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Entrepreneurship in Relation to ASEAN 2015

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ONE more year and the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are gearing towards freer and wider market in its Economic Integration pushing for the realization of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). Such countries are Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Cambodia;  with China, Japan, and South Korea in the ASEAN Plus.

To those who are not so familiar with the ASEAN Economic Integration, let me put it in simple terms – “free-flow”. With it, people would be allowed to purchase, sell products and services, work and invest in any of the member countries of the ASEAN with lesser restrictions unlike what we are used to – strict protectionism. Instead of having to spend so much in terms of tariffs and complying with bloody requirements, strict procedures and other trade burdens, trading would be a lot easier, because the aim of the ASEAN is to have zero or near zero trade barriers. This would be enjoyed by all ASEAN member countries.  In addition, Southeast Asians wanting to work overseas (in ASEAN countries) would experience easier processes. Free-flow of work-force would happen.  Investors could capitalize their resources freely as they expand from one nation to another nation in the ASEAN.

Entrepreneurs would directly benefit from the ASEAN Economic Integration. There is a lot to be excited about for them.

The Philippines would be able to compete in the global setting through the one market and production base of the ASEAN. In this sense, there would be unity and more productivity among the member countries. Ironically, as member countries compete in terms of the ability to offer lower prices to consumers brought by removing or lessening trade barriers, the whole of ASEAN could benefit as a group – bonded together in creating economic progress. The free-flow would give reason for entrepreneurs to be able to cut costs for their production materials, equipment and manpower, because they would be able to get it at significantly cheaper amounts. They could have the needed edge to compete with the other larger companies in the whole world.

At a regional scale, the lending and borrowing from banks would be easier as it would have to adjust with the changes and accompany the needs for capitalization of entrepreneurs. I believe that bank transactions between and among ASEAN countries would be a lot busier compared before and it would mean significant money coming in and out of the country.

The country’s local government units (LGUs) are being improved to become business-friendly and competitive. LGUs have programs that streamline Business Permits and Licensing System (BPLS) and develop the economy through the Local Economic Development (LED) programs. In this way, the country’s budding entrepreneurs who would like to take the opportunity to do business in the ASEAN would have better access to acquire the necessary documents they need to possess in order to establish legitimate enterprises.

Free-flow could not flourish if not for state-of-the-art infrastructure as well.  Entrepreneurs know the hassle of transporting precious goods from one point to another.  Even though we already have some notable infrastructure, there is still so much that need to be improved. With the ASEAN Economic Integration, lagging behind would not be an option. The budget and plans in developing infrastructure would have to be applied, so that the country would be able to connect with the member nations internally and externally – roads, bridges and ports would have to be made.   Entrepreneurs would be able to transport their products in the country more safely and accessibly, in all of its provinces and cities and of course out of the country to all other ASEAN countries. Consequently, entrepreneurs that focus on the tourism sector would benefit from the ease of travel. Good news for all businesses in our tourist spots.

The ASEAN Economic Integration would also mean more opportunities for the country to develop its communications and information technology facilities. In this age of high technology, entrepreneurs could benefit even more from the World Wide Web when they try to compete with the tigers and reach their customers in the global setting. We know of it as entrepreneurs have established their on-line stores which are gaining more and more attention from customers who would rather remain in the comforts of their homes and order the latest products at best deals!  Entrepreneurs who are home-based and who are mostly just starting up do business on-line. Why not?  Communications brought by the internet has proven to be very effective and efficient.

With free-flow, the market is even wider and tougher and we could expect even greater – tons of exportation and importation dealings happening from one corner of the world to another with the use of the internet. Imagine how else entrepreneurs could speed up the increase of their sales, but with the use of the continually developing communications and information technology! Almost everything could be just one click away from happening.  In order to “go with the flow”, the free-flow would have to be accompanied with improved communications and information technology.

Investors coming in the country for expansion would provide entrepreneurs that sub-contract for more opportunities to do business. Entrepreneurs who would like to invest in another ASEAN country would be encouraged and would enjoy none, if not fewer restrictions.

The Philippines would have to adjust and better its competitiveness as it would need to keep up with the requirements of the AEC and integrate with all member countries.                  There would be no other sensible way, but to improve. Sink or swim they say, but I am confident, our country’s entrepreneurs would have what it takes to take advantage of the free-flow and run with the tigers.

 

Reference:

“Rising as one: The Filipino Nation Towards The ASEAN Economic Integration” by Local Government Academy

Agricultural Surge

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WITH various controversies and anomalies, Philippines agricultural forecast seems to follow a bright rainbow in the sky.

No less than the government’s Department of Agriculture under its chief honcho –Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, has been in the limelight lately, due to several controversies hounding the country’s precious prime staple food –rice.

In fact, just before the ‘forced’ resignation of former Custom’s chief Biazon, rice smuggling was among those that hugged newspaper headlines from Aparri to Jolo, and whereby top accused rice smugglers rocked the confines of our anti-crime agencies via several high-point Senate-led inquiries.

The Philippine Agricultural Journalists Inc. (PAJ), one of the country’s pioneering news associations (now led by the dynamic Philippine Star business editor and my close friend –Roman ‘Sir Manong’ Floresca,) has been at the frontlines of the nation’s agricultural dimensions since the mid-seventies, dwelling on in-depth articles, research, plus innovations and insights on the latest developments of our society’s prime economic-mover in the 21st century.

And while we are dwelling on our favorite subject –rice, did you know that Ilocos Norte has just received its deserving award for being one of the top 12 rice-producing provinces of the country. No less than Ilocos Norte’s hard-working Governor –Imee Marcos received the “2013 National Rice Achievers”(NRA) trophy from DA Sec Alcala, and national rice production coordinator and the DA’s Undersecretary Dante S. Delima. As per media release which appeared in the PS: “other winning provinces includeNueva Ecija, North Cotobato, Nueva Viscaya, Isabela, Pangasinan, Bukidnon, Bulacan , Kalinga, Mindoro Occidental, Laguna and Lanao del Norte. A total of P117.42 million worth of project grants and cash prizes were given out to the awardees which consisted of 12 provinces, 48 municipalities, 10 irrigator associations (IA’s), three small water impounding system associations (SWISAs) and agricultural extension workers (AEWs).

The addendum report stated that “each province received P4-million worth of project grant, while municipalities received P1-million worth of project grants. The IA’s and SWISAs each received P1-million and P500,000 respectively, while AEWs were given P20,000 cash prize each.” Well folks, that says a lot about the ‘strength’ of our rice-producing provinces.

Just wondering how this ‘good news’ would affect the cash registers of some rice-supporting fast-food establishments like Inasal for example, which is by the way, now under the stewardship of globally-strong Filipino-owned firm –Jollibee Group.

And by the way, what have we here on the latest developments concerning the hotly-controversial National Food Authority (NFA) which was at the receiving end of countless accusations vis-a-vis “anomalies and corruption” that required Senate and  Congressional inquiry for that matter?  In fact, a number of people’s organizations have called for its abolition “citing billions of pesos in debt the government has incurred over the years.”

Latest media reports however has it that no less than the Palace “has stood pat on its position not to abolish the grains procurement agency, saying this will affect millions of Filipino farmers dependent on NFA support price for palay.”

Now we wonder why this present administration is still open to import rice from our neighboring ASEAN brothers, when it has been revealed (as per documented media reportage) that our beloved Philippines has enough rice production to feed our growing millions of Filipinos nationwide.  Let us remember, what the Word states: “…and the truth shall set you free.”

And to think that “to date, NFA’s debts are placed at around P150 billion.” Where do we go from here?

Reawakening of Subic

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Stung by the erosion of its competitiveness as an investment haven, the state-run Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA is stepping up its infrastructure spending in what could be a reawakening from years of complacency.

This year, the SBMA’s capital expenditure (capex budget amounts to P617 million, an unprecedented 6,740 percent increase over last year’s P9 million.

A big departure from past allocations, the SBMA plans to embark on more projects to improve infrastructure and facilities, as well as to further promote the Subic Bay Freeport view of rise of new rival Freeport zones in Vietnam, China and Myanmar.

Approved by the SBMA board of directors, this year’s outlay came on the strength of the agency’s record-breaking financial performance for 2013.

The SBMA booked last year an all-time net profit of P1.079 billion, its highest in its entire 21-year history. The SBMA’s 2013 gross revenue of P2.09 billion and earnings before interest, taxes,  depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of P992 million likewise became the highest in the agency’s history. The money will bankroll the acquisition of new dump trucks, service vehicles, and beautification of the Freeport, roads, and repair of infrastructure, airport, and other projects to make the Freeport more attractive to foreign investors.

According to figures released by the SBMA Finance Group, of the agency’s budget, P2.6 million will be spent on buildings and structures; P90 million on land and land improvements; P391 million on equipment outlay; and P134 million on information technology equipment, which received a budget of only P13,000 in 2013.

SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia appealed to SBMA officials and employees to continue looking for new sources of revenue to further improve the agency’s financial performance.

“We are already here at this level where we can provide for what we need. We are committed to spend not only for equipment and facilities, but for our people most especially,” Garcia assured. “But we must help each other to take SBMA up to an even  higher level,” he added.

The SBMA is also strengthening its law enforcement capacity to make the Subic Bay Freeport more attractive to investors and more conducive to trade and tourism.

“Let us all practice Kaizen. Let us not be contended with what we have achieved. Let us always aim to surpass our achievement,” Garcia said.

Kaizen, Garcia explained, is a Japanese word that means continuous improvement.

Garcia said that even as the SBMA posted an impressive performance in 2013, it should aspire for even greater accomplishments in order to remain competitive as a trade and tourism hub.

He pointed out that in 2013, the SBMA board of directors approved a total of P27 billion in terms of investment pledges, which was 800 percent more than the P3 billion recorded in the previous year.

Topping all other investment pledges in 2013 was the Korean firm Resom Resort, which committed P21.4 billion out of the total P27 billion pledges.

Garcia also said that the SBMA will be developing more areas for investment this year following the turnover by the municipal council of San Antonio, Zambales of the 10,000-hectare San Antonio Economic Development Area for conversion into an additional secured area of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

Aside from this, the SBMA has also worked out with the local government of Subic, Zambales for the free port expansion into a 650-hectare coastal land in the municipality that will be ideal for shipbuilding and ship repair.

Both territorial expansion projects will be utilized to accommodate the growing investment proposals being received by the agency, Garcia said in a statement.

Delusional Patriots

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IT is very natural for people to disagree with one another. Each human is created unique and distinct or, in a real sense: without equal. E.g., take an event, like a basketball game witnessed by a thousand spectators, and you can expect from them a thousand accounts with variances in perception, understanding, enjoyment and what have you.

Differences should never spawn ill feelings. They are like rains that come in cycles alternating with sunshine. Let us welcome them as opportunities for building healthier relationships, resting assured that the laws of God and of Man are precisely the infrastructure of just and orderly societies. Significantly, as there is a “carrot and stick” discipline for homes and schools, so also is there a system of “crime and punishment” in the wider environment beyond their fences.

Let us therefore acknowledge and accept life’s greatest challenge: to doggedly temper irreconcilable differences, to generously give or give in, or otherwise make sacrifices in order to strengthen or preserve the whole of which we are each expendable parts. Given the cited infrastructure, there’s no reason why peace is not attainable in our blighted land.

Eternal patience

Last March 29, the Nationalist People’s Army (NPA), the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), somberly observed its 45th Anniversary barely a week after the capture in Cebu of the two highest officials of the CPP-NPA  network, along with 10 others. Apart from being a blow to the morale of the commies, the arrests are certain to set back their calendar of armed operations against government buildings and military installations, not to mention populated civilian areas.

In dealing with communist rebels, not to mention their Moro counterparts down south, civilian and military authorities have demonstrated eternal patience. Indeed, legislating, listening, negotiating, giving carrots and bending backwards to spinal discomforts have long become the norms of official policy. But what happens if carrots do not work any longer? Dialog after dialog has not worked. Ceasefire after ceasefire has not worked. Amnesty after amnesty has not worked. Of late, the peace process has ground to a halt…no thanks to the Reds!

Time for the sticks

My personal reaction to the recent arrest of twelve communists in Cebu, including the CPP-NPA Chair, his wife and five others who reportedly comprise the highest Maoist ruling body in the country today, is: “Good. Charge them all immediately with Rebellion. With respect to leader Benito Tiamson and his wife Wilma, Secretary General and Finance Chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines, against whom warrants of arrest for Murder and Frustrated Murder had long been issued, their criminal prosecution should commence without delay, unless of course the said crimes were committed in furtherance of rebellion, in which case they should be tried only for Rebellion”.

Ringing hollow is their claim that their arrest would only set back the on-off series of peace talks started over 25 years ago, since it is a documented fact that they have cavalierly derailed the peace talks with constant absences from scheduled meetings, not to mention their programmed forays into traditional targets anytime they choose. Should they be treated any differently from a widowed labandera who got 14 years for robbing and killing a businessman so she could feed her six children?

The Valley of Death

Sure, their alleged love of country is aflame with revolutionary fervor — dig those slogans screamed out with clenched fists! — but hey, non-commies like me are also country-lovers, and they need no strident slogans and clenched fists to assemble, debate and make meaningful headways in the quest for social change!  And this they can do as a guaranteed right to use what is known as “democratic free space” — an expanse that includes the polling places, the halls of Congress, the courtrooms, the streets and other open spaces allowed for marches and the airing of grievances.

Revolutionary catchphrases like “Tuloy ang laban!” and “Patay kung patay!” are so scorchingly emotional they set ablaze the valor to “march into the valley of death”; ignominious death, that is, because the struggle of the Tiamsons and their fellow Maoists can never succeed, there having never been a time, ever, when their mindless and unreasonable methods appealed to the hearts and minds of the overwhelming majority of citizens.

So how can they proclaim themselves “patriots,” when they knowingly and openly oppose the peaceful and democratic ways of the vast number of Filipinos? By doing so, these handful of fully armed commies think they can impose their will upon  a hundred million sovereign people. And to think that CPP-NPA Supremo Benito Tiamson is a UP-bred sociologist! One wonders how such anti-people sentiments could be hailed by him and his followers as patriotism.

What Is China Doing?

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WHAT seems evident is that China is taking small but provocative steps to assert her sovereignty over what we call the West Philippine Sea by shooing away the fishermen and some of our naval vessels who were sent to resupply some of our troops. She knows that we are no match for her much more modern and fully equipped naval vessels and so when she pushed, we backed away. She is obviously testing the waters by escalating her control over the shoals and the sea.

It would seem that what we will likely see over the next several months will be more provocative actions from China but actions carefully calibrated not to produce a reaction from the US. China in all likelihood feels, and correctly, that the US for all of the rhetoric is not eager to engage China in these waters, what with the Crimean problem the US is also facing.

In this latter case, Crimea is at the border of Russia and it was easy for Russia to mobilize forces apart from the fact that it would seem there is much Crimean sympathy to reconnect with Russia. Of course, historically, Crimea was part of Russia until her recent collapse and dismemberment.

I frankly don’t believe Russia will give in at all for all the sanction threats and other actions that Obama might threaten Russia with from 10,000 miles away. But for the US to take military action seems far-fetched. Maybe many condemning speeches at the UN.  But they can’t even pass a resolution at the UN Security Council because Russia is a permanent member who will veto any such resolution.

So the carefully controlled actions of China in the South Asian seas will use minimum force, or no force at all, just threats and bluffs and sneaky moves which she has been doing anyway from quite a few years back. It will be more of simply establishing her presence because we are incapable of doing the same or resisting such efforts and our getting used to it.

Troops in small islets or shoals are ineffective if unable to move or realistically defend themselves when push comes to shove. All of these moves gain for China the dominion of the seas and the islets and shoals even if not overt total control which they have as an objective. This is the pragmatic element of China’s moves in the area. While the US appetite for confrontation is weak, China realizes that militarily they are still behind the US in rather important ways.

Furthermore, more military actions at this time can hasten the establishment of US forces here in the Far East which would make China’s objective, total South Asian hegemony a much more difficult objective. In sum, the conclusion for the moment seems to be one little step at a time while it is not yet easily quantifiable what the consequences of reckless action on China’s part might trigger. In other words, presently China has more to lose should a shooting war break out. But that will not always be the case. By 2020 or even a little earlier, the equation might be truly different. The Chinese economy will likely overtake the US by or before then, and the military equation might well be tipped more in China’s favor as the US downsizes her forces and China keeps on aggressively expanding her capabilities.

Can technology make up for a smaller military size so that the US can stay significantly ahead of China? Some Israeli senior cabinet member, obviously with the PM’s blessing said that the US is showing a weak posture to the world and many people are questioning the value of US commitments overseas.

Pres. Obama is supposed to come to our shores soon and we are shortly supposed to have some agreement about co-sharing our military bases with her. I am not sure exactly what it means. Co-sharing the bases is rather impractical to begin with and it would be very hard for our AFP to retain control of our military bases when used by two sovereign nations and one is much more competent and better equipped than the other.

Will the US flag fly under the Philippine flag or will the flags fly together? Will the situation be like in corporations, there will be two co-equal heads? It looks like a situation looking for trouble. Of course, others might argue and say what choice do we really have? We can’t play ball with China, she wants to eat us up. All the rhetoric about mutual respect and friendship is just that, rhetoric! Well, the outcome seems not too difficult to predict. The US will not risk a bloody confrontation with China.

I wish that cooler heads handled this problem with China without handing the seas to China without a whimper from the start and did not add to the heat of the day with ill considered if not bravado statements. If both sides end up boxed in a tight corner, everyone’s guess about the outcome will be just as good as any other! But I suggest this is time for some contingency planning on a rather wide level. We cannot see the problem as something only affecting the seas. We will see a few other areas regarding our domestic economy that need to truly plan ahead with wisdom and determination.

All’s Well That Ends Well

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By Dong Maraya

Recently a Filipino citizen living in Manila has laid claim—as sultan of Sulu—to the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo. Jamalul Kiram III’s claim is based on a token rent which Malaysia pays the royal house of Sulu for the use of Sabah. Calling themselves the Royal Army of Sulu, the clan members said they were descendants of the Sultanate of Sulu in the southern Philippines, which ruled parts of northern Borneo for centuries.

The February 2013 invasion by more than 200 Filipinos seemed to take both the Philippines and Malaysia by surprise. At least 60 have been killed in the ongoing conflict. The Malaysian government has been forced to take the worsening situation seriously, and launched an offensive on March 5, which included fighter jet air support.

However, the Sabah intrusion did not damage ties between Malaysia and the Philippines. Nevertheless, both sides should increase their mutual engagement in the business, economic and cultural spheres. The Philippines is maintaining close ties with Malaysia despite the siege.

“There has been no strain with our relationship in Malaysia. We recognize that this was an attempt by a few that should not affect the relationship of the whole,” a Philippine government official said in a news briefing.

Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy in Asia. It consists of thirteen states and three federal territories and has a total landmass of 329,847 square kilometers (127,350 sq mi) separated by the South China Sea into two similarly sized regions, Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo. Land borders are shared with Thailand, Indonesia, and Brunei, and maritime borders exist with Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The capital city is Kuala Lumpur, while Putrajaya is the seat of the federal government. In 2010 the population was 28.33 million, with 22.6 million living on the Peninsula.

The independent state of Malaysia came into existence on Sept. 16, 1963, as a federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sabah (North Borneo), and Sarawak. In 1965, Singapore withdrew from the federation to become a separate nation. Since 1966, the 11 states of former Malaya have been known as West Malaysia, and Sabah and Sarawak as East Malaysia.

The country is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, which plays a large role in politics. The government system is closely modeled on the Westminster parliamentary system and the legal system is based on common law. The head of state is the king, known as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. He is an elected monarch chosen from the hereditary rulers of the nine Malay states every five years. The head of government is the Prime Minister.

By the late 1960s, Malaysia was torn by rioting directed against Chinese and Indians, who controlled a disproportionate share of the country’s wealth. Beginning in 1968, it was the government’s goal to achieve greater economic balance through a national economic policy.

Since its independence, Malaysia has had one of the best economic records in Asia, with GDP growing an average 6.5% for almost 50 years. The economy has traditionally been fueled by its natural resources, but is expanding in the sectors of science, tourism, commerce and medical tourism. Today, Malaysia has a newly industrializedmarket economy, ranked third largest in Southeast Asia and 29th largest in the world.

Malaysia’s foreign policy is officially based on the principle of neutrality and maintaining peaceful relations with all countries, regardless of their political system. The government attaches a high priority to the security and stability of Southeast Asia, and seeks to further develop relations with other countries in the region.

Malaysia is a relatively open state-oriented and newly industrializedmarket economy. The state plays a significant but declining role in guiding economic activity through macroeconomic plans. In the 1970s, the predominantly mining and agricultural-based economy began a transition towards a more multi-sector economy.

International trade and manufacturing are the key sectors. Malaysia is an exporter of natural and agricultural resources, and petroleum is a major export. Malaysia has once been the largest producer of tin, rubber and palm oil in the world.

In an effort to diversify the economy and make it less dependent on export goods, the government has pushed to increase tourism to Malaysia. As a result, tourism has become Malaysia’s third largest source of foreign exchange, although it is threatened by the negative effects of the growing industrial economy, with large amounts of air and water pollution along with deforestation affecting tourism. In the 1980s, Dr. Mohamad Mahathir succeeded Datuk Hussein as prime minister. Mahathir instituted economic reforms that would transform Malaysia into one of the so-called Asian Tigers.

Beginning in 1997 and continuing through the next year, Malaysia suffered from the Asian currency crisis. Instead of following the economic prescriptions of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, the prime minister opted for fixed exchange rates and capital controls. In late 1999, Malaysia was on the road to economic recovery, and it appeared Mahathir’s measures were working.

The Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines Dr. Ibrahim Saad is from the northern state of Penang, a highly developed city also known as the Silicon City of Malaysia. Industrialized as it may be now, Penang is also a recognized UNESCO Heritage Site. Dr. Saad stressed that he has one wife with whom he has two sons and three daughters and he is currently doting on his four grandchildren. Though the family members are based in Malaysia, they make it a point to come once in a while as they love the surfing and diving in the country. In fact, he says, they just love the Philippines.

Dr. Ibrahim Saad is not a career diplomat. He started out in the academe, graduating with a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Wisconsin in America. He later on joined the government as a member of the State Assembly, became a deputy chief minister of and vice governor of Penang before he moved to a higher post in the Prime Minister’s department. Perhaps the call of the academe proved stronger then, because he left politics again and went back to the world of academe, becoming vice chancellor and president of a prestigious university in his beloved city until the government recalled him into active service and he accepted the post of Malaysian ambassador to the Philippines in 2010.

Malaysia is essentially a highly industrialized and developed country, and many tourists come to their shores to shop at high-end stores. They recently launched Luxury Malaysia in the country which extols their relatively cheap shopping because only gas, glasses, drinks, cigarettes and chocolates are taxed.

With a population of 25 million people and an economy that is steadfastly registering a double-digit growth (they have a per capita income of US$8,000) Malaysia needs a lot of manpower which the Philippines can provide. Currently, they have one million foreigners with work permits in Malaysia, and they are in the process of regularizing another one million workers.

DAR Builds P5.9-M Warehouse for Cagayan Farmers

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The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) recently launched the construction of a warehouse facility worth P5.9 million for the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) of Rizal, Cagayan.
The post-harvest facility will consist of a 60-square meter warehouse with a 2,000-cavan capacity, a 48-square meter office, and a 450-square meter solar dryer. DAR Regional Director Marjorie Ayson led the groundbreaking rites of the Malasatco Post-harvest facility project along with Rizal Mayor Joel Ruma, in the agrarian reform community (ARC) of Malaueg, in Rizal town, Cagayan. Ayson said the farmers suffer spoilage of harvested crops due to lack of proper storage facilities. “Our farmers experience losses because most farm family houses don’t have enough space in their lots to properly store their harvested crops. Another major reason is the very long distance of Malaueg ARC to the market center,” said Ayson. According to Ayson, because of the remoteness of Malaueg ARC to the town proper “very few public vehicles ply the long stretch of rocky road. Delivery vehicles for farmers’ produce are also very few and are put on a schedule basis by the farmers to accommodate their transportation needs.” Ayson added that during summer, it takes at least two days for the farmers to traverse the rough roads to bring their produce to the market. It takes them longer days during the rainy season when the roads are deep with thick mud. “By the time they get to the market center the crops are wilted and some are already spoiled. The wilted produce don’t sell as much as fresh ones,” said Ayson. Ayson thanked Mayor Ruma for his support for his farmer-constituents in donating the lot where the storage facility is being constructed. Apart from the storage facility which will be finished by May 23, 2014, the municipality of Rizal was also provided by the DAR with a communal irrigation project in Bgy. Mauanan and a potable water supply in Bgy. Illuru. Malasatco is a farmers’ cooperative where most members are agrarian reform beneficiaries.

 

DOE Approves Extended Production Tests at Malolos Field

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Gas2Grid Ltd. reported Thursday that it has just received written approval from the Philippine Department of Energy (DOE) to commence the Malolos-1 extended oil production in the Philippines.

The operations will commence as soon as the crew and equipment have been mobilized to the site with likely initial oil production commencing in April. This testing is being carried out in order to confirm the commerciality of the Malolos Oil Field. The DOE had previously extended Service Contract 44 (SC 44) for a 12 month period starting Jan. 29 in order to conduct the tests.

The extended oil production testing program aims to gather sufficient technical information to confirm commerciality of the Malolos Oil Field to justify the Department of Energy awarding a 25 year production period leading to full field appraisal and development. Proving commercial production at Malolos Oil Field will have a very significant impact on the value of the Company and will benefit the Philippine economy.

On Jan. 29 the Company reported a “Contingent Resource” of oil in the two productive sandstones for the Malolos Oil Field between a “Low Estimate” (1C) of 6.8 million barrels and a “High Estimate” (3C) of 68.1 million barrels, with a “Best Estimate” (2C) of 20.4 million barrels of “Total Oil Initially in Place”. This Contingent Resource is in addition to the Unrisked Prospective Resources released to the ASX on Jan. 29. The large size of contingent and prospective resources justifies further exploration within SC 44.

In that respect, the Company is continuing discussions with interested parties for funding the complete appraisal and development work (seismic acquisition, production well drilling and production facilities) at the Malolos Oil Field and additional exploration prospects by a farmout of part of its 100 percent interest in Service Contract 44. In view of the time frame available to the Company for SC 44, it will also consider sole funding some of the work early should farmin terms and agreements take undue time to finalize. The Company is funding the extended oil production testing from existing cash reserves which were raised last year.

DA Honors Top Rice Producers

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THE country’s top rice-producing municipalities, cities and provinces, farmers and irrigators’ associations, and agricultural workers were honored by the Department of Agriculture  in an awarding ceremony  held at the Resorts World Manila, March 14.

This year’s Rice Achievers’ Awards conferred a total of over PhP110 million in prizes from the DA National Rice Program to 12 provinces, 48 municipalities and cities, 10 irrigators’ associations, three small water impounding system farmers’ associations (SWISAs), and 496 agricultural extension workers (AEWs).

For surpassing their palay (unhusked rice) production targets, attaining higher average yield, encouraging more farmers to use quality seeds and appropriate technologies, and prioritizing rice-related projects, the provinces of Nueva Ecija, North Cotabato, Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela, Pangasinan, Ilocos Norte, Bukidnon, Bulacan, Kalinga, Mindoro Occidental, Laguna, and Lanao del Norte were declared as the country’s top rice achievers for 2013.

Each of the provinces’ governors received a trophy and check worth P4 million for rice-related projects from Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and National Rice Program coordinator and acting undersecretary for field  operations Dante Delima.

The top municipalities and cities, including the exceptional IAs each received P1-million worth of project grants. Outstanding SWISAs got P500,000 each in project grants, while the leading AEWs took home a cash incentive of P20,000 each.

Alcala said the annual contest, now on its third year, is the government’s way of thanking the country’s rice farmers and their respective provincial and municipal officials and AEWs for their continuing efforts and contribution to increase rice production.

“The Agri-Pinoy Rice Achievers’ Awards is part of DA’s interventions and incentive system to encourage LGUs, IAs, SWISAs and AEWs to contribute their share in increasing farmers’ harvest and incomes, to attain national rice sufficiency,” the DA chief said.

The top provinces, cities and municipalities were chosen based on the following criteria: incremental increases in rice harvest and average yield per hectare over 2012 levels, increases over their 2012 targets, amount of budget devoted to rice projects and initiatives, number of farmers benefited, and degree of quality seed utilization, among others.

The combined palay production of the top 12 provinces amounted to  6.65 million metric tons (MMT), which represents about 36 percent of the country’s total harvest of 18.42 MMT last year.

 

Turnover of Japan-Funded Disaster-Prevention Equipment in Cagayan de Oro

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Minister Akio Isomata, Embassy of Japan’s Minister for Economic Affairs turned over fishing nets and dredging machines to the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in a ceremony last March 14 for the Japan-funded Non-Project Grant Aid for the Restoration and Disaster Prevention in Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental. The ceremony was also attended by Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno and Congressman Rufus Rodriquez.

The assistance, signed two years ago, provided 600 million yen (approximately 315 million pesos) for the purchase of necessary products for the recovery and disaster prevention of Typhoon Sendong affected areas. Aside from the fishing nets and dredgers, housing materials will also be provided under this project to assist the victims in the restoration and rebuilding of their homes. This assistance comes on top of the 25 million yen (approximately 14 million pesos) emergency relief, composed of water tanks, tents and other relief items, and the 2 million US dollar emergency grant through international humanitarian agencies.

In his speech during the ceremony, Minister Isomata referred to the importance of proactive involvement of local communities in enhancing disaster preparedness and said, “Japan, being also a disaster-prone country, is committed to assist the Philippines in enhancing its ability for disaster risk reduction and management, and have worked together with the Philippines in this field for many years through various ODA projects. But, there is one thing we always have to bear in mind in implementing any kind of disaster-related efforts. That is, we need a heightened awareness of local communities for the prevention of natural disasters even at normal times.”

Japan, as the top donor of ODA to the Philippines as well as a disaster-prone country itself, has supported the Philippines’ disaster mitigation and management efforts by sharing its experiences and lessons learned from the past natural disasters.  Recently, the Government of Japan provided assistance for the victims of Typhoon Pablo in 2012, the Bohol Earthquake and Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. Moreover, a 50 billion yen Post-Disaster Standby Loan was signed last December 2013, when President Aquino visited Tokyo, to further assist in the restoration and recovery of disaster stricken areas.  These projects reaffirm the continued commitment of Japan to extend cooperation in minimizing threats and impacts of disasters.