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Wom men nurrture fissh sancttuaries By Shienaa M. Barramedaa Inquirer So outhern Luzon 12:02 am | Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

SEA GUARD DIANS Susan Aseron A (right), Camarines Norrte’s Outstandin ng Rural Womaan of 2012, and Ronilita Bolaños paddle their way in the 17.17-hectare fish and coral sa anctuary of Meercedes. JANWY YNE N. ALMAZA AN/CONTRIBUTOR

Expertly maneuvering her small boat through h the wavess of the Paciffic Ocean toward her co oastal home on Caringo Isla and in Merce edes, Cama arines Norte province, Su usan Aseron n, 36, gave a last gaze at the fish and coral sanctu uaries that sh he and otherr female villa agers have b been guarding against illlegal fishing g. Aseron, along a with other wives and a daughters of Caringo o Island, kee ep watch ovver one of the e five fish sanc ctuaries hugg ging the Merrcedes Grou up of Islandss and the sho ores of the m mainland tow wn on the easte ern part of th he province. During th he day, they guard the 17.17-hectare e fish and co oral sanctua ary—home to o a teeming marine liffe, mostly tro opical and other o aquariu um fish speccies—since ttheir group, Samahan ng g mga Kab babaihan sa Caringo (SK KC), was forrmed separa ately from the e bigger Inte er-Island Managem ment Council (IIMC) of Mercedes M in 2011, she ssaid. ‘Amazon ns of the se ea’ “Our husbands (all fis shermen) re eplace us during the nigh ht as watche ers,” she said d. “They are e supportiv ve of us.” Although h they do nott have enoug gh funds or facilities f to u use in their vvoluntary wo ork, the wom men of Caringo are a up to the e challenge of chasing away a or even n capturing ffishermen w who illegally ccatch fish in the e protected area, a she sa aid. As SKC head, Asero on leads 26 women w on th he frontline i n the campa aign to prote ect the lush marine ecosystem off the Merced des Group of Islands aga ainst threatss of overfishiing and destructio on of corals from pollutio on. Ronilita Bolaños, B 32,, wife of a fis sherman and d a member of SKC, also devotes time and effo ort in watching g over the va ast fish sancttuary.

Like Aseron, Bolaños leaves her tiny seaside nipa hut early in the morning, every day, to check the surrounding waters before logging in for duty. She has three children—aged 17, 11 and 9— who attend classes in the local elementary and high school during her shift. Aseron herself has an 18-year-old son who is a scholar of the Department of Agriculture in Camarines Norte State College in the capital town of Daet, a full one-hour boat ride from the island to mainland Mercedes and another 8.7-kilometer land travel from Mercedes to Daet. In 2012, Aseron won for herself and her group second place in the Outstanding Rural Women of the Philippines awards given by the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), for their work in keeping the sanctuary safe from illegal fishing since the establishment of the IIMC in 2007. Aseron was also honored as the Outstanding Rural Woman of Camarines Norte in 2012 by the PCW. She received a fiberglass boat and other facilities that could be used in protecting the sanctuary. While she and the women of Caringo are keeping their fish and coral sanctuary safe, IIMC members from the island-village of Apuao Grande and nine other coastal villages in Mercedes and representatives from the municipal government are doing their share in protecting other fish sanctuaries in the waters of the islands of Apuao Grande, Apuao Pequeña, Canton, Quinapaguian and Malasugui. Wild seaweeds The women of Caringo are also busy culturing and growing wild white seaweed, village chief Fernando Navales said. Most of the 288 households on Caringo benefit from the activity that gives them limitless supply of raw ingredients for sweet “gulaman” (jelly), which they consume for dessert, he said. “The women here have not yet gotten around selling the gulaman but they are willing to teach people how to grow the seaweed and make the dish themselves,” Navales said. The SKC and its effort to propagate the seaweed and protect the fish and coral sanctuary received support from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in 2011. Coleen Ibasco, municipal tourism officer, said fish and coral sanctuaries around the islands are sometimes visited by manatees, locally known as dugong, because of the abundance of sea grass. The local government has decided to incorporate the efforts of the women of Caringo of protecting the environment and their very own dishes into the municipal tourism plan that will be launched this April, Ibasco said. Culinary tours The plan is to make gulaman production from wild seaweed part of the Mercedes Islands’ experience via culinary tours. Visitors will be asked to harvest and cook the wild seaweeds themselves, Ibasco said. According to her, the culinary tour was being developed among women of Apuao Grande Island through a series of culinary exchanges and cooking demonstrations. Aseron, who continues to inspire Caringo women to untiringly protect their waters, clarified that she herself is not aware whether they had contributed to the economic growth of their neighborhood or the economy of Mercedes as a whole because they have no way of gauging their impact on their lives. “We don’t measure our success in terms of money. But we know that we are doing a good thing for the environment and we intend to continue,” she said.

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Tobacco buying price remains firm By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 3, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Tobacco buying prices in Ilocos trading stations remain with in floor price levels three weeks into the trading season, the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) said yesterday. Tobacco floor prices are adjusted by the government every two years upon consultation with industry stakeholders to ensure profit for farmers and adequate supply for buyers. Prices of three tobacco variants traded locally have been raised for trading year 2014 and 2015. The new floor prices for Virginia tobacco rose by P6 per kilogram across all grades. The new buying prices for grades of this variety are as follows: AA, P78; A, P75; B, P73; C, P71; D, P66; E, P65; F1, P59; F2, P56; R, P46. The new minimum buying prices for Burley rose by P3 to P10. The new minimum buying prices for grades of this variety are: A, P61; B, P59; C, P53; D, P45; E, P44; F, P37; R, P28. The new minimum floor prices for native tobacco rose between P4 to P10. The new floor prices for grades of this variety are HG, P66; Medium 1, P56; Medium 2, 46; Low 1, P38; Low 2, P26. Taken into consideration in the adjustment of the buying rates is the imposition of the higher excise taxes on tobacco products which is feared to affect consumption. “We have expected better prices this year than they were last year because of the increase in floor prices,� NTA administrator Edgardo Zaragoza said. NTA has stationed extension workers in trading posts to mediate in disagreements on leaf classification between farmers and buyers and to make sure that farmers conform to proper trading protocol. Government data shows that domestic tobacco production increased 12 percent from 48,080 metric tons in 2012 to 53,750 metric tons in 2013. Roughly half of local output is exported to markets such as Europe, United States, Japan and Hong Kong. The tobacco trading season is seen to continue until June.

PCA localizes production, purchase of salt fertilizer By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 3, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) has taken steps to localize the production and procurement of salt fertilizer, substituting imports from Australia. PCA administrator Euclides Forbes said the Philippines imports between 800,000 50-kilogram bags to 900,000 50-kilogram bags of salt fertilizer from Australia. The PCA then bids for the supply of salt fertilizer, spending around P500 million annually. The agency provides salt fertilizers to coconut farmers under its Salt Fertilization Program (SFP), a component of PCA’s drive to increase domestic coconut production. Forbes said the agency has begun tapping several provinces for supply of salt fertilizer. The PCA, for instance, recently signed a memorandum of agreement with the provincial government of Palawan for the supply of 300,000 bags of salt fertilizer annually beginning 2015, provided the product meets the minimum specifications set by the PCA. Forbes said the local government of Palawan, through governor Jose Alvarez, agreed to put up salt beds for the production of salt fertilizers. The provinces also agreed to put up nurseries for coconut seedlings that would be used for replanting in the province. Several coconut cultivation areas in Palawan were also damaged by Typhoon Yolanda which hit the Visayas in November 2013. “This will be part of their cash-for work program,” Forbes told The STAR yesterday. The salt fertilizer produced in Palawan would be bought by the PCA at a minimum price of P300 per 50-kilogram bag through government-to-government procurement. “These moves intend to revive the salt-production industry locally, thus creating jobs in the province,” said Forbes. He said PCA is forming partnerships with more local government units to produce salt fertilizer. “We are now looking at other provinces in western Philippines like Mindoro Oriental. Eventually we can localize the production of salt fertilizer,” said Forbes. PCA said using agricultural-grade salt to fertilize trees could increase the yield of coconut trees by as much as 25 percent during the first year of application, and by 50 to 100 percent in the second and third year of application.

It is the cheapest and best source of chlorine which helps increase coconut yield and boosts the tolerance of trees to drought. It also boosts resistance to pests and diseases. After Super Typhoon Yolanda demolished 10 percent of the country’s coconut tree population, the local coconut industry is confronted with a 13.5-percent decline in domestic copra supply until new trees are planted and ready to bear fruit. It takes between six to eight years for coconut trees to mature and bear fruit.

Microfinance services growing rapidly By Donnabelle L. Gatdula (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 3, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Microfinance services in the country are growing at a dramatic pace as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has reported 183 banks are providing services as of endSeptember 2013. In its annual report, the BSP said these banks served over one million borrowers with an outstanding loan portfolio of P8.1 billion and savings component of P8.8 billion. As of end-June 2013, microfinance loans stood at only P1 billion. Microfinance is a source of financial services for entrepreneurs and small businesses lacking access to banking and related services. Since 2002, microfinance in the banking system has grown dramatically, the BSP said. The number of microfinance borrowers increased 191 percent to 1,138 million in 2012 from 390,635 clients in 2002. The microfinance loan portfolio expanded from P2.6 billion in 2002 to P8.4 billion in 2012, which is equivalent to a remarkable growth of 223 percent. From 2011 to 2012, there was sustained increase in the number of microfinance borrowers, amount of microfinance loans outstanding and savings of microfinance clients. The BSP also noted that while regional distribution still exhibits the trend where concentration is in regions such as National Capital Region (NCR) and Calabarzon, it is interesting to note that there is an active and thriving market for microfinance for some regions where there is relatively low usage of regular banking products and services. In 2013, the Philippines was once again recognized as first in the world in terms of its regulatory framework and practices for microfinance. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), in its annual global survey, noted that the BSP continued to promote an enabling environment for microfinance as a key advocacy to support poverty reduction. It also cited advances in mobile access to bank accounts, the agent relationships for crossselling of microinsurance products and the geospatial mapping currently being undertaken to account for different types of financial service access points in the country. In the past 10 years, the BSP has issued over 40 regulations related to microfinance and financial inclusion.

Last year, the BSP with support from the World Bank, commenced preparatory work for the conduct of a baseline survey to assess Filipinos’ financial capability and literacy. The BSP also supports the development of a formal credit market that provides adequate financing for SMEs so they can grow their businesses.

Allow field testing of genetically modified eggplants, SC asked By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 3, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Farmers from Pangasinan and Bukidnon asked the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday to allow the field testing in several provinces of bacillus thuringiensis (bt) eggplants, a genetically modified variety that produces its own pesticide. In their petition, the farmers said the SC must reverse last year’s Court of Appeals (CA) ruling stopping the field testing as it denied them their constitutional right to property and protection of their means of livelihood. “Indeed, there is no valid justification to maintain the naturalistic fallacy espoused in the assailed CA ruling that the ‘naturally-ordained’ state of the environment must not be altered,” read the petition. “Apart from completely ignoring the challenges to sustainable food supply, these issuances spell the death for technology and innovation in agriculture and, essentially, for human civilization which is largely dependent on sustainable food source to flourish.” Petitioners said the field testing and production of bt eggplant are solutions to their dilemma with the eggplant fruit and shoot borer (EFSB), the most pervasive and destructive pest of eggplants. Roughly 40 percent of total eggplants they harvested are rejected for being unmarketable due to the damage caused by the EFSB, they added. Petitioners urged the SC to consider the tremendous potential of bt technology in improving crop productivity. “To emphasize, apart from the benefits that will accrue to farmers such as higher crop yields and lower cost of inputs, which translate to higher profits, bt technology will address the need for an ever-larger food supply for human consumption, and thus contribute towards food security,” they said. Petitioners said the bt technology would benefit them since higher costs for farm inputs have made eggplant farming less profitable. “The problem has been exacerbated by cheap subsidized eggplants from China, which drive prices of eggplants downward, causing growers such as the petitioner-farmers to suffer from reduced income,” they said. Petitioners asked the SC to allow their intervention in the case based on the policy of public participation in environmental cases to ensure that environmental safety issues are fully addressed from all perspectives.

It was the second petition filed with the SC seeking reversal of the CA ruling. Last January, the biotechnology agency International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Applications (ISAAA) filed a similar petition. ISAAA said the CA ruling ordering the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture and other agencies to permanently cease and desist from further conducting bt eggplant field trials was an “affront to scientific progress.�

Landbank eyes 10 new branches this year By Donnabelle Gatdula (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 3, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - State-run Land Bank of the Philippines is planning to put up 10 new branches this year to serve its growing clientele and further expand its reach to underserved areas. Landbank president and CEO Gilda Pico said of the targeted 10 new branches, two were recently opened: in Carmen (Rosales) Pangasinan and at the GSIS headquarters in Pasay City. The GSIS branch is now servicing various institutional and individual clients, particularly GSIS members and pensioners for the e-crediting of GSIS disbursements such as loans, pensions and dividends through the GSIS UMID Cards. The branch also offers standard deposit products such as current, saving and time deposit, credit cards, investment and loan products. Meanwhile, the new branch in Carmen Pangasinan is the bank’s eighth branch in the province. It caters to clients in Carmen as well as the neighboring municipalities of Sto. Tomas, Alcala, Balungao and Bautista. “We remain aggressive in expanding our network and bringing banking services closer to unbanked and underserved areas, in line with our continuing efforts towards greater financial inclusion,” Pico said. The additional branches will bring to 351 the total branches of Landbank nationwide servicing farmers and fisherfolk, micro and SMEs, and other priority sectors.

Phl eyes free trade deal with EFTA By Louella D. Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 3, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is set to sign a declaration for economic cooperation with ministers of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) by June in preparation for the start of negotiations for a possible free trade agreement with the group. “We’re hoping to sign the joint declaration by June in Europe. We are just refining the declaration,” Trade undersecretary Adrian Cristobal, Jr. told reporters. The parties were initially looking to sign the joint declaration within the first quarter. “It’s a matter of scheduling, a time and place where the four ministers of EFTA countries and our Secretary of Trade and Industry can meet,” Cristobal said. The joint declaration, Cristobal said, would serve as basis to continue the discussions and eventual negotiations, if feasible, for a free trade agreement. The EFTA is an intergovernmental organization which seeks to promote free trade and economic integration of its four member states – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. In 2011, the EFTA expressed interest to enter into a free trade agreement with the Philippines. Citing initial studies of the Department of Trade and Industry, Cristobal had said the EFTA’s member states have huge corporations which the country could attract for investments. “EFTA states are obviously not big markets for our products, but they are rich markets for particular niche high-end products. I think our main interest is to attract investments, their huge corporations that can bring in technological know-how as well as capital to invest in our industries, in our economy,” he said. Aside from the EFTA, the Philippines is also interested in a free trade agreement with the European Union. The Philippines has likewise expressed interest to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement being negotiated by the US and 11 Pacific countries to establish a free trade bloc which would represent more than half of global output and over 40 percent of world trade. At present, the Philippines has free trade agreements with Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and free trade deals through the ASEAN with China, Korea, India, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Asean integration opens expansion opportunities for Phl firms, says NEDA By Ted P. Torres (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 3, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The integration of the economies of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) would provide an ideal investment site and production hub, for local businesses seeking to jumpstart their expansion in the region, according to the country’s top economic manager. Socio Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan likewise said that the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), set to take effect next year, would open innumerable opportunities for Philippine businesses. “Businesses in the Philippines can engage more in intra-regional trade, increase their market access within and outside of ASEAN, and expand their production capacities in the course of the ASEAN integration,” he said. The 10 ASEAN member nations are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. The region has a large market of approximately 600 million people, with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.2 trillion in 2011. Balisacan added that more opportunities for investors and producers of goods and services are expected due to easier movement of goods, services, investment, capital and labor in the region. That is due to the planned integration which will break down trade and tariff barriers among member nations. ASEAN is a major producer of palm products such as rubber, coconut, abaca, pineapple and mango products, and rice. Balisacan, who is also director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), also cited a report from the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) on the trade performance of the ASEAN over the years. “The USITC noted that the region’s outward orientation in trade and investment has been particularly important in driving its international trade, growth and development,” Balisacan said. He emphasized that the Philippine government has already set its key roadmap strategies towards AEC 2015, all outlined in the Midterm Update of the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2011-2016.

“These strategies are aimed at building credible institutions, equalizing development opportunities, creating new growth drivers, and accelerating infrastructure development,” Balisacan said. However, there remain a number of challenges to be able to take full advantage of AEC 2015. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) for instance, hinted that ASEAN integration may not be attained by 2015. “The December deadline will not see ASEAN achieving all AEC targets in 2015. And it will still involve more work for post-2015,” ADB lead economist of the Office of Regional Economic Integration Jayant Menon said. Among the challenges are: elimination non-tariff barriers like closing loopholes that permit misuse of rules that have been made for goods, like sanitary and phytosanitary rules on food and anti-dumping regulations; removing border barriers such as quantitative restrictions, border administration, and even closures; removing behind-the-border constraints related to logistics, transport, infrastructure bottlenecks, and weak institutions; and adopting harmonized standards on competition policy and intellectual property rights (IPR).

Eco onomy y seen n robust despite gro owth dow wngrade By Donnab belle L. Gatdula a (The Philippin ne Star) | Upda ated April 3, 20 014 - 12:00am

MANILA, P Philippines - The Philipp pine econom my will remain rob bust this yea ar despite the e downgraded growth fore recasts by th he World Ban nk and the A Asian Developm ent Bank, am mong otherss, the latest Capital Ma arket Research of First M Metro Investtment Corp. (FM IC) said. The study,, jointly unde ertaken by F FMIC and University of Asia and the Pacific, said “there are no signs th hat the econ nomy is veerring away fro om the high growth path it has taken n since 2012 2.” “Domestic demand keeps k a robu ust growth du ue to the pesso depreciattion’s positivve effect on OFW remittanc ces and expo orters’ reven nues that are e boosting cconsumer sp pending, apa art from the unrelenting government spending on infrastrructure,” it sa aid. FMIC said it is expec cted that the reconstructtion work in E Eastern Visa ayas may start in earnesst only in th he second qu uarter, since e detailed pla ans and logisstics were b being finalize ed in first qua arter. According to FMIC, the t rise in infflation for the months off December and Januaryy are temporrary. “The jum mp in inflation n that we hav ve seen in December D an nd January a appears to b be temporaryy blips due e to supply shortages rellated to the aftermath a off Super Typh hoon Yoland da’s devasta ation and the government’ g s overoptimism in rice output o in fourrth quarter o of 2013,” it n noted. The FMIC C study said d headline in nflation is like ely to averag ge 4.2 perce ent in the firsst quarter and ease slig ghtly in the se econd and third quarters s, as rice im ports actually reach the hands of consume ers and world d crude oil prices p finally succumb to o weak globa al demand and higher no onOPEC prroduction,” itt said. It is also expected that interest ra ates have ea ased from th he initial uptick caused b by the local reaction to the actual implementa ation of the US Federal Reserve’s ta apering prog gram. “This was s not due to the high M3 3 (domestic liquidity) l gro owth up to December 20 013, which w we have previously explained as hav ving slight im mpact on acttual liquidityy. Rates will have a downwarrd bias unto Q2, but with h a little more e volatility d ue to extern nal developm ments,” it said d. FMIC said it does no ot expect any y rate adjusttment from th he Bangko S Sentral ng P Pilipinas in th he first six months m of the e year.

“With inflation keeping within the mid-point of the BSP’s inflation target, with minimal upward pressures in the horizon, we do not see any form of tightening by the BSP in H1,” it said. Meanwhile, the research also showed that external demand is expected to remain strong. “As our empirical studies suggest that it takes up to six months before exports permanently respond positively to a peso depreciation. Note that the peso started depreciating in H2 2013. In addition, we have better income growth in the developed markets (DMs) which is even a stronger positive driver of exports,” it said. “The continuing gains of the US economy and the wider differential between Philippine inflation and US inflation rates, as well as technical indicators, enable us to maintain our basic outlook that the peso will have a depreciation bias, albeit at a slower pace than that seen since H2 2014,” it added.

Go Nego N syo’s s 50 In nspiring W Women n of Passion GO NEGO OSYO By Joey Concepcion C (T The Philippine Star) S | Updated d April 3, 2014 - 12:00am

Go Nego osyo recently y selected 50 0 women wh ho typify unp paralleled su uccess, charracter, passion, and head d-strong lead dership in th he world of entrepreneur e rship. Among g the 50 are thriving trailblaze ers; social en ntrepreneurs s – innovatorrs and trend setters for g greater good; and, intrapren neurs – corpo orate executtives who wo orked their w way to the to op with an en nterprising a and entrepren neurial mind dset. Go Nego osyo honors the 50 Insp piring Women of Passion n. They are: Mary Joy A Abaquin, foun nder of Multiple Intelligenc ce Internatio onal School, who raises leaders and entrepreneurs who use e their intelligences forr the greaterr good; CEO of Hyundai Asia Resou urce Inc. Ma.. Fe Agudo w who led her company with h high growtth in sales; Olivia O Limpe--Aw, preside ent of Distile eria Limtuaco o, recrafted a proudly Filipino liquor keeping k the integrity i and d product quality of the o oldest distille ery in the country; Dr. Vicki Belo and Crystalle C Hen nares of the Belo Medica al Group and d Belo Essentials strengthens their pion neering brand further to bring out the e beauty in e every Filipino os; founding director of A Single Dro op for Safe Water W Philipp pines Gemm ma Bulos hellps in creatin ng income-g generating community-based water service orga anizations; L Leonarda Ca apuyan, foun nder of Narda’s Handwove en Arts and Crafts uses signature C Cordillera fab brics for world-class and d high-end fashion; Na atividad Cheng, CEO of Uratex, conttinues the 45 5 years of su uccess as one of the leading foam-ma akers in Souttheast Asia; president off Standard In nsurance Co o. Patty Echauz-

Chilip keeps her company at the forefront of quality service and sustainable profitability; vice chair of SM Investments Corp. Teresita Sy-Coson is regarded as one of Asia’s most powerful businesswoman leading and transforming their family-owned business empire; CEO Dahlia Dy of South Star Drug continues to manage 230 stores and 2,400 employees in serving the country’s healthcare needs. Alice Eduardo, CEO of Santa Elena Construction and Development Corp., is the trusted name in building roads, bridges, ports, elevated structures in the country; CEO of Cibo Inc. Gaita Fores is one of the most established entrepreneurs in the Philippine food industry for her creativity and passion in art gastronomy; founder of Julie’s Bakeshop Julie Gandionco brought her bakeshop from the local roots, to domestic and global expansion as the largest bakeshop chain in the country; founder and president of Summit Media Lisa Gokongwei-Cheng established her company as the leading publishing company in the Philippines; Magsaysay Group of Companies CEO Doris Magsaysay-Ho believes in the potential for success of Filipino seafarers helping them find their niche; building remarkable presence and reaching international markets is HBC founder Rosalinda Ang-Hortaleza; executive vice president of Universal Harvesters Inc. Milagros Ong-How mastered the intricacies of agriculture industry and is committed in producing world-class fertilizers; CEO of ECHOstore Pacita Juan continues to promote social and environmental change and leads numerous campaigns to promote a green and healthy living; Milagros Leelin Yee and Clarita Leelin Go, founders of Goldilocks bakeshop are renowned for transforming a business of humble beginnings into the largest Filipino-owned bakeshop in the world; Unilever’s vice president for personal care Gina Lorenzana makes sure her company reaches out to Filipinos in all walks of life with products that can positively impact lives. Building financial literacy and freedom for Filipinos through their company is Sun Life Philippines CEO Rizalina Mantaring’s thrust; CEO of Sheila Marcelo seeks to help families find the perfect caregivers for their loved ones who are in need of special care and assistance; through her brainchild project Hope in a Bottle, Nanette Medved-Po helps build classrooms through its sales; Lily Monteverde of Regal Entertainment continues to create films through her creativity and passion for it; Celestina Maristela Ocampo made her name in the global arena through her self-made and self-named brand; founder and CEO of CDO Foodsphere Corp. Corazon Ong started a home-based product which has achieved success in the food manufacturing industry; Sui Ping Par of PR Gaz is at the forefront of providing clients the whole package in the energy industry; CEO of Dizon Farms Catherine Dizon-Posas leads her company in providing quality and fresh fruits in the market; Marixi Prieto and Sandy PrietoRomualdez continue to serve the country through the Philippine Daily Inquirer; Charita Puentespina of Puentespina Orchirds is the leader in agribusiness with the endeavour of saving the waling waling from extinction. National Bookstore’s Socorro Ramos continues to keep her business thriving and leading in the country; Rappler’s CEO Maria Ressa is committed in delivering quick and reliable news at a click; Rags2Riches founder Reese Ruiz empowers women across communities through her social-enterprise; CEO of Sarabia Optical Dr. Vivian Sarabia is the only eyewear stylist in the Philippines to create her niche in the optical industry; Nelia Siggaoat of Manel’s remains strong as the top retailer and manufacturer of leather goods; Heny Sison of Heny Sison Culinary

School continues to establish a self-named brand and comprehensive culinary education; founder of OB Montessori Preciosa Soliven continues to hone children as self-developing individuals through education; Eleanor Tan of Healthway Medical is committed in delivering primary and specialty care among Filipinos; Zenaida Tantoco of Rustan’s believes in providing excellence aside from luxury. Tesoro Group of Companies president Beng Tesoro continues the legacy of upholding quality Filipino-made handicrafts; Esther Vibal of the Vibal Group leads the biggest book printer and publisher in the country; MDI group founder Myla Villanueva is one of the leading innovators in Silicon Valley; Sen. Cynthia Villar of Villar Foundation creates livelihood opportunities for women; PCI Worldwide’s Rosalind Wee marked the Philippines’ territory in the world market in agribusiness; co-founder of Human Nature Anna Meloto-Wilk forwards a social-enterprise addressing social and environmental issues; Raintree Hospitality Group CEO Annabella Wisniewski continues to make records in the hotel and restaurant business; Richwell founder Myrna Yao is the leading distributor of children’s products in the Philippines; Mega Group’s founder and CEO Sari Yap continues to grow a business empire out of her passion and enthusiasm; and Marife Zamora, Convergys’ managing director for Asia Pacific, is known for her remarkable leadership thrust.

Bank defies court order to return P92M deposit POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual jr. (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 3, 2014 - 12:00am

DEPOSIT HOSTAGE: Are the courts all the way to the Supreme Court helpless in enforcing their rulings when a giant bank decides to ignore their order to return the money of a disgruntled depositor? On whose side is the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas in cases like this? We are asking, because a reputable Makati-based unibank refuses to return more than P92 million in corporate deposits to a legitimate account owner, a company listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange. The venerable bank is now claiming confusion supposedly about the instructions of the courts, including the Supreme Court. This excuse, however, may just be the banks’ befuddlement over diligent banking practices. The situation stemmed from a classic ownership dispute between two feuding groups. In such matters, any prudent bank must freeze the account and file an interpleader case to protect itself as well as the eventual court-determined legitimate account owner.




BANK REFUSAL: In the case of this unibank still holding over P92 million in corporate deposits, the bank neglected to file the interpleader or freeze the account until after more than P102 million had been disbursed to what later turned out to be the “wrong” group. This bank’s Chief Executive Officer ignored not only a Makati RTC order back in 2006 that declared which group was legitimate, but also disregarded the series of letters from the “wronged” group pleading for the freezing and protection of the account. Only after the proverbial horse had escaped, did this otherwise respectable unibank finally freeze what was left of the raided corporate deposits and file belatedly the necessary interpleader case. *



COURT DECIDES: Six years of litigation transpired, including a subpoena to the unibank’s multi-awarded CEO, who was grilled by the RTC judge for two hours as to his lack of action and the bank’s negligence. The RTC eventually decided that the “wronged” party is indeed the rightful account owner, and ordered the unibank to pay over P100 million in damages, representing the amount that its negligent officers released to parties determined by the court to be bogus, but who had already received and enjoyed the funds. Consistent with this decision, the court also declared the “wronged party” to be the true and legitimate owner of the remaining funds, now down to over P92 million -- and still being kept frozen by the unibank. *



FINAL SC RULING: In a separate case involving the same feuding parties, the Supreme Court, to which the matter was elevated, decided with finality the legitimacy of the group that happened to be the same party “wronged” by the unibank. The SC also ordered the bogus group to account for and return all the millions it had siphoned out since 2004 from the account of the legitimate corporate owner, a publicly-listed company. On the remaining P92+ million, a sheriff recently appeared at the unibank’s plush Makati office with a Writ of Execution for the deposits’ release to the rightful and court-determined representatives of the account’s corporate owner. The unibank refused and even now seeks “clarification” despite the fact that the court already decided in favor of the “wronged” party. The unibank reportedly chased after the aggrieved legitimate depositor to settle up with a very substantial amount that the unibank had already disbursed, albeit to the impostor group.




QUID PRO QUO: Now why would this unibank, one of the oldest in the country, quickly offer to settle an over P100-million judgment stemming from funds it no longer has, because it mistakenly and through lack of diligence, disbursed them to the wrong parties? Yet, the same unibank refuses to give back to a corporate account owner its own deposits in spite of a court order to do so. Not contented with its continuing freeze, it does not even want to disclose to the legitimate depositor how much is left in its account! Apparently, the quid pro quo for the proffered settlement was the withdrawal of an administrative complaint filed by the wronged party at the Bangko Sentral, aimed at the unibank’s CEO, now retired, for violations of some provisions of the General Banking Act. There is a likelihood that unless the unibank releases the P92+ million to the SC-determined owner, the bank’s new CEO may also face a similar complaint at the Bangko Sentral. *



UNCANNY TIMING: In the Senate, there was the uncanny timing of the Yellow Ribbon committee in rushing the announcement of its report on its inquiry into the P10-billion pork barrel scam to which three senators had been linked. Even before the committee report could be signed by a majority of the members, its summary was announced Tuesday after it was alerted that the Office of the Ombudsman was about to announce its readiness to file pork-related plunder and other charges against the three targeted senators. The key respondents are opposition senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla, together with businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles who has been in the hospital for tests and possible surgery. The termination of the Senate hearing could mean that the committee has done enough in aid of destroying the reputation of the opposition senators in preparation for the filing of charges. *



COORDINATION: The close timing of the twin moves in the Senate and the Ombudsman raised speculation that there was some coordination. The Senate would have looked awkward holding on to its unsigned committee report while the Ombudsman was already filing the charges. The draft Yellow Ribbon report would have looked laughable and irrelevant. That would have been all right if the committee did not intend to report its finding of probable cause (not its job) and to recommend filing of charges.

The committee may be able to salvage its partisan reputation if it concentrates instead on recommending remedial legislation, its main task. *



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Sunfllowers bloom b in i Ligao o By Mar S. Arguelles Inquirer So outhern Luzon 12:03 am | Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

R DANCERS Clad in colorful co ostumes, streett SUNFLOWER dancers perfo orm during thee first Sunflowe er Festival in Lig gao City in Albay.. MARK ALVIC ESPLANA

Once a farrming town, Ligao in Alb bay province launched itts first “Sunfflower” Festiival to commemo orate 13 yearrs of cityhoo od. Mayor Pat ricia Gonzalles Alsua sa aid the weekllong us, cultural a and economic event depi cted religiou transforma ation of the u urban centerr from a seco ondclass tow wn to a comp ponent city. “This “ city is proud of its rich cultural heritage an nd good social values where w truly grreat things happen,” h sh he said. The festival is a new addition to the t major festivals being g observed iin Albay, succh as the Daragang Magayon, Ibalong Fes stival in Lega azpi City, an nd Tabak Fe estival in Tab baco City. Seven to owns and citiies in Bicol joined the street-dance p presentation ns on March 24, the culminatiing event. Among the co ontingents were w the Guin nobatan Lon nganiza, Pen nasan of Daet, Rodeo Masbateño M off Masbate City, C Ibalong of Legazpi, Peñafrancia a Voyadoress of Naga Citty, Tinagba of Iriga City and the Sun nflower danc ce group of L Ligao. They dan nced their wa ay through a 3-kilometer stretch from m Barangayy Tuburan to City Hall, in n choreogrraphed routin nes accomp panied by eth hnic, jazz an nd modern rh hythms. Alsua said the Ligao performers portrayed how the city e evolved “from m the legend dary roots off the five ancie ent datus wh ho inhabited this land, to o the gifts of the Spanish h colonizers— —the gift of faith, up to the e present when we as Lig gaoeños tak ke pride in be eing named Bicol’s Sunfflower City.”” Rodeo Masbateño M pe erformers in n cowboy ves sts did a barrn dance, wh hile the Daett “Penasan” displayed d a float ado orned with th he native fruit “Pineapple e.” Naga’s co ontingent pa araded a boa atshaped float f along with w the “voya adores” and a replica of the Virgin o of Peñafranccia, Bicol’s patrones ss. Albay Re ep. Fernando o Gonzales said Ligao had h been tag gged the Sun nflower City of Bicol because of the abundance of the e flowers in some s 20 hecctares of lan nd. s Gonza ales said sunflowers we ere considere ed oil seeds used for Quoting a research study, cooking oil, o meals an nd confection nery products. The byprroducts can be used as ingredients in livestock feed rations s. Sunflowe er seed oil is s one of the healthiest h ve egetable oilss for cooking g because it contains lino oleic oil, high oleic o and mid oleic. Com mpared to so oybean, sunfflower meal contains 50-percent oil and about 20-percent pro otein, the stu udy said. Demand for sunflowe er oil has inc creased as food f processsors searche ed for source es of transfa atfree vege etable oil. Fo ood manufac cturers abroa ad have swi tched to sun nflower oil, G Gonzales said.

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Water project scam: Vice mayor sacked, 5 penalized By Maricar Cinco Inquirer Southern Luzon 12:01 am | Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

SAN PEDRO CITY—The vice mayor of Majayjay, Laguna, was removed from office, while five other officials, including a former mayor, were perpetually disqualified from holding any government position, after they were found guilty of grave misconduct over an anomalous water supply project entered into by the local government two years ago. Vice Mayor Lauro Mentilla was ordered to step down and was replaced by municipal first councilor Valeriano Vito. “We are done implementing the Ombudsman order,” said Lionel Dalope, head of the Department of the Interior and Local Government in Laguna, in a phone interview. According to Dalope, the Ombudsman, on Feb. 21, gave the order as it ruled on a case of irregularity involving a water supply contract between the town and a private firm, Israel Builder and Development Corp. (IBCD). Those penalized were Teofilo Guera, mayor at the time of the project; Ana Linda Rosas, former vice mayor; and council members Mentilla, Mauro Aragon, Juancho Andaya, Antonio Zornosa Jr., Mario Mercolisa Jr., Jovanie Ann Esquillo and Bernardo de Villa. In the May 2013 elections, Mentilla won as vice mayor while Andaya, Zornosa and Mercolisa were reelected in the council. The rest either lost or did not run. The project, entered into by the municipal government in August and December 2012, was meant to supply water to Majayjay and to the neighboring towns of Lumban and Sta. Cruz, for 100 years under a build-operate-transfer scheme. In the contract, 90 percent of the project’s revenue would go to the company and only 10 percent to the local government. Froilan Gruezo, a resident of Majayjay and a nonprofit group called Pilipinas Para sa Pinoy (PPP), found this “manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to Majayjay.” In their 2012 complaint to the Ombudsman, a copy of which the Inquirer obtained from PPP over the weekend, they said IBDC was not a water utility but a realty firm and did not have financial and technical expertise to undertake the project. “The execution, approval and ratification of the bulk water contract by all the respondents resulted in the giving of unwarranted benefits, advantage and preference to IBDC, to the damage and prejudice of Majayjay,” the Ombudsman decision read. Those found guilty also face forfeiture of retirement benefits and had been barred from taking civil service exams. Councilors Andaya, Zornosa and Mercolisa had been spared because the “principle of condonation” came into force when they were reelected. Dalope said it took more than a year to enforce the Ombudsman order because of “protocols and hierarchies.”

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Aquiino askeed to ba ack exteension oof CARP RP coverrage Philippine Daily D Inquirer 5:59 am | Thursday, T April 3rd, 3 2014

guilat PHOTO F FROM Ifugao Reep. Teodoro Bag SS.GOV.PH CONGRES

MANILA A, Philippiness—The chaiir of the Hou use agrarian n reform com mmittee has gone to Presiden nt Aquino fo or help to enssure that som me 260,000 0 hectares off agriculturall lands can sstill be distri buted even beyond the deadline of the extende ed Comprehe ensive Agrarrian Reform Program m (CARP). Ifugao R Rep. Teddy B Baguilat called on the Presiden nt to certify a as urgent a bill that would allow ag grarian reform m officials to o issue noticces of coverag e (NOC) forr landholding gs beyond th he June 30, 2014, deadline prescrib bed under th he law. Under the proposed law, lands covered c by NOCs N could still be distriibuted after tthe CARP ceases to o be. The law w also states that all lan ndholdings w with pending cases can sstill be processe ed beyond Ju une 30, 2014 4. Baguilat said moving g the deadlin ne would me ean that more e private and governme ent lands tha at were not among thos se targeted for f coverage e by the DAR R could still b be included in CARP’s coverage e, in order to o complete th he constitutio onal mandatte for agraria an reform. The Ifuga ao lawmaker said he wa as constraine ed to go to A Aquino because of the D Department o of Agrarian Reform’s fa ailure to subm mit a propos sal to amend d the CARP e extension la aw so that it can issue mo ore NOCs. He said that t at a hea aring last Ma arch 5 he had d asked the DAR to sub bmit a propossed amendm ment to the CA ARP extensio on law that would w extend the issuan nce of NOCss beyond Jun ne 30, 2014. He said DAR D Unders secretary An nthony Parun ngao had him mself disclossed that the departmentt needed more m time to o issue NOCs, because the t process had been delayed by m missing or problema atic land title es. Land titles are necessary before the notices can be distrributed. “DAR, it seems, s has no sense off urgency to complete th he agrarian rreform progrram. I am ha aving serious reservations r about DAR’’s plans on how h to fulfill its constitutiional manda ate for agrarian reform,” Baguilat said d in a statem ment.—Leila B. Salaverrria

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Card dinal Ta agle lam ments po overty aamid prrogress Philippine Daily D Inquirer 7:38 am | Thursday, T April 3rd, 3 2014

o Tagle, Archbisshop of Manila,, Cardinaal Luis Antonio gesturees during a preess conference at Manila Internaational Airport after arriving ffrom Rome on March 21, 201 m over the rising 13. Tagle has eexpressed alarm unemp ployment and w worsening pove erty in the Philippines despitee the highly tou uted economic growth rates. AFP

MANIILA, Philippines—Manila a Archbishop p Luis A Antonio Card dinal Tagle h has expresssed alarm m over the rissing unemplo oyment and worse ening povertty in the country despite the highly tou uted econom mic growth ra ates. Tagle said that while e the governm ment should d be commen nded for the e robust econ nomic growth the country had h been experiencing, many Filipin nos continue ed to be poorr and joblesss. The prela ate noted the e paradox in n an interview w last week with Tele Ca are, a New Y York-based Catholic television ne etwork in the e “Everyday Faith Live” p program, wh here he also o discussed tthe imbalanc ces in the Ph hilippine economy. The card dinal flew to the t United States S last week to receivve an honorrary doctoratte of humane letters fro om Fordham m University. “We have e to salute our o governme ent and also o the businesss sector. However, we were alarme ed to see also that the leve el of poverty y has not gon ne down,” Ta agle was qu uoted as sayying in the CB BCP News, the official new ws service of o the Cathollic Bishops’ Conference of the Philip ppines. He said it was “worth h rejoicing” th hat the Philippines regisstered the highest gross domestic product growth g rate in Southeastt Asia last ye ear. “So you ask a the ques stion where is this growtth going? Ho ow come the ere is this ve ery acceleratted growth economically, but ordinarry people rem mained poorr?” he said. The Philippine Statis stics Authoritty (PSA) recently reporte ed an increa ase in unemp ployment am mong Filipinos despite economic growtth in 2013 ex xceeding the e targets. The PSA A said that in January, th he unemploy yment rate cllimbed to 7.5 5 percent fro om last yearr’s 7.1 perce ent, the seco ond-fastest in Asia next to China’s 7 7.7 percent.— —Jocelyn R R. Uy

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Bill seeeks settting up p of speccial edu ucation ccenters in the proviinces By Leila B. B Salaverria Philippine Daily D Inquirer 11:26 pm | Wednesday, Ap pril 2nd, 2014

Diwa partty list Rep. Em meline Aglipayy. photto

MANILA A, Philippine es—Children n with specia al needs mayy have a different sett of educatio onal requirem ments, but th his no excuse to deprive t hem of the cchance to grrow and learrn. A bill ap pproved by tthe House committee on n the welfare e of children n in March in ntends to req quire the govvernment to put up one special edu cation (SPE ED) center fo or each scho ool division n in the coun ntry, and thre ee such centters for big school divisions. d The bill’s author, Diiwa party listt Rep. Emmeline Aglipay, said children with sspecial needss should be nurtured to their full pote ential. In her speech s for th he 7th World d Autism Awa areness Dayy celebratio on on Wedn nesday, Aglip pay said peo ople with auttism must no ot be considered less than so-called d normal peo ople. “Autism is not, in itse elf, a negativ ve, but an altternative wa y of thinking g, of seeing tthe world, on ne which calls for aware he eness, underrstanding, and integratio on– not fear,, or prejudice e, or pity,” sh said. Under he er bill, the SP PED Center would serve e as the reso ource centerr for the implementation of inclusive education programs p tha at would allo ow regular scchools to pro operly deal w with children n with special needs. n Their tas sks include producing p ap ppropriate sc chool materia als, conductting school-b based trainin ng and supp porting the in ntegration off children witth special ne eeds in regu ular schools. The SPE ED Centers must m have one educational psycholo ogist or psycchometrician n, one physiccal therapist, one occupa ational thera apist, one sp peech and la anguage therapist, and o one educatio on superviso or. The bill requires r the Departmentt of Educatio on to provide e financial asssistance to students witth special needs n at the elementary and second dary level wh ho come from m poor families. The aid may come in the t form of scholarships s s, allowances s, subsidies , and other iincentives. Special equipment e such as whee elchairs or hearing aid sshould also b be provided for free or at a discount to deserving g students, it states. er programs prescribed under u the bill for children n with specia al needs include a nutritional The othe program,, recreationa al and artistic c opportunitiies, specializzed day care e centers, an nd special training for f their pare ents, siblings s, and caregivers. The bill also a seeks an intensified d nationwide information campaign o on the preve ention, early identifica ation, and inttervention prrograms for children with h special nee eds. It further authorizes the t educatio on secretary to give gran nts or enter into coopera ative agreem ments or contra acts with pub blic or private e non-profit organization o ns or institutiions to creatte the SPED D Centers or o provide te echnical assistance and other servicces related to the work d done by the centers.

It also states that the SPED Centers’ profit and income from its functions should be exempt from income tax, while donations, contributions, bequests, and grants to the centers should be exempt from donor’s tax, and should be an allowable deduction from the donor’s gross income. The special education bill has been referred to the House appropriations and ways and means committees, which would tackle its funding provisions. Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Dava ao Orien ntal gov v deniess coursin ng PDA AF allottment too Nabccor By Judy Quiros Q and Williiamor Magbanua Inquirer Mindanao 10:17 pm | Wednesday, Ap pril 2nd, 2014

Davao Orriental Gov. Corrazon Malanyaon. INQUIRER file photo

DAVAO O CITY, Philippines—Da avao Oriental Gov. Co orazon Mala anyaon denie ed Tuesday that she eve er coursed her allotmentts from the Priority Development Assistancce Fund to th he ersial Natio controve onal Agribusiiness Corp. (Nabcorr) while she was a member of the H House esentatives.. of Repre Malanyao on issued th he denial following a TV report that sshe was amo ong 79 lawm makers who had dealings with Nabcorr involving projects supp posedly to be e implementted by boguss nongovernmental organizations. “I only he eard of this government g corporation when the D epartment o of Agriculture e informed m my congress sional office that my district would ge et mechaniccal driers,” M Malanyaon sa aid. “I have n not made Na abcor a cond duit for my PDAF P as far as a I can rem member.” She said that when she s was told d of the mech hanical drierrs, all she did d was to pro ovide the nam mes of irrigato ors and farm mer and an association of o farmers ass beneficiarie es. “I presum med that was s a legitimate e assistance e of the DA tto agricultura al provinces like ours,” Malanyao on said, add ding she nev ver participatted in the pu urchase and identification of the item ms. “Certainly y I would we elcome any item i I could bring home to my farme ers. This had d nothing to do with my PDAF,” P Mala anyaon adde ed. She said her PDAF allotment a wa as spent mos stly on wate r systems, ccovered courrts, barangay ations, villag ge electrifica ation, barang gay halls and d day care ccenters. health sta ency’s abolition. Nabcor’s s reported inv volvement in n the pork ba arrel scam le ed to the age In Kabac can, North Cotabato, 16 Nabcor workers have siince lost the eir jobs after the compan ny closed in n December last year. Rosauro Paniza, Nab bcor manager there, said each of th he employee e received P5 52,000 in separatio on pay after working there for the pa ast seven ye ears. Paniza as manager received r P10 00,000. He said the t amount was w not eno ough to supp port the displlaced emplo oyees’ familie es. Roel Igna acio, a worker at Nabcor, said he sp pent the mon ney he got to o pay debts. Ignacio said s that to support s his fa amily, he now drives a trricycle.

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Mind danao resident r ts urged d to speaak up oon Banggsamoroo accorrd Inquirer Mindanao 10:35 pm | Wednesday, Ap pril 2nd, 2014

ou Mendoza PH HOTO FROM North Cotabato Govvernor Emmylo www

DAV VAO CITY, P Philippines— —With details of how the e Com mprehensive e Agreementt on Bangsa amoro would d be implemented sttill to be spellled out, a prrovincial officcial ed ordinary ffolks in Mind danao, including those urge outs side of the p proposed covverage of Ba angsamoro auto onomous reg gion, to voicce out their ssentiments o on the mattter. But North Cotab bato Gov. Em mmylou Men ndoza said sshe was s by no mean ns being a p party spoiler by urging m more peo ople to speakk up on the ccreation of th he Bangsam moro auto onomous reg gion. “We e won’t denyy our Moro constituents tto decide wh hat they y want witho out prejudice e to Christian n communitie es. We wantt this to succ ceed, that is why we are putting forw ward our obsservations, o opinions, concerns s to guide Co ongress, (the e Bangsamo oro Transitio on Commission) membe ers to come u up with a (Bangsamoro Basic Law) that is imple ementable a nd acceptab ble to all,” Me endoza told reporters s here on Tuesday. She said that with mo ore question ns and observations raissed, the Ban ngsamoro Ba asic Law or B BBL would be ecome strong ger. Particular issues mus st be cautiou usly checked d and addre essed by both the Bangssamoro Transition Commission and Cong gress, she said. s and inclusio Mendoza a said among g the issues s that need examination e on in the draft law is thatt involving land conflic cts. “Challeng ges that mus st be addres ssed include e land confliccts, especially those with h overlapping documen nts issued by y governmen nt agencies affecting pu blic lands an nd ancestrall domain and d all those witth genuine la and titles because of a valid v sale,” M Mendoza said. h chambers of Congresss to take into In a reso olution passe ed in March this t year req questing both o considera ation specific issues with hin the territory, the Norrth Cotabato o provincial b board cited the ongoing boundary disputes among the provinces of Nortth Cotabato,, Sultan Kud darat and Maguindanao. “Procedu ures for settling such are e governed by b existing la aws and sho ould be exam mined. If thesse are not settled s underr present mo odalities, tha at issue woulld continue d despite the p passage of tthe BBL as other o claiman nts would still insist on their respect ive claims,” the resolutio on said. Hostilities s would ofte en erupt from m land conflic cts in the pro ovince, Mendoza said, cciting last year’s clash bettween farme ers and Moro o Islamic Lib beration Fron nt rebels. Mendoza a said issues s such as ind dividuals wh ho have com mmitted criminal activitiess including kidnappin ng, murder, cattle rustlin ng, land grab bbing, robbe ery, bombing g and extortio on should allso be addre essed. They should not be b allowed to o get off the hook just be ecause of th he peace dea al.

“All those with criminal cases with valid warrants of arrest must face justice. Justice should be afforded to all victims of criminality,” Mendoza said. In Buluan, Maguindanao, Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu said more interfaith dialogues should be held in cooperation with the Bishops-Ulama Council to foster greater understanding among the people of the future region. Public cooperation can only be achieved when there is an “atmosphere of understanding” in the countryside, he said. With a report from Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao

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Drilo on in tigh ht situa ation pre residing over Seenate poork proobe By Bong Lozada L INQUIRER 7:30 pm | Wednesday, W Aprril 2nd, 2014

UIRER FILE PHOTO Senate Prresident Franklin Drilon. INQU

MANILA A, Philippine es—He may be the “big guy” in the S Senate, but th his hefty sen nator has so ome tough b umps ahead d. After Se enate blue riibbon comm mittee chair Senatorr Teofisto Gu uingona III rrecommende ed that fello ow senatorss Juan Ponce e Enrile, Josse “Jinggoyy” Estrada a and Ramon ““Bong” Revilla Jr. be fi led with plun nder chargess, Senate Presiden nt Sen. Frank klin Drilon ad dmitted that he is in a “vvery difficult” situation. “It’s extre emely difficult, I will not deny d it, we are a still huma ans after all,,” Drilon told INQUIRER R Radio 99 90AM Wedne esday. “It’s difficult d but that is what w we have to fface.” at this kind o “This is a process to reveal the trruth, which I think is the first time tha of episode h has happene ed in the Philippine Sena ate.” Drilon als so downplay yed Estrada’s accusation ns that the in nvestigation regarding th heir involvem ment in the Priiority Develo opment Fund d Scam is a massacre o of the opposition. He said that t the Senate investiga ation does not n lead to an ny of Estrada’s claims a and the evide ence does not support the e beleaguere ed senator’s conclusionss. Drilon, ho owever, said d that he cou uld not blame Estrada fo or his accusa ations. “I’m not blaming b Sen nator Jinggoy y to claim that what is ha appening is considered as political persecution, but the evidence an nd findings would w not su pport the co onclusion.” Estrada allegedly a rec ceived PDAF F kickbacks amounting tto P183.79 m million while Revilla and Enrile ea ach received P224.5 million and P17 72.8 million rrespectively.. Drilon, ho owever, said d that the inv vestigation has h not dente ed his perso onal relationsship with En nrile, which he e described as a a “no prob blem” relatio onship. “He unde erstands whe ere I am com ming from, he understan nds that this is a public isssue and it cannot be helped tha at statementts would be made m publicc,” Drilon said of his pred decessor on the p Senate presidency. Drilon ad dded that no matter whatt happens, he h must defe end the Senate with his position as its president. “At this point p as the Senate S president, I’m no ot only the prresident of m majority, but the president of both the majority and d the minoritty and it’s my y responsibi lity in the insstitution and d I must defe end that instittution.” e: on-presiding-ovver-senate-porkRead more probe#ixzz z2xmQeFiPc Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

De Liima: SC C to deccide if Revilla’s R s plea vss prelim minary probee of porrk is mo oot By Christine O. Avendañño Philippine Daily D Inquirer 7:45 pm | Wednesday, W Aprril 2nd, 2014

de Lima. FILE Justice Seecretary Leila d PHOTO

MANILA A, Philippine es — Has the e petition of Senatorr Ramon Re evilla Jr., now w before the Suprem me Court and d up for oral arguments o on April 22 2 been rende ered moot an nd academicc now tha at the Ombud dsman has a approved hiss indictme ent for plund der along witth others? Justice Secretary Leila de Lima a said on Wednesd day this wou uld be for the e high court to determine e. “Let’s lea ave it to the Supreme S Co ourt to decide whether th he petition h has become moot and academic c,” De Lima told reporters, in referen nce to Revillla’s petition. De Lima was talking about the fa ate of Revilla a’s petition fo or certiorari — which he e filed on March 14 — wh here he had asked a the hiigh court to stop s the Om mbudsman frrom proceed ding with its prelimina ary investiga ation of the plunder p comp plaint filed ag gainst him b by the Nation nal Bureau o of Investiga ation. But the Ombudsman O n had already y completed d its prelimina ary investiga ation when it approved o on Tuesday the indictme ent of Revilla a as well as Senators Ju uan Ponce E Enrile and Jinggoy Estra ada, business swoman Janet Lim Napo oles, among others, for p plunder and graft in conn nection with the alleged illlegal disburrsement of th heir Priority Developmen D nt Assistance Fund. Under the rules, the Ombudsman will file the e information n against the em in the anti-graft courtt Sandigan nbayan once e it rules on the individua al motions fo or reconside eration with ffinality. Before Tuesday’s Om mbudsman’s s announcem ment of the rresults of its preliminary investigatio on R and the others, th he high courrt had set ora al argumentss on Revilla’s petition fo or against Revilla certiorari on April 22 in Baguio City C where it was w current ly holding itss annual sum mmer sessio on. Actually, from April 1 and from being handled d by the SC third divisio on, the high ccourt has decided to t hear Reviilla’s petition n as a full court and movved the oral a arguments o on April 22. The high court thoug gh did not gra ant but mere ely noted Re evilla’s appeal for a temp porary restrainin ng order (TR RO) pending the resolutio on of his pettition before it. Speaking g to reporterrs, De Lima said s since th he high court rt did not issu ue any TRO O on Revilla’ss petition fo or certiorari, there was no n legal impe ediment for the Ombudssman to rele ease its resolution on its preliiminary investigation aga ainst those a accused of p plunder and graft in the pork barrel scam. She said the high court had enou ugh time to issue i a TRO O if it were co onvinced tha at it should sstop the Ombudsman from m proceedin ng with its inv vestigation.

Revilla, who was accused of pocketing P224.5 million in kickbacks from Napoles whose fake nongovernmental organizations got his pork barrel entitlements, had gone to the high court when the Ombudsman denied twice his bid to suspend its proceedings. Meanwhile, De Lima said the Ombudsman’s approval of the indictment of Revilla and 54 others has put everything in the “right forum of the legal arena.” “Even the respondents or those accused — if this case is filed before the Sandiganbayan — would welcome this so they would have the chance to air their defense,” the justice secretary said. She said people were waiting for the Ombudsman to file the cases. Asked on the fate of Ruby Tuason and Dennis Cunanan who wanted to be state witnesses in the pork barrel scam investigation but were also recommended to be indicted by the Ombudsman, De Lima said the Ombudsman has yet to act on their request. “There is no decision yet on this issue because (the Ombudsman) first tackled their liability,” she said, adding this was the usual process. “If it was determined that Tuason and Cunanan were not liable, their application to become state witnesses will not be irrelevant,” De Lima said. Tuason, a former social secretary of former President Joseph Estrada, had executed an affidavit and testified before a Senate blue ribbon committee hearing that she delivered money to Enrile’s chief of staff, Estrada and Revilla that came from Napoles. Cunanan, on the other hand, claimed that as head of the National Agri-business Corp., he spoke to Revilla and Estrada who had lobbied for the release of their pork barrel funds to Napoles’ fake NGOs. Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Tainted horsemeat eyed in five deaths in PH Agence France-Presse 7:12 pm | Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

COTABATO – Five people are believed to have died from eating tainted horsemeat in the Philippines while as many as 60 may have consumed it, a local official said Wednesday. Four horses died from unexplained causes and their meat was given away to residents in the largely rural southern province Sultan Kudarat on March 25, Henry Albana, the province’s social welfare officer said. Many fell ill after eating it, with the town of Senator Ninoy Aquino particularly affected, Albano added. “The owners of the horses butchered them, then they distributed the meat to the residents. One of the owners was the first victim,” to die after eating the meat, said Albano. “Provincial officials are trying to locate all the others who ate the horsemeat. I estimate that as many as 60 may have eaten it,” he told AFP. Albano said some locals believed the horses died from eating grass newly-sprayed with pesticides. Health officials have yet to establish what happened. Horsemeat is not commonly eaten in the Philippines but people in impoverished rural areas often resort to unusual meat sources such as field rats or frogs.

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Binay y urges Aquino o gov’t to t be faair, charrge otheer officiaals taggeed in po ork scam m By Tarra Quismundo Q Philippine Daily D Inquirer 5:38 pm | Wednesday, W Aprril 2nd, 2014

Vice Presid dent Jejomar B Binay. FILE PHO OTO

MANILA A, Philippiness — Vice Prresident Jejo omar Binay ch hallenged the Aquino ad dministration n, on Wednessday, to provve its fairnesss in dealing with the case e stemming ffrom the Priority Develop pment Assisttance Fund (PDAF) scam and prossecute otherr tagged officials, saying g such a m move would preclude an ny political m motive in its purrsuit of prosecution. In the w ake of the in ndictment off three senattors, including g his known allies Juan Ponce Enrile and Jing ggoy Estrada a, Binay said d the case fiiled by the O Ombudsman Tuesday “iss a test of the fairness and a trustworrthiness of our o legal system.” “The cas se will also te est if the driv ve for reform ms will be blin nd to politica al motives. Iff it stops with h the filing of th he plunder cases c agains st three sena ators who arre not politiccal allies and d confines itsself to the Na apoles case, it will create e the impres ssion of bein g selective, and that political partisans ship – not jus stice – is the e sole motiva ation behind d these charg ges,” Binay ssaid in a statemen nt on Wedne esday. A special Ombudsma an panel on Tuesday file ed plunder a and graft cha arges againsst Enrile, Estrada, their fellow Senator Ram mon Revilla Jr. and deta ained busine esswoman Janet LimNapoles,, citing proba able cause in n their allege ed involvem ent in the P10-billion po ork barrel sca am. The pane el’s ruling ma arked the firrst time that incumbent ssenators werre indicted fo or plunder. Estrada is i included in n the short-list of possib ble vice presiidential betss for Binay’s presidential bid in 2016 while w Enrile has h been a long-time l op pposition allyy. e tagged in the scam, citing the Binay rec called that other legislato ors and fake e NGOs were Commiss sion on Audiit’s report in 2013. “We hope e the concerrned government agenc cies will act o on these find dings with th he same determination and fo ocus displaye ed in the Napoles case. The public w would want no less than n full accounta ability from itts public offic cials. The ru ule of law mu ust prevail re egardless of stature or political affiliations,” a Binay B said. Still, Bina ay expressed d faith in the e justice systtem. “In the ev vent that the e Ombudsma an denies the motions fo or reconside eration and p proceeds witth the filing befo ore the Sand diganbayan, I am confident that our courts will a accord the th hree senatorrs their right to a fair tria al as provide ed for by the e Constitution n,” he said.

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Palacce: Omb budsma an inveestigatin ng plund der casee of Aquiino alliees By Kristinee Angeli Sabilloo

5:16 6 pm | Wednesd day, April 2nd, 2 2014

Communication C ns Secretary Heerminio Colomaa INQUIRER FIILE PHOTO

MANILA, M Ph hilippines –M Malacañang ssaid on Wed dnesday that another a plun nder case, in nvolving adm ministration a allies, is also o being b investigated by the e Office of th he Ombudsm man. “Nakahain “ na po ‘yung ttinutukoy nin nyong kaso ssa Tanggapa an ng n Ombudsm man. Kung m maaalala nin nyo, dalawan ng kaso na ‘yung naihain n patu ungkol sa PD DAF at mero ong isang kaso tungkol ssa Malampa aya funds, att ang dalawa ang kasong binanggit ayy nasa pang gangasiwa na ngayon ng g Office of the Ombuds sman,” Com mmunications s Secretary H Herminio Co oloma told m media in a Pa alace press briefing. (The cas se you are re eferring to ha as been filed d before the Office of the e Ombudsman. If you re ecall, there are e two cases on o the Prioriity Developm ment Assista ance Fund and another ccase on the Malampa aya funds, th he two cases s mentioned are now witth the Office e of the Omb budsman.) Howeverr, he said it is s again up to o the Ombud dsman and not the Pressident to pussh through w with the case. “Kinikilala a po natin an ng pagiging independye enteng body ng Ombudssman na naa aayon sa atin ng Konstitus syon,” he said. (Let us re ecognize the e Ombudsman as an ind dependent b body in accorrdance to the Philippine Constituttion.) Coloma was w reacting g to criticism ms from some e lawmakerss indicted forr plunder tha at they are b being singled out o by the Aq quino administration. The Omb budsman on Tuesday indicted Sena ators Juan Po once Enrile,, Ramon “Bo ong” Revilla Jr. and Jose e “Jinggoy” Estrada E for plunder p beca ause of theirr alleged missuse of the P PDAF. It was the e first of the two cases filed f before the Ombuds man involvin ng the pork b barrel scam. The seco ond one, nam ming 34 resp pondents, was filed on N November 29 9 last year. A Among thosse facing co orruption and d malversatio on charges were w formerr Customs C Commissione er Ruffy Biazzon, former Ilo ocos Sur 1stt District Rep p. Salacnib Baterina, B forrmer 1st District of Dava ao Del Sur R Rep. Douglas Cagas and Marc Dougla as Cagas IV V, former Davvao del Nortte 1st Districct Rep. Arrell Olano, fo ormer South Cotabato 2n nd District Rep. R Arthur P Pingoy Jr., fo ormer 1st District of Orie ental Mindoro Rodolfo Valencia, and former f 2nd District D of Pa ampanga Re epresentative e Zenaida C CruzDucut. Both Biaz zon and Duc cut are close e administration allies. Howeverr, Malacañan ng is now dis stancing itse elf from the p probe. “Ginampanan na po ng sangay ng n ehekutibo o ang narara apat patungkkol doon sa mga naunan ng kaso. Kaya kapag ‘yu un pong kas song ‘yon ay y nasa panga angasiwa na a ng Ombudsman, at sa susunod na mga hak kbang sa Sa andiganbayan, malinaw n naman na nasa labas na op a ito ng sako ng eheku utibo,” Colom ma said. (The Exe ecutive branc ch already did d what was s needed to be done for the first casse. When the e case is filed before th he Ombudsm man, and latter with the S Sandiganbayyan, it is clear that it is beyond the jurisdictio on of the Exe ecutive.) Read more e: e-ombudsman--investigating-p plunder-case-of-aquinoallies#ixzz2 2xmR9yHFQ Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Santiiago: Ba angsam moro dea al uncon nstitutio ional By Maila Ager A INQUIRER 4:35 pm | Wednesday, W Aprril 2nd, 2014

The signin ng Comprehensive Agreemen nt on the Bangsamo oro INQUIRE FFILE PHOTO

MANILA A, Philippine es – The Com mprehensive e Agreem ment on the B Bangsamoro o recently sig gned between n the govern nment and th he Moro Isla amic Liberatio on Front (MIILF) was uncconstitutiona al, Senatorr Miriam Deffensor-Santiago said on Wednessday. Santiag o, head of th he Senate committee on n constitutiional amend dments, said the agreem ment violated d the principle of “constittutional supremacy.” “I regret that t after my y preliminary y studies, I have h conclud ded that the Framework Agreement on the Bang gsamoro is unconstitutio u nal,” she said when she e spoke durin ng the Comm mencement Exercises of Gordon College in Olongapo O Ciity. Santiago o said the agreement wa as unconstitu utional for the e following rreasons: First, she e said, it was s misleading g for the agre eement to id dentify that o one party is tthe “Philippin ne Governm ment.” “The reality is that on nly one of the three bran nches of govvernment – the executive e branch, consisting of the Office of the Pre esident actin ng through a peace panel of negotia ators – represen nted the gove ernment,” Sa antiago said. “The exe ecutive branc ch alone doe es not repres sent the Phi lippine Gove ernment. Thus, the execcutive branch, in negotiating g the agreem ment, had no o power to b bind the two other brancches – legisla ative and judic cial.” “In negottiating for the e governmen nt, I am afraid that the e executive bra anch not only exceeded its powers, but may hav ve infringed upon u the pow wers of the legislative branch,” she said. Second, when the ex xecutive branch “misrepresenting itsself as the Philippine Go overnment enters into an agreement with the rebel group,” the result is nott a mere auttonomous re egion as provvided for by our Constitutio on, but a “sub-state,” Santiago said. “Thus, th he Agreemen nt is conclud ded between n one branch h mistakenlyy identifying iitself as the government, and what will turn out o to be a su ub-state,” sh he said. Third, Sa antiago pointted out that the t Philippin ne Constituti on is suprem me and it pro ovides for th he powers of o the state. And the agreement, a she said, reserves to the e central govvernment th he exercise o of certain socalled “re eserved pow wers, which are a describe ed as powerss “retained b by the centra al governmen nt.” “Thus, th he agreemen nt diminishes s the sovereignty of the Philippine G Government by listing wh hat are the powers p that the t central government g can c retain. In n other word ds, the Agree ement attem mpts to redefin ne the soverreignty of the e Philippine state,” she ssaid. The sena ator also notted that the agreement a provides p thatt the powerss reserved to o the centrall government will depe end upon furrther negotia ation by stat ing that, “Th his list is with hout prejudicce to additiona al powers tha at may be ag greed upon by the partie es.” “Thus, th he agreemen nt not only re educes the sovereignty s o of the centra al government, but also provides that in the future, such sovereign po owers as ha ave been resserved may be further increased d, provided the t Bangsam moro agrees s.”

“It will therefore be the Bangsamoro which will determine what should be the remaining sovereign powers of the central government,” Santiago said. And fourth, Santiago believes the Bangsamoro will turn into a sub-state as shown in the following provisions: a. The powers of the central government shall be determined by the Agreement, thus turning Bangsamoro into a sub-state. b. The Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao, which is provided for by the Constitution, will be abolished by mere agreement with the MILF, which is not surprising if you consider that the Bangsamoro has become a sub-state. c. Allocation to the Bangsamoro of all powers exercised by the national government over local government units. d. Although the Constitution provides that natural resources belong to the state, in the Bangsamoro territory, only Bangsamoro will have exclusive jurisdiction over natural resources. e. The Annex on Power Sharing gives to Bangsamoro so-called “exclusive powers,” which is defined as a tautology, as “powers or matters over which authority and jurisdiction pertain to the Bangsamoro government.” f. Only the Bangsamoro shall be under a ministerial form of government, while the rest of the country will operate under a presidential form of government. g. The Agreement in Part 7, para. 4, subpara (b) enumerates the functions of the Transition Commission which at present is reportedly drafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law. One of the functions of the Transition Commission is as follows: “To work on proposals to amend the Philippine Constitution for the purpose of amending and enriching in the Constitution the agreements of the Parties whenever necessary without derogating from any prior peace agreement.” Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

3 sena ators sig gn ‘porrk’ repo ort vs En nrile, Estrada, Revillaa By Maila Ager A INQUIRER 4:01 pm | Wednesday, W Aprril 2nd, 2014

Sen. Serg gio Osmeña III. FILE PHOTO

MANILA A, Philippine es – At leastt three senattors have siigned the draft report off the Senatte blue rib bon committtee, recomm mending am mong others,, the filing off criminall charges ag gainst Senators Juan Ponce-E Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, and Ra amon “Bong”” Revilla Jr in connection n with the e pork barrel scam. The three e senators who w signed the t draft repo ort were Se enators Serg ge Osmeña IIII, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Bam Aquino. All A of them belong b to the e majority blo oc in the Senate. “Signed it, i yesterday y (Tuesday) pa,” p Osmeñ ña said in a ttext messag ge. Trillanes and Aquino o, in separate e text messa ages, also co onfirmed sig gning the dra aft report. Senator Francis “Chiiz” Escudero o, who initiatted the invesstigation on tthe scam, sa aid he has yyet to read the report beforre making a decision. Estrada’s s half-brothe er, Senator JV J Ejercito, said s he also wants to rea ad the reporrt first but sa aid he might ind dicate some e reservation ns on some of its provis ions. Both E Estrada and Ejercito belo ong to the minority bloc. Escudero o said the re eport must be e signed by the majorityy members o of the committee before it could be transmitted to plenary for approva al but the min nority group may also ccome up with its own repo ort on the iss sue. “Kung sin no ang mas maraming pirma p sa kom mite, yun ang g magiging rreport ng committee na isusumite e sa Senado o,” he said. While the e Office of th he Ombudsm man has rule ed that there e was enough basis to fille charges against Enrile, E Estrad da, Revilla and a other pe ersonalities in nvolved in th he scam, th he report alsso recomme ended the po ossible disba arment proceedings aga ainst the law wyers involve ed in the sca am like Enrile e and his forrmer chief off staff, lawye er Jessica “G Gigi” Reyes as well as p possible ethiccs investiga ation against the three se enators. e: ators-sign-porkk-report-vs-enriile-estrada-revilla#ixzz2xmRJJaoRj Read more Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Mt. Banahaw B aw to rem main la argely ooff-limitss By DJ Yapp Philippine Daily D Inquirer 3:48 pm | Wednesday, W Aprril 2nd, 2014


MANILA A, Philippiness — A large portion of M Mount n a no-go zo Banahaw w will remain one indefinite ely, as envirronment officcials study th he possibilityy of expandi ng the areass covered byy the restricttion following g the March 19 fire that razed 50 hectaress of forest. “In the w wake of the rrecent incide ences of fire in Mount B Banahaw, the e areas declared as earrly as March 9 9, 2004, will rremain ‘restricted areas’ and may be extended fu urther,” the e environment departm ment’s executive directorr in Region 4 4A, Reynulfo o Juan, said d Tuesday. Juan recently led an inspection of o the mounttain and exp pressed ama azement at th he “remarka able recovery” of portions s of the moun ntain under rehabilitation n, except tho ose that burned. He said he h agreed with w the obse ervation of th he Bureau off Fire Protecction that the e blaze could d not have bee en due to “sp pontaneous combustion” of dry grasss, considering the cool breeze and moist soiil on the mou untain. Juan said d he suspec cted it was do one by “hum mans who inssisted on go oing to the re estricted site e, who were e able to eva ade the outn numbered ra angers.” The rece ent fire also razed r some 92 hectares s of plantatio on within Mt. San Cristob bal, and wass the third repo orted to have e hit the Mou unts Banaha aw-San Crisstobal Proteccted Landsca ape (MBSCP PL) since 201 10, accordin ng to the Dep partment of Environmen nt and Natura al Resources. In 2010, two fires damaged portions of the protected p are ea in San Pa ablo City in L Laguna and Dolores town t in Quezon, coverin ng a total of 80 8 hectares . The Protected Area Managemen M nt Board (PA AMB) has de eclared certa ain portions o of the proteccted area clos sed to the pu ublic until 20 015 to allow the t rehabilita ation of its n natural resou urces damag ged by human activity. Unfortunately, people e have been n able to slip p past the co ordons into th he prohibited d area, posssibly including g the ones who might have caused the recent bl aze, the DENR said. Forester Salud Pang gan, superinttendent of th he MBSCPL who accom mpanied Juan n during the aerial ass sessment, re ecommende ed the “exten nsion and po ossible expa ansion” of the e restricted areas. She, how wever, admittted that it was difficult to o enforce the e restriction considering g the enormitty of the area compared to o the numbe er of protecte ed area rang gers assigne ed to protectt it. Mt. Bana ahaw is home to a rich biodiversity of o endemic a and indigeno ous plant and d animal spe ecies. The mystical mounta ain is a famo ous site for trrekkers and religious devotees durin ng the Lente en season. e: nahaw-to-rema ain-largely-off-l imits#ixzz2xmR RNyvHK Read more Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook


Chilee’s 8.2 quake q po oses no tsunam mi threaat to PH H By Nestorr Corrales INQUIRER 3:41 pm | Wednesday, W Aprril 2nd, 2014

MANILA,, Philippines s— The Philippine Institu ute of Volcan nology and S Seismology (Phivolcs) o on Wednesd day said there was no ts sunami threa at to the Phillippines follo owing a pow werful 8.2magnitud de earthquak ke that struc ck off Chile. “Phivolcs s does not ex xpect a desttructive tsunami threat to o the Philipp pines from th his event. Ass such no evacuation e is needed,” Phivolcs P said d in a statem ment. The quak ke, which strruck at a dep pth of 10 kilo ometers, sett off a small tsunami that forced evacuatio ons along Chile’s entire Pacific coas st. e: mi-threat-to-ph# #ixzz2xmRSmq qb8 Read more Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

10-hour power outage in Ilagan City, 6 other Isabela towns By Villamor Visaya Jr. Inquirer Northern Luzon 2:43 pm | Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

ISABELA, Philippines—Ilagan City and six other towns in here were to be without power for at least 10 hours Wednesday due to scheduled maintenance and repair work to be carried out by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines. Thirteen other towns and cities in Isabela were scheduled to have a similar power interruption on Thursday. Lilibeth Gaydowen, NGCP Northern Luzon spokesperson, said that apart from Ilagan, the other towns affected by the 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. brownout on Wednesday were Reina Mercedes, Naguilian, Benito Soliven, San Mariano, Gamu, and Burgos. NGCP workers were speeding up repair and replacement of line hardware and cables as a regular maintenance provision, she added. The NGCP also announced that it would cut power supply for the same duration to Cauayan City, Santiago City and the towns of Echague, Jones, San Agustin, San Guillermo, Alicia, Angadanan, Luna, Cabatuan, San Mateo, Ramon, and Cordon on Thursday. Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Repair of leak in Mindanao hydro power plant completed By Amy R. Remo Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:38 pm | Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—The National Power Corp. said late Tuesday the Agus 6 hydroelectric power plant in Lanao del Sur was operating normally again and generating 116 megawatts of electricity following the completion earlier in the day of repair work on its dam’s leaking blow-off pipe. One of the facility’s four generating units, however, was still shut down for regular maintenance. The plant, located in Iligan City in Lanao del Norte, was generating only 80 megawatts prior to the repair of the leaking blow-off pipe, which was first discovered in mid-March. A press statement issued by Napocor late Tuesday afternoon said the Agus 6 facility underwent specialized underwater repair work to plug a leak in the Agus 6 dam’s blow-off pipe. It said silt and clay deposits at the entrance of Units 3 and 4 penstocks where the blow-off pipe is located had to be hauled away with the use of a 35-ton crane with clamp-shell. Local divers assisted by an experienced in-house Agus 6 diver were able to pinpoint the leak and seal it by filling it with two to four inches of rock combined with stuffing materials. However, the 50-MW Unit 3 of Agus 6 remained shut down as it was undergoing a scheduled maintenance checkup, but plant personnel were working on putting it back online soonest, Napocor said. Napocor vice president for Mindanao generation Rudy P. Brioso noted that with the successful plugging of the leak, the plant management was confident the problem would not recur. The Agus 6 hydropower plant is composed of four power units. Units 1 and 2, which can generate 25 MW each, were commissioned in 1953. Units 3 and 4, which can generate 50 MW each, were commissioned in 1977. Agus 6 is part of the Agus hydropower complex which, together with the Pulangi hydropower facility, provides more than half of Mindanao’s electricity requirements.

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Savin ngs and d loan fig gure Ch harles K Keatingg dies att 90 Associated d Press 12:31 pm | Wednesday, Ap pril 2nd, 2014

In this Thu ursday, Nov. 14 4, 1991, file pho oto, Charles Ke eating Jr., adju usts his tie as h he sits in a Los Angeles courtrroom. AP

PHOENIX X, Arizona— —The financiier who was disgraced fo or his role in n the costliesst savings an nd loan failu ure of the 1980s has died d. Charles H. H Keating Jrr. was 90. A person n with direct knowledge of o the death confirmed t hat Keating died but did dn’t provide further de etails. The person p wasn’t authorized d to release the informattion and spo oke on condition of anonymity. apse of the thrift that Kea ating’s home e constructio on company bought costt taxpayers $ $2.6 The colla billion an nd tarnished the reputatio ons of Arizona Sen. Joh hn McCain and four othe er United Sta ates senators who becam me known as the “Keating g Five.” Keating became b a na ational poste er boy for co orporate gree ed as the pu ublic heard te estimony of elderly bo ondholders who w had los st their life sa avings. Keating was w convicte ed in state and federal court, c but the e convictionss were throw wn out and he agreed to o a federal plea p deal tha at freed him after a nearly five years in n prison.

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Voterrs requiired to register r anew ffor biom metrics By Vincennt Cabreza Inquirer No orthern Luzon 12:24 pm | Wednesday, Ap pril 2nd, 2014

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillates. INQU FILE PHOTO

BAGUIO CITY, Philip ppines—The e Commissio on on Electio ons (Comele ec) is implem menting reforms in preparration for the e 2016 presid dential electtions by requ uiring 9.6 million registerred voters to o return forr new registrration and to o affix their biometric b sig natures and d data inform mation. Comelec c Chairman Sixto S Brillanttes said with hout the biom metrics, vote ers may not b be able to vo ote for their new n leaders. He said the t Comelec c has also in nstituted new w programs tto ease votin ng for seniorr citizens, the e disabled,, and indigen nous Filipino os. “It’s up to o our nine million voters to come and d they will no ot be disenfrranchised. T The biometrics readings will begin on May 6 and d will continu ue until Octo ober 2015,” h he added.

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Palacce: Omb budsma an acted d indep pendenttly on grraft rap ps vs sollons By Kristinee Angeli Sabilloo INQUIRER 11:59 am | Wednesday, Ap pril 2nd, 2014

Communica ations Secretarry Herminio Coloma. INQUIRE ER FILE PHOTO O

MANILA,, Philippines s – Is six mon nths too fastt to find prob bable cause and indict la awmakers fo or plunder? Malacañang on Wedne esday said it cannot answ wer for the O Office of the Ombudsma an. “Iginagalang namin ang a pagiging g independiy yente ng Om mbudsman,” Communica ations Secretary Herminio o Coloma said in a text message m to media, m implyying that Pre esident Benigno Aquino III had no hand at the in nvestigations s. (We resp pect the inde ependence of o the Ombud dsman.) The Omb budsman on Tuesday indicted Sena ators Juan Po once Enrile,, Ramon Revvilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada, E bus sinesswoma an Janet Lim-Napoles an nd several otthers for plu under. But mediia reports sa aid Estrada, who faces 11 counts of graft, questioned the sp peed of the investiga ation. Coloma, however, insisted that the investiga ation was bassed on evide ence. “Ebidens sya, hindi personalidad, ang batayan n ng resolusyyong ito,” Co oloma said. (Evidenc ce, and not personality, p is the basis of o the decisi on.) Estrada earlier e comp plained that they t were be eing singled out by the a administratio on while Aqu uino’s allies were spared.

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Colleeagues won’t w fo orce En nrile, Esttrada, R Revilla tto go on n leave By Maila Ager A INQUIRER 2:15 pm | Wednesday, W Aprril 2nd, 2014

Senators Juan Ponce En nrile, Jinggoy E Estrada and Ram mon Revilla Jr.. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS

MANILA A, Philippine es—Senate Preside ent Franklin D Drilon is now w leaving it u up to the consscience of th he three sen nators, facing gs plunderr charges in connection w with the porkk barrel s cam, whethe er or not to ttake a leave e of absence e from the S Senate. The thre ee were Sen nators Juan Ponce-Enrile, Jose “Jin nggoy” Estra ada, and Ram mon “Bong” Revilla Jr. “Well, tha at is a matte er addressed d to their con nscience, forr their own ju udgement,” Drilon said in an interview w Tuesday when asked iff Enrile, Estrrada and Re evilla should take a leave e now that th he Office of the Ombuds sman found enough bas sis to charge e them in cou urt. “We mus st rememberr that the dec cision of the Sandiganba ayan is still ssubject for a motion for reconside eration as pe er procedure e at the offic ce of the Om mbudsman,” tthe Senate lleader added. Senator Francis “Chiiz” Escudero o, who initiatted the Sena ate investiga ation on the ““pork barrel”” scam, sa aid the issue on whetherr or not to tak ke a leave w would be a “vvoluntary acct” on the parrt of the three e senators. Escudero o said the Se enate could not pass a resolution r fo orcing their ccolleagues to o take a leavve from the chamber. “They are e free to dec cide on that. It’s not for me m to dictate e unless the committee o on ethics willl be formed once o and for all, and com mes up with a finding eith her to suspe end them, force them to take a leave, or o remove th hem,” he saiid in Filipino in an interviiew over rad dio on Wedn nesday. But Estra ada, in a sep parate radio interview, sa aid he would d continue to o go to the S Senate unlesss he is suspen nded by the Sandiganba ayan. “Depende naman sa husgado ya an. Depende e sa Sandiga abayan. Sye empre pag in nisyuhan kam mi ng warrant of o arrest, paa ano kami pa apasok? Gan nun lang ‘yu n. Ako papa asok pa rin a ako sa Senad do,” (It depen nds on the judge. It depe ends on the Sanidganba S ayan. Of course if a warrrant of arrestt is issued ag gainst us, ho ow can we go g to work? But B I will stilll go to the Senate) e: gues-wont-forcce-enrile-estrad da-revilla-to-go o-onRead more leave#ixzz2xmRwtKuH Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Zamboanga folk rally: ‘We’ve had enough’ Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:07 am | Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

ZAMBOANGA CITY—At least 700 protesters, mostly evacuees, students, Moro professionals and members of nongovernment and civil society groups, staged a rally here Wednesday saying they’ve had enough of subhuman conditions in shelters for residents displaced by the fighting between followers of Nur Misuari and government soldiers in September last year. The protesters directed their anger at Mayor Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, accusing her of corruption, incompetence and human rights violations. The mayor, the protest leaders said, is prolonging the agony of Muslim evacuees in shelters here. The Inquirer tried but failed to reach Salazar for comment. A staffer of hers said she was in Singapore. Mucha Sim Arquiza, speaking on behalf of Moro women group Al-Mu’Minat, said Muslim evacuees have long wanted to leave the shelters but the city government is not doing anything to relocate the people. “We have had enough,” Arquiza said. “205 days homeless is long enough. 120,000 displaced is too much and 108 people dead in congested evacuation centers is far too many,” she added. “We decided to stop counting our dead because one death is too many. We are starting to count the failure and ineptitude of this government,” Arquiza said. Warina Sushil Jukuy, coordinator of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (Pahra) in Western Mindanao, said the city government uprooted families without knowing where to put them or checking if the shelters are livable. Even people who have not been affected by the terror attack on the city by Misuari’s men and the government siege to flush them out have been uprooted, said Jukuy. Jukuy said families from the villages of Mariki and Rio Hondo “were coerced to evacuate and abandon their homes.” “Yet, these zones are areas where the armed conflict or actual combat never took place,” Jukuy said. Prof. Alih Aiyub, secretary general of the National Ulama Conference of the Philippines, said his group has been meeting with city officials to find a solution but city officials offered only promises. “We regularly communicate with the mayor,” said Aiyub. “She’s meeting us and keeps on promising that rebuilding, relocation, rehabilitation will be done within six months,” added the professor. “She promised that by March, the IDPs (internally displaced persons) will start to move and see better changes. It’s April now and people are dying in the evacuation centers,” Aiyub said. Julie S. Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

D&L sees lift from food products demand Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:43 am | Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

SINGAPORE—Publicly-listed D&L Industries Inc., the country’s leading specialty and commodity food ingredients provider, expects to grow profits by nearly a fifth this year as profit margins continue to improve on the back of sales of higher-value products. D&L vice president and chief financial officer Alvin Lao said profits would rise between 15 and 19 percent this year, slower than last year’s 41-percent expansion. D&L has not yet released its full-year 2013 earnings report. “It’s fairly conservative,” said Lao, speaking at the sidelines of Maybank Kim Eng’s Invest Asean forum this week in Singapore. “We don’t want to overpromise. At the start of the year, many of our customers said they were expecting a slowdown in their businesses, but we’re not seeing that.” Lao said the country’s domestic demand-driven growth should continue to drive demand for D&L products that are used in finished goods sold to consumers. For instance, Lao said the company initially expected sales in its low-margin commodities business to be either down or flat at best. “It’s actually growing a lot,” he said. “Food is one part that we’re constantly surprised to grow faster than anticipated. We have so many factors going for us in the Philippines,” Lao said. “We have a young average age, our population growth among the fastest in the region and our GDP growth is high.” He said the government’s crackdown on smuggling has also helped support sales of D&L commodities products. Lao said sales of D&L’s higher-margin specialty fats and oil products have also improved due to strong demand from consumers.—Paolo G. Montecillo Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

PH does d no ot fear ‘econo omic b backlas sh’ from m Chin na By Kristinee Angeli Sabilloo INQUIRER 3:15 pm | Wednesday, W Aprril 2nd, 2014

Communiccations Secretary y Herminio Colom ma (INQUIRER FIILE PHOTO) an nd Chinese Foreig gn Ministry spok kesperson Hong L Lei (AP FILE PHOT TO)

MANILA A, Philippine es – Who is a afraid of China? Not the Philippines. Malacañ ñang on We ednesday said it will prottect the coun ntry’s nation nal interest, including its econom my, in the facce of threats from China over maritime e disputes in n the West P Philippine Se ea. “It is the e duty of govvernment to promote the e welfare of o its citizens s and to ensu ure the orde erly and stab ble growth off our nationa al economy,”” Commun nications Sec cretary Herm minio Coloma said in a p press briefing g. The state ement came e a day after Chinese Fo oreign Minist ry spokespe erson Hong L Lei warned tthat the Philip ppines “will have h to take the consequences caussed by its prrovocative actions.” Coloma did d not elabo orate on how w exactly the e Aquino adm ministration will addresss possible sanctions s from China a, stating ins stead that its s preparation ns were “a ccontinuing du uty of government.” The Secrretary also downplayed d China’s pron nouncementts that the government’ss decision to o push thro ough with arrbitration beffore the United Nations ((UN) Interna ational Tribunal for the L Law of the Se ea (ITLOS) seriously s inju ured the two countries’ b bilateral ties. Coloma said s the Phillippine government belie eves that Ph hilippine-Chin na relations extend beyo ond the Westt Philippine Sea S issue. “Iyong pa akikipagugna ayan natin sa s People’s Republic R of C China ay ma ayroong kassaysayan na batay din n sa pakikipa agkaibigan at a pakikipagttulungan. Ma arami pong llarangan na maaaring maisulon ng o maitagu uyod ang koo operasyon at a ang pakiki pagkaibigan n ng dalawan ng bansa,” h he said. (Our rela ationship with h the People e’s Republic of China ha as a history b based on frie endship and d cooperattion. There are a a lot of areas where we w can esta ablish and prromote the ccooperation and friendship between th he two coun ntries.) ary, Finance e Secretary Cesar C Purisima gave a ssimilar statement, pointing out that tthe In Februa two coun ntries do not have a “one e-dimensiona al relationsh hip.” China remained one of the counttry’s biggestt trading part rtners last ye ear amid the ongoing maritime dispute in West W Philippine Sea. Philippine or 79 percen e exports to China reach hed $746.82 2 million last December o nt up the yea ar before, making m it the country’s th hird largest export e marke et. Meanwhile, goods im mported from m China, th he Philippine es’ biggest so ource of imp ports, reache ed $671.12 m million in No ovember. e: http://busines es-not-fear-eco onomic-backlassh-from-china# #ixzz2xmXXxbllD Read more Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Grou up urge es pas ssage of o ‘com mpetitio on law’’ Key to gen nerating jobs, re educing poverty ty By Amy R. Remo Philippine Daily D Inquirer 3:42 am | Thursday, T April 3rd, 3 2014

Filipino fo ood entrepreneurrs display their products at the Sikat Pino oy National Food Fair at Megatrade on Marrch 28, 2014. The the SM M e Chamber of Commerce and Ind dustry Philippine has presssed the enactmen nt of a Competition Law to fu rther boost inves stments and employment as well as en nsure inclusive growth. PHOTO BY Y RICK ALBERTO O

MANIL LA, Philippine es-The Philipp pine Chambe er of Comme erce and Ind dustry, the ccountry’s biggest business organizattion, has presse ed the enactm ment of a Compe etition Law to o further boo ost investm ments and employment as well ass ensure inclusive growth h. “An asssurance of ffair competition will be conductive to the entry of new bu usinesses an nd expansio on of existing g companiess important tto creatin ng employme ent and easing of povertyy,” PCCI pre esident Alfredo M. Yao o said on We ednesday. Yao exxplained thatt the Compe etition Law wou uld help level the playing g field for all investors ass this would e ensure fair p pricing, provvide wider cho oice of good ds in the marrket and avo oid mergers o or trade com mbinations th hat exclude w weak companie es. A fair com mpetition law w has been an a advocacy y of the PCC CI as this will sharpen th he country’s competitive advantag ge and foste er a healthy business b en vironment th hat, in turn, w will spread the benefits of o fast econo omic growth h. “These potential p benefits—innov vation, betterr products an nd services,, more choicces and a mo ore competitive economy y—are what all we hope e to enjoy ass we develop p and implem ment a Competittion Law,” Ya ao added. Yao poin nted out that the necessity for clear anti-trust a rule es or a struccture for fair competition would be ecome more apparent as s the Philipp pines move to o negotiate for and sign n more internatio onal trade ag greements. “The full realization of o Asean’s economic inte egration (thrrough the Assean Econom mic Commun nity) and incre easing intere est to particip pate in otherr free-trade a agreementss such as the e Regional Compreh hensive Economic Partn nership (RCE EP) and the Trans Pacifiic Partnersh hip (TPP)—

developments which may require more liberal policies beyond mere deregulation, privatization and removal of reasonable trade barriers—will definitely affect commercial activity,” Yao said. “While these economic partnership agreements have the potential to generate more investments, they are as likely to generate anti-competitive threats,” he added. The Asean Economic Community, which will be established by 2015, will transform the 10 member-states of the Asean into a single market and production base. This presents dynamic competition and vast opportunities with the free flow of goods, services, skilled labor, investments and capital. RCEP is a proposed free-trade agreement between the 10 member-countries of Asean and their six FTA partners, namely China, Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, while the TPP is deemed the Philippines’ only chance to have a trade agreement with the United States, currently one of the country’s biggest bilateral partners.

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PH improves standing as world trade destination Philippines now ranks 64th of 138 economies assessed By Amy R. Remo Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:30 am | Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines continued to improve its standing as a viable business destination as it advanced eight notches in the World Economic Forum’s enabling trade index, to rank 64th of 138 economies. The current rank is better than the country’s position in 2012, when it ranked 72nd of 132 economies. In 2010 it ranked 92nd of 125 economies rated, results of “The Global Enabling Trade Report 2014” showed. Among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the Philippines trailed behind Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, but placed higher than Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao DPR and Myanmar. The Global Enabling Trade Report 2014 assesses the performance of 138 economies, in four main areas: market access; border administration; infrastructure; and the operating environment. It uses a methodology that measures the extent to which economies have in place institutions, policies, infrastructure and services facilitating the free flow of goods over borders and to their destination. These trade-enabling factors were organized in seven more specific pillars: domestic market access; foreign market access; efficiency and transparency of border administration; availability and quality of transport infrastructure; availability and quality of transport services; availability and use of ICTs; and operating environment. “The Philippines ranks 64th on the ETI, and 5th within Asean. The country does well on the domestic market access (ranking 19th) and foreign market access (26th) pillars, but room for improvement remains with respect to the other five pillars of the index,” the report stated. “Border administration (where the Philippines ranked 71st) is mired by corruption and red tape, two factors also contributing to weakening the general operating environment (82nd). Like many countries in the region, the Philippines’ biggest weakness is the lack of adequate transport infrastructure (96th). The shortcomings are the most severe in the airport (105th) and port (107th) infrastructure. To make things worse, the availability and quality of associated logistics services remains largely insufficient (84th),” it further reported. Singapore, meanwhile, took the top spot of the Enabling Trade Index 2014. Hong Kong placed second in the scale, followed by New Zealand, Finland, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Chile, Sweden and Germany, which rounded up the index’s top 10 countries. Peter V. Perfecto, executive director of the Makati Business Club, said that despite persistent challenges, the Philippines enjoys competitive advantages in 15 areas of the 56 indicators, namely “specific tariffs, tariffs faced, cost to export, cost to import, tariff dispersion, ease and affordability of shipment, available international airline seats in kilometers per week, customs services index, access to finance, share of duty-free imports, number of distinct tariffs, efficiency of clearance process, tariff rate, number of days to import, and ICT use for business to business transactions.” Makati Business Club noted that, regarding difficulties in facilitating inbound and outbound trade, the Global Enabling Report identified the top five export problems of the Philippines. These include high costs or delays caused by domestic transportation, access to imported

inputs at competitive prices, technical requirements and standards abroad, identifying potential markets and buyers, and difficulties in meeting quality/quantity requirements of buyers. On the subject of importation, the top five problems were burdensome import procedures, corruption at the border, tariffs, high cost or delays caused by domestic transportation, and high cost or delays caused by international transportation.

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Farm ming villlage say ys: We have h ab beauty q queen Philippine Daily D Inquirer 12:05 am | Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

MJ LASTIMOSA d during the long gown competition on the nig ght she e was crowned d Bb. Pilipinas-U Universe at the e pageant venu ue Sm mart Araneta Co oliseum in Queezon City.RICHA ARD A. REYES TU ULUNAN, North h Cotabato—Th his second-classs agricultural tow wn’s first encou unter with being g in the headlin nes was ugly— —April 1985 when Italian n missionary prriest Tulio Fava ali was murderred for being a guerrilla ssupporter by m militiamen led b by the notoriouss anero brothers.. Ma Tw wenty-nine yearrs later, it would hog the head dlines again bu ut in a lite erally beautiful w e country’s new west way—as the hometown of the beauty queen, Bi nibining Pilipin nas-Universe M Mary Jean Lastiimosa. ultural town of a at least 59,000 0 people is a be eehive This highly agricu of activity these d days because o of Lastimosa. nown here as M MJ, the beauty queen’s homeccoming is highly Kn anticipated in a to own where dailly lives revolve e around farmin ng, arts are still mo odes of transpo orting goods an nd carrabao-pulled ca loc cal gossip cente ers around the e personal livess of neighbors. Local folks know how the town celebrates its ffeasts—food ove erflows, people e dress in theirr best, decoratio ons fill the stre eets. Fo or MJ, howeverr, the town is exxpected to bettter its best. mar Almerante e, chair of the vvillage of Sibsib b, said the entirre Jom population of the town could stilll not contain th heir happiness at MJ J’s achievemen nt no matter if d days had already passed sincce news about her w winning the pre estigious contesst broke. That there is an o outpouring of jo oy over MJ’s su uccess is an understatement. The village counccil of Sibsib, acccording to Alm merante, is now w pre eparing a resol ution declaring g MJ as “pride o of Barangay Siibsib.” “W We have a Ms U Universe,” said Almerante, wh hose village has a population of at le east 4,000 and d is considered to be one of o only two o commercial d districts of the ttown. Ma ayor Lani Cand dolada said the ere would be a hero’s welcome for MJ J. What sets th e preparationss apart, said Ca andolada, is tha at ord dinary folks are e offering to help. As s in many journ eys, MJ’s startted here where e she spent herr years as a child. Ca andolada recall ed MJ as a barrio lass who w was at practicallly eve ery beauty con ntest in the tow wn’s villages beffore she heade ed for Da avao City to sta art a modeling ccareer. Ac ccording to Can ndolada, MJ’s h homecoming iss likely to happe en in Se eptember when n the province ccelebrates its ccentennial. Un ntil then, this tow wn is likely to ccontinue to bassk in MJ’s gloryy and sta art to adjust to ffame brought b by beauty, not ugly notoriety. William mor A. Magban nua, Inquirer M Mindanao

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PH stocks continue to climb Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:31 am | Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—The local stock barometer rose for the fourth straight session on Wednesday, breaching 6,600 in intraday trade alongside an upbeat Wall Street and regional trading mood. The main-share Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) gained 73 points, or 1.12 percent, to close at 6,587.72. The index hit an intraday peak of 6,602.82 before paring gains at the close, marking a new high for the year. Risk appetite was boosted by Tuesday’s breakout from crucial resistance levels alongside favorable US factory data in March that sent the S&P index to record highs overnight. Dealers said the day’s rise was fueled by foreign investors loading up on local equities. Based on PSE data, there was about P1.4 billion in net foreign buying for the day. Value turnover was heavy at P11.42 billion, including some block transactions on Metrobank and Alliance Global Inc. There were 103 advancers that beat 61 decliners while 40 stocks were unchanged. Investors snapped up shares of Megaworld, Ayala Corp. and URC, which all surged more than 3 percent. Ayala Land, Petron and GT Capital also rose more than 2 percent while SM Prime, AGI and BDO gained by 1 percent. JG Summit, SMIC, PLDT, Metrobank, Metro Pacific Investments and DMCI also contributed to the day’s gains. Doris C. Dumlao

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MVP camp seen buying into Victorias Milling By Doris C. Dumlao Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:25 am | Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—The group of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is keen on scaling up its interest in the local sugar industry by seeking a foothold in the country’s biggest sugar firm, Victorias Milling Corp. Inquirer sources said Pangilinan’s group was interested in buying into VMC with the help of the Metrobank group of tycoon George Ty. An initial 7-percent block long held by the Metrobank group has already been committed to Pangilinan’s group, the sources said. But as Pangilinan’s group aims for the controlling stake whenever it invests in any company, it is seen scouting for other blocks in the sugar firm. The Metrobank group has long held shares in VMC as one of the latter’s original creditors before undergoing a rehabilitation program. The group’s stake in VMC is broken down as follows: 2.94 percent held through Global Business Bank (absorbed by the parent bank in early 2002), 2.48 percent through parent bank Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. and 1.9 percent through thrift banking arm Philippine Savings Bank, based on the latest VMC disclosure of top 100 stockholders. On Monday, Pangilinan told reporters at the sidelines of the signing of the concession agreement for the automated collection fare system project with the Ayala group that his group was looking at several opportunities in the sugar industry but he declined to name any targeted company. The First Pacific group led by Pangilinan entered the Philippine sugar industry last year with the acquisition of a 31-percent interest in Roxas Holdings, the country’s third-biggest sugar refiner and largest sugar miller for P2.23 billion. The investment was made through First Pacific Natural Resources Holdings BV. On Friday last week, about 162.8 million shares of VMC were traded through two block transactions at the Philippine Stock Exchange at a price of P4.38 a share, 19-percent higher than the previous day’s closing price of P3.68 per share. The P713-million transactions were done through First Metro Securities. It remains to be seen whether this same block had already been transferred to any company under Pangilinan’s group. Any substantial change in ownership (above 5 percent) is required to be reported to securities regulators within five days. The Lucio Tan group controls a significant block in VMC. The taipan’s group is also seen making a move to buy more shares from the open market in what stock pundits expect as a consolidation of control in VMC, which is a key sugar supplier to the group’s beverage unit Tanduay Distillery.

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Like It Is

The bucket list By Peter Wallace Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:24 am | Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

We’ve seen remarkable change in the past three years. And it’s been in the most important area: attitude, or how people think about themselves and their country. There’s a confidence and optimism in business that had gone underground under Gloria Arroyo and we’d lost hope. Well, hope is back. And it shows where I think it matters, in how the world sees us. Almost every comparative measure has seen a reversal of a declining trend, to a positive one. It showed most dramatically in getting an investment-grade credit rating, something for which Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima can be justly credited. He got it by what is sadly lacking too often elsewhere: a singleminded determination to achieve. And that single-minded determination has accomplished a peace agreement, too. Let’s just hope it doesn’t somehow get derailed. And it’s achievement where I see the government at its weakest. I’m an action man (not, I hasten to say, of the type that sells movies); I make lists, and I do them. Last week I suggested that the government should have a bucket list, or a list of things to do before it (figuratively) kicks the bucket. And let me start with one I’ve often argued for: a Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). I’m at a total loss to know why the President resists this. It’s the only sector where the Philippines is already the leader in one subsector and up near the top in another. It’s the only sector that is the future; all the rest rest on their laurels of the past, and drift along just building on that past. As I said in my Feb. 6 column: DICT is not addition. Close down the Department of Transportation and Communications and move transport to the Department of Public Works and Highways, where it more correctly fits, and put communications into this new department as a subsector, which in this modern world it now is. The bush telegraph has been replaced, the world is computerized—and being computerized at frightening speed. Are we to be left behind? Again? Mr. President, the country’s future needs it. Let’s just do it. Then I’d bring the Constitution into the modern world. The sectors that will be opened up won’t lead to dramatic direct investments in those sectors, but will certainly lead to some that will greatly help. More importantly, it will level the playing field. This will send a message that this is truly a free, open economy that treats everyone equally. The world will take notice. I want a decision on where the international airport will be made by July 1, to be announced at the State of the Nation Address, and construction started by July 1, 2015, for the next Sona. No more pussyfooting, no more studies, no more arguments. It’s all been done, all been discussed, for an incredible 20 years now. Just decide, and do it. They say that on one’s death bed one doesn’t regret what one has done but what one hasn’t done. On June 30, 2016, don’t regret what you haven’t done. I’d like to put in about here the construction of an expressway to the south along Laguna de Bay, but then I’d be sounding like a politician because my house is at the end. Nonetheless, despite my self-serving desire, it is a necessary road, as is the viaduct on which it would be built to protect Laguna against flooding. This flooding occurs annually and will get worse as the world heats up.

It’s time to override the objectors, valid though some of their points may be. Approve the 600megawatt Subic power plant now. I’d hate to see P-Noy go out in darkness, but if we don’t have new power started now, he will. Prioritize the freedom of information bill. Exempt Cabinet discussions, but not the outcome. Throw out the mandated right of reply. The pork barrel scam showed just how necessary it is. It’s been promised for an incredible 22 years. Take half the buses off Edsa and impose no stopping anywhere for anyone, for any reason, except buses at bus stops that, wherever possible, are off the road. Also, revolutionize the tax system. Reduce income tax to 25 percent and increase value-added tax to 15 percent. Pay when you spend, not when you earn. If the system is properly structured, there’ll be no loss of revenues but an increase, while the public will pay no more. It’s harder to evade the VAT. I know that government democracies are different, but do they have to be? If all these actions were being considered in the private sector, the decisions would be made in months, not years. They’d go out of business if they took years. I suggest that the President put this as a priority on his bucket list: Massively speed up and simplify bureaucratic decision-making. The people will love him even more. Without going into details of why, let me list some others that, if done, can lead to a much improved Philippines, and a President leaving in glory: • Fully computerize all government services and integrate into a holistic system (this needs the DICT to be effectively done, and will help achieve quick decision-making). • Reduce business registration to one form, one day, one office. • Help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) get credit at fair rates. • Take it beyond plans and promises and start construction of all the infrastructure tourism needs. These are all doable actions within the President’s remaining years, all things that can be done if the will to do them is there. I’ve concentrated on economic/business issues because that’s where my expertise (what there is of it) lies. I leave other issues to others; I hope they raise them. Let’s have a bucket list that gets done before it is kicked. There’s more, but I have no more space. Let’s do it.

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Public Lives

Moral progress and the pork barrel 1:22 am | Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

We welcome the Ombudsman’s decision to file plunder and graft and corruption charges against Senators Enrile, Estrada and Revilla and several others who have been implicated in the P10-billion pork barrel scam. But, knowing how our legal system works, we would be naive to think that the trial may now smoothly proceed. The main defendants in these cases are by no means retired politicians who no longer wield political power. They are among the wealthiest, wiliest, and most influential figures of our society. They have shown that they are ready to use any information they can lay their hands on to attack the credibility of the justice system and to divert the public’s attention away from their crimes. They can at any point deploy their comprehensive powers against any government official who crosses their path. Be that as it may, we should not forget one arena in which the campaign for modern governance has made astonishing progress. And that is the public sphere, a crucial space in the modern political system that has been greatly enhanced by the power of social media. We must not underestimate the gains that have been won on this terrain in just less than a year. It is well to remind ourselves of the nature of these gains because having them in mind will help us keep our focus on what really matters. We might start by recalling that before that historic 14-0 Supreme Court vote declaring the pork barrel system known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) unconstitutional on Nov. 19, 2013, it had pronounced the same practice constitutional on three previous occasions—in 1994, 2001 and 2012. As if to remove any doubt about the meaning of its latest ruling, the high court declared the pork barrel as “illegal on its face” and “unrelated to the power of congressional oversight.” It likewise declared as patently unconstitutional all such formal or informal practices of a similar nature that were committed in the past. Clearly, what changed here was not the practice but the perspective from which the high court viewed it. I call this moral progress. This change in attitude may be a bit less visible in P-Noy’s case, but, to his credit, he has shown no hesitation in deploying the full force of government in order to bring the guilty to justice. When the pork barrel scam first hit the news, his initial reaction was to denounce the abuse of what he thought was basically a good thing. Facing the press after he addressed a conference on the Filipino language at Ateneo de Manila University on Aug. 19, 2013, he said: “As in everything else, there are good uses and bad uses…. If we scrap [the PDAF], then we presume that the national government knows all our needs and attends to these all the time, and I believe that’s a little farfetched.” A few days later, he ordered the suspension of all PDAF releases. On Aug. 23, 2013, at a special press briefing held in Malacañang on precisely the same issue, he delivered his “Time to abolish PDAF” speech. This was just three days before the antipork barrel gathering known as the “Million People March,” and was obviously timed to take the wind out of the sails of the Luneta protest march. While distancing himself from the abuses associated with the pork barrel, however, P-Noy continued to defend the “worthy goal” behind its inception during his mother’s presidency. “In 1990, what we now know as PDAF was established for a worthy goal: to enable your representatives to identify projects for your communities that your [local government unit] cannot afford. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this policy. But what is wrong—indeed, what has outraged our people—was the collusion among a former president ready to trade favors just to remain in power, legislators and members of the bureaucracy who were willing to conspire,

enabled by a passive and indifferent citizenry. All these factors put together make PDAF prone to abuse.” The Arroyo presidency’s insecurities may have aggravated the abuse of the pork barrel system. But, it is not accurate to assign exclusive authorship of the pork barrel scam to the Arroyo administration. The whole system itself was from the start designed to institutionalize the most dysfunctional components of traditional politics. Even where no kickback is paid, this manner of allocating public funds goes against the basic principles of sound governance. These are enshrined in the 1987 Constitution—a modern document if there is one—in the provisions on separation of powers. Instead of merely railing against its abuses, the Supreme Court in 2013 struck down the whole system as unconstitutional. So deeply entrenched are the ways of traditional politics in our highly unequal society that one would not have expected the political system to heal itself of its bad habits by its own initiative. It was the mass media, the new social media, and, finally, the justice system that exposed the system’s blind spots. But, we have only seen the tip of the iceberg. I suspect that if all the cases for which there is evidence were seriously pursued, only a handful of our legislators would remain untainted. A sure sign that we have lost the issue to politics would be if the justice department and the Ombudsman stopped with the three opposition senators. We should demand of every politician who has ever been a member of Congress between 1990 and 2013 that he/she render a detailed account of how and where they spent their pork barrel allotments during their incumbency—particularly if they are planning to run for public office in the next elections. Only in this manner can we keep the cause of good governance alive. *** Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

JV Ejercito, Nancy Binay question release of unsigned draft report By Norman Bordadora Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:14 am | Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—Opposition senators have cast doubt on the propriety of Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III’s release of the Senate blue ribbon committee’s unsigned draft report that found merit in the filing of plunder charges against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla, Jr. Sen. JV Ejercito and Sen. Nancy Binay, minority’s members in the committee, said they weren’t consulted on the draft report and Guingona’s decision to release it to the media. “It would have been better had he given the members of the blue ribbon committee the courtesy of showing the draft report before making it public,” Ejercito said in a text message. “At least, we could have indicated our reservations or objections if there are any to the report.” Binay said Guingona should’ve been more circumspect. “We even have yet to see the report…. So technically, it’s not yet official,” she said in a statement. Sen. Francis Escudero, who sought the blue ribbon inquiry on the pork barrel scam, said Guingona’s report may have been a draft but it was certainly official. “All the documents emanating from the Senate or any of its committees are official documents. But only that it is only a draft until majority of the members sign,” Escudero said. Escudero said that if majority of the blue ribbon panel members sign, it becomes the committee report that will be presented to the Senate plenary. If the minority disagrees and comes up with its own report, both reports will be presented to be voted upon by the plenary. “Did TG [Guingona’s nickname] do something wrong when he presented the report? I think not,” Escudero said. Escudero said the report has long been awaited by the public. Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, who’s also a member of the committee, said Guingona sought her go-ahead before he released the unsigned report. “He had a person ask me if I had any objection and I said no. That is the prerogative of the chairman of the committee,” Santiago said. “We also want to impress the public that we ourselves are not lacking in zeal and diligence even if we are pursuing charges against our colleagues,” she added.

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Aquino allies in next batch to be charged By Nancy C. Carvajal Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:27 am | Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—The next batches of complaints on the misuse of the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and other state resources will include allies of President Aquino, according to a source who has knowledge of the investigation being conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation. The source also said that the investigations had been expanded to include dubious nongovernment organizations (NGOs) not controlled by Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the P10-billion pork barrel scam that has prompted her indictment for plunder, along with Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. “The next complaints will include names allied with the current administration and even members of the Liberal Party,” the source said. The source added that the NBI had started its preparation for the next batch and would soon submit its report to the Office of the Ombudsman. “It could be at the end of the month or early May,” the source said. The source added that the next batches of lawmakers were to be charged with misuse of PDAF funds reaching P50 million, the threshold for plunder. “These will be filed as soon as the paper trail and documentation are completed,” the source said. The source declined to say if more senators would be among those to be charged. Financial records provided by Benhur Luy, a former Napoles employee who has turned state witness, would be part of the evidence to be submitted to the Ombudsman against the new batch of respondents. The source added that like the first set of cases, the next batches would also be using as evidence the testimonies and documentary evidence submitted by the whistle-blowers, Commission on Audit reports and other documents from the implementing agencies. Non-PDAF funds In earlier interviews, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima stated that the next complaints to be filed could also involve non-PDAF funds, but still using Napoles-controlled organizations. De Lima has also said the new cases would involve not PDAF-funded projects but the special projects of certain departments that were coursed through Napoles’ NGOs and whose funds were also misused. The COA report listed a number of legislators allegedly involved in questionable transactions amounting to P541.7 million. The list included administration Representatives Niel Tupas Jr. and Isidro Ungab, and Director General Joel Villanueva of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. Implicated in a subsequent batch of cases filed in the Ombudsman was former Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon, a member of President Aquino’s Liberal Party. On Nov. 30, 2013, the NBI filed malversation charges against former Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon and 27 others, including Zenaida Cruz-Ducut, the chair of the Energy Regulatory Commission, along with Napoles and several former members of the House of Representatives. The other former congressmen included in the complaint were Salacnib Baterina, first district, Ilocos Sur; Arrel Olano, first district, Davao del Sur; Arthur Pingoy Jr., second district, South Cotabato; Rodolfo Valencia, first district, Oriental Mindoro; and Douglas Cagas and his son Marc Douglas IV, both from the first district of Davao del Sur. They were charged with malversation, direct bribery, graft and corrupt practices.

On Oct. 3, 2013, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, three of her Cabinet secretaries and 20 others, Napoles included, were charged with plunder in connection with the alleged theft of P900 million from the Malampaya Fund meant for storm victims in 2009. Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Palace monitoring oil prices By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 3, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The government is closely monitoring the movement of oil prices in the country as it prepares to help the transport sector if the need arises. Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said yesterday the Land Transportation, Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is closely watching the situation and would decide on a fare hike depending on the justification. “There is a process that needs to be followed and that is being enforced by the LTFRB,” Coloma said, adding everyone should adhere to the process. He said the oil industry has long been deregulated but the administration has taken action in the past, such as giving subsidy to drivers of public utility vehicles. The subsidy was also meant to ease the burden on commuters brought by the fare increase. On proposals to suspend the value added tax (VAT) on petroleum products, Coloma said this would be up to lawmakers to decide. “The Palace will implement measures approved by Congress, if it thinks such is necessary for the benefit of the people,” he said. Coloma said the government could also push a bill if studies would justify it.‐monitoring‐oil‐prices                

Senate questioned on use of P32 M as MOOE of SET By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 3, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Audit (COA) has questioned the use of P32.9 million in funds for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET). In a 2012 annual audit report (AAR) for the tribunal, the COA said there were no documents submitted to support the use of the huge amount and that what was presented was only a certification that the funds were spent “in the performance of official duties.” There is supposed to be a separate AAR for the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal that is posted on the COA website. The STAR tried to download it but what shows on the site is the AAR for the House proper. The SET report said the P32.9 million included the “additional allowance of P82,000 given monthly to the chairman and members of the electoral tribunal or a total of P8,856,000.” Like its House counterpart, the SET is composed of nine members: three Supreme Court justices and six senators. Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio chairs the Senate tribunal. Members of the two tribunals receive allowances, not salaries, because the Constitution prohibits double compensation. The COA has demanded detailed liquidation of the questionable MOOE but was told that a general certification was allowed under a joint Senate-House resolution. However, COA Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan has disallowed the use of a general certification and has required substantial liquidation of funds with supporting documents. The SET audit report also found irregularities in the use of the P32 million that then Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri had deposited with the tribunal for his counter-election protest against Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III. According to the report, Zubiri entrusted a total of P31,886,025.11 with the SET to answer for expenses to be incurred in connection with his counter-protest, like plane fare, hotel accommodation and allowances of SET employees who were to collect contested ballot boxes. The collection teams were given cash advances out of Zubiri’s funds for their expenses. However, the audit report said liquidation of such advances and refund of excess funds were delayed, in violation of auditing rules.

It said several cash advances “were not liquidated within the prescribed 30-day period and were delayed by 18 (days) to 149 days.” “We also noted that refund of excess of eight cash advances ranging from P625 to P50,000 was delayed by four days to 112 days. This practice poses the risk of loss or misuse of the funds, if not refunded immediately,” it said. It added that additional funds were advanced to the teams even if their previous advances had not been liquidated. The report does not mention the amount Pimentel deposited with the SET to pursue his election protest against Zubiri, whom the Commission on Elections proclaimed as the 12th winner in the May 14, 2007 elections. In August 2011, Zubiri abandoned his counter-protest and gave up his Senate seat, saying he was tired of accusations that he cheated. The audit report does not say if he received a refund from the SET. His deposit was in addition to expenses for lawyers.‐questioned‐use‐p32‐m‐mooe‐set                          

DILG G to LGUs L : Localize Magn na Ca arta off Wom men By Dennis Carcamo ( | Upd dated April 2, 2014 2 - 5:16pm

MANILA,, Philippines s - The Depa artment of the Interior an nd Local Govvernment ha as urged all llocal government units to localize the implementation of the R Republic Act 9710 or the e Magna Carrta of Women. DILG Undersecretary y for Local Government G Austere Pan nadero said all LGUs must create an environm ment that will promote wo omen’s emp powerment, g gender equa ality, and enssure genderr responsiv ve governan nce at the loc cal level. The DILG G, Philippine e Commissio on on Wome en, Departme ent of Budge et and Mana agement, and National Economic and a Development Authorrity recently issued a join nt Memorandum Circula ar to all provin ncial governo ors, city and municipal mayors, m puno ong baranga ays, members of the local sanggunians, DILG Regional R Dirrectors, and all other con ncerned on tthe guideline es on the localization of the Ma agna Carta of o Women. "The MC CW provides that local go overnments are tasked tto promote a and ensure tthat GAD is mainstreamed in the local policy-making, pla anning, prog ramming, bu udgeting, im mplementatio on, monitorin ng, and evaluation," said d Panadero, also concurrrent Genderr and Develo opment Foca al Point cha airperson.

Under the joint memo circular, the local chief executives are directed to ensure that their GAD Focal Point System or similar GAD mechanisms are in place, fully-functional and its members have the capacity to promote gender mainstreaming in line with Sec. 37 of the MCW Implementing Rules and Regulations. Panadero said the DILG, through its Bureau of Local Government Development, will conduct a series of training programs on gender mainstreaming for DILG Provincial GAD coordinators and Provincial Grassroot Budgeting Focal Persons all over the country from April to May, this year.‐lgus‐localize‐magna‐carta‐women                                    

Wha at's neext forr 'pork k' senaators?? Palacce show ws roa admap p By Louiis Bacani (p m) | Updateed April 2, 2014 - 5:005pm

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MANILA, Philiippines - Malaca単aang on W Wednesdayy presenteed a roadmaap detailing how th he cases in i connecction withh the porkk barrel sccam will no ow proceeed. In a press briefing, Presid dential Communiccations Seecretary S Sonny Colom ma said alll the next steps willl be carriied out byy the Offiice of the Ombud dsman an nd the San ndiganbay yan. Colom ma said thee roadmap p he presented waas based oon the inteerpretatioon of the law. l "When n the 1987 7 Constitu ution wass promulggated, thee Filipino people affirmeed fidelity y to the ru ule of law w. We aree a governnment of laws, nott of men. Let L the rulle of law take its course," C Coloma saaid.

On Tuesday, the Office of the Ombudsman issued a resolution ordering the filing of charges against several personalities in the pork barrel scam, including businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles and Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. Here are the next steps following the Ombudsman's resolution, according to the roadmap presented by the Palace: 1. Under the law, each and every one of the respondents is given five days from receipt of the Ombudsman’s resolution to file a Motion for Reconsideration; 2. The Ombudsman will evaluate and resolve such motions up to a maximum of 60 days; 3. The Ombudsman will file the information with the Sandiganbayan; 4. The case will then be raffled-off to one of the five divisions of the Sandigandayan (each division has three justices); 5. Upon evaluation of the information and the records of the case, the Court will issue warrants of arrest. (The issuance of the warrants of arrest ensures that the Court acquires jurisdiction over the person of the accused.) 6. Trial will commence. Based on evidence Saying the government is only following the evidence presented, Coloma dismissed allegations that it is targeting the opponents of the administration with the filing of the cases against those involved in the scam. "Ang batayang prinsipyo lang na ating sinusunod dito sa simula pa nitong usaping ito ay iyong sinabi ng ating Pangulo: Let the evidence direct the course of the inquiry," Coloma said.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, an ally of the senators to be charged, said on Wednesday that the Aquino administration should also go after its allies who have also been implicated in the controversy. But Coloma said they are leaving it up to the Ombudsman the cases involving the administration's allies. "Nakahain na po iyong tinutukoy ninyong kaso sa tanggapan ng Ombudsman. Kung maaalala ninyo, dalawang kaso na iyong naihain patungkol sa PDAF at merong isang kaso tungkol sa Malampaya funds. At ang dalawang kasong binanggit ay nasa pangangasiwa na ngayon ng Office of the Ombudsman," Coloma said. - See more at:

Senators s’ defe ense: It’s o others s’ faullt By Michael Punongbayan n (The Philippin ne Star) | Upda ated April 3, 20 14 - 12:00am

MA ANILA, Philiippines Se enators Juan n Ponce Enrrile, Ra amon Revilla a Jr., and Jin nggoy Estrada tried to co onvince the O Office of the Om mbudsman tthat they had no othing to do w with the pork ba arrel fund scam and theyy sh hould not be held crimina ally lia able for such h misuse and d the eft of govern nment mone ey. In separate co ounter-affida avits, the e three sena ators gave va arious explan nations and argumen nts, ranging from f having done their work w in good d faith to poliitical persecution. Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, however, was no ot convinced d. Morales approved the recommen ndations and d findings off a special pa anel of invesstigators, ordering the filing of plunder and d graft charge es against th he three sen nators and o other people involved in the scam on Tuesday y. Enrile, Revilla and Es strada now stand s accus sed of pocke eting kickbaccks and/or co ommissions amountin ng to more th han P172 million, P242 million and P P183 million n, respective ely. The omb budsman said there was probable ev vidence that the senatorrs channeled d their Prioritty Developm ment Assista ance Fund (P PDAF) alloc cations to fakke non-gove ernment orga anizations (NGOs) created c by businesswom b man Janet Lim-Napoles.. A closer reading of th he three leng gthy joint res solutions isssued by the O Office of the e Ombudsma an showed how h the thre ee senators tried t to wash h their handss of the anomaly. Enrile: It’s their fa ault Enrile, in his counterr-affidavit on Dec. 20, 20 013, “decriess the accusa ations” and e expressed dismay th hat “in the tw wilight years of (his) government serrvice, (he) sttand(s) accu used of trumped up charges of corrup ption.” Enrile said he has ne ever been ch harged with any adminisstrative or criminal offensse in his mo ore than 40 years y in the civil service.

He said that at the time material to the charges, the PDAF was a legitimate source of funds for projects sponsored by legislators. Enrile argued the implementation of PDAF-related projects “is the exclusive function and responsibility of the executive department” such that the implementing agencies (IAs) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) should have strictly complied with laws and rules on government expenditures to prevent possible misuse or irregularities. Enrile said the IAs are responsible for ensuring that the NGOs tasked to implement the projects were legitimate. He stressed his only involvement in the use of PDAF was to endorse specific projects for local government units (LGUs). “He maintains that he did not persuade, influence or induce any official or employee of the IAs concerned to violate existing procurement or audit laws and rules; as a member of the legislative branch, he has no power of control or supervision over IAs, which are part of the executive branch; he did not endorse any NGO as conduit for the implementation of the PDAF projects; it was Napoles and her cohorts who persuaded and influenced the implementing agencies to violate their duties and functions,” the Office of the Ombudsman said. Enrile even claimed the complainants’ witnesses never categorically identified him as one of those who received kickbacks arising from PDAF transactions and neither was he mentioned as among the public officials who visited Napoles’ offices. Enrile maintained he never authorized anyone to transact with, much less receive commissions, kickbacks or rebates from, the Napoles group and he never had personal dealings related to the PDAF with co-accused Ruby Tuason. Enrile said all authorizations he issued to his former chief of staff Gigi Reyes were limited to lawful acts and evidence allegedly showing that he personally benefited from the PDAF anomaly is hearsay. Revilla: My signatures were forged Revilla, in his counter-affidavit of Jan. 16, 2014, denied the accusations, alleging the signatures in the PDAF documents submitted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Field Investigation Office (FIO) of the Office of the Ombudsman that supposedly belong to him and his former chief of staff Richard Cambe are forgeries. Revilla told ombudsman investigators that insofar as he is concerned, his office’s utilization of the PDAF had “always been regular and aboveboard.” He argued that even if there are irregularities in the use of PDAF, he “should not be held liable as his involvement in the PDAF released is limited.” Revilla said there is no “credible proof” showing that he committed the offenses imputed to him and he did not conspire with anyone to commit plunder, malversation or graft.

He said his “mere position as a senator cannot, and should not, be equated to a specific act in furtherance of the crime of plunder” and he neither acquired nor amassed ill-gotten wealth. Estrada: It’s all politics Estrada, for his part, decried the charges and described them as political harassment. In his counter-affidavits on Jan. 8 and 16, he cited the lack of probable cause to indict him for the offenses charged. “He denies any wrongdoing and claims that he has ‘no knowledge or participation in the transfer of any amounts forming part of the PDAF allocation pertaining to my office or anyone other than the legally intended recipients or beneficiaries thereof’,” read the Office of the Ombudsman’s 120-page joint resolution focusing on Estrada’s alleged involvement in the pork barrel anomaly. Estrada maintained he did not receive any funds from Napoles, her staff or persons associated with NGOs affiliated with or controlled by her. He also attacked the whistle-blowers by arguing he is not bound by the acts or declarations of “strangers,” including witnesses Benhur Luy, Marina Sula and Merlina Suñas, whose declarations, Estrada said, are “hearsay.” Like Revilla, Estrada said the signatures appearing in the PDAF documents that are being used against him and which allegedly belong to him “were falsified,” as it was Luy who allegedly admitted falsifying them. As a legislator, Estrada said he “had no hand towards the implementation of the projects funded by the PDAF” such that his choice of NGO to implement his PDAF projects was “clearly recommendatory” and “is best left to the motivated and the willing.” Estrada said he did not conspire with anyone to pilfer or misuse his PDAF allocations and his association with Napoles did not necessarily mean that he connived with her to divert PDAF disbursements. Estrada invoked the Arias doctrine noting that he merely relied on the recommendations of his subordinate. The Arias doctrine refers to the ruling of the Supreme Court in Arias vs. Sandiganbayan where “all heads of offices have to rely to a reasonable extent on their subordinates and on the good faith of those who prepare bids, purchase supplies or enter into negotiations.” ‘See you in court’ The Office of the Ombudsman, through a five-member special panel of investigators, considered the counter-affidavits of Enrile, Revilla and Estrada and even discussed them in the three separate joint resolutions they issued.

However, in sum, the ombudsman investigators said all three senators should be charged with plunder and graft with their arguments best presented before a full-blown trial on the merits of the cases. On Enrile, the Office of the Ombudsman said that in order to be found liable for graft, it is enough the offender has given unjustified favor or benefit to another, in the exercise of his official, administrative or judicial functions which Enrile and his fellow respondents did. “That they repeatedly failed to observe the requirements of RA 9184 (Procurement Law), its implementing rules and regulations, GPPB regulations as well as national budget circulars, shows that unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference was given to private respondents,” the ombudsman probers explained. “The NGOs represented by them were chosen to undertake the implementation of PDAF projects without the benefit of a fair system in determining the best possible offer for the government. Napoles, who controlled the NGOs personally chosen by Senator Enrile, was able to unduly profit from the fictitious transactions,” the special panel said. The Office of the Ombudsman said the defense presented by Enrile and his fellow respondents are best left to the trial court’s consideration during trial on the merits. “Respondent public officers insist that they were motivated by good faith, and acted in accordance with existing laws and rules, and that the disbursements from the PDAF were all regular and aboveboard,” the joint resolution read. Based on the evidence presented, the ombudsman believes that the respondent’s assailed act constitutes the offense charged, stressing that “claims of good faith and regularity in their performance of official functions fail.” The Office of the Ombudsman, citing evidence it had gathered during the preliminary investigation, said Enrile and his co-accused “conspired with one another to repeatedly raid the public treasury through what appears to be the drawing of cash advances from the PDAF allocated to respondent Enrile, albeit for fictitious projects.” On Revilla, the anti-graft agency’s joint resolution said field verifications conducted by the FIO revealed his PDAF releases were never used for the intended projects with all documents pertaining to the same found to be “fabricated.” As in Enrile’s case, ombudsman probers stressed that claims of good faith, not to mention regularity in the performance of their duties, are not an element of plunder and such argument is “best ventilated during trial proper.”‐defense‐its‐others‐fault  

Sena ate wo on’t stop meemberrs’ arreest By Marv vin Sy (The Philippin ne Star) | Up pdated Aprril 3, 2014 - 12:00am

MAN NILA, Phhilippiness - The Senaate will nnot prevennt the arreest of thhree of itss memberrs accusedd of plunnder in thee pork baarrel fund scam m. Senaate Presiddent Frankklin Driloon said Senatorss Juan Ponnce Enrile, Ramon n Revilla Jr. and Jiinggoy Esstrada couuld be plaaced undeer preventive suspen nsion by th he Sandig ganbayan n, apart froom orderring their arrest once the Offfice of thee Ombud dsman filees chargess. Drilon said his three t collleagues co ould not bbe forcedd to go onn leave becausse this is a matter “addresse “ d to theirr consciennce, for thheir own judgmeent.” Howev ver, if the Sandigan nbayan isssues a prreventive suspension order, it would be anotheer matter altogetheer, he saidd. a and d there is an order tto suspennd them fr from “If therre is a waarrant of arrest the Sen nate, the situation s would deefinitely cchange. Since this is a nonbailablle offensee, they wiill be undeer detentiion by thee Sandigaanbayan, and they will w be ord dered susp pended from the Seenate by the Sandiiganbayann,” Drilon said. he Ombud dsman on n Tuesdayy announcced the filing of The Offfice of th plundeer chargess against Enrile, E Reevilla andd Estrada over the pork barrrel scam.

However, the three senators could still wait for another month or more since no arrest warrants will be issued until after the plunder and graft charges are actually filed with the Sandiganbayan. And considering the three senators and all their fellow respondents to the cases have five days to file motions for reconsideration and ask for a reversal of the finding of probable cause to indict them, there is still a chance, though slim, that the criminal complaints will not reach the antigraft court. Assistant Ombudsman and spokesman Asryman Rafanan explained the charges would not yet be forwarded to the Sandiganbayan. He said that motions for reconsideration, if any are filed, will have to first be resolved by the same special panel of investigators who handled the probe before an indictment is made. Under the procedures, once the Office of the Ombudsman files a complaint before the Sandiganbayan, the cases will await raffle, which is regularly conducted every Friday, and once a division of the anti-graft court receives a case, the issuance of a warrant of arrest is expected. Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said the three senators who will be charged before the Sandiganbayan should be suspended immediately after their arrest warrants are served. “That’s automatic under the law. Once the ombudsman files a case in court, which is the Sandiganbayan in this case, automatically, instantaneously, the public official is suspended from public office since plunder is exclusive only to public officials,” Santiago said. “Once the case is filed in court, automatically the senator goes to jail and the senator stops being senator, in other words is suspended from public office,” she added.

Sen. Francis Escudero said once a court issues a preventive suspension order, there should be no more debate as to whether this would be followed. “No one is above the law, not even the Senate, not even the House of Representatives,” he said. Escudero pointed out preventive suspension is not automatic upon the issuance of the warrant of arrest against a legislator. According to Escudero, suspension of senators in particular would only be automatic if a case is brought against them before the ethics committee and there is a final decision. Someone could also ask for a senator to be suspended and if this gets the support of two-thirds of the members of the Senate, then the suspension would also be enforced. Escudero said he expects the senators involved to bring the case up to the Supreme Court if ever the Sandiganbayan does come out with preventive suspension orders. Santiago, on the other hand, said the accused senators have the option to bring the resolution of the ombudsman to the appellate court to try to avoid detention. However, she said that securing a restraining order in this particular case would be very difficult because in plunder, “we always assume the evidence is strong.” Estrada, on the other hand, said he would file a motion for reconsideration on Monday. “We file a motion this Monday because my lawyers have received the joint resolution coming from the ombudsman. While I expect that (the motion) will eventually be dismissed, we will exert all legal remedies,” Estrada said.

Estrada, who is in Los Angeles for a brief vacation, also vowed to return to the country to face what he described as politically motivated charges leveled against him and his two Senate colleagues. Estrada said he is unfazed by the possibility that he will be arrested on plunder charges. Former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada said he is confident that his son Jinggoy will be able to defend himself. “The court is the proper forum to prove the innocence of any accused,” he said. Don’t stop there Vice President Jejomar Binay said the filing of cases against government officials involved in the pork barrel fund scam should not stop with those who are not political allies of the administration. “If it stops with the filing of the plunder cases against three senators who are not political allies …it will create the impression of being selective, and that political partisanship – not justice – is the sole motivation behind these charges,” Binay said. The so-called independent bloc of lawmakers in the House of Representatives also called on the administration to move on to the prosecution of its allies. Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, leader of the independent bloc, hit the apparent persecution waged by the administration against its political opponents. “We protest the deliberate delays in the filing of complaints and charges against Palace allies whose names have been mentioned in the pork barrel scam. The political persecution against critics through government’s color blind attitude must stop now,” Romualdez said.

Malacañang, however, downplayed insinuations that the administration is only persecuting members of the political opposition. “Let the evidence direct the course of the inquiry,” Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said. Coloma reiterated the charges against the three senators have nothing to do with politics. “The Department of Justice, the National Bureau of Investigation are mandated to gather the evidence. The process has been properly observed,” Coloma said. Still witnesses The two supposed state witnesses included in the plunder charges with the three senators could still get immunity. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Ruby Tuason and outgoing Technology Resource Center (TRC) chief Dennis Cunanan have not lost their bid for immunity. De Lima said there was nothing wrong in their inclusion in the complaint. “That’s the correct process – to determine first the liability of the respondents. If it was determined that they have no liability, then their bid to become state witness will become irrelevant,” she explained. De Lima said she expects the ombudsman to decide soon on their application for immunity and their bid to become state witness. As for the bid of Senator Revilla seeking relief from the Supreme Court (SC) to stop his indictment, De Lima said it would be up to the high court to decide whether the anti-graft body’s resolution had already rendered the lawmaker’s petition moot and academic.

“Let’s just leave it up to the SC to decide… However, there is no legal impediment on the release of the ombudsman’s joint resolutions because there is no temporary restraining order or injunction that was issued by the Supreme Court,” she pointed out. – Michael Punongbayan, Christina Mendez, Jose Rodel Clapano, Delon Porcalla, Edu Punay, Paolo Romero, Evelyn Macairan, Janvic Mateo, Rhodina Villanueva, Edith Regalado, Charlie Lagasca

Pes so weake ens vs v do ollar r ahe ead o of US jobs s rep port Category: Banking & Finaance   02 Apr 2014    by PNA  Written b CORPORA ATES’ strong g dollar dem mand, along g with the wait-an nd-see stancce on the result of the M March private-em ployment re eport in the e US, weakkened the peso to o the dollar o on Wednesd day. The local ccurrency sh hed P0.13 a after finishing g the day at 44.8 88 from 44.7 74 on Tuesda ay. A trader sa aid dealers o opted to stayy on the side elines ahead of th he release o of private em mployment da ata in the US on W Wednesdayy night (Maniila time). Currency y traders exp pect the priv vate employm ment report to post a hig gher figure o of about 195 5,000, which is higher than the previous s month’s 13 39,000. The peso o opened alm most unchan nged at 44.7 76 from 44.75 5 on Tuesda ay. It traded between 44 4.75 and 44.8 88, bringing the day’s avverage to 44 4.78. Volume of o trade wen nt down to $5 596.2 million n from $615..8 million a d day ago. On Thurs sday the pes so is expecte ed to trade between b 44. 80 and 45 to o the dollar. The trader said the peso is ex xpected to trrade slightlyy weaker in the coming g days as laboremploym ment data are schedule ed to be re eleased in tthe US untiil Friday, an nd these arre all expected d to post bettter figures. PNA http://ww ww.businessm h/index.php/e en/business/ banking‐finan nce/29958‐peeso‐weakens‐‐vs‐ dollar‐ahe ead‐of‐us‐job bs‐report         

Pampanga buys P4.9-million NHA property as major evacuation center Category: Regions   02 Apr 2014    Written by Joel P. Mapiles / Correspondent  LUBAO, Pampanga—The provincial government is set to construct a permanent evacuation center after it purchased a 3-hectare property of the National Housing Authority (NHA) in Barangay San Isidro, Magalang town. The administration of Gov. Lilia Pineda bought the property for P4.9 million to house families in a permanent evacuation site following a calamity. This, aside from the proposed construction of housing units for the 96 readily validated and identified poor families who stayed as informal settlers on the property. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) funded the construction and labor for P10 million released to the provincial government, while the NHA will take charge of site development for P10 million. Pineda formed the Project Inter-agency Committee (PIAC) tasked to formulate policy procedures and standards in the relocation of affected families, conduct estate- management activities and community development, and smooth and proper implementation of the project. Pineda said under Executive Order 04-2014, creating PIAC, a technical working group is also created to serve as the technical arm of the committee in the formulation of standards and policies that will ensure the success of the project. She noted that aside from these, covered courts in various towns are being renovated for use as temporary evacuation sites in case of emergencies. The governor said the Capitol is doing its best in preparing a contingency plan that can address the requirements of a large-scale calamity by establishing a strong networking system.‐pampanga‐buys‐p4‐9‐million‐ nha‐property‐as‐major‐evacuation‐center           

2 UP researchers identify pest plaguing Calabarzon coconuts Category: Agri-Commodities   02 Apr 2014    Written by John Bello / Correspondent  LOS BAÑOS, Laguna—Two faculty member-researchers of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) here have identified the pest which the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) said is responsible for the massive infestation of some 972,263 coconut trees in the four provinces of Calabarzon region alone. Celia Medina and Barbara Caoili, both members of the Task Force Scale Insect Comprehensive Action Program (Sicap) designed to combat the aggravating coconut scale-insect infestation nationwide, claimed they have positively identified the pest as aspidiotus rigidus. They said the pest originated from Mindanao. Caoili said it is important to know the identity of the insect first to have an effective control of the massive coconut-scale infestation now plaguing the coconut trees in Batangas, Laguna, Quezon and Cavite provinces. The hard-scale beetle was said to have been reported first in Sangi island in Indonesia and based from morphology and DNA analysis, matched those found in Batangas, Caoili said. “We are 99-percent positive that the coconut-scale insect infesting coconut trees in Batangas is aspidiotus rigidus rather than aspidiotus destructor which we have earlier suspected to have been the ones responsible for the massive coconut infestation,” Caoili said. She and Medina allowed themselves to be interviewed on Friday outside the conference room where the task force meeting was ongoing. Medina and Caoili have been part of a research team last year that went to Sangi island in an effort to pinpoint the identity of the pest that continues to plague the coconut farms in the country. Task-force members include the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources and Development-Department of Science and Technology, Department of Trade Industry, Quarantine, UPLB, PCA-Calabarzon and Department of Agriculture. The PCA has been using oil-based Cochin insecticide which is sprayed on infested coconut trees but it is hard to use and adversely affects residents nearby, Caoili said so they next opted for neo nicotinoid to be injected into the coconut trunks. She said, however, that with the positive identification of the pest, the best option now is to get beetle insect predators from Indonesia that prey on the coconut-scale insects.

“Our top priority now is huwag nang kumalat ung CSI [Coconut Scale Insect Infestation] so uunahin yung border ng affected areas then papasok ang treatment ng insecticide,” Caoili told the BusinessMirror. The PCA in Calabarzon’s CSI Report said Batangas has 643,220 affected coconut trees; Laguna, 211,012; Quezon, 114,089; and Cavite, 3,942. Fifteen towns in Batangas were hit with moderate to severe CSI, with Lemery recording 196,262 affected coconut trees; Laurel, 111,259; and Tanauan, 105,571. The CSI hit 535,488 coconutbearing trees and 107,732 non-bearing trees in Batangas. In Laguna, 16 towns were hit by CSI, with Calauan posting 45,986 affected coconut trees; Los Baños, 35,917; and Alaminos, 27,563. There are 175,466 coconut-bearing trees hit by CSI which also affected 35,546 non-bearing ones in this province. Ten towns from Quezon suffered 114,089 coconut trees affected by CSI, with Mauban town posting 27,774; Sampaloc, 25,777; and Tiaong, 23,246. Coconut-bearing trees hit by CSI reached 75,333 and non-bearing ones, 38,756. Cavite suffered a total of 3,942 coconut trees from six towns affected by CSI; 2,242 of which are coconut-bearing trees, and 1,700 non-bearing ones. Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala and PCA Administrator Euclides Forbes have urged PCA field personnel for the massive eradication and monitoring of the CSI and hope that the task force can come up soon with the best solution to arrest the infestation from further spreading to other areas. Task Force Sicap said it welcomes proposals from various private individuals in combatting the massive infestation that threatens the Philippines coconut industry.‐commodities/29963‐2‐up‐researchers‐ identify‐pest‐plaguing‐calabarzon‐coconuts              

Pangasinan, Bukidnon farmers want SC to stop field testing of Bt eggplants Category: Agri-Commodities   02 Apr 2014    Written by Joel R. San Juan    A GROUP of farmers from Pangasinan and Bukidnon on Wednesday filed a motion for intervention before the Supreme Court seeking to set aside the ruling issued by the Court of Appeals stopping the field testing of genetically modified eggplants or Bt (bacillus thuringinesis) talong. In a 52-page petition-in-intervention, the farmer-petitioners said the CA ruling issued in September last year violated their constitutional right to property, entitling them to protection of their means of livelihood. The farmers insisted that they have benefited from the “Bt technology,” by shifting from farming of conventional maize to the cultivation of the commercially successful Bt corn. “Indeed, there is no valid justification to maintain the naturalistic fallacy espoused in the Assailed CA decision and Assailed CA resolution ruling that the ‘naturally ordained’ state of the environment must not be altered. Apart from completely ignoring the challenges to sustainable food supply, these issuances spell the death for technology and innovation in agriculture, and essentially, for human civilization, which is largely dependent on sustainable food source to flourish,” the petitioners said. The assailed CA decision, they said, dismissed “the tremendous potential of Bt technology in improving crop productivity.” The farmers said the Bt talong is a product of the collaborative efforts of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications Inc., the University of the Philippines Los Baños, the UPLB Foundation, and the University of Mindanao Foundation and that it is a “costeffective” and “safe” solution to their dilemma with the eggplant fruit and shoot borer (EFSB), being the most pervasive and destructive pest of eggplants. The farmer-petitioners said roughly 40 percent of total eggplants they harvested are rejected for being unmarketable due to the damage caused by the EFSB. “To emphasize, apart from the benefits that will accrue to farmers, such as higher crop yields and lower cost of inputs, which translate to higher profits, Bt technology will address the need for an ever-larger food supply for human consumption, and thus, contribute toward food security,” the petition noted. They said the Bt technology would allow farmers to make profits from farming, considering that higher costs for farm inputs have made eggplant farming less profitable.

In its ruling in September 2013, the CA denied with finality the motions for reconsideration filed by respondents led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) seeking the reversal of its decision issued last May 17. The appellate court, in the said ruling, issued a writ of kalikasan ordering the DENR and other respondents in the case, the Bureau of Plant Industry, the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority of the Department of Agriculture, UP Los Baños Foundation Inc., UP Mindanao Foundation Inc., and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications-Southeast Asia Center to permanently “cease and desist” from further conducting field trials of Bt talong (eggplant) in the country. The appellate court held that the Bt talong field trials violate the people’s constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology. Aside from the issuance of the writ of kalikasan, the CA also directed the respondents to rehabilitate and restore the environment affected by the field testing. The government, according to the CA, has failed to adopt sufficient biosafety protocols in the conduct of field trials and feasibility studies on GMOs to protect the environment and the health of the people.‐commodities/29962‐pangasinan‐ bukidnon‐farmers‐want‐sc‐to‐stop‐field‐testing‐of‐bt‐eggplants                    

Searca study warns of ‘unequal competition’ for hog industry under liberalized Asean market Category: Agri-Commodities   02 Apr 2014    Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent  THE hog industry has a long way to go to be competitive in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) region since other member-states provide subsidies to their domestic producers and provide substantial funds to expand their domestic markets. A recent study conducted by a team of experts commissioned by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca), under the Productivity Growth in Philippine Agriculture (PGPA) project of the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), said the hog industry will be feeling the pinch of “unequal competition” as the Asean common market is put in place next year. The analysis, undertaken by Dr. Liborio Cabanilla, U-Primo E. Rodriguez and Antonio Jesus A. Quilloy, all from the College of Economics and Management of the University of the Philippines at Los Baños (UPLB-CEM) should be good reading for backyard hog raisers and commercial growers alike, said Searca Director Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit Jr., since it should provide them with good inputs into the status of the hog industry and how they could maneuver to give pork from Asean countries a run for its money. Since 2010, the Asean Free Trade Area-Common Effective Preferential Tariff has been implemented and it will cut tariffs on meat products from zero to 5 percent, allowing foreign countries enough reason to dump their products in the Philippines. One significant factor that should give an advantage to the hog industry is the fact that the country is free from the dreaded foot and mouth disease (FMD) that hobble the livestock industries of countries in mainland Asia. Moreover, the Philippines is certified to be free from the deadly avian influenza (AI) that had been regularly decimating the poultry industries in China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and South Korea. The Searca is significant to the hog industry, which is holding its Hog Convention and Trade Exhibit in General Santos City from April 3 to 5, since it offers insights into the growth of total factor productivity (TFP) of the hog industry, and how self-sufficiency in corn would further reduce the cost of production for swine breeders.

From a high of 77 percent in 2001, the share of backyard raisers in the total pork market has dwindled to only 72 percent, indicating the growth of medium-scale hog farms and contract growers. Cabanilla and his team members said that their analysis showed TFP was at 3.5 percent from 2003 to 2008, with the basic data culled from the operations of hog producers in Batangas and Laguna. “Prospects for continued growth, however, are less bright in the advent of increasing competitive forces brought about by the pressures of globalization,” they noted. One of the most signficant factors affecting the hog industry is the abundance of yellow corn, which is essential for the hog feed since it represents 70 percent of the production cost of hog farms. For this reason, said the Cabanilla study, the small farms with 20 or less adult animals are less efficient in the use of inputs compared to the medium-scale and large agribusiness corporations. The Searca assessment will eventually take into consideration the figures released recently by the National Corn Program (NCP) under Assistant Secretary Edilberto de Luna. High corn prices had been responsible for the closure of many farms in the Laguna-Batangas livestock belt from 2008, when the prices of grains shot up, until about two years ago. For the same period, pork imports doubled, further hitting the pockets of hog producers. De Luna said the country achieved yellow corn sufficiency last year and added that if the yield from January to March 2014 reaches 2.1 million metric tons (MMT), the country may have enough yellow corn for animal feed until December. Moreover, he added, statistics culled from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), Livestock Development Center (LDC) and the Philippine Association of Feed Millers (Pafmi) showed that the ending stock was sufficient to last for five months without imports of feedwheat. With imported yellow corn and feedwheat, the total inventory would be sufficient for the next 7.5 months. “We attained sufficiency last year and we are confident to supply the needs of the livestock and poultry industries even if yellow corn registers zero growth for 2014,” de Luna explained. If a huge surplus is secured this year, some officials argue that corn and feedwheat imports may have to be controlled to compel the private sector to buy local corn and corn substitutes. Based on the official data submitted to Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, the supply of yellow corn and corn substitutes sans imports last year was 7.8 million metric tons (MMT), with the beginning stock placed at 2.386 MMT and the net local yellow corn available at 4.871 MMT. The gross local yellow corn output was actually 5.248 MMT but the NCP subtracts 7.18 percent, or 377,000 MT, from the total volume as postharvest losses.

NCP also adds cassava as corn equivalent for animal feed, with the volume at 543,000 MT. All told, the demand for feeds last year was 5.265 MMT, leaving the 2013 ending stock at 2.535 MMT, which is enough for industry needs for five months, or until May 2014. One DA official said the picture changed significantly when private-sector imports of yellow corn and feedwheat are taken into account. Pafmi reported that a total of 1.349 MMT of yellow corn and feedwheat were imported in 2013, broken down into 404,000 MT of yellow corn and 945,000 MT of feedwheat. With the imports included in the equation, the total supply of yellow corn and corn substitutes for 2013 zoomed to 9.149 MMT. Subtracting the demand of 5.265 MMT from the total supply of 9.149 MMT, the ending stock would rise to 3.884 MMT, which is enough for 7.5 months.‐commodities/29961‐searca‐study‐ warns‐of‐unequal‐competition‐for‐hog‐industry‐under‐liberalized‐asean‐market                          

BIR going after JPE, Jinggoy, Bong  Binay: Don’t Limit Filing Of PDAF Scam Charges To NonAdministration Allies by Jun Ramirez & JC Bello Ruiz April 3, 2014

Manila, Philippines — Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto Henares placed yesterday under tax audit Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla, and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, and other personalities implicated in the P10-billion pork barrel scam. Henares’ move came a day after the Office of the Ombudsman recommended the filing of plunder and graft charges against the three senators, businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, and several other persons for allegedly diverting Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) money to bogus foundations of Napoles. Selective Persecution As this developed, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay called on the government not to limit the filing of PDAF scam charges on non-administration allies or “will create the impression that political partisanship – not justice – is the sole motivation behind charges.” Likewise, the House independent minority bloc asked the government to get rid of its “color blind attitude” and stop persecuting its critics. They also called on President Benigno S. Aquino III to prosecute his allies who are also involved in the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam. Henares disclosed that she has already requested Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales for certified copies of the resolutions and other documentary evidence finding probable cause to charge the three senators and 50 others with either plunder, graft and corruption, or both. The BIR chief said all other 50 respondents headed by Napoles, the alleged brains of the scam, are also included in the tax audit. Tax Evaluation She said BIR investigators will study and evaluate the Ombudsman documents and if sufficient evidence is found the bureau will file the necessary criminal and civil charges. Henares, however, would not disclose whether the PDAF scam suspects will be included in the Run-After-Tax-Evaders (RATE) program which involved the filing of tax evasion cases against suspected tax cheats every other week before the Department of Justices. “It is still premature at this time,” she said.

But insiders said the probe is likely to be criminal as the case will be eventually handled by examiners from the BIR’s National Investigation Division (NID), formerly Tax Fraud Division. Under Section 32 of the Tax Code, gross income from all sources is taxable, including those that were illegally acquired. The tax liabilities being sought will not only cover income tax, but value-added tax (VAT) as the amount allegedly malversed was more than the annual VAT threshold of P1.9 million. The three lawmakers and their chiefs of staff as well as Napoles and her brother were among the 10 persons recommended for plunder case. Apart from plunder charges, graft and corruption charges were also recommended against the 10 suspects. The Ombudsman only recommended graft and corruption charges against the rest of the suspects. They included officials from the Department of Budget and Management, PDAF implementing agencies like the National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor), the National Livelihood Development Corporation and the Technology Resource Center. The rest are officers of Napoles’ non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like Agricultura Para Sa Magbubukid Foundation, Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic Development Foundation and the Agri and Economic Program for Farmers. Last year, the BIR filed separate tax evasion charges against Napoles, her husband, and daughter for non-payment of taxes totaling P100 million. No To Partisanship In a statement, Vice President Binay said he hopes cases will also be filed against other officials mentioned in the Commission on Audit (COA) report released last year. “If it stops with the filing of the plunder cases against three senators who are not political allies and confines itself to the (Janet) Napoles case, it will create the impression of being selective, and that political partisanship – not justice – is the sole motivation behind these charges,” Binay said, reacting on the Ombudsman’s recommendation to file plunder cases against Enrile, Estrada, and Revilla. Enrile and Estrada are close allies of Binay, while Revilla belongs to the Lakas-CMD. Binay said the case “will test if the drive for reforms will be blind to political motives.” “The COA has mentioned other legislators and other fake NGOs in a comprehensive report last year. We hope the concerned government agencies will act on these findings with the same determination and focus displayed in the Napoles case,” the Vice President said. “The public would want no less than full accountability from its public officials. The rule of law must prevail regardless of stature or political affiliations,” he added. Test Of Fairness

Binay said the decision of the Ombudsman is “a test of the ‘fairness and trustworthiness’ of the country’s legal system.” “In the event that the Ombudsman denies the motions for reconsideration and proceeds with the filing before the Sandiganbayan, I am confident that our courts will accord the three senators their right to a fair trial as provided for by the Constitution,” he said. At the House of Representatives, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez lashed out at the Aquino administration for its apparent seamless political persecution against its critics after the Office of the Ombudsman recommended the filing of charges against the three opposition senators. “We protest the deliberate delays in the filing of complaints and charges against Palace allies whose named have been mentioned in the pork barrel scam. The political persecution against critics through government’s color blind attitude must stop now,” he said. ABAKDA party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz, a member of the House independent group, said he would be convinced that there is no selective prosecution if Aquino allies would also be charged. Gabriela party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan, a member of House minority bloc, also questioned the seeming selective persecution of Aquino’s opponents, describing as “anti-climactic” the indictments approved by the Ombudsman. (With a report from Charissa M. Luci)‐going‐after‐jpe‐jinggoy‐bong/                  

NPAs collect P42‐M ‘taxes’ in North Cotabato –  Army  by Malu Cadelina Manar April 3, 2014 (updated)

Kidapawan City – Some P42 million in ‘revolutionary taxes’ were collected in 2013 by the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) from traders, politicians, and villagers in the second district of North Cotabato, a top military official said. Lt. Col. Noli Vinluan, commander of the 57th Infantry Battalion, disclosed the information during the regular meeting of the City Peace and Order Council recently. Of the amount, P33.8 million was collected from traders, farmers, and residents, he said. An example of the standard for “taxation” was the 50 centavos collected for every rubber tree planted in a farmer’s lot, the military official said. Another form of “taxation” came from “permits to campaign” which were charged to politicians who ran for office in the May, 2013, elections for North Cotabato’s second district. That came up to some P8.5 million in collections, he added. Vinluan based his report from the documents confiscated in a raid of an NPA satellite base in Barangay New Cebu, President Roxas, North Cotabato. The raid was conducted on March 11. “Those documents were also validated by our military’s intelligence unit,” he said. The information coincided with the complaints of rubber traders who sought the help of government law enforcers to stop the NPAs from collecting “revolutionary taxes.” “The traders have long sought the help of law enforcers to stop the rebels from exacting money from them,” said Vinluan. Vinluan led March 11 raid where they recovered several firearms, ammunition, mobile phones, and documents, which looked like ‘payroll’ and ‘collection statements’ and subversive materials. “The documents are proof that the NPAs were involved in extortion and other illegal activities, although they had denied that several times,” he said.‐collect‐p42‐m‐taxes‐in‐north‐cotabato‐army/        

You u ca an re ehab b old d plaantss  by Zac Sa arian April 2, 20 014

We often n see people e just letting their t eggplant and otherr vegetabless just wither a away after harvestin ng a few time es from them m. That is particularly true, especiallly when they y don’t take good care o of their plantts from the vvery beginning g. Of course e, growers ca an prolong the productivve life of theiir plants by d doing the rig ght th ings.

W What are thosse right thing gs? Of coursse, lett’s assume tthey grow th he recommended va arieties. The en they should provide a go ood soil med dium for the plants to gro ow – th e soil should d be rich in o organic mattter, fri able or not w waterlogged d. Also, wate ering sh hould be reg gular. No pro olonged dry sspell. An nother important thing to o keep in mind is to o give enough sunlight to o the plants. No ow, even if tthe ideal gro owing conditions arre provided, the plants a also grow old d and wiill look exhausted after ssometime, especially if they are not regularlly fertilized and a watered . Or if pests and disease es attack the em. Of course e, you can make m those old o eggplantts (or some o other plants) young and d productive again. In the case of eggplant, fo or instance, you y can topccut them. Cu ut off the ma ain trunk and d branches s about one foot or there eabouts above the groun nd. Then you u have to cu ultivate the ssoil around th he plants and add proce essed organiic fertilizer c ombined witth complete fertilizer. Off course, you y have to water w the pla ants copious sly, especiallly during the ese dry mon nths. It will nott take long fo or new shootts to come out. o As soon as new leavves have em merged, you can spray Po ower Growerr Combo. Yo ou will then notice n that th he plants will grow much h faster and produce quality fruits s. IN PUMM MELOS – On ne usual pro oblem that is s encountere ed by ownerss of pummelo trees is w what is called gummosis. Gummy exu udates appea ar on the tru unk and bran nches of the tree. If nothing g is done to cure the malady, sooner or later the e pummelo trree will withe er and die. T The situation is not hopeless. Once you y notice th he tear-like e exudates on the trunk an nd branches, scrape off the gummy exudates and apply a paste of fun ngicide on th he scraped p portion.

But there is more to do. You have to cultivate the soil around the base of the tree and add a lot of organic fertilizer. Also apply complete fertilizer, all the while watering the tree adequately. And then you can also spray the Power Grower Combo formulated by Alfonso G. Puyat. This special formulation which consists of chelated macro and micronutrients accelerates the uptake of plant nutrients from the soil. When you spray Power Grower Combo, make sure the soil is moist so that the roots will be able to absorb the plant nutrients. When the tree has regained its strength and good health, it could be ready for inducing fruiting. You can spray it with Heavy Weight Tandem, a formulation that is high in potassium. As explained by Mr. Puyat, the potassium facilitates the transport of the synthesized plant food in the leaves (thru photosynthesis) to the developing flowers and fruits. Heavy Weight Tandem, he says, will promote better fruit set, more uniform fruits that are bigger, juicier, and sweeter. DIMINUTIVE BANGKOK SANTOL – Just last week, we were talking to a lady who loves santol but who is not really knowledgeable about how plants behave. Like many others we have met before, she was complaining about the very small fruits of their Bangkok santol tree which used to give them big fruits. Well, she admitted that they have not been fertilizing their tree, and that is most likely the reason for the diminutive santol fruits. Even if fertilizer was applied, if the soil was not watered and is too dry, the fruits will not become big. That’s because the tree cannot absorb the plant food in the soil because it is too dry. The same problem could happen to other fruit trees. Just like guapple, for instance. Many times people have told us that their guapple tree gave them very big fruits in the beginning but as the years passed by, the fruits have become very small. Even the fruits of mango will become small if the trees are not adequately fertilized and watered, especially during the development of the fruits.‐can‐rehab‐old‐plants/            

Farmers reject CA ruling on Bt crops By Rey E. Requejo | Apr. 03, 2014 at 12:01am

The Supreme Court has been asked to nullify a decision of the Court of Appeals stopping the field-testing of genetically modified eggplants or Bt talong. A group of farmers from Pangasinan and Bukidnon stressed that the CA decision issued in September last year violated their constitutional right to property and to protection of their means of livelihood. They said they have known the benefits of the genetically modified eggplants, having significantly benefitted from them by shifting from farming of conventional maize or corn to the cultivation of the commercially successful Bt corn. `Besides, the Bt talong is a product of the collaborative efforts of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, Incorporated (ISAAA), the University of the Philippines-Los Banos, the UPLB Foundation, and the University of Mindanao Foundation and that it is a “cost-effective” and “safe” solution to their dilemma with the eggplant fruit and shoot borer (EFSB), being the most pervasive and destructive pest of eggplants, they said. The petitioners pointed out that roughly 40 percent of total eggplants they harvested are rejected for being unmarketable due to the damage caused by the EFSB. “Apart from completely ignoring the challenges to sustainable food supply, these issuances spell the death for technology and innovation in

agriculture, and essentially, for human civilization which is largely dependent on sustainable food source to flourish,” they said. They lamented that the CA ruling dismissed the tremendous potential of Bt technology in improving crop productivity.” They said that Bt technology would have allow farmers to make profits from farming considering that higher costs for farm inputs have made eggplant farming less profitable. “The problem has been exacerbated by cheap subsidized eggplants from China, which drive prices of eggplants downward, causing growers such as the petitioner-farmers to suffer from reduced income,” they added. The petitioners also filed a 16-page motion for leave to intervene to allow them as intervenors in the judicial review of the ruling of the appellate court granting a Writ of Kalikasan to the petition of Greenpeace-Southeast Asia Philippines disallowing the field testing of Bt talong. The petitioners cited the policy of public participation in environmental cases to ensure that issues on environmental safety are fully addressed from all perspective. In January this year, the ISAAA also asked the SC to reverse the CA ruling adding that the later erred when it granted the petition of Greenpeace and issued the writ against the trial of Bt talong despite the fact that scientists at UPLB had already proven that it is safe for the environment. The group said Bt crops are also safe as human foods citing a European Union (EU) report on 130 EU research projects covering a period of 25 years indicating that eating genetically modified foods is not different from eating foods with conventional crops.

It also pointed out that even the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), the government agency mandated to regulate field trials, has also testified as to the safety to the environment of Bt eggplant trials. The BPI said a total of 171 field trials of the genetically modified talong in Pangasinan, Camarines Sur, Davao City, Laguna and North Cotabato have been conducted since 2002.‐reject‐ca‐ruling‐on‐bt‐crops/                                  

Singapore head begins state visit By Joyce Pangco Panares, Sara Fabunan and Eric Apolonio | Apr. 03, 2014 at 12:01am President Aquino will hold a bilateral meeting with Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam today to discuss defense, trade and investment issues. “President Aquino and President Tan will meet to discuss matters of mutual interest, including trade and investment and the Filipino community in Singapore,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said. The Singaporean leader and his wife Mrs. Grace Tan arrived in Manila Wednesday afternoon for his fourday reciprocal visit, his first state visit to the Philippines. Tan will first go to Rizal Park today for a wreath-laying ceremony before he proceeds to the Palace for his bilateral meeting with Aquino. Aquino will host a state luncheon for the visiting leader, after which Tan will have a tour of Fort Santiago and a dinner reception with the Singaporean community in Manila. “(On Friday), President Tan will hand over donations contributed by the people of Singapore to the partners of the Singapore Red Cross involved in rehabilitation projects in Yolanda-affected communities,” Lacierda said. He will also meet with members of the Philippine-Singapore Business Council. On Saturday, Tan will fly to Basey, Western Samar to present medical supplies to the Basey District Hospital, a joint rehabilitation project of the Singapore Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Singapore was the country’s 4th largest trade partner in 2013, with total trade amounting to $8.22 billion. It is also the 6th largest source of visitors to the Philippines, with 175,304 tourist arrivals in 2013. Singapore also hosts a 180,000-strong Filipino community.‐head‐begins‐state‐visit/        

Phivolcs: No threat to PH By Rio N. Araja | Apr. 03, 2014 at 12:01am THE magnitude 8.2 earthquake that struck Chile was too far to pose a threat to the Philippines, although the quake was stronger than the magnitude 7.8 quake that struck Luzon in 1990, according to Dr. Renato Solidum of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. “With the relative distance of the tsunami source to the Philippines, Phivolcs does not expect a destructive tsunami threat to the Philippines from this event. As such, no evacuation is needed,” Solidum said after the earthquake struck. The Phivolcs chief said they are also coordinating with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center which had had canceled its tsunami warning and watch for South American and Pacific Island countries near the epicenter.But Solidum noted that the Chile earthquake would have been a very destructive quake had it struck on land. “Since it’s offshore, the shaking felt in Chile and the affected area which is at the north side of Chile is not that populated and I think landslides might happen in steep slopes. I think the main danger then might be the tsunami and so far the maximum tsunami height reported occurred in the town of Pisagua, of around 2.11 meters,” he said. But Phivolcs does not discount the possibility that a similar quake could also strike the Philippines. Two major trenches could generate an earthquake of magnitude 8 and tsunami of up to four meters high any time in Luzon, including Metro Manila, according to Dr. Baby Jane Punongbayan, Phivolc’s supervising science research specialist. Punongbayan thus urged local governments and the public to enhance their disaster preparedness and emergency management because the Manila Trench on the western part of the country and the Philippine Trench could also generate strong quakes and tsunamis. “A quake to be caused by the movement of the Manila Trench could damage provinces in the north and generate a tsunami along the coastal areas up to Batanes,” she said.The Manila Trench is an oceanic trench in the Pacific Ocean located west of the islands of Luzon and Mindoro that reaches a depth of 5,400 meters. The movement of the Philippine Trench in the east of the Philippines with a length of approximately 1,320 kilometers could produce a big quake in the south of Luzon, including Metro Manila.‐no‐threat‐to‐ph/  

Consumers score rail ticketing scheme By Manila Standard Today | Apr. 03, 2014 at 12:01am Lawyer Oliver San Antonio, of the National Coalition of Filipino Consumers, denounced on Wednesday the Department of Transportation and Communication over the signing of the single ticketing scheme for the commuter rail transport in Metro Manila. “We learned that DOTC officials decided to sign the contract awarding the LRT-MRT (Light Rail Transport-Metro Rail Transport) common ticketing project to AF consortium,” the group said. Spokesman San Antonio said the P1.7-billion deal on the Automated Fare Collection System was signed allegedly in a function room at EDSA Shangri-La Hotel. He said the contract was grossly disadvantageous to the government because the “consortium will only pay about P200 million (while) the rest of the P800 million will be paid though installments within a period of 10 years.” San Antonio said the coalition was wondering why the DoTC had allowed the winning consortium to bid at all when it had a suit with claims against the government.‐score‐rail‐ticketing‐scheme/                      

Electricity prices likely higher in April — Meralco By Alena Mae S. Flores | Apr. 03, 2014 at 12:01am Electricity prices will likely increase in April, after the tight power supply in March created upward pressures on trading at the wholesale electricity spot market, an official of Manila Electric Co. said Wednesday. Meralco head of utility economics Lawrence Fernandez, however, assured the high generation charges in December and January would not be replicated in April. “We noted an increase in demand from February to Mach of around 100 megawatts. Coupled with the outages of some large power plants, [including] one unit of Ilijan, we expect that there was upward pressure on spot market prices in March which may affect the generation charge in April,” Fernandez said. Meralco said to address the increasing power demand and lessen dependence on WESM, it signed separate interim power supply agreements with Toledo Power Corp. for up to 28 MW with an option for an additional 9 MW and Panay Power Corp. for 27 MW covering the period April 1 to June 30, 2014. Meralco also executed interim supply agreements with 1590 Energy Corp. for the purchase of 140 MW of capacity and associated energy output from the latter’s Bauang power plant. “The IPSAs were entered into to address the increase in demand and mitigate the company’s exposure to the WESM during the summer months,” Meralco said. Meanwhile, the Energy Regulatory Commission directed Philippine Electricity Market Corp. to extend the payment period for the market participants at WESM by another 45 days.‐prices‐likely‐higher‐in‐april‐ meralco/          

LandBank set to open 10 branches this year By Julito G. Rada | Apr. 03, 2014 at 12:01am State-owned Land Bank of the Philippines, the fourth-largest bank in terms of assets, plans to open 10 new branches this year to expand coverage in underserved areas in the country. The bank said this would bring its total branches nationwide to 351, servicing farmers and fisherfolk, micro, small and medium enterprises as well as other priority sectors. LankBank also has 1,238 automated teller machines nationwide. “We remain aggressive in expanding our network and bringing banking services closer to unbanked and underserved areas, in line with our continuing efforts towards greater financial inclusion,” LandBank president and chief executive Gilda Pico said. The bank said of the targeted 10 new branches, two recently opened in Carmen (Rosales), Pangasinan and at the GSIS headquarters in Pasay City. The new branch in Carmen, Pangasinan is the bank’s eighth branch in the province that caters to clients in Carmen as well as the neighboring municipalities of Sto. Tomas, Alcala, Balungao and Bautista. Pico said the bank was committed to aggressively expand its financial and technical support to better serve its priority sectors and all those who need it most. She said this was in line with the bank’s countryside development mandate and in support of the government’s thrust towards inclusive growth. The priority sectors of LandBank include small farmers and fisherfolk and their associations, agri- and aqua-businesses, agri-aqua related projects of local government units and governmentowned and –controlled corporations, small and medium enterprises, communication, transportation, housing, education, healthcare, environment-related projects and tourism.‐set‐to‐open‐10‐branches‐this‐year/        

‘Charge PNoy allies too’ By Sara Susanne D. Fabunan, Maricel V. Cruz and Macon Ramos-Araneta | Apr. 03, 2014 at 12:01am Binay, House bloc dare govt avoid partisanship VICE President Jejomar Binay dared the government Wednesday to prosecute not only his allies, but those allied with the Aquino administration implicated in the pork barrel scam. Binay’s statement followed the announcement Tuesday by the Office of the Ombudsman that it would file plunder and graft charges against three opposition senators, two of whom were allied with Binay, as well as 44 others that included Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam. “If it stops with filing of the plunder cases against three senators who are not political allies and confines itselt to the [Janet] Napoles case, it will create the impression of being selective, and that political partisanship, not justice, is the sole motivation behind these charges,” Binay said in a statement. The President’s spokesman Herminio Coloma said there was no concerted effort to target the opposition lawmakers, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr., even though the Ombudsman’s announcement coincided with the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee recommendation that they be charged. On Wednesday, the Bureau of Internal Revenue said it would also investigate the three opposition senators for tax violations. Estrada denounced what he called the Ombudsman’s selective or “color-coded” indictment of opposition lawmakers, and cast doubts on its claims of “a careful and thorough investigation.” “In my experience, the trite expression ‘after a careful and thorough investigation’ used in resolutions by government investigators is the best indicator that no such thing was done. Ask for proof and they cannot present evidence of such a careful and thorough investigation,” Estrada said. He added that the charges against him were politically motivated, since he is widely expected to run for the vice presidency in 2016. Revilla, on the other hand, is expected to be the standard bearer for the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) two years from now. Enrile, whose term ends in 2016, is a top official of the opposition and one of the founders of the United Nationalist Alliance.

“We were only three opposition senators highlighted (in the filing). There were no administration lawmakers. This is really suspicious,” Estrada told a TV interview on ABS-CBN Wednesday. Binay said the government must also file cases against administration allies who were cited in the Commission on Audit (COA) report released last year. “The public would want no less than full accountability from its public officials. The rule of law must prevail regardless of stature or political affiliations,” Binay said. “The COA has mentioned other legislators and other fake NGOs [non-government organizations] in a comprehensive report last year. We hope the concerned government agencies will act on these findings with the same determination and focus displayed in the Napoles case,” he said. While Enrile and Estrada are Binay’s allies in the United Nationalist Alliance, Revilla from the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats is an ally of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. All three senators have been accused of channeling their pork barrel to bogus NGOs set up by Napoles for ghost projects in exchange for kickbacks. All three have denied the charges. Binay said he was confident that the three senators would receive fair treatment in court. He also said that the Ombudsman’s decision to file the case against them was “a test of fairness and trustworthiness of our legal system.” The three senators were among 47 people facing plunder, malversation and graft charges before the Ombudsman. Revilla was accused of pocketing P224.5 million; Enrile, P172.8 million; and Estrada, P183.79 million in kickbacks. Also on the list were Masbate Gov. Rizalina Seachon-Lanete, former congressmen Edgar Valdez of the APEC party-list, Samuel Dangwa of Benguet, Constantino Jaraula of Cagayan de Oro, and Richard Cambe, Pauline Labayen, Joy Sumalpong, Jeannete Dela Cruz, Erwin Dangwa, and Carlos Lozada. Former National Agribusiness Corp. president Alan Javellana, National Livelihood Development Corp. president Gondelina Amata, Technology Resource Center former director general Antonio Ortiz, TRC director general Dennis Cunanan, and Agriculture Assistant Secretary Salvador Salacup were also included in the list. The independent minority bloc in the House of Representatives denounced what it called the continuing political persecution of Administration critics, and demanded that the Palace move against its allies who were implicated in the pork barrel scandal as well.

“We protest the deliberate delays in the filing of complaints and charges against Palace allies whose names have been mentioned in the pork barrel scam. The political persecution against critics... must stop now,” said Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, who leads the bloc. “Everybody should be made answerable and accountable. Our authorities should not hesitate to go after people regardless of their political affiliation,” he added. Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz demanded that officials of the Department of Budget and Management, COA and legislators identified with the Aquino administration also be made accountable for their role in the pork barrel scam. Gabriela party-list Rep. Luz Ilagan urged the Aquino government to also focus its attention on the filing of cases against other lawmakers who are allies of the President and his administration. “Aquino succeeded in going after his political opponents. While it may be a positive development in holding corrupt officials responsible, still it is not enough. They haven’t gone to jail yet and many of the guilty co-conspirators are still free,” Ilagan told the Manila Standard. Ilagan also assailed the Aquino government of selective persecution. “The vindictiveness is obvious here but the determination to see justice find its course is missing,” Ilagan added. Paranaque City Rep. Gus Tambunting, on the other hand, said the filing of charges would give the lawmakers an opportunity to defend themselves in court. “The indictments will provide a forum for the respondents to formally answer the charges and air their side on the controversy.” Tambunting said. House Deputy Majority Leader Sherwin Tugna said he believed the Office of the Ombudsman had strong cases against the respondents. “Even if it took some time for the Ombudsman to resolve the preliminary investigation, I am convinced that the Ombudsman has well-prepared cases because it underwent a thorough review and preparation,” Tugna said. Napoles was named co-defendant in each of the cases against the three senators along with John Raymond de Asis and John Ronald Lim, who were identified as officials of her NGOs. Named in two counts in connection with Enrile and Estrada was Ruby Tuason, who is hoping to turn state witness. Also facing one plunder case each are Enrile’s chief of staff Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, Revilla’s chief political staff Richard Cambe and Estrada’s appointments staff Pauline Therese Mary Labayen.

Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan said all the defendants still have an opportunity to file motions for reconsideration within five days upon receipt of the Ombudsman’s resolution. He said the Ombudsman was considering asking the anti-graft court, the Sandiganbayan, to immediately freeze the assets of all defendants through a writ of preliminary attachment and seek hold departure orders against them. Bail is not allowed for plunder, a capital offense, so all the defendants face possible arest and detention for the duration of the trial. Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, who has had a long-running feud with Enrile, said once the Ombudsman files the case with the Sandiganbayan, the accused senators “are automatically and instantaneously” suspended from public office. They will then be dragged to jail, she said.‐charge‐pnoy‐allies‐too‐/                                

PhilHealth advocacy launched By Manila Standard Today | Apr. 03, 2014 at 12:01am President Benigno S. Aquino III addressed thousands of less privileged families at the launching of an advocacy initiated by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and the Department of Health, at the Quezon City Memorial Circle. Aquino said that the Alaga Ka program is a convergence of national and local government resources for the health care of families included in the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction or Listahanan of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. He called on the local chief executives to let the national government know what else they need to make sure that these health services are brought to the farthest regions of the country. Alexander A. Padilla, PhilHealth President and CEO, said that this year, 14.7 million poor families are assured of PhilHealth coverage by virtue of the increased government resources valued at P35 billion for the annual premium contribution of these families. Also present during the launch ceremonies were Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona, Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro, and Mayors Herbert Bautista of Quezon City, Del de Guzman of Marikina City, Len Oreta of Malabon City and John Rey Tiangco of Navotas City.‐advocacy‐launched/                      

P100,000 award for cleanest river bared By Johanne Macob | Apr. 03, 2014 at 12:01am LINGAYEN, Pangasinan—The Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) has offered up to P100,000 award in its annual search for the “Cleanest River and Riverbank” among the towns and cities of the province, officials said on Wednesday. Provincial Agriculturist Dalisay Moya said this year’s “Pakar Awards” has been divided in various categories involving protection, management and preservation of river systems in Pangasinan. “Awarding will be on May 1 at the Banaga bridge in Bugallon town after the fluvial parade during the Banca Parada of the sea festival,” Moya said. Evaluators of the contest were representatives from various government agencies and the academe. Field evaluation and validation of the entries will start on April 1-4. Consolidation of results of tabulation and compilation of photos of finalists in various categories was scheduled on April 8 and last day of the elimination round will be on April 10. The winning town will receive P100,000, and the baragay winner will receive P50,000. Winners of the Best Practices Award will receive P25,000.‐000‐award‐for‐cleanest‐river‐bared/                    

Enrile ‘too old to go to jail’ April 2, 2014 10:05 pm  

by Jomar Canlas Senior Reporter and Jefferson Antiporda Reporter Sometimes, being old has its advantages. Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile may not spend a day in jail even if he is arrested for plunder because he is well into his twilight years. Enrile is 90 years old. He was born on February 14, 1924. In an interview, retired Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuno said Enrile can enjoy “privileges” under the law once plunder and graft charges are filed against him by the Office of the Ombudsman at the Sandiganbayan. Zuno, a veteran criminal prosecutor, was one of those who worked for the conviction of former president Joseph Estrada for plunder and former Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Romeo Jalosjos for the crime of rape. According to Zuno, Enrile can escape jail because the Revised Penal Code allows mitigating circumstances to lower the penalty or punishment for indicted people who are 70 years old and above. Thus, if the verdict is life imprisonment, the penalty will be lowered by one degree. “Under the Revised Penal Code, [being] 70 years [old] and above… will be a mitigating circumstance and the penalty shall be lowered,” he said.If Enrile is sickly, he can also ask for a hospital arrest. Or he can request that he be placed under the custody of the Senate President since he is a sitting senator. If he is convicted, Enrile can also automatically appeal for presidential pardon because of his age. Zuno said it will take years before the trial is completed. He cited the plunder trial of Estrada, which took six years. If the Sandiganbayan suspends Enrile, Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, work at the Senate will go on as usual, according to Sen. Francis Escudero. Escudero said the upper chamber can still function and pass measures even if the number of senators drops to 21.The senator explained that to be able to pass a measure, the Senate only needs to have a quorum and the vote of the majority of senators.‐too‐old‐to‐go‐to‐jail/87159/

Filipinos still poor despite robust economy – Tagle April 2, 2014 10:00 pm   by Robertzon F. Ramirez The government apparently has much explaining to do to Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle. In a recent interview on “Everyday Faith Live” show of Tele Care, a New York-based Catholic television network, Tagle wondered why Philippine economic growth has not trickled down to majority of Filipinos.He pointed out that the country posted the highest growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013 among member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and yet the achievement has apparently failed to improve the lives of the masses. Asean groups Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.“Where is this growth going? How come there is this ‘very accelerated growth economically,’ but ordinary people remain poor?” Tagle said when asked to comment about the economic balance in the Philippines. The Manila archbishop, however, hailed the efforts of the Aquino administration and private businessmen in pursuing better economic growth last year.“We are rejoicing at the fact [that], I think, last year, the Philippines registered the highest GDP growth in Southeast Asia, and we have to salute our government and the business sector,” he said.Recently, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported an increase in the number of unemployed Filipinos despite the country’s above-target economic growth in 2013. The PSA said the unemployment rate climbed to 7.5 percent from last year’s 7.1 percent even after the country’s GDP grew 7.2 percent in 2013.The report means that there are 2.96 million jobless Filipino families at the start of 2014, up from 2.78 million in 2013.A Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey released in January found that more Filipino families considered themselves poor at the end of 2013. SWS data showed that 11.8 million or 55 percent of families rated themselves as “poor,” while some 8.8 million families or 41 percent said they were “food-poor.”“This [finding] has really disturbed the initial exuberance in receiving this news [on the GDP growth in 2013],” Tagle said.Both self-rated poverty and self-rated food poverty rose from the previous quarter and were above their four-quarter averages for 2013, the SWS noted.‐still‐poor‐despite‐robust‐economy‐tagle/87153/   

Sandigan lets Gloria Arroyo spend birthday with family April 2, 2014 9:54 pm   by Reina Tolentino Reporter Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo can spend her birthday with her family this year, but in detention. The Sandiganbayan First Division on Wednesday granted Arroyo’s motion to allow her immediate family to stay with her for three days this week. “For humanitarian considerations, and there being no objection [or] opposition from the prosecution, the court hereby grants the said motion,” the one-page resolution read. Arroyo will turn 67 on April 5. On Monday, she filed an urgent motion asking the court to allow her family entry to the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) after the Sandiganbayan denied her request for a three-day furlough so that she can travel to Pampanga. Since 2011, Arroyo has been under hospital arrest at the VMMC for electoral sabotage. The court’s first division, which is hearing her plunder case in connection with the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) fund scam, also directed Arroyo to submit the list of immediate family members to the Police Security and Protection Group of the Philippine National Police (PNP-PSPG) a day before her birthday. They will be allowed to stay at the VMMC from April 4 to 6. Malacañang refused to comment on the Sandiganbayan decision but sent Arroyo an advanced birthday greeting. Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Palace wished the former president “happiness” on her birthday. “We are greeting her on her birthday and we hope it will be a happy occasion with her loved ones,” Coloma told reporters.‐lets‐gloria‐arroyo‐spend‐birthday‐with‐family/87142/   

Most of new HIV victims homosexuals April 2, 2014 9:53 pm   by GHIO ONG The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected an additional 486 Filipinos in February this year, most of them young men. The virus was acquired through homosexual or bisexual contact, according to a study by the Department of Health (DOH). Data from the Philippine HIV/AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) Registry revealed that out of the 486 new HIV cases, men accounted for 468 or 96 percent and women, 18 or four percent. Also, 219 people aged 15 to 29 got the virus, with 213 of them men. The data disclosed that 458 of the 486 HIV cases were acquired through sexual contact, with 51 percent classified as homosexual or having sex with the same gender, 31 percent as bisexual or with both men and women and 18 percent as heterosexual or with the opposite gender. The remaining 28 infections were acquired through use of injectable drugs. The National Capital Region (Metro Manila) topped the table with 42 percent of the 486 HIV cases, while 14 percent came from Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), 10 percent from Central Luzon, 9 percent from Central Visayas and 8 percent from Davao region. Also, of the 486 infected, 50 were overseas Filipino workers. The data, however, said 50 of the reported HIV cases in February were still asymptomatic, or may not have exhibited any symptom. More than three months into 2014, 934 people were infected with HIV, while 93 of them got AIDS, according to the statistics. Since 1984, 17,450 HIV cases have been reported to the Health department, with 1,599 of them classified as AIDS cases. In a briefing last month, Teresita Bagasao, country coordinator for the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, said reported HIV cases in the Philippines were on an upward trend. “Sad to say, we are included among nine countries with over 25 percent new reported infections,” Bagasao said. “It is worrisome because the new infections that have been reported have come only in the last three years.”‐of‐new‐hiv‐victims‐homosexuals/87140/ 

Inflation Q1 average seen at 4.2%; to ease later – think tank April 2, 2014 9:00 pm   by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO Reporter Inflation is likely to average 4.2 percent in the first quarter of the year but will ease in the succeeding quarters as the agriculture and energy sectors may recover from the impact of recent calamities and bring consumer prices back to normal levels, a local think tank said.First Metro Investment Corp. (FMIC) – University of Asia & Pacific (UA&P) Market Research in its newsletter The Market Call said supply constraints triggered by recent weather related production disruptions resulted in a slightly faster pace of inflation in January of 4.2 percent, compared with 4.1 percent recorded in December.The acceleration was traced to a 5.6 percent rise in the heavily weighted food and non-alcoholic beverages.“The recent upward trend in inflation appears to stem from supply shocks, but the anticipation of the agricultural sector’s recovery in the second quarter should help ease food prices … [We] maintain our view that inflation will normalize in the coming months,” First Metro Investment Corp. (FMIC) – University of Asia & Pacific (UA&P) Market Research said in its publication The Market Call. For the FMIC – UA&P, the rise in inflation for the period appears to be temporary blips because of supply shortages in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda and the government’s overoptimism about rice output in the fourth quarter of 2013.“We expect inflation to ease as food supplies become more adequate and power producers complete the rehabilitation and resume operations,” it said.The group’s inflation outlook is premised on lower crude oil dollar prices, as forecast by the US Energy Information Administration.The publication noted that in January, crude oil prices dropped across the board due to weak global demand and higher production from outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.Inflation data for March is scheduled for release by the Philippine Statistical Authority and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Friday.The central bank has forecast that March inflation might settle within the 3.7 percent to 4.6 percent range as upward price pressures are seen coming from higher rice prices because of the lean season, while lower electricity rates and petroleum prices could offset some of the upside pressures.The BSP also lowered its inflation forecast for full-year 2014 to 4.2 percent from a previous projection of 4.3 percent as inflation expectations remain broadly aligned with its 3-percent to 5-percent target band.‐q1‐average‐seen‐at‐4‐2‐to‐ease‐later‐think‐ tank/87104/     

Meralco secures supply from 3 power firms ahead of peak summer demand April 2, 2014 8:59 pm   THE Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) has signed agreements with three power producers to meet an expected increase in demand during the summer months and avoid being caught up in price fluctuations on the wholesale electricity spot market. The power distributor said in a regulatory filing to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Wednesday it would secure up to a combined 204 megawatts of power under separate interim power supply agreements (IPSAs) that it forged with Toledo Power Co., Panay Power Corporation and 1590 Energy Corporation. Toledo Power has agreed to supply to Meralco 28 megawatts of power with an option for an additional 9 megawatts, while Panay Power will supply up to 27 megawatts. Both supply agreements will be from April 1 up to June 30 of this year. Meralco will source up to 140 megawatts from 1590 Energy and associated energy output from its power plant in Bauang, Batangas. “The IPSAs were entered into to address the increase in demand and mitigate the company’s exposure to the wholesale electricity spot market (WESM) during the summer months,” Meralco first vice president and head of legal William Pamintuan said in the filing to the local bourse. The supply agreements are subject to Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) approval, and will expire on June 30 this year unless terminated earlier or extended. It was earlier reported that the Department of Energy has called on Meralco to forge power supply contracts to bolster its power supply capability ahead of an expected spike in electricity demand during the summer months. Meralco president Oscar Reyes said the firm said it recognizes the merits of getting additional power supply, but the company’s ability to do this will depend on how fast the ERC can approve the power supply agreements between Meralco and power producers.‐secures‐supply‐from‐3‐power‐firms‐ahead‐of‐peak‐ summer‐demand/87099/       

PH ranks 64th among 138 in global trade index April 2, 2014 8:57 pm   by Volt Palaña Reporter The Philippines has risen to claim the 64th spot among 138 surveyed economies, up eight places, in the Enabling Trade Index, set out in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) Global Enabling Trade Report 2014. Since 2010, the Philippines has risen 28 places in the index, ranking 92nd out of 125 economies in 2010 and 72nd out of 132 economies in 2012. The Enabling Trade Index “assesses the extent to which economies have in place institutions, policies, infrastructures and services facilitating the free flow of goods over borders and to their destination.” Makati Business Club executive director Peter Perfecto said the improvement in the country’s ranking came despite persistent challenges in various areas. He said the Philippines enjoys competitive advantages in 15 areas, including specific tariffs, tariffs faced, cost to export, cost to import, tariff dispersion, ease and affordability of shipment and available international airline seats in kilometers per week. They also include access to finance, share of duty-free imports, number of distinct tariffs, efficiency of clearance process, tariff rate, number of days to import, and ICT use for business-to-business transactions. While there are increasing improvements in the manner in which trade is being conducted in the country, the Global Enabling Report also cited the top five most problematic issues in exports of goods to the Philippines. These are: the high cost or delays caused by domestic transportation; access to imported inputs at competitive prices; technical requirements and standards abroad; identification of potential markets and buyers; and, difficulties in meeting quality/quantity requirements of buyers. Imports from the Philippines are also hampered by various issues. These are: burdensome import procedures; corruption at the border; tariffs; high cost or delays caused by domestic transportation; and high cost or delays caused by international transportation. Under the WEF report, trade-enabling factors are classified under four categories: market access; border administration; infrastructure; and operating environment. Under these four sub-indexes are seven pillars which measure critical aspects of enabling trade: domestic market access; foreign market access; efficiency and transparency of border administration; availability and

quality of transport infrastructure; availability and quality of transport services; availability and use of ICTs; and operating environment. “The Philippines ranks 64th on the ETI, and 5th within Asean. The country does well on the domestic market access (19th) and foreign market access (26th) pillars, but room for improvement remains with respect to the other five pillars of the index. It ranks in the bottom half of the ETI sample in all of them. Border administration (71st) is mired by corruption and red tape, two factors also contributing to weakening the general operating environment (82nd). Like many countries in the region, the Philippines’ biggest weakness is the lack of adequate transport infrastructure (96th). The shortcomings are the most severe in the airport (105th) and port (107th) infrastructure. To make things worse, the availability and quality of associated logistics services remains largely insufficient (84th),” the WEF report said. Under the WEF index, Singapore ranked first, with Malaysia in 25th spot and Thailand in 57th. Indonesia ranked 58th, several notches higher than the Philippines in Asean in the overall rankings. Other Asian countries in the WEF ranking are Vietnam (72nd), Cambodia (93rd), Lao DPR (98th) and Myanmar (121st). The MBC has been the WEF’s partner institute in the Philippines since 1994, specifically in conducting the annual Executive Opinion Survey for the Global Competitiveness Report, Global Enabling Trade Report, Global Information Technology Report, Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report and the Gender Gap Report.‐ranks‐64th‐among‐138‐in‐global‐trade‐index/87094/                      

Posted on April 02, 2014 11:08:23 PM By Bettina Faye V. Roc, Senior Reporter

Inflation to ‘normalize’ INFLATION is expected to remain elevated but could ease as supply constraints arising from  last year’s calamities begin to wane, according to First Metro Investment Corp. (FMIC) and the  University of Asia & the Pacific (UA&P).  FMIC and UA&P, in the March issue of their “Market  Call” report released yesterday, said they expect a slower rise in consumer prices starting this  quarter.  “The recent upward trend in inflation appears to stem from supply shocks, but the anticipation  of the agricultural sector’s recovery in the second quarter should help ease food prices, leaving  us to maintain our view that inflation will normalize in the coming months,” they said.  The report noted that the faster inflation seen from December to January appear to be  “temporary blips.” Inflation in December came in at 4.1%, which accelerated slightly to 4.2% in  January.  FMIC and UA&P said the rise in prices during those months was mainly due to supply shortages  related to the aftermath of super‐typhoon Yolanda’s devastation and the government’s “over  optimism” for rice output in the last quarter of 2013.  Inflation in the first quarter, they noted, is likely to average at 4.2% before easing slightly to  4.1% by this month. The rate was 4.1% in February, bringing the year‐to‐date average to 4.2.  Official March inflation data will be released by the Philippine Statistics Authority this Friday. A  BusinessWorld poll of 10 economists had a median forecast of 4.2%.  The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), meanwhile, last month said that March’s consumer price  rise would fall within a 3.7‐4.6% range.  FMIC and UA&P added that inflation was likewise expected to slow for the rest of the second  and third quarters “as rice imports actually reach the hands of consumers and world crude oil  prices finally succumb to weak global demand and higher non‐OPEC (Organization of  Petroleum Exporting Countries) production.”    “We expect inflation to ease as food supplies become more adequate and power producers  complete rehabilitation and resume operations,” they said. “Our expectation is further  anchored on lower crude oil dollar prices as forecast by the US Energy Information  Administration.”  In January, FMIC and UA&P said they expected inflation to average between 3.8‐4% this year.  The central bank aims to keep the annual rise in consumer prices within 3‐5% for this year. It  has a full‐year forecast of 4.2%.‐to‐ %E2%80%98normalize%E2%80%99&id=85621   

Posted on April 02, 2014 11:07:34 PM By Daryll Edisonn D. Saclag, Reporter

Trade better but snags remain  The country was ranked 64th out of 138 economies in the 2014 Global Enabling Trade Report,  higher than its previous placing of 72nd out of 132 in 2012. Two years before that the  Philippines was 92nd out of 125, falling from 82nd out of 121 and 82nd out of 118, respectively,  in the 2009 and 2008 editions of the report.    The latest improvement was driven by good showings in terms of market access (up three  places to 11th), border administration (up a place to 71st), infrastructure (up two to 89th) and  business environment (up 25 to 82nd).    Much still needs to be done, however, as the report particularly noted that “border  administration is mired by corruption and red tape, two factors also contributing to weakening  the general operating environment.”    “Like many countries in the region, the Philippines’ biggest weakness is the lack of adequate  transport infrastructure,” it added.    “The shortcomings are the most severe in the airport and port infrastructure. To make things  worse, the availability and quality of associated logistics services remains largely insufficient.”    High cost or delays caused by domestic transportation was said to be the most problematic  factor for trade, the report noted, followed by access to imported inputs at competitive prices,  technical standards and requirements abroad, identifying potential markets and buyers, and  difficulties in meeting the quantity/quality required by buyers.    For importing, meanwhile, the most problematic were burdensome import procedures,  corruption at the border, tariffs, and high costs or delays caused by both domestic and  international transportation.    In Southeast Asia, the Philippines overtook Vietnam (72nd) but still lagged behind Singapore  (which topped the global ranking), Malaysia (25th), Thailand (57th) and Indonesia (58th). Also  trailing behind the Philippines were Cambodia (93rd), Laos (98th) and Myanmar (121st).   

Globally, the other economies in the top 10 aside from Singapore were Hong Kong, the  Netherlands, New Zealand, Finland, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Chile, Sweden, and  Germany.    Chad ranked last, behind Venezuela and Angola.    Sought for comment, Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. President Sergio R. Ortiz‐Luis, Jr.,  said: “The National Competitiveness Council has been working on areas where we are lagging.  We can see some improvements but there are still a lot of areas we need to work on.”    The industry official called for the passage of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act “to  align the country’s procedures with international standards.”    “This measure is also important come [the establishment of the] ASEAN (Association of  Southeast Asian Nations) Economic Community next year. If you’re not aligned with other  countries in the region, you’re at a disadvantage. Trading partners will hesitate doing business  with you,” Mr. Ortiz‐Luis added.‐better‐but‐ snags‐remain&id=85620                       

Posted on April 02, 2014 11:01:35 PM

CHEd urged to stop school calendar shift A LAWMAKER representing the youth sector has urged the Commission on Higher Education  (CHEd) to stop universities from implementing academic calendar shift saying such a move  poses dire consequences to the country’s educational system.  In a statement, Party‐list Rep. Terry L. Ridon (Kabataan) said:     “The impending calendar shift to be implemented by some  universities in the country is incongruent with the climate,  culture and orientation of our education system. It poses dire ramifications to our students and  faculty.”    Earlier, some higher education institutions in the country expressed intent to shift to an August‐ May academic calendar to “harmonize” the school year in the Philippines with that of foreign  educational institutions, particularly universities and colleges within the Association of  Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).    The move is also tied to the upcoming ASEAN regional integration scheduled next year.    The University of the Philippines (UP) system will start implementing the August‐May academic  calendar for the 2014‐2015 school year, while the Ateneo de Manila University earlier  announced it would implement the change for the 2015‐ 2016 school year.    The De La Salle University, the University of Sto. Tomas and the Adamson University are also  mulling an academic calendar shift although said schools have yet to finalize plans.    SYNCHRONIZATION  UP’s move to shift the start of classes to August is to “allow greater synchronization of the  Philippine academic calendar with those of ASEAN, Northeast Asian (China and Korea) and the  American and European universities”.    It also allows the UP faculty to join the overseas training programs and summer institutes that  usually take place in the months of June and July.    In pushing for his proposal, Mr. Ridon said the CHEd is “not powerless” and has the authority to  stop the implementation of the new school calendar.   

“CHEd actually has the power to stop the academic calendar shift. Considering that all changes  in the academic calendar of private higher education institutions (HEIs) need CHEd approval,  the commission then has the power to reject any and all proposals for calendar shifts,” he said.    Citing pertinent sections of CHEd Memorandum Order No. 40 or the Manual of Regulations for  Private Higher Education Institutions (MORPHE), Mr. Ridon said Section 78 of MORPHE  “prescribes a June opening date for academic years of all higher education institutions.”    “Any change in the prescribed school calendar shall require the approval of the commission.  The application shall be filed with the Regional Office concerned not later than fifteen (15) days  before the opening of the school term,” he quoted the MORPHE as saying.    With this, Mr. Ridon noted that disapproving the proposed calendar shift “is the most logical  thing to do, considering that even CHEd’s technical working group on the issue advised against  it.”    Citing a CHEd statement released last March 26, he said the commission does not advise a  change in the academic calendar ‐‐ explaining that the current June opening of classes is still  the “most feasible” ‐‐ considering factors including “agricultural cycle, climate and integration  with the basic education system of the country.”    “We urge CHEd not only to advise against the academic calendar shift, but to rule against any  and all proposals for such,” Mr. Ridon reiterated.    Mr. Ridon claimed the planned academic calendar shift of some universities in the country and  the K‐12 program of the government “is market‐ and profit‐driven.” ‐‐ ICCD‐urged‐to‐stop‐ school‐calendar‐shift&id=85609             

Posted on April 02, 2014 10:22:18 PM

Stronger growth seen SINGAPORE ‐‐ Concepcion Industrial Corp. (CIC) expects even stronger profit growth this year  with the contribution of new acquisitions, a top company official told visiting Philippine‐based  reporters here late Tuesday.    “We had a very strong growth last year, which is in line with our third‐quarter results,” CIC  Chief Executive Officer Raul Joseph A. Concepcion said after the Investment ASEAN 2014  Conference held at The Fullerton Hotel.    “Two areas of growth are consumer appliances and the industrial solutions group.”    He added that 2014 profit is expected to accelerate faster with the acquisition of stakes in two  companies.    “Moving forward to 2014, we expect that because of the new acquisitions we have. These will  definitely drive our profits and revenues,” the official said.    “Of course, the core business will also grow but the addition of new acquisitions will provide  exciting growth in the second half of 2014,” Mr. Concepcion added.    Last month, CIC acquired 51% of Otis E&M Company Philippines, Inc., a provider of elevators  and escalators in the country.    The company also owns 52% of Concepcion Midea, Inc., a joint venture with Midea Electric  Trading (Singapore) Co. Pte. Ltd. that was formed in November last year.    “The joint venture with Midea will strengthen the consumer side of our business,” Mr.  Concepcion explained.    “Midea will plug holes where we do not have products like ovens, ranges, and laundry  appliances,” he added, noting that this will complement his company’s core air‐conditioning  and refrigerator businesses.    He said the acquisition of a majority stake in Otis will also strengthen the business.    “We will leverage on our distribution network and brand reputation,” Mr. Concepcion added. 

Besides these acquisitions, Mr. Concepcion also expressed confidence on the growing economy  of the Philippines.    “We have a country which is well‐managed today and has very strong sources of revenues,” he  noted.    “On top of that, we have confidence in the leadership of the country. We see very good fiscal  management of people running the country and investments are coming in.”    CIC, which made its debut at the Philippine bourse in November last year, saw net income rise  14.7% to P607.8 million as of September last year from P529.7 million in the same nine months  in 2012.    Operating revenues grew 19.6% to P893.7 million from P747.5 million, while operating expense  soared 26.8% to P1.1 billion from P867.3 million.    Shares of the company gained P1 or 3.57% to close P29 apiece yesterday from P28 each on  Tuesday. ‐‐ Claire‐Ann Marie C. Feliciano‐growth‐ seen&id=85602                     

Posted on April 02, 2014 10:14:05 PM

Peso weakens ahead of US jobs data THE PESO snapped its three‐day winning streak against the dollar yesterday, missing out on a  rally in Asian currencies that were lifted by improved sentiment in the wake of strong US  economic data.  The peso weakened by 13.5 centavos to settle at P44.88 against     the dollar, according to data from the Philippine Dealing &  Exchange Corp. (PDEx). It opened at P44.76 against the  greenback, and traded at P44.75, at best, before closing near its intraday low.  Traders said the peso lost steam on bets that strong US jobs data due out on Friday would favor  the dollar, bringing investor focus back to US Federal Reserve policy.  “Yes, it could be a technical correction,” said a trader interviewed by phone. “But it’s also [the  market] beginning [to react] to the expectation of strong non‐farm payrolls data [on Friday].”  “I think the expectation is good, so traders are reducing their short dollar position and are  already taking a long position,” the trader said.  Employers are expected to have added 200,000 jobs in March, up from February’s 175,000,  according to a market survey.  Investors also took positions ahead of Thursday’s policy meeting by the European Central Bank.  “It’s a rate‐setting meeting, so that will affect trading,” the trader said.  In an email yesterday, MetisEtrade currency strategist Yroen Guaya B. Melgar said:  “Employment change above the estimated 192,000 would provide more positive momentum  for the US dollar and would most likely contribute to the appreciation of [the dollar against the  peso],” she said.  STRONG GREENBACK  The dollar extended its gains against the yen in Asia Wednesday after upbeat manufacturing  data from the United States and Europe boosted sentiment ahead of key US jobs figures this  week.  In Tokyo afternoon trading, the greenback fetched 103.76 yen, up from 103.66 yen in New York  Tuesday.  “If the (jobs data on Friday) beat the market forecast, the dollar may start rising toward 105  yen,” said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief strategist at Praevidentia Strategy.  The euro rose to 143.26 yen from 142.98 yen, while also edged up to $1.3805 from $1.3793.  Regional sentiment was already up after China said Tuesday its official purchasing managers  index ticked up in March after hitting an eight‐month low in February, beating expectations.  Later, Markit Economics said its eurozone PMI for March stood at 53.0. The figure is down from  February’s 53.2 but the average reading over the first quarter as a whole was 53.4, which it 

saidwas the “best outcome since the second quarter of 2011”.  A reading above 50 denotes expansion while anything below points to contraction.  Then the US Institute for Supply Management said its PMI hit 53.7 from 53.2 the previous  month. ISM also said comments from businesses surveyed “reflect favourable demand and  good business conditions”.  The upbeat slate of data spurred dollar buying and a move away from the yen, which investors  tend to scoop up in times of uncertainty and turmoil.  The US data “was enough to convince investors that the US economy continues to gather  momentum after the period of severe weather” at the start of the year, Credit Agricole said.  The euro’s move higher came a day before the European Central Bank holds a policy meeting,  with the market backing off earlier expectations of a move to ease rates to address low  inflation.  Analysts are increasingly of the view that the ECB will stand pat at its meeting on Thursday,  despite eurozone inflation slipping to 0.5 percent in March, the lowest rate since October 2009  at the height of the financial crisis.  The bloc’s inflation rate has trended steadily lower in recent months, coming in well below the  ECB’s target rate of just under 2.0 percent, and fuelling concerns of deflation.  The dollar was mixed against other Asia‐Pacific currencies. It firmed to 11,300.00 Indonesian  rupiah from 11,276.50 rupiah on Tuesday and to Sg$1.2596 from Sg$1.2587.  It slipped to 1,055.90 South Korean won from 1,059.35 won and to 59.67 Indian rupees from  59.89 rupees. The greenback was flat at 32.38 Thai baht.  The Australian dollar weakened to 92.35 US cents from 92.64 cents.  The Chinese yuan fetched 16.73 yen against 16.61 yen. ‐‐ with AFP‐weakens‐ahead‐of‐ US‐jobs‐data&id=85600                 

CSC junks MMDA employees union plea for payment of 2011 CNA incentives Written by  Pat C. Santos Thursday, 03 April 2014 00:00   The Civil Service Commission (CSC) has dismissed the demand of the employees’ union of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for the payment of their 2011 Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA) incentive, saying the MMDA management had no savings that year to pay for their benefits. In a decision promulgated on March 14, the CSC’s five-man Public Sector Labor-Management Council (PSLMC) ruled that the demand of the Kapisanan Para sa Kagalingan ng mga Kawani ng MMDA (KKK-MMDA) “cannot be given due course in the absence of savings for the year 2011.” Citing Article X of the CNA entered into between MMDA and KKK on Sept. 30, 2011, PSLMC said it is clear that the CNA incentive can only be released to the employees “subject to the availability of public funds.” “The CNA incentive can only be granted to the (MMDA) employees only after satisfying or paying the mandatory obligations of the agency…said stipulation is clear that the contracting parties agreed that payment of mandatory obligations will take precedence over the grant of CNA incentive. Hence, KKK-MMDA cannot demand otherwise,” the council said in its decision. PSLMC is composed of CSC Chairman Francisco Duque III as the council chairman, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz as vice chairman and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad as members. The case stemmed from an Oct. 3, 2012 letter of KKK-MMDA president Jaime Enriquez to the CSC asking for an investigation into the non-release of their 2011 CNA incentive which amounts to at least P25,000 per employee. Enriquez alleged the MMDA still has P211,763 million in time deposit and P94 million savings from the agency’s 2011 Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) which, he said, are enough to fund the employees’ CNA incentive. But the MMDA management asserted that the amounts are not part of the savings which can be utilized to pay the 2011 CNA incentives since the subject funds are earmarked for the payment of the agency’s current mandatory obligation such as the garbage tipping fees. The MMDA management submitted to the CSC-Personnel Relations Office its certified allocations and utilization of 2011 MOOE which showed the MOOE budget allocation for six budgetary items such as traveling, communication, repair and maintenance, transportation and delivery, supplies and materials, and utility expenses. The agency’s savings for 2011 only amounted to P8,023 million. MMDA assistant general manager for finance and administration Edenison Fainsan said the management has been transparent in dealing with KKK officers. “The MMDA Book of Accounts has been open to all concerned. Most importantly, all legally mandated benefits have always been granted to all employees of the MMDA,” Fainsan said in his comment sent to CSC-PRO on Nov. 12, 2012.

The employees union has not been in good terms with Tolentino after the group staged rallies on Edsa that resulted in slapping of suspension of KKK officers and members who are in near retirements.‐section/csc‐junks‐mmda‐employees‐union‐plea‐for‐ payment‐of‐2011‐cna‐incentives                                        

National treasurer backs move to amend BSP charter Written by  Ed Velasco Thursday, 03 April 2014 00:00   The Bureau of Treasury (BTr) is fully supporting the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) aim to amend its antiquated charter as it is no longer attuned to present situation. National Treasurer Lea de Leon said the BSP should not be reeling from losses if its 21-yearpold charter is allowing it to have symmetrical treatment of losses due to aggressive market participation to assure monetary stability of the country. Under the present Republic Act 7653, or the BSP Act of 1993, the central bank is the sole bearer of losses when doing open market operations (OMO). It also uses its own funds to assure foreign exchange will not be anemic either towards any foreign currency or peso. One of the major changes if the BSP law will be amended is the government will be mandated to chip in everytime it does expensive OMO while it will be allowed to do symmetrical treatment of its losses, now amounting to billions of pesos. “Yes, we support amendments,” de Leon told The Daily Tribune. The BSP has been clamoring to have its charter amended for years now but no concrete action has been taken on the bill either in Senate or House of Representatives. De Leon is the latest technocrat to throw full support to amend the charter of the central bank. Several months, ago some finance experts during the Arroyo and Ramos administrations echoed the same support. They are former Finance secretary Margarito Teves, ex-Budget and SSS chief Romulo Neri, former Finance undersecretary Romeo Bernardo and 14-year Monetary Board member Dr. Vicente Valdepenas. Other important amendments that will occur once the bill is enacted into law are the naming of two other deputy governors; BSP will again be allowed to float own bonds; automatic recapitalization from the national government; and limiting the issuance of temporary restraining orders to Court of Appeals everytime the BSP closes any bank.‐treasurer‐backs‐move‐to‐amend‐bsp‐charter             

Neda sees more breaks for RP businesses in AEC integration Written by  Tribune Thursday, 03 April 2014 00:00   Local businesses will have more opportunities for regional expansion and productivity enhancement through the Asean Economic Community (AEC) integration, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda). “Businesses in the Philippines can engage more in intra-regional trade, increase their market access within and outside of Asean, and expand their production capacities in the course of the Asean integration,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, in a speech read by Neda deputy director-general Emmanuel Esguerra at the Gawad Sinop Awarding Ceremonies of Supply Link 2014 on Mar. 27, 2014. The Neda official said the Asean region has a large market of approximately 600 million people, with a combined Gross Domestic Product of $2.2 trillion in 2011 and liberalized tariffs. “Asean is now deemed as an ideal investment site and regional production hub. As the region becomes a more dynamic economic block, it becomes more attractive to the rest of the world as investors are expected to take advantage of economies of scale and the large number of consumers,” said Balisacan. He added that more opportunities for investors and producers of goods and services are expected due to easier movement of goods, services, investment, capital and labor in the region. “Also, Asean is a major producer of palm products such as rubber, coconut, abaca, pineapple and mango products, and rice,” said Balisacan. He also cited a report from the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) on the trade performance of the Asean over the years. “The USITC noted that the region’s outward orientation in trade and investment has been particularly important in driving its international trade, growth and development,” said Balisacan. Meanwhile, he also emphasized that the Philippine government has already set its key roadmap strategies towards AEC integration in 2015, all outlined in the Midterm Update of the Philippine Development Plan 2011 to 2016. “These strategies are aimed at building credible institutions, equalizing development opportunities, creating new growth drivers, and accelerating infrastructure development,” said Balisacan.‐sees‐more‐breaks‐for‐rp‐businesses‐in‐aec‐ integration       

Exporters hail higher exchange rate Written by  PNA Thursday, 03 April 2014 00:00   The higher exchange rate of Philippine peso and US dollar is supporting the export revenue target of the country, Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. president Sergio Ortiz-Luis said. Ortiz-Luis said the export industry is benefitting with the depreciation of peso against US dollar as it brings higher yield of export value. He said the exchange rate which picked up since December last year has contributed to the growth of export receipts. Based on data of the Philippine Statistics Authority, exports revenue jumped to $4.38 billion in January of this year against the same month of last year’s value of $4.01 billion, a 9.3 percent increment. Since Dec. 9, 2013, exchange rate between peso and dollar went up to P44-and-above level which continues until today. The P44-level has persisted from Dec. 9 last year until Jan. 14 of this year and it increased to P45-level on the next day until Mar. 10. It went back to P44-level on Mar. 11 until today; except that it manifested a five-day P45-level in line with announcement of US Federal Reserve’s tapering last two weeks. The industry is aiming for 10 percent growth on overall revenue of offshore trading of goods and services this year.‐hail‐higher‐exchange‐rate 

2014 04 03 quedancor daily news monitor  
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