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Kapatid in action GO NEGOSYO By Joey Concepcion (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 1, 2016 ‐ 12:00am   0  1 googleplus0  0  

The Philippines is a gold mine for agriculture. We are definitely blessed with all the resources we can use to our advantage. As I have previously shared we are working with Sec. Manny Piñol for a project we are launching soon. But aside from that, through our Kapatid, Angat Lahat program, we are helping micro agri-entrepreneurs and farmers reach sustainability. Our farmers are our source of daily supply of food, but more often that not they are also the ones who suffer the most. Sec. Manny Piñol recently told me about the issues concerning our onion and garlic farmers. Let me share with you his personal Facebook post:

Sec. Manny Piñol during the meeting last September.

Big supermarkets to buy direct from country’s onion farmers By Manny Piñol Five of the country’s biggest supermarket chains yesterday committed to buy direct from onion and garlic farmers in what could be the start of the struggle to dismantle cartels controlling these important commodities in the country. SM, Rustan’s, Mindanao-based NCCC Mall, ShopWise and SaveMore will now source their garlic and onion supplies from Filipino farmers.

All that was needed was one overseas call which I made to Go Negosyo head Joey Concepcion who has been appointed by President Rody Duterte as presidential adviser on entrepreneurship. Yesterday afternoon, while I was presiding over the SOCKSARGEN Agricultural Development Program board in Kidapawan City, I called up Concepcion to seek his help in addressing the problems of the country’s onion farmers. Concepcion, who is currently in Paris, promised to immediately act on the problem and obviously made calls to his contacts in the Philippines. That was what started the ball rolling. Before 6 p.m. yesterday, Ginggay Hontiveros, Concepcion’s focal person for the Go Negosyo Program, sent me a message saying Tessie Sy Coson of SM, Irwin Lee of Rustan’s (through Nonoy Colayco), Jojo Tagbo of SM SaveMore, Leah Lee of SM Supermarket, and ShopWise have responded and committed to buy their onion and garlic supply direct from the farmers. On my own, I also sent a text message to Riolinda Lim, vice president of NCCC Mall, a chain of about 20 supermarkets in Mindanao who said that brothers Javey and Lafayette Lim, whose family owns NCCC, have pledged to buy onion and garlic direct from the farmers. Actually, I already had a previous meeting with the Lim brothers in Davao City about two weeks ago when I was working on the idea of giving fruit farmers direct access to supermarkets. With this development, all that is needed now is for the Dept. of Agriculture to work out a system with which the onion farmers of the country, especially those from Bongabon, Nueva Ecija, will be able to deliver their produce to the supermarket chains. The first thing that onion farmers need would be working capital to buy the produce of their members to be delivered to the supermarket chains. The farmers need revolving capital because the supermarkets have a payment system which would not allow direct payment upon delivery. The second issue that I would have to look into would be the storage facilities for the onions and garlic, and perhaps delivery trucks so they produce could be brought directly to the NCCC malls in Mindanao. Last night, I instructed Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo to make arrangements with Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) head Jocelyn Badiola to prepare a substantial loan package for the country’s onion and garlic farmers. Next week, I will personally meet with SM’s Tessie Sy Coson and Rustan’s Nonoy Colayco and then make a trip to Bongabon, Nueva Ecija to talk to the onion farmers.

With this development, I see the start of the liberation of the country’s onion and garlic farmers from the control of cartels who have monopolised the industry for ages now. #Changeishere! #PresRodyCares! #DuterteDelivers! #FreeTheFarmers! #StopSmugglingNow! *End of post* In a follow up post, Sec. Piñol mentioned that Jollibee, led by Tony Tan Caktiong, Shakey’s, Max’s Group of Robert Trota, and Robinson’s Supermarket will get their onion and garlic requirements from our farmers. Chris Po of Century Pacific, Jerome Ong of CDO Foodsphere, Lucio Co of Puregold and Frank Gaisano of Metro Gaisano are also willing to support this mission. Over the past 12 years, Go Negosyo has created a network of entrepreneurs and its number have grown tremendously. And now, many have joined the Kapatid program and are keen in making their business more inclusive. Go Negosyo’s communication is enhanced since we use Viber and other forms of social media. An example of which is the call to action of Sec. Pinol. It took only two hours for a great number of entrepreneurs to respond to his call for support for the farmers. We are now linked with DTI and DA. Hopefully, this will bring about a stronger public-private effort towards inclusive growth. With a grateful heart, Sec. Piñol posted this on our Viber group: “Thanks to all. I will meet with the onion farmers to check what they need to be able to consolidate their products and engage in a supply agreement with you. Offhand, I am looking at providing them with working capital and transport equipment. What you are doing now is historic as this marks the start of the liberation of our farmers from the control of middlemen. God is great. May God bless you all.” ***

Management Man of the Year 2016 Tessie Sy Coson. We would like to congratulate Go Negosyo supporter and ASEAN Business Advisory Council member Tessie Sy Coson for being recognized by Management Association of the Philippines as the “Management Man of the Year 2016.” Tessie is the vice chairperson of the SM Investments

Corp.and has led the company’s retail, banking, property development and other business ventures to its success today. The “M.A.P. Management Man of the Year” is said to be a “prestigious award that MAP bestows on individuals in the business community or government for attaining unquestioned distinction in the practice of management and for contributing to the country’s progress.”

DA told to suspend new import rules By Jasper Y. Arcalas November 30, 2016 MEAT processors urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to put on hold the implementation of its new import rules, as delays in the release of permits could hike the price of canned goods. At the very least, the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (Pampi) said the DA should prioritize its members in the “revalidation” process to prevent delays in the release of import permits. Pampi Executive Director Francisco J. Buencamino said importers belonging to their group are now incurring losses, as their shipments have been held up in ports due to the delay in the release of new import permits. “Suspend [Memorandum Circular 5, Series of 2016] or get a clearance for Pampi members who have no record of violations to be accommodated in the super-green lane, so there would be less inspection,” Buencamino told reporters in an interview on Tuesday. Importers allowed access to the super-green lane by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) will get their customs clearance faster, and are exempt from document and physical examination of regular importation andpreclearance process availability. “Every container that is detained and held back, we incur about P4,500 per day per container for plug-in for refrigeration. But as for the total cost, we cannot say until we complete all of this updating,” he added. Buencamino said the additional costs incurred by importers due to delays in the delivery of raw materials to factories are usually passed on to Filipino consumers. “With every delay, our additional costs increase when it [imported meat products] should have been released already and processed,” Buencamino said. However, Pampi said it could not yet quantify the amount that consumers could shoulder due to the additional costs incurred by manufacturers. Buencamino met with Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol on Tuesday to discuss the new import rules and Pampi’s proposal. Focus on CBWs The Meat Importers and Traders Association (Mita) urged the DA to focus on customs bonded warehouses (CBWs) and undocumented importers rather than “highly regulated” and “compliant” ones if the government wants to stop smuggling.

In a letter sent to Piñol, Mita President Jesus C. Cham said smuggling occurs in the “illegal, opaque undocumented and noncompliant sectors” and possible leakages from the CBWs. “Hence, after years of barking up the wrong tree, it is high time for the DA to shift its focus away from the legal, formal, documented and compliant sector and look instead at CBWs and undocumented importers,” Cham said in the letter dated November 28, a copy of which was sent to reporters on Tuesday. “Too much time spent, looking over the shoulder of our sector is draining the dynamism and resources of all stakeholders, including the department itself,” he added. Cham said for every day that the “revalidation” process of importation permits is delayed, importers like them incur losses that would be passed on the consumers. “Every additional day a reefer stays at port costs the importer P10,000, multiplied thousands of times over, which will ultimately be passed on to the consumer. Nonissuances of new clearances mean lost business opportunities,” he said. Cham said meat products imported by Mita members are “heavily regulated and under strict control and supervision.” “The importer has already been accredited after undergoing stringent procedures by the DA and the BOC, which involves scrutiny of the importer’s credentials with the SEC [Securities Exchange Commission], the BIR [Bureau of Internal Revenue], the DTI [Department of Trade and Industry] and local governments,” he said. “The importer has secured [an import clearance] through an electronic, noncontact system duly established by the DA, thereby precluding possibility of graft,” Cham added. He said one of the documents required for quarantine clearance at the port of entry is the International Health Certificate (IHC), which is issued by a competent authority of the exporting government. “IHC indicates that quantity and description of items that are loaded in a particular container and, hence, is equivalent to a pre-inspection certificate issued by the government of the exporting country,” Cham said. “IHC is an inviolable document which cannot be altered, changed or revised, thereby precluding the possibility of misdeclaration by the importer,” he added. Cham also said importers pay the corresponding import duties or tariff based on the imposed reference price of the DA or the BOC. He added that the containers of imported products are sealed by the Bureau of Animal Industry at the port of entry and transported to an accredited cold-storage warehouse, where only an

inspector of the National Meat Inspection Service is allowed to break the seal and supervise the unloading. MC 5 The DA released on November 22 Memorandum Circular (MC) 5, which authorized the review of the validity of all sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances to curb smuggling, according to Piñol. MC 5 also ordered the creation of a group that would inspect all inbound shipments of agricultural goods and food before the BOC evaluates the tariffs for these shipments. Dubbed as the Agriculture and Fisheries Trade Facilitation Unit (AFTFU), it was created by the DA on Monday. Piñol assured consumers on Tuesday that the price and upply of holiday goods will be stable despite the more stringent trade measures the DA implemented recently. He also said importers who have inbound shipments of chilled or frozen products are being prioritized to avoid spoilage. However, Buencamino said the revalidation process of import permits took more than 24 hours, contrary to what Piñol promised earlier that the process would take less than a day. “That’s why we are forced to replug our shipments,” he said. Buencamino said holiday goods could become more expensive if the DA would drag its foot in completing the revalidation of the permits issued to legitimate importers.

As higher prices loom: Meat importers want Customs express lane By Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 1, 2016 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines – The country’s largest group of meat processing companies has called on the Department of Agriculture to create a special express lane to speed up the release of meat imports following the decision of the DA to cancel all meat import permits. “We are deemed legitimate processors and we would like to be included in a super green lane processing in the Customs. In more than 40 years of our operations, the group has not violated anything,” Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) executive director Francisco Buencamino said. The group warned that a delay in the release of meat imports may raise the prices of meat products such as ham during the holidays. Buencamino said approximately P4,500 per container per day is charged to importers for extended plug-ins and stay at the Customs. “We just don’t know how much of the cost will be passed on. At the moment, we can still handle absorbing the cost and other adjustments. But there is already actual cost of replugging, storage, shipping, and delayed deliveries,” Buencamino said. Likewise, the Meat Importers and Traders Association Inc. (MITA) said the revalidation of clearances and non-issuance of new clearances is wreaking havoc on the sector and the subsectors it serves. “Non-issuance mean lost business opportunities, as well as the besmirched reputation of our country, its government agencies and businessmen. The Philippine economy will ultimately pay in the form of reduced GDP,” MITA president Jesus Cham said. “Don’t tell us that there’s no cost to it because there is. There is an added cost when they should have been released already and converted to canned products. Everyday there is an added cost and we don’t know how long this is going to happen,” Buencamino said. Meanwhile, Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon assured meat importers the agency would continue to examine and release imported meat products despite the DA’s decision. “We will not hesitate to comply with orders, and we will not contradict other regulatory agencies. But for this one, we have to clarify with them because no memo has reached my office yet. For now, we will continue with the status quo,” he said. Faeldon also assured there would be no port congestion and undue delay in operations and the supply and demand for meat would not be compromised.

Despite ‘miracle rice,’ farmers still poor Lower gov’t spending on rice production, corruption and exploitation by traders make life miserable for farmers By: Kimmy Baraoidan - Correspondent / @KBaraoidanINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:40 AM December 01, 2016

A farmer uses a mechanical transplanter on a demonstration plot at the International Rice Research Institute in Laguna province. —CHRIS QUINTANA/CONTRIBUTOR LOS BAÑOS, LAGUNA—In the 1960s, rice breeder Peter Jennings developed a rice variety that jumpstarted the “green revolution” in Asia. A cross between a tall, vigorous variety from Indonesia, called Peta, and a dwarf variety from Taiwan, called Dee-geo-woo-gen, the resulting crop was called the “miracle rice.” The IR8 is the world’s first high-yielding rice variety released from the International Rice Research Institute (Irri) in Los Baños town in Laguna province. The semi-dwarf rice variety was developed specifically to rescue Asia from famine during the 1960s and 1970s. Fifty years after the development of IR8, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol is still bothered by the question: Why are farmers poor? Piñol, who described himself as a farmer, said he set out on a nationwide tour and consultation, called “Biyaheng Bukid,” to assess the state of Philippine agriculture and learn about the living conditions of farmers. Piñol, during a program on Tuesday at Irri to mark the 50th year of IR8, blamed the reliance on imports and lower spending on local rice production, corruption and exploitation by traders and middlemen. He said the impact of climate change would hurt the Philippines if the country relies heavily on rice importation. If rice-producing countries in Asia are hit by the adverse effects of climate change at the same time, “we will have nowhere to import rice from.”

Agriculture professor Jose Hernandez of the University of the Philippines Los Baños said rice importation could make rice farmers poorer. Hernandez said the local market will be flooded with cheap rice due to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations integration and the Department of Finance’s proposal to remove the quantitative restrictions on rice. This, Hernandez said, will force local farmers to lower their prices. “The consumers will benefit [from lowered prices], but farmers will not profit,” he said. Piñol also said corruption, citing officials who think of making money out of government transactions, as another roadblock in improving agriculture. “When people in government start thinking that way, then everything is messed up because programs will be implemented not because these lift people from poverty but because these will make money for the [project] proponent,” he said. Farmers have also been exploited by traders and middlemen, he said. This problem can only be solved by implementing institutional reforms to address the lack of drying and postharvest facilities, he added. “This is a major problem that prevents [farmers] from taking a stronger stand against manipulation of traders and middlemen,” Piñol said. Other problems hindering the rice industry’s growth were “hazy” statistics in the rice industry, irrigation, lack of storage facilities and farmers who refused to embrace modern ways in agriculture. Erlinda Generalla, 66, a farmer from Bay town, acknowledged Piñol’s observations but said people do not understand their situation. Generalla said even if they wanted to try out new farming technology or techniques, they cannot risk losing money. “If we do, we would be forced to pawn our farms,” she said. Piñol said a Department of Agriculture program in Samar province is ongoing to educate farmers on the new ways of farming.

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Rody eyes drugstores for indigents By Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 1, 2016 - 12:00am

President Duterte wants to use the P5 billion he got from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) for the President’s Social Fund to build community drugstores catering to the poor. AP/Aaron Favila, File MANILA, Philippines – President Duterte wants to use the P5 billion he got from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) for the President’s Social Fund to build community drugstores catering to the poor. Pagcor assistant vice president for community relations and services Arnell Ignacio said Duterte had told them that he wanted to revive the Botika ng Bayan (community pharmacy) program launched during the time of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. “When we turned over the P5 billion, his original plan is for the resurrection of the Botika ng Bayan,” Ignacio said in a press briefing in Malacañang yesterday. “The President wants patients with prescription to be given free medicine.” Pagcor chair Andrea Domingo handed over to Duterte the P5 billion for his social fund in Malacañang last Monday. Last Tuesday, Duterte said he might use the Pagcor contribution to build another drug rehabilitation center in the Visayas. Duterte led the inauguration last Tuesday of a so-called mega drug rehabilitation facility that can accommodate 10,000 patients in Nueva Ecija. “I’d like to make it clear that each time we provide funds, we cannot say how it would be used. It’s the direction of the President. So if he plans to use it for Botika ng Bayan or rehabilitation center, he will be the one to decide,” Ignacio said.

Ignacio said Pagcor also provides the Dangerous Drugs Board P5 million every month to support its programs. He added the gaming regulator also allotted P11 million for areas hit by Typhoon Lawin and P5 million each to victims of the Davao City blast and to Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz. In the same briefing, Ignacio, a comedian and television host, took the chance to defend himself against his critics, who say he is not qualified for his post. “I am from showbiz. I get that. I get to be bashed everyday,” he said. “And it’s really nothing new to me. I am used to being maligned or criticized. I do not mind them.” Ignacio said being part of the change the Duterte administration wants to institute is more important than his critics. “So far I think we are doing a very good job in Pagcor,” he said.‐eyes‐drugstores‐indigents                              

LPG prices rolled back By Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 1, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines – Consumers on Thursday will see lower liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) prices, reflecting lower contract prices in December. In an advisory, Petron Corp. said the firm will roll back Gasul and Fiesta Gas prices by 50 centavos per kilogram effective 12:01 a.m. today. At the same time, Petron said it would likewise decrease Xtend AutoLPG price by 28 centavos per liter. “These reflect international LPG contract prices for the month of December,” the oil firm said. In another text advisory, Isla LPG Corp. said Solane-branded LPG prices will be reduced by 46 centavos per kilogram effective 6 a.m. Other LPG retailers have yet to announce their respective price cuts. Prior to the price rollback, an 11-kilogram cylinder was priced from P430 to P661, data from the Department of Energy showed. Last February, oil firms declared a rollback of as much as P3.40 per kilo in LPG prices. The cut is equal to a P37.40 reduction in the price of the company’s 11-kilogram tank.‐prices‐rolled‐back                  

Not 300, but 5,000 trees to be cut for road By: Nestor P. Burgos Jr. - @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:00 AM December 01, 2016

Work continues to cut trees along a section of the highway in Pototan town in Iloilo for a roadwidening project. —PHOTO FROM POTOTAN FACEBOOK PAGE ILOILO CITY—More than 5,000 trees, not only 300 as earlier declared by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), would be cut down to widen the two-lane national highway that links Iloilo province to the provinces of Aklan and Capiz. Mayor Tomas Peñaflorida of Pototan town in Iloilo said the tree cutting along the 13-kilometer stretch of the national road in his town is covered by a permit that the DENR in Western Visayas region issued to the Department of Public Works and Highways. (DPWH) He said the project would widen the two-lane national highway into four lanes, affecting 5,123 mature mahogany trees. ADVERTISEMENT The road section where the trees would be cut stretches from the town’s boundary with Zarraga town on one end and Dingle town on the opposite end. Saddened

“We are saddened by the loss of our trees,” Peñaflorida told the Inquirer. “But we have to give way to a project that will benefit the whole province and those passing our town.” He said the permit also required the DPWH to replant 100 trees for each tree cut, in designated areas along the highway. Pototan residents earlier expressed dismay over the cutting of the trees, many of which are between 20 and 25 years old. The trees, which used to line the stretch of national highway from Iloilo to Capiz and Aklan, provided shade to motorists, with the verdant scenery offering respite to travelers. People used to post on its trunks poems about trees and nature. Peñaflorida said more trees will have to be felled for the road widening project that will cover the 16-km stretch from the town proper. Consultation Jim Sampulna, DENR regional executive director, said he received additional requests for permits to cut trees from the towns of Dueñas and Dingle for the project. But he said the DENR would only issue such permits if local governments can prove the plan went through public consultations and dialogues. He said he issued the permit to cut trees in Pototan because he was convinced by its importance. “This is for the benefit of all, especially those using the road,” Sampulna said. Peñaflorida said the two-lane road linking Pototan and Iloilo City needed to be widened to avoid vehicular accidents. The volume of vehicles traversing this stretch has increased, he said. The trees cut will be stored at the DENR depot so these can be used by the Department of Social Welfare and Development for its projects. Peñaflorida said he would ask the DENR to auction off a portion of the cut trees and distribute the proceeds to villages where the trees were felled to fund barangay projects.

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Neda report shows ‘negligible’ contribution of mining to GDP By Cai Ordinario November 30, 2016 MINING and quarrying contributed less than a percent of the country’s GDP between 2000 and 2015, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda). Based on the Mineral Asset Accounts of the Philippines, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said the mining sector only contributed 0.7 percent of GDP and 5.6 percent of total exports. Pernia added the sector has only been able to generate an average of 236,400 jobs annually between 2011 and 2015. “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,” Pernia said. One of the ways to maximize the sector, he added, will begin with the release of the Philippines Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (Phil-WAVES) data next year. Phil-WAVES, which began in 2013, aims to create macroeconomic indicators and develop the national accounts and ecosystem accounts. This will assist in evidence-based decision-making. Pernia said this will help develop sound and effective policies, especially in the environmental sector. “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,” he said. Earlier, Filipino taxpayers extended a total of P39.74 billion worth of tax perks to businesses in 2013, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). Based on the preliminary results of the PSA’s 2013 Annual Survey of Philippine Business and Industry, this was a 5.8-percent decline, from P42.19 billion in 2010.

The highest subsidy was extended to electricity, gas, steam and air-conditioning supply firms at P9.16 billion, or 23 percent of the total. This was followed by professional, scientific and technical activities, which received the secondbiggest amount of subsidy of 21.3 percent, or P8.45 billion of the total. Subsidies provided to financial and insurance activities and agriculture, forestry and fishing were 16 percent to P6.38 billion and 15.8 percent to P6.29 billion, respectively. The subsidies extended to agriculture posted the largest increase of P5.68 billion, from P619.3 million in 2010.‐report‐shows‐negligible‐contribution‐of‐mining‐to‐gdp/                                    

Pagcor revives ‘Botika ng Bayan’ By David Cagahastian November 30, 2016 THE Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) announced on Wednesday the revival of the “Botika ng Bayan” project that will provide free medicine to poor patients in government hospitals. In a news conference in Malacañang, Pagcor Community Relations Head Arnell Ignacio said the P5 billion recently remitted by Pagcor to the national treasury will initially fund the revival of the project started during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Ignacio said President Duterte’s original plan with the P5-billion Pagcor remittance was the revival of the Botika ng Bayan project. “When we turned over the P5 billion, his original plan is for the resurrection of the Botika ng Bayan. That’s because the President wanted that when a patient is given a prescription, he would be able to get it for free,” Ignacio said. “The thrust of the President is to revive the Botika ng Bayan because it’s painful for him to see that a patient brings with him the prescription but cannot afford to buy the medicines, because that would seem to be a mere paper cure—that the paper will cure you—which will never happen,” he said. During his inaugural speech, Duterte said Pagcor’s estimated revenues ranging from P30 billion to P35 billion per year will be allocated for government hospitals to help poor patients with their medical needs. Ignacio said the revival of Botika ng Bayan branches will be throughout the country, but the actual locations for these branches have yet to be determined. He said Pagcor had initially allocated funds with the Philippine General Hospital, the National Kidney Institute and the Philippine Heart Center for the purchase of medicines to be given for free until the actual Botika ng Bayan branches have been established.‐revives‐botika‐ng‐bayan/       

‘Lifting of rice QR should also benefit farmers’ By Cai Ordinario November 30, 2016

AS the lifting of the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice is expected to boost government revenues, the state-owned think tank urged the Duterte administration to set aside P18 billion a year to compensate farmers. ‘In a policy note, titled Compensatory payment scheme for rice farmers after tarification, Philippine Institute for Development Studies (Pids) senior researcher Roehlano M. Briones and research analyst Lovely Ann C. Tolin said the removal of the rice QR is expected to boost government revenues due to more rice imports. At a tariff rate of 35 percent, the government is expected to generate P27 billion to P28 billion in duties from rice imports, which could reach as much as 2.26 million metric tons (MMT) a year.

“Earmarking the rice-tariff revenue to pay for the compensation scheme is a feasible funding strategy. Residual money from the tariff revenues could be used for other product-enhancement measures for rice farmers,” the authors said. The influx of rice imports, the study stated, will lower paddy rice prices by P4.56 and P6.97 per kilogram at the farm gate and retail level, respectively. The impact on farmers’ incomes of the removal of the QR, the researchers said, should compel the government to compensate them. Farmers cultivating 2 hectares of irrigated land should receive around P19,000 a year, according to the study. “This is greater than transfer per household from the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program, which is P15,000 for three children. Note that compensatory payments can be received simultaneously with the CCT,” the researchers said. The researchers said the government can adopt a payment compensation scheme. Between 2017 to 2022, this can be done using the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture. Farmers or their heirs can receive compensation which is computed using the National Food Authority’s (NFA) support price of P17 per kg and the cost of production in 2012. The compensatory payment, the study stated, can be divided by the area harvested. This will be distributed per cropping season or twice a year. “Tarification of the Philippine rice sector by 2017 is inevitable. Since our analysis suggests massive fall in domestic prices, it is imperative to provide farmers a measure for income support,” the study read. In October the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said the Philippines could impose a tariff of as much as 50 percent once the rice-import quota is removed in July 2017. A Neda official told the BusinessMirror that the opening tariff that it will impose will be between 40 percent and 50 percent for all imported rice that will enter the country. A tariff rate of 50 percent is within the bound rate set by the World Trade Organization (WTO). This is, however, higher than the 35-percent inbound tariff imposed on rice shipments from Southeast Asian countries under the Asean Free Trade Agreement. Economists said, however, that the Philippines may be allowed to impose a much higher tariff if it could justify the need to do so, as in the case of Japan. When Japan converted its QR on rice to a tariff, Tokyo set an opening tariff of 400 percent.‐of‐rice‐qr‐should‐also‐benefit‐farmers/

Negros Occidental coffee producers urged to capitalize on branding By Philippines News Agency November 30, 2016 BACOLOD CITY—The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is urging coffee producers and processors in Negros Occidental to capitalize on branding to strongly position the product in the market. DTI-Negros Occidental Trade and Industry Development specialist Rachelle Nufable, at the sidelines of the training on branding held at the Negros First Negosyo Center here on Tuesday, said that branding is an important marketing tool that every enterprise should invest in. Despite the premium or higher market cost, having brands or trademarks is an advantage as buyers would still opt for products with “recall” or those known to them. “Brand also speaks for traceability, thus, it also carries the place of origin of the products,” she said, adding that with coffee, for instance, the province could actually have a brand like those of other third wave or specialty coffee in Sagada, Kalinga and Benguet, among others. The Negros Occidental Coffee Association had earlier said they target to produce the “Negros Coffee,” a collective brand of coffee for the province by next year. The training on branding is one of the initiatives of the DTI to prepare local producers and processors in coming up with the said Negros Coffee brand. “This is purposely for our coffee sector, because we wanted them to develop a brand of coffee for Negros,” Nufable said. During the training attended by about 30 coffee growers and processors in the province, representatives of the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) taught them the importance and advantages of branding. IPO, an attached agency of the DTI, also presented to the participants the requirements and procedures on registering a brand. Aside from collective brand or trademark registration, DTINegros Occidental is also pushing for individual brands, not only for coffee but also for other sectors. The agency, however, reminded farmers and processors to prioritize product quality alongside having a good brand.‐occidental‐coffee‐producers‐urged‐to‐capitalize‐on‐ branding/ 

San Miguel Corp. backs 2016 Binhi Awards By Associated Press November 30, 2016 SAN Miguel Corp. (SMC) has partnered again with the PhiIippine Agricultural Journalists Inc. (PAJ) for the 2016 PAJ-SMC Binhi Awards, the group’s annual national agricultural journalism contest that is now open to online journalists. PAJ President and former Philippine Star business editor Roman Floresca said the support of SMC, under President and COO Ramon S. Ang, to the Binhi Awards is a big boost to Philippine journalism and stakeholders who comprise the country’s agriculture sector. “We sincerely thank SMC for its strong support to the PAJ through four decades and counting, particularly the Binhi Awards, as we continue to raise the bar of coverage and reportage of the country’s agricultural developments and breakthroughs, and success stories of farmers, fishers, livestock raisers, food manufacturers and agribusinessmen,” said Floresca, who was reelected for a sixth term as PAJ president. SMC and PAJ recently formalized the agreement at the SMC main office in Mandaluyong City. The PAJ board has once again designated PAJ Vice President for Internal Affairs Noel Reyes as contest chairman. The 2016 PAJ-SMC Binhi Awards will offer cash prizes, ranging from P15,000 to P50,000, for 17 individual and institutional contest categories. Starting this year, online journalists can now compete in three major categories, which include agricultural journalist, agri-beat reporter and environment journalist, where the first-second- and third-place winners will receive P50,000, P30,000 and P20,000 cash prizes, respectively. In previous years only print journalists from national and regional newspapers, agricultural magazines and other publications vied for major and minor individual categories, said Reyes, who formerly served as information director at the Department of Agriculture. Further, print and online journalists can compete in other four minor individual categories, namely agri news story agri feature story, environment story and climate story of the year. One winner per category will be awarded a P15,000 cash prize and a trophy. The other 2016 PAJ-SMC Binhi Awards minor categories are agriphoto journalist; agri section of a national and regional or provincial newspaper; agri magazine; agri newsletter; national and regional agri radio program; national and regional agri TV program; and agri info and/or media campaign of government agency. Winners will each get a P20,000 cash prize and trophy.

The contest coverage is from November 1, 2015 to October 31, 2016, which means all entries should be published, uploaded or aired during the 12-month period. Entries should be submitted on or before December 16 to The 2016 PAJ-SMC Binhi Awards Committee, c/o Filipino Inventors Society Producer Cooperative (FISPC), Ground floor, Delta Building, Quezon Avenue corner West Avenue, Quezon City. For contest guidelines and requirements, visit the PAJ facebook account: Philippine Agricultural Journalists.‐miguel‐corp‐backs‐2016‐binhi‐awards/                                          

64 thrift banks post combined net profit of P10.5 B, up 19.35% in Q3 Published November 30, 2016, 10:01 PM 

By Lee C. Chipongian The 64 thrift banks combined had a higher net profit in the third quarter this year at P10.47 billion or up 19.35 percent year-on-year from P8.44 billion, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) show. Based on the income statement report for thrift banks, the sector’s non-interest income, which is income from trading activities, went up by 13.92 percent year-on-year to P9.89 billion from P8.68 billion. Thrift banks’ combined net interest income also increased by 12.33 percent to P39.39 billion from the same period last year of P35.16 billion. This income comes from traditional banking services such as lending and deposits. The sector, especially thirft bank subsidiaries of universal and commercial banks, have a significant market share for automotive and real estate loans. The country’s top five largest thrift banks in terms of assets and loans as of end-June are BPI Family Savings Bank, Philippine Savings Bank, RCBC Savings Bank, China Bank Savings (CBS) and City Savings Bank. BPI Family has total assets of P283.36 billion, PS Bank of the Metrobank Group has P175.33 billion while RCBC Savings, CBS and City Savings have assets amounting to P92.63 billion, P78.29 billion and P68.18 billion, respectively. The BSP earlier said thrift banks’ capital health – and these are for the majority stand-alone banks – improved to 19.80 percent as capital adequacy ratio (CAR) as of end-December 2015 compared to 19.56 percent in the third quarter in 2014. An improvement, according to BSP, indicates the sector’s continued effort to set aside sufficient buffer against unexpected losses that may arise in times of stress. The BSP said thrift banks’ CAR increased on a quarterly basis as the growth in the banks’ total qualifying capital “outpaced the rise in their risk weighted assets (RWAs) during the period amid profitable operations.” Stand-alone thrift banks are capitalized primarily with Tier 1 which are common equity and other qualified instruments. These are covered by the BSP’s Basel 1.5 capital framework for standalone banks with simple operations.‐thrift‐banks‐post‐combined‐net‐profit‐of‐p10‐5‐b‐up‐19‐35‐ in‐q3/

Isabela‐made implement digs cassava fast Published November 30, 2016, 10:00 PM 

By Zac B. Sarian A recently developed implement is going to benefit a lot of the cassava planters not only in Cagayan Valley but also in other parts of the country where the root crop is produced in big farms. This is the Cassava Uprooter that was fabricated by seasoned metalworks practitioners of the Central Isabela Agri Manufacturing Corporation (CIAMC) based in Cauayan City with a demo site at the Isabela State University in Echague. The implement has been tested with flying colors by the Agricultural Machinery Testing and Evaluation Center (AMTEC) based in UP Los Baños.

MAXIMIZING PRODUCTIVITY – Jess Domingo maximizes productivity in his farm by planting spaces between his trees. In photo, he intercropped his calamansi trees with sweet potato and ginger. Camote tops is a nutritious vegetable while its roots are good for the health. He has also ginger plantings between his mango trees. Ginger is a high-priced

farm produce these days. Aside from ordinary cooking, the rhizomes can also be processed into ginger tea, ginger candy and other high-value products. The Cassava Uprooter, when hitched to a 90-horsepower tractor, can uproot cassava on one hectare in just a matter of three hours, according to Eugene T. Gabriel, COO of Agricom which distributes the implement nationwide. Gabriel said that the development of the implement is very timely because many of the corn planters in several towns in Isabela and Cagayan are shifting to cassava. Cassava, he pointed, is less risky to produce than corn. It is less affected by typhoons and drought which are increasingly becoming prevalent due to climate change. The farmers are also shifting to cassava because there is a ready market – San Miguel Corporation which buys the dried chips at R9.80 per kilo. SMC uses the cassava as ingredient in its livestock feed which could be a cheaper substitute to corn as source of carbohydrates. In commercial cassava plantations, mechanized harvesting is really very important. Harvesting by manual means can be a back-breaking job and could be a problem because of the seasonal availability of manpower. CIAMCI, by the way, is a company formed by Agri Component Corporation (Agricom) and five owners of metal works shops in Isabela. The main purpose is to manufacture appropriate implements for farm mechanization so as to enhance the competitiveness and income of the farmers. Agricom provides the designs of most of the implements for fabrication by the CIAMC group. Then Agricom will do the marketing, which is its specialty. The CIAMC co-owners who have their own individual metalworks shops are Robert Tomas, Oscar Mananintan, Reynante Santiago, Jervin Sioco and Edmund Mabborang. ****



JESS DOMINGO REVISITED – From Isabela, we proceeded to visit Jess Domingo who runs an integrated organic farm in Alfonso Lista, Ifugao. We have featured him several times in our articles because of his practical ideas, just like the processing of hot chilli flakes when the price of fresh fruits is low. Now he produces chilli flakes that he sells to Monterey. What are his new projects? Well, he is shifting from raising white pigs organically to black native pigs. Although raising the white pigs is profitable (as much as R5,000 net per head), he figures out he can even make more money from the black pigs because he can drastically reduce the cost of his feeds. Jess is constructing rice terraces in his 100-hectare farm that is sloping in many places. He will grow black rice as well as improved varieties with superior eating quality. An irrigation system that is being built by the government passes through his property.

At any time now, he is awaiting the accreditation of his farm by TESDA as a training center for organic agriculture. He says he has been allocated with 900 trainees who will undertake a 28-day training course in his farm. Tags: Cassava Uprooter, farms, Isabela-made implement digs cassava fast, Manila Bulletin,, Philippine news, root crop‐made‐implement‐digs‐cassava‐fast/                                    

Piñol, onion farmers to meet with supermarket, food execs Published November 30, 2016, 5:21 PM 

By MB Online Local onion farmers and representatives of supermarket chains and food companies will meet tonight to address concerns regarding the sector, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said.

Onion farming / Manila Bulletin file photo In a Facebook post, Piñol said the meeting was set after farmers raised concerns on not being able to sell their produce because of competition with low-cost imported onions. The meeting will be held tonight at the Manila Golf Club, Piñol shared on Facebook.

The donion farmers will be represented by five officers of an association based in Bongabon, Nueva Ecija, led by board member Rommel Padilla. Also expected to attend are SM Supermarkets’ CEO Joey Mendoza, Robinson’s Group General Manager Jodi Gadia and Lynne de Jesus of Fresh Products, Rustan’s and Shopwise Group CEO Irwin Lee and Edgar Fernandez, Century Canning CEO Chris Po and Rex Agarrado, Shakey’s President Vic Gregorio and head of procurement Jun Abad, CDO CEO Jerome Ong, Max’s Restaurant Group CEO Robert Rota and team, Jollibee Group of Tony Tan representative Gisella Tiongson and team, and Puregold officers. The meeting — which was arranged by Joey Concepcion, Presidential Adviser of Economic Affairs, and Ginggay Hontiveros, Go Negosyo focal person — will serve as “matchmaker” between farmers and institutional buyers. Agencies under the Department of Agriculture (DA), said Piñol, can help connect farmers and institutional buyers through financing and revolving funds for their associations in order for farmers to receive their payments right away. Read more: Major supermarket chains to deal directly with garlic, onion farmers Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, Agriculture Undersecretaries Evelyn Laviña of High Value Crops and Rural Credit, Ariel Cayanan of Operations and Bernadette Romulo-Puyat of Administration and Marketing will also be present in the event. The dinner will be hosted by former congressman and senatorial candidate Martin Romualdez. Read more: N. Ecija onion farmers call on gov’t to stop importation Tags: Department of Agriculture, Manila Bulletin, Manila Golf Club, Manny Piñol, onion, onion farmers, supermarket chains‐onion‐farmers‐to‐meet‐with‐supermarket‐food‐execs/              

DA plans night fruit market starting December 1 Published November 30, 2016, 5:10 PM 

By Ellalyn De Vera The Department of Agriculture (DA) will open for the Holiday season a night fruit market starting December 1, inside its compound in Quezon City to allow fruit farmers to sell their products directly to consumers amid a slump in fruit prices. Secretary Manny Piñol said the program is an innovative response to fruit farmers’ complaint that “middlemen and traders are squeezing them to sell at very low prices because of alleged over supply.”

MB FILE (Jojo Riñoza / MANILA BULLETIN) He has directed DA’s officials to ask the permission from the Quezon City government to allow fruit farmers to use the frontage of the DA Compound to display their products at night. Other offices under the DA in the Elliptical Circle will also offer their areas for the planned night fruit market. Only legitimate fruit farmers would be allowed to join the program, Piñol said, “to send a clear message to the traders and middlemen dealing with agriculture products that the DA will do everything to protect the interests of the small farmers.”

He gave assurances that “any attempt to exploit the farmers by manipulating the prices will be met by the DA with innovative ideas.” “Lacatan banana producers, for example, say that from a high of P27 per kilo, buyers are now offering only P15,” Piñol said. “Since the banana farmers depend on their engagements with traders and middlemen to sell their products, they are literally helpless now,” he added. “I know for a fact that bananas from Mindanao are sold for as high as P75 per kilo in Baler, Aurora,” he also said, debunking claims reportedly made by traders that there is an oversupply of fruits. Pomelo farmers from Mindanao sell their produce for only P15 per kilo from a high of P50 per kilo. Tags: Christmas, DA, fruit farmers, fruit market, Manila Bulletin, Manny Piñol, night market‐plans‐night‐fruit‐market‐starting‐december‐1/                         

BFAR‐7 says ban on sardines commercial fishing in Central Visayas to last until Feb. 15, 2017 Published November 30, 2016, 3:16 PM 

CEBU CITY (PNA) – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Region 7 said the ban on the commercial fishing of sardines, herrings and mackerel will last until February 15 next year.

Sardines / Photo courtesy of / MANILA BULLETIN BFAR-7 Assistant Regional Director Allan Poquita on Tuesday said the fishing ban, which started in the middle of this month, will enable sardines, herrings and mackerel to recover and multiply. “This is for them to recover and it is the time for spawning,” he said. Poquita said they do this every year to allow these commercially significant aquatic resources, often processed into canned goods and sold in supermarkets, to breed freely thus maintaining a sustainable supply. The ban covers the coastlines from the mouth of Danao River in Escalante, Negros Oriental, on the northeastern part of Bantayan Island to Madrijdejos thru the lighthouse in Gigantes Island, Olatuya Island, to Culasi Point in Capiz Province then eastward along the northeastern coast of Capiz to Bulacaue Point in Carles, Iloilo.

From there, southward along the eastern coast of Iloilo to the mouth of Talisay River, westward across the Guimaras Strait to Tomonton Point in Negros Occidental and eastward along the Northern Coast of the island of Negros. Poquita said violators will be fined ranging from P100,000 to P500,000.‐7‐says‐ban‐on‐sardines‐commercial‐fishing‐in‐central‐ visayas‐to‐last‐until‐feb‐15‐2017/                                          

‘Revive E. Visayas agri, fisheries’ posted November 30, 2016 at 10:01 pm by Sandy Araneta More than a hundred farmers and disaster survivors from Eastern Visayas provinces on Tuesday demanded Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol apply emergency rehabilitation measures to revive the agriculture and fisheries sector in the region devastated by Super Typhoon “Yolanda” and subsequent calamities. Groups from the region were on the third day of their Caravan against Hunger and Militarization in the National Capital Region as they try to raise awareness on their current situation.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol “The previous Aquino administration neglected us and plundered disaster funds and resources intended for calamity victims. Now, we are challenging the Duterte presidency to respond to our most urgent demands,” said Nestor Lebico, spokesperson of Samahan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas, the regional chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. Eastern Samar, Western Samar and Northern Samar provinces are among the Department of Agriculture’s priority areas. The agency, under Piñol, has earmarked billions of funds for increased food production and poverty alleviation in these provinces under the Strategic Areas for Agriculture Development program, but government aid and rehabilitation efforts are not reaching the intended beneficiaries, the groups said. Farmers have registered 85 percent to 90 percent production losses due to successive typhoons, drought and infestations affecting coconut, abaca and palay, SAGUPA-SB added. Lebico said farmers in rural Samar and Leyte continue to experience worsening hunger, three years after “Yolanda” struck. Based on conservative government estimates, hunger incidence in the region is at 45 percent. “The Duterte government cannot turn a blind eye to the grim realities in Region 8. Before Yolanda, Eastern Visayas is the poorest region with the highest hunger incidence. The situation took a sharp turn from bad to worse,” the activist said.

“Now, more than 90 percent of the 4.1 million people in the provinces of Leyte, Southern Leyte, Samar, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar and Biliran are poor and hungry. Recovery is impossible as long as the agriculture and fisheries sector in the region remain neglected,” the peasant leader said, adding that the agricultural sector accounts for almost 45 percent of the region’s employment. “We have no lands to till, no government support and services for farmers and fisherfolk. Coconut farmlands are infested with coconut scale insect or cocolisap. Abaca is infested with bunchy-top virus. People who are trying to start a new life in the hinterlands cannot live in peace because of intense military operations. It’s like we are stuck between purgatory and hell,” Lebico said. Coconut farming is the main livelihood in Eastern Visayas. In 2014, Yolanda destroyed all but 700,000 of the 12 million coconut trees in the region, damaging 80 percent of 1.1 million metric tons of crops. “Whatever was left of the coconut farmlands in Samar and Leyte was infested with cocolisap,” Lebico said. “Coconut production in the region has fallen from 2,000 nuts per hectare to only 200 to 500 nuts,” he added. First discovered in 2010, the cocolisap has infested large areas of coco farmlands in Luzon and Mindanao by 2014 and last year, the pests started to infest Eastern Visayas. According to IBON, the value of coconut production in Eastern Visayas has steadily dropped from Php6.4 billion in 2013, to Php4.7 billion in 2014, and Php4.6 billion in 2015. The value of palay production in the region has also declined by 2.7 percent in the same year. Decline in fisheries is also evident, with Eastern Visayas posting a 22.7% decline in the value of aquaculture fisheries production in 2015. KMP secretary general Antonio Flores said the government and the DA must heed the demands of Eastern Visayas farmers for the distribution of free organic farm inputs, seedlings distribution, technical assistance and equipment to farmers and fisherfolk. The agency should also carry out a two-year moratorium on payment of irrigation fees and the “genuine rehabilitation and development of the agriculture sector and fisheries sector in the region,” Flores added.‐provinces/222886/‐revive‐e‐visayas‐agri‐fisheries‐.html      

Piñol wants names of importers with clean record posted November 30, 2016 at 12:17 pm by Arlene Lim Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol is urging the Philippine Association of Meat Processors to provide him a list of its members who are not involved in smuggling. His request comes, as he explains that his decision to cancel all import permits for meat and plant products is meant to curb smuggling. Smuggling of meat items is supposedly done through the “recyling” of old import permits. Piñol tells the organization that if their members have clean business records, new permits will be immediately issued to them. “Yung mga established na companies, padadaanin natin sa green lane maski hindi pa tapos ang dokumento. I-po-proseso na namin [ang permit] para hindi ma-delay ang shipment (the permits for established firms will be processed in the green lanes. We will process the permits to avoid delays in shipment),” he promises. In the meantime, he is asking meat importers to bear with him. He says, the revalidation of import permits continues. Piñol believes the campaign against smugglers of agricultural products will benefit the rural economy.‐main‐stories/222808/pi‐ol‐wants‐names‐of‐importers‐ with‐clean‐record.html              

Death penalty debate on posted November 30, 2016 at 10:01 pm by Maricel Cruz AN OPPOSITION lawmaker on Wednesday called on Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and the leadership of the House supermajority to allow a conscience vote on the proposed reimposition of the death penalty. Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said Alvarez must allow a thorough debate on death penalty bill and “liberate members of the majority coalition to advocate differing views and assure free debate on the revival of capital punishment.” Lagman made the call after the House sub-committee on judicial reforms of the Hosue committee on justice approved Tuesday a substitute bill adhering to the proposal of HB 1 imposing the death penalty on at least 21 crimes considered “heinous.” “The precipitate approval, which was assured by the preponderant presence of ex-officio members who outnumbered the regular members, was vitiated by non-compliance with the prior three-calendar day notice rule to the members informing them of the scheduled meeting, abrupt termination of the testimonies of resource persons and absence of a requisite committee report,” Lagman said. Lagman said the proponents of the consolidated substitute bill failed to comply with the constitutional requirement of showing compelling reasons for the reimposition of the death penalty. Alvarez earlier said the House leadership was eyeing the passage of the death penalty bill before Congress goes on Christmas break starting December 16. The Speaker said the death penalty bill was a priority measure since it was listed in the top agenda of the Duterte administration which had been active in its war against drugs. Alvarez principally authored HB 1 which seeks to re-impose death penalty on “heinous crimes,” such as human trafficking, illegal recruitment, plunder, treason, parricide, infanticide, rape, qualified piracy and bribery, kidnapping and illegal detention, robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons, car theft, destructive arson, terrorism and drug-related cases. “There is evidently a need to reinvigorate the war against criminality by reviving a proven deterrent coupled by its consistent, persistent and determined implementation, and this need is as compelling and critical as any,” Alvarez said in his HB No. 1. “The imposition of the death penalty for heinous crimes and the mode of its implementation, both subjects of repealed laws, are crucial components of an effective dispensation of both reformative and retributive justice,” the bill stated.

Republic Act 7659 or the Death Penalty Law was abolished in 1986 during the term of then President Corazon Aquino. It was restored by former President Fidel Ramos in 1993, and was suspended again in 2006 by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. President Rodrigo Duterte said he wanted the capital punishment by hanging reimposed. Duterte also vowed to carry out at least 50 executions a month to serve as a strong deterrent against criminality. In pushing for his bill, Alvarez lamented that the rise of criminality in the country had reached an “alarming proportion” and the government must do an “all-out offensive against all forms of felonious acts.”‐main‐stories/top‐stories/222861/death‐penalty‐debate‐ on.html                              

Bangko Sentral seen raising rates in 2017 posted November 30, 2016 at 09:20 pm by Julito G. Rada Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas will likely raise interest rates by 50 basis points in the first half of 2017 if the domestic economy remains robust and inflation accelerates, DBS Bank of Singapore said in a research note Wednesday. Gundy Cahyadi, economist of the DBS Group Research, said inflation was expected to come in at 3 percent in 2017 and 2.9 percent in 2018. “Domestic demand is expected to remain firm and continue to support overall GDP growth momentum. We reckon that the domestic story is compelling enough reason for the BSP to eventually tighten its policy stance,” Cahyadi said. He said the pace of investment growth would play a role in supporting the consumption story in the nearer-term. Investment growth averaged 25 percent over the past year, an unprecedented feat. Cahyadi said while it eased to 23.5 percent year-on-year in the third quarter, it was still outright strong. He said the government’s infrastructure overhaul would continue to drive the construction sector, whose growth gained pace at 15.5 percent in the third quarter, up from 11.8 percent previously. “The BSP is in no rush to raise interest rates. But if the growth-inflation dynamics progresses as expected, two 25 bps rate hikes seem imminent for the first half of 2017,” Cahyadi said. Inflation in the first 10 months averaged 1.6 percent, below the government’s official target range of 2 to 4 percent this year. Meanwhile, economic growth averaged 7 percent in the first nine months, at the upper bound of the Duterte administration’s target range of 6 percent to 7 percent this year. The subdued inflation and robust domestic economic growth prompted the Monetary Board to keep the benchmark interest rates unchanged in its latest policy meeting on Nov. 10. The interest rates of 3.5 percent for overnight lending, 3 percent for overnight borrowing and 2.5 percent for overnight deposit facility were left unchanged. The reserve requirement ratios of banks were also kept steady. The board’s decision was based on its latest assessment that inflation continued to be manageable, with a gradual return to the inflation target range of 2 percent to 4 percent over the policy horizon.

It said while forecasts indicated that average inflation could settle slightly below the lower edge of the target range in 2016, it was projected to rise toward the mid-point of the target range in 2017 and 2018. The board said the overall balance of risks surrounding the inflation outlook remained tilted to the upside, owing largely to the pending petitions for adjustments in electricity rates along with the proposed tax policy reform program. It also said the slower global economic activity remained a key downside risk. At the same time, the board observed that prospects for global economic growth remained modest and uneven since the previous meeting. Also, monetary policies in major advanced economies continued to be “asynchronous and the prospects uncertain.”‐sentral‐seen‐raising‐rates‐in‐2017.html                                

Sand miner eyes Leyte steel mill posted November 30, 2016 at 08:55 pm by Othel V. Campos Chinese black sand miner Nicua Mining Corp. has proposed to put up a $250-million iron-ore processing facility in Leyte to help develop the Philippine steel industry. The mining firm’s decision came at a time when the Philippines’ and China’s economic ties started warming up with a whole package of investments and financial assistance promised by China to the Philippine government.Nicua in a recent meeting with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority stressed the benefits of having a strong steel industry, especially in the “depressed region of Eastern Visayas.” “We will be creating a technical working group that will identify the required assistance this company will need. Once we have developed our steel industry, it will propel our economy towards industrialization,” said Peza director-general Charito Plaza. A black sand or magnetite sand miner, Nicua proposed to utilize 6.4 million metric tons of its mining output in Cebu to produce 3 million MT of steel and 27,000 MT of vanadium, a chemical element used as base for steel alloy to produce hi-speed tool steel for aircraft and jets. Using heat from the kilns and electric arc furnace, the company is eyeing to produce as much as 90 megawatts of power to stave off its power requirement of 210 MW that will be sourced from geothermal power plants in Leyte. “Because of the cheap geothermal power, the steel produced will be in the lowest quartile of the world steel price,” the company said in a presentation.The Chinese company said the project could inject more than $5 billion annually into the economy and reduce the country’s growing steel importation, now valued at $3 billion yearly. The company said about $1.5 billion in foreign exchange savings wouls be generated once a national steel industry was established.Employment is seen to grow from an initial 3,000 to over 4,000 including facility staff and security people. Nicua said the steel company would be majority Filipino-owned with the minority shares held by the Chinese businessmen.Nicua mines magnetite sand or magnetite iron ore crystals from the rice lands converted as mining areas in Leyte for export to China. The Environment Department suspended its mining license in 2012 after two fish kill incidents in nearby Lake Bito were traced from its operations.‐miner‐eyes‐leyte‐steel‐mill.html  

DTI monitors prime commodities prices as peso depreciates By RAADEE S. SAUSA, TMT on December 1, 2016 Business   THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is closely monitoring prices of basic manufactured goods and prime commodities following the depreciation of the Philippine peso. Last week, the peso hit P50:$1 on the Philippine Dealing System, which raised concerns among business groups and consumers over its possible effect of boosting the prices of basic and prime goods, especially those made from imported raw materials. DTI-Consumer Protection Group (CPG) Undersecretary Teodoro Pascua clarified the matter in a statement issued on Wednesday: “Based on our regular price monitoring activities in the past few weeks, there have been no price increases in any of the products that the department monitors.” Although a weaker peso could push up the prices of goods with imported components, the DTI does not see it as having an immediate effect on the current prices of goods in the market because the stock currently on sale consisted of imported raw materials purchased prior to the peso’s depreciation. On the other hand, the DTI said this could go the other way, referring to a possible increase in consumption resulting from the higher inflow of dollar remittances from overseas Filipinos. “In terms of supply, the manufacturers assured the DTI that there is adequate supply of their basic and prime goods until the end of the year, especially during the holiday season,” Pascua said. The DTI reminds retailers that the list of suggested retail prices (SRPs) of noche buena products released on November 4 still stands, while consumers are advised to be guided by this when making their purchases. The DTI vows to not be complacent as it intensifies its efforts to ensure that the prices of goods in the market remain at reasonable levels. The public can use DTI’s “e-Presyo” which consumers, retailers, distributors, and manufacturers can check for the SRPs and prevailing prices of all basic and prime goods being monitored by the DTI including those stores selling at the lowest prices, it said.‐monitors‐prime‐commodities‐prices‐peso‐ depreciates/299324/   

BIR at frontline of govt agenda to boost growth, cut poverty – Dominguez By The Manila Times on December 1, 2016 Business   FINANCE Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd has vowed to work closely with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to ensure the financial sustainability of the Duterte administration’s ambitious program to maintain economic growth and ease poverty by increasing investment in education and health care. He said the BIR is working “under extraordinary circumstances” at “the frontline of the new government’s broad effort to reverse the pattern of slow and exclusive growth” and meet the challenge of freeing six million Filipinos from poverty on the Duterte watch. Speaking at the Fourth Quarter Revenue Command Conference held recently at the BIR Head Office in Quezon City, Dominguez mentioned that gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 7.1 percent in the last quarter—making the Philippines the fastest growing economy in Asia in that period—and for the government to sustain this momentum in the medium term, the BIR must help raise enough revenues for investments to transform the economy from a consumptionled into an investment-driven one. This will entail massive public investments in infrastructure to pull down production costs to match those of the Philippines’ more competitive Asian neighbors, he said. “The new administration has committed to deliver truly inclusive growth for our people. That means we have to ensure the sustainability of our growth momentum while at the same time ensuring that all our people are brought to the economic mainstream through investments in our human capital, particularly education and health care,” he added. The Department of Finance (DOF) submitted to Congress in September its proposed Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act, which details the first tax plan on lowering personal income tax rates. This first package also includes compensatory measures that aim to expand the base for the value-added tax (VAT) to plug massive leakages, adjust the excise tax on petroleum products and index these to inflation, and restructure the excise tax on automobiles via a progressive ad valorem system. “It might seem unwise to bring down income tax rate at precisely the moment we need more revenues to fuel our economic growth. But that is precisely the challenge. We have to renovate our tax system to become simpler, fairer and more efficient. While reducing the tax rate, we need to improve our compliance and plan to broaden the tax base,” he said.

“With the plan to lower rates, the BIR should now prepare its own plans to broaden the base of our taxation. The goal is to make the lower rates revenue neutral through improved tax administration,” he said. Dominguez said that in order to convince legislators and taxpayers to sign off on this tax plan, the BIR will have to demonstrate that it is capable of henceforth improving its administrative efficiency and plug the perennial leakages in its tax collection drive. “One of my most difficult tasks right now is convincing the Congress to pass the [tax reform plan]. Their argument against me is you. You have not delivered enough. The Congress and I have no answer to that. That’s why I came here today. I want to know from you what to answer the Congress. Why are you seen as being so inefficient and quite frankly, quite corrupt? This is my difficulty in helping the Filipino people come up with a very strong, new tax reform phase. So I hope to listen to you in a few minutes. Tell me how I can defend you in Congress by telling me how you are improving your tax administration,” Dominguez told BIR officials and employees during his visit. He expressed confidence that the BIR family is talented and dedicated enough to deliver on this daunting task of “breaking new ground” and doing “new things for our people.” “Public finance is the lynchpin of this ambitious economic program. Without the support of strong public revenues, the entire economic program will unravel. The reforms cannot be done. The growth cannot be sustained,” Dominguez said.‐frontline‐govt‐agenda‐boost‐growth‐cut‐poverty‐ dominguez/299317/                  

As oceans empty, Kenya fishers must adapt or disappear Posted on December 01, 2016  PATE ISLAND, KENYA ‐‐ Ahmed Ali Mohamed snorkels over sea grass and coral, keeping an  eye out for different fish species darting through the waters below him. 

A fisherman sits on a boat next to a pile of fish, after catching them thank to a new technique  recommended by marine conservationists, offshore of the island of Faza in the Indian ocean’s  archipelago of Lamu on Kenya’s coast on Nov.20. ‐‐ AFP  But his job is not to catch the fish ‐‐ as his family has done for generations ‐‐ instead he only  counts them.     Mr. Mohamed is one of the first former fishermen to be retrained as a ranger monitoring the  health of the reef off Pate Island in southeastern Kenya, where fortunes are dwindling as fast as  the fish in the sea.    Pate’s fishermen have plied the inshore waters for generations but must now adapt to survive  as ‐‐ like coastal people around the world ‐‐ they learn the hard way that the ocean is not an  endless resource.    “The community’s population has grown with time and we all depend on the ocean alone for a  living,” said Mr. Mohamed, 45, a former lobster fisherman.    “Before people would go into the waters and come back with a big catch of fish... but now they  don’t even come back with enough to feed their own families.”    The stakes are high for the island, the largest in the idyllic Lamu archipelago. 

Fishing became the main source of income after tourism collapsed following a spate of  kidnappings by pirates in 2011 and an increase of attacks by Shabaab militants on the mainland.    Community leaders fear the effects of worsening poverty as the fish run out in this mainly  Muslim region which neighbors Somalia and has suffered generations of marginalization by  successive governments.     “When it comes to a point where people have nothing to do, no income, (and) increase in  poverty, people will have no option but to end up joining bad groups like Al‐Shabaab,” said  Atwas Swabir, the chairman of Pate’s marine reserve.    FISHERMEN TARGET REEFS  Poverty is already entrenched. On the mangrove‐fringed island, electricity only reached the  torpid fishing village of Faza two months ago. Dozens of children loiter on the shore while  donkeys nibble at flotsam in the water and scrawny, diseased cats yowl for scraps when the  fishermen come in.    Mr. Swabir says many of these children will end up as fishermen “whether they like it or not” so  finding new ways to make fishing sustainable without destroying the environment for future  generations is essential.    “Fishing is not just an income generating activity, it is a lifestyle,” said local fisheries director  Kamalu Sharif. “You cannot remove a fisherman and take him to the farm.”    Close to where Mr. Mohamed takes careful notes on an underwater writing slate, traditional  wooden dhows work in tandem to drag a large tight‐mesh net over the reef scooping up  everything in its wake, including young fish, and breaking off bits of sensitive coral.    The reefs teem with fish who are lured there for breeding, making them an easy and vulnerable  target for fishermen.    “That is where breeding happens, that is where (fish) lay their eggs. The fishermen are directly  targeting those reefs,” said Juliet King, an advisor to Kenya’s Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT),  a conservation organization.    The reef ranger program, funded by the US‐based Nature Conservancy, is aimed at helping  fishermen manage their resources better, using a method akin to crop rotation to encourage 

sequential fishing of the reef giving different areas a chance to recover.    However, the long‐term plan is for fishermen to move away from the sensitive reef entirely.  Currently, they only use a fraction of the more than 200 nautical miles of waters available to  them.    “We are trying to encourage (the fishermen) to extend their fishing range to slightly deeper  waters and in less exploited areas and that way we will be tackling this big problem of  overfishing,” said George Maina, Marine Project Coordinator for the Nature Conservancy.    Lending the project more urgency is the nearby construction of a major new port, a boon for  development that spells doom for the livelihoods of around 4,000 fishermen if they remain  inshore, say local officials.  Further out, they can catch larger, more valuable fish, but that requires ice for storage and a  market at which to sell them.    NEW METHODS, BIGGER EARNINGS  Testing a new initiative, dhows set off from Pate at night with ice boxes on board. In the deeper  waters beyond the reef, they will fish with a hook and line instead of nets.    The next day, the prized catch of snapper, tuna and emperor fish is whisked to a nearby hotel ‐‐  which has rented a freezer to the fishermen ‐‐ before being sent on to upmarket restaurants  and lodges across Kenya.  Taking part in this pilot program, Mohamed Mwanaheri, 40, says he has more than doubled his  earnings.    “People need to be informed so that the community can know there is a ready market (and)  change their outdated fishing methods,” he said.    Fuzz Dyer, an advisor to NRT and the owner of the hotel where the fish is frozen, reckoned  Pate’s fishermen could land 400 kilograms (880 pounds) of high‐quality fish a day if they are  helped to change their methods and access the market.    The alternative, Mr. Dyer warned, is disaster with overfishing leaving the reef barren.     “People are just raping the bottom of the ocean,” he said. ‐‐ AFP‐oceans‐empty‐ kenya‐fishers‐must‐adapt‐or‐disappear&id=137163 

R&D Center named after banana king Don Antonio Posted on December 01, 2016 

THE PHILIPPINES would soon build an R&D center for Philippine bananas. The  facility will carry the name of Philippine banana king Don Antonio O. Floirendo,  Sr. 

The House committee on agriculture and food has approved House Bill 2926 ‐‐ authored by House  Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez and Compostela Valley Rep. Ruwel Peter S. Gonzaga (2nd District) ‐‐ which  seeks to put up the “Antonio O. Floirendo, Sr. Banana Research and Development Center.”    The Floirendo family owns one of the largest banana plantations in the country, the Tagum Agricultural  Development Co., Inc which exports Cavendish bananas. The patriarch Don Antonio passed away in  2012.    During the committee hearing, Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol told lawmakers  that it is now “high time” for the government to put up the facility.    “The banana industry is an industry that grew out of its own resources, of its own efforts. It barely  received any support from the government,” Mr. Piñol said.    Mr. Piñol noted that the banana industry ‐‐ which has grown to about $1.5‐billion industry and employs  about 500,000 workers ‐‐ is reeling from a “very serious disease” called the Panama disease.    “But in spite of this, the government has not really intervened. When the China market closed about  two years ago, the government failed to assist the banana growers,” Mr. Piñol said.    The Agriculture secretary said Philippine bananas hold 98% of the Asian market, “but slowly Ecuador is  coming in. Ecuador bananas, because of the very low cost of fuel right now, is entering the Japanese  market.” 

“[If] we don’t improve the quality of our bananas right now by research and development, we might lose  to South American bananas.”    Under the bill, the Philippine National Banana Research and Development Center will integrate, collate,  and support research and development programs and studies on the banana industry. It will also  conduct continuing research on developing productive, high‐yielding, disease‐resistant, and good  varieties of banana.    The research center will be put up in Panabo City, Davao del Norte.    Funding for the establishment of the center will be sourced from the budget of the Agriculture  department. ‐‐ Raynan F. Javil‐center‐ named‐after‐banana‐king‐don‐antonio&id=137162                             

By Ian Nicolas P. Cigaral

Chinese coast guard rescues Filipino fishermen Posted on December 01, 2016  TWO of five missing Filipino fishermen in the disputed Scarborough Shoal were rescued by  the China Coast Guard, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said in a press  briefing on Tuesday, Nov. 29 (Beijing time).  China’s assistance to the rescue operation came after the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said it  was planning to coordinate with its Chinese counterpart in searching for the five fishermen who  failed to return after going out in the contested waters amid rough weather last week.    “Attaching great importance to what has happened, the Chinese side has asked Chinese boats  to search in relevant waters. According to the China Coast Guard, the Chinese side has rescued  two Philippine fishermen from the waters off Huangyan Dao (other term for Scarborough Shoal)  and is verifying their identities. The Chinese side will continue with the search and rescue in  relevant waters,” Mr. Geng said.Commander Armand A. Balilo, PCG spokesperson, as quoted in  a Nov. 28 report by the Associated Press, said, “the fishermen left the shoal due to an  approaching typhoon last week and have not been heard from since. Boats and ships passing in  the area were alerted after a fisherman notified authorities about his missing colleagues.”  Following President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s state‐visit to Beijing in October, Filipino fishermen  have returned to the disputed Scarborough area, this time without being harassed by the  Chinese Coast Guard, which has remained in their stations there. The PCG has also returned to  patrolling these waters, but at a good distance from the Chinese Coast Guard.  The Philippines and China both claim the shoal as part of their territory. But China took control  of the ring of reefs just 230 kilometers (140 miles) from the main Philippine island of Luzon in  2012 after a stand‐off with the Philippine navy.  Following a case brought by Mr. Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno S. C. Aquino III, three years  ago, a United Nations‐backed international tribunal declared in July the shoal a common fishing  ground for surrounding nations.The tribunal also ruled, in a resounding legal victory for the  Philippines, that China’s claim to most of the South China Sea was without legal basis.‐coast‐guard‐ rescues‐filipino‐fishermen&id=137141 

Agri, services employment gains offset decline in industry -- PSA Posted on December 01, 2016  GROWTH in agriculture and services jobs shored up employment numbers in the second  quarter, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said in a report. 

“Employment growth in enterprises based in Metro Manila remained positive in the second  quarter of 2016,” it said, noting that the agriculture and service gains helped offset a decline in  industry sector employment.    The PSA report showed that the labor turnover rate stood at 2.3% for the second quarter of  2016 with an accession rate of 12.43%, higher than the separation rate of 10.13%.    “Measured in terms of labor turnover rates or the percent difference between accession  (additions) and separation (losses) rates, employment growth accelerated to 2.3% during the  period. This doubled the 1.15% rate registered in the same period in 2015,” the report said.    The accession rate is the number of new employees hired and added to a payroll during a  certain period (usually one year) while the separation rate is the percentage of workers leaving  employment during a certain period.    “These rates indicated that for every 1,000 employed, 23 workers were added to the total  enterprise work force, 124 workers were added due to either expansion or replacement while  101 workers were laid off or quit their jobs,” the PSA said in its Labor Turnover Statistics report.    The labor turnover rate in agriculture, forestry and fishing rose to 4.59%, almost four times the  1.02% rate posted in the same period last year.     “Moreover, the employment gains in the services sector of 2.88% can be attributed to the 

positive growth in education (6.08%); financial and insurance activities (5.10%); information  and communication (4.45%); other service activities (4.36%); and wholesale and retail trade;  repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles (3.06%),” the report said.    On the other hand, the 2.11% employment contraction in the industry sector can be attributed  to construction, which saw an employment reduction of 8.36%, and losses in the electricity,  gas, steam and air‐conditioning supply segments, which were down by 1.17%.    Workers hired due to expansion accounted for 8.86% of the total while hires for replacement  purposes accounted for 3.57%.     Eight industry groups posted higher accession rates due to more expansion hiring compared  with replacement while 10 industries posted more replacement than expansion hiring.    Segments in the former category were administrative and support service activities (15.18%  expansion hiring vs. 1.91% replacement); information and communication (7.98% vs. 1.45%)  and human health and social work activities (8.13 vs. 3.64%).    Meanwhile, industries that engaged in higher replacement than expansion hiring were  education (9.49% vs. 4.54%); repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (6.99% vs. 2.37%) and  accommodation and food service activities (9.31% vs. 7.23%).    In September, the PSA’s Labor Force Survey (LFS) reported a decrease in the unemployment  rate to 5.4% in July, from 6.5% in the same period last year.     It was lowest unemployment rate since April 2005, when the government adopted the  International Labor Organization definitions of employment and unemployment.    Meanwhile, the employment rate rose to 94.6% from 93.5% a year earlier and the labor force  participation rate increased to 63.3% from 62.9%.    Meanwhile, the underemployment rate decreased to 17.3% from 21%, which translated to 7.09  million workers. The government has a joblessness target of 4‐5% by 2022. ‐‐ Danica M. Uy‐services‐ employment‐gains‐offset‐decline‐in‐industry‐‐‐‐psa&id=137133 

Mindanao businesses back tax reform Posted on December 01, 2016  THE MINDANAO Business Council expressed its support for the government’s efforts to  overhaul the tax system, saying that the reforms will make taxation more fair, provide relief  for the middle class, and provide a boost to consumption.  Specifically to Mindanao, the council’s Chairman Vicente Lao said in a statement that reforms  could provide a “starting point” for economic prosperity in the southern island, particularly in  conjunction with the government’s plans to eradicate poverty.    “[This] is a dream we share and we will commit to working towards it,” Mr. Lao was quoted as  saying.     “As partners for change, we, the Mindanao Business Council, fully support the Duterte  administration’s comprehensive tax reform program (CTRP), spearheaded by DoF (Department  of Finance).”    The DoF submitted the first package of its five‐part series of tax reforms to the Congress in  September, and hopes to start implementing the measures in early 2018.    “We believe that the program, comprising several packages beginning with the first package  submitted to Congress in September 2016, will simplify and correct the inefficiency and  inequity of our tax system. More importantly, we believe that the CTRP is fiscally sound,  responsible, and will address the development needs of our country, which are particularly  acute in Mindanao,” the MBC said in the statement.     On the reduction of the personal income tax, the MBC said “[it] is immediately needed and  rightfully deserved by the Filipino taxpayer” as “this will provide due relief for the middle and  lower‐income classes and spur consumption, the effects of which we hope to feel immediately  in Mindanao.”     The MBC also supports the expansion of excise taxes on oil products and automobiles, and  removal of “unnecessary” exemptions enjoyed by the rich and senior citizens, to offset the  losses from reducing personal income tax.     “Many of our VAT exemptions aim to protect vulnerable sectors, but we are in agreement with  the DoF that these sectors must be protected through more targeted and effective means, and 

not through the tax system, which benefits the rich far more. Most importantly, rationalizing  VAT exemptions will improve compliance and contribute to ease of doing business,” the MBC  said.    “The long‐delayed development of Mindanao can be attained by securing peace and investing  in the future, particularly rural development. These are at the heart of President Duterte’s  economic policy, which we continue to support and seek to advance,” it added. ‐‐ E.J.C.  Tubayan‐businesses‐ back‐tax‐reform&id=137136                                   

Meat processor import permits to be expedited Posted on December 01, 2016  THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it will facilitate the revalidation process for food  import permits held by major meat processors with clean records. 

The Department of Agriculture will facilitate the revalidation process for food import permits. ‐‐  BW FILE PHOTO  Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol “is recognizing that the PAMPI (Philippine Association of Meat  Processors, Inc.) members have no reason to shortcut the import process. We have explained  our position that we protect our brands,” said the organization’s Executive Director Francisco J.  Buencamino in an interview with BusinessWorld late Tuesday.    “In effect, the order is for Usec (Undersecretary for Operations Ariel T.) Cayanan to establish  this fast lane for importers processors who have no record of violations,” said Mr. Buencamino,  adding that the order is to have their container vans held up in various ports across the country  ready for release by today, Thursday.    Mr. Buencamino added that the organization welcomes the DA’s decision to cancel all food  import permits as an anti‐smuggling measure. PAMPI had a meeting with Mr. Piñol during  which the secretary presented to them evidence of widespread smuggling in food imports. 

“He showed us the evidence. The situation is really serious,” Mr. Buencamino added.    Mr. Buencamino said violators should be penalized under the new law on smuggling, Republic  Act 10845 “An Act Defining Large‐Scale Agricultural Smuggling as Economic Sabotage,  Prescribing Penalties Therefor and for Other Purposes.”     Signed on May 23, RA 10845 classifies economic sabotage as “any act or activity which  undermines, weakens or renders into disrepute the economic system or viability of the country  or tends to bring out such effects and shall include, among others, price manipulation to the  prejudice of the public especially in the sale of basic necessities and prime commodities.”    Violators face life imprisonment and a fine of twice the fair value of the smuggled agricultural  product and the aggregate amount of taxes, duties and other charges avoided.    Mr. Piñol said on Monday that he will also sign an order which will give DA inspectors first crack  at food imports arriving at ports of entry, even ahead of Customs inspection, to ensure food  safety and prevent technical smuggling.    Mr. Piñol said the DA has the authority under Republic Act 10611 or the Food Safety Act of  2013 which states that “imported foods shall undergo cargo inspection and clearance  procedures by the DA and the DoH (Department of Health) at the first port of entry to  determine compliance with national regulations.”    The law provides that the inspection by the two departments “shall always take place prior to  assessment for tariff and other charges by the Bureau of Customs.” ‐‐ Janina C. Lim‐processor‐ import‐permits‐to‐be‐expedited&id=137135           

Senate panel to start charter change debates next week Written by  Angie M. Rosales   Thursday, 01 December 2016 00:00  

Deliberations on the proposed charter change (cha-cha), one of the top priorities of the Duterte administration, will begin rolling in the Senate next week, immediately after the enactment of the P3.35-trillion national budget for 2017. “Let the debates begin,” Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon, concurrent chairman of the committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, yesterday said. “This committee understands the importance of this undertakingin the agenda of the current administration so we will ensure that it is given the utmost priority,” he added. Drilon has set December 8 as the first public hearing on proposals to amend the Charter, with notable constitutionalists as among the resource persons. “We will hear all views and opinions of the various sectors on these issues,” he said. These include former Chief Justices Hilario Davide Jr., Reynato Puno and Artemio Panganiban. Also invited are former Supreme Court Associate Justices Adolfo Azcuna, Antonio Nachura and Vicente Mendoza, as well as constitutional experts Fr. Joaquin Bernas, Atty. Christian Monsod; and former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr. Drilon said he has also invited some members of the Cabinet such as Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Makati Business Club Chairman Ramon del Rosario Jr. Representatives from various sectors such as the business community, labor, academe, civil society, sectoral and religious groups will also be part of the hearings. Drilon reiterated his commitment toward making the process of amending and revising the Constitution thoroughly, consultative and transparent. “The initial hearing would focus on the following key issues: Is there a need to amend or revise the Constitution? Why or why not? If so, what parts of the Constitution should be amended or revised? Why? Should the amendments or revision be proposed by a Constitutional Convention (con-con) or by the Congress itself acting as a constituent assembly? Why? If Congress convenes as a constituent assembly for the purpose of amending or revising the Constitution, should the

Senate and the House of Representatives vote jointly or separately?” he asked. “All these must be and will be thoroughly considered, guided by the principle that the vehicle we choose must be democratic, participatory and inclusive,” Drilon assured. Con-con spending an investment – solon House Deputy Minority Leader and Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza, meanwhile, is insisting that concon is still the best mode for cha-cha. “If we can spend P26 billion to elect a president that we will replace in six years, and to choose members of Congress as well as local officials that we will replace in three, surely we can spend P8 billion to pick delegates to a constitutional convention that will draft us a new Charter that is bound to outlast a generation,” he said in a statement. “We should not hesitate to spend for the preparation of a new Constitution that could free up the national economy from the clutches of oligarchs, build genuine peace and order, provide full employment and guarantee every Filipino family a rising standard of living,” Atienza stressed. The opposition lawmaker was responding to the claim of House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas that calling for a con-con could easily cost anywhere from P6 billion to P8 billion, whereas convening Congress into a con-ass to propose changes to the Charter would cost only P2 billion. “Next year, we will be spending another P6 billion for the barangay polls. Is the House majority telling us that electing barangay officials that we will replace in three years is more important than voting for a constitutional convention? We can spend P6 billion for the barangay polls, but we cannot spend P8 billion for a constitutional convention?” Atienza argued. In a constitutional convention, the people will elect representatives who will recommend amendments to the Constitution. In a constituent assembly, Congress itself sits down to put forward modifications to the Constitution. In both cases, the proposed changes will require final direct approval by the people in a referendum. Congress authorized the Commission on Elections to spend P16.814 billion in 2015 and another P16.004 billion this year, mainly for the preparations and conduct of the May 9 general elections as well as the October 31 barangay election that has since been postponed to 2017.‐panel‐to‐start‐charter‐change‐debates‐next‐ week            

New law needed to use billion coco levy fund Written by  Pat C. Santos   Thursday, 01 December 2016 00:00   Lawmakers should consider fast tracking a law that will dispose of the P73-billion coconut levy fund which should be distributed to more than millions of farmers due to the issuance of Supreme Court in connection with the said fund. According to Multi- Sectoral Task Force on Coco Levy co-convenor Romeo Royandoyan, it’s about time for the Congress to craft a law on the proposed Coconut Farmer’s Trust Fund bill in order for the government to utilize this fund to boost the coconut industry to cope up and become competitive in the world market. “There is no problem in using the said fund because it is intended for the welfare of the farmers. The issue here is the inclusion of a provision that will privatized the assets because this is not the answer on the problem of coconut industry,” pointed out Royandoyan during the Tapatan sa Aristocrat forum at Malate Manila. The same was supported by Confederation of Coconut Farmers Organizations economic adviser Jose Sarmiento who said that there is a big potential in the coconut industry where it is a big help in the RP economy because it is still the leading product in the world market. “It is a potential to our growth because we are known in the world as number one exporter of coconut products in the world. The problem is we never did anything for the coconut industry for the past 30 years, after ‘Yolanda,’ we suddenly stop exporting our product,” stressed Sarmiento. Sarmiento reminded the need for the government to focus on the rehabilitation and re-planting program of coconut that was damage during the last typhoon. Atlas Fertilizer Corp. president Takashi Sumi for his part said that while the scope of the damage on the coconut plantation in many parts of the country, there is a hope on the return to its former state if the government and private sector will help each other for the welfare of the industry. “Coconut products from the Philippines are still far better than those coming from other countries so there is great potential for this to help your economy grow,” said Sumi. “We still haven’t exploited its potential, We are lucky that we have an abundant supply of salt and this is what we need aside from the special endowment from the nature and god and we should capitalize on it.”‐law‐needed‐to‐use‐billion‐coco‐levy‐fund       

Agriculture sector will grow — DA chief Written by  Tribune Wires   Thursday, 01 December 2016 00:00   The Department of Agriculture is expecting the agricultural sector to recover and grow by five percent to six percent in 2017 from this year’s estimated flat growth. “I am confident that we will grow. I would be targeting around 5 to 6 percent by next year… I believe that in the next cropping season, I just hope that we will not be hit by extreme calamity, (it’s) very, very positive,” Agriculture Sec. Manny Piñol said. Piñol said the sector is expected to post a flat growth in the fourth quarter, sustaining third quarter’s 2.9 percent. The sector grew by 2.9 percent in the July to September quarter amid the normalization of weather conditions, breaking five consecutive quarters of decline. It has recovered from the prolonged drought brought by the El Niño phenomenon, which already dissipated in the third quarter of 2016. Piñol said the sector posted negative growths of four percent in the first quarter, and 2.13 percent in the second quarter. “For the whole year, I think we will just even up because of the severe negative growths in the first and second quarters,” he added. The agricultural sector grew a measly 0.11 percent in 2015 in terms of production volume.‐sector‐will‐grow‐da‐chief                   

Workers’ security of tenure pushed Written by  Tribune Wires   Thursday, 01 December 2016 00:00   Stressing that policies and laws protecting the rights of workers are many and in place already, the umbrella organization of Philippine exporters urged their proper implementation as a way to ensure workers’ right to security of tenure. The Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (PhilExport), with over 4,000 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) members nationwide, “categorically” supports the termination of such practices that are contrary to the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 442 or the Labor Code of the Philippines. “These violate security of tenure, the right of which is secured by the Constitution, statute, and jurisprudence,” it said in a position paper sent to various entities, including the Daily Tribune. The exporters group said there is thus a need to promote and ensure that contractors and direct principals are labor laws compliant. “The fact is exporters have always tried to be compliant with labor laws, mainly because foreign buyers would not allow us to do otherwise, or we lose orders. But there is one important factor that governs the hiring policies of many of us. I refer to the seasonality of demand and supply that challenges our viability,” it added.‐security‐of‐tenure‐pushed                       

2016 12 01 quedancor daily news monitor  
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