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‘Document links DA, NFA chiefs to smuggling’ By Ding Cervantes (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 27, 2014 - 12:00am

ANGELES CITY , Philippines – Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and administrator Oscar Calayag of the National Food Authority (NFA) are being implicated in rice smuggling. The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said Alcala and Calayag made it appear that rice smugglers operate underground when, in fact, they had granted them import permits. Willy Marbella, KMP deputy secretary-general, said the NFA could not have issued import permits to rice importers if they do not know the people behind them. Rice smugglers and their dummies likewise cannot secure an import permit if they don’t have connections to powerful and influential people like Alcala and Calayag, he said. “Alcala and Calayag’s political role-playing is over. Calayag’s list shows that all along the NFA and the DA know the identity of rice smugglers because they are the ones who provided legal cover for them. Alcala and Calayag should now stop fooling the Filipino people.” Marbella said the modus operandi of rice cartels and smugglers of using farmers’ cooperatives as dummies is an open secret inside the NFA. “Obviously, this multimillion peso racket in the rice industry is happening with the blessings of the President for his favorite cabinet secretary,” he said. The KMP furnished the media with a document that the NFA had submitted to the House of Representatives during the budget deliberations last year on the status of the importation of well-

milled rice under the Country Specific Quota (CSQ) of 163,000 metric tons for the year 2013 undertaken by the private sector and farmers organizations. Signed by Calayag, the two-page document states: “As of Sept. 3, 2013, we (NFA) were able to issue import permits (IP) to five entities out of 31 applicant importers.” On top of the list of those import permits was Starcraft International Trading Corp. allegedly owned by Davidson Bangayan. Also in the list were San Miguel MPC, Bold Bidder Marketing and General Mdse., InterContinental Grains International Trading, Inc., and Kwin Rice Trading. The KMP said Bangayan was shown to be connected with Starcraft during the Senate committee on agriculture’s hearing last Wednesday. “In the same hearing, Bold Bidder Marketing was mentioned by a Customs official for acquiring an injunction order from a court in Lemery, Batangas province even before the shipment ordered by the (Starcraft) company arrived,” KMP said. The KMP said that “the farmers-as-importers program is nothing but a legal cover (for) rice cartels and smugglers to corner the big bulk of rice importation.” “We demand that the DA and the NFA unmask the dummy farmer cooperatives in Calayag’s list and the rice cartels and smugglers behind them,” Marbella said. The KMP said the current rice trade liberalization policy implemented by the government has turned the Philippines into a dumping ground of imported rice. – With Michael Punongbayan, Czeriza Valencia‐links‐da‐nfa‐chiefs‐smuggling                  

Rice imports overprice reached P825 million — NBI, BOC By Jerry E. Esplanada Philippine Daily Inquirer 9:16 pm | Sunday, January 26th, 2014

INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines — The government’s rice imports from Vietnam in 2013—which totaled 705,700 metric tons or around 14.1 million bags of 50-kilogram long grain white rice—were allegedly overpriced by as much as $18.8 million (around P825.4 million), according to National Food Authority and Bureau of Customs insiders. Documents furnished the Philippine Daily Inquirer showed that some 205,700 MT of rice imports in April 2013 were overpriced by $34 per MT, while 500,000 MT imported in November were overpriced by $23.69. “Multiplying an unexplained difference of $34 by 205,700 MT amounts to $6,993,800. At the prevailing exchange rate of P43.50 to $1 at the time of purchase, we have a peso value of P304,230,300,” said the NFA source. The source, who asked not to be named for not having been authorized to speak to media, also said that in the November shipment, “if we multiply the $23.69 overprice by 500,000 metric tons, the unexplained difference would be $11,845,000.” When the government entered into rice supply contracts with Vietnam Southern Food Corp. (Vinafoods II), the prevailing import prices for Vietnamese rice in April and November were $425.70 and $438.56 per MT, respectively. These amounts included additional costs for freight ($25/MT), insurance ($5/MT) and delivery from the port of entry to the NFA warehouse ($30.70/MT). Vinafoods II is a Vietnamese government-owned corporation. But the NFA paid Vinafoods II $459.70 and $462.25 per metric ton for the shipments.

Several NFA insiders pointed out that in the US Department of Agriculture’s Grains Agricultural Information Report in late April 2013—the same period as NFA’s rice importation contract with Vinafoods II. “Vietnam rice averaged only $358.57 per metric ton.” The NFA Council, headed by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, approved the importation of 205,700 MT of rice in March 2013 and an additional 500,000 MT in November to “serve as a buffer stock for the December 2013-March 2014 period.” At this writing, Alcala had yet to respond to the Inquirer’s request for an interview. Copies of official documents obtained by this paper also pointed to other possible irregularities covering the shipments: * In three memorandums, lawyer Ramon Cuyco, customs director for collection service, observed that at least three rice shipments under the NFA’s regular rice importation program “arrived in the Philippines more than 30 days” before their importation documents were submitted to the Bureau of Customs. Two of the memos, both dated Sept. 16, were addressed to the customs district collector in the Port of Cebu. The third memo, also with the same date, was addressed to the district collector at the Port of General Santos City. All three shipments were promptly released by the BOC. * The rice shipments had already been ordered and shipped before the NFA secured the required approval from the government’s Fiscal Review Incentives Board (FIRB), which includes the Department of Finance, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Budget and Management, and the National Economic and Development Authority. Under its rules and regulations, the NFA cannot order rice imports until the FIRB gives the go-ahead for the tariff exemption. Said the source: “The fact that the NFA allowed the shipment even without prior clearance from the council or the FIRB is an indication of either a fear of a rice shortage or something anomalous.” * In the 2013 rice importation, the NFA limited the bid participants to only two countries, Vietnam and Thailand, both of which had earlier entered into rice supply agreements with the Philippines. The official added: “Clearly, the actions of the NFA were disadvantageous to the Philippine government.” Early this month, Alcala was accused by Sanlakas party-list president Argee Guevarra with receiving kickbacks from the April 2013 Vietnam rice importation. Sometime in January 2011, then NFA head Angelito Banayo disclosed that the rice imported during the last three years of the Arroyo administration were overpriced by $125 per metric ton.

Citing an audit of the 10-year importation record of the agency, he said its rice imports were overpriced by an average of $60 per metric ton. In a report to President Aquino, Banayo said the overprice from 2008 to 2010 accounted for 83.6 percent of the total amount of overprice in the 10-year period. He also said that fictitious cooperatives and corporations that took part in the purchase of cereals from abroad piggy-backed smuggled rice on the agency’s importation program. The huge overprice and excessive importation of rice pushed up the NFA debt to P177 billion, Banayo added.

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Re-examine rice importation policies, gov’t urged By Tetch Torres-Tupas 8:37 pm | Sunday, January 26th, 2014

AP FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines–A consumer group on Sunday called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to spearhead a review of the government’s rice importation policies and procedures. In a statement, Action for Consumerism and Transparency for Nation Building (Action) said “a re-examination of the government’s regulatory policies towards the importation of rice is clearly overdue. “Unless the legal loopholes are plugged, legitimate importers will be at the mercy of the whims of some government officials tailoring their interpretation of the law according to their own agenda/gains,” Ryann Baccay, director of Action said. Action said the DOJ’s review “should include the National Food Authorities’ (NFA) allowable rice imports in the country under the quantitative restriction (QR) quotas of the government, the private sector quota, the government to government rice trade, but should also recognize the rights, as well as, opportunities given to farmers’ cooperatives to import rice.” While the NFA allowed farmer cooperatives to import rice (on the premise that they are the ones to be inadvertently affected by the entry of cheaper rice import thus needed to be protected), the government must have forgotten to give the farmers credit facilities to allow them to participate in the importations by themselves, the group said.

Due to the volume of imports which needs huge capital, farmer cooperatives since year 2003 are forced to look for financiers or investors to avail themselves of the earning opportunities via rice importations, or worse, sell their import quota. “This system which was allowed and “encouraged” to flourish for more than a decade, by no less than the government thru the NFA has attracted some legitimate businessmen forging agreements with some farmer cooperatives.” But, Action noted, it has also been subject to abuse by smuggling syndicates. Action said, as it is, no specific restriction or legal obstruction that will prevent cooperatives to seek private financing or joint-venturing to benefit from their import quotas as long as they follow all the requirements of the NFA and the Bureau of Customs (BOC). Vice versa, there is also no impediment for some minor importers from cooperating or conducting business with farmer cooperatives. “Had the rules been clearer and definitive, legitimate businessmen would not have ventured into such,” Action added. Action also called on the Senate (presently having an inquiry into rice smuggling) to pass necessary laws that will address the import problems of the cooperatives. The group also committed to support reforms that are underway, to eradicate not just smuggling of rice but other commodities as well which will affect the competitiveness of local farmers.

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Gov’t increases budget for vital agriculture facilities to P770M Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:03 pm | Sunday, January 26th, 2014 The Department of Trade and Industry is increasing its budget for the Shared Service Facility program to P770 million this year, as it moves to further boost the competitiveness of the country’s micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in both the domestic and international markets. The budget is higher than the P700 million it earmarked earlier for the 2014 program. The amount would also be on top of the P700 million previously allocated in 2013, which was funneled to various projects across the country. Trade Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. noted that most of the projects would be agriculture- or rural-based, explaining that these have the potential to generate the most number of jobs. The move is seen to ensure inclusive growth, particularly in the countryside. Some projects will meanwhile be geared towards boosting the manufacturing sector, he added.

Earlier estimates showed that an average of P1 million in investments would be needed for each facility. The SSF, which is the DTI’s flagship program for small businesses, will enable the growth of innovative and globally competitive MSMEs by providing them with facilities that can be shared by a number of beneficiaries, such as cooperatives, institutions and communities. The Trade department’s Regional Operations and Development Group (RODG), the unit in charge of implementing the project, provides the processing equipment through its private sector partners who, in turn, house these equipment in sustainable facilities. These facilities and equipment are then made available for the common use of enterprises within industry clusters all over the country. Amy R. Remo

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GMO advocates seek SC relief by Leonard Postrado  January 27, 2014 (updated)  

A group advocating the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to reverse a Court of Appeals (CA) decision which permanently bans the conduct of field trials for Bt Talong (eggplant) due to risks it poses to human health and the environment. In a petition filed before the SC last Friday, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Applications (ISAAA) insisted that Bt eggplant is “food-safe” and “environmentsafe.” The group maintains that field trials for Bt eggplant had already been completed, terminated and proven successful even before the CA ruling. “The record is replete with evidence showing that the conduct of the Bt Talong field trials is safe to public health and the environment,” the ISAAA said. In a ruling issued in September of 2013, the CA denied with finality the motions for reconsideration filed by respondents led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources -Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) seeking the reversal of its decision issued on May 17,2013. In the May 2013 decision, the appellate court issued a Writ of Kalikasan ordering the DENR and other respondents in the case, the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority of the Department of Agriculture, UP Los Banos Foundation Inc., UP Mindanao Foundation Inc., and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech ApplicationsSoutheast Asia Center to permanently “cease and desist” from further conducting field trials of Bt Talong (eggplant), in the country. The appellate court held that the Bt (bacillus thuringinesis) Talong field trials violate the people’s constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology. Aside from the issuance of the Writ of Kalikasan, the CA also directed the respondents to rehabilitate and restore the environment affected by the field testing.The CA said the government failed to adopt sufficient bio-safety protocols in the conduct of field trials and feasibility studies on GMOs to protect the environment and the health of the people. But, the ISAAA said the TEPO issued by the appellate court is an “affront to scientific progress.” BT eggplant, according to ISAAA, has even been found to contribute to environmental sustainability, along with raising farmers’ yield and income by around 50 percent.

If no one will, then P-Noy must stop Zambales mines GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 27, 2014 - 12:00am 3 60 googleplus0 0 Below is the appeal of Dr. Benito Molino, of Sta. Cruz, Zambales, against destructive mining in his town. Addressed to Noynoy Aquino, it is in Filipino, the language the President uses in major speeches. Townsfolk of Sta. Cruz, Masinloc, Candelaria, and Palauig request its publication, in the hope that presidential action can save them. “Urgent: Kagalang-galang na Pangulong Noynoy, ang kapaligiran ng aming bayang Sta. Cruz ay lubhang napinsala na ng pagmimina. Ang mga lupa at laterite (reddish, clayey material) mula sa miniminang mga bundok ay tumabon na sa mga sakahan, mga ilog, mga palaisdaan. Umabot na ito sa karagatan. Nanganganib mawala ang mga hanap-buhay ng mga mamamayan. Kaya ang tanong naming mga mamamayan: asan na ang inyong binitiwang salita na hindi ninyo papayagan ang pagmimina kung ang kapalit nito ay pagkasira ng kapaligiran? Dahil ba ito ay pinayagan ng mga lokal na opisyales at dating pambansang pamunuan, hindi ninyo ito maipapatigil? Mahal na Pangulo, kung ayaw na ninyong madagdagan ang mga delubyo sa ating bansa, kagyat na po ninyong ipatigil ang pagmimina sa aming bayan.” At least five large mines – Chinese-owned – extract nickel and chromite from the mountains of Sta. Cruz. Ninety-four more, licensed as “small-scale” but actually using giant excavators and bulldozers, not just shovels and picks, operate in adjacent Masinloc. They are in the names of Filipinos, but most are fronts of the five Chinese firms. As ore is excavated, the mines upturn trees and boulders. Mud and chemicals choke rivers, flow down the denuded mountainsides, engulf farms and fishponds below. Polluted are the coasts not only of Sta. Cruz and Masinloc, but also Candelaria, Palauig, and Infanta in Pangasinan. Livelihoods and food sources are destroyed. Emissions of more than 2,000 dump trucks, each hauling ore to seaports thrice daily, darken the air. Particulates are thrice the acceptable level. Residents of Sta. Cruz and Masinloc suffer from high incidence of respiratory ailments. The port of Sta. Cruz could no longer handle the volume of ore, so the Chinese firms built new ones in the town proper and in Infanta. From Sta. Cruz’s new port alone, four Chinese bulk carriers depart weekly. No records are kept, no taxes paid, no revenue shared with the state. Nickel and chromite, with magnetite (black sand) from San Felipe, Zambales, enrich the Chinese steel and communications industries. From them come weapons and surveillance systems, with

which Chinese warships and jetfighters grab Scarborough Shoal (part of Masinloc) and drive away Filipino fishermen. Last July the Supreme Court shut down the 94 “small” mines in Masinloc. Ten Masinloc citizens, had complained that the mines were outside Zambales province’s designated mining zone. The SC injunction was addressed to Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane and Environment Sec. Ramon Paje. It was Ebdane who had granted the 94 permits all in one day in 2011. He did so on forester Paje’s legal opinion. Purportedly, the old Marcos decree that allowed mining anywhere still exists, alongside the new law that repealed it and restricted mining to the official zone. Also tasked to enforce the SC order were the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, the Dept. of Interior and Local Governments, and the National Police. Neither Ebdane and Paje, nor the three agencies have done so. Paje’s lame excuse to President Aquino is that he has filed cases against the local violators, so it is now all up to the courts. Ebdane has yet to explain himself. He had headed the First Family’s close-in security during Cory Aquino’s Presidency, and is a close friend of Noynoy’s. The local MGB, DILG, police, and municipal officials are in the pocket of the Chinese miners. They have been likened to the Makapili -- collaborated with the Japanese Occupation and ratted on members of the resistance, for a fistful of cash. At least the Makapili traitors had the sense to cover their faces with bayong (woven baskets) when pointing out to the Japanese Kempeitai the barrio mates to be tortured. Today’s Makapili strut around like they own Zambales. (Incidentally, Noynoy’s grandfather, Benigno Aquino Sr., had co-founded the Makapili’s affiliate, Kalibapi Party. For that he was arrested and charged with collaboration and treason in 1946.) The mining that goes on in Masinloc is as illegal as in Sta. Cruz. No less than the Dept. of Agriculture regional office and the environment unit of the provincial capitol oppose the Chinese mines in the latter. It is within President Aquino’s power to stop the mining – in the name of public health, environment protection, and economic security. He is sworn to uphold the people’s basic needs – and right to life. He can order Ebdane and Paje to get out of the way, so he can himself do what is needed. If he won’t do that, the people of Zambales and Pangasinan might need to go to the United Nations. There, the Human Rights Commission would be receptive. World attention would focus on Zambales -- the disaster that has been going on in the Philippines. * * * Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ, (882-AM). Gotcha archives on Facebook:, or The STAR website E-mail:

DA partners with ICRISAT in soil rejuvenation program (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 26, 2014 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - ICRISAT director general Dr. William Dar was recently in the country to spearhead the “Yamang Lupa,” a new program that aims to rejuvenate and restore to health the condition of the soil in the Philippines. Yamang Lupa is a joint program of the Department of Agriculture, through the Bureau of Soils & Water Management (DA-BSWM), and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). “We need to rehabilitate our soils and put it back into a healthy condition,” said Dar, who served as Agriculture Secretary from 1998-1999, before he joined ICRISAT to be its first Asian and Filipino director general of the India-based research facility. The program, according to Dar, takes off from ICRISAT’s “Bhoochetana” project in Karnataka, India where over four million hectares of farmland have been rejuvenated. Aside from soil rejuvenation, a second set of intervention is incorporated in the program which includes the introduction of new varieties of crops in the production system and a new extension and delivery system such as the organization of farmer facilitators that would assist in upgrading information for the benefit of some four million farmers. “To improve existing crops in a given production system, the program will introduce new seeds and varieties of planting materials. But before doing that, the entry point is to know exactly the health condition of the soil and soil mapping is crucial, with soil analysis being the first step in the process,” Dar explained. The initial step of Yamang Lupa is the collection of soil samples for analysis starting in four provinces namely Quezon, Eastern Samar, Leyte, and Zamboanga Sibugay where the project targets to recondition a total of 30,000 hectares of land. “If proven successful in the four pilot provinces, the technologies will be recommended for implementation throughout the entire country,” he added. The second step is a rapid rural appraisal and base lining to determine a level of comparison and evaluate the program’s gains. Rice, as well as other crops in rain-fed areas, would be covered by the program. Dar delivered the keynote message at a seminar on New Development and Trends on Organic Farming, held last Jan. 10 at the BSWM Convention Hall. The seminar was attended by farmers and advocates of natural farming in the country.

Study says fish‐sector players to suffer with PHL‐EU trade deal Category: Agri‐Commodities   26 Jan 2014   Written by Alladin S. Diega   IN the likelihood of a free‐trade agreement (FTA) between the Philippines and European Union (EU), big  processors, exporters of fish and the fish consumers in general will be the gainers, according to a recent  study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).  “Potential  losers  are  the  small‐scale  fishermen  who  will  face  lower  prices  for  their  catch  due  to  increased  competition  from  imported  fish  and  small‐scale  fish  processors  and  marketing  agents,  including  women,  who  will  also  face  lower  prices  for  their  products,”  PIDS  said  in  a  report  issued  recently.  The government’s economic research arm, however, said the overall economy will experience increased  fish production and improved balance of trade.  Nonetheless, the report cited the trade‐off for this is that fish stocks and fish resources will be abused  even further if the increased fisheries trade brought about by the FTA results to unsustainably managed  exploitation.  The potential Philippine‐EU FTA would include a mutual elimination of tariffs between the country and  EU to increase the quantity and exports of fisheries products, according to the report.  The mutual elimination in tariffs will have mixed results, the study said, in terms of fisheries imports.  “Imports of aquaculture, pearl culture and pearl‐gathering products will decrease and will improve the  balance of trade, while imports of processed fish products and seaweeds will increase which will lower  the  balance  of  trade,”  said  the  PIDS  study,  adding  that  in  percentage  terms,  the  fall  in  imports  of  fisheries products is highest among aquaculture while the increase in imports is highest for processed  products.  Thus,  processed  products  will  benefit  most  from  the  FTA  while  aquaculture  products  will  be  disadvantaged the most, the paper explained.  The paper argues that the negative effect of freer trade on fisheries to the small fishermen is due to the  structure of the chain of custody of procurement particularly for tuna exports. 

Also, very few of the commercial fishers who were the primary suppliers of tuna for export processing,  are owner‐operators. The rest, the study said, got merely the crew share or wages that failed to see an  increase because some of their catch was exported.  The  importation  of  fish  will  also  further  affect  group  of  women  fish  workers,  or  those  selling  locally  caught fish in the wet markets, “because the imported fish may compete with the local fish sold by them  so as a result the women may have to bear the loss from unsold fish as a consequence.”  Still, the paper noted that the bilateral reduction in tariffs in the PHL‐EU FTA may lead to a reduction in  commodity prices that, ergo, may see increases in real household incomes.  “As a result, the overall poverty incidence will decline from 26.3 percent to 26 percent indicating that  the FTA may be poverty‐reducing.”  However, the PIDS paper said the decline in the poverty gap and poverty severity will be higher than the  poverty incidence, which implies that those households that are far below the poverty threshold would  benefit the most from the bilateral tariff reduction.  In  conclusion,  the  study  said  that  freer  trade  could  potentially  worsen  the  exploitation  of  already  overfished fisheries stocks and resources.  Hence, the government must implement the proper resource and environmental management that will  allow sustainable exploitation even with increased fisheries trade.  The PIDS also proposes more study to allow a better analysis of the impacts of free trade on the fisheries  sector,  adding  that  research  should  determine  not  just  the  direction  of  such  impacts  but  their  magnitudes in totality, on the net, and individually for all the affected participants in fisheries and the  whole economy.  Alladin S. Diega‐commodities/26543‐study‐says‐fish‐sector‐ players‐to‐suffer‐with‐phl‐eu‐trade‐deal       

Group petitions reversal of CA order vs gene‐modified eggplant field tests Category: Agri‐Commodities   26 Jan 2014   Written by Joel R. San Juan  

THE Southeast  Asian  office  of  the  International  Service  for  the  Acquisition  of  Agri‐biotech  Applications  (ISAAA)  petitioned  on  Friday  the  reversal  of  a  ruling  that  permanently bans field trials for  Bacillus thuringinesis (Bt) eggplants.  The  ISAAA  on  January  24  filed  at  the  Supreme  Court  a  petition  seeking  the  reversal  of  the  Court  of  Appeals (CA) ruling that banned field trials for genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  The group insists that Bt eggplant is “food‐safe” and “environment‐safe.” Likewise, the group added that  trials for the GMO had already been completed, terminated and proven successful even before the CA  issued its ruling.  “The  record  is  replete  with  evidence  showing  that  the  conduct  of  the  Bt  talong  filed  trials  is  safe  to  public health and the environment,” the petitioner said.  In its ruling in September last year, the CA denied with finality the motions for reconsideration filed by  respondents  led  by  the  Department  of  Environment  and  Natural  Resources  ‐Environmental  Management Bureau (DENR‐EMB), seeking the reversal of its decision issued on May 17.  The  appellate  court,  in  the  said  ruling,  issued  a  writ  of  kalikasan  ordering  the  DENR  to  permanently  “cease and desist” from further conducting field trials of Bt talong in the country. The other respondents  ordered  included  the  following:  Bureau  of  Plant  Industry;  Fertilizer  and  Pesticide  Authority  of  the  Department  of  Agriculture;  University  of  the  Philippines  Los  Baños  Foundation  Inc.;  UP  Mindanao  Foundation Inc.; and the ISAAA‐Southeast Asia Center.  The  appellate  court  held  that  the  Bt  talong  field  trials  violate  the  people’s  constitutional  right  to  a  balanced and healthful ecology. 

The CA also directed the respondents to rehabilitate and restore the environment affected by the field  testing  According to the CA, the government failed to adopt sufficient biosafety protocols in the conduct of filed  trials and feasibility studies on GMOs to protect the environment and the health of the people.  But the ISAAA said the appellate court’s order is an “affront to scientific progress.”  The group asserts that Bt eggplant has been found to contribute to environmental sustainability, along  with raising farmers’ yield and income by around 50 percent.  The  group  claims  that  scientists  also  found  that  the  production  of  Bt  eggplant  solves  the  problem  of  excessive spraying of pesticide during the 120 to 170‐day growing season.  The  ISAAA  noted  that  entomologist  Mario  Navasero  testified  before  the  Court  that  current  common  practice  of  insecticide  spraying  to  control  the  eggplant  fruit  and  shoot  borer  is  more  harmful  to  the  environment.‐commodities/26542‐group‐petitions‐ reversal‐of‐ca‐order‐vs‐gene‐modified‐eggplant‐field‐tests                   

Binmaley celebrates thriving fishing industry By Eva Visperas (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 27, 2014 - 12:00am

Philippine Military Academy cadets perform a silent drill during the fiesta celebration of Binmaley town in Pangasinan yesterday. The celebration also featured the grilling of fish and prawns (inset) as part of the Sigay Festival on Saturday. EVAVISPERAS/CESAR RAMIREZ BINMALEY, Pangasinan , Philippines – This town’s residents showed their renewed enthusiasm with their all-out support for Saturday’s staging of the annual Sigay Festival showcasing the success of the local fishing industry through the simultaneous grilling of seafood products in a grand street party. Mayor Simplicio Rosario, who started the festival in 2010, said the event is a big boost to their aquaculture industry and an opportunity for the townsfolk to showcase their unity and hospitality, which every home displays during fiesta celebrations. “I am happy again to see excited faces and more people coming together to join us in this celebration,” he said. With the huge crowd that gathered in the town proper to enjoy a night-long grilling of bangus (milkfish), malaga, prawns, and tilapia that are abundantly produced here, Rosario said there is no doubt that the Sigay Festival’s aim to foster a stronger bond among the local folk, vacationing Pangasinenses and visitors was achieved. “Sigay” is a Pangasinan word that connotes fishing. Because of its abundant fish production, Binmaley is known as the “aquaculture center of the north.” The town is located along the central coastline of Pangasinan, facing the Lingayen Gulf, sandwiched by Lingayen, the capital town, and Dagupan City, the “bangus capital.” Some 150 one-meter grill pads were set up in three stations, and people enjoyed grilling while swaying and singing to the beat of a live band in each station. A 10-minute fireworks display delighted everyone at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Councilor Edgar Mamenta, the event’s chairman, said people enjoyed the street party like one big happy family. Vice Mayor Pete Merrera, the hermano mayor of this year’s fiesta celebration highlighted by the Sigay Festival, said they have prepared religious, cultural, fun and entertainment activities until Feb. 2. Municipal agriculturist Butch Ferrer said there are 2,752 hectares devoted to bangus production here. Twenty-two of the 23 barangays have inland fishponds.

‘Bt talong’ case reaches SC (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 27, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines - A biotechnology agency has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to allow the field testings in several provinces of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) eggplant, a genetically modified variety that produces its own pesticide, which the Court of Appeals (CA) stopped last year. In a 118-page petition for review filed last Friday, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Applications (ISAAA) asked the SC to reverse the CA ruling granting the petition for a writ of kalikasan filed by groups led by the regional chapter of the environmental group Greenpeace. The ISAAA told the SC that it was already established that the Bt eggplant (talong) is safe both for human consumption and the environment, contrary to the findings of the CA. “The record is replete with evidence showing that the conduct of the Bt talong field trials is safe to public health and the environment,” the ISAAA said, citing a study conducted by scientists at the University of the Philippines Los Baños that was completed even before the CA ruling. The ISAAA argued that the CA ruling, which ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture and other agencies to permanently cease and desist from further conducting Bt talong field trials, was an “affront to scientific progress.” It submitted to the SC findings of studies showing the advantages of planting Bt eggplant, including those of agricultural biotechnologist Peter Davies showing that Bt crops are safe for human consumption. In a 25-page decision penned by Associate Justice Isaias Dicdican in May last year, the CA’s Special 13th Division granted the writ of kalikasan sought by Greenpeace, citing the lack of scientific proof showing that Bt eggplant is safe for humans. This, it said, violated the constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology, particularly the right to one’s health, which should not be put at risk by a willful disturbance of the ecological balance.

Fishermen deplore Aquino’s ‘very good’ rating as hoax by Manila Bulletin  January 27, 2014 (updated)  

Fishermen group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday expressed their disbelief over the recent Social Weather Station (SWS) survey that claimed President Benigno Aquino III got a “very good” grade for the way he provided relief to ‘Yolanda’ victims. The survey showed that 73 percent of victims of super typhoon Yolanda, which devastated majority of areas in eastern Visayas, gave Aquino a positive grade despite reports of inefficiency and inaction on the part of the government days after Yolanda struck. Salvador France, Pamalakaya vice chairperson, said in a statement the result is “mind-blogging and mind-blowing” considering that the positive grade was said to be given to the President mostly by those directly affected by the typhoon, including those whose friends and families were among the over 6,000 who died or still missing. France questioned the credibility of the survey which also said the respondents considered themselves as “poor” and “food poor.” “For us, the survey is a complete hoax and that is the collective of Yolanda survivors among fishing communities visited by our group,” he said. France said people they talked to said otherwise. “The people here are castigating Aquino for engaging in senseless politicking and rhetoric activities rather than address the urgent concerns of Yolanda survivors like continuing relief and rehabilitation of Yolanda devastated areas,” he added. On Thursday, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said the President is very happy with the positive response of Yolanda survivors despite the fact that 72 percent of families affected by Yolanda classified themselves as poor and 58 percent said they were “food poor”. The SWS also said Yolanda survivors reported a higher “hunger rate,” with 23.9 percent saying they experienced involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months, compared to 17.2 percent among non-victims. (Ron B. Lopez)

LPA not likely to enter PH – Pagasa By Frances Mangosing 8:21 am | Monday, January 27th, 2014

MT Satellite image January 27, 2014, 7:32 a.m. Screengrab from MANILA, Philippines – A low pressure area (LPA) was spotted over the Pacific Ocean but was not likely to enter the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR), the state weather bureau said on Monday. Manny Mendoza, forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), said the LPA was earlier forecast to enter PAR Wednesday but said it was already moving away from the country. Still, Pagasa said the entire Philippines will have partly to cloudy skies with isolated light rains this Monday. Cold weather will also continue as the northeast monsoon is affecting Luzon and Visayas, it said. Temperature in Metro Manila was at its coldest at 19.8 degrees Celsius at 5a.m. Monday. In Baguio City, temperature was at its lowest for the day 9.8 degrees Celsius also at 5a.m., forecaster Manny Mendoza said. On Sunday, Metro Manila had its chilliest morning for the year at 15.8 degrees Celsius. Moderate to strong winds blowing from the northeast will prevail over Luzon and Visayas and coming from the northeast to north over Mindanao, Pagasa said.

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Thrift banks back changes in BSP charter By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 27, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines - The Chamber of Thrift Banks has expressed its support for the proposed amendments to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ charter currently pending at the Lower House. “The CTB is one with the BSP in its effort to address the most fundamental challenge of achieving and maintaining a strong financial system and rapid economic growth for the country,” Jose Teodoro Limcaoco, CTB president, said in a statement. “The CTB supports policies and programs of the BSP that address the concerns and challenges surrounding the industry,” he added. The BSP is pushing for changes on its 20-year-old charter. The central bank has asked for an additional capital of P150 billion and to be allowed to obtain data from any private person or entity, among others, in the context of performing its mandate of monetary, financial, and price stability. “While the CTB recognizes that there has been concern raised by some sectors over certain provisions, CTB appreciates that there is a need to respond to contemporary challenges by amending the present BSP charter in order that the BSP remains effective in its conduct of monetary policy and supervision of financial institutions, and enable it to build a robust system,” Suzanne Felix, CTB director, said. “These concerns can be easily addressed by enhancing certain provisions of the bill without affecting the supervisory framework envisioned by the proposed law,” she continued. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 HB 3112, filed by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., remains pending at the Lower House. The bill is among those being rushed for plenary discussions at least before Congress adjourns on March 15.‐banks‐back‐changes‐bsp‐charter          

Gov’t may expect continuing decline in debt payments Liability strategy to temper impact of depreciating peso  By Michelle V. Remo  Philippine Daily Inquirer   8:05 pm | Sunday, January 26th, 2014  

The decline in the amount of money that the government has earmarked for debt servicing will continue in 2014 despite the adverse effects of a weakening peso, according to the head of the budget department. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad told reporters that strategies initiated over the past few years to better manage the government’s liabilities would help temper the impact of the peso’s depreciation on debt servicing. “The liability management strategies the government implemented in the past would prove to be an advantage now [when the peso has weakened],” Abad said. He cited the government’s move to prepay some of its foreign obligations, when the peso was stronger, and its decision to borrow more from domestic, rather than foreign, creditors in order to reduce the country’s exposure to foreign exchange risks. Under this year’s national budget, the government has set aside P352.65 billion to pay for interest on the state’s outstanding debt. That amount represents 15.6 percent of the P2.265-trillion national budget for 2014, marking a decline in the proportion of the budget set aside for debt servicing. Since 2010, the proportion of the national budget allotted for interest payments has been declining. When President Aquino took over the reins of the country that year, interest payments accounted for 22 percent of the national budget. The share continued to fall until it hit only 16.6 percent of the budget in 2013. Economic officials aim to further trim the figure, which they hope will settle at 12 percent by the end of the Aquino administration in 2016.

A declining share of resources set aside for interest payments means that more resources may be channeled to infrastructure, social services and other vital expenditures. But some critics are saying that the government may not be able to sustain the decline in the amount earmarked for debt servicing because of the weakening peso, which now hovers at 45:$1.

A depreciation of the peso increases the value, in local currency terms, of the government’s dollar-denominated debt. This means, without other intervening factors, the government may have to spend more on interest payments this year than it originally programmed. Based on government estimates, the cost of interest payments rises by about P2 billion for every peso unit appreciation against the US dollar. The peso’s movement to the 45-to-a-dollar territory was weaker than the exchange rate assumption the government used in setting its expenditure programs for this year. It originally set the range between 41 and 44 to a dollar. But Abad said liability management strategies initiated previously would help offset the adverse impact of a weakening peso on debt servicing. His claim was backed by National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon, who said certain factors could ease the impact of the peso’s weakness on debt servicing. Interest payments are part of the government’s national budget. Principal debts are paid using proceeds from fresh loans. Read more:‐may‐expect‐continuing‐decline‐in‐debt‐ payments#ixzz2rZAqo5gF   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook                         

Thrift bank group backs BSP charter amendments ‘Enhancements’ to address major concerns  By Paolo G. Montecillo  Philippine Daily Inquirer   7:56 pm | Sunday, January 26th, 2014  

The Chamber of Thrift Banks (CTB) has thrown its support behind the controversial amendments to the central bank’s two-decade-old charter, which has some sectors worried over potential “superpowers” that may give regulators the ability to overreach. The industry group, however, admitted that some “enhancements” might be necessary instead of adopting the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) version of the bill lock, stock and barrel. “The CTB is one with the BSP in its effort to address the most fundamental challenge of achieving and maintaining a strong financial system and rapid economic growth for the country,” the CTB said in a statement. CTB executive director Suzanne Felix, for her part, said the CTB recognized some concerns raised by other sectors over certain provisions of the proposed BSP charter amendments. “CTB appreciates that there is a need to respond to contemporary challenges by amending the present BSP charter in order that the BSP remains effective in its conduct of monetary policy and supervision of financial institutions and enable it to build a robust system,” Felix said. “These concerns can be easily addressed by enhancing certain provisions of the bill without affecting the supervisory framework envisioned by the proposed law,” she added.

The group declined to specify what changes it thought might be necessary to make the BSP’s charter amendments more acceptable. Proposed amendments to the BSP’s 1993 charter are pending in both houses of Congress. Changes in the charter include a four-fold increase in the central bank’s capitalization to P200 billion, reviving the BSP’s ability to issue its own debt securities, granting immunity from lawsuits to BSP examiners and certain tax exemptions. However, some sectors have raised concerns over proposals to give the BSP the power to look into corporate bank accounts to curb shady transactions between banks and their sister firms within conglomerates.

Senior BSP officials had argued that lifting the veil of deposit secrecy for some transactions would help ensure that depositors’ funds were not being used by corporations to bolster their own books. CTB’s Felix also said that these amendments would be beneficial not only to the banking industry, but to the general public as well, as they sought to strengthen the tools which the BSP exercises in performing its mandates, including protecting savings of depositors. Read more:‐bank‐group‐backs‐bsp‐charter‐ amendments#ixzz2rZC1NB5A   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook                                     

Villar group gets 13.33% stake in mining company Brightens prospects of Agusan nickel project  By Ronnel W. Domingo  Philippine Daily Inquirer   7:53 pm | Sunday, January 26th, 2014  

The Villar group has acquired a 13.33-percent interest in Canadian firm Mindoro Resources Ltd., shoring up hopes that the Agata nickel project in Agusan del Norte could start production within this year. This develops after Prime Resources Holdings Inc. (PRHI), a subsidiary of Prime Asset Ventures Inc., took steps to acquire a 68.42-percent interest in Mindoro Resources’ joint-venture partner in Agata, TVI Resources Development Philippines (TVIRD). “We previously welcomed PRHI to the joint venture as a strong local partner and we are now pleased to also welcome PRHI as a strong shareholder in our company,” Mindoro Resources chief executive Tony Climie said in a statement. “We believe PRHI’s purchase of Mindoro securities in the market sends a significant message of support for the Agata project and meeting our production objectives in 2014,” Climie added. In a statement, PRHI said it had acquired some 39.6 million common shares in Mindoro Resources through a secondary trade at the Australian Securities Exchange for about $849,295 or some P33.6 million. TVI Pacific Inc., also based in Canada, last December announced that it had executed various definitive agreements with PRHI relating to financing and investment in TVI and its indirectly held Philippine assets, including Mindoro’s Agata and Pan de Azucar projects.

These agreements included PRHI acquiring a 5-percent direct equity interest in TVI and a 68.42percent direct equity interest in TVIRD, through which TVI holds an option to earn a 60-percent interest in Agata and Pan de Azucar. According to TVIRD, a feasibility study completed last August suggested that Agata had “a high internal rate of return (IRR) of 187 percent, a payback within the first year of operation, and a post-tax net present value of $37.9 million.” TVIRD also said that funds received from the issuance of shares to PHRI were expected to be used for working capital and to advance various projects, including a planned direct shipping ore project in Agata.

In 2012, Mindoro entered into joint-venture agreements with TVI to undertake a two-stage development strategy for Agata. The first stage involves the direct shipment of ores to a buyer or buyers while the second involves the processing of ores on site. Regarding direct shipping, TVIRD has acquired all the property needed for a road network while 90 percent of land needed for a port facility has been acquired as of October 2013. According to TVI, the planned direct shipment ore project already had an environmental compliance certificate and the company was pursuing permits related to Agata’s environmental protection and enhancement program and the final mine rehabilitation and decommissioning plan. Read more:‐group‐gets‐13‐33‐stake‐in‐mining‐ company#ixzz2rZCr4gxo   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook                               

Bill seeks to amend Expanded Senior Citizens act by Ben Rosario  January 27, 2014  

Senior citizens should be given discounts for power and water consumption, Buhay Partylist Representative Lito Atienza said as he filed House Bill 3169 which seeks to amend Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010. Under the bill, senior citizens will be entitled to five percent discounts for the first 100 kilowatt hour and 30 cubic meters of water reflected in the bills of the house where they live. Atienza noted that while elderly folk are given discount privileges on food, medicines and basic food, they are not being extend the same benefits for water and electricity services. Atienza said senior citizens will get a five percent discount for the first 100 kilowatts hours they have consumed and five percent discount for the first 30 cubic meters of water used. Under the bill, the power and water discounts will be granted to senior citizens regardless of the number of other elderly living in their household. “Senior citizens are still productive members of society, and we owe them a great deal from their years of hard work and dedication,” Atienza said. The bill also provides that senior citizens could still avail of the promotional discount in the purchase of goods and services. However, good and services shall only be considered on promotional discount if the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) duly approved the said sales promotion. The bill also provides that the DTI approval control number must be conspicuously displayed in every business establishments. Senior citizens could likewise still avail of discounts and exemption from value-added-tax if the sales promotion is a personal undertaking of a business establishment even without the approval of the DTI.‐seeks‐to‐amend‐expanded‐senior‐citizens‐act/      

BSP: Rural banks must evolve fast Category: Top News   26 Jan 2014   Written by Jun B. Vallecera   So‐called independent thrift banks and rural banks will continue to have a place in a world dominated by  large commercial and universal lenders even when financial integration, seen happening from 2015 and  onward, begins to take root, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said on Friday.  But to remain competitive, said Nestor A. Espenilla, deputy governor of the BSP, thrift banks and rural  banks “need to rapidly evolve and need to be big enough to be able to invest, for example, in scalable  technology so they can be more efficient and profitable” even with large scale competition all around.  Independent  thrift  and  rural  lending  units  are  stand‐alone  entities  without  affiliation  or  access  to  the  financial wherewithal of regular commercial and universal banks, whose role in the envisioned financial‐ sector integration down the line has been put in doubt by analysts and thinkers.  The argument goes that those intending to remain competitive in the face of regional competition from  large financial units across Asia have to be willing to be folded into or merged with the big guns because  the alternative is much more expensive than simply putting up additional capital.  But according to Espenilla, the comparatively small lending operations of local thrift and rural units need  not lose their market to the leviathans in the business.  “Non‐affiliated thrift and rural banks will continue to have a place even with greater regional integration  and  more  big  bank  competition,”  Espenilla,  who  heads  the  influential  supervision  and  examination  sector (SES) unit at the central bank, said.  Espenilla  said  rural  banks  and  thrift  banks  ”need  to  professionalize  management.  They  need  to  target  well‐defined  niche  markets  and  be  very  good  at  serving  it.  They  need  to  develop  alliances  with  other  financial  service  providers  so  they  can  leverage  their  reach.  In  other  words,  they  will  need  a  clear  strategy.”  For those unable to stand the competition, the BSP has put in place an exit mechanism that allows the  small‐scale lender to leave the competitive arena gracefully and without fear of ridicule from rivals that  have much more financial prowess and resources at their command.  That  mechanism,  he  said,  is  known  as  the  Strengthening  Program  for  Rural  Banks  Plus   (SPRB+)  which  offers financial and regulatory incentives for those lenders unable to scale up their operations to a plane 

sufficient to  meet  the  requirements  of  expanded  lending,  by  fusing  or  merging  their  operations  with  larger and more financially endowed rivals.  The SPRB+ began in 2010 but its provisions lapsed just last December, prompting the BSP to extend it to  the end of the current calendar year.  Against this background, CityState Savings Bank expanded its lending operations with the opening of its  27th branch in Batangas City on Friday and revealed additional plans for three more branches within the  year.  The increased banking footprint, said lawyer and CityState Savings President Rey D. Delfin, was meant to  scale up the lender’s profitability and make the brand more widely recognized in the micro, small and  medium‐scale enterprise (MSME) space.  “We  are  deliberately  positioned  to  tap  the  SME  market”  where  the  potential  for  returns  are  largest,  according to Delfin.  This is the market where loan takeouts are upwards of P150 million and a lending space that CityState  Savings has keen expertise and preference.  For CityState particularly, loans were to expand by at least 30 percent this year and potentially grow as  high as 50 percent, based on the lender’s simulations.  Bank loans, in general, have trended up, averaging 14.8 percent in November last year from only 13.6  percent,  as  businesses  and  households,  fed  by  capital  inflows  and  the  overseas  earnings  of  migrant  Filipinos, took out comparatively cheap loans ahead of interest‐rate adjustments down the line.  Improved  economic  conditions  in  both  the  euro‐area  countries  and  the  United  States,  which  remains  the country’s biggest trading partner, were seen influencing prospectively higher interest rates as fund  managers move back to so‐called safer havens in developed markets.  Delfin brushed aside the potential menace presented by higher domestic interest rates down the line,  saying those risks can be managed by a careful allocation or calibration of asset deployment.‐news/26560‐bsp‐rural‐banks‐must‐evolve‐fast         

PhilHealth gets support for its rate hike by Freddie C. Velez  January 26, 2014  

Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) is the “lifeline” of government “hospitals,” said Bulacan Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado, indicating his unequivocal support on increase in the membership’s monthly contribution. “As a provincial governor I personally saw the big help that the policy of ‘point of care’ has done. It’s very systematic and the policy holder does not have to worry about the billing, SyAlvarado said. He said that being a member of PhilHealth somehow softens the financial load of every patient. Speaking, in particular, of Bulacan Medical Center in his locality, Sy-Alvarado said every patient is required to avail of this policy. “If the patient has P7,000 for a ceasarian operation, the patient needs only to shell out P2,400 and everything will be taken care of and there will be a saving of P4,600,” he said. PhilHealth implemented a pro-rated increase in the monthly contribution of its members. Effective January of this year, a P25 increase will be shelled out by members who are currently employed from last year’s P175 to P200. Self-employed, on the other hand, will have to dip into their pockets an additional P50 as their contribution is now P200 a month from P150. Established in 1995, PhilHealth is an attached agency of the Department of Health that provides a universal health coverage for the Philippines. The hike in PhilHealth contribution as well as that of the Social Security System (SSS) was met with vehement opposition. SSS members will also have to allocate additional money for their monthly contribution, which went up to 11 percent from 10.4 percent, roughly equivalent to at least P285 for an employee whose monthly compensation is from P2,250 to P2,749. Sy-Alvarado believed that the uptick in the monthly contribution is still affordable and beneficial to the public, especially to the poor. “The increase is so small compared to the benefits of indigents who, without it, would have to pay much more. The P2,400 is very minimal compared to the P100,000 or higher amount that a patient would have to pay in treatment of costly ailments like cancer and kidney diseases,” Alvarado explained.‐gets‐support‐for‐its‐rate‐hike/  

New bridges benefit Agusan Sur farmers by Mike Crismundo  January 26, 2014    

Patin-Ay, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur – Local officials said the completion of the two bridge projects worth P17 million is expected to benefit the farmers and residents in Esperanza town. Agusan del Sur Governor Adolph Edward G. Plaza said he pushed for the immediate completion of the projects to make the transport of farm products more economical, and for the convenience of the traveling public. The completion of the two vital projects was also made possible through the effort of the Department of Agriculture-Mindanao Rural Development Program (DA-MRDP), and the local government unit (LGU) where it provided a counterpart fund of around 10 percent of the total project cost. Along with the provincial government and DA, the local government of Esperanza recently turned over the two RCDG bridges (Reinforced Concrete Deck Girder) to the residents of Barangay Guadalupe and Barangay San Toribio. The two infrastructure projects are now being used to connect the remote communities of Esperanza. Esperanza Mayor Deo Manpatilan Jr. said he was deeply impressed by the realization of the two projects. He said the two bridges provided the local residents with the opportunity to increase their income – due to savings generated from hauling and transportation cost.‐bridges‐benefit‐agusan‐sur‐farmers/            

Coffee production to rebuild calamitystricken areas pushed by Bernie Magkilat  January 26, 2014  

Coffee production is being pushed as a good rebuilding tool for the calamity-stricken areas of Central Visayas as the country continues to suffer acute shortage in coffee supply. Pacita “Chit” Juan, president of the Philippine Coffee Board, said the organization hopes to get between P50 million to P100 million from the P3-billion rehabilitation of the Department of Agrarian Reform. “Coffee as rebuilding crop is sustainable that’s why we’re asking the government agencies to direct them to communities which we started to help like the Bohol Coffee Cooperative, which we started to help before the Yolanda,” Juan said. But beyond rebuilding, Juan said coffee is also a cash crop because it will already bear fruit in 3 years and can be intercropped with coconuts. Aside from Bohol, the Coffee Board has also replanting efforts in Northern Iloilo and Leyte. The Coffee Board is now concentrating in the Visayas, which now accounts for about 2,000 tons or 10 percent of total domestic coffee production. According to Juan, domestic coffee production is expected to remain flat this year at 22,500 metric tons because of the impact from the earthquake and typhoons last year. Domestic coffee consumption is 100,000 metric tons of which 80,000 tons are instant coffee. Mindanao is the largest producer of coffee with Sultan Kudarat as the single largest source, but production was also affected by weather disturbances affecting some 500 hectares planted to coffee. To ensure higher earnings, the Coffee Board has been pushing for the export of locally homegrown specialty coffee. According to Juan, coffee farmers have the wrong notion that they can earn higher if they sell roasted coffee already. Juan said that roasted and roasted coffee has a shelf life of six months only. If they are not sold within that period, it will deteriorate and lose its flavor. The best way to bear higher is to sell properly ripened and processed raw coffee beans. CITEM has a program for the export of specialty coffee beans.

Farmers sell coffee at P30 per kilo but green special coffee beans can command between P250 to P300 per kilo in the export market. Japan and Korea are big buyers of specialty coffee willing and they are willing to pay at higher rates. The Philippines exports arabica, washed robusta, Mindanao M1, Benguet arabica, and Cavite AA. What is important is the origins, Juan said, because that gives added value to the coffee especially that the coffee trend is going towards the third wave wherein coffee is served and sold in small specialty coffee shops and stores. “The third wave wants their own coffee, they roast and grind their own coffee that’s why the market for specialty coffee beans is good,” she added. What is pushing coffee prices higher is the scarcity of coffee supply, said Juan adding that by 2020 there will be a global shortage of coffee. “There will be a global shortfall of 32 million bags,” she said. Indonesia and Vietnam are one of the world’s leading producers because they have their heirloom varieties and they can also import coffee tax free. The Philippines is one of the few countries that produces the four varieties of commerciallyviable coffee: Arabica, Liberica (Barako), Excelsa and Robusta. Climatic and soil conditions in the Philippines – from the lowland to mountain regions – make the country suitable for all four varieties.‐production‐to‐rebuild‐calamity‐stricken‐areas‐pushed/            

Meat processors ask DA to establish ‘AAA’ abattoirs by Bernie Magkilat  January 26, 2014  

The country’s largest group of meat processing companies has called on the government and the livestock industry to establish “AAA” abattoirs as part of the preparation for the economic integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) by 2015. Felix Tiukinhoy Jr., the newly re-elected president of the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) said while meat processors can take advantage of the ASEAN integration in 2015, they need the support of the government and the livestock sector in terms of policies and stable supply of raw materials. “The ASEAN integration presents a great opportunity to expand the market for Philippine processed meat products,” Tiukinhoy said during the general membership meeting of PAMPI, after being re-elected as the president of the association at the Metro Club in Makati City on January 23. He said Philippine meat processors are ready for the ASEAN integration because of their current systems, technologies and good manufacturing processes that are at par with international standards. “But they need dependable and stable supply of high-quality raw materials such as chicken, pork and beef,” Tiukinhoy said. Tiukinhoy called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) to proceed with the establishment of grade “AAA” abattoirs and related facilities to ensure the steady supply of high-quality raw materials for meat producers and processors. “We urge the Department of Agriculture to establish AAA abattoirs and slaughterhouse facilities that are world-class and globally competitive,” said Tiukinhoy, who is serving as president of the 25-year-old association for the 15th year. He said modern meat plants are needed to prepare the meat processing industry to enable the domestic sector to compete with neighboring countries with the onset of the ASEAN economic integration. “Modern abattoirs are crucial components of our preparation for the ASEAN integration,” he said. “The slaughterhouses program of the government is equally important to the livestock producers as they will give them the competitive advantage to export their meat products”.

Tiukinhoy said livestock growers should have access to “AAA” abattoirs and modern fabrication floors and laboratories as well as refrigerated holding rooms to protect the quality of their meat products. “If these requirements are in place, the Philippines will be ready for the ASEAN integration by 2015,” said Tiukinhoy. “Equally important is the steady supply of high-quality livestock for raw materials,” he said, adding that the Philippines can be a major exporter of meat products, if the livestock sector can only meet the international standards. “Meat processors have always dreamed of joining the export game of international trade for meats and this dream is more possible now,” said Tiukinhoy. He said government intervention to provide the proper mechanism and regulatory policies will help the livestock and meat processing industries. Tiukinhoy said meat processors still currently depend on the importation of raw materials to support their production requirements, with total imports of 394,526 metric tons worth P40 billion in 2012. These included 151,084 pork imports, 134,768 chicken meat imports and high volume of beef and buffalo meats. PAMPI members have recently re-elected Tiukinhoy of Virginia Foods as president of the association and Jerome Ong of Foodsphere, Inc. as vice president. Other PAMPI officers for 2014 are Jocelyn Alcoreza of Dealco Farm, Inc., as secretary; Philip Prieto of RFM Corporation, treasurer; and Rey Lapid of R. Lapid’s Chicharon, public relations officer. Elected as PAMPI directors are Enrico Ma. Hizon of Pampanga’s Best, Fernando King of King Sue Ham and Sausages Co. Inc., Antonio Ding of Frabelle Foods Corp. and Rex Agarrado of Pacific Meat Company, Inc. PAMPI also re-appointed Francisco Buencamino as the association’s executive director and Dr. Manuel Rocha as technical consultant.‐processors‐ask‐da‐to‐establish‐aaa‐abattoirs/          

Toxic amulets, charms won’t work, says group By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Jan. 27, 2014 at 12:01am A WATCHDOG on Sunday questioned the use of lead and other toxic metals in feng shui amulets and charms for the Chinese New Year that are supposed to deflect negative chi or energy and draw good health and wealth during the Year of the Wooden Horse. Thony Dizon, Project Protect coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, said they had found that some amulets and charms contained chemicals belonging to the World Health Organization’s “ten chemicals of major public health concern” and which included lead, arsenic and cadmium.

Toxic charms. Safety advocates from the EcoWaste Coalition on Matalino Street, Quezon City, warn consumers against buying good luck charms and amulets containing toxic metals, which are enjoying brisk sales as a result of the approaching Chinese New Year. Manny Palmero “We find the presence of toxic metals in some amulets and charms was incompatible with the much trumpeted luck and success that they are supposed to bring,” Dizon said. He said there was a clear mismatch between the good flow of energy and prosperity offered by some of those talismans and activators and the bad chemicals that made them up. Using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence device, the Eco Waste Coalition detected excessive levels of toxic metals in 42 out of 50 samples of the amulets and charms, Dizon said. And out of those 42 tainted samples, lead of up to 207,400 parts per million was detected in 34 samples, arsenic up to 3,174 ppm in 16 samples, and cadmium up to 12,900 ppm in four samples. High levels of antimony and chromium were also detected in some samples, Dizon said. The samples were procured for P20 to P350 each from lucky charms stores and street vendors in Binondo, Divisoria and Quiapo in Manila, last week.

None of the samples contained basic labeling information that would have informed the buyer about the products’ manufacturers, country of origin, chemical ingredients and the essential precautionary health and safety warnings. Topping the samples with the highest concentrations of lead was a prayer necklace adorned with a lead alloy pendant of the six-syllable mantra of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion, Dizon said. A person reciting the mantra “om mane padme hum” would supposedly be protected from all dangers. Toxicologist Bessie Antonio, the head of East Avenue Medical Center’s Out-Patient Department, says “lead is a dangerous toxicant that kids and adults should avoid.” She says lead is a chemical poison that affects multiple body systems and organs including the heart, kidneys, intestines, the brain and the nervous system. She says exposure to even low levels of lead may disrupt a child’s brain development and cause lifelong learning and behavioral problems, while exposure among women and workers can bring about miscarriage, reduced sperm count, anemia, peripheral neuropathy and hypertension. To avoid exposure to toxins, the EcoWaste Coalition advises consumers to be inquisitive, ask pertinent questions and assert their right to information in every step of a transaction. “It’s better to be importunate than to spend hard-earned money on lucky charms that can poison one’s future and the environment,” Dizon said.‐amulets‐charms‐won‐t‐work‐says‐group/                    

PNoy’s rating doubted after massive protests By Maricel Cruz | Jan. 27, 2014 at 12:01am Opposition lawmakers find SWS ‘very good’ incredible OPPOSITION lawmakers on Sunday cast doubt on the Social Weather Stations survey that showed President Benigno Aquino III earning a “very good” net satisfaction rating in the areas devastated by super typhoon Yolanda, while militants urged the administration to stop deluding itself. Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz, a member of the independent minority bloc in the House, urged the SWS to explain the mechanics of the survey it conducted from Dec. 11 to 16, 2013 to determine if the result was indeed accurate and reflected the sentiments of Yolanda victims and survivors. “How did this happen?” De La Cruz said when asked to comment on the SWS survey that gave President Aquino an approval rating of 73 percent (with a net satisfaction rating of +54) in areas battered by Yolanda. Dela Cruz demanded an explanation from the SWS on its findings. “It would really be best if the SWS gets to explain its findings as it is quite beyond normal expectations,” Dela Cruz said. Dela Cruz’s observation jibed with the sentiments of residents and relief workers from the stormbattered region, who questioned the SWS findings, with one volunteer describing it as “a travesty.” Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate, another critic of the Aquino administration, also questioned the survey result, and said this would damage the credibility of SWS. “If that survey truly reflects the sentiments of the people then why did some 12,000 Yolanda survivors from all over the devastated areas of Eastern Visayas march and protest (Saturday) in Tacloban and demand justice for the criminal negligence of the Aquino administration?” Zarate asked. “If at all that survey was only made to deodorize the apparent incompetence and negligence of the government even up to now nearly three months after [the typhoon struck],” Zarate added. Zarate said that he had spoken to a lot of Yolanda victims who also wondered about the SWS findings. “They were wondering who were the survey respondents that SWS talked to,” Zarate said. 1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III, a member of the House opposition bloc, also expressed disbelief at the SWS findings.

“I was in Tacloban and I saw a different picture,” Bello, a former justice secretary, said. Renato Reyes, secretary general of the militant group Bayan Muna, said the government should wake up from its delusion of high approval and trust ratings after the massive protest in Tacloban. “The huge mobilization belies the so-called surveys saying that people are content with government efforts,” said Reyes, who joined the People Surge movement in Tacloban. “I was able to talk to some of the protesters and they really feel that the government has not done enough. Aquino should start listening to the victims,” Reyes said. But Aquino said in a TV interview that the survey was a reflection of the people’s trust in him and his platform of government. “So long as people believe in me, bahala na kayo. I will just do my work,” Aquino said, adding that the media have a penchant for sensationalism. “My test is, for as long as I can face the mirror and (tell myself) that I did everything possible, I’m already okay with that,” the President said. Reyes, however, said the government should be more open to suggestions from the survivors, such as their demand for P40,000 in financial assistance. This was echoed by Valenzuela Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian, who said that investing money through the survivors “makes sense” because it will jumpstart economic activity in the Yolandahit areas. “And while efforts to make sure that every peso counts are commendable, this should not translate into inaction or delayed action on the part of the government,” Gatchalian said. Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, an Aquino ally, said he would take the SWS survey with a grain of salt. “Let us look at the credibility of Pulse Asia and SWS. For me, they have no credibility to begin with,” Trillanes said. But House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. and other administration allies in the House were quick to defend the Aquino government’s efforts to help the Yolanda victims get back on their feet, saying the SWS survey result was a reflection of such. “Contrary to the thinking of those who were not there, the victims must have realized that the government did its best to help them,” Belmonte told the Manila Standard. Administration Reps. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. of Cavite, Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, Rodel Batocabe of Ako-Bicol party-list and Gus Tambunting of Paranaque City said there must be some truth behind the SWS survey result. “Considering that the SWS is a very reliable surveying firm, its findings that that the government was given by the Yolanda victims a very satisfactory rating would be credible. A contrary

opinion of one volunteer should not alter the results of the survey. Volunteers in devastated areas expect so much action from the government,” Barzaga said. He also said it was unfair to compare the national government efforts to those of foreign governments because the Philippines was a Third World country. Batocabe added that the SWS would not risk its reputation just to show a glowing survey result in favor of the President. “I would like to believe that the President was able to deliver the desired results although some of his subordinates do not definitely enjoy such satisfaction (rating),” Batocabe said. Evardone added: “It shows that the criticisms against the handling of the crisis by the Aquino administration are baseless.” Tambunting said that the “very good” satisfaction rating of Aquino as indicated in the SWS survey was a proof that “the national government has given a lot of focus to these areas, and that the President has done his best to address the needs of those sufferings from the devastation.” The SWS said the survey involved face-to-face interviews with 1,550 adults in Metro Manila (300), the balance of Luzon (300), the Visayas (650) and Mindanao (300). – With Joyce P. Pañares and Macon Ramos-Araneta‐s‐rating‐doubted‐after‐massive‐protests/                        

SC asked to allow bt eggplant tests By Rey E. Requejo | Jan. 27, 2014 at 12:01am The Supreme Court has been asked to allow the field testings in several provinces of bacillus thuringiensis (bt) eggplants, a genetically modified variety that produces its own pesticide. Field tests for the bt eggplant were stopped by the Court of Appeals last year. In a 118-page petition, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Applications appealed to the SC to overturn the CA decision granting the writ of Kalikasan petition filed by groups led by regional chapter of environmental group Greenpeace. The biotechnology agency stressed that it was already established that bt eggplant is safe both for human consumption and the environment—contrary to finding of the CA. “The record is replete with evidence showing that the conduct of the Bt talong field trials is safe to public health and the environment,” ISAAA said, citing study conducted by scientists at the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) that was completed even before the CA ruling. It asserted that the ruling of the appellate court, which ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture and other agencies to permanently cease and desist from further conducting bt talong field trials, was an “affront to scientific progress.” It submitted to the high tribunal findings of studies showing advantages of Bt eggplant planting. Petitioner submitted finding of agricultural biotechnologist Peter Davies showing that Bt crops are safe for human consumption. Davies supported a European Union report on 130 EU research projects, which indicated that eating GM (genetically modified) foods is not different from eating foods with conventional crops. The researches covered a period of more than 25 years and involved more than 500 independent groups. “Not a single rigorous study of GM foods in animals has revealed any adverse effect. Not a single case of allergy, illness, cancer, or death has been shown to be associated with foods derived from GM crops despite the fact they have been consumed by Americans for 16 years,” Davies said, in his report submitted by petitioners. ISAAA also cited finding of entomologist Mario Navasero that “the current common practice of insecticide spraying to control the eggplant fruit and shoot borer is more harmful to the environment, in this case on non-target organisms.” In its decision in May last year, the CA special 13th division granted the writ of Kalikasan petition filed by Greenpeace in April 2012. The CA cited the lack of scientific proof showing bt eggplants as safe to humans.

This, it stressed, violated the constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology–particularly the right to one’s health which should not be put to risk by a willful disturbance of the ecological balance.‐asked‐to‐allow‐bt‐eggplant‐tests/                                            

Traders eye exports of specialty coffee beans to Japan, Korea By Othel V. Campos | Jan. 27, 2014 at 12:01am Coffee traders plan to export green specialty coffee beans to Japan and Korea this year in a bid to promote Philippine coffee globally. The Philippine Coffee Board, a group of coffee farmers and traders, is promoting Philippine coffee varieties as among the best in the world. The group said green specialty coffee exports would give farmers a better income, instead of selling their produce locally at P30 a kilo. “Japan and Korea are big buyers of specialty coffee. These discriminating markets are willing to pay high as P300 per kilo for green specialty beans, or ten folds higher than what farmers usually get for a kilo,” Philippine Coffee Board co-chairman Pacita Juan said over the weekend. Juan said the board also planned to bring Philippine specialty coffee to the Anuga Food Fair in Germany. “We are in San Francisco now for winter. Next will be Japan in March,” she said. Filipino coffee farmers and traders currently export Arabica, washed Robusta, Mindanao M1, Benguet Arabica and Cavite AA coffee. The Philippine Coffee Board stressed the importance of defining and marketing the origins of a produce to add value to local coffee. “Like the wines of France or the potatoes of Idaho. We need to build our own mark, something that we can be proudly remembered for. And that’s what we are doing for our coffee,” Juan said.‐eye‐exports‐of‐specialty‐coffee‐beans‐ to‐japan‐korea/  

Arab fund to create bank By Othel V. Campos | Jan. 27, 2014 at 12:01am The Arab Gulf Program for Development and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the country’s largest business organization, have signed an agreement to create the IBDAA Microfinance Bank to give the poor access to financing their small projects. Prince Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia signed the agreement for AGFUND and PCCI chairman Miguel Varela for the chamber. AGFUND is a non-profit regional development institution established in 1980 by the initiative of Prince Talal, while IBDAA, a brand from the Arab word ‘Innovation,” serves as the conduit for AGFUND money for use in developing countries in the form of microfinance, savings and insurance. Leaders of the Arab gulf states constitute the membership of AGFUND and contribute to its budget. AGFUND is concerned with the support of sustainable human development efforts targeting the neediest in developing countries, especially women and children. Varela said micro, small and medium enterprises in the Philippines accounted for 91 per cent of companies but their lack of access to financing had stunted their growth. “As of last year, only 20 per cent of small businesses had access to capital from local banks,” he said. Most banks, he added, were reluctant to lend beause of the high-risks associated with micro, small and medium scale enterprises and their inability to comply with certain requirements, such as loan collateral and financial records. The chamber along with the Trade Department have set up an SME Center as a onestop shop to help micro-, small- and medium-scale enterprises comply with borrowing requirements.

Impeaching the ‘unimpeachable’ By Francisco S. Tatad | Jan. 27, 2014 at 12:01am

To many observers, President B. S. Aquino III has committed all the crimes, with the possible exception of treason, that constitute grounds for his impeachment. These include culpable violation of the Constitution, bribery, graft and corruption and other high crimes, all of which constitute betrayal of public trust. But even his worst critics agree that no impeachment complaint against him could possibly prosper at this time. It’s all a numbers’ game, they say, and he still has the numbers. By using the pork barrel, otherwise known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund and the Disbursement Acceleration Fund, to impeach and convict Chief Justice Renato Corona and railroad the anti-Catholic Reproductive Health bill, Aquino has made the members of Congress his “partners in crime.” The Supreme Court has since declared the PDAF unconstitutional and is now looking into the constitutionality of the DAP, the much bigger animal. As partners, the congressmen will not want to see Aquino indicted for bribery, corruption or any other crime. For his part, Aquino will want to keep the House of Representatives and the Senate eating out of his hands. Under the Constitution, the House of Representatives has the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment. The Senate has the sole power to try and decide such cases. Any citizen may file a verified complaint for impeachment, provided it is endorsed by at least one member of the House in a resolution for impeachment. A vote of at least one third of all the Members of the House is needed to affirm the resolution recommending impeachment. A vote of two-thirds of the Senate is needed to convict the respondent. No organized opposition party exists in the House outside of the miniscule “independent” group led by Leyte Congressman Ferdinand Martin Romualdez. This is

but a fraction of the “majo-minority” which the House media call “His Excellency’s loyal opposition” because of its known partiality to Aquino. Likewise, no opposition party exists in the Senate despite Malacanang’s efforts to savage three senators for their alleged involvement in the so-called P10-billion pork barrel scam reputedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles. Without the slimmest chance of success, no member of the House, not even the most reckless will want to file or endorse an impeachment complaint against Aquino and take on Malacañang and the ruling Liberal Party all by himself. And without a single congressman endorsing it, no complaint can be filed. This is the exact opposite of what happened during President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s watch. Against Arroyo, the threat of impeachment ran high. So she initiated the filing of halfbaked impeachment complaints against herself just to preempt the opposition from filing an honest-to-goodness complaint. These were drafted in such a way that the House justice committee, to which all these were referred, had no choice but to reject them for being insufficient in form or in substance. This came after the Supreme Court ruled in Francisco v. the House of Representatives in 2003 that no impeachment complaint may be filed against an impeachable official within one year after a previous complaint against the same official had failed to prosper. The ruling, penned by then-Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, now Ombudsman, struck down on that ground the impeachment complaint filed by Congressmen Gilberto Teodoro Jr. and Felix William Fuentebella against then-Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. for his alleged mishandling of the Judiciary Development Fund. The complaint against Davide had already won more votes than were needed to transmit the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate for trial. But the Court ruled that because Davide had been the subject of an impeachment complaint that had failed to prosper, his impeachment now would violate the constitutional provision—“No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year.”

Critics have pointed out this was a gross misreading of the Constitution, which provides that “the House of Representatives (not any individual complainant) shall have the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment.” The only instance, they maintain, when an official may not be subjected to an impeachment proceeding is when that same official has been previously tried by the Senate and acquitted, not when he has been the subject of an impeachment complaint that got nowhere. The SC ruling not only saved Davide from certain trial and possible conviction. It also emasculated the impeachment process as a mechanism for enforcing utmost accountability in the highest constitutional offices. Simply by initiating a flawed impeachment complaint against oneself, an impeachable official could now make sure that no serious impeachment complaint is filed against him or her for a period of one year after the faulty complaint is thrown out. Arroyo made full use of this ruling during her nine years in office. In hindsight, Corona might have escaped impeachment and conviction had he also done what Arroyo did. Aquino could do the same now if he so chooses, and justice will have to wait until after 2016, when he leaves office. But with the Congress under his control, Aquino need not imitate Arroyo. He could presumably well image that imagine that he has become “unimpeachable,” regardless of what the Constitution says—“unsinkable,” as the commander of the Bismarck said, until it was finally sunk. Like the Philistine champion Goliath looking down with disdain at Israel’s armies, Aquino has challenged his critics and adversaries to go ahead and impeach him, if they could. His allies in the House are waiting to kill any impeachment complaint that comes to the Committee on Justice. Should We the People be intimidated by this and simply ignore or brush aside Aquino’s challenge? Prudence is a virtue I dare not spurn, but I take the view that regardless of the odds, the public, not just one individual or a group of individuals, should honor the challenge. This is not without its risks. But it also offers the brightest possible prospects. Although no impeachment complaint might prosper if We, the people simply followed the normal course in preparing and filing such complaints, we need not follow the beaten path. We could be and should be more creative. In this game of numbers, the first thing to do

would be to try to cancel the numerical advantage of Aquino’s House allies. This can be done by deploying as much popular support as possible behind the complaint. By this I mean the complaint should be signed not just by one or several complainants, but possibly by thousands, tens or hundreds of thousands, if not millions of citizens and taxpayers. The complaint should be clear, concise and convincing to the plainest citizen. Then it should then be circulated for signature around the country and abroad, making sure that every district is adequately represented by enough signatories known to the sitting congressman of the district. This is necessary to counter the Aquino’s political hold on the individual members of Congress. The activity would be purely constitutional and non-violent. But it would raise the demand for public accountability to the highest level, and would be revolutionary in spirit. Every citizen would be free to take part in it. It would be a free exercise of “people power” without anyone taking to the streets. But those who sign the complaint commit themselves to take to the streets, if and when it becomes necessary to resist injustice. The process of collecting signatures on the complaint could raise the political temperature of the nation as much as the desired result. It should not only energize the citizenry, it should also change the political attitudes, beliefs, dispositions and habits of everyone in government. Like US President Richard Nixon who resigned when threatened with impeachment at the height of Watergate, Aquino could voluntarily vacate his office. This is not predicted, but it should not be discounted. In this regard, it may be necessary for those hungering for reforms to begin organizing themselves to support the next government. Aquino’s successor will most certainly need it. Those who have been working silently at the grassroots to sow the seeds of national transformation around the country may now want to formally coalesce into a National Transformation Council for this purpose. They could become the active clearing house and steering committee of this entire effort.

But, what happens now if and when one million or more signatures prevail over Aquino’s control of the House, finally get him impeached, and the Articles of Impeachment transmitted to the Senate for trial? Can we rely on a Senate which Aquino thoroughly corrupted during the Corona impeachment trial to try and decide the new case with “impartial justice”? The prosecution will need 16 votes to convict the impeached president. But of the 24 senator-judges, 17 had been dirtied by the Corona affair. Sixteen (16) had voted for conviction after receiving P50 million or more from the DAP. The 17th , a former congressman, succeeded his senator-father who had also received P50 million; on his own, he was a spokesman for the prosecution during the Corona trial. Another senator, a first-termer, is a first cousin of the President. Of the remaining six, four are first-termers, two are second-termers. The two secondtermers did not vote for Corona’s conviction and did not get P50 million each. Of the four other first-termers, one, a former congresswoman, succeeded her senator-husband who had voted for conviction and got P50 million, while another, also a former congressman, has a half-brother-senator who had voted for conviction and got his 50 million. Under the circumstances, We the People will have two choices. The first is to disqualify the 17 senators from sitting in the impeachment trial because of their tainted records, and the 18th senator because of kinship with the respondent. In a proceeding that needs 16 votes to convict, this would leave a minority of six senator-judges, so it would amount to disqualifying the entire Senate. Without a Senate court to try the case, the one million or so complainants might decide to take their case to the streets. The second choice is to ignore the senators’ previous record and give them the benefit of the doubt. Senate President Frank Drilon and the 23 other senators will once again take their oath to render “impartial justice” as though they were doing so for the first time, while they put their chief ally in the dock. It will be an entirely new experience for most of them. In the 2001 Estrada impeachment trial and in Corona’s 2012 trial, they sat as prosecutors disguised as senator-judges. In a sudden reversal of roles, they will now be working for the defense.

But the people will be there watching their every move, their every possible misstep. They will be judging the entire government, not just Aquino. Many things that had been tolerated before should no longer be tolerated now. The senator-judges will have to be told that it is no longer simply their reputation that’s at stake, but their very lives as well. They have to decide whom to save: themselves or Aquino? The country or Aquino?

Dangerous whispers By Fr. Ranhilio Aquino | Jan. 27, 2014 at 12:01am

Impeachment and the trial that follow it are political exercises, in the sense that they are means the Constitution gives the political branches of government to exercise a check on the Judiciary (and some other constitutionally independent offices). Somewhere along the line, someone coined the phrase “political justice”, and that has provided reason enough for bullies to be brash about “political” (like buying votes is “political”) and to be reticent about “justice”, uttering it sotto voce, if it is even mentioned at all. This, for the perverse, is the reason that an impeachment trial need not be fair. It is enough that judgment is pronounced! Last time I read the Constitution, Article XI mentioned “trial” by the Senate, and unless the word has meanwhile acquired a heretofore unknown meaning somewhere along the Path of Righteousness, a trial means that evidence is received by impartial judges so that the verdict must be based on evidence and law, no matter that the judges may be politicians. To attempt a rebuttal by insisting that senators cannot be impartial because they are partisan is the same thing as saying that they cannot be just—which might indeed be closer to the truth, but is certainly not what constitutional theory, in respect to impeachment trials, assumes and requires. In fact, a trial before judges who cannot be partial is a contradiction in terms. If the Constitution did not intend an honest-to-goodness trial, then the Fundamental Law would have been mandating a farce, something so repugnant to any self-respecting political society that it need not be belabored. It would have been far more honest to allow a bill of attainder against high officials of the land that legislators wished booted out of office. But the Constitution provides for the mechanics of indictment, through Articles of Impeachment, and then trial by the Senate. In fact, the senators who sit in

judgment take an oath—obviously to discharge their duty of judging fairly, because they are already under oath as senators! In any trial, any ex parte communication between an interested party and a judge or judges is not only improper but actionable in two ways: the judge may be called to account for his conduct, or the proceedings may be assailed as tainted by partiality! It will be recalled that the original Articles of Impeachment against former President Joseph Estrada included the charge that he had attempted to influence the outcome of an investigation that the SEC, then under Perfecto Yasay, was conducting against some who were believed to be the President’s buddies. The President made publicly known both before and during the trial that he wanted Renato Corona out of the Supreme Court. He did so to Corona’s face, asking rhetorically during a speech at which the Chief Justice was also present—and in a manner markedly distant from the ways of true statesmanship—how the Supreme Court could be fair when it was presided over by someone who PNoy alleged remained loyal to the predecessor he hates with a vengeance? His communication with senators was therefore really “ex parte” communication because he was an interested party. I am not going to chant the senators’ praises now—not Senator Revilla’s nor Senator Estrada’s— because they could, and should, have come out sooner to tell all and sundry that something very wrong had taken place. But their belated change of heart notwithstanding, their revelations remain legally and morally significant because they establish that ex parte communication did take place. An allegation corroborated by Malacañang that has admitted that meetings, albeit for a different purpose, did take place. And that takes me to my next point. No one with sufficient discretion to distinguish between true and false will subscribe to the pathetic attempt to exculpate the President: He met with the Senators to urge them to resist pressure and to judge fairly. Had the President made that announcement in public—urged the senators to judge independently of any consideration, especially his favors, graces, and rewards —he would have won the applause of the nation, mine particularly. But to meet them clandestinely, and to engage the services of the DILG

Secretary as chauffeur ad hoc—all this fits better into a cloak-and-dagger operation than in the context of an exhortation to be just. To attempt to influence the outcome of a trial is to pervert due process. It is to attempt to deny a person his right to a fair hearing, and to a judgment based on evidence and law. It is the exercise of raw power and unconcealed influence to cause the removal of the head of a co-equal branch of government. It constitutes a betrayal of the public’s trust that the President uphold the rights of all, and the Rule of Law. It culpably violates the Constitution that binds the President, by oath, to do justice to every person and to uphold the fundamental law. It is definitely a far more serious offense that misstating entries in one’s SALN!

Corruption, poverty and cybersex crimes By Rita Linda V. Jimeno | Jan. 27, 2014 at 12:01am

Nothing is more horrifying and disgusting than innocent children being driven to child pornography and cyber sex, often by their own relatives or even parents. It makes one wonder if the perpetrators do not have children or young sisters and brothers, or if they have feelings at all. Because the Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country and its people are known for their strong family ties, a regular Filipino will never imagine that child pornography and trafficking of children into the cybersex trade exist here. But, apparently, they are happening right in our backyard. In news reports, both in print and on international television, a dark shadow was again cast on the already teetering image of the Philippines to the outside world on account of corruption, the inability of government to ensure peace and order, and a snail-paced justice system. It was reported by foreign media that child pornography is on the rise in the Philippines and that rampant corruption in all levels of government has helped the illegal trade to flourish. The law enforcers, on the other hand, have blamed the proliferation of the trade on the slow criminal justice process. Police officials said that they have filed complaints against several persons caught operating cybersex dens in Prosecutors’ Offices many months ago but these cases are still sitting in those offices, unresolved. A report released this month by the Philippine National Police said that the Philippines is now a key hub of the billion-dollar global child cybersex industry. The victims are mostly girls and boys below 18. Some are as young as six years of age. They are made to perform lewd acts in front of cameras and their videos are streamed to any part of the world with pedophiles willing to pay to view. The streaming is done inside hotel rooms, private houses, sometimes, in shanties in blighted urban areas. The report said that

about 31 provinces in the Philippines are sites of the crime with Angeles city, Cebu City and Cagayan de Oro topping the list. Most of those who pay to view are from the United States and Europe, the report said. In a report by CNN, a 14-year-old girl who was rescued from a cybersex den narrated that she was enticed by a cousin to go to Manila from her town in Negros Oriental to work as a nanny. In Manila, she was brought to a two-storey house and locked up in a room with no windows. She said that she, along with other girls, was made to strip naked. They were ordered to perform sexual acts before a camera and would be forced to work day and night. An uncle of hers, she said, operated the den. In CNN’s feature, it said that the case of the rescued girl was “only one of many playing out every day in a nation where the conditions--widespread poverty, an established sex trade, a predominantly-English speaking, technically literate population and widespread internet access—have made it easy for crimes like this to flourish.” These reports highlight the many stark and disconcerting contradictions in Philippine society. We have the largest Catholic population in the whole of Asia. We pride ourselves on being family-oriented and protective toward our children. We have many laws that protect children, among which are the Anti-Child Pornography Law, the Law against Child Abuse and the Anti-Violence against Women and their Children Law. That young boys and girls are pushed to the trade, sometimes by their own parents, can only mean that more primordial reasons must be the root cause: hunger and poverty. *** The administration has been trumpeting that it has achieved economic gains but a recent survey by the Social Weather Stations found that 55 per cent of the respondents said they were poor, up from 50 per cent only three months ago. This translates into about 11.8 million Filipino families rating themselves as poor while some 8.8 million families or 41 per cent said they were “food-poor,” up from 37 per cent in September last year. This brings to mind the President’s campaign tagline in the 2010 elections, “Kung walang corrupt walang mahirap” (If no one is corrupt, no one will be poor.)

With the rise in the number of poor Filipinos, triggering a rise in such despicable crimes as child pornography and cybersex trafficking of young children, will the administration now admit that corruption in government is alive and thriving? The President has pinned the blame on the three senators charged with misusing and abusing their pork barrel or PDAF, and other legislators, as the corrupt ones who stole public funds. He continues to be in denial as to the existence of corruption in his official family. But slowly, the Filipino people are seeing that he cannot extricate himself from the web of corruption in government. The time for denials is up. In less than three years, the President will step down. He will be judged by what he has achieved in relation to his campaign promises and taglines. If only to stop the trafficking of innocent children into the sex trade, poverty must be addressed. And this means a serious effort to stop corruption, beginning at the top in all branches of government where it matters most.

The travails of Boy Pick-up By Bong Austero | Jan. 26, 2014 at 12:01am

When Senator Bong Revilla “baptized” Interior Secretary Mar Roxas as “Boy Pick-up” last week, we all knew the intent was to denigrate further Roxas’ status as the administration’s putative presidential candidate in 2016. But we also knew Revilla was also trying to be cute, funny and memorable. He succeeded, I guess, since quite a number seemed to have found Roxas’ new nickname funny. Not to be outdone, Senator Jinggoy Estrada jumped on the bandwagon and hastily baptized Budget Secretary Butch Abad as “Boy Miron” a few days ago. Boy Pick-up and Boy Miron are just two of the long and still growing list of derogatory nicknames we’ve assigned to our leaders, which include Abnoy (retarded), Nognog (black boy), Tanda (old fogey), Pogi (Handsome), Sexy, Brenda (for Brain damaged), Pinky (sissy), Berdugo (butcher), Pandak (dwarf), Baluga (black girl), etc. In another place and time, both senators would have already been called racists and bigots for assigning derogatory names to others and for their seeming condescending attitude towards people who take on the role of drivers, delivery personnel, and kibitzers. Last I looked, these occupations were still considered honorable. But we happen to be in the Philippines were politicians are always convenient targets for a laugh or two so most simply giggled and thought a little dig at those in power every now and then couldn’t hurt. Political correctness is a very ambiguous concept in our country. Because I was the sickly nerd who got freakish grades while growing up, I know how it is to be called derogatory names that some people thought were funny. I have always been uncomfortable with name calling particularly when clearly indicative of bullying. Let’s face it, what is being done to Roxas is a plain and simple case of bullying. Oh, I still think that he could have shown better leadership and management skills in Tacloban City during and after supertyphoon Yolanda struck and he basically bungled things up at the Department of Transportation (the wait for plates for new cars now averages a year and one can no longer choose the end number of one’s new plate!). But I don’t think making him the whipping boy of the Aquino administration is fair, particularly since the chances of his becoming the next President of the country is already virtually nil. It’s just not okay to kick a man when he is down and Revilla and Estrada should know this given the fact that they were sniveling in public and complaining of being bullied just a few months ago. But more importantly, I am aghast that the Aquino administration seems to have deserted Roxas and is content with just watching him being pilloried.

It is possible of course that Roxas may actually have a martyr complex that he likes being Aquino’s doormat. He gave up his presidential ambition to play second fiddle to the person he considers his “Dinggoy” (his greatly lamented younger brother). He soldiered on during the campaign despite the blatant treachery – it turned out an internal faction was working on an Aquino-Binay ticket. Many times in the life of this administration, Roxas has been the designated axe man or fall guy. How much more embarrassment is he willing to take from this administration who so far seems oblivious to or plainly unappreciative of his efforts at self-annihilation? I am not sure Roxas’s new nickname as Boy Pick-up will stick the way Mr. Palengke did for a while, unless of course he finds a way to turn Boy Pick-up into a campaign strategy and mine it for all its inherent marketing potential. In this country, anything is possible.

CJ’s high-profile ‘kumpare’ January 26, 2014 9:52 pm by JOMAR CANLAS

Retired Supreme Court Justice Florentino Feliciano is listed as a sponsor in this Sereno-Buenaventura wedding invitation. CHIEF Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is being pushed to inhibit herself from the complaint filed against the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) because the company’s lawyer, retired Supreme Court Justice Florentino Feliciano, is a kumpare and the former mentor of the head magistrate. Feliciano was one of the principal sponsors or ninongs in the wedding of Sereno’s son, Jose Lorenzo, and Maria Clarissa Buenaventura last Saturday. The wedding was held at the Diocesan Shrine and Parish of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus on Marcos Highway, Antipolo City. The reception followed at Velada Estate in Don Juan Street Villa Cecilia Subdivision, Mambugan, Antipolo. The other principal sponsors were three retired chief justices—Hilario Davide Jr., Artemio Panganiban and Reynato Puno. Only former chief justice Renato Corona was not tapped as principal sponsor. Sereno almost testified at Corona’s impeachment trial in 2012.

Among the incumbent Supreme Court magistrates, only Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe was invited as a principal sponsor. Judge Roberto Buenaventura and Dr. Sonia Buenaventura are the new “balae” of the chief justice and her husband, Mario Jose Sereno. According to a high-ranking official in the Court, Sereno must inhibit herself because of her close association with Feliciano. “Meilou (Sereno’s nickname) must inhibit because Justice Feliciano is her law partner. And now he is a sponsor in the wedding of her son,” the source said. Sereno assisted Feliciano in the case involving the Philippine International Air Terminals Co., Inc. (Piatco), builder of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3. Observers said Sereno could be violating the Internal Rules of the SC for her failure to inhibit herself from the case filed by several groups questioning the P4.15 per kilowatthour rate increase imposed by Meralco last December. The Court has stopped the implementation of the rate hike and is hearing oral arguments from the complainants and respondents. Under the Internal Rules, an SC justice must not participate in a case where a former law partner serves as counsel. Rule 8, Section 3C states that “when a Member of the Division, other than the Member in charge of the case, was counsel or partner or member of a law firm that is or was counsel in the case before the Division, such member shall inhibit himself or herself, unless the Member was no longer a partner or member of the law firm when it was engaged as counsel in the case and the Member votes against the client of such firm.” Another provision states that “the mandatory inhibition shall cease after the lapse of ten years from the resignation or withdrawal of the Member from the law firm, unless the Member personally handled the case when he or she was a partner or member of the law firm.” Based on the provision, the 10-year ban covers Sereno since she last worked with Feliciano in the Piatco case in 2008.

Sereno, through SC Public Information Office Chief Theodore Te, had insisted that she and Feliciano were not law partners. Meralco scrutiny Meralco’s unprecedented rate increase has also come under scrutiny in the Senate. On Sunday, Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th vowed to look at the books and contracts of Meralco to find out if the utility firm deceived its customers. Trillanes said it is obvious that the utility company tried to hide its plan to impose another rate increase this month, which would double the bill of its customers. He said he learned of Meralco’s plan to raise its rate by more than P10 per kilowatt-hour despite assuring the Senate last year that there will be no increase in January. “They (Meralco) are aware that there will be an increase this month but they are not saying anything, that is why I asked them to submit their financial documents that will justify the increase,” he said.Trillanes said a contracted price should not be “floating”. He noted that Meralco is allowed to adjust its prices to increase rate but not to lower it. “This should not be the case, the reason why the government decided to privatize Meralco is for it to be more efficient, but we can clearly see that this is not happening,” he added. Trillanes noted that a contracted price should be fixed. If there was a supply shortage, the power supplier should shoulder the balance and not pass the burden to consumers. “These are the things the ERC (Energy Regulatory Board) should be checking to protect the consumers, but obviously they are not doing it, that is why I’m taking on this duty but the government should sack the ERC head,” he said.He refuted the claim of Malcañang that the President has no power to force Ducut out of the ERC, saying such statement shows the weak leadership of President Benigno Aquino 3rd.Trillanes said he is not convinced that the President is powerless to remove Ducut. “They ganged up on Corona to force him out of the Supreme Court, yet they are now saying that they are powerless to remove the ERC chair?” he said.

Malacañang admits Epira defective January 26, 2014 9:51 pm by JOEL M. SY EGCO MALACAñANG on Sunday admitted that the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) is defective because it contains provisions that run counter to the intent of the law, which is to ensure reasonable electricity rates. Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Palace is throwing it support to some sectors that are pushing the repeal or amendment of the EPIRA law. “The one that was passed sought to propose reforms and we realized that the provisions are not enough because we noted a lot of weaknesses or provisions that do not really help but instead are even damaging,” Coloma said. The official said it is high time for all stakeholders to engage in wide discussions to determine the views of those in the power sector. Coloma said stakeholders must join these discussions and suggest concrete actions that should be taken and come up with a national consensus on what the new EPIRA law should contain. “That’s why all stakeholders must prepare and the government will do what is right to ensure a smooth process in accepting proposals for a new legislative proposal that would pave the way for reforms in the electric power industry,” he stressed. He said it is important for power industry players, lawmakers, the executive branch and other agencies concerned to join the consultations and craft measures to reform the existing law. Critics noted that while the EPIRA law of 2001 vows “to ensure transparent and reasonable prices of electricity in a regime of free and fair competition, ” it contains provisions that is contrary to this objective.

Its section 45, for instance, specifies limits to the corporate elite’s participation in the industry in order “to promote true market competition and prevent harmful monopoly and market power abuse.” The second paragraph of this particular provision adds that “distribution utilities may enter into bilateral power supply contracts subject to review by Energy Regulatory Commission [ERC].” Critics noted that this provision subverts the goal idea of creating a competitive market for the trade in electricity. Such a market could have brought prices down. Instead of participating in a spot market, generators and distributors could simply resort to bilateral contracts, since the cost of electricity purchased by a distributor such as Manila Electric Company (Meralco) would be passed on to consumers anyway. This provision negates the intention of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) since more than 90 percent of its transactions does not Involve spot trading but bilateral contracts. The WESM, which was created to bring down the cost of electricity for ordinary consumers and industries, therefore, is ineffective, according to critics. Since the Epira allows bilateral contracts indefinitely, generators and distributors entered into bilateral contracts. Coloma, meanwhile, scored power generators and other industry players for their failure to prepare for the adverse impact of the maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya gas plant. He said President Benigno Aquino 3rd himself had set three basic principles with regard to the problem of high power costs. “Number one, preparation and contingency planning. Because the shutdown of Malampaya was made known to all industry players that’s why they should have prepared for that,” Coloma further stressed. “The second is the aspect of regulation. The EPIRA prohibits collusion, especially if this would result to unjust costs which brings us to the third aspect which is to defend the

interest of the people and ensuring that they will not be burdened by high electricity rates,” the official added. Coloma also agreed with Sen. Sonny Angara that red tape should be removed from the application for the entry of new power plants where around 100 signatures of government officials are needed. He said there is a need for new players to come in. “That’s why we are one with proposals like that which would remove hurdles that prolong the process of application to ensure that new plants that will suplly electricity,” he pointed out. At the same time, Coloma said there is a “sense of urgency” in the ongoing probe on the alleged collusion among power generators and Meralco in hiking power rates. “There are many angles, many aspects and it has complexities. This is not a simple issue… and this aspect is being thoroughly studied by the DOE [Department of Energy] and Office of Competition of [the] Department of Justice,” Coloma said.

Housing units for ‘Yolanda’ survivors on track – Binay January 26, 2014 9:47 pm by RITCHIE A. HORARIO VICE President Jejomar Binay on Sunday said the construction of decent and safe housing units for the survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda in the province of Leyte is on track. The National Housing Authority (NHA) in partnership with Gawad Kalinga (GK) is currently building the Prime Town Housing Projects Phases 1 and 2, with 822 housing units in barangays Pago and Maribi in Tanauan, Leyte. Binay said the units will conform with the design parameters prescribed by the National Building Code, Design for Socialized and Economic Housing and other related laws. This, he added, will make sure that the housing units will be able to withstand natural calamities and extreme weather conditions. Binay, who is also the housing czar, said more than 6,000 families will benefit from the project. “This permanent housing program is only the beginning of more projects that will benefit the 6,670 families who lost their homes when Yolanda struck last year,” he said. The NHA-GK partnership is among the several housing programs that will be launched in coordination with the private sector. “We hope that this venture with Gawad Kalinga will spur more partnerships not only with the private sector but with other government agencies and non-government organizations to expedite the recovery of our brothers and sisters in the Visayas region,” NHA General Manager Chito Cruz said.

Senate set to start probe on bunkhouses January 26, 2014 9:47 pm by JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA THE Senate committee on public works has invited Secretary Panfilo Lacson, the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery, and Public Works chief Rogelio Singson to shed light on the alleged substandard and overpriced bunkhouses for survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda. Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chair of the committee, said Lacson could provide useful information that will help the committee unearth the truth behind the alleged anomaly. The rehabilitation czar earlier claimed receiving information that the bunkhouses were substandard. Singson, who is expected to appear at the hearing on Wednesday, admitted that some of the specifications in the construction of the bunkhouses were not followed. The Public Works chief however denied allegations on overpricing. Also invited to the hearing is architect and urban planner Arch. Felino Palafox, who insisted that the bunkhouses were “substandard and undersized, and are not fit for human habitation.” “It is crucial to look into these issues to make sure that the victims of Yolanda will no longer be victimized further by corruption and abuses perpetrated by the callous culprits who take advantage of the desolate condition in the affected areas,” Marcos said. Meanwhile, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will resume its investigation on the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam on Thursday, focusing on the registration, accreditation, and monitoring of non-government organizations involved in government contracts.

The blue ribbon panel also requested Commission on Audit Chairman Grace PulidoTan, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Teresita Herbosa, and Governance Commission for Government Owned or Controlled Corporations chief Cesar Villanueva to appear at the Senate.

NFA gave ‘legal cover’ to rice smugglers January 26, 2014 8:12 pm by FRANCIS EARL A. CUETO Militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) on Sunday revealed that a trading company linked to Davidson Bangayan is included in the list of rice importers accredited by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and National Food Authority (NFA). Bangayan is alleged to be the same person as David Tan, tagged as the “goliath” of rice smuggling in the country. The KMP furnished the media with a document submitted by the NFA to the House of Representatives during the budget deliberations last year, which states the “status of the Importation of Well-Milled Rice under the Country Specific Quota (CSQ) of 163,000 metric tons for the Year 2013 which is undertaken by the private sector and Farmers Organization.” The two-page document signed by NFA administrator Orlan Calayag states: “As of September 3, 2013, we [NFA] were able to issue import permits to five entities out of 31 applicant importers.” On top of Calayag’s list is Starcraft International Trading Corp., which is allegedly owned by Bangayan. Also included are San Miguel MPC, Bold Bidder Marketing and General Mdse., Inter-Continental Grains International Trading Inc., and Kwin Rice Trading. During the Senate committee on agriculture’s hearing last Wednesday, it was alleged that Bangayan is connected with Starcraft. In the same hearing, Bold Bidder Marketing was cited by a customs official for acquiring an injunction order from a court in Lemery, Batangas even before the shipment ordered by the company arrived.

The KMP said, “The whole time in this noise on rice smuggling, the Aquino government, DA secretary Proceso Alcala and NFA’s Calayag made it appear that these rice smugglers operate underground when, in fact, they are the ones who granted import permits.” “The NFA couldn’t have issued import permits to Starcraft and other rice importers if they do not know who’s behind the applicant importers,” said KMP deputy Secretary General Willy Marbella. “Alcala and Calayag’s political role-playing is over. Calayag’s list shows that all along the NFA and the DA knows the identity of rice smugglers because they are the ones who provided legal cover for them,” he stressed. The KMP also explained that the current rice trade liberalization policy implemented by the Aquino government has turned the Philippines into a dumping ground of imported rice.

Cold weather detrimental to fisheries, environment January 26, 2014 8:08 pm by ERNIE ESCONDE AND GABY S. KEITH THOUGH the cold weather is a welcome respite for lowlanders like city dwellers in Metro Manila, the current cold spells have heavy toll on the fishing industry in Bataan and the environment in Baguio. Fish vendor Imelda Sebastian of the Orani public market said fish commonly caught in the sea are hardly there but so far the inadequate supply has not yet impacted the prices of species like hasa-hasa, asohos, bisugo, kitang, lapu-lapu because of the low temperatures. What is being sold now are inland species like bangus and tilapia, the supply of which are stable at the moment. As for big crabs, they can hardly move in the cold water with some of them collapsing and scraping the walls of fishponds and rivers, said Anthony Herrera, a wholesaler and fishpond owner. The same is true with prawns, which die at 1.5 months. Prices of prawns, shrimps, crabs and bangus have so far not increased yet at the retail markets, Herrera added. Efren Magbanua, a fishpond caretaker, shared Herrera’s observation as he stated that bangus, crabs and shrimps can hardly move or breed at this time because of the cold water from the persistent cold weather. Magbanua said he just harvested bangus at six months old. A kilo would comprise of 10 pieces, when during normal weather, a kilo would only be six with an average weight of 500 grams apiece. Hector Sy said the cold weather has also its big effect on prawns. He supplies most of the prawn fry needs in Bataan.

A prawn hatchery owner in Batangas City said prawn fries can hardly grow and change their shells, their growth is stunted and making them grow bigger under this kind of weather entails bigger investments. In Baguio meantime, the Environmental Management Bureau—Cordillera said that the air quality in the city and other areas could worsen because of the colder weather. EMB-CAR Planning Division OIC-Chief Wilhelmina Lagunilla said the city’s cold weather could cause the pollutants to stay in the air longer than during the warmer or normal weather. She said recent studies and air quality monitoring by the agency showed that air pollution is being experienced more during the cold weather. She said the pollutants such as vehicle emission and other sources are suspended in the air longer due to the colder weather that may create more pollution in the city of Baguio and other areas affected by the cold climate. Lagunilla said colder weather will make the total particulate matter from the source of pollutants dissipate in the air slower than the usual and these particulate may be breathe in by people. The traffic congestion at the Central Business District is seen as one of the sources of pollutants particularly during the weekends when the traffic number coding is lifted and all sorts of vehicles ply the city’s main thoroughfares. Lagunilla commended the project of the city to maintain plants and other vegetation as it is a good intervention in lessening the air pollution in the central business district since the plants can take in some pollutants such as carbon monoxide from the vehicle emissions. Since the start of the year, the temperature in the city has been dropping making more people want to come and experience the cold weather in the Summer Capital. A cold 9.6 degrees Celsius was the lowest recorded temperature here recently.

Housing for cops, soldiers worse than bunkhouses! January 26, 2014 9:08 pm by ERWIN TULFO Erwin Tulfo If the substandard bunkhouses in Tacloban, Leyte, which are merely temporary shelter, became a major issue, read this: the President’s housing project for policemen and soldiers in Pagadian City is unlivable. The 2,000 uniformed beneficiaries and their families refuse to move into their new homes because aside from its unsafe structural quality, the houses look like pigpens. The project is part of the 10-point agenda of the President in 2010 under the National Housing Authority (NHA) program for the police and AFP personnel which is worth P400 million. Reports reaching this columnist say that the materials, such as the metal, cement, and hollow blocks, used in the building of the houses did not conform with the standards of the National Building Code of the Philippines. Laurasia Realty Corp., the company that built the houses, is now wanted by several sub-contractors for failing to pay them for the work they did in the housing project. According to Engineer Vivencio Cagampang, one of the subcontractors, Laurasia’s Chairman Asuncion Martinez refused to pay them despite their pleas. Worse, the Pagadian NHA office under Engineer Timmy Sicsican admitted that the housing project did not go through a bidding process because it is a special project of the President. Really??? But I thought all government projects should be bidded under the Procurement Act?

Even University of the East’s Law Dean Amado Valdez was surprised upon hearing that the housing program of the President did not go through the bidding process in selecting its constructor, the Laurasia Realty Corp. Dean Valdez said all government projects should pass through the bids and awards committee of each agency under the Procurement Act unless in extreme circumstance or conditions like during emergencies. What’s also surprising, the NHA has already paid Laurasia for its lousy job without even checking the quality of work and structures built by the company. Another question that NHA has to answer is why Laurasia was chosen among the dozen of construction companies who applied to build the project. Evidently, the boards of the AFP and PNP Housing Programs chose Laurasia to do the job. But what could be their basis for picking Laurasia for the project? Hmmmm… I wonder what Pnoy’s reaction will be once he learns that somebody made a big chunk of money from his pet housing project that is unlivable, therefore, a waste of the people’s money. I also heard that despite this “slippage” or derogatory report against Laurasia, it was awarded a P30 billion housing project by Pag-ibig recently. The reason? My source at Pag-ibig said Laurasia’s chairman used to be an executive of the agency. But that’s for the next issue folks.

Death for corrupt court, exec officials January 26, 2014 9:09 pm by TITA C. VALDERAMA Tita C. Valderama Restoring the death penalty is a divisive and hotly-debated issue for many years anywhere in the world, but it always comes up when gruesome and brutal murders committed against the helpless make into the headlines. Just last week, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada raised the issue when the Manila Police presented to him 34-year-old pedicab driver Mark Avila who confessed to raping and killing a six-year-old girl in Pandacan on Jan. 19. Avila said he was high on drugs when he raped the hapless girl, who was found dead without any underwear in a grassy portion of the old PNR station in Paco. Two days after the brutal crime, he was arrested when his identity was established based on a barangay closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage showing him tugging the girl before she was found dead. House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, immediately shot down the proposal even before it is pushed in Congress. The Catholic prelate reminded Estrada that “a life lost due to crime cannot be restored by ending the life of a criminal.� The Catholic Church advocates restorative justice, an approach to justice where offenders are encouraged to own up to the crime, apologize, compensate the victims, and become productive. Estrada himself faced the death penalty when he was charged with plunder 13 years ago. But Congress repealed it and then President Gloria Arroyo signed Republic Act 9346, abolishing the death penalty and restoring life imprisonment as the capital punishment.

Just a few days after the Sandiganbayan convicted Estrada of plunder in 2007, Arroyo granted him executive clemency. Proposals to restore the death penalty came out also when incidents of carjacking, kidnapping and homicide were on the rise a few years ago. Year after year, proposals are filed in Congress for the imposition of death on certain crimes. Right now, one bill (HB 1213) seeks “the higher prescribed penalty, including death� on foreign nationals convicted of trafficking dangerous drugs. President Benigno Aquino 3rd had said he was not in favor of the death penalty due to the possibility that under an imperfect justice system, the state may be executing the wrong person. Indeed, the imposition of a death penalty must be balanced by a reliable judicial system. Perhaps advocates of the death penalty should rethink their strategy. Why not highlight on imposing the death sentence on policemen, lawyers, prosecutors, judges and justices involved in cases of wrongful judgments? With the death penalty in effect, it cannot be denied that there were charged offenders who were convicted on offenses committed by others. Depriving a wrongfully-charged person of his liberty is as worse a crime as killing him slowly. If those found erring in bringing to court a fall guy who ends up convicted for a crime he did not commit should face the judgment on the wrongfully-charged person. This could perhaps make law enforcers and officers of the court to be cautious and judicious in their actions to make sure that nobody is held responsible for a crime committed by another person. It should send strong signals that justice cannot be bought and put the innocent to death. What about on government officials, including those in state-run corporations, who pocket millions of pesos in commissions or kickbacks from contracts and other shenanigans while in public office?

Stealing through any means from the public coffers is as good as depriving people of opportunities to benefit from services like education, health, and livelihood for which the stolen money could have been used. The death sentence should instil fear in corrupt politicians and government officials and employees and probably force them to “moderate (their) greed.” The Philippines adopted the death penalty in 1994 after years of heated debates in Congress. Section 19, Article III (Bill of Rights) of the 1987 Constitution says: “excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment inflicted. Neither shall death penalty be imposed, unless, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, the Congress hereafter provides for it. Any death penalty already imposed shall be reduced to reclusion perpetua.”In mid-1987, a bill was submitted in the House of Representatives, seeking to reinstate the death penalty on 15 ‘heinous crimes’, including murder, rebellion and the import or sale of prohibited drugs. In 1988, the military started lobbying for the imposition of the death penalty for crimes such as rebellion, murder and drug-trafficking. The bill passed the House with 130 votes for restoration and 25 against it in spite of strong opposition largely from religious and human rights groups. In the Senate, three similar bills were filed following a bloody coup in 1989, imposing death penalty for rebellion, sedition, subversion and insurrection. When Fidel Ramos was elected president in 1992, he pushed Congress to pass a law restoring the capital punishment. On December 13, 1993, Ramos signed Republic Act 7659, imposing the death penalty on certain heinous crimes, including raping a minor, and drug-related offenses. The law took effect in January 1994 but executions through lethal injection were carried out only during the term of his successor, Joseph Estrada, until he declared a moratorium in 1999 and granted executive clemency to 108 death-row convicts as he asked Congress to repeal the Death Penalty Law.

Abad, a bad liar January 26, 2014 9:38 pm

by RIGOBERTO TIGLAO On September 26, 2013, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad replied to Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s allegations that President Aquino bribed senator judges with the release of their pork-barrel funds to convict Chief Justice Renato Corona in his impeachment trial: “We were careful not to make PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) releases before, during or after the trial,” he said. This was reported, using the exact same words, by the Manila Times, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star, and Manila Bulletin as well as in the websites of ABS-CBN and GMA7. They used exactly the same quote since Abad sent his reply through a text message, which had been forwarded to me too. Such a bad liar the budget secretary is. Not only bad, but also a foolish liar. Why would he claim that there were no pork barrel releases when the website of his department has data on releases of pork-barrel funds in 2012, officially called Priority Development Assistance Funds? In fact, P1 billion of the senators’ pork barrel was released in the three months before the May 29 vote that found Corona guilty, and another P800 million in the three months after. In fact three senators — Ramon Revilla, Francis Escudero, and Lito Lapid — got their pork barrel, P86, P46, and P50 million respectively — just a few days before the May 29, 2012 vote that booted Corona out.

Image of data on PDAF releases at DBM’s website: But “no record”, DBM officials say. 012

Then last Friday, in response to my column (“Aquino gave Revilla his P86 M pork after their meeting, January 23), Abad claimed: “You should get a more objective and reliable source. The fact that Tiglao says so doesn’t make it so. Bribery is not a matter of opinion; it is a matter of evidence.” My report though is not just a matter of opinion, but actually more of a reportage based on claims made by both identified (among them, Corona’s defense lawyer Jose Roy, who first made the allegations at the height of the trial, in February last year and more recently, Senator Jinggoy Estrada) and unidentified sources (among them, aghast budget department officials), which allegations are bolstered by objective evidence — the data posted at he website of Abad’s department. Why did Abad claim that no PDAF were released “before, during or after the trial” when in fact there were such releases? Was Abad trying to mislead the press from checking the facts by issuing a blanket denial that no such releases of pork barrel were made at all, and therefore there wasn’t even an opportunity for bribery? But perhaps Abad’s problem is that he has such incompetent staff. One Peachy Paderna, his public information chief, texted our reporter, which statement was published: “We checked our website and found no record of such a release. You can also check the site if you’d like to.” I’m afraid Ms. Paderna doesn’t know what her department’s website contains, or maybe she is so internet-illiterate she doesn’t know how to navigate it to get to the information posted there. I’d like to help her out by providing her with step-by-step instructions only an idiot wouldn’t understand: After getting to website, mouseover the “e-Fund Releases,” and in the drop-down menu click the “Priority Development Assistance Fund” and you will get to thePDAF page. Choose 2012 (when the impeachment trial occurred) for the period, and click “View”. When you get to the page entitled “Summary of PDAF Releases for Fiscal Year 2012,” click the Upper House link and you will get the page showing a list of the Senators, and the PDAF amounts released to each.

Then click on the name of the Senator whose PDAF releases you want to check out. For example, click “Revilla, Ramon, Jr.” and voila! you’ll see a page listing each and every PDAF fund released to him, its purpose, date released, and amounts. (You can even download the file in excel or pdf format or go to this direct link.) There you’ll see PDAF releases to Senator Revilla May 4 and 7, and if you add all the releases on these dates, these will total P86 million, which not coincidentally was released to him a week before the May 29 vote. And the DBM official says she “found no record of such a release”? Was she looking for an “P86 million”? I’m afraid though that the list doesn’t contain the label “bribe” if Paderna was looking for that, and failing to find this, claimed there was no such record in the DBM website. DOWNLOADED PDF FILE FROM PDAF.DBM.GOV.PH Legistlator Releases Breakdown for Fiscal Year 2012 of Sen. Revilla DIRECT LINK: /fy/2012 and

When one percent owns half the world January 26, 2014 9:19 pm by RICARDO SALUDO AND BILL HUANG Ricardo Saludo It’s happening in America, China, and Europe. And here at home, too. And it’s getting worse: Inequality. In the latest Social Weather Stations hunger survey last month, the average percentage of respondents missing one or more meals over the previous three months barely dropped from 2011. This despite two full years of sustained rapid growth of about 7 percent and over P50 billion in monthly stipends to millions of poor families under the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer program. There’s more. Self-rated poverty averaged 52 percent for 2013, the same as 2012—and markedly worse than 49 percent in 2011, when the economy slowed due to state underspending. And an annual average of 41 percent of respondents said they didn’t even earn enough to buy just the food they needed. Those empty pockets are also unchanged from 2012 and higher than 36 percent in 2010 and 38 percent in 2011. Clearly, despite the Aquino administration’s inclusive growth thrust, most of the surge in national wealth and economic output isn’t going to the poor. And if misery loves company, then the following Briefing Note by Bill Huang, senior editor of the Center for Strategy, Enterprise & Intelligence (CenSEI), may give the poor some consolation. Let’s hope, though, that the rich give the note more attention and responsive action: Memo to Davos As the planet’s rich and powerful prepared to gather in Davos, Switzerland, for the 2014 World Economic Forum last week, a global humanitarian organization sounded the

general alarm about a millennia-old concern for the world’s worthies to urgently address: haves and have-nots. In a summary of its briefing paper “Working for the Few — Political capture and income inequality,” British charity Oxfam provided figures on rising wealth concentration in the hands of a few and its impact on the world. Some of the more telling numbers: • Just one percent of the planet’s population now own almost half of global wealth • The assets of the richest one percent totals $110 trillion — 65 times the combined wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population • The 85 richest individuals own as much as that bottom half • Seven out of 10 people live in countries where economic inequality has increased since 1980 • In the same period, the richest one percent increased their share of national income in 24 of the 26 countries for which Oxfam has data. Oxfam warned that this extreme wealth concentration threatens to exclude millions from receiving the bounties of their hard work. Left unchecked, the report added, this trend would lead to “opportunity capture,” where children of the rich enjoy such benefits as the lowest tax rates, the best educational opportunities, and the best health care, perpetuating a cycle of economic inequality. ‘A significant threat’ The Oxfam paper called the massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people “a significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems.” It explained: “Instead of moving forward together, people are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown.” Supporting that thesis, Oxfam’s own survey in six countries – Spain, Brazil, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States – indicated a majority agreeing with the view that “laws and regulations are now designed to benefit the rich.”

Oxfam’s suggestions for the 2014 World Economic Forum included a pledge among its well-heeled participants to not dodge taxes and to disclose investments in companies and trusts in which they are the ultimate beneficial owners, among other things. The charity also proposed national policies to strengthen the political representation of the poor and middle classes in order to achieve greater equity. That includes a global goal to end extreme economic inequality in each country, as well as stronger regulation of markets to promote sustainable and equitable growth. Comparing inequality For another look at global income inequality, the GlobalPost website’s 2013 special report series titled “The Great Divide — global income inequality and its cost,” tries to bring the message down to earth for Americans by comparing income inequality in their country with the situation in other nations. The interactive feature matches income-distribution figures of major U.S. metropolitan areas with counterpart cities elsewhere in the world, like Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Bangkok, Thailand (both with over 8% poverty incidence), and Washington, D.C., and Moscow, Russia (18.2% and 13.1%, respectively). Video essays accompany the data. The series also includes dispatches from correspondents in different cities and countries on how income inequality plays out across different dimensions – education, race, immigration, health care, government, labor and natural resources. Its U.S.oriented perspective notwithstanding, the report’s scope and breadth make for recommended reading. From knowing to doing Of course, the real task is to go from knowing about inequality to doing something about it. And in case the suffering of the poor isn’t enough motivation for more egalitarian policies, a year-old United Nations paper on addressing inequalities as drivers of conflict adds a threat against the rich: social disparities fuel unrest and violence. Concludes the February 2013 report from the U.N. Peacebuilding Support Office: “There is considerable consensus among different policy communities that not only providing social services, but also and crucially ensuring fair access to them among

different groups in society, is a key priority for conflict prevention, violence reduction and sustainable peacebuilding.” Inequity breeds A further reason for the rich to share and uplift comes from a 2002 paper from Eric Thorbecke and Chutatong Charumilind, then with Cornell University. Published in the World Development journal, “Economic Inequality and Its Socioeconomic Impact” argues that wealth disparities drag down growth, with economic models on page 1481 summing up the theories backing the thesis. And if a 2002 paper is too dated for some tycoons, then they should google the WEForum fireside chat last week featuring Google chairmen Eric Schmidt for more or less the same argument about unemployment and stagnant middle-class incomes dragging down economic growth. “The stagnation in middle-class wages is not just a middle-class problem. It’s an economic problem,” Schmidt stressed. “And it’s one of the main reasons that global economic growth is so lousy.” He adds: “Right now, companies are so focused on cutting wages — by paying their employees as little as possible and replacing them with technology whenever possible.” And every billionaire knows what scarce jobs and falling incomes do to growth, sales, prices, and asset values. So listen up, Davos: If you want continued global expansion, not to mention peace and harmony, share the wealth.

85 men’s wealth equals what 3.5B poorest own January 25, 2014 11:28 pm by Marlen V. Ronquillo

Marlen V. Ronquillo [Editor’s note: Columnist Marlen V. Ronquillo hopes an Oxfam International Report that was released just as the Davos World Economic Summit opened last week would shock President Benigno S. Cojuangco Aquino into changing his government’s basic policy direction.] Oxfam report should jolt PNoy out of his policy torpor This scenario may be for real: President Aquino often dismisses inequality issues in the same dismissive tone and manner by which the University of Chicago economics department has been dismissing Keynesian economics. “With giggles,” it is said. The problem with this is that hard truths always strike back at the deniers. Policy activists and progressive academics who have been long derided by the Chicago school for advocating government intervention during severe economic slumps have been plugging holes into the supreme faith in the efficiency of markets and their abililty and power, by themselves, to push the economy into full equilibrium. The outright rejection of Keynesian intervention is no longer in vogue—it is a discredited dogma even—as events from 2008 hence have eminently debunked the healing wounds of the efficient markets during severe slumps and depressions.

It is also perfectly credible to assume that our president is still merrily unbothered by the emergence of inequality as the dominant topic across the globe and taken up with real intensity in places as diverse as the Vatican and the White House. Who? Me? Bothered? I have stepped up on the CCT and the BUB, the acronym for the budget policy that aims to identify budgetary priorities from ground up. He deeply feels that these two will genuinely lead to inclusive growth. Wrong, Mr. President. Clear up your policy chambers of cobwebs. Not my words, of course, but the suggestions from a recent Oxfam International report titled “Working for the Few.” As the title suggests, it is about the searing, heartbreaking scope of global inequality, which has been a nagging, tugging reality in our sad sack of a country. This is the harsh reality that no one in the political leadership seems to mind: that there is a very tiny special class of super wealthy plutocrats and there is us. The Left would not mind such gap either for it will only thrive—or the leaders feel they can only thrive— under such exploitative condition. What did Oxfam International find out? A business magazine published the gist. The most striking of the findings is a real shocker: that 85 people have a combined wealth that is equal to what is owned by 3.5 billion of the planet’s poorest. No explanation of the inequality issues can be clearer, and starker, than this: half of the world’s wealth is owned by 85 people. What else was said in “Working for a Few”? I quote from Businessweek. • In 24 out of 26 countries studied by Oxfam, the richest 1 percent has increased their share of national wealth since 1980 • Only three in ten people live in countries where economic inequality has not increased over the past three decades • In the US, 95 percent of post-financial-crash wealth generated since 2009 went into the bank accounts of the richest 1 percent • Nine in 10 people in the US control more wealth in real terms than they did before the financial crash

The Oxfam report, timed just before the world’s most famous and powerful people convened in Davos for the yearly networking sessions, should jolt President Aquino out of his policy torpor. Adhering to orthodoxy, just like what he has been doing for over three years, would make his commitment, Kayo ang Boss Ko, a supreme commitment to comfort the most comfortable, not a commitment to improve the lives of the Everyman. A radical shift in policy making to create a vibrant middle class and lift those at the bottom into, say, low middle income status is a must. How profoundly would he alter the policy-making process to fulfill just that we do not know. That is his business and the business of his economic team. But we know a few things. He and his economic team have to stop obsessing over three things: • Aiming for high growth rates that does not factor in impact on human lives. And of which lifting poor lives and promoting meritocracy and economic mobility are not a part and parcel of. What is the use of a 7 percent GDP growth if all gains are sucked up by the plutocrats? • The inordinate preoccupation to get better ratings from Fitch, Moody and Standard and Poor. These are discredited institutions. They downgrade countries, only to find out that the downgrade even propped up the credit standing of the downgraded countries. • Making the PPP the anchor of a perceived great modernization forward. The PPP is structured to fund projects that only the giants can afford to undertake. It will worsen the income divide. Items 1 and 3, would, according to conventional expectations, result in the trickling down of the gains from robust economic activities into the bottom sectors. President Aquino holds this view as his sacred economic text. After the release of the Oxfam report, a Guardian commentator called trickle-down economics the “greatest broken promise of our lifetime.” Those who still hold this view are the “deepest sleepers” of our time, according to the same commentator.

We are all fully aware that he has less than three years to reverse course and profoundly recast his economic policies. Not much time is left. For starters, he should read and inhale the Oxfam report. Then change his computer keyboards for new ones that can type the world “inequality.�

2013 inflation seen at 3.9% January 26, 2014 6:24 pm by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO Private economists in the country are seeing a higher inflation rate this year, a recent Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) survey showed, with the impending power rate hike sought by the Manila Electric Co. cited as one of the factors. “Results of the BSP’s survey of private sector economists for December 2013 yielded generally higher but still broadly within-target inflation forecasts for 2013 to 2015,” the central bank stated in its 2013 Fourth Quarter Inflation Report. According to the September 2013 Consensus Economics inflation forecast survey, the mean inflation forecasts for this year went up to 3.9 percent from 3.5 percent, while the inflation forecast for 2015 was steady at 3.6 percent. The BSP noted that based on the probability distribution of the forecasts provided by the respondents, there is a 34.2-percent chance that average inflation for 2013 could be within 3.1 percent to 4 percent. Average inflation rate for the year settled at 3 percent and remained within the government’s 2013 inflation target range of 3 percent to 5 percent. For this year, the BSP hiked its inflation rate outlook to 4.5 percent, and 3.2 percent for 2015, still within its 3-percent to 5-percent target band. In the report, the BSP said that the balance of risks to the inflation outlook remained tilted toward the upside, because of the potential increases in food prices as well as the pending petitions for further adjustments in power rates. “The recent domestic calamities as well as possible increase in electricity rates due to the shutdown of the Malampaya power plant are the major factors seen to contribute to higher inflation in 2014,” it stated. The BSP noted that agricultural damage from Typhoon Santi was recorded at P3.2 billion and from Super Typhoon Yolanda at P18.4 billion. Damage to infrastructure is estimated at P100 million and P18.3 billion for Santi and Yolanda, respectively.

“The lower agricultural production and resulting supply bottlenecks due to damage to infrastructure could fuel some temporary upside pressures on food prices,” it added. Meanwhile, generation rates increased as some of Meralco’s power plants implemented maintenance shutdowns. On December 23, 2013, the Supreme Court, however, issued a 60-day temporary restraining order, to defer the implementation of the electricity hike. “Thus, utility rate adjustments represent upside risk to inflation forecasts,” the central bank said.

Filipino firms go big global January 26, 2014 6:24 pm by KIM BERNARDO-LOKIN

Carol Esguerraof and James Donovan the ADEC Group have so much faith in the expertise of Filipinos. PHOTO BY EDWIN MULI It was through the rosy economic period of 1996 that James “Jim” M. Donovan found himself in Manila for a World Bank project. At that time, the Philippines was being touted as the next emerging tiger of Asia for the more than encouraging economic figures the country was then churning out. Like most investment bankers, Donovan was eager to check out the prospects for the Philippines and as fate would have it, he met Carol Esguerra who also happened to be participating at the same World Bank project at that time. From the beginning, he said, they started looking at the capability of the Philippines to see where it was being applied. The next year, however, saw the Asian financial crisis, and Donovan knew that “the normal business investments weren’t gonna thrive for quite sometime.” So they turned their minds to the resources that the Philippines had, which was the definitely its people. Donovan said, “applying those resources became a natural extension and we looked at outsourcing, and it also led us into looking at who the players were, at the same time fully realizing that the Philippines could be a global player but it had not yet framed its capabilities, so the world market could see it as an alternative to India.” In 1998, Donovan, together with Esguerra, co-founded what would be the first of the ADEC Group of Companies called the American Exchange Data Corp. and soon after

the ADEC Solutions Corp. The business process outsourcing (BPO) company today is a global provider of onshore managed services and offshore outsourcing solutions for governments and businesses worldwide. It currently has locations in Australia, North America, Europe, Africa and Asia, with over 5,500 employees worldwide processing over 30 million transactions each month. Buoyed by the success of the industry, the two business partners went on to put up other related companies to complement what they had. They ventured into the sustainability services by launching FirstCarbon Solutions in 2008, applying process management to the ethical environment niche and engaging in environmental process outsourcing (EPO). FirstCarbon now also has a global reach specifically in countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, North America, China Singapore, Malaysia, Kenya and the Philippines. Donovan is currently the Global chief executive officer of the ADEC Group, whose member companies apart from the first three mentioned, now also include ADEC Preview, A-Plus English Online, BPO Asia Institute, PharmaKPO and Silay Institute, all of which are global satellite offices with specialized services complementing BPO, knowledge process outsourcing, eLearning and sustainability offerings. On the other hand, Esguerra is the Global chief financial offer of the group. She is responsible for translating business strategies into maximum profits, is results-oriented and adept at managing high performance teams. She is also responsible for identifying potential companies strategically positioned to provide business opportunities to all companies under the ADEC Group. Leap of Faith to success Looking back, Donovan jokes about the leap of faith that they did when they first put up ADEC. “We had quantum growth from ’98 to ’99 as we grew from two to four people and then the next year from four to eight. So you can see this is really about an 18-year overnight success,” he said.

Kidding aside, Donovan believes that the key factors are as much about persistence as to the capabilities of the Philippines as the maturing of the BPO market. He added that all these things came together to get to where the country as a major global player is today. “We really believe that the Philippines is still just at the early days of applying higher value of services for the world,” he added. For her part, Esguerra remembers the circumstances when they first set up their company. “The whole region was challenged at that time—the financial markets were down, real estate was down and nobody wanted to invest anywhere close to Asia. But if you look at it, there was nowhere to go but up and we saw opportunities, “ she added. Today, Donovan said that the main areas of their growth comes from environment sustainability, education and health sciences or health information. He wishes that there would be a hundred more homegrown companies like ADEC, rather than multinationals just coming in and just using the country’s resources to feed their machinery. Esguerra also pointed out that one of the differences between the voice and the non-voice components of the BPO industry is that in the voice segment, people and customers can just shift from one provider to another. While in the non-voice segment, she explained that once you are tasked to do their back office, they will stay with you longer, especially if you are doing a good job. The business partners are currently mulling the idea of having FirstCarbon listed in the local exchange. Recently, they have also been busy giving talks about the ADEC Group and its success in the industry, after having won the Executive Leadership Team of the Year Award during the prestigious Asia CEO Awards in 2013. In between the numerous travels, endless meetings and collaborations, both Donovan and Esguerra said that they are still able to spend quality time with their families and are happy with the kind of lives that they have. “It’s like living a dream” Donovan said, and at this point, there is nowhere else they would rather be.

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Asian countries more interested on PH economy January 26, 2014 6:22 pm by KRISTYNNIKA M. LAZO The Philippines became more interesting for Asian countries with a Standard Chartered (StanChart) executive saying that neighboring countries are asking about activities and improvements of the country, given the achievements it had in 2013. “People are quite more interested in the Philippines’ outlook now,” said Steve Brice, StanChart chief investment strategist, told reporters in a press conference on Friday. “Within Asia, you get some questions on the Philippines so people . . . [before asking] questions like what is going on in the PH, but now the questions are always more framed on the positive light. [They were asking if the Philippines is] going to be the same as Indonesia,” he said, referring to Indonesia being the largest economy in Southeast Asia, and being the “brighter economy” in the region three years ago. Brice added that with the steady growth of the country—forecasting a 6.7-percent gross domestic product (GDP) for this year—the Philippines economy is more “solid” than Indonesia. “If anything, the Philippines is more solid than Indo [at present] if we talk about credit ratings as one area, it just looks more and more solid,” the StanChartchief strategist said. “I have to say, I took 15 minutes to get through the airport in Manila. In Jakarta, it takes me one hour. And I do see that [getting through the Philippine airport] improve dramatically than the last five years,” Brice said. Though projecting lower growth for this year compared to the bank’s original 7-percent GDP forecast, the StanChart chief strategist said that the overall economic environment is “skeptical” and “doing very well,” even better for the years to come.

“It could be in five years’ time, [the country will be] growing at 10 percent…we saw some infra challenges, absolutely… but overall [economic] environment is very healthy,” Brice said. For 2014, the London-based StanChart forecasts 6.7-percent GDP growth, lower than the previous 7 percent, because of inflation or price hikes that will lead to lesser consumer spending, which can result in lesser profits for businesses and enterprises. But the government remains positive, forecasting that the 2014 GDP growth would dwell between 6.5 percent and 7.5 percent.

PCCI, Arab Fund create microfinance bank January 26, 2014 6:22 pm by VOLT PALAÑA The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and the Arab Gulf Program for Development (AGFUND) have signed a memorandum of agreement to create the IBDAA Microfinance Bank, which is aimed at giving the poor access to financing for their small projects. IBDAA serves as the conduit for AGFUND money for use in financial services to the poor in developing countries. In other developing countries, the bank is a collaboration among AGFUND, the private sector and the government. There was no official announcement of the initial fund, but an IBDAA source said the fund for institution in the Philippines is about $5 million. Prince Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia signed for AGFUND and lawyer Miguel Varela signed in behalf of the PCCI. Vice President Jejomar Binay witnessed the formal signing. Also present during the signing of the agreement were Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ezzedin Tago, Saudi Ambassador to the Philippines Abdullah Al Hassan, and other Middle East ambassadors. AGFUND is a non-profit regional development institution. It was established in 1980 by the initiative of Prince Talal. Leaders of the Arab Gulf States constitute its membership and contribute to its budget. AGFUND is concerned with the support of sustainable human development efforts targeting the neediest in developing countries, particularly women and children. For his part, Varela said that micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the Philippines account for about 91 percent of companies, but their lack of access to financing have stunted their growth. “As of last year, only 20 percent of small businesses had access to capital from local banks,” he said.

“Most banks are reluctant to lend because of the high-risks associated with MSMEs and their inability to comply with certain bank requirements such as loan collateral and financial records,” Varela said. He added that the country’s “jobless growth” can be attributed to the MSME sector not gaining ground. The PCCI has set up an SME Center with the Department of Trade and Industry that serves as a one-stop shop to help MSMEs comply with bank borrowing requirements. The PCCI has been a leading proponent of MSME development. Its current president, Alfredo Yao, himself started business as a 12-year old cigarette vendor and progressed to become the owner of the country’s largest food-and-beverage companies, Varela said. “The PCCI will provide the technical expertise to help our MSMEs access the financial services of [IBDAA],” he added. Prince Talal, who initiated formation of IBDAA in 1997, said that the bank “will be a vital tributary to the opening of new business opportunities, integration of the poor in the financial process and [promotion of] the concept of savings.” The AGFUND strategy in creating IBDAA banks, “is policies and principles of nondiscrimination between communities in granting development aids, [will provide] the poor the keys to decent life’s door,” he added. IBDAA operations in the Middle East have benefitted more than 1.5 million poor people since it started.

Posted on January 26, 2014 10:29:15 PM By Mikhail Franz E. Flores, Reporter

Satisfaction scores dip PUBLIC SATISFACTION with top government officials and institutions slipped in December, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) said in a new report, though the fall was negligible for some. Results of a December 11-16 survey put Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay’s net satisfaction rating at +62, with 75% of respondents saying they were satisfied with his performance and 13% declaring otherwise. The still “very good” rating was seven points down from September’s +69. The SWS classifies net satisfaction scores of +70 and up as “excellent”; +50 to +69, “very good”; +30 to +49, “good”; +10 to +29, “moderate”, +9 to 9, “neutral”; -10 to -29, “poor”; -30 to -49, “bad”; -50 to -69, “very bad”; and -70 and below, “execrable.” Senate President Franklin M. Drilon saw a much larger drop in his net score, which became a “moderate” +25 (52% satisfied, 26% dissatisfied from the “good” +37 three months earlier. House Speaker Feliciano R. Belmonte, Jr.’s score stayed “moderate” at +16 (41% satisfied, 25% dissatisfied), down two points, while that for Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes P.A. Sereno likewise stayed “moderate,” down a point to +16 (40% satisfied, 25% dissatisfied). Both dips fell within the survey’s ±2.5% error margin. Top government institutions, meanwhile, also recorded declines in the fourth quarter, with the House of Representatives the only one whose result could be considered immaterial as it also was within the error margin. The House continued to enjoy a “moderate” net rating, which at +26 (51% satisfied, 24% dissatisfied) was down a point from September. The Senate, meanwhile, recorded a three-point loss to a still “good” +33

(57% satisfied, 24% dissatisfied). The Supreme Court posted a larger five-point loss to a still “good” +36 (57% satisfied, 22% dissatisfied). For the Cabinet as a whole, satisfaction stayed “moderate” but this was down seven points to +20 (46% satisfied, 26% dissatisfied). Asked to comment, a spokesperson for Mr. Binay said the vice-president was “grateful that he finished the year with a very good rating.” “Since 2010, the VP has had seven excellent and seven very good ratings ... and this is reason for him to thank the people for appreciating what he is doing...,” Joey Salgado said. Mr. Drilon, meanwhile, said: “The controversies which transpired last year that heavily involved the Senate have severely affected the people’s trust and opinion on the institution and its leader. But righteous public indignation is meant to be acknowledged, not feared.” Mr. Belmonte, for his part, said both he and the chamber would work to “do better next time as we concentrate on our agenda.” This was echoed by Secretary Herminio B. Coloma of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, who said: “We will continue to work harder... so we can achieve our objective to attain sustainable and inclusive economic development.” A Supreme Court spokesperson declined to comment. Political analyst Ramon C. Casiple said the latest poll showed the impact of the pork barrel scam involving the alleged misuse of congressional funds. Charges have been filed against several senators. The drop in the Cabinet’s ratings, Mr. Casiple added, was likely due to criticism over the government’s handling of recent natural disasters.

The Dec. 11-16 SWS survey utilized face-to-face interviews of 1,550 Filipinos nationwide.

Posted on January 26, 2014 10:28:46 PM

Energy plan to be updated by yearend THE GOVERNMENT is looking to launch an updated Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) by the end of the year to take into account developments such as industry capacity and climate change. “We are working on a draft of the updated PEP right now and we are going to present it to Secretary [Carlos Jericho L.] Petilla hopefully this February,” Energy Policy and Planning Bureau chief Jesus T. Tamang said. “We are hoping to launch in December because our target is to submit the plan to the Office of the President by September,” he added. This would be the second revision of the PEP, which originally spanned 2009 to 2030. “We are now reviewing the PEP 2012-2030, which was the last that we presented to the energy industry. We want to know what are the additional things to be done. We are also evaluating how we were able to implement the last PEP,” Mr. Tamang said. The PEP will take into account existing generation capabilities and latest estimates on needed capacities to meet the country’s growing demand. “We will provide update on the capacities we have and will need. Also the location and amount of investments needed,” Mr. Tamang said. Given a spate of natural calamities “we are [also] going to factor in climate change adaptation programs for the energy sector so that we will be more resilient and in any situation, we will have energy supply.” In December 2012, the Energy department announced that a total of P3.174 trillion worth of investments was required to develop the 11,400 megawatts (MW) of power needed to meet demand until 2030.

As of end-2011, the country only had 16,163 MW of installed capacity and another 1,766.7 MW was expected to come in via projects then in the pipeline. “We are just updating and giving new inputs. But more or less, all the previous projects that have been introduced will be continuously implemented,” Mr. Tamang said. The department, he said, is not looking at conducting annual PEP updates. This year’s revision, he added, will allow industry stakeholders to firm up their programs for the coming years. -- C. A. M. C. Feliciano

Posted on January 26, 2014 07:36:38 PM

Peso weakness expected to persist THE PESO is expected to sustain its weakening streak against the greenback as investors anticipate tapering announcements from the US Federal Reserve’s policy-setting meeting this week. The local currency ended P45.31 to the dollar -- its weakest finish since Aug. 2, 2010 -- last Friday, depreciating by 31 centavos against its P45-per-dollar close on Jan. 17. It is now 91.5 centavos or 2.06% weaker than its P44.395per-dollar finish at the end of 2013. “The market is going to continue to buy the dollar against the peso [this week] on the back of speculations that the Fed will continue to taper at the same pace,” a peso trader said. In the last Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting in December, Fed officials decided to cut monthly bond purchases by $10 billion to $75 billion starting this month, citing a series of upbeat economic data. The release since then of additional generally positive data showing sustained recovery has raised expectations that the pace of stimulus tapering may soon accelerate. The FOMC meets next on Jan. 28-29. At the same time, Philippine fourth quarter and full-year 2013 gross domestic product (GDP) growth data will be released this Thursday. “Due to the economic impact of super typhoon Yolanda, the market is expecting weaker GDP growth for the fourth quarter as compared to the previous three quarters, so there will still be heavy bias for the dollar. But if economic growth will be high, we might see the peso to appreciate but only for a short time,” the trader said. “Generally, the release of the GDP data will be overshadowed by the market’s sentiment for the dollar.” Another trader concurred, saying, “higher GDP growth would provide some support for the peso, but the market will be largely biased for the dollar due to concerns on tapering.” -- KLCS

Posted on January 26, 2014 07:35:37 PM

Emerging market policy makers move to allay FX concerns DAVOS/LONDON -- Top emerging market policy makers moved to allay concerns about their economies on Friday last week after investors sold off their currencies, raising fears of a broad market rout. The US Federal Reserve’s plan to gradually withdraw its stimulus has long been expected to lead to a pullout from emerging markets. But the prospect of an economic slowdown in China added to concerns on Friday that emerging markets, particularly those with large current account deficits, may struggle to support their currencies this year. Argentina said on Friday it would relax currency controls it had long defended as essential, in a policy reversal forced by high inflation and a tumble in the peso. Turkey’s lira hit a record low despite an estimated $3 billion of intervention by its central bank the previous day. The rouble and the rand also languished at levels not seen since the 20082009 financial crisis. Turkey’s deputy prime minister, Ali Babacan, played down the lira’s slide, however, describing it as a “re-pricing process” due partly to the Fed and partly to recent political turmoil in the country. He said that the central bank was taking the necessary steps to deal with the situation, adding that Turkey was protected against market swings by its sound finances. “The balance sheet of the government, the banks and households are quite

well protected against market volatility,” he told a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos. ‘WELL-POSITIONED’ Mexican Finance Minister Luis Videgaray told Reuters Television in an interview at Davos that the current volatility would not be a major disruption for his country. “Mexico is an emerging market, so all volatility is going to have some effect. But Mexico is well-positioned to weather the currency storm,” Mr. Videgaray told Reuters TV on the sidelines of the gathering of business and political elites in the Swiss mountain resort. Policy makers and analysts at Davos also said that all emerging markets are not equal and that the market turbulence will drive investors away from economies that are suffering, but not from the stronger ones. “Differentiation will be important,” Mr. Videgaray said. In Turkey, the central bank has refused to raise interest rates even though the lira has fallen almost 9% this month, raising fears of mounting inflation and an investor exodus. It has relied instead on auctioning dollars, and on Thursday resorted to what analysts said were its first direct interventions since early 2012. Despite these sales, estimated to total almost a tenth of its reserves, the lira dropped almost 2%, falling through the key 2.30 level. The lira is only one of many currencies feeling the heat from investor worries over China and over the reduction in US stimulus, expected from this month. Central banks of several emerging markets were believed to have intervened to defend their currencies on Friday including India, Taiwan and Malaysia. Russia again moved the rouble’s trading band after $350 million in hard currency sales. INTENSE PAIN

But there was little respite. The rupee, Brazilian real, rouble and rand all fell more than 1% to the dollar. The Russian currency also hit a record low to the euro. “I think we may see some actions from central banks, they will try to curtail the sell-off…They are unlikely to be able to stabilize the currencies,” said Lars Christensen, chief emerging markets analyst at Danske Bank in Copenhagen. Mr. Christensen said currency weakness would ultimately help lift growth, but in the meantime, pain would be intense. “If you are an emerging markets investor, you are seeing a lot of pressure on your positions,” he said. SIGNS OF CONTAGION Investors have been fleeing -- almost $4 billion has exited emerging equity funds so far this year. The week to Jan. 22 saw them lose $2.4 billion, banks said, citing data EPFR Global released to clients late on Thursday. Bond funds were more resilient, with just $0.4 billion of outflows, but they too have lost $1 billion so far in 2014. There are also growing signs of contagion. The losses in the more vulnerable emerging markets with big current account deficits have now spread to relatively robust assets such as the South Korean won and Polish zloty. The won suffered its worst weekly loss since mid-2013. They are also reverberating across stock markets in Europe. Several of Friday’s sessions at the Davos forum focused on the future of emerging markets and how long the turbulence they are experiencing would last. Corporate executives said they still viewed these markets as big growth opportunities despite the currency volatility

Renault-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn said he was not alarmed by the latest forex market moves. “You have to be ready when you invest in emerging markets for ups and downs,� he told one Davos panel on Friday evening. -- Reuters

Posted on January 26, 2014 08:59:16 PM

P6 billion earmarked for expressway link

LISTED Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) has earmarked P6 billion to finance an extension of the Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway (Cavitex), a top official of the operation-and-maintenance concessionaire of the 14-kilometer road said last week. Cavitex Infrastructure Corp. President and Chief Executive Officer Jose Luigi L. Bautista said that his firm plans to build a segment that will link Cavitex to Circumferential Road 5 (C-5) starting as early as April. “The road project is called C-5 Link, which is a 5.5-kilometer expressway that will link C-5 to Cavitex,” the official said. “The cost is about P6 billion and it will be funded by Metro Pacific Investments.” Mr. Bautista explained that his firm is waiting for government approval of the planned new segment. “As soon as the road alignment is fixed with the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways), we’ll develop the detailed engineering and design,” Mr. Bautista said. Asked when the project will begin, Mr. Bautista replied: “It depends on the government, but hopefully in the next three months.” Revenues of Cavitex reached P1.1 billion in the full year of 2013, Mr. Bautista said. “We are hitting our revenue target which is 10% of last year. For 2012, our revenue was about P1 billion,” he recalled. Average daily traffic for the expressway last year was about 102,000 vehicles, the same official said. “We expect that to increase by 5-7%,” Mr. Bautista said of this year’s outlook.

At the same time, however, the official noted that projected traffic growth could still go down as San Miguel Corp. is poised to start construction of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Expressway also later this year. “There are challenges this year because there is going to be construction at the NAIA. So expectedly traffic will decrease because motorists will tend to avoid the traffic,” Mr. Bautista said. NAIA Expressway is intended to ease access to and from the country’s premier international gateway. It is expected to provide a link between Cavitex, South Luzon Expressway/Skyway, as well as Roxas and Macapagal boulevards. MPIC reported a total comprehensive income of P8.101 billion as of September last year, 7.8% more than the P7.515 billion recorded in the same nine months in 2012, largely as revenues rose 11.40% to P22.879 billion from P20.537 billion on increases in the conglomerate’s water supply and sewerage, tollway, hospital and school revenues. Shares of listed Metro Pacific surged by 20 centavos or 4.71% to close at P4.45 apiece on Friday last week from P4.25 each on Thursday. MPIC is the local unit of Hong-Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., which in turn is part-owner of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT). Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld. -- Lorenz Christoffer S. Marasigan

Posted on January 26, 2014 08:57:57 PM

US electronics firm opens Cebu plant

MACTAN, CEBU -- US audio solutions provider Knowles Electronics, Inc. last week inaugurated its $28-million factory here, said to be its biggest in Asia. The labor-intensive facility, a 22,000-square-meter structure within a 5.7hectare property at the Cebu Light Industrial Park, makes tiny receivers and speakers for smartphones, tablets, laptops and hearing aids. “We expect to move the rest of our receiver production capabilities from our other plants into the Cebu facility by the middle of 2014,” Joseph Emmanuel Liwag, managing director of Knowles Electronics (Philippines), Inc., said on the sidelines of the inauguration ceremony on Thursday. An estimated $28 million was invested in the setup, construction and infrastructure and operations capability of Knowles, according Dan Giesecke, vice-president for operations of Knowles parent Dover Communication Technologies. “We also look forward to investing in people. We are looking forward to hiring many talents that fit into our organization,” he said. Mr. Liwag said the company expects to fill 3,400 positions before the end of this year. The facility currently has 507 employees. In a statement read by Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director General Lilia B. de Lima during the event, President Benigno S. C. Aquino III extended his gratitude to Knowles for showing confidence in the Philippine economy. “This is a testament to the growing confidence of investors and that the steps we have taken are bearing fruit. Your presence here will give confidence to other companies to invest in the Philippines,” he said.

Mr. Aquino lauded the gains of the manufacturing sector as a primary driver for foreign direct investments growth. Ray Cabrera, human resources organization lead for Knowles, said Cebu was chosen for the company’s expansion over other countries in Southeast Asia such as Thailand and Vietnam. “We also considered Manila when we first visited the Philippines. But ultimately, we chose Cebu because of the abundance of human capital and good business environment,” he said. “More than that, the stability of the socio-political environment was a key factor. This region is very secure.” Knowles also has manufacturing facilities in China and Malaysia. Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz C. Radaza, for her part, was thankful for the new job opportunities that the company is expected to generate. “We are proud that you have chosen Lapu-Lapu as your first home in the Philippines. Not only will it boost the national and local economy, but create much needed jobs for the people of this city,” she said. The Knowles facility is within CLIP, a 64-hectare economic zone developed by the Science Park of the Philippines, Inc. -- John Paolo G. Bago

Posted on January 26, 2014 10:17:52 PM

The living moment “THE PAST is already gone, the future is not yet here. Corporate There’s only one moment for you to live, and that is Watch the present moment.” -- Gautama Buddha

Amelia H. C. Ylagan

The Buddha advocating living for the moment might confuse the image of the placid soul existing in the seamless eternity of no time and no limits. But his message is not about today’s hedonistic “live for the moment.” Simplistically the Buddha says -- do it right the first time, and at all times in the living present, for today will soon be tomorrow and it will have been too late. Do not wait for the future to do good, for nothing has merit that has not yet been done. Good intentions do not count. But those whose third eye has not been opened will fumble and fall like the blind leading the blind who cannot see beyond the claimed realities of the material world.

American philosophical essayist Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) grappled with anarchic disobedience by which he thought he could prove ascendancy over man-made structures which threatened to control and restrict him in living his present. His erstwhile mentor in Transcendentalism, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) might have sounded Buddhist when he rapped his mantra in literary prose that asserted, “With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.” But Emerson, who delivered the eulogy at Thoreau’s burial, must have intuitively realized, and secretly admitted the finiteness of Man. Though paraphrasing Buddha, Emerson had contradicted the philosophy of serene self-effacement with his assertive “infinitude of the private man” with the individuality and freedom to realize almost anything -- by his own powers. In the 19th century, leaps in scientific and mechanical inventions urged the materialistic philosophies that reality consisted “entirely of

physical matter that is the sole cause of every possible occurrence, including human thought, feeling, and action.” Materialism was goaded by the wealth of the “Roaring Twenties,” depicted in American author F. Scott Fitzgerald’s (The Great Gatsby) stories of decadence and the pathos of obsessing with present satisfaction and enjoyment. D.H. Lawrence (Lady Chatterley’s Lover), writer of the risqué morality of that period, himself declared that “the living moment is everything.” “Scarce resources,” which is the focus of economic theories, was not given enough attention in the opulence of the boom years before the World Wars. The Great Depression that crashed fortunes, and the deprivation of the Wars thereafter forced recovery strategies that necessitated inventory of depleted resources, and their redeployment and redistribution by concerted effort of all claimants. This was the time when political divisions were most heightened, as nations were reallocated control over other countries in the various treaties that settled the conflicts. Enter Baron John Maynard Keynes, British economist, adviser to governments in the rebuilding efforts in the decade of the 1940s, who believed that governments should step in and make things happen, instead of waiting for market forces to slowly emerge a hoped-for result from the variables of supply and demand. His radical idea that governments should spend money they don’t have may have saved capitalism, Timemagazine says of the guru of Macroeconomics. Keynesian economics deals with the present, the “Now,” more than with the future, a “short run” prescription that fixes inputs of production, intervening today to immediately avail of results for the present in lieu of waiting for the unpredictably changing inputs of the long run. Government intervention by fiscal and monetary policies, and the application of direct subsidies and protectionism focus on helping the present in lieu of anticipating the future. Hardly Buddhist in spiritual and moral motivations, Keynesian economics has been the play of political economies until the 1970s, when contrarian economists like Milton Friedman thought that markets were better left alone in the struggle of the fittest, to truly determine fair competition. Globalization, helped by leaps in technology (much like industrialization prodded the wealth of the 1920s) banned government subsidies to establish level playing fields within politico-

economic aggruppations with shared resources, for them to strategically compete with other countries not in their tight circle of friends. “Strategic” implies decisions and actions which impact the future. “Tactical” means decisions and actions now, which impact the present problem or situation. The global financial crisis of 2007-2009 urged resurgence in Keynesian economics, where immediate tactical action was needed in the face of world recession and possible depression. Heads of governments, led by the US (then President George W. Bush), embarrassingly turned their backs on pledges of level playing fields made to trade partners, to save their situation at home. Humongous subsidies to banks too big to fail and industries too iconic to let die were supported with taxpayers’ future tithes to government. In the US, the puppet master of government intervention, the arbiter for the Present, was the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, the Central Bank of the various federal central banks. The press called Alan Greenspan, (BS Economics, summa cum laude, and M.A. Economics, New York University), 19 years Federal Reserve Chairman, a “rock star,” as he awed even the unexpectant man on the street for his life-changing pronouncements on deflation and price control, and the availability of easy money to even the less credit-worthy. The live-for-the-moment American lifestyle encouraged under Greenspan’s easy money policies has been suggested to be a leading cause of the 2007-2009 subprime mortgage crisis, in an article in the Wall Street Journal. Greenspan was succeeded by Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve Chairman in 2006, the latter serving six years until 2012. Bernanke (M.A. Economics summa cum laude, 1975, Ph.D. Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1979) was before that, a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from 2002 to 2005 (actually a 14-year term which would have ended in 2016). In the HBO film Too Big to Fail, a fictional Fed Chairman allegedly alludes to Bernanke’s active role in the controversial US government subsidies to failed big banks. The alleged fraudulent merger of Merrill Lynch and Bank of America and the bailout of AIG (American Insurance Group), including the “Economic Easing” plan and the subsequent “tapering” of the subsidies by the decreasing money pumping were designed and executed by Bernanke, whose pronouncements on the “Easing” and

“Tapering” affected not only the US stock and financial markets, but the markets of dollar-dependent economies -- practically all of the globalized world. Indeed, since the US sub-prime credit collapse in 2007, Bernanke ruled the world, in a manner of speaking. Critical media had pointed out that his authoritative manner of speaking did not limit itself to monetary policy, which would be the boundaries of the Fed Chairman, but that he recommended fiscal policy, such as the reduction of Medicare and social security entitlements, in the effort to cut the budget deficits. Bernanke freely suggested raising taxes and cutting government spending to the US Congress. According to the American Economic Review Bernanke focused less on the role of the Federal Reserve and more on the role of private banks and financial institutions. But if the more positive effect of a talkative and controlling Fed Chairman is to provide the public updated feedback on what the US plans to do that will affect the present lives of those suffering in economic downturns, then, ignoring the dangerous power appropriated in such a critical position of influence -- yes, it could be useful for having the nightmares while one is awake, instead of in the helplessness of the sleep of ignorance. But note how other Central Bank governors in US-influenced economies have taken similar stances of being the arbiters of the short term fate of a country’s economic direction and financial wherewithal. But their secret desires of being copy-cat “Rock Stars” like Greenspan and Bernanke can only be because there is an audience who materialistically focuses on the Present. What is in it for my today? Such is our selfish obsession with the Present. Indeed, “nothing is worth more than this day,” says Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), writer, polymath and lover of life, famous for Faust, the novel about a man who sold his soul to the Devil. But, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow exhorts in the “Psalm of Life”: “Act, -- act in the living Present! Heart within and God o’erhead!” Posted on January 26, 2014 10:16:06 PM

Francisco Javier Salgado  SENT TO the Far East for some diplomatic tasks, Francisco Javier Salgado arrived in Manila in 1735 and occupied various government positions. He was the government secretary when Bishop Miguel Lino de Espeleta of Cebu -- whose niece he married -became acting Governor of Manila.

Vestiges JosĂŠ S. Arcilla, S.J.

His investments in the galleon trade earned not a little fortune. He enjoyed the monopoly of the wine trade until 1772, when the British occupied Manila. Besides, he invested in other businesses, like producing sails for the galleons, supplying the military uniforms of the local forces, and opening iron mines in Tondo (today, Rizal Province) and Camarines. But he never won the sympathy of Gov. Pedro Manuel de Arandia (17541759) or Francisco Leandro de Viana, fiscal of the Manila Audiencia. He was one of those who opposed surrendering so easily to the British, and somehow he found his way to join Simon de Anda, leader of the Philippine resistance to the British. The latter sent him to secure the situado arriving from Mexico and keep it from British hands. Anda named him LieutenantGovernor of Laguna and Batangas, which he kept loyal to Spain. Finally, he was the negotiator when the British troops left the country in 1774. One of his far-seeing projects was the direct route from Cadiz, Spain to Manila, which halved the usual travel time of the Manila galleon. The Manila business group, afraid for their monopoly of the galleon trade, tried to oppose it. He was also instrumental in founding the Manila Consulado, which promoted ties between the Manila traders and their counterparts in southern Spain. When Simon de Anda later came back as Governor General of the Philippines for the second time, he was granted the monopoly of copper mining, and the production of 150arrobas yearly of anil (indigo) for export to Spain. Because he failed to fill up the quota, he incurred the hostility of Gov. Jose Basco y

Vargas (1778-1787). But he successfully raised cinnamon in his farm at Calauan, Laguna, although his first exports were considered inferior to that produced in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). This could have discouraged him, although the probable reason was the quality of the soil in Laguna. Gov. Felix Berenguer de Marqina (1788-1793) was a strong supporter of projects to exploit local natural resources. In 1791, he offered 30,000 pesos annually to promote cinnamon. Unfortunately, business establishments in Manila remained cool to the Governor’s plans. Apparently finding hardly any support from the government, Javier Salgado gave up. Five years later, in 1796, he died. His projects could have been the start of Philippine economic self-sufficiency, but it was not meant to be.

All MILF detainees get amnesty • •

Written by Mario J. Mallari Monday, 27 January 2014 00:00

Part of the normalization annex in the


Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB)

provides for a general amnesty to Muslim insurgents but only if they are members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in exchange for the decommissioning of the armed units of the rebel group, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said. The amnesty provision was aimed at facilitating “the healing of the wounds of conflict and the return to normal life,” Deles said. Under the normalization annex, a joint task force will also be formed to develop six major MILF camps as “peaceful and productive communities” but did not provide any details on the timeframe of the plan. “There will be no more camps, they will become peaceful, unarmed communities,” Deles said. “(MILF stronghold) Camp Abubakar will no longer be known as such,” she said.

Deles claimed that another provision seeks the forming of an independent Decommissioning Body to be led by foreign experts to oversee the deactivation of rebel forces and collection of their weapons and, in exchange, military presence in the autonomous region would be scaled down and a joint assessment would be made for an orderly redeployment of troops and “avoid a security vacuum.” “They need to be assured that they will be secure even if they are decommissioned and their weapons put beyond use,” Deles said. The government and the MILF projected a final peace deal to be called the comprehensive agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) would be signed within weeks. A “comprehensive agreement” with the MILF should be signed in February or March, Manila’s chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said. “We have just been discussing the next steps and our goal is to be able to get a good schedule for that,” she said from the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur where the last round of talks was held. “We have set a time frame of between February and March,” she added. The talks that began in 1996 with the 12,000-strong MILF are aimed at ending an insurgency in the country’s south that has left an estimated 150,000 people dead since the 1970s. On Saturday, both sides agreed on a “normalization” deal detailing how the rebels will hand over their weapons and the creation of a security force to police what will be a self-ruled Muslim region. Both sides had previously signed deals on power-sharing, taxation and governance, but the last agreement was more sensitive because the MILF had repeatedly warned it would not lay down its arms unless other threat groups in the south were disarmed. After the final deal is signed, President Benigno Aquino is expected to sign a “basic law” for the creation of a new autonomous region for the Muslims. This would then be passed to Congress, and subjected to a referendum, with Aquino

hoping to have it completed by the time he ends his six-year term in 2016. Long years of insurgency have left much of the southern region of Mindanao volatile, with a proliferation of unlicensed firearms in the hands of other armed groups, including Al Qaeda-linked militants and offshoots that are opposed to the talks. But Ferrer said that to thwart any possible armed challenges, a joint security group composed of MILF fighters and government forces would be tasked to patrol the areas to be covered during the transition phase. “There will always be contrarians, but as far as the partnership between the MILF and the government is concerned, we have mechanisms that will allow us to address peace and order concerns more effectively,” Ferrer said. She did not specify any group, but the toughest challenge to the peace deal came in September, when hundreds of supporters of rebel leader Nur Misuari laid siege to a key southern port city, leaving more than 240 dead in three weeks of fighting. Misuari, who remains at large, founded the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), from which the MILF splintered in the late 1970s. MILF vice chairman for political affairs, Ghazali Jaafar, told AFP Sunday that the rebels were “ecstatic” over the new development but said much work remained to be done. “The next step is that we will have to talk about the final wording of the comprehensive compact agreement,” he said. “Meantime, a transitional commission will have to start drafting the basic law to be sent to Congress.” He said he believed a final deal would be in place “soon” but that some members of Congress in the mainly Catholic country may oppose the agreement. Ferrer however said the peace process was “on track” to meet Aquino’s deadline. “We believe the majority of our people and our decision- and opinion-makers are on our side,” she said. The United States, Japan and the Europan Union were also upbeat about the breakthrough, calling it a historic moment that could finally bring peace to the region.

“This agreement offers the promise of peace, security, and economic prosperity now and for future generations in Mindanao,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement. The MILF said the whole country should rejoice with the signing of the normalization annex, the last contentious item under the FAB that paved the way for the final agreement. MILF Vice Chairman Ghadzali Jaafar said that the breakthrough in the peace negotiations between government of the Philippines (GPH) and MILF reached last Thursday evening will usher the end of Mindanao conflict. “The MILF is not the only one happy but the entire Bangsamoro people, all the people of Mindanao and in the entire Philippines because the signing of the annex on normalization will mean the start of the discussion of the comprehensive compact agreement,” said Jaafar. “And when the comprehensive compact agreement is signed, it will user in the end of Mindanao conflict, the war in Mindanao because the root-cause of the conflict in Mindanao is the Bangsamoro issue…the desire of the Bangsamoro people to have their own government, a government run by them but it is still under the Republic of the Philippines and it is not separate,” he added. Jaafar stressed that the agreement being pursued by the MILF will be inclusive of all the Bangsamoro people and not only for the MILF, including the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) from where the MILF broke away before the MNLF signed a Final Peace Agreement in 1996 with the government. “This agreement is for everybody, for every Bangsamoro including the MNLF,” said Jaafar. The MILF vice chairman, however, emphasized that the MILF is not asking unification of the two fronts. “What is important is for each Bangsamoro to support this agreement,” he said.

Earlier, the MNLF group of Nur Misuari rejected the invitation of the MILF to participate in the crafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. The MNLF, through spokesman Absalom Cerveza, also warned that the signing of the normalization annex, which calls for disarmament of MILF forces, may lead to disintegration as most Moro fighters would not agree to surrender their firearms to the government. Cerveza said that disgruntled MILF members would join the MNLF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters of Ustazd Ameril Umbra Kato, who broke away from the MILF due to difference in handling the peace negotiations. Jaafar dismissed Cerveza’s warning as speculation. “That is an speculation. How would Rev Cerveza, with due respect to him, know the feelings of the Moro combatants. He does not know,” said Jaafar. The signing of the normalization annex was announced Saturday by Malacanang. According to Jaafar, the crafting of the comprehensive compact agreement can start anytime upon mutual agreement by both parties. He said the drafting will be a “consolidation” and will not come from one group. Jaafar stressed that all issues tackled in the negotiating table between the MILF and GPH peace panels were approved by the MILF Central Committee. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), meanwhile, expressed readiness to thwart any attempt by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) to conduct atrocities in response to the signing of the normalization annex of the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB) between the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The BIFF, founded by Ustadz Ameril Umbra Kato, broke away from the MILF in 2011 due to differences in handling of the peace negotiations. Kato is known to be among the hardliners who want an independent Islamic state in Mindanao instead of an autonomous territory.

Prior to the signing of the FAB in 2012, the BIFF launched widespread attacks in Central Mindanao. Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID) said the military, in coordination with the police, is ready in case the BIFF launches atrocities. Hermoso, however, stressed that the BIFF forces are contained in certain areas. “Most likely, magwawala yan, but they are contained in one place, because they are against the peaceful settlement. But in case magwawala naman sila, our soldiers and policemen are prepared,” said Hermoso. Hermoso, however, said the military is coordinating closely with appropriate government agencies to0 persuade the BIFF not to resort to violence. The military placed the strength of the BIFF at 250 members, with only 10 percent considered hardcore. Meanwhile, AFP-Public Information Office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala welcomed the signing of the normalization annex as another step toward lasting peace in Mindanao. “The AFP is optimistic that lasting peace and sustainable development for Mindanao is now in our reach as the government is in near realization of forging a final peace agreement with the MILF,” said Zagala. “Rest assured that our focused military operations will continue, to ensure that the peace process is not hampered or disrupted by spoilers and other threats,” he added. Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel wanted the public to take time to study all the four FAB annexes including an addendum on Bangsamoro Waters and to actively participate in the national roadmap to peace in Mindanao in light of its critical importance to national development. “Let us not be indifferent to the gains of peace that have been achieved through peaceful negotiations. I observed how serious both panels were in pursuing a successful conclusion to the ongoing talks. Our country deserves a peace agreement that would lift Mindanao up and onwards to a brighter, more progressive future,”

Pimentel stressed. The senator from Mindanao noted that the Annex on Normalization was an indication of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s sincerity in sealing a peace pact with the government. “There are solid commitments here for the decommissioning of firearms and the socio-economic empowerment of conflict-affected communities. When the MILF combatants fully embrace the cause of peace, it is with the knowledge that their families and communities will gain not just physical security but economic security as well.” Pimentel said he would study every provision in the four annexes and addendum on the Bangsamoro Waters so he can be an informed source on the complex issues. “Next to the conclusion of the fourth and final annex to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro is the formal signing of the comprehensive peace pact that will be the basis of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. As legislators, I expect that we shall all do our homework in studying this comprehensive agreement while the draft law is yet to be submitted to us by the President,” Pimentel added. Meanwhile, Pimentel said that he is willing to work closely with civil society groups and the legal community in bringing the comprehensive peace pact closer to the people. “This peace agreement is not only for Mindanao but for the entire country. Mindanao comprises 1/3 of the Philippines. If we are successful in achieving a just and lasting peace in Mindanao, then we will emerge as a stronger, more united and therefore more competitive nation,” Pimentel said. Senate President Franklin Drilon also hailed the peace panels from both sides and said that the Senate is “more than prepared to work on legislation capacitating the peace accords,” which would end four decades of armed conflict in central Mindanao. “The completion of all the annexes has proven that we Filipinos are not ruled by our differences, but by our shared desire for peace, equality and prosperity as a nation,” he said. “The admirable commitment and hard work of both parties- the government, the MILF

panel, and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process- have led to a historic stride in this decades-old quest for peace in Mindanao,” he added. British Foreign Secretary William Hague also welcomed the pursuit of the comprehensive peace agreement saying the “conclusion of negotiations between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for a comprehensive peace agreement is a significant step towards lasting peace and development for Mindanao.” “As we know from our own experience, many of the most difficult challenges will emerge as the parties work towards implementing the agreement. But the courage and leadership shown by the parties gives great hope that these can be overcome and we are ready to provide whatever further support we can to help the people of Moro and the Philippines recover from this devastating conflict,” he said. AFP

Senate ‘pork’ probe shifts focus to policy issues • •

Written by Angie M. Rosales Monday, 27 January 2014 00:00

With the issue on pork barrel scam being revived anew, stirred by the recent pronouncements of the three senators disputing the allegations by the so-called whistleblowers on their supposed involvement, investigation in the Senate had been scheduled to resume this week. But Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel expressed belief that there is no more need to call on the whistle-blowers or even the supposed mastermind, detained Janet Lim-Napoles, to testify anew. “There is perhaps no more purpose to call for another hearing. It’s a waste of time,” the senator said in an interview over dzBB radio. The matter cropped up in the wake of the recent public exchanges between the camp of the whistleblowers and Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., with the main whistleblower Benhuy Luy even challenging the senator to a face-off before the Senate blue ribbon committee to prove or disprove their respective claims. In his privilege speech last Monday, Revilla claimed that alleged endorsement letters that bore his supposed signatures were all fake and were not confirmed by him contrary to previous news reports. “For the record Mr. President, I have nothing to do with this scam, those whistleblowers, nor Janet Lim-Napoles. I have no dealings and transactions with them!” Revilla said on the floor last Jan. 20, before proceeding with his powerpoint presentation to back up his statements.

Based on his conversation with Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the blue ribbon committee, the panel on top of the investigation on the so-called P10-billion pork barrel scam, Pimentel said the next hearing will focus on policy issues. “Although this is not as important (as in previous hearings), we will be discussing policy issues, to ensure that this will not happen again and address the weaknesses in the system. “It may not be as exciting as the hearings we had last year but it’s as important because we will be discussing policy issues,” Pimentel said. In an media advisory, Guingona said the committee has sent out invitations to head of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Commission on Audit (CoA) and Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG), among other government agencies. The hearing, Guingona said, will focus on policy issues such as the registration, accreditation and monitoring of NGOs (non-government organizations) that deal with government contracts. Among those invited to the hearing are SEC Chairman Teresita Herbosa, CoA Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan, GCG Chairman Cesar Villanueva, Cooperative Development Authority Chairman Emmanuel Santiaguel; Dennis Santiago, executive director of the Government Procurement and Policy Board and Philippine Council for NGO Accreditation Chairman Augusto Carpio.

CoA questions DepEd improper evaluation on P4-B computerization program • •

Written by Tribune Monday, 27 January 2014 00:00

By Alvin Murcia

The computerization program of the Department of Education (DepEd) encountered delay due to improper monitoring and evaluation. The P4.7-billion computerization program of DepEd was adversely affected according to the Commission on Audit in its January 22, 2014 report because the program management committee (PMC) in-charge of the said project seemed to have been remiss in their tasks. The auditors disclosed the absence of proper monitoring and evaluation of the PMC and the lack of guidelines and proper coordination with different DepEd offices affected the full implementation of the computerization program. The DepEd Computerization Program (DCP) has a capital budget for 2009-2012, however, because of the “lapses” its implementation was adversely affected. The deficiencies noted in the report are undelivered/unliquidated advance payments to Department of Budget and Management amounting to P191,294,609 million under Calendar Year 2009, and P1,057,493,435 under CY 2010 DCP budget, while the P2,342,355, 368 million worth of IT packages funded on CY’s 2010-2012 budget is still ongoing. The PMC likewise was told that it did not complied with the guidelines on receipt of

deliveries, criteria of school recipients, delay of three to seven months receipt of computer packages, incomplete or defective items delivered and lack of clear guidelines and proper coordination with the respective DepEd offices resulting to double recording of deliveries costing P3,713,401,12 and unrecorded deliveries worth P27,294,124.52. The management was directed by CoA to instruct the PMC in coordination with the Regional and Division ICT coordinators to make the necessary monitoring on the deployment and utilization of the computer packages. They are also told to make the necessary report on the status of the implementation of the computer project. The immediate recording and liquidation of the DCP IT packages and deliveries was also required to be complied by the CoA auditors. On the other hand, the accounting division was also directed to make the necessary verification of the deliveries made by the DBM-PS and prepare the necessary adjusting entries. The accounting is also to provide the complete accounting guidelines incorporating the procedures, documentation and accounting treatment of the DCP and other centrally procured goods for distribution to regions, division and schools so as to establish control.

Group seeks reversal of CA ban on genetically modified eggplant • •

Written by Benjamin B. Pulta Monday, 27 January 2014 00:00

A group has sued before the Supreme Court (SC) to ask for the reversal of the Court of Appeals ruling which permanently bans the conduct of field trials for genetically modified Bt talong or eggplant. In a petition, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Applications (ISAAA), underscored that Bt eggplant is “food-safe” and “environment-safe” and said even before the CA ruling, the safety trials for Bt eggplant had already been completed, terminated and proven succesful. “The record is replete with evidence showing that the conduct of the Bt talong filed trials is safe to public ehalth and the environment,” the petitioner pointed out. In its ruling last September 2013, the CA denied with finality the motions for reconsideration filed by respondents led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) seeking the reversal of its decision issued last May 17. The appellate court, in the said ruling, issued a writ of kalikasan ordering the DENR and other respondents in the case, the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority of the Department of Agriculture, UP Los Baños Foundation Inc., UP Mindanao Foundation Inc., International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications-Southeast Asia Center to permanently “cease and desist” from further conducting field trials of Bt talong in the country. The appellate court held that the bt (bacillus thuringinesis) talong filed trials violate the

people’s constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology. The issuance of the writ of kalikasan also directed the respondents to rehabilitate and restore the environment affected by the field testing The government, according to the CA, has failed to adopt sufficient biosafety protocols in the conduct of filed trials and feasibility studies on GMOs to protect the environment and the health of the people. But, the ISAAA said the temporary protection order issued by the appellate court is an “affront to scientific progress.” BT eggplant, accoding to ISAAA, has even been found to contribute to environmental sustainability, along with raising farmers’ yield and income by around 50 percent. It claimed that scientists also found that the production of Bt eggplant as a solution to the problem of excessive pesticide spraying of eggplant during its 120 to 170-day growing season. The ISAAA noted that entomologist Mario Navasero testified before the court that current common practice of insecticide spraying to control the eggplant fruit and shoot borer is more harmful to the environment.

RP must use UN reso to advance Filipinas’ rights abroad — Jinggoy • •

Written by Tribune Sunday, 26 January 2014 00:00

The United Nations’ recent adoption of a resolution on women migrant workers fosters an enabling environment for better international labor diplomacy, which the Philippines must thus maximize to advance the rights of the more than one million Filipinas abroad. This was underscored by Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, chairman of the committee on labor and human resources development, as he lauded the UN General Assembly’s adoption of Resolution 68/137 on violence against women migrant workers last Dec. 18 during its 68th plenary session. The resolution seeks to protect women living and working abroad, underscoring the promotion of their rights and privileges as well as the cooperation and shared responsibility of countries of origin, transit, and destination to create an environment conducive to their welfare. It urges all countries to grant women migrant workers access to gender-sensitive and transparent mechanisms for airing their problems pertaining to status of contracts, working conditions or labor issues, and advises governments to encourage those concerned, especially the private sector and job agencies involved in recruitment, to focus on funding support for women migrant workers. All governments are likewise urged to consider permitting women migrant workers who are victims of violence to apply for residency permits independently of abusive employers or spouses, and to eliminate abusive sponsorship systems. It welcomes the entry into force on Sept. 5, 2013 of International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention No. 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers and encourages

States to ratify it. The resolution was initiated by the Philippines and Indonesia and was co-sponsored by 53 countries from all regions of the world. Also approved during the UN session were the following resolutions that benefit women: Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; Improvement of the situation of women in rural areas; and Follow-up to the 4th World Conference on Women and full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Based on records, there are about 1.03 million female overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and more than 100,000 of these are domestic workers. Over the years, there have been numerous reports of Filipinas getting exploited and abused abroad. “I understand that our government has been encountering some difficulties in negotiating with other governments for ample protection and better working conditions for migrant Filipina workers. The UN’s adoption of Resolution 68/137 as well as the other women-oriented resolutions will greatly help us in this effort,” Estrada said.

Group calls for review of rice import policy • •

Written by Benjamin B. Pulta Monday, 27 January 2014 00:00

In response to the ongoing crackdown on rice smugglers, a consumer group yesterday said a thorough review of the government’s rice importation policies and procedures is necessary and long overdue. In a statement, Action for Consumerism and Transparency for Nation Building (Action) reiterated that no less than the country’s food supply and the interests of the country’s rice farmers are at stake. “A re-examination of the government’s regulatory policies towards the importation of rice is clearly overdue. Unless the legal loopholes are plugged, legitimate importers will be at the mercy of the whims of some government officials tailoring their interpretation of the law according to their own agenda/gains,” Ryann Baccay, director of Action, said. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima appearing before the Senate said two new witnesses had come forward affirming the allegations of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Department of Justice (DoJ) that businessman David Bangayan is the supposed notorious rice smuggler “David Tan.” At the same hearing, the DoJ and some senators already branded some of the financiers as smugglers without pointing which laws were violated. Action claimed “the review should include the National Food Authority’s (NFA’s) allowable rice imports in the country under the quantitative restriction quotas of the government, the private sector quota, the government to government rice trade, but

should also recognize the rights, as well as opportunities given to farmers’ cooperatives to import rice.” While the NFA allowed farmer cooperatives to import rice (on the premise that they are the ones to be inadvertently affected by the entry of cheaper rice import thus needed to be protected), the government must have forgotten to give the farmers credit facilities to allow them to participate in the importations by themselves. Because of the volume of imports which needs huge capital, farmer cooperatives since year 2003 have been forced to look for financiers or investors to avail themselves of the earning opportunities via rice importations, or worse, sell their import quota. This system which was allowed and “encouraged” to flourish for more than a decade, by no less than the government through the NFA, has attracted some legitimate businessmen forging agreements with some farmer cooperatives. However, Action noted it has also been subject to abuse by smuggling syndicates. Action said, as it is, no specific restriction or legal obstruction that will prevent cooperatives from seeking private financing or joint-venturing to benefit from their import quotas as long as they follow all the requirements of the NFA and the Bureau of Customs. Vice versa, there is also no impediment for some minor importers from cooperating or conducting business with farmer cooperatives. “Had the rules been clearer and definitive, legitimate businessmen would not have ventured into such,” Action added. The NFA also has a program for farmer cooperatives that supposedly would allow them to be rice distributors, but again lack of government financing mocks the very spirit of the program and drives the cooperatives to partner with existing rice distributors. The two-system (farmer as importers and farmer as distributor) heralded by the NFA as pro- farmers was in fact a bane. Meanwhile, corrupt officials at the NFA and the Customs bureau, in connivance with

smugglers and dubious businessmen, abused these glaring loopholes, for their personal gains. Action also called on the Senate (presently having an inquiry into rice smuggling) to pass necessary laws that will address the import problems of the cooperatives. The group also committed to support reforms that are under way to eradicate not just smuggling of rice but other commodities as well which will affect the competitiveness of local farmers.

Huge market for microfinance remains untapped, says banker • •

Written by Ed Velasco Monday, 27 January 2014 00:00

A top thrift banker has advised universal and commercial banks (UKBs) to allocate small portion of their loan portfolio to microfinance. The market in microfinance is estimated to be 30 million but only around four million are being served, Lourdes Jocelyn Pineda, president of Rizal Microbank, one of the most financially-stable TBs in the Philippines, said. Pineda said the market being served by TBs and RBs is so big but there are only 600plus banks that serve the market. “There are over 30 million Filipinos living below the poverty line and thus far, only four million have had access to microfinance financial services. There is still a huge market,” Pineda explained to The Daily Tribune in an interview. Microfinance is lending money at very low interest, usually two percent. Loans approved under this category often doesn’t exceed P50,000. Generally, interest on corporate loans usually doesn’t go lower than eight percent, depending on tenors. The problem, however, according to the banker, is that those who will dwell on microfinance must undergo retraining of people because microfinance’s credit underwriting is entirely different from corporate loaning. “It will require a huge paradigm shift and retraining of people on new skills set,” Pineda said. Rizal Microbank is one of the two TB affiliates of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.

(RCBC). The other one is RCBC Savings Bank. “The only question is whether the big banks have the necessary skills set to evaluate borrowers with no financial records, no credit history and no collateral,” Pineda, who stayed for three years as head of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ microfinance access to banking service, added. When asked what is her advice to UKBs, the banker said “big banks will need to get out of their collateral-focused mindset to be able to operate at the base of the pyramid.”

Bank for poor eyed by Arab Fund, PCCI • •

Written by Tribune Monday, 27 January 2014 00:00

The Arab Gulf Program for Development (AGFund) and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the country’s largest business organization, have signed a memorandum of agreement to create the IBDAA Microfinance Bank as a bank aimed at giving the poor access to financing for their small projects. Prince Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia signed for AGFund and lawyer Miguel Varela signed for PCCI. Vice President Jejomar Binay witnessed the formal signing. Also present were Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ezzedin Tago, Saudi Ambassador to the Philippines Abdullah Al Hassan and other Middle East ambassadors. IBDAA, a brand from the Arab word “Innovation,” serves as the conduit for AGFund money for use in financial services to the poor in developing countries. Examples of these services are microfinance, savings and insurance. In other developing countries, the bank is a collaboration among AGFund, the private sector and the government. There was no official announcement of the initial fund but an IBDAA organizer said the fund for IBAA in the Philippines was about $5 million. AGFund is a non-profit regional development institution. It was established in 1980 by the initiative of Prince Talal. Leaders of the Arab Gulf States constitute its membership and contribute to its budget. AGFund is concerned with the support of sustainable human development efforts targeting the neediest in developing countries, particularly women and children. Varela said that micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the Philioppines

accounted for some 91 percent of companies but their lack of access to financing have stunted their growth. “As of last year, only 20 percent of small businesses had access to capital from local banks,” he said. “Most banks are reluctant to lend beause of the high-risks associated with MSMEs and their inability to comply with certain bank requirements such as loan collateral and financial records,” he added. “We have been experiencing jobless growth because MSMEs have not grown as we have wanted them to be. It also means that our individual and collective efforts to help the SME sector grow have not succeeded,” he said. The PCCI has set up an SME Center as a one-stop shop together with the Department of Trade and industry to help micro, small and medium scale enterprises comply with borrowing requirements. “We will provide MSMEs assistance in preparing business plans, financial report and whatever technical assistance is required,” he said. The PCCI has been the leading proponent of MSME development, particularly at this time when the chamber president, AlfredoYao, himself started business as a 12-yearold cigarette vendor and grew to head one of the country’s largest food-and-beverage companies, Varela said. “The PCCI will provide the technical expertise to help our MSMEs access the financial services of (IBDAA),” he said. PCCI has also started tapping its network of business councils and sister chambers worldwide to break into international markets and promote bilateral trade, investments and joint ventures. Prince Talal, who initiated formation of IBDAA in 1997, said the IBDAA bank “will be a vital tributary to the opening of new business opportunities, integration of the poor in the

financial process and (promotion of) the concept of savings.� With an IBDAA in the Philippines, the Saudi prince saw more self-employment, creation of products that meet the needs of society.

Gobyerno ‘di dapat kumita sa paghihirap ng taumbayan (Dindo Matining) Hindi umano dapat kumita ang gobyerno sa paghihirap ng publiko sa napakataas na dagdag singil sa presyo ng kuryente, ayon kay Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Peter Cayetano. “The government should not benefit from the misery of the people. Doon sa P4.15 kwh na idadagdag ng Meralco, P0.33 sa gobyerno mapupunta,” sabi ni Cayetano sa panayam ng mga reporter. Sabi pa ni Cayetano, parang nawiwili na umano ang gobyerno dahil kapag tumataas ang presyo ng kuryente ay tumataas din ang buwis na nakokolekta ng mga ito. “Parang naiinlab ang gobyerno na kapag tumaas ang presyo okay lang kasi ang buwis tumataas,” sabi ni Cayetano. “Tapos sasabihin ‘di bale na may conditional cash transfer (CCT) naman at ibang programa,” ayon pa sa senador. Dahil dito, pabor ang senador sa mga nagsusulong na bawasan ang Value Added Tax (VAT) at royalties sa kuryente nang sa gayon ay mabawasan ang papasanin ng mga consumer nito. “Kapag binawasan ang VAT at royalties, ang target revenue for 2014 ay mami-meet pa din,” ani Cayetano. “Ang prediction naman sa price, na-meet naman ang level. Ang problema, tumaas, kaya lalong tataas ang sisingilin ng VAT,” sambit pa nito.

Dagdag kumpiyansa! REY MARFIL Magandang ƒ panimula sa pamahalaan ni Pangulong Noynoy “PNoy” Aquino ang mga lumalabas na resulta ng iba’t ibang survey na nagpapakita na nananatiling nasa likod niya ang kanyang mga “boss”. Makabubuti ito para madagdagan din ang sipag ng gobyerno na lutasin ang mga problema ng bayan tulad ng kahirapan. Bagaman nasabi na ni PNoy noon sa mga panayam na hindi nakasandal sa survey ang pagkilos ng kanyang pamahalaan, maaari pa rin namang gamiting panukat o indicator ‘ika nga ang mga numerong naglilitawan upang mapahusay pa ang mga ginagawa ng gobyerno. Sa pagsisimula ng taon, lumilitaw na nananatiling nasa likod ng Pangulo ang tiwala at suporta ng higit na nakararaming Pinoy kung paniniwalaan ang resulta ng survey ng Social Weather Station (SWS) at Pulse Asia na ginawa noong Disyembre. Isa na rito ang survey na ginawa ng SWS sa mga biktima ng bagyong Yolanda kung saan lumabas na higit na nakararami sa kanila ang nasiyahan sa ginawang pagtugon ng gobyerno sa kalamidad. Sa kaparehas na survey, lumitaw daw na positibo rin ang pananaw ng mga Pinoy na hindi biktima ni ‘Yolanda’ sa pagkilos ng gobyerno sa pinakamalakas na bagyong tumama sa bansa. Ang resulta ng survey ay taliwas sa mga naglabasan sa media at hinala ng mga kritiko ng gobyerno na babagsak ang ratings ni PNoy dahil sa alegasyon na naging mabagal ang aksyon ng pamahalaan sa naganap na kalamidad. Pero sino ba ang dapat nating paniwalaan? Ang mga kritiko ng gobyerno, o ang mga taong direktang naapektuhan ng bagyo?

*** Napag-usapan ang survey ng SWS at Pulse Asia, maganda rin ang resulta ng survey ng US-based auditing firm na Grant Thornton LLP, na nagpapakita ng mataas na kumpiyansa ng mga negosyanteng Pinoy sa magiging takbo ng ekonomiya ng Pilipinas ngayong taon. Sa katunayan, sinabi sa survey na sa lahat ng mga negosyante sa mundo, lumitaw na “most optimistic” ang mga negosyanteng Pinoy at mga negosyante ng United Arab Emirates (UAE). Partida pa iyan -- kung tutuusin dahil may kalamidad na nangyari sa ating bansa na kailangang asikasuhin ng husto ng pamahalaang Aquino. Isipin na lang nating kung hindi tayo kinabayo ng mga kalamidad; sunud-sunod na malalakas na pag-ulan; mga bagyo; lindol; bakbakan -- na sumira ng mga pananim at imprastraktura, aba’y hindi ba mas malaking pondo sana ang magagamit ng pamahalaang Aquino sa mga kailangan nating proyekto. Pero dahil marami tayong kababayan na nawalan ng bahay sa Zamboanga City dahil sa bakbakan sa ilang miyembro ng MNLF, mga nawalan ng tirahan dahil kay ‘Yolanda’, malaking pondo ang kailangang gamitin ng pamahalaan para sila matulungan at mabigyan ng mas ligtas na matitirhan. Kaya naman magandang hakbang sa parte ng pamahalaan ang pagkakahirang kay dating Senador Panfilo Lacson bilang mamamahala sa rehabilitation program sa mga biktima ni ‘Yolanda’ para matiyak na hindi mapupunta sa bulsa ng ilang tiwaling opisyal ang pondong ilalaan sa ating mga kababayan. Mahalagang matiyak na ligtas sa mga korap ang pondo para mga biktima ni ‘Yolanda’, dahil na rin sa resulta ng survey sa mga negosyante na naniniwala na lumalala ang katiwalian sa gobyerno noong 2013. Ngayong 2014, may pagkakataon ang pamahalaan na ipakita sa mga negosyante na mali ang kanilang hinala sa usapin ng katiwalian sa pamahalaan. Kung magpapatuloy ang kampanya ng pamahalaan laban sa katiwalian alinsunod sa plataporma ng daang matuwid; at sasabayan ng pagpapalakas ng negosyo sa bansa ng mga namumuhunan na makalikha ng maraming trabaho, tiyak na mababawasan din ang

isa pang resulta ng survey na nagpapakita na marami pa ang naghihirap at nagugutom na kababayan. ‘Ika nga sa mga kasabihan, bagong simula, bagong pag-asa. Pero higit na mataas ang pag-asa kapag nabigyan ng magandang panimula.

Hindi lang sa galing, kailangan ding maging responsable JEANY LACORTE Lumalawak ang mga programang inilulunsad ng liderato ng Philippine National Police (PNP) na may kaugnayan sa pagsugpo sa kriminalidad. Isa dito ay ang nakalinyang shooting tournament na pangangasiwaan ng tanggapan ni PNP Chief Alan Purisima sa susunod na buwan ng Pebrero. Ang matindi sa torneo na gaganapin sa Mapalad Shooting Range sa Tarlac City ay hindi lamang para magpamalas ng talento sa paghawak ng baril ang mga kalahok sa kumpetisyon kundi isa itong hakbang ng PNP para ipagpatuloy ang promosyon sa competence, professionalism at higit sa lahat ay pagiging responsable sa paghawak ng baril ng mga gun owner, mula sa hanay ng kapulisan at maging ng mga sibilyan na isa sa adbokasiya ng kasalukuyang pinuno ng PNP. Ikaklasipika ang torneo sa tatlong shooting events, una ang Game of the Generals sa Pebrero 1-2, pangalawa ang All PNP Inter-Unit Championship sa Pebrero 3-4 at ang World Shoot XVII Qualifier Match Level III sa Pebrero 5-9. Ang Game of the Generals ay traditional shooting event na ang layon ay mapaunlad ang pakikisama, pakikipagkaibigan at pagka-maginoo sa hanay ng mga senior police officer. Ang mga maglalaban-laban sa All PNP Inter-Unit Championship ay dinisenyo para hasain ang kaalaman sa pagbaril ng mga tauhan ng PNP sa marksmanship at practical shooting sa mga tauhan mula sa National Headquarters (NHQ) Directorial Staff, Directorate for Integrated Police Operations (DIPO), National Support UNITs (NSU), Police Regional Offices (PRO), at NCR Police Districts. Ang bawat unit ay mayroong maximum na apat na koponan. Ang All PNP Inter-Unit Championship ay mayroong 10-stage PPSA Level II sanctioned match.

Samantala ang local at international shooters ay magtatagisan para sa top seed honors sa 15-stage World Shoot XVII Qualifier event na Level 3 sanctioned match sa Philippine Practical Shooting Association (PPSA). Hindi lamang diyan nagtatapos ang torneo dahil ang top finishers ay makakwalipika sa World Shoot XVII sa Oktubre, 2014 sa Folk County, Florida, USA. Kaya isang pagsaludo ang ating ipinaabot sa mga magtatagisan ng galing sa paghawak ng baril, lalo na sa mga magwawagi at siyempre sa pasimuno ng kumpetisyon na si PNP Chief Purisima. Good luck at sana’y magpatuloy ang ganitong aktibidad na may mabuting misyon hindi lamang sa kanilang mga tauhan kundi para sa kapakanan ng taumbayan.

TENSION HIGH IN CABANATUAN Published : Monday, January 27, 2014 00:00 Written by : Paul M. Gutierrez

Church leader alarmed by ‘political tension,’ ‘violent reactions’ THE weather may still be numbly cold elsewhere in the country but in Nueva Ecija the political temperature continues to rise between the “pro” and the “anti” groups battling over the conversion of Cabanatuan into a “highly urbanized city” (HUC). Over the weekend, some 4,000 residents of Cabanatuan staged a rally at the Plaza Lucero near St. Nicholas Cathedral to press for the holding of the plebiscite that was originally scheduled by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) int December 2012. However, Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali, who was allegedly “adamant” against the conversion, managed to secure a TRO (temporary restraining order) from the Supreme Court a month before, in November 2012, that effectively prevented the people of Cabanatuan from making known their position on the issue. Bearing placards saying, “Let’s get on with the plebiscite” (“Ituloy ang plebisito,”) and, “Plebiscite to determine the will of the people” (“Plebisito ang batayan sa damdamin ng taumbayan),” the rallyists were further encouraged by a pastoral letter issued on the same day, January 25, by Bishop Sofronio Bancud, head of the Diocese of Cabanatuan. In his pastoral letter, Bishop Bancud expressed alarm that the HUC issue has become a “highly politicized issue” that has “often aroused from both sides not

only passionate rhetoric, but also personal attacks and violent reactions.” “We are not asking our people to vote ‘Yes” or ‘No.’ Our (Church) position is clear: We believe that the plebiscite is the fitting and rightful venue for the people of Cabanatuan to be heard,” Bishop Bancud said, adding: “No less than our elected officials have acknowledged that this HUC bid has been a very divisive issue. Then why should we delay it and encourage further divisions?” Sources familiar with the issue claimed that Umali and his camp are opposed to the conversion of Cabanatuan into an HUC “for personal and political reasons.” They noted that under RA 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991, the province loses administrative control over Cabanatuan once it achieves HUC status. Additionally, Cabanatuan residents do not need to elect officials of the provincial government. Umali, for his part, averred the whole of Nueva Ecija would be affected by the conversion and argued that all Nuevo Ecijanos should take part in the exercise instead. Since the SC issued its TRO, the city government, through Mayor Julius Vergara’s lawyers, have been asking the high court to lift the injunction and allow the plebiscite to proceed, with the encouragement of Bishop Bancud, who added: “Though the issuance of the TRO by the Supreme Court came as a surprise for many… “It’s guaranteed by law that people can most respectfully and humbly petition the Supreme Court, either to lift the TRO or to resolve the issue with urgency for the sake of our people.” Cabanatuan’s bid for HUC status also has the support of President Benigno Aquino who, on July 4, 2012, issued Presidential Proclamation No. 418, converting Cabanatuan into an HUC pending the result of a plebiscite to be administered by the Comelec. Cabanatuan became a chartered city in 1950 and was the provincial capital of Nueva Ecija until 1965 when the province’s seat of government was moved to Palayan City.

No ‘green light’ yet on judiciary probe Published : Monday, January 27, 2014 00:00 Written by : Ryan Ponce Pacpaco SPEAKER Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. yesterday assured that there will be “no collision” between lawmakers and justices during a congressional inquiry on how the controversial P1.775-billion Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) or the so-called judiciary’s pork barrel is being used and spent as he clarified that the investigation next month is yet to get a “green light” from his leadership. “There will be no collision during the inquiry, but we have not given a go signal to the hearing,” Belmonte clarified. Last week, Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., the chairman of the House committee on justice, said his panel will start inquiring on the matter by February for the sake of transparency and accountability. In case the inquiry pushes through, House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II said they would just allow the representatives of the Supreme Court (SC) justices to appear in the hearing. “The necessary courtesies will be extended to the personalities from a co-equal branch of government,” Gonzales said. 1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III, a member of the House minority bloc who served as justice secretary during the time of former President Fidel Ramos, agreed with Belmonte that no collision course will happen. “The probe of JDF by Congress will not lead to a collision between the two coequal bodies. The SC should welcome the move of Congress as a manifestation of its adherence to the principle of transparency,” Bello said Earlier, Cavite Rep. Elpidio “Pidi” Barzaga Jr. also scored the SC for its supposed P73 million overspending when it spent P106.78 million JDF in 2012, an amount higher than the P33.24 million it had collected, raising interpretation that it has been using the collections of other courts nationwide to support their huge expenses. “For the year 2012, the total collection of the SC from the cases brought before it was P33,241,383.21 and yet it spent a total amount for the SC employees

for cost of living allowance of P65,674,615.79 and P108, 787,950.47 or a total expense of P106,787,980.47 which expenditure was way above the SC collection of 33,241,383.21,� Barzaga stressed. In 2003 or during the 12th Congress, the impeachment complaint filed against then Chief Justice Hilario Davide did not prosper.

Bishops ‘back’ Gloria Published : Monday, January 27, 2014 00:00 Written by : Lee Ann Ducusin OFFERING encouragement, compassion and friendship, five Catholic bishops yesterday visited former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria MacapagalArroyo at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center and held mass there. Lawyer Raul Lambino, CGMA’s chief of staff and spokesman, said the bishops came to share love and compassion to someone who is being harassed and persecuted. “During the homily, the bishops said that they come and visit her in order to give her encouragement and help strengthen her faith even more to fight for truth and justice,” he told Peoples Tonight. “They also wanted to show their authentic friendship to someone who is suffering from sickness and injustice,” the lawyer added. The five Catholic Church leaders who visited were Nueva Caceres, Naga Archbishop Rolando Tirona, Tandag Archbishop Nerio Odchimar, Quezon Bishop Emilio Marquez, Tuguegarao Archbishop Diosdado Talamayan and Nueva Vizcaya Bishop Ramon Villena. CGMA’s critic retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz and Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles earlier visited the beleaguered former president. The ailing former president has been receiving friends, political allies and former critics at her suite in the VMMC. Among the country’s religious and political personalities who have visited CGMA since the Sandiganbayan rejected her appeal for bail were former Vice President Noli de Castro, former Presidents Fidel V. Ramos and Joseph Estrada, evangelist Bro. Eddie Villanueva, and former First Lady and now Cong. Imelda R. Marcos.

Aquino hits critics Published : Monday, January 27, 2014 00:00 Written by : Efren Montano “So long as people believe in me, bahala na kayo. Basta magtatrabaho ako.” These were the confident words of President Benigno S. Aquino III as he aired his lament about sensationalism that have become the norm in media reporting these days. When asked if the President ever felt that the criticisms against him have gone too far, Aquino quickly replied: “My test is, for as long as I can face the mirror and [tell myself] that I did everything possible, I’m already okay with that. “When I was younger, when you read the newspapers, you know that the [reports] are true… Nobody questioned what was written there,” Aquino told a recent television show interview (ABS-CBN’s “Bottomline”). Aquino also cited the continued criticisms that he has not done a lot even after three years in position contrary to what the surveys says about his rather high and positive trust, satisfaction and performance ratings.

QC imposes speed limits Published : Monday, January 27, 2014 00:00 Written by : Cory Martinez SPEED limit in all subdivisions in Quezon City will soon be strictly implemented. This was learned after Mayor Herbert Bautista signed into law the Subdivision Speed Limit ordinance of QC which will strictly implement the maximum allowable speed limit of 20 kilometers per hour only in all subdivisions in the city. Bautista said the speed limit will be imposed in order to lessen road accidents in the city and will teach motorists to be extra careful while on the road. Meanwhile, the seven councilors who principally sponsored the ordinance noted that a lot of accidents happens everyday that are connected to overspeeding or reckless driving. They said that there is an urgent need to implement the maximum speed limit to prevent further damage to property and loss of life. Section 30, Article VII of Traffic Management Code of Quezon City imposed a particular speed limit not exceeding the 20 kilometers per hour limit for subdivision street but exempted from this limit are emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire trucks. Despite the existing speed limit signage on roads and streets, there are still motorists who do not follow the speed limit rule that results to accidents and damage to properties, the ordinance’s authors also said.

Using leftover food for family meals Published : Monday, January 27, 2014 00:00

THE meal planner in the house has a difficult task. That person has to think of ways on how to cut down food costs and how to cook meals within the budget. The challenge is that everyday, food prices fluctuate. One way to stretching the food budget is making use of left-over foods. These are the uneaten but still edible remains of a meal. Left-over foods are cooked foods that the family does not eat within two hours after cooking. Following are some tips to make left-over foods safe. Storing left-over food: - Refrigerate left-over foods as soon as possible after meals. - Before freezing left-overs, put the date on the container for easy recall. - Transfer left-over canned foods to a clean and dry container and refrigerate. - If you have any doubt about left-over food, throw it away. - Practice FIFO (First-In-First-Out) on storage of food in the freezer. - Consume left-overs stored in the refrigerator within four (4) days. Following the steps of storing left-over foods, one can now make use of leftover foods and enjoy eating make-over foods.

Making use of left-over foods: - Left-over cooked foods should be boiled or heated thoroughly before serving again. - Fry left-over rice. For more nutrients and flavor, add flaked fish, chopped meat, egg or shrimps, and seasonings. Serve with chopped green leafy vegetables. - Prepare fried fish or meat into cardillo, omelette, escabeche and sarciado. - Grilled “liempo” or pork belly or other grilled pork can be added to “kilawen”, a broiled fresh meat dish; just add a healthy dose of salt and vinegar. - Scrap beef, pork, and chicken bones can be used as tasty soup stock. - Left-over “adobo”, a favorite Filipino stew, can add flavor to chopsuey, a stir-fried vegetable mix. - Left-over fried fish or meat can add extra flavor to “dinengdeng”, an Ilocano dish with vegetables and shrimp paste. - Left-over “lechon kawali” can be added to vegetable dishes like pinakbet. - Overripe bananas from the traditional fruit bowl can be made into tasty banana cake or bread. - Overripe saba can be made into delicious turon with langka. ***

2014 01 27 quedancor daily news monitor  
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