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PCA seeks release of P4B from coco levy funds By Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 29, 2016 - 12:00am 0 4 googleplus0 0

Andal MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) has called for the release of an initial P4-billion by year-end part of the coconut levy funds while the government is yet to issue the funds’ final disposition. In a briefing yesterday, new PCA administrator Avelino Andal said the interest of the fund of about P4-billion should be released before the year ends. “At least the interest (should be released) while the bill is yet to be finalized. So we can just start the ball rolling and start something already,” Andal said. The coco levy funds amounting to P75 billion were taxes imposed on coconut farmers mandated by Presidential Decree 755 in 1975. The taxes were supposed to be used for the construction of projects designed for the benefits of coconut farmers, but were instead used to buy a large percentage of the bank now known as the United Coconut Planters Bank under Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco. The government earlier targeted the release of the total funds by year-end, but the billhas yet to be approved. “Hopefully, the two houses finish the deliberation of the bill. This would be a good gift from the lawmakers and the President to coconut farmers to approve the law allowing the disposition of the coco levy funds,” Andal said. Bulk of the fund would be used for the rehabilitation and expansion of the industry, while the remaining funds would be allocated for scholarships of farmers’ children and other projects that would benefit the coconut industry’s beneficiaries.

As of this month, 16 lawmakers from the Senate Committees on Agriculture and Food and Finance have signed and approved the report on the Coco Levy Bill. The bill aims to ensure the establishment of a perpetual trust fund that would enable the P75 billion coco levy to finally be used for the development of the coconut industry for the first time in 40 years. Key features of the bill also include the formulation of the coconut development plan and the creation of a fund trustee to be chaired by the Secretary of Finance and co-chaired by the Secretary of Agriculture. “The law is still being drafted, but we would like to relay our thinking to the legislators that the handling of the coco levy should not fall to two parallel agencies,” Andal said. Andal said the fund should be given to PCA as it is the principal agency of the government involved in addressing the condition of the coconut farmers. “That should be the ideal situation. There should only be one body handling the coco levy fund in order to avoid differences and obstacles to the releases and the disposition of the fund,” he said. Coconut remains to be one of the top agricultural exports in the country, earning as much as $900 million annually for the past five years. The Philippines is one of the top producers of high quality coconuts and is the second biggest exporter of coconut-based products globally. Local production was down by seven percent in the second quarter due to the dry spell and trees were still reeling from the effects of typhoons that resulted in decreases in the number of bearing trees.

Imported food products to undergo DA inspection By Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 29, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

Ahead of Customs clearance MANILA, Philippines - The country’s imported food products must now be inspected first before being assessed by the Bureau of Customs (BoC) to ensure food safety and avert increasing cases of smuggling, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol is urging Customs to implement a section of the Food Safety Act, which requires all food imports to be cleared first before assessment by the BoC. “We will invoke this provision of the law where we should be the first to process any shipment. The DA will determine first whether shipments have complied with sanitary regulations,” Piñol told reporters in a chance interview. “We are doing this because as practiced now, our inspection activity happens after Customs’ process. That’s why there are a lot of smuggling cases,” he said. In line with this, Piñol is set to issue a department order that would create an Agricultural and Fisheries Trade Facilitation Unit to be stationed in the country’s different ports of entry to ensure that imports are examined first by DA personnel before the BOC. The group will be composed of members from DA-attached agencies Bureau of Animal Industry, National Meat Inspection Service, Bureau of Plant Industry and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, a lawyer and a police officer to be assigned as the team leader. “The BoC shall provide documents such as the inward foreign manifests of arriving vessels to enable us to identify shipments requiring food safety inspections. Shipments not complying with national regulations shall be disposed according to policies established by the DA and DOH (Department of Health),” Piñol said. While importers would be the ones directly affected, Piñol said that if they are legitimate, they should not worry and instead be glad because the DA is cleansing the ranks of fictitious importers. The DA’s move comes days after it issued an order canceling all import permits of all agricultural products, particularly meat, to curb smuggling. Piñol has recalled and cancelled all permits following the rampant smuggling of agricultural products.

The DA has so far validated 1,700 permits out of the over 3,000 issued permits. PiĂąol also slammed the indirect statement of industry group Samahang Industriya sa Agrikultura (Sinag) that the re-issuance of new import permits might become a new source of corruption for some people. “We have no ulterior motive and we are just implementing the law and promoting transparency to all,â€? he said.

Longer term of office for GOCC execs eyed By Prinz Magtulis ( | Updated November 28, 2016 - 6:48pm 17 129 googleplus0 0

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said he wants the term of office of directors on governmentowned and -controlled corporations increased to three years from one year "for efficiency." File MANILA, Philippines — Swamped with tons of applications on state corporations five months after taking over, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno wants to amend the law that aimed to strictly monitor government companies and their bosses. Specifically, Diokno said he wants the term of office of directors on government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) increased to three years from one year "for efficiency." "I am piled with applications waiting to be signed. There are still a lot," said Diokno, an exofficio member of the Governance Commission on GOCCs (GCG). GCG was created under Republic Act 10149 of 2012, an offshoot of then President Benigno Aquino III's State of the Nation Address that criticized huge bonuses of executives on underperforming state firms. Under Section 17 of the law, each appointive director could only stay for a year in office or could be on holdover capacity "until a successor is appointed." GCG is tasked to screen applicants submitted by each GOCC based on "fit and proper rule" before giving a shortlist to the president who shall appoint the directors. Each director is also evaluated every year as a basis for their compensation and bonuses. But the process had become tedious, Diokno said, to the point that GCG is still not yet finish filling up positions to date. The latest known appointment was that of Emmanuel Dooc as new president of the Social Security System.

To make the matter worse, GCG is yet to find a new chair after Jaime Ma. Flores resigned from his post, for unknown reasons, last month. "We are yet to find a chair but there is an OIC (officer-in-charge) and the four of us are continuously working," the budget chief told reporters. Aside from Diokno, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez also sits as ex-officio member, joined by Commissioners Michael Cloribel and Samuel Dagpin Jr. "I will talk with Sonny (Dominguez) about this because the formula is if you don't perform well after a year, then you're out. That's wrong," Diokno said. "You have to apply an appropriate formula wherein you at least give these people power at least to do their job, while keeping an eye on them," he said. Sought for comment, Astro del Castillo, managing director of First Grade Holdings Inc., agreed with Diokno. While the one-year term for directors was patterned after the private sector, Del Castillo said this "may not be applicable on the government because of politics." "GCG is an added bureaucracy. They should be trusting the Office of the President in terms of appointment," he said in a phone interview. "Nevertheless, I agree also that you need credible people in the corporations, but if they will only stay for one year, they could be more prone to politics," Del Castillo said. He stressed that unlike private firms where "only performance is the basis of appointment," politicking and the need for continuity make the government different. "If you ask the GOCCs, they really could not perform because of so much monitoring. Aside from GCG, they are also answerable to COA (Commission on Audit)," he said. Besides COA and GCG, the Department of Finance (DOF) also monitors the financial performance of state firms, getting contributions to national coffers and keeping an eye on their debts. In October, DOF data showed government collected P4.9 billion from the Bureau of the Treasury, down 13 percent year-on-year. National Treasurer Roberto Tan said the decline could be traced from "lower dividends on shares of stocks from state-owned and -controlled corporations."

New mining revenue sharing scheme pushed By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 29, 2016 - 12:00am 1 6 googleplus0 1 MANILA, Philippines - Failure by the last Congress to enact a new revenue sharing and taxation scheme for the mining industry presents an opportunity for determining new tax rates, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said yesterday. In an address delivered at the Dissemination Forum on the Mineral Asset Accounts of the Philippines, Pernia said the completion by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) of the new physical and monetary asset accounts for major Philippine mineral exports gold, copper, nickel and chromite would help the government assess the current policies in the mining sector. “One critical use of the mineral accounts is in the analysis for an appropriate fiscal regime. However, the bill on fiscal regime and revenue sharing agreement was not enacted in the 16th Congress,” he said. “Thus, this is a great opportunity to revisit and put forward new calculations for an appropriate tax rate that will be levied on mining companies.” The newly-completed mineral accounts, said Pernia, would guide the country’s economic planners in determining growth and development strategies for the mining sector. “The results of the mineral accounts project could not have come at a better time, as we are now in the process of formulating our Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022. The mineral accounts will guide us in the identification of the strategies in the mining sector,” he said. The Duterte administration, he said, wants to strike a balance between having a responsible mining environment and enhancing the contribution of the extractive industry to the country’s economic output. “If properly utilized, these (mineral accounts) will be useful in formulating policy recommendations on how to operationalize responsible mining in the country,” he said. Citing data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Pernia said the mining sector currently has a 0.7 percent contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and comprises 5.6 percent of the total exports. From 2011 to 2015, the sector was also a robust provider of employment, creating an average of 236,400 jobs annually during the reference period. “Considering its small contribution to the economy and the contentious debate on mining and its links with issues on land-use, environment and social acceptability, the question for us is: How can we harness the full potential of the country’s mineral resources to contribute to economic growth, generate employment, and reduce poverty,” said Pernia.

The local mining industry has always faced various challenges among which are proliferation of illegal small-scale mining activities, limited number of processing plants to add value to mineral products, and lack of an efficient revenue collection that would ensure an equitable and of income from mining to the proper beneficiaries. The past four years, however, have been especially difficult for the industry striving to attain its full potential. In 2012, the Aquino administration imposed a moratorium on the approval of new mining contracts pending the passage into law of a new revenue sharing scheme between the government and mining companies. Higher taxes sought by the previous administration are viewed by the industry with trepidation as this is seen to make the industry uncompetitive, driving operational mines out of business and preventing the opening of new projects. The transfer of power to the Duterte administration dealt another blow to the industry after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), under new secretary Gina Lopez, launched an audit of the operations of 40 metallic mines, suspending 10 companies in the process. In between cracking down on illicit operations, the government over the past four years also introduced several reforms that would help the industry survive the tumult. These include legitimizing the operations of qualified small scale miners by lumping them together in so-called Minahang Bayan sites which operate under strict environmental controls as well as allowing existing projects to expand operating areas to enable existing companies to survive. Pernia supports the ongoing audit conducted by the DENR and said further reforms in existing policies are needed to enable the sector to become an effective contributor to the economy. “We laud the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) efforts towards truly responsible mining in the country through its ongoing mining audits,” he said. “We in NEDA believe that it is necessary to implement further policy reforms to enable the mining sector (to) realize its full potential and increase its role in nation building.”

Budget deficit narrows in October By Prinz Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 29, 2016 - 12:00am

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the deficit may continue to widen toward its cap of P388.87 billion this year. “The government understands the important role of infrastructure in mobilizing citizens and goods, the accessibility of basic services and national productivity,” he said in a speech.

Spending down for first time MANILA, Philippines - Spending contracted for the first time under the Duterte administration last October, trimming down that month’s budget deficit which has been running at its highest level in four years. The deficit – which indicates more revenues were spent than earned – narrowed to P2.35 billion in October, down from P27.02 billion in the same period a year ago, data from the Bureau of the Treasury showed. Broken down, revenues went up seven percent to P174.64 billion while expenditures went down to P177 billion. This marked the first time in four months that disbursements contracted – the first under the new administration, which has promised to speed up spending to support economic growth. “I am not concerned with it since last year’s performance that month was unusually high at P190 billion,” Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said in a phone interview yesterday. “That’s an unusual base effect, probably because they released funds last year to prepare for the elections,” he said.

Earlier, the Department of Budget and Management also pointed to “one-off” releases for the hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation ummit in November last year for the big releases the previous month. For the first 10 months, however, the deficit widened more than four times from last year to P216.05 billion, already the widest since 2013, figures showed. Revenue inched up three percent to P1.82 trillion while spending increased by a higher 12 percent to P2.04 trillion. Diokno said the deficit may continue to widen toward its cap of P388.87 billion this year. “The government understands the important role of infrastructure in mobilizing citizens and goods, the accessibility of basic services and national productivity,” he said in a speech. “We can also expect a broader social service and human capital development programs to be launched soon,” he said during a forum in Quezon City. For Emilio Neri Jr., lead economist at Bank of the Philippine Islands, the bigger worry is the slow expansion in revenue “significantly trailing the recovery in oil prices” and peso weakness. Global oil prices have rebounded this year after planned supply cuts, while a weaker peso should increase the value where taxes and Customs duties are based. “I’m more concerned about BIR revenues remaining slower than nine percent nominal GDP (gross domestic product) growth,” Neri said in an e-mail. The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) raised collections by nine percent as of October, but Neri said under the first four months of President Duterte, growth was only five percent. The Bureau of Customs, meanwhile, has improved its haul to seven percent so far this year. Both agencies account for around 90 percent of state revenues. “There should be further revenue boost from the peso drop, but it’s not showing. Still, we need to give new BIR officials some time to improve their capacity to collect,” Neri said.‐deficit‐narrows‐october          

Next Philippine Development Plan anchored on long-term vision, says NEDA By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 29, 2016 - 12:00am 1 3 googleplus2 0 MANILA, Philippines - The next medium term development plan for the country would focus on means of attaining the long-term aspirations of Filipinos, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said yesterday. In a statement, the agency said it has started the consultation and crafting process for the Philippine Economic Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022 which is slated for release in the early part of 2017. The next PDP would be the first medium-term development plan anchored on a long-term vision. It would be the first of four six-year plans that aim to realize the aspirations contained in the AmBisyon Natin 2040, the 25-year socioeconomic vision for the country that was adopted last month as the country’s official guide for long-term development planning. “The PDP will translate AmBisyon Natin 2040 and the administration’s 0+10-point Socioeconomic Agenda into strategies, policies, programs, and activities that emphasize “Malasakit at Pagbabago tungo sa Patuloy na Pag-unlad,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia. “The overall objective of the PDP is to lay down a solid foundation for inclusive growth, a hightrust society, and a globally competitive knowledge economy,” he added. This is based on the long-term vision that by 2040, “the Philippines will be a prosperous, predominantly middle-class society where no one is poor; our peoples will live long and healthy lives, be smart and innovative, and will live in a high-trust society.” NEDA is now coordinating the formulation of the country’s national and regional development plans and the accompanying investment programs. Since Nov. 21, NEDA has been conducting consultations in 17 regions for the PDP. The consultations involve representatives from the legislature, executive agencies, local government units, business sector, academe, civil society and other stakeholders. The strategies of the PDP 2017-2022 are supported by three pillars: “Malasakit” or enhancing the social fabric, “Pagbabago” or reducing inequality, and “Kaunlaran” or increasing potential growth. These can be attained by laying down a strong foundation in national peace and security, strategic and accelerated infrastructure development, resiliency, and ecological integrity.

For Malasakit, the social fabric would be enhanced by regaining people’s trust. It involves clean, efficient, and citizen-centered governance; swift and fair administration of justice; and promotion of awareness and value of cultural diversity. For Pagbabago, inequality would be reduced to make ordinary Filipinos feel change. For each economic sector, it involves expanding economic opportunities and increasing access to these opportunities for sub-sectors and groups that lag behind. For individuals and people groups, it involves reducing vulnerability of the poor and acceleration in human capital development. For Patuloy na Pag-unlad, potential growth would be increased because it is imperative that growth is accelerated and sustained. It involves promoting technology adoption, encouraging innovation, and maximizing the gains from the demographic dividend or slowing population growth.‐philippine‐development‐plan‐anchored‐ long‐term‐vision‐says‐neda                                

Diokno seeks to amend law on tenure of government directors By Prinz Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 29, 2016 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0

Swamped with tons of applications on state corporations five months after taking over Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno wants to amend the law that aims to strictly monitor government companies and their bosses. The STAR/File MANILA, Philippines - Swamped with tons of applications on state corporations five months after taking over, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno wants to amend the law that aims to strictly monitor government companies and their bosses. Specifically, Diokno wants the term of office of directors on government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) increased to three years from one year “for efficiency.” “I am piled with applications waiting to be signed. There are still a lot,” said Diokno, an exofficio member of the Governance Commission on GOCCs (GCG). GCG was created under RA 10149 of 2012, an offshoot of former president Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address that criticized huge bonuses of executives in underperforming state firms. Under Section 17 of the law, each appointive director could only stay for a year in office or could be on holdover capacity “until a successor is appointed.” GCG is tasked to screen applicants submitted by each GOCC based on “fit and proper rule” before giving a shortlist to the president who shall appoint the directors. Each director is also evaluated every year as basis for their compensation and bonuses. But the process had become tedious, Diokno said, to the point that GCG is still not yet finish filling up positions to date. The latest known appointment was that of Emmanuel Dooc as new president of Social Security System.

To make the matter worse, GCG is yet to find a new chair after Jaime Ma. Flores resigned from his post, for unknown reasons, last month. “We are yet to find a chair but there is an OIC (officer-in-charge) and the four of us are continuously working,” the budget chief said. Aside from Diokno, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez also sits as ex-officio member, joined by commissioners Michael Cloribel and Samuel Dagpin Jr. “I will talk with Sonny (Dominguez) about this because the formula is if you don’t perform well after a year, then you’re out. That’s wrong,” Diokno said. “You have to apply an appropriate formula wherein you at least give these people power to do their job, while keeping an eye on them,” he said. Sought for comment, Astro del Castillo, managing director of First Grade Holdings Inc., agreed with Diokno. While the one-year term for directors was patterned after the private sector, Del Castillo said this “may not be applicable on the government because of politics.” “GCG is an added bureaucracy. They should be trusting the Office of the President in terms of appointment,” he said in a phone interview. “Nevertheless, I agree also that you need credible people in the corporations, but if they will only stay for one year, they could be more prone to politics,” Del Castillo said.‐seeks‐amend‐law‐tenure‐government‐ directors                  

Inflation seen at 1.6%-2.4% in November By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 29, 2016 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) expects inflation to range between 1.6 and 2.4 percent this month amid the continued weakening of the peso against the dollar due to uncertainties brought about by the impending interest rate hike in the US. BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said lower power rates and pump prices of petroleum products as well as cheaper rice are expected to offset upside risks to inflation. “Lower petroleum prices and the slight decline in rice prices along with the downward adjustment in power rates could be partly offset by higher LPG prices and weaker domestic currency during the month,” Tetangco said. The peso has been flirting with the 50 to $1 level last week due to the impending rate hike by the US Federal Reserve next month as well as the effects of the shocking victory of Republican Donald Trump. The economy accelerated 7.1 percent in the third quarter from seven percent in the second quarter, making the Philippines the fastest growing economy in the region. The expansion in the third quarter was faster than China’s 6.7 percent, Vietnam’s 6.4 percent, Indonesia’s five percent, and Malaysia’s 4.3 percent. This brought the GDP growth to seven percent in the first nine months, the high end of the six to seven percent target penned by economic managers. The strong growth was achieved amid the benign inflation environment as the consumer price index averaged 1.6 percent in the first 10 months after remaining steady at 2.3 percent in October. The BSP has set an inflation target of between two and four percent from 2016 to 2018. The robust domestic demand and tamed inflation has allowed monetary authorities to keep its dovish policy stance. “Looking ahead, the BSP will continue to monitor evolving price trends and output conditions to ensure price stability conducive to a balanced and sustainable economic growth,” Tetangco said.‐seen‐1.6‐2.4‐november    

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.‐5‐big‐supermarket‐chains‐buy‐direct‐ onion‐farmers 

Group backs anticoal bid in Pangasinan By: Gabriel Cardinoza - @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:20 AM November 29, 2016

Sual residents say they don’t want another coal-fired power plant in their midst. —RAY B. ZAMBRANO SUAL, PANGASINAN—Residents opposing the construction of a second coal-fired power plant in this town have found an ally in the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), which vowed to help them stop the proposed project. Valentino de Guzman, PMCJ Luzon area coordinator, said his group would fight with residents here to stop the proposed $1-billion plant in the coastal village of Baquioen here. PMCJ is a coalition of more than 100 civil society groups in the country. De Guzman on Sunday spoke at a forum organized by the Save Sual Movement, a group of residents opposing the project. The proposed plant, which is expected to generate 900 megawatts of electricity for the Luzon grid when completed, will be built by Phinma Energy Corp. (formerly Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp.). De Guzman said it has been scientifically established that coal-fired plants have adverse effects on the environment and health of residents.

Renewable energy “Several countries in Europe and the United States have been decommissioning their coal-fired plants but here in the Philippines, we are even pushing them,” he said. De Guzman said the Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries when it comes to the impact of climate change. He said in an era of renewable energy, the country should instead build more solar and wind energy sources. “Negros [island] now has 100 percent renewable energy source. In fact, its problem is where to give its surplus power. So, if it can be done in Negros, it can be done here in Sual,” he said. Fossil fuel In the Philippine energy plan, energy mix by 2030 should be dominated by renewable energy sources. But with the proposed construction of more coal-fired plants, fossil fuel as energy sources will still comprise the majority of the energy mix by that time. There are 24 coal-fired power plants in the country and 36 more plants in the pipeline. So there is a need to sustain the opposition against the construction of coal-fired plants, De Guzman said.

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IN THE KNOW: Coal Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:00 AM November 29, 2016 Coal is generally considered a reliable energy source for generating electricity. Burning coal releases energy absorbed by plants from the sun and this can be used to heat water to generate steam, which is then used to drive a turbine to generate electricity. Coal is abundant but finite. Coal has the largest reserve and is often the cheapest of the fuel options. Generating electricity using coal can be “easy and affordable” but has a negative impact on the environment. According to Greenpeace International, coal burning power stations speed up global warming by filling the atmosphere with vast amounts of carbon dioxide. Coal burning can lead to acid rain and smog, and emits more than 60 different air pollutants. Sources: Inquirer Archives, DOE, Greenpeace International

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Duterte reappoints Gina Lopez as environment secretary By: Marlon Ramos - Reporter / @MRamosINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:43 PM November 28, 2016

Gina Lopez meets with President-elect Rodrigo Duterte last May as she accepts his offer to become the environment secretary of his administration. SCREENGRAB FROM RTVM MANILA — President Duterte has reappointed environment activist Gina Lopez as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Interestingly, Mr. Duterte made the announcement during the inaugural switch-on of a new coal power plant in Concepcion, Iloilo, held at the Rizal Hall of Malacañang on Monday evening. “I reappointed her because she was bypassed (by the Commission on Appointments). I like her (because) she is very strict,” the President said, referring to Lopez’s staunch defense of government regulations against pollution and over-extraction of minerals. “I like that she is not corrupt. I like that she cannot be corrupted. I like that. Why? Because I want my country at least relatively safe from all predators of all sorts,” he added. Lopez has been known to campaign against coal plants and mining before the President gave her the environment portfolio, a move that surprised even her fellow environmentalists. SFM

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DTI set to roll out P18-B ‘pondo para sa pagbabago’ By: Amy R. Remo - Reporter / @amyremoINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:09 AM November 29, 2016 The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) plans to lend as much as P18 billion to micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs), to help them expand. Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said Monday on the sidelines of the Manufacturing Summit 2016 that the fund would be called “Pondo para sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso” or P3. “We will ensure that these funds will benefit the small businessmen, even those that sell in the wet markets and sidewalks. We will conceptualize a program for the microfinance institutions to implement,” Lopez said. The target, he said, was to make the first P1 billion available by January next year. The budget will come from the national government and coursed through the DTI’s financing arm, Small Business Corp. (SB Corp.). The loans will then be channeled through at least six microfinance institutions (MFIs) that the DTI will identify. Borrowers will be charged market rates, but below the 20 percent usually collected by loan sharks. “SB Corp. may hold the wholesale fund, which will be channeled through MFIs for relending. We are looking at loans that start from as low as P5,000 to as high as P200,000,” he added. The DTI prioritized the lending program as the lack of access to affordable credit was deemed one of the major factors holding back the growth of MSMEs. If this first billion takes off without a hitch, Lopez said the DTI would then request for the balance of the P18 billion in the succeeding budget seasons. The plan is to roll out P1 billion per region for microfinancing, the trade chief added.

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5 Filipinos missing after fishing near Scarborough Shoal Associated Press / 07:02 PM November 28, 2016

Fishermen from Subic, Zambales, prepare their boats for another fishing trip to Scarborough Shoal moments after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague favored the Philippines on its territorial dispute with China. (INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON/Allan Macatuno) MANILA, Philippines — Philippine coast guard officials say they’ve launched a search for five Filipinos who failed to return after fishing in the disputed Scarborough Shoal in bad weather off the country’s northwest. Coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo said Monday the fishermen left the shoal due to an approaching typhoon last week and have not been heard from. He said boats and ships passing in the area have been alerted. Balilo said the Philippine coast guard plans to coordinate its search with its Chinese counterpart in the Scarborough area. China seized the shoal in 2012 after a maritime standoff with Philippines. Chinese coast guard ships have been blocking Filipino fishermen from the shoal but were allowed back after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte discussed the territorial rift with Chinese President Xi Jinping last month.

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‘Inspection of shipments to fight agriculture smuggling’ By Jasper Y. Arcalas November 28, 2016 •

The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it will inspect all inbound shipments of agricultural goods and food before the Bureau of Customs (BOC) evaluates the tariffs for these imports, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said on Monday. “The DA is doing this because as practiced now, the inspection activity of the department happens only after the BOC’s inspection. That’s why a lot are being smuggled,” Piñol told reporters in an interview. “So we will invoke this provision of the law that we should inspect shipments. The DA will determine first whether this shipment complied with sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) regulations,” he added. The mandatory inspection is Last week, Piñol ordered the “revalidation” of all import permits for agricultural goods, except for rice and corn, after receiving reports that many permits were being recycled and that smugglers are misdeclaring imported goods such as meat.

Piñol said the DA will create the Agriculture and Fisheries Trade Facilitation Unit (AFTFU) which would handle the inspection of all inbound shipments of agricultural goods in the country. He said the creation of the AFTFU is based on Section 12b of the Food Safety Act of 2013, which states that imported foods should undergo cargo inspection and clearance procedures by the DA and the Department of Health (DOH) at the first port of entry to determine compliance with national regulations. “On Monday, I will sign a department order creating the AFTFU which will effectively be stationed in the different ports of entry of the country to make sure that agricultural and fisheries exports entering the country are first examined by our people before Customs,” Piñol said. “This inspection by DA and DOH shall always take place prior to assessment for tariff and other charges by the BOC,” he added. Pinol said that the DA has no “ulterior motive” imposing the mandatory inspection of shipments and assured importers that the department would be “fair” in implementing the measure. “If they are legitimate and law-abiding importers, I think they should be happy with this because we are finally cleansing their ranks of fictitious importers,” Pinol said. “We have to do this to protect the interest of government which is being deprived of the appropriate tariffs from smugglers,” he added. Mixed reactions The DA chief’s decision to undertake mandatory inspection of all shipments of farm goods and food imports drew mixed reactions from agriculture industry groups and stakeholders. “This has always been the Sinag’s (Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura) position even before the Food Safety Act of 2013 was passed,” Sinag chairman Rosendo So said. “The global standard is ‘quarantine first policy.’ The food safety and public health security is more important than the tariffs and duties being imposed,” So added. He said smuggled goods never pass through proper quarantine and food inspection. Hog raisers belonging to the Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines Inc. (ProPork) also lauded the measure as this would hinder smugglers from misdeclaring their goods to skirt the payment of higher tariffs. “The DA really should be the first one to inspect as they would confirm and identify the specific product in the containers. Beause BOC officials usually don’t know what’s inside the containers, they cannot distinguish one part from another,” ProPork President Edwin G. Chen told the BusinessMirror.

“Because of our multitier tariffication on pork it may create some confusion which smugglers can take advantage. For example, importers would put five percent but our BOC officials are not good in scrutinizing the product being imported,” Chen added. The Meat Importers and Traders Association (Mita), however, said the mandatory inspection of shipments would only cause delays and would result in additional costs, port congestion, and deterioration of product quality. “This is best done at the second border which is at the cold storage. Such system has been in place for several years,” Mita president Jesus Cham told the BusinessMirror. Cham also said the additional inspection measure at ports is “redundant” and “a waste of resources.” “All imports come only from accredited establishments that have been pre-approved by DA,” Cham said. “They are certified fit for human consumption and free from animal disease by the exporting government,” he added. For United Broilers Raisers Association President Jose Elias Inciong, the lack of a trading data system capable of monitoring trade flow such as the specificities of a particular inbound shipment in the country would render government efforts to stop smuggling ineffective. “Any efforts at anti-smuggling and addressing unfair trade will be more effective if there is a trade data system which any decent respectable state should have especially after joining the WTO (World Trade Organization),” Inciong told the BusinessMirror. “How do you know that the valuation is correct, how do you know if the good is subsidized? How do you know if it’s dumping? These are all unfair trading practices which enable smuggling,” he added. Sans a trade data system, Inciong said the DA’s efforts “would not be partial and fair.” “So, you have to inspect even the ones which are not risky or relatively safe from smuggling. There’s no confidence [that there’s a smuggling situation] because there’s no system,” Inciong said.‐of‐shipments‐to‐fight‐agriculture‐smuggling/      

Cow, sheep and goat raisers ruminate future as government stops importation tack By Jasper Y. Arcalas November 28, 2016 0

In Photo: This undated photo downloaded from the Department of Agriculture and Food of the Government of Western Australia web site, shows livestock in that country. Australia is the source of 1,342 heads of cattle imported into the Philippines through the “Expanded Breeder Cattle Lease Ownership Program” of the Philippines’s Department of Agriculture. Part Two FILIPINOS love to eat meat. And with a growing economy comes an increasing purchasing power—meaning, there would be more chicharon, bulalo, sinigang, lechon and, maybe, even kebab on a Filipino’s plate today. In fact, Filipinos’ annual consumption of meat has almost doubled in the past two decades. The Philippines’s current meat consumption is at 28.7 kilograms per capita (kg/capita), nowhere near than the 1993-recorded 15.47 kg/capita, data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) show. The 1993 annual meat consumption reflects the current poultry-meat consumption per year of Filipinos. The Filipinos’ palate for other sources of protein, such as beef and mutton, has been continuously growing.

Filipinos’ annual consumption of beef has remained in the 3 kg/capita area since breaching that level in 1999. The OECD data show that the Philippines has a 3.02 kg/capita, way higher than the 1.69 kg/capita recorded in 1994. The same is observed with the relationship of Filipino taste buds and mutton. From a 0.378 kg/capita of mutton registered in 1993, the Philippines’s annual consumption of mutton has played in the 0.50+ kg/capita zone since 2008, OECD data show. Today, an average Filipino eats 0.504 kg of mutton a year. The country’s annual consumption of beef and mutton translates to a yearly requirement of 440,000 metric tons (MT) of beef and 58,600 MT of mutton, OECD data shows. In order to meet the growing demand of Filipinos for protein sources, such as the meat of ruminant animals (cattle, goat and sheep), the Department of Agriculture (DA) started a series of importation program in a bid to develop local ruminant animal industries in the Philippines eight years ago. Breeding NEARLY a decade ago, the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA), moved to develop ruminants. Called Animal Genetic Infusion Projects (Agip), the program has facilitated four importation projects to develop local ruminant industries by infusing new blood-lines from America and Australia. “The overall direction for the ruminant industry is to build the population base [through importation and use of technologies], increase animal productivity [through introduction of quality genetic materials], and lay the groundwork for sustainable development,” the BAI said. The first importation program was called “Accelerating the Genetic Resource Improvement Program for Beef Cattle and Small Ruminants”, or Agripbes. The program was launched in 2008 through a P399.90-million assistance funding from the United States through its US Public Law 480. Agripbes aims to ensure the continuous breeding of purebreds and genetically superior animals in the country by infusing new bloodlines to existing breeding farms under a repayment scheme. The BAI would be selecting certain breeds of ruminant animals from the US to be procured and imported to the Philippines. The BAI expects a domino effect of breeding through Agripbes. Once the proper animals were selected, they will undergo a week or two of quarantine period in the US. Afterward, they will be imported to the Philippines after a successful bidder has been awarded the contract for the said importation by the BAI. The imported animals would stay in government quarantine areas for 30 days, with the winning bidder shouldering the costs. After which, they are distributed to identified qualified farmers.

Repayment UPON receiving the imported breed of ruminant, the recipient-farmer must repay outright at least two ruminant animals for one imported buck (either goat or sheep) he or she received. The recipient can pay from existing stock or an offspring of the imported breed throughout the program duration. In principle, the ruminant animals that served as “repayment”—especially the offspring of the imported breed animal—were then given to the next line of Agripbes recipients. Recipientfarmers are selected by regional BAI coordinators, some of whom are also owners of a multiplier farm, from academe, local government unit or an interested livestock grower with capabilities. The first tranche of 1,800 imported ruminant animals were delivered from 2010 to 2013 in seven batches and were later on distributed to 16 regions. This tranche was composed of 1,200 heads of goat (351 boer, 308 Anglo Nubian, 59 Toggenburg, 131 Saanen, 346 Alpine and five La Mancha breeds) and 600 heads of sheep (145 Katahdin, 371 Dorper and 84 Saint Croix breeds). Since the first tranche in 2010, the program has reached a third line of recipients. There were 249 Agripbes first line recipients or the ones who directly received the first wave of imported ruminant animals, according to BAI data. Importation BAI data show that as of December 31, 2015, a total of 1,690 repayment animals from the firstline recipients were given already to 565 second-line recipients in 17 regions. So far, 142 repayment ruminant animals from the second-line recipients were distributed to 66 third-line recipients. All in all, these bring the total Agripbes-beneficiaries to 880, with total count of 3,632 ruminant animals distributed. In 2014 Agripbes ventured into the second phase of the animal importation program for cattle. The BAI earlier targeted an importation of 1,200 breeder heifers. But due to expensive cost of the cattle from the US, the number was reconfigured to 1,000 heads. Another reconfiguration was done—still due to expensiveness of cattle—in mid-2014 before the importation was greenlighted by then-Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala. A total of 78 heads of beef cattle (70 heifers and eight bulls) and 910 heads of sheep (258 rams and 652 ewes) of various breeds were procured. A contract was awarded to General Mercantile Corp. in a joint-venture agreement with Ebenezer Goat Farm. The said ruminant animals were selected in November 2015 and successfully arrived in the Philippines mid-December last year. Insemination AFTER a quarantine period in January, the procured animals for the second phase of Agripbes were distributed to various farms in the country. Sixteen of 17 farm recipients of the second sheep importation were delivered to 13 government stock farms and three were sent to the Central Luzon State University.

Meanwhile, recipients of 78 heads of cattle were all from government stock farms (GSFs). On top of the live animal importation, Agripbes also procured 10,000 semen doses of cattle of different breeds from the US, which could be tapped through the Unified National Artificial Insemination Program (Unaip). According to the implementing guidelines approved on March 17, 2015, about 4,000 doses of the total imported semen should have been used for the breeding season this year. The BAI said GSFs were supposed to have been given 1,720 doses, while the rest should have been provided to private farms. The BAI also said another 833 doses will be utilized by the participating farms in the succeeding breeding seasons until 2020. A thousand doses will be used for sire linkage, while the remaining 2,145 doses will serve as on-stock for the continuity of the BAI’s flagship project, the Genetic Improvement Program (GIP). Goats THROUGH another P475 million worth of funding assistance from USPL480, the BAI started in 2010 another ruminant animal-infusion project called the “Goat Production Project for An Accelerated Hunger Mitigation Program”, or the GPP-AHMP. The GPP-AHMP sourced 1,430 heads of breeder goats (1,300 head does and 130 head bucks) from America and another 2,115 heads of breeder goats locally (2,115 head does and 500 head bucks). The importation component of the GPP-AHMP earlier aimed to procure 6,480 heads of breeder goats (6,000 head does and 480 head bucks) but it was reconfigured due to high cost to the current goat count of 1,430 heads. The repayment scheme of the GPP-AHMP is the same with that applied for Agripbes. The locally sourced breeder goats were already distributed in 2014 with a total number of beneficiaries reaching 711 farmer-recipients (433 for breeder does and 278 for breeder bucks). The collection and distribution of repayment animals of the locally purchased goats to prospective farmer recipients started in the third quarter of 2016. Poverty AS for the imported goats, the BAI Bids and Awards Committee is currently on postevaluation of the winning bid in December 2015. The imported goats composed of Anglo Nubian, Alpine and Boer Breeds is proposed to be distributed to different nucleus farms of the government and academe.

According to BAI data, the estimated number of recipients of the GPP-AHMP is 378. The GPPAHMP was the materialization of the DA’s commitment to the government’s program of mitigating hunger and reducing poverty incidence in the country back in 2007. “The project helped in increasing the number of goat raises. An increase in number of raisers [with the assumption of more animals being raised] will be also increase the supply of goat and sheep meat in the market,” the BAI said in its 2015 Accomplishment Report. “This, in turn, will help them out of constant hunger and poverty.” To date, the country’s goat population has reached 3.71 million heads, according to latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). PSA data also show that goat production in 2015 increased to 77,480 (MT) live weight, from 76,100 in 2014. Heifers THE third importation program of the BAI was the “Expanded Breeder Cattle Lease Ownership Program”, or E-BClop. This program aimed to revitalize and sustain local cattle production by introducing high-grade and purebred animals with quality genetic materials at both small hold farmers and multiplier cattle raisers to ensure their continued access to genetics. Like the GPPAHMP, E-Bclop had local and imported components. The program started in 2014 and ends this year. It resulted to the procurement of 1,342 heads of cattle from Australia.Of the figure, 760 head of purebred commercial Brahman-breed heifers were distributed to the Federation of Cattle Raisers Association of the Philippines (FCRAP), a local cattle organization. The remaining heads were distributed to GSFs. As for the local component of the project, 800 heifers were purchased and equally distributed across 16 regions. The BAI estimates at least 449 E-Bclop recipients. About 286 of them received locally purchased cattle, while the remaining 163 are recipients of the imported ones. The E-Bclop project is currently on its final phase, which is the collection and distribution of repayment animals. This phase is expected to start next year, according to documents provided by the BAI. Mutton 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 procure 3,409 heads of commercial meat-type sheep to develop the mutton industry and sheep production in the country. The E-Bclop and MDP were Philippine government-funded projects through the DA’s National Livestock Program (NLP). Under the NLP, the DA allotted P200 million for E-Bclop (P40 million for the local component and P160 million for the foreign component) and P124.48 million for the MDP.

“Even if there’s only around 6 percent of commercial ruminant animal growers in the country and the rest, of which more than 93 percent are backyard farmers, we closely work hard with the industry,” Agip Overall Project Manager Paul Limson told the BusinessMirror. To be concluded‐sheep‐and‐goat‐raisers‐ruminate‐future‐as‐government‐stops‐ importation‐tack/                                      

Release P4-billion interest from coco-levy fund–PCA By Jasper Y. Arcalas November 28, 2016 0

The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) urged lawmakers on Monday to release at least P4 billion worth of interest from the P75-billion coconut-levy fund by the end of the year. “Our request to them is that if the passage of law for the handling of the total coconut-levy fund would take longer, then we hope that they could release even the P4-billion interest,” said newly installed PCA Administrator Avelino Andal in a news briefing in Quezon City. “We want the interest to be released so that in the interim, while waiting for the release of the principal money, we can start the ball rolling. Besides, the principal money is earning a lot per year so let’s use that [interest],” Andal added. He said he plans to use the interest in reviving the local coconut industry and help farmers boost their incomes. Andal added that the PCA should handle and keep the coconut-levy fund, and not the Bureau of the Treasury, as the agency attached to the Office of the President is directly responsible for developing the coconut industry.

“That should be the ideal situation. There should be only one body handling the coco-levy fund in order to avoid differences and obstacles to the releases and the disposition of the fund,” Andal said. “The coco levy kept by the Bureau of the Treasury should be given to the PCA because it is the principal agency involved in addressing and helping coconut farmers,” he added. In September Malacañang ordered the Department of Agriculture (DA) to file a bill that would expedite the release of the P75-billion coco-levy fund to help farmers fight cocolisap or coconut scale insect infestation. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said President Duterte instructed him and presidential liaison officer Adelino B. Sitoy to work with Congress to fast-track the passage of the measure. As the President wants the coco-levy fund released before the year ends, Piñol said the bill would be certified as urgent. The Presidential Commission on Good Government disclosed that the coco-levy fund that was collected from coconut farmers from 1973 to 1982 has increased to P75 billion from P73 billion.‐p4‐billion‐interest‐from‐coco‐levy‐fund‐pca/                        

BusinessMirror leads Jose G. Burgos Jr. biotech awards winners By BusinessMirror November 28, 2016

In Photo: The BusinessMirror led the winners in the 2016 Jose G. Burgos Awards for Biotech Journalism as it bagged first place in the Institutional and News Story categories. Jennifer A. Ng (second from left), associate editor of BusinessMirror received the award for the Institutional category during the awarding ceremony held in Quezon City last Thursday. Joining her are (from left) Dr. Virginia N. Enriquez of the Department of Science and Technology; Dr. Vivencio R. Mamaril, director of the Department of Agriculture’s Biotechnology Program Office; Dr. Edita Burgos, widow of the late journalist Jose G. Burgos, after whom the Awards was named; and Dr. Nina Gloriani, president of the Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines. The Jose G. Burgos Jr. awards for biotechnology journalism celebrated its 10th year with the awarding of this year’s winners on Thursday night at the Sulo Riviera Hotel in Quezon City. “Genetically modified corn allowed farmers to earn $560 million—study” written by Mary Grace Padin for the BusinessMirror, bagged the first prize in the Best News Story category. InterAksyon’s Diego Mora won second prize for his article “Dutch experts boost security to prevent loss of UPLB pathogenic microbes” and “Cheaper, healthier animal feed from UPLB” by Maricar Cinco of the Philippine Daily Inquirer took the third prize.

For the Best Feature category, James Konstantin Galvez from The Manila Times won first prize for his article “Corn growers urged govt to approve new GMO rules.” The second prize went to Ray Eñano of Manila Standard with his article “Academe hurting from GMO ruling.” Henrylito Tacio of EDGE Davao finished third for his article “Golden Rice fights hidden hunger.” In the institutional category, the BusinessMirror bagged first place. Philippine Star won second place. and The Manila Times tied in third place. Winning articles were chosen by this year’s judges Dr. Virginia Enriquez, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Alparce and Melo Acuña, who reviewed biotechnology stories from August 2015 to July 2016. The Awards was organized by the J. Burgos Media Services and the Joe Burgos Pen with the support of the Department of Agriculture-Biotechnology Program Office, Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines and Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture-Biotechnology Information Center.‐leads‐jose‐g‐burgos‐jr‐biotech‐awards‐winners/                            

Concerted effort to fight agricultural smuggling By BusinessMirror Editorial November 28, 2016 Many traders and some officials of government agencies were taken aback when Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol announced the cancellation of import permits for animal and plant products last week. Piñol said the measure was meant to fight the outright and technical smuggling of agricultural goods. He said he reached a decision to scrap old permits after finding a “huge discrepancy” in the meat-importation data of the United Nations and the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI). Piñol noted that traders tend to “misdeclare” the agricultural goods they bring into the country, a practice known as technical smuggling. Unscrupulous traders will declare the imported product as something else, usually one that is levied a lower tariff, to avoid paying higher duties. In the case of pork imports, the Department of Agriculture (DA) noted that some traders declare pork cuts as offal. Pork cuts are usually slapped a tariff of 35 percent, while the government imposes a 5-percent to 10-percent tariff on imported offal. In 2010 the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) complained that some companies undervalued the palm oil and palm olein they imported by as much as 90 percent. While the two commodities from Malaysia and Indonesia came in at zero duty pursuant to the Asean Free Trade Agreement, FPI said the companies dodged the payment of the 12-percent value-added tax. FPI charged that the traders were in cahoots with corrupt Bureau of Customs (BOC) officials. The DA had taken additional steps to eliminate this illegal practice by declaring that it would inspect all shipments of agricultural goods first prior to the assessment of tariffs. While it remains to be seen whether the DA could sustain this effort, it is a good step to help fight technical smuggling, as it appears that the BOC is not capable of preventing it. Piñol and hog raisers themselves said the technical smuggling of imported pork offal continues to this day, despite their appeal to the government to stop it. Domestic producers have been complaining for years of incurring losses due to the outright and technical smuggling of agricultural goods. For years, they have pleaded with the government to do something about agricultural smuggling, which makes it more difficult for them to become competitive. Their pleas, however, appear to have fallen on deaf ears. Now, one government agency has decided to do something about it. The BOC should follow its lead. It should rid its ranks of scalawags and work closely with the DA and other concerned government agencies to eliminate the scourge that is agricultural smuggling.‐effort‐to‐fight‐agricultural‐smuggling/  

How to reduce the global food gap by half By Cecilio Arillo November 28, 2016

THE Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in a recent study shared to Database said better agricultural water management could halve the global food gap by 2050 and buffer some of the harmful climate-change effects on crop yields. For the first time, PIK scientists investigated systematically the worldwide potential to produce more food with the same amount of water by optimizing rain use and irrigation, arguing that investing in crop-water management could substantially reduce hunger, while at the same time making up for population growth. Putting the findings into practice would, however, require specific local solutions. “Smart water use can boost agricultural production; we’ve in fact been surprised to see such sizeable effects at the global level,” PIK lead author Jonas Jägermeyr said, pointing out that “in a water-management scenario the scientists described as ambitious, global kilocalorie production could rise by 40 percent, while roughly 80 percent, according to UN estimates, would be needed to eradicate hunger by the middle of this century.” Jägermeyr said that, even in less ambitious scenarios, results show that integrated crop-water management could make a crucial contribution to filling the plates of the poor. The PIK scientists have run comprehensive biophysical computer simulations, constraining these in such a way that croplands do not expand into forests and no additional water resources are needed. As it is a global study, it provides detailed vegetation dynamics and water use effects in river basins—certainly too coarse to simulate farm-level conditions, but suited to identify regional hot spots. For example, the yield increase potential of crop-water management is found to be particularly large in water-scarce regions, such as in China, Australia, the western US, Mexico and South Africa.

“Assessing the potential is tricky: If upstream farmers reroute otherwise wasted water to increase irrigation and production, less water returns to downstream users and consequently this can affect their production,” said PIK coauthor and team leader Dieter Gerten, adding that: “Below the line, we found that the overall production increases. Still, this, of course, poses quite some distributional challenges. Also, a lot of local government regulation and incentives, such as micro-credit schemes are needed to put crop-water management into large-scale practice.” Mulching and drip systems to counter climate change impacts The scientists took into account a number of very different concrete water-management options, from low-tech solutions for smallholders to the industrial scale. Water harvesting by collecting excess rain run-off for instance in cisterns—for supplementary irrigation during dry spells—is a common traditional approach in some regions, such as the Sahel region in Africa, but is underused in many other semi-arid regions, such as Asia and North America. Mulching is another option—the soil gets covered either simply with crop residues left on the field, reducing evaporation, or with huge plastic sheets. Finally, a major contribution to the global potential is upgrading irrigation to drip systems. It is especially under ongoing climate change that water management becomes increasingly important to reduce food risks. The reason is that global warming is likely to increase droughts and change rainfall patterns, so water availability becomes even more critical than before. Assuming a moderate carbon-dioxide (CO2) fertilization effect—plants take up CO2 and could hence benefit from higher concentrations in the air, but the magnitude of this effect is still under debate—the study shows that in most climate policy scenarios, water management can counterbalance a large part of the regional warming impacts on farming. “Yet if greenhouse-gas emissions from burning fossil fuels are not reduced at all, in a businessas-usual scenario, water management will clearly not suffice to outweigh the negative climate effects,” the PIK study said. Given the planetary boundaries, decision-makers should look into water use “Water management is key for tackling the urgent global sustainability challenge,” said Johan Rockström, coauthor of the study and Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. “It has been an issue in many local and regional studies and its effects on farm level have been well demonstrated, but has not been thoroughly analyzed at the global scale. The recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals by all countries—while stipulating sustainable agriculture among all nations—need to be based on more evidence on how to achieve such large system changes, and water needs to be central here. Since we’re rapidly approaching planetary boundaries, our study should indeed draw the attention of decision-makers of all levels to the potential of integrated crop-water management.” To reach the writer, e-mail

How can PH tap into climate change fund, Duterte asks At the launch of a coal-fired power plant, President Duterte threatens anew to pull out from the Paris climate pact if questions on ‘common fund’ and sanctions are not addressed Published November 29, 2016, 1:18 AM By Elena Aben and MB Online Despite acquiescing to his cabinet, President Rodrigo Duterte aired anew his qualms about ratifying the landmark Paris climate change agreement, which he said puts developing countries like the Philippines at a disadvantage. The pact, which went into effect last November 4, seeks to cut the world’s warming temperature down by 1.5 degrees Celsius.

FILE – In this Jan. 20, 2015 file photo, steam billows from the chimney or a coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H. USA. The Paris Agreement on climate change comes into force Friday Nov. 4, 2016, after a year of remarkable success in international efforts to slash manmade emissions of carbon dioxide and other global warming gases. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, FILE) Manila Bulletin

Duterte particularly raised his concern about how small countries could access the “common fund” or the fund to be pooled by industrialized nations like the United States to help smaller countries adjust to the effects of climate change. “I just hope that the nations controlling the interests there including the money that they will contribute or the common fund which I think we are not qualified to be in there, ayusin lang nila because ‘pag hindi eh magwi-withdraw ako. I’ll be the first one,” Duterte warned. He also pointed out what he considered a loophole in the supposedly binding agreement. “You have a binding agreement and there is no sanction for a violation… So it means only one thing: that if you are a small nation and you are lumped together with big nations, the highly industrialized nations, you have to obey,” he said. While Duterte vacillated about climate change, he said that “mankind should calibrate itself. As we go along the way, we improve the gadgets that emit emissions harmful to human beings.” “I have my misgivings of the climate change pact because it’s a ruckus and even President (Fidel) Ramos criticized me for refusing at first,” said Duterte, who was persuaded by his cabinet to agree to ratifying the agreement. In defense of coal Nonetheless, he stressed the country needs power plants to drive the economy—with his cabinet “technocrats” advising him to develop industrial zones—and that the cheapest way is to use coal. He added coal is probably the safest if modern technology is applied. “I would not mention the place but I was there somewhere in Mindanao and nakita ko iyong coal-power plant nila. And it was working well. I could see the steam, it was white. So, medyo siguro parang clouds. Sabi ko magaling ito, hindi madilim,” said the president. “And there was an aviary beside and I could see the birds there were as healthy as the human beings working there. So wala sigurong problema dito,” he added. Duterte said when he ordered the conduct of a study to monitor cancer-related deaths in the area over the past 10 years, the result yielded zero cancer epidemic. “Mabuti kayo all those years you were spewing a lot of poison in the air, unbridled, unbothered, nobody molested you because you were the kings at that time. And you were doing it for so many centuries,” Duterte upbraided the developed countries. Coal plant launch The chief executive made the statement as he led the inauguration and ceremonial switch on of the 135-megawatt coal-fired power plant of Palm Concepcion Power Corp. at the Rizal Hall of Malacañang.

The Concepcion, Iloilo-based facility is a base load power plant which started operating commercially in August, significantly supplying energy to the Visayas grid.

From left to right: Palm Concepcion Power Corporation (PCPC) adviser Jacinto Ng Jr., PCPC chairman Walter Brown, President Rodrigo Duterte, energy secretary Alfonso Cusi and PCPC president and CEO Roel Castro press the button at the inauguration and ceremonial switch-on of the 135 MW Circulating Fluidized Bed Combustion Power Plants of Palm Concepcion Power Corporation at the Rizal Ceremonial Hall in Malacañang Palace, Manila on Monday, November 28. (Jay Ganzon) Energy secretary Alfonso Cusi, PCPC chairman Walter Brown, and president and CEO Roel Castro joined the president in the ceremonial switch on. In his speech, the Duterte congratulated the PCPC for its investment in Iloilo. “You have helped the country. Do not worry about pollution, it’s always been there. It is up to our mankind to innovate and—you know come up with something, a good gadget that would compensate for all of these things, because we cannot… abandon the sources of energy,” he said, signifying that sun and wind sources of energy are still not viable in the country. “The cheapest way is really to have coal. Just be careful that in the operation of the enterprise we do not get so much in trouble also with the regulators of our country,” he further stated. Gina Lopez reappoinment Meanwhile, the president also announced that he has reappointed environment secretary Gina Lopez, expressing his satisfaction with her work. “Na-bypass siya ‘eh. But I like her and she’s okay, very strict, I like that. She is not corrupt, I like that. And she cannot be corrupted, I also like that. Why? Because I want my country also at least relatively safe from every predators from all sorts,” said Duterte.

DTI: Firms raise concerns on ending contractualization Published November 29, 2016, 10:34 AM By Philippine News Agency Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said local and foreign companies have raised their concerns on ending contractualization.

DTI logo On the sidelines of Manufacturing Summit 2016 in Makati City on Monday, Lopez told reporters that three local firms and one Japanese company said they are rethinking their expansion plans here if the government will scrap the option for enterprises to hire employees by contract. He mentioned that each company are employing 20,000 to 30,000 personnel and plans to add about 30,000 more jobs. “They like to add 30,000 more (jobs) but they are looking at the contractualization issue,” he said. “If contractualization will be removed, they (companies) will look for another place, they said,” the DTI chief added. Three local firms and a Japanese company are tapping service providers for their manpower, Lopez mentioned.

The official noted that companies are supporting the “win-win” structure that DTI has proposed. DTI’s “win-win” solution wants the security of tenure to take place in service providers. This means service providers will have the direct employer-employee relation. The principal company will pay the salary and provide the benefits through service providers. The service providers also has the responsibility to re-deploy its employees to other firms if their service to a principal company has ended. “That’s even better than the current format,” said Lopez.‐firms‐raise‐concerns‐on‐ending‐contractualization/


1.4 bn jobs depend on pollinators 0 SHARES Share it! Published November 29, 2016, 8:36 AM By Agence France-Presse About 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops depend on pollinators, researchers said Monday warning of a dire threat to human welfare if the falls in bee and butterfly numbers are not halted. “World food supplies and jobs are at risk unless urgent action is taken to stop global declines of pollinators,” said a statement from the University of Reading, whose researchers took part in the global review.

There are some 20,000 species of bees responsible for fertilising more than 90 percent of the world’s 107 major crops (AFP Photo/Roland Weihrauch) / MANILA BULLETIN Animal pollination directly affects about three-quarters of important crop types, including most fruits, seeds and nuts and high-value products such as coffee, cocoa and oilseed rape. Pollinators added some $235-577 billion (222-545 billion euros) to crop output per year, said the team. “Agriculture employs 1.4 billion people, approximately one-third of the world’s economically active labor force,” said the review published in the journal Nature. “This is particularly important to the world’s poorest rural communities, 70 percent of whom rely on agriculture as the main source of income and employment.” Most pollinators are insects such as bees, butterflies, moths, wasps and beetles, but others include birds, bats and lizards while some crops are pollinated by wind.

The team said crops which depend on animal pollinators are crucial for balanced human diets, providing micronutrients such as vitamins A and C, calcium, fluoride and folic acid. “Pollinator losses could therefore result in a substantial rise in the global rate of preventable diseases,” the researchers wrote. “This could result in about 1.4 million additional deaths per year and approximately 29 million lost years of healthy life,” the researchers wrote. Busy bees Wild plants are also at risk — more than 90 percent of tropical flowering plant species rely on animal pollination, said the team. Almost one in five vertebrate pollinators, mostly birds and bats, are threatened with extinction. And among bees — the most numerous pollinators by far — about nine percent were cataloged as threatened, with a similar percentage for butterflies. The true number for bees may be much higher, given the lack of data on many species, said the report. There are some 20,000 species of bees responsible for fertilizing more than 90 percent of the world’s 107 major crops. Bee populations have been hit in Europe, North America and elsewhere by a mysterious phenomenon called “colony collapse disorder”, which has been blamed on mites, a virus or fungus, pesticides, or a combination of factors. The authors of the review called for measures to protect pollinators against farming’s worst sideeffects. These could include using natural pest predators instead of pesticides, planting strips of flowers between crops, rotating crops to include flowering plants, and restoring native wild flower habitats to house pollinator communities. Manmade infrastructure such as power lines, railway banks and even motorways could be adapted to provide flowering and nesting spots for pollinators, the team wrote.‐4‐bn‐jobs‐depend‐on‐pollinators/      

Japan orders major poultry cull after first bird flu outbreak in nearly two years Published November 29, 2016, 11:55 AM By Reuters Japan has started culling more than 300,000 chickens and ducks after the discovery of a highly contagious form of bird flu on farms in the north of the country, local officials said. The bird flu outbreaks are the first in nearly two years in Japan and news of the cullings boosted shares in some infection-control product makers.

Workers wearing protective suits cull ducks after some tested positive for H5 bird flu at a poultry farm in Aomori, northern Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo November 29, 2016. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS / MANILA BULLETIN In Niigata prefecture north of Tokyo, authorities on Tuesday started culling about 310,000 chickens at a farm in the village of Sekikawa after 40 birds were found dead from H5 bird flu, a prefectural official told Reuters by telephone. The cull will continue until Dec. 2, the official said. Further north in the prefecture of Aomori, about 16,500 ducks were being culled in the city of the same name after some tested positive for bird flu, according to a statement on the prefecture’s website. This is the first time that highly pathogenic avian influenza has been confirmed in Aomori prefecture, it said. The agriculture ministry said the outbreaks are the first for nearly two years in poultry farms in Japan.

Taiko Pharmaceutical Co, which makes infection-control products, surged 3.2 percent, and mask maker Daiwabo Holdings, jumped 5.1 percent. Protective clothing maker Azearth Corp, which is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s second section, soared 17 percent to its daily limit of 681 yen. Meanwhile, grilled-chicken restaurant operator Torikizoku Co dropped 2.8 percent. “The news about bird flu is affecting these shares, but these moves tend to be short-lived,” said Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Asset Management. South Korea last Friday announced a temporary nationwide standstill order for poultry farms and related transport over the weekend in a bid to contain a spread of H5N6 bird flu, a severe strain of the disease. Another severe strain of bird flu, H5N8, has hit several countries in Europe and led to the culling of thousands of poultry after being detected in wild ducks in Northern France. In recent weeks there have also been outbreaks in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Romania and Germany. Dutch authorities destroyed about 190,000 ducks on Saturday at six farms following an avian flu outbreak. Farmers located in humid regions, where the risk of transmission is higher, are advised by health authorities to keep poultry flocks indoors or apply safety nets preventing contact with wild birds. The H5N8 virus has never been detected in humans but it led to the culling of millions of farm birds in Asia, mainly South Korea, in 2014 before spreading to Europe. The World Organization for Animal Health had warned in an interview with Reuters midNovember that more outbreaks of H5N8 were likely in Europe as wild birds believed to transmit the virus migrate southward.‐orders‐major‐poultry‐cull‐after‐first‐bird‐flu‐outbreak‐ in‐nearly‐two‐years/            

DA wants to inspect agri imports posted November 28, 2016 at 09:00 pm by Anna Leah E. Gonzales Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol is creating a new unit that will inspect all agricultural and fishery products entering the country to stop smuggling. “I will sign a department order creating the Agricultural and Fisheries Trade Facilitation Unit which will effectively be stationed in the different ports of entry of the country to make sure that agricultural and fisheries imports entering the country are first examined by our people before Customs,” Piñol said in a news briefing. He said the newly created group would be stationed in different points of entry or Customs zones to lessen the possibility of smuggling.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol “The legal basis for that is the Food Safety Act of 2013, Section 12 B which states that imported food shall undergo cargo clearance and inspection procedures by the DA and DOH at the first port of entry to determine compliance with national regulations,” Piñol said. He said the trade facilitation group would be headed by a former military man. He said the inspection of all agricultural shipments would be mandatory. The DA chief said the inspection by DA and DOH should take place prior to the assessment for tariff and other charges by the Bureau of Customs. “The BOC and Association of International Shipping Lines shall provide DA and DOH documents such as the inward foreign manifests of arriving vessels to enable the DA and the DOH to identify shipments requiring food safety inspections. Shipments not complying national regulations shall be disposed according to policies established by the DA and DOH,” said Piñol. Piñol said at present, the DA’s inspection was taking place after the Customs’ process. “So we will invoke this provision of the law that we should inspect first. DA will determine first whether the shipment complied with our sanitary regulations,” Piñol said.

Piñol said the order aimed to eliminate smuggling in the country. He also ordered a validation of all permits issued for the importation of meat and poultry products in the wake of the proliferation of recycled permits that he said were being used in the technical smuggling of such products. He said a technical working group was created to assess and handle the issuance of new permits effective upon the issuance of an order. Piñol said he made the move based on a United Nations report on the volume of meat and offals imported by the country over the last few months. He said the DA and the Bureau of Customs were alarmed by reports that companies with import permits issued under the previous administration were caught “recycling” such permits twice or thrice to facilitate smuggling. “We are not saying that we are stopping all importations. What we just want is to clean up the issuance of permits. As long as they are legitimate importations, we will not stop them. We want a uniform imposition of tariff,” Piñol said. Agriculture undersecretary for operations Ariel Cayanan said the agency was able to re-validate more than 2,300 import clearance certificates so far. “If they are legitimate and law-abiding importers, they should welcome this, because this would actually cleanse their ranks,” Piñol said. “We have to do this to protect the interest of government which is being deprived of the appropriate tariffs from smugglers. And most important, the safety of our consumers and the environment. To allay fears of possible spoilage of frozen products, the DA has ordered their release, requiring only an affidavit of undertaking from their importers,” the agriculture chief said.‐wants‐to‐inspect‐agri‐imports.html                

Govt underspent in October as budget deficit decreased posted November 28, 2016 at 08:45 pm by Gabrielle H. Binaday The government registered a budget deficit of P2.3 billion in October after spending dropped below target after rising in the previous months, the Finance Department said Monday. The Bureau of Treasury said the P2.3-billion deficit in October was 91 percent lower than the P27-billion gap posted in the same month in 2015. The October deficit was also 95 percent short of the P50.46-billion target for the month. It brought the 10-month budget deficit to P216 billion, or more than four times the gap recorded year-on-year. Netting out interest payments, the government incurred a P13.70-billion primary surplus, a reversal of the P10.78-billion primary deficit posted in October 2015. Government revenues in October 2016 grew 7 percent to P174.6 billion from P163 billion on year. The figure brought the 10-month collections to P1.8 trillion, up 3 percent on year. Collections of the Bureau of Internal Revenue in October rose 5 percent to P121.9 billion on year. Total BIR collections in the 10-month period mounted to P1.3 trillion, up 9 percent on year. “Inclusion of the tax refund of P0.3 billion will drive the collection for the month to P122.2 billion which is a 6 percent increase over the last year while year to date collection growth is the same,” Treasury said. The Bureau of Customs also sustained its monthly year-on-year growth that started in April with a 3 percent increase in actual collections to P33.4 billion in October. Total Customs collection for the month is net of P0.07 billion tax refund. Year-to-date BOoC revenue has increased 7 percent year-on-year to P321.3 billion Bureau of Treasury collections, meanwhile, declined 13 percent to P4.9 billion. “This was due to lower interest income from NG deposits with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and lower remittance of dividends on shares of stocks from government owned and controlled corporations,” the BTr said. Cumulative total BTr income fell 6 percent on year.‐underspent‐in‐october‐as‐budget‐deficit‐ decreased.html

SSS eyes P1,000 pension increase posted November 28, 2016 at 08:15 pm by Gabrielle H. Binaday State-run Social Security System disclosed a plan to increase the monthly pension of qualified members by P1,000 starting next year. “The Social Security System is attuned to the wishes of legislators for higher pensions in response to the prevailing public sentiment, which we also consider reasonable given the current cost of living. We request legislators to heed our appeal to how to best grant the pension increase without sacrificing the life of the fund,” SSS chairman Amado Valdez said during the Senate deliberation for the pension hike. SSS said it planned to grant a P1,000 across-the-board pension increase in January 2017 before implementing an additional P1,000 in 2022. “Lawmakers appear to be receptive of the proposal considering that it is doable, and will avert passing on the pension burden to taxpayers,” SSS said. “Immediately implementing the full P2,000 pension increase will put in peril the SSS funds. The P1,000 initial pension increase offers a more doable option towards the same goal of an additional P2,000 per month for pensioners,” said Valdez. SSS funds are currently projected to last until 2042 but will deplete in 2025 if the P2,000 ATBP increa is immediately granted in full, he said.‐eyes‐p1‐000‐pension‐increase‐.html                  

Senate passes P3.3T 2017 budget By JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA, TMT on November 29, 2016 Top Stories THE Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading the proposed P3.35 trillion national budget for 2017, bringing Congress closer to its target to have it signed by President Rodrigo Duterte before the end of the year.With 20 affirmative votes and no negative vote, the chamber passed its version of next year’s budget after 10 days of plenary deliberation. The 2017 budget is 11.6 percent higher than the P3.002 trillion national budget this year, of which 40 percent or about P1.345 trillion was earmarked for social services such as education, culture, health, social security, housing, land distribution, among others.The Senate formed a nine-man bicameral conference committee panel that will work with the House of Representatives’ contingent in resolving disagreeing provisions. Sen. Loren Legarda will lead the Senate contingent which is composed of Senate Majority Leader Vicente Tito Sotto 3rd, Senate President pro-tempore Franklin Drilon, Senate minority leader Ralph Recto and Senators Nancy Binay, Sonny Angara, Cynthia Villar, Panfilo Lacson, and Juan Miguel Zubiri. Lump sums Meanwhile, Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Monday threatened to expose the humongous lump sums contained in the proposed 2017 budget if the amendments he introduced on the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways will not be included. “I found some documents showing that such funds are intended for something else but not for its intended purpose,” the senator noted.Among those mentioned by Lacson was the P2.5 billion DPWH appropriation which the agency will use for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). “This is clearly in violation of the ARRM Organic Act,” he said. The amount, he said, is on top of the P8.17 billion that the House of Representatives took out from the ARMM budget and transferred to DPWH.Lacson removed the P2.5 billion from the DPWH and transferred it to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the purchase of two eight-seater helicopters to enhance the anti-crime and anti-drugs campaign of the Philippine National Police (PNP).Lacson also removed P705 million from DPWH intended for the construction of school buildings. He said the Department of Education (DepEd) has a school building program for next year.‐passes‐p3‐3t‐2017‐budget/298999/  

Duterte strong and agile, Palace officials say By CATHERINE TALAVERA, TMT on November 29, 2016 Top Stories Malacanang on Monday denied reports that President Rodrigo Duterte “passed out,” insisting that the chief executive is “in good physical and mental health.” Reports that Duterte collapsed circulated after his scheduled meeting with ranking officials from Bangladesh was cancelled. Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar and Special Presidential Assistant Christopher Go belied reports that the meeting did not push through because of the President’s passed out. “So far negative, walang ganyang storya [there’s no such story],” Andanar told Palace reporters. “We would like to assure our people that the President is in good physical and mental health. He is strong and agile and can stand the responsibilities and demands of the presidency,” he added. In a separate statement, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella explained that Duterte’s meeting with senior Bangladeshi officials at 2:30 p.m. was canceled due to “due to pressing matters that demand the President’s immediate attention.” “At any rate said Bangladeshi officials have already met with various heads of agencies to discuss matters regarding the heist,” Abella said. The Bangladesh officials were to discuss with Duterte the return of the stolen money that was laundered in the Philippines. So far, Bangladesh has recovered $15 million of the funds stolen by hackers from its central bank in February. The Bangladeshi officials were led by the minister of law, justice and parliamentary affairs, attorney general, central bank governor, Finance secretary and a parliamentarian.‐strong‐agile‐palace‐officials‐say/298998/      

Bangko Sentral OKs PNB’s P20-B LTNCDs By KRISTYN NIKA M. LAZO, TMT on November 29, 2016 Companies THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has given the planned P20-billion long-term negotiable certificates of time deposits (LTNCDs) of Philippine National Bank (PNB), an issuance that is envisioned to manage the lender’s debt profile. “We received today, November 28, 2016, a copy of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) approval of the bank’s request for authority to issue LTNCDs in the aggregate amount of up to P20 billion,” PNB said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Monday. In a separate disclosure on July 22, the bank said it plans to issue LTNCDs in one or more tranches “to extend the maturity profile of the bank’s liabilities as part of overall liability management and raise long-term-funds for general corporate purposes.” LTNCDs are time deposits that have longer maturity and are higher yielding than regular deposits. The debt instrument is negotiable and insured with the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. up to a maximum coverage which is currently at P500,000.00 per depositor. Local banks are raising more funds to comply with the stricter capital requirements of the Basel 3 regime and to gear up for heightened competition with the entry of international lenders in the country since the government liberalized the banking industry. Other than PNB, listed China Banking Corp., Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company, and Philippine Savings Bank are also raising fresh funds via LTNCDs to take advantage of low interest rates before the US Federal Reserve raises interest rates in December – which could impact on global yield rates and borrowing costs. Incorporated in 1916, PNB is engaged in commercial banking with a total network of 665 domestic branches, 75 overseas branches and 937 automated teller machines (ATM) as of end2015. The bank has an extensive international footprint across Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America.‐sentral‐oks‐pnbs‐p20‐b‐ltncds/298966/        

NEDA’s Pernia favors review of ‘low’ mining taxes, royalties for LGUs Posted on November 29, 2016 THE National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) wants the government to “revisit” its scheme for taxing miners to bring rates more in line with international practice. “This is a great opportunity to revisit and put forward new calculations for an appropriate tax rate that will be levied on mining companies using the resource rents estimated from the mineral accounts,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia during a forum at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria yesterday. “I think our tax rates on mining operations are rather low compared with other countries,” said Mr. Pernia in an interview with BusinessWorld. He also said he wants the miners to pay royalties to both the national government and local government units (LGUs) as well as provide “certain benefits” to local communities. “There must be a royalty paid to the government and even for the local area where the particular mine is located. There are arrangements so the community will benefit from the mining operations. Royalty to the national government and certain benefits given to the local community,” said Mr. Pernia. The NEDA director-general regretted that a fiscal bill for the mining industry, which was to outline a revenue-sharing scheme, was not passed by the 16th Congress. He was referring to House Bill No. 5367 drafted by the Malacañang-created Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC), which was a revenue-sharing agreement between government and large-scale mining companies. The bill awards a higher share to government “as owner of the minerals.” Asked how the government plans to implement a mining tax policy reform, Mr. Pernia said that the key is to follow international standards. “The idea is for the Philippines to follow what is the best practice in other countries in terms of taxes that are imposed on mining operations so that the government can earn from the revenue of mining operations,” he said. Under the bill, in lieu of the excise tax, 60% of the state’s share will go to the national government, while the local government units (LGUs) hosting the mining operations will get a share of 40%.

If the contract area is located on ancestral land, royalties for the indigenous cultural communities (ICCs) will be deducted, with the balance shared by the national and local governments at 60% and 40% respectively. Currently, LGUs are supposed to be given a 40% share from the taxes paid, which is then divided into a 45% share for the host city or municipality, 35% share for the barangays, and 20% share for the rest of the province. Under Republic Act No. 7942, or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, the government is entitled to a 50% share in the profits of foreign miners operating in the Philippines under Financial or Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAA) as well as a 2% excise tax on the actual market value of output under Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA) with local companies. The revenue-sharing bill for the mining industry has been keenly anticipated since the government issued Executive Order 79, a moratorium on applications for new mineral agreements. It amounted to a nationwide ban on mining permit grants in 2011 pending the passage of the revenue-sharing bill that would reopen the industry to new projects. “The mining sector has been plagued by various issues and challenges for decades. These include the proliferation of illegal small-scale mining activities that adopt destructive mining practices and standards, the limited number of processing plants to create added value to our mineral products, and the lack of an efficient revenue collection and distribution that will ensure the equitable and timely distribution of the mining income to legitimate beneficiaries,” said Mr. Pernia during his speech. “We in NEDA believe that it is necessary to implement further policy reforms to enable the mining sector realize its full potential and increase its role in nation building,” he said. -- Danica M. Uy‐pernia‐ favors‐review‐of‐&145low&8217‐mining‐taxes‐royalties‐for‐lgus&id=137022           

Drop in gov’t spending trims deficit Posted on November 29, 2016 THE GOVERNMENT’s budget balance remained in deficit in October but plunged from a year ago due to a drop in spending and a recovery in revenue collections, according to preliminary Treasury data that also showed that monthly and year-to-date programs were missed. October saw a P2.345-billion shortfall, barely a 10th of the P27.022-billion year-ago deficit, much narrower than September’s P75.327-billion gap and falling 95% short of a P50.46-billion cap programmed that month. Revenue collections totaled some P174.642 billion in October, 7% more than the past year’s P163.015 billion, though 20% short of a P217.994-billion target. Still, this marked the third straight month of rising tax collections. The Bureau of Internal Revenue, the biggest tax collector, raked in P121.893 billion or 5% more than P115.761 billion the year prior, while the Customs bureau raised its take 3% to P33.365 billion from P32.49 billion. On the other hand, government spending fell 7% to P176.987 billion from P190.037 billion even as payments for local debt doubled in that period. Disbursements fell 34% short of a P268.454billion target that month. State spending surged by 30% in September from the prior year due to a P20.475-billion onetime payment to settle outstanding dues to the Philippine International Airport Terminals Co., Inc. for a botched project involving the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, months after the Supreme Court denied the government’s petition to reduce its payments to the private contractor. October brought the 10-month tally to a P216.048-billion deficit, more than four times the P52.574 billion seen in 2015’s comparable period but 12% short of a P246.576-billion program. Total revenues hit P1.821 trillion at end-October, up by 3% from a year ago but 17% lower than the P2.195-trillion goal. Disbursements jumped 12% to P2.037 trillion, but was 17% short of the P2.441-trillion program. Minus the one-time transfer of P62.5 billion in coconut levy assets in May 2015, year-to-date revenues grew by 7% annually, the statement read. Sought for comment, an analyst attributed the spending fall to base effects following a surge in disbursements a year ago. “This may have been due to base effects. October 2015 may have been an unusually strong month on outlays owing to last year’s APEC event,” said Emilio S. Neri, Jr., lead economist at the Bank of the Philippine Islands.

The Philippines hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in 2015, which culminated in a week-long summit of world leaders in Manila between Nov. 12-19 last year. The economist believes the government can still catch up with its spending program, saying: “Yes, there is ample room to spend faster in the remaining months of 2016.” “We expect more construction activity both for government agencies and their private-sector contractors,” Mr. Neri said. “Most of these are pipelined infrastructure programs approved during the previous administration but are probably being delivered faster due to the simultaneity of implementation and under a round-the-clock (24/7) work schedule.” Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno earlier announced that the Duterte administration has hiked the budget deficit cap to 2.7% of gross domestic product (GDP) this year or as much as P388.87 billion compared to the 2% ceiling observed by the Aquino administration. With its latest fiscal performance, the government must incur a P172.822-billion deficit for the last two months of the year in order to hit its program. In announcing higher spending targets, Mr. Diokno said the new government intends to spend aggressively on infrastructure and social services over the next six years, which in turn are seen to spur faster economic growth while trimming the ranks of the country’s poor. The government expects GDP growth clock 6-7% this year, with the nine-month pace already averaging 7%. -- Melissa Luz T. Lopez‐in‐govt‐spending‐ trims‐deficit&id=137038                 

Approved 2017 budget ‘pork prone’ — watchdogs Written by Gerry Baldo and Angie M. Rosales Tuesday, 29 November 2016 00:00

The Senate has approved on third and final reading the proposed P3.35-trillion national budget for 2017, which was certified as urgent by Malacañang. During yesterday’s plenary session, House Bill 3408 or the 2017 General Appropriations Bill, passed the final reading with all 20 senators present voting in the affirmative. Following the approval, a nine-member upper chamber panel was formed to meet with the House of Representatives counterpart in a bicameral conference. The House passed its final version of the national budget, an 11.6-percent increase from the P3.002-trillion allocation for 2016, last month. But the Social Watch Philippines (SWP) and Scrap Pork Network (SPN) claimed that the budget measure was “pork prone” as “lump sums and other contestable appropriations are still embedded in it.” The 2017 allocation is still far from being the budget for real change that “we expect from this administration,” SWP co-convenor Prof. Marivic Raquiza yesterday said. According to SWP, it found more than P930 billion in automatic appropriations out of the P3.35trillion budget. The Special Purpose Funds (SPFs) amount to P484.03 billion and the Unprogrammed Funds (UFs) total P67.5 billion. “These leave only 57 percent or P1.948 billion of agency budgets open to public discussion because automatic appropriations, unprogrammed funds and SPFs not usually debated in great detail,” SWP fellow Prof. Jocelyn Cuaresma explained. Some lawmakers revealed that they were asked to list projects for their respective congressional districts in the amount of P80 million each. They admitted that the amount is P10 million higher than the “pork barrel” during the previous

Congresses when projects are identified after the passage of the budget. But now they said the projects are identified even before the budget is passed. “It is now imbedded in the budget,” the lawmakers added. SPN campaigner Peachy Tan noted that lump sums are open to abuse since these are largely opaque and not subject to accountability. Moreover, they lack the details and the specific work plans as in the budget proposals of regular agencies. “Once these are approved, these are vulnerable to reductions, transfers and ‘adjustments,’” she added. “The pork barrel issue may still be alive despite the Supreme Court (SC) ruling on the unconstitutionality of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel,” stressed SWP and SDPN. Earlier, the Department of Budget and Management announced it would allow legislators to propose programs, activities and projects (PAPs) for their respective constituents, which many anti-pork groups assailed. “The DBM’s announcement, in essence, may resurrect the practice of pork barrel politics. We further question how the legislators can examine the budget submitted by the executive from an impartial and disinterested perspective, when their pet projects are embedded in the agency budgets,” the groups stressed. They warned that this may constitute conflict of interest. SWP and SPN called on citizens to be vigilant during the implementation of local projects identified by legislators for inclusion in the national budget during the preparation and legislation phases. “We recognize the legislative’s power of the purse, but the insistence of some lawmakers to identify the beneficiaries for government programs is an indication that the pork barrel system is alive even as post-enactment intervention was rendered unconstitutional by the SC,” they noted. It is widely reported that the agencies from which the PAPs will be drawn from are the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Labor and Employment, Technology Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Public Works and Highways and the Commission on Higher Education. Bringing up the issue on DAP-like budget transfers, Cuaresma expressed concern over the return of the erroneous definition on savings, as stipulated in General Provisions, Section 59, paragraphs (a), (b), and (d) of the Third Reading version of the 2017 GAB. In paragraphs (a) and (b), unobligated allotments may be taken away from the agency and be declared as savings at any time of the year while in paragraph (d), “savings” may be determined even though a PAP has yet to be implemented. “Before we know it, we may see the revival of the Disbursement Acceleration Program legitimized in the national budget,” she noted.‐2017‐budget‐pork‐prone‐watchdogs      

Aid to SMEs, human capital, roads top gov’t priorities Writen by Ed Velasco Tuesday, 29 November 2016 00:00 President Duterte will give his very best to improve the infrastructure, invest heavily on human capital, modernize the agriculture sector and support the small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, the leader of the Duterte economic team, said Duterte will launch massive development program to prove he is serving the entire Philippine population and not just the chosen few. “Infrastructure development, investment in human capital, agricultural modernization and support for SMEs will be the priorities of the Duterte presidency,” Diokno told the Daily Tribune in an interview. Diokno said before that the six years of neglect to the infrastructure sector took heavy toll on the economy, making it a logger head among its neighboring countries in Southeast Asia. Diokno earlier said that if a country has efficient infrastructure, goods and services can move freely. It will lead to more positive development like entry of investors and growth of tourism, he added. Among the public infrastructure the Philippines badly needs are more roads and improvement of air traffic at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport by bringing at least half of the flights to other airports, most notably the Clark International Airport. Flight delays at NAIA 1, 2, 3 and 4 usually take an average of two hours. It also takes almost an hour before passengers are allowed to disembark because the tarmac is congested. “Infrastructure to make up for past neglect, to ease congestion costs, to link lagging regions to leading regions and to facilitate movement of goods and services,” Diokno, who occupied the same position 18 years ago, said. He said the investment in human capital aims to create much needed quality jobs in the country so that the major portion of the population, people aged 30 and below, will be able to land a job and need not to work overseas to leave their family. “Investment in people to develop our youth into an agile, productive and healthy workforce. The last two areas to create a lot of decent jobs, and also to reduce poverty,” he added.‐to‐smes‐human‐capital‐roads‐top‐gov‐t‐priorities        

Mga kabit ibabawal sa gobyerno By Bernard Taguinod November 29, 2016 Ipinoporma na ng liderato ng Mababang Kapulungan ng Kongreso ang pag-amyenda sa nepotism law upang ipagbawal na sa mga opisyales ng gobyerno na iempleyo ang kanilang mga kabit. Ito ang nabatid kay House majority leader Rodolfo Fariñas na isa sa mga panukalang nabuo aniya sa imbestigasyon ng Kamara sa paglaganap ng ilegal na droga sa New Bilibid Prison (NBP). “The Speaker and I, am sure a lot member of the House will join, will file an amendment of Nepotism law,” ayon kay Fariñas na patunay umano na ang isinagawang pagdinig ng mga ito ay “in aid of legislation” at hindi “in aid of prosecution o persecusion”. Ayon sa mambabatas, kasalukuyang batas ukol sa nepotismo, ang tanging ipinagbabawal aniya na iempleyo ng isang government official ay asawa, anak at mga kaanak na hanggang “fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity”. “Pag kalaguyo hindi kasama sa law. So kailangan bawal na rin, maski kabit hindi mo na rin puwedeng i-employ,” ani Fariñas.


2016 11 29 quedancor daily news monitor  
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