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Coconut farmers willing to withdraw petition vs coco levy EOs By Louise Maureen Simeon ( | Updated January 11, 2017 - 7:44pm 1 66 googleplus0 0

The coco levy fund amounting to P75 billion were taxes imposed on coconut farmers mandated by Presidential Decree 755 in 1975. File MANILA, Philippines — The country’s coconut farmers are set to withdraw their petition filed before the Supreme Court (SC) which resulted in a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the utilization of the P75-billion coconut levy fund. The Confederation of Coconut Farmer’s Organizations of the Philippines (CONFED) has announced that they are willing to take the necessary steps to withdraw their petition, which was said to be directed against the previous administration. "We believe that we have at last a government that means business for the benefit of coconut farmers and the development of the industry. We are willing to withdraw our petition before the court to give PCA (Philippine Coconut Authority) a freer hand in governance," CONFED executive director and spokesperson Charlie Avila said. The coco levy fund amounting to P75 billion were taxes imposed on coconut farmers mandated by Presidential Decree 755 in 1975. The taxes were supposed to be used for the construction of projects designed for the benefit of coconut farmers but were instead used to buy a large percentage of the bank now known as the United Coconut Planters Bank under Danding Cojuangco.

Avila noted that the CONFED has full support and trust to the current administration as to the disposition and PCA’s legal mandate to manage the fund for the development of the local industry. "Our government then may not now just do with the funds as it pleases because the funds do not belong to the general funds. They are special funds. Nor even can the farmers claim the funds in an absolute sense of ownership to do with as they please because these funds that came from them are still theirs only for a given purpose. The precise nature of these funds is therefore one of dual ownership," Avila explained. In 2015, the SC has stopped the implementation of Executive Orders (EO) 179 and 180 of former President Benigno Aquino III aimed at managing the coco levy fund. EO 179 provides for the inventory, privatization and transfer coco levy assets in favor of the government. EO 180, meanwhile, mandates the transfer of the fund to the government for an "Integrated Coconut Industry Roadmap Program." "The coconut industry is one of the major industries that support the national economy. It is the state’s concern to make it strong and secure source not only of the livelihood of a significant segment of the population, but also export earnings the sustained growth of which is one of the imperatives of economic stability," CONFED Chairman Efren Villasenor said. Meanwhile, PCA Administrator Avelino Andal welcomed the decision of the coconut farmers to withdraw their petition. "I am extremely happy for the coco farmers and the industry that it serves with the development that one of the seemingly major stumbling block to the early disposition of coco levy fund is hopefully and finally resolved with the CONFED declaration of withdrawal of the TRO," Andal said. "With this development, President Duterte can now dispose without much legal impediment considering that he promised the electorate, the farmers in particular, that he will release the coco levy fund," he added. Furthermore, Avila emphasized that the fund must be regarded as public trust funds because they were the result of taxation. The CONFED is the unified group of coconut farmers’ organizations nationwide which is composed of the Philippine Association of Small Coconut Farmer’s Organizations, the Pambansang Koalisyon ng mga Samahang Magsasaka at Manggagawa sa Niyugan and the Coconut Producer’s Federation. It represents more than 95 percent of the organized coconut farmers sector in the country.

PCA sees early release of coco-levy fund By Jasper Y. Arcalas January 11, 2017

A stumbling block to the immediate release of the P75-billion coconut levy fund, which can be used to bankroll programs to help farmers, will soon be removed, according to the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA). PCA Administrator Avelino Andal made the statement after the Confederation of Coconut Farmers’ Organization of the Philippines (Confed) has agreed to withdraw its petition before the Supreme Court (SC) to halt the release of the coco-levy fund. “One of the seemingly major stumbling blocks to the early disposition of coco-levy fund is hopefully and finally resolved with the Confed’s declaration of withdrawal of the petition for a temporary restraining order [TRO],” Andal said in a statement. He said Confed’s decision was made after he and the group’s representatives agreed on what needs to be done to help farmers and develop the coconut industry. “With this development, President Duterte can now dispose without much legal impediment, considering that he promised the electorate, the farmers in particular, that he will release the coco-levy fund in 30 days,” Andal said. Charlie Avila, executive director and spokesman of Confed, said the petition they made was directed against the previous administration “for reasons quite publicly discussed.” Avila added that the current administration has Confed’s support.

“We, in Confed, believe that we have at last a government that means business for the benefit of coconut farmers and the development of the industry. We are willing to withdraw our petition before the Court to give PCA a freer hand in governance,” Avila said. The Presidential Commission on Good Government disclosed that the coco-levy fund that was collected from coconut farmers from 1973 to 1982 has increased to P75 billion. Avila said Confed believes that the PCA has the legal mandate to manage the fund as part of its job to oversee the coconut industry. In September last year, Malacañang ordered the Department of Agriculture (DA) to file a bill that would expedite the release of the P75-billion coco-levy fund to help farmers fight cocolisap or coconut-scale insect infestation. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said President Duterte instructed him and Presidential Liaison Officer Adelino B. Sitoy to work with Congress to fast-track the passage of the measure. In end-November, after assuming office, Andal urged lawmakers to fast-track the consolidation of bills for the passage of a law for the handling of the coconut-levy fund. Andal said he is hopeful that the P75-billion fund would be released by March this year. Confed filed a petition before the SC in May 2015 seeking the nullification of Executive Orders (EO) 179 and 180 that dwell on the inventory and privatization, as well as the reconveyance and utilization, of coco-levy assets, respectively. Avila said the EOs would result to a new plunder of coco-levy funds. The SC ruled in favor of Confed, issuing a TRO in the use, control and release of the P75-billion coco-levy fund. The TRO in favor of Confed orders the halting of EO 179 (Providing the Administrative Guidelines for the Inventory and Privatization of Coco Levy Assets) and EO 180 (Providing the Administrative Guidelines for the Reconveyance and Utilization of Coco Levy Assets for the Benefit of the Coconut Farmers and the Development of the Coconut Industry) both issued on March 18, 2015.

PCA official eyes lifting of TRO on coconut levy disbursement By: Ronnel W. Domingo - @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:28 AM January 12, 2017

The chief of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) expects the scrapping of the temporary restraining order on the disbursement of the coco levy fund as farmers groups have expressed intention to withdraw their petition filed in the Supreme Court. PCA Administrator Avelino Andal Wednesday said representatives of the Confederation of Coconut Farmer’s Organizations of the Philippines (Confed) told him in a recent meeting that they were willing to take the necessary steps to withdraw their petition that prompted the issuance of the TRO. “I am extremely happy for the coconut farmers and the industry that one of the seemingly major stumbling block to the early disposition of the coco levy fund is, hopefully, finally resolved with the Confed declaration of withdrawal of its petition,” Andal said. Andal said he and Confed representatives came to an agreement on what needs to be done for the benefit of all the coconut farmers. “With these development, President Duterte can now dispose without much legal impediment considering that he promised the electorate, the farmers in particular, that he will release the coco levy fund in 30 days,” the official added. In September, Sen. Francis Pangilinan—who chairs the Senate committee on agriculture and food—said the money and assets collected from farmers from 1973 to 1982 had reached P75.4 billion, citing data from the Presidential Commission on Good Government.

Pangilinan has filed the proposed Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act, which he described as a repackaging of the Coco Levy Trust Fund bill that failed to pass in the previous Congress. He said the bill “proposes a complete accounting and inventory of the coco levy assets” and their conversion into “a perpetual trust fund that will be used for the development of the coconut industry without using the principal.” In June 2015, the Supreme Court issued a TRO—effective until further orders—against the implementation of Executive Orders Nos. 179 and 180. EO 179 requires the inventory and privatization of all coconut levy assets—pegged then at P74.3 billion—as well as their and reconveyance in favor of the government. EO 180 also mandates the immediate transfer of these assets to the government, and further designates its use spelled out in the Integrated Coconut Industry Roadmap and the Roadmap for Coco Levy.

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DA eyes Phl rubber for condoms By Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 12, 2017 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus0 0

The Philippine Rubber Research Institute (PRRI) said the DA, to which it is attached, is conducting feasibility studies on the possible construction of a manufacturing plant that would produce latex-based medical products, particularly condoms. AP MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) is conceiving a plan to boost the Philippine rubber industry’s ho-hum performance – by enticing investors to put up factories to produce condoms locally. The Philippine Rubber Research Institute (PRRI) said the DA, to which it is attached, is conducting feasibility studies on the possible construction of a manufacturing plant that would produce latex-based medical products, particularly condoms. “We need to look for potential investors for condom manufacturing because we do not have one here (in the Philippines). All the products that we use are coming from other countries such as Malaysia and Thailand,” PRRI executive director Rodolfo Galang said. While the Philippines is undeniably a conservative country, Galang said the plan should be looked into from a business standpoint and consider potential economic benefits, such as job generation. “There is a huge potential. It would help lower population growth and on the economic side, instead of importing the product we would have our own production,” he pointed out. Galang is yet to quantify the investment needed for the plant, as well as the value it would translate to. He said producing the products would only have minimal rubber requirement, as a majority or about 70 percent of global production of natural rubber go into tires.

While the plan is still in the early stage, Galang targets a two-year timeline to finish feasibility studies. “It is also part of our roadmap, which is mainly to increase rubber production,” he said. He noted there is a market for the new plan, considering the decreasing price of the raw material in the past years. “The strategy of international rubber associations is to increase the local consumption of rubber producing countries, meaning put up more manufacturing plants for different products,” Galang said. He said the country’s P12-billion rubber industry remains underdeveloped compared with other ASEAN countries, such as Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. “Even if we have more production, their industry is more developed because they do not sell their raw materials. Their manufacturing industries develop it,” he said. This is also due to inadequate supply of quality planting materials, deterring efforts in production expansion, low productivity and poor handling, resulting in low-quality rubber. Galang added that poor rural infrastructure, less investments from private and public sectors and lack of marketing and promotional initiatives in the global market also affect the lagging performance of the country’s rubber industry.‐eyes‐phl‐rubber‐condoms                  

Gina questions motive behind complaint against her By Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 12, 2017 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines – Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has questioned the motive of a group that filed criminal and administrative complaints against her before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with her alleged inaction over the supposed anomalous purchase of air quality monitoring equipment. In a statement sent to reporters on Tuesday, Lopez said she suspects a top official of the United Filipino Consumers and Commuters (UFCC) had a hand “in a campaign to find fault” against her and her department. The UFCC filed the complaint against her and three other officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. “Why these unfounded allegations are brought to fore when I decide to break relationship with Dr. Mike Aragon because of unkept promises? And if so, what is his real agenda here?” Lopez said. Aragon is the vice president of UFCC. “One should question what Dr. Aragon’s motives are and who is funding this campaign to find fault where there is none,” Lopez said‐questions‐motive‐behind‐complaint‐ against‐her                

Awash with cash, banks line up for BSP’s term deposit offering Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:34 AM January 12, 2017

As funds returned to banks after the holiday season, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) term deposit facility (TDF) auction Wednesday attracted tenders that exceeded the total offering by over a fifth. For the P30 billion in seven-day term deposits offered by the BSP, a total of P49.208 billion was tendered. The BSP fully awarded the one-week facility at a yield of 33.0995 percent. As for the P150 billion in 28-day TDF, bids reached P172.051 billion. The yield for the one-month term deposits was within the range of 2.6-3.4875 percent. “We continue to see oversubscription on both tenors as funds go back to the banking system after the holidays. We noticed the decrease in average rates for both tenors from last week’s auction (seven-day to 3.0465 percent from 3.0722 percent; 28-day to 3.357 percent from 3.3778 percent) as banks try to invest their excess funds,” BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. said in a text message to reporters. The BSP will again offer the same amount of term deposits on Jan. 18 and 25. Tetangco noted that “there continues to be demand for the shorter-dated papers,” which “was also reflected in the oversubscription and tap of the three-year bond auction by the Bureau of the Treasury.” Tetangco was referring to the Treasury’s offering also on Wednesday of the over-thecounter or tap facility for P15 billion in new T-bonds amid strong demand for the debt paper during Tuesday’s auction.

The Treasury’s first auction for 2017 was twice oversubscribed, as tenders reached P37.238 billion for the initial P15 billion. It was eventually awarded a rate of 3.364 percent. —BEN O. DE VERA

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7 ex-Davao agri execs indicted Philippine Daily Inquirer / 04:35 AM January 12, 2017

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the filing of graft charges against former officials of the Department of Agriculture for not conducting a bidding for three projects funded by the pork barrel of Davao Oriental Rep. Joel Almario in 2005. Former executive director Roger Chio, finance chief Alma Mahinay, and administrative officer Godofredo Ramos face four counts of graft. Former technical director Romulo Palcon and agricultural engineering chief Onofre Nugal face three and two counts of graft, respectively. Former chief agriculturist Jamie Bergonio and administrative officer Isagani Basco face one count each.—VINCE F. NONATO

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Rescued ‘sacadas’ blame ‘contractualization’ scheme for ‘slave labor’ By Jonathan L. Mayuga January 11, 2017 Rescued Hacienda Luisita sugar-plantation workers from Mindanao on Wednesday blamed the “contractualization” scheme for the “slavery” that continue to victimize landless farmers in agricultural plantations. A group of sugar plantation workers, or sacadas, joined protests, led by the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and the All Workers Unity (AWU), before leaving Manila to return to their home town in Mindanao. Rescued by members of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), the sacadas vowed to file criminal raps against their contractors and employers, Greenhand Labor Service Cooperative, Agrikulto Inc. and Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) for human trafficking once they return to Bukidnon. The rescued sacadas claimed to receive a measly P10 a day for a hard day’s work, which starts in the break of dawn. Their job is to harvest sugarcane and load them to waiting trucks to be brought to a nearby sugar mill. They were hired as contractual employees only to find out that they will be working under harsh conditions. One of the workers who was sent back home died of illness which was aggravated by the poor working condition as a sacada. Sacadas are seasonal workers contracted to harvest sugarcanes by the sugarcane plantation owners in the Visayas and Luzon. Fed up with their “slave-like” working condition, they sought the help of UMA to file appropriate charges against their employers and recruiters. UMA Secretary-General Danilo Ramos, who accompanied the first batch of sacadas back to Mindanao, joined the leaders of KMU and AWU in condemning the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) new Department Order (DO) 168. “The sacadas were subjected to worst forms of exploitation and contractualization in Hacienda Luisita. This new DO 168 does nothing to end contractualization. Instead, it glosses over liabilities of despicable contractors,” Ramos said.

According to Ramos, “modern-day slavery” is technically legitimized by such DOLE orders. In effect DO159, or the Guidelines for the Employment of Migratory Sugar Workers, which was signed on June 22, 2016, and reinforced by DO 168 institutionalizes labor-only contracting, unfair deductions and daily pay way below the minimum wage. “These orders are rather puny attempts by the DOLE to make it appear that they are protecting sacadas majority if not all of migratory sugar workers are paid below the wage rates of local workers who also receive meager pay,” Ramos said.‐sacadas‐blame‐contractualization‐scheme‐for‐slave‐labor/                                  

DA seeks more investors in PHL rubber industry By BusinessMirror January 11, 2017 To expand the Philippine rubber industry, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said is currently on the lookout for investors who can manufacture other rubber-based materials, such as condoms. Philippine Rubber Research Institute (PRRI) Executive Director Rodolfo L. Galang said the Philippines is “a viable and healthy market” for condom manufacturers. The PRRI is an attached agency of the DA. “We need to look for an investor, a condom manufacturer, because we don’t have such in the country. We have a big population and all of our condoms are being imported from Malaysia and Thailand,” Galang told reporters in an interview on Tuesday. “There’s really a potential for such market here. Actually, we even have a program wherein the Department of Health is distributing condoms, and still we are importing the condom products,” he added. Galang said the country needs a plant that would process latex, a material needed in manufacturing condom. Citing PRRI data, he said there are currently 25 natural rubberprocessing plants in the country, which mostly cater to tire manufacturers. If the DA succeeds in jump-starting a local condom manufacturing industry, then it would generate more jobs and help control the country’s population growth, Galang said. “And economically speaking, instead of importing the product, we would have now our own locally produced ones. We would earn more,” Galang said. He said other rubber-producing countries have put up various processing and manufacturing plants as a strategy to control the price of rubber. “Because the price of rubber has dropped in the past four years, the strategy of the members of the Association of Natural Rubber-Producing Countries [ANRPC] is to increase local consumption. Meaning, putting up more manufacturing plants for different products,” he said. Galang also said the government is scouting for potential investors who can manufacture healthrelated products, such as medical gloves and catheters, as well as household gloves.

“The feasibility study on these might take long, but we are hopeful that by 2019 we could already attract potential investors,” Galang said. Galang added that the local rubber industry is underdeveloped compared to those in other Asian countries despite the fact that the Philippines produces more rubber. “Our rubber industry is underdeveloped compared to Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. They have a more developed industry, particularly their manufacturing industries,” Galang said. “They do not sell raw rubber anymore in their local market and they are even importing raw materials outside,” he added. Citing data from ANRPC, Galang said the Philippines’s rubber production in 2016 grew by 10 percent to 110,000 metric tons (MT), from 100,000 MT recorded in 2015. “We are producing enough for our yearly requirement, around 110,000 MT a year, but our consumption, according to our data, is only around 30,000 MT,” he said. Galang the remaining figure–around 80,000 MT—was exported to Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, and China. Galang said added that he expects the country’s rubber production to grow by at least 2 percent this year. “There would be greater harvest coming from the plantations, which have matured already, those were planted in 2010 and 2011.” “But still, we have to replant more because there are old plantations, let’s say around 50,000 hectares that need replanting. These plantations have very low productivity that’s why we are looking at an intensified replanting activity,” he added. Galang said the PRRI is targetting to replant rubber in 15,000 hectares of plantations this year.‐seeks‐more‐investors‐in‐phl‐rubber‐industry/          

Massive mangrove planting seen to strengthen E. Visayas coastal areas 21 SHARES Share it! Published January 11, 2017, 10:01 PM by Restituto A. Cayubit Tacloban City – The massive mangrove plantation initiated by the government will strengthen the protection of the coastal areas in Eastern Visayas against the rise of sea water or storm surge due to strong typhoons. DENR-8 Regional Director Leonardo Sibbaluca told reporters in an interview that more coastlines in Eastern Visayas will be planted with mangroves as the Secretary Regina Paz “Gina” L. Lopez of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is pushing for a massive mangrove plantation nationwide.

Mangrove and beach planting in Tacloban City. (Restituto A. Cayubit | Manila Bulletin) Lopez in her recent visit to this city told reporters in an interview that she is pushing for a mangrove plantation in coastal areas suitable for mangrove growing nationwide to protect the coastal communities from the rising of sea water or storm surges during the occurrence of strong typhoons. The DENR chief cited the protection given by mangroves on coastal communities, saying that “during typhoons the best protection is the mangrove.” Sibbaluca said the massive mangrove plantation establishment in Eastern Visayas is to strengthen the degraded mangrove forests along coastlines and make coastal communities less

vulnerable to future destruction of more intense typhoons or extreme weather occurrences and the effects of climate change. The government earlier allotted P1 billion for the mangrove reforestation and beach forest rehabilitation nationwide on top the P6.2-billion budget allotted for the country’s National Greening Program. Sibbaluca told reporters that his office is in the process of evaluating and assessing all areas and establish more mangrove plantations in places suited for mangrove growing in the region. New areas that will be found suited for the new proposed mangrove plantation establishment will be an additional to the previous targeted areas for mangrove plantation establishment in Eastern Visayas. He, however, declined to give the number of hectares for this new additional and proposed mangrove plantation establishment because his office is still to “evaluate and assess the suitable areas for mangrove planting.� Records show that that DENR-8 launched the R380-million Eastern Visayas mangrove and beach forest rehabilitation project on April 22, 2015, with the target to plant 13,500 hectares of mangrove and beach forest areas along Leyte Gulf areas. The project covers the coastal areas from Tacloban City to the town of Abuyog including the municipalities of Palo, Tan-auan, Tolosa, Dulag, Mayorga, Javier, and Macarthur, in Leyte; while for the provinces of Samar and Eastern covers the towns of Basey and Marabut, in Samar; and the municipalities of Lawaan, Balangiga, Giporlos, Salcedo, Guiuan, Hernani, and Llorente all of Eastern Samar.

Laviña to blacklist incompetent contractors 100 SHARES Share it! Updated January 12, 2017, 9:37 AM By Philippine News Agency The National Irrigation Administration will inspect thoroughly its dams and other irrigation infrastructures to check on their structural integrity and safety following earthquakes and typhoons.

PHOTO: Grabbed from Philippine Rural Development Project | Manila Bulletina This was the statement made by NIA Administrator Peter Tiu Laviña during the 3rd day of the National Planning Conference of the agency held at NIA Central Office on Wednesday. In one of his interviews, the Irrigation Chief called on the inspection nationwide to ensure the safety of the irrigation systems and communities near and around NIA facilities. “I will order that the construction of NIA projects should adhere to strict quality standards”, he said. He noted that he would not hesitate to suspend contractors who use substandard materials or deviate from the designs of the infrastructure projects. Laviña admitted that there were some contractors who started courting him for future projects in the agency but he insisted the strict compliance to the rules and requirements of public bidding must always be observed.

“Kelangan po qualified kayo, pangalawa kelangan sumali kayo sa bidding. Pag-aralan niyo yung project para talagang yung bid ninyo ang mananalo”, he told contractors. Laviña also called on NIA projects to be disaster-resilient to prevent the recurrent restoration, repair, and rehabilitation of typhoon-damaged irrigation facilities. Tags: dams, irrigation infrastructures, Manila Bulletin, National Irrigation Administration, safety. earthquakes, structural integrity, typhoons‐to‐blacklist‐incompetent‐contractors/                                    

Labor group urges gov’t to establish lending program Published January 11, 2017, 10:00 PM by Samuel P. Medenilla Cash-strapped small business owners may end up as collateral damage in the government’s war against the “5-6” system if it fails to implement a replacement for the illegal money lending scheme, according to a labor group. In a statement, Partido Manggawa (PM) spokesperson Wilson Fortaleza said the lack of a suitable alternative for the “5-6” system will do more harm to its usual clients—owners of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMES). The labor leader is now urging the government to enforce a national lending program, which will extend loans to SMES owners with minimum requirements. “We believe an alternative program can easily replace the 5/6 system…Without this needed replacement, the government will only push the (clients of the) system further into the black market where more notorious financial sharks operate,” Fortaleza said. Fortaleza also advised the government to create a national employment program to reduce the number of workers trapped in the vulnerable sector of the economy. On Tuesday, President Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to arrest and deport foreigners, who are engaged in “5-6,” for lending money without the necessary permit.‐group‐urges‐govt‐to‐establish‐lending‐program/              

Tesda to build farm schools 2712 SHARES Share it! Published January 11, 2017, 2:37 PM By Martin Sadongdong The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) will soon be building farm schools nationwide in a bid to revive the farming industry and help uplift the lives of farmers and fishers in the country.

Tesda logo (Wikimedia / MANILA BULLETIN) In a statement, TESDA Director General, Secretary Guiling “Gene” Mamondiong said that the plan to build farm schools aims to provide “scholarship grants to the farmers and fisherfolks, their families and relatives, extension workers and facilitators and trainers to assist the farm owners in building the capability and capacity of their farms thus increase productivity.” “The concept of the farm schools is based on the Farm Field Schools (FFS) developed by the UN Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) to help farmers become competitive and seize advantage of the opportunities in the market by operating their farms efficiently and profitably,” he said. According to TESDA, a recent study showed that a farmer who owns 1.5 hectares of land would only earn P2,300 a month. With this, Mamondiong said that the amount “is not sufficient for a farmer who raises a family.”

In effect, the TESDA chief said that children of farmers “do not want to go into farming anymore because of the small earning” in the said industries. The Department of Agriculture-Agriculture Training Institute (DA-ATI) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) will be helping TESDA in finding locations where the farm schools will be built. “I already ordered the regional and provincial directors of TESDA to inform their localities about the future farm schools and enlist in this program,” Mamondiong said. Tags: agriculture, farm schools, farmers, farming, fisherfolks, Manila Bulletin, TESDA, Tesda to build farm schools‐to‐build‐farm‐schools/                                  

Access to RH choices OK’d EO spurs use of family planning methods posted January 11, 2017 at 10:01 pm by John Paolo Bencito PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed an order providing access to family planning methods despite a Supreme Court order prohibiting the government’s procurement and distribution of some family planning aids, an official said Wednesday. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia slammed the high court for delaying its decision to lift the temporary restraining order on sub-dermal implants, a contraceptive that can prevent pregnancies for up to three years. He said Duterte signed Executive Order No. 12 after it was finalized by the Health Department and other agencies on Jan. 9. “All women of reproductive age should be able to achieve their desired family size, their desired number of children rather than having more children than they can provide for adequately,” Pernia said. “That is exactly the essence of the... Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law.”

FIGURAL FIST. Yet again, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Army and police officers join President Duterte in raising the now familiar fist gesture during the erstwhile social custom Vin d”honneur Wednesday which has since morphed into a diplomatic ceremony, the iconic highlight being the presidential toast. EO No. 12 aims to “intensify and accelerate the implementation of critical actions necessary to attain and sustain zero unmet need for modern family planning for all poor households by 2018, and all of Filipinos” within the context of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, Pernia said. In his first State-of-the-Nation Address, Duterte called for the full implementation of the Reproductive Health Law that mandates all accredited public health facilities to provide a full range of modern family planning methods.

The Supreme Court delayed the implementation of the law in March 2013 following opposition from pro-life groups. However, it ruled in April 2014 that the law was “not unconstitutional.” Pernia said the EO would ensure that local governments could not circumvent the implementation of the RH Law, but the Supreme Court was taking too long to decide in the case of some contraceptives. “I don’t know why the Supreme Court cannot act more swiftly. A simple matter and it has already been declared not unconstitutional, and yet you listen to this small minority, small noisy minority.” Pernia said if the high court would not lift its temporary restraining order on implants soon, only family planning methods would be left in the market by 2018. He said Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial filed a motion for reconsideration in October to affirm the recertification of all modern birth control methods. And with the new EO, the contraceptives prevalence rate was expected to rise to around 65 percent from 40 percent. Pernia said the drive to provide women with responsible parenthood options would help the country reach its growth and economic targets. “If two unwanted births per woman are taken away, are averted, then naturally poverty will go down,” he said. “Because, you know, the poverty incidence is just the number of poor households or poor population.”‐to‐rh‐choices‐ok‐d.html                

Martial Law abhorred by most Pinoys posted January 11, 2017 at 10:01 pm by John Paolo Bencito MOST Filipinos disagree with the need to impose Martial Law to address the various problems being faced by the country, the latest Pulse Asia survey released Wednesday revealed. The survey, conducted among 1,200 adult respondents showed that 74 percent do not see the need to impose Martial Law to resolve the many crises facing the nation, while 12 percent agree with the need to have martial rule. Fourteen percent were undecided. The sentiment was the prevailing opinion in all geographic areas, with disproval highest in Metro Manila at 81 percent, Balance Luzon at 74 percent, Mindanao at 75 percent and Visayas at 65 percent. The opinion was also shared by all socio-economic classes (67 percent to 76 percent), age groupings (70 percent to 77 percent), as well as among both men and women (73 percent and 74 percent, respectively). Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella assured the public that President Rodrigo Duterte will not impose Martial Law to solve the country’s social ills. “The President earlier said that the imposition of martial law does not seem to improve significantly the lives of the Filipinos. He cited the experience during the administration of former President Marcos as the best argument for him not to declare Martial Law,” he said in a statement. The survey, conducted from Dec. 6 to 11, 2016, had a margin of error of ± 3% at 95 percent confidence level. Among the prevailing issues leading to the date when the survey was conducted were the resignation of Vice President Leni Robredo as head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and criticisms to the President’s decision allowing the burial of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.‐main‐stories/top‐stories/226511/martial‐law‐abhorred‐ by‐most‐pinoys.html        

Duterte, Abe to sign several pacts during 2-day visit posted January 11, 2017 at 09:01 pm by Sara Susanne D. Fabunan VISITING Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Rodrigo Duterte will sign various memoranda of agreement on agriculture, transportation, among others, during the former’s twoday official visit starting Thursday, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said Wednesday. Foreign Undersecretary Millicent Paredes said both leaders would sign agreements on transportation, agriculture, small and medium enterprise, enhancement of security cooperation and infrastructure. “There will be Moa that will be signed again between the President and the Prime Minister,” Yasay told a news conference. “These are on the works and this is what we expect,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte (left) and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. AFP photo. File photo Abe, arriving with wife Akie and businessmen, will be the first head of government to officially visit the Philippines this year. Yasay said Abe would be flying on to Davao Friday for continuation of bilateral talks.

Paredes said aside from the Moa, both countries seek to enhance their diplomatic ties. “And whatever we deem fit to receive from Japan. That is our goal for the visit of the Prime Minister,” Paredes said. Yasay also said Abe would also discuss counter-terrorism and drug rehabilitation projects, among other issues, with Duterte. “President Duterte and Prime Minister Abe are expected to discuss a wide range of topics, including, but not limited to, counter-terrorism cooperation, drug rehabilitation projects, infrastructure development, maritime cooperation, and development projects,” Yasay said. He said Abe had assured the Philippines Tokyo was ready to give Manila assistance to enhance capacity in fighting against illegal drugs through the establishment of drug rehabilitation. “Japan has been ready in giving us assistance to enhance capacity in fighting. Assistance to provide building of drug rehabilitation centers and this is somethinng we are looking forward to,” Yasay added. Abe’s visit, Yasay said, is a result of the invitation extended by Duterte to Abe during his official visit to Japan in October last year. Abe’s visit is the first by any highest ranking official to Davao City, home to a large Japanese community. Duterte will host a dinner for Abe at the Malacañang Thursday before leaving for Davao, on the southeastern skirts of the country. Abe’s visit comes as Duterte pivots Philippine foreign policy away from its traditional ally, the US.‐main‐stories/top‐stories/226503/duterte‐abe‐to‐sign‐ several‐pacts‐during‐2‐day‐visit.html            

GMA wants modernization of health delivery system posted January 11, 2017 at 09:01 pm by Maricel Cruz FORMER president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has pushed for the rationalization and modernization of the health delivery system to address the deterioration of government hospitals despite the devolution of health services to the local governments. In filing House Bill 4143, Arroyo, a House deputy speaker, stressed the need for the state to rationalize and modernize the health care delivery system for the government to fully and effectively perform its constitutional mandate to protect and promote the people’s right to health and instill health consciousness among them. Arroyo said with the devolution of health services transferred to the LGUs, many government hospitals and health centers failed to cope with the health needs because of lack of funding support from the LGUs. “The problems brought about by devolution led to the deterioration of health services particularly in far-flung areas where services are needed most,” Arroyo said. “Only one-third of the total number of hospitals and about half of hospital beds are public. Out of the country’s 41,000 barangays, only one fourth have a barangay health station. These government health facilities have been notoriously described as ‘death stations’ for their lack of equipment, medicines and able staff,” Arroyo said. To address the situation, Arroyo said there should be a program of extending technological, financial and administrative assistance to LGUs to support and improve the provision, operation and maintenance of their health facilities and equipment through inter-agency and multi-sectoral cooperation. She said the Department of Health should provide each LGU competent physicians to assist the local chief executive as might be appropriate in monitoring health care delivery functions and enhance the capability of hospitals. Not only should more doctors to the barrio be deployed, Arroyo said a residency training and accreditation of private specialist practitioners should be implemented in provincial hospitals and medical centers. “To attract more doctors in remote areas, Mrs. Arroyo said they should be given more incentives and benefits in the form of hazard allowance, subsistence pay, automatic promotion, scholarships to their legitimate children in state colleges and universities as well as free legal representation and consultation in cases of coercion, interference and other cases filed by or against such doctors in the performance of their duties,” Arroyo said.

She said a stronger partnership should likewise be created between the DOH and LGUs to establish health care delivery facilities as well as a dependable two-way referral system in higher level health care stations reaching up to the specialty hospitals and vice versa. Arroyo’s HB 4143 also pushes for the establishment of diagnostic centers with modern and quality equipment in all provincial hospitals. “To realize genuine local autonomy and transparency, each district hospital, medical center including those in Metro Manila and specialty health hospital should have a health board which shall be headed, for the district hospital (by) the Sangguniang Panlalawigan member representing the district where the district hospital is located,” Arroyo said. For the medical center, the bill provides the Chairman of the board will be the Regional Development Council while in Metro Manila, the Chairman will be the Mayor where the medical center is located. For specialty hospital, the head shall be the Chairman of the Board of Trustees. The bill also provides the Vice Chairman of the health board will be the Chief of the District Hospitals, Medical Centers and Specialty Hospitals. The members will be composed of the Representative of the Congressional District for hospitals in his political district; Senator of the Republic for all medical centers and specialty hospitals; a mayor of the catchments area of the district; and representatives of the Philippine Hospital Association, Philippine Medical Association; non-government organizations involved in health services; religious sector, and the private secto4. Arroyo said a P1 billion annual funding support would be needed to implement the provisions in her bill.‐main‐stories/top‐stories/226497/gma‐wants‐ modernization‐of‐health‐delivery‐system.html                

Ex-solon, 7 agri officials face graft raps before court posted January 11, 2017 at 09:01 pm by Rio N. Araja A FORMER lawmaker and seven Department of Agriculture officials are facing multiple counts of graft raps before the Sandiganbayan over a P15-million pork barrel fund scam in 2005. In three separate resolutions, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales ordered the filing of several counts of violation of Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, against ex-Davao Oriental Rep. Joel Mayo Almario, and ex-DA’s regional field unit 11 officials Roger Chio, regional executive director; Romulo Palcon, regional technical director; Alma Mahinay, finance division chief; Godofredo Ramos, administrative officer; Onofre Nugal, agricultural engineering division chief; Jaime Bergonio, chief agriculturist, and Isagani Basco, chief administrative officer. The Ombudsman found Chio and company facilitated the procurement and payment of 100 units of multimedia system with computer set at P10,000,000, water system materials at P2,591,435.40 and 81 units of personalized 10x20 livelihood tent with framing at P2,496,582, or a total of P15,088,017.40. The funding for the water system materials was sourced from Almario’s share from the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani rice and corn program. Ombudsman investigators found respondents failed to comply with the required bidding procedure, citing they failed to conduct any pre-procurement or any pre-bid conferences for the projects. Respondents also failed to publish any invitation to bid as required under the Government Procurement Reform Act or Republic Act 9184. Chio and the other respondents did not challenge that the procurement requirements were not complied with, but raised the common defense that “they did not have any involvement in the bidding process.” “This is untenable,” Morales said. “The wanton disregard of a plain and simple policy of the law that defeated the principle of transparency and competitiveness in the procurement process is sufficient to establish that respondents acted with evident bad faith, manifest partiality or gross inexcusable negligence,” she added.‐main‐stories/top‐stories/226495/ex‐solon‐7‐agri‐officials‐ face‐graft‐raps‐before‐court.html

Aquino new administrator of NFA posted January 11, 2017 at 09:01 pm by Manila Standard THE National Food Authority announced Wednesday the appointment of Jason Laureano Aquino as the new NFA administrator, replacing NFA Officer-in-Charge and Deputy Administrator for Marketing Operations Tomas Escarez. Escarez has turned over the key of responsibility to the new NFA administrator. Currently, the NFA and three other agencies are under the office of Secretary to the Cabinet Leoncio Evasco. Former President Benigno Aquino III earlier transferred the four strategic agencies of the Department of Agriculture to the Office of the President. The agencies were put under the supervision of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization headed by then secretary and now Senator Francis Pangilinan. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said earlier he submitted a draft Executive Order which recommends the transfer of the four agencies under the supervision of the Department of Agriculture. “ I already submitted the draft of the executive order. I gave it last Friday. I gave the draft to Bong Go. Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea will sign the EO. I’m just going to wait for Medialdea to sign it,” said Piñol.‐main‐stories/top‐stories/226494/aquino‐new‐ administrator‐of‐nfa.html              

Fishermen slam Palawan project posted January 11, 2017 at 09:01 pm by Sandy Araneta THE fishermen’s group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas criticized on Wednesday the American children’s television network Nickelodeon over its plan to build an underwater resort and theme park in Palawan because it would threaten the country’s last ecological frontier.The group said Nickelodeon’s 400-hectare undersea development in Palawan will damage the fragile marine environment and aquatic life in Palawan. “This is the sum of all our fears. Our country’s abundant marine environment has been always the target for destructive projects hiding under the guise of development. Contrary to its claim, the project is no protection but it would pose environmental degradation because this will transform Palawan’s productive fishing hub into mere leisure park at the cost of the fisherfolk’s livelihood,” said Pamalakaya chairperson Fernando Hicap.The group said Palawan is home to more than 300 species of corals or about half of all coral species in the world and also a breeding ground of more than 1,500 fish species in the country out of the 2,400 marine species found across the archipelago. “The country’s substantial number of marine species is at stake if Nick’s project will push through,” Hicap said.The group vowed to oppose and frustrate the project in order to protect the country’s marine resources and most of all, the livelihood of the fishers and the Filipino people. Nickelodeon has announced it will build an underwater resort and theme park on Palawan, known as the Philippines’ last ecological frontier, alarming environmentalists.The firm behind SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer said the park on Palawan island would be part of a 400-hectare undersea development showcasing the area’s marine life that would give fans a chance to “interact with the brand and the iconic characters they love.” Palawan was chosen for the development because it “is known to have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world today,” Ron Johnson, an executive vice president with Viacom International Media Networks, which owns Nickelodeon, said in a statement. Viacom’s initial statement announcing the project on Monday said the resort would open in 2020 and feature restaurants and lounges six meters below sea level.But environmental group Greenpeace said it would destroy the area’s world-famous marine ecosystem. “It’s sad and alarming because a theme park that big will not promote environmental protection by building those structures,” Vince Cinches of Greenpeace Southeast Asia said.‐main‐stories/top‐stories/226490/fishermen‐slam‐ palawan‐project.html  

Govt losing P145B in fuel taxes annually – DoF By MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO, TMT on January 12, 2017 Business   Tweet   THE government is losing about P145 billion, or 1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), in potential annual revenues from fuel taxes, which can be plugged by adjusting excise taxes and indexing them to inflation, the Department of Finance (DoF) said. In a statement on Wednesday, Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua said the government wants the fuel tax adjustment included in congressional proposals to lower personal income tax (PIT) rates. Direct cash transfers will be given to “vulnerable sectors” to offset the impact of higher tax rates, he said.Chua also said the Department of Finance (DoF) would vigorously pursue tax administration reforms at the Bureaus of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BoC) to help raise funds for the infrastructure build-up of the Duterte administration. “But tax administration reforms are not enough to raise adequate funds to bankroll the Duterte administration’s agenda of high and inclusive growth, given the inherent flaws in the country’s tax system that require urgent correction, such as the non-indexation of tax rates to inflation,” Chua said.He noted, for instance, that gasoline excise tax rates have not changed for the last 20 years while diesel has been tax exempt for the last 12 years. These rates have led to a massive foregone revenue loss of about P145 billion in 2016 prices, which represents about 1 percent of GDP, the DoF official said. “Our proposal to adjust the fuel excise tax to around P6 per liter merely updates the rates to current levels as this represents the cumulative inflation since 1997. Even with the adjustments, the retail prices of gasoline and diesel will still be much lower than the rates during the oil price shocks of 2011 and 2012,” Chua said. For vulnerable sectors and low-income groups, the DoF is proposing a targeted cash transfer program for the poorest 50 percent of households, which includes the reintroduction of the “Pantawid Pasada” program that will provide fuel price discounts to public utility vehicles, and a jeepney modernization program to improve the engine efficiency of these vehicles. “These proposed initiatives will cushion the impact of higher fuel excises on transportation, commuting and food costs for the poorest 50 percent,” Chua said.‐losing‐p145b‐fuel‐taxes‐annually‐dof/306488/   

World Bank sees PH growth averaging 6.8% until 2019 By MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO, TMT on January 12, 2017 Business   Tweet   THE World Bank expects the Philippine economy to grow by an average 6.8 percent in the next three years amid heavy infrastructure and consumer spending, and strong remittances and services exports. “In the Philippines, growth is projected to accelerate to 6.8 percent on average in 2017-19, supported by ongoing infrastructure projects, strong consumption, buoyant inflows of remittances, and strong revenue from services exports,” the Washington-based lender said in its Global Economic Prospects report released Wednesday, It forecasted Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) to grow by 6.9 percent this year from an estimated 6.8 percent last year. For 2018, the World Bank said the economy could expand by 7 percent before moderating to 6.7 percent in 2019. The government’s GDP target growth range this year is 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent. For 2018 and 2019, it targets GDP growth to be within 7 percent to 8 percent. The government plans to hike the country’s infrastructure budget – combining national and local projects – to increase to P1.898 trillion by 2022 from P861 billion in 2017, or to about 7 percent of GDP from 5.4 percent. Asia to ease Growth in the East Asia and Pacific region was projected to ease to 6.2 percent in 2017 from an estimated 6.3 percent in 2016 as China slows and the rest of the region picks up. Output in China is anticipated to slow to 6.5 percent in the year from 6.7 percent in 2016. Macroeconomic policies are expected to support key domestic drivers of growth despite softness of external demand and overcapacity in some sectors. Excluding China, growth in the region will accelerate at a more rapid 5 percent rate in 2017, the World Bank said. The multilateral institution said risks have tilted further to the downside since mid-2016, including heightened policy uncertainty in advanced economies (Europe and the United States) amid a rise in support for trade protection. It said financial market disruption and weak growth in advanced economies would pose further risks to growth.

Rising political opposition to trade contributed to a post-crisis high in new trade restrictions in the past year, and the imposition of trade barriers by major trading partners will disproportionately affect the relatively more open economies of East Asia and Pacific, it said. Stronger global prospects The World Bank also said that an unexpected deceleration of major economies in the region or weaker-than-expected global trade would dampen growth in the region, and a faster-thanexpected slowdown in China would have sizable regional spillovers. An adverse reaction to the US Federal Reserve’s anticipated rise in interest rates or an increase in global risk aversion may also slow growth, it said. Globally, economic growth is projected to accelerate moderately to 2.7 percent in 2017 after a post-crisis low estimated at 2.3 percent last year, as obstacles to economic activity recede among emerging-market and developing-economy commodity exporters, while domestic demand remains solid among emerging and developing commodity importers. “After years of disappointing global growth, we are encouraged to see stronger economic prospects on the horizon,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement. “Now is the time to take advantage of this momentum and increase investments in infrastructure and people. This is vital to accelerating the sustainable and inclusive economic growth required to end extreme poverty,” he added.‐bank‐sees‐ph‐growth‐averaging‐6‐8‐2019/306491/                      

By Maya M. Padillo Correspondent

Davao Food Terminal soft opening seen in April Posted on January 12, 2017  DAVAO CITY ‐‐ The P70‐million Davao Food and Trade Terminal, a part of the planned 25‐ hectare Davao Food Complex (DFC), will have its soft opening by April with small‐scale fruit  and vegetable farmers cleared to start bringing in their produce by then. 

The Davao Food and Trade Terminal will have its soft opening by April. ‐‐ BW File Photo  Ricardo M. Oñate, Jr., Department of Agriculture (DA)‐Regional Field Office officer‐in‐charge,  said construction is now 30% complete and some facilities such as weighing scales and cold  storage could be installed within the next few months.    “The building won’t be 100% complete, but it will be up with some amenities like the cold  storage. We will provide immediately the weighing scales so we can operate the facility,” Mr.  Oñate said in an interview.    The food terminal, funded by the Davao City government, is intended to serve as a wholesale  hub for farmers from the city and the provinces of Davao del Sur and Davao Occidental.    “Farm cooperatives from Bansalan, Kapatagan (both in Davao del Sur), and (Davao) Occidental  will drop their vegetables in the food terminal,” Mr. Oñate said.    Once completed, the terminal will also have a dormitory for farmers, as well as a retail section  for consumers.    The Davao Food and Trade Terminal ‐‐ conceptualized under the Agri‐Pinoy Trading Center 

program and initially called the Davao Agri‐Trading Center ‐‐ will occupy a five‐hectare space  within a 25‐hectare area owned by the National Development Co. (NDC) in Toril, in the  southwestern part of Davao City.    Earlier this week, the Department of Trade and Industry announced that the NDC has approved  the implementation of the DFC development plan, which involves setting up an economic zone  for food‐based industries.    The DA official also said that 10 trucks, costing around P1.5 million each, will be distributed to  farmer cooperatives within the year as part of the strategy to ensure sustainability of supply  coming into the wholesale facility.    Policies and guidelines for the terminal’s operation are now being drafted and will be ready  when it fully opens by 2018.    A task force created by the Davao City government and the DA will initially manage the facility  while the city council deliberates on an economic enterprise that will handle operations.    A marketing group from the DA‐Davao Region office will oversee the quality of the fresh  produce being delivered to ensure high value.    In the long term, management of the terminal will be turned over to the farmers themselves.    “Eventually it will be a (farmers’) cooperative. The food terminal should be operated by a  cooperative,” Mr. Oñate said.‐food‐ terminal‐soft‐opening‐seen‐in‐april&id=138975           

Who is next in line as new BSP chief? Posted on January 12, 2017  THE TERM of Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. as governor of the Philippine central bank will expire  on July 2 and he hasn’t disclosed yet if he’ll accept an offer from President Rodrigo R. Duterte  to stay on for a third term.  Mr. Tetangco, 64, has kept inflation below five percent for more than five years, allowing the  bank to cut its benchmark interest rate to a record low. He has held office under three  presidents, steered the economy through a global recession and served as a pillar of stability for  investors spooked by Mr. Duterte’s rhetoric around his war on drugs.    The next central bank governor will need to protect the economy ‐‐ among the world’s fastest‐ growing ‐‐ from risks including higher US interest rates and capital outflows.    Mr. Tetangco in an interview on Monday said the central bank can hold off from raising rates in  the next six months.    A veteran of more than 40 years at Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Mr. Tetangco has said he  prefers a successor who has worked in central banking before.    Here’s a list of five possible candidates based on discussions with central bank watchers and  local media reports.    NESTOR A. ESPENILLA, JR.  BSP DEPUTY GOVERNOR  Mr. Espenilla, 58, joined the central bank in 1981 and has been deputy governor since 2005.    As head of BSP’s unit that oversees banks, he has pushed for the entry of more foreign lenders  and encouraged mergers and acquisitions.    Mr. Espenilla earned a master’s degree from the Graduate Institute of Policy in Tokyo and had a  stint at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).    “It’s a natural aspiration for a deputy governor to serve the country at a higher plane of  responsibility,” he said when asked about a possible promotion.    PETER B. FAVILA, BANKER 

Mr. Favila, 68, is a consultant for the central bank and has served as president of Philippine  National Bank, Allied Banking Corp. and Security Bank Corp.    He was trade secretary under former President Gloria M. Arroyo, headed the Philippine Stock  Exchange and was a member of BSP’s Monetary Board.    “I’m prepared to serve,” Mr. Favila said when sought for comment.    DIWA C. GUINIGUNDO  BSP DEPUTY GOVERNOR  Mr. Guinigundo, 62, started his central banking career in 1978 and has been deputy governor  and head of the monetary stability unit since 2005.    A graduate of the London School of Economics, he also worked at the IMF.    “I would accept the job if offered,” he said.    Mr. Guinigundo said deepening capital markets, fighting money laundering, terrorist financing  and cyber crimes are some of the important tasks ahead.    ANTONIO C. MONCUPA, JR.  BANK PRESIDENT  Mr. Moncupa, 58, is a 30‐year veteran in the banking industry and has been president of East  West Banking Corp. for a decade.    He heads the policy think tank of Mr. Duterte’s political party.    Holding a Masters in Business Administration degree from the University of Chicago, Mr.  Moncupa is among the most senior board members of the Bankers Association of the  Philippines. He was jailed in the 1980s under martial law, accused of rebellion.    “I have been in the private sector all my career and something like this requires some serious  reflection,” Mr. Moncupa said of news reports that he’s among those considered for the post.    PERFECTO R. YASAY, JR.  FOREIGN AFFAIRS SECRETARY  Mr. Yasay, 69, was Securities and Exchange Commission chief for five years until 2000 when he  testified against ex‐president Joseph Estrada in his impeachment trial. 

A dormitory roommate of Mr. Duterte during their law school years, Mr. Yasay ran for vice‐ president in 2010 and lost.    A year later, he was included in a criminal complaint filed by the central bank for falsification  and granting of illegal loans while serving as a director of a bank.    “I have always considered public office as a public trust. I have placed myself under the  president’s disposal to serve our country and people the very best way I can,” he said. ‐‐  Bloomberg‐is‐next‐in‐line‐as‐ new‐bsp‐chief&id=139002                               

Cacao Council gears up for strong output after ‘banner year’ in 2016 Posted on January 12, 2017  DAVAO CITY ‐‐ Energized by what it considers a “banner year” for the cacao industry in 2016,  the newly formed National Cacao Council (NCC) is ready to buckle down to work to ensure  that development plans are implemented. 

A worker shows the inside of a cacao fruit. ‐‐ AFP  Edwin O. Banquerigo, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)‐Davao assistant regional director  and National Cacao Cluster Industry coordinator, said the council, which was created last year,  will serve as the “structural mechanism” for implementing programs under the Cacao Industry  Roadmap 2017‐2022.    “The cacao industry road map was also approved (last year) and will soon be signed, and this  will be the basis for pushing further the development of the cacao industry,” Mr. Banquerigo  said in an interview.    The NCC will serve as a coordinating and policy body as well as oversee the setting up of  protocols on production, post‐harvest, packaging, and quality assurance.    The council is composed of cacao industry representatives and government officials from the  Department of Agriculture (DA), DTI, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and  the Philippine Coconut Authority, among others.    It will work closely with the 16 newly formed cacao regional councils.    “In the (DTI) industry cluster, we have to move as a (group), it is all about convergence,  collaboration, and inclusion. Now the council is very strong and the development of the cacao  industry council is much better now than in the past,” Mr. Banquerigo said. 

In Mindanao, which accounts for about 80% of the country’s total cacao production based on  2014 data, the DTI‐Davao region office distributed last year about P5.9 million worth of  seedlings through the DA regional office.    Based on Bureau of Agricultural Statistics data, the total area in Mindanao planted to cacao was  7,413 hectares as of 2013, while the harvest accounted for 90% of the country’s total  production at 4,366 metric tons (MT).    Mindanao, through various programs, aims to produce at 80,000 to 100,000 MT of cacao beans  by 2020.    Among these initiatives are the Mindanao Inclusive Agribusiness Program, a public‐private  sector collaboration organized by the Mindanao Development Authority and the Philippine  Business for Social Progress.    The Mindanao Cacao Double‐up program, launched in 2015, has been tapping coconut farmers  for intercropping to expand cacao areas. ‐‐ Maya M. Padillo‐council‐ gears‐up‐for‐strong‐output‐after‐&145banner‐year&8217‐in‐2016&id=138974                     

Cocoa trucks blocked in Ivory Coast’s main port Posted on January 12, 2017  TRUCKS carrying thousands of tons of cocoa have been blocked in the main port of Ivory  Coast, the world’s top producer, as authorities have temporarily day. 

A worker inspects bags of cocoa beans at a warehouse in Abidjan. ‐‐ AFP  There are nearly “700 trucks blocked here at the port in Abidjan,” Ivory Coast’s economic  capital, said Moussa Kone, head of the national cocoa producers’ union.    He said trucks filled with cocoa have also been stranded in San Pedro, the country’s second  port, for several days.    “Since Dec. 22, we have been coming here in trucks filled with cocoa but are not being received  by the authorities at Abidjan port,” said Mohamed Toure, a driver.    Industry sources said the authorities were blocking cocoa exports because of a difference in the  price set by the national cocoa council and that in the London futures trading price.    Cocoa represents 15% of Ivory Coast’s GDP and more than 50% of its export earnings, according  to the World Bank. ‐‐ AFP‐trucks‐ blocked‐in‐ivory‐coast&8217s‐main‐port&id=138973     

DTI, JICA program to strengthen MSMEs in ARMM Posted on January 12, 2017  MICRO, small and medium enterprises (MSME’s) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim  Mindanao (ARMM) will be strengthened to drive growth in the region through a joint  program of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Department of Trade  and Industry (DTI). Under the program, rubber, seaweed, palm oil, abaca, coffee and coconut  have been identified as the six “model industry clusters” that will be focused on.  These model clusters are seen as having the most potential to succeed through investments in  technology transfer in Mindanao.  Industry clustering aims to provide opportunities for ARMM in the agricultural sector to access  technical support and marketing channels to develop MSMEs in the region, said JICA in a  statement.  “The industry clustering project in ARMM is our way to develop the region’s value chain,  enhance MSME competitiveness, and create quality jobs and sustainable economic returns.  This way, the people of ARMM will also be able to realize the dividends of peace and improve  their lives,” said JICA Senior Representative Yuko Tanaka in a statement.  “The value of industry clustering, based on the success of DICCEP (Davao Industry Cluster  Capacity Enhancement Project) in Davao and NICCEP (National Industry Cluster Capacity  Enhancement Project), is the increased collaboration among different players in the value chain  (producers, processors, research institutes, buyers) to strengthen their industry’s competitive  advantage,” added Tanaka.  The primary sectors of ARMM are in agriculture, fisheries, and forestry, which employ 66% of  the region’s work force.  An earlier JICA study found that only 13% of the ARMM economy is engaged in business  enterprises while 6.7% are in manufacturing.  ARMM is composed of the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi Tawi and the provinces of  Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur in mainland Mindanao. ‐‐ Danica M. Uy‐jica‐program‐to‐ strengthen‐msmes‐in‐armm&id=138984     

DBM confident of tax reform passage by first half of 2017 Posted on January 12, 2017  BUDGET Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno remains positive on the underlying revenue  assumptions behind the 2018 budget, which will incorporate the results of reforms to the tax  system, though delays raise the risk of some infrastructure projects going unfunded. 

File photo of Budget Sec. Benjamin E. Diokno ‐‐ BW  “We have one whole year. We are positive that the measures will pass the first half of the  year,” said Mr. Diokno last Tuesday in a chance interview.    Mr. Diokno said that the mid‐year timetable is a realistic estimate for passing the tax reform  program.    “If you delay to the second half, new budget plans will have to be discussed, so it has to be  within the first half of the year. I think that’s realistic,” he said.    The budget for 2018 derives from the General Appropriations Act ‐‐ which was approved last  month ‐‐ then finalized by mid‐year before its submission to Congress for ratification.    The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is set to propose a record P3.84 trillion  budget for 2018, 14.6% more than this year’s P3.35 trillion allocation.    Mr. Diokno said that 2018 will be the year most people will see an increase in take‐home pay,  as reforms to the personal income tax system will already have been implemented.    The first package that the Department of Finance submitted to Congress in September is  projected to generate P206.8 billion in additional revenue, or 1% of gross domestic product 

(GDP).   Despite having the tax reform programmed in next year’s budget, the House of Representatives  has yet to approve the reforms at the committee level.    House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dakila Carlo E. Cua has said that he hopes to pass  the measure on to the Senate before Congress adjourns its session in March, as his committee  will prioritize the proposal upon resumption of session next week.    The Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), said recently that some  infrastructure projects for 2018 will depend on the additional revenue from the tax reform.    “The projected proceeds of the tax reform package ‐‐ around P206.8 billion under Package 1 ‐‐  will fund the government’s big‐ticket development projects, particularly the infrastructure  program,” said the DBCC.    Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said that some of the infrastructure projects for  the following year are unprogrammed, meaning the government has not found the revenue to  fund them.    “In the budget there are unprogrammed funds. They can only be spent if they have the  revenue. So [the infrastructure projects] will be in the budget, but they will be unprogrammed,”  said Mr. Chua in a phone interview.     The DBM recently called government agencies to submit their initial budget proposals for 2018  through the two‐tier budgeting approach for crafting next year’s budget allocations; the first  tier being budget estimates on continuing activities, and the second accounting for new  projects. ‐‐ E.J.C. Tubayan‐confident‐of‐tax‐ reform‐passage‐by‐first‐half‐of‐2017&id=138980         

7 DA regional field officers face raps before the Sandiganbayan Written by  Alvin Murcia   Thursday, 12 January 2017 00:00   Seven officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Field Unit XI are facing charges before the Sandiganbayan for mishandling the P10 million Priority Development Fund Assistance (PDAF) of former Davao Oriental Representative Joel Mayo Almario. The filing of the charges was ordered by the Office of the Ombudsman after finding probable cause against the erring DA regional officials. Facing multiple counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act 3019) are Roger Chio (former regional executive director), Romulo Palcon (former regional technical director), Alma Mahinay (chief, finance division), Godofredo Ramos (administrative officer), Onofre Nugal (chief, agricultural engineering division), Jamie Bergonio (former chief agriculturist) and Isagani Basco (former chief administrative officer). The Ombudsman in three separate resolutions found that Chio and the others facilitated the procurement and payment of the following items in 2005:100 units of multimedia system with computer set, P10 million, water system materials, P2,591,435.40; 81 units of personalized 10x20 livelihood tents with framing, P2, 496,582; totalling to P15,088,017.70. The funding for the water system materials was sourced from Almario’s share from the GMA Rice and Corn Program. Ombudsman investigators found that respondents failed to comply with the required bidding procedure as they did not conduct any pre-procurement or any pre-bid conferences for the projects. Respondents also failed to publish any invitation to bid as required under the Government Procurement Reform Act (Republic Act 9184). Chio did not dispute that the procurement requirements were not complied with but raised the common defense that “they did not have any involvement in the bidding process.” According to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, “this is untenable.” “The wanton disregard of a plain and simple policy of the law that defeated the principle of transparency and competitiveness in the procurement process is sufficient to establish that respondents acted with evident bad faith, manifest partiality or gross inexcusable negligence.”‐da‐regional‐field‐officers‐face‐raps‐before‐the‐ sandiganbayan       

RP okays plan to raise $2B thru bonds sale Written by  Tribune Wires   Wednesday, 11 January 2017 00:00  

The government has approved a plan to raise up to $2 billion from the overseas debt market to fund this year’s record budget and pay off liabilities, a senior official said yesterday. The government is “discussing with banking partners” the best time to sell the bonds, national treasurer Roberto Tan said. The Philippines, one of Asia’s most active issuers of US dollar-denominated bonds, has a history of issuing sovereign bonds early in the year to get favorable borrowing terms and raise the bulk of its foreign debt needs before the markets get more volatile. Of the $2 billion, Tan said $500 million would be used to finance this year’s P3.35 trillion ($67.7 billion) national budget and the rest would be used to settle obligations. The 2017 budget is 11.6 percent higher than last year’s spending plan. It allows the government to spend more on roads, bridges, airports and meet a 6.5 to 7.5 percent economic growth target the president has set for the year. To help fund the spending program, the government plans to raise a total P126.26 billion by selling global bonds and from official development assistance loans. It also plans to raise 505.03 billion pesos via treasury bills and bonds. The government’s initial three-year Treasury bond (T-bond) offering for 2017 attracted more banks yesterday, with tenders more than double the P15 billion offering, Tan added. The auction committee made a full award after tenders totaled P37.238 billion. Tan said the tap facility would be opened until 3 p.m. today to cater to the strong demand for the said tenor. “The auction went very well. (There was) very good demand, very auspicious for the year, very good pricing also so we fully awarded (the paper),” he said. The Bureau of Treasury (BTr) opens its tap facility if it received strong demand for the debt paper at a very good price to take advantage of the bids. Average yield of the freshly issued paper stood at 3.364 while coupon rate is 3.375 percent. The current average rate of the three-year paper is higher than the 3.169 percent it fetched during the auction of the same tenor on October 20, 2015. Meanwhile, Tan said the central bank’s policy-making Monetary Board (MB) has issued the authority for the government’s 2017 foreign borrowing amounting to about $2 billion. “We were informed that it was approved already but we will be expecting the copy of authority soon in the office,” he said. Tan said $500 million of the said amount would be new money component, or cash, while the remaining $1.5 billion will be used to retire old liabilities. He said they are now discussing with some banks on how to do the debt issuance and liability management but declined to elaborate.‐okays‐plan‐to‐raise‐2b‐thru‐bonds‐sale

Miss U sasalubungin ng protesta By Bernard Taguinod January 12, 2017  Sasalubungin ng kilos protesta ng Gabriela ang pagho-host ng Pilipinas sa Miss Universe dahil bukod sa pang-aabuso umano ito sa mga kababaihan ay ipinantatakip ito ng gobyerno sa pangit na imahe ng bansa. Sa press briefing sa Kamara kahapon, sinabi ni Gabriela partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas na dismayado ang mga ito dahil sa pagho-host ng Pilipinas sa nasabing beauty pageant ngayong taon partikular na sa Enero 30. “Magpoprotesta kami para tutulan ang Miss Universe Pageant sa ating bansa. Ino-oppose po namin ang mga pageant and festivals that exploit women,” ani Brosas. Sinabi ng mambabatas na ginagawang ‘commodity’ umano ang mga kababaihan sa mga ganitong pageant na hindi nila matanggap kaya tinututulan ng mga ito ang pagho-host ng Pilipinas. “This is yet another attempt to package the Philippines as a lurid tourist destination for cheap, easily exploitable women. Sex tourism with human trafficking and prostitution is one of the deplorable downstream trades that afflicts poor countries that host international events such as major beauty pageants,” ayon pa sa lady solon. Maliban dito, itinuturing umano ng Gabriela na ipinantatakip lamang ng gobyerno ang Miss Universe sa mga pangit na imahe ngayon ng Pilipinas tulad ng patuloy na pagdami ng mga biktima ng extrajudicial killings (EJK) at iba pang problema ng mga maliliit na mamamayan.‐u‐sasalubungin‐ng‐protesta.htm                 

Pagasa watching new LPA east of Surigao By: Frances Mangosing ‐ Reporter / @FMangosingINQ / 08:33 AM January 12, 2017 

A large band of clouds can be seen east of the Philippines in this satellite photo released by Pagasa. PAGASA PHOTOThe weather bureau is tracking a new low pressure area (LPA) that is expected to bring rain in parts of the Visayas and Mindanao. Cloudy skies with light to moderate rain and isolated thunderstorms will be experienced over the Visayas and the regions of Bicol, Caraga, Northern Mindanao, Davao and the province of Quezon, said the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa). The LPA was last spotted 795 kilometers east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur. ADVERTISEMENT   The amihan or northeast monsoon continues to affect Northern Luzon. Cloudy skies with light rain is expected over the regions of Ilocos, Cordillera, Cagayan Valleyand Central Luzon. Partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated light rain is expected over Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon. The rest of Mindanao will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms. CBB   Read more:‐watching‐new‐lpa‐east‐of‐ surigao#ixzz4VVsmnEo2   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook 

Retirees across the nation welcome P1,000 increase in pension By: By the Inquirer Bureaus ‐ @inquirerdotnet  01:51 AM January 12, 2017 

“A big ‘thank you,’” seamstress Concepcion Cucharo said, expressing her gratitude for the P1,000 increase in the pension of retired members of the Social Security System (SSS). The increase is effective this month and another increase of P1,000 is expected by 2022. Like other retirees or their survivors, Cucharo, 74, said the increase, however meager, meant she could buy more “maintenance” medicines. “It’s hard when you’re old and you have ailments. Whatever amount of money you’ve got is spent on medicines,” said Cucharo, widowed for nine years now. The increase is equivalent to just P33 a day. ADVERTISEMENT  

She lives with her 35-year-old daughter in Tagum City and earns a living through sewing hospital personnel uniforms with her daughter. Cucharo gets P3,400 monthly pension as a beneficiary of her late husband, who worked in a banana plantation for more than 20 years. Despite the measly amount, she said her husband’s pension had been helpful, particularly when demand for sewing slackens. Maintenance drugs A son, who manages a store near a college in Tagum, also helps her in buying her medicines. “At least whatever we earn in sewing we can use for our other basic needs like food,” Cucharo said. The pension increase was timely because of the high cost of living, said former security guard Rizalino Guelos, 65, of Polomolok town in South Cotabato province. “But my monthly pension is not enough even for my maintenance medicine,” said Guelos, who receives a monthly pension of P2,000. In Calasiao, Pangasinan province, Angeles Colisao, 86, said she was happy about the news that her pension would increase by P1,000 a month.

She said her P4,100 monthly pension, half of which is spent for medicine, was not enough if she lived alone. Colisao began receiving her pension after her husband, a retired bus driver, died in 1992. She has been living with her daughter and son-in-law, who are both employed. A son, who works in the United States, also sends her money whenever she needed it. “Had my children not been helping me, the SSS pension that I have would not be enough,” she said. Elena Boco, 63 who lost her husband, Cesar, in 2014 due to an illness, lives alone, as she has no children. Her P1,200 in monthly pension is barely enough to buy medicines. “I am spending around P2,000 for my maintenance on top of the daily expenses. The amount is not really enough. I always end up asking for loans from my relatives just to meet my daily needs,” said Boco of Tacloban. Financial aid To be able to live decently, she said she would need at least P5,000 monthly. She depends on her monthly pension since she closed her small sari-sari store due to failing health. If not for her eight children, four of whom work abroad and extend her financial help, Basilisa Atienza, 83, said she would not be able to survive on her P4,700 pension. Atienza, president of the Federation of Senior Citizens Associations of Bacolod City, said the pension increase was badly needed by the elderly, especially those who receive only P1,500 a month. “Many of those who receive the P1,500 in monthly pensions used to work on sugar farms,” she said. She said the federation, which has 25,000 card-bearing members, passed a resolution on Friday calling on President Duterte to keep his campaign promise to increase by P2,000 their monthly pensions. The issue is now academic as Mr. Duterte has approved the increase. Atienza is receiving the P4,700 monthly pension of her late husband, Rodolfo Atienza, a certified public accountant. Her monthly maintenance medicines, including insulin for diabetes, cost P10,000, which means she would not have enough for these and her food, Atienza said.

A retired school principal from Burauen town in Leyte said her and her husband’s pensions were not enough since she had to pay P2,000 in monthly medication and her share of the household bills. “The pension, which is from my late husband, is too measly but still [better than nothing],” said Iluminada Pedere, 80. As a widow of Ernesto, who worked in a private company, Pedere is entitled to a P1,200 in monthly pension from the SSS. She lives with her son and his family in Burauen town. For the rather “well-off” retirees like Evelyn Maghuyop, the pension hike should be reexamined because it could deplete SSS funds and would be detrimental to employers. Maghuyop, an accountant who retired in 2008, said there was a need to study the profiles of SSS pensioners, suggesting that only those receiving below P3,000 should be granted the increase. “I am talking about grandmothers or beneficiaries of pension funds who are receiving below P3,000 and are still sending grandchildren to school. These people need the additional P2,000 but I don’t agree that it has to be across the board,” Maghuyop said. —REPORTS FROM FRINSTON LIM, EDWIN O. FERNANDEZ, JIGGER J. JERUSALEM, GABRIEL CARDINOZA. CRIS EVERT B. LATO, CARLA P. GOMEZ AND JOEY A. GABIETA Read more:‐across‐the‐nation‐welcome‐p1000‐increase‐ in‐pension#ixzz4VW0UD9rf   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook                       

SBMA to help save PH’s coral reefs Published January 12, 2017, 11:48 AM  By Philippine News Agency The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) will work hand in hand with agency leaders, investor-locators, and non-government organizations to ensure the growth and propagation of coral reefs that are already degenerating all over the country.

This, after SBMA Chairman Martin B. Diño signed a partnership agreement with the Philippine Council for Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARD), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Brighterday Subic LTD, Inc. (BLSI), the locator-investor of the All Hands Beach Resort inside the Freeport; and Sangkalikasan Producer Cooperative, a non-government organization engaged in reefs restoration and monitoring activities, based in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija. “For as long as the SBMA, the community leaders, and the business owners around the Zone are responsive and responsible enough in preserving our coral reef beds, the condition and future of our ecosystem is sustainable,” Diño said. Dr. Melvin Carlos, technology transfer division director of PCAARRD, said that the degeneration rate of coral reefs across the country has already reached 80 percent. “This means that it has breached its ecological condition that is dangerous to plants, animals, and other organisms living in our waters,” Carlos said. The agreement aims to enjoin the partner organizations to transplant some 5,000 coral fragments to restore damaged reef areas and set-up and deploy about 10 coral nursery units. It also tasks the partner organizations to identify, document, and establish a stream of dive sites, develop a pool of human resource for coral restoration and promote science based coral reef management.

The partnership agreement was forged to strengthen current coral reef restoration efforts by the BLSI and Sankalikasan at the All Hands Beach Resort. Each to its own commitment, the DENR serves as the lead implementing agency that will provide the necessary technical assistance in monitoring and evaluating the project activities. The Sangkalikasan serves as the project implementer in delivering project outputs, results reviews, information dissemination, and technology transfer. On the other hand, the SBMA and PCAARRD are supporting bodies in monitoring, maintaining, and protecting the identified and established sites, also in baseline assessment and monitoring of coral transplants. Meanwhile, the BLSI is the adaptor in maintaining and protecting the identified and established sites for the growth and propagation of the coral transplants. Tags: coral reef, environment, Manila Bulletin, Philippines, SBMA, SBMA to help save PH's coral reefs, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority


2017 01 12 quedancor daily news monitor  
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