Alcala OKs funds for new agriculture development program in Soccsksargen Category: Agri-Commodities 14 Mar 2014 Written by Manuel T. Cayon / Mindanao Bureau Chief DAVAO CITY—Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala released initial funds last week to start off a new development plan for the agriculture sector in this growth area in south central Mindanao. The Department of Agriculture (DA) chief also led ceremonies formally ending another World Bank-funded program that helped built infrastructure, supported seeds and farm input needs of farmers in Mindanao. In Libungan town of North Cotabato, he delivered on March 6 certificates of availability of funds worth P138.6 million “for projects that would signify the start of the Philippine Rural Development Program [PRDP] in Soccsksargen Region,” the regional DA office said in a statement. The region is the combined names of the provinces and cities that composed it: South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City. In the activity held at the Libungan National High School, Alcala also gave 11 infrastructure projects worth P142.9 million to the local government unit. These were part of the final set of projects to be completed under the rural infrastructure component of the Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP). Amalia Jayag-Datukan, Soccsksargen regional director of the DA, said the PRDP is a nationwide expansion of the MRDP to give local government units in Mindanao “the opportunity to help develop their respective communities.” Datukan said the DA issued the document called “No Objection Letters with Certificates of Availability of Fund” worth P40.47 million. These would cover the first five PRDP projects in three municipalities in three provinces. The PRDP projects in these three municipalities have aggregate value reaching P138.6 million, which is also 41 percent of Mindanao’s first PRDP allocation totalling P338.7 million. Some of the PRDP projects in the three municipalities include the P85.87-million concreting of 8.6 kilometers (km) of the Paraiso-Daig farm-to-market road in Tulunan, North Cotabato, and the three road concreting projects in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat: P17.81 million of 1.76 km of farmto- market roads from Purok 2 to San Martin in Barangay Kudanding; P15.39 million from Tayugo to Paladong and Bual in Barangay Tayugo; and P15.22 million for 1.43 km from Bual to Talitay in Barangay Bual. Another project is the construction of a potable water system in Barangay Lampitak in Tampakan, South Cotabato, worth P4.3 million. This would benefit at least 2,200 individuals. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri‐commodities/28952‐alcala‐oks‐funds‐ for‐new‐agriculture‐development‐program‐in‐soccsksargen
Government debt payments down 23% Category: Top News 14 Mar 2014 Written by David Cagahastian The proportion of government funds used to pay for maturing obligations relative to total publicsector spending eased further in 2013, totaling only P559.02 billion, or P170.76 billion less than the year before. This represented a 23-percent decline from debt payments made in 2012 and a testament to the increasing capacity of the government to set aside more of the revenue stream for health and education programs that uplift the lives of Filipinos or address security issues originating, for instance, from internal or external sources. But the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) reported that interest payments on government debt last year amounted to P323.43 billion. This was higher than interest payments made by the government in 2012 totaling only P312.8 billion and indicative of the government making appropriate adjustments in managing the public-sector debt load effectively to provide more for its people. Payments made as amortization for so-called principal debts amounted to P235.58 billion in 2013, lower by 44 percent from amortization made in 2012, which totaled P416.98 billion. Interest payments accounted for a large chunk of the debt-service pie last year, totaling 58 percent of total debt service made by the government. The Treasury did not provide details on the maturity profile of the IOUs that had to be serviced or paid down during the period, which would have been useful in determining if these were obligations that carried steep interest charges consistent with borrowing transactions contracted by earlier dispensations when borrowing costs were more expensive. Nevertheless, the Treasury said domestic interest payments amounted to P222.3 billion in 2013, up by 10 percent year-on-year as the government concentrated on domestic sources of financing to take advantage of ample domestic liquidity, low-interest charges on borrowed funds and without exposing the government to so-called foreign-exchange risks attendant on all foreigncurrency borrowing transactions. Interest payments on foreign debt amounted to P101.1 billion in 2013, representing a 9-percent decline from figures in 2012. This was consistent with prevailing interest-rate regimes in overseas debt markets where borrowing costs have been brought down by the need to boost growth and loan charges were at historic lows.
The Department of Finance said the ratio of interest payments as percent of total revenues of the government declined from 20.4 percent in 2012 to 18.8 percent in 2013, indicating the country’s improved capacity to service its debts. The ratio of interest payments to the total expenditures of the government also declined from 17.6 percent in 2012 to 17.2 percent in 2013, freeing up space for more government spending in projects that could either stimulate the economy or provide for social services. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/top‐news/28973‐government‐debt‐payments‐ down‐23
B’moro peace pact signed March 27 By Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 15, 2014 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - After 17 years of “arduous negotiations,” the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will sign a peace agreement on March 27, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said yesterday. “We are finally arriving at a political settlement that will seal enduring peace and progress in Mindanao,” Deles said. She said the signing of the comprehensive agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) is expected to benefit not only the areas under the Bangsamoro but the entire country as well. “It will radiate beyond our borders to the regional community, and perhaps the whole world,” Deles said. She said preparations for the signing are in full swing. “This is an event that requires careful planning and considerations especially in terms of the venue, etc. We will be sending out invitations soon,” she said. Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
On Tuesday, Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, the country’s newest cardinal, announced during a testimonial dinner for him in Cotabato City that Aquino had invited him to the signing. Aquino attended the thanksgiving mass officiated by Quevedo. The first breakthrough in the peace negotiations between the government and the MILF under the Aquino administration came on Oct. 15, 2012 when peace panels signed in Malacañang the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB). Just recently, the government and the MILF signed the fourth and last annex on normalization of the FAB, which Deles said set the stage for CAB.
“With the leadership of our President P-Noy, who has enjoyed the highest sustained trust ratings of any President in our history, plus the massive international support that is funneling into the Mindanao peace process, we can overcome all the spoilers, we can obtain the support we need to build the Bangsamoro, we will win this game - this historical endeavor - in the end,” Deles said. She said the CAB - the final peace deal - comprises the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and its annexes on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities, Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing, Power Sharing, and Normalization, as well as the Addendum on Bangsamoro Waters and Zones of Joint Cooperation. Deles said one of the most remarkable points in the deal is the gradual decommissioning of firearms on the ground, which she described as a “true testament to the sincerity and genuine desire of the MILF to fully embrace the cause of peace.” “As business people, you know how vital peace and order is to the growth of your companies. The peace agreement covers this, with provisions for the creation of a Bangsamoro police force, based on recommendations of an Independent Commission on Policing and under the umbrella of one Philippine National Police, to enforce law and order and secure the Bangsamoro from terrorism and religious extremism,” Deles told businessmen in one of her speaking engagements early this year. “Human security, combined with additional sources of revenues under the Annex on WealthSharing for social services, infrastructure development and environment management, will sustain peace and productivity in the Bangsamoro communities,” Deles added. Deles said the peace process has explored every scenario and possibility to make sure a final agreement has solid footing. “This is our comprehensive peace roadmap for Mindanao. As you can see, the process is very detailed, and also very, very challenging,” Deles said. “Our roadmap is designed precisely to ensure that everything is done within the boundaries of our Constitution including its flexibilities, accompanied by broad consultations, and a very transparent, inclusive, and democratic process,” Deles added. She said that with lasting peace in Mindanao now on the horizon, the Philippines would enjoy maximum benefits from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations economic integration starting next year. “As we prepare for the ASEAN economic integration that takes place next year, we are doing our own economic integration at the national and regional levels, with a more peaceful Mindanao emerging as our attractive gateway to global and regional trade and investments,” she said. “Two of our neighbors, Indonesia and Malaysia, have among the largest Muslim constituencies in the world. Poised to achieve peaceful transformation into a viable and sustainable political and economic entity, the Bangsamoro shall be our front door to regional trade,” Deles said.
Deles said the ASEAN economic integration is expected to facilitate intra-regional flow of goods. “Through the Bangsamoro, we shall strengthen the politics of reconciliation and build an economy of equal opportunity. No one - Muslim, Christian, or indigenous peoples - will be left behind. Each will enjoy the benefits of good governance, social equity, and, most of all, the rule of law in a society of cultural and religious diversity,” she said. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2014/03/15/1301032/bmoro-peace-pact-signed-march-27
Hunger remains prevalent in PHL–IFPRI Category: Economy 14 Mar 2014 Written by Cai U. Ordinario Hunger in the Philippines has remained “serious” in the past 20 years, according to the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2013 released by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). IFPRI data showed that the Philippines ranked 28th out of 78 countries in the GHI. The Philippines and Mauritania both had a score of 13.2 which is within the range of the 10 to 19.9 score that indicates a serious level of hunger. “With less than two years to go, the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals [MDG] is fast approaching. Although the world has made some headway in reducing hunger since the early 1990s, progress in halving hunger is not on track. Much work still must be done. The fight to end hunger and undernutrition must continue beyond 2015 as a key priority,” IFPRI Director General Shenggen Fan said. The Philippines’s GHI score has been improving in the past two decades from a score of 19.9 in 1990, it declined to 17.4 in 1995. The country’s GHI score, however, worsened in 2000 to 17.7 before declining to 14.6 in 2005. Among Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) countries, the hunger situation in the Philippines, Indonesia and Cambodia are all deemed serious in 2013. However, of the three, Indonesia had a better GHI score of 10.1 while Cambodia had the worst with a score of 16.8. The hunger situation in Thailand and Vietnam are better compared to other Asean countries. Thailand has a GHI score of 5.8 in 2013 while Vietnam’s score is 7.7, placing the two countries in the “moderate” hunger category with a score range of 5 to 9.9. Data showed that in 1990, when the Philippines’s GHI score was 19.9, Vietnam’s score was 30.9 or “extremely alarming.” In the same year, Thailand also had a GHI of 21.3 which indicated that the hunger situation in that country then was “alarming.” “[The problem is] persistent hunger and undernutrition. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 842 million people—or one in eight people worldwide—go hungry every day. And more than 2 billion people suffer from ‘hidden hunger,’ or a shortage of essential micronutrients, such as iron, vitamin A and zinc,” Fan said. Fan said ending hunger and nutrition by 2025 should be a development priority not only for the Philippines but worldwide. He said ending hunger is a key ingredient in eradicating extreme poverty by 2030.
Ending hunger and nutrition, Fan said, also affects other global goals such as improving education and increasing labor productivity. It will also boost efforts to improve inclusive economic growth. The IFPRI director general also said ending hunger and undernutrition requires country-driven, context-specific, and evidence-based strategies, as well as increased investments by national governments. Fan also said increasing multi-stakeholder cooperation between governments, civil society, donors and the private sector will also be a key to crafting appropriate strategies and raising sufficient financial resources for programs and projects. “It’s not possible to fight poverty without simultaneously taking steps to reduce hunger and undernutrition. Hunger and undernutrition cause and perpetuate poverty, negatively affect health, and have social and economic costs. Undernutrition limits people’s educational achievements and productivity, a result that in turn checks economic growth,” Fan said. “On the flip side, eliminating hunger and nutrition can lead to significant economic gains. Studies from Ethiopia, India and Nigeria show that every $1 invested in reducing child stunting—an indicator of undernutrition—generates between $12 and $34 in economic returns. We should thus aim to eliminate hunger and undernutrition by 2025,” he added. The IFPRI calculates the GHI, which is designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger globally and by country and region. The IFPRI said the GHI generates one index number from three equally weighted indicators. These indicators are the percentage of people who are under-nourished; the percentage of children younger than age five who are underweight; and the mortality rate of children younger than age five. The latest GHI results showed that global hunger has improved since 1990, falling by one-third but remains at a level characterized as serious similar to the state of hunger in the Philippines. IFPRI said the greatest improvements in absolute scores from the 1990 to 2013 GHI took place in Angola, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Thailand and Vietnam. However, hunger worsened to varying degrees in Burundi, Comoros, Guatemala, Paraguay and Swaziland. The research institute said highlighting successes and failures in hunger reduction and providing insights into the drivers of hunger, the GHI both points to the geographic areas where policy action is most needed and suggests policy lessons. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/economy/28947‐hunger‐remains‐prevalent‐in‐phl‐ ifpri
First for 2014: DoubleDragon moves closer to P1.15‐B initial offering By Neil Jerome C. Morales (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 15, 2014 ‐ 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The property firm of Mang Inasal founder Edgar “Injap” Sia II and Jollibee Foods owner Tony Tan Caktiong has moved closer to becoming the first company to go public this year. In an en banc decision, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved the registration statement of DoubleDragon Properties Corp. The board of directors of the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) has earlier approved the company’s listing application. The corporate regulator said DoubleDragon plans to sell 579.73 million primary shares at a maximum price of P2 apiece, allowing the company to raise P1.15 billion. “The total proceeds (net of cost) with amount of P1.03 billion will be used for the roll-out and development of the first five CityMalls, acquisition of land and pre-development works for nearterm development, and general working capital purposes,” the SEC said. Offer period will run from March 26 to April 1, followed by its listing at the PSE on April 7. Lead underwriters are Unicapital Inc. and RCBC Capital Corp. DoubleDragon’s subsidiary, CityMall Commercial Centers Inc. (CCCI), is aiming to become one of the largest independent branded community mall chain in the country. It plans to build 100 City Mall branches nationwide with floor areas of 5,000-10,000 square meters (sqm) each, mostly in the Visayas and Mindanao. http://www.philstar.com/business/2014/03/15/1300957/first‐2014‐doubledragon‐moves‐closer‐p1.15‐ b‐initial‐offering
Banana farmers receive P7.5-M crop insurance paymen March14, 2014 9:01 pm by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ The Department of Agriculture (DA) has turned over partial crop insurance payment amounting to P7.5 million to banana farmers in Nabunturan, Compostela Valley recently. Through DA’s Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC) and Land Bank of Philippines (LBP), the initial checks were released to 58 banana farmers from different cooperatives in Compostela alone. PCIC Regional Manager Boni–facio Pales said that they are expecting to complete the release of the remaining indemnity checks amounting to P13 million to around 90 banana farmers after a week. “This is the help of the DA Secretary to those who are hardly hit by Typhoon Agaton early this year,” Pales said. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala assured the banana growers that DA would be prioritizing the crop insurance program, which will be included in the 2015 budget. He also asked the LBP to introduce more agricultural insurance and loan programs that would eventually support the livelihood of the banana growers. This crop insurance program is in partnership of DA’s PCIC and Department of Agrarian Reform to protect the high valued crops and livestock of the farmers against natural calamities. http://manilatimes.net/banana‐farmers‐receive‐p7‐5‐m‐crop‐insurance‐payment/82551/
Lawmaker clarifies stand on Mighty; wider tobacco probe urged By MST Business | Mar. 15, 2014 at 12:01am
ABAKADA party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz denied Friday he singled out Mighty Corp. in his letter to the US Embassy in Manila, requesting information on raw tobacco materials imported by local cigarette producers from US suppliers to determine if there was technical smuggling. “My letter to US Ambassador Philip Goldberg covers other local importers and not just MC, particularly on information pertaining to the import volumes and actual prices of tobacco leaf and acetate tow for the years 2011 through 2013 from American suppliers,” Dela Cruz said. He issued the denial after the media misquoted him for having solely picked on MC that created a bias against the Filipino-owned tobacco firm, which has been subjected to bullying by a foreign multinational rival who lost a substantial share of the low-priced cigarette market to the local producer. Rep. Terry Ridon of Party-list Kabataan, meanwhile, chided Philip Morris for using Congress to undermine MC and other local tobacco producers. Ridon urged his colleagues not to allow Philip Morris and its local partner Fortune Tobacco Corp. to use Congress as a venue for their monopolistic schemes to control the country’s multibillion-peso tobacco industry. “As lawmakers, we are duty-bound to protect our local industries against multinationals out to monopolize the tobacco market,” Ridon said, adding the Ways and Means Committee should instead look into reports why Philip Morris was selling low-priced Marlboro cigarettes in Mindanao and Visayas despite the brand’s premium status. Philip Morris earlier released a Marlboro Flavor Code low-priced variant in Visayas and Mindanao through the approval of an official from the Bureau of Internal Revenue and later requested the tax agency to allow four additional low-priced Marlboro brands to cover its huge losses. The BIR reportedly rejected the request. Another lawmaker, Committee on Ways and Means vice chairman Rep. Raneo Abu of Batangas’ 2nd District, noted that House Resolution No. 425 filed with the House and referred to the committee called for an investigation of all tobacco firms and not just one company only. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2014/03/15/lawmaker‐clarifies‐stand‐on‐mighty‐wider‐tobacco‐ probe‐urged/
RH: the crux of gender equality By Elizabeth Angsioco | Mar. 15, 2014 at 12:01am
March is women’s month in the Philippines—considered as one of the world’s progressive countries when it comes to gender equality. Why progressive? Because indeed, many things have changed. Filipino women now enjoy freedoms and rights that in the old days used to be exclusive to men. We can now vote and run for elections, get an education and be employed. We are now in both the private and public spheres. The country has progressive laws that protect and promote women’s rights. Thanks to the women’s movements that fought for women’s human rights. What we have now, we owe to the women who came before us. It is now our turn to continue the struggle for equality, because the equality of the sexes remains elusive despite the gains. According to bodies such as World Economic Forum (WEF) and World Bank, the country’s data on women’s economic participation, educational attainment, health and survival, as well as political empowerment are quite impressive. Often cited is the fact that the Philippines is one of the few countries that has had two (2) presidents, Cory Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. This is a fact, and, therefore, cannot be questioned. However, let us be reminded that both came to power under extraordinary circumstances. Cory via the assassination of Ninoy, her husband, which fueled the first EDSA uprising. And Gloria, by virtue of her being Vice President (a position considered as akin to being a spare tire) to then-president Joseph Estrada who was also ousted through another EDSA. This, to me, is important to note. I would still want to see a woman president win on her own merits and not be questioned after as what happened to Macapagal-Arroyo when she ran against movie king Fernando Poe Jr. Filipino women’s political participation data indeed look good on the surface. A closer look will reveal that many of those presently in position are there because they are
wives or daughters of former and/or present politicians or popular personalities. One simply has to check the present composition of our Senate. It appears that the fastest way for a woman to win an election is via a male family member. Sadly, the measure of gender equality in politics totally disregards this aspect. In terms of educational attainment, Filipino women’s record is indeed impressive. Female enrollment in both high school and college has been consistently higher than males’. Moreover, more females graduate from these levels than males. Having an education is generally considered as the best means to get an employment, and, therefore, earn a living. This is where the problem lies. Even if more women are able to get an education, they remain to lag behind in terms of labor force participation. According to the 2010 Labor Force Participation Report (LFPR), women’s LFP was 49.7 percent while men’s was at 78.9 percent. Moreover, the majority of economically active women are workers in the informal economy (WIE). These are workers who are largely uncovered by labor laws and standards, hardly reached by social protection, and, therefore vulnerable to discrimination and abuse. For women in the formal employment set-up, the male-female wage gap for work of similar value remains a reality. Men are still better paid than women. Add to these is the concept of “management prerogative” when it comes to hiring. While several attempts have been made to limit such through legislative proposals, these so far, have failed. Biases against women, particularly, those married and pregnant, still exist. Employers favor male employees because they do not go on maternity leaves. These biases are largely because our society does not consider women’s reproductive functions as social responsibilities. For as long as this is so, the biases will remain. Thus, despite an education, employment does not necessarily follow. There’s the rub. The last criterion for gender equality, health and survival, as far as I am concerned, is most problematic particularly because of our women’s reproductive health situation. Maternal mortality rates (MMR) worldwide is improving, but not in this country. From 11 women dying daily due to pregnancy and childbirth-related complications, the figure has gone up to 14 to 15 deaths daily. Family planning data has worsened. Family planning and contraceptive use are major means in curbing maternal mortality by preventing risky and unwanted pregnancies that can end up in unsafe abortions. Yet, contraceptive use is on the decline, not because women do not want to use them, but because public supply is quite limited and many women cannot afford to buy from private sources.
Teen pregnancy is also a big problem. Our rates in the Philippines remain to be the highest in the Southeast Asian region. Adolescent pregnancy is a high-risk pregnancy owing to the fact that girls’ physical, emotional, and psychological make-up are not yet ready for pregnancy and childbirth. By our failure to address this issue, we are, in effect, putting our young women’s lives at risk. Girls are supposed to be in school, enjoy their youth, and learn to become responsible citizens. Early pregnancies rob them of their youth, make them shoulder adult responsibilities, and limit their opportunities for a good future. Their overall health and well-being is sacrificed. How can the country be considered as among the most gender-fair with the dismal RH situation of our women? How can we say that our females are well-educated when we refuse to educate them on crucial matters like sexuality? This kind of education is most important in enabling our youth to become responsible sexually. This will also help our girls avoid early pregnancies. The worsening RH situation is a big hindrance in achieving gender equality. Women’s lack of control over our own bodies translates to having limited opportunities in education, employment, and in participating in society. In sum, while the Filipino women’s status has considerably advanced, we are still far from the dream of gender equality. And RH is the crux of the matter. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2014/03/15/rh‐the‐crux‐of‐gender‐equality/