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House committee approves credit condonation bill for ARBs, agri   Category: Economy   01 Feb 2014   Written by Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz   A  COMMITTEE  in  the  House  of  Representatives  has  approved  over  the  weekend  the  Agrarian  and  Agricultural Credit Condonation bill.  The House Committee on Agrarian Reform chaired by Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat, of the lone district  of  Ifugao,  passed  the  House  Bill  (HB)  280  or  the  Agrarian  and  Agricultural  Credit  Condonation  Act  authored by Party‐list Reps. Cresente Paez and Anthony Bravo of Coop‐Natcco, which seeks to condone  the  unpaid  interests,  penalties  and  surcharges  of  loans  secured  by  farmers,  fishermen  and  agrarian‐ reform beneficiaries (ARBs) from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Agriculture  (DA),  People’s  Credit  and  Finance  Corp.  (PCFC),  Cooperative  Development  Authority  (CDA),  National  Food Authority (NFA) and Quedancor.  According to the bill, a total of P3.7 billion inclusive of interest was released by said agencies in form of  loans to farmers, fishermen and ARBs. Collections until December 2011 amounted to 35 percent or P1.7  billion.  Paez,  in  his  sponsorship  speech,  said  the  measure  is  a  win‐win  solution  both  for  the  delinquent  borrowers  who  want  to  restore  their  credit  credibility  and  for  the  government  agencies  who  cannot  write  off  interests,  penalties  and  surcharges  of  delinquent  accounts  due  to  the  limitation  of  the  State  Audit Code of the Philippines or Presidential Decree 1445.  “The bill provides safeguards to avoid abuse by the borrowers,” he added.  For his part, Bravo said the passage of the proposed measure will spark countryside development, which  will support the drive of the administration toward inclusive growth.  He added the government will not lose anything if the condonation program is implemented since only  the interests, penalties and surcharges of delinquent loans will be condoned, not the principal amount.  Bravo  said  representatives  of  the  DAR,  PCFC,  NFA  and  Bangko  Sentral  ng  Pilipinas  expressed  strong  support to the bill, while CDA and Land Bank of the Philippines have yet to submit position papers. 


Meanwhile,  the  lawmakers  said  their  other  proposed  measures  that  are  still  deliberated  in  House  committees  are  HB  3409  Amending  the  National  Internal  Revenue  Code  of  the  Philippines,  HB  3226  Amending  the  Revised  Charter  of  the  Philippine  Crop  Insurance  Corp.  to  increase  the  indemnity  to  80  percent  to  100  percent  of  the  actual  value  of  the  projected  harvest  of  farmers,  HB  283  CSOs  Participation in Budget deliberations, HB 2860 Phthalates‐free Toy Act, HB 2946 Freedom of Information  Bill and HB 2797 Creation of National Transportation Safety Board.  The  House  Committee  on  Cooperatives  Development  chaired  by  Paez  and  the  Senate  Committee  on  Cooperatives led by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has already conducted joint public hearings in Cebu and  Davao on Coop‐Natcco’s pet bill HB 276 Reorganizing the Cooperative Development Authority.  Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz  http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/economy/26872‐house‐committee‐approves‐ credit‐condonation‐bill‐for‐arbs‐agri   


NBI findings on fake SAROs out this week By Aie Balagtas See (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 2, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines - The results of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) probe on fake special allotment release orders (SAROs) will be ready this week. A source told The STAR a 20-page report containing details of the investigation is set to be submitted to NBI Director Virgilio Mendez this week. The source declined to provide more details. Last October, the NBI uncovered P879 million worth of fake SAROs intended for farm-tomarket road projects in the provinces of Cagayan and Aklan. Personnel from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) were reportedly involved in the falsification of the SAROs. Initially, two of the 12 SARO examined by the NBI had turned out to be fake, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said earlier. The SAROs were from Regions 1 and 6, involving P161 million and P77 million, respectively. The other questionable SAROs were for projects in Calabarzon (Region 4-A) and Soccsksargen (Region 12). http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2014/02/02/1285768/nbi-findings-fake-saros-out-week


Palace backs DAR on CARPER coverage By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 2, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang is standing by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in saying that all lands that fall under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) law will be covered by June 30, the last day of the law’s effectivity. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte yesterday said over radio dzRB that the DAR is confident that it is on track in implementing the CARPER law. She said DAR’s commitment is clear from the beginning that the agency is trying its best to issue all notices of coverage before June, so agricultural lands under the law would be distributed even after the law’s effectivity. “Why are we after that? Because it is stated right in the law that once a notice of coverage is issued, even beyond the June 2014 deadline, it will still be processed,” she added. The Palace official made the statement after Catholic bishops asked President Aquino to extend the CARPER law until the end of his term in 2016 because the DAR is behind schedule in land distribution, and to fire Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes for being a misfit in the department. But Valte maintained that the DAR would endeavor to meet its deadline since President Aquino himself committed to follow the CARPER law in his last State of the Nation Address. As for De los Reyes, Valte said it would be up to the DAR chief to speak with the bishops to address their concerns. Last Jan. 27, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA) sent a letter to Aquino appealing for a two-year extension of the CARPER law and alleging that De los Reyes “clearly does not fit the role of a transformational leader for the demanding task ahead” in agrarian reform.


CBCP-NASSA requested to have a dialogue with Aquino, saying major decisions and actions on the strategic direction of the law and the capability of the government to accomplish these strategies would have to be taken before the law’s deadline. CBCP-NASSA also urged that all unpaid amortizations of farmers be condoned, all future distributions be free, and the government undertake a massive program of institution-building and funding support for agricultural development and agrarian reform. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2014/02/02/1285760/palace-backs-dar-carper-coverage


Aquino won’t heed bishops, to keep DAR chief Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:07 am | Saturday, February 1st, 2014

Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes. Photo from www.dar.gov.ph/ MANILA, Philippines—He may be under fire from Catholic bishops, but Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes isn’t going anywhere. President Aquino sees no cogent reason to sack the agrarian reform chief over his failure to fully implement the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (Carper). “Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes continues to enjoy the President’s trust and confidence,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, when asked on Friday if the President would heed the bishops’ call to fire De los Reyes. However, Coloma said, in effect, that De los Reyes had a lot of work to do. “Like all Cabinet members, he must continually meet performance targets and standards that are aligned with the objectives of the Philippine Development Plan,” said Coloma. This was precisely the complaint of nine Catholic bishops, who have appealed to the President to promptly fire the agrarian reform secretary. In a letter dated Jan. 22, the bishops led by Manila Auxillary Bishop Broderick Pabillo enumerated how the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) failed to meet the target distribution of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) balance of 1.2 million hectares since the Carper law, the law extending the implementation of the 1963 agrarian reform code which was signed by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Under the Aquino administration, or from July 2010 to June 2013, DAR distributed only 314,422 ha of land against the original CARP balance of 1.2 million ha, the bishops said.


The pace by which the Carper was being implemented was “sluggish,” the bishops claimed. The prelates had brought to the DAR’s attention in Sept. 2012 the 9,915-ha landholdings of businessman Danding Cojuangco on Bugsuk-Pandanan islands in Palawan. No notice of coverage has been issued by the DAR to date, they said. The Catholic clergymen also raised the “underperformance” of the DAR in handling cases of farmers’ groups affiliated to Sulong Carper, a coalition of 33 land reform advocates that are nongovernment organizations closely monitoring the implementation of Carper. “Secretary Gil de los Reyes clearly does not fit the role of a transformational leader for the demanding task ahead for CARP,” the Catholic prelates said in a strongly worded letter to the President. Michael Lim Ubac

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/572380/aquino-wont-heed-bishops-to-keep-darchief#ixzz2sDrKkAcS Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook


UN food agency seeks $38-M aid for coco farmers By Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 2, 2014 - 12:00am

Coconut trees felled by Super Typhoon Yolanda in Eastern Visayas MANILA, Philippines - The United Nations, food relief agency has issued a warning that global coconut production would be affected as Filipino coconut farmers remain in urgent need of assistance to recover their livelihoods nearly three months after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit. The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) called for donors to support its $38-million fundraising for severely affected Philippine households. “Coconut farmers are replanting, but what makes the situation so dire is that newly planted trees take between six to eight years to reach maturity and return to full production,” said Rajendra Aryal, acting UN FAO representative in the Philippines. The Philippines is the second largest coconut producer in the world, accounting for 26.6 percent of global production. According to FAO, Eastern Visayas, the Philippines’ second largest coconut-producing region, was one of the areas most affected as Yolanda flattened millions of trees when it made landfall in November. In that region alone, some 33 million coconut trees were damaged or destroyed and more than a million coconut farmers impacted, with an estimated loss of $396 million, according to the Philippine Coconut Authority. FAO is working closely with the Philippine Coconut Authority, humanitarian partners and local organizations to develop a recovery plan for the sector in Eastern Visayas.


“It is critical to develop alternative income sources for these small-scale farmers until their coconut trees become productive again,� Aryal said. The UN agency said crop diversification and intercropping could provide key access to income and restore self-sufficiency, building the resilience of communities to withstand future disasters. FAO said recovery efforts are also still needed in other sectors. Remote farming communities in upland areas who have received little or no humanitarian aid, fishers and coastal communities, and backyard livestock-keepers who lost their animals are all in urgent need of support. The UN agency has called for $38 million to support more than 128,000 severely affected households in the Philippines and has so far received $12 million. FAO provided around 44,000 of the worst-affected farming households with rice seed and fertilizer to plant in time for the December-January planting season. The amount is expected to feed around 800,000 people for one year. http://www.philstar.com/agriculture/2014/02/02/1285611/un-food-agency-seeks-38-m-aid-cocofarmers


Arakan Valley’s upland rice belt gets tested for genetic diversity By Anne Camille B. Brion (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 2, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Rice is and will always remain as one of the most important staple foods among Filipinos. For most Filipinos, it is the one thing that satisfies and completes every meal. However, the agriculture sector is continually faced by challenges brought about by factors that hinder rice production. These include the inevitable occurrence and effects of climate change, as well as the widespread infestation of pests and diseases, among many other unfavorable conditions The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations recognizes genetic diversity as the foundation of improving the genes of the crop and has become an integral part in the domestication and cultivation of crops. Genetic diversity is essential in maintaining the richness of biodiversity as the two are regarded as dependent on each other, such as changes that occur in genetic diversity will also affect biological diversity, and vice versa. In Cotabato lies what is considered as the upland “rice belt” called Arakan Valley where a number of indigenous upland rice are thriving. With support from the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), a study was initiated by Dr. Juliet Bangi of the University of the Philippines-Natural Sciences Research Institute (UP-NSRI) in cooperation with the local government unit of Arakan through the Municipal Agriculture Office, Manobo Lumadnong Panaghiusa (MALUPA) of Arakan, Cotabato, and SEARICE, an NGO helping the Manobo tribal community in Arakan Valley Complex. The study seeks to determine the desirable rice gene characteristics through morphogenetic characterization and analysis of the genetic diversity of the indigenous upland rice in the valley.


Understanding the structure and diversity of indigenous rice is needed by scientists and researchers in the conservation and preservation of genetic resources that have potential uses for future breeding purposes. In the study, 14 indigenous upland rice were collected from local farmers. These include Azucena, Dinorado, Mal-os, Magalitok, Kapalawan, Mubpon, Manisi, Bungulan, Kawilan, Malundiang, Sinulid, Ulipapa, Dabao, and Hinumay. The rice varieties were studied under laboratory and greenhouse experiments to characterize their seeds and plant structure. These include plant height, number of tillers per plant, number of days to flowering, number of panicles per plant, panicle length, and 1,000-grain weight. Results showed that the indigenous upland rice is highly diverse with desirable characteristics. Among those studied, the tallest plants are the Azucena and Hinumay. Meanwhile, Kawilan had the highest number of tillers per plant as well as the panicles produced, and the Malundiang had the earliest flowering period. The longest panicle was produced by Magalitok, and Ulipapa and Bungulan had the heaviest 1,000-grain weight. Meanwhile, in analyzing the genetic diversity of the rice, one of the most powerful tools used by scientists is through DNA markers. The study particularly used the simple sequence repeats (SSR) which are also called microsatellites.Among the DNA markers, SSRs are found to be the most efficient and cost-effective tool that can detect higher degree of polymorphisms in rice. The study revealed that Malundiang and Ulipapa have 30-50 percent associated genes that possess the desirable qualities of being early-maturing and having high yield potential. Bungulan, Mubpon, Sinulid, and Mal-os have diverse genes, and are found to have desirable genetic makeup based from their morphogenetic characteristics. Bungulan, Manisi, Kapalawan, Magalitok, Sinulid, Mal-os, and Dinorado have varied and narrow genetic distance indicative of having distinct genes. With a dissimilarity index of 3.32, Kawilan and Kapalawan are upland rice with different genes. These reflect the diversity of the indigenous upland rice in the Arakan Valley Complex based on their genetic makeup, and those that were studied are part of the genetic pool of resources in the locality. High-yielding varieties with promising potentials may emerge in the future as breeding efforts using our indigenous upland rice result in the successful improvement of grain quality, resistance to pests and diseases, and reduction in the maturity period, among many others. If effectively managed and used, they would be substantial in meeting the ever-increasing demand for food as the future unfolds. http://www.philstar.com/agriculture/2014/02/02/1285612/arakan-valleys-upland-rice-belt-getstested-genetic-diversity


IRR for Agri Mechanization Act signed by Ellalyn De Vera  February 2, 2014  

Manila, Philippines — Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala has signed the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Republic Act (RA) 10601 or the Agriculture and Fisheries Mechanization Act (AFMech), which paves the way for the creation of the Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering (BAFE) that will formulate the five-year National AgriFishery Mechanization Program (NAFMP). BAFE will be an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA). Alcala said the AFMech tasks the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) to take the lead in overall research, development, and extension (RDE) in farm and fisheries mechanization in the country. PhilMech Executive Director Rex Bingabing said the NAFMP will be formulated through consultations with concerned agencies and the private sector. “The BAFE will have one year from the approval of the IRR of AFMech to formulate the fiveyear NAFMP, and the next five-year program,” Bingabing said. The NAFMP will serve as the overall agriculture and fishery modernization program to guide in the planning, programming, budgeting, and monitoring of the DA. The five-year plan will also provide the direction for the formulation of the unified National Agricultural and Fisheries Mechanization Research and Development and Extension (NAFMechRDE) agenda that will “address, among others, the priority areas of concerns and commodities of the DA and the major mechanization needs of these commodities,” the IRR said. It said “the NAFMechRDE agenda and the corresponding programs and projects should consider the transformation of a highly-productive, gender-responsive, environment-friendly, climateresilient, and sustainable agricultural and fishery sector.” “Besides increasing the mechanization level of the farm and fishery sector in the Philippines, the IRR of AFMech also takes into account developing the country’s agriculture sector in a sustainable way and helping it cope with the challenges of climate change,” Bingabing said. The formulation and implementation of the NAFMechRDE will be undertaken by the AFMech Research, Development and Extension Network (AFMechRDEN), which will be led by PhilMech. The network will be composed of research and development agencies, local government units (LGUs), non-government organizations, and recognized and well-established associations of


agricultural and fisheries machinery assemblers, manufacturers and distributors, agricultural engineers, farmers and fisherfolk. Among the institutions that will form part of the AFMechRDEN are the Agricultural Mechanization Development Program of the University of the Philippines-Los Ba単os, DA agencies involved in farm and fisheries mechanization efforts, and institutions of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). The IRR also tasks PhilMech and DOST to take the lead in the undertaking of a feasibility study for the local assembly and manufacture of agricultural engines/prime movers, and other agricultural machinery and equipment. http://www.mb.com.ph/irr-for-agri-mechanization-act-signed/


Phl Dragon Boat Federation joins Toka Toka program (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 2, 2014 - 12:00am

Manila Water branding and market research department head Fernando Busuego poses with Philippine Dragon Boat Federation vice-president Pepito Maligaya treasurer Rowena Enriquez together with Manila Water employees at the Toka Toka ceremonial partnership sealing held recently in Quezon City. MANILA, Philippines - Manila Water and the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation have committed to harness their partnership to further advocate the revival of several polluted rivers in Metro Manila to its former pristine condition through the Toka-Toka program. The Toka Toka program is the first and only environmental movement that focuses on cleaning up the heavily-polluted rivers and waterways in the metropolis by educating the general public on used water management. The Toka Toka program focuses on one simple act that each individual can claim as his own share towards the ultimate goal of ensuring cleaner and safer rivers in Metro Manila, notably the three river systems of Marikina, Pasig and San Juan. The four simple acts or toka that each individual can contribute as his own include the proper disposal of garbage, desludging of septic tanks, connecting to Manila Water’s sewer network and supporting the company’s community-based sanitation and used water projects. “Manila Water is very open and not very typical in selecting our partners since we do not limit our partnerships to public and private organizations, but also to non-profit organizations like the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation,” Manila Water East Zone business operations group director Ferdinand Dela Cruz said.


For his part, the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation vows to support Manila Water’s Toka Toka program by engaging its 800 volunteer members on several clean-up drives to be spearheaded by Manila Water in different locations. Manila Water is the East Zone concessionaire of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System that provides water and used water services to more than 6.2 million residents of parts of Quezon City and Manila, Marikina, Pasig, San Juan, Mandaluyong, Pateros, Makati, Taguig and several towns in Rizal Province. http://www.philstar.com/agriculture/2014/02/02/1285614/phl-dragon-boat-federation-joins-tokatoka-program


DENR teams up with wild bird photographers (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 2, 2014 - 12:00am 1 35 googleplus1 0 MANILA, Philippines - The Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), formerly Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has teamed up with the Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines (WBPP) to promote bird photography in the country. “The primary objective of our partnership with the Wild Bird Photographers is not just to take pictures of birds, but to encourage taking photos of birds in their natural habitat, behaving as they behave naturally,” BMB director Mundita Lim said. Lim believes that images of birds taken in their natural habitat not only creates visual impact on people, but also enlightens them -- particularly the youth, on the need to properly manage the environment to protect and save the birds. “This DENR-BMB and WBPP partnership is also part of the over-all strategy of the government to address threats both to the wildlife and their habitats in which they live and thrive,” she said. The project, which Lim formalized with WBPP president Rey Sta. Ana in December last year, is aptly called “Partnership on Bird and Nature Photography” and will run for five years. The project seeks not only to generate high quality photographs, but also videos of endemic and threatened Philippine species to be used in educating the public on biodiversity conservation. Lim said the project would start off with the documentation of the Philippine eagle, being the flagship species for conservation efforts in the country. According to the DENR-BMB head, there are more than 500 species of birds that thrive in various parts of the country, of which 116 bird species are included in the national list of threatened fauna. Lim expressed appreciation to the WBPP, a non-government organization composed mainly of bird and wildlife photography enthusiasts, for “sharing their expertise, time and passion for bird and nature photography.” http://www.philstar.com/agriculture/2014/02/02/1285613/denr-teams-wild-bird-photographers


Over 1,000 farm lots in Luisita now marked, farmers’ installation coming up Category: Nation   01 Feb 2014   Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga   MORE than 1,000 farm lots in Hacienda Luisita have been marked with stone monuments or mojons, an  official of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said on Saturday.  Agrarian  Reform  Undersecretary  for  Legal  Affairs  Anthony  Parungao  is  confident  that  the  DAR  will  be  able to beat its self‐imposed deadline in completing the monumenting of farm lots for the 6,212 farmer‐ beneficiaries.  Parungao earlier said that DAR's target is to complete the task of monumenting by end of March.  Beneficiaries who were awarded farm lots under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP)  at the former Cojuangco‐Aquino sugar estate will be installed as monumenting progresses.  The  DAR  has  yet  to  schedule  the  installation  of  farmer‐beneficiaries.  Parungao  said  monumenting  is  ongoing with 10 teams doing the job.  “Field  reports  show  that  perimeter  surveying  and  blocking  tasks  to  validate  the  subdivision  has  been  completed. Monumenting is proceeding full‐blast despite standing crops,” he said.  He said that some of these monuments which mark the boundaries of farm lots earlier awarded by the  agency  are  being  removed  or  stolen,  apparently  to  delay  the  installation  of  the  qualified  farmer‐ beneficiaries.  “Many of the monuments have been removed despite our repeated warnings and notices,” he said.  Hacienda  Luisita  was  ordered  distributed  by  the  Supreme  Court  in  its  final  and  executory  decision  on  April  24,  2012,  in  support  of  the  2005  decision  of  the  Presidential  Agrarian  Reform  Council  (PARC)  canceling  the  stock‐distribution  option  previously  being  implemented  at  the  sugar  estate.Each  of  the  6,212  farmer‐beneficiaries  got  an  equal  share  of  approximately  6,000  square  meters  from  the  4,099‐ hectare  net  distributable  portion  of  the  hacienda  will  pay  for  CARP‐awarded  land  in  the  amount  of  P70,000 in a span of 30 years.  Jonathan L. Mayuga   http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/nation/26869‐over‐1‐000‐farm‐lots‐in‐luisita‐now‐ marked‐farmers‐installation‐coming‐up 


Bishops hit for ‘supporting’ CARP extension Category: Nation   01 Feb 2014   Written by Mia M. Gonzalez and Jonathan L. Mayuga   THE Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) on Saturday criticized Roman Catholic bishops who called  for the overhaul of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and expressed support for the extension  of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).  KMP argued that overhauling the DAR, the agency mandated to implement CARP, is not enough to break  the land monopoly in the country.  Instead,  KMP  Deputy  Secretary‐General  Willy  Marbella  said  the  government’s  policy  should  undergo  radical  change  by  junking  CARP  and  implementing  genuine  agrarian  reform  which  calls  for  the  free  distribution of land to landless farmers.  Marbella said the Catholic bishops should “wake up” and shun CARP and its extension law, saying the  program was not really meant to break land monopoly in the country.  The group issued the statement after reports said nine bishops, led by Manila Auxillary Bishop Broderick  Pabillo, in a January 22 letter, asked President Aquino for an overhaul in DAR leadership and pressed for  swift  action  on  the  implementation  of  the  Comprehensive  Agrarian  Reform  Program  Extension  with  Reforms (CARPer).  Aside from Pabillo, the letter was signed by Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona, Bishops Nereo Odchimar,  John Du, Antonio Ledesma, Sofronio Bancud, Jose Advincula, Angelito Lampon and Martin Jumoad.  “It’s high‐time for our bishops to wake up from their decades‐long delusion on the sham CARP. In the 26  years  of  the  sham  CARP,  the  Filipino  peasantry  got  nothing  but  continuing  bondage  to  the  soil,”  Marbella said.  The group is suspicious of the timing of the bishops’ statement.  The call, KMP said, was issued on the CARP’s “deathbed” referring to the law’s expiration on June 30 and  weeks before the House of Committee on Agrarian Reform hearing on February 5 of House Bill 3305, the  CARP extension bill authored by Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro  and his brother, Party‐list Rep. Maximo Rodriguez of Abante Mindanao.  “It  appears  that  the  nine  bishops  are  giving  their  indirect  blessings  to  the  political  insanity  of  the  Rodriguez brothers in reviving the pro‐landlord CARP from its deathbed,” Marbella said. 


Marbella said the influential Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines  should not allow itself to be  used by big landlords in prolonging the agony of farmers.  He warned that “the militant peasant  movement will never think twice  to draw the line against these  conscious feudal elements in the Catholic church.”  DAR lauds Rodriguez initiative  A DAR official, meanwhile, expressed support for proposals to extend CARP anew.  Agrarian Reform Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Anthony Parungao, who is also the spokesman of the  agency,  expressed  gratitude  to  Rodriguez  who  he  said  “has  proven  time  and  again  to  be  a  great  supporter of CARP.”  “We are most appreciative of this initiative, the objective of which is to remove any and all doubts on  the legal basis for the DAR to proceed with its land acquisition and distribution activities,” he said.  Parungao said that Section 30 of Republic Act 9700, or CARPer, as well as a Department of Justice (DOJ)  opinion issued in July last year and the General Appropriations Act (GAA) itself, are clear that coverage  can proceed beyond June 30, 2014.  Palace: Address bishops’ claims  Malacañang  has asked the DAR to provide  Catholic bishops with its latest performance data to prove  that  they  are  “on  track,”  contrary  to  the  claim  of  critics  of  Agrarian  Reform  Secretary  Virgilio  delos  Reyes.  Palace  Deputy  Spokesman  Abigail  Valte  made  the  statement  in  response  to  the  appeal  made  by  nine  Catholic  bishops  for  President  Aquino  to  sack  de  los  Reyes  for  allegedly  dragging  his  feet  on  land  distribution to qualified farmer‐beneficiaries under CARP.  “The DAR is always open to address their concerns....��We’ve asked the Department of Agrarian Reform  to give the most updated data that they have to the sectors that are asking,” Valte said.  She said that according to the DAR, “so far...they are on track” in terms of land distribution.  “They are striving to do that.... It is a commitment of this administration and the Department of Agrarian  Reform is pursuing this,” Valte said.  She  said  the  DAR  had  repeatedly  given  its  assurance  that  it  would  work  on  issuing  all  the  notices  of  coverage before June 2014, the deadline for the distribution of agrarian reform land. 


Valte said that under the law, once a notice of coverage is issued, it would still be processed even after  the June deadline.  Nine Catholic bishops, led by Manila Auxillary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, wrote Mr. Aquino on January 22  to ask for an overhaul in the DAR.  http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/nation/26868‐bishops‐hit‐for‐supporting‐carp‐ extension                               


Comelec to set up polling precincts for elderly, disabled in all SM malls Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:03 am | Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Comelec Commissioner Grace Padaca. INQUIRER.NET FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections plans to use SM malls as polling precincts for senior citizens and people with disabilities (PWDs) in the 2016 presidential elections. This was revealed by Comelec Commissioner Grace Padaca following the success of four pilot polling areas inside SM malls in the barangay elections last year. “We will definitely make use of all SM malls for the 2016 elections because we found the pilot testing last year to be very successful. We received positive feedbacks and requests to cover more areas. That is why we will surely make use of all SM malls,” Padaca said during the sidelines of the recently held Angels Walk for autism awareness at the SM Mall of Asia. The Comelec, in cooperation of SM Cares, the corporate social responsibility arm of SM Supermalls, set up four polling places in four SM malls, called the SM Accessible Polling Places, in Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and National Capital Region (NCR) as part of the implementation of R.A. 10366 or the law authorizing the poll body to establish precincts for PWDs and senior citizens. Four selected barangays were chosen: Barangay 659 in the 5th District of Manila; Barangay Sabang in Lipa City in Batangas; Barangay Mabolo in Cebu City; and Barangay Lagao in General Santos City . Those in Manila were able to vote in SM City while voters in Batangas voted in SM City Lipa. Voters in Barangay Mabolo voted in SM City Cebu while those from Barangay Lagao voted in SM City General Santos.


She said with the success of the pilot project, she is confident that the full implementation of R.A. 10366 will be realized in 2016. “We are very excited because we are finally giving voice to our PWDs and senior citizens by making it easier and accessible for them to vote. And we are grateful that our malls, especially SM, are fully supportive of this endeavor. Bien Mateo, vice president for operations of SM malls, said SM fully supports the expansion of the polling precincts for PWDs and senior citizens in all their malls. “We will open all our malls as polling precincts because it has always been our commitment to make our malls responsive to the needs of the PWDs and senior citizens,” he said. He stressed that SM had always been supportive of endeavors to uplift the lives of PWDs and senior citizens. He said the Angels Walk is only one of the programs of SM Cares to support this particular sector of society. The successful holding of Angels Walk, a yearly event to raise awareness on autism, is a testament of SM’s commitment towards this cause, Mateo added. Meanwhile, overseas Filipino voters will now have more opportunity to register and have their biometrics taken to be able to participate in the 2016 elections as the Comelec conducts field or mobile registrations. In an interview, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said mobile or field registration seeks to reach out to OFWs who may find it difficult to go to Philippine diplomatic posts to register. “Some OFWs, particularly in Middle East, do not go to the posts because their employers do not allow them. So we will conduct registration at various locations outside the posts,” he said. However, Jimenez said the areas where the field registrations would be held would depend on the host country. With Tina G. Santos

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‘Basyang’ now over West PH Sea INQUIRER.net 5:28 pm | Saturday, February 1st, 2014

MTSAT ENHANCED-IR Satellite Image 4:32 p.m., 01 February 2014. pagasa.dost.gov.ph photo MANILA, Philippines—Tropical depression “Basyang” is now over the West Philippine Sea as it heads away from the country, the state weather bureau said Saturday. The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said in its 5 p.m. bulletin that Basyang maintained its strength at 55 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center. Only northern Palawan including Calamian Group of Islands, Oriental Mindoro and Occidental Mindoro remain under signal number 1. Basyang as of 4 p.m. was spotted at 88 kilometers southwest of Coron, Palawan. It is forecast to be out of the country’s area of responsibility or 764 kilometers west of Coron, Palawan Sunday afternoon. Pagasa warned residents living in low lying and mountainous areas under public storm warning signal number 1 of possible flashfloods and landslides. Owners of fishing boats and other small vessels were advised not to venture into the eastern seaboard of Luzon and southern seaboard of southern Luzon due to the surge of the northeast monsoon.

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Noy commits budget support for peace pact By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 2, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -President Aquino has committed full budgetary support for the implementation of the agreements between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the establishment of an autonomous Bangsamoro political entity, officials said. Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process Teresita Deles and chief government negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer revealed to The STAR over dinner on Friday that the financial requirements for the complete implementation of the peace agreement were huge. “But it’s (peace) price is definitely worth it and cheaper than war,” Coronel said. Coronel and Deles said the Office of the Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process (OPAPP) will be submitting the financial requirements of the agency as well as for programs to implement the peace pact around April or May during the budget call for the 2015 national appropriations. The OPAPP was allocated P314 million in 2013 and its budget was increased to P351 million this year as negotiations between the government and the MILF entered a final and critical stage. Deles clarified that the complete financial requirements would not be fully handled or allocated to the OPAPP as many departments would be involved in the implementation of the agreements so significant portions of the funding would be appropriated to them. She cited the case of the PAMANA programs, which are livelihood and empowerment projects for conflict-affected areas that are administered by various agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development with the OPAPP as the oversight body. Coronel said bulk of the funding would be taken up for “transitional arrangements,” including the formation of various decommissioning, justice and reconciliation bodies, as well as socioeconomic projects for poor communities in the envisioned autonomous Bangsamoro region. “We have short-term, medium-term and long-term socio-economic projects to get the people back on their feet again. We are willing to pay the cost and the people are willing to pitch in,” Coronel said.


Waiting in the wings are international donor agencies and foreign and local investors, Deles and Coronel said. Coronel said international donor agencies will be initiating education, health, and livelihood services in close coordination with the MILF. Investors have expressed interest in possible agricultural and fisheries projects, she said. Coronel said the MILF is in the process of drafting its own economic roadmap once the autonomous Bangsamoro region is in place to ensure that external aid and investments would not go to waste. The Transition Commission is in the process of drafting the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law that it aims to submit to Congress for scrutiny in May. Once approved by Congress, the proposed Basic Law would be submitted to a plebiscite in the concerned regions in Mindanao. Review by Congress Members of the Transition Commission met with leaders of the House of Representatives last Wednesday and gained support from lawmakers on the peace process. House leaders have repeatedly expressed their preference that the proposed basic law should not require any amendment to the Constitution to avoid legal complications, including questions before the Supreme Court that would derail the peace process. The Senate, for its part, is set to review the framework agreement and its annexes in preparation for deliberations on the Basic Law. Sen. Teofisto Guingona III has filed a resolution that would allow the review of the agreements. Guingona, who witnessed the signing of the framework agreement with the MILF in Kuala Lumpur, said Congress and the public should have a deeper understanding of the agreement, which would become the basis for the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Guingona said the framework agreement outlines the general features of the political settlement between the government and the MILF. •

Marvin Sy, Roel Pareño, Alexis Romero

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2014/02/02/1285757/noy‐commits‐budget‐support‐peace‐pact     


3 GOCCs linked to pork scam abolished By Michael Lim Ubac Philippine Daily Inquirer 7:18 am | Saturday, February 1st, 2014

Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III has ordered the abolition of three government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) linked to the P10-billion pork barrel scam—Philippine Forest Corp. (PhilForest), ZNAC Rubber Estate (ZREC) and National AgriBusiness Corp. (Nabcor). A Malacañang spokesperson noted that the three GOCCs had been implicated as “conduits of fake PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations.” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the decision was based on financial viability, adding that the three agencies neither fulfilled the purposes for which they were created nor had a tangible social impact. She said the three GOCCs might not be the last to be abolished. “More GOCCs may be abolished as the GCG (Governance Commission for GOCCs) fulfills its mandate to rationalize the government-owned and -controlled corporations of the country,” she said. The decision of the President to abolish the three GOCCs was in pursuit of “maximizing efficiency and promoting accountability.” “The decision to abolish them was based on a financial viability and relevance to national development plans study conducted by the Governance Commission for GOCCs, which is the regulatory agency for such corporations,” Valte said. She said that from the start of his administration, Mr. Aquino had pursued a policy of promoting efficiency in government corporations, “to ensure that they serve as a means for fostering national development and not as a conduit or facilitator of selfish agendas and crimes.”


Separation package “Seeing that the three agencies neither fulfill the purposes for which they were created, nor had a tangible social impact, and that furthermore, they were no longer financially viable, the President gave his clearance for the formation of a technical working group to wind down operations and transfer relevant functions and operations (to other offices), as well as to attend to the separation pay for employees in keeping with Civil Service rules,” Valte said. However, she stressed that any separation packages would be withheld for those found to have committed graft or other corrupt practices. Nabcor and ZREC are among the five state entities that Malacañang wanted abolished in the wake of the misuse of PDAF, the graft-ridden pork barrel which financed the pet projects of lawmakers. The others are PhilForest, an agro-forestry arm of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); Technology Resource Center (TRC) of the Department of Science and Technology; and the National Livelihood Development Corp. (NLDC) of Land Bank of the Philippines. It was Environment Secretary Ramon Paje who earlier disclosed that President Aquino had asked the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel to study the abolition of the five state entities. Paje said Aquino was “extremely disappointed” with how the pork barrel scam continued into his administration, particularly with the release of the P428.5 million PDAF of two senators (Gringo Honasan and Lito Lapid) and 24 members of the House of Representatives to the five state companies. The P428.5-million pork barrel was released from October 2010 to December 2011 to nine fake nongovernment organizations (NGOs), which do not belong to the network of bogus NGOs put up by detained Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of a P10-billion scam. Apart from being linked to the scam, Nabcor has incurred huge debts from the Agriculture Enhancement Competitiveness Fund that it could no longer recover, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said. A party-list representative, however, wondered why NLDC was not among those abolished. Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said the NLDC was used to funnel P1 billion in pork barrel funds into seven fake NGOs reportedly controlled by Napoles from 2008 to 2012. Colmenares noted that this was no different from the three state firms that were ordered abolished. With a report from Gil C. Cabacungan

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EDITORIAL - Trimming the GOCC fat (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 2, 2014 - 12:00am

In the wake of the pork barrel scandal, President Aquino has given the green light for the abolition of three government-owned and controlled corporations. The GOCCs, Palace officials explained, were no longer financially viable, had no “tangible social impact” and no longer fulfilled their mandate. The three also happened to be among several GOCCs that were reportedly used by lawmakers to funnel their Priority Development Assistance Fund, the official name of the pork barrel, to dubious non-government organizations. Operations will therefore start winding down at the Philippine Forest Corp., ZNAC Rubber Estate and the National Agribusiness Corp. The separation pay of officials and personnel in these GOCCs will be withheld until they are cleared of involvement in corrupt activities, Palace officials said. Under the criteria set by Malacañang, a performance review should lead to the phase-out of more GOCCs. State firms came under fire recently for their fat yearend bonuses. The review for eventual phase-out of more GOCCs can start in the corporations that have shown the strongest resistance to returning or taking a hefty cut in their bonuses. Calls have been made for many years to abolish certain GOCCs. The pork barrel scam opens opportunities for doing this. Certain quarters have also called for the abolition of two other GOCCs linked to the pork barrel scam: the National Livelihood Development Corp. and Technology Resource Center. The pork barrel scandal, however, should not be the only reason for trimming the GOCC fat. In abolishing the three state firms, Palace officials explained that the government wanted to maximize efficiency and promote accountability. Under that criteria, several more state firms should be phased out. http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2014/02/02/1285628/editorial-trimming-gocc-fat


Cordillera malnutrition remains high Philippine Daily Inquirer 11:25 pm | Saturday, February 1st, 2014 BAGUIO CITY—The malnutrition rate in the Cordillera remains high despite the region being among the top food producers in the country, government nutritionists and agriculture officials said. “Poverty and malnutrition are connected, while there is the supply of food, there is always a question of affordability,” said Danilo Daguio, assistant regional director of the Department of Agriculture. Eileen Blanco, nutritionist of the National Nutrition Council in the Cordillera, said the malnutrition rate among children 5 years old or younger continued to register in double digits. In 2012, the malnutrition prevalence rate was 12.36 percent, which meant that for every 100 children, 13 were classified as malnourished, she said.

The region is considered self-sufficient in rice and supplies at least 80 percent of highland vegetables to Metro Manila markets. But the National Statistical Coordination Board, in its website, said “17.5 percent of all families in the Cordillera Administrative Region (reflected as 65,516 households or 373,740 people) were poor in 2012.” The region’s malnutrition status was discussed at a forum here. Michelle Andaya, nutritionist of the Department of Education (DepEd) in the Cordillera, said Baguio had the most underweight children in the region in the first half of 2012, and blame went to the growing number of fast-food restaurants in this city and the availability of junk food in school canteens and stores near school compounds. “There are schools that still sell junk food, and it is hard to fight these giant companies,” Andaya said. The DepEd Cordillera office recorded up to 9,000 malnourished pupils out of 36,000 grade school students in Baguio from July to August of school year 2011 to 2012, Andaya said. Desiree Caluza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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BSP seen to keep key rates steady By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 2, 2014 - 12:00am 4 58 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is expected to keep key policy rates steady when it meets this week, UK-based investment bank Barclays said. In a research note published yesterday, Barclays said it expects the central bank’s policy-making Monetary Board to maintain overnight borrowing and overnight lending rates at record lows. “[The] BSP meets on the back of strong GDP (gross domestic product) figures in the Philippines, and with the impact from Super Typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) appearing to be less than initially feared,” Barclays said. “We expect the BSP to look through supply-shock driven spikes in inflation as inflation expectations remain well-anchored,” the bank continued. The Monetary Board will have its first rate-setting meeting for the year on Thursday. Overnight borrowing and overnight lending rates are currently at 3.5 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively. The MB kept key policy rates steady through 2013 on the back of a manageable inflation rate and a robust economic growth. Inflation averaged three percent last year, at the low-end of the central bank’s target of three to five percent, while economic growth came at 7.2 percent, surpassing government’s expectations of six-to-seven percent. Inflation in December has risen to a two-year high of 4.1 percent as recent typhoons caused food supply disruptions, and the central bank sees the rate to remain elevated and settle at 3.4 to 4.3 percent in January.


The BSP expects inflation to average 4.5 percent this year, near the upper end of the three to five percent target range. Barclays stressed that as inflation is expected to rise this year, the BSP is seen tweaking policy rates in the second half. “[G]iven the lagged impact of strong growth, we expect core inflationary pressures to rise and continue to expect the BSP to hike the policy rate by 25 basis points to 3.75 percent in Q3 (third quarter) 2014,” Barclays said. The central bank last adjusted its key policy rates in October 2012, when it reduced the overnight borrowing and overnight lending rates by 25 basis points each. The BSP then took an accommodative stance in order to encourage more spending and provide a boost to the Philippine economy. http://www.philstar.com/business/2014/02/02/1285592/bsp-seen-keep-key-rates-steady

                             


Gov’t outlines budget priorities for next 3 years By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 2, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino government has put in place a budget priorities framework for the remaining three years of its term aimed at accelerating and sustaining economic growth, eliminating poverty and enhancing transparency and accountability. The national development plan for 2014 to 2016 is designed to address economic constraints and the need for greater state efficiency while building a foundation for faster and inclusive longterm growth. The budget priorities framework prioritizes measures to build a capable, effective state that delivers quality services while reigniting business investment and growth. “How we manage our national budget has a precise and definitive impact on the success of our priority programs and projects. If we ensure enough budgetary support to government initiatives that will bring more Filipinos out of poverty—and if we likewise direct more funds to programs that help drive the economy—we can lay down the foundations for and ultimately catalyze inclusive development in the country,” Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad said in a statement. Abad said the plan will guide departments and agencies over the next three years so that the country’s goal of facilitating quick, sustainable development can be fully realized. “The framework is essentially a blueprint of the administration’s broader strategy to eradicate poverty and further stimulate the economy, all while establishing lasting peace, sound climate change programs and policies, and governance reforms that will firmly stay in place even beyond this administration,” he added. The framework is also a preface to the 2015 National Budget, for which preparations will soon be underway.


The plan will identify key outcomes that departments and agencies will need to attain as well as geographical focus areas of these strategies so that regions and areas in urgent need of development will be better supported by the national budget. It will also take into account the impact of recent national disasters on the country’s growth strategy, including Super Typhoon Yolanda. “Calamities affect not only the local governments and communities that suffered the brunt of the damage, but also the country’s economic soundness and stability,” Abad said. “The budget priorities framework pays special attention to the setbacks that these disasters present to our pursuit of long-term growth, so we can focus even more intensely on finding solutions that will help us overcome those same challenges. For example, the framework considers the urgent need for a more comprehensive and responsive disaster risk and climate change management strategy, not to mention the immense work ahead of rebuilding and rehabilitating all affected regions,” he added. “Ultimately, what the framework seeks to produce through the next year’s budget is a robust fiscal plan that will allow more Filipinos to benefit from the economic gains we’ve been making. We’ve achieved so much over the last three years; there’s no better time for us to concentrate our efforts on reducing poverty on a large scale, bringing more jobs to more Filipinos, and beefing up industries that can improve our economic performance.” Abad pointed out that the framework is “about ensuring a better and more optimistic future for Filipinos, a goal wholly supported by President Aquino’s good governance and fiscal reform agenda.” http://www.philstar.com/business/2014/02/02/1285593/govt‐outlines‐budget‐priorities‐next‐3‐years                     


Seminar set on gov’t procurement law (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 2, 2014 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The biggest buyer and consumer of infrastructure, goods and services is the government. The private sector can win big by entering into public-private business transactions but it is essential that they first fully understand the procurement law and its IRR. Failure to know this can cost private individuals to be part of the statistics of government officials with criminal and administrative cases based on Commission On Audit (COA) findings of irregular transactions. Stay out of trouble by learning everything you must know about procurement law including the right procedures and interpretation of rules on bidding, bid qualification and disqualifications, bid award, contract implementation, protest mechanisms, remedies, decided cases on protest and disputes, contract termination, settlement, detecting irregular transactions, addressing common problem areas and many more. To help you on this, the Center for Global Best Practices is launching a pioneering two-day seminar entitled, “what you must know about the government procurement law and its implementing rules and Regulations: Ensuring Compliance with RA 9184 and its IRR to be held on Feb. 18 & 19 at the Edsa Shangri-la Hotel, Mandaluyong City, Philippines. This best practices seminar will feature authorities in their field. For details and a complete list of these very informative and solutions-oriented seminars, you may log on to www.cgbp.org or call (02) 842-7148/ 59 and 556-8968/ 69; Cebu lines (032) 512-3106 or 07 or Baguio telephone (074) 423-5148. This program is highly recommended for government officials in the national government agencies, LGUs and GOCCs as well as the business sector – suppliers, contractors and consultants and would be players – who want to participate and do business with the biggest client of them all worth billions - the government. Pre-registration is required in this limited seats only event. Register early and avail of the early bird and group discounts for three or more participants. http://www.philstar.com/business/2014/02/02/1285602/seminar‐set‐govt‐procurement‐law           


Major dams in Bulacan to undergo repairs by Freddie C. Velez  February 1, 2014  

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Calumpit, Bulacan — Call it answered prayer or good luck, but the year of the Wooden Horse has started on a good note for the province of Bulacan with the expected rehabilitation of the 45year-old Angat Dam in May this year. Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy Alvarado said the new year has brought good tidings for the people and the province of Bulacan, starting with the good news that major dams in Bulacan will now undergo the much needed repair and rehabilitation.

 

ANGAT DAM – File photo shows a security guard looking at the spillway of Angat Dam in Norzagaray, Bulacan. (KJ Rosales)


“It is really an answered prayer and the people of Bulacan are also greatful to President Benigno S. Aquino III for immediately addressing the problems besetting major dams in the province including the Bustos rubber dam,” Alvarado said. Alvarado disclosed on Friday that K-Water, the new operator of the Angat dam, has agreed to start the repair and rehabilitation of the dam that experts claimed is nestling along the West Valley fault line. The governor said the repair of Angat, Bustos, and Bulon dams and the conversion of the Bayabas river into an auxiliary dam were discussed in a recent meeting with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. Also in the meeting were top officials of the Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System, National Irrigation Administration, Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) and Norzagaray Mayor Alfredo Gelmar. Alvarado said that the aging rubber dam in Bustos will be replaced also this year with a new modern rubber dam. “Rubber dams have a life span of 30 years but due to the effects of climate change and the hot summers in the country the structural integrity of Bustos rubber dam has already been compromised and needs immediate rehabilitation,” the governor said. Bustos park will also be spruced up to bolster tourism in the area which is a favorite picnic ground during summertime. He said that the national government has already earmarked millions of funds for the immediate rehabilitation of the Bulo Dam in San Miguel town, which collapsed some two years ago at the height of the typhoon triggering the worst flooding in the area. Alvarado also announced that for the first time, Bulakenyos will now enjoy the waters from their own reservoir, as the Bulacan Bulk Water project is already for publication for bidders. “Once this push[es] through, the people of Bulacan will no longer depend on the underground water source. Matitikman na rin natin ang sarili nating tubig mula sa aming dam,” Alvarado said. He said that with the assistance of the Department of Science and Technology, a flood forecasting and warning system known as the “Light Detector and Ranging Technology” (LIDAR) will be set up along the Angat river and will be monitored on real time at the command center of the Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Office (PRRMO). Alvarado also said dredging at the downstream of Angat river is now on-going. The governor was also pleased to announce that Executive Secretary Ochoa will call a meeting among concerned officials in a no-nonsense move to spearhead the cleaning of the biologically dead Meycauayan. Marialo and Obando river systems. The said rivers have been tagged by the international environmental watchdog Blacksmith International as among the 30 dirtiest rivers in the world. http://www.mb.com.ph/major‐dams‐in‐bulacan‐to‐undergo‐repairs/ 


Malunggay gets House committee’s nod as national vegetable by Charissa Luci  February 2, 2014 (updated)  

Manila, Philippines — The House committee on revisions on law has approved a bill seeking to declare malunggay (moringa) as the national vegetable of the Philippines and the month of November of every year as the “National Malunggay Month.”

 

Pangasinan Rep. Ma. Georgina P. de Venecia said malunggay, serving as a “miracle vegetable” and “nature’s medicine cabinet,” deserves recognition by declaring it as a national vegetable and by devoting November of every year as its national month. The panel, chaired by Pangasinan Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas is set to transmit its committee report on House Bill 2072 to the plenary for discussion. HB 2072 is authored by Pangasinan Rep. Ma. Georgina P. de Venecia. De Venecia said malunggay, serving as a “miracle vegetable” and “nature’s medicine cabinet,” deserves recognition by declaring it as a national vegetable and by devoting November of every year as its national month. “For the past years, malunggay in the Philippines has been considered as a backyard tree. Now, we can say that malunggay can save lives, increase incomes, generate millions of jobs, utilize vast tracts of agricultural lands, make the Philippines globally competitive, impact local and international market, and help attain socio-economic equity,” she said.


“Malunggay is one of the important plants that deserve national and international promotion due to the many bio-medical endowment and numerous socio-economic benefits that can be derived from it,” she pointed out. HB 2072 tasks the Secretary of Agriculture, in coordination with the Secretary of Education, Secretary of Health and the chairman of the National Commission for Culture and Arts, to promulgate the rules and regulations necessary for the implementation of the proposed Act. “Because of its enormous benefits, malunggay is encouraged by the Department of Agriculture. Our country is presently expanding the local market for malunggay and its products with the aim of enhancing the agribusiness potentials of various crops as part of the government’s poverty alleviation and health care programs,” De Venecia said. Biochemists and molecular anthropologists found that malunggay is rich in Vitamins C and A, iron and high-density lipoprotein of good cholesterol, making it an effective cure for illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, inflammation, infections, cancer and aging issues. http://www.mb.com.ph/malunggay‐gets‐house‐committees‐nod‐as‐national‐vegetable‐of‐ph/                               


Senate sets hearing on rice issues by Mario Casayuran  February 1, 2014  

Manila, Philippines — The Senate agriculture and food committee resumes tomorrow its public hearing on rice-related issues such as rampant rice smuggling, use of dummies in the importation of rice and hoarding to create an upward movement in the price of rice. The hearing, the fifth to be conducted by Sen. Cynthia Villar, committee chairperson, followed revelations of unabated rice smuggling operations before the recent entry of the new leadership at the Bureau of Customs led by Commissioner Philip Sevilla. The committee heard last week an admission from controversial rice trader Davidson Bangayan, alias ‘’David Tan,’’ that he consolidated the Department of Agriculture (DA)-issued rice importation permits of rice farmers cooperatives to finance the importation of rice. Rice farmers’ cooperatives, however, have rued that they were only given a pittance from rice traders after the completion of the importation process although rice importation is allowed by the government for their benefit. http://www.mb.com.ph/senate‐sets‐hearing‐on‐rice‐issues/                         


Armyworms invade flower, vegetable farms February 2, 2014 (updated)    

ZAMBOANGA CITY — Flower and vegetable farmers in the village of La Paz on Sunday said they feared losing their income to armyworms that have invaded their farms if the city’s Agriculture Office does nothing to help them.

 

Flower and vegetable farmers in the village of La Paz on Sunday said they feared losing their income to armyworms that have invaded their farms if the city’s Agriculture Office does nothing to help them. (Photo from University of Nebraska, Department of Entomology) Among the variety of flowers grown by the farmers in the village are roses of different varieties, Malaysian mums, wonder white, and several other imported flower varieties. The farmers said they are helpless in eliminating the pest, given their very limited knowledge of pest control, and asked the city’s Agriculture Office to get involved. They said farmers in adjacent villages also expressed fears that the armyworm moths might invade their farms next, if the infestation is left unchecked. The village of La Paz, also known as “Little Baguio,” is a major source of flowers and vegetables in Zamboanga City, Basilan Sulu and Tawi-Tawi province. (Nonoy E Lacson) http://www.mb.com.ph/armyworms‐invade‐flower‐vegetable‐farms/         


MRT 3 up for rebid, opens door for Inekon • •

Written by Admin Sunday, 02 February 2014 00:00

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) is moving towards a rebidding of the controversial P3.8-billion Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 project that would pave the way for the entry of groups favored by the Palace, a DoTC source said. Earlier, accusations were raised against presidential sister Ballsy Aquino-Cruz and husband Eldon of spearheading an extortion racket that will assure Czech Republic train coach supplier Inekon Group of the contract for the supply of coaches for the MRT 3 Expansion Project. The allegations were substantiated by documents obtained by The Tribune pointing to the attempt of President Aquino’s first cousin, Jorge Aquino-Lichauco, to dictate on the bidding process for the train project to favor the Czech firm. The DoTC is supposedly firming up findings in a review of the capability of Chinese railway contractor CNR Dalian’s capability to successfully deliver the project requirement which showed the winning bidder does not have experience in making light rail vehicle. A DoTC official who spoke on condition of anonymity cited an “internal discussion” on the likelihood of holding a new auction for the contract after questions have been raised on the capability of the lone bidder CNR Dalian which supposedly lacked experience to build trains with articulated bogies. An articulated bogie joins each railway car and is a key component which enables the entire train to turn sharp corners.


A train expert said the functional failure of the articulated bogie may cause serious accidents, like derailment. Lee Shengli, a Chinese rail expert who retired from the Chinese Ministry of Railways, said CNR Dalian is known for its work on diesel locomotives, which are their main products. “They don’t have experience in the production of light rail vehicles with articulated bogies, and they have not delivered any metro vehicles or light rail vehicles out of China,” Lee said. “It is very important that the reliability and safety of the technology and the key components are operationally proven, and the train manufacturer can only collect sufficient manufacturing experience by doing (the job over time),” according to Lee. He explained that a train designer and manufacturer like CNR Dalian “can only know the problem of the trains after these trains are put into commercial operation, so that corrective actions will be taken to improve the design and quality of the trains.” For all railway tendering projects worldwide, the operators require the bidder to have sufficient experience in designing and manufacturing the trains used for these projects, Lee said. Doubts were also raised about CNR Dalian’s lack of overseas project experience in handling metro vehicles and light rail vehicles. Records showed that CNR Dalian only exported diesel locomotives out of China, and not metro rail vehicles or light rail vehicles such as MRT 3 that is expected to transport more than 470,000 commuters daily with the expansion project. “Lack of overseas experience may lead to various problems in the project execution phase, such as poor communication, violation of local regulations and, sometimes, the failure of the project itself,” the DoTC official said. “We are discussing these in the department DoTC, and studying the matter seriously, the DoTC official said.


Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya had earlier deployed a team to conduct ocular inspection of Dalian’s manufacturing facilities in China but he indicated the team found the firm “fit” to do the project for having “adequate, if not impressive, manufacturing facilities.” The MRT 3 Capacity Expansion Project has two parts. Under the first phase, the DoTC will acquire 48 light rail vehicles using four-car trains that will shorten waiting time to about 2.5 in MRT stations. The secon phase involves electro-mechanical works to link the new LRVs with the existing communication and signaling system of the MRT 3. The Tribune earlier reported that a source said Lichauco, son of Maria Aurora “Maur” Aquino-Lichauco, elder sister of the President’s late father, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., has his imprints all over the “botched” Inekon bid for the MRT project, starting with the reported visit of Ballsy’s group to Prague, Czechoslovakia sometime in 2011 where they reportedly met with top government officials as well as with the top management of Inekon. “Obviously, money already changed hands over this deal that went sour at the last minute that is why the Czechs are fuming,” the source averred. “Having advanced money to their supposed backers and lobbyists, Inekon could no longer reduce their bid price to comply with the terms of the contract to compete with the other bidders,” the source added. Czech Ambassador Josef Rycthar, in his letter last June 29 to Aquino, exonerated Ballsy and her husband but insisted on the extortion allegation which he pinned on DoTC officials. “But what I have here are some pieces of documents and information which would reveal that one of their cousins, had been strongly lobbying and in fact interfering on official government business just to ensure his client gets the contract,” he added. Following up on that trip, the source said the Inekon Group’s top management, aided by


Yorgos Psinakis, nephew of Aquino businessman ally Steve Psinakis and Lichauco, made a visit to Manila in November 2011, where they met with then Transportation and Communications Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas and the management of MRT-3 to discuss Inekon’s plan to bid for the supply of coaches even as the project was still in its planning stage. Psinakis, the “representative” of the Inekon Group in the Philippines and the nephew of Stavros ‘Steve’ Psinakis, the Greek son-in-law of businessman Eugenio Lopez Sr., according to the source, is a “good friend” of the Czech ambassador. The source added that after the series of meetings between Inekon and DoTC officials, on April 24 in 2012, Psinakis wrote DoTC Undersecretary for Planning, Rene Limcaoco, dropping the name of the presidential cousin, in his follow-up for Inekon’s proposal. Together with DoTC Undersecretary for Legal Services, Jose Perpetuo Lotilla, another Roxas appointee, Limcaoco oversees the bidding and awarding of multi-billion contracts at the DoTC involving railways and transport to include MRT-3. Earlier this year, Lichauco, whom Commission on Elections records show has contributed along with his wife, Margarita Lopez, some P4 million to the campaign of his other cousin, Sen. Benigno “Bam” Aquino in the last elections, submitted his own version of the terms of reference (ToR) which he proposed to be used in the bidding process for the acquisition of 48 new coaches for the MRT3 project. Lichauco’s ToR, in turn, was forwarded by Limcaoco to MRT3 General Manager Al Vitangcol last April 10 of this year. “We transmit herewith the Sample Terms for LRV Terms of Referecne from Jorge Lichauco,” Limcaoco stated in his cover letter. A copy of both the ToR and Limcaoco’s cover letter were obtained by the Tribune. According to the Tribune source, Lichauco’s TOR is so stringent it would have disqualified other suppliers who could offer lower price for the project, including the winning bidder, China’s Dalian Locomotive & Rolling Stock Co. CNR Group.


The deal fell through because of the delay in the drafting of the ToR that would have been used for the bidding. Vitangcol, the source said, actually contemplated on using Lichauco’s ToR as it had come from his superior, had it been transmitted earlier. “If GM Vitangcol received Lichauco’s ToR as early as January or February this year, he might have used it,” said the source. “But by the time it was transmitted by Usec Limcaoco in April, the ToR for the bidding for MRT3’s new coaches was already posted in the DoTC website,” the source averred. “It was too late to change that,” the source added. http://www.tribune.net.ph/headlines/mrt‐3‐up‐for‐rebid‐opens‐door‐for‐inekon                                


Palace distances itself from CoA order to 4 senators to return ‘pork’ • •

Written by Tribune Sunday, 02 February 2014 00:00

Under pressure for its involvement in another highly controversial “pork,” Malacañang has opted to distance itself from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations of at least four senators. Deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte yesterday said an order to at least four members of the upper chamber to return their PDAF or pork barrel allocations is strictly a matter between the lawmakers and the Commission on Audit (CoA). According to her, the Palace cannot compel the four to comply with the CoA

order since senators are from a co-equal branch of government. “The Palace does not have the power to compel the senators to comply, knowing the senators belong to a separate and co-equal branch of government,” Valte said on staterun dzRB Radyo ng Bayan. “This is a matter between the CoA and the four senators who were issued notices of disallowance,” she added. Earlier reports indicated the senators had been linked to a multibillion-peso pork barrel scam after their PDAF allocations were alleged to have been funneled to bogus nongovernment organizations. But the CoA, under its chairman, Grace Pulido-Tan, was exposed as having sought funds coming from Malacañang through the Disbursement Accelaration Program (DAP) for the purchase of cars for its officials, as well as for computers and other office


equipment. Also, it was alleged that the DAP has been utilized by the budget agency and the President to reportedly “bribe” congressmen and senators to impeach and convict then Chief Justice Renato Corona, giving P50 million to a 100 million each to the senators, and passing these funds off as additional pork barrel funds from the DAP. The constitutionality of DAP is being challenged before the Supreme Court. PNA http://www.tribune.net.ph/headlines/palace‐distances‐itself‐from‐coa‐order‐to‐4‐senators‐to‐ return‐pork                                   


Lawmakers propose add’l sick, vacation leaves for MTC judges • •

Written by Charlie V. Manalo Sunday, 02 February 2014 00:00

House members are seeking the granting of additional 15 days sick leave and 15 days vacation leave benefits for judges of the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, Municipal Circuit Trial Courts and Shari’a Circuit Courts on top of the 15 days sick leave and 15 days vacation leave privileges provided for by law. Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and his brother, Abante Mindanao Rep. Maximo Rodriguez Jr., filed House Bill 3318, which will put them at par with their colleagues in the regional trial court and Shari’a District Court. The Rodriguezes cited Section 271 of the Revised Administrative Code, as amended by Republic Acts 1802 and 4307, otherwise known as “An Act to Amend Section Two Hundred Seventy-One of the Revised Administrative Code, As Amended, Relative to Vacation Leave of Judges of First Instance,” wherein judges of the Court of Tax Appeals, Regional Trial Courts, Family Courts and Shari’a District Courts earn 60 days leave credits, 30 days of which are forfeitable and spent exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. “Judges are routinely expected to put in more than eight hours in their offices, excluding the work they sometimes bring to their homes. These long hours of work over a long period of time affects the emotional, mental and even psychological well-being of judges,” Rodriguez said. Rodriguez said these judges need to take time out as a respite from their voluminous


workloads. The need to provide additional forfeitable leave benefits to the members of the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, Municipal Circuit Trial Courts and Shari’a Circuit Courts cannot be over emphasized. Under the measure, judges of the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, Municipal Circuit Trial Courts and Shari’a Circuit Courts shall be entitled annually to additional 15 days sick leave and 15 days vacation leave. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays shall be excluded and the additional leave privileges shall be non-cumulative and non-convertible to cash. The Supreme Court is directed to promulgate the rules and regulations for the effective implementation of this act. http://www.tribune.net.ph/nation/lawmakers‐propose‐add‐l‐sick‐vacation‐leaves‐for‐mtc‐ judges                               


DA chief on 3 plunder raps: They’re political harassment • •

Written by Ed Velasco Sunday, 02 February 2014 00:00

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala is convinced that the plunder charge against him is both politically motivated and aimed at harassing him to prevent the reforms he is instituting at the department. Since becoming Agriculture secretary in July 2010, the 58-year-old former three-term congressman of Quezon province is now facing three plunder charges and one for violating anti-graft and corrupt practices act. “(Parehas po. Marami pong salamat) Both. Thank you very much,” Alcala told the Daily Tribune in a text message when asked if he believes that the charges against him are both politically-motivated and meant to harass him. The latest plunder charge against Alcala was filed by lawyer Argee Guevarra last Jan. 23 in connection to his alleged amassing of over P1 billion ill-gotten wealth. National Agribusiness Corp. president Honesto Baniqued is co-accused in the case. Prior to that, Alcala was also sued for graft for alleged rice importation from Vietnam that was overpriced by over P450 million. The head of the National Food Authority, Orlan Calayag, is co-accused in the crime. In October last year, the secretary, along with President Aquino, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and several John and Jane Does were also slapped with plunder charge for their alleged involvement in the multibillionpeso pork barrel scam. In May last year, Alcala’s mortal political rival, Ramon Talaga Jr., filed violation of antigraft and corrupt practices act charge against the secretary for misappropriating P3.5


million from his pork barrel when he was still congressman. Talaga said the secretary was able to divert the funds through the Sir Pelagio Alcantara Development (Spade) Foundation Inc. However, the secretary didn’t respond to queries regarding what reforms he has been leading at the DA. The DA, then under Arthur Yap, was at the center of the storm when former undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante allegedly led in diverting over P720-million worth of fertilizer funds to select allies of former President Gloria Arroyo in the House of Representatives in exchange for “killing” the impeachment charges filed against the former president. http://www.tribune.net.ph/nation/da‐chief‐on‐3‐plunder‐raps‐they‐re‐political‐harassment                            


Tents distributed to school kids affected by ‘Yolanda’ in N. Cebu • •

Written by Tribune Sunday, 02 February 2014 00:00

Jardine Distribution Inc. turned its efforts to help schoolchildren affected by super typhoon “Yolanda” in Northern Cebu. In cooperation with the Department of Education (DepEd), JDI distributed 15 tents in Northern Cebu to be used as makeshift classrooms. Edwin Hernandez, president and general manager of Jardine Distribution Inc., explained that the company chose to focus on helping the children in Yolanda-affected areas after talks with the DepEd through Undersecretary Mario Derequito. “Resuming the school activities of kids is really an important part of helping families and communities recover from the effects of the typhoon. By contributing in this way to the rehabilitation efforts, we are empowering communities to return to their normal way of life,” said Hernandez, adding that education is always a priority in the company’s CSR projects. Previously, JDI also helped schoolchildren affected by Yolanda in Leyte. The company distributed a thousand learner kits to schoolchildren in Yolanda-hit areas. “Yolanda destroyed schools and swept away learning materials. The typhoon took away a vital part of the lives of so many children. We believe that by helping them resume their education, they will feel that there is hope, and they can move on to fulfill their dreams,” said JDI marketing manager Peachy Tiu. Jardine Distribution Inc. represents a number of local and global companies that provide world-class crop protection and construction chemical products. They are focused on


the safe use of these products, providing technical support, and with due consideration of environmental protection. http://www.tribune.net.ph/nation/tents‐distributed‐to‐school‐kids‐affected‐by‐yolanda‐in‐n‐ cebu                                          


CONDEMNED Published : Sunday, February 02, 2014 00:00 Written by : Efren Montano

MALACAÑANG is disturbed by the discovery of the remains of three child warriors following clashes between the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and government troops in Maguindanao province. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte condemned the practice of using child soldiers which violates international laws. “Kahindik-hindik ang balita na may tatlo sila ginagamit na child soldiers, beyond the fact that it violates so many laws not just ours but of international laws. We condemn the practice of using child soldiers... Walang lugar ang paggamit ng menor de edad,” Valte said. The Palace official said the government can address the situation through child support services, as well as the commitment of its security forces that they will not use child soldiers or warriors. But she also asked parents to make sure their children are not recruited for such exploitation. “(S)a magulang, pakiusap natin sana huwag natin payagan ang anak, huwag natin payagang magamit sa ganitong paraan,” she said. Earlier Valte also condemned the use of an improvised explosive device in an


attack which seriously injured at least 12 people including media men in Maguindanao province. (See related story on Provincial section) Valte also urged the media to coordinate with officials on the ground especially in areas where fighting is likely to take place. Initial reports of Saturday’s incident showed at least 12 people were injured in an IED explosion in Maguindanao. Two were identified as TV5 reporter Jeff Caparas and his cameraman Adrian Bulatao. An assistant cameraman was unhurt in the explosion. Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the blast occurred in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town. Hermoso was quoted as saying they suspect the BIFF to be behind the attack. The BIFF is a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and had been linked to recent attacks in Mindanao following the signing between the government and MILF of an annex that would pave the way for a comprehensive peace pact. In the meantime, Valte appealed to media agencies to abide by a safety protocol and to cooperate with government representatives such as the police and the military, especially in controlled areas.   http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/headlines/66372‐condemned                     


Restricted Published : Sunday, February 02, 2014 00:00 Written by : Lee Ann P. Ducusin AFTER the declaration of the state of emergency in Bangkok and other areas stemming from the series of protests calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Ying Luck Shinawatra, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration has banned the deployment of newly-hired overseas Filipino workers to some selected areas in that country. The POEA’s Governing Board issued a resolution banning the deployment of newly-hired OFWs intending to work in four specific areas in Thailand. “The POEA Board, in a meeting after consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs, has approved a resolution to this effect,” announced Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, chairman of the POEA Governing Board. The members of the board who signed the resolution were Hans Leo J. Cacdac, POEA Administrator and Governing Board Vice-Chair; Felix M. Oca; Estrelita S. Hizon; Alexander E. Asuncion; Milagros Isabel A. Cristobal, Members. On Jan. 23, the DFA raised crisis Alert Level 2 (Restriction Phase) in Bangkok, the Thai capital; Nonthaburi Province; Lad Lum Kaew District (Pathumthani Province); and Bang Phli District (Samutprakan Province), in view of the declaration of a 60-day state of emergency due to the escalating civil unrest and insecurity in the said areas. “In view of this, the Governing Board decided to impose a temporary suspension on the processing and deployment of newly-hired OFWs bound for these areas in the Kingdom of Thailand,” Baldoz explained. Under Crisis Alert Level 2, only the processing and deployment of returning OFWs with existing employment contracts are allowed and the processing and deployment of newly-hired OFWs are suspended. “We strongly advise our OFWs in Thailand to be 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,” the labor chief added. POEA records show the annual deployment of OFWs to Thailand has declined from 9,204 in 2012 to 6,021 in 2013. Of the 6,021 OFWs deployed to Thailand last year, only 252 are new hires, while 5,769 are re-hires.   http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/66388‐restricted                                      


2 rice firms ‘identified’ with smuggling ‘godfather’ top NFA import permit list Published : Sunday, February 02, 2014 00:00 Written by : Paul M. Gutierrez Starcraft International Trading and Bold Bidder Marketing and General Merchandise, two rice trading companies closely identified with alleged rice smuggling “Godfather,” David Tan, are on top of the list of private rice traders and cooperatives given import permit by the National Food Authority (NFA) last year. NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag, in a letter to Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner John Philip Sevilla last January 8, confirmed that Starcraft and Bold Bidder were given an allocation of 5,000 MT and 3,560 MT, respectively, covered by two import permits (IP) each. Of their allocation, the NFA said Starcraft had already brought in 1,175.70 MT and Bold Bidder, 600 MT, both from Thailand. In all, the NFA last year granted 132 IPs to 15 private rice traders and cooperatives covering 65, 217.50MT of rice of which, 17,691.45MT have already arrived. These shipments are to come from Thailand and India. Others given IP, their allocations for rice coming from Thailand are Intercontinental Grains, 6 IP, 2,200MT; Pacific Rim Harvester, 11 IP, 5,000MT; Universal Pacific Food, 7 IP, 4,800MT; San Carlos MPC, 6 IP, 5,000MT; Malingas MPC, 9 IP, 5,000MT; RMJR Ricemill, 10 IP, 5,000MT; Cebu Lite Trading, 6 IP, 5,000MT; Evergreen Cereals, 11 IP, 5,000MT; Veramar Ricemill and Trading, 2 IP, 2,350MT; and, Purefoods Inc., 1 IP, 5,000MT. Those to come from India are San Miguel MPC, 29 IP, 5,000MT; Kwin Rice Trading, 19 IP, 5,000MT; and, Aaron’s Trading, 11 IP, 3,807.50 MT. During the Senate investigation on rice smuggling last January 22, Department of Justice Sec. Leila de Lima and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Virgilio Mendez, said they have established that David Tan, the so-called ‘Goliath’ of rice smuggling, is the same person as ‘Davidson Bangayan.’


Bangayan appeared at the hearing to deny he is David Tan. But thru witnesses interviewed by the NBI, Tan’s “business partner,” Willy Sy, and his lawyer, Benito Salazar, the Senate committee on agriculture chaired by Sen. Cynthia Villar had established that Bangayan and Tan are the same person. Bangayan also admitted he is into rice trading thru ‘joint venture’ partnership with farmers’ cooperatives but denied he is into rice smuggling. Starcraft early this month managed to get separate court injunctions in Davao and Manila that forced the BOC to release its rice shipment loaded into 167 container vans at the Port of Davao. In the case of Bold Bidder, BOC Commissioner Sevilla revealed that the company managed to secure a court injunction in a Batangas court ahead of the actual arrival of its rice shipment. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/66385‐2‐rice‐firms‐identified‐with‐ smuggling‐godfather‐top‐nfa‐import‐permit‐list                          


House OKs Ilocos ecozone, freeport Published : Sunday, February 02, 2014 00:00 Written by : Christian D. Supnad VIGAN CITY, Ilocos Sur -- The House committees on economic affairs and trade and industry have approved the establishment of the Ilocos Sur Special Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (ISSEZFA) in the municipalities of San Juan and Cabugao, in the province of Ilocos Sur, it was reported yesterday. With this, Ilocos Sur (1st District) Rep. Ronald Singson said the committee on economic affairs is now finalizing the bill prior to the endorsement by the ways and means committee for its funding. The proposed area of special ecozone and freeport lies along the West Philippine Sea and northern part of Ilocos Sur which is very accessible to the neighboring countries like Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Japan and South Korea, said Rep Singson. “If there is anything clear in the world market of investments and to the community of investors, it is this: A country must look beyond the traditional way of doing things. It must innovate to create opportunities where and by which it can give investors the maximum value of their investments,” said Congressman Singson in his explanatory note in his bill in Congress. A son of former governor Luis “Chavit” Singson, the young solon and elder brother of Gov. Ryan Singson said the “bill seeks to achieve this by establishing the Salomague Freeport which shall cover the entire Salomague Cove and area embraced by the barangays of Dardarat, Solotsolot, Surgit and Refaro in the municipality of San Juan as well as Dardarat, Pila, Sagadayen, Salomague, Sabang, Namruangan, Salapasap, Daclapan, Pugos, Turod and Baclig in the municipality of Cabugao, all in the province of Ilocos Sur.” “The concept and objective is to develop the Freeport area into a selfsustaining industrial, commercial and investment center that will put in place a wide reaching employment and investment generation mechanism, all to strengthen the trading and foreign exchange position of the country. On the whole, it is looking at effectively complementing an announced aggressive export-oriented thrust of the country, thus, enhancing the country’s global competitiveness,” Singson pointed out.


“As envisioned, the Salomague Freeport shall be operated as a separate customs territory that will basically provide incentives to ensure the free flow and movement of goods and commodities within the Freeport area and their exportation therefrom. Likewise it shall provide tax-based incentives for business activities and concerns locating and operating within the freeport premises, not to mention other non-tax benefits like liberal exchange policies and the grant of permanent resident status to investors,” he added. Singson noted that “the competitive markets around are now moving fast already leaving the country behind. The performance of South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore had always been a source of envy despite limited resources they have compared to the abundance our country enjoys. And now Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia are surging ahead, outpacing even other Western countries.” “There are physical geographic and natural attributes to the Salomague area that can make the creation of freeport ideal. Salomague cove is a natural harbor and haven for international ships during inclement weather. There is a channel that hugs the semicircular shorelines that is appropriate for marine vessel traffic. Not to be forgotten is that, it is probably the only port closest to Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan. It is large that it can sit dozens of vessels at any one time. It is close to an international airport in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte and a local airport in Vigan Ilocos Sur,” Singson added. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/66406‐house‐oks‐ilocos‐ecozone‐ freeport                    


Villar files Exact Change Act Published : Sunday, February 02, 2014 00:00 Written by : Jester P. Manalastas THE practice of most supermarkets and groceries of not giving their customers exact change will soon be punishable by law. Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar, whose family is also engaged in retail stores, has filed House Bill 3606 or the Exact Change Act which main purpose is to protect consumers from trade malpractices and substandard/hazardous practices of some business establishment in the country. According to Villar, the failure to give the change or the exact change to the customers constitutes a trade malpractice that must be stopped. “The practice of giving insufficient change or giving no change at all to consumers by product sellers or service providers is something that is often taken for granted. This is usually because the change involves only a matter of five, ten, fifteen, or twenty centavos, or small bills, which when added up at the end of the day, amount to thousands of pesos,” Villar said. Under the bill, it is unlawful for any business establishment to give insufficient change or no change at all to consumers who purchased or received products or services, even if the change is centavo. The bill also clearly states that it is the duty of the business establishment to give the exact change to the consumer without waiting for the consumer to ask for the same. Likewise, the bill provides that it is unlawful for any business establishment which sells products or provides services to give the change in any other form other than the present currency or to ask the consumer’s permission of not giving them their change of small bills or coins. Villar also proposed the putting “Demand Your Exact Change” reminder in the stores to remind the consumers. “These establishments shall also put signs in conspicuous places within the establishment or reflect in the official receipts issued, the taxes incorporated in the retail price per unit or services. This is to avoid misleading the consumer as to the exact price they have to pay for the goods or services


and consequently, the exact change due to them,” Villar added. Penalties to be imposed include fines of P500 for the first offense, P5,000 for the second offense and P15,000 for the third offense and suspension of business license for three months. For the fourth and last offense, the violators will be slapped with P25,000 fine and revocation of business license. The Department of Trade and Industry is mandated to ready the implementing rules and regulations. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/66365‐villar‐files‐exact‐change‐act                                  


Palace can’t force four senators to return pork Published : Sunday, February 02, 2014 00:00 Written by : Efren Montano

MALACAÑANG yesterday said the issue involving four senators and their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations is out of its hands. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte told Palace reporters yesterday that the Palace cannot compel Senators Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan to comply with the Commission on Audit order since the senators are from a coequal branch of government. “Kami, wala kaming power of compulsion, knowing the senators belong to a separate and coequal branch of government (The Palace does not have the power to compel the senators to comply, knowing the senators belong to a separate and coequal branch of government),” Valte said on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan. “This is a matter between the CoA and the four senators who were issued notices of disallowance,” she added. Revilla, Enrile, Estrada and Honasan have been sent notices by the CoA to return the millions of pesos from their pork barrel allotments that were illegally diverted to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs). CoA Chair Grace Pulido-Tan has confirmed her agency has sent notices of disallowance to the four senators, and some others, concerning at least P6 billion of their pork barrel entitlements from the PDAF that went to the questionable NGOs from 2007 to 2009. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/66377-palace-cant-force-four-senators-toreturn-pork

   


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