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Ombudsman starts probe of ex-DA chief over ‘pork’ By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 24, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman has begun its preliminary investigation into the alleged irregular allocation of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of former agriculture secretary Arthur Yap and two former congressmen. Yap maintained his innocence even as he expressed hope the ombudsman will accord him due process. “I will face my accusers in the ombudsman’s preliminary proceedings,” Yap told The STAR. Charges of malversation of public funds and graft were recently filed against Yap and former lawmakers Rodolfo Antonino of Nueva Ecija and Anthony Miranda of Isabela before the antigraft agency’s preliminary investigation bureaus. The Office of the Ombudsman said Antonino and Yap would undergo investigation along with former National Agribusiness Corp. (NABCOR) officials Alan Javellana, Encarnita Cristina Munsod, Rhodora Mendoza and Maria Niñez Guanizo, president of Buhay Mo Mahal Ko Foundation Inc. (BMMKFI) Marilou Antonio and Carmelita Barredo, general manager of CC Barredo Publishing House. Miranda will be investigated along with Technology Resource Center (TRC) officials Antonio Ortiz, Dennis Cunanan, Marivic Jover, Belina Concepcion, Francisco Figura, Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana and Consuelo Lilian Reyes Espiritu as well as Domingo Mamauag and Edison Sabio of Aksyon Makamasa Foundation Inc. (AMFI). Cunanan, Jover, Concepcion, Lacsamana and Espiritu are also facing administrative charges for grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service. The first phase of the investigation of Antonino covers his P15-million PDAF to the Department of Agriculture (DA) for an Integrated Livelihood Project for the 4th district of Nueva Ecija under Special Allotment Order ROCS-07-02898.

The complaint alleged that the project is inexistent based on on-site validation. Investigation found that neither the BMMKFI nor Antonino’s office submitted a list of actual beneficiaries or a detailed liquidation report. Investigation showed that on Feb. 14, 2007 or even prior to the actual transfer of funds to the DA, Antonino requested Yap to transfer the funds to NABCOR even if NABCOR was not identified in the General Appropriations Act of 2007 as among the implementing agencies of PDAF. Records also show that Javellana approved the release of the first tranche of payment to BMMKFI without the signature of NABCOR accountant Roderica Bitancor, who was supposed to certify that the supporting documents are complete and proper. Projects for Isabela Around P21 million of Miranda’s PDAF was released to AMFI as the conduit NGO through TRC (then known as Technical Livelihood Research Center) as the implementing agency for livelihood programs and projects in the 4th district of Isabela. Records show that the funds were released under SARO ROCS-07-00608 (P10M) and ROCS07-004174 (P11M) on Jan. 15, 2007 and Feb. 23, 2007, respectively. On Feb. 8, 2007, Miranda allegedly requested that the first PDAF of P10 million be released to AMFI, of which he acted as incorporator, director and chairman based on AMFI’s General Information Sheet for 2007 at the Securities and Exchange Commission. On March 12, 2007, Miranda allegedly requested P11 million be released to AMFI, through an endorsement letter with an attached Work and Financial Plan and a Project Proposal that he endorsed. Ombudsman investigators said the memorandum of agreement between TRC and AMFI was filled with irregularities, citing lack of identified beneficiaries, standards for project implementation and project acceptance, project cost estimates and lump sum payment instead of a schedule of release of payment. The complaint also alleged that TRC failed to heed the COA circular on NGO accreditation, while AMFI failed to submit the required three-year financial statements to TRC that would have ensured that AMFI had a stable financial condition such that the fund assistance shall not be its sole source of funds, and had proven experience in fund management. SEC records show that AMFI sourced its funds only from government assistance, and did not comply with SEC reportorial requirements from 2007 to the present. Investigation also did not yield any record showing that AMFI implemented or completed the projects, despite demand by COA to liquidate as early as May 30, 2012. With Paolo Romero‐starts‐probe‐ex‐da‐chief‐over‐ pork 

Phl to implement rice import restrictions until 2017 ( | Updated June 23, 2014 - 9:00pm MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - The Philippines is expected to be allowed to retain import restrictions for rice until 2017, a senior government official said today. Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the Philippines has secured the nod of the Council for Trade in Goods of the World Trade Organization (WTO) for its request to again extend the implementation of quantitative restrictions (QR) on rice imports until 2017. The first five-year extension of the QR expired in 2012. Alcala said the formal approval of the WTO for the Philippines' bid to retain the import restriction may be granted in July. The QR has allowed the Philippines to limit the volume of rice which may enter the Philippines. Under the scheme, Manila slaps a tariff of 40 percent for rice entering within the so-called minimum access volume of (MAV) of 350,000 metric tons (MT). MAV refers to commodities that are allowed entry in the Philippines at a lower duty. In its bid to retain the import restriction, Alcala said the Philippines has been forced to allow a "minimal" increase in the MAV for rice as a concession. The government said earlier that the Philippines needs to continue implementing the QR to protect millions of Filipino rice farmers from "cheap" imports. The Philippines imports rice mostly from Vietnam and Thailand to beef up the stocks of staterun National Food Authority which has been mandated to stabilize rice prices.

Tug-of-war among flour millers FROM THE STANDS By Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 24, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 Not visible to the public eye is the tug-of-war between two groups of flour millers, and the end result could be shrunk, if not higher-priced pandesal and Pinoy tasty. The protagonists are the Philippine Association of Flour Millers (PAFMIL), composed of 14 milling companies on one hand, and on the other, 16 flour millers headed by Ernesto N. Chua of the Malabon Long Life Trading Co. and chair of the Philippine-Turkish Business Council. The Philippines does not grow wheat, so flour millers have to import wheat flour from foreign sources. PAFMIL gets most of its supply from the United States, and the Chua group from Turkey. The flour is processed by the local millers to make bread and other flour-based products including cakes, donuts and noodles. For a long time, PAFMIL had been complaining about Chua’s group “dumping” Turkish flour in the market. It seems it has won the first round of the “fight” when, based on its petition, the Department of Agriculture imposed provisional anti-dumping measures against eight Turkish flour importers. Currently, the Tariff Commission is investigating the anti-dumping charges to determine if higher tariff should be imposed on Turkish flour. “Dumping” is defined to happen when the domestic selling price of a commodity in its country of origin is higher than its export price. To prove that Turkish flour is being dumped in the country, PAFMIL officials said at a press meeting that in 2012, the average export price of quality flour worldwide was $470 per metric ton, while TF’s export price to the Philippines was only $349 per MT. The TF at $349, said the officials, is even cheaper than the quality wheat imported by local millers as raw material, and priced below that of wheat flour sold in Turkey for animal feeds. Opinion ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 In a handout, PAFMIL claimed that TF import grew by over 70 percent in 2012, and the projection is that the unabated dumping of TF would kill the local flour milling industry by 2017, along with the thousands of jobs for Filipinos it generated.

“In such a demise of the local flour industry, the Philippines would be held hostage to the pricing dictates of Turkey and other foreign flour exports. Turkish flour is cheap now, but wait when they have killed our own flour industry. They would have us by the neck then.” At a recent Bulong Pulungan sa Sofitel, Chua, accompanied by lawyer Kristine Alcantara of the Turkish Flour Yeast and Ingredients Promotion Group (TFYI), denied PAFMIL’s allegations of Turkish importers dumping Turkish flour in the country. Chua said Turkish flour is not dominating the local flour industry. About 65 percent of the market is dominated by “hard” flour, which is mostly sourced from the United States (and imported by the dominant millers) and used for bread and other baked products. The rest of the market (35 percent) is “soft” flour, used in noodles and other products, and that is what Turkey exports, said Chua. Most of the buyers of Turkish flour, he said, are small bakeries in rural areas, and makers of noodles that are sold in public markets. Alcantara said that “with its affordability, Turkish flour has allowed small and medium-scale businesses to operate and provide livelihood to hundreds of thousands of Filipinos.” Alcantara cited reasons why Turkey sells its flour at low prices. First, by tradition, Turkey has been in the wheat and wheat flour business for thousands of years, and the country has around 700 flour mills in operation. Second, with its high production capacity, Turkey is among the world’s largest producers and exporters of wheat and wheat flour. Three, Turkey’s strategic location gives it the advantage of getting competitive freight rates for eastbound cargo, shorter transit time and less storage fee, all of which bring about cost savings and efficiency for Turkish flour exporters, and fourth, Turkey utilizes well-developed flour milling machinery, which allows flour millers to minimize operating costs while enjoying a bigger scale of operation. Chua said when it comes to food security no country should make the mistake of relying on one source. “Therefore, the local industry and the imports industry should co-exist. We reject the fear scenarios that the imports will kill the local industry. The opposite, the imports will bring competition to the industry so the industry will be even stronger. The producers will feel the pressure to renovate and streamline their operations in a more efficient way.” Chua cited the case of Indonesia. When Turkey started exporting wheat flour to Indonesia in quantities, there were only eight flour mills in the country. Three mills were controlling around 90 percent of the market. As Turkish flour opened up the market, more and more mills emerged. Now there are 22 flour mills operating, and another four are under construction. On Turkish flour importers’ use of fumigation on their flour, Alcantara said, “Fumigation is done on almost every agriculture product for pest control, not because the produce is toxic or unhealthy but to prevent it from getting infested with weevils. We are sure that PAFMIL

member mills must be performing fumigation in their facilities at least every three months since this is a hygienic requirement in every modern flour mill around te world.” By the end of this month, we will know if the Tariff Commission is going to slap higher taxes on Turkish flour. If, as Chua said, the price of flour-based products could go up on account of the provisional imposition of duties on eight of the Turkish flour importers, Trade and Industry Undersecretary Vic Dimagiba has stated that the imposition of additional anti-dumping duties on Turkish flour will not have any effect on current prices. Bakers have given assurances that they will not raise their prices, with the price of Pinoy Tasty to remain at P37 while pandesal will be at P22.50. We shall know at the end of this month what fate lies ahead for Turkish flour and the breadeating consumers. *



Lina Castillo-Sarmiento, chair of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board announced the provincial caravans for Claims Intake. She encourages everyone to apply for both Reparation and Recognition as victims of human rights violation during martial law, or just Recognition. The claimants need to produce the affidavit of their story and documents supporting their alleged human rights violations. The venues for claims application are the following: Daily during working days at the NCR: Virata Hall, E. Jacinto St. UP Diliman Quezon City: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. until Nov. 10. Eastern Visayas: Leyte Sports Development Center, Sta. Cruz St., Tacloban City on June 23-24. Central Visayas: Cebu City Social Hall, City Hall, June 26-27. Western Visayas, the venues are Provincial Capitol, Iloilo City, June 30-July 1. People’s House NKK Annex Building, formerly New Government Center, Bacolod City (the mayor has made the arrangement for this venue), July 3-4. *




DA readies new rules on garlic importation By Ronnel W. Domingo Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:22 am | Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

The Department of Agriculture is coming up with import rules that will not be prone to abuse while enabling farmers to benefit from the garlic trade amid an apparent shortage. MANILA, Philippines–The Department of Agriculture (DA) is coming up with import rules that will not be prone to abuse while enabling farmers to benefit from the garlic trade amid an apparent shortage. “We want to make sure that what happened to rice import permits will not be repeated with garlic,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said in a briefing on Monday. He was referring to the abuse of the government policy that encouraged farmers’ cooperatives to apply for permits to import milled rice. A series of hearings at the Senate revealed that deep-pocketed financiers funded farmers’ groups that would otherwise have not qualified to bring in shipments. This practice was linked to the practices of unscrupulous traders, as well as to rice smuggling. “We want to require farmers groups that will apply for garlic import permits to show proof of financial capacity (to engage in trade),” Alcala said. “This is an additional requirement that we also plan to impose on traders themselves,” he added. The DA is considering a second—and possibly third—batch of garlic importation to bridge a supply gap that has helped retail prices to spike to more than P300 a kilo. According to the office of the DA’s high-value crops development program, the department is considering a proposal from the National Garlic Action Team, which has government and private representatives, for the approval of 932 applications for permits to import garlic.

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Farmers’ group seeks ouster of Davao-based judge Tetch Torres-TupasPhilippine Daily Inquirer 7:37 pm | Monday, June 23rd, 2014 MANILA, Philippines – A complaint has been filed with the Supreme Court seeking to dismiss a Davao-based judge for issuing a restraining order against the Bureau of Customs from seizing 91,800 bags of imported white rice. The case stemmed after Joseph Mangupag Ngo filed before the Davao court a petition to stop the BOC from seizing his rice importation, saying the government cannot impose quantitative restrictions on the importation of rice because of the expiration of the Special Treatment for Rice Importation. The 91,800 bags of imported rice were bought from Starcraft International Trading Corp. with alleged links to big-time smuggler Davidson Bangayan. In a 24-page complaint filed at the Supreme Court Monday, the Alyansa Agrikultura and the National Rice Farmers Council through Ernesto Ordonez and Jaime Tadeo said Davao Regional Trial Court Branch 16 Judge Emmanuel Carpio exhibited “gross ignorance of the law.” The group said the court proceeded in hearing the case without representatives from the government. They added that the government was also not given the opportunity to present its evidence. Complainants added that Ngo has no authority to invoke the World Trade Organization-General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (WTO-GATT). The complainant said Carpio’s errors are proof of lack of competency, which a member of the judiciary should possess, they said. “For these severe infractions, the supreme penalty of dismissal is but an appropriate sanction,” the petition read. “Judges should never forget what the Court categorically declared in Mison v. Natividad (213 SCRA 734, 742 [1992] that “[b]y express provision of law, amply supported by well-settled jurisprudence, the Collector of Customs has exclusive jurisdiction over seizure and forfeiture proceedings, and regular courts cannot interfere with his exercise thereof or stifle or put it to naught,” the petition stated.

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DOH: El Niño no assurance of fewer dengue cases By Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 24, 2014 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - While the El Niño phenomenon is expected to hit the country next month, this is not an assurance that there will be fewer dengue cases this year, the Department of Health (DOH) said yesterday. DOH spokesman Lyndon Lee Suy said the public should eliminate all possible breeding sites of mosquitoes and strictly observe this measure even during El Niño. Dengue is spread by the bite of female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes which breed in clean but stagnant water. “When there is drought or during dry season, we have the tendency to store water in our homes. We should know that keeping water in containers that are not covered could also lead to dengue outbreaks,” Lee Suy explained. The public, he added, must keep their guard up against dengue because it is now considered “an all year-round disease.” Records of the DOH’s National Epidemiology Center showed that there were 23,867 dengue cases from Jan. 1 to May 31, 2014. This is 50.98 percent lower compared to the 48,686 cases registered during the same period in 2013. Central Luzon accounted for most cases at 10.21 percent, followed by Calabarzon at 10.14 percent, Eastern Visayas at 9.93 percent, SoCCSKSarGen at 9.48 percent and the National Capitol Region at 8.55 percent. There were 99 deaths. “While we see a decline in dengue cases, we don’t see any reason why we should be complacent. Now that it’s rainy season, we could see dengue cases coming in. Not unless we do our share of responsibility,” Lee Suy said. He also cautioned that the trend could easily be reversed when the public becomes complacent about the mosquito-borne disease.


CHEd to seek P10B transition fund for K-12 program Jeannette I. AndradePhilippine Daily Inquirer 6:10 pm | Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Photo courtesy of CHEd MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) will seek at least P10 billion to subsidize losses that would be incurred from “transition pains” of the K-12 program. In a press conference Monday at the CHED, executive director and lawyer Julito Vitriolo said that the agency would present the proposal for a “stabilization fund” at Tuesday’s hearing in Congress budgeting, which would hopefully be approved and released by the Departments of Finance and of Budget and Management. The fund could also address the expected displacement of college teachers caused by the implementation of the new General Education Curriculum (GEC), which removes several courses in English, Math, Natural Sciences, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Vitriolo said that at least P10 billion was the initial estimated amount needed to subsidize the tuition differential because there will be no college enrollments when grades 11 and 12 (which comprise senior high school) take effect in 2016. The fund could also, he said, shoulder salaries of teachers and address the displacement of some educators. “This (P10 billion) is a small amount compared to the projected revenue losses of the private sector, which could amount to hundreds of billions of pesos,” he pointed out. In addressing the concern over college professors who could be displaced by the new GEC because of the K-12 implementation, CHED chair Patricia Licuanan did not deny the displacement but assured that possible solutions have been studied. “We understand their anxiety. This is not something that is easy and we do not have easy answers. We are studying this very carefully. We have a technical working group and the ideas coming out are radical but doable,” she said. : Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Ex-DA chief Arthur Yap, 2 ex-solons face 'pork' raps By Camille Diola ( | Updated June 23, 2014 - 3:18pm

(From left) Former Agriculture Secretary and incumbent Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap, former Isabela Rep. Anthony Miranda and former Nueva Ecija Rep. Rodolfo Antonino. MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman has filed formal charges against former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, former Nueva Ecija Rep. Rodolfo Antonino and former Isabela Rep. Anthony Miranda for malversation of public funds in connection with the pork barrel fund scam. The Ombudsman said on Monday that Yap and Antonino, as well National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) officials Alan Javellana, Encarnita Monsod, Rhodore Mendoza and Maria Niùez Guanizo will undergo preliminary investigation over alleged irregular allocation and use of the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF). Buhay Mo Mahal Ko Foundation president Marilou Antonio and CC Barredo Publishing House general manager Carmelita Barredo are also facing charges of malversation. Both organizations are not linked to pork barrel scam operator Janet Lim Napoles. Antonino is accused of directing P14.5 million of his PDAF allocation to a "ghost" livelihood project in the 4th district of Nueva Ecija in 2007 through NABCOR, upon the approval of Yap. "The complaint alleges that the project is inexistent based on on-site validation showing that a number of concerned city and municipal officials attested that their respective local government units did not receive the livelihood sets nor were there records relative thereto," the Ombudsman said in a statement. Neither the NGO nor Antonino's office submitted a liquidation report or list of actual beneficiaries of the 7.275 livelihood kits purchased from CC Barredo. "To date, the COA Report categorized the funds as 'unliquidated in full,'" the Ombudsman said.

Own NGO as PDAF recipient In a separate malversation complaint, Miranda and nine others are also accused for PDAF anomalies. Miranda himself was allegedly the incorporator of beneficiary non-government organization Aksyon Makamasa Foundation, Inc. which received P21 million of the lawmaker's PDAF through the Technology Resource Center (TRC) as implementing agency. "Investigation shows that on February 8, 2007, Rep. Miranda requested that the first PDAF of P10 million be released to AMFI, of which Rep. Miranda acted as incorporator, director and chairman," the Ombudsman. Included in the charge sheet are TRC officials Antonio Ortiz, Dennis Cunanan, Marivic Jover, Belina Concepcion, Francisco Figura, Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana and Consuelo Lilian Reyes Espiritu as well as Domingo Mamauag and Edison Sabio of Aksyon Makamasa. Ombusdman investigators also filed administrative charges for grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service against incumbent officials Cunanan, Jover, Concepcion, Lacsamana and Espiritu. Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered a fact-finding investigation following media reports on the PDAF embezzlement and based further probe on the Commission on Audit Special Report. The scam involved a total of P6.156 billion worth of PDAF released from 2007 to 2009 by various implementing agencies to 82 non-government organizations, some of which were identified with Napoles. Both NABCOR and TRC were identified as lead implemening agencies in the scam purportedly carried out by Napoles in earlier plunder and graft cases filed by the Office of the Ombudsman before the Sandiganbayan. Accused in the Napoles-linked scam are three senators and about 50 others including the same officials from the conduit agencies.‐da‐chief‐arthur‐yap‐2‐ex‐solons‐face‐ pork‐raps         

Jinggoy surrenders to CIDG SEARCH FOR TRUTH By Ernesto M. Maceda (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 24, 2014 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 The Fifth Division of the Sandiganbayan yesterday issued the warrant of arrest for Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, after making a finding of probable cause. Senator Estrada surrendered to Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief Director General Benjamin Magalong, accompanied by his parents Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada and Senator Loi Estrada, his wife Precy and their children, sister Jackie and brother Jude. Earlier, Senator Jinggoy voluntarily surrendered to his father, former president and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada who is a person in authority. Formally, Mayor Erap turned over his son to Gen. Magalong. The legal team of Jinggoy, led by lawyer Jose Flaminiano, have filed a petition for bail. Gigi Reyes also indicated she was going to surrender once the warrant of arrest is issued for her. Senator Juan Ponce Enrile has not made any statements lately. His lawyer Estelito Mendoza has expressed confidence on his motion for lack of probable cause that would be granted by the Third Division. Where’s the 3rd batch? Opinion ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 Another two weeks have passed and the Department of Justice again failed to comply with its promise to file a third batch of charges in connection with the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam. People are waiting for a third batch or even more to see if allies of the President are included to dispute charges of selective justice process. Also awaited are the Commission on Audit (COA) and Department of Justice (DOJ) findings related to the misuse of the Malampaya Fund. One month deadline

National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Carmelo Valmoria gave Metro Manila’s 38 police station commanders one month to bring down the crime rate. Valmoria said those who fail to reduce the crime rate will be replaced by hard-working police officials. Deputy Director General Felipe Rojas Jr. directed the NCRPO to intensify the campaign against partisan armed groups, stolen motorcycles and loose firearms. On the other hand, Secretary Mar Roxas announced that there will be a massive anti-crime effort through the so-called ‘Operation Lambat,’ ‘Oplan Katok,’ and round-the-clock checkpoints in Metro Manila. He also said the checkpoints will be manned by policemen in uniform, with an official PNP vehicle to prevent the possibility of a ‘bantay-salakay’ involving some rogues in blue. Valmoria said he will establish the 76 checkpoints in different parts of the metropolis 24/7 in the next few days. Then Camp Crame will thoroughly monitor the deployment and conduct of these checkpoints. The Aquino administration expects to see positive results in the coming weeks. Let’s wait and see. Philippines in Tier 2 The United States (US) Department of State reported that the Philippines remained at Tier 2 level of the Human Trafficking Awareness (HTA) Index. This means that the Aquino administration is not doing enough to catch the traffickers, especially vulnerable are the poor families in Mindanao and the Visayas. The State Department reported that trafficking of Filipinos continue in Asia, the Middle East, and lately even in Europe. The report also found that Philippine law enforcers’ complicity plus corruption at all levels of government, including in diplomatic missions abroad, undermined efforts to fight the problem. The problem is serious in countries like Malaysia and Singapore where no visas are required. Lately, a rise in recruitment of women for prostitution has been seen in the Yolanda-damaged areas. Police authorities should exert more effort to rescue minors working in bars and videoke joints in Metro Manila. Prices continue to rise

Prices of pork and chicken have also risen. The price of pork belly in markets ranges at P180 to P220 per kilo. Lean meat was sold at P180 to P200 while fully dressed chicken was sold at P125 to P150 a kilo as monitored by the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS). But why is the price of milk and cooking oil also up? It is clear that the traders are taking advantage of the present trends of higher prices, starting with rice, garlic, ginger and vegetables. Agriculture Undersecretary for Livestock Operations Jose Reaño said “traders and retailers with opportunistic attitudes are taking advantage of the spiraling price of other commodities.” He also added that he does not see any reason why the prices of chicken and pork continue to rise since both supply and farm-gate prices for chicken and pork have been relatively stable. All the government has done is to warn hoarders. Imported garlic which is smuggled should be confiscated from Divisoria and other markets. The administration should seriously consider reducing the price of National Food Authority (NFA) rice by P2 to P25 and P30. The latest catch of 40,000 metric tons of garlic at the Batangas port should be auctioned off. It makes no sense to destroy them. Distribute part of confiscated garlic to jails, hospitals, orphanages, and other charitable institutions. Tidbits: Condolence to Philippine Gaming Corp. chairman Cristino “Bong” Naguiat Jr. and his siblings, for the passing away of their father. Tourism arrivals for January to March have increased by a low 3.5% compared to last year. Crimes against tourists in the Ermita and Malate areas are continuing. The President rejected the nomination of Nora Aunor to be a National Artist. Six persons were approved, namely Alice Reyes for dance, Francisco V. Coching for visual arts, Cirilo Bautista for literature, Francisco F. Feliciano and Ramon Santos for music, and Jose Maria V. Zaragoza for architecture. Special greetings to avid readers Petrona B. Lim, German Moreno, Ricky Recto, Jay Flaminiano, and Ed Serapio.

Rice import controls to stay until ’17 By Ronnel W. Domingo Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:07 am | Tuesday, June 24th, 2014 The Philippines has practically secured an extension of rice import barriers until 2017 as all countries with interest in accessing the local market have assented, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said Monday. “Our trade (negotiating) panel was successful in Geneva,” Alcala said, referring to the home city of the World Trade Organization or WTO. “The WTO’s Council for Trade in Goods will endorse this (extension of quantitative restrictions on Philippine importation of milled rice) for approval when the WTO general council convenes in July,” he added. The WTO’s highest-level decision-making body is scheduled to meet on July 24-25.

The agriculture chief said that this next step was “merely formality” and that the Philippines could now, with authority, continue observing the controlled entry of imported rice into the domestic market. “But this is just a temporary relief for our rice farmers,” Alcala said. “They must take advantage of the (remaining three and a half years) to make themselves competitive.��� Alcala said Filipino farmers spend about P11 to produce a kilo of palay. Cost of production is pegged at an equivalent of P8.40 a kilo in Thailand and P5.60 in Vietnam.

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Arroyo’s ex-Agriculture chief Yap, other execs to undergo probe over PDAF misuse Tetch 3:01 pm | Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—The former Agriculture Secretary of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and two former lawmakers will face formal investigation before the Office of the Ombudsman for malversation and violation of the anti-graft law in connection with the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). To undergo formal preliminary investigation are: -former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap; -former Nueva Ecija Representative Rodolfo Antonio and - former Isabela Representative Anthony Miranda Along with the three are former National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor) officials Alan Javellana, Encarnita Cristina Munsod, Rhodora Mendoza and Maria Niñez Guanizo as well as Marilou Antonio, President of Buhay Mo Mahal Ko Foundation, Inc. (BMMKFI, a non-Napoles NGO), and Carmelita Barredo, General Manager of CC Barredo Publishing House (CC Barredo); Technology Resource Center (TRC) officials Antonio Ortiz, Dennis Cunanan, Marivic Jover, Belina Concepcion, Francisco Figura, Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, and Consuelo Lilian Reyes Espiritu as well as Domingo Mamauag and Edison Sabio of Aksyon Makamasa Foundation, Inc. (AMFI). Technology Resource Center (TRC) officials Antonio Ortiz, Dennis Cunanan, Marivic Jover, Belina Concepcion, Francisco Figura, Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, and Consuelo Lilian Reyes Espiritu as well as Domingo Mamauag and Edison Sabio of Aksyon Makamasa Foundation, Inc. (AMFI).

Initial investigation by the Ombudsman showed that Antonio allowed the release of his P15 million PDAF to Nabcor through Yap even if the corporation was not identified in the 2007 General Appropriations Act. Then, a Memorandum of Agreement was signed by Yap and Javellana for the implementation of Antonio’s project worth P14.550 million. Javellana then approved the release of the first tranche of payment to BMMKFI without the signature of Nabcor accountant Roderica Bitancor. BMMKFI bought sets of livelihood kits which were distributed to several towns in Nueva Ecija. However, after an on-site validation, no city or municipal official received the livelihood sets. On a separate case, Miranda allegedly released his P21 million PDAF to AMFI as conduit NGO through TRC. Upon investigation by the Ombudsman’s fact finding team, the project lacks beneficiaries, does not have standards for project implementation and project acceptance, lack of project cost estimates, one lump sum payment instead of a schedule of release of payment.

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Magat Dam nears critical level By Charlie Lagasca (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 24, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The water level in Magat Dam, one of Luzon’s major power and irrigation sources, dropped further yesterday, prompting authorities to limit irrigation supply to some of its service areas. As of noon yesterday, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said the water level of the dam’s reservoir along the Isabela-Ifugao boundary dropped to 162.91 meters or less than three meters above the dam’s minimum operational level to generate power. NIA engineer Saturnino Tenedor, Magat’s instrumentation and forecasting officer, said the dam is at its critical level when it hits the 160-meter mark. Authorities said the dam’s irrigation facility would be temporarily shut down if its water level reaches below 150 meters. Magat Dam’s latest power shutdown occurred in March 2010, when its water level dropped to 152.7 meters. It recorded its all-time low of 149 meters in July 1991. Besides generating at least 380 megawatts of power for the Luzon grid, the second biggest power provider among hydro-dams in Luzon, the dam provides irrigation to at least 80,000 hectares of farmlands in Isabela and parts of Cagayan and Quirino. Engineer Mariano Dancel, operations manager of NIA-Magat River Integrated Irrigation System, called on farmers in Isabela – one the country’s leading rice and corn-producing provinces – to use their irrigation supply wisely amid the dam’s limited water reserves. The SN Aboitiz Power (SNAP), which owns and operates the dam’s power facility, said the dam is still capable of generating power although at a reduced level due to the continued drop of its water reserve. In case the dam’s water reserves reach its critical level, priority will be given to irrigation supply over power generation, said Mike Hosillos, SNAP corporate communications officer.‐dam‐nears‐critical‐level 

Isabela bioethanol plant lays off 1,200 workers By Villamor Visaya Jr. Inquirer Northern Luzon 8:56 am | Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

SAN MARIANO, Philippines—About 1,200 workers of a bioethanol producer in San Mariano town, Isabela province, will be laid off starting next month as the harvest season for sugarcane ends in Isabela province. “We want to be clear. They are seasonal workers and the company would be losing money if it continues to give them salaries for doing nothing,” said Greg Garcia, corporate affairs manager and administrative officer of the Green Future Innovations Inc. (GFII) in Santa Filomena village here. The firm would let go of farm and utility workers and security guards starting July 12, but would rehire workers who pass its screening process once more by October, the start of the next season, Garcia said. The firm has 378 regular workers and 1,198 seasonal workers, according to Garcia. In its website, GFII said it has been maintaining sugarcane growing contracts with 4,000 farm families in Isabela. On July 18, at least 54 truck drivers would also be laid off, said Diony Yadao, president of the farmers’ group, Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon iti Isabela (Dagami-Isabela). But the periodic hiring and firing has angered farmers’ groups in the province, Yadao said, because retrenching workers for part of every year has not helped the local economy. Yadao said the groups have lobbied the company to assure “security of tenure” for its workers in Isabela.

“Where will these families get money to sustain their families’ daily need once they are retrenched? The company must be humane and spend for its workers for the whole year,” he said. Vice Mayor Edgar Go said most of the retrenched workers came from this town. “It is sad to know that they even retrench those residents from San Mariano first. The company must be fair and must [base the firing on] the track record of workers,” he said. GFII has targeted an annual average production of 54 million liters of ethanol. When it began operating in 2012, the company projected that 700,000 tons of sugarcane feedstock (worth P1.6 billion) would provide income to about 20,000 farmers through sugarcane growing contracts covering 11,000 hectares. The GFII operates in partnership with Ecofuel Development Corp., Itochu Corp., JGC Corp., Philippine Bioethanol and Energy Investments Corp. and GCO Taiwan Holding Company.

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Gas price hike of up to P1.50 expected By Riza T. Olchondra Philippine Daily Inquirer 6:22 pm | Monday, June 23rd, 2014

AP FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines — Gasoline and diesel products may increase by up P1.50 per liter this week amid fears the worsening sectarian crisis in Iraq may disrupt exports from the world’s No. 3 supplier of crude oil. Pump prices are seen rising in the range of P1.10 to P1.50 per liter due to worsening Iraqi violence, an industry source said. As early as Friday last week, the domestic oil market was abuzz with talk that prices of major fuel products may surge by more than P1 this week. Oil firms are expected to make official announcements on the increase no later than Tuesday. It will have been the second straight increase due to supply concerns sparked by sectarian violence in Iraq. Based on the benchmark Mean of Platts of Singapore (MOPS) average prices last week, local pump prices for gasoline and diesel are expected to increase by over P1 per liter, sources said. It may be recalled that in the week of June 16 to 20, the Iraq crisis sparked a P0.20 per liter increase in the price of gasoline P0.30 per liter in the price of diesel. MOPS tracked the recent surge in world crude prices. The average price of gasoline grew by more than $4 per barrel this week compared to last and industry sources said this would significantly impact retail prices next week. The diesel average price increased by more than $3 per barrel over the same period. Citing industry data, sources said the benchmark Dubai crude increased almost $3 per barrel to nearly $110 per barrel from June 16 to 19 against the previous week’s average of $106.60 per

barrel. That was in the wake of militant Sunni group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) takeover of large areas of north and northwest Iraq, including the 300,000 barrel-per-day Baiji refinery. Located 250 kilometers north of the capital city of Baghdad, it is the largest refinery in Iraq. While fuel products available in the Philippines are refined from Saudi crude oil, conflict in any oil producing country drives prices up in spooked markets, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla said. Most of the Philippines’ fuel is imported, making the commodity highly vulnerable to international price shocks. Iraq produces 3.3 million barrels of crude oil daily and is the second-largest producer in the 12member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries or OPEC. It is the third largest exporter of crude after Russia and Saudi Arabia. Iraqi production represents nearly four percent of the world’s total daily consumption of 93 million barrels per day.

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US mayors to use nature to fight climate change By Ramit Plushnick-Masti (Associated Press) | Updated June 23, 2014 - 7:12am 0 0 googleplus0 0 HOUSTON — Mayors from the GOP-dominated states of Texas and Arizona are calling on cities to use nature to fight the impacts of climate change, even while Republican governors and lawmakers repeatedly question the science that shows human-caused pollution contributes to global warming. As conservative governors criticize the US Environmental Protection Agency's new rules designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, the mayors — many from cities already struggling with climate-change effects — are taking steps and spending money to stem the damage. Attendees of the US Conference of Mayors will vote Monday on a resolution that encourages cities to use natural solutions to "protect freshwater supplies, defend the nation's coastlines, maintain a healthy tree cover and protect air quality," sometimes by partnering with nonprofit organizations. It's being backed by Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton — all Democrats. Since the conference is almost evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, and the resolution only "encourages" steps rather than mandating action, Leffingwell believes it will easily be approved Monday since it quickly passed through the committee on Friday. "The best strategy is not to get involved in partisan politics," said Leffingwell, who noted that Texas Gov. Rick Perry may be a climate-change skeptic, but he still supported the state's move to invest $2 billion in water infrastructure after a debilitating drought in 2011. World ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 "He doesn't have to acknowledge climate change to know that the facts are there. ... We want to take the steps that would advance the things that we all believe in without getting into some ideological argument," Leffingwell added. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told an audience of mayors on yesterday that they could turn the debate on climate change into a discussion about economics, public safety and health rather than strictly politics. Local action could also serve as an example to skeptical lawmakers at the state level, she argued. "You have shown them what leadership on this issue can bring," McCarthy said.

For coastal cities such as Galveston, Houston and New York City, as well as more arid regions of the country, such as Phoenix and Sacramento, California, there is no time for debate — climate change's effects are real. Galveston's seawall didn't stand up to Hurricane Ike in 2008, partly because of the sea level rise that allowed the storm's surge to reach inner areas. Officials began to rethink protections, leading Galveston and nearby coastal communities to collaborate with The Nature Conservancy to restore oyster reefs and wetland habitats that could better help protect communities. New York learned similar lessons after Superstorm Sandy. Quickly after, it became clear some man-made solutions — such as seawalls or underwater fencing — are expensive and not always effective. The city also asked the Nature Conservancy to study how built defenses could be combined with "natural infrastructure" to buffer a city that's becoming more vulnerable. Howard Beach, a low-lying, flat area of Queens, was pounded by Sandy. The Nature Conservancy's report concluded that significant, cost-efficient defenses could be achieved by revegetating shorelines and restoring mussel beds and wetlands in combination with more traditional solutions, such as sea walls. Heat and debilitating drought is worsening in some parts of Arizona and California. Sacramento is using trees for part of the solution, and the city has outlined a detailed "climate plan" for the coming decades. Bill Finch, the mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and co-chair of the conference's climate task force, said some mayors in mid- and large-sized cities have had a climate plan for about seven years. Party politics are irrelevant, he said, pointing out that his co-chair on the committee is Carmel, Indiana, Republican James Brainard. Carmel put roundabouts at 84 intersections. Studies have shown such traffic patterns can cut down on emissions. Now, Finch plans to implement a similar plan in his community. "Mayors have to go to the grocery store and listen to families complain about kids with asthma ... that their flooding is getting worse," Finch said, pointing out that the steps in the resolution would also give cities more parks and green space. "This is not a cause for mayors. This is a pragmatic problem that requires pragmatic solutions," Finch said.‐mayors‐use‐nature‐fight‐climate‐change         

Disaster mitigation to get 2015 budget boost Resources to cope with climate change a priority, says Abad  By Paolo G. Montecillo  Philippine Daily Inquirer   12:06 am | Tuesday, June 24th, 2014  

Natural disaster mitigation will get special attention next year via an “unprecedented” increase in funding in next year’s budget for measures to help the country cope with the effects of a warming earth. Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio Abad said support for priority areas such as infrastructure, healthcare and education would also be ramped up in line with the administration’s goal of creating more jobs and making the Philippines more competitive. The proposal for next year’s national government budget, which is expected to reach P2.6 trillion, will be discussed by Cabinet officials and submitted to President Aquino on July 10. This will be fine-tuned and submitted to Congress on July 29, the day after the State of the Nation Address (Sona). “As usual, [we want it passed] within the year of submission to Congress,” Abad told reporters Monday. Next year’s budget will be higher by 15.1 percent over this year’s P2.26 trillion.

Education will, as is the norm, gets the biggest outlay for 2015, Abad said. Apart from the increasing number of students ever year, the ongoing shift to the K-12 basic education structure means more money would have to be spent on books, school supplies and additional classrooms, Abad said. This year, the Department of Education has a budget of P249.2 billion, the biggest of any other department in government. The only other larger outlays are for local government allocations worth P319.8 billion, which is spread out over 81 provinces, and debt service funds of P333.9 billion. Infrastructure will also get a significant boost in 2015, Abad said, noting that the government would stick to its commitment to increase spending to 4 percent of gross domestic product or the equivalent of P578 billion. The biggest beneficiary of the increase in infra spending would be the Department of Public Works and Highways, which has a budget of P165.5 billion this year. Other infrastructure

agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, which has a budget of P21.4 billion, will also receive a higher outlay. Special emphasis on the country’s disaster preparedness would also be given in 2015. Abad said the spending in this area would receive an “unprecedented” increase. The budget department chief declined to give details.   Read more:‐mitigation‐to‐get‐2015‐budget‐ boost#ixzz35WZu8zLT   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook                                       

Perks, stable regulations urged for water sector By Ben O. de Vera Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:03 am | Tuesday, June 24th, 2014 The massive investments needed to make potable water accessible to every Filipino would pour in only if the government grants investors generous perks, makes financing more accessible, as well as ensures a stable regulatory environment, experts said on Monday. For the government’s part, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said that it is working to address governance and regulatory issues in order to attract as much as P93 billion worth of investments in the water sector, which the World Bank had estimated would be necessary to upgrade distribution networks and bring clean water to more households between 2013 and 2025. More big-ticket projects in the water sector are crucial, according to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The organization said that—while a 2010 report on the Philippines’ progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) noted that about 92 percent of the country’s populations have access to drinking water—a 2011 survey showed that only 44.4 percent of Filipinos have household connections to water supply. During the Water Sector Forum 2014 organized by USAID and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), Public Works Secretary Rogelio L. Singson expressed optimism that such an investment target would be achievable if the private sector would be enjoined to increase their participation in water projects. “The government is continuously exploring possibilities and opportunities to encourage the private sector to invest in water supply development programs, to include financial, technical innovations and other partnerships,” Singson said.

In a press conference, Ramon B. Alikpala, chief of party of USAID’s Water Security for Resilient Economic Growth and Stability (Be Secure) Project, said that he agrees that generating P93 billion in water investments is doable, but stressed that doing so needs strong financial, regulatory, institutional and political support. “What is missing is a comprehensive framework and fundable projects in LGUs (local government units),” Alikpala pointed out. For the part of PBSP executive director Rafael C. Lopa, he deemed that the private sector is interested to invest in water because there remains a large untapped opportunity. This interest

could translate into actual projects if the government would dangle incentives as well as show that the regulations governing the water sector are pro-business, he said. USAID mission director Gloria D. Steele, meanwhile, cited that the “lack of financing in the Philippines’ water sector remains one of the most important constraints to achieving total service coverage in the country and to ensuring that services which are delivered remain sustainable over the long term.” “While government investment in the sector has increased in recent years, with a particular focus on bringing coverage to waterless communities, there is still an enormous gap,” she said.

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A solution to beat cocopests 12:32 am | Tuesday, June 24th, 2014 Kia Sorento All the space you'll ever needVisit our dealers today Ads by Google In Bay, Laguna, 30 badly infected coconut trees were restored to health and productivity by biotechnologist Edgar A. Maranan. On June 3, 2014, he narrated how this successful treatment was achieved, not so much by killing the cocopests as by strengthening the coconut tree and its immune system. And this was done at a very reasonable rehabilitation cost. Addressing a group discussing the future of virgin coconut oil at the conference room of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), Maranan recounted how he was given by the PCA a test area in Bay, Laguna, that had 30 unproductive coconut trees that were so badly-infected these were ready to be chainsawed into cocolumber. After applying his solution, 24 trees began to flower within weeks and up to 29 trees actually began to produce nuts again. The nuts were excitedly harvested by local farmers—and a second flowering of the trees shows that all the 30 trees were saved by Maranan’s solution, which he estimates cost him P202.85 per tree in direct costs. With packaging, licensing and application costs included, it should suffice for a commercial service to apply Maranan’s solution for no more than P500/tree. That such a solution has become available upon the arrival of Secretary Francis Pangilinan as presidential assistant for food security and agricultural modernization is a propitious sign. It is hoped that the PCA can quickly bring Maranan’s solution to the distressed areas. Already, two local government units in Laguna (Bay and San Pablo) are clamoring for its rapid deployment. Perhaps Secretary Pangilinan can accelerate this process by coordinating with the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, which is also under his supervision, as well as with the Bureau of Food and Drugs of the Department of Health. The private sector is already moving to use Maranan’s solution. Jun Castillo of the Philippine Coconut Society (PCS) is urging PCS members in Calabarzon to try the Maranan solution as soon as possible. Since there are no chemical substances in Maranan’s solution, it does not bring the same health and environmental dangers inherent in a pesticide-based solution. We know of three other solutions that have been shown to be effective against the cocopests. All follow the same principle: Making the tree strong is the key. That’s how to beat the cocopests. —JOSE Z. OSIAS,   convenor, BalikProbinsiya,  

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Government warns traders vs hoarding of NFA rice Category: Agri‐Commodities   23 Jun 2014   Written by Alladin S. Diega | Correspondent   THE  government  will  revoke  the  selling  permits  of  rice  traders  and  retailers  caught  hoarding  National  Food  Authority  (NFA)  rice,  Presidential  Assistant  for  Food  Security  and  Agricultural  Modernization  Francis Pangilinan said on Monday.  Pangilinan issued the warning during an inspection he conducted at the public market in Commonwealth  Avenue, Quezon City, on Monday morning.  “Some  374  rice  retailers  and  traders  all  over  the  country  were  already  found  to  be  in  violations,”  Pangilinan said, adding that the most common violation so far is hoarding the NFA rice supply or mixing  NFA rice with commercial rice.  Violators  can  face  suspension  and  eventual  revocation  of  permits,  Pangilinan  said,  adding  that  “this  is  outside the P4,000 up to P10,000 financial obligations.”  Pangilinan  said  the  NFA  is  closely  monitoring  the  flow  of  rice  from  Intercity  in  Bocaue,  Bulacan,  the  source of 60 percent of the commercial rice reaching Metro Manila markets. Some 200 rice millers and  bulk buyers are concentrated in Intercity.  “We instructed the NFA to double the volume of its distribution,” Pangilinan said in the vernacular on  Monday, particularly those stocks selling at “between P27 and P32 per kilo.”  The  urgent  measure  is  an  effort  to  curb  the  mounting  price  of  commercial  rice  at  the  local  market,  Pangilinan said.  For the long term, the government has scheduled a big‐ticket irrigation project, worth P8.5 billion this  year, to be constructed in Luzon and Mindanao, Pangilinan said.     “This is outside the P10‐billion smaller irrigation projects including repairs, which the National Irrigation  Authority has been constructing,” Pangilinan said.‐commodities/34269‐government‐ warns‐traders‐vs‐hoarding‐of‐nfa‐rice 

Bayan Muna calls for effective price controls of commodities Category: Agri‐Commodities   23 Jun 2014   Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent   PARTY‐LIST Rep. Neri J. Colmenares of Bayan Muna has blamed President Aquino officials for failing to  stop  rising  food  prices,  saying  they  should  be  held  liable  “for  letting  price  manipulators  control  the  market.”  Colmenares said he was dismayed why the government could not run after the manipulators who have  been hoarding garlic and crippling the supply of other commodities like rice to raise their prices.  He tagged both Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (Pafsam) Francis  “Kiko” Pangilinan, who controls the National Food Authority (NFA), and Agriculture Secretary Proceso J.  Alcala, of being “inutile.”  “The  NFA  and  DA  [Department  of  Agriculture]  officials  should  step  down  because  of  their  inability  to  protect  the  people  from  the  crippling  price  of  agricultural  products  and  even  for  covering  up  for  the  hoarders by justifying the increases as a result of lean months or lack of supply,” Colmenares said.  “Alcala said in June 2012 that we are already self‐sufficient in garlic and officially declared that we are  no longer importing garlic. He now admits that we imported garlic in 2012,” Colmenares said.     This month, the DA announced that 29,000 metric tons (MT) of imported garlic arrived in April to meet  the demand of 11,000 MT in the face of a shortfall in garlic supply, which only amounted to 8,700 MT.  “In reality we are far from self‐sufficient in rice and even in garlic because we have been importing large  volumes   of these products, to the detriment of developing our local agriculture,” Colmenares said.  “President  Aquino  and  Secretary  Alcala  also  publicly  declared  that  we  are  on  the  road  to  rice  self  sufficiency.  In  the  end  however,  importation  is  not  the  solution,  but  developing  our  local  agriculture  starting with a genuine agrarian reform,” Colmenares said.  “Masyado nang malala at malaki na ang paghihirap ng mga taumbayan sa kapalpakan at kagagawan ng  mga opisyal ng DA pero hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa din sila pinapatalsik ni [President] Aquino. Halata  naman din na interes lang ng mga malalaking negosyante at kartel ang kanilang pinoprotektahan. Dapat  magpataw na ang gobyerno ng price control sa bigas, bawang at iba pang agricultural products at huwag 

na namang gamiting dahilan ng gobyerno na nais nilang protektahan ang mga negosyante. Panahon na  para  manindigan  naman  ang  gobyerno  para  sa  taong  bayan.  Anyway,  these  big  traders  bought  their  supply  at  very  low  farm  gate  prices  so  they  will  not  suffer  any  loss  of  profit  if  the  price  is  imposed  at  prices close to the farm gate price,” he said.  “This  government  has  been  justifying  exorbitant  rates  at  the  expense  of  the  people.  The  Energy  Regulatory Commission justified the unjustifiable Meralco rate increase last year as lack of supply due to  the Malampaya shutdown. The Department of Energy justifies increases in fuel prices as lack of supply  due  to  the  war  in  Iraq.  Now,  the  DA  justifies  the  spike  in  prices  as  a  result  of  lean  months.  Now  that  Malacañang was forced to admit that they are investigating possible price hoarding, all public officials  who  previously  justified  the  increases  as  resulting  from  lean  months  should  be  thrown  out  of  office,”  Colmenares said.‐commodities/34268‐bayan‐muna‐calls‐ for‐effective‐price‐controls‐of‐commodities                                 

Firm not out to destroy coconut industry with ‘cocolisap’ insecticide Category: Agri‐Commodities   23 Jun 2014   Written by Marvyn N. Benaning   A  COMPANY  known  to  market  chemical  agents  that  control  coconut‐scale  insect  (CSI)  infestation  has  slammed critics for suggesting that its cure for the biggest threat to the coconut industry is a poison.  CSI, known scientifically as Aspidiotus destructor Signoret, is an invasive insect that manifested itself in  2009,  with  horticulturists  bringing  in  palms  and  other  trees  from  Malaysia,  Vietnam  and  Thailand,  blamed for the influx of the tiny insects. Predatory beetles, particularly cryptolemus and telsimia, may  offer a defense against the tiny CSI but they have to be bred fast to battle the insects that are carried  from tree to tree by the wind.  Leads Agricultural Products Corp. said on Monday morning that there is no basis for the claim that the  chemical to be introduced into the trunk of coconut trees would “make the coconut juice turn sour” and  affect as well the chemical composition of coconut oil.   On behalf of the company, Jojo Elejar said the company has been working for five years on CSI, which  started to proliferate in the Talisay, Batangas, nursery of the Philippine Coconut Authority in association  with palm trees introduced into the country.  CSI  infestation  has  also  been  high  in  Mauban,  Quezon,  near  the  power  plant,  and  in  other  areas  in  Tanauan, Batangas, Alejar said.‐commodities/34266‐firm‐not‐out‐to‐ destroy‐coconut‐industry‐with‐cocolisap‐insecticide             

Pangilinan optimistic rice price to drop by Jenny F. Manongdo  June 23, 2014  

Newly-appointed Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agriculture Modernization and former senator Francisco Pangilinan is hopeful the cost of rice may decrease next month. In a Monday forum in Manila, Pangilinan expressed dismay over the increase in the price of the country’s main staple but he assured the public that there are certain varieties that are affordable but are of good quality. “The increase in the price of rice increased because the price of rice grain reached P25 per kilo compared to P21 in the past. But our NFA rice and Sinandomeng variety, though they increased price, has good quality,” Pangilinan said. The former senator told the media that he made a taste test of the two rice varieties in the Commonwealth market in Quezon City early Monday and said that both Sinandomeng and NFA rice are as good as higher-priced grain varieties. “We are monitoring this problem. The cost of rice grain may be reduced next month,” he added. Aside from the increase in the price of rice, the government is also monitoring the cost of sugar, garlic and other commodities. Last week, the government maintained that the supply of commodities is stable and can cover the demand of consumers. Officials expect the price of rice to stabilize in the next two months, reports said. Pangilinan was appointed by Malacañang as agriculture czar last May. The former lawmaker vowed his office will address the issues of food security and to focus on the processes of rice importation and exportation in the country.‐optimistic‐rice‐price‐to‐drop/             

PHL’s use of rice quantitative restriction extended Category: Top News   23 Jun 2014   Written by Alladin S. Diega / Correspondent   New quantitative restriction (QR) schemes on rice imports are set to be put in place by the government  to  protect  the  farmers  from  the  possible  onslaught  of  imported  cheap  rice,  the  Department  of  Agriculture said on Monday.  This is after the Philippines obtained a favorable response from the World Trade Organization (WTO) on  its bid to extend the use of QR to 2017, which augurs well for the Aquino administration’s bid to make  the country rice self‐sufficient.  “The country has finally secured the final nod of the Council for Trade in Goods [CTG] of the WTO for  new QR on rice between now and 2017,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala told reporters.  The CTG will be endorsing to the WTO this July its recommendation favoring the Philippines’s request  for another extension in the country’s use of QR, Alcala said.  The Department of Agriculture (DA) chief also said the minimum access volume, or the volume of rice  imports that can enter the country in a given period at concessional rates, will increase, albeit minimally.  He, however, declined to give details on the new volume, pending the formalization of the endorsement  this July.  The QR has allowed the government to limit the volume of rice that can be imported by the Philippines  every year, preventing a possible influx of cheap rice imports.   To date, only South Korea and the Philippines have rice QRs. This is the third time the Philippines has  appealed for an extension of the QR.  Industry sources earlier told the BusinessMirror that in negotiating for the QR extension, the Philippines  would  be  forced  to  give  trade‐offs  to  rice‐exporting  countries  that  may  negatively  impact  on  the  domestic livestock and poultry sectors. These concessions may come in the form of reduced tariffs for  imported meats and other agricultural products.  The Philippines earned the support of the United States on its bid to continue utilizing the QR, a scheme  allowed  by  the  WTO  to  give  its  member‐countries  the  opportunity  to  protect  their  domestic  players  from injury, especially for critical products like rice. 

The three other countries that the Philippines was negotiating with for concessions in exchange for their  support to the QR extension were Australia, Canada and Thailand.  China, India and Indonesia in 2013 gave their endorsement to the Philippines for the continued QR.   Alcala said improved palay production has catapulted the Philippines as the No. 1 in terms of percentage  increase in milled‐rice yield among all rice‐producing countries for the last five years.  Citing  a  report  by  the  US  Department  of  Agriculture  (USDA)  Foreign  Agricultural  Service,  Alcala  told  reporters  the  country’s  milled‐rice  production  improved  by  an  average  of  5.05  percent  from  2009  to  2014.  The average growth in milled‐rice production was followed by Egypt at 4.85 percent, with India at third  place  with  4.29  percent.  Cambodia  was  at  fourth  with  3.94  percent  and  Bangladesh  followed  at  2.8  percent.  The Philippines also registered 2.3 million metric tons (MMT) of average ending stock of milled rice for  the same period, which was a mere 0.07‐percent decline in stocks, the DA chief said.  Thailand has the highest percentage change in ending stocks, at 25.82 percent for the five‐year period.  Average  rice  consumption  in  the  Philippines  declined  by  half  a  percentage  point,  or  negative  0.52  percent, during the period, the USDA report indicated.  “The  average  annual  consumption  of  milled  rice  was  estimated  at  12.917  MMT,  18.85  percent  higher  than the 10.867 MMT average milled rice produced for the period,” the report said.    Other countries with declining average consumption included South Korea (‐0.25 percent), Burma (‐0.83  percent) and Brazil (‐1.25 percent).  The highest average percentage increase in terms of consumption  was  posted  by  Nigeria  at  8.71  percent,  followed  by  Vietnam  (3.05  percent),  India  (2.95  percent),  Cambodia (2.79 percent) and Bangladesh (2.31 percent).  Alcala  said  the  latest  USDA  report  proves  that  the  government’s  self‐sufficiency  efforts  in  rice  is  attainable  and  is,  in  fact,  becoming  a  reality.  He  said  the  government  “expects  to  achieve  this  feat  before the end of the Aquino administration.”  Critics  of  the  government’s  Food  Staple  Security  Program  cited  geographical  conditions,  lack  of  agriculture infrastructure and failed implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program as  the reasons for the difficulty in attaining rice sufficiency in the Philippines, at least “within the next 10  years.”  The country was able to achieve 96‐percent self‐sufficiency considering the interplay of rice production,  per‐capita consumption and population, Alcala said. 

The DA chief said the data was higher compared to the 82‐percent sufficiency level in 2010.  “We were able to achieve this despite removing subsidies to rice farmers,” the DA’s top official said.  Farmers  produced  18.44  MMT  of  rice  in  2013,  up  2.3  percent  from  the  previous  year,  Alcala  said,  attributing  this  “to  wider  irrigation  coverage  and  increased  farmers’  adoption  of  certified  and  hybrid  seeds.”  In  the  first  three  months  of  2014,  rice  output  expanded  by  3.28  percent,  or  4.3  MMT,  from  the  4.17  MMT during the same period last year.  Based  on  the  latest  estimates  of  the  Bureau  of  Agricultural  Statistics,  the  Philippine  rice  production  is  expected to increase by 6.8 percent to 8.541 MMT in January to June 2014, from 7.997 MMT a year ago.  “The  probable  increase  in  production  is  due  to  improvement  in  yield,  particularly  in  major  rice‐ production  areas  of  Nueva  Ecija,  Davao  del  Norte  and  Kalinga  as  a  result  of  sufficient  water  supply  during the period,” Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Edilberto de Luna said.  Yield improvement in palay would have Philippine rice production increasing to 6.8 percent for the first  half of the year, the  DA said on Monday.  “The country’s palay output is expected to reach 8.541 MMT in January to June of this year, from 7.997  MMT a year ago,” de Luna said in an interview.  He said the projected output is higher than the 8.528 MMT forecast for April  this year.  From  April  to  June  this  year,  rough  rice  production  is  expected  to  reach  about  4.015  MMT,  or  4.9  percent higher than the 3.827 MMT last year, with initial estimate at 4.002 MMT.  For  corn,  during  the  first  semester  this  year,  corn  production  is  expected  to  reach  3.482  MMT,  or  4.8  percent  higher  than  the  3.323  MMT  in  the  same  period  in  2013,  based  on  the  updated  production  forecast.  The  improved  latest  forecast  is  still  lower  by  0.1  percent  from  the  3.486  MMT  target  set  in  April.  De  Luna  said  corn  output  for  the  second  quarter  of  the  year  is  expected  to  increase  by  12  percent  to  1.203  MMT  from  1.075  MMT  registered  in  April  to  June  last  year.  The  improved  forecast  is  also  still  lower by 0.3 percent from the April target of 1.207 MMT.  “Dry spell” is the main reason for the slight drop in the target for corn harvest areas and yield, de Luna  said, adding that the intense heat affected corn plantations in the reproductive stage.‐news/34319‐phl‐s‐use‐of‐rice‐quantitative‐ restriction‐extended 

DA launches its ‘unsinkable’ boat by Ellalyn De Vera  June 23, 2014  

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has come out with its own “unsinkable” boat–but it is not named “Titanic.” Called “Bangkang Pinoy,” the fishing boat made of fiberglass is designed to stay afloat even on rough seas, thus providing additional safety to fishermen using it even during adverse weather conditions such as typhoons.


SAFE BOAT – Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala (second from right) and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Director Asis Perez (right) launch the ‘Bangkang Pinoy’ fiberglass boats at the Manila Yacht Club yesterday. (KJ Rosales) DA Secretary Proceso Alcala said the production of at least 5,000 units of “Bangkang Pinoy” is expected in 100 days. They will be distributed nationwide before the end of the year. “This is part of the government’s ‘build-back better’ strategy to help Yolanda-affected communities,” he said. “We are confident that with these new fishing boats, we are not only addressing the safety of our fishermen, but we can be assured of an increase in their productivity,” he added. The DA chief explained that fiberglass boats are also cost-efficient as they are sturdier and last longer than wooden boats. “Just like the Filipino spirit in times of catastrophes and great hardships, this boat is unsinkable,” he said. “With proper maintenance, Bangkang Pinoy could last up to 20 years. Given that it usually takes one tree to build one wooden banca, imagine the number of trees that will be saved and possible environmental consequences that will be avoided,” he said.

“Bangkang Pinoy” comes in two versions, a 20-footer unit valued at around P42,000, and a 35footer version worth around P65,000. The value includes costs of labor, motor engine, and other accessories. Alcala said he personally witnessed a demonstration led by DA-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director Asis Perez. He said one boat was filled with water and boarded by 10 volunteers but remained afloat despite the load. An initial batch of 45 DA-BFAR personnel from Yolanda-affected areas in the Visayas, as well as Palawan, completed a 30-day training on fiberglass boat-building at the National Marine Fisheries Development Center in Sangley Point, Cavite. “By making the technology available to the fisheries sector, more fisherfolk would have the option, as well as the ability to build better fishing boats for themselves,” Perez said. Likewise, Alcala noted that five newly-acquired 30-footer multi-mission boats will help strengthen DA’s capacity in conducting sea patrol operations for more efficient fisheries regulatory activities and quick response to disasters. DA said an additional 70 units of multi-mission boats will be acquired and deployed this year.‐launches‐its‐unsinkable‐boat/                           

DA turns over farming facilities   June 24, 2014  

MAGSAYSAY, Davao del Sur – The Department of Agriculture (DA) recently turned over 14 farm machinery and organic farming facilities to farmers in the province. Two rice threshers each were given to seven irrigation associations and farmers cooperative. The turnover was led by DA regional director Remelyn Recoter, Mayor Arthur Davin and agriculturist Helen Carampatana. Recoter also turned over an Organic Trading Post (OTP) to Magsaysay Organic Farmers Cooperative (MoFarmCo). She said that the funding of the OTP reached P1.6-million. DA allocated P1 million while the remaining amount came from the provincial government. She said the municipality is the producer of MagRice (Magsaysay Rice), organically-produced quality rice, which is available in various supermarkets in the region. It is also awarded as the number one One-Town-One-Product (OTOP) in Davao region and number two in Mindanao. The production of organic products in the municipality is in accordance with the passage of Municipal Organic Agriculture Ordinance. (Cherry Mae Palicte)‐turns‐over‐farming‐facilities/                   

Visayas newsbits for June 24, 2014   June 23, 2014  

P5.7-M ARB SUPPORT The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) turned over P5.7-million worth of infrastructure in Negros Occidental to improve the living conditions of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in the community. Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer Lucresia Taberna said ARBs in Barangay General Malvar in Pontevedra town can now utilize the P2.2-million farm-to-market road that stretches from the main highway to Purok 1. A P1-million warehouse was also turned over to the community. Aside from agricultural facilities, DAR also constructed a two-classroom building with comfort rooms that costs P1.5 million – that will benefit 189 students, most of them children of ARBs. (Ellalyn B. de Vera)‐newsbits‐for‐june‐24‐2014/                               

Foundation awards 200 scholarships to children of NL tobacco farmers   June 23, 2014  

The Wong Chu King Foundation, Inc. (WCKFI) announced it had granted full college scholarship to 200 students in Northern Luzon to create a new breed of high-tech tobacco farmers to improve the quality and yield of local tobacco leaves. “Our scholars are children and dependents of the tobacco farmers who are going to take hightech agricultural courses so they can help make our tobacco variety world-class in quality,” said James Vincent Navarrete, WCKFI general manager.


THUMBS UP TO EDUCATION – The Wong Chu King Foundation, Inc. (WCKFI) recently granted full college scholarship to two hundred (200) children of tobacco farmers through an event held in La Union. The scholarship program is part of the corporate social responsibility of WCKFI in the Northern Luzon region by helping tobacco farmers and their dependents. “Parents of the student-beneficiaries are low-income tobacco farmers caught in an inescapable poverty trap due to lack of proper education. WCKFI is now giving their children the chance to lead better lives later on and help their respective families and communities,” Navarrete said. San Fernando, La Union Bishop Rodolfo Fontiveros Beltran, speaking through representative Fr. Victor de Guzman from the Diocese of San Fernando, La Union said WCKFI’s devotion to tobacco farmers and their families is exemplary. “We thank the Wongchuking family and WCKFI for giving these blessings to us. This is an original Christian act,” Fr. de Guzman said of the scholarship grants. “It is a perfect Christian community because everybody cares and everybody fulfills the needs of the poor in society.” Kabataan Party List Rep. Terry Ridon, who attended the program in which the scholarship grants were awarded to the students and their parents, lauded WCKFI for taking on the task of improving the lives of tobacco growers by educating their children and dependents. “WCKFI’s scholarship grants will not only help the tobacco farming communities but the industry as well,” he said, adding that Congress is committed to help the tobacco industry grow.

“We are happy that WCKFI is not only aiding the tobacco industry but also its people and dependents,” said Ridon. In the first phase of its program, WCKFI distributed 35 irrigation pumps to some 35 farmer associations, 10 mini-tractors in tobacco-growing provinces, and tools and farm implements to help tobacco growers increase their tobacco harvest. Navarrete said the agricultural assistance would serve as common-service production equipment to groups of organized tobacco farmers working in tobacco farms that have no access to irrigation facilities and small tractors. The third component of the program will be undertaken in tandem with the National Tobacco Administration for the annual search for outstanding tobacco farmers. The search will be covering three categories, namely, Virginia tobacco growers, burley tobacco farmers and native tobacco producers. WCKFI, led by its president and chairman of the board of trustees Mrs. NeliaD.Wongchuking, also helps the poor and underprivileged sectors with their nutrition, education and livelihood needs. The foundation was established 25 years ago in memory of Emmanuel Wong Chu King, philanthropist and patriarch of the Wongchuking family.‐awards‐200‐scholarships‐to‐children‐of‐nl‐tobacco‐farmers/                           

Finding the road to success through microfinance Published : Tuesday, June 24, 2014 00:00 Article Views : 57

Speech of Bangko Sentral Gov. Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. delivered during the Media launch of the 2014 Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards at the Lounge, Executive Business Center, BSP on 18 June 2014 – Ed. Microfinance Council of the Philippines Chairperson Mila Mercado-Bunker; Citi Philippines CEO Batara Sianturi; our 2013 Citi Micro-entrepreneurship Awardees; fellow advocates ofmicrofinance; our special guests from the media; ladies and gentlemen, good morning! I am pleased to confirm the good news: The microfinance sector continues to grow and empower more micro-entrepreneurs across the Philippines. As of September 2013, 183 banks provided 8.1 billion pesos in microfinance loans to over a million borrowers — 1,017,351 Pinoys to be exact. This translates to an average bank loan of eight thousand pesos per borrower. Seven years ago - in December 2006, the total microfinance loan portfolio of banks was P4 billion for 650,000 borrowers or an average of P6,150 per borrower. In other words, bank loans to micro-enterprises increased by 102 percent in seven years, while the number of micro-entrepreneurs who accessed micro loans from banks increased by 56 percent. Over the same period, average micro loans increased by 30 percent. Equally significant, the accumulated bank savings of micro-entrepreneurs jumped from P1.4 billion in 2006 to P8.8 billion, an increase of 525 percent. This means the average deposit per micro-entrepreneur increased from P2,000 in 2006 to P8,650 in 2013, an improvement of 332 percent in seven years. We realize these are cold figures. However, the stories behind these figures prove the power ofmicrofinance to transform and improve lives. As co-chair of the selection committee for CMA for10 years now, I have personally witnessed how micro-entrepreneurs survived scarcity by making their business a reliable source of family income – all because they accessed and sensibly usedmicrofinance loans. As a regulator, it is a joy to see tangible proof that our microfinance policies and regulationshave such a powerful impact on families and communities.

And so today, we are pleased to present to you the 2013 CMA winners who will share their unique stories, challenges, and how they finally found the road to success. They are the latest batch of inspiring good role models for other entrepreneurial Pinoys. So far, this annual search for outstanding micro-entrepreneurs has generated 93 winners since it was jointly launched in 2002 by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Microfinance Council of the Philippines, and Citi. Since then, this award-winning program has been replicated by Citi in 32 other countries. I am also pleased to announce that even as the global survey of Economic Intelligence Unit consistently ranks the Philippines as having the best regulatory framework for the development of microfinance, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas continues to work on regulatory enhancements in response to changing market needs and developments. Among others, the BSP has done the following: raised the average daily balance of micro-deposits to promote higher savings rate amongmicrofinance clients; enabled micro-insurance providers to expand coverage to families of microfinance clients; improved procedures in the product approval of housing microfinance loans and micro-agri loans to simplify the process by which banks can offer innovative microfinance products; allowed the acceptance of alternative Identification Documents to open bank accounts, including those issued to persons with disability or under government welfare; and institutionalized a Consumer Protection Framework to provide comprehensive protection for all financial consumers, including microfinance clients. Ladies and gentlemen. While we celebrate our milestones, we know that there is so much more that we can do to improve the lives of Filipinos, particularly those who live in poverty. We can help them help themselves. by showing them the opportunities microfinance can provide. As we launch this year's search for new CMA awardees, we hope we can gain the interest of more Filipinos to join the microfinance sector. Let us, therefore, continue to spread the word about microfinance... and the stories of our CMA winners, some of whom are with us today. Through them, we are reassured again and again thatmicrofinance is a viable option for entrepreneurial Pinoys. Mabuhay ang microfinance! Mabuhay ang ating mahal na bansang Pilipinas! Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat!‐finding‐the‐road‐to‐success‐through‐ microfinance   

Ex-Sec. Yap, 2 ex-solons, 14 pa kasuhan na sa ‘pork’ -- Ombudsman  Tuesday, 24 June 2014 00:00                                                                                      Written by  Amihan  Sabillo/Noel Abuel  Pinakakasuhan na ng Ombudsman ang dalawang dating kongresista, dating kalihim ng Department of  Agriculture (DA) at 14 na iba pa na pawang sangkot sa Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) o  ‘pork’ scam    Mismong si Ombudsman Conchita Carpio‐Morales ang nagpalabas ng kautusan para  tuluyang kasuhan ng Malversation of Public Funds at violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019  (Anti‐Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) sina dating Nueva Ecija Rep. Rodolfo Antonino, dating Department  of Agriculture (DA) Sec. Arthur Yap, at lima pa. 

Ganu’n din si dating Isabela Representative Anthony Miranda at siyam pa kaugnay ng pagwawaldas diumano ng PDAF. Sa pagsisiyasat, nangyari umano ang PDAF scam simula noong Hulyo 2013 kung saan umabot sa isang daan katao ang na-interview at naging witness base sa nationwide na paglilibot ng Commission on Audit (COA) Special Audits Office Report No. 2012-03, kung saan umaabot sa kabuuang P6.156 bilyon na pera ang narelease mula sa PDAF noong 2007 hanggang 2009 para sa 82 nongovernment organizations (NGOs), kabilang na ang mga gawa-gawang NGOs din nina Antonino at Miranda na pinahintulutan ni Yap. Subalit wala namang maipakitang livelihood program, at iba pang proyekto ang dalawang kongresista, si Rep. Antonino sa 4th District ng Nueva Ecija, at si Rep. Miranda sa 4th District din ng Isabela. Samantala, muling umalerto kahapon ang buong puwersa ng Bureau of Immigration (BI) sa lahat ng paliparan at pantalan sa buong bansa laban sa 30 indibidwal na nakakasuhan sa ‘pork’ scam at ngayo’y binabaan ng hold departure order (HDO) ng Sandiganbayan. Ito’y kasunod ng kumpirmasyon ng BI na nakaalis na ng Pilipinas ang dalawa sa mga akusado na si Technology Resource Center (TRC) director-general Antonio Ortiz at isang Renato Ornopia. Nagpasaklolo na rin ang BI sa Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) para kunin ang kumpletong pangalan sa pasaporte ng lahat ng ipinaloob sa HDO ng anti-graft court at iba pang impormasyon na mapagkakakilanlan sa mga ito.‐sec‐yap‐2‐ex‐solons‐14‐pa‐kasuhan‐na‐sa‐pork‐ ombudsman.html  

New Sandigan justice named Written by PNA

Tuesday, 24 June 2014 00:00                                                                                                                              

President Aquino has finally appointed a new associate justice of the Sandiganbayan.  In a statement, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma said  President Aquino named Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez‐Estoesta to the position, vice Amparo Cabotaje‐ Tang, who has since been appointed as Sandiganbayan presiding justice.“The appointment was signed  on June 20, 2014 and has been transmitted to Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno,” he said.  The appointment of Manila Regional Trial Court Judge Ma. Theresa Gomez‐Estoesta to the  Sandiganbayan came barely three days after Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno rebuffed Malacañang  for asking the Judicial and Bar Council to revisit the list it had submitted to the Office of the President in  February 2014.  The appointment also comes as the anti‐graft court deals with all sorts of pressures in connection with  the pork scam cases involving top lawmakers.   Estoesta’s division in the Sandiganbayan is handling the plunder and graft cases against Senator Jose  “Jinggoy” Estrada, who was detained at Camp Crame yesterday.  Aquino earlier drew flak for failing to appoint the new Sandiganbayan justice within the constitutionally  prescribed 90‐day deadline.  At the time of her appointment, Estoesta served as presiding judge in the Manila Regional Trial Court to  which she was appointed in 2006.  Before that, she served as presiding judge in the Manila Metropolitan Trial Court. She also served in the  Solicitor General’s office from 1991 to 2002.‐sandigan‐justice‐named  

Poor kids of tobacco farmers get chance to escape poverty Written by Tribune Tuesday, 24 June 2014 00:00    The Wong Chu King Foundation Inc. (WCKFI) has granted full college scholarship to 200 students in  Northern Luzon to create a new breed of high‐tech tobacco farmers to improve the quality and yield of  local tobacco leaves.  “Our scholars are children and dependents of the tobacco farmers who are going to take high‐tech  agricultural courses so they can help make our tobacco variety world‐class in quality,” said James  Vincent Navarrete, WCKFI general manager.  “Parents of the student‐beneficiaries are low‐income tobacco farmers caught in an inescapable poverty  trap due to lack of proper education.   WCKFI is now giving their children the chance to lead better lives later on and help their respective  families and communities,” Navarrete said.  San Fernando, La Union Bishop Rodolfo Fontiveros Beltran, speaking through representative Fr. Victor  de Guzman from the Diocese of San Fernando, La Union said WCKFI’s devotion to tobacco farmers and  their families is exemplary.   “We thank the Wongchuking family and WCKFI for giving these blessings to us. This is an original  Christian act,” Fr. de Guzman said of the scholarship grants.   “It is a perfect Christian community because everybody cares and everybody fulfills the needs of the  poor in society,” he said.  Kabataan Party List Rep. Terry Ridon, who attended the program in which the scholarship grants were  awarded to the students and their parents, lauded WCKFI for taking on the task of improving the lives of 

tobacco growers by educating their children and dependents.  “WCKFI’s scholarship grants will not only help the tobacco farming communities but the industry as  well,” he said, adding that Congress is committed to help the tobacco industry grow.  “We are happy that WCKFI is not only aiding the tobacco industry but also its people and dependents,”  said Ridon.  In the first phase of its program, WCKFI distributed 35 irrigation pumps to some 35 farmer associations,  10 mini‐tractors in tobacco‐growing provinces, and tools and farm implements to help tobacco growers  increase their tobacco harvest.  Navarrete said the agricultural assistance would serve as common‐service production equipment to  groups of organized tobacco farmers working in tobacco farms that have no access to irrigation facilities  and small tractors.  The third component of the program will be undertaken in tandem with the National Tobacco  Administration for the annual search for outstanding tobacco farmers.   The search will be covering three categories, namely, Virginia tobacco growers, burley tobacco farmers  and native tobacco producers.  WCKFI, led by its president and chairman of the board of trustees Nelia  Wongchuking, also helps the poor and underprivileged sectors with their nutrition, education and  livelihood needs.   The foundation was established 25 years ago in memory of Emmanuel Wong Chu King, philanthropist  and patriarch of the Wongchuking family.‐kids‐of‐tobacco‐farmers‐get‐chance‐to‐escape‐poverty        

Palay, corn production sharply higher in 1st half By Anna Leah G. Estrada | Jun. 24, 2014 at 12:01am Palay and corn production likely increased 6.8 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively, in the first six months of the year on good weather conditions, the Department of Agriculture said Monday. Assistant Agriculture Secretary and National Rice Program coordinator Edilberto de Luna said unmilled rice production likely reached 8.541 million metric tons from 7.997 million MT yearon-year. Palay output in the second quarter was expected to reach 4.015 million metric tons, up 4.9 percent from 3.827 million metric tons last year, he said. “The probable increases in production is due to improvement in yield, particularly in major rice production areas of Nueva Ecija, Davao del Norte and Kalinga as a result of sufficient water supply during the period,” De Luna said.The more robust rice and corn production in the second quarter is expected to lift agricultural output in the six-month period, after an anemic growth in the first quarter.Agriculture, which accounts for a fifth of the gross domestic product, slowed to a 0.7-percent growth in the first three months from 3.1 percent a year ago, after three strong typhoons destroyed farms and fish ponds in the last quarter of 2013, the Philippine Statistics Authority said earlier. “The damage caused by typhoons Santi, Vinta and Yolanda that visited the country in the last quarter of last year translated to a decelerated growth in crop production,” the government said earlier.Palay production grew 3.3 percent to 4.3 million MT in the first quarter from 4.2 million MT a year earlier, while corn harvest increased 1.3 percent to 2.3 million MT from 2.2 million MT. De Luna said corn output in the first half likely reached 3.482 million MT from 3.323 million MT on year.He said second-quarter output might have risen 12 percent to 1.203 million MT from 1.075 million MT on year due to an expanded harvest area. Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said a recent report by the US Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Service showed the Philippines had the highest percentage increase in milled rice production.The report showed Philippine milled rice production grew by an average of 5.05 percent from 2009 to 2014.The country’s milled rice production growth is followed by Egypt at 4.85 percent; India, 4.29 percent; Cambodia, 3.94 percent; and Bangladesh at 2.80 percent.“We may not achieved the rice sufficiency status last year but we will make sure that we will achieve this before the end of the Aquino administration,” Alcala said.‐corn‐production‐sharply‐higher‐in‐1st‐ half/   

Sin tax law cuts smoking prevalence by 50% By Jennifer Ambanta | Jun. 24, 2014 at 12:01am   The implementation of Republic Act No. 10351, or the law that restructured the excise tax on alcohol and tobacco products, has raised more government revenues and reduced the smoking prevalence among the youth by as much as 50 percent, the Budget Department said Monday. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the government had released some P6.46 billion for tobacco farmers, after collecting more taxes from the tobacco industry. “The additional revenues allowed the government to provide more for livelihood and health services. Our drive for excise tax reform has always considered the people’s well being,” Abad said.Abad said the government was expecting about P42.86 billion in incremental earnings this year. He said that while the so-called sin tax law provided more revenues for the government, it cut the population of smoking Filipinos from 38 percent to 25 percent.“Smoking has also gone down for younger Filipinos. Smoking prevalence among the young people from ages 18 to 24 was nearly slashed by 50 percent,” he said. Abad said about P30.49 billion of the sin taxes this year was allocated to the Health Department, bringing its budget to P90.5 billion, or almost three times the level when the Aquino administration started in 2010.He said some P57.08 billion would be made available for health programs in 2015.Abad said some P22.7 billion from the incremental revenues would help subsidize PhilHealth premiums for the poor and indigent. “This will enable us to not just fully subsidize, but even to double the health premiums of 14.7 million indigents, with a budget of about P35.3 billion,” he said.Abad said P3.85 billion would now fund policy and regulation standards, P2.26 billion would support hospital operations and about P1.68 billion would go to preventive health programs. He said the government was committed to deploy about 80 percent of the sin taxes to public health services. “That is why aside from the 14.7 million indigents, and doubling the premiums, and spending P35.3 billion, we’ve also implemented health facilities enhancement program, so even barangay health station, health units, district and provincial hospitals, are also being rehabilitated and improved,” he said. He said of the total incremental revenues, local government units would receive 15 percent.‐tax‐law‐cuts‐smoking‐prevalence‐by‐50‐/ 

Solon blasts ‘SK for Roxas 2016 bid’ By Christine F. Herrera | Jun. 24, 2014 at 12:01am   THE Liberal Party and its supposed standard-bearer, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, have purportedly manipulated a law postponing the youth council elections to mount early campaigning using some P6 billion in public funds, a youth congressman said on Monday. Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon said Roxas and the LP managed to establish their own “LP-backed” Sangguniang Kabataan for Roxas’ 2016 presidential bid by creating a “task force on youth development” which is funded from government coffers. “Roxas has instructed barangay councils to appoint members of the new SK task force who will agree to be part of the Liberal Party, and to formulate youth programs that would promote Roxas and his party mates in the upcoming national elections,” Ridon said. Ridon explained that Republic Act 10632, which was signed into law on October 3, 2013, postponed the SK elections for two years to October 28, 2015. The congressman said RA 10632 also prohibited the appointment of new SK officers, but Roxas managed to go around the law by requiring the creation the Task Force on Youth Development in lieu of the SK in the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 10632. “There shall be a Task Force on Youth Development in every barangay nationwide composed of the Chairperson of the Youth and Sports Development Committee and eight members nominated by the Katipunan ng Kabataan and other youth organizations operating within the barangay,” Ridon said, citing the IRR provision. The IRR, crafted by the Department of Interior and Local Government and approved by the Commission on Elections, has already been circulated to barangay councils starting this month, Ridon said. Section 2 Rule 6 of the IRR read, “The eight members shall be designated through a resolution of the Sangguniang Barangay,” Ridon said. “[But] reports from Kabataan Party-List regional chapters show that Roxas and the LP are using the IRR to gain political leverage at the local level in preparation for the upcoming presidential polls,” Ridon said, adding that some 336,000 youth leaders have supposedly become part of the group. The Local Government Code provides that 10 percent of total annual IRA of the barangay should automatically go to the SK. “This translates to a total of more than P6 billion from the IRA of some 42,000 barangays in the country,” Ridon said.

“Getting around the law and the use of government resources and funds for personal gains to promote his presidential ambition through early campaigning are big insults to the youth,” Ridon said. Ridon stressed that Section 2 of RA 10632 states that “all incumbent Sangguniang Kabataan officials shall not remain in office after the expiration of their term at noon of November 30, 2013.” But the newly created task force is empowered to formulate a “youth development plan and budget” and access the 10-percent SK allocation from the annual IRA of the barangay. “While RA 10632 explicitly stated that no new appointments should be made to fill the vacant SK posts, the IRR crafted by DILG has essentially gone around this prohibition by creating the youth development task force,” Ridon said.‐blasts‐sk‐for‐roxas‐2016‐bid‐/                               

New set of cases lists Yap, ex-solons By Rio N. Araja | Jun. 24, 2014 at 12:01am   BOHOL Rep. Arthur Yap, former agriculture secretary during the Arroyo administration, and two former congressmen have been implicated in corruption charges stemming from the allegedly irregular allocation of pork barrel funds, the Ombudsman announced on Monday.

Arthur Yap   The two separate cases of malversation of public funds had nothing to do with non-governmental organizations linked with businesswoman Janet Napoles, but Yap and 16 others were also charged of diverting barrel funds to questionable NGOs seven years ago. Yap was only included in the first set of charges involving former Nueva Ecija congressman Rodolfo Antonino, who allegedly used P14.5 million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund in 2007 for a supposedly non-existent livelihood project that was never liquidated. The second set of charges were against former Isabela congressman Anthony Miranda who is accused of channeling more than P20 million of his PDAF to an NGO which he himself incorporated and controlled. Although the two cases had nothing to with the plunder raps filed against Napoles, some of the respondents have also been indicted for the plunder and corruption cases filed against Napoles, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla. Aside from Yap and Antonino, corruption charges were also filed against National Agribusiness Corp. officials Alan Javellana, Encarnita Cristina Munsod, Rhodora Mendoza and Maria Niñez Guanizo, who have already been indicted for the pork barrel case involving Estrada. The case stemmed from Antonino’s request to Yap that his PDAF be transferred to the National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor) even if it was not listed as one of the implementing agencies of PDAF in the General Appropriations Act of 2007. Nabcor was given the project through a memorandum of agreement signed by Yap and Nabcor president Alan Javellana, but records showed that Nabcor had earlier agreed that the NGO Buhay

Mo Mahal Ko Foundation Inc., through its president Marilou Antonio, would implement the project. The P14.5 million in PDAF was released to BMMKFI to purchase 7,275 sets of Livelihood Technology Kits exclusively from publishing company C.C. Barredo at P2,000 a set. Both Antonio and Barredo are also respondents in the case. The kits were supposed to have been distributed to beneficiaries in Gapan City and the towns of Cabiao, General Tinio, Jaen, San Isidro, San Leonardo, and Peñaranda, but investigation showed that they were never distributed in the aforementioned places. In the case of Miranda, the congressman requested the release of P10 million of his PDAF, also in 2007, to the Aksyon Makamasa Foundation Inc. which listed Miranda as incorporator, director, and chairman. A total of P20.06 million was released through two MOAs between AMFI and Technology Research Center on March 9, 2007, but the two agreements were found to be full of irregularities, Ombudsman investigators said. The agreements did not include a list of beneficiaries, guidelines for project implementation, and project cost estimates and also involved the release of one lump sum instead of a scheduled release of payments in batches as required by rules. The TRC also did not follow COA rules on NGO accreditation, while AMFI failed to submit 3year financial statements required by COA, according to the complaint. AMFI has also failed to prove it actually implemented the projects, probers said. Aside from Miranda, charges were also filed against former Technology Resource Center officials Antonio Ortiz, Dennis Cunanan, Marivic Jover, Belina Concepcion, Francisco Figura and Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, who were also indicted in the plunder charges against Enrile and Revilla. Cunanan, Jover, Concepcion, Lacsamana and Espiritu were also slapped with aministrative charges of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service. Also included in the criminal malversation raps were AMFI officials Consuelo Lilian Reyes Espiritu, Domingo Mamauag and Edison Sabio.‐set‐of‐cases‐lists‐yap‐ex‐solons/       

Testing the Sandiganbayan By Emil Jurado | Jun. 24, 2014 at 12:01am  

MALACAÑANG may not realize it yet, but analysts say that at the rate President Aquino is persecuting his political enemies, showing off his selective brand of justice and failing to fulfill his promise of change, the administration is slowly destabilizing itself. This clamor for change has been more pronounced now especially since the President continues to defend his allies who are themselves allegedly involved in the pork barrel scam. No other administration has been as hypocritical! The Aquino regime has only two years to go. The people are disenfranchised because there has been no adequate response to gut issues – high prices of basic commodities, joblessness and the crime surge. And now we get a sense that the government cannot control corruption. *** The spotlight is now on the Sandiganbayan, particularly its First, Third and Fifth Divisions which are trying the first batch of those accused in the pork barrel scam. The anti-graft court now faces a tough test of its competence, integrity, probity and independence. Despite so much trial by publicity levelled against the opposition senators, who have already been judged guilty by some people, many still believe that a man is presumed innocent until he is found guilty. The Sandiganbayan is still in the preliminary stages of trial, like finding probable cause in the cases of Enrile. (The other two are now at the PNP Detention Center). Now there is already a debate on whether or not the accused should be given preferential treatment in terms of their detention. In ordinary jails, there are 30 people taking turns sleeping with their backs to the wall. And imagine how filthy their toilets coul be!

I find the First Division’s haste to find probable cause rather strange. Did the justices go over all the so-called “truckloads of evidence” against Senator Revilla to find probable cause? Note that the senator’s lawyer still had motions pending in the Surpreme Court. If and when probable cause becomes the basis for warrants of arrest, there is still the question of where they can be detained. For Jinggoy, it could well be at the PNP Custodial Center. But for JPE, now 90 years old and suffering from many ailments, will it be house arrest or hospital arrest? After detention comes arraignment. That will be another battlefield between lawyer of the accused and the prosecutors (we used to call them fiscals or “fixcals” because we, lawyers, could “fix” them). We must remember that the reason why private lawyers, especially from big law offices called “abogado de campanilla”, are hired by those who can afford is that since they get paid handsomely, they become committed to the case. This is unlike the situation of government prosecutors who go to court because that’s their job. They collect their salaries whether they win the case or lose. Then, there’s the trial proper. Under our judicial system, it’s a long road of direct examinations, cross-examinations, postponements, and so forth and so on. This could take decades! The justices in the said Sandiganbayan Divisions know that they are under scrutiny. I won’t be surprised that all their telephone, cellphones and even their offices are bugged. I’d even say that no less than President Aquino himself is on trial by the Filipino people. He’s on trial by the people on how he will treat the involvement of Budget and Management Secretary Butch Abad, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Tesda Director General Joel Villanueva. The more he continues to defend them, the more the people will believe in brand of selective and double standard of justice where his people can do no wrong. *** Reports say that the government, specifically the Department of Public Works and Highways, will award the P35.4-billion Cavite Laguna Expressway (CALAX) Public Private Partnership deal this week after the completion of evaluation of three financial offers, topped by that of the Ayala and Aboitiz Group. The project drew four bidders, although San Miguel Corp. was disqualified for some technical defect. During the opening of financial proposals, Ayala Corp. and Aboitiz Land’s Team Orion offered the highest bid at P11.650 billion, making it the most likely group to bag the deal. The SMC disqualification came on June 11, two days before bid opening. SMC unprecedentedly announced its superior bid of P20.1 billion or P8.45 billion more to the government. But, Secretary Rogelio Singson claimed that rules were rules. So SMC’s bid was not opened. From the point of view of many, the reason for the alleged technical deficiency of the SMC bid is flimsy and can be contested in court. And that’s where SMC is going.

The reason: The validity of SMC’s disqualification security supposedly four days short of the required 180 days. SMC’s bankroller ANZ previously had certified that its bond was from June 2 to November 29, 2014. But, the next day was June 12, Independence Day, and SMC could not protest before the sealed bids were opened June 13. The bottomline is that the government lost P8.45 billion due to clerical error. When SMC goes to the Supreme Court, we can expect delays. And if at the end, SMC gets the CALAX contract, we can expect Ayala and Aboitiz to also go to court. That could mean further delays. I don’t know why the Aquino administration courts controversies to delay PPP projects, like the Mactan-Cebu International Airport that had been sued before the Supreme Court. Sure, rules are rules, but the SMC typographical error could have been corrected before the bid opening. I’m not saying that Singson was biased in favor of Ayala. But there was still time for SMC to correct its typo error. Something smells fishy here.‐the‐sandiganbayan/                               

BOC files P120‐M smuggling raps vs 2 importers, customs brokers June 23, 2014 3:45 pm   The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Monday filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ) smuggling cases amounting to Php120 million against officials of two Binondo-based import companies and their licensed customs brokers.Charged were Jose Alingasa Jr., owner and proprietor of Titan Movers Enterprises (Titan), and customs broker Mon Carlo Inciong.The case arose from the importation of three 20-foot container vans of what Titan declared as “steel coils” imported from Australia last February. The shipment was placed under an Alert Order based on derogatory information. Also charged were Ma. Rosalia Quiambao, owner, proprietor and general manager of Fort-Jhorel International Trading (Fort-Jhorel), and customs broker Henry Villa. The case arose from Fort-Jhorel’s importation of three 40-foot container vans with footwear bearing fake brands such as Nike, Havaianas, Abercrombie, Hush Puppies, Sandugo, Nathaniel, Sanuk, Disney and Happy Feet.The shipment was declared as packages containing eye glasses, paper box, stationery pads, Happy Feet rubber shoes, men’s and ladies’ leather shoes and slippers.In a press conference, BOC Commissioner John P. Sevilla said that they charged the officials of the two import companies and their customs brokers for the illegal importation of steel coils and counterfeit footwear worth over P120 million. Sevilla said that they filed the complaints of violation of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP), Republic Act No. 4109, or the “Bureau of Products Standards Law”, and Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) against Alingasa and Inciong. “Titan obviously misdeclared, misdescribed and misclassified its importation of specialized steel products to avoid paying correct duties and taxes,” Sevilla said. “Titan did not obtain the required Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) certificate for its importation. Even if the firm imported specific types of steel products, it does not exclude them from complying with the law to get your product tested and certified first,” he added. Sevilla said that they charged Fort-Jhorel and its customs broker for violating the TCCP, RA No. 8293, or the “Intellectual Property Code of the Philippine”, and the RPC. PNA‐files‐p‐20‐m‐smuggling‐raps‐vs‐2‐ importers‐customs‐brokers/   

‘Habagat’ brings intermittent rains over western section of Luzon, Visayas June 23, 2014 11:08 am   The western section of Luzon and Visayas will continue to experience occasional rains on Monday, due to the effects of the southwest monsoon or “hanging habagat”, according to Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). The southwest monsoon or “hanging habagat” — which is associated with the occurrence of intermittent to continuous rains — is the prevailing wind system during the rainy season. For Monday forecast, PAGASA said Panay Island and the provinces of Zambales, Bataan, Mindoro and Palawan will experience occasional rains while the rest of the country including Metro Manila will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms. It added moderate to strong winds coming from the southwest will prevail over Luzon and its coastal waters will be moderate to rough. Light to moderate winds blowing from the southwest will prevail over Visayas and from the southwest to west over Mindanao with slight to moderate seas. Meanwhile, PAGASA weather forecaster Buddy Javier said they are not anticipating any weather disturbance to develop into tropical cyclone that will affect the country until Wednesday. Javier said PAGASA still expects one to two more storms to hit the country before the end of the month. He noted that the next tropical cyclone that will visit the country will be named “Florita.” Next month, he said the state weather bureau is expecting three to four storms to hit the country. Every year, an average of about 18 to 20 storms affect the Philippines, according to the PAGASA. PNA‐brings‐intermittent‐rains‐over‐western‐section‐of‐ luzon‐visayas/106100/       

Money supply slowdown to temper Q3 inflation June 23, 2014 9:49 pm   by Mayvelin U. Caraballo Reporter MONEY supply growth is expected to slow further in the third quarter of this year, thanks to the central bank’s recent tightening bias, which should help tame inflation and keep the financial system stable.According to a joint report by First Metro Investments Corp. (FMIC) and the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P), the recent hike in banks’ reserve requirement ratio (RRR) will mop up excess domestic liquidity by the third quarter of this year.“Money growth will likely ease further, partly due to base effects and partly due to the 2014 hikes in reserve requirements, toward the 15 percent to 20 percent range by June and decelerate faster in the third quarter,” FMIC and UA&P said in the June issue of The Market Call.At its March 27 monetary policy meeting, the Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) decided to increase the RRR for banks to 19 percent, raising it further to 20 percent at its May 8 meeting, in a bid to siphon off excess liquidity from the financial system.On June 19, the BSP’s policy setting body kept its key rate unchanged but raised the rate on the special deposit account (SDA) facility by 25 basis points to 2.25 percent.Raising the SDA rate is seen as a prudent hedge against price or stability risks caused by excess liquidity in the financial system. The BSP said that the Monetary Board’s latest decision to adjust the SDA rate was meant to counter risks to price and financial stability that could emanate from ample liquidity, noting that a modest upward adjustment in interest rates would be prudent amid robust credit growth. The Monetary Board also believes that solid domestic growth prospects allow some scope for a measured adjustment in the SDA rate to ensure that monetary and credit conditions continue to be appropriate.The SDA facility is a tool that the BSP uses to manage excess liquidity in the financial system. Raising the interest rate in general encourages higher bank deposits in the SDA facility and helps to counter inflation by isolating some money from the financial system.Monetary authorities have been closely monitoring liquidity growth because of its impact on domestic inflation.The central bank is targeting inflation to be within a range of 3 percent to 5 percent in 2014, and 2 percent to 4 percent in 2015. For this year, inflation is projected to average 4.4 percent, factoring in potential price pressures emanating from a possible uptick in food prices as a result of changing weather conditions, and from pending petitions for adjustments in power rates.‐supply‐slowdown‐to‐temper‐q3‐inflation/106214/     

Philippines posts highest milled rice output growth among all rice‐ producing countries – US report June 23, 2014 9:33 pm   by James Konstantin Galvez THE Philippines posted the highest percentage increase in milled rice production among all riceproducing countries over the past five years, the Department of Agriculture (DA) reported on Monday. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, citing a report by the United States Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Service, said milled rice production in the Philippines grew by an average 5.05 percent from 2009 to 2014. The country’s average growth performance for the period is followed by Egypt, at 4.85 percent growth; India, 4.29 percent; Cambodia, 3.94 percent; and Bangladesh, 2.80 percent. In terms of average ending stocks, the Philippines was reported to have 2.3 million metric tons (MT) of milled rice for the same period. This reflected a minimal (-0.07 percent) decline in stocks, the lowest average rate among all countries. The highest percentage change in ending stocks was posted by Thailand, at 25.82 percent for the five-year period. The same USDA report also indicated that average rice consumption in the Philippines declined by half a percentage point (-0.52 percent) during the period. The average annual consumption of milled rice was estimated at 12.917 million MT, which is 18.85 percent higher than the 10.867 million MT consumed for the period. Other countries with declining average consumption include South Korea (-0.25 percent), Burma (-0.83 percent), and Brazil (-1.25 percent). The highest average percentage increase in terms of consumption was posted by Nigeria at 8.71 percent, followed by Vietnam (3.05 percent), India (2.95 percent), Cambodia (2.79 percent), and Bangladesh (2.31 percent). Alcala said that the latest USDA report proves that the government’s push for self-sufficiency in rice is gaining headway, adding that they expect to achieve this feat before the end of the Aquino administration. Critics earlier said that rice sufficiency in the Philippines is unlikely within the next 10 years, citing geographical conditions, lack of agriculture infrastructure and the failed implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

As of 2013, the Philippines is already at 96 percent self-sufficiency based on a study of rice production, per capita consumption, and population. This is significantly higher compared to the 82 percent sufficiency level in 2010. “We were able to achieve this despite removing the subsidies to rice farmers,” the DA chief stressed. “Ang masasabi ko lang po ay ito ang katotohanan at hindi tatayo susuko hanggat’ hindi natin nakakamit ang kasapatan sa bigas,” [This is the truth and we will not give up until we have achieved self-sufficiency in rice], he added. Filipino rice farmers produced 18.44 million MT of rice in 2013, up by 2.3 percent from the previous year, attributed to wider irrigation coverage and increased farmers’ adoption of certified and hybrid seeds. In the first three months of 2014, rice output expanded by 3.28 percent or 4.3 million MT from the 4.17 million MT during the same period last year. Based on the latest estimates of the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, the Philippine rice production is expected to increase 6.8 percent to 8.541 million MT in January to June 2014, from 7.997 million MT a year ago. “The probable increase in production is due to improvement in yield, particularly in the major rice-producing areas of Nueva Ecija, Davao del Norte, and Kalinga as a result of sufficient water supply during the period,” DA Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Edilberto De Luna said. From April to June 2014, rough rice production is expected to hit 4.015 million MT, or 4.9 percent higher than the 3.827 million MT last year. Initial estimate was pegged at 4.002 million MT.‐posts‐highest‐milled‐rice‐output‐growth‐among‐all‐ rice‐producing‐countries‐us‐report/106202/                 

WTO extends PH farmer‐friendly rice import limits by 5 years June 23, 2014 9:29 pm   by James Konstantin Galvez Reporter AFTER two years of negotiations with the World Trade Organization (WTO), Manila has finally acquired a five-year extension of its quantitative restriction (QR) on imported rice, which should protect local farmers from an influx of cheap imports of the grain, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Monday. “By July this year, we will [be] implementing a new round of QR,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala told a media briefing. Alcala said they expect the Committee on Trade in Goods to endorse to the WTO General Council the Philippine request to extend until 2017 its QR. “This is just for formality,” he added. Manila has been consistently lobbying with its neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and with its major trading partners for an extension of the trade restriction. At present, only South Korea and the Philippines make use of the QR. The QR sets a 40 percent tariff on imported rice under the Minimum Access Volume (MAV) while imports outside the MAV are slapped a tariff of 50 percent. As in previous bids to extend the QR, Manila offered other rice-producing countries certain trade concessions, such as greater access to the Philippine market of other products. “This time around, there were no major requests from interested countries for market access. However, there will be a slight increase in the minimum access volume, and tariff rate for rice among Asean member countries will be brought down to just 35 percent, while non-Asean countries will remain at 40 percent,” Alcala said. The DA chief, however, did not specify the new volume for MAV, noting that the Philippine panel at the WTO has yet to disclose the figures. Under the previous agreement with the WTO, Manila has committed to a MAV of about 350,000 metric tons (MT) of rice, with tariff rate of 40 percent. MAV refers to the minimum volume of farm produce allowed to enter into the Philippines at reduced tariffs, while shipments outside MAV pay higher rates of 50 percent and would need approval by the National Food Authority.

Under the MAV, Manila has a country-specific quota for Thailand (98,000 MT), China (25,000 MT), India (25,000 MT), and Australia (15,000 MT). The remaining 187,000 MT were classified as the omnibus minimum access volume, which can be accessed from any country. Meanwhile, Alcala said until 2017, the Department of Agriculture has lined up programs to boost palay production and prepare local farmers to be globally competitive. Most notable of these programs is the “Palayabangan: 10-5 Challenge” that enforced the 10-5 standard wherein farmers must produce 10 tons of rice per hectare while spending only P5 worth of input for every kilogram of rice produced. “The Palayabangan is a concrete example of how DA prepares local farmers for Asean integration in 2015,” he said. Alcala cited initial estimates by PhilRice, which showed that paddy rice production in the Philippines costs higher compared to Thailand and Vietnam. “If our farmers achieve 10-5, they will still gain even if rice is priced at P10 a kilo. It is important to control the cost of input because the cost of rice production in the Philippines came out to be P11 per kilo while other Southeast Asian countries spend P8 or lower,” he added. Under the 10-5 standard, Alcala said that farmers would be able to compete globally and in the long-term help minimize smuggling and importation.‐extends‐ph‐farmer‐friendly‐rice‐import‐limits‐by‐5‐ years/106197/                     

Killing the coconut industry to save it? June 23, 2014 9:20 pm   Ben D. Kritz I WAS disappointed, but not particularly surprised, to read the allegations of bureaucratic nonsense being carried out by the new overlords of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), as detailed in Marlen Ronquillo’s column on Sunday (“While the agri sector burns, the new sheriff’s focus is elsewhere,” June 22). The party of the PCA’s new boss, former senator and now quasi-Secretary of Agriculture Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, has apparently put more time into quibbling over office locations, paint colors, and which vacant jobs can be assigned to friends and relatives than addressing the stillexpanding disaster the coconut industry is experiencing. We can get some sense that the charges made by Mr. Ronquillo’s source in the PCA are probably true from an uproar that exploded from within the coconut industry on Sunday evening. Although finding someone to confirm the action has proven difficult (three different sources, two at the PCA and one at the Department of Agriculture, answered my question with “yes,” “no,” and “I don’t know, but I also heard the same thing, so I think so,” respectively), the PCA has apparently clamped a quarantine on the entire Calabarzon region or is planning to do so this week. The embargo will prohibit the movement of any coconut products out of the region in an effort to keep the dreaded coconut scale insect epidemic from spreading. The quarantine is authorized by Executive Order 169, which establishes “emergency measures to control and manage the spread and damage of Aspidiotus rigidus [i.e., the coconut scale insect] in the Philippines and designating the Philippine Coconut Authority as the lead agency for the purpose.” It was signed by President Aquino on June 5, but only now, nearly three weeks later, has any large-scale action gotten underway. In the meantime, the infestation has continued to spread; more than a week ago, this newspaper and others reported that the pest had appeared in Zamboanga, apparently carried there from heavily-infested Basilan, and there have been unconfirmed reports of small outbreaks in other parts of the country. The lead agency, apparently busier with more important things like office decorations, is simply not moving fast enough to make any progress against the infestation. That’s the first problem. The second problem is that the action preferred by the PCA, the application of neonico–tinoid pesticide through trunk injection, is of highly questionable value. The coconut farmers themselves, almost without exception, are violently opposed to it; there are even rumors that some farmers have declared that they will prevent agriculture officials from attempting the treatment on their farms—with force, if necessary. With the imposition of a quarantine, however, there is a grave concern that farmers will be blackmailed into accepting the pesticide treatment, being banned from transporting or selling any coconut products until they submit to the chemical procedure.

And the blackmail will be easy, because as soon as the quarantine is imposed, the livelihood for coconut farmers—meager enough under normal circumstances—instantly evaporates. And it is not only the coconut farmers that will be affected but an entire chain of secondary producers as well. The highly-touted coconut water business, coconut oil extractors, vinegar makers, distributors of coco lumber and coconut husk fiber, lambanog distillers, and even makers of the buko pie Laguna province is famous for will all find themselves out of work, at least temporarily (the most-often mentioned time frame for the quarantine is six months to a year), and so far, the only plan to address that potential—nay, inevitable—economic calamity is a vague mention of “livelihood programs” that may or may not actually exist. What is infuriating not only to the coconut industry but to anyone else with even a basic ability to use Google for casual research is that the government is pushing a pesticide treatment that is expensive, difficult to carry out correctly, and requires the use of chemicals that have been banned outright in some places, most notably the European Union. According to one researcher, formerly with the University of Minnesota and now employed with the State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture (he asked that his name not be used, as he had not gotten authorization from his agency to speak to the media), the method being used to apply neonicotinoid pesticides by the PCA is probably ineffective. “We do use it for very serious problems, but it’s considered a last resort,” he explained. “It is effective on some coconut pests, but there are two problems. First, they have to make sure they’re using the right pesticide in the right concentration, because not every type works on every pest. Let’s assume they’ve figured that out, though. The second problem is with the injection method. It permanently damages the tree, for one thing, because coconuts are monocots [i.e., they do not have rings in the trunk], so the hole doesn’t heal. So there’s a risk of different pests or fungal infections entering. And the depth of the injection must be very precise to put the pesticide in the layer that carries water to the upper part of the tree. If it’s too deep, the pesticide remains in the trunk and doesn’t do anything.” I referred him to a YouTube video showing a clip from one of the local news networks, in which the injection method was being demonstrated. “If that’s what they’re doing [using a large auger bit to drill a hole that appeared to be a couple inches deep], they are wasting their time and damaging their trees,” the researcher said. “Granted, this is just my opinion from hearing you describe what’s going on and seeing a video. But it certainly looks like there is reason to be very concerned.” So the plan of attack by the government is to completely close down a primary agricultural industry in five provinces (and with it a half-dozen supported industries), and combat the epidemic using a method which is at best expensive, complicated, and risky. Killing the coconut industry will certainly end the coconut scale infection, so in the literal sense, EO 169 is being faithfully carried out. The coconut sector and the big chunk of the economy it supports, however, would probably be better served by the application of a little more imagination.‐the‐coconut‐industry‐to‐save‐it/106216/ 

RED TIDE ALERT UP IN THREE PROVINCES June 23, 2014 10:25 pm   THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has issued a warning against eating shellfish gathered from the coastal waters of Bataan, Mandaon in Masbate, and Irong-Irong Bay in Western Samar which were tested positive for red tide toxin. BFAR Director Asis Perez said laboratory tests results showed that shellfish and “alamang” harvested from the Bataan coastal waters (Mariveles, Limay, Orion, Pilar, Balanga, Orani, Abucay and Samal), as well as Mandaon in Masbate and Irong-Irong Bay in Western Samar are not safe to eat. He said fish, squids and crabs are safe to eat provided that they are fresh and washed thoroughly, and internal organs such as gills and intestines are removed before cooking. PNA‐tide‐alert‐up‐in‐three‐provinces/106276/                             

Posted on June 23, 2014 11:08:16 PM

Import limits on rice to be extended THE PHILIPPINES, one of the world’s biggest rice buyers, expects to keep quantitative  restriction on purchases of the grain in place until 2017 after winning international support, a  Cabinet official yesterday said.  A woman sets up sacks of rice in many varieties in front of her stall in a market in Manila. BW  file photo   Talks in Geneva between the Philippines and concerned     countries were “successful” and a formal approval by the World  Trade Organization (WTO) of the extension of import  restrictions could come as early as July, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said.    “We have secured it already,” he told reporters, referring to the country’s bid to maintain high  tariffs on rice, which should have expired ‐‐ after an earlier five‐year extension ‐‐ in 2012.    Mr. Alcala said the petition was approved by the WTO Committee on Trade in Goods, which  would be endorsing it to the Geneva‐based organization’s general council.    “Our negotiators have succeeded,” he said, adding that “between now and 2017, we will still  have control over rice that will enter the country”.    This will allow for an increase in the minimum access volume (MAV) and the continued  imposition of a 40% tariff on imports within the 350,000 metric ton MAV and 50% outside of  the quota, Mr. Alcala said.    He did not say by how much the MAV would be increased.    In line with the Association of Southeast Asian Nation’s economic integration plan, meanwhile,  rice sourced from within the region would be slapped with a 35% levy. The Philippines imports  most of its rice from fellow ASEAN member Vietnam, the world’s number two exporter of the  grain after India.    Removing the restrictions has been a hot trade issue in the Philippines, with the government  pushing to keep the high tariffs to protect local farmers despite the country’s commitment to  support the removal of global trade barriers. 

In April, the WTO said the Philippines had asked for a waiver of its commitment to open its rice  market, with Indonesia, India, Vietnam and China supporting the request. At that time,  Thailand, Canada, Australia and the United States were still consulting with the Philippines, the  WTO said in a notice posted on its website.    Critics of President Benigno S. C. Aquino III’s rice import policy blame the restrictions for the  rampant smuggling of the national staple into the country.    The past six months saw the government’s grains procurement agency, the National Food  Authority, buying a total of 1.3 million tons of Vietnamese rice tariff free, its biggest purchase  since 2010, to boost dwindling stockpiles and curb increases in local prices.    The government failed to meet its end‐2013 rice inventory and self‐sufficiency targets and  blamed natural calamities last year, including a super typhoon, for the tight local supply. ‐‐ main  report by Reuters‐limits‐on‐rice‐ to‐be‐extended&id=89679                         

Posted on June 23, 2014 09:48:06 PM

Malversation charges filed vs former solons INVESTIGATORS from the Office of the Ombudsman filed malversation and graft charges  against former Nueva Ecija Rep. Rodolfo W. Antonino, and former Isabela Rep. Anthony  Miranda as well as former Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary and current Bohol Rep.  Arthur C. Yap for their alleged connection in the disbursement of public funds to fake  nongovernment organizations (NGOs).  In a statement, the Field Investigation Office (FIO) of the Office     of the Ombudsman found probable cause to file formal  complaints against Mr. Antonino for allegedly allotting P15  million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to the DA through a Special  Allotment Release Order (SARO) for the Integrated Livelihood Project for Nueva Ecija.    Based on the investigation, Mr. Antonino asked Mr. Yap to allegedly transfer the funds to the  National Agribusiness Corp. (NABCOR).    After the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) issued a Notice of Cash Allocation  (NCA) to the DA, a memorandum of agreement (MoA) was signed with the NABCOR on March  7, 2007. Following the MoA, a disbursement voucher was then issued to NABCOR on March 9  and was disbursed through a check drawn from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) on  March 16.  The FIO revealed that prior to the MoA signing, the NABCOR had entered into another MoA  with Buhay Mo Mahal Ko Foundation, Inc. (BMMKFI).    Former NABCOR president Alan Javellana released payments to the BMMKFI on the request of  Mr. Antonino for the Nueva Ecija livelihood project.    The BMMKFI procured from CC Barredo Publishing House 7,275 Livelihood Technology Kits  priced at P2,000 apiece, for a total price of P14.6 million.    In a list of project beneficiaries by Mr. Antonino, the livelihood kits were distributed to Gapan  City, and six municipalities including San Isidro, General Tinio, Cabiao, Jaen, Peñaranda and San  Leonardo.   

Investigators stated in the complaint that “the project is inexistent” because local government  unit (LGU) officials said that they did not receive the livelihood sets.    Likewise, beneficiaries of the livelihood project were not included in a liquidation report  prepared by the office of Mr. Antonino.  Based on the report of the Commission on Audit (CoA), the funds released for the project are  “unliquidated in full.” The Office of the Ombudsman will put Messrs. Antonino, Yap and  Javellana under preliminary investigation, including NABCOR officials Encarnita Cristina  Munsod, Rhodora Mendoza and Maria Niñez Guanizo, BMMKFI President Marilou Antonio, and  CC Barredo General Manager Carmelita Barredo.  Meanwhile, investigators found that Mr. Miranda released P21 million from his SARO from  2007 to 2009 to Aksyon Makamasa Foundation, Inc. (AMFI), of which he acted as chairman.    The funds were released on Jan. 15 and Feb. 23 in 2007 through the Technology and Resource  Center (TRC) for livelihood programs in Isabela.    On Feb. 8, 2007, Mr. Miranda requested P10 million to be given to the AMFI to which the DBM  responded by giving an NCA to the TRC on Feb. 13.    TRC then requested the release of P9.5 million, while citing a MoA between the TRC and the  AMFI which grants P500,000 to the TRC for the procurement of livelihood materials, livelihood  training and service fees for the implementation of livelihood projects compiled in a set of  documents.  TRC Group Manager Francisco Figura and TRC General Manager Antonio Ortiz signed the  documents on the same day.    Investigators found that the MoA was signed only on March 12. On the same day, Mr. Miranda  requested another P11 million to be given to AMFI and released an endorsement letter with  details on agro‐farming and livestock seminars, distribution of farming seeds and livelihood  training materials, among others.    TRC Group Manager Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana urged the release of P10.6 million, citing a new  MoA with AMFI.  On March 30, AMFI Chairman Edison Sabio inked a MoA on the second project with Mr. Ortiz  and Mr. Miranda. “The two MoAs were filled with irregularities, such as lack of identified  beneficiaries...,” investigators said in a statement. ‐‐ Jacqueline P. Miranda‐charges‐ filed‐vs‐former‐solons&id=89659 

Posted on June 23, 2014 09:47:36 PM By Mikhail Franz E. Flores, Reporter

Import firms sued for alleged smuggling of steel coils, shoes THE BUREAU of Customs (BoC) yesterday sued import firms and their respective brokers for the alleged  smuggling of counterfeit footwear and steel coils into the country.  The BoC, in press release, said Ma. Rosalia O. Quiambao of Fort‐   Jhorel International Trading and broker Henry R. Villa were sued for  allegedly importing P107 million worth of counterfeit footwear into    the country, contained in three container vans which arrived at the  Manila International Container Port (MICP) in March this year.    “The shipment was declared as packages containing eye glasses, paper box, stationery pads, Happy Feet  rubber shoes, men’s and ladies’ leather shoes and slippers,” the BoC said.    Ms. Quiambao and Mr. Villa were sued for alleged violations of the Tariffs and Customs Code of the  Philippines for unlawful importation and fraudulent practices against customs revenue as well as for  violating the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.    Titan Movers Enterprise, on the other hand, allegedly misdeclared a specialized form of steel in order to  escape higher import duties.    The firm declared a “steel coil” importation in three 20‐foot container vans imported from Australia in  February this year in the Port of Manila.    The shipments were assessed with a P13.07 million value, inclusive of dutiable value.    BoC examination, however, revealed two of the containers had “Bluescope Steel with Galvalume  markings” while the third had “Bluescope Steel with Zincalume” markings.    Both are special types of steel used for roofing and sidings, and are levied higher import duties.    “Titan obviously misdeclared, misdescribed and misclassified its importation of specialized steel  products to avoid paying the correct duties and taxes. Furthermore, Titan did not obtain the required  import commodity clearance (ICC) certificate for its importation,” Commissioner John P. Sevilla was  quoted as saying in the press release.   

Thus, the firm’s owner, Jose Alingasa, Jr., and broker Mon Carlo Incion were sued for violating Republic  Act 4019 or the Bureau of Product Standards Law, the Tariffs and Customs Code of the Philippines and  for falsifying documents.    Titan, the Customs bureau said, was among the 70 firms suspended last March for failing to comply on  filing import documents.    SMUGGLED RICE  Meanwhile, a former trade undersecretary yesterday asked the Supreme Court (SC) to dismiss a Davao  Judge for allegedly encroaching on the Customs bureau’s power to seize suspected smuggled rice  shipments.    Ernesto M. Ordoñez, who is now chairman of Alyansa Agrikultura, said in a 24‐page complaint Judge  Emmanuel C. Carpio overstepped his authority for issuing an order which effectively stopped the  Customs bureau to seize smuggled rice imported in the Port of Davao.    “Respondent (Mr. Carpio) is guilty of gross ignorance of the law and must be dismissed from service,”  Mr. Ordoñez said in the complaint.    Mr. Carpio, the Presiding Judge of the Davao City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 16, stopped the BoC  from seizing the rice shipments of Starcraft International Trading Corp., which was later sold to Joseph  M. Ngo.    The case stemmed from the Customs bureau’s order last Nov. 5, 2013 to hold over 3.3 tons of rice  owned by Starcraft for lacking the requisite special permits from the National Food Authority (NFA).    The order prompted Mr. Ngo to ask for a writ of preliminary injunction before the Davao RTC to stop the  BoC from holding Mr. Ngo’s rice shipments.    Mr. Carpio then issued a preliminary injunction a month later against the Port of Davao’s District  Collector.    Mr. Ordoñez said the Customs bureau was denied of due process when the Davao Judge issued an  injunction even if the former was not properly represented in the proceedings.    The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura, Inc. (Sinag), an organization composed of 33 agriculture  federations and organizations, has filed a similar complaint against Mr. Carpio for “unjust judgment.”‐firms‐sued‐for‐ alleged‐smuggling‐of‐steel‐coils,‐shoes&id=89658   

Posted on June 23, 2014 09:52:46 PM

P6 billion earmarked for irrigation THE GOVERNMENT will release some P6 billion for small irrigation projects nationwide by next  week, the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (PAFSAM)  said on Monday, adding that the specific projects to receive  funding are yet to be determined.  “We’re also releasing an additional P6 billion next week ... in  various parts of the country,” PAFSAM Francis “Kiko” N.    Pangilinan said in an interview in Manila on Monday.    Mr. Pangilinan also said that the government is still in the process of identifying which projects  and exactly how many will receive portions, and that the state will go through documents  received just this past weekend.    He noted that because two‐thirds of the country’s more than 4 million hectares of rice land is  rain‐fed, they can only be planted in once a year, unlike the irrigated 1.4 million hectares that  can yield the ideal two‐and‐a‐half harvests annually, thus increasing farmers’ income.    “So what we’re doing for the next two years, we will be sitting down to strategize how to  increase, really, hectarage of irrigated lands,” he said, adding that the state is also going to help  farmers lower production costs via support services and market access.    President Benigno S. C. Aquino III in May appointed Mr. Pangilinan as PAFSAM ‐‐ a position with  Cabinet rank ‐‐ giving him the reins of four Department of Agriculture (DA) attached agencies,  including the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).    “The NIA has the money, and medyo may sakit ng ulo si Presidente diyan sa NIA, kaya tinanggal  ho niya yung dating administrador, and hindi siya masaya dahil ang mga records, ‘yung mga  programa, ay pinaiimbestigahan pa nga (The NIA has the money, and the President has  something of a headache there with the NIA, which is why he removed the former  administrator, and he isn’t pleased since the records, the programs, are even still being  investigated),” Mr. Pangilinan said noted.    Almost a year ago, Mr. Aquino had appointed current NIA Head Claro V. Maranan for a one‐ year term after refusing to renew former Administrator Antonio S. Nangel’s tenure.   

Speaking at the NIA during its anniversary celebration in June 2013, Mr. Aquino chided the  agency for failing to meet its targets, hitting accomplishment rates of just 56%, 40% and 66% in  2005, 2006, and 2009, respectively.    Mr. Pangilinan also said out that the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), last  Thursday, had approved changes to details of the “big‐ticket” Casecnan Multipurpose Irrigation  and Power Project ‐‐ Irrigation Component in Nueva Ecija and the Umayam River Irrigation  Project (URIP) in Agusan del Sur.    The Office of the President noted on its Web site on Friday that the NEDA Board ‐‐ headed by  Mr. Aquino ‐‐ approved shifting of funding sources for both projects to local funding, which is  expected to lower project costs to P5.45 billion from P7.61 billion for the Casecnan project and  P1.4 billion from P1.56 billion for the URIP. ‐‐ Anton Joshua M. Santos‐billion‐earmarked‐ for‐irrigation&id=89668                             

Posted on June 23, 2014 09:51:26 PM

Philippines milled rice production growth said biggest AGRICULTURE Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said that among all rice‐producing countries, the  Philippines recorded the highest percentage increase in milled  rice production.  Citing a report by the United States Department of Agriculture ‐‐ Foreign Agricultural Service,  Mr. Alcala said that the country’s milled rice yield grew by an average of 5.05% from 2009 to  2014.    The country’s performance is followed by that of Egypt (4.85%), India (4.29%), Cambodia  (3.94%), and Bangladesh (2.80%).    Meanwhile, according to the USDA report, average rice consumption in the Philippines declined  0.52% in the period. The average annual consumption of milled rice was recorded at 12.917  million metric tons (MT) in the five‐year period.    In 2013, local rice farmers produced a total of 18.44 million MT of rice, 2.3% up from 2012. This  was attributed to wider irrigation coverage as well as increased farmers’ adoption of certified  and hybrid seeds.    Mr. Alcala added that the latest USDA report proves that the rice self‐sufficiency target is in  sight will achieved by the end of President Benigno S.C. Aquino III’s term.    Based on a study considering the interplay of rice production, per capita consumption, and  population, the Philippines is already at 96% self‐sufficiency as of 2013, compared with the 82%  percent self‐sufficiency in 2010, the Agriculture department has said.    Mr. Alcala said that despite removing subsidies to farmers, the country was still able to achieve  this.    In the first quarter this year, rice output was recorded at 4.3 million MT, up by 3.28% from the  4.17 million MT of the same period in 2013.    Philippine rice production is set to have increased 6.8% to 8.541 million MT in the first half from 

the 7.997 million MT of 2013, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority ‐‐ Bureau of  Agricultural Statistics.    Agriculture Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Edilberto M. De Luna said that the increase  in production would be a result of sufficient water supply during the period.    Rough rice production for the April‐June period is expected to reach 4.015 million MT, or  4.9%more than in the same period last year. Initial estimates hit 4.002 million MT.    Meanwhile the National Food Authority (NFA) may import to replenish buffer stocks of rice  beyond the next harvest in September, as the agency seeks to control rice prices by releasing  more of the grain to markets.    “We are now looking at the need to replenish our buffer stock, pero in terms of supply or  availability sa ngayon, hindi problem ang supply (but in terms of availability or supply at this  time, supply is not a problem),” Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural  Modernization (PAFSAM) Francis “Kiko” N. Pangilinan said at a media forum in Manila on  Monday. ‐‐ J.V.D. Cabuenas with a report from AJMS‐milled‐rice‐ production‐growth‐said‐biggest&id=89665                       

Posted on June 23, 2014 09:51:52 PM

‘Sin’ tax take breaches target A YEAR and a half since the start of the “sin” tax law’s implementation, actual incremental  revenues for 2013 have exceeded the projected target, and there are 3.2 million fewer  smokers given the higher excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco products, according to speakers  at a conference on Monday.  According to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), the     government has collected P51.2 billion in incremental revenues  from alcohol and tobacco products, 51% more than the  projected P34 billion.    In 2013, excise tax collections went up by 111% over 2012 from P32.2 billion to P67.9 billion,  while the volume of removals declined by 900 million packs from 5.8 billion packs in 2012.    “Apart from the significant excise tax rate increases on alcohol and tobacco products, the said  reform corrected major structural inequities in the old tax system, leveled the playing field in  the tobacco industry, effectively resulting to a fair market competition, efficiency and higher  revenues for the government,” BIR Commissioner Kim Jacinto‐Henares said during the Katas ng  Sin Tax national conference.    “RA (Republic Act) 10351, as envisioned, the ‘Sin’ Tax Law, while primarily a health measure  twinned with a revenue objective, is fundamentally more of a good governance measure given  its initial success for both public health and fiscal health,” Ms. Henares added.    The 57% increase in the budget of the Department of Health (DoH) for 2014, P83.7 billion from  53.3 billion last year, was attributed to the impact of the law.    Meanwhile, according to the National Nutrition and Health Survey, there are about 3.2 million  fewer smokers in the country, given a decline to 25.4% smoking prevalence from 31% of adult  Filipinos.    “There are 3.2 million less smokers in the country today because of the law; it is a huge  number... the drop is partly from people who stopped smoking, but it is mostly from people  who avoid smoking,” Philippine Society of General Internal Medicine President Antonio Miguel  L. Dans said.   

“Benefits are greatest in price‐sensitive population, including the poor, rural area, the very old  and the very young,” he added.    Results from the DoH‐commissioned Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, conducted March  27‐30, likewise showed a decrease��in smoking prevalence among poor and the youth.    According to the report posted on the SWS Web site, 45% of smokers switched to another  brand when cigarette prices increased.    However, the survey also reported that 55% of Filipinos agreed that an increase in cigarette  prices in 2013 helped lower the number of smokers.    Mr. Dans said the “sin” tax law is “a revenue bill being disguised as health bill.”    “The higher the sin tax increase, the greater the revenue and the lower the prevalence of  smoking,” he emphasized, adding that it would also depend on the “sensitivity” of the market.    Before the passage of RA 10351, only 18 provinces were beneficiaries of the revenues from  tobacco products. Now, all provinces receive funding from the government’s “sin” tax take.    According to Social Watch Philippines Lead Convenor Leonor M. Briones, the “sin” tax is an  example of earmarking in which taxes raised from cigarettes, wines, alcohol and spirit are  reserved for health‐related services.    FCTC Alliance of the Philippine Executive Director Dr. Maricar Limpin noted some of the tobacco  industry’s tactics include intelligence gathering, public relations, public funding, lobbying,  funding research, creating alliances, intimidation and corporate social responsibility programs.    RA 10351 or “An Act Restructuring the Excise Tax on Alcohol and Tobacco Products” was signed  into law on Dec. 20, 2012 and became effective on Jan. 1, 2013.    Under the law, 15% of the tax collected will be used as a safety net for tobacco farmers who  would be affected by the measure while 85% would go to the DoH budget.    Out of the total health budget from the “sin” taxes, 80% is for the universal health care  program and 20%, for the enhancement of health facilities.    The objectives of the law are promoting better health outcomes by discouraging consumption 

of alcohol and tobacco products, raising revenues to fund the government’s health programs  and simplifying the tax structure for alcoholic and tobacco products.    For their part, a number of companies have blamed the continued enforcement of higher “sin”  tax rates for lower revenues.    LT Group, Inc., the parent company of Tanduay Distillers, Inc. and Fortune Tobacco Corp., saw  its first‐quarter gross revenue decrease 27.86% to P15 billion from P20.83 billion year‐on‐year.    The first‐quarter revenue contribution of its distilled spirits business went down 2% to P2.957  billion from P3.019 year on year, while the tobacco segment no longer brought in revenue after  it ceased manufacturing operations in January 2013.    “Total retail sales volumes for Spirits and Wine as reported by Nielsen (Philippines) declined by  5% versus the previous year, caused primarily by higher retail prices brought about by the  higher excise tax imposed on liquor products,” the firm noted in its 2013 annual report.    On the other hand, Emperador, Inc. said that passing on the tax payments to customers could  eventually result in decreased sales volume.    “Presently, EDI (Emperador Distillers, Inc.) passes these increasing tax payments to consumers  by increasing the prices of its products. However, there can be no assurance that EDI will, in the  future, continue to be able to raise the prices of its products and pass on to its customers  higher excise taxes, which could result in lower sales volume or lower margin,” the firm said in  its annual report.    Emperador saw its first quarter gross revenue rise 17% to P7.69 billion from P6.6 billion year on  year. ‐‐ Ailyn P. Galura with D.J. Magturo 0%99‐tax‐take‐breaches‐target&id=89666           

Posted on June 23, 2014 08:41:14 PM

Peso hardly budges on lack of drivers THE PESO barely moved against the dollar yesterday as traders continued to digest regulators’  moves last week, amid a lack of other fresh leads.  The peso closed at P43.795 to the greenback, a mere centavo     weaker than Friday’s finish of P43.785. It opened lower at  P43.82 but steadily gained in late session.    “The pair traded within a range of P43.74‐P43.85 in today’s session on the back of mixed  developments,” a trader interviewed by phone said.    The local currency was “pushed until P43.85 but peso bulls were quick to support the peso after  last week’s developments ‐ Fed being dovish and BSP’s (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) SDA  (special deposit account) rate hike move,” the trader said.    MetisEtrade currency analyst Cherica Y. Vicente echoed the trader’s comments.    “There wasn’t much volatility as investors may still be gauging the value of their dollar after the  Federal Reserve and the BSP decision last week,” Ms. Vicente said in an email.    At its June 19 policy meeting, the BSP hiked the rate it pays banks through its SDA facility citing  an elevated outlook on inflation.    The inflation forecast for 2014 was raised to 4.4% from 4.3%, while that for next year was hiked  to 3.7%, from 3.4%. The central bank’s inflation target ranges for this year and the next are 3‐ 5% and 2‐4%, respectively.    SDA rates across all tenors were increased by 25 basis points to 2.25%.     The rates were last adjusted in 2013, via three consecutive 50‐basis‐point cuts that ended in  April that year.    While the BSP left overnight borrowing and lending rates untouched at 3.5% and 5.5%,  respectively, for a 13th straight meeting, traders had said that the SDA rate hike signals the  regulator is still on track towards further monetary tightening.   

In the US, meanwhile, earlier bets on hawkishness from the Fed following its two‐day policy  meeting proved off the mark, as the event ended with the US central bank giving dovish  remarks instead.    Data from Europe also affected trading yesterday, as “France, Germany and eurozone PMI  (purchasing managers index) were slightly below consensus,” the trader said.     That spurred some dollar‐buying, contributing to the peso’s initial weakness yesterday.    US data due last night could provide fresh leads for trading today.    “Tonight, a report on US home sales will be released. If the data on home sales is lower than  expected, the dollar may weaken against the peso tomorrow since this supports the Fed  decision to keep interest rates near zero,” Ms. Vicente said yesterday.     Elsewhere in Asian currency markets, the greenback bought 102.03 yen, holding on to gains it  made at the end of last week, when it stood at 102.06 yen in New York on Friday.    Once the US economy shows clear signs of recovery, US short‐term interest rates will likely  gain, giving a boost to the dollar against the yen, said Akira Moroga, manager of the forex  products group at Aozora Bank.     Until then, however, “market participants will likely watch each US economic indicator”, such as  gross domestic product data to be released on Wednesday, he told Dow Jones Newswires.    Gains on the Nikkei index in Tokyo were also providing support for the dollar. ‐‐ Raymund  Luther B. Aquino with AFP‐hardly‐budges‐on‐ lack‐of‐drivers&id=89650           

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