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Piñol: 5 big supermarket chains to buy direct from onion farmers ( | Updated November 28, 2016 - 7:49am

Directly selling to supermarket chains will cut out onion and garlic cartels, the Agriculture secretary said. Ernie Peñaredondo, File MANILA, Philippines (Philippine News Agency) Five of the country's biggest supermarket chains have committed to buying direct from onions and garlic farmers in a move that could end price manipulation by cartelized middlemen and traders, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said. This unprecedented direct access by local growers to local markets nationwide “could be the start of the struggle to dismantle cartels controlling these important commodities in the country,” he said. Piñol added that with the participation of SM, Rustan's, ShopWise, SaveMore and Mindanaobased NCCC Mall, “I am seeing the start of the liberation of the country's onion and garlic farmers from the control of cartels who have monopolized the industry for ages now.” Piñol had earlier revealed that Filipino onion and garlic farmers have suffered long from depressed prices for their produce because a "few, rich and powerful groups control the industry” through huge importation and unscrupulous practices such as hoarding and smuggling. The Agriculture chief also revealed it was Go Negosyo head Joey Concepcion, the Presidential Adviser on Economic Enterprise, who put together the crucial agreement.

“I instructed Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat to make arrangements with Agricultural Credit Policy Council head Jocelyn Badiola to prepare a substantial loan package for the country's onion and garlic farmers,” he added. Piñol said he would have to look into other issues such as storage facilities for onion and garlic and delivery trucks.

Government to step up efforts to promote bamboo development By Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 28, 2016 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines – The government is stepping up its efforts to promote the country’s bamboo development as a climate change mitigation tool and an extra boost to spur economic activities. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Climate Change Commission are working to craft a nationwide bamboo program for poverty alleviation and climate change mitigation. Bamboo is considered as high-value for mitigating climate change given its fast biomass production and renewability. Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said the government plans to invest in the development of bamboo, which not only has proven high carbon sequestration capacity to support climate mitigation, but could also sustainably support local resource-based economies. “We input money there to grow the bamboos but the result of that creates an economic stimulus and then you keep on growing the money until people’s lives come up in time. It has to be impact- oriented and results-geared,” Lopez said. “In the bamboo program, we do adaptation because that’s protection and then mitigation because it absorbs carbon and then we do inclusive growth,” she said. Studies showed that bamboo has the capacity to sequester 400 percent more carbon per unit area and gives off 35 percent more oxygen than other trees. The DENR, for its part, targets to establish one million hectares of bamboo plantation in critical watershed areas and other sites covered by the Enhanced National Greening Program within the next six years. Lopez is upbeat the success of the program could help the country access the Green Climate Fund, a financial mechanism under the Paris Agreement on climate change. “We need to make this work because if it works, then the country can be a recipient of a lot of money,” Lopez said. Under the Paris Agreement, developed countries have pledged to raise $1 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries in their adaptation efforts.

DepEd: Go for brown rice for health, PH farmers Memo for school canteens By: Jocelyn R. Uy - Reporter / @mj_uyINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:39 AM November 28, 2016 For the rest of the month, expect brown rice to be an added offering on the menu of school canteens. Education Secretary Leonor Briones has called on public and private schools and the offices of the Department of Education (DepEd) to make brown rice available in their canteens in celebration of National Rice Awareness Month. In a memorandum, Briones also requested that brown rice, instead of the usual white rice, be served during feeding programs, events, seminars, trainings and other school activities in support of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) “Brown for Good” campaign. The DA campaign, with brown rice or unpolished grain as the centerpiece, is aimed at achieving rice self-sufficiency for the country, higher income for local farmers and better health among consumers. National Rice Awareness Month is observed up to Dec. 5. Briones said making brown rice available in canteens, serving it during events, displaying campaign materials on campuses and offices and promoting the consumption of brown rice among students and personnel were among the many ways the DepEd and schools can support the campaign. She also provided a list of more than 20 farmers’ cooperatives that can supply brown rice to schools and DepEd offices at affordable prices—starting at P38 per kilo or 50-percent cheaper than current market prices. “[This is] in order to facilitate the participation and encourage the continuous brown rice consumption in offices and schools,” she said in a memo to all DepEd officials, public and private school heads. She also asked DepEd personnel, students and school staff to take up the DA’s social media challenge dubbed #BROWN4good Challenge by posting selfies of their meal with brown rice on their social media accounts. As part of the campaign, the DA also promised to donate one cup of brown rice to partner charities for every photo or selfie captioned with #BROWN4good on social media.

The campaign highlights the “four goodness” that brown rice can bring about: goodness to the body, to the farmers, to the country and to others. The DA pointed out that unpolished rice is a healthier alternative to white rice because of its higher fiber content and higher satiety level, which can help prevent cardiovascular disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes. Consumption of brown rice can boost the value of locally produced rice, which in turn can help local farmers compete with cheap imported white rice. The variety’s milling recovery rate is 10percent higher, which adds 10 percent to the country’s total rice output, the DA said. Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Fair weather seen in next 3 days By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 28, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus2 0 MANILA, Philippines – Fair weather is expected in most parts the country in the next three days as Tropical Storm Marce exits the Philippine area of responsibility today. Jori Loiz, senior weather forecaster at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said Marce is forecast to leave the country at around 2 p.m. However, some parts of the country could still experience rains from thunderstorms, he said. As of 4 p.m. yesterday, Marce was spotted at 230 kilometers northwest of Dagupan City, Pangasinan. It packed winds of 75 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 95 kph. It is forecast to move north-northeast at 11 kph. Loiz said a cold front over Marce caused it to slightly change track from north-northwest to north-northeast. “We expect it (Marce) to move a little closer to the country but we’re unlikely to raise again cyclone signals,” he said. Loiz said it is also probable that the storm will dissipate while inside the PAR because of the presence of cold air brought by the northeast monsoon (amihan). Loiz said they expect the northeast monsoon to re-intensify today, bringing light rains over extreme Northern Luzon. PAGASA said the coastal waters of Luzon will be moderate to rough.

5 fishermen missing off Panatag Shoal By Eva Visperas (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 28, 2016 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0 STA. CRUZ, Zambales, Philippines – Five fishermen from Riverside in Sta. Cruz are missing in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal. They have not returned after going to the shoal on a banca marked Tabat Antalan last Nov. 13, fisherman Oscar Tabat Sr. told The STAR yesterday. Two are his cousins Jacky Tabat and Jimmy Tabat, while the other three are Allan Rivera, Pepoy Aparise and Bimbo Requinto, he added. Tabat said fishermen go to Scarborough Shoal to fish for a week and return home. Quoting those who have returned home, Tabat said another banca also loaded with other fishermen accompanied the five, but that they got lost at sea due to big waves. The other fishermen arrived home last Nov. 23, he added. Tabat said he has no more communication with the fishermen who weren’t able to return. Celine Francisco, daughter of Tabat, asked the Coast Guard to use a helicopter to help locate the missing fishermen.‐fishermen‐missing‐panatag‐shoal                     

Arroyo wants info on rice, corn, sugar imports bared to public By: Dona Z. Pazzibugan - Reporter / @dpazzibuganINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer / 01:14 AM November 28, 2016

Former President and now Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. AP File Photo MANILA — Former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wants the government to publish all information on imports of basic commodities like rice, corn and sugar to prevent supply manipulation. She said full disclosure of government contracts on basic commodities would “help prevent collusion and cartel, serve as a check against over-importation of basic commodities such as rice and corn, and aid in the collection of tariffs per metric ton.” “The people have the right to know the factors that influence food supply and prices,” Arroyo, also one of the House deputy speakers, said in a bill she filed recently. Her proposed House Bill 4141 orders the agriculture and trade departments and the National Food Authority to publish all information on importation permits granted for basic commodities such as rice, corn and sugar. The information should include the name and address of the importer, name and address of the supplier, country of origin of the import per shipment, date of contract of import, contracted price, and value or cost of import. Arroyo said “classified information” would be exempted from publication such as those deemed to be of national security interest, involved in law enforcement or crime investigation and those considered by the Department of Foreign Affairs to possibly jeopardize the country’s diplomatic relations. SFM Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Another coal plant turned on as power consumption rises By: Nestor P. Burgos Jr. - @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 02:41 AM November 28, 2016 ILOILO CITY—Another coal plant was put online to bring more electricity to the Visayas. The 150-megawatt coal-fired power plant here, owned by Panay Energy Development Corp. (PEDC) and built at a cost of P15.6 billion, has been switched on on Nov. 23. It is the third generating unit of PEDC, which already has two 82-megawatt units operating in the village of Ingore, La Paz District.The additional electricity is expected to meet growing demand for power in Western Visayas and other areas, which are experiencing an economic boom led by business activity in this city. Generating capacity of power companies in the Visayas grid increased to 3,469 megawatts with the addition of the new coal power plant. The supply does not yet include input from the 100-megawatt coal power plant owned by KepcoSalcon Power Corp. in Cebu, which is undergoing maintenance work, according to engineer Jose Rey Maleza, supervising service research specialist of the Department of Energy Visayas field office.Current electricity demand in the Visayas grid reaches 1,767 megawatts in the afternoon and 1,801 MW in the evening. Maleza said the new plant would assure continued power supply in Panay Island even if submarine cables that bring power to Cebu, Negros and Panay Islands are cut or suffer problems. The demand for power in Panay, especially Iloilo, continues to increase amid a construction boom and opening up of new businesses. The city’s average power demand has reached at least 100 MW this year. The demand is expected to increase by at least 5 MW next year. Business operators welcomed the additional power supply as a boost to the city’s economy. “The additional capacity actually demonstrates the confidence of investors,” said Ma. Lea Lara, executive director of Iloilo Business Club. Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook  

PLDT, Globe expected to sign deal to lower interconnection fee By: Miguel R. Camus - @inquirerdotnet / 11:21 PM November 27, 2016

Telco giants PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom will execute a long-awaited cut in the interconnection fee for subscribers making calls between their networks – a move that should pave the way cheaper voice rates by early 2017. Inquirer sources with knowledge of the matter said PLDT, which owns flagship Smart Communications, and Globe will sign an agreement that will lower the current P4 per minute interconnection rate to P2.50 per minute. The signing, which is expected to take place Monday morning, will include the Department of Information and Communications Technology and National Telecommunications Commission officials as witnesses. The interconnection rate is passed on to consumers, and telco companies derive revenues from this fee. A reduction here would translate to lower calling costs between rival networks, and consumers could see benefits in terms of price by January next year. The issue over lowering voice interconnection fees has been under discussion for years. The development comes as both telcos see significantly lower revenues from voice calls. This was yet another nod to the so-called digital shift, where consumers are rapidly moving to data services, where they can use social media and instant messaging apps like Facebook and Viber to make calls. It also comes as both the PLDT Group and Globe now match each other in terms of mobile subscriber count. PLDT was the previous market leader by this measure. Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook  

Cow, sheep and goat raisers ruminate future as govt stops importation tack By Jasper Y. Arcalas November 27, 2016

In Photo: This October 25 file photo shows cows at a cattle-raising farm along the highway of Santa Maria, Isabela. For the Philippines’s cattle population of 2.6 million to meet the demand of the country’s 100.98 million strong people, the government embarked in 2014 an importation program. Importations, however, was suspended by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol. Part One A COW born and raised in the Philippines must serve its life to the plates of about 38 Filipinos every year. To date, the Philippines has a cattle population of 2.6 million that has to meet the demand of the country’s 100.98 million strong people. Well, even the most populous country in the world suffers the same fate as the Philippines: about 13 Chinese people have to feast on one cattle every year. The same is true for other neighboring Asian countries, such as South Korea and Japan, which has a population-cattle ratio of 15:1 and 33:1, respectively. Data by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows there are only about five countries where the number of cattle outnumbers its people: Uruguay, New Zealand, Argentina, Australia and Brazil.

Uruguay, which has a population of 3.67 million, has the most cattle per capita at 3.6 by having more than 12 million cattle. In the hopes of hastening the development of the local beef cattle and other ruminant industries, the Philippines embarked on a series of live and gene importation of ruminant animals (cattle, sheep and goat) eight years ago. Bloodlines THE Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA), through its ruminant development program called Animal Genetic Infusion Projects (Agip), has facilitated four importation projects aiming to develop local ruminant industries by infusing new bloodlines—may it be through live animals or frozen semen—from America and Australia. The first project was the P399.90-million US Public Law (USPL) 480-assisted program called Accelerating the Genetic Resource Improvement Program for Beef Cattle and Small Ruminants (Agripbes). The Agripbes aims to ensure the continuous breeding of purebreds and genetically superior upgraded animals as local source of breeder stock for backyard farmers and small-scale commercial farms of cattle, sheep and goat. Since the launch of the Agripbes in 2008 under a repayment scheme, the BAI has successfully imported and distributed 2,788 ruminant animals to date: 1,510 heads of sheep, 1,200 heads of goats and 78 heads of cattle. The ruminant animals were distributed to 16 regions for 239 multiplier farms composed of government stock farms (GSF), state universities and colleges, and private multiplier farms. Through another P475 million worth of funding assistance from USPL480, the BAI started another project in 2010, the “Goat Production Project for An Accelerated Hunger Mitigation Program” (GPP-AHMP). It was through this project that the Philippines was able to import and distribute 1,430 head of breeder goats—1,300 does and 130 bucks—this year. Genetics THE GPP-AHMP was the materialization of the agriculture department’s commitment to the government’s program of mitigating hunger and reducing poverty incidence in the country back in 2007. To date, the country’s goat population has reached 3.71 million heads, according to latest data from Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). PSA data also shows that goat production in 2015 increased to 77,480-metric-tons (MT) live weight, from 76,100 in 2014.

Enacted in 1954, the USPL480 refers to a US legislation, which is also known as the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act, which mandates the US to use its agricultural productivity to enhance the food security of developing countries and the determination of the importing country’s capacity of improving its food security. The third importation program was the Expanded Breeder Cattle Lease Ownership Program (EBCLOP). This program aimed to revitalize and sustain local cattle production. Proponents said this can be achieved by introducing high-grade and purebred animals with quality genetic materials at both smallholding farmers, as well as multiplier cattle raisers to ensure their continued access to genetics. The program started in 2014 and ended in 2016, resulting in the procurement of 1,342 heads of imported cattle from Australia. Of this number, 760 heads of purebred commercial Brahman heifer where distributed to local cattle organization Federation of Cattle Raisers Association of the Philippines (FCRAP). The remaining heads were distributed to government stock farms. Halted THE last importation program that the BAI conceptualized was the Mutton Development Project (MDP). The MDP, which was conceived and approved in 2015, aimed to buy 3,409 heads of prolific commercial meat-type sheep to develop the mutton industry and sheep production in the country. The E-BCLOP and MDP are Philippine government-funded projects with respective budgets of P200 million and P124.48 million, respectively. However, the MDP didn’t come into fruition when Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol took office on June 30. “The project was overpriced. It was really overpriced and, besides, we already have a lot of sheep in the country,” Piñol told the BusinessMirror. “Go to Mindanao and you will see a lot of sheep there. Let’s just focus on growing and multiplying the current sheep population.” Costs ACCORDING to BAI Director Simeon S. Amurao Jr., the 3,409 heads of sheep from Australia were already procured and the only problem was that Piñol didn’t want to sign the travel authority of the BAI-Agip selectors due to the “overpriced” heads of sheep. “We don’t challenge him [Piñol] because it’s his perception as [DA] Secretary,” Amurao told the BusinessMirror. “It’s the decision of the secretary if the project [MDP] pushes through.” Amurao said the estimated final cost of each sheep was around P36,000 [$722.23 at current exchange rate], inclusive of transportation costs [via airplane], quarantine and animal-testing fees and other costs. The sheep alone costs only P16,000 [nearly $321], he added.

“The budget given to us was solely for capital outlay, there should be also [a budget] for maintenance and [other] operating expenses [Mooe],” Amurao said, adding that it’s the DA that shoulders the quarantine fees of the ruminant animals in Australia, as well as their transportation costs to the Philippines. “We didn’t have a budget for Mooe, that’s why we needed it to incorporate to the cost of the sheep,” Amurao said. “That’s the reason it became expensive.” Waiting DATA from the BAI shows that as of April 2010, the country’s sheep population reached 49,747. About 56.12 percent, or 27,919, were raised by backyard raisers. The Federation of Goat and Sheep Producers Association of the Philippines Inc. (Fgaspapi), a collaborator of the MDP project, lauded former Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala for approving the MDP. “We tried to involve the government [in sheep raising] before. It’s only the [administration of] President [Benigno S.] Aquino III that implemented concrete steps to support the small ruminant industry,” Fgaspapi President Noel Soliman said in an earlier BusinessMirror report. It was the Fgaspapi that lobbied the government to implement a genetic improvement program focused on sheep production. However, it was not only the MDP that got the green light from the new DA chief. Paul Limson, overall project manager of Agip, disclosed that Piñol has yet to green light the other projects under Agip. “We are still waiting for Secretary Piñol’s official word about the Agip. On what he plans to happen, whether he wants to do another wave of importation of live animals,” Limson told the BusinessMirror. “There’s no marching order yet.” Limited AGIP Assistant Project Manager Diosamia M. Sevilla said they received overwhelming feedbacks from smallhold farmers and animal raisers who thought that the ruminant importation was a continuous project. “Yes, there are still people requesting for certain breeds of imported ruminants, especially when they learned there was a project such as the Agripbes,” Sevilla told the BusinessMirror. “They thought it was unlimited,” Sevilla said, adding that the BAI would focus, for the meantime, on the monitoring and propagation of the already imported ruminant animals in the country.

Some of those people were cattle raiser-members belonging to our group, FCRAP President Allan S. Bernales said. Bernales said some of their members declined to accept the cattle allotted to them, as their respective farms were still recovering from the effects of El Niño during the distribution of the ruminants over the summer. Around 150, out of the estimated 200, FCRAP members received cattle from the Ebclop, according to Bernales. “When the FCRAP board learned about the halting of the importation, we just thought that we cannot do anything if the DA has different priorities for agriculture,” Bernales said. “But we hope that they would continue their genetic improvement projects even if it’s not through live animal breeding.” He added they would just work double time on the imported cattle they already received. “What happens now is that we just have to work double time because it will take patience to raise a cattle before breeding,” Bernales said. “We may also have to just wait for the offspring of the first set of cattle we got and distribute it to other members.” To be continued‐sheep‐and‐goat‐raisers‐ruminate‐future‐as‐govt‐stops‐ importation‐tack/                         

PHL’s 2016 dairy imports to hit 2 MMT By Jasper Y. Arcalas November 27, 2016

File Photo The Philippines’s total dairy imports this year could expand by 8.1 percent to 2 million metric tons (MMT) liquid milk equivalent (LME) due to the rapid expansion of the food-processing sector. The latest Global Agricultural Information Network (Gain) report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said the global glut in dairy products and lower prices are encouraging local buyers to increase imports. “Imports in 2016 [will] rise to 2 MMT if low global dairy prices continue to prevail, which is 150,000 metric tons [MT] above NDA [National Dairy Authority] estimates,” the report read. NDA estimated that imports would reach 1.85 MMT LME by the end of 2016, up from 1.8 MMT in 2015. The attached agency of the Department of Agriculture said low global dairy prices and strong local demand boosted dairy imports last year. Skim milk powder (SMP) imports, the Gain report said, will increase “significantly” this year as the Philippines expands its shipments of dairy products to the Asean region. Local producers are also stocking up on SMP to take advantage of low global dairy prices. “Whole milk powder [WMP] imports in 2016 are also forecast to increase based on prices, but at a slower price than SMP,” the report read.

SMP and WMP imports comprise roughly 50 percent of Philippines’s total dairy imports. In 2015 the country’s SMP imports reached a total volume of 787,400 MT LME, while total WMP imports reached 134,100 MT LME. “Imports of butter, cheese and liquid milk are all forecast to increase this year due to low prices and increasing demand for these products,” the report read. The Philippines’s 2016 export of fluid milk could also expand to 384,960 MT LME from the 360,900 MT LME recorded a year ago. The report noted that nonfat milk imports in 2016 could rise by 50 percent to 1.203 MMT LME compared to the 802,000 MT LME recorded in 2015. Data also showed that dry WMP imports would increase by more than a quarter to 224,560 MT LME from 176,440 MT LME recorded a year ago, while cheese imports could grow by 10 percent to 121,220 MT LME from110,200 MT LME. By volume, the major suppliers to the Philippines are New Zealand, with a 29 percent share of total imports; the US, 29 percent; and Australia, 8 percent. According to the report prepared by the Foreign Agricultural Service in Manila, US dairy exports this year are expected to decline by roughly 20 percent in terms of value and may only reach $205 million. “Due to increasing global milk production and a sharp decline in prices, US dairy exports are expected to decline 20 percent by value in 2016,” the report read. “Dairy exports by volume are expected to remain flat. However, 2016 US nonfat dry milk powder exports by volume are expected to increase by 10 percent,” it added. In 2015 the Philippines was the sixth-largest market for US dairy products by value at $251 million, down 40 percent from the prior year. The top US dairy exports to the Philippines in 2015 were nonfat dry milk powder ($165 million), dried whey ($15 million) and cheese ($8 million). The Philippines imports virtually all of its dairy products, especially milk powder, as domestic production cannot meet the country’s dairy requirement of 1.955 MMT LME, according to the NDA. Dairy products are currently the Philippines’s third-largest agricultural import after wheat and soybean meal.‐2016‐dairy‐imports‐to‐hit‐2‐mmt/     

Major supermarket chains to deal directly with garlic, onion farmers Published November 27, 2016, 10:00 PM 

by Ellalyn De Vera Five of the country’s biggest supermarket chains have committed to buy directly from onion and garlic farmers, in an effort to end price manipulation practices of middlemen, Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Manny Piñol announced recently. “(This) could be the start of the struggle to dismantle cartels controlling these important commodities in the country,” Piñol said. The participating supermarket chains are SM, Rustan’s, ShopWise, SaveMore and Mindanaobased NCCC Mall. Piñol earlier revealed that Filipino onion and garlic farmers have suffered long from depressed prices for their produce because a “few, rich and powerful groups control the industry” through huge importation and unscrupulous practices, such as hoarding and smuggling. Piñol said it was Go Negosyo head Joey Concepcion, the Presidential Adviser on Economic Enterprise, who put together the crucial agreement. Following this development, DA has to work out a system by which onion farmers, especially those from Bongabon, Nueva Ecija, could deliver their produce to the supermarket chains, he said. The farmers need a working capital, Piñol added, so they could purchase their members’ produce for delivery to the major supermarkets. They also need a revolving capital since the supermarkets’ payment system does not allow direct payment upon delivery, Pinol pointed out. Piñol has instructed DA Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat to make arrangements with Agricultural Credit Policy Council head Jocelyn Badiola to prepare a substantial loan package for the country’s onion and garlic farmers.‐supermarket‐chains‐to‐deal‐directly‐with‐garlic‐onion‐ farmers/     

Duterte identifies 5 policy directions for mining sector Published November 27, 2016, 10:01 PM 

By Madelaine B. Miraflor President Rodrigo Duterte has identified five policy directions for the mining sector, seeking for collective effort among all its stakeholders to help change the perception towards the so- called “spoilers of the environment.” Duterte, in his message delivered by Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Assistant Director Danilo Uykieng at the 63rd Annual National Mine Safety and Environment Conference (ANMSEC), said the government is serious in having all hands on-board so that all industries can productively contribute in the country’s economic growth. He said that with this as premise, MGB shall pursue five policy directions toward a long-term and stable policy environment that is essential to realize the true potential of the country’s mineral deposits. “The task before us is daunting especially at this time when mining companies are projected as spoilers of the environment. But, with our collective effort, consistency of purpose and commitment to responsible mining as a way of life, I know we will deliver,” Duterte said. The first policy has called for minerals and metal-led industrialization initiatives. This supports the stand of Senator Cynthia Villar regarding the need to develop more mineral processing plants in the country so that miners could extract more value from the country’s natural resources at the same time generate more jobs. “The industrialization in a resource rich country like the Philippines invariably involves valueadding activities for downstream processing of metallic mineral resources. The strategies are: ensure continued availability and security of supply of materials and commodities, and thereby, minimize risks to the economic growth trajectory, by planning and establishing a robust mine-tometal value chain,” Duterte said. “Revisit regulatory and compliance policies as regards to mining and processing of metallic minerals, conduct an inventory and further exploration studies, if necessary of the various natural resources in the country especially the magnetite sand deposits, coal, limestone, nickel, chromite, etc.,” he added. The second policy is for a strict identification of final land use options of mineral lands.

DENR to unmask suspended mining firms this week Published November 27, 2016, 10:01 PM 

By Madelaine B. Miraflor The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will try to finally come up with the names of mining firms that will be suspended starting this week, a month after it conducted a nationwide crackdown on the mining sector. Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said the agency is now finalizing the end results of the mining audit that concluded in August. “We’re finalizing it (the results) and the companies that have replied to our show cause orders. Maybe next (this) week, we can already give the names,” Lopez said in a phone interview with Manila Bulletin. Lopez said that while going through with the mining audit report, she found out that many companies didn’t allocate enough budget for rehabilitation. “Many companies don’t have enough funds for rehabilitation. That is a mortal sin,” Lopez said. Under the Philippine Mining Act, a Mine Rehabilitation Fund (MRF) shall be deposited as a trust fund in a government depository bank and shall be used for physical and social rehabilitation of areas and communities affected by mining activities and for research on the social, technical and preventive aspects of rehabilitation. It was in late October when mining companies began responding to the show cause orders issued to them by the DENR. To recall, as much as 21 out of the country’s 41 metallic mines have been recommended for suspension as the initial result of the government’s nationwide audit on the mining industry. These 20 firms each received show cause orders, asking them to explain why the DENR should suspend their operations. In the DENR letter, companies were supposedly given only seven days to address the findings and recommendations contained within the audit report. Companies that have been recommended for suspension includes Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company, Filminera Resources Corp., OceanaGold Philippines, Inc., Benguet Corp., Marcventures Mining and Development Corporation; Sinosteel Philippines H.Y. Mining Corp.; Agata Mining Ventures, Inc.; Hinatuan Mining Corporation; Libjo Mining Corporation;

AAMPHIL Natural Resources Exploration and Development Corp.; Krominco, Inc.; Carrascal Nickel Corp.; Strongbuilt Mining Development Corp.; Oriental Synergy Mining Corp.; Wellex Mining Corp.; Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corp.; CTP Construction and Mining Corp.; and Adnama Mining Resources, Inc.; Century Peak Corp.; and SR Metals, Inc. Prior to the final results, there are also other suspended mines namely Citinickel Mines and Development Corp. (CMDC), EMIR Mineral Resources Corp., Mt. Sinai Mining Exploration Corp., Claver Mineral Development Corp., Ore Asia Mining and Development Corp., and Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., LNL Archipelago Minerals, Inc., and Berong Nickel.‐to‐unmask‐suspended‐mining‐firms‐this‐week/                                       

Reminder on 13th month pay, bonus posted November 27, 2016 at 10:45 pm by Macon Ramos-Araneta Senator Sonny Angara has reminded employers on the proper computation and payment of 13th month pay and yearend bonus for both private and government employees given the increased tax exemption cap on such benefits.Under Republic Act 10653, the 13th month pay and other benefits, including productivity incentives and Christmas bonuses, not exceeding P82,000 provided to both government and private sector employees are exempted from tax, he said. Before RA 10653 was signed into law in February last year, only bonuses not exceeding P30,000 were exempted from tax.Angara said Filipino workers benefit so much from the 13th month pay toward the end of the year. “We increased the tax exemption cap so their take home bonus could be higher for their family,” said the Senate ways and means committee chairperson who sponsored the law. The 13th month pay law was enacted pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 851 in 1975, mandating employers in the private sector to pay their employees not earning more than P1,000 a month an amount equivalent to 13th month pay. Through Memorandum Order No. 28 in 1986, the monthly salary cap was removed thereby entitling all rank and file employees to 13th month pay.The senator stressed that all employers in the private sector must pay their rank-and-file employees a 13th month pay regardless of the nature of their employment and whatever the method their wages are paid, provided they worked for at least one month during a calendar year. The 13th month pay should be paid not later than December 24, and must be equivalent to onetwelfth (1/12) of the basic salary of an employee within a calendar year.He said not only regular employees in the private sector should get 13th month pay. Even contractual, casual, fixed term, probationary and seasonal employees have the right to receive this according to the Labor Code as long as they have given servicd for one month only, said Angara, vice chairman of the labor committee. “And although you entered a job in the middle of the year, you should also be paid 13th month on pro-rated basis,” the lawmaker added. Angara, one of the authors of RA 10361 or the Batas Kasambahay, further noted that kasambahays are entitled to 13th month pay as well.Meanwhile, pursuant to RA 8441, government employees and officials should have rendered at least four months of service from January 1 to October 31 to receive a Christmas bonus equivalent to one month basic salary and additional cash gift of P5,000. Macon Ramos-Araneta‐main‐stories/top‐stories/222595/reminder‐on‐13th‐month‐ pay‐bonus.html   

‘Disclose govt deals on food’ posted November 27, 2016 at 10:30 pm by Rio N. Araja In a bid to achieve and sustain affordable and adequate food supply, former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo is batting for the full public disclosure of all government transactions involving food and basic commodities. Arroyo, who is Deputy Speaker, said pushing for transparency in food information through House Bill No. 4141 helps protect peoples’ right to affordable food. “The people have the right to know the factors that influence food supply and prices. Access to official information, records, documents and papers pertaining to official acts, processes, transactions and decisions by the government as well as government research and data, relative to food and food security could help ensure transparency and accountability,” she said. “Transparency on all information on food and food security would help prevent collusion and cartel, serve as a check against over-importation of basic commodities such as rice and corn, and aid in the collection of tariffs per metric ton,”Arroyo’s measure read. Called the Affordable Food Transparency Act of 2016, the bill would mandate all government agencies engaged in ensuring adequate food supply, such as the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Agriculture and the National Food Authority, to disclose all their transactions involving food and basic commodities. Exempted from the bill are pieces of information considered classified in the interest of national security as well as those maintained by the Department of Foreign Affairs on another sovereign state.‐main‐stories/top‐stories/222590/‐disclose‐govt‐deals‐on‐ food‐.html               

Landbank doles out P15m for ‘Lawin’-hit towns posted November 27, 2016 at 10:00 pm by Manila Standard Land Bank of the Philippines has distributed a total of P15 million in cash assistance to local government units in North and Central Luzon affected by Typhoon “Lawin” (international name “Haima”) that battered the country last month. Records from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council showed that the typhoon left 14 dead and caused P2.7 billion in damages in infrastructure and P1 billion in agriculture. Led by Branch Banking Sector head and senior vice president Liduvino Geron and North Luzon Branches Group head and vice president Nomerlito Juatchon, Landbank turned over the assistance in ceremonies held in Ilagan, Isabela and Tuguegarao City.

LandBank Branch Banking Sector head and senior vice president Liduvino Geron (left) and North Luzon Branches Group head and vice president Nomerlito Juatchon (second photo, clockwise) lead the bank’s financial assistance turnover ceremonies held in Ilagan, Isabela and Tuguegarao City. Isabela, which was placed under a state of calamity, received a total of P2.2 million divided among its 34 cities and municipalities, where 20,825 families were affected by the typhoon. Among the local chief executives who attended the turnover ceremony in Isabela was Palanan Mayor Rodolfo Bernardo Jr., whose town suffered severe damage from the typhoon. Nearly 70 percent of houses and infrastructure and almost all crops were damaged by the typhoon in Palanan, Bernardo said. “That’s why we are thankful to Landbank for this assistance that we will distribute to our affected townsfolk,” the mayor added.

Landbank also handed over P3.125 million in cash assistance to Cagayan Province, which was directly hit by the typhoon and suffered the heaviest damage from Lawin in a ceremony in Tuguegarao. ““Lawin” was the worst typhoon to hit our town, because almost 80 percent of our infrastructure and agricultural land were totally damaged,” said Solana Mayor Jennalyn Carag who personally received the financial assistance for her municipality. Cagayan, where Tyhoon “Lawin” made landfall and damaged a total of 28,429 houses, was also put under a state of calamity. “We are grateful to Landbank for the financial assistance. Right now, every peso counts,” Office of the Governor Chief-of-Staff Atty. Ma. Rosario Villaflor said. Landbank allocated P4.025 million for the Cordillera Administrative Region; P3.725 million for Region I; P6.25 million for Region II; and P1 million for Region III. The cash assistance for other provinces, which was divided among affected towns and cities based on the reports submitted by the regional Office of the Civil Defense, was distributed through Landbank branches in the region. “This is part of Landbank’s commitment to be there not only for our clients but most importantly to our fellow Filipinos, especially in times of calamities,” Geron said. Aside from relief operations and financial assistance for affected communities, Landbank also has an existing program specifically designed to help calamity-affected areas. Landbank Calamity Rehabilitation Support is the bank’s umbrella financial assistance program to help victims recover from destruction brought about by natural calamities. Under the program, both existing and new clients may avail of rehabilitation credit programs for acquisition or repair of new facilities or equipment, additional working capital or for livelihood financing. Existing customers may also avail of loan restructuring, wherein short terms loans may be extended up to a maximum of three years, inclusive of a maximum of one-year grace period on principal payment. For term loans, tenor can be extended for additional three years over the remaining term of the loan at the time of calamity, with a maximum grace period of three years on principal payment.‐provinces/222585/landbank‐doles‐out‐p15m‐for‐lawin‐hit‐ towns.html   

Higher wine taxes favored posted November 27, 2016 at 07:48 pm by Othel V. Campos The local distilled spirits industry favors the imposition of an ad valorem tax on imported wines to make the proposed tax increase fair to the alcohol beverage sector. Destiliria Limtuaco & Co., the country’s oldest distilled spirits maker, is preparing an extensive study to determine the impact of the tax increase on prices per volume liter to consumers and its effect on the economy. “We were saying that if you impose a specific tax and an ad valorem tax on distilled spirits, then you must follow the same principle with respect to wines,” company president and chief executive Livia Limpe-Aw said in a chance interview. “There should be an ad valorem tax for wines also to make the tax progressive. So the more expensive wine, the higher the tax. Make it fair to the distilled spirits,” she said. Unlike imported wines, the distilled spirits industry is taxed twice. Distilleries pay a specific tax on top of the ad valorem. “We know how the direction of taxes go, they never go down, they always go up,” Limpe-Aw said. Pending the proposed final tax rate, the company is doing initial researches on the socioeconomic impact of the tax increase. She said the industry would submit the position paper to the Finance Department next year as soon as the final rates were declared and the impact calculated. Compared with distilled spirits, imported wines are slapped with only a specific tax only based on the liter volume of the alcoholic strength of a beverage. Ad valorem, meanwhile, is a tax percentage of the sale price of a product or goods. Fermented wines are usually low in alcohol content with a maximum proof of 14 percent for most wines, while spirits have higher content. A rum can contain as much as 45 percent alcohol. Saddled by both specific and ad valorem taxes, the spirits industry is worried that sales may further go down. “It really depends on the demographic. So if you’re in the mass market D and E, which is the bread and butter of most distilleries, you’d be hit, smack on the face,” said Limpe-Aw. Local industry sales had been flat since four years ago at 66 million cases, she said.

“In fact, on hindsight, it is losing market to imported alcoholic fares, given the the increase in the drinkers’ markets. Per capita consumption is going down due to various reasons that could be price increase, prohibitions on drinking in the open and possibly for those riding on the health bandwagon,” she said. Whiles sales have been declining, revenues of distilleries are still higher than the wines category due to the sheer volume of consumption and the drinking profile of Filipinos.‐wine‐taxes‐favored.html                                       

Nido to drill new well in Galoc field posted November 27, 2016 at 07:31 pm by Alena Mae S. Flores Australian oil and gas company Nido Petroleum Ltd. and its joint venture partners plan to drill an appraisal well at the Galoc mid-area in northwest Palawan in the first quarter next year in preparation for the expected depletion of the Galoc reserves by 2019. Nido said in a report to the Australian Securities Exchange it planned to drill the Galoc-7 appraisal well and an associated side-track (Galoc-7/7ST) in early 2017. “Galoc-7/7ST will appraise the currently untested Galoc mid area of the Galoc field… If the Galoc-7/7ST is successful, the subsequent development of the GMA will materially increase reserves and production, substantially extending the life of the Galoc field,” it said. The planned well will appraise the highly prospective GMA, an extension of the north of the Galoc field and the successful drilling will result in the commencement of the Galoc phase three development and first production in 2019. “Production at the Galoc field is currently declining and based on Nido’s proven reserves, estimates is anticipated to become sub-commercial in 2019,” Nido said.‐to‐drill‐new‐well‐in‐galoc‐field.html                       

Firms expected to keep hiring posted November 27, 2016 at 07:28 pm by Julito G. Rada Companies in the Philippines are expected to keep hiring new employees in the first quarter next year, but the number will be lower compared with the fourth quarter of 2016 because of the usual slowdown in consumer demand after the holiday season, results of a survey conducted by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas show. The employment outlook index for the next quarter (first quarter of 2017) remained positive at 19 percent, but lower compared to 3.6 percent registered in the last quarter’s survey. “This suggests that more firms will continue to hire new employees than those that indicated otherwise, although the number of new hires could decrease compared to the previous quarter’s survey,” the regulator said. Respondents mainly cited the usual slowdown in consumer demand after the holiday season. Other reasons were the direction of the government’s foreign policies and economic reforms in the country, tighter competition with the entry of new players in the market and the wait-and-see attitude of investors in the wake of the US national elections which could impact the interest rate environment.‐expected‐to‐keep‐hiring.html                       

Danish store offers fresh take on expired food posted November 27, 2016 at 07:13 pm by AFP By Soren Billing COPENHAGEN, Denmark―It may be past its sell-by date, but for many Danes it’s a tasty proposition: A supermarket in Copenhagen selling surplus food has proved to be so popular it recently opened a second store. After launching in the gritty inner city district of Amager earlier this year, the “Wefood” project earlier this month drew a long line as it opened a second branch in Norrebro, a trendy neighborhood popular with left-leaning academics and immigrants. Hipsters rubbed shoulders with working class mums as a cooking school founded by Claus Meyer―a co-founder of Copenhagen’s celebrated Noma restaurant―handed out cauliflower soup and bread made from surplus ingredients. “It’s awesome that instead of throwing things out they are choosing to sell it for money. You support a good cause,” said Signe Skovgaard Sorensen, a student, after picking up a bottle of upscale olive oil for 20 kroner (2.7 euros, $2.9).

This file photo taken on February 22, 2016 shows people walking past the Wefood supermarket that sells food past its sell-by date at Amager in Copenhagen, Denmark. It may be past its sell-by date, but for many Danes it’s a tasty proposition: A supermarket in Copenhagen selling surplus food has proved to be so popular it recently opened a second store. AFP “Isn’t it great?” pensioner Olga Fruerlund said, holding up a jar of sweets that she planned to give to her grandchildren for Christmas.

The sweets “can last for a hundred years because there is sugar in them,” she added. Selling expired food is legal in Denmark as long as it is clearly advertised and there is no immediate danger to consuming it. “We look, we smell, we feel the product and see if it’s still consumable,” project leader Bassel Hmeidan said. All products are donated by producers, import and export companies and local supermarkets, and are collected by Wefood’s staff, all of whom are volunteers. The store’s profit goes to charity. Prices are around half of what they would be elsewhere, but even its biggest fans would struggle to do their weekly shop here. The products available depend on what is available from donors, resulting in an eclectic mix that changes from day to day. One weekday afternoon, customers were greeted by a mountain of Disney and Star Warsbranded popcorn, while the fresh fruit section had been reduced to a handful of rotting apples. Growing awareness Food waste has become an increasingly hot topic in recent years, with initiatives ranging from a French ban last year on destroying unsold food products, to a global network of cafes serving dishes with food destined for the scrap heap. The Britain-based The Real Junk Food Project also opened the country’s first food waste supermarket in a warehouse near Leeds in September. With a greater focus than its Danish peer on feeding the poor, the British project urges customers to simply “pay as they feel.” A UN panel said earlier this month that supermarkets’ preference for perfect looking produce and the use of arbitrary “best before” labels cause massive food waste that if reversed could feed the world’s hungry. Nearly 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted every year, more than enough to sustain the one billion people suffering from hunger globally, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization said. Denmark has managed to reduce its food waste by 25 percent over the past five years, partly due to the influential “Stop Wasting Food” group founded by Russian-born activist Selina Juul in 2008. Juul grew up in the 1980s Soviet Union and says she was shocked by the amount of food being thrown away in Denmark when she moved there as a 13 year old in 1993.

“Surplus food has become very popular,” she said of one of the measures advocated by the group: offering heavy discounts on items that are about to expire, which is now done by most Danish supermarkets. Supermarkets changing Inspired by Juul, one of Denmark’s biggest discount chains, Rema 1000, has become an unlikely champion in the battle against food waste. Two of its main initiatives are about reducing waste after the product has been sold: The company stopped offering bulk discounts in 2008 so that single-person households would not buy more than they could eat. Last year it reduced the size and price of some of its bread loaves for the same reason. “The biggest problem with food waste is among the customers,” said John Wagner, the chief executive of the Danish Grocers’ Association. Regular supermarkets were becoming better at forecasting demand for different products, but they needed to do more to inform their customers that a lot of food is edible beyond its expiry date. Wefood next year plans to open in Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest city, but Wagner said the brand was unlikely to become a major chain. “The problem should be solved before we get to the point where we have to give the products to a store like Wefood,” he said.‐store‐offers‐fresh‐take‐on‐expired‐ food.html                 

Lawmaker proposes rainwater harvesting system for farmers By JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ, TMT on November 28, 2016 Business FILIPINO farmers plagued by poor harvests because of inconsistent irrigation may soon have more than 10,000 rainwater harvesting systems they need once House Bill 3539, authored by Deputy Speaker Sharon S. Garin, is passed. Pending before the House Committee on Natural Resources, HB 3539 or the proposed Soil and Water Conservation Act seeks to establish at least 10,000 rainwater harvesting systems and a thousand soil and water conversion guided farms across the country. These farm support systems are meant to save water and mitigate the destructive power of heavy rain and flash floods to farms. “So instead of the farmers fearing heavy rains engulfing their farmlands, farmers will begin to take advantage of the massive adequate rainwater harvesting facilities to collect water which will be used to sustain production even during a dry spell,” Garin said in a statement dated November 23. State-weather bureau PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) says the Philippines has an average annual rainfall of 2,400 millimeters, or more than enough to meet the demand for crop production. “However, this amount of rainfall is not evenly distributed throughout the year in most parts of the country. There is too much rainfall in some areas resulting to severe soil erosion and flooding; while in other parts of the country, there is too little rain to support crop production especially during summer,” according to Jose Manguera, section chief of Conservation Technology Development Section under the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM). Funding fo r the project, once the bill becomes law, will come from the budget of the Department of Agriculture. BSWM supports the passage of the bill, saying that most watersheds across the nation are already deteriorating due to indiscriminate logging and slash-and-burn (kaingin) practices.‐proposes‐rainwater‐harvesting‐system‐ farmers/298766/     

DENR supports bamboo use for climate change mitigation By JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ, TMT on November 28, 2016 Business The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is partnering with the Climate Change Commission, other government agencies, and stakeholders to promote the use of bamboo to help mitigate the disastrous results of climate change and provide livelihood for affected communities. DENR Secretary Gina Lopez said at the recent National Symposium and Exhibit on Bamboo (NSEB) held in Pasay City that the government will make sure local communities will directly benefit from the livelihood component of the government’s program to develop the bamboo industry. She said the government plans to invest heavily in the development of bamboo, which not only has proven its high carbon sequestration capacity to support climate mitigation but could also adequately support local resource-based economies. Studies have shown that compared to some trees, bamboo has the capacity to sequester 400 percent more carbon per unit area. “We input money there to grow the bamboos but the result of that creates an economic stimulus and then you keep on growing the money until people’s lives come up in time. It has to be impact- oriented and results-geared,” Lopez explained. “In the Bamboo Program we do adaptation because that’s protection, and then mitigation because it absorbs carbon and then we do inclusive growth,” she added. The DENR earlier said it plans to establish, within the next six years, one million hectares of bamboo plantations in critical watershed areas and other sites that the Enhanced National Greening Program covers. Lopez expressed high hopes for the Bamboo Program’s success which, she said, could help the country access the Green Climate Fund, a financial mechanism under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. “We need to make this work because if it does, then the country can be a recipient of a lot of money,” she said. Under the Paris Agreement, developed countries have pledged to raise US$1 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries in their adaptation efforts.

The NSEB brought together 300 experts, policymakers and stakeholders in the bamboo sector who discussed the role of bamboo in climate mitigation and sustainable development. Secretary Emmanuel De Guzman, the CCC vice chair and executive director, described the event as a “transformative endeavor between the two government agencies to bring about change in our people’s lives at the grassroots and to pave the way for a greener, healthier and more sustainable future for our country.” “Today’s event marks the new milestone for us climate advocates to collaborate efforts and strategies to translate the known benefits of bamboo to life-changing initiatives on the ground,” De Guzman said. Also present during the event were Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya of the Department of Trade and Industry and Ilocos Sur Rep. Deogracias Savellano, who is the principal author of a bill calling for the creation of the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Program. The bill also seeks to declare September as Bamboo Month following the annual celebration of World Bamboo Day on September 18. The bamboo symposium provided a venue for participants to discuss bamboo as an alternative resource materials and for the government to encourage investors to look into bamboo byproducts and their market potential, and present its policy on bamboo. The exhibit, on the other hand, featured bamboo-made products such as a bicycle, flute, tea, and clothing materials. Exhibitors included the Philippine Bamboo Foundation, Bamboo Tisane, Sangay Architects, King Flute and Kawayan 7, a musical group which uses musical instruments made from bamboo.‐supports‐bamboo‐use‐climate‐change‐mitigation/298767/                 

Supermarts to buy garlics, onions of local farmers Written by Alvin Murcia Monday, 28 November 2016 00:00 As the Department of Agriculture (DA) starts to go hard against smugglers of onions and garlics, at least five of the country’s biggest supermarket chains have committed to buy direct the produce of local farmers. This according to the DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol which is viewed as a way to end price manipulation by cartelized middlemen and traders. This unprecedented direct access by local growers to local markets nationwide “could be the start of the struggle to dismantle cartels controlling these important commodities in the country,” Piñol added. He said with the participation of SM, Rustan’s, ShopWise, SaveMore and Mindanao-based NCCC Mall, “I am seeing the start of the liberation of the country’s onion and garlic farmers from the control of cartels who have monopolized the industry for ages now.” Piñol earlier had revealed Filipino onion-garlic farmers have suffered long from depressed prices for their produce because a “few, rich and powerful groups control the industry” through huge importation and unscrupulous practices such as hoarding and smuggling. Piñol revealed it was Go Negosyo head Joey Concepcion, the presidential adviser on economic enterprise, who put together the crucial agreement after the Agriculture chief had made an overseas call to him. Concepcion was in Paris when Piñol phoned him while presiding over the Socksargen Agricultural Development Program board in Kidapawan City. Before 6 p.m. Piñol said, “Tessie Sy of SM, Nonoy Colayco of Rustan’s, Jojo Tagbo of SM SaveMore, Leah Lee of SM Supermarket and ShopWise responded and committed to buy their onion and garlic supply direct from the farmers.” The news was relayed to him by Concepcion’s focal person for the Go Negosyo Program, Ginggay Hontiveros. “On my own, I also sent a text message to Riolinda Lim, vice president of NCCC Mall, a chain of about 20 supermarkets in Mindanao, who said brothers Javey and Lafayette Lim, whose family owns NCCC, have pledged to buy onions and garlics direct from the farmers,” Piñol revealed. Following this development, the DA has to work out a system by which onion farmers, especially those from Bongabon, Nueva Ecija, could deliver their produce to the supermarket chains, he said. The farmers need a working capital, Piñol said, so they could buy their members’ produce for delivery to these supermarkets. They also need a revolving capital since the supermarkets’ payment system does not allow direct payment upon delivery, he said. “I instructed Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat to make arrangements with Agricultural Credit Policy Council head Jocelyn Badiola to prepare a substantial loan package for the

country’s onion and garlic farmers,” he added. Piñol said he would have to look into other issues such as storage facilities for onions and garlics and possibly delivery trucks.‐to‐buy‐garlics‐onions‐of‐local‐farmers                                           

More jobs for PWDs pushed by lawmaker Written by PNA Monday, 28 November 2016 00:00 A senator is pushing a measure that provides persons with disabilities (PWDs) with jobs in both the public and private sector. Under Senate Bill No. 1249, Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino to amend Republic Act 7277 or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons to mandate government agencies to ensure that two percent of their employees comprise of PWDs. The measure also requires private organizations to employ one percent of their workforce from PWDs. If passed into law, Aquino hopes the measure will give PWDs a more productive role in society. He stressed that an increased PWD presence in the workforce will heighten public awareness and consideration for their rights. In the 16th Congress, Aquino worked for the welfare of PWDs, with the passage of Republic Act 10754 that exempts them from paying the value added tax. The law also gives tax incentives to persons with PWD dependents, up to fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity. “The inclusion of PWDs in the workforce and provide commensurate compensation, benefits and employment terms for PWDs as any other qualified employee,” Aquino said. “Let’s give our PWDs more opportunities to generate livelihood,” he added.‐jobs‐for‐pwds‐pushed‐by‐lawmaker                     

Peso to perform better amid rising US Fed rates Written by Ed Velasco Monday, 28 November 2016 00:00 Last week’s overall weakening of Asian currencies vis-a-vis the dollar was an overreaction by fund managers to the prospects of higher US Federal Reserve rates this December, according to Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran. In its latest economic bulletin issued, the Department of Finance (DoF) said that “of 12 Asian countries, the Philippine peso has been one of the less volatile currencies, with standard deviation-mean ratio relative to the dollar of five percent from 2000 to Nov. 24, 2016 compared with the Asian average of seven percent.” “The most volatile are the Chinese yuan (16.3 percent), and Indonesian rupiah (11.9 percent) and Malaysian ringgit (11.6 percent). This means that during this 16-year-period, the peso has been moving within five percent from its average value,” Beltran, the DoF’s chief economist, said in the economic bulletin. Beltran said from Nov. 1 to 24, 2016, the Philippine peso has moved in tandem with other Asian currencies, depreciating by 3.27 percent against the dollar as against the 12 Asian countries’ average depreciation of 3.26 percent. “The Japanese yen depreciated most wildly, by 8.5 percent, compared with 6.73 percent for the Malaysian ringgit and 3.92 percent for the Indonesian rupiah,” Beltran said. Beltran said several emerging economies with excess savings like the Philippines are not dependent on the regime of cheap financing resulting from the post-2008 financial crisis move by the Fed to cut rates as a monetary stimulus to ignite the United States’ economic recovery. “Economies like the Philippines are net lenders rather than borrowers. There is, however, an overreaction by fund managers and have lumped all economies into one category without regards to macroeconomic fundamentals,” said Beltran. With the impending normalization to be undertaken by the Federal Reserve, Beltran said “the days of cheap financing and large capital inflows are coming to an end.” He said that with the US economy recovering, the Fed would soon end its monetary stimulus program, which it resorted to in 2008 to aid the American economy at the height of the thenglobal financial crisis. “Low interest rates were a boon to developing countries with lower borrowing costs and significant inflows of capital,” he noted. Last week’s reports on the release of the minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting last November 1 to 2 bared that US policymakers were inclined to raise interest rates very soon. Earlier, Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez III said the peso’s breaching of the P50 level against the dollar was an expected reaction of the local currency to the anticipated early rate increase by the Fed, with other Asian currencies also moving in the same direction. “We are watching the currency movements very closely. We seem to be moving in the same direction as the other currencies. We just want to avoid abrupt changes in the exchange rates,”

Dominguez said. But he added that the country’s rock solid macroeconomic fundamentals will enable the domestic economy to survive external shocks such as higher US interest rates and a stronger dollar. Foreign economists said that countries like the Philippines and Thailand are expected to perform better as US interest rates rise and the dollar strengthens because they have significantly increased their foreign exchange reserves over the years, creating buffers to help them sail through the currency volatility and ensuing capital outflows. The International Monetary Fund has forecast Thailand’s reserves at $163.3 billion by yearend, compared with the $64.9 billion needed, according to the IMF’s Assessing Reserve Adequacy gauge, while the Philippines was projected to accumulate $84 billion against a $31 billion ADA requirement, said a report. The ADA is supposed to incorporate a country’s short-term debt with money supply, imports and investment flows. Tsutomu Soma, general manager of the fixed income department of SBI Securities Co. said currencies most vulnerable to attack are those from countries with less reserves. “You don’t attack the currency when you know the monetary authorities have plenty of money to intervene. Instead, you look for a currency that has less ability to defend it,” Soma said. For instance, Malaysia, the worst performing of the major Asian currencies against the dollar, is projected to have $100 billion in reserves against a short-term external debt of $128.2 billion, based on IMF estimates. Outside Asia, other countries that IMF estimates show to be vulnerable to the impact of rising US interest rates include Turkey, South Africa, and Mexico. Khoon Goh, head of Asia research at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in Singapore said “both Thailand and the Philippines increased their reserves in the last couple of years and have adequate buffers to intervene to smooth currency volatility.” Beltran said the strengthening of the greenback against the peso “is expected as an impact of the Fed normalization.” “The peso is just normalizing. It was P57 per the US dollar in 2004. All other currencies are moving in the same direction,” he said. With interest rates on American government bonds now rising, investors have began shifting their focus on the United States, which means that countries like the Philippines, Malaysia, Korea, Thailand and other Asian economies are seeing their currencies weakening against the dollar. The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. (HSBC) has lowered its forecast for the Thai baht to 35.70 to the dollar by year-end, down from an earlier forecast of 34.60. Earlier, reports said “the Japanese yen dropped to its weakest level in five months against the dollar even though Japan’s economy grew at a better-than-expected rate of 2.2 percent in the third quarter.” “The yen was last down 0.8 percent at 107.49, continuing its slide since the U.S. election outcome sparked a broad-based rise in the dollar against major currencies,” reports added. “The Indonesian rupiah, Korean won and Indian rupee were among several emerging-market currencies to suffer against the U.S. dollar (last week), while China’s central bank set the yuan at a more than seven-year low versus the greenback in mainland markets,” reports said. According to the Financial Times, the Indonesian rupiah and Thai baht recorded a decline of 0.4 percent, while China’s renminbi weakened to more than Rmb6.9 per dollar, marking a more than

10 percent drop since August last year. The Japanese currency was a further 0.2 per cent weaker on Thursday at ¥112.69 per dollar.‐to‐perform‐better‐amid‐rising‐us‐fed‐rates                     

2016 11 28 quedancor daily news monitor  
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