HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK...

12 MILLION FAMILIES SAY THEY ARE POOR IN LATEST SWS SURVEY 

OCT 28 --PHOTO: HOME, STREET HOME A family makes its home on a street in Makati City, the site of the country’s top financial district. Millions of Filipinos go to bed hungry despite the soaring economy, according to the latest survey of the Social Weather Stations. EDWIN BACASMAS. MANILA, Philippines–A total of 12.1 million Filipino families considered themselves poor in September, while 9.3 million families said they were food-poor, according to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) report.  The nationwide survey, conducted from Sept. 26 to 29, found 55 percent of the respondents saying they were poor, the same as in the previous quarter.

The survey also found 43 percent saying they were food-poor in September, slightly more than the 41 percent recorded in June. Results of the survey were first published in BusinessWorld. The latest self-rated poverty and self-rated food poverty levels were higher than those in the same period last year. In September 2013, self-rated poverty was 50 percent while self-rated food poverty was 37 percent. Last month’s self-rated poverty and food poverty rates (52 percent and 39 percent, respectively) were above the 2013 average. The survey used face-to-face interviews with 1,200 respondents and had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points. On self-rated poverty, SWS asked 1,200 household heads to plot their family on a card with indicators stating “not poor,” “on the line” & “poor.” For self-rated food poverty, respondents were told to plot their family on a card indicating whether they were “not poor,” “on the line” or “poor” on the basis of their food situation over the past three months. Lot of work * READ MORE...

ALSO: 15M PH kids hungry; P2.6-trillion national budget for 2015 was “child-nutrient deficient.” –Poe  

OCT 28 ---SENATOR URGES GOV’T TO DEAL WITH CRISIS. PHOTO: EYEING HUNGER Sen. Grace Poe (left) calls for an increased budget for feeding programs for children like this tot (right), in a privilege speech at the Senate on Monday. PHOTO OF SENATOR POE COURTESY OF THE SENATE/RIGHT PHOTO BY ARNOLD ALMACEN. MANILA, Philippines–It’s the paradox of our times: A great number of Filipinos, including 15 million children, remain hungry or malnourished while the Philippine economy continues to soar, Sen. Grace Poe lamented on Monday, as she called for concrete action to address this scourge. Poe said the government and every Filipino should do their part to help end hunger. “We shouldn’t allow the applause of rating agencies drown out the grumbling of empty stomachs,” she said in a privilege speech.

“We should let the issue of hunger gnaw at bureaucracy’s thick walls or the officialdom’s thick hides the way an ulcer lacerates the gut,” she said. Poe called for an increase in the budget next year for children’s feeding programs, which could be done by doing away with “frivolous” budgetary items. She also called for sincere efforts to invest in and improve agricultural programs by giving these sufficient funding. The neophyte senator encouraged civic action to help end hunger, including small deeds that, taken together, could go a long way. For instance, politicians could donate the tarpaulins they use as “greeting cards” to farmers who could use these as drying mats for their crops. Poe, in her speech, took note of a recent Social Weather Stations survey that found that 43 percent, or some 9.3 million families, considered themselves “food-poor.” Based on the 8th National Nutrition Survey, 7.36 million children below the age of 5 are malnourished. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Inclusive growth, good governance fail — polls  

OCT 28 --The results of two surveys released yesterday were an indictment on the Aquino administration’s failure on both the inclusive growth and good governance fronts. A Social Weather Station (SWS) in its third quarter survey showed 55 percent of respondents rating themselves poor while a joint survey undertaken by communications consultancy firm EON and the Ateneo Graduate School of Business (AGSB) showed the government among the least trusted of social institutions mainly due to perceptions of corruption. With a total of 1,200 respondents, self-rated poverty incidence, or families who tag themselves as poor, remains virtually the same for the year with 55 percent based on the results of a September survey compared to 55 percent in June and 53 percent in March, the SWS indicated.

The survey showed majority of families who see themselves as poor were from Visayas and Mindanao with 65 percent and 61 percent, respectively. The National Capital Region’s poverty incidence is the highest since 2013, with 43 percent. Luzon also peaked with 52 percent on the latest study. Among those asked based on type of food eaten by their families, 43 percent declared themselves food poor or going hungry once in a day with majorities being in Visayas and Mindanao (53 percent and 52 percent, respectively). People in NCR also named themselves poor in terms of food they consume with 30 percent, which was the highest level in surveys undertaken this year. Luzon also reported a high incidence since the first quarter on the same query, counting 37 percent.* READ MORE...

ALSO: Gov’t willing to work with Poe to feed poor kids 

OCT 29 --Malacañang is willing to work with Sen. Grace Poe in addressing hunger and malnutrition problems, especially among children. “According to Secretary Dinky Soliman, the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) is prepared to work with Senator Poe’s office in prioritizing areas verified to have high rates of malnutrition among children,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said in a text message. “We would like to continue working with Congress in giving poverty reduction and social protection (which includes the fight against malnutrition) the highest priority in resource allocation, as already embodied in the proposed 2015 national budget,” Coloma added. In a privilege speech on Monday, Poe said a big number of Filipinos, including children, remained hungry or malnourished although the Philippine economy continued to expand.

Poe called for an increase in the 2015 budget for children’s feeding program by doing away with “frivolous” budgetary items. Sen. Ralph Recto on Tuesday identified the overhead expenses for the government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program for 2015 as one source of funds that could be rechanneled to expand government feeding programs, amid the rising number of hungry Filipinos. Recto said part of the P7.6-billion administrative cost of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) for 2015, up from P5 billion in 2014, could be reduced and the funds allocated to feed starving children. The budget for the program is under the DSWD. Payroll, monitoring Recto noted that the administrative costs included personnel payroll of P3.35 billion, monitoring cost of P429 million, and publicity and information cost of P115 million. He said he would check the justifications for these amounts, some of which constituted “hefty” increases. “Is the almost 185-percent increase in the publicity budget really necessary? Why are we increasing the payroll by P1.4 billion? Why are we doubling the allocation for monitoring to P430 million?” he said
* READ MORE....

(ALSO) Aquino: No more 2nd term; NOT ‘RIGHT SOLUTION’ TO SUSTAIN PH ECONOMIC GROWTH  

OCT 29 ---LISTENING TO THE VOICE OF HIS BOSS President Aquino says he is ruling out a second term during the 13th CEO forum of the semiconductor and electronics industries in the Philippines at the Peninsula Manila in Makati City on Tuesday. MANILA, Philippines–President Aquino on Tuesday said having a second term would not be the “right solution” to sustain the Philippines’ economic growth beyond 2016, in the most categorical answer he has made to the question of whether he is open to extending his term. “There are some quarters that were saying I should try and go for a second term. I don’t think that’s a right solution,” Aquino said at a general membership meeting of the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines (SEIPI).

The President made the remark in answer to a question by a SEIPI member about how the Philippines could maintain or increase its competitiveness when the Asean economic integration begins in 2015. The Asean is the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which the Philippines is a founding member. Aquino was also asked how sustainable the Philippines’ economic growth would be after 2016. “We all have a timecard in this world and we have to prepare for the eventuality of being called to meet our Maker. So, there has to be that continuation of people of like minds who will deliver on the promises that are real and not just self-serving or nice (or) pleasant to hear,” he said. Choosing right leader ...* READ MORE...

ALSO Philstar News Analysis: Hunger, poverty continue to hound Aquino government 

OCT 29 ---PHOTO: TODAY, ABJECT POVERTY IN THE PHILIPPINES---MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - Forty three percent, or some 9.3 million Filipinos, considered themselves food-poor or hungry while 55 percent, or 12.1 million Filipino families, considered themselves poor, according to a survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS), a respected survey firm here. The nationwide survey, conducted from Sept. 26 to 29, also found out that the number of people who lacked food at 43 percent in September was slightly higher than the 41 percent recorded in June this year.

But citing statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Senator Grace Poe said the number of malnourished Filipino children could be as high as 15 million, even bigger than Metro Manila's total population. "Hunger in this supposed time of economic growth is the paradox of our times," Poe said in a speech she delivered in the Philippine Senate Monday. Poe, a political ally of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, called on the government to take concrete actions to address this scourge. Both the World Bank and the Manila-based Asian Development Bank have also urged the Aquino government to undertake measures that would ensure inclusive growth in the Philippines so that the economic benefits could trickle down to majority of the Filipinos who are poor.
* READ MORE...

ALSO: PNoy says emergency powers no longer viable   

OCT 28 ---President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday admitted that seeking emergency powers from Congress was no longer a viable solution to the looming power crisis next year. In an open forum with the semiconductors and electronics sector, Aquino said having authority to contract generating plants for additional electricity reserves was no longer possible because the legislature has yet to pass the measure. "Unfortunately, there is a need of six months to install these facilities to include all of the civil works attendant to it," the President said. "Congress has not given us that power as of yet.... So that doesn’t seem to be an option at this point in time," he added. Last month, Aquino asked Congress for emergency powers that would give him authority to enter into contracts to raise the generating capacity and fill the projected power reserves deficit.

He said this was allowed under Section 71 or the Electric Power Crisis Provision under Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA). The provision states that: "Upon determination by the President of the Philippines of an imminent shortage of the supply of electricity, Congress may authorize, through a joint resolution, the establishment of additional generating capacity." Senator Sergio "Serge" Osmeña III, Senate energy committee chairman, already said last week that there was no longer time and a need for Aquino to be granted emergency powers. ILP not enough Instead of granting Aquino's request, the House of Representatives drafted a joint resolution last week authorizing the executive to establish additional capacity for the Luzon grid next year by tapping privately-owned generator sets. * READ MORE...

ALSO Manila Bulletin Editorial: Welcome news from the Ilocos Norte

N0V 3 ---And no need for any emergency power for the President. Amid the reports of an impending electric power shortage of about 300 megawatts in the summer of 2015 comes the welcome news that 250 megawatts from wind energy will be available starting this year until early 2015. Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla of the Department of Energy said he visited three wind projects in Ilocos Norte – the 33-mw Bangui Windmills of Northwind Power Development Corp., the 150-mw Burgos wind farm of the Energy Development Corp., and the 81-mw Pagudpud project of the North Luzon Renewable Energy Corp.

In the South, the first and largest solar plant of the Thomas Lloyd Group of Switzerland opened a 13-mw phase of its 32-mw project in San Carlos City in Negros Occidental. It said it expects to open the final phase within months. The Congress of the Philippines enacted the Renewable Energy Act in 2008 to accelerate the exploration and development of renewable energy resources in the country, including biomass, solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and ocean energy sources. Even before the act was passed, the Philippines was already known in the world for its geothermal energy program. As of 2010, the country already had a total capacity of 1,904 megawatts, second only to the United States which had 3,093 megawatts. * READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:
 
12M families say they are poor in latest SWS report


HOME, STREET HOME A family makes its home on a street in Makati City, the site of the country’s top financial district. Millions of Filipinos go to bed hungry despite the soaring economy, according to the latest survey of the Social Weather Stations. EDWIN BACASMAS

MANILA, NOVEMBER 3, 2014 (INQUIRER) POSTED - A total of 12.1 million Filipino families considered themselves poor in September, while 9.3 million families said they were food-poor, according to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) report.

The nationwide survey, conducted from Sept. 26 to 29, found 55 percent of the respondents saying they were poor, the same as in the previous quarter.

The survey also found 43 percent saying they were food-poor in September, slightly more than the 41 percent recorded in June. Results of the survey were first published in BusinessWorld.

The latest self-rated poverty and self-rated food poverty levels were higher than those in the same period last year.

In September 2013, self-rated poverty was 50 percent while self-rated food poverty was 37 percent.

Last month’s self-rated poverty and food poverty rates (52 percent and 39 percent, respectively) were above the 2013 average.

The survey used face-to-face interviews with 1,200 respondents and had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.

On self-rated poverty, SWS asked 1,200 household heads to plot their family on a card with indicators stating “not poor,” “on the line” and “poor.”

For self-rated food poverty, respondents were told to plot their family on a card indicating whether they were “not poor,” “on the line” or “poor” on the basis of their food situation over the past three months.

Lot of work

* Malacañang on Monday acknowledged that the government still has a lot of work to do to reduce poverty, following the SWS survey.

“The consistent and focused poverty alleviation measures that the government has undertaken shows a positive effect on the reduction of poverty,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters.

“But, of course, we would always prefer to do better than what we have done now.”

In a separate statement, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. noted that the poverty incidence dropped by three points from the first quarter of 2012 to the same period the following year, based on the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) of the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Coloma said the same survey also showed a 2.7-point decrease in the “proportion of extremely poor Filipino individuals who could not afford to meet basic food requirements” during the same period.

Lacierda pointed out that the level of poverty described in the latest SWS survey was “self-rated.”

“How come the people think that way? I don’t know. It’s a perception of the person so you really have to ask them,” he said.

“We respect those surveys. But, again, the effort [to reduce poverty is] continuous. Regardless of what the surveys say, we have a focused approach to addressing poverty issues.”

Up in Metro Manila, Luzon

Across areas, self-rated poverty increased in Metro Manila by six points, from 37 percent to 43 percent and in Luzon outside Metro Manila by seven points, from 45 percent to 52 percent.

Self-rated poverty fell in Mindanao by 10 points, from 71 percent to 61 percent and in Visayas by nine points, from 74 percent to 65 percent.

Self-rated food poverty went up from 27 percent to 30 percent in Metro Manila and from 32 percent to 37 percent in Luzon outside Metro Manila.

It barely moved in the Visayas, from 54 percent to 53 percent while it declined from 55 percent to 52 percent in Mindanao.

Under the Aquino administration, self-rated poverty ratings ranged between 45 percent and 55 percent, while self-rated food poverty ratings hovered between 35 percent and 45 percent.

The median self-rated poverty threshold, which is the monthly budget that would satisfy the poorer half of the poor households, rose in Metro Manila (from P12,000 to P15,000).

It stayed at P10,000 in the rest of Luzon and in Mindanao. In the Visayas, it dropped from P10,000 to P8,000.

“The September 2014 median self-rated poverty thresholds in Metro Manila, [the rest of] Luzon and Mindanao are at the highest levels ever reached in those areas, while the latest figure in the Visayas was previously surpassed in June 2014, when it was at P10,000,” SWS said.

The median self-rated food poverty threshold, the monthly food budgets that food-poor households need in order not to consider themselves food-poor, rose in Metro Manila (from P6,000 to P8,000), in Luzon outside Metro Manila (from P5,000 to 5,250) and in Mindanao (from P4,500 to P5,000). It declined in the Visayas (from P5,000 to P3,550).

SWS noted that the September median self-rated food-poverty thresholds in Mindanao and the rest of Luzon were the highest levels in those areas, while the September level in Metro Manila had been surpassed in the past.

In the Visayas, the highest level so far was the P5,000 recorded in June.

Latest data from the government’s Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (Apis) in 2013 showed that the poverty incidence among Filipino families was estimated at 19.1 percent in the first semester of 2013, lower than the 22.3 percent in the first semester of 2012.

The report, released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in April, also showed that poverty incidence among Filipinos stood at 24.9 percent, lower than the 27.9 percent in the first semester of 2012.

The PSA now reports estimates of poverty incidence using income data from the Apis. Previous reports were based on the Family Income and Expenditure Survey conducted every three years.–Ana Roa, Inquirer Research and Christian V. Esguerra

15M PH kids hungry–Poe Leila B. Salaverria @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer
12:17 AM | Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

SENATOR URGES GOV’T TO DEAL WITH CRISIS


EYEING HUNGER Sen. Grace Poe (left) calls for an increased budget for feeding programs for children like this tot (right), in a privilege speech at the Senate on Monday. PHOTO OF SENATOR POE COURTESY OF THE SENATE/RIGHT PHOTO BY ARNOLD ALMACEN


MANILA, Philippines–It’s the paradox of our times: A great number of Filipinos, including 15 million children, remain hungry or malnourished while the Philippine economy continues to soar, Sen. Grace Poe lamented on Monday, as she called for concrete action to address this scourge.

Poe said the government and every Filipino should do their part to help end hunger.

“We shouldn’t allow the applause of rating agencies drown out the grumbling of empty stomachs,” she said in a privilege speech.

“We should let the issue of hunger gnaw at bureaucracy’s thick walls or the officialdom’s thick hides the way an ulcer lacerates the gut,” she said.

Poe called for an increase in the budget next year for children’s feeding programs, which could be done by doing away with “frivolous” budgetary items.

She also called for sincere efforts to invest in and improve agricultural programs by giving these sufficient funding.

The neophyte senator encouraged civic action to help end hunger, including small deeds that, taken together, could go a long way.

For instance, politicians could donate the tarpaulins they use as “greeting cards” to farmers who could use these as drying mats for their crops.

Poe, in her speech, took note of a recent Social Weather Stations survey that found that 43 percent, or some 9.3 million families, considered themselves “food-poor.”

Based on the 8th National Nutrition Survey, 7.36 million children below the age of 5 are malnourished.

* But the Food and Agriculture Organization provided a higher estimate of 15 million malnourished children, bigger than Metro Manila’s population, Poe said.

“Hunger in this supposed time of economic growth is the paradox of our times,” she said.

Suffering amid excesses

Amid abundance and excesses, many Filipinos continue to want and suffer, she said.

“This is a country where skinny street kids share one bowl of instant noodles under the foot of neon ads selling liposuction for the obese. This is a country where there is a fried or roasted chicken stand in every corner but the bestseller in the slums do not come in buckets but out of garbage cans—the pagpag double-fried chicken,” she said.

Garbage food

Pagpag is known as garbage food, often leftover chicken, which the poor get from garbage bins of fast-food outlets and then washed and refried for them to eat or sell.

If government data would be used as basis, the senator said few Filipinos should grow hungry.

For instance, the Philippines has a 100-percent self-sufficiency rate in crops like coconuts, sweet potatoes, bananas, sugar, cabbage and eggplant; in fish such as tilapia, milkfish, round scad and tuna; and in poultry like chicken and duck eggs.

The country is also nearly self-sufficient in rice and corn, she noted.

But despite this abundance, many do not have the money to buy sufficient food.

“Today, a minimum wage worker in Cebu City must work 5 1/2 hours to buy a kilo of beef. If a plantation worker in Negros wants to treat his family to tinolang manok, he will have to work a half day to buy 1 kilo of chicken,” she said.

Even vegetables are beyond the reach of many workers.

Sleep to ease hunger

As a result, many Filipinos have turned to sleep to assuage their hunger or to use soy sauce, bagoong (shrimp paste), tomato, salt and coffee to flavor their meager meals, Poe said.

Poe stressed the importance of giving children sufficient food. “But as in any social problem, hunger, like war, punishes the children most.”

Stunted kids

Without sufficient nutrition, children’s motor development slows down and their cognitive skills become stunted. Those who weigh less score low in tests and learn less than their classmates, the senator said.

Children who frequently miss meals are also likely to miss classes, she added.

It’s the country’s future that is being jeopardized, she said.

“And this has a long-term negative impact on the development of our human capital. We cannot build the foundation of our future on emaciated bodies who are no longer in school. No nation on Earth can,” she said.

Budget nutrient-deficient

Poe said the P2.6-trillion national budget for 2015 was “child-nutrient deficient.”

She said the P4.6 billion under the Department of Education (DepEd) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), allocated for serving occasional meals to severely wasted children and a supplementary feeding program for children in daycare, was grossly insufficient.

The budget per meal under the DSWD program is P13.60 while that under the DepEd is P16 per child.

This is below the P50 per meal allocated for inmates of the national penitentiary, Poe pointed out.

“Surely, we can raise the meal budget for our kids to national penitentiary standards,” she said.

Scrap frivolous programs

“Let us then create budget space for programs that will fill the empty stomachs of our young. I will not enumerate them, but the proposed budget is littered with frivolous programs we can do without.”

She sought the passage of her school-feeding program bill.

Poe said it was time to be sincere in improving agriculture, especially since the Philippine population continues to grow, with 200 babies born every hour.

She noted that only 55 percent of potentially irrigable areas, or 1.67 of 3 million, are serviced by irrigation.

But for 2015, the “measly” target is to bring irrigation to just 26,155 hectares for the first time.

“At this pace, it will take us half a century to develop our full irrigation potential,” she said.

She said the P88.8 billion for agriculture for 2015 must be used properly. “We should ensure that most of the funds will go to farmers, in time, in full, for the right project, at the right place, and the right price.”

Eye in the sky

There must be a Google-Earth program with farm projects geo-tagged per location, per project, per cost, she said.

“It is not enough that we can observe bidding. We need an eye in the sky. In this regard, I will push for a provision in the national budget that the status of all projects related to food and feeding can be accessed through the click of a mouse,” she said.

Poe said fighting hunger need not always involve grand programs.

For instance, stopping crooked cops from mulcting from buko (coconut) vendors or trucks that deliver meat will help bring down the cost of food.

Removing regulatory roadblocks, which make it cheaper to import corn from Minnesota than from Mindanao, will also make a big difference.

The government could buy fertilizers in bulk and use its purchasing muscle to lower prices, or could start a lease-to-own program for farm implements.

It could also promote urban gardening, Poe added.

The government should likewise respect the food growers’ right to land.

Small deeds could also go a long way, she said.

Food bank, school kitchens

Residents of affluent villages could start a food bank for the poor, while restaurant owners could donate leftovers to soup or school kitchens.

Politicians could also resist the urge to self-promote using outsized tarpaulins and donate these to farmers to be used as drying mats. The same challenge goes to owners of giant billboards, she said.

“Trust me, an upright commercial advertising tarp will do more by lying horizontal,” she added.

For those planning reunions, instead of soliciting lechon, they could use the money for a pig dispersal program.

Owners of corporations could also turn their corporate social responsibility programs into hunger-mitigation projects, Poe said.

FROM THE TRIBUNE

Inclusive growth, good governance fail — polls Written by Joshua L. Labonera Tuesday, 28 October 2014 00:00


CULLED FROM THE EQUALIZER POST DOT COM BLOG: CLICK THE IMAGE TO VIEW THE ENTIRE COLLAGE.

The results of two surveys released yesterday were an indictment on the Aquino administration’s failure on both the inclusive growth and good governance fronts.

A Social Weather Station (SWS) in its third quarter survey showed 55 percent of respondents rating themselves poor while a joint survey undertaken by communications consultancy firm EON and the Ateneo Graduate School of Business (AGSB) showed the government among the least trusted of social institutions mainly due to perceptions of corruption.

With a total of 1,200 respondents, self-rated poverty incidence, or families who tag themselves as poor, remains virtually the same for the year with 55 percent based on the results of a September survey compared to 55 percent in June and 53 percent in March, the SWS indicated.

The survey showed majority of families who see themselves as poor were from Visayas and Mindanao with 65 percent and 61 percent, respectively. The National Capital Region’s poverty incidence is the highest since 2013, with 43 percent.

Luzon also peaked with 52 percent on the latest study. Among those asked based on type of food eaten by their families, 43 percent declared themselves food poor or going hungry once in a day with majorities being in Visayas and Mindanao (53 percent and 52 percent, respectively).

People in NCR also named themselves poor in terms of food they consume with 30 percent, which was the highest level in surveys undertaken this year. Luzon also reported a high incidence since the first quarter on the same query, counting 37 percent.

* The EON-AGSB survey, meanwhile, showed the Church as the most trusted among social institutions getting the vote from 68.1 percent of respondents, followed by the academe with 45.1 percent, and media with 32.3 percent.

The government followed with 15 percent, non-government organizations with 12.2 percent and the business sector the least trusted with 8.9 percent.

The survey called the Philippine Trust Index, also showed that for the government to gain more public trust, it should show qualities of freeing itself from graft and corruption, helping the poor and officials being truthful to their campaign promises.

Among the key findings of the survey are: corruption-free government is desired but delivery of promises is needed to be trusted; businesses treatment of its employees is an important driver of trust; trust in NGOs is singularly driven by its ability to help those in need; trust in media is mainly driven by attribute of truthfulness and fairness; the Church must provide spiritual guidance to be trusted; and the quality of teachers is a critical driver in trusting educational institutions.

Press Secretary Edwin Lacierda said the Palace respects the results of the SWS poll but it seeks to listen more on the survey the government conducts, anchoring on the difference on the number of respondents between theirs and the SWS.

“I think there are surveys that show that there is optimism among Filipinos. It is hard for us to comment on those questions that you’ve mentioned. The survey here was conducted with 1200 respondents, the AP survey has a minimum of 10,000 respondents,” Lacierda said, in response to the query on how come Filipinos find themselves poor.

“We are not questioning their process, we are just saying that the survey conducted by the government, has more respondents which means there’s more detailed results on the statistics on poverty,” Lacierda added.

The Palace official said the surveys are self-rated, which refers to how the people appreciate their own status on the notion of the questions raised in conducting the study.

Lacierda told the press that the administration will continue to address the concerns of the people on poverty, despite the survey.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Gov’t willing to work with Poe to feed poor kids Christian V. Esguerra, Gil C. Cabacungan, Leila B. Salaverria | Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:43 AM | Wednesday, October 29th, 2014


Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma: Prepared to work with Senator Poe INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–Malacañang is willing to work with Sen. Grace Poe in addressing hunger and malnutrition problems, especially among children.

“According to Secretary Dinky Soliman, the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) is prepared to work with Senator Poe’s office in prioritizing areas verified to have high rates of malnutrition among children,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said in a text message.

“We would like to continue working with Congress in giving poverty reduction and social protection (which includes the fight against malnutrition) the highest priority in resource allocation, as already embodied in the proposed 2015 national budget,” Coloma added.

In a privilege speech on Monday, Poe said a big number of Filipinos, including children, remained hungry or malnourished although the Philippine economy continued to expand.

Poe called for an increase in the 2015 budget for children’s feeding program by doing away with “frivolous” budgetary items.

Sen. Ralph Recto on Tuesday identified the overhead expenses for the government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program for 2015 as one source of funds that could be rechanneled to expand government feeding programs, amid the rising number of hungry Filipinos.

Recto said part of the P7.6-billion administrative cost of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) for 2015, up from P5 billion in 2014, could be reduced and the funds allocated to feed starving children.

The budget for the program is under the DSWD.

Payroll, monitoring

Recto noted that the administrative costs included personnel payroll of P3.35 billion, monitoring cost of P429 million, and publicity and information cost of P115 million.

He said he would check the justifications for these amounts, some of which constituted “hefty” increases.

“Is the almost 185-percent increase in the publicity budget really necessary? Why are we increasing the payroll by P1.4 billion? Why are we doubling the allocation for monitoring to P430 million?” he said.

* He also wondered why, if the cash grant to poor Filipinos would remain at P57 billion for next year, the administrative expenses would increase by P2.6 billion.

Recto, chair of the Senate finance subcommittee reviewing the DSWD budget, said that if the administrative costs for the CCT program would be retained at the 2015 level, there would be P2.6 billion that could be allocated for supplemental feeding.

“We’re done with the hearings. I am now drafting my subcommittee report. I will recommend some internal adjustments in the DSWD budget,” he said in a statement.

Daycare pupils

Recto said that once he had identified the funds that could be realigned, he would recommend that these be moved to the feeding program for daycare pupils.

The DSWD’s feeding program consists of serving one hot meal a day for 120 days to over 2 million children in daycare centers or under supervised neighborhood play.

Recto said the Senate could increase the P14 per meal budget or increase the number of beneficiaries.

He also said the supplemental feeding program could be included in other under-funded DSWD programs, such as the street children program that targets only 3,000 kids.

He also noted that the DSWD budget for 2015 would rise to P109 billion, a P25.5-billion increase from its 2014 allocation, It is in the top 5 of the biggest recipients of allocations from the national government.

The bulk of the budget is for the CCT program.

Child Nutrition Act

In the House of Representatives, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said his group shared Poe’s view that child hunger was one of the country’s most pressing problems.

Colmenares said Bayan Muna had filed the proposed “Child Nutrition Act” as an alternative to the CCT program to ensure that all elementary and high school students would have access to nutritious food.

“The Aquino administration must allot more funds for this rather than to debt servicing, DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) or pork barrel. The problem of hunger can be solved in the long term by implementing genuine agrarian reform, modernizing agriculture and nationalizing industrialization,” said Colmenares.

Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe said that the government’s 4Ps program had fallen short of being the panacea to poverty and hunger.

“The 2015 budget actually is geared toward achieving inclusive growth but as always, we always fail in the implementation of the program. I believe what is needed is to enhance the absorptive capacity of the agencies, ensure transparency and accountability of public funds, strengthen public spending in the countryside, institutionalize disaster preparedness and response, and enhance the capacities of our institutions to deliver social services to our people especially in the rural areas,” said Batocabe.

He said plugging these loopholes or leakages in the delivery of social services would ensure that progress would trickle down to the masses.

Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo said House leaders were crafting a bill creating a National Food Assistance Office, which would get P20 billion in seed money from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

“The rationalization of their budget could provide concrete food programs to reverse the situation. The private sector should also be tapped by providing them tax credits or subsidies on any food programs their companies could initiate. The new office, if approved, should be under the Office of the President and can source out other allocations to implement various projects in arresting this socioeconomic problem,” Castelo said.

Aquino: No more 2nd term; NOT ‘RIGHT SOLUTION’ TO SUSTAIN PH ECONOMIC GROWTH
Nikko Dizon @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:08 AM | Wednesday, October 29th, 2014


LISTENING TO THE VOICE OF HIS BOSS President Aquino says he is ruling out a second term during the 13th CEO forum of the semiconductor and electronics industries in the Philippines at the Peninsula Manila in Makati City on Tuesday. GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

MANILA, Philippines–President Aquino on Tuesday said having a second term would not be the “right solution” to sustain the Philippines’ economic growth beyond 2016, in the most categorical answer he has made to the question of whether he is open to extending his term.

“There are some quarters that were saying I should try and go for a second term. I don’t think that’s a right solution,” Aquino said at a general membership meeting of the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines (SEIPI).

The President made the remark in answer to a question by a SEIPI member about how the Philippines could maintain or increase its competitiveness when the Asean economic integration begins in 2015.

The Asean is the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which the Philippines is a founding member.

Aquino was also asked how sustainable the Philippines’ economic growth would be after 2016.

“We all have a timecard in this world and we have to prepare for the eventuality of being called to meet our Maker. So, there has to be that continuation of people of like minds who will deliver on the promises that are real and not just self-serving or nice (or) pleasant to hear,” he said.

Choosing right leader

* The President also said that to ensure the Philippines’ competitiveness and economic growth, he would “vote for the right candidate.”

He urged his audience to do the same, saying choosing the right leader was “really a collective effort.”

Aquino asked them “to discern properly as to who is extolling populist sentiments with no substance, as opposed to (one) who not only says the right things but who you can trust to deliver the same.”

Since August, the President has been coy when asked about the possibility of running for a second term.

What people want

In September, he told the Inquirer he was open to the idea because he did not want the gains of his administration to go to waste, while fending off those who wanted to destabilize his administration.

In an interview with reporters during his visit to Europe last month, Aquino said there was still time to amend the Constitution and lift the provision limiting presidents to one term if “the vast majority” thought it should be done.

Aquino and his spokespersons have been saying he would listen to what his “bosses”—the Filipino people—would say about a second term for him.

Charter amendments

In a survey conducted by Pulse Asia, the results of which were published early this month, six out of 10 Filipinos—or 62 percent—opposed amending the Constitution and allowing a second term for Aquino.

More than calling for a second term, Aquino has been advocating for Charter amendments to remedy the Supreme Court’s judicial “overreach,” after the high court struck down as unconstitutional portions of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

A second term for Aquino is a highly controversial proposition.

When Aquino in August appeared to hint at such a possibility, he quickly ran into opposition in a nation still haunted by the dictatorial rule of the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

Scars left by Marcos

The Philippines is still coping with the scars left by Marcos, who declared martial law in 1972 in order to stay in power.

Marcos was overthrown in the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution after years of human rights abuses and massive corruption.

Aquino’s parents were both prodemocracy leaders who opposed Marcos.

Aquino’s ally and potential presidential contender, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, has lagged in election surveys behind Vice President Jejomar Binay.–With a report from Agence France-Presse

PHILSTAR NEWS ANALYSIS

News Analysis: Hunger, poverty continue to hound Aquino government (philstar.com) | Updated October 28, 2014 - 11:30pm 0 3 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - Forty three percent, or some 9.3 million Filipinos, considered themselves food-poor or hungry while 55 percent, or 12.1 million Filipino families, considered themselves poor, according to a survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS), a respected survey firm here.

The nationwide survey, conducted from Sept. 26 to 29, also found out that the number of people who lacked food at 43 percent in September was slightly higher than the 41 percent recorded in June this year.

But citing statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Senator Grace Poe said the number of malnourished Filipino children could be as high as 15 million, even bigger than Metro Manila's total population.

"Hunger in this supposed time of economic growth is the paradox of our times," Poe said in a speech she delivered in the Philippine Senate Monday.

Poe, a political ally of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, called on the government to take concrete actions to address this scourge.

Both the World Bank and the Manila-based Asian Development Bank have also urged the Aquino government to undertake measures that would ensure inclusive growth in the Philippines so that the economic benefits could trickle down to majority of the Filipinos who are poor.

* Earlier, Socio-economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan has admitted that although economic growth had remained strong, it had failed to lift as many people out of poverty as expected.

The Philippines had originally projected that 16.6 percent of its 100 million people would still be living in poverty by 2016.

But Balisacan said the poverty rate was now forecast to be 18- 20 percent by 2016, when President Benigno Aquino's term ends.

"This new target takes into consideration the slow response of poverty to economic growth beginning in 2006 and the setback in 2013 due to the wide-scale destruction resulting from natural and man-made disasters," Balisacan said.

In her speech, Poe called for an increase in the government budget next year for children's feeding programs, which could be taken from what she termed as "frivolous" budgetary items.

She also lamented that while there is abundance and excesses among a few, many Filipinos continue to feel hunger and suffer from extreme poverty.

"This is a country where skinny street kids share one bowl of instant noodles under the foot of neon ads selling liposuction for the obese. This is a country where there is a fried or roasted chicken stand in every corner but the best sellers in slums do not come in buckets but out of garbage cans-the pagpag double-fried chicken," she said.

Pagpag is known as garbage food, often leftover chicken, which the poor get from garbage bins of fast-food outlets and then washed and refried for them to eat or sell.

Many Filipinos have turned to sleep to assuage their hunger or to use soy sauce, bagoong (shrimp paste), tomato, salt and coffee to flavor their meager meals, Poe said.

Poe stressed the importance of giving children sufficient food. "But as in any social problem, hunger, like war, punishes the children most."

Without sufficient nutrition, children's motor development slows down and their cognitive skills become stunted. Those who weigh less score low in tests and learn less than their classmates, the senator said.

In reacting to the SWS survey, Malacanang, the seat of government, maintained that the government's anti-poverty measures are working and benefiting majority of the Filipinos.

At a press conference Monday, presidential spokesman Secretary Edwin Lacierda cited the old data of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) showing a decrease in poverty incidence from 27.9 percent during the first semester of 2012, to 24.9 percent in 2013.

President Aquino used the same figures in his State of the Nation Address that he delivered before a joint session of Congress last July to show what his administration had achieved in curbing poverty.

"The consistent and focused poverty alleviation measures that the government has undertaken show a positive effect on the reduction of poverty," Lacierda told reporters.

"But, of course, we would always prefer to do better than what we have done now," he added.

In a separate statement, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. also used the same two-year old figures based on the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) of the Philippine Statistics Authority to refute the SWS findings.

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

PNoy says emergency powers no longer viable By ANDREO CALONZO, GMA NewsOctober 28, 2014 6:45pm 4 19 0 90 Tags: Benigno Aquino III

President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday admitted that seeking emergency powers from Congress was no longer a viable solution to the looming power crisis next year.

In an open forum with the semiconductors and electronics sector, Aquino said having authority to contract generating plants for additional electricity reserves was no longer possible because the legislature has yet to pass the measure.

"Unfortunately, there is a need of six months to install these facilities to include all of the civil works attendant to it," the President said.

"Congress has not given us that power as of yet.... So that doesn’t seem to be an option at this point in time," he added.

Last month, Aquino asked Congress for emergency powers that would give him authority to enter into contracts to raise the generating capacity and fill the projected power reserves deficit.

He said this was allowed under Section 71 or the Electric Power Crisis Provision under Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA).

The provision states that: "Upon determination by the President of the Philippines of an imminent shortage of the supply of electricity, Congress may authorize, through a joint resolution, the establishment of additional generating capacity."

Senator Sergio "Serge" Osmeña III, Senate energy committee chairman, already said last week that there was no longer time and a need for Aquino to be granted emergency powers.

ILP not enough

Instead of granting Aquino's request, the House of Representatives drafted a joint resolution last week authorizing the executive to establish additional capacity for the Luzon grid next year by tapping privately-owned generator sets.

* During the open forum, Aquino once again warned that the government couldn't bank on privately-owned generator sets to augment thin power reserves expected next summer.

"My caution is, these backup generators are precisely that: back up generators, not base load plants," Aquino said.

He, nevertheless, assured business leaders present during the event that the government was exerting all efforts to prevent an emergency situation next year.

Earlier in the day, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali said Congress could exempt companies under the interruptible load program (ILP) from paying value-added tax (VAT) for a specific period to encourage them to help government address the power reserves shortage.

Under the ILP, private firms that are heavy users of electricity will receive compensation from the government if they disconnect from the grid and use their own generators during peak load hours in the day so as not to tax so much the supply grid. —KBK/NB, GMA News

MANILA BULLETIN EDITORIAL

Editorial: Welcome news from the north November 3, 2014 Share this:



Amid the reports of an impending electric power shortage of about 300 megawatts in the summer of 2015 comes the welcome news that 250 megawatts from wind energy will be available starting this year until early 2015.

Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla of the Department of Energy said he visited three wind projects in Ilocos Norte – the 33-mw Bangui Windmills of Northwind Power Development Corp., the 150-mw Burgos wind farm of the Energy Development Corp., and the 81-mw Pagudpud project of the North Luzon Renewable Energy Corp.

In the South, the first and largest solar plant of the Thomas Lloyd Group of Switzerland opened a 13-mw phase of its 32-mw project in San Carlos City in Negros Occidental. It said it expects to open the final phase within months.

The Congress of the Philippines enacted the Renewable Energy Act in 2008 to accelerate the exploration and development of renewable energy resources in the country, including biomass, solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and ocean energy sources.

Even before the act was passed, the Philippines was already known in the world for its geothermal energy program. As of 2010, the country already had a total capacity of 1,904 megawatts, second only to the United States which had 3,093 megawatts.

* Today, 33 percent of our energy needs is produced by coal, 18 percent by oil, and 17 percent by natural gas. Only 19 percent is produced by hydro, 9 percent by geothermal, and minimal percentages by wind and biomass. The country’s dependence on fossil fuels has made the price of electricity in the Philippines among the highest in Asia. This is said to be the biggest deterrent to foreign investors who want to set up manufacturing plants in the country.

And yet we have considerable resources that we can develop in this country of so many windy islands, sunny weather, and geothermal sites along with fertile soil that could grow plants for biomass energy.

Our Congress saw the great potential of these resources as early as 2008 when it passed the Renewable Energy Act. We need to focus on these abundant resources to reduce our costly imports of coal and oil as we reduce the pollution and the ill effects of climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

With the good news from the north and the announced plan of several private firms to use their own generators during the critical period, there may be no need for the government to contract additional power this summer.

And no need for any emergency power for the President.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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