PIDS in the News Archived (November 2014)

The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) has identified some serious technical problems and issues in the countrys irrigation systems that need to be resolved immediately.

A new study by PIDS noted that irrigation has been receiving the largest share of the total agriculture budget but its performance has always been below expectation.

The proposed 2015 national budget allocated around P29 billion for the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), which undertakes all government irrigation projects.

For years, the actual irrigated areas for most irrigation systems in the country had all been consistently below the target. The study pointed out that this has been due mainly to overestimation of irrigable areas by not fully accounting for built-up areas or urbanization, flooded areas during the wet season, and elevated areas that cannot be reached by gravity irrigation systems.

The findings of this study titled, Appraisal of Methodology in Estimating Irrigable Areas and Processes of Evaluating Feasibility of NIA Irrigation Projects, are intended to be used as inputs to the budget process.

The study looked into four irrigation systems in the country " Angat-Maasim River Irrigation System (AMRIS) in Bulacan, Balog-Balog Irrigation System in Tarlac, Pampanga Delta Irrigation System, and Casecnan-Upper Pampanga River Irrigation System (UPRIS) in Pampanga.

For the Angat-Maasim River Irrigation System, which has service area of 31,400 hectares, the actual irrigated area had declined to an average of about 17,500 hectares in the last 10 years from the original 22,000 hectares or so in the 1970s. According to the study, a total of 8,000 hectares of the 31,400 hectares target area in AMRIS is not irrigable.

About 3,500 hectares of the total area has an elevation of 19 meters and thus cannot be irrigated from the Bustos dam, which has a maximum crest elevation of 18.5 meters. In addition, around 4,500 hectares of the AMRIS area had been built up with residential, commercial, and industrial infrastructure, explained study authors Cristina David and Guillermo Tabios, both consultants of PIDS.

There is also a perceived competing water use, as in the case of AMRIS, between domestic water supply and irrigation water. But it appears that both can be supplied by the Angat Reservoir as a common water source.

However, during critical dry periods such as El Nio events, there may be a need to curtail irrigation water deliveries in accordance with the Philippine Water Code of 1976, which requires that domestic water supply be given higher priority than irrigation water supply.//

Author: Edu Lopez
Date: November 24, 2014
Source: Manila Bulletin

MAKATI CITY, Nov 24 -- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI and the Board of Investments (BOI) will conduct a forum titled Industry Roadmaps and the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Game Plan: Regional Roadmaps for Competitiveness on November 26 at Diversion 21 Hotel, Iloilo City. The Keynote Message will be delivered by DTI Secretary Gregory L. Domingo.



The Forum will focus on the crucial role of industrial development in the integration process of ASEAN. Likewise, the forum will inform stakeholders of the opportunities and challenges in ASEAN. Similar fora will be held in Cebu City on December 2 at Marco Polo Plaza Hotel and in Davao City on December 4 at Apo View Hotel.



The AEC aims to establish a single market and production base with free movement of goods, services and investments across the ten ASEAN member countries.



Other forum speakers include Dr. Cielito R. Habito, Chief of Party USAID Trade-Related Assistance for Development Project; Dr. Rafaelita M. Aldaba, DTI Assistant Secretary; Ms. Ro-Ann A. Bacal, Regional Director, National Economic Development Authority Region VI; Dr. Roehlano Briones, Senior Research Fellow Philippine Institute for Development Studies; Mr. Francis Penaflor, BOI Sectoral Champion for Food Processing; and Ms. Marie Annette Dacul, Agribusiness Specialist, Center for Food and Agribusiness, University of Asia and the Pacific.



Dr. Habito will discuss the AEC 2015 and the National Development Agenda while Dr. Aldaba will discuss the Philippine New Industrial Policy for More Competitive Regional Economies. Other speakers and the topics that they will discuss are as follows: Ms. Bacal - Potentials and Challenges in the Region, Dr. Briones - Strategy for the Agribusiness Industry, Mr. Penaflor - Rapid Industry Appraisal Processed Meat Sector, Ms. Dacul - Rapid Industry Appraisal Processed Shrimp Sector.



Participants from various chambers of commerce, business support organizations, the academe, LGUs, representatives of various government agencies, NGOs, consumer organizations and the media are expected to attend the forum.



The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Board of Investments (BOI) launched the Industry Roadmapping Project (IRP) in January 2012. The IRP continues to forge strategic partnerships with industry stakeholders, particularly the private sector, in the development of industry roadmaps that defines its vision, goals, and targets, in the short, medium, and long term, assesses the industrys state and economic performance, identifies the binding constraints to its growth, and recommends strategies for industry upgrading and development.



To date, thirty (30) sectoral roadmaps have been submitted to the BOI, of which, 25 roadmaps have been completed. These sectoral roadmaps are the building blocks of the Manufacturing Industry Roadmap (MIR) and the Comprehensive National Industrial Strategy (CNIS). The MIR, finalized in 2013, consolidates the roadmaps submitted to the BOI while the CNIS is envisioned to be the blueprint for the overall industrial development strategy and will cover agriculture, manufacturing, and services.



For details on how to participate in the forum in your region, contact:

Iloilo DTI VI

Contact Person : Aurora Bangcaya/Dinda Tamayo

Telephone : 033-335-0060

Mobile : 0917-301-6694

Email : madindatamayo@dti.gov.ph



Cebu DTI-VII

Contact Person : Ms. Mimi Yap / Ms Grace Durano

Telephone : 032-255-0036 loc 302

Mobile : 0917-300-5802

Email : dtiro7.mdy@gmail.com



Davao DTI-XI

Contact Person : Mr. Vedastito Galvez / Mr. Julz Loquinario

Telephone : 082-224-0511

Mobile : 0908-867-0518

Email : r11@dti.gov.ph



(DTI-PRU)

Author:
Date: November 24, 2014
Source: PIA

Exactly thirty days from today, we will be celebrating Christmas. The Christmas season is the longest celebration we observe in the Philippines. It starts as early as first week of November right after All Saints and All Souls Day rituals. Mall stores are the first ones to spruce up their stalls with Christmas decorations.
Thats how Christmas celebration has been commercialized. Its not only here in the Philippines but people all over the world have come to associate the Christmas season with increased commerce and more goods and holiday items to celebrate the season.
Thus, many employers, including the government, give out their Christmas bonuses to their employees as early as possible.
It would have been a merrier Christmas this year for the many fixed-income earners had our legislators approved on time the proposed law passed upon already by both chambers of the 16th Congress. This is the bill that would have increased to P82,000 the cap on tax exemption of 13th month pay and other bonuses of employees in both the public and private sectors.
The existing ceiling under Republic Act 7833 mandates the 13th month pay and other benefits such as productivity incentives and Christmas bonuses, not exceeding P30,000 given to both government and private sector employees, are exempted from income tax.
As it turned out, it was an intentional delay that they, pro-administration lawmakers agreed to, upon the prodding " or should we say arm-twisting " of the executive branch. The principal authors and sponsors of this bill at the Senate admitted they were prevailed upon to delay approval of this bill, lest it impair the governments finances if the law takes effect this year.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto and Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara have separately confessed they got marching orders from no less than Senate president Franklin Drilon. As relayed to them by the Senate chief, the Department of Finance (DOF) had lobbied for this bill not to be passed this year.
Actually, the DOF has strongly opposed the approval of this bill long before it finally advanced in the 16th Congress. The past leaderships in the DOF before its incumbent Secretary Cesar Purisima took over had successfully thwarted the original bills earlier filed in the previous Congresses.
Angara noted the DOFs vehement objections to his proposed bill as it tried to block its consideration at various stages through the legislative mill in both chambers.
Since it is a tax measure, the proposed bill must emanate from the House of Representatives to approve this first before the Senate approves its counterpart bill.
As the chairman of the Senate committee on ways and means, Angara steered this bill through to its final stage.
He immediately sponsored the bill late October after receiving the Houses version. A congressman for three terms and now a neophyte senator, Angara carried the ball for this bills approval despite stiff efforts by the DOF to block it.
It paid off with the approval of the bill on second reading last week. It needs to be approved on third and final reading. But the legislative process does not end there. This will still go through the bicameral conference committee to reconcile and consolidate the Senate and House versions of the bill. After which, the consolidated measure goes back for approval of both chambers.
The enrolled bill then goes for the approval and signature by the President. But before this happens, the enrolled bill is given back to the DOF/BIR for final review. They could recommend either its approval or veto.
Angaras original proposal under Senate Bill 2437, aims to increase the ceiling to P75,000. At the public hearings conducted, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) commissioner Kim Henares testified that the P30,000 ceiling in 1994 when the existing RA 7833 was approved into law would be equivalent to around P82,000 at present value.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) validated the BIR chiefs estimate during the same public hearing based on the amounts as adjusted using the inflation of October this year. Based on this estimate, Recto filed a similar proposal but raising the ceiling to P82,000 to restore, as he rightly pointed out, the value of the peso which has been lost to inflation through the years.
From economic calculations, Recto cited, one peso today is worth about 36 centavos. Adjusted to inflation, the present ceiling of P30,000 was adjusted to P82,000 as corrected in the Recto bill.
The two senators, however, debunked the claims of the BIR of the potential P26.8 billion in revenues that the government would lose if this bill would be approved into law. In particular, Angara observed how the DOF has given them conflicting figures on revenue loss, from as high as P43 billion to P39 billion, and later on, they pegged it at P26 billion.
The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and other economists though presented their own estimations at the Senate public hearing that pegged the possible revenue loss could amount to P3.5 billion to as high as P7.3 billion. This was based on the affected sector of employees from the middle class, estimated at 442,000 individual income taxpayers.
The BIR is so afraid that it would not reach its revenue target for 2014 if the bill would cover bonuses for this year. Recto admitted he agreed that the bill be implemented in 2015 rather than lose the bill to presidential veto.
Practically speaking, the DOF/BIR can still stall the implementation of this measure even if this bill is approved into law this year. The DOF and the BIR would be mandated to draft the implementing rules and regulations to enforce the higher ceiling of exemption.
Obviously, however, the approval of such a populist bill is precisely being delayed to make it effective close to the campaign period for the May, 2016 presidential elections.
Unfortunately, the BIR depends largely on withholding taxes they automatically get from us fixed income earners to meet their revenue collection goals each year. One third of our monthly take-home pay goes to BIR. This is not to mention the other mandatory deductions being taken out from our monthly pay slips.
Getting the full amount of our 13th month pay or Christmas bonus, without tax cuts, would surely go a long way to stretch a little bit our purchasing power. But the DOF is playing to the hilt its role of Christmas scrooge. What is one more year of wait? A lot.//

Author: Marichu A. Villanueva
Date: November 24, 2014
Source: Philippine Star

The implementation of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) remain on track in achieving its objective of improving the health, nutrition, and education of its beneficiaries, according to the 2014 impact evaluation of the countrys conditional cash transfer program.
Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) senior researcher Dr. Aniceto Orbeta explained that the evaluation results show that Pantawid Pamilya is making progress as expected to convert public investments into desired societal results.
By extending aid from womb to school, the program keeps children healthy and in school, Orbeta said.
The World Bank-funded evaluation is based on a nationally representative sample and covers Set 1 to Set 4 Pantawid Pamilya areas, which were introduced into the program between 2008 and 2011.
The beneficiary households in the sample areas have been exposed to the program for two to four years at the time of data collection from October to December 2013.
The sample includes 5,041 households from 30 municipalities in 26 provinces.
World Bank Country Director Motoo Konishi has commended the 4Ps for the positive results.
This latest evaluation tells us that the program is delivering results that clearly benefit the poor and the most vulnerable. The World Bank, together with other development partners, supports Pantawid Pamilya because it is well-targeted and a direct way of helping poor households meet their basic needs while improving their human capital, meaning that their children stay in school and become healthier, Konishi said.
Improved healthcare services
The impact evaluation also showed that the 4Ps beneficiaries, particularly the mothers and their children, have better access to maternal care and basic health services.
It also found that there were more 4Ps mothers delivered in health facilities in the past five years, with seven in 10 live births among Pantawid Pamilya mothers compared to 5.5 in 10 births among non-beneficiary mothers.
Furthermore, child-beneficiaries have access to basic health services, such as vitamin and mineral supplementation that are vital to improving health outcomes.
Eighty-six percent of Pantawid Pamilya children aged six months to six years old received vitamin A supplementation compared to 73 percent among non-beneficiaries.
Thirty-five percent of child-beneficiaries receive iron supplementation compared to 23 percent non-beneficiaries.//


Author: Edu Lopez
Date: November 20, 2014
Source: Manila Bulletin

QUEZON CITY, 18 Nov. (PIA)--State think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) is recommending the review of selection process for tertiary scholarship program for the poor.

In a news release, PIDS said that granting financial aid to poor but deserving students to enroll in college is not enough. Government must help ensure these grantees finish their education through a proper selection process.

These were the recommendations in the latest study authored by PIDS consultant Denise Valerie Silfverberg entitled How should income-based grantees in tertiary education be chosen? a preliminary review of the Students Grants-In-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (SGP-PA) of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)

As a form of affirmative action, SGP-PA provides financially constrained but deserving students the opportunity to obtain college degrees and break the cycle of poverty. A related PIDS study published in 2013 found that the higher a persons educational attainment, the better are his chances to get employed and earn higher wages.

CHED and DSWD plan to expand the number of the programs recipients to 36,000 from the current 4,000 in the current academic year. Since the program was first implemented in AY 2012-2013, CHED selected the SGP-PA candidates from the DSWDs list of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) households. Selection was based on the following criteria: the candidates must be 16"30 years old; have completed high school; are not receiving a scholarship, grant, or funding; and must come from households who do not have any other college graduate.

The complex challenges to the SGP-PAs success became more obvious when the selection process was put under the discretion of the state universities and colleges (SUCs).

By looking at the selection and implementation stages of the program, and analyzing available data from two SUCs, Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMMSU) and Mindanao University of Science and Technology (MUST), Silfverberg identified some problems and provided possible interventions to fine-tune the program.

For example, having different policies to accommodate the program contributed to the variations in the SGP-PAs success rate. The SUCs implementing the SGP-PA were requested to waive the entrance exams and accommodate the potential beneficiaries identified in their area. DMMMSU heeded this request but MUST enforced its admission process, albeit lowering the passing grade a little for the grantees, she noted.

Comparisons between the household characteristics of grant recipients and ordinary tertiary students clearly reveal that the grantees were disadvantaged. These setbacks often affected the grantees abilities to perform well and finish their schooling.



Thus, it is essential, she says, that SUCs incorporate indicators such as admissions exams, social adaptation, and strategies to help grantees gain a developmental approach to their education.

Between DMMSU and MUST, the latter proved more persistent when it came to intervening in several aspects of the grantees student life. MUST provided avenues for socialization, and helped induce improved academic performance through assigned student tutoring and by waiving summer school fees for grantees to retake failed subjects. Meanwhile, DMMMSU enforced a buddy system and likewise offered counseling, explains Silfverberg.

The figures of grantees that dropped out of their college programs so far revealed the limits and complex challenges of the SGP-PA program. One reason, which is within the control of CHED and the SUCs, included the consequence of financial difficulties due to the fact that grantees did not receive their stipends on time.

Other reasons for dropping out were not related to academics, Silfverberg notes, such as pregnancy, health issues, familial obligations, behavioral issues, and homesickness. Meanwhile, 30 percent of grantees dropped out because they were uninterested or preferred to work.

Silfverberg recommends that CHED and DSWD refine their selection process and focus their efforts on finding candidate grantees that fit their initial criteria and who, at the same time, have the interest and ability to finish their education. The best available tool for gauging this would be admission exams, she said.

A more intensive and detailed information campaign of the availability of SGA-PA is also recommended. Those who are committed in sincerely obtaining tertiary education would avail of the program, which would improve the process of selection instead of scouting candidates from 4Ps beneficiaries.

She also recommends that SUCs take into consideration the cultural challenges experienced by the grantees when designing intervention programs. These interventions are necessary for the program objectives to be met. Grantees have to be well-adjusted academically and otherwise, which would then lead to a considerably higher likelihood of completing tertiary education, she concludes. (PIDS/RJB/SDL/PIA-NCR)//

Author:
Date: November 18, 2014
Source: PIA

THE Philippines needs to work on the global competitiveness of the countrys agricultural sector by opening up the rice sector to free trade with enough safety net, the government think tank said.

The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said in a statement on Thursday doing so would prepare the sector for the eventual expiration of the quantitative restriction (QR).

With the QR on import of rice, expected to be abolished in July 2017, in the Philippines, it is a need of the hour to work out an interim strategy to build the capacity of domestic farmers and other actors to face international competition, PIDS Senior Fellow Roehlano Briones said during the Third National Reference Group meeting in Manila.

The meeting discussed the key findings of the Philippines Diagnostic Country Report. It came up with a national advocacy plan, which used the Total Welfare Impact Simulator for Trade, a model for economic surplus analysis.

Using free trade scenario and import quota scenario, Briones said pursuing a free trade regime on rice sector will be the way forward for the country.

The free trade scenario model suggest that rice imports in 2013 would have been 3.8 billion tons higher than the actual 404,702 tons, Briones said citing a PIDS study. In such a scenario, the average retail price of rice at P33.70 per kilogram would drop to equal the border price of P19.80 per kilogram.

The PIDS study said consumer surplus will rise by P178 billion, more than offsetting the P34 billion and P5.6 billion decline in the producer surplus and the importers revenue respectively, resulting in a consumer surplus of P138 billion, or over $3 billion.

Using the import quota scenario, imports were relaxed and allowed to reach 1 million tons against the actual 404,702 tons in 2013.

The model suggests that retail prices would fall by P2.18 per kilogram, the study said.

With this scenario, consumer surplus would climb by P25.7 billion, while producer or farmer surplus would fall by P6.6 billion. Importers, however, would gain by P6 billion. The economy as a whole, according to this model, would benefit by P25 billion.

Briones explained that pursuing a free-trade regime in the rice sector will lead to an aggregate benefit of over $3 billion.

As the farmers have been mainly shielded from the necessary global competition in order to grow and received limited investment, they are unprepared for liberalization, according to a PIDS statement.

Further, along with the farmers, the millers and other members of the rice value chain are also expected to face losses, the statement said.

With the expected opening up of the import market, the PIDS noted the importance of safety nets to ensure protection of farmers and other stakeholders, which calls for an interim strategy that should be the focus of the Philippines government, especially since the QR is likely to not be renewed.
The meeting, the PIDS said, concluded that in the rice sector, a competitiveness package would be chalked out to prepare the rice chain for international market and the role of National Food Authority, which holds the import monopoly, would be revisited.//


Author: Alladin S. Diega
Date: November 13, 2014
Source: Malaya

Another study published by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) identified some serious technical problems and issues in the countrys irrigation systems that need to be resolved immediately.

The findings of the study titled, Appraisal of Methodology in Estimating Irrigable Areas and Processes of Evaluating Feasibility of NIA Irrigation Projects, commissioned by the National Economic and Development Authority and the Department of Budget and Management to PIDS, are intended to be used as inputs to the budget process.

The study looked into four irrigation systems in the country, namely, Angat-Maasim River Irrigation System (AMRIS) in Bulacan, Balog-Balog Irrigation System in Tarlac, Pampanga Delta Irrigation System, and Casecnan-Upper Pampanga River Irrigation System (UPRIS) in Pampanga.

The PIDS study pointed out that while irrigation has been receiving the largest share of the total agriculture budget, its performance has always been below expectation.

The proposed 2015 national budget allocated around P29 billion for the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), which undertakes all government irrigation projects.

The report said that for years, the actual irrigated areas for most irrigation systems in the country had all been consistently below the target.

The study pointed out that this has been due mainly to overestimation of irrigable areas by not fully accounting for built-up areas or urbanization, flooded areas during the wet season, and elevated areas that cannot be reached by gravity irrigation systems.

For the Angat-Maasim River Irrigation System, which has service area of 31,400 hectares, the actual irrigated area has declined to an average of about 17,500 hectares in the last 10 years from the original 22,000 hectares or so in the 1970s.

According to the study, a total of 8,000 hectares of the 31,400 hectares target area in AMRIS is not irrigable.

About 3,500 hectares of the total area has an elevation of 19 meters and thus cannot be irrigated from the Bustos dam, which has a maximum crest elevation of 18.5 meters, authors Cristina David and Guillermo Tabios, both consultants of PIDS, said.

In addition, around 4,500 hectares of the AMRIS area had been built up with residential, commercial, and industrial infrastructure, they added.

There is also a perceived competing water use, as in the case of AMRIS, between domestic water supply and irrigation water, the report said. But it appears that both can be supplied by the Angat Reservoir as a common water source.

However, the study said during critical dry periods such as El Nio events, there may be a need to curtail irrigation water deliveries in accordance with the Philippine Water Code of 1976, which requires that domestic water supply be given higher priority than irrigation water supply.

The same set of issues persists in the Pampanga Delta Irrigation System, which has a design service area of 11,540 hectares.

Based on the data from the NIA, the actual irrigated service area is only around 1,000 hectares or eight percent of the target coverage area during wet season and 3,800 hectares or about 30 percent of the target coverage area during dry season.

It was found that over 6,000 areas cannot be irrigated because these places have either become urbanized, converted to fish pens, have higher elevation than the water source, or usually become flooded during the wet season.

The Balog-Balog and Casecnan irrigation areas cover or overlap two watershed boundaries.

The study said that since both systems deliver water by gravity, the efficiency of the design of these irrigation systems where the canal network traverses another watershed is questionable.

Likewise, for the proposed P8 billion Balog-Balog Dam, David and Tabios pointed out some serious technical and financial issues that NIA should resolve before proceeding with the construction of the dam.

First, it was pointed out that the budget for the construction of this massive dam with a height of 105 meters and a crest length of 1.4 kilometer appears to be underestimated.

The proposed Kaliwa Dam of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, which will be 62 meters high with a crest length of 240 meters, costs P4.1 billion. When translated to cost per dam face area, the cost is P275,530 per square meter. Likewise, the proposed Laiban Dam of MWSS, which will be 115 meters high with crest length of 650 meters, costs P10.8 billion, translating to a unit cost of P144,481 per square meter dam face, the authors said.//


Author: Angela Celis
Date: November 13, 2014
Source: Malaya

Given the statistics on hunger, the realities, and the nature of the Philippines as calamity-prone, and in the face of the 2016 elections, nutrition must be in the platform of local and national candidates
Instagram is populated by appealing photos of juicy steaks and too-cute-to-eat cupcakes. Other social media platforms are abuzz with the latest food craze. In posh cafs and restaurants, customers armed with smartphones find the best angle to document the perfect meal set to be devoured.
This seems to be the norm. But it isnt.
According to the results of a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, 4.8 million Filipino families said they experienced hunger in September. This is not hunger by choice. This is involuntary hunger.
In a July 2014 discussion paper, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) reports about the staggering figures on child hunger in the country. In 2009, 36% or 13.4 million children aged below 18 are considered income poor. In the same year, there were around 4 million who were severely deprived of sanitary toilet facilities, 4 million who did not have access to safe water, and 260,000 who were severely lacking decent shelter.
These realities are poignant to hunger. As Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Dinky Soliman said during a forum entitled, "Aiming for #ZeroHunger" held Friday, November 14, Food security is not only about food, it is also about shelter.
Further, PIDS states that with the recent trend in population growth, the lack of inclusivity of economic growth, and the exposure of the country to natural calamities, we would expect that the number of children in dire condition would not be significantly reduced within the next few years.
Children are the most vulnerable among the vulnerable sectors. When a calamity strikes, children are most often severely affected; they may cease to attend school and work in odd jobs to help their families.
The fact that there are millions in this country who are hungry is not only a temporal concern; it is a concern which transcends generations. The effects of hunger, particularly in the first 1,000 days of life, are irreversible not only to the individual but to the country. Malnutrition damages bodies and brains. Malnutrition, if unaddressed urgently and effectively, will be detrimental to the countrys future.

Stunted growth
The 8th National Nutrition Survey reveals that 30.3% of Filipino children aged 0-60 months are stunted (too short for their age), 19.9% are underweight and 7.9% are wasted (too thin for their height). These realities are disturbing, after all, food and nutrition is a right of every individual. These are the children who will be 20% less able to read and who will earn 20% less later in life.
When children die of preventable deaths, when children become stunted, and when brains are underdeveloped " all because of poverty " who are responsible?
Rogier Van de Brink writes: Unskilled minimum wage Filipino workers are among the least productive in the world. This is because of a long history of underinvestment in people, principally in reference to education and health care.
Underinvestment can be gleaned from the policies enacted, programs funded, and the importance given to nutrition as a tool in governance. Further, he states this underinvestment starts at the critical early age of physical growth and mental development that defines a childs potentials and sets the limits to what health and education investments can add.
The governments Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (Conditional Cash Transfer Program), the countrys largest social protection program, has reached out to the poorest of the poor families. However, it is not a stand-alone poverty reduction program and must be supported by other initiatives for inclusive development. Local government units (LGUs) must purge their ideas, energies, and resources to address hunger.
The implementation of the Philippine Plan of Action, the countrys national framework plan on nutrition, is grounded on the basic premise of convergence and complementation. The Local Government Code (Republic Act 7160) mandates LGUs to organize/re-organize/strengthen functional local nutrition committees. They are also at the helm in the recruitment and deployment of the Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNS) or the community-based nutrition scholars. LGUs are also responsible for formulating, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating the Local Nutrition Action Plans (LNAPs).
Making a dent
It is important to be cognizant of not only revising policies but actually making a dent in realities. There are only 97 out of 1,634 LGUs with outstanding nutrition programs. For non-performing LGUs, nutrition may revolve around weighing, feeding of children in Day Care Centers and the schools, and the July nutrition month celebrations.
In some instruments for good local governance, nutrition, even when mentioned, is ignorable and is ignored. Some municipal or city plans of action for nutrition are isolated from the LGUs development and investment plan. Barangay or community officials have little knowledge of the need for Barangay Nutrition Councils and do not have LNAPs. Nutrition is not budgeted unlike Gender and Development, Disaster Risk Reduction, among others.
Clearly, LGUs must be mobilized for good nutrition programming to deliver results. Local leaders must also have the political will to highlight nutrition in their agenda. Given the statistics on hunger, the realities, and the nature of the Philippines as calamity-prone, and in the face of the 2016 elections, nutrition must be in the platform of local and national candidates.
Generation Nutrition resonates the same call, specifically calling on governments and the international community to take urgent action to prioritize the fight against acute malnutrition, and save the lives of millions of children under the age of 5. In a global scale, acute malnutrition is directly responsible for over one million under-5 deaths every year. Over 4,000 Filipinos have signified their support of the call by signing theGeneration Nutrition petition.
Gabriel Mistral wrote: We are guilty of many errors and many faults, but our worst crime is abandoning the children, neglecting the fountain of life. Many of the things we need can wait. The child cannot. Right now is the time his bones are being formed, his blood is being made, and his senses are being developed. To him we cannot answer Tomorrow, his name is Today.
Indeed, as WFP country director Praveen Agrawal stated in the #ZeroHunger forum, Hunger is the worlds greatest solvable problem. " Rappler.com
Deewai Rodriguez is Advocacy Coordinator of ACF International Philippines Mission.//

Author: Deewai Rodriguez,
Date: November 15, 2014
Source: Rappler.com

The four major irrigation systems in the provinces of Bulacan, Tarlac and Pampanga, which cost billions of pesos, performed below expectation and a study showed there were defects in the planning and design, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) reported.
PIDS consultants Cristina David and Guillermo Tabios said the Angat-Maasin River Irrigation System in Bulacan, Balog-Balog Irrigation System in Tarlac, Pampanga Delta Irrigation System and Casecnan-Upper Pampanga River Irrigation System failed to meet their targets.
The actual irrigated area of the Angat-Maasin River Irrigation System dropped to an average of 17,500 hectares in the last 10 years from the average 22,000 hectares irrigated areas in the 1970s, the consultants said.
The study titled Appraisal of Methodology in Estimating Irrigable Areas and Processes of Evaluating Feasibility of NIA Irrigation Projects was commissioned by the Department of Budget and the National Economic Development Authority.
The irrigation budget of P28.8 billion was the biggest chunk in the P88.818 billion budget of the Department of Agriculture. The irrigation systems in central Luzon got the biggest share of the irrigation budget.
The consultants said the competition between domestic water supply and irrigation has brought complications to the drop in irrigated areas and in the Delta Irrigation System only 1,000 hectares were irrigated, which is eight percent of the target coverage during wet season and 30 percent of target coverage during dry season.
The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) seems satisfied with studies it has conducted to support the funding and implementation of the dam project, the study said.
The fundamental issue here is whether NIA, the implementing agency of irrigation projects, should also conduct the feasibility studies, including planning, design, and operations, since it is in its interest to build and implement the irrigation projects to begin with, the study said.//


Author: Anna Leah G. Estrada
Date: November 15, 2014
Source: Manila Standard Today

Someone made the observation that in todays tiger economies, governments roll out the red carpet to attract investors. Our government rolls out the red tape instead.
In a presentation on the power situation, Miguel Aboitiz who heads the association of independent power producers showed in a single Power Point slide the list of 200 or so permits and signatures needed to start building a power plant. To fit, the typeface was so small so as to be unreadable. He drove home the message that bureaucratic red tape is largely to blame for the current uncertainty in the power supply situation.
Indeed, even if we manage to have charter change to update the restrictive provisions of our Constitution, red tape is likely to drive away foreign investors anyway. It also doesnt mean that just because the President, in the course of a state visit, witnessed the signing of an agreement to do business here, things will go smoothly.
While it is true that there are honest efforts to put up a one stop shop and computerize the process of securing business permits up to the level of some LGUs, red tape still rules the day in general. Even dealing with a national government unit like the BIR at the local level can be rather time consuming and painful.
Henry J. Schumacher, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) vice president for external affairs, complained to the Senate Economic Affairs committee about our governments debilitating red tape.
The documentary requirements for registration and doing business by foreigners here in the country need to be streamlined. The pervasive bureaucratic red tape persists to discourage and ward off potential investors, Schumacher said.
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Weeding through the layers of requirements in starting up a business is often attended by bureaucratic red tape, inconsistent, complex and lengthy procedures, delays and a high cost for regulatory processes, Schumacher complained.
I agree with Henry that This bureaucratic pathology has no social redeeming value and is only centered on rules, regulations and procedure that entail compliance burden on new entrants and businesses.
No wonder a recent study by a government think tank, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), pointed out that we are lagging behind our Asean peers in generating foreign direct investment (FDI) because, among others, lengthy procedures, slow processing and delays, lack of transparency in procedure, corruption. These are on top of policy inconsistencies, lack of streamlining of interrelated procedures.
I think the fault lies in the inability of our bureaucrats to think straight the way normal people do. Take that example of the German boy friend of the transgender allegedly slain by a US Marine in an Olongapo hotel. He wanted to leave the country after his failed publicity stunt in Camp Aguinaldo and was actually at the airport. He was stopped from leaving because he has to face deportation proceedings.
The guy wanted to leave. A normal mind will just let him go and just ban him from entering the country again. He was able to leave anyway on self deportation days after. I am sure we would have saved the taxpayers some money if we let him go the first time.
Our red tape is the result of very stringent rules that are supposed to prevent corrupt officials from stealing from the national treasury. Ironically, the tough rules, to the point of red tape, have not prevented the plunderers from plundering. The Napoles case show how those determined enough can go around the rules anyway.
Unfortunately, red tape is also the excuse being used by folks like those in DOTC for the slow execution of vitally needed infrastructure. Yet, the same red tape did not prevent them from awarding the MRT3 maintenance contract to an obviously unqualified entity, apparently because of a family relationship with an official.
I found it totally pathetic that P-Noy, as one report had it, blamed red tape for the slow Yolanda relief and rehabilitation. He is president of the Republic, the chief executive of its government presumably with the powers to ensure quick disaster relief and rehabilitation or what is he president for?
There should be a way by which government officials can cut the processes involved in the release of relief goods. The President should also have the power to see to it that basic rehab measures like housing happen more expeditiously than it has so far happened.
Otherwise, it would make sense for government to sub contract relief and rehab measures to media organizations with disaster response operations. Indeed, Yolanda showed that organizations like Lingkod Kapamilya were able to organize more efficient logistical systems that made it possible to bring relief to the victims faster than government, despite governments greater resources.
Going back to the power crisis do we really need more than 200 signatures and permits to enable an investor in a power plant to break ground? It is difficult enough to convince investors to risk hundreds of millions of dollars to build power plants. We shouldnt ask investors to talk to every barangay captain or bureaucrat of some National Government agency for permission to get going.
Since we badly need those investments to make sure we have adequate power supply, it is simply common sense to put up a one stop shop managed by the Department of Energy where an investor can get all the permits he will ever need. If we have to amend some laws including the Local Government Code, we ought to do it.
Someone in one of my e-groups commented that our horrific red tape is actually an effective barrier to entry in an industry. Our people are being prevented from enjoying lower rates and prices arising from a competitive market because red tape is acting as a de facto barrier to the entry of competitors.
The problem can also be traced to our politicians who create positions and jobs for no better reason than to employ people close to them. And once the small bureaucrats are given powers, they maximize their ability to extract livelihood specially from those they feel have an ability to pay.
I believe that if we put a curse on all government officials so they cannot go to work for a year, our economy will benefit. Putting the country on auto pilot may yet help us become a real tiger economy. Thats because government red tape saps productivity and competitiveness. Unless red tape is tamed, we can expect nothing good happening to our country in the foreseeable future.
Anyway, here is how we rank according to a World Bank study on the ease of doing business, from one to 189. The lower the number, the higher the ease of doing business. That ranking means the regulatory environment is more conducive to the starting and operation of a local firm.
The rankings are determined by sorting the aggregate distance to scores on 10 topics, each consisting of several indicators, giving equal weight to each topic. The rankings for all economies are benchmarked to June 2014.
Overall, the Philippines ranks 95 out of 189. Singapore is 1, Malaysia is 18, Thailand is 26 and Vietnam is 78. For the East Asia/Pacific region, we are ranked 14.
Here is how we rank in the region according to various indicators:
We are 22 for starting a business; 20 for Dealing with construction permits; six for getting electricity; 16 for registering property; 19 for getting credit; 18 for protecting minority interests; 20 for paying taxes; eight for cross border trade; 16 for enforcing contracts and six for resolving insolvency.
The World Bank, working with the Policy Center of the Asian Institute of Management, reports that over the past two years, 13 out of 20 cities in the Philippines carried out 19 regulatory reforms to make it easier to start and operate a business.
Starting a business is easiest in General Santos, where it takes 22 days and costs 15.3 percent of income per capita to comply with the 17 requirements. It is more difficult in San Juan, where it requires 21 procedures that take 39 days and cost 26.3 percent.
Dealing with construction permits is easiest in Davao City, where it takes 57 days, but more cumbersome in Manila, where it takes 169 days. Local requirements remain responsible for the variation in the number of steps required to build a warehouse, for example.
It is easiest to register property in Valenzuela and Navotas and more difficult in Cagayan de Oro and General Santos " differences are mainly driven by the performance of national government agencies. Check out details in this link: http://www.doingbusiness.org/Rankings/philippines/
We have a lot of work to get done. Hopefully Filipino bureaucrats give cutting red tape the highest priority. Our economic health depends on it. The arithmetic is simple: Red tape in government equals red ink for the nations economy.//

Boo Chancos e-mail address isbchanco@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco

Author: Boo Chanco
Date: November 12, 2014
Source: Philippine Star

The national irrigation systems that started operating in the 1990s showed even poorer performance than before, a study published by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies showed.
According to the policy note titled, Measuring Irrigation Performance: Lessons From National Systems, the disappointing performance of public investments in large-scale irrigation in the Philippines has been documented as early as the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The report, written by PIDS consultants Cristina David and Arlene Inocencio, noted the significant gap between actual irrigated area and design area of selected national irrigation systems.

The government through the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) undertakes the planning, construction, operation and maintenance, and rehabilitation of national irrigation systems.

These are mostly run-of-the-river gravity systems, though a few use large pumps to draw water from big rivers, the PIDS report said.

According to the study, the national irrigation systems are typically more than 1,000 hectares in size, with the largest three systems with water reservoirs for dry season cropping having service areas ranging from about 30,000 to 110,000 hectares.

They presently number close to 220 systems with a total firmed-up service area of 723,000 hectares, and accounted for approximately 78 percent of government capital outlays for irrigation from 1966 to 2012.

However, the national irrigation systems accounted for only 47 percent of governments capital outlays for irrigation from 2008 to 2012, much lower than the overall average as bigger budgets were allocated for communal and other smaller irrigation systems in recent years, the report said.

Also, while irrigation service fees are collected from farmers, the money does not cover any of the capital cost or the full cost of O and M (operation and maintenance), it added.

According to the policy note, the large gap between the actual irrigated area and the design area in national irrigation systems was already pointed out in several studies and summarized in the policy-oriented World Bank irrigation sector review of 1992.

Overly optimistic technical and economic assumptions, inadequate water supply, inappropriate designs of irrigation systems, and difficulties in O and M have been listed as the main reasons for the disappointing performance of the national irrigation systems, the study said.

Yet in 2012, the national irrigation systems showed even poorer performance than before, which should lead us to question the budgetary allocations for those irrigation projects, the report said.

Evidently, there was little effort to adopt more reasonable assumptions in estimating design areas; estimates of available water supply continued to be overstated; designs of irrigation systems have not adequately addressed drainage problems, location-specific physical characteristics, rapid urbanization, and so forth; and O and M have not significantly improved, it added.

The PIDS study emphasized the opportunities to do better planning, construction, O and M, and rehabilitation now much better.

The constraint appears to be the limited effective demand for improving governance of the sector, the report said.

Undoubtedly, the performance of irrigation systems is influenced not just by the quality of governance of the sector itself, but also importantly by factors outside its control, it added.

The paper said these are the worsening flooding problems caused by constriction of waterways; the rapid denudation of the watersheds that accelerate the rate of flooding and siltation within the irrigation system and reduce available water supply; and the political pressures impinging on the choice of irrigation projects and contractors, proper operations of irrigation systems, as well as the quality of appointments to the bureaucracy.

Based on the reports findings, a better understanding of the slowdown in the rate of growth of irrigated area in the wet season should be worth the effort given indications of increasing effects of flooding and watershed degradation through siltation of dams and canals.

The just offsetting rate of growth in the actual dry season irrigated area should serve as a signal to the government that investing in reservoirs alone to increase irrigated areas is no longer enough, and that it is time to also examine investment needs for drainage and flood control in national irrigation systems, the study said.

The report also said that there is a need for government attention on investments in repair, rehabilitation, and restoration, which are funded under the national budget, instead of corporate operations and maintenance.

A better understanding of how the money has been spent and the accomplishments of these investments should shed light to this puzzle"why the government continues to spend billions on irrigation and still ends up with about the same size of functional areas, the study said.//


Author: Angela Celis
Date: November 11, 2014
Source: Malaya

ALTHOUGH the Philippines is on track in achieving many of the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), inequities in accessibility, availability and affordability of health services across the country still exists.
Speaking at a regional forum on the Philippine Health Sector Performance in Cebu City, Dr. Celia Reyes, Senior Research Fellow of state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies said the recent economic gains have not translated to better and equitable social outcomes, particularly for health status.
Using official data, Reyes and her team found that people from Luzon generally have better access to health services and facilities, thus, better health situation compared to their counterpart from Visayas and Mindanao.
In terms of hospital beds to population ratio for example, only one-third of the provinces are able to meet the required one bed for every 1000 people. Most of these hospitals are located in the National Capital region (NCR), Reyes pointed out.
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Likewise, Reyes highlighted the uneven distribution of health labor force across the country. For example, there are 28 doctors per 100 thousand population in NCR whereas there are only 12 per 100 thousand in Central Visayas. In Bicol Region, the ratio is lower at 10 doctors per 100 thousand and even lower in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (Armm) at only three doctors per 100 thousand population.
When it comes to health facilities, not all hospitals have x-ray and ultrasound machines. Hospitals in the NCR are more equipped compared to other regions. Aside from this, not all hospitals have complete basic emergency equipment. Only 56 percent of hospitals in NCR have complete basic emergency equipment while for the rest of the regions, less than half of hospitals have these facilities.
Access to health facilities translates to better health situation. For example, in NCR where people have better access to health services and facilities, health indicators such as infant mortality, maternal health, antenatal care, etc. are also better.
According to Reyes, these regional disparities need to be addressed to continue the gains that have been achieved in the health sector. She noted that government should put more resources and capacity-building programs for regions that persistently trail behind in terms of health indicators.
Despite the regional disparities, Reyes noted improvements in the overall health status among regions from 2008 to 2013.
Looking at indicators like infant mortality rate, malnutrition, antenatal care, immunization, and birth delivery by health professional, Reyes stated that by 2011, the rates have gone down and have become slightly more equitable across regions.
"Regions are comparable to level of development of countries when it comes to health outcomes. For instance, in terms of birth delivery by health professional, the figures for Central Visayas are just slightly higher than that of Cambodia and Myanmar. In terms of antenatal care, figures for NCR are close to that of Singapore while for Armm, performance in antenatal care is similar to that of Bangladesh," Reyes said.
Meanwhile, Reyes said the Philippines is likely to achieve health-related MDGs, particularly in reducing child mortality, and in combating malaria and tuberculosis. However, it would be difficult to for the country to achieve the target for maternal health and HIV-AIDS, she added.
"There has been no significant difference for the maternal mortality figures between 2006 and 2011 and given this progress, it could be very difficult for the country to achieve the goal by 2015. The indicators for HIV AIDS are also not favorable given the increasing number of reported cases," Reyes expounded.
In 2000, the Philippines together with other United Nations member-countries adopted the eight Millennium Development Goals for 2015, which aims to free people from extreme poverty and multiple deprivations. Three of these goals are related to health: reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
Reyes presentation is part of a project by PIDS and the Department of Health that looks into governments Universal Health Care program, a component of the Health Sector Reform Agenda in 2010. It has three major components namely, financial risk protection, health facilities improvement and attainment of health-related MDGs.
Results and key findings of the PIDS-DOH research project will help policymakers steer the health system, monitor existing health policies and programs, and provide DOH and PhilHealth basis for their future policies and programs.
The forum on Philippine Health Sector Performance was organized by PIDS in partnership with the DOH and the Philippine Information Agency Region VII. (PR)//

Author:
Date: November 10, 2014
Source: Sun Star Cebu

UNEQUAL access to health-care services will continue even if the Philippines achieves its health-related Millennium Development Goal (MDG) commitments by next year.
State-owned think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said health-care problems, such as accessibility, availability and affordability, will persist nationwide.
PIDS Senior Research Fellow Celia Reyes said this is because Filipinos living in Luzon still receive better access to health services and facilities compared to Filipinos in the Visayas and Mindanao.
In terms of hospital beds to population ratio, for example, only one-third of the provinces are able to meet the required one bed for every 1,000 people. Most of these hospitals are in the National Capital Region [NCR], Reyes pointed out.
Reyes also said the uneven distribution of health labor force across the country. For example, there are 28 doctors per 100,000 population in the NCR, whereas there are only 12 per 100,000 in Central Visayas.
The ratio is lower in Bicol, at 10 doctors per 100,000; and even lower in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), at only three doctors per 100,000 population.
The PIDS also said not all hospitals have x-ray and ultrasound machines. Hospitals in the NCR are more equipped compared to other regions.
Further, not all hospitals have complete basic emergency equipment. Only 56 percent of hospitals in the NCR have complete basic emergency equipment, while for the rest of the regions, less than half of hospitals have these facilities.
The PIDS also said Filipinos living in the NCR have better access to health services and facilities, thus health indicators, such as infant mortality, maternal health, antenatal care, etc., are also better.
Reyes said these regional disparities need to be addressed to continue the gains that have been achieved in the health sector. She noted the government should put more resources and capacity-building programs for regions that persistently trail behind in terms of health indicators.
However, Reyes cited improvements in the overall health status among regions from 2008 to 2013.
Reyes said by 2011, indicators like infant mortality rate, malnutrition, antenatal care, immunization and birth delivery by health professional have gone down and have become slightly more equitable across regions.
Regions are comparable to level of development of countries when it comes to health outcomes. For instance, in terms of birth delivery by health professional, the figures for Central Visayas are just slightly higher than that of Cambodia and Myanmar. In terms of antenatal care, figures for the NCR are close to that of Singapore, while for the ARMM, performance in antenatal care is similar to that of Bangladesh, Reyes explained.
Meanwhile, Reyes said, the Philippines is likely to achieve health-related MDGs, particularly in reducing child mortality, and in combating malaria and tuberculosis.
However, Reyes said, it would be difficult to for the country to achieve the target for maternal health and HIV-AIDS.
There has been no significant difference for the maternal mortality figures between 2006 and 2011 and given this progress, it could be very difficult for the country to achieve the goal by 2015. The indicators for HIV AIDS are also not favorable given the increasing number of reported cases, Reyes expounded.
In 2000, the Philippines together with other United Nations member-countries adopted the eight MDGs for 2015 which aims to free people from extreme poverty and multiple deprivations.
Three of these goals are related to health: reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
Reyes presentation is part of a project by PIDS and the Department of Health (DOH) that looks into the governments Kalusugang Pangkalahatan or Universal Health Care program, a component of the Health Sector Reform Agenda in 2010.
It has three major components namely, financial risk protection, health facilities improvement and attainment of health-related MDGs.//

Author: Cai U. Ordinario
Date: November 09, 2014
Source: Business Mirror

A study is batting for the enactment of laws on pre-disaster recovery planning (PDRP) which is a key component of recovery and rehabilitation of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM). Dr. Ebinezer Florano of the University of the Philippines said the Republic Act (RA) 10121, otherwise known as the Philippine DRRM Act, can be amended to include PDRP. PDRP is a proactive process of anticipating future recovery issues, developing a scenario-based recovery plan and building the capacity to improve recovery outcomes " all before a disaster happens, he said in a study released by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

Florano said there are already government entities abroad which have used PDRP, including those in Japan and some Latin American countries. He said there is also a need to require all government agencies to draft their own continuity plans through a new law or amendment to RA 10121. Florano said post-disaster recovery efforts are focused on reviving the economy, infrastructure , agriculture and tourism, among others. Little or no attention at all is given to revive governance institutions like the seats of government, the various government offices, legislative council offices, etc.

These are essential offices for the implementation of recovery programs, plans, and projects; hence, there is need for continuity plans for them, he said. Apart from the institutionalization of the PDRP, the study recommended that the poor be relocated from dangerous areas to safer places and provide alternative sources of livelihood with proper consultation. Before a disaster strikes, they should be relocated, which is more cost-efficient than providing rescue operations with relief goods every time there is a calamity, he said.

Author: Ed Velasco
Date: November 09, 2014
Source: The Daily Tribune

INEQUITIES in accessibility, availability and affordability of health services across the country still exist, a senior research fellow of state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said.
PIDS senior research fellow Celia Reyes said that the recent economic gains have not translated to better and equitable social outcomes, particularly in the health sector.
She said that people in Luzon, particularly in the National Capital Region (NCR), generally have better access to health services and facilities compared to those in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Citing official government data, she said there are more health facilities and health professionals in Luzon, particularly in the NCR compared to Visayas and Mindanao.
As an example, she said that only one-third of the provinces are able to meet the required one bed for every 1,000 people ratio, and most of these hospitals, she said, are in the NCR.
Reyes also underscored the uneven distribution of health labor force across the country. She said that there are 28 physicians for every 100,000 people in Metro Manila, whereas there are only 12 per 100,000 in Central Visayas. In Bicol region, the ratio is lower at 10 physicians per 100,000 and even lower in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao at only three per 100,000 population.
Moreover, she said that when it comes to health facilities, not all hospitals have x-ray and ultrasound machines. Hospitals in Metro Manila are more equipped compared to other regions. Aside from this, not all hospitals have complete basic emergency equipment.
Only 56 percent of hospitals in Metro Manila have complete basic emergency equipment while for the rest of the regions, less than half of hospitals have these facilities.
Access to health facilities translates to better health situation. For example, in NCR where people have better access to health services and facilities, health indicators such as infant mortality, maternal health, antenatal care, etc., are also better, she said.
These regional disparities, she said, need to be addressed to continue the gains that have been achieved in the health sector. She noted that the government should put more resources and capacity-building programs for regions that persistently trail behind in terms of health indicators.
Reyes, nevertheless, noted improvements in the overall health status among regions from 2008 to 2013.
Reyes said that by 2011, the rates in infant-mortality rate, malnutrition, antenatal care, immunization, and birth delivery by health professional have gone down and have become slightly more equitable across the regions.
She also said that except on acquired immune deficiency syndrome-human immunodeficiency virus (AIDS-HIV) infection, the Philippines remains on track in achieving health-related Millennium Development Goals, particularly targets related to reducing child mortality, as well as combating malaria and tuberculosis.
There has been no significant difference for the maternal mortality figures between 2006 and 2011 and given this progress, it could be very difficult for the country to achieve the goal by 2015. The indicators for HIV AIDS are also not favorable given the increasing number of reported cases, Reyes added.
Reyes spoke at a regional forum on Philippine Health Sector Performance in Cebu City recently, where she presented the study, which is part of a project by PIDS and the Department of Health that looks into the governments Kalusugang Pangkalahatan, or Universal Health Care program, a component of the Health Sector Reform Agenda in 2010.
The study has three major components namely, financial risk protection, health facilities improvement and attainment of health-related MDGs.
Results and key findings of the PIDS-DOH research project will help policymakers steer the health system, monitor existing health policies and programs, and provide DOH and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) basis for their future policies and programs.
The forum on Philippine Health Sector Performance was organized by PIDS in partnership with the DOH and the Philippine Information Agencys office in Central Visayas.//

Author: Jonathan L. Mayuga
Date: November 08, 2014
Source: Business Mirror

PROBLEMS, such as poor irrigation design, prevented rice farmers from fully benefiting from national irrigation systems, according to a study released by state-run think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

The PIDS policy note, titled Measuring Irrigation Performance: Lessons from National Systems, also said farmers would not be able to plant more rice if these problems are not adequately addressed.

The government targets to produce 59.67 million metric tons of rice from 2014 to 2016. This is the reason the national government spent heavily on expanding irrigated areas in the country, the study explained.

However, the PIDS said challenges such as poor irrigation design, deterioration of watersheds, rapid urbanization and climate change prevented farmers from planting more rice.

Irrigation projects generally aim to have a cropping intensity of 200 percent. Trends show cropping intensity to have been at about 140 percent for most of the period under study when computed as a ratio to service area, and about 160 percent as a ratio to firmed-up service area in more recent years, the PIDS said.

The Philippine Food Security Information System defined cropping intensity as the number of times a crop is planted per year in a given agricultural area. It is the ratio of effective crop area harvested to the physical area. The study stated that as a ratio to design areas. But national irrigation systems in the mid-1990s had lower cropping intensity compared to vintages, or those national irrigation systems operating prior to the 1990s. The difference in cropping intensity is even wider with early vintages averaging 160 percent, while the most recent vintage was only slightly above 100 percent.

Further, service and irrigated areas as ratios to design area were about 80 percent and 60 percent in the earlier vintages, but were only 70 percent and less than 40 percent for national irrigation systems that were built after the mid-1990s.

The disappointing performance of public investments in large-scale irrigation in the Philippines has been documented as early as the late 1980s and early 1990s mainly in t erms of the significant gap between actual irrigated area and design area of select national irrigation systems, PIDS said. To address these problems, the study recommended that government should invest not only in reservoirs but also in drainage and flood control in national irrigation systems. The study also stated that the government must invest in repair, rehabilitation and restoration, which are funded under the national budget, instead of corporate operations and maintenance.

There is also a need to examine the viability incentive grant (VIG) scheme to help develop less distorting options balancing the key mandate of providing irrigation-service support and collecting payments.

The VIG program is similar to the profit-sharing system in progressive private companies, where workers are rewarded with bonuses or dividends.

The PIDS study also recommended the conduct of a further study on the slowdown in the growth rate of irrigated areas in the wet season, given indications of increasing effects of flooding and watershed degradation through siltation of dams and canals.//

Author: Cai U. Ordinario
Date: November 07, 2014
Source: Business Mirror

The Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP) will be holding its 57th Charter Anniversary Symposium on November 10 to 11, 2014 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.
The two-day symposium, with the theme, Rural Banks: Reliable Partners of Local Communities for Growth, will highlight the industrys continuing advocacy for financial inclusion and sustainable economic development in the countryside. It also celebrates the effective and long-standing partnership between rural banks and the government in promoting rural growth.
Through the symposium, RBAP aims to facilitate capacity-building and knowledge-sharing among member-rural banks on practical strategies for them to become the governments active partners in continuing to serve the countryside for sustainable growth.
The Association has assembled distinguished resource speakers"including experts from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Credit Information Corporation, and Philippine Institute for Development Studies"to share their knowledge and increase the competency of rural banks as effective social and economic movers.
Among the topics to be discussed are Growth Alternatives: Mergers and Acquisitions, Financial Inclusion and the Potential of Unbanked Markets, and Gearing up for ASEAN Integration: Effects on Rural Banking Sector, among others.
With 530 head offices and 2,500 branches scattered across the archipelago and their experience in microfinance, rural banks offer the best and fastest solution toward financial inclusion, an integral component in the governments goal of inclusive growth.
Given its timeliness in the industrys current landscape, the symposium will also seek to address the challenge of increasing competition where bigger local banks expand to new markets, including the countryside where rural banks operate.
Rural bankers will also have the opportunity to engage experts on mergers and acquisitions and find time to reflect and consider the feasibility of M and As in gaining a stronger foothold to better serve their clients.
The rural banking industry has never stopped striving to keep up with the times and it has succeeded doing so for the last six decades. Some might have ended their journey early, but 530 rural banks remain solid and on their feet. As they go forward, they will not be alone as RBAP commits to stand by them and empower them to face the challenges that lie ahead, especially under the New Vision, One Direction, Stronger Organization mantra.//


Author:
Date: November 05, 2014
Source: Manila Bulletin

Are we really ready for the ASEAN Economic Community of 2015? The government, through Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto del Rosario, says we are 87.5 percent ready.
A checklist of to do items. A checklist is a useful guide. But it tells us little about the more important and the less significant items in that checklist. Thus, it is not mere counting of numbers. Moreover, 87.5 percent is short of 100 percent! And it is now November 2014, just two months before 2015.
Have we done enough reforms so that we can realize maximum gains from the ASEAN Economic Community? That should be the ultimate task for preparedness.
Let us judge whether we are indeed ready at this point to gain as much from ASEAN as our neighbors certainly will be able to do.
From personal observation, the most difficult reforms to undertake are often the last to be adopted. I see that the main reforms we have to deal with (for instance, revisions of Constitutional economic provisions, labor market reforms, and investments in critical infrastructure) are stuck in Congress, in our own resistance, within the impasse of bureaucratic processes, and in the politics of wait and see.
Taking this into account, it is easy to conclude how 82 percent when weighted by importance of the item taken (or waiting to be taken), the readiness could be 50 percent or 70 percent but certainly not 82 percent!
ASEAN Economic Community(AEC). The AEC is the culmination of regional economic cooperation so far within the ASEAN. Founded in 1967 as a club among five neighbors " Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand "it was intended to deal on political matters as a means of quieting tensions among themselves and forming a shield against the uncertainties of the Cold War.
Then in 1976, hemmed in by the energy crisis and problems attendant to international concern on national and regional food security, ASEAN, through the meeting of the five heads of state of member countries, decided to close ranks. There were good windows for economic cooperation for the mutual benefit of the member states, the most attractive of which were, at the time, energy and food.
The heads of state of the five member countries directed their economic ministers to organize for economic cooperation, and this the latter did in quick response and inclusively.
Organizing through various economic committees from the respective sector ministries in each country, the avenues for economic cooperation and exchange of information began to flourish even if slowly.
Across economic sectors, economic cooperation agreements began to unfold. Progressive steps in different directions were made in several fields " agriculture, energy, transportation, tourism, finance, investment and trade.
One instrument of economic cooperation was preferential trade in products produced within the member countries. The coverage of the initial preferential tariff agreements were narrow and incremental, starting in the late 1970s.
The 1990s however were great for the conclusion of trade agreements worldwide. The European Common Market had evolved into the European Union. Also, the North American Trade Agreement came into being with members including the US, Canada and Mexico. Also, older regional economic agreements (in Latin America, the Caribbean, and in Africa) that had gotten stalled in various parts also began to deepen further.
The Uruguay multilateral round of tariff negotiations had finally led to a breakthrough: the conclusion of the multilateral rounds of tariff concessions that reduced trade tariff and non-tariff barriers. A new World Trade Organization (WTO) was established to regulate, monitor and enforce the rules of world trade agreed upon.
Regional trading blocs were given their blessings and recognition under the WTO. This coincident development further encouraged deeper ASEAN tariff preferences.
Free trade area. The ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA), signed in 1992, committed all member countries to reduce their commercial tariffs toward zero level by 2015. The AFTA remains the center-piece of the ASEAN regional cooperation. However, the ASEAN Economic Community remains as the over-arching framework.
The region is a community of economies with cross-borders becoming free for the movement of goods, factors and raw materials.
At inception, the preferential tariff agreement covered a narrow range of traded goods among ASEAN countries. As time and experience evolved, the region widened coverage in goods until, by 2015, all tariffs (except for a limited sensitive items) disappear.
Each of the countries will retain their external system of tariffs for all other countries. A free trade agreement is not a customs union. The latter " like the European Union or even the case of a single country like the USA " has free trade among the states and keep, in addition, a single or unified tariff system against all other foreign countries.
The ASEAN economic market. When AFTA was concluded in 1992, it had six signatories. By that time, Brunei had already joined the ASEAN original five. In 1995, Vietnam joined; followed by Laos and Myanmar (1997) and then Cambodia (1999).
The latecomers to ASEAN were required to be signatories of AFTA, but they were given longer time for adjustments in order to meet the tariff reduction obligations. Papua New Guinea and East Timor, newly independent neighbours, are active regional observers, so that they could become members in the future.
The ten-member ASEAN market (in 2014) has a population of about 680 million people, with an average GDP per head in (purchasing power equivalent) US dollars of 8,369. Although this level of GDP is not very high, the ASEAN countries belong to the most dynamic group of developing countries in recent years.
Review of steps already taken and further measures to be taken by the Philippine government. The countrys foremost think tank on economic and social development issues, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), published a special volume On the ASEAN Economic Community.
The publication is in the 2012 issue of the Philippine Journal of Development (volume 29, 2012). This volume has a number of important articles that reviews our efforts at preparing for the ASEAN Economic Community.
PIDS experts " led by Erlinda Medalla, Rafaelita Aldaba, Gilbert Llanto, Roehlano Briones, Danila C. Israel " and others contribute their assessments of what needs to be done further if we are to maximize or simply to extend the gains we can derive from ASEAN.
In the next week, I will cite instances of policy shortcomings that need to be reformed if we want to expand the opportunities available to us in ASEAN.//
My email is: gpsicat@gmail.com. Visit this site for more information, feedback and commentary:http://econ.upd.edu.ph/gpsicat/

Author: Gerardo P. Sicat
Date: November 05, 2014
Source: Philippine Star

PAMPANGA, Philippines " It was the accidental discovery of a group of street childrenliving under a bridge in Angeles City that made Joy Cruz, executive director of Kuliat Foundation Inc. (KFI), reflect about her work.
Recently, Cruz met 10-year-old Hero, who told her about the hardships of a child forced to work every day to be able to eat.
It was a typical story of a street kid who ran away from home because his parents were very abusive and violent... In the streets, he met people who forced him to work in exchange for food and temporary shelter. He used to stay in a shanty when we met him, she said.
Hero is among the millions of Filipino children who are still being denied their rights. And Cruz made it a goal to again raise public awareness of this.

In celebration of the National Childrens Month, the KFI, in cooperation with the Angeles City Tourism Office (ACTO), End Child Hunger Philippines (ECHP), Teatro Angeleo, held a month-long photo and arts exhibit about the rights of a child at the Museo Angeles (October 4 to 7) and at the Angeles City Library and Information Center (October 9 to 31).
October marked the 22nd National Childrens Month (NCM), which aims to promote and protect the physical, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being of the child, as well as to emphasize the importance of the role of the child in the Filipino family.
In September, the United Nations Childrens Fund (Unicef) also celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). As a State Party to the Convention, the Philippines is committed to working with local communities and encouraging the policymakers to advance the goals and ideas linked to the CRC.
The Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), meanwhile, announced the theme of this years National Children Month as Bata Kasali Ka, Ikaw ay Mahalaga" (Child, get involved. You are important). The theme highlights the significance of protecting, promoting, and fulfilling the rights of a child to a meaningful participation in all government undertakings where childrens concerns including the rights are at stake.
State of the Filipino children
While the country has signed and ratified the CRC, the Philippines still has a long way to go in terms of pursuing government policies and practices that ensure the promotion and protection of children's rights.
Based on the latest report of the National Statistical Coordination Board, as of 2009, poverty remained a big challenge with the number of children under poverty level estimated at 40.8% of the total child population " about 14.4 million poor children. (READ: National survey: We have many malnourished children)
In terms of education, a study conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies in 2011 showed that only about 88% of children aged between 6 and 11 years old were in primary school, while about 60% of children aged between 12 and 15 years old were in secondary school. (READ: DepEd 2014 target: Get 1M dropouts back to school)
The 2011 report of the Department of Labor and Employment also indicated that around 2.9 million children aged 5 to 15 years old were out of school, while 12% of Filipino children took part in child labor. (READ: The children who can't enter kindergarten)
Many childrens rights groups are urging the government to address these challenges and include the Filipino children in the decision-making process.
The Child and Youth Welfare Code (Presidential Decree No. 603) listed the rights of children:
Right to a balanced diet, adequate clothing, sufficient shelter, proper medical attention, and all the basic physical requirements of a healthy and vigorous life.
Right to an education commensurate with his abilities and to the development of his skills for the improvement of his capacity for service to himself and to his fellowmen.
Right to protection against exploitation, improper influences, hazards, and other conditions or circumstances prejudicial to his physical, mental, emotional, social, and moral development.
POWER OF ARTS. Some of the artists who contributed to the exhibit believe that the arts serve as a powerful tool to promote and propagate the rights of children to the local communities
POWER OF ARTS. Some of the artists who contributed to the exhibit believe that the arts serve as a powerful tool to promote and propagate the rights of children to the local communities
Raising childrens rights awareness
Cruz said that the October exhibit was also meant to inspire people to join a call to action among members of the local community.
Through the photo exhibit, people can understand the most basic rights of the children in a simple way, visually showing actions that might violate them, according to Cruz.
Cruz said visual arts provide people with powerful tools of self-expression as they tap commitments to a campaign that ensures the rights of the children.
Cruz noted that the public should not stop at knowing the rights of the children. She hopes that the community can be proactive in addressing the most pressing concerns of the children.
The primary purpose of the foundation is to preserve the history, culture, and tradition of Angeles City. But then we also realized that as members of the community, we have the responsibility to look after the future generations, explained Cruz, adding that the foundation is currently undertaking educational and feeding programs for the street children of Angeles City.
Simple ways
ECHP founder John Jurado stressed that improving the condition of the Filipino children should start at the local level. (READ: Does your local government protect children?)
People always contemplate on whether they should help or not. Some fear that their actions may not be good enough. But the simplest things matter the most when it comes to helping children attain their rights. They can start by volunteering, donating, and supporting the programs of their local communities, Jurado said.
STREET CHILDREN. KFI executive director Joy Cruz and ECHP founder John Jurado happily pose with some of the beneficiaries of their organizations program for street childrenSTREET CHILDREN. KFI executive director Joy Cruz and ECHP founder John Jurado happily pose with some of the beneficiaries of their organizations program for street children
The country is still far from achieving its goal of lifting the plight of children.
The efforts of both the government and its citizens should not stop at the mere attainment of positive data, childrens rights advocates reiterated. (READ: Bill seeks to protect children during emergencies) " Rappler.com

Ferth Vandensteen Manaysay is a former Rappler intern. He is presently a correspondent for the ASEAN-Korea Center and a reporter at the Sun Star Daily. He has a Political Science degree from the University of the Philippines Diliman.//

Author:
Date: November 03, 2014
Source: Rappler.com

Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo remained optimistic that the trade and finance departments of government would be able to submit a consolidated version of the fiscal rationalization bill before the end of the year.

The bill, which is meant to streamline the countrys incentive regime, is considered critical, and government officials are fearful that the measure may not be passed during the 16th Congress if no version were to be submitted before the years end.

According to the trade chief, the department has already completed the consolidated version, but Rep. Miro Quimbo, chair of the House committee on ways and means, noted that the panel had not received it yet.

They have yet to submit to us the consolidated version. Im hopeful that this version is something both the Department of Finance and the DTI would agree to. Ive had some feedback, but some senior officials of the DTI are not happy with this consolidated version. This is what weve been hearing. But we urge them to sit down and consolidate because, otherwise, we are not going to be able to pass it, Quimbo said.

This is a priority bill, he added. Once they submit it and lands on our committee, were going to fast track it.

According to a Policy Note published on the website of state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), there are two Senate bills on fiscal rationalization that have been presented in the 16th Congress and are being deliberated upon. These are Senate Bill 987 introduced by Sen. Ralph Recto, and Senate Bill 35 introduced by Sen. Cynthia Villar.

According to the Policy Note authored by Rosario G. Manasan and Danileen Kristel C. Parel, both bills focus on investment promotion and are in the right direction in the sense that they unify the various fiscal incentive regimes. By adopting a uniform policy, redundancies and lost revenues can be lessened.

Also, the grant of incentives to exporters, particularly the provision of tax and duty free importation of inputs, is important because enterprises need to access inputs priced at international market prices like their competitors from other countries, the note said.

However, Rectos proposed bill was considered to be better as it was seen to reduce the redundancy rate more effectively because it provides incentives to a limited number of enterprises, thus eliminating those that will still invest even without the incentives.

Under Senate Bill 987, only the export and domestic enterprises in the 30 poorest cities qualify for fiscal incentives, whereas under Senate Bill 35, the list also includes domestic enterprises and domestic strategic enterprises. Limiting the grant of fiscal incentives to enterprises in the 30 poorest cities will enable the government to target enterprises that are most sensitive to incentives. This will also promote the dispersal of industries and growth to less-developed areas, the note stated.

Senate Bill 987 seeks to eliminate ITH which is desirable because it would lessen the redundancies, thus generating more revenues for the government. In lieu of the ITH, it opts for reduced (corporate income tax) rates, it added.

The Department of Trade and Industry has been staunchly pushing for fiscal rationalization, believing that the Philippines would become a more attractive investment destination if the government were able to cut down excessive corporate incentives and provide a more rationalized framework that would give risk-taking entrepreneurs a slight edge over established players.//

Author: Amy R. Remo
Date: November 03, 2014
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

The Trade Department will present Thursday a roadmap on agricultural business focusing on condiments, confectionery, seaweeds, processed foods and shrimps.

Corazon Dichosa, executive director of the Board of Investments industry policy group, said the Trade and Investments Updates would highlight the opportunities and growth areas in agribusiness, where stakeholders could maximize prospects with research and technology.

Like any other roadmap, the agribusiness roadmap is important as guidance to agribusiness entrepreneurs on where they should put their capital. Agribusiness is a very enterprising business with lots of growth areas, she said.

Rolando Dy, executive director for food and agribusiness at the University of Asia and the Pacific, and Roehlano Briones, a research fellow at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, will present the roadmap.

Dy will speak on the scope and opportunities presented in the roadmap, while Briones will explain the supply chain gap, constraints and policy response to the plan.

Agriculture Undersecretary Segfredo Serrano, meanwhile, will discuss initial findings on different sub-topics under the agribusiness roadmap.

The roadmaps for bamboo, coco coir and the automotive sector are expected to be finalized within the year, while those for medical travel, mineral processing, processed foods, including fruits, processed meat and marine products, shipbuilding, garments, printing and home appliance will be completed by end of this year.

Industry roadmaps on manufacturing, automotive, automotive parts, biodiesel, cement, ceramic tiles, chemicals, copper and copper products, electric vehicles, electronics, furniture, iron and steel, IT-BPM, mass housing, metal casting, motorcycle, petrochemicals, plastics, pulp and paper, rubber products, tool and die and natural health products have been submitted to the BoI.

The boards industry development initiatives have received the support of international partners, through technical assistance projects such as the European Union"Trade-Related Technical Assistance and the United States Agency for International Development"Advancing Competitiveness Project.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency is also working with the BoI on several projects related to industry development.//

Author: Othel V. Campos
Date: November 03, 2014
Source: Manila Standard Today

The Board of Investments (BOI) will unveil development roadmaps on five sectors in agribusiness " confectionery, condiments, seaweeds/carrageenan, shrimps/prawns, and processed fruits " which have the highest revenue streams potential and widest industry linkages in agri-processing.

BOI Executive Director Corazon Halili-Dichosa told reporters that agro-processing would be the next sectoral roadmaps to be tackled at the 12th Trade and Industry Development Update on the topic Enhancing Philippine Competitiveness: Agribusiness Value Upgrading and Linkages with Manufacturing this Thursday, Nov. 6.

These sectors are good sources of revenue streams for us, Halili-Dichosa said.
Condiments, she said, is one of the largest sub-sector in the food industry because of the abundance of locally grown spices and plants.

Dr. Rolando T. Dy, executive director of the Center for Food and Agribusiness of the University of Asia and the Pacific, is still conducting an appraisal and developing the roadmaps for these agribusiness sub-sectors. The sectoral roadmaps on these five are expected to be completed by next year.

Initially, Dy will concentrate on chocolates for confectionery and mangoes for processed fruit.

At the TID Update, Agriculture Undersecretary Segfredo Serrano will present the Agri Sector Roadmaps initial findings while Philippine Institute for Development Studies research fellow Roehlano M. Briones will speak on the topic Agriculture Supply Chain: Gaps, Constraints, and Policy Response.

The Trade and Industry Development Updates is a platform to inform and update the public and stakeholders on the Industry Development Roadmaps initiative of the Department of Trade and Industry.//

Author: Bernie Magkilat
Date: November 29, 2014
Source: Manila Bulletin