MVP for 2016 VP
MANNY V. Pangilinan has repeatedly said he is not running for President in 2016. But he could be running for Vice President, instead. That is, if Vice President Jejomar Binay got his way.
Speaking to reporters, the former mayor of Makati City confirmed he is considering MVP as his running mate in the 2016 polls—and with good reason.
Considered as one of the most influential men in the country today, MVP is the perfect running mate for any presidential aspirant since he is at the helm of corporations and industries crucial to the Philippine economy: Philippine Long Distance Company, infrastructure giant Metro Pacific Investments Corp., Manila Electric Company, Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., Maynilad Water Services Inc., gold producer Philex Mining and the biggest local power player Manila Electric Company. And with vast holdings in media, health services and various other industries, MVP already wields enough power and financial resources to propel his chosen political allies into the halls of power come 2016.
But MVP is not the only person in Binay’s list of potential bets for VP. Last month he was mouthing off the name of another MP—that of Saragani Representative and boxing legend Manny Pacquiao—as running mate. Another potential mate for Binay is Ate Vi, Batangas Governor Vilma Santos Recto. But like MVP, Vilma has also repeatedly stated that she has no plans of seeking higher office in 2016.
With 2016 just around the bend, the Liberal Party is said to have already begun to raise funds for the campaign kitty of its next presidential standard bearer be it Mar Roxas or Kris Aquino. The LP, too, would benefit immensely having a man of MVP’s stature in its corner.
Let’s put ourselves in MVP’s shoes for a minute. Would it be wise to associate with any single political party in 2016? We think it’s not. And MVP knows it very well that for the sake of his business empire it is best to remain neutral and to stay out of politics.
“There is no political blood that runs through my veins,” MVP said back in October. “I believe I can serve our people better some other way,” he said.
Business and politics do not make good bedfellows. By staying neutral, MVP can play all sides of the fence and emerge a winner regardless of the outcome of the 2016 polls. All he has to do is to spread his bet—put money on the ruling party, on the opposition and the long shots, too. This way, MVP’s business empire is guaranteed to survive and thrive beyond 2016.
Agri Dep Ready For El Niño
The Department of Agriculture is ready to carry out cloud seeding operations to induce rain over areas that have not received a rainfall for at least one week as part of its proactive strategy against a feared protracted dry spell, even as the country’s weather bureau said it’s too early to tell the occurrence of El Niño phenomenon this year.
With the country now within the summer season, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said he has instructed all the Department’s regional field offices nationwide to monitor and immediately coordinate with the Bureau of Soils and Management (BSWM) any lack of rainfall for seven to ten days in areas under their respective jurisdiction so the Bureau could mobilize its cloud seeding team in a timely manner.
In fact, as early as mid-March, BSWM has completed 15 sorties equivalent to 17 flying hours across the rain-deprived municipalities of Aglipay, Maddela and Nagtipunan, as well as over Magat Watershed areas. The DA Regional Field Unit II reported said sorties helped induce rain showers and prevented damage on some 4,155 hectares of corn farms around the province, of which 3,490 hectares are in reproductive stage and 665 hectares in vegetative stage.
BSWM is an attached agency of DA tasked to undertake cloud seeding sorties to induce rain above drought-affected farming communities.
“We are taking a proactive stance against the threat of a long dry spell even as PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) is saying El Niño is not yet in sight,” said Secretary Alcala in an interview on a local television program in General Santos City on Friday.
Apart from cloud seeding operations, the Department also readies other interventions such as the provision of with shallow tube wells and drought-tolerant crop varieties to farmers in any part of the country that will be affected by dry spell episodes.
As part of long-term measures, DA has likewise increased its investments in the repair, rehabilitation and construction of new irrigation systems, as well as in the establishment of small water impounding facilities, to help guarantee agricultural water even during dry months. From 2011 to end-December 2013, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said it has generated 128,242 hectares of new areas, restored 90,851 hectares and rehabilitated 453,636 hectares. NIA aims to expand total irrigated lands to 1.9 million hectares by 2016, from current 1.67 million hectares.
PAGASA has yet to issue a formal advisory on the occurrence of El Niño except for precautionary verbal warnings, as quoted in several media reports.
Global weather authorities are likewise cautious at this point in time to declare such a phenomenon happening this year. In its latest monthly advisory released in March, the National Prediction Service of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NPS-NOAA) said there is “50% chance of El Niño developing during the summer or fall (July, August, and September).” NPS-NOAA is expected to issue its April update anytime soon. “ENSO-neutral is expected to continue through the Northern Hemisphere spring 2014, with about a 50% chance of El Niño developing during the summer or fall,” the agency said in its website.
ENSO-neutral refers to those periods when neither El Niño nor La Niña or the “cold” equivalent of El Niño is present. El Niño is a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific that occurs every four to 12 years.The worst El Niño episode the country ever experienced was in 1997-1998, when more than P8 billion worth of crops was destroyed.
Dynamite Fishing, Killing of Whales in Siargao
Recent reports indicated that dynamite fishing is occurring in the waters of Siargao in Surigao del Norte. Senator Loren Legarda today called the attention of government agencies mandated to enforce the country’s Fisheries Code as she expressed alarm over the bannedfishing practice, which recently caused the killing of at least 22 dwarf sperm whales and dolphins.
“This is another unfortunate case of marine resource abuse. Dynamite fishing has long been banned and is punishable under the Fisheries Code along with illegal fishing methods. Authorities must strictly enforce the law because this is not only about a fisher’s catch or a community’s livelihood, but also about the state of marine biodiversity, which affects the nation as a whole,” said Legarda.
“Our law enforcement agencies should go after the perpetrators of this crime against nature and ensure that our seas and marine species are safe from such cruelty. We should be more vigilant because this could be happening in other parts of the country as well,” she added.
It has been reported that two dwarf sperm whales and at least 21 dolphins were badly injured from dynamite fishing and sustained stab wounds from fishermen in Siargao.
“Siargao is world-famous for being a surfer’s haven. It does not have to stop there. It would be more beneficial to the communities surrounding the area if they become a model for marine conservation through sustainable fishing methods and other marine protection practices. Fishing is not only a form of livelihood but also a way by which a fisherman can carry out his responsibility as a steward of our marine resources,” Legarda stressed.
Under the Fisheries Code of 1998, a ban is imposed on the use of fine mesh net and electricity, explosives, noxious or poisonous substance in our seas. It is also illegal to exploit and export corals as well as the fishing and taking of any rare, threatened and endangered species.
Mandated to enforce this Code are the law enforcement officers of the Department of Agriculture, Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police and including local government units.
All’s Well That Ends Well
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.
Australia and the Philippines: Bilateral Relations Through ‘Ranrat’
By Dong Maraya
Australia and the Philippines have a long history of bilateral cooperation. Diplomatic relations were established when Australia opened a Consulate-General in Manila on 22 May 1946. An Australian Ambassador to the Philippines was appointed in 1957. The Philippines opened an Embassy in Canberra in 1962. Today the Australian Ambassador to the Philippines is Bill“Ranrat” Tweddell.
Mr. Bill Tweddell is Australia’s top diplomat in the Philippines. In a formal address, the titles that precede his name are EXCELLENCY, Mr. Ambassador, Consul General, and Deputy High Commissioner. But he also carries a unique tag very close to his heart: Ranrat. That’s how his two-year-old granddaughter Eva calls him. “She can’t say Granddad so she calls me Ranrat,” Bill said. Eva is Bill’s first grandchild and, practically, the first little girl that entered his life.
Bill and his wife Chris have two adult sons, Andrew and Paul, and another grandson on the way.
“But now I have a granddaughter, so finally I’ve got the little girl that I didn’t have,” Bill said.
Eva lives in Sydney. “Eva loves the water,” Bill said, acknowledging that he is never happier than when near the sea. A quintessential Australian, Bill is quite outdoorsy. He and his best friend Garth had a shared passion for rugby. But he hadn’t been the stereotype of a high-school tough jock, even in youth.
The domestic environment he grew up in while living in rural Queensland was one of mutual respect, and a very nurturing one at that. It was also filled with very strong women and unconditional family support. His mother, a kindergarten teacher by training who ended up training handicapped children and adults, was “not so quiet.” His older sister, a scientist, was also not quiet. His younger sister, an education specialist, was as opinionated. With that upbringing, it isn’t surprising that Bill ended up marrying a lady of the same mettle.
Bill and Chris met at James Cook University, from which he earned his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Economics degrees. Bill and Chris married when he was 22 and she was turning 21. What is vivid in Bill’s memory is that a cyclone was brewing as he followed Chris’s family as they were vacationing along the Sunshine Coast. Defying the wind and rain, Bill traveled partly by car and partly by train just to get to Chris.
Bill’s would-be father-in-law gave his blessings but admitted that he hoped Chris would get to travel first before settling down. Chris is a CPA who gets work when she can, even when accompanying Bill to postings in Vietnam, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Greece and Bangladesh. During Bill’s posting as Deputy High Commissioner in India, she even had a chance to connect with Everest conquerors Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary on different occasions.
Australia and the Philippines cooperate closely in a broad range of areas, including defense, counter-terrorism, law enforcement and development. Australia has the following regular bilateral meetings with the Philippines: a Foreign and Trade Ministers’ meeting (the Philippines-Australia Ministerial Meeting, or ‘PAMM’) and associated PAMM business dialogue and senior officials’ meeting; counter-terrorism consultations; annual joint defense cooperation consultations; a joint working group on mining; an agriculture forum; a climate change dialogue; and a strategic dialogue.
The two countries share common perspectives on many regional, economic and security issues. Australia and the Philippines share a common interest in cooperating in regional affairs through forums such as the East Asia Summit (EAS), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum. Both Australia and the Philippines are active members of the Cairns Group, a coalition of 19 agricultural exporting countries. The two countries have also signaled their common interest in combating transnational challenges such as climate change.
The Philippines is the third most vulnerable country to natural disasters and the sixth most vulnerable to climate change. When earthquakes, volcanoes and severe typhoons occur, the poor are worst affected. Australia is one of the first countries to respond when typhoons affect millions of Filipino people. The Australian government is also partnering with the Philippine government in long term programs to ensure communities are better prepared for natural disasters.The countryhelps in strengthening climate change adaptation and disaster risk management in the Philippines. Through the support of their government as well, state-of-the-art multi-hazard and vulnerability maps in 14 provinces will be generated.
Australia is a wealthy country with a market economy, a relatively high GDP per capita, and a relatively low rate of poverty. In terms of average wealth, this country ranked second in the world after Switzerland in 2013. Australia has among the highest house prices and some of the highest household-debt levels in the world.
The Australian government provides aid where it knows it can make a difference. By targeting and aligning aid programs with the development goals of the Philippine Government and focusing on poverty reduction, Australian aid is making a difference in the lives of Filipinos living in poverty.
The country popularly known as ‘Down Under’ is one of the largest grant aid donors to the Philippines. The current Australia-Philippines Country Strategy (2012-2017) aligns with the key reform agenda to tackle poor governance and reduce poverty. Australia’s development assistance in the Philippines is focused on education, local government service delivery, disaster risk management and climate change adaptation, peace building and good governance.
Australia and the Philippines have growing people-to-people links through trade, investment, cultural exchange, tourism and migration. Significant numbers of Filipinos immigrated to Australia between the 1960s and the 1990s, and Filipinos remain one of the fastest growing immigrant communities in Australia. At the 2006 Census, 160,000 Australians claimed Filipino ancestry, up from 129,000 in 2001.
The Australia-Philippines Development Cooperation Program Statement ofCommitment reflects the intention of the Governments to work together to address some of the key issues that keep people poor and make others vulnerable to falling into poverty. The goal of the Australia – Philippines development cooperation program is to assist the poor and vulnerable to take advantage of the opportunities that can arise from a more prosperous, stable and resilient Philippines.
Australia is providing up to $30 million to support the Philippine Government’s Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) reform agenda by investing in infrastructure development, including in- classroom construction, health services and transport. Investment in these areas is critical to fostering sustainable growth in the Philippines. Australia is supporting more than 10 national and local governments by providing government employees with a variety of short term training, together with Australia Awards Scholarships for study in Australia. By 2015, at least 600 Filipinos will have undergone postgraduate study in Australia.
Smuggling as a Supply Game
By VL Domingo
BEFORE transplanting, the farmer must have to buy at least 10 bags of mix-grade fertilizers for basal application to have a good crop. Because he has very little capital which he also borrowed from the usurer he buys only 1/3 of the plant requirement.
Furthermore, the price of fertilizer as an input initially went up by 136% (and it continues to increase), since only a few Chinese traders are importing it, thus again limiting the supply of fertilizers which provides the plant energy for productivity.
This is specially so when planting during the dry season. During the rainy season, somehow the farmers get free nitrogen from the air every time there is a thunderstorm that initiates nitrification. Meanwhile, his soil has gotten acidic after more than 50 years of chemical farming which was first introduced in the l960’s by ESSO (Standard Oil).
Not a few government employees lost their lives and jobs in the fertilizer subsidy scam for lack of supply.
A Regional Director in Lasam and a DA employee who knew too much about the scam were murdered. The DA employee with his wife, and his only daughter who just graduated from college and a niece working with him as his assistant in their house in Bulacan were murdered in the middle of the night, wiping out the whole family.
When palay is harvested haphazardly, you again lose 15-20% of what you should harvest from your backbreaking efforts in farming. This is after the farmers spend a lot of money on chemicals to protect their fields from pests and diseases.
Again they need to contract at least 20 harvesters. The practice then is they get 10% of your harvest. This is after shaking off easily 5% of the rice particles to the ground and stepping on them. They could save this if they could only hire harvesting machines. But there is none.
Worse, even the harvesters like the transplanters are gone.
In the barangays, there are two kinds of farm workers. There are those who want to harvest only while the others want to transplant only.
The practice of harvest sharing is gone; hence you could no longer be assured of harvesters on time. You have to wait for harvesters from the other barangay that may still have some harvesters. Meanwhile, the field rats are slowly harvesting your palay if you did not put a rat trap before harvest. There is then a need to rent a combined harvester.
But for the moment only a few towns have it because it is very expensive. It is too costly for an investor. Only a federation or a cooperative could afford to buy it and rent it out to its members if they could raise the funds which is usually not available from banks and the government is not also investing on it.
Availability of Warehouses
Again the supply chain of the grains industry is broken by the lack of investments in warehouses. Only traders are investing and making windfall profits at the expense of the farmer-producers. This is where the trader starts making his profits. This is where the cartels come in.
Only a few own rice warehouses in Metro Manila and they connive to dictate the price in the market.
Recently, they even hired persons and provided them money to queue for rice just to dramatize that there is no rice supply anymore from the NFA warehouses. The NFA then had to release their buffer stocks which some unscrupulous NFA employees usually keep and allow it to rot and sell to traders for a clean profit and recorded as losses in the books of the agency.
Farmer cooperatives have been given funds to build their own warehouses, but their trading funds were mismanaged leaving them bankrupt. So in effect there is no supply of warehouse space even as they stood in the middle of the fields like “white elephants” in the middle of brown and barren rice land for lack of irrigation.
This happens because of subsistence farming as the norm that now needs to be transformed into commercial farming with highly professionalized farmers federation to do the business of planting and trading palay and rice to supply the needs of the country and be truly self sufficient (not by statistical manipulations) .
Supply of Post-Harvest Facilities
Easily, 5-10% is lost in rice milling using dilapidated rice mills that are very inefficient. Part of the rice supply to the consumers is being given to feed mills for livestock instead of human consumption.
Drying in the highways shows the Jurassic way of drying palay which leads again to additional losses that could easily compensate for the 10% shortage that is reported every year.
Drying and Milling are not integrated because of the absence of investors. The government could easily invest on this through farmer federations but is not being done. If the government shifts its policy to invest instead of subsidizing, it will be easier for them to monitor the funds instead of using government money in anomalous subsidies and programs.
The millions of funds allocated by DA Regional offices for training monitoring, evaluation and support services can be realigned with the Government Social Investment Funds (GSIF) to finance the construction of post-harvest facilities, provide trading funds for the importation of inputs and buying palay from their members with incentives and selling to the government those that they could not sell for Quedan, stockpiling and buffer stocking.
GSIF is what is needed in completing the infrastructure in commercial rice production instead of just the farm to market road which others call as “road to my farm” among Congressmen and Senators.
Politics of Rice
The absence of rice supply in the market will topple down a President or he will lose his bid for re-election. This is the politics of rice. Thus a sitting President (with or without him knowing it actually puts a tacit approval to his/her henchmen to DALPO (Do All Possible) and allow even smugglers to bring in rice just to make sure that there is no shortage. Most often also this will be tolerated by his henchmen to keep them in power and in their high positions in government.
Thus, the previous President tolerated this sad reality through her Secretaries of Agriculture. The standing order then was to produce or tolerate smuggled rice (to insure supply in the hands of the retailers). Along the way, sometimes things go wrong in this “modus operandi”.
One popular businessman lost his life when he told the President about a smuggled rice and the President without knowing the implication since it is a complex reality in food security, had the goods confiscated. The businessman was then shot (as a double crosser) in his house probably even in front of his wife by telling on the smugglers.
The “Hunger Game” which starts with government lies that there is sufficient supply, has now graduated into a “Supply Game” which the government has failed to address by subsidizing creating anomalous transactions has now graduated into a “Killing Game”.
Like history, these anomalies in the P300 billion grains industry will keep on repeating itself from administration to administration until Kingdom Come unless there is a paradigm shift in dealing with this killing issue.
The first is to listen to what the farmers say (through their credible leaders) as a solution to this recurring problem of rice supply which starts from lack of palay supply, lack of seeds, lack of water, lack of inputs, lack of farm credit, which continues because of inefficient transplanting, harvesting, milling and warehousing thus making their unit costs higher than the world price which now results to unbridled smuggling of rice in all ports of the country.
The second is for the government to invest (not subsidize) in the commercial ventures of farmer federations and similar associations to now operate their own agribusiness.
The third is to allow the price of palay and rice to seek its own levels. When the farmers earn more because of free enterprise (not with government control) but with government investments, the farmers will produce more and better quality palay because they will now have regular incomes from the commercial venture in which they participated. They can then buy more manufacture goods and invigorate the manufacturing industry to be able to pay higher wages and can now afford to buy a more expensive rice directly sold to them by the farmers through cluster farming.
This will then enable the farmers to produce rice at lower unit cost, provide the supply needed by the traders and generate the local and national economy. With more incomes from palay farming then they don’t have to sell their seeds, keep some stocks for their use and will not become a consumer of rice themselves as claimed by many technocrats who are not even “walking the fields” just to justify their claim of certifying importation.
Legarda Calls for Enforcement of LGUs’ Land Use Plans
Senator Loren Legarda called on concerned government agencies to ensure that the comprehensive land use plans (CLUPs) of local government units (LGUs) are being enforced.
Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, issued the statement during the committee hearing for the proposed National Land Use Act (NaLUA) and the Final Forest Limits Act.
She said, it is not enough that 1,500 LGUs have their respective CLUPs. “We have to make sure that these approved CLUPs are carried out effectively, which means that hazard-prone areas, forestlands, and protected areas remain uninhabited and are preserved as no building zones.”
The Senator added that national government agencies, particularly the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), must ensure that CLUPs are faithfully implemented.
Legarda also highlighted the need to approve the proposed National Land Use Act because the government is currently using an antiquated land classification method formed in the 1920s.
“We have been experiencing stronger storms, earthquakes and other natural hazards. A national land use measure is crucial in the government’s current disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation efforts,” she stressed.
“Furthermore, LGUs play a critical role in the crafting of risk-sensitive and participatory land use planning and management. LGUs are considered to be the first line of defense against disasters so there is an urgent need for them to be capacitated, enabling them to prepare, update and implement their respective CLUPs based on policy guidelines to be set under the proposed NaLUA,” she added.
Meanwhile, Legarda also said that through the Final Forest Limits Act, “we aim to conserve, protect, and develop our forest resources to attain ecological balance and promote sustainable development.”
“With demarcated and properly identified forestlands, the national government can better plan the utilization of the natural resources of the country, and LGUs would be better equipped to initiate and implement development projects and programs with due regard to the preservation and protection of the integrity of the demarcated forest lands,” Legarda concluded.***
Fred Ruiz Castro
By Ronald Roy
I am a lawyer, 78 years old, born to Jose J. Roy (+) and Consolacion Ruiz Domingo-Roy (+), and honored by this opportunity to recall and share anecdotes about a great legalist, the late Honorable Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, Fred Ruiz Castro.Uncle Fred was a rather distant relative because his mother, Esperanza Ruiz-Castro, had a sister named Julia Ruiz-Domingo, who was my mother’s mother. I was thus related to him within – in the language of the Civil Code – the fifth civil degree by consanguinity.
However, the “distance” notwithstanding, there were those extraordinary traits of the Castros that easily endeared them to the Roys and, in general, to others in any public setting. They were good-looking, intelligent, charming, witty, articulate, and oh so amiably engaging with beautiful voices. I remember my aunties Anching and Luida, and uncles Fred, Jones, Belong, Angelo and Biens, and I do so with much admiration. Could anyone of them stand out at any social gathering? And how!
One evening, when I was a law school freshman invited to a Castro birthday celebration, I found myself in a huddle with two uncles and three ladies whom they were regaling in a discussion about Law. Uncle Angelo, a non-lawyer, was now poised to deliver a coup de grâce to Law.Unaware that his manong, the Hon. Court of Appeals Justice, Fred Ruiz Castro, had stealthily walked up to the group and was now standing directly behind him, Uncle Angelo continued, “…so, Law is no big deal! Unlike the more exact fields like Mathematics, Medicine and Accounting, Law is common sense, right and wrong lang yan, don’t kill, don’t steal and all those prohibitions we all know about. As a matter of… of…” and his voice trailed off as he felt a hand gently pressing down on his shoulder. Then came the familiar deep baritone from behind, and Uncle Angelo’s face suddenly turned ashen.
“Mr. Castro, you have just been caught en flagrante committing an unconscionable culpa aquilliana in the presence of a robed member of a superior court. An apology you must now make, lest you be declared to be in contempt of court.” Whereupon, Uncle Angelo turned around and replied, “I respectfully assert my right to counsel, your Honor.” (Laughter) Of course, they were both in the usual bantering mood.
Spotting me, Uncle Fred then said he was pleased to learn that his “Manong Pepe” (my father) had convinced me to take up Law. “I just agreed to please him, Uncle. My heart still embraces Architecture and Civil Engineering”, I replied. It didn’t take long for him to say these meaningful words: “You wont regret it, hijo. The Law defines you and the people you must interact with, your rights and duties, society and its institutions. It defines your country and the democracy in which it thrives, and your willingness to nurse it, and defend it, even with your own life. And it opens countless doors for self-fulfillment.”
Those words are the reason why I have not regretted becoming a lawyer. They are also the reason, I think, I am an activist pro bono columnist of the without-fear-or-favor variety.
After that evening, years passed with virtually no interaction transpiring between us. Then, some time in 1977-’78, I bumped into Supreme Court Chief Justice Fred Ruiz Castro at the lobby of the Manila Hotel, after he had addressed an association of judges and practitioners as their Guest Speaker.
His military bearing adding to the stateliness of his magistracy, he did me proud as people watched him move towards me. “Good afternoon, Mr. Chief Justice. That was an excellent speech”, I said as we shook hands. His gaze was more penetrating now, those eyes seemingly sparkling with the wisdom of the ages as he smiled at me, his left hand rested on my shoulder.”Don’t be stiff with me, Ronnie. As the Managing Partner of Jose J. Roy and Associates Law Offices, you must be doing quite well. Congratulations for a well-written Appellee’s Brief in that complicated fraud-stained negotiable instruments case involving a multinational company. Your citation of foreign jurisprudence substantially contributed to the logic of your theory of the case. I like your language, the language of jurists. Carry on, Mr. Counselor.”
With that characteristic congenial smile, he winked then hurried off for an appointment with his barber. That was the last time I saw Uncle Fred, wit, humorist, legal icon, chief justice, patriot.
It’s an Information War!
Before a “hot war” is not a “cold war”, it’s the “information war” or “media war” waged between MSM (Mainstream Media) and Alternative Media. For example, media becomes a key factor in the success or failure of “regime change” efforts of the incorrigible subversive foreign powers pushing their hegemonic drive, using “Orange Revolution”, “People Power”, “right to Protect” media campaigns for “regime change” inflicted on Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Georgia, and many others. In the Philippines, the information war and its consequences shape the direction of the lives of one hundred million Filipinos – for better or (and usually) for worst. At least once a month this column will try to sum up the key information battles transpiring or shaping up. Let’s start with the local media war.
Sergio Osmena and his Poe-ppet
At the end of last week Sen. Sergio Osmeña III surprised the public by publicly describing BS Aquino, his ward in the 2010 presidential elections, as “Noynoying”, a “poor manager” and “matigas ang ulo”. It is well known that he is today carving out another protégé in the form of the “Poe-ppet”. This comes after the “Brenda” of the Senate declares from-out-of the blue that 2016 needs another woman president, a position which she thinks she is too old to hold (how humble, suddenly). There are a dozen reasons why it should be known by all now that a “poe-ppet” is being groomed to take over the current one tattered by the Meralco price hike, MRT Balsy-Eldon scam, etc. Just like how BS Aquino was groomed to replace the wayward doll Gloria Arroyo earlier.
The pathologically exploitative Filipino Ruling Class and its foreign partners desperately need a new Muppet Show star to delay the revolt of the restive audience going hungrier by the year. The Poe-ppet is perfect and its handlers are trying to imbue it with the attributes of having FPJ’s name but without FPJ’s real heart for the anti-globalization, traditional values such as loyalty and gratitude, genuine humility and compassion for people. The Poe-ppet is a cold, wooden figure; warmth it cannot exude. It must be remembered, the Poe-ppet was proclaimed by PCOS-melec on the basis of 20-million votes in a “final tally” of June 6, 2013 but in the PCOS-melec “final final” posting on July 11 this became 16-million votes for the “Ta-lo Poe” candidate.
Delfin Lee’s captor sacked!
Nothing captures that picture of pervasive and unchecked corruption the Yellows have set up in the country than the case of Delfin Lee and his P 7-Billion swindle of the People’s housing funds. This involves BS Aquino’s, and Gloria Arroyo of course because this also involved former Cong. Romero Quimbo and former VP and HUDCC chair Noli de Castro, administrations. Delfin Lee, the housing development scammer who eluded authorities for years was arrested last week by Senior Supt. Conrad Capa, but less than a week later Capa was relieved by way of a “promotion” he himself argues to be a demotion; before this BS Aquino sidekick Mar Roxas tried to turn the tables on VP Binay, who is also housing Czar, for reporting that “influential people” tried to have Lee released.
It turned out that Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali, treasurer of the ruling Liberal Party, called up BS Aquino’s police chief Purisima to “inquire” about Lee’s arrest. A controversy also erupted over an earlier erasure of Lee’s name from the PNP list of wanted criminals. There is no reason for a governor of a province far from the housing project of Lee, many of which are in Central Luzon, to be interested in billionaire Lee except for political funding. Clearly, Lee enjoys enormous power and protection from the Liberal Party of BS Aquino and Mar Roxas and their ilk. The media twist in all these is that attempt to turn the issue against Binay, and now expect a massive shift of MSM (Mainstream Media) to another issue to be created.
Cha-cha dancing Zombies
Who’s playing the Cha-cha tunes to which many are dancing to like Zombies? One of those playing the tune is the CorrectPhilippines which is one of the major groups leading from the hidden-behind of the March 15 rally at the Quirino Grandstand, along with groups like PSST (Patalsikin, Sipain, Salot sa Taumbayan), Fix the System Movement, et al whose human faces are not yet seen. But CorrectPhilippines is clear in its advocacy – Opening of the Economy for rape; it highlights Inquirer columns of Peter Wallace, the chief enforcer of the AmCham, ECCP (European) and others for further liberalization and privatization – and chief defender of Meralco’s December-January rate hike! These groups, like the Million Man March PR stunt, are really pervasive in the social media.
Cha-cha is a U.S. sponsored economic-geopolitical project which BS Aquino is obliged to obey. Aquino is playing coy against the bad cap Speaker Belmonte imposing the Cha-cha on Congress. When the right psychological moment comes the good cop will tilt in favor of the Cha-cha. To achieve this the MSM is burying the economic facts that nail the coffin on economic liberalization: the trillions of pesos of domestic capital available in BSP’s Special Deposit Account, the surplus in Foreign Exchange Reserves, the overflowing capital of banks just allowed to pump it into the real estate bubble. The answer to the economic crises, including unemployment, is restoring the cash flow to the people through nationalization of privatized giant public utilities like Meralco.
GDP: The hypnotic mantra
“PH to top SEAsia GDP 2014 growth at 7.5%” the February MSM headlines but in the same month the next headline followed, “Jobless rate climbs to 27.5 pct in Q4” or almost 13-million Filipinos jobless based on the employment survey of the SWS and in May this year the conservative BS Aquino government statistics admitted that “Philippine unemployment rate rises to 7.5 pct in Jan.”, based on the estimates by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). The PSA figures also showed that underemployment remained high at 19.5 percent, working less than 40 hours a week, and higher than the 36.13 million recorded a year ago. The underemployment rate is double that of the unemployment rate.
Despite the unemployment figures and rising poverty the MSM continues brandishing the GDP growth figures as the magic words to mesmerize and entrance with the message that “everything is going fine”, and then push the Cha-cha for more of the same finance-capital monopolist “foreign investment” control of the economy that will primarily consists of real estate capture of Philippines land assets using U.S. dollars that will soon be worthless given its crashing status in the global financial system. The same worthless U.S. Dollars will take over Filipino companies making Filipino entrepreneurs mere peons in their own companies. The only measure of real economic growth is the HDI, Human Development Index, and that must be the standard.
More information war summaries next week, on Ukraine, Venezuela, and Philippines burning issues. (Tune to 1098AM, DWAD, Tues. To Fri. “Sulo ng Pilipino” program; watch GNN Sat. 8pm and Sun. 8am “Manila: Sunrise in the City”, Destiny Cable ch. 8 or SkyCable ch. 213, or www.gnntv-asia.com; log on to www.newkatipunero.blogspot.com)
The Travails of MSMEs (part 1)
by Miriam Tan-Fabian
MSME’s relevant contributions to the economy
MSMEs or micro, small, and medium enterprises often have it hard even if these enterprises are considered the “backbone and the lifeblood of the economy” within ASEAN countries. These enterprises, depending on which ASEAN country you are looking at are firms are generally categorized either by number of employees, asset size, or revenue. In Cambodia, micro enterprises are defined as having less than 11 employees and less than 50,000 riel (Cambodia’s currency) in revenue. In the Philippines, micro enterprises have less than 20 employees and have assets of less than Php 3M versus Indonesia’s 500M and lower and revenues of 300M or lower in rupiah, Indonesia’s local currency.
These MSMEs account for a significant bulk of the GDP. For Indonesia, for example, the contribution of MSMEs lie anywhere from 56.53% to 60% of the country’s total GDP. Gross Domestic Product or GDP is the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a given time period, and is used as a common metric to measure the health of a country’s economy. Generally, the higher the country’s GDP, the better the economy and the lower the GDP, the weaker the economy.
Aside from a significant share of a country’s GDP, MSMEs also account for majority of the total number of establishments in a country. In Myanmar, a developing country, MSMEs account for 90 percent of the industrial sector and 99 percent of the manufacturing sector. Similarly, in Japan, a developed country and economic powerhouse, 99.4% of manufacturing firms are small and medium-sized firms, which employ three quarters (75.1%) of the manufacturing industry’s employees. Comparably, in the Philippines, the MSME sector accounted for 99.6% of total establishments and contributed 61.2% of the country’s total employment.
Thus, MSMEs contributes significantly to the country’s well-being, and anything to do with MSMEs will be significant.
It isn’t easy being an MSME
Imagine that you wanted to formally put up a small eatery, one example of an MSME. From the get go, you will already be facing many challenges, issues, and concerns just to jumpstart the eatery. There is the paperwork, certifications, and permits; a steady stream of predictable funds, the staff, and the location, among others. It should therefore come to no surprise why, despite the big numbers of MSMEs in all of the ASEAN countries, they die out naturally within the first year they are established, succumbing to these difficulties.
Moreover, despite all the contributions that MSMEs provide the local economy and the presence of government agencies and policies for MSMEs, across the ASEAN, MSMEs continue to be vulnerable to a list of challenges, issues, and concerns that read like a bad case of symptoms of someone really sick, many of these symptoms are repeatedly mentioned across the countries of the ASEAN region.
Several obstacles to hurdle
One of the major concerns is the financial support. More often than not, if you want to put up your own business, you will need to raise the initial capital on your own. Most big banks won’t touch you with a ten-foot pole because of a whole slew of reasons. The banks know little about funding MSMEs, MSMEs are considered too risky to provide loans for especially if the bank requires credit information, and the bank’s products are mismatched with the needs and conditions of MSMEs.
On the other hand, on your part, you might not also like dealing with banks because they require some collateral or a good track record, and unfortunately, you have neither of both. I find the track record condition unreasonable. If it is your first time to put up a business, you would naturally have no track record, so this condition alone is discouraging for anyone who’d consider loaning from a bank. Worse, commercial banks charge high interest rates of 10 to 18% per year for top banks. This means that for every Php 100,000 pesos you loan, that’s already Php 10,000 to Php 18,000 for the bank for every year until you finish off paying the bank.
Discrimination and preference by size or sector
There is also some discrimination on the part of banks, they prefer larger enterprises who are given more favorable interest rates, and certain sectors like agriculture (farming) and hospitality enjoy the highest loans. Consequently, if you are a micro or small enterprise that is neither into the agriculture or hospitality sector, while your size already makes you vulnerable compared to larger enterprises, your lower access to funds exacerbates your financial concerns.
Poor capability, skills, and lack of trainings
Another issue was the capabilities of micro and small enterprises. Many micro and small enterprises do not have sufficient know how, technical, and management skills. Thus, MSMEs are hard pressed to produce good business or marketing plans for financing. Most of these enterprises also have poor and sub-standard accounting systems because of self-operated accounting practices, the lack of historical accounting records, and weak financial reporting. While most skills remain poor, the lack of trainings and professional development opportunities further weakens the capabilities of MSMEs, thus lowering competitiveness and productivity.
With limited management and financial capabilities, many MSMEs are unable to quickly respond to both the local and foreign markets. MSMEs have a low ability to meet the threats of local and global competition because of their ignorance of information on market access and business environment; failure to attain scale economies needed to produce quality goods and services; and the sector’s laid-back approach to seeking new markets and responding to market needs.
Poor infrastructure and logistics
Yet another issue which MSMEs have little control over is poor infrastructure. This was one key issue identified by potential investors as a turn off when investing in the Philippines. They specifically identified the dilapidated roads and the horrible traffic in the CALABARZON area where some of the country’s economic zones are located.
Added to these woes is the poor logistics such as the lack of charter flights needed for cargo shipments, lack of direct shipping and air routes or linkages to export processing zones, inadequate cargo hub operations, and the high cost of freight and cargo handling services. These signs of inadequate or poor logistics lead to increased production costs.
The Philippines though is not alone in this issue. Laos, a land-locked country of a mere 6M people have to contend with the country’s largely mountainous terrain, a poor network of market access roads, together with cross-border trade impediments with neighboring countries, has meant high transport costs and fragmented markets. The generally poor condition of the road network results in high rates of damage to both trucks and cargo. (to be continued)
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- MSME gets major policy benefits extended for 3 years even if they graduate to new category (industrialloops.wordpress.com)
- MSME dept to develop websites of MSEs (industrialloops.wordpress.com)
- $2Tr Financing Pap Faces SMEs In Developing Economies. (spyghana.com)
- Syndicate Bank unveils 5 products for MSMEs (news.in.msn.com)
- The smaller companies are a custom brought close (hermesbag009.wordpress.com)
- Syndicate Bank unveils 5 products for MSMEs (vancouverdesi.com)
- MSME-and high bank interest (btinno.wordpress.com)
- Business Taskforce: “Cut EU red tape” (blasermills.co.uk)
- ”One-fourth of MSMEs do not have access to banks for credit” (news.in.msn.com)
- SMEs in developing economies face $2 trillion financing gap – IFC (ghanabusinessnews.com)