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35% import tariff better than QR on rice, says PIDS By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 2, 2016 - 12:00am

The study said opening the Philippine rice market to more imports would double the baseline importation level of 2.2. million tons to around 4.4 million tons in the succeeding years from the expiration of the QR in the middle part of 2017. This is because domestic output is still insufficient to meet domestic demand. File photo MANILA, Philippines - Replacing the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice with a 35 percent tariff on imports would lower palay (unmilled rice) prices by as much as P5 per kilogram and rice retail prices by around P7 per kilogram, a new study by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) said. The study said opening the Philippine rice market to more imports would double the baseline importation level of 2.2. million tons to around 4.4 million tons in the succeeding years from the expiration of the QR in the middle part of 2017. This is because domestic output is still insufficient to meet domestic demand. Specifically, palay prices are expected to fall by P4.56 per kilogram while rice retail prices are seen to fall by P6.97 per kilogram. “Tariffication 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,� PIDS said. The extended QR, which would lapse in June 2017, is meant to protect the livelihood of Filipino rice farmers while they are strengthening their production capability. This extension was borne out of two years of negotiation with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and various member countries under the Aquino administration.

Through the QR, the Philippines imposes a high tariff of 35 percent on imported rice, the volume of which has been restricted to 805, 200 metric tons (MT). Importing outside the QR is even more expensive as inbound shipments would be levied a duty of 40 to 50 percent. To fill the supply gap, the National Food Authority (NFA) imports rice through tenders and intervenes in the market by selling the staple at a cheaper price. The Philippines would not be going for another extension of the QR as the government is finally recognizing the need to reallocate the significant resources spent on rice production to other means of reviving the agricultural sector such as crop diversification. To blunt the immediate effects of the removal of the special tax treatment on the staple on farmers’ incomes, PIDS is recommending the institution of a compensatory payment scheme for farmers, a direct cash transfer program similar to the conditional cash transfer (CCT) scheme. This is proposed to be implemented over and above the existing production support provided by pertinent government agencies to enable them to transition to a more open trade environment. Using a so-called Total Welfare Impact Stimulator (TWIST), PIDS said the government can afford to carry out compensatory transfers to rice farmers of as much as P19,000 per year at stable world market prices and P17,000 per year at 20 percent increase in world market prices. “Assessment shows that the compensatory transfer scheme can operate at a feasible cost, with 35 percent tariff rate applied,” said PIDS. “It should be reiterated that the compensatory scheme aims not to displace existing programs, but as a supplementary measure to be financed from rice tariff revenues,” said PIDS, noting that compensatory payments can be received simultaneously with the CCT. Imposing a 35 percent tariff on rice imports, would enable the government to collect between P17 billion to P18 billion annually. “Hence, 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 productenhancement measures for rice farmers,” said PIDS. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) sees the removal of the QR as a major strategy in bringing down the country’s poverty incidence to between 13 to 15 percent by the end of the Duterte administration in 2022. Imposing a competitive tariff on rice imports would lower the cost of the staple that eats up 20 percent of the budget of the poor. At the same time, it would enable the agriculture sector to transition to the production of more high value crops. There is already consensus in the economic cluster in the Duterte cabinet to remove the QR but the Department of Agriculture is still firmly against it.

DA gives in to meat processors’ demands By Jasper Y. Arcalas December 1, 2016

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has agreed to fast-track the issuance of import permits for meat processors after they com-plained about the department’s new rules, according to the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (Pampi). Pampi said the decision of the DA to prioritize its 35 members in the revalidation of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPS-ICs) would avert any increases in the prices of canned goods. “Of course, [the setup of a green lane] for our members would surely avert the shortage of meat products,” Pampi Executive Director Francisco Buencamino told the BusinessMirror. “He [Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol] said he would put up an express lane for Pampi members and that we have to submit to the DA the list of our members,” Buencamino added. He said Pampi members will no longer have to go through the “tedious” process of revalidating their SPS-ICs. “If you’re a Pampi member, your documents would not be scrutinized meticulously because you’re considered a legitimate importer.” Earlier, Buencamino said delays in the release of their shipments would result in additional costs, such as fees for replugging of frozen-meat containers. The additional costs incurred by importers due to delays in the delivery of raw materials to factories are usually passed on to Filipino consumers, Buencamino said.

“There were some containers that were held back. There are members who import just in time for their December operations, so we have to see what has been the effect of the one-week delay on some containers. We don’t have the final data,” he added. Piñol said the “green lane” is not only applicable to Pampi members but also other institutional importers, especially those importing perishable goods who have no record of engaging in smuggling. “They will still go through the usual procedures, but what we are saying is that the institutional importers should be given priority in the SPS-IC validation, especially if they don’t have any record of smuggling,” he told reporters in an interview on Thursday. The DA released on November 22 Memorandum Circular (MC) 5, which authorized the review of the validity of all SPS-ICs 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 Bureau of Customs (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 said, however, the DA will tweak their earlier proposal to inspect all shipments before the BOC evaluates the contents for tariffs. “We have a problem with that [AFTFU]. We cannot implement that because there’s no cold storage facilities within the Customs compound, therefore, we cannot open each container, because it might spoil the goods inside,” he said. “So, what will happen now is that we are just going to conduct a random checkup and follow the selected container up to the Customs-bonded warehouse for inspection,” Piñol added. The DA chief had assured consumers that the price and supply of holiday goods will be stable, despite the more stringent trade measures rolled out by the DA to stop the smuggling of agricultural products. Buencamino and his group lauded the efforts of the DA to stop smuggling, particularly technical smuggling. “The group hailed the efforts of the DA in the context of eliminating unscrupulous meat traders [during the meeting]. And we are willing to support the government to curb meat smuggling,” Buencamino said. “It was a very good meeting, all the problems raised were addressed,” he added. Pampi met with Piñol on Tuesday to discuss the problems with the implementation of the MC 5. During the meeting, Pampi proposed to Piñol the creation of the green lane for institutional importers.

Coca Cola commits $1-B investments By Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 2, 2016 - 12:00am

Coca-Cola Femsa, a Mexico-based company, plans to invest $200 million annually or a total of $1 billion over the next five years in its Philippine operations. AP file photo/Wilfredo Lee MANILA, Philippines - Coca Cola Femsa remains committed to grow its business in the Philippines under the Duterte administration. Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said he met with Coca Cola Femsa director general and CEO John Santa Maria yesterday and the beverage giant official assured the company’s continued investment in the country. Santa Maria had previously met with President Rodrigo Duterte on the sideline of the AsiaPacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting held in Lima last month. Coca-Cola Femsa, a Mexico-based company, plans to invest $200 million annually or a total of $1 billion over the next five years in its Philippine operations. “Gearing towards long-term investment and placing strong investor confidence in the Duterte administration, Coca-Cola Femsa’s capital infusion will go towards expanding and strengthening the company’s supply chain and commercial footprint throughout the country, therefore generating substantial employment and creating more micro-business opportunities,” Lopez said. “Objectives of this new commitment are in line with the government’s poverty alleviation and inclusive growth agenda,” he added.

Last year, Coca-Cola group president for Asia Pacific Atul Singh announced the beverage giant would be investing $1.2 billion up to 2020 to expand its facilities and beef up distribution and operations in the country. Singh said Coca-Cola has already invested $1.5 billion in the Philippines from 2010 to 2014. He said the investment enhanced its distribution network and created over 2,000 new jobs for Filipinos. The investment has also led to the expansion of the Coca-Cola Canlubang plant, increase in production of its Misamis Oriental plant, the rehabilitation of its plant in Tacloban, and the purchase of a manufacturing plant in Davao del Sur from San Miguel Corp. Coca-Cola has 19 plants in the Philippines and competes in seven different beverage categories locally. Trade Undesecretary Nora Terrado said the Coca Cola officials are in the country this week “to see what is happening in the Philippines.”‐cola‐commits‐1‐b‐investments                        

Maynilad sets 43-hour water supply cut in Quezon City By Louise Maureen Simeon, Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 2, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

In a briefing yesterday, Maynilad said the 43-hour service interruption will start at 8 p.m. on Dec. 5 and end at 4 p.m. on Dec. 7. Boy Santos/ MANILA, Philippines - Customers of Maynilad Water Services Inc. in Quezon City will experience an almost two-day water interruption starting on Dec. 5 as the firm replaces a valve in the area. In a briefing yesterday, Maynilad said the 43-hour service interruption will start at 8 p.m. on Dec. 5 and end at 4 p.m. on Dec. 7. The interruption will affect almost 300,000 customers in Barangays Apolonio Samson, Baesa, Bahay Toro, Bungad, Damayan, Del Monte, Katipunan, Mariblo, Paltok, Paraiso, San Antonio, Sangandaan, Talipapa, Tandang Sora and Veterans Village.Maynilad said it will take about 43 hours to stop the water flow along its 1,200-meter primary line along Tandang Sora Avenue, insert a line stopper to isolate the old valve and install a new valve before allowing the water to flow again. “We need to replace the valve, which has been there since 1980,� Maynilad water supply operations head Ronald Padua said. Maynilad advised its customers to store enough water for the duration of the interruption. Meanwhile, Maynilad will deploy 14 mobile water tankers that will deliver free water to affected customers.

Social entrepreneur offers the gift of Filipino dairy products By: Annelle Tayao-Juego - Reporter / @neltayao Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:10 AM December 02, 2016

Cavosora. Photos by Leo Sabangan If you’re looking to spread the love this holiday season, try giving the gift of butter—but not just any butter. Try the “all-Filipino” ones created by a new local creamery, which was put up thanks to one woman’s resolve to help build a stronger Philippine dairy industry, after she “fell in love” with her home country. Inspired by the work of Gawad Kalinga’s Tony Meloto, Marie Cavosora founded CalaBoo Creamerry, a social enterprise molded inside the GK Enchanted Farm in Bulacan, and created in partnership with the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC). The 46-year-old former corporate executive, who spent most of her life in the United States, jumped headlong into social entrepreneurship when she finally found The One—which, for her, was none other than the Philippines. “I am fortunate enough to have been given the chance to live the American dream, to scale the corporate ladder in the Big Apple,” said Cavosora, who recently launched CalaBoo in Makati City.

For over 20 years, Cavosora worked in various advertising and marketing positions for large companies such as Pepsi, IBM, Disney, Ikea, BBDO Worldwide, OgilvyOne and Kraft Foods. Her career took her to many places: Hong Kong, New York, California, Toronto, Singapore, Amsterdam. “But what I achieved outward eventually drove me inward, prompting my own ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ journey, from the heights of the Himalayas, to the jungles of Peru, and the mountains and beaches of Palawan—only to find myself falling deeply in love with my country. It’s a bit corny, but it’s true,” she said.

Calaboo’s products do not have extenders or preservatives Her sojourn to the Philippines ended with Cavosora’s permanent return to the country after meeting—and being inspired—by Meloto, whom she met almost two years ago after a common friend introduced them. “I blame Tito Tony Meloto—him, his vision. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for that,” said Cavosora. “I hadn’t even heard of GK when I met Tito Tony. But when he talked about finding purpose, meaning and passion, all these things resonated with me. Coming back to the Philippines, the true essence of home really hit me.” With those realizations, Cavosora decided to act on her newfound love of country; hence, the birth of Calaboo. She trained her focus on dairy, she said, because it’s one of her favorite kinds of food. “I love yogurts, butters, cheeses,” said Cavosora. “And when I first moved here in 2012, I couldn’t find really good dairy products. Everything was mass-produced, too sweet, rubbery.” In her quest to find dairy products of better quality, Cavosora learned that the Philippines’ local dairy industry was dominated by imports, which make up over 90 percent of the market.

Also, most of the milk, she noted, are of the powdered kind. “What ever happened to fresh milk? So with Calaboo, what we have here is something natural and locally made,” she said.

Aside from probiotic-rich butters (Boo la la Boo-tter, or European-style cultured butter; and the American-style Simply Boo-tter), Calaboo also creates yogurts (Yogi Boo, which comes in three flavors: Perfectly Plain, Coco Sweet, Honey Love), and cheeses (Keso Cariño, or the fresh cheeses, and Gourmet Keso, the aged variety), out of fresh carabao’s milk, with no extenders, preservatives or refined sugar. Thanks to Calaboo’s partnership with PCC, all their carabaos are fed nutritious varieties of grass such as napier and legumes, as well as fermented greens, ensuring their products’ nutritional edge over imports. Calaboo products can be pre-ordered online through and, as they are all freshly made and only have a two-week shelf life if not placed inside a refrigerator or freezer. (The butters can last up to six months if frozen.) “I work closely with the PCC. They really embody what it means to love one’s self, the country. The government gets a lot of flak, but when you see them on the ground, really working; they even work in the wee hours of the weekend! it keeps my faith in government,” said Cavosora, “I may be the founder, but I’m not the only owner of Calaboo. It’s all of us, working together.” These include the carabao farmers whom Cavosora strives to pay more. “Our products are premium because we make sure the money goes to the people who worked for it. If you have no problem spending over P100 on a cup of coffee, you should not have a problem buying yogurt that’s also over P100 that is good, and helps farmers and everyone who worked on it along the way,” she said. And because she wants Calaboo to inspire more Filipinos to “love local,” Cavosora said she was focused on keeping her products “relentlessly Filipino.”

“Even our packaging is local. We have to love local. You know what’s the saddest phrase I hear that is uttered with so much pride? ‘Export-quality.’ Think about it: don’t we, the locals, deserve quality? I want to keep the best for us. Filipinos deserve excellence,” she said. “The Filipinos are amazing. We’re all so loving, generous, resourceful—but we don’t see it. You know what makes [Calaboo] excellent? The people working with me. We’re building something together,” she said.

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Mining, LGU dealings to come under closer scrutiny–Dominguez By Rea Cu December 1, 2016 THE government has its eyes keenly trained on so-called extractive industries, such as mining, and recently ordered the monitoring of their contributions to the nation’s coffers via the electronic receipt and expenditure system, or eSRE. This developed after the Department of Finance (DOF) ordered local government treasurers to include in their financial reports all environment and natural-resource transactions, particularly payments made by mining and allied industries. According to the DOF, local treasurers should report on an annual and quarterly basis the fiscal and financial operations of their respective local government units (LGUs) through the eSRE. Under Department Order (DO) 049-2016, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III mandated local treasurers to include in their regular eSRE reports all payments made by extractive industries along with the detailed account of their share from the nation’s wealth and their expenditures using the receipts and collections. Other monetary and nonmonetary benefits received by LGUs from the extractive industries must also be included in their quarterly eSRE reports. “It’s high time for local treasurers to properly account for what the extractive and related sectors contribute to local economies, and how the local communities benefit from them and from the utilization of their natural resources,” Dominguez said. Under the new directive, local treasurers submit their reports through a Web-based environment and natural resources data-management tool (ENRDMT), a data management system associated with the eSRE system maintained by the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF). The eSRE is the official fiscal and financial-management reporting system for the LGUs to the DOF and BLGF. The Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PH-EITI) and the Philippines Poverty-Environment Initiative (PPEI), under the auspices of the United Nations Development Programme and the UN Environment Programme, has supported the development of the ENRDMT, according to BLGF Officer in Charge (OIC) Niño B. Alvina. Alvina said the BLGF, in coordination with the DOF and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), is leading the training and rollout of the new policy on the Web-

based reporting platform, which started on October this year. The previously issued DO 8-2011 of the DOF, mandated the official reporting and monitoring of all LGU fiscal and financial operations via the eSRE. Dominguez has directed local treasurers to include in their eSRE reports the following direct and nondirect payments made by the extractive industries to their LGUs, namely, local taxes, fees and other charges; receipts of shares from national wealth in their localities; expenditures of LGUs coming from receipts and collections from the extractive industries and shares from national wealth; and such other monetary and nonmonetary benefits received by LGUs from extractive industries and shares from national wealth. In recent reports, Dominguez ordered the imposition of penalties on local treasurers for the mishandling of government funds. He ordered the BLGF to dismiss from the service municipal treasurer Angelita Roble of Tudela, Cebu, and to suspend for one year without pay Local Treasury Operations Officer IV Marilou Rivera, OIC of the Office of the Provincial Treasurer in Misamis Oriental. Municipal treasurer Cherryl Aguirre of Valladolid, Negros Occidental, was also suspended for three months without pay, and municipal treasurer Rosita Siniclang of Emilio, Ilocos Sur, for one month and one day. The aforementioned was found guilty by the Ombudsman of serious dishonesty, and also being found guilty of oppression and neglect of duty, among others.

DA takes steps to boost local onion sector By Jasper Y. Arcalas December 1, 2016

In Photo: A farmer in Roxas, Isabela, shows off his onion harvest to visitors. The town of Roxas is known as the “pinakbet capital of the Philippines”. The Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Thursday it is rolling out a series of measures to strengthen the local onion industry and help farmers improve their competitiveness. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said these initiatives include the provision of government financing for a marketing agreement between local onion farmers and big supermarkets and restaurant chains. In a meeting with officials of the National Association of Onion Farmers, Piñol also made an assurance that the DA will implement a provision in the Food Safety Act of 2013 that requires the department to inspect all agricultural imports to protect domestic producers and consumers. “What we want to do is to make [onion farmers] more competitive so you can produce and earn more at current operating costs,” Piñol said.

He said the DA is also monitoring the operation of unscrupulous traders who dump excess onion imports into the local market during harvest, which causes farmers to incur losses as prices drop due to oversupply. Piñol said in a statement he met with the representatives of big supermarket and restaurant chains, like SM, Robinsons, Shakey’s, Jolibee, Shopwise, Savemore and Mindanao-based NCCC malls to finalize an agreement to buy directly from local onion farmers. He said the DA is ready to provide financing for the onion farmers so they can supply the supermarket and restaurant chains on credit. Piñol said he has instructed Agriculture Undersecretary Evelyn Laviña to work with the onion farmers’ group to determine the financing needed to implement the onion supply agreement. The DA chief also asked Laviña to train farmers in using marketing techniques, such as labeling of products. Piñol said the DA will expose farmers to new farming technologies and techniques to help them lower production costs and increase farm yields. He cited an offer of VietGrow, one of Vietnam’s biggest vegetable seeds producer and fertilizer manufacturer, to set up demonstration farms in North Cotabato, Southern Leyte, Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Ilocos Norte and Mindoro. Laviña said the DA will work with the local onion farmers to draw up a road map for the development of the onion industry from farming to post harvest production and marketing to improve their incomes and make them more competitive against imported onion. Piñol said the DA will provide all the post-harvest facilities that local onion farmers need to reduce losses, including the construction of cold storage facilities in the “onion belt” in Central and Northern Luzon and in Mindanao for onion bulbs. Image Credits: Leonardo Perante II‐takes‐steps‐to‐boost‐local‐onion‐sector/    

PHL agriculture sector seen growing by 5% to 6% in 2017 By Philippines News Agency December 1, 2016 THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it is expecting the agricultural sector to recover and grow by 5 percent to 6 percent in 2017, from this year’s estimated flat growth. “I am confident that we will grow. I would be targeting around 5 percent 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 Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said in an interview. Piñol said the sector is expected to post 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 period, breaking five consultative quarters of decline. The improvement of weather conditions allowed farmers to plant more crops. Agriculture has recovered from the prolonged drought caused by El Niño, which has dissipated in the third quarter of 2016. Piñol said the sector posted negative growths of 4 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. The DA has set a production-growth target of 3.5 percent for this year. Officials said they are banking on the livestock sector, as well as the government’s efforts to encourage farmers to plant hybrid rice to boost output. Earlier, the DA said the damage of El Niño to the country’s rice sector has not been as extensive as initially feared. The DA had projected that the prolonged dry spell will destroy 970,000 metric tons of rice.

Los Baños-based Irri marks 50th anniversary of rice variety’s release By BusinessMirror December 1, 2016 THE International Rice Research Institute (Irri) said it recently hosted a “Partners’ and Farmers’ Day” to mark the 50th anniversary of the release of the rice variety IR8. Officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA), led by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol, Undersecretary Segfredo R. Serrano, and Philippine Rice Research Institute Director Sailila Abdula attended the event. Irri said in a statement that over 350 farmers from the provinces of Batangas, Laguna, Quezon, Rizal and Oriental Mindoro joined the DA officials. IR8 was the first high-yielding variety released by Irri and is credited to have sparked the Green Revolution in rice in the 1960s to 1970s that saved Asia from mass starvation. Irri Principal Scientist Emeritus Peter Jennings, now in his 80s, traveled from North Carolina to join the celebrations in Los Baños, Philippines. “On a personal note, when people talk to me about IR8, my mind tends to go back earlier, to the very beginning of Irri: it was unknown then, without a track record. But it had two important qualities,” Jennings said. “First, Irri started with the audacious objective of improving rice yield and the wellbeing of farmers; second, it had a very small number of staff, but all very brilliant and excellent in what they did. That team came up with IR8, which laid the foundation for what had become a worldclass institution,” he added. In his speech, Piñol said it is important to benchmark the competitiveness of Filipino farmers in achieving food sufficiency for the country despite the challenges in the sector. The Philippine government, which supported hosting Irri in the country, is now the fourth biggest donor to the institute’s research. “Irri does not do anything alone; we work with our sister organizations in the CGIAR, and we work heavily in partnership with both public- and private-sector entities,” Irri Director General Matthew Morell. “We have strong support from nations and we are grateful for that support.”

Senior leaders from Irri and the Department of Agriculture took part in a ceremonial planting of IR8 seedlings in special plots at the Zeigler Experiment Station, while Deputy Director General for Research Jackie Hughes demonstrated the use of the labor- and time-saving mechanical transplanter. The event is the culmination of a global celebration that started in New Delhi, India, on November 21.

Climate Reality Project: Do something! Let’s talk cleaner energy posted December 02, 2016 at 12:10 am by ManilaStandard

An international organization has launched the “Let’s Talk Cleaner Energy” campaign in the Philippines, challenging Filipinos to consider cleaner alternative energy sources that can power the country. Climate Reality Project, a global, multi-sectoral alliance advocating grassroots participation in climate change issues, hosted discussions with the media to explore the vulnerabilities faced coal-dependent countries, like the Philippines. “If there is one thing that we should talk about, shouldn’t it be our future? The Philippines has had opinion leaders start conversations on climate change on the global platform, but we need to unify these voices back home and commit to change our nation’s course. I believe that is what we are doing today,” said Rodne Galicha, Climate Reality Project Philippines manager. He noted that elsewhere in the world, the movement for renewable power has been rapidly advancing. India has brought down the cost of solar energy, and successfully made it cheaper than coal-generated power. Galicha asserts it can be done in the Philippines. “We have hydropower, geothermal energy, solar energy, wind power, and biomass. These are already utilized in different parts of the Philippines, and still have great potential to expand in the coming years.” The Climate Reality Project Philippines manager likewise called on his audience to recognize the impact of shying away from the conversation on climate change. Galicha explained a threefold threat to the nation that only grows as it is delayed: the increasing rate of climate risk, the dependence on dwindling coal reserves, and the indifference of population accustomed to climate change.The afternoon’s discussions explored topics on falling air quality, resource contamination and their health impacts, disruption and catastrophe from changed climate patterns, and viable alternatives to climate change-inducing coal. These community and environment threats were illustrated through a video that featured Filipinos wearing masks that bore the names of the deadliest storms to hit the country in the recent decade. The video parted with the message: “You can do something. Let’s talk cleaner energy.” Climate realities and forecasts were also presented with key visuals to encourage the guests to join in the conversation about the future of the planet. At the end of the program, Climate Reality Project Philippines representatives made the symbolic gesture to fight climate change and coal-driven degradation by pushing a “stop the emission” button. The environmental advocates then removed their face masks and called on the audience, “Let’s talk cleaner energy.”

The “Let’s Talk Cleaner Energy” event is the one of the many initiatives from the Climate Reality Project Philippines. To know more about their cause and how to save the future of the planet, follow them at‐reality‐project‐do‐something‐let‐ s‐talk‐cleaner‐energy.html                                     

PWDs assured of tax relief; rules firmed up posted December 01, 2016 at 10:01 pm by Macon Ramos-Araneta and Maricel V. Cruz PEOPLE with disability and their families will be exempted from paying the value- added tax and other deductions following the issuance of the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 10754. Senator Sonny Angara, the sponsor of the bill what was enacted eight months ago, said the new law intended to ease the burden of people with disability. He made his statement even as Philippine Constitution Association president Martin Romualdez said Thursday he would see to it that all establishments will comply with the new law favoring the more than 1.5-million disabled people. “The fight has just begun. Our task now is to guarantee that all beneficiaries will fully enjoy the assistance that the law is offering,” Romualdez said.

EXPANDED BENEFITS. DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo (2nd right seated), National Council on Disability Affairs Executive Director Carmen Zubiaga (2nd left seated), and Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo (right seated) sign Thursday the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the law expanding the benefits and privileges of persons with disability authored by former Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez (2nd left standing), Pasay Rep. Emmi Rubiano-Calixto (3rd left standing), and Senator Sonny Angara (3rd right standing). With them are Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Romuladez (left standing), DSWD Undersecretary Florita Villar (right standing), Transport Undersecretary Anniely Lontoc (2nd right standing) and Tahanang Walang Hagdanan president Noli Agcaoili (left seated). Ver Noveno “We will work now for the immediate implementation of the law and make sure that all provisions are strictly followed.” RA 10754 exempts people with disability from paying the 12-percent VAT on land transportation, domestic air and sea travel, on the fees and charges for medical and dental services and medicines, on funeral and burial services, on the fees and charges in hotels,

restaurants and recreation centers, and on the admission fees in theaters, cinema houses, concert halls. The VAT exemption is on top of the 20-percent discount on certain goods and services that disabled people are already entitled to under the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons. Of the 1.5-million people with disability, only 30,000 are registered with PWD IDs and eligible to receive the benefits and privileges under the magna carta based on the 2014 data from the Philippine Registry for Persons with Disability of the Department of Health. Angara urged the government to intensify its information dissemination campaign and to streamline the process for the application of the PWD ID. “We must ensure that all disabled Filipinos are provided with the necessary assistance and opportunities that will help them develop their potential and become fully participative members of society,” he said.‐main‐stories/top‐stories/222972/pwds‐assured‐of‐tax‐ relief‐rules‐firmed‐up.html                            

SSS disburses P7.2b for 13th month benefit posted December 01, 2016 at 08:30 pm by Gabrielle H. Binaday State-run Social Security System said Thursday it disbursed P7.2 billion for the payment of 13th month benefit to its pensioners.SSS officer-in-charge of benefits administration division Normita Doctor said SSS pensioners under the social security and employees’ compensation programs, except those covered for partial disability whose pension duration was less than 12 months, were entitled to the 13th month benefit. Recipients of dependents’ pensions, such as the minor children of pensioners, will also receive a corresponding 13th month benefit. “Along with the early release of 13th month pensions, by the end of this year pensioners will also get their regular monthly pension for December in accordance with their contingency date. For instance, a pensioner who retired on July 19 will get his retirement pension for the month on Dec. 19,” she said.Doctor said the agency released the funds and checks for 13th month pensions to partner banks and to the postal office, respectively, as early as Nov. 14 so that pensioners could get their additional year-end benefits directly at their personal bank accounts or through checks sent via registered mail. “Patterned after the 13th month pay given to workers in time for Christmas, the SSS 13th month pension is equal to the regular monthly benefit received by SSS pensioners. We are happy to continue granting this extra benefit, which is a cherished yearly tradition of SSS that started back in 1988,” she said.SSS requested its partner banks to release the 13th month benefit ahead of the disbursement schedule for the regular December pensions. It also asked the Philippine post office to prioritize the delivery of the 13th month pension checks so that SSS pensioners would enjoy their cash benefits before Christmas. “The duration of check delivery depends on the recipient’s mailing address. Usually, it takes three to five days for Metro Manila and nearby areas, five to eight days for faraway Luzon provinces, and eight to 10 days for Visayas and Mindanao,” Doctor said.According to the pension fund, over 99 percent of more than 2 million SSS pensioners are registered under the SSS pension payment thru-the-bank program, which offers them a faster means of receiving their monthly cash benefit through direct disbursement to their designated bank account. “Meanwhile, less than one percent of SSS pensioners, typically those who reside in far-flung areas, requested SSS to instead send their regular and 13th month pensions as mailed checks due to certain conditions such as the lack of automated teller machines in their immediate vicinity,” she said.‐disburses‐p7‐2b‐for‐13th‐month‐ benefit.html  

Lopez, fishpen owners in dialog posted December 01, 2016 at 08:20 pm by Anna Leah E. Gonzales Environment Secretary Regina Lopez plans to talk to fishpen and fishcage operators in Laguna de Bay before the imposition of a moratorium on the issuance and renewal of their permits in January next year. Environment undersecretary Arturo Valdez said the dialog between Lopez and the fishpen and fishcage operators aimed to reassure the government’s commitment to providing small fisherfolk priority access to the 90,000-hectare lake.Valdez heads the National Anti-Environmental Crime Task Force that recently conducted demolition operations on a 13-hectare illegal fishpen in Laguna Lake falling within the jurisdiction of Muntinlupa City. “The thrust there is to send the message that the DENR, under Secretary Lopez, will rationalize the lake and the bias will be for the fisherfolk to have access to their traditional fishing ground,” Valdez said. “Secretary Lopez has made it very clear that the fisherfolk should enjoy the lake,” he said. He said the dialog was in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to dismantle vast tracts of corporate and private fishpens and fishcages so that small-time fisherfolk would have access to their traditional fishing ground. The lake’s current carrying capacity allows up to only 9,000 hectares for aquaculture, but fishpens and cages were occupying 12,375.18 hectares of the surface water, showing a total of 3,375 hectares of excess area for demolition. Valdez said the actual area could be bigger. “I would say it is more than that,” Valdez said. He said that the demolition “was to send a strong message” to the operators of illegal structures to self-dismantle before they enforced the president’s order to dismantle illegal aqua facilities by the second week of December. “We will give them all the chance to harvest their stock,” he said. Data from the Laguna Lake Development Authority showed there were a total of 1,018 registered or legitimate fish pen and cage operators in Laguna Lake, covering a total of 9,519 hectares. Of this number, 713 were fishcage operators, while 305 were fishpen operators. LLDA said there were 2,261 unregistered operators occupying 2,856 hectares.‐fishpen‐owners‐in‐dialog.html  

BSP’s auction undersubscribed posted December 01, 2016 at 08:10 pm by Julito G. Rada Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said the P180-billion auction of term deposits was undersubscribed Thursday because of the withdrawal of trust accounts from deposit facilities and as banks mainly held on to cash in preparation for the holidays. The undersubscription was the first time since the term deposit auction under the interest rate corridor system started in June. The total volume of term deposits offered Thursday was the biggest on record. Data posted on BSP website showed the week-long P30-billion deposits lured total tenders of P15.865 billion, with a weighted average accepted yield of 2.6 percent and a bid coverage ratio of 0.528 percent. Meanwhile, the month-long P150 billion deposits attracted total bids of P113.214 billion, with a weighted average accepted yield of 2.955 percent and bid coverage ratio of 0.754 percent. “There was undersubscription at auction today. Possible reasons include seasonality [banks holding on to cash for the holidays] and the withdrawal of trust accounts from BSP facilities. These may have brought down the bid to cover ratio to 0.5288 and 0.7548 for the 6-day and 27day tenor, respectively,” Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said in a text message. Tetangco assured that the level of liquidity in the financial system remained healthy and noninflationary. “We nevertheless remain watchful of external developments that may affect domestic liquidity thru shifts in capital flow direction and magnitude,” he said.‐s‐auction‐undersubscribed.html              

Climate-oriented dev’t to save millions from poverty By MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO, TMT on December 2, 2016 Top Stories   Tweet   MORE than 100 million people from Asia Pacific countries including the Philippines may fall into extreme poverty by 2030 without climate-oriented development in the region, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Unescap) warned. According to a working paper titled “The Economics of Climate Change in the Asia-Pacific Region”, this scenario will wipe out the gains in poverty reduction achieved over the last decades. “Without climate action, GDP in the region could decrease by as much as 3.3 percent by 2050 and 10 percent by 2100, relative to the base case,” the report said. “The economic costs associated with disasters across the region are also increasing. Damage to property, crops and livestock from disasters increased from $52 billion annually to over $523 billion between 1970 and 2015,” it added. Future losses from disasters are also measured in the report by the average annual loss (AAL) metric, which represents the amount countries should set aside each year to cope with future hazards. AAL estimates show that 18 countries in the Asia-Pacific region have a ratio of above 10 percent relative to social spending, and range up to 76 percent. PH in 3rd spot In third spot is the Philippines as its ratio of annual average losses relative to social expenditures stood at 69.12 percent or $7.893 billion. The report said the impact of hazards to the region are compounded by rising exposure of people and their assets. “Vulnerability is aggravated by low incomes and low adaptive capacity. The primary driver of increased exposure in developing countries has been rapid, unplanned development in hazardprone areas caused by rapid urbanization,” the report said. “This is a major issue in the Asia-Pacific region where the urbanization rate is expected to reach 50 percent in the next decade, up from the current 40 to 45 percent,” it said.

The report said another impact has been the large population displacements in the region. Out of the 19.2 million displaced by disasters in 2015, 84 percent occurred in the Asia-Pacific region. Fifteen countries in the region recorded displacements of more than 20,000 people in 2015.In the Philippines, new displacements in 2015 associated with disasters were estimated at 2.2 million, next to India (3.7 million), China (3.6 million), and Nepal (2.6 million). “More frequent extreme weather events associated with climate change are expected to increase the number of displaced people to an estimated 150 million to 200 million by 2050,” the study said. “The issue of climate-induced displacements promises to rank as one of the foremost human crises of our times,” it added.The report said the region’s impressive economic growth has lifted millions out of poverty. However, that growth has been carbon-intensive, and has not accounted for future costs from climate change. “Adopting the same carbon-intensive approach to drive the region’s future growth brings an unacceptable risk of dangerous and irreversible climate change,” the study said. “The Paris Agreement has converted the global climate aspirations into a universally agreed agenda with defined goals. Yet despite this progress, the anticipated costs of reducing emissions, along with the complexity and risks of enacting long-term policies to incentivize shifts towards low-carbon development, remain daunting for many countries,” it added. The report said that this is underscored by the emissions gap between the current climate pledges and those needed to achieve the Paris target. “It is estimated that Asia-Pacific countries will need to double their current levels of abatement ambition up to 2030 to close this gap,” it said. Investment in adaptation and resilience is critical given that a level of climate change is already locked in.The study also said that implementing carbon pricing of various forms at a national level can deliver an economically efficient way of reducing emissions as well as promoting longterm structural shifts in the economy to reduce emissions intensity. “Expanding the size of carbon markets across the region through linking will offer greater potential for cost-effective mitigation,” the report said. “Fossil fuel subsidies in many countries of the region are highly regressive and undermine efforts to increase the use of clean alternatives and energy efficiency,” it added.The report said that climate finance needs to be scaled up to meet the growing mitigation and adaptation efforts of developing countries in the region.‐oriented‐devt‐save‐millions‐poverty/299517/  

Govt aims to generate 7.2M jobs in 6 yrs By RAADEE S. SAUSA, TMT on December 1, 2016 Business   THE government said on Thursday intends to generate 7.2 million jobs within the next six years by filling in 1.2 million jobs a year in the construction, manufacturing and business process outsourcing industries Another sector the government is eyeing is aeronautics, according to Labor officials. “The government is open to 1.2 million jobs a year. That’s 7.2 million in the next six years,” Labor Secretary Silvestro Bello 3rd said during the Trabaho, Negosyo, Kabuhayan (TNK) Summit in Taguig City. For his part, Labor Undersecretary Dominador Say noted 1.2 million jobs a year could be achieved with the construction, manufacturing, aeronautics and information technology-business processing outsourcing IT-BPO as the main drivers. “We coordinate with other government and private industries if there are jobs available. So, we encourage OFWs [overseas Filipino workers]to just work here instead,” he said. Earlier, Ruth Castelo of the Construction Industry Authority of the Philippines noted the industry has been eyed as a top contributor to the government’s employment program. The industry intends to raise its share to the gross domestic product (GDP) in the coming years. “The current state of the construction industry is a boom. The industry contributes 3.3 percent to the GDP, but we want to increase it to 7 percent beginning 2017,” Castelo said. On the other hand, the manufacturing industry grew by 6.9 percent in the third quarter of 2016, up 5.8 percent a year earlier. The Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines sees the ITBPM sector generating up to $39 billion in revenue by 2022. The summit is wrapping up policy recommendations from previous sectoral summits to chart a new employment agenda in line with the administration’s development goal. The previous events included the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Summit, the Manufacturing Summit, the Construction Congress and the IT-BPM Conference. “We want to identify the strategies to increase employment levels, improve access to employment opportunities, and address our skills requirement,” said Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez.

The government, through the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Labor and Employment, gathered the public and private sectors and members of the academe to develop a national employment program to support the National Development and Security Strategy of the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022. The Trade chief encouraged the various industries to invest in job-generating activities in the tourism, construction, manufacturing, IT-BPM, and retail trade sectors.‐aims‐generate‐7‐2m‐jobs‐6‐yrs/299498/                                      

LGUs must report mining revenues – Finance By MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO, TMT on December 1, 2016 Business    

TREASURERS of local government units are now required to include in their  quarterly and annual financial reports to the Department of Finance (DOF) all  environment and natural resources revenues and expenditures, particularly  payments made by mining and other extractive industries to their respective local  governments.  In a statement on Thursday, the DOF explained that since 2011, local treasurers have been required to report to the DOF on a quarterly and annual basis the fiscal and financial operations of their respective LGUs through the electronic Statement of Receipts and Expenditure (eSRE) system. Under Department Order 049-2016, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd has mandated local treasurers to include in their regular eSRE reports, from here on, all payments made by extractive industries along with the detailed account of the shares from national wealth and their local governments’ expenditures using the receipts/collections from these businesses and from the development and utilization of national wealth. Other monetary and non-monetary benefits received by local governments from extractives industries must also be included in their quarterly eSRE reports to the DOF. “It’s high time for local treasurers to properly account for what the extractive and related sectors contribute to local economies, and how the local communities benefit from them and from the utilization of their natural resources,” Dominguez said. Under the new directive, local treasurers will submit their reports through a web-based Environment and Natural Resources Data Management Tool (ENRDMT), which is a data management system associated with the eSRE system that is being maintained by the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF). The said bureau is a DOF-attached agency, while the eSRE is the official fiscal and financial management reporting system for the LGUs to DOF. Local treasurers are required to prepare and submit their reports to the DOF and BLGF on a quarterly basis, and their consolidated annual reports at the end of each year.

The development of the ENRDMT was supported by the Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PH-EITI), and the Philippines Poverty-Environment Initiative (PPEI) under the auspices of the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Environment Programme, according to BLGF officer-in-charge Niño Alvina. The BLGF, in coordination with the DOF and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), is leading the training of trainers and rollout of the new policy on the webbased reporting platform from October this year to February 2017. Meanwhile, Department Order 8-2011 mandates the official reporting and monitoring of all local governments’ fiscal and financial operations via the eSRE.‐must‐report‐mining‐revenues‐finance/299494/                                  

Spain vows support to Duterte govt By The Manila Times on December 2, 2016 Top Stories   A top-level Spanish delegation reiterated Spain’s support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s 10point socioeconomic agenda and lauded the peace initiatives with insurgent groups as well as his campaign against illegal drugs. In a meeting with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd, the delegation led by Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Ignacio Ybanez Rubio relayed Spain’s interest in investing in projects on energy, infrastructure and telecommunications. They said Spain is “more than ready to cooperate with the Philippines” on the implementation of its big-ticket infrastructure projects, particularly in building railways and in the areas of transportation, energy and telecommunications. The members of the delegation also informed Dominguez of Spain’s “great interest” in Duterte’s programs, particularly his war against illegal drugs. Spain, they added, is also supportive of the Philippines’ peace process with insurgent groups. Ybanez said Spain wants to be more engaged in Asia. “This is a very clear determination from the government as a whole and from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry Commerce,” he added. The members of the delegation said they understood “very deeply” the Philippines’ concerns. “You can count on us on whatever you need,” Ybanez said. Dominguez, in turn, explained the Duterte administration’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda, which include accelerated spending on infrastructure, human capital development and social protection. The administration, he said, aims to slash poverty, promote a law-abiding society, and develop a country that is at peace with itself and with its neighbors. To attain economic growth to areas outside Metro Manila, he said government must increase its spending on power, agricultural productivity, roads, airports and connectivity, which amounts to infrastructure investments of $180 billion over the next six years. “The government is also allocating a huge amount of money to education and other social services,” Dominguez said. Under the 2013-2016 Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation, the Philippines is the only priority country of Spain in Asia. As of April this year, data from the National Economic and Development Authority show that Spanish Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Philippines amounted to $29.93 million.

Joining the meeting with Dominguez were Spanish Ambassador to Manila Luis Antonio Calvo Castano; Emilio De Miguel Calabia, Executive Director for the Pacific, Southeast Asia and the Philippines of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation; Ramon Maria Moreno Gonzalez, Director General of Casa Asia, and Pedro Pascual Fernandez, Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Embassy of Spain.

Agri dep’t food import inspections to be random Posted on December 02, 2016  THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it will have to resort to random checks of imported  foods instead of plans for a total inspection regime because of cold storage and personnel  constraints at ports of entry. 

Customs officials inspect a shipment of made in China Snickers bars at Manila port on Oct. 3,  2008, during a routine inspection. The Department of Agriculture said it will have to resort to  random checks of imported foods instead of plans for a total inspection regime because of cold  storage and personnel constraints. ‐‐ AFP  Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said apart from personnel issues, that the lack of cold  storage at Customs facilities limits the ability to conduct total inspection because some  shipments would spoil.    “We cannot follow all containers because we lack the personnel. So what will happen is we will  conduct random checks,” Mr. Piñol told reporters at the Department of Agriculture office on  Thursday.     The Secretary earlier announced plans to implement Republic Act 10611, or the Food Safety Act  of 2013, which requires 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.”    He added that Customs Commissioner Nicanor E. Faeldon has agreed with him to implement  the order.     In other developments, Mr. Piñol confirmed that he has allowed members of the Philippine  Association of Meat Processors, Inc. and other established regular importers with clean records  to use a fast lane to expedite the validation of their SPS permits. 

“We’ll still go through the usual procedures but the institutional importers should be given  priority if they have no record of smuggling,” said Mr. Piñol.    The DA last week issued an order that recalled all outstanding SPS permits in an anti‐smuggling  measure.     The agency has issued some 3,000 such permits in the past. It said that as of Nov. 25, it has  validated some 1,700 such documents. ‐‐ Janina C. Lim

VAT exemption for PWDs might stay with new IRR Posted on December 02, 2016  AUTHORS of the law expanding the benefits of persons with disabilities (PWDs) are optimistic  that the Department of Finance (DoF) would forego its plan to remove the value added tax  (VAT) exemption for the sector after yesterday’s signing of the implementing rules and  regulations (IRR) for Republic Act 10754.  “Based on our last dialogue with our finance authorities, they seem to be open to drop the  seniors and PWDs on their proposed list of exemptions that will be removed,” Senator Juan  Edgardo M. Angara, chair of the Senate committee on ways & means and one of the law’s  authors, said in a statement.    The IRR for RA 10754, the Act Expanding the Benefits and Privileges of PWDs, is expected to  take effect before Dec. 25. It provides, among others, VAT exemptions for recreational,  medical, educational and travel fees.    In a separate statement, Senate Minority Leader Ralph G. Recto, the PWD law’s principal  author, said the signing of the IRR is the “strongest indicator that the administration’s plan to  revoke certain tax‐free privileges of PWDs will no longer push through.    Mr. Recto said: “I think this IRR seals the fate of PWD discounts as a protected provision that  will not be taken away. Because what is the use of granting this privilege today only to take it  back tomorrow?”    With the IRR, PWDs can enjoy the 12% VAT exemption on transportation, medical services,  medicines, funeral and burial services, restaurants, and recreational facilities such as hotels,  cinema, amusement and cultural parks.    It further grants a P25,000 annual income tax deduction to relatives, within the fourth degree  of consanguinity, who care for and live with a PWD.    These benefits are an addition to the 20% discount on certain goods and services provided for  by the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons.    Under the DoF’s tax reform plan, the VAT base would be expanded by removing exemptions, 

such as those given to PWDs, to offset the foregone revenue from lowering personal income  tax rates.    The exemptions for essentials such as raw food, medicine and education would be retained and  the DoF is proposing targeted cash transfers to senior citizens and PWDs.    BY CHRISTMAS  At yesterday’s ceremonial signing, Social Welfare Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo said they plan to  publish the IRR soon, so it will be in effect by Christmas. The IRR’s effectivity comes 15 days  after publication in national newspapers.    “This is an early Christmas gift we can give to our persons with disability,” said Ms. Taguiwalo in  her speech.    Former Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez (1st district), who filed the House of  Representatives version of the law, said: “This is an equalizing measure because this will accord  PWDs exactly the same privilege enjoyed by senior citizens who are exempted from the VAT.”    Mr. Romualdez was present at the signing along with Mr. Angara.    Data from the Philippine Registry for Persons with Disability of the Department of Health show  that as of 2014, there were 1.4 million PWDs in the Philippines, but only 300,000 are registered,  with PWD IDs, and are eligible to receive the benefits and privileges provided for by the RA and  the Magna Carta. ‐‐ Lucia Edna P. de Guzman and Raynan F. Javil

By Carmelito Q. Francisco Correspondent

ARMM ecozones planned to legalize barter trading, for halal hub Posted on December 02, 2016  DAVAO CITY ‐‐ Special economic zones (ecozones) are being eyed in the island provinces  under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), partly to legalize the  continuing barter trading with neighboring countries, said ARMM Gov. Mujiv S. Hataman.  “The main purpose in the setting up of these economic zones is for us to be able to legalize  barter trading,” Mr. Hataman told a group of journalists Tuesday evening, refering to the  exchange of goods, which do not get taxed, through the so‐called backdoor areas in the region.    At the senior officials meeting of the Brunei‐Indonesia‐Malaysia‐Philippines East ASEAN Growth  Area (BIMP‐EAGA) in Puerto Princesa in Palawan this week, the Philippines identified two  potential freeport ecozones within the ARMM, one of them in Tawi‐tawi, and the other in  either Basilan or Sulu.    Mr. Hataman said the traditional barter trading has been economically advantageous to the  three provinces, given their proximity to Sabah in Malaysia and Manado in Indonesia.    “So what must be done now is to set up a legal one by setting up economic zones,” he said,  noting that there is an existing policy allowing a private company or a government entity to  apply for the conversion of at least 50 hectares of land into an ecozone.    Ishak V. Mastura, ARMM‐Board of Investments (BoI) head, said setting up these two ecozones  will also provide a focal point for economic development and allow these island provinces to  grow faster.    “We hope that our proposal for the establishment of special economic zones in the region,  possibly with Malaysian investors, can ease cross‐border trade restrictions and provide for  more secure cross‐border channels,” Mr. Mastura said.    He noted that with the Philippine chairing the BIMP‐EAGA next year, it would be an opportune  time to give a boost to cross‐border trading. 

The ARMM‐BoI also recently released a statement quoting President Rodrigo R. Duterte as  saying that “the establishment of special economic zones and the revival of the BIMP‐EAGA  trade and investment groupings” are among the pillars of his Mindanao economic development  strategy.    POLLOC PORT  Meanwhile, Mr. Hataman said the regional government is also looking into developing the  Polloc Port in Maguindanao, which is adjacent to the Polloc Freeport and Ecozone, into a hub  for halal products.    “It is always credible if a Muslim place becomes a halal hub... because of the belief that the  locators process their products in adherence to the halal rules,” he said.    Halal is an Islamic practice that mandates adherence to lifestyle regulations, not just in food  processing.

Following BIS rules made RP banking system strong Written by  Ed Velasco   Friday, 02 December 2016 00:00   Banks in the Philippines have become capitally stronger and more competitive with other countries because of adherence to the rules and guidelines stipulated by the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said. The BSP said membership of the agency to BIS makes its ability to supervise and govern banks stricter, thus setting the pace to make them follow rules practiced globally, said Nestor Espenilla, deputy governor of the central bank’s supervision and examination sector. “Aligning with BIS guidelines primarily makes the capital figures of our banks more internationally comparable and therefore more credible and meaningful to outside analysts especially when our banks report numbers that exceed these standards,” the deputy governor told the Daily Tribune. BSP earlier said allowing them to follow rules set by BIS is one of the most important provisions of the General Banking Law, a rule that enables BSP to prompt all banks regardless of classification to mandate two more types of capital for them. Espenilla said the BIS is not a regulator but a “unique international financial institution” whose members have option to follow the rules it will set depending on the capability of the banks they supervise. “It acts as a banker to central banks that want its service,” Espenilla said. He said the GBL, enacted in 2000, was a very important landmark ratification that puts where the country’s banking system at right now. Because of GBL, the Philippine banking system is very liquid and financially durable in general, with total resources amounting to over P8 trillion. This amount is more than the gross domestic product of the Philippines at around P7 trillion a year. In general, according to BSP, banks play akey role to economy as it provides loans to businesses wanting to expand or diversify. Banks are also mandated to accept deposits of the public which also contributes to the country’s good savings rate.

Health package to benefit moms with premature babies Written by  Tribune Wires   Friday, 02 December 2016 00:00   Health benefit packages, designed with the support of United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), will help address some 300,000 premature and small newborn cases every year. The Department of Health (DoH) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), along with the World Health Organization and Unicef, have launched the new benefit packages. Complications from preterm birth and low birth weight account for more than one million newborn deaths a year. Countless other babies survive and suffer lifelong physical, neurological, or educational disability. In the Philippines, almost half of children who die before their fifth birthday are newborns. Of those babies who die, 60 percent succumb to complications brought about by prematurity and low birth weight. An estimated three-quarters of these preterm babies could survive if they had access to costeffective interventions. Because of critical socio-economic disparities, however, these interventions remain inaccessible to many. By the end of the year, the PhilHealth benefit package for premature and small babies can be availed of in selected contracted government and private tertiary health facilities by all PhilHealth members. According to Unicef country representative Lotta Sylwander, “We see this policy as a gamechanger which could help the country in further lowering child mortality. Unicef will continue to work with government partners to ensure its proper implementation and increase its availability for all Filipino mothers and children.” The package covers a broad range of interventions from management of preterm labour to addressing severe complications of prematurity and low birth weight. Examples of these include giving antenatal corticosteroids for pregnant women at risk of giving birth to premature baby, incentive for maternal transfer to the nearest referral facility while the baby is still inside, Unang Yakap at birth, Kangaroo Mother Care, neonatal intensive care and breastfeeding support. Unicef provided DoH and Philhealth with technical assistance to craft these benefit packages, ensuring that the process is consultative, evidence-informed and equity-focused.

2016 12 02 quedancor daily news monitor  
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