Philippines seeks Brunei’s help to develop halal industry By Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 19, 2016 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the country needs the expertise of Brunei in creating halal products that have to undergo certified halal procedures. BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Philippines is seeking the help of Brunei Darussalam in developing the halal industry, particularly in the certification aspect. Halal refers to meat prepared as prescribed by Muslim law. Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the country needs the expertise of Brunei in creating halal products that have to undergo certified halal procedures. “We really have good discussions with respect to exploring the immense opportunities in developing halal products,” Lopez said Monday. The trade and industry secretary was part of the delegation accompanying President Duterte on a three-day state visit in Brunei. “As you know, the estimated halal market in the world is about $2 trillion, and we all know the expertise of the Brunei nation with respect to halal certification,” Duterte said before going to Brunei. Brunei’s Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah received Duterte in formal ceremonies here with a 21-gun salute yesterday afternoon. The two heads of state also held bilateral talks at the Istana Nurul Iman, the sultan’s official residence and seat of the Brunei government.
Pointing out the government’s desire to maximize export of halal products, Lopez said: “We have our own certification in our country. However, as we try to put more emphasis in creating halal-certified products, we need the certification procedure, the credibility of the certification procedure, so that we can really export halal products.” He said a halal seal signifies quality and cleanliness. Lopez said the development of the Philippines’ halal industry was discussed during the President’s bilateral meeting with Bolkiah yesterday. Lopez said Brunei would help improve the Philippines’ certification procedures. He added the Philippines also has to develop halal-certified areas to entice more tourists into the country, saying halal-certified tourism has big earning potential for the Philippines. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/10/19/1635160/philippines-seeks-bruneis-help-develophalal-industry
Karen leaves P3 B in agri damage By Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 19, 2016 - 12:00am 0 3 googleplus0 0
Residents wade through floodwaters in Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija as Typhoon Karen battered Central Luzon, October 16, 2016. MICHAEL VARCAS MANILA, Philippines â€“ The cost of damage to agriculture in areas affected by typhoon Karen has risen to P3 billion with the rice sub-sector sustaining the most damage, the Department of Agriculture (DA) reported. As of 9 a.m. yesterday, total damages amounted to P2.97 billion covering 260,002 hectares of agricultural areas with an estimated production loss of 215,716 metric tons. Affected commodities are rice, corn, vegetables and livestock with regions 1, 3, 4A (Calabarzon) and 5 suffering severe losses and affecting about 80,000 farmers. Damage incurred on rice soared to P2.8 billion with 205,870 MT of production lost. Damaged were 260,002 hectares, of which 255,690 may still recover. Majority of rice losses were reported in Central Luzon with a total of P2.2 billion, particularly in Nueva Ecija and Tarlac. Losses incurred on corn crops reached P60.3 million with 4,651 MT of produce lost. Affected were 2,926 hectares, 2,580 hectares which may still recover. Severely affected was the Bicol Region with P40.5 million in losses for corn crops. The value of damage to vegetables is now placed at P106.4 million with 5,195 MT of produce lost. Affected were 2,828 hectares of cultivation area, 2,803 hectares of which have a chance of recovery. On the other hand, the livestock sub-sector sustained P124,250 in damages.
The DA is already preparing its resources to replace damage crops as early as possible and reminded affected farmers to acquire certifications from municipal agriculturists for them to receive replacement seeds. Complete damage assessment and validation of damages caused by Typhoon Karen remains ongoing, the DA said. Meanwhile, the DA is preparing for the possible onslaught of typhoon Lawin, which is expected to intensify into a super typhoon. Lawin (international name Haima) entered the Philippine area of responsibility yesterday afternoon. In a memorandum issued yesterday, the DA said it was already preparing its proactive response to typhoon Lawin which could affect agricultural areas in regions 1, 2 , 3, 4A, 5, and CAR. The agency directed regional offices to immediately activate their respective quick response centers and secure seed buffer stocks. Apart from this, the DA instructed its field offices to mobilize neighboring regions to provide necessary assistance to regions that may be affected. It also ordered close monitoring of PAGASA updates and the relocation of livestock that may be damaged. http://www.philstar.com/business/2016/10/19/1634896/karen-leaves-p3-b-agri-damage
20 more mine sites to lose MPSAs soon • •
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by Jonathan L. Mayuga - October 18, 2016 0 222 At least 20 more mining sites are expected to lose their license to operate soon, not on the basis of the environment department’s mining audit, but for being in declared protected areas (PAs). Director Theresa Mundita S. Lim of the Biodviersity Management Bureau (BMB) said records show more than 20 Mineral Production and Sharing Agreement (MPSAs) issued to various mining companies are within or encompassing declared PAs, threatening ecosystems of unique and threatened wildlife species. These mining sites—according to the recent policy pronouncement of Environment Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez—are likely to lose their MPSAs, as she said there will be “no more mining in any protected area.” The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said on Tuesday some of the PAs with active MPSAs are Mount Data National Park; Upper Agno River Basin Resources Reserve, Lower Agno Water Forest Reserve; Biak-na-Bato National Park Norwest Panay Peaninsula Natural Park; Palawan Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserve; Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape; Palawan Game Refuge and Bird Sanctuary covering the entire Province of Palawan; Tanon Strait Protected Seascape; Calabgan atershed Forest Reserve; Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape, Carac-an Watershed and Forest Reserve; Mainit Hotspring and Protected Landscape; and Mujada Bay Protected Landscape and Seascape.
There are also MPSAs that engulf or cover protected areas on the Islands of Dinagat, Hikdop, Sibate and Hanigad; and the Island of Awasan. Most of the mining companies with MPSAs are in the exploration phase. One of the companies that stand to lose their MPSAs for being in PAs is Hinatuan Mining Corp., a subsidiary of Nickel Asia Corp., which has a nickel mine on Manicani Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar. Recently, Lopez had ordered two mining operations on Homonhon Islands in Guiuan stopped. Mount Sinai Mining Exploration and Development Corp. and Emir Mineral Resources Corp. on Homonhon Islands both have mining tenements on the island.
Manicani and Homonhon islands are both situated within the Guiuan Protected Landscape and Seascape, which was declared a PA in 1994, after mining permits for nickel-mining operations have been issued by the DENR in the areas. Meanwhile, Macro Asia Corp. has a 1,000 hectares mining tenement in Brooke’s Point, Palawan, which is within the Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape. Brookes’ Point is host to one of the 33 important watersheds in Palawan. The company has yet to start commercial operation because of permitting issues. Lim said most of these mining sites were granted MPSAs prior to the declaration of the PAs as wildlife sanctuaries, game refuge or natural parks covered by the National Integrated Protected Areas System (Nipas) Act. Lim said the recent policy pronouncement of Lopez to keep mining out of protected areas is a welcome development. “It would definitely boost our effort to protect and conserve the country’s key bioidversity areas against mining,” Lim said, underscoring the importance of strengthening the country’s PA system to prevent biodiversity loss. Lim also backed the passage of a proposed measure expanding the coverage of the Nipas Act, or House Bill 177, sponsored by Liberal Party Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato of Occidental Mindoro. While there are 240 PAs in the Philippines, only 13 are backed by legislative measures, while the rest are covered by presidential decrees and presidential proclamations. The proposed measure amending certain provisions of Republic Act 7586, or the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1991, expands the coverage of the E-Nipas from current 13 PAs covered by legislative measure to a total of 101 PAs. With its passage, the 101 PAs would become an integral part of the proposed measure. In declaring PAs “off-limits” to mining, Lopez ordered DENR officials to conduct an inventory of PAs with mining permits. She wants a careful evaluation of the MPSAs, including the environmental compliance certificates (ECCs) issued for development projects within the protected areas. Mining companies with MPSAs within or encompassing protected areas insist that they have prior rights to mine over the land because the Nipas Act only became a law only on June 1, 1992. Subsequently, former President Benigno S. Aquino III signed Executive Order 79 on July 6, 2012, declaring PAs as mining “no-go zones.” Lopez declared that under her watch, no mining activities would take place in PAs, insisting that protecting the country’s natural resources, which are habitats of unique and threatened species of
wildlife, is more important, especially because the Philippines is highly vulnerable to climatechange impacts. So far, Lopez already ordered the suspension of the ECC of Austral-Asia Mining Corp. in Mati, Davao Oriental, upon the recommendation of the DENR’s BMB. The nickel mine of Austral-Asia lies in between two heritage sites—Pujada Bay and Mount Hamiguitan. Pujada Bay is host to 25 genera of hard and soft corals, while Mount Hamiguitan is host to a vast tract of pygmy or bonsai forest. It is also home to endemic species of plants and animals, including pitcher plants and the critically endangered Philippine Eagle. The DENR chief, a known environmental advocate, had earlier added biodiversity conservation to environmental and social aspect of mining among the the mining audit criteria on top of the usual technical audit. So far, the DENR chief had suspended 10 mining operations and issued show cause orders to 20 other companies. The DENR chief has been vocal against the destruction caused by irresponsible miners that cause people to suffer. Last week Lopez declared watersheds as off-limits to housing and other development projects that threaten the integrity of the forests that protect the country’s sources of water. The DENR said 20 mines are facing suspension on top of the 10 already halted for failing to meet the standards set by Lopez for “responsible mining.” DENR, PNP officials charged Meanwhile, several officials of the DENR, MGB, and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Region 1 are now facing multiple carnapping charges before the Pangasinan Prosecutors Office, after 12 trucks of a mining firm in the area were reportedly forcible taken by the said agencies. Charged before the Prosecutors Office of 12 counts each of carnapping were DENR Region 1 Director Paquito Moreno Jr.; City Environment Officers Melchor Gonzales and Benjamin Abucay; MGB Region 1 Director Carlos Tayag; and his engineers, Renato Rimando and Romualdo Rosario; and Sr. Insp. Dennis Cabigat of Dansol, Pangasinan, PNP. The DENR did not respond to queries on the matter. Based on the statement issued by Golden Summit Mining Corp., over a month ago, their trucks were apprehended and seized by the said officials despite their presentation of proper oretransport permits and valid vehicle registrations.
The trucks, loaded with ores, were then reportedly taken to the police station and were impounded. Surprisingly, both the DENR and MGB offices of Region 1 have not issued a confiscation order to Golden Summit. To this day, however, the trucks and the precious cargoes are nowhere to be found, according to the same press statement. Likewise, the police in the area now reportedly denying having in their custody the trucks with plate numbers ABF 4020, ABF 4022, AFA 8117, NQS 279, 022808, ABF 4018, RHC 135, RMV 370, RMX 908, UQV 480, WLQ 143 and WTS 339. Officials of the said mining firm are asking Lopez to conduct an investigation against these officials in line with President Duterteâ€™s anticorruption policy. They also called on PNP chief Director General Ronald de la Rosa to subject Cabigat to an investigation for allegedly allowing his office to be used to harass legitimate business operations. Just a few weeks ago, former Environment Undersecretary Leo L. Jasareno was fired by MalacaĂąang following numerous complaints of irrregularites while he was still the MGB director during the time of Aquino. Jasareno was accused of issuing mining and expansion permits when there was a moratorium by the Aquino administration on the issuance of such permits by MGB to mining firms. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/20-more-mine-sites-to-lose-mpsas-soon/
Farm tourism attracts more visitors–Alegre • •
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by Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo - October 18, 2016 0 55 By Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo @Pulitika2010 / Special to the BusinessMirror FARMS and wellness spas are luring more foreign visitors to the country, even as an increasing number of domestic tourists patronize these new attractions. In a news statement, Tourism Assistant Secretary Frederick M. Alegre said: “Farm tourism is relatively new but once developed, especially with the mandate of the Farm Tourism Development Act of 2016, inclusive growth becomes achievable for the benefit of farmers, micro- to small-business entrepreneurs and other community stakeholders.” He added that more communities in the countryside are learning to appreciate and interact with tourists who visit their areas. “More important, we continue to deepen our brand of hospitality, giving more essence to the unique Filipino tourism experience,” he said.
Alegre, along with travel and tour operators, industry stake-holders and media representatives, attended the launch of the Nurture Farmacy in Tagaytay on October 15. Nurture Farmacy is a natural offshoot of the Nurture Wellness Village, a 15-year-old resort and spa owned by Dr. Mike and Catherine Turvill. The farm is a source of agricultural produce for the spa’s restaurant and catering services, and provides the raw ingredients for the spa’s natural applications and treatments. Nurture Farmacy is accredited by the Department of Tourism as an ecotourism wellness, heritage and farm destination, which provides a wide array of products, services and activities for its guests, including tours of its Phytotherapy garden, weaving and cooking demonstrations and interactive heritage activities, among others. Data from the DOT show it has accredited 23 farms and 14 spas nationwide. However, “accreditation is still voluntary, as these are secondary establishments,” Alegre stressed. The DOT requires certain standards in accrediting farms and agritourism sites, such as the location in a “generally safe and peaceful location;” knowledgeable farm guides that will accompany tour groups; 24-hour security personnel; safety signages; designated wash areas with clean water, soap and other amenities; and separate clean and well-maintained restrooms, to name a few.
Accreditation certificates for such tourist facilities are valid for two years. The DOT also has guidelines in accrediting spas, while the Department of Health accredits spa therapists who have to undergo skills exams every two years. An establishment’s certificate of accreditation is good for one year. Minimum requirements for a spa to be accredited are the location of the spa “in a safe and reputable location with clean, calm and relaxing environment; separate clean and adequate public washrooms for male and female provided with running water and adequate toiletries; separate unlocked public treatment rooms for males and females”; and the provision of spa services, such as Swedish, Shiatsu, reflexology or tui-na, Thai, aromatherapy/Filipino healing modalities and/or other acceptable massage treatments, among others. Just an hour’s drive from Manila, the Nurture Wellness Village appeals to honeymooners, families, private firms that hold team-building retreats, and young professionals seeking a quick getaway from city life. According to its web site, by taking part in farm tourism, the Nurture Farmacy boosts the spa’s efforts in promoting wellness and mindful living. “Considered as a growing industry in the country, farm tourism allows individuals, families and groups of friends to get closer to nature and learn what the food goes through from farm to table. Hence, it makes way for a memorable bonding activity that helps raise awareness, at the same time,” the company said. At Nurture Farmacy, guests see a wide array of vegetables, fruits and medicinal plants. Throughout the tour, they are given useful information on how these plants are grown, as well as their practical uses and health benefits. “Through this, visitors are made aware of which plants or types of produce are good for certain organs of the body, as well as how they are used to cure ailments. There is also a demo on some traditional practices involving medicinal plants. Visitors are taught about vermiculture and fungiculture, too. They visit Nurture Farmacy’s own compost pits mushroom farm.” Nurture Farmacy participated in the Fourth Farm Tourism Conference and Farm Tourism Festival held from July 14 to16 at the Summit Ridge Hotel in Tagaytay. It was one of the farms the conference participants visited. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/farm-tourism-attracts-more-visitors-alegre/
Makabayan bloc backs rejection of Paris accord on climate change • •
by Marvyn N. Benaning - October 18, 2016 0 41 THE seven-member Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives backs the rejection of the Paris climate-change accord, describing it as an injustice to nations that suffer the consequences of big-time pollution by the United States, China, Japan, Russia, India and other countries. In sponsoring House Resolution (HR) 103, which expresses the concurrence of the Lower House with the position of President Duterte rejecting the Paris climate-change accord and calling for its nonratification, Party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna said in his sponsorship speech, delivered by Party-list Rep. Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela, that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) was a huge failure. The Makabayan bloc also filed HR 18, that called for a moratorium on the construction or expansion of coal-fired power-plant projects, which President Duterte supports and hopes that “will be able to strike a better balance between adequately addressing legitimate environmental concerns while pursuing national industrialization to improve the lives of our people.” “Our concurrence to the nonratification of the Paris climate accord is not a denial of the immediacy of addressing the pressing issue of the climate crisis. This resolution was filed in demand for climate justice, and a truly binding agreement that would sufficiently address climate change,” Zarate said. “We must resist the plunder of our lands in resources to protect our patrimony from the clutches of big polluter countries. Let us support the people’s resistance versus corporate greed’s relentless burning of fossil fuels. Let us protect our forest from deforestation, and prevent the pollution of our rivers and seas. There is a growing call for these people and nations with initiatives to uphold climate justice—exemplary countries and communities leading the struggle for a climate-safe future. Let us be part of this. Let us demand climate justice,” he added. Zarate said it is but right for the country to criticize the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) of COP parties, since they are voluntary and subject to the different conditions by committing parties. “Even in the best case scenario that countries will adhere to its promise, this will still fall short on keeping the global temperature below 2 degrees. Some look at the Paris Agreement rosily, but
in truth, what we have is negotiated failure that ignored sound science, human rights and justice,” he added. The COP21 deal was “dead on arrival” in Paris, the Bayan Muna lawmaker argued, and the conspirators for this meaningless accord “were the top polluter countries that have blatantly imposed their will on the other 190 country members of the conference. It has failed to come up with a climate agreement that will effectively cut the emissions of polluter countries and their corporations around the globe.” Zarate added, “Foremost, COP21 failed to ensure a binding, obligatory, quantifying and drastic GHG [greenhouse-gas] cutbacks to reach the 1.5-degree target to avert a catastrophic climate shift. This 1.5 degree target is the minimum so that we mankind can still thrive on this planet. Second, it has failed to make top polluter countries and the multinational fossil-fuel corporations accountable. Additionally, the $1.75-trillion Military Industrial Complex (MIC), which is next to the power industry in GHG emissions, is not included in the sectors that must urgently comply for carbon cuts and is, in fact, not mentioned at all throughout the draft agreement.” “We believe that the COP 21 has failed us, failed the people of the world, in negotiating for a climate agreement that would step on the brakes before we find ourselves in a catastrophic climate shift… Beyond the Paris Agreement, there are various nations, frontline communities and people’s movement that are resisting plunder and ‘CO2lonialism’ to keep humanity and the entire planet safe. Costa Rica has legislated a moratorium on fossil-fuel exploration and mineral extraction in their country. The island-nation of Kiribati has proposed a global moratorium on coal. The Ogoni people of Nigeria have successfully kept oil companies out of their lands for years,” Zarate also said. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/makabayan-bloc-backs-rejection-of-paris-accord-on-climatechange/
Lawin akin to Yolanda, approaches Northern Luzon By Helen Flores and Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 19, 2016 - 12:00am 5 1887 googleplus0 0
Weather forecaster Aldzcar Aurelio monitors the path of Typhoon Lawin at the state weather bureau’s central office in Quezon City yesterday. BOY SANTOS MANILA, Philippines – Brace for devastation as Typhoon Lawin (international name Haima) is expected to intensify into a super typhoon as strong as Yolanda before hitting Northern Luzon tomorrow morning. The state weather agency yesterday warned that Lawin would bring destructive winds and storm surges as high as five meters in coastal villages. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) also warned that the impending landfall of Lawin in Northern Luzon would likely result in devastation in areas along the projected path of the cyclone. Tropical cyclone warning signal No. 4 or 5 is expected to be raised over Cagayan, including the Calayan Group of Islands, Apayao, Ilocos Norte and northern Isabela tonight as the typhoon moves closer to Cagayan. Lawin’s maximum sustained winds could reach 220 kilometers per hour or higher before hitting landmass, according to Esperanza Cayanan, chief of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) weather division.
“As of this time it (Lawin) has maximum sustained winds of 185 kph but it is still over the sea, so we’re not yet discounting the possibility that it could become a super typhoon,” Cayanan told reporters. She warned Lawin’s strength is comparable to that of Super Typhoon Yolanda, which packed winds of 235 kph and gustiness of up to 285 kph when it hit Eastern Visayas on Nov. 8, 2013. “We can expect the same damage brought by Yolanda if it reaches 220 kph,” Cayanan warned. “Residents in disaster-prone areas are alerted against the possibility of landslides and flashfloods. The occurrence of storm surge of up to five meters is likely to happen over the coast of Cagayan, including Calayan Group of Islands and the northern tip of Ilocos Norte,” NDRRMC executive director Ricardo Jalad warned. “Very strong winds, which may destroy high- to low-risk structures and topple down trees and transmission towers, are expected. Sea travel and other coastal activities are risky over the eastern seaboard of Luzon,” he added. As of yesterday afternoon, 278 passengers were stranded at Tabaco City port in Albay after the Philippine Coast Guard did not allow a roll-on, roll-off vessel en route to San Andres, Catanduanes to depart due to the arrival of Lawin. PAGASA deputy administrator Jun Dalida appealed to the people in areas along the path of Lawin to follow the advice of their local officials. “We still have two days to prepare. We hope for zero casualty, even if we expect this to be a powerful typhoon,” he said. As of 4 p.m. yesterday, the eye of Lawin was located at 930 km east of Tayabas, Quezon with maximum sustained winds of up to 185 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 230 kph. It is forecast to move west-northwest at 25 kph. As of 5 p.m. yesterday, signal No. 1 was hoisted over Ilocos Norte, Apayao, Cagayan including the Calayan group of Islands, Batanes group of Islands, Isabela, Kalinga, Abra, Ilocos Sur, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Benguet, La Union, Aurora, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Catanduanes and Polillo Islands. These areas can expect intermittent rains and winds of 30 kph to 60 kph within at least 36 hours, PAGASA said. As a precaution, classes in all public and private pre-schools are automatically suspended in areas under signal No. 1. Apayao Gov. Elias Bulut Jr. yesterday declared a suspension of classes in the province for four days, from today until Friday.
Lawin is projected to make landfall over Cagayan by early tomorrow morning, then cross Apayao and Ilocos Norte. PAGASA warned the public against going out to the eastern seaboard of Southern Luzon and the northern and eastern seaboards of Samar. PAGASA weather forecaster Aldczar Aurelio said moderate to heavy to at times intense rains will affect Northern Luzon, particularly the provinces of Isabela, Ifugao and Mountain Province, tomorrow until Friday. Metro Manila could also experience light to moderate rains from Lawin. The typhoon is forecast to exit the Philippine area of responsibility on Friday morning.
Typhoon Karen Meanwhile, Typhoon Karen exited the country yesterday but left several people dead or missing and damaged millions in crops and infrastructure. In Bauang town in La Union, Joshua Fernandez, 31, drowned while swimming in the seashore of Barangay Baccuit Sur yesterday, the town police said. Fernandez was from Baguio City. In Cagayan Valley, four people went missing and are believed to have drowned during the onslaught of Karen. They are Simeon Baccay, 67; Gavino Cuntapay, 43; Nathaniel Lucas, 17; and Jean Carlo Balacanao, 13. The cost of damage to agriculture in Central Luzon was initially pegged at P2.14 billion. According to the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC), agricultural losses were recorded in Aurora, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Tarlac. The palay sector incurred the biggest damage at P2,141,252,435.58. Damage to high-value crops was initially pegged at P149,700. In Pangasinan, damage to agriculture and infrastructure was initially pegged at P63 million. – With Ric Sapnu, Raymund Catindig, Jun Elias, Eva Visperas, Celso Amo, Artemio Dumalao http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/10/19/1635151/lawin‐akin‐yolanda‐approaches‐northern‐ luzon
Probe Cavite fish kill, BFAR urged By Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 19, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines – A fisherfolk group has urged the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to investigate a fish kill in the coastal waters of Cavite. Fernando Hicap, chairman of the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), said the fish kill has affected the towns of Tanza and Rosario. Residents said chemicals from a biscuit factory in Tanza could have caused the fish kill. “BFAR should also inspect factories and other industrial firms along Manila Bay because they are responsible for the degradation of the sea that result to fish kills and other ecological disruptions. They must be held accountable if proven guilty,” Hicap said in a statement. He said BFAR should provide calamity assistance to fishermen affected by the fish kill. http://www.philstar.com/nation/2016/10/19/1634981/probe‐cavite‐fish‐kill‐bfar‐urged
NEDA pushes more infra investments in NE Luzon By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 19, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines – In line with the Duterte administration’s push to spur growth in the regions, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is eyeing more infrastructure investments in Northeastern Luzon to boost agriculture trade. NEDA deputy director general for investment programming Rolando Tungpalan said this was among salient points taken up during the Oct. 14 meeting of the Infrastructure Committee (Infracom). “The sense of the Infracom was to have a bias towards the regions, so it will not be the usual greater capital region. Of course Manila would have projects to address congestion but since we are looking at a six-year horizon, we should start opening up opportunities by connecting the country,” he said. “So the staff would have to identify major infrastructure projects that would classify as flagship that would focus on regional and rural development including irrigation,”he added. Tungpalan said NEDA has added Northeastern Luzon in the priority geographical areas for regional investment — along with Visayas and Mindanao — because of its large potential for agriculture trade. The area comprises the food-producing provinces of Quirino, Aurora, Isabela, Cagayan and Nueva Vizcaya. With more investments in roads and railways, food can be more easily transported from provinces in the the northeast part of Luzon, he said. This would augment the supply coming from Benguet, therefore easing price pressures in Metro Manila. “We are now trying to get more information for major infrastructure projects in Quirino that might involve rail and road connections.That would be a game changer because that would open up the food basket. Metro Manila is a huge market (for Northeast Luzon provinces). Food can be transported more affordably and the quality is also improved. So it would benefit the farmers and the consumers,” said Tungpalan. Tungpalan said expanding mass transporation in Northeast Luzon would benefit both agriculture and tourism in the area. “It would also improve access in the north. We cannot be specific yet but as we come to the end of the plan, we can be more specific if we are having railways, roads or a combination of both. We’re looking at mass transport system to hasten the delivery of goods,” he said.
The committee would convene again next month, during which more areas for development in the six-year period would be identified. The Infracom on Friday also affirmed the need to complete within the year the feasibility study for the first phase of the Mindanao Railway Project to give way for approval by the interagency Investment Coordination Committee late this year or early next year. The Infracom agreed to prioritize the completion of a portion of the railway system as it is unlikely that the whole railway system would be completed within President Duterte’s term. Tungpalan described the project as a “game changer” as it would improve inter-island connectivity by linking major cities including Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Zamboanga City, Butuan, Surigao, Davao and General Santos. Mindanao also stands to benefit from increased trade once the railway system is completed because the island is a potential major transhipment point and center of trade in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area region. Enhanced interconnectivity is also seen to boost tourism and commerce in the island because of increased passenger and freight transport. It is also among NEDA’s top priorities for feasibility studies — along with the Nationwide Fish Ports Project and Ilocos Norte Irrigation Project Stage 2 — under the Feasibility Studies Fund. “We want an early approval, before the end of the year or early next year,” said Tungpalan. http://www.philstar.com/business/2016/10/19/1634890/neda‐pushes‐more‐infra‐investments‐ne‐ luzon
RFM profit up 9% in 9 months By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 19, 2016 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines – RFM Corp., reported a net income of P683 million in the first nine months of the year, nine percent higher than the same period last year. Total revenues reached P8.73 billion, up nine percent year on year. RFM president and CEO Jose A. Concepcion III attributed the company’s strong nine-month performance to improved sales of branded consumers goods under Selecta ice cream, Fiesta Pasta and Selecta Milk. Ice cream sales sustained their double-digit rise behind the push for availability, affordability and visibility despite the onset of La Nina, Concepcion said. The company’s P59 pasta-and- sauce dish TV campaign during the third quarter also supported Fiesta pasta’s momentum. RFM’s Royal pasta brand also launched its P135 pasta- and-sauce spaghetti dish bundle that improved topline. Selecta Milk, meanwhile, continued to post strong growth behind strong sales of Selecta white milk line. Soft prices in the flour business weighed down on total revenue growth. The discontinuation of traded products under the Dole brand offset growth in the consumer business, albeit to a small extent only, the company said. RFM expects to sustain this nine percent income growth for the last quarter of the year, supported by the launch of the Royal pasta-and-sauce dish pack, as well as the present momentum of Fiesta pasta, Milk and Ice cream sales. Last year, the company reported a full year net income of P908.4 million or a increase of nine percent from the previous year. Incorporated in 1957 as Republic Flour Mills, Inc., RFM is a branded food and beverage company known for nurturing and growing heritage local brands like Pop Cola and Sarsi, under its previous subsidiary Cosmos Bottling Corp., and Selecta, now under the joint venture with Unilever. The company is also known for its major brands like White King Fiesta, Selecta Milk, Sunkist, and Swift, which are major brand players in the industry. http://www.philstar.com/business/2016/10/19/1634897/rfm‐profit‐9‐9‐months
NEDA lists investments to boost long-term water supply By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 19, 2016 - 12:00am 1 1 googleplus1 1 MANILA, Philippines – The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is identifying investments that would address the long-term water security needs of Metro Manila by 2037 and beyond. NEDA’s Infrastructure Committee (Infracom) has subjected to value analysis and value engineering study this month the planned expansion of Metro Manila water sources to include at least eight new major water sources. As presented during the NEDA-Infracom meeting last Friday, the study identified eight major water sources for Metro Manila well as other means of increasing the water supply in the metropolis such as non-revenue water reduction and reuse of treated stormwater. Identified as main sources of water were: the Angat-Umiray River Basin, Pampanga rivers, Agos rivers, Laguna Lake Basin, Marikina River, Cavite-Batangas Basin and Manila Bay. Also being looked at is the Kaliwa-Kanan river system in Quezon province. The Angat reservoir currently supplies 95 percent of Metro Manila’s water source. Other than proving deficient in long-term water supply, the dam is also now exposed to safety risks such as possible breakage and spillway overflow among others. “So if you talk about water security, that is too much dependence on one water source. So, MWSS should start woking on new water sources to meet the future demand,” said NEDA deputy director general for investment programming Rolando Tungpalan. The value analysis and engineering study evaluated possible investments that would need to be carried out in the development of these new water sources based on technical considerations, cost, sustainability and implementability. Tungpalan said NEDA would now be conducting a value analysis and engineering study on potential projects before these are subjected to feasibility studies to have better understanding of benefits, risks and policy implications. “This is the approach we would like to take when it comes with major infrastructure like with water because this is a very real need with very real cost,” he said. The study identifies water security as satisfying the annual water demand plus a 15 percent buffer. Sources that can be immediately tapped are Manila Bay, Laguna Lake and the KaliwaKanan river system.
The MWSS currently manages a supply level of 4, 132 million liters per day (MLD) against the demand without provision for buffer of more than 3, 500 MLD and demand with provision for buffer of a little over 4,000 MLD. Supply deficiency is expected to become more pronounced in 2025 when supply of just a little under 4, 500 MLD meets demand without buffer of roughly the same level and demand with buffer rises to a little but under 5, 500 MLD. Public investments being considered under the study for new water sources include putting up desalination plants, rehabilitation of dams and auxilliary structures, and construction of distribution systems among others. The study recommended the immediate conduct of feasibility study and subsequent development of the Laguna Lake and Manila Bay as new water sources to add 200 MLD to 300 MLD to the supply from 2017 onwards. “This may be realized in the period of three to four years and will address the water demand in 2017 onwards till the long term water source from Kanan will be online,” stated the study. http://www.philstar.com/business/2016/10/19/1634895/neda‐lists‐investments‐boost‐long‐term‐ water‐supply
DA orders regional offices to prep for 'Lawin' By Louise Maureen Simeon (philstar.com) | Updated October 18, 2016 ‐ 2:54pm 5 14 googleplus0 0
Coconut trees damaged by a typhoon in the Eastern Visayas. File photo MANILA, Philippines ‐‐ The Department of Agriculture is gearing up for the possible onslaught in agriculture areas after the state weather bureau said Typhoon Lawin is expected to intensify into a super typhoon. Lawin (international name Haima) entered the Philippine area of responsibility Tuesday afternoon. In a memorandum issued Tuesday, the DA said it is already preparing its proactive response to the typhoon, which may affect agricultural areas in Regions 1, 2 , 3, 4A, 5, and the Cordillera Administrative Region. The department directed regional offices to immediately activate their quick response centers and secure seed buffer stocks. The DA also instructed its field offices to mobilize neighboring regions to provide necessary assistance to regions that may be affected. It also ordered close monitoring of PAGASA updates and the relocation of livestock that may be affected by the storm. Meanwhile, prevailing retail prices of some commodities in selected wet markets have increased as a result of Typhoon Karen.
Vegetable price increases were recorded for ampalaya (P90 from P80), cabbage (P60 from P50), carrots (P100 from P60), eggplant (P80 from P60), and chayote (P30 from P20). Fish commodities including bangus went up to P110 per kilo from P90 but price of galunggong decreased to P120 per kilo from P140. Prevailing prices of meats generally remained stable. P3 billion in damage to agri from 'Karen' The cost of damage to agriculture in areas affected by Typhoon Karen has risen to P3 billion with the rice sub‐sector sustaining the most damage. As of 9am today (Oct.18), total damage amounted to P2.97 billion, covering 260,002 hectares of agricultural areas with estimated production loss of 215,716 metric tons (MT). PAGASA has already raised Signal No.1 in 11 areas in Luzon as Typhoon Lawin slightly accelerates and barrels toward Cagayan. An estimated moderate to heavy rainfall amount is expected within its 650 kilometer diameter. PAGASA said Lawin will likely make landfall over Cagayan early morning on Thursday and will cross Apayao and Ilocos Norte. Lawin is expected to exit the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) on Friday early morning. It is the 12th tropical cyclone to enter the country this year and the fourth this month. http://www.philstar.com/business/2016/10/18/1634854/da‐orders‐regional‐offices‐prep‐lawin
D.E.N.R. cites companies for exemplary environmental performance • •
by Jonathan L. Mayuga - October 18, 2016 0 96 THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has cited eight companies from the chiller and power sectors for exhibiting “exemplary environmental performance” during the joint awarding ceremony of the Philippines-Chiller Energy Efficiency Project (PCEEP) and the Philippine Environment Partnership Program (PEPP) held recently at the H2O Hotel in Manila. In a statement, the DENR said the awards went to Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino/Cofely Philippines (Excellence Award); The Peninsula Manila (Excellence Award); TriNoma Malls (Plaque of Recognition); SM City Iloilo (Plaque of Recognition); Bank of the Philippine Islands-Buendia Center (Plaque of Recognition); International School Manila (Plaque of Recognition); and Manila Pavilion (Certificate of Recognition) for their initiatives in implementing energy-efficient operations, particularly the chiller sector’s move to replace their old chillers using ozone-depleting substances (ODS) to new technologies. The DENR also conferred three Special Awards, namely, Special Citation for the Most Number of PCEEP Applications (Chiller Supplier Category) for Stellar Equipment Inc.; Best in Chiller Management of the Year for Vincent Lazaro of Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino and Karsten Carlo Pica of Cofely Philippines; and Highest Greenhouse Gas Reduction for CY2015 for TriNoma Malls. The PCEEP is a project initiated by the World Bank-Global Environment Facility, which provides technical and financial assistance to replace their old chillers with energy-efficient and non-ODS-based chillers in order to protect the ozone layer and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
The PCEEP provides an opportunity for chiller owners to select new chiller technologies that are not only more energy efficient, but also operating with non-ODS-based refrigerant and with lower leakage rate. Such move would actually bring economic, as well as ecological, benefits not only to chiller owners, but also to the country in terms of savings in electricity and reduced greenhouse-gas emissions. Awardees were selected after passing a series of evaluation stages, including documentary and site validation with the members of the PCEEP-Technical Evaluation Committee. At the end of the project life on January 1, 2017, the PCEEP is expected to have replaced 30,649 tons of refrigeration, reduced 5,700 kilograms of ozone-depleting potentials, generated at least 124.7
gigawatt-hours in electricity savings, abated 10-megawatt demand and reduced 62,400 tons of greenhouse gases. The PEPP, pursuant to DENR Administrative Order 14 (Series of 2003), is a DENR partnership program that aims to support industry self-regulation toward improved environmental performance. EDC Green Core Geothermal Inc., located in Leyte, bagged the DENR Seal of Approval under the PEPP’s “Track 1 Category”. It is the sole awardee for 2015. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/d‐e‐n‐r‐cites‐companies‐for‐exemplary‐environmental‐ performance‐2/
Government urged to expand hybrid-rice subsidy • •
by Jasper Y. Arcalas - October 18, 2016 0 113 Local hybrid-rice producer SL Agritech Corp. (SLAC) on Tuesday appealed to the Duterte administration to expand the government’s hybrid-rice subsidy program so more farmers would plant the variety. SLAC Chairman Henry Lim Bon Liong, who will join President Duterte during his state visit to China this week, said providing subsidy to more farmers will help the government achieve its target of expanding lands planted with hybrid rice to 1 million hectares. “If we have 1 million hectares planted with hybrid, we will be sufficient. Beyond 1 million hectares, we will be an exporter,” Lim said in a statement. In the last 15 years, SLAC has been pushing for government support for hybrid-rice expansion since, at one time, the country’s rice imports had skyrocketed to around P45 billion.
The subsidy for hybrid rice was removed in 2011, but in the last two years, farmers received limited support from the government. Each eligible farmer is allowed to avail himself the hybridrice seed subsidy for only one planting season. From 2005 to 2010, Lim noted that the Philippines imported 800,000 metric tons (MT) to 1.2 million MT (MMT) of rice, costing P18 billion to P34 billion a year. Expanding farmlands planted with hybrid rice to 1 million hectares from the current 500,000 hectares will increase palay output by 1.6 MMT a year, according to Lim. When milling recovery is raised to 65 percent, from the current 50 percent to 60 percent, the SLAC chief said rice production will increase by an additional 900,000 MT. Dr. Santiago Obien, the Department of Agriculture’s (DA’s) rice consultant, said the agency continues to deliberate on the budget that may be allocated for hybrid-rice propagation. “We may as well finance seed of farmers, or we will be importing more rice that is more expensive,” Obien said.
The DA’s hybrid-rice subsidy has been traditionally set at 50 percent, or around P2,300 per bag at one bag per hectare of hybrid seeds. Thus, at just half of the targeted area, this would amount to P1.15 billion. With only a P4.5 billion yearly budget for hybrid seeds (P4,500 per hectare for 1 million hectares), the Philippines can become self-sufficient in rice, Lim said. Also, SLAC said farmers can earn more, as those using hybrid-rice seeds can increase their harvest to as much as 10 MT per hectare from the current average of 4 MT per hectare. Lim hinted at the possibility that the Philippine government may secure a P20-billion loan from China for the expansion of farmlands planted with hybrid rice. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/government‐urged‐to‐expand‐hybrid‐rice‐subsidy/
Pangilinan to Cabinet: Release position on rice-import quota • •
by Butch Fernandez - October 18, 2016 0 38 The Cabinet should make known its position regarding the lifting of the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice to guide Congress’s legislative action, Sen. Francis N. Pangilinan said on Monday. “We hope to have it before the World Trade Organization’s [WTO] July 2017 deadline, so that we may be guided regarding possible pieces of legislation that needs amending,” Pangilinan said in a statement. The lawmaker chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, which convened a public hearing to discuss the implications of the WTO’s mandate to eliminate the QR, which allowed Manila to limit the entry of rice imports. The Philippines was granted an initial exemption for the lifting of QR on rice because of its highly sensitive nature.
The deadline for the Philippines has already been extended twice: in 2005 and in 2015, where a waiver was obtained to further extend to July 2017. Mercedita Sombilla, OIC-assistant director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), said during the hearing that the price of rice in the international market is declining. “[The Neda] supports the lifting of the QR on rice. There is an 89-percent increase in world trade even after El Niño. We need to focus on the economic cost on the macro level rather than the sectoral level. Net social impact is still positive because our farmers are also consumers,” Sombilla said. The Department of Finance supported this position, adding that the lifting of the QR will bring more investments to rice and prevent corruption. In the meantime, it said, the private sector is capable of filling the gap in rice supply. Antifarmer Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol, however, said the Department of Agriculture (DA) needs an additional two-year leeway before the QR can be lifted.
“We will present a somewhat divergent view. We ask for humanitarian consideration because our farmers are not yet prepared for the lifting of the QR. We first need to lower the cost of production and increase farm productivity so that our farmers will be able to compete against cheap imported rice,” Piñol said. If the QR is lifted next year, the Philippine Rice Research Institute said palay production may go down by 2 million metric tons and cut farm-gate price of palay by as much as P4.56 per kilo. This would also lower the cost of rice in the market by as much as P6.97 per kilo. “This will be a loss for our farmers. How are we able to increase productivity? By providing government support in terms of seeds, fertilizer and irrigation services, above others,” Piñol added. Representatives of farmers’ groups, for their part, said they do not oppose the lifting of the QR provided that there would be sufficient support from the government. Pangilinan asked the DA to submit their two-year plan of action in the event that an extension will be granted. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/pangilinan‐to‐cabinet‐release‐position‐on‐rice‐import‐quota/
CARD Pioneer’s crop insurance: More affordable than a pack of cigarettes • •
by Cai Ordinario - October 18, 2016 0 43 Geric Laude remembers how his Lolo Enteng lost his 10 hectares of land to pay off loans obtained from a local rice miller. His grandfather had to use his farm as collateral for loans needed, especially after calamities— two in a row, at one point—struck their province. His grandfather lived until he was in his early 80s and saw how his lands in Zamboanga del Sur slowly got consumed by his indebtedness. This, Laude said, is a sad story that is common among 8.5 million farmers nationwide. Farmers stand to lose what little land they owned when calamities like typhoons and habagat destroy their crops. “He borrowed money from the owner of a rice mill who usually bought his produce to buy farm inputs. Since he did not have money and his crops were destroyed by typhoons, he eventually lost almost of all his landholdings to pay for his arrears,” said Laude, who is now the president of CARD Pioneer Microinsurance Inc. (CPMI).
One of the ways which can prevent this from happening is crop insurance. But since farmers are at the mercy of weather and other unpredictable situations, companies refuse to insure their crops. Another challenge is the price point at which private companies will be able to meet farmer’s needs without endangering their own fiscal positions. This conundrum has been the main point of contention when it comes to crop insurance. But after years of brainstorming, the private sector made a breakthrough by introducing Binhi Crop Insurance, the first crop insurance offered by a private company. It was developed by CPMI with the World Bank’s private-sector arm, the International Finance Corp. (IFC). Initially, the crop insurance will just be available for CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI) agriculture loan clients. After six months, the crop insurance can be availed by rice and corn farmers who are part of cooperatives and are clients of rural banks and other financial institutions.
“It was really a lot of input, a lot of brainstorming, because nobody wants to go into this area because this one is really very risky and, finally, we got the winning formula after brainstorming in several meetings with IFC,” CARD MRI Founder and Managing Director Jaime Aristotle B. Alip said. Coverage is as low as P1,000 to a maximum of P10,000 a year. Premium is set at 10 percent of the preferred coverage and can be paid weekly or monthly. If a farmer is covered for P5,000 for one year, the farmer only needs to pay a premium of P500 annually. This means he would pay only P9.62 a week or P41.67 a month. While some would view this coverage as very low compared to other insurance products, Laude said Binhi Crop Insurance was not designed to cover all the inputs needed by farmers to plant their crops. He added that it was meant to complement other financial programs, including the government’s own crop-insurance facility made available through the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. “The product was designed to complement other financial programs available to farmers offered by our partners, like microfinancing, micro savings, risk-reduction practices, etc. It does not seek to replace everything that will be lost, but intends to help the farmer replant again in case damage to crops happens,” Laude told the BusinessMirror. “With manageable amounts of benefit, the premium can be made affordable and the claims processes simple so that claims can be paid within five days. Further, do note that the limit of benefit is dependent on the amount of loan being released to the farmers. Thus, the coverage can be adjusted to the same level of amount of loan released,” he added. Laude said CPMI is also studying the possibility of allowing farmers to pay their insurance premiums after harvest. He said farmers covered by the insurance would only need to wait a maximum of five days to claim their benefit. This is similar to CARD MRI’s 1-3-5 claim process, wherein clients are extended loans within five days. If the damage to farms reaches 80 percent to 100 percent, farmers get the full amount of their coverage. But if the damage is only 20 percent to 79 percent, they will only get half. The company will not make any disbursement if the farm suffered damages of less than 20 percent. “As it is, it’s more expensive to smoke cigarettes than pay for crop insurance,” Laude said. CARD MRI situated across the archipelago will make the necessary inspection of the farm in question. They will take pictures and give their visual assessment of the damage incurred by farmers after a disaster.
Laude said CPMI hopes the crop insurance can be accessed by as many as 200,000 farmers by the end of 2018. Initially, the facility will be available in 12 regions but will soon be expanded to cover all regions nationwide. CPMI is also now in the process of studying possible “riders” to crop insurance or separate insurance products, such as the insurance coverage of farm equipment and livestock. All these, Laude said, may be made available in over a year’s time. The company is considered the first nonlife-insurance company in the country created to streamline product development and pro-poor insurance products. In the first year of its operation, CPMI generated premiums written of P74 million with 920,000 lives covered. By the end of 2016, the company aims to increase gross premiums to P480 million with 1.3 million lives covered. CPMI is a partnership of CARD MRI, known for providing microfinance products to women nationwide, and Pioneer, a veteran in the local insurance industry. The company became fully operational in January 2014. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/card‐pioneers‐crop‐insurance‐more‐affordable‐than‐a‐pack‐of‐ cigarettes/
Typhoon ‘Karen’ damage to agricultural crops hits P3B By: Ronnel W. Domingo / @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 01:49 AM October 19, 2016
A few residents walk on a promenade under a slight rain brought about by Typhoon “Karika” Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016 in Manila, Philippines. The powerful typhoon, with sustained winds of 130 kilometers (80) miles per hour and gusts of 220 kph (136mph), has slammed into the northeastern Philippines and left at least two people dead, knocked out power and isolated villages in floods and toppled trees. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) Typhoon “Karen” racked up a bill of about P3 billion in farm damage, almost the entirety of which was on rice crops. Monitoring by the Department of Agriculture’s field operations unit shows that as of Tuesday morning, 205,870 tons of palay worth P2.8 billion was lost to Karen. Affected were 80,923 farmers working on 254,248 hectares of rice fields in the Cordilleras, Ilocandia, Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Bicol. The typhoon also ravaged P106.4 million worth of high-value crops like vegetables, and P60.3 million worth of corn. Meanwhile, Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. commended the quick response of the National Food Authority (NFA) to disasters and emergencies. Evasco noted the NFA’s role during the flash floods that hit the regions of Ilocos and Central Luzon, when the agency quickly distributed rice through the local governments in Pampanga, Tarlac, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur and Abra.
Earlier, the NFA earmarked an initial fund of P2.3 billion for an “extensive” drive to buy palay directly from farmers as the harvest of the year’s main crop neared. NFA officer in charge Tomas R. Escarez said the agency was “ready” to secure additional financing for its Cereal Procurement Fund. Escarez said the agency hoped to buy 2.6 million bags of palay during the remainder of this year.
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Ombudsman targets open dumps, illegal logging, mining By: Vince F. Nonato / @VinceNonatoINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:24 AM October 19, 2016
The Office of the Ombudsman is targeting the closure of 100 more open dumps next year, as it sets its sights on perpetrators of illegal logging, mining and fishing. Environmental Ombudsman Gerard Mosquera said 100 more local government units (LGUs) would face fact-finding investigation next year. Ombudsman has launched probes of 50 erring LGUs this year. Besides filing administrative and criminal complaints against officials of the 50 LGUs, the antigraft body has so far ordered the closure of open dumps in 29 cities and towns. These are found in the provinces of Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Cavite, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon (including one in Lucena City), Mindoro Oriental, Aklan, Iloilo, Cebu, Samar and Leyte. Mosquera said the closure of all 50 sites would be completed by November. The remaining dumps are in Cagayan de Oro City and 20 other towns and cities in Albay, Bukidnon, Cotabato, South Cotabato, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Sur, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and Palawan provinces.
Crackdown This year’s crackdown marked the first sweeping effort to enforce the 15-year-old Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (Republic Act No. 9003), which prescribes standards for waste disposal and segregation. After focusing on illegal dumps, the Environmental Ombudsman will begin cracking down on illegal mining, logging and fishing activities. “We will eventually go there. We’re just trying to complete the cycle as far as illegal [dumps] are concerned,” Mosquera said. He said his office would coordinate with the team of Environment Undersecretary Arturo Valdez as “we’ll be going over that in the coming months.” Environmental crimes In a keynote speech before the Inter-Agency National Workshop on High Profile Environmental Crimes, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales highlighted the need to address “environmental degradation by enterprising individuals abetted by corrupt public officials.” Morales said “deterrence and prosecution are solutions to environmental problems.” At the same time, she noted that “it is sadly a reality that environment protection is not regarded as sufficiently high in priority.” She pointed out that LGUs had earmarked only “a token amount of budgets” to environmental conservation and rehabilitation. Valdez, in his speech, said “there are powerful interests, politicians and businessmen committing environmental crime.” For her part, Sen. Loren Legarda said: “It is high time that we seriously look into the crimes against our environment and mete out harsh punishment to those who have raped our forests, plundered our seas, and murdered our ecosystems and wildlife.”
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New delta bridge boon to Manobo farmers by Mike Crismundo October 18, 2016 Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share5 San Luis, Agusan del Sur – Farmers belonging to the Manobo tribe in this far-flung town in the landlocked province of Agusan del Sur hailed the completion of the P500-million delta bridge that would allow a more seamless delivery of their farm produce to markets. image: http://www.mb.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/ako-300x300.jpg
MB FILE – Agusan del Sur (mb.com.ph) With the completion of the bridge, traveling from Poblacion Talacogon towards Doña Maxima would just entail a five-kilometer, 15-minute trip – way better than what used to be a 15kilometer journey through rough roads that took more than an hour to complete. The 163-meter span bridge was implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and closely supervised by DPWH 13 Regional Director Engr. Danilo E. Versola after more than a year of construction. With the shorter trip between San Luis and Talacogon towns, Manobo chiefs and village leaders said rice produce, corn and other farm products could now be delivered more efficiently and faster to the markets in the southern municipalities of the province. The bridge was recently inaugurated by DPWH, as well as municipal and provincial officials, led by Agusan del Sur Gov. Adolph Edward G. Plaza.
“We can now easily transport our produce to the market where we can command higher prices,” said in vernacular Antonio “Datu Malinaw” Cullantes, a Manobo tribal leader in old San Luis village here. Cullantes averred that they had a hard time bringing their palay and other farm products to the market in the past in the absence of the bridge. Their produce would usually get soaked with water when they had to take the route that cut through the river. And with high moisture content, their produce could only be sold at low prices. This early, some rice buyers from Davao and Butuan have already told them that they will be bringing along their trucks to buy their harvest right in their rice fields.
Read more at http://www.mb.com.ph/new-delta-bridge-boon-to-manobofarmers/#dxaw4eCWRT5Ifrq5.99
OMB investigates illegal dumpsites in Albay by Jun Ramirez October 18, 2016 Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share5 The Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) has questioned several local officials of Albay province for allowing and maintaining open illegal dumpsites. Officials from the towns of Camalig, Guinobatan, Tiwi, Daraga, Polangui and Tabaco City attended the two-day clarificatory hearings held early this week in Legazpi City. The fact-finding investigation conducted by the Environmental Ombudsman (EO) was part of a national campaign to ensure compliance with Republic Act No. 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000). It will be recalled that last May 2016, the OT team successfully caused the closure of three open dumpsites in the municipalities of Hindang and Bato in Leyte, and the municipality of Catarman in the Northern Samar.
Read more at http://www.mb.com.ph/omb-investigates-illegal-dumpsites-inalbay/#xeJMdbzLFwcplgtk.99
Piñol seeks extension of rice import restriction by Reuters October 18, 2016 Share1 Tweet0 Share0 Email1 Share21 Manila – The Philippines’ farm minister is making a last-ditch appeal to his colleagues in the cabinet to postpone opening the country to higher rice imports next year, saying local farmers need more time to prepare to compete with cheaper grains. image: http://www.mb.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/8_bigas-300x195.jpg
Bigas President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic team has decided not to seek another extension of the socalled quantitative restriction on rice imports, which is to be scrapped in June 2017 under an agreement with the World Trade Organization (WTO). Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol told a Senate public hearing on Monday he needed two years to help Filipino rice farmers prepare to compete with cheaper varieties produced by the country’s main suppliers, Vietnam and Thailand. Any move to lift the restriction would be welcomed by the two rice exporters Thailand and Vietnam, the main participants any time the Philippines issues tenders seeking the grain. Philippine economic officials say the cheaper imports would also bring down the retail costs of the country’s food staple. “All that we’re asking for is a grace period of two years,” Piñol said, speaking to the Senate about his efforts to convince the cabinet to extend the import restriction. The Southeast Asian nation, one of the world’s biggest rice importers, has kept the import restriction in place since 1995 when it joined the WTO, which has allowed the Philippines two extensions since then.
The Philippines last won approval in 2014 to keep the restriction for the private sector until June 2017, but lifted the annual quota to 805,200 tons from 350,000 tons, and cut the tariff to 35 percent from 40 percent. The Philippines imports more than a million tons of rice a year, including tariff-free purchases by the state grains agency the National Food Authority. Socio-economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said last month that he and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno had agreed to scrap the quantitative restriction, believing that competition would encourage local farmers to improve efficiency. “I’m a voice in the wilderness, but I have to speak to protect local farmers,” Piñol said. “If we allow low-cost imported rice to flood the market, it might discourage the Filipino rice farmers, and then we will be at the mercy of exporting countries.” If the government scraps the restrictions next year, Piñol said he would throw his support to a proposal by some farmers’ groups to raise import tariffs to as high as 72 percent. The National Economic and Development Authority, which Pernia heads, is looking to push for a tariff of as much as 50 percent, a local newspaper recently reported. (Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Tom Hogue)
Read more at http://www.mb.com.ph/pinol-seeks-extension-of-rice-importrestriction/#xW5dYAcxG4ZkVBme.99
PepsiCo steps up push for reduced sugary drinks October 18, 2016 Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share10 PepsiCo, Inc. ramped up its pledge to reduce the number of sugary beverages it sells over the next decade as governments increasingly tax soft drinks and fruit juices in an attempt to reduce obesity and diabetes. At least two-thirds of the companyâ€™s beverage volume will have no more than 100 calories from added sugars per 12-ounce serving by 2025, the Purchase, New York-based company said in a statement Monday. The company had previously said it would reduce added sugars by 25 percent on a per-serving basis for key brands in some countries by 2020.
(MB File) The move comes just a week after the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that governments adopt taxes on sugary drinks, saying that by driving retail prices up 20 percent, consumption will drop by a fifth. More than one in three adults are overweight, according to the Geneva-based United Nations agency. The UK announced a sugar tax this year, and similar measures have been implemented in Mexico, Hungary, and US cities such as Philadelphia. The WHO advises people to limit added sugar to less than 10 percent of their energy needs and says a 5 percent limit is even healthier. Pepsi, along with Coca-Cola Co. and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, in 2014 pledged to cut the calories consumed from beverages by 20 percent over the next decade by introducing smaller portion sizes and lower-calorie options like bottled water.
Pepsi also set goals to reduce the proportion of products with higher levels of saturated fat and sodium as part of a broader set of sustainability targets unveiled Monday. Pepsi’s beverage portfolio includes its flagship cola, Mountain Dew, Tropicana orange juice and Gatorade energy drinks. One 12-ounce can of Mountain Dew contains 46 grams of sugar.
Read more at http://www.mb.com.ph/pepsico-steps-up-push-for-reduced-sugarydrinks/#QmWrRbG3WsdAzjHD.99
Raising funds for farmers via crowdsourcing By: Michelle Ann A. Ruiz / @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:28 AM October 19, 2016 A newly formed millennial team is now making waves in the field of agribusiness with the objective of helping uplift the lives of Filipino farmers. Cropital, the team founded by Ruel Amparo, Rachel de Villa and Everett Ubiadas, is a crowdfunding startup that seeks to generate funds from both domestic and international sources for lending to Filipino farmers. With a capital of less than P10,000, representing portion of the prize money from a competition they won, members of the team launched in November last year Cropital and its crowdfunding platform. It did a pilot run in Bulacan that covered five hectares of farmland. Since the launch, Cropital has so far raised $60,000 or about P2.9 million that funded 40 farmers. Ruel Amparo, 24, says the team is now trying to expand its reach, help farmers, be instrumental in building communities and engage young players in this agribusiness venture. At present, Cropital is focusing on on rice and corn farmers. “I find the concept of crowdsourcing or sharing economy very interesting. It is quite similar to bayanihan, it harnesses the power of many. It links like-minded individuals and gear them toward something big,” Amparo said. The age of social media gave rise to Cropital’s online platform, linking farmers with investors. Posted online are the list of farmers in need of funding and their profiles. The intended farmer beneficiaries are verified and screened by concerned local government units. Cropital also seeks the help of nongovernment organizations, farmers groups and other institutions in identifying the beneficiaries. Interested farmers are required to submit certain requirements, including an application form and barangay clearance, and must pass the interview being done by Cropital. To cover weather risks, crop insurance is provided to farmers through Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. “The insurance cost is integrated in the capital to be raised for the farmers.” Users of the platform may choose the farmers they want to fund and the amount they will extend. Investors will get repaid with returns, the amount of which will depend on the farmer beneficiaries’ yield. Amparo believes Cropital could be a silver lining to the farmers’ plight.
“Cropital is one of the first players in tech-microfinancing. It is highly scalable. It can help lower farmers’ financing cost and help increase the farmers’ productivity through data analytics and economies of scale,” he said. In June, Cropital posted the names and profile of 15 farmers in need of funding. In less than 24 hours after posting, all 15 were fully funded, raising P1.5 million and 696 farm pledges. Amparo says Cropital protects the interests both of their investors and the beneficiary farmers. “In getting investors, we just do what we usually do. We post on our website their (farmers) their stories, background and technical capacity. We also share their personal background and their farming history…what crops they have planted before, the weather condition in their areas and the risks involved,” Amparo says. At present, the group is also focusing on building farming communities in Calabarzon and Central Luzon, Recently, they expanded to Benguet and the province of Quezon. Cropital is a multiawarded social enterprise. The team was recognized by the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Center, Startup Summit Philippines, Young Entrepreneurs Society Philippines and Youth Entrepreneurship Development Workshop, Go Negosyo. The team is currently under the Department of Science and Technology Enterprise, a technology business incubator. “Our vision is to cover as many farmers as we can and improve our processes and selection criteria along the way. We are conducting a series of iteration (to ensure) that the process that we have is correct and we study to further improve it. (We’re) working on coming up with the ideal setup, and the ideal phase for us to make sure that we will help make these farmers successful,” Amparo says.
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RFM profit rises 9% on strong sales Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:18 AM October 19, 2016 RFM Corp., the Conception family’s food and beverage manufacturer and retailer, said earnings rose in the first nine months of the year, led by its pasta and dairy segments. RFM said net income during the period hit P683 million, up 9 percent from year-ago level. Total revenue hit P8.73 billion, up from P8.41 billion posted in the same period last year. The company said it could sustain that performance through the last quarter of 2016. Consumer companies tend to do well in the fourth quarter, as spending increases in the run-up to the busy Christmas season. ADVERTISEMENT According to RFM President and CEO Jose A. Concepcion III, sales of branded consumer goods under Selecta ice cream, Fiesta pasta, and Selecta Milk, posted “strong growth” during the first nine months of 2016. The gains came despite the onset of La Niña. The company also credited the increase to its marketing efforts and promotions highlighting “affordability.” As a result, ice cream sales sustained its double digit rise. Moreover, RFM said its “P59 pastaand-sauce dish TV campaign” during the third quarter also supported Fiesta pasta’s growth momentum. Likewise, RFM’s Royal pasta brand also launched its P135 pasta-and-sauce spaghetti dish bundle that improved topline. Selecta Milk continued to post strong growth behind strong sales of Selecta white milk line. Meanwhile, soft prices in the flour business weighed down on total company revenue growth for the nine-month period. In addition, the discontinuation of traded products under Dole brand offset growth in the consumer business “to a small extent only.” —Miguel R. Camus
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Sweet smell of success for ‘sampaguita’ growers By: Gabriel Cardiñoza / @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:10 AM October 19, 2016 MANAOAG, PANGASINAN–With almost surgical precision, Jaypee de Guzman plucks buds from sampaguita growing in his farm. He drops each of them into large pockets of an apron wrapped around his waist. It’s a task he has learned to master since 2002 when his family decided to plant sampaguita, also known as Philippine jasmine or Jasminum sambac, in their 1.5-hectare farm in Barangay Baritao here, about 2.5 kilometers southwest of the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag. Blooming period He has to harvest as many mature buds as possible, starting at 6 a.m. every day. Lei makers only want the buds and the sampaguita flowers start to bloom within 12 to 20 hours—opening fully between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. when the temperature drops. With 2,000 plants to cover, De Guzman and his farm hands spend three hours to choose and harvest the mature buds. By mid-morning, the buds are sorted and weighed before they are sold to waiting buyers from other Pangasinan towns and neighboring La Union province and Baguio City. The buyers string the buds into leis, which are peddled to churchgoers and jeepney drivers. Sampaguita, also known as the national flower, has been a profitable trade for most of the 5,000 Baritao residents, according to barangay captain Victor Ayson Jr. Growers earn at least P3,000 a day during the peak season from March to May and P700 a day during the off-season, he said. The price during peak season is from P25 to P30 per “tabo” (dipper). But during off-season, it’s from P100 to P150 per tabo, said Ayson. Aside from De Guzman, his cousin Ricky and a neighbor are also growing sampaguita commercially in the village. The combined area of their farms is about 5 hectares with more than 5,000 plants, making it the biggest sampaguita plantation in the province.
But it is not only the growers who are earning. The bud pickers, who, Ayson said, usually come from the neighborhood, make P10 for every tabo of sampaguita buds that they collect. Mercedes Gorospe, 70, who manually assembles the sampaguita buds into leis, said that with a capital of P200 for two dippers of sampaguita buds, she can produce 800 leis. Using a big needle and an abaca thread, Gorospe skillfully stitches three sampaguita buds on each side of the lei and attaches a pendant, either an “ylang ylang” or “camia” flower, which is available in her backyard. She then passes the leis to vendors at P60 for every 100 pieces, orP480 for all the leis she has produced, easily giving her a profit ofP280. Frankie Cercado, 18, a vendor, said he sells the sampaguita leis at P20 for every bundle consisting of six leis. He said he makes at least P300 a day. Another vendor, Maryjane Velasco, said that with a capital of P100 to buy the leis, she sells three leis for P10 and earns P120 on weekdays and more on Saturdays and Sundays when pilgrims flock to the church here. Shift from corn to sampaguita De Guzman said his father thought of shifting their crop from corn to sampaguita when he saw a neighbor make good from the sampaguita he planted in his backyard. “We started with 1,000 cuttings, which we bought from Binalonan (town). Then we planted 1,000 more cuttings weeks later,” he said. Unlike corn, which has to be planted every year, sampaguita is only planted once. “You just have to take care of it by making sure that pests will not feast on its leaves and branches,” De Guzman said. He said a sampaguita shrub should also be pruned and defoliated at least once a year to initiate flowering and enhance bud production. Pruning also limits the height of the shrub to below five feet for easier harvesting of buds. “You also have to remove the weeds around the plant regularly and then apply fertilizer,” De Guzman said. De Guzman and the other farmers did not undergo any training in sampaguita growing. “You just have to be patient and industrious,” he said. The sampaguita that farmers here are growing is the single petal variety because it flowers yearround, unlike the double petal variety, which flowers only once a year.
At dusk during summer, when the matured sampaguita buds they missed in the morning finally open into full bloom, a sweet flowery fragrance fills the air in the village. To De Guzman and the other farmers, it’s the sweet smell of success.
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DOF wants private sector role in rice importation By: Ben O. de Vera / @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:56 AM October 18, 2016
The Department of Finance (DOF) has thrown its support to plans of imposing a tariff on rice imports, saying this was more beneficial to the rice sector readying to become an open market. At the Senate agriculture and food committee hearing on Monday, state-run think tank Philippine Institute of Development Studies (Pids) urged a shift from the current quantitative restriction (QR) regime, which puts a quota on imports. Pids research fellow Lovely Ann C. Tolin recommended slapping a 35-percent tariff on imported rice after the QR lapses in July next year. Tolin also urged providing a funding support for farmers, which could be sourced from the tariff collection. The tariff system and funding support “can be authorized by suitable amendment to the Agricultural Tariffication Act with the proviso that the executive can specify implementation details,” Tolin said, referring to Republic Act No. 8178. Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran said the agency “supports removing import restrictions on rice and transferring rice importations to the private sector.”
Curbing corruption “We believe that this will lessen opportunities for corruption and also incentivize greater investment in the rice sector. The uncertainty over the timing and levels of imports on domestic sales by the [National Food Authority] has resulted in underinvestment in milling, drying and storage,” Beltran said. “Also, the uncertainty of business terms within the private sector has also diminished the investment incentives in rice markets. These deficiencies cannot be eradicated by simply removing quota management processes. They must be addressed through tariffication,” Beltran added. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol, however, was seeking a grace period of “two more years starting now” before the QR on rice is removed to allow farmers to adjust to an expected influx of imports under an open market setup.
The National Economic and Development Authority earlier disclosed the decision of a majority of economic managers to remove the Philippines’ quota on rice importation, as the government moves to lower the price of the said Filipino staple food. In 2014, the World Trade Organization (WTO) allowed the Philippines to extend its QR on rice until June 30, 2017 in a bid to buy more time for local farmers to prepare for free trade. Meager supply Since the government imposes a quota on rice imports, domestic prices are vulnerable to shocks resulting from meager supply. The QR system puts the burden of rice supply and demand on the government, whereas market forces are limited by the quota system. Pundits say importation should be done by the private sector in order to allow market forces to determine prices. The extended QR slaps a 35-percent duty on imported rice under a minimum access volume (MAV) of 805,200 metric tons. Importation outside of the MAV limit are levied a higher tariff of 50 percent. The Philippines’ most favored nation rate—the additional tariff imposed when imported outside of Asean—on the commodity remains at about 40 percent. The WTO first allowed the Philippines to impose a 10-year quota system for rice importation in 1995. The QR was then extended in 2004 and then lapsed in 2012. It was renewed anew in 2014. Read more: http://business.inquirer.net/216870/dof‐wants‐private‐sector‐role‐in‐rice‐ importation#ixzz4NUzjzG3o Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
PH airs plea to fight climate change Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:44 AM October 18, 2016 The Philippines has urged governments to help raise an estimated $100 billion to fight climate change. “We need to put in more effort in getting the rest of the world involved in shaping the road map toward assisting us with the $100 billion in additional financing flows we direly need by 2020,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said in a speech at the Vulnerable 20 (V20) HighLevel Ministerial Meeting in Washington, DC early this month. “We are asking for a clear road map toward the mobilization of $100 billion in additional financing flows to help the most vulnerable countries protect themselves from the ill effects of global warming,” added Dominguez, who as current Philippine finance chief was the outgoing chairperson of V20. The V20 now groups 43 countries deemed most vulnerable to climate change, from 20 initially, hence the name “Vulnerable 20.” For Dominguez, “global warming has started to take its toll on vulnerable countries, and for V20 members, an effective international response has become a matter of survival.” Dominguez noted that the adverse effects of global warning include desertification, droughts and rising sea levels. In the case of the Philippines, Dominguez said the country had invested $20 million in a “people’s survival fund” in order to “help build the country’s resilience in fighting climate change.” “Our plans to build resilience and develop while protecting the climate and our people are also among the most ambitious of any country in the world—this despite the tremendous limits of our capacities. International cooperation will therefore provide our domestic economies with vital support and confidence we need to excel in fighting climate change,” Dominguez said. –Ben O. de Vera
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