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Vietnam state firm likely to supply rice to Phl By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 16, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The National Food Authority (NFA) is likely to award the supply contract for 800,000 metric tons (MT) of rice buffer stock for the lean months to Vietnamese state firms as these have offered the lowest prices. The NFA yesterday concluded the bidding for this year’s buffer stock, receiving offers from six firms out of the nine companies that procured bid documents. The results of the bidding would be announced next week after post-qualification evaluation and verification of the submitted bids. NFA spokesman Rex Estoperez said the results of the bidding would be announced next week. Likely to be awarded to Vietnam Southern Food Corporation (Vinafood 2) are 700,000 MT while 100,000 MT are expected to be awarded to Vietnam Northern Food Corporation (Vinafood 1). “We conducted an open bidding so we can get the best price, and from the results of the bidding, Vietnam offered the lowest price,” said Estoperez. Other firms that participated in the bidding were Singapore-based firms Olam International and Roan Agrifactor Corp, Louis Dreyfus Commodities Asia Pte. Ltd., Thailand-based Thai Hua Co. Limited, and Hong Kong-based Singsong HK Ltd. Olam International and Roan Agrifactor were disqualified from participating in the bidding as these firms could not comply with the delivery period of between May to August as stated in the terms of reference. Other firms that applied to bid were LG International., Asia Golden Rice and Toepfer International Asia Pte. Ltd.

Vinafood 2 and Vinafood 1 topped the offers of other companies with bids ranging from $436 per MT to $441.25 per MT against the offers of other bidders that ranged from $469.31 per MT 475.68 per MT. The bid quantity is broken into four lots of 200,000 metric tons (MT) each, although the minimum quantity to be offered per supplier is placed at 100,000 MT. At an exchange rate of P45 to $1, the per metric ton bidders had to beat the quotation of $477.28 per MT upon delivery to NFA warehouses. The NFA has allocated P17.18 billion for the importation this year under an open-bidding scheme that allowed all government and private companies to vie for the supply of Manila’s buffer stock requirement.

To be shipped between May to August in four tranches are well-milled white rice at 15 percent brokens. Rice must be shipped in polypropylene bags at 50 kilograms net each.

NIA foils try to chop up P205-M project in Isabela By Daxim L. Lucas Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:47 am | Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Screengrab from The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) has thwarted an attempt by officials in its Isabela regional office to split an irrigation project into smaller contracts to sidestep a limit on the value of projects that local offices can award to contractors. Documents provided to the Inquirer showed that NIA’s Region 2 office based in Cauayan City attempted to bid out several components of the P205.45-million Dibuluan River irrigation project in San Agustin, Isabela. In November 2013, the regional office—then headed by Irrigation Manager Vicente Galvez— posted bidding notices for the project divided into seven components. The notices were posted on the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS) website. These included two contracts worth P54 million and P36.8 million for the construction of canal and canal structures; and two contracts worth P44.4 million and P43.9 million for the construction of a settling basin, protection works and canal structures. Clearance required The Dibuluan River irrigation project at a cost of P205.45 million would have required clearance from the national office had it been bid out in a single deal. Later that same month, NIA Administrator Claro Maranan sent out a memo to all regional directors, and operations and project managers ordering the temporary suspension of bidding for projects valued at “more than the existing delegated authority.”

Splitting prohibited The so-called “splitting” of contracts is prohibited under NIA’s Memorandum Circular No. 20 of 2012. In the past, splitting allowed regional offices to bid out projects without having to go to their head offices for approval. Under current rules, a NIA regional director has the power to approve projects worth up to P40 million; the agency head, projects worth more than P40 million up to P100 million; and agency board of directors, projects over P100 million. Bidding, work program In the case of the Dibuluan River irrigation project, not only was the deal broken down into several components, the bidding dates were also set ahead of the submission of the project’s program of works to the NIA engineering department. The program of works is the basis for a project’s bidding and is a requirement before it can be bid out. Because of these rules, the NIA acting deputy administrator for operations, Modesto Membreve, ordered the agency’s Region 2 office in December 2013 to repackage and resubmit the program of works for the Dibuluan River irrigation project with only two packages, at most, instead of the seven-component structure. Despite these orders from the head office, NIA’s Region 2 office proceeded with the bidding and opened the bids last Jan. 23 and belatedly presented the program of works for the project to the NIA board, which deferred action on the issue. Rebidding In February, the NIA board approved the revised program of works and ordered that the Dibuluan project be rebid. Galvez has since been relieved of his Region 2 office responsibilities and reassigned to NIA’s Quezon City head office.

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Solon wants fishponds off ‘white spot’ virus by Ellson Quismorio  April 15, 2014  

A neophyte lawmaker has called on the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to come up with appropriate measures to halt the spread of the deadly “White Spot Syndrome Virus,” which has been threatening the country’s fishpond industry with the infection of crustaceans, especially shrimps. The call was issued by Zamboanga 2nd district Rep. Lilia Macrohon-Nuño via House Resolution 783. A vice chairperson of the House committee on agriculture and food, she said the prevalence of the WSSV has been affecting the livelihood of families dependent upon the fishpond industry. According to Nuño, the destructive virus was detected in 2010 when it manifested in fishponds in Cebu, Bulacan, and Zamboanga del Sur. “Its presence is practically all over the Philippines as represented by the geographical location of the provinces attacked by said virus which are situated in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao,” said Nuño in asking for the House probe. She explained the WSSV only attacks crustaceans like prawns, shrimps and crabs. Recently, the virus made its presence felt recently in Zamboanga City affecting three barangays namely Vitali, Tictapul and Mangusu according to the legislator. “It has been reported that the normal harvest of 1 to 1.5 ton per hectare per fishpond has been down to 200 kilos or less because of the prevalence of the virus, thereby affecting the livelihood of the families dependent upon the fishpond industry,” said Macrohon-Nuño. Earlier reports have quoted BFAR Dagupan regional director Nestor Domenden as warning that the WSSV can wipe out all shrimps in a farm in only two to three days and the infection can eventually cripple the country’s shrimp industry. The Philippines is currently the third largest exporter of shrimps in the world. According to experts, the WSSV is the sole member of the virus family Nimaviridae.

Help minimize rice wastage – NFA-9 urges by Nonoy E. Lacson  April 15, 2014  

Zamboanga City – The multi-sectoral group ConsumerNet-9 expressed full support to the advocacy of the Region-9 office of the National Food Authority (NFA-9) to “minimize rice wastage” and save at least P8-billion a year. NFA Regional Licensing Officer Silverio Bandiola said this advocacy came out following a research conducted by the International Rice Research Institute, which revealed that Filipino consumers throw away a staggering 308,000 tons of rice a year – mostly from leftovers – costing between P6-billion and P8-billion. “Take a cursory look at some fastfood and restos in town and you’d notice some people leave so much rice on their plates unconsumed,” Bandiola said. Restaurants could help by allowing customers to order half-cup servings of rice to minimize wastage, Bandiola said Engineer Jamir Omar Abubakar of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Consumer Welfare and Protection Division said this advocacy should begin right at our own individual households. “Dapat turuan ang mga bata at maging ang mga nakakatanda na maging masinop sa pagkain. Kumuha lamang ng sapat upang walang masayang. Every grain of rice counts. Nothing should be wasted,” Abubakar said. “Here in our country, rice is considered an essential commodity. Therefore, if there is one food commodity Filipino consumers must learn to save and conserve, it should be rice. It is our staple and most important food grain and calorie source,” Abubakar explained.

Firm owned by Aquino kin says 358 ha CARP-exempt By Tonette Orejas Inquirer Central Luzon 8:52 am | Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Hacienda Luisita INQUIRER FILE PHOTO CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines—A company owned by the family of President Benigno Aquino III has asked the Tarlac City government to reaffirm the nonagricultural classification of a 358-hectare land in Hacienda Luisita in a bid to save that part of the estate from compulsory acquisition by the national government. The Tarlac Development Corp. (Tadeco), through its official, Josephine Cojuangco-Guingona, made the appeal in a briefing last week for local officials led by Tarlac City Mayor Gelacio Manalang and the city council. Guingona told officials that the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) placed the property under agrarian reform coverage in December 2013 “despite its classification as residential as early as 1985 per Tadeco tax declaration and realty taxes paid as such and accepted by Tarlac City.” In a briefing paper sent to the Inquirer, Tadeco said it had transferred all its property devoted to agriculture, comprising of 4,915 ha, to Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI). HLI managed the stock distribution program (SDP), the first mode of agrarian reform in the sugar estate in 1989. “All other property devoted to residential purposes remained in the name of Tadeco. The Supreme Court recognized that the remaining Tadeco land is nonagricultural,” the paper said.

The November 2011 resolution of the high court said it ruled to distribute to more than 6,000 farm workers the 4,915 ha because these were the only ones covered by the SDP, not the estate’s entire 6,443 ha. Florida Sibayan, acting chair of Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita, has deplored Tadeco in several statements for destroying crops and huts, filing supposedly trumped up charges against farmers and hurting several others during protests since January. Sibayan has asked Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to form a special panel to investigate those incidents. Guingona said the Tarlac City government and the Tarlac provincial government recognized Tadeco land as a residential, commercial, industrial or institutional area. These are stated in Resolution No. 280 of the city council on Sept. 1, 1995; certification of the municipal planning and development coordinator’s office on Sept. 22, 1995; Resolution No. 31 of the city council on Jan. 22, 2003; Resolution No. 113-2003 of the provincial board and Map No. 41 of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan of Tarlac City for 2001-2010, she said. She said Tadeco land in Barangay Balete was near Luisita Industrial Park Corp., the residential village Las Haciendas de Luisita, Luisita Golf and Country Club and the sugar mill, Central Azucarera de Tarlac. Adjacent lots were sold to Rizal Commercial and Banking Corp. and Luisita Realty Corp. as industrial areas. Tadeco land in Barangay Cutcut II is near the Lourdes home lots and Don Pepe Homes, where the families of farm workers and sugar mill managers and supervisors live. Tadeco said these had been “zoned and reserved for low-cost housing for industrial zone locators.” Guingona also presented a resolution of all 11 village chiefs supporting Tadeco’s protest against agrarian reform coverage of the 358 ha. “Tadeco will appreciate any additional resolutions from the Tarlac City government, addressed to DAR again, recognizing its zonal plans and land use that will allow [and] provide a balanced economic development of the city apart from just agriculture,” Tadeco spokesperson Ramon de Vera told city officials.

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Employees ask Malacañang to probe local NIA officials By Carmel Loise Matus Inquirer Visayas 3:57 am | Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Allah River Irrigation System project. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/ Employees of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) have asked President Benigno Aquino III to investigate three agency officials for changing procedures to allow a contractor to corner a P105-million project in Mindanao instead of letting farmers provide the labor as an alternative source of livelihood. Representatives of six organizations signed an open letter to the President, seeking the investigation of Agriculture Undersecretary Antonio Fleta, acting NIA chair; Lorna Grace Rosario, deputy administrator for administrative and finance; and Modesto Membreve, acting deputy administrator for engineering and operation. “We, likewise, request that pending investigation, the (NIA) officials be relieved and replaced with competent and honest-to-goodness career officials who will not enrich themselves while in office,” they said. The signatories were representatives of the NIA Employees Association of the Philippines (NIAEASP), National Federation of Employees of the Department of Agriculture, Association of Regional Directors and Operations Managers (Ardoma), Project Manager’s Society, National Confederation of Irrigators Association, and Irrigation Superintendent Association of the Philippines. Willie Ablan, NIAEASP district president for Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City), said his group was surprised that Membreve had ordered the repackaging of the P105-million Allah River Irrigation System project.

He said the NIA was supposed to undertake the irrigation project, which covers nine barangays in South Cotabato and seven barangays in Sultan Kudarat. Entire project to 1 contractor Under the previous procedure, Ablan said the NIA was supposed to hire affected farmers since they could not farm while the project was ongoing. The farmers were to provide 70 percent of the labor force. The remaining 30 percent would come from the contractors. But Membreve changed the procedure and would instead award the entire project to one contractor, raising suspicions of payoffs, according to Ablan. He also pointed out that the project was too big to be handled by one contractor. “It was repackaged to one contract and they (three NIA officials) control whoever wins in the bidding.” Ablan said bidding of the project had not been set after NIA employees and farmers questioned the repacking of the project. The Allah RIS (River Irrigation System) Federation of Irrigators Association (FIA) signed a resolution asking Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala not to repackage the project. Allah RIS-FIA is an umbrella organization composed of Allah RIS Dam I Federation of Irrigators Associations Inc. and Allah RIS Dam II Federation of Irrigators Associations Inc.

Projects delayed “Projects implemented through contracts are always delayed and most contractors, in fact, asked for construction extension, greatly affecting the farming activities of the farmers,” they said. The resolution also said that the farmers could not farm for six months when the water supply would be cut off during the construction of proposed Allah RIS. “In the past project implementation, employing contractors from an irrigators’ association allows for faster implementation and completion of the project,” the resolution said. Engineer Vicente Galvez, a former regional irrigation manager for Cagayan Valley, said at a news conference that the bidding of the project would be done in the central office “for reasons we do not exactly know.” He also lamented the indiscriminate reshuffling of officials that had demoralized regional, project, department and irrigation management office managers.

Galvez, Association of Regional Directors and Operations Managers (Ardoma) head who is set to retire next year when he turns 65, was one of the regional irrigation managers affected in the reshuffling. He was transferred from Cagayan Valley to the central office in Manila.

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Transparency in local mining industry pushed Category: Economy   15 Apr 2014   Written by Catherine N. Pillas   The  British  Embassy  in  Manila  has  signed  a  memorandum  of  understanding  to  extend  assistance  to  a  local civil‐society group to improve transparency in the mineral extractive industries.  Bantay Kita, a civil‐society group serving as a watchdog of the extractive industries, received an amount  under “a hundred thousand pounds,” according to British Ambassador Asif Ahmid.  The  British  Embassy  has  been  extending  continued  assistance  in  various  amounts  to  Bantay  Kita  since  2012 to aid the group in its advocacy.  Specifically,  the  grant  this  year  is  to  aid  Bantay  Kita  in  its  mission  for  the  Philippines  to  attain  membership  into  the  Extractive  Industries  Transparency  Initiative  (EITI),  a  global  standard  in  transparency and accountability in the extractive industries.  Through the grant, Bantay Kita will be able to undertake more outreach activities with other civil‐society  groups,  as  well  as  conduct  more  meetings  with  stakeholders  that  is  essential  to  creating  the  first  EITI  report, said Dr. Cielo Magno, national coordinator of Bantay Kita.  The Philippines officially became a candidate country to the EITI early in 2013.  To  attain  full  EITI  membership,  the  Philippines‐EITI  Multi‐Stakeholder  Group  is  drafting  the  first  Philippines EITI report.  The  said  report  will  disclose  the  tax  payments  of  companies  in  the  oil,  gas  and  mining  sectors  to  the  government.    The payments received will be compared to the government revenues collected for a particular year, in  order to scrutinize possible discrepancies.  The  report  is  geared  ultimately  to  improve  the  reporting  initiative  of  the  industry  and  inject  transparency in the system. 

The PH‐EITI  MSG  is  an  entity  composed  of  civil  society  (Bantay  Kita  organization)  ,  the  government  (through  the  Department  of  Finance)  and  mining  representatives  who  are  tasked  to  produce  the  first  EITI report which is at the scoping stage to identify which revenue streams will be included in the report.  British  Ambassador  to  the  Philippines  Asif  Ahmad  confirmed  the  strong  support  of  the  British  government for environmental protection, and from a commercial angle, aims to create a level playing  field for British businesses in the industry.  "PHL‐EITI  aims  to  elevate  the  standards  of  reporting  on  the  extractive  industry  to  build  a  better  informed  policy  environment  for  the  management  of  the  sector,"  said  Assistant  Secretary  of  the  Department of Finance Teresa Habitan.  Habitan added that around 25 players in the large metallic mining, petroleum, and gas industries have  already  signed  the  waiver  to  allow  the  Bureau  of  Internal  Revenue  to  release  tax  payments  of  the  companies, and is confident more firms will join the transparency initiative.‐transparency‐in‐local‐mining‐ industry‐pushed     

Former DA chief leads Inanglupa movement (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 16, 2014 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Former Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar is spearheading a social movement, called “Inanglupa,” that advocates an inclusive, science-based, climate-resilient and market-oriented Philippine agriculture by the year 2020 and beyond. “Our movement will complement and enhance efforts of government – particularly the departments of agriculture (DA), environment and natural resources (DENR) and science and technology (DOST) – local government units, the private sector, academe and farmers’ groups to attainfood and nutrition security, economic prosperity, and environmental sustainability,” said Dr. Dar, founder and president of Inanglupa, during its launch, April 10 at the DA-BSWM in Quezon City. “Through Inanglupa or Mother Earth, we will help empower small farmers in marginal, rainfed and upland areas, enabling them to adopt natural resource management technologies such as soil and water management, and rainfall harvesting to nurture their crops and ensure they have the needed macro and micro elements for productive and sustainable growth,” added Dr. Dar, who is serving his third and last five-year term as director general of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), based in India. His group has crafted an Inanglupa roadmap to attain its vision of a new Philippine agriculture by the year 2020 and beyond, with five development outcomes: food sufficiency, ensuring nutritional security, increasing per capita income, climate-resilient agriculture, and social development. “These goals could be achieved by partnering with concerned agencies like the DA, DENR and DOST and other stakeholders to pursue an innovative agenda,” said Dar, adding that Inanglupa Movement Inc. was duly registered with the Securies and Exchange Commission on Jan. 17, 2014. He said the agenda include: natural resource management like land use plan, soil and commodity mapping, and water management; championing appropriate policies; knowledge and information sharing; building climate-resilient communities; inclusive market-oriented agriculture; environmental protection; and education and capacity building of farmers’ groups, rural women, youth and landless farmers. “We therefore call on all concerned agriculture industry stakeholders, advocates, farmers, entrepreneurs, local agriculture officials, technicians and extension workers, and students to join Inanglupa, and move towards achieving a new Philippine agriculture by 2020 and beyond,” Dr. Dar said.

Vietnam firms seen to bag PH rice supply contracts NFA evaluates bids for delivery of 800,000 MT of milled rice  By Ronnel W. Domingo  Philippine Daily Inquirer   5:34 am | Wednesday, April 16th, 2014  

Two state-owned export companies of Vietnam Tuesday submitted the lowest bids for contracts to supply the National Food Authority with a total of 800,000 metric tons of milled rice. The NFA has a budget of some P17.18 billion, or $381.8 million, for the shipments that must be delivered in May until August. This means that the government is prepared to spend a maximum of P21,477.60, or $477.28, per ton of rice. Of the nine groups that expressed interest in the bidding, six submitted bids with five having been accepted. Based on the bidding terms, the total purchase volume is divided into four lots of 200,000 metric tons each of 15-percent broken long grain white rice. A bidder can offer a volume of as little as 100,000 metric tons, which means that up to two suppliers can win one lot. Vietnam Southern Food Corp., or Vinafood 2, offered tenders for all four lots. Its bids for three lots appear to be the lowest at $437.75, $439.25 and $441.25, respectively. Vietnam Northern Food Corp., or Vinafood 1, pursued two lots only, but its price offers were for four batches of 100,000 metric tons each.

For one lot, Vinafood 1 offered the first tranche for $436 per ton and the second for $445 per ton. The first price point is lower than Vinafood 2’s tender of $436.50 per ton for the entire lot. Based on these numbers, NFA officials cited the likelihood of Vinafood 2 being awarded contracts covering 700,000 metric tons, while Vinafood 1 may get a deal for 100,000 metric tons.

However, NFA spokesperson Rex Estoperez said in an interview the bidders would still have to go through a post-qualification process “which is mainly authentication” of the documents they submitted. As in the pre-qualification round, a bidder must pass or fail. The winners of the bidding “may be available early next week,” Estoperez said. Other bidders included Singapore-based Louis Dreyfus Commodities Asia Pte. Ltd., which offered 100,000 metric tons for $469.31 a ton. Thai Hua Co. Ltd. offered the same volume at $474.22 a ton. Also, Singsong (Hong Kong) Ltd. vied for a contract for 100,000 metric tons at $475.68 a ton. Read more:‐firms‐seen‐to‐bag‐ph‐rice‐supply‐ contracts#ixzz2z15drFFg   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook 

Power alert in Luzon By Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 16, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A unit of the Masinloc coal-fired power plant in Zambales broke down yesterday, fueling concerns over possible blackouts in Luzon this summer due to tight power supply. The Luzon power grid was placed on yellow alert after Unit 2 of the 600-megawatt power plant went on an emergency shutdown at 7:53 a.m. because of a boiler tube leak, affecting 300 MW, according to the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP). Mylene Capongcol, Department of Energy (DOE) Electric Power Industry Management Bureau director, said it would take up to three days before the Masinloc plant goes back online. Boiler tube leaks are problems encountered by plant boilers and their super heater pipes as a result of wear and tear because of erosion and corrosion during use. “We are on yellow alert until Wednesday. We expect supply to normalize on Thursday because of the Holy Week break,” NGCP spokesperson Cynthia Perez-Alabanza told reporters. She said Luzon was on yellow alert during peak hours or from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. yesterday and today. The projected peak demand yesterday was 7,430 MW as against available capacity of 7,885 MW. A yellow alert status means that contingency reserves are below the minimum level set by the regulator, but does not necessarily mean power outages or blackouts. A red alert means there is severe power deficiency while normal alert means there are no deficiencies in supply and reserves. A white alert means the situation is back to normal. 24-hour shutdown The emergency shutdown of Masinloc came after a scheduled maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya natural gas facility for 24 hours starting today. “Malampaya will go on 24-hour shutdown. By Thursday or Wednesday evening, we will lose another 600 MW but usually Thursday and holidays we have low consumption,” Petilla said in a television interview.

The Malampaya gas restriction will cut the output of the Ilijan natural gas power plant to 600 MW from 1,200 MW. Several other power plants are either on extended maintenance or forced outage. These include Unit 2 of the Consunji Group’s Calaca Power Plant in Batangas, affecting 300 MW. The plant is on extended scheduled maintenance shutdown until May 1; GN Power’s Unit 1, affecting 326 MW, which is on forced outage from April 5 to 19; Unit 2 of Limay Plant, affecting 70 MW, which has been down since Feb. 28 as well as Unit 6 of the plant, which has been out since April; and Unit 2 of the Pagbilao Plant in Quezon, affecting 382 MW from April 7 to 17, according to data from NGCP.

Enough supply Meanwhile, NGCP has assured the public that there will be enough power supply this summer. Lilibeth Gaydowen, North Luzon regional corporate communications and public affairs officer, said the country’s power transmission service provider has stable supply to meet the demands of electricity consumers. The NGCP is transmitting power supply from all available sources, she added. She said the forecasted demand in Luzon has increased, but they are utilizing various sources to meet the needs of consumers and address the problem of power outage. However, Gaydowen said the public is advised to observe safety precautions when dealing with the power firm’s transmission structures to avoid accidents. “Do not build a fire near or build houses under the transmission structures since fire could cause power interruptions in your area. Report to NGCP any incident of leaning and damaged poles or towers and sagging power lines,” she said. She also warned against kite flying near transmission lines as well as climbing transmission structures. – With Artemio Dumlao


Another world record set in ‘light of peace’ Category: Top News   15 Apr 2014  

Only a  year  after  the  success  of  the  inaugural  Light  of  Peace  (LOP)  event  held  in  May  2013  in  Miag‐ao,  Iloilo,  which  attracted  over  13,000  local  and  international  participants,  another  milestone  has  been  set  at  the  second  LOP  event  on  April  14  in  Camella’s Savannah City, Iloilo.  LOP 2014 drew over 100,000 delegates from the global community —all eager to create awareness for  real world peace through inner peace and to call for an end to international conflicts.  Moreover, the Philippines, through LOP, earned another Guinness World Record as the event that holds  the “Largest Flaming Image of Words” through 56,680 lit candles, besting Pakistan’s record of 35,478 in  2009.  “Let us show our genuine will to promote world peace by cultivating in ourselves inner peace. With each  of  us  being  a  light  of  peace,  amid  our  religious  differences,  we  will  be  able  to  unite  and  attain  world  peace,” said Sen. Cynthia A. Villar, who represented the Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and  Governance, one of the seven major organizers of the LOP 2014.  “Peace is good for the economy. If we have peace, we’ll encourage more investors to have business in  our country, which will create more jobs and drive progress,” added Manuel B. Villar, chairman of the  Villar Group of Companies.  The  other  core  organizers  of  the  event  include  Thailand‐based  The  Middle  Way  Meditation  Institute  (MMI) headed by its Director Venerable Burin Thitakusalo Bhikkhu, the Archdiocese of Jaro represented  by  Archbishop  Angel  Lagdameo,  Gov.  Arthur  Defensor  Sr.  of  the  Provincial  Government  of  Iloilo,  Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog  of  the  Municipality  of  Iloilo,  the  Department  of  Education  represented  by  Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro and the Commission on Higher Education. 

The event  opened  with  body  and  mind  movement  exercises  led  by  MMI.  A  memorial  service  for  the  Yolanda victims and casualties of other local and global calamities ensued, officiated by spiritual leaders  Lagdameo, Imam Abdulnasser Langco and Phra Rachpawanajan.  Opening remarks were given by Luistro and the chairman of the Villar Group of Companies, after which  the “launching lantern” placed at the center of an 800‐square‐meter stage was lit by the representatives  of the LOP Core Group.  The delegates and guests were then asked to sit for a guided meditation that lasted about 30 minutes.   Right after, the participants formed the “Largest Flaming Image of Words” that shows the Light of Peace  logo  and  motto  “World  Peace  Through  Inner  Peace”  with  the  Philippines’s  Map  through  lit  candles  as  the Guinness World Record countdown began.  The official confirmation from the Guinness World Record representative, Seyda Subasi‐Gemici added to  the excitement of the evening as the representatives from the LOP Core Group accepted the certificate  of  recognition  from  the  Guinness  officials.  The  LOP  event  ended  on  a  high  note  as  a  grand  display  of  fireworks lit up the sky.    The Inaugural Light of Peace, held last year at the University of the Philippines campus in Miag‐ao, Iloilo,  also set a new Guinness World Record for releasing a total of 15,185 paper lanterns in a single event,  breaking the previous number of 12,740 sky lanterns held by Romania.  The event’s long list of distinguished guests included Secretary Emmanuel Villanueva, Baba Karam Singh,  Anant  and  Alisa  Asavababokhin  and  Sakchai  Peechapat,  who  flew  in  from  Thailand  to  be  part  of  the  milestone event.  Thailand‐based  MMI,  the  co‐organizer  of  the  LOP  Event,  is  a  non‐profit  organization  that  offers  meditation and educational training programs based on mental and spiritual confluence, and organizes  various cultural activities to promote peace and harmony.    The  LOP  event  also  brought  together  volunteers  from  16  countries  :  Australia,  Brunei  Darussalam,  Cambodia,  Estonia,  India,  Indonesia,  Hongkong,  Japan,  New  Zealand,  Switzerland,  Taiwan,  Thailand,  USA, United Kingdom, Vietnam and host country Philippines.  Camella’s Savannah City is the host and official venue of the LOP   Savannah City, the flagship project of Vista Land in the Visayas, sits on over 350 hectares of verdant land  spread over Oton, Pavia and San Miguel in the historical province on Panay Island. It is a prime example  of  Vista  Land’s  comprehensive  style  of  integrated  master  planning.  Savannah’s  grand  entrance  welcomes one with a wide tree‐lined avenue to a graceful rotunda that connects The Crest, The Trails,  The  Glades  The  Glen,  The  Orchard  and  Lessandra—the  development’s  six  highly  livable  residential 

communities. Savannah’s property valuation has exponentially increased since it opened in September  2000.  Beyond  these  six  residential  enclaves  and  the  amenities  each  offers,  the  property  already  has  its  own  school, the Georgia International Academy, offering from primary up to fourth year high school or 10th  grade.  Homeowners can walk their kids to school or bike to their daily classes, leaving you secure in the  knowledge  that  they’re  safe  and  nearby.  Beside  Georgia  International  Academy  is  its  famous  Fifa‐ standard football field—a tribute to the Ilonggos apparent love for football. It was inaugurated in 2012  by the Azkals’ James and Phil Younghusband, who, beyond being guests of honor, taught aspiring young  football players the basic techniques of the game.  Savannah also built the Saint Pio Church inside its community—which can sit over a thousand church‐ goers. The Church’s patron saint is Saint Pio of Pietrelcina who became the most charismatic holy man in  the  modern  history  of  the  Catholic  Church  and  was  widely  hailed  as  a  saint  during  his  lifetime  and  credited with at least 1,000 miracle cures.  A sprawling commercial complex will also rise within the community very soon, which will house retail  shops,  restaurants  and  other  food  and  beverage  outlets,  as  well  as  service  establishments  so  close  to  home.  At  the  main  entrance  of  Savannah  is  a  centrally  located  transport  terminal  with  shuttle  service  units  that  move  residents  and  visitors  quickly  and  easily  to  wherever  they  need  to  go  within  the  property and outside.  Camella  is  the  subsidiary  catering  to  the  mid‐market  segment  of  Vista  Land,  the  country’s  premier  homebuilder.  To date, the company has won the Reader’s Digest Trusted Brand Gold Award, two‐years  in  a  row,  proving  that  Camella  is  a  real‐estate  brand  to  be  reckoned  with  in  all  of  Asia.  In  38  years,  Camella has built a selection of affordable, quality homes and themed communities across our islands.  The group has constructed more than 250,000 homes to date and maintains a strong presence in Mega  Manila and 38 other key provincial destinations and 65 cities and municipalities.   In  Photo: The  Philippines  on  Monday  broke  the  Guinness  World  Record  for  the  largest  flaming  image  using candles. Filipinos at the Savannah City in Oton, Iloilo, used 56,680 candles to complete the image  (top photo), which depicted the Light of Peace logo and the motto “World Peace through Inner Peace”  with a map of the Philippines. The old record, set on December 10, 2009, had the largest flaming image  using candles consisting of 35,478 candles and was achieved by 118 Sandoz employees (Pakistan) at the  Hotel Serena in Faisalabad, Pakistan. Above (left) is Villar Group of Companies Chairman Manuel Villar  giving  his  address  at  the  event.  Above  (right)  is  a  closeup  of  the  thousands  of  participants  holding thousands of candles of various shapes and sizes. (Nuttanan Srithorn)‐news/30684‐another‐world‐record‐set‐in‐ light‐of‐peace 

Bangsamoro Basic Law a work in progress – Palace By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 16, 2014 - 12:00am

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. MANILA, Philippines - The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law is a work in progress with President Aquino ensuring the process will be dynamic and consultative to allow all issues to be addressed, Malacañang said yesterday. Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Aquino has given assurances that he would not let anything get in the way of the peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), but this did not mean the government side would be imposing or heavy-handed. Coloma said the Office of the Executive Secretary received the working draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which “is something that can be supplemented and can be modified until it is finalized.” Coloma made the statement as MILF chief negotiator and Bangsamoro Transition Commission chairman Mohagher Iqbal admitted the partial draft had yet to incorporate details on the 156page recommendation of the Independent Commission on Policing for the structure of the police force for the Bangsamoro; automatic block grants; special development fund and Bangsamoro waters. A separate document on provisions that will need constitutional amendments is also said to be submitted to the Office of the President for review. Coloma said the draft would be reviewed by the legal staff of the Office of the President, including the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs, Office of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and even the Office of the Solicitor General.

Timeline “There is a sense of urgency in being able to complete this review because we are all aware of the indicative timetable. The target is to be able to submit an enacted Bangsamoro Basic Law to the people of the affected areas by 2014, so that there can be sufficient preparations for the conduct of elections for officials that will regularly administer the Bangsamoro political entity,” Coloma said. He said they are hoping that the Bangsamoro elections can take place simultaneously with the 2016 national elections. “We are all guided by that indicative timetable, so all those concerned are acting with a sense of urgency,” he added. Coloma said the Commission on Elections was expected to prepare for the conduct of the plebiscite. Coloma said he did not have the details of the supposed provisions that were lacking and would still have to be submitted. “Even if we knew it, what is most material and what is most important, I believe, is that the legal team will be able to do everything that is necessary to be able to submit the draft bill to the President for his own review and approval,” he said. Amid these challenges, Coloma said it must be pointed out that the draft bill the President would review and certify as urgent to Congress was a joint effort from the very beginning. “Both sides are doing what is necessary with the sense of urgency to be able to complete the task at hand within the indicative timetable,” he said. Coloma expressed belief the government and the MILF were on track and that throughout the entire process both panels exercised the requisite due diligence, industry and determination to complete the agreement “in order to bring it to where it is now.” “So I think we can say with a reasonable degree of confidence that there is reason to be optimistic that the timetable can be met,” he said. Even throughout the process of crafting the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, Coloma said there was close coordination on both sides to hammer out the accord. That meant there was willingness on both sides to receive inputs from each other, he said. And even while the agreement was being negotiated, Coloma said the Philippine panel was consulting regularly with the same panel now reviewing the draft law.

“So we can be assured that the people that are doing the reviewing are quite familiar with the agreement, and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission would have referred extensively to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro itself. The CAB is certainly a very substantial input into the crafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Even while one annex was being finalized, the other annexes that had been completed were already being studied in terms of how to translate the provisions of these completed annexes into the proposed law,” Coloma said. Coloma said in all aspects of the process, there were building blocks and that they were building on earlier agreements to complete the CAB and the draft law. The approval of the Bangsamoro Basic Law sets the stage for the second phase of the peace process with the MILF to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and a plebiscite afterwards to determine which towns or provinces would be under its control. The first phase was last month’s signing of the peace agreement between the government and the MILF, which aims to end more than four decades of armed conflict in Mindanao. Coloma said the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) “presented” before Undersecretary Mike Musngi a “working draft” of the proposed law for its “initial review and evaluation.” On proposals to amend the Constitution, Iqbal said the BTC agreed to submit a separate document for provisions that would require constitutional amendments. Under the final peace pact and Executive Order 120, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission is allowed to recommend amendments to the 1987 Constitution “whenever necessary.” Coloma said the administration would endeavor to submit a draft law that would be upheld should its constitutionality be questioned. Malacañang earlier said it was hoping to finish evaluating the draft law by the resumption of Congress’ session in May.

No compromise A senior administration lawmaker said Congress will not allow the passage of any unconstitutional provision in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, even as the House of Representatives is making preparations to scrutinize the document and ensure its timely passage. While lawmakers are gearing up to question the proposed law once Malacañang submits it to the House, Sulu Rep. Tupay Loong, chairman of the committee on Mindanao affairs, said they may resolve the issues through amendments. Loong believes there will not be too many constitutional questions on the proposed statute as the government negotiating panel based its parameters on the Constitution.

“I think they’re the experts, but we’ll know. If upon our final scrutiny of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, if there’s anything unconstitutional, the House will do something to modify it,” Loong said, referring to the government peace panel. “This is a political problem, the peace agreement is trying to arrive at a political solution through this proposed law, so we should also use the maximum flexibility allowed by the Constitution if that is the solution,” he said. Basilan Rep. Jim Hataman-Salliman, chairman of the House special committee on peace, reconciliation and unity, said many lawmakers have sought assurance from the Bangsamoro Transition Commission to make sure there will be no unconstitutional provisions. Salliman said the House is anticipating the filing of the document when Congress resumes session next month so the chamber could at least organize and make other arrangements and preparations. He said Congress is working on a tight schedule with the aim of having the Bangsamoro Transition Authority in place by January 2015, assuming the proposed law – which will lay the foundation of the new autonomous region – is approved in the plebiscite, and is not derailed by questions before the Supreme Court. By 2016, election of officials of the new Bangsamoro autonomous government will be held to coincide with the national and local polls.

What about us? A coalition of tribal groups referred to as Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao is questioning the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro which it claimed excluded the law protecting tribal groups. While affirming their unwavering support for the peace process in Mindanao, the tribal group is seeking an audience with President Aquino in questioning why the peace agreement excluded Republic Act 8371, also known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act that protects and guarantee the rights of the indigenous people in Mindanao. “As early as 2005, we have been consistently sending our position papers and written agenda, identifying ourselves as a historically distinct people within the Bangsamoro territory. We have consistently done this during the early stage of the peace negotiations and well into the recent drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission to clarify our position in the peace talks,” the tribal groups said in an open letter to the President. The tribal groups are composed of the Timuays, Datus, Fintailans, Baes of the Teduray, Lambangian, Dulangan Manobo, Erumanen de Manuvu, and Obo Manobo tribesmen.

While the framework and the final agreements may have answered consensus points for the Moro peoples, four crucial issues were raised which they wanted the President to answer and resolve. The crucial concerns include the exclusion of RA 8371 from the provisions of the peace agreement; their rights as distinct people to govern their own territory; the competing and contradictory policy over land and ancestral domains and can government lead the way to finally overcome the problems in the region. “We believe the real essence of the rights to self-determination will never be solely determined by peace negotiations, but by living it out in the daily grind of surviving poverty and facing risk and danger altogether,” they said. “We, the Indigenous Peoples in the core and adjacent areas of the Bangsamoro, have considered you a kefeduwan (indigenous peacemaker) in the making. We all dream of the day you will come over to our villages as a full-fledged kefeduwan and when that happens, we can say that peace is really at hand. A genuine peace for all.” The group assured the President of full support in his efforts to reach a just and sustainable peace in the Bangsamoro region. – With Paolo Romero, Jaime Laude‐basic‐law‐work‐progress‐palace                          

Palace orders health dept to warn OFWs vs MERS virus Category: Nation   15 Apr 2014   Written by Butch Fernandez   Malacañang  on  Tuesday  ordered  the  Department  of  Health  (DOH)  to  raise  an  alert  on  reported  incidence of so‐called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus in countries where millions  of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are deployed.  While  the  Palace  clarified  that  the  government  has  not  imposed  travel  restrictions  to  and  from  the  Middle  East  as  recorded  MERS  cases  have  not  yet  reached  epidemic  proportions,  President  Aquino  asked the DOH to issue advisories to OFWs and other Filipinos going there.  “The  Department  of  Health  has  submitted  updates  to  the  President  regarding  incidence  of  MERS  coronavirus  in  the  Middle  East  countries,”  Communications  Secretary  Herminio  Coloma  reported  at  a  news briefing. Coloma added that in accordance with President Aquino’s instructions, Health Secretary  Enrique Ona has issued the appropriate DOH advisories.  “As a health precaution, Filipinos traveling to the Middle East are advised to avoid contact with persons  showing influenza‐like illness and to observe frequent hand washing,” the Palace official said.  He  added  “those  returning  from  the  Middle  East  who  become  ill  within  two  weeks  upon  arrival  are  advised to delay visits to crowded places and to seek immediate medical attention.”‐palace‐orders‐health‐dept‐to‐ warn‐ofws‐vs‐mers‐virus             

SC asked to extend anew TRO on Meralco rate hike By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 16, 2014 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 1

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) was asked yesterday to extend anew the temporary restraining order (TRO) on the rate increase of P4.15 per kilowatt-hour of the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) for November and December 2013. In an eight-page urgent motion, petitioners led by Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Isagani Zarate said there is a need to extend the TRO that will expire next Tuesday. They also asked the SC to extend the other TRO enjoining generation companies (gencos) and power suppliers from demanding and collecting generation charges from Meralco, which the latter failed to pay after the court stopped its rate hike. Petitioners argued that the TROs, if not extended by the SC, “will leave the petitioners, together with millions of Meralco’s captive market, unprotected, as respondents will be free to charge the consumers with P4.15 per kwh rate increase despite prima facie findings of collusion, anticompetitive behavior and abuse of market power during the period questioned and despite the pendency of these consolidated cases.” “This circumstance will result in grave and irreparable injury to petitioners, as well as millions of Meralco consumers,” they said. The 60-day TRO was first issued by the high court last December and extended for another 60 days last February, also upon similar plea of petitioners. Petitioners reiterated their warning that lifting the TRO would immediately lead to inflation as the rate hike would add billions to production cost of manufacturers, which would push the prices of goods and services up.

They also rebutted the warning of Meralco in an oral argument last Feb. 4 about power outages if it fails to collect the generation costs from the customers, which it owes respondents Gencos. Gencos, on the other hand, continued to threaten Meralco with high penalties, interest rates and legal actions for the delay in the payment of the generation costs, they added. Other petitioners in the case are Gabriela Women’s Party Representatives Luz Ilagan and Emmie de Jesus, ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio and Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon. The first oral argument was held last Jan. 21 with petitioners Bayan Muna party-list and consumer group National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms (Nasecore) presenting their case. The second was held last Feb. 4 with Meralco facing the high court while the third was held last Tuesday with the DOE and Energy Regulatory Commission taking the podium. The SC has submitted the case for resolution. TUCP hits DOE scheme Meanwhile, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) yesterday expressed strong opposition to the program that the DOE will implement with Meralco once the “red alert” level indicating a power supply deficit is reached this summer. The TUCP described the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) as “the poor subsidizing the very rich.’’ Under the ILP, large commercial and industrial corporations, including malls, will run their own generator sets to power up their energy needs for air-conditioning, lighting and other operations as a solution to the possible power shortage this summer. This will free up power supply that Meralco can use to service the residential households and small enterprises within its franchise area. The ILP participants running their own generator sets – the most expensive power source – will then pass on their fuel and maintenance costs to Meralco consumers, the TUCP said. “Why are Meralco residential customers going to be made to pay for power they never consumed in their households?” said Gerard Seno, executive vice president of the Associated Labor Unions-TUCP. – With Jess Diaz, Michelle Zoleta‐asked‐extend‐anew‐tro‐meralco‐rate‐hike    

Government eyes PPP to implement 11 new projects Category: Economy   15 Apr 2014   Written by Cai U. Ordinario   The national government is in the process of conceptualizing 11 projects to be implemented under the  public‐ private partnership (PPP) scheme, according to a first quarter 2014 report recently released by  the PPP Center.  The  list  includes  three  projects  to  be  undertaken  by  the  Department  of  Public  Works  and  Highways  (DPWH) and two projects to be implemented by the Department of Transportation and Communications  (DOTC).  Further,  PPP  Center  documents  showed  that  one  project  each  will  be  implemented  by  the  Philippine  Statistics Authority‐Santa Mesa (formerly the National Statistics Office), Freeport Area of Bataan (FAB),  Bases Conversion and Development Authority and National Irrigation Administration (NIA).  The  document  also  showed  that  one  project  will  be  implemented  jointly  by  the  Philippine  Health  Insurance  Corp.  (PhilHealth)  and  the  Department  of  Health  and  another  will  be  implemented  by  the  DOTC and the Department of Finance.  The  projects  are  Civil  Registration  System—  Information  Technology  Project  Phase  II;  Ferry  Passenger  Terminal  Buidlings  Development;  C‐6  Expressway  (Southeast,  East,  and  North  Section);  PhilHealth  Information TBD PhilHealth/ Technology Project; Manila Heritage and Urban Renewal Project; and North  Luzon Expressway (Nlex) East Expressway.  Other projects are the FAB Barging Facility/ Port Project; Busuanga Airport Development Project; Clark  Green City Food Processing Terminal; NIA Irrigation Project; and the Camarines Sur Expressway Project.  Of  the  projects,  only  the  Nlex  East  Expressway  has  a  description.  The  DPWH  project  aims  to  form  an  important transport access in the eastern area of Region 3. This will further spur economic development  in said areas.  Once completed, the Nlex East Expressway will provide travelers with an alternate route in going to and  from Cabanatuan City which connects to major roads leading to Region 2 and Cordillera Administrative  Region. 

The Nlex East Expressway project is a four‐lane, 6.8‐kilometer road that will run parallel to the Maharlika  Highway (Pan Philippine Highway) starting off at La Mesa Parkway and/or junction of C‐6 in San Jose del  Monte, Bulacan, passing through Norzagaray, Angat, San Ildefonso, San Miguel, Gapan, Santa Rosa, and  ending at Cabanatuan in Nueva Ecija.  The project will be implemented in two phases and bridges will also be constructed to cross the rivers of  Angat, Panaranda and Pampanga.  It will serve the growing areas of Bulacan and Nueva Ecija provinces. The project starts at Don Mariano  Marcos Avenue in Quezon City, traverses almost parallel to Daang Maharlika, serving the areas of San  Miguel, Gapan and Cabanatuan City.  The  PPP  Center  was  created  through  Executive  Order  8  Series  of  2010  and  mandated  to  facilitate  the  implementation of the country’s PPP program and projects.  It  provides  technical  assistance  to  national  government  agencies,  government‐owned  and  ‐controlled  corporations,  state  universities  and  colleges,  and  local  government  agencies,  as  well  as  to  the  private  sector to help develop and implement critical infrastructure and other development projects.  The PPP program of the Aquino administration is a primary strategy for national development aimed at  accelerating  infrastructure  and  other  development  services,  in  order  to  sustain  national  economic  growth.‐government‐eyes‐ppp‐to‐ implement‐11‐new‐projects                     

Philippines waives visa requirements for 7 more countries By Camille Diola ( | Updated April 15, 2014 - 5:09pm 44 1654 googleplus0 1

Photo shows a street in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, at night. Anton Kovalyov Somalia visa-free privilege removed MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has granted a visa-free privilege lasting 30 days for nationals of seven more countries, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced on Tuesday. In a statement, DFA said that Belize, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are granted visa-free access to the country starting Tuesday. "The DFA fully supports national efforts to attract more tourists and potential investors to the Philippines," Foreign Affairs undersecretary Rafael Seguis said. "The DFA, through its various embassies and consulates abroad, has been playing an active role in helping the Department of Tourism reach its target of 10 million foreign tourist arrivals by 2015," Seguis added. Seguis explained that the decision to grant the new privileges to the Central Asian and European countries are based on inputs from the Bureau of Immigration, Department of Tourism, Department of Justice, Philippine Center on Transnational Crime, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and the National Security Council. The agency, however, removed Somalia's 30-day visa-free access. In recent years, the African country was torn by a civil war, with a new state of Somaliland arising from the upheaval. "Somali nationals may apply for visas at Philippine embassies or consulates in their countries of origin or residence," the statement said.

Somalia now joins a list of countries including China and Taiwan whose nationals are prohibited from entering the country without government endorsement. DFA reminded nationals of countries who may enter visa-free can avail of the privilege to present a national passport valid for at least six months beyond the contemplated period of stay. They are also advised to present a return ticket to the country of origin or onward ticket to the next country of destination.


Plants, beef brought by travelers seized at NAIA By Rudy Santos (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 16, 2014 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus0 0 Plant quarantine officer Bart Mesolania shows gumamela and petunia plants and pomelos confiscated from foreigners who arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Monday night. RUDY SANTOS MANILA, Philippines - Plant and animal quarantine officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 confiscated flowering plants, fruits and 10 kilos of beef brought into the country by travelers Monday night. Quarantine officers Bart Mesolania and Pacita Barron told The STAR that an Australian man married to a Filipina brought gumamela and petunia plants and the soil in which they grew. They said they confiscated pomelos from Thailand and fresh beef from New Zealand brought by foreigners without the necessary import and health permits from the travelers’ point of origin. Presidential Decree 1433, the plant quarantine law, prohibits travelers from bringing into the country plants, plant products and planting materials, including soil, without import permit or clearance. Mesolania and Barron said they are protecting the country’s plants from being infected with pests and diseases the imported plants may have. •

Metro number coding lifted starting today By Julliane Love de Jesus 9:28 am | Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines–For the “convenience and mobility” of travelers this Holy Week, the number coding scheme is lifted from Wednesday until Friday. The Metro Manila Development Authority announced in a statement that the lifting of Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) or the Number Coding Scheme is effective starting 9 a.m. Wednesday. This will be effective for all private and public utility vehicles until Good Friday on April 18. “The lifting of the Number Coding Scheme is aimed to facilitate convenience and mobility of travelers for the Holy Week,” the MMDA added. MMDA has previously announced that it would lift the number coding from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday only.

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2 mild quakes jolt Surigao Sur, Davao Occidental By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 16, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines - Two mild earthquakes hit Surigao del Sur and Davao Occidental yesterday but there were no reports of damage or injuries, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said. Phivolcs said the tremors with magnitudes of 4.8 and 3.1 occurred at 10:43 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., respectively. The magnitude 4.8 quake struck 88 kilometers southeast of Tandag, Surigao del Sur and was reportedly felt at Intensity 3 in Tandag and Intensity 2 in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur. An Intensity 3 quake is classified as “weak” while Intensity 2 is categorized as “slightly felt” based on the Phivolcs’ Earthquake Intensity Scale. Meanwhile, the epicenter of the magnitude 3.1 quake was located at 52 kilometers southeast of Jose Abad Santos, Davao Occidental. Phivolcs said no aftershocks were expected from the tremors.‐mild‐quakes‐jolt‐surigao‐sur‐davao‐occidental                    

Cloud seeding eyed for Angat Dam By Dino Balabo (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 16, 2014 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The National Power Corp. (Napocor) is planning to conduct cloud seeding operations over Angat Dam to prevent possible water shortage in Metro Manila in the weeks to come, an official said yesterday. Engineer Rodolfo German made the disclosure as the dam’s water level dropped to 187.33 meters above sea level at 6 a.m. yesterday, only seven meters above the critical 180 masl. German is the general manager of the Napocor’s Angat River Hydro Electric Power Plant, which manages the Angat Dam and its 53,000-hectare watershed. The dam supplies 97 percent of Metro Manila’s potable water needs. He said that the cloud seeding will be conducted in coordination with the Department of Agriculture. However, DA sources, especially from the Bureau of Soils and Water Management , said they still have to receive a request for the operations. German explained that receding water levels at the dam’s reservoir is due to lack of rainfall since December and the continued use of water by Metro Manila households.‐seeding‐eyed‐angat‐dam                        

Visayas Newsbits for April 16, 2014 April 15, 2014  

DA Freebies Roxas City, Capiz (PIA) – Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala said government will provide free hybrid palay seeds for the 15-hectare rice fields initially served by the Maayon Communal Irrigation Project (CIP) for the upcoming planting season. This was disclosed by Alcala during the recent inauguration of the P201-million Maayon CIP at the project’s dam site in Brgy. Jebacca, Maayon, Capiz. The palay seeds and multi-million irrigation project are seen to help increase Capiz’s annual rice production from 3.572.40 metric tons to 6.193.20 MT.

Freezers Needed Tacloban City, Leyte (PNA) – Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) national director Asis Perez said BFAR’s AHON Rehabilitation Initiative for Yolanda typhoon-affected fishermen is shifting from the repair of motorized bancas to freezers for fishing communities. Freezers are needed to preserve fish catch so that these can be sold for better prices, he said. A freezer benefiting some 40 fishermen costs over P30,000 and each freezer can produce some 100 to 200 ice packs. Meantime, he said, chest freezers will serve as alternatives while BFAR will construct ice plants and cold storages. Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Chairman Richard Gordon in a recent visit to Leyte said the PRC will look into the possibility of donating freezers to BFAR.‐newsbits‐for‐april‐16‐2014/              

Employers told to abide by overtime rules for holiday work By Tina G. Santos Philippine Daily Inquirer 7:38 pm | Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment reminded employers Tuesday to abide by the pay rules for the Holy Week holidays. “Voluntary compliance with labor laws, including correct payment of wages during holidays, promotes workplace harmony and excellence, which redound to the productivity and competitiveness of businesses,” Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said in a statement. Maundy Thursday (April 17) and Good Friday (April 18) have been declared regular holidays and Black Saturday (April 19) is a special nonworking day. “If the employee reports for work during a regular holiday, he shall be entitled to 200 percent of his regular pay for that day for the first eight hours, and for work in excess of the eight hours, an additional 30 percent of his hourly rate,” Baldoz said. If the day falls on an employee’s rest day and he goes to work, he shall be paid an additional 30 percent of his daily rate of 200 percent. For work in excess of eight hours on those days, he gets an additional 30 percent of his hourly rate. “If the employee does not render work during a regular holiday, he is still entitled to 100 percent of his salary for that day,” Baldoz said.

On the other hand, she said, during a special nonworking day, the principle of “no work, no pay” applies, “unless there is a favorable company policy, practice or collective bargaining agreement granting payment on a special day.” “If the employee works, he shall be paid an additional 30 percent of his daily rate for the first eight hours of work. For work in excess of eight hours, he will get an additional 30 percent of his hourly rate on said day,” she said. If the day falls on his rest day and he goes to work, he shall be paid an additional 50 percent of his daily rate for the first eight hours of work. For work in excess of eight hours, he gets an additional 30 percent of his hourly rate, Baldoz said.

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Free MRT rides for workers on Labor Day ( | Updated April 15, 2014 - 11:45am 9 24 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Filipino workers from both public and private sectors get free Metro Rail Transit (MRT) rides on Labor Day, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said on Tuesday. "Secretary Joseph Emilio A. Abaya of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said Labor Day is of national significance, hence, he had directed MRT3 General Manager Attorney Al S. Vitangcol III to ensure that the celebration would be a success," Baldoz said. The DOTC guidelines said the workers can avail of the free rides during rush hours, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Workers should present company IDs and log their names with the security guard assigned at the service gate before availing of the free ride, it added. Baldoz said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is still waiting for the response of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Authority if workers can also avail of free LRT rides on labor Day. “The DOLE celebrates the 2014 Labor Day as a tribute to the nation's workers and to their significant contribution to the country's development and to highlight their achievements as a major socio-economic pillar of Philippine society,” Baldoz said.‐mrt‐rides‐workers‐labor‐day      

BSP likely to maintain policy tightening in May By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 16, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The recent slew of positive data will likely prompt the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to continue tightening policy as early as May, Singapore-based bank DBS said. “The external balance position remains strong and the recent strong data is likely to embolden the central bank to tighten its policy further,” the bank said in a research note. “Expect a total of 50 bps (basis points) in the key policy rate by yearend. A move in the upcoming meeting is not to be ruled out, although we still think that there is a higher chance of this happening in the second half of 2014,” DBS added. Monetary authorities kept key policy rates steady last March 27 but hiked the banks’ reserve requirement ratio by a percentage point to pull down the high liquidity growth. This action was seen by most analysts as the start of a monetary tightening cycle, and all eyes are on the next policy meeting on May 8. DBS said recent economic indicators have pointed to a sustained robust gross domestic product (GDP) growth for the country, thus providing more reasons for the central bank to raise key interest rates. “Data released last week continued to support GDP growth outlook in the economy,” DBS said. “February exports growth came in at 24.4 percent year-on-year, fastest since December 2010. Even more encouraging was the robust 26.6 percent year-on-year jump in exports of electronic products,” the bank added.

DBS further said: “Meanwhile, net FDI (foreign direct investments) reached $1 billion in January, highest in the past two years.” The Monetary Board revisits policy settings every six weeks. Overnight borrowing and overnight lending rates have been maintained at 3.5 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively, since October 2012. BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr., following a US Federal Reserve move that ended March 19, said “early measured adjustments” in monetary policy is “ideal.” Tetangco, reacting to the Fed’s signal that it may overhaul guidance in keeping interest rates near zero, stressed that gradual movements in monetary policy would be less disruptive in the economy. The US Fed since January has been reducing its massive monthly purchases of US Treasuries and mortgage bonds. The pace and volume of scaling down the stimulus has heightened volatility in markets because when fully taken out will lead to higher interest rates.‐likely‐maintain‐policy‐tightening‐may                              

Alcala, Maranan open communal irrigation By MST News | Apr. 16, 2014 at 12:01am Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and National Irrigation Administration head Claro Maranan along with local officials and beneficiaries launched the Maayon Communal Irrigation Project on April 11, 2014 in Capiz. The diversion project involves a 17-kilometer main canal, 2.5-km lateral canal with drainage, two units of post harvest facilities, farm facilities and service access roads, said a statement from NIA head office on EDSA in Quezon City. Capiz 1st District Rep. Antonio del Rosario, Maayon Mayor Wilfredo Borres Sr. and other local officials attended the event. The facilities worth P201,450,000 with a service area of 780 hectares will benefit 834 farmers. During his speech, Alcala said another irrigation facility will be constructed next year in Barangay Bayuyan in President Roxas town, Capiz in Region VI. The P400-million Bayuyan Small River Irrigation Project will cover 315 hectares with an initial budget of P150 million for 2015. The project will also benefit the barangays of Bayuyan, Badiangon, Carmencita, Vizcaya and Lantangan.‐maranan‐open‐communal‐irrigation/                

Vietnam tops rice auction By Anna Leah G. Estrada | Apr. 16, 2014 at 12:01am Vietnam emerged as the lowest bidder for the contract to supply 800,000 metric tons of rice to the Philippines this year, the National Food Authority said Tuesday. NFA spokesman Rex Estoperez said NFA would likely award the contract to import 800,000 metric tons of rice to Vietnam. “If we are going to base on prices, Vietnam will likely win the bidding, but then we still have to conduct a post-qualification authentication in order to determine who really qualified. After that, we will know who really won,” Estoperez said. NFA conducted an open auction for the rice supply and divided the entire volume into four lots, or 200,000 metric tons per lot. Vietnam, through state-owned Vietnam Southern Food Corp., or Vinafood II, offered to supply the entire volume in Tuesday’s auction. Vinafood II offered to deliver the first lot at $436.50 per metric ton, lot 2 at $437.75 per metric ton, lot 3 at $439.25 per metric ton and lot 4 at $441.25 per metric ton. Vinafood Northern Food Corp., or Vinafood I, another rice trader from Vietnam, also placed bids for the two lots of the rice supply. Vinafood I offered to supply the country with 400,000 metric tons of rice and submitted bids of $436, $445, $439 and $449 per ton for each 100,000-ton lot. NFA said other rice bidders were Louis Dreyfus Commodities Asia Pte. Ltd., Thai Hua Co. Ltd., and Singsong Hongkong Ltd. Estoperez said the NFA would announce the winner of the auction early next week. “We conducted an open bidding so we can get the best price for the rice imports,” Estoperez said. The NFA earlier allotted P17.182 billion for the purchase of the 800,000 metric tons of rice imports this year. Under an open bidding, the Philippines can allow foreign private entities outside the current bilateral agreement to bid for the rice imports. The rice stocks specified under the terms of the tender were long grain, white rice with 15 percent brokens and well milled.

The winning bidder must deliver the rice shipments in four tranches from May to August. The government, meanwhile, expects to complete this month the negotiations for the extension of quantitative restrictions on imported rice until 2017. “We are very positive that we will acquire consensus with interested countries, which would allow us to operate under a new quantitative restriction extension,” Agriculture Assistant Secretary Romeo Recide, co-lead negotiator for the Philippine mission, earlier told reporters.‐tops‐rice‐auction/                                    

Remittances increased 5.6% to $1.8b in February By Julito G. Rada | Apr. 16, 2014 at 12:01am Remittances from Filipinos working overseas increased 5.6 percent year-on-year in February, on steady demand for skilled workers, the Bangko Sentral said Tuesday. The Bangko Sentral said cash remittances hit $1.8 billion in February, up from $1.7 billion a year ago. “For the period January-February 2014, cash remittances grew by 5.8 percent to $3.6 billion, compared to $3.4 billion registered in the same period last year,” the Bangko Sentral said. Remittances, which account for about a tenth of the gross national income, support household spending in the Philippines and contribute to the growth of various sectors such as banking, real estate, retail, education, healthcare, travel and tourism. Data showed including non-cash items sent through non-banking channels, personal remittances hit $2 billion in February and $4 billion in the first two months. Personal remittances represent the sum of net compensation of employees, personal transfers and capital transfers. “Personal remittances continued to draw strength from the steady rise in transfers from landbased workers with long-term contracts [up 4.3 percent], and sea-based and land-based workers with short-term contracts [up 10.3 percent],” Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said. Cash transfers from land-based workers hit $2.7 billion while transfers from sea-based workers amounted to $903 million. Major sources of cash remittances were the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Japan and Canada. “The continued demand for skilled OF workers contributed partly to the steady flow of remittances,” Tetangco said. Preliminary data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration showed approved job orders in the first two months totaled 75,064, of which 33.2 percent or 24,895 were processed job orders intended for manpower demand for service, production and professional, technical and related job categories. These job orders were mainly for Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, Kuwait and Qatar.

Reports from the Labor Department showed the Middle East, Asia and Oceania remained possible employment options for overseas Filipino workers. The Bangko Sentral said contributing to the growth in remittances were the continued efforts of bank and non-bank remittance service providers to expand their international and domestic market coverage through tie-ups and establishment of remittance centers abroad to capture a larger share of the global remittance market.‐increased‐5‐6‐to‐1‐8b‐in‐ february/                                    

Revenue collection fell short in March By Jennifer Ambanta | Apr. 16, 2014 at 12:01am Tax collection rose 9.8 percent in March from a year ago, but fell short of the monthly goal by P8 billion, data from the Bureau of Internal Revenue showed. BIR’s collection reached P82.2 billion in March, up from P74.8 billion recorded in the same month last year. The figure, however, failed to match the collection target of P90.59 billion. Collections from BIR operations increased 9.7 percent to P78.9 billion in March from a year ago while collections from non-BIR operations improved 14 percent to P3.27 billion. Regional offices collected P31.8 billion during the month, up by 10 percent from March 2013, sustaining the previous year’s trend of double-digit growth. Collections by the Large Taxpayer Service amounted to P47.12 billion, higher by 9.4 percent than collections made in March 2013. The Finance Department earlier said the government intensified efforts to generate more revenue to fund infrastructure projects that would cost P850 billion by 2016. Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said these efforts included the reforms in the Bureau of Customs in November, which showed some progress as Custom’s collection improved by double digit. “I am pleased to note that the Bureau of Customs grew 22 percent in February, its second monthly growth above 20 percent and its fourth straight double-digit growth since the President’s customs reform program normalized in November,” Purisima said.‐collection‐fell‐short‐in‐march/              

PhilMech conducting tests on new corn mill By Anna Leah G. Estrada | Apr. 16, 2014 at 12:01am The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization is conducting the testing of a compact corn mill the agency developed. “The prototype testing is being undertaken to evaluate the performance of the machine in full commercial operation,” the agency said. PhilMech said the corn mill has a recovery 60 percent and 70 percent, which is the viable level for the recovery of grits. Philmech said the cornmill has a better milling efficiency than some imported units. The corn mill, designed by PhilMech’s Agricultural Mechanization Division, will be tested in Masbate, Bohol and Surigao del Norte. PhilMech executive director Rex Bingabing said the locally fabricated corn mill has state-of-theart design features that make it more compact and more efficient than existing corn mills. The machine can help increase the consumption of corn grits in far-flung areas where there are no corn-milling facilities but where corn planting is a major activity. “Corn grits is a staple in many parts of the Visayas and Mindanao, and can also be consumed in communities where corn farming is more viable. But many far-flung communities hardly have or are far from corn milling facilities,” Bingabing said. “This research effort supports the food staple sufficiency program of the Department of Agriculture which encourages households to also consume other staple like milled white corn, which can help relieve pressure on local rice supplies,” Bingabing said. White corn serves as the staple in major islands of Visayas and Mindanao. “The implementation of the white corn program aims not only to sustain the requirement of white corn-eating populace and address hunger problems but also to encourage rice consumers to incorporate white corn to their usual eating habit,” PhilMech researchers said.‐conducting‐tests‐on‐new‐corn‐mill/    

Rare ‘blood moon’ show By Rio N. Araja | Apr. 16, 2014 at 12:01am CLOUDY skies dashed Filipino sky gazers hopes of seeing the partial lunar eclipse at dusk on Tuesday – an eclipse that resulted in a very rare “blood moon” in other parts of the world – but they will get another chance in October when the second of four blood moons will be visible from the earth. The lunar eclipse is called a “blood moon” because the moon is fully covered by earth’s shadow and it receives only red light bending through the atmosphere of the earth, according to Mario Raymundo of the Philippines Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

Blood moon. The moon took on a unique orange-red color as viewed from Miami, Florida, during a total lunar eclipse on Tuesday. While clouds blocked the view from Metro Manila, Filipinos will have a chance to see a blood moon on October 8. AFP PHOTO “That is also the reason a sunset is red, because the blue light from the sun is dispersed by the atmosphere,” Raymundo said. “In the Philippines, we would have seen only a partial eclipse with the moon taking on a yellowish color,” Raymundo said, adding that the partial eclipse started at 6:12 p.m. and lasted for 25 minutes, but most of Metro Manila was cloudy at dusk. Most Filipino astronomy buffs, simply watched the lunar eclipse, which was fully visible in North and South America, through the website of the United States National Aeronautical and Space Administration which showed real time images with scientific commentary. Raymundo said Tuesday’s lunar eclipse is only the first of four blood moons over the next 18 months – a series astronomers call a “tetrad.”

The last time a tetrad took place was in 2003-2004, with the next predicted for 2032-2033. In total, the 21st century will see only eight tetrads. The next total lunar eclipse will take place on October 8, with the tetrad’s remaining two expected on April 4 and September 28 of next year. “The total lunar eclipse on October 8 should be very visible,” Raymundo said, noting that the blood moon will be visible from moonrise at dusk until 8:30 p.m. “Let us just pray it will not be cloudy because October is a month of storms.” While most people consider a “blood moon” a periodic – even if spectacularly beautiful – astronomical event, others have special interpretations of the event, particularly since the current tetrad coincides with the important Jewish holidays Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles. It is significant for Christians because of the biblical prophecy: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord” (Joel 2:31 and Acts 2:20). The American televangelist John Hagee says the tetrad heralds a “world-shaking event,” particularly for Israel since previous tetrads in 1492, 1948 and 1967, coincided with the expulsion of Jews from Spain, statehood for Israel and the Six-Day War. Hagee, who wrote the book “Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change” in 2013, had also been criticized for claiming in 2008 that God unleashed Hurricane Katrina at the city of New Orleans because of its support for gays and lesbians. He later apologized for the remark. But others adopted a more positive view at Tuesday’s blood moon with families camping outside observatories all over the world to watch the phenomenon.

Public in for waterless days, power shortage By Joyce Pangco Panares, Alena Mae S. Flores and Rey E. Requejo | Apr. 16, 2014 at 12:01am PARTS of Luzon may have to prepare for water supply interruptions this Holy Week and a potential shortage of electricity next month as a result of thinning power reserves, officials said on Tuesday. Manila Water, the concessionaire for Metro Manila’s East Zone, said its operations and services would remain normal but Maynilad, the concessionaire for Metro Manila’s West Zone, said consumers in parts of the metropolis including Cavite may have to brace themselves for a water shortage. Maynilad said the water supply interruptions would result from the Department of Public Works and Highways’ efforts to address the problem of perennial flooding in Manila. The company said an interceptor drainage box culvert to be built by the department along Blumentritt Street will cross Maynilad’s water pipe along Juan Luna and Hermosa Streets, so it must realign that pipe. “We will need 72 hours to expose, de-water, re-align and energize our pipe because it is a sevenfoot-tall primary line,” Maynilad said. The Department of Energy said the Luzon grid will go no yellow alert today but will return to normal on Thursday following the going off-line of the Masinloc-2 power plant in Zambales on Tuesday. Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the 300megawatt Pagbilao power plant was also on an extended shutdown. Moreover, the Malampaya natural gas facility will go on a scheduled maintenance shutdown today, affecting its generating capacity. The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines said the yellow alert will take effect at the peak hours of 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. A yellow alert indicates that the power reserve in the Luzon grid is less than 600 megawatts. “With the gas restriction of the Malampaya plant [on Wednesday], we might be on yellow alert but we expect normalization by Thursday,” Coloma said, citing a report from the Department of Energy.

But Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla was cautious. “There [will be] no [blackouts]. Up to the end of the month [April] we do not see any problem, but for May we will never know because it’s very sensitive, [the power] reserves are very thin,” Petilla said earlier in a television interview. Meralco’s rates spiked by P0.89 per kilowatt hour this month as a result of the tight power supply last month. The company also expects its generation charge to go up by P1.72 per kilowatt hour next month. Meanwhile, the Energy Regulatory Commission has approved a program of Manila Electric Co. encouraging the large power users to operate generators to boost the power supply during the peak dry season. The Makabayan bloc in Congress and the group People Opposed to Unwarranted Electricity Rates urged the Supreme Court to extend its order enjoining Meralco and the Energy Regulatory Commission from implementing Meralco’s rate increase of P4.15 per kilowatt hour.

SC asked to extend Meralco TRO April 15, 2014 10:38 pm   by REINA TOLENTINO REPORTER Worried that the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) will impose the highest power rate hike ever, a group of consumers and lawmakers on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court (SC) to extend indefinitely the temporary restraining order (TRO) it issued halting the P4.15 per kilowatt-hour rate increase approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) late last year. The TRO expires on April 22, 2014. The High Court will also hold its last summer session in Baguio City on the same date. The group led by party-list lawmakers filed a motion asking the SC to also extend the TRO against several power generation companies that stopped them from collecting the adjusted generation charges that led Meralco to increase its rate. The SC issued the TRO, valid for 60 days, against Meralco on December 23, 2013. It extended the order for another 60 days. The petitioners said the High Court should protect consumers from “patently erroneous generation charges.” The motion filed on Tuesday also questioned the ERC decision allowing Meralco to impose the generation cost as an automatic pass-through charge to its customers, resulting in the unprecedented December rate hike. “Electric consumers are already suffering from so many burdens that it is imperative that the SC extend this temporary relief or better yet declare the proposed outrageous power rate hike as illegal and the Electric Power Industry Reform Act as unconstitutional,” Rep. Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers Party-list said.

Used transformers dangerous to health April 15, 2014 10:36 pm   by LEENA CHUA THOSE transformers on electric posts also pose a danger to health. Environmental group Greenpeace warned that used transformers that contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are toxic. PCB is used in the manufacture of dielectric, a material used in electrical insulators. Exposure to PCBs can cause cancer, birth defects, damage to the liver and other internal organs, according to Greenpeace. People can be exposed to PCBs through contaminated soil or water. Greenpeace officer Abigail Aguilar said the International Agency for Research on Cancer last year classified PCBs as carcinogens. PCBs are also used in flourescent bulbs and circuit breakers. Aguilar said the Departments of Energy and Environment and Natural Resources signed an agreement for the regulated dumping of PCBs but it is yet to be implemented. Greenpeace said transformers made in the 1960s and 1970s can still be found in old facilities and the PCBs that they contain may have seeped into the soil. The Philippines is estimated to have accumulated at least 7,000 metric tons of equipment and materials containing PCBs. A big portion of this inventory is owned by the National Transmission Corp. and other electric cooperatives. A treatment facility for PCBs and other non-combustion persistent organic pollutants was put up in Mariveles, Bataan, to reduce the threat posed by these toxic materials to health and environment. Greenpeace, however, said the facility, which was funded by the Global Environment Facility, was not used for the commercial treatment of PCB-containing equipment. The facility, which was established in coordination with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, is the first in Asia. Greenpeace said the DENR should either ban PCBs or find a place where equipment containing PCBs can be dumped or treated.

PhilMech conducts prototype testing of compact cornmill April 15, 2014 8:14 pm   by James Konstantin Galvez The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) is currently conducting the prototype testing of a compact cornmill that can be easily transported and has a milling efficiency better to some units that are imported. PhilMech Executive Director Rex Bingabing said that the cornmill developed by the agency is locally fabricated and has state-of-the-art design features that makes it more compact and more efficient than existing cornmills. The machine can help increase the consumption of corn grits in far-flung areas where there are no corn-milling facilities but where corn planting is a major activity. “Corn grits, popularly known as mais-bugas, is a staple in many parts of the Visayas and Mindanao, and can also be consumed in communities where corn farming is more viable. But many far-flung communities hardly have or are far from corn milling facilities,” Bingabing said. The corn mill, which was designed by a PhilMech team from the agency’s Agricultural Mechanization Division led by Dr. Michael Gragasin and Romualdo Martinez, will be tested in Masbate (Luzon), Bohol (Visayas), and Surigao Del Norte (Mindanao) up to the end of this year. “ This research effort supports the Food Staple Sufficiency Program (FSSP) of the Department of Agriculture which encourages households to also consume other stapled like milled white corn, which can help relieve pressure on local rice supplies,” he said. White corn serves is the staple of about 15 percent of the total population, mostly in major islands of Visayas and Mindanao, in the form of corn grits. “The implementation of the White Corn Program [under the FSSP] aims not only to sustain the requirement of white corn-eating populace and address hunger problems but also to encourage rice-consumers to incorporate white corn to their usual eating habit,” the PhilMech researchers said. PhilMech researchers said the prototype testing is being undertaken to evaluate the performance of the machine in full commercial operation. The PhilMech-developed corn–mill has a recovery of between 60 percent and 70 percent, which is the viable level for the recovery of grits.

Chinese herb works better on arthritis April 15, 2014 8:02 pm   PARIS: A Chinese herb called thunder god vine works better than a widely-prescribed pharmaceutical drug at easing rheumatoid arthritis, a study published on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) said. The herb has long been used in China to treat this potentially crippling autoimmune disease, which typically strikes hand and foot joints. It is known in Mandarin as lei gong teng and to botanists as Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F. Extracts of the herb have already fired the interest of drug laboratories as they contain hundreds of compounds, in–cluding intriguing molecules called diterpenoids, which are believed to ease inflammation and immune response. In a study published in the British journal BMJ Open, Chinese researchers recruited 207 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and gave them either the herb; the drug methotrexate (marketed as Rheumatrex or Trexall); or a combination of the two. After six months, the patients were given a doctor’s assessment and were also asked if they felt any change. The benchmark for improve–ment is called the ACR 50—named after the American College of Rheumatology—which indi–cates a 50-percent improvement in the tally of tender or swollen joints and other criteria such as pain and disability. Of the 174 who completed the trial, 55 percent of those on the herb attained ACR 50, compared to 46 among those treated with methotrexate alone. But the biggest gain was among the group which took the herb-methotrexate combination: nearly 77 percent of them achieved the ACR 50 measure of improvement. Previous—but small-scale—trials involving thunder god vine have found it scored well against a harmless lookalike called a placebo and an anti-inflammatory called sulfasalazine. But some of that research also flagged potential side effects from the herb. The new study said that side effects this time were roughly similar among the herb and methodrexate users, being mainly gastrointestinal upsets. Among the herb group, some of the women experienced irregular menstruation. The investigation, led by Xuan Zhang, a rheumatologist at the Peking Union Medical College Hospital in Beijing, acknowledged several limitations.

One was that the doctors who treated the patients, and the patients themselves, knew what medication was being taken, although outside assessors were brought in to verify the results. Another was that the trial was too short to see if the herb arrested progression of the disease rather than eased the symptoms. A third was that the dose of methotrexate was limited to 12.5 milligrams a week. “This is standard in Asia, although it is common in the West to use higher doses,� the paper said. AFP

Low blood sugar bad for marital bliss: study April 15, 2014 4:40 pm   WASHINGTON: Low blood sugar isn’t good for marital bliss because it makes spouses more prone to anger and aggression, says a new study out Monday (Tuesday in Manila). The findings are based on experiments with 107 married couples asked to monitor their glucose levels before breakfast and bed every day for 21 days. In addition, researchers gave them voodoo dolls representing their significant other along with 51 pins. They were then told that, at the end each day over the three-week period, they should secretly stick pins into the dolls indicating how angry they were with their better half. Turns out that the lower the spouse’s blood sugar levels, the more pins he or she stuck into the dolls. “When they had lower blood glucose, they felt angrier and took it out on the dolls representing their spouse,” said lead study author Brad Bushman of Ohio State University. “Even those who reported they had good relationships with their spouses were more likely to express anger if their blood glucose levels were lower.” Following that experiment, the couples were brought into a lab where—split up in separate rooms—they were told they would play a computer game against their spouse. Each time they won, they were told, they would get to decide how loud of a noise would be blasted in the headphones of their significant other—and for how long. That actually didn’t end up happening, and they weren’t really playing against their spouse but against a computer that let them win about 50 percent of the time. Still, the results showed that people with lower average levels of evening blood sugar “sent” louder and longer noise to their spouse. What’s more, further analysis determined that those who pricked their voodoo dolls with more pins were more likely to deliver louder and longer blasts of noise. “We found a clear link between aggressive impulses as seen with the dolls and actual aggressive behavior,” Bushman said. He added that glucose serves as fuel for the brain, an organ which consumes about 20 percent of our calories though it only makes up two percent of our body weight.

Self-control needed to handle anger and aggressive impulses requires energy that is partly provided by glucose, he noted. “It’s simple advice but it works: Before you have a difficult conversation with your spouse, make sure you’re not hungry.” The findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. AFP

Deadly virus threatens fishpond industry April 15, 2014 3:55 pm   The White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV), which has been infecting crustaceans, is threatening the country’s fishpond industry urging a lawmaker to ask the government to probe and stop it from spreading. The Philippines is currently the third largest exporter of shrimps in the world. “Its presence is practically all over the Philippines as represented by the geographical location of the provinces that were attacked by said virus which are situated in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao,” said Rep. Lilia Macrohon-Nuño of Zamboanga City’s second district. Recently, the virus which attacks only prawns, shrimps and crabs was again detected in Zamboanga City villages Vitali, Tictapul and Mangusu. It was first detected in 2010 in Cebu, Bulacan and Zamboanga del Sur. “The normal harvest of 1 to 1.5 ton per hectare per fishpond has been down to 200 kilos or less because of the prevalence of the virus, thereby affecting the livelihood of the families dependent upon the fishpond industry,” Nuño said. This prompted her, who is also a vice-chairperson of the Agriculture and Food Committee, to seek measures from the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to stop the spread of the virus. Nestor Domenden, BFAR regional director of Dagupan, had earlier warned that the said can eventually cripple the shrimp industry as it is capable of wiping out all shrimps in just two to three days. While holding meetings with stakeholders and experts to prevent further infection of fishing farms, BFAR also urged farms to register so that the government can regulate their sanitation as the virus is believed to have originated from unregistered farms in Pangasinan or Zambales. The WSSV is the sole member of the virus family Nimaviridae. White spots on the exoskeleton can be found on an infected shrimp. REINA TOLENTINO

Posted on April 16, 2014 12:02:19 AM

Oil companies adjust fuel prices FUEL PRICES were adjusted yesterday as oil retailers track the movements in the international  oil market.  Petron Corp., Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., SEAOIL     Philippines, Inc., Total Philippines, Inc. and PTT Philippines Corp.  raised the prices of gasoline by 60 centavos per liter and diesel  by 10 centavos per liter.    Meanwhile, kerosene prices were reduced by 25 centavos per liter.    Price adjustments were effective since 6 a.m. yesterday.    This week’s price cuts followed prior downward adjustments of 15 centavos per liter on  gasoline, 35 centavos on diesel and 30 centavos on kerosene that were implemented last week.    The Energy department, in its latest report, noted that world crude prices generally softened  during the last trading week due to reports on growth in China’s economy and commencement  of Iraq’s production from a large oil field.    At the same time, the withdrawal of some Russian troops from the Ukranian border and hopes  on the return of Libya’s oil drove the sentiment in the world market.    However, Platts noted that gasoline market in Asia were mixed amid uncertainties over regional  demand. “Import requirements from Indonesia, Asia’s biggest gasoline importer, remain  unclear until next week,” the Energy department said.    “Meanwhile, Asia could see less cargo from India as more supply is directed to the  Mediterranean market ‐‐ a structural supplier to the Middle East,” it added.    Lower output from refineries in Mediterranean region and a higher pull for cargoes from North  Africa, however, caused tightness amid refinery maintenance season in Asia.    An upbeat diesel market in Asia was seen by Platts due to projections of further tightening  supply weighed by scheduled maintenance of more idle refineries.   

Prices of Dubai crude ‐‐ the benchmark used by most of Asia ‐‐ are at $104.323 per barrel  yesterday from $103.303 per barrel.    Meanwhile, as of April 14, international prices of diesel are at $124 per barrel from $122 per  barrel the previous week. While those of gasoline are at $123 per barrel from $119 per barrel.    Data from the Energy department’s Web site showed that prior to the recent adjustments,  gasoline was worth between P49.50 per liter and P55.65 per liter, while diesel prices ranged  from P41.70 per liter to P45.25 per liter. ‐‐ Claire‐Ann Marie C. Feliciano‐companies‐adjust‐ fuel‐prices&id=86179                                 

Posted on April 16, 2014 12:05:38 AM

Fertilizer prices down in March NATIONWIDE prices for fertilizers besides urea decreased in March, the Bureau of Agricultural  Statistics (BAS) reported yesterday.    “At the national level, dealers’ prices of complete [fertilizer], ammosul and ammophos  declined. Price of urea slightly increased,” BAS said in its Updates on Fertilizer Prices, released  on its Web site yesterday.    “Across regions, dealer’s prices showed varied movements but were generally lower than last  year’s and last month’s posting,” the bureau added.    The March average dealer’s price for Urea reached P1,101.43/sack, 0.54% more than the  P1,095.56/sack recorded in February figures. Year‐on‐year, the March 2014 price was 8.51%  lower than the P1.203.94/sack of 2013.    The average dealer price of complete fertilizer, meanwhile, was P1,202.30/sack, cheaper by just  P0.02 than in February 2014 and by P41.86 or 3.36% from the P1,184.33/sack in March last  year.    Ammosul was recorded to have an average price of P642.10/sack, lower by 0.68% from  P646.46/sack in February and by 15.20% from P1,096.11/sack in March 2013.    As for ammophos, the March 2014 average price was pegged at P1,0349.97/sack, sliding just  0.23% from P1,037.31/sack in February and 5.58% from P1,096.11/sack year‐on‐year. ‐‐ A.M.  Monzon‐prices‐down‐ in‐March&id=86186           

Posted on April 16, 2014 12:05:15 AM

Probe on shrimp-killing virus urged A LAWMAKER pressed two government agencies to probe the spread of the white spot  syndrome virus (WSSV) in the fish pond industry.    House Committee on Agriculture and Food Vice‐Chairperson and Zamboanga City Rep. Lilia  Macrohon‐Nuño (2nd District) urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of  Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in a statement yesterday to investigate the spread of  WSSV and propose safety measures against it.    “Its presence is practically all over the Philippines as represented by the geographical location  of the provinces that were attacked by said virus which are situated in Luzon, Visayas and  Mindanao,” Ms. Macrohon‐Nuño said.    According to the lawmaker, the WSSV was detected in 2010, in fishponds in Cebu, Bulacan and  Zamboanga del Sur.    “It has been reported that the normal harvest of 1 to 1.5 tons per hectare per fishpond has  been down to 200 kilos (kilograms) or less because of the prevalence of the virus, thereby  affecting the livelihood of the families dependent upon the fishpond industry,” Ms Macrohon‐ Nuño said.    The lawmaker cited BFAR Ilocos Regional Director Nestor D. Domenden for warning the public  that the virus can completely wipe out shrimps in only two to three days.    WSSV is named for the spots that appear on the shells of affected shrimp. ‐‐ J.P. Miranda‐on‐shrimp‐ killing‐virus‐urged&id=86185           

Posted on April 16, 2014 12:06:40 AM

Importers said struggling with new process WITH ROUGHLY a month left to comply, importers are having difficulty fulfilling a Department  of Finance (DoF) order requiring tax bureau clearance before securing accreditation from the  Bureau of Customs (BoC), Commissioner John Sevilla said on Monday.    “There is some feedback that there are a lot who are having a hard time with the BIR (Bureau  of Internal Revenue). There are a lot of requirements,” Mr. Sevilla said in a press briefing.    “I guess there are importers who have been accustomed to lax processes at the customs  before. That’s also one of the reasons why the DoF ordered it,” he added.    Mr. Sevilla said importers whose BoC accreditation has already expired “are not being  entertained”.    Asked how the BoC and BIR are helping importers catch up, Mr. Sevilla said: “That’s a  requirement. People just have to comply.”    The DoF, on Feb. 6, issued Department Order (DO) 12‐2014 requiring importers to secure a BIR  Importer Clearance Certificate (BIR‐ICC) as a requisite for accreditation with the BoC.    The DoF gave 90 days for importers to comply with the order. Mr. Sevilla said the period began  on Feb. 10 ‐‐ when the BIR issued its guidelines for importers ‐‐ and is expected to end in May.    Asked on the consequences if importers fail to comply, Mr. Sevilla said: “They cannot import.”    The BoC chief added that an extension of the 90‐day period “would depend on the reason”.    “If [it depends on] BIR’s ability to process the applications within 90 days, then yes. Otherwise,  no,” Mr. Sevilla said.    “We’re discussing it with BIR this week,” he added.    Sought for comment, Ma. Fe Perez‐Agudo, president of the Association of Vehicle Importers  and Distributors (AVID), said: “We are currently collating the documents required for the 

importers to get BIR clearance before securing accreditation from the BOC.”    She added she has yet to receive feedback from AVID members.    BIR Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto‐Henares, for her part, did not comment, saying the bureau  was busy with yesterday’s filing of income tax returns. ‐‐ Mikhail Franz E. Flores‐said‐ struggling‐with‐new‐process&id=86188                                     

Posted on April 16, 2014 12:08:43 AM

Farm exports income rises in 2013 AGRICULTURAL export revenues soared 25.41% while the value of imports declined 4.49% in  2013, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) reported on Monday.  Laborers load coconut husks onto a delivery truck in Manila, in this 2012 photo. ‐‐ BW File  Photo    Revenues from exports of agricultural goods reached $6.32 billion, more than the $5.04 billion  recorded in the year before, according to BAS’ Updates on Agricultural Trade Performance.    Imports were still worth more as their total value dropped to $7.80 billion from $8.17 billion in  2012.    However, BAS said the agricultural trade deficit had decreased 52.6% to $1.48 billion in 2013  from the prior year’s $3.13 billion.    Coconut oil remained the country’s biggest export earner last year, garnering a value of  $950.55 million despite an 8.73% decline from $1.04 billion in 2012.    Fresh bananas, tuna, and pineapple and pineapple products, also retained their rankings at  second, third and fourth, respectively.    The remaining top ten exports, from fifth to 10th place, were centrifugal sugar, manufactured  tobacco, copra oil cake, seaweeds and carageenan, desiccated coconut, and shrimps and  prawns.    Desiccated coconut, the fifth top export in 2012, fell to ninth in the list last year as its value  decreased 8% to $181.3 million from $197 million. It was replaced by centrifugal sugar, which  rose from eighth place with a value of $249.79 million in 2013, 129.59% more than the $180.8  million recorded the year before.    Milk, cream and other dairy products and manufactured fertilizer, in ninth and 10th place in  2012, fell off the list. Shrimps and prawns, which registered 279.14% growth in value to $140.21  million from $36.98 million in 2012, replaced manufactured fertilizer.    Copra oil cake, the other new top export, saw its value nearly double to $239.86 million in 2013 

from $124.61 million the year prior.    Rolando T. Dy, executive director of the University of Asia and the Pacific’s Center for Food and  Agribusiness, said that higher export prices as well as higher volumes contributed to the rise in  export income.    “While coconut oil and desiccated coconut exports fell, it was more than compensated by price‐ driven expansions of banana, tuna and copra meal,” Mr. Dy said in an e‐mail.    Meanwhile, the country’s top ten imports last year, in descending order, were wheat and  meslin, soybean oil/cake meal, milk and cream and products, manufactured fertilizer, bovine  animal meats, coffee, urea, rice, unmanufactured tobacco, and maize/corn.    BAS noted that total expenditures for these imports fell 7.29% to $3.81 billion last year from  $4.12 billion in 2012.    “Cuts on imports were noted for rice, urea, manufactured fertilizer and coffee. Increased  importations were noted for maize/corn, soybean/cake meal, milk [and] cream and products,  and unmanufactured tobacco,” the report read. ‐‐ with AMM‐exports‐income‐ rises‐in‐2013&id=86192                     

Posted on April 16, 2014 12:08:08 AM

Feed makers buy soymeal abroad HAMBURG ‐‐ A group of animal feed makers in the Philippines has purchased about 120,000  metric tons of soymeal in a tender for the same volume which closed last week but made no  purchase in a tender for 134,500 MT of feed wheat, European traders said on Tuesday.  Soymeal is used in feeds for poultry, livestock and fish. In this 2012 photo, a laborer feeds  chickens at a farm near Hyderabad, India. ‐‐ AFP    The soymeal had been sought for August/September shipment. The wheat was sought in three  consignments for shipment between May and September, depending on origin.    Traders said the soymeal was purchased in three consignments.    One was purchased from Noble at a premium of $66.30 cost and freight (c&f) over the Chicago  August soymeal contract SMQ4, the second was purchased from Glencore at $61.50 c&f over  Chicago August soymeal and the third from Glencore at $85 c&f over Chicago September  soymeal.    The lowest offer in the feed wheat tender was $293/MT c&f for shipment between Sept. 1‐20 if  from Australia or India or between Aug. 15‐Sept. 5 if from the Black Sea or European Union.    Indian, Australian and Black Sea origin wheat was offered heavily in the tender, traders said. ‐‐  Reuters‐makers‐buy‐ soymeal‐abroad&id=86191             

Posted on April 16, 2014 12:07:32 AM

Davao cacao farmers upgrade bean drying process DAVAO CITY ‐‐ Cacao farmers in this city are cashing in on fermented dried cacao beans, whose price is  about one‐third more than that of beans dried traditionally.  Fermented cacao beans are said to be worth more than the traditionally dried. In this May 2013 photo, a  worker in Costa Rica displays some cacao seeds. ‐‐ AFP    Eduardo de Vera of Balingaeng Multipurpose Cooperative, a local group of cacao growers, said they  used to sell unfermented dried beans at P90 per kilogram, until they saw that fermented beans went for  P120/kg.    Fermented dried cacao beans have better quality than the traditionally dried since the fermentation  bring out the best and aromatic flavor of cacao, Mr. De Vera said.    The regional office of the Department of Agriculture (DA) turned over, last February, eight sets of cacao  post‐harvest facilities and equipment worth P2.239 million. CacaoNet, a federation of farmers’  cooperatives in the region, received the equipment. These include fermenting equipment and dryers to  assist the farmers in their expansion project.    Musa Sajid, president of CacaoNet and chairman of the Tamayong Tausog Multi‐Purpose Cooperative  here, said the quality of cacao beans will depend on how the beans are dried.    “With the tunnel‐type solar dryer, it will be easier for us to dry our cacao beans, even during the rainy  season resulting to less bean rejection,” Mr. Sajid said.    DA’s High Value Crops Development Program has also provided the cooperative with a storage building  for the farmers.    Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte has also encouraged farmers to cash in on the opportunities  offered by cacao in the domestic and world market, and has ordered the City Agriculturist’s Office to  provide more cacao planting materials and training for cacao farmers.    DA data showed that cacao production in the Davao Region increased 2% to 3,844.3 metric tons last  year from 3,762.89 MT in 2012.    Remelyn R. Recoter, DA regional director, said the region’s cacao industry has been enjoying a  continuing growth in the past years. 

The DA in the region has earmarked P14 million to ensure the continuous growth of the region’s cacao  industry. The fund will be used for to buy seedlings, machines and other planting equipment; to  establish post‐harvest facilities and for marketing assistance. ‐‐ Carmencita A. Carillo‐cacao‐farmers‐ upgrade‐bean‐drying‐process&id=86190                                        

House to probe abuses of RP financing firms Written by  Charlie V. Manalo   Wednesday, 16 April 2014 00:00   A lawmaker has filed a measure seeking a congressional inquiry into the malpractices of various financing companies in the country. Buhay Rep. Irwin Tieng, author of House Resolution 932, said various financing companies are engaged in different malpractices to the disadvantage not only of the consumers but of the legitimate sellers as well. “These practices of unscrupulous financing companies in deceiving sellers for their personal gain should be stopped,” Tieng said. He added financing companies are primarily designed to facilitate financing for consumers making huge purchases like vehicle and equipment. The lawmaker said the transfer of ownership of the subject of sale to the buyer is an essential requirement of the financing companies prior to the release of the full payment. “The subject of sale is subsequently encumbered in favor of the financing companies for the latter’s security against the buyer,” Tieng said. The partylist solon cited the case of Radiowealth Finance Company, which is facing cases of default payments to the sellers. Tieng said upon the release of the equipment subject or financing to the buyer, Radiowealth willfully refused to pay the total purchase price, resulting in significant loss of the seller’s business. He added the Radiowealth is liable to the seller on the basis that it guaranteed full payment of the property subject to financing and has the right and obligation to collect from the buyer-borrower. Tieng said the Financing Company Act of 1996 or Republic Act 8556 refers to a corporation engaged in extending credit facilities to consumers and to industrial and agricultural enterprises. Financing companies are allowed to engage in direct lending or by discounting commercial papers, buying and selling contracts and leases chattel mortgages.‐to‐probe‐abuses‐of‐rp‐financing‐firms           

Former NFA chief Tanchanco is dead Written by  PNA   Wednesday, 16 April 2014 00:00   Jesus “Jess” Tanchanco succumbed to cardiac arrest Monday afternoon (April 14). Tanchanco was administrator of the National Food Authority (NFA) from 1972 to 1986. He left behind his wife, Alice Martinez-Tanchanco, and four children Jesus Jr., Alfredo, Ma. Carina and Tomas. Employees of the NFA in Quezon City were shocked to learn of Tanchanco’s untimely demise. It was during his time when NFA achieved its finest glory as an agency. He was responsible for uniting the NFA as an agency and its people. Tanchanco was also the man behind the founding of the NFA which was formerly called the National Grains Administration. Prior to his passing, Tanchanco was executive director of the University of the East Marketing Department. He was a member of the Board of Trustees and past president of the UE Foundation for Research and Advanced Studies. He also chaired the Heart Foundation of the Philippines, Agriculture Committee of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Metro Manila Chamber of Commerce and Industry Development Cooperative. He was vice chairman of the committee on fruits and vegetables of the Department of Agriculture (DA). Tanchanco was board of director of the National Marketing Umbrella and the Minimum Access Volume units of the DA. Tanchanco’s remains currently lie in state at the Paz Funeral parlor on Araneta Avenue, Quezon City. Interment will be announced later.‐section/former‐nfa‐chief‐tanchanco‐is‐dead                   

Expert provides two options for banks to make ATMs safe Written by  Ed Velasco   Wednesday, 16 April 2014 00:00   Leading bank Banco de Oro (BdO) said yesterday all banks wanting to change their system in running automated teller machines (ATMs) have only two options —ask Microsoft to provide extension of software coverage or install other fraud-prevention software. It can be recalled that Microsoft officially ended providing technical and software support to 95 percent of around 13,000 ATMs all over the country last April 8. The end of support raises question whether the money stacked in ATMs are fraud-free from skimmers. Joey Pereche, BdO head of ATM channel and fraud management, said the mentioned options these are the only alternatives left for any bank. Not choosing any of these options will put the money of depositors at ATMs at risk. “Banks can just avail of Microsoft extended coverage or install other fraud-prevention software,” Pereche told The Daily Tribune. Although hinting that either way will mean huge expenses for banks, Pereche didn’t reply when asked how much will it cost for any bank if it will ask extension for the support or install any fraud-prevention software. “I cannot disclose this,” the head of ATM channel said. BdO, the number one unibank in assets in the Philippines, has over 2,000 ATMs, the highest among the existing 700-plus banks in the country. Several other banks were asked what have they done about their ATMs but none of them replied. Among all the 34 members of the Bankers’ Association of the Philippines, only the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. has categorically stated that it has migrated to the newer Windows 7 while ATMs that are not yet converted to Windows 7 will remain protected even though running under Windows XP. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has warned banks that there are corresponding penalties for banks if risks posed by exposure to skimmers due to absence of enough security walls are not addressed by them.‐provides‐two‐options‐for‐banks‐to‐make‐atms‐ safe       

Walang extension sa tax filing -- BIR Wednesday, 16 April 2014 00:00 Written by Amihan Sabillo “No more extension!” Ito ang desisyon ng Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) patungkol sa paghahain ng income tax return na nagtapos kahapon.

Malinaw na tinuran ni BIR Commissioner Kim Henares na, “Wala pong extension, today (kahapon) po ang deadline 5:00 p.m.,” bilang reaksyon sa naisin ng ilan na palawigin pa ang deadline kahapon. Ipinaliwanag pa ni Henares na sakaling ‘di umabot kahapon ay kanila na itong papatawan ng penalty, “Kapag late po kayo may surcharge po na 25% at may increase na 20% per annum hanggang doon sa araw na pagbabayad ninyo.”

Magkagayunman, sinabi pa ni Henares na mainam pa rin aniyang magbayad ang mga ‘di nakahabol kahapon kahit na may penalty na kaakibat kaysa tuluyang balewalain ang BIR dahil tiyak aniyang lolobo ang mga bayarin dahil sa gagawing paghahabol ng nasabing ahensya na wala umanong sinasanto o pipiliin. “Kasi kung hindi kayo mag-file, ‘yung surcharge na ‘yan ho magiging 50%, interest 20% per annum tapos meron pang criminal liability,” mariing babala ng opisyal.

Banned beauty products still being sold — Miriam Published : Wednesday, April 16, 2014 00:00   SENATOR Miriam Defensor-Santiago has pressed for an inquiry into the reports that “banned” skin whitening products, which reportedly contain high levels of mercury, are still being sold in Metro Manila and other urban areas. She filed Resolution 555 directing the proper Senate committee to conduct an inquiry into the claim of the EcoWaste Coalition that it was able to buy one of these banned products, the Ema Whitening Cream from 10 Chinese drugstores in Divisoria, Quiapo, and Sta. Cruz in Manila. It is also reportedly being sold on-line. It was reported last November that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had banned Ema Whitening Cream and 10 other whitening cosmetic products for containing mercury above the maximum allowed limit of one part per million (ppm); The other allegedly toxic whitening creams on the FDA list are: Angela Placenta Whitening Cream (Tender Skin & Whitening), Gemli Beauty Series Freckles Cream Plus Placenta Extract, Jiaoli Huichunsu Specific Eliminating Freckle Cream; Jiaoli Speckle Dispelling & Whitening Cream, LMSER Whitening Cream, Sanli Eliminating Freckle Cream Plus Complex Vitamin C & E, Top Shirley Nourishing Cream, White Magnolia Intensive Repair Essence & Powerful Spot Remover, Zhjren Whitening Ruddy Combination Suit, and Zhjren 7 Day Beauty Elegant Moisturizing & Whitening Day Cream. “It is imperative for the State to ensure that these whitening products are prevented from proliferating in the market. Thus, the legislature should study if higher penalties should be imposed or stricter guidelines should be implemented to stop dangerous skin products from being sold to the public,” Santiago said. Bernadette E. Tamayo

2014 04 16 quedancor daily news monitor  
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