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Strategic Analysis and Research by the

CENTER FOR STRATEGY, ENTERPRISE & INTELLIGENCE

T H E

Ombudsman: Corona circulated money in 82 dollar accounts ~ GMA7 online news headline

Report

Defense: Corona dollar accounts just three, not 82 ~ GMA7 online news headline

Volume 2 - Number 20 • May 21-27, 2012

BUSINESS

4 Just When You Think Recovery Is Here

NATION

14 Growing All the Rice We Need

Amid positive signs in the world economy, renewed fears of euro zone meltdown, hard landing in China, and a U.S. fiscal crunch underscore the imperative for contagion containment, fiscal reform and economic rebalancing. Brace yourself

Whether or not rice self-sufficiency is coming, we must shore up food security • The geography lesson: The real reason the Philippines imports its staple • The NFA’s P100-billion problem: A costly way to make rice affordable • Food insecurity: Civil society questions government food policy • Throwing it away: If we didn’t waste so much rice, we’d have enough

24 Will the Bangsamoro Substate Bring Peace?

The proposed autonomous entity might be the start of a road to peace, if it isn’t sidetracked in tricky political terrain • Decades of strife: A history of failed agreements, stalled talks — and war

34 Death By Gainful Employment

WORLD

There are two million work-related deaths a year, more than half of them in Asia. Governments and companies must take action • Dying on the job: Whether by accident, illness or stress, work eventually kills

POINT & CLICK

TECHNOLOGY

46 The High-Tech Way to Cut You Up

From laser scalpels to surgical robots, operating equipment are reducing pain, blood and recovery time • From trephination to transplants: A brief history of surgery • When operations go viral: Social media gives surgical learning

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You can access online research via the Internet by clicking phrases in blue

WORLD TECHNOLOGY

Center for Strategy, Enterprise & Intelligence provides expertise in strategy and management, enterprise development, intelligence, Internet and media. For subscriptions, research, and advisory services, please e-mail report@censeisolutions.com or call/fax +63-2-5311182. Links to online material on public websites are current as of the week prior to the publication date, but might be removed without warning. Publishers of linked content should e-mail us or contact us by fax if they do not wish their websites to be linked to our material in the future.


We Apologize For Our Tardiness For the past three weeks, The CenSEI Report has been delayed by a day in transmission. We apologize for this failing, for which we offer no excuses, just mea culpas. The Center for Strategy, Enterprise & Intelligence and our corps of writers and editors are having the inevitable teething problems of any new enterprise. But while our timing leaves much to be desired, we’d like to think that any extra hours spent working on The CenSEI Report is time well spent in making every article, paragraph, sentence, link and image greatly informative, insightful and even imperative for you, our readers. Still, we are a weekly publication, and there is no better time to be read than early on Monday to get a fresh perspective on the week’s major developments and concerns. For the current Report, we range across some weighty national and international issues, from the global economy, shaken by fears of euro meltdown and China slowdown, to the death of workers, including more than a million Asians every year. Clearly, urgent action especially from government and business leaders is needed on both fronts to save lives and livelihoods. Here at home, we follow up our story last week on rising hunger with another Nation assessment of the rice selfsufficiency program, begun in 2008 as the FIELDS initiative for the Philippines to produce all the staple we consume by 2013. Also a life-and-death concern, the Nation section casts a legal eye on the proposed Bangsamoro substate being negotiated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, with greater autonomy than the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) agreed with the Moro National Liberation Front in 1996. Let’s hope both rice and peace initiatives bear positive and lasting fruit in the months ahead. While the developments covered in every issue of The CenSEI Report have made news in the weeks before we wrote about them, in fact, the rationale for tackling these concerns are not the headlines they generated, but the humans they affect. This week they include the billions of job-holding or -seeking people across the planet; the 95 million Filipinos, each polishing off 308 grams of rice daily on average; and the tens of thousands of government soldiers and separatist rebels in deadly face-off, plus the hundreds of innocents caught in their crossfire in the cities and fields of Mindanao. With such import in every article, our editors and writers do not hesitate to heavily revise drafts to sharpen strategic focus and argument, insert more information-rich links, and offer useful action recommendations. All within our tight deadlines, of course, as best we can.


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New Dangers Emerge for the Fragile World Recovery

Watch out for loan default in Greece, fiscal crunch in America, and sharp slowdown in China By Ricardo Saludo

REPORT CARD

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index Australia China Euro Area France Germany Japan Korea Mexico Spain U.K. U.S.

0.0% 0.8% 0.3% 0.6% 0.4% 0.9% 1.5% 1.0% 0.9% 1.0% 0.1%

IMF WORLD ECONOMIC OUTLOOK Real GDP % increase, 2011-11 actual and 2012-13 forecast Projections World Output

2010

2011

2012

2013

3.2

1.6

1.4

2.0

5.3

Advanced Economies

3.9

3.5

4.1

United States

3.0

1.7

2.1

2.4

Euro Area

1.9

1.4

-0.3

0.9

Germany

3.6

3.1

0.6

1.5

France

1.4

1.7

0.5

1.0

Italy

1.8

0.4

-1.9

-0.3

Spain

-0.1

0.7

-1.8

0.1

Japan

4.4

-0.7

2.0

1.7

United Kingdom

2.1

0.7

0.8

2.0

Canada

3.2

2.5

2.1

2.2

Other Advanced Economies

5.8

3.2

2.6

3.5

8.5

4.0

3.4

4.2

7.5

6.2

5.7

6.0

Newly Industrialized Asian Economies

Emerging and Developing Economies Developing Asia

9.7

7.8

7.3

7.9

China

10.4

9.2

8.2

8.8

India

10.6

7.2

6.9

7.3

ASEAN-5

7.0

4.5

5.4

6.2

Tables by The Conference Board and IMF World Economic Outlook, page 2

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STRATEGY POINTS Improving world economic prospects face new threats: Greece default, sharp China slowdown, and the 2013 U.S. fiscal crunch. Like the IMF, get ready for a painful, costly and messy meltdown in Europe, with contagion effects on Asian trade and finance. Governments and lenders must balance fiscal austerity for investor confidence, and the people’s need for growth and jobs.

F

acebook’s mammoth initial public offering of shares last Friday raised $18.4 billion — America’s second-largest IPO after Visa’s $19.65 billion in 2008 — and valued the social networking website at $104 billion, 23rd in stock market capitalization. The next day, its 56% owner and founding CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, 28, married his girlfriend of nearly a decade, 27-year-old medicine graduate Priscilla Chan, at his Palo Alto home.

emptying their bank accounts before their euros are converted to drachmas.

What’s wrong with this picture? For billions of people across the planet, including many of some 850 million exchanging messages, visages and images on Facebook, their own economic prospects are anything but the bubbly expectations of those who bought the stock at 422 times its latest quarterly earnings per share. For the more than 230 million Facebookers in Europe, things got decidedly tougher the past week, with the feared exit by debtstrapped Greece from the euro currency. Most of the 3.6 million Greeks on Facebook may interrupt their browsing to join the rest of the country’s 10.7 million people in

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The rest of Europe will sink deeper into recession as bank lending and private investment further contracts, and the euro plummets in value, hitting consumer buying power. That would put the brakes on the rest of the world economy, just when China is showing signs of a slowdown, and the U.S., while doing better than expected, faces a sharp fiscal crunch with tax breaks ending and drastic spending cuts due in 2013. So is the Facebook IPO the last party before another global slump? Let’s hear it from the world economy’s watchers at its main financial trouble-shooting shop, the International Monetary Fund. For its annual spring meetings with its sister institution, the World Bank, on April 21 in Washington, the IMF published an update of its World Economic Outlook report. In its executive summary, the WEO said “weak recovery will likely resume in the major advanced economies, and activity is expected to remain relatively solid in

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6 most emerging and developing economies. However, the recent improvements are very fragile.” Translation: We’re making progress, but we’re not out of the woods. Or as investment bank Morgan Stanley’s Global Economic Forum puts it, the global expansion is “bumpy, below-par and brittle.” The Fund expects “the reacceleration of activity during the course of 2012 ... to return global growth to about 4% in 2013.” That would be back to last year’s pace after slowing to a projected 3.5% this year. Advanced economies crawling at 1.5% in 2012 could speed up to 2% next year, while emerging and developing nations see expansion dip from 6.25% in 2011 to 5.75% this year, then climb to 6% next. Containing contagion. But that was before Greece rekindled fears of financial contagion last week. It set new elections on June 17 after this month’s polls failed to produce a coalition government to implement tough austerity measures in exchange for bailout loans. Without the credit, the country would default on loans, exacerbating Europe’s crisis and possibly triggering a new global contagion. If that happens, predicts the Fund’s WEO, that could shave 2% off world economic output this year and next. The European Commission’s European Economic Forecast for spring had a first chapter titled “The EU Economy: From Recession to a Slow Recovery,” expressing hopes of a turnaround — with a big if: “Going forward, based on the assumption that the euro area will successfully handle crisis-related challenges, a return of confidence over the course of 2012 is expected.” That now boils down to Greece staying in the zone, and the European Union

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ratifying and carrying out its March 2 fiscal commitment treaty. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde has had no illusions about the challenge of staving off recession and financial meltdown. Last week she told The Telegraph newspaper of London, referring to Greece exiting the euro zone: “It would be extremely expensive and not just in Greece, extremely expensive and hard.” She said the Fund is getting ready just in case. “We at the IMF had to be technically prepared for anything, because it is our job,” she explained.

No wonder the former French finance minister and head of international law firm Baker & McKenzie had been pushing for Singapore Deputy Prime Minister T increased of IMF policy committee, with IMF M Global consensus for medium-term rescue money for the Fund as a “global firewall” against future crises. Ahead of the IMF-World Bank meetings Lagarde made a last-ditch call for $400 billion in additional resources for the Fund, down from an initial target of $600 billion before the U.S. refused to join the capital-raising exercise. By meeting’s end, the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies agreed to more than double IMF resources by more than $430 billion. “The firewall is a recognition that you need a global safety net, not just a

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European regional safety net,” explained Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Thanam Shanmugaratnam, chairman of the Fund’s policy-making International Monetary and Finance Committee (IMFC), on the sidelines of the meetings. He also lauded a “a joining of minds on the criticality of medium-term sustainability. We have to think creatively about policies which can help to get growth going without compromising on market confidence.” That means, he said, “moving away from short-term stimulus thinking to thinking how we can recreate the basis for growth a few years from now.” Bear in the China shop. Besides new troubles in the euro zone, another recent worry in business circles is harman Shanmugaratnam, chairman China’s Managing Director Christine Lagarde: action and global firewall IMF video economic slowdown. As reported by Reuters, last Friday, China’s State Information Center, a government think tank, estimated that in the second quarter the economy had decelerated to 7.5%, the slowest since the midst of the global recession in the first quarter of 2009. Attributed to “property tightening measures and weakening global demand,” the slowdown was still in line with the official GDP growth target. No matter: analysts like DailyFinance.com were quick to blog

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warnings like “China’s Economic Slowdown Foreshadows Trouble for the U.S.” Besides watchers of the American economy, oil futures traders also saw reason for gloom in Greece’s woe and China slow. Top global bond investment company PIMCO joined leading banks Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and Switzerland’s UBS in cutting China growth forecasts. PIMCO adjusted its projection to 7.5%, the lowest annual rate in 13 years, and the lower end of banks’ revised forecasts. A day after the China think tank estimate, Bloomberg reported that Goldman Sachs also trimmed its 2012 forecast five percentage points less to 8.1%. In a survey of 21 economists conducted by Bloomberg last week, the median forecast for China growth was 8.2%, the slowest since 7.6% in 1999 and a full percentage point down from last year’s 9.2% clip. Many see third-quarter growth picking up, on the expectation that the government would further ease interest rates. But pumping more renminbi into the economy may not help much if bad loans hold back lending, and businesses don’t have profitable reasons to boost production and invest. Bank lending is stagnant, says Xiang Songzuo, chief economist for the giant China Agricultural Bank, in the Christian Science Monitor’s “Why China’s economy may be heading for a hard landing.” The May 17 story notes that industrial production grew 9.3% last month, the slowest since the global slump. Speaking to Bloomberg, former IMF expert Xiang Zhiwei, now Hong Kong-based chief economist of Nomura Holdings, cited “bad trade, production and [foreign direct investment] data,” with FDI falling for six months in a row.

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Nomura Hong Kong economist Zhang Zhiwei cites dropping China trade, production and investment and urges stronger monetary and fiscal measures to boost growth Bloomberg

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported elsewhere, exports and imports grew 4.9% and 0.3%, sharply down from consensus projections of 8.5% and 10.5%, respectively. “A very weak economy at this point,” Zhang concludes, adding that reducing bank reserve requirement ratios isn’t enough, “as it helps loan supply rather than demand.” His prescription: more infrastructure spending and interest-rate cuts. America picks up pace. If Europe and China are worrisome, the United States is showing signs of slightly betterthan-expected progress. Take this May 9 presentation by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Compared with past recoveries from deep recessions, the current U.S. rebound is “muted,” reports Chicago Fed senior economist William Strauss, with just 2.1% growth in the past year. The economy is forecast to grow “below trend this year and slightly above trend in 2013.”

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Even with that slower-than-usual recovery, 1.8 million jobs were added in the past 12 months, and unemployment has dropped by 1.9 percentage points since the 2009 peak. And more jobs are expected, with solid manufacturing growth. Indeed, factory output has risen strongly in the past 33 months, recovering nearly three-quarters of the production decline during the recession. Inflation is up, a sign of economic and spending pickup. However, inflationadjusted oil prices are lower than their 1980 high, while gas prices are sharply down, and energy expenditures are below the historical average. Thus, the Federal Reserve can hold interest rates down without spiking inflation. Argentina’s BBVA shares the upbeat outlook of many other international banks watching the American economy. While it sees “mixed signals on the strength and sustainability of

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the recovery,” first-quarter data support its expectation of more robust growth through the year. BBVA reports that the 2.9% surge in consumer spending in the first quarter — the fastest since late 2006 — offset weakness elsewhere in the economy. Notably, BBVA differed a bit from the Chicago Fed in noting a manufacturing slowdown in the first quarter. But the prognosis for the year remains decent, with 2.3% growth projected. Contributing to GDP growth for the first time since the 2008-09 recession is the residential investment, with several housing-related industries also showing slightly positive movements. Among them: fabric and textile mills, household and institutional furniture, and paint. One more plus sector: growth in services is helping offset some job losses in industry, especially with cutbacks in mining and energy.

9

The coming U.S. fiscal cliff. So where’s the brittle side in the American economic picture? Like Europe, the crack in the glass is a fiscal one: the market-imposed imperative to reduce public deficits and debt. At the stroke of midnight on December 31, the current regime of Bushera middle-class tax breaks, the 2011-12 payroll tax cut, and growth-spurring budgetary spending turns into a pumpkin, so to speak. Add to the expiring state largesse the expected decline in defense outlays as waves of U.S. troops come home from Afghanistan. How big is this removal of tax cuts and forced budget reductions? Most economists estimate their combined value at 3.5% of GDP, including $1.2 trillion in legislated spending cuts under the DemocraticRepublican deal to raise the federal debt ceiling last August. But Morgan Stanley’s April 13 report, “How Big Is the Fiscal

WHAT’S AHEAD FOR AMERICA The Conference Board Forecasts, 2011 Actual and 2012-13 Projections

2012 Real GDP Real Consumer Spending Housing Starts Mil. Units Real Capital Spending Net Exports Bil. ‘00$

2013

2011 2012 2013

I Q*

II Q

III Q

IV Q

IQ

II Q

ANNUAL

ANNUAL

ANNUAL

2.2 2.9 0.69 -2.1

1.7 2.4 0.72 5.9

2.3 2.5 0.74 6.5

2.4 2.7 0.77 6.8

2.6 2.6 0.77 6.7

2.5 2.3 0.81 7.8

1.7 2.2 0.61 8.8

2.2 2.3 0.73 5.2

2.4 2.4 0.82 6.7

-410.1 -404.3 -398.0 -386.5 -375.1 -360.8 -413.6 -399.7 -350.5

*actual value

Table by The Conference Board

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10 Cliff in 2013?” puts it at 5%. Either way, for an economy growing at less than 3%, a reduction of 3.5%-5% in state-funded demand would tip America into recession. Most forecasters believe that the U.S. Congress will pass legislation to spread the fiscal pain over a longer period than all together on New Year’s Day. But that is not a sure thing, especially in the fractious aftermath of national elections in November. Even if another bipartisan deal is struck, a substantial portion of the tax and spending squeeze will still be felt in 2013, making Morgan Stanley analysts wonder why many economists expect next year’s growth to be faster than this year. Moreover, they may be forgetting why those tax cuts and federal spending have to go in the first place: market pressure to right Washington’s fiscal ship, whose shakiness already led Standard & Poor’s to downgrade U.S. sovereign credit to below triple-A over a year ago. If Congress puts off the January fiscal Armageddon without putting a credible deficit-and-debt reduction program

in its place, the dollar and the government’s credit rating and costs will pay the price, with negative impact on the economy. Hence, Morgan Stanley expects some “meaningful” budgetary and tax tightening next year: “an expiration of the payroll tax cut, some rejigged spending cuts, and other miscellaneous measures to lead to about a 1.5% of GDP fiscal tightening in 2013.” That forecast would pare one percentage point off next year’s baseline expansion. But even this mild scenario demands a big if: that Democrats and Republicans, after being hopelessly occupied before elections, would find the time and inclination to enact the needed legislation between midNovember and the Christmas break, as they did in 2010. Austerity and bailout fatigue. But more than partisan politics, the bigger difficulty in balancing fiscal reform and growth is the citizenry’s general unwillingness to sacrifice for balanced budgets, whether they are cashstrapped Greeks or debt-ridden Americans. “People are saying, ‘Austerity, austerity —

Former investment banker Michael Milken interviewing economist Nouriel Roubini: People say, ‘Austerity, austerity — where’s the growth?‘ Milken Institute/YouTube

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WHERE ASIA SELLS Share of Exports Linked to Demand from Europe 35 30 25 20 15 10

In percent of exports linked to demand outside Asia

Philippines

Malaysia

Japan

Indonesia

Taiwan Province of China

China

Thailand

Singapore

0

Korea

5

In percent of GDP

Correlation of Exports to China with China’s Exports to Asian Selected Economies 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1

2000-05

Taiwan Province of China

Korea

Singapore

Indonesia

Malaysia

Japan

Thailand

Australia

Philippines

Hong Kong SAR

-0.1

New Zealand

0.0

2006-11 IMF Regional Economic Outlook: Asia Pacific, April 2012, pages 6 and 41

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New risks for a fragile world recovery

where is growth?’,” says economist Nouriel Roubini in his May 3 Milken Institute interview. The New York University professor, who famously predicted the 2008 U.S. financial crisis, thinks that due to this austerity fatigue, “either this year or next, Greece is highly likely to default on its debt and exit the eurozone.” (On the other hand, he also mentions bailout fatigue in countries like Germany tired of paying billions for financial rescues.)

GROWING ASIA Real GDP % Change in 2011 and 2012-13 Forecast

Industrial Asia Australia Japan New Zealand East Asia China Hong Kong SAR Korea Taiwan Province of China South Asia Bangladesh India Sri Lanka ASEAN Brunei Darussalam Cambodia Indonesia Lao P.D.R. Malaysia Myanmar Philippines Singapore Thailand Vietnam Emerging Asia*

2011 -0.2 2.0 -0.7 1.4 8.2 9.2 5.0 3.6 4.0 7.1 6.1 7.1 8.2 4.6 1.9 6.1 6.5 8.3 5.1 5.5 3.7 4.9 0.1 5.9 7.4

2012 2.2 3.0 2.0 2.3 7.3 8.2 2.6 3.5 3.6 6.8 5.9 6.9 7.5 5.2 3.2 6.2 6.1 8.4 4.4 6.0 4.2 2.7 5.5 5.6 6.9

2013 2.0 3.5 1.7 3.2 8.0 8.8 4.2 4.0 4.7 7.2 6.4 7.3 7.0 6.0 1.6 6.4 6.6 7.1 4.7 5.9 4.7 3.9 7.5 6.3 7.5

source: IMF Regional Economic Outlook: Asia Pacific, April 2012, page 5

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In his Project Syndicate article, “Greece Must Exit,” Roubini spells out what he believes is the only way forward for Athens: “Greece is stuck in a vicious cycle of insolvency, lost competitiveness, external deficits, and ever-deepening depression. The only way to stop it is to begin an orderly default and exit, coordinated and financed by the European Central Bank, the European Commission, and the International Monetary Fund (the ‘Troika’), that minimizes collateral damage to Greece and the rest of the eurozone.” He sets out an ugly but, in his view, unavoidable scenario of managing Greek default. And if that horror story whets one’s appetite for more, try “Get Ready for the Spanish Bailout.” What about America? Will it bite the bullet? Or will it too become a “train wreck,” as Roubini says of Europe’s fiscal landscape in his talk with former investment banker Michael Milken. If so, will the American economy tank, not to mention the world’s? And what is Asia to do in the continuing economic malaise in big markets? That is the subject of the IMF’s Regional Economic Outlook: Asia Pacific, April 2012, subtitled “Managing Spillovers and Advancing Economic Rebalancing. The report assesses the likely impact on Asia of the West’s economic and financial troubles, and recommends measures to address it. The Fund also urges measures to rebalance the region’s economies away from export dependence and toward greater reliance on domestic consumption and investment spending for economic growth. In a world of turmoil, that is exactly the formula to keep Asia growing.

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NEWS ON THE NET Business

SBMA upbeat on ‘Subic BPO City’ project Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Roberto V. Garcia shared his positive outlook for the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in the region recently, as he address more than 200 graduating students of Olongapo City's AMA College. Banking on the infrastructure projects within the freeport zone, Garcia said that his management team has made plans to establish a "BPO City" inside Subic. "You are lucky," he assured the graduates, "because there are lots of jobs waiting for you in the Subic Freeport." Further explanation from Garcia revealed that the future of BPO and Information Technology businesses in general has become very promising for the Philippines, especially after it overtook India as the call center capital of the world. The planned Subic BPO City seeks to capitalize on the rising trend, and is poised to create jobs for more than 20,000 IT-BPO workers by 2016. In fact, PLDT's Vitro Data Center was recently launched in the area to help spur the local growth of the IT and BPO industry. The developments in Subic are only part of a concentrated effort by the government, through the Department of Science and Technology Information and

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Communications Technology Office, to aim for a higher 2016 revenue target from the IT-BPO industry – raising it from $25 billion to $27.4 billion.

PH conglomerates post higher Q1 profits Improved economic activity in the country during the first quarter of 2012 appears to have boosted several of the Philippines' leading conglomerates. Last month, Gokongwei-led JG Summit Holdings Inc. was optimistic about its profits for this year due to a rising consumer demand for its varied products. Accordingly, the company's first quarter net income rose 76.7% to ₧4.91 billion, in comparison to compared to ₧2.78 billion during the first quarter of 2011. Similarly, Gotianun family-led Filinvest Development Corp. (FDC) posted a consolidated net income of ₧1.21 billion in the first quarter of 2012, 6.1% higher than the ₧1.14 billion from first quarter numbers last year. FDC's real estate business accounted for 51% of the total revenues. Meanwhile, GT Capital Holdings, flagship of tycoon George Ty, registered a net income of ₧1.3 billion in the first quarter of this year, an increase of 50.5% from 2011 numbers. Lopez Holdings Corp. – with a 60.3% economic interest in ABS-

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CBN and 46.6% in First Philippine Holdings Corporation as of December 2011 – experienced a first-quarter net income increase of 192% to ₧2.63 billion compared to ₧902 million recorded during the same period last year. However, ABS-CBN itself posted a staggering profit drop of 69% for the first three months of 2012. .

Shipbuilder Hanjin Philippines to hire at least 10,000 workers South Korean Shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries & ConstructionPhilippines Inc. (HHIC), through HHIC president Jin Kyu Ahn, has announced that it is planning to hire at least 10,000 more workers this 2012 for its shipyard in Zambales' Subic Bay Freeport Zone. The company has about 20,000 local employees currently. The Hanjin official noted that the promised jobs would clearly "benefit the Philippine economy, and bring opportunities to Filipino entrepreneurs and skilled workers, and much needed revenue to the Philippine government." According to the Maritime Industry Authority, the Philippines is the world’s fourth-largest shipbuilding country. The arrival of foreign shipbuilders such as HHIC in the country is a major factor that has spurred the growth of this industry, at the same time that overseas Filipino workers are in demand in foreign shipyards.

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In Pursuit of Rice Self-Sufficiency by 2013 Promised, pursued, and probably attainable, but at what cost? By Joanne Angela B. Marzan

STRATEGY POINTS The Department of Agriculture is optimistic that by 2014, one of President Aquino's agricultural milestones of rice self-sufficiency would finally be attained, even as some wonder whether this target can be achieved with middling economic growth and a rapidly growing population A couple of papers from Philippine Institute for Development Studies have examined the country's historic rice self-sufficiency policies, and blame them for causing soaring rice prices that threaten the food security of the poorest sectors of society Rice self-sufficiency is a most worthy goal, but not at the expense of food security

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“W

e’ll achieve rice self-sufficiency after 2013, so beginning 2014. Next year, we anticipate nakulangin tayo konti na lang [Next year, we anticipate the shortfall to be minimal]. We'll start to export next year, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala told the ABS-CBN news channel in a May 4 report posted on the abs-cbn news website.

In fact, Secretary Alcala mentioned in a May 9 press conference of the Department of Agriculture (DA) that the country’s production target of palay (paddy rice) is “on track,” at 3.99 million metric tons (MMT) for the 1st quarter and 3.85 MMT for the 2nd quarter, for a combined 7.84 MMT for the first semester of the year. This means that the country has reached 42% of its 18.46 MMT palay production target for the year. Meanwhile, President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino echoed this promised milestone to the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) attending the 45thAnnual Meeting in Manila from May 2-5, 2012. But not before taking a swipe at the previous administration. During his ADB speech, President Aquino said, “Rice, imported at inflated cost by the government, was rotting away in rented warehouses,” and then proudly announced that through the reforms implemented by his administration, the Philippines is “less than a year away from being a net exporter of rice,” should the weather cooperate.

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In pursuit of rice self-sufficiency by 2013

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Whether it's in fact, worth all Agriculture the fuss. Secretary Alcala you To put things want to hold in some to his promise perspective, of rice selfthe Philippines sufficiency might be the by 2014, or world's largest President importer of rice, Aquino to but it's not as if his promise the Philippines   of rice selfdoesn't produce In this video clip President Aquino expounds on the accomplishments of his administration during the 45th sufficiency a lot of rice. In Annual Meeting of the ADB Board of Governors within a year fact, according ABS-CBN of his speech to the table to the ADB below from Board of Governors in May, it would look “Rice Self-Sufficiency or Rice Security? as if the goal is seen as eminently doable, if Some Statistics on Rice and Exports,” by not practically a fait accompli. Dr. Romulo A. Virola and Mark C. Pascasio of the National Statistics Coordination And with all that, we would now like Board, in 2008, the Philippines produced to ask whether rice self-sufficiency is, the eighth-most rice in the world.

2008 TOP 10 PRODUCERS OF RICE, PADDY China India Indonesia Bangladesh Viet Nam Myanmar Thailand Philippines Brazil Japan

Country

2008 (in tonnes) 193,354,180 148,770,000 60,251,000 46,742,000 38,725,100 32,573,000 31,650,600 16,815,500 12,061,500 11,028,800

Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Source: “Rice Self-Sufficiency or Rice Security? Some Statistics on Rice and Exports,” Aug. 8, 2011, posted in “Statistically Speaking,” Dr. Romulo A. Virola and Mark C. Pascasio, National Statistics Coordination Board

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ASEAN EXPORTER ASEAN Country Thailand Viet Nam Myanmar Singapore Cambodia

Philippines Malaysia Indonesia Brunei Darussalam

1970 (in tonnes) 1,047,460 18,479 640,964 33,859 177,688

Rank

70 -

1 5 2 4 3 6 -

1980 (in tonnes) 2,762,920 33,300 653,100 13,342 256,390 10,003 -

According to statistics from the aforementioned article, provided in the table above, in 1980, the Philippines exported the third-largest quantity of rice in Southeast Asia, after Thailand and Myanmar. In fact, up until 1992, the Philippines was still rice self-sufficient enough to be a net exporter of rice. The problem is that in 1993, the Philippines’ rice consumption, fueled by an ever-growing population, started to overtake its production. In 2008, the Philippines imported 2.5 million metric tons of rice, highest in the world, fueled by both its fast-growing population and a global food crisis.

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Rank 1 4 2 5 3 6 -

1990 (in tonnes) 3,557,820 1,624,000 213,600 1,964 -

Rank

2 57 -

2000 (in tonnes) 5,282,160 3,476,980 251,400 4,105 4,860

1 2 3 4 6 5 -

224 63 196 -F

achieved because of “our still unresolved population management policy as well as the relative slow rise in family incomes.” At a March Department of Agriculture symposium about “Broad-based Strategies for Food Security and Changing World Food Markets,” Dr. Javier posited that “... until such time that our economy consistently attains high growth rates like our neighbors, diversification of food preference from rice to other food commodities associated with increasing incomes will be relatively slow. Thus, total effective demand of rice will continue to rise in the intermediate future.”

For all the progress the country has made and is making in rice production, one noted agriculturist believes that President Aquino’s “reiteration of the policy of selfsufficiency in rice is a political strategy and not a poverty strategy.”

Politics and rice have always gone together. The historical relationship between politics and rice was discussed in the July 2005 Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) discussion paper, Rice and Philippine Politics, by Ponciano S. Intal Jr. and Marissa C. Garcia.

According to Dr. Emil Q. Javier, president of the National Academy of Science and Technology, rice self-sufficiency will not be

The study said that rice has been a “pivotal political commodity since the Commonwealth,” for rice has become

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S OF RICE MILLED Rank 1 2 3 5 4 6 8 7 -

2005 (in tonnes) 6,043,550 5,250,000 180,000 82,239 1,384 R 75 R 1,531 * 42,280 -F

Rank 1 2 3 4 7 8 6 5 -

2006 (in tonnes) 5,996,420 4,642,000 71,180 R 67,070 3,444 R 1,370 R 1,157 907 369 R

Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

2007 (in tonnes) 7,408,300 4,558,000 358,500 74,872 1,170 R 68 R 54 336 -*

Rank 1 2 3 4 5 7 8 6 -

2008 (in tonnes) 8,672,450 4,735,170 40,924 R 13,607 4,299 R 1,298 R 860 * 429 14 R

Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Source: “Rice Self-Sufficiency or Rice Security? Some Statistics on Rice and Exports,” Aug. 8, 2011, posted in “Statistically Speaking,” Dr. Romulo A. Virola and Mark C. Pascasio, National Statistics Coordination Board

the “staple food and calorie source for majority of the population, especially in the low-income groups.” As such, the study continued, a strong relationship between rice and politics can be seen throughout the country’s history. The

report claimed that the price of rice has been a “significant determinant in election results since the 1950s.” However, the study also criticized the government’s use of “price intervention

A matter of geography How did the Philippines, which has long been in the forefront of rice research, with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Laguna, become the world’s top importer of rice? A 2006 study, “Why Does the Philippines Import Rice? Meeting the challenge of trade liberalization,” published by the IRRI and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), offered an interesting, if not very obvious answer to its self-posed question. The main reason, it turns out, might not owe so much to bad politicians, corruption, incompetence, or laziness, as it might to basic geography. “Exporters occupy river deltas with lots of land in general, and lots of land suitable for rice in particular. These countries are all located in mainland Southeast Asia: Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar,” the study explained. The Philippines, for its part, is an island nation without any major river deltas, one of a number of similarly configured Asian nations who have been historical rice importers – Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka. In addition, the IRRI and PhilRice study also defended the Filipino farmer. “Some may think the Filipino farmer is simply backward and cannot produce rice efficiently. But a detailed survey of farmers in the various rice bowls of Asia found that Filipino farmers were among the leaders in reducing insecticide use, and have progressed farther in mechanizing land preparation and postharvest operations than their counterparts in any other developing Asian country except Thailand,” the study claimed.

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18 instruments” which has favored rice farmers during a specific time period.” The PIDS over consumers. The shift to high study explained that the National Food nominal protection rates results in higher Authority (NFA) is mandated by law to set domestic prices for rice to benefit producers, while lower nominal protection rates imply low domestic prices that would The NFA’s 100-billion problem favor consumers. The National Food Authority (NFA) is mandated to guarantee “the food security of the country and the “[R]eliance by the Philippine stability of supply and price of the staple grain-rice.” government primarily on price As such, NFA is the government agency tasked to instruments to achieve its rice ensure that rice supply remains affordable for the objectives and to protect farmer Filipino amidst soaring rice prices. and consumer interests has

not resulted in any substantial improvements in rice production. In fact, the shift to rice protection since the 1980s has failed to stabilize domestic rice prices and has effectively penalized the poorer households.” ‘Obsolete and increasingly untenable.’ A more recent PIDS Policy Notes reiterated that the country’s rice self-sufficiency policies are “obsolete and increasingly untenable.”

Perhaps it should come as no surprise then, that according to a recently released 2009 report of the Commission on Audit (COA), the NFA lost more than P100 billion in 10 years trying to balance food security with stable prices, as reported in a May 18 article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The Inquirer report said, “Huge rice imports and a policy of buying high, selling low and storing long have resulted in the National Food Authority losing more than ₧100 billion in a span of 10 years.” In 2008 alone, COA said that the NFA suffered its biggest net loss of ₧32.20 billion due to the global

GROSS REVENUES AND EXPENSES

  90,000

80,000 70,000 60,000 50,000 40,000 30,000 20,000 10,000 0

1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001

A May 2011 PIDS Policy Notes brief, “Putting Rice on the Table: rice policy, the WTO, and food security,” by Roehlano Briones and Danileen Kristel Parel, assailed the country’s special treatment of rice since 1994, as approved by the World Trade Organization (WTO), through the granting of a Quantitative Restriction (QR) on rice imports to protect rice farmers, has led to higher prices of rice, which affect the poorest of the poor.

Gross Revenues

The WTO defines QR as “specific limits on the quantity or value of goods that can be imported (or exported)

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annually the volume of rice to be imported by the country, while taking into consideration a recommendation by an inter-agency committee.

The country’s QR on rice will, however, expire on June 30, 2012. The PIDS study believes that it was about time the country lifted the

food crisis. In 2009, the NFA lost ₧26.42 billion, its second biggest loss ever. In 2006, the NFA lost ₧10.97 billion, ₧6.66 billion in 2003, ₧6.47 billion in 2004, ₧5.12 in 2005, ₧4.28 billion in 2000, ₧4.12 in 2002, ₧2.89 in 2007 and finally, ₧1.75 billion in 2001.

Putting Rice on the Table: rice policy, the WTO, and food security by Roehlano M. Briones and Danileen Kristel C. Parel, also considered the NFA’s policy of ‘buy high, sell low’ as the main reason for the “financial hemorrhage” plaguing the agency.

For its part, the Inquirer report said that the NFA told the COA that “its policy of buying high, selling low and storing long which is causing the rice trading agency to operate at a loss was part of its social mandate to help farmers and ensure the country’s security and stability in its staple food.” The NFA also said that it has continuously appealed to the government to “increase the selling price of rice in order to reduce its loss or at least allow it to break even” but these requests have fallen on deaf ears.

PIDS, however, also mentioned other reasons for the NFA’s big losses, some of which include “operational inefficiencies, such as low stock turnover, poor financial management information system, overstaffing and administrative costs, policy constraints and bureaucratic processes, and weak equity base.”

Meanwhile, the May 2011 Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) Policy Notes,

Net Worth and Debt of the NFA (million pesos)

 

2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009

The figures below (left) illustrate the NFA’s gross revenues vis-à-vis expenses from 1994-2009, and a comparison of the NFA’s net worth and debt over the same period (right).

NET WORTH AND DEBT OF THE NFA (IN MILLIONS)

OF THE NFA

Expenses

19

160,000 140,000 120,000 100,000 80,000 60,000 40,000 20,000 0 -20,000 1994 -40,000 -60,000 -80,000 -100,000 -120,000

1996

1998

Net Worth

2000

2002

2004

2006

2008

Debt

Source: Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) Policy Notes, Putting Rice on the Table: rice policy, the WTO, and food security

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20 rice-importation limit in order to make rice more affordable to consumers.

other crops where the country does have comparative advantage.

“This study recommends against negotiating a further extension of the special treatment for rice under the WTO. After 2012, the rice QR should be tariffied; that is, importation is liberalized subject to payment of custom duties. This eliminates the problem of setting up a fair, efficient, and credible allocation of the import quota,” the PIDS brief proposed.

The PIDS proposal might be falling on deaf ears, as NFA administrator Lito Banayo admitted in a May 15 Philippine Star article that negotiations for the extension of the QR on rice have begun. “We need to find out if we can get the support of countries we are negotiating with for the extension of the special treatment on rice,” Banayo said. He added that ongoing negotiations were in preparation for the June 22 meeting with the WTO Council for Trade in Goods.

The authors attribute the high cost of self-sufficiency to the country’s lack of comparative advantage in rice production, and argue that under import liberalization, farmers would shift to

Additionally, the report added that in October 2011, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that the country would offer

The Aquino administration’s road to self-sufficiency in food staples The Food Staples Self-Sufficiency Roadmap 20112016 aims to: 1. Produce at least 21.11 and 22.49 million tons of palay by end of 2013 and 2016; 2. Maintain per capita rice consumption at 120 kg/ year; and 3. Increase production of non-rice staples by 3.5% annually. Non-rice staples include white corn, cassava, and sweet potato. A three-pronged approach is designed by the government in order to achieve self-sufficiency in food staples: 1. Increasing and sustaining the gains in production 2. Mechanizing and reducing post harvest losses 3. Managing consumption More specifically, the interventions identified by the government to increase production are: 1. Development and maintenance of irrigation systems 2. Increase farmers’ access to quality seeds

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3. Research & Development and promotion of appropriate technologies 4. Extension and farmers education 5. Development of upland rice-based farming systems Meanwhile, enabling mechanisms are to be implemented to help reach the self-sufficiency target. These are: 1. Reforming the National Food Authority 2. Accessibility of credit 3. Crop insurance 4. Safeguard irrigated rice from conversion The budgetary requirement needed to achieve 100% self-sufficiency in food staples by 2016 is set at ₧141.94 billion. Of this amount, ₧97.47 billion or 69% has been allocated for irrigation, ₧18.54 billion or 13% for farm mechanization and postharvest loss reduction, ₧17.69 billion or 12% for research, development and education, ₧4 billion or 3% for regulatory, policy formulation and seed buffer stocking and

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lower tariffs for rice imports to convince other countries to agree on a QR extension. From the current 40% duty imposed on rice imports within the minimum access volume (MAV) of 350,000 metric tons, Secretary Alcala said that the tariff would be lowered to 35%. Meanwhile, rice imports beyond the MAV are imposed a huge 50% tariff. The perils of rice import restrictions. A March 2011 Australian National University Working Paper in Trade and Development, “Food Security vs. Food SelfSufficiency: The Indonesian Case,” by Peter Warr, also discusses the perils of promoting rice-importation restrictions as a policy for achieving self-sufficiency in an Indonesian setting.

Up until the early 2000s, Indonesia was the world’s largest importer of rice. In 2004, the Indonesian government imposed an import-restriction policy similar to the Philippines, which led to a 28% increase in domestic rice prices in relation to world market prices in 2006. According to the study, the higher cost of rice prices resulted in a 2.5% increase in poverty incidence in Indonesia. “The argument being advanced here is not that Indonesia’s self-sufficiency policy is a bad idea, but that protection policy (the import ban) as an instrument of achieving it results in unnecessary social costs and places food self-sufficiency into

₧4.25 billion or 3% for balance fertilization and sustainable agriculture. In President Benigno Aquino III’s 2012 budget message, he announced that the Department of Agriculture (DA) got the biggest budget increase, 53.6%, from a budget of ₧35.2 billion in 2011 to ₧54.1 billion in 2012, making it the fifth-largest department in government. Meanwhile, the Alternative Budget Initiative (ABI) Agriculture Cluster, a program under the civil-society initiative Social Watch Philippines, is concerned that the government is placing too much focus on irrigation, which has led to infrastructure getting the biggest share in the DA’s 2012 budget. “While it supports the budget increase, the ABI Agriculture Working Group raises caution in the over-emphasis to irrigation projects -- NIA [National Irrigation Authority] in particular--- without first the benefit of an inventory of its assets and

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assessment of its accomplishments, particularly in the last three years when its budget had risen to significant levels in an effort to mitigate the rice crisis in 2008,” the press release prepared by the Rice Watch and Action Network (R1) said. The ABI Agriculture Working Group reiterated that while they are one with the government in believing that the “main driver in propelling rice production is irrigation,” findings coming from the Commission of Audit [COA] raises doubt over NIA’s capability to implement large scale irrigation projects. As an example, the ABI Agriculture Working Group said that in a 2009 COA audit report, COA failed to “validate” about 93% of “NIA’s Property, Plant and Equipment (including irrigation canals and laterals) under its General Fund amounting to ₧ 64.237 billion due to accounting deficiencies, inadequate subsidiary records and non-reconciliation of inventory reports with accounting records.”

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22 conflict with the goals of food security and poverty reduction,” the study argues.

While we laud the government for wanting to achieve rice self-sufficiency, what is important is that food security should not suffer in pursuit of this goal. Put

For Warr, a more sustainable strategy for attaining self-sufficiency is the promotion of “improved Waste not, want not agricultural productivity,” “Every Filipino wastes an average of 3 tablespoons which, he explains, “reduces (9 grams) of rice daily, which is equivalent to 3.3 imports by raising agricultural kilograms per year,” according to an article, “That output but does so without Rice You Throw Away,” published in the April – June raising the domestic price of 2012 edition of Rice Today magazine from the food, and so, without creating International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) (p.27). a conflict between the goals of higher levels of self-sufficiency “With 94 million people and 9 grams of wasted rice on the one hand and food per day, the total wastage is 308,000 tons… or 36 security and poverty reduction percent of the 2011 rice imports,” the IRRI article on the other.” explains. The price tag for the rice wastage is a whopping ₧23 million (US$535,000) every day, or about ₧8.3 billion a year, “enough to feed 3 million Hence, if we examine closely people.” the government’s food selfsufficiency banner program, Food Staples Self-Sufficiency Roadmap 2011-2016, much emphasis has been given to increasing rice productivity. Admittedly, much attention has been given to rice and rightly so. For the average Filipino, rice is needed to satisfy hunger, and for the government, rice selfsufficiency would be a source of national pride.

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Meanwhile, the 2011 study, Global Food Losses and Food Wastes, by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations said that about 1/3 of food produced, or about 1.3 billion tons is lost, or wasted globally every year. It comes as no surprise however that based on the study, industrialized countries waste more than developing countries. “We estimate that the per capita food waste by consumers in Europe and North-America is 95-115 kg/year, while this figure in Sub-Saharan Africa and South/Southeast Asia is only 6-11 kg/year,” said the report.

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another way, it would be most ironic if attaining rice self-sufficiency were to cause more hunger and poverty for the Filipino.

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In a nutshell, what really matters is that there is enough rice for everyone to afford. The rest is, well, just caramelized topping on the biko.

In connection with this, FAO also studies the causes of food losses and waste in middle to high-income countries as well as in developing nations. In the middle to high-income countries, food losses and waste can be attributed to “consumer behaviour as well as to a lack of coordination between different actors in the supply chain.”

storage and cooling facilities in difficult climatic conditions, infrastructure, packaging and marketing systems” as the main reasons of food losses and waste in low-income countries. “Given that many smallholder farmers in developing countries live on the margins of food insecurity, a reduction in food losses could have an immediate and significant impact on their livelihoods,” the FAO report stressed.

“Food can be wasted due to quality standards, which reject food items not perfect in shape or appearance. At the consumer level, insufficient purchase In response to planning and expiring alarming data on food ‘best-before-dates’ also losses and wastage, cause large amounts of the Philippine Rice waste, in combination Research Institute   with the careless (PhilRice) started Save Rice, Save Lives advocacy TVC by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) YouTube attitude of those the Save Rice, Save consumers who can Lives campaign. afford to waste food,” The campaign the FAO report explained. “encourages Filipinos to ‘Eat their rice right’—the right amount, and no leftovers.” The same cannot be said for developing countries, though. The FAO identifies “financial, managerial Above is one of the advocacy materials produced and technical limitations in harvesting techniques, by PhilRice.

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The ‘New’ Bangsamoro Governance Entity Can this newly proposed solution to the Moro problem finally bring peace to the Land of Promise? By Atty. John Carlo Gil M. Sadian

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STRATEGY POINTS The prospects for peace in Mindanao got a boost in late April, when the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front announced an agreement in principle on several decision points, including the establishment of a “new autonomous political entity” to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao The devil might still be in the details, as implementation of decision points related to the new proposed political entity -- e.g., revenue-sharing and the expansion of Shari’ah law -- will still be subject to negotiation

In

late April, news emerged of a “breakthrough” in the 15-yearold peace process between the Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The “breakthrough” revolves around a document, “GPH-MILF Decision Points on Principles,” that mentions “a new autonomous political entity” that would ultimately replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). This comes two months after lead negotiators from both sides expressed pessimism about concluding negotiations in the near future. It should be remembered that in March, chief government negotiator Marvic Leonen warned both GPH and MILF panels that the peace process was already on the verge of reaching a “stalemate” because of both parties’ disagreement on what constitutes “genuine autonomy,” as it had been made apparent by MILF chief negotiator

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Mohagher Iqbal that what they want is a Muslim sub-state distinct from the already autonomous ARMM. Thus, the sudden turn of events after the 27th Round of Exploratory Talks in Malaysia is indeed a welcome development in the ailing peace process, especially after the Aquino administration refused to order military operations against rogue MILF members who ambushed a military contingent in Basilan in October. But we should not get ahead of ourselves and hail this development at face value, considering the bump that the GPH suffered in the botched Memorandum of Agreement on the Muslim Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) three years ago when the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the government’s attempt to give life to the proposed Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) that should have replaced the ARMM.

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26 Breakthrough? The three-year impasse that followed the junking of the MOAAD was marred with violence as clashes between government troops and rebel forces escalated. It was during the 27th Round of Exploratory Talks that new hope sprung forth as a document entitled “Decision Points on Principles” surfaced with much enthusiasm from both sides. Under this document, a “new autonomous political entity” governed by a “ministerial form of government” shall be introduced as a replacement for the current ARMM. This

new setup would be introduced during “a transition period” through the “institution of transitional mechanisms” under the new entity. One of the most special aspects of this new entity is its “power-sharing and wealth-sharing” rights vis-à-vis the national government, with an accompanying power to “to create its own sources of revenue,” i.e., to tax. The existing Shari’ah courts would also be strengthened by expanding their

Decades of separatist rebellion and peace negotiation Prior to the ill-fated MOA-AD, the government had already forged a number of agreements with Muslim secessionist groups, most significant of which was the Muammar Gaddafi-sponsored Tripoli Agreement, which the Marcos dictatorship signed with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1976. While this laid down the framework for future negotiations, its express recognition of “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines” divided the Muslim separatist movement, with MILF breaking away from the MNLF in 1996. Later on, the revolutionary government of Corazon Aquino took over the task of implementing the Tripoli Agreement under a newly-crafted Constitution which mandated the creation of an autonomous region in the Muslim areas of Mindanao. Implementing this constitutional mandate, Republic Act 6734 called for a plebiscite in 13 provinces and 9 cities, out of which only the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi voted favorably. When the Ramos administration finally inked the Final Peace Agreement with the MNLF in 1996, exploratory talks with the breakaway MILF was just being started. By 1999, this would collapse under the Estrada administration’s all-out war policy against the largest rebel group in the country MILF, only to be reversed by the Arroyo Administration’s policy of reaching out to all rebel groups in the country. Seven years of on-and-off talks with the MILF finally reached a “breakthrough” when the government announced that the peace panels of the GPH and the MILF finally agreed on a draft accord on the Ancestral Domain Aspect of the Tripoli Agreement (MOA-AD) scheduled for signing on August 5, 2008. Challenged by the provinces of North Cotabato, Zamboanga del Norte, Sultan Kudarat, and the cities of Zamboanga, Iligan, and Isabela, the “associative” relationship between the Philippine government vis-àvis the BJE, together with the method for its implementation, was nullified by the Supreme Court on the ground that “the Constitution does not recognize any state within this country other than the Philippine State, much less does it provide for the possibility of any transitory status to prepare any part of Philippine territory for independence.”

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jurisdiction and giving them “competence over the Shari’ah justice system.” The document also mentions “basic rights” ought to be afforded the “citizens residing in the new political entity.” Considering that the 10 decision points are vague declarations regarding the new entity, we cannot yet assess whether it can survive any constitutional challenge similar to that successfully posed against its predecessor. Nonetheless, as the points have been made public, it might be a good idea to consider them carefully, in the hope that they not suffer the same fate as befell the BJE. Compliance with the existing legal framework. Implementation of these Ten Points would of course need to comply with the existing legal framework under Philippine law, most important of which is the Constitution. Section 18, Article X of the fundamental law explicitly provides that the power to create an autonomous region rests in Congress subject to the favorable vote of the people through a plebiscite. Thus,the ARMM Organic Act (RA 6734) created the ARMM out of the four provinces that favorably voted in the plebiscite called by Congress in 1989. Another plebiscite was held under the ARMM Expansion Act (RA 9054), with only one other province and one city opting to join the ARMM. A “new Bangsamoro political entity,” should it replace the ARMM, must comply not only with the Constitution, but also with the ARMM Organic Act as amended by RA 9054. In addition to this, any attempt to create the entity must not require any amendment to the Constitution for it to be effective.

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It should be remembered that the main reason that the Supreme Court struck down the MOA-AD was because of the government’s commitment to the MILF that the necessary constitutional amendments would be made to implement the MOA-AD’s provisions. Justice Conchita Carpio Morales saw this as outright illegal, considering that the executive branch of government, which has no power whatsoever to propose any amendment to the Constitution, was then trying to guarantee something that it does not even have the power to do by itself. For the new entity to survive any constitutional challenge, its creation should not be based on any commitment on the part of the government to touch the Constitution. The 10 points, which were signed by both Leonen and Iqbal, laid down the general principles to guide the negotiations until the signing of a final peace pact. Here are the Ten Decision Points (in bold), each followed by comments. Decision Point No. 1: The Parties recognize Bangsamoro identity and the legitimate grievances and claims of the Bangsamoro people. The first decision point concerns the recognition of a “Bangsamoro identity.” Whatever identity that is would heavily depend on how most of the country would accept a radical change in the image of Muslim Filipinos. According to Philippine Council on Islam and Democracy (PCID) director Amina Rasul, implementation of Decision Point 1 means “the whole nation will now have to look at fellow citizens in Muslim Mindanao and accept that Philippine history books have sold a story that is different from reality.”

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There should not be any legal issue rejected the sub-state proposed in the regarding the adoption of this Decision botched MOA-AD that introduced the Point because it requires no legislation “associative” relationship between the whatsoever. The task of the government Philippine government and the BJE. here involves information dissemination and media conditioning to The negotiating panels must It should be kept paint a whole new image take care not to risk another of the Moro people to the adverse Supreme Court ruling in mind that the rest of the country. creation of a new should the resulting entity be challenged in the High Court, entity to replace Decision Point No. especially with the MILF’s the ARMM must 2. The Parties agree insistence that such entity still be the same that the status quo would still be a “sub-state.” ‘autonomous is unacceptable Iqbal himself admitted that and that the Parties region’ mandated “[Just like] the Bangsamoro will work for the Juridical Entity, [the] sub-state, by Section 15, creation of a new new autonomous political entity Article X of the autonomous political [as termed by the government] Constitution entity in place of the are descriptions, not specific Autonomous Region names.” He also stressed that in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). “The Muslim sub-state in essence is a form of federal state.” This, according to leading peace process luminary Judge Soliman Santos, is In any case, it should be kept in mind that the “most significant consensus point the creation of a new entity to replace the substance-wise” as it would lead to ARMM must still be the same “autonomous a “qualitatively higher form of selfregion” mandated by Section 15, Article X determination/self-governance than the of the Constitution that would exist “within level of the ARMM.” This is so because the framework of this Constitution and the at the onset, the Muslim rebellion is national sovereignty as well as territorial really based on their demand for selfintegrity of the Republic of the Philippines.” determination, and the decades-old problem rests in the fact that both the Decision Point No. 3. The Parties government and the rebel forces fail to agree to the continuity of negotiations agree on what kind of self-determination in the context of agreed documents. best fits the region. This simply means both the GPH and Rasul believes that “The previous MILF the MILF agrees to adopt the previous demand for a sub-state in place of the documents signed in previous negotiations. present autonomous region was poisoned This, of course, excludes the ill-fated from the first, as the term evoked visions MOA-AD. of an independent Bangsamoro nation within the Philippines.” This is probably Decision Point No. 4. The Parties the reason why the Supreme Court itself agree that the new autonomous

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political entity shall have a ministerial form of government.

the peace panel committed to something that only Congress can do.

The present setup in the ARMM was established by the ARMM Organic Act, which provided a system of government similar to a presidential system with clear separation of powers between the executive (regional governor) and the legislature (regional assembly). Although the Constitution provides no specific instruction as to the form of government in autonomous regions established by Congress, the decision as to the adoption of a ministerial form government for the new entity must still emanate from Congress as the sole body empowered to create any autonomous region in the country.

Decision Point No. 5. The Parties agree to the need for a transition period and the institution of transitional mechanisms in order to implement the provisions of the agreement.

While such provision in the peace pact may not require any constitutional amendment, still, the peace panel, which is under the executive department, may not be in a position to commit a ministerial form of government for the new entity. This was the same mistake made in the MOA-AD when

Decision Point No. 6. There will be power-sharing and wealth-sharing between the National Government and the new political entity. In the matter of power-sharing, the National Government will have its reserved powers, the new political

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Logically, there needs to be a transition period during which the ARMM would pass on to the new entity its powers and responsibilities. This matter, however, should just be considered as vague propositions, considering that Congress would be the one with a final say on how the transition would be facilitated.

THE ARMM VS. THE BJE VS. THE NEW BANGSAMORO AUTONOMOUS POLITICAL ENTITY Creation

Form of government Relationship with the National Government Taxation

Jurisdiction of Shai’a courts

ARMM

BJE

The New Entity

Presidential-type with the governor as executive

Presidential-type with the governor as executive

Parliamentary

Association

Autonomy

Not mentioned

Allowed

RA 6734

Autonomy Allowed

Personal, family, and property laws

“Comprehensive Compact” to be signed after the MOA-AD takes effect

Not mentioned

Not mentioned

Expanded source: TCR compilation

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30 entity will have its exclusive powers, and there will be concurrent powers shared by the National Government and the new political entity. The parties agree that the following matters are reserved for the competence of the National Government: a. Defense and external security b. Foreign policy c. Common market and global trade d. Coinage and monetary policy e. Citizenship and naturalization f. Postal service This list is without prejudice to other powers, which the Parties may agree to reserve to the National Government in the course of the negotiation. National Government retains control (without prejudice to other powers which may be agreed on in future negotiations) over defense and external security, foreign policy, common market and global trade, coinage and monetary policy, citizenship and naturalization, postal service. Consistent with the constitutional mandate of devolution of powers to local governments, there is nothing new with Decision Point No. 6, considering that Article IV of the ARMM Organic Act itself established a system of devolution of powers to the ARMM. Nonetheless, whatever “exclusive powers” would be delegated to the new entity depend on what Congress would be willing to grant. Note the Decision Point’s express reservation of powers to the national

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government on matters concerning (a) Defense and external security, (b) Foreign policy, (c) Common market and global trade, (d) Coinage and monetary policy, (e) Citizenship and naturalization, and (f) Postal service. The ARMM Organic Act actually has a much more exhaustive enumeration of reserved powers to the national government. Decision Point No. 7. The Parties agree that wealth creation (or revenue generation and sourcing) is important. The Parties also acknowledge the power of the new political entity to create its own sources of revenue, subject to limitations as may be agreed upon by the parties, and to have a just share in the revenues generated through the exploration, development or utilization of natural resources. Revenuegeneration is also not a new concept, as Article X of the ARMM Organic Act already grants such power to the ARMM. In fact, the present setup is that a province or city’s total collections of national taxes are distributed 30% to the province or city,

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30% to the regional government, and 40% to the national government. Each province or city automatically retains its share then remits the 70% to the regional government, which, after deducting its share, remits the balance to the national government on a monthly basis. Whether the new entity would demand a larger piece of the pie remains to be seen in the course of the negotiations.

allows for ‘the special courts with personal, family, and property law jurisdiction consistent with the provisions of this Constitution and national laws.’” Plus, it “also goes to the core of the Islamic aspiration since Shari’ah is Islamic law, where there is, among others, no principle of inviolable separation of Church and State but, on the contrary, the integration of religion and politics.”

Decision Point No. 8. The Parties recognize the need to strengthen the Shari’ah courts and to expand their jurisdiction over cases. The new political entity shall also have competence over the Shari’ah justice system.

This decision point would certainly be contentious because of the contrast between the constitutional mandate of a secular government and the religious character of Islamic law. How a concession could be achieved would certainly be a challenge to the peace panels.

Although this is not a political issue, legal problems would most likely arise from this decision point. Judge Santos argues that expanding the jurisdiction of the Shari’ah courts “may entail a constitutional amendment since the 1987 Constitution, Art. X, Sec. 18 refers to ‘the basic structure of government for the region consisting of the executive department and legislative assembly’ and

Decision Point No. 9. The Parties agree to the creation of (third party) monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, which may utilize competencies already available in existing mechanisms, e.g. International Contact Group (ICG), International Monitoring Team (IMT), Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH).

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This is also already in effect as part of both parties’ desire to minimize clashes between the military and rebel forces. While there have been countless alleged violations of ceasefires over the years, Amina Rasul believes that the existing mechanisms have been relatively successful “as shown by its track record prior to the war over the MOAAD in 2008.” Decision Point No. 10. In addition to basic rights already enjoyed, the following rights of all citizens residing in the new political entity bind the legislature, executive and

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The 'new' Bangsamoro governance entity

judiciary as directly enforceable law and are guaranteed: a. Right to life and to inviolability of one’s person and dignity; b. Right to freedom of expression and of religion and beliefs; c. Right to privacy; d. Right to freedom of speech; e. Right to express political opinion and pursue democratically political aspirations; f. Right to seek constitutional change by peaceful and legitimate means; g. Right of women to meaningful political participation, and protection from all forms of violence; h. Right to freely choose one’s place of residence and the inviolability of the home; i. Right to equal opportunity and non-discrimination in social and economic activity and public service, regardless of class, creed, disability, gender or ethnicity; j. Right to establish cultural and religious associations; k. Right to freedom from religious, ethnic, and sectarian harassment; and, l. Right to redress of grievances and due process of law. These rights, already constitutionally recognized, were included in the decision

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points to highlight the demand of the Moros for equal treatment with non-Moros. Rasul found it interesting “that enjoyment by the Bangsamoro of human rights, already accorded to all citizens by Philippine law, had to be part of the 10 decision points.” The prospect for peace. This latest attempt by the government to woo the MILF into signing a peace deal is commendable. But the peace negotiators should keep in mind that more than just appeasing the dominant rebel group, they owe it to the Filipino people to ensure that every ethnic group in Mindanao enjoy the rights that they deserve under the protection of one government. A half-baked solution may just result in a peace deal with one group, only to find another splinter group breaking away because they did not agree with the deal their fellow rebels signed with the government. It may just be another MNLF-MILF breakaway scenario in the making. Whether these decision points provide the bases for settling the Moro rebellion will be determined only when a final peace pact based on its provisions is signed. We can only hope that this administration does not commit the same mistake its predecessor made three years ago with the junked MOA-AD — or any of the other mistakes in dealing with the Moro separatist movement over the past 40 years.

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NEWS ON THE NET Nation

DepEd to train science teachers on K to 12 program The Department of Education is set to train science high school teachers to increase their skills and proficiency in teaching Science, Mathematics and English in preparation for the K to12 program of the agency which will be implemented in June. Secretary Armin Luistro said that the training of science high school teachers is important in order to achieve the national goal to produce globally competitive and science and technology-oriented graduates. The K to 12 program of the Aquino administration was conceptualized to upgrade and provide better education to students enrolled in the public schools by adding two more years in high school and a universal kindergarten education. Luistro noted that the program includes skills development courses and special interest subjects that will help in the career direction of the student.

with the Panamanian government to prosecute Erick Sch'ck of the Panama Maritime Authority. The Senate committee on foreign relations is already investigating the alleged escape of Sch'ck upon invoking his diplomatic immunity. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations states that all nations from ancient times have recognized the status of diplomatic agents. It also provides under Article 31, number 1, "A diplomatic agent shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving State."

Corona to testify in his impeachment trial on May 22

DOJ, DFA urge Senate to review Vienna Convention on diplomatic immunity

Chief Justice Renato Corona will take the witness stand on Tuesday at the continuation of his impeachment trial on May 22, and will be the last witness to be presented by the defense. Trial has been temporarily postponed until then to give Corona and his lawyers enough time to study the voluminous documents, including those recently presented by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales. Presiding officer Juan Ponce Enrile has assured that Corona will be respected and given due courtesy as he testifies.

Department of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima asked the Senate to review the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Immunities following the failure of the Philippine government to prosecute a Panamanian diplomat accused of abusing a Filipina. De Lima added that the Department of Foreign Affairs is in close coordination

Earlier during the week, the Ombudsman testified and was qualified as a hostile witness by the defense after she revealed some alleged 82 dollar bank accounts purportedly belonging to the chief magistrate contained in an unsigned report that she claimed to have been sent by the Anti-Money Laundering Council. The defense

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was quick to deny the existence of these dollar accounts, and said that these were all fabricated. Also, private citizen Harvey Keh was presented by the defense as another hostile witness because of the complaint which he and former Representative Risa Baraquel recently lodged before the Office of the Ombudsman against the Chief Justice. Senatorjudges questioned Keh for his act of impropriety in allegedly trying to influence the impeachment court when he sent documents to the presiding officer.

Nuclear-powered ‘fastattack’ U.S. submarine docks in Subic Amid tensions between the Philippines and China over territorial disputes at the South China Sea, a U.S. nuclear-powered submarine arrived in the Philippines and docked at the Subic Bay in Zambales. The arrival of the USS North Carolina (SSN 777) is a regular port call and will only involve restocking of its provisions and rest and recreation for its crew members. The Department of National Defense said that the arrival of the U.S. submarine has nothing to do with the tension between the Philippines and China. However, militant groups condemned the docking of the U.S. submarine, saying that it is in violation of Philippine laws. It is provided in Article II, Section 8 of the Constitution that, "the Philippines, consistent with the national interest, adopts and pursues a policy of freedom from nuclear weapons in its territory."

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Dying for Work In Asia, over 1.1 million people die each year from work-related factors, which should be a cause for alarm By Victoria Fritz

IN

STRATEGY POINTS

May, tragedy struck in Butuan City,in Agusan del Norte, Mindanao, when at least 17 stay-in workers who were sleeping in an upper floor of a garments factory were killed in a fire. The fire and the resulting deaths engendered a customary round of reaction stories after the fact, if little outrage and anguish outside the general region.

According to the International Labor Organization, at least 1.1 million people in Asia die every year due to hazardous work conditions, but more specific numbers by country are hard to come by A possible reason for the dearth of specific information might be that many if not most workers in Asia are either undocumented in formal settings or totally undocumented in the informal sector

However, many other little known cases of occupational death and disease are happening all over Asia.

Guidelines have been put in place to improve working conditions and minimize injuries and mortality due to occupational hazards as drawn up at a regional and global level, but implementation is still weak

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As reported by The Guardian in April, Ramesh Makwani has silicosis, which is an incurable disease, and one that is often misdiagnosed as tuberculosis. It is contracted through the inhalation of fine dust, which settles in the lungs. Makwani developed silicosis by cutting and polishing gems, the main industry in his village in Gujarat, India. He says that once you are in that job, you are no longer able to marry, since “the girls know you will be dead in your 30s.�

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The Guardian report also discusses the cases of two apparent victims of cadmium poisoning in China. Meantime, in China, Wang Fung-ping from the south suffered kidney failure from cadmium poisoning. She worked in a factory making batteries. It took her seven years to get diagnosed – but her case is still not officially recognized as an occupational disease, barring treatment or compensation. The former supervisor of another battery factory, Xiao Hong, has now been diagnosed as suffering from excessive cadmium levels. After three years of working in the battery factory, he started to feel the effects: sore throat, nose infections, dizziness, and headaches. He worked there for a total of 15 years. He said nobody warned them of the risks. In 2008, the International Labor Organization estimated that in Asia, more than 1.1 million people die each year due to unhealthy working conditions. This comprised more than half of the estimated 2 million deaths per year globally. So it’s not disproportionate in relation to the global count, given that as of 2011, 60% of

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the world population lives in Asia, per the United Nations Population Fund’s “State of the World Population in 2011.” But it’s still a staggering number. According to the World Health Organization, occupational health deals with all aspects of health and safety in the workplace, focusing on the primary prevention of hazards. Risk factors can lead to cancers, accidents, musculoskeletal diseases, respiratory diseases, hearing loss, circulatory diseases, stress related disorders and communicable diseases, among others. The Asia Monitor Resource Center, a non–government organization based in Hongkong which focuses on labor concerns, released a report in April this year warning of an epidemic of worker deaths from unhealthy working conditions, as reported by CNN in late April. AMRC called the ILO figure conservative and based on mathematical projections from existing data in industrialized countries, as it criticized the lack of official records in developing Asian countries.

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36 Due to a lack of info, the AMRC resorted to developing reports from individual countries. Countries selected for this report are: Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand. The AMRC report collates its key findings in the Introduction section, as follows: 1. Underreporting and lack of data -- In all six countries chosen, there was a lack of clear and credible data. In the Philippines, data is gathered arbitrarily every four years. In India, there were discrepancies, and the figures reported were too low to reflect reality on the ground. China’s official figures were said to be just the tip of the iceberg. Data gathered in Cambodia were neither comprehensive nor reflective of the situation, with reporting mechanisms being relatively new. 2. Lack of coverage and implementation of the law -- Most laws do not cover all workers, since many of the workers are in the informal sector. Likewise, implementation is weak since there is an overlapping of roles while at the same time equipment, training and personnel are insufficient.

3. Underreporting of occupational diseases -- In both the case of occupational accidents and diseases, the figures are grossly underestimated. 4. Difficulty obtaining compensation -There is immense difficulty in getting just compensation. Some data and case studies from four of the countries in the report illustrate further the key findings. Cambodia: Women garment workers at risk In the Occupational Safety and Health Status Report from Cambodia, the paper noted that figures related to occupational health are reported on a limited level, coming only from companies that are registered with the National Social Security Fund. The table below shows a much higher number of occupational injuries among women workers in the various industries in Cambodia.

OCCUPATIONAL INJURIES BY INDUSTRY IN CAMBODIA, 2001-2005 Sectors Garments Brick Oher Manufacturing Construction Total

2001 Male Female 2 242 0 0 1 6 0 3

0 248

2002 Male Female 29 211 0 0 1 0 1 31

0 211

2003 Male Female 14 373 0 0 0 0 0 14

0 373

2004 Male Female 2 269 1 0 2 130 0 5

2005 Male Female 1 208 2 0 0 0

0 399

0 3

0 208

Source: OSH Status Report – Cambodia, Bronh Sopheana and Choeung Theany, Page 4

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FAINTING INCIDENTS IN GARMENT COMPANIES IN CAMBODIA, JANUARY - JUNE 2011 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Name of Factory M&V International Manufacturing Ltd. Huey Chuen (Cambodia) Corp., Ltd. King Hah Garment Eda Enterprise Co., Ltd. Zhen Thai Garment Pte, Ltd. Ghim Li (Cambodia) Pte, Ltd Hard Enterprise (Cambodia) Co., Ltd. King Fashion Garment Co., Ltd.

No. of Workers Fainting 163 236 286 36 309 139 64 288

Source: OSH Status Report – Cambodia, Bronh Sopheana and Choeung Theany, Page 5

In 2010, the number of occupational injuries jumped to 6,068, of which 5,878 involved women.

According to the status report, this data as revealed only after pressur e from many “concerned parties and insistence from workers, unions and also buyers” is applied (page 6). For other industries, data is not made public.

Garments manufacturing is one of the top industries in Cambodia, and many of the injuries To better occur there. illustrate the Most cases occupational involve health fainting due to situation in overwork and garments poor working factories,   A woman being helped out after fainting in a factory conditions, the report in Cambodia (photo from OSH Status Report – “with plenty discusses a Cambodia, Appendix I, page 16) of chemical specific case agents” that of fainting in have not been checked for safety (page 5). one such factory. On October 20, 2011, Due to the low wages, workers are forced 25-year-old Chan Tongheng fainted to work overtime. while working at Sangwoo Co., Ltd. Upon arriving in the workplace, she noticed The table above shows the number of the smell from the fabric, combined with workers fainting in select companies, stench from the toilet, in an altogether hot from a Ministry of Labour and Vocational and stuffy environment. Not feeling well, Training Report in June 2011. she then asked to take leave from work

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38 to rest. While she was walking back, she fainted and was brought to the hospital. Other workers also started fainting. In total, 33 workers fainted that day, out of a total of 1,000 workers. The factory is hot, with little ventilation, and the stench from the toilet plus the toxic fumes from the fabric combine to create very unhealthy conditions. China: Great difficulty getting compensation from work-related disease In China, the report written by Becky Fund and Francine Chan states that there is great difficulty in obtaining compensation from work related diseases. This can be seen in

the case of Mr. Ng (page 10), who worked in a leather factory in Dongguang. He suffers from leukemia due to benzene poisoning. In the hospital, he was diagnosed with acute leukemia and identified as a potential case of occupational disease. He approached his employer to demand compensation. But the employer refused. Mr. Ng had to overcome many difficulties to claim his rights. The employer did not provide necessary evidence on the use of toxic chemicals in the factory. In the end, the employer paid for the treatment, but not Mr. Ng’s salary and other expenses during treatment. Mr. Ng was even forced to sign an agreement with the employer to reduce the cost of living payments to be paid out. When they complained to government agencies,

PERCENTAGE OF WORK ACCIDENTS BY SECTOR IN INDONESIA, 2010

Forestry 3.8%

Others 20%

Mining 2.6% Transportation 9.3%

Construction 31.9%

Manufacturing Industry 31.6%

Source: “Murders that still take place at work,” Status of OSH in Indonesia 2011, Muchamad Darisman, page 3

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they were even discouraged to pursue their complaint.

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of work-accidents by sector, as reported by Jamostek.

Indonesia: Death rates high, underreported

Philippines: Figures gathered intermittently

In Indonesia, workplace death rates are high and underreported. The figures reported reflect only workplace accidents of employees who are members of the government social security agency, PT Jamsostek. Of nearly 100 million Indonesia workers, there are only nine million are members of Jamostek. The great majority are from the informal sector. Among workers in the formal sector, the following pie depicts the percentage

In the Status Report from the Philippines, “Responses to Challenges in Occupational Health and Safety in the Philippines”, written by Noel Colina of the Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development, the conclusion is the same there is dearth of information. Figures for the number of deaths due to occupational hazards is gathered intermittently, every few years or so. The paper cited the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) attached agency, Occupational

DEATHS IN THE PHILIPPINES DUE TO OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS, 1999-2008 Total Men and Women Total Mining and Quarrying Manufacturing

Electricity, Gas and Water Supply Construction Wholesale and Retail Trade; Repair of Motor Vehicles, Motorcycles and Personal and Household Goods Hotels and Restaurants Transport, Storage and Communications Financial Intermediation Real Estate, Renting and Business Activities Education Health and Social Work Other Community, Social and Personal Service Activities

1999 2000 178 0 21

2002 302 28 64

2003 170 5 24

40 29

13 84

4 48

0 1

5 16

1 37

10 36

0 17

1 44

0 46

2 14

1 14

0 1

3 2 3

2 0 0

0 1

22

2001

21

2004 2005

25

2006

2007 115 0 53

2008

26

Source: “Report on Invisible Victims of Development – Workers’ Health and Safety in Asia,” OSH Status Report – Philippines, page 2

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40 OCCUPATIONAL DISEASES BY INDUSTRY GROUP, 2003 AND Major Industry Group All Industries Mining and Quarrying Manufacturing Electricity, gas and Water Supply Construction Wholesale and Retail Trade; Repair of Motor Vehicles, Motorcycles and Personal and Household Goods Hotels and Restaurant Transport, Storage and Communications Financial Intermediation Real Estate, Renting and Business Activities Real Estate and Renting Business Activities Call Center Activities Private Education Services Health and Social Work except Public Medical, Dental and Other Health Activities

2003 55,413 1,350 35,956 1,112 149 5,241

2007 47,235 51 26,284 526 370 4,342

2,195 3,828 594 761 121 640 n/a 2,694 839

1,697 6,176 700 2,926 137 2,789 1,175 2,204 1,233

Source: “Report on Invisible Victims of Development – Workers’ Health and Safety in Asia,” OSH Status Report – Philippines, page 3

Safety and Health Center, as the source of the figures, though that table itself is not available online. Thailand: No clear policy to monitor enforcement of labor laws

Again, all these figures refer only to the formal sector, which is about one-third the size of the informal sector.

In the case of Thailand, there are 24-25 million workers in the informal sector, and only 8-10 million in the formal sector, out of a total population of 65 million. The status report limited itself only to workers in the formal sector. For the year 2009, the Office of Workmen’s Compensation Fund under the Ministry of Labor reported a total of 149,436 cases of occupational injury.

Certain factors prevent employees with work-related injuries from accessing the benefits assured by the Workmen’s Compensation Act, such as workers’ ignorance of the law, fear of confronting superiors and of being laid off, and telling the truth to doctors, and ignorance about available services, among other reasons. Employers also fail to inform the workers of their rights, and do not arrange annual physical exams. The government also has “no clear and serious

The three industries with the highest incidence were:

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policy to follow and monitor enforcement of the law.” The writers of the report, Voravidh Charoenloet and Somboon Srikomdokcare

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of the Council of Work and EnvironmentRelated Patient's Network of Thailand (WEPT), observed that “we are doubtful of the capability, readiness and adequacy of medical and healthcare personnel and

Leading causes of work-related death From a global perspective, the leading causes of work-related death were chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), followed by unintentional injuries and lung cancer. This is according to a paper by the Disease Control Priorities Project (DCP2), which is a joint effort by several agencies to assess disease control priorities and related endeavors to inform health policymaking in developing countries. It is a project of the World Bank in cooperation with the World Health Organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among other groups. According to DCP2, people in the developing world bear more than 80 percent of the global burden of occupational disease and injury. Some diseases, such as lead poisoning, no longer a cause for concern developed countries, remain a major problem in the rest of the world. In developing countries, workers are often exposed to known hazards, such as silica and asbestos. These hazards are no longer faced by workers in developed countries. Ironically, workers from developing countries still face them, despite the widespread knowledge about the risks and preventive measure. Important differences that exist between developing and developed country workforces: • About 70% of developing countries’ economically active population works in agriculture. • The informal workforce in developing countries (self-employed, household-based unpaid labor,

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and independent service workers, such as street vendors) may contribute up to 60% of the gross domestic product. The migrant workforce, estimated at 120 million and increasing worldwide, is often poorly protected from occupational hazards and at great risk of contracting silicosis, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS, which have been linked to workplace, housing, and economic factors. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that among the world’s 2.7 billion workers, at least 2 million deaths per year are attributable to occupational diseases and injuries. However, data for estimating nonfatal illness and injury are not available in most developing countries. According to the World Health Organization, the leading occupational causes of death were chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), followed by unintentional injuries and lung cancer. Although the WHO assessment only accounts for 40 percent (800,000) of the ILO-estimated 2 million deaths, findings showed that unintentional injuries caused 312,000 deaths globally per year for the world’s 2.7 billion workers, compared to 6,000 deaths per year for 150 million workers in the United States. Deaths are clustered primarily in the agricultural, construction, and mining sectors. Occupational injuries alone account for more than 10 million Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) lost,or healthy years of life lost whether to disability or premature death, and 8% of unintentional injuries worldwide.

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support systems in the clinics to provide proper diagnosis and treatment services for work-related cases.”

often associated with hazardous working conditions and involves such vulnerable groups as children, pregnant women, older persons and migrant workers.”

The World Health Organization has proposed broad guidelines to address this situation. In May Still only a 2007, it held the Sixtieth small minority World Health Assembly, and issued a document of the global outlining its “Workers’ workforce Health: Global Plan of has access to Action 2008-2017.”

The objectives for its Global Plan of Action on Workers’ Health 2008-2017 were set as follows: 1. Devise and implement policy instruments on workers’ health

occupational health services

It recognized, among other things, that “large gaps (still) exist between and within countries with regard to the health status of workers and their exposure to occupational risks,” and that “(S)till only a small minority of the global workforce has access to occupational health services.” It also recognized that “(I)ncreasing international movement of jobs, products, and technologies can help to spread innovative solutions for prevention of occupational hazards, but can also lead to a shift of that risk to less advantaged groups. The growing informal economy is

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National policy frameworks for workers’ health should be formulated, and objectives and actions for workers’ health should be integrated into national health strategies. National action plans on workers’ health should be developed and coordinated among relevant ministries and other major national stakeholders. As the WHO puts it: “Measures need to be taken to minimize the gaps between different groups of workers in terms of levels of risk and health status. Particular attention should be paid to high-risk sectors of economic activity, and to the underserved and vulnerable working populations, such as younger and older workers, persons

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with disabilities and migrant workers, taking account of gender aspects.” 2. Protect and promote health at the workplace “The assessment and management of health risks at the workplace should be improved by defining essential interventions for prevention and control of mechanical, physical, chemical, biological and psychosocial risks in the working environment,” the global plan of action recommends. “Protecting health at the workplace also requires enacting regulations and adopting a basic set of occupational health standards to make certain that all workplaces comply with minimum requirements for health and safety protection, ensuring an appropriate level of enforcement, strengthening workplace health inspection, and building up collaboration between the competent regulatory agencies according to specific national circumstances,” it continues by way of elaboration. 3. Improve the performance of and access to occupational health services Aside from resolving that “Basic occupational health services should

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be provided for all workers, including those in the informal economy, small enterprises, and agriculture,” the plan also calls for integrating the development of occupational health services into national health strategies, health-sector reform and plans for improving health-systems performance; setting targets for increasing the coverage of occupational health services for the working population, and; creating mechanisms for pooling resources and financing the delivery of occupational health services. 4. Provide and communicate evidence for action and practice The WHO global plan calls on governments to develop systems for surveillance of workers’ health with the objective of identifying and controlling occupational hazards. This includes establishing national information systems, developing capability to estimate occupational burden of diseases and injuries, creating registries of exposure to major risks and occupational accidents and diseases, and improving reporting and early detection of said accidents and diseases. “Research on workers’ health needs to be further strengthened by framing special research agendas, giving it priority in national research programs and

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Dying for work

grant schemes, and fostering practical and participatory research,” the plan advises.

in national plans and programmes for sustainable development.”

5. Incorporate workers’ health into other policies

In the mad scramble for jobs and economic development, we should be reminded that the goal of improving one’s quality of life is not the exclusive province of people with the capital to launch business ventures, but rather a common objective for all who work in them. The mad scramble for economic growth is claiming lives of victims who are quickly forgotten, if noticed at all, and governments need to mobilize to identify problem areas and industries.

The global plan of action states that: “Measures to protect workers’ health should be incorporated in economic development policies and poverty reduction strategies. The health sector should collaborate with the private sector in order to avoid international transfer of occupational risks and to protect health at the workplace. Similar measures should be incorporated

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NEWS ON THE NET World

Ratko Mladic's war crimes trial postponed over evidence The war crimes trial of Ratko Mladic – once dubbed as the "Butcher of Bosnia" and the "Beast of the Balkans" – has come to a halt due to the failure of the prosecutors to disclose 7,000 pages of evidence to the defense. Mladic's lawyers have asked for six months to process the lengthy material. In order to quickly establish a new starting date for the trial, presiding judge Alphons Orie said judges would have to first analyze the "scope and full impact" of the error. The postponement occurred on the second day of the trial, when prosecutors submitted evidence alleging that Mladic had orchestrated the 1995 massacre of over 7,000 Muslim men and boys at the town of Srebrenica in Bosnia. During the first day of the trial, Mladic appeared defiant and jaunty; applauding the judges and even giving them a thumbs-up. He also taunted a survivor of the Srebenica massacre by making a throat-slitting gesture in her direction, after which the presiding judge called a recess and ordered an end to "inappropriate interactions." Ex-Bosnian Serb commander Mladic is facing 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity connected to the 1992-

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1995 Bosnian conflict. He denies the charges.

3 boats held by North Korean gunmen, China says Last Thursday the Chinese state news media reported that North Korean gunmen had seized three Chinese fishing boats on the Yellow Sea. The mariners are said to be demanding a ransom for the release of the 29 Chinese sailors aboard the boats. Murky details and conflicting accounts have left the Chinese people seeking details about the kidnapping. The Beijing News stated that the boats were intercepted on May 8, and quoted one of the ships’ owners, Zhang Dechang, as confirming that he had spoken over the phone to a kidnapped sailor and that the North Korean captors were demanding around $189,000 – an amount that was reduced to $142,000 in later reports. The origin of the three Chinese fishing boats is also been unclear, as was the level of involvement of the North Korean government with the abduction. The situation threatens to aggravate relations between North Korea and China, one of the North's few remaining allies, and an important source of aid for the impoverished land. Sources say that China had earlier this week been pressuring North Korea to scrap plans for a third nuclear test.

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The news came after China, Japan and South Korea announced a strengthening of ties as a reaction to North Korea's refusal to stop its plans for nuclear testing, in addition to working towards a Free Trade Agreement.

Francois Hollande takes oath as France's president Last Tuesday, Francois Hollande became the President of France following a ceremony at the Elysee Palace in central Paris. He is the European country's first Socialist leader in more than 15 years, ever since Francois Mitterrand left office in 1995. Ousting incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, Hollande was elected earlier this month. Disappointed French citizens did not appreciate Sarkozy's handling of France's economy – which, under his watch, has suffered from high unemployment and low growth. President Holland has promised to fight financial speculation and "open a new path" in Europe; while at the same time acknowledging that he has inherited huge government debt. As part of President Hollande's fulfillment of his campaign promises, the French government announced a hefty 30% pay cut for him and his cabinet last Thursday. He has also pledged to withdraw all French combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012.

• May 21-27, 2012

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Technology Brings the Cutting Edge to Cutting Tools

A review of the latest innovations in surgical instruments By Tanya L. Mariano

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STRATEGY POINT Today’s surgical tools are becoming smaller, smarter, and less invasive, effectively shortening procedures and recovery times and improving overall patient outcomes

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id you know that Neolithic man (around 7000 BC) used to cut circular holes on the skulls of living people using flint scrapers? No doubt a very bloody, very unpleasant experience for the patient, whose chances of survival were slim. Today, brain surgery can be performed without having to crack open the skull, video cameras as tiny as a grain of sand can be inserted into the body to peer inside in lieu of cutting patients open, and sophisticated robots enable surgeons to

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make very precise movements. And just as important, if not more: the procedures are shorter, along with the recovery times, less pain is inflicted, and survival rates are higher. From the crude apparatuses of old, surgical instruments have evolved into sophisticated and increasingly accurate equipment. For instance, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin have developed an endoscopic device fitted with a femtosecond laser “scalpel” that is so accurate it can remove damaged or diseased tissue without affecting healthy cells, the usual victims of collateral damage in most medical operations, whether done by scalpel or laser, as reported by a press release from The Optical Society, a U.S.-based scientific organization dedicated to advancing the study of light. The entire probe package is thinner than a pencil at 9.6 millimeters in circumference and 23 millimeters in length, and can be attached to large endoscopes. The laser emits pulses of light 200 quadrillionth of a second (a femtosecond) in duration, powerful yet short enough to “spare surrounding tissue.” Says principal investigator Adela BenYakar, “the system is ready to move into commercialization,” but will need at least five years of clinical testing before a viable device gets FDA approval for use on humans. The prototype has been tested only on pigs. The project was presented at the recently concluded Conference on Lasers and Electro Optics (CLEO 2012) organized by The Optical Society and held in San Jose, California from May 6-11.

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An endoscopic device fitted with a femtosecond laser that is so accurate, it does not damage healthy cells. Developed by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin Source: “Medical ‘Lightsabers’: Laser Scalpels Get Ultrafast, Ultra-Accurate, and Ultra-Compact Makeover,” April 23, 2012, The Optical Society

Other recent technological innovations in the field of surgery include: DistalMotion: the mechanical surgical robot. While endoscopic and robotic surgeries bring many benefits, there are still some drawbacks, reports Medgadget, an independent medical technology journal. Endoscopic surgery, which involves inserting a small camera, called the endoscope, and long surgical tools into the body through small incisions or natural bodily orifices, “lacks fine precision due to the rigid nature of the tools. Moreover, because the surgeon is basically operating a lever (the beam being the surgical instrument and the

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48 trocar being the fulcrum), the surgeon’s movements are actually operating in opposite direction.” Because of this, extensive training in the use of such equipment is required. Robotic surgery, on the other hand, while addressing the precision limitation of endoscopy, does not provide tactile feedback when coming into contact with tissue, and can be very big and very expensive. The da Vinci robot, one of the most widely used, costs $1.8 million and weighs over half a ton, according to The Economist (the article also mentions another robotic surgery device called the Raven, which runs on open software, and is lighter and cheaper at $250,000). Ricardo Beira, a student at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, hopes to bring the best of robotic and endoscopic surgeries together by creating a completely mechanical system.

According to a news report on the university’s website, Beira first articulated the idea in his thesis, and eventually founded tech startup DistalMotion to develop the device, which consists of small joysticks that control the operation of surgical tools attached to the end of a metal arm. It allows for seven degrees of freedom in the replication of the surgeon’s hand movements, provides force feedback to the surgeon because of its mechanical nature, and is approximately one-tenth the cost of other surgical robots because it omits the sophisticated electronic components usually present in other robotic systems. A video camera as small as a grain of salt. Endoscopes themselves are getting cheaper and tinier: as small as a grain of salt, and cheap enough to manufacture that they can be disposed of after one use, lowering the risk of infection due to poorly sanitized reusable instruments.

Ricardo Beira, founder of DistalMotion, has created a mechanical system that combines the best of robotic surgery and endoscopy Source: “DistalMotion’s Surgical Tool Combines the Best of Robotic and Endoscopic Surgery,” Scott Jung, April 6, 2012, as published in Medgadget

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A brief history of surgery

Surgery has come a long way from the days when procedures were more likely to hurt than help you, and surgeons seemed more like butchers than highly skilled medical professionals. The earliest form of surgery is said to be trephination, a Neolithic practice of cutting circular holes in the skull by means of flint tools, according to a slideshow presentation by British public service broadcaster Channel 4. The ancient Greeks and Romans were also expert doctors and surgeons, with the Greeks said to be able to mend broken bones without causing deformity, and the Romans removing polyps from the nose and goiters from the neck. Galen was the most famous surgeon during Roman times, and his influence carried over into the next millennia. Indiana University provides a photo collection, taken from John Stewart Milne’s “Surgical Instruments in Greek and Roman Times,” of surgical instruments believed to have been available to Hippocrates, considered the “father of medicine,” and still used until the late Roman Empire. In England, from the mid-1500s to the mid-1700s, barber-surgeons were the primary practitioners of surgeries. While physicians treated patients with drugs, barber-surgeons amputated limbs, extracted teeth, and performed bloodletting. The United Company of Barber-Surgeons was dissolved in 1745.

Bone drills used by ancient Greek and Roman surgeons Source: Indiana University

Anesthetics to numb the pain were first used in the 1840s, and by the 1890s, surgeon Joseph Lister’s methods of sanitation and disinfection (he would spray carbolic acid, also known as “phenol,” to disinfect the operating theater and doused wound dressings with it) became widely adopted. And while Scottish bacteriologist and later Nobel Prize winner Sir Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928, it wasn’t until the 1940s that antibiotics were effectively applied in the field of medicine to prevent post-operative infections.

From the Neolithic practice of cutting holes into a living person’s head, the era of the barber-surgeons in England in the 1500s, to the dawn of modern medicine, this slideshow by U.K.’s Channel 4 tracks the milestones in surgery

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The 1980s saw the mainstreaming of heart transplant surgery and the advent of minimally invasive surgery, a technique that involves making smaller than usual incisions in the body, which, combined with the use of very small video cameras that could be inserted into the body, has revolutionized the way surgeries are performed.

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50 Created by the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration in Germany, in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering and Awaiba GmbH, the new camera has a resolution of 62,500 pixels and measures just one cubic millimeter, making it possibly the smallest complete video camera in the world. Instead of the usual fiber-optic cable, the new endoscope transmits images via an electrical cable.

that many surgical tools have changed little is Charles Pell, co-founder of Physcient, a startup that develops smarter surgical equipment that prevent tissue trauma. Pell observes that many tools found in the modern surgical tray still resemble those in use even during the Egyptian times. Even in today’s surgeries, ribs are still cracked open using a conventional steel tool, 75-year-old design that causes significant tissue damage, which then leads to a longer and more painful recovery.

Reports gizmag, “Its creators believe it could be used not only in medicine, but also in fields such as automotive design, where it could act as an aerodynamic replacement for side mirrors, or be used to monitor drivers for signs of fatigue.” It is expected to be on the market by 2013.

In this video from TEDMED 2011, Pell presents a new handheld robotic tool that will gently pry open a patient’s ribs and will not tear at the tissues that are in the way.

A rib opener that prevents tissue trauma. One person who is convinced

Stretchable electronic sensors for the heart. There is a new tool in development that could cut, from over an hour to just a few minutes, the time it takes to map electrical trouble spots in the hearts of

German engineers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration have created a disposable endoscopic camera measuring one cubic millimeter, roughly the size of a grain of salt Source: “Disposable endoscopic camera is the size of a grain of salt,” Ben Coxworth, March 10, 2011, gizmag

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Speaking at TEDMED 2 new surgical tools that

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people who suffer from atrial fibrillation, reports Technology Review. John Rogers of the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampagne created the stretchable silicon electronics that made it possible to create a device fitted with hundreds of thousands of sensors that can make many electrical readings at once, instead of just one at a time like traditional balloon catheters do.

probes and then ablating, which means heating and damaging, the tissues causing the problem. Makers of the device are conducting animal tests for more complicated arrhythmias in the heart ventricles. However, it could take a few years before it becomes available on the market if the FDA requires clinical trials.

The device, it’s been reported, has performed well in animal tests that mimic the disorder, which affects over two million people in the U.S. and is found in 15% of stroke victims. The condition, which is caused by electrical problems in the heart tissue surrounding the pulmonary vein, triggers the upper chambers of the heart to quiver rather than beat. The drugs used to treat it have serious side effects, so an appealing alternative is correction via surgery, which entails mapping the source of the electrical problem with the use of

Non-invasive neurosurgery using sound waves. Researchers in Switzerland reported in 2009 the successful treatment of 10 patients using an image-guided, completely non-invasive procedure that involves high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), a world first. According to a June 22, 2009 news release from the University of Zurich, the clinical study conducted by the team from the Magnetic Resonance Center of

011, Charles Pell, founder of Physcient, discusses creating prevent tissue trauma Source: video uploaded to YouTube by tedmed, November 30, 2011

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A new kind of catheter fitted with hundreds of thousands of sensors could cut down the mapping time of electrical trouble spots in atrial fibrillation sufferers from over an hour to just a few minutes, effectively improving patient outcomes Source: “A Stretchy Sensing Tool for Surgery,” Katherine Bourzac, Technology Review, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, March 7, 2011

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52 the University Children’s Hospital Zurich “succeeded in proving the safety and efficacy of this revolutionary surgical method which permits fully non-invasive brain interventions even on an outpatient basis.” HIFU is already used to treat uterine fibroids and prostate gland tumors, but technical difficulties made it previously impossible to use it on an intact skull. The new system combines the HIFU system called ExAblate 4000, developed by InSightec, and a 3 Tesla high field GE Magnetic Resonance Scanner. Magnetic resonance imaging is used throughout the procedure for real-time

planning and monitoring. The ultrasound beams are then aimed at and applied to a three- or four-millimeter target inside a patient’s brain. The entire procedure lasts a few hours, is performed without anesthesia, and patients are awake and conscious throughout the operation. With surgical tools becoming smaller, smarter, and less invasive, patient outcomes are significantly improving. These innovations have not made it to the mainstream yet, but already, they hold out plenty of promise for the hope that “going under the knife” will no longer be as scary as it sounds.

A patient prepped to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging-guided, non-invasive brain surgery using high-intensity focused ultrasound. Source: “Successful neurosurgery with transcranial MR-guided High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound,” University of Zurich news release, June 22, 2009.

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The open operating room: Social media demystifies surgeries On May 9, 2012, at the Memorial Hermann Northwest Hospital in Houston, TX, neurosurgeon Dr. Dong Kim performed the first brain surgery broadcast live over social media site Twitter, as reported on online storytelling platform Storify. The patient was a 21-year-old female with an angioma in her right temporal lobe. The hospital posted photos and videos throughout the procedure, such as this one of the patient’s MRI scan.

MRI scan of the patient in the first live-tweeted brain surgery at Memorial Hermann Northwest Hospital in Houston, TX. Source: Memorial Hermann Northwest Hospital

Previously, the hospital made history on February 21, 2012, when cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon Dr. Michael P. Macris performed the first live-tweeted open heart surgery. Apart from social media websites, live streaming videos of surgeries are also helping dispel the air of mystery surrounding surgical procedures and increasing public awareness of diseases. For instance, in March 2011, orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Crutcher moderated a webcast of a kneereplacement procedure performed by fellow orthopedic surgeon Dr. Sean Toomey at the Swedish Orthopedic Institute.

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Cutting edge tools: A review of the latest innovations in surgical instruments

One of the many photos of the open-heart operation uploaded to Twitter. Source: Memorial Hermann Northwest Hospital

Websites like ORLive are also a gold mine of information for both professionals and patients. The surgical broadcast company hosts live and on-demand videos of surgical procedures and product innovations. Visit their YouTube channel for direct access to available videos.

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NEWS ON THE NET Facebook IPO a jackpot for backers and insiders With a $38 IPO price and a total valuation soaring past $100 billion, social networking giant Facebook's IPO is set to raise around $16 billion; and well is on its way to being the largest ever in the technology industry's history. It is the third largest ever in terms of U.S. IPOs, behind the $19.7 billion raised by Visa in 2008 and the $18.1 billion raised by automotive company GM. Though the IPO was said to have fallen short of the hype surrounding it during its first day of trade last Friday, the modest outcome still generated billions of dollars for Facebook. Facebook backers and insiders, some of whom are now billions richer, include PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, Russian tycoon Yuri Milner; and Facebook cofounders Eduardo Saverin, Chris Hughes, and Dustin Moskovitz. U2 singer Bono – whose 1.5 percent stake in the social network had analysts speculating that he could soon be the world's wealthiest musician – gained as well, though not as much as reports had predicted. Microsoft is also cashing in on a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook that it had snapped up five years ago for what was then an exorbitant $240 million. The small

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stake is now worth about $1.25 billion; Microsoft plans to recoup its initial investment in Facebook through the sale of $249 million worth of company stock, though it will hold on to 26.2 million shares.

In the same vein, this week two quadriplegic women fitted with the Braingate2 Neural Interface System – a small electronic implant placed on the surface of the brain – were reported to be able to control body movement using just their thoughts.

Light-powered bionic eye invented Twitter joins 'Do Not to help restore sight Track,' gives users privacy option A revolutionary new retinal implant powered by light has been invented by scientists at the Stanford University in California. Currently, similar implants need to be powered by a battery.

In fact, a clinical trial being carried out at the Oxford Eye Hospital and King's College in London is testing the viability of one such device – a wafer-thin chip surgically implanted behind the retina with a fine cable running behind the ear to a special control unit. However, this new device uses a special pair of goggles to beam near infrared light straight into the eye. Stanford researchers have also said that their study could be a step forward in "eliminating the need for complex electronics and wiring." Though the lightpowered bionic eye has yet to be tested on humans, the potential is astounding. A fully integrated implant such as this promises "the restoration of useful vision" through taking advantage of "natural eye movements that play a crucial role in visual processing."

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It's official. According to U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chief Technology Officer Ed Felten, the micro-blogging service is participating in “Do Not Track,” a Mozilla Internet privacy feature launched last year for Firefox webs browser users. Through "Do Not Track," users can block third-party cookies, which may be used to conjecture Internet users' personal information and online activity. In a blog post, Mozilla Public Policy Chief Alex Fowler said that the company is "excited that Twitter now supports “Do Not Track” and global user adoption rates continue to increase, which signifies a big step forward." The move further cements the widening differences between privacy advocates such as Twitter and Mozilla, and the likes of Facebook and Google – both huge companies with business models built on targeted advertising through the collection and analysis of user information.

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TCR Volume 2 Issue No 20