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SC stops release of smuggled rice in Davao By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 26, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) yesterday effectively stopped the release of rice imports seized by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) at the Port of Davao last year. SC spokesman Theodore Te said the high court has issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) enjoining the Davao City Regional Trial Court (RTC) from enforcing its Dec.12, 2013 writ of preliminary mandatory injunction ordering the BOC to release rice imports it earlier seized due to lack of import permits. “The TRO is effective immediately and until further orders from the Court,” Te announced at a press briefing. The SC granted the immediate relief sought in the petition filed by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Customs Commissioner John Philip Sevilla assailing the writ issued by Judge Emmanuel Carpio of the Davao City RTC Branch 16. Te said the SC “considered as meritorious” petitioners’ arguments that they were not given adequate representation in the RTC hearing on the case and that the owner of the shipment, businessman Joseph Ngo, had no legal standing to sue the government in court. Judge Carpio and Ngo have been given 10 days from receipt of notice to answer government’s petition. Stakeholders in the agriculture industry immediately welcome the SC intervention on the case. BOC’s Sevilla said that the SC’s issuance of TRO was good news to them, and better news for farmers. “We earnestly hope the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) could help us secure similar rulings for the Manila and Batangas regional trial courts whose injunctions have helped smugglers,” he said. The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag), an umbrella group of agriculture stakeholders, lauded the TRO, which they said would bolster the government’s campaign against rice smuggling. “This is a positive development in our campaign against smuggled rice. It has always been our position that the quantitative restriction on rice, which requires importation permits, is still in effect,” Abono party-list chairman and Sinag president Rosendo So said in a statement.

“These smugglers are not just evading tax payment. They are also manipulating the price of domestically produced rice. They buy local rice, hoard it, and then sell it at a higher price. They are acting like a cartel in manipulating the price of rice,” he added. So also urged the high court to act on their group’s administrative complaint against Judge Carpio for ordering the release of the shipments despite BOC’s seizure orders. The assailed writ of the respondent judge directed the release of the 13 rice shipments which arrived between Oct. 21, 2013 to Nov. 4, 2013 containing a total of 126,600 bags of rice at the Port of Davao. The rice shipments were purchased by Ngo from Starcraft International Trading Corp., which is believed to have links with alleged big-time rice smuggler Davidson Bangayan. Petitioners, through Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, said the RTC’s writ was against National Food Authority Memorandum Circular No. AO-2K13-003 and would result in unhampered entry of smuggled rice coming from various countries. They said there is a need for the issuance of a TRO enjoining the implementation of Carpio’s injunction in order to prevent the entry of “excessive and unquantifiable” amounts of rice into the market. “A sudden surge in rice imports would have catastrophic consequences on the incomes and livelihood security of 2.4 million Filipino farming households,” the OSG argued. The government argued that Ngo cannot anchor his case on the expiration of the WTO special treatment for rice as only member-states can bring suits in case there are violations of the provisions of the agreement. It said that regardless of the status of the quantitative restrictions, the National Food Authority (NFA) has the sole authority to import rice and to authorize private entities to import rice under Republic Act No. 8178, the Agricultural Tariffication Act. “The WTO Agreement does not produce any direct and automatic effect on the Philippine domestic law. The agreements entered into during the WTO negotiations are matters and obligations among states, while the NFA provisions are matters of Philippine domestic law – between the government and its citizens,” petitioners stressed. – With Evelyn Macairan

Gov't to relocate displaced families in typhoon-hit areas to permanent houses ( | Updated February 25, 2014 - 10:00pm

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - The government will start next month relocating to permanent homes families displaced by Typhoon Haiyan, President Benigno Aquino III said today. During his visit to Tanauan town in central Philippine province of Leyte, Aquino said that initially 50 permanent housing units will be available by the second week of March and 50 families will be transferred there. "In two weeks, we expect 50 families to move into permanent homes. The other 1,300 can follow suit in the next six months," he said. In Leyte alone, the government will build 25,000 permanent houses and Tanauan town is one of the areas where these houses will be located. Aquino said the national government's post-typhoon Yolanda response is not perfect but it had done its utmost to immediately attend to the needs of the survivors and rebuild the communities as soon as possible. Forty-four of the country's 81 provinces were affected. Aquino denied that there were towns or barangays (villages) that had been left behind in the relief and rehabilitation efforts. Haiyan, which ravaged the country on Nov. 8, left at least 6, 200 people dead and more than 1,700 others missing.

Faster economic growth not possible sans new power investments: official ( | Updated February 25, 2014 - 9:00pm

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - A growing economy by 8 percent would be difficult without new investments in the power sector, a senior government official said today. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said that while the country's power supply is sufficient to cover its needs until next year, more investments are needed to ensure that the Philippines' power requirements beyond 2015 are met. "The number one binding constraint in achieving 8 to 10 percent economic growth is power. While the government is already addressing this, we have to invest much more," said Balisacan. "We have enough (power) up to 2015 but not enough to really make you comfortable because the reserve is still thin," he added. Balisacan said ensuring power supply is key to sustaining the growth of the manufacturing sector which can generate more jobs. Last year, the country's gross domestic product (GDP) growth reached 7.2 percent despite the series of calamities that struck the Philippines. The Philippine Statistics Authority said the services and industry sectors boosted the country's economy. This year, the government is targeting to grow GDP by 6.5 to 7. 5 percent.

Miriam se eeks inclus sion o of SA ALN in n FOI bill By Christin na Mendez (The e Philippine Star) | Updated February F 26, 20 014 - 12:00am

M MANILA, Philippines - Se en. M Miriam Defensor-Santiago o ye esterday called for the inclusion of th he statementt of asssets, liabilitties and net worth (SALN)) and the mo onthly income of pub blic officials in th he Freedom of Informatio on (F FOI) bill now w pending in the Se enate. Sa antiago also o wanted to include in the measure a prrovision man ndating all go overnment a agencies to pu ublish and m make availab ble for download in their respective websites w suc ch informatio on as the au udited financcial statemen nts and budg get and expe enditure reco ords of the respective r go overnment a agencies, ass well as the SALN of public officia als with sala ary grade 27 and above, pursuant to o Republic A Act No. 6713 or the Code e of Conductt and Ethicall Standards of Public Offficials and E Employees. Santiago o also pushed for the inc clusion of the e monthly inccome, includ ding allowan nces and sou urces of income e, of all publlic officials with w salary grrade 27 and above. Santiago o urged Sen. Grace Poe, sponsor of the FOI bill,, to also include in the co overage of F FOI bill the pe erformance review resullts of govern nment agenccies, as presscribed by th he Anti-Red T Tape Act (Republic Act No o. 9485) and other releva ant laws. As autho or of the prop posed Magna Carta for Philippine P In nternet Freed dom, Santiag go said the government should maximize m the e use of the Internet and d information n and comm munications technolog gy (ICT) in disseminatin d g informatio on, and prom moting transp parency in go overnance. “Governm ment agencies should prrovide for an nd maintain ttheir own we ebsites whicch would allo ow the public c to view and download public inform mation on th he plans, pollicies, progra ams, and relevant documents and a records of their offic ce,� she said d. o said she is determined to push for the adoption n of her ame endment in tthe FOI bill Santiago despite opposition o fro om some law wmakers.

Santiago also wanted government agencies to maintain in their websites the mechanisms to allow for the public to provide feedback, lodge complaints, or report instances of malfeasance or misfeasance, including anonymous feedback, complaints or reports. The agencies are also required to take appropriate steps to protect persons making feedback, complaints or reports from retaliation or persecution. Some sensitive personal information, such as an individual’s health records, sexual life and religious, philosophical or political affiliations, should be excluded from the coverage of the right to information under the FOI bill, she said.

Ex-S SC jus stice says Cha--cha e efforts s in Hou use co onstittution nal (The Philip ppine Star) | Up pdated February 26, 2014 - 12:00am

Retired R Suprem me Court associate justice A Adolf Azcuna

MANILA, M Phillippines - Re etired Supre eme Court as ssociate jus tice Adolf Azzcuna believves efforts in n the House H of Rep presentative es to amend the restrictivve economic pro ovisions in th he Constitutiion are valid d. Speaking S beffore the Hou use committe ee on co onstitutional amendmen nts, Azcuna, a member o of the co ommission tthat drafted tthe Constitu ution, yesterd day sa aid a resoluttion of the tw wo houses o of Congress is “sufficien nt” to propose changes to the Constiitution. Speaker Feliciano Be elmonte Jr. has h filed a re esolution se eeking to incllude the phrrase “unless otherwise e provided by b law” to Artticles XII (Na ational Econ nomy and Pa atrimony), X XIV (Educatio on, Science and Techno ology, Arts, Culture C and Sports) S and XVI (Genera al Provisionss) to allow Congress s to ease res strictions on n foreign own nership in ce ertain industries. The prop posal require es that the Senate and th he House vo ote separate ely. Azcuna said s Article 17 1 Section 1 of the Cons stitution doess not say tha at the Senatte and the H House of Representatives need n to hold a joint session to propo ose amendm ments to the C Constitution. “I examin ned the prop posed bill – itt is not an orrdinary legisslation that iss being prop posed here, iit is a proposal that says ‘p pursuant to Article A 17’,” he h said. s that Congrress, while on o the mode of making o ordinary legisslation, is exxercising its “It signals constitue ent powers. If I you were to t omit that phrase, p then n your propo osal is of dou ubtful validityy. But it is there e, therefore you y are exerrcising consttituent powe ers when it ccomes to pro oposing amendments.” Azcuna said s he does s not want to o limit the po owers of Con ngress beyond what the Constitution n says. “While it’s true that in n some insta ances, Congress should meet jointlyy when it tacckles nonlegislative matters, th here is no ge eneral provis sion that sayys that Cong gress should d meet jointlyy,” he said. – Paolo Romerro, Evelyn Macairan http://ww om/headline es/2014/02/2 26/1294613/e ex-sc-justice e-says-cha-ccha-effortshouse-co onstitutional

DOJ J chie ef stan nds by b Rub by By Edu Punay (The Philip ppine Star) | Up pdated February 26, 2014 - 1 2:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Depa artment of Ju ustice (DOJ) is stand ding by the ccredibility of witne ess Ruby Tua ason despite e her denia al of involvem ment in the P900 0-million Mala ampaya fund scam m. Secre etary Leila de Lima said the DOJ has accepte ed the testim mony of Tuason that sh he did not po ocket over P242 million n in kickbackks from the scam – contrary to earlie er findings off the Nationa al Burea au of Investigation (NBI)) based on n statements s of whistle-b blowers led by Benhur L Luy and docu umentary prroof gathered d. “Her prov visional cove erage in the WPP (Witne ess Protectio on Program)) applies to b both the PDA AF (Priority Developmen D nt Assistance e Fund) scam and Mala mpaya scam m,” De Lima told reporte ers yesterday. De Lima stressed Tu uason’s qualification as state s witnesss would still depend on a assessmentt of the Office e of the Omb budsman, which w is curre ently conduccting prelimin nary investig gation on the e plunder and a other ch harges relate ed to both sc cams. “Just like e Dennis Cun nanan, her status s as sta ate witness iss provisional because th he final say o on the matte er lies with th he Ombudsm man,” De Lim ma said, refe erring to form mer Technollogy Researrch Center director gene eral Dennis Cunanan C who revealed tthe details o of the pork ba arrel scam involving several law wmakers. De Lima said Tuason n is set to co ome up with a suppleme ental affidavit on the Mallampaya sca am. uilino “Koko”” Pimentel IIII earlier exprressed reserrvations on T Tuason’s tesstimony on tthe Sen. Aqu Malampa aya fund. Tuason was w among those t charged for plunder in the Ma alampaya ca ase. Based o on evidence gathered d by the NBI,, including th he statements of Luy, sh he allegedly pocketed ovver P242 milllion in kickbacks. Tuason earlier e agree ed to return only o P40 million to the g overnment.

Cunanan to the hot seat The Senate, on the other hand, would resume its hearings on the pork barrel scam issue with Cunanan invited to appear before the Blue Ribbon committee on Thursday. Committee chairman Sen. Teofisto Guingona III said he has spoken with De Lima, who confirmed Cunanan would be allowed to testify in the next hearing. Guingona said the committee is just waiting for the submission of documents related to Cunanan’s testimony so that he could review them before the hearing. So far, Guingona said Cunanan would be the only resource person invited. However, the whistle-blowers led by Luy could still be invited to the hearing if there is a need to corroborate the statements of Cunanan. This would be the second time that Cunanan would appear before the Blue Ribbon committee. He was present during the Sept. 12, 2013 hearing but did not say much at the time. Guingona said there were several other resource persons during that hearing so there was no time to address Cunanan. Cunanan has qualified as a state witness after providing testimony about his alleged conversations with Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, the former chief of staff of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile. Cunanan said he personally spoke with Estrada and Revilla over the phone and that they were pressing him to approve their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) projects that would be implemented by the non-government organizations of Napoles. Estrada and Revilla have both denied talking to Cunanan and lobbying for the approval of their projects at the TRC. The two senators claimed they do not know him. – Marvin Sy

Ban ngayan con nfined d in Laoag hosp pital By Teddy Molina M (The Ph hilippine Star) | Updated February 26, 2014 - 12:00am

David Bang gayan

LAOAG C CITY, Philipp pines – The head of the Laoag Citty General h hospital (LCG GH) yesterda ay confirmed d that suspeccted rice sm muggling king g David Ban ngayan is co onfined in the hospital and being trea ated for backk pain and lo oose bowel movemen nt. LCGH dirrector Franciis Dacuycuyy said Banga ayan, suspected d to be smug ggler David Tan, was respondin ng well to me edication. Earlier, Bangayan’s B lawyer l told the t Senate committee c on n agriculture e headed byy Sen. Cynthia Villar that his client was w confined d at the LCG GH. The committee resum med investig gation of the rice smugglling issue lasst Monday b but Bangaya an failed to appear. a Dacuycuy said that he h advised Bangayan B to remain in th he hospital ffor further tre eatment and d observation. Bangaya an was reporrtedly admittted to the ho ospital last S Sunday. The STA AR learned th hat Bangaya an arrived he ere last Satu urday on a P Philppine Airllines flight. Dacuycuy said that he h could not yet say whe en Bangayan n would be rreleased from m the hospittal. hevyl Fariñas expressed d surprise up pon learning of the prese ence of Laoag City Mayor Ch an in the loca al hospital. Bangaya Fariñas said s she didn n’t know his purpose in seeking s trea atment here instead of M Manila where e he is based.. Hospital officials hav ve barred new wsmen from m interviewin g Bangayan n. om/headline es/2014/02/2 26/1294611/ bangayan-cconfined-laoa ag-hospital http://ww

UN relief chief to assess typhoon recovery efforts in Phl ( | Updated February 25, 2014 - 7:00pm

UNITED NATIONS (Xinhua) - The UN under-secretary- general for humanitarian affairs, Valerie Amos, is scheduled to begin a two-day visit to the Philippines this week to assess the effect of response nearly four months since Typhoon Haiyan struck the island country, said a UN spokesman here yesterday. "During her visit, she will meet with government representatives and humanitarian partners, and she plans to travel to the hard-hit areas of Guiuan and Tacloban," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said at a daily news briefing here. "Despite progress made in the government-led relief operation, millions of people still require urgent assistance to rebuild their lives and livelihoods." Amos visited the Philippines twice last November to see the impact of the disaster and to ensure adequate support for humanitarian assistance. Typhoon Haiyan has left 5,632 people dead in the Philippines, with some 14 million others being impacted, according to the Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

DOH H: No flesh h-eatin ng sk kin dis sease e in Philippines By Louis Bacani B ( | Update ed February 25, 2014 - 5:05pm m

MANIILA, Philippin nes -Don't p panic, folks. There e is no truth tto reports th hat a "mysterrious flesh--eating illnesss" is now sp preading in Panga asinan or in any part of the country, the Depa rtment of He ealth (DOH) said Tuesda ay. "Therre is no repo orted case off 'flesh-eating' skin d disease in th he country ye et. Absolutelly no reaso on for the public to panicc," DOH Secc. Enriqu ue Ona said d in a statem ment, allaying g fears that may ha ave been cau used by prevvious reportts. Ona mad de the clarific cation after two t people in Pangasina an who were e supposedly afflicted w with the "flesh h-eating" illness were rec cently featurred in a late--night televission news program. According to the DOH, the first patient, p a 21--year-old wo oman from S Sta. Barbara town, is acttually on multi-drug therapy y for leprosy y at a regiona al health uniit. The seco ond patient, meanwhile, is a resident of Villasis ttown who acctually has a case of sevvere psoriasis s, a chronic skin s disease e characteriz zed by red pa atches covered with whiite scales. But while e dismissing the reports on the alleged mysterio us disease, Ona also re eminded the public to seek medical attention if suffering from skin illn esses. est through cchanges in th he skin. It is good to con nsult "There are a lot of diseases that may manife ors or go to the t nearest barangay he ealth unit wh hen we need d medical ad dvice and our docto treatmen nt. Let us ava ail of the free e healthcare e service in o our health fa acilities," Ona a said. http://ww om/headline es/2014/02/2 25/1294422/d doh-no-flesh h-eating-skin n-diseasephilippine es

Philippines prrotestts Chiina's waterr cannon incide ent in Pana atag S Shoal By Louis Bacani B ( | Update ed February 25, 2014 - 3:27pm m

Philippine Foreign n Affairs Depa artment spoke esman Raul Herrnandez gestu ures as he ansswers question ns from reporte ers during a press co onference at F Foreign Affairs headquarterss in sub burban Pasay, south of Man nila, Philippiness on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. The Ph hilippines has ccalled in a Chinese envoy to o prottest what it sa ays was the firiing of a water cannon by a Chinese governm ment vessel on n Filipino fishe ermen in a disp puted sho oal in the South h China Sea. A AP/Aaron Favila

MA ANILA, Philip ppines - The e Departmen nt of Foreign Affa airs (DFA) w will be filing a diplomatic protest against China aftter its coast guard reporrtedly fired water w cannon ns at Filipino o fishermen tto drive them m away from the disputted Scarboro ough Shoal. At a telev vised press briefing on Tuesday, T DF FA Spokespe erson Raul H Hernandez ssaid they have summoned the charg ge d'affaires of the Chine ese embasssy here to prrotest Beijing g's efforts to prohibit Filipino F fishe ermen from doing d fishing g activities in n the shoal, locally know wn as Bajo de e Masinloc c or Panatag Shoal. "The Dep partment like ewise strong gly protests the t acts of h harassment a and the man nner by whicch these we ere committe ed by China to forcefully drive away Philippine fishing vesse els from Bajo o de Masinloc c," Hernande ez said. According to the DFA A, two Filipin no fishing bo oats were ha arassed by th he Chinese coast guard vessel with Bow Num mber 3063 la ast January 27 2 in Bajo d e Masinloc. Hernandez said the Chinese C ves ssel continuo ously blew itts horn and a and doused the local fishing vessels with w water ca annons for several s minu utes. It was the e first time a water cann non was fired d at Filipino ffishermen in n disputed w waters, accorrding to Hernandez. bout nine sim milar reports of harrasme ent incidentss of Filipino ffishermen we ere He said last year, ab ed by vessels of the Chin nese civilian n maritime la aw enforcem ment agency, even during g bad committe weather conditions. epartment ve ehemently protests p the acts a of China a when its la aw enforcem ment vesselss "[T]he De drove aw way Philippin ne fishing vessels seekin ng shelter in the Philippin nes’ Bajo de e Masinloc d during inclemen nt weather," Hernandez said. s

Bajo de Masinloc, which is just over 200 kilometers off Zambales, is part of the Philippine territory and exclusive economic zone, according to Hernandez. He said the disputed fishing area is an ntegral part of the Philippines and over which the country exercises sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction. "Philippine fishing vessels have been routinely, continuously, and peacefully and sustainably fishing in Bajo de Masinloc," Hernandez said. Earlier today, President Benigno Aquino III said the Philippines will ask China to explain the incident but it will first send a diplomatic message to the government of the Asian giant. "I think it is proper for us to ask them exactly what this incident was all about, what their intentions are," Aquino said at a televised media interview at the sidelines of the 28th anniversary rites of the People Power Revolution in Cebu. Read: PNoy: Phl to ask China to explain water cannon incident The Philippines and China are locked in a territorial dispute over the South China Sea, with the Asian giant citing centuries-old maps to back up its claims on the contested waters, believed to be rich in oil and gas, and its landforms. While Manila is pressing its sovereignty over parts of the South China Sea, Beijing is trying to own virtually the entire disputed waters through its nine-dotted-line claim. The Philippines has filed an arbitration case before the United Nations International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea regarding its maritime dispute with China. -with AP

Chiina offer o rs PH H 'ca arrot'' to q quit cas se BY


POSTED ON O 02/26/2014 4 3:01 AM | UP PDATED 02/26/2014 8:54 AM M H HIS CALL. Chin na wants the Ph hilippines not to o su ubmit its written n pleading to IT TLOS, sourcess tell R Rappler. Will the e President givve in? File photto by B Benhur Arcayan n/Malacañang P Photo Bureau

M MANILA, Philippines – In a last-ditch a attempt to derrail a historicc case, China a has o offered the Ph hilippines inccentives such h as th he mutual witthdrawal of sships from the e d isputed Pana atag (Scarbo orough) Shoa al, so ources told R Rappler. C China wants tto stop the Philippines fro om s ubmitting its written plead ding, called a memoriall, to the International Tribunal for the Law L of the Se ea (ITLOS) b by March 30,, these sourcces said. Asked forr comment, the Chinese Embassy E said it has “no iinformation to o offer” abou ut this. But forme er national se ecurity advise er Roilo Gole ez said China a is “worried”” about the m memorial. “In fact, they're ev ven offering a carrot so th hat we don't submit s on the e deadline,” h he said. The “carrrot,” he said, is the offer to o mutually withdraw from the shoal in the conteste ed West Philippine e Sea (South h China Sea). Golez told d Rappler he e got this info ormation from m one of the b back channe els in the marritime dispute e, but refused to o reveal his source. s Panatag is now practiically occupie ed by Chines se ships follo owing a tense e standoff in 2 2012 where the Philippine es withdrew its ship. At le east 3 Chines se coast guarrd ships are in the area, b based on late est military re eports. There e are local an nd fishing ves ssels there to oo. (READ: P PH military be eefs up Scarborough) A former congressma an in touch with several so ources on the e dispute, Go olez helped cconvene the West Philippine e Sea Coalition, which sta ands “in dignified defiance e of China.” In July 2013, the group e even

led a protest that forced the Chinese consulate to temporarily close “for security reasons.” (READ: Filipinos tell China: Bad feng shui to take what isn't yours) He is not alone in making the claim about China's offer. Two insiders in government also confirmed this to Rappler. China's offer 'not enough' Behind the scenes, President Benigno Aquino III convened his entire Cabinet in the last week of January to discuss China's offer, according to a source privy to government meetings held in relation to this. It was a closed-door session that the Palace did not announce. Through a lawmaker who acted as a backdoor negotiator, China reportedly offered not only the mutual withdrawal from Panatag, but also more investments. This issue divided the Cabinet. Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario stood by his position to pursue the case, the source said. When asked if the Philippines is considering not to submit the memorial, another insider said, “At this time, no.” This Palace source explained the Cabinet wasn't happy with China's offer to withdraw from Panatag. “With what's on the table, there's not enough.” The issue, after all, “did not start there,” and is “just a manifestation of an earlier problem.” The government's other concern, according to the source, is that the offer came from a backdoor channel. It was possible that the negotiator talked to the wrong people. The source said the Palace, however, is not completely closing its doors on China's offer. To submit the memorial is Aquino's choice in the end. In any case, a senior government official said the situation “will get worse before it gets better.” “China is doing everything it can to make things difficult for us,” the official said. The Philippines last year brought the territorial row before the ITLOS after it said it “has exhausted all political and diplomatic avenues for a peaceful negotiated settlement of its maritime dispute with China.” In February 2013, China formally rejected the arbitral proceedings. But its refusal will not necessarily impede the proceedings, according to Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). (READ: Top maritime judge to hear PH case vs China)

China strresses nego otiations P POLICE BARR RICADE. In Julyy 2013, policem men b block protesterss from going near the building g that h houses the Chiinese consulate e. File photo byy L LeANNE Jazul//Rappler

C Chinese Emb bassy spokessman Zhang Hua ttold Rappler he has “no in nformation to o o offer” about tthe reported proposal to w withdraw from m Panatag. ((READ: China e envoy arrivess as PH dead dline looms) ““China stays committed to o solving disputes tthrough nego otiations with the countrie es directly co oncerned,” Zhang Z said. He added d, “The Chine ese side has actually repe eatedly expo ounded on itss position reg garding the Philippine es' arbitration n on the Soutth China Sea a, and our po osition [of reje ecting arbitra ation] remains unchange ed.” Despite th his, the Philip ppines said itt is bent on submitting s itss written plea ading. In a me edia briefing on Tuesday, February 25 5, Departmen nt of Foreign Affairs spokkesman Raul Hernandez ssaid the Philippine es is “preparing” to submiit its memoria al by March 3 30. The Philip ppines' lawye er in its case against Chin na, Paul Reicchler, said th he memorial ““will be subm mitted to the arb bitral tribunal on time, thatt is, on or before March 3 30, 2014.” “I am awa are of no reason why this s would not happen,” Reicchler said in a an e-mail to Rappler. Strong case vs 'sign n of weaknes ss' When ask ked how difficult this case e is compare ed to others, tthis lawyer o of more than ttwo decadess said: “Every ca ase is differen nt, and prese ents different challenges a and opportun nities, so I wo ould not wan nt to compare the Philippin nes/China cas se to any oth her.” “I will sim mply say that the t entire leg gal team thatt has been en ngaged by th he Philippiness believes th hat the Philip ppines has a strong case, both on juris sdiction and o on the meritss,” Reichler ssaid. (READ: PH lawyer on n China: Bein ng 'int'l outlaw w' has its pric ce) In contras st, Golez said d, China's offfer is “a sign of weaknesss, because th hey're worrie ed.”

“Why should we reward them for withdrawing from our own territory, from our own exclusive economic zone? They should not be rewarded,” he said. “Number two, if we don't file according to the deadline, that will diminish our standing in the ITLOS. Because if we're delayed, that means we don't hold enough documents, right? So that might weaken us. It's like an ordinary case. When you ask for a postponement, that means that you lack the materials, and you still need materials,” he added in a mix of English and Filipino. Deciding not to file the memorial, Golez explained, “might affect us irreversibly.” “If they withdraw today, they can come back tomorrow. There's no parity in the possible exchange of concessions,” he said. – with reports from Natashya Gutierrez/

‘I have two hands’ COMMONSENSE By Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 26, 2014 - 12:00am

Last Monday, I had the distinct privilege to meet and have brief talks with Admiral Harry Harris Jr., commander of the United States Pacific Fleet based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He arrived Sunday night in Manila where he held official talks with senior military officials here led by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista and Navy chief Vice Adm. Jose Luis Alano. During his overnight visit here, Adm. Harris was awarded by the Philippine Navy with Military Civic Action Medal for his meritorious achievement during the conduct of immediate response and relief operations for the victims of super typhoon “Yolanda” that struck Eastern Visayas on Nov. 8 last year. As commander of Pacific Fleet, Adm. Harris was recognized for his effective and efficient exercise of command and control over the US Navy vessels and assets throughout the duration of their operations in the waters of the provinces of Samar and Leyte. This was just a few weeks after he was installed in his command in October last year. The US Pacific Fleet boasts of having more than 60 percent of the total US naval forces and assets and 106 of these are warships under the command of Adm.Harris. Currently, he disclosed, the US is “re-balancing” its forces under the so-called “pivot” in Asia, with the Philippines, Japan, South Korea among the countries within its coverage. He announced the holding in July this year of the Rim in Pacific (RIMPAC) where China, the Philippines, Brunei and 20 other countries will be participating in the world’s biggest naval exercises in Hawaii. For the first time, he said, China accepted their invitation “because we want to work together with them.” While here in Manila for a short visit, Adm. Harris presumably conducted talks also about the “enhance defense cooperation” agreement that will give US forces access to military facilities in the Philippines, including its former bases in Subic and Clark. By way of anecdote, Harris met his wife in 1985 in Subic where she was posted as an American naval nurse. Before his official meetings, Adm. Harris accepted a brief sit-down interview with The STAR at the US Embassy in Manila. In the course of our interview, the commander who calls the shots for more than half of America’s naval forces stationed in this part of the world reiterated the US commitments under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the Philippines. Even after the abrogation and closure of American military bases here in our country since 1991, Adm.Harris could not stress more the importance of the Philippines in the task of the US to keep stability and security in the region. “I would like to forcefully underscore, highlight, emphasize that we take our obligations under the Mutual Defense Treaty very seriously and we will live up to those obligations,” Adm. Harris

declared. But Adm.Harris turned to usual cliché among American military top brass when I pressed him whether the US would be ready to fight alongside their MDT partner should China decide to seize areas that belong to the Philippines under international laws. ”I’m not going into hypothetical. I will just simply state again that we understand our obligations under Mutual Defense Treaty and we will live up to those obligations,” he swore. Little did I know that same early morning, the AFP chief of staff along with US Ambassador Philip Goldberg were the guests in the breakfast forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) at the Mandarin Hotel in Makati City. At that forum, Gen. Bautista revealed a Chinese Coast Guard used water cannons against Filipino fishermen in the disputed Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal. The incident happened last January 27 and was only recently reported to authorities by the Filipino fishermen who were driven away from Panatag Shoal, an area within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. The AFP tried to downplay the incident and described it as nothing that would require military action to similarly drive away the bullies from the disputed territorial waters in West Philippine Sea. Showing diplomatic training honed in the course of his assignment at the US State Department, Adm. Harris sought to tone down the tension in South China Sea, citing the ongoing efforts by the American government to engage China to help in keeping the peace in the region. As far as Adm. Harris sees it, the US government as continued by the administration of President Barack Obama, is “not trying to create a new cold war with China” in the manner done to Russia by previous American administrations. The commander of the US Pacific Fleet lauded the Philippine government under President Benigno “Noy” Aquino III has been doing its share to keep China’s behavior in check. He especially recognized the Philippine government efforts to exhaust all diplomatic and peaceful means to resolve the overlapping claims. He obliquely referred to the Philippine initiative to bring to international arbitration the South China Sea conflict but which Beijing refuses to recognize. On the part of the US, Adm. Harris cited the military-to-military visits and meetings between top brass of the Pacific Command and their Chinese counterparts. The most recent involved US Army chief of staff Gen.Raymond Odierno who met with Lt.Gen. Wang Ning a few days ago in Beijing. “I think it is optimistic signal. What we’re trying to do is to be honest with all of our friends and allies. And we are trying to be honest with China and that’s one hand,” he pointed out. Adm. Harris though admitted the US government and he himself as Commander of the US Pacific Fleet view with concern the lack of transparency of China in the military sense, especially with its recent unilateral decision to impose the controversial Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).

“On the other hand, we want to have a strong and positive relationship with China,” he pointed out. Noticing his repeated choice of words, he wisecracked: “It’s a good thing that I have only two hands!” Had I known about the latest incident in Panatag Shoal before this interview, I would have a good rebuttal to his “I have two-hands joke.” Will the US commitment under the MDT to help defend the Philippines in any armed attack hold water in this water cannon incident?

P-Noy: Abuse A of po ower c continues By Delon Porcalla P (The Philippine P Star) | Updated Feb bruary 26, 2014 4 - 12:00am

President Aquino leads the 28th anniv versary celebrration of the pe eople power re evolution at th he Cebu provin ncial capitol in Cebu C City yestterday. Joining g him are (from m left) actor D Dingdong Danttes, Sen. Bam Aquino, Butz Aquino, Se ecretary to the e Cabinet Jose e Almendras, Interior Secrettary Mar Roxa as, Defense Se ecretary Volta aire Gazmin, Executive E Secrretary Paquito Ochoa, Cebu u Gov. Hilario Davide III, Ce ebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpa ale and other officials.

MANILA,, Philippines s - Twenty-eiight years affter the EDS SA revolution n, abuse of p power remains a stumbling g block to the reforms ne eeded for the country to o achieve tru ue democraccy, Presidentt Aquino said s yesterda ay. The Pres sident said Filipinos F shou uld be proud d of the turniing point in h history when n power wass regained from a dicta atorship. “But the specter s of th hat era still re emains in th hose who are e brazen eno ough to think themselve es above jus stice, and th hose who value their own n self-interesst above the e needs of our country,” Aquino said s in his me essage durin ng the EDSA A anniversarry celebratio on in Cebu yyesterday. The Pres sident was in n Cebu for th he traditional “Salubunga an” or reena actment of th he merging o of various fo orces, includ ding the milittary and civilians, which led to the d downfall of th he Marcos regime in n 1986.

Aquino urged the public to continue defending integrity, truth and values, which his parents – the late Cory and Ninoy – believed were inherent in every Filipino. “Twenty-eight years ago, our battle against tyranny and oppression reached a tipping point. Our people showed the world that we could emancipate ourselves as a united force without the need for bloodshed. The People Power Revolution has become a cornerstone of our identity. Because of it, we have become a more compassionately assertive and consensus-driven society.” Aquino yesterday also reminded key players in the EDSA People Power uprising and the public that it was the whole nation, not just Metro Manila, that toppled the Marcos dictatorship in 1986. “It was not only at EDSA where the uprising took place. There were also (uprisings) in other places like in Cebu and Davao. I think it’s time to recognize the contribution of these places.” Aquino, who was only 26 years old during the first EDSA revolt, said it’s time to correct the mistakes in history, as he acknowledged there are officials more senior than him who should be reminded of what EDSA really was. “I’d like you to recall there were those who said the uprising against Marcos occurred only in Metro Manila,” he said as he justified the reason for celebrating the EDSA anniversary in the Visayas and Mindanao. “I want to highlight that it was not only in Metro Manila or NCR. There were similar uprisings in other places, that it was the whole nation that revolted against the dictatorship in 1986.” He said most of the key players in the EDSA uprising who were more senior than him were invited to the celebration. “I saw former President Fidel Ramos participating in one of the activities. He showed his traditional ‘jump’.” Sources claimed this year’s celebration was not held in EDSA as the government did not want to invite Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, a key player in the bloodless revolution, who is among three senators the government has charged with plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the multibillion-peso pork barrel fund scam. Aquino also visited yesterday Cebu’s Bantayan Island, one of the areas hardest hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda and the 7.2-magnitude earthquake. He inspected at least 100 motorized and non-motorized bancas donated to fishermen whose boats were destroyed in the typhoon. The boats came from non-government organizations including Gawad Kalinga and the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation Inc., among others. The President also led the turnover of checks amounting to more than P5 million under the cash-for-work program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development to 2,200 beneficiaries.

In Tanauan, Leyte, Aquino visited the Tanauan I Central School, which was rehabilitated by the Korean Joint Support Group and the Philippine Army’s 53rd engineering brigade. He led the groundbreaking for a memorial honoring the victims of Yolanda, and for the rehabilitation of the town’s public plaza. Permanent relocation sites had been planned for 1,500 houses with multiple sites planned to ensure closeness to livelihood locations. The first site in Pago Village will accommodate 360 houses and community facilities. By March 8, some 50 families would be moved here. Two sites in Maribi and Sacme villages will accommodate 460 and 300 houses respectively, while a fourth site is being finalized. The Tanauan I Central School had been rehabilitated as of Feb. 12 while work on other schools will go on until November this year. On Monday Aquino visited Cateel in Davao Oriental, which was devastated by Typhoon Pablo in 2012, and Loon in Bohol struck by a powerful earthquake last October.

Don’t lose hope, Pinoys urged For his part, Vice President Jejomar Binay said this year’s EDSA anniversary celebration was not given much support and attention compared with previous years. He refused to speculate why the EDSA anniversary was held in the provinces, particularly in Cebu. He merely laughed when asked if he was invited to the Cebu festivity. Binay urged Filipinos not to lose hope and continue to fight even as reports of graft and corruption persist 28 years after the 1986 EDSA People Power revolt. “Let us not change our views. What is important is that we will always remember, seeking, searching and hoping for what we had fought for in EDSA,” Binay said during a wreath-laying ceremony at the People Power monument in Quezon City yesterday. He stressed the importance of commemorating the event, noting that it allows the younger generation to learn about the sacrifices of those who participated in the peaceful uprising against Marcos. He said the celebration shows Filipinos know how to value debt of gratitude. Binay said because of EDSA, Filipinos earned the respect of the world. “It is only there that they saw EDSA changing lives through peaceful means,” he said as he urged Filipinos to make sure the spirit of EDSA would never be forgotten.

Workers disgusted The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) warned of another people power revolt as workers expressed disgust over the alleged failure of post-EDSA leaders to bring change and make life better for Filipinos. “Workers will never give up the union spirit of collective action. With the whole system serving the interest of the few, we have no choice but to keep the people power option our ultimate recourse to effect true change,” said PM chairman Renato Magtubo. The 1986 People Power revolt, according to Magtubo, gave the country a chance to move forward and provide Filipinos with better lives. Yet, he said the chance was allegedly wasted and bungled by the post-EDSA leaders. Magtubo said every Filipino who participated in the People Power revolt must be recognized for making EDSA 1 and 2 possible. He said post-EDSA leaders, however, failed to make life better for the masses. “Behind EDSA’s democratic façade were indisputable facts about its failed outcomes,” he said. Magtubo said former President Cory Aquino and her son, President Aquino, were unable to move the country away from influence of business groups. He said Cory left the presidency with a power crisis while her son might finish his term in 2016 with the same problem on high power rates and thinning power supply. – With Jose Rodel Clapano, Reinir Padua, Mayen Jaymalin

Mag guinda anao mark ket ge ets P5 5-M improvem ment By John Un nson (philstar.c com) | Updated d February 25, 2014 - 3:31pm m

Gov. M Mujiv Hataman of the Autono omous Region n in Muslim m Mindanao (m middle) and Ma ayor Ramon P Piang, Jr. officciate the cerem monial start off a P5 million-w worth markett improvementt project that w would benefit Muslim m and indigeno ous non-Moro entrepreneurss in the hintterland Upi mu unicipality, loccated in the firsst district of Maguindan nao. (John Un nson)

MAGU UINDANAO, Philippines - Officials launch hed Tuesdayy a P5-millio on market improvvement proje ect in the ba astion of the indige enous people e in the Auto onomous Re egion in Muslim m Mindanao in line with the t commem moration of t he first EDS SA revolution n. The imprrovement of the public market m of Upi town, locatted in the firsst district of Maguindana ao, is funded out o of the Spe ecial Purpos se Fund of th he office of A ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hatam man. Hataman n and Upi Ma ayor Ramon n Piang, Jr. jo ointly led the e ceremonia al groundbrea aking for the e market project, beforre leaders off the indigen nous ethnic T Teduray com mmunities. The even nt was also witnessed w by y local Moro o residents frrom differentt areas in Up pi, known homeland of ARMM’s non-Moro Teduray people. Hataman n said the pro oject is a special “EDSA A spirit coope eration ventu ure” of the A ARMM government and offic ce of Piang, who is an ethnic Tedura ay chieftain. Hataman n said the pro oject is mea ant to hasten n the socio-e economic em mpowermentt of the indigenous people (IP) in Upi, the fastest risiing municipa ality in ARMM M in terms o of socioeconomic c, and politic cal developm ment. Hataman n was accom mpanied to Upi U by lawyerr Kirby Abdu ullah, who is helping ove ersee the ARMM's inter-agency y Humanitarrian Emerge ency Action a and Relief Team, and th he region's natural re esources secretary, Kah hal Kedtag. “This market project is also inten nded to bring g to the conssciousness o of the IPs an nd Moro secttors in this mu unicipality th he importanc ce of the `ED DSA I’ solida arity context.. Unity and ccooperation w will help acce elerate the socio-econom s mic growth of o this area,”” Hataman ssaid.

Piang said the local communities are grateful to the ARMM government for its generosity in providing Upi with projects and other interventions needed to improve the socio-economic condition in its more than 20 barangays. Piang, a former member of the government’s peace panel negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, helped craft the power-sharing annex to the Oct. 15, 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro. Piang and Hataman, in a brief meeting before the launching of the market project, agreed to embark on more dialogues among Maguindanao’s IP sectors, and the GPH and MILF panels to allay apprehensions about possible political marginalization of non-Moro groups under a Bangsamoro political entity. “We shall exhaust everything to ensure that the IPs in the autonomous region will not be left out in the peace process. The government and MILF had already assured no such thing will ever happen,” Hataman said.

Phl grow wth seen at 7.5-8 8% thiis yea ar By Louella D. Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Update ed February 26 , 2014 - 12:00a am

MANILA A, Philippines - The Philippine e economy is seen to expand at a much fa aster pace of 7..5 to eight perccent this year to o be supported d by higher in nfrastructure sp pending and ro obust consump ption.

“We ex xpect the econ nomy to grow w by 7.5 to eig ght percent this year,” First F Metro Invvestment Corrp. president Roberto Juan nchito Dispo said s during th he Philippine Chamber of C Commerce an nd Industry y’s General M Membership M Meeting yeste erday. The econo omy expande ed 6.5 percent in the fourth h quarter whicch brought fulll-year gross d domestic prod duct (GDP) gro owth to 7.2 pe ercent in 2013 3. Full-year GDP G growth last year is much m higher th han the 6.8 pe ercent in 2012 2. Dispo said d the governm ment’s allocattion of P404 billion b for infra astructure spe ending this ye ear, up 37 perrcent from last year, y is seen to boost the business b environment and d improve the country’s com mpetitivenesss. Following the damage brought by Super Typhoon Yolanda to parts of the ccountry last ye ear, rehabilita ation works are e estimated to o cost P361 billion, which will w likewise su upport economic activity. Dispo said d the governm ment’s flagshiip Public Priva ate Partnersh hip program, w which is seen n to accelerate e, would like ewise supportt the economy y. Aside from m higher infra astructure spe ending, he saiid robust conssumption amid rising conssumer confide ence, increasing g tourist arriva als as well as s resilient overseas Filipino o workers rem mittance flows and growth in business process outso ourcing emplo oyment, woulld also drive tthe economy to accelerate e this year. arge, the Philiippines contin nues to be atttractive becau use of sound macroeconom mic fundamen ntals “By and la but there are risks,” he said. nfrastructure, he cited, heig ghtens the co ountry’s vulne erability to cala amity. The underdeveloped in er shortage an nd high electrricity costs are e likewise see en as risks, and are among g the concern ns of The powe investors. d the local currency is also o a risk, and fiinding a balan nce will be ne eeded to ensu ure that all se ectors Dispo said benefit. 45 for the bala ance to bene fit the econom my,” he said. “Ideally, itt should hover at P44 to P4 In the sam me event, Inte ernational Bus siness researrch director D an Steinbockk said the prosspects are bright for Asia as well as the Philippines. m/business/20 014/02/26/129 94478/phl-gro owth-seen-7.5 5-8-year http://www

Agrarian reform and economic development: ‘equity’ with efficiency CROSSROADS (Toward Philippine Economic and Social Progress) By Gerardo P. Sicat (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 26, 2014 - 12:00am

In last week’s column, I gave the background to land reform. CARP, which will be under scrutiny for extension by June 2014, will surely evoke more discussions. “Raul Fabella’s critique. The thought-provoking paper of Raul Fabella on land reform provides a starting point, and I summarize the salient points of his critique below: (a) The objective of redistributing large holdings of agricultural lands, 5.05 million of 5.37 million hectares by 2014 will have been accomplished, according to government target. This accounts for 99 percent of the announced target in hectarage. (b) However, CARP has failed to achieve the purpose of uplifting the economic welfare of farmer recipients. It has simply created a new class of farmers: “the landed poor.” (c) This sad outcome is the result of many design and implementation flaws of the CARP. (d) The paper recommends that CARP refocus its objective toward efficiency by correcting the design flaws in the program. (Literally, this means: stop the redistribution where it is at, move on and allow greater flexibility in the use of the land asset to enable greater efficiency in agricultural production.) (e) Among these moves, the operation of larger agro-industrial firms that trade their stocks in the Philippine stock exchange without land ceiling would permit greater agricultural output and productivity. Below, I elaborate on three elements of this critique. There will be other occasions to go over other issues that relate land reform with development issues. “Elaboration 1: productivity and size of farms.” An important contribution of Raul Fabella’s work is the review of evidence on land reform, both international and local that have relevance to the Philippine experience. International studies on farm size and economic efficiency supported the “small size of land is beautiful” thesis. Such studies showed that small land sized farms are positively related to greater productivity. However, later studies after 1988 appeared to have questioned this conclusion. When a previously omitted variable, “land quality,” was introduced to these earlier works, the conclusion turned the other way – that larger farms are more efficient than smaller ones.

Successful economic outcomes in terms of land size on key attributes attributed to the factor of production. It could be quality of “land” or the “human” factor. Such distinctions relate to the nature of the inputs brought into land cultivation or the ability (technical/managerial/entrepreneurial) of the farmer-manager. When these are taken into account, land size appears not to matter. As to the studies of Philippine farms under the land reform experience, many of them have not provided highly supportive evidence of success as hoped for by CARP. Even though they were undertaken under the stimulus of CARP, they do not give a resounding vote in support. In general, the comparative performance of farms that are recipients of CARP have lower average productivity than non-CARP farms. Certainly, this says much in terms of outcomes, especially since the government has been spending a lot of government resources in support of promoting institutions and practices that help the CARP. Most of the studies of the land reform experience with respect to large size are on rice and staple food crop agriculture. Yet, the land reform phenomenon covers a wide range of agricultural crops. For many of these crops, large requirements of land have been the practice. Their breakup into small units – even when managed under a cooperative organizational framework – has disrupted the traditional production relationships. “Elaboration 2: agrarian reform land is a frozen financial asset.” The design of the CARP provides that the land, while under way to final titling to the beneficiary, is part of a collective title to all recipients of land reform, the CLOAs (Certificate of Land Ownership Awards). The title is, however, still a long time coming. It takes years of amortization payments before the land could be fully paid. The CLOAs are essentially a collective title to the land recipients. Each recipient cannot separately use the title to enable access to formal credit. Hence what it represents is a frozen financial asset as far as the legal credit institutions are concerned. For instance, the farmer-recipient cannot borrow from a bank using his claim as collateral. If the land-reform recipient could make use of the land asset, the farmer could adjust his situation to his needs. Such freezing of asset from other forms of negotiability hampers the value of award as land reform recipient. The farmer is definitely handicapped and farming efficiency is prevented. Yet, to the poor farmer, the payments for the land represents a large portion of his work effort. Given that access to formal credit is denied, the farmer’s recourse is to turn to informal channels of credit where costs are so much higher and the outcome for them is worse. Reports of illegal market transactions based on land abound. They cannot be neglected. “Elaboration 3: unstable property rights result in uncertainty and low investments in agriculture.” These conditions have permeated the country’s agricultural sector over the years.

When CARP was extended to all forms of crop agriculture, the immediate adverse impact was on corporate farming. Many of the plantations in tree planting (forestry, rubber trees, palm trees, coconut) were thus affected. Plantations with foreign direct investment in bananas, palm trees, rubber, pineapples and so on were likewise affected. Though these were few in numbers, they further discouraged this form of investment in agriculture. Moreover, this certainly clouded further the investment environment for the corporate sector engaged in plantation agriculture. Instead of land reform creating a magnet for agricultural development, the program has hampered such growth. The weak record on the growth of corporate farming in the country is evidence of this negative impact. Land reform should strengthen property rights. But the experience is that it threatened these on a wide scale in agriculture. Thus, it has instead shaken the stability of property rights. Recipients of property rights through the grant of land transfers had been unable to make use of those rights to give them greater flexibility in their efforts to meet their needs. The potentials for agricultural growth have not been fully realized. Instead of agriculture becoming a magnet for investments, there has been capital flight from agriculture. My email is: Visit this site for more information, feedback and commentary:

In catch up mode, daw! DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 26, 2014 - 12:00am

Administration insiders I have talked to in recent days open the conversation by saying that they are now in catch up mode, specially in the infrastructure area. I shouldn’t worry too much about DOTC, some of them reassured me, because P-Noy is already on their case. Then they laugh and say that perhaps my nagging has finally started to bear fruit. They tell me they themselves can’t figure out what’s wrong with DOTC but that P-Noy is starting to get annoyed at the non-performance. They tell me too that P-Noy is aware that he is in the tail end of his term and he needs to show some concrete accomplishments as legacy. I am told that the President realizes that for the public, they rate a President based on infrastructure he has built. That’s why P-Noy is now on catch up mode. I reply that to see is to believe. They have gone this far in P-Noy’s term without building even a waiting shed at DOTC. There is nothing I can see, short of a P-Noy tantrum, that will make them change their ways. Then again, even if a presidential tantrum happens, they are likely to run out of time. Senate Finance Committee chairman Chiz Escudero announced a Senate investigation on the do-nothing DOTC. I doubt if he can find out anything substantive by calling the DOTC top brass. Those people already have their scripts ready to justify their lack of concrete performance. Nothing is happening at DOTC because the de campanilla lawyers Mar Roxas brought in at the top of the department don’t know what they are doing. They are lawyers, not engineers and DOTC is an infra agency that needs engineers… civil engineers, mechanical engineers… electrical engineers not lawyers in key positions. And even as lawyers, they may be great corporate lawyers who can advice clients how to go around our Constitution’s foreign ownership restrictions but they apparently know nothing about how to craft proper bidding documents. The communications between bidders and the DOTC lawyers expose the technical deficiency of the lawyers. In fact, they should talk to bidders who bought expensive bid documents but decided not to bid after spending a lot of money preparing their bid. The credible international bidders backed out of the MRT 3 bidding for the rail cars. This resulted in a so-called public bidding with only one bidder that is now raising eyebrows. The LTO computer system is the same thing. After three failed biddings, the reputable bidders have backed out, again after buying the expensive bid documents and investing money in bid preparation. Why are bidders backing out at DOTC?

There are those who say the reason for DOTC’s inaction is this fear of the Mar Roxas lawyers/technocrats of being sued at the end of their government tenure. They are so afraid to sign anything which explains why they would rather simulate activity, but do nothing. The thing is, such legal challenges are part of the job for anyone who accepts public office. It may be unfortunate and an unreasonable burden for people with good intentions of serving the public, but it shouldn’t prevent anyone who agrees to take on a government position from making decisions. The irony of it all is that this “segurista” stance has not prevented DOTC from doing questionable things. Coming to mind are the contracts awarded to single bidders in the case of the MRT 3 operations and maintenance (O and M) contract and the supply of train cars by a lone Chinese bidder. The “segurista” mindset is probably also why DOTC is always on “study” mode. All of the pending DOTC projects have been studied ad nauseam in the past. Indeed, a JICA consultant commented in a public forum that he is tired of studying rail and other transport projects over the course of two decades. At some point, I recall him saying, a decision to implement has to be made. There were many so called low hanging fruits or projects that could have been easily implemented by DOTC so that P-Noy can claim some accomplishment before he bows out of office. Building that measly 4-kilometer Masinag LRT2 extension is the most obvious one. I doubt it can be done before June 2016. Nothing is happening on the ground yet. I once sat down with DOTC usec Timmy Limcaoco and we reviewed the timeline of their projects… what are doable within P-Noy’s term. He mentioned the Bicol International Airport in Daraga, Albay as ongoing and deliverable. I subsequently checked with Albay Gov Joey Salceda and he said nothing is happening there. Bola lang pala! The Puerto Princesa International Airport is the first DOTC project approved by P-Noy in October 2010. I haven’t heard the news that it has finally broken ground. Of course we all know about Laguindingan Airport in Cagayan de Oro, a carryover project that was started during Ate Glue’s watch. P-Noy inaugurated it even as it was hardly complete. It didn’t have navigational facilities so it operates under visual flight rules. Weather is unpredictable in that area so flights are cancelled once too often. It is now known as Hindi Malandingan Airport. Not to forget, Mar Roxas promised night landing facilities in several domestic airports to help relieve congestion of day time flights in NAIA. Not one airport will get that soon. The MRT 7, a PPP project of San Miguel is also taking too much time within the bureaucracy. This time, DOTC is washing its hands of any responsibility, pointing instead to DOF. A project that started years ago, MRT 7 had to undergo another NEDA processing when the Aquino administration took office.

I can appreciate the need for re-negotiating some portions of the contract to protect the public interest since a DOF financial undertaking is required. But after long renegotiations and the project finally got cleared by NEDA for the second time, nothing has happened yet. San Miguel is still waiting for the DOF undertaking. When some reporters asked Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima what is holding it up, he said the papers were sent to Malacañang for P-Noy’s signature many weeks ago… only after P-Noy signs it will Purisima sign the financial undertaking. But isn’t P-Noy the chairman of NEDA? Isn’t a NEDA approval a P-Noy approval as well? Given that this is a vital infra project that will open up an underserved area of Bulacan, why does it have to take the slow route to P-Noy’s desk? Despite the Makati RTC dismissing the case filed by MTRC, the MRT 3 legal problems are not over. There is the arbitration case in Singapore. They could have saved themselves a lot of problems if DOTC played ball with Manny Pangilinan. MVP offered to take responsibility for the MRT 3 rehab, including the procurement of the train cars (saving government billions in capex) and give a royalty to government too. But DOTC insisted on doing it (I wonder why?) and ignored the legal issues involved. It’s a mess. The bidding for the computer system seems headed to the courts too. Some local bidders feel discriminated by an anti Filipino provision in the terms of reference. And what is this I hear that DOTC specified that the new system will no longer let us get our drivers license renewals within an hour in the LTO mall offices but 30 days by mail? DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya says the car license plates will be delivered starting next month. That seems to be good news but again, to see is to believe. They have said that months ago too and nothing happened. Sec. Abaya also promised to make NAIA 3 usable by May in time for the World Economic Forum to be held here, even if completion is by July yet. Six international airlines are set to be relocated to NAIA 3 so most of the delegates won’t have to see the hellhole known as NAIA 1. Again, to see is to believe. The Aquino administration is in a catch up mode, they tell me. I have seen no evidence that DOTC folks now have a sense of urgency. If the President is serious about delivering some concrete achievements, he will have to light a huge fire under the asses of the jackasses running his infra agencies. Frankly, I am not sure P-Noy is capable of that. He babies his cabinet members too much. PNoy accepts excuses for failure. Catch up mode, they say? It is all press releases until concrete results are there for everyone to see. Frantic call

A husband frantically calls hotel management from his hotel room, “Please come fast I’m having an argument with my wife and she says she will jump out the window of your hotel…” The manager responded, “Sir that’s a personal matter...” Husband: “The window won’t open! That’s a hotel maintenance matter!” Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is Follow him on Twitter @boochanco

Imports down d sligh htly in n ’13 By Louella D. Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Update ed February 26 , 2014 - 12:00a am

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine imp ports declined d slightly in 201 13 from a ye ear ago, the P Philippine Statiistics Authorityy (PSA) said.

The PS SA said yeste erday the co ountry’s impo orts were valued at $61.7 713 billion la ast year, dow wn 0.7 perce ent from the $62.129 9 billion in 20 012. For the month of De ecember alo one, imports amounted tto $5.294 billion, also lower than tthe $5.3 billion in the same month in 2012. Compare ed to Novem mber’s $5.236 6 billion, imp ports rose sl ightly by 1.1 percent in D December. “The neg gative growth h resulted fro om the decre ease in impo orts of the fo ollowing major commodity groups: feeding f stufff for animals, electronic products, p ind dustrial macchinery and e equipment, iiron and steel, and transp port equipme ent,” the PSA A said. Electronic products, which had th he biggest share s in impo orts for the m month at 22.6 percent, fe ell 7.3 perce ent to $1.196 6 billion in December D 20 013 from $1. 289 billion in n the compa arable month h in 2012. A noted that China was the biggest source s of imp ports in Deccember last yyear. The PSA Goods purchased by y the country y from China a amounted tto $776.49 m million, up 29 9.9 percent from the $597 7.74 million in i December 2012. The PSA A said total external e trade e in goods re eached $ 9.8 894 billion in n Decemberr, 6.7 percen nt higher than the $9.27 71 billion in the t same mo onth in 2012 2. w down slightly s and exports e climb bed year-on--year in Deccember. Imports went The coun ntry’s merchandise expo orts grew 15.8 percent to o $4.599 billion in Decem mber 2013 from the same e month in th he previous year. y As a resu ult, the balan nce of trade in goods forr December 2013 registe ered a deficit of $695.01 1 million fro om $1.330 billion b in Dec cember 2012 2. http://ww om/business s/2014/02/26 6/1294481/im mports-down n-slightly-13 3

MGB B-NBI team m dism mantlles ille egal b black k sand min ning operat o tion By Czeriza a Valencia (The e Philippine Sta ar) | Updated February 26, 20 014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines P - A composite team m of the Miness and Geoscien nces Bureau (MGB) and the N National Bureau u of Investigatio on (NBI) has dismantled d the remaining g structure used d by Huaxia Mining and Trading Corporation in its illegal m magnetite operrations in Caga ayan province.

This was announced b by the MGB ye esterday on itts website. In Decem mber, the MGB B Region II isssued dismanttling orders against fo our firms in th e province for failing to rem move all equipmen nt, conveyanc ces and structture in their pllant site desp pite the issuan nce of stoppage orders to tthem. The notice es were serve ed after the co omposite team discovered d during joint o operations fro om December 9 to 12 the con ntinued illicit black b sand mining operatio ons of the fou ur companies in the provincce. The firms were given until u Dec. 31, 2013 to volun ntarily disman ntle and clean n their plants o of the structures. The three e other compa anies: Well Re esources Corporation, Lutrra Incorporate ed, and Globa al Express ha ave complied with the notic ce. Magnetite e sand is a co omponent in making m steel. Many blac ck sand miners in the Philippines export to smelters in China. Late in 20 013, the MGB deputized eight agents off the environm mental protecttion division o of the Nationa al Bureau off Investigation n (NBI) to app prehend illega al miners that continue to o operate despiite the issuance of stoppage orders against them. t illegal tran nsport of mine erals from ille egal mining op perations and d file The agents were deputized to stop the es against the e operators. the appropriate charge ompanies continue to unde ertake clandesstine operatio ons despite th he The MGB earlier said that some co issuance of CDOs aga ainst them by courts in resp ponse to the ccomplaints file ed by MGB re egional directtors. nce of illegal mining m has be ecome “an urrgent concern n� in many parrts of The MGB has said that the prevalen the countrry.

http://ww om/business s/2014/02/26 6/1294482/m mgb-nbi-team m-dismantle es-illegal-blaccksand-min ning-operatio on

IFC to sell Plantersbank stake to Chinabank By Donnabelle L. Gatdula (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 26, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - International Finance Corp. (IFC), the private sector investment arm of the World Bank Group, has confirmed the sale of its stake in Planters Development Bank to China Banking Corp. “Chinabank will buy us out. We are willing to dispose it. That’s a very small (share),” IFC representative to Manila Jesse Ang told The STAR. He said they are currently firming up details of the acquisition and would finalize the sale soon. “They (Chinabank) have a process. They are doing the big ones first then the small shareholders. We have less than one percent in Plantersbank,” he pointed out. Chinabank earlier announced it would acquire via negotiated sale the additional 1.961 million shares or 15.23-percent stake in Plantersbank beneficially-owned by Capital Shares & Investment Corp. for P283.7 million. After the acquisition, Chinabank’s holdings in Plantersbank will increase to 86.41 percent from the initial 84.77 percent. Chinabank said it would also acquire via voluntary tender offer the remaining 13.59-percent shares in Plantersbank, including that of the IFC, at substantially the same terms and conditions as indicated in the sale deal.

Last month Chinabank paid P1.58 billion or 84.77 percent out of the total amount of P1.863 billion for the 100 percent stake acquisition of Plantersbank. Aside from Plantersbank, IFC has equity exposures in various financial institutions such as BDO Unibank Inc., Bank of Philippine Islands, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) and PR Rural Bank of Nueva Ecija. Ang said they are eyeing to acquire more rural banks in the near future. “Our 2014 plan include investments in financial institutions. The financial sector is very important to us. We are looking at big rural and microfinancing institutions,” he said. The IFC executive said they would continue to evaluate investment infrastructure opportunities in renewable energy, Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program and other infrastructure projects.

Countries hit by climate change may expect more aid (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 26, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The United Nations Green Climate Fund (GCF) conference held Feb. 1721 in Bali, Indonesia has laid down the groundworks to fasttrack collection of pledges from developed countries and assure balanced allocation for climate change mitigation and adaptation for developing countries. The GCF, known as the fund, is the finance arm of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Last year, it elected Albay Gov. Joey S. Salceda, who represents Southeast Asia and developing countries in the UN body as Board chairman, along with Manfred Konukiewitz of Germany, his counterpart who represents the developed economies, as co-chair. The GCF now hold $20 billion as seed fund, of the $100 billion iut was authorized to rain in previous agreements engineered by the UNFCCC. The just concluded 6th GCF board meeting has gained significant progress in fine-tuning the essential requirements for initial resource mobilization, particularly in collecting the $100 billion pledges of developed countries, deemed to have contributed much to the exacerbation of climate change. Salceda said the GCF’s decisions taken in the conference “ensure that the Fund can help developing countries, the most vulnerable to climate change, to cope with its devastating impacts and become more climate-resilient.” “We need to put in place the essential requirements so developed countries will have the incentives and will have no excuse not to make financial inputs to the Fund, thus resources are mobilized and the developing world can access climate finance for scalable projects and investments,” Salceda said. In Bali, Salceda said the GCF board discussed key elements that went to the formulation of workable support policies for low carbon and climate resilient development in developing countries. The efforts led to the adoption of the Fund’s Result Management Framework, Risk Management and Investment Framework, Accreditation Framework and the Proposal Approval Process. Salceda said the “initial allocation policy sets adaptation at a floor of 50% of total funds, with adaptation allocations being reserved for the most vulnerable countries; and robust efforts that will create a paradigm shift towards sustainable climate resilient, low-emission development.”

At the start of the Bali meeting, Salceda appealed to GCF members as stewards, on behalf of the international community, to keep in mind the Philippine experience from Haiyan (Yolanda), and exert efforts to overcome and transcend differences and ensure progress.

“Indeed, all stakeholders have shown exceptional flexibility that enabled us to make significant progress on the process which all all of us would be glad to report to the Conference of Parties, and more importantly to our people back home,� Salceda added.

He summarized the five urgent issues resolved at the Bali meeting as follows: 1) the GCF, for its initial allocations, will strike a balance between mitigation and adaptation; 2) 50 % of the resources dedicated for adaption from the GCF will go to support the most vulnerable countries in Africa, the Least Developed Countries; and the Small Island Developing States; 3) Provision of incentives to fast track the development of a paradigm shift to low carbon emission for which GCF will maximize its engagement with the private sector;

4) GCF will be in the forefront of gender mainstreaming and will define its gender action plan in October 2014, and; 5) Accelerated Program of Work for Readiness of 154 developing countries given the significant German contribution of $30 million, and the new pledges made by South Korea, $10 million; Italy, $500,000; and Indonesia - $250,000. End

Index barely moves as market consolidates (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 26, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Local share prices barely moved yesterday as the market continued to consolidate following its recent rally. At the Philippine Stock Exchange, the composite index pulled back for the third straight session, shedding less than a point to close at the day’s low of 6,295.55. “The PSEi moved sideways as most investors are locking in gains at the 6,300 level. Corrections are healthy though,” said Freya Natividad, investment analyst at Papa Securties. Prior to the three-day skid, the local barometer was on a six-day winning streak that pushed the main index to 6,352.76, its highest level for the year. Overnight, the S&P 500 touched record levels fuelled by gains in healthcare shares and talks of more mergers as investors shunned softer-than-estimated economic data. The S&P 500 increased 0.6 percent to finish at 1,847.61 after briefly surpassing its previous record of 1,858.71 on Jan. 15. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 103.84 points, or 0.6 percent, to 16,207.14. Decliners beat advancers, 92 to 64, while 51 issues were unchanged. Value turnover slid to P8.52 billion from yesterday’s P10.20 billion, as 3.42 billion were traded. Most actively traded stocks were Megaworld, Universal Robina, SM Prime, BDO and PLDT. Top gainers were Leisure and Resorts, Synergy Grid and Megaworld warrants, while the biggest losers were Jolliville, Primex and Splash.

Security Bank eyes more profits from retail, consumer banking By Donnabelle L. Gatdula (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 26, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Security Banking Corp. (SBC) is eyeing a bigger profit contribution of its retail banking business to 35 percent from the present level of about 20 percent, a top bank official said. SBC president and chief executive officer Alberto Villarosa told a press conference for the launch of the bank’s rebranding initiatives that they expect the retail and consumer banking to account for at least 25 to 30 percent of their bottomline in the next five years. He said after aggressively studying the Philippine market over the past years, the bank is now going into the third major leg of its operation which is retail banking. “We expect significant changes, by 2015 to 2016. Peaking by 35 percent in five years. We made sure the banks foundation is strong. Our initiatives give us another leg,” he said. “Security Bank has been very successful in establishing our corporate banking and middle market. We have built the institution’s financial and corporate state as we had established our presence, we now think it is the opportune time to make our presence in retail banking,” he added. However, Villarosa pointed out that with all these efforts being carried out, they expect a modest growth in income this year. To enhance their retail banking activities, he said they would be putting up at least 24 branches this year and about 10 more each in the succeeding years. From only 117 branches six years ago, the bank now has 244 branches located mostly in strategic areas nationwide. He said they are also eyeing to double their consumer lending by about 10 percent in the next years to complement the bank’s major transformation into a consumer-centric bank. Villarosa said the strategy to focus more on retail banking would also help prepare the bank for regional competition. “Our initiatives are consistent. When regional competition starts to come in we are ready. Opportunity for competition to come in and opportunity for us to go out,” he said. He said the bank is also well-capitalized to support its expansion program at least for the next two years.

“We have examined our capital and we feel that we are well within the Basel III capital requirements in the next 18 to 24 months,� he said. SBC has been growing its business over the past decades. In 2013, the bank posted a 34percent growth in total resources to P348 billion. Loans grew 38 percent to P165 billion while investment securities grew by 30 percent to P83 billion by yearend. Asset quality remained healthy, with a non-performing loan (NPL) ratio of 0.08 percent and NPL cover of 195 percent as of December 2013. Total deposits increased 45 percent year-on-year to P206 billion, supported by the opening of 36 new branches in 2013, 34 of which were Security Bank branches and two branches were of thrift bank subsidiary Security Bank Savings.

Emerging Power eyes Mindoro market By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 26, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Local firm Emerging Power Inc. (EPI) is aiming to become the sole supplier of geothermal energy in Mindoro as it inked another power supply agreement (PSA) with Occidental Mindoro Electric Cooperative (Omeco). Prior to this, EPI has signed an agreement with Oriental Mindoro Electric Co. (Ormeco). Omeco representative Josephine Ramirez-Sato said with the agreement, the plant would greatly impact on the economy of Mindoro. “I am confident that with the advent of sustained and stable power generated from a renewable energy source such as geothermal, Occidental Mindoro will finally be on its way to speedy progress,” she said. The PSAs with Ormeco and Omeco revolve around the construction of EPI’s $180-million Montelago Geothermal Power Plant in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro. The project would provide 40 megawatts of power to the two cooperatives, with each to be supplied 20 MW of electricity. Omeco, a cooperative formed in 1974, supplies electricity to nine municipalities of Occidental Mindoro: Mamburao, San Jose, Abra de Ilog, Calintaan, Magsaysay, Paluan, Rizal, Sablayan and Santa Cruz. For his part, House energy committee chairman and Mindoro Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali welcomed EPI’s investment in the province. “EPI’s move to energize the entire island with geothermal energy will help to make Mindoro the green capital of the Philippines,” he said. Umali said the project would bring down the cost of electricity in Mindoro by 40 percent to only P6.58 per kilowatt-hour from P11 per kwh. “What’s more, we will no longer need subsidy from the main grid. This means consumers from other parts of the country do not need to pay for that subsidy. This will also reduce their electric bill,” Umali said. Sato added that the 40 percent reduction would lead to P2.1 billion in electricity bill savings for the people of Mindoro in four years. “If we keep investing in coal and oil, consumers will be paying P40 per kilowatt-hour by year 2030, based on estimates of the International Energy Agency and The Economist. In contrast, the Montelago Geothermal Power Plant will stabilize the price over the next 20 years and consumers will only pay a maximum of P7.50 by 2030,” she said. The Department of Energy earlier granted a geothermal renewable energy service contract to EPI, which expects to drill by the third quarter of this year and will start providing electricity by mid-2016 .

SMI reiterates commitment to pursue Tampakan project By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 26, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The operator of the proposed $5.9 billion Tampakan copper-gold project in South Cotabato yesterday said commodities giant Glencore Xstrata is still committed to developing the the project, having approved the workplan in the tenement for the year. Last month, the project’s minority stockholder Indophil Resources NL reported that Glencore has expressed interest in divesting its stake in the project, consistent with its preference not to develop greenfield projects. Glencore Xstrata, the project’s majority investor, holds a 62.5 percent interest in the project while Indophil holds a 37.5 percent stake. Indophil is currently 30 percent owned by Filipino corporations. These include the Alsons group through funding by BDO Unibank, the SM group, San Miguel Corporation and Philex Mining Corp. Indophil has said it is committed to preserving the value of the investment either by development of Tampakan, or 100 percent ownership of operator Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI). SMI spokesman Manolo Labor said Glencore approved in December 2013 the work plan for this year, indicating that the global commodities giant still supports the project. “Glencore’s approval of SMI’s 2014 work program and budget illustrates that Glencore continues to fully support the Tampakan project,” said Labor. He said that with the impending sale of Glencore’s Las Bambas copper project in Peru, there would be less pressure on the commodities trader to let go of the Tampakan project. SMI is now waiting for the advise of the interagency working group (IAWG) created within the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) to come up with solutions to problems confronted by the proponents, after which, they can prepare for the filing of documents for the Declaration of Mining Project Feasibility (DMPF). The IAWG is expected to meet this month to deliberate on solutions to the challenges faced by the operator. “The creation of the IAWG was an encouragement for Glencore,” said Labor. “What they really want is a clear pathway for the approvals process.” The DMPF is a document containing an assessment of the commercial viability of deposits. Securing the DMPF is the final step to the commencement of operations. Labor said that the company had signed in September 2013 the ECC issued by the government in February 2013.

It took some time before the company could sign the ECC as it deliberates on the condition of perpetual liability for any environmental damage that occurs within its tenement. After securing the ECC, SMI is still challenged by conflicting agrarian-reform claims within its tenement, the open-pit mining ban in South Cotabato, and the difficulty in securing the Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) of communities that would be impacted by its operations. For this year, SMI would continue to operate under a reduced work plan as it struggles with the permitting process. While a clear pathway for resolving key issues in beginning the project is being created, expenditure in the tenement has been reduced to $1 million a month from $4 million a month under the previous work plan. Labor said that this year, the company would focus on moving the approval process, maintaini

Metrobank profit up 46% to P22.5 B By Ted P. Torres (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 26, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. (Metrobank) reported a consolidated net income of P22.5 billion in 2013, a hefty 46 percent increase from P15.4 billion the previous year, the bank said in a statement. Total resources reached P1.38 trillion, a 32-percent hike from the previous year’s P1.05 trillion, representing another record-breaking performance in Metrobank’s 52-year history. Deposits breached the P1-trillion mark to close the year at P1.02 trillion for a 38-percent yearon-year increase. Net loans and receivables meanwhile, ballooned to P611 billion. Total operating income increased 38 percent to reach P78.9 billion. This was achieved on the back of a 24 percent growth in net interest income to P38.3 billion and a 55 percent growth in non-interest income to P40.7 billion. Metrobank sustained its high growth rate in net interest income from strong volumes and relatively healthy margins. Meanwhile, growth in non-interest income was driven by the resilient gains in trading and the steady increase in service charges, fees and commissions. In addition, the bank booked gains from one-time sale of non-core assets in preparation for Basel III implementation. In 2013, asset sales consisted of the bank’s remaining 15-percent stake in Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. (TMPC), and a 40-percent stake in Global Business Power Corp. (GBPC) through its subsidiary, First Metro Investment Corp. On a Basel II basis, total capital adequacy ratio (CAR) remained well above the regulatory limit at 16.7 percent with Tier 1 CAR at 15 percent. The Metrobank Group cemented its industry leading position with a domestic network spanning 856 branches and close to 2,000 ATMs nationwide at the end of 2013.

DOE, NEA rush to restore power in Davao By Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 26, 2014 - 12:00am

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Officials of the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Electrification Administration (NEA) got back to work yesterday to restore power in typhoon-hit coastal towns in Davao Oriental, a day after President Aquino reprimanded them in public. The President also called the attention of the Department of Budget and Management to process the funds needed to restore electricity in areas battered by Typhoon Pablo last December. Gov. Corazon Malanyaon told The STAR that representatives of DOE, NEA and the Davao Oriental Electric Cooperative immediately proceeded to the affected areas after paying her a courtesy call. “They promised to restore power in the coastal towns by next month,” Malanyaon said, referring to the municipalities of Cateel, Boston, Baganga and Caraga. The President gave the orders when he met with the townsfolk in a “Pulong Bayan” held at the Cateel municipal plaza last Monday as part of the EDSA People Power celebration. Aquino called the attention of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla and NEA officials, saying he was surprised why power has not been restored in the Pablo-affected towns. “I called them up and they said the NEA has a pending request (while) the DBM said the request is not with them, and then I called up the DOE. Where really is that request?” he said. - See more at:

Estrada may attend Senate hearing to confront Cunanan By Norman Bordadora Philippine Daily Inquirer 6:37 am | Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—Dennis Cunanan, the director general (on leave) of the Technology Resource  Center (TRC), will appear next week at a Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the pork barrel scam,  and possibly be confronted by one of the senators he has accused of assigning his pork barrel allotments  to bogus nongovernment organizations.  In the affidavit he submitted to investigators, Cunanan, who has applied to become a state witness, said  that Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. had called him up to endorse NGOs controlled by  alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim‐Napoles as recipients of their pork funds.  Estrada told reporters on Tuesday that because of the allegedly “relentless persecution” against him, he  might just reconsider his previous position of staying away from the blue ribbon inquiry and personally  confront Cunanan at the Thursday hearing.  “Even when it was still Mrs. Tuason [on the witness stand], I already wanted to attend [the hearing]. I  was just kept from doing so,” he said.  “It seems that they don’t want to stop going after us. This has been a relentless persecution from Day  One,” he added.  The TRC, as the chosen implementing agency of the legislator‐endorsed projects, received the funds  from the Department of Budget and Management and would then release them to the NGOs chosen by  the legislators to carry out the pork‐funded projects.  Kickbacks  The Napoles‐controlled NGOs, after receiving the millions of pesos from the lawmakers’ pork barrel, or  the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), allegedly converted the funds almost in their entirety  into kickbacks for Napoles, the lawmakers and their accomplices in the government line agencies.  Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, the chair of the Senate blue ribbon panel, said Cunanan is slated to appear  before the committee on Thursday, March 6. It will be the second time Cunanan will appear before the  committee.  “This is in connection with answering questions on what really happened, how it happened, who should  be held accountable and what should be done to prevent a repeat of whatever it was that happened,”  Guingona told reporters.  Cunanan will be the second respondent granted provisional state witness status to appear before the  Senate inquiry. The first was Estrada’s family friend, Ruby Tuason. 

“We just verified [with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima] if he was indeed with the witness protection  program and we were told that he was and they are quite willing to bring him on Thursday,” Guingona  said.  According to Estrada, in his first appearance before the committee, Cunanan did not say anything about  any phone call to him and Revilla.  Lie‐detector challenge  “Why is it that all of a sudden he’s saying that he made a phone call to me, he made a phone call to  Senator Revilla? He’s even saying that we were upset [when he talked to us]. We supposedly asked why  the funds had yet to be released,” Estrada said.  “I have never seen that guy in my entire life,” he added.  Estrada challenged all the whistle‐blowers to take a lie detector test, “even Mrs. Tuason.”  “We should take it all at the same time so we will immediately know the result,” he said.  Revilla said he had received information that it was his former seatmate at the Senate, Interior Secretary  Manuel Roxas II, who convinced Cunanan to turn state witness.  “It shouldn’t be this way. We have received information that it was he who convinced Cunanan. If you  would put yourself in my place, you would also feel bad,” he said.  Revilla called on Roxas to resign because of his supposed shortcomings as a member of the Cabinet.  In a privilege speech last January, Revilla claimed that Roxas had driven him to meet with President  Aquino at the height of the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona. At the meeting, he  said Aquino had asked him to support the removal of the Chief Justice.  Guingona said he did not see any need to again invite Tuason to the hearing.  In her testimony early this month, Tuason said she had personally delivered kickback money to Estrada  and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s chief of staff Jessica Lucila Reyes. Read more:

Absent witnesses in extortion attempt probe irk legislators By Gil C. Cabacungan Philippine Daily Inquirer 6:06 am | Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—Members of the House committee on good government and public accountability  saw red after key witnesses in their probe of the $30‐million alleged extortion attempt in the purchase  of new trains for Metro Rail Transit Line 3 failed to show up on Tuesday.  Pampanga Rep. Oscar Rodriguez, the committee chair, warned that the panel would be forced to issue  subpoenas to compel Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Josef Rychtar, Transportation Secretary  Joseph Emilio A. Abaya, MRT 3 general manager Al S. Vitangcol III and MRT Corp. chair Thomas de Leon  to appear if they snub the next hearing.  Rodriguez said he would consult with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on whether Rychtar, who  revealed an alleged attempt to extort $30 million from the Inekon Group to allow it to supply the MRT  trains, could be forced to attend the hearing.  Leyte Rep. Andres Salvacion Jr. said the House of Representatives should be as strict as the Senate in  penalizing uncooperative resource persons.  “Unlike the Senate, the House has yet to send somebody to a detention cell for not attending a hearing  or lying. We (House members) are very humane, we just smile, we don’t have sincerity in putting them  in detention,” said Salvacion.  Akbayan party‐list Rep. Walden Bello said the committee should pursue the investigation as “there are  strong allegations of wrongdoing in a government transaction with a strong bearing on the public  welfare.”  “It is unfortunate the principal actors belittled the authority of the House and chose not to show up.  They should realize there’s no way this issue will go away,” said Bello in a text message.  The House probe was triggered by separate resolutions filed by Representatives Tobias Tiangco of  Navotas and Neri Javier Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna seeking the real score on  the alleged extortion attempt.  The Czech railway firm ended up being blacklisted, while the supply contract for 48 light rail vehicles was  awarded to China’s Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co.  Colmenares said: “We should definitely proceed because aside from the fact that we want to know the  whole truth, we also want to know if it would have been more advantageous to the Filipino commuters.  If there is an overprice, then it translates to fare hikes to the detriment of the people.” 

Rodriguez, however, has been reluctant to proceed with the investigation, saying it was based merely on  newspaper reports and the matter was already being investigated by the Department of Justice and  National Bureau of Investigation.  The case has hounded the Aquino administration after the names of presidential sister Maria Elena  “Ballsy” Aquino‐Cruz and her husband, Eldon Cruz, came up in connection with an alleged extortion  attempt.  Colmenares had earlier said he would invite the presidential sister to a hearing should her name crop up  in the investigation.  But Rodriguez was adamant there was no compelling reason for the Cruz couple to be invited to the  hearing.  “From the beginning, the ambassador, through his affidavit, personal statement and signed letters, has  absolved her and has been apologetic about dragging her into the scandal. He said there was no iota of  evidence to link her to the scandal,” he said. 

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SC stops TRO on rice shipment from Davao By Christine O. Avendaño Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:57 am | Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—As Justice Secretary Leila de Lima pushed for a Cabinet‐crafted policy on rice  importation, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has won a temporary victory over one of four court  injunctions it is facing in connection with the entry into the country of rice shipments without import  permits.  The Supreme Court on Tuesday stopped a Davao City Regional Trial Court order that restrained the BOC  from seizing 91,800 bags of imported rice that a businessman had bought from a firm linked to David  Bangayan aka David Tan. The shipment arrived two months ago without an import permit.  The high court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the enforcement of the Dec. 12, 2013,  order of Judge Emmanuel Carpio of Davao City RTC Branch 16 that prevented the BOC from seizing the  shipment of Joseph Ngo.  Ngo bought the rice from Starcraft International Trading Corp., which is linked to Bangayan, who is  suspected to be rice smuggler David Tan.  “The TRO is effective immediately and until further orders from the court,” said Supreme Court  spokesman Theodore Te.  The high court acted on the petition for certiorari with application for a TRO, status quo order and/or  preliminary injunction filed on Feb. 21 by Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla and Agriculture  Secretary Proceso Alcala as chair of the National Food Authority (NFA).  The petitioners told the high court that the injunction against the implementation of NFA Memorandum  Circular No. AO‐2K13‐03‐003, which requires rice imports to be covered by duly issued import permits,  had “brought about the unbridled entry of smuggled rice from various countries to the detriment of the  Filipino farmers.”  Protecting farmers  “Consequently, petitioners invoke the power of the honorable court to intervene, enjoin and strike  down the baseless issuances of respondent judge which defeat the earnest efforts of the national  government, particularly the NFA and the BOC, to curb the unlawful smuggling of rice into Philippine  shores and protecting the local agriculture sector, especially the small farmers in the rural areas,” Sevilla  and Alcala told the high court.  At a briefing, Te said the high court granted the TRO after it considered “meritorious the Office of the  Solicitor General’s arguments regarding the lack of adequate representation of the BOC during the  Regional Trial Court hearings and the lack of legal standing of Ngo to sue.” 

The Supreme Court spokesman also said the high court required Judge Carpio and Ngo to comment on  the petition against them within 10 days from receipt of its notice.  Complaint against judge  Carpio himself is a subject of an administrative complaint in the high court for issuing the order that  prevented the BOC from seizing Ngo’s shipment.  The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura Inc. (Sinag) filed the complaint early this month. Sinag is an  umbrella organization of 33 federations and various sectors of the agricultural industry.  The group sued Carpio for alleged gross misconduct and knowingly rendering an unjust judgment.  Rice importers have resorted to going to court and seeking injunctions against the BOC for holding their  rice shipments.  Ngo, for instance, had told the Davao City Regional Trial Court that requiring an import permit on the  importation of rice may no longer be imposed because the special treatment for rice importation under  the World Trade Organization (WTO) had expired in June 2012.  The country is currently seeking an extension with the WTO.  De Lima, meanwhile, said she hoped the Cabinet would have discussions on the country’s rice  importation policy following court injunctions preventing the BOC from implementing its no‐rice import  permit, no‐entry policy.  Quantitative restrictions  The justice secretary said the existing policy was for the continued imposition of quantitative restrictions  on the entry of rice imports into the country.  De Lima told reporters the rice policy was not purely a legal issue.  “It has to be a policy at a macro level. It cannot just be a purely NFA/DA matter,” she said.  She said rice importation had economic implications beyond agriculture. “We want a clear policy  guidance.”  Massive smuggling  Some 2,000 container vans with 50,000 metric tons of rice were smuggled into the country weekly in  2013 (or 2.6 metric million tons annually), Deputy Customs Commissioner Agaton Uvero told the Senate  ways and means committee last month.  Uvero said the massive rice smuggling was reportedly stopped last October, with the new leadership at  the bureau.  Besides rice, other products are smuggled into the country. 

From 2002 to 2011, the government lost more than P1.33 trillion in revenue due to smuggling through  the country’s ports, according to the Federation of Philippine Industries. 

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Estrada, Honasan in separate P220M pork barrel probe By Nancy C. Carvajal Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:53 am | Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—Though no witness or whistle‐blower has come forward as yet to testify to it, the  P220 million in pork barrel funds that Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Gringo Honasan allegedly funneled  to dubious nongovernment organizations in 2010 and 2011 through the Department of Agrarian Reform  (DAR) is strongly supported by documents, according to sources with knowledge of the investigation at  the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).  “The investigation has a nationwide coverage and pinned down lawmakers through documentary  evidence, but no witnesses,” said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity.  The P220‐million case using the DAR as the implementing agency and involving the two senators is  separate from the much more massive P10‐billion scam allegedly masterminded by the detained Janet  Lim‐Napoles. But it also involves at least 10 of the dubious NGOs linked to Napoles.  Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ordered the NBI to conduct a separate investigation into the P220‐billion  alleged scam after DAR Undersecretary Anthony Parungao revealed in television interviews in  November 2013 that Estrada and Honasan had authorized the release of funds from their pork barrel  entitlements to the DAR using bogus Napoles NGOs and others in 2010 and 2011.  Parungao, who was interviewed after the P10‐billion scam blew up in the media, said the projects  endorsed by the two senators were never implemented and were “ghost projects.”  Estrada allegedly endorsed P70 million to 10 towns for the DAR’s organic farming livelihood projects  that were supposed to be undertaken by 10 Napoles‐controlled NGOs.  Honasan allegedly endorsed P150 million to 14 towns through non‐Napoles organizations: Samahan  Magsasaka Sa Kapatagan at Kabundukan Foundation Inc. (Samal, Bataan; San Pablo, Isabela; Porac,  Pampanga; Benito Soliven, Isabela, and Paombong, Bulacan); Divine Grace Foundation Inc. (San  Ildefenso and Malolos, Bulacan; Bagac and Mariveles Bataan).  ‘No whistle‐blower, witnesses’  Cesar Bacani, the NBI Antifraud and and Action Division head who was assigned to investigate the P220‐ million misplaced DAR‐allocated funds, declined to provide details on the investigation but confirmed  “they have no whistle‐blower or witnesses.”  Bacani said three mayors have appeared before investigators and all three denied receiving funds from  Estrada and Honasan through the DAR as the implementing agency.  “There’s no witnesses or whistle‐blower for this case, but we continue to investigate the accusation  against the senators and others,” Bacani said. 

“The three mayors denied they received funds and promised to execute sworn statements,” he said.  Also being investigated are DAR employees whose signatures were found on the checks, agreements  and vouchers that led to the release of the P220 million.  Based on Parungao’s statements, they are Undersecretaries Jerry E. Pacturan and Felix Perry Villanueva,  former DAR Directors Teresita Panlilio and Dominador V. Sison, chief cashier Nilda Baui, chief  accountant Rowena Agbayani and Ronald Venancio. 

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In PMA, honor is not a hard concept to grasp By Vincent Cabreza Inquirer Northern Luzon 12:18 am | Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Rumors turned viral last week after news that graduating Cadet First Class Aldrin Jeff Cudia was  discharged from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) by a council of cadets for lying, a violation of the  premier military school’s Honor Code.  Military officers who march at the PMA’s Borromeo Field as cadets are required to make this pledge:  “We, the cadets, do not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate among us those who do.”  The PMA website also points out: “No cadet, regardless of his rank and class, is above the [honor]  system. No violator of the code is granted immunity. No cadet who violates the code can redeem  himself from the violation he commits.”  Cudia has contested his discharge, accusing nine voting members of a 25‐member honor committee of  violating its own rules when it recommended his separation from the cadet corps for lying to justify a  two‐minute tardiness in class.  His sister, Avee, made the cadet’s fight public over social media to draw sympathy and support.  But the first thing newspapers, television news commentators and bloggers emphasized in addressing  Cudia’s case was to enumerate the disgraced PMA alumni who had been accused of or convicted for  various crimes.  Skeptical  “Many people have been skeptical about the PMA Honor Code. It worked for many of us in the military.  [The system] that enforces the Honor Code is not perfect, but the code works,” says retired Maj. Gen.  Leopoldo Maligalig, PMA superintendent from 2006 to 2008, and the commandant of cadets from 2004  to 2006.  The Academy Scribe, a three‐volume narrative about the PMA, says the school set out to shape “a  properly documented and definitive concept of honor” at the end of World War II, when it sent out a  social committee to the US Service Academies in 1949 to document how these military schools enforced  an honor system.”  The Scribe cites an article attributed to the Class of 1951, which established the impact of the honor  system on the cadet corps: “We admit that every man who enters the academy has been subjected to  different environments, which we cannot expect to change in a short time, but we strive to help him in  his adjustment to a new system where his word is accepted as the truth.” 

“Truth was the virtue of the corps,” the Scribe says, so the system requires every cadet to “always tell  the truth and to keep his word,” and admonishes him against tolerating dishonesty, cheating,  “quibbling, evasive statements and tricky wordings.”  Maligalig says honor is a simple concept. “It’s really about revealing our soul. Did I intend to do this? Did  I take undue advantage of others in acting this way? If the answer is no, then my conscience is clear,” he  says.  But there are people who will not take to honor as fish is to water.  The Scribe says: “As in all generalities, there exists an exception, a certain individual will fail the trust  exacted of him by the code. Herein lies the main task for which the honor committee, a purely cadet  body, was organized.”  It says the committee used to be an investigative body. Recently, it looked into cases, judged and  sanctioned cadets for honor violations.  The academy is reviewing how the honor system proceeded in handling Cudia’s case, upon the  instructions of Armed Forces chief of staff, Gen. Emmanuel Bautista.  Only nine members of the committee may vote to arrive at a verdict of “guilty” or “innocent” in all  honor reports (complaints) that are presented to the group, says Maj. Agnes Lynette Flores, PMA  spokesperson.  The committee is required to elevate its decision before the PMA staff judge advocate, who will  determine whether the process and the subsequent ruling “followed legal parameters,” before it is  submitted to the PMA superintendent, who enforces the recommended punishment.  Honor Code at risk  Flores says the committee ruling could be appealed within seven days. Once that lapses, the academy  would impose a penalty or discharge a cadet. The cadet would subsequently be separated from the  military by the commander‐in‐chief, in Cudia’s case, President Aquino.  Flores says the honor system itself is not the subject of the review, but several alumni who spoke to the  Inquirer believe the controversy has once more put the Honor Code at risk.  Cudia is not the first cadet to question an honor committee ruling. Records show several of these  decisions were raised in court during the 1970s. The PMA lost three of these cases because the honor  committee procedures were deemed unconstitutional.     Corruption scandals 

An enhanced honor system was introduced by Maligalig and his predecessor, retired Lt. Gen. Cristolito  Balaoing Jr., when they designed and employed a reform program for the academy, called the PMA  Roadmap to 2015, which reshaped the curriculum.  “The weakening of the honor system had been identified to be one of the crucial problems facing PMA.  This observation has been given credence by a spate of corruption scandals that have caught the  attention of the media involving some PMA graduates, strengthening the call by the alumni … for a  review of the honor system,” according to an article written for a new edition of the Academy Scribe by  the late 1st Lt. Francis Damian.  Damian was killed by Moro National Liberation Front forces in the Zamboanga City siege last year.  A member of Class of 2007, Damian had cited a 2005 survey of 711 cadets from Classes 2006, 2007 and  2008 during Balaoing’s term. In that survey, 33 percent disagreed with the phrase, “There is nothing  wrong with the honor system;” 35 percent indicated they were unsatisfied with how the system had  been administered; and 21 percent indicated that not all cadets reported honor irregularities as  required by their oaths.  The enhanced honor system does not amend the Honor Code itself, Damian had pointed out. But the  new system changes the honor system from a punitive system to a lifestyle to be followed by new  leaders trained by PMA.     Way of life  He wrote: “The honor system exists primarily to develop the character of cadets, not to restrict or  regulate their behavior. Honor should be understood as simply abiding [by] the regulations but as a  preferred way of life. The rationale: The restriction of one’s action [is] temporary for as long as the cadet  is in the academy. However, the development of character builds leaders who are willing to live a life of  honor even after graduation.”  Maligalig says the honor system continues to adapt to a changing world.  In the end, what remains a constant in the PMA’s campaign to build honorable men are families who  shape children selected to become cadets, he says.  “A soldier who was taught not to steal, cheat or deceive by their parents would most likely navigate  unscathed the dark places filled with corrupt people. In the end, a man makes mistakes because of his  bad role models. That’s what society should be concerned about,” he says. 

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DOT hires Tacloban’s tourism students By Joey Gabieta Inquirer Visayas 12:16 am | Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines—Angel Mae Basibas, a 19‐year‐old tourism student of ABE College here,  has found a way to continue her schooling after storm surges brought by Supertyphoon “Yolanda”  washed away her parents’ jeepney and store—the family’s sources of livelihood—along with their house  and other belongings.  She and 100 other college students signed up with the cash‐for‐work program of the Department of  Tourism (DOT) regional office, mainly to clean up the parks after last year’s typhoon.  “The money that I will get from my volunteering under the program will really help me. My father has  no income nowadays for him to provide our daily needs,” said Basibas, a college freshman and the  second in a brood of seven children.  Her family stays in a shack they put up using scrap materials. They have been relying on relief items  provided by the government and private groups for their daily needs.  They lost their house in Barangay 84 in San Jose District to the storm surges, the jeepney used by her  father Aldo, and the small store of her mother Liza.  The DOT program, dubbed tourism students welfare program, aims not only to help clean the parks but  provide financial help to the students, said Karina Rosa Tiopes, regional director of the agency.  On Sunday, Tiopes signed a memorandum of understanding with Eastern Visayas State University, Leyte  Normal College, ABE College and Asian Development Foundation College. Each school is given 25 slots to  be filled up by city residents whose houses were destroyed by Yolanda.  The student beneficiaries will receive P260, the daily wage in the region, plus P80 in food allowance.  Equipped with wheelbarrows and grass cutters, they will work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. every weekend to  clean the over 100‐hectare Madonna of Japan Park, the Family Park, and a stretch of once barbecue  stalls on Magsaysay Boulevard, the Remedios Trinidad Romualdez (RTR) Plaza, the Plaza Rizal and the  Plaza Libertad.  Container vans filled with relief items being distributed by the Department of Social Welfare and  Development are found at RTR Plaza while other storm evacuees are occupying tents at Plaza Rizal.  Dump trucks for the disposal of the park trash will be provided by the provincial government led by Gov.  Leopoldo Dominico Petilla. The provincial government looks after the cleanliness of Plaza Libertad. 

“The program will somehow help our students alleviate their financial constraints due to Yolanda. The  amount may be small, but this could help them buy at least their (school) needs or shoulder their daily  transportation fares,” Tiopes said. 

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Malacañang steps into Marinduque deal with mining company By Maricar Cinco Inquirer Southern Luzon 12:15 am | Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Whether the invitation is for a simple luncheon or a meeting to seek “legal advice” from the Palace, the  national government has apparently stepped into the continuing negotiation between Marinduque and  the mining company sued over the 1996 tailing spillage, now considered the country’s worst mining  tragedy.  The entire provincial board of Marinduque, a fourth‐class island‐province (annual income: P180 million‐ P270 million), will be flying to Malacañang in Manila on Wednesday to discuss the $20‐million indemnity  being offered by Barrick Gold, the company that absorbed Marcopper Mining Corp. and its parent  company, Placer Dome Inc.  Marcopper used to operate in Marinduque until it was shut down due to the toxic spill. In 2006, the  province filed a $100‐million damage suit against the mining firm in a district court in Nevada.  In a phone interview on Tuesday, Provincial Administrator Eleuterio Raza said the board members were  invited to Malacañang for a “luncheon” by President Benigno Aquino III’s adviser for environmental  protection Nereus Acosta. They have yet to decide whether to accept or reject the offer, he added.  The meeting, Raza said, would discuss how the national government plans to address the reparation and  assist Marinduque given that it was the one that issued all the mining permits and has the regulatory  powers over mining operations.  He did not say whether the President would be attending the meeting.  Acosta, according to Sonny Paglinawan, a municipal board member of Boac town, had earlier met with  the provincial board on Feb. 20 in Marinduque.  Members of Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (Macec), a Church‐based organization  opposed to accepting the compensation, were invited to the meeting, but they failed to make it, he said.  “The meeting (with Acosta) was at 11:30 a.m. but the invitation to Macec only came around 10 a.m. It  was really short notice,” said Paglinawan, who also sits at Macec’s board of directors.  On Feb. 24, the provincial board called for a “stakeholders’ meeting” of the mayors and municipal board  members of all six municipalities in Marinduque. The meeting was presided over by law professor Harry  Roque, who was invited as a technical expert. 

Boac Mayor Roberto Madla, in a phone interview on Tuesday noon, said that during the Feb. 24  meeting, Vice Gov. Romulo Bacorro Jr. told them that there was going to be a meeting to seek legal  advice from Malacañang.  Madla said he was wondering why a meeting in the Presidential Palace was being scheduled, and not a  meeting with people from the Department of Justice.  Boac, one of the towns heavily damaged by the mining waste spill, has openly rejected Barrick’s offer,  saying the amount is too small to repair the damaged ecosystem. Besides, the deal, once signed, would  “exonerate” the company of its liabilities to the province.  Paglinawan said it was not about the amount alone but the terms and conditions of the settlement. 

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DENR issues 3 other tree-cutting permits By Gabriel Cardinoza Inquirer Northern Luzon 12:11 am | Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

DAGUPAN CITY—More road‐widening projects, more tree‐cutting permits.  The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional office based in San Fernando  City, La Union province, has issued three other permits to remove trees, two of them weeks earlier than  the Nov. 4, 2013, special permit for the project covering a 42‐kilometer stretch of MacArthur Highway.  The 90‐day special permit for that section, which traverses five eastern Pangasinan towns from Rosales  to Sison and Urdaneta City, expired on Feb. 4. But the DENR said the Department of Public Works and  Highways (DPWH), which is handling the road‐widening project, had asked for an extension because it  needed to cut many more trees.  Local and national environmental groups have denounced the cutting of trees, prompting the provincial  board to call for an investigation on the activity.  A petition has also circulated online asking Environment Secretary Ramon Paje to stop the tree deaths.  Only 57 percent, or 1,042 of 1,829 trees, along MacArthur Highway have been cut, according to Jocelyn  Sagun, chief of the forest management section of the community environment and natural resources  office in Urdaneta, citing the latest inventory of trees.  Pangasinan’s provincial environment and natural resources officer Leduina Co said the other permits  involved the cutting of a total of only 144 trees and the removal by earth‐balling of 52 saplings. These  covered the national roads from Urdaneta to Lingayen town; Barangay (village) Acop in Rosales to  Guimba town in nearby Nueva Ecija province, and Binalonan to Laoac towns.  The permits were issued on Sept. 23, Oct. 7 and Dec. 20 last year, and were valid for 60 days. These  would have expired on Feb. 20.  Former Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco had earlier claimed responsibility in the massive tree‐cutting  along MacArthur Highway, saying the trees within the road’s “right of way” were not in the right place.  Co said the tree‐cutting permits were issued despite President Aquino’s Executive Order No. 23 in 2011,  which declared a moratorium on the cutting of trees.  “The DPWH was able to secure an exemption because road‐widening projects are considered high‐ impact projects,” she said. 

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Ibalo oy Day honors h doctrin ne of nattive titlee By Vincennt Cabreza Inquirer No orthern Luzon 12:09 am | Tuesday, Febru uary 25th, 2014

COWBOY SKIILL A Benguet-born cowboy display ys his roping skill as a part of weeken nd lessons on Iballoy culture during the monthlong Ib baloy Festival in Ba aguio City. EV ESP PIRITU/INQUIRER R NORTHERN LUZO ON

BAGUIO C CITY—The sou und of gongs competed wiith music from m marching b bands alongsiide 22 flower‐ bedecked d floats in thiss year’s Panaggbenga (Baguio Flower Fesstival) paradee on Sunday.  The gongss were played d to welcome e hundreds off Ibaloy from tthe city and B Benguet provvince who cam me in  traditionaal attire for th he Ibaloy Day celebrations at Burnham  Park, which ttook place sim multaneously with  other Pan nagbenga events.  Tourists, w who seemed oblivious to tthe gatheringg’s true intentt, watched geenerations of families dancce  and have fun. Some off the men werre wearing G‐‐strings and SStetson hats, owing to the Ibaloy’s affin nity  with Ame erican cowboyy culture.  Everyone sang songs in nspired by Am merican counttry music butt translated in n Ibaloy. Even n the national  was sung in Ibaloy.  anthem w

The event honors Baguio’s first Ibaloy citizens, Councilor Isabelo Cosalan Jr. said in a speech.  Ibaloy families were among the first to be encountered by the Americans in Kapaway or Kafagway (the  Ibaloy term for “grassy clearing”) as they set out to establish a colonial hill station, according to the 2002  Action Research Project on the status and impact of ancestral land claims in Baguio City.  The study, undertaken by Ibaloy families on the request of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the  Peace Process, said the Ibaloy families raised cattle at the center of the Benguet plateau and maintained  rice fields and swiddens on the outskirts.  Modern‐day clans trace their roots to a handful of interrelated families of the 1900s, among them the  Cariño, Carantes, Tagley Soley, Peraso (modern records spell the surname Piraso), Fianza, Suello,  Molintas and Lubos families, according to a family tree cited by the study.  But setting the day on Feb. 23 each year means the Ibaloy also celebrate the US Supreme Court ruling in  1909, which recognized the land rights of clan leader Mateo Cariño over what has become Camp John  Hay, Cosalan said.  Since 2010, several Ibaloy families have been cast as villains—and subjects of lawsuits from government  agencies and their own relatives—because they were granted certificates of ancestral land title (CALTs)  over disputed Baguio land and reservations.  The ancestral land controversies drew national attention in 2013 when an Ibaloy family sought to stop a  government project over portions of the presidential Mansion reservation that was covered by their  CALT.  In January, another family that was awarded a CALT was able to acquire permission to take over Casa  Vallejo, Baguio’s oldest hotel.  Cosalan did not dwell on these CALT problems except to assert that the US court ruling penned by  Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. was issued before the colonial government enacted the Baguio City  charter on Sept. 1, 1909. Ibaloy communities preceded the creation of the summer capital, he said.  Ibaloy Day was also the culminating activity of a series of seminars and workshops mounted by the  group for young Ibaloy, many of whom no longer speak the language.  Families spent a few Saturdays discussing the roots and the relevance of rituals. Children were treated  to rodeo tricks by “pony boys.”  Joseph Maranes, 47, said even the young could no longer relate well with horses, the animal many  Ibaloy used to value next to the cattle. 

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The Rice Fiasco: How smugglers, bureaucrats and naïve economists are mugging our farmers By Walden Bello 12:05 am | Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

In Bertold Brecht’s “The Measures Taken”, a political opera set in revolutionary China in the 1920’s, the  rice trader sings: How should I know what rice is?  How should I know who knows what rice is?  I’ve no idea what rice is, I only know its price.  These lines come to mind as one observes the awful debacle that has overtaken the fate of the most  important item in the Filipino diet. In a controversial recent judgment, a court in Davao recently ruled  against the Bureau of Customs and ordered the release of 4.2 million tons of seized smuggled rice. Now  the smugglers are shouting with glee at an unexpected development: Secretary Leila de Lima is on their  side.    In a recent opinion issued after the smugglers sued the National Food Authority (NFA) and the Bureau of  Customs for seizing their illegal imports, de Lima said that according to the terms of its agreement with  its trading partners in the World Trade Organization (WTO), the government’s right to impose import  quotas on rice expired in June 2012.  In her leaked opinion, de Lima asserted: “To renege on this agreement, consent to which was  manifested by the act of both the President and the Senate in accordance with the Philippine  Constitution, is beyond the power of a mere implementing agency like the NFA, which must exercise its  rule making and regulatory powers in accordance with and not contrary to applicable laws.”    The rice quota fiasco 

We anticipated that a crisis like this would break out sooner or later, when the Philippines signed on to  the Agreement on Agriculture of the WTO in 1995.  Quotas or quantitative restrictions were eliminated  on all agricultural products except rice.   But the Philippines was obligated to accept a “minimum access  volume” of around 350,000 metric tons of rice yearly.  Near the close of the ten year period that the agreement on rice was in effect, in 2004, the Philippines  filed for an extension, and it was granted, covering the period 2007‐2012.  As the 2012 deadline  approached, pressure from rice farmers and farmer advocates forced the DA to seek another extension, 

but the Philippines’ trading partners have so far refused to enter into negotiations, apparently in search  of concessions in terms of increased meat imports as a quid pro quo for granting the government’s rice  request.  Thus we have a period of indeterminacy, where the rice quota extension agreement has lapsed  but no agreement has taken its place.  This fiasco could have been avoided had there been closer coordination among the government  agencies, particularly the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Justice.  This process could  have begun way before the expiration of the extension in 2012.  This could have resulted in an executive  order or some other legal instrument maintaining the quota until a new agreement was reached with  the Philippines’ trading partners.  Instead, the NFA and the Bureau of Customs put their heads in the  sand, pretending that the agreement with the WTO had not lapsed and acting on the basis of old  directives.  Secretary de Lima, for her part, issued a judgment based on very narrow grounds, failing to  even explore the provisions in the WTO Treaty, such as those allowing import restrictions owing to  dumping and violations of sanitary and phyto‐sanitary standards.  Without a proactive government push to retain the quota in the form of notices to our ASEAN partners,  we will face a similar quandary when the Asean Economic Community (AEC) becomes reality on  2015.  We are talking about a free‐trade area that will no longer have commodities like rice on a  “temporary exclusion list” or “sensitive list.” Informing our trading partners now that we intend to keep  rice as a protected commodity under quota will save us a lot of diplomatic grief later on, when we could  be accused of having negotiated the AEC in bad faith.  Academics align with the smugglers 

In the midst of this bureaucratic fiasco, members of the academic community associated with the  University of the Philippines School of Economics have also come out in support of the smugglers.  In  recent statements, these academics, claiming to base their estimates on international prices, have  asserted that local consumers have been paying have been paying 40 per cent more for rice than should  be the case. The thrust of their interventions is that in the interest of consumers, the government  should drop the quantitative restriction on rice.  These economists blame the rice farmers for their alleged low productivity.  What these neoliberal  ideologues forget is that the key countries that determine the international price of rice—the US,  Thailand, and Vietnam—subsidize their rice producers heavily, then dump their products at cut‐rate  prices on world markets.  The Thai government, for instance, buys rice from Thai rice farmers at above  market prices, then dumps the rice on the international market.  In the recent controversial case of competitive bidding between Vietnam and Thailand to sell the  Philippines 500,000 metric tons of rice, what we were witnessing was a battle between two  governments that heavily subsidize their rice production seeking to dump their artificially cheap rice on  the Philippines, their actions guided not by production costs but by non‐price considerations like  grabbing a greater share of our country’s rice market. 

A key person that has resurfaced in the debate after years of relative obscurity is Dr. Ramon Clarete,  now the dean of the UP School of Economics, who played a key role as a government resource person  during the 1994‐95 debates on whether the Philippines should join the WTO.  Clarete predicted then that signing the Agreement on Agriculture, which required the Philippines to  eliminate all but one of its import restrictions, would result in the addition of 500,000 new jobs yearly in  agriculture.  Instead, the number of people employed in agriculture declined from 11.2 million in 1995  to 10.8 million in 2001.  Clarete also predicted that allowing enlarged imports of traditional crops like rice and corn would push  farmers to shift to so‐called “high value added crops” like broccoli, snowpeas, and cutflowers, the  production of which would make the Philippines a major exporter of these  products.  The opposite happened.  From being a net agricultural exporter in 1995, when it joined the WTO, the  Philippines became a net agricultural importer.  Nearly 20 years after the Philippines entered into  probably its most disadvantageous agreements, Clarete and his neoliberal associates still do not  understand the harsh realities of global agricultural trade, where the policies of powerful governments  undermine their mythical nirvana of an international market running along free market lines.  Rice policy and Philippine society 

The country’s agricultural policy is a mess, and this has not been helped by the Department of  Agriculture’s being the subject of investigation owing to the involvement of some of its senior officials in  the pork barrel scam.  High level intervention by Malacañang is needed to sort out the mess and clarify our priorities.  Among  these aims must be the reinvigoration of our agriculture, promotion of the interests of our rice farmers  and other agricultural producers, and a fair deal between consumers and our rice producers—one that  is based on the true cost of rice production, not one based on rice prices that are artificially depressed  by rice dumping in the Philippine market by aggressive players like Thailand and the United States.  Beyond this, what we need is a renewed appreciation of the role that rice plays in our diet, cuisine, and  society. Our 2.5‐million rice farmers (who support some 10‐12 million family members) are the  guardians of that heritage. Our country would be a great loser not only economically but also culturally  if we allow our rice economy to slip into irreversible crisis owing to pressure by business interests  seeking to make a killing in the rice trade, the bungling of bureaucrats and negotiators who allow  themselves to be intimidated and outmaneuvered by avaricious trading partners, and the pernicious  influence of neoliberal academics who are naifs when it comes to understanding the harsh realities of  global trade. 

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Trucck ban hits Custom C ms MICP, POM Colllections Drop D To P397.2M P M From P6 613-M Aveerage by Raymu und F. Anton nio February 26, 2 2014 Manila, Philippines — The daytime truck k ban may be a solution to ea ase traffic in Ma anila, but could d be a bane to governmen nt’s revenue co ollections. A day afterr the truck ban took effect, the e Bureau of Cu ustoms (BOC) iis already hurting as it has ad dversely affecte ed the ope erations and re evenue collectio ons of the coun ntry’s two o major ports.

H HARBOR TUR RNED TRUCK P PARKING ARE EA – E Eight-wheel tru ucks, some load ded with conta ainer va ans, are stuck inside the Man nila North Harbor on Feb b. 25, 2014, ass they are barre ed from using M Manila streets from m 5 a.m. to 9 p.m m. following the e im mplementation of Manila City Ordinance 836 63 or the expa anded truck ban n. (Ali Vicoy) In a statement, Customs Comm missioner John Philip Sevvilla said the ag gency’s two larrgest collection n disttricts posted a 35-percent decline in revenu ues to P397.2 million on Monday y from a daily average a of P61 13 million. No Cargo Left POM The Manila a International Container C Portt (MICP) was only able to rele ease four conta ainer vans while e not a single ccargo left the Porrt of Manila (PO OM) on the firstt day of the truc ck ban. This transla ated to a dramatic decline in revenue collec ctions from both h ports, Sevilla said. “From a da aily average of almost P360 million, m MICP was w only able to o generate P26 62.8 million or a 27-percent de ecline while reven nues of POM dropped d by 47 percent p to P134.4 million from m the previous daily average of P253 million n,” the agency saiid. BOC said on o a daily basis s, these Manila a ports process s 3,150 contain ner vans from F Feb. 1 to 21. POM and MICP M are the country’s c two biiggest ports tha at are accounte ed for the bulk of cargoes and d customs reve enues. The bureau u released a re eport Tuesday to t validate its earlier e claims th hat the new me easure would ccause a large d drop in revenue co ollections. And it was right on the do ot.

“While there are conditions and factors that are beyond the control of the Bureau of Customs, we are ready to adjust to the needs of importers and other stakeholders,” said Sevilla. He said the BOC might adjust its operating hours although it would entail additional operating expenses. Sevilla added that they are coordinating with affected stakeholders, including the Port Users Confederation, as well as Asian Terminals, Inc. and the International Container Terminal Services, Inc., private port operators that run POM and MICP, respectively. Starting Monday, the country’s capital has banned trucks that weigh 4,500 kilogram such as eight-wheeler trucks, gravel and sand trucks, cargo trucks, cement mixers, sand tractor trailers and container trucks to enter Manila from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. This prompted truckers to stage a truck holiday to protest the ban. JV Steps In Recognizing that the Manila city government and businessmen as well as truck operators have been at loggerheads over the truck ban, Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito asked yesterday the Executive to step in and address the issue. He made the call as the Alliance of Concerned Truck Owners and Organization continued to oppose the city government’s ordinance, branding it as a form of economic sabotage. Ejercito said that while he threw support to his father’s implementation of the new truck ban, the concerns of businessmen and port and truck operators should also be considered. He likewise said these sectors should also consider the benefits of such policy. Pasay Rejects Trucks Meanwhile, the Pasay City government said it is opposing the plan of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to use Roxas Boulevard for trucks, citing that “it will ruin the city’s program on tourism.” Pasay Mayor Antonino Calixto said opening of Roxas Boulevard would not be good for the city’s tourism. (With reports from Chino S. Leyco, Charissa M. Luci, and Anna Liza Villas Alavaren)

Protesters arrested in botched ALECO takeover by Nino Luces February 25, 2014 Legazpi City, Albay — Four protesters were arrested in a fray during last Monday’s attempted takeover of the now privatized Albay Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ALECO), here, as its new management firm, Albay Power and Energy Corporation (APEC), struggles to save it from financial hemorrhage. Allan Marchan, general manager of APEC – a subsidiary of San Miguel Global Power Holdings, called yesterday for a peaceful resolution of the dispute between the new management and the protesters from the ALECO Multi-Sectoral Stakeholders Coalition (AMSSO). “Yung request ko lang, is just give us a chance to do our work properly. You can practice all the democratic ways that you have, but please don’t resort to violence, don’t resort to hurting people, and don’t resort to breaking property,” appealed Marchan. Last Monday, AMSSO head Bartolome Rayco; Karapatan Bicol Spokesperson Vince Casilihan; Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) Spokesperson Hernan Certeza, and Kabataan Partylist Member, Carl Gana after leading protesters in breaking their way into ALECO’s main building, here. Superintendent Rommel dela Rama, city police chief, filed charges of malicious mischief and grave coercion against the four after their actions resulted in damage to property. Security guards who had alerted police reported that the protesters allegedly broke windows. On the other hand, Karapatan Bicol claimed that responding police had committed blatant violations of the rights of the arrested, by failing to state the Miranda Doctrine. Since January this year, Aleco has been managed and operated by APEC but was forced to hold office at Ligao Branch because of the protest rallies at the main office. The dispute between AMSSO, Aleco Interim Board, and the previous management were continuing. Marchan assured that the San Miguel Corporation (SMC) is committed to Albay, and hoping for an immediate resolution to the problem.

Group to build disaster‐proof houses by Roy Mabasa February 25, 2014 A newly formed French-Philippines task force is undertaking a project to build 75 “disaster-proof houses,” a community center and a clinic in Daanbantayan, Cebu, one of the areas rocked by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake on October 15, 2013. Dubbed “Rebuilding Lives,” the project is the first by the French-Philippines United Action in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. The Cebu provincial government, on the other hand, donated 5,488 square meters of land in Daanbantayan, the site of the project. According to the French Embassy in Manila, the houses to be erected are designed to withstand intensity 8 earthquakes and 275 to 300 kph winds. The Hyperbolic paraboloid house, a design which was developed by architect E. Florentino, will be built using the Modular Ferro Concrete Building System wherein the walls and roofs will be made of concrete with steel and wire mesh reinforcements to form a thin shell. The duplex houses will be composed of 2 units of 21 sqm each. The first unit is scheduled to be completed by the end of March 2014. The cost of the project has been pegged at P25 million and is expected to be completed by June 2014. “This is only the first phase of the project,” the French embassy said. “There are plans for subsequent phases, but there are no specific details yet. Again, it still depends on the funding.”

Partnership for good governance by Malu Cadelina Manar February 25, 2014 Kidapawan City – The ACF International, a global humanitarian organization, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) will forge a partnership in implementing a project that would empower participatory governance in North Cotabato. The signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) will take place on February 27 at the Provincial Capitol complex. The ACF International will be the project implementing agency in partnership with the De La Salle University’s Jesse M. Robredo Institute of Governance, and the Mindanao Land Foundation, Inc. North Cotabato Governor Lala Talino-Mendoza is expected to witness the MOA signing. The forging of partnership will formalize the implementation of the Empowered Participatory Governance towards Progress (EPG-Progress) in North Cotabato, which aims at upholding participation from the community while significant projects are being realized. Cathy Gordo, ACF International’s EPG Progress program head, said the project will help encourage barangay (village) officials and their constituents to actively take part in all the project’s undertakings. Gordo said that with the DILG’s intervention, a much bigger awareness and participation from the village level would be realized. (With a report from Ali G. Macabalang)

Lower Bataan electric bill seen in March by Mar T. Supnad February 25, 2014 Balanga City, Bataan — Governor Abet S. Garcia expressed optimism yesterday that the power rate in Bataan will be lowered next month once the turbines of the GN power plant in Mariveles town resumes to normal operations. Briefing newsmen at the Bulwagan building here yesterday, the Governor pointed out that the conking out of one of the turbines of GN power triggered the sudden increase in power rates in Bataan. The province has always boasted of having one of the lowest power rates in the country. “Hopefully, our electricity bills will go down next month as one of the turbines that had trouble at the GN power plant will be fixed. Let’s give it just a little more time for that turbine to work,” he said. This was confirmed by Engr. Loreto Marcelino, General Manager of the Peninsula Electric Cooperative (PENELCO), distributor of electricity in Bataan, whose power supply is coming from the GN power plant. A foreign owned company, the GN power plant was constructed more than two years ago along the coastal barangay of Alas-asin, Mariveles town. Bataeños were shocked and caught by surprise when they received unusually higher electric bills the other month. Some had complained that the increase was 50 percent. GN power runs two 600 megawatts power plant in Mariveles that supplies the Luzon grid. Being the host province, then governor now Bataan Rep. Enrique Garcia and his son the current governor, worked and appealed to GN power for cheaper power rates for the province. The GN power management agreed.

‘Virtual dictatorship’ lamented by groups by Leslie Ann Aquino and Francis Wakefield February 26, 2014 (updated)

Manila, Philippines — A former head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and a lawyers group have lamented the “virtual dictatorship” the Philippines is experiencing under the present administration. Retired Lingayen Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz said there’s “virtual dictatorship” in the sense that the three branches of government are no longer co-equal. “It is a virtual dictatorship. Meaning to say, the Executive has the Legislative and the Judiciary branches of government under its command, instead of being co-equal branches of government, which is one of the symbols of democracy. And although it’s on paper that the three branches of government are equal, in reality it’s not,” he said in a Church-organized forum in Manila. The prelate cited the passage of the controversial Reproductive Health law and the impeachment of then Chief Justice Renato C. Corona as examples. “You understand that the RH law was passed because money changed hands. Corona was impeached because money changed hands…This is sad. As far as I am concerned, here we go again… money is the one that manipulates our own government system more than reason and ethics,” Cruz said. “It should not be that way. The very fact that you are using money to influence this and that, that is already foul… I hope I am wrong but the reality is sad but it’s the truth. It’s money that runs the present government,” he added. The archbishop’s lament coincided with the comment of Edre U. Olalia, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers secretary general, as the EDSA People Power anniversary had its focus – for the first time outside Metro Manila – in the provincial capital of Cebu City. “After 28 years of platitudes and grand rhetorics, this year is the height of insult and affront for victims of the Marcos dictatorship as President Aquino seems to ignore years of efforts at fundamental change for the benefit of the majority of our people,” Olalia said in a statement. “In a fundamental sense, the Aquino presidency has practically put us back precisely to the Martial Law era: to the age of widespread corruption and the systematic marauding of government coffers; to monopolies and oligopolies by a tiny elite living ostentatiously amidst penury; to degrading quality of life and diminishing economic power of the ordinary Filipino deprived of basic social services; to flagrant state violence and vicious attacks on human rights and callous denial of such; to the failure to attain real justice in a discriminatory system despite

the ‘rule of law’ shibboleth; to US intrusion and domination in political, military, social, and economic affairs; to unresolved roots of the armed conflict raging in the countryside,” he added. Olalia alleged that one outstanding betrayal among so many is Aquino’s appointment of a police general as head of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board – an appointment the President defended yet again this week. The NUPL head explained that such appointment is reminiscent of Marcos’ own dependence on a loyal army and police and his revolving door policy – one important facet of which is appointing retirees to political positions.

G-20 optimism, tax treaty seen feeding PHL growth Category: Top News   25 Feb 2014    Written by David Cagahastian  Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima on Tuesday welcomed the commitment of the Group of 20 (G-20) countries to target growth of 2 percent above the current growth trajectory of the global economy in the next five years.

Gil Beltran, lead economist at the Department of Finance (DOF), calculated that for every 1-percent increase in global output, the Philippines economy’s own growth rate will rise by 0.2 percent as consequence of higher exports and enhanced employment. At the recently concluded ministerial meeting of the G-20 in Sydney, Australia, the G-20 made a commitment to boost their production by 2 percent above the current trajectory implied by current policies in the next five years. This growth is estimated to add up to $2 trillion to the world economy. Purisima also welcomed the commitment of the G20 to push for the exchange of tax information among countries, which was also a focus of the ministerial meeting in Sydney. Purisima said that 3 percent to 4 percent of the country’s local output, measured as the gross domestic product (GDP), is lost to tax evasion, which translates to about P400 billion. “In line with President Aquino’s principle of good governance as good economics, we also welcome the G-20’s commitment to exchange tax information among countries as it enables us to run after companies that move profits across borders to escape taxation,” Purisima said. “The DOF estimates that 3 percent or 4 percent of Philippine GDP is lost to tax evasion. A Global Financial Passport will greatly curb tax evasion, fraud, bribery and corruption. This will assist both advanced and emerging economies in the pursuit of good governance,” he added. Purisima also welcomed the G-20’s prodding for reforms at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), agreed upon in 2010 by the G-20 but have yet to be ratified by the United States. The IMF reforms include, among others, expanding the voting shares of emerging economies, including the Philippines. “The G-20’s support for the IMF General Review of Quotas will enhance the Philippines’s voice in international economic policies. As we open the Philippines to the international economic community, we must also be given an increasing role in policy-making,” Purisima said. The G-20’s commitment to communicating policy transitions is also important to emerging economies like the Philippines because such dissemination of policy transitions will result in less volatility. “However, we continue to focus on sound macroeconomic fundamentals to show the underlying strength and resilience of the Philippine economy,” Purisima said.

Manila truck ban pulls down Customs revenue, Sevilla says Category: Economy   25 Feb 2014    Written by Joel R. San Juan  THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Tuesday said it had suffered a major blow in terms of revenue collections following the implementation by the Manila City government’s extended truck ban. In a news statement, Customs Commissioner John Sevilla said badly affected by the extended truck ban were the operations of two of the largest collections districts of the BOC—the Port of Manila (POM) and the Manila International Container Port (MICP). Initial reports from the POM and MICP showed a slowdown in the release of container vans with MICP only able to release four on Monday, the first day of the implementation of the truck ban, from a daily average of 2,150 for the period of February. On the other hand, no container van exited on Monday, from an average of 1,200 container vans per day, for the same period. The slowdown resulted in a huge drop in revenue collections from both ports—from a daily average of almost P360 million, MICP was only able to generate P262.8 million, a 27-percent decline, while revenues of POM dropped 47 percent to P134.4 million from the previous daily average of P253 million. POM and MICP are the two biggest ports in the Philippines in terms of cargo volume handling and customs revenues, accounting for about 48 percent of total collections of the entire BOC. “While there are conditions and factors that are beyond the control of the Bureau of Customs, we are ready to adjust to the needs of importers and other stakeholders,” Sevilla said. The BOC chief said they are now coordinating with affected stakeholders, including the Port Users Confederation, as well as Asian Terminals Inc. and the International Container Terminal Services Inc., private port operators that run POM and MICP, respectively, on how to address the situation. Under the Manila City Ordinance 8336, eight-wheeler trucks are barred from going through the city’s streets from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. except on Sundays and holidays. However, during a recent meeting with stakeholders, the city government agreed to modify the ban to allow trucks on Manila’s streets from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Medical complex for Japanese elderly to rise in Davao City Category: Regions   25 Feb 2014    Written by PNA  DAVAO CITY—A Japanese investor will develop a world-class 300-bedroom Hospital Care and Training Center that would cater to Japanese elderly. Davao City Investment and Promotion Center Chief Ivan Cortez at the Davao Business Forum here, said the Japanese investor would also provide scholarship for a three-month care giving training to about 1,000 Davaoeños, who, while on training, will be paid, Cortez said. Also, the caregivers will receive about P200,000 monthly salary. The proposed hospital and training center will be built in Catigan, Toril. Groundbreaking is set in October this year. Cortez said the medical complex would be world class at one client per room. It is a high-end facility for the insurers of the Japanese oldies will not allow their clients to stay in low-class medical center, he added. He said according to the Japanese investor, there are about 1 million Japanese clients of an insurance company who are in the waiting list for care services. The Japanese investor is married to a Filipina, thus his interest to venture into such business. The investment comes along with a retirement village for Japanese nationals. Cortez, however, said details of the project are not yet available.

ALI to start construction of El Nido resort in March Category: Top News   25 Feb 2014  Written by VG Cabuag  Ayala Land Inc. is set to start the construction of a sprawling tourism estate in El Nido, Palawan, next month, a company official said. Antonino Aquino, Ayala Land president, said the groundbreaking for the project in Barangay Buena Suerte, El Nido, has already been set in late March. The leisure resort, which has a 3-kilometer beachfront right beside an airstrip, will be the company’s fifth in Palawan province, as Ayala Land steadily acquired land in Palawan over the past years. Aquino said the company aims to pursue a hotel and residential development in the property that will be designed like a “resort village all along the coast.” The other leisure- and tourism-related ventures of Ayala Land include Lagen Island Resort, Miniloc Island Resort and Pangulasian Island Resort, all owned and operated by El Nido Resorts. In 2010 Ayala Land started buying into Asian Conservation Co. (ACC), the owner of the El Nido Resorts. The company later on bought the entire ACC. Ayala Land also bought Club Noah Isabel in Taytay, Palawan, which also operates an island-resort at the northern tip of Palawan damaged by Supertyphoon Yolanda in November. Revenues from its hotel and resort ventures proved small compared with its other businesses; but for the first half of 2013, the company posted an average revenue per available room of P6,989 each night at its resorts, based on its financial statement. Ayala Land is working to expand its tourism-related business that it earlier identified as one of the growth engines of the country, as it works to expand its footprint in several locations in the Philippines. “We want to have a balanced growth. We will keep on investing on the recurring part to give us far greater stability,” Aquino said in an earlier interview. Ayala Land aims to develop a total of 1,000 hectares of tourism-estate properties in choice parts of the country. For 2013, the company reported profits reaching P11.74 billion, 30 percent higher than last year’s P9.04 billion. Consolidated revenues reached P81.52 billion, 36 percent higher year-on-year. Revenue from its hotels and resorts grew by 64 percent to P4.02 billion in 2013 from P2.45 billion the previous year, primarily driven by contributions from new hotels and resorts. The company, through Ayala Land Hotels and Resorts Corp. currently operates 1,294 internationally branded hotels, including Hotel InterContinental Manila, Cebu City Marriott, Fairmont Hotel and Raffles Residences Makati, Holiday Inn and Suites Makati and 515 Seda Hotel at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, Centrio Cagayan de Oro and Abreeza Davao.

Philexport bares growth-boosting reform agenda Category: Top News   25 Feb 2014    Written by Catherine N. Pillas  The Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) is pushing a reform agenda seen sustaining the significant contribution of the export industry to the country’s local output, or the gross domestic product (GDP), and considered vital to the long-term goals set under the Philippine Development Plan. “We need to go beyond the current survival mode if the industry is to continue contributing at least 35 percent to the country’s GDP. What can make a big sustainable difference are reforms that will address perennial, and some even deeply rooted, problems,” said Philexport President Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. on Tuesday at an economic forum hosted by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Philexport executive cited several legislative measures that need to be addressed from the exporters’ perspective, namely, the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act; Competition Policy; amendment to the Charters of the Philippine Ports Authority; and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, as well as amendments to the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. For the executive side, the Philexport president proposed for the simplification of tax policies, as well as action lowering the cost of shipping, power and export fees, which all impact on the delivery of services and goods in the country. Further, labor productivity can be improved on through capacity building and aiding technology acquisition, Ortiz-Luis said. Notably, he said, the funds allocated for export promotion are inadequate or inferior to most countries in Asia. This, the president said, is key to achieving the exports target by 2016. The revival of the manufac-turing industry should also continue to receive support from the government, according to Ortiz-Luis. He also said infrastructure development will help narrow the expanding gap between the country’s robust economic performance and the rising unemployment rate. “Working with the Export Development Council, Philexport intends to push these advocacies and programs which will form the core of the 2014-2016 Philippine Exports Development Plan [PEDP], where export growth is aimed at 10- percent annual growth starting in 2014 to 2016 for both merchandise and services sectors,” said Ortiz-Luis, citing previously mentioned targets in the PEDP. Of the projected growth for merchandise and services, the share of services in exports was expected to improve by 23 percent to $27.9 billion by 2016, while the merchandise sector was seen to still account for the bulk of exports by 2016, with exports pegged at $ 92.179 billion

Of this amount, the share of services was expected to improve by 23 percent to $27.994 billion in 2016. The merchandise sector should still continue to account for the bulk with $92.179 billion in 2016. Finally, the PEDP envisions more public and private-sector partnerships down the line to help sustain the growing economy. Philexport and the Export Development Council, according to Ortiz-Luis, have generated accumulated exports worth $50 billion that will be boosted further if the proposed reforms were be implemented. Based on a previous interview with the BusinessMirror, the PEDP for 2014-2016 will be released sometime in March.

Imports posted flat growth in 2013–PSA Category: Economy   25 Feb 2014    Written by Cai U. Ordinario  The country’s merchandise imports posted flat growth in the full year of 2013, according to data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Tuesday. The PSA said the country’s imports posted a growth of 0.7 percent in January to December 2013 from 1.9 percent in the same period in 2012. The country’s aggregate import bill reached $61.71 billion last year from $62.129 billion in the same period last year. “I’m not too worried about that [because] as you must have seen, the peso has depreciated. What that means is the local production that may compete with import has become more attractive so local production must have increased so that substitutes for your imports,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan told reporters at the sidelines of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) General Assembly on Tuesday. Balisacan also said that what is important in terms of imports is the composition of the actual imports that were shipped to the Philippines. He said an increase in the growth of the import of raw materials and capital goods is positive for the country. He said these kinds of imports are needed to spur the growth of investments in the country. The government aims to increase investments by way of local or foreign direct investments (FDI) which can create more jobs to employ Filipinos. “You have to look at the composition of imports. I don’t mind that imports are flat [if] the bulk of what was coming in is say raw materials, durable equipment that we would need for investment. So you look at the quality of the import. But over time as the economy continues to improve, you’d expect imports to be growing positively,” Balisacan said. In December 2013 the country’s import growth decreased 0.1 percent to $5.294 billion from $5.300 billion in December 2012. This, however, is 1.1-percent increased compared to November 2013’s $5.236 billion. There was a decline in imports of telecommunication equipment and electrical machinery (-45.6 percent); aircraft, ships and boats (-29.2 percent); office and EDP machines (-33.9 percent); power-generating and specialized machines (-9.5 percent); and photographic equipment and optical goods (-17.9 percent), which significantly affected capital goods. “The negative growth resulted from the decrease in imports of the following major commodity groups: feeding stuff for animals [not including unmilled cereals]; electronic products; industrial machinery and equipment; iron and steel; and transport equipment,” the PSA said. Further, the PSA said imported merchandise of Electronic Products were the top imported commodity in December 2013, accounting for 22.6 percent and value amounting to $1.196 billion of the total importbill. It contracted by 7.3 percent over last year’s figure of $1.289 billion. On a monthly basis, it rose by 2.9 percent from $1.162 billion recorded in November 2013.

Among the major groups of electronic products, Components/Devices (Semiconductors), had the biggest share of 17.2 percent, decreased by 2.9 percent from $938.14 million in December 2012 compared to $910.94 million in December 2013. The country’s biggest import sources for 2013 were the People’s Republic of China which accounted for 13.01 percent of total imports in 2013; United States of America including Alaska and Hawaii, 10.84 percent; and Japan, including Okinawa, 8.46 percent. In December the top import sources were China with a 14.7-percent share; US, 10.9 percent; and Republic of Korea, 8 percent. Imports from China amounted to $8.03 billion in 2013. In December the country’s import payments to China reached $776.49 million, an increase of 29.9 percent from $597.74 million in December 2012. Shipments from the US amounted to $6.69 billion in 2013. In December the country’s import bill for US imports reached $575.79 million a 31.4-percent decline from $839.11 million in December 2012. Imports from Japan amounted to $5.22 billion in 2013. In December imports from Japan amounted to $405.07 million, an 11-percent decline from the $455.12 million in December 2012. The PSA said imports from the Republic of Korea amounted $4.77 billion in 2013. In December import payments to Korea reached $422.22 million, a 10-percent growth from $383.78 million in the same period of last year. The country’s total imports in December 2013 from East Asia (China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea and Taiwan) accounted for 39.8 percent of the total. Total imports with total payments of $2.105 billion was 8.1 percent from $1.948 billionin December 2012. Imported goods from Association of Southeast Asian Nations member-countries for December 2013 registered at $1.199 billion, contributed 22.6-percent share, increasing by 7.3 percent from $1.118 billion registered in December 2012. Data also showed that imports from European Union were valued at $559.81 million. It increased by 10.8 percent compared to a year ago recorded value of $505.34 million.

UAE wants stronger bilateral-trade ties with PHL Category: Economy   25 Feb 2014    Written by Catherine Pillas with PNA  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is interested to pursue stronger bilateral trade relations with the Philippines, according to Minister of Economy Sultan Saeed Al Mansouri, who brought with him a highranking delegation in the country for the Philippines-UAE Business Forum on Tuesday. Al Mansouri had earlier engaged the Philippines to plan with UAE to grow trade between the two countries by exploring trade and investment opportunities in their business communities. He said that in 2012, two-way trade between Philippines and UAE was valued at $515 million. Exports from Philippines to UAE posted at $380 million while imports to Philippines stood at $135 million. ”I think we can do much more.... We need to have a plan. We need to really understand each other better in terms of how we can do business, how you can also attract investments to the Philippines,” he said. Moreover, Al Mansouri also held a meeting with Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo, who told newsmen that the UAE minister is inviting the Philippines to come and explore business opportunities in UAE. ”They also invited us to come over to UAE to bring a business delegation. They also invited us to participate; they have a big investment forum in Dubai wherein [more than] 4,000 investors [globally] would be there,” Domingo said at the sidelines of the business forum. The delegation of UAE is composed of 22 senior-level business delegates from a wide-variety sectors which include hotel, oil, and petrochemical ventures among others. ”Utilize the delegation that we brought here. Because it is a high-ranking delegation because most of them would like to explore in details the possible opportunities that the Philippines that might find for our investors. I want you to capture this moment,” Al Mansouri said. Al Mansouri also urged Filipino businessmen to explore opportunities in knowledge economy in UAE as the Arab country aims to grow the share of knowledge economy to its gross domestic product to 5 percent in 2021. The Minister noted that UAE is reducing its reliance to oil production and broaden the scope of its economy to other sectors such as aviation and knowledge economy among others. He also acknowledged the overseas Filipino workers contribution to the growth of its economy. ”We would also like to assure you that your brothers and sisters in the UAE which is estimated to be more 500,000, who call UAE their home, continue to enjoy safe and harmonious living in our country. [We are] very proud of their contribution and achievement in our country. They are one of the best people who [are] contributing to the economy of the UAE,” Al Mansouri said. ”I am confident that we will witness many more sets of opportunities for our nation and the Philippines…. Converting these opportunities to possibilities is essential for us that we will build for prospect,” he said.

Aquino warns Cabinet slowpokes, LGU execs: Don’t test my patience Category: Nation   24 Feb 2014    Written by Butch Fernandez  PRESIDENT Aquino nearly lost his cool on Monday upon learning that electricity has not been fully restored in Cateel town, Davao Oriental, more than a year after Typhoon Pablo devastated Eastern Mindanao. Braving erratic weather, Mr. Aquino, accompanied by several Cabinet members, pushed through with his scheduled inspection this week of several provinces to personally check on the progress of government rehabilitation efforts for typhoon- ravaged regions in southern Philippines. Speaking before local officials and residents at Cateel, his first stop in the five-province inspection tour, Mr. Aquino recalled that the second-class municipality was one of the hardesthit areas where homes and other infrastructure were totally wiped out and residents forced to endure lack of water supply, electricity and communication service cut off by Pablo. While most vital services were back to normal, Mr. Aquino admitted he was surprised to learn that electric supply was not yet restored in a number of barangays there. He publicly warned officials concerned not to test his patience. He informed the affected Cateel residents gathered at the municipal plaza he had immediately contacted Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla and National Electrification Administrator Edita Bueno to find out what happened and was dissatisfied with the reply he got from these officials. “The answer I got is that there is already a pending request from the NEA [National Electrification Administration but the DBM [Department of Budget and Management] said the request was not with them,” the President said. “Sa kuryente po, kakatapos ko lang kausap si Secretary Abad, tinawagan na rin po si Secretary Petilla, at ang atin pong NEA administrator. Tinawagan ko ho dahil ako’y nagulat na bakit meron pa palang lugar dito na hindi naibabalik ang kuryente? Tapos ang sagot sa akin ay meron na hong pending request ang NEA; sagot ng DBM wala ho sa amin ‘yung request.” Mr. Aquino said he then asked the Department of Energy to find out where the request for electrification of the town was and demanded to get a “clear answer” from the officials concerned before he leaves Cateel, prompting an applause from the crowd. “Tinatanong ko ngayon ang DOE: Nasaan ba talaga ’yang request na ’yan? Buti pa, sa tagal ng beses ’kong tinanong sa inyo ito, bago ako umalis sa Cateel kailangan ko ng sagot na matino at maayos.” “For sure, these officials know that I seldom lose patience; I hope they would not test the limit of my patience,” Aquino added. [Alam ho nila tayo’y bihira po mawalan ng pasensya, ’wag sana nilang subukan.] The President went on to conduct an aerial inspection of Davao Oriental’s sprawling chili farms that local folks have renamed as “Hot Pablo,” after which Mr. Aquino also did an ocular

inspection of rice plantations and restored infrastructure, including the so-called Presidential Bridge in Lumao, Alegria. Mr. Aquino then flew to Loon, Bohol, for the next leg of his inspection tour, where the President was scheduled to preside over a town hall meeting with victims of last year’s 7.2-magnitude earthquake. President Aquino, veering from tradition, opted for provincial visits to mark the annual anniversary of the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolt that ousted the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and installed his mother, the late former president the downfall of Marcos.

President Aquino must start thinking about his legacy Category: Opinion   25 Feb 2014    Written by William Pesek 

AT Malacañang, talk easily turns to ghosts. When President Aquino arrives for our interview, we’re seated in the Music Room, right next to the old office of Ferdinand Marcos, the dictator who threw his political rival—the President’s late father, former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr.—into prison during martial law. A giant portrait of the President’s mother, Corazon Aquino, who succeeded Marcos, hangs in a nearby ballroom. The same walls feature paintings of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Joseph Estrada, President Aquino’s two predecessors, who both ended up in jail and whose combined 12-year legacy of corruption and neglect still haunts Filipinos. As President Aquino settles in for a 90-minute chat, the past hangs like a shadow over our conversation. Mr. Aquino’s six-year term is all about exorcising the demons of his corrupt predecessors and scaring up a more prosperous path for an economy that had been left for dead. He’s won investment-grade ratings and caught the attention of chief executives around the globe. But with just over two years left in office, President Aquino’s biggest challenge may be to prevent backsliding after he’s gone. It’s vital that he cement his reforms now, so that when he leaves the Palace in 2016, his legacy stands taller and firmer than all the others. “We are trying to move from personality-based politics to issue-based politics,” President Aquino explains. That’s a bolder statement in the Philippines than it might appear on the surface. President Aquino’s immediate predecessor, Arroyo, was lifted into office by the celebrity of her father, Diosdado Macapagal, who was president from 1961 to 1965. She replaced a former film actor—Estrada—who was impeached in 2001 for plunder. In 2004 she almost lost to another actor without any governing experience, Fernando Poe Jr. When he died suddenly months after that election, Poe’s wife, actress Susan Roces, took up her husband’s presidential ambitions. Given his parentage, of course, President Aquino’s rise was somewhat personality-based, too. The six-year (1986 to 1992) presidency of his mother evokes powerful memories for Filipinos. Any shortcomings in Corazon’s governing skills were made up for with heart and dogged perseverance. Nostalgia for that time inspired the masses to urge her son to run for president—an office his advisers insist he never coveted. But President Aquino is that rare dynastic leader who has confounded the skeptics. The list of Mr. Aquino’s accomplishments is well-known: increasing tax revenues; going after graft; defying the powerful Catholic Church on population-control efforts; attracting more foreign capital; and investing in infrastructure and education to reduce poverty. But his biggest coup may be this: raising the collective expectations of a nation that had lost all faith in its leaders. “We draw our strength from our people and our people will not allow backsliding,” President Aquino says, stressing that “the Filipino people are our bosses.” Now that Filipinos have tasted competent governance, will they settle for anything less? Sadly, history shows how a bad leader or two can set the Philippines back by years. Remember that the days of Fidel Ramos, who succeeded Corazon in 1992, were drenched in optimism. The reform-minded leader helped avoid the worst of the Asian crisis, even producing a budget surplus in 1997 as Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea were blowing up.

President Aquino’s predecessors left him with a much bigger mess to clean up, amid a less forgiving global environment. Still, in the remaining two-plus years in his term, he must focus on laying a foundation that those who follow him can build upon. The good-governance reforms he’s championed have to be institutionalized. That means strengthening the judiciary, creating a more powerful and fully independent anti-corruption agency, and encouraging freer watchdog groups to police the government. Doing more to clamp down on rampant smuggling at the Bureau of Customs would free up tens of billions of dollars to improve education, fund new airports and build better power grids to reduce the cost of doing business. Greater effort must also go into creating well-paying jobs to woo home more of the 10 million Filipinos currently forced to work overseas. At the same time, Mr. Aquino must be careful that an economy growing at a rate north of 7 percent doesn’t overheat—a risk, he says, he’s monitoring carefully. “We are very proactive; we’re trying to control any speculative activity,” the President says. Above all, the President would be wise to begin grooming a successor, someone who represents continuity to ensure that “Aquinonomics” isn’t undone by whoever comes next. Leaving presidential succession to chance could imperil the virtuous cycle President Aquino has unleashed. The ghosts of past leaders aren’t dead. Imelda Marcos, the shoe-loving widow of Ferdinand, still sits in Congress, while her son is a senator and her eldest daughter is a provincial governor. Arroyo also has a congressional seat, while Estrada left prison only to be elected mayor of Manila. The room is heavy with understatement when President Aquino stresses that “there’s so much to be done in this country.”

President Aquino cites insurance industry contribution to nationbuilding Category: Banking & Finance   25 Feb 2014  President Aquino hailed the role of the insurance industry in securing public welfare which, he said, was highlighted by the string of natural calamities that hit the country the past year. In a message to Fortune Life Insurance Co. for its Annual Awards Night tonight (February 26) in honor of its top sales producers, the President said insurance companies enable the people to cope with natural disasters. “You allow our people to prepare for and overcome their vulnerabilities amid the shifting tides of today’s milieu,” the President said. He added: “We in government count on you as our partners in keeping our citizenry healthy and productive, while also securing our economy’s growth.” A total of 37 sales agents and managers will receive awards in various categories, led by the top Insurance Specialist, Agency Manager and Field Agency Manager awardees. Insurance Commissioner Emmanuel F. Dooc is guest of honor and speaker at the awards ceremonies to be held at Citystate Tower Hotel in Ermita, Manila. Ambassador Antonio L. Cabangon Chua, founder and chairman emeritus of Fortune Life; D. Arnold A. Cabangon, president; and Evelyn T. Carada, executive vice president and general manager, will lead top company officials in welcoming the awardees, sales agents and executives from the company’s branches nationwide. Established almost 30 years ago, Fortune Life Insurance is a member of the Fortune Insurance Group of Companies, which also includes Fortune General Insurance Corp., a nonlife insurer, and Fortune Medicare Inc., or FortuneCare, a managed care company and pioneer in the health maintenance organization industry, also founded by Cabangon Chua.

Securiity Bank pours p mo ore resou urces into o retail le ending Category: Banking & Finaance   25 Feb 2014  Security Ban nk Corp. has p poured more o of its resource es into retail lending g this year w where such resources com mprise roughly 40 pe ercent of portfo olio from only a around 10 perccent at present. This was lea arned on Tuessday from Secu urity Bank Pre esident and Chief Exxecutive Officer Alberto Villarrosa who anticcipated a healthy gro owth path for its loan and d deposit produccts this year. “We see a significant mo ovement in ccontribution off retail banking in 20 015 to 2016 o onward. We exxpect contributtion, in net income e, to grow 20 percent to 30 0 percent and peak at 35 pe ercent in five yyears,” Villarossa said at the e news conference e he called as part p of activities s related to the e effort to projecct a more custo omer-centered brand of service. “We have built the institu ution’s [solid] financial and co orporate state.. As we have established ou ur presence, w we now think it is th he opportune time t to make our o presence [ffelt more] in rettail banking. In n 2012 we mad de the investment for an expanded retail branch network. Now w, we have the e same passion n, a new face,” Villarosa said. SB Executtive Vice Presiident Ma. Cristtina Tingson, head h of retail banking, said the rebranding g effort supporrts the bank’s reta ail strategy for higher growth. Retail busines ss, he said, forrms an importa ant part of a thrree-legged app proach to that exp pansion program m. Security Ba ank aims to complement reta ail banking with h two other pillars—the comm mercial and corporrate banking on nes. “Retail bus siness will help balance our prrofitability more e,” she said. Tingson sa aid net interest margin (NIM) from f loans still form a large p art of the reven nue mix. “In the med dium term, reta ail banks would d be one of the three legs of u universal bank , contributing a about one-third of the bottom line e of the bank, moving m forward,” Villarosa said. The bank considers c itselff successful in making its pres sence felt in th he corporate le nding sphere a and in catering to the so-called middle m market. He said six or seven ye ears ago, Secu urity Bank had d 117 branche es but now thiss has grown to 244, includin ng the branches of o its thrift unit, Security Bank Savings. “We believ ve that we are very v near to the e optimum bran nches that we n need to service e our target ma arket,” he said. Security Ba ank Executive Vice Presiden nt Eduardo M. Olbes, concurrrently head of corporate and d investment ba anking segment, said s in expanding the retail market, m they ide entified growth potentials in N North and South h Luzon areas where there are strong s business s concentration ns. High grow wth areas also include Cebu u, Bacolod in Negros Island d, Leyte and in General Sa antos and Davvao in Mindanao.

“We choose the emerging mass affluent. This segment needs banking the most. They are those whose income reaches P600,000 a year or has monthly household income of P50,000,” Tingson said of the lender’s target market. She said this segment comprise 10 percent of the total population of the country.

In Photo: Alberto Villarosa, Security Bank president and CEO, and Maki Tingson, Security Bank Executive Vice President for Retail Banking Segment, at the bank’s launching of the new logo and news briefing. (Nonie Reyes)

PSBank 2013 net income up 29% to P2.9 billion Category: Banking & Finance   25 Feb 2014    Written by Genivi Factao  Philippine Savings (PS) Bank posted a 29-percent growth in net income to P2.9 billion last year, which translated to a return on average equity of 18.72 percent. PSBank President Vicente R. Cuna said: “In 2013, we focused on expanding our core assets to sustain our growth in the coming years and we are happy with the results." "Our auto and mortgage business continues to strengthen, backed by an aggressive retail deposit campaign,” he added. The thrift-bank arm of the Metrobank Group’s 2013 net income of P2.9 billion was 29 percent higher than net income of only P2.3 billion in 2012 and the result of aggressive growth in its loan portfolio, as well as gains from sale of its investment portfolio. The bank’s gross loan portfolio rose 17 percent to P85.9 billion, boosted by robust growth in consumer loans. “Total deposits, likewise, posted a notable increase of 13 percent year-on-year, surpassing the P100- billion level to end the year at P106.5 billion,” the bank said. The bank reported net non-performing loan (NPL) ratio improving to 0.2 percent, while its NPL coverage ratio stood in excess of 100 percent. With the expansion in PSBank’s core assets, net interest income rose 18 percent to P6.7 billion in 2013 from P5.7 billion in 2012, while total gross revenue grew 18 percent to P14.7 billion from P12.4 billion in 2012. The bank’s capital adequacy ratio), indicative of ability to weather financial reverses without asking shareholders for more capital, remains strong at 16.9 percent as at end-2013. PSBank has a network of 224 branches and 551 ATMs nationwide.

Luzon farmers finish UN-funded business competency course Category: Agri-Commodities   25 Feb 2014    Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga  TWO hundred farmers from Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya have completed business competency course of the Farm Business School (FBS) established by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization (UN-FAO) and the Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI). Agrarian Reform Regional Director Marjorie Alzate said the school aims to teach agrarian-reform beneficiaries (ARBs) the modern and proper way of farming and improve their knowledge in business at the same time. The farmers, the first batch to be taught how to manage their produce as it goes out in the market, were also provided basic knowledge about bookkeeping, cash flows, market surveys, review and selling products, costing and labor and proper packaging of their products. They have undergone a five-month long training that started in June last year and ended in November. The classes are held once a week that allowed farmers to tend their farms and farm animals even during training. The second batch of farmer-students is scheduled to start with the FBS in April in Nueva Vizcaya. The DAR is eyeing the same number of farmers to join the second batch of training on business competency. Heiko Bammann, a representative of FAO-United Nations Headquarters in Rome was present during the graduation rites of the first batch of farmers under the FBS program. “The most important is that you can stand up and speak up to your buyers. Now that your knowledge on business is broadened and you speak the language, you can now set-up and negotiate much better,” Bammann said. FAO Specialist Gomer Tumbali agrees that the farmers will greatly benefit once they apply and practice what they have learned in the next cropping season. He said the marketing skills taught to the ARBs plus their lessons on product packaging will definitely help in adding quality to their products and most important, attract more buyers. According to Alzate, the ARBs are set to continue with regular discussions and fora even after finishing the FBS program to further improve their farm management skills and knowledge.

GenSan seeks P200-million grant to modernize fishing industry Category: Agri-Commodities   24 Feb 2014    Written by PNA  GENERAL SANTOS CITY—The city government is pushing for the release of a P200-million grant from the national government to facilitate the modernization of the city’s thriving fishing industry. City Mayor Ronnel Rivera said on Monday the grant will mainly be utilized to fund the required upgrading and modernization of local fishing fleets and the implementation of various support programs for the industry. He said the local government is currently working with the office of Sen. Cynthia Villar, who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, for the availment of the financial grant. “We will use this to develop further our fishing industry and eventually make the more than just the tuna capital of the Philippines,” he said. Rivera said they initially tasked local tuna industry stakeholders, specifically members of the Soccsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Inc. (SFFAAII), to come up with sustainable project proposals focusing on the advancement of the city’s fishing industry. He said they are specifically looking after proposals that will help address the compliance of local fishing fleets to the regulations set by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). “We need to justify to the higher ups that we need the auxiliary budget to improve our standing in the global export market and eventually contribute more in the country’s economy,” he said. The WCPFC was established through the Convention for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, of which the Philippines was a signatory, that came into force in 2004. The commission, which is overseeing the management of the declining tuna stocks in the Pacific Ocean, required fishing vessels operating within the area to install vessel-monitoring systems, deploy an observer and use of appropriate net size to prevent the catching of juvenile tuna. The WCPFC cited that “purse seine net shall have mesh sizes not less than 3.5 inches starting at the mid-body to the entire wing, while ring nets shall have mesh sizes not less than 3.5 inches at both wings.” The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources earlier acknowledged that most fishing companies in the area were facing difficulty in complying with the fishnet requirement due to their high costs. Aside from the upgrading of the tuna fishing fleets, Rivera said the city government has discussed a potential partnership with the Mindanao State University (MSU) campus here in terms of marine and fishery education. MSU General Santos Chancellor Abdurrahman Canacan earlier proposed to “revolutionize a new curriculum for marine and fishery courses” through the university’s College of Fisheries.

Canacan noted that only a few students have been taking interest in fishery-related courses and it might eventually affect the industry’s growth. Marfenio Tan, former president of SFFAAII, agreed with Canacan’s assessment, adding that the new curriculum should be equipped with comprehensive subjects on modern fishery and fishing technologies. Tan said that a part of the P200-million grant could be used to buy modern fishing equipment for the university, like underwater sonars and radars, to expose students in “actual fishing” methods.

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Posted on February 25, 2014 11:48:55 PM

Lower inflation seen with rate hike’s shelving

INFLATION forecasts for the year could be lowered given a fresh stay order on a controversial Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) rate hike and the outcome of Supreme Court deliberations, a senior Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) official said. THE SUPREME COURT has extended, to April 22, a temporary restraining order on the implementation of a P4.15/kilowatthour power rate hike.

"It might be lower," central bank Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo told reporters late on Monday when asked if a new 60-day restraining order would affect the 2014 inflation outlook of 4.3%. A more concrete assessment would depend on the "kind of ruling that they (SC) will come up with, in terms of amount and schedule of the implementation," he added. The high court last Wednesday extended a temporary restraining order -- set to expire Feb. 21 -- by another 60 days or up to April 22. Justices ordered Meralco last Dec. 23 to suspend a P4.15/kilowatt-hour (kWh) rate increase that was to be implemented beginning that month and completed this February and March. The BSP’s policy-setting Monetary Board last Feb. 6 cited the rate hike’s shelving when it trimmed the 2014 inflation forecast to 4.3% from the 4.5% announced in December. The 2015 forecast, meanwhile, was raised to 3.3% from 3.2%. Both estimates fall within the central bank’s target ranges of 3-5% and 2-4% for this year and the next, respectively. Mr. Guinigundo has said that once implemented, the power rate hike would result in a 15 basis point increase in the 2014 inflation forecast. The 2015 projection, meanwhile, would be hiked by seven basis points. Inflation settled at 4.2% in January, inching up from December’s 4.1%. The Monetary Board’s next policy meeting will be held on March 27. -- A. R. R. Gregorio

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Posted on February 25, 2014 11:47:21 PM

Economic growth could again exceed target

THE ECONOMY could again grow beyond target this year, an analyst yesterday said, driven by increased investments and efforts to rehabilitate typhoon-devastated areas. "We expect gross domestic product [growth] to reach 7.5-8% this year," First Metro Investment Corp. President Roberto Juanchito T. Dispo said at a Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry meeting. The outlook was higher than a 7-7.5% projection announced prior to the release of 2013 GDP results last month. The economy grew by 7.2% last year, topping a 6-7% target, despite a fourth-quarter hit from natural disasters. The government has set a higher 6.5-7.5% goal for 2014. "The government has allotted around P404 billion in infrastructure this year. In addition, the government has allotted around P130 billion for the rehabilitation of areas affected by super typhoon Yolanda," Mr. Dispo noted. "The silver lining of this calamity would be the rehabilitation component, which would bring a lot of employment and investments," he added. Mr. Dispo also cited a pool of young and skilled workers who are driving consumption and investments in both services, particularly in business process outsourcing (BPO), and manufacturing. "These four important factors will support this year’s growth," he said. Growth could even be higher, Mr. Dispo noted, if the government is able to address issues such as lack of research and development investments and high power and unemployment rates. Dan Steinbock, research director at the India China and American Institute, was also upbeat, saying: "I think the government projection of 7.5% is doable." "The government’s own investments, BPO, and remittances will support this growth," he said. While "the growth can be sustained" due to strong fundamentals, however, "the problem is you have an international environment that remains uncertain." Among others, Mr. Steinbock said the country would be affected by a rivalry between the US and China for regional influence. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio S. Balisacan, speaking at the sidelines of another forum, yesterday said the government was confident of meeting this year’s GDP goal. For the first quarter, economic expansion "will depend on the rate of spending on the rehabilitation," he noted.


Posted on February 07, 2014 05:00:49 PM By Victor Cesar Ubaldo, IDEA

CCT: An Enabling Approach to Poverty Reduction NOW HEADING on to its seventh year, the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program has become a key plank in the government’s longstanding fight against poverty. There are those, however, who still do not fully appreciate the merits of CCTs. Meant to target the needy and the youth, the fruits of this program will be seen in a healthier and better-educated new generation of Filipinos in the long-run. -- File photo shows a mother and her children watching a religious procession in Manila. Photo taken on January 5, 2014. Photo by Jonathan L. Cellona

Also known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the CCT Program supports the poorest households in the Philippines by providing them with cash grants provided certain conditions are met, such as keeping their kids at school and having regular medical check-ups. This poverty alleviation program attempts to help the neediest Filipinos by allowing them to actively take part in improving their regular lifestyle. In a status report released by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the program has registered almost four million households as of June 2013. There are broken down to 1.6 million, 1.5 million, and 0.8 million households in Luzon, Mindanao, and Visayas, respectively. From January to April 2013, these households received almost P13 billion for their many needs. The program selects the poorest households through the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction. Once eligible, households may receive cash assistance of P6,000 per year for health, P3,000 per school year for each child, and P15,000 a year per household, as long as they comply with the conditions. The CCT program has two main objectives. The first is social assistance. By providing cash directly to the poor, it alleviates the immediate needs of the family. One of these needs is food, to which hunger continues to be a persistent problem in the Philippines. Also, conditions such as having regular health check-ups and keeping children in school help will benefit the family. With regular compliance, the household will grow with a strong concern for health and education. This leads to the second objective which is social development. Families that get to solve the basic household necessities of health and education will be better equipped to make their way out of poverty. Are we perhaps mindlessly giving billions of pesos in the hope that the poor will actually comply? It’s true that it’s up to every household to comply with the program’s conditions, but this is something we’re banking on. If these households do not comply with the conditions, they risk being removed from the program and unable to receive the cash benefits. A Compliance Verification System (CVS) checks on the compliance status of the beneficiaries. Thankfully, however, the DSWD confirms a compliance rate of at least 95% through the CVS. This positive figure shows that the money invested in this program is being put to good use, and may be on the road to success. This success hinges on these households that have chosen to comply. Thus, the government does not become some anonymous donor of cash but is rather more of one that cooperates with every registered family in a direct and personal manner. Ronald Mendoza of the Asian Institute of Management defends the 4Ps by saying that the benefits of the program will be felt in the future, since the aim is to focus on the youth, the next generation of Filipinos. The

Filipino youth of 15-24 years of age is expected to peak by around 2040-2050, according to the United Nations. Our nation should be built on a strong foundation of skilled and healthy citizens, or else it cannot support a growing economy. In pursuing solutions to poverty, perhaps one may be tempted to think that it is impossible to help every singe individual. This course of thinking, however, presumes that the government or any external agent involved in poverty alleviation as the sole actors in solving the problem. The truth is, everyone needs to cooperate -- not only those lending a helping hand, but also those that need their assistance. They simply lack the resources and opportunities that others in society have. It may simply require a little push in order to get them going, like a ball of potential energy up on a hill. These people have a lot of potential, and making great investments in the human capital of the Philippines is sure to make a great impact in the whole of society.

The Institute for Development and Econometric Analysis (IDEA), Inc. is a non-stock, nonpartisan institution dedicated to high-quality economic research, instruction, and communication. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the organization. For questions and inquiries, please contact Remrick Patagan via ideainc.mail[@] or telefax no. 920-6872.


Posted on February 25, 2014 10:16:22 PM

Goods exports to jump 40% EXPORTERS are optimistic that outbound shipments of merchandise products will increase this year as the country’s top export, electronics, is projected to sustain growth. "This year, the goods sector is positioned to reach $75.594 billion," Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport) President Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr. yesterday said, at a general membership meeting of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Makati City. The projection was 40% higher than the $53.978 billion booked last year, which in turn was a 3.6% increase from 2012 but short of the government’s 10% target. "This is just our (Philexport’s) estimate," said Mr. Ortiz-Luis. Asked what products will support the increased export receipts, the industry leader told reporters: "Electronics. Electronics are basically back on the map." Shipments of electronics were down for most of 2013. July shipments snapped a seven-month slump, fell again in August, and then went up in September. Then, in December, electronics exports were 26% higher year-on-year. For all of 2013, electronics shipments fell by around 4%, but this was still better than the 10-12% contraction projected by the Semiconductors and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Inc. (SEIPI) last October. SEIPI had a 5% growth target for electronics exports in 2013 but abandoned it in October given sluggish global demand. The group had said that while orders were rising, prices were dropping. But, Philexport’s Mr. Ortiz-Luis said the country’s exports are also increasingly being supported by other products such as wood products, processed food, agricultural products such as pineapple and coconut, and metals. These, he said, will also drive this year’s growth. Asked if the target was realistic, SEIPI President Dan C. Lachica said: "Not for electronics." "How can this be true with high power costs and truck bans?" Mr. Lachica said, referring to a controversial ordinance by the City of Manila preventing eight-wheelers and vehicles carrying a load of 4,500 kilograms and above from using city roads, 5:00-9:00 A.M. and 3:00-9:00 P.M. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has yet to give an official growth target for this year, which will be included in the Philippine Export Development Plan 2014-2016 that will be released next month. DTI Bureau of Export Trade Promotion Director Senen M. Perlada said last month that he expects 7-8% growth in exports this year from an estimated $76 billion in earnings last year from both manufactured goods and services. -- Daryll Edisonn D. Saclag

Ex-justicees warrn Hou use: D Don’t sshortcu ut Chacha By Mariicel Cruz | Feb. F 26, 2014 4 at 12:01am m Two legaal luminariess on Tuesday y advised Sp peaker Feliciiano Belmonnte Jr. to takee the ‘safer’ route in his h Charter Change C initiaative by conv vening the tw wo chamberrs of Congress in a joint session and a voting on n the proposal separately y. “My sugg gestion is lett’s take the safer s route. Let’s L not takke unnecessaary risks,” reetired chief justice Reynato R Puno o, president emeritus e of the t Philippinne Constitutiion Associattion (Philconnsa), told legisslators at a hearing h condu ucted by thee House com mmittee on coonstitutionall amendmentts chaired by b Davao Citty Rep. Mylene Garcia-A Albano.




Puno warrned the Hou use leadersh hip led by Beelmonte that railroading the process of amendingg the 1987 Con nstitution wo ould only “in nvite a stron ng constitutioonal challengge before thee Supreme Court.” Puno, tog gether with retired r Supreeme Court Associate A Jusstice Vicentee Mendoza toold the paneel that the Housse of Represeentatives and d the Senate should be abble to conveene jointly inn proposing amendmeents to the Charter, C while voting sep parately. The committee resum med its discu ussion on ressolution of both Houses of Congresss No. 1 authoored by Speak ker Feliciano o Belmonte Jr. J Also invitted as resourrce persons w were retired associate juustice Adolf Azzcuna, Dean Danilo Con ncepcion of the t Universitty of the Phiilippines Colllege of Law w and Jose Anto onio of the Bernas B Law Office to shed light on tthe proposedd ‘unless othherwise provision n’ proposal of o Belmonte as a mode in n tinker-ing with the ecoonomic provvisions of thee Constutu ution. The committee voweed to subject Belmonte’ss proposal too the regular legislative pprocess throuugh the consttitutional req quirement off three-fourth hs vote, and that both thee House andd the Senate w will vote sepaarately. Article XVII, X Section n 1 of the Co onstitution provides p that any amendm ment to, or rrevision of thhe Constituttion may be proposed by y the Congreess “upon a vvote of threee-fourths of aall its members.”

Belmonte’s resolution intends to remove the 60-40 percent Filipino-foreign investor equity limitations as well as allowing foreigners to own up to 100 percent of land and businesses. It seeks to add the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” in specific areas of the Constitution: natural resources, foreign ownership of land, media, education and advertising. But Puno said the House could not do a shortcut in amending the Charter, given the historical background of the 1987 Charter which, he said, was a “product of inadvertence.” “It was approved not in the finest moments of the Constitutional Commission,” he said. “You cannot proceed given that reality. Given the historical background, you can’t proceed with that kind of logic.” Puno also pointed to the mistake committed by the Con-Com’s Committee on Amendments and Transitory Provision, which he said “neglected” to amend the Constitution’s amendatory provision by specifying that the Charter can accomplish through a three-fourths vote of two Houses of Congress voting separately. Puno pointed out that the absence of the phrase “voting separately” or “jointly” does not justify the fact that Congress need not convene jointly or separately in exercising its powers to amend or revise the Constitu-tion. “The other path (convening Congress in a joint session), is less controversial, a smoother path,” Puno said. “Given this historical background reality, it cannot be interpreted in a manner that will erode the Legisla-ture. Contrary interpretation will cause undesirable consequences.” Mendoza shared Puno’s interpretation, saying Congress must examine the “design” of the Constitution which mandates Congress to vote separately whenever it is not exercising its legislative functions such as de-claring war or revoking the declaration of martial law or the Writ of Habeas Corpus. Mendoza warned Belmonte’s proposal would render the Constitution “tentative and uncertain” by lifting the ban on foreign participation in the economic life of the country since the measure does not specify that it could still be amended in the future or not. “It’s not clear whether after removing the ban, Congress may still re-impose it. If that’s so, it would be better to remove the present restriction permanently rather than in a tentative manner,” Mendoza said. Azcuna, however, defended Belmonte’s mode, saying it is pursuant to Article XVII since the Charter is quiet on how the voting should be undertaken.‐justices‐warn‐house‐don‐t‐shortcut‐cha‐ cha/  

Chin na rejjects PH P prrotestt overr Panaatag incid dent By Joyce Pangco Pan nares | Feb. 26, 2014 at 12:01am   The goveernment on Tuesday T filed a diplomattic protest aggainst Beijinng amid repoorts that Chinna’s Coast Gu uard personn nel fired wateer cannons to drive awayy fishermen from Panataag Shoal, a m move which thee Chinese Em mbassy rejeccted. The Foreeign Affairs Department D said it had summoned s oofficials of thhe Chinese E Embassy in Manila to o personally hand Manilla’s note verb bale against what it deem med as harasssment madee by China ag gainst Filipin no fishermen n in the shoall, a fishing gground off Zambales proovince that liies within th he country’s 200-mile ex xclusive econ nomic zone.

China’s foreign f ministry spokesw woman Hua Chunying, m meanwhile, ssaid she wass not aware oof the issue butt maintained that the shoal is part of China’s terrritory. “I don’t know k anythiing about thee specific sittuation that yyou just menntioned, but I want to emphasizze that Chinaa has indispu utable sovereeignty over tthe Spratly IIslands and ttheir surrounnding maritimee territory. Th he relevant Chinese C marritime forcess are also carrrying out noormal officiaal patrols in n that area,” she told repo orters in Beiijing. Later, in a statement released to all a diplomatiic reporters, Hua said thhat China doees not accept the “so called d protest by the Philippine side.” Hua insissted that the Chinese gov vernment veessels were juust conductiing regular ppatrols withinn China’s jurisdiction, j as part of itss “indisputab ble” sovereiggnty over Soouth China S Sea Islands aand their adjaacent waters, Huangyan Island (Panaatag) includeed”.

The Chinese embassy also urged Manila to “work with the Chinese side to resolve the differences through bilateral consultations and negotiations”. President Benigno Aquino III, who is in Cebu City to lead the commemoration of the 28th anniversary of the 1986 People Power, said he had only learned of the incident which reportedly took place on January 27, but he was leaving it to the DFA to address the issue. “The first step will be a diplomatic message, directed at the People’s Republic of China to ask them to explain what this incident was all about and what their directions are,” Aquino told reporters in Cebu. “And may I add na medyo inconsistent rin yung nangyari dyan. We’re not sure at this point in time if we can call it their standard operating procedure. Kasi as of yesterday, we had fishermen inside the shoal, inside the shoal who are not being harassed or intimidated by any entity. So ayaw naman natin mag-react kung one of incident ‘to that they probably will say was acting not under their orders but out of ‘yung para bang dine-sisyunan ng kapitan ng particular boat na ‘yun. “But be that as it may, I think it is proper for us to ask them exactly what this incident was all about, what their intentions are. And the DFA and the DND, after conferring and after getting the necessary proof... I’m sure... is already drafting the appropriate communications.” On Monday, Armed Forces chief of staff General Emmanuel Bautista said the Chinese coast guard tried to drive away Filipino fishing vessels by using water cannons. He did not say if anyone was hurt and added that China continues to maintain an armed coast guard and other vessels at the shoal. China claims about 90 percent of the South China Sea’s 3.5 million sq km (1.35 million sq mile) waters. The sea provides 10 percent of the global fish catch, carries $5 trillion in ship-borne trade a year and is be-lieved to be rich in energy. Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Vietnam also claim parts of the sea. The Philippines has taken its dispute with China to arbitration under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea but China has refused to participate in the case. DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said that China’s recent action could further escalate the tension between Manila and Beijing in the disputed sea. Hernandez admitted that they had received reports that on Jan. 27, two Filipino fishing boats – the FB8) and FBKIM—out of the 14 which sailed into the shoal, were harassed by a China Coast Guard vessel with bow number 3063 in Bajo de Masinloc (Panatag Shoal). The two fishing boats were 30 to 40 yards away from the shoal when they were allegedly harassed by the Chinese vessel.

“The CCG vessel continuously blew its horn and thereafter doused the fishing vessels with water cannons for several minutes,” Hernandez said. The spokesman added that the same report said that Filipino fishermen were driven away from the shoal while seeking shelter during increment weather. “The department strongly protested the acts of harassment and the manner by which this is committed by China to forcefully drive away vessels from Bajo de Masinloc,” Hernandez said. He added that the DFA learned about the incident only late last week, and they needed to confirm the details before making any “appropriate action” such as filing a diplomatic protest. Hernandez said that this was not the first time that Chinese vessels harassed fishermen, as there were nine other such ‘incidents’ that the DFA had recorded since last year. With Sara Susanne Fabunan and Florante Solmerin‐rejects‐ph‐protest‐over‐panatag‐ incident/                            

‘Bla ack Tu uesday’ kiccks offf drivve agaainst online lib bel By Rio N. Araja | Feb b. 26, 2014 aat 12:01am  DECLAR RING the 28 8th anniversaary of the Peeople Power revolution aas “Black Tuuesday,” grooups of journaalists and nettizens launch hed an online campaign to demand tthe amendmeent the libel provision ns of Republlic Act 10175, or the Cyb bercrime Preevention Actt. The grou ups gathered at the historric site of thee 1986 upris ing—the Eddsa Shrine inn Quezon Citty— and urged d Filipinos to t oppose thee repression of basic freeedoms that hhad already bbeen won through the t People Power P revolu ution 28 yearrs ago.

The grou ups, including party-list groups g Kabaataan and Annakbayan, Saanlakas, Konngreso ng Pagkakaiisa ng Marallitang Lungssod, protested d the provisiions of the laaw and said they were thhe modern-d day equivaleent of martiaal law in the internet. Media grroups Nation nal Union off Journalists of the Philipppines, Philipppine Internnet Freedom Alliance,, Foundation n for Media Alternatives A , Pinoy Meddia Center Supreme Court Associate Justicee Vicente Meendoza told tthe panel thaat the Housee of Represen ntatives and the t Senate sh hould be ablle to convenne jointly in pproposing am mendments tto the Charter, while w voting g separately. The committee resum med its discu ussion on ressolution of both Houses of Congresss No. 1 authoored by Speak ker Feliciano o Belmonte Jr. J Also invitted as resourrce persons w were retired associate juustice Adolf Azzcuna, Dean Danilo Con ncepcion of the t Universitty of the Phiilippines Colllege of Law w and Jose Anto onio of the Bernas B Law Office to shed light on tthe proposedd ‘unless othherwise provision n’ proposal of o Belmonte as a mode in n tinker-ing with the ecoonomic provvisions of thee Constutu ution. The committee voweed to subject Belmonte’ss proposal too the regular legislative pprocess throuugh the consttitutional req quirement off three-fourth hs vote, and that both thee House andd the Senate w will vote sepaarately.

Black Tueesday. Young netizens, m many of wh hom  wore Guyy Fawkes masks (below w), also gathered  at the Ed dsa Shrine to o protest thee provisions of the  cybercrim me preventio on law whicch they claim m  abridgess the freedom ms that havee already  been won in the 198 86 People Po ower Revolu ution.  MANNY PALMERO   Article XVII, X Section n 1 of the Co onstitution provides p that any amendm ment to, or rrevision of thhe Constituttion may be proposed by y the Congreess “upon a vvote of threee-fourths of aall its members.” Belmontee’s resolutio on intends to remove the 60-40 perceent Filipino-fforeign inveestor equity limitation ns as well ass allowing fo oreigners to own o up to 1000 percent oof land and bbusinesses. It seeks to t add the ph hrase “unlesss otherwise provided p by law” in speccific areas of the Constituttion: natural resources, foreign f owneership of lannd, media, edducation andd advertising. But Puno o said the Ho ouse could not n do a shorttcut in amennding the Chharter, given the historicaal backgrou und of the 19 987 Charter which, w he saaid, was a “pproduct of innadvertence.”” “It was approved a nott in the finestt moments of o the Constiitutional Com mmission,” hhe said. “Yoou cannot prroceed given n that reality y. Given the historical h baackground, yyou can’t prooceed with thhat kind of lo ogic.” Puno also o pointed to the mistake committed by b the Con-C Com’s Com mmittee on A Amendments and Transitorry Provision, which he saaid “neglected” to amennd the Constiitution’s ameendatory provision n by specifyiing that the Charter C can accomplish through a thhree-fourths vote of two Houses of o Congress voting v separrately. Puno poiinted out thaat the absencee of the phraase “voting sseparately” oor “jointly” ddoes not justtify the fact th hat Congress need not convene jointtly or separaately in exerccising its pow wers to amend or revise thee Constitu-tiion. “The other path (convening Cong gress in a joiint session), is less contrroversial, a ssmoother patth,” Puno said d. “Given th his historical background d reality, it caannot be inteerpreted in a manner thaat will erod de the Legislaa-ture. Contrrary interpreetation will ccause undesiirable conseqquences.”

Mendoza shared Puno’s interpretation, saying Congress must examine the “design” of the Constitution which mandates Congress to vote separately whenever it is not exercising its legislative functions such as de-claring war or revoking the declaration of martial law or the Writ of Habeas Corpus. Mendoza warned Belmonte’s proposal would render the Constitution “tentative and uncertain” by lifting the ban on foreign participation in the economic life of the country since the measure does not specify that it could still be amended in the future or not. “It’s not clear whether after removing the ban, Congress may still re-impose it. If that’s so, it would be better to remove the present restriction permanently rather than in a tentative manner,” Mendoza said. Azcuna, however, defended Belmonte’s mode, saying it is pursuant to Article XVII since the Charter is quiet on how the voting should be undertaken. With Macon Ramos-Araneta‐black‐tuesday‐kicks‐off‐drive‐against‐online‐ libel/                            

Wro ong on n both h counts By Maniila Standard d Today | Feeb. 26, 2014 4 at 12:01am m

WHEN President P Aq quino contem mplates the state of affairrs in agricultture, he mighht want to keeep in mind the t truism th hat a fool and d his money are soon parrted. This w will certainly happen soonner rather thaan later if Mr. M Aquino do oes nothing to t put an endd to the quesstionable deaals that his toop agricultu ure officials are a consumm mating in thee name of foood security. Already, there is documentary ev vidence that the Philippinnes was disaadvantaged bby a governm mentto-govern nment deal arranged a by the t Nationall Food Authoority (NFA) to buy 500,000 metric ttons of rice from Vietnam m, when a cheeaper offer from f the Thaai governmeent was on thhe table. Because the Thai offfer was 25 US U cents cheaaper per metr tric ton, the ccountry lost some $125,0000 n by going with w Vietnam m, as the NFA A seemed beent on doing. or about P5.6 million o do with ho ow the Vietnaamese foot tthe bill to flyy NFA rice Could thiis haste havee anything to inspectorrs to their co ountry and wined w and din ned them? Thhe whiff of iimpropriety is too ripe too ignore. In its deffense, the NF FA claims th hat the Thai offer o could nno longer bee entertained because it ccame after the bidding had d been conclu uded. The ex xplanation, hhowever, faills to addresss the fact thaat the country has h a memorrandum of ag greement wiith Thailand that essentiaally allows the two parties to negotiatee a lower pricce if Bangko ok’s initial offer o is not accceptable to Manila. Why, in the t face of th his clear opp portunity to save s money,, did the NFA A insist on ggiving the deeal to Vietnam?? And why did d the NFA also importt some 205,0000 MT from m Vietnam eaarlier at a coost that was by some acccounts $34 per p metric ton n more expeensive than itt should havve been? Incrediblly, an NFA spokesman s said s the Thaii offer was iggnored becauuse the agenncy wanted tto avoid “en ndless biddin ng.” The sug ggestion insu ults our intellligence and suggests thaat it is betterr to

rush into an expensive proposition than to spend some time to obtain the best deal. Truly, in this case, haste makes waste. Against this backdrop, the new plan by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag to import 1 million metric tons this year is worrisome, to say the least. Now we learn that the country’s economic managers were kept in the dark about a confidential Justice Department memo that opined that private importers should be allowed to import rice without a permit, following the expiration of quantitative restrictions on rice that the World Trade Organization had earlier sanctioned. Was this done to discourage private importation and to enable the NFA to push through with its expensive government-to-government deals with Vietnam? In his speeches, Mr. Aquino prattles on about how the Philippines can be self-sufficient in rice under his straight path policy, and how imports by the previous administration were overpriced and unnecessary. Now his own top agriculture officials are proving him wrong—on both counts.‐on‐both‐counts/                          

Irrigation board takes up manifesto By Manila Standard Today | Feb. 26, 2014 at 12:01am The National Irrigation Administration Board of Directors has taken up the issues raised by the NIA Employees Association of the Philippines in letter-manifesto read during the flag-raising ceremony last February 10, 2014 at the NIA Central Office in Diliman, Quezon City. In its response dated February 19, the board denied the allegations of the letter sent on February 6 to Malacañang, copy furnished Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. According to the NIA media bureau, the board has instructed the Internal Audit Services to verify and substantiate the claims particularly those involving alleged anomalies within agency. “Based on the statement, once the IAS Report has been received, the Board of Directors will convene to decide on what definitive actions it should take to address, where warranted, any of the allegations,” the bureau said in a statement. “The Board also stated it will remain committed to implement needed reforms and adhere to the highest tenets of good governance.”‐board‐takes‐up‐manifesto/                        

BIR sets P21-billion target for C. Luzon By Fred Villareal | Feb. 26, 2014 at 12:01am CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—The Bureau of Internal Revenue Region 4 office has set a P21billion target for Central Luzon. Regional Director Araceli L. Francisco on Monday launched the collection drive along with Online System for Transfer Tax Transactions, Electronic Certificate Authorizing Registration, Electronic Tax Information Systems and 18 other projects. Also unveiled at the Marquee in Angeles City, the campaign had a new jingle, “I Love the Philippines, I Pay My Taxes Right, It’s As Easy as R[egister], F[ile], P[ay].” Francisco presented the Implementation of Internal Revenue Stamps Integrated System or secured stamps for cigarettes, Run After Tax Evaders program and Oplan Kandado or closure of tax-violating firms. Other programs are the Integrity Management Program, Re-engineering of other Business Processes, Electronic Official Registry Book, e-Linkage with the Bureau of Treasury, Automated Revenue Allotment Computation, Forfeited Asset Management System, the Automated Issuance of Tax Clearance for Bidding Purposes, Online Accreditation of Importers and Brokers, the Online System for Accreditation of Printers which is part of the Taxpayer Registration Information Update. Francisco said processing technology is intended to achieve faster and more accurate handling of transactions. She said region 4 collected P18 billion in 2012, exceeding the P14 billion goal set by the Manila office. “Part of the tax campaign is a quiz contest dubbed as ‘Tax-Gisan ng Galing, Year II’ for senior accountancy students,” Francisco said.‐sets‐p21‐billion‐target‐for‐c‐luzon/          

Pagcor to o shutt down n airp port ccasinoo in July y By Jenniifer Amban nta | Feb. 26,, 2014 at 12:01am State-ow wned Philippiine Amusem ment and Gam ming Corp. aannounced T Tuesday it w will shut downn the operation n of its largest casino neaar the Ninoy y Aquino Intternational A Airport in Parrañaque Cityy.

Naaguiat Pagcor ch hairman and d chief execu utive Cristino o Naguiat saaid Airport C Casino Filipiino-Parañaquue would bee closed by July J this yearr, because off its large opperating expeenses. The ggaming licennse of the Paarañaque bran nch, which has h about 80 00 employee s, will expirre in July. Airport Casino C Filipiino is consid dered the larg gest governm ment-owned casino in terms of size, with 10,000 sq quare meterss. Naguiat said s Airport Casino Filip pino had beeen incurring losses over tthe years. “I really do not want to close a caasino. But fo or us not to lleave that loccation, theree should be a developm ment in that area. a There’’s just no gro owth there,”” Naguiat saiid. Airport Casino C Filipiino also com mpetes with large private casinos, succh as the Ressorts World and Solaire in n the Pagcorr Entertainment City projject. Naguiat said s while Airport A Casin no Filipino was w making aat least P1800 million a m month, it wass not enough to o cover its laarge operatin ng expenses. “Rent alo one is P23 million m every y month,” he said. Naguiat said s Pagcor was preparin ng assistancee for the affeected employyees, although many of them had alreaady left. “It will not n be a prob blem for us, because b at an n average thhere were 50 employees, every monthh, who eitheer resign or retire,” r Nagu uiat said. “Some off them will be b absorbed by other cassinos,” he addded.

Pagcor owns 23 casinos across the country. “Our biggest, in terms of earnings, is the one in Cebu,” he said. Pagcor closed the casino located at the Heritage Hotel in Pasay City last year Pagcor posted P40.52 billion in earnings in 2013, lower than P40.8 billion recorded in 2012. Net revenues in 2013 amounted to P3.09 billion, or P293 million more than P2.8 billion in 2012. Operating expenses fell by almost P1 billion, after closing the Heritage Hotel branch and other cost-cutting measures were put in place.‐to‐shut‐down‐airport‐casino‐in‐july/                                  

Imports fell 0.7% to $61.7b in 2013 By Jennifer Ambanta | Feb. 26, 2014 at 12:01am Imports fell 0.7 percent in 2013 to $61.7 billion from a year ago, after orders for foreign goods declined 0.1 percent in December, the Philippine Statistics Authority said Tuesday. The PSA said merchandise imports in December amounted to $5.29 billion, slightly lower than $5.30 billion a year ago. “However, on a monthly basis, it increased by 1.1 percent compared to previous month’s [November] level of $5.236 billion,” it said. Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said demand for capital goods declined for the first time in five months. “After posting four consecutive months of positive growth from August to November 2013, the value of imported capital goods recorded a double-digit decline of 29.5 percent in December 2013,” said Balisacan, who also serves as the director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority. Total imports in 2013 reached $62.1 billion, down by 0.7 percent from $61.7 billion in 2012 while exports rose 3.6 percent to $54 billion from $52.1 billion. This trimmed the trade deficit to $7.7 billion in 2013 from $10 billion in 2012. Balisacan said orders for capital goods in December were pulled down by the decline in imports of telecommunication equipment and electrical machinery (-45.6 percent) and aircraft, ships and boats (-29.2 percent). Data, however, showed imports of petroleum products, raw materials and intermediate goods, and consumer goods increased in December 2013. The value of overseas purchases of mineral fuels surged 34.7 percent to $1.2 billion in December from $880.8 million in December 2012. Payments for imported raw materials and intermediate goods increased 10.3 percent to $2 billion from $1.9 billion.‐fell‐0‐7‐to‐61‐7b‐in‐2013/        

Trad dema ark B.S. Aq quino By Boy P. P | Feb. 26, 2014 at 12:0 01am

Buddies B listen ning to Presiident Noynooy Aquino’s speech in Cebu Tuesday to commem morate the 28th anniversaary of the Eddsa People Power Revoluution almostt ran out of breeath listening to the Pressident hurry through the customary aacknowledgeement of thee Cabinet officials o and d other biggiees. One had the sense thaat PNoy justt wanted to gget the ceremoniies over and done with, reciting r the names n in onne great rush that made H Happy Hour so tempted to t shout, wh hoa! The President must really be a m man in a hurr rry—since thhe DoTC (annd thereforee, the presideency) also seeems to be ru ushing the M Metro-wide rooad construcction projectts (15 if we are not mistakeen) before hee bows out in n 2016. The speeech was tradeemark B.S. Aquino, A with h the presideent making hhis Cebuano listeners feeel good, sin ngling out their contributtion to Edsa Uno. What’s more, he aasked for apoology in casee his speech would w seem long winded since it wass all coming from the heaart—apparenntly becausee he did not liike the speecch prepared for f him! Poo or Aquino sppeechwriter, whoever hee or she is, juust received a major putd down, and on national TV/radio T at thhat! PNoy allso blamed tthe speech (aand ergo, the writer) on his h tardiness for the celeb bration, sayiing he went oover the preppared draft aand said this is not the waay to do it (o or something g to that effeect). That he can be “takllesa” (tactlesss) is no doubt very tradem mark B.S. Aq quino. The celeb bration in Ceebu was defiinitely a reveelation. The president is just so busyy that he doees not have timee to review speech s drafts way in adv vance. Had hhe been less busy, he woould have beeen able to teell his writer//s what he had h in mind and a what he wants his sppeeches to reeflect. As for peeople asking why the preesident decid ded to celebrrate Edsa in Cebu, his annswer is justt classic: Why W not? Affter all, it’s a masterstrok ke that preveented any pootential embaarrassment consideriing the dwin ndling numbeer of Edsa atttendees thatt has been veery noticeabble in the passt few years Solon sla ams Mactan n-Cebu airp port project delay Still on Cebu, C a lawm maker is gettting impatien nt over the “uunwarrantedd” delay in thhe big-tickett Mactan-C Cebu Airporrt Project thaat should hav ve been awarrded to the w winning conssortium earlyy this year.. Alas, paraly ysis has set in i once again at the Deppartment of T Transportatioon and Commun nications beccause the pro oject is practtically in lim mbo since thee DoTC keepps entertaininng the delay ying tactics of o a disgruntlled loser. We can only o presumee the frustrattion of Housse assistant m majority leadder and Cebuu congressm man Gerald Anthony A Gulllas who has recognized the t income ggenerating ppotential of thhe project, w with the apparrent bid winn ner Megawid de-GMR con nsortium havving expresssed readiness to pay up tthe

P14.4-billion bid it submitted, once the green light from the DoTC is given. If Gullas had his way, he would want the project carried out ASAP to help propel Cebu’s economic growth and generate jobs in a big way through the thousands of construction-related jobs that would directly impact the low-income households in Cebu, the solon said. Gullas also saw the potential for travel and leisure-related industries in Central Visayas benefitting from the project. Aside from the Mactan-Cebu airport project, other projects are being delayed because the DoTC feels compelled to entertain every protest even when it is already apparent that these are just nuisance complaints. And while it has been cleared to buy new coaches for the MRT, it will take at least two years for the 48 new cars to be manufactured and delivered—which probably means we can expect longer queues in the MRT stations for months (if not years) on end. Hero’s welcome for Michael Christian Martinez There’s no question about it, Michael Christian Martinez is a winner in the eyes and hearts of millions of Filipinos who were moved by the tenacity of the 17-year-old boy who dreamed a dream and worked hard to live it. Our lone representative to the Sochi Olympics in Russia deserves all the accolades and praises—and not surprisingly, limelight hoggers and epals who downplayed the boy’s chances are now trying to bask in the shadow of the young man’s inspiring feat. And to think that before Sochi, the supporters and believers of Michael were just a handful— among them SM Prime Holdings and Hans Sy who gave the young man P1.5 million to help defray training expenses prior to the Sochi Winter Olympics. Michael came home to a heartwarming welcome organized by the SM Group, complete with a motorcade and a few surprise gifts—like an additional $10,000 from the SM Foundation. Just think about it: A tropical country was able to produce a world-class skating talent like Michael Christian Martinez because a mall helped pave the way by building an ice skating rink. More than just facilities for recreation, the SM ice skating rinks are turning out to be a field of dreams—where little boys and girls, inspired by the example of Michael, are also weaving their own Winter Olympics dreams.‐b‐s‐aquino/            

Max’s seals Pancake acquisition By Jenniffer B. Austria | Feb. 26, 2014 at 12:01am The Max’s Group, owned by the family of Maximo Gimenez, has completed the acquisition of an 89.95-percent stake in Pancake House Inc. for P3.49 billion. The Max’s Group said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange it purchased 233.16 million Pancake House shares, including 193.18 million shares owned by private shareholders and 39.98 million shares sold by the minority during a tender offering period. The Max’s Group earlier said it signed a private agreement with Pancake House Holdings Inc., which is owned by businessman Martin Lorenzo, and private equity fund Aureos Group to acquire their stakes in Pancake House. The shares, which Max’s Group bought for P15 per share, were crossed through the Philippine Stock Exchange Monday. “The Max’s Group is extremely excited about having completed another historic milestone in the Philippine restaurant industry,” newly-appointed Pancake House chairman Robert Trota said. “We appreciate everyone’s enthusiasm for what we can do to build our casual dining brands together, execute a business strategy that delivers consistently high quality food with exceptional customer service. Together we look forward to growing our businesses in the Philippines and globally,” he added. The Max’s Group financed the purchase of Pancake House with a loan from Bank of the Philippine Islands. The loan was partially secured by Pancake House shares purchased by the Max’s Group. BPI Capital Corp. acted as the exclusive financial advisor of the Max’s Group in the transaction. The Max’s Group said Pancake House after the acquisition remained compliant with the 10percent minimum public float requirement of the PSE and would stay listed with the stock exchange. Founded in 1973, Pancake House has over 300 outlets across its restaurant brands, including Yellow Cab, Le Coeur De France, Maple, Dencio’s, Kabisera ng Dencio’s, Teriyaki Boy, Sizzlin’ Pepper Stake, The Chicken Rice Shop and the flagship brand Pancake House. Pancake House posted revenues of P2.7 billion and system-wide sales of P3.2 billion in the first nine months of 2013.‐s‐seals‐pancake‐acquisition/

Jollibee creates joint venture firm in UAE By Jenniffer B. Austria | Feb. 26, 2014 at 12:01am Jollibee Foods Corp., the biggest fastfood chain in the country, said Tuesday it will form a joint venture company with Golden Crown Foods LLC to put up stores in the United Arab Emirates. Jollibee, through wholly-owned subsidiary Golden Plate Pte. Ltd., signed a joint venture agreement with Golden Crown to establish a company that would own and operate Jollibee stores in UAE, the company said in a disclosure to the stock exchange. Golden Plate will own 49 percent of the joint venture company while Golden Crown will hold the 51-percent balance. The two companies, however, will share control and management of the joint venture company. Initial funding of the UAE company is estimated at $80,000. Jollibee is currently the largest food service company in the Philippines with 2,181 stores as of end-2013. Aside from its flagship brand, Jollibee also owns Chowking, Greenwich, Red Ribbon, Mang Inasal and Burger King. It operates 583 stores in China, Vietnam, Brunei, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Hong Kong and Singapore. Jollibee has 50-percent interest in joint ventures that operate various stores, including Highlands Coffee (Vietnam, Philippines), Pho 24 (Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Macau, and Cambodia) and 12 Sabu (China). Jollibee’s net income in 2013 jumped 24.5 percent to P4.64 billion, the fastest growth in seven years, on aggressive store expansion.‐creates‐joint‐venture‐firm‐in‐uae/            

BSP sees lower inflation By Julito G. Rada | Feb. 26, 2014 at 12:01am Bangko Sentral Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said Tuesday the extended temporary restraining order on the power rate hike petition of Manila Electric Co. may result in a lower inflation rate this year. “There is a chance inflation rate will go down further, unless it [power rate hike] will be implemented sooner. But it also depends on the amount and schedule [of power rate hike if on a staggered basis],” Guinigundo said in an interview. The first 60-day TRO on power rate hike petition started on Dec. 23 last year and expired on Feb. 21, 2014. The Supreme Court extended the TRO for another 60 days, stopping the power distributor from charging customers with the P4.15-per-kilowatt-hour increase, considered the highest on record. The extended TRO will lapse on April 22. The Monetary Board, the policy-making body of the Bangko Sentral, reduced the inflation forecast this year to 4.3 percent from 4.5 percent, with the delay in the implementation of power rate hike. Inflation target for 2015, however, was adjusted upward to 3.3 percent from the previous estimate of 3.2 percent.‐sees‐lower‐inflation/                  

8% economic growth possible By Jennifer Ambanta | Feb. 26, 2014 at 12:01am The National Economic and Development Authority said Tuesday the economy can grow easily by 7 percent to 8 percent annually, if the government will be able to address infrastructure concerns such as power shortages. “To sustain that seven to eight percent growth for the medium term, you have to address the infrastructure bottlenecks including power,” Neda director-general Arsenio Balisacan said. Balisacan said power had become a major concern because all sectors needed power to operate, especially manufacturing and tourism. Meanwhile, the Philippine Exporters’ Federation said the government’s infrastructure spending would greatly improve the economy, allowing all industries to grow together. “These are positive fundamentals that the export industry needs to survive a very competitive global trade regime. But we need to go beyond the current survival mode if the industry is to continue contributing at least 35 percent to the country’s GDP,” PhilExport president Sergio Ortiz-Luis said Tuesday during the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry general membership meeting at the Hotel Intercontinental Hotel in Makati City. With Othel V. Campos‐economic‐growth‐possible/                      

‘DAP funds went to fake NGOs’ February 26, 2014 12:10 am   by Ritchie Horario Reporter and Joel M. Sy Egco Senior Reporter Lawmaker pins blame on Abad BUDGET Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad should also be held liable for the release of funds under the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), some of which were spent on ghost projects, according to Navotas Rep. Tobias “Toby” Tiangco. Tiangco said Abad is as guilty as the lawmakers whose DAP allocations ended up in bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs) of Janet Lim-Napoles. “Abad is equally guilty, whether he acted as Budget secretary, a conduit or an agent. Why was he asking the DAR [Department of Agrarian Reform] to accommodate releases to beneficiaries who now turned out to be fake NGOs? And when DAR did not agree because they still had P1 billion, the funds were transferred to NLDC with his consent,” Tiangco, who is also the secretary general of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), said, referring to the National Livelihood Development Corporation. He said Abad cannot deny that the DAP funds poured into Napoles’s fake NGOS were released with his consent. He cited a news report, which claimed that Agrarian Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes admitted that Abad asked him “to accommodate the release of the funds for the senators whose beneficiaries turned out to be fake foundations used by Napoles.” The NLDC also confirmed getting the same request from the DBM. Tiangco said Abad had a hand in all DAP releases because of his position as budget secretary. “We all know that there were fake NGOs that benefited from the DAP. The other question here is ‘who facilitated the special funds coming from DAP?’ Eh sino ba ang namumuno ng [who heads the] DBM?” he asked. Tiangco added that only Abad and Malacañang were aware of the DAP, and the Budget secretary has the sole discretion in releasing the funds. “If Abad is the one who pushes for the DAP [fund releases] to the implementing agencies, he should be held liable for the transactions made by the agencies with the fake NGOs,” he said.

Tiangco assailed Abad’s remarks that DAP allocations were released irrespective of the lawmakers’ stand on the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona. “For the record and to correct Secretary Abad’s selective memory, I have not received any single centavo from the DAP. I have not received any single centavo over and above the P70-million PDAF allocated at that time per congressional district,” he said. The lawmaker dared Abad to make a full public report on all DAP releases. “I have openly been asking Secretary Abad since August last year, for the sake of transparency to bring out the list of all DAP spending. It’s been six months, but up to now they don’t want to bring out the list. So obviously they are hiding something,” Tiangco said. Erroneous For his part, the Budget chief belied Tiangco’s allegations that he is equally guilty for releasing DAP funds to bogus NGOs, saying the lawmaker’s assertion was erroneous. In a text message to The Manila Times, Abad said it was in fact he who questioned why the funds were being channeled to DAR when the DBM had just approved the release of funds for the Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Service (ARCCESS). “Please read the correction of Secretary [Virgilio] de los Reyes. Mali si Tiangco, [Tiangco is wrong],” Abad said. He e-mailed the Times a copy of the DAR chief’s clarification on news reports that were attributed to him, saying the Budget chief gave the imprimatur to release DAP funds that found their way to Napoles’ fake NGOs. In his statement, de los Reyes categorically denied that Abad asked him to accommodate the requests of several senators for the release of their funds from the DAP. The DAR chief said that contrary to what was reported, Abad raised the red flag on the release of the funds. Because of Abad’s query, DAR insisted that regardless of the source of funds, the release of funds should go through the regular processes. “I have always insisted that all the funds that pass through our office should follow the regular processes and be subject to evaluation and bidding. That is why, I suppose, they were taken out of DAR and transferred to another agency,” de los Reyes explained. Tiangco also said it is possible that Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. is covering up for his colleagues who received DAP funds. He challenged the House leader to come out with a list of congressmen who were given DAP allocations.

“So for Speaker Belmonte, for the integrity of the House, sana naman ‘yung lahat ng DAP na nagdaan dito ay ilabas na nila ‘yung listahan, kung kani-kanino napunta ‘yun, [we hope they come up with a list of all the DAP funds that have been released to those concerned],” Tiangco told reporters. “Ano ba namang masama kung ilabas ni Speaker Belmonte ‘yung lahat ng DAP na dumaan dito sa HoR. Para magkaalaman na. Ang pinaka-importante dito ay transparency eh. Kung wala kang tinatago, ipakita mo lahat, [What’s wrong with such a list that shows all the DAP funds that passed through the Representatives? What’s important is transparency. If you’re not hiding anything, show everything],” Tiangco emphasized. Belmonte however said the issue should be raised with Abad. “Better ask the DBM,” the House leader said. “As far as I am concerned, the Executive generates savings and as long as the money is spent within the Executive for legitimate projects helping people, okay lamang ‘yun, [that’s okay]” he added. Rep. Elpidio “Pidi” Barzaga Jr. of Cavite, one of the prosecutors in the impeachment trial of Corona, also denied having received P10-million DAP funds which include P7 million for farmto-market roads and P3 million for soft projects as a reward for Corona’s conviction. It was previously reported that senators and congressmen got DAP funds before, during and after Corona’s trial.‐funds‐went‐to‐fake‐ngos/78465/                    

From President to tourist: Aquino bares post‐Palace plans February 26, 2014 12:08 am   by Joel M. Sy Egco Senior Reporter President Benigno Aquino 3rd flashes the Laban sign along with other officials during rites to commemorate the 28th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolt in Leyte on Tuesday. The President skipped Edsa rites in Manila and toured areas devastated by calamities instead. Malacañang photo PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd on Tuesday gave the public a glimpse of how he would spend his days after the end of his term in Malacañang two-and-a-half years from now. The president pictured an easier life, with plans to take a tour of Bohol as among the things he wants to do after stepping down in June 2016. Speaking before a crowd in Bohol, which was devastated by a powerful earthquake last year, Aquino expressed particular interest in the province’s renowned river cruise. “I was told that there’s a river cruise here and there are fireflies when it’s dark and not raining,” he said. “Maybe around August 2016, if not September, I hope to visit these places and experience the river cruise that you boast about,” he added. The President was in Bohol as part of his commemoration of the 1986 EDSA Revolution. For the first time in his presidency, Aquino decided to skip the anniversary rites in Metro Manila and visited provinces ravaged by disasters instead. His first stop was Davao Oriental on Monday. The province was hit by typhoon Pablo in December 2012. To the delight of his Boholano audience, Aquino said tourism will be among his legacies. “I will see to it that I will visit you again but I guarantee you that in 2016 I will be among the number of tourists who will be here with you,” he promised. Aquino said tourism in Bohol will be one of the province’s strengths so that rehabilitation of various tourism sites will get a bigger share of government attention. Many old churches were reduced to rubble when a 7.2-magnitude quake rocked the province late last year.

“We are looking into how we can maximize the tourism potential of the entire Philippines, especially Bohol,” he stressed. At the start of his presidency, Aquino said there were only three million foreign tourists who visited the country. That number grew to 4.7 million in 2013 despite the calamities. “Our target is a little above five million. But I am confident that this will reach 10 million [tourists],” he added.‐president‐to‐tourist‐aquino‐bares‐post‐palace‐plans/78463/                                    

DOTC execs warned vs. snubbing MRT ‘extort’ try February 26, 2014 12:05 am   by Joel M. Sy Egco Senior Reporter LAWMAKERS warned top officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) led by Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya not to disregard invitations for them to appear and shed light on the alleged attempt to extort $30 million from a Czech company that had expressed interest in supplying Metro Rail Transit (MRT) coaches. Upon the motion of Rep. Andres Salvacion of Leyte, the House committee on good government and public accountability moved to compel Abaya, MRT general manager Al Vitangcol, MRT Chairman Thomas de Leon and Czech Republic Ambassador to the Philippines Josef Rychtar to attend the next hearing. The officials did not show up on Tuesday’s hearing, prompting Salvacion to make the motion. The lawmaker said the officials’ continued disregard of their invitation was a sign of disrespect to the panel, headed by Rep. Oscar Rodriguez of Pampanga. Salvacion stressed that the House has been very lenient to invited resource persons. The hearing was an offshoot of the twin resolutions filed at the House of Representatives by Rep. Toby Tiangco of Navotas and Reps. Carlos Isagani Zarate and Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna party-list. Dr. Dante Ang, chairman emeritus of The Manila Times, first wrote about Rychtar’s allegations that DOTC officials tried to extort $30 million from Czech-based Inekon Group in exchange for a contract to supply 48 new trains to the MRT. Details of the incident were published in a series of articles written by Ang. In yesterday’s hearing, two opposition lawmakers debated whether or not the House committee should proceed with its inquiry. Rep. Silvestre Bello 3rd of 1-BAP party-list, a former justice secretary and member of the House opposition bloc, said the committee should leave the investigation of the issue to the Department of Justice, pointing out that too many congressional investigations in aid of legislation have caused delays in the delivery of justice. “We must not lose track of our duty that justice is done without delay. Na de-delay ang mga kaso dahil sa imbestigasyon natin. Maraming magnanakaw ang nakakalusot kasi sa delay sa disposition ng cases [ Cases are delayed because of our investigations.

Many thieves evade arrest because of the delay in the disposition of cases] and we should not be a party to that,” Bello said. But Colmenares, a leader of the House minority bloc, vehemently opposed Bello’s proposal and said it was “unacceptable.” “For Congress not to investigate is not acceptable to us. Whatever the DoJ recommends, trabaho nating tingnan ang mga batas [it is our duty to examine the laws],” Colmenares said. Rep. Rodel Batocabe of Ako Bicol party-list said Congress cannot compel Rychtar to attend congressional hearings because he has diplomatic immunity. However, he supported the positions of Tiangco, Colmenares and Salvacion for the committee to proceed with its inquiry into the alleged extortion attempt.‐execs‐warned‐vs‐snubbing‐mrt‐extort‐try/78457/                                

Meralco scheme to thwart TRO denounced February 26, 2014 12:04 am   by Joel M. Sy Egco Senior Reporter A former lawmaker on Tuesday scored the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) for trying to collect its controversial power rate hike despite the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court (SC) and said the utility firm should be held accountable. Former Rep. Teodoro “Teddy” Casiño of Bayan Muna party-list exposed Meralco’s attempt to collect the first tranche of its record P4.15 per kilowatt-hour increase by passing it off as “balance from previous billing.” “In my monthly bill dated February 13, 2014, there is included a ‘balance from previous billing’ of P173.70 which, although described as ‘deferred, pending resolution of SC temporary restraining order [TRO],’ was added to my total current amount of P2,786.86 making my total amount due P2,960.56,” he narrated. “When I inquired about this with Meralco’s customer service call center, I was advised to ‘ignore’ the total amount due of P2,960.56 and just pay the total current amount,” Casiño added. He said his group, People Opposed to Unwarranted Electricity Rates (Power), will ask the SC and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to stop Meralco from deceiving its customers. “Such practices should not be allowed and Meralco should be held accountable. We shall file the formal complaints within the week,” he added. He scored Meralco for putting the rate increase in the bill even if the high court has not lifted its TRO. “Obviously, Meralco is trying to get around the SC’s TRO by surreptitiously adding the controversial rate hike that should not have been included in the monthly bill in the first place,” Casino said. “Nagbabakasakaling makalusot ang Meralco [Meralco is trying to get around the rules]. If my wife did not point out the anomaly and I did not bother to check with their customer service, I would have done what most consumers habitually do—simply pay what is in the total amount due portion of the bill,” he added. Casino claimed the scheme is in violation of the SC order.‐scheme‐to‐thwart‐tro‐denounced/78455/ 

Ports relocation to solve traffic woes? February 26, 2014 12:03 am   by Jing Villamente and Robertson Ramirez Reporters With Metro Manila’s traffic woes expected to worsen with major road infrastructure projects scheduled to be undertaken in the metropolis this year, student leaders from the University of the Philippines (UP) have called for long-term solutions to decongest the metropolis through the relocation of airports and seaports to nearby provinces like Cavite. Trucking companies, for one, have gone on a de facto strike due to the limitations placed on them in their use of Metro Manila thoroughfares. UP student leader Red Maines, vice president for Student Affairs of the Respect Equals Discipline (RED), a multi-sector group of concerned citizens advocating “Respect Equals Discipline” on Philippine roads, said that with Metro Manila’s growing population, “short-term, band aid solutions” would not be enough to ease the capital’s traffic problems—the UP National Center for Transportation Studies claims traffic gridlocks fritter away P140 billion in losses yearly. RED advocates say that studies show that the P140-billion losses stem from wasted gasoline, lost labor hours, employment of traffic aides and wasted electricity; the indirect losses refer to withdrawal of potential foreign investments, missed business opportunities and reduced capital inflow. “Traffic congestion and infrastructure development are hallmarks of a newly industrialized country, and these require a newly industrialized country approach. We have to think big and assume that the country will continue to grow and plan accordingly,” stressed Maines, who is also the Convenor of the UP Diliman League of College Councils Volunteer Corps. “’Di na pwede ang sari-sari store approach na tingi-tingi ang pag solusyon sa traffic. [The piecemeal approach won’t solve traffic]. We should seriously consider adopting the model used by other growing economies in Asia like Malaysia and Thailand, and relocate our airports and seaports to nearby provinces outside Metro Manila, like Cavite,” added Nat Malit, an officer of the UP Diliman College of Social Sciences and Philosophy (CSSP) Student Council. According to fellow UP Diliman CSSP Student Council officer Jet David, data shows that the relocation of airports and seaports to a nearby province like Cavite, home to the Cavite Export Processing Zone, could substantially reduce vehicular traffic in Metro Manila. “A huge source of traffic in Metro Manila are the thousands of trucks and other vehicles plying Metro Manila’s streets to get from one point in Metro Manila to the other,” said David.

“If we relocate our seaport and airport outside Metro Manila, 10,000 trucks that travel from the North Harbor to the South of Metro Manila will be reduced. If you take out the airport, you remove the 40,000 vehicles that go in and out of the NAIA area,” he added. Huge losses due to truck ban Meanwhile, millions in revenues of the two largest collection districts of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) have been affected by the expanded Manila truck ban. Initial reports from the Port of Manila (POM) showed that only P134.4-million was generated on the first day of the truck ban, which is 47 percent lesser than the P253-million during the previous days. Meantime, the Manila International Container Port (MICP) has only generated P262.8-million or 27-percent decrease from the P360-million. The BOC noted that the MICP was only able to release four trucks on Monday from the daily average of 2,150, while no container vans exited POM, from an average of 1,200 container vans from February 1 to 21, 2014. The POM and the MICP are the two biggest ports in the country in terms of cargo volume and customs revenues, accounting for about 48 percent of total collections of the entire agency, the BOC said.‐relocation‐to‐solve‐traffic‐woes/78453/                      

Vitamin E, beta‐carotene no help for patients with heart disease, cancer February 26, 2014 12:00 am   WASHINGTON, D.C.: In yet another blow to the $28-billion vitamin industry, a United States (US) task force on Monday urged against taking vitamin E and beta-carotene to ward off heart disease or cancer.The latest guidelines from the US Preventive Services Task Force update the 2003 edition by adding vitamin E to beta-carotene, a supplement that was already known to be ineffective at preventing the two most fatal diseases in America.The findings are based on a systematic review of scientific studies, which found that vitamin E does not help—and that betacarotene supplements could actually do more harm than good.“Beta-carotene can be harmful because it increases the risk of lung cancer in people who are already at increased risk for the disease,” said Task Force co-chair Michael LeFevre.With regard to other multivitamins, including single or paired supplements, there was not enough evidence to say whether they help or harm one’s chances of getting heart disease or cancer, the task force said.Despite numerous warnings about the unproven effects of vitamins, consumers continue to believe in them, with about half of US adults saying they take at least one dietary supplement and one-third reporting they take a multivitamin regularly. The task force’s recommendations apply to healthy adults who have no special medical concerns.Some populations, however, are urged to take certain vitamins.Pregnant women are advised to take prenatal vitamins with folic acid according to their doctors’ advice, and seniors at risk of falling are urged to take vitamin D for bone health. Instead of taking supplements, the task force urged most people to simply eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and seafood.“Cardiovascular disease and cancer have a significant health impact in America, and we all want to find ways to prevent these diseases,” said Task Force chair Virginia Moyer.“However, we found that there is not enough evidence to determine whether taking single or paired nutrients or a multivitamin helps to prevent cardiovascular disease or cancer.” The task force is an independent panel of medical experts from across the US. Its statement was published in the February 24 edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine.According to Victoria Richards, an assistant professor of medical sciences at the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University, the task force’s recommendations are “significant.” AFP‐e‐beta‐carotene‐no‐help‐for‐patients‐with‐heart‐disease‐ cancer/78447/   

Aquino grants fishing boats to fishermen February 25, 2014 9:20 pm   by James Konstantin Galvez Reporter President Benigno Aquino 3rd led the awarding of newly built fishing boats to fisherfolk in coastal communities affected by the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda. During the 28th anniversary of EDSA People Power in Visayas, the President awarded new and repaired units of fishing boats and other forms of assistance to typhoon-hit fisherfolk in the said coastal community. Accompanied by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, former senator and now Typhoon Yolanda rehab czar Panfilo Lacson and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, President Aquino visited the municipality of Bantayan in Bantayan Island, Northern Cebu to check on the progress of the rehabilitation efforts in the area. Located more than 130 kilometers off the shore of mainland Northern Cebu, Bantayan Island is the fourth out of six landmasses where Yolanda made landfall on November 8, 2013. As part of its continuous efforts to rebuild central Philippines, the government through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of the Department of Agriculture launched “Ahon!” a government-private sector rehabilitation initiative that has been in operation for more than three months now. Under Ahon!, a total of 449 fisherfolk in the Municipality of Bantayan were given assistance in the form of materials for boat repair such as plywood, copper nails, and marine epoxy worth about P1.8 million. In addition, 50 units of newly built pumpboats with 5.5 hp motor engines amounting to P750,000 or P15,000 per unit and 50 units of repaired boats—each comes with P1,500 cash-for-work incentive; 15 tons of seaweeds seedlings; and 100 sets of fishing gears have been distributed. After his visit to Bantayan Island, the President along with his team also went to inspect various rehabilitation efforts in Region 8 particularly in the Municipality of Guiuan, Eastern Samar where Super Typhoon Yolanda first wrought-havoc. Guiuan town, a fishing community of 60 barangays, mostly islands, is one project site in the Eastern Visayas under the Ahon! Initiative. As of February 21, a total of 7,616 beneficiaries were assisted through Ahon! in the entire Region 8.

In Guiuan, 880 beneficiaries were given assistance in the form of boat repair materials such as plywood sheets, nails, epoxy, paints including engines in some cases. Of the number of fisherfolk to receive assistance, 332 boats are now being used for fishing. The value of the materials, cash-for-work incentives and engines given thus far has already reached P5.3 million. As for the last monitoring, another 150 beneficiaries have completed the repairs and are set to receive engine and cash incentives, bringing a total of 482 functional fishing boats in Guiuan alone.‐grants‐fishing‐boats‐to‐fishermen/78398/                                    

Public schools told: Keep graduation rites simple February 25, 2014 9:19 pm   by Neil A. Alcober THE Department of Education (DepEd) on Tuesday reminded public schools across the country to prepare simple graduation rites next month. Education Secretary Armin Luistro said this year’s graduation rites will focus on the theme “Hindi Natitinag ang Pusong Pilipino,” to pay homage to the resilience of the Filipino spirit and its triumphs over the recent string of calamities it conquered over the school year. According to the DepEd school calendar for school year 2013-2014, the graduation rites will be scheduled either on March 27 or 28. For regions or schools divisions who extended their academic year due to natural or man-made calamities, the rites should be scheduled based on their respective revised school calendars as approved by DepEd. Luistro reminded schools about the “no extravagant special attire or extraordinary venue” guideline to maintain the solemnity of the occasion by remaining frugal and simple. He said graduation rites should not be exercised in splurging and display of pomp and pageantry but should be simple affairs that exhort civic duties, sense of community, and personal responsibilities and should be memorable, exciting and animated without baggage of extra cost and excessive spending. “While the graduation rites mark a milestone in every learner, we should keep it prudent and economical. Extravagant attires and venues are not necessary to make an impression; the important thing is we send the message of nationalism, excellence and resilience to every graduate,” Luistro said. Luistro also said that non-academic activities such as attendance to field trips and JS Promenade should not be imposed as a prerequisite to graduation. The education department also reiterated that while Parents and Teachers Associations (PTAs) may opt to give cash or in-kind donations, public school personnel are not allowed to collect any graduation fees or any kind of contribution to any student at any grade or year level. In a separate Regional Memorandum (20 s. 2014) released by DepEd Region 8 (Eastern Visayas) Director Luisa Yu, conduct of JS Promenades, Senior Balls, Graduation Balls and other closing activities is discouraged so as not to disrupt classes and to spare students and parents from additional financial burden. In the same light, graduation rites in Region 8 should be held the simplest way possible. Yu directs division officials to monitor compliance in their respective areas.

Meanwhile, the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) also called on school and field officials to abide by the DepEd rules on graduation rites. Benjo Basas, the group’s national chairman, his organization agrees with the department in regulating graduation fees and extravagant rites especially if it is imposed by the school authorities. “Graduation, while considered as special day for most of the students and parents should not be extravagant and burdensome,” Basas said. According to him, many of public school students belong to the poor families who may not afford the fees. However, he recognizes the festive mode of some families who wishes the graduation day of their children to be special. “Some parents would be very happy for their children who accomplished secondary education especially those who are not well-prepared for tertiary schooling, thus they may want to see their kids wearing toga. In that case, we understand that if the parents would want to contribute or donate any affordable amount for the graduation ceremonies then it would be all right as long as it is compliant of the rules set by the DepEd,” Basas explained. “But it should be an initiative from the parents of the graduating class or the PTA,” he added. Basas particularly cited the case in Typhoon Yolanda-stricken Visayas especially many towns in Leyte and Samar provinces, which until now have yet to recover from the severe damage brought about by the monster typhoon in November. “Until now, there are no classrooms in many schools and the operation is still irregular,” he said.‐schools‐told‐keep‐graduation‐rites‐simple/78396/                  

Villar eyes probe of overpriced rice imports February 25, 2014 7:40 pm   by Jefferson Antiporda Reporter THE Senate committee on agriculture and food is considering an investigation of the reported overpricing on rice imports by National Food Authority (NFA) although it admits that it needs to be careful since the deal involves the government of Vietnam. Sen. Cynthia Villar pointed out that the committee is very open to hear anyone who has information about the country’s rice situation, to address various problems hounding the rice supply. The senator also pointed out that the committee should also be careful because the committee doesn’t want to drag other countries on the alleged overpricing of rice imports. Villar was referring to the rice importation deal between the Philippine government and the Southern Vietnam Food Corp., earlier reported to be overpriced. Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito for his part insisted that the committee should seriously look into the reported overpricing of imported rice because it distorts the domestic pricing of rice. Ejercito said that the government should not hesitate to investigate a government-to-government transaction noting that it is important for the committee to find out the truth behind the allegation. “NFA has a lot of explaining to do. We should not allow these things to continue because it is the farmers that are greatly affected by it,” Ejercito said referring to the reported overpricing. The issue of overpriced rice gave rise to the allegation that the NFA has been practicing its own rice importation monopoly, using public funds, while disallowing private sector participation. NFA’s actions are said to run against the Food Staples Self-Sufficiency Road Map approved by President Benigno Aquino 3rd and the economic managers, where it was provided that private sector participation in rice importation should increase, while NFA imports should decrease. Based on data, the NFA on February 2011, imported 200,000 metric tons (9 percent of the previous year’s), leaving the bulk of imports to the private sector (660,000 tons). The NFA further reduced its rice imports on April 2012 to only 120,000 metric tons, allowing private sector to import 380,000 metric tons.

In 2013, NFA rice imports rose to 705,700 metric tons (205,700 March/April + 500,000 Nov 26), while private sector importation was pegged at 50,000 metric tons. Lawyer Argee Guevarra, who was also present in the hearing, said that the Department of Justice (DOJ) already acted on his allegation regarding the overpricing issue however he is not sure if the DOJ is willing to release its findings. For her part, Villar said that the committee will ask the DOJ to provide them with the copy of its findings so that the panel would have a basis in probing the issue. Restrictions valid Meanwhile, Solicitor Gen. Francis Jardeleza, during the senate panel hearing also maintained that the country’s imposition of Quantitative Restriction (QR) on rice imports is valid adding that that it is the position of the Philippine government. Jardeleza issued the clarification in reaction to The Manila Times report, which cited Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s opinion that rice quotas imposed by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and NFA allowing government to monopolize the importing of rice may have violated the terms set by the World Trade Organization (WTO). De Lima in a 12-page confidential opinion dated December 16, 2013, advised Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and the NFA that quantitative restriction on rice can no longer be imposed until negotiations for its extension are concluded. On Tuesday Jardeleza insisted that the stand of the government is that the QR is valid and the justice secretary supports it. “The [DOJ] secretary supports the stand of the government,” Jardeleza said in an interview after the Senate panel hearing.‐eyes‐probe‐of‐overpriced‐rice‐imports/78311/                

Researchers develop simple paper test for cancer February 25, 2014 7:36 pm   WASHINGTON, D.C.: United States (US) researchers said on Monday they have developed a simple, cheap paper test that could reveal within minutes whether a person has cancer. The diagnostic, based on a urine sample, works much like a pregnancy test, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) reported in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The approach involves using a technology to amplify signals from tumor proteins that would be hard to detect on their own, simply by injecting special nanoparticles into the body, the researchers said.These nanoparticles, coated with peptides, can interact with tumor proteins called proteases. In a patient’s body, these particles congregate at tumor sites, where cancer proteases cleave the peptides, which then accumulate in the kidneys and are excreted in the patient’s urine. These biomarkers are easily detectable using an approach known as a lateral flow assay, the same technology used in pregnancy tests. In tests in mice, the researchers were able to accurately identify colon tumors, as well as blood clots. MIT professor and the paper’s senior author Sangeeta Bhatia described these tests as the first step toward a diagnostic device that could someday be useful in human patients. “This is a new idea—to create an excreted biomarker instead of relying on what the body gives you,” Bhatia said. “To prove this approach is really going to be a useful diagnostic, the next step is to test it in patient populations.Bhatia said the technology would likely first be applied to highrisk populations, such as people who have had cancer previously, or had a family member with the disease.Eventually, she would like to see it used for early detection in developing countries, where cancer rates have climbed sharply in recent years With the current version of the technology, patients would first receive an injection of the nanoparticles, then urinate onto the paper test strip. To make the process more convenient, the researchers are now working on a nanoparticle formulation that could be implanted under the skin for longer-term monitoring. PNA/Xinhua‐develop‐simple‐paper‐test‐for‐cancer/78301/   

New haul of exotic animals seized in Philippines February 25, 2014 6:50 pm   Wildlife authorities said on Tuesday they had seized nearly 100 exotic animals that had been smuggled into the southern Philippines in the second such haul in just two weeks. Among the creatures confiscated were 66 wild birds including a rare Pesquet’s parrot as well as assorted reptiles and mammals such as a long-beaked echidna, a Malayan box turtle and 10 sugar gliders—squirrel-like animals that can glide from tree to tree. A total of 93 animals from Indonesia and Australia were seized by maritime police in the waters off the southern island of Mindanao on Saturday and included vulnerable and critically endangered species, said Ali Hajina, the regional chief of the government wildlife board. Five Filipinos who were transporting the animals were arrested and will be charged with illegal possession and transport of these species, he told Agence France-Presse. The seizure came just a week after wildlife officers, also in the southern Philippines, found almost 100 similar animals from Australia and Indonesia, being transported by van to Manila. “They [the two shipments] could be connected. They may have one source because the animals were almost the same types. They may have a large stock so they may have divided it into two,” Hajina told Agence France-Presse. He said the animals were so rare even the wildlife officials could not identify them and had to ask Filipino hobbyists for help. The head of the government’s wildlife division Josefina de Leon said the shipments were suspected to have originated from the same international syndicate which sells the animals to local collectors. She said the two large seizures in two weeks were a sign of improved training of wildlife authorities and better cooperation from the public. “Enforcement is better because there are concerned citizens who are now assisting us in catching the perpetrators,” she said. AFP‐haul‐of‐exotic‐animals‐seized‐in‐philippines/     

Govt likely underspent in 2013 February 25, 2014 11:34 pm   by Mayvelin U. Caraballo Reporter The fiscal deficit in 2013 may not have reached the programmed ceiling of P238 billion, which analysts said, would indicate the government underspent during the year. Official fiscal data is expected to be released in the next few weeks.“We expect the 2013 deficit to amount to P230 billion, which is about 2 percent of GDP [gross domestic product],” Joey Cuyegkeng, ING Bank Manila’s senior economist, said in his latest financial market report. “The fiscal deficit target for 2014 is set at P266 billion. We expect a mild underperformance equivalent to 2.1 percent of GDP,” Cuyegkeng said.For 2013, Cuyegkeng estimates that spending growth ran at about 9 percent year-on-year, lower than the programmed 11.6 percent. Cuyegkeng said that the underspending could come in the form of savings on interest payments, which are estimated at about P328 billion.“The one-year yields [on government bonds] averaged at 1.24 percent, which was slightly higher than the 1 percent to 3-percent 2013 budget assumption,” he said. Furthermore, spending might have also “moderated” as a result of the pork barrel scam and the Supreme Court ruling on the fund’s unconstitutionality, as well as questions against the government’s Disbursement Accelerated Program, he said. At the same time, Cuyegkeng also expects that the requirements for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda might have helped trigger a rebound in spending in December. Meanwhile, for Alvin Ang, economics professor at the University of Santo Tomas, a fiscal deficit is quite good for the fiscal health of the economy. “[A fiscal deficit] means less government borrowing and less pressure on interest rates to rise,” he said.To date, government expenditure in November alone stood at P164 billion, bringing yearto-date figures at P1.677 trillion, reflecting 9-percent growth over the comparable expenditure in 2012. Interest payments for November inched up 2 percent above the programmed level. However, year-to-date interest payments of P296.7 billion remain below the government’s cap of P302.8 billion, reflecting interest savings of P6.1 billion.‐likely‐underspent‐in‐2013/78431/   

CPA group eyes world standards February 25, 2014 11:33 pm   by Rosalie C. Periabras Philippine auditors should upgrade their work standards to international levels by 2015 in time for the economic integration of Southeast Asia set for that year, a top official of the Association of Certified Accountants in Public Practice (ACPAPP) said on Tuesday. “So they [the Securities and Exchange Commission or SEC and the Board of Accountancy] are pushing for it. We started this in 2005 so they are trying to bring the quality of the work of the [Filipino] auditors up to a higher level,” said ACPAPP President Donnies Alas. “The big firms and the small and medium [accounting] firms are the ones qualified to do that, but there are single practitioners in the provinces that have very low standards,” he added, referring to accounting firms operating in the Philippines. The organization sees the advent of new business trends, emerging global markets, and advances in technology as challenges to the practice of the country’s certified public accountants (CPAs). On January 28, ACPAPP inducted its new sets of officers for 2014. The theme of the event was “Standing Tall Amidst the Global Challenges,” which echoed the call for the country’s CPAs to raise the standard of their practice to international standards. For her part, SEC General Accountant Ma. Gracia Casals-Diaz said that in preparation also with the Asean Integrated Capital Market, the agency is pushing a Quality Assurance Review, which will further enhance the quality of the financial reports submitted by corporations. “And the ultimate objective of that is to protect the investors, the users of financial reports and to further improve the capital market, and ultimately to improve the economic situation of the Philippines,” she added. The government should also place a strong focus on the quality of continuing professional development and advanced training requirements for CPAs that would fit the needs of today’s market. In line with this, Diaz said that, “If we will, of course, align our rules with global standards and practices, our corporations would be competitive, and this is specially important right now that we will be having the integration of capital markets by 2015.” Earlier, ACPAPP said there is a strong need to contend with an evolving political and economic environment that continuously requires improvement in the public accountancy practice in the Philippines in order to protect public interest.

“Base on our records, we are amending Rules 68 every two years because the rules of financial reporting are very fast paced. So we have to make that aligned with this global standard and practices, otherwise the compliance of our corporations will not be competitive with the rest of the group,” Diaz said. Rule 68 of the SEC stipulates the requirements for financial statements that must be submitted by stock corporations.‐group‐eyes‐world‐standards/78429/                                      

Longer TRO on Meralco may alter inflation February 25, 2014 11:32 pm   by Mayvelin U. Caraballo The extended temporary restraining order (TRO) on the Manila Electric Co’s (Meralco) power rate hike may have an impact on the inflation rate forecast of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) this year, a high-ranking BSP official said. According to BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo, the 60-day extension of the TRO may be considered by the BSP in the downward adjustment of its inflation forecast this year. On the account of the delay in the implementation of the power rate hike, the central bank has lowered its inflation forecast for 2014 to 4.3 percent from its previous forecast of 4.5 percent, still within the 3-percent to 5-percent target band of the BSP this year. However, Guinigundo noted that the inflation forecast adjustment still depends on the future of the proposed electricity price hike of Meralco. “It’s still depends on the amount [on a staggered basis] and the schedule [of the implementation upon the Supreme Court’s decision],” he said. The Supreme Court first issued a 60-day TRO against Meralco on December 23, 2013, to stop the power utility distributor from charging its customers the P4.15 per kilowatt-hour increase. The TRO was extended for another 60 days until April 22, as deliberations on the power rate hike is still pending before the High Tribunal. However, the BSP earlier noted that pending petitions for adjustments in utility rates remain a risk to the inflation outlook of the Philippines. “We also consider that [the TRO] can be a risk in the upside. We are open to the possibility that Supreme Court might lift the TRO, and in that case, it will have an effect in the forecast for 2014 and 2015,” Guinigundo said.‐tro‐on‐meralco‐may‐alter‐inflation/78427/       

Philippine imports flat in 2013 – NSO February 25, 2014 11:32 pm   by Kristyn Nika M. Lazo Reporter Merchandise imports in 2013 posted flat growth from a year earlier, indicating sluggish demand in the domestic economy. “Aggregate imports for the year 2013 amounted to $61.7 billion and showed a 0.7- percent decrease compared with $62.1 billion in the same period of last year,” the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said through the National Statistics Office (NSO). The statistical body, which integrates the NSO and the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), said five commodity imports recorded declines last year. These five commodity groups were feeding stuff for animals (not including unmilled cereals); electronic products; industrial machinery and equipment; iron and steel; and transport equipment. The PSA said imports in December slipped by 0.1 percent to $5.294 billion compared to $5.3 billion in December 2012. “After posting four consecutive months of positive growth from August to November 2013, the value of imported capital goods recorded a double-digit decline of 29.5 percent in December 2013,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said. On a monthly basis, imports rose 1.1 percent in December from November’s $5.236 billion. Electronics led imports in December last year with a 22.6-percent share, or $1.2 billion of the total import receipts. Semiconductors followed, contributing 17.2 percent, or $910.9 million for December 2013. Other top commodity imports were mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials with 22.4 percent share, or $1.18 billion; transport equipment with a 12.5 percent share or $662.1 million; and industrial machinery and equipment with 4.5-percent share, or $240.2 million. The Philippines continued to source most of its imported items from China, which accounted for $776.5 million, or 14.7-percent share of the total imports for December 2013. Other top import sources were the United States, with 10.9-percent share, or $575.8 million; Korea with an 8-percent share, or $422.2 million; Japan with a 7.7-percent share, or $405.1 million; and Taiwan with a 7.2-percent share, or $383.6 million.‐imports‐flat‐in‐2013‐nso/78425/ 

Range bound PH shares affirm consolidation February 25, 2014 11:31 pm   by Kristyn Nika M. Lazo Philippine shares traded sideways on Tuesday as Asian markets closed mostly lower ahead of the release of key US data while profit-taking pared Wall Street’s gains. Jun Calaycay, analyst at Accord Capital Equities Inc., said the local market also offers opportunities for profit-taking. “While initially casting doubt on our outlook for the week, which presupposed a weak start for the week and a pick-up as the days progress, the closing trades provided validation to the premise—a 4-percent inflection in the general level of prices opened up profit opportunities that were difficult to ignore—and risk—amid a still fluid global picture,” Calaycay said in an email to The Manila Times. The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) dipped 0.01 percent, or 0.77 points to finish at 6,295.55, while the wider all-shares index eased 0.04 percent, or 1.52 points to 3,802.53. Sectoral indices ended mixed, with financials going up by 0.43 percent, or 6.66 points to 1,561.72, while holding firms slipped 0.14 percent, or 7.83 points to 5,696.57. Industrials gained 0.80 percent, or 75.49 points to 9,553.14, but mining and oil dipped 0.10 percent, or 14.21 points to 14,283.85. Services shed 0.09 percent, or 1.79 points to 1,893.21 while property declined 0.88 percent, or 21.11 points to 2,383.26. Among the most actively traded stocks, the gainers included Megaworld Corp., Universal Robina, BDO Unibank, JG Summit, Manila Electric Co. and GT Capital Holdings. Losers outnumbered gainers, 92 to 64, while unchanged issues stood at 51. Total value turnover amounted to P8.5 billion. On Monday, the PSEi dipped 0.19 percent, or 12.04 points to end at 6,296.32, while the broader all-shares index posted a 0.05-percent gain, or 2.03 points to settle at 3,804.05.‐bound‐ph‐shares‐affirm‐consolidation/78423/   

PH ‘okay’ if growth stays at 7% in next 20 years February 25, 2014 11:25 pm   by Kristyn Nika M. Lazo Reporter Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said on Tuesday the Philippines would be “doing okay” if gross domestic product (GDP) growth were to keep its pace at 7 percent in the next 20 years. “Development is responding to new ages. If we succeed to grow 7-percent GDP in five years, there can be new problems that may emerge. We just have to have new systems to respond to that,” Balisacan told reporters after delivering his keynote speech during the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) meeting on Tuesday. Balisacan, who is also the director general of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), said the government is optimistic that the country will be able to achieve its GDP growth targets of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent this year, 7 percent to 8 percent in 2015 and 7.5 percent to 8.5 percent in 2016. “The problem [with growth] in the past is that we grew, but did not invest in power [and infrastructure] so the boom-bust cycle of economy went down in the 1990s where brownouts as long as eight hours happened . . . I don’t think that problem will happen again,” Balisacan said. In his keynote speech before officials of the MAP, Balisacan said that present economic gains may not be felt by the masses, but emphasized that they should give the government “a chance to achieve economic outlines” stipulated in the updated 2011-2016 Philippine Development Plan (PDP). Comparison within region In the same event, University of the Philippines Professor of Economy Ben Diokno mentioned that the Philippines “remained the poorest” among the Asean 5 economies that also count Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. The UP economist also noted that the Philippines has the highest incidence of poverty among the Asean 5 with 25.2 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, Thailand has the second highest poverty incidence at 13.2 percent in 2013. But even with the criticisms on the way the Aquino administration plans future economic growth, Balisacan said that a Philippine GDP growth of 10 percent would not be a threat, because that would be like “an old car running 100 kilometers per hour.”

For the first quarter of the year, NEDA is confident that the Philippines would achieve 6.5percent to 7.5-percent GDP growth. However, according to Diokno, the government should implement “bold reforms not business as usual,” and to “have strong sustained growth, modest unemployment, lower poverty, high foreign direct inflows, modern and reliable public infrastructure, effective government and a competitive economy.” He said that the real challenge ahead is the Asean Economic Community that will come into force by 2015. Asean stands for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.‐okay‐if‐growth‐stays‐at‐7‐in‐next‐20‐years/78411/                                  

Posted on February 25, 2014 11:00:59 PM By Claire-Ann M. C. Feliciano, Reporter

Oil companies raise pump prices ANOTHER ROUND of fuel price hikes greeted motorists yesterday as retailers adjust pump  prices to track movements in the international oil market.    Petron Corp., Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., Total Philippines, Inc., SEAOIL Philippines, Inc.  and PTT Philippines Corp. implemented price hikes of 25 centavos per liter on diesel and 15  centavos per liter on kerosene effective 6:00 a.m. yesterday.    There were no movements in the prices of gasoline.    "This reflects movements in the international oil market," Petron said in its advisory.    US ECONOMY  The Energy department, in its latest report, said international oil prices rose due to the healthy  and positive outlook for the US economy, as well as China’s record crude oil imports.    "Dealers note that the health of the US economy is a key influence on oil prices, with the US  being the world’s biggest consumer of crude," the Energy department said.    Meanwhile, China’s crude import rose to a record 6.6 million barrels per day in January, which  is more than 12% versus year‐ago levels.    At the same time, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) noted rise in  global oil consumption by 1.09 million barrels per day ‐‐ which is an increase of 45,000 barrels  against the previous prediction. This also boosted the oil prices, the Energy department said.    The continuous increased demand for heating oil in the US also drove the prices, coupled with  the decrease in the supplies of distillate fuel, which includes heating oil and diesel.    "In the Asian Market, Platts noted that gasoline price rally was driven by strength in the US and  European markets," the Energy department said.    "Views on the regional market was largely mixed, with some traders saying the market is well  supplied while others cite tightening fundamentals ahead of the refinery maintenance as the 

reason behind higher prices in recently concluded deals," the department added.    ROBUST DEMAND  Demand remains robust amid steady volume requirements of Indonesia and Vietnam.    The new set of adjustments ‐‐ the fourth price hike since the beginning of the year ‐‐ followed  last week’s price increases of one peso per liter on gasoline, 40 centavos per liter on diesel and  25 centavos per liter on kerosene.    Following the rate changes, gasoline prices now already has a net increase of 20 centavos per  liter, while diesel prices has a 25‐centavos‐per‐liter net decrease since the January.    Prices of Dubai crude ‐‐ the benchmark used by most of Asia ‐‐ are at $105.13 per barrel  yesterday from $104.96 per barrel recorded last week.    Meanwhile, as of Feb. 21, international prices of diesel are at $127 per barrel from $124 per  barrel the previous week.    Gasoline prices in the international market are at $122 per barrel as of last Friday from $121  per barrel recorded from the previous week.    Data from the Energy department’s Web site showed that prior to the recent adjustments,  gasoline was worth between P50.20 per liter and P56.55 per liter, while diesel prices ranged  from P41.75 per liter to P46.35 per liter.‐companies‐raise‐pump‐ prices&id=83951               

Posted on February 25, 2014 10:13:14 PM

BIR hails top taxpayers among large firms THE BUREAU of Internal Revenue (BIR) yesterday recognized the top taxpayers among large  companies in the country.    At the kick‐off ceremony of its Large Taxpayers Service’s (LTS) 2014 tax campaign yesterday, at  Solaire Resort and Casino in Parañaque City, the bureau awarded plaques of appreciation to  firms whose income tax payments in 2013 improved significantly from the previous year.    The Billionaire’s Club, according to LTS Assistant Commissioner Alfredo V. Misajon, includes  firms whose payments last year surpassed the P1‐billion mark and grew by more than 20%.  "These taxpayers not only contributed a huge sum to the LTS collections but also improved  their payments significantly," Mr. Misajon noted.    Ten firms received this distinction:    • Bank of the Philippine Islands    • Citra Manila Tollways Corp.    • DMCI Project Developers, Inc.    • Emperador Distillers, Inc.    • Holcim Philippines, Inc.    • Manila Water Co., Inc.    • Monde Nissin Corp.    • PMFTC, Inc.    • Quezon Power (Philippines) Ltd. Co.    • Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. 

The BIR also gave special awards to corporate taxpayers whose income tax payments last year  improved drastically.  "These are those whose collections grew by more than 20% year on year ‐‐ some even by more  than 100% ‐‐ but did not reach P1 billion," explained Mr. Misajon.    The companies that received this award were:    • Alaska Milk Corp.    • All Asian Countertrade Inc.    • BDO Unibank, Inc.    • Hinatuan Mining Corp.    • IBM Philippines    • Interbev Philippines, Inc.    • Makati Shangri‐La Hotel and Resort, Inc.    • Maybank Philippines, Inc.    • Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co.    • Mondelez Philippines, Inc.    • Nutri‐Asia, Inc.    • Orica Philippines    • Penpro, Inc.    • Pepsi‐Cola Products Philippines, Inc.    • Pfizer, Inc.   

• SM Land, Inc.    • Vesta Property Holdings, Inc.    "We are most grateful to the companies in the LTS for helping us through some challenging past  years. We hope you can continue to support the government with the same passion and  enthusiasm as we face another year," Mr. Misajon said.  "The LTS contributes the most to the BIR’s total collections. In effect, you all make up the bulk  of the country’s revenues," he told participants at the kick‐off.    According to Mr. Misajon, collections from the 2,120 firms classified under the LTS reached  P755.23 billion last year, up 15.98% annually and comprising over 60% of the BIR’s total 2013  haul of P1.217 trillion.  This year, the LTS has been assigned a goal of P917 billion ‐‐ the bulk of the bureau’s entire  P1.456‐trillion target for 2014.    Mr. Misajon noted that as the target given to LTS continues to grow, the BIR will "continue to  seek and implement pioneering measures in improving tax administration" and, in turn,  compliance.  In her own speech at the event, BIR Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto‐Henares also stressed the  importance of ensuring that one’s tax liabilities are settled properly.    "This kind of consistency allows the government to make sure it has money to spend on  supporting the economy," said Ms. Jacinto‐Henares.  "Rest assured that the BIR’s requirements and regulations only seek to ensure that there is a  level playing field among all taxpayers, especially in terms of compliance. These measures also  help us in further improving our efficiency as a government agency," she noted.    Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, for his part, urged LTS taxpayers to continue supporting  the government’s efforts.  "We need to continue working together for our common interest, which is the country’s  prosperity. This kind of partnership ultimately results in a virtuous cycle that will lead to an  improved economy, which would mean prosperity for businesses and individuals alike," Mr.  Purisima said in his own speech. ‐‐ Bettina Faye V. Roc‐hails‐top‐ taxpayers‐among‐large‐firms&id=83936   

Posted on February 25, 2014 10:12:09 PM

BCDA bids out SCTEx maintenance project THE BASES Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) is seeking bidders for a P111‐million  maintenance project along the Subic‐Clark‐Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx).    "We are inviting experienced and financially capable construction companies to submit bids  for the 2014 heavy maintenance works along the SCTEx," BCDA President and Chief Executive  Officer Arnel Paciano D. Casanova yesterday said in a statement.    Mr. Casanova said the project has two components. Lot 1 involves asphalt pavement  resurfacing while Lot 2 involves bridge revetment, slope and drainage repair. The approved  budget for Lot 1 is approximately P98.95 million while Lot 2’s is P12.45 million, for an estimated  total of P111.40 million.    Mr. Casanova said the heavy maintenance works are to ensure that SCTEx’s road condition will  not deteriorate and to also provide motorists smooth travel.    Prospective bidders must have a valid license for the applicable category from the Philippine  Contractors Accreditation Board (PCAB) for General Engineering on Roads, Highways,  Pavements, Railways, Airport Horizontal Structures and Bridges.    The PCAB license must be valid and effective at the time of bid submission, the BCDA noted.    Interested bidders may purchase the bid documents at the BCDA Corporate Center, 2nd Floor  Bonifacio Technology Center, 31st Street corner 2nd Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City,  not later than March 17, 12:00 pm, for a non‐refundable fee of P50,000 for Lot 1 and P25,000  for Lot 2.  The bid documents may also be viewed on the BCDA Web site ( ).    A pre‐bid conference is slated for March 5 at 10:30 A.M. for Lot 1 and 12:00 A.M. for Lot 2 at  the BCDA headquarters.  The deadline to submit bids is on March 17, 12:00 P.M. ‐‐ Daryll Edisonn D. Saclag‐bids‐out‐SCTEx‐ maintenance‐project&id=83934 

Posted on February 24, 2014 09:30:38 PM

LTFRB warns against fare hikes without approval THE LAND Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) yesterday warned public  utility jeepney (PUJ) operators against imposing fare increases without regulatory approval,  saying that the fourth hearing on the fare hike petition is next Friday.  "Transport groups cannot simply adjust the fares whenever they want; there must be a proper  forum to discuss their appeal," LTFRB Chairman Winston M. Ginez said in a statement.  Such groups have sought the regulator’s approval to increase the current minimum fare from  P8 to P10 and the charge for every succeeding kilometer to P1.75 each from P1.40/km.    The groups are the Alliance of Concerned Transport Organization (ACTO), Federation of Jeepney  Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP), Pangkahalatang Sangguniang  Metro Manila and Suburb Association (PASANG‐MASDA), Alliance of Transport Operations and  Drivers Association of the Philippines (ALTODAP), and the Liga ng mga Tsuper at Operator sa  Pilipinas, Inc. (LTOP).    The petition includes a 50‐centavo provisional increase.    Mr. Ginez said that the transport groups must support their petition with "solid evidence that  the increase is necessary."    "While we are concerned with the PUJ drivers’ and operators’ plight, we need to carefully study  if the fare increase is justified; we are requesting the transport groups to present studies and  projections showing possible losses as a result of the factors they mentioned in their petition,  and other relevant documents that could prove the fare increase adjustment can be granted by  the Board," Mr. Ginez added.  The regulator said that it will invite the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the  National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to the hearing to advise on the possible  impact of the requested fare increase, including how it would affect price stability. ‐‐ Lorenz  Christoffer S. Marasigan‐warns‐against‐ fare‐hikes‐without‐approval&id=83877   

Posted on February 24, 2014 09:25:35 PM

Senate passes MSME development bill THE SENATE yesterday passed on third and final reading a bill to create entrepreneurship  centers across the country for business registration and training.    Senate Bill (SB) No. 2046, the proposed Act Promoting The Reduction of Poverty Through the  Development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), mandates the creation of  Negosyo Centers under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in each city and  municipality around the country.    The centers are to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start and register their businesses as well  as to gain access to financing.    The centers are also to provide courses and development programs, training, and advice on  business conceptualization and feasibility, financing, management, capability building, human  resources, marketing and other support services.    The bill’s sponsor, Senator Paolo Benigno "Bam" A. Aquino, said in a press release yesterday  that SB 2046 ‐‐ also known as the Go Negosyo bill ‐‐ is hoped to alleviate unemployment.    "With the Go Negosyo Act, we can boost job creation in many parts of the country, by ensuring  the success and growth of MSMEs." Mr. Aquino said.    "Kapag mas maraming negosyo ang nagbukas at lumago, mas marami silang mabibigyan ng  kabuhayan at trabaho sa kani‐kanilang mga komunidad (The more businesses open and thrive,  the more livelihoods and jobs they can create in their communities)," he also said.    Mr. Aquino said that at least 66% of jobs in the labor force are generated by the MSME sector,  which in turn comprises 99% of all enterprises in the Philippines.     "With the support of our colleagues in government and the private sector, we can make the Go  Negosyo Act a game‐changing piece of legislation that can cut unemployment in the country by  half ‐‐ or even more," Mr. Aquino said. ‐‐ M.L.V. Angeles‐passes‐MSME‐ development‐bill&id=83875 

Posted on February 25, 2014 10:06:35 PM

Offers sought for P1.33-billion diesel fuel THE POWER Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) is seeking offers for the  supply and delivery of industrial diesel oil worth around P1.33 billion for this year.    In a public notice on Monday, PSALM said it has allocated the following budgets for fuel  requirements of six state‐owned power facilities:    • P19.643 million for 460,000 liters to fuel the Naga power plant complex;    • P12.596 million for 275,000 liters to fuel power barges 101 and 102;    • P16.310 million for 380,000 liters for power barge 104;    • P1.272 billion for 30 million liters for Ilijan natural gas power plant;    • P3.874 million for 90,000 liters for Southern Philippines Power Corp. (SPPC); and    • P1.281 million for 27,570 liters for Western Mindanao Power Corp. (WMPC).    The auction has been scheduled on March 18 with a pre‐bid conference on March 5.    Interested bidders must pay a non‐refundable fee of P25,000 for the bid documents of the first  three projects; P75,000 for the fourth project; and P5,000 each for the last two projects.    “Bidders should have completed, within five years from the date of submission and receipt of  bids, a contract similar to the project,” PSALM noted.    PSALM is mandated to procure fuel requirements of all government‐owned power plants.    SPC Power Corp. operates the 153.1‐megawatt (MW) Naga power complex in Cebu under an  extended operation and maintenance service contract. The asset is scheduled to be privatized  next month. The power complex consists of three power plants: the coal‐fired Cebu thermal  power plants 1 and 2, with installed capacities of 52.5 MW and 56.8 MW, respectively; and  43.8‐MW Cebu diesel power plant, consisting of six 7.3‐MW diesel‐fed units.    Power barges 101, 102 and 104 ‐‐ with capacity of 32 MW each ‐‐ are currently owned and 

operated by National Power Corp. SPC in October last year topped the bidding for the  privatization of the power barges 101 and 102 which are both located in Iloilo City. Turnover of  the facility is yet to take place. Power barge 104 ‐‐ located in Davao City ‐‐ will be auctioned off  anew after a failed bidding last October.    The 1,200‐MW Ilijan plant in Batangas City is being managed by San Miguel Corp. under an  independent power producer administrator contract with PSALM. The plant consists of two  units with 600‐MW capacity each and is fueled by natural gas from the Malampaya field in  waters northwest of Palawan. The plant uses diesel as alternative fuel.    Meanwhile, SPPC operates the 55‐MW diesel‐fired plant in Sarangani province and WMPC  operates the 100‐MW diesel‐fired power plant in Zamboanga City. Both facilities are under an  18‐year agreement with PSALM that will lapse in May 2016 and December 2015, respectively. ‐‐  Claire‐Ann Marie C. Feliciano‐sought‐for‐ P1.33‐billion‐diesel‐fuel&id=83930                           

Posted on February 25, 2014 10:04:55 PM

Revenue short on toll hike lack UNREALIZED tariff increase weighed on revenues of the toll road arm of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), a top official of the subsidiary told reporters last week.  Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. President Ramoncito S. Fernandez said on Tuesday last week that  the firm booked about P7‐billion revenues last year, 12.5% short of an P8‐billion guidance for  2013. “For 2013, our revenues are above P7 billion. We were below target because of the  unrealized tariff increase,” he explained, adding that the prospective tariff hike would have  yielded “close to P900 million.”    MPIC is a local unit of Hong‐Kong‐based First Pacific Company Ltd., part owner of Philippine  Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT). Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust  Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld. ‐‐ LCSM‐short‐on‐ toll‐hike‐lack&id=83929                         

CBCP official advises Aquino: Don’t destroy your father’s legacy Written by  Pat C. Santos   Wednesday, 26 February 2014 00:00   Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ ConferenceEpiscopal Commission on Public Affairs and CBCP-NASSA national director, yesterday advised President Aquino to assure the people that the good legacy of his father will not vanish from the hearts of the Filipino people. According to Bishop Pabillo, the spirit of Edsa 1 is for the freedom of the Filipino people from poverty, from authoritarian grip by those who are in power, and for violation of human rights that is happening in our country. The bishop urged President Aquino to address the needs of the poor like what Edsa 1 longed for — genuine land reform. Bishop Pabillio explained that the legacy of Ninoy Aquino will be a failure if the President would not work for the implementation of land reform, stop the gross violation of human rights and extra-judicial killings which have never been answered like the Maguindanao Massacre and the killing of Doc Gerry Ortega. “Kaya dapat ay magsumikap siya at pangalagaan niya kung hindi naman para sa bansa kundi para sa kanyang pamilya. Kaya malaking responsibilidad kay Pnoy yan kasi siya dapat ang icon pero napapatupad ba niya o siya pa ang sumisira sa pananaw ng mga tao sa kanyang pamilya. Malaking pananagutan niya yan,” said Bishop Pabillo during a radio interview. The bishop added that what the people hoped for Edsa 1 is to have a meaningful freedom. The bishop exhorted President Aquino to work for the common good of all and not only of a few people or group. “Nakakalungkot na after 28 years ay parang ganun pa rin ang nangyayari, hindi napapansin ang kalagayan ng pangkalahatan, ang napapansin lamang ay kalagayan ng iilang tao at yung mga taong nakinabang sa gobyerno ay siya pa ring naupo ngayon kaya nakakalungkot na parang hindi nagbago na yung kahirapan ay hindi nagbago na parang lumala pa noong 1986 at hanggang ngayon ang insidente ng poverty ay lumaganap. Kaya malawak pa ang ating pagsisikap na ang ipinaglaban sa Edsa ay manatili sa atin.” Bishop Pabillo added. The bishop reminded President Aquino that it is not funny to know that more than 12 million Filipino families suffered starvation due to unequal distribution of services and wealth of the nation.‐section/cbcp‐official‐advises‐aquino‐don‐t‐destroy‐your‐ father‐s‐legacy     

UP student leaders call for relocation of airports, seaports to solve traffic woes Written by  Arlie O. Calalo   Wednesday, 26 February 2014 00:00   Student leaders from the University of the Philippines (UP) have called for long-term solutions to decongest the metropolis through the relocation of airports and seaports to nearby provinces like Cavite as traffic woes are expected to worsen with major road projects set for implementation this year. UP student leader Red Maines, vice president for student affairs of the Respect Equals Discipline (RED), a multi-sectoral group of concerned citizens advocating “Respect Equals Discipline” on Philippine roads, said with Metro Manila’s growing population, “short-term, band aid solutions” would not be enough to ease the capital’s traffic problems which a UP National Center for Transportation Studies revealed results in P140 billion in losses annually. At a media forum at a Quezon City restaurant, UP’s student leaders cited various studies that showed the multi-billion-peso losses could be attributed to wasted gasoline, lost labor hours, employment of traffic aides and wasted electricity while the indirect losses refer to withdrawal of potential foreign investments, missed business opportunities and reduced capital inflow. “Traffic congestion and infrastructure development are hallmarks of a newly industrialized country, and these require a newly industrialized country approach. We have to think big and assume that the country will continue to grow and plan accordingly,” said Maines, who is also the convenor of UP Diliman League of College Councils Volunteer Corps. For his part, Nat Malit, an officer of the UP Diliman College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, said a piecemeal or sari- sari (variety) store approach will not solve traffic problems. “We should seriously consider adopting the model used by other growing economies in Asia like Malaysia and Thailand and relocate our airports and seaports to nearby provinces outside Metro Manila, like Cavite,” Malit told reporters belonging to the Quezon City Press Club. Moreover, CSSP Student Council officer Jet David said data would show that the relocation of airports and seaports to a nearby province like Cavite, which is home to the Cavite Export Processing Zone, could substantially reduce vehicular traffic in Metro Manila. “A huge source of traffic in Metro Manila are the thousands of trucks and other vehicles plying Metro Manila’s streets to get from one point in Metro Manila to the other,” David said. If we relocate our seaport and airport outside Metro Manila, 10,000 trucks that travel from the North Harbor to the South of Metro Manila will be reduced. If you take out the airport, you remove the 40,000 vehicles that go in and out of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport area. The student leaders’ proposal came in the wake of the implementation of the Skyway 3 extension project that is expected to ease traffic but would first worsen traffic situation during its construction that will be completed in two years’ time. The Skyway 3 will connect the North Luzon and South Luzon Expressways with a six-lane fully

elevated expressway over Osmeña Highway which links Slex to Manila’s Quirino Avenue and with a length of 14.8 kilometers. It will have eight interchanges and ramps on Buendia, Plaza Dilao, E. Rodriguez, Sgt. Rivera, Pres. Quirino, Aurora Boulevard, Quezon Avenue and Balintawak and will stretch from Buendia in Makati City to Balintawak in Quezon City.‐section/up‐student‐leaders‐call‐for‐relocation‐of‐airports‐ seaports‐to‐solve‐traffic‐woes                                      

Garments exporters told to seek greener pastures Written by  Ed Velasco   Wednesday, 26 February 2014 00:00   Filipino exporters of handicrafts and other hard goods are encouraged to look for more sizable export markets as the country’s traditional markets of United States and Europe are shifting purchase preference to cost-competitive countries. This is the advice of Celestino Mijares, Foreign Buyers Association of the Philippines (Fobap) vice president for hard goods in his official case study submitted to the Philippine Exporters Confederation and emailed to some select business reporters. Mijares said changes in the costs of producing these products “pushed purchase preference to move outside of the country where cost remained competitive.” Hard goods comprise non-fabric/textile-based products such as handicraft, housewares and accents, furniture, footwear and accessories. “(But) Fobap does not see the doors closed for Philippine exports. The door may appear small right now but there is still a chance for it to get wider,” he said. He said the US remains a strong trade partner for the country even as the opportunity for the Philippines there is “trickling down of design trends from internationally recognized trade exhibitions into other countries.” He identified Canada’s potential as a huge market for locally made products, noting the influx of Filipino immigrants in that country. While Japan can be considered as a trendsetter for Asia, Mijares noted that the country still picks up some ideas from American and European influences. “(This) highlighting the need to get a feel of the US market fairs. The key to this country is still an exporters’ flexibility, in terms of customizations, to serve the Japanese market,” he advised. Mijares further said that Australia and New Zealand, due to proximity to the Philippines, should be considered as well ready to be tapped. The exporter said Fobap recognizes that free trade agreements will open up some form of innovation within the production facilities of Philippine exporters. “With free trade opportunities within Asean countries, materials the Philippines has short supply of can be tapped. In the end, with the long-recognized design edge of Filipinos, it won’t be long that exporters can come up with winning products that can also compete in terms of price points,” he said.‐exporters‐told‐to‐seek‐greener‐pastures     

RP imports inched down to $5.29B in Dec. 2013 Written by  Tribune   Wednesday, 26 February 2014 00:00   Lower payments for capital goods reduced merchandise imports by 0.1 percent in December, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda). “After posting four consecutive months of positive growth from August to November 2013, the value of imported capital goods recorded a double-digit decline of 29.5 percent in December 2013,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan. This caused overall spending for merchandise imports to decrease to $5.29 billion in December 2013, slightly lower than the $5.30 billion import value in December 2012. The decline in imports of telecommunication equipment and electrical machinery (-45.6 percent), aircraft, ships and boats (-29.2 percent), office and EDP machines (-33.9 percent), power generating and specialized machines (-9.5 percent) and photographic equipment and optical goods (-17.9 percent) significantly affected capital goods. Meanwhile, for full year of 2013, the value of merchandise imports fell slightly by 0.7 percent from $62.1 billion in 2012 to $61.7 billion. But with stronger performance of exports, total trade-in-goods deficit narrowed to $7.7 billion in 2013 from $10.0 billion in 2012. On the other hand, higher imports of mineral fuels and lubricants, raw materials and intermediate goods, and consumer goods were recorded in December 2013. The value of overseas purchases of mineral fuels expanded by 34.7 percent to $1.2 billion in December 2013 from $880.8 million in December 2012. Also, total payments for imported raw materials and intermediate goods increased by 10.3 percent to $2.0 billion from $1.9 billion in the same period a year ago. “This was mainly due to the 21.1 percent increase in the import payment of semi-processed raw materials, particularly of materials and accessories for electrical equipment, which recorded a 64.4 percent annual expansion,” said Balisacan, who is also Neda director-general. “The increase in this segment paralleled the optimistic prospects on the recovery of the country’s electronic exports, following the consecutive increases in outward sales that have been recorded since September 2013,” he said. Year-on-year gains were also noted for imports of consumer goods, which amounted to $723.5 million in December 2013, up by 5.2 percent from $687.6 million in the same period in 2012. As for the source of Philippine imports, the People’s Republic of China has the biggest share with 14.7 percent, equivalent to $776.5 million. Second is the United States of America with a 10.9-percent share, followed by South Korea (eight percent), Japan (7.7 percent), Taiwan (7.2 percent), Saudi Arabia (6.6 percent), Thailand (6.1 percent), Singapore (six percent), Indonesia (4.7 percent) and Malaysia (4.6 percent).‐imports‐inched‐down‐to‐5‐29b‐in‐dec‐2013 

Slightly lower inflation seen in coming months Written by  Tribune   Wednesday, 26 February 2014 00:00   A central bank executive expects inflation to further go down in the coming months if the basis would be the extension by another 60 days of the 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) against rate hike of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco). Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said extension of the TRO will slightly lower the rate of price increases in the coming months because there would be lesser factors for prices to go up. “But it still depends on the kind of ruling that they will come out in terms of the amount and schedule of implementation,” he added. Developments in the country’s power sector is among the reasons cited by monetary officials in the adjustments in their inflation rate forecasts. Last Feb. 6, central bank’s policy-making Monetary Board (MB) slightly revised downward the BSP’s average inflation forecast for this year to 4.3 percent from 4.5 percent previously due to the delay in the collection of the higher transmission charges. On the other hand, the average inflation forecast for next year was adjusted upwards to 3.3 percent from 3.2 percent previously. The Supreme Court has extended by 60 days the TRO it issued on Dec. 23, 2013 preventing Meralco from collecting the increase in transmission charges. Meralco said the higher transmission charges was a result of the power generators’ decision to raise their rate following the one-month maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya oil-to-gas project at offshore Palawan and the unscheduled shutdown of some generation companies. Extension of the implementation of the TRO was given after some consumer groups and militant lawmakers requested for it sans the decision of the High Court on whether the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) followed the rule in allowing Meralco to hike transmission charges. Earlier, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said the ERC will “soon” come out with the correct pricing for Meralco’s December 2013 rate. Transmission charge of Meralco within October to November 2013 bill is P5.66 per kilowatt hour but it registered a record-high P3.44 increase the following month to P9.11 because of higher cost required by power producers from Meralco. Including transmission charges, taxes and others like system loss, the increase that will appear on the electricity bill of a household consuming 200 kilowatts per month, which is the most number of Meralco consumers, is P4.15 per kilowatt hour.‐lower‐inflation‐seen‐in‐coming‐months   

Bill hikes burial benefit for veterans Published : Wednesday,   February 26, 2014 00:00   Written by : Jester Manalastas   A measure seeking to increase the burial assistance to military veterans was approved by the House Committee on Appropriations. The committee has approved another P10,000 to double the P10,000 burial assistance to veterans in recognition of their patriotic services in times of war and peace. The committee chaired by Rep. Isidro Ungab approved the proposal embodied in House Bill 694 authored by Bataan Rep. Herminia Roman chairperson of the Committee on Veterans Affairs and Welfare.According to Ungab, the P20,000 burial assistance to veterans is reasonable and affordable on the part of the government. “The present P10,000 burial assistance is unrealistic considering that we are now in 2014. The P20,000 proposal is reasonable assistance to our veterans who sacrificed their lives for our liberty and democracy. They deserve such amount. The government can afford a bigger amount of assistance to be included in the national budget,” Ungab said. During the committee hearing, Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) administrator Ernesto Carolina said PVAO has no arrears in assistance to the country’s veterans. Assistant Secretary Janet Abuel of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said the increased burial assistance would require a budget of P75 million. She said the DBM did not iobject to the bill since it understands the plight of veterans. She further said that for 2014, PVAO is capable of providing the appropriations for the bigger burial assistance to veterans. “I think PVAO has savings.” Roman said it is but appropriate to give veterans a burial befitting a gentleman in uniform. “This is in recognition of the valiant efforts of our veterans who risked their lives for the protection of the State and in defense of our liberty and democracy,” she said. The bill seeks the amendment of Section 20 of Republic Act 6948, otherwise known as “An Act Standardizing and Upgrading the Benefits for Military Veterans and Their Dependents,” by providing that “Unless the person who defrayed the expenses for the funeral of a deceased veteran is entitled to a similar benefit from the United States government, he or she shall be given P20,000 as burial assistance upon application therefore in due form which shall be filed within two years from the death of the veteran concerned.”‐bill‐hikes‐burial‐benefit‐for‐ veterans 

Truck holiday continues Published : Wednesday, February 26, 2014 00:00   Written by : Itchie G. Cabayan   MEMBERS of truckers’ associations yesterday continued their ‘truck holiday’ to protest against the daytime truck ban being imposed by the city government of Manila. It was learned that since Monday, the trucks belonging to the Integrated North Harbour Truckers’ Association led in putting all their trucks in total halt, saying this will be the situation until the ban is lifted or at least suspended. The truckers said the window hours given will not be enough to normalize their businesses, stressing they prefer to follow the system under the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA). Under a city ordinance which became the basis for the ban, trucks are now allowed in the streets of Manila except in the hours of from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. and the window hours of from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Teddy Gervacio, president of the INHTA, said they will resume operations only if the said ordinance is suspended and a status quo is instead implemented. Gervacio said nearly 2,000 container vans from Visayas and Mindanao arrive at the domestic ports everyday and once these are stalled, they will just fill up the piers. “Mapupuno itong pier, at hindi rin kami nagkakarga ng mga kargamento naman na galing dito sa Maynila na dadalhin sa Visayas at Mindanao. Bukas si-guro yung susunod na barko, wala na silang ikakarga galing dito sa Maynila na dadalhin sa Visayas at Mindanao. Nandu’n pa sa mga factory kasi hindi pa kami tumatakbo,” Gervacio added. Gervacio said the suggestion to transfer operations to Batangas pier is not acceptable, since the said pier is very far from the factories where their wares come from.‐truck‐holiday‐continues 

2014 02 26 quedancor daily news monitor  
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