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Irrigation supply to farms to be stopped Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:05 am | Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

NICKEL laterite washed away by previous floods has destroyed at least 300 hectares of farmland, 200 ha of fishponds, three rivers and the shoreline in Sta. Cruz town, Zambales province. ALLAN MACATUNO/INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON CITY OF MALOLOS—Some 5,000 hectares of rice farms in Bulacan and Pampanga provinces will not be supplied with irrigation water this week with the continued decline of the water level in Angat Dam. Precioso Punzalan, assistant operations engineer of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in Bustos Dam, said his office had urged the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) against cutting off irrigation completely on April 24. Bustos is one of the lower elevation dams receiving Angat’s water discharges. Bustos Dam supplies the irrigation needs of 26,791 ha of farmland in 17 towns in Bulacan and four towns in Pampanga. On Monday, the water elevation in Angat Dam dropped to 185.55 meters above sea level from 185.84 masl on Sunday and 186.14 masl on Saturday. On April 14, the elevation was at 187.58 masl. The reservoir has a 210-masl maximum spilling level.

Households and establishments in Metro Manila get their water supply from Angat Dam.

Punzalan said zero irrigation would affect 5,000 ha of farmland. Rice fields in the Bulacan towns of Bulakan, Bocaue, Hagonoy, Paombong, Calumpit and Pulilan, and farms on the outskirts of San Luis in Pampanga will suffer from the abrupt cut in irrigation supply, he said. To save crops ready for harvest in May, he asked for a discharge allocation of 10 cubic meters per second, down from the regular 14 cubic meters per second. Punzalan said the NWRB would decide on Wednesday if it would grant their request not to cut off their irrigation water supply. He said some duck raisers in Baliwag and Pulilan towns in Bulacan and in San Luis and Apalit towns in Pampanga were tapping the NIA’s irrigation canals to redirect water flow to their ponds, depriving farmlands of water supply. In Isabela province, the water level at the Magat Dam reservoir in Ramon town also dropped to 167.04 masl on Monday, prompting its administrators to discontinue the supply of irrigation water to nearby farms, said Saturnino Tenedor, chief of the Magat instrumentation and flood forecasting section. On Sunday, the reservoir level was at 167.25 masl. Rice farmers are almost through with the season’s harvest, and irrigation would resume in June for the next planting, said Mariano Dancel, operations manager of Magat River Integrated Irrigation System, which is overseen by the NIA. Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Inquirer Central Luzon, and Villamor Visaya Jr., Inquirer Northern Luzon

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Is NFA indifferent to private traders? 12:01 am | Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 This April the National Food Authority, with a budget of P17.1 billion, is set to import 800,000 metric tons (mt) of rice, through a surprise public tender among foreign traders and grains exporters with clearly separate and differing international quotes. Vietnam’s state-owned and biggest trading firm, Southern Food Corp. (Vinafood II) which has jurisdiction in this part of the world on rice trade, has signified its wish to supply the whole 800,000 mt, this time with the pricey 15-percent rice brokens in place of the cheaper 25-percent brokens that have dominated the NFA’s import mix close to 100 percent! Deemed very significant too is the participation of two Thai major private trading outfits, Asia Golden Rice Co. Ltd. and Thai Hua Co. Ltd., Vietnam’s Gentraco Corp., and South Korea’s Daewoo Corp. The NFA appears to be indifferent to the unfavorable impact of large-scale biddings—such as for the 2.3 million mt of rice worth $1.5 billion which raised the NFA’s acquisition cost to about $700/mt at one point. International quotes and prices crashed to $323/mt after the conclusion of the tenders. Private traders were no match to state-owned trading firms that have monopolized the NFA’s rice import requirements from 2009 to 2013, save for the 75,000 mt in a July 2009 open bidding (“RP may buy 75,000MT of rice from Thailand, Pakistan,” Business, 7/25/09).

As in the July 2009 tender, familiar names are listed by the NFA in the mega tender this April. Thailand’s Asia Golden Rice Co. Ltd., and Thai Hua Co. Ltd., which offered lower bid prices of $487/mt (CNF) on Thai rice international quotes of $459 (FOB), bested Vinafood II which had a surprisingly much higher bid of $504 despite a much lower Vietnam rice benchmark of $359. Amid the setback, Vinafood II supplied the NFA 1.5 million mt of rice in a G2G (governmentto-government arrangement) only six months earlier at $549.50 (CNF). Will the Thai firms prevail this time as in the July 2009 tender? Let’s hope the NFA budget of $479 (CIF/DDU) would remain as is, or even much lower, after the conclusion of the tenders. —MANUEL Q. BONDAD,

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IFC assists RCBC unit in P1-B agri loan program By Donnabelle L. Gatdula (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 23, 2014 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The International Finance Corp. (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, will assist the Rizal Microbank, wholly-owned by Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), for its more than P1 billion agricultural loan program in Luzon and Mindanao. In a statement, IFC said it would advise Rizal Microbank on better understanding the financing needs and risk profiles of agricultural suppliers, traders, and service providers. IFC said the program would expand lending to smallholder farmers, creating jobs and reducing poverty in Mindanao. Rizal Microbank has disbursed 12,000 loans amounting to more than P1 billion to clients, including dealers of seeds, fertilizers, machinery and agrichemicals, farm-produce traders and processors, and post-harvest facility providers, in Mindanao and southern Luzon in its four years of operation, with the loans ranging from P50,000 to P1 million. IFC has a $150 million equity investment in the Davao-based thrift bank subsidiary of RCBC to help increase lending to small and medium enterprises, including those headed by women entrepreneurs. Specifically, IFC would help Rizal Microbank improve its capacity and risk management so that it could make quicker and better decisions in approving loans for agricultural suppliers, traders and service providers. The bank would later explore lending directly to farmers after gaining a better understanding of the risks involved. “IFC will be working with Rizal Microbank to gain a better understanding of the financing need, repayment capacity, and risk profile of agricultural value-chain players so that the appropriate financial services can be offered to them,” IFC resident representative Jesse Ang said. Ang said, “this will improve access to credit in the farming sector, where financing is very limited, and help create more jobs and lift people out of poverty.” IFC’s agrifinance program focuses on raising the declining productivity of farms, which comprise a third of the country’s usable land and where one in three employed Filipinos earn a living.

Since banks have been allotting only five percent of their total loans to agriculture, the agrifinance program, which is supported by funding from Canada, aims to improve access to credit for farmers. “IFC’s technical know-how will accelerate our efforts in increasing lending to agricultural players such as suppliers, traders, processors, and post-harvest facility providers. Most of them are small enterprises,” Rizal Microbank president Maria Lourdes Pineda said. “Our bank sees great potential in Mindanao’s agricultural sector, which contributes significantly to the country’s total agricultural output,” Pineda said. Mindanao is considered the Philippines’ food basket, particularly in terms of rice, corn, coconut, coffee, fruits, vegetables, and fisheries products. The entire island contributes significantly to the corn feed, livestock, and poultry subsectors, which increase the gross value of the economy by 37 percent. The Philippine agribusiness sector employed a third of the country’s workforce, or around 13 million people, but contributed only 11 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2012. Agribusiness growth declined to 2.9 percent in 2012 from 4.9 percent in 2007, causing three times more families to join the ranks of the poor in the farming sector as compared with other sectors. IFC is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. In FY13, IFC’s investments climbed to an all-time high of nearly $25 billion, leveraging the power of the private sector to create jobs and tackle the world’s most pressing development challenges.

El Nino Forecast by Australia as All Models Predict Onset By Jake Lloyd‐Smith Apr 22, 2014 8:36 PM GMT+0800  

Photographer: Nana Buxani/Bloomberg  

A farmer surveys a rice field, dried up due to an El Nino-induced drought, in the... Read More An El Nino will probably start as soon as July, according to the Australian government forecaster, strengthening predictions for the event that can affect weather patterns worldwide and roil commodity prices. All the climate models surveyed indicated that an El Nino was likely this year, with six of seven models suggesting that thresholds for the event may be exceeded as early as July, the Bureau of Meteorology said in a statement today. A warming of the Pacific Ocean, which drives the changes by affecting the atmosphere above it, will probably continue in the next few months, the Melbourne-based bureau said. El Ninos can bake Asia, while bringing wetter-than-usual weather to parts of South America and the U.S., challenging farmers from Indonesia to Brazil with too little rain or too much. Palm oil and sugar were listed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. this month as among crops that may be affected if an El Nino sets in. The World Meteorological Organization warned last week of a dramatic rise in world temperatures should an El Nino reinforce human-induced warming from greenhouse gases. “The odds were balanced a month ago or so, now they are clearly in favor of an El Nino event developing,” Tracey Allen, a commodities analyst at Rabobank International in London, said in a telephone interview. “Among the main commodities that an El Nino tends to influence from a production point of view, we see palm oil, raw sugar and cocoa.”

Goldman’s View An El Nino would boost risks to soft-commodity price forecasts, Goldman Sachs said. The last El Nino to form was in 2009 to 2010, and since then the Pacific has either been in its cooler state, called La Nina, or neutral.

“El Nino has an impact across much of the world, including below-average rainfall in the western Pacific and Indonesian regions,” the Australian bureau said today. “For Australia, El Nino is usually associated with below-average rainfall, with about two thirds of El Nino events since 1900 resulting in major drought over large areas of Australia.” The chances of an El Nino have increased to 65 percent from 52 percent, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center said on April 10. There are signs that an El Nino is imminent, presaging changes to global weather patterns, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization said April 15. Two weeks ago, the Australian bureau put the odds at more than 70 percent.

Rice Market “It’s looking likely that we’ll have El Nino this year,” said David Dawe, a Bangkok-based senior economist at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, commenting on the probable impact on the rice market. “Usually the countries that are most affected by this are Indonesia and the Philippines. By coincidence, these all are importing countries.” Global stockpiles of rice are high and supplies are ample, Dawe said. While there may be less rain in Indonesia and the Philippines, any decline in production isn’t likely until early next year, he said. “The market is reasonably well positioned to withstand a shock from El Nino,” Dawe said. “If we get El Nino conditions in June, July and August, that affects the planting decisions made by farmers in November and December.” The price of 5-percent Thai white rice dropped to $391 a metric ton on March 26, the lowest level since at least April 2008, amid record government reserves in Thailand after a state-buying program. The grade, a weekly benchmark across Asia, was last at $396 a ton on April 9. Global food costs climbed 2.3 percent in March to the highest level since May, according to a 55-item gauge compiled by the FAO that includes prices of grains, meat, dairy products and edible oils. To contact the reporter on this story: Jake Lloyd-Smith in Singapore at To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Poole at Claudia Carpenter, Dan Weeks

Mushroom extract prolongs shrimp shelf life–BFAR Category: Agri‐Commodities   22 Apr 2014   Written by Alladin S. Diega / Correspondent   MUSHROOM extract is a powerful anti‐oxidant that can prolong the shelf life of crustaceans and fish for  up  to  four  days  in  room  temperature,  the  Bureau  of  Fisheries  and  Aquatic  Resources  (BFAR)  said  on  Tuesday.  “Not only the extract is effective to seafood but also to meat [such as pork and chicken] which prevents  the blackening of the meat from the oxidation process,” Dr. Angel B. Encarnacion, officer in charge of  the  postharvest  and  marketing  division  of  the  BFAR  in  Cagayan  Valley,  said  during  his  presentation  organized by the National Academy of Science and Technology, an attached agency of the Department  of Science and Technology.    The price of blackened crustaceans can be reduced into half, even after only one day from harvest, the  scientist said.  Encarnacion  said  the  practical  application  of  his  research  on  the  utilization  of  extract  from  an  edible  mushroom to control melanosis and lipid oxidation in farmed crustaceans and fish is an answer to key  issues on food security, particularly on safety, quality and waste utilization.  His  paper,  an  offshoot  of  an  earlier  finding  that  he  co‐authored  with  three  foreign  scientists  in  2011,  investigated  the  effectiveness  of  locally  grown  mushroom  extract  in  arresting  the  melanosis,  or  blackening of the shrimp and fish, after being packed for delivery.  “My  study  in  2011  [with  three  colleagues]  investigated  the  melanosis‐inhibiting  properties  of  crude  water‐soluble  extracts  from  the  base  and  fruiting  body  waste  of  an  edible  mushroom  [Flammulina  velutipes] containing histidine‐betaine [ergothioneine, ESH],” Encarnacion said.  Enzyme  assays,  or  tests,  showed  that  ESH‐rich  velutipes  mushroom  extract  is  an  effective  natural  alternative  to  synthetic  or  chemical  melanosis‐inhibiting  agents  to  prevent  post‐mortem  melanosis  in  crustaceans.  The  BFAR  official  also  said  that  “by  simply  immersing  live  full‐grown  black  tiger  shrimp  [Penaeus  monodon] and Pacific white shrimp [Litopenaeus vannamei] in a solution of mushroom extract for one  hour  significantly  decreased  polyphenoloxidase  activity  in  shrimp,  which  allow  for  setting  of  the  oxidation.” 

“But for my recent research, I’ve used a locally grown mushroom, and found it as effective not only to  fish and crustacean but to fresh meat, as well, in room temperature,” Encarnacion said.  Encarnacion declined to name the locally grown mushroom variety he used and the actual formulation  and saturation of the extract to water, pending his application for patent, but added that, at this early,  he was already helping a group of farmers in Cagayan Valley.‐commodities/30943‐mushroom‐ extract‐prolongs‐shrimp‐shelf‐life‐bfar                                

PhilRice’s info campaign creates significant impact in rural villages Category: Agri‐Commodities   22 Apr 2014   Written by PNA   SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ, Nueva Ecija—The campaign of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice)  that mobilizes the youth to be agriculture infomediaries is creating a big impact in the rural areas.  Dubbed  “Sagot  Ko  ang  Magulang  Ko,”  the  campaign,  which  was  launched  in  December  2012,  is  now  being implemented in more than 70 technical‐vocational schools nationwide.  The campaign engages high‐school students in learning rice farming‐related topics and using the Pinoy  Rice Knowledge Bank, a web site that contains most information on rice farming in the Philippines, and  the PhilRice Farmers’ Text Center, a platform that answers queries on rice production.  Jayson  C.  Berto,  campaign  research  assistant,  said  the  infomediaries  in  Cagayan,  Ilocos  Norte,  Aklan,  Albay,  Sarangani,  Eastern  Samar  and  Zamboanga  del  Norte  have  helped  establish  their  school’s  rice  garden, accessed online and mobile information sources, and published rice technologies in their school  publications.  The  parents  of  the  youth  said  they  frequently  request  their  children  to  seek  rice‐farming  recommendations  by  texting  the  PhilRice  Text  Center,  reading  PhilRice  information  materials  and  searching the Internet. Parents said their children’s training as infomediaries strengthened the students’  credibility in sharing information.  “Almost  all  of  the  parents  believe  in  the  information  imparted  by  their  children  because  they  were  trained, and that they are also good in class,” Berto said.  He said some parents also challenged their children to recommend technologies as they are taking an  agriculture course. He said the survey team also found that students published PhilRice technologies in  their school publications for their parents, relatives and the farming communities to read.  Campaign  activities,  such  as  field  days,  a  quiz  bee  and  site  visitations,  were  also  written  in  the  school  newspapers, he said.  PNA‐commodities/30942‐philrice‐s‐info‐ campaign‐creates‐significant‐impact‐in‐rural‐villages 

DA turns over P7.2-M farm infra projects, eqp’t to Tawi Tawi town By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 23, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture (DA) has turned over to a municipality in Tawi Tawi P7.2 million worth of farm infrastructure projects and equipment. Turned over recently to Panglima Sugala mayor Regie Sahali-Generale are a one-kilometer farmto- market road, a new trading station, as well as eight units of cassava graters. The new farm-to-market road connects Barangay Thumbhill to Sitio Siola that covers 250 hectares of growing areas for bananas, cassava, coconut, and rice. The trading post, meanwhile, is in Barangay Batu-Batu where it now serves as the main marketplace in the entire municipality. The eight units of cassava grater and pressers were distributed to various farmer associations (FA). These are: Interior Magsaggao FA and Upper Magsaggao FA in Barangay Magsaggao; Kabbun Jati FA in Barangay Sumangday; Thumbhill FA in Barangay Thumbhill; Batu-Batu FA in Barangay Batu-Batu; Kulape Kasanyangan FA, Kulape Karayawan FA and Kasambuhan FA in Barangay Kulape. The projects are funded under the DA’s Support to Emergency Livelihood Assistance Project (SELAP) program. The local government of Panglima Sugala provided a counterpart fund of around P700,000 for the projects. SELAP is a special project of the DA funded by a US loan under United States Public Law 480. The program aims to accelerate rural development in Mindanao. Its components are: rural infrastructure development, livelihood assistance, capability building and program management. “The FMR (farm-to-market road) will allow the farmers to bring their agri-products to the market much faster and with less crop damage. This road would also allow the entry of basic services to the area such as health support, education, including eco-tourism opportunities. I am thankful, the people of Panglima Sugala are all grateful for these projects. We will take care of these projects to last a long time,” said Sahali-Generale.‐turns‐over‐p7.2‐m‐farm‐infra‐projects‐ eqpt‐tawi‐tawi‐town   

Increased awareness on climate change pushed By Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 23, 2014 - 12:00am 0 8 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) yesterday urged the public to raise awareness on climate change as part of celebrations for Earth Day. The DENR said that forests now cover 24 percent of the country’s land area, the second lowest in Southeast Asia. “To stop the depletion of our forests, President Aquino has imposed a logging ban nationwide – the first in our history,” said DENR Undersecretary for Field Operations Demetrio Ignacio Jr., who delivered the “State of the Environment Report” on behalf of Environment Secretary Ramon Paje. Paje is in The Hague, Netherlands attending the “Global Ocean Action Summit for Food Security.” The government has initiated the National Greening Program, which aims to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares within six years. “For the past three years, we have planted more than 683,000 hectares with 400 million trees. This is equivalent to what we have planted in the last 23 years. This year, our target is to plant 200 million trees in 400,000 hectares. By the end of 2014, we would have planted more than one million hectares with trees,” Ignacio said. He said the program boosts climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation efforts of the government. “We need to strengthen our adaptation measures and contribute more to climate change mitigation. To do these, we need to unify and redouble our efforts. We have been successful in making our people aware of the environment. We need to translate this high level of awareness into actions,” Ignacio said. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and MyShelter Foundation marked Earth Day by lighting a footbridge along Quezon Avenue in Quezon City using solar-powered lamps. TESDA director general Joel Villanueva said the 34 solar powered lamps would help make the footbridge, located near the Quezon City Parks and Wildlife area, safe for pedestrians.

“With the help of MMDA, this is TESDA’s contribution to the environment on Earth Day,” he said. The MMDA said that other footbridges in the metropolis will be installed with solar street lamps. In Bulacan, electric-powered vehicles highlighted yesterday’s observance of Earth Day. A 13-seat e-jeepney that can run up to 70 kilometers was launched by the Philippine Utility Vehicle Inc. to help protect the environment from pollution. The Philippines is an active participant of the Earth Day projects for 2014 to give due recognition to the almost 20 million Filipinos suffering from lack of access to electricity. – With Mike Frialde, Dino Balabo‐awareness‐climate‐change‐pushed                               

Angat water‐level countdown Category: Opinion   22 Apr 2014   Written by Butch del Castillo  

Conclusion  THE trouble with cloud‐seeding, however, is that, apart from the fact that each sortie is quite expensive,  its success is never a sure thing.  In the first place, there must be enough cumulus clouds hovering over the dam to “seed.” And second,  assuming that there are enough such clouds, the rains that are induced might not fall directly into the  dam, as intended.  The  chances  of  success  of  cloud‐seeding  operations  are  really  not  much  better  than  the  olden  superstitious ways of inducing rain, such as Cherokee rain dances and similar summer dragon rituals in  Japan. Which tells us that the government might as well employ some tribal Medicine Man or rainmaker  to regulate the heavenly water supply.  But seriously, the big question now is what happens if the rainy season this year does not come on time,  as government authorities are fervently hoping? I wouldn’t be surprised if officials of the National Water  Resources  Board,  the  Metropolitan  Waterworks  and  Sewerage  System  (MWSS),  the  National  Power  Corp. and the National Irrigation Administration are jointly praying for the timely end of the current dry  spell.  (That miracle could be either of the two low‐pressure areas spotted only the other day by the Philippine  Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration. One of them was nearing Surigao  City and was forecast to bring cloudy skies and thunderstorms over Eastern Visayas. But unfortunately,  that’s too far away from the Angat Dam to do any good for the 14 million folk who need those water‐ bearing thunderstorms most here in Luzon.)  Assuming that the rains would be later than usual in replenishing Angat’s water reservoir, what, then, is  there left for the government to do? 

Nothing much, I guess, except to scrounge about for small pockets of water it can pump out to augment  what’s available in the dam and to appeal to the public to help in the general effort to go easy on the  use of the precious stuff.  At the height of the prolonged dry spell caused by the El Niño phenomenon in early 2010, the MWSS  resorted to the following emergency measures: 

1. 2.



Maximized the volume of water drawn from the Ipo Dam in Bulacan. This small reservoir added about 70 million liters a day (mld) to Metro Manila’s supply. Undertook massive leak-repair jobs and encouraged capital expenditures on the part of the distribution concessionaires to replace hopelessly dilapidated culverts and pipes, especially in the eastern zone of Metro Manila, which is being serviced by Maynilad, with a base of 8 million customers. This effort alone resulted in a reduction in system losses of up to 43 mld. In the entire area being supplied with MWSS-filtered water, the water pressure was reduced from the usual 16 pounds per square inch (psi) to only 12 psi. This way, the distribution of water to high- and low-level areas could be made more or less even throughout Metro Manila and the adjacent provinces. In addition, the MWSS put line boosters to work to push the water flow to the elevated areas. For the low areas, a valve system was set up to limit the flow to optimum volumes. This way, another 35 mld were effectively added to the supply. Even the “wash water” the MWSS uses to rid its filtration plant of sludge and grime that accumulate in the system was not allowed to go down the drain. It was caught and made to undergo a rigorous recycling process, thereby adding another 15 mld to the overall supply.

All of the above were meant to compensate for the huge lack of water brought about by the long dry  spell.  But  the  experience  of  Metro  Manila  and  the  adjacent  provinces  during  that  year  would  have  become much worse had the public not cooperated in the overall conservation effort.  Incidentally,  the  well‐managed  “compensation”  and  conservation  program  was  conceived  by  then‐ MWSS Administrator Jose Diosdado Allado.  E‐mail:‐2014‐04‐22‐12‐16‐10         

Private firms urged to undergo vulnerability assessment By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 23, 2014 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The Climate Change Commission (CCC) is urging the private companies to submit to vulnerability assessment to strengthen their capabilities to adapt to climate change and natural disasters. Speaking at the Pusong Luntian Eco-Forum in UP Diliman yesterday, CCC vice chair Lucille Sering encouraged the private sector to take advantage of the commission’s risk assessment tools to determine their vulnerability in their respective locations. “Based on our studies, 8 in 10 companies are affected by climate change but they don’t do anything about it,” she said. A vulnerability assessment takes into consideration an area’s stressed ecosystems, level of exposure to the effects of climate change, supply and demand of resources such as water and electricity, limiting factors for adaptation, and impact thresholds. “We need to work together to make sure that if we allow a certain industry to operate, we should also provide that sector the tools to assess vulnerability to climate change,” said Sering. She said that as a start, companies could lessen their vulnerability to climate change by gradually lessening electricity and water consumption and finding alternative sources of energy rather than the national grid. During the forum,Philex Mining Corporation signed a manifesto with non-government organization Philippine Business for Environmental Stewardship (PBEST) for the identification of “innovative” processes and solutions for the preservation of natural resources, reduction of energy use and increase of supply of green energy. These initiatives may be included in the company’s corporate social responsibility programs. Advocacies of PBEST covers the reduction of water pollution, proper ways of solid waste disposal, promotion of renewable energy use, and resource management issues in the extractive industry. The Pusong Luntian Eco-Forum hosted by Philex is a four-part series that gathers thought and action leaders from the public, private and academic sectors to discuss various environmental topics.‐firms‐urged‐undergo‐vulnerability‐ assessment 

TRO vs Meralco rate increase extended By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 23, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) yesterday extended for the second time the temporary restraining order (TRO) against Manila Electric Co. (Meralco)’s P4.15 per kilowatthour rate increase. In summer session in Baguio City, the justices voted 10-4 to grant the motion of petitioners led by Bayan Muna party-list Reps. Neri Colmenares and Isagani Zarate to extend the TRO that also expired yesterday. This time, the SC extended the halt order for an indefinite period. The high court also extended “until further orders” 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 P4.15 power hike. The TRO was first issued by the high court on Dec. 23 last year for an initial period of 60 days and extended for another 60 days last February also upon similar plea of petitioners. In their urgent motion last week, petitioners argued that not extending the TRO “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/kwh rate increase despite prima facie findings of collusion, anti-competitive behavior and abuse of market power prevailing in the market during the period questioned and despite the pendency of these consolidated cases.” 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 oral argument last Feb. 4 of power outages should it fail to collect the generation costs from customers, which it owes respondent Gencos. The petitioners insisted that Meralco’s warnings of blackouts are baseless, especially since the Department of Energy publicly announced that there is no undersupply of electricity and the supply situation during summer will not result in blackouts.

Gencos, on the other hand, continued to threaten Meralco with very high penalties, interest rates and legal actions for the delay in the payment of the generation costs that the latter has not paid them on the basis of the TRO, they added. Other petitioners in the case are Gabriela Women’s Party Reps. 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 had the Department of Energy and Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) taking the podium. The SC has already submitted the case for resolution. Meralco, the country’s top power distributor, said it respects the order of the SC extending the TRO on its December generation charge hike of P3.44 per kwh and the firm shall fully comply with the ruling, said Meralco first vice president and deputy general counsel and head of legal William Pamintuan. Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla expressed hopes that the SC would soon issue a final decision on the matter. “We respect the decision of the SC but we are also hoping that a final decision will eventually be issued so we can concentrate on moving forward,” Petilla said yesterday. The SC issued a TRO against Meralco’s December 2013 generation charge, which rose to P9.10 per kwh from only P5.67 per kwh in November. The generation charge accounts for roughly 65 percent of the total electricity bill. It is the cost of power purchased by Meralco from power generators. With the extended TRO, Meralco still cannot implement the order of power regulator ERC. The ERC earlier voided the rates at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), the trading floor for electricity, for the November 2013 and December 2013 supply months, citing market failure and instead ordered market operator Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC) to issue recalculated rates. In a press briefing last month, Meralco chief finance officer Betty Siy-Yap said based on the company’s estimates, the generation charge for the month of December will go up by P0.2715 per kwh instead of the original P3.44 per kwh. This means that generation charge for the December bill will be at P5.9388 per kwh instead of the original P9.10 per kwh. This developed as Meralco clarified that for its Interruptible Load Program (ILP), typically, a customer consuming 200 kilowatt-hours will pay an extra 52 centavos in the total monthly

electricity bill if the ILP is implemented where 10 ILP customers will de-load 10 MW for 10 hours. Under the ILP, customers with large loads, like commercial establishments, will be asked to operate their own generator sets if the grid operator projects a need to augment generation capacity in the Luzon Grid. Through this, the aggregate demand for power from the system will be reduced to a more manageable level, helping ensure the availability of supply during the season.

SC order welcomed Malacañang welcomed yesterday the decision of the SC indefinitely extending the TRO on the December 2013 rate hike of Meralco. While waiting for a final decision on the case, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said an extension of the TRO would “certainly provide comfort to our countrymen especially at this time when there is more consumption demand during summer.” Earlier, the Palace said it was expecting lower electricity rates with the ERC’s March 3 order stating that prices in the WESM during the period covering the Malampaya shutdown could not qualify as “reasonable, rational and competitive.” The ERC also made the manifestation to the SC, which issued a TRO against the high power rate hike imposed by Meralco because of the spike in WESM prices. The ERC ordered the imposition of regulated prices in lieu of the voided rates. This ruling covers Luzon WESM prices and excludes Meralco in view of the SC’s TRO. Bayan Muna also welcomed yesterday’s SC decision. “This is indeed a welcome development so that electricity consumers would not have to bear the unjust power rate hike of Meralco. We just hope that the SC will eventually declare the P4.15 rate hike void as well as the subsequent proposed increases connected to the market manipulation and collusion of power industry players,” Colmenares said. “We also hope that the Supreme Court would finally declare the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) unconstitutional so that this type of unjust rate hikes would not happen again,” he said. – With Iris Gonzales, Aurea Calica, Jess Diaz, Paolo Romero, Artemio Dumlao‐vs‐meralco‐rate‐increase‐extended     

Senators face automatic suspension By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 23, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. face automatic suspension from their posts once a plunder case is filed against them before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the pork barrel fund scam. Senate President Franklin Drilon raised this scenario when asked if the 24-member Senate would still be complete when session resumes on May 5 after the Lenten break. “I am sure the Sandiganbayan will act or will have to act on it. That’s their job. So we will just wait for the action of the ombudsman on the motion for reconsideration filed in the first week of April,” Drilon said over radio dwIZ. “That will be up to the Sandiganbayan, which has the power to issue the warrant of arrest,” he added. Drilon, a former justice secretary, noted that plunder is a non-bailable offense, which would warrant the detention of defendants even before the Sandiganbayan starts trial. He said the issue would be out of the hands of the Senate leadership since it will be the Sandiganbayan that will issue the suspension orders. Drilon cited the case of former Zambales governor Amor Deloso, where the Supreme Court ruled that public officials should be automatically suspended upon the filing of case before the Sandiganbayan. Logical move Meanwhile, Drilon welcomed the decision of lawyer Gigi Reyes, Enrile’s former chief of staff, to return to the country to defend herself over accusations of pork barrel fund misuse. “It’s a logical move. It is very difficult to hide overseas. You cannot hide all your life… It is good that she returned and decided to face the charges being leveled against her,” he said.

He said Reyes has to pass the requisites of the law if she wants to become a state witness. “Under the Rules of Court and the Witness Protection Program, being a state witness has prerequisites. First, she should be least guilty and second, her testimony can be used to convict the mastermind,” he said. “Who is the principal mastermind? Are there enough conditions so that (the mastermind) is convicted even without her?” he said, adding that it is up to the ombudsman to determine whether Reyes can be accepted as state witness. Senate hearing Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, vice-chairman of the Blue Ribbon committee, said committee chairman Sen. Teofisto Guingona III tried but failed to talk to Reyes on whether she would attend the Senate hearing on the pork barrel scam. “Under our democracy, the accused also have rights and they cannot be forced to speak before the Blue Ribbon committee,” he said. He said Reyes could be summoned to the Senate “only if additional information will be given to the committee.” He said Reyes could qualify as a state witness, but the matter is up to the Department of Justice to decide. On reports that Reyes was pinning the blame on her deputy chief of staff Jose Evangelista, Osmeña said every person is entitled to put up a defense. Napoles In a related development, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III questioned the wisdom of considering alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles as a state witness. “How could the person who put up the infrastructure for PDAF graft be qualified as state witness? Isn’t the architect of the whole scheme the most guilty hence disqualified from being state witness?” he said. “Pwede ring ginugulo na nya ang (Maybe she’s muddling the) picture out of desperation.” Sen. Grace Poe said it would be a significant development in the country’s quest to get to the bottom of the pork barrel scam if Napoles would tell all. However, Poe said it is best to let the ombudsman determine Napoles’ competence to become a state witness. – With Marvin Sy‐face‐automatic‐suspension 

Oil firms hike prices for second straight week By Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 23, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines - Oil companies raised gasoline prices again yesterday morning. In separate advisories, local petroleum players said they raised prices of gasoline and diesel products by P0.55 per liter and by P0.70 per liter for kerosene. “PTT Philippines will increase prices of both its gasoline and diesel products by P0.55 per liter effective 6 a.m. Tuesday, April 22,” said PTT Philippines, the local subsidiary of Thailand’s biggest oil company. Petron Corp., the country’s biggest oil refiner, issued a similar announcement. “Petron will implement the following price increases effective 6 a.m. April 22: P0.55 per liter for gasoline and diesel and P0.70 per liter for kerosene. This reflects movements in the international oil market,” Petron said Monday night. Chevron Philippines also said it would increase prices of gold, silver and diesel by P0.55 per liter and kerosene by P0.70 per liter. This is the second consecutive week of price hikes, reversing the rollback that local petroleum players implemented two weeks ago. Last week, oil firms raised gasoline prices by P0.60 per liter and diesel prices by P0.10 per liter. With the increase, oil prices now range anywhere from P42.55 to P45.95 for diesel and P50.65 to P56.75 per liter for gasoline, based on the Department of Energy (DOE)’s April 15 oil price monitoring report. According to the DOE report, global crude prices are on the rise amid tensions between Ukraine and Russia, which raised concerns that energy supplies to Europe could be disrupted. A halt of Russian crude through Ukraine could hugely impact oil prices as it is the world’s seventh largest crude shipper and major exporter of crude oil to Europe and Asia. “The Asian gasoil and diesel market is likely to see greater support on growing demand strength in Europe. Singapore-based traders believe that the strength is most likely linked to increasing tension around Ukraine and Russia’s situation,” the DOE said.

COA sets new rules on calamity funds, donations By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 23, 2014 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Audit (COA) issued stricter rules on the use of foreign and local aid during calamities and disasters, following public demand for more transparency and accountability in donations for victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda. In an eight-page circular issued on April 15, COA Chairman Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan and Commissioner Heidi Mendoza pushed for a more thorough accounting of disaster funds, including the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan Fund. The new accounting and reporting guidelines crafted by Tan and Mendoza detail how funding and other aid like relief goods should be recorded, itemized, utilized and returned to donors if necessary. Under the new rules, government officials – from department heads to local government units, accountants, cashiers, disbursing officers and budget officers – are directed to follow specific procedures so that government funding is efficiently used. Cash donations shall be acknowledged through official receipts, deposited in an authorized government depository bank and recorded by a designated collecting officer. Supplies, materials, equipment, relief goods and even small items procured out of cash donations shall also be properly accounted for. Tan and Mendoza also ordered all unutilized donations, after the purpose for the same has been served, to be remitted to the Bureau of Treasury or returned to the donor if such an agreement exists. When it comes to donations in kind, the new rules require stricter procedures, including proper accounting and valuation before and after repacking and distribution. “Donated goods shall be sorted, inventoried and/or counted, and recorded upon receipt and before repacking. The distribution shall be made immediately, especially the perishable goods and/or items,” the COA circular prescribes. As to reporting, national and local government agencies and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) shall make monthly reports to respective COA auditors. The new rules also require donation recipients, implementing agencies, the OCD and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to post the reports on their official websites for the public to see.‐sets‐new‐rules‐calamity‐funds‐donations 

Jobless count seen to rise to 3.66 million Category: Economy   22 Apr 2014   Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga   Former  National  Treasurer  Leonor  Magtolis‐Briones  said  the  government  faces  the  challenge  of  job  creation,  as  this  year’s  college  graduates  face  the  difficult  task  of  landing  on  stable  jobs  because  of  structural problems in government policies and Philippine society.  Hence, job creation should be the challenge for the Aquino administration, said Briones, lead convener  of Social Watch Philippines.  A professor emeritus of the National College of Public Administration and Governance of the University  of the Philippines Diliman, Briones said the problem of job creation is very complex and goes back to the  government’s economic and social policies, which only increase the gross domestic product, but do not  create jobs; government regulations, which block creativity and innovation in business and government;  the educational system and the kind of courses, as well as the quality of training.  Briones  added  that  the  problem  goes  back  to  chronic  poverty,  which  pushes  desperate  parents  and  students to substandard schools with low academic standards.  Citing  government  data,  she  said  the  country’s  labor  force  for  2014  totals  39.6  million  Filipinos,  with  2.96  million  currently  unemployed.  With  the  Trade  Union  Congress  of  the  Philippines’s  estimate  that  around  700,000  graduates  will  join  the  work  force  this  year,  around  3.66  million  Filipinos  will  be  unemployed and looking for work this year, Briones said.  She expressed doubt that the Philippines’s economy can raise nearly 4 million jobs.  According to Briones, out of those who are employed, only around 23 percent to 25 percent are in the  formal sector, while 75 percent to 77 percent  are in the informal sector.  Briones added that those in the informal sector are not protected by laws on security of tenure, decent  wages, and health and educational benefits.  She said 7 million of those who are employed are actually underemployed, which means that they are  also seeking full‐time jobs.  “The employment situation in the Philippines is bleak. A lot of the graduates this year may land jobs in  the  informal  sector,  or  they  might  go  abroad  to  work  where  most  jobs  are  for  low‐skill  workers,  like 

house help, drivers and utility workers. As we all know, working abroad carries tremendous social costs,”  Briones said.  Citing a World Bank Philippines development report, Briones said around 200,000 of those unemployed  in the Philippines seek jobs abroad.  Other  barriers  for  graduates  seeking  immediate  employment  in  the  formal  sector  are  the  costs  of  licensure examinations, with the fees and review classes being too costly for many fresh graduates.  While she said students with courses that are high in demand and those who come from top universities  will have an easier time landing jobs since many companies seek these individuals out even before they  graduate, these companies can only absorb a small portion of the graduates and cannot make a dent on  the huge inventory of unemployed and underemployed.‐jobless‐count‐seen‐to‐rise‐to‐3‐66‐ million                             

Illegal logging 'hotspots' reduced by 84 pct: official ( | Updated April 22, 2014 - 10:30pm 0 1 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - The number of illegal logging "hotspots" in the Philippines has been significantly reduced and the national government is eyeing to increase the forest cover to 30 percent of the country's land area by 2016, a senior government official said here today. Demetrio Ignacio, undersecretary of the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), made the remarks as the country joined the world in the Earth Day celebration. He said the number of illegal logging hotspots nationwide was cut by 84 percent, from 197 municipalities to 31 municipalities. "We believe that the logging ban and intensified enforcement have been able to significantly deter illegal logging," he said. In order to stop the depletion of the Philippine forests, President Benigno S. Aquino III has imposed a logging ban in all natural forests nationwide. With the intensified enforcement, Ignacio said, the DENR was able to apprehend and confiscate 25.5 million board feet of illegally-cut and processed forest products and filed 1,233 cases in courts, with 186 persons convicted. Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 He also said that with the National Greening Program, where the government intends to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares in six years, the Aquino administration has already planted more than 683,000 hectares with roughly 400 million trees over the past three years. By the end of the program, he said, the Philippine government " would have reversed our forest situation whereby we will then have more forest areas than degraded areas and will increase our forest cover from 24 percent to 30 percent of our land area."‐logging‐hotspots‐reduced‐84‐pct‐ official     

Climate Change Commission prods private sector to undergo disaster preparedness review Category: Regions   22 Apr 2014   Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga  

THE Climate Change Commission (CCC) on Monday urged  the  private  sector  to  volunteer  for  vulnerability  assessment  to  strengthen  capabilities  for  disaster  preparedness, as well as that of the communities where they operate in the face of the worst impacts of  climate change.  The call was made by CCC Vice Chairman Lucille N. Sering during the Pusong Luntian Eco‐Forum held at  the University of the Philippines Diliman campus.  The Pusong Luntian Eco‐Forum is aimed at getting the ideas of action leaders from the public, private  and academic sectors on various environmental topics.  Organized by Philex Mining Corp., the forum is designed to find ways on how the various stakeholders,  particularly the private sector, can be more prepared and share their learnings to the general public.  “After Supertyphoon Yolanda, the focus has sifted from the debate on whether climate change is real or  not  to  how  we  can  survive  its  ravaging  effects,”  Michael  T.  Toledo,  Philex  senior  vice  president  for  corporate affairs, said.  Sering  said  the  climate‐change  body  will  assist  the  private  sector  in  finding  out  how  vulnerable  the  ecosystems in their respective areas are to the effects of climate change. She said tools for vulnerability  are  now  available  and  the  private  sector  should  bear  in  mind  potential  adverse  impacts  of  climate  change. 

A vulnerability assessment takes into consideration an area’s stressed ecosystems, level of exposure to  the  effects  of  climate  change,  supply  and  demand  of  resources,  such  as  water  and  electricity,  limiting  factors for adaptation, and impact thresholds.  “We have to understand each other, that is the reason we are here,” Sering said.  “We need to work together to make sure that if we allow a certain industry to operate, it should also  provide that sector the tools to assess vulnerability to climate change.”  For  his  part,  United  Nationalist  Alliance  Rep.  Amado  Bagatsing  of  Manila,  chairman  of  the  House  Committee  on  Ecology,  appealed  to  the  private  sector  to  share  its  pool  of  scientists  and  experts  in  identifying priority reforms that they can work on to address the complex issues of climate change.  Carlos  Primo  David,  convener  of    Philippine  Business  for  Environtal  Stewardship  (PBEST),  showed  the  direct  relationship  of  extreme  climate  to  the  country’s  gross  domestic  product  and  illustrated  how  adequate  planning  and  strict  implementation  of  sound  policies  in  land  use  will  positively  impact  the  economy by minimizing losses in human and infrastructure assets.  During  the  forum,  a  manifesto  formalizing  the  partnership  between  Philex  Mining  and  PBEST  for  environmental advocacy was signed by Toledo and Lysander Castillo, secretary‐general of PBEST.  Data gathered during the discussions will be collected and made available to the public to aid concerned  groups, individuals and families prepare for climate change‐induced natural disasters.   

In Photo: Members of a multisector group composed of officials and representatives of the government and private sector gesture to stop a symbolic climate-change clock to delay the devastating effects of climate change at the Pusong Luntian Eco-Forum at the Toyota Center in Diliman, Quezon City, on Monday. Photo shows (from left) lawyer Michael Toledo, senior vice president for corporate affairs of Philex Mining Corp.; Secretary Lucille Sering, vice chairman of the Climate Change Commission; Rep. Amado Bagatsing of the Fifth District of Manila; Carmelita Passe, Environment Management Bureau media specialist and lawyer Lysander Castillo, secretary-general of Philippine Business for Environmental Stewardship. (Stephanie Tumampos)‐ccc‐prods‐private‐sector‐to‐undergo‐ disaster‐preparedness‐review       

Bill seeking to establish ‘Negosyo centers’ filed in Congress Category: Entrepreneur   22 Apr 2014   Written by Jovee Marie N. Dela Cruz   A  measure  that  would  strengthen  the  sector  of  micro,  small  and  medium  enterprises  (MSMEs),  which  plays  an  important  socioeconomic  role  in  the  nation’s  machinery,  has  been  filed  at  the  House  of  Representatives.  House  Bill  4015,  filed  by  Liberal  Party  Rep.  Winston  Castelo  of  Quezon  City,  seeks  to  promote  more  participation from the private sector in the MSME Development (MSMED) Council.  Under  the  measure,  to  be  known  as  the  “Go  Negosyo  Act  of  2014,”  a  “Negosyo  Center”  shall  be  established in all provinces, cities and municipalities under the supervision of the MSMED Council.  The  bill  said  the  MSMED  Council  shall  ensure  inter‐agency  coordination,  local  government  unit  (LGU)  participation and public‐private partnerships in the establishment and management of Negosyo Centers.  It  shall  perform  oversight  functions  and  shall  assign  personnel  to  fulfill  the  functions  of  the  Negosyo  Centers.  It added that the Negosyo Centers shall be responsible for promoting ease of doing business and access  to  services  for  MSMEs  within  their  jurisdictions.  They  shall  accept  and  facilitate  all  registration  applications for MSMEs, integrate a unified business‐process system, encourage government institutions  that  are  related  to  the  business‐application  process  and  supply  information  and  services  in  training,  financing and marketing.  A  unified  and  simplified  business‐registration  form  shall  be  created  by  the  Department  of  Trade  and  Industry and shall be made available in all Negosyo Centers, the measure provides.  The bill also provides a Start‐up Fund for MSMEs to be sourced from the MSME Development Fund and  Barangay  Micro  Business  Enterprises  to  provide  financing  for  the  development  and  promotion  of  MSMEs in priority sectors of the economy.  The MSMED Council shall be composed of the secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Trade and  Industry, Environment and Natural Resources, Interior and Local Government, Science and Technology  and  Tourism;  director  general  of  the  National  Economic  and  Development  Authority,  governor  of  the  Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, chairman of the Small Business Corp., three representatives from the MSME 

sector, one from the labor sector and the chairmen of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and  Entrepreneurship and the House Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development.  The  bill  also  mandates  the  Philippine  Information  Agency,  through  the  office  of  Public  Information  in  each  city  or  municipality,  and  in  coordination  with  the  concerned  departments,  to  ensure  the  proper  and adequate information dissemination of the contents and benefits of this Act to the general public.   “Providing  the  MSME  sector  with  better  incentives  and  benefits,  granting  more  access  to  focused  support for enhanced business performance, promoting support to key growth industries and facilitating  financing  support  programs  that  are  much‐needed  for  growth  will  strengthen  this  sector,”  Castelo,  in  filing the bill, said.  Castelo added the bill has the potential to assist MSMEs to integrate themselves in the formal economic  sector, which will bring forth more job opportunities and enhance the growth of the nation’s economy.‐bill‐seeking‐to‐ establish‐negosyo‐centers‐filed‐in‐congress                             

Fundamental support enough to keep peso stable – BSP By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 23, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The external payments position and sound macroeconomic fundamentals will continue to support the peso despite a balance of payments deficit recorded in the first quarter, a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas official said. “There will always be volatility in markets and at some point, the peso will reflect these volatilities but there is fundamental support to the peso,” central bank Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo told reporters yesterday. “Basically, it’s the fact that we expect the external payments position to remain favorable for the rest of 2014,” Guinigundo added. The peso weakened yesterday, shedding 11 centavos to close at 44.535:$1 from its 44.425 to $1 finish on Monday. Earlier this year, the peso traded on the 45:$1 band as the US Federal Reserve’s tapering of stimulus prompted investors and central banks across the world to rebalance their portfolios, causing sell-offs in a lot of markets especially those in emerging economies. Net outflows from foreign portfolio investments amid sustained uncertainty due to the Fed’s policy actions primarily caused the country’s BOP deficit of $4.471 billion in the first three months of the year, a reversal of the $1.537-billion surplus in the same period in 2013. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

These capital outflows have been reflected in the depreciation of the peso, the BSP has noted, although the local unit has been recovering lately as investments have been finding their way once again to the economy. “We’ve seen how capital outflows have accelerated in the latter part of 2013 and continued on in the first months of 2014,” Guinigundo said. “But I guess as we continue to strengthen our macroeconomy and we continue to see recovery in the advanced economies particularly in the US, the market sentiment that drove capital outflows during that period will likely be moderated and hopefully reversed for the rest of 2014,” he said. “What was lost in terms of peso depreciation in 2013 has been moderated so far in the recent movement of the peso,” Guinigundo said. The central bank still expects the BOP position to settle at a surplus of $3 billion by year-end, despite being below last year’s $5-billion surplus. “We are expecting a BOP surplus in 2014. and this is on the basis of continued growth in exports of about six percent, remittances of about five percent, and as tourist receipts and BPOs (business process outsourcing sector) are expected to be robust,” Guinigundo said. BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. on Monday said the central bank will continue to maintain a “strategic presence” in the foreign exchange market in order to curb any excessive volatility in the peso-dollar trading. The government expects the peso to average between 41:$1 and 44:$1 this year until 2016. The peso in 2013 depreciated by 7.35 percent against the dollar, while its volatility– or the magnitude of its fluctuations-settled at 3.24 percent.‐support‐enough‐keep‐peso‐ stable‐bsp               

DOTC to formalize Trinoma as MRT-LRT common station By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 23, 2014 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus0 1 MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is set to formalize the location of the common station for the Metro Rail Transit line 3 (MRT3) and Light Rail Transit line 1 (LRT1) at the Trinoma Mall in Quezon City. DOTC undersecretary Rene Limcaoco said the agency would issue a bid bulletin naming the Trinoma Mall owned by property giant Ayala Land Inc. as the site of the proposed P1.4 billion common station. “We’re going to announce it in an special bid bulletin, but it’s most probably in Trinoma,” Limcaoco said. Earlier, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the government could save as much as P1 billion if the MRT-LRT common station is constructed near the Trinoma Mall instead of the earlier planned SM City North Edsa. “Primarily, the cost, it’s a billion less,” Limcaoco replied when asked why the agency picked the Trinoma Mall over the SM City North Edsa. It would be recalled that the DOTC originally picked SM North Edsa as the site of the proposed common station but later revised the plan and transferred the site near Trinoma. Mall giant SM Prime Holdings Inc. of retail magnate Henry Sy already paid P200 million to state-run Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) for the naming rights of the common station. SM Prime could keep its naming rights despite the transfer of the station to Trinoma. The DOTC is looking at completing the bidding and awarding of the contract for the project within the first half of the year so that construction would start in the third quarter. The DOTC hopes to complete the proposed common station by the third quarter of 2015. The project would involve a turn-back system between the SM North Edsa and Trinoma malls to serve as an area where trains would maneuver to change directions. The station would serve as a common platform to interconnect LRT1 that runs from Baclaran to Monumento, the MRT 3 that traverses EDSA from North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay City, and the proposed MRT7 of diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. that would

run from Caloocan City and pass through Lagro and Fairview, Novaliches, Batasan, Diliman, Philcoa, before ending at Edsa. The proposed common station was one of the seven major infrastructure projects worth P184.2 billion approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board chair by President Aquino last Nov. 21.‐formalize‐trinoma‐mrt‐lrt‐common‐ station                                       

Zambales townsfolk demand resignation of mining officials Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:00 am | Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 STA. CRUZ, Zambales—Carrying banners bearing antimining messages, at least 300 residents demanded the cancellation of all mining permits here and the resignation of mining and environment officials in the region during a rally on Tuesday. “We want these mining activities to compensate the people for the damage they have done, particularly to the environment and their livelihood,” said Jo Ignacio, coordinator and convenor of Defender of the Environment for Genuine Development of Zambales. The protesters, who held a motorcade around the town, called on Lormelyn Claudio, regional director of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), and Danilo Uykieng, regional director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, to step down, accusing them of protecting the mining companies. They visited the offices of four mining companies that produce nickel laterite (soil layer rich in iron oxide) to express their concerns before staging a rally in front of the municipal hall. Dr. Benito Molino, chair of Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz, Zambales, urged Claudio and Uykieng to assess the operations of all the mining firms “to restore our ruined environment and compensate all the damage.” “They have to decide for the best interest of the people and the environment of Sta. Cruz and the nearby town of Candelaria,” Molino said.

In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Claudio said it hurt her to learn about the call for her resignation. “It’s unfair. I’m doing my job and records will show that I’ve been instrumental in ensuring that these mining companies meet our conditions,” she said. Claudio said she would continue to carry out her tasks despite the criticisms. The Inquirer tried but failed to reach Uykieng for comment on Tuesday. In a text message, Karlo Flores, pollution control officer of Eramen Minerals Inc., one of the mining firms, said the protesters had not raised new issues during the rally. They were bringing up “a rehash of old issues already addressed by the mining companies,” Flores said.

He reported that some 2,000 members of Coalition of Mining Workers, Families and Community also held a rally on Tuesday to support responsible mining in Zambales. Allan Macatuno, Inquirer Central Luzon

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Interagency panel formed to combat spread of antimicrobial resistance by Genalyn Kabiling  April 22, 2014  

Manila, Philippines — An inter-agency committee has been created to formulate and implement the government’s comprehensive master plan to combat antimicrobial resistance in the country. In Administrative Order No. 42, President Aquino designated the Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Agriculture (DA) to serve as co-chairs of the new committee. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of a microorganism to withstand antibiotics and other life-saving medicines to which it was originally sensitive. The creation of the new government body came after World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organization on Animal Health identified AMR as a global threat to humans and animals amid concerns that some standard treatments have become ineffective and infections persist. Among the serious health and economic consequences posed by AMR are increased mortality, prolonged illness, increased cost of health care, and adverse impact on trade and foreign affairs. “There is a need to ensure efficient government response to control AMR through the formulation, adoption, and implementation of a comprehensive national plan that would integrate, coordinate, and develop sustainable and collaborative systems and mechanisms to combat AMR in the Philippines,” the administrative order read. “The creation of an inter-agency committee to formulate and implement the plan can rationalize, harmonize, streamline, integrate, and unify the efforts of government agencies to address the AMR problem,” it added. Members of the new inter-agency committee are the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).‐panel‐formed‐to‐combat‐spread‐of‐antimicrobial‐resistance/         

Protect marine resources, says Legarda by Mario Casayuran  April 22, 2014 (updated)  

Senator Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Senate climate change committee, on Tuesday renewed her call for the protection of the marine diversity and the preservation of the ecosystems in the country. Legarda made the call as the world celebrates the Earth Day today (Tuesday, April 22). She stressed that the Philippines is one of the 17 megadiverse countries, home to majority of Earth’s species. ”Unfortunately, we are also one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspots, with a large number of species that are endangered or threatened with extinction,” she said. “The Philippines also has one of the world’s richest marine ecosystems, characterized by extensive coral reefs, sea-grass beds and dense mangroves. But despite this richness in marine resources, about 3.9 million families still experienced hunger in the last quarter of 2013 and many of those living in coastal communities remain poor with four of 10 coastal residents living under poverty line,” she added. Legarda then asked Filipinos to work together to help revive the country’s ailing environment. “Let us turn away from extractive and consumptive way of living and strive to make a positive impact on our natural resources—may it be by saving on fuel, energy and water consumption, recycling, proper solid waste management or growing trees,” she said. “We must put an end to the exploitation and exportation of corals as well as the fishing and taking of any rare, threatened and endangered species. Our fishermen should stop the use of fine mesh net, explosives and other poisonous substance in our seas,” she said. “We celebrate Earth Day every year on April 22 and we are reminded to nurture our planet which abundantly provides us with the resources we need to survive. We are encouraged to strengthen our commitment to save the Earth and contribute to the sustainability of our nation.”‐marine‐resources‐says‐legarda/         

Mechanized farming needed – Marcos by Mario Casayuran  April 22, 2014  

Manila, Philippines — Sen. Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., a member of the Senate agriculture committee, said yesterday mechanized farming is the key to competing well with neighboring countries in the world market. This competition to be faced by Filipino farmers would be felt when the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Free Trade Agreement is to be implemented next year when all tariffs on agricultural products of ASEAN member countries would be removed. Marcos allayed fears expressed by farmers that machines would displace them if these are introduced as tools and equipment in the agricultural sector for the country to attain full farming modernization.

Fair trade, competition law sought by PCCI in road to ASEAN integration by 2015 By Amy R. Remo Philippine Daily Inquirer 7:29 pm | Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

PHOTO from MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the country’s largest business organization, has warned anew that the country would be left at a disadvantage if Congress fails to enact a competition law that would prevent unfair trade practices. “The economy needs a competition law to upgrade the country’s competitiveness and maximize the benefits of integrating the economy with those of other ASEAN economies by 2015. If we give our neighbors a difficult time to do business here, they will also give us a hard time accessing the ASEAN market of 600 million consumers,” said PCCI president Alfredo M. Yao. In a statement, Yao expressed hope that the 16th Congress would give top priority to approving the pending competition bills as “time is running out.” Yao stressed that the proposed competition law, expected to prevent anti-competitive business practices, abuse of market power and anti-competitive mergers, would promote a more open environment for investments, innovation and pricing. It is also seen to level the playing field for new entrants and current investors wishing to expand or diversify their investments in the domestic market. “A competition law would be a landmark legislation whose significance to the economy would be underscored once the Asean Economic Community (AEC) and other economic partnership agreements come into play,” he added. ‘

The AEC, which will be established by 2015, will transform the 10 member states of the Asean into a single market and production base. This presents dynamic competition and vast opportunities with the free flow of goods, services, skilled labor, investments and capital. The PCCI has quoted former economic planning secretary Cielito Habito as saying that certain restrictive business practices have given rise to the need for a competition law. In a seminar-workshop on competition policy and law organized for legislative staff by the PCCI, the USAID-TRADE (Trade Related Assistance for Development), the House committee on trade and industry and the Senate committee on trade, commerce and entrepreneurship, Habito reportedly cited how small retailers have been threatened at being cut off from supply deliveries by giant manufacturers if the stores continued to sell soap produced by livelihood producers. PCCI said that certain malls would limit the sites for competing ATM brands in their premises, while micro, small and medium enterprises have been discouraged by big banks from borrowing. Farmers are penalized by high shipping costs because of the lack of competition in the shipping industry, according to the PCCI.

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Cooperatives’ role in dev’t cited by Mario Casayuran  April 22, 2014  

Manila, Philippines — A lady lawmaker yesterday asked the Filipino people to engage in cooperativism, citing its productive value and its role in socio-economic development. “A cooperative serves as a bridge so that everybody can join the process of societal change and development. Forego the unproductive dole-out mentality,” Sen. Cynthia A. Villar, Chairperson of the Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises, said in a speech during the 37th Anniversary of Baclaran Vendors Development Cooperative. Citing inclusive growth as a buzzword, Villar expressed the belief that cooperatives would play a role in bringing the benefit of the country’s economic growth to the grassroots level. Villar acknowledged that cooperatives could also help to extend financing to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). She noted that more than 90 percent of businesses in the country are SMEs and cooperatives. She reminded supporters of the cooperative industry to increase their membership to help more people and for cooperatives to expand and develop. She said that giving recognition and honoring the best cooperatives is a way of encouraging them to exert their best efforts. “My husband, former Senate President Manuel Villar, and myself believe that SMEs and cooperatives are key to get poor Filipinos out of poverty,” Villar said. She was the principal author of Republic Act 9178 or the Magna Carta for Micro Enterprises, during her stint as congresswoman of Las Piñas City. Villar urged cooperatives to promote self-reliance and to harness people power. “Cooperatives operate for surplus to enhance the benefits for members, which will be beneficial to the community at large because of increased purchasing power that can trigger increased economic activity and spur development,” she stressed. The same goal of cooperativism, Villar cited, had inspired her to develop livelihood enterprises. To allow the benefits of cooperatives to directly trickle down to beneficiaries, Villar said she made them “barangay-based or community enterprises.”‐role‐in‐devt‐cited/       

Manggahan Fest beckons travelers to Guimaras   April 22, 2014  

Guimaras Island – On ordinary days, the island province of Guimaras in Western Visayas is like any typical unspoiled rural landscape in the country – modest, carefree and idyllic, albeit with a captivating pastoral charm. But with the onset of summer, the province is a beehive of activities and shifts into a frenzied, jovial and festive mood with the unveiling of the 21st Manggahan Festival and the province’s 22nd Foundation Day activities. A time-honored tradition closely followed by local folks and even tourists from neighboring provinces and abroad, the festival is the most ambitious and colorful event held annually in the province in the past two decades. Guimaras showcases, aside from its carabao mango which is acclaimed as the world’s sweetest variety, a rich cultural heritage, exceptional land-and-sea scenery, making this island province in Western Visayas an emerging top tourist destination in the country. This year’s Manggahan Festival celebration has some additional features, but it is basically a reprise of cultural, sports, agri-tourism, culinary and entertainment events that have been drawing people to the island since it was first started 20 years ago. The festival, led by Gov. Samuel T. Gumarin, MD, officially started last Monday, April 21, 2014 with the Manggahan Cultural Street Dancing Competition firing the opening salvo and will culminate on May 22. Among the highlights of the month-long festival which have been top crowd drawers over the years are the Agri-Trade & Tourism Fair, the Mango-Eat-All-You-Can Contest, Tourism-Related Industry Groups’ Night, Mutya ng Guimaras Coronation Night, Manggahan Festival Cultural Competion, Food Festival, Manggahan Culinary Arts Competition, Guimaras Anniversary Parade, and this year’s 22nd Guimaras Provincehood Anniversary Program. A sportsfest component is included in the festival. It will feature, among others, a BMX Biker’s Competition, Motocross Competition on April 26; Pamunit Sa Suba sang Sibunag on May 3; the 1st Governor Gumarin’s Cup – Tour de Guimaras on May ; Dalagan sa Uma para sa Agrikultura on May; a Motocross Competition on May 10; Arnis Competition on May 14-15; the 1st Governor’s Cup National Shooting Competition on May 16-18; Sikaran sa Jordan – Bike Competition on May 17; Bakbakan sa Jordan-Airsoft Competition on May 17-18; and the Guimaras Taekwondo Competition on May 19. Earlier, pre-festival events held on the island included a grand caravan, launch of the Manggahan sa Kabanwahanan program, the 3rd Mango Man Triathlon, 8K and 16K Mango Run on April 13, and the Guimaras Photo Contest which ran from April 13-27.

First held on May 22, 1993 to commemorate Guimaras’ first anniversary as a full-pledged province, the festival is spearheaded by the Governor’s Office in cooperation with the Provincial Planning and Development Office and the Provincial Tourism Office.‐fest‐beckons‐travelers‐to‐guimaras/                                             

Rizal Microbank’s lending receives support from IFC By Doris C. Dumlao, Riza Olchondra Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:00 am | Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 International Finance Corp., the private sector funding arm of the World Bank group, will team up with Davao-based Rizal Microbank to boost lending to small farmers with the goal of creating jobs and reducing poverty in Mindanao. Rizal Microbank is a thrift bank owned by Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. where IFC, in turn, has invested $150 million in equity to help increase lending to small and medium enterprises, including those headed by women entrepreneurs. “IFC will be working with Rizal Microbank to gain a better understanding of the financing need, repayment capacity, and risk profile of agricultural value-chain players so that the appropriate financial services can be offered to them,” said IFC resident representative Jesse Ang in a press statement. “This will improve access to credit in the farming sector, where financing is very limited, and help create more jobs and lift people out of poverty,” he said. Under the arrangement, IFC will advise Rizal Microbank on better understanding the financing needs and risk profiles of agricultural suppliers, traders, and service providers with the aim of expanding lending to farmers. Rizal Microbank has so far disbursed 12,000 loans amounting to more than P1 billion to clients including dealers of seeds, fertilizers, machinery and agrichemicals, farm produce traders and processors, and postharvest facility providers, in Mindanao and southern Luzon in its four years of operation, with loans ranging from P50,000 to P1 million.

IFC plans to help Rizal Microbank improve its capacity and risk management to make quicker and better decisions in approving loans for agricultural suppliers, traders and service providers. The bank will later explore lending directly to farmers after gaining a better understanding of the risks involved. Maria Lourdes Pineda, president of Rizal Microbank, said: “IFC’s technical know-how will accelerate our efforts in increasing lending to agricultural players such as suppliers, traders, processors, and postharvest facility providers. Most of them are small enterprises.” “Our bank sees great potential in Mindanao’s agricultural sector, which contributes significantly to the country’s total agricultural output,” she said.

IFC’s agrifinance program focuses on raising the declining productivity of farms, which comprise a third of the country’s usable land and where one in three employed Filipinos earn a living. Since banks usually allot only 5 percent of their total loans to agriculture, this program, which is supported by funding from Canada, aims to improve access to credit for farmers. Mindanao is considered the Philippines’ food basket, particularly in terms of rice, corn, coconut, coffee, fruits, vegetables and fisheries products. The entire island contributes significantly to the corn feed, livestock, and poultry subsectors, which increase the gross value of the economy by 37 percent. The Philippine agribusiness sector employed a third of the country’s workforce, or around 13 million people but contributed only 11 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2012. Agribusiness growth declined to 2.9 percent in 2012 from 4.9 percent in 2007, causing three times more families to join the ranks of the poor in the farming sector as compared with other sectors.

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Mindanao Newsbits for April 23, 2014   April 22, 2014  

Earth Day Event Butuan City- The Region 13 office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-13) led by Regional Technical Director Ronilo Salac, along with the dozens of “joborder” workers, bagged thousands seeds of premium and dipterocarp species at Clonal Nursery Center in Barangay Buod to replenish the 30,000 seedlings used in the replanting activities of Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office. This was in line with the Earth Day celebration, under the theme “Earth Day every day, everywhere, for everyone” yesterday, April 22. Also for the celebration of Earth Day, DENR-13 Director Nonito M. Tamayo led the tree planting ceremony of thousands of tree seedlings at the DENR Wildlife Rescue Center in Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte. Other tree planting activities were also conducted in different places in Agusan del Sur and Surigao City. (MIKE U. CRISMUNDO) Infra Projects Cagayan De Oro City – The Region 10 office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH-10) submitted to City Council Committee on Public Works Chairman Alden Bacal the list of projects being implemented in the city as of March 2014. The list, submitted by Assistant Regional Director Efren Berba, includes paved-to-paved access road leading to Dao Heritage Tree and Mapawa Nature Park in Cugman; gravel-to-paved construction of coastal road, including road right-of-way; road-opening construction of coastal road; construction of flood control works (flood wall) along Cagayan de Oro River (Cathedral Section); retrofitting/rehabilitation/strengthening of J.R. Borja Bridge; and widening of Sayre Highway. Meanwhile, the gravel-to-paved road concreting and improvement of the drainage structure along Berjaya Resettlement Area Phase II in Camaman-an was already completed. (CAMCER ORDONEZ IMAM)‐newsbits‐for‐april‐23‐2014/             

Corn lands ruined by drought By Dexter A. See | Apr. 23, 2014 at 12:01am TABUK CITY, Kalinga—More than 1,800 hectares planted to corn in four towns have been damaged by drought and the projected production this year in the province, the Cordillera region’s major producer of the crop, was expected to go down, the provincial agriculturist said on Tuesday. Domingo Bakilan said 1,443 farmers in 29 barangays have been affected by the long dry spell that started in the last quarter last year until the first quarter this year and prospects in the next several weeks looked uncertain. “We fear that areas affected by drought will increase. It will have a serious impact on our overall corn production this year,” Bakilan said. The agricultural service office reported 50 percent reduction in rainfall from December 2013 to March this year. Intense heat and rising temperature were recorded in the second half of February and the whole month of March. Production will be based on how the drought affected the crop in its three growth phases: vegetative, reproductive and harvestable. Crops affected during the vegetative phase could result to total destruction, while those affected during the reproductive and maturity phase could result to decrease in volume. Bakilan said the farmers were hoping that the low pressure area in the Visayas area will move up to help induce rains in Luzon and save the crops from being wiped out by the drought. He appealed on the Department of Agriculture for financial and technical help to the farmers to help them cope with the drought and allow them to recover from an impending disaster. Bakilan said 13 barangays have been affected in Tabuk City, nine barangays in Pinukpuk, three barangays in Rizal and four in Tanudan. Kalinga is the rice granary and a major corn producer in the Cordillera region.‐lands‐ruined‐by‐drought/         

Roadmap for future of agri in Philippines By Dexter A. See | Apr. 23, 2014 at 12:01am LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—A former cabinet secretary is leading a countryside movement on a 2020 agriculture roadmap to empower smallholder farmers. Dr. William D. Dar, Director-General of the India-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (CRISAT) launched recently at Benguet State University his book “Hinirang na Anak ng Inang-Lupa”, focusing agriculture with “a major role in reducing poverty, achieving food and nutrition security, economic prosperity and environmental sustainability and upholding human dignity.” He said the five-point Inang-Lupa ethic also reflected his experience as an erstwhile Presidential Adviser for Rural Development while holding a cabinet portfolio. “Food sufficiency is first on the list which aims to increase the supply of key staple foods that will buffer communities against price increases and volatility, making food affordable for millions of poor people,” he told his audience at the state university where he served as faculty member. Ensuring nutritional security is second, Dar noted, underscoring improved crop varieties and diversified production systems that will provide nutrients often lacking form the diets of poor people particularly women and children in order to significantly address malnutrition which will also greatly contribute in reducing maternal and child deaths in the far-flung communities. He said increasing per capita income would involve improved productivity and better developed markets in which the rural poor participate. “Climate-smart communities is fourth where poor farmers benefit from healthy ecosystems and sustained high-level agriculture productivity, particularly in the light of climate change,” Dar said. “The fifth is social development which will put people at the center of development.”‐for‐future‐of‐agri‐in‐philippines/           

BoP to revert to a surplus soon By Julito G. Rada | Apr. 23, 2014 at 12:01am BANGKO Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo remains optimistic the country’s balance of payments will revert to a surplus in the coming months due to strong inflows from trade, services and remittances. “I think so, considering that our current account [composed of] trade, services, remittances, business process outsourcing, tourism continue to improve,” Guinigundo said at the sidelines of an event in Makati City. He added capital flows were usually driven by market sentiment. The Bangko Sentral on Monday reported that the BoP incurred a deficit of $336 million in March from a surplus of $345 million in February, driven largely by capital outflows. The March deficit was also a sharp turnaround from the $452-million surplus booked in the same month last year. The March figure brought the BoP deficit in the first quarter to $4.471 billion from a surplus of $1.537 billion year-on-year. “The deficit continued to show the effects of the capital outflows that we experienced in the first two months of 2014. Even as exports continue to recover, remittances continue to remain strong, tourism receipts continue to be robust and BPO revenues continue to increase,” he said. Guinigundo said despite the outflows, the current account remained strong. Outflows, according to him, usually occur during the first quarter of the year.Cash remittances coursed through banks from migrant Filipino workers increased 5.6 percent in February to $1.796 billion from $1.7 billion year-on-year on the back of the demand for local skilled workers abroad. The Bangko Sentral earlier projected a conservative 5-percent growth in remittances this year.Guinigundo said the central bank was reviewing its previous BoP surplus target of $3 billion for 2014 amid the latest global developments. “At this point, we are reviewing it [BOP target]. [In] April and May, we review our targets,” he said.Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. earlier said the outflows in foreign portfolio investments were in reaction to uncertainty over the pace of the US Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing of its monetary stimulus. Foreign portfolio investments are overseas funds that are temporarily invested in local stocks, government securities and money market. These are also called “hot money” because of the ease they are invested in and taken out of local markets.The BoP, meanwhile, refers to a record of all transactions made between one particular country and all other countries during a specified period of time.‐to‐revert‐to‐a‐surplus‐soon/ 

Govt raises P25b from bond market By Jennifer Ambanta | Apr. 23, 2014 at 12:01am The government sold P25 billion worth of two-year bonds Tuesday, amid strong demand among investors. The Bureau of Treasury said the strong demand for the two-year government debt papers pulled down the interest rate to 2.727 percent from 5.721 percent earlier. National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon said the government decided to fully award the P25-billion securities, as the offer was oversubscribed by more than twice. Tenders for the P25-billion papers reached P61.285 billion, prompting the government to reject P35.285 billion. De Leon said international market players were active during the auction. “There were big tenders because this is a short-term investment. Currently, the market is on the lookout on the short end of the curve, given expectations and uncertainties on the rates,” De Leon said. She said the government had a lot of options in terms of the borrowing plan, considering the strong cash position of the government.‐raises‐p25b‐from‐bond‐market/                       

High Court stops BIR’s new tax scheme vs. lawyers April 22, 2014 10:04 pm   by Jomar Canlas Good news for lawyers, bad news for the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday granted a petition of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) to stop the implementation of a regulation issued by the BIR and the Department of Finance (DOF) requiring lawyers to submit affidavits of fixed service rates. In their Baguio City summer session, the SC en banc issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and BIR Commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares. The TRO covered only lawyers who were the main petitioners in the case. Excluded were doctors and other professionals who were not covered by the petition. The IBP, through its counsel, Dean Pacifico Agabin, particularly asked the High Court to declare as null and void the revenue regulation for being unconstitutional. Under Section 2 of the regulation, all self-employed professionals are required to submit an affidavit indicating the rates, manner of billings and the factors they consider in determining their service fees upon registration every year thereafter on or before January 31; register the books of accounts and official appointment books of their practice of profession which shall contain the names of the client and date or time of the meeting; to issue a BIR-registered receipt showing a 100 percent discount in cases when no professional fees are charged. But the IBP said the respondents acted with grave abuse of discretion in issuing the revenue regulation as it “encroaches upon the court’s exclusive authority and jurisdiction to regulate and prescribe rules for the protection and enforcement of Constitution rights, legal practice and the legal profession.” It maintained that the regulation had violated the doctrine of separation of powers. The IBP also argued that the assailed policy does not conform with ethical standards set by the High Court for the legal profession. Both the Code of Professional Responsibility and Rules of Court say the relationship between a lawyer and his client should be “strictly personal, fiduciary and highly confidential.” The IBP said under Rule 130, Section 24 (b) of the Rules of Court, lawyers are prohibited from testifying on any communication received from a client.

It added that the submission of a notarized list of services with corresponding rates makes it appear that the law profession is a “mere trade or money-making endeavor,” instead of being devoted to public service. The IBP said implementing the revenue regulation will lead to “illegal restriction on the practice of law, as it unduly limits a lawyer’s liberty to ascertain the fair and reasonable value of his services according to standards defined by the Supreme Court.”‐court‐stops‐birs‐new‐tax‐scheme‐vs‐lawyers/91162/                                       

‘MVP’s imminent entry in Luisita to intensify unrest’ April 22, 2014 8:27 pm   by NEIL A. ALCOBER MILITANT peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) on Tuesday warned of intensified land-grabbing and denial of farmers’ rights with the “imminent” entry of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan in Central Azucarera de Tarlac. “President Benigno Aquino 3rd and his family have been bastardizing the Supreme Court decision for two years now. Control over the lands remains with the Cojuangcos despite the government’s payment of almost half a billion pesos,” Rafael Mariano, the group’s chairman, said in a statement. On April 24, 2012, voting 14-0, the highest tribunal ordered the total distribution of Hacienda Luisita to more than 6,000 farm worker beneficiaries and pay the farm workers P1.3 billion. “Worst, after two years political maneuvers never stopped. The Cojuangco-Aquinos continuously wields their political power to deny the farm workers of their rights to the land,” Mariano said. He said that “with the help of the Aquino-controlled Department of Agrarian Reform and state security forces, the Cojuangcos managed to deceive the farmworkers in its much-hyped ‘tambiolo’ land reform.” “Today, the Cojuangcos are maneuvering to further strengthen control over the lands by intensifying the practice and use of Hacienda Luisita lands as a financial instrument, increased land-use conversion, and land speculation,” Mariano said. The peasant leader was referring to reports that PT Indofood Sukses Makmur Tbk. of Indonesia, the food unit of Hong Kong-based conglomerate First Pacific Co. Ltd., maybe interested to acquire the sugar mill inside Hacienda Luisita. First Pacific Managing Director Manuel V. Pangilinan said there is a strong interest to invest in the mill, which is in a 50-hectare property in the estate, since Indofood is a major plantation operator in Indonesia in palm oil, sugar, rubber, coffee and cacao. Indofood, controlled by the Salim family, is engaged in oil-palm cultivation and milling; as well as the production and marketing of branded cooking oils, margarine and shortening. It is also engaged in the cultivation and processing of rubber, sugar cane and other crops.

“We are interested in sugar in general because Indofood is in sugar plantation and sugar milling and refining,” Pangilinan said. In November last year, First Pacific bought about 31 percent of Roxas Holdings Inc. (RHI). A month later First Pacific increased its stake in RHI to about 34 percent and shelled out about P2.47 billion by buying out other minority holders. Roxas and company sold up to 34 percent of its 66 percent stake in RHI for P2.23 billion at P8 per share. “These recent developments in the sugar industry clearly demonstrate that MVP’s acquisition and entry in Hacienda Luisita is imminent. The farm workers of Hacienda Luisita should prepare for another round of intensified agrarian unrest,” Mariano warned. The group has been pushing for the enactment of House Bill 252 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill that seeks the nationalization of all agricultural lands and the subsequent free distribution of lands to landless tillers.‐imminent‐entry‐in‐luisita‐to‐intensify‐unrest/91060/                               

BSP still sees 2014 payments surplus despite Q1 deficit April 22, 2014 9:12 pm   by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO Reporter The central bank remains confident that the country’s balance of payments (BOP) position will revert to a surplus this year despite the deficit recorded in the first quarter, although it hinted the BOP target for this year may be revised. “The BOP deficit continued to show the effects of the capital outflows that we experienced in the first two months of 2014,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said on the sidelines of the Manila launch of the Asian Development Bank’s “Asian Economic Integration Monitor.” “Even as exports continue to recover, remittances continue to remain strong, tourism receipts continue to be robust and BPO [business process outsourcing] revenues continue to increase,” Guinigundo said. The BOP stood at deficit of $336 million in March, resulting in a cumulative BOP deficit of $4.47 billion for the first three months of the year, a sharp swing from the $1.54 billion surplus recorded for the same period a year earlier. Guinigundo said that normally, the country’s BOP reverses into deficit in the first quarter of the year but he added that as far as the current account is concerned, the country’s payments position remains strong. “Yes, I think so [the BOP position will swing back to a surplus] considering that our current account—trade, services, remittances, BPO, tourism—continue to improve,” he said. However, the BSP official said the central bank is currently reviewing its target of a $3-billion BOP surplus this year. The BOP summarizes the country’s economic transactions with the rest of the world over a certain period. It consists of the current account, the capital account, and the financial account. A surplus arises when inflows are greater than outflows, while a deficit is incurred when foreign exchange outflows exceed the inflows and causes a drop in the country’s gross international reserves.‐still‐sees‐2014‐payments‐surplus‐despite‐q1‐ deficit/91134/ 

Posted on April 22, 2014 10:22:33 PM

Vietnam rice prices gain 2-3% as harvest ends, Manila tender eyed HANOI ‐‐ Prices for rice exports from Vietnam have risen 2‐3% in the last few days as  harvesting comes to an end and as two state‐owned companies look set to win the Philippines’  biggest order for the grain in three years.    Climbing prices in Vietnam, the world’s No. 2 exporter after India, could boost demand for  shipments from rival exporter Thailand, which is typically seen as offering better quality rice.    Harvesting of the winter‐spring crop, mainly used for export, is 95% complete in the Mekong  Delta food basket, an industry report said on Monday, suggesting supplies could be about to  tighten.    That comes just as state‐owned exporters Vinafood 1 and Vinafood 2 are poised to win deals to  supply 800,000 metric tons (MT) of rice to the Philippines after submitting the lowest bids in a  tender last week.    “Prices are rising, especially [quoted] by those who don’t have much in stock,” said a trader at a  foreign firm in Ho Chi Minh City.    Five‐percent broken rice in Vietnam has climbed nearly 2% to $390‐395/MT, on a free‐on‐board  basis, from $380‐390 late last week, traders said on Tuesday.    They added that the 15% broken grade, the variety sought by Manila, has risen nearly 3% to  $380‐385/MT. ‐‐ Reuters‐rice‐prices‐gain‐ 2‐3%‐as‐harvest‐ends,‐Manila‐tender‐eyed&id=86391         

Posted on April 22, 2014 10:21:21 PM  

Gender gap in wages still seen GENDER experts said yesterday that women in the Philippines, on the average, earn less than  their male counterparts yearly.    In a live chat yesterday, Imrana Jalal, Asian Development Bank (ADB) senior social  development specialist in gender, cited a study by the bank with the International Labour  Organisation (ILO) in Cambodia, Kazakhstan and the Philippines.    “In the three countries, women’s annual earnings amount to 71% of men’s earnings. The main  reasons for the gender wage gap are related to the discrimination that women face in the  labour market, and the overall gender inequality in society,” Ms. Jalal said.    She noted that gender gaps persist throughout the globe, whether in developed or developing  societies.    “Many Asian labor markets also informally divide up jobs into ‘women’s jobs and men’s jobs’.  There are many more ‘men’s jobs’ available than women’s jobs, especially if we look at decent  jobs such as in the public sector and at management levels,” Ms. Jalal said.    “Where men and women are found in the same sector, such as paid domestic work for others,  male domestic workers like security guards and drivers earn much more than female domestic  workers who look after the household and care for people,” she added.    Agriculture was found to be largest sector of women’s employment in the three countries,  followed by services and industry.    According to Nelien Haspels, ILO senior specialist on gender and women workers issues, culture  and religion influence gender norms and play a role in determining whether women can go out  to work or are confined to the home.    “This is true in Asia as elsewhere. However, Asia is also a very dynamic region, and ideas about  men and women and what they can do are changing rapidly between the generations,” Ms.  Haspels said in the live chat.   

The Philippines has been cited for a high gender equality index but also has a low labor market  participation of women. Philippine women also have a large share in vulnerable work,  particularly doing 84% of household or care work.    “The Philippines, for the most parts, has its laws in place to promote gender equality. The ADB‐ ILO study shows that the big challenge is implementation. With regard to the protection of  domestic workers, the    ‘Kasambahay [Law]’ or domestic workers bill (Republic Act No. 10361) that was adopted in the  Philippines is a major legal breakthrough and can form an example for other countries,” Ms.  Haspels noted.    However, she also said that legislation cannot stand alone and needs to be accompanied by  practical policies and measures. ‐‐ A.M. Monzon‐gap‐in‐wages‐ still‐seen&id=86388                           

Editorial: Isang lantarang pamamahiya sa Pangulo •

Wednesday, 23 April 2014 00:00 


Paglalarawan ni Romy Buen  •

Published in Editorial 

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Daig pa ang salubungan sa eksena kahapon sa airport ng mag-amang Estrada. Umaalis ng bansa si dating Pangulo at ngayo’y Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada para tumungo sa Hong Kong at siya namang uwi ng kanyang anak na si Sen. Jinggoy Estrada na nakatungkod pa nga.

Ang sumalubong sa batang Estrada ay ang balitang “handa nang kumanta” at magsabi ng lahat ng kanyang nalalaman sa ‘pork’ scam, ang tinaguriang reyna ng anomalya na si Janet Lim-Napoles. Isa si Sen. Jinggoy sa mga senador na nakasuhan ng plunder dahil sa pagkakasangkot sa multi-bilyong kurakot sa pork barrel fund. Si Mayor Erap naman sa kabilang dako ay magtutungo sa HK para pormal na humingi ng sorry sa mga awtoridad doon at sa mamamayan ng Hong Kong sa madugong hostage drama sa isang bus sa Quirino Grandstand may ilang taon na ang nakakaraan. Ang kwento, may bitbit pa raw itong HK$20 milyon o katumbas na P110 milyon para bayaran ang mga kaanak ng mga nasawi sa naturang krimen. Isang tuwirang pamamahiya kay Pangulong Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III ang aksyong ito ni Estrada dahil ilang ulit nang nanindigan ang Pangulo ng Pilipinas na hindi ito magso-sorry sa nangyaring insidente. Ano nga ba ang puwedeng maging motibo ng isang alkalde para baliin ang salita ng lider ng bansa at gumawa ng sariling aksyon na maglalagay sa alanganin at kahihiyan sa gobyerno ng Pilipinas? Hindi ba dapat ay maging solido ang paninindigan ng pamahalaan lalo na sa ganitong mga pangyayari na dayuhang relasyon ang nakataya? Interes ng Hong Kong kontra interes ng Pilipinas ang pinag-uusapan dito. Nagsalita na ang Pangulo ng Pilipinas, dapat itong irespeto ng lahat. Pero paano pang irerespeto ng Hong Kong ang paninindigan ng ating Pangulo kung ang mismong alkalde ng Maynila ay hindi kayang ibigay ang respetong ito? Hindi tuloy maiaalis na ikonekta ang kusang galaw na ito ni Mayor Erap sa pagkakadiin ng kanyang anak na si Sen. Jinggoy sa ‘pork’ scam. Bakit kailangang gawin ng alkalde at dating pangulo ang kanyang ginawa? Para iganti ang kanyang anak? Isa pang tanong na dapat sagutin ni Mayor Erap, saan galing ang P110 milyong ibabayad daw nito bilang danyos sa mga kaanak na naulila sa Quirino Grandstand hostage drama (kung totoo man ito)? Malabong sa national budget ito hinugot dahil walang ganitong alokasyon na inaprubahan ang Kongreso. Ngayon kung galing naman sa pondo ng city government ng Maynila, lalong salto dahil ang pera ng Maynila ay para lang dapat sa mga Manileño at hindi sa mga taga-Hong Kong. Malaki ang ipapaliwanag ni Mayor Erap sa aksyon niyang ito!‐editorial‐isang‐lantarang‐pamamahiya‐sa‐ pangulo.html      

BAP lauds BSP move allowing banks to open more branches Written by Ed Velasco Wednesday, 23 April 2014 00:00 font size   The Bankers’ Association of the Philippines (BAP) has gladly welcomed the lifting of restriction against  banks to open branches in eight  Metro Manila cities.  According to the BAP, the move will level the playing field as far as opening of more branches is  concerned.  Lorenzo Tan, president of the 34‐member organization of universal and commercial banks (UKBs), also  said  customers and depositors are the biggest winners in the removal of the year‐old restriction.  “Overall, this augurs well for the banking industry as it will provide a level playing field in terms of  expanding the branch network of the small and mid‐sized banks in these areas,” Tan told The Daily  Tribune.  The BAP presidentm currently in the United States,  is set to return home today after a week‐long  hiatus.   He flew last April 16 which is exactly a week ago today.     The cities where the restriction will be lifted effective July 1, 2014 are Makati, Mandaluyong, Manila,  Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, San Juan and Quezon City, according to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)  deputy governor for supervision and examination sector Nestor Espenilla.  Incidentally, the deadline of opening new branches for UKBs and thrifts banks will also be in June.  

In the said areas, the deadline is not implemented because of the special licensing fee needed to be  shelled out by any bank for every branch that it will open.  A special licensing fee amounting to millions of pesos will also be applied to any thrift bank that will  branch out in any of the cities where the restriction will be removed, the BSP deputy governor  explained.           In an earlier interview, Tan, also president and chief executive officer of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.,  said many banks would like to open new branches but they are stalled from doing so because of the BSP  restriction.  “Customers will be the biggest winner because they will now have more options as to which bank can  offer them the products and services that will best suit their needs,” the BAP‐RCBC president said.‐lauds‐bsp‐move‐allowing‐banks‐to‐open‐more‐branches                          

2014 04 23 quedancor daily news monitor  
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