Issuu on Google+

Gov’t to lend out P1.33B under agrarian credit program By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The government hopes to loan out this year P1.336 billion under the Agrarian Production Credit Program (APCP), a five-year credit and capacity development program for agrarian reform beneficiaries, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said yesterday. The APCP is a joint micro finance program of the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the state-run Land Bank of the Philippines. The APCP created to finance the production and enterprise projects of agrarian reform beneficiaries who are not yet eligible for financing under Land Bank’s regular lending programs or other formal means of obtaining credit. The APCP received initial funding of P1 billion when it was launched in 2012 and was allotted additional funding of another P1 billion in 2013. Aside from credit for agricultural production, APCP provides capacity building assistance for agrarian reform beneficiaries and organizations to support individual or communal production and enterprise projects. The program management committee of the credit facility is chaired by Agriculture assistant secretary for field operations Edilberto de Luna and is composed of executive officers of the implementing agencies. The DA said this year’s loan target would finance the credit requirements of 35, 431 agrarian reform beneficiaries through 543 beneficiary organizations. To meet this year’s loan target, the management committee resolves to implement operational strategies that include closer coordination between the designated point persons of the

implementing agencies, conduct of workshops with agrarian reform beneficiary groups on loan documentation, and assisting beneficiaries in identifying new agribusiness projects. Loans availed under the facility are intended to be released within two to three days. Since the program was implemented in 2012, P257.43 million in loans had been released as of February 28, 2014. The released amount benefitted 4,668 agrarian reform beneficiaries in the provinces of Agusan Del Sur, Albay, Aurora, Bukidnon, Cagayan, Camarines Sur, Iloilo, Isabela, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, North Cotabato, Nueva Ecija, Quezon, Sarangani Province, Sorsogon, and Sultan Kudarat.

More sorties for ‘bawang’ caravans By Ronnel W. Domingo Philippine Daily Inquirer 7:09 am | Thursday, June 19th, 2014

FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines–The Department of Agriculture (DA) has scheduled more market sorties for its rolling stores that sell locally grown garlic in a bid to temper a sudden spike in the price of the commodity. According to the DA, its “bawang caravans,” which kicked off last Saturday, now cover at least 16 key markets around Metro Manila. The trucks, which are fitted out as rolling stores, will sell garlic in six-kilogram bags at between P100 and P200 per kilogram, depending on the size of the bulbs. DA monitoring showed that over the past several weeks, garlic prices have rocketed to more than P300 a kilo for the imported variety and P180 per kilo for the local variety. As of Wednesday, the rolling store market sorties have been scheduled up to June 21. On Wednesday, the rolling stores took posts in the Quezon City public markets of Arayat, Murphy, Muñoz, Tandang Sora, Visayas and Frisco. On Thursday, the trucks will go to the Farmer’s Market in Cubao and the Project 4 market—also in Quezon City—as well as the Muntinlupa public market. On June 20, rolling stores will visit the Quezon City markets of Galas, Commonwealth and Kamuning, and the Pasay Public Market and the New Dagonoy Public Market in San Andres, Manila. On June 21, the trucks will be posted at the Mandaluyong Public Market and the Pasig City Mega Market.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said in a statement he was optimistic that prices would stabilize soon as reports from the field indicate that “consumers are somewhat relieved” because of the availability of lower-priced local garlic. “Since Filipino (homes) can hardly survive without garlic, it is wise to buy the smaller, cheaper and tastier local bawang because in the end, it’s the taste that counts,” Alcala said.

Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Garlic prices push cost of ‘longganisa’ By Dino Balabo (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2014 - 1:00am

Despite the skyrocketing prices of garlic that affected the cost of longganisa, vendors in Calumpit, Bulacan say their sales remain high. DINO BALABO CALUMPIT, Bulacan, Philippines – High garlic prices have not spared this town’s famous longganisa, touted as the best tasting sausage in Central Luzon. Linda Garcia, a local vendor, said the garlic-flavored delicacy now sells at P200 per kilo, up by P20 compared to last month’s prices. Special Calumpit longganisa with less fat and more garlic is sold at P210 per kilo. Garcia said they could not help but raise prices, given the hefty increase in garlic prices. From only P40 per kilo, she said the price of garlic soared to P280 per kilo last month. She said people still buy their products despite the price hike, but their customers now buy less. “They are surprised that prices have soared,” she said. Garcia, who started selling longganisa at the public market here in 1995, said the secret of Calumpit longganisa is in the garlic. She said they use garlic that are locally produced or imported from Taiwan. But she lamented that even the price of Taiwan garlic has increased. Vendors here called on the government to regulate the price of garlic to enable them to keep the low price of their longganisa. Wilfredo Valdez, president of the Vegetable Growers Association in Region 1, said the high price of garlic is temporary and prices are expected to stabilize in the coming months. He said the region’s garlic reserve is “thinning out” because farmers sold them to middlemen while the remaining stocks have been reserved for planting in September or October. “When rainy season sets in, prices of vegetable normally increase,” he said.

Stable prices Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is optimistic that the prices of garlic in Metro Manila will stabilize soon. The DA has begun assisting various farmers’ organizations in the distribution of their produce to various trading centers in Metro Manila. In a statement yesterday, the DA said the so-called mobile stores rolled out by the DA in Metro Manila markets will now distribute six-kilogram bags at wholesale prices ranging from P100 to P200 per kilo depending on the size. Growers have been selling their produce in selected Quezon City markets from Monday to Wednesday and in other Metro Manila markets from Thursday to Saturday. Direct sale of garlic will be conducted in 16 major markets in the following schedule. In Quezon City: Farmers Market, June 19, 8 to 10 a.m.; Project 4 Public Market, June 19, 7 to 10 a.m.; Galas Public Market, June 20, 8 to 10 a.m.; Commonwealth Market, June 20, 8 to 10 a.m.; and Kamuning Public Market, June 21, 8 to 10 a.m. In other areas in Metro Manila: Pasay Public Market on June 20 at 7 to 10 a.m.; New Dagonoy Public Market in San Andres, Manila, June 20, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Mandaluyong Public Market, June 21, 7 to 10 a.m.; Muntinlupa Public Market, June 19, 7 to 10 a.m.; and Pasig City Mega Market, June 21, 7 to 10 a.m. The DA is eyeing the importation of around 46,000 metric tons of garlic this year to fill the supply gap and arrest the spike in prices. Following the higher garlic prices in Metro Manila markets, the National Garlic Action Team (NGAT) convened last week to determine the cause of the price spikes and come up with solutions. The NGAT is composed of representatives of the DA High Value Crops Development Program, Department of Trade and Industry, the academe and the private sector. It was discovered during the NGAT meeting that the rise in garlic prices is the combined result of a supply gap and the reluctance of traders to source from local producers. The volume to be imported would satisfy 50 percent of the domestic demand of more than 90,000 MT annually. DA spokesman Emerson Palad said the DA is reviewing the resolutions submitted by the NGAT to ensure that needed volume will be imported at the right time to avoid competition with local farmers during harvest.

Additional guidelines for the accreditation and issuance of import permits for garlic are being crafted to prevent local garlic farmers from being used by importers. “Safeguards will be added for the benefit of the farmers, since volume and timing of importation are very crucial,” Palad said. Palay price In a related development, palay price hit a record high of P27 per kilo from the previous P25 per kilo due to lack of supply. Rice millers in Bocaue, Bulacan said the buying price climbed to P25.60 per kilo, while in Nueva Ecija, traders said they are buying up to P27 per kilo. Their statement is contrary to the claim of the DA that there is sufficient supply of rice, and that the price is normal because of the lean months. Rice traders and millers said the lean months usually start in late July because some farmers wait until the wet season to sell their summer harvest. – With Czeriza Valencia, Charlie Lagasca‐prices‐push‐cost‐longganisa                             

Company execs cleared of rice smuggling raps By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2014 - 12:00am

Different varieties of rice are displayed in a stall at the Baguio City public market. ANDY ZAPATA JR. MANILA, Philippines - Five officials of a freight forwarding firm have been cleared of rice smuggling charges that the Bureau of Customs (BOC) filed against them last year. Dismissing the BOC’s appeal, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Task Force on Anti-Smuggling affirmed its Sept. 25, 2013 order clearing All System Logistics Inc. (ASLI) officials Mary Lou Estrada, Antonio Estrada, Humprey Tumaneng, Ana Myra Gonzales and Anthony Dexter Yu. Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III signed the resolution last May 26. It was released earlier this week. The five were charged with violating Section 3601, in relation to Section 101 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines for allegedly smuggling rice from Vietnam. The DOJ said it found no “convincing evidence” that the five “knowingly smuggled” fragrant white Vietnam rice from Mat Bien Maritime Co. Ltd. in March 2013. ASLI as a consignee had “repeatedly warned” Mat Bien that its shipment would not be allowed entry into the Philippines without the necessary importation permits, the DOJ added. The DOJ said upon evaluation of the case record, it was apparent that prior to the shipment’s arrival in Philippine ports, or as early as March 1, 2013, respondents through their Cebu office had categorically advised Lucky Nguyen of Mat Bien Maritime to have the carrier retain the shipment on board and to return it to Vietnam as it is a “prohibited importation” and considered “hot stuff.” “We cannot infer from the foregoing circumstances the purported willful intent of the respondents to fraudulently bring into the Philippines the prohibited merchandise,” the DOJ said.

The DOJ said ASLI’s Cebu office had repeatedly informed Mat Bien’s Lucky Nguyen – through a series of e-mails – why the rice shipments could not be unloaded into Philippine ports. ASLI’s efforts to refuse the entry of the shipments “negate respondents’ active participation” in the alleged rice smuggling, the DOJ added. It shows Mat Bien’s futile attempt to manipulate and use respondents’ company to cover up its illegal transaction, the DOJ said. In a statement, ASLI said, “ASLI stands by its vision – to be recognized as one of the most professional freight forwarding companies in the Philippines, and to provide the highest level of service to our customers, including that of our country, by abiding by its importation laws.” Seized in March last year, the rice shipments inside two shipping containers also carried allegedly smuggled merchandise under Mactech Industrial Machines and Supply and Berthand Enterprises. Mactech and Berthand’s rice shipments – both coming from Singapore – were declared as stone slabs and as cellulose fiber. The BOC also seized another shipping container containing three smuggled vehicles that the Philippine Genesis Freight Unlimited Inc. had imported from South Korea.

Are hoarders the culprit? Garlic price hike probed By Kristine Angeli Sabillo 4:18 pm | Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines – If the supply of garlic is enough then why are prices increasing? That is what the government now wants to know. “On the supply of garlic, based on monitoring done by the Department of Agriculture, as of March this year, the supply of locally produced garlic has reached 8,308 metric tons, which, according to them, is more than adequate to meet the current levels of demand,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said during a press briefing Wednesday. Asked what could be the cause of the reported price hikes since supply is not a problem, Coloma said they have yet to determine the culprit. “That is why they are conducting monitoring and surveillance, to be able to find out if the reported shortage is artificial or if there are manipulative practices that are being committed,” he said. The National Price Coordinating Council (NPCC) is set to meet later in the day to fully understand and analyze the situation, he said. Garlic is among the basic commodities now experiencing “unusual” price increases. Other agricultural products being monitored are rice and ginger. Government officials earlier said that it is due to market forces and that prices will go down once harvest and planting season starts. However, concerned agencies are now looking into the possibility of hoarding and other illegal activities.

“Government is continuing its efforts to ensure stable food supply and prices in the country. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is closely monitoring and conducting surveillance of basic food prices and will strictly enforce anti-profiteering measures on retail outlets,” the Secretary explained. The NPCC is composed of representatives from the consumers’ sector, agricultural producers, trading sector, manufacturers’ sector, DTI, Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Energy (DOE), and National Economic Development Authority (NEDA). “What we would like to do is to be able to get inputs from all of the stakeholders in this process and to assure that we have reliable data and information on food supply and food prices,” Coloma said. He said the DTI is also monitoring the prices of other food staples like meat to ensure stability of prices.

Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

New price caps for milk products OK’d By Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines - The National Price Coordinating Council (NPCC) has approved new price caps for milk products amid the increase in the price of raw materials in the world market. Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo told reporters following the meeting of the NPCC yesterday the government approved higher suggested retail prices (SRP) for evaporated, condensed and full cream milk. He said higher demand from China triggered price hikes in the world market. For the 410-milliliter can of Angel evaporated milk, the new SRP is at P38.15 from its current price of P36.80, while the 370-ml can of Alaska evaporated milk will have a new recommended price of P38.20 from P37. The new SRP for a 300-ml can of Alaska condensed milk is P53 from P51.30. For the 150-gram Birch Tree Full Cream powdered milk, the new prescribed price is P58.10 from the previous P53.80. Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 For 150-g Bear Brand full cream milk, the new SRP is P51, up from its current P48.50. For 160-g Nido Fortified full cream milk, the government has approved a recommended price of P77.42, higher than its present SRP of P77. “The new SRPs will take effect on July 1,” Domingo said. NFA rice The NPCC also proposed the direct selling of rice by the National Food Authority (NFA) to government agencies and big corporations for its employees. The council said the NFA should also increase the volume of rice being released in the market to at least 8,000 tons per day from the current 4,000 tons. NFA’s well-milled rice is available at P32, while private retailers are selling it at P40 to P42 per kilo. Rice prices have increased by an average of P2 per kilo.

Domingo said rice prices are not expected to further increase as imports would arrive by August. The government is importing 800,000 metric tons of rice for this year for buffer stocking during the lean season. The country’s total rice inventory is good for 73 days, while the NFA’s stock can last 25 days. Domingo said the supply shortage of garlic in Metro Manila is temporary and may have to do with the truck ban imposed in the city of Manila. “I suspect it is just a temporary shortage because some containers were stuck at the port,” he said. The increase in the prices of chicken and pork was also discussed during the NPCC meeting. Domingo said prices and supply of chicken should normalize in two months, noting that the hot weather affected the growth of chicken. The price of chicken has climbed to P140 per kilo from P130. As for pork, Domingo said diarrhea has affected piglets not only in the country, but in other parts of the world. Liempo now sells at P210 to P220 per kilo from the previous P190. Domingo said the government would continue to monitor the price and supply situation of basic necessities and prime commodities.

EDITORIAL - Price surge (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2014 - 12:00am

Blame the law of supply and demand, administration officials say as prices of basic food items continue to rise. No major typhoon, flood or insect infestation has ravaged palay, garlic, ginger or sugarcane harvests recently. Perhaps there has been a hefty spike in the country’s population, with no corresponding increase in food production, or food production has plummeted, causing a tightening in supply. Garlic, used by superstitious folk to ward off evil spirits, is shocking consumers with its current retail price of P15 per bulb. Ginger prices can make consumers faint. And the continuing increase in sugar prices is being passed on to the prices of other food items such as bread. As for rice, last year President Aquino bragged that the country would become an exporter of the staple for the first time this year. Super Typhoon Yolanda devastated the coconut plantations of Leyte and Samar but not the rice granaries of Luzon. Yet this year the country will again have to import millions of tons of rice to ensure supply and temper the price spike. Whether importations will stabilize prices is uncertain. Rice prices never returned to their levels before the global supply crisis that struck during the Arroyo administration. It was the first time in decades that the nation saw long, snaking lines of people waiting for a chance to buy government rice. Smugglers were believed to have taken advantage of the supply shortage at the time. Similar suspicions are swirling these days, along with reports that hoarders are to blame for the spike in prices of food products. A price increase in a basic item can create a domino effect. We are seeing this now, with local sausages or longganiza, redolent with native garlic, showing a price surge. Yesterday there were reports of meat and milk prices also going up. What goes up usually does not come down when it comes to consumer prices in this country. If the government wants to prevent food prices from surging out of control, it must act quickly to stabilize supplies and prevent hoarding. At the same time, it must do a better job of improving the nation’s food production and long-term food security.

Malacañang admits crime surge SEARCH FOR TRUTH By Ernesto M. Maceda (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2014 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 Malacañang finally admitted an increase in Index Crimes, and that President Aquino was alarmed over the spate of high profile killings. Crown Regency Hotel owner Richard King was shot dead inside his office in Davao City. National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) champion Enzo Ferdinand Pastor was shot dead at a traffic light in Visayas Avenue, Quezon City. Earlier, Mayor Ernesto Balolong Jr. was shot dead in front of the Municipal building in Urbiztondo, Pangasinan. The serious crime situation has been going on the last four years. President Aquino must conduct a top to bottom revamp of the Philippine National Police (PNP). The President must press Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas to exert more effort at crime prevention and crime solution. The situation is so bad that barangay captains are killed in their barangay halls and teachers are killed inside their classrooms. Quezon City, Cavite, Batangas, Caloocan, Laguna and Manila have recorded many killings. Malacañang ordered more police visibility, which is difficult to implement because of the lack of policemen. Transport groups complain Opinion ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 Transport groups have joined in questioning the high fines imposed by the Land Transportation Franchising & Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and Department of Transport and Communications (DOTC) on ‘colorum’ public utility vehicles or unlicensed operators of public transport services and other traffic violators. A fine of P1 million is imposed on ‘colorum’ buses plus 3 months impounding. That’s too much. The petitioners have reason to complain that it is tantamount to deprivation of property without due process.

Travel bans Two divisions of the Sandiganbayan has issued separate Hold Departure Orders (HDOs) against Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla and Juan Ponce Enrile and members of their staff, together with 35 others charged with plunder and graft due to their alleged involvement in the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam. The Third Division issued the HDO which prevents Enrile from leaving the country without permission from the court. Enrile is facing one count of plunder and 15 counts graft, which allegedly earned him P172 million in kickbacks. Meanwhile, the First Division issued HDO against Revilla in one count of plunder and 16 counts of graft, which allegedly accumulated the biggest kickbacks worth more than P220 million. The two senators have filed applications for bail as warrants of arrest are expected to be issued soon. These senators have also filed motions for determination of probable cause. Gigi Reyes has filed a petition before the Supreme Court (SC) for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to suspend the proceedings against her as she was not given a chance to challenge the charges against her during the preliminary investigation by the Ombudsman. She is also asking for a copy of the affidavit of Ruby Tuason. The Sandiganbayan is expected to issue warrants of arrest after finding the existence of probable cause. The three senators have issued individual statements that they are ready to go to jail. Revilla answers De Lima Senator Bong Revilla issued a statement answering Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s unsolicited advice, for the Senator not to run for president in 2016 out of “delicadeza” or sense of propriety, and for him to think of the national interest. “I have yet to be rendered guilty in the cases they have filed against me. Why is De Lima preempting the situation? Perhaps, out of delicadeza, she should also choose the issues that are within her mandate. If it is the people who ask me to run, who is she and who am I to say no?” Revilla told reporters at the Senate. Revilla who has gone around Cavite and Metro Manila the last few days stressed that running for president in 2016 is farthest from his mind. He said that he is encumbered with defending himself with the charges filed against him. The case against him and the two other senators are not expected to be finished by 2016. Some legal analysts predict it may take 5 years to conclude the case, with any guilty verdict to be appealed to the Supreme Court (SC).

Alcala clueless The price of imported garlic is now retailed at more than P300/kilo and P180/kilo for locally produced variety. Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala is clueless as to the cause of the garlic and even ginger price spike. The DA is sending out rolling stores to sell local garlic but the supply is limited. Traders are making a killing as they bought garlic from farmers at P65/kilo. The price of commercial rice has also gone up by P2-4 a kilo. Secretary Herminio Coloma said government was “exerting all efforts to ensure the stable supply of rice, garlic and ginger.” DA officials say there is an artificial shortage caused by hoarding by traders. A TV news report said that Senator Francis Pangilinan, who was appointed by P-Noy to handle concerns related to food and agriculture, is presently abroad. Cayetano defends Joel In a press briefing, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano defended his former colleague and friend, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director General Joel Villanueva, saying “Jail the wolves, don’t sacrifice the lambs.” In essence saying jail the three senators, who are his political foes but spare Villanueva, an ally. Cayetano stated that the Department of Justice (DOJ) must focus on the evidence and not be swayed by the criticisms from various sectors to include administration allies in the next batches of cases in the ongoing pork barrel scam investigation. Cayetano wants more transparency so that all those guilty will be investigated and indicted, while all who are innocent shall be cleared.

‘Sabalo’ released to revive milkfish population Inquirer Northern Luzon 3:04 am | Thursday, June 19th, 2014

FISH BE WITH YOU Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas (left), Dagupan City Mayor Belen Fernandez and city agriculturist Emma Molina release “sabalo” (mother milkfish) into the Lingayen Gulf as part of the city government’s efforts to boost the “bangus” population in the wild. WILLIE LOMIBAO/CONTRIBUTOR DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines—Fishery and local government officials are releasing 70 “sabalo” (mother milkfish) into the Lingayen Gulf in a bid to revive the population of “bangus” (milkfish) in the wild. Mayor Belen Fernandez, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas and fishery officials released on Wednesday 13 sabalo into the waters off the fishing village of Pugaro here. Westly Rosario, chief of the National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Center (NIFTDC) here, said the other sabalo would be released on June 20, during the Agew na Dagupan (Dagupan Day) celebration. Each of the sabalo weighs 5 kilograms and is less than a meter long. Fernandez said that with the sabalo in the wild, this city, which is known for its tasty bangus, would have a steady source of fingerlings. “A kilogram of sabalo can lay half a million eggs. So, if these are 5 kg each, it’s times five,” Rosario said. He said the sabalo, which were raised at the NIFTDC, would have to be attended to for five years before they could lay eggs. “Hopefully, we can improve the catch for wild bangus in Dagupan as we revive the bangus population in the wild,” Rosario said.

Fernandez said the release of the sabalo would complement her program to clean this city’s rivers. “If you notice, in my program, we have a lot for the rivers. We have dredging, we removed fish pens and we have a ‘One Barangay, One Fish’ program. Our island tours will soon begin. I’m now working with the Department of Tourism on how to promote our rivers,” she said. She said she would put up a local version of Bangkok’s floating market, which would be cleaner and would offer food that made Dagupan famous. “To realize these will take time. But I can wait; I’m very patient,” she said. Rosario has warned local fishermen against catching the sabalo. “I want to reiterate that catching sabalo is punishable by six to eight years’ imprisonment, a fine of P80,000 plus confiscation of all fishing implements and suspension of license to fish,” he said.–Gabriel Cardinoza

Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Rains in Metro, western parts of Luzon, Visayas on Thursday By Bong Lozada 8:04 am | Thursday, June 19th, 2014

MT Satellite image June 19, 2014, 7:14 a.m. Screengrab from MANILA, Philippines–Rains are forecast for the western parts of Luzon and Visayas on Thursday, as the southwest monsoon prevails over those areas, the weather bureau said that rains are bound to ensue. In its early-morning bulletin, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomic Services Administration (Pagasa) said Metro Manila, the regions of Ilocos, Mimaropa, Calabarzon and Western Visayas and the provinces of Bataan and Zambales would have occasional rains. Pagasa added that the rest of the country would be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rainshowers and thunderstorms.

Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook            

Gov’t execs, employees warned on unliquidated cash advances By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines - The Civil Service Commission (CSC) issued a stern warning yesterday to government officials and employees with unliquidated cash advances. ‘Liquidate cash advances or risk dismissal from service,” CSC Chairman Francisco Duque III warned. Failure to liquidate cash advances within the prescribed period is a violation of policy guidelines and implies omission or refusal of the official or employee concerned to perform legal duties, the CSC said. Duque said such gross neglect of duty is penalized with dismissal from service with accessory penalties of forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office, cancellation of civil service eligibility and prohibition from taking civil service exams. The CSC announced that it ordered the dismissal of Mark Benedick Isabelo from government service last year after he was found guilty of failing to liquidate cash advances amounting to P114,064.45. According to the Commission on Audit (COA)’s Statement of Cash Advances and Liquidations as of Dec. 31, 2008, Isabelo, a former private secretary at PTV4 Office of the General Manager, was granted P75,000 to defray expenses for the purchase of materials, furniture and fixtures for the renovation of the general manager’s office and conference room, while P39,064.45 was granted to defray expenses for the adjustment of travel itinerary of the PTV4 chief to the United States. Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 COA sent him a final demand letter on Aug. 14, 2008 to settle his accountabilities, to which he failed to reply within 30 days. On Sept. 18, 2009, the CSC directed Isabelo to submit his counter-affidavit and he again failed to do so, prompting the CSC to formally charge him for gross neglect of duty.‐execs‐employees‐warned‐unliquidated‐ cash‐advances   

Pantabangan Dam nearing critical level By Manny Galvez (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 CABANATUAN CITY, Philippines – Water level at the Pantabangan Dam yesterday fell below 180 meters, nearing the critical level of 171.5 meters, while the low water supply threatens to cut off power generation in the Luzon grid operated by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP). Josephine Salazar, operations manager of the Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation Systems (UPRIIS) that operates Pantabangan Dam, said that as of noon yesterday, water level at the dam was recorded at 179.29 meters, down from 179.52 meters last Tuesday. Yesterday’s water elevation was just 7.79 meters higher than the critical level of 171.5 meters and just 2.29 meters above the minimum power generation level of the First Gen Corp., which operates the power plant that provides electricity to NGCP. The NGCP in turn transmits the electricity to distribution utilities. Last June 1, the dam’s level was recorded at 182.35 meters. The low water level is expected to affect the cities of Muñoz and San Jose and the towns of Guimba, Licab, Quezon and Talavera in Nueva Ecija and Victoria, Tarlac. The dam has an active storage volume of 163.1556 million cubic meters, down from 168.9539 mcm Tuesday. Salazar said they expect the water level to go down to 177 meters up to the end of this month. “Based on our projection, it will hit 177 meters. But by the first week of July, we will meet the irrigation requirements so we will again close the intake gate,” she said, adding that they see no problem when it comes to irrigation but the problem will affect power generation. Salazar added that they are planning to undertake cloud-seeding operations in the affected areas. For over a month, the UPRIIS stopped the supply of water for irrigation of some 100,000 hectares of agricultural lands in Central Luzon and resumed releasing water to its service areas. UPRIIS had programmed for irrigation some 114,026 hectares for the twin cropping seasons, up by 2,772 hectares from last year’s 111,254 hectares. Cristino Castillo, UPRIIS chief of the dam and reservoir division, said that they released water at a rate of 80 cubic meters per second, up from 60 cms at the start of this month at the onset of wet cropping season.

Richard Dipontorum, First Gen plant manager, said their power plant generates 60 megawatts of electricity, half of its maximum power-generating capacity of 120 megawatts. Oratio moratorium Less than a month since the mandatory Oratio imperata or prayers for rain were issued, the Archdiocese of Manila recently ordered all the clergy to stop praying for rain. In a circular issued last June 11, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle told all the clergy, superiors of religious communities and heads of secular institutes in the archdiocese to stop praying for rain. Tagle said that he is ordering the lifting of the Oratio imperata for rain because the weather agency has officially declared the start of the rainy season in the country. – With Evelyn Macairan‐dam‐nearing‐critical‐level                                 

Obama to create world’s largest ocean preserve Associated Press 12:43 am | Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth Catherine Novelli, listen as actor Leonardo DiCaprio speaks at the second day of the State Department’s ‘Our Ocean’ conference at the State Department in Washington, Tuesday, June 17, 2014. President Barack Obama is looking to create the largest marine preserve in the world by protecting a massive stretch of the Pacific Ocean from drilling, fishing and other actions that could threaten wildlife, the White House said. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen) WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama announced plans Tuesday to create the largest ocean preserve in the world by banning drilling, fishing and other activities in a massive stretch of the Pacific Ocean in a move to protect fragile marine life. Using presidential authority that doesn’t require new action from Congress, Obama proposed to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, which President George W. Bush designated to protect unique species and rare geological formations. The waters are all considered U.S. territory because they surround an array of remote, mostly uninhabited islands that the US controls between Hawaii and American Samoa. Carbon pollution is making the world’s oceans more acidic, pollution is threatening marine life and overfishing could wipe out entire species, Obama warned as he vowed to expand the sanctuary during an ocean conservation conference hosted by the State Department. “If we ignore these problems, if we drain our oceans of their resources, we won’t just be squandering one of humanity’s greatest treasures,” Obama said in a recorded video message. “We’ll be cutting off one of the world’s major sources of food and economic growth, including for the United States. We cannot afford to let that happen.” In a related environmental move, Obama vowed to take steps to curb the black market for fish and to combat fraud that hides the origin of seafood products.

Obama hasn’t settled on the final boundaries for the preserve. The White House said Obama planned to solicit input from fishermen, scientists, politicians, experts in conservation and others before the new protections take effect. But conservation groups the potential reach could be massive.

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio speaks at the second day of the State Department’s ‘Our Ocean’ conference at the State Department in Washington, Tuesday, June 17, 2014. President Barack Obama is looking to create the largest marine preserve in the world by protecting a massive stretch of the Pacific Ocean from drilling, fishing and other actions that could threaten wildlife, the White House said. AP Under maritime law, nations have exclusive economic control over waters that extends 200 nautical miles from its coast. Drawing on a geographic analysis of US possessions in the region, the Pew Charitable Trusts determined that Obama could protect more than 780,000 square miles (202,000 sq. kilometers) — almost nine times what Bush set aside when he created the monument. If Obama were to also protect the waters around the Northern Mariana Islands, the sanctuary could grow to roughly 1.5 million square miles (3.8 million sq. kilometers), Pew said. The executive steps, first reported by The Washington Post, come as Obama is searching for ways to leave his second-term mark on the environment despite opposition from many Republicans in Congress. Presidents have authority to phase out commercial fishing and other activities from US waters under the 1906 Antiquities Act, the same law that allows for land-based national monuments to be created by executive order. Still, the moves could rankle some Republican lawmakers who say Obama is exceeding his authority by going around Congress to promote his agenda on issues like the environment, immigration and gay rights. Earlier this month Obama unveiled sweeping new pollution limits on US power plants amid signs that Congress wouldn’t act soon to combat the heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming. Obama also vowed to create a government program to combat black market fishing and seafood fraud, in which seafood products are mislabeled to hide their origin. The White House said 20

percent of the wild marine fish caught each year are part of the black market, at a cost of $23 billion to the legitimate fishing industry. “President Obama’s announcement is a historic step forward in the fight against seafood fraud and illegal fishing worldwide,” said Beth Lowell of the conservation group Oceana. “This initiative is a practical solution to an ugly problem and will forever change the way we think about our seafood.” The practical effect of the expanded marine sanctuary could be modest. At present, very little commercial fishing is conducted in the waters Obama is seeking to protect, and there are no signs that drilling in the waters is imminent. But conservation groups said it was crucial to take proactive steps to prevent those activities going forward. “Anywhere there are fish to be extracted or minerals or resources, these locations are under threat form commercial extraction,” said Matt Rand, who runs Pew’s global ocean legacy project. Obama, in his public comments, indicated the significance was partially symbolic. By taking the lead on ocean conservation, the U.S. can encourage the rest of the world to protect resources for future generations, he said. “For this effort to succeed, it has to be bigger than any one country,” Obama said.

Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook                      

CBCP asked to break silence on prices By Delfin T. Mallari Jr. Inquirer Southern Luzon 12:06 am | Thursday, June 19th, 2014 LUCENA CITY, Philippines—The farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) on Wednesday called on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to break its silence on the ongoing increase in food prices. “We call on the Catholic Church hierarchy to speak up against the Aquino regime’s antipoor food policy,” KMP chair Rafael Mariano said in a statement. Mariano said farmers, workers, fishermen and the urban poor were the hardest hit by spikes in food prices. Rice now sells for P2 more per kilogram. According to the latest monitoring report by the Department of Agriculture, prices of imported garlic shot up to more than P300 per kg while local garlic costs P180 per kg. In the first quarter of 2014 alone, garlic prices rose by 213 percent, or more than thrice its old price. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala has ordered an inquiry and sent rolling trucks to sell basic goods at lower prices. Mariano said the increase in prices was the result of the Aquino administration’s coddling of rice cartels and smugglers, and the lack of subsidy to farmers. Mariano challenged the CBCP to side with farmers and the poor to expose “blatant lies” about the country’s real situation being peddled by government officials. “The Aquino government is deceiving the Filipino people. It does not have a concrete solution to the lingering food and hunger problems,” Mariano said. He slammed Malacañang’s prediction of food stability by September as “baseless and a mere political pacifier.” According to Mariano, rice prices started increasing in July last year and continued until today. From July to September, rice prices increased by up to P4 per kg, he said.

Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

M&As among smaller tobacco companies seen By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2014 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Grappling with slower growth and higher taxes, the local tobacco industry may soon become a fertile area for M&A (mergers and acquisitions) activity. Industry observers said tobacco takeovers may be about to catch fire again as small players with meager market share struggle to grow amid intensifying competition in the multi-billion peso sector. The industry is abuzz with speculation that Bulacan-based cigarette manufacturer Mighty Corp. might partner with a global tobacco player which is striving for a firm foothold in the Philippine market currently dominated by Philippine Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC). PMFTC, a joint venture between LT Group Inc. of billionaire Lucio Tan, and global tobacco giant Philip Morris, has seen its market share dip after the government raised taxes on cigarettes forcing it to raise the prices of its Marlboro and Fortune brands while its rival Mighty held back its P1 per stick pricing in the low-end brand. As price competition heats up, consumers turned to lower priced brands due to budget constraints. The biggest beneficiary was Mighty, whose market share jumped to over 20 percent last year. Mighty, however, may find itself partnering with a bigger market player to deal with its problems, which include the company’s alleged illicit trade practices. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 The BIR has closed down Mighty’s customs bonded warehouse, pending completion of its investigation. An initial report of a DOF task force showed that Mighty committed serious violations of tariff and customs laws, rules and regulations, resulting in huge revenue losses for the government. In a chance interview, Tan reiterated that the government should act on alleged smuggling practices employed by some local cigarette players that allowed them to sell their products at extremely lower prices. When asked whether it had plans to acquire Mighty, Tan said: “It has a partner.” Mighty, however, declined to comment.

Japan Tobacco International (JTI), maker of Winston, Camel, Mild Seven, Benson & Hedges, said it was unlikely for the company to partner or purchase Mighty as it recently concluded an agreement to acquire Zandera Ltd., a leader in e-cigarettes in the United Kingdom. British American Tobacco, which industry players are speculating as a potential partner of Mighty, likewise refused to comment. The company, which has re-established itself in the Philippines after pulling out in 2009, has been struggling to expand its less than one-percent market share. BAT, which produces Lucky Strike and Pall Mall brands, is the world’s second largest tobacco company by sales after Philip Morris. It has committed to invest at least $200 million in the country over a five-year period. An industry observer said BAT might need to enter into partnerships with other small players if it wants to see significant gains in its market share. Mighty is a small company owned by the Wongchuking family which was established in the 1940s. It was the producer of La Campanilla, Magkaibigan, Campana Ringing Bell and other local brands.‐among‐smaller‐tobacco‐companies‐seen                             

Philex gets PAB okay to resume operations By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines - The Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) has given listed Philex Mining Corp. the go signal to resume regular operations of its copper-gold mine in Benguet province after completing the rehabilitation works on the waterways affected by the massive tailings spill that occurred in 2012. In a resolution dated June 9, the quasi-judicial body ruling on pollution cases said that with the payment of the fine of P188.6 million imposed for violation of the Clean Water Act, the issuance of a formal lifting order is now in order. “The undersigned hereby issues a formal lifting order in favor of the respondent. This shall effectively remove this case from the dockets of the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) without prejudice to future action(s) that may be commended against respondent as may be warranted by circumstances or by law,” the resolution stated. Citing the report of the Environment Management Bureau (EMB) in the Cordillera region, Environment undersecretary for policy and PAB presiding officer Demetrio Ignacio said all the effluent and water samples collected from the Agno River and Balog creek are now within the water quality criteria set by the government. “The waterways are now cleared of silt. The water quality is also now within the standards set by the government,” he said in a phone interview. On Aug. 1, 2012, some 20 million tons of water and sediment were discharged from one of the two underground tunnels of the mine’s tailings storage facility (TSF) no. 3, contaminating the Agno River and Balog Creek. The PAB imposed a penalty of P188.6 million for violation of the Clean Water Act covering the period of August 2012 to February 2014. Philex Mining settled the fine on June 5. The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), however, has not yet approved the regular resumption of operations by the mine. After the suspension imposed on the mine immediately after the occurrence of the spill, The MGB and PAB allowed Philex to temporarily resume operations for four months on March 8, 2013 to carry out the so-called beaching process for its compromised tailings pond. After four months, the company asked the MGB for an extension of at least two years to complete the rehabilitation of the pond as well as other tailings management infrastructure that

include the P500 million open spillway that replaces the comprised underground drainage system of the pond. The still ongoing beaching process entails the dumping of more tailings into the pond to fill the conical void in the pond and displace the water accumulated in the tailings storage facility.‐gets‐pab‐okay‐resume‐operations                                           

Coco-based exports down 25% in April By Ronnel W. Domingo Philippine Daily Inquirer 9:43 am | Thursday, June 19th, 2014

INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines–The monthly volume of coconut-based exports plunged by 25 percent year on year in April, the seventh month in a row, as the domestic industry continued to suffer from the effects of Super Typhoon Yolanda and a cyclical downturn in output. Preliminary data from the United Coconut Associations of the Philippines (Ucap) showed that the country shipped out in April a total of 117,924 tons in copra terms. The decline was worst for the first two months of the year, with the volume shrinking 46 percent to a total of 438,700 tons. January-to-April shipments of coconut oil (CNO) plunged 49 percent to 237,831 tons; copra meal by 53 percent to 156,947 tons; desiccated coconut by 17 percent to 34,009 tons; and oleochemicals as copra by 3 percent to 8,610 tons. During the four-month period, there was no copra export compared to 70 tons in the same period of 2013. In April alone, shipments of top dollar earner CNO fell 27 percent to 63,621 tons while copra meal dived 72 percent to 23,025 tons. Copra meal is the residue left after oil is squeezed out of copra and it is used to make livestock and fishery feeds. The volume of desiccated coconut exports also dropped 25 percent to 9,339 tons. On the other hand, oleochemicals registered the only positive growth at 142-fold to reach 2,500 tons from 167 tons.

Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook  

PHL, Indonesia to sign agreement on seaweeds Category: Agri‐Commodities   18 Jun 2014   Written by Alladin S. Diega / Correspondent   THE Philippine government is currently negotiating with Indonesia for a comprehensive agreement on  seaweeds farming, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.   “The  Indonesian  government  is  willing  to  help  us  improve  our  capacity  for  seaweeds  production,”  Agriculture  Secretary  Proceso  J.  Alcala  said  during  the  send‐off  ceremony  for  the  department’s  multipurpose ship carrying fishing paraphernalia, held recently at the Navotas fishing port.  Alcala,  who  recently  visited  Indonesia,  said  the  country  has  “a  long  and  successful  history  of  mass‐ producing seaweeds and is willing to share its experiences with the Philippines.”  Early  this  year  buyers  from  China  expressed  interest  in  buying  big  volumes  of  dried  seaweeds  from  Mindanao.  The  interest  was  expressed  by  Chinese  businessmen,  led  by  Consulate  General  of  the  People’s  Republic  of  China  Zhang  Weiguo,  who  visited  Mindanao  recently,  accompanied  by  Filipino‐ Chinese businessmen.  Output  from  the  various  seaweeds‐industry  clusters  in  Mindanao,  however,  is  still  limited  and  cannot  meet  the  volume  required  by  the  foreign  buyers  even  if  the  harvest  capacity  of  Surigao,  Agusan,  Zamboanga, Tawi‐Tawi, Basilan and Sulu are combined.  The  development  prompted  seaweed  raisers  in  Mindanao  to  increase  their  respective  areas  for  wider  seaweeds production.  Currently,  buyers  of  locally  grown  dried  seaweeds  of  carrageenan  plants  in  Surigao,  Davao  and  Zamboanga process them into carrageenan powder for export to buyers in China, the US and Europe.  Carrageenan,  a  white  powdery  substance  and  usually  prepared  as  refined  or  semirefined,  is  used  for  scores of consumer and industrial applications, from food, medicine and industrial products.  Pressed  by  the  high  demand  for  carrageenan  but  without  enough  production  of  raw  materials,  seaweeds producers from Mindanao are importing seaweeds from Indonesia.  Prices for dried seaweeds bought by local plants range from P36 to P40 a kilo, while wet seaweeds fetch  only from P4 to P5 a kilo, particularly for varieties commonly used as a side dish. 

Last year four commercially viable hybrid varieties of seaweeds were developed by the University of the  Philippines’s Marine Science Institute (UPMSI), and is currently being prepared for mass propagation.  The  newly  developed  seaweeds,  are  varieties  of  known  seaweeds  such  as  Kappaphycus  spp  and  Eucheuma denticulatum, Dr. Marco Nemesio E. Montaño of the UPMSI said.   Montaño said the newly developed varieties can serve the country’s need for improved production of  seaweeds for the growing need of carrageenan, for they are proven to be fast growing.  A  hundred  gram  of  a  variety  can  reproduce  into  more  than  1,000  kilos,  or  1  ton  for  only  10  months,  Montaño said.‐commodities/34015‐phl‐indonesia‐to‐ sign‐agreement‐on‐seaweeds                                   

Typhoon‐ravaged Davao Oriental awaits FDA nod on banner ‘Hot Pablo’ chili Category: Agri‐Commodities   18 Jun 2014   Written by Manuel T. Cayon / Mindanao Bureau Chief   DAVAO CITY—Davao Oriental producers of the “Hot Pablo” chili pepper products, which came out as a  banner food product after the damaging typhoon in 2012, remained stuck on the local market trying to  comply with the requirements of the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).  At least two of them would be able to comply with the more costly requirement of the land and building  to house the processing area, where the FDA has also set sanitary requirements to ensure food safety,  the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.  There are eight processors of the native variety of the chili pepper, which the DTI has helped some local  businessmen  venture  into  processing  this  into  paste,  sauce  and  powder,  and  which  the  DTI  also  encouraged local farmers into growing the products to ensure supply.  Domingo  S.  Cruz  Jr.,  trade  promotion  officer  of  DTI  in  Davao  Oriental,  said  the  producers  have  been  attending  seminars  and  briefings  of  the  FDA  to  size  up  their  capability  to  comply  with  the  food  and  sanitary requirements as they set sights on venturing into the international market. Planting of the local  variety of the chili pepper, the spicy fruit of plants in the genus Capsicum, has been confined for now in  the three Davao Oriental towns of Baganga, Cateel and Boston, the three areas most damaged by the  Typhoon Pablo in December 2012.  Chili production into various consumer products was given singular government support and attention,  and packaged as Hot Pablo chili products, after the products easily caught interest among Filipinos.  In  trade  fairs,  Cruz  said,  the  hot  chili  products  were  easily  the  fastest‐moving  products,  and  were  the  point of interest also by foreign buyers.  But venturing into the international market would still need the FDA approval of the product for food  safety. Cruz could not make estimate of the compliance of the FDA requirements, but said that in one  case of a small food processing business that started with P50,000 capital, complying with the building  requirement alone would need P500,000.‐commodities/34014‐typhoon‐ravaged‐ davao‐oriental‐awaits‐fda‐nod‐on‐banner‐hot‐pablo‐chili 

KMP warns against intense hunger with price of rice rising Category: Agri‐Commodities   18 Jun 2014   Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga   THE Kilusang MagBubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) on Wednesday urged the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of  the Philippines (CBCP) to take the cudgel and stand beside the Filipino poor on the spike of food prices,  particularly  the  staple  food,  which  it  blames  on  the  government’s  alleged  anti‐poor  and  anti‐people  policies.  KMP Chairman Rafael Mariano wants CBCP to break its silence  on the ongoing food‐price hikes in  the  country and tell the government to act with dispatch to address the problem.  The group said that with no rice price rollback in sight, and with more price hikes waiting to happen in  the  next  few  months  until  October,  the  poor,  who  could  not  afford  the  high  prices  of  basic  food  commodities such as rice, will be severely affected.  Farmers,  workers,  fishers,  and  the  urban  poor  are  the  hardest  hit  by  the  recent  spikes  in  food  prices  brought about the alleged rice importation and trade‐liberalization policy being pursued by the Aquino  administration, Mariano said.  Worse, he said the government is aggravating the situation with the removal of regulation and control  on prices and its alleged coddling of rice cartels and smugglers, and lack of subsidy to rice farmers.  “The  Aquino  government  is  deceiving  the  Filipino  people.  It  does  not  have  a  concrete  solution  to  the  lingering  food  and  hunger  problem,”  Mariano  said,  noting  that  “Malacanang’s  prediction  of  food  stability by September is baseless and a mere political pacifier.”  The rice‐price hikes started in July last year with a P2 to P4 increase.  This caused prices of commercial  rise to go up from P32 to a low of P34 and as high as P36 per kilo.    Another  wave  of  price  increase  happened  last  September  pegging  prices  between  P38  to  P40.  The  current P2 increase in rice prices pegged the prices of commercial rice at P42.  In retail stores that sell rice, prices are as high as P48 to P65 per kilo, depending on the quality of the  grains. 

The  KMP  said  rice‐price  hikes  and  intense  hunger  will  continue  to  hound  the  country  in  the  next  few  months and worse, with Aquino’s anti‐poor food policy, “there is no price rollback in sight even during  harvest  season  in  October.”  KMP  cited  a  report  of  the  Bureau  of  Agricultural  Statistics  stating  that  country’s rice inventory could last for 74 days, longer than the 64 days in April.  Of the total inventory last month, 39 days’ worth of rice were held by households, while 21 days were in  commercial  warehouses.  The  remaining  14  days  were  in  depositories  of  the  National  Food  Authority  (NFA).   Mariano said the 14‐day supply held  by the  NFA  cannot influence  prices  in  the local market.  “This is  exactly  the  reason  why  cartels  increased  rice  prices  in  a  click  of  a  mouse,”  Mariano  said.    The  rice  situation will get worse with the government’s release into the local market of the 800,000 metric tons  of imported rice currently entering the country’s ports, he said.  “The release of the imported rice, that will eventually fall at the hands of rice cartels, will further push  rice prices up,” Mariano said.  The  KMP  also  continued  to  belie  reports  that  so‐called  market  forces  and  the  high  prices  of  palay  (unhusked rice) caused the sudden increases in rice prices.  “In the Philippine rice industry where big landlords and rice cartels rule and dictate price movements,  the so‐called market forces theory is nothing but pure fiction,” Mariano said.  He said in the provinces of Isabela and Quirino the buying price of traders for “newly harvested or wet  palay” are now pegged at P17‐18 per kilo while prices of “dry palay” are pegged at P20‐22 per kilo. In  Bicol, the price of wet palay is pegged at P18.50 per kilo.  Mariano  said  the  government  should  stop  blaming  rice  farmers  in  their  failure  to  address  rice  price  increases.  The  average  P17  per  kilo  of  palay  at  the  farm  gate  completely  belie  claims  that  high  palay  prices  triggered rice price hikes, he said.  The KMP noted that in Guimba town in Nueva Ecija, agents by traders are allegedly buying dried palay at  a  price  of  P26  per  kilo.  However,  farmers  do  not  have  palay  to  sell  at  P26  per  kilo  since  farmers  no  longer have palay.‐commodities/34013‐kmp‐warns‐ against‐intense‐hunger‐with‐price‐of‐rice‐rising     

Farmers get land titles   June 19, 2014  

Surigao del Norte – More than 200 farmers in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte province received their Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) on Thursday. The CLOAs were handed by Governor Sol Matugas and Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) regional director Faisar Mambuay in a ceremony held at the Kapitolyo Nan Siargao.

Initially, 212 farmers from the municipalities of Burgos, Dapa, Del Carmen, General Luna, San Benito, San Isidro and Sta. Monica received their CLOAs. “Our agency is now concentrating in helping our farmers in far-flung areas in the region,” Mambuay said. The DAR official also handed indemnity checks to 175 other farmers amounting to P1.13 million under the agency’s Agrarian Insurance Program (AIP) and the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC). “After of so many years, our farmers in the island can proudly say they have their own land now,” Matugas said. (Mike Crismundo)‐get‐land‐titles/                       

Human Face 

Our daily garlic By Ma. Ceres P. Doyo  Philippine Daily Inquirer  2:43 am | Thursday, June 19th, 2014  

I do not remember a time when garlic made the news because it became rare and expensive. Perhaps now is the first time most of us are experiencing the problem and getting daily news about it. Prices have gone up 10 times or more, and those in the food preparation business are alarmed. Self-styled chefs at home or in turo-turo cannot use enough of this kitchen mainstay because its price has hit the roof. Is there really a shortage? Is it an artificial one, a manipulated shortage meant to benefit some sectors? Is there a problem on the ground where this important cooking ingredient is grown? Is it environmental, agricultural, cultural, economic? Who are making a killing? If there were, I wish it were our garlic farmers who have long suffered because of the dumping of cheap imported garlic on the market. Consumers have preferred the imported kind because it is cheaper, bigger, and easier to peel. Never mind that it is not as pungent and aromatic, and therefore you need to use more of it. Locally produced garlic, though smaller, is stronger in flavor and aroma but more expensive. You know the variety is local because the bulbs are usually bunched together, with their stems in a braid. They make for nice kitchen decor, too. The last time I went to the grocery I chose the locally grown garlic in a braid and ignored the higher price as my way of patronizing our local produce. Would you do that if you were running a food business? Garlic—bawang in Tagalog, ahos in Visayan (from the Spanish ajo)—is an Asian staple, a must in every Filipino kitchen. What is Filipino adobo without garlic? What is Filipino fried rice without garlic? Sinangag (Tagalog for fried rice) or kalo-kalo (Ilonggo) is now listed in restaurant menus as garlic rice. Though used in small quantities, garlic gives a dish a distinct flavor that cannot be substituted by other spices. If garlic were addictive, we would be suffering from a withdrawal syndrome. While trimming my overgrown garlic vine (a flowering plant that smells like garlic) the other day, I couldn’t help wondering if its leaves could perhaps be used as garlic flavoring. I thought of the garlic-laced chichiria that Filipinos love to snack on—adobo peanuts, corniks, chippies, etc. I thought of Boy Bawang, a Filipino brand of chichiria that proudly carries the bawang in its name.

Years ago I got to dine in a San Francisco restaurant named Stinking Rose, which served garlicflavored dishes. I even tried its yummy garlic-flavored ice cream. I searched Google and found that, yes, it’s still there, and now with several branches in different places. I have yet to see a Filipino restaurant specializing in garlic dishes.

Considering that the Philippines was in the Spice Islands route during Magellan’s expedition, it’s rather strange that our food is not as heavily spiced as those of our neighbors. For the longest time garlic, ginger, onion and pepper were our only main staples. Only in the recent years, and because of global culinary explorations and expansionism, if one can call it that, did foreignsounding spices become part of our home cooking. Now we even grow our own herbs and spices. I have a whole section in my garden. It is good to know that the Department of Agriculture is doing something to “temper the price spike” of garlic, as an Inquirer news report said, by sending trucks loaded with garlic to key market places. The imported variety had shot up to P300 a kilo, while the local one is at P180. Good for our farmers, I should say, if this means they’d have more buyers. But the problem is that it is off season and farmers don’t have enough to sell. Is there a way to prevent the dumping of imported cheap, flavorless garlic so that our garlic farmers will be encouraged to produce more? Is there a way to monitor middlemen who buy at very low prices and sell at scandalous prices? An agriculture official has observed that garlic prices spiked when the produce was no longer in the hands of the growers. Meaning, the traders made a killing. Garlic (allium sativum) is not only for cooking. It has been used as a traditional cure for ailments. In the book “Medicinal Fruits and Vegetables,” authors Jaime Galvez Tan (a former health secretary) and Ma. Rebecca M. Galvez Tan cite research findings on the uses of garlic: “The bulb contains allicin, volatile oil, sulfides, protein, fat, carbohydrates, choline and myrosinase. The leaves contain protein, fat and sulfides. Allicin has been found to inhibit a broad variety of bacteria, fungi and protozoa. Foreign researchers have reported garlic to have hypoglycemic (lowers blood sugar), hypolipemic and fibrinolytic (prevents accumulation of fats in the blood vessels), diuretic (increases the amount of urine), and anticlotting properties. It also has antiobesity action. “Garlic has been studied to be a carminative (expels intestinal worms), diaphoretic (induces excessive perspiration) and an expectorant (promotes removal of respiratory secretions). Raw garlic, however, has been shown to have mutagenic potential. “Research shows that two cloves of garlic a day protects against H. pylori infections. Garlic has increased immunity of AIDS patients and also relieved several symptoms, according to a study (Castleman). Garlic has antitumor properties by inhibiting new vascularization. Studies show that people taking garlic are less prone to atheroscleoris (Balch).”

From the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens website: “Garlic was domesticated long ago and is mentioned in ancient Egyptian, Greek, Indian, and Chinese writings. Garlic bulbs from about 1,500 BC were found in the tomb of Tutankhamen, and garlic is mentioned in the Bible and Qur’an.” Give us today our daily garlic. Send feedback to or   Read more:‐daily‐garlic#ixzz353RfZuGL   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook                                     

92 boxes of endangered shells seized   June 19, 2014  

Bacolod City – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) confiscated 92 boxes of helmet shells at the Barcelona Port in Escalante City, north of Negros Occidental. BFAR provincial director Carlito Delfin said in a televised interview that the helmet shells or “budyong” are considered endangered and harvesting it is a violation of the Fisheries Code of 1998. Delfin said the helmet shells were placed inside large boxes. It is sold at P300 to P500 per piece. These are used in producing ornaments and lamps. (Edith Colmo)‐boxes‐of‐endangered‐shells‐seized/                                 

Illegal cutting of Bohol mangroves probed   June 18, 2014  

Getafe, Bohol – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-7) is looking at reports that mangroves are being illegally cut in the Banacon Island Mangrove Forest (BIMF), within the Getafe Mangrove Swam Forest Reserve and Wilderness Area in Getafe, Bohol. The agency will send a team of investigators after DENR-7 Regional Executive Director Isabelo R. Montejo ordered the strict implementation of a Central Visayas region-wide ban on the harvesting or allegedly rampant cutting of mangroves within the largest man-made mangrove forest in Asia. The team will be headed by Talibon, Bohol Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO) Elpidio Palaca, along with two others. The BIMF is an eco-tourism destination with an approximate area of 425 hectares established through community efforts which started sometime in 1957. “Mangroves are very useful because they serve as critical spawning, nursery, feeding and transient shelter areas to hundreds of fish species and support an abundant and productive marine life,” said Montejo. He stressed that Presidential Proclamation 2146, which was promulgated in 1982 and Republic Act Number 7161, imposes a national ban on the cutting of mangroves with certain liabilities. Mangrove forests act as barriers or natural seawalls that protect coastal communities from tsunamis and storm surges – phenomena which are now more common because of climate change. They also act as a buffer for sea level rise, a phenomenon also linked to climate change. “As early as now, we have to realize the importance and the vital role of these mangroves. We also have to take note that these are full grown mangroves and it would take another decade or more to establish more of these, so let’s not waste these resources,” he stressed. Mangroves contribute 1,800-4,200 grams of carbon per square meter per year, approximately the contribution of a tropical rain forest and 10 times higher than primary production in the open ocean, the DENR said. The Getafe Mangrove Swam Forest Reserve and Wilderness Area became a protected area through Presidential Proclamation Numbers 2151 and 2152 established in December, 1981. (Mars W. Mosqueda, Jr.)‐cutting‐of‐bohol‐mangroves‐probed/ 

Turning farmers into entrepreneurs by Zac Sarian  June 18, 2014  

We have often seen seed companies putting up demo farms to teach the farmers how they can grow the seeds that they are distributing. That is also being done by government agencies in teaching farmers how to grow rice or corn properly. Now, we have been told that a supplier of chemical inputs and seeds is changing its strategy. Instead of just teaching the farmers how to plant their hybrid rice, it is going to teach them to become farmer entrepreneurs. That is a good idea because that will make the farmers exploit the opportunities that are just sitting around. That could make them more competitive in the marketplace.

FULL‐BODIED SWEET GUYABANO FRUIT – Photo shows a well‐formed full‐bodied sweet guyabano fruit  which looks much better than the usually misshapen fruits in the market. This could be the result of  properly pollinated flowers. This is the variety that is being recommended for propagation. It is fleshy  and very juicy. It can be made into a juice drink or shake, or eaten as fresh fruit. With the coming of the  rains, it is time to plant guyabano seedlings. Seedling plants will usually bear fruit after a couple of years  with proper care such as providing enough organic and chemical fertilizers, and also providing ample  space so that the tree will not grow very tall and lanky. 

What are some of the things that could be taught to the farmers so that they will regard farming as a business? RECORD KEEPING – One of the things that could be taught to the farmers is keeping records of many things. A record of the date they plant a certain crop, for instance. A record of how many days a certain crop will be ready for harvest. A record of how many bags of fertilizer (at how much) were applied to the rice crop during one season. And so on.

The farmer could record all the cash expenses and then the total sales. With that record, he could easily tell if he is making money or is losing money. He could make comparisons of his expenses and income from different crops that he is growing. Then he will know which crop is more profitable to grow. Then he will know what crop he should focus his efforts on. One person who has kept his records on actual production cost and total sales of his organic pig production project is Jess Domingo of Alfonso Lista, Ifugao. As a topnotch accountant who gave up his corporate job to become a farmer entrepreneur, he kept track of his expenses on feeds, weanlings, labor, electricity and water. Because of his accurate recording and computation of expenses, he readily saw that organic pig production is very profitable. The reason? He has come up with a fermented feed formulation that costs almost three times less than the cost of the commercial feed in the market. Now he is ready to expand his organic piggery. Because of Domingo’s actual recording of the cost of producing a piglet for fattening, he breeds his own sows so he can produce his own piglets for fattening. By his own computation, it costs him only about P675 to produce a piglet for fattening. If he were to buy from an outside source, he would be paying about P2,500 per piglet. That means he actually saves P1,825 per piglet by producing his own weanling for fattening. MARKETING – Marketing strategies are what the experts can teach the farmers. Timing of production for an identified market can result in a profitable farming operation. For instance, the farmer is aware of a big farming expo which could be staged by the government or by the private sector. Just like Agrilink which is usually held in the first or second week of each October. This is a market where the farmer can produce ahead of time what he could sell during the big event. One example is Ernesto Abalos who prepared for his bestseller last year. He produced a lot of Paraoakan chickens, mature and small ones. He prepared a lot of roosters for sale because he anticipated that gamefowl breeders would like to purchase some for their own breeding operations. And he was right. He also prepared a lot of female layers because he knew raisers of native chickens are looking for Paraoakan for free-range raising. He was after those who want to produce native chicken for meat. And also for eggs because there is a growing market for native chicken eggs. VALUE OF CLUSTERING – Farmers could also be taught about the value of what is often termed as clustering. The farmers form a cluster (or a cooperative) so that all of them will benefit. As a group, they can more easily ask for assistance from the Department of Agriculture, for instance. As a group, they can procure their inputs at more reasonable prices. Suppliers of inputs provide discounts for volume purchases. As a group, they can also market their produce together so that they can ask for the right price.

VALUE OF SAVING AND INVESTING – The trainors can also teach the farmers the value of saving and investing what they earn. We remember a couple who got married right after finishing high school and were given a onehectare land to cultivate by the parents of the groom. They planted corn and saved all the income from their first crop. For their daily needs, the man purchased ice candy from the town and peddled the same in his barrio. The saving was used to rent a piece of land so they can produce more corn and save more money. When they had saved enough, they bought more land. Some owners also mortgaged to them their properties, which eventually became their own also. After several years, the couple had become owners of more than ten hectares. And they also became financiers. Townmates who needed money to buy inputs went to the couple for loans payable after harvest. Then they also became distributors of farming inputs which they supplied to the farmers who went to them for a loan. The woman was also able to put up her own little grocery in their barangay. They have become farmer-entrepreneurs. Actually, there so many other things that the farmers can be taught so they will become successful farm entrepreneurs. **** **** **** Log on to: for practical farming tips, ideas, opportunities and interesting agripeople. You can also contact us at 0917-841-477.‐farmers‐into‐entrepreneurs/                   

Milk, agri products price hikes till August By Othel V. Campos, Joyce P. Panares | Jun. 19, 2014 at 12:01am 

RETAIL prices for basic commodities including rice and milk will continue to rise for the next two months, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo said Wednesday. “The concern mostly is rice since we have low inventory during the start of the year. Although the start of the year. Although chicken and pork prices are also on the upswing, the chicken situation might be resolved in a month’s time. With pork, there is nothing definite since we are dealing here with pests, which is also a global problem,” Domingo told reporters at a briefing.




The suggested retail price of milk is expected to rise up to 8 percent given the 40.13 percent increase in the price of imported skimmed milk and the 48.63 percent rise in the cost of imported whole milk, Domingo said. The country imports the bulk of its milk requirements from New Zealand. Skimmed milk is used to produce condensed and evaporated milk while whole milk is used to process powdered milk for toddlers and adults. Domingo said the rising demand from China for skimmed and whole milk has increased global milk prices significantly. The government said rice prices will remain at their current high levels until rice imports arrive within the next two months.

The National Price Coordinating Council (NPCC) has asked the National Food Authority to release twice the amount of rice it releases on a daily basis to 8,000 metric tons or even more. It also called on the NFA to intensify its monitoring of the rice situation to make sure that government rice is delivered to dealers and retailers. Currently, the total rice inventory is good for 73 days of which 25 days’ supply is with government depositories. The remaining inventory is with the commercial traders and households. The country’s relatively low beginning inventory has also had an impact on the price of rice. The rainy period from July to September is also the lean season, limiting the supply of rice. The NPCC also suggested that the NFA allow companies to sell rice directly to their employees to ensure that rice will be available to every working man’s family. Prices for garlic, which have shot up dramatically, are expected to come down in the next two weeks, Domingo said. “I just assume that the problem with the rising cost of garlic is because of the delayed release of shipments due to truck ban. But now that the MMDA has lifted the ban in certain roads leading to Manila ports, I pretty guess all shipments will be released soon, including imported garlic,” said Domingo. About 70 percent of the country’s garlic supply is imported, mostly from Taiwan and China. Domingo said price increases for non-agricultural commodities were within the inflation rate. As early as May, several manufacturers had already submitted proposals for an increase in their SRP. The Trade and Industry Department is now reviewing proposals from meat canners to increase the price of canned meat. The Trade Department heads the NPCC with Domingo as its chairman. Also on Wednesday, farmers urged Catholic bishops to include the sudden rise in prices of rice and other commodities when they hold a plenary assembly in July. The Kilusang Magsasaka ng Pilipinas, through its chairman Rafael Mariano, said the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines should break its silence and speak up against the Aquino administration’s “anti-poor food policy.”

The peasants, workers, fishermen and the urban poor are the hardest hit by skyrocketing food prices due to rice over-importation, trade liberalization, the removal of regulation and control on prices, rice cartels and smuggling and the lack of subsidy to rice farmers, he said. “The Aquino government is deceiving the Filipino people. It does not have a concrete solution to the lingering food and hunger problem. Malacanang’s prediction of food stability by September is baseless and a mere political pacifier,” he said. He said the promised stabilization of prices in September was “a blatant lie being peddled by government spin doctors.” “Why do we have to wait until the harvest month of September before prices of rice would go down? Can’t the government adopt interventions even before September? The government is very much eager to arrest the three senators accused in the P10-billion pork barrel fund scam, and not to arrest the high prices of the staple food,” he told the Manila Standard. Mariano said the spike in rice prices started in July 2013 with a P2 to P4 increase, bringing the price of commercial rice from P32 a kilo to P34 or P36. Another wave of price increases occurred in September 2013, pegging prices between P38 and P40, he said. Commercial rice sells for P42 a kilo today. Mariano said the so-called lean months were just being used as an excuse. “Was there a rollback after the October harvest in 2013? No,” he said. NFA spokesman Rex Estoperez said the P2 price hike for rice was just temporary and that prices would return to normal in September. Agriculture officials in Pampanga, however, blamed the high prices there on farmers, saying they had raised their prices for palay. “It’s the farmers that enjoy the high price at least in these lean months,” said Department of Agriculture 3 (DA3) Director Andrew Villacorta. He said rice millers, dealers and buyers were affected by the high price of palay from farmers, which could explain the increase in rice prices. The Palace said the price spikes in commodities such as garlic might have been caused by an artificial shortage. Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma made the statement after the National Price Coordinating Council met Wednesday to discuss the food supply situation and concrete actions to protect the public from unreasonably high prices.

“Based on monitoring done by the Department of Agriculture, as of March this year, the supply of locally produced garlic has reached 8,308 metric tons, which, according to them, is more than adequate to meet the current levels of demand,” Coloma said. Imported garlic now sells at P300 per kilogram and local garlic at as much as P220 per kilogram. Two weeks ago a bulb of garlic sold for P5 but that increased to P14 over the weekend. With Rio N. Araja, Anna Leah Estrada and Jess Malabanan‐agri‐products‐price‐hikes‐till‐august‐1/                                      

Peasants blast rice cartel deal  

By Fred Villareal | Jun. 19, 2014 at 12:01am 

SAN FERNANDO CITY, Pampanga–A peasant group said on Wednesday rice prices will not go down after the harvest season in October unless landlords, who were in cahoots with rice cartels, allowed price cuts. Rafael Mariano, chairman of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), said consumers were at the mercy of big landlords and the rice cartel because of inability of the National Food Authority (NFA) to influence the market. “Big landlords and rice cartels dictate price movements. The so-called market forces is nothing but pure fiction,” Mariano said. The price of commercial rice has increased by P2 to P42 per kilo, which the NFA said was temporary and prices will normalize after the harvest in September. KMP said similar assurances in the past did not happen and the price of rice remained high. The government has also allowed imported rice to flood the market under its trade liberalization policy. Imported rice undersells locally produced rice at only P38 per kilo. Mariano called on presidential adviser on food security Francis Pangilinan to dismantle the rice cartels, scrap the rice importation policy and order an immediate roll back of prices. He said the announcement by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics that rice inventory was sufficient for 73 days was “highly questionable.” “The rice cartels are aware that rice in government bodegas are not enough and that the big bulk of the inventory includes those already in the local market and households,” Mariano said. “The rice situation will worsen when the government release into the local market 800,000 metric tons of imported rice now entering our ports. The rice will eventually fall into the hands of the rice cartel and will further push prices up,” he said.‐blast‐rice‐cartel‐deal/              

Farmers call for real land reform By Fred Villareal | Jun. 19, 2014 at 12:01am  CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga — Members of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson  (AMGL) here have encamped in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) office to pursue a  ‘genuine land reform law’.

Joseph Canlas, AMGL chairman and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) vice chairman vowed to continue “their planned series of protest actions to demand free land distribution and will intensify our land cultivation campaigns.” He said “there is no more sham land distribution program come June 30 with the failure of both Congress chambers to pass House Bill 4296 and Senate Bill 2188 that sought to extend the CARP (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program) by allowing the DAR to issue notices of coverage up to June 30, 2016”.In a phone interview, KMP chairman Rafael Mariano said “26 years of CARP-sponsored land grab and bloodshed in the countryside is enough”.He urged Congress, which resumes session in July, to “immediately tackle House Bill 252 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill that seeks to break landlord control and monopoly of lands through the nationalization and free distribution of lands to landless farmers. ” In Tarlac, Hacienda Luisita farmers on Tuesday said DAR has merely bolstered the control of the Cojuangco-Aquino Family.Rodger Amurao, secretary-general of the Farmworkers Agrarian Reform Movement (FARM), said the scheme espoused by DAR would only push farmers to debt, hunger and poverty. DAR Undersecretary Rosalina Bistoyong in an earlier statement said “the sugar blockfarming program would work best for beneficiaries of the CARP in Hacienda Luisita, as the program envisions small farmers working together for increased productivity while maintaining their individual ownership of CARP-awarded land ”But Amurao disagreed: “The DAR’s idea is putting undue pressure on the farmworkers whose right to receive the full package of support services is premised on the implementation of sugar-cane block farming.” FARM said the DAR’s bias for sugarcane has reduced the area to be redistributed by converting portions of Luisita to access roads around sugar-cane block farming model. Amurao said infrastructure has eaten up the 170-hectare hacienda and shrunk the actual size meant for beneficiaries, in violation of the Supreme Court decision. He said a farmer planting rice would net up to P60,000 a year versus a counterpart enroled in a sugar-block farm, who, according to a dyaroDAR report, will earn only P23,000 a year. Amurao claimed that sugar-block farming would only profit Central Azucarera de Tarlac, also owned by the Cojuangco-Aquino family.‐call‐for‐real‐land‐reform/   

Ward off this evil  

By Manila Standard Today | Jun. 19, 2014 at 12:01am 


In local folklore, garlic is used to ward off nocturnal elements like the aswang and manananggal. The mundane culinary ingredient is said to have powers so that hanging it by the window would guarantee that the inhabitants of a house would be shielded from the designs of the beast. But if the current prices of garlic persist, all of us would be at the mercy of these bloodthirsty creatures. Some of those in power believe that bothering about the prices of such commodities is beneath them, but the rest of us do care. Bawang is a fixture on the tables of the rich and the poor, whether they are serving Filipinos dishes or a version of other cuisine. In supermarkets and wet market stalls, garlic now costs as much as P300 per kilo, or P14 per head, in the past few weeks. Aside from garlic, rice and ginger prices are also rising. The reported causes are confusing. There is talk that local traders are controlling the supply. Some say that elsewhere in the world, garlic prices are rising, too. Earlier on, there were proposals to increase the importation of garlic to lower the price. Meanwhile, we are already importing rice. The Palace however does not seem moved about these developments. Instead it is preoccupied with the impending arrest of three opposition senators accused of pocketing millions in the pork barrel scam—while exonerating its allies accused of the same. The State of the Nation Address is coming soon, and there must be big names to add to the President’s bragging list. Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said that the prices of rice, for one, would soon stabilize when the “low season” passes and when rice imports start coming in.

These developments happen despite the appointment of a new Cabinet-level Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization, former Senator Francis Pangilinan. The Agriculture Secretary has stayed on, despite his incompetence and his involvement in the same scam that the President is crucifying his political foes for. These commodities may be lowly, but these are gut items than any Filipino household —whether or not they comprehend the evils caused by the Priority Development Assistance Fund and the Disbursement Acceleration Program—know intimately and consistently, as if they did not have to grapple with the high costs of power and water on a regular basis, as well. In the end, a different breed of blood suckers will make us all victims—if they haven’t already. This is the kind that goes around in expensive business suits or barong Tagalog.‐off‐this‐evil/                                    

Warning signs  

By Jojo Robles | Jun. 19, 2014 at 12:01am 

Perhaps President Noynoy Aquino doesn’t realize it, but allowing the prices of basic goods like rice, garlic, chicken and other goods to continue spiraling upwards could be catastrophic for his administration. In a time of flat wages and a moribund job market, runaway prices of everyday items could be worse than a severe but still largely localized disaster like Typhoon Yolanda and even more harmful to his once-resounding mandate than politically earthshaking events like the pork barrel scandal. Combine these with an ever-worsening power situation that is causing lengthening outages all over the country, even as electricity and fuel prices keep escalating, and a growing belief that peace and order has largely broken down and the recipe for a perfect political storm could already be in place. In the face of all the worsening trials and tribulations of daily life, Aquino could soon realize that all his talk of reform sounds as empty as the stomachs of an ever-growing number of Filipinos who are made poorer by the day. More politically astute administrations realized early on in their terms that the vast majority of the people who can barely make ends meet should be protected from price shocks and other such economically traumatic events, regardless of whether or not the government caused them through greed or incompetence. Emergency importations and make-work schemes, austerity programs, crackdowns on smugglers and hoarders and other such stop-gap measures are the usual reactions of previous governments who understand that civil unrest is just around the corner, when the poor start feeling that they are being pushed to the limit. But Aquino cannot seem to appreciate the correlation between economic hardship and political stability. There is no word from the President himself about these very real and pressing concerns, while his spokesmen merely tell us to grin and bear it, because all of these are merely “temporary,” like life itself. There is absolutely no official pronouncement whatsoever about concrete or even drastic immediate action to be taken, if only to reassure the people that the government still cares about what happens to the poor. The response of those currently in power is often to blame external factors like the fluctuations of world market prices (in the case of gasoline and other fuels), supposed flawed policies of previous administrations (in the case of power shortages) or simply no real response at all (in the case of the sudden, unconscionable price increases of rice and other foodstuffs).

Instead of quick and sustained action to alleviate the sufferings of the poor, what we continue to get from Aquino and his subalterns is the political circus that is the prosecution of those singled out for involvement in the pork barrel scam. Ironically, the non-stop reporting of developments in the cases filed against three senators—which is now already a purely judicial process—goes on with no more mention of all the others previously linked to Janet Lim Napoles and her clever get-rich-quick scheme. *** If Aquino really wanted to know what people outside of his closed circle of sycophantic Rasputins think, he’d go out of his palace and ask ordinary citizens if they cared more about his efforts to jail his political enemies and scapegoats than about buying rice, chicken and garlic at a lower price and paying less for electricity and gasoline. He will not need the unique genius of his budget secretary to figure out that quick and decisive action needs to be taken—and not against anyone in Congress, either. I’ve already concluded previously that Aquino seems almost genetically unpredisposed to considering the plight of the ordinary Filipinos. But if only for his own political survival, he should, for once, harness the power and the resources that the government he heads to make a difference in the lives of the poor. But Aquino, in case you still haven’t noticed, is never one to take quick action on anything. Remember that this is a President who would rather go on and on about how lengthy and timeconsuming the government procurement process is, in response to the problem of the breakdown of the air-conditioning system at the nation’s premiere airport; any other leader would simply have told the guy in charge to go out and fix the air-conditioning, if he doesn’t want to be fired on the spot. But the overly “warm” welcome that people who go to Manila’s airport receive is nothing compared to the boiling, seething anger of the people about the government’s inability to shield them from eminently tractable problems like escalating rice prices. And I think it is not an exaggeration to say that if this situation worsens, Aquino will see upheavals that would make all the previous protests against his government combined seem like regular holidays in the park. Of course, Aquino can choose to ignore all of the warning signs that are plain as day to anyone who has previously held his high office and carry on as before. I only hope he survives the first tangible manifestations of this growing anger amongst the populace and sees the error of his ways. It’s not too late to act. Or maybe, if Aquino decides to dawdle some more, perhaps it already is.‐signs/          

Change is a pie in the sky   By Emil Jurado | Jun. 19, 2014 at 12:01am 

The first, third and fifth divisions of the Sandiganbayan which will try the three opposition senators and their co-accused of plunder, complicity to commit a crime, graft and corruption and malversation of public funds, among others, have issued what is called in law “interlocutory orders” like hold departure orders.These orders are necessary to guarantee that the accused will be present during trial and to prevent their flight. The next stage is now the determination of probable cause or the existence of a well-founded belief that they indeed committed the crimes they are accused of. The determination of probable cause is not on the say-so of the prosecutor who files the information sheet, but on the personal judgment of the justices of the Sandiganbayan. Thus, to expect as some members of media think, that after the issuance of an HDO, the issuance of arrest warrants will come next, would be wrong. Lawyers of opposition Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla will surely not accept the information filed against them at face value. They will either contest the charge sheet as filed for being defective or without basis and file a motion to quash to dismiss the charges against them. Other lawyers will file charges of lack of jurisdiction in excess and grave abuse of discretion by prosecutors. In fact, Senator Enrile, who certainly knows his law and was a litigation lawyer before he joined government, has already filed a petition contesting the charges filed against him. I’m just talking here of the three opposition senators—all victims of selective justice by the Aquino administration. Note that aside from the three senators, there are also 35 other accused. Read the 1987 Constitution and find Section 13 on the Bill of Rights that no warrant of arrest shall be issued except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge or the justices in the case of the Sandiganbayan. This is so to check abuses of prosecutors, who indiscriminately file criminal charges. Santa Banana, this determination of probable cause alone can take days, if not months or years for each and every one of those charged before the issuance of warrants of arrest! This is the reason why there are still so many cases pending in the Sandiganbayan against past and present public officials charged with criminal acts. My gulay, with the existence of truckloads of documents constituting evidence against the 38 accused, and with the justices having to peruse each and every one of them, it could take a very, very long time! Note also that there is a petition by Janet Napoles to be granted immunity as a state witness. That, too, has to be resolved by the justices, not by the Justice Secretary Leila de Lima nor Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.

The Office of the President is now working on the State of the Nation Address of President Aquino to be delivered when Congress resumes its sessions next month. The President will likely boast about the Philippines becoming the “next economic tiger” of Asia. The forecast is GDP growth of 6.5 percent to 7 percent this year, after the unprecedented 7.2 percent growth last year. What he will not say, of course, is that the rising GDP of the country is fueled by the continuing remittances of overseas Filipino workers which in turn drive consumption and services. The President will also make big things of the Public-Private Partnership Program that can energize construction and infrastructure. He will also talk about the rise of FDIs or Foreign Direct Investments. What Mr. Aquino will be quiet about will be the rising incidence of poverty and joblessness. This renders the label “economic tiger’ practically meaningless. He will not say that the investments we are getting are crumbs compared to what our Asian neighbors are getting. Here we are, after all, clinging to our nationalistic economic policies just because the President does not want his friends to lose their monopolies. Oh yes, the President will invoke good governance. He will cite what happened to former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona—his poster girl and poster boy, respectively, for his anti-corruption stance. I have watched and listened to all the SONAs of President Aquino, notably his promise of change and his vow to go after thieves and crooks in government, past and present. But what’s happening, really? I can only cite the cases against Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. led by its former chairman Efraim Genuino, who was charged with multiple counts of graft and corruption of public funds last year. He along with several others allegedly realigned operating funds while they were in office. And, my gulay, who can forget Pagcor’s P25 million bill for coffee that President Aquino himself revealed, which prompted the incumbent Pagcor officials to file plunder and graft complaints against Genuino? And then we see the President defending his allies and supporters implicated in the pork barrel scam. Instead of his people taking the cudgels for the President, it’s the other way around. In short, the change President Aquino promised us has not come. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting dimmer and dimmer for the President.‐is‐a‐pie‐in‐the‐sky/      

Difficult times for Filipinos  

By Danilo Suarez | Jun. 19, 2014 at 12:01am 

During the last years of the Marcos administration, the incremental rise in the price of galunggong became the informal index by which Cory Aquino used to underline the country’s poverty rate and how bad the economy was doing at the time. If we are to apply this same principle to the current administration, the astronomical jump in the prices of basic commodities, like garlic, would sorely indicate how badly the country is being run. From the P80++/ kilo mark, the prices of garlic suddenly shot up to about P285/ kilo two weeks back. Just yesterday, rice millers in Nueva Ecija warned that the public should be ready for more increases in the prices of rice, which could go to as high as P45/kilo. These developments together with increases in the already high cost of other basic goods and services will put a bigger crunch on Juan dela Cruz. About 11 percent of the nation’s workers are classified under “extremely poor,” individuals living on less than $1.25 a day, or about P55 a day. The situation is made worse by the country’s high unemployment rate, which at 7.3 percent, is the highest compared to other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). This was disclosed in the latest Global Employment Trends 2014 report of the International Labor Organization (ILO) last May. This reflects the fact that employment under this administration has not expanded to keep up with the country’s growing labor force, making the 7.2-percent growth in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) last year, considered the second-fastest after China, far from inclusive. Adding salt on the wound is that the President remains clueless on why “the benefits of a strong economy” were eluding the country’s middle class and poor. As early as 2010, a National Competitiveness Council (NCC) study was released, calling for the creation of 15 million “quality” jobs until 2015. It similarly urged the government to immediately adopt a “sound industrial policy for job creation”. Corollary to this, ARANGKADA Philippines, a comprehensive advocacy paper by the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in the Philippines (JFC) to help the Philippine economy move twice as fast, forecast a 50-percent increase in the country’s labor force by 2030 to 52 million. This means that even with continued access to overseas job markets, the economy will need to attract substantial labor-intensive investments to create new domestic jobs and address the growing unemployment situation of the country.

In most of Southeast Asia, the unemployment rate has a downward trend—from an average of 6 percent between 2000 and 2008, to around a projected 4.5 percent in the next few years. Lamentably although the Philippines recorded over 6.8 percent growth in 2012 and 2013, job growth has been subdued and the unemployment rate remained at a high of 7 percent in both years. In other countries, high unemployment rates have been a recipe for rebellion and much social unrest. Dorothea Schmidt, senior employment expert in the ILO office in Cairo, has stated that the high unemployment rate of 23.4 per cent in 2010 was one of the major causes for the popular uprisings that rocked the Arab region during the time. We should really be thankful that Filipinos by nature are very patient and resilient as a people. However, this administration should not continue to test the people’s patience. Rather, it should take advantage of this fact to make a lasting legacy for future generations and to make life easier for Mr. Right 2016.‐times‐for‐filipinos/                                  

He’s not interested By Jojo Robles | Jun. 18, 2014 at 12:01am 

The price of rice has jumped, but not as much as the price of garlic, which has quintupled in a month. A four-year-old coconut infestation, known to the government from the get-go, is threatening to destroy the livelihood of millions in the countryside. You’d think having a hacendero in Malacañang would mean the government would be panicking about the sorry state of agriculture, for both planters and consumers alike. Instead, what we get is someone who, because he never had to buy rice and garlic or worry about farming and the farmers in his family’s employ his entire life, can’t be bothered with mundane stuff like that. There are several things that President Noynoy Aquino is passionate about, like guns, girls, fast cars and exacting vengeance from everyone who offended him, whether from a predecessor in office, a chief justice of the Supreme Court or even a student heckler. The plight of the ordinary consumer and farmer, which is so far removed from his slacker-rich boy personal experience, is not one of them. Don’t expect Aquino to be worried by things like the prices of basic commodities and the fate of millions of coconut farmers. He’s too busy shambling down the daang matuwid, giving speeches about reforms that only he can see, to care. *** What should interest Aquino, the inveterate chain-smoker, is how, 18 months since the passage of a new law increasing “sin” taxes on tobacco and liquor, none of the revenues collected seem to be going to the intended beneficiary, the health sector. Aquino should worry that increased smuggling of cigarettes and the tax losses that go with it is making a mockery out of the new excise tax law, Republic Act 10351.

Congress approved the law a year and a half ago on the stipulation that 85 percent of the new revenues would go to the health sector, while the remaining 15 percent would aid tobacco farmers who would be displaced by the expected drop in production due to increased taxes.

Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares has announced that collections in the form of tobacco and alcohol excise taxes already exceeded BIR’s revenue target for 2013. A total of P91.6 billion was generated in excise taxes for the first 11 months of 2013, exceeding the full year collection target of P85.86 billion, she said. But when questioned recently during a hearing of the Congressional Oversight Committee on tax reform, Health Secretary Enrique Ona and officials of Philhealth could not give a definite answer about how the increased taxes have helped the health sector. All those new taxes, apparently, have gone missing, just like the Malampaya funds. The other question that Aquino and lawmakers should be asking is whether the correct amount of excise tax payments from liquor and cigarette manufacturers are being collected. A study conducted by the International Tax and Investment Center and its partner, Oxford Economics, has noted the worsening incidence of the illicit tobacco trade in the country, which has led to cigarette tax revenue losses of P15.6 billion in 2013 alone. The independent study done by the ITIC and Oxford Economics revealed that legal domestic sales of cigarettes in the Philippines dropped almost 16 percent in 2013 from the previous year. The decline in legitimate sales, however, was offset by the alarming increase in illicit consumption, leading to a total decrease of only three percent in 2013, the study noted. The consumption of illegally traded, untaxed and smuggled cigarettes rose from 5.9 percent of total consumption or 6.4 billion cigarettes in 2012 to an estimated 18.1 percent of total consumption or 19.1 billion cigarettes in 2013, the study said. At the same time, the trade in counterfeit cigarettes also grew significantly: the study estimated an 800-percent hike in the consumption of fake cigarettes in the Philippines last year, which accounted for 1.8 percent of the total consumption or 1.8 billion cigarettes in 2013, as compared to 0.2 percent in the previous year. The study said revenues lost from the illicit tobacco trade, both representing excise and VAT, was estimated at P15.6 billion in 2013, which ITIC said corresponds to an increase of 497 percent from P2.6 billion in 2012. The losses are expected to worsen considering that the excise tax rate for low-end brands increases every year; the market share of low-end brands has already skyrocketed by 175 percent, from 8 percent in 2012 to 22 percent last year. Thus, in excise taxes alone, the government lost 15.3 percent of the potential total excise tax revenues from the illicit tobacco trade in 2013, when the BIR collected P70.4 billion based on the figures of the Senate Tax Study and Research Office. The BIR has dismissed the study as a mere “smear job� against the bureau. But P15.6 billion in revenue losses is no small amount for millions of marginalized Filipino families who could have benefited in terms of quality health care, and for the thousands of tobacco growers affected by the cigarette tax hikes. But of course, as Aquino puffs

away with abandon, secure in the knowledge that he is unaffected by price increases and that his health care is well provided for, perhaps it’s too optimistic to say that he cares either about funding Philhealth and rescuing tobacco farmers. As his people keep saying, Aquino has other priorities.‐s‐not‐interested/                                            

Rising prices, rice shortages and the El Niño June 18, 2014 11:17 pm 

by GIOVANNI TAPANG, Ph.D. As I handed my payment to the jeepney driver on my way to work, his remark to several of passengers (including me) of “Singkwenta pa, singkwenta pa” initially confused me. It dawned on me that he was asking us an additional of fifty centavos on top of the usual eight-peso fare instead of fifty more passengers. Jeepney rates have increased! After fumbling around for two twenty five centavos to add to my fare, I sat down thinking silently how prices have risen for the past few years. It is not just transport prices that have increased but also that of electricity, education and food. Rice prices have been steadily increasing since the start of the year. Looking back at the prices since the start of the Aquino government, regular milled rice prices have soared by at least 20 percent as of April this year when compared to that of July 2010 (according to data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics). Since mid-year last year, rice prices have increased by an average of 1.2 percent per month as compared to less than a tenth of a percent (0.04 %) for the same period a year before. Prices have reportedly increased recently by another 2 pesos compared to the said April prices (at 30 pesos per kilo, current prices of regular milled rice is 30 percent greater than that of 2010 prices). What is worrisome is the still undeclared (but expected by many) El Niño cycle this year. Despite the advent of the rainy season, an El Nino event is expected to reduce the amount of rainfall in general to the country. The El Niño that transpired more than a decade ago affected Western Luzon, Western Visayas, Northern Samar, and the southern part of Western Mindanao as they experienced less than 40 percent of normal rainfall. The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) estimated a decrease of 7.5 percent in agricultural growth during that event. Rice

and corn production decreased by almost 24.1percent and 26.6 percent, respectively and damaged 292,000 hectares of corn and rice farm lands in our country. Around 70 percent of the archipelago suffered from severe drought and the water supply crisis during that time left 27,000 hectares of rice and corn paddies severely damaged. This is equivalent to an estimated loss of 100,000 million metric tons (MMT) of rice and has affected 15,000 farmer households. Engr. Ronald Garcia, agricultural engineer at AGHAM—Advocates of Science and Technology for the People—estimates that at least 27 percent of rain-fed agricultural lands will be severely affected without irrigation systems in place. In 2000 to 2010, 73 percent or 314,115 MT of the production increase came from irrigated areas while only 27 percent or 113,815 MT came from non-irrigated areas. Productivity of rain-fed upland areas was reported to be declining by around 8000 tons per year since 2000. Garcia pointed out that we must brace ourselves from the possibility of rice production shortage once the worst of the dry spell hits the country. Prices of rice and corn and other agricultural products are expected to go up due to lower production. He added that a strategic irrigation action plan is one immediate measure that must be in place for the government to prepare for the El Niño event since water will be the outmost concern during that time. During the dry period, irrigation for food production is a critical farm infrastructure that should be prepared for and managed by the government. What makes things worse for the upcoming El Nino is that our dependence on rice imports severely puts our food security into question. A study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) by Dr. Roehlano Briones and Ivory Myka Galang blames the mid-2013 rice price increase to the reduction in imports by the government that caused a decrease in supply. Despite the Department of Agriculture’s Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP), which aimed to raise domestic rice production, the increase in palay production had not been enough to offset the reduction in imports. The country already imports 1.2 million tons in 2014 according to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) while the US Department of Agriculture estimates this to be more than 2 million tons. While the PIDS study points to more dependence on rice imports by lifting the quantitative restriction (QR) policy as a solution, a more basic solution would be to implement a thoroughgoing agrarian reform that would include land redistribution (unlike the CARPER system) to tillers, agricultural modernization and integration of the agricultural sector to a domestic industrial regime. Both of these are yet to be realized in our country. Garcia notes that it should be a lesson to the government that food security and selfsufficiency cannot be realized overnight unless there is necessary support for the farmers such as their own land, subsidies, policies to support to enhance agricultural

productivity and upgrade our post-harvest facilities and ways to ensure a market for their produce. The total wasted funds from the PDAF scam, the fertilizer fund scam, and misuse of the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund is a staggering P10.744 billion. This is more than 12 times than the allocation for El Niño contingencies. Such funds should be made available to farmers to allow them to cope with climate variability instead of going into the pockets of those enmeshed in the web of corruption that pervades our government today.‐prices‐rice‐shortages‐and‐the‐el‐nino/105173/                                      

Rice prices soar due to Aquino govt bungling June 17, 2014 10:29 pm 

by RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO The price of rice, the Filipino staple food, has soared to P42.50 per kilo, a level seen only during periods of crisis for global rice and other commodities. The P40/kilo level was last breached in 2008-2009 and earlier, in 1972-1973. But that was because of a global commodity crisis not only for rice, but all agricultural products. It was in turn caused by an oil price surge and the ensuing market panic. No government in the world would dare risk shortfalls in their country’s staple food, so they worsened the situation then by restricting their rice exports. In the present case, though, it is sheer bungling by the administration of President Aquino. He has claimed, and the yellow media has duly reported, that the Philippines has achieved self-sufficiency in rice. Aquino’s favorite punching bag, former President Arroyo saw rice prices increase in 2008-2009 because of the global commodity crisis. However, prices of the staple during President Arroyo’s term averaged P34.20 per kilo. The P42.50 per kilo of rice under Aquino today means a huge 25 percent increase. Aquino’s appointee, National Food Authority administrator Lito Banayo in 2011 had even claimed that the previous government had “foolishly” imported so much rice and made allegations of corruption that he couldn’t prove.

(Retail prices as adjusted to May 2014 prices) What Banayo of course didn’t mention—or couldn’t comprehend—was that the global rice crisis erupted starting late 2007, and without imports, the Philippine domestic market would have seen a massive shortage. Aquino’s officials were mesmerized into believing that rice production was better than reflected in statistics since rice prices were in fact stable, and even falling. What these dunces didn’t realize was that there was massive smuggling of rice from Vietnam and Thailand, that in one celebrated case, the rice shipment of an entire ship disappeared after docking in the Batangas port and leaving for Cebu. In December 2012, I wrote a column at the Philippine Daily Inquirer entitled, “Rice smuggling explodes under Aquino”, in which my analysis of the International Monetary Fund’s trade figures showed that smuggled rice from Thailand could have reached a staggering P16 billion in Aquino’s two years in office. Then Bureau of Customs head Ruffy Biazon denied my claims, with his successor though later filing a barrage of criminal charges against those he identified as the notorious rice smugglers. Aquino’s agriculture officials did not realize what would happen if the Bureau of Customs finally found their balls and started cracking down on rice smugglers. Naturally, the supply decreased and the idiots at the National Food Authority had not started negotiations for rice purchases. In the meantime, the US Department of Agriculture—known for its very accurate estimates of the supply of agricultural products around the world—had released its regular reports in which one table showed that contrary to Aquino’s claims of selfsufficiency, the Philippines would have to import 2 million tons this year. This is nearly double the 1.1 million metric tons imported last year and 600,000 more than the government announced it would import this year. International traders of course knew what that meant: it’s a suppliers’ market for the Philippines, and they could bid up their prices. As a result, the NFA has been struggling to order rice at such high prices and which can only result in the P42/kilo levels that we are seeing at the local market right now. The website (“oryza,” the Greek word for rice is the botanical term for rice) of the world’s rice market, in its article dated June 5, called the global industry’s attention to our quagmire: “A study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) found that a decline in official rice imports led to a surge in rice prices during 2013, not price manipulation by rice cartels. However, rice smuggling in the Philippines continues to run rampant thanks to the huge difference in global rice prices and local rice prices, and a reduction in official imports under the nation’s rice selfsufficiency efforts.”

While the Philippines tried to reduce imports in hopes of boosting local production, the result was smuggled rice imports AND higher prices. PIDS researchers said the average domestic prices of milled rice increased to P34.16 per kilogram (around $764 per ton) in December 2013, up about 15 percent from P29.81 per kilogram (around $664 per ton) in January 2013, based on data from the Philippine Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS). Over the same period, the Oryza White Rice Index fell about 5 percent from about $475 per ton FOB in January 2013 to about $450 per ton in December 2013. The National Food Authority (NFA) imported only 205,700 tons in 2013, down about 76 percent from about 843,700 tons imported in 2012 due to the rice “self-sufficiency program” initiated by the government. The program aimed at 100 percent self sufficiency in rice production in 2013. Reduced imports and natural calamities put further upward pressure on Philippine rice prices. Trade sources said unofficial imports reached a staggering 1 million tons in 2013. The surge in prices and rampant smuggling led the government to reconsider its decision on reducing rice imports in 2014. The NFA will be importing 800,000 tons of rice from Vietnam between May and August 2014 to maintain buffer stocks and control price hikes. However, Vietnam rice exporters are reluctant to fulfill the tender as Vietnam rice prices rose after the tender was announced. USDA estimated the Philippines will import around 2 million tons of rice in 2014, including unofficial imports, while the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimated it will import around 1.2 million tons.” The Aquino government’s handling of the rice industry is ineptness of a criminal magnitude. For the poorest, rice is basically what keeps them alive, and surveys show that it accounts for 30 to 50 percent of what they spend. Yet the bungling by Aquino and his officials have increased the cost of rice, for the average Filipino, by 20 percent from its average cost since 1972.‐prices‐soar‐due‐to‐aquino‐govt‐bungling/104974/            

The politics of rice June 18, 2014 11:13 pm 

by THELMA DUMPIT-MURILLO This week’s news was dominated by stories on the rise in prices of rice, garlic and sugar. And surely, it is one issue that may be used by some for political gain and to hurt the administration since rice, for one, is a commodity which affects not just the ordinary man on the street. It is a daily staple. Sabi nga kahit tuyo lang ang ulam basta masarap ang kanin. At the outset, the Trade department is not in charge of rice, garlic and sugar. This is an area under the jurisdiction of the Agriculture department. It may be unfair if not unjust to put the blame on DTI for the soar in prices. The DTI only takes care of processed food such as canned goods, bread, and milk among others. Of course, they cannot shirk responsibility from what is happening now from the point of view of the consumer since DTI chairs the National Price Coordinating Council so it is duty-bound to make sure that supply is available in the market at reasonable prices. An article I came across said “Rice is one of the most important commodities in the world. Rice is produced on every continent except Antarctica and in 113 countries. Around 2.5 billion people rely on rice as their main food source. In addition, rice is responsible for over 2 billion jobs in the world. Asia alone has over 200 million rice workers. For many of these people, working in the rice fields is the only life they have ever known. Politics and social factors are deeply intertwined with the rice industry. Millions of people around the world rely on rice. Since so many people depend on rice for food and jobs, governments have tried to maintain strict supervision over the rice trade in their countries. Governments want to balance the needs of both the producers and consumers in their country. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has developed many organizations to regulate and promote the trade of rice. In 1949, the International Rice Commission was created to supervise the production,

distribution, consumption, and conservation of rice. The Intergovernmental Group on Rice was created to regulate the trade of rice. “In 1994, the World Trade Organization created an Agreement on Agriculture which called for reduced government intervention and trade liberalization of rice on the world market. The developing countries followed the WTO’s guidelines and reduced their subsidies, which in turn increases the cost of production for the farmers. Since world rice prices are continually falling, and the price of production is increasing for farmers in developing countries, these farmers are unable to make profits off rice. In order to make profits, poor rice farmers need to add more value to the rice they produce. In response to these policies, groups such as G33, which includes more than 40 countries, have developed to fight for the right of developing countries to use tariffs and guarantee decent prices for their crops. “Many rice farmers in developing countries have been reduced to poverty. Haiti, a country that relies on rice production, is an example of an economy that greatly suffered from the effects of the rice trade. The country was forced to remove the tariffs in place to protect its own rice, and now most of the rice consumed in Haiti is produced by the United States. To protect developing countries, NGOs have been created. The East Asia Rice Working Group, for example, was created in an effort to exempt rice from trade liberalization. “The group of people that suffer the most from the politics of rice are women. In general, women complete the more labor-intensive work in the rice fields. During the Green Revolution, high-yielding rice was introduced into developing countries. Since this new rice came at a higher price, the men moved into the cities looking for more money. This left women with both the men’s and their own responsibilities in the rice field. At other times, when men know that they can make a lot of money in the rice fields, they will take over the women’s jobs in the field and leave them with no money. This is why when working to improve social conditions in the rice industry, it is especially important to pay special attention to the role of women. (” It has been reported that rich countries like Japan, the United States and the European Union provide heavy subsidies to their rice farmers up to $16 billion dollars in 2002. How much subsidy did we provide our farmers? After rice is taken from the field, it goes through five unique processes. These include cleaning, husking, separating, milling, and grading. In the cleaning stages, unwanted materials are removed from the rice grains. After cleaning, the rice is husked to remove the husk from the paddy. Through a ventilation process, brown rice is removed from the husks. Then, using gravitational pull and friction, a paddy separator separates the brown rice from the unhusked paddy. The unhusked paddy is once again husked. The rice is then milled, which removes the bran layer from brown rice. Finally, the rice is separated by type through a grader. The rice is packaged by grade and ready for

shipment. Planting rice is definitely not a joke so let’s not make jokers out of our farmers who make sure that we have rice on our tables each and every meal!‐politics‐of‐rice/105165/                                              

Posted on June 18, 2014 10:50:37 PM

Business sentiment improves; Philippines, India most upbeat  

SHANGHAI/NEW DELHI -- Business sentiment among Asia’s top companies hit its highest level in more than two years in the second quarter of 2014, rising sharply on supportive political changes around the region and positive signs from China, a ThomsonReuters/INSEAD survey showed. The ThomsonReuters/INSEAD Asia Business Sentiment Index jumped to 74 in the second quarter from 64 in the first, the highest reading since the start of 2012. A reading above 50 indicates an overall positive outlook. The bullish outlook comes despite worries over the global economy and rising costs. Of the 124 companies that responded to the poll, none reported a negative outlook for the first time in the survey’s history. The ThomsonReuters/INSEAD Asia Business Sentiment Index rose significantly to 74 in the second quarter compared to a 64 reading in the first quarter. A reading above 50 indicates an overall positive outlook. Sentiment among Southeast Asian businesses was mostly upbeat as Thailand recovered and with the exception of Malaysia, which slipped to 67 from 75 as rising costs and uncertain world economics continued to worry businesses in the region. The business outlook in Thailand turned positive after two quarters of negative sentiment as political turmoil in the country eased. The index rose to 91 from 41 last quarter -- the highest level since the first quarter of 2012 -- as 12 of 16 companies saw an increase in new orders and sales. Worries over political stability, among other things, remained. The Philippines, along with India, was the most optimistic with all 15 respondents showing a positive outlook which remained unchanged at 100. Two-thirds of respondents reported higher employment levels while almost all saw an increase in

new orders and sales. The sentiment index among companies in Singapore remained unchanged at 67 with two of six respondents showing a positive outlook and the rest remaining neutral. Only three of six companies said new orders and sales increased this quarter compared with eight of nine respondents last quarter. There were no responses from Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s biggest economy. Business confidence among companies in Australia recovered in the second quarter even as half the participants continued to worry about the global economy. Of the 12 respondents, which included Stockland Corp. and Oil Search, seven companies were positive while the rest remained neutral, an improvement over the last quarter where only two of seven companies were positive. Five companies said their new orders increased while the same number said they hired more people. Close to a third of all companies surveyed have increased employment levels in the second quarter. Sentiment in China rebounded as a third of companies polled reported a positive outlook and 50% of the participants saw an increase in new orders and sales in the second quarter. Last quarter all eight respondents held a neutral outlook. Nine of the 15 participants said global economic uncertainty was the top risk, a worry shared by more than 50% of 124 companies surveyed in the second quarter. A handful of Chinese firms are concerned about rising costs. The world’s second largest economy is struggling to recover from an economic slowdown, exacerbated by a deterioration in the property market, despite government stimulus. This has pulled the sentiment index down from its peak of 95 in the first quarter of 2011. Despite worries over the global economy, rising costs and volatility in exchange rates, Indian companies were the most optimistic with all 10 respondents reporting a positive outlook, a level last seen in the fourth quarter of 2012. Nine companies said new orders and sales increased in the second quarter while employment levels rose for 60% of the respondents. Three companies said delays in payments from customers had declined. A resounding election victory last month for pro-business leader Narendra Modi, with the mandate to steer the economy out of its current slump and create more jobs, has revived consumer confidence in Asia’s third largest economy. Business sentiment in Japan weakened slightly with the global economic environment primarily weighing on corporate outlook. Of the 16 respondents, which included Daiichi Sankyo Company Ltd.; Canon, Inc.; Seven & I Holdings and NTT DoCoMo, 14 were neutral on the outlook and two positive, similar to the previous

survey. While risks associated with exchange rate volatility abated in the second quarter, a handful of companies continued to worry about rising costs. Fewer companies reported an increase in new orders and employment levels over the last quarter. Global economic uncertainty weighed on sentiment at South Korean companies with the economy’s index falling to 50 in the second quarter from 67 last quarter. All 19 respondents said their outlook was neutral with the majority concerned about the global economy while a handful were worried about rising costs. While half the respondents said new orders and sales increased, only three reported higher employment. In the previous quarter a third of the companies had a positive outlook while the remaining six were neutral. Optimism returned to Taiwan’s sentiment index, reversing the decline in the March quarter. Two of the six respondents turned positive in their outlook compared with none in the last survey. Companies were concerned about the global economy, rising costs and exchange rate volatility. Two respondents lowered employment levels this quarter compared with steady levels last quarter while two companies reported an increase in orders, compared to just one in the previous quarter.;-Philippines,-India-most-upbeat&id=89429 m

Posted on June 18, 2014 08:29:08 PM

Peso returns to P44:$1 on Fed speculation  

THE PESO weakened to a six-week low against the dollar yesterday, reentering the P44-to-the-dollar territory as US inflation data sparked speculation the US Federal Reserve may inch closer to rate hikes. The peso closed at P44.12 per dollar, a steep fall of 0.57% or 25 centavos from its Tuesday close of P43.87 per dollar. Yesterday’s close also trimmed the peso’s yearto-date gains to just 0.62% from its end-2013 finish of P44.395 per dollar. The peso’s performance yesterday was its worst since it closed at P44.19 per dollar on May 8, before it rallied 54 centavos the next day on news of Standard & Poor’s upgrade of its ratings on Philippine sovereign debts. The peso began trading yesterday already weak at P44.02 to the dollar. It managed to reach P43.96 in earlier deals but closed at its low. The local currency’s losses came also ahead of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ policy meeting today. Investors sold the Philippine government bonds, lifting five- and ten-year yields. The peso, however, pared some of the losses on caution over possible intervention by the central bank to limit the currency’s slide. The central bank governor said the monetary authority is likely to raise its inflation forecasts for this year and 2015 during its Thursday policy meeting. “The peso depreciated on the back of the CPI data release in the US for the month of May which printed at 2.1% [year-on-year],” a trader interviewed by phone said. “From today’s price action, market seems to anticipate that the Fed may raise its policy rate sooner than later,” the trader added.

The peso tracked weaker Asian currencies. The dollar index last stood at 80.607, having climbed 0.2% on Tuesday. Against the yen, the greenback reached a one-week high of 102.245, while the euro retreated from a one-week peak hit on Tuesday to $1.3547. The US consumer price index rose 0.4%, double what economists had expected, raising the risk that a separate inflation gauge watched by the Fed also pushed higher in May. The data came as the Fed prepared to conclude a two-day meeting. MetisEtrade currency analyst Cherica Y. Vicente said in an email yesterday that “the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) will make a statement (late Wednesday, Washington time) on monetary policy decisions and economic conditions that influenced the decision.” “The FOMC economic projections for the next two years will also be released. Both the statement and the projections could greatly affect Peso-Dollar rates,” she added. “Almost all measures of US price pressure are rising, and the CPI shows the clear upswing,” said Emma Lawson, senior currency strategist at National Australia Bank in Sydney. “With the U.S. labour market improving, and the Fed’s other mandate being stable prices, these type of inflation pick-ups will make it difficult for the Fed to ignore,” she said. The Fed is widely expected to chop another $10 billion from its monthly bond purchases, but is considered unlikely to make other concrete policy moves. The focus will be on Fed Chair Janet L. Yellen’s press conference for any clues to longer-term plans for rates. “It’s been a while since Yellen’s last conference. So markets will be keen to know what she thinks of the economy after this inflation data,” said Takako Masai, executive officer at Shinsei Bank. A recent Reuters poll found a majority of Wall Street’s top bond firms don’t see the

Fed raising rates before the second half of next year. Any indication that rates might be lifted sooner could spark a rally in the U.S. dollar. “Our economics team expects the Fed will, in fact, deliver a more hawkish message,” analysts at BNP Paribas wrote in a note to clients. “The statement is likely to upgrade views on inflation and the labour market and the projections of future Fed funds rates are likely to show a creep higher relative to those presented in March,” they said. -- RLBA with a report from Reuters$1-on-Fed-speculation&id=89395

Posted on June 18, 2014 08:17:45 PM

BoJ is Japan’s biggest creditor  

TOKYO ‐‐ The Bank of Japan (BoJ) has become the single biggest holder of domestic  government bonds for the first time, data showed Wednesday, underscoring the scale of its  monetary easing program. The central bank has been aggressively buying Japanese government bonds (JGBs) since unveiling a stimulus scheme in April 2013 as part of Tokyo’s wider bid to kickstart the world’s number three economy. Data supplied by the central bank on Wednesday showed it had edged out the insurance sector to hold 201 trillion yen ($1.97 trillion) in JGBs, or 20.1% of the total, at the end of March.Insurers collectively held 19.3% of Japan’s outstanding debt. Pension funds and individuals were among the other holders of the country’s lowyielding government debt. The vast majority of the government’s debt is held domestically, which is why Japan has not faced the same kind of pressure from foreign creditors as Greece and other nations did at the height of the eurozone debt crisis two years ago. But the International Monetary Fund has led calls for Japan to tame its public debt - one of the world’s heaviest burdens at more than twice the size of the economy. Tokyo is grappling with the spiraling healthcare and social security costs in a rapidly aging nation. In a bid to boost Japan’s $1.26 trillion public pension fund -- the world’s biggest -Tokyo is eyeing a shift away from a bond-heavy portfolio into stocks and other riskier assets in search of higher returns. -- AFP Posted on June 17, 2014 08:51:33 PM

Treasury accepts slightly higher yields Posted on June 17, 2014 08:51:33 PM  

THE GOVERNMENT made a partial award of re-issued seven-year Treasury bonds at yesterday’s auction, saying its comfortable cash position allows it to reject bids it deemed too expensive. NATIONAL TREASURER Rosalia V. de Leon said the monetary policy decisions of central banks here and in the US will influence the government’s borrowing plan for the third quarter. -- BW FILE PHOTO The Bureau of the Treasury raised only P18.845 billion from the 2019 bonds, which have a remaining life of five years and five months. Yesterday’s borrowing was just over three-fourths of the P25 billion the government hoped to raise from the last bond sale for the quarter. Total tenders reached P48.945 billion. The debt papers were quoted at 3.511%, 51.4 basis points higher than the 2.997% they fetched when they were reissued at a November 19 auction. That yield was, however, still lower than the 3.857% coupon rate the papers fetched when they were originally issued, which was last November 20, 2012. At the secondary market yesterday, the seven-year bonds were quoted at 3.7% after midday trading. Had the Treasury made a full award, their average rate would have climbed 53.5 basis points to 3.532%. National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon said bond yields rose due to the market’s expectation of a hike in key interest rates when the central bank’s policy-setting Monetary Board meets tomorrow. “While the difference in rates -- had we done a full award -- was just a few basis points, we chose to just make a partial award at the slightly lower rate, also in line with the rates of done deals at the secondary market,” Ms. de Leon told reporters

after the auction. “We’re sitting on a mountain of cash,” she said. “This is a result of very good cash management, and at the same time debt management, so we’re spending less for interest payments.” The central bank’s overnight borrowing and lending rates are currently at record lows of 3.5% and 5.5%, respectively. These have been untouched since October 2012. Results of a BusinessWorld poll showed that eight out of 10 analysts see key interest rates staying at their current lows, with some saying the policy-setting body could again increase banks’ reserve ratios or deliver a 25-basis-point hike in special deposit account (SDA) rates. Sought for comment, a bond trader said in a phone interview yesterday: “The rate was within market expectations.” “The Treasury making a partial award at a rate lower than secondary market yields just shows the government’s strong cash position. After all, it has a very small deficit as of April,” the trader said. The national government’s budget gap significantly shrank to P3.27 billion at endApril, from the P29.675-billion deficit recorded twelve months prior. Meanwhile, responding to a question about the government’s third-quarter borrowing program, the national treasurer said the plan has yet to be firmed up. “We haven’t really decided yet, in terms of the volume and the tenors,” Ms. de Leon said. “What we’ll have to see first is, for one, the May [fiscal] numbers, in terms of the spending, for example, if it will accelerate, so we can know better what’s happening in terms of the utilization of the cash,” she explained. “We’ll also see the impact of the policy meeting of the MB (Monetary Board) and also the Fed (US Federal Reserve) decision this week. We’ll be guided by the decisions of the BSP and the Fed and how the market will react to those, as well.” She said those developments will help the Treasury decide if it will reduce its volume of offerings or what tenors of securities it will bid out.

“For example, if there’s no rate increase, then maybe we can take advantage of the environment to lock in lower rates, things like that... There would have to be key decisions to be made weighing the pros and cons of maintaining the same volume and, on the other hand, trying to deepen the Treasury’s liquidity,” Ms. de Leon said. --Bettina Faye V. Roc

Posted on June 18, 2014 10:48:07 PM By Daryll Edisonn D. Saclag,

UK eyes Philippines as trade hub: envoy THE PHILIPPINES is expected to become the United Kingdom’s (UK) gateway to the fast‐growing  Southeast Asian market as Britain seeks to boost its trade with emerging economies, British officials  yesterday said.  UK Trade Envoy to the Philippines George Freeman MP yesterday said, at the launch of the new British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (BCCP) office in Bonifacio Global City, that the UK would like to become less dependent on the European Union, of which it is a member, with regard to trade, after suffering heavily from the 2008 global financial crisis. “We needed to start to trade our way out of the crisis. You can’t borrow your way out of the debt crisis. We have £1.2 trillion in debt in Britain... I’ve been talking to the Prime Minister [David Cameron] and the Chancellor [George Osborne MP] about how we need to reorient our trade so we’re less dependent on the European Union,” Mr. Freeman said. “We have very strong trading relationship with Europe, but the European economy is not growing as fast, partly due to the demographics and partly because of the impact of the banking crisis,” he added. “But, we see the emerging economies around the world, of which the Philippines is one of the most important for us, as a major democratic powerhouse in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region.” Mr. Freeman, who is one of only 14 envoys appointed by the British Prime Minister to selected high-growth markets, said the UK sees a huge opportunity to invest in the Philippine agriculture, energy, medicine, professional services, digital economy, and luxury goods sectors. “As a mature economy, we [the UK] have a lot of partner companies which we think can bring a lot of value to this economy... That’s why we prioritize the Philippines as a major trading partner,” he noted. “The Philippines will become the entry market of the UK to the ASEAN region. We got three more trade missions coming. The Philippines is definitely in the zone right

now from the UK point of view,” he added. Last Tuesday, five energy firms from the UK arrived in the Philippines to check out business opportunities here: Lloyd’s Register Group Ltd., NiSoft UK Ltd., OST Energy Ltd., SgurrEnergy, and Wind Prospect. UK Trade & Investment Director Iain Mansfield has said trade missions are part of the British government’s efforts to double trade with the Philippines in the next five years. The goal was announced by UK Minister for Trade and Investment Lord Stephen Green of Hurstpierpoint during his first-ever official visit in Manila last year, said to signify the UK’s strong confidence in the Philippine economy. The new BCCP office will also facilitate the visit of more small and medium enterprises from the UK to the Philippines. “What we’re doing is shifting emphasis and giving opportunity to small and medium-sized companies who have not yet discovered the Philippines and guide them on how to do business here,” British Ambassador to Manila Asif Ahmad yesterday said at the same event. The UK is the largest European and fourth largest overall source of foreign direct investments in the Philippines. Trade of goods and services between the Philippines and the UK amounted to around £1.2 billion (around P82 billion) in 2012. Major British companies that are already in the Philippines include Unilever, Shell, Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp. Ltd., Standard Chartered Bank Ltd., Pru Life UK, GlaxoSmithKline, and AstraZeneca. A number of retail companies from the UK have also successfully set up franchises here, including Debenhams, Marks & Spencer, Speedo, Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Warehouse, Clarks Shoes, Burberry, Paul Smith, Ben Sherman, Hackett, Dunhill, Lee Cooper, and Mothercare. Jaguar Land Rover, Mini, Bentley, and Rolls Royce have also established distributorship operations in the country.

Posted on June 18, 2014 10:41:43 PM

NFA to ramp up rice releases after NPCC emergency meeting  

THE NATIONAL Food Authority (NFA) must increase and speed up rice releases to address any shortages, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) chief said yesterday. Workers carry a sack of rice at the National Food Authority warehouse in Quezon City in this July 27, 2010 photo. The agency is to boost rice releases to ease rising prices. -- AFP “Nag-issue ng resolution ang NPCC (National Price Coordinating Council) na nirerequest ang National Food Authority na mas lakihan ang kanilang releases ng rice at bilisan, para mabawasan kung meron mang kakulangan sa mercado ng bigas. (The NPCC issued a resolution requesting the National Food Authority to increase their releases of rice and to quicken them, to lessen whatever shortage there is in the market,)” DTI Secretary Gregory L. Domingo said at a press briefing yesterday. The NPCC as well as food sector representatives held an emergency meeting yesterday to address recent price hikes in basic necessities and prime commodities, including rice, sugar, and garlic. “Based on the feedback, may tumaas na presyo; medyo significant ‘yung increase ngsome agricultural products -- in particular ‘yung rice, at tsaka may iba, garlic, ... pero ‘yung pinaka -- I guess -concern talaga is the rice (Based on the feedback, some prices rose; somewhat significant were the prices of some agricultural products -- in particlar, rice, and some others, like garlic, ... but I guess the biggest concern was really rice,” Mr. Domingo said at the briefing, which followed the meeting at the Board of Investments (BoI) head office in Makati. Officials from the Department of Agriculture (DA) and sub-agencies Sugar

Regulatory Administration (SRA), National Food Authority (NFA), and the DAAgribusiness Marketing and Assistance Service (AMAS) were among those at the meeting, led by the DTI. Mr. Domingo noted that the NFA was also urged to intensify policing of potential abuse by dealers and to ensure that the agency’s rice reaches consumers. He also said that the council did not want to wait for prices to stop rising before falling, as some would predict, and explained that the suggested volume increase was around “double or triple” the present 4,000 tons per day released nationwide. He said that it should be “preferably higher” than 8,000 tons. Another “strong suggestion” in the talks, Mr. Domingo said, was that NFA sell directly to other government agencies and private corporations “for the use of their employees,” with well-milled rice still priced at P32 per kilogram versus the market price of some P40-42/kg. He added that besides the price of rice, those of chicken and pork were also discussed. He said that chicken prices should normalize in around two months and attributed pork price increases to higher global prices of the meat and a diarrhealike condition killing off piglets worldwide. “Sugar [prices] also went up, but sugar anyway had a low price before, below SRP (suggested retail price), so we haven’t much of a problem with sugar since it’s still within SRP,” he noted in Filipino. “It is better that we resolve it not through the price but through the supply: increase the supply in order to lower the price,” Mr. Domingo said, explaining that it was currently unadvisable to use SRPs at the moment, should a shortage in supply actually exist. DA-AMAS director Leandro H. Gazmin, meanwhile, said that they are still waiting for guidelines on the volume of garlic to be imported within the coming months. The National Garlic Action Team (NGAT) previously proposed to the DA that 46,000 metric tons of garlic be imported to address potentially low supplies of local garlic and to meet the annual per capita consumption rate of 1.43 kg. “Our investigation is still ongoing; there are allegations on those, but it’s still inconclusive,” Mr. Gazmin said, noting rumors that trader manipulation caused the spike in garlic prices.

For his part, DA Secretary Proceso J. Alcala expressed optimism in a press release yesterday that garlic prices will stabilize soon. Malacañang, meanwhile, said that the government is continuing its effort to ensure stable food supply and prices of basic commodities. Communications Secretary Herminio B. Coloma, Jr., told a press briefing yesterday that the DTI “is closely monitoring and conducting surveillance of basic food prices and will strictly enforce anti-profiteering measures on retail outlets”. On reported hoarding and similar activites that may have caused the price surges, Mr. Coloma said Malacañang has yet to verify the reports but noted that this is why the DTI is conducting monitoring and surveillance, “to be able to find out if the reported shortage is artificial or if there are manipulative practices that are being committed.” The Palace spokesman also noted that part of the responsibilities of the NPCC is to “stop profiteering at the retail level” and added that any such excessive practice will be dealt with and punished accordingly. DTI Consumer Protection Group Undersecretary Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba said in a separate statement that manufacturers last month submitted proposals for an increase in SRPs, with the DTI allowing a 0.6-8% increase in the SRPs of several evaporated, condensed, and powdered milk brands but refusing an SRP change for bottled water. Mr. Dimagiba noted that by July 1, the DTI will announce new SRPs, which Mr. Domingo said rose due to higher costs of the products’ raw materials such as skim and whole milk as well as increased demand for milk in China. -- AJMS with a report from I.C.C. Delavin

Posted on June 18, 2014 10:41:03 PM

ARMM farm-to-market road projects awarded  

ZAMBOANGA CITY ‐‐ The government has awarded contracts for several road projects in Maguindanao  and Sulu provinces to bring development to former conflict areas as part of the peace dividends of the  Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).  A Philippine soldier watches a truck loaded with passengers at a military check point in Datu Piang, Maguindanao, on Sept. 5, 2011. New farm-to-market roads linking the town to others in the province are expected to benefit local residents. -- AFP These projects were funded through the national government’s Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Pamana; Peaceful and Resilient Communities) program, spearheaded by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. The projects awarded to private contractors last Monday were the Langhub-Pantao Road in Patikul, Sulu, and farm-to-market roads in Maguindanao’s Barangay Calaan, Buldon; Barangay Kauran, Ampatuan; and Datu Piang town. Sulu and Maguindanao are part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which also includes Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi. A goal of the CAB is to replace the ARMM with the Bangsamoro political entity in 2016. ARMM Governor Mujiv S. Hataman and ARMM Agriculture Secretary Makmod D. Mending, Jr. awarded the contracts to representatives of four construction firms in a simple ceremony in this city. Mr. Mending said the Pamana road projects in Maguindanao will connect the communities -- whose residents are mostly members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front -- to trading centers. The MILF and the Government of the Philippines signed the CAB on March 27 in Malacañang after 17 years of negotiations. Mr. Hataman has repeatedly urged his constituents and other stakeholders to support the creation of the Bangsamoro government, which awaits the passage of a law and ratification by its would-be constituents. -- A.F. Arcilla

Posted on June 17, 2014 08:51:11 PM

Garlic production said enough  

AN AGRICULTURE official said yesterday that garlic production is enough, though the country still plans to import to meet demand. In an interview yesterday, Agriculture Undersecretary for Operations Emerson U. Palad said in Filipino that the production of garlic is enough, “maybe even more.” Mr. Palad said that garlic production this year was recorded at 8,308 metric tons in the January-March period of this year compared with 8,847 MT and 8,681 MT in the same months of 2013 and 2012, respectively. The expected local production for the current crop year would be higher than 10,000 MT, he said. According to Mr. Palad, the country’s yearly demand is some 130,000 MT. To meet this, it is likely that another importation of garlic will happen this year, besides the imports that arrived in April. He added that although garlic production is enough, imports are still needed as the country is yet to be self-sufficient in garlic production. There are 40-50 estimated importers, according to Mr. Palad. Prices have been said to rise up to P190-200 per kilogram for local varieties and P300/kg for imported garlic, far from the recorded average farmgate price of P102.44/kg in the first quarter. -- J.V.D. Cabuenas

DoJ drops raps vs Vietnam rice shipper Written by Benjamin B. Pulta Thursday, 19 June 2014 00:00   Justice officials have upheld the dismissal of smuggling charges against a freight forwarding company  accused of illegally importing rice from Vietnam.  In a four‐page resolution  by Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, the Department of Justice (DoJ)  affirmed a Sept. 25, 2013 order by the Task Force on Anti‐Smuggling clearing All System Logistics Inc.  (ASLI) of charges for violation of Section 3601, in relation to Section 101 of the Tariff and Customs Code  of the Philippines.  “We have carefully reviewed the records of the case and the pieces of evidence submitted by the parties  and we find the dismissal of the charges against the above‐named respondents in order,” said the DoJ in  its May 26, 2014 resolution.  “Hence there is no cogent reason to reverse, much less, to modify the said (September 2013) findings,  the same being supported by evidence and in accord with existing laws and jurisprudence,” it added.  Named in the charge sheet were ASLI officers Mary Lou Estrada, Antonio Estrada, Humprey Tumaneng,  Ana Myra Gonzales and Anthony Dexter Yu. The smuggling complaints was filed last year by the Bureau  of Customs.  In its latest ruling, the DoJ said there was no “convincing evidence” to show that the accused ASLI  officers “knowingly smuggled” Vietnam fragrant white rice from Mat Bien Maritime Company Limited  into the Philippines in March 2013.  The DoJ noted how ASLI as a consignee had “repeatedly warned” Mat Bien that its shipment would not  be allowed entry into the Philippines without the necessary importation permits.  “Upon our evaluation of the case record, it is apparent that prior to the arrival of the subject shipment 

in Philippine ports, or as early as 13 March 2013, respondents through their Cebu office categorically  advised Lucky Nguyen of Mat Bien Maritime Company Limited to have the carrier retain the shipment  on board and to return the same to Vietnam because the commodity is a ‘prohibited importation’ and  the same is considered ‘hot stuff,’” read the resolution.  The DoJ said ASLI’s Cebu office had repeatedly informed Mat Bien’s Lucky Nguyen — through a series of  e‐mail — why the rice shipments could not be unloaded into Philippine ports.  “We cannot infer from the foregoing circumstances the purported willful intent of the respondents to  fraudulently bring into the Philippines the prohibited merchandise,” the DoJ ruled.  The DoJ said ASLI’s efforts to refuse the entry of the shipments “negates respondents’ any active  participation” in the alleged rice smuggling. “What it shows is Mat Bien’s futile attempt to manipulate  and use respondents’ company to cover up its illegal transaction,” it added.

Presyo ng de-lata, gatas, asukal sumirit na Thursday, 19 June 2014 00:00 Written by  Eralyn Prado 

Walang magawa ang mga bumibili ng bigas sa Trabajo Market kundi patulan ang mataas nitong presyo na posibleng tumagal pa hanggang sa Agosto o Setyembre ayon sa NFA. (Jonas Sulit) 

Maging ang presyo at supply ng iba pang basic necessities at prime commodities ay binabantayan na rin ngayon ng Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Kaalinsunod na rin ito sa pagtataasan ng ilang pangunahing bilihin tulad ng bigas, asukal gayundin ang bawang at luya.

Kabilang sa basic necessities ay ang canned at powdered milk, asukal, at bottled water habang ang canned meat at bath soap ay kabilang naman sa prime commodities.

Ayon kay Undersecretary Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba, binabantayan na rin nila ang supply at presyo ng mga nabanggit na produkto dahil na rin sa natanggap nilang impormasyon na tumaas na rin ang presyo ng mga ito.

Paglilinaw ni Dimagiba, bagama’t may nakabinbin umanong kahilingan ang manufacturers ng mga nabanggit na produkto para sa bagong Suggested Retail Prices (SRPs), ito’y kasalukuyan pang pinag-aaralan kaya wala pang maaaring pagtaas sa presyo ng mga ito.

Dahil dito, ayon kay Dimagiba, nagbigay na sila ng kautusan sa kanilang mga regional at provincial offices upang alamin kung may pagtaas sa presyo ng mga nabanggit na produkto at hindi sumusunod sa umiiral na SRPs.

Malacañang addressing surge in prices of garlic Published : Thursday, June 19, 2014 00:00 Article Views : 103

THE government is conducting monitoring and surveillance to address the unreasonable increase in the prices of garlic. Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Sonny Coloma Jr. yesterday said the unusual increase in prices of garlic could have been “manipulated.” Coloma said the supply of locally-produced garlic was more than enough to meet the current levels of demand, until in past two weeks when the price of imported garlic has been hovering between P300 to P400 per kilo in Metro Manila. “That is why we are conducting monitoring and surveillance to be able to find out if the reported shortage is artificial or if there are manipulative practices that are being committed,” Coloma said. However, Coloma said the government has yet to find out any cases of hoarding of garlic. “Wala pa naman. Kaya nga nagpupulong ‘yung National Price Coordinating Council to be able to size up the situation based on the actual realities on the ground and to find out specific measures to protect the public from unreasonably high prices of basic goods,” Coloma said. “The Department of Trade and Industry is closely monitoring and conducting surveillance of basic food prices and will strictly enforce anti-profiteering measures on retail outlets,” he added. Coloma said those behind the artificial shortage of these commodities would be made accountable. Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala has urged the public to patronize the smaller yet more flavorful locally-produced “bawang.”

Alcala said more “bawang” caravans will be deployed to public markets as part of the government’s effort to counter the soaring prices of the commodity. The DA is considering a second and possibly third batch of garlic importation to bridge the supply gap. Government data showed that local production barely covered the demand, pegged at 1.43 kilos yearly for each Filipino. On a monthly basis, garlic consumption is about 11,700 tons. But according to the DA, local growers have so far produced just over 10,000 tons. Agriculture Undersecretary Emerson Palad said that in 2013, domestic output was recorded at just 8,848 tons, up 2 percent from the 8,681 tons in 2012.


2014 06 19 quedancor daily news monitor