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Alcala tightens rules on NGO accreditation  (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 14, 2014 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The procedure in the accreditation of non-government organizations, which the Department of Agriculture has made stringent since the start of President Aquino’s term in 2010, is set to become even more tougher than it has ever been before. This development stems from an order of Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala to make the NGO accreditation scam-proof, thus involving pre-continuing and post-audit requirements, capability assessment, referral from intended project beneficiaries, industry/sector and local government endorsement, proof of track record, background investigation of key officers, onsite inspection, random spot checks and constant monitoring, periodic project evaluation and review, payment in tranches based on compliance with target accomplishment schedules, withholding of periodic disbursement for unsatisfactory work, third-party or beneficiary appraisal of performance, penalties and filing of cases for non-compliance with agreed terms, and blacklisting, among others. Such measures, according to Alcala, may still expand in scope upon consultation with industry stakeholders because of the need to make the guidelines comprehensive. Alcala said the guidelines would also make the DA officials and employees in the accreditation process liable for any fraudulent activity of an erring NGO or its officers. “Nonetheless, everyone will be accorded due process,” Alcala stressed, also referring to those in the DA that would be suspected as accomplices of bogus NGOs. The same due process is being accorded Assistant Secretary Ophelia Agawin, who has gone on leave following publicized suspicion of her involvement in the celebrated scam allegedly perpetrated by Janet Napoles. The scam involved the alleged use of Napoles’ NGOs in ensnaring DA projects funded by the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of certain lawmakers. Fortunately, the Napoles NGOs received only the initial payment and failed to qualify for the succeeding disbursement tranches because of the DA’s stringent reportorial and project audit requirements. Still, Agawin had to go on leave. Up to this time, the investigating bodies, including the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), could not find evidence to link Agawin to Napoles and indict her for any involvement in the scam.

Media reports had also linked Agawin to the P728-million fertilizer scam involving then DA Undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante and several others of the then Arroyo administration. However, the cases filed against Agawin apparently stemmed from her being the DA’s chief accountant at that time as these were all dismissed for lack of merit. Agawin was later promoted to Director III in September 2004 and to assistant secretary for finance on Dec. 15, 2011. Records from the DA show that there is no pending case against Agawin. Otherwise, she would not have qualified for promotion during the pendency of any administrative or criminal case.‐tightens‐rules‐ngo‐accreditation                                 

The smell of rottten riice, aggain? DEMAND AND SUPPLYY By Boo Chan nco (The Philippine Star) |  Updated March 14, 2014 ‐ 12:00am   4  3 googleplus0  0 


After ann nouncing and d insisting att the start off P-Noy’s terrm that we w will have ricee self-sufficiiency by about this time, Agriculture A Secretary Pro ocy Alcala iss now sayingg we have to import as m much as 800,00 00 metric ton ns of rice thiis year. As expected andd according tto script, the excuse for tthis failure to o meet his ow wn boast is bad b weather. Oo nga naman. n Who o can deny Su uper Typhoo on Yolanda aand the otheer natural callamities we experiencced last yearr? It is as if typhoons t sho ouldn’t be asssumed in a country likee ours by anyy agricultu ural planner with w a half fu unctioning brain. b Indeed, I do not undeerstand why Sec Procy boasted b abouut rice self-suufficiency att all. Many economissts, including the currentt NEDA chief, have beeen saying thaat rice self suufficiency m may not be a correct c objecctive because it will keep p our farmerrs poor. Anyway y, because off kayabangan n, another Agriculture A seecretary bitees the dust. T Then again, I suspect Sec S Procy neever believed d his self-suffficiency proonouncemennt but said it because it looked like a good th hing to say… … politically. Old hand ds in the rice trade say th hat no Agricu ulture officiaal will want to change thhe current system. Things T are ju ust too profittable for man ny influentiaal folks everry time NFA A imports ricee. Daang Matuwid M be damned! d The anno ouncement to o import 800 0,000 metricc tons of ricee seems to bee the signal iit is businesss as usual. Orr maybe, the people trustted by P-Noy y at the agri department are so stupiid as to not realize th hat such an announcemen a nt works agaainst the natiional interesst. It moved iinternationall rice prices up p in the past. Business (( Article MRec ), pagematcch: 1, sectionm match: 1  

The Phillippines is th he world’s laargest importter of rice. W We were accused during the Arroyo watch off provoking the t sudden meteoric m incrrease in the w world price oof rice in 2008. Our governm ment was critiicized abroad d for destabiilizing a tradding system that had exhhibited such resiliencee over the last two decad des.

It will be recalled that world rice prices trebled within less than four months and reached a 30year inflation-adjusted high in the second quarter of 2008. The crisis, according to an expert, was manmade, not the result of natural developments. Indeed, one expert observed, “the rice crisis occurred during a period of record world production and not especially tight stock levels.” That is apparently the situation again today. Bumper harvests elsewhere have built a global rice glut, but prices in the Philippines have climbed around four percent in the last three months. Isn’t that a sign of inept management by NFA and the Agriculture department? That 800,000 metric ton figure is supposedly only the start. The rice trading community is talking of the need to import as much as 2 million metric tons after the Agriculture department missed its self-sufficiency target. That should be embarrassing enough to elicit resignations if officials who promised self sufficiency had any shame. Our bureaucrats are also blaming the dwindling of local supplies on a supposedly effective government drive against rice smugglers. That’s how to explain failure of policy and failure of execution to end up painting a positive picture. I am told that everything starts with the framing of the TOR or terms of reference before bidding where the winner is identified. The pre-chosen winner moves to get price commitment from rice exporters before any public announcement. The announcement of an intention to import a large volume moves international prices up. The higher price is, of course, what we pay and the difference in prices is what makes everyone happy at the expense of the Filipino taxpayers. This results in over P10 billion in national government subsidy to NFA. That covers the cost of overpriced imports which may be higher than local consumer rice market price, losses from rotten/spoiled rice that was not released to avoid flooding the market and dampening farmgate rice prices plus bank interest charges. Knowledgeable sources tell me that by ordinary measures NFA can now be considered bankrupt. It only enjoys loans facilities because of National government guarantee. LBP, DOF and BSP are represented on the NFA Council Board and know the facts, but allow the situation to go unchecked. A policy brief prepared by the Senate Economic Planning office dated December 2010 covered the problems and policy issues concerning NFA that should have been addressed by now. I wonder if any senator is even aware of it, much less, read it and done something about it. The Senate paper observed “In 2009, the NFA contributed P27.03 billion or 10.8 percent of the P251.5 billion consolidated public sector deficit for that year. As such, there is a need to reexamine the NFA to determine whether the benefits gained from its continued operation justifies the considerable funding it receives from the national government.” The Senate report continues: “The NFA has been eating up an increasing amount of public resources. In the period between 2003 and 2008, government spending on NFA programs, on the

average, surpassed spending on agrarian reform, research and development (i.e., DOST and SUCs), and extension services (LGUs).” Worse, “since its revenues (including subsidies from national government) are not sufficient to cover its operating costs, the deficit is funded by borrowings. The year 2008 is a case in point. When the world price of rice peaked that year, the NFA necessarily had to borrow and rely more on subsidy support to be able to expand its procurement program. “While a cap on foreign loans was set at $500 million, there is no ceiling on domestic borrowings. Increased cost of borrowing and the rolling over of debt resulted in the escalation of NFA’s debt stock over the years. “In 2009, NFA’s debt had shot up to P155.6 billion. As of May 2010, NFA’s debt was recorded at P171.6 billion. This is a far cry from the 2000 debt level of P20.9 billion. “Any debt incurred by the NFA is automatically and unconditionally guaranteed by the national government as primary obligator.” Indeed the accumulation of NFA debt guaranteed by DoF will never be paid back. There are many policy issues that P-Noy himself must think carefully about on how to handle NFA. It has obviously failed in its objective to help the Filipino farmer given that most of them remain dirt poor and their productivity low. Do we need the NFA to get involved in rice importations and lose money in the process? Maybe not. The fact that there is so much rice smuggling means there is enough private sector interest to make government participation superfluous. We can also no longer legally impose quantitative restrictions on rice imports under ASEAN trade rules after our requested extensions to be exempted from the rules expired. Our own DOJ says so. We have to help our farmers by some other ways. But rice is a complicated business because it is politically sensitive. There may be a need for a minimum government presence in terms of maintaining a buffer stock. Then again, petroleum is politically sensitive too but the private sector is handling that quite well. I get the impression there are enough studies on NFA and the rice situation. What we lack are policy decisions to address obvious problems. This seems to be a job for Congress and the Executive branch working together. But my guess is nothing good will happen because messy as the situation is today, it makes a lot of people happy. In fact, the messier it is, the better for politicians and their cronies. P-Noy, for his part, seems happy enough his good name is shielded from the potential scandals. But he should step in because he is president and is obligated to clean up the mess. Old friends

The cat is out of the bag. Bobby Ongpin’s world seems to be imploding. The PSE is taking steps to delist Ongpin flagship Alphaland for what it calls repeated disclosure violations. Ramon Ang resigned from the board of Alphaland and PhilWeb, both firms where Bobby Ongpin is king. Interesting… There had been this impression that the two are bosom buddies, inseparable business partners. Announced reason for resignation is Ang’s lack of time. Sounds like BS to me. I suspect a difference in styles led to the parting of ways. RSA only wants to make friends. Bobby Ongpin is an avid collector of enemies. In other words, RSA must have come to the conclusion that he doesn’t want any part of Ongpin’s current self inflicted problems, nor share his collection of enemies. Being associated with Bobby now would be bad for RSA’s own business, a reputational risk. I am sure it isn’t over for Bobby Ongpin just yet. It would be interesting to see how the maestro bounces back. It should be awe inspiring! Boo Chanco’s e-mail address Follow him on Twitter @boochanco


Dem mand grows g for ha alal foood as indusstry evolv ves By Aya Baatrawy (Assocciated Press) | Updated Maarch 14, 20144 ‐ 8:00am 

  A visitor talking with a representativve of a halal ffood produceer from Saudi  Arabia during a halal food d  exhibition n in Dubai, Un nited Arab Em mirates.  (AP P Photo/Aya Baatrawy) 

DUBAI, United Arab b Emirates -- The globall industry forr halal food and lifestylee products — ufacture — iis estimated to be worth hundreds off ones thatt meet Islamiic law standaards of manu billions of o dollars and d is multiply ying as Musllim populatioons grow. Prroducers outtside the Muuslim world, from Brazil to o the U.S. an nd Australia, are eager too tap into thee market. The Unitted Arab Em mirates is possitioning itseelf to be theirr gateway, ppart of its pussh to becomee a global ceenter of Islam mic businesss and financee. UAE offi ficials announ nced last mo onth that the city of Dubbai has dediccated around 6.7 million square feeet of land in n Dubai Indu ustrial City for fo a "Halal C Cluster" for manufacturiing and logisstic companiees that deal in i halal food d, cosmetics and personaal care items. Dubai Industrial City y CEO Abdu ullah Belhou ul said the ideea to create a zone just ffor halal manufactturers was drriven by the increased demand locallly and internnationally foor such produucts. "This ind dustry itself, we know it is growing,"" Belhoul tolld The Associated Press. He said thee industry is expected to t double in terms of vallue within fiive years. "S So we think tthere is a lot of opportun nity... and wee need to cap pitalize on th his." The worlld's Muslim population is i estimated at around 1. 6 billiion, annd the majorrity is believved to adhere to o or prefer to o adhere to halal h productts when posssible. The geeneral undersstanding is thhat halal products should d not be conttaminated with w pork or aalcohol and tthat livestock is slaughteered dance with Isslamic Shariiah law. Sim milar to kosheer practices, Islam requirres the anim mal is in accord killed with single slaash to the throat while aliive. It is inteended as a w way for animaals to die sw wiftly and minimize their pain.

However, as with most issues in religion, opinions vary greatly over what is permissible and what is not. Despite attempts by international Islamic bodies, such as the World Halal Food Council, to achieve worldwide guidelines, there are no global standards for halal certifications. Stricter interpreters of Shariah say chicken must be slaughtered by hand to be considered halal. Others say it is acceptable if the chicken is slaughtered by machine, as is the case in much of the fast-paced food industry around the world. To accommodate various Muslim consumers, several companies even specify on their packaging how the chicken was slaughtered. Belhoul said that if halal products are manufactured in the UAE, they will need to be certified halal by the government body that oversees this. But, as with most countries, if the halal products, such as livestock or raw material, are being imported from abroad for processing in the UAE, then the stamp of approval comes from Islamic organizations in the exporting country. This is where organizations such as Halal Control in Germany have an important role to play, said General Manager Mahmoud Tatari. He said that when the company started 14 years ago in Europe, there was little awareness or demand for halal products. Today, Halal Control has 12 Islamic scholars who offer guidance on certifications to international companies such as Nestle and Unilever who want to do business in the Muslim world. Halal Control, which concentrates on products made in Europe, does not certify meat and poultry, but almost everything else from dairy products to food ingredients. Tatari said Muslims around the world may think they are eating halal-certified food, but that often raw materials may include alcohol or pork gelatin in candies and soups, or may have been cross-contaminated during production. "It is a process and this will take maybe now five to 10 years (until) we can more safely eat halal," he said. Malaysia is the global leader in developing the halal industry and putting forth the highest standards, said Tatari and others in the industry. Malaysia exported $9.8 billion worth of halal products in 2013, the Oxford Business Group said. That makes it one of the largest suppliers in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, an international group with 57 members. U.S. manufacturers, such as Kelloggs and Hershey, plan to build halal-compliant plants in Malaysia. The Oxford Business Group says Indonesia, with the world's largest Muslim population, plans to establish a center for the halal industry in 2015. In Thailand, more than a quarter of food factories are already making halal products. But it is in the Gulf, where countries almost entirely rely on food imports, where the halal industry seems to have the biggest potential for growth in the coming years. Brazil is the world's second top exporter of meat and poultry to Muslim-majority countries after the U.S. The Brasil Food Company, which is among the world's largest food companies, plans to

open its first manufacturing site in the Middle East in UAE's capital, Abu Dhabi, in June. The factory will process poultry from Brazil for repackaging and shipping to other countries. "Having the factory will allow us to be closer to the market and will allow us go to different markets that today we cannot export to from Brazil," BRF Quality Assurance Supervisor Tiago Brilhante said. The company already exports 70,000 tons of chicken to the Middle East each month, making the region its biggest export market. Datamonitor, a company that provides market and data analysis, says halal food already accounts for about a fifth of world food trade, and the Muslim market is growing substantially. According to a Global Futures and Foresights Study, 70 percent of the world's population increase from 7 billion today to 9 billion people by 2050 will be born in Muslim countries. Already in Muslim-majority countries, outlets like McDonald's, Subway and Papa John's pizza serve halal to their customers. In the U.S., the family-run Midamar Corporation, based out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has been tapping into the halal market since 1974. Midamar exports American beef and chicken to around 35 countries. Jalel Aossey said the company's halal certification comes from an organization his father started called the Islamic Services of America, which he says was the first of its kind in the U.S. Today there are around 30 halal certification bodies in the U.S. and several mainstream supermarkets that carry halal food items. Even in markets where Muslims are not the majority, there are billions of dollars to be made in the halal industry. The Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, a not-for-profit halal certification organization, said the domestic U.S. halal market is estimated at $20 billion. Mark Napier, director of the Gulfood trade show that brings together more than 4,500 food and beverage vendors from around the world to the Dubai World Trade Center annually, said producers of halal products want to serve markets where their supply is not keeping up with demand. Many Muslims in the West buy Jewish kosher products when their halal counterparts are not available. "Food business is big business," Napier said. "Producers are increasingly aware of the need for halal standards and certification and bringing that to the fore of their export promotions."‐grows‐halal‐food‐industry‐evolves     

Toda ay’s on nion smugg s glers u use old d modu us operrandi GOTCHA B By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) || Updated Maarch 14, 20144 ‐ 12:00am 

Readers of o “Rizal’s True T Love” will w gain deeeper insightss than just hoow many hearts the natioonal hero brok ke in a span of 35 years. But if they still want to know Rizall’s criteria foor the ideal woman, it’s i also therre in the new w book by Geemma Cruz Araneta. Gemma focuses f on aspects a of Rizal that histo ory classes ggloss over: w what made hiis heart beatt fast. Those aree, among oth hers, the purrpose of Ligaa Filipina, hiis model com mmunity in D Dapitan, thee roots of our o agrarian unrest, com mrades in the nationalist m movement, aand his bluepprint for nationhood. Of note is the way Rizal R is preseented not as a “stand alonne” patriot w who worked by himself, but b as an ard dent organizer-networkeer, always atttuned to the needs of thee Fatherland. A descen ndant of Rizaal, Gemma grew g up hearring about heer patriotic fforebears — and so appreciattes their pain ns and triump phs. Her colllection of esssays revealss the hidden connectionss among peeople and ev vents. Again of note is why w Rizal’s eenigmatic brrother Pacianno was whatt he was. “Rizal’s True Love” is available at Popular Bookstore B (M Morato-Timoog Avenues,, Quezon Citty), Solidarid dad (Padre Faura Street, Manila), and d Fully Bookked (Bonifaccio High Strreet, Global C CityTaguig). For inquiriees: call (02) 81901945. 8 Written from f a womaan’s point off view, Gem mma’s book pproperly wass launched inn March, Women’s Month, say ys National Historical H Commission cchairman Drr. Ferdie Llaanes. *



Is onion smuggling unstoppable? u ? I exposed the t scam moore than a deccade ago. It prodded a congressional inquiry y, and intern nal correction ns by the agrriculture deppartment andd the Custom ms bureau. Now N I hear th hat today’s smugglers s arre employingg the old moodus operanddi: The Bureeau of Plant Industry (BP PI) issues sp pecial importt permits forr yellow onioon. No limitss are set on thee quantity an nd date of deelivery. The BPI simply jjustifies the imports as nnecessary to forestall a domestic shortage. s Bu ut it has no acccurate counnt of the annnual shortfalll. It just know ws that locall yellow-onion growers produce p lesss than the co untry’s conssumption, unnlike the redd variety th hat is exporteed.

Imports flood in December-January, from China, Europe, or North America that harvested before the winter. Quantities are under-declared and undervalued — technical smuggling — to skirt the right duties and taxes. Refrigerated warehouses are filled to the brim. Farmers in Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, and Ilocos start harvesting in February-March. Due to the seeming oversupply of imports, they are forced to drop farm gate prices. The growers sell at loss to bulk buyers — financed by the same onion importers. Meanwhile, the importers unload their stocks at 65-percent markup. Warehouse space is made for the cheap local harvest. When the imported stocks run out, they sell the local stocks at the same high price. Importers enrich themselves at the expense of farmers and consumers. It doesn’t end there. The importers turn to outright smuggling — recycling the used import permits to bring in more yellow onion. This time the pre-winter harvests from Australia-New Zealand are sneaked in, in collusion with crooked BPI and Customs personnel. The stocks are sold at the same high price as before. The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag), an umbrella of farmers’ and food makers’ associations, says that’s still the way it’s done. Rosendo So, Sinag president and Abono party-list founder, notes that over-imports of yellow onion arrived from The Netherlands last New Year’s. Acquired at P18 per kilo, it is being sold at P28. Meanwhile, starting February, the bulk buyers hauled off the local produce at only P10 a kilo farm-gate, from the usual P20. These too are now being sold at the cartel price of P28 a kilo. Expect the next imports to arrive in June-July. The smugglers make a killing, whether from imported or domestic onions. One of them, So whispers, is the same “Ma’am Leah” recently exposed as a big-time smuggler of agricultural products. *



Bart Guingona is Philippine theater’s master of the one-man show (“Via Dolorosa,” “The Atheist”). So it’s only right that he directs the mistress, Cherie Gil, in the one-woman play, “Full Gallop.” It’s a true story, one year (1971) in the life of fashion writer-editor Diana Vreeland, of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. She announces to friends that she is out of a job, and wishes to put up her own magazine, if they’d finance her. That’s after she was fired by Vogue and she spends four months touring Europe in style. Her friends suggest taking on an offer from the Metropolitan Museum. Vreeland proceeds to do with her life as she’s always done — in full gallop. Premiering tonight, “Full Gallop” runs only this weekend and next, 8 p.m. regular and 4 p.m. matinees, with a special participation of Giselle Tongi. Tickets available at the box office, Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Ayala corner Puyat Avenues, Makati City. Also at Ticket World: (02) 8919999. *



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SRA further trims export of sugar to meet local demand Category: Agri-Commodities 13 Mar 2014 Written by Alladin S. Diega / Correspondent A SPIKE in local demand has prompted the Sugar Regulatory Authority (SRA) to further trim down sugar allocation for the world market, saying on Thursday the move is to ensure a stable supply of the sweetener in the local market. The market is feeling the shortage of supply in the wake of Supertyphoon Yolanda, SRA Administrator Ma. Regina Bautista-Martin said. Hence, the Sugar Board has allowed the reallocation of “D sugar,” or world market sugar, to “B sugar,” or domestic market sugar, in order to meet the increasing local market demand, she said. “This is a win-win for both producers and consumers as we maintain a healthy balance between profit for farmers and manufacturers and ensure stable retail prices of sugar for households,” Martin told reporters. From a 6-percent allocation, the world-market sugar allocation would be slashed down to just 2 percent of the total production from crop year 2013 to 2014, while domestic sugar will increase from 92 percent to 96 percent, she added. The SRA, on the other hand, retained the 2-percent allocation for “A sugar,” or US sugar quota, in line with its commitment to the World Trade Organization. Earlier this year, the agency earlier lowered production targets to 2.356 million metric tons (MMT) for the current crop year from 2.45 MMT after Yolanda devastated several sugarproducing areas in the Visayas and ripped the rooftops of several sugar warehouses. In early February the agency reallocated 2 percent for the US-quota sugar, 6 percent for worldmarket sugar and 92 percent for the domestic market. “The new reallocation scheme is necessary to prevent sugar buffer stock from hitting critical levels by end of the crop year in August,” Bautista-Martin said on March 13. The SRA chief also noted that domestic sugar continued to enjoy premium millgate prices at P1,530 per metric ton (MT) as compared to just P830 per MT for US-quota sugar and P850 per MT for world-market sugar. In terms of retail, prices of raw sugar averaged P40 per kilogram, while refined sugar was pegged at P47 per kilogram as of last week.

“Prices of sugar in the retail market has been stable for the past three years because we are able to maintain a healthy supply, as properly allocated enough volume for exports,” Martin said. As of March 6, sugar production has already reached 1.878 MMT, which is nearing the 2.356 MMT target for the current crop year. “We are confident to hit our target with all mills operating. Also, there are about 25-percent to 30-percent sugarcane crops standing and yet to be milled,” Martin said, adding that the milling season is expected to end by May. Of the total sugar production, about 50 percent to 60 percent goes to industrial users, while 30 percent to 40 percent are to wet markets and groceries. In a related development, Martin said they have allowed all future production in areas affected by Yolanda, and are currently under the state of calamity, to be milled 100-percent for local consumption. Five sugar mills, including Central Azucarera de San Antonio in Iloilo, Hisumco in Leyte, Capiz in Panay, URC Passi and Bogo Medillin in Cebu, will be allocating 100- percent “B sugar,” or a total of 154,806 bags for local consumption. “But more than filling the gap of projected tight domestic sugar supply, the emphasis is on the estimated P110-million producers compensation out of purely ‘B sugar’ sales, as the amount can pump prime anew their economic activities,” Martin added. All government financial institutions has granted a 6-month moratorium on loan payments and extended interest-free loans to farmers and entities affected by the calamity that hit the Visayas region in November last year.‐commodities/28912‐sra‐further‐trims‐ export‐of‐sugar‐to‐meet‐local‐demand                 

Regu ulatorr has high h hopes ffor 20114 tob bacco-trad ding seeason Category: C Ag gri-Commod dities 13 Mar 2014 4 Written W by lecruz

THE T Nationaal Tobacco A Administratiion (NTA) ssaid it is optimistic the 2014 4 tobacco-trading season n would be ssuccessful ass it noted flooor prices inn both Virginia and native to obacco havee increased. In a stateement on March M 13, thee NTA said the season begins earlyy this monthh for Burleyy and native tob bacco, whilee trading seaason in Virg ginia tobaccoo-growing arreas in Ilocoos started as early as the thiird week of February. F “With th he P6 increasse for floor prices acrosss all grades for Virginiaa and P3 to P10 increasse for Burley and native to obacco, the NTA N and otther stakehollders are opptimistic the season willl be a success,”” the Philippine tobacco industry reg gulator said. The NTA A added thaat the rate off high-gradee Virginia leeaf (AA) is now at P788, while for highgrade Bu urley and nattive tobacco are at P61 and a P66, resppectively. At least 66.6 million n kilograms of locally grown g leaf ttobacco, witth a farm-gaate value off P4.6 billion were w traded with w major bu uyer firms, th he NTA saidd citing its ddata as of Deecember 2013. The tobaacco industry y regulator also a announcced the grantting of request for official opening of 11 registered d/licensed trrading centerrs on the earrly weeks of trading seassons in Ilocoos provinces.. “The ageency through h its Regulattion Departm ment, in com mpliance witth the Ruless and Regulaations on the traading of locaally grown leeaf tobacco, has issued llicenses to 554 trading ceenters, 21 of them for Virginia type in Ilocos I Sur, Illocos Norte and La Unioon.” A added that is has also issued i “Perm mit to Purchaase” to 10 whholesale tobbacco dealerss, and The NTA certificattes of authority (COA) to o buy leaf to obacco to 2888 field repreesentatives. NTA chief Edgardo Zaragoza Z waas quoted in the statemennt as saying that the ageency was satiisfied by the staate of preparredness of sttakeholders ahead a of the opening of the trading ffloors.

The agency had conducted a month before the trading season an orientation seminar in Candon City on the rules and regulations on the trading, wholesaling and redrying of locally grown leaf tobacco. The orientation seminar is a prerequisite for applications for licenses or permits to buy or redry leaf tobacco, and Certificate of Authority to the tobacco traders, trading center operators and field representatives. “There is plenty of room for growth of local production of tobacco,” Zaragoza was quoted as saying. He was also said to have expressed optimism “that with an increase share in the excise tax of tobacco, and continued commitment of buyer-firms and manufacturers to purchase all the farmers’ produce for the crop year, local production will remain high.”

In Photo: A Tobacco farmer sprays insecticide to his crop in Carmen, Pangasinan, on February 28. The country’s tobacco industry regulator expressed optimism on the success of this year’s tobacco-trading season that formally opened on March. (Nonie Reyes)‐commodities/28911‐regulator‐has‐ high‐hopes‐for‐2014‐tobacco‐trading‐season                         

DENR says amount of penalty vs Philex Mining ‘standard’ Category: Agri-Commodities 13 Mar 2014 Written by Alladin S. Diega THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is unlikely to reduce the fines the agency slapped against Philex Mining Corp. that the DENR said violated the Clean Water Act of 2004 in the firm’s Padcal copper-gold mine in Benguet province. Environment Undersecretary for Operations Demetrio L. Ignacio Jr. said, “The fine is standard,” when asked on Thursday about the status of Philex Ming's appeal to lower penalties. The lawyer added that the only possible aspect still open for negotiation is the number of days wherein to base the computation for how much penalty Philex Mining should cough up. “They are also contesting the number of water bodies affected by the spill. By government assessment, the Agno River and Balog creek are two separate water bodies but they want it to be counted as one,” Ignacio said. Under Republic Act 9275, the maximum fine is P200,000 per day. Ignacio, who is also a presiding officer of the DENR’s Pollution Adjudication Board, said that that fine is applied since August 1 of 2012, the when the spill occurred. The DENR official, however, declined to disclose the exact amount of fine imposed, pending the appeal of the mining company. “Philex is arguing that within about three months of spill, the water safety in the affected bodies were already within the government standards,” Ignacio said. He noted that the government would not budge from its position that the fine should apply beginning August 1, 2012, and “until such time that pollution is totally eliminated from the water bodies.” The issue is not only about pollution, but on the disruption of the flow of water because of the spill, according to Ignacio. “This is the reason why the EMB [Environmental Management Bureau] is studying this case because all of the findings need to be scientific, and as of now, we are conducting water samples from the affected areas, and the EMB is yet to come up with official findings,” Ignacio added.

Earlier this month, the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) reported that Philex has already addressed its responsibilities, particularly on the impact of the tailings spill to the surrounding areas of Padcal. The MICC report added that for the company’s immediate action plan, Philex was able to complete the closure of Penstock A and its tunnel, as well as the decommissioning of Penstock B, which will be replaced by an open spillway. A positive review by the MICC, as a requirement, will pave way for the approval of the company’s request for the permanent lifting of the temporary permit to operate.‐commodities/28910‐denr‐says‐ amount‐of‐penalty‐vs‐philex‐mining‐standard                                     

DENR identifies new likely sources of drinking water Category: Nation 13 Mar 2014 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has identified portions of Lake Danao in Ormoc City and Lanao del Sur, along with the upper portions of Paypayan and Larangan rivers in Misamis Occidental, as potential sources of potable water. Water quality in portions of the said water bodies has been classified by the DENR as “Class A.” Waters from these lake and rivers require complete treatment to meet the national standards for drinking water. A total of 21 water bodies in the Visayas and Mindanao have been classified by the DENR according to their best uses. Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said apart from these potential drinking-water sources, 17 other fresh surface and marine waters were classified by the DENR pursuant to Republic Act 9275, or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004, bringing the total number of duly classified water bodies nationwide to 691. The law mandates the DENR to categorize water bodies—whether freshwater or coastal— according to their quality, area, purpose and vulnerability to pollution. Fresh surface waters, which include lakes, rivers and reservoirs, are classified as “AA,” “A,” “B,” “C” and “D.” Coastal and marine waters, on the other hand, are classified as “SA,” “SB,” “SC” and “SD.” The environment chief said the classification helps water managers and planners to develop proper water quality-management programs and provide the standards to protect aquatic life and human use of specific water bodies. “With these classifications, we are able to determine the programs and activities to implement so that we can optimize the use of our water resources and make them beneficial to our welfare and health,” Paje said. Also in DENR Memorandum Circular 2014-01, the waters of Bancal River in Zambales and the upper reach of Carigara River in Leyte were classified as “Class B,” or safe for primary contact recreation or tourism purposes, such as bathing, swimming and skin diving. The Linao River in Cagayan; Lamunan/Hinay-an River System in Iloilo; Anilao River, Pagbanganan River and lower reach of Carigara River, all in Leyte; and the lower reaches of

Paypayan and Langaran rivers; Kematu and Sefali rivers in South Cotabato; and upper reach of Guiahao-an River in Agusan del Norte were categorized as “Class C,” or safe for propagation of fish, recreation and post-treatment manufacturing processes. The lower reach of Guiahao-an River was classified as “D,” or may be sourced for agriculture and irrigation, or for limited use as industrial water supply. As regards with marine waters, the DENR has identified water bodies in the Visayas that fall under “Class SA,” or those suitable for commercial propagation and harvesting of shellfishes, and cover national marine reserves and coral reef parks. These include the coastal waters of barangays 3, Dalipe and Madraca in San Jose, Iloilo; and waters 3 kilometers beyond the ToledoBalamban shoreline in Toledo City, Cebu. Coastal waters that fall under “Class SB,” or allowed for recreational activities like bathing, swimming and skin diving, include those surrounding Maniwaya Island in Marinduque; barangays 4, San Pedro, Mojon, Magcalon, San Fernando, Malaiba, Maybato Norte and Maybato Sur in San Jose, Iloilo; Albay Gulf in Albay and Sorsogon; and waters within 3 km of ToledoBalamban shoreline in Cebu.‐denr‐identifies‐new‐likely‐ sources‐of‐drinking‐water                         

Morre grou ups ap ppeal SC S ru uling oon Cybercrim me Law w By Edu Pu unay (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 14, 20144 ‐ 12:00am

  MANILA A, Philippinees - The Sup preme Court (SC) has beeen flooded w with appealss regarding itts ruling lasst month thaat upheld the constitution nality of key provisions iin the controoversial Repuublic Act No. 10175 or Cy ybercrime Prrevention Acct, including the criminallization of oonline libel. Several petitioners p in n the case – mostly m group ps from meddia, legal com mmunity andd academe – filed mottions for reco onsideration n over the hig gh court’s diismissal of thheir constituutional questtions on provissions of RA 10175. The grou ups insisted section s 4 (c) (4) of the laaw, which peenalizes actss of libel as ddefined in Article 355 of th he Revised Penal Code committed th hrough a com mputer system m, is unconsstitutional duue to “vagueneess and overb breadth.” Petitioners reiterated d the same arrgument for sections s 5 annd 6 of the laaw, which ppenalizes aiding or abettin ng the comm mission of cy ybercrime an nd applies peenalties one ddegree higheer as comparred to the Revissed Penal Co ode, respectiively. They said d sections 13 3 and 15, thaat respectiveely allow preeservation ass well as searrch and seizuure of compu uter data, vio olate the con nstitutional riight to due pprocess and tthe right agaainst unreason nable searchees and seizurres. The motiions were filled by a grou up of studentts and membbers of acadeeme led by tthe Kabataann party-listt, UP law pro ofessor Harrry Roque Jr.,, the Nationaal Union of JJournalists oof the Philippin nes, the Natio onal Press Club C of the Ph hilippines, oofficers of thhe Philippinee Bar Associiation and milittant groups led by Bagon ng Alyansan ng Makabayaan (Bayan). A sourcee said the bid d for reconsid deration of the t SC rulingg might be a “long shot,”” as he notedd that the margins of voting g of justices on this case were “very clear,” makking reconsidderation less likely. In the asssailed ruling g, the high co ourt dismisseed the constiitutional queestions raisedd on at least 22 provision ns of RA 101 175.

Among the key provisions declared constitutional by the SC were those that penalize illegal access, data interference, cybersquatting, computer-related identity theft, cybersex, child pornography and one that allows search and seizure of computer data. The SC declared the imposition of cyber libel on “original author of the post” is constitutional, noting that the same is unconstitutional when it penalizes those who simply receive the post and react to it. This means only the source of a malicious e-mail, post on Facebook or any websites, tweet on Twitter can be held liable under RA 10175. The high court also declared constitutional the imposition of penalty on those aiding or abetting the commission of cybercrime under section 5 of the law. The SC declared unconstitutional three other assailed provisions of the law: section 4 (c) (3), which penalizes unsolicited commercial communication; section 12, which authorizes the collection or recording of traffic data in real-time; and section 19, which authorizes the Department of Justice to restrict or block access to suspected computer data. The high court voided section 7 of the law, which allows prosecution of online libel and child pornography both under RA 10175 and RPC. The court said such provision violates the constitutional right against double jeopardy.


Law wmakeers pleedge to o limitt Cha--cha too econ nomic reform ms By Paolo R Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated d March 14, 22014 ‐ 12:00aam 

  MANILA A, Philippinees - Speaker Feliciano Belmonte B Jr. and several other lawmaakers have signed a pledge to lim mit Charter change c initiaatives to econnomic proviisions. Belmontee signed the document Wednesday W night n along w with memberrs of the so-called House independ dent bloc. “The Speeaker’s signiing of the pleedge will greeatly help asssure the nattion of any feears in this nnoble effort of Charter refo orms. Mind you, y this is a radical pleddge,” Buhay party-list R Rep. Lito Atieenza, the principal author of o the docum ment, said in a telephone interview. “I’m with h you 100 peercent,” the lawmaker l qu uoted Belmoonte as sayinng in signingg the pledge in the latterr’s office. He said all a members of the indep pendent bloc led by Leytte Rep. Marttin Romualddez have signned the docum ment. Atienza said s he aims to gather more m signaturres before thee start of thee plenary disscussions on the resolution n in May. Last Marrch 3, the Ho ouse committtee on consttitutional am mendments appproved Ressolution of B Both Houses No. N 1, seekin ng to ease resstrictions on n foreign partticipation inn certain induustries to attrract more inv vestments and create jobss. The pled dge read: “W We, the memb bers of the House H of Reppresentativess of the Philiippines, makke this pledg ge to the peo ople of the Philippines P to o only tacklee economic pprovisions of the Constituttion as we move m towardss Charter chaange. We wiill not touchh political proovisions, especially y the extension of terms of incumbent officials aand the liftinng of term lim mits. We subbmit ourselvess for expulsiion from Con ngress shoulld this pledg e be violatedd.” Atienza said s joblessn ness and holllow growth are a two majoor economicc problems fa facing the country.

“Opening our economy will generate new industries and opportunities that will address these alarming developments,” Atienza said. The resolution seeks to insert the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to Articles XII (national economy and patrimony), XIV (education, science and technology, arts, culture and sports), and XVI (general provisions) to allow Congress in the future to enact laws that will ease restrictions on foreign ownership in certain industries to attract investments and generate jobs. “You will notice this is the simplest possible Charter change that we can think of, addressing a very important issue, the economic provisions, while at the same time not opening doors but providing keys to meet contingencies as they may occur,” Belmonte told reporters on Wednesday. Once approved in the House, the resolution would be transmitted to the Senate for deliberations. If passed, the document will be subjected to a nationwide plebiscite. At the Senate, Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. said he is open to Charter change but voiced concerns that some lawmakers might take it as an opportunity to revise term limits and definitions of power of the three branches of government. “We are open to amendments of some provisions in the Constitution but not the political provisions, wherein the current allies of the administration are likely to benefit,” Revilla said in a statement. Revilla issued the statement a day after the Palace said President Aquino is open to discussing his views on Charter change with Belmonte. “I got information that the administration has plans to strengthen the executive, particularly on the financial front,” he said. “My sources said they wanted to tinker with the term limits so that they can probably prevail beyond 2016. They see the weakness of their candidate, which is the reason why they are finding a way (to stay in power)” Revilla said. He said he finds Malacañang’s declaration that it has nothing to do with Cha-cha moves incredible. With Mayen Jaymalin, Christina Mendez‐pledge‐limit‐cha‐cha‐economic‐ reforms         

Pinoy infra quality ‘worst’ among Asian neighbors Category: Top News 12 Mar 2014 Written by Bianca Cuaresma THE Philippines ranked last in terms of the quality of its infrastructure as compared against that of neighboring countries, a study made by an international bank showed. In a briefing in Makati City, Hong-kong and Shanghai Banking Corp. (HSBC) said in its analysis on the quality of infrastructure in the region, the Philippines showed up as having the “worst” among 13 other countries in Asia. “We made some analysis on infrastructure, and we have come up with a measure on the quality of infrastructure in Asian countries…it is summarized in one index of infrastructure, and, unfortunately, the Philippines ranks last in this particular index behind Vietnam and India,” said Frederic Neumann, co-head of the HSBC Asian Economic Research. The index involved in the analysis were Hong Kong, Singapore, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India. Neumann also said it measured the quality of roads, telecommunications, electricity, water supply and “everything understood about infrastructure.” Although other details of HSBC’s Asia infrastructure measure have yet to be made available by the bank, Neumann said the poor ranking of the Philippines in terms of infrastructure quality means that other countries that are relatively “poorer” than the Philippines are able to build infrastructure with better quality. “Interestingly, the Philippines does not rank in terms of per-capita income. That implies that even poor[er] countries than the Philippines start to have better infrastructure,” Neumann told reporters. As such, the HSBC economist said raising the quality and level of infrastructure investments is crucial to maintaining the strong growth that the country is currently enjoying. Neumann said HSBC remains “optimistic” about the growth prospects of the Philippines, forecasting a growth that is slightly below 7 percent for this year. He further said the Philippines could even achieve a double-digit growth, given the confluence of positive events in the country, such as low inflation, high growth and the demographic sweet spot if only infrastructure investment will be ramped up.

“We remain optimistic for growth this year might be slightly below 7 percent, but it’s still a fairly robust growth rate. But it could drift toward 6 percent to 5.8 percent next year. And I am worried that unless we get a sharp improvement in the investment climate, the long-term growth rate of the Philippines will sort of be around 5 percent to 6 percent rather than 7 percent to 8 percent, or 9 percent that the Philippines could really achieve if it were to raise its game on investment,” Neumann said. The economist acknowledged that ramping up infrastructure investments “cannot happen overnight,” and said it would probably take about five to 10 years to catch up with the lag in infrastructure. He further said that the target of the government to spend 5 percent of the entire gross domestic product of the country on infrastructure by 2016 is the “minimum” level to be able to catch up with peer nations. He also said the country needs to double its spending on infrastructure. The economist also cited that the current market environment of the Philippines is a “historic opportunity” for investors and the government to invest on infrastructure, as rates are low and as investors look for other countries with lower labor costs than China.‐news/28867‐pinoy‐infra‐quality‐worst‐ among‐asian‐neighbors                           

BSP still has room to keep key rates By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 14, 2014 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas still has room to keep key policy rates steady as inflation is expected to remain within target, BSP Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo said yesterday. “There is still room but it’s getting narrower,” Guinigundo told reporters. The BSP has kept its overnight borrowing and overnight lending rates at 3.5 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively. “It is not that the monetary authorities are reluctant to increase interest rates but why would you increase interest rates at this point when inflation rate is still within the target,” Guinigundo said. “You have to examine the numbers very carefully and see what is going to happen in case an adjustment in policy is undertaken by the authorities,” he continued. The BSP official explained that there are many options to address challenges faced by monetary authorities. For example, Guinigundo said, excessive liquidity in the system may be dealt with adjustments in the banks’ reserve requirement instead of tweaking policy rates. “We have to be careful because we don’t want to adjust our monetary policy levers and affect the entire economy in the process because of the continuing global uncertainty,” Guinigundo said. The BSP will revisit policy settings on March 27. Keeping prices stable remain the primary mandate of the central bank and as long as this is seen settling within the target range, Guinigundo said, the board will have space to adjust key policy rates. Inflation last year averaged three percent, at the low end of the BSP’s three to five percent target range. In February, the rate slid to 4.1 percent from a two-year high of 4.2 percent in January. The BSP expects the rate to average 4.3 percent this year, above the midpoint of its three to five percent target range. “There is still a lot of uncertainty in the global economy and the financial markets continue to be volatile,” Guinigundo said, noting uncertainty still stems from the US Federal Reserve’s actions. “There is going to be a sharp adjustment in global interest rates and there would be some heat as far as domestic economy is concerned,” he continued.‐still‐has‐room‐keep‐key‐rates 

Gov’t borrowings down 42% By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 14, 2014 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - Borrowings by the government fell by nearly 42 percent last year, the Department of Finance reported yesterday. The government borrowed P554.7 billion from January to December 2013, significantly lower than the previous year’s P955.15 billion largely due to the decline in maturing debts. The government borrows from both local and foreign sources to pay maturing obligations and plug the deficit in its budget. Domestic borrowings, incurred mainly from the sale of Treasury bills and bonds, accounted for P520.93 billion or 93.9 percent of total borrowings. The amount represented a 34.76-percent decrease from the P798.53 billion borrowed in 2012. The balance of P33.77 billion came from external sources. This was down 78.44 percent yearon-year as the government relied heavily on domestic debt to help temper substantial appreciation pressures on the exchange rate. Foreign borrowings are done through the sale of sovereign bonds in the international capital market and by tapping cheap loans, in the form of official development assistance (ODA), from multilateral development institutions. The biggest sources of ODAs are Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency. The government also paid P235.59 billion in maturing liabilities during the period, 49.5 percent lower than what it spent for debt payments in 2012. The decline in maturing obligations was due to the drop in interest rates as well as initiatives taken by the government to contain debt. Interest rates on the government’s short-term borrowings fell to record lows last year with the benchmark rates for T-bills falling below one percent. In December alone, the government borrowed P14.45 billion, down 85.89 percent from the same period in 2012. A big chunk of the new debt or P11.65 billion came from the domestic market. For this year, government borrowings are expected to reach P730 billion, 2.1 percent higher than the original plan of P715.04 billion. The Aquino administration plans to borrow more from overseas investors to take advantage of cheap loans to fund massive reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts for the storm-ravaged Eastern Visayas.‐borrowings‐down‐42 

How to prevent, prosecute & collect bouncing checks  (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 14, 2014 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - A substantial number of collection cases filed in the office of the prosecutor or court using BP 22 and/or estafa are dismissed due to legal technicalities. You should never be a victim of bouncing checks again if you know the right way to prevent it, prosecute offenders, and collect debts effectively. Many lawyers fail to defend their clients on this effectively because they only learn his subject matter as a two-to-three-hour lecture in law school. To arm yourselves with the full knowledge of the law against bouncing checks, the Center for Global Best Practices is launching a one-day pioneering seminar entitled “How to prevent prosecute and collect bouncing checks: best practices guide on the use of BP 22 and estafa and other effective collection methods” on March 21, at EDSA Shangri-La Hotel, Mandaluyong City, Philippines. In this one-day comprehensive seminar, commercial and criminal law experts will teach you all the relevant regulations governing bouncing checks, how to file a court case properly against the offenders, surefire ways to secure criminal conviction, as well as how to enforce court decision and recover your money with the right out-of-the-box collection strategies. For details call Manila lines: (+63 2) 556-8968 or 69; telefax (+63 2) 842-7148 or 59; Cebu lines: (+63 32) 5123106 or 07; Baguio (+63 74) 423-5148. You may also check details and all other upcoming best practices seminars including “How To Collect Debt Without A Lawyer Using SCC” at This special seminar will feature Marlo B. Campanilla who has authored six criminal law books and is presently the presiding judge of Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 83 in Caloocan City. He is also a bar review lecturer in six law centers including the University of the Philippines. Sharing Campanilla’s enthusiasm for law is Pearlito B. Campanilla, DEM, a practicing lawyer with a track record of successfully handling collection cases. He is presently the chairman of the legal department of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. He specializes in cases involving civil, criminal and labor law. He was formerly the chief of the legal department of the Board of Investments. Make bouncing checks a thing of the past! Attend this special course and teach yourself fully how to fight back against non-paying and abusive debtors! Pre-registration is required in this limited-seats-only event. Register now and avail of the early bird discount and group discounts for three or more attendees.‐prevent‐prosecute‐collect‐bouncing‐ checks 

Validity of agency-to-agency procurement upheld  (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 14, 2014 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) has issued a legal opinion affirming that Republic Act 9184, otherwise known as the Government Procurement Reform Act allows government agencies to procure goods and services from the Philippines Aerospace Development Corp. (PADC) after mere negotiations. In his opinion rendered in response to a clarification sought by PADC acting president Conrado C. Cueto, Government Corporate Counsel Justice Raoul C. Creencia said any government agency may validly procure goods and services from PADC without the necessity of a prior public bidding. PADC is a government-owned and controlled corporation mandated by Presidential Decree 696 to provide technical services and overhaul support to government agencies owning aerospace equipment, the Philippine Air Force, the national airline, foreign airline companies and to the aviation industry in general. PADC does not receive any subsidy from the National Government and is not part of the annual General Appropriations Act. It has to generate its own corporate funds to sustain its operations. Anti-graft vigilante groups lauded the OGCC ruling as a timely edict that will not only cut costs but will also expedite the procurement process among government agencies and eliminate opportunities for graft and corrupt practices. As this developed, aviation industry stakeholders said the P-Noy administration may have to thoroughly review the situation before deciding on the fate of PADC which, according to media reports, has lately been lumped together with some government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) marked for abolition for either losing money or being unnecessary, with some of them being linked to the pork barrel scam. They cited a recent Commission on Audit (COA) report finding PADC that used to be operating “in the red” has turned around and has been “in the black” since 2011 when its new management took over. The same COA report stated that for the first time in many years, PADC earned a net income of P4.399 million. And for the first time since it was established in 1973, PADC remitted the amount of P2 million as dividend to the National Government during the GOCC day held in Malacañang last June 3, 2013.‐agency‐agency‐procurement‐upheld   

Tagum schools to implement veggie program  by Cherry Mae D. Palicte March 13, 2014

Tagum City – Public elementary and secondary schools in this city will now allot a portion of their school sites for the “GulayansaPaaralan” initiative, a pioneering program attached to the government’s National Greening Program. This developed after the city government here and the Department of Education (DepEd)Tagum City Division signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that institutionalized the GulayansaPaaralan – described as a “school-based approach management program aimed at the sustainability of vegetable production.” “This is a big help to our schools as an effective mechanism for our feeding programs,” said DepEd Schools Division Superintendent Cristy C. Epe. Epe added that this program is in consonance with poverty reduction target of the national government. A triumvirate will join forces in its implementation with the city government, through the City Agriculture Office taking the lead as the provider of quality planting and training materials needed for the development and the establishment of the program and provide technical assistance and technical know-how in terms of layout and site preparation.‐schools‐to‐implement‐veggie‐program/         


Need for boldness and vision  by Former Press Secretary Hector R. Villanueva March 13, 2014

“One sees great things from the Valley; only small things from the peak.” — G.K. Chesterton

“Boldness, and again boldness, and always boldness,” urged Georges Jacques Danton, the fiery demagogue of the French Revolution, while the Bible’s Proverbs 29:18 warns that “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” In the last three years, President Noynoy Aquino III has not produced startling ideas or painted a long-term vision, or a roadmap, or executed bold actions or game-changing reforms. He could have done it. He should have done it, and can still do it. Like his mother, former President Corazon Aquino, President Noy Aquino risks the danger of not leaving behind or achieving positive, memorable, visible, and lasting accomplishments, distinguishing between reforms and cosmetic changes. President Cory Aquino, despite debilitating daily power outages and seven coup attempts, will always be forever remembered in Philippine political history as the kindly iconic housewife President who “restored” democracy to the country through peaceful people power revolution. What are the achievements of the Noynoy administration? First, the economy, for exogenous reasons and fortuitous events, has rebounded very nicely. President Aquino determinedly ousted a Supreme Court Chief Justice; jailed his predecessor and former President Gloria Arroyo without trial; appointed a loyal Chief Justice; unseated the former Senate President; and now vigorously pursues the prosecution of PDAF-tainted opposition senators and politicians. Can they all be considered as accomplishments? In the meantime, criminality, smuggling, insurgency, unemployment, high prices, and corruption continue unabated, which the President is belatedly addressing. Second, at the Luneta oath-taking rites, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III deliberately ignored and snubbed the incumbent Chief Justice, who was present, and chose an associate justice to swear him into office. It was an ominous signal that this Aquino heir was going to be a different kind of President who would be vindictive, obstinate, cacique, and fiercely focused on his political adversaries.

There were two diverging roads open to President Aquino. The first path was the true game-changing reforms and straight path towards purging the political system, cleansing the unethical habits of the people, inculcating the virtues of honesty, hardwork, patriotism, and unity. The other path that President Aquino opted to follow was that of the political vendetta, and personal vindictiveness against his political foes that started with the persecution of the former Chief Justice to the ailing former President, and on to the PDAF- tainted opposition senators and other oppositionists other than the allies of President Aquino. This is where the Filipino people find themselves today. The nation is mired with PDAF scam scandal with no closure in sight; corruption is rampant; killings unabated; joblessness rising; the economy slowing down; ethics has not improved; and “trapo” politics has worsened. With his dominance over both Houses of Congress and the Judiciary, President Aquino can be a true and great reformer. When all is said and done, we believe that President Benigno Aquino, owing to his vengeful nature, took the wrong path to reforms. That is where we are today, and looking for a graceful exit. As Robert Frost once mused, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” You be the judge *** (For comments and views please email‐for‐boldness‐and‐vision/               

Information: Harnessing potentials of small  entrepreneurs  March 13, 2014 The Micro, Small, And Medium Enterprise (MSME) Development Plan (2011-2016) addresses the sector’s key challenges – business environment, access to finance, access to markets, and productivity and efficiency – to harness its full potential and boost industrial growth. MSMEs are expected to contribute 40% of gross value added and generate two million new jobs by 2016, through an enabling business environment as well as government support to strengthen the sector’s productivity and competitiveness. MSMEs account for 99.6% of the country’s registered enterprises. Of 820,255 Philippine businesses, 816,759 are MSMEs while 3,496 are large enterprises. Of these, 743,250 are microenterprises, 70,222 small firms, and 3,287 medium-sized companies. MSMEs contribute 25% of total exports revenue, and it is estimated that 60% of Filipino exporters belong to the MSME category. They also play a big role in employment and job generation, accounting for 61% of the 3.8-million local workforce. A report by Asian Development Bank said MSMEs stimulate domestic demand through job creation, innovation, and competition, making them a driving force behind a resilient national economy. The Shared Service Facilities (SSFs) Program provides common facilities, modern equipment, and access to latest technology to MSMEs all over the country to help them become competitive in the face of looming Association of Southeast Asian Nation economic integration, and to create jobs in rural communities. Rolled out by Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the program helps the sector in the production of goods and allows them to compete with other businesses. With a budget of P770 million, the DTI plans this year the establishment of 827 SSFs that will benefit 13,381 MSMEs, and in the process, generate an estimated 24,337 more jobs. The program provides MSMEs with access to enhanced technology and better-quality processing equipment housed in facilities of private sector partners. The facilities and equipment are for the common use of several MSME groups or cooperatives, to improve the quality of goods and productivity. The program helps entrepreneurs graduate to the next higher level where they could expand their market and be integrated in the global supply chain. We congratulate the Department of Trade and Industry, headed by Secretary Gregory L. Domingo, and Bureau of Micro Small and Medium Enterprise Development Council, headed by Director Rhodora M. Leano, and Members Elmoise B. Afurong representing Luzon, Jonathan J. Aldeguer representing Visayas, and Mary Ann M. Montemayor representing Mindanao, for their collective program in providing funding support that improves the capabilities and competitiveness of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises for inclusive growth of the Filipino people in our Republic of the Philippines. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY!‐harnessing‐potentials‐of‐small‐entrepreneurs/ 

Wetlands and agriculture: Partners for growth  (Part III)  by Senator Cynthia Villar March 13, 2014

At dahilngaangpakinabang o importansyang wetlands ay two-pronged — environmental at agricultural – hindinakapagtataka kung bakithindilamangangmga environmentalists angaktibosaamingpagsuportasapangangalagangmga wetlands, kasama din naming angmgamangingisda at iba pang grupokatuladngmga urban poor nanagre-rely sa agriculture for their livelihood and daily sustenance. Maraming components ng wetlands angsumusuportasaagrikultura at sa livelihood ngmgataosapaligidnito. Unanadiyanangmga mangroves o mgabakawannanagsisilbingpinakamabisangpananggalnatinsamgabagyo at storm surges. Mas matibay pa sakahitanongpinakamatibaynasemento o sea wall. Bukoddiyan, angmga mangrove naitorin ay mahalagarinsaatingmgamangingisda, dahil ditto nangingitlogangmgaisda at kung saannamamahayangmaliliitnaisda. Unfortunately, according to experts, we have lost over 75% of mangroves in the past 82 years. Angnakakabahala pa ay imbesnamagtanimngmagtanimng mangrove, kapagnagrereclaim, pinuputol pa angmgaito. Actually, bawalputulinangmga mangroves. Kami nga ay regular nanagtatanimng mangrove sa Las Piñasdahilbatid naming angimportansyangmgaito. Makikitaninyonanapakadaming mangroves doon at nakakatulongitoparahindi kami masyadobahain. Atty. Benjamin Tabios, Assistant Director for Administrative Service of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), cited a study conducted by the National Fisheries Development Institute in 2012. Angsabinya, “The hot spot for spawning is in the eastern part of Manila Bay” and “the volume of (fish) eggs laid is the highest in that area”. LPPCHEA is part of the eastern part of Manila Bay. [Source: “Save Manila Bay Program: Fisheries Resource and Ecological Study of Manila Bay” by the BFAR - Marine Fisheries Research Division, National Fisheries Research and Development Institute”] Angmga sea grasses ay importanterin. Ayonkay Dr. Giovanni Tapangng Center for Environmental Concerns ng AGHAM,: “an acre of sea grass allows 40,000 fish annually to develop and around 50 million small invertebrates (animals without backbone) to live.” Imagine kunggaanokaramingisdaangmamataykapagna-disturb ang ecosystem samga wetlands. Madi-disrupt din angating food production at supply. Ayonsamgafisherfolks groups, napakaramingyamang-tubig o marine organisms angkanilangnaha-harvest sa LPPCHEA. Ilansamgaito ay mga tilapia, tahong, hipon, alimango, alimasag, talangka, kanduli, dalagangbukid, banak, halaan, tulya, gulaman (sea weeds), salinyasi, at iba pa.

Both Atty. Tabios and Dr. Tapang expressed concern nakapagnagkaroonng reclamation sa LPPCHEA, maapektuhanangbakawan kung saanpinapanganakangmgaisdananagpo-provide ng fingerlings sa Manila Bay. Kapagtinambakanang area naiyun, mamamatayangmga mangrove; mawawalaangmgaisda; mawawalanngkabuhayanangmgamangingisda at mganagbebentangmgaisda; at masisiraangsuplayngisdasa Metro Manila at karatignamgabayansaCamanava area o sa Cavite, Malabon, Navotas, at Valenzuela patinarinsaBulacan. Ayonsamangingisdanasi Pablo Rosales, noongitinayoang Mall of Asia, about 37,000 fishermen were displaced. (To be continued)‐and‐agriculture‐partners‐for‐growth‐part‐iii/             

Demand outpacing supply of jobs, admits labor chief By Michael Lim Ubac Philippine Daily Inquirer  5:08 am | Friday, March 14th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—The administration simply cannot keep up with the growing demand for jobs.  This was the straightforward answer given by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz Thursday for why  “jobless growth” has continued to hound the three‐year‐old Aquino administration.  In a briefing in Malacañang, Baldoz admitted the demand for jobs had overtaken the job creation efforts  of the government.  She explained, however, that jobless growth was not an entirely accurate description of the failure of  the robust economy since 2010 to create jobs and a stable working environment for the labor force.  She took exception to the media’s use of “jobless growth” to describe the performance of the economy.  Baldoz cited data from the Labor Force Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority that showed the  Aquino administration had created jobs, albeit way short of what was expected of the government by  the swelling number of job seekers.  The latest Labor Force Survey was forwarded to her office on Tuesday, Baldoz said.  It listed the government’s job‐creation numbers as follows: In 2010, a 2.8‐percent increase in  employment (974,000 additional jobs); 2011, 3.2 percent (1.157 million); 2012, 1.1 percent (408,000);  2013, 0.8 percent (317,000); and the first quarter of 2014, 0.8 percent (283,000).  Baldoz said the unemployment rate was “steady” but “it continues to be a big challenge to whoever sits  in government.”  This, she explained, was “because it’s a draw—two percent enter the (labor) force (annually), two  percent (of jobs) are also created annually.”  Underemployment problem  Baldoz also acknowledged the problem of underemployment.  “We have a problem with the unemployed, but we also have a problem with the underemployed  because they are employed but are underpaid,” said Baldoz, adding:  “One out of five employed is underemployed, and (the number of) underemployed is twice that of the  unemployed. These figures fluctuate on a quarterly basis.” 

Baldoz also noted the problem of youth unemployment, which she said was marked by a “very slow  school‐to‐work transition.”  Citing a study by the Asian Development Bank, she said: “It takes one year for a college graduate to find  his first job and two years to find a regular job. For high school (graduates), three years to get his first  job and four years to find a regular job.”  She said the government was taking into consideration “factors influencing both the length and the  quality of the school‐to‐work transition” such as educational attainment.      Read more:   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook 

2 rivers, 2 lakes in Visayas, Mindanao eyed as sources of drinking water By DJ Yap Philippine Daily Inquirer  9:57 pm | Thursday, March 13th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—Two rivers and two lakes in the country’s southern parts have been classified as potential sources of drinking water by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), an official said Thursday. Lake Danao in Ormoc City, the upper reaches of Paypayan and Langaranrivers in Misamis Occidental, and Lake Lanao in Lanao del Sur, have been categorized as “Class A,” or whose waters “require complete treatment to meet national standards for drinking water.” The DENR has classified 21 new water bodies for their best use, including the four rivers and lakes in the Visayas and Mindanao regions, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said in a news release. The classifications were made through a memorandum circular issued pursuant to Republic Act No. 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004, which mandates the DENR to categorize water bodies – whether for coastal – according to their quality, area, purpose and vulnerability to pollution. Some 691 water bodies have been classified by the DENR. Fresh surface waters, which include lakes, rivers and reservoirs, are classified as “AA,” “A,” “B,” “C,” and “D.” Coastal and marine waters, on the other hand, are classified as “SA,” “SB,” “SC,” and “SD.” The classification has been meant to help water managers and planners to develop proper water quality management programs and provide the standards to protect aquatic life and human use of specific water bodies, Paje said. “With these classifications, we are able to determine the programs and activities to implement so that we can optimize the use of our water resources and make them beneficial to our welfare and health,” he said. Under the DENR circular, the waters of Bancal River in Zambales and the upper reaches of Carigara River in Leyte were classified as “Class B,” or “safe for primary contact recreation or tourism purposes such as bathing, swimming and skin diving.” The Linao River in Cagayan; Lamunan/Hinay-an River System in Iloilo; Anilao River, Pagbanganan River and lower reach of Carigara River, all

in Leyte; and the lower reaches of Paypayan and Langaran Rivers; Kematu and Sefali Rivers in South Cotabato; and upper reach of Guiahao-an River in Agusan del Norte were categorized as “Class C” or safe for propagation of fish, recreation and post-treatment manufacturing processes. The lower reach of Guiahao-an River was classified as “D,” or “may be sourced for agriculture and irrigation, or for limited use as industrial water supply.” The DENR also identified water bodies in the Visayas under “Class SA” or those suitable for commercial propagation and harvesting of shellfishes, and cover national marine reserves and coral reef parks. These include the coastal waters of Barangays 3, Dalipe and Madraca in San Jose, Iloilo; and waters three kilometers beyond the Toledo-Balamban shoreline in Toledo City, Cebu. Coastal waters that fall under “Class SB” or allowed for recreational activities like bathing, swimming and skin diving include those surrounding Maniwaya Island in Marinduque; Barangays 4, San Pedro, Mojon, Magcalon, San Fernando, Malaiba, Maybato Norte and Maybato Sur in San Jose, Iloilo; Albay Gulf in Albay and Sorsogon; and waters within three kilometers of the Toledo-Balamban shoreline in Cebu.

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70 firms, including Globe, 45 customs brokers suspended due to violations By Jerry Esplanada Philippine Daily Inquirer  1:44 pm | Thursday, March 13th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines — Nine out of every 10 shipments of imported goods that pass through the country’s port are either misdeclared or undervalued, resulting in billions of pesos in lost government revenue, according to the Bureau of Customs (BOC). In a report on its website, the Department of Finance-attached agency took this as its “90 percent success rate in finding problems.” Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla claimed the bureau’s five month-old reform project was “starting to work,” citing what he referred to as “encouraging initial results.” He said they were encouraged by, among others, the bureau’s issuance of an undisclosed number of alert orders on shipments that were either misdeclared or undervalued. “Ninety percent of these shipments had adverse or derogatory findings,” the former DOF undersecretary for privatization pointed out. Sevilla said the bureau was “committed to closing all the gaps in the system to make it harder for our people to do the bad things and easier for them to do the good things.” The BOC now has “zero tolerance for wrongdoings,” according to Sevilla, who also appealed to Customs stakeholders to “do their part in helping reform the Bureau of Customs by strictly complying with the law.” He issued the warning after the agency suspended the accreditation of 70 trading firms and 45 customs brokers for alleged violation of importation policies and procedures. In a statement, Sevilla explained “the importers and brokers we suspended habitually failed to provide detailed information about the goods they imported…That is tantamount to technical smuggling … We will no longer allow blatant violation of the law here at the Bureau of Customs.” The BOC identified the suspended companies as Globe Telecom, Inc., Golden Seasons Corp., Foot Specialist Intertrade, Inc., Sunrise Bountiful Trading Corp., Apo Motor Sales, Cebu Sendai, Powertrade Industrial Sales, King’s Safety Net., Baxter Health Care Phils., Eleksis Marketing Corp., Golden Bat Far East, GWSI Fruits Commercial, Hamamoto Motor Trade Co., Orion Import Trading, Century Limitless Corp., Copperfield Marketing, Neuron Industries, Oceanway Import Trading, Philfoam Furnishing Industries, Terumo Marketing Phils., Titan Movers

Enterprises, Top Exim Marketing, Springway Enterprises, South Pacific International Marble Development, and Universal Steel Smelting Co., among others. Some of these firms, including Globe Telecom, have filed their respective motions for reconsideration to lift the suspension order issued by the bureau. The Globe Telecom legal office clarified that the issue was a misinterpretation of the BOC administrative order that required brokers to describe imports in detail. “The issue emanates from the limited number of characters (only 26) provided in the online form that is supposed to describe the imported goods. This is why we always submit supporting documents as separate attachments because it is impossible to put all item descriptions in the online form,” said lawyer FroilanCastelo, the firm’s legal counsel. Last year, 26 importers and a broker were covered by similar BOC suspension orders. In February, the bureau implemented new rules on the accreditation of traders and brokers, including securing a clearance from the Bureau of Internal Revenue. The new directives are “part of a holistic DOF drive to thwart smugglers,” said the Bureau of Customs.

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Hot money outflows recorded for third consecutive month By Paolo G. Montecillo Philippine Daily Inquirer 7:50 pm | Thursday, March 13th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines — Net outflows in foreign portfolio investments were recorded for the third consecutive month in February as global fund managers continued to dump assets from emerging markets like the Philippines. This came as the US Federal Reserve started reducing its monetary stimulus for the US economy, prompting investors to reassess their portfolios. The BangkoSentralngPilipinas (BSP) on Thursday reported that net outflows of foreign portfolio investments or “hot money” reached $361 million in February, following outflows of $1.84 billion in January and $354.33 billion in December 2013. Hot money investments refer to placements in local stocks, government securities, and pesodenominated bank deposit certificates. A net outflow in hot money means more investors took out money from the Philippines than they put in during the month.

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PH stocks continue to dip Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:16 am | Friday, March 14th, 2014

Philippine stocks declined for a second-straight day Thursday as investors “took a pause” and pocketed profits following recent gains. The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index dipped 0.51 percent, or 32.68 points, to 6,429.79 yesterday while the broader all-shares index declined 0.15 percent, or 5.67 points, to 3,878.82. All sub-indices closed in the red save for the property sector, which gained 1.26. Decliners were led by services (0.8 percent) and holding firms (0.6 percent). “The market is susceptible to profit-taking. We think it will continue to consolidate in the next few days,” Astrodel Castillo, managing director at First Grade Finance Inc., said in an interview yesterday. He noted, however, that the outlook remained positive and that corporate earnings would still rise. “The market is just taking a breather,” he added. A total of 1.8 billion shares valued at P6.53 billion changed hands. There were 79 decliners against 69 advancers while 51 stock prices were unchanged. Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., the most actively traded stock yesterday, declined 2.23 percent to P2,720 per share. Yesterday was the ex-date for the company’s regular and special cash dividend. Other actively traded stocks were International Container Terminal Services Inc., which closed flat at P100, Universal Robina Corp. (-0.78 percent to P140.30), Bank of the Philippine Islands (0.87 percent to P91), and Ayala Land Inc. (+0.7 percent to P28.70). Miguel R. Camus

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Gov’t borrowings down 42% in ’13 By Michelle V. Remo Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:12 am | Friday, March 14th, 2014

The government borrowed significantly less in 2013 than in the previous year, as the increase in tax collection helped trim its budget gap. Data from the Department of Finance showed that the government borrowed P554.7 billion last year, down by 42 percent from the 2012 level. Borrowing proceeds were used to fund projects/programs whose costs were in excess of the government’s revenue collection, pay maturing liabilities and beef up liquidity. Of the total borrowings, P520.93 billion was obtained from domestic sources, while P33.77 billion came from foreign creditors. The government has adopted the policy of depending more on domestic sources than on foreign creditors to avoid substantial exposure to foreign-exchange risks. Domestic borrowings are funds raised through the sale of treasury bills and bonds in the domestic capital market. Foreign borrowings are composed of proceeds of bonds sold offshore and of loans obtained from development lenders. The Philippines’ biggest sources of official development assistance, or cheap loans meant to fund development initiatives, are the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Domestic borrowings fell by 35 percent year-on-year, while foreign borrowings dropped by 78 percent. The substantial drop in the domestic and foreign borrowings came with the decline in the state’s budget deficit. The DOF earlier announced that the government incurred a budget deficit of P164.1 billion, down year-on-year by 32 percent. Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, in an earlier statement, credited the government’s rising tax collection for the drop in the deficit. Higher tax collection came about as the Bureau of Internal Revenue strengthened its anti-tax evasion campaign, Purisima said. Part of the BIR’s campaign is the regular filing of cases against suspected tax cheats and release of advertisements against tax evasion. The finance chief also cited modest improvement in the revenue collection of the Bureau of Customs, which is undergoing reforms.

The significant decline in the borrowings was also attributed to the decline in maturing obligations. Of the total borrowings, P235.58 was used to pay liabilities. This amount marked a 44-percent decline from what the government spent for debt payment in the same period last year. Maturing liabilities dropped partly because of the decline in interest rates to record lows last year. The historic-low rates allowed the government to spend less for treasury bill yields.

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DA says no complaint means no WTO violation in letter to DOJ By Delfin T. Mallari Jr. Inquirer Southern Luzon  12:03 am | Friday, March 14th, 2014

LUCENA CITY—The militant KilusangMagbubukidngPilipinas (KMP) assailed the heads of the agriculture and justice departments for their alleged antifarmer positions on rice importation. In a letter to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima last Jan. 14, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the quantitative restrictions (QR), or volume limit, on rice importation continues to be in place and he believed that its continued enforcement would not violate international trade laws under the World Trade Organization (WTO) unless another country files a complaint against the Philippines. “While we may be technically in breach of this [WTO] commitment, the actionable and formal declaration of such by the WTO can only be made if there has been a case filed,” Alcala said in his letter. Alcala’s letter to De Lima is in reply to the justice secretary’s Dec. 16, 2013 letter to the Department of Agriculture saying she believed that while the Philippines is negotiating an extension of the QR, requiring permits for imported rice could be a violation of the WTO since the QR has lapsed. KMP chair Rafael Mariano said the opposing positions of Alcala and De Lima on rice importation mean only that the Aquino administration “will continue the rice liberalization policy that is killing the rice industry and rice farmers.” While the two Cabinet members have contradicting opinions, Mariano said, “widespread smuggling, overpriced rice importation and high rice prices” continue to make life hard for the people. The KMP leader said Alcala’s “quantitative liberalization” aims to maintain the QR privilege, which would allow the government the annual importation of a minimum of 350,000 metric tons. “Since it is only minimum, the government importation has already exceeded 350,000 metric tons,” according to Mariano. He said De Lima’s position of no more QR was “much worse” than Alcala’s position since it would mean that more imported rice would be flooding the local market. The WTO, in 2005, granted the Philippines a 10-year “special treatment” to restrict the importation of sensitive agricultural products like rice, which was extended until June 30, 2012.

Negotiations for the extension of the QR will resume in April this year, with additional rounds in June and October. Mariano said the country should just pull out of the WTO and the government should instead support local rice farmers and producers.

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Moody’s: Sudden stop of inflows won’t hurt PH By Paolo G. Montecillo Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:11 am | Friday, March 14th, 2014

The Philippines is strong enough to withstand even a “sudden stop” in foreign portfolio investments that may result from the US Federal Reserve’s decision to reduce the monetary stimulus for the world’s largest economy. Moody’s Investor Service said in a report this week that the economic activity of most Asian countries could slow down as the US Fed’s “taper” decision would lead to higher interest rates which, in turn, could make funding more expensive for companies and households. But the credit rating firm said the Philippines would stand out, with demand expected to stay strong, supported by healthy dollar revenues from sources other than investments, the country’s strong banking system, and low levels of debt. “The Philippines is reasonably well placed to weather any potential sudden stop in cross-border capital flows caused by the Fed tapering given its current account surplus and manageable levels of external debt,” Moody’s senior research analyst Rahul Ghosh said in an email to the Inquirer. “Moreover, the country’s relatively low leverage ratios across all sectors will be credit supportive in the event of further taper-induced market turbulence.” In its report, the debt watcher identified several countries in the Asia Pacific that were vulnerable to the effects of the Fed tapering. Earlier this year, the US Federal Reserve started slowing down its monthly asset purchases, which had been in place since late 2009. It cited the American economy’s recovery as the reason behind its decision. From an original rate of $85 billion a month, the US Fed reduced its bond-buying program to $65 billion last month. Across the region, Moody’s said India and Indonesia likely would continue to rely on portfolio investment inflows to fund their current account deficits, making them more vulnerable to capital flight. Chinese companies, mainly in the property sector, would also depend on offshore funds entering emerging markets, which was previously fueled by the Fed’s asset purchases. As such, Moody’s said, these companies will be exposed to tightening domestic credit conditions. Rapid growth in household credit in Southeast Asian economies, most notably Thailand and Malaysia, will also weigh on the banking sector’s performance in an environment of rising rates and weaker asset prices, particularly in the property sector.

But according to Moody’s, the Philippines has enough structural buffers to protect it from the risks now threatening its neighbors. “The Philippines’ household debt-to-GDP ratio is among the lowest across Asia,” Moody’s said.

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PH said to be ‘punching below its weight’ Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:08 am | Friday, March 14th, 2014

The Philippines needs to address infrastructure bottlenecks to prevent annual growth from sliding back to the 5-6 percent growth range, an economist at British banking giant HSBC said. Frederic Neumann, HSBC economist based in Hong Kong, said the Philippines’ debt metrics were more favorable than those of its neighbors, which would bode well for the country if the US Federal Reserve were to start raising interest rates. Many believe that the US Fed will raise key rate in 2015. “But that doesn’t mean we should rest on our laurels,” Neumann said, noting that infrastructure was often cited as the biggest constraint to the country’s growth. Citing an HSBC research paper analyzing the quality of Asian infrastructure, he said the Philippines was at the bottom behind Vietnam and India. But he pointed to an interesting bit of information provided in the study. He said the Philippines did not rank last in terms of per capita income. “That means poorer countries are starting to have better infrastructure than the Philippines,” Neumann said during a recent briefing. While the task is daunting, he said, raising infrastructure spending is urgent. The public-private partnership (PPP) program alone cannot fill the vast requirements, he added. “There’s such an overwhelming need in the Philippines, we can’t just rely on the PPP alone. Some stuff can be done by the government on its own, others have to be done by the private sector,” Neumann said. The infrastructure spending of about 5-percent of gross domestic product (GDP) that the government had committed to would be the minimum required to ease infrastructure bottlenecks. If the ratio could be raised to 8 percent, he said, this would be better for the country. While the business process outsourcing (BPO) segment is a success story in the Philippines, Neumann said he would not give up on the prospects of manufacturing making a bigger contribution to the Philippine economy. The Philippines grew by an average of 4.8 percent during the nine-year Macapagal-Arroyo administration and the 2.3 percent growth rate during the short-lived Estrada administration.

Growth under the Ramos regime stood at 3.1 percent while that during the term of Corazon Aquino, the late mother of President Aquino, was at 3.4 percent. Under the present administration, growth averaged above 6 percent, hitting 7.2 percent in 2013 alone despite the adverse impact of Supertyphoon “Yolanda.” But what is widely seen to be crucial is the need to sustain higher growth trend in the years ahead. “We have to move in the right direction. But to catch up with neighbors, we need to double the effort,” Neumann said. While the Philippines could grow at slightly below 7 percent this year, which he described to be still “fairly robust,” growth could ease to 6 percent or below in the coming years if the government were to fail in addressing the country’s infrastructure needs. He said the country would need more roads, airports and power generation capacity to support a higher growth trajectory. He also said infrastructure spending would also be key to unlocking gains from tourism, which the Philippines could harness as another growth driver. “The Philippines punches below its weight,” he said. Doris C. Dumlao

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Exchange posted 35% profit growth in 2013 Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:10 am | Friday, March 14th, 2014

The Philippine Stock Exchange grew its net profit last year by 35.1 percent to P844.8 million as the robust equities market boosted listing and trading-related income. “The significant growth in our revenue and income highlights the resilience of the company amid the market volatility arising from uncertainties in the US economy,” PSE president Hans Sicat said. The PSE’s revenue jumped by 33.8 percent to P1.53 billion as all income components showed notable growth. Listing-related income grew by 28.5 percent to P160.07 million as 10 firms sold shares through the bourse. Eight companies conducted their initial public offerings in 2013, namely, Philippine Business Bank and Asia United Bank, AG Finance Inc., Harbor Star Shipping Services Inc., Travellers International Hotel Group Inc., Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc., Discovery World Corp. and Concepcion Industrial Corp., while two companies—Del Monte Pacific Ltd. and First Metro Exchange Traded Fund—listed by way of introduction. Del Monte Pacific is also listed on the Singapore stock exchange. Trading-related income surged by 59.4 percent to P118.09 million on the back of robust trading volumes. Service fees from Securities Clearing Corp. of the Philippines (SCCP), PSE’s subsidiary, rose by 43.7 percent to P454.68 million. The market’s total value turnover grew by 43.7 percent to P2.55 trillion while daily average turnover shot up by 44.9 percent in 2013. On the expenditure side, the PSE efficiently controlled growth in its expenses to 6 percent amounting to P528 million. This year, the PSE expects capital raising activities to surpass the P175 billion that was raised in 2013. Doris C. Dumlao

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Palace: Mindanao’s power woes to persist  through March‐May  by Philippine News Agency March 14, 2014

Manila, Philippines — The tight power supply situation in Mindanao is expected to persist through the months of March, April, and May, Malacañang said yesterday, stressing that measures are continuing to address the problem. Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a Palace media briefing that the Department of Energy (DOE) and other concerned agencies have been ordered to pursue all-out efforts to solve the tightness in the power supply situation in the Mindanao grid. Coloma said President Benigno S. Aquino III, in a meeting last Monday, also directed the DOE to coordinate with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in monitoring the inquiry into the causes of the unexpected breakdown in Mindanao power plants.

While the government is building three new coal-fired plants which are expected to increase the power supply in Mindanao by 2016, the DOE is implementing other measures to remedy the power supply problem. “First is the interruptible load program that is expected to generate around 93.71 megawatts,” Coloma said. He explained that the interruptible load program is where distribution utilities may tap into their generator sets, instead of availing themselves of the system power supply. “The second is the Interim Mindanao Electricity Market (IMEM), which is similar to the WESM (Wholesale Electricity Spot Market), and it is a transparency device by which the available supply in a particular grid is made open and public, so that those that would need additional supply may buy directly from offerers of power in that market, and this is expected to generate 124 megawatts,” the PCOO chief said. “And (third is) the Mindanao modular generator set program that is expected to generate 48 megawatts,” Coloma added. “Through the additional capacity of 265 megawatts that will be generated from these three measures, the DOE hopes to be able to bridge the gap between demand and supply, and thus lessen the frequency and duration of the rotating brownouts,” he further said.

Pork barrel system not necessarily evil — PNoy  by GenalynKabiling March 13, 2014 (updated)

Manila, Philippines — The pork barrel system is not necessarily evil but the Filipinos must do their part and elect leaders who would not abuse public funds, according to President Aquino. The President reminded the public about the “quality of politicians we elect” to ensure funds are not misused and actually go to intended projects. He recognized that the problem does not start with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) but with the way the politicians use it. “PDAF does not necessarily become evil,” the President said during a leadership forum at the Ateneo Professional Schools in Makati City last Wednesday night. “Like any tool, a car can be useful to transport you from here to there. If you’re a mad man you run over people it can be bad,” he said when asked how the public can be assured the line agencies who got the PDAF would adequately respond to the needs of the people. Aquino emphasized that the “best check” against fund misuse is public vigilance. “So again it starts with the quality of the politicians we elect into office,” Aquino said. “So pagginawamali and we keep re-electing them into office, hindinamannatinpwedengsabihinyungpolitikolangyungmali [If they did something wrong and we keep re-electing them into office, it’s no longer the politician’s fault],” he added. “I really think that the best check will be how the people treat the whole issue. Okay, baliktayo, walakangpakialam eh di yung di ba [If you don’t care, there’s a saying] when the cat is away, the mice will play,” the President said. The President earlier endorsed the abolition of the PDAF following allegations some lawmakers earned kickbacks in the fund scam. The government has already introduced a number of budgetary reforms to prevent fund abuse, including channeling the funds directly to the line agencies that will implement projects. He said public vigilance does not stop even after competent and honest leaders are elected. He encouraged the public to monitor project implementation and fund disbursements in government websites. “We actually have websites that encourage our citizenry to report — they are the eyes and ears on all of these government projects as another check and balance,” he said. In the same event, the President conceded that he may not be a perfect leader but he is not corrupt.

Aquino said he has never been accused of corruption since he assumed the presidency in 2010. He also took exception to allegations that corruption is still rampant in government, citing the filing of charges against some individuals linked to the pork barrel scam. On running the country, the President said he is “not perfect all the time� and would still require help from others in solving some of the nation’s problems. Aquino said he learned from school to practice humility and admit one does not possess all the knowledge.

President attending assembly of mayors  by Czarina Ong March 13, 2014 (updated)

Manila,Philippines — President Benigno Aquino III will grace the 2014 General Assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines on March 18 at the historic Manila Hotel as guest of honor and speaker. Around 1,200 of the 1,491 municipal mayors have already confirmed their attendance to the three-day event, which will carry the theme “Strengthening LMP’s Role in the All Inclusive Growth of the Nation.” Mayor Leonardo “Sandy” Javier Jr. of Javier, Leyte, LMP national president, said that the confirmation of the record number of mayors is a “clear manifestation of our desire as local chief executives to learn, to share, and to work towards our shared vision for an inclusive growth for the country” under the Aquino administration. He urged fellow municipal mayors to take advantage of the event and learn from each other in alleviating poverty and achieving growth, since the assembly is only held once a year. “We are an organization of leaders, front-liners, and first responders. If you are a mayor, the leader of your municipality regardless of color, creed, religion or affiliation, you are one of us. We are the new breed. You are one of us in effecting all-inclusive growth,” he said. Other top national officials who will join the assembly and interact with the mayors include the heads of the Departments of the Interior and Local Government, Budget, Public Works, Social Services, Education, Health, Environment, Agrarian Reform, Agriculture and Energy. DILG Secretary Mar Roxas is expected to talk about good local governance, transparency and accountability in government administration, anti-poverty and peace and order measures, and the government’s thrusts to attain the Millennium Development Goals, among many others. Meanwhile, the LMP will also conduct a series of capability-building programs during the assembly such as disaster preparedness and resiliency, in the wake of recent natural calamities. It will tackle the concerns of municipalities heavily affected by natural calamities last year. The LMP immediately went to aid affected municipalities after the earthquake in Bohol last year, and will readily give support to neighboring municipalities in need.

Aquino thanks ADB for $1‐B loan  by GenalynKabiling March 13, 2014

President Aquino thanked the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for providing the Philippines with nearly $1 billion in loans and grants to help in the rehabilitation of Yolanda-hit communities. The President said the Filipino people would “not forget the kindness” shown by ADB in the aftermath of Yolanda and previous calamities. “In the aftermath of the storm, the ADB reached out to our government and to the Filipino people—in a sense, clearing paths through the rubble, and showing us where we could pick ourselves up and continue to journey towards inclusive growth. I am told that the assistance you are giving us, in the form of loans and grants, is expected to exceed one billion dollars,” the President said during a visit at the ADB office in Mandaluyong City last Wednesday night. “On top of that, you set up an office in Tacloban City to coordinate the use of funds, and to give guidance to our various local governments. Indeed, with this kind of help from your organization—and from the rest of our friends in the international community—affected communities will be back on their own feet in the soonest possible time,” he added. The President also expressed gratitude to ADB for the grants given to the country following the mudslide in Southern Leyte in 2006 as well as recovery aid after the onslaught of Typhoon Ondoy in 2009. “All these, I believe, are acts of a true partner, one that exhibits concern for the welfare of the Filipino people. This gives us great confidence that we can count on your support as we continue to build back better,” he said. Apart from the partnership in the rebuilding efforts in Yolanda-ravaged region, the President acknowledged that the ADB has become one of the country’s most valuable partners on the path to progress and development. From 1966 to 2012, Aquino said ADB loaned the Philippines more than $13 billion for various infrastructure projects. At present, the foreign lending institution is the Philippines’ sixth largest source of Overseas Development Assistance with overall net commitment reaching more than $833 million. With the help of ADB, the President also said the administration has implemented the conditional cash transfer program that benefits 4.3 million households in 2014. Of the total beneficiaries, more than 600,000 were financed through ADB loans. “These families are now receiving cash grants, on the condition that children are sent to school, pregnant mothers receive regular check-ups, and infants and children are given the necessary vaccinations,” Aquino said.

“This redounds not merely to increased resources for those in the margins; in the long-term, it will give rise to a population that is healthier and more educated, and thus more empowered to build better lives for themselves and their families,” he added. The government has been able to complete the Philippine Energy Efficiency Project with the assistance of ADB, according to the President. He said the ADB provided more than $30 million loan to the Philippines for the energy project involving the distribution of 8.6 million compact fluorescent lamps to more than 3.5 million Filipino households. “This gave our countrymen a literal light in the darkness, while at the same time reducing our annual electricity demand by, I’m told, 321 gigawatt hours. Not to mention, it has also shrunk our country’s carbon footprint,” he said. In the same event, the President took pride of the “vast progress” the country has made under his watch such as strong economic growth and credit rating upgrades. Despite the string of disasters that hit the country last year, Aquino said the local economy posted a growth rate of 7.2 percent, “making us one of the best performing economies in Asia.” In light of these achievements, Aquino cited the growing optimism among the Filipinos as well as the palpable change of attitude. Aquino acknowledged that there is much more work to be done despite the positive changes happening in the country.


P82‐M allotted for Caraga Region projects  by Mike Crismundo March 13, 2014

Butuan City – The Region-13 office of Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG13) announced on Wednesday the release of at least P82-million for the implementation of various projects in the Caraga Region. A total of 34 projects had been lined up for the 60 local government units (LGUs) in the region. The funding includes the P42-million for Local Economic Development, 15 projects amounting to P27-million for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management–Climate Change Adaptation, eight projects amounting to P10-million for Ecological Solid Waste Management, and two projects worth P2-million for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The DILG-13’s distribution of the Performance Challenge Fund (PCF) was done during the recent series of provincial validation activities of the Local Poverty Reduction Action Plan (LPRAP) in the various areas of the region. DILG-13 Director Lilibeth A. Famacion said the funding was for the PCF projects that were proposed in 2013, but for implementation this year. The PCF is an incentive mechanism for the LGUs with excellent performance in local governance. The 60 LGUs in the region include the second to sixth class provinces, municipalities, and cities, which garnered the silver grade during the 2012 Seal of Good Housekeeping (SGH) assessment.

Westtern Vi Visayas urged d to geaar up ffor ASEAN  integ gration n  by Tara Yap Y March 13, 2014

Iloilo City y, Iloilo – Diffferent sectors in the We estern Visaya as region ha ave to prepare to meet th he economic c standards set by the Association A of o Southeastt Asian Natio ons (ASEAN N), particularrly when the e Asean Free e Trade Agreement is im mplemented signaling th he start of the e region’s integratio on in 2015. National Economic and a Development Authorrity (NEDA) director-gen neral, Secrettary ArsenioB Balisacan als so said the region must assess a its ca apacity to fa ace the challenges posed by developm ments in the ASEAN eco onomic comm munity by 20 015.

TACKLING ASEAN N INTEGRAT TION – Natio onal Econom mic and Devvelopment Au uthority (NEDA) directo or-general, Secretary S ArrsenioBalisa acan (left) ma akes a pointt during disccussions in th he Western n Visayas Fo orum on regional integra ation once th he ASEAN F Free Trade A Agreement ta akes effect in 2015. The e forum, held in Iloilo Citty last March h 11, was allso attended d by Dr. Gilbe ert Llanto o, president of the Philip ppine Institutte for Develo opment Stud dies (center)) and NEDA--6 region nal director Ro-Ann R Baca al. (Tara Yap p). During th he Western Visayas V regiional forum last l March 1 1 in Iloilo Ciity, Balisaca an, likewise, urged the e strengthen ning of the to ourism indus stry in Weste ern Visayas.

The region is home to world-renowned holiday beach destination Boracay Island as well as other potentially similar destinations in Panay, Guimaras and Negros Islands. “Tourism is Western Visayas’ biggest potential,” said Balisacan citing how tourism has a substantial multiplying effect to the regional economy as it involves food, transportation and services. For Western Visayas to be more competitive, Balisacan said there must be continuous upgrade of such strategic infrastructure as airports, seaports and road networks for easy access in the flow of people and materials. Another key concern is the formal training of people in the services sector including hotel and restaurant workers. Dr. Gilberto Llanto, president of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), also urged the strengthening of the English proficiency of students and young professionals which, he said, is integral to the competitiveness of the region in attracting more investors for business process outsourcing (BPO) companies, especially those catering to the US and Canada markets. Ro-Ann Bacal, regional director of the Region VI office of NEDA (NEDA-6) said that participants of the regional forum came from both government and business sector of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental provinces.


P1‐B Mangrove rehab project to benefit E.  Visayas  by Restituto A. Cayubit March 13, 2014

Tacloban City, Leyte – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is undertaking a massive mangrove rehabilitation project estimated at a cost of P1 billion that will benefit Eastern Visayas and other super-typhoon Yolanda hit areas in the country. Leonardo Sibbaluca, regional director of the DENR in Eastern Visayas (DENR-8) told reporters in an interview at his office here that mangrove and beach forest areas in Eastern Visayas which were devastated by typhoon Yolanda is set for rehabilitation using more scientific techniques in mangrove and beach forest development to enhance the region’s defense against calamities. Sibbaluca said, “The rehabilitation of the mangrove areas in Eastern Visayas is part of the P1billion mangrove rehabilitation project of the department aimed at restoring mangrove stands in the country.” He informed reporters that Secretary Ramon Paje of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources recently announced that the government has allotted $22 million, or P1billion, for the massive reforestation of mangrove and beach forests across the country. “Although the funds are intended for disaster risk areas nationwide, Eastern Visayas is assured to get a sizable chunk from the allocation considering the extent of damage on the mangrove and beach forest areas wrought by super-typhoon Yolanda in the region last November,” he said. “Secretary Paje told me to submit a viable work and financial plan for the rehabilitation of the region’s mangrove and beach forest areas together with other affected areas in regions VI, VII and 1V-B.” He also informed reporters that all DENR-8 field offices in Eastern Visayas have already embarked on the four major components of the project namely, site assessment and selection, community and partnership engagement, nursery establishment, and planting activities. The fund for mangrove and beach forest development in disaster risk areas is on top of the P6.2 billion allotted for the implementation of the National Greening Program nationwide this year, which also includes the rehabilitation of denuded mangrove and beach forests.


Danger on the trail ahead By Denis Murphy Philippine Daily Inquirer  12:20 am | Friday, March 14th, 2014

I see a great danger looming for the victims of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” as they trudge toward recovery. I fear that the plan of the government and the United Nations to end all food relief in April is premature, and can cause many families to fall back into hunger rather than spur them forward to economic self-reliance. Six months after a disaster, the United Nations and other relief bodies regularly end the distribution of food, believing that by that time the beneficiaries will have enough cash income to buy the food they need. After six months a dole economy gives way to a cash economy. Donors believe longer food relief will encourage dependency. But the result of our own sampling of the families in Barangays 89 and 90 of Tacloban City shows that many would not yet have found sufficient income to purchase their food when the cutoff comes in April. We should note that cash-for-work programs will also stop in April, along with the restoration and repair of agriculture and aquatic resources. We selected 30 families at random in Barangays 89 and 90 and asked them if right now they can pay cash for the food they eat, or if they depend to some degree on the food relief. All but five said they cannot yet pay for all the food they eat or need to eat. I don’t see a realistic hope that they can do so by April, especially if the UN program and other cash-for-work programs are suspended. The families all seek economic opportunities. To be honest, I have talked about this matter with high UN officials, international donors, members of local nongovernment organizations, personal friends, and my wife, Alicia. Only my wife agrees with me because she has met the same people I have met. She doesn’t always agree with me so readily, as our friends know. To most of the other people I spoke with, I must have sounded like the hen in the children’s story “Henny Penny,” who went around frantically warning everyone that the sky was falling because an acorn had fallen on her head. We shouldn’t be surprised that the typhoon survivors do not have enough income to take over the cost of food. Most of them lost the very means of work. Fishers lost their boats, motors and nets. Rice farmers lost their fields to salt-water inflows. Coconut farmers lost their trees. Only a small fraction of fishers have new equipment. The fields, I am told, need at least an entire rainy season to recover, and new coconut trees need six years before they can bear fruit. Countless other wage earners had worked hand in hand with the fishers and farmers, such as fish marketers and coconut oil workers. Now they are also out of work. In Tacloban the people of Barangays 88, 89 and 90, where well over 1,000 people died, have taken advantage of every economic opportunity offered even while receiving food aid. For example, they worked with the Holy Spirit sisters to make the fishing boats they will use. They

scavenge, vend food products in the city, and search for casual employment. They put up sarisari stores with the financing they got from the Tzu Chi Foundation. The need is not for a closure, but for an expansion, of cash-for-work programs. There is a need for large public works programs that, for example, can build sea walls to mitigate future storm surges, build artificial reefs to allow for the replenishment of the fish stock, remove debris, and make public improvements in communities. We should also remember that Samar and Leyte have always been among the country’s poorest provinces. There was never much economic fat on most people in these provinces, and Yolanda took that little away. They have a long road in front of them before they reach some level of economic sufficiency. Some donors are afraid that too long a period of food relief will encourage people to be dependent. I am reminded of the words of sociologist Gelia Castillo of the University of the Philippines Los Baños: “If poor people really depended on the Philippine government for the necessities of life, they would be dead by now.” Ordinary men and women don’t like to beg or line up for food. Whether they have food relief or not, poor people will strive to find work. With work comes self-respect, which all people seek. Food relief may make some families overly dependent, but they are not many. Isn’t it an awful indictment of a nation’s people to say food relief can dull their sense of dignity as human beings? We ask the government and the United Nations to monitor the actual situation of the poor closely to judge if they have sufficient income and will not be hurt if the food relief is shut down a month from now. It would be a great cruelty to allow our poor people to fall back into food poverty just because we have followed a general norm without an intense inspection of the actual situation on the ground. Please take another close look. Since the days of ancient Greece and the Hippocratic Oath, doctors have been told that their first duty is “not to do harm.” I suggest we make that our first rule in this matter of the food relief cutoff. Denis Murphy works with the Urban Poor Associates (

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NHMFC maintains top credit ratings  by James Loyola March 13, 2014

Philippine Rating Services Corporation (PhilRatings) has maintained its high ratings for National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation’s (NHMFC) Bahay Bonds Securitization Issue (BB1). NHMFC got PRS Aa and PRS Baa for its P1.065 billion Class A Senior Notes and P310.898 million Class B Subordinated Notes (as of collection period ended May 31, 2013), respectively. Obligations rated ‘PRS Aa’ are of high quality and are subject to very low credit risk. The obligor’s capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation is very strong. On the other hand, obligations rated ‘PRS Baa’, on the other hand, exhibit adequate protection parameters. Adverse economic conditions and changing circumstances, however, are more likely to lead to a weakened capacity of the obligor to meet its financial commitment on the obligation. PRS Baa-rated issues may possess certain speculative characteristics. The Class B Subordinated Notes provide a degree of protection for the Class A Notes as the Class B Notes will absorb initial losses that may be brought about by mortgage accounts which are included in the asset pool and which may go into default given prevailing circumstances.

Failed state index?  by Ernie Gonzales, Ph. D. March 13, 2014

The Global Fund for Peace had published that Philippines is a “failed state” equivalent to 80.28%, Haiti is 105% and Sudan 111%. Accordingly, the making of a failed state is basically a failure in the dispensation of justice by the judicial system, coupled by dysfunction in the economic, political, ecological and social functions of any given society. In a democracy, the basic institution of the last resort in the restoration of law and order is the Judiciary, when both the Executive and Legislature have failed. But the failure of state becomes even worse when this basic function of the judicial system is abused through graft and corruption as well as usurpations by those powerful persons and families in society. On January 11, 2013 at the Malcolm Theatre, UP College of Law, retired Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno launched his book entitled “Equal Dignity and Respect: The Substance of Equal Protection and Social Justice.” He claimed that the ultimate cause of national poverty in the country is “lack of equal protection from law.” The case of Damaso S. Flores magnifies this current situation. In September 19, 1986, the Court of Appeals reconsidered its decision dated July 16, 1986 and ordered the return of the possession of the stadium to Mr. Flores including all of its earnings. This situation was distorted as the Writ of Execution was issued penalizing Mr. Flores instead. The Sheriff, on December 12, 1990, instead levied on the (801 Sqm) lot owned by Mr. Flores valued then at P32 million. He lost winning his case, and deprived of his right to be protected by the State. He sought the review of this Distortion ever since 1996 to the present. The latest is his appeal to Hon. Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno, Chief Justice, dated January 9, 2014, after the agony of losing his property, dignity and right to life. He is now 86 years old. This is a classic case of justice delayed for 37 years and this is clearly tantamount to “justice denied.” How many Damaso S. Flores in the Philippines, who were then rich and now impoverished due to graft and corruption of our court system. The bigger picture of social injustices is characterized by the “contractualization of labor” which deprived Filipino workers of his security of tenure coupled by a situation of minimum wages. On the other hand, living wage policy is more humanized and civilized. This assures the worker with a level of income that will make more decent life. This sharing of the wealth accumulated by society is the primary goal of economic regulations and governance. Moreover, the skilled Filipino workers or professionals are taxed double. Their income is taxed by 30% and their household consumption by 12%. However, the rich sector enjoys taxation holidays when they export their products as well as when they invests their savings. In this country, the income of the rich was never reviewed by Philippine Congress. The Congress of this country has difficulties of enacting laws inimical to their self interest. The Party List of the marginalized sector can raise his voice yet the power to enact laws still belongs to the rich.

Yes, Philippines is a State because we have people, land and territory. But, the basic function of the state is to protect all the citizens; their right to live, own property and enjoy the dignity of human freedom. Based from the above premises, do Filipinos today enjoy this basic protection from our Government? Do government work for their people or only for their families and self interest? Why do they cheat during elections, spending no less than the stolen money from the people? Why do they cheat government in their current practices of gross graft and corruptions by the billions of peoples’ fund and the usurpation of power entrusted to them by the Filipino people? Pope John Paul II told the Filipino People when he first came here in 1981at the UST ground: “In this Nation beloved by God, a New Civilization will rise, a Civilization based upon love. But If you love God, you should know the truth, and sacrifice for that truth, sometimes you have to die for that truth.” When will this society, specially the millions of the Filipino Poor be set free? It is only when we shall know the truth that all of us will be set free. (Prof. Ernie R. Gonzales (Post-doctoral Fellow, London School of Economics)

PPP taps Dutch firm for Batangas‐Manila  pipeline framework  by Myrna Velasco March 13, 2014

Dutch firm Rebel Group International B.V. has been tapped by the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center as consultant to draft the implementation framework for the proposed 105kilometer Batangas-Manila pipeline project. According to the Department of Energy (DOE), the signing of the consultancy agreement was concluded Friday (March 7) with the PPP Center and state-run Philippine National Oil Company. The PNOC was assigned by government to take the lead in implementing the pipeline project that will stretch from Batangas to Manila. The Netherlands-based consultant, according to the energy department, is expected to deliver the outcome of its feasibility study on the BatMan pipeline project until next year. Preliminarily, the design being considered would be for government to offer it under publicprivate partnership (PPP) arrangement or it can also be done as a purely private sector undertaking. The required investment for the pipeline will be $150 million to $170 million, based on previous calculations of both the DOE and project consultants. The pipeline project will need anchor load to justify its viability to lenders – hence that will be among those to be assessed by the Dutch consulting firm. It was gathered from sources at the PPP Center that one of the major concerns to be addressed in the project’s implementation would be right-of-way (ROW) problems primarily along the areas to be traversed by the gas pipeline. Previous studies undertaken by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) had indicated that around 82 barangays will be straddled by the BatMan pipeline, inferring then that such implementation component will be a tricky one. The Japanese agency emphasized that there will be “difficulty levels of ROW acquisition” and this could gobble up substantial amount of time and effort in the entire chain of carrying out the project. The study noted the “need to move illegal people in the railways.” For all the communities that will be affected, it was propounded that the government and or the project-sponsors must “need to obtain endorsement from all municipalities.”

Beyond the ROW concerns, the other main points considered by JICA in its proposed gas pipeline route selection delve on: the current status and future plans of land utilization as well as those of buried or above ground facilities; applicable construction technique; and the current status and future plans of road, railway, bridges and rivers. It was specified however that “ROW allocation, incentive or contractor’s mark-up and contingencies, are not included in the cost estimation of the pipeline EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) on 2011 study.” The anchor load for the pipeline’s construction will be industry end-users along the economic zones in Batangas and Laguna; as well as the 850-megawatt Sucat thermal power plant which has been proposed for repowering with fuel conversion to gas. The study indicated though that “the gas conversion of Sucat power plant would be a future issue;” primarily on gas supply sourcing.


Iloilo draws P150 billion investments  by Bernie Magkilat March 12, 2014

The country’s top six business conglomerates and foreign investors are investing over P150 billion in ongoing and future projects, one third of which goes to power ventures, in Iloilo, drawn by the province’s right business environment, quality human resources and quality of life. Company CEOs took turns to confirm these investments at yesterday’s Iloilo Business Forum, the third in a series of regional investment promotions sponsored by the USAID in Makati City. The first two being Batangas and Cagayan de Oro City, also held in Makati City. The confirmed investments are from Ayala Land Inc. (ALI), Global Business Power Corp. (GBPC), Phinma Corp., SM Investments Corp., Megaworld Corp., and In Japan Investments Inc. All these investors, who come from the province, cited Iloilo’s good governance policy, skilled manpower, good infrastructure facilities, good education, rich natural resources, and local officials working together harmoniously as factors that attract them to invest in Iloilo. Iloilo Governor Arthur D. Defensor Jr. told reporters the province has enough room to absorb all these investments. “We are ready for that,” Defensor said noting that the local government is even spearheading the P500 million development of a new containerized port in Dumangas. The airport is also being expanded to accommodate additional international flights. At present, the airport hosts three weekly international flights and over 50 daily domestic flights. ALI President and CEO Antonino T. Aquino told the forum that his company has invested P2 billion annually in the past two years for the development of the Ayala Techno park, which is a subset of its Makati and Global City development. “I believe this annual investment is sustainable over the next five to ten years due to our tourism projects in the northern part of Iloilo which will be developed similar to the El Nido Palawan,” Aquino said. Aquino cited Iloilo City’s good governance policy, good infrastructure, and adequate supply of power and water. The only missing link in Iloilo is a major seaport infrastructure, he said. GPBC chairman Francisco C. Sebastian said the company has $1 billion in investments already in the province mostly in power projects.

INJAP CEO Edgar J. Sia II also announced that his property firm Double Dragon Properties is the first property developer to establish residential condominium in Iloilo City in 2011 and a 21 storey building structure will be completed this year. Sia further said that Citimall Center Inc. is investing P1.4 billion for the establishment of 5 Citi malls over a three year period in Iloilo. According to Sia, Citimall Center Inc. is 34 percent owned by SM Investments Corp. and 66 percent by his company Double Dragon. Citimall plans to put up 100 malls in five years in the Visayas and Mindanao. Twenty five Citimalls including the five in Iloilo are expected to be in place by 2015. “Iloilo is not only a good place to expand, but a place to start a business from scratch,” Sia stressed. SMIC EVP and chief financial officer Jose T. Sio said his company’s total original investments in Iloilo already reached P10 billion but could have been doubled at today’s prices. Sio noted that the quality of Iloilo’s human resources and the quality of life are two factors that make the province and city very attractive. “The quality of people and leaders will determine the future of a country and the quality of life will be sustain that,” Sio said noting that the leaders of Iloilo are all working together in harmony in moving the province forward. Kevin Andrew L. Tan, first vice-president of Megaworld Corp., said the country’s largest condominium developer is investing P35 billion over a 10 year period for the development of the country’s largest township called the Iloilo Business Park in the old Iloilo airport. Tan said that 10 to 12 buildings are expected to be completed in 5 to 7 years to serve the booming IT-BPO firms, which are relocating and expanding in Iloilo given its 92 percent literacy rate. Three of these buildings, which could house 25,000 employes are ready for turnover end this year. Megaworld is also investing P2 billion for two luxury hotels Richmond and Courtyard by Marriott. Ramon del Rosario Jr. said the company has poured in P7.5 billion for its power project under Trans-Asia Power and its investment in education via the University of Iloilo-Phinma, which has 7,500 students or a 30 percent increase in enrollment. Del Rosario cited Iloilo’s quality education as part of its major come-on for investors. Investments in the power sector are estimated at over P50 billion or a third of the P150 billion total committed.

These power investments include those of Palm Concepcion Power Corp. (P16 billion for the 270-mw power plant complex in Concepcion emfor completion in 2016 and another power plant worth P10 billion by 2019); Global Business Power Corp. (P15.6 billio); Energy Renewable Asia (P2.5 billion); Dream Engineering Co. Ltd., (P10 billion power project and cable car connecting Iloilo City and Guimaras island); and NV Vogt Singapore Pte.Ltd. (P2.5 billion 5-10 megawatt power plant). Intracare Inc., a American firm, is also investing P150 million to P200 million for an all-suites boutique hotel in Iloilo.


ADB approves add’l $20‐M grant to help  typhoon Yolanda victims  by Chino Leyco March 13, 2014

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has extended another $20 million worth of grant to the national government to help victims of the recent super-typhoon “Yolanda” that struck the central Philippines. In a statement, the Manila-based multilateral agency said yesterday that the grant is expected to benefit almost 70 municipalities that were ravaged by “Yolanda” and aims to jumpstart job opportunities as well as rebuild damaged infrastructure in the areas. “We have laid the groundwork to immediately put this assistance to use in cash-for-work programs and restoring crucial infrastructure, such as water systems, solid waste collection, and fuel and power supply,” Claudia Buentjen, principal country specialist in ADB’s Philippines country office said. The grant, funded by the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, will support thousands of affected families through cash-for-work programs and help restore income to farmers and fisherfolk by providing seeds, fertilizers, fishing nets, and fishing boats. The funding will be disbursed in small grants of $1 million to $8 million to communities chosen in collaboration with local officials. In addition, assistance will be used to repair schools, build skills in masonry, and set up a system to monitor vulnerability to future disasters. ADB has already provided a $3-million grant from its Asia-Pacific Disaster Response Fund, and approved a $500- million emergency loan to meet the national government meet immediate post-disaster costs. Last month, ADB opened an Extended Mission for Yolanda, based in Tacloban. In December last year, ADB had extended $372.1 million in emergency assistance loan to help restore basic social services and rebuild communities devastated by super-typhoon. The loan will specifically finance the government’s Kapit-Bisig Laban saKahirapanComprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) National Community Driven Development Project. The KALAHI-CIDSS program, since 2002, empowers the affected communities to directly respond to the needs of poor households, lessening the influence of patronage in resource allocation, and creating jobs.

ADB coordinated with the government and other development partners in the immediate aftermath of the typhoon to utilize the KALAHI-CIDSS framework to ensure ADB’s support reaches just under a million households in more than 6,000 typhoon-affected villages. The project supports building the capacity of community leaders and social workers to identify, prioritize, budget, and implement needed projects, such as water supply systems, schools, health stations, electrification, access roads, irrigation, flood control, and artificial coral reef sanctuaries. In addition to the $372.1 million loan, ADB has already provided a $3- million grant from its AsiaPacific Disaster Response Fund, a $500-million emergency loan to meet immediate postdisaster costs. Likewise, the government secured a $20-million grant from Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction to provide affected people in Eastern Visayas with access to emergency support and early recovery systems.


PDIC C com mfortab ble with h depo osit fun nd  by Lee C. Chipongian March 13, 2014

The Philippine Depos sit Insurance e Corp. (PDIC) which ha as to maintain a weightyy deposit insurance e fund (DIF)) to address bank closurres will have less of a prressure as do omestic ban nks become more strong ger capital-w wise under the Basel 3 fra amework. PDIC Pre esident and CEO Valenttin A. Aranetta said Base el 3-complian nt banks havve stronger capabilities to absorb b losses and d create bufffers in times of stress. This meant th he strain on the DIF – wh here claims and a expense es are withdrrawn — will ease over tiime.

ARANETA A Araneta said s right no ow, the benc chmark ratio or the fund adequacy ra atio for the D DIF, which iss the amount of o deposit funds they hav ve to always s have on ha and, is five p percent. Bassed on what the PDIC acttually have as a DIF, they have excee eded this ben nchmark. “Our ben nchmark is fiv ve percent of o estimated insured dep posits. We’re e already the ere and it’s a little overr,” noted Ara aneta. They have to maintain the DIF F at this leve el. The DIF iis PDIC’s ca apital account which w consis sts of the pe ermanent ins surance fund d from the go overnment, reserves forr insurance e losses and d retained ea arnings. “It’s really y a dynamic c thing. As th he risks in the banking syystem impro ove, that targ get can go down,” he added. PD DIC’s capital reserves as s of mid-201 3 stood at P P91.5 billion.. Araneta reiterated that Basel 3 will w help bank ks become sstronger as sstandards fo or capital requirem ments will add dress the po otential risks and stress tto the financcial system. “Because off the capital re equirements, that makes s all the bank ks stronger a and capable e to absorb lo osses.” The central bank adopted d Basel 3 las st January 1 which all lo cal banks in ncluding fore eign banks w with operation ns here, mus st comply. Last year, the World Bank develo oped the benchmark an d a forecastting tool for P PDIC to enh hance its detecttion of weak banks and prevent bank failures. PDIC alre eady has its s own bank stress s test simulations b ut the World d Bank-deve eloped mode els should he elp address any new de evelopments that will cha allenge the P Philippine ba anking secto or. dic-comfortable e-with-deposit-ffund/

Foreign banks continue to lend to Southeast  Asia  by The Wall Street Journal March 13, 2014

Foreign banks continued to lend into Southeast Asia last year, just as many global investors were yanking money from emerging-market stocks and bonds. Institutional investors brought money back to the US after the Federal Reserve in May pushed US yields higher by signaling it would begin winding back extraordinary monetary policies. Markets across Asia took a beating. But foreign lending data for Sept. 30, released at the weekend by the Switzerland-based Bank for International Settlements, shows a more sanguine response from foreign banks’ lending departments. Outstanding foreign bank loans in East Asia were 5% higher on Sept. 30 than a year earlier, at $3.29 trillion, led by double-digit increases in lending to the region’s two largest financial centers – Hong Kong and Singapore – as well as a 22% rise in credit to Taiwan. Booming credit into Southeast Asia, on the other hand, appears a more clear-cut example of lending to fund foreign investment by companies, particularly Japanese firms. A cheaper Japanese yen has only accelerated a desire by Japan’s manufacturers to beef up production in low-cost Asian economies. After all, every dollar Japanese manufacturers earn selling products overseas now translates into ever more yen on their bottom line. Japanese foreign-direct investment into Southeast Asia more than doubled last year, according to the Japan External Trade Organization, to roughly $23.4 billion. Japanese banks are paving the way, with loans into the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations rising 12% onyear to $158 billion in the third quarter. That was led by an 18% rise in loans to Thailand – to $45.6 billion – and a 14% increase in loans to Vietnam, to a record $6.3 billion. Much of that foreign-bank lending likely went to finance multinational companies’ investments in Asia to build factories and other big-ticket spending. Despite the market jitters, and slowing growth in much of Asia, the region’s economies still are growing faster than many industrialized countries. Of course, rising foreign lending also can be a symptom of interest in an economy from global portfolio investors. In this case, there appears to be a bit of both involved. Asia as a whole is less exposed to foreign credit than during the Asian financial crisis of 199798. But in some countries in the region, reliance on foreign credit is growing faster than GDP.

Swelling credit from abroad into Asia leaves global investors more exposed to Asian risk, and simultaneously leaves Asia more vulnerable to a sudden reversal in fickle global fund flows. The rising tide of foreign loans also underscores what economists worry is Asia’s growing reliance on credit to fuel economic growth – and the diminishing returns its economies get from each dollar they borrow. Taiwan stands out for having boosted its offshore borrowing by more than 10% over the three months to Sept. 30, to a record $164 billion. It’s tempting to see that expansion as evidence of investors’ misplaced bets last year on a recovery in global trade. Investors have long used Taiwan, a major electronics exporter, as a proxy for global demand, particularly for Apple’s iPhones. Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry is one of Apple’s biggest suppliers, manufacturing up to 90% of all iPhones and all its 9-inch iPads, according to Barclays. And foreign investors bought roughly $5 billion in Taiwan stocks in the third quarter, according to data from Jefferies. Alas, Taiwan’s exports eked out a paltry 1.4% gain last year. So much for the rebound in global trade. According to Wai Ho Leong, a regional economist at Barclays in Singapore, the rush of global credit into Taiwan was primarily the result of foreign banks’ desire to take advantage of the island’s emergence last year as a rival to Hong Kong as a center for trading and clearing China’s yuan. Companies like Hon Hai with major operations in China can now borrow yuan in Taiwan. The most dramatic increases in foreign credit came from French and Dutch banks.


BSP registers $1.5B portfolio inflow in Feb.  by Lee C. Chipongian March 13, 2014

The BangkoSentralngPilipinas (BSP) yesterday said it registered $1.49 billion of foreign portfolios in February which is up from $1.27 billion in January, but reported an investment withdrawal of $361.09 million for the month. On a year-on-year basis, registered foreign funds or “hot money” also registered a decline from February 2012’s $2.12 billion worth of inflows. The BSP said this reflected “investor’s initial reaction to the tapering of the quantitative easing program in the US starting January this year.” The net withdrawal of $361.09 billion is however an improvement from the net outflows of $1.84 billion in January. In February, the central bank said 88.3 percent of investments were placed in listed companies at the Philippine Stock Exchange, while 11.7 percent were in peso-denominated government securities. Investors mostly picked up listed holding firms, banks, property companies, food, beverage and tobacco firms, and retail companies. Data showed outflows for the month totaled $1.85 billion, lower compared to January’s $3.12 billion. The BSP noted that this resulted from investors’ positive reaction to favorable corporate earnings for 2013. Transactions in listed securities yielded net inflows of $148 million, while peso-denominated government securities transactions resulted in net outflows of $509 million. During the period, the top investor countries remained the US, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Luxembourg, and Malaysia. These countries accounted for 77.7 percent of total hot money flows. “The US continued to be the main destination of outflows receiving 92.2 percent of total,” said the BSP. The US Federal Reserve’s second $10 billion stimulus reduction impacted on the global markets in February but BSP governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. said the country’s strong fundamentals and reserves should keep local investors from panicking.

Edsa resumes weekend repair By Joel E. Zurbano | Mar. 14, 2014 at 12:01am Following clearance of the Metro Manila Development Authority, the Department of Public Works and Highways resumes its weekend repair of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue. MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the agency allowed work to start at 10 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday on the the following locations: -Edsa between Loring Street and Park Avenue (southbound), Pasay City -Edsa between Bansalangin Street and West Avenue (southbound, 1st lane), Quezon City -Kamuning Road between Scout Ybardoloza and Scout Torillo streets (2nd lane), Quezon City -Edsa between Caloocan/Quezon City boundary on F. Aguilar lane 5), between Malvar and Arellano streets (lane 5), between Ponce and Concepcion streets (lane 2) and between Concepcion and Gen. Tinio streets (lane 5), Caloocan City. Last Wednesday, the MMDA asked the DPWH to suspend work on Dario Bridge along Edsa in Quezon City. The repair is scheduled on Saturday. “We believe it would be better if DPWH will postpone the repair works at Dario bridge because of lack of preparations,” he said, adding that the project lacked flagmen, directional signs and an information drive to guide motorists, commuters and other road users. The 60-year-old Dario bridge near the Edsa-Congressional Avenue intersection needed retrofitting at the foundation, said the DPWH-Quezon City Engineering District. The repair will reuire closing of three lanes on northbound Edsa , from the corner of Fema Road to the bridge.‐resumes‐weekend‐repair‐/         

Foreign fund outflows hit $2.2b By Julito G. Rada | Mar. 14, 2014 at 12:01am Foreign fund managers pulled out another $361 million worth of investments from the local financial markets in February, bringing the total outflows to $2.2 billion in the first two months, data from the Bangko Sentral showed Thursday. The Bangko Sentral said foreign portfolio investments yielded a net outflow of $361 million in February, a reversal of the $212 million net inflows recorded year-on-year. However, this was smaller than $1.84 billion net outflows registered in January. Data showed the gross outflows of $1.851 billion in February offset the gross inflows of $1.49 billion. “Year-on-year registered investments were lower by 29.6 percent, reflecting investor’s initial reaction to the tapering of the quantitative easing program in the United States starting January this year,” the Bangko Sentral said. Foreign portfolio investments are overseas funds that are temporarily invested in local stocks, government securities and money market. These are also called “hot money” because of the ease they are invested in and taken out of local markets. Investments in February consisted mainly of Philippine Stock Exchange-listed securities (88.3 percent) and peso government securities (11.7 percent). For PSE-listed securities, the main beneficiaries were holding firms, banks, property companies, food, beverage and tobacco firms, and retail companies. The Bangko Sentral said gross investments in the first two months fell to $2.8 billion from $5 billion a year ago while gross outflows climbed to $5 billion from $3.5 billion. This resulted in a net outflow of $2.2 billion, a reversal of the $1.49 billion net inflow recorded a year ago. The US, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Luxembourg, and Malaysia were the top five sources of foreign funds. Hot money posted a record-high $1.8 billion net outflow in January, as investors started to divert funds back to the United States. The International Operations Department of the Bangko Sentral said the net outflow in January was the biggest based on available record “since 1999”. Hot money registered a net inflow of $4.2 billion in 2013, surpassing the revised forecast of $3.2 billion made by the Bangko Sentral.‐fund‐outflows‐hit‐2‐2b/ 

Tobacco industry bullish on prices By Anna Leah G. Estrada | Mar. 14, 2014 at 12:01am The National Tobacco Administration said Thursday it expects a successful trading season for the tobacco industry this year. NTA administrator Edgardo Zaragoza said with the increase in floor prices of tobacco, growers and other stakeholders were optimistic the trading season this year would be successful. The trading season for Burley and native tobacco recently started in Northern Luzon, he said. The trading season in Virginia tobacco-growing areas also started as early as the third week of February. NTA earlier approved a P6 increase in floor prices across all grades for Virginia and P3 to P10 increase for Burley and native tobacco. The rate of high-grade Virginia leaf (AA) is now P78, while those of high-grade Burley and native tobacco stand at P61 and P66, respectively. NTA said at least 66.6 million kilograms of locally-grown leaf tobacco, with a farmgate value of P4.6 billion were traded with major buyer firms last year. The agency’s regulation department issued licenses to 54 trading centers, 21 of them for Virginia type in Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte and La Union. The agency also issued permit to purchase to 10 wholesale tobacco dealers and certificates of authority to buy leaf tobacco to 288 field representatives. Zaragoza said the agency was satisfied by the state of preparedness of stakeholders ahead of the opening of the trading floors. NTA conducted an orientation seminar in Candon City on the rules and regulations on the trading, wholesaling and redrying of locally-grown leaf tobacco, a month before the trading season. Data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics showed the country produced 53,750 metric tons of tobacco last year, up by 11.8 percent from the 48,070 MT produced in 2012.‐industry‐bullish‐on‐prices/     

PNo oy adm mits slow s aid a By Joyce Pangco Pan nares | Mar. 14, 2014 att 12:01am   Apologizzes to Yolan nda victims for f gov’t faillure PRESIDE ENT Benign no Aquino IIII on Thursd day apologizeed for the goovernment’s failure to acct more quiickly in bring ging relief to o the survivo ors of super ttyphoon Yollanda, whichh battered m most parts of Eastern E Visaayas four mo onths ago. Aquino issued the ap pology as he took questio ons from fouur high schoool transfereees from Tacloban o are now en nrolled at Hope Christian n High Schoool in Sta. Cruuz, Manila. City who

I’m sorryy. President B Benigno Aqu uino III  apologizes  to Taclob ban’s typhoo on survivorss for failing tto  deliver b basic servicess after Typh hoon Yolanda  struck lasst Novembe er 8. Beside h him is Sociall  Welfare Secretary Co orazon Solim man, who w was  all smiless on Thursda ay, a day aft fter typhoon  survivorss walked out on her.   “I apolog gize if we co ouldn’t act ev ven faster,” the t Presidennt said in respponse to the query of Zaar Agustin Yu, Y who orig ginally camee from the Sacred Heart High Schoool in Taclobaan City. Nexxt page b on his own experieence, residen nts of Baranngay 48 wherre he used too live, had too wait Yu said based for three days for gov vernment rellief after the super typhooon struck. “We did not receive help h from th he governmeent—no relieef, no medicaal care, nothhing. It took tthree days befo ore the help came. So wh hy did it takee a long timee before the governmentt help the peeople

of Tacloban during the Typhoon Yolanda?” asked Yu, one of the 200 students from the Visayan city who have transferred to the Hope Christian High School. “We are also students—we want to learn from this experience and do even better next time,” the President said. Aquino acknowledged that the government could have done better, but said the magnitude of the damage caused by the super typhoon was “unprecedented.” “This is the biggest storm to make landfall anywhere in the world...Amongst the things that were immediately hit were the prepositioned goods by the Department of Social Welfare and Development,” he said. Aquino assured the student that three days was not the normal response time for the government to give aid to calamity survivors. “As to the three days to get to you, that shouldn’t be the case. In a situation such as this, normally there will be an evacuation center, pre-positioned goods are already in place waiting for all who have need of them, and we will be able to respond,” he said. “But the area affected is well, 44 provinces out of 81. You have something like close to 4 million families affected by it, which is something like 20 million people.” “Everything was down—cell phones, et cetera. Even the equipment whether it’s heavy equipment, whether it’s trucks, whether it was police vehicles, what have you, were also hit,” the President added. Another student, Frances Uy, asked Aquino why he did not keep his promise to stay in Tacloban “until everything was in order.” “Before I left, I was under the impression that there was already smooth coordination between the local government unit with the national government agencies. There were also certain things I couldn’t handle from there - communications were very difficult because the cellular systems were down. Satellite phones were subject to how cloudy the atmosphere was. I had to handle things like provision of fuel,” he said. A spokesperson for the People Surge alliance of Yolanda survivors, however, questioned President Aquino’s sincerity in apologizing to students. “Why only now?” demanded Sister Edita Eslopor, a Benedictine nun who represents People Surge. “Four months after Yolanda flattened us, here he comes apologizing and explaining in front of the students whom he could easily convince,” Eslopor told the Manila Standard. She said victims needed an explanation from the President for his refusal to look into their petition for immediate financial aid to survivor families.

“He should formally answer our petition, instead of discussing the Yolanda crisis before the students,” Eslopor said. Joan Mae Salvador, Gabriela’s secretary general, added that Aquino’s “criminal negligence” did not go away with a mere apology. “Thousands have died, many of whom may have been saved if they were as prepared as he said in his speech before Yolanda actually made its landfall. And even now, months after Yolanda hit, many are still going hungry and could not even start rebuild their lives as the government continues to fail in its responsibilities to the people,” Gabriela said in a statement. Instead of apologizing, the President should heed the call of the storm survivors, the women’s group added. At the same time, Aquino’s ally, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, whose province was also hit by Yolanda, called for vigilance over the P19.4-billion initial funds released by the Department of Budget and Management for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of disaster areas. Of the amount, Evardone said P1.068 billion will go to the Additional Quick Response Fund while P18.337 billion is intended to the Recovery and Rehabilitation Program. He said that of the P18.337 billion recovery and rehabilitation funds released, P6.218 billion was for public infrastructure for the rehabilitation of government facilities like the National Food Authority, P111.21 million; Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources offices, P500 million; National Electrification Administration, P3.929 billion; and others. Evardone said the Department of Social Welfare and Development got P953 million for the provision of temporary employment for the displaced families and P1.789 billion for social assistance of which P1.766 billion was for general food distribution and P113 million for supplementary feeding. He said the additional quick response fund amounting to P1.068 billion was also released to DSWD. Earlier, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund warned that “immediate risks still loom largely on children” in disaster areas, particularly because the typhoon was a Level 3 emergency, according to the World Health Organization. “It may take years before communities fully re-emerge from this disaster,” UNICEF said in its report “Four Months After Typhoon Haiyan” released this week. UNICEF said the risks include “epidemic outbreaks; disruption and loss of access to learning; greater exposure to violence, exploitation and abuse and risks for both women and children of sliding into malnutrition.”

UNICEF has helped vaccinate 83,200 children in Yolanda-hit areas against measles while 55,300 kids received vitamin A supplements. The UN agency, however, noted that despite the growing sense of recovery with the re-opening of health centers and with children back to learning in temporary schools, “there is still an overwhelming reminder that much more needs to be done to restore devastated lives and communities.” The Asian Development Bank also provided a $20-million grant to revive livelihood opportunities and rebuild infrastructure projects in the 70 towns ravaged by Typhoon Yolanda. (See related story on Page B3) Meanwhile, Aquino thanked the Asian Development Bank for its assistance in handling the Yolanda disaster. “In the aftermath of the storm, the ADB reached out to our government and to the Filipino people—in a sense, clearing paths through the rubble, and showing us where we could pick ourselves up and continue to journey towards inclusive growth,” Aquino said in a speech. “I am told that the assistance you are giving us, in the form of loans and grants, is expected to exceed one billion dollars. On top of that, you set up an office in Tacloban City to coordinate the use of funds, and to give guidance to our various local governments. “The Filipino people will not forget the kindness you have shown us—whether in the aftermath of Yolanda, or in the wake of previous disasters. “The ADB provided our country grants after the massive mudslide in Southern Leyte in 2006. And you helped in our people’s crisis recovery efforts in the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy in 2009,” the President said. “From 1966 to the end of 2012, your organization has loaned our country more than $13 billon —money that has gone to vital infrastructure projects—whether it be roads, airports, or power plants. I am also told that, right now, you are our 6th largest source of Overseas Development Assistance, with your overall net commitment reaching more than S833 million.” With Rio N. Araja and Maricel V. Cruz‐admits‐slow‐aid/           

Shake-up at NBI: Two deputies axed By Rey E. Requejo | Mar. 14, 2014 at 12:01am  

President Aquino has revamped the National Bureau of Investigation by appointing four new deputy directors after removing two of them. Deputy directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala have been taken out of their respective positions, according to Malacanang. They were replaced by Ilocos regional director Ricardo Pangan Jr. and Cebu regional director Antonio Pagatpat, who have been designated as new deputy directors for investigation service (formerly technical services) and financial service (formerly comptroller services), respectively. The President also installed two other deputy directors: Edward Villarta, who takes over the post vacated by the retirement of deputy director for forensic investigation service (previously technical services); and Jose Doloiras, who took over the post vacated by Virgilio Mendez who has been promoted as director of the bureau last January. Mendez held post as deputy director for regional operations service, which is now assigned to deputy director for financial service Rafael Ragos. Deputy director for administrative service Edmundo Arugay keeps his post. All four new deputy directors rose from the ranks of the bureau.Justice Secretary Leila de Lima declined to state the reason for the replacement of Esmeralda and Lasala. “They are presidential appointees, hence, they serve at the pleasure of the President. No need to cite a particular reason,” De Lima said, in an interview. According to De Lima who has administrative supervision over the bureau, she believed the development “will take the NBI to a higher level of performance and confidence” and infuse “new blood” and “moral boost meant to inspire the rank-and-file.” The Justice Secretary stressed the need for competence and integrity of the new NBI officials, saying all four are “unequivocal proof that dedicated service and clean service records are rewarded.” Pangan and Villarta are multi-awarded officials of NBI. Pangan had been conferred the top regional agent award, regional office achiever award and Gantimpala Agad award of Civil Service Commission. Villarta, on the other hand, was earlier given outstanding case and outstanding patriotic exemplary awards.‐up‐at‐nbi‐two‐deputies‐axed/   

Manila public hospitals start charging fees March 13, 2014 11:11 pm   by Jaime Pilapil Reporter Starting today, hospitals owned and operated by the Manila City government will collect fees. Manila owns six hospitals—Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Medical Center in Del Pan, Ospital ng Tondo, Justice Abad Santos General Hospital in Binondo, Ospital ng Sampaloc, Ospital ng Maynila and Santa Ana Hospital. During the time of Mayor Alfredo Lim, Manila residents enjoyed free medical services in city hospitals. Poor patients were also given free medicines. But such services will end as city ordinance 8331, better known as the Omnibus Revenue Code, takes effect. Fifth District Councilor Mon Yupangco who sponsored the ordinance said not all people who go to the city’s hospitals are residents of Manila. Hospitals have posted signs informing patients that they will start collecting fees when the Omnibus Revenue Code takes effect on February 17, 2014. Dr. Boy Pascual, assistant medical director of the Ospital ng Maynila, said discounts will be given to non-indigent patients from Manila. He said those in the A or B bracket will get a 10-percent discount, while patients in the C bracket will be given 25-percent to 75-percent discount. Meanwhile, those in the D bracket will not be charged. Doctors will also start collecting fees. Emergency patients will be charged P200, while outpatients will have to pay P100. Manila hospitals will also collect fees for the following procedures: ultrasound, from P300 to P3,000; dialysis, P1,800 per session and P200 for professional fee; physical therapy, P500 per session and P500 professional fee; X-ray, P60 and an additional P40 for every FX-ray film; hand X-ray, P270; and CT scan, from P2,500 to P7,000. The Ospital ng Tondo will start collecting fees this month.‐public‐hospitals‐start‐charging‐fees/82358/   

Seven of 10 poor women are in rural areas March 13, 2014 8:49 pm   by ROBERTZON F. RAMIREZ REPORTER GRINDING poverty that has become trenchant in the Philippine countryside has in its grip seven of every 10 Filipinas—72.5 percent of the poor women are in rural areas while 27.5 percent of them dwell in the cities and urban areas. With hardly any access to higher institutions of learning to gain needful skills and competencies required by the job market, most Filipinas remain mired in poverty and misery, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).The Department revealed Thursday that a total of 14.4 million Filipino women are poor.Figures from the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTSPR) or Listahanan of the DSWD shows that nearly half or 48.2 percent of the total 28.8 million women are poor.Among women who have not reached the age of majority, 53 percent or 15.26 million are poor; among those of legal age, 13.53 million are poor. Literacy counts The DSWD statistics reveals that 22.53 percent were not able to finish or complete any grade level; 13.54 percent of the poor women had gone through grade school while only 12.91 percent finished high school.Further, the study shows a big number of unemployed Filipinas.Listahanan figures show that 5.2 million or 66.41 percent of Filipinas are unemployed.At least 860, 259 or 10.98 percent of poor women in the 15-years and up age bracket laborers or unskilled workers, while 587, 444 or 7.5 percent are farmers or fisherfolk.DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman said that the Listahanan names the poor women in need of assistance.“Thus, its primary use is to be the basis for identifying beneficiaries of anti-poverty programs and services,” Soliman said. Listahanan, launched in October 2011, is a project of the national government with DSWD as implementor. It is an information management system that identifies who and where the poor are nationwide.The statistics released by the DSWD was based on the Lista–hanan’s data as of July 1, 2011.Most of the poor Filipinas are in the provinces within the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (10.4 percent), Zamboanga Peninsula (6.5 percent) and Eastern Visayas (6.4 percent).‐of‐10‐poor‐women‐are‐in‐rural‐areas/82315/     

Sources of freshwater supply identified March 13, 2014 8:48 pm   by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has classified 21 new water bodies for their best uses, including four rivers and lakes that have been identified as potential sources of potable water in the Visayas and Mindanao regions. DENR Secretary Ramon Paje said that Lake Danao in Ormoc City, the upper reaches of Paypayan and Langaran rivers in Misamis Occidental, and Lake Lanao in Lanao del Sur have been recently categorized as “Class A” or whose waters require complete treatment to meet the national standards for drinking water. Paje said that besides these potential drinking water sources, 17 other fresh surface and marine waters were classified by the DENR through a memorandum circular issued pursuant to Republic Act 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004, bringing the total number of duly classified water bodies nationwide to 691. The law mandates the DENR to categorize water bodies—whether freshwater or coastal— according to their quality, area, purpose and vulnerability to pollution. Fresh surface waters, which include lakes, rivers and reservoirs, are classified as “AA,” “A,” “B,” “C,” and “D.” Coastal and marine waters, on the other hand, are classified as “SA,” “SB,” “SC,” and “SD.” The environment chief said the classification helps water managers and planners to develop proper water quality management programs and provide the standards to protect aquatic life and human use of specific water bodies. “With these classifications, we are able to determine the programs and activities to implement so that we can optimize the use of our water resources and make them beneficial to our welfare and health,” Paje said. Also in DENR Memorandum Circular No. 2014-01, the waters of Bancal River in Zambales and the upper reach of Carigara River in Leyte were classified as “Class B” or safe for primary contact recreation or tourism purposes such as bathing, swimming and skin diving. The Linao River in Cagayan; Lamunan/Hinay-an River System in Iloilo; Anilao River, Pagba– nganan River and lower reach of Carigara River, all in Leyte; and the lower reaches of Paypayan and Langaran Rivers; Kematu and Sefali Rivers in South Cotabato; and upper reach of Guiahaoan River in Agusan del Norte were categorized as “Class C” or safe for propagation of fish, recreation and post-treatment manufacturing processes.

The lower reach of Guiahao-an River was classified as “D” or may be sourced for agriculture and irrigation, or for limited use as industrial water supply. As regards marine waters, the DENR has identified water bodies in the Visayas that fall under “Class SA” or those suitable for commercial propagation and harvesting of shellfishes, and cover national marine reserves and coral reef parks. These include the coastal waters of Barangays 3, Dalipe and Madraca in San Jose, Iloilo; and waters three kilometers beyond the ToledoBalamban shoreline in Toledo City, Cebu. Coastal waters that fall under “Class SB” or allowed for recreational activities like bathing, swimming and skin diving include those surrounding Maniwaya Island in Marinduque; Barangays 4, San Pedro, Mojon, Magcalon, San Fernando, Malaiba, Maybato Norte and Maybato Sur in San Jose, Iloilo; Albay Gulf in Albay and Sorsogon.‐of‐freshwater‐supply‐identified/82311/                                 

BALD MOUNTAINS IN GOVT’S GREENING PROGRAM March 13, 2014 8:37 pm   DINALUPIHAN, Bataan: The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has included Dinalupihan, Bataan in the national greening program, according to a DENR provincial chief. “Kasama ang open areas sa Dinalupihan sa greening program na ang target natin ay 3,000 hectares,” said provincial environment and natural resources officer Fred Sadueste. He added that reforestation is necessary to thwart climate change and lessen flooding. Ofelia Rodriguez, chairperson of the Mt. View Upland Farmers Association, called on everyone to help government in the planting of trees. “Kalbo na gubat natin kaya magtulong-tulong tayo at magkaisa,” she said.‐mountains‐in‐govts‐greening‐program/82436/                               

PENRO STOPS CUTTING OF NATURALLY GROWN TREES March 13, 2014 8:36 pm   by ERNIE ESCONDE DINALUPIHAN, Bataan: The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) provincial office in Bataan on Wednesday announced that it has stopped the cutting of naturally grown forest trees, specifically akling parang species in Dinalupihan, Bataan. Fred Sadueste, provincial environment and natural resources officer, said he stopped the Mountain View Upland Farmers Association running a Community-Based Forest Management tree plantation in the mountain area of Maligaya, Dinalupihan. The organization composed of 30 farmers from an Ivatan community in sityo Batanes in Maligaya sought a permit to cut g’melina, mahogany, eucalyptus and akling parang known in the locality as alangangad.‐stops‐cutting‐of‐naturally‐grown‐trees/82433/                             

Hot money outflow eases in February March 13, 2014 11:15 pm   by KRISTYN NIKA M. LAZO The movement of hot money, or foreign portfolio investments, in and out of the Philippines in February resulted in a net outflow but at a significantly slower pace than in January, indicating some improvement in investor sentiment since the start of the year. Foreign portfolio investment inflow reached $1.5 billion in February, up 16.7 percent from the $1.3 billion recorded in January. Outflows were recorded at $1.9 billion, for a net outflow of $361 million in February, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said on Thursday. “While transactions resulted in overall net outflows of $361 million, this was significantly lower than the $1.8 billion recorded the previous month when the tapering of the United States QE program began,” the BSP said. Also, PSE-listed securities contributed $148 million to the net inflow, while Peso GS transactions accounted for $509 million of the net outflows for the month. “The US, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Luxembourg and Malaysia were the top five investor countries for the month with a combined share to total of 77.7 percent, while the US continued to be the main destination of outflows, receiving 92.2 percent of total,” the BSP added. “Registration of inward foreign investments with the BSP is voluntary. It entitles the investor or his representative to buy foreign exchange from authorized agent banks and/or their subsidiary or affiliate foreign exchange corporations for repatriation of capital and remittance of earnings that accrue on the registered investment,” the central bank added.‐money‐outflow‐eases‐in‐february/82384/             

SRA cuts world market export allocations March 13, 2014 11:15 pm   by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ REPORTER The Sugar Regulatory Authority (SRA) has further trimmed down its sugar allocations to the world market to ensure stable supply of the sweetener for domestic use. SRA Administrator Ma. Regina Bautista-Martin said the sugar board has allowed the reallocation of “D sugar” or world market sugar to “B sugar” or domestic market sugar to meet the increasing local demand amid tightness of supply in the wake of Super Typhoon Yolanda. “This is a win-win for both producers and consumers as we maintain a healthy balance between profit for farmers and manufacturers and ensure stable retail prices of sugar for households,” Martin told reporters. From six percent, world market sugar will be slashed down to just two percent of the total production from crop year 2013-2014, while domestic sugar will increase from 92 percent to 96 percent. The SRA, on the other hand, retained the two percent allocation for “A sugar” or the US sugar quota in line with its commitment to the World Trade Organization. The agency earlier lowered production targets to 2.356 million metric tons (MT) for the current crop year from 2.45 million MT after super typhoon Yolanda devastated several sugar producing areas in the Visayas. In early February, the agency reallocated two percent for US quota sugar, six percent for world market sugar, and 92 percent for domestic market. Martin said that the new reallocation scheme is necessary to prevent the country’s sugar buffer stock from hitting a critical level by end of the crop year in August. The SRA chief also noted that domestic sugar continued to enjoy premium millgate prices at P1,530 per MT as compared to just P830 per MT for US sugar quota and P850 per MT for world market sugar. Retail prices of raw sugar averaged P40 per kilogram, while refined sugar was pegged at P47 per kilogram as of last week.

“Prices of sugar in the retail market has been stable for the past three years because we are able to maintain a healthy supply, as properly allocated enough volume for exports,” Martin said. As of March 6, the country’s sugar production has already reached 1.878 million MT, nearing the 2.356 million MT target for the current crop year. “We are confident to hit our target with all mills operating. Also, there are about 25-30 percent sugarcane crops standing and yet to be milled,” she said, adding that milling season is expected to end by May. Of the total sugar production, about 50-60 percent goes to industrial users, while 30-40 percent to wet markets and groceries. In a related development, Martin said that they have allowed all future production in areas affected by Yolanda, and are currently under the state of calamity, to be milled 100 percent for local consumption. Five sugar mills—including Central Azucarera de San Antonio in Iloilo, HISUMCO in Leyte, Capiz in Panay, URC Passi, and Bogo Medillin in Cebu—will be quedanning 100 percent B sugar, or a total of 154,806 bags dedicated for local consumption. “But more than filling the gap of projected tight domestic sugar supply, the emphasis is on the estimated P110 million producers compensation out of purely B sugar sales, as the amount can pump-prime a new their economic activities,” Martin said. Also, all government financial institutions have granted a six-month moratorium on loan payments and extended interest-free loans to farmers and entities affected by the calamity.‐cuts‐world‐market‐export‐allocations/82382/                   

Peso stronger by 10 centavos March 13, 2014 11:14 pm   The peso strengthened against the US dollar ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting next week. The local unit finished the day at P44.55 from P44.65 on Wednesday. This, after opening for the day almost unchanged at P44.58 from Wednesday’s P44.59. It traded between P44.60 and P44.53, bringing the day’s average at P44.56. Volume of trade was down to $590.2 million from the $821.5 million the previous day. Today, Friday, the peso is expected to trade between P44.40 and P44.80. PNA‐stronger‐by‐10‐centavos/82380/                           

DA hydro project to light up 500 homes March 13, 2014 11:11 pm   by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ The Department of Agriculture (DA) has launched a micro hydroelectricity project in San Mateo, Isabela as part of a pioneering program aimed to address high cost of electricity and insufficient power supply in remote areas in the country. With funding from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the DA-National Irrigation Administration and the Department of Energy has started the construction of a micro hydropower plant at the Lateral B Canal of Magat River Integrated Irrigation System (NIAMARIIS) in Barangay San Marcos in San Mateo. The micro hydropower plant is expected to generate 45 kilowatts of power, which is equivalent to 236,000-kilowatt hours (kWh) annually.Cheap and efficient, it will be a run-off river power generation using two Japanese-made turbines to be installed in the irrigation canal. As such, it will showcase the viability of sourcing hydropower from low-head irrigation canals commonly found throughout the country. Upon completion in November 2014, around 500 households from Barangay San Marcos and nearby Barangay Villafuerte will be able to get affordable electricity from the facility—the first in the country and thus serves as a pilot for soon-to-be-undertaken DA-NIA mini-hydro water projects. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that farmer-members of MARIIS will ultimately manage the facility, adding that the cooperative can use their earnings from power generation to purchase new farm equipment and other production inputs so they become more productive and earn more.Besides MARIIS, there are 147 other sites nationwide initially identified by NIA as possible location for minihydro dams which can generate altogether an estimated 28 megawatts of electricity. These projects will be undertaken through joint venture agreements with both local and foreign investors—including Koreans, Germans and the Chinese.Within MARIIS alone, NIA is looking at developing 17 more potential sites.In 2012, DA-NIA announced its intention to establish mini hydropower plants at major irrigation facilities all over the country, in a bid maximize the use of water resources before reaching the farmlands.Facilities such as that will also give highland farmers the opportunity to use not only affordable electricity but also reliable irrigation and potable water supply.‐hydro‐project‐to‐light‐up‐500‐homes/82364/   

Govt eyes bigger earnings from high tobacco prices March 13, 2014 11:10 pm   by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ REPORTER National Tobacco Administration (NTA) Administrator Edgardo Zaragoza expressed optimism that this year’s season for all tobacco variants will be a success following the increase in floor prices of Virginia, Burley and Native tobacco. The government wants to achieve a bigger sales volume to take advantage of the high buying prices of tobacco as the trading season for Burley and native tobacco varieties started. Tobacco growing areas in Ilocos have started trading for Virginia tobacco as early as the third week of February. To recall, the NTA approved the P6 increase for floor prices across all grades for Virginia and P3 to P10 increase for Burley and native tobacco for the trading year 2014-2015. “The rate of high-grade Virginia leaf (AA) is now P78, while high-grade Burley and native fetch P61 and P66,” Zaragoza said. Tobacco is the only industrial crop in the country that enjoys a minimum floor price support set by the government. The floor price is the minimum price allowed by the government for buyers of tobacco from farmers. This is set based on the prevailing market conditions such as production cost, a reasonable margin of profit for stakeholders and growing conditions. The actual buying price, which is based on prevailing market prices, is usually higher than the minimum floor price. The setting of the minimum floor price provides tobacco framers a guaranteed minimum return on investment of at least 25 percent for expenses. As of December 2013, the NTA said that at least 66.6 million kilograms of locally grown leaf tobacco, with a farmgate value of P4.6 billion were traded with major buyer firms. But with a higher farmgate price for this year, Zaragoza said, there is plenty of room for growth of local production of tobacco.

The NFA chief also said that he is optimistic that with an increased share in the excise tax of tobacco, and continued commitment of buyer-firms and manufacturers to purchase all the farmers’ produce for the crop year, local production will remain high. For this year’s trading season, the agency announced that it has granted requests for the official opening of 11 registered/licensed trading centers on the early weeks of trading seasons in Ilocos provinces. The agency through its Regulation Department, in compliance with the Rules and Regulations on the trading of locally grown leaf tobacco, has issued licenses to 54 trading centers, 21 of them for Virginia type in Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, and La Union. The agency has also issued permit to purchase to 10 wholesale tobacco dealers, and certificates of authority to buy leaf tobacco to 288 field representatives. The agency had conducted a month before the trading season an orientation seminar in Candon City on the rules and regulations on the trading, wholesaling and redrying of locally grown leaf tobacco. The orientation seminar is a prerequisite for applications for licenses or permits to buy or redry leaf tobacco, and Certificate of Authority to the tobacco traders, trading center operators and field representatives.‐eyes‐bigger‐earnings‐from‐high‐tobacco‐prices/82355/                       

DBM allocates P1 billion to boost PNP manpower March 13, 2014 11:10 pm   by KRISTYN NIKA M. LAZO The government aims to fill the need for additional policemen with the recent near P1-billion fund release of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to the Philippine National Police (PNP) to “strengthen the police’s law enforcement capabilities.” In a release, the DBM said it disbursed P942 million to the PNP for the hiring of 3,000 police officers, which would be sourced from the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF) under the 2014 General Appropriations Act (GAA). “This latest fund release will allow the PNP to mobilize more police officers in their respective communities and increase police visibility in the streets, especially in areas with high crime rates. After all, ensuring sustainable peace and order in the country is essential, especially if we want to achieve rapid and sustainable economic growth and inclusive development,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said. The P942-million would provide for the police officers’ base pay, allowances and other benefits, who were officially appointed in December 11, 13 and 27 last year. The DBM said that the additional 3,000 officers will cover the PNP’s requirements for personnel services (PS) from December 2013 to December 2014. The PS requirements of P60 billion for the rest of the filled up positions in the PNP were already covered by the PNP regular budget for 2014. With the additional 3,000 officer, PNP police forces would total to 149,525 officers that would enhance law enforcement to prevent and control crimes in the country. “Reforming the bureaucracy will require substantial investments in manpower support among all agencies and public institutions. For example, we recently gave the go signal to the Department of Education to hire over 31,000 new teachers for the upcoming school year so we can ensure that there are enough teachers for our students. In much the same way, we made this release to bulk up the number of police officers on the ground if we are to achieve our goals for national peace and order,” Abad said. “By hiring new recruits, the PNP can efficiently respond to the increasing demands of maintaining public safety and protecting the well-being of our citizens,” he added.‐allocates‐p1‐billion‐to‐boost‐pnp‐manpower/82353/ 

Posted on March 13, 2014 10:48:43 PM

Japanese beef cleared for import AFTER more than 10 years, Japanese beef may now be imported as the Philippine government  has approved Japan’s Foreign Meat Establishment (FME)  Certificate.     In a statement yesterday, the Japanese Embassy in the  Philippines said the two governments have completed talks on  animal health conditions and approval for imported Japanese beef.    "The discussion has recently been finalized, and the Philippine government has finally approved  the importation of Japanese beef from Japan," the embassy’s statement read.    In a telephone interview with BusinessWorld yesterday, Dr. Florence D. Silvano, supervising  agriculturist of the National Veterinary Quarantine Services (NVQS) ‐‐ an ad hoc agency of the  Bureau of Animal Industry ‐‐ said the issuance of Foreign Meat Establishment Certificate  "signals the commencement of importation activities" and that importers "could already apply  to import Japanese beef to the country."    Based on the embassy’s statement, talks to allow imports of Japanese beef began in 2004.    The Philippines banned the entry of Japanese beef ‐‐ live cattle, sheep and goats; meat and  meat products from these species; bovine embryo, meat and bone meal and other feed  ingredients ‐‐ following an outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or "mad cow"  disease in Japan, Dr. Silvano said.    Then, in 2006, the Department of Agriculture (DA), through Administrative Order (AO) No. 16  series of 2006, issued "Pre‐Border Measures for the Export of Meat and Meat Products in the  Philippines", the rules, regulations and procedures governing the accreditation of FMEs that  may be allowed to export meat and meat products to the Philippines.    Citing Section 34 of Republic Act (RA) 9296 or the Meat Inspection Code of the Philippines, the  AO noted that "an exporter to the Philippines is required to secure accreditation of its FMEs  and to subject its relevant region/s and/or country to the DA’s import risk analysis (IRA) before  the export of meat and meat products to the Philippines can be commenced."    Dr. Silvano noted that Japan applied for an FME certificate "around 2009 or 2010." 

Japan, according to the embassy’s statement, will soon begin issuing the corresponding  certificates.    "Local governments and Animal Quarantine Service of Japan (AQS) will start issuing the  corresponding certificates which are required to be accompanied with beef after Ministry of  Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW)  inform the local governments and AQS," the statement read.    The importation of Japanese beef, the embassy said, is subject to the following conditions:    • exclusion of specified risk material (SRM);    • no pithing or stunning with a device injecting compressed air or gas into the cranial cavity;  and    • slaughtering and cutting only in meat establishments accredited to export to the Philippines.    The statement said there was no restriction for age in months.    The accredited Japanese meat establishments for the Philippines are:    • Hida Meat Center and Hida Meat Agricultural cooperatives;    • Shiga Meat Center;    • Miyachiku Corp., Ltd. Tsuno Plant;    • Minami Kyushu Chikusan Kogyo Corp., Ltd.;    • Akune Meat Distribution Center Co., Ltd.; and    • Starzen Meat Processor Co., Ltd. Akune Plant.    Dr. Silvano said that one importer has already shown interest and has submitted requirements  to the NVQS, although the agency is still in the "verification stage". ‐‐ Imee Charlee C. Delavin‐beef‐cleared‐ for‐import&id=84733 

Posted on March 13, 2014 09:43:38 PM By Imee Charlee C. Delavin, Reporter

Solons pledge to limit constitutional amendments to economic provisions TO ALLAY fears that moves to amend the Constitution is politically motivated, lawmakers led  by House Speaker Feliciano R. Belmonte, Jr. have signed a pledge stating that the members of  the House of Representatives will only introduce changes to the economic provisions of the  1987 Constitution.  The public pledge contained under House Resolution (HR) No.     864 was introduced by Party‐list Rep. Jose L. Atienza, Jr.  (BUHAY) and was circulated among members of the House of  Representatives starting this week.    "We, the members of the House of Representatives of the Philippines, make this pledge to the  people of the Philippines to only tackle economic provisions of the Constitution as we move  towards Charter change," the pledge read.    "We will not touch political provisions, especially the extension of terms of incumbent officials  and the lifting of term limits. We submit ourselves for expulsion from Congress should this  pledge be violated," the pledge further stated.    The House Speaker told reporters he signed the pledge to prove that the House of  Representatives, under his leadership, is pushing for Charter change purely for economic  reasons, and will not use such to extend term limits or amend the form of government.    "We have to show that we are sincere that only some economic revisions would be  introduced," Mr. Belmonte said.    EXPULSION  Lawmakers who signed the pledge volunteer to be expelled as members of the House of  Representatives should any attempt to amend the political provisions of the Constitution be  made.    Mr. Atienza welcomed the decision of Mr. Belmonte to sign the pledge and support calls to 

amend only the economic provisions of the Constitution.  "[Mr.] Belmonte has already signed the pledge to the Filipino people and we are very much  elated with the gesture," Mr. Atienza told reporters.  The proponent of the manifesto noted that with the House Speaker affixing his signature on the  pledge, "there is no longer a need to solicit the signatures of other House members."  "The pledge of the Speaker represents the [pledge of the] majority in the House of  Representatives," he noted.  Lawmakers who have signed the pledge also include members of the independent minority  bloc, including Cebu Rep. Gwendolyn F. Garcia ( 3rd district).    Mr. Belmonte has earlier filed Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 1 at the opening of the 16th  Congress last July 5 seeking to add the phrase "unless otherwise provided by law" to the foreign  ownership sections of the Constitution, particularly for land, public utilities, natural resources,  and media and advertising.  The RBH No. 1 also seeks to relax the 60%‐40% rule that limits foreign ownership in the said  industries.    RBH No. 1 is awaiting plenary approval after the constitutional amendments committee  approved it on March 3 and submitted Committee Report No. 119 on March 5. The approval  came after three earlier committee hearings including whole‐day sessions on Feb. 18 and 19,  and a regular hearing on Feb. 25.  The proposed measure is expected to be debated prior to plenary approval when Congress  resumes session on May 5.    Mr. Belmonte urged his colleagues this week to conduct public consultations with their  constituents on the proposed amendments to the Constitution while Congress is on break for  the Lenten Season from March 15 to May 4.  A counterpart measure seeking to amend the restrictive economic provisions of the  Constitution was recently filed at the Senate by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto.  Previous attempts to amend the 1987 Charter had faltered, as the proposed amendments  included extending limits on the terms of elected officials.‐pledge‐to‐limit‐ constitutional‐amendments‐to‐economic‐provisions&id=84714       

Posted on March 13, 2014 10:39:42 PM

Zamboanga del Norte farmers to boost abaca production ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Farmers in Zamboanga del Norte, especially those in the town of Sibuco, are stepping up abaca farming as national supply of this industrial commodity has been adversely affected by typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan).   About a third of the country’s total abaca production of  68,510.46 metric tons (MT) in 2012, based on official figures form the Bureau of Agricultural  Statistics (BAS), comes from Eastern Visayas, specifically provinces on the islands of Leyte and  Samar.    Norbi B. Edding, Jr., leader of abaca farmers under the Babami Farmers Multi‐purpose  Cooperative, said that while yphoon Yolanda has destroyed peoples’ lives, it offers an  opportunity for Sibuco to have a good share in abaca production.    Zamboanga Peninsula produced just 675.30 MT of abaca in 2012.    However, Mr. Edding said: "With the vast available land for plantation, good soil, favorable  weather, and help from agencies of government and barring any calamity, we have no reason  to fail" at increasing production.    Last week, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in collaboration with the Philippine  Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA), turned equipment over to some Sibuco  farmers.    Under the DTI’s Shared Service Facility (SSF) Program, five sets of mechanized abaca fiber  stripping machines were given to the Babami cooperative. These are to help the farmers  process abaca fibers more efficiently and improve the fibers’ quality.    "Before [the SSFs came], the farmers thought that abaca would not be able to help them  economically, and they were ready to uproot their crops," said Norbie H. Edding, Sr., president  of the Sibuco Association of Barangay Captains.   

PhilFIDA, however, dispatched technical personnel to train farmers and inform them of abaca’s  huge market potential.    "We expect the farmers to increase production and come out with relatively high‐quality abaca  fibers," PhilFIDA Regional Director Alex A. Jaducana said.    Further assistance has been offered by DTI ‐ Zamboanga del Norte in the form of a training  programs for handicraft production and marketing. ‐‐ Karel B. Mellanes‐del‐Norte‐ farmers‐to‐boost‐abaca‐production&id=84724                                   

Posted on March 13, 2014 10:41:52 PM

Peso, Asian currencies rebound on risk appetite THE PESO tracked Asian currencies that recovered from the previous day’s losses, supported by  a stronger Chinese yuan, a rally in regional stock markets and a broad improvement in risk  appetite among investors.  The peso closed at P44.55 against the dollar, 10 centavos higher    than the previous day’s close of P44.65. Opening at P44.580, it  traded at a high of P44.53 and a low of P44.60.        A flat close on Wall Street and stability in the price of copper  and other commodities that had been spooked by fears of a  slowdown and default in China seemed to drive the rally in Asian stocks and currencies,  although some traders said it was merely a bout of short‐covering.    “Risk sentiment changed overnight but it’s really just positioning that’s driving the markets,”  said one trader in Singapore.    Weaker‐than‐expected Chinese data on retail sales, industrial output and fixed asset  investment released on Thursday provided a fresh excuse for the market to be wary of  embracing too much risk.    “It certainly suggests the Chinese economy lost momentum into Q1. Demand is soft and  commodities have been used as collateral to finance loans etc and, as commodity prices drop  and CNY weakens, it creates a vicious circle,” said Jonathan Cavenagh, foreign exchange  strategist for Westpac Banking Corporation in Singapore.    “Of course a lot of this the market already knows, so I suspect that the market was already  primed for some soft numbers,” he added.    Earlier in the day, China’s central bank set a slightly stronger midpoint fixing for the yuan for the  first time in four days, signalling it intends to keep the currency stable and giving the spot yuan  a boost.    Indonesia’s rupiah was at the fore of Thursday’s rally, rising 0.4% against the dollar ahead of a 

policy meeting at which Bank Indonesia was expected to once again keep rates on hold.    This would be the fourth consecutive meeting at which BI will be holding its reference rate BIPG  steady at 7.5%. It raised the rate 175 basis points between June and November last year.    The rupiah has risen more than 7% from its lows in December, and yield‐seeking foreign money  has been flocking to Indonesian equities and bonds, supported by the quick turnaround from  last year’s crisis and the improvement in the country’s current account.    “Real money still likes to own rupiah assets,” a rupiah non‐deliverable forward trader in  Singapore said, explaining the sustained rally in the currency. ‐‐ report from Reuters,‐Asian‐currencies‐ rebound‐on‐risk‐appetite&id=84728                               

Solons perplexed over sin tax reform backlash Written by  Angie M. Rosales   Friday, 14 March 2014 00:00   Legislators are trying to figure out a riddle in the tobacco industry in which production has been increasing despite the sin tax reform law that targeted a major reduction in cigarette use. President Aquino’s pet measure that increased taxes on cigarettes and liquors was supposedly a health measure and is either not meeting its main goal of reducing Filipino smokers or some tobacco products are being smuggled out of the country, legislators s aid, in poring over industry figures. Senators and congressmen were told by officials of the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) that following the imposition of the law, its figures showed an increase in local production as well as importation but only a miniminal increase in exports of tobacco products. Yet, government officials could not ascertain, much more provide actual data on the supposed reduction in consumption of cigarettes in the country. “How do we determine the success or otherwise of this measure if we do not have those figures? The production has in fact increased. So I do not know how that translates in terms of health effects because, again, we could not seem to pin down the figures on the changes in consumption pattern,” Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos said during a hearing of the Congressional Oversight Committee on Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (COCCTRP). “One of the main arguments that has been made during the debate on this bill (prior to its passage) was (that this is) a health measure, not a revenue measure. All we have heard so far today is that we have increased revenue. So I would like to see the health side of it which is supposed to be the main point of the bill,” Marcos said. “I’m a mathematician in training, the fact of the matter is there is an increase in production, there is an increase in importation, there is only a minimal increase in exports, where is the difference going if not to the local market,” Marcos said. “Production of tobacco grew but consumption supposedly dropped so the difference should have gone to exports,” Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, co-chairman of the committee, said. But with the insignificant increase in exported products, lawmakers raised concern that most of the locally-produced tobacco are being smuggled out of the country as the figures do not reconcile with the increase in production rate. “That’s why we’re asking for more data just to be clear that there’s no uncollected revenues for the government. We must not be happy that we got P65 billion if we could collect P85 billion. So we must plug all the loopholes, if there are any,” he said. Figures presented by NTA could not be backed up by those from the Bureau of Customs (BoC) as well as other agencies such as Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Department of Health (DoH). Angara, said based on the explanation given by Health Secretary Enrique Ona, it’s still to early to ascertain the cuts in terms of consumption as the law is still on its first year of implementation.

“Maybe in the next five years it will be evident, according to him. As of now it appears to be still the same,” Angara said. “That’s why senators and congressmen are demanding explanation. Bakit yung datos, butasbutas. Tapos iyong pinadalang tao ng BoC eh hindi naman masagot yung mga tanong ng miyembro ng Oversight Committee. So sabi natin, magtawag tayo ng hearing ulit at hopefully by that time andun si BoC Commissioner (John Philip) Sevilla. “We are really an exporter of tobacco as what had been said by (NTA) Administrator (Edgardo) Zaragosa. But we still want to ascertain if there’s smuggling going on as what’s being claimed by industry players,” Angara said. Tobacco farmers, meawhile, are expected to increase their gain this year due to the P6 increase in the floor prices of all grades for Virginia and other classes of tobacco grown in the country. Aside from the price increase of Virginia variety, there is also a P3 to P10 increase for Burley and native tobacco. Data gathered from NTA disclosed the trading season in Virginia tobacco-growing areas in Ilocos started as early as third week of February. Because of the increase in the floor prices the tobacco stakeholders are optimistic the season will be a success. The rate of high-grade Virginia leaf (AA) is now P78, while P61 and P66 for high-grade Burley and native, respectively. At least 66.6 million kilograms of locally grown leaf tobacco, with a farm-gate value of P4.6 billion were traded with major buyer firms, according to agency’s data as of December 2013. The opening of 11 registered trading centers was granted by the NTA early particularly in Ilocos provinces the biggest producers of tobacco in the country. The agency through its Regulation Department, in compliance with the Rules and Regulations on the trading of locally grown leaf tobacco, has issued licenses to 54 trading centers, 21 of them for Virginia type in Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte and La Union. The Permit to Purchase to 10 wholesale tobacco dealers, and certificates of authority (COA) to buy leaf tobacco to 288 field representatives was also issued. With the early preparation for the conduct of the 2014 trading season tobacco stakeholders are confident they could conduct it smoothly. Alvin Murcia‐perplexed‐over‐sin‐tax‐reform‐backlash               

Pagasa delists ‘Labuyo,’ ‘Santi,’ ‘Yolanda’ from typhoon list Written by  PNA   Friday, 14 March 2014 00:00   The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) has replaced the three typhoon names due to its severe impact. According to Pagasa weather division chief Robert Sawi, the typhoon names “Salome,” “Lannie,” and “Yasmin” will replace the names “Santi,” “Labuyo,” and “Yolanda” — the three destructive cyclones that hit the country last year. Pagasa said that Santi, Labuyo and Yolanda surpassed the storm name’s retirement criteria of 300 deaths or P1 billion worth of damage in crops and infrastructure. Labuyo also pummeled Northern Luzon in August last year, leaving P1.4-billion damage to properties. Santi, on the other hand, slammed Northern Luzon in October, leaving damage to property amounting to P3.287 billion and 15 deaths. Yolanda, considered as the world’s strongest cyclone in 2013, left more than 6,000 people dead and P36.69-billion damage to agriculture and infrastructure. Citing the official data from the Pagasa, weather forecaster Jori Loiz said “Yolanda” is now the strongest cyclone, so far, to hit the country this year. He noted that “Yolanda” have made six landfalls as it smashed into the provinces of Leyte and Samar last Nov. 8, with maximum sustained winds of 235 kilometers an hour (kph), surpassing the winds of typhoon “Odette” last September of 215 kph, which was previously the strongest cyclone that entered the Philippines this year. Meanwhile, the 10 latest typhoon names retired by Pagasa were Pablo (2012), replaced by Pepito; Sendong (2011), replaced by Sarah; Pedring (2011), replaced by Perla; Mina (2011), replaced by Marilyn; Juaning (2011), replaced by Jenny; Bebeng (2011), replaced by Betty; Juan (2010), replaced by Jose; Pepeng (2009), replaced by Paolo; Ondoy (2009), replaced by Odette; and, Cosme (2008), replaced by Carina. Pagasa early this year released the list of names of tropical storms for 2014. Two storms — Agaton and Basyang — have entered the country so far this year. The other code names that will be used this year are Caloy, Domeng, Ester, Florita, Glenda, Henry, Inday, Juan, Katring, Luis, Mario, Neneng, Ompong, Paeng, Queenie, Ruby, Seniang, Tomas, Usman, Venus, Waldo, Yayang and Zeny.‐delists‐labuyo‐santi‐yolanda‐from‐typhoon‐list       

BIR sets 24/7 monitoring on tobacco manufacturer due to illegal trade practices Written by  Angie M. Rosales   Friday, 14 March 2014 00:00   On top of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) probe into alleged serious violations of tariff and Customs laws, a local tobacco manufacturer has already been placed under investigation by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for purported underpayment and unpaid tax levies, pegged by authorities at P4.4 billion. With the numerous issues being raised against the Bulacan-based cigarette maker Mighty Corp., ranging from underpayment of excise taxes to illegal trade practices, the BIR has opted, for the first time in the agency’s history, to field its personnel on a 24 by seven basis to closely monitor its operations, lawmakers sitting in the Congressional Oversight Committee on the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (COCCTRP) were told the other day. “We are more concerned, especially the large taxpayers service (of the BIR) wherein Mighty is one of our taxpayer. We have already stationed our revenue officers on premise on a 24 by seven basis. This is the first time really in the history of the BIR that we have fielded our people on such basis in the factory of Mighty and maybe that’s the reason why there was a very significant increase in the payment that was made by that corporation from a mere P800 million in a year to something like like P8 billion in a year,” said BIR Assistant Commissioner Alfredo Misajon. Senate Deputy Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III brought up the issue as he inquired from BIR and BoC officials their compliance on the directive issued by the Department of Finance (DoF) in November last year to “look into alleged anomalous trading and manufacturing activities of a certain company who might be liable for non-payment of P4.4 billion in excise taxes.” “The company mentioned was Mighty. Do you have an investigation on this?” Sotto asked, adding that he “finds it odd that a company like Mighty has reported twice the volume of the market leader.” “The investigation is ongoing. We’re very sorry we cannot as yet furnish the Senate with this additional information because were still in the process of validating all these allegations,” Misajon said. “That P8 billion, for 2013 alone? Imagine wala sa radar natin yan in the past yours. You’re talking of P8 billion increase,” the senator then sought for an enlightenment over reports on findings of a privately-commissioned market study conducted by research firm AC Nielsen on the government’s P11 billion shortfall in tax collections.‐sets‐24‐7‐monitoring‐on‐tobacco‐manufacturer‐due‐ to‐illegal‐trade‐practices 

PSE net income up 35% in 2013 Written by  Tribune   Friday, 14 March 2014 00:00   The Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) said its net income for 2013 increased by 35.1 percent to P844.8 million from P625.3 million in 2012 due to higher listing and trading related income. “The significant growth in our revenues and income highlights the resilience of the company amidst the volatilities experienced by the market arising from uncertainties in the US economy. The country’s sound economic fundamentals and the heightened interest of investors to participate in the growth of our market have provided the impetus for increased trading activity,” said PSE president and CEO Hans Sicat. Revenues rose 33.8 percent to P1.53 billion as all income components showed notable growth. Listing-related income expanded by 28.5 percent to P160.07 million with the addition of 10 companies in the roster of listed firms in the Exchange. Eight companies conducted their initial public offering in 2013, namely, Philippine Business Bank and Asia United Bank Corp., AG Finance Inc., Harbor Star Shipping Services Inc., Travellers International Hotel Group, Inc., Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc., Discovery World Corp. and Concepcion Industrial Corporation, while two companies, Del Monte Pacific Limited and First Metro Exchange Traded Fund listed by way of introduction. “Despite the lack of capital raising activities during the third quarter, we still managed to come close to our target. A lot of the companies understandably went into a wait and see mode. But in the last quarter, we all saw them coming back with their capital raising plans which only shows that the stock market remains to be a sound and compelling venue to generate funds,” Sicat explained.‐net‐income‐up‐35‐in‐2013                 

Tomboy, beki pwedeng maging presidente ‐ ‐ Gabriela  (Aries Cano) Tinabla ng militanteng solons ang hirit ni Senadora Miriam Defensor-Santiago na dapat ay babae ang susunod na maging Pangulo ng Pilipinas. “It doesn’t matter because babae man o lalake we look at the qualifications. We look at the commitment to respond to the current needs of the people and we also look at the track record kung mayroon siyang pro-women, pro-people na agenda,” komento ni Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan. Idinagdag nito na kahit anong kasarian ay puwede namang maging pro-women at dapat lang na madala na tayo sa naging karanasan sa ilalim ng pamumuno ni dating Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. “Kasi kahit lalake puwede namang maging pro-women, we already had the experience of GMA, who was a woman but definitely she is not pro-women, kaya it does not matter, all we want because nasubukan naman natin whether lalake o babae,” anang congresswoman. Nilinaw din nito na hindi sila tumitingin sa kasarian bilang sukatan ng isang lider. “We do not discriminate and therefore we want somebody who would really be a true leader, who will respond to the needs of the people in these times,” hirit pa ng lady solon.

‘Big budget’ eyed for BoC intel Published : Friday, March 14, 2014 00:00   Written by : Paul M. Gutierrez   Senate committee on agriculture chairperson, Cynthia Villar assured that she would recommend for the government to allocate a “big budget” for the intelligence arm of the Bureau of Customs to make its campaign against smuggling more effective. “... we will recommend a big budget for (customs) intelligence. If the BoC does not take care of its intelligence arm, how can it gather intelligence (related to smuggling),” Villar told Senate reporters at the end of last Tuesday’s hearing on rice smuggling. She said the actual amount would be detailed when the committee submits its recommendations to the Senate plenary after the conclusion of its hearings. Customs Commissioner John Philip Sevilla and Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Jessie Dellosa bared that the Intelligence Group (IG) has no budget for its intelligence works. Although it was given P4.5 million for the purpose last December, Dellosa confirmed that they cannot touch the money due to the government’s accounting requirements. “Wala, hindi namin magamit,” Dellosa told this reporter. Sources at IG who declined to be named because they are not authorized to speak on the issue added that Dellosa and some of his closest staff have been using their personal money for the IG’s day-to-day operational requirements since they assumed their posts last October. Also on Tuesday, Villar said they would recommend the filing of smuggling charges against Davidson Bangayan, aka David Tan, Eugene Pioquinto and several others in relation to their alleged involvement in rice smuggling. “If you were repeatedly charged for smuggling, then you must be a smuggler,” Villar opined, referring to Tan and Pioquinto. From documents they gathered, Pioquinto is said to be the general manager of Starcraft International Marketing, which is also being linked to Bangayan/Tan. Pioquinto narrowly escaped being slapped with a contempt of the Senate by the committee for “lying under oath” during his questioning last Tuesday. He was, however, allowed to leave after his blood pressure allegedly shot up.

DTI warns business community Published : Friday, March 14, 2014 00:00   Written by : Edd Reyes   TRADE and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo warned the business community on people using his name to solicit money. “This is not the first time that we got reports on the modus operandi of these individuals soliciting money from the business community using my name,” Domingo said. The DTI Region 7 received a complaint from a businessman in Cebu saying an individual identifying himself as Secretary Domingo solicited money from him. The DTI also received several reports in May 2013 that some individuals and groups solicited funds for the national and local elections name dropping Secretary Domingo and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa. In the last quarter of 2012, scammers solicited goods from stores and business establishments and contacted several ambassadors using the same scheme. In 2012, a text message circulated informing the recipients that they won cash prizes which can be claimed by calling a person named Secretary Domingo. “We have already issued several press releases and statements warning the business community and the public on these deceptive and deplorable acts,” Domingo said. Domingo stressed that the DTI does not solicit funds, goods or services from individuals, organizations and companies.

Japan donates $3M for Yolanda survivors’ livelihood Published : Friday, March 14, 2014 00:00   Written by : Cristina Lee‐Pisco, Lee Ann Ducusin   THE International Labor Organization yesterday reported that the Japanese government is set to fund a $3 million project to help the victims of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) rebuild their livelihoods. Yoshiteru Uramoto, regional director of the ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, said the grant will fund a new project - “Integrated Livelihood Recovery for Typhoon Haiyan Affected Communities”- which is expected to provide employment support, including creating new jobs, for approximately 6,740 poor and vulnerable workers affected by the typhoon. This amounts to approximately 90,000 work days to be created before the year ends. The project work will build on the ILOs existing work in Tacloban and Ormoc in Leyte, Northern Cebu, Negros Occidental, Bohol and Coron in Palawan. Together with the contributions made through the project, the ILO expects to be able to reach out to just over 20,000 workers. The project will focus on the transition phase of the recovery, moving from emergency response to the long-term and sustainable recovery of livelihoods. The ILO’s integrated approach to livelihood recovery combines labor-based rehabilitation of public infrastructure, developing vocational skills that can offer alternative livelihoods, and reestablishing micro, small and medium-sized businesses. The project will also work to ensure workers benefit from existing government standards on minimum wages, occupational safety and health standards and social protection. Lawrence Jeff Johnson, director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines, said that by building on previous disaster experience, the project would ensure decent work and working conditions as an integral part of the recovery process. “The government of Japan’s funding supports the Philippines in placing decent jobs and sustainable livelihoods at the forefront of disaster response. Decent work and working conditions are not only a matter of human rights, they help put dignity and dynamism back into local communities and economies,” Johnson said.

P’sinan gets P4‐M prize as top rice producer Published : Friday, March 14, 2014 00:00   Written by : Liway C. Manantan‐Yparraguirre   LINGAYEN, Pangasinan -- Gov. Amado T. Espino Jr. receives today the award for the province as one of the 12 top rice producing provinces in the country. Provincial Agricultural Office officer-in-charge Dalisay Moya said this is the second consecutive year that the province is receiving the award. The program is spearheaded by the Department of Agriculture under its National Rice Program. The awarding ceremony will be held at the Resorts World in Pasay City. The other recipients of the 2013 Agri-Pinoy Rice Achievers’ Award (LGU-Province Category) are the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela, North Cotabato, Bukidnon, Bulacan, Kalinga, Mindoro Occidental, Laguna and Lanao del Norte. Moya said 10 agriculture personnel from the province will also receive awards as Outstanding LGU Agricultural Extension Workers (AEWs). Aside from her, the other awardees are Nestor P. Batalla, Rita A. Prieto, Irene T. Estrada, Margarita G. Nano, Teresita A. Naoe, Ronna P. Frianeza, Eleuterio S. Saoi Jr., Madelyn V. Valenzuela and Danilo Villamil. She said the province will receive P4-million prize incentive in the form of a project.

GSIS offers condonation program Published : Friday, March 14, 2014 00:00   Written by : People's Tonight   THE Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) recently opened a one-time condonation program for “Study Now, Pay Later” (SNPL) student-grantees and “Fly PAL, Pay Later” (FPPL) member-borrowers with outstanding accounts. The condonation program will run until July 24, 2014. SNPL grantees (and their co-makers) and FPPL borrowers who will pay the outstanding balance in full will enjoy 100% condonation of all surcharges. Under the condonation program, grantees and borrowers should pay in full their outstanding accounts within three months after they have submitted their application form for condonation. If the full amount is not settled within three months, program availees may resubmit their application form before July 24, 2014. Loan interests, the GSIS said, will be computed up to the month of full payment. SNPL is an educational program that was implemented in 1976. The program was in compliance with Presidential Decree No. 932, which specifies various schemes in the implementation of the SNPL. This later evolved into the Educational Assistance Loan (EAL) approved in 1988; and in 1998, the program was amended by RA 8545, an act providing assistance to students and teachers in private education. A similar credit facility for travel assistance was offered by the GSIS under the Fly PAL, Pay Later (FPPL) Program, which ran from 1978 to 1989. All SNPL grantees and FPPL borrowers with outstanding accounts have been informed of the condonation program through a letter from the GSIS. Interested borrowers may visit the nearest GSIS branch office or call the contact center at 847-4747 for more details.

SSS offers safer, faster means of reimbursement Published : Friday, March 14, 2014 00:00   Written by : Jun Icban Legaspi   AS part of Social Security System’s (SSS) campaign to enhance its service delivery, employers all over the country can now receive their reimbursements for advance payments of employees’ sickness and maternity benefits directly at their own bank account, instead of waiting for SSS checks from the mail. Agnes San Jose, SSS vice president for Benefits Administration, said the SSS Sickness and Maternity Benefit Payment thru the Bank (SMB PB) Program provides employers a safer, faster and more convenient means of reimbursement than its previous system of sending checks thru registered mail, which may take up to a month depending on their mailing address. “Companies, as well as household employers, will benefit from the SMB PB Program since it addresses concerns regarding lost, misdelivered or stale reimbursement checks that can take several months to replace. It also eliminates the waiting period for mailing and check clearing,” San Jose said. Since January 2014, all employers nationwide are required to enroll in the SMB PB Program, following positive feedback from over 1,000 employers in the National Capital Region that voluntarily participated in the program in the past several years. Per SSS procedure, employers pay the sickness and maternity benefits of workers in advance, then apply for a corresponding reimbursement from SSS. In the past, employers either wait for their reimbursement check to be mailed via the Philippine Postal Corporation, or send an authorized representative to claim it from the SSS. Now, the funds will be credited to their designated bank account. The employer’s existing savings or current account in an SSS-accredited bank may be enrolled in the program. To enroll, employers may secure a copy of the SMB PB form from any SSS branch, SSSaccredited banks or the SSS Website (, and then submit the accomplished form in two copies to their designated bank. Upon receiving the SMB PB form, the bank will certify the correctness of the employer’s bank account information and submit the application to the SSS. If approved, the SSS will send the duplicate copy of the SMB PB form back to the bank, which will then forward it to the employer. Employers can also check the status of their SMB PB enrollment using their SSS Website account. The list of accredited banks is also found at the SSS

Website. “Employers with several branches or subsidiaries with different SSS Employer ID Numbers may designate a single bank account for their sickness and maternity reimbursement from the SSS,” San Jose said. The SSS disbursed a total of P4.03 billion for maternity benefits of over 211,000 members from January to November 2013. Payments for sickness benefits over same 11-month period amounted to P1.65 billion for some 340,000 members. Of the P1.65 billion total disbursement for sickness claims, payments under the Social Security Program accounted for P1.57 billion, while the rest was paid under the Employees’ Compensation Program, which provides additional benefits to SSS employee-members with work-related contingencies.

2014 03 14 quedancor daily news monitor