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BUSINESS HEADLINES THIS PAST WEEK...
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

SWS: MORE FILIPINOS WENT HUNGRY IN Q3


NOVEMBER 2 -In this 2007 photo, children play on the street in Cebu City, Philippines. Burger Mac/CC  More Filipinos became hungry in the third quarter of the year, with 15.7 percent of households or about 3 million Filipinos saying they experienced hunger at least once, according to the Social Weather Stations (SWS). In the survey released Monday, the polling agency said hunger incidence went up in the last three months compared to 12.7 percent in the second quarter of the year, while 13.5 percent was recorded in the first quarter. While slightly fewer families, at 1.6 percent, said they experienced "severe hunger," the degree of "moderate hunger" in households leapt from 10.8 percent in the second quarter to 15.7 percent in the third quarter. Mindanao had the most cases of reported hunger at 21.7 percent, followed by 18.3 percent of those in Metro Manila. About 14.7 percent of the population in Balance Luzon also experienced hunger, while hunger incidence was only 9.3 percent in the Visayas. First published on BusinessWorld on Sunday, the SWS conducted the survey from September 2 to 5 using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide as a nationally represented sampling. Respondents were asked if their family "experienced hunger and did not have anything to eat" in the last three months. The year-round self-rated hunger, however, continued to decrease. In 2014, a total of 18.3 percent of households experienced hunger while 19.3 percent reported the same in 2013.THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: Imports still outpace exports Agri trade deficit widens in H1


NOVEMBER 8 -Imports still outpace exports Agri trade deficit widens in H1
Agriculture trade deficit widened 113.02 percent in the first half of the year as imports continued to outpace exports, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported.
The trade deficit in the farm sector rose to $2.3 billion from January to June from $1.08 billion in the same period last year. Total export earnings generated from Philippine agricultural exports fell 22.62 percent year-on-year to $2.6 billion. The sector comprised nine percent of the country’s total export earnings of $28.89 billion during the period. The total value of the country’s agricultural imports, meanwhile, rose 10.36 percent year-on-year to $4.9 billion. Agricultural imports made up 15.11 percent of the country’s total import expenditure of $32.43 billion. The country’s earnings from its top 10 agricultural exports fell 25.17 percent year-on-year to $1.73 billion. With the exception of coconut oil, pineapple and natural rubber, exports of other products – tuna, fresh banana, seaweed and carrageenan, processed tobacco, desiccated coconut, unprocessed tobacco, and copra oil cake – saw a drop in earnings. Expenditure for the country’s top 10 agricultural imports, on the other hand, rose 9.44 percent to $2.47 billion. These products are wheat, soybean oil/cake meal, milk and cream products, fertilizer, rice, bovine meat, palm kernel olein, sugar preparation, urea, and coffee. The Board of Investments (BOI) announced last week it was completing the industry roadmaps for carrageenan, processed shrimp, dried mangoes and cacao tablea that would strengthen the competitiveness of these products in the export market. READ MORE...

ALSO ABAD EXPLAINS BUDGET ANEW: P150 B allotted for rehab of calamity areas – DBM


NOVEMBER 6 -An aerial view shows a coastal community hit by Typhoon Yolanda and the resulting storm surge in Eastern Samar in November 2013. File photo/AP
- Amid reports of millions of pesos in unused calamity funds, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said a total of P150 billion has been allotted for the reconstruction of disaster-ravaged areas until 2017. Of the amount, the DBM said P93.87 billion has been disbursed as of Oct. 23, and P10 billion has been set for release before the end of the month. The remaining P46 billion would be released once the 2016 budget is approved by year-end, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad told reporters in a briefing yesterday on the status of the rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas ravaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda.
“We have requested the agencies to fully disaggregate their budget and to begin their procurement now so that from Day One, as soon as the budget is approved, they can easily issue the notice of award,” the budget chief said. “The P46 billion will be automatically released to the agencies once the budget is approved without the need to go to the DBM for statement of allotment orders,” he added. The Commission on Audit (COA) has found a total of P384 million in calamity donations to Office of Civil Defense (OCD) unused, the biggest chunk of which – amounting to P137 million – represented donations for the victims of Yolanda in 2013. Learning from experience after Yolanda, the government is studying how to fast-track the procurement process to ensure calamity funds are disbursed swiftly, officials said yesterday. READ MORE...

ALSO: INVESTORS REASSESS PH AFTER AQUINO


NOVEMBER 4 -The Philippines’ election is still six months away, but already investors are seeking reassurance that whoever replaces outgoing President Aquino will honor his clean and competent style of government.
Aquino must step down next year, after reaching the end of the single six-year term permitted by the constitution, and 130 candidates have nominated to replace him, including one who claims to be an extraterrestrial ambassador. Aquino sees Manuel Roxas, until recently his secretary of interior, as the candidate most likely to sustain his legacy. Roxas is currently third in opinion polls. Second is current vice-president, Jejomar Binay, who is from a different political party to Aquino and faces corruption charges. First is Grace Poe, a senator known mostly for being the adopted daughter of a famous actor. She may face disqualification over citizenship and residency issues. Aquino’s two predecessors were both convicted of corruption, and there is concern about who could follow. “The problem is you don’t have any more Aquinos waiting on the sidelines,” said Kenneth Akintewe, a fund manager at Aberdeen Asset Management in Singapore, overseeing $4.5 billion in assets. “There is a big question mark over how sustainable the reform momentum is going to be.” Aquino’s mostly steady, scandal-free administration has driven 6.3 percent average growth of the $285 billion economy, the fastest of Southeast Asia’s five main economies, and the World Bank expects it to remain the region’s pacesetter in 2016-17. In Philippines’ politics, personalities matter more than barely distinguishable parties or policies. Steven Rood at the Asia Foundation, a think-tank, says investment often dips before elections - reflecting concerns that contracts already in place could be reviewed and re-awarded by an incoming administration. “Definitely there will be problems of instability given how personality-driven Philippine politics and government are,” he said. Probably most at risk is longer-term foreign direct investment in the Philippines, which hit a record $6.2 billion in 2014, but Rood saw little prospect of a serious contraction. “I don’t expect that current overall levels of investment will fall, since there are still opportunities to make money in the Philippines.” (The economy is virtually recession-proof thanks to remittances from overseas workers.) Aquino’s economics team swapped short- and medium-term debt for longer maturities, lowering foreign exchange exposures, and cutting the budget deficit - consequently winning investment grade status from credit-rating agencies. Inflows from migrant workers’ remittances and outsourcing contracts, worth some $3 billion a month, raise personal income and consumption, driving the Philippines’ robust annual growth and buffering the balance of payments. Foreign reserves are ample, equivalent to more than 10 months’ imports, while the Philippine peso has fallen just 4.6 percent against the U.S. dollar, less than any other Southeast Asian currency, in the emerging market volatility of late. READ MORE...RELATED, Businesses urged to innovate in the digital age...

ALSO ON VIDEO: How PH stands in good public governance scorecard


NOVEMBER 7 -VIDEOGRABBED PHOTO --Transparency and open governance are critical elements of long-term economic competitiveness, paving the way for sustainable economic growth and prosperity--goals APEC member-economies have committed to collectively. As we count down the days to the APEC Leaders' Summit, let's take a health check on the Philippines' good public governance scorecard. -- ANC Market Edge. RELATED, Public governance reform advocacy: Islands of good governance in PH Awards...

ALSO: Why Canada should welcome more Syrian refugees—a lot more
[Far from being a drain on the tax base, immigrants and refugees are among the most vital parts of the economy]


FLASHBACK POSTED SEPTEMBER 14 -Photo of Syrian refugees on the Serbia-Hungary border. (Thomas Campean/Anadolu Agency/Getty)
As the Syrian refugee crisis roils onward, it’s kicked loose a foul bit of flotsam from the murkiest parts of the Internet. A post currently circulating on Facebook begins: “It is interesting that the federal government provides a single refugee with a monthly allowance of $1,890, and each can get an additional $580 in social assistance.” Canadian retirees received less than half of that amount in public benefits, the post notes, before leaping to its conclusion: “Maybe our pensioners should apply as refugees!”
The message is inaccurate, confusing a one-time payment for new arrivals with a monthly stipend. It’s also more than a decade old and frequently debunked, including on the Government of Canada’s website. Yet, despite being completely erroneous, the message is pretty useful. It plainly states an oft-implied objection to accepting more refugees. They cost money—and we’d rather spend our cash someplace else. For the past decade, the Canadian government has been doing just that. It has already slashed health and settlement programs, with a further $10 million in cuts on the way. When the Conservatives cut dental and drug benefits for refugees in 2012, Saskatchewan MP Kelly Block celebrated the cancellation with a mail-out hailing the savings of “your tax dollars.” Casting refugees as freeloaders may be politically expedient but it lacks a basis in fact. Between 1979 and 1981, Canada accepted 60,000 “boat people” from Southeast Asia. Within a decade, 86% of those former refugees were working, healthy and spoke English with some proficiency, achieving the basic criteria for success set out by academic Morton Beiser in his landmark study of their integration into Canadian society. They were less likely to use social services and more likely to have jobs than the average Canadian. One in five was self-employed. They weren’t a drain on the taxpayer—they were taxpayers. READ MORE...

ALSO: Philippines not ready for Asean integration – MVP
[Fililipino tycoon said: “No, we’re not ready. .. People keep talking about integration but what does it really mean? I’m not saying it will not happen in one day, but not in our lifetime. Let us be realistic that it won’t happen because politics will intrude,” Pangilinan said.]               


NOVEMBER 3 -As the deadline for the Asean Economic Community (AEC) nears, business tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan said the Philippines remains unready for the economic unification of the regional market. WEF
Ready or not, the Philippine business community has no choice but to face tougher competition from its regional counterparts.
As the deadline for the Asean Economic Community (AEC) nears, business tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan said the Philippines remains unready for the economic unification of the regional market. “No, we’re not ready. .. People keep talking about integration but what does it really mean? I’m not saying it will not happen in one day, but not in our lifetime. Let us be realistic that it won’t happen because politics will intrude,” Pangilinan said. “Like sugar, it is cheaper to import sugar, that will be good for Filipino consumers but you will displace four million people from their jobs. If you’re a sitting president, can you afford that, turn away four million of your people without the livelihood? You cannot. It will be suicide. And any sitting president, whether in Indonesia or Malaysia, will have the same issues,” he added. Pangilinan chairs the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., Metro Pacific Investments Corp., and Manila Electric Co. The creation of the AEC by yearend is seen to strengthen intra-regional trade and the free flow of capital, goods, skilled labor and services within the 10-nation Asean member states. READ MORE... RELATED, PH ready for full ASEAN integration in 2016 – DTI Chief; RELATED #2...PH agri not ready for Asean integration–Labor experts...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

SWS: More Filipinos went hungry in Q3


In this 2007 photo, children play on the street in Cebu City, Philippines. Burger Mac/CC BY

MANILA, NOVEMBER 9, 2015 (PHILSTAR) More Filipinos became hungry in the third quarter of the year, with 15.7 percent of households or about 3 million Filipinos saying they experienced hunger at least once, according to the Social Weather Stations (SWS).

In the survey released Monday, the polling agency said hunger incidence went up in the last three months compared to 12.7 percent in the second quarter of the year, while 13.5 percent was recorded in the first quarter.

While slightly fewer families, at 1.6 percent, said they experienced "severe hunger," the degree of "moderate hunger" in households leapt from 10.8 percent in the second quarter to 15.7 percent in the third quarter.

Mindanao had the most cases of reported hunger at 21.7 percent, followed by 18.3 percent of those in Metro Manila. About 14.7 percent of the population in Balance Luzon also experienced hunger, while hunger incidence was only 9.3 percent in the Visayas.

First published on BusinessWorld on Sunday, the SWS conducted the survey from September 2 to 5 using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide as a nationally represented sampling.

Respondents were asked if their family "experienced hunger and did not have anything to eat" in the last three months.

The year-round self-rated hunger, however, continued to decrease. In 2014, a total of 18.3 percent of households experienced hunger while 19.3 percent reported the same in 2013.


PHILSTAR

Imports still outpace exports Agri trade deficit widens in H1 By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 8, 2015 - 12:00am 1 3 googleplus0 0


Imports still outpace exports Agri trade deficit widens in H1

MANILA, Philippines – Agriculture trade deficit widened 113.02 percent in the first half of the year as imports continued to outpace exports, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported.

The trade deficit in the farm sector rose to $2.3 billion from January to June from $1.08 billion in the same period last year.

Total export earnings generated from Philippine agricultural exports fell 22.62 percent year-on-year to $2.6 billion. The sector comprised nine percent of the country’s total export earnings of $28.89 billion during the period.

The total value of the country’s agricultural imports, meanwhile, rose 10.36 percent year-on-year to $4.9 billion. Agricultural imports made up 15.11 percent of the country’s total import expenditure of $32.43 billion.

The country’s earnings from its top 10 agricultural exports fell 25.17 percent year-on-year to $1.73 billion. With the exception of coconut oil, pineapple and natural rubber, exports of other products – tuna, fresh banana, seaweed and carrageenan, processed tobacco, desiccated coconut, unprocessed tobacco, and copra oil cake – saw a drop in earnings.

Expenditure for the country’s top 10 agricultural imports, on the other hand, rose 9.44 percent to $2.47 billion. These products are wheat, soybean oil/cake meal, milk and cream products, fertilizer, rice, bovine meat, palm kernel olein, sugar preparation, urea, and coffee.

The Board of Investments (BOI) announced last week it was completing the industry roadmaps for carrageenan, processed shrimp, dried mangoes and cacao tablea that would strengthen the competitiveness of these products in the export market.

READ MORE...

Industry roadmap workshops for carrageenan, processed shrimps and dried mangoes were concluded in Cebu City last Friday while those for cacao tablea is scheduled for Nov. 13 in Davao.

Cebu City was chosen as the venue for the workshops on carrageenan, processed shrimp and processed mangoes as most of the major industry players are based in this area.

Davao City, meanwhile, was chosen for the cacao workshops as the whole Davao region produces 80 percent the country’s cacao tablea.

According to the BOI Japan, Korea and the US are traditionally the biggest export partners of the Philippines in the food and beverage sector, but between 2006 and 2014, local food and beverage manufacturers have begun exporting to other destinations, hence the need to improve the acceptability of Philippine food exports.

The BOI estimates that 99 percent of food manufacturers in the country are small and medium enterprises. Most processing plants are located in the National Capital Region, Region IV and Region VII.

Many food manufacturers area also relocating to Regions IX, XII, ARMM and CARAGA because of the abundance of agricultural and fishery products in these regions, the BOI said.


PHILSTAR

P150 B allotted for rehab of calamity areas – DBM By Prinz Magtulis and Kathleen Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 6, 2015 - 12:00am 1 0 googleplus0 1


An aerial view shows a coastal community hit by Typhoon Yolanda and the resulting storm surge in Eastern Samar in November 2013. File photo/AP

MANILA, Philippines - Amid reports of millions of pesos in unused calamity funds, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said a total of P150 billion has been allotted for the reconstruction of disaster-ravaged areas until 2017.

Of the amount, the DBM said P93.87 billion has been disbursed as of Oct. 23, and P10 billion has been set for release before the end of the month. The remaining P46 billion would be released once the 2016 budget is approved by year-end, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad told reporters in a briefing yesterday on the status of the rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas ravaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

“We have requested the agencies to fully disaggregate their budget and to begin their procurement now so that from Day One, as soon as the budget is approved, they can easily issue the notice of award,” the budget chief said.

“The P46 billion will be automatically released to the agencies once the budget is approved without the need to go to the DBM for statement of allotment orders,” he added.

The Commission on Audit (COA) has found a total of P384 million in calamity donations to Office of Civil Defense (OCD) unused, the biggest chunk of which – amounting to P137 million – represented donations for the victims of Yolanda in 2013.

Learning from experience after Yolanda, the government is studying how to fast-track the procurement process to ensure calamity funds are disbursed swiftly, officials said yesterday.

READ MORE...

“We are really looking at designing a procurement policy that is applicable in times of calamity, particularly in terms of relief operations because we do not have time to wait for the usual procurement processes to take place,” Abad said.

He called Yolanda the “strongest typhoon to hit Earth.” Yolanda made landfall in Eastern Visayas on Nov. 8, 2013 destroying homes and crops and killing more than 6,000 people.

While the government immediately mobilized funds for rehabilitation, Undersecretary Alexander Pama of the OCD said state agencies were not able to access funds because of strict procurement processes.

Pama said agencies would have to wait for three months to finish the entire procurement processes laid out under Republic Act No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

“There are a lot of existing laws in the implementation of our national disaster risk reduction system that hinders us,” he said in the same briefing.

“For example, procurement processes in ordinary times are being used in an emergency situation. The thing is, once the program gets running, we are already covered by RA No. 9184,” he explained. – With Christina Mendez, Helen Flores, Non Alquitran, Alexis Romero

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RELATED FROM THE TRIBUNE

COA report: P1B in QRF lay idle By Charlie V. Manalo and Mario J. Mallari  Written by Tribune Wires Tuesday, 03 November 2015 00:00


MORE DISASTER FUNDS UNDERSPENT

Undespending under the Aquino administration has infected even the use of quick relief funds that usually spells life and death for Filipinos in disaster-struck areas.

Aside from the P385 million in donations for calamity victims the government had withheld which earned widespread rebuke yesterday, the Commission on Audit (CoA) also found nearly P1 billion in dormant “Quick Response Fund (QRF)” in state coffers.

Legislators both from the side of the administration and opposition as a result slammed the Aquino administration for failing to spend funds earmarked for relief of the victims of typhoons and other calamities that struck the country.

In its 2014 annual audit report on the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), CoA noted that at least P1 billion has been stashed by the agency despite the devastations brought by many natural disasters that killed and rendered homeless millions of Filipinos.

“The QRF (Quick Response Fund) which accumulated to a huge amount of P923,153,721.00 as of December 31, 2014 was not utilized as envisioned and became idle, thus, depriving the intended beneficiaries of the benefits that could be derived therefrom and unnecessarily tying up the fund in the custody of the OCD which could have been used to fund other important projects of the government,” CoA stated in its audit report.

The audit also disclosed that of the total QRF released in 2014 only P66,090,738.21, approximately 6.68 percent of the total available fund was actually spent by the OCD.

State auditors also noted that there was clearly “no planned action of activities for the releases of funds resulting in the low rate of utilization” and deprivation of assistance to intended beneficiaries “Had there been appropriate plans/programs and consideration of the functions of the implementing agencies in releases and utilization of QRF, government resources could have been utilized to the optimum level to the advantage of the intended beneficiaries,” CoA bared.

During the exit conference, the OCD blamed the absence of guidelines as the reason for the low utilization of the funds.

Old policies as alibi
The head of the OCD, however, blamed old policies under the defunct National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) for the dormant disaster funds.

Undersecretary Alexander Pama, OCD administrator and executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) which succeeded the NDCC, assured that measures have been taken to correct the policies.

“We have policies being observed on the utilization of donated funds for the calamity victims and we don’t want to get out of that,” Pama said.

READ MORE...

Pama said that under the NDCC policy issued in 1998 funds intended for the victims of calamities —fatalities and those injured, cannot be used for rehabilitation of damages houses or even provision of relief goods.

Pama explained that under the NDCC policy, relief items shall be provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) while the OCD must supply non-food items “which are usually taken from our QRF (quick reaction fund).”

“Under the policy, NDCC policy, the utilization of donated funds that we observe are intended for those who have lost their loved ones and those injured, that’s why it is really slow,” said Pama.

“That is what being fixed, we are now coming up with a more comprehensive NDRRMC policy on the utilization of donated funds,” added Pama.

The CoA reported that some P385 million in donated funds were not released to the victims of calamities since 2008.
CoA said the OCD has received a total of P466.019 million in donations for various calamities since 2008 but it has spent only P81.068 million as of December 31, 2014.

The state audit agency found that the entire balance of the donations was deposited in a trust account with the state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) where it has earned P1.709 million in interest.

“I think there is no question about the accounting of money because these are placed on a trust fund,” said Pama.
According to Pama, the OCD and NDRRMC have taken corrective measures and responded to CoA’s Audit Observation Memorandum to address the issue.
Pama said CoA itself recommended the crafting of new policies.


TRIBUNE EDITORIAL CARTOON.

House probe sought

Head of the House Visayas bloc Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez called for an immediate congressional inquiry into the report of “calamity underspending” brought to the open by the CoA.

“This merits a full blown investigation,” said Benitez, who used to be a staunch administration ally until the ruling Liberal Party (LP) fielded candidates in areas ruled by the lawmaker’s local supporters.

“Our country has been hit by calamity after calamity. There is no explanation and certainly no excuse that will justify why the money was not given to those who needed it most,” Benitez added.

Reps. Rodel Batocabe (Ako Bicol), Lito Atienza (Buhay), Anton Lagdameo (Davao del Norte); Rodito Albano (Isabela) and Ben Evardone (Eastern Samar) also expressed indignation upon receiving the report.

Included in the list of events that received donations that were either unspent or underspent were the 2013 Zamboanga siege, P158.924; Bohol earthquake, P4.983 and supertyphoon Yolanda, P98.242 million out of P136.9 million in local and foreign donations.

“It is regrettable that there is now a paradigm shift from the usual excuse of lack of government funds to underspend allocated funds, when there is a failure of implementation of projects or delivery of social services,” said Batocabe, chairman of the House committee on climate change.

Atienza said the failure of the government to dispose properly of the funds where they are intended for particularly for the calamity victims, validates Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay’s description of the Aquino administration being insensitive.

“Can you imagine not providing help when they have much money. They don’t seem to feel what has to be done to help the needy,” said Atienza.

Lagdameo, for his part, expressed support for Benitez’s call for investigation.

“We owe the donors and the public, especially those affected by calamities, a complete, thorough and transparent accounting of these donations,” he said.

Evardone, a Malacañang ally, said the OCD operations should be streamlined “for it to be effective.”

“It should consider the timeliness of its actions to ensure effective rehabilitation and reconstruction of calamity-hit areas,” said Evardone.

Albano backed Evardone’s view that a re-examination of the procedures for OCD spending should be done.

Benitez said officials of both CoA and the OCD will have to be summoned to shed light into the appalling audit findings as he cited CoA’s report that sated: “Utilization of the donations from foreign and local donors in the total amount of P81,068,471.49 was low, depriving the calamity victims of the much needed assistance to alleviate their difficulties.”


PHLSTAR NEWS NOVEMBER 2, 2015 -The OCD had told COA that its failure to immediately release assistance intended for calamity and crisis victims was due to the beneficiaries or claimants’ lack of compliance with the requirements. - The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) has kept more than P384 million in donations stashed in its bank account instead of promptly distributing the money to finance the relief and rehabilitation of the victims of calamities and disasters, the Commission on Audit (COA) said. In the 2014 report released recently, COA said the funds have been accumulating since 2008 because of its low utilization rate of only 17.39 percent. STAR/File photo

Under the Department of National Defense (DND) Memorandum Order No. 1 of 2005, donations were to become part of “calamity funds” to be used solely on relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction, and other related works after calamities, epidemics, and armed conflict.

Included under the said directive was the grant of cash assistance to affected families totaling P10,000 for a family member killed and P5,000 for those that sustained injuries.

Romualdez, who represents Leyte that is the worst hit province by typhoon Yolanda, also called for a congressional investigation on the status of the other ‘Yolanda’ donations received by other government agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWSD).

He dismissed as disgustingly pathetic the excuse by the OCD that the donations had been withheld because of the non-submission of requirements by the victims.

“The homes and possessions of the victims were either destroyed or severely damaged by ‘Yolanda,’along with scores of government offices. So how can the OCD expect them to have complete requirements?” Romualdez asked.


The lawmaker demanded that the DSWD and all other concerned agencies must now come out with an accounting of the cash donations it received for Yolanda victims and records of expenses.


Donasyon sa Yolanda bakit hindi itulong sa mga biktima, said Leyte Rep  Ferdinand-Martin-Romualdez (photo. Pinagpapaliwanag ni Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez ang Office of the Civil Defense kung bakit P38.7 milyon lamang sa P137 milyong donasyon para sa mga nasalanta ng bagyong Yolanda ang ginamit nito hanggang noong Disyembre 2014. FROM BANDERA.INQUIRER.NET NOVEMEBR 2, 2015

“How much exactly are we talking about? ‘Yolanda’ victims have all the right to know the whole truth. The CoA findings only prove that there are enough resources to finance the needs of ‘Yolanda’ victims. They have been suffering for almost two years,” Romualdez added.

The militant Anakpawis Party-list also expressed resentment over the unused donated funds for calamity victims since 2008 as reported by the Commission on Audit on the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and blamed the Aquino administration for criminal negligence. OCD is under the Department of National Defense (DND) making it under the president’s supervisory powers and responsibility.

“The rage of typoon victims is indescribable over the Aquino government’s criminal negligence, many have died, starved, endured living in tents, make-shift camps, went bankrupt and lost their farms and other hardships, but we are to discover that the donations supposed to help them are hoarded, the Aquino government should be held responsible for this mercilessness,” Anakpawis Representative Fernando Hicap said in a statement.

Of the 12 incidents CoA reported since 2008, nine were weather-related since typhoon Frank in June 2008 to typhoon Yolanda in November 2013, the Bohol earthquake in October 2013, the Zamboanga siege in September 2013 and 1 classified as “various disasters.”

“Even the donations for the victims of typhoon Ondoy-Pepeng, Pablo and Yolanda were not distributed to the victims, though, they were considered by the international community to be most damaging to the people and country, the government even had the stomach to file charges against typhoon Pablo victims when they organized to claim the relief from the DSWD office in Davao, and the Emergency Shelter Assistance for typhoon Yolanda victims, DSWD had the audacity of claiming distribution would be soon fully accomplished when 2 years had passed and it is long ago not an emergency assistance,” Hicap said.

Lacierda plays dumb

Malacañang chose to first deny knowledge of the OCD relief fund fiasco before hitting at the CoA for crafting a supposedly outdated report.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda first denied he has details on the reported withheld funds before attempting to discredit the CoA report which he said was not a “real-time assessment”.

“We will ask the OCD to know what they did… we will defer the explanation to them,” Lacierda said when asked on the OCD’s supposed act.

“That CoA report is not real-time isn’t it? It’s part of a long process and by the time it comes out, maybe, there may have been solutions that were already done,” he added.

People Surge, an alliance of survivors of Super Typhoon “Yolanda,” had lamented the lack of permanent shelters and the presence of “small and cramped” bunkhouses almost two years after the disaster pummeled the Visayas.


The group called DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman a liar over promises that she failed to deliver despite the chunk of donations and funds channeled through her department to aid the victims of the superstorm which brought the Visayas to its knees.

Malacañang, for its part, denied that foreign donations for Yolanda rehabilitation actually went to the government itself.
Lacierda, in the same briefing, however disclosed that most of the funds donated were given to the DSWD and the Department of Health (DoH).

“If you are looking at foreign donations… you will notice that a big bulk of donations was turned over to international organizations, most of them related to the countries where the donation came from. It did not go to the government,” Lacierda said.

“Those that went to the government were accounted for; it went to three agencies, the DoH, DSWD and the NDRRMC. They had already issued reports. They can fully account for the foreign aid they received,” he added.

The Palace official took another jab at the CoA, which had likewise reported on the use of foreign donations by the government, saying “I don’t know where they are coming from and I haven’t seen the report. But if you want transparency on foreign aid, it can be found in the (government) websites.
” Gerry BaldO, Joshua L. Labonera


MALAYA

INVESTORS RE-ASSESS PH AFTER AQUINO November 04, 2015


The Philippines’ election is still six months away, but already investors are seeking reassurance that whoever replaces outgoing President Aquino will honor his clean and competent style of government.

Aquino must step down next year, after reaching the end of the single six-year term permitted by the constitution, and 130 candidates have nominated to replace him, including one who claims to be an extraterrestrial ambassador.

Aquino sees Manuel Roxas, until recently his secretary of interior, as the candidate most likely to sustain his legacy.

Roxas is currently third in opinion polls. Second is current vice-president, Jejomar Binay, who is from a different political party to Aquino and faces corruption charges.

First is Grace Poe, a senator known mostly for being the adopted daughter of a famous actor. She may face disqualification over citizenship and residency issues.

Aquino’s two predecessors were both convicted of corruption, and there is concern about who could follow.

“The problem is you don’t have any more Aquinos waiting on the sidelines,” said Kenneth Akintewe, a fund manager at Aberdeen Asset Management in Singapore, overseeing $4.5 billion in assets.

“There is a big question mark over how sustainable the reform momentum is going to be.”

Aquino’s mostly steady, scandal-free administration has driven 6.3 percent average growth of the $285 billion economy, the fastest of Southeast Asia’s five main economies, and the World Bank expects it to remain the region’s pacesetter in 2016-17.

In Philippines’ politics, personalities matter more than barely distinguishable parties or policies.

Steven Rood at the Asia Foundation, a think-tank, says investment often dips before elections - reflecting concerns that contracts already in place could be reviewed and re-awarded by an incoming administration.

“Definitely there will be problems of instability given how personality-driven Philippine politics and government are,” he said.

Probably most at risk is longer-term foreign direct investment in the Philippines, which hit a record $6.2 billion in 2014, but Rood saw little prospect of a serious contraction.

“I don’t expect that current overall levels of investment will fall, since there are still opportunities to make money in the Philippines.” (The economy is virtually recession-proof thanks to remittances from overseas workers.)

Aquino’s economics team swapped short- and medium-term debt for longer maturities, lowering foreign exchange exposures, and cutting the budget deficit - consequently winning investment grade status from credit-rating agencies.

Inflows from migrant workers’ remittances and outsourcing contracts, worth some $3 billion a month, raise personal income and consumption, driving the Philippines’ robust annual growth and buffering the balance of payments.

Foreign reserves are ample, equivalent to more than 10 months’ imports, while the Philippine peso has fallen just 4.6 percent against the U.S. dollar, less than any other Southeast Asian currency, in the emerging market volatility of late.

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Manila’s stock market is the region’s best performer, and investors rate the government at a lower risk of debt default than all its neighbours, except Singapore.

This is a striking turnaround from the time Aquino took office, when Philippines’ debt was seen as most likely to default.

So could the winner of next May’s poll sustain this level of progress?

Soo-Hai Lim, director of Asian equities at Baring Asset Management, would like assurances that Aquino’s successor won’t reverse policy improvements.

“You want to see those processes that he has put in place to improve transparency, to ensure that contracts are awarded on a consistent basis, are continued by the new administration,” he said.

Richard Li, chairman and chief executive of Pacific Century Group, an Asia-based long-term private capital firm, told a conference the May 2016 election was pivotal to the Philippines remaining an attractive place to invest.

“The Philippines looks very exciting indeed - as long as the next government is clean, has good governance, and strong leadership,” he said. - Reuters


VIDEO: How PH stands in good public governance scorecard ABS-CBNnews.com Posted at 11/07/15 2:23 AM 1.2K


VIDEOGRABBED PHOTO

Transparency and open governance are critical elements of long-term economic competitiveness, paving the way for sustainable economic growth and prosperity--goals APEC member-economies have committed to collectively.

As we count down the days to the APEC Leaders' Summit, let's take a health check on the Philippines' good public governance scorecard. -- ANC Market Edge

 

Public governance reform advocacy: Islands of good governance in PH posted November 01, 2015 at 11:25 pm by Mike T. Toledo

It isn’t just “more fun” in the Philippines, it is more responsible, too, particularly where governance is concerned. Thus, in this country, you can find islands of good tourism and adventure, as well as islands of good governance.

Last October 20 and 21, the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA), a public governance reform advocacy group founded by Dr. Jesus “Jess” Estanislao, held a Public Governance Forum together with the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD) and the National Competitiveness Council Philippines at the Philippine International Convention Center.

During this Forum, 12 public sector institutions were named the very first Philippine “Islands of Good Governance” to acknowledge the reforms that they have undertaken through transformative and sustainable good governance programs.

This columnist acted as master of ceremonies

The awardees from the national government agencies were the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine Army (PA), the Philippine Navy (PN), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the National Electrification Administration (NEA), the Philippine Heart Center (PHC), and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

For the local governments, the awardees were the city governments of Balanga, Bataan; Butuan, Agusan Del Norte; Dipolog, Zamboanga Del Norte; and Talisay, Negros Occidental.


Philippine Heart Center executive director Dr. Manuel Chua-Chiaco Jr.; ISA chairman Dr. Francisco Duque III; ISA president Francisco Eizmendi Jr.; AFP Deputy Chief LtGen Edgar Fallorina; Navy Rear Admiral Leopoldo Alano; DTI Undersecretary Nora Terrado; ISA chairman emeritus Dr. Jesus P. Estanislao; Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes; Army MGen Demosthenes Santillan; BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr.; Claremont University professor Dr. Robert Klitgaard; NEA Administrator Edita Bueno; Butuan City Mayor Ferdinand Amante Jr.; Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Laura del Rosario; Dipolog City Mayor Evelyn Uy; Balanga City Mayor Jose Enrique Garcia III; and Talisay City Mayor Eric Saratan
.

BSP director Helen Montalbo, BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr., ICD chairman Francis Estrada, BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr.; Claremont University’s Dr. Robert Klitgaard and DFA Undersecretary Laura del Rosario Dr. Estanislao, who also heads the ICD, had served under the administration of the late President Corazon C. Aquino as Finance Secretary, Socio-Economic Planning Secretary and Director-General of the National Economic Development Authority. His current thrust towards building not just good public governance but also corporate governance is nothing less than heroic, to say the least. Dr. Jess also sits as the Chairman of the National Police Commission Advisory Council on Transformation where I am also a board member.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Businesses urged to innovate in the digital age (philstar.com) | Updated November 2, 2015 - 9:20am 0 1 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines – Enterprise leaders were urged Thursday at the 6th annual Enterprise Innovation Forum (EIF) hosted by Globe Telecom to innovate more to sustain competitiveness in the digital age.

“Businesses today operate in a world that is in an ever-constant change," Globe Senior Advisor for Enterprise and IT Enabled Services Group Mike Frausing said. "This change has affected enterprises in such a way that it has disrupted usual thought process and workflow.”

“With the trend of how technologies evolve and become available, these changes in the business environment drive enterprises to transform their business models to remain relevant now and in the future,” Frausing added.

“Enterprises need a little bit of spark—a change of mindset,” Globe Chief Operating Officer for International and Business Markets Gil Genio said.

This year’s EIF featured MIT Leadership Center Executive Director Hal Gregersen as the main keynote speaker. Gregersen talked about what innovators should be doing and shared different techniques on how they can get new ideas in a very disruptive world.

“The reason problems exist is because you’re asking the wrong questions,” he said.

“Innovators ask questions that are catalytic.”

According to Gregersen, innovators should also talk to people of different race, language and industry to gain new insights.

The Chief Executive Officer of Singtel Group Enterprise, Bill Chang, was also one of the plenary speakers who presented interesting facts on cyber security.

According to Chang, big global brands have fallen prey to several cyber attacks. In fact, it take companies that boast of using high-end cyber security technologies 205 days on average before realizing that their cyber security measures had been breached.

Mobile devices, personal data, confidential company files on computer, and online banking information and transactions can all be intercepted by hackers using different techniques, Chang shared.

Some hacking techniques were demonstrated to help participants understand how cyber security is breached in both the hacker’s and victim’s perspectives.

“Enterprises are increasingly challenged to defend themselves,” Chang said.

“Companies have to figure out who they’ll work with and invest in cyber protection.”

Other distinguished speakers who led the breakout sessions in the forum were Arbor Networks’ CF Chui, Trustwave’s Michael Cerick, Singtel’s Wong Loke Yeow, Globe Telecom’s Anton Bonifacio, Tata Communications’ Srini Nagaraj, and Fortinet Southeast Asia and Hong Kong’s Alvin Rodriguez.

Globe Business holds the EIF every year for industry leaders to gain new insights and learn best innovative practices to stay competitive in their respective industries.

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RELATED BUSINESS HEADLINE FROM PHILSTAR

China unveils jetliner in bid to compete with Boeing, Airbus By Paul Traynor (Associated Press) | Updated November 2, 2015 - 6:52am 9 2 googleplus0 0


Chinese workers wave flags as a truck pulls out the first twin-engine 158-seater C919 passenger plane made by The Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) during a ceremony at the company's hangar near the Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, China, Monday, Nov. 2, 2015. AP

SHANGHAI — A state-owned manufacturer on Monday unveiled the first plane produced by a Chinese initiative to compete in the market for large passenger jetliners.

China is one of the biggest aviation markets but relies on Boeing and Airbus aircraft. The multibillion-dollar effort to create the homegrown C919 jetliner is aimed at clawing back some of the commercial benefits that flow to foreign suppliers.

The Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China showed off the first of the twin-engine planes in a ceremony attended by some 4,000 government officials and other guests at a hangar near Shanghai's Pudong International Airport.

"It's a major push for the country, as they want to be known as a major player" in airplane manufacturing, said Mavis Toh, Asia air transport editor for Flightglobal magazine.

The C919 is one of several initiatives launched by the ruling Communist Party to transform China from the world's low-cost factory into a creator of profitable technology in aviation, clean energy and other fields.

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The C919, which can seat up to 168 passengers, is meant to compete in the market for single-aisle jets dominated by Airbus Industrie's A320 and Boeing Co.'s 737.


The C919 is a twin-engine 158-seater passenger plane

Its manufacturer, known as COMAC, says it has received orders from 21 customers for a total of 517 aircraft, mostly from Chinese carriers but also from GE Capital Aviation Services.

A separate state-owned company also has developed a smaller regional jet, the ARJ-21, to compete in the market dominated by Brazil's Embraer and Canada's Bombardier. The first two ARJ-21s were delivered last year to a Chinese airline.

Most of the C919's critical systems including engines and avionics are being supplied by Western companies or foreign-Chinese joint ventures.

Boeing forecasts China's total demand for civilian jetliners over the next two decades at 5,580 planes worth a total of $780 billion.

China's major airlines are state-owned, which gives the Communist Party a captive pool of potential customers that can be ordered to buy the C919.

"China offers a terrific market, superb engineering talent and reasonably low costs. Developing a national aircraft industry makes a lot of sense," said Richard Aboulafia, vice president for analysis of Teal Group Corp., an industry consultant, in a report in July.

However, the C919 is hampered by official requirements that its manufacturer favor components produced in China, unlike competitors who source parts globally, according to Aboulafia.

"This means Western suppliers need to give away technology to play on this jet," said Aboulafia. "It also means that this aircraft is designed by people whose hands have been tied."

Development of the C919 began in 2008. Plans called for a first flight in 2014 and for it to enter service in 2016, but those targets were pushed back due to production delays. The C919 now is due to fly next year and enter service in about 2019.

One of the biggest components, the core processing and display system, is being supplied by a joint venture between GE Aviation Systems and AVIC, a state-owned Chinese military contractor.

Other suppliers include Honeywell, Rockwell Collins and Hamilton Sunstrand.


EARLIER NEWS FROM CANADIAN BUSINESS

Why Canada should welcome more Syrian refugees—a lot more Sep 14, 2015 James Cowan 25


Far from being a drain on the tax base, immigrants and refugees are among the most vital parts of the economy Photo of Syrian refugees on the Serbia-Hungary border. (Thomas Campean/Anadolu Agency/Getty)

As the Syrian refugee crisis roils onward, it’s kicked loose a foul bit of flotsam from the murkiest parts of the Internet. A post currently circulating on Facebook begins: “It is interesting that the federal government provides a single refugee with a monthly allowance of $1,890, and each can get an additional $580 in social assistance.” Canadian retirees received less than half of that amount in public benefits, the post notes, before leaping to its conclusion: “Maybe our pensioners should apply as refugees!”

The message is inaccurate, confusing a one-time payment for new arrivals with a monthly stipend.

It’s also more than a decade old and frequently debunked, including on the Government of Canada’s website. Yet, despite being completely erroneous, the message is pretty useful. It plainly states an oft-implied objection to accepting more refugees. They cost money—and we’d rather spend our cash someplace else.

For the past decade, the Canadian government has been doing just that. It has already slashed health and settlement programs, with a further $10 million in cuts on the way.

When the Conservatives cut dental and drug benefits for refugees in 2012, Saskatchewan MP Kelly Block celebrated the cancellation with a mail-out hailing the savings of “your tax dollars.”

Casting refugees as freeloaders may be politically expedient but it lacks a basis in fact. Between 1979 and 1981, Canada accepted 60,000 “boat people” from Southeast Asia.

Within a decade, 86% of those former refugees were working, healthy and spoke English with some proficiency, achieving the basic criteria for success set out by academic Morton Beiser in his landmark study of their integration into Canadian society. They were less likely to use social services and more likely to have jobs than the average Canadian. One in five was self-employed. They weren’t a drain on the taxpayer—they were taxpayers.

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This mirrors the experience in Germany, where a 2012 study found residents with foreign citizenship paid $218 billion more in taxes than they received in social benefits. German officials have been smart to cast their willingness to accept a half-million asylum seekers each year as not just a humanitarian gesture, but as wise economic policy. “We will profit from this, too, because we need immigration,” said Andrea Nahles, the country’s labour minister.


Like Germany, Canada has a rapidly aging population. To sustain our economy and standard of living, we’ll need to attract 350,000 immigrants annually by 2035, up from 260,404 in 2014, according to a Conference Board of Canada report.

We can bring in 200,000 refugees in the next year. Here’s how.

But while Germany forges ahead, Canada’s politicians are timid: the Conservatives promise to accept 20,000 refugees over four years, the Liberals say they’ll take 25,000, and the NDP want 10,000 right away and 9,000 more each year for the next four years.

As inadequate as those numbers are, even worse is that the debate begins and ends with those statistics.

What’s needed is not just a discussion of how to facilitate immigration—of refugees and others—but how to ensure our new residents integrate swiftly into the economy.

Germany has had success with an “early intervention” model that identifies skilled refugees and pairs them with opportunities as soon as possible.

But all of this requires a shift in thinking. Done properly, bringing refugees into our country isn’t about charity. It’s about investing in the future—both theirs and ours.


PHILSTAR

Philippines not ready for Asean integration – MVP By Richmond S. Mercurio (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2015 - 12:00am 16 542 googleplus1 4


As the deadline for the Asean Economic Community (AEC) nears, business tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan said the Philippines remains unready for the economic unification of the regional market. WEF

MANILA, Philippines - Ready or not, the Philippine business community has no choice but to face tougher competition from its regional counterparts.

As the deadline for the Asean Economic Community (AEC) nears, business tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan said the Philippines remains unready for the economic unification of the regional market.

“No, we’re not ready. .. People keep talking about integration but what does it really mean? I’m not saying it will not happen in one day, but not in our lifetime. Let us be realistic that it won’t happen because politics will intrude,” Pangilinan said.

“Like sugar, it is cheaper to import sugar, that will be good for Filipino consumers but you will displace four million people from their jobs. If you’re a sitting president, can you afford that, turn away four million of your people without the livelihood? You cannot. It will be suicide. And any sitting president, whether in Indonesia or Malaysia, will have the same issues,” he added.

Pangilinan chairs the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., Metro Pacific Investments Corp., and Manila Electric Co.

The creation of the AEC by yearend is seen to strengthen intra-regional trade and the free flow of capital, goods, skilled labor and services within the 10-nation Asean member states.

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“For instance, does Jollibee have a big presence in Thailand? None.Why? Because there are Thai companies already in that business. Are there significant number of Filipino lawyers or accountants or nurses in Singapore? No. Why? Because the doctors, lawyers, nurses in Singapore will complain that Filipinos are taking over their job. Naturally the government will protect their people. So where is the integration happening?” Pangilinan said.

The Philippine government, for its part, has said the country is in a position to take on the challenges and seize opportunities in the upcoming full integration of the AEC beginning next year.

In a statement issued in September, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo said he has already assured that the country is well-positioned for the integration.

Domingo said the country’s stable economic performance along with the various reforms implemented has put the Philippines in a good position to benefit from the upcoming economic integration.

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RELATED EARLIER NEWS FROM PHILSTAR

Philippines ready for Asean integration – DTI Chief Domingo By Richmond S. Mercurio (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 16, 2015 - 12:00am 1 5 googleplus1 2


Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo with Samuel Lundquist (right), Wharton vice dean of external affairs, during the recent Wharton and Penn Alumni Association meeting.

MANILA, Philippines - Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Gregory Domingo said the Philippines is now ready to take on the challenges and seize opportunities in the upcoming full integration of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) next year.

Domingo, who is leaving his post next month or by November, will not be DTI chief once AEC takes full effect but has assured the country is well-positioned for the integration.

In a statement, Domingo said the country’s stable economic performance along with the various reforms implemented has put the Philippines in a good position to benefit from the upcoming Asean integration.

“The country is in a sweet spot. We have been experiencing robust economic growth, consistent upward rankings in competitiveness, and successive credit rating upgrades. In fact, last year, the Philippines achieved an average growth rate of 6.3 percent, the highest five-year average during the past 40 years. That’s a very decent number which is probably one of the highest growth rates in this part of the world,” Domingo said.

Domingo said the future is looking bright for the Philippines as initiatives to liberalize the country and contribute to the steady growth of industries have already been put into place.

Among such significant economic reforms which Domingo cited include the amendment of the Banking Act, and enactment of the Competition Law and a cabotage-related law.

“All of these endeavors are in line with our efforts to accelerate trade and investment in the region, all the while creating an enabling environment for businesses to prosper, and ensuring that every Filipino participates and seizes opportunities in the global market,” Domingo said.

The DTI chief said the country’s manufacturing sector in particular has been growing at an average rate of 8.8 percent annually as a result of the diversification of local products and liberalization.

“While we may have suffered the initial pains of such a move, it still turned out to be beneficial because these restructuring measures improved the competitiveness of our local industries. Testament to this is our shift from manufacturing garments for lowend brands to highend brands such as Ralph Lauren, Cole Hahn, Coach, and Anne Taylor,” Domingo said.

Based on projections by HSBC and Goldman-Sachs, he said the Philippines is forecast to rank as the 14th largest economy in the world, the fifth largest economy in Asia and the largest economy in the Southeast Asian Region by 2050.

“We are even poised to surpass other Asean countries. We only need to step up our efforts to improve the competitiveness and capability of our various local industries, as we participate in regional and global trade,” Domingo said.

For the Philippines to live up to such high expectations, Domingo said good governance should likewise be sustained.

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EARLIER RELATED REPORT FROM THE INQUIRER
September 2015

PH agri not ready for Asean integration–Labor experts SHARES: 284 VIEW COMMENTS @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 08:00 AM September 25th, 2014


“Failure to modernize and diversify makes Philippine agriculture unable to compete in the Asean free market,” said Ofreneo, former dean of the school of labor and industrial relations at the University of the Philippines.

DAVAO CITY—Philippine agriculture is not ready for the integration next year of economies of Association of Southeast Asian Nation (Asean) member-countries, according to one of the country’s top labor and industrial relations experts.

At a forum here, former labor undersecretary Dr. Rene Ofreneo said should Asean integration take place at the stage Philippine agriculture is in now, it would have devastating effects on Filipino farmers and businesses.

“Failure to modernize and diversify makes Philippine agriculture unable to compete in the Asean free market,” said Ofreneo, former dean of the school of labor and industrial relations at the University of the Philippines.

“Declining investments, both public and private, in agriculture have led to declining productivity, deficient value addition and poor job creation,” he said at the forum organized by the Asia-Pacific Network for Food Security (APNFS) and the Manila-based Integrated Rural Development Foundation (IRDF).

He said the thrust to liberalize the Philippine economy is not matched by efforts to increase productivity through mechanization.

Ofreneo said that even among other Asean members, strong state support for agriculture, which is lacking in the Philippines, is the driving force for economic growth.

The scheduled Asean integration in 2015 aims to transform the region into a single market and production base where goods, services, investments, skilled labor and capital move freely and compete in the global market.

He said another component lacking in the Philippines is a successful land reform program.

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“Successful land reform (programs) in countries like Japan, Korea and Taiwan have shown that the equalizing effect of land redistribution was the necessary foundation for rural development and rural industries,” he said.

In contrast, he said, the Philippines’ Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) continues to be mired in ideological conflicts and bureaucratic bungling, resulting in an unfinished program facing legal cases that are expected to bug CARP beyond 2016, said Ofreneo.

“The Left seeks genuine agrarian reform that is confiscatory, the Right wants the government to let go of CARP or CARPER,” he said.

“The Moderates, meanwhile, want an extension and a bigger budget for support programs. With all the competing demands, no wonder we can’t move land reform forward,” he said.

Ofreneo said because of the divisiveness, a damaged Philippine agricultural sector may not be able to withstand Asean integration in 2015. Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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