Monday, November 23, 2015

November 8-14, 2015

Quotation of the Week

“Power intoxicate men. When a man is intoxicated by alcohol, he can recover, but when intoxicated by power, he seldom recovers.
  -James F. Byrnes


 The Weekly Kapihan on November 14, 2015 at NVC Carmen Hotel had guests from Philippine Insurance Corporation (PCIC) and Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA). From PCIC are Charlito Brillieta, Reg’1. Director, Region 6, Ronilo Calar, Prov’1 Coordinator, PCIC, and Ms. Salome David, Asst. Prov’1 Agriculturist.
Dir. Brillieta in a power point presentation discussed the mandate of PCIC to support the government food production program by providing crops insurance coverage against force majeure events such as typhoons, floods and pest/diseases outbreak.  The legal basis is PD 467 and RA 8175 approved on December 29, 1995.
PCIC has a comprehensive insurance coverage of crops (rice, corn, high value crops like abaca, mango), poultry, large cattle, goats, swine, fisheries and other aquaculture projects. An important feature is extending coverage to composite buildings, farm machineries and equipment and pump boats. The PCIC caters to small farmers cultivating less than 7 hectars  who may either be beneficiaries of Sikat Saka under Land Bank of the Philippines, ARB-DAR or self-financed. Standard premium payment for self enhanced rice farmers is 5.94 percent of total production cost.
Fortunately, insurance premium payment for farmers in Aklan this year under the Registry for Basic System in Agriculture (RBSA) in the amount of 16 million pesos has been approved thereby benefitting 3,947 farmers said Dir. Brillieta.
“Recently, we paid 1.7 million pesos for 420.0 ha. rice farms damaged by drought in Balete. Abaca farmers in Libacao who suffered from Typhoon Yolanda were given 3.0 million pesos for crop damages,” Brillieta reported
Mr. Calar said that prospective farmer applicants must contact their Municipal Agricultural Officers (MAO’s) for assistance. Necessarily they must be members of Irrigators’ Association and applying package of technology (POT) recommended by DA. We have increased our Staff to four considering the need to promote the best interest of farmers and fisher folks.
Our Production Technologists (PT’s) and Farm Technicians (FT’s) are deputized as Insurance Underwriters. PCIC has given 3 million pesos facility to Office of Provincial Agriculturist for crop insurance, said Ms. David.
The rationale behind the creation of PCIC is very laudable considering the frequent disasters associated with climate change. An average of 22 typhoons visit the Philippines each year.  Not to be taken lightly are the El Nino and La Nina phenomenons. Dir. Brillieta averred that the budget for Western Visayas under RBSA is 139 million pesos as subsidy to farmers until 2016. Yet only a small fraction is actually utilized due to moderate El Nino that hit the first half of this year. For instance Aklan rice hybrid target of 1,602 has. resulted to only 300 has. planted.
Dr. Allen S. Quimpo, Director Institute of Public Policy Studies, NVC expressed regret over the governments’ dole out mentality. He believes that whether big or small, farmers must be responsible and accountable to pay whatever expenses incurred in the pursuit of his business.
Asst. Prov’1 Agriculturist David mentioned that the current tourism infra development (KIA runway expansion and Kalibo Circumferential Road) has largely reduced the irrigated rice area by 1,000 has. It should be recalled that Aklan has a total irrigated area of 6, 712 has. out of a total 17,120 has. devoted  for  agriculture. Aggravating this condition is unbridled land conversion from agricultural to residential, commer 
cial and industrial uses. 
Presently, Sikat Saka program extends production loan to rice farmers at maximum of 42,000 pesos/ha. for hybrid and 37,000 pesos for inbred. Even if insurance cover is free, the actual amount to be indemnified by PCIC depends on whether the calamity occurred during vegetative stage (where the crop could somehow recover), reproductive and ripening see page 3 
(where damage could be 50-100 percent). The post production losses such as seed germination and discoloration which vary from 9-26 percent is not included. The loan is secured by collateral and could be foreclosed in case of default. Altogether this calculated risk is not for small farmers. Here a single misstep can cause hunger and poverty not only to the farmer himself but his entire family. Indeed this is a dilemma faced by many farmers. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data show that two- thirds of the farmers and fisher folks are living below the poverty threshold./MP   

Entrepreneurial Farmer
by Ambrosio R. Villorente

2 years after yolanda

    After Two (2) years on the ground, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Aklan Chapter has done so much and its works still continues.
PRC Aklan provided food items to 14,750 families while 19,217 families received non-food items like plastic mats, blankets, mosquito nets, jerry cans, tarpaulins, tents, kitchen sets, hygiene kits and shelter repair kits.
   PRC Aklan constructed core shelters in Balete - 2,331; Banga - 1,345; Lezo - 150; Libacao - 1,234; Madalag  - 1,535; and New Washington - 2,290. Moreover, it constructed six (6) health facilities: four (4) in Balete, and Two (2) in Madalag. In education, PRC Aklan put up three (3) classrooms in Balete; eight (8) in Libacao, and seven (7) in Madalag. 
    Furthermore, PRC  Aklan, to start a livelihood project, provided cash of 20,000 pesos per family in Altavas - 1,066; Balete - 1, 674; Banga - 1,634; Libacao - 669; Madalag -  1, 240; and New Washington - 449. PRC also provided skills trainings to 86 individuals, six (6) of whom are already gainfully employed. Some 4,138 individuals were trained in Disaster Risk Reduction 
All these completed projects were turned over to the recipients in a Turn Over Ceremonies held in Dumaguit, New Washington, Aklan on Thursday morning, November 12. The ceremony was presided by Hon. Richard J. Gordon, PRC Chairman and Chief Executive Officer with New Washington Mayor Edgar Peralta.
    In the afternoon of the same day, a simple program was held in ABL Sports Complex, Capitol Site, Kalibo, Aklan. The program was attended by representatives from Aklan, Antique, and
   During the program, the Livelihood Recovery Program, Skills Training and Enterprise Development, Graduation and Community Managed Livelihood Project were discussed, and the MOA Signing was held.   
     Atty. Ronquillo C. Tolentino, PRC Aklan chapter chairman, BOD welcomed the guests, visitors and participants. Mr. Dennis Saneo discussed the Livelihood Recovery Program.
Vice Gov. Billie V. Colizo-Quimpo delivered a message in behalf of Gov. Miraflores who was not able to attend the affair.  Mr. Karl  Isomaa, head of Philippine Delegation, International Federation of Red Cross also gave a message. Skills Training Beneficiaries from Aklan – Simon Sisno and Ma. Elie Abegale Cortes;  Cyferian B. Elenon – Anteque; and Capiz - Gladys B. Dichoa  gave their respective messages.
    Hon. Plaridel M. Morania introduced the guest speaker, PRC Chairman and CEO, Hon. Richard J. Gordon.
    The beneficiaries of the CMLP also gave their respective messages before the program ended who are from Brgy. Magubilan, Panay, Capiz; Brgy. Lumaynay, Altavas, Aklan; Brgy. Maria, Lauaan,  Antique; and Brgy. Idio, Sebaste, Antique.  
The program ended with the Memorandum of Agreement signing between the PRC and the Community Managed Livelihood Program. Photo session followed Ms. Jasmine Gallaza acted as Master of Ceremony. 
    Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., through Senate Resolution No. 1623, called for a Senate inquiry to clarify the ambiguity of foreign corporations owning and operating businesses that pertain to construction in the Philippines.
 Should the inquiry result in amendments to the existing law, Republic Act (RA) No. 4566 or the Contractor’s License Law, this will most likely result to an increase in job generation and foreign direct investments, a policy that ultimately benefits Filipinos.
  Under Republic Act No. 4566, the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board (as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1746) or the PCAB is authorized to “adopt reasonable necessary rules and regulations to effect the classification of contractors in a manner consistent with established usage and procedure as found in the construction business, and may limit the field and scope of the operations of a licensed contractor to those in which he is classified to engage.”
   Marcos said that the PCAB itself has proposed amendments to the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the said law to address the apparent ambiguity.
 Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued a legal opinion in 2009 that a 100 percent foreign-owned construction firm, without being the project proponent, can undertake the “construction stage” of an infrastructure project, subject to certain minimum paid-up capital requirements.
   “The establishment of foreign equity restrictions in certain fields of economic activity is an important question of national policy which needs to be thoroughly and extensively discussed and studied by Congress, in consultation with appropriate government agencies and key stakeholders in the Philippine construction industry and other relevant private sector groups,” Marcos concluded/MP


     Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero condemned the manhandling by police of a radio reporter who, according to the senator, was merely doing his job as a member of the media. 
 “We respect the ongoing investigation, but right now, what is clear is that the way the policeman dealt with the reporter was overkill. It did not have to come to that,” he said. 
 The senator said dzRH reporter Edmar Estabillo had the right to access information on the police blotter, which is a public document.
   “There was no question on Mr. Estabillo’s legal personality as a member of a legitimate media entity. If the issue was the need to verify his identity, seeking a simple ID would have sufficed. There are more civilized ways to do that than wrestling down a man,” said Escudero.
    Cameras at the Marikina police station caught Estabillo arriving at the station, talking to SPO2 Manuel Layson, the desk officer on duty at that time. Then the two disappeared into the office. Moments later, the video showed Layson’s arm around the neck of Estabillo, who was struggling in vain to get out of Layson’s hold. Estabillo was pinned to the ground and handcuffed, in clear view of two other members of the Marikina police.
    Police accused the reporter of being arrogant and refusing to present his ID. Layson alleged that it was Estabillo who first laid a hand on him and took his badge. 
“Arrogance, on either side, will get us nowhere, but as a man in uniform, SPO2 Layson should have exercised maximum tolerance,” Escudero said. “I had higher expectations of authorities.”
   Freedom of Information (FOI) plays a vital role in the government’s drive to eliminate corruption, Escudero believes. If FOI is combined with an iron-fist campaign, it will make a strong foundation to fight corruption. 
    “For a long-time now, we have been hoping for the enactment of the Freedom of Information bill for greater transparency in governance.  
    The FOI mandates that information must be published online and pub 
lished in such a way that it is easily understandable to the average citizen. With the FOI, graft and corruption would be prevented and also promote better public participation in public affairs. 
    Escudero also sees the lifting of the Bank Secrecy Law for government officials and employees. The veteran lawmaker has filed a bill as early as 2007 that will enable the government to audit the finances of all civil servants, including the President.
    Senate Bill No. 16, which he again filed in 2010 and 2013, seeks to compel government officials and employees, except those who serve in an honorary capacity, to submit a written permission or waiver in favor of the Ombudsman to look into all deposits of whatever nature with banks within and outside the country, including investments in government bonds.     “I’ve always said that public office is a public trust. And government officials and employees should always be open to the scrutiny of the public,” Escudero said/MP.


Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero suggests the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to step into the probe on the alleged “tanim-bala (bullet-planting)” scam at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Escudero said this is to avoid doubts on the result of the investigation being done by the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) amid public outrage on the racket of planting a live bullet in the luggage of passengers, mostly OFWs and foreign nationals, so unscrupulous airport personnel can attempt to extort money from them.
“It is not only the integrity of the MIAA that is at stake, but the government as a whole. By having the NBI as a third party investigator, we can show the public that the government is serious in getting rid of dishonorable airport officials and personnel,” Escudero said.
According to him, he has filed Senate Resolution No. 1641 to inquire into the alleged extortion scheme using the “tanim-bala” modus to put a stop to the scam that is hurting the Philippine economy.
“Airports are doors to business activities and further development. If fear is what our airports open to travellers, we are assured of great economic sufferings. Who will come here to conduct business when the moment they step in, threats of abuse or arbitrariness surround them?” Escudero asked. 
Tourism contributed P983 billion to the economy in 2014, based on the share of tourism direct gross value added. Remittances from OFWs reached P382 billion in the first four months of 2015.
“We expect a deluge of balikbayans soon. Are we going to put all of them through this Russian roulette of ‘laglag-bala’ in NAIA?” Escudero asked.    
 The MIAA leadership earlier said that some 40 personnel from the Office for Transportation Security (OTS), who are manning the X-ray scanning machines at the country’s premier airport, were under investigation. 
Escudero, however, pointed out that suspicions of possible whitewash may arise since MIAA and OTS are both under the Department of Transportation and Communications.
“We need tangible and effective measures in place. Not only do we have to abate such modus operandi but we also need to institutionalize a comprehensive and accountable security policy in all airports,” said Escudero.
 “Part of a comprehensive security policy is to engage permanent staff dedicated to handling security policies and procedures to ensure that state and travelers’ rights and prerogatives are well protected,” added Escudero
 “Most, if not all of OTS personel, are contractual but they play an important function in transportation security. They must be permanent in their duties to ensure quality and consistency of engagement in the performance of their duties. Otherwise, we will keep on losing and training people anew,” Escudero pointed out.
On the other hand, Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo this week expressed concern that the “tanim bala” cases at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport will be swept and buried under the APEC Summit rug.
“While we know that government’s and media’s attention are now focused on keeping the APEC Leaders and delegates safe and comfortable, we hope the probe ordered by the President is done and the culprits, if any, held accountable,” he said.
 Romulo  pointed out that those who may have been wrongfully accused should be immediately cleared, citing the admission of DOTC Secretary Joseph Abaya that there were “certain lapses” in the filing of the cases against “tanim bala” suspects.
Romulo cited the case Gloria Ortinez, an OFW who lost her job last Oct. 30 but regained it after an emotional meeting with her employer in Hongkong. Abaya said he believed Ortinez was innocent and apologized to her during a Senate hearing last week. Charges against her were dismissed for lack of probable
cause after airport police presented to the fiscal a different bullet found allegedly in her bag.
 At the same time, Romulo lauded the deployment of prosecutors by the Department of Justice at the airports, saying that this would ensure immediate action and assure protection of travelers and security people in “tanim bala” incidents.
 The NBI task force TaLaBa (Tanim/Laglag Bala) was expected to submit its report to the DOJ on Monday instead of the original deadline of Nov. 18.
 The DOTC, tasked by President Aquino to conduct a probe, has yet to submit its findings.
 “There has to be closure soon. We don’t want the anxiety and uncertainty on the part of our travelers to continue after the APEC Summit ends,” Romulo said. “We expect a deluge when the Leaders leave on Friday.”/MP


Despite its tight schedule, the Congress will prioritize the approval of the proposed Salary Standardization Law 2015, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon assured. He and Senate Finance Committee Chair Loren Legarda have agreed to co-author the proposed measure in the Senate.
“There is really a need to pursue the new version of the Salary Standardization Law to increase the purchasing power of millions of our state workers, who could not cope with the inflation,” said Drilon.
“The new compensation package being sought will fix the glaring discrepancies in the pay schemes between the public and private sectors,” Drilon added.
He will author the proposed measure in the Senate along with Senator Legarda. As early as last year, Drilon called on the Department of Budget and Management to review the government pay scale.
“Even if the Senate is busy working on the 2016 National Budget and the Bangsamoro Basic Law, we will make time for the swift passage of this measure to implement the raise in the salary scheme in government,” Drilon said.
 “We will immediately file the draft law. I will immediately talk to my colleagues to give it special attention. We will calendar it for committee hearing and plenary deliberation at the soonest time possible, so we can guarantee its passage by the end of the year,” Drilon said.
According to Drilon, the low pay rates in government sector discourage competitive and highly-skilled employees, even fresh graduates, from working and staying in government.
The primary reason why agencies experience difficulties in filling up vacancies in their offices per Department of Budget and Management record, resulted in 191,988 unfilled positions in 2015.
The proposed SSL 2015 will also solve the exodus of government workers, who leave their posts to seek greener pastures in the private sector and abroad. “An improved salary scheme will be the biggest morale booster for all public workers to excel in their work. It is important for the government to retain its employees and recruit more competent and driven professionals, especially the youth, into its ranks. There are enough provisions in the General Appropriations Bill to fund the implementation of the first tranche of the salary increase,” He pointed out .
Under the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefit Fund, according to Drilon, P50.7 billion has been allotted for the salary increase.
The approval of the Salary Standardization Law 2015 before the year is over, assures all public employees to enjoy higher wages starting next year,” Drilon said.  
The proposed pay hike is “much-awaited and long overdue development” for the millions of government workers, who are paid much less compared to their counterparts in the private sector. The SSL 2015 would be a great Christmas gift for the thousands of public employees around the country.” There is really a need to pursue the new version of the Salary Standardization Law for the sake of our teachers, health workers, policemen and other government employees who receive wages that don’t fairly compensate the hard work they put in serving the people,” Drilon said. /MP


       The Liberal Party (LP) and its vice presidential candidate, Rep. Leni Robredo find themselves singing different tunes, this time on how they weigh in on issues confronting presidential frontrunner Sen. Grace Poe.
Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo raised this point in the light of the statements issued by Robredo, raising doubts on Poe’s patriotism, despite the passionate courting done by the LP to convince the popular senator to be the vice-presidential candidate of Mar Roxas, who has trailed Poe in surveys.
     No less than President Benigno Aquino III had tried but failed to get Poe’s approval to join the LP slate after several rounds of meetings. It was the same for Roxas, who settled for Robredo after his repeated attempts to convince Poe proved to be futile.
    “I find Rep. Robredo’s comments quite perplexing considering that her own party, led by the President and LP bet Mar Roxas, aggressively wooed Sen. Poe to be Mar’s running mate before ultimately deciding to give up and settle for the lady from Camarines Sur,” said Roman, who belongs to the administration party, but is running for senator under Poe’s Galing at Puso team.“The LP did not question Sen. Grace’s patriotism when they invited her to run in their Senate slate in 2013, neither did they question it again when they tried to convince her as the party’s vice-presidential bet. So why these questions now?” he pointed out.
    This is not the first time that Robredo, LP and Roxas have had differences on key issues. Robredo once said she was for tax cuts which was contrary to Roxas’ position against tax cuts.
On the controversial issue of “tanim-bala” (bullet-planting), the LP tandem also held opposing views. Robredo favored to decriminalize possession of bullets, while Roxas said, government should not be faulted if a passenger was caught with a bullet.
     At the same time, Romulo said he was disappointed with Robredo’s limited view of patriotism, which raises the possibility of depriving returning overseas-based Filipinos the chance to serve the country if they wish to do so in the future.
     “I believe that Rep. Robredo failed to grasp the implications of her ill-advised statements when she questioned Sen. Poe’s love of country. Yes, some OFWs are not running for president, but what if they decide to? Will Leni and the LP deny these Filipinos, who only want to improve their lot, the right to seek public office because at one point in their lives they chose to live abroad?s I think this is incredibly unfair to those we consider our modern-day heroes,” Romulo stressed./MP

By Ernesto T. Solidum
 Photo at right shows  a lone farmer harvesting her palay crop. Note the poor stand of his palay crop which yield may olny be about 3,000 kilos or three metric tons per hectare due to non application of recomended scientific rice farming technologies.
Chief Executive Officer and columnist Peter Wallace in an article published in the Philippine daily Inquirer of November 12, 2015 called for the repudiation of government rice self sufficiency program. He suggested to rely on cheap rice imported from Vietnam and Thailand instead. Despite the Department of Agriculture target to produce 20,000,000 metric tons in 2013 and 21,000,000 metric tons in 2014, production shortfall is 8-10 percent. Hence, the need to import.
In 2010, rice importations were 2.4 million metric tons, in 2011-0.86 million metric tons, in 2012-0.5 million metric tons, and in 2014-1.3 million metric tons. Obviously, those did not include massive/unchecked smuggling by private  
traders. The decade before, actual rice imports averaged 2.2 million metric tons per year. Since National Food Authority subsidizes, the price of rice (17.00/kgm) government losses is staggering-170 billion pesos over the past 10 years. 
 The proposal of Mr. Wallace, although meritorious, is too drastic and sweeping. It does not take into consideration that rice lands are irrigated, waterlogged or rain fed. Hence, unfit or have limited uses for high value crops. 
At least 40 percent of our rice farms are covered by decrepit irrigation facilities of National Irrigation Administration , communal irrigation projects, small irrigation pumps and farm reservoirs. It appears that irrigated areas are gobbled up by authorized land conversions. 
Furthermore, being fully dependent on another country for critical commodity such as rice, exposes the Philippines  to undue trade restrictions and price fluctuation in the world market. It is sound policy that only a fraction of our rice needs must be imported to keep up with the needs of galloping human population and natural disasters. 
Welfare analysis done by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies headed by Economist Roehlano  Briones indicated  that in 2013, if quantitative restrictions were eliminated in rice imports and rice imports were allowed to freely enter the Philippines, imports would have increased ten-folds bringing down the retail price of rice to 18.80 pesos per kgm from 33.08 pesos/kgm.
 The cost of producing a kilogram of rice in the Philippines is 10.00 pesos while it is only 5.00 pesos/kgm in Thailand and Vietnam. While our average rice yield is 3.9 metric tons per hectare, the above stated countries have achieved 5-6 metric tons per hectare per harvest. Considering that planted and irrigated area in Thailand and Vietnam is double in size than our country and with less number of populations,  it is logical that Vietnam and Thailand have surplus rice production.
In addition, there is full support by the government of these countries to local farmers in terms of farm to market roads, irrigation, seeds, fertilizers, post harvest facilities, research and development , and  technology transfer.
Presently, we have 3.9 million hectares of rice land but only 40 percent is irrigated. The  average yield in irrigated area is 5.0 metric tons per hectare.  The average production of rain fed area is 3.0 metric tons per hectare. 
Policy direction must be to develop maximum potentials of our irrigated farms targeting 6.0 metric tons per hectare. Rain fed rice farms must be converted and planted to high value crops such as rubber, palm oil, Cavendish bananas, mango, cacao and coffee geared for exports. The estimated shortfall could be 2.6 million metric tons of rice. Since high value crops are processed, industrial scale and local employment will be bolstered leading to increased purchasing power.
 Probably, this is the time when the daily exodus of 6,092 Pinoys leaving for work abroad will be reversed. Waning interest in agriculture and fisheries will be stopped: crops and livestock production is bolstered and aging farmers replaced by young blood. The NFA is privatized, while DA and NIA are strengthened with more budget allocation, and the agricultural extension function is returned to the Department of Agriculture with new agriculture secretary who can successfully implement a sound, effective and productive rice self sufficiency program beginning 2016./MP


      Swarm of ABAKADA educators warmly greeting Senator Bongbong Marcos during the ABAKADA Party List NCR/R Leaders Assembly held at the Lyceum of the Philippines.

Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. said that the government can afford to fund the education of all students enrolled in state universities and colleges (SUCs) if education is truly a key priority under this administration.
In a speech before the ABAKADA Party List NCR/R Leaders Assembly held at the Lyceum of the Philippines, Marcos noted that all the government has to do is to allot P15 billion for scholarships and grants-in-aid out of the over P2 trillion 2016 budget instead of constantly shaving the funds for SUCs.
The Senator further said that the government should have no problem including this in the budget noting that it is spending more than P10 billion in hosting the week-long APEC event.
“Palagay ko ay kaya nating gawin at mas marami ang matutulungan. Panahon na na ang lahat ng mga nag aaral sa lahat na SUCs sa buong Pilipinas ay libre na ang pag aaral. Hindi ito suntok sa buwan. Pinag-aralan namin ang budget. P15 billion will pay for all the students for free tertiary education,” Marcos explained.
 Marcos said that there is a need to implement a large scale scholarship/students aid program in the Philippines and institutionalize reforms in the educational system.
“That is why we are looking at the budget and looking at what we can do for education. That is why I have been proposing these measures that some may see as radical but actually aren’t. These are the measures we need to push. These are the initiatives that we need to fight for,” Marcos asserted.
He added that doing this would greatly benefit those who have the potential to succeed in life but are impeded by poverty and their inability to get an education supported by the SUCs.
For his part, ABAKADA Party List Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz welcomed Marcos’ statement and said that their group has been pushing the increase in funding not only for the growing college population in the country but those enrolled in ‘Tech/Voc’ schools as well.
“In addition, one of our initiatives has been the expansion of the student loan program to include more financial institutions to support the SUCs as this has been very effective based on the experience of the United States,” he said.

Jonathan Dela Cruz also said that their group is also pushing the rationalization of the proliferation of locally funded colleges and universities to ensure that these are sustainable and meet the growing needs of the students in the tertiary level./MP 

Monday, November 16, 2015

November 2-7, 2015

Quotation of the Week



At the age of 87 years, eight (8) moths, and two (2) days, Atty. Sergio R. Rigodon went back to his Creator. He passed away on Tuesday, October 27, 2015 in Metro Manila. His body was brought to Banga, Aklan on October 31.
Atty. Rigodon studied Elementary in Banga Elementary School and his secondary in Banga Rural High School where he graduated valedictorian in 1948. He started his colloge education in Aklan Catholic College in Kalibo but transferred to Lyceum of the Philip-pines where he completed Bachelor of Laws in 1953 and passed the bar in the same year. Not contented of being a lawyer, Atty. Rigodon again went back to college, this time at the Far Eastern University where he finished Bachelor of Science in Commerce in 1954.
Atty. Rigodon started his law practice in Metro Manila in 1954 as a corporation lawyer, and he did it until his death. 
Atty. Rigodon was the Municipal Mayor of Banga, Aklan for 23 years (1972-1995). He popularized the name of Banga as “Banga, the Beautiful”. Banga town plaza was awarded the “Most Beautiful Town Plaza” in 1994. However, before becoming Mayor of Banga, Atty. Rigodon topped the election for Board members of Aklan in 1960. Hence, he was Senior Board member, then as Vice Governor of aklan in 1961- 1963.
He was confidential assistant in Legislative Executive Tax Commission in 1964-1965 and Liaison Officer of the House of Representatives in 1966-1967. After the law was approved creating the national Irrigation Administration,  Atty. Rigodon was appointed  
member of the  NIA Board of
Directors from 1968 to 1974. He was managing Director of Aklan Integrated Coconut Industries, Inc. in 1978- 1983.
He was also member of the Board of Directors of Republic Transport & Shipyard Corp., Iloilo City.
Being a lawyer,  Atty. Rigodon was a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Aklan Chapter. He was chairman for several years of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, Aklan Council and member of the Philippine Coconut Producers Federation,  Banga chapter. 
He is survived by his loving wife, Ms. Dorotea O. Iglesias-Rigodon and children Karen R. Galang, Sergio I. Rigodon II, Dorothy R. Dimson, Sergio I. Rigodon III, Joseph I. Rigodon, and Atty. Raymund I. Rigodon./MP


Pasig Rep. Roman T. Romulo this week said the lifeline provided by the UniFast Law to poor and deserving tertiary students should be ready by next school year.
“We expect the implementing rules and regulation to be completed and approved by CHED in January, 2016. This will allow qualified tertiary students to avail of the benefits provided under the law during the first semester of next school year,” said Romulo, who is the principal author of the landmark legislation signed by President Aquino last month, October.
“I urge the CHED to immediately work on the implementing rules and regulations and issue it before the year ends so that we can immediately implement our law next year. Once this law is implemented, there will be no more unfortunate cases similar to that of Kristel Tejada in the future,” he pointed out.
A UP Manila freshman student, the 16-year old Tejada was driven to suicide on March 15, 2013 after she was asked by school authorities to go on forced leave after failing to pay her tuition.
The Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Act  will provide qualified students the following benefits:
•Scholarship ---financial assistance given to eligible students on the basis of merit and/or talent,
•Grant-in-Aid --- financial assistance to poor but eligible students.
Student loan --- financial assistance consisting of short-term or long-term loans which shall be extended to students facing liquidity problems.
The various benefits of the UniFAST Act are broader than that provided for under the Iskolar ng Bayan law and can be availed by any student, whether graduate of public or private school and regardless of ranking in class or school he or she plans to enroll in.
“This is another way of realizing what we want for those who might fall behind as the country moves forward. Dapat lang na walang maiiwan, dapat di na mangyari ang katulad ng nangyari kay Kristel Tejeda” said Romulo./MP


Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. was invited to deliver the keynote address at the 5th Philippine Cooperative TEAMshop on Nov. 13, 2015 to be held at the La Carmela de Boracay Hotel and Convention Center in Boracay, Malay, Aklan. 
More than 1,200 cooperative leaders and practitioners nationwide, including non-government organizations, representatives from local government units, and members of the academe are expected to participate.
Marcos, Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Cooperatives filed Senate Bill 424 seeking to amend the charter of the Cooperative Development Authority to strengthen the country’s cooperative movement.
The Boracay gathering, with the theme “Celebrating 10K Diamond of Cooperation-Trends and Prospects” seeks to revisit the experience of Philippine cooperatives and  to provide updates on the 2020 vision for cooperatives as enunciated by the International Cooperative Alliance.
“I am elated to be amongst the gathering of leaders of the country’s cooperative movement where a fruitful exchange of best practices and insights in managing the agro-industrial business enterprises of cooperatives is sought to be achieved.” 
“I look forward to the discussions about the challenges that cooperatives are facing as a result of the coming Asean Economic Integration,” Marcos concluded. 
On the other hand, Senator Marcos called on government to conduct an inventory of elderly citizens to find out whether all of them are receiving benefits from PhilHealth as mandated by law.
Marcos is co-author of Republic Act 10645, or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act signed into law on November 5, 2014, which provided for the mandatory Philhealth coverage of all senior citizens.
“We would like to find out whether all senior citizens are truly receiving their entitlement from Philhealth. If not, there is a need to initiate the necessary action to ensure that this is corrected and the benefits reach all its intended recipients,” Marcos said.
“Philhealth record shows that as of 2014, its members and beneficiaries under RA 10645 reached 5,881,871,” Said Macos
“RA 10645 amended RA 9994 and expanded and made automatic PhilHealth benefits to all senior citizens especially, including indigent or poor senior citizens who are incapable of paying the monthly contribution to PhilHealth to become members.”
“The original law benefitting senior citizens is RA 7432 allowed Filipinos who are 60 years and above, among others, 20 percent discount from all establishments relative to the utilization of transportation services, hotels, theaters, cinema houses, concert halls, circuses, carnivals and other similar places of culture, leisure, amusement and other purchases,” Marcos pointed out./MP


Good news for the estimated 1.9 million pensioners of the Social Security System (SSS): The Senate this week approved on final reading a bill which seeks to grant an across the board P2,000 increase in the monthly pension of SSS pensioners.
 House Bill 5842, or the Social Security Act, seeks to amend Section 12 of Republic Act 1161 or the Social Security Act of 1997. The latest amendment to the law was 18 years ago under RA 8282.
 The bill was approved with 15 affirmative votes, one negative vote by Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and zero abstention. Enrile said he was against the bill because the granting of the “generous benefit” to SSS pensioners would eventually lead to the “bankruptcy of the SSS.”
 House Bill 5842 was sponsored in the Senate by Senator Cynthia Villar, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto and Senators Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Chiz Escudero, Jing-goy Ejercito-Estrada, Ferdinand “Bongbong Marcos Jr. and Deputy Minority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III.
Villar, chair of the Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises and principal sponsor of HB 5842, said “given the rising cost of living, it is high time we give our retirees and their family a monthly pension that will allow them to at least live with dignity.”
“We must also consider that many of our retired workers, given their old age, have maintenance medicines and special requirements that add to their daily living expenses. Increasing their pension is the least we could do to reward them for decades of hardwork ,” Villar stressed
 At the House of Representatives, the bill was introduced by Congressmen Neri Colmenares, Carlos Isagani Zarate, Mark Villar, Jesus Sacdalan, Marlyn Primicias-Agabas, Cresente Paez, Agapito Guanlao, Edgardo Masongsong, Leah Paquiz and Antonio Tinio.
“While the SSS provided a five percent across-the-board pension increase for its retired members in 2014, it is admitted that such five percent increase is not sufficient to cover the rising cost of living for the past 18 years,” Villar said.
Villar cited data from the National Statistical Coordinating Board which pegged monthly poverty threshold for a family of five at P8,022 per month.
Poverty threshold refers to the minimum income a family or individual must earn in order to be considered “not poor.
Villar said that the average SSS pensioner receives P3,169, which is below the poverty threshold.
“I do not think that the basis for which the SSS was established – that of promoting social justice and providing meaningful protection to its members and their beneficiaries against the hazards of old age, loss of income, among others – is at work,” Villar said.
For his part, Recto said roughly 1.5 million of the SSS pensioners of about 81.5 percent received a monthly pension below P4,000 in 2012. The amount is less than the daily minimum wage and was below the poverty line set by government.
“The consolidated bill seeks an across-the-board increase of P2,000 on the monthly SSS pension. In effect, those receiving the minimum pension of P1,200 per month will now receive P3,200 under this bill. The average SSS pensioner gets about P3,169 a month. If this bill becomes law, his pension will increase to P5,169,” he added.
Recto said the increase in monthly SSS pension will not result in underspending since pensioners will spend their money and boost the domestic economy. /MP


Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero urged NAIA authorities to give members of duly registered media entities access to areas where they can exercise their duties without intervening in security personnel’s work.
 Escudero made the call following reports that media workers accredited to cover the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) are prohibited from going to certain areas of NAIA Terminal 3, where there were reports of the “tanim-bala” cases.
 NAIA reporters complained that the restriction on their access came only in the wake of reports on the alleged extortion scheme that has victimized overseas Filipino workers, tourists and travellers on business. 
“At a time like this when we are all trying to find the truth behind this deplorable ‘tanim-bala’ modus operandi, we need the media to be free to do its work of gathering information, examining our systems, and uncovering the wrongs that may be hidden from sight,” Escudero stressed. 
He pointed out that NAIA personnel and officials of the Manila International Airport Authority should not feel threatened by the presence of prying eyes if they have nothing to hide.
“Lagi naman nating sinasabi na ang walang tinatago hindi natatakot masilip,” Escudero said. 
 According to the Department of Transportation and Communications, there have been 1,394 ammunition-related cases this year, many of them reported only in the last two months. 
The case of OFW Gloria Ortinez, who was detained and prevented from flying to Hong Kong after security personnel found a bullet in her luggage, called attention to the modus operandi, which had also victimized an American missionary and a balikbayan. 
 Ortinez’s case drew media attention to the prevalence of “tanim-bala” incidents in airports.  The National Bureau of Investigation, which was directed to look into the cases, said the scheme is being perpetrated by a syndicate./MP


Tower No. 13 of Agus 2 – Kibawe 138kV line 2 was bombed around 9:00 PM of Nov. 6. This is the 10th tower bombed by lawless elements in 2015.

Just eight days after three NGCP towers in Patani, Marawi City were bombed, another tower in the same area was targeted in the evening of November 6. Tower No. 13 along Agus 2 - Kibawe 138-kilovolt (kV) line 2 in Guimba, Marawi City was bombed by unidentified perpetrators, making it the 10th tower bombed in 2015. 
While the explosion did not topple the tower, the damage it sustained caused it to lean, putting the transmission facility in a more critical condition.
 On October 29, three towers along the same transmission line were bombed. Of the three, two structures, towers No. 19 and No. 20, were toppled. The third tower, No. 21 sustained damage, but was not toppled.
At 1:50 PM of November 9, NGCP was able to fully restore the Agus 2 – Kibawe 138kV line 2 after implementing temporary measures to transmit electricity produced by Agus 1 and 2 hydropower plants to the rest of the Mindanao grid.
The PNP and AFP are leading in the investigation and exerting all efforts to catch the perpetrator/s.
“This is the 10th tower bombed by lawless elements in 2015 alone, with 5 towers bombed within the month of October. We are very concerned that this situation seems to be escalating, with each incident happening progressively closely to each other,” the company stressed. “With the help of the local authorities, several other bombs were found see page 3 
on our facilities, but these did not detonate and were safely disposed of,” said NGCP.
“NGCP is appeal 
ing to the public to help monitor the safety of the towers so that transmission services remain uninterrupted,” NGCP said. “If anyone sees anything suspicious at or around our towers and facilities, please inform us immediately. You may text us your tips and other information at 09178791077.”
NGCP is fully cooperating with law the enforcement agencies as they investigate the incident. Restoration efforts began as soon as the area was declared safe.
Restoration of transmission services to affected areas were likewise hampered by uncooperative landowners who are preventing NGCP from conducting much needed vegetation clearing activities. Elements of the Philippine Armed Forces are currently assisting NGCP in entering the properties of the uncooperative landowners to expedite restoration.
NGCP has repeatedly appealed to the government and the Philippine Army to assist resolve the escalating security and right-of-way issues in Mindanao./MP

DTI Aklan to hold Product Expo 2015 in Iloilo City

DTI Aklan’s Product Exposition 2015 will be staged at the Event Center, Lower Ground in SM City Mall Expansion, Iloilo City on November 20-26, 2015.
Anchored on the theme, “Local Materials, Global Quality”, the product expo will showcase innovative products of twenty-eight (28) Aklan MSMEs. Distinctive and high quality woven wearables, decors, and housewares will highlight the 6-day exposition.
Aklan’s recognized meat and bakery products will also be exhibited and made available for sale together with health and wellness and tourism-related and support products. Another feature of the product expo is the Craft Demonstration on Abaca Macrame and Fashion Accessories.
The expo in Iloilo City aims to expand the market reach of Aklan MSMEs as it provides an opportunity for them to showcase their products to the regional market in Iloilo and its neighboring provinces.
The expo is open from 10:00AM to 9:00PM. The opening program is at 2:00 PM on November 20. Top officials of the Province of Aklan, DTI and local exhibitors are expected to grace the product expo opening.
This marketing event is organized by the DTI-Aklan and the Hugod Aklanon Producers Association, Inc. in partnership with the Provincial Government of Aklan.     
Come and visit the Product Expo 2015./MP

By Jaana Tamayo 

The newly inducted officers of the Organic Herbs Producers and Livelihood Association of Aklan and Farmer Field School participants are shown in the photo taken after receiving their certificates of completion in the School on the Air and Farmers Field School on Herb Production, Processing, Utilization and Marketing.

  Aimed to provide skills and knowledge on herbal production, processing, utilization and marketing via radio broadcast, the Agricultural Training Institute Regional Training Center 6 (ATI RTC 6) in collaboration with the local government units of Kalibo, Numancia, Lezo, Malinao, Banga, Makato, Altavas and Balete, Aklan graduated 605 participants from the first of its kind School on the Air (SOA) and Farmers Field School (FFS) specialized on herbs. One component of the program is a weekly FFS held at the ATI Training Hall to
actualize the technology discussed on the air thru hands on training and demonstration.
The SOA participants gained knowledge on the medical benefits and uses of herbs, its application, and production practices and technologies. They also learned  entrepreneurship, marketing and packaging.
SOA is one of the training interventions to implement Republic Act 8423 or the Traditional and Alternative Medicine Act (TAMA) of 1997 which aims to improve the quality and delivery of health care services through the development of alternative health care and its integration into the national health care delivery system.  
The training course provides livelihood opportunities to its graduates.  They can engage in profitable and marketable ventures in herbal production, processing and utilization such as making decoctions, infusions, poultices, ointments, balms, and creams to treat minor ailments.
According to Ms. Florepe Mortallia of ATI RTC 6 Information Officer II and SOA Aklan Focal Person, the participants have been mass producing herbs and processing ointments for skin disease, balms, lip balms, facial cream and massage oils.
 “Synthetic medicine is very expensive, but we can find cheaper alternative medicine from our surroundings. We are blessed with so many herbs and it is only a matter of identifying them. Participants are taught how to process herbs into different kinds of medical products for their personal use and they can make it as a business as well.”Mortalla. Pointed out 
Banga Municipal Mayor, Erlinda Maming, who graced the graduation program considers SOA/FFS on Herbs as“an avenue worthy of commendation” in the organization’s aim to capacitatevarious stakeholders from the community who have taken interest in entrepreneurship.
“Our modern outlook and practices in life carry health hazards and risks. It can be mitigated with the use of these  see page 4
herbal products and medicines. May you all excel in this endeavor,.”Maming told the graduates. Likewise, Aklan State University Dean of the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Environmental Sciences Dr. Melissa Tolentino, Madyaas Publisher/Editor-in-Chief and also former ATI director Dr. Ambrosio R. Villorente, and SB Member Agosto Tolentino extended their congratulations to the graduates. They thanked ATI for tirelessly providing the trainings.
ATI Central Office Information Services Division Chief Antonietta Arceo who flew in from Manila explained that Region 6 has a huge potential in the promotion of herbal processing and marketing. She encouraged the newly inducted officers of the Organic Herbs Producers and Livelihood Association of Aklan (OHPLAA) to take the lead in linking and finding opportunities to market their products.
“This covers all the value chain from production, processing, utilization to marketing. The newly inducted officers have a big responsibility to push the association into marketing. There are 600 producers who can display their products at Agrilink.  We can refer them to potential buyers.” Arceo assured.
“I am very happy with your strategy because when you are organized well, you are able to compete with other players. Only when you are together, you cope up with the market demand. All of these contributes to our mission statement in reaching out, building dreams and changing lives.” Arceo added.
She commended Center Director Dr. Eden DLR. Bautista for the innovation on herbs and for responding to the “call of the times” to go into herbal and organic. Doc Eden also urged the participants to take the practices by heart and shared to them the 4Ms which are moment, method, money, and month./MP 


Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr, with Mayors from South Cotabato led by League of Municipalities of the Philippines South Cotabato Chapter President, Municipality of Tupi, Mayor Reynaldo “Jun” Tamayo Jr., (in dark blue beside SBBM) expressed their “10 is to 10” (10 Municipalities of South Cotabato, 10 Mayors), support for Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr.,(in checkered shirt) during a luncheon held at Ranchero Restaurant, General Santos City over the weekend. Other Mayors include Banga Mayor, Albert Palencia, Lake Sebu Mayor Antonio Fungan, Norala Mayor Victor Balayon, Polomonok Mayor Honey Lumayag-Matti, Santo NiƱo Mayor Antonio Damandaman Sr., Surallah Mayor Antonio Bendita, Tampakan Mayor Benjamine Figeroa Jr., and T’boli Mayor Tuan Dibu.

Senator Ferdinand“Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. has scored the government’s “import-oriented policy” on agricultural products and neglect of the agricultural sector.
   “Sa nakaraang ilang taon ay walang ginawa para tulungan ang agrikultura at import na lang tayo nang import kaya naman napakamahal ng
bilihin sa palengke,” he said.
 Marcos, Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food said continued failure to improve the country’s agriculture sector and heavy dependence on importation has been one of the factors that is pushing up the market price of farm products.
Marcos urged the government to shift from massive importation to massive implementation of programs that would uplift the state of the country’s agricultural production resulting to enhanced harvest that will  push down the price of farm products and agriculture—based merchandise.
 He said the government should ensure that agricultural products are at farm-gate price levels when sold in the market to make them affordable to consumers.
 “One way of doing this is through a system where the participation of the middlemen in trading farm outlets  is minimized or regulated, if not totally stopped.”/MP

Monday, November 09, 2015


NGCP continues its efforts to provide training and development to engineering professionals across different sectors of the energy industry with the conduct of the Technical Congress (TechCon) recently. 
Engineers from NGCP, distribution utilities, and electric cooperatives participated in the 2-day event held at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Cebu City. As an accredited Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Provider, participants of the TechCon are entitled to units required for renewing their PRC licenses.
 The event included topics on transmission planning, grid operations, network protection, telecommunications, and power transformer maintenance. Other discussions are on substation design, emergency restoration system, substation operation and maintenance, the NGCP Standard on Protective Relaying Scheme, safety and reliability of lines through condition-based assessment, and restoration works after typhoon devastation.
Engr. Jaime V. Mendoza, member of the PRC Board of Electrical Engineering, gave his keynote message. He also presented the guidelines for the Professional Electrical Engineer Licensure examination.
 While most of the speakers are NGCP managers and technical specialists, Mr. Hakam Johansson of ABB Sweden also presented on Smart Grid, while Mr. Sha Jingang from ZTE briefed the participants about optical transmission system. 
 “NGCP believes that continuing education plays an important role in developing and building the country’s engineering workforce. The TechCon will lead the way in making this happen at the individual, organization, and industry levels by creating opportunities to share our best practices,” the company stated.
 The Cebu leg of the event will be followed by two more sessions in Davao City in November, and in Manila by the end of 2015.
 NGCP is a privately owned corporation in charge of operating, maintaining, and developing the Philippines’ power grid. It transmits high-voltage electricity through “power superhighways” that include the interconnected system of transmission lines, towers, substations, and related assets. The consortium, which holds the 25-year concession contract to operate the country’s power transmission network, is comprised of Monte Oro Grid Resources Corp. led by Henry Sy, Jr., Calaca High Power Corporation led by Robert Coyiuto, Jr., and the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) as technical partner./MP


Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo said, he would continue to push for the passage of the proposed cut in income taxes and the Freedom on Information bill when the House of Representatives resumed its sessions on Tuesday, November 3.
“We cannot give up on the proposed income tax cuts and the FOI. With the national budget already    out of the way, the House can now focus on these measures,” he said.
“Our fixed income workers in government and the private sector need this tax relief. Whatever gains in income they get will surely be funneled back into the economy,” Romulo, an economist and lawyer, pointed out.
The proposed cut in individual income taxe is expected to be passed at the committee level and brought to the plenary before the House adjourns for the Christmas break despite the opposition of the Department of Finance and Bureau of Internal Revenue
On the Freedom of Information bill, Romulo lamented that while President Aquino has certified the FOI as one of his priority bills when he took office, it has languished at the administration-controlled House.
In his 2016 budget message, Aquino called for the passage of the FOI “to ensure the permanency of his transparency policies.”
“This is essentially an anti-corruption and people-empowerment measure. We need this to ensure that no one will be left behind in our forward march to progress,” Romulo said.
House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Committee on Public Information chair Jorge Almonte have also expressed their desire to pass the FOI bill before the 16th Congress closes in July 2016.
“Realistically, the window for passing the FOI and other priority bills will effectively close when Congress adjourns for the election campaign on Feb. 5, 2016,” Romulo said.
“Nasa last two minutes na po tayo. We need to do a full-court  pres s kung sa basketbol pa, to win this for our people,” he pointed out./MP


Senator Francis Escudero wants local tourism offices, tour operators and travel guides to be more prepared in dealing with emergencies, following the incident that killed a tourist in Palawan, a popular tourist destination.  
 The senator, who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, urged local government units (LGUs) to step up their crisis management programs to ensure the safety of both local and foreign visitors.
 Escudero made the call after the death of tourist Miguel Ruiz fueled concerns among travelers to the Philippines. Ruiz was reported to have died of poisoning after stepping on a still unknown marine species while snorkeling in Coron.
 “From the looks of it, it seems no proper medical response was given to the victim,” Escudero said.
 “This is alarming because the incident exposed the vulnerabilities of our tour operators and the lack of capacity of our local travel authorities to handle emergency situations,” he said.
 The Coron LGU has released a statement saying Ruiz’s death is “still surrounded by a cloud of uncertainty” and that the cause of death would not be known until the autopsy results are out.
 “The sluggish response from the tour guides is proof of the lack of proper first-aid training of those who are supposed to ensure your safety while on holiday,” Escudero said. “How can we expect our local authorities to handle a large-scale disaster or emergency situation?
 The senator urged LGUs, especially of tourism hot spots like Palawan, to conduct basic life support training or similar refresher courses for tourism front-liners so that they would be equipped to handle emergency situations.
 He also said LGUs should institute more stringent certification guidelines to make sure that tour operators and guides are complying with the requirements of the Department of Tourism (DOT) and local tourism offices.
 Last year, seven students from Bulacan State University who were on a field trip drowned while crossing Madlum River in San Miguel, Bulacan.
 Escudero pointed out that such incidents could be detrimental to the tourism industry.
 Some 2.6 million foreign visitors arrived in the country in the first half of 2015, according to the DOT. Last year, revenues from tourism amounted to P982.4 billion./MP

                 BEST OFFER FOR SPACE        

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) through, Mr. Martin Terry, manager of Kalibo International Airport (KIA) invited to a meeting last month the temporary occupants of some spaces at the KIA being used as display of goods for sale. The matter discussed was the amount of monthly rentals of the spaces by the temporary occupants.
According to Mr. Terry, those present occupants are invited to submit their “Best Offer” for the use of the spaces they occupy at KIA as rental fees. Those Best Offers which CAAP will select will continue their operations using the spaces now they respectively occupy.
Should there be Best Offer from the new applicants, the right to use the said space of the present occupants will be terminated and the space will be given to the new applicants with Best Offer.
In the course of the discussion, the present tenants at KIA requested that the CAAP will stop looking for the Best Offers. Instead, CAAP may just compute the just, fair and mutually agreable amount the present occupants to pay as rental at the KIA  monthly.
Those who are now renting spaces at KIA are almost all from Aklan. They are afraid that the Best Offer will come from  non- Aklanons and even from foreigners. If this will happen, then what will they get from the tourist industry?  They asked.
Maybe, non-Aklanons will get the lucrative business and the Aklanons will just get the pollution like noise, and haze, high inflation rate and bad traffic condition. 
 at Kalibo Bridge
The 330 million pesos spent for the construction of Kalibo Bridge is becoming idle if not useless. The bridge is completed few months ago, but it cannot be used as intended.
Phase I and Phase II of the project are completed. However, Phase III is not yet started. This covers the approaches to the bridge from the Western or Numancia and the Eastern or Kalibo.  
The two storey buildings owned by the Rebesencios’ and that of the Ilejays’ had price tag bigger than the DPWH offer of 3.6 million pesos each. 
The Rebesencio building must be totally demolished, while that of Ilejay will only be partially demolished for safe vehicle passage. On the Numancia side, 3 buildings are affected but at lesser cost. 
This Kalibo bridge construction is one good example where DPWH authority approved projects for construction, but without working or negotiating with real property owners who are affected by the construction as regards the price in case of property demolition and acquisition of land. It is difficult to imagine why it is only now when District Engr. Noel  L. Fuentebella requested  Gov.  Florencio T. Miraflores to help in the speedy resolution of the problems on both approaches of the bridge with real property owners.
The Senate approved on final reading a bill that seeks to provide micro, small and medium entrepreneurs more access to micro-financing.
Senate Bill No. 2909 by Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, aims to expand and strengthen the current Credit Surety Fund (CSF) program of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) by making it easier for micro, small, and medium enterprises, cooperatives and non-government organizations, local government units, and government financial institutions  to gain access to credit facilities. 
Aquino, chairman of the Committee on Trade Commerce and Entrepreneurship, said the “lack of access to financing remains the biggest roadblock for the growth of MSMEs in the Philippines since the existing requirements for credit do not consider the nature of micro and small businesses.”
Aquino said the measure gives small enterprises with loan requirements ranging from P500, 000 to P5 million access to loans provided by banking institutions.
“By building up the capability of MSMEs, cooperatives and NGOs in the areas of credit evaluation, loan and risk management, and good governance principles, the measure is expected to generate more employment, which in turn gives more teeth to the poverty alleviation program of the government through increased investments and economic activities in the countryside,” Aquino said.
Under the measure, the BSP will spearhead the promotion, creation, and organizational development of CSF Cooperatives,  provide technical assistance such as training and seminars, assist the Cooperative Development Authority in setting the criteria and qualifications for CSF cooperatives, provide other forms of assistance as maybe determined by the Monetary Board.
The CSF is created to pool the contributions of cooperatives and NGOs, LGUs and partner institutions, and  allows MSMEs to borrow from banks using the CSF as security for the loan instead of conventional collateral.
 “This measure gives us the opportunity to take the next step in our quest to embolden our countrymen with the right resources and opportunities./MP  


It’s like killing people all over again just to revive a ‘zombie.’
This is how the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) described the reported revitalization of the decrepit Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) which management was replaced more than a year ago when businessman Martin Lorenzo purportedly acquired the sugar mill in 2014.
The CAT, located within the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita, then acquired shares of other Aquino-Cojuangco firms such as the Luisita Realty Corp. (LRC) and Luisita Industrial Park Co. (LIPCO) through the CAT Resource & Asset Holdings, Inc. or CRAHI. The Cojuangcos remain owners of the sugar mill through Fernando Cojuangco, President and Chief Operating Officer of CAT. Cojuangco is the son of the late Don Pedro Cojuangco and first cousin of President BS Aquino.
According to business reports, Lorenzo has already taught the Cojuangcos a lesson or two in “efficiency” after only a year at the CAT. UMA decried that these steps – such as massive retrenchment and contractualization in the mill, coupled with landgrabbing and the wholesale swindle of supposed agrarian reform beneficiaries – are tantamount to the slow death of farmers and laborers in Hacienda Luisita.
According to UMA Acting Chair John Milton Lozande, the Lorenzos and the Cojuangcos are cutting costs at the sugar mill not just by shedding the traditional perks enjoyed by hacienderos. “They are still raking in profits primarily through the blood and sweat of workers and peasants, who are now doubly exploited through contractualization and the rampant aryendo or leaseback scheme.”
In May this year, almost 700 workers of the CAT were retrenched and forced to sign “voluntary retirement” papers. Those to be rehired this milling season starting November will now work as contractuals.  Because of fake land distribution implemented in 2013, supposed beneficiaries who used to work for HLI are now back to being cane cutters employed in the old “kapatas”(middleman) and “pakyaw” (piece-rate) system.
Lozande pointed out that Aquino cronies such as casino queen’ Virginia Torres also facilitate the reconcentration of supposed land reform areas back to the control of this zombie azucarera.
“Even President Aquino admits to this scandalous anomaly just to defend Torres from sugar smuggling accusations,” said Lozande. Only last month, Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Fernando Hicap exposed Torres’s hand in the coercion and swindling of Luisita farmworker-beneficiaries through the illicit aryendo or leaseback scheme.
Lozande also said that the planned sale by the Lorenzos of land assests under CAT and LRC is a ploy for the Cojuangco-Aquinos to evade payment of its standing debt to farmworkers. The Cojuangco-Aquino owned Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI), established in 1989 to implement the stock distribution option (SDO) land reform scheme, still owes farmworkers a total of Php 1.33 billion.
In its April 24, 2012 landmark decision for total land distribution in Luisita, the Supreme Court (SC) also ordered the audit of the Php 1.33 billion farmworkers share in the sale of 580 hectares of the company’s land assets to RCBC, Centennary Holdings, and the SCTEX area traversing Hacienda Luisita.
“Disposing of the CAT and LRC’s land assets will muddle the audit, as we believed that these are still part of HLI’s assets where farmers have a legitimate share. Morally and historically, the Cojuangco-Aquinos do not deserve a single centavo, they should no longer own even a single inch of land in Luisita,”see page 3 
said Lozande.
These assets include 505 hectares that are purportedly no longer required for cane milling and sugar refinery operations, and that Lorenzo plans to sell and/or develop out of the self-declared 628-hectare refinery complex.
Other than that, the SC ordered the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), to cover other agricultural lands originally held by another Cojuangco-Aquino firm, the Tarlac Development Corporation or TADECO.  In February 2014, the LRC applied to the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) to declare a 260.4-hectare property located in Barangay Balete, Luisita for inclusion to the existing Luisita Industrial Park – Special Economic Zone.
The area, where scores of farmers were injured as Aquino-Cojuangco goons bulldozed crops and burned huts in 2013, is purported TADECO property. The PEZA’s ultimate go-signal for the LRC’s application must be approved by President BS Aquino himself.
“BS Aquino’s alter-egos at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the DAR have so far failed to act positively on any of the complaints and petitions filed by the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA), in behalf of the victims and affected farmers. What do we expect from this haciendero’s tuwad na daan (crooked path)? More than a decade after the massacre, they are still imposing slow death to the farmers,” said Lozande. AMBALA is UMA’s local affiliate in Hacienda Luisita.
“The hacienderos only wish, but the people of Hacienda Luisita will not simply drop dead in the face of blatant swindling and exploitation. Workers and peasants will continue to fight for genuine land reform and national industrialization,” said Lozande.
UMA supports the enactment of House Bill 252 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) filed by Anakpawis Partylist representative in Congress./MP


 The Senate resumes its sessions on Tuesday, November 3, after a month-long legislative break to finish up priority legislation still pending in the 16th Congress.
Senate President Franklin  M. Drilon said the passage of the 2016 national budget and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law will be on top of the Senate’s agenda when they return tomorrow.  
Drilon said that the Senate is set to start soon their deliberations on the proposed P3.002 trillion national budget for 2016, noting that the House of Representatives have already passed their version of the 2016 General Appropriations Act on third reading last October 9, and have already transmitted it to the Senate.
 Drilon vowed that as they have consistently done so in the last five years, “the Senate will pass the 2016 budget on schedule for the unimpeded and timely delivery ofgovernment services next year.”
  He also said that they will resume working on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which is currently pending on second reading at the Senate floor: “We will continue to work hard on it so hopefully, it will hurdle the Senate before the year ends.”            
Drilon pointed out that the Senate has made a priority and will strive to pass the proposed act increasing the monthly pension under the Social Security System (SSS), a measure which he is personally supporting.
The Senate leader will also continue to push the passage of other priority measures, like the Customs and Tariff Modernization Act, the Public-Private Partnership Act, and the amendments to the charter of the -Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC)./MP

October 25-31, 2015


Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero likewise urged the government to provide immediate assistance to farmers whose crops were destroyed by Typhoon “Lando” in Northern and Central Luzon earlier this week.
 Escudero lamented the massive destruction typhoon Lando caused on agriculture in hardest hit provinces of Aurora and Nueva Ecija, where flood waters swamped farmlands right during harvest time.
 “It can be noted that these are among the country’s top rice-producing provinces. The devastation not only threatens the livelihood of farmers, but also food security in the two regions that mainly depend on the crop for their sustenance.”
 The Department of Agriculture (DA) pegged typhoon damage to the agriculture sector at P5.9 billion, covering a total of 277,060 hectares of farmlands in the Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Cordillera and Central Luzon regions.
 The DA estimated that the four regions have already lost 389,000 metric tons of rice. Of the total, palay accounts for the largest production loss at about 360,000 MT, equivalent to P5.3 billion.Central Luzon has the worst production loss for rice at 326,000 MT with Nueva Ecija incurring the biggest damage cost, followed by Tarlac, Bulacan, Aurora, Bataan and Pampanga.
 The government should help farmer victims recover from the strongest typhoon by providing them all they need to enable them to plant crops in time for the next planting season.
 Based on official figures from the Department of Budget and Management, about P9.6 billion in Calamity Fund and Quick Response Fund are immediately available to help those affected by Lando, as well as P1 billion from the People’s Survival Fund.
 “Aside from seeds and fertilizers, affected farmers also need to rebuild agricultural infrastructure like storage and irrigation facilities to help them in the long-term,” said Escudero./MP