, which sometimes took up to 10 months in the past, will be done online for faster results. The new scheme also uses only two indicators to determine the bracket assignments of students in need of assistance: the declared household income and the system used by the Marketing and Opinion Research Society of the Philippines in classifying households in the country. Another change is the upward adjustment of the income cutoffs for brackets A, B, C and D. For example, the income cutoff for bracket A, the top grouping, was P1 million and higher under the STFAP. The STS has adjusted it to P1,300,001 and higher. For bracket B, the cutoff is now from P650,001 to P1.3 million under the STS; for bracket C, P325,001 to P650,000, and for bracket D, P135,001 to P325,000. The income cutoffs for brackets E1 and E2, the lowest brackets, remain at P80,001 to P135,000, and P80,000 and lower, respectively. “The new income range of the tuition brackets is adjusted upward by 30 percent to address the drift toward upper brackets, as income rises due to inflation,” Pascual explained, noting that the adjustment would lower the tuition bracket assignment of many students. The tuition rates will remain the same under the STS, he added. The new scheme also increased the monthly allowance for bracket E2 students from P2,400 to P3,500 a month for 10 months a year. The STS is expected to cost UP at least P300 million in reduced tuition income and additional stipend payments, Pascual said. Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/550461/new‐up‐tuition‐system‐in‐2014#ixzz2oGUpJrSL   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook           


Meralco told: Hold off extra rate hikes By Alena Mae S. Flores | Dec. 22, 2013 at 12:03am The Energy Regulatory Commission has directed Manila Electric Co. to maintain the generation charge for its January 2014 billing at P7.37 per kilowatthour amid concerns of more price spikes next month as a result of the Malampaya platform shutdown. The ERC, in an order dated December 20, was reacting to a letter from the country’s power distributor expressing its concerns on the possibility that it might have to raise its generation charge for January 2014. The order was signed by four commissioners headed by chairman Zenaida Cruz Ducut, who was also implicated in the pork barrel scam during her term as congressman. Members of the ERC include Alfred Non, Gloria Victoria Yap Taruc and Josefina Patricia Magpale-Asirit. Meralco president Oscar Reyes earlier said he was “concerned” over the remaining impact of the Malampaya shutdown on the power rates. Meralco pegged the January generation charge at P7.37 per kWh taking into account the 10-day shutdown of the Malampaya platform which was not factored in the December billing The Malampaya shutdown started November 11 but Meralco’s billing period covers the November 26 to December 25 billing period. “We are concerned with that estimate. We will use the actual generation charge (in the January generation charge) and there will be no additional or reduction in the charges,” Reyes said. “Even as we may expect the generation cost and the WESM (Wholesale Electricity Spot Market) charges, volatile as they are, to drift down to more normal levels in March 2014, rendering this a temporary blip for now, we are still challenged by new/additional power outages which have risen in the last two weeks in the January billing,” Reyes said. Citing its mandate “to ensure the adequate promotion of the consumer interest as well as its responsibility to ensure that no abuse of market power was committed by any of the participants in the spot market, the ERC directed Meralco to defer “the imposition of any further generation charge adjustment.” The order has the effect of reining in Meralco’s generation charge of P7.37 per kWh in its January billing even if its calculated generation charge for the January billing, based on the ERC’s Automatic Generation Rate Adjustment Rules, will be higher. The deferment order issued also modifies the earlier clearance granted to Meralco for it to impose a generation charge of P1 per kWh in its February 2014 billing and P0.44 per kWh in its March 2014 billing, to recover the generation cost it deferred in its December 2013 billing.


The ERC cited “the severe impact that any further adjustment may cause the consumers within the franchise of MERALCO” and invoked the exception clause under its Automated Generation Rate Adjustment Rules, which states that “where good cause appears, the Commission may allow an exemption from any provision of these Rules, if such is found to be in the public interest and is not contrary to law or any other related rules and regulations.” The order further emphasized that even while Meralco is able to implement adjustments in its generation charge, the ERC, “in observance of due process,” will still “undertake a confirmation process” that will “safeguard the generation charges that will be passed on to its consumers pass the test of prudence and reasonable economic cost incurred and that [it] procured its supply requirement in the least cost manner.” The ERC directed Meralco to separately apply with the regulatory for approval of a recovery scheme for its unrecovered generation costs and was given 90 days to do so. Reyes also said Meralco is open to any investigation regarding allegations of collusion but is only waiting for the regulators to come up with the findings. The Energy Department has vowed to come out with the result of its investigation by December 30. Reyes said it would be up to the government to decide what to do if and when the allegations are proved true but assured that Meralco consumers can always demand a refund if necessary. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/12/22/meralco‐told‐hold‐off‐extra‐rate‐hikes/                      


Job fair targets 100,000 workers By Vito Barcelo | Dec. 22, 2013 at 12:02am The International Labor Organization and the Philippine government will hold job fairs in Eastern Visayas a bid to provide jobs to at least 100,000 workers who are among the 5.9 million displaced by Typhoon Yolanda.The Labor department and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, together with ILO, local employers and recruitment agencies conducted the job fairs initially in Ormoc.Out of the more than 1,700 people who attended the two-day job fair in Ormoc City, 171 were hired on the spot. Another 970 were considered as qualified, but their applications needed to be processed further, according to ILO team leader Frances Fierst. “About 3 million affected workers were employed in the service sector when the typhoon struck on November. Over one third of them, or roughly 1.9 million workers, were in agriculture, and around 16 per cent in the industry sector,” Fierst said.“The job fair is a great way for the government to reach out and assist this specific group of affected workers,” the ILO official said. Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the DoLE will hold job fairs in Tacloban in the first week of January 2014.In addition to local employment opportunities, Baldoz said that the Philippine Overseas Employment Authority will also provide information about the challenges of working abroad, including tips on avoiding illegal recruiters and traffickers. ILO said the disaster has brought death and destruction to the Philippines, but the reconstruction phase is an opportunity to build back better and ensure that people are not left vulnerable or exploited. “Initiatives such as the job fair and efforts of local businesses to rebuild local employment and to restore livelihoods complement the emergency employment programmes that the ILO, together with the government, is helping to implement,” Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines said. Over 20,000 workers who lost their livelihoods are taking part in these program, rebuilding the communities while working in decent and safe conditions. “Ensuring decent work for one person can support an entire family and boost the local economy. This means we would have changed the lives of 100,000 people by the end of this year,” added Johnson. The ILO’s approach goes beyond an immediate short-term emergency employment, he said. The program will transition to medium-term labour-based community work, skills training and enterprise development, he said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/12/22/job‐fair‐targets‐100‐000‐workers/  


Hard habit to break? Cotabato smokers still at it — survey By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Dec. 22, 2013 at 12:01am Since the implementation of the sin tax law, smokers in Cotabato kept the habit, but a minimal number of them cut down on smoking by an average of 24 sticks a week, the Department of Health said on Friday. The DOH survey of tobacco consumers was conducted among 309 smokers in Cotabato City in November 2013. Among the smokers surveyed by a team from the DOH and Action for Economic Reforms, 131 respondents or 42.4% claimed they had cut down on their cigarette consumption, while 130 persons or 42.1% attested to smoking the same amount of tobacco. Interestingly, 41 respondents or 13.3% increased their tobacco consumption despite the increased prices. Weekly cigarette consumption of Cotabato smokers dropped 24.4 sticks on the average, while 7 respondents or 2.3% reported that they quit smoking altogether. The DOH quick survey in Cotabato City builds upon a continuing initiative of AER to gauge the impact of the Sin Tax Law on Filipino smokers. Since the first quarter of 2013, AER has been conducting interviews and focused group discussions with smokers from different sectors, in order to assess changes in their smoking consumption since the implementation of R.A. 10351. AER Senior economist Jo-Ann Latuja said the DOH and AER are now assessing the health impact of the first year of the sin tax law by surveying cigarette consumers who have lessened their smoking activities since January. “One trend that we have observed has been that higher tobacco taxes have deterred smoking, even as some downshifting to lower-priced cigarettes has occurred,� she said. The quick survey and interview findings, Latuja said are not the only sign that the first wave of annual cigarette tax increases mandated by the sin tax law is slightly driving down smoking in the Philippines. In a market survey conducted by Nielsen in the first half of 2012, smoking prevalence in the country allegedly decreased from 52 to 46 percent with the implementation of the sin tax law.


“What the evidence shows is that the sin tax law has brought about clear health gains for Filipinos in 2013, by making it more challenging for Filipino smokers to keep up their levels of tobacco use,” she added. “Even while the full benefits of the law are yet to be felt, we can already say that the law is beginning to save lives by causing Filipinos to quit and reduce tobacco smoking despite its highly addictive nature.” “Given that further tax increases that will come about annually until 2017, we can expect that even more Filipino smokers’ lives will be saved in the years to come,” she said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/12/22/hard‐habit‐to‐break‐cotabato‐smokers‐still‐at‐ it‐survey/                                  


18 officials named By Vito Barcelo | Dec. 22, 2013 at 12:01am MALACAÑANG finally released the long-pending appointment papers of Bureau of Immigration officer-in-charge Siegfred Mison along with five other executive officials and 13 police generals. Mison has been the bureau’s OIC since the resignation of Ricardo David last July because of numerous controversies, including the escape of Palawan governor Joel Reyes, his brother Mario Reyes and other high-profile fugitives. Mison, a graduate of the United States Military Academy, is the son of former Customs commissioner Salvador Mison and nephew of former National Bureau of Investigation director Mariano Mison. The Palace also announced the appointment of former NBI director Nonnatus Cesar R. Rojas as regional prosecutor of the Ilocos region, after he resigned from the NBI in September. Aside from Mison and Rojas, Deputy Presidential Spokeswoman Abigail Valte also announced the appointment of Vicente B. Malano as acting administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration. Valte said Florita R. Villar was also appointed undersecretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development on Dec. 18 while Gregorio Ramon A. Tingson was appointed commissioner of the National Youth Commission. The Palace also released the appointment of Dominador H. Santos, Jr as member of the Board of dentistry under the Professional Regulation Commission. The same time, the Philippine National Police announced the promotion of 13 police generals, led by Director Marcelo P Garbo of the PNP Directorial Staff and Director Francisco Don C Montenegro of the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management. Also promoted were to chief superintendent were Supt. Wilfredo D. Franco, Supt. Noli G. Taliño, Supt. Rene D. Ong, Supt. Ted Pedronisto A. Quiaño, Supt. Reuben Theodore C. Sindac, Supt. Ferdinand P. Yuzon, Supt. Manuel Cesar A. Prieto, Supt. Augusto M. Marquez Jr., Supt. Antonio B. Viernes, Supt. Rolando E. Asuncion, and Supt. David Y. Ombao. With Ronald O. Reyes and Francisco Tuyay http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/12/22/18-officials-named/


Showing the way By Manila Standard Today | Dec. 22, 2013 at 12:01am

A traffic enforcer at Tomas Morato Avenue in Quezon City directs private vehicles to designated Christmas lanes which aim to divert vehicles from the heavy traffic on major roads during the shopping season. MANNY PALMERO http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/12/22/showing-the-way/


Tired Miriam files most bills December 22, 2013 1:13 am   by NEIL A. ALCOBER REPORTER SEN. Miriam Defensor-Santiago still managed to file the highest number of bills and resolutions in the Senate, despite being afflicted with chronic fatigue syndrome. Santiago has topped the list of senators who filed the most number of legislations in the Senate, while her nemesis Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile—with whom she has a running word war—filed the lowest number of bills and resolutions for the same period. A document from the Senate legislative bills and index service indicated that Santiago, a perennial topnotcher, filed 618 bills and resolutions, while Enrile filed only 16 such measures. Trailing behind Santiago are Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and Sen. Antonio Trillanes with 543 and 249 bills and resolutions filed, respectively. Joining Enrile in the bottom 3 senators are Sen. Vicente Sotto, 30; and Senate President Franklin Drilon, 31. The official score released by the Senate shows that the bedridden Santiago continued to work hard in her home office. She has also made forays to the Senate, notably when she inter-pellated Janet Napoles, one of the alleged masterminds of the pork barrel scam. As chair of the foreign affairs committee of the Commission on Appointments, she also appeared in the Senate to personally preside over the confirmation of the biggest batch of ambassadors this year. Chronic fatigue syndrome has caused Santiago to lose her sense of balance, and although she has continued her extra-ordinary speaking tour of Metro Manila universities, she chro-nically obviously suffers from shortness of breath. As the first Filipino to be elected judge of the International Criminal Court, Santiago was due to resign from the Senate this year, and transfer residence to The Hague, Netherlands. But her plans are on hold, while she continues to struggle against chronic fatigue syndrome, which has no known cause, and no known cure. Senate observers have noted that Santiago usually files the highest number of measures every year, and in addition conducts the highest number of interpellations during plenary sessions. http://manilatimes.net/tired-miriam-files-most-bills/62498/


Mison named BI chief December 22, 2013 12:41 am   President Benigno Aquino 3rd has appointed Siegfred Mison as the new commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration (BI). Mison’s appointment was signed by the President on December 18, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday. Mison said his appointment was an early Christmas gift from the President. The new BI head graduated from the United States Military Academy at WestPoint in New York. He obtained his law degree at the Ateneo De Manila University and earned his masters of law at a university in Southern California. The President also appointed former National Bureau of Investigation chief Nonnatus Cesar R. Rojas as Regional Prosecutor for the Office of the Regional Prosecutor in Ilocos Region. The Office of the Regional Prosecutor is under the National Prosecution Service of the Department of Justice. The President also designated Vicente B. Malano as acting administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), and Florita R. Villar as undersecretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Other appointees include Gregorio Ramon A. Tingson as commissioner of the National Youth Commission in Luzon, and Dominador Santos Jr. as new member of the Board of Dentistry under the Professional Regulations Commission. Robertzon Ramirez, PNA http://manilatimes.net/mison-named-bi-chief/62468/


‘Pope Francis this year’s biggest grace’ December 22, 2013 12:40 am   by Robertzon F. Ramirez Reporter THE Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) considers Pope Francis as the biggest grace this year. CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said that the election of Pope Francis in March as the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church was “refreshing.” He said the Pope is a good example of a true leader because “the way he speaks, the way he acts, and the way he lives is down to earth.” “We are reminded by the presence of God. In the 1960’s, Pope Paul VI already said that what the world needs now are not preachers and teachers and speakers … what the world needs now are witnesses and examples, and if teachers and speakers will be credible, it’s because they have first been good examples and Pope Francis is that,” Villegas said. Pope Francis appointed Father Narciso Abellan as the fifth bishop in Romblon and Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Julio Cortes as the new Dumaguete bishop. The Pope has called on priests to become true leaders of the Church by living a simple life. Villegas, who was elected as the new CBCP president in July, has urged the Catholic laity to take action and help end the twin problems of poverty and bad politics. Leaders of the Catholic Church were alarmed by recent reports of corruption and abuse of the people’s money. Bishops and priests have participated in protests and rallies against corruption, especially after the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel involving Janet Lim Napoles came to light. Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Yniguez Jr. had said that the protests against pork barrel will not stop until it is scrapped, but Nueva Segovia Archbishop Ernesto Salgado believed that the abolition of the pork barrel won’t end corruption in the country. In November, the Supreme Court ruled that pork barrel of lawmakers is unconstitutional. http://manilatimes.net/pope-francis-this-years-biggest-grace/62466/


LIFE SANS PORK Published : Sunday, December 22, 2013 00:00   Written by : Jester Manalastas  

STARTING 2014, aside from crafting laws the lawmakers will also follow-up with different agencies their proposed projects to ensure they are being implemented. This is according to Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, following the signing of the porkless 2014 national budget amounting to P2.265 trillion. The supposed P70 million Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of each congressman was entrusted to at least six government agencies that will provide the basic needs of the people. “While ang task is to legislate, I’m sure magpupunta punta na rin yan, para na ring pulubi yan, na pupunta sa kani-kaniyang mga departments titignan na rin kung paano matutunghayan ang kanilang problema sa kanilang distrito,” Gonzales said. Members of the House of Representatives agreed to just realign their total pork of P25.4 billion to the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development and Department of Labor and Employment. Lawmakers submitted proposals for infrastructure projects to comply with the Supreme Court decision that it is illegal for the lawmakers to engage in the completion of PDAF-related projects or in post-enactment identification. But Gonzales said lawmakers have no choice but to ensure that their constituents or districts will benefit from the projects.


“Whether you like it or not, ang katotohanan people also look at the executive function of a congressman,” Gonzales said. “Totoo din naman na kahit magdebate ang mga Congressman, gumawa ng batas kahit papano, at the end of the day hahanapan din ng mga constituents. kasi you do not expect naman the national government to answer all the concerns of each and every district because hindi naman malalaman ng national kung ano talaga ang mga pangangailangan,” the House leader said. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/headlines/64046‐life‐sans‐pork                                    


Group says smuggled rice from Davao may flood market Category: Agri-Commodities 19 Dec 2013 Written by Alladin S. Diega / Correspondent ACTIVISTS raised an alarm on Thursday that smuggled rice seized by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in Davao in October of this year will likely be flooding the market in the run-up to the holiday season. Civil society group Alyansa Agrikultura and Action Network (R1) based such scenario on an order by a Branch 16 Regional Trial Court judge ordering the release of 167x20 containers where the sacks of rice were stored. According to R1 leader Ernesto Ordoñez, the 14-page mandatory injunction was signed on December 12 by presiding judge Emmanuel C. Carpio. “However, we only learned of it just yesterday, thus, this press briefing,” Carpio explained. He said Carpio’s ruling ordered the provincial BOC to release the sacks of rice to Joseph M. Ngo, a local rice trader, citing quantitative restriction (QR) on rice importation as non-existent by virtue of the ongoing World Trade Organization (WTO) renegotiation on the rice preferential treatment for the Philippines. The court order provided justification by saying such treatment has relapsed last year, according to Ordoñez. In a telephone interview, Dennis R. Arpia of the National Food Authority (NFA) said that “that the agency [NFA] is in constant communication with the BOC and with the Department of Finance regarding the matter.” Pressed for NFA’s position, Arpia said: “It’s very simple.” “Under the Philippine law, the importation of rice is within NFA’s responsibility, and in cases of importation by other entity, the agency only ‘delegates’ some of its task through the issuance of permit.” Ordoñez alleges that the Davao RTC judge favored the contention of Ngo’s lawyer “since the Philippine government is currently negotiating for new extension on the quantitative restrictions from the WTO agreement.” He added that the WTO provision restricts the entry of foreign agricultural products, which the country deems harmful to the domestic industry. A second agreement in 2007 has ended last year, and the country is currently negotiating for an extension. The negotiation is now bilateral, according to Aurora Regalado, convener of R1.


“This means that the Philippines has to directly negotiate with WTO members that export agricultural products, such as India, Thailand, Canada, Pakistan and the United States.” Regalado added: “These countries, however, are using the QR issue to push for their agricultural products in exchange for giving the Philippines preferential treatment on rice imports.” Ordoñez said that while it is true that the quantitative restriction is being negotiated within the WTO, “we have our own law that restricts the entry of rice from other country.” “Hence, the creation of the NFA, which was specifically tasked to protect the rice industry and has the exclusive mandate to import rice.” He added: “We haven’t changed our law, for the reason that our farmers, particularly rice farmers, need protection and the WTO members, at least some of them, understand this because they are not forcing us to change our domestic law on this, and why am sure of this—they haven’t penalized us.” In October some 403 container vans of rice purportedly for Starcraft Trading Corp. were seized in Davao by the BOC through the request of the NFA. Ordoñez said that Carpio issued the ruling upon Starcraft Trading’s payment of bond amounting to P5 million. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri‐commodities/24597‐group‐says‐ smuggled‐rice‐from‐davao‐may‐flood‐market        

2013 12 22 quedancor daily news monitor  
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