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Thailand offers lower price for rice after bid By Jerry E. Esplanada Philippine Daily Inquirer 7:20 am | Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—After losing to Vietnam in the Philippine government’s auction to supply 500,000 metric tons of rice last November, Thailand is still bent on bagging the supply contract, submitting a counter-offer that was lower than Hanoi’s winning bid of $462.25 per MT, according to National Food Authority (NFA) documents. The NFA, however, ignored Thailand’s lower offer of $462 per MT, which was 25 cents lower than Vietnam’s, saying it would violate provisions of Republic Act No. 9184, the government’s procurement law. The NFA said Thailand should have submitted its best offer during the bidding. In a Dec. 5 legal opinion, Government Corporate Counsel Raoul Creencia said: “All told, the NFA is not obliged to accept the Royal Thai government’s re-offer in the bidding.” “The Philippine government may, however, in a separate transaction avail itself of the (June 2011) memorandum of agreement (MOA) to negotiate with the Royal Thai government for a separate procurement of rice,” he added. The Thai Department of Foreign Trade offered the lower price on Nov. 26, the same day the NFA and Hanoi’s state-owned Vietnam Southern Food Corp. signed the contract for the supply of the cereal to serve as the country’s “buffer stock” for the period December 2013 to March 2014. Thailand’s original bid was $475 per MT, $12.75 higher than Vietnam’s.

In asserting its position, the Thai Department of Foreign Trade invoked the June 2011 MOA between Bangkok and Manila. In a letter to NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag, Thai Foreign Trade Director General Surasak Riangkrul said that during negotiations, “the price offered by the Royal Thai government shall be reviewed and evaluated by the Philippine government.” Riangkrul’s letter, dated Nov. 26, was received the following day by the NFA. “Should the price be acceptable to the Philippine government, it shall accept the offer and proceed with the procurement of the commodity. (But) if the price is not acceptable, the parties shall immediately proceed to negotiate an acceptable price until an agreement is reached,” Surasak said, quoting the MOA. But Creencia explained that “the MOA between the Thai and Philippine governments contemplates a bilateral agreement between the two countries.” “On the other hand, for the November bidding, the Thai government was fully aware that the invitation was for it to submit a sealed bid offer for the procurement of the country’s rice requirements, which was not the procurement through negotiation contemplated in the MOA,” he said. NFA sources, however, dismissed the NFA’s and Creencia’s positions as “flawed.” “The NFA limited the participants to only two countries, both of which had earlier entered into MOAs with the Philippines. Clearly, the action of the NFA was disadvantageous to the Philippine government,” said an NFA official, who sought anonymity for lack of authority to speak to media. Said another source: “Since the MOA (with Thailand) allowed it to make a new bid, then the NFA was mandated to at the very least make Vietnam match the offer of Thailand, or in the spirit of cordial relations between Asean member states, arrange a sharing of the rice supply under mutually acceptable terms.” “Even assuming that RA 9184 was their basis, then they have violated the same law. Because under RA 9184, the NFA should have published invitations for an international tender, which would allow not just Vietnam or Thailand but also other rice-producing countries, as well as private trading groups, to take part in the bidding,” the same source said.

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Farmgate prices of palay stable at P2122/kilo By Ronnel W. Domingo Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:42 am | Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 Farmgate prices of palay has remained stable at about P21 to P22 a kilo since October, showing no reason for prices of milled rice to increase significantly, according to an umbrella group of agriculture organizations. The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) also said on Monday that if there were any such price spikes, these would be the doings of rice smugglers and unscrupulous traders. “Prices have remained stable and the stocks of milled rice from the harvest in October are already in warehouses and in the market,” said Sinag chair Rosendo So. “If prices went up as described in the media, it means smugglers and the traders they are in cahoots with want to show that prices are high to justify the need to import in huge volumes.”

Sinag is composed of more than 30 groups of rice, corn and vegetable farmers and traders, pork, livestock and poultry producers, aquaventure groups and fertilizer and pesticide suppliers. It has been regularly issuing price monitoring reports since October. The group said that since rice smuggling has been reduced last year compared to previous years, farmers have been enjoying good prices for their produce. However, palay prices are lower based on the Department of Agriculture’s own monitoring. According to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, farmgate prices averaged at P18.49 a kilo in the Jan. 15 to 21 period.

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Name names SEARCH FOR TRUTH By Ernesto M. Maceda (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 28, 2014 - 12:00am 0 3 googleplus0 0 Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction (PARR) chief Panfilo Lacson was challenged by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-Nassa) Executive Secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez, to name the persons who are involved in getting kickbacks for the contracts to build bunkhouses in Leyte and Samar. Lacson had earlier disclosed that he had a “shortlist” of people who have been “getting in the way” of the government’s relief and rehabilitation efforts. Informed sources had charged that the bunkhouses did not follow international standards, and were overpriced. Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio Singson denied the charges, and said that he would resign if the charges are proven. Singson, however, agreed to increase the size of the bunkhouses from 8.4 sq.m. to 17.8 sq.m. The House committee on public works is set to investigate the matter tomorrow. Overpriced National Food Authority (NFA) insiders have charged that the rice imports from Vietnam in 2013, totalling 705,700 metric tons (MT), were overpriced by P825 million. Documents show that the 205,700 MT imported in April was overpriced by $34 per MT, while the 500,000 MT imported in November was overpriced by $23. The NFA paid $459.20 and $462.25 per MT, while the United States Department of Agriculture’s grain agriculture and information report pegged the Vietnam rice at $358.59 per MT. This overpricing of rice importations has been happening for the last 12 years, but the Administration never conducted an in-depth investigation of the same. Note that authority to import rice is approved by the Office of the President.

Once again, the 705,700 MT importation confirms the failure of the administration to achieve self-sufficiency in rice as promised by the President, in his 2013 State of the Nation Address (SONA). DOT too The Commission on Audit (COA) has asked officials and employees of the Department of Tourism (DOT) to return the P162.4 million in bonuses and allowances paid in 2011 and 2012. The COA noted the payments were not approved by the President. DOT officials maintained that the bonuses and allowances were paid out due to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). COA, however, ruled that the CBA was not authorized by the law. 4th Annex signed The Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed the fourth and last annex to the Framework Peace Agreement in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last Saturday. The fourth annex called the normalization annex, provided for the decommissioning of the MILF armed forces and the surrender of their firearms in four stages. The arms will be surrendered to an international decommissioning body. The specific details, of which, are still to be agreed upon. President Aquino in an interview said he is wary that the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) or some other breakaway group from the MILF would spoil the gains of the Framework Peace Agreement. A proposed law, which is being drafted by a 15-man Transition Commission, will have to be submitted to Congress for approval. It is expected that some sectors would again question the proposed law before the Supreme Court, principally on the creation of a Bangsamoro “sub-state,� and the carving out of a separate territory. The signing of the last annex was done by Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer for the Philippine government, and Mohagher Iqbal for the MILF. There have been 2 bombings happened in Cotabato area in the last few days. One bombing also happened in Zamboanga. Yolanda survivors protest Fifteen thousand Yolanda survivors from Leyte and Samar marched in the streets of Tacloban, coinciding with the visit of Secretary Ping Lacson last Saturday, protesting the inadequate aid given to them, and asking the Aquino administration to increase aid to them.

They also demanded a P40,000 compensation per victim of the tragedy. Cash payments have been given by the government in previous typhoons. A religious nun was quoted, “A bag of 2 kilos of rice, sardines and noodles given once or twice is not enough relief for the victims.” The protesters also declared the slow pace of construction of bunkhouses and new homes as thousands were still living in overcrowded tents, which recently have been flooded. Senator Lacson announced that he would make Tanauan municipality a model of reconstruction. Why only Tanauan? Other destroyed towns like Palo, Tolosa, Dulag, Basey, Marabut, Guiuan, Mercedes, and Salcedo should be equally treated. Restore death penalty There is a growing clamor for the revival of the death penalty, even only for drug manufacturers, traders, and pushers. Recent apprehensions show how big the drug business has become, the last estimated to cost P1.3 billion in a drug arrest in Parañaque. Public clamor has also been stirred up by two recent cases of 6-year-old girls raped and killed in Paco, Manila and Naic, Cavite. Mayor Joseph Estrada has announced an all-out war against drug dealers in Manila. Authorities are doubly concerned of the entry of Mexican, Chinese, and Canadian drug cartels into the country. The personnel of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and the Philippine National Police’s Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (Aidsoft) should be increased. *



Tidbits: King Gustav Adolph of Sweden visited Tacloban and donated $100,000 for typhoon relief. Archbishop Diosdado Talamayan, Bishop Nereo Odchimar, Bishop Emilio Marquez, Archbishop Rolando Tirona, and Bishop Ramon Villena visited former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Sunday at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC). Previous visitors were Archbishops Oscar Cruz and Ramon Arguelles. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is preparing to run for President in 2016. The price of commercial rice has gone up to P40 per kilo. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is looking for Mexican assassins who have entered the country. Condolence to Fr. Jerry Orbos and Oscar Orbos on the passing of their mother, Concepcion.

Leftist group says NBI must probe NFA rice importers Category: Agri‐Commodities   27 Jan 2014   Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga   THE  Kilusang  Magbubukid  ng  Pilipinas (KMP)  called  for  a  thorough  investigation  of  rice  importers  that  were  granted  import  permits  by  the  National  Food  Authority  (NFA)  in  connection  with  rice‐smuggling  activities in the country.  The group said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) should look into the NFA’s list of rice importers  who were issued permits by the government agency in the past.  KMP earlier pointed to the document submitted by the NFA to the House of Representatives during the  budget  deliberations  last  year.  The  group  explained  that  such  document  reported  the  status  of  the  importation of well‐milled rice last year.  That  document  should  be  scrutinized  as  it  links  an  alleged  rice  smuggler  being  currently  being  investigated to one of the companies accredited by the NFA as a legitimate importer of the food staple,  the KMP said in a statement issued on Monday.  The document refers to the status of 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  that:  “as  of  September  3,  2013, the NFA was able to issue import permits to five entities out of 31 applicant importers.”  On top of Calayag’s list granted by the NFA with import permits is Starcraft International Trading Corp.,  allegedly owned by David Bangayan, also known as David Tan, the alleged “Goliath” of rice smuggling in  the country.  Also included are San Miguel MPC, Bold Bidder Marketing and General Mdse., Inter‐Continental Grains  International Trading Inc. and Kwin Rice Trading.  “We challenge the NBI to dig deeper into their probe and reveal the people behind the NFA‐accredited  rice  importers  including  their  handlers  and  protectors  in  the  Aquino  government,”  KMP  Deputy  Secretary‐General Willy Marbella was quoted in the statement as saying. 

Lawmakers’  probe  on  rice  smuggling  continues  on  its  second  week  on  Monday  where  Party‐list  Rep.  Fernando Hicap of Anakpawis called for heads to roll at the NFA and its parent unit, the Department of  Agriculture (DA).  “Heads must roll at the DA and NFA over rice smuggling. Massive rice smuggling happened right under  their  noses  and  they  didn’t  do  anything  to  stop  it.  By  the  looks  of  it,  rice  smuggling  happened  with  government consent,” Hicap said during the Lower House’s version of the rice smuggling probe.  According  to  Hicap  the  rampant  rice  smuggling  in  the  country  is  an  effect  of  the  government’s  rice  importation policy that was intensified by the previous and current administrations.  “Imported rice entering the country through legal and illegal means, continue to flood the local market.”

Duterte won’t reply to CHR letter By Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 28, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has no plans of responding to a letter sent to him by Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chair Loretta Rosales regarding his declaration against rice smugglers. “Talk to my lawyer,” was Duterte’s reaction, as he refused to dignify the CHR letter. Rosales said the CHR might conduct an investigation and review legalities regarding events involving Duterte. She said the fact-finding investigation might lead to the filing of charges, if warranted by facts and law. The mayor said he stands by his belief that there was nothing wrong with his threat to use lethal force against rice smugglers should they continue their illegal trade within his turf. Duterte said Bureau of Internal Revenue chief Kim Henares sought his help in addressing the rampant rice smuggling at the Davao port, which appeared to be the “weakest link” in the supposed revenue collection on imported items.

Region 8 to boost jackfruit production Category: Agri‐Commodities   27 Jan 2014   Written by Alladin S. Diega / Correspondent   IN  keeping  with  the  Department  of  Agriculture  (DA)  program  on  crop  diversification,  DA  Region  8  is  pushing for the expansion of jackfruit plantation in the area.  “Some 3,000 hectares in the region were already planted to Eviarc‐sweet, an improved jackfruit variety,”  Dr. Wilson A. Cerbito, DA Region 8 assistant director told the BusinessMirror.  The 3,000 hectares of plantation was divided into three areas in Leyte, in Ormoc, Mahaplag and Baybay,  while the fourth site is in Calbayog, Eastern Samar.    Eviarc‐sweet, considered as the sweetest existing variety in the country, was  a P1.28‐million  DA project  which successfully raised jackfruit yield by 82 percent per hectare, enhancing profitability for a fruit that  has abundant value‐adding prospects when processed.  It  was  developed  by  the  Eastern  Visayas  Integrated  Agricultural  Research  Center  or  Eviarc  and  is  now  registered with the National Seed Industry Council, according to Cerbito, adding that there is an ongoing  project to expand the plantation practically, in all of Samar island.  The Eastern Visayas was identified by the DA, along with Bicol, Southern Tagalog, Northern Luzon and  Mindanao areas, as preferred location for jackfruit production.  In a study by the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (Amas), a DA unit, an initial production  cost  of  P40,993  can  yield  a  P16,337  net  income  for  the  third  year,  or  a  return  on  investment  of  40  percent. This computation, however, was based on the regular variety of jackfruit.  Normally  bearing  fruit  on  the  third  or  fourth  year  of  planting  from  grown  seedlings,  jackfruit  can  be  continuously productive up to 20 years, after which, the yield will start to decline, according to Amas.  According to Cerbito, jackfruits are among the perennial tree crops, such as coconut, coffee and cacao,  which can be productive for many years, with minimal input and care.  Except during the hottest months of the year, fully grown jackfruit do not even need regular watering.  Region  8  is  also  known  for  rimas,  or  the  bread  fruit,  a  member  of  the  jackfruit  family,  which  can  be  consumed as vegetable when immature, and as dessert when ripe. 

Cerbito  also  said  that  aside  from  the  coconut  trees,  Region  8  is  known  for  the  jackfruit,  and  barring  super  typhoon  like  Yolanda,  internationally  known  as  Haiyan,  the  tree  is  fairly  resilient  and  can  withstand strong tropical typhoons.  A  main  producer  of  coconut,  Eastern  Visayas  sustained  the  most  damage  in  coconut  plantation,  with  most  of  the  16.1  million  coconut  trees  planted  in  161,419  hectares  felled  or  cut‐down  by  Yolanda,  in  Leyte and Eastern Samar. Those with chance of recovery were numbered at 28 million trees in 280,098  hectares of plantation, bringing the total affected trees to 44.1 million, in 441,517 hectares.‐commodities/26605‐region‐8‐to‐boost‐ jackfruit‐production   

LPA expected to enter PH Thursday By Frances Mangosing 8:14 am | Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

MT Satellite image Jan. 28, 2014, 7:32 a.m. Screengrab from MANILA, Philippines—A low pressure area over the Pacific Ocean that will bring rains to parts of Mindanao may enter the Philippine area of responsibility by Thursday, the state weather bureau said. “The LPA will likely enter by Thursday but it has low chances of becoming a tropical cyclone,” Glaiza Escullar of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) told on Tuesday. The LPA is forecast to bring rains to parts of Mindanao, including in Northern Mindanao which was recently affected by Tropical Depression Agaton. Escullar did not discount the possibility that the LPA will dissipate but said the LPA forecast continued to be on track. But if ever it intensifies into a cyclone, it will be locally named “Basyang.” The northeast monsoon continued to affect Luzon and Visayas. The whole country will experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies with light rains, Pagasa said.      

Oil firms to hike diesel, gasoline prices this week By Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 28, 2014 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Oil companies are seen to raise prices by P0.50 per liter for diesel and P0.45 per liter for gasoline this week, industry players said yesterday. If this pushes through, the oil price hike will end three consecutive weeks of price cuts after last week’s price rollback of P0.10 per liter for diesel. Prior to last week’s cut, oil firms also implemented a P0.85 per liter cut for gasoline, P1.10 per liter for kerosene and P0.90 for diesel. In its Jan. 21 oil price monitoring report, the Department of Energy (DOE) said world crude prices were mixed but analysts believed sentiment would continue to be boosted by expectations of higher world economic growth. “The price increase seen during the week was attributable in part to a sharper-than-expected reduction in US crude stocks and in part to significantly rising equity markets. Oil price uptick also came after the World Bank upgraded its 2014 forecast for global economic growth, indicating a potential improvement in oil demand,” the DOE report said. If the price hike pushes through, retail prices of petroleum products could range anywhere from P50.75 to P55.85 per liter for gasoline and P42.60 to P47 per liter for diesel, based on the DOE’s latest price monitoring report.‐firms‐hike‐diesel‐gasoline‐prices‐week                 

Most gov’t execs suffer declines in satisfaction ratings–SWS By Rafael L. Antonio Inquirer Research 6:46 pm | Monday, January 27th, 2014

Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS MANILA, Philippines—Vice President Jejomar Binay and other high government officials saw a decline in their public satisfaction ratings amid controversies involving various government institutions, the Social Weather Stations found in a survey. The survey was conducted from Dec. 11 to 16 and was first published in the BusinessWorld newspaper. Binay scored a “very good” +62 net satisfaction rating in the fourth quarter of 2013 survey (75 percent satisfied, 13 percent dissatisfied), seven points down from his +69 rating (78 percent satisfied, 10 percent dissatisfied) in September. In an earlier report, SWS said President Aquino’s net satisfaction rating remained unchanged at “good” +49 in December, yielding a 2013 full-year average of +55, a slight improvement from his +53 similar averages in 2012 and 2011. The ratings of Senate President Franklin Drilon saw a big drop of 12 points since he reassumed the position in June, to a “moderate” +25 (52 percent satisfied, 26 percent dissatisfied) from “good” +37 (55 percent satisfied, 18 percent dissatisfied) in the previous quarter. House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte’s public satisfaction rating remained “moderate” at +16 (41 percent satisfied, 25 percent dissatisfied), two points below his +18 (41 percent satisfied, 23 percent dissatisfied) score three months earlier.

Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno’s rating slid by a point to yield a still “moderate” +16 (40 percent satisfied, 25 percent dissatisfied), from +17 (39 percent satisfied, 22 percent dissatisfied) in September. The SWS also found the Cabinet having the biggest decline among top government institutions, recording a “moderate” +20 (46 percent satisfied, 26 percent dissatisfied), down seven points from the previous quarter. The Supreme Court and the Senate both enjoyed “good” scores of +36 (57 percent satisfied, 22 percent dissatisfied) and +33 (57 percent satisfied, 24 percent dissatisfied), respectively. Public satisfaction with the House of Representatives stood at a “moderate” +26 (51 percent satisfied, 24 percent dissatisfied), a point lower than the previous quarter. The SWS considers net satisfaction ratings of plus 70 and above as “excellent”; plus 50 to plus 69, “very good”; plus 30 to plus 49, “good”; plus 10 to plus 29, “moderate”; plus 9 to minus 9, “neutral”; minus 10 to minus 29, “poor”; minus 30 to minus 49, “bad”; minus 50 to minus 69, “very bad”; and minus 70 and below, “execrable.” At the time of the survey, the government was conducting massive rehabilitation in the areas devastated by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) in Eastern Visayas. Meanwhile, the House committee on power was probing Manila Electric Co.’s hefty rate increase of P4.15 per kilowatt hour following the shutdown of the Malampaya natural gas pipeline from Nov. 9 to Dec. 9. The Inquirer also reported that an alleged “fixer” in the Supreme Court, Arlene Angeles Lerma, was identified for influencing court decisions in favor of her clients with huge payoffs to judges and justices. The survey, which used face-to-face interviews of 1,550 Filipinos, had a margin of error of plusor-minus 2.5 percent.

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FDA cautions public on 'alternative' medical devices ( | Updated January 27, 2014 - 11:00pm 0 0 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today asked the public to be wary of " alternative" medical devices being sold in the country. In its latest advisory, FDA said it issued the warning after they received information that some local companies are importing, selling or manufacturing alternative devices with therapeutic claims. "The public should avoid the use of new devices/technology that claim to cure almost all human diseases," said FDA Acting Director General Kenneth Hartigan-Go. The FDA said manufacturers of these devices need to register with the agency. Go said an FDA registration ensures that products meet "safety, efficacy and quality standards and all health claims made are truthful and not misleading." Go said sellers and manufacturers also need to secure a license to operate from FDA as manufacturer or distributor of alternative medical devices.‐cautions‐public‐alternative‐medical‐ devices                     

Farm animals in Negros dying due to cold spell, local vet says By Carla Gomez Inquirer Visayas 5:38 pm | Monday, January 27th, 2014 BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental—The unusual cold experienced in 12 towns and cities in Negros Occidental has caused the death of 113 farm animals worth a total of P912,290, provincial veterinarian Renante Decena said Monday. Temperatures ranged from 16 to 20 Celsius with windy and rainy conditions, Decena said. The unusual cold from January 2 to 27 caused the deaths of seven cattle, three carabaos, 38 pigs, 49 sheep, nine goats and eight poultry in 24 barangays in 12 towns and cities, he said. The areas affected were Sagay, Sipalay, Himamaylan, Cadiz and La Carlota cities; and the towns of Salvador Benedicto, Toboso, Valladolid, San Enrique, Murcia, Manapla and Moises Padilla. Decena said his office has mobilized para-veterinarians to provide technical assistance and medicines in affected areas. Most of the dead were backyard farm animals belonging to small farmers. The highest fatalities were recorded in Murcia town with 41 (37 sheep and 4 pigs). Don Salvador Benedicto town, which is known for its cool weather throughout the year, had 16 deaths (two carabaos, three goats, a cow, five pigs and five game fowl), in nine barangays, Decena said. In Barangay Maricalum in Sipalay City, 16 piglets also died, while in Sagay City there were 10 deaths (five sheep and five goats). In Valladolid town, seven sheep died in three barangays, while in Toboso, four piglets died in Barangay Bug-ang. The deaths in Cadiz City were four piglets; while in Manapla town, one sheep, a cattle, a carabao and a goat died. The other deaths were four cattle in Moises Padilla, three sheep in La Carlota City, two chickens and a fighting cock in San Enrique town and a piglet in Himamaylan City.


Fair, cold weather to continue ( | Updated January 27, 2014 - 11:53am

MANILA, Philippines - Fair weather will prevail all over the country with partly cloudy to cloudy skies and isolated light rains due to the northeast monsoon affecting Luzon and Visayas, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said on Monday. The weather bureau said moderate to strong winds blowing from the northeast will prevail over Luzon and Visayas and coming from the northeast to north over Mindanao. The temperature for Metro Manila will be around 17 to 29 degrees Celsius while Baguio will experience temperature from 9 to 19 degree Celsius. PAGASA weather forecaster Fernando Cada said the northeast monsoon will continue to bring cold weather with isolated light rains in most parts of the country. A low pressure area is also expected to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Wednesday but it has a small chance to turn into a tropical cyclone. PAGASA said coastal waters throughout the archipelago will be moderate to rough, and galeforce winds associated with the northeast monsoon will affect the northern seaboard of Northern Luzon and the eastern seaboards of Southern Luzon, Visayas and of Mindanao. "Fishing boats and other small seacrafts are advised not to venture out into the sea while larger sea vessels are alerted against big waves," the weather bureau said.‐cold‐weather‐continue         

Report: Spies use smartphone apps to track people (Associated Press) | Updated January 28, 2014 - 7:02am

FILE - These file product images made available by Google show the new Google Maps iPhone app. The world's most popular online mapping system returned late Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, with the release of the Google Maps iPhone app. The release comes nearly three months after Apple Inc. replaced Google Maps as the device's built-in navigation system and inserted its own map software into the latest version of its mobile operating system. (AP Photo/Google, File) LONDON — Documents leaked by former NSA contactor Edward Snowden suggest that spy agencies have a powerful ally in Angry Birds and a host of other apps installed on smartphones across the globe. The documents, published yesterday by The New York Times, the Guardian, and ProPublica, suggest that the mapping, gaming, and social networking apps which are a common feature of the world's estimated 1 billion smartphones can feed America's National Security Agency and Britain's GCHQ with huge amounts of personal data, including location information and details such as political affiliation or sexual orientation. The size and scope of the program aren't publicly known, but the reports suggest that US and British intelligence easily get routine access to data generated by apps such as the Angry Birds game franchise or the Google Maps navigation service. The joint spying program "effectively means that anyone using Google Maps on a smartphone is working in support of a GCHQ system," one 2008 document from the British eavesdropping agency is quoted as saying. Another document — a hand-drawn picture of a smirking fairy conjuring up a tottering pile of papers over a table marked "LEAVE TRAFFIC HERE" — suggests that gathering the data doesn't take much effort. The NSA did not directly comment on the reports but said in a statement yesterday that the communications of those who were not "valid foreign intelligence targets" were not of interest to the spy agency.

"Any implication that NSA's foreign intelligence collection is focused on the smartphone or social media communications of everyday Americans is not true," the statement said. "We collect only those communications that we are authorized by law to collect for valid foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes — regardless of the technical means used by the targets." GCHQ said it did not comment on intelligence matters, but insisted that all of its activity was "authorized, necessary and proportionate." Intelligence agencies' interest in mobile phones and the networks they run on has been documented in several of Snowden's previous disclosures, but the focus on apps shows how everyday, innocuous-looking pieces of software can be turned into instruments of espionage. Angry Birds, an addictive birds-versus-pigs game which has been downloaded more than 1.7 billion times worldwide, was one of the most eye-catching examples. The Times and ProPublica said a 2012 British intelligence report laid out how to extract Angry Bird users' information from phones running the Android operating system. Another document, a 14-page-long NSA slideshow published to the Web, listed a host of other mobile apps, including those made by social networking giant Facebook, photo sharing site Flickr, and the film-oriented Flixster. It wasn't clear precisely what information can be extracted from which apps, but one of the slides gave the example of a user who uploaded a photo using a social media app. Under the words, "Golden Nugget!" it said that the data generated by the app could be examined to determine a phone's settings, where it connected to, which websites it had visited, which documents it had downloaded, and who its users' friends were. One of the documents said that apps could even be mined for information about users' political alignment or sexual orientation. Google Inc. and Rovio Entertainment Ltd., the maker of Angry Birds, did not immediately return messages seeking comment on the reports.‐spies‐use‐smartphone‐apps‐track‐people               

Traders urge tight watch over maker of cheap cigarettes By Jerry E. Esplanada Philippine Daily Inquirer 5:05 am | Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 MANILA, Philippines—The chair of the 800-member Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) on Monday called for a “24/7 close monitoring” of the trading practices of low-cost cigarette manufacturer Mighty Corp. by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and its mother agency, the Department of Finance (DOF). In a phone interview, Jesus Lim Arranza said that would be best not only for the BOC and the DOF but also for Mighty Corp., which operates a cigarette factory in Barangay (village) Tikay, Malolos, Bulacan. “For the government, the move would prevent further revenue leakages while its investigation of Mighty’s business practices is ongoing, and for the cigarette firm, a chance to prove its innocence in the serious allegations it is facing,” Arranza told the Inquirer. At the same time, Arranza lauded the customs bureau for suspending Mighty’s license to operate a bonded warehouse. In a Jan. 16 memorandum, Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla directed Mario Mendoza, district collector at the Port of Manila, to immediately implement the suspension order. The move, he said, was necessary to prevent revenue leakages while the company’s trade practices were under investigation. “The initial report of a DOF task force reveals that Mighty Corp. committed serious violations of tariff and customs laws, rules and regulations, resulting in huge revenue losses to the government,” Sevilla said in a memo. In a statement, Mighty Corp. executive vice president Oscar Barrientos last week said the suspension order did not cover the firm’s regular importation for the domestic market. “Nothing has changed and until such time that we receive the final report of the task force, it will be business as usual,” Barrientos said. “The company will continue to cooperate with the authorities pending the full and final results of the inquiry being undertaken by Task Force Mighty Corp. We will address allegations at the appropriate time as soon as we receive the final report on the findings,” he added.

According to customs sources, the suspension order was expected to seriously disrupt the firm’s business operations, mainly the importation of tobacco leaves and other raw materials used in cigarette manufacturing. The directive would also compel the company to declare every single imported item it would use in the production of cigarettes for domestic consumption and pay the appropriate duties. The operation of a customs bonded warehouse had allowed Mighty Corp. to import duty-free tobacco items, supposedly for re-export to other countries. In an earlier letter to the BOC, Arranza pointed out that “Mighty Corp., which used to have a miniscule portion of the cigarette market, has made a meteoric leap and now has an 18.7-percent share of the market.” “Interestingly, Mighty sells its products to retailers at P16 per pack. Simple arithmetic will show that after paying excise tax of P12 and the 12-percent value-added tax, the company is left with P2.30 to cover direct material cost, factory overhead and operating margins. Two of our members who are from the cigarette industry asserted that it is impossible to manufacture lowpriced cigarettes at that amount, especially for a small-scale manufacturer like Mighty with lower economies of scale,” he said. According to Arranza, some FPI members had “shared data with customs staff showing a possible underpayment of customs duties and taxes, undervaluation of raw materials and the diversion of raw materials imported under warehousing entries but which were actually used for domestic consumption without payment of the required duties and taxes.”

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PH banks open more branches, expand reach BSP cites increase in business activity, particularly in provinces  By Michelle V. Remo  Philippine Daily Inquirer   4:43 am | Tuesday, January 28th, 2014  

The country’s banking sector continued to expand, with industry players opening a total of 192 branches in the third quarter of 2013. The establishment of more bank branches was attributed to the increase in business activities and the robust expansion of the Philippine economy, which was one of the fastest-growing in Asia in the first three quarters of 2013. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported on Monday that 95 new branches of universal and commercial banks, and 97 new branches of thrift and rural banks opened during the period. Asia United Bank opened the most new branches among universal and commercial banks in the third quarter of 2013, with 19. Eastwest Bank and Banco de Oro (BDO) followed with 18 and 10, respectively. According to the central bank, the banking sector’s expansion in the third quarter was expected to be sustained as there are pending applications to open more branches with the BSP. Eastwest and AUB also topped the list of banks with pending applications for more branches, at 54 and 26, respectively. The BSP is encouraging the opening of more branches to improve Filipinos’ access to crucial financial services. Banks are specifically urged to open more branches outside the National Capital Region to finance job-generating investments in the rural areas. Bank lending, meanwhile, is seen to continue growing this year to finance investments, such as in infrastructure through the government’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program. The Philippines last year became one of the fastest-growing economies, growing by an average of 7.4 percent in the first three quarters. Economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2013 is expected to slow down given the adverse impact of Super Typhoon Yolanda, but officials said the full-year growth figure would still be within the official target of 6 to 7 percent.‐banks‐open‐more‐branches‐expand‐reach#ixzz2rejNTQSU   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook   

Banks tighten real estate loan norms By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 28, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Local banks implemented stricter credit standards on commercial real estate loans in the fourth quarter last year, according to a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas survey. “The net tightening of overall credit standards for commercial real estate loans was attributed by respondent banks to stricter oversight of banks’ real estate exposure along with banks’ reduced tolerance for risk,” the central bank said. “In particular, respondent banks reported wider loan margins, reduced credit line sizes, stricter collateral requirements and loan covenants, increased use of interest rate floors, and lower loanto-value ratios for commercial real estate loans,” the BSP continued. The survey also indicated demand for commercial real estate loans was unchanged during the quarter. “A number of banks, however, indicated increased demand for the said type of loan on the back of more attractive financing terms of banks and lower interest rates,” the BSP said. For this quarter, the central bank said banks expect to maintain their lending standards for commercial real estate loans. But the number of banks seeing stricter credit standards outnumber those expecting an easing, the BSP said. “In terms of demand for this type of loan, although most of the respondent banks anticipate generally steady loan demand, a number of banks are of the view that demand for commercial real estate loans will continue to increase in the next quarter,” the central bank said. Banks were surveyed on commercial real estate loans as part of the BSP’s quarterly Senior Bank Loan Officers’ Survey to assess credit standards, demand conditions for loans, and potential risks in the asset markets.

Latest data from the BSP showed local banks’ exposure to the property sector grew by seven percent to P900.1 billion in end-June last year from the first quarter. The level, however, is deemed manageable by the central bank. The BSP last year implemented stricter regulations in monitoring banks’ exposure to the real estate industry to ensure no asset bubbles arise given the robust growth of the country’s property market. The new reporting system now covers loans to developers of socialized and low-cost housing, and to individuals, and credit supported by non-risk collaterals or Home Guarantee Corp. guarantee. Banks were also required to report investments in debt and equity securities that finance real estate activities.‐tighten‐real‐estate‐loan‐norms                                 

When mining reforms fail BIZLINKS By Rey Butch Gamboa (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 28, 2014 - 12:00am 1 0 googleplus0 2 Balancing the interest of the country vis-à-vis its needs has never been trickier, especially when dealing with natural resources such as water, steam, minerals and metals, and oil and natural gas. These days, when environmental pressures are thrown into the equation, government regulations that deal with water use for power generation, for example, have to contend with the need of farmers to irrigate land as well as that of urban cities for drinking and other water uses. If water use, which did not have the above considerations in the last decades, has become a tougher cookie to regulate nowadays, much more has happened to more finite extraction resources like metals, minerals and fossil fuels, which are quickly in danger of being over-mined. Toss in recent concerns about global warming, ozone layer destruction, environment degradation, and indigenous people’s territorial claims, and faint-hearted governments would rather opt to call a halt to any exploitation of natural resources for fear of contending with powerful natural resource and human rights activists. It is not surprising thus that the Philippines is one among a handful of nations that has been in the prospective mining investors’ “don’t-even-think-of-putting-one-centavo” list. Consequently, while the Philippine government has remained sensitive to concerns of stakeholders in mining issues, it has not been able to raise much-needed revenues from mining contracts. It did not help that in 2012, the current administration issued an executive order declaring a moratorium on any new mining agreements, and handing any decision on any amendment to the current revenue sharing to the legislative. Short and longer term outlook In the meantime, in the business cycle of metal and mineral mining, there is again pessimism in commodity prices for the short-term, with prices for silver, copper, diamonds, coal, zinc, nickel, potash, and platinum this year expected to be lower. In the longer term, though, prices are expected to stabilize or even moderately increase, except for gold though, which is still expected to increase in value. Against this outlook, the earlier pressure on government to entice investors to exploit our mineral reserves has eased somewhat, and the timetable to revise the current revenue sharing has slipped a bit, although it is still in the executive’s list of urgent matters for Congress to decide on.

The recently-created Mining Industry Coordinating Council whose mandate is to implement industry reforms, as well as dialogue with stakeholders and review all existing mining-related laws and rules, has come up with a draft bill that is scheduled to be filed in Congress this year. Higher revenue expectations The draft is expected to increase government revenues from mining by over 10 times, if we are to believe what Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje has been telling media. The executive side of government’s proposal wants to simplify the current revenue sharing scheme by imposing a single excise tax rate of 10 percent on gross sales of mineral products instead of the existing two-percent excise tax. A five-percent royalty tax on minerals in the newly declared state reservations will also be imposed, plus a share of the royalty for indigenous peoples affected by the mining contract, and higher business taxes for the local governments concerned, although there will a cap on property taxes. The DENR is also proposing to apply the tax on the gross value of each mining company’s output based on the monthly trading averages for gold, copper and other precious metals at the London Metals Exchange. There will also be a provision for windfall taxation so that the government is able to share in revenues when commodity prices are high. A policy of instability and uncertainty The draft sounds like manna from heaven except that these changes are coming at a time when foreign mining companies are finding business conditions in investing in the Philippines less bearable. The reputation of the Philippines in the global mining stage is that of a state that cannot enforce its laws and regulations despite the long period of deliberation and consultations. In other words, our mining policy framework is a picture of instability and uncertainty, definitely an investor’s nightmare. To top it all, doing business in the Philippines entails having to deal with a lot of red tape, corruption, and even major threats to security especially in areas where there is the presence of dissident leftist or extremist religious groups. With such an adverse business climate, the MICC should best review its spreadsheets, and bring projections of economic benefits to a more realistic level. The government may be happy thinking of potential earnings, except that there would be no one who would want to invest and generate the revenues.

Striking a balance The all-important concern, therefore, is just how a happy balance can be achieved. The good news is that it can happen. For one, many developed economies like Finland and Sweden are seen as top mining investment destinations despite their tough environmental protection laws. Clearly, investment opportunities in the industry and environmental protection can go hand in hand. The trick is to clearly spell out what the rules are, and to stick to them come hell or high water. Conditions critical to mining investors The three important conditions that international mining investors spelled out are a competitive taxation regime, a sound legal system that will uphold the law, and a relatively low uncertainty involving land claims. The world’s appetite for metals and minerals is still substantial, and potential investors are still aplenty. But given the huge capital investment needed on the ground to put a mining venture on stream, mining firms demand a higher level of security. Therefore, the bigger challenge for our government is to ensure that it can protect new investments. With the Philippines’ track record, don’t be surprised if there are not even a few who will sign up. Facebook and Twitter We are actively using two social networking websites to reach out more often and even interact with and engage our readers, friends and colleagues in the various areas of interest that I tackle in my column. Please like us at and follow us at Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e-mail me at For a compilation of previous articles, visit‐mining‐reforms‐fail           

Peso hits P45.45, lowest in four years by Fil C. Sionil  January 28, 2014  

Manila, Philippines – The peso depreciated to P45.45, its lowest in nearly four years, as investors scampered away from emerging markets like the Philippines and moved to safer havens on what domestic and international financial players described as a reaction to the ongoing financial upheaval in Argentina.


A worker counts U.S. dollar bills and Philippine pesos inside a money changer in Manila. The peso depreciated to P45.45 yesterday, the lowest it’s been in nearly four years, mainly because of the financial upheaval in another emerging market, Argentina. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco For the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their beneficiaries, this means that their hardearned dollars will go relatively a long way as their greens have more value in pesos. The last time the peso hit this low was on Aug. 25, 2010, at a rate of P45.37 to a dollar. The drop in the value of the peso was in tandem with the decline in the Philippine Stock Exchange Index (PSEi) with sellers dominating buyers. PSEi slid by 109.89 points to 6051.61 mark, with total of volume of 2.699 billion shares traded and valued at P6.803 billion. As the spot currency market opened its first trading day of the week, the peso was quoted lower by eight centavos at P45.38 from Friday’s closing rate of P45.30 and sustained its drop to hit an intra-day low of P45.45, largely due to the pull out of investors from emerging markets like the Philippines. It hit an intraday high of P45.32 to a dollar. “The investors are pulling out from emerging markets like the Philippines, including Malaysia largely because of the financial upheaval in Argentina,” a foreign banker said, virtually admitting that the “herd mentality” still exists for emerging markets wherein the Philippines, Malaysia and Argentina have been classified. Market players noted that the monetary authorities sporadically supported the peso from further depreciating, coming in at a rate of P45.30, selling at a “very minimal amount.”

At the end of the trading day, the peso recovered and closed slightly higher at P45.37 with the weighted average rate settling at P45.404 to a dollar, a 10.3 centavos depreciation from Friday’s P45.301 with $721.90 million changing hands. The foreign bank source predicted a “range trading” for the week with the peso moving further down to touch P45.50. “It really will be dictated by the sentiments in Argentina,” the source said. Reuters, on the other hand, reported that fears of a sharper slowdown in China and expectations that the US Federal Reserve will continue to trim its bond-buying program later this week have sparked a broad bout of risk aversion and a flight to safer assets such as the yen, thus affecting the peso and the Malaysian ringgit, the Indonesian rupiah, and other Asian currencies.


Give seniors discounts on power, water — Atienza by Ben Rosario  January 27, 2014  

Manila, Philippines – Discounts for power and water consumption should be included among privileges extended by law to senior citizens. Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza made this assertion as he filed House Bill 3169 that will 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 extended the same benefits for water and electricity services. He 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, goods and services should only be considered on promotional discount if this has the approval of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).‐seniors‐discounts‐on‐power‐water‐atienza/           

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/       

FDA probes unlabeled soap bars by Jonathan M. Hicap  January 27, 2014  

Manila, Philippines – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating the source of unlabeled soap bars offered for use in a golf club in Cavite. “The FDA requires all cosmetic products, including soap bars, to comply with the notification and labeling requirements as per ASEAN Cosmetic Directives, which was adopted by the FDA,” according to an advisory issued the FDA. It said the ACD notification is a requirement to determine if there are any banned or unapproved ingredients that are used by manufacturers in preparing soap bars, among other toiletries and cosmetics. “There are thousands of ingredients already deemed hazardous and banned for use in cosmetic products, because their irritating, toxic, allergenic, or carcinogenic properties,” it said. Under Republic Act 9711, or the FDA Act of 2009, the sale, importation, exportation, offering for sale, distribution, promotion, or advertisement of adulterated, unregistered or misbranded health product is prohibited.‐probes‐unlabeled‐soap‐bars/                       

Guimaras’ marine life threatened anew by Tara Yap  January 27, 2014  

Iloilo City, Iloilo — It could very well be déjà vu, but the oil spill from last week’s sinking of cargo vessel M/V Sportivo in Iloilo Strait is now threatening mangroves and marine life in the island province of Guimaras. Engr. Raymund Moderes, executive assistant to Guimaras Governor Samuel Gumarin, said there are reports that the oil spill is starting to kill fish and damage mangroves here. Moderes stressed that people here in Guimaras are taking extra precautionary measure to make sure that what happened to them and the island in 2006 does not happen again. To recall, on August 11, 2006, oil tanker M/T Solar 1 sank off the coast of Guimaras and Negros Islands causing what is considered as the worst oil spill in the country. Oil tanker M/T Solar 1, with over 2,000,000 liters of bunker fuel on board, sank in a violent storm some 21 kilometers off Guimaras’ Nueva Valencia’s southern coast, causing some 500,000 liters of oil to spill into the water flowing up to Guimaras and Iloilo straits. The oil spill adversely affected marine sanctuaries and mangrove reserves in three of Guimaras’ five towns and reached Iloilo and Negros Occidental shores. The oil spill occurred in Guimaras strait connecting the Visayan and Sulu seas, one of the richest fishing grounds supplying Philippine seafood demand. Oil tanker M/T Solar 1 spilled more than 2 million liters of bunker fuel into Guimaras Strait after it sank due to stormy weather off the southern coast of Nueva Valencia town last August 11, 2006.Regarding the more current incident, the M/V Sportivo in January 19 sank in the Iloilo Strait, located between Iloilo City Guimaras when it collided with another cargo vessel, M/V Jehan-5. A few days after the incident, reports were issued that oil sheen and bunker fuel from the ill-fated cargo vessel have reached several coastal barangays in Guimaras towns, Jordan and Buenavista.To address the situation, Moderes said that inter-agency Task Force Sportivo was immediately formed to minimize the negative effect of the sunken vessel, which had approximately 12,000 liters of bunker fuel on board when it sank. Commodore Athelo Ybañez, commander of Philippine Coast Guard (PCG-Western Visayas), emphasized that all precautionary measures including installation of improvised spill booms are necessary to contain the spillage.Ybañez said that regardless of the amount of the bunker fuel, oil spillage threatens marine life as well as the livelihood of the people.‐marine‐life‐threatened‐anew/ 

Amend fisheries code, capitol urged by Mars W. Mosqueda Jr.  January 27, 2014  

Daanbantayan, Cebu — A group of commercial fishing operators in Cebu is asking the provincial government to amend the existing Cebu Provincial Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Code for being biased against commercial fishing. Patrick Topalla, officer of the Bisayas Alliance of Fisherfolks and Operators for Reforms (BAFOR), described a particular provision in the ordinance as “anti-commercial fishing,” that is, the provision which prohibits commercial fishing operations within 10.1 to 11 kilometers from the shoreline. Republic Act 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, however, does not make the prohibition in the area absolute. The local government units (LGUs)were given the discretion to issue permits for small and medium commercial fishing vessels to operate within said portion of municipal waters. Governor Hilario Davide III, who met with Topalla’s group at the Cebu Provincial Capitol, urged the concerned commercial fishers to put their objections into writing so that these could be taken up by the Provincial Board. Davide however cautioned the fishermen against violating the existing ordinance even as he stressed that he is open to negotiate the amendment of the said ordinance. One particular sore point, as pointed out by the commercial fishing operators is that under Cebu Provincial Ordinance 2012-05, the pertinent fine imposed on the spot is computed based on the paraphernalia. Thus, if boxes as fish containers are used, the fine would be P5,000 multiplied by number of boxes.‐fisheries‐code‐capitol‐urged/               

Cecid flies attack Pangasinan mangoes by Liezle Basa Inigo  January 28, 2014 (updated)  

Villasis, Pangasinan — Up to 40 percent of the 460-hectare mango industry in this town have been damaged by an attack of cecid flies, locally known as “kurikong,” “buti,” or “armalite.” Agriculturists said the infestation has already spread to plantations in 21 towns of the province.


MANGO PESTS — Agriculturist 1 Roberto Padilla of the Municipal High Value Crops Development Coordinator in Villasis, Pangasinan shows ‘cecid flies’ trapped in a bottle yesterday. The fruit flies, locally known as ‘kurikong,’ have damaged mango plantations in the province. (Zaldy C. Comanda) Agriculturist 1 Roberto Padilla, Municipal High Value Crops Development Program coordinator, said the kurikong started appearing in the crops three years ago. The infestation is now a common problem for mango growers with the cecid fly joining two other fruit pests – the fruit fly and the capsid bug – Padilla said. To stop the insects, Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), in coordination with the municipal agriculture office, placed fruit fly attractants or catchers in every mango tree. “We are planning to collect these insects, study them and figure out how to stop them,” said Padilla.A cecid fly resembles a mosquito and commonly lays eggs on young mango leaves, leading to infection of the leaves and mango fruit which lowers the crop’s quality and market price. It is also known to attack mango plantations in other parts of the country and called the “Gloriagloria” or “Nora-nora” in the Visayas and Mindanao, respectively.‐flies‐attack‐pangasinan‐mangoes/ 

Gov’t allocates the biggest share of 2014 budget to education by Chino Leyco  January 27, 2014  

As role of education in economic development remains crucial, the national government gave the Department of Education (DepEd) the biggest budget among all state agencies to address deficiencies in country’s educational requirement. Budget and Management Secretary Florencio B. Abad said that education sector has P309.43 billion budget for this year, which includes about P44.6 billion appropriation for the construction, repair and rehabilitation of school buildings nationwide. “A considerable portion of the 2014 budget will help ensure the continued improvement of our public education system. Last year, we were successful in narrowing down most of our educational requirement gaps, and we’re even more determined now to address the remaining deficiencies completely,” Abad said. “The education initiatives are also complemented by our efforts to ensure that children are able to enroll and, even more important, remain in school until they graduate. These are some very necessary investments in the country’s human capital that the 2014 budget wholly supports,” he added. Abad noted, for example, that through the expanded Conditional Cash Transfer program (CCT) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), a total of 4.3 million student beneficiaries will be sufficiently covered to allow them to graduate from high school. Among other education targets for the year include the procurement of additional textbooks and workbooks to attain the ideal 1:1 student per textbook ratio. In support of the K-12 Program, an appropriation of P1.7 billion has likewise been set aside for the procurement of over 42 million learning modules and teaching guides. Abad also announced that various programs and projects designed to enhance students’ skills and capabilities will be implemented this year. This includes the school-based management installation support (P1 billion), the Alternative Delivery Mode Project (e-IMPACT) in the DepEd’s regular budget, the Abot-Alam Program (P1.97 billion), and the Basic Education Madrasah Program (P535 million), among several others. Financial assistance to in-need students will also be continued this year through various scholarship programs.

Furthermore, the budget chief also mentioned the creation of around 34,700 new teaching and non-teaching positions with an allocated budget of P8.56 billion, which will help bring the teacher-to-pupil ratio to an ideal 1:45. A stand-by appropriation of P655 million for Quick Response Funds has likewise been allotted specifically for the repair, rehabilitation, renovation and/or replacement of school buildings and essential teaching aids and materials that may be destroyed by natural calamities. “We remain mindful of the potential challenges that may hamper our progress this year, especially with respect to providing quality education to Filipino students. The 2014 National Budget considers these possible setbacks — such as typhoons and calamities — so that emergencies don’t endanger our broader goal of establishing a robust public education system,” Abad added.‐allocates‐the‐biggest‐share‐of‐2014‐budget‐to‐education/                                   

HOUSE BLOC VOWS RICE, OTHER PROBES Published : Tuesday, January 28, 2014 00:00 Written by : Jester Manalastas

THE House Independent Minority bloc led by Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez vowed to initiate congressional inquiries into several major issues that hound the country and affect the Filipino people. In a statement, Romualdez underscored the need to look into the issues such as overpriced rice imports, the planned fare hike on the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT), the high cost of electricity as well as the alleged collusion in the power industry, the increase in the premium payments of Social Security System (SSS) and PhilHealth, smuggling and the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showing high trust rating of the President in addressing the needs of the people of Eastern Visayas in the wake of typhoon Yolanda. “We assure our people that we in the Bloc will always be on guard against any and all issues that may adversely affect our welfare and daily lives,� Romualdez said. With regard to the overpriced rice imports, the independent minority bloc wants to call Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to a question hour to shed light on the reported P825.5 million overpriced rice imports from Vietnam last year.

The group has received information that the 205,700 metric tons (MT) of Vietnamese rice imported in April last year was overpriced by $34 per MT. The cost of another 500,000 MT imported in November was supposedly jacked up by $23.69 per MT. “Making the transactions more suspicious is, according to the Bureau of Customs director for collection services, the importations arrived more than 30 days before the importation documents were submitted by the National Food Authority (NFA) to the Bureau of Customs. The NFA also issued import permits to private individuals and entities,” Romualdez said. On the all-time high power rate hike being sought by Manila Electric Company (Meralco), Romualdez said the group is asking for a separate probe by the House into issue along with the possible collusion among power producers, Meralco and some corrupt government officials. “In addition, we will probe the contractual obligations, ways and practices of the Malampaya consortium controlled by Shell and Chevron which supplies natural gas to three critical power plants,” Romualdez said. As for the increase in SSS and PhilHealth contributions, Romualdez is asking for a comprehensive audit of the funds of both agencies by the Commission on Audit, and by private sector experts if possible, and for the financial records of the two agencies to find out where they spend monies and why they must raise members’ contributions. “The people have no assurance that the increase in contributions will not be used for more perks and bonuses of officials and employees of government owned or controlled corporations, which the Commission on Audit has disallowed,” he added. On the planned massive increase in the LRT and MRT fare, Romualdez said the administration should explain why there is a need to increase the fare since the government subsidizes the fare. Romualdez stressed that during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo there was no instance that the fare was raised, or was even planned to be raised, let alone to as high as the amount desired by the Aquino Administration. On smuggling, the solon will initiate an all-out probe into the alarming and worsening extent of this criminal enterprise under the current government.

As exposed by the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) based on the difference between the International Monetary Fund’s estimates of world exports to the Philippines and the Bureau of Customs’ records of all imports into the country, smuggling reached $16.48 billion (P741.6 billion) from July to December in 2010, $19.76 billion(P889.2 billion) in 2011 and $22.48 billion (P1001.6 trillion) from January to July in 2012. Lastly, the group wanted to determine what was the basis of the SWS in saying that Aquino’s approval rating was 73 percent during the conduct of rescue and rehabilitation operations in Leyte and other areas badly hit by typhoon Yolanda. “We want an investigation into this not just to simply find out the accuracy but more importantly, to determine if the survey, and the SWS, are part of a cover-up to hide form the people the government’s incompetence and possible irregularities in rehabilitation efforts for ‘Yolanda’ survivors,” Romualdez said. He stressed reactions by both the survivors and some of his colleagues who had visited the disaster stricken areas totally contradict the survey’s result. Just last Saturday, some 15,000 survivors from Leyte and Samar held a protest rally in Tacloban City to belie the SWS’ claim of a 73 percent rating for President Aquino. Tacloban City Councilor Eden Chua-Penida declared in media that the government’s “rehabilitation program is nowhere to be seen” in Tacloban and in the other affected areas.‐house‐bloc‐vows‐rice‐other‐ probe              

Name names, Lacson urged Published : Tuesday, January 28, 2014 00:00 SENATOR Ramon Revilla Jr., yesterday urged rehabilitation czar former Sen. Panfilo Lacson to identify the 10 politicians who allegedly got kickbacks from the construction of substandard bunkhouses in Tacloban City which was devastated by super typhoon Yolanda last November. He said that it is better for Lacson to identify of the 10 politicians who allegedly pocketed 30 to 35 percent commissions from the construction of the temporary shelter that could have caused the apparent overpricing of the substandard bunkhouses. “Dapat na pangalanan na niya (Lacson) ang mga involved. Hindi na ito ang panahon para itago pa ang pangalan nila at hayaan ang ganitong klase ng pandaraya. Kumbaga, biktima na (ng kalamidad), bibiktimahin pa,” Revilla said. Lacson earlier revealed he has in his possession the names of the politicians involved in the anomaly. He said the concerned elected officials had “collected kickbacks” from contractors that failed to follow the specifications set by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the construction of the bunkhouses. However, the former National Police chief did not reveal the names of the politicians but admitted that some of them were from the administration while others were from the opposition. Sen.Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., chairman of the Senate Public Works Committee, has already sought Lacson’s help in the panel’s inquiry into the reported “anomalous construction” of the bunkhouses. He recently filed Senate Resolution No. 439 seeking an inquiry into the scandal aimed at instituting corrective measures to ensure the safety and security of those displaced by typhoon Yolanda. “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,” he said. Marcos has invited Lacson to the hearing on January 29, to shed light on the controversy. Lacson earlier bared that the construction of bunkhouses is

under investigation amid reports the bunkhouses built were substandard. “I believe Secretary Lacson could provide the committee with invaluable information that would help us shed light on the alleged anomaly surrounding the construction of the bunkhouses for Yolanda survivors,” he said. Bernadette E. Tamayo‐stories/66098‐name‐names‐lacson‐urged                                        

Are LGUs to blame for deadly diseases? Published : Tuesday, January 28, 2014 00:00

As cases of measles rose to epidemic proportions early this month, some people blamed solely the Department of Health for failure to stop the alarming spread of the highly-contagious disease. Yet little did they know that they were barking up the wrong tree. Contrary to common knowledge that DoH was still primarily responsible for disease prevention, it is local government units that are now supposed to be in the forefront of public health care. This is due to devolution of the delivery of health services from DoH to LGUs as mandated by the Local Government Code whereby LGUs took over the responsibility, since 1992, of providing public health programs and services, including operation and maintenance of provincial and municipal hospitals, rural health units, and barangay health centers. Since then, DoH functions have been limited to setting policy guidelines, providing technical assistance on health to LGUs, and mounting public information campaigns on health issues, but retaining control over specialized and tertiary hospitals while exercising regulatory and supervisory functions over LGUs and private healthcare providers. With decentralization of health services in effect for more than two decades now, people would think our public healthcare system is running smoothly, especially with various reintegration schemes to make devolution work, like creating Inter-Local Health Zones for more coordination and collaboration. But all still doesn’t seem well. A published report about two weeks ago said Health Sec. Enrique Ona intends to ask Congress to amend the Local Government Code to revert to DoH the direct supervision of provincial and municipal health officers. Why? Because of local politics. “It commonly is a very political issue because

the provincial health officer gets his salary from the governor and can be changed by the governor every time there is a new governor for that matter. There is no so-called permanency in their job, and that kind of make things difficult,” Ona explained. He also lamented that some local executives may not even prioritize health services. And Ona’s assertions find support in a research paper authored by Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go of the Center for Development Management of the Asian Institute of Management, Marian Theresia Valera, and Mary Kris Visperas. The paper titled A Framework to Promote Good Governance in Healthcare and released in July, 2013 gives an “overview of the corruption and ethical dilemmas in the Philippine healthcare system” and shows how devolution has become a tool for politics. “Instances exist where purchase requests for medical supplies have been put on hold if the municipal health officer was not on good terms with the mayor… Cases have also been documented where the hiring and training of health personnel are not based on required skill or need but on nepotism and political considerations,” the paper said. Yet amid the downside of devolution, its supporters believe the decentralization of devolved services has helped people identify what kind and how much healthcare services they want to get and what programs are attuned to community needs. Devolution has brought about more community participation. Local executives need to pursue creative and innovative ways for them to be successful economic managers and be able to generate and utilize funds prudently to meet obligations. With devolution, the revenue-raising power of LGUs to find their own funds was expanded to empower them with greater local fiscal autonomy instead of merely relying on their internal revenue allotment to maintain devolved hospitals and the quality of health services. It’s crucial for LGUs to rise to the various challenges in the delivery of devolved health services, or else millions of poor and underprivileged Filipinos would suffer greatly from the inefficiency of local government executives.‐are‐lgus‐to‐blame‐for‐deadly‐diseases    

What is so secret about the latest FAA audit? Published : Tuesday, January 28, 2014 00:00

BEFORE proceeding, here’s warm greeting, albeit belated, to erstwhile media colleague in the Senate beat and now press assistant secretary, Rey Marfil, on his birthday last Friday. Had it not been for fellow NPC director and my “kumpare,” Boying Abasola, who informed me of the occasion while we are sipping beer on Friday night, I would not have known about it. Aber, kasamang Rey, birthday boy ka pala, wala ka man lang “paramdam.” Mag-FB ka na kasi brod, hehehe! Also, here’s another round of greetings to fellow “Q” and compadre, Junjun Burgos, on his 44th birthday last Sunday. The occasion turned into a “minireunion” among our batch. Salamat sa beer, pagkain at pulutan, pare! *** In a story filed by PS star colleague Lawrence Agcaoili last December 3, 2013, he described PAL top honcho, Ramon Ang, as “patiently waiting” for the lifting of the ‘Category 2’ (unsafe) status of the Philippines from the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). For as soon as this is lifted, Mr. Ang said PAL would immediately expand its operations in the US mainland and in Europe as well. No doubt, despite Mr. Ang’s reservations as to the competence and integrity of the present aviation (CAAP) officials appointed by Pres. Noynoy, his air of

optimism mostly derives from the brag, err, statement of CAAP deputy director general, John Andrews, a month previously, that the FAA would “finally” upgrade PH aviation status to “safe” or ‘Category 1.’ Heck, Andrews was such a braggart, oops, so confident that he said he would “resign” should the upgrade did not come to pass by the end of 2013. “... If that (upgrade) does not happen the buck stops at me. “If this does not happen before the end of the year, I will no longer be here. That is my commitment,” that’s the full quote, Pres Noy, from Andrews by GMA-7 in its news last November 20, 2013 and which was also released worldwide by Yahoo! News. Well guess what, dear readers and all aviation stakeholders out there: The FAA just finished its audit last Friday, January 24, and yet, we haven’t seen or heard any fireworks lighting up the CAAP skyline in Pasay City, have we? Aber, hanggang isinusulat ko nga itong kolum na ito, kasamang Itchie Cabayan, wala pang press release ang CAAP at DOTC sa napakahalagang pag-uusap na ito, hindi ba? Suspiciously too, I got it from CAAP insiders that this time around, the FAA audit was a strictly “off-limit” affair with only Andrews and his minions, ayy, fellow (controversial) officials present -- ex-Capt. Rodante Joya, ex-Capt. Beda Badiola and an unnamed “secretary” -- to hear another round of bad news delivered by the FAA audit team headed by Gregory Michael. At bagaman hindi pa “pumipiyok” ang iba pa nating mga “bubuwit” at “kuliglig” d’yan sa CAAP ang lahat ay nagkakaisa sa kanilang pagtataka kung bakit “strictly for adults only,” ehek, “strictly for top officials only,” ang nangyaring exit briefing ng FAA. Bakit nga ba, DDG Andrews? May dapat ka bang ikahiya, itago o ikatakot kung bakit “kayo-kayo” lang ang “present” at kahit daw sa DOTC wala kang pinadalo? So the question is: Did we or did we not pass the FAA audit? Siguro...

semplang na naman, Cebu Pac president, Lance Gokongwei, kasi “babalik” (na naman) sa Marso ang FAA team! And given the itch, err, the propensity, of DDG Andrews (whom Mr. Lance G knows personally), to be always seen in the best light possible by the public, one wonders why he is not trumpeting the result of the FAA audit last week? Or is there really nothing good to disclose after all? But to be fair to Andrews and his tribesmen, err, group, I was told that there are now “only” 14 “deficiencies” that the CAAP, under Andrews and DG William Hotchkiss tandem, have FAILED to address and correct going two years into their term now. Eherm! Is this 14 “deficiencies” the reason why the FAA is coming back, for the nth time, this March? Was this not again another demonstration of failure on the part of Pres. Noynoy’s “most trusted” appointees over there at the CAAP? Stated differently, what’s all the fuss then as regards DDG Andrews’ past blusters, err, pronouncements that he would resign if we fail to pass the FAA audit last year? And what is PNoy going to do about it? Wala lang ba? “Nganga” na naman ba ang buong aviation industry sa pangyayaring ito? I believe so, dear readers. For if Pres. Noy is piqued by being called ‘Pork Barrel King,’ ‘Hari ng Sablay’ and lately, as ‘Boy Balato’ and ‘Boy Arbor,’ the unkindest description allegedly being said behind his back by his appointees and subaltern is that the president is also ‘Boy Uto.’ Napakadali raw “utuin” o “bolahin” ng ating mahal na Pangulo, Elizabeth Aspiras ng Baguio City, mantakin mo ‘yan? No wonder, a lot of crooks, incompetents and other questionable characters are clinging to their government posts under this administration because all of them are being coddled and “babied” by the appointing authority.

Resulta? Baluktot ang tuwid na daan ni PNoy at pulos pagkukunwari na lang ang paglaban sa katiwalian at kabulukan sa pamamahala, hay buhay! In other words, if aviation stakeholders are wondering when will real and meaningful changes happen at the CAAP, gnash your teeth some more, poor souls. Hindi na siguro mangyayari ‘yan sa ilalim ng admnistrasyong ito, mga kabayan. Besides, we have yet to hear if Andrews is already packing his bags, right? Sabagay nga, mga kabayan, sa administrasyong ito, “pakapalan” na lang hanggang sa 2016!‐what‐is‐so‐secret‐about‐the‐latest‐faa‐ audit  


Nang bugbugin ni Totoy Bato si Totoy Bibo! Published : Tuesday, January 28, 2014 00:00

TALK of the town ngayon ang ginawang panggugulpi kay dancercomedian/tv host-actor Vhong Navarro. Artista kasi ang sangkot kaya kahit saan ka magpunta ngayon, karamihan sa topic sa bawat umpukan ng magkakaibigan, magkakasama sa trabaho o kamag-anakan ay pinag-uusapan kung bakit ba talaga ginulpi si Mr. Suave na sumikat din sa kanyang pagiging Totoy Bibo. Kung pagbabasehan ang mga impormasyong naglalabasan sa net, ang suspect na si Cedric Lee ay dati nang nasangkot sa diumano’y pambubugbog kay David Bunevacz na boyfriend ng actress na si Jessica Rodriguez noong 2008. Maimpluwensiya at mayaman din si Lee dahil bilang isang entrepreneur, siya ang chairman at president ng Waste Management Inc., at board chairman/company president din ng Izumo Contractors Inc.; chairman at president ng Phil-Asia Dredging and Reclamation Corporation; managing director at major shareholder ng Colossal Mining Corporation at iba pang kompanya. May nagsasabi pa nga na ito raw ang ama ng anak ng aktres na si Vina Morales. Pero hindi naman daw nito dyowa si Deniece Millet Cornejo, ang 22-taong gulang na naging dahilan kung bakit naakusahan ng rape si Totoy Bibo. Sabi ng ating source, ang tunay na boyfriend daw ni Deniece ay ‘barkada’ lamang ni Cedric at ito rin ang nagbabayad sa mamahaling condo ng dalaga.

Maraming lapses sa kuwento ng bawat panig. Pero mas may malaking lapses dito ang ilang imbestigador mula sa Southern Police District (SPD) kung saan nila dinala ang ‘sugatang’ si Navarro para ipa-blotter na diumano’y pinagtangkaan nitong gahasain si Deniece. Unang problema ng SPD investigators dito ay bakit hinayaan nilang makauwi si Totoy Bibo kahit alam nilang puro pasa na ang mukha nito dahil sa bugbog. Ang unang dapat ginawa ng mga pulis dito ay pina-medical si Navarro -- suspect o biktima man ito o hindi. Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) kasi iyan sa ating kapulisan na malaking bagay din para sa kanila dahil may mga insidente na ilang ‘complaint’ o ‘suspect’ ang ibinibintang na tinorture sila ng pulis. Siguro, maimpluwensiya talaga si Totoy Bato, aka Cedric Lee. Kasi, nang sabihin nitong ‘citizens arrest’ ang ginawa kay Navarro, hindi man lang hinanap ng mga kumag na pulis-SPD ang ilang security personnel na naka-duty sa Bonifacio Global Condominium kung saan nangyari ang diumano’y rape at pambubugbog kay Navarro. Basic ‘rules’ sa police investigation ito na hindi ginawa ng ating kapulisan. Hindi ba nitong nakalipas na linggo lamang ay mahigit 90 police officials ang sinibak sa PNP dahil sa maling paghawak o pandudoktor sa ating police blotter? Anong nangyari at wala yatang natutunang leksiyon dito ang ilang pulis ni SPD director Chief Supt. Jose Irwin Villacorte, partikular na ang District Investigation and Intelligence Division (DIID). Puntahan naman natin ang isyu ng tangkang panghahalay? Sino ba namang ‘rapist’ ang gagawa ng kahalayan na hindi man lang isinara ang pinto ng unit ni Deniece? Sino ring rapist ang manggagahasa pa kung nakainuman na niya ito nang one-on-one ilang araw matapos ang pinakahuling insidente nang pagkikita nina Navarro at Deniece? Kahit saang anggulo tingnan, kung hindi man ‘set-up’ ang nangyari kay Deniece, malamang ay na-George Bocobo o nabuko ang naudlot sanang pagpupulot-gata nina Deniece at Mr. Suave. Kasi, walang matinong babae ang magpapainom sa isang lalaki sa loob mismo ng ‘condo unit’ nito. Nangyari ang unang ‘inuman’ ng dalawa noong Enero 18 at makalipas ang apat na araw

(Enero 22) ay inimbitahan uli raw ni Deniece si Navarro na pinangakuan pa nga raw na ipagluluto ng dalaga ang dating dyowa ni Bianca Lapuz. Sabi ni Navarro sa TV interview, nag-text pa raw si Deniece sa kanya at sinabihan siyang ‘Bad Ka’ matapos ang kanilang unang inuman. Isang ‘naughty text’ ito kung titingnan ni Navarro mula sa magandang dalaga kasi bagaman hindi raw sila nag-sex, naging ‘intimate’ ang kanilang inuman. Tinawag na rin daw siya nitong ‘Sweetie,’ ayon pa sa Kapamilya Star. Kaya ganun na lang ang pagkagulat ng aktor nang maka-face to face niya si Lee na umano’y may hawak na baril, kasama ang ilang kalalakihan. Isa pang tanong ngayon, mag-dyowa ba sina Deniece at Lee kaya ganun na lang ang galit nito kay Navarro dahil ‘napindeho’ siya ni Totoy Bibo? May anggulo na hiningan din daw nina Lee si Navarro ng P200,000 hanggang P2 million para hindi na raw magdemanda si Deniece ng ‘attempted rape.’ Pero kung titingnan ang ‘profile’ ni Lee, parang imposibleng paniwalaan na nang-e-extort si Totoy Bato kasi mayaman ito, base na rin sa ‘tweet’ niya kahapon. Para sa akin, hindi rin dahilan ang pagiging mayaman para itanggi na hindi niya kinikikilan si Navarro kasi ilang senador nga natin ay ubod din ng yaman ay nasasangkot pa sa ‘pork barrel scam,’ siya pa kaya? Sa ganang akin, ang unang gawin ng gobyerno ngayon ay ipalabas agad ang ‘watchlist order’ laban kay Lee at Deniece. Kasi, baka bukas makalawa, bigla na lang silang makalabas ng bansa. Hindi rin dapat matapos ito sa basta ‘amicable settlement’ dahil nakakatakot ang ganitong asal ni Lee sakali mang totoo ang ‘bersiyon’ ni Navarro. Dapat nga, kung talagang may ‘balls’ si Totoy Bibo, aminin na lang nito na ‘may nangyari’ sa kanila ni Deniece at ito ang dahilan kung bakit siya binugbog. Kasi, ginalaw niya ang babaeng may nagmamay-ari ng iba ay ‘nangangati’ pa. Sa mga profile picture ni Deniece, talagang maganda ang dalaga. Bukod sa pagiging model, siya iyong nakikita natin sa malalaking billboard ng Mossimo apparel at marami pang iba. Ang Vhong-Deniece-Cedric story ay ibang bersiyon ng kuwento noong September 2009 kung saan ay ‘binugbog’ at umano’y ‘dinurog pa ang ari’ ng dyowa ni Rachel ‘Che’ Tiongco. Si Che kasi, kahit sabihin nating binabahay na siya ni Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis ‘Chavit’ Singson ay

nakuha pang makipagrelasyon sa isang lalaki. Kaya ang resulta, binigyan siya ng aral ni Manong Chavit! Isang aral na hangga’t nabubuhay pa siya ay hinding-hindi niya makakalimutan. Sabagay, isang anak din daw ni Manong Chavit ang kaibigan ni Lee, gayundin ang isang alyas Tyron Ong na bukod sa nasangkot sa Euro General scandal ay sangkot din sa bigong ambush sa isang NBI official kamakailan.‐nang‐bugbugin‐ni‐totoy‐bato‐si‐totoy‐ bibo                                

Total income ng mga senador at gov’t officials iladlad sa websites Ni Dindo Matining

Dapat umanong ilagay ng mga mambabatas, partikular ang mga senador at iba pang opisyal ng gobyerno, ang kabuuang kita ng mga ito sa website ng mga ahensiya at institusyong kanilang kinabibilangan. Ito ang sinabi kahapon ni Senadora Miriam Defensor-Santiago kung saan maghahain umano ito ng “amendment” sa Freedom of Information (FOI) bill para gawing mandatory ang paglalathala ng kita ng mga opisyales ng gobyerno sa mga websites ng pamahalaan. Kasama umano sa dapat i-publish ang basic salary, allowances at iba pang mga personal income ng mga opisyal ng gobyerno pati na ang mga senador. “The basic monthly salary of a senator is P90,000. But in all, the total monthly income of a senator, allowed by law, could reach as much as P1.5 million monthly,” sabi ni Santiago sa kanyang interpelasyon kay Senadora Grace Poe, ang sponsor ng FOI bill. Welcome naman kay Poe ang panukalang amendment na ito ni Santiago. “In particular, I want the Senate to stop the practice of giving MOOE on a monthly basis,” sabi ni Santiago, patungkol Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) na ibinibigay sa mga senador kada buwan. Ayon pa kay Santiago, dapat ding buwagin ang MOOE dahil ito ang pinagmumulan ng karagdagang kita ng bawat senador. “Let us list down all the senators’ sources of income, including their MOOE, chairmanship of certain committees, or even just by becoming a member of oversight committees, or of the Commission on Appointments,” sabi pa ni Santiago.   http://www.abante‐  

DOTC pinagpapaliwanag sa taas pasahe sa LRT, MRT Ni Boyet Jadulco magpaliwanag sa Kamara ang mga opisyal ng Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) kung bakit pinaplano nilang itaas ang pasahe sa Metro Rail Transit (MRT) at Light Rail Transit (LRT).  Kailangang Ayon kay Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, masyado siyang nalalabuan kung bakit kinakailangan pang taasan ang pasahe sa MRT at LRT gayung kaya namang saluhin ng gobyerno ang subsidy nito. “While it is true that the government subsidizes the MRT and LRT fare of the commuters, what we cannot understand is why must it be increased, and at such a big amount,” pag-uusisa ni Romualdez. Aniya, hindi napapanahon ang pagtaas ng pasahe sa MRT at LRT lalo na ngayong naghihirap ang maraming mamamayan na kaya lang sumasakay sa tren ay para makatipid sa gastos sa pamasahe. “During the Arroyo administration we can’t recall any instance when the fare was raised, or was even planned to be raised, to as high as the amount desired by the Aquino administration,” patutsada pa ng kongresista. Matatandaan na sinuspendi muna ng DOTC ang implementasyon ng fare hike sa MRT at LRT habang nakabinbin pa ang usapin ng P4.15 per kWh rate hike ng Manila Electric Company (Meralco) sa Supreme Court.


Constitutionality ng FOI bill makukuwstyon sa SC Ni Dindo Matining May posibilidad umanong makuwestyon sa Supreme Court (SC) ang ‘constitutionality’ ng Freedom of Information (FOI) bill. Ito ang sinabi ni Senadora Miriam Defensor-Santiago dahil sa dalawang provision ng Bill of Rights na maaring magkontrahan sa isa’t isa: Ang privacy of communication at ang right to information. Paliwanag ni Santiago, sa ilalim ng Bill of Rights, ang probisyon ng communications at correndence ay ‘inviolable’ o hindi malalabag habang ang ‘right of the people to information’ ay dapat kilalalanin ng estado. “We have to be able to finish the antagonism between these two provisions lest critics questions the constitutionality of FOI law in the Supreme Court,” sabi ni Santiago. Sa kanyang interpelasyon kahapon, sinabi pa ng senadora na dapat ikonsidera sa FOI bill ang ‘deliberative process privilege’ para mapigil ang pagbubunyag ng mga desisyon at ma-preserve ang kalidad ng decision-making ng ilang ahensya ng gobyerno. “It should include the exceptions consisting of those providad by the National Internal Revenue Code, AIDS Prevention and Control Act and Inter-Country Adoption Act,” sabi ni Santiago. Sa naturang panukala, dapat din umanong magkaroon ng ‘distinction’ ang ‘mandatory duty to disclose’ at ang ‘duty to permit access to information’.


Ban sa riding-in-tandem now na! Editorial

Maging senyales kaya ang suporta ng Palasyo ng Malaca単ang sa lumalawak na panawagan para tuluyan nang ipagbawal ang riding-in-tandem na kadalasang sangkot sa malalagim na krimeng nangyayari sa bansa? Unang inilutang ng City of Manila ang pagbabawal sa magkaangkas sa isang motorsiklo subalit may mga sektor ng lipunan na nais gawing national law ito upang hindi lang sa Maynila ipatupad kundi maging sa buong bansa. Ngayong nagbigay na ng posisyon ang Malaca単ang sa pag-ban sa riding-in-tandem, hangad nating seryosohin na ang panukala sa pamamagitan ng paghahain at pag-apruba ng batas na magpapatupad ng total ban sa pag-angkas sa motorsiklo. Maraming buhay na ang nalagas at patuloy na nalalagas bunsod ng panganib na hatid ng riding-in-tandem kaya wala kaming nakikitang dahilan para ipaglaban ang pagmomotorsiklo ng may kaangkas. Maliban kasi sa pagkakasangkot sa karumal-dumal na krimen ng riding-in-tandem katulad ng panghoholdap ay pumapatay pa ang mga ito. Dahil sa ganitong sistema ng mga riding-in-tadem, wala kaming nakikitang dahilan para patuloy na payagan ang pamamayagpag ng mga ito sa kalye. Higit sa lahat, kung ang pag-ban sa riding-in-tandem ang magiging solusyon para tuluyan nang masawata ang pamamayagpag ng krimen sa bansa ay wala kaming nakikitang

dahilan para hindi ibuhos ang suporta dito, lalo na’t masisiguro natin ang ating kaligtasan dahil sa pagkawala ng kinatatakutang magkaangkas sa motorsiklo na kilalang-kilala sa mga panahong ito na bahagi ng modus operandi ng masasamang loob para makapaghasik ng lagim. ]

Binay retains ‘very good’ grade in 2013 • •

Written by Tribune Tuesday, 28 January 2014 00:00

Vice President Jejomar Binay ended 2013 with a “very good” rating in the fourth quarter survey of Social Weather Stations (SWS). The survey showed that 75 percent of the respondents were satisfied with the Vice President’s performance, while 13 percent were dissatisfied. SWS said Binay scored +62 net satisfaction rating in its Dec. 11-16, 2013 survey. In the same survey, Senate President Franklin Drilon got a +25 rating (52 percent satisfied, 26 percent dissatisfied), Speaker Feliciano Belmonte scored +16 (41 percent satisfied, 25 percent dissatisfied) while Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno received a score of +16 (40 percent satisfied, 25 percent dissatisfied). This is the seventh “very good” rating for the Vice President since 2010, with SWS also noting that he scored seven “excellent” ratings since assuming office. “I thank everyone for appreciating the service I have rendered as Vice President, as presidential adviser on overseas Filipino Workers’ concerns and as head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council,” Binay, in a statement, yesterday said. “Your confidence and faith in what I do inspires me more to give my best for our people,”

he added. SWS classifies net satisfaction ratings as follows: +70 and above, “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.”

Revilla dares Lacson to ‘unmask’ rehab crooks • •

Written by Tribune Tuesday, 28 January 2014 00:00

Put up or shut up, Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla posed as a challenge to rehabilitation czar, former Sen. Panfilo Lacson, when Revilla sought yesterday the unmasking of the alleged 10 politicians who supposedly pocketed 30 percent to 35 percent in commissions in the construction of substandard bunkhouses for survivors of super typhoon Yolanda. Lacson, the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery, dismissed earlier allegations on the supposed overpricing by some contractors on the construction of temporary shelters for Yolanda victims he admitted that local politics remains among the biggest challenges in carrying out his task. “He should name those involved. This is not the time to conceal their identity and allow them to continue with their deceitful acts. It is deplorable that the typhoons victims are again being victimized in this anomaly,” the senator said in a statement. Revilla, chairman of the public services committee, took note of Lacson’s previous claims

that he has in his possession the names of the politicians who had received kickbacks from the said projects in Tacloban City and other areas ravaged by Yolanda in Leyte and Samar. Revilla said that it is better for Lacson to reveal to the public the identity of the 10 politicians who allegedly pocketed commissions that could have caused prices of the substandard bunkhouses. The rehabilitation czar then said that the 10 politicians collected kickbacks from contractors who failed to follow the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) specifications for the construction of the structures of bunkhouses. He did not reveal the names of the politicians but admitted that some of the involved individuals were from the administration while others were from the opposition. Lacson added the government would heavily rely on the private sector in the massive reconstruction program in Tacloban City and Leyte province, and sought a specific law to create an office for rehabilitation. Lacson said there could be a new Tacloban City which had been studied by experts and considered “seriously” by the national government. “We are urging private sponsors, private sector, especially the development sponsors, to put up the structures already,” Lacson said. The 171 cities and municipalities were divided into 24 areas of intervention and development aid that would be taken over for adoption by the development sponsors. “The biggest challenge that we face is coordination,” Lacso said. Lacson said that unlike the challenge that Indonesian Pak Kuntoro, had “when he rebuilt Banda Aceh, the island, he was coordinating from a position of near absolute authority, because that is what he asked his President before he accepted the job of rebuilding Banda Aceh, and he was given the full authority. He was acting like a military governor in the area or he had the authority to hire and fire”. “In my case, I was given a memorandum order, (that is) purely coordination. But we have

the support especially from the line agencies,” Lacson said. Lacson, however, noted the challenges are not insurmountable since these were “mostly in local politics”, which he found as shallow. But Lacson said the program he is undertaking would have a natural deadline by June 30, 2016 when a new administration is expected to take over.When they take over, they will set new policies which is a “practical point of view”, Lacson said. He said it was the reason they had decided to engage the private sector because “they will outlive this administration and even the next administration”. “After all, they have corporate social responsibility, more or less, permanent. So they will just carry on. So even beyond 2017, they will remain and continue rebuilding efforts,” Lacson said. Lacson said since the country is facing of at least 20 typhoons every year, aside from other natural calamities like earthquake making it necessary to enact a law that would create an office of rehabilitation which is separate from the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC). On the issue of bunkhouses, Lacson said, “when we talk of bunkhouses, we’re talking of P838,000 per bunkhouse”. “We’re talking of less than a million. But once the rehabilitation is in full swing, we’re talking of hundreds of billions,” Lacson said. He said there was no overpricing on the bunkhouses, but there were under specifications. He said there is no more question on the bunkhouses because the officer in charge of the International Organization for Migration that takes care of Eastern Visayas is Cleto Abad, brother of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, and the contractors have began the repairs of the bunkhouses. “Now, regarding possible criminal charges (against contractors), again we’re hampered by a provision in (Republic Act) 9184, the Procurement Law which provides for 60 or 90 days period for the contractor to repair,” Lacson said.

On land problems, Lacson said the Department of Agrarian Reform has already identified, along with the National Housing Authority of about 50 hectares of land intended for the relocation sites. He said there were documentary requirements the government needed to complete to start construction in the sites. “That we will fast track so we can identify the areas and to coordinate with the local government units (LGUs) to have the relocation sites,” Lacson said. Lacson said “that is what we see as bottleneck that can cause delay”. “We have our sponsor to build the house, but we there is no land where the houses will be built. This is another foreseen bottleneck,” Lacson said. Lacson said “from a long-term point of view, we really need to accelerate the rebuilding of Tacloban City because it is where economic activities radiate”. He said there would be a new face of Tacloban City. “Tacloban has decided to move northward. For lack of a better word, kill the old city,” Lacson said. For the meantime, the city government of Tacloban has identified only some 69 hectares as relocation site for government complex. “So they are still looking for other possible sites where they can build of a new city,” Lacson said. Of the international pledges, there was only an actual of $600 million that was delivered to the Philippines and not the reported P20 billion. Lacson said, through the private sector, “we are actually coordinating closely with them kung to give priority on Tacloban or if there is no more plan to rebuild Tacloban, let’s look for another place hub for business activity like Palo could be a good”. By Angie M. Rosales and Paul Atienza

House minority to probe top 6 irregularities under Noy watch • •

Written by Gerry Baldo Tuesday, 28 January 2014 00:00

The minority bloc in the Lower House is set to probe the alleged overpricing in rice importations from Vietnam last year among six other irregularities under the Aquino administration. According Abakada Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz said that they will prioritize the reported P825.4 million overpricing in the country’s rice imports from Vietnam in 2013. He said that they have received information that 205,700 metric tons (MT) of Vietnamese rice that were imported in April last year were overpriced by $34 per MT. The cost of another 500,000 MT imported in November was supposedly jacked up by $23.69 per MT. De La Cruz explained that multiplying $34 by 205,700 MT is equal to $6,993,800, or P 304,230,300, at exchange rate then of P43.50 to $1. For the November importation, $23.69 multiplied by 500,000 metric tons is equal to $11,845,000. or P 521,169, 700. De L Cruz noted that the transactions arrived more than 30 days before the importation documents were submitted by the National Food Authority (NFA) to the Bureau of Customs. “Who are they? How much duties and fees did they pay? How much were their allocations for the years 2012 and 2013?” De La Cruz asked. He said that his group, the independent bloc in the minority, will have a lot of questions for Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, who has supervision over the NFA, either in a

House probe or during our Question Hour. Also in the line up of the bloc is the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey claiming that President Aquino’s approval rating in areas devastated by super typhoon “Yolanda” was an unusual high of 73 percent (with a net satisfaction rating of +54). “We want an investigation into this not just to simply find out the accuracy but more importantly, to determine if the survey, and the SWS, are part of a cover-up to hide form the people the government’s incompetence and possible irregularities in rehabilitation efforts for ‘Yolanda’ survivors,” the lawmaker said. The lawmaker said that reactions by both the survivors and some of our colleagues who had visited the disaster stricken areas totally contradict the survey’s result. He said that last Saturday, some 15,000 survivors from Leyte and Samar held a protest rally in Tacloban City to belie the SWS’ claim of a 73 percent rating for Aquino. Tacloban City Councilor Eden Chua-Peneda declared in media that the government’s “rehabilitation program is nowhere to be seen” in Tacloban and in the other affected areas, he said. The British charity Oxfam described the current conditions of the survivors as “a disaster on top of an already catastrophic disaster.” Even some of our colleagues said that they saw a totally different picture from what the SWS survey is trying to project, De la Cruz noted. “We want to question the SWS on what is their basis for the survey result .Ii they don’t have any convincing proof, they had better have a solid, justifiable reason for trying to fool the people.” The minority bloc also said that they want to conduct their own probe into the power rate increase of Meralco in addition to an investigation into the contractual obligations, ways and practices of the Malampaya consortium controlled by Shell and Chevron which supplies natural gas to three critical power plants. For the increase in SSS and PhilHealth contributions, we will ask for a comprehensive

audit of the funds of both agencies by the Commission on Audit, and by private sector experts if possible, and for their financial records on where they spend they spend monies and why must they raise contributions. The people have no assurance that the increase in contributions will not be used for more perks and bonuses of officials and employees of government owned or controlled corporations, which the Commission on Audit has disallowed.

Kapunan backtracks accusation vs SC justice • •

Written by PNA Tuesday, 28 January 2014 00:00

Lawyer Lorna Kapunan, former counsel of pork barrel scam principal accused Janet LimNapoles, has backtracked in divulging the alleged corrupt associate In a 10-page compliance filed by Kapunan yesterday before the SC en banc, she defended herself to evade the danger of being cited for contempt by the SC after her interview in the program Umagang Kay Ganda” with Anthony Taberna. Kapunan refused to disclose the name of the alleged corrupt SC Justice and instead argued that she uttered the statements as pure “hearsay.” She said that no personal accusations were made against the SC but a general knowledge she received without any legal basis at all. “This honorable court will please note from the replies above-quoted that no personal accusations were made and where information on corruption and bribe money was based on hearsay and/or general knowledge within the legal circles,” Kapunan told the SC en banc. Kapunan said that “in the interest of candor and transparency, gave the appropriate caveats – “known to receive,” “I am told,” “Hindi ko po alam (I don’t know).” She added that she has no intention to malign the Judiciary with her hearsay statements. “In summary, undersigned counsel respectfully submits that the remarks made in the subject interview were not intended to insult, malign, embarrass the court or bring it into disrepute,” Kapunan said. Kapunan was in hot water after earning the ire of the SC justices after learning the

interview in national television. In November last year, the SC issued a resolution where Kapunan was given a period of 10 days within which to explain her answers to the interview she made with television broadcaster Taberna of ABS-CBN.

Nancy wants stronger laws vs abusive embassy officials • •

Written by Tribune Monday, 27 January 2014 00:00

Sen. Nancy Binay wanted more teeth to existing laws that would strengthen the powers of the government in dealing with unscrupulous public officials who prey on distressed migrant workers. Article 2 of the Revised Penal Code states that sanctions will be “enforced not only within the Philippine Archipelago, including its atmosphere, its interior waters and maritime zone, but also outside its jurisdiction, against those who while being public officers or employees, should commit an offense in the exercise of their functions.” But Binay expressed “serious doubt” whether the Revised Penal Code’s extraterritorial effect can protect migrant workers from erring government officials assigned abroad. In Senate Bill 2068, or “An act enhancing protection for overseas Filipino workers in the custody of government officers/employees, amending for this purpose Republic Act 8042,” the lady senator is seeking a law that will cover those who are stationed outside the Philippines. Case in point was the recent sex-for-flight scandal wherein government officials stationed abroad to serve OFWs themselves where linked to various abuses. “Nakakalungkot na kung sino pa ang mga inatasan ng gobyerno na magtanggol at tumulong sa ating mga kababayan ay siya pang umaabuso sa kanila,” lamented Binay whose proposed legislation seeks to include Section 8-A to RA 8042 otherwise known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995. Under the said provision, officials or employees of the Department of Labor and

Employment, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and other government agencies stationed abroad who commit violations to any of the following laws while in charge of the custody of distressed migrant workers will be criminally prosecuted in the Philippines: Republic Act 7610, or the “Special protection of children against child abuse, exploitation and discrimination act”; Republic Act 9262, or the “Anti-violence against women and children act”; Republic Act 9208, or the “Anti-trafficking in persons act of 2003”; Republic Act 9710, or the “Magna Carta of Women”; Republic Act 7877, or the “Anti-sexual harassment act of 1995”; or Republic Act 8353, of the “Anti-rape law of 1997.” “There is a strong need to protect our overseas Filipino workers from enterprising and vicious government officials out to abuse them at a time when they are most vulnerable,” Binay said.

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

Written by Tribune Monday, 27 January 2014 00:00 •

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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.

Climate change, an arena of struggle • •

Written by Ken Fuller Tuesday, 28 January 2014 00:00

Climate change is an arena of struggle. Corporate interests, and particularly those involved in fossil fuels have, as we saw last week, for some time funded global-warming deniers, either directly or through groups like the Heartland Institute. And if this is beginning to change, it is, as we saw with the example of ExxonMobil, because the material interests of these corporations have changed. On the opposing side is the majority of scientific opinion and, indeed, the interests of humanity. The deniers seek to turn logic on its head by arguing that many climate change scientists are employed in the public sector and thus have an interest in projecting the view that will best secure the continuation of their funding — and, these deniers claim, governments have a vested interest in the view that human activity is responsible for global warming because they wish to reap the rewards from carbon taxes. Such arguments are, if they are genuinely believed by those who advance them (and this is doubtful), deeply cynical, because they assign to scientists a level of self-interest and venality that is more usually associated with private corporations. Realistically, there may well be some scientists who are willing, in return for money, to tailor their research to fit the requirements of their sponsor. But if their scientific objectivity is for sale, where are they most likely to sell it? Aren’t the rewards from the private sector likely to be more attractive than a public sector salary? The struggle extends to the measures proposed to combat global warming. As Herman

Tiu Laurel pointed out in his Nov. 25 column, the banking company Rothschild favors capand-trade over taxation or regulation. But that is due to the nature of its business and the role it sees for itself in such a scheme. Other corporations oppose all such measures and lobby against them (in the USA, this includes funding campaigns to unseat politicians who support the proposals), while yet others are taking the view that, a safe environment being conducive to the stability of the whole capitalist system, taxation and regulation may be desirable. In this arena of struggle, it also appears that nation is against nation (but see below). The UN Climate Change Conference that concluded in Warsaw in late November seemed to illustrate this, as developing countries demanded compensation from the worst polluters for the damage they have sustained. Large developing countries like China and India sought to maintain the previous agreement that only developed countries would be required to take action to reduce emissions. The rich countries, on the other hand, demanded that all nations should make firm commitments in this regard. They were defeated in this, settling instead for a formula whereby all countries will make “contributions” which they will determine themselves. “For the third year in a row,” complained Oxfam director Winnie Byanyima, “the countries have found a new way to say absolutely nothing.” A more accurate way of putting this would be to say that developed and developing countries had arrived at an impasse in this arena of struggle, as a result of which the planet will continue to suffer. It is worth noting, as did the New York Times on Nov. 16 that, due largely to industrial activity in China and India, within the next decade the developing countries will have contributed over half of all historical emissions. If true, this assertion (which should be double-checked) means that there are sometimes no easy answers, and it is this kind of projection that presumably leads people like Herman Tiu Laurel to suspect that the whole global warming debate is at least partly aimed at maintaining the poorer countries in a position of subjection.

But developing-country emissions may constitute yet another “inconvenient truth,” and if it is indeed a truth it should not be disregarded or glossed over. However, it may be a mistake to see this struggle in terms of “nation against nation.” This, after all, is the way that World War I (the centennial of whose carnage is due to be “celebrated” this year) is portrayed, but it was really nothing of the kind. The deeper truth was that the corporate interests in the North European imperialist nations, having expanded globally, were now seeking to redivide the world. Follow the money. In the same way, we should ask to what extent carbon emissions in China, India and other developing countries are actually caused by foreign corporations operating in those countries. In When China Rules the World (2009), Martin Jacques points out that “40 percent of China’s energy goes into producing exports for Western markets: in other words, the West has, in effect, exported part of its own greenhouse emissions to China.” If carried further, such an analysis might throw a completely different light upon the subject and, in so doing, point the need for different tactics in this arena of struggle. Nor should it be assumed that all is bleak on the environmental front in the newlyindustrializing countries, for as Jenny Clegg remarks in China’s Global Strategy (2009), China’s planned investments in renewable energy by 2020 will “make it the biggest investor worldwide in this area.” It has long seemed to me that in this respect the Philippines is missing yet another opportunity, for having failed to follow the old “smokestack” model of industrialization, it would make eminent sense for an activist government to marry up the nation’s best minds with both public and private sources of finance and chart a path to development based on green technology. But that is another arena of struggle.

People of the Philippines — a convenient scapegoat •

Written by Archbishop Oscar V.Cruz •

Tuesday, 28 January 2014 00:00 •

The Poor Pilipino People — this is another reading of “PPP.” And such is not really bad a coincidence. The Filipinos have become even poorer with the advent of the present administration. While it is said by this and that foreign financial entity that the index of the socio-economic standing of the Philippines is heavenly high, the ground reality, however, is that more and more Filipinos live and feel the fact of poverty. The main thesis affirmed and championed by the administration is that Filipinos are poor because they are many in number or in count. In other words, the poverty in the country is simply because of the big number of Filipinos. It is as simple as that. There is no sufficient number of work or employment in the Philippines. Reason: There are too many Filipinos. There are many of them who are homeless. Reason: There are too many Filipinos. There are many crimes — murders, assassinations, violence — in the country. Reason: There are too many Filipinos. Justice, peace, and development are but impossible dreams. Reason: There are too many Filipinos. Consumer goods are costly and becoming even costlier as time goes by. Reason: There are too many Filipinos.

Taxes that are more in kind and in amount are never enough. Reason: There are too many Filipinos. There are not enough schools. Classrooms are crowded. Reason: There are too many Filipinos. The streets are full of people, vehicles are everywhere and accidents are common. Reason: There are too many Filipinos. There are more and more OFWs who leave their families behind in order to make a living. Reason: There are too many Filipinos. Hunger and weakness, sickness and death are all around. Reason: There are too many Filipinos. So it is that Population Control Bill was passed. So it is that contraceptives are presented as a composite big savor. So it is that children are not welcome in the country. So it is that a population count was recently made with the readily expected result that the Filipino people are too many. So it is that more and more pro-population control public officials and private individuals are again tri-media stars. So is it that recently, contraceptive advertisements have again come to fore. So it is that while abortions-in-fact take place, the people charged and paid to prevent and punish abortionist are blind, deaf, and dumb. So it is that the Supreme Court is under enormous pressure from the Executive Department with its contra-population allies, to do away with the TRO on the implementation of the Population Control Bill deliberately misrepresented by the government as “Responsible Parenthood Bill,” although it is formally and clearly against parenthood and responsibility. Woe to all those — public officials, physicians, nurses, and private individuals — who are directly or indirectly responsible even but for a simple abortion. You might get big beautiful medals from the administration here and now. But hereafter and beyond...

Court ruling gives GSIS chance to sell old bank • •

Written by Benjamin B. Pulta Tuesday, 28 January 2014 00:00

A ruling by the Court of Appeals (CA) has allowed the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to pursue the sale of GSIS Family Bank. In a 19-page decision ,the CA’s 10th Division through Associate Justice Magdangal de Leon set aside the writ of injunction issued by the Regional Trial Court of Makati City which ruled in favor of the private stakeholders of the bank, formerly known as Royal Savings Bank (RSB). Associate Justices Stephen Cruz and Eduardo Peralta Jr. concurred. The lower court’s writ of injunction ordered the GSIS to stop the sale or transfer of the assets or properties of GSIS-FB and from bidding out its shares. The CA said GSIS has title over the bank, its shares of stock as well as its assets and not the private respondents. The firm originally owned by Dragon Family in Cavite, was first established as a private bank more than 40 years ago before GSIS took possession of the bank in 1986. GSIS owns 99.54 percent of the bank while its former owners own only 0.46 percent of the bank which has been up for sale since 2006. Former owners led by Renato Dragon were able to secure an injunction to stop the sale from the Makati RTC. The court gave credence to the claim of the petitioners that the respondents have no right over the bank’s assets and shares of stocks that need to be protected due to their failure to present any proof that they have not been paid for the ownership they surrendered in

favor of Combank and eventually GSIS. “It is clear in our mind that based on the allegations in their petition and urgent application for writ of preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order, private respondents failed to present a prima facie legal right regarding the ownership of the bank and its assets,” the CA ruled. The CA explained that there is no issue as to the bank’s original owners who are naturally parties to the numerous agreements between RSB’s initial receiver, Combank, and its successor. However, even as they alleged in the court cases they filed that no monetary consideration was paid to them in exchange for their shares, “these remain to be mere allegations.” “In other words, apart from the bare claim that they have never been paid for the shares of stock, private respondents failed to ostensibly show that these were surrendered without consideration,” the CA ruled. It noted that in the principal arbitration action, the respondents have not prayed for the payment of the shares of stock, nor the annulment of their transfer to to GSIS.

Manila to have its own ‘City of Dreams’ • •

Written by Ed Velasco Tuesday, 28 January 2014 00:00

Melco Crown Resorts Corp. is set to build the first ever Nobu Hotel in Asia right at the middle of casinos at the reclamation area in Roxas Boulevard . The hotel will rival other casinos that are set to inaugurate at the place. No less than majority shareholders Roberto de Niro, a famous Hollywood star; James Packer, one of Australia ’s richest men and Melco Crown co-chairman; and Hollywood producer Meir Teper graced the formal announcement of the hotel’s grand opening by 2016 yesterday at the Marble Room of National Museum. A video on how Nobu Hotel Manila will look like was shown before the three shareholders appeared on the stage only to be spoiled by a chandelier at the middle of the screen, causing many at the crowd, including foreign journalists, to frown while watching the video. The 321-room Nobu Hotel will deliver a thrilling, celebrity inspired and fun luxury experience fused with the utmost quality to visitors to City of Dreams Manila, the moniker given to the hotel. World renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa is one of the men behind the next luxury hotel in Manila . He promised that he will bring to Manila the delicacies he has been cooking for almost four decades now. The hotel promised guests they will enjoy the chef’s uniquely inspired style of fusion artistry, including his world renowned signature dishes such as sushi, black cod with miso and lobster with wasabi pepper sauce. “Being Melco Crown Entertainment’s flagship entertainment resort brand, City of Dreams

is committed to enhancing the Philippines’ tourism diversity by offering unique, internationally acclaimed hospitality experiences as its integrated resort,� said Lawrence Ho, Melco chief executive officer.

PSE to implement broker anonymity • •

Written by Tribune Tuesday, 28 January 2014 00:00

The Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) is set to implement broker anonymity starting next year, March 2015. The move is to align with similar practices in most markets overseas and to reap the benefits of this system. Broker anonymity refers to the practice of not showing the broker identifiers for trading matched at the trading engine. Many markets moved to this regime in order to attract more participants in the market and improve liquidity. It also prevents “herding” mentality as the identity of brokers who post and match orders is withheld which usually translates into tighter spreads. Studies suggest that markets that switched to an anonymous broker environment have shown reduced bid-ask spreads. At present, broker IDs are not displayed pre-trade or when orders are still being queued. But once orders are matched, the broker IDs of the executing brokers become visible. “Trading anonymously is just one of the many best practices that the PSE will be adopting to realize its vision of being a stock exchange with world class standards. And with all the interest that the Philippine market is getting, it is high time that we have guidelines in place to attract more foreign investors and make them comfortable in investing in our market,” said PSE president and CEO Hans Sicat. The PSE shall implement a two-phase transition to broker anonymity to help traders and investors with the adjustment. The first phase which will take effect in March 2014 will limit the visibility of brokers IDs of

matched trades only to brokers and their systems. The second phase will start on March 2015 and will make all broker identifiers anonymous to all market participants. “We hope that our market participants and investors will see the medium to long term advantages of adopting broker anonymity. The transition period is aimed at helping market players adjust to the practice before we move to the full implementation of broker anonymity in 2015,� Sicat added. Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand are among the Asian markets that have adopted broker anonymity in the last 15 years.

Falling EM currencies keep peso at P45 level • •

Written by PNA Tuesday, 28 January 2014 00:00

The Philippine peso was not spared from the depreciation contagion among currencies of emerging markets (EMs) when it finished at 45.37 yesterday. It ended sideways from the 45.31 Friday last week as sell-off continues in EM currencies. A trader said currency market in EMs are now sliding because of improvements in advanced economies. “There’s a general strengthening of the dollar whether or not there will be an announcement of further cuts in the Fed’s stimulus program,” the trader said. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will have its two-day policy meeting from Jan. 28 to 29, 2014 and analysts expect US monetary officials to further taper the Federal Reserve’s stimulus program as more positive economic news come out from the world’s largest economy. The peso opened weaker this week at 45.38 from 45.30 in the previous trading. It traded between 45.45 and 45.32 resulting to an average of 45.40. Volume of trade totalled to $721.9 million, slightly up from the $720.3 million Friday last week. For today, the peso is expected to trade between 44.20 and 44.50. Amid the volatility of the local unit, BdO Capital and Investment Corp. president Eduardo Francisco does not believe that the peso will hit the 46-level this year. “We think the 45-level is already the toppish already. And it should go back to 44 or even

43 by year end,� he said. Exchange rate in the Philippines is market-determined but monetary officials said the central bank joins the market but only to address extreme volatility. “I think they have measures and they will find a way at least to keep it stable at the 45level,� he added.

Metro Manila to host conference on disease control By Rio N. Araja | Jan. 28, 2014 at 12:01am The Metro Manila Development Authority will host the 9th Annual Conference on Countermeasures to Combat Infectious Diseases in Asia by the Asian Network of Major Cities. MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the conference will be held on Feb. 4 to 6, 2014 at Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City. He said the forum would focus on leading diseases in the continent consisting of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, dengue, leptospirosis and pandemic influenza. “We have also invited selected guests with knowledge and experience on the topics to provide additional insights into the trends, policies, challenges, and innovative actions against infectious diseases,” Tolentino said. He said global HIV was shifting from Africa to Asia, with Asia-Pacific region accounting for 3 percent of the estimated three million AIDS cases and 15 percent of the 14 million HIV infections worldwide. “At least 300,000 persons die yearly due to TB,” Tolentino said, citing medical updates. “The region has an estimated 135,000 multi-drug resistant TB cases, most of which can be found in China.” The network was initiated in August 2000 to organize Asia’s key cities in dealing with common issues such as urban planning, sustainability and crisis management. Along with Metro Manila, the members are Bangkok, New Delhi, Hanoi, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo, Tomsk, Ulaanbaatar and Yangon.

Migratory birds monitored to prevent flu By Dexter A. See | Jan. 28, 2014 at 12:01am BONTOC, Mountain Province —Authorities are monitoring migratory birds to prevent the entry of the avian flu virus following outbreaks in mainland China and neighboring Asian countries. Dr. Rodel Bagawi of the Office of the Provincial Veterinary here advised residents to refrain hunting or handling migratory birds even as the country has remained free of the infection over the past several years. “Migratory birds from China and Siberia which are encountering winter usually flock to the country, especially in the province, at this time of the year, thus, local residents must refrain from catching and feasting on the birds to avoid contracting the dreaded bird flu disease which they could pass on to their neighbors thereby complicating the problem,� he said. Veterinarians said infected chickens, ducks and other fowls could transfer the virus to humans. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said forests in the towns of Barlig and Sagada are sanctuaries of the feathered visitors during the cold months in mainland Asia before starting to leave around March or April. The Sangguniang Bayan of Sagada adopted a resolution in 2005 that banned the catching of migratory birds as a health measure. Last week, the Department of Agriculture has disallowed the importation of poultry from China after Beijing reported cases of a highly pathogenic avian influenza virus to the World Health Organization. Dexter A. See

Bishops call for action vs ‘scandalous’ poverty By Vito Barcelo | Jan. 28, 2014 at 12:01am   DESPITE its economic gains, poverty remains “scandalous” in the Philippines, corruption rampant and peace an elusive dream and Filipino Catholics must return to the joy of the Gospel and “bring glad tidings to the poor,” the country’s Catholic bishops said on Monday. This was the pastoral exhortation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines after it concluded its three-day 108th Plenary Assembly at the Pope Pius XII Center in Manila and called for more action against economic and social exclusion, injustice and poverty. The bishops said they “gratefully recognize advances in Philippine society in such areas as basic education, fundamental aspects of the economy, the struggle for elusive peace in Mindanao, the war against corruption, and in all the shameful slime uncovered in connection with the now unconstitutional Priority Development Assistance Fund.” “[However,] we cannot help but admit with Pope Francis that 28 percent of our people still ‘are barely living from day to day’,” read the pastoral exhortation signed by CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas. “The income gap between our rich and poor has not closed: the richest ten percent of our population is earning 10 times more than the poorest 10 percent, with the income of the richest families soaring way beyond the income of the poorest,” the bishops said, emphasizing the poverty rates in Mindanao. These figures do not even reflect the devastation wrought by the standoff in Zamboanga City last September, the earthquake in Bohol in October and Typhoon Yolanda in November. “This is a social scandal for which we cannot just blame government,” the bishops said. “We need to understand our role in it, our personal responsibility for it in our individual lives and shared cultures, and return to Jesus.” Drawing heavily from Pope Francis’ first apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium,” the bishops decried the “social scandal” and urged individuals to shun “modern idolatry” and to return to the joy that comes from the Gospel and sharing the Gospel. “We must abide in this joy in ‘evangelical discernment,’ and not allow ourselves in a confusing world to be led astray by spurious joys,” the exhortation read. The bishop said the economy of exclusion has led people to walk away from the faith and reject

the Christina principle of love for God and neighbor. “As in love we must reject an economy of exclusion; in the experience of Jesus’ love we must reject its driving daemon, the idolatry of money. We have created new idols,” the bishops said. “The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose.” “If in the pursuit of private interest, money has taken over life, it is more demanding than family, more consoling than friends, determines what is right and what is wrong, is able in importance to push God into a corner, if not into oblivion,” the bishops said. The CBCP urged Catholics to act in three areas: parents taking an urgent role in the religious formation of their children, families getting involved in church activities and all laity in taking responsibility for “a just social order, which we in the Philippines have far from achieved.” “This entails not only turning away from the corruption that has so shamefully marred our history, but to embracing positive action for the good of all. This means acquiring the learning, gaining the skills, cultivating the wisdom, and making the hard choices that the common good entails. “It also means acknowledging humbly and respecting the cultural, religious, confessional and ideological diversity that belongs to human and Philippine society today.”

House bill gives PNoy emergency powers for a year By Maricel Cruz | Jan. 28, 2014 at 12:01am A LAWMAKER on Monday filed a bill that would would grant President Benigno Aquino III emergency powers for a year and enable him to build government-owned power plants and suspend the Value-Added Tax on electricity. House Bill 3743, filed by Aquino ally Ben Evardone, would allow the President to negotiate contracts for the construction of government-owned power plants. The bill wold also give Aquino emergency powers for a year to ensure that consumers were protected from skyrocketing power prices and power shortages. Manila Electric Co. has warned of rolling blackouts if the Supreme Court does not lift its temporary restraining order against its proposed higher charges for December. Evardone, who earlier proposed granting emergency powers to President Aquino to address the skyrocketing electricity rates, said the government and National Transmission Corp. or Transco were not allowed to build power plants under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act or EPIRA Law. But Energy Secretary Carlos Petilla has expressed willingness to amend that law to allow the government to own a power facility that it can use as an energy security asset. “The government can run its power plant during times of curtailment or shortages,” Petilla said. Earlier, several House leaders led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said there was no need to grant Aquino emergency powers to deal with the power problem. But Evardone said the government needed to build power plants that would serve as standby power distributors to prevent blackouts and to stop the cost of electricity from spiraling. He cited the Department of Energy’s supply-demand projections for 2013-2020 that did not look good for Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao. “Based on the DOE’s estimates, there is already an energy crisis in Mindanao that will get worse before it gets better, while an energy crisis looms in Luzon and Visayas,” Evardone said. “The recent 7-percent GDP growth was a shout-out for the DOE to double its efforts to provide adequate and affordable electricity.” The bill’s explanatory note says “while everyone recognizes the role of electricity in our daily

lives, the energy market players seem not to care.” Evardone also cited the “suspiciously simultaneous power plant shutdowns” last year that forced Meralco to buy expensive power from the spot market and later claimed it had to increase its charges to consumers as a result of it. He said the bill “seeks to avoid a no-win situation for the Filipino electricity consumers, who have been left to the mercy of energy providers.” The bill would also empower the President to suspend VAT collection “when necessary” to reduce power prices and authorize him to grant additional incentives for the development of renewable energy resources. With Alena Mae S. Flores

Peso skids to 3-year-low amid US policy worries By Julito G. Rada | Jan. 28, 2014 at 12:01am   THE peso weakened on Monday to its lowest level in three years with currency traders saying it was because most Asian economies are worried that monetary policy in the United States would spur investors to avoid the region for the time being. The peso declined by six centavos, closing at 45.37 to a dollar from 45.31 on Friday. It was the peso’s weakest level since it closed at 45.37 on Aug. 31, 2010. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco said the peso’s weakness against the US dollar was mainly due to the uncertainty about the speed and duration of the tapering monetary policy of the US Federal Reserve, but remained average compared to other Asian currencies. Tetangco said the peso weakened against the dollar by 7.53 percent last year while the Singapore dollar depreciated by 3.54 percent; the Thai baht, 6.76 percent; Malaysian ringgit, 6.87 percent; Indian rupee, 11.47 percent; and Indonesian rupiah, by 21.47 percent. The only currencies in Asian region which appreciated were the Korean won (by 1.64 percent) and Chinese yuan (by 2.67 percent). Even the Japanese yen depreciated by 17.56 percent for the year, he added. “[The peso’s depreciation was a] knee-jerk reaction to the Wall Street drop [last week],” Jonathan Ravelas of BDO Capital told Manila Standard in a text message. He was referring to a sell-off in US markets because of expectations that the US Federal Reserve will cut its stimulus measures. “That [stimulus cuts] continues to be a factor. Tomorrow, the strength or weakness of the peso will take its cue from other markets,” del Castillo predicted Astro del Castillo of First Grade Finance Inc. But BDO Capital president Ed Francisco said it was unlikely the peso would hit the 46-to-thedollar level because the BSP is expected to find a way to keep the peso stable at the 45-level. “I think it’s not healthy for us if it depreciates further. It makes import much more expensive but it will help [the business process outsourcing industry],” Francisco said. “The BSP has been recapitalized so they also have tools to help defend the peso, which is also good for us. We think the 45-level is the top already. And it should go back to 44 by yearend, in fact by 43 by yearend. That’s our forecast,” he said. The peso has depreciated 1.5 percent over the past month and reached 45.19 per dollar on Jan. 20.

The currency may climb 1.6 percent to 44.50 by the end of the second quarter, according to the median estimate of 22 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg since mid-December. While currency traders predict weakness in the peso beyond the 45 level will stoke inflation, but money sent home by about 10.5 million Filipino workers overseas rose 6.1 percent in the first 11 months of 2013, exceeding the central bank’s 5 percent target.

PH banks opening more offices By Julito G. Rada | Jan. 28, 2014 at 12:01am The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas approved 143 applications for new banking offices in the third quarter of last year, reflecting the industry’s strength and growth. Data from the central bank’s Supervision and Examination Sector showed universal and commercial banks accounted for 102 branches, while thrift banks and rural and cooperative banks obtained clearances for 21 and 20 units, respectively. EastWest Banking Corp. applied for the most number of branches with 54, followed by Asia United Bank, 26; BDO Unibank, 7; Metrobank, 6; Development Bank of the Philippines, 3; Robinsons Bank, 3; LandBank of the Philippines, 2; and Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., 1. Bangko Sentral Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. earlier said the applications to open new bank offices was an evidence of the strength and vitality of the banking system. Data also showed that there were 192 banking offices opened in the third quarter, or 126 percent higher than 85 units opened in the second quarter. Asia United Bank, the banking unit of the Rebisco Group, opened the most number of branches with 19, followed by EastWest, 18; Security Bank, 11; BDO Unibank, 10; Maybank Philippines, 10; Metrobank, 7; Chinabank, 4; DBP, 4; LandBank, 3; Philippine National Bank, 2; Philippine Bank of Communications, 2; RCBC, 1; and Korea Exchange Bank, 1. The data showed 81 thrift banks and 16 rural and cooperative banks opened during the period. Meanwhile, three universal and commercial banks and one thrift bank reopened in the third quarter last year. The Bangko Sentral also approved 143 applications for new banking offices in the second quarter. Universal and commercial banks accounted for 60 units, while thrift banks and rural and cooperative banks had 46 and 37. The central bank said the Philippine banking system remained resilient amid the lackluster global environment. Total resources of the banking system rose by 6.0 percent and 20.3 percent to P9.5 trillion as of end-September 2013 from the quarter- and year-ago levels of P8.9 trillion and P7.9 trillion, respectively. It said growth in loans, securities and other shares and non-financial assets, backed the higher resources.

‘People Surge’ swells By Ronald Reyes | Jan. 28, 2014 at 12:01am   Series of protests vs Aquino govt set nationwide SURVIVORS of super typhoon Yolanda and their supporters on Monday vowed to stage more protests to express their indignation at the slow government response to their needs, after last Friday’s “People Surge” demonstration gathered more than 12,000 people in Tacloban City.

Their grief turned into anger the following day  when  they joined a march that they now want to replicate  in different areas across the country. RONALD REYES   “This is a People Surge – a swelling of the people demanding justice for Yolanda victims and asserting their right to food, housing, livelihood and social services,” said Sister Edita Eslopor, OSB, chairperson of People Surge, an alliance working for the victims of typhoon Yolanda. “The massive number of people is proof of their intense discontent over Aquino’s criminal negligence and utter incompetence in looking after the welfare of its people. This is just the first of a series of protests that will fill the streets of major cities across the country in indignation of the Aquino administration,” Eslopor added. More than 12,000 protesters turned up last week from Samar and Leyte to express their discontent. Efleda Bautista, a convenor of People Surge, said last week’s turnout belied the Social Weather Stations survey finding that people in the typhoon-devastated region gave President Aquino a “very good” satisfation rating. “Countless lives have been lost in Yolanda’s wake and damage to agriculture, public and private properties cost billions of pesos. The devastation wrought by super typhoon Yolanda may have

been horrific, but more horrendous is the... Aquino government’s ineptness in addressing the wellbeing of its people,” the People Surge alliance said. The alliance also hold Aquino administration responsible for the high death toll in the region because it failed to guarantee the safety and welfare of the victims when super typhoon Yolanda struck the country on Nov. 8, 2013. They also assailed the Aquino government’s “slow delivery of immediate relief to the victims even after two months, the corruption-riddled bunkhouses, and the anti-people no-build policy imposed on residents within the 40-meter stretch from the shore.”

Night of tears, day of anger.  Survivors of Typhoon Yolanda  gathered at a state university in  Tacloban City over the weekend  to remember their dead.   The alliance also criticized the administration’s Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY), popularly known as “Build Back Better,” saying that “the hapless victims, not big businesses, should be at the core of the relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts of the government.” Among the alliance’s immediate demands are the P40,000 monetary aid per family of typhoon victims, the scrapping of the no-build zone policy that effectively evicts families in coastal communities from their homes and livelihood, the immediate reconstruction of vital public infrastructure such as schools and hospitals and the immediate restoration of utilities such as power and water sources. Last week’s rally was the culmination of a two-day vigil-memorial for the typhoon victims at the Eastern Visayas State University in Tacloban City.

In a statement, the alliance also alleged that the police stopped at least 11 jeepneys carrying Yolanda victims and supporters from Western Samar to prevent them from attending the indignation rally. Two opposition lawmakers on Monday urged Yolanda survivors and their supporters to mobilize and conduct a ‘People Surge’ in Manila, near the Palace, to dramatize their strong discontent over the way the Aquino government was attending to their needs. Gabriela party-list Rep. Luz Ilagan and Akabada party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz, in separate interviews with the Manila Standard, said that the disaster victims should keep up the pressure on the government to move more swiftly. Ilagan said it has been almost four months since the killer typhoon hit the country and devastated several areas in Leyte and Samar, and yet the government appeared to be callous and remiss in its duty to respond quickly to the typhoon survivors. “It looks like a People Power or Surge has a better chance of shocking and mobilizing the executive to address the problems. How many calamities do we have to endure to force the national leadership to act?” Ilagan said. Dela Cruz, member of the House independent minority bloc of Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, said the Aquino government needs to be pushed into action. “The Yolanda survivors and their supporters should hold their People Surge in Manila to press for government action on their plight,” Dela Cruz said. “Not only the victims but all people of goodwill who are as concerned as those on the ground about the very, very slow and highly specious manner by which the rehabilitation or reconstruction is being implemented,” he added. Paranaque Rep. Gus Tambunting, an administration lawmaker, warned Malacanang not to wait for a People Surge to take action. Tambunting said the government had all the resources needed to give the much needed help to the Yolanda victims. Former senator Panfilo Lacson, the government’s rehabilitation czar, should be in Yolandastricken areas personally supervising the rehabilitation process, Tambunting added. But opposition congressman Rep. Rodolfo Albano III from Isabela said the protests would do the victims no good, and urged Yolanda survivors to be more patient. “Rome was not built in a day,” he said. Administration ally Rep. Rodel Batocabe of the Ako-Bicol party-list added that holding protests in Manila would waste time and resources. “They should save transportation and accommodation for their needs. All they have to do is to call

a press conference and declare whatever their grievances are,” Batocabe said. Quezon City Rep. Jorge Banal Jr. agreed. “It is their prerogative to press the government and to dramatize their plight, especially if they are convinced that the government has not been doing its part in helping them,” he said. But he warned the victims that there were those who might take advantage of their plight to attack the government. “Perhaps they should just be wary of wolves in sheep’s clothing, those who might be using the victims to embarrass the government and to advance their own political agenda. This is tantamount to victimizing the victims all over again,” Banal said. 1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III said the government should grant the survivors’ petition for P40,000 in financial assistance. Also on Monday, the independent minority bloc said it would launch a full-blown investigation into the SWS survey, saying the result was “truly unimaginable.” The SWS survey showed Aquino’s approval ratings in areas devastated by super typhoon Yolanda hit a high of 73 percent (with a net satisfaction rating of +54), which was higher than his score outside calamity areas at 69 percent (+48). “We want an investigation into this not just simply to find out the accuracy but more importantly, to determine if the survey, and the SWS, are part of a cover-up to hide from the people the government’s incompetence and possible irregularities in rehabilitation efforts for Yolanda survivors, a statement issued by the bloc said. The group said that reactions by both the survivors and some of their colleagues who had visited the disaster-stricken areas totally contradicted the survey’s result. With Maricel V. Cruz

DA, NFA know rice smugglers January 27, 2014 9:46 pm   by Jhoanna Ballaran And Neil Alcober Reporters HEADS must roll at the Department of Agriculture (DA) and National Food Authority (NFA) because officials of these agencies knew of rice smuggling activities but did nothing to stop it, according to Rep. Fernando Hicap of Anakpawis. Hicap said the traders who were issued import permits by the DA were the same people behind rice smuggling.He said Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag has a lot of explaining to do. “Heads must roll at the DA and NFA over rice smuggling. Massive rice smuggling happened right under their noses and they didn’t do anything to stop it,” Hicap said at the start of the House inquiry on rice smuggling by the committee on agriculture. “By the looks of it, rice smuggling happened with government consent,” he added. Hicap said rampant rice smuggling is an effect of the government’s rice importation policy that was intensified by the previous and current administrations. “Imported rice entering the country through legal and illegal means continue to flood the local market,” he said.Last year, the NFA approved an import quota of 163,000 metric tons (MT) and the agency issued import permits to five entities—Starcraft International Trading Corp. (5,000 MT); San Miguel MPC (5,000 MT); Bold Bidder Marketing and General Merchandise (3,560 MT); Inter-Continental Grains International Trading Inc. (2,200 MT) and Kwin Rice Trading (5,000 MT). A total of 29 import permits were issued with a total volume of 7,475.30 MT. Starcraft International Trading Corp., which is number one on NFA’s list of traders with import permits, is linked to alleged rice smuggler David Tan. Trading companies that are waiting for import permits are Pacific Rim Harvester, Aaron’s Trading, Jade Bros. Farm and Livestock, Megdalia de Oro Trading’ Silent Royalty Marketing, Cebu Lite Trading, Malingas Multi-Purpose Cooperative and San Carlos Multi-Purpose Cooperative.There are 10 other companies that submitted pre-qualification documents for rice importation to the NFA. They are Sta. Rosa Farm Products Corp.; St. Hildegard Grains Ent.; Mineshaft Trading; Calsada Ricemill and Palay Buying; D Platinum Traders Ent.; Mambusao Multi-Purpose Cooperative; Richfarm Products; Universal Pacific and Reward for Effort. Hicap urged the DA and NFA to publicly post the entire list of rice traders and so-called farmers organizations and cooperatives that were issued rice import permits. “Alleged smugglers use various ways to smuggle rice into the country and government officials

knew this all along. It is likely that rice smugglers are using the same processes and routes used by the government for rice import transactions,” he said. “Rice smuggling is a bane to the local rice production because smuggled rice released in the local market further pulls down the prices of palay [unhusked rice] produced by local farmers,” he added.Rep. Emil Ong of Northern Samar, on the other hand, urged the House Committee on Agriculture and Food Security to stop the private sector from importing rice and make the NFA the sole importer to prevent smuggling. The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) challenged the House panel and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to scrutinize the list of rice importers granted import permits by the grain agency. “We challenge the NBI to dig deeper into their probe and reveal the people behind the NFAaccredited rice importers including their handlers and protectors in the Aquino government,” Willy Marbella, the group’s deputy secretary general, said in a statement. At the Senate committee on agriculture’s hearing last Wednesday, it was alleged that David Bangayan, who is also known as David Tan, is connected with Starcraft International Trading Corp.At the same hearing, Bold Bidder Marketing was mentioned by a Customs official for acquiring an injunction order from a court in Lemery, Batangas, even before the shipment ordered by the company arrived. Marbella said Starcraft and Bold Bidder Marketing would not have been accredited and secured import permits if they do not have connections in the DA and NFA. “It is highly suspect that all along this hullaballoo on rice smuggling, the Aquino government, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Calayag are both pretending to know nothing on the identity of suspected rice smugglers,” Marbella said. “Rice smugglers and their dummies cannot secure an import permit if they do not have connections to powerful and influential people like Alcala and Calayag. 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 added. 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-racket in the rice industry is happening with the blessings of the President to his favorite Cabinet secretary. The farmers-as-importers program is nothing but a legal cover provided by the NFA to rice cartels and smugglers to corner the big bulk of rice importation,” he said.

Govt halts deployment of workers to Thailand January 27, 2014 9:34 pm   by Robertzon F. Ramirez Reporter THE Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has banned the processing of documents and deployment of newly hired Filipino workers to Thailand because of the escalating civil unrest there. Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the suspension order was issued after consultations with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). She said the POEA board approved a resolution temporarily suspending the processing of documents and the deployment of Filipino workers to Bangkok, Nonthaburi Province, Lad Lum Kaew District (Pathumthani Province); and Bang Phli District (Samutprakan Province). On January 23, the DFA raised the crisis Alert Level 2 to the four affected areas in Thailand after the declaration of a 60-day state of emergency. The POEA explained that under alert level 2, “only processing and deployment of returning OFWs with existing employment contracts shall be allowed.” Baldoz urged Filipino workers in Thailand to be more vigilant and “avoid going out as much as possible, especially if they have nothing important to do outside.” “They should also stay alert and monitor the events in those areas. If they feel that their security and safety is compromised, they can always go to the Philippine Embassy,” she added.

Evardone seeks VAT suspension on power January 27, 2014 9:01 pm   by Llanesca T. Panti The suspension of value-added tax (VAT) on power rates via granting of emergency powers to President Benigno Aquino 3rd is sought by an administration lawmaker in the House of Representatives.Rep. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, Vice Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, made the pitch under his House Bill 3743. Evardone cited the suspiciously simultaneous maintenance of power plants coinciding with the Malampaya natural gas plant shutdown which prompted the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) to seek for a P4.15 per-kilowatt hour power rate increase—the highest power rate increase in Philippine history.Meralco’s P4.15 per-kilowatt hour rate was approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission. Petitions, however, were filed before against the Meralco power rate hike before the Supreme Court. The High Court eventually favored by issuing a Temporary Restraining Order on the Meralco rate increase.Meralco then warned of rotating brownouts with a prolonged TRO, citing that they need to collect the increase because the maintenance shutdowns of the power plants also meant higher generation costs for them. “This bill hopes to neutralize Meralco’s threat and prevent the recurrence of similar ones in the future. It seeks to avoid a no-win situation for the Filipino electricity consumers, who have been left to the mercy of energy providers the moment Epira took effect,” Evardone pointed out. Evardone was referring to Electric Power Industry Act which allows power distribution firms such as Meralco to impose pass-on charges of generation charges to consumers. Besides removing VAT on power rates, Evardone’s measure also gives the President the powers to: enter into a negotiated contract for the immediate construction of new government-owned and controlled power plants, under National Transmission Commission, which will serve as standby and ancillary generators/power plants for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao; enter into a negotiated contract for the repair, rehabilitation, improvement, and maintenance of existing governmentowned or controlled power plants, projects and facilities and further promote the development and utilization of renewable energy sources by granting additional incentives to power generators producing electricity through renewable energy systems.

BFAR urged to collect P157M in rentals January 27, 2014 9:00 pm   by John Constantine G. Cordon UNPAID fishpond leases already reached P157.83 million, prompting auditors to demand the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to settle the immediate payment of the lagging obligations. Audit report on the attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA) showed that as of 2012 yearend, a total of P173.84 million is due to BFAR. This staggering amount was only slashed with P16.01 million as BFAR only had a collection efficiency of 9.21 percent. The unpaid rentals stemmed from the fishpond lease agreement between the DA and fishpond applicants for the use of public lands for fishpond development. As the fishery agency, BFAR issued rules governing the lease and is tasked to collect the rental from the applicants. Based on the list of collected rental fees, the aggregate amount of unpaid lease already reached P173.84 million as of 2012 yearend. However, collections made by BFAR paled against the nine-digit unsettled obligation as the agency only collected P16.01 million. This results in an uncollected rentals amounting to P157.83 million. Six regional field office of BFAR comprise the unpaid rentals, to wit: Central Luzon (P3.36 million), Calabarzon (P34.16 million), Western Visayas (P31.56 million), Eastern Visayas (P6.9 million) and Zamboanga Peninsula (P81.84 million). In its ocular inspection in Zamboanga, the corresponding contracts of lease of operators in default were not cancelled nor terminated. Still BFAR “continued to compute and record the corresponding rentals due from the [lease agreements] which contributed to accumulation of receivable.” Meanwhile in Western Visayas, ten out of 31 fishponds were not operated by the leaseholders. Instead, they were sub-leased to other people. Rentals were also not paid on time due to losses incurred in the operation of fishponds. Most fishponds suffered from low production because of price volatility of milkfish (bangus), mud crabs

(alimango) and prawn. Soil quality also began to be acidic, which hampered the production of food, on top of erratic weather condition and slow growth of fingerlings. “The abandoned, under developed and unutilized fishponds were known to BFAR� because auditors already raised this in 2011, the audit team said. BFAR regional offices submitted a recommendation to its central office for the cancellation of lease agreements of those already determined to be abandoned and unutilized.

Peso further drops to P45.37 January 27, 2014 9:14 pm   by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO REPORTER The Philippine peso further dropped on Monday as it closed at P45.37 to a dollar, shedding 6 centavos from the P45.31 to a dollar level on Friday. For his part, BDO Capital and Investment Corp. President Eduardo Francisco said that the peso may recover to between P44 to a dollar and P43 to a dollar level at the end of the year. On the sidelines of the launching of Oxford Business Group’s “The Report: The Philippines 2014,” the BDO executive explained that contrary to the projections that the peso may touch the P46 to a dollar territory, analysts at the BDO subsidiary believes that the peso may gain its strength before the year ends. “We don’t believe that the peso will hit P46 [to a dollar]. I think the P45 level is already at the top and it should go back to P44, in fact in P43 in the year end,” Francisco said. The peso entered the P45 to a dollar territory on January 15, and this was attributed to investors’ portfolio rebalancing on the anticipation of the impact of United States Federal Reserve’s tapering on its bond-buying program. Meanwhile, the BDO executive is also optimistic that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) will use its measures to find a way to keep the peso to at least P45 to a dollar level, noting that a weak local currency makes imports much more expensive. “[Peso depreciation] will help of course the BPO [business process outsourcing sector] but overall, we’re still import-dependent. If the peso gets too weak it [imports] will become so expensive for us. So I think the government will have to manage it,” he said. “The BSP also has been recapitalized so they also have tools to help defend the peso which will also be good for us,” he added. Francisco also challenged the local industry to be competitive and to improve their product efficiency in order to counter the negative impacts of the weaker peso, like higher electricity prices. On the other hand, the central bank has said that the country’s sound external liquidity position like the balance of payments is a useful buffer to counter external shocks that negatively affect the movement of the peso. “The weakening of the peso was not totally unexpected, just like the weakening of the other

regional currencies. It’s not totally unexpected because there remains uncertainty about the speed and the duration of the Fed taper,” BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. earlier said. “The macro fundamentals of the Philippines remains sound and external liquidity position remains sound. In fact we are projecting another BOP [balance of payments] surplus this year, and that surplus significantly is due to current account surplus,” Tetangco added.

Consultations on Epira amendments set January 27, 2014 9:12 pm  

by MADELAINE B. MIRAFLOR REPORTER Amid public outcry over the power rate hike the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) is pushing, the Department of Energy (DOE) will conduct public consultations to gather inputs from stakeholders on the possible amendments to Republic Act 9136, or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) of 2001. In December, Meralco announced an unprecedented power rate hike and attributed it to the Malampaya natural gas field shutdown, which became controversial after Energy Undersecretary Raul Aguilos said that the increase might have been triggered by collusion among power producers. The case was brought to Senate and the Department of Justice, and the Supreme Court eventually issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the rate hike. On Monday, it was announced that the DOE has set a series of focused group discussions (FGDs) or public consultations to get comments and suggestions regarding Epira. “We are encouraging concerned individuals and groups to attend. Your presence will provide us with the necessary perspectives for the effective implementation of or essential changes in the Epira,” said Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla. He said that the objective of these FGDs is to get the views and recommendations on how to enhance energy supply security at reasonable cost. Following the FGDs, the DOE will also hold the Consultative Dialogue on Ensuring Energy Security at a Reasonable Cost on February 12. Through the FGDs, each sector will present and discuss their respective positions and recommendations on how to achieve the objective of energy security, which may include amendments to the Epira. In Luzon, the FGDs will be held in Mandaluyong on January 29, while in Visayas, FGDs will be held in Cebu on February 6. In Mindanao, the FGDs will be conducted in Davao City on February 6 and 7.

BSP approves new bank branches January 27, 2014 9:09 pm   by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) in a circular said that it has approved the applications of various banking entities for branch expansions, while 32 banking entities have opened new banking offices in the country during the third quarter of 2013. In a circular signed by BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr., the central bank said that it has approved the application of new banking offices of eight universal and commercial banks, five thrift banks and nine rural and cooperative banks. The BSP approved the application of Asia United Bank (AUB) for 26 regular branches; six regular branches and one regular other banking office (OBO) of Banco de Oro (BDO) Unibank Inc.; three regular branches of Development Bank of the Philippines; East West Banking Corp.’s 54 regular branches; two regular branches of the Land Bank of the Philippines; six regular branches of Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co.; one regular branch of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) and three regular branches of Robinsons Bank Corp. Approved banking offices of thrift banks were one regular branch of Century Savings Bank Corp.; six OBO of First Consolidated Bank Inc.; an extension office and one regular branch of RCBC Savings Bank Inc.; one regular branch of Tower Development Bank; and 11 OBO of UCPB Savings Bank. The BSP circular also said that the approved banking offices of rural and cooperative banks were four OBO of Bank of Makati (A Rural Bank) Inc.; one regular branch and an extension office for Bankways Inc.; one regular branch of Common Wealth Rural Bank Inc.; five microbanking office (MBO) of Mt. Carmel Rural Bank Inc.; one regular branch of Rural Bank of Cauayan Inc.; two MBOs of Rural Bank of Gattaran Inc.; two MBOs of Rural Bank of Lebak Inc.; two OBO of Rural Bank of Manolo Fortich Bukidnon Inc; and one regular branch of Rural Bank of Tabuk Inc. Meanwhile, the BSP circular also showed that 14 universal and commercial banks, 10 thrift banks, and eight rural and cooperative banks have opened various banking offices. The circular added that AUB, BDO Unibank Inc., Philippine National Bank have reopened one regular branch each, while City Savings Bank reopened one extension office.

PDIC hikes deposits amount eligible for payout to P50,000 January 27, 2014 9:09 pm   by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO REPORTER State insurer Philippine Deposit Insurance CORP. (PDIC) hiked the amount of valid deposits of closed bank depositors eligible for outright payment to P50,000. In a statement on Monday, PDIC said that its board of directors has approved to increase the amount from P15,000 to P50,000. “Valid deposits eligible for payment without the need to file deposit insurance claims are accounts with balances of P50,000 and below, which have no outstanding obligations with the bank as of date of closure, and have complete and updated addresses in the bank’s records,” it stated. The PDIC explained that historically, 84.5 percent of the total number of accounts in a closed bank have balances of P50,000 and below. “It is therefore expected that under the new policy, only about 15 percent of a closed bank’s depositors will be required to file deposit insurance claims,” it said. PDIC also noted that these are depositors who have account balances greater than P50,000 or have outstanding obligations with the closed bank; and those who do not have complete or updated addresses in the bank’s records as of date of closure. “This increase will therefore make it even more convenient for most of the depositors of closed banks, because there will be no need to go to the site where PDIC conducts its field operations claims settlement to file claims,” it added. Last year, the Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas ordered a total of 18 banks closed and placed under the receivership of PDIC. This was lower than the 24 banks closed in 2012, where 120,000 depositors lost about P19.5 billion. The PDIC attributed the lower number of shuttered banks last year to the current mergers and consolidation in the industry, particularly because of the Strengthening Program for Rural Banks Plus.

Posted on January 27, 2014 11:38:34 PM

Tax bureau tags priorities for 2014 THE BUREAU of Internal Revenue (BIR) has identified 21 priority programs and projects for this  year, focused mostly on further improving tax administration, to boost its revenue collections.  Revenue collections will be used to fund government development programs. ‐‐ Jonathan L.  Cellona  Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) 4‐2014 dated Jan. 24     lists the programs the BIR will implement to attain its P1.456‐ trillion collection target, which is 16.2% higher than the P1.253  trillion it needed to collect last year.The bureau’s take as of November 2013 was P1.12 trillion,  15.54% higher year on year but short of the period’s P1.16‐trillion goal.The year‐to‐date tally,  however, already surpassed the P1.058 trillion the bureau netted for the entire 2012.    BIR Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto‐Henares said in the memorandum that this year’s programs  aimed to produce the revenues needed for the country’s economic development programs.  “Achieving this [collection] target is even more urgent in light of two key considerations: the  recent natural disasters that have struck the country and caused widespread damage in certain  areas; and the Philippines’ good governance commitments relative to the economic development  agenda of the Asia‐Pacific Economic Conference and other international gatherings...,” Ms.  Jacinto‐Henares said.Majority of the projects are geared towards further modernizing the  agency’s operations.One involves an online system for transfer tax transactions, which will be  implemented in conjunction with the electronic certificate authorizing registration (eCAR) project  aimed at reduce revenue losses arising from spurious authorizations.Also listed as a priority was  the electronic tax information system (eTIS) initiative, which seeks to provide the agency with a  tax software package that will replace its current system and upgrade it into a Web‐based one.  Other projects to be implemented include an automated internal revenue allotment computation  system, a web‐based forfeited asset management system, the automated issuance of tax  clearances for bidding purposes and online accreditation systems.  On the administrative side, the bureau said it would also reinvigorate its Run After Tax Evaders  and Oplan Kandado programs. Within the BIR, an integrity management program and a strategic  performance and workflow management system will be established. ‐‐ B. F. V. Roc

Posted on January 27, 2014 09:46:16 PM

Agaton death toll hits 64; damage cost reaches P509.9M TROPICAL DEPRESSION Agaton (international name: Lingling) -- the country’s first storm this year -- has claimed the lives of 64 people and injured 85 others, with 10 persons still missing, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said yesterday. In a statement, the NDRRMC said the deaths were recorded     from Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern  Mindanao, Davao Region, Caraga, and Autonomous Region in    Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).      The NDRRMC said the number of affected population has  breached the one‐million mark at 1.14 million people or 244,344 families from 1,002 barangays in  118 towns and 16 provinces.    Out of this total, 108,991 persons or 22,095 families were displaced and still being served inside  the 235 evacuation centers opened by the Social Welfare department.    A total of nine roads and two bridges are still not passable up to this time, the NDRRMC  statement said.    Cost of damage to properties and farms also rose to P509.9 million. Damaged houses in the  aftermath of the tropical depression, which brought extensive rains and caused massive flooding  and landslides to Mindanao, reached 2,864.    The same NDRRMC report said the government has so far spent P78.3 million for relief goods to  the affected population, especially from the 28 provinces, towns and cities that were placed  under state of calamity.    Meanwhile, the state weather bureau, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical & Astronomical  Services Administration (PAGASA) yesterday said the new weather disturbance it earlier forecast  to enter the Philippine territory on Wednesday has moved away from the country.    Had the Low Pressure Area earlier spotted over the Pacific Ocean entered the Philippine territory 

and intensified into a cyclone, it would have been named Basyang ‐‐ the second tropical storm to  enter the country this year.    Still, PAGASA said the entire country will have partly to cloudy skies with isolated light rains.  “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 5 a.m. yesterday. On  Sunday, Metro Manila had its chilliest morning for the year at 15.8 degrees Celsius, the state  weather bureau said.    Meanwhile, the US government, through the United States Agency for International  Development (USAID), is open for proposals requesting funding and other forms of assistance  from areas adversely affected by Agaton.    During the visit of American Ambassador Philip S. Goldberg to the Davao Region before weekend,  USAID Mission Director Gloria D. Steele told BusinessWorld that the government, including local  government units affected by Agaton, has yet to request for help from the agency.    “We are willing to fund proposals they would submit, but they have yet to submit one,” Ms.  Steele said.    The American government, through USAID, spent about $19 million for Compostela Valley and  Davao Oriental after typhoon Pablo (international name: Bopha) hit the country in 2012, Ms.  Steele said.    The latest weather disturbance, mainly excessive rainfall for almost three weeks, has caused  floods on a wider area of the island including this city’s neighboring provinces of Davao del Norte,  Davao del Sur and Davao Occidental. The worst hit, however, is Caraga just north of Compostela  Valley and Davao Oriental.    Governors Corazon N. Malanyaon and Arturo T. Uy of Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley,  respectively, said they have sought the help of the national government after the latest weather  disturbance hit their areas.    During Mr. Goldberg’s visit, Mr. Uy said he submitted another proposal to the national  government on the extent of damage that his province suffered due to the volume of rainwater  dumped by Agaton for over two weeks. “We suffered substantial losses,” he told reporters, 

although he said the provincial government has yet to finalize the value of damage that the  province incurred.    Ms. Malanyaon, on the other hand, said livelihood activities in her province suffered as a result of  the tropical depression. Aside from infrastructure facilities such as bridges, rice and other farms  were also destroyed as a result of floods. In Mati City, fish kill deprived fishermen of their  livelihood since the heavy downpour started three weeks ago.    Part of the recent development intervention of USAID in Davao Oriental was the conduct of a  study on the vulnerability of farms to weather aberrations and other problems. A study,  conducted by the Growth with Equity in Mindanao, was focused on crop diversification  identifying crops that could also be planted on rows within the coconut farms. ‐‐ Imee Charlee C.  Delavin In Manila with Carmelito Q. Francisco in Davao City;damage-cost-reaches-P509.9M&id=82601

Posted on January 27, 2014 09:45:49 PM

Gov’t consent seen in rice smuggling RICE SMUGGLING happened with government consent as traders linked to the illegal activity are the same people issued with importation permits by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Food Authority (NFA), a lawmaker said on Monday. In a hearing by the House committee on agriculture and food on     the issue of rice smuggling yesterday, Party‐list Rep. Fernando L.  Hicap (Anakpawis) said the government’s policy of rice    importation also intensified illegal activity in the country.    “Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala and NFA Administrator Orlan A. Calayag has a lot of  explaining to do. The same entities alleged by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as rice  smugglers are the same entities that were granted importation permits by the NFA,” Mr. Hicap  said.    “Heads must roll at the DA and NFA over rice smuggling. Massive rice smuggling happened right  under their noses and they didn’t do anything to stop it. By the looks of it, rice smuggling  happened with government consent,” he added.    Mr. Hicap said the rampant rice smuggling in the country is an effect of the government’s rice  importation policy that was intensified by the previous and current administrations. ‐‐ Imee  Charlee C. Delavin‐consent‐ seen‐in‐rice‐smuggling&id=82600             

Posted on January 27, 2014 09:45:22 PM

Davao City to implement new contraceptive plan DAVAO CITY ‐‐ The City Health Office (CHO) is eyeing the poor residents on the list of the  National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction as beneficiaries of Implanon, a new  contraceptive that will prevent pregnancy for up to three years.  “Implanon was recently introduced in the Philippines but it has     been used in the United Kingdom for almost 10 years,” said Dr.  Samuel G. Cruz, assistant city health officer. Up to 95% of  doctors from the CHO have been trained on Implanon last December.  Mr. Cruz said this contraceptive is easily done by injecting a matchstick‐size rod to a woman’s  non‐dominant arm. The rod contains 68 milligrams of the steroidal progestin etonogestrel that  prevents pregnancy.  Implanon prevents pregnancy through the following methods: by preventing the release of an  egg from the ovary, changing the uterus lining and changing the environment of a woman’s cervix  to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg. It is one of several family planning methods now  being given for free by the city government to residents. Others include vasectomy and tubal  ligation.  Jeff Fuentes, officer‐in‐charge for CHO’s population division, however, said the major cause of the  city’s population growth is not high birth rate but migration. He also clarified that the use of  these contraceptive methods is primarily aimed at addressing maternal death. “(The Implanon)  implant has a failure rate of less than 1%, making it a very effective contraceptive,” Mr. Cruz said. However, he said the couple should still use protection for at least a week after the implant is  injected.  He said this is ideal for couples who have not yet decided whether or not they want a permanent  family planning method such as vasectomy. With three to five years as the ideal birth spacing for  couples, the three‐year efficacy period of Implanon is indeed a good method.  Mr. Fuentes said Implanon is safe and has been studied and certified by the World Health  Organization. ‐‐ Carmencita A. Carillo‐City‐to‐implement‐ new‐contraceptive‐plan&id=82599   

Posted on January 27, 2014 09:57:38 PM

Rural dev’t program gives farmers elearning tools DAVAO CITY ‐‐ The Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP) has developed 11 electronic learning  modules as part of its capability‐building tools for farmers and other program stakeholders to improve  their knowledge of the latest agricultural technologies.  “Although developed under MRDP, these e‐learning modules will also      serve as valuable reference for implementers and stakeholders of the  upcoming Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP),” Lealyn A.  Ramos, program director, said, referring to MRDP’s extension program, which will be national in coverage.   PRDP, to run for six years with a P24.54‐billion budget, will also create a tool that will prioritize  investments that can withstand extreme weather problems.    The program will cover 80 provinces. About P20.553 billion of the funding will come from the World Bank  in the form of a loan, and another P287‐million grant will come from the Global Environment Facility.    In a press statement released on Saturday, the MRDP said the modules “contain relevant development  information on various topics from project implementation processes to package of agricultural  technologies on priority commodities.”    It said the modules are a substitute for classroom training as the program wants to make new  development approaches accessible to everyone in a convenient and cost‐efficient way.    Ms. Ramos said that even those who are not beneficiaries of the program can access these modules since  the program will be online. Beneficiaries, however, are provided with compact discs containing these  modules.    Modules completed last month included production and processing of priority agricultural commodities  such as rubber, coconut, coffee, cassava, cacao, and oil palm.    The MRDP said there are also modules that will help local government units in the procurement process,  financial management and monitoring, and evaluation, through the formation of community‐based  monitoring and an evaluation group.    These modules are to help local governments “better implement and improve governance in agricultural  projects.” 

The program also developed modules on geo‐tagging technology and safety and environment safeguard.  The geo‐tagging technology, which the program launched in 2011, was intended to help improve  transparency in implementation. The other module is intended to ensure that “the environment is not  adversely affected by the projects.”    The Mindanao‐focused program is set to be completed at the end of this year and will be replaced by the  similar but nationwide PRDP. Approved in the middle of last year, the national version of the program will  focus on improving agricultural production and marketing and will also take into consideration the impact  of climate change in government programs.    Arnel V. de Mesa, deputy program manager, said that as a national program, it will aim to increase farm  and fishery productivity in 16 regions and 49 provinces through integration of market‐oriented and  climate resiliency agriculture support, technologies, tools and systems. ‐‐ C.Q. Francisco‐dev%E2%80%99t‐ program‐gives‐farmers‐e‐learning‐tools&id=82607                             

2014 01 28 quedancor daily news monitor