Who’s next head to fall? COMMONSENSE By Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 16, 2014 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 With the lapse of the one-year ban on candidates who ran but lost in the May 13 elections last year, Cabinet members and other presidential appointees in various government positions are edgy these days. He or she may find losing his or her post to any of these losers who are just waiting for the call from the appointing authority at Malacañang Palace. The jitters started when President Benigno “Noy” Aquino III immediately accepted the sudden resignation of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chairman Margarita “Margie” Juico. Citing she has reached retirement age, Juico submitted at the office of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. her handwritten resignation last week. It was accepted the next day. Among other reasons, Juico, however, admitted “the last straw” that she decided to call it quits was being told that former Cavite congressman Erineo Maliksi had allegedly announced he would be the next PCSO chairman. P-Noy campaigned for Maliksi as the Liberal Party (LP) candidate in last year’s election but he lost to Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla. However, the Palace has yet to make an official announcement who would be the new PCSO chairman. This may come as bad news for these appointees-in-waiting, at least for those aspiring for Cabinet posts they think might soon become vacant. For the nth time yesterday, President Aquino shrugged off talks of possible removal of certain members of his Cabinet who were lately again being linked to the pork barrel scam of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles. The President sneezed at calls made by leftists groups pressing for the removal of these Cabinet officials named by Napoles in her list of lawmakers allegedly involved in the scam. The President’s reaction to these ouster calls were echoed in his press conference yesterday in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental where he inaugurated the country’s first large-scale, commercially financed solar power plant under his three and a half-year old administration. Opinion ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 As usual and as expected, President Aquino defended anew these Cabinet officials without naming them.
Incidentally, they happen to be LP card-bearing members also who were in the infamous Napoles list. They supposedly channeled their respective Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to alleged “bogus” non-government organizations (NGOs) put up by Napoles while they were still congressmen. They are, namely, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio Abad and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) director-general Joel Villanueva. Abad was formerly congressman from the lone district of Batanes while Villanueva was former party-list representative of Citizens Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC). Although he was also repeatedly being linked to the PDAF scandal, the name of Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala, however, did not come up in the Napoles list. However, he was being linked to the pork barrel scam because several DA-attached government agencies under him were the chief recipients of PDAF that were allegedly cornered by NGOs identified with Napoles. The former congressman from Quezon Province is also LP partymate of P-Noy. Alcala’s looming exit from the Aquino Cabinet grew rife following the appointment last week of former LP Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan as Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (PAFSAM). P-Noy created this new Cabinet-rank position for Pangilinan who was given oversight functions to four attached agencies that were taken away from the DA secretary. The four DA-attached agencies were, namely, the National Food Authority (NFA); the National Irrigation Administration (NIA); the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA); and the Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority (FPA). So far, NFA chief Orlan Calayag and (PCA) administrator Euclides Forbes submitted their respective courtesy resignations to the Office of the President. NIA administrator Claro Maranan said he would prefer to serve the remainder of his term ending this June to explain why he has not submitted his courtesy resignation. No word yet from FPA director Norli Gicana as of this writing. Except for Gicana, Alcala told me, Calayag, Forbes and Maranan were all his recommendees to their respective posts. Both Calayag and Forbes told the President in their letters that their resignations would take effect as soon as their respective replacements are named. Alcala lauded the “delicadeza” displayed by Calayag and Forbes in submitting their courtesy resignations “to give a free hand” to Pangilinan to choose his own people as newly appointed PAFSAM. “They are the kind of people who do not cling to their posts,” Alcala cited. He, too, Alcala swore is not someone who clings to one’s post if he no longer has the trust and confidence of President Aquino. But as it is right up to now, Alcala noted with extreme disappointment the continuing attacks against him by his enemies and detractors rooting for his removal from the Cabinet. As he has been suspecting all this time, there is a highly financed smear campaign to distract the attention
of the Aquino administration from implementing reforms to curb rampant smuggling of agricultural products from rice to onions and other illegally imported crops. While the Cabinet-level shake-up is not in the offing, the Palace dropped hints yesterday there will be changes in sub-Cabinet officials who head certain “problematic” agencies. Last Sunday night, while he was attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Leaders’ Summit in Myanmar, President Aquino disclosed to reporters he had ordered an investigation of a certain government agency, of which he has been receiving so much complaints and reports of continuing hanky-panky. He refused though to say which one. Saying he does not telegraph his punches, the President said between gritted teeth: “Can I just say na sobrang kapal talaga nitong pangkat na ito?” If the Chief Executive can let go of a very long-time family friend and ally like Juico, this certainly is giving sleepless nights to all presidential appointees who may wake up the next day without a job. Obviously, there are many waiting in line for the next head to fall from the chopping block. - See more at: http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2014/05/16/1323599/whos-next-headfall#sthash.Z5u4QlMf.dpuf
EDITORYAL - Simulan ang paglilinis (Pilipino Star Ngayon) | Updated May 16, 2014 - 12:00am
MABUTI naman at mayroong delikadesa ang mga pinuno ng National Food Authority (NFA) at Philippine Coconut Authority (PhilCoA). Hindi sila katulad ng ibang taong gobyerno na â€œkapittukoâ€? sa puwesto. Ilang araw makaraang manumpa si Presidential agriculture adviser Francis Pangilinan, nagbitiw sa puwesto si NFA administrator Orland Calayag at sumunod naman si PCA administrator Euclides Forbes. Ang dalawa ay kapwa inilagay sa puwesto ni Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. Si Calayag ay matagal nang binabatikos dahil wala umanong kakayahan na pamunuan ang NFA at bukod sa isa itong greencard holder. Matagal umano itong namalagi sa US at biglang nagbalik-bansa makaraang iupo ni Alcala sa puwesto. Wala umanong kakayahan si Calayag na sawatain ang talamak na rice smuggling. Wala namang gaanong naririnig kay Forbes mula nang pamunuan ang PhilCoA noong 2010 maliban sa mabagal na rehabilitasyon ng mga napinsalang niyugan sa Visayas region partikular sa mga lugar na sinalanta ng Bagyong Yolanda. Ngayong wala na ang dalawang opisyal na iniluklok ni Alcala, maaari nang magsagawa si Pangilinan nang paglilinis at ipakita na kaya niyang ireporma ang NFA at PhilCoA. Matapos mailuklok ni P-Noy, sinabi ni Pangilinan na inatasan siya ng Presidente na linisin ang agriculture department na may saklaw sa NFA, PhilCoA at National Irrigation Administration. Mabigat ang problema sa NFA sapagkat hanggang ngayon, patuloy ang rice smuggling sa bansa. Ang mga kawawang magsasaka ang apektado ng smuggling. Nawawalan sila ng ikinabubuhay sapagkat mas mabenta ang smuggled rice kaysa local na ani. Umanoâ€™y naipapasok ang mga smuggled rice dahil sa mga kooperatiba na nabibigyan ng akreditasyon ng NFA. Ito ang dapat tutukan ni Pangilinan. Kaawaan niya ang mga maliliit na magsasaka. Tutukan din naman ni Pangilinan ang NIA. Mabagal ang NIA sa paggawa ng mga irigasyon para mapatubigan ang mga palayan. Bakit kaya kapit-tuko sa puwesto ang NIA administrator? Walang delikadesa? Sana gayahin niya ang ginawa ng NFA at PhilCoA administrators. http://www.philstar.com/psn-opinyon/2014/05/16/1323603/editoryal-simulan-ang-paglilinis
Noynoy, Abad among 2004 fertilizer scam recipients; GMA exonerated GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 16, 2014 - 12:00am “The police must keep peace and order in our communities, and protect us citizens from criminals and bad elements.” — Press Sec. Sonny Coloma, on the drive-by shootings of five persons by two motorcyclists predawn last Sunday on Commonwealth Avenue, QC, and the unrelated killing of two others nearby. Sir, we already know what the police’s duty is. Tell us something we don’t know. Like, why is the National Police not combatting the daily strikes of guns-for-hire riding-in-tandem all over the land. *
“There are only three senators and five congressmen in (Janet Lim) Napoles’ affidavit submitted to (Justice) Sec. (Leila) de Lima, the same eight already facing charges.” — Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, downplaying other lists of over a hundred pork-barrel plundering lawmakers, mostly administration allies. Sir, we’d like to believe you. But explain these first: If there are no new names in the list of de Lima, then how come she says there are more but can’t disclose them till she verifies the narratives? How come she says she’s losing sleep over the list? How come she’s taking so long — more than three weeks now — to divulge it? *
Opinion ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 “I apologize if we couldn’t act even faster,” President Noynoy Aquino, last March 12, four months after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck, on why it took national agencies nearly a week to aid four million families left unsheltered and unfed. Sir, we’ll let your use of “if” instead of “that” pass, although it betrays your reluctance to take fault for it, as further shown by your insertion of “even,” as if to say you already were fast. But what words would you now have for the report that today, six months later, the government has built only 50 houses for the one million families rendered homeless? What words, for the
Executive’s spending only P3.7 billion out of the P100 billion rushed out by Congress, enough to erect those million homes, Habitat for Humanity-type at P70,000 each, with P30 billion to spare for roads, drainage, and community centers? *
Very few things can be worse than Gloria Macapagal Arroyo being exonerated from the P728million fertilizer scam of 2004? One of them is that Noynoy Aquino and Butch Abad, thencongressmen of Tarlac and Batanes, are in the list of recipients of the Arroyo admin’s plunder. Arroyo of course is no longer President. Aquino is, with Abad his ideological guru, budget secretary, and concocter of the presidential pork barrel, the Disbursement Acceleration Program. It was Aquino who used presidential clout in driving out of office an independent Ombudsman, to install instead the retired Supreme Court justice Conchita Carpio Morales. Aquino then also drove out of office a co-equal Chief Justice, who once tormented Carpio Morales. Those expulsions were for cause, so deserved, to be sure. But the events cannot be but brought up, now that Carpio Morales has cleared Arroyo of the plunder from which Aquino and Abad allegedly benefited. Lack of evidence is the reason for exoneration. Supposedly the complainant, one-time solicitor general Frank Chavez, now deceased, had failed to link Arroyo directly to the distribution of the P728 million to allied congressmen, governors, and mayors. Only Arroyo’s agriculture secretary then, Luis Lorenzo, and Usec Joc-joc Bolante, allegedly doled the money one week before the presidential-congressional-local election campaign began. It’s unconceivable that Lorenzo, scion of an agri-conglomerate, and Bolante, officer of Rotary International, would operate without the clearance of their candidate-boss Arroyo. But the Ombudsman did not pursue such crucial angle. It simply fell back on its earlier ruling: Col. George Rabusa’s alleged insufficient proof against plundering generals, to let a string of Armed Forces chiefs off the plunder hook. So much for the Ombudsman’s duty to motu proprio, on its own, investigate and dig up evidence of official corruption. What if all the recipient politicos, led by Aquino and Abad, then deny having received P5million share each of the fertilizer fund, despite testimonies of whistleblowers, two of whom since assassinated? That’s not far-fetched; today senators cry forgery of their signatures by trusted aides, in the face of strong evidence of pork-barrel thievery. In fact, nobody is compelling the fertilizer fund partakers to account for their shares. Will they all then be cleared like Arroyo, with Lorenzo and Bolante to follow? Not far-fetched either; the justice department has made a state witness out of multibillion-peso “pork” fixer Ruby Tuason, and is mulling the same for mastermind Janet Lim Napoles. Not to forget, self-asserted super-lawyer Sixto Brillantes, despite being Comelec chief, has let to lapse the period to prosecute ex-commissioner Virgilio Garcillano for election sabotage that 2004, in cahoots with — again! — Arroyo. Is there no justice, hence the daily riding-in-tandem killings, the blatant sanitizing of “pork”plunderer lists, and the unwillingness and inability to shelter the disaster-stricken?
Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM). Gotcha archives on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/JariusBondoc/1376602159218459, or The STAR website http://www.philstar.com/author/Jarius%20Bondoc/GOTCHA E-mail: email@example.com - See more at: http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2014/05/16/1323595/noynoy-abad-among-2004fertilizer-scam-recipients-gma-exonerated#sthash.YE5s1IVM.dpuf
Angara’s Acef is just the tip of the iceberg Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:04 am | Friday, May 16th, 2014 The alleged involvement of former senator Edgardo Angara in the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (Acef) scam (“2 lawmakers gained from farm subsidies,” Front Page, 5/5/14) is only one among the many anomalies he has been linked to in Commission on Audit (COA) reports. To begin with, as the COA itself has found in its audit of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), from 2007 to 2009 the former senator coursed at least P243.16 million of pork barrel funds to nongovernment organizations with certain irregularities, or without liquidated balances. For instance, he channeled P24.96 million of this amount to “The Assembly of Gracious Samaritans Foundation Inc.” and to the Technology Resource Center without any form of liquidation. Similarly, another P14.4 million was transferred to the “Kalusugan ng Bata, Karunungan ng Bayan, Inc.” (KBKBI)—a foundation where Angara was an incorporator but which, according to the COA, was located in a nonexistent address under the name of a nonexistent tenant. Of Angara’s total PDAF releases to the KBKBI, only P5 million of the released funds was apparently liquidated. However, even more damaging to the people of Aurora than his involvement in these PDAF transactions has been his role in the creation of the controversy-ridden Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport (Apeco). Apeco, as Angara’s brainchild, has long been accused by Aurora province residents and rural development advocates of transgressing an entire spectrum of laws which protect small landholders’ rights, such as those provided under the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (Republic Act No. 8371) and the Carper Law (RA 9700). But Angara’s Apeco venture has also been found by the COA on various occasions to have suffered from various anomalies in its use of public funds. Indeed, in its latest publicly-available audit on the 12,923-hectare freeport, the COA found that the freeport has yet to account for at least P23.8 million in unliquidated cash advances in 2012—a figure 58 percent higher than its unliquidated advances of P13.8 million in 2011. Beyond this, a COA report maintained that Apeco had failed: to keep a physical inventory of property and equipment allegedly worth P575.7 million; to properly document “doubtful” transportation expenses declared by the ecozone at P906,996; to submit copies of government contracts and purchase orders for COA scrutiny; and to establish an internal audit service. It also engaged in the hiring of “dispensable and unnecessary” consultants worth a total of P9.1 million, resulting in “inessential expenses.”
That all these irregularities have been linked by the COA to former senator Angaraâ€™s pet projects signals a crying need for a more thoroughgoing investigation of his possible enmeshment in scams beyond Acef. This, especially, is direly needed to resolve complaints of land-grabbing and the systematic misuse of taxpayer money being leveled against him by Aurora residents who have reached out to Task Force Anti-Apeco. It is our hope that the relevant authorities in the government will undertake this investigation as soon as possible. â€”JERIK CRUZ, policy and communications coordinator, Task Force Anti-Apeco, firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/74551/angaras-acef-is-just-the-tip-of-theiceberg#ixzz31r4loSYX Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
Typhoons stunted agri sector in Q1 Production growth slowed down to 0.67% By Ronnel W. Domingo Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:39 am | Friday, May 16th, 2014
MANILA, Philippines—The growth in Philippine agricultural production slowed to 0.67 percent year on year at P198.8 billion in constant prices during the first quarter of 2014, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). This was slower than the 3.1 percent recorded in the same period of 2013, which the PSA said “could be traced to the devastating effects of typhoons that hit the country last year.” PSA data show that, in terms of current prices, output expanded by 10.8 percent to P386.7 billion. The PSA reported that a contraction in the fisheries subsector pulled down expansion in crops, livestock and poultry. The crops subsector, which represented 54 percent of total output value, also grew slower at 1.5 percent from 3.1 percent as it settled to P108.15 billion. Palay farmers alone, who turned out 18 percent of total output, posted a slower 3.3-percent increase pegged at P36.39 billion. “The damage caused by Typhoons ‘Santi,’ ‘Vinta,’ and ‘Yolanda’ that visited the country in the last quarter of last year translated to a decelerated growth in crop production,” the PSA said. Poultry growers, accounting for 14 percent of total output, produced 1.3 percent more with P28.75 billion.
In particular, the PSA said an increase of stock in commercial broiler farms in South Cotabato and Sarangani was the result of sustained high demand for chicken. Also, livestock production— 15 percent of total — improved by 1.2 percent to chalk up P30.68 billion. According to the PSA, there were increases in the number of animals slaughtered in accredited abattoirs as more local stocks were disposed of in the Ilocos region and in Calabarzon. The agency said that in Western Visayas, more animals were processed as raisers opted to dispose of draft animals due to limited grazing areas.
In Misamis Oriental in Mindanao, a similar upturn was observed after a new slaughterhouse became operational during the quarter. In fisheries, which accounted for 16 percent of nationwide output, the harvest decreased by 3.2 percent to reach P31.2 billion. “The heavily silted areas in Davao del Sur led to the stoppage of operation of marine pen operators during [the first quarter],” the PSA said. The agency added that some fishpond operators in Iloilo have not yet recovered from the effects of Yolanda, while insufficient capital and lack of inputs adversely affected operations of aquaculture farms in Samar. In the first quarter, average farmgate prices jumped 10 percent for most products including palay, corn, copra, garlic, hogs, goats, ducks, chickens, tilapia and seaweed. Read more: http://business.inquirer.net/170513/typhoons‐stunted‐agri‐sector‐in‐q1#ixzz31r2PTKSM Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
Awareness: Getting ready for El Niño May 15, 2014
National agencies are taking steps to mitigate the possible impact of the global phenomenon El Niño, which climate scientists have predicted would develop in mid-2014. Contingency plans are in place to address changing weather patterns. Climate change mitigation and adaptation is a pillar of the Philippine Development Plan because of the country’s experience with supertyphoons, massive flooding, and storm surges. Malacañang has launched a campaign on water conservation, in anticipation of hotter and drier days ahead. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) will be issuing a monthly rainfall bulletins for various regions in the next six months. The Department of Agriculture ensures food security by diversifying food supply sources so that when a calamity hits a province, it can get supplies from unaffected areas. Irrigation and water rationing are planned for areas that may suffer from El Niño. The occurrence of El Niño this year was projected when PAGASA, which monitors the oceanic and atmospheric conditions in tropical Pacific regions, noted on April 21-28, 2014, significant increases in sea surface temperature from 0.2 to 0.4 degrees Celsius. Citing climate models, PAGASA said the condition may persist for next nine months, meaning that El Niño may peak in the last quarter of 2014, when highest temperatures may be felt, and may last until first quarter of 2015. El Niño (Spanish for ‘boy’) is a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific that occurs every four to 12 years, resulting in long dry spells that disrupt the normal wet and dry seasons. If it occurs this year, climatologists said El Niño may bring stronger storms, a water shortage which may damage crops, reduced rainfall, and increased intensity of cyclones moving northward. Devastating typhoons occurred during El Niño years, such as Milenyo (2006) and Ondoy and Pepeng (2009). Climatic indicators of El Niño in the Philippines include delayed onset of rainy season, early termination of the rainy season, weak monsoon and tropical cyclone activities characterized by isolated, short-duration heavy downpours. The primary effect of El Niño in the country is drought; its environmental effects are soil degradation, effect on water quality like salt water intrusion, and high forest fire risk, while social effects range from health problems to disruption of normal human activities and migration to urban communities. El Niño, forecast to hit the country in June this year, is everybody’s concern. Every individual is asked to cooperate with plans by public and private agencies to mitigate its impact, mindful of the destruction it could bring to most particularly agriculture and the lives of Filipinos. http://www.mb.com.ph/awareness-getting-ready-for-el-nino/
Cloud seeding sought to feed dams Agri group says Pangasinan reservoir losing water at alarming rate By Gabriel Cardinoza Inquirer Northern Luzon 12:02 am | Friday, May 16th, 2014
DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines—A group of farmers and agriculture sector players said it would ask the Department of Agriculture to resort to cloud seeding over Agno River basin if water level at the reservoir of San Roque Dam in San Manuel town continued to drop in the next seven days. Rosendo So, head of the group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag), said at the rate the dam’s water level had been falling in the past few days, it may soon hit its critical level. He said that although parts of Pangasinan and Benguet provinces have been experiencing heavy rains in the past days, these have not increased the level of water in the dam’s reservoir. Agno River basin covers an area of 5,809.3 square kilometers, half of which is a watershed in the Cordillera mountains in Benguet. At 6 a.m. on Wednesday, the dam’s water elevation was 238.04 meters above sea level (masl), which was 26 centimeters lower than the 238.30 masl recorded the previous day. Virgilio Garcia, a hydrologist and chief of National Power Corp.’s Agno River flood forecasting and warning system, said at its present level, the dam still has enough water for power generation and irrigation. The dam generates electricity for San Roque Power Corp. which it supplies to the Luzon power grid during peak hours. The water used in power generation is released and saved in a reregulating pond below the dam’s spillway gates that in turn irrigates some 20,000 hectares of farms in the province. Garcia said the dam’s water level was still more than 13 meters above its critical level of 225 masl. The dam recorded its lowest water level in 2007, when it dropped to 225.42 masl.
Oftociano Manalo, head of the Ilocos Region Confederation of Irrigators’ Associations, said he had recommended early “wet cropping” in drought-hit areas of Pangasinan. Rice farmers in seven villages in the towns of Malasiqui and Sta. Barbara lost their crops to drought in March.
“We recommended this because no one is using the water from San Roque Dam now because everyone had just harvested. This will also be a chance for drought-hit farmers to recoup their losses from the drought,” Manalo said. He said that San Roque Dam and the National Irrigation Administration officials also assured his group that there was sufficient water despite the absence of rain until the end of June. Nestor Batalla, provincial government rice program coordinator, said that the El Niño would affect farmers whose farms depend on rains for irrigation. “It will mean a delayed planting season for them,” said Batalla in a telephone interview. Rice planting in rain-fed areas usually begins in July. Pangasinan, which is the country’s third rice-producing province next to Nueva Ecija and Isabela provinces, has an irrigated area of 167,389 ha and a rain-fed area of 80,146.28 ha. Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas had asked Catholics in Pangasinan province to pray the oratio imperata (obligatory prayer) against calamities and “invoke the protection of God against every evil and against all troubles.” “We have been forewarned by experts and scientists that the rest of the year 2014 may be challenging months for the country bringing exceptionally strong typhoons, rains and winds. Let us turn to prayer and beg the Lord for deliverance and protection,” said Villegas in a circular posted on the archdiocese’s website. Villegas’ appeal may have been prompted by the state weather bureau’s warning last week that with the El Niño phenomenon making its presence felt in June, there will be drier conditions, decreased rainfall and stronger storms until early next year. Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/602582/cloud‐seeding‐sought‐to‐feed‐dams#ixzz31qdTpCEE Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
Mitigating El Niño effects May 15, 2014
City Of San Fernando, Pampanga — The Department of Agriculture (DA) is making an inventory of shallow tube wells and is positioning 91 water pumps in Central Luzon as preparations to mitigate possible effects of the El Niño phenomenon this July. This was bared Thursday by DA Regional Information Officer Jun Espiritu, adding farmers have also been advised to plant early maturing varieties of palay and those that do not require too much water such as root crops, munggo beans and corn. “The agriculture sector is working double time to ensure the El Niño phenomenon will have fewer effects especially on production and productivity. We are particularly monitoring Nueva Ecija, our biggest rice producer in the region as drought could cut rice production by about 50 percent,’’ said Espiritu. (Franco Regala) http://www.mb.com.ph/mitigating‐el‐nino‐effects/
Yolanda-hit seaweed industry has yet to bounce back by Malou M. Mozo May 15, 2014
Cebu City, Cebu — The country’s seaweed sector is yet to recover six months after supertyphoon Yolanda ravaged seaweed plantations in the country, damaging about a third of the country’s total euchema supply from Palawan and Eastern Samar. Max Ricohermoso, chairman of the Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines (Siap) said estimates of total damage wrought by super typhoon Yolanda on the country’s seaweed industry ranges from P1.6 billion to P2.8 billion, involving some 6,400 hectares of seaweed plantations. Citing industry reports, Ricohermoso said that seaweed production fell 11 percent in 2013 from the previous year’s aggregate annual production of 1.75 million metric tons (MT) due to the onslaught of typhoons Wilma and Yolanda.He said that Siap has yet to hear of any developments following the P30-million seaweed farm rehabilitation program by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) supposedly made available to industry players in Cebu and Bohol. “The weather disturbances destroyed seaweed farms in the Danajon Reef, where most of the country’s supply of eucheuma spinosum species comes from,” Ricohermoso said in an interview recently. The raw seaweeds are used in the production of carrageenan, a gelatin-like extract from seaweed used as thickener, emulsifier, stabilizer or gelling agent in food, beverages, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. It is extracted from the euchema seaweed or native “guso.” It is also used in the manufacture of toothpaste, ice cream, some dairy products, shampoo and cosmetic creams, among others. The Philippines is considered the world’s largest producer of carrageenan.Due to tight inventories, Ricohermoso said most processors and exporters have resorted to importing raw dried seaweeds from Indonesia. “The first quarter of 2014 was still within target but the second quarter is reeling hard due to a lack of supply in eucheuma spinosum,” he added. In the Philippines, 60 percent of the seaweed supply is sourced from seaweed farms in Southern Mindanao, particularly Zamboanga, Julu, and Tawi-Tawi. “The volatility in supply has put carrageenan under threat of being substituted by other food hydrocolloid ingredients such as modified starch, gelatin, alginates, agar, pectin, xanthan gum and others showing stability and lower prices,” he said. http://www.mb.com.ph/yolanda‐hit‐seaweed‐industry‐has‐yet‐to‐bounce‐back/
P1-billion irrigation project set to operate in Northern Iloilo by Tara Yap May 15, 2014
Barotac Viejo, Iloilo — A small reservoir irrigation project (SRIP) worth almost P1-billion will soon be operating in the northern Iloilo town of Barotac Viejo. Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, who was here during the project’s groundbreaking ceremony, said the SRIP is designed to irrigate as much as 2,000 hectares in the area. Alcala also noted that the project will help sustain food production in Iloilo province, one of the country’s top rice producers. Department of Agriculture in Region VI (DA-6) Regional Director Larry Nacionales also said the project can expand rice production in the area by 265 tons annually. Alcala noted that the new irrigation project will help farmers deal with drought brought about by the El Niño weather phenomenon. The National Irrigation Administration in Western Visayas (NIA-6), which is an attached DA agency, will oversee the construction of the dam that has a 27-meter embankment, a spillway, and catchment areas Ilonggo Senate President Franklin Drilon, a native of Iloilo, who was also present at the groundbreaking ceremony in Nueva Invencion village said the project will supplement the P11.2-billion Jalaur River Multipurpose Project-Phase II (JRMP-II). Drilon was instrumental in securing funding for what is reputed to be the biggest river dam project outside of Luzon. Meanwhile, a P2.9-million agricultural tramline system was also given to farmers in Barotac Viejo by the Philippine Center for Postharvest and Mechanization (DA-PhilMech). http://www.mb.com.ph/p1‐billion‐irrigation‐project‐set‐to‐operate‐in‐northern‐iloilo/
Franklin Baker buys Davao coco plant By Amy R. Remo Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:41 am | Friday, May 16th, 2014 MANILA, Philippines—Franklin Baker Co. of the Philippines, one of the world’s largest desiccated coconut producers, has acquired a coconut processing plant in Davao del Sur that could double its existing production capacity. This acquisition formed part of the company’s global expansion strategy, designed to maintain Franklin Baker’s position as a pre-eminent supplier of quality coconut products to global markets, Franklin Baker president and CEO Jerry Lorenzo said in a statement issued Thursday. “We are delighted to be making this investment and also recognize that this is an investment in the Philippine economy with the resultant positive impact on the local community and the potential for creating up to 1,000 new jobs locally in Davao,” Lorenzo added. According to Franklin Baker, the Davao plant it acquired was already fully constructed and may double production capacity of desiccated coconut and coconut water concentrate. The acquisition will also hasten “the company’s entry into other coconut-related products that have recently shown vigorous growth in the developed markets. Among these are coconut water, virgin coconut oil, coconut milk and coconut flour.”
“Demand for our products is unprecedented and we are making this investment in order to build for the future and to ensure that Franklin Baker continues to provide world-class coconut products to an ever expanding range of international customers,” Lorenzo said. Franklin Baker operates two manufacturing facilities in the Philippines, located at San Pablo, Laguna; and Sta Cruz, Davao del Sur. Both facilities have a combined annual capacity of 65 million pounds of desiccated coconut, and 4 million liters of coconut water concentrate or 60 million liters of single strength coconut water. The company, formerly owned by General Foods and Kraft Foods, has been producing desiccated coconut and other coconut products for over 100 years and continues to supply coconut ingredients to the world’s major confectionery and bakery producers such as Kraft Foods, Hershey’s, Kellogg’s, General Mills and Nestle, as well as other major producers in Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. It exports to over 50 countries worldwide, with the United States as its major market. : http://business.inquirer.net/170519/franklin-baker-buys-davao-coco-plant#ixzz31qzZzaj7 Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
RFM income rose 8.4% in first 3 months By Doris C. Dumlao Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:40 am | Friday, May 16th, 2014 MANILA, Philippines—Food and beverage group RFM Corp. grew its first-quarter net profit by 8.4 percent year on year to P167 million, due to better margins alongside modest sales volume growth. In a disclosure to the PSE, RFM reported sales revenue of P2.24 billion for the first three months, slightly higher than the P2.22 billion level in the same period last year. RFM president and CEO Jose A. Concepcion III said that despite the modest sales growth, profitability had improved due to better margins in its core businesses and higher sales of highermargin products.
“The lower commodity input costs and managed operating expenses this year helped in bringing our cost levels down, ” he said. “We saw double-digit growth in our consumer brands which offset the weaker flour sales during the period. The priority for us is to grow the branded side of our business and we are encouraged as well by the increasing consumer offtake readings for our Fiesta pasta, White King cake mixes and Selecta Milk,” he said. Concepcion noted that revenues from newly acquired Royal pasta had just started to be sold under RFM only in February, and added that sales levels had so far been higher than those posted last year by the brand’s previous owner.
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Smuggling claims irk Turkish flour importers By Amy R. Remo Philippine Daily Inquirer MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine-Turkish Business Council on Thursday cried foul over the smuggling allegations made against Turkish flour importers. Reports of such claims surfaced following the imposition by the Department of Agriculture of anti-dumping duties on Turkish flour imports, the council said in a statement. Ernesto Chua, chair of the Philippine-Turkish Business Council, pointed out that Turkish flour importers are legitimate business owners who duly pay their taxes to the Philippine government. These importers are paying some P1.5 billion in tariff duties when importing Turkish flour, an ingredient used to produce flour-based food products such as bread, biscuits and noodles, he added.
Local flour millers, in contrast, do not pay any tariff on the wheat that they import from the US and process into flour, Chua further said. “To insinuate that Turkish flour importers would resort to technical smuggling of this raw material after the DA issued a preliminary determination is uncalled for. These businessmen follow the law when importing the Turkish flour that they supply to thousands of community bakeries and other backyard industries that are dependent on affordable raw materials,” said Chua, who is also the president of Malabon Long Life Trading Corp., one of the biggest importers of Turkish flour in the country. It can be recalled that the DA slapped a provisional anti-dumping duty on Turkish flour imports, on top of the existing 7-percent duty. For hard flour, a 35-percent antidumping duty will be imposed and 35.21 percent on soft flour. Chua emphasized that the technical smuggling allegations were unfair not only for the lawful importers but also for the Philippine Bureau of Customs.
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Agri sector grows 0.67% in Q1 by Jomari Guillermo May 15, 2014
Due to several typhoons that pummeled the country last year, the agriculture sector grew by 0.67 percent in the first quarter of the year, slower than the 3.11 percent growth recorded in the same period last year. The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) said Thursday morning that the growth was primarily due to the gains recorded in the crops, livestock, and poultry subsectors. At current prices, the farm sector output grossed P386.6 billion, 10.75 percent up from last year’s production value. Production in the crops subsector which contributed 54.40 percent to the total output climbed by 1.53 percent. “The damages caused by Typhoons “Santi”, “Vinta” and “Yolanda” that visited the country in the last quarter of last year translated to a decelerated growth in crop production,” BAS said. Despite these typhoons, production of palay and corn in the first quarter expanded by 3.28 percent and 1.33 percent, respectively. Palay production jumped to 4.31 million metric tons (MT) from 4.17 million MT recorded in the same period last year while corn output slightly went up to 2.28 million MT from 2.25 million MT. BAS noted that the higher palay and corn production were due to the availability of irrigation water, early planting of palay, early harvesting of corn, and use of hybrid and certified palay seeds, yellow corn and hybrid and GMO seeds. At current prices, palay and corn production were valued at P83.17 million and P28.45 million, respectively. Due to favorable weather and increased fertilizer usage in Capiz, Negros Occidental, Bukidnon and Iloilo, production of sugarcane increased by 5.54 percent to 12.33 million MT. Other major crops that help lift the agricultural output for the quarter include banana (1.86 percent), pineapple (5.75 percent), tobacco (4.46 percent), and cassava (11.29 percent). However, lower coconut output was recorded during the period primarily due to effects of typhoon “Yolanda” in Eastern and Western Visayas, Quezon, Masbate, Romblon, and Surigao del Norte. Coconut fell by 6.10 percent to 3.36 million MT from 3.58 million MT the previous year.
Lower volume of production were also noted in other crops including coffee (-4.43 percent), mango (-0.18 percent), and abaca (-3.45 percent). Expansion was also noted in the livestock and poultry subsectors but a 3.25 percent contraction was recorded in the fisheries sector which accounted for the 15.7 percent of the total output. The livestock subsector which contributed 15.44 percent to the total output, slightly increased by 1.20 percent, driven by gains in carabao, cattle, hog, goat, and dairy production. The poultry subsector sharing 14.46 percent to the total output rose by 1.33 percent due to increases in chicken and duck production. The contraction in the fisheries subsector was primarily due to decrements in the production of milkfish (-2.11 percent), tilapia (-0.14 percent), tiger prawn (-0.43 percent), roundscad (-6.90 percent), yellowfin tuna (-2.69 percent), and seaweed (-3.86 percent). “Some fishpond operators in Iloilo have not yet recovered from the effects of typhoon “Yolanda”. Insufficient capital and lack of material inputs negatively affected operations of aquaculture farms in Samar,” BAS said. http://www.mb.com.ph/agri-sector-grows-0-67-in-q1/
DA opens audit desk to the public May 15, 2014
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has launched an audit desk where the public can request for an investigation on projects they deem anomalous. The project called “Agri-byado Hotline” will serve as the agency’s proactive anti-corruption system where the public can share information which may call for an audit investigation. “Concerned citizens and DA employees themselves can report problems, issues, and unusual activities in the implementation of DA projects and programs such as malversation of funds and irregularities in the bidding process,” Internal Audit Service (IAS) of DA Director Irene Alogoc said in a statement. Alogoc said Agri-byado Hotline will help them monitor that projects are being implemented accordingly. The request for investigation can be sent through email: http:/webmail.da.gov.ph (login: agribyado) or through the phone numbers: (02) 921-6891 or 0905-571-5724. Alogoc said they will be actively checking the audit desk during office hours, adding that requests will be screened before forwarding them to Secretary Proceso Alcala for the issuance of order for the conduct of special audit. (Mary Rose A. Hogaza) http://www.mb.com.ph/da-opens-audit-desk-to-the-public/
DAR denies role in pork barrel scam By DJ Yap Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:39 am | Thursday, May 15th, 2014
INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Agrarian Reform officials have defended the agency from allegations that it was among government offices receiving endorsements from legislators for corruption-tainted projects, saying “all of these requests go through project evaluation processes in due course.” In a statement issued by Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Anthony Parungao, the DAR said it has been regularly receiving its share of endorsements and requests for projects, not only from legislators, but also from local government units, from provincial councils to barangays (villages) “It even receives project requests from civil society organizations, churches and private individuals,” it said. The DAR said it usually determined whether the projects requested or endorsed actually fell within the mandate of the department. “Even when they do, the Department still determines whether the projects actually benefit the intended beneficiaries or if it falls within the scope of existing DAR projects before it can accede to such requests,” it said. The DAR also noted that in a number of cases, it declined to use funds endorsed for projects referred by legislators as the budgets for the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) proved sufficient to undertake them. “In some cases, these funds were simply withdrawn as the Department insisted that implementation of these projects go through the usual processes prescribed by COA [Commission on Audit] rules,” it said.
As early as 2012, the DAR said it had started its own internal review of alleged misuse of funds for such projects. “Documents and other evidence it has collected has already been submitted to the COA, the Ombudsman, the DOJ [Department of Justice], and the NBI [National Bureau of Investigation]. It continues to cooperate with the ongoing investigations of these agencies,” it said. The DAR earlier said it was already collaborating with the Office of the Solicitor General in pressing collection cases against questionable nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that were able to access pork barrel funds in late 2010 to 2011. It said the agency had collated the documents needed for the filing of complaints against five of the NGOs that were purportedly endorsed by legislators to receive the funds.
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KMP slams House panel’s ‘railroading’ of CARP‐extension bill Category: Nation 15 May 2014 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga A FARMERS’ group on Thursday slammed the Committee on Agrarian Reform of the House of Representatives for allegedly railroading the approval of the bill extending the 26‐year‐old Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) was referring to the 7‐1 vote of members of the panel approving House Bill (HB) 4296, titled “An Act Mandating the Completition of the Land Acquisition and Distribution Component of the CARP.” The approval by the committee of HB 4296 is tantamount to prolonging the agony suffered by Filipino farmers under what the group describe as “sham” land‐transfer program, the KMP said. The bill was only filed on April 10, when the Congress was in recess, and was read on first reading only last week, KMP Secretary‐General Antonio Flores said. Flores said the committee hearing on Wednesday, the first and only public hearing on HB 4296, was presided over by Liberal Party Rep. Noel Villanueva of Tarlac, vice chairman of the Committee on Agrarian Reform. Flores said Villanueva was involved in the arriendo system, a scheme where local government officials and managers of Hacienda Luisita lease lands from farmers. “The arriendo system was a maneuver used by the Cojuangcos and their dummies in 2005 to maintain sugar production and control over the lands, and proliferated after the Department of Agrarian Reform’s deceptive and divisive tambiolo land reform,” he said. According to KMP, Villanueva’s arriendo now covers more than 1,000 hectares in Hacienda Luisita and the legislator allegedly uses his nephew as his dummy arriendador. Flores noted that the ongoing arriendo rates in Hacienda Luisita is pegged at as low as P5,000 per hectare per year from P10,000 per hectare before the lands were placed under CARP. He added that a day before Villanueva presided over the railroading of HB4296, so‐called Hacienda Luisita CARP beneficiaries queued in Barangay Balete to collect Villanueva’s payment.
Villanueva chairs the Association of Sugar Planters in Central Luzon. “The two‐year extension of CARP approved by the committee serves the interests of big landlords like the Cojuangcos and their arriendadors to perpetuate their control over the lands placed under the bogus CARP,” Flores said. CARP, Flores said, was used by big landlords, giant real‐estate companies, local and foreign agribusiness in countless cases of exemption and exclusions, land‐use conversion, and land‐grabbing in the countryside. CARP‐sponsored land‐grabbing was coupled by intensified agrarian‐related violence and human‐rights violations during the program’s implementation, he said. “Farmers defending their rights to the lands against the sham CARP are being charged with fabricated criminal cases, subjected to harassment and human‐rights abuses, and worst, political killings,” Flores added. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/nation/32166‐kmp‐slams‐house‐panel‐s‐ railroading‐of‐carp‐extension‐bill
4 major rivers to undergo major watershed rehab By DJ Yap Philippine Daily Inquirer 6:55 am | Friday, May 16th, 2014
Environment Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje. AFP FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—An ambitious project to restore more than a million hectares of watershed areas in four major river basins is now underway, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said on Thursday. The four river basins are Chico in the Cordillera Region, Wahig-Inabanga in Central Visayas, Bukidnon in Northern Mindanao and Lake Danao Watershed in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Environment Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said the seven-year Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Program (Inremp) would address the severe degradation of land and water in important watershed areas by promoting the use of native species. A million hectares “Inremp is akin to the National Greening Program because it also targets to rehabilitate some one million hectares using 58 million indigenous tree seedlings that will be raised and grown under the project,” Paje said in a news release. Aside from helping restore past biodiversity losses, Paje said the project—which started in 2013 and would run until 2020—sought to provide livelihood to some 350,000 households living in 2,201 villages sitting on the four river basins. The program adopts an “integrated cross-sector approach” to river basin management in order to improve the symbiotic relationship between existing economic activities and conservation practices on the river basins, he said.
“We are looking at the Inremp as a model on how to harmonize development and conservation issues, especially on biodiversity and climate change, in critical watershed areas that are located within these upper river basins,” Paje said. Cutting greenhouse gases The environment chief also cited the importance of Inremp to global efforts to reduce greenhouse gases as the program seeks to bring down carbon dioxide emissions from forest activities. Of the four sites, the Upper Bukidnon River Basin has the highest coverage area at 446,620 ha. The Upper Chico River Basin covers 405,894 ha; the Lake Lanao Watershed, 138,834 ha; and the Upper Wahig-Inabanga, 62,853 ha. All four watersheds are rich in flora and fauna, and are major providers of water for major agricultural and industrial activities such as irrigation, power generation and local tourism, Paje said. River basins are composed of ecologically and economically important watersheds that drain water through rivers and other tributaries. Water resources in river basins are indispensable for domestic, agricultural, industrial and other purposes. Chico is a major river in the Cordillera Administrative Region and is a main source of water for irrigation at its origin in Mt. Province for vegetable production and downstream in Kalinga for rice production, making the province as the region’s rice granary, according to the DENR. Power generation It also has the potential to generate 1,000 megawatts of power. The Upper Bukidnon River Basin and the Lake Lanao Watershed feed the six major rivers of Mindanao, including Cagayan River and the Rio Grande. They also supply water to rivers that irrigate the rice lands of Mindanao, the DENR said. The Bukidnon river basin provides 250,000 cubic meters of water per hour to Cagayan, Tagoloan and Pulangi rivers for irrigation. It also supports the operation of the Pulangi Hydroelectric Power Plant that supplies 25 percent of Mindanao’s power needs.
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March remittances up after January to February slowdown Category: Top News 15 May 2014 Written by Bianca Cuaresma Money sent home by Filipino migrant workers accelerated in March, after slowing down in the first two months of 2014, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported on Thursday. The central bank said the continuing demand for manpower abroad, as well as the expansion of remittance‐center services overseas, helped push the total cash transfers to $1.88 billion in the third month of this year. This was 6.5 percent up from the volume of remittances seen in March last year. Cash remittances in the country slowed down in January and February, after the high remittance growth in December 2013. The March pace of the remittances marked the first time this year that remittance growth accelerated. The combined cash remittances for the first three months of the year hit $5.48 billion, or 6 percent higher than the $5.17 billion seen in the first quarter of 2013. “Robust cash transfers in the first quarter of 2014 were supported by the sustained demand for skilled Filipino manpower,” the central bank said. The BSP also attributed the steady rise in remittances during the month to the continued expansion of land‐based and sea‐based workers’ contracts. Cash remittances from land‐based workers hit $4.1 billion in March this year, up 4.5 percent from the same three‐month period last year. Cash transfers from sea‐based Filipino workers hit $1.4 million, growing by 10.9 percent from the same period last year. The BSP also said the major sources of cash remittances during the period were the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong. Preliminary data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration cited in the central bank’s report indicated that there were 239,022 approved job orders as of end‐March this year. At least 24.5 percent of these were processed job orders for service production, and professional, technical and related workers mostly in the Middle East.
The BSP also said the expansion of the coverage and service of financial institutions for remittances has facilitated a “wider capture of fund transfers through formal channels.” Data from the central bank showed that commercial banks’ tie‐ups, remittance centers, correspondent banks and their representative offices abroad reached 4,771. This was a slight improvement from the 4,750 offices seen in the same period last year. Personal remittances—or remittances sent to the Philippines in cash and in kind—hit $6.085 billion in the first three months of the year, a 6.6‐percent improvement from the previous year’s value. In December last year the central bank said remittances accounted for about 8.4 percent of gross domestic product of the country. Remittances spur domestic consumption in the Philippines and provide further support for the economic expansion of the country. The government’s target growth for remittances for the entire year is at 5 percent. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/top‐news/32180‐march‐remittances‐up‐after‐ january‐to‐february‐slowdown
Aquino heralds solar power in Visayas, but warns of cost by Genalyn Kabiling May 16, 2014
Manila, Philippines — The price of electricity may increase if the country’s entire energy mix is sourced only from solar power and other renewable energy sources, President Aquino said yesterday. While he hailed the inauguration of San Carlos Solar Energy Inc. (SACASOL) in Negros Occidental, the President said the government must strike a balance between the benefits and cost of renewable and clean energy in managing the country’s energy sources.
SOLAR POWER – President Aquino leads the ceremonial switch-on of the San Carlos Solar Energy, Inc. (SACASOL) Phase I in the San Carlos Ecozone, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, yesterday, May 15. Also in the photo are (from left): Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla, SACASOL Chairman Jose Maria T. Zabaleta, and SACASOL President Jose Maria P. Zabaleta. (Malacañang News and Information Bureau) The new power plant is the first large-scale commercially-financed and commissioned solar power plant in the Philippines under the Aquino administration. It is expected to generate an additional 22 megawatts for the Visayas grid. “We fully recognize the significance of your investment. As much as there are many advocates who support and promote the use of solar energy — and while we believe that it is a necessary and welcome addition to the energy mix, we must be cognizant of its current limitations: The still high cost to harness solar energy as compared to (sic) other sources, which includes the additional requirements for ancillary capacity to connect it to the grid,” the President said. Aquino acknowledged that there is a need for the government “to manage the energy mix, from which the cost of power is derived.”
“Unfortunately, renewable energy is still the most expensive component. It follows that if our entire energy mix is derived from renewable sources, then the price of electricity — which people are already complaining about today — will rise even more,” he said. “Government, therefore, has to strike a balance between this, and our desire to attract more investments in renewable energy,” he said. Still, the President said the government intends to increase the renewable energy component in the country’s energy mix “as long as we can ensure the increase in power rates will be minimal.” The energy department is studying the possibility of raising 50 MW cap to 500 MW for solar power facilities interested to set shop in the country, said Aquino. He welcomed the establishment of the new SACASOL power facility as a “shining example of the collective steps we are taking to minimize climate risk.” “With your help, we are proving to the world: Even developing countries such as ours can do their share in reducing the risks posed by global warming,” he said. “And we are doing this even at a time when the development of solar power plants remains more expensive than that of plants fueled by traditional sources of energy,” he added. The new solar facility displaces carbon emissions equivalent to the emissions produced by 14,805 tons of oil for each year of operation, Aquino said. Aquino acknowledged that SACASOL is “at the head of the pack” as it reaps benefits and incentives from its latest investment in the country’s energy sector. He invited the SACASOL investors to put up more power plants elsewhere in the Philippines. Likewise, Aquino called on other power investors to drop its “wait-and-see attitude” when it comes to investing in these types of power plants. “Perhaps, this inauguration gives me the opportunity to issue a gentle reminder to all those who are still of the wait-and-see mind-set: You might only be willing to follow the example of Bronzeoak Philippines and Thomas Lloyd Cleantech when these pioneers have proven the profitability of this venture. I should warn you: By that point, you may no longer be entitled to any of the incentives government is currently offering,” Aquino said. In order to ensure a more consistent energy supply, the President announced that more power plants are underway for the Visayas grid. Most of these are slated for commissioning from this year until 2016. These facilities for Visayas, which include traditional energy sources, geothermal, hydropower, wind, and biomass, would have a generating capacity of 591.60 MW.
In 2013, the President said the average available capacity of the Visayas Grid stood at 1,678 MW with average peak demand of 1,390 MW. He said there are “adequate reserves” of power but the government cannot be content with present conditions amid the country’s economic momentum. (With a report from Edith Colmo) http://www.mb.com.ph/aquino‐heralds‐solar‐power‐in‐visayas‐but‐warns‐of‐cost/
Chance of needing water rationing slim – PAGASA by Chito A. Chavez May 15, 2014
Manila, Philippines — At the rate the water elevation at Angat Dam is falling, it might reach or fall below the 157.56-meter level recorded in July of 2010 if the expected rains don’t arrive by August, according to hydrologists of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). When the Angat Dam water level fell to 157.56, water supply in Metro Manila and Southern Luzon was rationed. However, the chance of having no rains until August is very slim, PAGASA said. The water elevation at Angat Dam was at 179.01 meters yesterday, 0.28 meters lower than the 179.29 recorded last Wednesday. Although the chances of water rationing for domestic use is slim, PAGASA hydrologist Elmer Caringal appealed to the public to follow basic water conservation tips. “Even if the water elevation at Angat Dam is not low we should still conserve water,’’ Caringal said. Another resident hydrologist at PAGASA, Edgar De la Cruz, said the rainy season is expected to arrive in the last week of May or first week of June. When the rainy season arrives, De La Cruz said that there will be no abrupt rise in water elevation as the surface of the dam will first seep the rain water before the level of elevation will slowly climb. Caringal said that before last year’s summer months, a series of heavy rains was experienced increasing the water reservoir at Angat Dam. “Madaming malalakas na ulan last year bago mag summer kaya medyo mataas ang reserba ng tubig sa Angat Dam (Several strong rains were experienced before last year’s dry spell that is why the water elevation at Angat Dam was higher),’’ Caringal said. http://www.mb.com.ph/chance‐of‐needing‐water‐rationing‐slim‐pagasa/
Angara bares PDAF records By Maila Ager INQUIRER.net 6:52 pm | Thursday, May 15th, 2014
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara. INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines — Neophyte Senator Juan Edgardo Angara immediately released to the media on Thursday all his PDAF records to prove that he has not allocated any of this fund to any non-government organization (NGO). PDAF stands for Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) also known as pork “barrel” funds. Angara made the move shortly after Senator Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, furnished reporters copies of the “pork” list allegedly prepared by Janet LimNapoles herself. The list mentioned a certain “Cong. Angara-APO” supposedly written in long hand by Napoles. “In light of the list released by the Blue Ribbon Committee which included my name (if it was indeed referring to me), here is my reply: All my PDAF from 2004 to 2013 were allocated to LGUs (local government units), schools and hospitals within my congressional district in Aurora,” Angara said in a statement. “For transparency, I have released all my PDAF records to the media. In my three terms as congressman, I have never allocated any of my PDAF to any NGO. Records will bear me out,” the neophyte senator added.
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Bank clients’ protection assured Category: Top News 14 May 2014 Written by Bianca Cuaresma Monetary authorities pushed local banks and other financial institutions to exert more effort in protecting the rights of their customers, as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) announced on Wednesday the approval of its new consumer‐protection framework.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) announced that the Monetary Board formally approved the Financial Consumer Protection Framework—a set of standards that would gauge the local lenders’ ability to uphold consumer protection. In a news briefing on Wednesday, BSP Deputy Governor for the Supervision and Examination Sector Nestor Espenilla Jr. described the effort of the central bank as a “proactive move” to make sure the rise of consumer loans would not become an issue “in both stability and from the standpoint of consumers” in the country. “It is quite timely to have a framework at this stage than wait for a crisis to happen,” Espenilla said. The framework provides for an evaluation process of all BSP‐Supervised Financial Institutions (BSFI) that would include periodic on‐site assessment and continuing off‐site evaluations. Financial institutions will then be given a composite rating based on their ability to follow the measures set in the new framework. The ratings are on a scale of 1 to 4—with 1 being poor and requiring close supervisory attention and monitoring, and 4 being strong and without cause for supervisory concern. Lenders are measured on five consumer‐protection standards that all BSFIs “should observe at all times” according to the central bank. These standards include disclosure and transparency; fair treatment; privacy of information; financial education and effective recourse facility. Under the provision of transparency, the central bank requires financial entities to provide all material details of an instrument or service before any transaction. The central bank also requires BSFIs to determine the suitability of products and services to the risk and financial profile of financial consumers. This goes beyond the current tests conducted by institutions, as the new framework requires them to cover selling practices of the staff and a special consideration for possible overindebtedness of consumers. Financial institutions are likewise required to protect the privacy of all their clients’ personal information.
“Information on a client could not generally be shared, absent the client’s authorization. BSFIs are not at liberty to share the client’s information even with their subsidiaries and affiliates for purposes of marketing and referrals,” the central bank said. Banks and other financial institutions must also strengthen their complaint‐handling mechanism as the BSP has observed “inconsistency in handling the complaints and laying out a framework” for clients. Espenilla said the complaints still mostly arise from credit‐card consumers. “The issues on credit cards are typically on the collection side—aggressive collection methods, request for restructuring when they are over‐indebted already,” Espenilla said. The implementation of the consumer protection framework will be effective 15 days upon the publication of the circular. However, banks will be assessed formally one year from the effectivity of the circular to give them time to review current systems, put new measures and train their staff, Espenilla said. If the central bank deems it necessary, the BSP may enforce actions to any BSFI depending on the gravity of institution’s inability to follow the measures put in the consumer‐protection framework. The enforcement actions will range from written reminders, corrective measures, notice of violation, administrative sanctions to disciplinary actions against directors and officers. Espenilla said the underlying theme of the framework is to move ahead of a potential problem early by making the ground rules early on. “Overall, the framework addresses the need to protect and empower the financial consumers. With increased transparency, fair treatment and assurance that their rights will be fully protected, financial consumers will have a greater confidence in the formal financial system. Empowered financial consumer drive competition, promote efficiency and productivity, thereby encouraging a dynamic and robust financial system,” the BSP said. Espenilla also said they would be presenting the new framework to other regulators and the country and hopes to propagate the consumer‐protection practice through the financial system. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/top‐news/32128‐bank‐clients‐protection‐assured
80% of NGP trees planted on Calamianes islands destroyed Category: Nation 15 May 2014 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga CORON, Palawan—An official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said about 80 percent of trees planted under the National Greening Program (NGP) on the Calamianes Group of Islands in Northern Palawan were destroyed by Supertyphoon Yolanda. Forester Edwin Cac, acting officer in charge of the Community Environment and Natural Resource Office (Cenro) for the Calamianes Group of Islands told the BusinessMirror that because of the devastation, the office is now focused more on rehabilitating the damaged NGP areas this year. Cac is one of the resource speakers in the ongoing National Media Workshop on “Ozone and Climate Linkages” being held here from May 14 to 17. The Calamianes Group of Islands covers four towns, namely, Coron, Busuanga, Linapacan and Culion. Cac said all trees planted under the NGP in 2011 to 2013 were destroyed. In 2011 the areas planted reached 314 hectares; 500 hectares in 2012 and 514 hectares, including 200 hectares of mangrove forests in 2013. Thus, he said, their target this year is to replant more than 1,000 hectares. “Most of these trees have been wiped out. There are few remaining, but almost 75 percent to 80 percent were destroyed,” Cac, also the chief of the Forest Management Service in the area, said. The estimated damage caused by Yolanda on the newly planted trees could easily reach P10 million, he said. In January Cac said the Cenro started to rehabilitate the tree nurseries that also sustained severe damage. The DENR maintains a 2,000‐hectare tree nursery within the Community‐based Forest Management Agreement site being maintained by Coron Watershed Beneficiaries Association‐Agroforestry‐Marketing Services Cooperative. These are located in barangays Guadalupe, San Nicolas, Borac and Seis.
The DENR also maintains subsidiary tree nurseries in the same barangays that cover a land area ranging from 500 square meters to 1,000 sq m. “By June we will be able to start rehabilitating the damaged NGP areas. We started seedling production last January,” he said. The NGP, President Aquino’s flagship reforestation program, aims to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares by 2016. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/nation/32167‐80‐of‐ngp‐trees‐planted‐on‐ calamianes‐islands‐destroyed
Higher NDRRMC budget sought by Charissa Luci May 15, 2014
As the Philippines braces for El Nino phenomenon, for more typhoons and other extreme weather conditions, a House leader is calling on Congress to increase the budget of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to arm the country against the threatening impacts of climate change. Iloilo Rep. Jerry Trenas, who sits in the powerful House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) cited the need to strengthen the NDRRMC, which is now headed by former Navy chief Alexander Pama. “A lot of strange weather conditions are now happening around the world because of climate change. We need to prepare for the worst and the government needs to upgrade in its disaster response capabilities. If needed, I think that Congress is prepared to increase the budget of the NDRRMC to make it more responsive during disaster situations,” he said. He also welcomed the appointment of Pama, who is an expert in logistics administration and command and control, counting on the latter that he would provide the government better coordination during emergency situations. “The Philippine Navy have always been at the forefront of the country’s disaster relief and rescue operations and this makes Pama a perfect choice as the new NDRRMC executive director,” Trenas said. Pama, a member of Philippine Military Academy class ’79 served as NDRRMC executive director and undersecretary at the Office of the Executive Secretary. He was named the Navy Flag Officer-in-Command in 2011. Prior to his appointment, he served as Navy Vice Commander, the second highest officer in the major service, Navy Inspector-General, and Naval Forces Western Mindanao chief. http://www.mb.com.ph/higher‐ndrrmc‐budget‐sought/
New climate‐change dilemma being faced by PHL government: ODS out, GWP in Category: Economy 15 May 2014 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga As the Philippines steps up the implementation of its phase‐out plan for ozone‐depleting substances (ODS), it now faces another serious challenge posed by the phasing in of alternative coolants with high global warming potential (GWP), officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said on Thursday. Ella Deocadiz, program manager of the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) – Philippine Ozone Desk, said there is no commercially viable, environment‐friendly alternative to Hydroflurocarbon, specifically HFC134A, being used for car air‐conditions, and Hydroclorofluorocarbons, specifically HCFC123, widely used for chillers or centralized air‐conditioning system in malls in the country. HFCs and HCFCs have high GWP that can contribute to greenhouse‐gas emissions that cause global warming. Deocadiz, who presented an overview and links between global treaty commitments to local policies, laws and regulations in relation to the implementation of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (Montreal Protocol) during the ongoing National Media Workshop on Ozone and Climate Linkages, said in European countries, the more environment‐friendly Hydrofluoro‐olefins, or HFO, is a lot expensive than HFC134A and HCFC123. According to Deocadiz, avoiding the offsetting of the Montreal Protocol climate benefits by phasing in high global warming potential alternatives to ODS is a major challenge for signatories to the treaty such as the Philippines.“While there are environment‐friendly alternatives to ODS, they are not yet commercially viable,” she said, explaining that HFOs are still patented while other alternatives have limited use. During her presentation, Deocadiz identified three other major challenges faced by the Philippines: the phasing out of the remaining ODS, notably HCFCs or Hydrochlorofluorocarbons by 2040, cracking down on illegal trade in ODS and disposal of ODS. The Philippines has no disposal facility for ODS. Under the Montreal Protocol, member‐countries committed to reduce and eventually eliminate the production and consumption of certain man‐made chemicals called ODS following an agreed timetable for developed and developing nations.
The Philippines import ODS mostly for coolants of car aircons and chillers of commercial and industrial buildings. In the last 25 years, the Philippines has been making significant strides, such as the establishment of the Philippine Ozone Desk to coordinate ODS phase‐out projects and policies; development, implementation and regular updating of policies and regulations on ODS; approval of 92 ODS activities or projects by the Multilateral Fund for the Philippines since 1991 amounting to more than $38.8 million; and most important, compliance with all obligations under the Montreal Protocol to date, including the total phase‐out of CFCs by January 1, 2010. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/economy/32170‐new‐climate‐change‐dilemma‐ being‐faced‐by‐phl‐government‐ods‐out‐gwp‐in
Project to re-establish 4 major watershed areas May 15, 2014
Manila, Philippines — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will embark on a project to re-establish over a million hectares of watershed areas in four of the country’s major upper river basins. The project will cover the Chico river basin in the Cordillera Region, Wahig-Inabanga in Central Visayas, Bukidnon in Northern Mindanao and the Lake Danao watershed in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said the seven-year Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Program (INREMP) will restore the severe land and water damage in vital watershed areas. He noted that the restoration of watersheds will be promoted using native trees. “INREMP is akin to the National Greening Program because it also targets to rehabilitate some one million hectares using 58 million indigenous tree seedlings that will be raised and grown under the project,” Paje said. The project will run from 2013 to 2020. Paje said the project also aims to provide livelihood to some 350,000 households in 2,201 barangays within the four river basins. The program adopts an integrated cross-sector approach to river basin management in a bid to improve the symbiotic relationship between existing economic activities and conservation practices being observed in river basins. “We are looking at the INREMP as a model on how to harmonize development and conservation issues, especially on biodiversity and climate change, in critical watershed areas that are located within these upper river basins,” Paje said. Paje also cited the importance of INREMP to global efforts to reduce greenhouse gases as the program seeks to bring down carbon dioxide emissions from forest activities. Of the four sites, the Upper Bukidnon River Basin has the highest coverage area at 446,620 hectares, while the Upper Chico River Basin covers 405,894 hectares, the Lake Lanao Watershed with 138,834 hectares and the Upper Wahig-Inabanga with 62,853 hectares.
Paje said the INREMP aims to reduce the rate of soil erosion from the four upper river basins to a total 4.6 metric tons by 2020. In 1999, an aggregate volume of 25.7 metric tons were found to have been eroded from the four river basins per year. Paje said all four basins have high biodiversity values besides being major providers of water requirements for major agricultural and industrial activities such as irrigation, power generation and local tourism. River basins are composed of ecologically and economically important watersheds that drain water through rivers and other tributaries there. Water resources in river basins are indispensable for domestic, agricultural, industrial and other purposes. The Chico River is a major river in the Cordillera Administrative Region. It is also a main source of water for irrigation at its origin in Mt. Province for vegetable production and downstream in Kalinga for rice production, making the province the region’s rice granary. Paje said it also has the potential to generate 1,000 megawatts of power. The Upper Bukidnon River Basin and the Lake Lanao Watershed feed the six major rivers of Mindanao, including Cagayan River and the Rio Grande. They also supply water to rivers that irrigate rice lands of Mindanao. The Bukidnon river basin provides 250,000 cubic meters of water per hour to Cagayan, Tagoloan and Pulangi rivers for irrigation. It also supports the operation of the Pulangi Hydroelectric Power Plant that supplies 25 percent of Mindanao’s power needs. Lake Lanao supports seven hydroelectric power plants supplying 55 to 65 percent of the power requirements of Mindanao. The Wahig-Inabanga River Basin in Bohol supplies the water requirements of three dams, Malinao, Bayongan and Capayas, which are considered national irrigation systems covering 10,040 hectares. http://www.mb.com.ph/project‐to‐re‐establish‐4‐major‐watershed‐areas/
BIR exempts low-cost house owners from taxes by Jun Ramirez May 15, 2014
Manila, Philippines — Taking a cue from the move of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) to increase the cost of socialized houses, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has issued a guideline exempting the owners of housing units from paying taxes if the house and lot cost P450,000 and below, or P180,000 for lot only. BIR Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares issued the guideline in Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 36-2014 after the HUDCC adjusted upward the cost of socialized houses from P150,000 to P450,000. In case of sale of lot only, the price will not exceed 40 percent of the maximum limit for house and lot package, or P180,000 of the P450,000 price ceiling, the HUDCC said. Revenue officials justified as realistic and timely the price changes, attributing them to the rising cost of both land and construction materials. They advised socialized housing developers to use the tax savings in upgrading the quality of dwelling units to attract more buyers. The sale of real estate properties is subject to the six percent capital gains tax and 1.5 percent documentary stamp tax. Socialized housing refers to housing projects of the government or the private sector for underprivileged and homeless families, including sites and services development, long term financing and liberalized terms on interest payments in accordance with the provision of Republic Act 7279. http://www.mb.com.ph/bir‐exempts‐low‐cost‐house‐owners‐from‐taxes/
BOC probe on tobacco firm not yet over By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 16, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines - The tobacco company Mighty Corp. may have already paid close to P900 million in tax liabilities, but the Bureau of Customs’ investigation is not yet over. In a letter dated March 10, Customs Commissioner John Sevilla informed Rodelio Dascil, director general of the Senate Tax Study and Research Office, that the BOC undertook initial reassessment of duties and taxes of entries covered by Mighty Corp.’s customs bonded warehouse privilege and demanded an additional payment of P852,904,552.09. Mighty, with office address at no. 55 MacArthur Highway, Barangay Tikay, Malolos, Bulacan, was able to pay its liability last Feb. 14. However, Sevilla said that even after payment was made, they are still “conducting a thorough investigation of the alleged illicit importation activities of Mighty. The BOC audit and investigation on Mighty continues, and these could lead to findings of more tax liabilities of Mighty.” But Sevilla informed Dascil that since there is an ongoing probe on the warehouse operations, they opted not to disclose any information because it could affect their investigation. Aside from the bureau, the Department of Finance, through its Fiscal Intelligence Unit, is also doing its own audit check of the company. Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 The Bureau of Internal Revenue is also looking into the possible under-declaration of sales volume following huge discrepancies between tax-paid volumes and retail trade surveys from AC Nielsen. - See more at: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2014/05/16/1323656/boc-probe-tobacco-firmnot-yet-over#sthash.rU3syMIZ.dpuf http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2014/05/16/1323656/boc‐probe‐tobacco‐firm‐not‐yet‐over
In the know: Cloud seeding Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:01 am | Friday, May 16th, 2014 Cloud seeding is the process of condensing clouds to create rain, particularly in areas where condensation is unlikely. The process involves dropping particles containing super-cooled water into clouds, which have temperature lower than the normal freezing temperature.
When these particles turn heavy and remain suspended in the air, they fall, melting on their way down to create rain. Cloud seeding in dry areas is made possible by seeding the atmosphere with chemicals, such as silver iodide or dry ice, to form ice crystals. The “seeds” are carried into the atmosphere by plane or by spraying from the ground.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/602580/in-the-know-cloud-seeding#ixzz31qglDDEJ Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
Proposal for still more foreign banks gains ground Category: Banking & Finance 15 May 2014 Written by Jovee Marie N. Dela Cruz The House of Representatives recently approved on third and final reading a bill allowing international players to acquire, purchase and own banks in the Philippines. House Bill 3984, filed by Liberal Party Rep. Nelson “Sonny” Collantes of Batangas, seeks to amend Republic Act 7721, or the law that liberalized the entry and scope of operations of foreign banks in the country. Under the proposed measure, the policy‐making Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) may authorize foreign banks to operate in the Philippines through any one of the following modes of entry: by acquiring, purchasing or owning up to 100 percent of the voting stock of an existing bank; by investing in up to 100 percent (from 60 percent) of the voting stock of a new banking subsidiary incorporated under the laws of the Philippines; and by establishing branches with full banking authority. It was added the foreign bank branch “may open up to five sub‐branches as may be approved by the Monetary Board.” The amendments also include the removal of the restriction allowing only those among the Top 150 foreign banks to enter the country and capital requirement of P210 million as permanently assigned capital. Instead, the foreign bank branch is now asked to put up an amount equal to the minimum capital required of domestic banks of the same category. The bill also said “the foreign‐bank applicant must be widely owned and publicly listed, unless the foreign‐bank applicant is owned and controlled by the government of its country of origin.” Such banks doing business in the Philippines through any of the (mentioned) modes of entry shall be allowed to bid and take part in foreclosure sales of real property mortgaged to them, as well as to avail itself of enforcement and other proceedings and accordingly take possession of the mortgaged property, “for a period not exceeding five years from actual possession: provided that, in no event shall title to the property be transferred to such foreign bank.”
“In case said bank is the winning bidder, it shall during the said five year period, transfer its right to a qualified Philippine national, without prejudice to a borrower’s right under applicable laws.” Should the bank fail to transfer such property within the five‐year period, it shall be penalized one‐half of 1 percent per annum of the price at which property was foreclosed until it is able to transfer the property to a qualified Philippine national under the proposed measure. In his explanatory note, Collantes said the opening of the banking sector to more established foreign banks was spurred by the economic benefits foreseen with the liberalized economy brought about by the General Agreement on Trade and Tariff. “The Philippines benefitted from this move by fostering competition in the banking industry which, in turn, raised the efficiency levels of banks through the adoption of new technology and enhancement of human resource skills, reduced operating costs, instilled corporate governance structure reforms, encouraged more transparency and further developed the supervisory and regulatory framework,” he said. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/banking‐finance/32146‐proposal‐for‐still‐ more‐foreign‐banks‐gains‐ground
DENR highlights mangrove protection in marking Ocean Month by Restituto A. Cayubit May 15, 2014
Tacloban City, Leyte — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Region 8 (DENR-8) is highlighting mangrove protection as the country marks May as Ocean Month. DENR-8 Regional Executive Director Leonardo R. Sibbaluca told local reporters in a recent interview that this year’s annual celebration of Ocean Month is by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 57 signed in 1999 instructing the agency to give importance to the conservation, protection and sustainable management of the country’s coastal resources. Sibbaluca said that this year, the annual celebration, themed “Mangroves Protect. Protect Mangroves,” puts particular focus on the country’s mangrove ecosystem. He said this year’s theme is extremely timely and significant in light of the magnitude of the destruction wrought by super typhoon Yolanda last November 8, 201. Yolanda is said to be the strongest tropical typhoon ever recorded. He pointed out that however unfortunate the disaster may have been, Yolanda was “undoubtedly an eye-opener for the Filipino people on what storm surges are, and was a rude awakening of sort on the state of our coastal communities and their lack of protection from these natural events.” Sibbaluca emphasized reports from the field offices revealing that mangroves was able to protect communities in various areas and saved the lives of many people when super typhoon Yolanda struck. He quotes testimony of a resident from Hernani, Eastern Samar saying that “If not for the mangroves, we would all have perished.” He informed reporters that as mangroves take center stage with the celebration of May as Ocean Month, a series of activities have been lined up to create awareness and involve the participation of communities. Among these are a lecture series on world migratory birds, visit to sites used by migratory birds as their refuge, mangrove clean-up and tree Planting, he said. Sibbaluca also informed reporters that motorboats will likewise be launched in three protected landscape/seascapes in the region. These are in Guiuan, Eastern Samar; San Jose, Northern Samar and in the Cuatro Islas of Hilongos and Inopacan in the province of Leyte. http://www.mb.com.ph/denr‐highlights‐mangrove‐protection‐in‐marking‐ocean‐month/
Editorial: Improving farmers’ land tenure security May 16, 2014
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) will distribute 694,181 hectares of land to 408,342 farmer-beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) by 2016. The government assures that all lands under the CARPER law will be covered by June 30, 2014, the last day of the law’s effectivity. DAR is issuing Notices of Coverage (NOCs) for agricultural lands to be distributed even after the law’s expiration. The CARPER law provides that once an NOC is issued, it will still be processed even beyond the June, 2014 landline. Republic Act (RA) 9700, the CARPER Law, signed on August 7, 2009, amended several provisions of RA 6657, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988. CARPER extended the land distribution program of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) by five years. It did away with the provision for voluntary land transfer, which was used for stock distribution option. For untitled privately claimed agricultural lands (UPALs) nationwide under the CARP, the DAR and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) jointly issued new guidelines under Administrative Order No. 3 to facilitate orderly land distribution. DAR distributes private agricultural lands and government-owned lands in proclaimed settlements while DENR distributes alienable and disposable public lands suitable for agriculture. Under the new rules, the maximum titling limit of 12 hectares mandated under the 1987 Constitution is observed in the acquisition and distribution of identified UPALs that are covered by Operation Land Transfer and the CARP. The applicable title limit of 24 hectares as prescribed under the 1935 and 1973 Constitution is also respected. An individual is considered to have acquired a private right over an untitled landholding if he has continuously occupied and cultivated the land for 30 years. Areas in excess of applicable titling limit will be retained under DENR and surveyed as one lot to be designated as public land. The guidelines, according to DAR, do not apply to UPALs that were issued with certificates of deposit. The government has stepped up the issuance of NOCs for landholdings to be acquired through compulsory acquisition. An NOC initiates the compulsory acquisition and distribution of private agricultural lands and is considered by DAR as a proceeding under CARPER. Meanwhile, farmer-beneficiaries and their families are assisted through livelihood opportunities and inputs to productivity such as irrigation, credit and market facilities, modern tools, education and training. http://www.mb.com.ph/editorial‐improving‐farmers‐land‐tenure‐security/
Those precious little raindrops by Elinando B. Cinco May 15, 2014
After confidently assuring the applauding public in 2011 that water shortage was a thing of the past in Metro Manila, officials of government agencies that have something to do with water utilization are now frantically moving heaven and earth asking for celestial help. Their petition is for a cascading rain to fall so that 1) residents of the metropolis will have enough water to drink, and 2) there will be sufficient volume of water to power those hydroelectric turbines. Last Monday, Metro Manilans woke up being greeted by a jolting announcement – they must heed government conservation measures and save water, or find their faucets flushing dry in a few days’ time. “Water in those dams are in critical level,” they warned. Rivers and waterfalls, ground sources of water in those reservoirs, are also fast drying up. So, what is there to do? Turn to the infinite expanse of the skies and pray for the rains to fall! All of a sudden, the rain has become Mother Nature’s most precious gift to Metro Manila. Everyone is looking up and scanning the skies expecting to see those little raindrops to come falling. In the meanwhile, Napocor officials did not hide their worries about the receding water level. And the major problem is Angat Dam in Bulacan. For example, where before the huge lake’s hydroelectric plant produced 18 kilowatts, these days it is only 9 kwh. Another disquieting apprehension is the possibility of rationing water to Metro Manila. All this is a potential scenario should the water level fall below 170 meters. Every year, whenever water crisis comes around, water utilization officials resorted to cloudseeding to induce rain. I guess the desired volume this time was not achieved. It even was marred by an aircraft accident. The last recourse was for a divine intervention. Officials were able to convince a dozen or so locals from indigenous families living near the Angat watershed to perform a “rain dance.”
Resplendent in their bright-red costumes, the natives performed rituals and prayers atop a platform of the dam. They implored their “bathala” to shower their area with rain. Their act of deity was shown on TV news programs Monday night. Not a few viewers were engrossed. They said they were only familiar with a “rain dance” as performed by various tribes who are descendants of native American Indians in the United States. They would take to the stage during anniversaries or commemoration days. However, the efficacy of the “rain dance” by Angat natives remains to be seen. That is, when cumulus clouds begin pouring rain on the parched lands in and around the lake and the dam’s catch basins. Any day soon, we all hope. http://www.mb.com.ph/those‐precious‐little‐raindrops/
Napoles was ‘principal’ player in fertilizer scam May 15, 2014 10:43 pm
by Joel M. Sy Egco Senior Reporter
Raji Mendoza, lawyer of Benhur Luy, stresses a point during an interview on Thursday with Times editors and reporters. Photo By Rene H. Dilan PORK barrel scam witness Benhur Luy is ready to blow the lid off the P728-million fertilizer fund scam which, according to him, was a “precursor” of the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) misuse, both of which were designed by businesswoman Janet LimNapoles. According to Luy’s lawyer Raji Mendoza, his client has informed him that he will spill the beans on the farm inputs scam “soon” after the recent release of the Commission on Audit (COA) report on the anomaly, to which about 140 former members of the House of Representatives were linked. “The fertilizer scam is a precursor [of] the pork barrel scam. He [Luy] said JLN [Napoles’ initials] was involved. He will give his affidavit to the NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] soon,” Mendoza said on Thursday during a roundtable with editors, columnists and reporters of The Manila Times. The lawyer claimed that it took time for Luy to reveal what he knows about the fertilizer scam because of the lack of a COA report to back his allegations. The affidavit will be submitted to the NBI and the Justice department is expected to file the appropriate charges against Napoles with the Office of the Ombudsman. “Wala pang date pero puwede nang simulan kasi may COA report na, [No date has been set but the process can start, given that the COA report is now out], ” Mendoza said. “This is part of the investigation conducted” on Napoles’ Jocris Trading, which supplied “overpriced” fertilizers to
three foundations that were set up by Napoles herself —Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (MAMFI), Philippine Agri and Social Economic Development Foundation Inc. (PASEDF) and People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation Inc. (POPDF), he added. “JLN was the supplier of organic fertilizers through Jocris Trading and the product was Prime EC. These three foundations acted as recipients of the supply,” Mendoza quoted Luy as saying. Interestingly, MAMFI, PASEDF and POPDF are among the many bogus non-government organizations and foundations used to siphon off PDAF or pork barrel funds. The same foundations were used in the PDAF scam after Napoles skirted the fertilizer fund investigations. The COA reported that in the questioned P330-million worth of fertilizers, two-thirds of it was allegedly overpriced. The biggest amount cited by the auditors was a P123-million excess cost in the purchase of 166,781 bottles of Prime EC Foliar Liquid fertilizers. The COA found that it was overpriced by P717.50 per 300 milliliter bottle and P1,335 per 1 liter bottle. Mendoza said Napoles, despite the investigations conducted by the Senate, even managed to continue the scheme on farm inputs because “maluwag [loose] ang COA guidelines [at the] time.” In deciding to come out in the open and pin Napoles down on the fertilizer scam, Mendoza said Luy is determined to prove that Napoles was a “principal” player in the fertilizer scam. “He will go with what is true,” the lawyer stressed. With Luy’s new testimony, Mendoza said the Senate may reopen the case and conduct another and much deeper probe. “They [Congress] can use creativity and reopen the fertilizer fund scam probe,” he pointed out. Mendoza said Luy had “meticulously” kept records of transactions involving the supply of overpriced fertilizers and could identify documents used by COA in coming out with its report. Luy’s lawyer said there is a “link” between the fertilizer scam and the pork barrel scam with the perpetrators of the PDAF scam learning lessons from the first, which was allegedly masterminded by former Agriculture Secretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante in 2004. Napoles and her minions are said to have refined and enhanced the money-making scheme and even made them more aggressive. The fertilizer scam was investigated by the Senate blue ribbon committee that pried into the P728 million in Department of Agriculture (DA) funds for the Ginintuang Masaganing Ani program.
The agricultural fund was allegedly used to bankroll the campaign of then-President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her allies during the May 2004 polls against the now late actor Fernando Poe, Jr. The committee claimed that the fertilizer scam was “premeditated, systematic and agricultural theft.” But in an eight-page decision signed on May 2 by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, the anti-graft agency junked the corruption case filed against the former president for lack of sufficient evidence. The schemes used in the fertilizer scam and the current pork barrel controversy were similar, according to Mendoza. During the Senate probe of the fertilizer scam, Napoles was summoned to appear twice by the committee but Arroyo then declared a state of national emergency at the height of antigovernment protests. This prevented Napoles from appearing before the Senate. Because of her non-appearance, Napoles was excluded from the blue ribbon and the Senate agriculture committee report that recommended the filing of plunder charges against Bolante, former Agriculture Secretary Luis Ramon “Cito” Lorenzo, former assistant secretary for field operations Ibarra Poliquit and several unnamed individuals and 6 private respondents. Napoles, citing published reports, denied in her counter-affidavit in connection with the serious illegal detention case filed by Luy that she was involved in the fertilizer scam. Luy, according to Mendoza, now has the ammunition to prove his claim and charge Napoles for this separate crime. http://www.manilatimes.net/napoles‐was‐principal‐player‐in‐fertilizer‐scam/96924/
Gov’t execs’ loot: P820M Andaya got biggest kickback amounting to P255M By Nancy C. Carvajal Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:25 am | Friday, May 16th, 2014
Fifth of a series
Former Budget Secretary and now Camarines Sur (1st district) Rep. Rolando Andaya: Biggest commission. FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—Cabinet secretaries in the Arroyo administration and officials of stateowned corporations—some of them still holding the same positions to this day—received a total of P820 million in commissions in schemes to siphon congressional pork barrel funds to ghost projects engineered by Janet LimNapoles, computer records of her former finance officer show. The commissions are recorded in the hard disk drive (HDD) by whistle-blower Benhur Luy set up at the behest of his former employer. They appear in two categories: disbursements and JLN cash and checks disbursements and Jo-Christine disbursements from 2003 to 2010. Luy’s files were made available to the Inquirer by Luy’s parents and siblings, accompanied by lawyer Levito Baligod, who handed over on April 27, 2013, a copy of the HDD during a visit to its newsroom to ask for help in exposing Napoles’ alleged plunder of state funds. These officials were supposed to implement projects funded by the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) aimed at improving the plight of farmers and workers mainly in the rural areas.
Former Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya allegedly received at least P255 million as commission for various projects that were supposed to be implemented by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) from 2006 to 2010, the Benhur accounting records show. The commission of Andaya, now a Camarines Sur representative, reached as high as 70 percent for one DAR project. On July 16, 2007, an entry of for P28-million commission appeared with the note “Andaya— cash charge to RAD project.” RAD stands for the Department of Agrarian Reform spelled backwards. Some of the commission Andaya received, the records show, were given to him through a Metrobank check. The records also show that Zenaida Ducut of the Energy Regulatory Commission earned commissions through implementing agencies such as the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), the Technology Resource Center (TRC), and the Department of Agriculture (DA). Ducut allegedly earned at least P12.2 million from PDAF projects coursed by Napoles through these agencies. “Atty. Zenaida Ducut cash advance charge to commission of DOTC-CA project.” one entry read. Teresita Panlilio, the current officer in charge of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council Secretariat and former DAR director of finance and management administration, purportedly received at least a total of P200 million in kickbacks. “RAD c/o Tess Panlilio—cash rebate charge to RAD P15 million project,” one of the entries showed. Nasser Pangandaman, DAR secretary from 2005-2009, received at least P94.1 million through a conduit, Rene Maglanque, according to Luy. A “Rene Maglanque cash for Nasser Pangandaman” and “SEC c/o Rene Maglanque full payment of commission charge to RAD project” were how the supposed kickbacks were described in the records. Lydia Malvar, according to the DOTC website, is assigned as its comptroller. Luy’s records show a total of P10.6 million under her name described as “DOTC/Malvar SOP.” Malvar is still comptroller today.
Antonio Ortiz, TRC director general from 2007 to 2009, received at least P7.3 million in commissions, according to various entries in Luy’s records. Dennis Cunanan, the current TRC head who was Ortiz’s deputy from 2004 to 2010, received at least P1.32 million in commissions, including the P960,000 declared by Luy in the recent Senate
blue ribbon committee hearing on the pork barrel scam. The amount was indicated as entry “TRC c/o Dir Cunanan – SOP-charge to RBR 40 m 2nd batch PDAF 2008 project.” “RBR” refers to Sen. Bong Revilla. Allan Javellana, former president of National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor), received at least P15.23 million as commission, the records show. “Nabcor c/o Allan J – full payment of SOP” the entries showed. Ophelia Agawin, DA assistant secretary, served as treasurer and director of state-owned ZNAC Rubber Estate Corp. (ZREC) from 2006 to 2010. The files show Agawin received at least P7.75 million in commission. “DA Ophelia Agawin – partial payment of the commission charge to CA project,” one of the entries shows. Hector Sales, DA director in the Bicol region, supposedly received at least P1.39 million in commissions. “Dir. Hector Sales SOP,” an entry shows. Domingo Reyes, a former DOTC assistant secretary earlier described by Luy as also Napoles’ connection in the department, allegedly received P1.67 million in commissions. “DOTC Assec Reyes 10 % SOP charge to TLRC project” the records show. Jeffrey Galan, then DAR undersecretary for support services, allegedly got at least P62 million in commissions. One entry says “Jeff Galan full payment of rebate charge to DAR P50 M project 2005.” Manuel “Boy” Jarmin, the current DA executive director for the Livestock Development Council, was also listed as a Napoles employee in the Luy files with at least P1.6 million in commissions. He is mentioned in an entry as “Manuel Jarmin – cash advance charge to RAD project.” Rene Maglanque, a former DOTC assistant secretary and incumbent mayor of Candaba, Pampanga, allegedly received P207 million from Napoles. Maglanque in the records of Luy also served as conduit of commissions for Pangandaman and Nieto for DAR projects. Maglanque’s entries in Luy’s records are classified into three—”Usec Nieto c/o Rene Maglanque,” “Rene Maglanque full payment of commission charge to RAD project” and “SEC c/o Rene Maglanque – full payment of comm charge to RAD project.” Narciso Nieto, then DAR undersecretary for operations during Pangandaman’s term, allegedly received P14.5 million in commissions, based on Luy’s records. “P1 million – RAD Nieto cash” one entry read. Belinda Gonzales, former DA undersecretary for administration and finance who was implicated in an earlier fertilizer scam, received P2.6 million in commissions.
Evangeline Poloyapoy, accountant at the DA regional field unit in Bicol, likewise received P150,000, the records showed. “DA RFU c/o Vangeline Poloyapoy – 1% SOP for accounting and finance BCARE project,” an entry read. Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/602604/govt‐execs‐loot‐p820m#ixzz31r8PQI2H Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
Super Napier is now here by Zac Sarian May 14, 2014
Since we first wrote about Pakchong 1, the so-called Super Napier from Thailand, more than a year ago, so many people have been asking us where they could source planting materials. Now, the planting materials are available. One of the very few who had the initiative to acquire planting materials is the King Ranch in Batangas. A big area in the farm is planted to different growth stages of the fast-growing grass.
SUPER NAPIER AT THE KING RANCH – This is a view of the Super Napier or Pakchong 1 which is very fast growing. The plants behind Alex Carlos and his two sons, Angelo and King, are the ones harvested for planting. The canes are cut with three nodes per cutting. These are planted like sugarcane, laid in the furrow and covered with soil. With proper moisture, sprouts will arise from the three nodes. In Thailand, this forage crop can produce as much as 500 tons per hectare. For feeding cattle, the plants are cut every 60 days or thereabouts. Super Napier is not hairy so it is well‐liked by livestock. It also has high protein content.
Alex Carlos will tell you that Pakchong 1 is really very fast growing. From the few kilos of planting materials that they initially got, they have now planted a big part of their property. The first plants are now harvestable for planting material. The canes of the plants for planting are cut into cuttings with three nodes each. These are planted like sugarcane. The cuttings are laid on the furrow and covered with a layer of soil then irrigated. With the proper moisture in the soil, the cuttings will sprout in a week or two, the tillers emerging from the three nodes. As many as ten canes can develop from one seedpiece. When it is time to harvest for feeding to animals or for planting materials, the rootstock will produce ratoons that may number more than 20 tillers. The tillers also grow very fast with adequate moisture and fertilizer. Spraying the plants with Power Grower Combo, a plant growth accelerator, will also hasten the growth of the plants. FOR DAIRY IN THAILAND — In Pakchong district in Thailand where Dr. Krailas Kyiothong developed the super grass, it is mainly used for feeding dairy cattle. There, some enterprising
business-minded farmers now specialize in growing Pakchong 1 for sale to the big and relatively small dairy farmers, including those raising in their backyards. FOR SMALL ANIMALS AND FISH, TOO — King Carlos, son of Alex who recently visited Dr. Kyiothong in Thailand, observed that Super Napier is also fed to tilapia, ducks, free-range chickens and pigs. For this purpose, the 45-day-old grass is harvested. It is finely shredded and fed to tilapia. The same is done for chickens and pigs. The Super Napier is said to contain about 17 to 18 percent crude protein. This makes it highly suitable for feeding the fish and small animals. For those growing organic pigs, the shredded Pakchong 1 could be incorporated in the fermented feeds like what Jess Domingo is doing with his pig feed in Alfonso Lista, Ifugao. According to King Carlos, he was told by Dr. Kyiothong that if you use the same in vermiculture, the resulting organic fertilizer will have a higher nitrogen content. DIFFERENT FROM OLD NAPIER — The Super Napier is in significant ways different from the ordinary napier grown by local farmers. First of all, it is very high-yielding. In Thailand, it has been recorded that it can produce as much as 500 tons per hectare in one year. The plant is cut every 45 to 60 days, depending on the usage. Another significant difference is that the leaves are smooth and without hair. That is why the animals love to eat it. It is also sweetish so it is highly palatable besides being very nutritious. King Ranch said that the planting materials can be picked up in Metro Manila or shipped by courier to the provinces. One pick up point is in Teresa, Rizal. CORN BORER LARVA AS HUMAN FOOD — Did you know that the larva of the most destructive Asiatic Corn Borer (ACB) is not only nutritious but also delicious as human food? Dr. Merdelyn Caasi-Lit, a senior scientist of the Institute of Plant Breeding in UP Los Baños, will tell you that she loves to eat the ACB instar that is four days old. Of course, she says that the instar should be produced in the laboratory so that it is clean. ACB instar as well as those of other lepidopterous insects are likewise nice to eat but not those caught in the wild because they may be polluted. Dr. Caasi-Lit is an expert in mass producing insect larvae in the laboratory. That’s part of her job at the IPB. She has been studying the possible alternate hosts of the corn pest when corn is not available. She talked about the results she has gotten so far during the national scientific convention of the Pest Management Council of the Philippines (PMCP) in Cebu City last May 69. There are many alternate hosts, the most popular of which is the Brachiaria mutica, a common weed. Another is what they call “mais-maisan” in Pangasinan.
It is important to know the alternate hosts of the pest so that the right intervention can be implemented when necessary. ORGANIC PIG PRODUCTION TRAINING — So many people are showing interest in organic pig production after we wrote recently about the profitable organic pig project of Jess Domingo in Alfonso Lista, Ifugao. Just two days ago, a group of accountants visited us in our office because they would like to know where they can train on organic pig production. Since they are from Manila, the first person that came to our mind is Ronald Costales of Costales Nature Farms in Majayjay, Laguna. The seminar will take two days to finish. The trainees will have to stay overnight at the lodging facility of Costales. The two-day training will include lectures as well as hands-on practice in constructing the pig house, compounding feeds with locally available materials, taking care of the brood sow, the piglets and other aspects of the project. You can search the address of the Costales farm in the internet. If you have a copy of Agriculture Magazine published by the Manila Bulletin, you can also see his advertisement there.
Log on to: zacsarian.com for practical farming ideas, new opportunities in farming, interesting agri-people and many others. You can also reach us at 0917-841-5477. http://www.mb.com.ph/super‐napier‐is‐now‐here/
Solar farms sought to alleviate energy crisis in Mindanao Published : Friday, May 16, 2014 00:00 Article Views : 45 SENATOR Loren Legarda has urged the government to establish “solar farms” in Mindanao to alleviate the energy crisis in Southern Philippines which is experiencing an average of 10 hours power outage e-very day. She renewed her call for more investments in renewable energy as part of a long-term solution to the growing power needs of the country, and in a bid to mitigate the effects of environmental degradation and climate change. Legarda made the call at the inauguration of Phase 1 of the San Carlos Solar Inc. (SACASOL) solar farm in Negros Occidental. SACASOL is a joint venture between Bronzeoak Philippines and the Swiss-German investment firm ThomasLloyd. She noted that the solar farm created 3,000 jobs as 300 workers are needed to maintain it. “The facility will sequester 17,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions and will feed the Visayas grid a total of 22 MW of clean energy to service power needs,” she said. “This can be replicated in Mindanao to solve our power woes. It is time that we heighten efforts to increase the country’s RE capacity. We need to increase our RE installation targets and make RE part of the solution to the country’s growing energy demand,” she said. “For a nation that is facing the daunting impacts of climate change, we need to take action towards drastically reducing greenhouse gases and carbon emissions,” said Legarda, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Climate Change. “Renewable energy is recognized as a long-term solution to the global effort to avert and mitigate the effects of climate change and the impacts of our expanding energy use. It is worth noting that the Philippines has huge potential for renewable energy development. We must encourage more investments on RE because the Philippines is abundant in such. It is second in geothermal energy use and studies show that we have more than 200,000 potential renewable energy resources that remain untapped,” she said.
OUT OF ORDER: Media ang nagpapagulo sa kontrobersyal na NapoList Friday, 16 May 2014 00:00 Written by Raymond Burgos
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Magkahalong kalituhan at kaguluhan ang bumabalot ngayon sa kontrobersyal na affidavit ni Janet Lim-Napoles na kung susuriin ay wala naman sanang gulo kung babalikan ang sirkumstansya ng affidavit ni Napoles na tinatawag ngayong Napo-List. Huling linggo ng Abril nang unang isiwalat ni Justice Secretary Leila de Lima na nakausap niya nang limang oras si Napoles sa kanyang kuwarto sa Ospital ng Makati bago ito sumailalim sa matinding operasyon.
Sa naturang miting ay binigyan si De Lima ni Napoles ng isang pirmado at notaryadong affidavit at base sa kanyang mga isiniwalat ay nakumbinsi ang kalihim ng Department of Justice (DOJ) na ikonsidera si Napoles bilang state witness sa multibilyong pisong pork barrel scam.
Ang pagkakamali lang ni De Lima ay nang kumpirmahin niya sa media ang Napoles affidavit ay tatlong senador lang ang kanyang pinangalanan at ito ay ang mga dati nang nadawit sa PDAF scam na sina Senador Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada at Bong Revilla.
Hindi pa naisasapubliko noon ang tungkol sa draft affidavit na ibinigay ng asawa ni Janet na si Jimmy Napoles kay Secretary Panfilo Lacson. Kaya nang marinig ni Lacson
ang pahayag ni De Lima ay nagsuspetsa ito na nililinis o sina-sanitize ang affidavit ni Janet kung kaya nagsalita siya sa media na meron din siyang kopya ng affidavit ng sinasabing mastermind ng pork barrel scam.
Sinabi ni Lacson sa isang forum na 12 senador, kabilang ang mga incumbent at wala na sa Senado, ang nakatransaksyon ni Napoles gamit ang kanilang PDAF at kapalit ng mga komisyon na mula 40-50 percent ng kabuuang halaga ng pork barrel. Walang pinangalanan si Lacson pero sinabi niya na ikinagulat niya ang pagkakasangkot ng ilang pangalan dahil hindi niya inakala na sabit din ang mga ito dahil sa kanilang pagiging maingay noong kasagsagan ng Senate inquiry sa PDAF scam.
Dahil sa pagbubunyag na ito ni Lacson ay napilitan si De Lima na aminin na mahigit 12 senador at hindi bababa sa 100 kongresista ang nasa listahan ni Napoles na nakatransaksyon niya sa PDAF. Ang unang nakagulo sa Napoles affidavit ay si jueteng whistleblower Sandra Cam na biglang sinabi sa media na mayroon din siyang kopya ng Napo-List na hanggang ngayon ay wala pang nakakakita at ni hindi niya masabi kung saan nanggaling. Ang ikalawang nakagulo ay si Pangulong Noynoy Aquino na biglang nagsabi na nakatanggap din siya (Sundan sa p. 5) ng kopya ng Napo-List pero ang hindi niya sinabi ay kung sino at kailan ito ibinigay sa kanya.
Ang ikatlong nakagulo ay ang digital files ni Benhur Luy na sinasabing binigyan ng kopya ang Philippine Daily Inquirer noon pang Mayo 2013 at nakakapagtaka kung bakit ngayon lang inilalabas ng naturang pahayagan matapos ang isang taon Sa kasalukuyan ay masasabing media na rin ang nagpapagulo sa Napo-List dahil pinalalabas ngayon sa media na wala nang puwedeng pagkatiwalaan ang publiko sa mga naglipanang Napo-List.
Pero kung babalikan nga ang sirkumstansya ng pagbibigay ng Napoles affidavit kay Lacson at kay De Lima ay makikita natin na draft copy lang ang kopya ng rehabilitation czar samantalang final copy na ang ibinigay kay De Lima. Kaya maling sabihin na maraming bersyon ang Napo-List dahil si Lacson at De Lima lang naman ang opisyal na binigyan ng kopya ng naturang affidavit.
Kung ako ang tatanungin, ginamit ng mga Napoles na “insurance” si Lacson sakali nga namang ang notarized affidavit na ibinigay kay De Lima ay mabalewala o ‘di kaya ay ma-sanitize gaya ng naging suspetsa ni Lacson. Ano sa palagay niyo? http://www.abante.com.ph/op/item/5334‐out‐of‐order‐media‐ang‐nagpapagulo‐sa‐kontrobersyal‐na‐ napo‐list.html
Target senators’ suspension to last 90 days — Drilon Written by Angie M. Rosales Friday, 16 May 2014 00:00
The three Palace-targeted senators in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam will continue to serve their term after a 90day suspension despite their arrest as a result of the Ombudsman’s expected filing of plunder charges against them. While the plunder law provides for the automatic suspension of Palace-targeted Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr., it would only be for 90 days based on jurisprudence, Senate President Franklin Drilon said yesterday. The Ombudsman is hearing the appeal of the three opposition senators after finding probable cause to charge them for plunder. Once the plunder charges are filed, which is likely, the court will issue arrest warrants against the legislators. Drilon said while the plunder law provides automatic suspension, jurisprudence dictates the duration would be limited. “Under the Supreme Court decision, the preventive suspension is for 90 days, which is
the prevailing jurisprudence as outlined in the case of [former Zambales] Gov. [Amor] Deloso. The Supreme Court said it is not correct to have a perpetual prevention suspension because suspending perpetually will be in fact dismissing the public official,” Drilon said. Drilon added he had signed the subpoena requiring whistle-blower Benhur Luy to submit to the Senate blue ribbon panel Luy’s digital records pertaining to the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) scam. Luy was the former finance officer of pork barrel scam brains Janet Lim Napoles. “We already issued a subpoena duces tecum for the production of these digital files,” Drilon said during the weekly Kapihan sa Senado media forum. ”I signed the subpoena yesterday (Wednesday) duces tecum for the production of the digital files addressed to Benhur and not for (Senate) hearing,” Drilon explained. Luy, who is under the witness protection program of the Department of Justice (DoJ), has been given until May 21 to surrender the PDAF scam digital records. Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano had pushed for the reopening of the Senate inquiry into the pork barrel scam, while suggesting the modification of rules to allow the senators linked to PDAF to be cross-examined. Drilon, however, opposed Cayetano’s proposal, saying that all the Senate public hearings and inquiries are in aid of legislation. ”I’m not in favor because we should not forget that a committee hearing in the Senate and in the House is in aid of legislation which is the principal purpose,” Drilon explained. Drilon added the Senate is not in crisis and it will remain strong as an institution amid the pork barrel scandal. ”The Senate will not collapse as seen by some people,” Drilon said, obviously referring to former Senator Panfilo Lacson who warned the very institution he served for 12 years would crumple if the Janet Lim Napoles list would be made public. The Napoles list, also known as Lacson list, was composed of 98 individuals, including 12 incumbent and former senators, who allegedly dealt with Napoles, the supposed mastermind of the P10-billion priority development assistance fund (PDAF) scam. Last Tuesday, Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Senator Teofisto Guingona III made public the Napoles list that include Senators Revilla, Estrada, Enrile, Vicente Sotto III, Loren Legarda, Aquilino Pimentel III, former Sen. Manny Villar, Sen. Gregorio Honasan II, former and the late Sen. Robert Barbers, Sen.Francis Escudero, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and Sen. JV Ejercito (as former congressman). ”There may be some problems of individual members but the Senate as an institution remains strong. The Senate is composed of different people. Politicians come and go,
senators come and go, but the Senate will remain as an institution that is part of our democratic government,” Drilon said in the weekly Kapihan sa Senado media forum. Aside from the Napoles list given by Lacson, Guingona has subpoenaed decus tecum the separate Napoles lists at the hands of whistle-blower Benhur Luy and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. Cayetano, who already denied his involvement in the pork scam, said the Senate faces crisis “in terms of credibility.” ”But it can still function. Unless we have hearing (on pork scam) soon and people get to know the truth, we’re approaching an area where the people have no more faith and confidence to the Senate,” Cayetano said. For Drilon, the best way to recover the people’s trust in the Senate as an institution is to continuously work on the proposed measures. ”We believe that the way to recover our people’s trust, regain and strengthen our people’s trust in our institution is to continuously work on these measures,” Drilon said. Drilon said the Senate remains on track on its commitment to pass measures pending in the Upper Chamber, assuring the public that the institution would still be able to deliver the legislation of bills much needed by the nation. “Despite the issues facing certain senators, we have remained focused on our legislative work so as not to derail the approval of important measures that we are deeply committed to pass for the benefit of our people,” he stressed. Drilon emphasized the Senate’s close coordination with the House of Representatives expedites and boosts overall legislative performance. “Never had there been a closer working relationship between the two chambers which have resulted in a speedier passage of bills of national importance,” he said. Drilon said that records show that the Senate of the 16th Congress has outpaced the legislative output of the Senate in the previous Congress. During the first regular session of the 15th Congress from July 26, 2010 to May 14, 2011, only two measures were enacted into law, five bills approved on second and third reading, and one treaty was ratified. While for the same period in the 16th Congress, five measures were enacted into law, six were approved on second and third reading, and three treaties were ratified. Among the bills signed into law by the President are the 2014 General Appropriations Act, the P14.6-billion supplemental budget as well as a joint resolution extending the validity of the 2013 calamity and quick response fund in order to capacitate government’s rehabilitation program on areas devastated by super typhoon “Yolanda,” and the postponement of the Sangguniang Kabataan elections.
Also enacted was the law establishing the Maritime Industry Authority as the single maritime administration in order to comply with international standards. “Because of Congress’ timely intervention, we had prevented the possible loss of jobs of around 80,000 Filipino seafarers in Europe. The European Union acknowledged our efforts and gave us more time to reform our maritime industry,” said Drilon. http://www.tribune.net.ph/headlines/target‐senators‐suspension‐to‐last‐90‐days‐drilon
Big time cover up, for sure Written by Ninez Cacho-Olivares Friday, 16 May 2014 00:00
Malacañang keeps on claiming it will go where the evidence leads, and no one, friend or foe, is to be spared. This claim, however, is no different from, to borrow the buzzword of the Palace, its Justice chief, Luy and Janet Lim-Napoles lawyers, along with the Noynoy allies, “a mere scrap of paper” claim. The undeniable fact is that it is precisely the Palace aides who have been hiding the evidence against themselves, Noynoy included, when the evidence involves the allies, which is why it would be easy for Noynoy and his aides to claim their non-inclusion because the evidence does not support the allegations. There is Leila de Lima and her sanitation team, meeting with Napoles, ensuring that the allies will not be named, or, if named, the claim will be that there is no evidence against them, because whatever evidence exists against these allies, especially Butch Abad and Proceso Alcala, as well as the senatorial allies, will never be presented by either De Lima or Napoles, if she gets what she wants, which now is bail and a reduction of charges against her as immunity won’t pass. This is why De Lima, who now says that there is now a signed statement from Napoles, but only against the three opposition senators and five others, with additional claims from De Lima saying that Benhur’s digital list of the funds given to some 25 senators and close to 90 congressmen, is a “mere scrap of paper” as it is unsigned and unauthenticated. Heck, even Napoles’ lawyer is into the sanitation process, as in an interview, he stated that when Napoles encodes a name, she sees it the next day and asks, why was this person included? I was only joking. See? From the start, the three opposition leaders, Senators Juan Ponce-Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, were the targets of Noynoy and his Liberal Party, his Palace aides, De Lima, Commission on Audit chief Grace Pulido-Tan and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales. This has become much too clear, from the selective special audit report of Tan, to the refusal of Butch Abad and his Department of Budget and Management to submit all the documents on the senators, even limiting the audit years from 2007 to 2009. And there was no audit at all on Noynoy and his anointed, Mar Roxas, with his allies in the Senate having anywhere from 10 to 20 percent audit. The rest followed: Make them look guilty, indict them, elevate this to the Ombudsman, then get the Sandiganbayan justice in charge to charge them and give them no bail. Heck, even without any arrest order, the Philippine National Police is already readying their detention cells and announcing it proudly. If that is not already putting the Noynoy cart before the horse, what else is? And now, even with several lists of the officials implicated in the pork barrel scams and
after close to a month of Leila and Napoles talking of a deal, she ends up with a signed affidavit linking only the three senators. And De Lima has the gall to claim that the list is not being sanitized, while Napoles’ lawyer and spokesman, vouches for De Lima and his client’s non-sanitation of the list. Joking too, lawyer Bruce Rivera? But of course, Napoles lawyer is out to protect his client, and is working with De Lima to get a good deal for Napoles, who then will have to do what De Lima wants her to do, which is to just focus on the three senators, and do away with the allies. Janet’s lawyer will mouth what De Lima mouths, otherwise, no deal is forthcoming, and apparently, De Lima and Noynoy of course will be granted immunity — as long as Napoles sings the song Noynoy and his protected species want her to sing. Why Noynoy, Abad and De Lima believe they are credible when they say that the list from Napoles given to De Lima has not been sanitized makes them fairly delusional? Who is to believe that the list and signed affidavit from Napoles which will be submitted to the Senate — if at all — has not been sanitized, precisely to cover up the crime committed by those in the Executive Department and Noy allies in the Senate? Close to a month it has been, yet De Lima can’t come up with a signed affidavit save for one that implicates only the three opposition senators? And worse, how can Noynoy even be credible about not covering up for his boys and his allies, when he even comes out to say that Abad et al. continues to enjoy his trust and confidence? That’s a clear and strong message from him to Leila, the Ombudsman and yes, the Sandiganbayan justices that his allies are not to be touched. Of course, it’s not just the presidential message to them that is sufficient, but one can be 100 percent certain that, when the signed affidavits of Janet in their entirety, will completely erase the names of the allies, through the simple expedient of claiming that she no longer has the evidence against them. And the reason Noynoy, his allies, the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan want the three arrested immediately and charged, is to divert the public attention from the involvement of Noynoy’s allies, his aides so named in the Napoles lists while focusing on the arrests of the three. And Noy claims there will be no sacred cows, with foes and allies alike not being spared? What hypocrisy from a bunch of crooks in Malacañang and the Senate who expect to be spared. http://www.tribune.net.ph/commentary/big-time-cover-up-for-sure
‘Big bad’ Abad Written by Tribune Editorial Thursday, 15 May 2014 00:00
The Janet Lim-Napoles Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) syndicate appears to have been the brainchild of no less than Liberal Party (LP) stalwart Budget Secretary Butch Abad — which says a lot about the origin of the Palace-scripted operations against Senators Juan Ponce-Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. The documents surrendered by former Sen. Panfilo Lacson to the yellow ribbon committee of Sen. TG Guingona included a timetable of the pork scam based on the narration of Napoles which he had obtained through Jimmy Napoles, the husband of Janet. The narration started in 2000 when Napoles first started taking lessons from Abad on forming foundations and using these as conduits for the legislators’ pork barrel. It is not a coincidence now that the evidence obtained by the Commission on Audit (CoA) was controlled through Abad’s Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and clearly geared toward the target senators because precisely Abad knew just how things work in the Napoles syndicate which he, so says Janet, helped create. If Abad is the conjurer of the scam, logic dictates that not only those in the opposite political fence must have benefited from it. The CoA in the conduct of its Special Audit on the PDAF said the findings resulted from documents provided by the DBM. But in a comment contained in the document, it admitted that the DBM did not provide all the documents it sought for the audit. “The DBM could not provide the (CoA) team, despite repeated requests, with a complete schedule of releases per legislator from PDAF for soft projects and various infrastructure including local projects (VILP) for hard projects,” a qualifier contained in
the CoA Special Report said. The report thus had comprehensive accounts, in some cases a complete rundown, on all the PDAF use of the target senators while documents for allies, except in a few cases the obvious intent of which is to head off allegations of selective release of the DBM documents, were barely included, especially congressional insertions, where some big time Noynoy allies are claimed to have made a pile of kickback money. A Palace plot became clear in the pork barrel scam investigations when even the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation started releasing piecemeal findings, the intent of which again was to focus the plunder crime on the three senators even as the allies were into it, so claims Benhur Luy. The documents Lacson delivered to the Senate panel included the narrative of the creation of the Napoles syndicate, the list of those involved in the scam and the unsigned affidavit of Napoles which could have been all executed in case of some unsavory incident happening. While Lacson made a good case about baring the documents as an insurance against a whitewash, there is a lingering feeling that the move appears similar to a pressure valve to limit the effects of the damage from the scandal. The Lacson documents attributing to Abad the birth of the Napoles pork barrel syndicate, carries the presumption that it was the LP stalwart who has been running the operations prior to Napoles. Abad was right in saying that the scandal has the potential of bringing down the entire government of Noynoy since the implication is that the whole administration may have been involved in it. Would the entire LP as a party be the originator of the scam since Abad is one of its key officials? Would Noynoy not only be a participant but an insider in the PDAF scam operations? It is a question similar to the hypothetical one which happened before the Big Bang that created the universe. Who else but the creator would know? Now that the cat is out of the bag, the million dollar question is if the Noynoy allydominated Senate will have the guts to probe â€œbig badâ€? Abad and of course, themselves since they have been implicated too in the pork scam.
Farm output flat in 1st quarter
IMPACT of damage from last year’s storms has begun to weigh on the economy, forcing farm output growth to slow last quarter from a year ago and from the preceding three months, according to the latest government report. The first-quarter report, released yesterday by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), showed farm production edged up by a nearly flat 0.67% in the first three months of the year, a performance “traced to devastating effects of typhoons that hit the country last year.” Farm output for the entire year is officially targeted at 3.5-4.5%, Emerson U. Palad, undersecretary and spokesman of the Agriculture department, said in a telephone interview yesterday. Agriculture accounts for a third of the country’s total employed but contributes less than a fifth to national output. The strongest of three storms last year, Yolanda (international name Haiyan), that hit central Philippines on Nov. 8 was estimated to have killed more than 6,000 people and damaged P20.262 billion worth of agricultural facilities and crops and P39.831 billion worth of infrastructure. “The output increases noted in the crops livestock and poultry subsectors were negated by contraction in the fisheries subsection,” the report explained. Last quarter’s results compare with 3.3% and 1.13% expansion rates recorded a year ago and in the preceding quarter, respectively. The sector ended last year with 1.15% growth, slower than 2012’s 2.89% and missing a 4.3-5.3% goal under the Philippine Development Plan. Gross earnings of the agricultural sector last quarter totaled some P386.6 billion at current prices, up 10.75% from a year ago. KEY GRAINS The crop subsector, which made up half of total farm output, expanded by 1.53%, with rice and corn growing 3.28% and 1.33%, respectively.
A PSA report on rice and corn outlook that was released separately from official farm output data yesterday said “forecasts on standing crops for both crops indicate higher production in the second quarter of 2014”, due to increased harvest area and yield. Palay production last quarter totaled 4.31 million metric tons (MT), up 3.28% from 4.17 million MT the previous year. Adding a forecasted 4.00 million MT this quarter that is up 4.56% from the 3.83 million MT produced last year, production of unmilled rice is expected to total 8.31 million MT this semester, 3.89% more than 8.00 million MT in the first half of 2013. Palay production is then expected to pick up by 4.51% to 3.51 million MT next quarter from 3.36 million MT a year ago. Corn output posted a 1.33% increase to 2.28 million MT last quarter from 2.25 million MT a year ago. Some 2.56 million MT has been projected for this quarter -a 1.45% fall from the previous year’s 2.60 million MT amid farmers’ apprehension to plant “due to the pronouncement of El Niño phenomenon by PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical & Astronomical Services Administration).” Production of corn this semester is expected to total 3.49 million MT, 4.88% more than the 3.32 million MT produced in the same six months last year. PSA officials were not immediately available to explain the discrepancy in quarterly figures and projection this semester. Output is expected to fall 1.45% annually next quarter, the report said, without giving figures. OTHER SECTORS Livestock production, which contributed 15.44% to total agricultural output, went up 1.20%, driven by a 1.25% expansion of the hog industry. Poultry output, which made up 14.46% of total farm production, grew 1.33%, helped partly by 2.50% and 0.10% upticks in chicken and duck production, respectively. Fisheries, however, which accounted for 15.70% of the total, contracted by 3.25% annually, dragged by reduced production across most species except skipjack tuna, whose output grew 4.62%. On average, farm gate prices received by farmers increased 10.01% annually: crops recorded an average 15.81% hike; livestock, 4.34%; poultry, 3.90%; while fisheries edged up just 0.62%. Sought for comment on the report, Rolando T. Dy, executive director of the Center for Food and Agri Business of the University of Asia and the Pacific, cited “high
downside risks” to farm output growth down the road. “Growth could go flat or even lower,” Mr. Dy said via text, citing El Niño’s impact on crops and fishery, as well as typhoon Yolanda’s effects on coconut, palay and fishery production.
Posted on May 15, 2014 10:41:33 PM
Posted on May 15, 2014 09:27:20 PM
Shrinking trading gains hurt PSBank profit
THE PHILIPPINE Savings Bank (PSBank), the thrift bank unit of the Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. (Metrobank), saw its earnings skid 77.01% in the first quarter in the absence of trading gains that boosted profit last year. PSBank’s net income hit P468.67 million in the first three months of the year, just a quarter of the P2.04 billion it reported during the same period last year. “The Bank reflected higher other operating income in 2013 due to the significant gains on its securities trading activities [in the period],” according to the bank’s unaudited financial report submitted to the Philippine Stock Exchange yesterday. The fall in trading profits was partially offset by better numbers for the bank’s core businesses. “As of March 2014, net interest income improved to P1.88 billion from P1.53 billion in 2013,” PSBank said, noting growth of 22.9%. Interest income on loans and receivables was higher in the first quarter, up 12.07% to P2.16 billion from P1.92 billion. Other interest income -- from securities and deposits with the central bank -- meanwhile fell. Meanwhile, interest expense on deposits declined by 20.58% to P507.96 million “due to lower cost of funds.” Total interest expense was at P554.40 million, lower by 18.87% from P683.35 million. The bank’s other operating income decreased by 87.19% to P397.18 million due to lower trading gains recorded during the first quarter of 2014. Its P104.09 million trading gain during the period is almost 97% lower than the P3.03 billion recorded last year. As of March 31, the bank’s return on equity stood at 11.46%, lower than the
14.24% reported a year earlier. Its capital adequacy ratio -- a measure of financial health relative to the risks a bank takes -- was 16.38%, steady from end-December but lower than first quarter last yearâ€™s 18.6%, as Basel 3 rules required reclassification of bank capital. PSBank closed its Basel 3 bond sale last Wednesday, ahead of schedule, as it drew in funds three times more than the P3-billion issue size. The fresh capital, it had said, would be used to beef up its capital base and partly fund expansion.
Region 12 improves corn production May 15, 2014 10:53 pm
GENERAL SANTOS CITY: Region 12 was the country’s second top corn producer last year based on records released by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics on Thursday. Department of Agriculture Director Amalia Jayag-Datukan said Region 12 harvested 1,305,607 metric tons (MT) from around 440,000 hectares. Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cota–bato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato. “From rank three in 2012, we’re now second in terms of corn production among 17 regions in the country,” Datukan said. She said the region’s corn output last year represented 18.4 percent of the country’s total production and 32.5 percent of the entire Mindanao. Cagayan Valley region topped the list with a total corn production last year of 1,713,674 MT. The other top corn-producing regions are Northern Minda-nao (1,185,036 MT), Autonomous Region in Muslim Min–danao (667,104 MT), Ilocos (447,503 MT) and Western Visayas (345,527 MT). In 2012, Region 12 posted a total corn production of 1,201,579 MT, which accounted for 16 percent of the country’s overall corn production performance. Owing to such accomplishment, the DA’s Agri-Pinoy corn program coordinator Zaldy Boloron said the region is dedicated and even more driven to improve on its present standing. “In due time, we will be the top corn producer in the country,” he said. Boloron explained that this year, the DA central office has set aside some P180.160 million for the corn program. Such funding is 45.8 percent higher compared to P123.426 million budget in 2013. Boloran said 47 percent of the allocation was earmarked for post-harvest facilities development services, which includes the establishment of village-type corn-on-cobs dryers and corn mills. This year, Boloran said the target is five percent increase in the region’s corn yield or total production of 1,368,614 MT. http://www.manilatimes.net/region-12-improves-corn-production/96941/
Hot weather affects coffee industry in Bataan May 15, 2014 10:52 pm
by ERNIE ESCONDE ORANI, Bataan: The climate in Tala, an upland village at the foot of Bataan National Park in Orani town used to be similar to that in Tagaytay City, Batangas and very suitable for coffee production. But the hot weather during the later part of last year and this year reduced coffee production by more than 50 percent, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) reported on Thursday. “Previously, 50 hectares planted to coffee in Tala produced from 50 to 70 tons of coffee beans worth P5 million to P7.5M. But this year, the production was only 25 tons equivalent to P2.5M,” said DTI development specialist Cindy Jaime. “Biglang nagbago ang klima, nanibago rin ang kape. Ang pamumulaklak hindi natutuloy [The climate suddenly changed, the coffee plants failed to adapt. The plants did not bloom any–more],” Jaime said while showing the P1.2-M drying, grinding and packaging equipment the DTI gave to coffee growers in Tala. She said climate change has affected 33 families or 255 farmers involved in coffee production. Jaime said Tala used to enjoy cool climate with temperature of 20 to 27 degrees Celsius. Planted in the upland village are Robusta and Arabica coffee beans. There are some Alamid and Kapeng Barako. Juanita Mendoza, farm caretaker for 15 years, said the hot weather caused the leaves, branches, flowers and the coffee beans to wilt. “Hindi lumalaki ang bunga dahil sa matinding init. Dapat pare-pareho ang laki ng bunga pero ngayon may maliliit, may patuyo na [The fruits did not grow because of extreme heat. The fruits should have the same size but now, some are smaller and others are withering,” she said. Mendoza only harvested two tons from the two-hectare coffee farm that used to yield five tons. “Dati mula Enero hanggang Abril nag-aani kami pero ngayon hanggang Pebrero lang dahil walang bunga [Before, we harvest from January to April, but now, it’s only up to February because there are no fruits,” Mendoza said.
â€œSana masuportahan ang kapihan sa pamamagitan ng patubig at abono [Hopefully, the coffee industry will be supported by irrigation and fertilizer],â€? she appealed to the government. It takes three years for coffee plants to mature and bear fruits. After that, fruits can be harvested every year. http://www.manilatimes.net/hot-weather-affects-coffee-industry-in-bataan/96939/
Lists confirm Aquino’s political assassination plot May 15, 2014 10:44 pm
by RIGOBERTO TIGLAO Nearly for a year since the pork-barrel scam was exposed, we were barraged with one message: The five senators who stole taxpayers’ money through alleged mastermind Janet Napoles’ scheme were Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Revilla, and on a lesser scale, Ferdinand Marcos and Gregorio Honasan — all opposition figures. Top criminals of course have aliases, so the first three were dubbed, “Tanda,” “Payat,” and “Pogi, ” respectively by a disrespectful BenHur Luy, allegedly the main whistleblower. Strangely, though, Luy could not claim that he had ever met personally the three senators, much less hand over to them the dirty money.
Lists got longer and longer. (Click image to enlarge.) Obviously to correct that weakness in Luy’s testimony, another “star” witness. Ruby Tuason—now from the upper class, unlike Benhur—testified that she herself had
delivered the graft money to Estrada himself at his Senate office and to Enrile through his chief of staff lawyer Jessica “Gigi” Reyes. Enrile in effect confirmed he knew what was going on when he fetched Reyes at the restaurant where she met with Tuason for the pay-off. The barrage of alleged details on the amounts received by the three as their lions’ share in the scam in the Senate hearings was aimed at debunking the three accused’s defense: That these exposes were merely President Aquino and his camp’s plot to politically assassinate them to stop them from running either for the presidency and the vice-presidency in 2016. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima tried to debunk that claim by saying that her office and the Ombudsman would “soon” file charges against a second batch of legislators involved in the scam. Indeed, de Lima released information on the involvement of members of the House who were also involved in the pork-barrel scam, such as Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon when he was Muntinlupa congressman. But so many months have passed since de Lima made those claims. The game plan seems to be to delay the filing of those new charges until the 2016 election season, with Enrile, Estrada, and Revilla so damaged that the latter two won’t dare run for office. But as that famous quote goes, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.” Or in this case, make that rats and men. For some reason, the operator of the pork barrel scam, or at least one of the operators, Janet Lim-Napoles, just before her hysterectomy, summoned Justice Secretary de Lima and revealed to her in the course of five hours more details on the scam, and all of the politicians who were her accomplices and mentors. The public of course didn’t know of that secret meeting. But we a have a blabbermouth of a justice secretary, because as revealed only the other day , she plans to run for the senate in 2016. She called the reporters covering her, and claimed that Napoles revealed to her — and only to her — a list of politicians involved in the scam, and how much they made. De Lima said Napoles even signed an affidavit on what she revealed to her. De Lima ran to her boss Aquino right after her meeting to report to him Napoles’ revelations. I can imagine she told Aquino: “Now I know something that could embarrass you, but I could be very cooperative, and sanitize the Napoles list. What do you want me to do, Boss?” De Lima of course was being played by Napoles, who apparently had a copy of her affidavit, although unsigned — together with the list — given to Senator Panfilo Lacson by her husband a month earlier. Lacson of course jumped at the opportunity of being in the limelight by telling the world that he seems to be such an honest man as to be trusted by Napoles’ husband with the
list. Just a bit of public pressure, and of course Lacson jumped to publicly disclose the list and gave a copy to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. Hey guys, we were the ones who scooped everybody, and had the list before anyone heard of a pork-barrel scam, the newspaper Philippine Daily Inquirer seemed to say. The newspaper’s Nancy Carvajal, who has suddenly become the country’s top investigative journalist with her exclusive pork-barrel exposes, reported that Benhur’s family gave her a copy his computer’s hard-drive on April 27, 2013, more than a year ago, which contained the details of how much was given to whom in the pork-barrel scam. Based on the data in the hard-drive, Carvajal came up with new list of incumbent and past senators involved in the scam. Not to be outdone, de Lima the next day claimed that the National Bureau of Investigation she heads was also given a copy in May 2013. Aquino himself proved to be a blabbermouth. Asked about the list, he said in a press briefing May 12 that the one given to her by de Lima had discrepancies from the one given to her by Napoles when she surrendered in August last year, or eight months later. De Lima and Aquino’s revelations brings us to the incontrovertible conclusion: Based on the data that they were given so many months ago (Luy’s hard drive data in de Lima’s case, and what Napoles gave to Aquino last August) the two had knowledge of the involvement of at least 20 other incumbent and past senators, and about 90 congressmen, which included the President’s allies and supporters. Napoles also would have most likely told them of Abad and Alcala’s complicity. Why didn’t Aquino and de Lima release this serious package of information to the public? Why did they focus only on the five opposition senators as if they were the only persons involved in the enormous pork-barrel scam? Was this the reason why Aquino had to meet with Napoles personally in Malacanang when she surrendered in August, to tell her she will be taken cared of well if she didn’t reveal to the public his Cabinet members, especially budget secretary Florencio Abad, and his allies in the Senate who were her accomplices in the pork barrel scam? Locked up in a dingy room in a police camp for nine months and deprived of medical service she required and can pay for, did Napoles feel that Aquino had not complied with his part of the deal, and therefore she had all the right to rat on the president’s people involved in the scam? A yellow journalist in a TV talk show defended Aquino and de Lima, claiming that the three senators were just unfortunate to have been included in the first batch of legislators to be charged. But that plan for succeeding batches to be charged has not materialized at all after so many months.
Another argument is that the three earned the biggest loots out of the scam, and against whom a lot of evidence were available. But do we really know that, given that the reports publicly released could have been tampered with, and we do not have access to Luy’s files given to de Lima and the Inquirer? Does the anti-graft law discriminate as to the amounts stolen from taxpayers’ money? I don’t think it has dawned yet on Aquino and de Lima that what they did — not disclosing the names of legislators and Cabinet members Napoles accused of involvement in the pork-barrel scam — is, by our Penal Code, a criminal case of obstruction of justice. For that de Lima not only could be removed form office but even disbarred from ever practicing law. For Aquino, his obstruction of justice is a case of culpable violation of the Constitution, for which he can be impeached out of office.And he thought he it was a brilliant plot to jail the corrupt at the same time perpetuating his power.
Suppliers also made money from PDAF May 15, 2014 10:37 pm
by ERWIN TULFO If PNoy is really bent on running after those who made their fortune stealing from the government’s coffers, he should order the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate and file plunder charges against those who amassed wealth through the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). There are a lot of contractors who made their fortune out of the “pork barrel” of lawmakers, yet their names were not included in the list submitted by Secretary Panfilo Lacson. The reason is simple. Lacson’s list came from the husband of Janet Napoles. Only those contractors deemed as their direct competitors in “ghost” projects were written on that list. However, a supplier who requested anonymity said not all contractors engaged in “ghost” deliveries. Most of them were involved in overpricing and deliveries of substandard materials or goods. One such example is a company called Mayland, owned by Beth and Jed Gracia, that supplies computers and high-tech gadgets, said the source. Between 2008 and 2010, the company delivered hundreds of computers to various schools that were funded by the pork barrel of congressmen. The problem was, the computers were allegedly overpriced by as much as P350,000 each to cover the kickbacks or commissions of the unscrupulous lawmakers. The source said the Gracia couple paid up to 70 percent commission to every member of the House of Representatives who bought computers from Mayland using their PDAF.
Another supplier, Vivarich, owned by Leony Medina, also overpriced elementary and high school textbooks during the same period. The publishing house allegedly overpriced each textbook to cover the seventy percent commission demanded by the lawmakers. Though most of the suppliers really delivered the goods, they were either overpriced or substandard, added my source. No wonder public schools always lack books or learning equipment because they easily break due to poor quality. Paging Commission on Audit Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan! Patricia Tan mentored Napoles? One of the names that appeared in the pork list submitted by Lacson to the Senate blue ribbon committee on Tuesday was Patricia “Gay” Agana Tan. Tan is said to be one of the contractors who had business dealings with several senators who reportedly misused their pork barrel funds. A former staff of Tan told TV 5 in an exclusive interview on Monday, however, that Patricia, who is better as known “Gay Tan” to lawmakers, is not just an ordinary contractor. She is said to be far richer than Janet Lim-Napoles. “Siya po ang nagturo kay Janet kung papaano kumita sa PDAF at nagpakilala din sa ilang mga senador at congressman [she taught Janet how to earn from PDAF and introduced her to some senators and congressmen],” Tan’s former employee told TV 5. Our informant, who requested to be called “Helen,” also said Tan is the daughter of former Bohol congresswoman Venice Agana. She is married to one of the nephews of business tycoon Lucio Tan. “Helen” also revealed that some of the 82 bogus foundations or non-government organizations (NGOs) that were earlier said to be run by Napoles actually belong to Tan. “Yung yaya niya noong bata pa siya na si Baby Mamangon ang ginawa niyang presidente ng isa sa kanyang mga pekeng foundations [she made her nanny, Baby Mamangon, as president of one of her fake foundations],” Helen continued. The informant said part of her duties was to pay off the lawmakers who “sold” their PDAF- funded projects to the petite contractor. She recalled paying off a party-list representative P3 million in a restaurant inside a mall in Ortigas, Mandaluyong City. She was given P100,000 by the lawmaker as a tip. A certain “Director Cayanon” of the Department of Agriculture (DA) preferred his “commission” delivered to his office at the Elliptical Circle in Quezon City, Helen said. The official was given P5 million by Patricia Tan in exchange for a P100-million garden tools project for Region 3. But the tools were never delivered to farmers. Patricia, who has four grown kids, was rumored as the mistress of a lawmaker from a lone district in the eastern part of Metro Manila.
The first time Tan’s name cropped up in the PDAF scam was in July 2013 when Janet Napoles attended a roundtable discussion of newspaper editors and reporters claiming that a Patricia Gay Tan, not her, started the pork barrel scam. Tan remains silent over the issue and continues to avoid the media. I just hope that Patricia “Gay” Agana Tan would do a Ruby Tuason and return the people’s money to the government.
Napoles list out, names five more lawmakers By Macon Ramos-Araneta, Rey E. Requejo | May. 16, 2014 at 12:01am
THE list that Janet Lim Napoles gave to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima is almost the same as the one she gave rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson, except for the addition of five congressmen, one of them now a senator, bringing to 85 the number of lawmakers implicated in the pork barrel scam. De Lima submitted the one-page list to Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Senator Teofisto Guingona III and vice chairman Sergio Osmeña III on Thursday. Guingona said he turned down De Lima’s request that the list not be released until next week. “This is the first list that is personally signed by Ms. Janet Lim Napoles,” Guingona said. The list implicates 11 incumbent senators: Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla Jr., Jinggoy Estrada, Vicente Sotto III, Loren Legarda, Aquilino Pimentel III. Alan Peter Cayetano, Gregorio Honasan, JV Ejercito and Juan Edgardo Angara. Except for Angara, these were the same senators in the list that the Napoles family gave rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson. In a March 12 meeting, Napoles’ husband also gave Lacson a 30-page unsigned affidavit and a narration of events summarizing the pork barrel operation. Of the incumbent and former senators in the list, only Enrile, Estrada and Revilla have been charged with plunder at the Sandiganbayan over the illegal diversion of their pork barrel funds to fake non-government organizations with links to Napoles in exchange for hefty kickbacks. Two former senators, Manny Villar and the late Robert Barbers, also appear in the list given to De Lima. In a handwritten addition to the list, Napoles wrote “Cong. Angara- APO, Renato Unico Julie, Gullas, Emano and Zialcita.” The five names were under the heading “Congressmen/Women.” The name Ricky Sandoval was also handwritten, although the name was already typed under the same heading.
The name Julie, in Napoles handwriting, is besides the name of her husband Unico. She is reportedly the congressman’s wife, who had dealings with the detained businesswoman. Guingona said all the additional names were in Napoles own handwriting. The document also bore her two thumb marks. President Benigno Aquino III’s most trusted allies, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Agriculture Secreetary Proceso Alcala, resigned Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority director-general Joel Villanueva are also in the signed list. Based on Napoles’ narration of events, Abad, then a congressman for Batanes, was introduced to Napoles in 2000. When Napoles asked Abad how to earn money, he introduced her to foundations, she said. Alcala who was listed as “Procy Alcala” was listed under the heading AgencyDepartment of Agriculture. Abad, Biazon and Villanueva were under the heading “Congressmen/Women.” Biazon was a congressman for Muntinlupa, while Villanueva served as representative of partylist Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption. While it was not clear if “Cong. Angara-APO” referred to Senator Angara, who used to be congressman for Aurora, the senator texted reporters saying all his Priority Development Assistance Fund allocations from 2004 to 2013 were allocated to schools and hospitals in local government units within his congressional district in Aurora. “For transparency, have released all my PDAF records to the media. In my three terms as a congressman, I have never allocated any of my PDAF to any NGO for that matter. Records will bear me out,” Angara added. The names of government officials and employees linked to the scam rose to 12 after the names of Cora Gonzales and another name, which is unreadable, were added. Three other names—Celia Cuasay and a certain Maite and Butch were included in the list of nine agents led by Ruby Tuason, based o Lacson’s copy of the list. De Lima hurriedly left Guingona’s Office after a closed-door meeting that lasted for an hour. She declined to give any statement to the media. After De Lima left, Guingona provided the media a copy of the list furnished by De Lima. Guingona said he cannot say whether the list submitted to them by the Justice Department is already complete, or if there would still be additional names. He said while he agreed to a one-week extension for the signed affidavit, he insisted on receiving the signed list on Thursday.
“I did not allow the extension for the list. It’s time we put an end to the speculation,” said Guingona as he refused to give any assessment of the list. Guingona said De Lima told him that the handwriting on the list was that of Napoles. In her letter to Guingona, De Lima said the Napoles camp has yet to finish an extensive affidavit that would support the list that merely contains the names of those allegedly involved in the corruption scheme. “I respectfully recommend that the committee, instead of disclosing the list and the still unverified allegations to the public, could perhaps consider either awaiting the completion of the vetting process or fact-finding investigation… or refer the documents to the Ombudsman or the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council,” said De Lima in her letter to Guingona. Guingona also sent a subpoenas to principal whistleblower Benhur Luy for a soft copy of his digital records relating or relevant to the PDAF scam. The digital files reportedly contain the names of past and present lawmakers in the scam and detail transactions Napoles made from 2002 to 2012-, a period during which she channelled the lawmakers pork barrel allocations to bogus projects in exchange for huge kickbacks. Despite the implication of so many senators, Senate President Franklin Drilon said the Senate was not in crisis and reamined strong. “The Senate is different from the people who compose it. Politicians come and go, senators come and go. But the Senate will remain as an institution of democracy, an institution that is part of our democratic government,” he said. Before meeting Guingona, De Lima decried as “ridiculous, malicious and irresponsible” allegations that she left 97 mayors off the charge sheet in the Malampaya scam because they agreed to support her senatorial run in 2016. “I was really surprised. To me that’s foul, malicious and irresponsible,” she said. The allegation was made in an unsigned affidavit that Lacson turned over to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. The affidavit said lawyer Levito Baligod had approached the senators. Baligod, the former legal counsel of pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy, has denied the allegation. De Lima said the unsigned affidavit had no probative value and was just hearsay. De Lima said the mayors were not included in the charge sheet because their signatures were forged, according to Luy’s affidavit.
The Malampaya funds were supposed to be distributed to farmer-beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program that were affected by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng in 2009. However, investigators said the funds never reach their intended beneficiaries and were allegedly funneled to 12 bogus non-government organizations established by Napoles. Napoles implicated socialite Ruby Tuason as the mastermind in the Malampaya fund scam. Tuason has since been admitted as a government witness in the pork barrel scam after she returned P40 million to the government. Also on Thursday, former Technology Resource Center head Dennis Cunanan, an accused in the pork barrel scam, appeared at the Justice Department following reports that he had left the country. Cunanan met with De Lima in closed doors and both of them declined to say what they discussed. De Lima said Cunanan was still under provisional coverage of the Witness Protection Program, and added that they cannot prevent him or any other state witness from traveling. Reports quoting the Bureau of Immigration sources said Cunanan left the country April 5 for an Asian country onboard Delta Airlines Flight 630. It added that there was no confirmation yet if had already returned to the country. Several senators expressed doubts about Cunananâ€™s qualifications and credibility as a state witness after he testified before the Blue Ribbon Committee. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2014/05/16/napoles-list-out-names-five-morelawmakers/
My Napoles list May 14, 2014 10:16 pm
by GIOVANNI TAPANG, Ph.D. It seems that the web of transactions between legislators, implementing agencies and Janet Napoles has caught more names in its coils. We have heard much about the several lists being floated around ranging from Napoles herself, from Sandra Cam to the ones being revealed from Benhur Luy’s files. The existence of a supposed list became even muddier when former senator, now the Yolanda rehabilitation czar, Panfilo Lacson announced that he has obtained a copy of the said list. He initially dragged his feet in revealing names saying that it might trigger the “collapse” of the Senate. However, he still managed to bare the names of 12 current senators, two Cabinet secretaries, and several more members of the House of Representatives earlier this week. President Aquino did not make things easier when he admitted to seeing at least two versions of the said list. He noted that the versions he saw had some differences. Secretary Leila de Lima of the Department of Justice (DOJ) obtained a list from Napoles but did not release it to the public by saying that she would have to go through the list and vet the names who were there. This led credence to suspicions that the Palace is out to sanitize and select who would be included in the “final” list. Protests held a few days ago stemmed from the refusal of Malacañang and the DOJ to make public the list of beneficiaries and conspirators in the pork barrel scam. Some of the protesters pointed out the similarity of these tactics to the Hello Garci scandal where there were two tapes: one was real and one was not. Recent reports of the contents of BenHur Luy’s files came out with details the transactions done with each actor. Several names came up that were also included in Lacson’s list but there were also others who are currently the President’s own men.
Ordinary people would encounter several problems when comparing the lists since these are either kept secret or only partially revealed. Napoles, Luy and Lacson were also not so clear as to the span of time covered by their records. Unless the President orders the DOJ to reveal in full an unsanitized list, we are left to wonder who are on it? Of course, we hope that the so-called “Napolist” would cover everyone involved in Napoles’ machinations up until the present regime. But can we figure out from available data who should be there? Fortunately, the Commission on Audit Special Audits Office Report No. 2012-03 does give us a basis on who had initial dealings with the so-called Napoles NGOs from 2007-2009. A quick look back to that file will reveal who among the congressmen and senators had dealings with the eight NGOs mentioned by COA Chairperson Gracia Pulido-Tan in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. These NGOs according to Pulido-Tan are: the Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (AEPFFI), the Agricultura Para sa Magbubukid Foundation (APMFI), Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic Development (CARED) Foundation, Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc (MAMFI), People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation (POPDFI), Philippine Agri and Social Development Foundation Inc. (PASDF), Philippine Social Development Foundation, Inc. (PSDFI), Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (SDPFFI). How many senators and congressmen are linked to these NGOs? There are three linked to AEPFFI, two for APMFI, 10 for CARED, 11 for MAMFI, seven for POPDFI, two for PASDF, 10 for PSDFI, and 13 for SDPFFI.The number of unique names in this list is 27. I will leave it to the resourceful reader to visit our work at visualizing these NGOs at http://www.visser.ph/pdaf2 to figure out the names. Note that this covers only the 2007-2009 report of the COA on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Various Infrastructure, including local projects (VILP). We expect that there will be more. We still have spotty information, outside what Luy admitted in the Senate, on the Malampaya scam and their other dealings. Of course there are other NGOs which have not yet been under the microscope unlike those operated by Ms. Napoles and her staff. We have yet to look at the dealings of the other NGOs. According to our clustering algorithm, there remain 4-5 more groups of NGOs catering to a set of common congressmen with regard to the PDAF. Surprisingly, in the PDAF scam (note that there are still the Malampaya and fertilizer scams), it is not the Janet Napoles NGOs that come out on the top in terms of the number of legislators from whom they received PDAF money. The Kabuhayan at Kalusugan Alay sa Masa Foundation, Inc. (KKAMFI) received PDAF from 34 legislators, the Farmerbusiness Development Corporation (FDC) from 27 and the Aaron Foundation Philippines, Inc (AFPI) from 26.
If it takes so long for the government to investigate the Napoles group, when will we get into looking at the other NGOs and other legislators? This foot-dragging and â€œlist makingâ€? obfuscation only adds fuel to speculations that the motives behind prosecuting Napoles is political and the delay is to shield government allies from blame. The call is simple: make the list public and prosecute all of those who are at fault. Stop all forms of pork whether through the PDAF, the DAP or other presidential pork. It is high time the people brought back our voice in the debate as we did in the several marches against the pork barrel system. http://www.manilatimes.net/my-napoles-list/96659/
Time to shut down Congress?
By Francisco S. Tatad | May. 16, 2014 at 12:01am
This is hardly the time for poetry, but William Butler Yeats’s haunting lines seem particularly apt: “Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart, the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.” With most of our senators and more of our congressmen irrevocably tarred by the Janet Napoles and the Benhur Luy lists of pork barrel recipients, everything seems to be falling apart. How long can, or will, the center hold? This is the question on everyone’s mind. Unsupported by personal testimony and other relevant documents, the lists of alleged wrongdoers have little or no evidentiary value. But the uncritical public has been led to believe that they contain the gospel truth, and that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and the media, rather than the court, are the proper forums for airing this “truth.” Under our Constitution, the accused are presumed innocent until their guilt is proved. None of those on the two lists have been formally charged, tried or found guilty in court. They are therefore entitled to a presumption of innocence. But like a dam that has burst and overflowed its banks, the Napoles scandal has swept away all rules of fairness, and
those named in the two lists are now presumed guilty unless they could prove their innocence. The Senate has no one to blame but itself for making the Blue Ribbon Committee, chaired by a neophyte senator who had received his own share of the Malacañang bribe for convicting the impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012, the forum for airing the charges that should have been brought directly to the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan, pursuant to the rule of law and due process. Having agreed that their three “opposition” colleagues should endure the onus of dark publicity when they alone stood in the dock, no senator can now cry foul just because they now appear on the new lists. This is the bitter pill that my good friend Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago will have to swallow at this point. She has to accept the consequence of being named on the list, in the same manner that she had wanted Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile to endure the consequence of having been earlier named. She must now show that she was not merely trying to cover her own tracks when she was loudly denouncing the alleged wrongdoing of others. But for those who had earlier thought that some of the more self-righteous senators had escaped the long arm of Napoles’s illegal operation, what breaks one’s heart is that they did not—Napoles made sure no senator retained any moral advantage over their colleagues. A good friend of mine who used to hold an important rank in his own organization had the opportunity to see a copy of the Ben Hur Luy list before it was released by one newspaper. There were two big names on that list, as far as he could recall. But they disappeared upon the list’s publication. What happened here? Will those names ever resurface? Nonetheless, the two lists have created a rising call for a total shutdown of the two houses of Congress. For all intents and purposes, they have already voluntarily shut down when they put themselves inside Malacanang’s pocket. But the outcry is for a physical padlocking of Congress as when Oliver Cromwell padlocked the English Parliament. This seems to be fair punishment, Congress must get its just dessert. But there is the real danger here that President B. S. Aquino III, aided by the usual tools of deception and propaganda, could exploit the situation and exercise absolute power undeterred by the electorate, which has been defanged and debased. Without the institutions mandated to set up the system of separation of powers and checks and balances, Aquino could lose all sense of accountability and restraint, and formalize his dictatorship. Some people would not mind this, if Aquino had enough brains and patriotism to run an efficient and pro-Filipino dictatorship. But nobody thinks he’s got what it takes. It is therefore to be hoped that if Congress were shut down, as many believe it should be,
Aquino would immediately call for the election of a â€œreplacement Congress.â€? But again there is this fear: he may have learned to relish operating outside the Constitution, and may decide, despite his limitations, to give himself the sole power to legislate. This is a very real risk. Even if Aquino decides to resuscitate Congress, we remain stuck with the prospect of a bogus electoral process. With Aquino in control of the Commission on Elections and the precinct count optical scan machines of Smartmatic, the present venal Congress could still turn out to be better than the next. Aside from a flawed electoral process, our first problem is how to find enough honest and competent men and women in our corrupt environment. Perhaps this is one time we could use a Diogenes who will walk around the country with a lighted lamp in broad daylight looking for enough honest and competent men and women to serve. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2014/05/16/time-to-shut-down-congress-/
Kiko Pangilinan as food czar By Tony Lopez | May. 16, 2014 at 12:01am
Last May 6, President Aquino swore in former Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan as Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization. Kiko has a cabinet rank. The President signed Executive Order No. 5 which transfers to the Office of the President (and to Kiko) the following agencies of the Department of Agriculture: 1. National Food Authority (NFA) with a 2014 budget of P4.25 billion; 2. National Irrigation Authority (NIA), with a budget of P60 billion; 3. Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), with P2.37 billion budget; and 4. Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority with a P54.81 million budget. In effect, Secretary Kiko is in charge of rice and coconut production, backed with a key asset, irrigation, and two major farm inputs – fertilizers and pesticides. Left with Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala are agencies having to do with: agricultural credit, fisheries, cotton, livestock, carabao, meat inspection and farm mechanization. In other words, Alcala takes care of the ulam (viand) side of agriculture—fish, chicken, pig, and all kinds of meat and how to mechanize their production. The effect is that Alcala has been defanged and neutralized. His minions cannot make money in the agencies that count like the NFA whose botched rice importation program has put the government P170 billion in debts; the National Irrigation Authority, another graft-ridden agency; and the Philippine Coconut Authority which has plenty of money (Danding Cojuangco gave the poor coconut farmers an P84-billion gift from the sale of San Miguel shares last year) but doesn’t know what to do. As senator, Kiko Pangilinan chaired the Senate Committee on Agriculture, from 2010 to 2013. After leaving the Senate in 2013 having served the maximum 12 years with reelection (just long enough so as not to become a tradpol), Kiko did something
unusual. He went into organic vegetable farming. There, he learned the vagaries of farming. “Farming is a joint venture with the Lord,” he chuckles of the experience. In a month, he was amazed to harvest 1.3 tons (1,300 kilos) of vegetables, mostly lettuce, only to see production dropped to a paltry 45 kilos within a few months. He blames the weather. Lettuce, especially the branded ones, he says, can fetch as much as P400 per kilo—twice the price of pork and beef, and the same price as medium-size prawns. You can harvest monthly, unlike once or twice with rice in a year. By the time Aquino appointed him the food czar, Kiko’s vegetable farm had stabilized production to about 500 kilos per month. Kiko also learned that to boost vegetable farm income, “you have to go into eco tourism, invite visitors to your farm.” On Secretary Kiko’s shoulder are two tasks few, if any before him, had handled with elan and success —food security and agricultural modernization. To his credit, he makes no grandiose promises, except “to leave a template in agriculture that others can carry on.” The Philippines lacks food security. Rice self-sufficiency has never been achieved. The country continues to import from one million to two million tons of rice yearly. Vietnam, Kiko says, makes $7 billion a year from rice exports. The Philippines spends at least $1 billion a year from rice imports. Ironically, the world’s major rice exporters, Vietnam and Thailand, learned their farming in the Philippines, at the International Rice Research Institute in Los Baños, Laguna. The country with the most advanced rice technology has the most decrepit agricultural system, massive hunger, and the poorest farmers. The National Food Authority has just awarded to Vietnam the supply of 800,000 tons of imported rice which will arrive starting this May as buffer stock for the lean months of July to September. Kiko wants to review that import order because it will cost the government P17 billion — money that could be put to better use it were diverted to improving irrigation, reducing harvest wastage (up to 67 percent of Baguio’s vegetables are spoiled sometimes due to lack of post-harvest facilities, Kiko says), and farm-to-market roads. Agriculture now contributes barely 17 percent of total value of economic production (GDP). In the whole of 2013, agriculture, as a component of GDP, grew by a measly 1.1 percent, half the rate of population growth and half the 2.8 percent aggie growth in 2012. Agriculture’s sluggish performance may explain why despite the whole economy growing by 7.2 percent per year (in 2013), the ranks of the jobless swelled and poverty incidence remained constant. Yet, 55 percent of the consumer basket goes to food. About 60 percent of the country’s poor are in agricultural areas. Among the country’s poorest people are farmers and fishermen. They make just P23,000 a year or less than P2,000 a month. Yet, given the
right irrigation and the right infra, they can increase their income five-fold, to P100,000, according to Sec Kiko. Adding to the agriculture’s woes is climate change. Climate change could mean too much or too little water, either of which is bad. Climate change could destroy entire plantations and hundreds of thousands of hectares planted to rice, corn and other basic crops. Climate could destroy valuable agriculture assets and infrastructure, leading to food shortages, supply bottlenecks and high prices. Interestingly, Agriculture Secretary Procy Alcala has welcomed Pangilinan’s appointment but said so by reciting God and motherhood statements. Alcala said: “I’ve personally known Secretary Pangilinan to be a man of competence and commendable work ethic, having worked with him previously when he served as chairperson of the Senate committee on agriculture and food on his last term.” Alcala said Kiko’s “natural love for farming and willingness to help bring about sustainable growth and prosperity in Philippine agriculture are qualities that are truly commendable.” “I am confident that he will be effective in his new role in public service,” the DA chief said.
I trust Abad—not! By Jojo Robles | May. 15, 2014 at 12:01am
Full of righteous indignation, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad has denied any and all involvement with alleged pork barrel scam ringmaster Janet Lim Napoles. Ma’am Jenny’s reported mentor, who was said to have started her out in her high-flying life of pork-pocketing crime way back in 2000, was also able to sound simultaneously hurt and victimized. “I have long accepted that I will be linked to various things because of my work at DBM as caretaker of the national treasury and implementor of government reforms,” Abad said. “I am sure that there are more absurd allegations that will come out as [the] 2016 [election] approaches, [but] I trust that the public will see through the invented stories and stand up for the truth.” If Abad were somebody else entirely, I could give him the benefit of the doubt. But how do you trust somebody who should, in his role as gatekeeper of all government disbursements, never have allowed Napoles to thrive using her unique – but not entirely new – business model? In the best case scenario, Abad would be guilty of gross incompetence and dereliction of duty for allowing billions in public funds set aside for lawmakers’ projects (both through the old Priority Development Assistance Fund and the new Disbursement Acceleration Program) to be funneled to Napoles’ fake non-government organizations and pocketed by corrupt senators and congressmen. And that’s the most generous thing you can say about Abad. Abad is head of the Executive office that lies at the heart of the entire scandal. It is his DBM’s job to vet and approve Congress’ pork-funded project proposals and their beneficiaries and to release the SAROs that were converted into cash by Napoles’ NGOs. Abad, President Noynoy Aquino’s 2010 campaign manager, also allowed the appointment of several members of his family to critical fund-managing offices in the Executive and in Congress. His daughter manages the Presidential Management Staff (which disburses presidential pork), his son is the top aide of Secretary of Finance
Cesar Purisima and his wife is the vice chairman of the powerful and fund-laden House appropriations committee. President Noynoy Aquino, who has announced that Abad continues to enjoy his trust despite of his reported links to Napoles, once even disclosed that the DBM secretary invented a fake love interest for him during the 2010 campaign, to spice up his scant candidate’s CV – something a trustworthy person will certainly not do. And I still recall Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla saying that Abad was present when he was clandestinely summoned by Aquino to vote to convict then Chief Justice Renato Corona; Revilla said he received a fresh infusion of pork from DBM soon after. Oh and yes, I did mention DAP, the pork-like invention of this administration that Abad most likely advised Aquino about, as well. If the Supreme Court rules that DAP is unconstitutional, Abad will probably see the inside of a jail cell only a few minutes later that Aquino himself, after the President’s term ends two years from now. Simply put, Abad is not a man who inspires trust and confidence, even if Napoles had never supposedly declared that the former Batanes congressman had “mentored” her in the shady business of converting pork barrel funds into ready cash for corrupt lawmakers after he approached her for a loan (which Abad was said to have paid back right away, with interest) 14 years ago. And Aquino has no choice but to trust Abad, because of all the stuff his budget secretary and longtime adviser, Liberal party-mate and friend knows about the President. If Abad were to do the unthinkable and turn against Napoles, Aquino and the rest, he would probably not be eligible to turn state witness because of the gravity of his own guilt. Unless, of course, his lawyers cite a recent case and get him to sing like a canary after he returns a chunk of ill-gotten loot. But I’m not going to hold my breath and wait for Abad to turn on his boss, even if he did join the so-called “Hyatt 10” that abandoned Gloria Arroyo late in her term. (Abad’s participation in that celebrated traitorous act and his acceptance of yet another Cabinet post in the administration that supplanted Arroyo’s, by the way, is just another reason why I don’t trust him – Abad and his fellow “Hyatters” just came off as opportunists of the first water.) So spare me the talk about being an agent of reform as the trustworthy custodian of government funds in the journey on the straight path blah blah blah, Mr. Abad. There’s a terrible storm coming and you’re right in the middle of it; with any luck, you’ll be swept away along with your boss and all the corrupt allies of his whose grand larceny you enabled with our money. *** Some people have asked me where the advocates against corruption are in the middle of the firestorm that Napoles’ supposed list and unsigned affidavit has created. I tell them I’m the wrong person to ask about why people like Harvey Keh, Risa Hontiveros
and all those other anti-corruption crusaders are so quiet these days, when, as Joker Arroyo once predicted, the pork barrel scam has landed right at Aquinoâ€™s doorstep. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2014/05/15/i-trust-abad-not-/
Pigs all By Atty. Harry Roque Jr. | May. 15, 2014 at 12:01amÂ
Now it can be told: they were all pigs. While Malacanang may have intended its witch-hunt to be limited to the political opposition with the recent cases field against Tanda, Pogi and Sexy, the dangerous maneuver has since boomeranged and the pig stench now goes all the way to Malacanang. We now know that Napoles did not just deal with three senators. She dealt with no less than 25 of them. This is why the only senator who is undoubtedly untarnished by the pork barrel scandal, Ping Lacson, said that the latest Napoles list may bring down the Senate as an institution. In fairness to those whose names appeared in the list, their guilt still has to be proven in a court of law. All of them, including the initial targets of Malacanang, are all entitled to presumption of innocence. This applies even to DBM Secretary Butch Abad, probably among the closest to PNoy, and even to the Umali siblings, one of whom, the incumbent governor of Mindoro, is known to be among the BFFs of the President. But the cat is now out of the bag. While they all enjoy due process rights, they all now have to answer to the court of public opinion. Ultimately, Malacanang is the biggest loser in this latest expose. For while the Palace billed itself as the persecutor of the corrupt in high and mighty places, such as the Senate, it now has to account for the fact that the dung is now in its front porch. Talk of karma. Lest we think that only those who appeared in list should explain themselves to the public, the reality is that list only enumerates senatongs and tongressmen who allegedly benefitted from the Napoles style of funneling pubic funds to bogus NGOs. It is not an authoritative list of legislators who personally benefitted from their pork. Ten billion pesos, after all, is a very small amount relative to the total expenditure for PDAF over the years. What still have to be accounted for are the kickbacks, anywhere from a low of 10 percent to a high of 60 percent, in the cost of infrastructure projects. Already, we have heard how a southern contractor, also said to be fronting for the former FG, has cornered the infrastructure allocations from his region and even of sitting and past
senators. When will we begin the inquiry on this? Ten billion is an anthill compared to the amount of money funneled to this southern contractor. The truth is that every legislator who accepted and used his or her pork stinks. Those not in the lists are not in the limelight but are dirty nonetheless. Another stinking truth is that legislators bought their seats in Congress expecting to make a net profit from their pork barrel allocations. This explains why we have a Congress with virtually no cerebral capacity. But the blame should not be on the corrupt legislators alone. It is the people, after all, who sold their votes to these thieves for a song! Had they voted on the basis of qualification and integrity of those who stood for public office, we would have had quality policies and not the crap that we have right now. And it is precisely because their votes had to be bought that politicians systematically made money out of their pork. Furthermore, let us not deceive ourselves into thinking that the problem is only in the Legislature. The President has the biggest pork! It’s in the national budget, in Pagcor, and in PCSO. Presidential aspirants, PNoy included, spent no less than P2 billion to join the presidential fray. How do you think a sitting President will recoup his cost? Part of it will come from his pork, although a large part of it will be repaid in dole to campaign contributors. And yes, even the Judiciary has its own pork, the Judicial Development Fund. Until today, this has not been subjected to full audit. Was I therefore surprised, or even excited by Ping’s revelation of the names in the list? Certainly not. I know in my heart and mind that all those who accepted pork are corrupt. There is nothing new therefore in the revelation. But what is new is the fact that unlike in the past when the public appeared complacent to systemic thievery, as in fact tongpats has been referred to as “standard operating procedure”, the public now appears enraged. Some good will hopefully result in this latest telenovela. For instance, it is hoped that with national elections barely two years away, the recent developments will result in the public electing individuals who have the competence and the skills to run both the executive and legislative branches of government. Hopefully, those who have been convicted in the court of public opinion will be meted the penalty of defeat in 2016. This may actually pave the way for those who have not stolen, and will not steal from the public coffers to have the opportunity to render genuine pubic service. Moreover, the public, hopefully, will also be educated that they will have the same rotten leadership if they continue to sell their votes. The pigsty stinks. Some good will come from with dung—but it wil only come after the process of composting. Let’s hope this is the ending to this zarzuela. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2014/05/15/pigs-all/
Flour importers deny smuggling By Othel V. Campos | May. 16, 2014 at 12:01am
The Philippine-Turkish Business Council has denied the technical smuggling accusations made by local flour millers against importers of flour from Turkey, following the Agriculture Department’s imposition of a provisional anti-dumping duty. Philippine-Turkish Business Council chairman Ernesto Chua said Turkish flour importers were legitimate business owners who duly paid taxes to the government. Chua also claimed that while importers were paying P1.5 billion in tariff duties when importing Turkish flour, local flour millers were not paying any tariff on the wheat imported from the US. “To insinuate that Turkish flour importers would resort to technical smuggling of this raw material after the DA issued a preliminary determination is uncalled for. These businessmen follow the law when importing the Turkish flour that they supply to thousands of community bakeries and other backyard industries that are dependent on affordable raw materials,” said Chua. Chua, who is also the president of Malabon Long Life Trading Corp., one of the biggest importers of Turkish flour in the country, dismissed the allegations as unfair not only for the importers but also for the Customs Bureau’s effective customs management through the proper assessment and collection of customs-related revenues. “The allegations undermine the Bureau of Customs, which, under a new leadership, has been working round the clock to ensure that all import and export shipments are properly valued. Smuggling of imported flour is extremely rare and is considered an isolated case. We legitimate importers pledge our full support and cooperation to the government to uphold the integrity of all Turkish flour imports in the local market,” he said.