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What Went Before: Malacañang allies alleged involvement in pork scam Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:17 am | Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. FILE PHOTO In August last year, President Benigno Aquino III acknowledged flaws in the Department of Agriculture’s release of P89.2 million from the pork barrel of eight congressmen to an alleged dummy agency and said saying sorry was not enough. He was reacting for the first time to allegations that P10 billion in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers had been channeled to ghost projects of bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs) allegedly controlled by businesswoman Janet LimNapoles over the past decade. Mr. Aquino also said that the allegations linking Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to the release of P89.2 million to a bogus NGO would be part of the inquiry by the National Bureau of Investigation into the alleged Napoles racket. In October, the peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) filed a plunder complaint in the Office of the Ombudsman against the President and several others including Napoles, over the misuse of the PDAF. Also named in the complaint were Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and his undersecretary Mario Relampagos and Alcala, his undersecretary Antonio Fleta, assistant secretaries Salvador Salacup and Ophelia Agawin, Director Irene D.T. Alogoc and executive assistant Arnulfo Mañalac. In November, the NBI filed malversation charges against former Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon and 27 others, including Zenaida Cruz-Ducut, the chair of the Energy Regulatory Commission, along with Napoles and several former members of the House of Representatives.

Biazon, a member of the ruling Liberal Party, resigned after being named a respondent in the malversation complaint involving the use of his pork barrel fund when he was a Muntinlupa City representative. In January this year, the KMP filed another plunder complaint against Mr. Aquino, Abad, Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes and several others, in connection with the alleged diversion of funds from the Malampaya natural gas project to programs not related to energy. The President has shrugged off the plunder cases filed against him and his Cabinet secretaries, saying they never benefited from the pork barrel scam and the alleged misuse of the Malampaya Fund. Director General Joel Villanueva of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, a close friend of Mr. Aquino, has also been linked to the pork barrel scam. In February, Dennis Cunanan, head of the Technology Resource Center, alleged that Villanueva was among those who had channeled their pork barrel through the agency en route to Napoles’ NGOs. At least 19 administration allies are among 83 lawmakers accused of coursing their pork barrel allocations through the National Agribusiness Corp., allegedly with instructions to tap questionable foundations to implement the projects.

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Palace prepared to charge its allies By Gil C. Cabacungan, TJ A. Burgonio Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:27 am | Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO Malacañang announced Wednesday it was prepared to prosecute allies of President Benigno Aquino III amid speculation that Liberal Party stalwarts had been implicated in the diversion of pork barrel funds to dubious foundations. The Inquirer has learned that Mr. Aquino summoned Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala Tuesday afternoon just hours after he was briefed by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on her five-hour meeting with Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged architect of the P10-billion pork barrel scam, during which the businesswoman executed an affidavit involving the diversion of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to ghost projects and kickbacks. At least three sources with access to Napoles’ affidavit said that Abad and Alcala were among the lawmakers that Napoles confessed to have transactions. Abad was Batanes’ lone representative from 1995 to 2004 and Alcala served as representative of Quezon’s second district from 2004 to 2010. Napoles is widely believed to have started her PDAF operations in 2001. “Our focus here is the quest for truth,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma. “The President has time and again said that the evidence itself must provide the direction,” he said at the regular Palace news briefing. Both Abad and Alcala were quick to douse what a Palace source described as a hush-hush damage control meeting called by the President posthaste following the De Lima briefing. “That is not true,” Abad said in a text message. He said the meeting discussed procurements for the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines and concerns over the coronavirus.

Abad said he was not surprised that he was the subject of public conjecture considering his political ties. “I will not be surprised. I have been periodically subject to that,” said Abad who reckoned that wild speculation would persist until Napoles’ signed affidavit is released. Alcala said the meeting did not touch on Napoles’ revelations to De Lima. “We discussed agriculture programs, including rehabilitation plans for Yolanda,” he said, referring to programs for victims of the supertyphoon that hit Eastern Visayas last Nov. 8. “I am now in Tacloban, Palo and Tanauan, Leyte,” said Alcala. Several incumbent members of the upper house belonging to the Liberal Party and those who have publicly railed against senators who have been implicated in the PDAF scam were also included in the Napoles affidavit, the sources said. Lawyers of the whistle-blowers on Wednesday said that Napoles’ decision to reveal her PDAF operation, ostensibly after receiving death threats, was part of a ploy to sabotage the plunder case against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. in the alleged pork barrel scam. The sources said that while Napoles shared documents that would pin down administration allies, she had been stingy in giving documents that would nail down Enrile, Estrada and Revilla, who have denied wrongdoing. They said that Napoles’ tactic was hatched in connivance with the three senators who communicated to Napoles through the mobile phone of her children during their visits.

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DA imposes dumping duty on Turkish flour Category: Economy   23 Apr 2014   Written by Aladdin S. Diega / Correspondent   The Department of Agriculture (DA) has imposed provisional dumping duties on Turkish wheat flour, a  move that is seen to hurt small community bakers but boost the domestic flour‐milling industry.  Signed on Monday by Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, the dumping duty, which will be on top of  the  7‐percent  regular  import  duty  on  flour,  imposes  35‐percent  tax  on  hard  flour  for  bread,  39.26  percent on biscuit flour and 35.21 percent on soft flour, which is used for pastries and cookies.  The  department  said  the  dumping  duty  it  imposed  was  based  on  the  price  difference  between  the  domestic  price  of  flour  in  Turkey  and  the  low,  subsidized  export  price  of  the  same  product  to  the  Philippines.  It noted that “the difference in Turkish domestic flour prices and their export price ranges from a low of  $10.37 per metric ton [MT] [2.28 percent] to a high of 138.97 per MT [39.26 percent],” adding that the  dumping duty equalizes the Turkish domestic price and the landed cost of the imported product to the  Philippines.  The  department  also  said  “imported  wheat  flour  and  locally  produced  wheat  flour  are  ‘like  products,’  which are soft‐wheat flour used for biscuit and noodle production, and hard‐wheat flour used for bread  production,” and added that some exporters sell the same type of wheat flour in their domestic market  with what they export to the Philippines.  “There was an increase in imports of wheat flour for the periods of 2011 and 2012, where most of the  share is from Turkey,” the department observed.  It  also  said  the  “volume  of  imports  managed  to  capture  a  11.79‐percent  share  [of  which  9.44  percent  came from Turkey] in 2012 from only 6.12 percent in 2010, which effectively caused a reduction in the  share  of  Pafmil  [Philippine  Association  of  Flour  Millers]  and  the  whole  local  flour‐milling  industry  in  2012,” and concluded that on a per‐exporter basis, the margin of dumping is evident for both types of  wheat flour.  “The  decision  made  by  the  DA  to  impose  dumping  duty  on  Turkish  flour  is  pro‐fair  trade,”  Pafmil  Executive  Director  Ric  M.  Pinca  said  in  a  statement  on  Wednesday,  adding  that  the  additional  duty  would help secure jobs for Filipino workers in the flour‐milling industry.  According  to  Pinca,  the  country’s  wheat  flour‐milling  industry  has  been  in  the  receiving  end  of  unfair  trade from Turkey, with its cheap and highly subsidized flour being dumped at much lower prices here. 

The dumping  duty  is  effective  15  days from  date  of  publication  in  two  major newspapers,  and  will  be  effective  for  120  days  from  the  date  of  affectivity,  while  the  Philippine  Tariff  Commission  conducts  hearings to determine if the dumping duty would be permanent.  In May of last year Pafmil petitioned the agriculture department and asked for the enforcement of a fair  treatment between local and the subsidized Turkish flour, Pinca recalled in a statement.  “After a thorough examination of the evidence/data and other comment/positions by interested parties,  the  preliminary  investigation  has  established  the  existence  of  a  threat  of  material  injury  to  the  local  industry caused by the importation of alleged dumped wheat flour from Turkey,” the department said in  its order.    The  export  of  a  product  at  lower  than  its  domestic  selling  price  in  the  country  of  origin  constitutes  dumping,  and  is  prohibited  by  World  Trade  Organization  rules  to  which  the  Philippines,  Turkey  and  Asean members, among others, are signatories.  Indonesia slapped the Turkish flour with the similar duty in 2012, with its 20‐percent safeguard duty on  the highly subsidized wheat flour.  Other Asean members are also hurting from Turkish flour being sold at dumping prices. While Turkish  domestic price for flour in 2012 was $470 per MT, its export prices to Asean were much lower, at only  $351 per MT in Indonesia, $349 in the Philippines and $400 per MT in Thailand.  In Malaysia Turkish flour is sold at $367 per MT, $407 per MT in Singapore and $337 per MT in Vietnam.  With  the  imposition  of  dumping  duty  on  Turkish  flour,  the  Philippines  government  would  benefit  in  terms of higher collection of import duty and value‐added tax, the DA also said.‐da‐imposes‐dumping‐duty‐ on‐turkish‐flour             

Nueva Vizcaya town gets irrigation systems By DJ Yap Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:30 pm | Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—Farmers in a small Nueva Vizcaya town need no longer be at the mercy of seasonal rains anymore. Some 335 hectares of rain-fed farms in the municipality of Dupax del Sur are expected to become more productive following the turnover of three communal irrigation systems, the Department of Agrarian Reform said Wednesday. In a statement, DAR Regional Director Marjorie P. Ayson said the project cost the government P21.6 million and would benefit 318 farmers covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. The irrigation facilities are located in Duppes-Mangayang, which will service 100 hectares of land for 100 beneficiaries; Allawan, which will service 200 hectares of land and benefit 191 farmers; and Palabotan, which will irrigate 35 hectares and help 27 beneficiaries. “These three completed CIS (communal irrigation systems) will irrigate a total of 335 hectares of farmlands providing sufficient irrigation water for 318 farmers during their cropping cycle,” Ayson said. Dupax del Sur Mayor Ruben S. Basconcillo Jr. expressed his appreciation to the DAR for the implementation of the project, which was expected to help farmers become more productive particularly in the remote areas, A DAR press release said. Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer Primo C. Lara urged farmer beneficiaries to take care of the irrigation facilities and other post-harvest tools since maintenance and sustainability of these were now in their hands.

Antonio C. Lara, acting regional manager of the National Irrigation Administration in Region 2, said the improvement in the irrigation system would boost economic activities in the province. He said it would also contribute to food sustainability and the rice self-sufficiency efforts of the government.

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2,000 bags of seedlings given free to farmers April 23, 2014  

Butuan City – An initial 2,000 bags of rice seedlings were given free to farmers who were flood victims of typhoon Agaton that devastated 2, 898 hectares of rice lands in the first quarter this year in Butuan City. The free rice seedling assistance from the city government of Butuan and Department of Agriculture benefited 1,500 farmer recipients from the city’s 48 barangays. Initially, the city government released 1,500 bags of rice seedlings while the 500 bags were provided by the DA. The recipients were farmers whose rice fields were damaged during the onslaught of typhoon Agaton in January this year. Records from the City Agriculture Office disclosed that a total of 2,898 hectares of rice field worth P32.8 million were damaged due to the continuous rains and flooding. “Our assistance to farmers will continue because they are the backbone of our food security program,” said Butuan City Mayor Ferdinand M. Amante during the distribution of the rice seedlings at DOP Center, Barangay Tiniwisan here recently. In another development, from the previous annual allocation of P226,000 which can only accommodate 113 registered senior citizens at P2,000 each in the year 2010 to 2012, this year’s budget for mortuary assistance to deceased senior citizens has significantly increased and almost doubled up to P450,000. However, city councilor and chairman of the Committee on Social Services and Senior Citizens Ferdinand Nalcot emphasized that the surviving family of the deceased senior citizen should be able to submit the pertaining documents within three months after the death of the member. It is also essential that the deceased senior citizen is an identified member of the Office for Senior Citizens Affairs and a resident of Butuan City, he added. (Mike Crismundo)‐bags‐of‐seedlings‐given‐free‐to‐farmers/      

ARMM to use e-farm technology by Ali G. Macabalang  April 23, 2014  

COTABATO CITY – The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DAF-ARMM) will use geo-tagging technology and an online database management to monitor agriculture projects in the region funded through the bottom-up budgeting (BUB) scheme. “E-farm is an online web based data management system to monitor geo-tagged farm-to-market roads and other projects,” DAF-ARMM Secretary Macmod Mending said during the distribution of funds on Tuesday. DAF-ARMM has earmarked more than P1-billion to support projects intended to boost the agricultural productivity of the region. Mending said projects funded through the BUB scheme are based on the proposals from local farming communities. He said Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, all ARMM components have monitoring team bound to use geo-tagging technology to ensure that projects are implemented accordingly. The agency handed a total of P7.6 million to the municipalities of Pagalungan and Upi in Maguindanao to support organic agriculture, production of high-value crops and farm products such as rubber, and enhance farm-to-market roads in such communities, the official said. ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said the budgeting scheme is meant to help boost the region’s economy and reduce poverty incidence. Hataman was also with Mending at Tuesday’s distribution of funds, farm equipment, implements, seeds and fertilizers.‐to‐use‐e‐farm‐technology/        

DTI eyes tighter rules to protect consumers Category: Top News   23 Apr 2014   Written by Catherine N. Pillas   The Department of Trade and Industry’s Consumer Protection Group (DTI‐CPG) is proposing to tighten  regulations  in  the  Consumer  Protection  Act,  specifically  ramping  up  penalties  in  the  law  and  adding  provisions that cover online commerce.   “We  are  now  in  the  stage  of  proposing  amendments  to  our  consumer‐protection  law,  increasing  penalties  from  P500  to  a  minimum  of  P50,000  for  any  violation  of  the  Consumer  Protection  Act  to  a  maximum  of  P1  million  from  the  present  P  300,000  in  the  Consumer  Protection  Act,”  Trade  Undersecretary for Consumer Protection Victorio A. Dimagiba said.   Sources  at  the  trade  department  said  mounting  complaints  against  unscrupulous  traders  and  the  apparent  helplessness  of  the  government  in  some  instances  have  made  a  strengthening  of  the  Consumer Protection Act a priority of the department.  Aside  from  increasing  administrative  fines,  criminal  fines  will  also  be  increased,  Dimagiba  added,  although he said the administrative penalties being implemented by the national government are very  similar to those in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which the Philippines is a member.  The current consumer‐protection law was passed in 1992 and has remained virtually unchanged.    Consumer  protection  covers  product  standards,  false  and  misleading  information,  product  liabilities,  deceptive and fraudulent transactions, Dimagiba said.   Online  commerce  is  another  pertinent  issue  that  needs  to  be  addressed  in  updating  the  Consumer  Protection Act, especially regulations covering products sold online at promo prices.  “We have basically administrative rules on online commerce for products on promo rates, but we want  to put them in the law. We want to strengthen e‐commerce. We have been receiving complaints about  products that are too good to be true. We want to look at the legitimate vendors who are not securing  permits for promos,” Dimagiba said.   Electronic  commerce  began  as  a  business  five  years  ago  and  although  the  existing  e‐commerce  law  should have covered this, there is a loophole on the area of consumer protection, the undersecretary  revealed.  The majority of the complaints received by the Bureau of Consumer Protection has been that of “non‐ full disclosure” on the part of online vendors. This issue pertains to items whose actual specifications do  not match those pitched to the buyer.   

The draft of the proposals is expected to be submitted next week to the Senate Committee on Trade,  Commerce and Entrepreneurship, chaired by Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV.‐news/31015‐dti‐eyes‐tighter‐rules‐to‐protect‐ consumers   

More journalists to face jail term with SC ruling on cyber libel By Dennis Carcamo ( | Updated April 24, 2014 - 8:22am MANILA, Philippines - A legal counsel for the journalists who contested the legality of cyber libel before the Supreme Court fear that many mediamen would face jail term as the High Tribunal dismissed all their motions for reconsideration. In a statement, lawyer Harry Roque Jr. of the Center for International Law, said he is also disappointed with the SC ruling. "CenterLaw believes that this latest decision is an affront anew on freedom of expression and is a blatant disregard of the view expressed by the UN Human Rights Committee declaring criminal libel in the Philippines as being incompatible with freedom of expression," Roque said. He insisted that cyber libel is a "violation of Art. 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and should be condemned vigorously." Roque cited that the UN Human Rights Committee has already declared criminal libel contrary to freedom of expression and that a prison term is not an appropriate sanction. "Be that as it may, as all domestic remedies have been exhausted with the denial of the motions for reconsideration, CenterLaw will again submit a communication with the UN Human Rights Committee to complain that instead of taking steps to avoid incarceration of journalists for criminal libel and prevent similar violations occurring in the future, including the review of relevant libel legislation, the Philippines instead breached its state obligation with the recent decision upholding the constitutionality of libel in the cyberspace. "We gave our Courts the opportunity to avoid the spectacle of another view deploring the Court’s misapprehension of human rights law. It will only have itself to blame if its latest decision is condemned by the international human rights community as a violation of human rights law. If this happens, the Philippines will be subjected to the embarrassment of being in breach of a treaty obligation," Roque said.‐journalists‐face‐jail‐term‐sc‐ruling‐ cyber‐libel      

Napoles not 'pork' scam's architect - lawyer ( | Updated April 23, 2014 - 4:29pm

Janet Lim Napoles at Malacaùan Palace when she purportedly surrendered to President Aquino's spokesperson Edwin Lacierda in August 2013. She is accused of serious illegal detention offense for allegedly kidnapping and holding "pork barrel" scam whistleblower Benhur Luy. STAR file MANILA, Philippines — Janet Lim Napoles did not start the multi-billion peso embezzlement of lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Funds, her lawyer claimed on Wednesday. Bruce Rivera, the lawyer of the detained businesswoman, said in an interview over radio dzMM that the "pork barrel" operation was already running when Napoles joined the scam. Rivera said it would be hard for the Department of Justice to prove that Napoles is the "architect" of the pork barrel anomaly. "Kami po ay gusto lang namin magsabi ng totoo," Rivera said. He reiterated that his client wanted to speak with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to tell the "truth" once and for all, and not because she wants to become a state witness in the plunder cases. "Kung tatanggapin siyang state witness, bakit hindi? Pero 'pag hindi naman, okay lang. 'Yun po ang sinasabi niya sa akin," Rivera said. On Tuesday, De Lima met with Napoles in her room at the Ospital ng Makati. She was scheduled for a surgery for ovarian tumors. De Lima confirmed that Napoles mentioned Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. as among those involved in the scam. Rivera said, however, Napoles tagged more names of incumbent and former lawmakers in her sworn affidavit, which is now being validated by the DOJ. The lawyer, however, declined to divulge them.

He also said that with Napoles now talking, the public will be learning more about the scam that has not yet been revealed before. The lawyer of principal whistleblower Benhur Luy, meanwhile, fears that the businesswoman's testimony will become a threat to Luy and the other whistleblowers, who were previously employed in Napoles' JLN Corporation. "May danger na baka guluhin niya yung kaso by contradicting what has already been testified on," lawyer Raji Mendoza said in a televised press conference on Wednesday. Mendoza said that Luy is uncomfortable about the possibility that Napoles will be granted immunity as a state witness. "Napakalaki ng involvement niya dito. Siya yung may negosyo, nagbibigay ng komisyon," he said. - Camille Diola


Bangsamoro law's final draft sent to Malacañang By John Unson ( | Updated April 23, 2014 - 2:52pm

COTABATO CITY – The final version of the draft Basic Bangsamoro Law (BBL) has been delivered to Malacañang on Tuesday, the communication group (ComGroup) of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) said Wednesday. The BTC’s ComGroup said the draft BBL, signed by 12 of the 14 members of the BTC in Cotabato City on Easter Sunday, was personally brought to Malacañang by a member of the commission, Raissa Jadjurie. The BBL is the enabling measure for the creation of a Bangsamoro political entity, based on the Mar. 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro, the final peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Jadjurie was accompanied to Malacañang by the BTC’s executive director, Mike Pasigan. The BTC’s ComGroup said the 97-page draft BBL was received by Assistant Michael Frederick Musngi of the Office of the Executive Secretary. Malacañang will first review the 97-page draft BBL before if will be endorsed to Congress for enactment. Once enacted, the BBL will be ratified through a plebiscite in the proposed Bangsamoro core territory, which includes the five provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Once enacted and ratified, the BBL will replace the ARMM with an MILF-led Bangsamoro political entity. MILF chif negotiator Muhaquer Iqbal, chairman of the BTC, personally delivered last April 14 the copies of the important parts of the BBL to Malacañang for President Benigno Aquino III's evaluation.‐laws‐final‐draft‐sent‐ malacanang

Zambales residents renew call to stop mining Category: Regions   23 Apr 2014   Written by Henry Empeño / Correspondent  

SANTA   CRUZ,  Zambales  —Using  Tuesday’s  Earth  Day  celebration  to  remind  concerned  government  agencies  of  their  duty  to  protect  the  environment,  residents  of  this  town  picketed  the  offices  of  mining  companies  here  and  called  for  a  stop  in  mining  operations that have been “bleeding Mother Earth” and destroying the livelihood of local farmers and  fishing families.  Members  of  the  Concerned  Citizens  of  Santa  Cruz,  Zambales  (CCOS),  along  with  supporters  from  Defenders  of  the  Environment  for  the  Genuine  Development  of  Zambales  (Defend  Zambales),  held  protest  rallies  here  against  Benguetcorp  Nickel  Mines  Inc.,  (BNMI)  Eramen  Minerals  Inc.,  Zambales  Diversified  Metals  Corp.,  and  LnL  Archipelago  Minerals  Inc.,  which  mines  nickel  in  the  mountains  of  Santa Cruz.  The protesters also called for the removal of both Central Luzon Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB)  Officer  in  Charge  Director  Danilo  U.  Uykieng  and  Environmental  Management  Bureau  (EMB)  Chief  Lormelyn Claudio, whom they accused of being protectors of mining companies.  “In the eight years that mining firms have been allowed to extract 8.5 million dry metric tons (DMT) of  nickel annually, local residents have lost more than P400 million in terms of lost livelihood,” said CCOS  Chairman Benito Molino.  “And the sad part is that government agencies tasked to protect our environment have been remiss in  their duty, that’s why our environment is bleeding,” he said.    Molino said local residents who have lost land and livelihood to destructive mining operations want the  miners to pay for the damage. 

“Now, we’re  going  after  [all  the  miners]  to  show  them  what  they  have  done,”  Molino  told  the  BusinessMirror during a pause in the protest rally on Tuesday.  The CCOS  said  the  mining  operations  in  Santa  Cruz  have  denuded  the  mountains,  silted  rivers  and  coastlines, and destroyed more than 1,000 hectares of farmlands and about 200 hectares of fishponds.  Among the bodies of water now silted with nickel laterite are the Panalabawan and Alinsaog rivers, and  the Pinmayong and Baloc‐baloc falls.  Meanwhile, heavy trucks that haul nickel laterite from the mine sites destroyed roads in the villages of  Guisguis,  Canaynayan,  Guinabon,  Bangcol,  Biay,  Bolitoc,  Lipay,  Lucapon  North,  Lucapon  South,  Bayto,  Poblacion North and Poblacion South, the CCOS said.  Hauling  operations  also  brought  dust  to  residential  areas,  causing  a  growing  health  problem  among  residents, the group said.  The CCOS said the town of Santa Cruz also experienced its worst flooding in August last year after the  three dams in the mine site of BNMI collapsed.  The P3‐million  compensation  that  the  mining  firms  agreed  to  compensate  56  farming  families  in  Guisguis, Almasin, and Tubo‐Tubo North and Tubo‐tubo South has yet to be released, the CCOS said.  Molino  said  that  while  MGB  Director  Leon  Jasareno  ordered  on    April  12  the  suspension  of  hauling  operations  by  Eramen  and  Benguetcorp,  Uykieng  temporarily  lifted  the  suspension  the  following  on  Wednesday purportedly due to a  go‐signal from the office of Claudio.  “This  simply  showed  [Uykieng’s  and  Claudio’s]  true  colors—that  they  are  on  the  side  of  the  miners,”  Molino said.  The affected  residents  have  been  calling  on  local  government  officials  to  stop  mining  here,  but  local  officials reasoned out that they could not do anything because the permits were issued by the national  government, he said.  “Thus, we are left with no choice but to bring our complaints to the higher agencies of the government,  hoping  that  they  will  stop  the  bleeding  of  the  environment  and  protect  the  welfare  and  rights  of  the  people,” he said.  The CCOS said the government should cancel the mining permits issued to companies operating in the  towns  of  Santa  Cruz  and  Candelaria;  order  the  concerned  mining  companies  to  clear  all  the  nickel  laterite that have cascaded down to farmlands, fishponds, rivers, roads, and shorelines; and order the  same firms to rehabilitate all the affected areas, including the damaged roads. 

The CCOS also asked the  government  to order the  mine operators here to  pay for the damage  to the  people and the environment, and ensure the prevention of environmental destruction.      In Photo: A Community leader enumerates the destructive effects of mining operations during an Earth  Day protest rally on Tuesday in Santa Cruz, Zambales.‐zambales‐residents‐renew‐call‐ to‐stop‐mining                                       

Advocate reports forest fires hit Bulacan as environmentalists celebrate Earth Day Category: Regions   23 Apr 2014   Written by Ramon Efren R. Lazaro / Correspondent   MARILAO,  Bulacan—Environmentally  innovative  solutions,  designs  and  products  plus  forest‐ fires monitoring were the order of the day as stakeholders celebrate Earth Day in Bulacan on Tuesday.  The three R’s (reduce, reuse and recycle) advocates  showed their talents and  products at the SM City  Marilao  while  the  Sagip  Sierra  Madre Environmental    Society  Inc.  (SSMESI),  together  with  concerned stakeholders  conducted a  2‐day  outreach  program  on  April  21  and  22 for  the  indigenous  Dumagat tribes inside the Angat Watershed.  With the theme “Earth Day Every Day, Everywhere, For Everyone,” SM City Marilao in partnership with  Manila  Electric  Co.,  Philippine  Utility  Vehicle  (PhUV)  and  California  Eco‐bike showcased  green  and  innovative solutions, sustainable designs, as well as environment‐friendly products like the e‐jeepneys,  or electric jeepneys, and e‐bikes, or electric bikes.  Mallgoers also had the opportunity to ride the e‐jeepneys and e‐bikes during the actual demonstration  to feel and witness the significance and benefits of using these fossil‐fuel alternatives.  John  Marasigan,  PhUV sales  and  operations  manager,  said  the  e‐jeepneys  are  the  most‐promising  solution in addressing the worsening pollution the country is experiencing, particularly in the transport  sector.  He  said these  vehicles  used  the  most  stable  lithium  batteries,  have  zero  carbon  emissions  that  contribute in minimizing air pollution and help save up to 80 percent in fuel consumption.  Green  exhibitors  also showcased  environmental  stewardship  and  sustainable  practices  at  SM City  Marilao with their line of apparel, bags and accessory designs using cans, recycled plastic bags and water  hyacinth.  Gladiz  May  Latiza,  public  relations  officer  of  SM  City  Marilao, said  the  “green  exhibit  fortifies  the  campaign of strengthening creativeness and skillful exploration of repurposing recycled materials.”   The Philippine Plastic Industry Association featured plastic bags “repurposed” into bags, accessories and  chairs while Capeez showcased unique green fashion as they turned can pull‐tabs into fashionable neck 

pieced and  bags  while  water hyacinths  or  water  lilies  were  woven  and  fashioned into  shoes,  bags,  baskets, and file folders.   Turning trash to works of art was the exhibit presented by Jojo Cruz, who made miniature robots and  dinosaurs  out  of  recycled  materials  while  the  Department  of  Education’s Alternative  Learning  System  students showcased recycled materials  transformed into new furniture pieces.  Martin Francisco, SSMESI chairman, told the BusinessMirror that their Earth Day outreach program was  "designed  for  stakeholders  to feel  for  themselves  the  natural  freedom  felt  by  indigenous  people  on  their ancestral domain surrounded by lush forest and see the effect of progressive human activities on  it."  It also aims to teach alternative livelihoods to the indigenous peoples of Bulacan so as to provide funds  to sustain the schooling of Dumagat students wanting to reach higher education, Francisco said.  In their two‐day visit to the Ipo and Angat watersheds, Francisco said they documented several patches  of ongoing forest fires.  “Almost a month has passed since we raised our concerns to government agencies but we have not yet  received any concrete reply about it,” Francisco said, adding that the forest fires were not only intended  for kaingin (slash‐and ‐burn farming) but also to make charcoal from the small trees and lumber out of  the big logs.  He said they believe the main objective in the deliberate slash‐and‐burn farming is for the kaingeros to  gain  “rights”  on  the burnt  forest  area  so  that  they  can  have  a  contract  for  the  National  Greening Program  (NGP)  of  the  national  government  that  would  provide  them  a  chance  to have  a  source of income in the reforestation contract of the program.   “The NGP is not a solution for the livelihood program of upland farmers or landless families in a forest‐ protected area since it will only induce more deliberate forest fires in the watershed areas because of  the reforestation speculations,” Francisco said.  Instead,  Francisco  recommended  that  concerned  government  agencies  help  informal  settlers  who  are  not indigenous peoples inside the watershed areas be relocated back to their own provinces.‐advocate‐reports‐forest‐fires‐ hit‐bulacan‐as‐environmentalists‐celebrate‐earth‐day     

De Lima meets Napoles SEARCH FOR TRUTH By Ernesto M. Maceda (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 24, 2014 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0 Justice Secretary Leila de Lima met with Janet Lim-Napoles for five hours at the Ospital ng Makati last Monday night. Napoles signed a statement at the end of the interview. This gives some truth to De Lima’s statement that Napoles would make a better state witness than Gigi Reyes. Since Janet Napoles has decided to tell all, it is up to De Lima and Ombudsman Carpio Morales to accept her as a state witness. Will she tell all, including the congressional allies of President Aquino, or will she toe the De Lima line selecting only the opposition leaders to be charged? The final decision will be with the Sandiganbayan. De Lima, in an ABS-CBN interview, revealed that Napoles has submitted a new affidavit naming other senators and congressmen besides Senators Enrile, Estrada, and Revilla as recipients of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) kickbacks. De Lima said that up to now there has been no indication shown by Gigi Reyes to turn state witness. On the other hand, Gigi submitted an 83-page affidavit saying that her signatures on ten letters to executive officials have been forged. She also said that Benhur Luy’s testimony is hearsay. Malacañang ruled out Gigi Reyes as a state witness. Napoles was assisted by her lawyer Atty. Bruce Rivera. Estrada in Hong Kong Mayor Joseph Estrada left for Hong Kong (HK) to deliver a written apology to the HK chief executive and to pay HK$20 million as compensation for the eight victims and other wounded Hong Kong nationals. Accompanying Estrada is Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, which indicates that Estrada’s trip was authorized by President Aquino. Several Manila councilors were in the Estrada party, which was covered by ABS-CBN and Hong Kong media.

Self denial In his Easter message, President Aquino said that the country is recovering from corruption and poverty. That’s highly debatable, considering the new cases of corruption covering out in the Philippine National Police (PNP), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), Department of Agriculture (DA), and the local governments. Social Weather Stations (SWS) reports that cronyism is a serious problem under the Aquino administration. There have been consistent surveys reporting high poverty and hunger figures. Also, the consistent consensus of international agencies of the lack of inclusive growth. UP Professor Luz Briones reported that the number of unemployed Filipinos has reached 3.66 million. Binay gets record of 87% Vice President Jejomar Binay got an approval ratings of 87 percent in the March 2014 Pulse Asia Survey, up seven ticks from 80 percent in December 2013. In contrast, President Aquino’s approval rating declined to 70 percent, down by three percentage points from 73 percent last December. His trust rating declined to 69 percent from 74 percent while Binay’s surged to 86 percent from 77 percent in December 2013. Binay’s record of approval and trust ratings puts him solidly in the lead for the presidential race in 2016. Senate President Franklin Drilon’s approval rating went up to 58 percent from 43 percent last December. This makes him a dark horse for the Liberal Party (LP) presidential nomination if Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas’ ratings do not improve. Surveys have shown Roxas 20 points behind Binay. House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.’s ratings declined. Breakdowns As we landed at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and read the newspapers, we were greeted again with another MRT breakdown and a breakdown of air conditioning units at NAIA 1. Again, the simple question: Why they were not repaired the last four years? We also read another bus accident in Camarines Sur, with 5 dead and 15 wounded; 31 people died, 129 wounded in accidents during the Holy Week. Meanwhile, a water shortage has been felt in most parts of Metro Manila. A power shortage is also probable during May and June.

MILF rebels join Abu Sayyaf AFP Chief of Staff Emmanuel Bautista announced that Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels joined the Abu Sayyaf in a clash with government troops in Basilan. Gadzali Jaafar, MILF vice chairman for political affairs, confirmed the 4 MILF casualties and asked for an investigation. This is not the first time that MILF rebels joined Abu Sayyaf forces in Basilan. This is definitely a violation of the truce agreement with the MILF. The MILF should be held accountable Meanwhile, chief negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer reported that there have been 23 kidnappings in Mindanao this year. She asked the MILF to help stop the kidnappings. Tidbits: Movie columnist Ricky Lo reported that Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista has broken off his relationship with Presidential sister Kris Aquino. Hooray! The Supreme Court issued a new temporary restraining order (TRO) on the proposed Meralco December rate hikes. Meanwhile, Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is set to approve a .41 centavo rate hike. Senator Bam Aquino revealed that the Philippines has the slowest internet speed in Asia, with only 3.52 Megabits per second (Mbps). Singapore is number one, with 65.6 Mbps. The Philippines also has the highest internet charges. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) was unable to finish the EDSA road blocking project, which started during the Holy Week. DPWH is asking for an extension of time to complete the project. Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino asked the contractors to explain the delay. Seven more bodies were recovered in Tacloban, bringing the Yolanda death toll to 6,300. Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII will be canonized at the Vatican on Sunday, April 27. A big Filipino delegation is expected to attend the canonization rites.‐lima‐meets‐napoles          

Small lenders have a role to play in a financially integrated Asean Category: Banking & Finance   23 Apr 2014   Written by Bianca Cuaresma   Regional leaders are taking action to make sure that smaller players will not be devoured by larger banks  in the region when the proposed Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Banking Integration will  be fully implemented in a few years, a senior monetary official said.   Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor for the Monetary Stability Sector Diwa Guinigundo,  who also sits as the Philippines’s representative to the Asean banking integration committee, said that  member‐states  are  continuously  looking  into  formulating  guidelines  that  would  shield  smaller  banks  from “domination” once the regional integration of banks takes hold.    “Cross  border  banking  integration  does  not  exclude  the  possibility  that  domestic  banking  markets  will  eventually be dominated by foreign banks,” Guinigundo said.   “There  are  recent  concerns  for  making  the  ABIF  Guidelines  more  meaningful  and  beneficial  across  Asean  and not to favor only the bigger banking players,” he added.  As  such,  regional  leaders  who  draft  the  regulations  of  the  upcoming  regional  integration  of  banks  put  their  focus  on  the  principles  of  reciprocity  and  bilateralism  in  creating  the  rules  for  the  banking  integration in the region.    “The  challenge  is  to  build  a  framework  that  takes  into  consideration  domestic  conditions  and  encourages efforts toward reducing existing restrictions. In this context, Asean member‐states continue  their work in drafting the guidelines for the Asean Banking Integration Framework,” Guinigundo said.  “Economies of scale will tend to dictate the rules of the game. The risk of domination suggests that the  rule of integration should consider domestic preconditions—for example, allowing member‐states with  less developed banking institutions to liberalize market access of foreign banks to their domestic market  at a slower pace,” he added.  Reciprocity, according to Guinigundo will allow for parallel set of market access and flexibilities between  home and host countries. This means that if a certain bank from one of the countries in Asean wishes to  implement operations in the Philippines, the country from which the bank came from must also be open  to the entry of Philippine banks in their jurisdiction. 

Bilateralism, meanwhile, will allow negotiations between countries to formulate arrangements that are  mutually acceptable to both parties.  Among  the  other  focal  points  of  the  discussion  on  the  drafting  of  appropriate  guidelines  on  banking  integration,  according  to  Guinigundo,  include  readiness,  capacity‐building  and  financial  stability  infrastructure.  Guinigundo also said the current situation of banking in the region does not yet display full expansion of  Asean commercial banks in other Asean countries.  In the case of the Philippines, Guinigundo said that out of the 676 Philippine domestic banks, only five  universal banks have international presence.‐finance/30985‐small‐lenders‐ have‐a‐role‐to‐play‐in‐a‐financially‐integrated‐asean                         

SC ruling on Hacienda Luisita doesn't favor single group By Dennis Carcamo ( | Updated April 23, 2014 - 4:35pm 8 31 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agrarian Reform on Wednesday clarified that the Supreme Court (SC) decision on the distribution of the Hacienda Luisita estate does not favor any single group. The DAR issued the statement as it belied claims by the Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura that the High Court's decision was in favor solely of Ambala, another farmer's group. DAR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Anthony Parungao said that the SC decision was clear in ordering the distribution of the land to farmer-beneficiaries that meet the requirements or criteria it had set. He added that High Tribunal had ordered the DAR to distribute land to farmworkers of the hacienda in 1989, which the department painstakingly followed. "That was what the Supreme Court asked us to do. There was never any reference in the SC decision to favor any particular farmers' group. It would be grossly unfair to the other groups and farmers which advocated for its distribution, or to the vast majority of unaffiliated beneficiaries, for any one group to claim the land," he said. He also said that the DAR has posted in several public locations the names of persons it had deemed as qualified beneficiaries. The department has even given the different farmworker groups the list. No one, however, formally filed any petition or action for the removal of any beneficiary. Parungao said that the DAR has been engaged in sustained operations to speed up the monumenting of farm lots after the department allocated farmlots to the qualified beneficiaries and subsequently distributed certified true copies of the titles to the land to the identified farmerbeneficiaries in the last quarter of 2013. To date, 87.5 percent of the monumenting work has been completed, he said. Around 6,024 farm lots have been monumented and about 4,716 farmworker-beneficiaries have been installed in more or less 5,500 lots, or almost 76 percent of those in the masterlist, despite reported instances of harassment of survey teams and actual destruction of "mohons" by those opposed to the DAR effort.

The DAR is confident that the remaining 860 lots will be monumented shortly, and that the remaining farmer-beneficiaries will be installed by next month, barring any further acts of harassment or obstruction, he said. Parungao also said that the DAR is assisting farmer-beneficiaries in the 10 barangays of the Hacienda Luisita estate in voluntarily organizing themselves to enable them to better access support services and credit so that they can immediately work on their land. Some 1,187 beneficiaries have already participated in preliminary organizing activities and are now members of these newly-formed farmers organizations, he said. "Upon the registration of their CLOAs (certificate land ownership awards), the farmworkerbeneficiaries became the actual owners of their individual parcel of lands. As owners, these beneficiaries are free to determine what they want to do with the same, subject only to the limitations provided by the law,"Parungao said.‐ruling‐hacienda‐luisita‐doesnt‐favor‐single‐ group                          

Filipinos saw China blocking fishermen from shoal By Jim Gomez (Associated Press) | Updated April 23, 2014 - 4:36am

A Filipino protester holds placards with slogans during a rally outside the Chinese consulate at the financial district of Makati, south of Manila, Philippines on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. The group is demanding an end to China's alleged incursions in the South China Sea and to press the Chinese government to respect the arbitral process under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) MANILA — Chinese coast guard vessels repeatedly blocked or chased Filipino and Vietnamese fishermen from a disputed shoal where they previously had only tried to block military supply runs, a Philippine marine officer said yesterday. Marine 1st Lt. Mike Pelotera said he and his men saw the fishermen being "bullied" away from the Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea at least eight times from December to March, when his marine monitoring unit was replaced by a new batch. He said he shot a video of a Chinese ship chasing a wooden-hulled Vietnamese fishing boat dangerously close to coral outcrops. Chinese blockades of fishing boats have been reported in other disputed areas, but Pelotera's comments were the first military report of such activity against fishermen trying to venture into Second Thomas Shoal. The Chinese coast guard in recent months has tried to block boats delivering marines and food supplies to a rusting Philippine navy ship deliberately marooned at the shoal since 1999. "It's with a heavy heart that we saw our countrymen being bullied away from our own territory," Pelotera said. "But we're observing a maximum-tolerance policy and we want this dispute to be peacefully resolved."

The 8-kilometer (5-mile) long submerged coral outcrop is a rich fishing area believed to have undersea oil and gas deposits. The Philippines also protested to China when a Chinese government ship fired a water cannon to drive away Filipino fishermen from another disputed region, the Scarborough Shoal north of the Spratlys, in January. In Manila on yesterday, about 80 activists protested at the Chinese consulate, demanding that China stop intruding into Philippine territory in the South China Sea. An activist wrote antiChina slogans using a spray paint on the steps leading to the building housing the consulate. A security officer tried to stop him but was overwhelmed by the activists. Territorial disputes will be a thorny issue when President Barack Obama this week visits Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines, all of which have a dispute with Beijing over islands and waters in the South and East China seas. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other US officials have warned China against the use of military force, but has not taken sides in the territorial rifts.‐saw‐china‐blocking‐fishermen‐shoal                        

Gov’t inks $150-M loan to fund budget By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 24, 2014 - 12:00am 0 3 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The government has signed a $150-million loan agreement to partly fund this year’s general budget requirements particularly for fiscal centralization reform program. In a statement, the Department of Finance said the loan was obtained from Agence Française de Développement (AFD), a French development finance institution. Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima signed the agreement with French Ambassador Gilles Garachon and AFD Country Director Luc Le Cabellec in the presence of European Ambassador Guy Ledoux and National Treasurer Rosalia V. De Leon. The European Union is extending about P300 million (4.8 million euro) worth of loan to strengthen the national Disaster Preparedness Audit (DPA) framework to be implemented by the Department of Interior and Local Government. This project aims to improve local government performance in institutionalizing disaster preparedness policies and monitoring disaster preparedness response, and strengthen the public finance management at the local level. Purisima expressed his appreciation to the French government and the European Union for their valuable and unwavering support to the Philippines, particularly in the achievement of the inclusive growth agenda of the Aquino Administration and in the relief and reconstruction efforts of the government in the areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda. Ambassador Ledoux said “the provisions of this technical assistance reflect, the timely and coordinated assistance that the EU and AFD can jointly provide to the Philippine government to implement disaster risk reduction and management policies. The EU grant will complement emergency contributions of the European Union and its member states for reconstruction in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda.”

US Embassy denies visa-free policy for Filipinos April 23, 2014 (updated)  

The Embassy of United States of America in Manila on Wednesday belied reports that it granted no-visa policy for Filipinos. In a statement posted at its website, it said that there are no changes to its visa policy for Filipinos traveling to the US.

The Embassy of United States of America in Manila on Wednesday belied reports that it granted no-visa policy for Filipinos. (Photo by Embassy of US in Manila) “The Philippines has not been added to the list of countries eligible for participation in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP),” it said. The Embassy of US. also advised the public to only believe official announcements in its website. Meanwhile, the Philippine embassy in Washington D.C. said it has been in touch with the U.S. Department of State which denied making such an announcement. “The Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines would like to inform the public that there is no truth to what appears to be an online news report that the United States has announced a ‘no visa’ policy for Filipinos,” it said. The Philippine Embassy said the online article at Adobo Chronicles that are being shared in social media is a satirical piece that should not be taken seriously. The said website claimed that the U.S. State Department made a “life-changing new policy for Filipinos.”Adobo Chronicles said the new policy came after a recent survey showing that an overwhelming majority of Filipinos have a favorable view of the United States where the Philippines ranked first in a global survey on the image of the U.S. worldwide. It also said that the “no visa” policy came in time for the visit to the Philippines by U.S. President Barack Obama on April 28. (Mary Rose A. Hogaza)

16 CADPI sugar refinery workers now out of danger after toxic shower in Batangas By Doris C. Dumlao Philippine Daily Inquirer 6:54 pm | Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines — The Central Azucarera Don Pedro Inc. (CADPI) assured its stakeholders on Wednesday that the 16 casual workers who were injured in its sugar refinery in Nasugbu, Batangas on Good Friday have all been declared “out of danger.” In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, CADPI’s publicly listed Roxas Holdings Inc. (RHI) also said the group has launched an investigation into the accident. It was earlier reported that the workers suffered burns caused by a toxic chemical accidentally mixed into the water used for cleaning a large steel pipe. The Roxas group also assured the public that it would “continue to uphold the welfare of its employees and partners as it pursues fairness and transparency in all its transactions.” In its disclosure, the RHI said the 16 injured workers were casual employees of Arlo P. Brucal (APB) Construction and General Services. In a statement, RHI President and CEO Renato C. Valencia said workers, who sustained skin burns and suffered eye irritation due to a toxic chemical shower, were “out of danger,” as of Wednesday. “We are glad that all 16 APB casual workers injured in the accident at the plant are now safe and are recovering. Only three remain confined at the Western Batangas Medical Center in Balayan for treatment,” Valencia said. CADPI president and chief operating officer Arcadio Lozada Jr. said the company officials have been ordered to continually monitor the situation of the 16 APB casual workers. “This is the first time that an incident of this nature occurred since CADPI contracted APB to do the regular cleaning of our plant since 1989. Reports showed there was a toxic chemical shower that injured the workers after a valve containing toxic liquid was inadvertently turned on in the

process of cleaning. We will continue to monitor the workers’ situation and provide medical assistance to ensure that they are out of danger,” Lozada said. CADPI officer-in-charge resident manager Simon Turno III said the injured workers were given first aid treatment at CADP Hospital before they were rushed to the hospital in Balayan. “The incident happened at around 6:30 p.m. last Friday at the Boiling House Evaporator Station after some workers allegedly deviated from the regular work flow in order to finish early in time for the observance of the Holy Week,” Turno said. RHI, a bio-sugar and bio-energy company, is the largest integrated sugar business in the Philippines. It manages 100 percent of CADPI in Batangas as well as Central Azucarera de la Carlota, Inc. and Roxol Bioenergy Corporation in La Carlota, Negros Occidental. It also holds a 45 percent stake in affiliate Hawaiian-Philippine Co.

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Drilon: Gov’t needs more lawyers by Hannah Torregoza  April 23, 2014 (updated)  

The government should beef up the country’s cadre of prosecutors if it wants to win the war against criminality and corruption, Senate President Franklin Drilon said. “Our prosecutors play a huge role in bringing the perpetrators of every imaginable crime behind bars, where they rightfully belong,” Drilon said during the 26th National Convention of the Prosecutors League of the Philippines held in Legazpi, Albay. The Senate chief said the magnitude of crime and corruption that the nation faces today must should make the government realize the importance of the role of prosecutors in prosecuting criminals and promoting “the full iron rule of law.” The former justice secretary said he believes that the efficient prosecution of crimes will enforce an effective system of deterrence throughout the land. “When we put these rogues in jail, we send the signal that no one is above the law. We make a strong statement that the law is always on the side of the victims and not on the side of the criminals regardless of their economic and social status,” Drilon said. Prosecutors, he also said, are indispensable in “gaining the trust and confidence of our people in the country’s justice system.” “Our prosecutors play a huge role in bringing the perpetrators of every imaginable crime behind bars, where they rightfully belong,” he said. Congress, he noted, increased the budget for Prosecution Services to P2.6 billion in 2014 from P2.5 billion in 2013. The additional fund was allocated to improve infrastructure of halls of justice, including the repair and improvement of existing courts and prosecutors’ offices. Drilon vowed that the Congress would continue to provide budgetary support for the hiring of prosecutors until the desired ratio of one prosecutor for every regional trial court is achieved. “We expect that support to manifest unto tangible results for the country’s anti-criminal and corruption efforts,” Drilon said.

Meralco rate hike frozen indefinitely by Rey G. Panaligan  April 23, 2014  

Baguio City – The Supreme Court (SC) yesterday extended indefinitely the temporary restraining order (TRO) that stopped the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) from enforcing its December, 2013 rate increase of the P4.15 per kilowatt-hour. The extended TRO also applies to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) which provisionally approved Meralco’s rate increase in an order dated December 9, 2013. With the indefinite extension of the TRO, Meralco cannot charge its consumers more than the rate prevailing before December 9, 2013 until the cases pending with the SC are resolved with finality. In a full court session, the SC also extended indefinitely the TRO on generation companies’ (GenCos’) collection of the adjusted generation charges that led Meralco to increase its rate, as well as against the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) in demanding and collecting the “deferred amounts representing the affected costs based on the matters raised in Meralco’s December 5, 2013 letter.” Malacañang hailed the SC decision, saying it would provide relief to electricity consumers. “We welcome the decision of the Supreme Court that while we wait for a final decision on the case, an extension of the TRO would certainly provide comfort to our countrymen especially at this time when there is more consumption demand during summer,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said. How They Voted In a press statement, SC Spokesman Theodore Te said: “The Court, voting 10-4, issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) effective immediately and until further orders: (a) enjoining ERC from implementing its December 9, 2013 Order and acting further on the letter request of Meralco dated December 5, 2013; and enjoining Meralco, its agents, representatives or persons acting in its place and stead, from increasing the rates it charges to its customers based on the matters it raised in its December 5, 2013 letter; (b) enjoining the generating companies, specifically Masinloc Power Partners Co., Ltd., c/o AES Philippines, San Miguel Energy Corporation, South Premiere Power Corp., First Gas Power Corporation, and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines from demanding and collecting the deferred amounts representing the affected costs based on the matters raised in Meralco’s December 5, 2013 letter; and (c) enjoining the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation from demanding and collecting the deferred amounts representing the affected costs based on the matters raised in Meralco’s December 5, 2013 letter.”

Those who voted to extend indefinitely the three TROs were: Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno, Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio, and Justices Presbitero J. Velasco Jr., Teresita J. Leonardo De Castro, Mariano C. del Castillo, Martin S. Villarama Jr., Jose Porgtugal Perez, Jose Catral Mendoza, Bienvenido L. Reyes, and Marvic Mario Victor F. Leonen. Those who dissented were: Justices Arturo D. Brion, Diosdado M. Peralta, Lucas P. Bersamin, and Roberto A. Abad. Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe inhibited herself. The first TRO against Meralco’s rate increase was issued by the SC on December 23, 2013 and valid for 60 days. Before the lapse of the 60-day period, the SC extended the TRO on February 18, 2014 and valid for another 60 days. It was also on February 18, 2014 when the SC issued its TRO against the GenCos and PEMC and also valid for 60 days. In a motion filed by electricity consumers and several members of party-list groups in Congress, the SC was asked to extend the TROs, not only for 60 days, but indefinitely until the issues raised in several petitions filed with the High Court have been resolved with finality. In seeking an indefinite extension of the TRO, the petitioners stated that “if the TRO is not extended after April 22, Meralco will be allowed to collect the assailed P4.15 per kwh rate hike from its customers, the highest so far in Philippine history.” “Electric consumers are already suffering from so many burdens that it is imperative that the SC extend this temporary relief or better yet declare the proposed outrageous power rate hike as illegal and the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) as unconstitutional,” ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio said. Meralco Petition Meralco had earlier asked the SC to lift immediately the TRO against its rate increase. It told the SC that the adjustment on the generation charge was merely passed on to it by the country’s power producers who should be blamed for the rate hike. Meralco had attributed the abrupt increase in the generation cost to supposed maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya facility that supplies natural gas to three major power plants – Ilijan, San Lorenzo and Sta Rita – which supply an aggregate capacity of 2,700 megawatt of electricity to its franchise area. It also said that the shutdown of Malampaya coincided with the scheduled maintenance of two other plants, Pagbilao 2 and Sual 1, which also collectively contribute over 950 MW to its requirements.On December 9, 2013, the ERC approved a provisional P4.15 per kilowatt- hour based on Meralco’s letter-petition dated December 5, 2013. (With a report from Genalyn D. Kabiling)

SC order on Meralco rate hike seen to diminish inflation risks By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 24, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The latest Supreme Court decision extending the stay order against Manila Electric Co.’s planned power rate hike will diminish the upside risks to inflation, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said yesterday. Tetangco told reporters in a text message the recent SC decision is not seen affecting the BSP’s inflation forecast for the year. “Our latest baseline forecasts did not consider the power rate hike that is under the SC TRO (temporary restraining order). But we flag it is as an upside risk, given the uncertainty surrounding its resolution,” Tetangco said. “Thus the forecasts are not affected but this will help lower upside risks – all things remaining the same,” he continued. In March, the central bank revised its inflation forecast for 2014 to 4.2 percent, slower than the 4.3 percent projection announced in February. It was lower than the 4.5 percent announced in December due to the delay in the implementation of Meralco’s electricity rate adjustment. However, the forecast is still above the midpoint of the BSP’s three-to five-percent target range. During the BSP’s last policy setting meeting last month, Tetangco said inflation expectations for this year until the next have remained manageable although the central bank continues to be watchful of potential price pressures. Upside risks to inflation were identified to be Meralco’s petition for electricity rate adjustment and possible increases in food and oil prices.

Inflation eased to 3.9 percent in March from 4.1 percent in February due to lower price increases seen in housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels. This brought the three-month average to 4.1 percent, still above the midpoint of the central bank’s target range. The BSP said it will be mindful of shifts in monetary policy settings in other economies, geopolitical risks, and world economic growth prospects that may have an impact on domestic inflation.                                  

Wildlife bureau chief recommends returning large croc to wild By DJ Yap Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:36 pm | Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

LARGEST FRESHWATER CROC “Malang,” a Philippine freshwater crocodile caught by fishermen in M’lang,North Cotabato province, is believed the largest of its kind in captivity. WILLIAMOR A. MAGBANUA/INQUIRER MINDANAO MANILA, Philippines—The crocodile named Malang will not be a tourist attraction. Wildlife authorities have recommended the release back to the wild of the 2.18-meter Philippine freshwater crocodile, which is believed to be the largest of its kind to have been captured. Biodiversity Management Bureau Director Theresa Mundita Lim said her agency, following consultations with scientific experts, would advise local officials to free the reptile that was caught by fishermen in the Liguasan Marsh on April 12. But she added that Malang, named after the town of M’lang in North Cotabato where it was caught, would need first to undergo a series of health tests before it is released into the wild. “Community awareness campaigns” will also be held in the town to make the locals understand the importance of saving endemic species like Malang. “We need to make sure that the communities and LGU are aware of the benefits of the release, so they become true partners in protecting the species in its natural habitat,” Lim said. The beast is believed to be the largest Philippine freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis) ever caught. The critically endangered species can grow to a maximum of 3.05 meters, according to wildlife journals.

Two crocodilian species are found in the Philippines, the Philippine freshwater crocodile, which is endemic to the country, and the Indo-Pacific crocodile, or Crocodylus porosus, which is widely distributed throughout the tropical areas of Asia and the Pacific. The Philippine croc is a relatively small species compared to its Indo-Pacific cousin, which can grow up to several meters. The 6.09-meter “Lolong,” the world’s largest captive crocodile found in the Agusan Marsh but which died of pneumonia and cardiac arrest in February last year, was an Indo-Pacific crocodile.

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DTI pushes amendments to Consumer Protection Law By Louella D. Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 24, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is pushing for amendments to the Consumer Protection Law such as higher penalties and measures covering online transactions. Trade Undersecretary Mario Dimagiba told reporters on the sidelines of the 9th Meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Committee for Consumer Protection yesterday the DTI intends to update Republic Act 7394 or the Consumer Act of the Philippines approved in 1992 by introducing amendments. “We are now on the stage of proposing amendments to our Consumer Protection Law like increasing the penalties,” he said. The DTI wants to increase the minimum fine to P50,000 from P500 and the maximum penalty to P1 million from P300,000. Dimagiba said the DTI likewise wants to increase the number of years of imprisonment which is currently at a minimum of six months and maximum of two years. He said the DTI also wants to include online commerce in the law to protect consumers who purchase goods via the Internet. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 “We want to basically put them in the law. We have been receiving a lot of complaints on online commerce, particularly on the very cheap products being sold which seem too good to be true,” he said. Electronic commerce in the Philippines started as a business about five years ago. “There is a loophole that is why we want to improve on that,” Dimagiba said. The DTI expects to submit the first draft of the proposed amendments to the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship by next week. In a related development, Dimagiba said the ASEAN Committee for Consumer Protection has nearly completed its commitments for next year noting that all members have already put in place their respective consumer protection law.

Beyond 2015, he said the ASEAN Committee of Consumer Protection intends to come up with an online redress and complaint mechanism for the region. “We have a website already,, where any citizen can complain on any consumer transaction while they are visiting the ASEAN. They can just log on to the website,” he said.‐pushes‐amendments‐consumer‐ protection‐law                                        

Greenpeace urges gov’t to decide on where to dump electronic wastes (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 24, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines - Greenpeace is urging Malacañang to decide on where to dump used electronic products, saying they contain toxic chemicals and heavy metals that cannot be disposed of or recycled properly in the country. Abigail Aguilar, toxic campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said this problem can be avoided if only the government and producers of electronic products will cooperate. She said the Environment Management Bureau, an office under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, has been dilly-dallying in deciding where to bring toxic used products like plychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), a toxic waste now dumped at various power plants, includingthe moothballed Sucat Thermal Power Plant. She said toxic chemicals threaten our rivers and lakes, our air, land, and oceans, and ultimately ourselves and our future. She added that the production, trade, use, and release of many synthetic chemicals is now widely recognised as a global threat to human health and the environment. Aguilar said the best solution is to oblige the manufacturers of these toxic-carrying products to buy out their used products, or ship them to a country where there is an existing waste treatment plant. At present, the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) is bidding out the Sucat power plant. It is expected to announce the winning bidder soon. The contenders are Genitron which gave the highest bid, and Globecare which plans to export the toxic wastes generated by the Sucat power plant, including contaminated equipment, to Switzerland. Globecare said it is cheaper and safer to export the PCBs instead of treating them at a toxic plant in Bataan, which was completed in 2010, but up to now has yet to operate in full swing. It added that even developed countries opted to export them to Switzerland instead of maintaining a treatmenf facility.  

Caramoan declared mining-free zone By Juan Escandor Jr. Inquirer Southern Luzon 12:09 am | Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Lahuy Island INQUIRER FILE PHOTO NAGA CITY—Less than a month after four small-scale miners were shot and killed on Lahuy Island in Caramoan, Camarines Sur, the provincial board approved an ordinance declaring Caramoan a “quarrying and mining-free zone.” The ordinance, authored by Board Member Amador Simando and promulgated on April 11, cited destructive effects on the environment as reason for the ban on all forms of quarrying and mining operations. But it allows exemption for quarrying in areas covered by permits already issued by the provincial government to clear clogged water systems, flood drainage, and for extracting boulders, rocks, sand and gravel for construction materials for domestic purposes. Violators will be punished with imprisonment not exceeding one year or fines not exceeding P5,000, or both, at the discretion of the court. Earlier, officials of Barangay Gata in Lahuy, where the miners were killed on March 22, had asked the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to declare the village a “Minahang Bayan.”

Republic Act No. 7076, or the Act Creating People’s Small-Scale Mining Program (PSSMP), allows for a Minahang Bayan permit to be given to a community upon approval of the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB), which is composed of the MGB regional director as chair, governor as vice chair, and representatives from small-scale and large-scale miners and a nongovernment organization as members.

Theodore Rommel Pestaño, director of MGB in Bicol, said that in cases of conflict between enacted laws, the national law would prevail over the local ordinance and a compromise must be reached. Pestaño said the processing of a permit for the Minahang Bayan in Gata was continuing while deficiencies in documentary requirements were still being prepared. He said, however, that the PMRB had yet to convene to decide on Gata’s request. The MGB official said he had learned about the provincial ordinance from Governor Miguel Luis Villafuerte, who called him up. Section 6 of the ordinance authorizes the provincial board to declare and set aside people’s small-scale mining areas in on-shore sites, subject to a review by the environment secretary. The ordinance cited several laws as bases for declaring Caramoan a mining and quarrying-free zone. Proclamation No. 291, issued on July 20, 1938, established the Caramoan National Park, while Proclamation No. 651 (Sept. 14, 1995) adopted Bicol’s tourism plan. Republic Act No. 9445 declared the islands of Lahuy, Cotivas, Guinahuan, Luksuhin, Malibagan and Masag in Caramoan as tourist zones. Moreover, Executive Order No. 79, series of 2013, declared tourism development areas and other critical areas as island ecosystems closed to mining applications.

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Mt. Banahaw visitors down to only 3,000— DENR Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:07 am | Thursday, April 24th, 2014 LUCENA CITY—From more than half a million pilgrims and trekkers who climbed Mount Banahaw on Holy Week a decade ago, the number of Lenten visitors last week was down to 3,000, an official of the Department and Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said on Wednesday. “The low figure is a welcome development. It would further boost our protection and rehabilitation campaign for Mount Banahaw,” Salud Pangan, DENR park area superintendent for Banahaw and adjacent Mount San Cristobal, said over the phone from her base in Dolores town at the foot of the mystical mountain. Pangan noted the declining number of climbers since 2004 when Mt. Banahaw was closed for rehabilitation from long years of human abuse and destruction. She based her figures on entries in the DENR recording area in Barangay Kinabuhayan and Sta. Lucia in Dolores and the P20 entrance tickets taken from visitors. Pangan attributed the trend to the public education and information campaign waged by the DENR, municipalities surrounding Mt. Banahaw and media.

The figures would further slide next year once the “no permit-no entry” rule is implemented, she said. The rule was adopted by the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) in a meeting last month. The PAMB, a multisectoral agency created by law to keep watch over the protected area, decided to maintain Mt. Banahaw’s “multiple use zone” open to the public but with more stringent sanctions, including heavier fines and stiffer penalties for violators. Mountain peaks classified as “strict protection zone”—where the more revered “holy spots” are found—will remain off-limits to pilgrims and trekkers. Visitors will be allowed to stay for only two nights and one day at the camping area, the PAMB said in its resolution. They must first secure permits from the PAMB office a week before arrival. The agency will collect a P100 fee for each tent for a whole-day stay and P150 more for an overnight stay.

Last week, PAMB and DENR personnel and volunteers distributed flyers on the new rules to inform pilgrims, mountaineers and nature trippers on the new restrictions and how to apply for permits to stay in the designated camping areas. Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon

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Gov’t targets raising forest cover to 30% by Ellalyn De Vera  April 23, 2014  

The Philippine government is bent on increasing the country’s forest cover to 30 percent by 2016, as it depends much on forests for food, water, clothing, shelter, and medicine, among others. Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary for Field Operations Demetrio Ignacio Jr. said the country already recovered lost forests, citing that the remaining forest cover is only 24 percent of total land area, the second lowest in Southeast Asia. “We depend much on our forests, for the quality of air that we breathe; the amount and quality of our water; for our food, clothing, shelter, medicines, and everyday things that we use. For so long, we have neglected our forests,” Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje said in his speech read by Ignacio during the celebration of Earth Day at the Quezon Memorial Circle Tuesday. Paje is in The Hague, Netherlands to attend the Global Ocean Action Summit for Food Security slated from April 22 to 25. “To stop the depletion of our forests, our President has imposed a logging ban in all natural forests nationwide, the first in our history. Together with intensified enforcement, we were able to apprehend and confiscate 25.5 million board feet of illegally-cut and processed forest products,” Ignacio said. “From these, we have been able to produce more than 146,000 school chairs and desks and repaired 338 school buildings. We have filed 1,233 cases in courts, with 186 persons so far convicted. As a result, the number of illegal logging hotspots nationwide was reduced by 84 percent, from 197 municipalities to 31 municipalities,” he added. Under the government’s massive reforestation project called “National Greening Program” (NGP) which began in 2010, the DENR aims to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares in six years. For the past three years, Ignacio reported that the agency has planted in more than 683,000 hectares with roughly 400 million trees. “This is equivalent to what we planted the previous 23 years,” he said. “This year, our target is to plant roughly 200 million trees in 400,000 hectares. By the end of this year, we would have planted more than one million hectares,” he added. Ignacio expressed confidence that by the end of the program, “we would have reversed our forest situation in which we will have more forest areas than degraded areas and will increase our forest cover from 24 percent to 30 percent of our land area.” “Our new forests would eventually absorb an additional 38 million tons of carbon in the atmosphere every year,” he added. He noted that the recent report of the United Nations-led Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicated that without reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the impacts from warming could get out of control. “If greenhouse gases continue to rise, global temperature will increase 3.5 to 4 degrees centigrade by the 21st century, double the target increase of 2 degrees centigrade,” Ignacio

pointed out. “This has serious implications for the Philippines considering that we are one of the most vulnerable countries on the impact of climate change. We need to strengthen our adaptation measures and contribute more to climate change mitigation,” he said. Earth Day is celebrated every year on April 22. The first Earth Day, conceived by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970, marked the beginning of the modern environmental movement. Forty-four years later, Earth Day is celebrated by over 190 countries worldwide, including the Philippines by virtue of Proclamation No. 553 issued on April 16, 1990 by then-President Corazon C. Aquino.


DA imposes provisional tariff on Turkish flour By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 24, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture (DA) has imposed provisional antidumping duties on Turkish flour, having found positive cases of dumping by importers. “The Department of Agriculture found, after preliminary determination, an affirmative finding of dumping on the petition filed by PAFMIL for the imposition of anti-dumping duty against imported wheat flour originating from Turkey,” said the DA in an order published yesterday. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala signed the order last Monday, the order becomes and is effective 15 days from date of publication in two major newspapers. To be imposed in addition to the seven percent regular import duty on flour is a provisional duty of 35 percent on hard flour used for making bread, 39.26 percent on biscuit bread, and 35.21 percent on soft flour which is used for pastries and cookies. The provisional import duty would be imposed for four months while the Tariff Commission conducts a formal investigation to determine if a permanent anti-dumping duty should be imposed. The period of investigation for the determination of dumping activities covered import transactions from Jan. 1 to Dec. 21, 2012 Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 “However, for the injury determination, the period covered were for the years 2010-2013,” the order said. The imposition of a provisional anti-dumping duty stemmed from a petition filed by the Philippine Association of Flour Millers Inc. (PAFMIL) claiming that local flour could not compete with Turkish flour which are sold in the country at dumping prices. PAFMIL represents large local flour manufacturers RFM Corp., Liberty Flour Mills, Wellington Flour Mills, Universal Robina Corp., General Milling Corp., Philippine Four Mills and Pilmico Foods Corp. Dumping occurs when a country exports a commodity at prices lower than its domestic prices. As of November 2012, Turkish flour is sold in the Philippines at $348 per metric ton (MT) against a domestic price of $470 per MT.

Flour is sold to bakers at P700 to $750 per 25 kilogram bag against a price of P750 to P900 per 25 kg bag for locally-milled flour. Indonesia, in 2012, also imposed a 20-percent safeguard duty on Turkish flour. “The decision made by the DA to impose dumping duty on Turkish flour is pro-Filipino, pro-fair trade and pro-Philippine labor which is in danger of losing their livelihood to Turkish laborers producing flour products dumped in the Philippines,” said PAFMIL in a statement yesterday. “But we still have to work to get the dumping duty implemented, knowing fully well the situation at the Bureau of Customs,” PAFMIL added.‐imposes‐provisional‐tariff‐turkish‐flour                                    

Organic pigs are more profitable by Zac Sarian  April 23, 2014  

Many hog raisers in the country are complaining that piggery is no longer a profitable business because of the high cost of feeds. One fellow, however, is not complaining. He produces his own fermented feeds at a low cost and says there is big profit in hog raising – if you raise them the organic way. The fellow is Jess Domingo who runs the Domingo Ranch in Alfonso Lista, Ifugao. Jess opted to retire in 2004 from a corporate giant as a financial officer after reaching the age of 50 so he can indulge in his passion for farming and culinary art.

HE PRODUCES HIS OWN PIGLETS – Jess Domingo finds it much profitable to produce his own piglets in  his organic pig production. He said that if he buys his piglets from the outside, he would spend P2,500  for one. By producing his own, his cost is only about P675 per head. Photo shows his mother pig that has  given birth to 10 piglets which he will fatten to about 80 kilos using his own feed formulation which is  about P9.50 per kilo compared to P28 for commercial feed available in the market. 

IN PURSUIT OF HIS PASSION - At first he put up a culinary school in Metro Manila and at the same time operated the Domingo Ranch stocked with high-grade Brahmans. His culinary school was profitable but it required a lot of time so that he did not have enough time to attend to his cattle. And while he was making money in his culinary school, the owner of the place was asking for a raise in rent every time. It was time he had to give up the culinary school and devote his full time to farming.

TURNING POINT - In 2011, he decided to attend a seminar on organic farming offered by Ronald Costales who has a prize-winning organic farm in Majayjay, Laguna. His main intention then was to look for a good forage crop for his cattle. After attending the seminar, he was no longer as interested in a good forage crop. He was more interested in the idea of organic farming and set aside a five-hectare area for organic farming in his farm. Sharp as he is in business, he knew his product could not be the same as that of Costales who specializes in salad greens. Alfonso Lista is too far from the Metro Manila market for salad greens that are delicate to transport. So he decided to raise pigs the organic way that he learned from Costales. RIGHT PROJECT - Raising organic pigs is the right project for him for one very good reason. Pork is expensive in Isabela, his target market, which is just right across the border. At the time of our interview (April 6), he said the going price was P125 per kilo liveweight. And as he has actually found out, producing pork the organic way is very profitable even if there is no premium for such pork in his target market. (Actually, earlier in 2002 while he was still a corporate executive, he tried to raise pigs the conventional way in his ranch but gave that up because he lost money due to the high cost of feeds.) THE ACTUAL COST – In his own experience, he can fatten a piglet to 90 kilos liveweight using his own feed formulation at a cost of feeds totaling P3,500. His other costs are the cost of the piglet, labor, water and utilities. Because he produces his own weanlings, the cost per head is only P675 compared to P2,500 when sourced from outside farms. Jess places the total cost of producing a 90-kilo fattened hog in a period of 5.5-6 months at P5,375. This is broken down to P3,500 for feeds, P675 for the weanling, P500 for labor and P700 for water and electricity. He currently sells his 90-kilo hog at P125 per kilo, which means P11,250. That means a profit of P5,875 per head. That’s more than the cost of production. CHEAP FEEDS – How come his feeds cost only P9.50 per kilo while the conventional commercial feed in the market is P28 per kilo? He has very cheap ingredients. In one batch of feeds for his fatteners, he uses 50 kilos of D1 (fine) rice bran that costs P9 per kilo; 5 kg soya at P32 per kilo; 7 kg copra at P12 per kilo; 15 kg water hyacinth (better known here as water lily) which he collects from his own pond; 0.5 kg salt and 0.5 kg lime. To these he adds plant extracts (sambong and lagundi). The mixture is then fermented inside tightly covered plastic drums for 15 days before feeding. The cost per kilo comes out to be P9.50. NO FOUL ODOR – Jess Domingo’s piggery does not have the usual foul odor found in conventional piggeries. Instead of cemented flooring, the flooring in Domingo’s piggery is one-

meter deep rice hull. The pigs are not bathed at all but they are clean. The piggery does not have foul smell because it is regularly sprayed with EM activated solution which is cheap. TRAINING FARMERS – Through the prodding of the provincial agriculturist in Ifugao, Jess has been conducting seminars on organic pig production for farmers and entrepreneurs. The problem of most farmers is that they don’t have access to some of the ingredients in formulating their own feeds. Jess thinks that if the farmers can have access to ready-mixed fermented feeds, more would go into organic pork production. And that is the reason why he is thinking of putting up a feed mill for the same. Costales has a model for that which he can copy. FREE-RANGE CHICKEN – Jess also has free-range chickens. At first, he raised chickens for meat. However, market was a problem for broilers in his place. There is however a market for organic eggs and that is why he is concentrating on that now. He has enclosed his 40 calamansi trees for the chickens. They don’t only provide eggs for Jess to sell at P8 to P10 per piece. They also make the calamansi trees healthy and fruitful because of their manure. COSTALES TO HELP IN MARKETING – Ronald Costales who has established a growing clientele for organic farm produce is encouraging Jess to produce more organic pork and eggs. He said he could market his pork and eggs in Manila. Another product that one of Ronald’s customers is looking for is grass-fed beef. Maybe, that could be another project for Jess to undertake.‐pigs‐are‐more‐profitable/                   

PH banks not ready for Asean integration S&P says ‘overcrowding’ a major challenge  By Michelle V. Remo  Philippine Daily Inquirer  

Standard & Poor’s said it believed that banks in the Philippines were not yet prepared for the tougher competition that would result from the integration of Southeast Asian economies. In one of its latest publications, S&P said banks in the country, although profitable and stable, have a much smaller business scale compared with their counterparts in the region. The credit-rating firm said that Philippine banks might find it difficult to preserve market share with the free entry of foreign competition that would follow the regional integration. “We believe banks [in the Philippines] will have to walk a thin line to preserve market share while pursuing profitable expansion as Asean 2015 draws closer,” S&P said in the report titled “The Philippines’ Banking System: The Good, the Bad and the Ambivalent.” The 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) have agreed to integrate their economies with the aim of boosting economic activities, job creation and incomes. The target is to realize the integration by 2015, although policymakers in the region have agreed that the process could be extended through 2020. S&P said that even the biggest banks in the Philippines were small compared with the likes of CIMB and Maybank of Malaysia or DBS and United Overseas Bank of Singapore.

One of the challenges facing Philippine banks is overcrowding, according to S&P. Since there were too many players in the country’s banking sector, industry members could not scale up their businesses. Although the number of banks in the country has been on a decline over the last few years, it remained big compared with regional standards. “We believe greater scale is essential for banks to deal with the more intense incoming competition. Even the largest domestic banks are relatively small compared with banks in Singapore and Malaysia,” S&P said. As of September 2013, there were 676 banks in the Philippines. Thirty-six were universal and commercial banks, 71 were thrift banks, and 569 were rural banks.

Another problem confronting Philippine banks was the heavy concentration of credit to the corporate sector. This makes the stability of banks highly dependent on the performance of their big borrowers. S&P noted that as of the end of last year, 82.7 percent of loan portfolio of banks was accounted for by credit extended to corporate entities and that consumer loans accounted for a much smaller portion. Out of the loans to the corporate sector, a substantial chunk was accounted for by large conglomerates. “The Philippine banking system is heavily skewed toward corporate lending. Systemic risks also are heightened because the conglomerates account for a sizable share of bank capital,” S&P said. It noted, nonetheless, that default by a conglomerate was highly unlikely at this point. Meantime, S&P said that pending the Asean integration, banks in the Philippines were expected to continue reaping the benefits of a growing economy. Read more:‐banks‐not‐ready‐for‐asean‐ integration#ixzz2zlwqAqnh   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook                             

Banks allowed to use ‘cloud’ Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:04 am | Thursday, April 24th, 2014 The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has given banks the go-ahead to adopt “cloud” technology as a means to safeguard customer-related and other data amid risks of natural disasters. BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla on Wednesday said that banks in the country could now upgrade their information technology systems into one that involved the use of cloud technology. Cloud technology allows storage of data on the Internet. Often referred to as “the cloud,” it is a service wherein a third-party firm provides clients with computing resources such as servers, networking, storage and data center space for a fee. As such, damage or destruction of computer facilities due to natural disasters or other causes need not lead to a disruption of business operation. “One advantage of that technology is data recovery in case of disasters,” Espenilla said at the sidelines of a forum organized by Microsoft and the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (Finex).

He cited the case of banks in central Visayas that were hit by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in November. The affected banks, many of which were rural banks, had a difficult time recovering data because of the resulting damage to their information-storage systems. Another advantage of cloud technology is its ability to reduce the cost of data storage and Espenilla said this would improve the competitiveness of small banks. “The technology provides smaller financial institutions the ability to compete with bigger ones,” he said. He said that having a reliable IT system was one of the regulatory requirements banks had to meet. The official, however, said banks were required to conduct the necessary due-diligence when adopting cloud technology. Michelle V. Remo

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Osmeña opposes CA nod for BSP chief Written by Ed Velasco Thursday, 24 April 2014 00:00

A day after former Budget secretary Benjamin Diokno reiterated his suggestion to subject for confirmation of the Commission of Appointments (CA) the next governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), a member of the CA bucked the call. Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, CA senior member, replied “no” to The Daily Tribune when asked if he supports the move to have the next governor of the BSP to undergo scrutiny of the powerful body whose members are from Senate and House of Representatives. “(He) would be politicized,” Osmeña, who is also the vice chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, said. The CA is a very powerful body composed of 12 senators and 12 congressmen as members plus the Senate president as chairman. The CA is an independent body that doesn’t give or ask permission from any branches of government when it approves or disapproves any appointee. It can be recalled that Diokno suggested that the next governor of the BSP be subjected to CA confirmation to assure that the man who will serve for six years will be a joint choice of the president and Congress. According to the senator, the Constitution and the BSP charter mandate that the governor of the central bank should not undergo CA confirmation.‐opposes‐ca‐nod‐for‐bsp‐chief             

Court orders COA not to disallow 14thmonth bonus By Rey E. Requejo | Apr. 24, 2014 at 12:01am The Supreme Court has issued a temporary restraining order that stopped the Commission on Audit from enforcing its notice of disallowance on the payment of the 14th month bonus of the officers and employees who were hired after July 1, 1989 by Duty Free Philippines Corporation. In a resolution, the SC granted the plea of the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel in behalf of DFPC against COA Chairperson Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan and Commissioner Heidi Mendoza. “Acting on the motion for issuance of temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction dated March 25, 2014 filed by the OGCC (Office of the Government Corporate Counsel) for the petitioner, the Court resolved to grant the motion and issue the temporary restraining order prayed for, effective immediately and continuing until further orders from this Court, restraining the Commission on Audit from executing the appealed COA decision 2011-059,” the resolution stated. Covered by the TRO was the COA ruling, which stated “DFPC employees who have been receiving the 14th month bonus as of July 1, 1989, the effectivity date of the Salary Standardization Law, shall continue to receive the same but those hired after July 1, 1989 shall not be entitled to the bonus.” In its petition, the DFPC –- formerly Duty Free Philippines -- is obligated to continuously pay the 14th-month bonus of its employees and officers, including those hired after July 1, 1989. The government-owned firm said that COA overlooked the fact that all the employees hired by DFPC whether before or after July 1, 1989 were all given compensation packages and benefits comparable to those received by employees of the private sector and not of the government whose salaries and benefits are subject to the limitations of the Salary Standardization Law. “There is no basis for the July 1, 1989 cut-off period considering that all the employees hired by DFPS to work at DFP are similarly situated,” the OGCC argued.‐orders‐coa‐not‐to‐disallow‐14th‐month‐ bonus/      

Labor Day fair aims to top 100,000 By Vito Barcelo | Apr. 24, 2014 at 12:01am At least 100,000 positions will be offered in 65 job fairs nationwide on May 1, Labor Day, according to the Department of Labor and Employment. “The 65 job fairs will be simultaneously held nationwide in different venues in 16 regions under the overall supervision of the DOLE,” Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said. The 2014 Labor Day theme, “Sa Sipag, Tiyaga, at Talino, Buong Mundo Saludo sa Manggagawang Pilipino” is part of the government’s Labor Day celebration in recognizing the invaluable contribution of all Filipino workers to the continued growth and resurgence of the Philippine economy, Baldoz said. The 65 job fairs will gather 1,985 employers who will be bringing in 115,384 job vacancies, easily surpassing the close to 100,000 job vacancies registered in last year’s Labor Day job fairs, she said. “As Labor Day approaches, the number of both participating employers and job vacancies are expected to increase, so job seekers of all types from every corner of the archipelago need to prepare to join the 65 job fairs,” she said. Baldoz said that on May 1, 2014, the DOLE will hold 17 job fairs in Metro Manila, including the biggest one at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, where 170 participating local and overseas employers will offer 25,000 vacancies. The other job fairs in the national capital will be held at the following SM Supermalls: North Edsa, Megamall, Valenzuela, Fairview, Novaliches, Manila, San Lazaro, Sta. Mesa, Pasig, Marikina, South Mall, Las Pinas, Sucat, Bicutan, BF Paranaque, and Muntinlupa. There will be two job fairs in Cordillera Administrative Region, one each at the Baguio Convention Center and at SM City Baguio to be joined by 55 employers. In Region 1, the job fairs will be at SM Rosales Mall, Rosales, Pangasinan with 55 employers and 6,000 vacancies and at LGU-Vigan City, Ilocos Sur with 35 employers bringing in 3,500 vacancies. In Region 2, the People’s Gym in Tuguegarao City will host a job fair where 20 employers with 3,500 job vacancies will participate, and another job fair will be held at the City Hall, Santiago City, Isabela where 70 employers will offer 3,500 job vacancies. There will be 16 job fairs on Labor Day in Region 3 to be held at the following venues: Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, with 40 employers and 2,264 vacancies; Camp Servillano Aquino, San Miguel, Tarlac, 30 employers with 1,000 vacancies; People’s Park, Provincial

Capitol, in Balanga City, Bataan, 50 with 4,750 vacancies; President Ramon F. Magsaysay Sports Complex, Caballero St., Poblacion, Candelaria, Zambales, 22 employers and 920 vacancies; Provincial Capitol, Aurora, seven employers with 2,473 vacancies; and at the following SM branches, SM City Baliuag, 60 employers with 1,900 vacancies; SM City Clark, 40 employers with 1,550 vacancies; SM City Marilao, 60 employers with 2,000 vacancies; SM City Olongapo, 10 employers with 725 vacancies; SM City Pampanga, 55 employers with 1,900 vacancies; SM City San Fernando, 10 employers with 200 vacancies; and SM City Tarlac, 20 employers with 200 vacancies. Five job fairs will be held in Region 4-A, one each at the Batangas City Sports Coliseum, three employers with 450 vacancies; District Ayala Mall, Imus, Cavite, 39 employers with 9,131 vacancies; SM City Mall, Sta. Rosa City, Laguna, 100 employers with 14,000 vacancies; SM City Mall, Lucena City, 13 employers with 5,019 vacancies; and SM City Mall, Taytay City, 40 employers and 10,000 vacancies. In Region 4-B, the DOLE regional office will mount a job fair at the Gaisano Mall, Calapan City with three employers and 300 vacancies, while in Region 5, the DOLE regional office will hold a job fair at SM Naga City, with 70 employers and 6,000 vacancies. In Region 6, two job fairs will be held at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol Ground (30 employers with 4,000 job vacancies) and at SM Bacolod City (40 employers with 8,000 job vacancies. In Region 7, five job fairs will be mounted at the Abellana National Sports Complex, 30 employers with 15,000 vacancies; Cebu Provincial Capitol, Cebu City, 35 employers with 2,500 vacancies; Robinson’s Place, Dumaguete City, 15 employers with 1,750 vacancies; SM Atrium, Consolacion, Cebu, 30 employers with 1,000 vacancies; and SM Trade Hall, Cebu City, 40 employers with 1,300 vacancies. In Region 8, a job fair will be held at the St. Paul School of Business in Palo, Leyte, with 50 employers bringing in 8,000 vacancies; in Region 9, there will be a job fair in Zamboanga City to be attended by 45 employers with yet unspecified number of job vacancies; and in Region 10, there will be a job fair at the SM Carpark, Upper Carmen, Cagayan de Oro, with 140 employers to offer 7,570 job vacancies. In Region 11, three simultaneous job fairs will be held at the Gaisano Mall of Davao, Davao City, 100 employers with 850 vacancies; SM City Davao, Davao City, 75 employers with 650 vacancies; and Gaisano Mall of Tagum City, 50 employers with 450 vacancies. In Region 12, two job fairs will be held at the KCC Mall Convention Center, Gen. Santos City, 113 employers with 16,960 vacancies and at the SM Mall Convention Center, also in Gen. Santos City, with 88 employers offering 11,300 job vacancies. In CARAGA, a job fair at the Robinson’s Place in Butuan City will see 25 employers recruiting for over 10,000 job vacancies.‐day‐fair‐aims‐to‐top‐100‐000/

Obama visit to clear up strategic partnership By Joyce Pangco Panares, Francisco Tuyay | Apr. 24, 2014 at 12:01am PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III and United States President Barrack Obama will discuss key areas of political and security cooperation, expanding trade and investment and deepening people-to-people ties when the two leaders meet next week, the Palace said on Wednesday. Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma said the two leaders will also take up the ongoing rehabilitation efforts in areas that were battered by super typhoon Yolanda during Obama’s visit on April 28 to 29. “President Obama’s visit will be the peak of a series of recent high-level exchanges between our two countries,” Coloma said, noting that US Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also visited the Philippines last year. “From the Philippine perspective, we would like to be able to arrive at a clearer understanding with the US on important aspects of the strategic partnership in those three areas. And we can be sure that President Aquino will take up with President Obama what he considers to be the primary or priority concerns of the government,” Coloma said. “Any dialogue of this nature has a character of taking into account mutual interest and mutual benefit. It cannot be just a one-sided proposition in favor of one party over the other. I believe both the US and the Philippines are looking at an outcome that is mutually beneficial,” he added. As for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, Coloma said the pact is still undergoing inter-agency review and is not being rushed for signing during the Aquino-Obama bilateral meeting. Coloma said the possible inclusion of the Philippines in the Trans-Pacific Partnership may also be discussed. “The Philippines is not among the first 12 countries that are involved here. So what we are doing now is to explore possibilities, if our direct participation in this partnership can be made feasible, and that will be part of the discussions,” Coloma said. He said people-to-people ties between Manila and Washington remain strong, with an estimated 2.27 million Filipinos living in the United States. Thousands of US tourists also visit the Philippines every year, with 670,000 in 2013.

The US is also the Philippines’ major trading partner with total trade of $14.5 billion in 2013. Last year, the US was also the second largest export destination of the Philippines, next only to Japan, with exports amounting to $7.8 billion. Obama’s trip to Asia this week will be dominated by a country he’s not even visiting: China. Each of the four nations on the president’s itinerary is involved in territorial disputes with an increasingly assertive China. “There are growing concerns about what China is up to in the maritime space,” said Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “There’s a widely held view in the region that the U.S.-China relationship is tipping toward being much more confrontational.” Obama arrives today in Japan, the start of a week-long journey that also will take him to South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines. On display throughout will be the challenge of managing the uneasy relationship with China, the U.S.’s No. 2 trading partner and an emerging rival for global influence. For almost three years, Obama has sought to reorient U.S. foreign policy toward the Asia-Pacific region after more than a decade consumed by war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Though the president says the change isn’t aimed at containing China - Sino-U.S. trade last year topped $562 billion, a 38 percent jump from five years earlier - administration officials recently toughened their response to China’s muscular foreign policy. Danny Russel, assistant secretary of state for East Asia, in February labeled China’s claim to almost all of the South China Sea, hundreds of miles from its shoreline, as “inconsistent with international law.” Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, told an Australian audience on April 9: “I am concerned by the aggressive growth of the Chinese military, their lack of transparency, and a pattern of increasingly assertive behavior in the region.” With AFP, Bloomberg

Iloilo City to host APEC meeting on food security April 23, 2014 9:38 pm   by Lydia C. Pendon ILOILO CITY: Business establishments catering to the food industry are gearing up for the city’s hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Conference on Food Security on October 15 to 17, 2015. The Iloilo Business Club and the Department of Tourism regional office here, in collaboration with the Iloilo Hotel, Restaurant and Resort Association (IHRRA) recently finished a training on international cuisine designed primarily for APEC delegates. The mentoring and certification on food preparation and presentation for APEC 2015 was highlighted by a graduation of chefs and cooks last month. However, the DOT said the training on international cuisine is ongoing as more business establishments in the food industry are sprouting in the city. A seminar on preparation of halal foods is being planned for the first quarter of 2015. APEC is composed of 21 member nations and only the Philippines is considered a Christian country while the rest are Muslims and other Asian races. The Ministerial Conference on Food Security is spearheaded by the Department of Agriculture and Department of Environment and Natural Resources. DA Regional Director Larry Nacionales said that Western Visayas is a top food producer and there is no fear of acute shortage of food products for APEC delegates. Nacionales said the region is ready to supply food materials including halal products not only to the APEC delegates but also for the burgeoning international community and business locators in the city and Iloilo.

Tropical plants help remove pollutants in soil, water April 23, 2014 3:38 pm   Cultivation of tropical plants can lead to reduction of pollution levels in the environment. A research conducted by Central Luzon State University professor Dr. Annie Melinda PazAlberto showed that tropical plants such as mangroves, seagrass and aquatic plants, among others, can lessen the levels of heavy metals and other pollutants in coastal areas, mining sites and urban areas through phytoremediation. “Phytoremediation is an alternative method that uses plants to clean up contaminated areas,” Alberto stated in an interview with the Philippines News Agency.According to her, plants have the natural capability to absorb high concentration of heavy metals and chemicals found in air, sea or water. A series of studies was conducted to assess the potential impact of tropical plants in removing and lessening harmful contaminants such as lead, copper, cadmium and nickel and zinc in contaminated urban soils, mining sites and coastal areas.The results indicated that “kangkong” and other aquatic plants are efficient in reducing lead which can be utilized to get rid of toxic pollutants in freshwater ecosystems. It was also found out that mangroves can effectively remove lead and copper from contaminated sediments in coastal communities aside from its capability to prevent flashfloods and landslides. Furthermore, seagrass species can also be used to reduce the presence of heavy toxic metals in the coastal ecosystems for weather conservation. Alberto disclosed that they are still undergoing further researches to develop the technology. “Our researches are geared towards finding more plant species that can be cultivated on open dumpsites and coastal ecosystems,” she stated.The researcher urged communities to raise tropical plants in public parks, urban lawns and center islands, among others. Alberto was conferred a special citation for her research work by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) during an awarding ceremony for the 2014 NAST Environmental Science Awards held at the Traders Hotel in Pasay City.The awards seek to recognize outstanding researches that contribute to environment conservation and protection. PNA

IFC expands green dev’t in PH April 23, 2014 9:57 pm   by James Konstantin Galvez, Reporter The International Finance Corp., a member of the World Bank Group, is now stepping up cooperation with the Philippine government to expand the development of green buildings in the country as part of coordinated efforts to address climate change. “IFC offers its global technical expertise to help Philippine government units develop their green building initiatives,” IFC resident representative Jesse Ang said in a statement. IFC’s green building program, supported by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and the Government of Canada, works with governments and regulators to build capacity for green buildings through policy and regulatory support. It also provides financing to support private sector investments in green buildings. The group is also helping the Department of Public Works and Highways update the National Building Code that will set minimum green feature requirements for new buildings, save energy and water resources, and support cost-efficient operations. “We support the government in implementing its National Climate Change Action Plan, which provides for ‘greening’ the National Building Code,” he added. Ang also said they are conducting technical studies that will be used in drafting a law requiring new buildings to reduce electricity use. “These measures will help the country cut the greenhouse-gas emissions of new buildings by 20 percent annually,” Ang said. Ang noted that with the IFC’s support, Mandaluyong City in Metro Manila passed a green building ordinance that provides incentives such as tax discounts on machineries and building improvements. On Wednesday, the IFC hosted a forum titled “Green Building Imperatives” in collaboration with the Climate Change Commission, which is chaired by President Benigno Aquino 3rd, and the Philippine Green Building Initiative. The forum was attended by over 100 local government officials. Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Loren Legarda, and Climate Change Commissioner Heherson Alvarez were among those who spoke at the forum. The participants shared green building best practices and began discussing preliminary plans to adopt such practices among local governments across the country.

In a statement released by Malacanang, Aquino said that green building is one of the most important steps the country must undertake in adapting to climate change and mitigating climate risk. The president said that the unabated use of carbon-based fuels has drastically altered our global climate such that weather patterns are changing and natural disasters have become stronger, more frequent, and less predictable. “It is my hope that this will gain widespread acceptance among developers and major players,” Aquino said. The IFC is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. Working with private enterprises in more than 100 countries, it uses its capital, expertise, and influence to help eliminate extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity. In fiscal year 2013, the group’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.

Osmeña opposes CA nod for BSP chief Written by  Ed Velasco   Thursday, 24 April 2014 00:00   A day after former Budget secretary Benjamin Diokno reiterated his suggestion to subject for confirmation of the Commission of Appointments (CA) the next governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), a member of the CA bucked the call. Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, CA senior member, replied “no” to The Daily Tribune when asked if he supports the move to have the next governor of the BSP to undergo scrutiny of the powerful body whose members are from Senate and House of Representatives. “(He) would be politicized,” Osmeña, who is also the vice chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, said. The CA is a very powerful body composed of 12 senators and 12 congressmen as members plus the Senate president as chairman. The CA is an independent body that doesn’t give or ask permission from any branches of government when it approves or disapproves any appointee. It can be recalled that Diokno suggested that the next governor of the BSP be subjected to CA confirmation to assure that the man who will serve for six years will be a joint choice of the president and Congress. According to the senator, the Constitution and the BSP charter mandate that the governor of the central bank should not undergo CA confirmation.

Posted on April 23, 2014 10:45:02 PM

Budget for pensions of war veterans released THE DEPARTMENT of Budget and Management (DBM) has released almost P10 billion to support the pension requirements of war veterans and retired military personnel. In a statement, the DBM said it gave a combined P9.9 billion to the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the second-quarter benefits of retired men in uniform. The fund release was sourced from the Pension and Gratuity Fund under this year’s national budget. Out of the total, P7.5 billion will go to the AFP and will benefit 120,296 of its pensioners, of which 2,583 are new beneficiaries for 2014. Meanwhile, the remaining P2.4 billion of the released amount was given to the PVAO and will benefit 208,458 veterans, the DBM said. This total will cover the old age pensions, death pensions, disability pensions, and total administrative disability pensions of these veterans. “This latest release guarantees the timely delivery of regular pension benefits to our retired military personnel for the second quarter of the year,” Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad said. “At the same time, we continue our transparency efforts to update, validate and cleanse our list of beneficiaries so that it’s free of invalid, duplicate and ghost entries. Our pensioners and their families will therefore receive the benefits due them much more quickly and efficiently, all while we ensure greater accountability in the payment process,” noted Mr. Abad. The Budget chief added that the automation of pension payments is one among several government initiatives to tap digital technology to strengthen transparency and accountability in the Philippine bureaucracy. “Before we began clearing the list of pension beneficiaries, we found out that hundreds of millions were going to ghost pensioners or deceased retirees every year. Switching from check to ATM payments nipped these anomalies in the bud,” Mr. Abad claimed. “More important, however, is the fact that we’re able to give better support to our retired military personnel and our war veterans. Such digitization and cashless initiatives ultimately allow us to deliver public services faster and protect government processes from corruption,” he added. -Bettina Faye V. Roc

Posted on April 23, 2014 10:49:47 PM

E. Visayas rice yield seen to rise TACLOBAN CITY -- Department of Agriculture (DA) officials in Eastern Visayas are optimistic that rice production will increase this year as rice farms were the least affected by typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan). A farmer sprays pesticide on a rice field at sunset in Santa Fe, Leyte, on Feb. 17. -- AFP Bernadette F. San Juan, DA regional executive director, said the agency aims to increase rice production by 3.4% to 1.03 million metric tons (MT) this year. Ms. San Juan said the DA has been distributing 63,000 bags of high-yielding certified seeds with fertilizer component for free since December. “After typhoon Yolanda, we doubled our target for certified seeds cultivation from 30,000 hectares of actual areas planted with quality seeds to about 63,000,” Ms. San Juan told reporters in a press briefing. A bag of certified seeds is good for one hectare, and a hectare of certified seeds yields up to 3.5 MT of unhusked rice, nearly double the 1.9-MT output for traditional seeds. Aside from certified seeds, the DA and private donors also distributed 5,000 bags of hybrid seeds. A hectare planted with hybrid seed yields up to 6.5 MT of unhusked rice. “The typhoon has opened windows of opportunities to improve our rice farming system. It’s sad to hear that in almost all commodities, we are below the national average,” Ms. San Juan said. The region has maintained a 990,000-MT production level after 2008, when output breached the 1-million-MT mark. Some 185,961 hectares, or about a fifth of total farm area in the region, are devoted to rice. -- Sarwell Q. Meniano

2014 04 24 quedancor daily news monitor  
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