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Improvements in gov’t financing programs urged By: Amy R. Remo - Reporter / @amyremoINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:39 AM November 26, 2016 The Social Housing Finance Corp. (SHFC) should undertake measures to further improve a government financing program and enable more organized informal settler families (ISFs) to purchase land, according to state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies. A PIDS policy note authored by Marife M. Ballesteros, Tatum P. Ramos, and Jasmine E. Magtibay pointed out that the SHFC has set a number of qualifications and requirements for the ISFs that tend to prevent the poor from becoming beneficiaries of the Community Mortgage Program (CMP). “(The CMP) is focused on land tenure and failed to lead communities to transform into better neighborhoods. Necessary actions must therefore be undertaken to improve the program,” said the note entitled, “Is the Community Mortgage Program pro poor?” “The SHFC should be proactive in the identification of ISF communities. This would require the SHFC to map out the location of ISFs and the areas where poverty rate is highest. This should be done to improve the prioritization of areas and the targeting of ISF communities,” it stated. For the poor Established in 1988, the CMP is being administered by the SHFC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Home Mortgage Finance Corp. The goal under this program was for the poor or the near-poor ISFs, which have no access to housing loans from private banks, to be able to borrow through the program, according to the policy note. The government has allocated at least P12.78 billion for its implementation under the Republic Act (RA) No. 7835 of 1994. An additional P20 billion has been provided through the ISF Housing Program of 2014–2017 intended for the High-Density Housing Program projects of the SHFC. According to the note, several studies consider the CMP as an innovative housing program most responsive to the needs of the low-income sector. It provides ISFs with affordable financing through which they can secure tenure on the land they wish to occupy or they currently occupy.

It explained that loans are granted to community associations (CAs), where ISFs must belong to enjoy the benefits of the program. More specifically, the CMP implements a gradual financing strategy from land acquisition, site development to house improvement. CAs with good repayment performance can apply for additional loans for site development and home improvement. “This strategy has allowed ISFs to access loans based on their present financial capacities. The program likewise grants the payment of housing loan on a fixed interest rate of 6 percent annually for 25 years. This interest rate is not risk based and remains constant for the 25-year tenure of the loan,” the policy note explained. The sustainability of this program, however, remains in question, it said. “For instance, 52 percent of the CMP accounts at the member beneficiary (MB) level are already past due as of February 2015. Of these accounts, 61 percent can already be considered dormant, i.e., accounts that are past due for more than three years. Given the government’s significant subsidy to the CMP, it is crucial to assess whether the program is really targeting the interests of the poor and their communities,” the authors pointed out. Processes, requirements For one, the PIDS note stated that an assessment of the CMP guidelines and processes showed that the poor can be excluded from the program due to a number of reasons. These include the equity requirement for amounts exceeding the maximum loanable amount per beneficiary; the CAs’ rule on member inclusion and exclusion; and the rule on beneficiary substitution after loan takeout. “Equity requirements tend to push the poor or those with volatile income away from the program. More often, the poor households exclude themselves from communities that access CMP loans because they are unable to raise the equity,” the note stated. The SHFC, the note stated, “does not target specific ISF communities or households. Instead, targets are set based on a minimum takeout value for each year. Moreover, SHFC rarely interacts with ISF communities. Should there be any interaction, it is limited to the background investigation on CAs with loan applications.” Further, the note claimed that many CMP communities “remain blighted, lack basic services, and are not integrated into the city’s road network.” Recommendations

To better achieve the goals set out for the CMP, the PIDS policy note thus stressed the need to address several issues. One of these would be the exclusion of poor ISFs due to the equity requirements of the CMP, which was bound to increase as urban land prices increase. This condition, the note stated, requires the agency to design and implement an income- based subsidy scheme to enable access of the poor to community projects. “Overall, the CMP has addressed only one aspect of adequate shelter, which is securing land tenure. The expected transformation of CMP communities into safe and habitable communities did not happen in some of the CMP projects,” the note stated. “Nevertheless, it can already be said that the focus of the program on financing and land ownership and the neglect of subdivision planning and city level planning as well as community development have created difficulties in site improvements in the later stage and resulted in blighted conditions,” it further explained. The note added: “the CMP is intended to produce better housing communities for the poor and disadvantaged sector with financing as a tool to achieve this objective. This development objective should be the heart of the program. A transformative approach will have multiplier effects in terms of funding and will effectively contribute to increase affordable housing because better CMP communities will also be able to provide shelter to other lower-income households through rental arrangements.”

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Century Properties continues to take lead, remains industry’s game changer By: Theresa S. Samaniego - @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 04:51 AM November 26, 2016

Century Properties Group Chairman and CEO Jose E. B. Antonio (5th from left) and wife Hilda Reyes Antonio (7th from left) with the company’s board of directors: (from left) Marco R. Antonio, Robbie Antonio, Ricardo Cuerva, Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr.,Washington Sycip (former independent director and now senior advisor to the board), John Victor R. Antonio, Carlo R. Antonio and Rafael Yaptinchay. Behind all the glitz and glamour was a sincere, heartfelt desire to thank every individual who, in one way or another, had been instrumental in the tremendous success and sustained growth of Century Properties Group. Standing before a well-heeled crowd and some of the country’s most prominent personalities, Century Properties Chairman and CEO Jose E. B. Antonio took a moment to express his gratitude and share the story of how their company, from its humble beginnings, managed to “reach for the extraordinary” over the last three decades. “I am deeply touched by your presence here tonight. As we celebrate our 30th anniversary, we would like to make this an evening of thanksgiving. So we’d like to thank all our partners, shareholders, investors, clients and homeowners. Thank you for your support and your continued trust and confidence in us. To our bankers, thank you for continuing to help us grow bigger and better. Thirty years went by so fast but we remember and could not forget certain milestones,” Antonio said.

Antonio recalled how they were able to set up Century Properties in 1986, then a period of great instability, and went from there to carve a niche in the local real estate market, as well as earn the respect and adulation of some of the most renowned personalities in the local and international scene.

Franco Laurel, Stephanie Kienle Gonzalez and Cristian Gonzalez,Marcel Crespo, Marco Antonio and Stephen Sieh of Premeiro Partners “Our company started in 1986 with six people in one of the most uncertain times of our country’s history. Two weeks later, came the People Power revolution. Since then we rode four economic cycles and hurdled many challenges and opportunities and with perseverance and hard work, we were able to weather them,” Antonio shared among guests, closest friends and trusted partners. It was indeed a proud moment for Antonio, the man whose company had withstood various economic cycles yet managed to emerge an even stronger contender in the highly competitive world of real estate development. This was the same man who broke the barriers, raised the bar in upscale living, and introduced the Philippines to the world and vice versa. Antonio and Century Properties were the gamechangers of the industry, allowing Filipinos to get a glimpse of what it’s like to live the Paris Hilton lifestyle, imbibe the Donald Trump prestige, and live the essence of design powerhouses like of Missoni, Armani, and Versace. But what really set the mood during the celebration, held at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel last November 24, was Antonio’s recollection about a man who had been very instrumental in the fulfillment of his dreams—Henry Sy Sr. “Special thanks to a person who gave me my first loan which I shall never forget, in 1987, a modest amount but it was used to partly help build our first condominium project. I’d like to particularly thank Mr. Henry Sy for believing in me. And thank you Tessie, to you and your family,” Antonio said.

Meanwhile, Antonio also paid tribute to clients from 50 countries who continue to patronize the company’s various gamechanging developments, as he committed to continue creating products that customers will be truly proud of. “Thanks to all especially our people, our consultants, and brand partners. Thank you for bringing us to where we are today. Allow me at this point to particularly thank three special persons who supported me throughout this journey. My wife Hilda, who was steadfastly there taking care of and watching over our four boys and her persistence that continue for us all to work with passion and excellence, and; My mother Virginia, who is now watching us from Heaven and my dad who is here tonight and who was with from the beginning and up to this day. Thank you for all your sacrifices,” he concluded. It was a festive mood that ruled the night with entertainment provided by singer-actress Vina Morales and singer-actor Piolo Pascual, both Century homeowners, as well as Gary Valenciano. There were a;sp cocktails and drinks, followed by a sumptuous sit-down dinner course—all reflecting the company’s innate sophistication, class, and appreciation for the finer things.

Washington Sycip

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Gov’t bonds eyed to fund closure of ‘zombie’ mines Philippine Daily Inquirer / 02:37 AM November 26, 2016

Miners competed at the recent Mine Safety and Environment Week in Baguio City to show their skills in reducing risks at work, like putting out fire in their work sites. —EV ESPIRITU BAGUIO CITY—How do we kill “zombie” mine sites? An economist said the Duterte administration could design a government bond dedicated to financing the closure of abandoned mines. Over 800 mines have not been shut down properly or have been abandoned without proper rehabilitation, but “like zombies, they died but are still moving around trying to eat people,” said Patrick Caoile, economics professor of the De La Salle University and a former mining executive. These are mines whose owners could no longer be found or are “financially unable or unwilling to rehabilitate their sites,” Caoile said. These continue to exert a “malevolent effect on their afterlife,” and hound an industry that is facing criticism not only from antimine advocates but also from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Caoile said at the national mine safety and environment symposium held here last week. He said closing down abandoned mines has become an immediate concern given the impact of climate change. But financing their closure has become a problem for the government, he said, since it was not clear who was responsible for these mine sites.

A “legacy bond,” however, could be suited for that purpose, Caoile said. A bond is a debt instrument which government sells to corporations, banks or investors to raise capital for a specific project. Caoile said the government could consider patterning the legacy bond after the “Brady bond,” a debt-relief initiative led by the United States government to help bail out developing countries in the late 1980s. “Basically the idea [for a legacy bond] is risk and reward,” Caoile said. Since there is enormous risk with abandoned mines, the reward should complement or match the risk, including the opportunity to reopen and rehabilitate these mines, he said. Reviving abandoned mines is allowed by law, he added. Some of these mines are located in the Cordillera region, where these operated during the American colonial period. Fay Apil, Cordillera regional director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, said the reopening and rehabilitation of these mines would require extensive studies “because we need to ensure that the tunnels are safe and there are no gases that would harm workers.” The companies that operated the abandoned mines on Kennon Road here, for example, no longer exist, “and the government would need money to close the mines properly,” she said. — VINCENT CABREZA

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28th Philippine eagle hatched in captivity in Davao center Philippine Daily Inquirer / 02:35 AM November 26, 2016

NEWEST CHICKThe latest eagle hatched in captivity is now three weeks old and about 5 inches long. —PHILIPPINE EAGLE FOUNDATION DAVAO CITY—The Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) on Friday announced that it successfully hatched another eagle in captivity. The still unnamed eaglet is now three weeks old, having broken out of its shell on Nov. 4. The PEF said the eagle, the 28th hatched in captivity, measures 4 to 5 inches tall and weighs 488.3 grams.

“In the midst of continued mortality and persecution in the wild, this hatching success underscores the importance of conservation breeding as way of securing this species’ gene pool,” Dennis Salvador, PEF executive director, said in a statement. Salvador said the eaglet became the third “successfully hatched offspring” of eagles MVP (male) and Go Phoenix (female) after Sinag and Chick 27. MVP and Go Phoenix were adopted eagles of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and Edisy Trading, respectively. “The chick showed no signs of deformities. It is active and in fact, has a big appetite,” said Colin Santander, PEF animal keeper.

The Philippine Eagle is considered an endangered species because of its rapidly declining population. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature classifies the species as “critically endangered.” In July 1995, then President Fidel Ramos declared the Philippine Eagle the national bird. A pair of Philippine Eagles needs 7,000 to 13,000 hectares of rain forest to survive. However, deforestation continues to pose a serious threat to their population. Only about 400 pairs of eagles are left in the wild. The PEF, which depends heavily on donations for its projects, has been at the forefront of the campaign to save the eagles. —JOSELLE R. BADILLA

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Experts warn of another ‘Sendong’ amid loss of forest cover Philippine Daily Inquirer / 02:25 AM November 26, 2016 CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—A repeat of the the 2011 devastation wrought by Tropical Storm “Sendong” in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, where floods killed more than 1,000 people, is not farfetched if nothing is done about the vanishing forest cover and siltation of rivers here, environment experts and advocates warned. “Many areas in the river basin are already barren that, if [we are hit] with several inches of rain, a catastrophe could happen, especially to the people living in downstream communities and along the path of the Cagayan de Oro River,” Raoul Geollegue, president of the Watershed Management Coalition (WMC), said during the third International River Summit here on Thursday. When Sendong (international name: Washi) hit the region five years ago, the river overflowed, submerging the city and nearby Iligan villages with floodwater as high as 9.14 meters (30 feet), killing people and destroying crops and property. Environmentalists blamed deforestation and siltation for the tragedy. Experts who spoke at the summit noted with alarm the diminishing forest cover in the upland areas of Northern Mindanao and along the path of major rivers. Geollegue said the forest cover of the 137,933-hectare river basin that keeps the Cagayan de Oro River alive is now “scanty, inadequate and in bad shape,” citing a report from the Cagayan de Oro River Basin Management Council (CDORBMC). Only 24 percent of the basin’s forest cover remains, way below the ideal forest cover of at least 40 percent . “What the river basin needs, is massive reforestation in the denuded spots,” he said, as he urged local officials and the community to do their part. The river basin sources its headwaters from the upper slopes of Mt. Kalatungan and Mt. Kitanglad and drains to the main stream of the Cagayan de Oro River. Improper cultivation and land use practices across the slopes and foothills of the mountains contributed to the denudation problem, the CDORBMC report said. Geollegue said the national government, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, must allocate enough funds to reforest the river basin.

Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno said the tragedy brought about by Sendong tested the city’s resilience and resolve to rise from the devastation. He said Cagayan de Oro and its people rose from a difficult situation, “emerging stronger, building back better.” Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, head of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, said everybody should work together to engage in disaster mitigation, adaptation and anticipation of calamities. —JIGGER JERUSALEM

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New farm road brings relief to Compostela farmers By Manuel Cayon November 25, 2016 DAVAO CITY – A new farm road in insurgency-wracked Compostela Valley brought relief to farmers in the interior villages previously burdened by expensive transport and hauling costs. The 11.74-kilometer road in Compostela town, newly rehabilitated and paved with concrete under the Philippine Rural Development Project, will speed up the transport of vegetables and agricultural products to the nearby town market in Nabunturan. The concrete road connects the barangays of New Alegria and Gabi in Compostela, and barangays Basak, Magading and Pangutosan in Nanbunturan. The road project was done with a budget of P109.44 million, as part of the infrastructure development support to community projects. Farmer Peter Jumigop said farm products usually take days to reach the markets either in Compostela town or in Nabunturan, especially on rainy days when they have to wade through knee-length muddy paths. “Before, our road was just the pathway paved by carabaos which carry our produce. There was no decent road,” he said in a story dispatched by the PRDP to the news outfits. Jumigop said it would take them three days to have their rice threshed. “It’s even worse when it rains, because the palay would already sprout.” The Compostela farm road project is considered one of “big-ticket FMR projects in Mindanao” funded under the Department of Agriculture’s PRDP. It is expected to considerably cut hauling fees and transport time for farmers. Farmer Raul Bogani said they used to pay P15 per sack of goods “with motor vehicles transporting their produce to the market”. “But the situation is different now. We do not pay for hauling anymore. With a good road, buyers with vehicles can easily procure our rice by the side of the road,” Bogani said. In the Nabunturan side of the road, Purisima Llabore, a farmer in Basak said “there are harvesters, tractors who could just collect our produce because of the better road”. Basak village chief Danilo Cuevas said other benefits could be felt immediately, such as farmers being able to send their children to school “since their expenses in the farm are minimized with a better road.‐farm‐road‐brings‐relief‐to‐compostela‐farmers/ 

SEIPI sees natural gas as a potential alternative to coal By BusinessMirror November 25, 2016

The Semiconductor and Electronics Industries Foundation, Inc. (SEIPI) congratulates its Annual Business Partner, First Gen, on the inauguration of its 414-MW San Gabriel combined-cycle and 97-MW Avion open cycle natural gas-fired power plants in Santa Rita, Batangas, last November 11, 2106. First Gen owns the 1,000-megawatt Santa Rita and the 500-megawatt San Lorenzo natural gasfired power plants that are actually generating electricity that lowers the bills to consumers of Meralco (Manila Electric Company) another SEIPI ABP. SEIPI welcomes the inauguration of the new power plants, which provides much needed additional generating capacity to the Luzon Grid. As noted by Dr. John Morris of the International Energy Consultant in his May 2016 “Regional/Global Comparison of Electricity Tariffs” study, the Philippines should “focus on facilitating investment in new generation to meet rapid demand growth and promote competition”. SEIPI said that these new investments will create more competition, not just among power plants, but also among fuels. Based on July data from Meralco’s website, natural gas can be a cheaper source of power. Dan Lachica, SEIPI President, says that, “One of the major challenges faced by the electronics industry is the high cost of power, which is the 2nd worst in Asia. The additional 511 MW from these natural gas power plants is a welcome development for our Philippine electronics industry.” In 2015, the Philippine electronics industry accounted for $28.9 billion, or 49% of our country’s merchandise exports. The industry employs 2.8 million direct and indirect workers.‐sees‐natural‐gas‐as‐a‐potential‐alternative‐to‐coal/ 

A Scarborough EO might provoke a reaction Published November 26, 2016, 12:05 AM 

Filipino fishermen thanked President Duterte profusely when they were finally allowed to return to their old fishing grounds at Scarborough Shoal — known to us as Panatag or Bajo de Masinloc — last month after four years that they were blocked by Chinese vessels claiming the area as Chinese territory. The President had just been to Beijing on a state visit and as a sign of goodwill, China allowed the fishermen back to Scarborough. During the state visit, the President had pointedly declared he was not raising any legal issue of jurisdiction or sovereignty. He was just going to appeal for the fishermen so they could resume their livelihood. Last week, during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting in Lima, Peru, President Duterte informed China President Xi Jinping he wants to declare the shoal a marine sanctuary and ban fishing within the shoal, as it is a spawning area for various marine life. A spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Geng Shuang, had no comment on the plan, saying only: “China’s sovereignty and jurisdiction over Huangyan (China’s name for Scarborough) has not and will not change.” The issue here is jurisdiction. To China, Scarborough is Chinese territory. But President Duterte wants to issue an executive order to ban fishing within the shoal.

With the issuance of such an executive order, how will China react? It would be unfortunate if China takes this move as an affront to its authority and reimpose its old ban on Philippine fishermen. The fishermen, through Fernando Hicap, chairman of the fishermen support group Pamalakaya, deplored the other day that “it is now our own law and government, not China,” that would prohibit them from fishing. Actually, they should understand that the proposed Duterte EO ban is only for the spawning grounds within the shoal, not the surrounding waters which also teem with fish. So they should have no trouble getting enough fish. The real problem is how China will respond to President Duterte issuing an executive order in apparent contravention of China’s claim to sovereignty and jurisdiction. We hope it will take it all in stride, say nothing about the EO, and continue to let the fishermen come. The danger is that the Chinese officials might react negatively to this seeming challenge to their authority and reimpose their old ban on our fishermen.‐scarborough‐eo‐might‐provoke‐a‐reaction/                               

Piñol vows clampdown on onion trade syndicates Published November 25, 2016, 10:00 PM 

by Vanne Elaine P. Terrazola Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol vowed to dismantle huge syndicates found to be taking advantage of the country’s onion and garlic trading. In a Facebook post Friday, Piñol said a few powerful and rich groups controlling the local bulb onion and garlic trade will continue to cause huge losses to farmers should they not be stopped. “It took me sometime before I clearly understood how this oppressive system of controlling the prices of bulb onion and garlic works in the country,” read his post. His statement, amid the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) plan to restrict onion and garlic imports. Just recently, the DA had cancelled all import permits for meat and poultry products because of technical smuggling by importers “recycling” their import papers twice or thrice in connivance with unscrupulous government personnel. According to Piñol, there are a number of groups who pretend to be onion and garlic industry stakeholders and then control the importation, including smuggling, of bulb onion and garlic into the country. The syndicates, Piñol explained, take advantage of the off-harvest season when the government allows heavy importation and bring in huge quantities of bulb onion and garlic, which they then hoard in their warehouses. Then, when the harvest season of local onion and garlic starts, they release their hoarded stocks in the market to bring down the prices of the local products. In doing so, the country would be dependent on imported onion and garlic.


Lopez stays as DENR chief to pursue mining tack Published November 25, 2016, 10:01 PM 

By Madelaine B. Miraflor Gina Lopez said she is still the secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and that her fight against destructive mining operations in the country will continue.


DENR Sec. Gina Lopez In a phone interview, Lopez cleared the issue that she has not been reappointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as the DENR chief. “I talked to Presidential management and this is what happened. My paper for reappointment was put together with all the undersecretaries and assistant secretaries I am recommending that’s why the President wasn’t able to see it and sign everything,” Lopez told Business Bulletin. “My paper was overlooked. So now, they took it and the President was able to sign it,” she added. DENR Assistant Secretary Rommel Abesamis seconded this, saying that there hasn’t been any news within the DENR that Lopez wasn’t reappointed.

Now that the smoke is clear, Lopez said she will still push for the poverty alleviation programs that she have started, especially now that the DENR will get a higher budget of nearly P29 billion next year. “I do things not for political reasons. The heart and soul of what I do is to provide social justice to the poor,” Lopez said. The Senate on Tuesday night approved the proposed P28.67-billion budget of the DENR for 2017, which is 31 percent higher than the agency’s P21.8-billion allocation for this year. Bulk of the budget will be used by the agency for its poverty alleviation programs which will prioritize massive reforestation and climate change initiatives. Lopez said that a bigger budget would help the department fulfill its commitment to social justice through the implementation of environmental programs, notably the National Greening Program (NGP). According to Lopez, the budget increase “mirrors the Duterte administration’s push for social justice where majority of the Filipino people truly benefit from the country’s natural resources.” The environment chief has been eyeing the NGP, the government’s flagship reforestation program, as a tool to improve the lives of people living in poverty. NGP is a six-year massive forest rehabilitation program that aimed to cover 1.5 million hectares of degraded forestland with trees by the end of 2016. But it was extended until 2028 through an executive order issued in November 2015 in a bid to rehabilitate 7.1 million hectares more. As of November 2016, the NGP has already created more than 3.29 million “green jobs,” benefiting individuals hired as workers in producing almost 400 million seedlings. For 2017, the DENR is also asking Congress to allocate P9.4 billion for NGP’s implementation. Out of the nearly P29 billion, only P3.37 billion was earmarked for DENR’s two-line bureaus. The Environmental Management Bureau will obtain the bigger chunk of P2.2 billion to implement projects on solid waste management, clean air and clean water, while the Mines and Geosciences Bureau is allocated P1.15 billion for its mining regulation services and geohazard assessment and mapping.‐stays‐as‐denr‐chief‐to‐pursue‐mining‐tack/     

Nuclear tech important in agriculture Published November 25, 2016, 10:00 PM 

By Zac B. Sarian

When the word “nuclear” is in the newspapers, it is usually about the aborted Bataan Nuclear Plant for which we are paying a big sum to this day. Very rarely do we read about the benefits that nuclear science and technology contributes to agriculture. Well, people will have a chance to appreciate the value of nuclear science in agriculture and other fields such as industry, medicine and environment when the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute will open its doors on December 5 to 9. That’s when PNRI-DOST will celebrate the 44th Atomic Energy Week.


SEEDLESS CALAMANSI THROUGH IRRIDIATION – The late national scientist Dr. Benito S. Vergara was able to produce seedless (or almost seedless) calamansi through irradiation of the budsticks used for budding or grafting. Most of the trees produced seedless fruits although there were a few fruits with one or two seeds. This resulted in more juice obtained from each fruit. Ordinarily, the local calamansi has as many as 8 to 10 seeds each. During the five-day celebration, the agency will feature the latest advances in nuclear science and technology, focusing on the theme “Teknolohiyang Nukleyar para sa Kaunlaran ni Juan.” The Institute will provide free guided tours to the exhibits and selected PNRI facilities and laboratories to students, teachers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and the public . Experts will give presentations during the technical sessions on the beneficial applications of nuclear science and technology on December 5 and 6.

The Philippine Nuclear Youth Summit (PNYS) will be held on December 7. This will serve as a forum for the youth to share information and knowledge and offer high school and college students as well as young professionals a voice in the future and inspire them to pursue a career in nuclear science. Speaking of beneficial applications in agriculture, the latest we know is that carrageenan extracted from seaweed and further degraded into minute particles through irradiation has been proven to boost rice yields from 15 to 30 percent. This was observed in multi-location trials in Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Iloilo. The product called Carrageenan Plant Growth Regulator (CPGR) has been observed to produce more tillers. It also makes the stems stronger, hence more resistant to lodging. It also promotes resistance to tungro virus and bacterial leaf blight. Years earlier, PNRI scientists were also able to produce new rice varieties with desirable characteristics like having higher yields, resistance to pests and diseases, and other desirable traits. These varieties have been turned over to PhilRice and are probably among those that they are using for breeding new rice varieties. SEEDLESS CALAMANSI – The late national scientist Dr. Benito S. Vergara was able to produce seedless or almost seedless calamansi by irradiating the budsticks he used for budding and grafting. STERILE FRUITFLIES – We also remember the time when PNRI produced millions of male fruitflies which were irradiated to make them sterile. These were released in the mango plantations in Guimaras Island so they would mate with the female fruitflies there, resulting in eggs that never hatched. ORNAMENTAL PLANTS – Irradiation is also used to produce mutant ornamental plants. Just like the dwarf kamuning which was about the first ornamental mutant produced by PNRI. Plants that are only two or three inches tall are already fruiting and are considered curiosity plants. The same can be made into bonsai or cultured into full-grown plants that are dwarf. Today, Boyet Ganigan and Dr. Jay Silvestre are producing mutants through irradiation. Among the remarkable ones they have produced are the green asplenium (pakpak lawin) and lots of mutant Sansevierias. By irradiating the spores of the asplenium, they have produced plants with golden leaves. In the case of Sansevieria (often called Espada or mother-in-law’s tongue), they irradiated the leaves of different varieties and were able to produce new colors and forms. You can see some of them in their exhibit at the PNRI during the observance of the 44th Atomic Energy Week at the Institute’s headquarters in Diliman, Quezon City.‐tech‐important‐in‐agriculture/   

Greenpeace urges microbead ban to protect ocean life posted November 25, 2016 at 10:59 am by AFP Environmental group Greenpeace is calling for a ban in Britain on plastic "microbeads," found in many cosmetics, which they warn pollute the oceans and poison marine life. Campaigners want a total ban on the tiny particles -- which are too small to be filtered -- in products that are commonly washed down the drains. Although only making up a fraction of the five to 12 million tonnes of plastic discharged into the oceans each year, these small beads are "probably the most harmful," said Erik Van Sebille, oceanographer and climate scientist at Imperial College London. "The smaller (the plastic) is, the most harmful it is," he told a news conference Thursday on the Greenpeace ship "Esperanza," moored near Tower Bridge in central London. "Most animals won't eat an entire plastic bag, so the smaller it is, the easier it is to be ingested." He said there was evidence that the excess of plastic was causing harm to sea creatures, including stopping oysters from reproducing. The tiny balls, which can be as small as 0.1 millimetres, are found in numerous cosmetic products, from facial scrubs and exfoliators to shower gels and toothpaste. A 125ml tube of exfoliating cream can contain several hundred thousand microbeads, usually made from polyethylene, explained David Santillo, a researcher for Greenpeace at Exeter University. Too small to be picked up by water treatment filters, they enter the oceans where they are "very effective at picking up pollutants that are in sea water," said Santillo. These pollutants are then passed on to the fish, crustaceans and microplankton that ingest them. - 'Turn back the clock' The British government is due to launch a three-month review process in December on plans to ban microbeads, amid mounting pressure from Greenpeace and other environmental groups. A petition calling for a ban has gathered more than 375,000 signatures. It urges Britain to follow the example of the United States and other countries which have taken action to limit their use.

Anticipating the ban, British supermarket chain Tesco will remove microbeads from its own brand cosmetic and household products by the end of 2016, the group's quality director Tim Smith announced on Thursday. He said Tesco had asked suppliers to effectively "turn back the clock" to before microbeads and use natural alternatives such as ground-down coconut shells. Cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson has pledged to remove microbeads from its products globally by the end of 2017 while toothpaste maker Colgate told AFP it hasn't used them since 2014. US corporation Procter & Gamble says on its website that it is "in the process of eliminating them from our toothpastes and cleansers." Greenpeace said it welcomed the British government's plans to ban microbeads but wants the legislation to go further to avoid loopholes, warning that the situation is only worsening. "By 2025, for every three tonnes of fish, there will be one tonne of plastic" in the oceans, said John Sauven, executive director for Greenpeace UK.‐main‐stories/222371/greenpeace‐urges‐microbead‐ban‐to‐ protect‐ocean‐life.html                         

SSS plans to increase investments in utilities posted November 25, 2016 at 08:10 pm by Gabrielle H. Binaday State-run Social Security System said Friday it plans to increase its investments up to 25 percent of utilities such as electricity and water companies to have more representation in these businesses. Social Security Commission chairman Amado Valdez said the pension fund could use its investment funds to empower over 33 million members by giving them a “louder voice” in sensitive key issues such as rate increases for electricity, water and other basic utilities. Valdez said while SSS investments primarily aimed to boost the pension fund’s earning capacity, enabling it to afford giving higher benefits for members, the fund should also find ways to capitalize on its huge potential to promote social justice.

Social Security Commission chairman Amado Valdez “It is already a given that SSS serves as a tool for social justice through the cross subsidies it provides – the young subsidize the old, the healthy subsidize the sick, those earning more subsidize those earning less, and even males subsidize females through SSS maternity benefits,” Valdez said. Valdez said “SSS should seek to bring this concept of social justice further by maximizing the use of SSS funds to gain representation in corporations involved in basic utilities such as electricity and water.” “This gives SSS members a louder voice during deliberations on water and power rate hikes, since these have a significant and direct impact on the lives of workers and SSS pensioners,” he said. SSS said it could use its investment funds to seek 25-percent ownership in utility corporations in return for the same percentage of their income.

“If rate hikes are justifiable and necessary, then SSS members will still benefit since the agency will receive higher income from its 25 percent share in the earnings,” SSS said. He said the proposal of SSS to implement the P2,000 pension increase in two tranches, with the initial P1,000 across-the-board pension hike scheduled in 2017 and the remaining P1,000 in 2022 or earlier, would provide SSS with additional funds that it could invest to enhance its generation of revenues. Valdez said the initial P1,000 pension increase would offer a win-win solution as SSS pensioners would immediately get much-needed financial assistance. He said it would also put SSS in a better position to manage the impact of the pension increase on SSS’ financial viability and earning capacity. “If we immediately increase pensions by P2,000, SSS funds will be depleted. It will force us to dip into our investment reserve fund just to afford the higher benefits. We also lose the opportunity to invest in utilities as well as infrastructure projects with a sovereign guarantee,” he said. Valdez said granting the P1,000 pension increase for the meantime would give SSS the chance to allocate its investible funds to more income-generating ventures, making it possible for SSS to grant the second P1,000 pension increase sooner without compromising its long-term financial viability.‐plans‐to‐increase‐investments‐in‐utilities.html                     

San Miguel teams up with PAJ for 2016 Binhi Awards posted November 25, 2016 at 07:25 pm by Anna Leah E. Gonzales San Miguel Corp. teamed up again with the Philippine Agricultural Journalists Inc. for the 2016 PAJ-SMC Binhi Awards, the group’s annual national agricultural journalism contest that is now open to online journalists. PAJ president Roman Floresca said the support of SMC, under president and chief operating officer RamonAng, to the Binhi Awards was a big boost to Philippine journalism and stakeholders in the agriculture sector. “We sincerely thank SMC for its strong support to the PAJ through four decades and counting, particularly the ‘Binhi Awards’ as we continue to raise the bar of coverage and reportage of the country’s agricultural developments and breakthroughs, and success stories of farmers, fishers, livestock raisers, food manufacturers, and agribusinessmen,” said Floresca. SMC and PAJ recently formalized the agreement at the SMC main office in Mandaluyong City. The PAJ Board designated PAJ vice president for internal affairs Noel Reyes as contest chair. The 2016 PAJ-SMC Binhi Awards will offer cash prizes, ranging from P15,000 to P50,000, for 17 individual and institutional contest categories. Starting this year, online journalists can now compete in three major categories, which include: agricultural journalist, agri-beat reporter, and environment journalist, where the first, second and third place winners will receive P50,000, P30,000 and P20,000 cash prizes, respectively. Reyes said that in previous years, only print journalists from national and regional newspapers, agricultural magazines and other publications vied for major and minor individual categories. Print and online journalists can compete in other four minor individual categories which include the agri news story, agri feature story, environment story, and climate story of the year. One winner per category will be awarded a P15,000 cash prize and a trophy. The other 2016 PAJ-SMC Binhi Awards minor categories are: agriphoto journalist; agri section of a national and regional or provincial newspaper; agri magazine; agri newsletter; national and regional agri radio program; national and regional agri TV program; and agri info and/or media campaign of government agency. Winners will each get P20,000 cash prize and trophy. The contest coverage is from Nov. 1, 2015 to Oct. 31, 2016, which means all entries should be published, uploaded or aired during the 12-month period.

Entries should be submitted on or before Dec. 16, 2016 to the 2016 PAJ-SMC Binhi Awards Committee, c/o Filipino Inventors Society Producer Cooperative, Ground floor, Delta Bldg., Quezon Ave. corner West Ave., Quezon City.‐miguel‐teams‐up‐with‐paj‐for‐2016‐binhi‐ awards.html                                         

Cagayan farmers get P32-M seeds By LEANDER C. DOMINGO, TMT on November 25, 2016 Regions TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan: The provincial government has distributed at least P32 million worth of seeds to 28 towns here in its continuing efforts to assist farmers severely affected by the onslaught of super Typhoon Lawin. Gov. Manuel Mamba said the Department of Agriculture (DA) added P213 million worth of hybrid rice seeds for affected farmers through their respective local chief executives, municipal agriculturists and Municipal Agriculture and Fisheries Councils (MAFCs). “We have distributed 20,000 bags of certified palay [unmilled rice]seeds, as well as 3,500 bags of certified corn seeds and 1,040 kilos of assorted vegetable seeds,” Mamba added. Pearlita Lucia Mabasa, Cagayan provincial agriculturist, said the typhoon left at least P5 billion worth of damage in agriculture including fisheries and livestock. The DA has recorded at least 56,000 hectares of rice fields, 9,000 hectares of corn fields and 2,000 hectares of vegetables plantations destroyed in Cagayan. It also recorded that 550 hectares of fishponds and 91 units of fish cages were destroyed while 60,000 chickens, carabaos and cows drowned during the typhoon. Mamba explained to the recipients that the assistance is not enough considering the magnitude of destruction to agriculture in the province. He called on all mayors and municipal agriculturists to make a priority farmers and fishermen who were affected most and in dire need. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources distributed fishing gears including handlines, gill nets, non-motorized and motorized fishing boats, outrigger fishing boat payao, life vests, fish traps and cast nets. LEANDER C. DOMINGO‐farmers‐get‐p32‐m‐seeds/298416/         

2016 11 26 quedancor daily news monitor