PIDS in the News Archived (April 2016)

Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto is urging the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) to extend the deadline for the application to the scholarship program that would provide thousands of K to 12 displaced teachers a monthly stipend of at least P20,000 for the duration of their schooling.

"April 1 was the deadline of the application for this scholarship which is mainly for private college teachers who would otherwise face low or loss of income during the K to 12 transition period," Recto said.
College enrolment will go down this June as Grade 10 students are retained in schools for two more years of senior high school, prompting government to package a multibillion-peso bridge financing program for affected personnel.

CHEd, in its Web site, issued a last call for applicants for the "Graduate Education Scholarships for Faculty and Staff Development in the K to 12 Transition Period," with the deadline set on April 1.

In his appeal, Recto asked for the deadline to be extended by a "mere 15 days," to April 15, to give more time to teachers who were busy with final tests to collate the required supporting documents.

The scholarships and other K to 12 transition programs in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are funded by a P5.27 billion allocation authorized in the 2016 national budget.

Of this amount, P3 billion will be sourced from travel tax collections and state lotto earnings, pooled under the off-budget Higher Education Development Fund while P2.275 billion is appropriated in the CHEd budget for the provision of scholarship to faculty members and HEI administrators.

Under the program, full scholarships for master's and doctoral degrees are being offered to faculty and staff during the transition period.

In addition, scholarships for master's and doctoral programs in selected foreign schools select are also offered. Grants for thesis and dissertation writing, professional advancement and post-doctoral fellowships are also available.

Faculty scholars who qualify under the scholarship will be receiving a package consisting of tuition; monthly stipend; book allowance; transportation allowance; thesis and dissertation allowance, and group insurance.
According to the guidelines, the stipend for those who qualify for scholarships for the master's degree is P20,000 per month while successful applicants for the doctoral program will receive a monthly allowance of P28,000.

There is also a thesis or dissertation allowance for master's and doctoral programs in the amount of P50,000 and P100,000, respectively. For those studying outside their province, a transportation allowance of P10,000 a year will be given.

Recto said the scholarship program has two primary goals according to its guidelines issued by CHEd in January 12 of this year: mitigate impact on labor of the K to 12 program and to upgrade qualifications of faculty.

"If these are the objectives, then we should accommodate as many applicants as we can," Recto said.
As the K to 12 program enters the senior high school phase this year, the Department of Education (DepEd) estimates around 1.21 million Grade 10 students will remain in school for two more years "which effectively drains the source of college enrolment," Recto said.

The Philippine Institute for Development Studies had projected that 33,000 college instructors may be potentially idled until 2018. Another group, a coalition of education workers, pegged the number at 86,000 college teachers plus 15,000 non-academic personnel.

A DepEd briefing paper sent to Congress in 2014 had pegged a lower number of 13,634 teachers, or 12 percent of all college teachers, and 11,456 non-teaching staff, or 20 percent of the total.//

Author:
Date: April 03, 2016
Source: The Daily Tribune

Would-be scholars to get P20,000 monthly stipend
Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph G. Recto is urging the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to extend the deadline for the application to the scholarship program that would provide thousands of K to 12 displaced teachers a monthly stipend of at least P20,000 for the duration of their schooling.
"April 1 was the deadline of the application for this scholarship, which is mainly for private college teachers who would otherwise face low or loss of income during the K to 12 transition period," Recto said.
College enrolment will go down this June as Grade 10 students are retained in schools for two more years of senior high school, prompting government to package a multi-billion-peso bridge financing program for affected personnel.
CHED, in its website, issued a last call for applicants for the "Graduate Education Scholarships for Faculty and Staff Development in the K to 12 Transition Period," with the deadline set on April 1.
In his appeal, Recto asked for the deadline to be extended by a "mere 15 days," to April 15, to give more time to teachers who were busy with final tests to collate the required supporting documents.
The scholarships and other K to 12 transition programs in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are funded by a P5.27 billion allocation authorized in the 2016 national budget.
Of this amount, P3 billion will be sourced from travel tax collections and state lotto earnings, pooled under the off-budget Higher Education Development Fund, while P2.275 billion is appropriated in the CHED budget for the provision of scholarship to faculty members and HEI administrators.
Under the program, full scholarships for master's and doctoral degrees are being offered to faculty and staff during the transition period.
In addition, scholarships for master's and doctoral programs in selected foreign schools select are also offered. Grants for thesis and dissertation writing, professional advancement, and post-doctoral fellowships are also available.
Faculty scholars who qualify under the scholarship will be receiving a package consisting of tuition and fees; monthly stipend; book allowance; transportation allowance; thesis and dissertation allowance; and group insurance.
According to the guidelines, the stipend for those who qualify for scholarships for the master's degree is P20,000 per month, while successful applicants for the doctoral program will receive a monthly allowance of P28,000.
There is also a thesis or dissertation allowance for master's and doctoral programs in the amount of P50,000 and P100,000, respectively. For those studying outside their province, a transportation allowance of P10,000 a year will be given.
Recto said the scholarship program has two primary goals according to its guidelines issued by CHED in January 12 of this year: mitigate impact on labor of the K to 12 program and to upgrade qualifications of faculty.
"If these are the objectives, then we should accommodate as many applicants as we can," Recto said.
As the K to 12 program enters the senior high school phase this year, the Department of Education (DepEd) estimates around 1.21 million Grade 10 students will remain in school for two more years, "which effectively drains the source of college enrolment," Recto said.
The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) had projected that 33,000 college instructors may be potentially idled until 2018. Another group, a coalition of education workers, pegged the number at 86,000 college teachers plus 15,000 non-academic personnel.
A DepED briefing paper sent to Congress in 2014 had pegged a lower number of 13,634 teachers, or 12 percent of all college teachers, and 11,456 non-teaching staff, or 20 percent of the total.//

Author:
Date: April 02, 2016
Source: Senate Press Releases

The ASEAN Economic Community promises greater mobility of human capital, but cultural, political and socioeconomic differences remain obstacles, experts on Channel NewsAsia's Perspectives panel.
SINGAPORE: Some have hoped for a more dynamic cross-border flow of skilled labour with the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, but experts are tempering such expectations.
According to panelists on Channel NewsAsias Perspectives programme, questions remain as to whether there are sufficient policies among the countries and industries to allow for it.
Socioeconomic and cultural differences are also among the hurdles that stand in the way. Im not convinced that the political will really is there and I think we need to see that political will, said Mr Stephen Groff, vice-president of the Asian Development Bank.
He was speaking at a panel discussion on Upskilling ASEAN For Growth filmed at the Singapore Management University.
The flow of labour between member countries still largely involves workers in construction and domestic work. According to a 2013 Philippines Institute for Development Studies report, nine out of 10 ASEAN migrants were low-skilled workers.
DISPARITY IN SKILLS AND STANDARDS
Mr Groff believes more thought needs to be put into moving skilled workers in one country to another where those skills may be needed. There is a huge disparity in skills and education from one ASEAN country to another," he said.
Despite the formalisation of a Mutual Recognition Arrangement in the AEC to allow greater regional mobility for practitioners in professions such as engineering, nursing, dentistry and accounting, the differing domestic rules, standards and regulations in each country are an issue, said panelists.
According to a Migration Policy Institute and Asian Development Bank 2015 report, obstacles to skilled workforce mobility include the recognition and assessment of professionals credentials and qualifications. Individuals also face restrictions on certain jobs reserved for citizens.
Professor Arnoud De Meyer, president of the Singapore Management University, said differences in goals and objectives between the AEC countries need to be ironed out.
As long as there are such differences between the ASEAN countries in terms of the development, I dont see how any politician can actually talk about free movement of labour. It is just not conceivable in the short term, he said.
Dr Veerinderjeet Singh, the executive chairman of business solutions company Axcelasia Inc, cited the disparity in industry standards.
Everyone has an accountant in place in all the ASEAN countries, but what does accounting mean? We find that the benchmarking of the standards is where there is a shortage of, he said.
Until regional standards are worked out, Dr Singh said a multi-agency approach is needed to facilitate and encourage the flow of skilled labour. The responsibility cannot just lie with governments.
We have no doubt about the fact that politically, the ASEAN leadership is in tune, but when it comes down to implementation, they are looking for guidance. This is where the private sector, organisations and NGOs have a role to push certain things forward, he said.

FULL INTEGRATION POSSIBLE?
ASEAN, which includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, is the third largest market in the world with a population of 630 million people.
Dr Singh did not think a fully integrated AEC was possible, given how ASEAN is more diverse than the European Union. We should be looking at integration of sorts rather than full integration because I dont see that happening, he said.
Mr Pri Notowidigdo, chairman and CEO of executive search firm Amrop Indonesia, was nonetheless optimistic about the AECs goal of an integrated economy with a strong mobile workforce, provided organisations and individuals undergo a mindset change to adapt.
The time frame for historical change may not be in my generation but maybe in the next generation. Im hopeful, he said.//
The full discussion of Perspectives: Upskilling ASEAN For Growth, airs April 6, 8pm (SG/HK) on Channel NewsAsia, with an encore telecast on April 7, 6pm.

Author: Samantha Yap
Date: April 02, 2016
Source: Channel News Asia

Since persons with disabilities only make up less than 1% of the voting population, will they succeed in getting their concerns included in the agenda in 2016?
MANILA, Philippines " The world is a harsh place for persons with disabilities (PWDs). Getting around is a nightmare, landing a job can be arduous, and budgeting for medical expenses on top of other costs is demoralizing.

As in past polls, PWDs are hoping that candidates in the 2016 elections can walk the talk by addressing their biggest concerns " income and mobility.

Tahanang Walang Hagdanan(TWH) public relations officer Ramon Apilado identified key policies PWDs want to see: job creation, mobility reforms, and the expansion of the value added tax (VAT) exemption.

Foremost among these concerns are jobs. Although there are livelihood programs like those provided by TWH and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Apilado wondered whether this would be enough to deal with PWD unemployment.

Ang tanong: anong klaseng trabaho ang ibibigay? May livelihood program, yes. Pero ang tanong, hindi nasusustena ang mga proyektong ito para sa may kapansanan (The question is: what kind of jobs they given? Yes, there are livelihood programs, but the problem is these are not sustainable for PWDs)."

A 2012 paper from the Office of the United High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) suggested a 3-pronged approach to tackle PWD unemployment.

Additional source of income for low-income PWD families
Rehabilitation and livelihood assistance for those with a high degree of disability
Scholarship grants and/or alternative learning sessions
Listening to the deaf community

Meanwhile, for the Philippines deaf community, passing the Filipino Sign Language (FSL) Act is on their list of priorities, according to Raymond Manding, the Deaf Advocacy Coordinator for the De La Salle-College of Saint Benildes (DLS-CSB) School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies (SDEAS).

The FSL Act, or House Bill No 6428, was filed by Alliance of Concerned Teachers party list Representative Antonio Tinio. Once passed, FSL will be the national sign language of the Philippines.

As the countrys national sign language, schools, public transportation, public offices and transactions, and the media will have to incorporate FSL.

It substituted HB 450, and was approved on the second reading on March 3, 2016.

Although there is yet to be a law on FSL, Cebu took a stand by releasing a position paper recognizing FSL as the Filipino deaf communitys national sign language in July 2015.

For Manding, a nationwide FSL law is part of the bigger picture of greater participation in political and public life for PWD and Deaf. (READ: Can PH become a 'deaf-inclusive' country?)

Poor facilities, poorer lives

Explaining the current plight of PWDs in the Philippines, Apilado painted a picture of the opportunities " or lack thereof. Despite plenty of laws on equal employment and social welfare, there are factors outside these laws' control. (READ: FAST FACTS: What persons with disability are entitled to)

If a PWD living in Cainta, for example, got a job in Makati, getting there would be hellish and expensive.

Two options present themselves: riding a jeep or taking a cab. Either way, there is a chance the driver may overcharge them.

One of the stories relayed to Apilado was a cab driver asking for an extra P50 instead of running the meter. He adds that despite noticing some slight improvement, cheating drivers are still an issue.

They are the lucky ones " they have work to go to; others have none.

Almost 50% of PWDs living in urban areas are unemployed, and the number is higher for the rural areas. Jobs also do not ensure a living wage: around half of working PWDs are underemployed and looking for additional sources of income, according to a 2013 Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) report.

This means poverty is also rampant in the sector. The PIDS report noted that 45.9% of urban PWDs and 61.9% of rural PWDs lived below the poverty line. (READ: Aquino signs law on VAT exemption for PWDs)

Equally concerning, however, is that these numbers give only a rough view because not much data actually exists about the state of the Philippines PWDs.

The OHCHR paper reported that near-accurate data is still unavailable in the country, which prevents (or) hinders the Philippine Government from developing the right programs for the disabled sector.

Making their voices count

On May 9, more than 54 million voters will troop to polling places, all excited to make their voices heard, PWDs included. But since they only make up less than 1% of the voting population, will they succeed in 2016? (READ: #PHVote: How accessible are the 2016 elections to PWDs?)

So far, some candidates appear to be interested in including PWDs in their platforms. For Apilado, however, the proof can only be seen once the new leaders are elected.

Although candidates like senatorial bet Martin Romualdez, Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas, and his running mate, Camarines Sur Representative Leni Robredo, have approached the PWD community and expressed their interest to help them, the community itself is skeptical.

Apilado directed this sentiment to candidates, saying, Ang tanong: pag nakaupo ka na, magagawa mo ba lahat ng ito (The question is: once youre seated, will you get all of this done)?

The lack of results of past elections have been disheartening for PWDs, but it has also fueled their desire for change. Apilado explained: Ang tagal na namin nakikipaglaban sa karapatan namin bilang taong may kapansanan, na sinasabi namin na kami ay parte ng ating bansa sa kanyang pag-unlad. Hindi kami second class citizen.

(We have been fighting for our rights as PWDs for so long, that we are saying we are part of our countrys progress. We are not second class citizens.)

Despite the disheartening situation, Apilado said he still had high hopes that the countrys next leader will be more understanding most especially sa mga kapatid nating may kapansanan (to our brothers and sisters with disabilities)."

He later mused, Dapat na isulong na rin ang may mga kapansan bilang mga important members na rin sa ating society sa pagbibigay ng pag-asa din sa ating bansa at pagtulong din sa pamamagitan ng trabaho na maibibigay sa amin.

(We should push forward PWDs as important members of our society in giving our country hope and help them by giving jobs.) " Rappler.com

Author: Ben Orante
Date: April 03, 2016
Source: Rappler.com

SENATOR Ralph Recto called Saturday on the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) to extend the deadline for the application to the scholarship program that would provide teachers affected by the K to 12 program a monthly stipend of at least P20,000 for the duration of their schooling.
In its website, Ched issued a last call for applicants for the "Graduate Education Scholarships for Faculty and Staff Development in the K to 12 Transition Period," with the deadline set on April 1.
"April 1 was the deadline of the application for this scholarship, which is mainly for private college teachers who would otherwise face low or loss of income during the K to 12 transition period," Recto said in a statement.
"The deadline should be extended by a mere 15 days, to April 15, to give more time to teachers who were busy with final tests to collate the required supporting documents," he added.
College enrollment, Recto said, would go down in June as Grade 10 students are retained in schools for two more years of senior high school, prompting government to package a multi-billion-peso bridge financing program for affected personnel.
As the K to 12 Basic Education program enters the senior high school this year, the Department of Education (DepEd) estimated that around 1.21 million Grade 10 students would remain in school for more two years, "which effectively drains the source of college enrollment."
The Philippine Institute for Development Studies had projected that 33,000 college instructors may be potentially idled until 2018. Another group, a coalition of education workers, pegged the number at 86,000 college teachers plus 15,000 non-academic personnel.
A DepEd briefing paper sent to Congress in 2014 had pegged a lower number of 13,634 teachers, or 12 percent of all college teachers, and 11,456 non-teaching staff, or 20 percent of total.
Recto said the scholarships and other K to 12 programs in higher education institutions (HEI) are funded by a P5.27 billion allocation authorized in the 2016 national budget.
Of the said amount, he said P3 billion would be sourced from travel tax collections and state lotto earnings, pooled under the off-budget Higher Education Development Fund, while P2.275 billion was appropriated in the Ched budget for the provision of scholarship to faculty members and HEI administrators.
Under the program, full scholarships for masters and doctoral degrees are being offered to faculty and staff during the transition period, the senator said.
In addition, scholarship for masters and doctoral programs in selected foreign schools select are also offered. Grants for thesis and dissertation writing, professional advancement, and post-doctoral fellowships are also available.
Recto said faculty scholars who qualify under the scholarship would be receiving a package consisting of tuition and fees; monthly stipend; book allowance; transportation allowance; thesis and dissertation allowance; and group insurance.
According to the guidelines, he said the stipend for those who qualify for scholarships for the masters degree is P20,000 monthly, while successful applicants for the doctoral program will receive P28,000 per month.
Recto said there would also be a thesis or dissertation allowance for masters and doctoral programs, amounting to P50,000 and P100,000, respectively. For the teachers staying outside their province, a transportation allowance of P10,000 will be given annually.
The scholarship has two primary goals according to its guidelines issued by Ched on January 12 of this year: mitigate impact on labor of the K to 12 program and to upgrade qualifications of faculty, he said. If these are the objectives, then we should accommodate as many applicants as we can. //

Author: Ruth Abbey Gita
Date: April 02, 2016
Source: Sun Star Cebu

Someone over the break posed the question of what President Benigno Aquino III will leave as a legacy of his presidency. This made me look back at a previous piece that tried to respond to a similar query, although this one was bellicose in its defense of the president.

Boosters will claim that the economy is doing well (it is), that people are satisfied because there are jobs available to them, and because incomes are rising. Cynics and critics immediately disagree of course. The portrait however is not black and white " it it looks more grayish in color.

The near 7%-overall economic growth has been offset by the declines in social welfare indicators. If you take a comparative look and reconsider the number, however, it turns out that the Philippine average GDP growth rate from 2011 to 2014, is 5.9% As of June 2015, the Philippine external debt only declined slightly during the first quarter of the year, but this was not because the government has now the capacity to pay it. The net repayments were made mostly by banks. The only positive sign is the decline in the budget deficit.

Growth has not translated into a leveling of incomes, they argue. Instead, as the economists Ramon G. Albert and Arturo Martinez Jr of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Children and Families have pointed out, the poor continue to increase in numbers, while the wealth of the country remains in the hands of a very small number of families.
It is worth reminding readers of the table they produced in a Rappler report just to show how sordid the income gap has become:
Table 1. Selected Statistics on Income Inequality and (Per Capita) Income Distribution in the Philippines: 2003, 2006 and 2009
Statistics 2003 2006 2009
Average Per Capita Income (in Nominal PHP)
Poorest 20% 7,015 9,494 14,022
Lower Middle 20% 12,461 16,747 24,396
Middle 20% 19,476 26,404 37,606
Upper Middle 20% 32,014 44,247 62,129
Richest 20% 85,891 127,926 176,863
TOTAL 31,369 44,963 62,997
Share of Bottom 20% in National Income 4.48% 4.22% 4.45%
Palma ratio (i.e., income of the top 10% to bottom 40%) 3.09 3.47 3.27
Gini 0.495 0.516 0.506
Note: Author's calculations from FIES 2003, 2006 and 2009.
The figures clearly contradict one of the favorite arguments of Aquinos supporters that programs like the Conditional Cash Transfer Program (CCT) have benefitted the poor. And just to make sure that this was the case, I scoured the Internet for any evidence to the contrary and found this World Bank report that stated how the CCT benefitted the poor by keeping their children healthy and staying in school.
This is a laudable achievement, but is only supplement to more fundamental income-altering measures like increased direct taxes on the wealthy, tax cuts for the middle class, and shifting away from indirect taxation which has harmed the poor more than the affluent. And of course, going full coercion on getting back the billions the Marcoses and their cronies stole from us. The government does go after tax evaders, but on the eve of the end of his reign, President Aquino has not sent a single rich tax evader to jail.

And what of the middle class, the great indicator of social mobility? Has it expanded?
This was what 3 other researchers from the Philippine Institute of Development Studies wrote again in Rappler: Examining the 2006 and 2009 (Family Income and Expenditure Statistics), we find that the relative size of the middle class to all households slightly declined in 2009 to 15.8% (from 16.2 percent in 2006), and increased to 16.7% as of 2012. We find marginal changes in the relative sizes of the other income groups across the period 2006, 2009, and 2012. These were, accordingly, not statistically significant. In short, no movement from the bottom to the top.

President Aquino III has scored a 54% approval rating in the last months of 2015, but this lead over past presidents also needs to be qualified. President Joseph Estradas popularity had risen to 53% from a low 49%. This leaves one to wonder whether Estrada could maintain if not increase his popularity had he not been overthrown by the combination of a business class-led public protest and a coup threat by senior military officers. After his had bungled the police operations that led to the massacre of 44 policemen, Aquinos rate plummeted to 38%, a number much lower than Estradas.

After the massacre of 44 policemen in Tukanalipao, Mamapasano, Aquino was seen as an insensitive leader who cared very little for the welfare of those defending the Philippines. What is seared in the minds of many people, including myself was this scene.
A friend whose husband is with the Philippine National Police told me that on the day the bodies of 42 policemen were flown back to Manila " some with no coffins because the local funeral home ran out of them " Aquino was not in the airport to receive them. He valued more the inauguration of the Mitsubishi plant in Laguna.//


Author: Patricio Abinales
Date: April 02, 2016
Source: Rappler.com

The Philippine economy can grow faster by integrating manufacturing, agriculture and the services sectors, according to Trade and Industry Undersecretary for Industry Development Ceferino Rodolfo.
This was stressed at the recent forum for the implementation of the governments Comprehensive National Industry Strategy (CNIS), which details the countrys overall industrial development strategy that links the manufacturing sector with agriculture and services sectors.
So far we have achieved great strides in the development of industries because of close collaboration with stakeholders. The challenge to us then is to leverage on our strong industry performance in order to stimulate growth in agriculture and to demand greater efficiency from manufacturing-related services sectors. With this collaboration, we expect our economy to grow at a faster rate, Rodolfo said.
The CNIS aims to achieve an additional two percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth for the country in the next six years.
A product of three-year collaborative efforts led by DTI Assistant Secretary Rafaelita Aldaba and research experts from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), the CNIS was presented during the 14th Trade and Industry Development Updates (TID Updates) forum yesterday (28 March 2016) to members of the private sector, academe, and relevant government agencies. Organized by the Philippine Board of Investments (BOI), the industry development and investments promotion arm of the DTI, the forum gathered insights and inputs on the CNIS and how this strategy can further move the economy to become a regional manufacturing, services, and agribusiness hub by 2022.
During the forum, Assistant Secretary Aldaba identified manufacturing, agribusiness, tourism, infrastructure, and logistics and IT business process management as the core industries which are expected to play key roles in realizing economic growth.
PIDS research fellows Roehlano Briones and Ramoette Serafica presented the current state of the agribusiness and services industries in the country and how the CNIS can move these industries to grow and be globally competitive.
Briones said that while the manufacturing industry has been performing well, at six percent over the past five to six years, agribusiness is barely moving. Serafica on the other hand said that while the services sector has been able to sustain its strong growth, a majority part of this is focused on the IT-BPM sector while the rest of the subsectors of services have narrow growth.
Given the current economic structure, we can realize sustainable growth by successfully integrating the agribusiness and services sectors. The question being asked about the Philippines is not: Will the country continue to experience growth? But rather, by how much faster can we grow? It depends on how our CNIS can move our three sectors into a mutually-reinforcing virtuous cycle of growth. Continuous dialogue among the different sectors is key. Our CNIS is not just a document, it represents an inclusive process, Rodolfo said.//

Author:
Date: April 02, 2016
Source: Manila Bulletin

State think-tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies expects the Philippine economy to expand by 6.6 percent this year, which is at the lower end of the governments 6.5 to 7.5 percent growth target.

In a presentation yesterday, PIDS senior research fellow Adoracion Navarro said that the economy is seen to grow above 6 percent despite the risks ahead.

Even with the likely increase in domestic interest rates due to the monetary tightening of the BSP and the end of the US quantitative easing, there is still sufficient slack in investments and wide room for productivity improvements, Navarro said.

Thus, we expect that these developments will not significantly dampen investor confidence, she added.

However, the agencys forecast for 2014 is slower than the 7.2 percent expansion in 2013, which was an election year.

PIDS said that capital formation was a significant factor in the economic performance in 2013, and is expected to have a lag effect.

Investments as a domestic driver of growth will thus remain significant. Construction is likely to accelerate due to post-disaster reconstruction efforts, more aggressive infrastructure investments and the start of some public-private partnership projects, the agency said.

PIDS said that the damage to agriculture and support infrastructure wrought by Super Typhoon Yolanda has a considerable effect on the growth potential of the affected region.

However, the typhoons overall negative impact on the agriculture sectors performance in 2013 was minimal.

The minimal contribution of the agricultural sector to value added growth in 2013 is projected to persist in 2014 because of low productivity and investments in that sector, PIDS said.

PIDS said that inflation is likely to be slightly higher this year at 4 percent, and will be driven by higher food and electricity prices as low agricultural productivity continues and tight supply margins in the power grid remain.

The depreciation of the peso could also push overall inflation up through its impact on imported inputs, the agency said.

Nevertheless, the projected inflation rate is still within the governments 3 to 5 percent target, it added.

The think tank said that the depreciation trend of the peso is expected to continue and will average P45 to a $1.

The peso-dollar exchange rate will continue to be influenced by the tapering of the US monetary expansion. But its impact is expected to be moderate as investors have likely incorporated this expectation in advance into their investment decisions, PIDS said.

This increased competitiveness of the peso will have positive impacts on the exports sector, it added.//

Author: Angela Celis
Date: April 04, 2016
Source: Malaya

The national government (NG) must improve the countrys resilience to economic shocks, including disasters, according to a Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) discussion paper.
In the paper, titled Risks, Shocks, Building Resilience: Philippines, PIDS President Gilbert Llanto said the government has not provided sufficient policies and budgets to make this happen.
Llanto added that the government must create evidence-based policies and steps that will prepare and strengthen the country to counter impacts of interconnected risks and adverse shocks.
It is obvious that there is a need for more empirical studies on macroeconomic and microeconomic vulnerability, and how systems resilience can be boosted and strengthened, Llanto said.
But, alas, it seems that decision-makers provide only token support to this objective, policy-wise and budget-wise, given the meager resources and attention given to policy research, research and development and the production of knowledge products in general, he said.
Llanto, citing data from the 2014 World Risk Report, highlighted the vulnerability of the Philippines to various shocks. Data showed the Philippines is 52.46-percent exposed to these shocks and is ranked third worldwide.
Exposure, the study said, referred to population, conditions of built-up areas, infrastructure component, environmental area that are being exposed to the impacts of one or more natural hazards.
This is because there are many low-lying, and even coastal, communities in the Philippines that can be at risk in the event of typhoons and other natural disasters, such as sea-level rise.
Further, the same data showed the Philippines is ranked second globally in terms of risk, which is the interaction between exposure to natural hazards, including the adverse effects of climate change, and the vulnerability of societies.
The Philippines is peculiarly challenged to build economic resilience as indicated by its high risk exposure and vulnerability, Llanto said.
Building economic resilience assumes critical importance because it is impossible to insulate the economy from interconnected risks and shocks, he added.
Some of the measures that the government instituted to respond to shocks in recent years include the Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program, the Conditional-Cash Transfer (CCT) and the National Food Authoritys Rice Access Program.
These were instituted under the Arroyo administration to respond to the 2009 global financial crisis and the rice-price crisis in 2008.
The CCT, known locally as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), is still in effect today and has recently been expanded to include high-school students.
It provides grants to poor families if they send their children to school, visit health centers and attend family-development sessions.
Since the programs inception, the number of CCT partner-beneficiaries increased from 340,000 to more than 4.4 million at the end of 2015"making it the fourth-largest CCT after programs in India, Brazil and Mexico.
The program has expanded rapidly since it began in 2008 and has evolved over time based on lessons and experience.
Examples of evidence-based program adjustments include first increasing the grant amount for older children and expanding the eligibility cut-off from 14 years of age to 18 to raise the rates of high-school graduation of children from poor families.//

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: April 06, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

QUEZON CITY, April 5 -- State think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), in coordination with the Cordillera Studies Center, University of the Philippines (UP) Baguio, will be hosting a policy research form on Human Capital: Health, Education, and Building Resilience at the Sarmiento Hall, Alumni Center, UP Baguio on April 6, Wednesday.

Two studies will be presented at the seminar. One is on the results of an impact evaluation study on the Department of Educations (DepED) School-Based Feeding Program to be presented by PIDS Consultant and Pulse Asia Research Director Ana Maria Tabunda. The other paper is on managing risks and building resilience by PIDS President Gilberto Llanto.

As the country looks forward to weighing candidate profiles in the upcoming elections, the subject of evaluating government policies is equally critical to the pursuit of good governance. The School-Based Feeding Program is an intervention developed by the national government to weaken the link relating absenteeism, early dropout and poor classroom performance as a direct result of malnutrition and poor health among elementary children.

The programs performance and impact were evaluated for the first time by Tabunda, who is also a professor at the School of Statistics in UP Diliman, and fellow researchers Jose Ramon Albert, senior fellow at the PIDS, and Imelda Angeles-Agdeppa.

The study covers the school year (SY) 2013-2014, when the government spent P77.493 million to target the feeding of 40,361 severely wasted children across the country. For SY 2015-2016, the program has been expanded to cover 532,752 severely wasted children and 627,403 wasted children at a budget of P2.27 billion.

Tabundas presentation will demonstrate the performance and impact of the program, and enumerate policy areas for improvement.

Similarly, the second presentation will touch on the policy areas of risk management and building resilience. Exposure to risk is determined by measuring how much of a countrys population is exposed to one or more natural hazards.

With the countrys geography sitting on a trifecta of environmental disasters"earthquake belt, ring of fire, and typhoon corridor"it is no surprise the Philippines is ranked the third most exposed country.

However, policies should not end with managing risks and strengthening resilience to natural disasters alone. Economic and sociopolitical risks exist, too, and entail developing multiple resilient systems. Llantos study will expound on the policy issues and challenges facing the countrys decisionmakers, incumbent and new.

This policy research forum is part of the Institute's program to disseminate findings from studies conducted to evaluate the effectiveness and impacts of key government programs and projects. Spearheaded by the National Economic and Development Authority and the Department of Budget and Management, these impact evaluation (IE) studies were conducted to promote greater transparency and accountability in government.

Through these IE studies, policymakers and program implementers will have concrete basis in determining whether a particular program is achieving its intended outcomes or whether it needs to be fine-tuned or discontinued. (PIDS) //

Author:
Date: April 05, 2016
Source: PIA

Teachers displaced by the K-12 basic education program should be given more time to apply for the government-funded scholarship program for higher education degrees, Sen. Ralph Recto said Saturday.

Recto called on the Commission on Higher Education to extend by two weeks, or up to April 15, the April 1 deadline for application to the Graduate Education Scholarships for Faculty and Staff Development in the K to 12 Transition Period.
The program provides free tuition to faculty members and staff who will go for masters and doctoral degrees, with stipends of P20,000 to P28,000 a month depending on the degree.

Scholarships in selected foreign schools are also available, as well as grants for thesis and dissertation writing, professional advancement and post-doctoral fellowships.
The government scholarship is mainly for private college teachers who stand to lose or lower their incomes during the transition period for the K-12 program.

The Philippine Institute for Development Studies had projected that 33,000 college instructors may be idled until 2018.//

Author: Leila Salaverria
Date: April 04, 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

SENATORIAL candidate Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said yesterday the next administration should do everything possible to strengthen the countrys resilience to economic shocks and natural disasters.
Romualdez issued the call following the release of a report by a think-tank, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, that the government has failed to come up with the appropriate policies and enough funds to prepare the country for the adverse impacts of interconnected risks and adverse shocks.
I concur with the view that we should accelerate efforts to enhance our ability to cope with both natural disasters and economic crisis, said Romualdez.
We owe it to our people, particularly those living in poverty, that they are shielded from the negative impact of disasters, whether natural or manmade, he added.
The 2014 World Risk Report cited by the government study said the Philippines is ranked third worldwide in terms of its vulnerability to economic shocks and natural hazards.
The report also said the Philippines is ranked second globally in terms of risks, such as exposure to climate change and global warming.

Romualdez pointed out that he has already filed a bill seeking to create a separate department for disaster preparedness and emergency response to streamline government efforts to cope with natural disasters.

The senatorial candidate, who is the leader of the Independent Minority Bloc in Congress, has also filed another bill seeking to institutionalize and expand the coverage of the Conditional-Cash Transfer (CCT), known locally as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

The CCT, begun in 2008, provides a monthly allowance to poor families in exchange for sending their children to school, visiting health centers and attending family-development sessions. Since the programs inception, the number of CCT partner-beneficiaries has increased from 340,000 to more than 4.4 million at the end of last year.

Romualdez is running for a seat in the Senate on a platform of compassionate governance anchored on job creation, health, education and disaster resilience.//

Author:
Date: April 09, 2016
Source: Journal Online

MANILA, Philippines " Dapat gumalaw ang susunod na Pangulo para ihanda ang bansa sa mga dagok sa ekonomiya at mga natural na kalamidad, ayon kay senatorial candidate Martin Romualdez.
Nanawagan si Romualdez, dahil sa ulat ng Philippine Institute for Development Studies na ang pamahalaan umano ay nabigo na magpatupad ng tamang patakaran at kinulang din sa pondo para ihanda ang bansa sa mga adverse impacts ng sama-samang kalamidad.
I concur with the view that we should accelerate efforts to enhance our ability to cope with both natural disasters and economic crisis, sabi ni Romualdez.
We owe it to our people, particularly those living in poverty, that they are shielded from the negative impact of disasters, whether natural or manmade, dagdag pa niya.
Nasasaad rin sa sinabing 2014 World Risk Report na ang Pilipinas ay pang-tatlo sa buong mundo pagdating sa vulnerability to economic shocks and natural hazards.
Binanggit rin ng ulat na ang Pilipinas ay pangalawa sa mundo pagdating sa risks, gaya ng exposure nito sa climate change at global warming.
Ayon kay Romualdez, siya anya ay naghain na ng panukalang batas para magkaroon ng hiwalay na departamento para sa disaster preparedness at emergency response upang pabilisin ang responde ng pamahalaan kapag may kalamidad.
Ang lider ng Independent Minority Bloc sa Congress na si Romualdez ay naghain rin ng isa pang panukalang batas na nauukol sa Conditional-Cash Transfer (CCT), o tinatawag na Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), na layon niyang palawakin ang sakop.
Ang CCT na nagsimula noong 2008 ay naglalaan ng buwanang allowance sa mga mahihirap na pamilya, basta pag-aaralin lang nila ang mga bata, at huwag kaligtaang bumisita sa mga health centers at dadalo rin sa mga family-development sessions.
Mula nang magsimula ang programa, ang bilang ng CCT partner-beneficiaries ay lumaki mula 340,000 hanggang 4.4 million sa katapusan ng nakaraang taon.
Si Romualdez ay tumatakbo sa pagka-senador at ang plataporma niyang compassionate governance ay nakatuon sa job creation, health, education at disaster resilience.//

Author: Butch Quejada
Date: April 10, 2016
Source: Pilipino Star Ngayon

After the successful hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, what is next for Philippine economic diplomacy in 2016? The presidential election in May 2016 provides an opportunity for the country to assess and recalibrate its policies to achieve the national interest. In the Department of Foreign Affairs, one policy that has been emphasized and will continue to be important is the promotion of our economic security through economic diplomacy.
The Philippine economy in 2016
In his year-end media briefing, Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said that there is a possibility that the Philippines can gain higher middle-income economy status by the end of the next administration. The National Economic Development Authority expects that the countrys high growth rate trajectory will continue; the Asian Development Bank forecasts the 2016 GDP growth rate to be at 6.3 percent. The International Monetary Fund pegs the growth rate at 6 percent; IMF Assistant Director for Asia Pacific Chikahisa Sumi remarked that The economic outlook is favorable but subject to increased downside risks, including lower growth in China and the region, higher global financial volatility and capital outflows, and weather-related disruptions.
Further, Sumi reported that the Philippines can withstand some global economic instability, stating that the Philippines capacity to respond if global risks materialize is substantial given its ample reserves and policy space, both monetary and fiscal. The reports are generally upbeat on the economys performance; thus, the new administration coming in will be in a favorable position to make economic diplomacy a useful tool for development and progress.
Economic diplomacy
Economic diplomacy is one of the cornerstones of a countrys diplomacy. It refers to the use of a countrys economic power, institutions, actors, and conditions to advance its national interest. It is not just the drive to get foreign investments or find- ing new markets for export products; economic diplomacy is part of a countrys foreign policy toolkit. Given the soundness of the Philippines economic fundamentals, the government must use these to advance its agenda in the regional and global levels. The current interdependence brought about by globalization puts pressure on governments especially foreign, economic, and trade ministries. Two scholars, Dr. Raymond Saner and Dr. Lichia Yiu, noted that this pressure is due to two competing activities: while states must engage in fierce economic competition, they must still cooperate to shape global regulatory frameworks and institutions such as the WTO to their favor.
For the Philippines, it is imperative that it remains competitive both by having a strategic approach to the external economic environment and by having a productive and innovative domestic market.
Actions and gaps
What the Philippine government must do is to step up in being a proactive economic player by further enacting reforms and making sound regulations. Several policymakers and prominent members of society have pointed to the need to reform the economic aspects of the countrys constitution. One such reform is Executive Order 184 issued by President Benigno S. Aquino III. This policy removed foreign ownership restrictions on lending companies, investment houses, and financing firms. The executive order also lessened the number of professions reserved only for Filipinos but as noted by FSI analyst Jovito Jose Katigbak, the 40 percent cap on ownership of private lands, natural resources, public utilities, media, advertising, and the reciprocal provision on foreign professionals have been retained. Further, former chief economic planner Cielito Habito noted that investments must fill infrastructure gaps which are critical to energy, transportation, and ICT.
Another issue for the Philippines is the restrictiveness of the investment environment. The OECD Foreign Direct Regulatory Restrictiveness Index 2014 reported that the Philippines is the most restrictive among its fellow ASEAN member-states. According to Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) experts Gilberto Llanto and Erlinda Medalla, the Philippines will remain behind its peers if it does not address a plethora of issues such as a lack of harmonized investment regime, an uncompetitive tax system, governance issues such as corruption at the national and local levels, and infrastructure problems such as slow internet, inefficient public transportation system and high cost of electricity.
Another area that needs to be examined is legal certainty; oftentimes, foreign investment projects and even government projects are subjected to legal scrutiny that, according to a study by Dr. Clarita Carlos, have destroyed the reliability of contracts and predictability in the enforcement of obligations. Foreign investors may need assurances that contracts will be honored; to increase the confidence of foreign investors, foreign law firms may need to be given permission to work with local law firms to assist these investors in navigating the Philippines legal system.
Next steps: proactive economic player in the global arena
Economic diplomacy must be given priority in the DFAs future strategy. Among others, the Department must continue to improve its economic diplomacy agenda to attract good investments, safeguard trade interests, and find new markets for services and products. All of these will hinge on a Philippine economy that is strong and open to trade and investment. Part of this strategy is to continue capacity building on economic diplomacy particularly on business and finance. The DFA and FSI can further invest in training the officers and staff of the Department to complement the work of the Department of Trade and Industrys trade attaches.
Foreign Service Posts must be proactive in coming up with projects and activities that will enhance business and trade inter- est in the Philippine market. This involves giving further focus on trade missions, tourism promotion, and cultural activities that promote the Philippines as an investment and tourist destination. At home, government agencies must be able to identify where the opportunities lie and extend trade missions regularly. Countries in Africa and Central and South America, while not seen as bright spots for Philippine products presently, will provide huge opportunities in the future. It will benefit the government to send trade or scoping missions to these areas to determine what opportunities will be available for Philippine business.
*About the authors:
Ambassador Laura Q. Del Rosario is currently the Undersecretary for International Economic Relations of the Department of Foreign Affairs and former FSI Director.
Mr. Julio S. Amador III is the Deputy Director-General of the Foreign Service Institute.
Source:
This article was published by FSI as CIRSS Commentary VOL. III, NO. 4 APRIL 2016

Author: Laura Q. Del Rosario and Julio S. Amador III
Date: April 12, 2016
Source: Eurasia Review

Dr Charles Amoatey, Lecturer, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration Business School said the evaluation policy in the public sector should be guided by the national vision, and aligned to long-term development plan.

He stressed that the policy should be relevant, effective and implemented, understood by everybody, produced in a consistent way to allow for aggregate benchmarking and ensure the efficient allocation of roles.

Dr Amoatey said this at a dialoque on National Evaluation Policy for the country in Accra organized by the Ghana Monitoring and Evaluation Forum and supported by the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

He was of the view that to finance evaluation, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) should allocate a percentage of their budgets to evaluation, public policy and major cross-sectoral evaluations be budgeted from National Development Planning Commission budget .

Dr Amoatey said the countrys evaluation system is currently in a transition period and that there is very low prioritization of evaluation across the public sector.

He said several countries have written, legislated national evaluation policies but do not have the capacity, saying African countries use evaluation to comply with World Bank, United Nations Development Planning, and other donors criteria for funding.

Touching on the evaluation policy for Philippine, Dr Amoatey said the country categorized its evaluation policy under three strategies including short term, medium term and long term.

He said the short term deals with the creation of government bodies, that is evaluation task force, an evaluation secretariat and an interim technical working group, while the medium term focus on ad hoc evaluation department through an executive order which report to the office of the President and the long term formalizes the creation of an evaluation department that is independent of the executive and the legislative branch of government.

Dr Amoatey said some of the challenges of the Philippines evaluation policy was lack of capacity of agencies to manage evaluation and varying levels of monitoring and evaluation capacities across agencies.

He said some of the possible ways of addressing the challenges was to have joint evaluations with development partners and the Philippine Institute for Development Studies has 22 ongoing and proposed impact studies supported by the Monitoring and Evaluation fund.

He said Ghana needs to consider its options by looking at the experiences of other developing countries like the Philippine and the South Africans.

Author:
Date: April 11, 2016
Source: News Ghana

The next administration should increase taxes and reform the countrys tax system so the government could hike its spending for infrastructure and social services by P900 billion a year, according to local economists and the World Bank.
In a report, the World Bank said the Philippines needs to increase its investment in the infrastructure and social services sectors by 6.8 percent of GDP, which is equivalent to P900 billion, to achieve inclusive growth.
The World Bank said this could be financed via reforms in the governments tax administration and tax policy.
Higher and more efficient public spending, underpinned by increased revenue mobilization, is needed to raise physical and human capital and sustain inclusive growth, World Bank Philippines senior country economist Karl Kendrick Chua said.
Relying solely on tax-administration reforms is not enough, Chua added.
Former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno told the BusinessMirror that the countrys tax system needs to be overhauled, as it is highly unequal. This, he said, is crucial as the countrys tax collection is among the lowest in the region at 15 percent of GDP.
Diokno said increasing the tax collection to around 18 percent of GDP will help improve government revenues.
In general, politicians are afraid to increase taxes. To me, the next president should be bold enough, considering that he or she will only be in office for one term, he said.
Diokno said overhauling the tax system entails the reduction in income and corporate tax, rationalizing tax incentives, introducing new taxes or changing existing taxes.
He said the government could consider increasing property taxes and even setting a flexible rate for the excise tax on petroleum to ensure that the government would not lose revenues when the price of oil in the world market declines.
For his part, Eagle Watch senior fellow Alvin Ang said the overhaul of the tax system should also include improving the collection of taxes from small firms. Citing his own experience, Ang said small firms have difficulties paying taxes because they are not familiar with the system.
If the next administration can address these problems in the tax system, Ang said the government will be able to raise enough funds to erase its social-service spending backlog.
He said that while the governments spending for education doubled, health tripled, social protection quadrupled, and budget for infrastructure increased sixfold between 2010 and 2016, these are not enough. Many decades of underinvestment, Ang said, created a huge backlog in social-service spending, which will take time to address.
The World Bank said the government must consider the removal of value-added tax measures that are not backed up by clear economic rationale and to index rates and valuations to inflation.
In a recent forum, experts from the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (Pids), Department of Finance, and Tax Management Association of the Philippines were all in agreement that the countrys tax system needs reform.
The countrys Personal Income Tax (Pit), specifically, has not been updated since the 1997. This has resulted in what is called bracket creep where low-income taxpayers hurt more than their high-income counterparts.
Bracket creep, Pids senior research fellow Rosario G. Manasan said, has occurred because of the non-indexation to inflation of Pit brackets.
This means that the coverage of each tax bracket does not take into consideration the current value of the peso. Manasan said this presents a problem because the current value of the Philippine peso, using the 2014 Consumer Price Index (CPI), is already less than half of its value in 1998.
This means that an annual income of P210,000 a year in 2014 is only equivalent to P105,000 in 1998.
With this, taxpayers earning P210,000 should only be paying P15,500 worth of tax, or 14.8 percent, instead of P40,000, or 19 percent.

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: April 11, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

ILOILO CITY, April 11 (PIA) --- The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) announced development packages for faculty and staff in higher education institutions (HEIs) who will experience a much lower workload during the K-12 transition period.

In a media release, CHED-6 chief education program specialist Dr.Rex Casiple said that this comprehensive range of developmental programs will not only curb the adverse effects of the transition but also, and more importantly, upgrade higher education in the country.

Under the scholarships for graduate studies and professional advancement, CHED will give a total of 15,000 scholarships to higher education personnel " for 8,000 to complete masters degrees and another 7,000 to finish doctorate degrees.

For development grants for faculty and staff or for those who may not wish to go on full-time study, CHED said that they may still avail of grants that will allow them to retool, engage in research, community service, industry immersion, and other programs throughout the transition period.

CHED is also set to offer innovation grants for institutions. HEIs may apply for innovation grants to fund the upgrading of their programs through: (1) international linkages, (2) linkages with industry, (3) research, or (4) the development of priority, niche, or endangered programs.

CHED also clarified that the estimated displacement stands at 25,000 people and it is not true that 80,000 people stand to lose their jobs in light of the transition.

According to a study conducted by CHED, the Philippines Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), and the UP Population Institute, only about 13,274 teaching (12% of total) and 10,464 non-teaching (18% of total) personnel may be displaced across the 5 years (2016-2021) K-12 transition period.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education (DepEd) needs to hire 30,000 new teachers and 6,000 new non-teaching staff in 2016-2017 alone, and about the same number again for 2017-2018"more than enough to absorb all the displaced personnel from the higher education sector.

DepEd will open a Green Lane to prioritize and fast-track their hiring, in keeping with Republic Act 10533, and will match them according to locality and salary.

Those who will opt not to transfer to DepEd, on the other hand, will benefit from the Adjustment Measures Program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

DOLE will provide income support for a maximum duration of one year, employment facilitation that matches their skills to the current job market, and training and livelihood programs in case they may want to pursue entrepreneurship. (JCM/LTP/PIA-Iloilo).//

Author: Leonard Pineda
Date: April 11, 2016
Source: PIA

The next Congress must prioritize the amendment of a law which allowed Manila to protect the rice sector by limiting the entry of cheap rice imports, a senior official of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said on Monday.
Neda Deputy Director General Rosemarie Edillon said Republic Act (RA) 8178, or the Agricultural Tariffication Act, should be amended before the extension of the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice granted by the World Trade Organization (WTO) expires in July 2017.
While the QR on rice has temporarily given palay farmers a reprieve from the deluge of cheap imports, its extension has necessitated the grant of concessions that were detrimental to other farm sectors.
July 2017 is less than two years away and when the new Congress begins its session, I suppose [the amendment of RA 8178] will have to be one of the first bills that should be filed and passed, Edillon told the BusinessMirror in an interview.
After July 2017, the Philippines may no longer be allowed to enjoy the QR, as it has been over 20 years since the country joined the WTO. The Philippines officially became a member of the WTO on January 1, 1995.
The countrys accession to the WTO means it agreed to liberalize trade for all commodities, including rice"the countrys staple.
Over time, other countries, like Japan and South Korea, were no longer allowed to impose the QR, allowing rice imports to arrive freely in their markets, provided traders would pay the corresponding tariff and duties.
Edillon said Manilas decision to retain the protection for rice is due to the fact that Filipinos consider it irreplaceable as it is a cheap everyday food.
The exemption also aims to protect farmers, many of whom could not compete in the international market. Only farmers living in plains like those in Central Luzon will be able to compete with international rice sellers.
What were saying is that protection doesnt have to be in the form of QR. In fact, if you replace QR with tariffs, the money could be used to modernize our agriculture, Edillon said.
The government could help farmers currently planting rice in nonsuitable areas to shift to cultivating other more
profitable crops. It is a win-win proposition, she added.
The Neda and the World Bank said that in lieu of the QR, the Philippines can set rice tariffs at 35 percent to 40 percent, or even 30 percent, when the WTO waiver expires in July 2017.
The World Bank said this is the most acceptable thing to do since assigning a tariff on rice and gradually reducing it will encourage free trade and result in the decline in local rice prices.
The Washington-based multilateral development bank said poor Filipinos, who allocate 20 percent of their household budgets for rice, are the ones who suffer the most when the price of the staple goes up.
Retaining the QR and the governments control over the countrys rice trade did not result in 100 rice self-sufficiency"a campaign promise made by President Aquino. Farmers have remained poor and consumers are forced to buy expensive rice. This despite allocating around 65 percent of the budget of the Department of Agriculture and related government- owned and-controlled corporations for rice production since the 1960s. Government efforts to boost output were fraught with low-quality investments and few support mechanisms.
Decades of substantial budget outlays, even when supported by QR on rice imports with high in-quota tariffs and government control over rice trade by the National Food Authority, did not advance the goal of rice self-sufficiency, the World Bank said.
Instead, rice supply has been inadequate and kept domestic rice prices artificially high relative to world prices, it added.
Philippine Institute for Development Studies senior fellow Roehlano Briones said the governments rice spending reached P37.44 billion in 2012, almost half of the governments total agriculture spending in that year. Data showed that the government spent a total of P62.64 billion for agriculture-related programs and projects. This was significantly higher than the P14.38 billion spent in 2005.
Also, government spending for other crops like corn only amounted to P951 million in 2012; high-value crops, P1.63 billion; coconut, P2.08 billion; livestock, P2.72 billion; and 3.308 billion for fisheries.//


Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: April 11, 2016
Source: Business World

SENATORIAL candidate Ferdinand Martin Romualdez has called on government agencies to make the Philippines more resilient to economic shocks and natural disasters.
The three-term Leyte lawmaker issued the call following the release of a report by a think tank, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, showing that the Aquino administration has failed to come up with the appropriate policies and adequate funds to prepare the country to counter the adverse impacts of interconnected risks and adverse shocks.
I concur with the view that we should accelerate efforts to enhance our ability to cope with both natural disasters and economic crisis, Romualdez said.
We owe it to our people, particularly those living in poverty, that they are shielded from the negative impact of disasters, whether natural or man-made, he added.
The 2014 World Risk Report cited by the government study said the Philippines is ranked third worldwide in terms of its vulnerability to economic shocks and natural hazards.
The report also said the Philippines is ranked second globally in terms of risks, such as exposure to climate change and global warming, a fact made evident by the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda that ravaged Eastern Visayas particularly Tacloban in Leyte where tens of thousands of people perished and billions in pesos of property damaged.
Romualdez pointed out that he has already filed a bill seeking to create a separate department for disaster preparedness and emergency response to streamline government efforts in coping with natural disasters.
The senatorial bet, who is the leader of the Independent Minority Bloc in Congress, has also filed another bill seeking to institutionalize and expand the coverage of the Conditional-Cash Transfer, known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). The CCT, which began in 2008, provides a monthly allowance to poor families in exchange for sending their children to school, visiting health centers and attending family-development sessions.
Since the programs inception, the number of CCT partner-beneficiaries has increased from 340,000 to more than 4.4 million at the end of last year. Romualdez is running for a seat in the Senate on a platform of compassionate governance anchored on job creation, health, education and disaster resilience.//


Author:
Date: April 10, 2016
Source: Manila Standard Today

WHILE Filipinos comprised the largest population of online freelancers in the world, they are also considered easily replaceable by machines, according to the World Bank.
In the recently report, titled East Asia and the Pacific (EAP) Update, the World Bank said the information technology and business-process outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry accounted for 13 percent of GDP in 2013.
However, 85 percent of the revenues are generated in jobs that are intensive in routine cognitive tasks, with workers increasingly susceptible to automation. Low wages will delay this process but are unlikely to halt it, the World Bank said.
The Washington-based lender said online freelancers are part of the million-strong IT-BPO.
The World Bank said direct employment reached 1 million full-time employees in August 2014 from virtually zero in 1999.
In 2012 average annual compensation per employee in the industry was around $8,849, almost three times the countrys per capita.
Outsourcing opportunities are increasing in other areas through online work, providing workers and firms with access to the global employment marketplace, the World Bank report read.
On oDesk, which is part of the biggest online outsourcing platform Upwork, the largest number of contractors in relation to country population is in the Philippines, followed by India, the United States, Bangladesh and Pakistan, it added.
The World Bank said digital technologies have made online freelancing a major source of jobs in the East Asia and the Pacific region.
The bank said the popularity of internet-enabled offshoring has taken away millions of jobs from the US economy. An estimated one in four jobs in the US has already been offshored or could be offshored in the future.
The other EAP countries with sizable freelancers include Australia, China and Indonesia. In Elance, which is also part of Upwork, about 44 percent of workers are women, compared with just 25 percent in the nonagricultural economy.
Further expansion of freelancing in EAP will require addressing issues that are related to language [mainly English], regulations, payment platforms and trust, the World Bank, however, said.
In 2007 state-owned think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (Pids) said BPO-based growth would not lead to sustainable GDP growth.
The recent success of the IT-BPO sector, the Policy Note stated, the government wanted to shift its economic policy to extend greater support for the services sector compared to the manufacturing sector.
Despite this, Pids said it would be unwise to abandon the manufacturing sector in favor of the services sector because jobs in the services sector are dependent on third-party options who may or may not choose to invest in the country at any given time. //

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: April 17, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

GENERIKA Drugstore, the countrys third-largest player and half-owned by Ayala Corp., eyes aggressive expansion in the countrys far-flung areas and, possibly, in the Southeast Asian region, as its executives see the publics general acceptance of generic drugs.

Teodoro Ferrer, president of Generika, said the company plans to add 152 stores in its current network of more than 600 this year, and an average of 100 stores annually over the next few years.

We need to grow further to more than 1,000 stores in less than five years, Ferrer said in an interview at the sidelines of the Asia SME Summit 2016, organized by the Asia CEO Forum. We also need to focus the product line to include food supplements and also focus on health care and wellness, and not just on medicines.

Ferrer said such endeavor could be considered already aggressive for a company the size of Generika, founded 12 years ago. He added the companys tack should not be compared with opening a branch for a convenience store that sell mostly food and grocery items.

You need to have approvals from the local government, from the FDA [Food and Drug Administration]; hire a licensed pharmacist; and then look for the right franchise owner that will take care of your store.

Ferrer said the company will put branches in far-flung areas of the country where he believes its services are needed. But were not necessarily leaving the urban centers where we also have a huge customer base, he added.

Last year the Ayala group, through its Ayala Healthcare Holdings Inc., acquired 50 percent of Generika after it bought the share of Frenchman Julien Bello, the drug retailers cofounder.

Mabuhay Capital served as financial advisor to the group of Bello in its transaction with Ayala Healthcare.

Ayala allowed Ferrer, who still owns half of the company, to continue serving as Generikas president and CEO.

Ferrer himself worked with the Ayala group for 30 years. He served at the groups property firm Mermac Inc., which, in turn, owns about half of the countrys oldest conglomerate.

Ferrer said after Ayala group came into the company, they found there are still many house-fixing to do in Generika for it to become at par with the good governance standards of the conglomerate. He added that he and Bello had some disagreements, which came to point of stalemate in the decision of where the company should go.

But despite the stalemate, we were still able to grow the company, Ferrer said.
However, he admitted the five-year plan they crafted with Ayala group executives has set high targets for the company, as it now competes with Mercury Drug, the countrys top pharmaceutical firm, and The Generics Pharmacy, the Philippines largest generic-drug retailer.

At the moment, about 42 percent of the total branches of Generika are company-owned, since previously it didnt have the capital to own stores, which cost about P1.2 million to P1.5 million to build. The rest of the stores are operated through franchise owners.

Now that our profit is increasing and Ayala group has come in, we can now expand company-owned stores.

Ferrer said he wants to increase the ratio to 50 percent in order for them to have a control in the drugstore network.

Generics medicines, he added, will continue to have a share in the countrys pharmaceutical market that even a big drugstore, such as Mercury Drug, known to sell branded medicines, has changed its business model and are now also selling generic drugs.

Some 12 years ago, no one buys generic drugs. But through our constant education, we were able to convince the public that it is safe to take generic medicines, he said.

Medicines are protected by patents and, normally, these patents expire in 20 years, Ferrer said. Then the trend toward [the intake of] generic medicines in the Philippines, and globally, is inevitable. It will just get more and more market share because the moment the patents expire, thats when anybody can come up with their generic equivalent.

Generic drugs are about 85 percent to 90 percent cheaper than the branded ones, he said.

The company is also in talks with other firms for Generika to supply their medicine requirements, as part of its effort to convince the public to switch to generic drugs. These include Ayala-controlled companies, such as Manila Water Inc. and Integrated Microelectronics Inc. Likewise, Ferrer said they are also eyeing the local unit of Lufthansa.

Ferrer added that the company has no plans yet to go public since the capital that Ayala infused is enough for the company to expand in the local market.

What is more feasible, Ferrer said, is to expand to other countries in Southeast Asia as part of the Asean economic integration. That plan, however, is not a priority right now since we have much to do at the home soil, according to
Ferrer. But the idea is not far-fetched since other Ayala-led firms are expanding in the region, he added.

If you open in another country, it makes a lot of sense to find a local partner. It becomes feasible all of a sudden. Ferrer said. Right now, Ayala has projects in other countries, so that may open doors [for us]. Maybe their local partner in real estate or in water may also turn out to be a good partner for something like a generic drugstore chain in that country.

Generika is part of the health-care venture of Ayala, which is also in the process of putting up retail clinics to cater to middle class health-care consumers in major cities across the country.

Paolo Borromeo, head of the conglomerates Corporate Strategy and Development Group, said the move is still on its early stages and experimental, but it is looking at opening 100 stand-alone clinics under the brand FamilyDoc during the next three years across the country.

Last December the company opened two pilot clinics"one in Las Pias and the other in Imus in Cavite. The said clinics are for profit and will not be part of the companys corporate social responsibility.

We are at a very early stage but the idea is. We took models from the US, India and Indonesia, where you have small format primary-care clinics that [is] a pharmacy, a convenience store and a diagnostics [center] all in one, Borromeo said. He added Generikas would also have a blood laboratory.
At any given time, he said, the clinic will be staffed by at least five medical professionals: one doctor, two nurses, one pharmacist and one lab technicians.

All of these professionals will be employed by the company, he said.

Ferrers view of the generics drugs sector goes against a survey by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) that said the use"and even awareness of generic medicines in the country"was still low despite the passage of Republic Act 6675, also known as the Generics Act of 1988, and campaigns done by the Department of Health.

The authors of the study surveyed over a thousand respondents and only 7.2 percent knew the correct definition of generic drugs.

Around 71 percent were partially knowledgeable or able to mention that either generic drugs were of the same quality as that of branded drugs or generic drugs were cheaper than branded drugs.

The results also showed that 21.52 percent were not knowledgeable at all, and gave incorrect definitions of generic drugs.

The authors also said that, across six geographic zones, respondents who correctly identified three or four generic drugs were in the National Capital Region, while the lowest was in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The study, titled How effective has the Generics Act Been? was authored by PIDS consultants and researchers led by John Q. Wong of the Ateneo de Manila University.//

(With report from Cai U. Ordinario)

Author: VG Cabuag
Date: April 20, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

Less than 50 percent of sustainable employment targets in Calamba, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon (Calabarzon) and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) under the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) employment program have been met, according to a study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
In the discussion paper, PIDS researchers said that only 39 percent of CCT families have been served under Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) in Calabarzon and only 19 percent in ARMM.
There were a total of 17,547 families of the 45,162 families targeted in Calabarzon and 7,998 families out of the 42,485 target families in ARMM that benefited from SLP.
The SLP is a social program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development [DSWD] for families and communities. It is currently being developed as the graduation program for beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program [4Ps], the paper explained.
As of December 2015, around 22 percent of the total number of families enroled in the 4Ps as of August 26, 2015, have been served by the program.
In a number of regions, more than 100 percent of the physical target had been covered in 11 regions nationwide and, apart from Calabarzon and ARMM, there were four other regions where below 100 percent of the target families were served under the SLP.
Regions that exceeded 100 percent were Regions 1 or Ilocos; Region 2 or Cagayan Valley; Region 3 or Central Luzon; Region 5 or Bicol; Region 6 or Western Visayas; Region 9 or Zamboanga Peninsula; Region 10 or Northern Mindanao; Region 11 or Davao; Region 12 or Soccsksargen; Caraga region; and the National Capital Region.
Apart from Calabarzon and ARMM, the regions that had lower than 100 percent of 4P families served under the SLP are the Cordillera Autonomous Region, Mimaropa, Central Visayas and Eastern Visayas.
There is also need for the DSWD and Development to reassess its role in employment facilitation and to effectively link the 4Ps to other labor employment programs of government, the PIDS paper stated.
The SLP, which was initiated in January 2011, offers two tracks to its target beneficiaries: (1) the Microenterprise Development (MD) track and the (2) Employment Facilitation (EF) track.
The MD Track uses the microcredit scheme of the old Self-Employment Assistant-Kaunlaran (SEA-K) Program, wherein participants are provided assistance in the establishment and expansion of their microenterprise.
The EF Track which had not been available in the old SEA-K Program, meanwhile, facilitates the employment of participants through job matching and skills trainings.
Data showed that out of the 963,978 4Ps families served in the SLP, 86 percent or 830,638 4Ps families have been served through the MD Track while only 14 percent or 133,340 4Ps families have been served through the EF Track.
The paper also stated that regions VI and VIII have the highest number of 4Ps families served in the EF Track at 26,308 and 23,456 families, respectively.
Participation in either or both of the two SLP tracks would link the 4Ps families to income-generating opportunities to enable them to sustain their economic development and thus transition from survival to self-sufficiency, the paper stated.
The paper titled Assessment of the Sustainable Livelihood Program"Employment Facilitation Process was led by Pids Research Fellow Marife Ballesteros.
The team also included researchers Tatum Ramos, Jasmine Magtibay, Aniceto Orbeta, Gerald Daval-Santos, Ann Jillian Adona, and Kathrina Gonzales.//

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: April 19, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

With some 12 million Filipinos vulnerable to disasters and extreme weather conditions, independent presidential contender Sen. Grace Poe said the government should come up with a mechanism that will protect families against disaster-driven poverty.
Poe, who is running under the banner of "Gobyernong may Puso," is pushing for the coverage of those affected by calamities in the unconditional cash transfer program being proposed by her running mate, Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero, chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.
"Sa mga lugar kung saan nasasalanta ng bagyo at trahedya, magkaroon man lang ng period kung saan bibigyan 'yung mga pamilya ng mahihirap ng panandaliang CCT (Conditional Cash Transfer) habang sila'y bumabangon sa trahedya," Poe said.
According to a report by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), poor households who are affected by floods or typhoons in the past 12 months lose around seven percent of their per capita income.
In 2012, there were 4.2 million poor families with a monthly income of less than P7,890 per month. With 20-30 cyclones hitting the Philippines every year, these families would be poorer by P552 per month and are not likely to recover.
Poe said this cycle of poverty must not be allowed to continue.
"Importante sa bansa natin kung saan maraming naghihirap ay ang kamay ng gobyerno na hihila sa kanila para tumulong. Ipagpapatuloy natin ang pantawid pampamilya at gaya nga ng sinabi ni Senator Chiz, hindi yan kondisyon kundi unconditional cash transfer para sa mga biktima ng kalamidad," the senator said.
Aside from the immediate assistance to be given by her "Gobyernong may Puso" to families affected by calamities, Poe is also proposing the inclusion of those in the near poor threshold (NPT) in the CCT program.
Families in the NPT have a monthly income of P12,400 and have a few assets but can easily become poor as they have little or no buffer against economic shocks such as a health crisis, death of a breadwinner or disasters.
"Hindi lamang 4Ps, gawin nating 5Ps para kasama ang pangkabuhayan. Puwede kayong bigyan ng pondo para sa livelihood sapagkat kawawa naman ang iba nating mga kababayan na humihiram ng pera sa 5-6 na halos dalawampung porsyento ang ibinabayad," Poe said.
"Dapat nandiyan ang gobyerno para tumulong," she said.
The government allocated P62.7 billion for the CCT program in 2016, which covers 4.35 million poor households.//

Author:
Date: April 21, 2016
Source: Senate Press Releases

UNDERDEVELOPMENT, mismanagement and environmental degradation have kept the irrigation sector from delivering expected results, according to a paper produced by a government think tank.

In a discussion paper, Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) researchers headed by De La Salle University Professor Arlene B. Inocencio identified key institutional and technical constraints to improving performance of both national and communal irrigation systems.

The think tank released the study titled: Technical and Institutional Evaluation of Selected National and Communal Irrigation Systems and Characterization of Irrigation Sector Governance Structure for public discussion this month.

The study evaluated 66 communal irrigation systems and 22 national irrigation systems in 16 provinces in Luzon. It forms part of PIDS research project to evaluate the effectiveness and impacts of key government programs and projects.

In their evaluation, the researchers found the expansion of national irrigation systems service areas slowed in the last decade and have been concentrated in four regions only.

Cropping intensity only slightly increased over the years. In fact, wet season irrigation intensity appears to have largely slowed down, the discussion paper read.

The study also noted that collection efficiency only noticeably improved in two regions in Luzon and turned out worst in the Western Visayas Region.

The Mindanao regions appear to have been performing better in terms of this indicator, consistent with the corresponding improvement in cropping intensity, the researchers noted.

Also, the study pointed out issues such as inadequate water during the dry season, flooding during the wet season, high incidences of canal problems and siltation/solid waste problems.

Irrigation canal problems were ranked first in the list of problems, and followed by institutional problems and then by calamities/pest infestation causing production problems, it read.

Meanwhile, the service area of communal irrigation systems has also grown albeit relatively very slow.

However, the trends in actual irrigated areas during the wet and dry seasons irrigation intensities never reached the 80% mark and even declined by about 20% in 2012, according to the study.

The researchers further cited as serious concern the decline in amortization collection efficiency in communal irrigation systems.

With the rise in equity schemes, the amortization collection decreased and became a less significant source of income. Despite this trend, amortization collection efficiency drastically declined, making this a serious concern..

The paper enumerated specific interventions and policy changes to improve the provision of irrigation in the country. These include the development of a systematic approach to water allocation and distribution, an integrated development plan, and a review of existing policies and regulations that are hampering the growth of the irrigation sector.

Good governance of irrigation systems must start with a design that ensures compatibility with operational realities and an acceptable level of financial viability to ensure sustainable performance, Ms. Inocencio was quoted in a press statement issued April 14.

To improve operational performance of irrigation systems, Ms. Inocencio recommended that government shift to a new paradigm of interactive and integrated design.

The study recommended that the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and other agencies involved in operations and maintenance of irrigation systems to develop an irrigation and water research and development program.

For instance, the researchers suggested the establishment and provision of funds for water resource centers in universities, composed of technical and socioeconomic experts whom the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

This will strengthen the capacities of NIA, NEDA, and the Department of Agriculture in monitoring and evaluating irrigation projects through the conduct of rigorous and objective analwyses to guide their decisions, Ms. Inocencio noted. --


Author: Keith Richard D. Mariano
Date: April 21, 2016
Source: Business World

INCLUSIVE growth is the new mantra during election season. Candidates are not only going to make this kind of growth a centerpiece, they are the only ones who have the answer to achieve it.
But the truth is government, politicians, businesses and we, the people, are all hypocrites on this subject.
The first problem is the definition of inclusive growth. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines it as, Economic growth that creates opportunity for all segments of the population and distributes the dividends of increased prosperity, both in monetary and nonmonetary terms, fairly across society. The OECD goes on to say that the proceeds of economic growth must be shared.
Creating opportunity means to provide the ability to get proper housing, clean water, access to education and the other basic necessities of life. A society must work toward that goal. But the reality of implementation is something different.
The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) reports that the Department of Social Welfare and Developments (DSWD) Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program has been successful in improving school attendance among poor households. That is a good development.
However, the same report goes on to say: In terms of tertiary education, quality remains an issue. the PIDS cites the low passing rates in professional board examinations of graduates from state universities and colleges (SUCs), and says that the SUCs are offering programs that are not their competitive advantage, which explains the poor quality of instruction.
In the area of creating opportunity for all segments of the population, the government is hypocritical by appearing to advance this inclusive-growth goal, but actually failing to do the heavy lifting. Keeping a child in school is critical; providing an education that prepares the student for the working world is equally important.
Building additional classrooms without first making sure that quality education comes out of those classrooms is more political than practical. Further, what is meant by distributing the dividends and who is supposed to do it" government, private business, or is it a collective effort by society?
On a prime-time news program, a segment talked about a young actress who just gifted her boyfriend with a P300,000 toy for the big boy. In order to distribute her individual dividend of increased prosperity, shouldnt the government have a P300,000 special prosperity-dividend tax on that item, distributed fairly across society? The actresss prosperity should be shared, according to the OECD.
Apparently, the Executive branch believes the highest taxpayers should have special privileges when it comes to enjoying a ride on the presidential helicopter. The President was quoted as saying"translated from Filipino"I dont see what theyre criticizing. My question: I guess all of them know that my sister is among the biggest individual taxpayers.
While the examples above may be extreme, they illustrate the real thinking about inclusive growth. Our mind-set simply reinforces the idea that the rich get richer, and maybe that is the way it is supposed to be. It is hypocrisy.//


Author:
Date: April 24, 2016
Source: Business World

MANILA, Philippines " The government should reassess the structure of the employment facilitation component of its Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to address the low take-up and meager contribution to the manpower needs of the country, state think tank Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) said in a discussion paper.
The government implements the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) under the 4Ps social safety net program to assist beneficiaries in finding and sustaining livelihood. The SLP has two components, the microenterprise development (MD) track and the employment facilitation (EF) track.
The MD track utilizes a microcredit financing scheme whereas the EF track facilitates the employment of participants through job matches and skills trainings. The two tracks aim to sustain the economic development of participating families and enable them to transition from a lifestyle of survival to self-sufficiency.
The PIDS paper said as of December 2015, the number of families participating in the SLP was placed at 963, 978, representing around 22 percent of the total number of families enrolled in the 4Ps as of August 2015. Out of the families placed under the SLP, 86 percent have chosen to participate in the MD track while only 14 percent opted to pursue the EF track.
PIDS said the EF track of the SLP track should be developed more because it is a more sustainable means of securing livelihood.
Efforts to develop the employment facilitation track for the poor are being heightened because of the lower risk that is associated with employment as compared with microenterprise. It must be noted, however, that in order to improve the EF track, it is necessary to have a closer look at the program design and implementation, PIDS said.
4Ps beneficiaries have the liberty to choose the SLP track they want to participate in. Research involving data analysis and key informant interviews show, however, that several factors hinder beneficiaries from choosing employment.
SLP orientations are provided by field program development officers (PDOs) to targeted beneficiaries. Other than providing information, these orientations also serve as a venue for the participants to assess their skills and select the SLP track best suited to them. Thus, these orientations are crucial to the success of the program.
In sites studied, however, such orientations are only conducted during the family development sessions (FDS) on employment the schedule of which are controlled by the host cities and municipalities. This causes delay in the progress of the program.
The perceived delays in the service delivery, meanwhile, could tempt the PDOs to encourage the selection of the MD track over the EF track, PIDS said.
In all of the sites visited, it was also observed that the choice of SLP track is dependent on those who participated on the orientation. PIDS noted it is usually not the young participants who attend the orientations but their parents. This may cause mismatching in the SLP program appropriate for beneficiaries.
PDOs also influence the selection of SLP tracks. Based on their own assessment of the company requirements and qualifications of beneficiaries, they may no longer introduce the EF option.
Beneficiaries who choose the EF track would be given pre-employment counseling, skills training, referral, pre-employment assistance fund and cash for building livelihood assets.
Most of those who choose the MD track are mothers who cannot leave their families at home, those who have lost eagerness to look for work, and parents who could no longer find work because of their age. Those who choose the EF track, on the other hand, are mostly the children of 4Ps beneficiaries and fathers who can still do hard labor.
PIDS said the EF track also suffers from weak employment partnerships. PDOs are also given a huge volume of caseloads. This year, a PDO handles an average of 229 caseloads; this should be reduced said PIDS.
Given the greater effort to find jobs than to establish microenterprise projects and the average number of participants handled by SLP PDOs, they tend to direct participants to choose the MD track. The MD track is also the default program for participants provided with skills training that are not linked to specific jobs, PIDS said.
The policy research institute thus suggests that the EF track be improved through strengthened employment partnerships within national government programs and private manpower services. PIDS recommends that DSWD work closely with the Department of Labor and Employment to take advantage of its employment programs.
PIDS also recommends that more attention be given to employment- directed trainings be given more attention as this results to gainful employment that can be kept for the long term.//


Author: Czeriza Valencia
Date: April 24, 2016
Source: Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines " State think tank Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) is calling for the development of an irrigation and water research program to address the factors contributing to the underperformance of the irrigation sector.
In a discussion paper, the policy research institute said despite the high budget allocated by the government to develop and maintain irrigation systems, growth in the service areas of irrigation systems have been slowing down in the past decade.
The PIDS attributed the underperformance of the irrigation sector to weak program design and mismanagement.
Poor planning causes most irrigation systems in the country to suffer from technical problems such as siltation, inadequate source of water and faulty control structures, PIDS said.
Good governance of irrigation systems must start with a design that ensures compatibility with operational realities and an acceptable level of financial viability to ensure sustainable performance, the study added.
To improve the operational performance of irrigation systems, the PIDS said the government should shift to designs that take into consideration the durability and functionality of irrigation systems consistent with the availability of water supply and irrigation demand.
To guide the government in improving the design of irrigation systems, PIDS has recommended the creation of an irrigation and water research program by the National Irrigation Administration and related agencies.
The government should establish and provide core funding for water resource centers in universities composed of technical and socioeconomic experts whom the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) can tap in evaluating irrigation-related projects. This will strengthen the capacities of NIA, NEDA and the Department of Agriculture in monitoring and evaluating irrigation projects through the conduct of rigorous and objective analyses to guide their decisions, the PIDS said.
The research institutions also underscored the need to clearly delineate the roles of NIA and irrigators associations in the management of irrigation systems.
NIA gives IAs partial or full management control of irrigation systems. The agency is allowed to collect irrigation service fees for the operations and maintenance of these systems.
Government subsidies for operations and maintenance of irrigation systems are initially provided but are gradually reduced over a five-year period.
However, majority of IAs do not have the financial capacity to function and be effective. Most IAs are faced with problems of pervasive water theft, members not following the cropping calendar, and most of them still asking for resources for operations and maintenance such as payment for electricity bill, the study said.
The impact study evaluated 66 communal irrigation systems and 22 national irrigation systems in 16 provinces in Luzon.
Based on the IAs surveyed by the research team, successful associations maintain irrigation systems that have adequate water supply, less institutional problems, as well as adequate budget and facilities.
If we take these factors as indicative of necessary requirements for successful IAs, then at the minimum, NIAs system design and service areas should have better estimates of available water, the PIDS said.

Author: Czeriza Valencia
Date: April 24, 2016
Source: Philippine Star

The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) called for a comprehensive action on disaster mitigation and building disaster-resilient communities.

PIDS president Gilberto Llanto, during the policy research forum on Human capital: Health, education, and building resilience, held at the University of the Philippines-Baguio recently, said risks do not occur in isolation but in a wide network thats why action must also be unified.

He said apart from being interconnected, risks are, by nature, also constantly evolving. Therefore, managing and responding to them requires multiple resilient systems.

The Philippines is particularly challenged to build economic resilience because of its high risk exposure and vulnerability, explained somewhat by its geographical location, said Llanto. It is difficult to manage risks. But it is possible.

A huge stumbling block in the process of risk management is the dearth of policy-oriented research and the absence of a resilience system. Although the Philippines has the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council in place, the country has yet to paint a comprehensive picture of the countrys risk landscape, making it difficult to build the appropriate response framework.

You need good policy interventions, and good policies rely on good research, Llanto said.

He warned, Exposure to bad policies will exacerbate ones vulnerability.

Thus, dealing with risks is not solely the job of policymakers or the NDRRMC. Communities have to work together to figure out how to handle and manage the risks and shocks faced by their community at the ground level, Llanto said.

He added, the country has to work together at every level to make resilience thinking a habit. A multiple resilience system must be built and founded on sound research and analysis, capable of identifying the wide array of vulnerabilities and adapting to the evolving nature of risks, Llanto, stressed.//

Author:
Date: April 24, 2016
Source: Baguio Midland Courier

The Center for International Law Philippines (Centerlaw), a human rights legal group, delivered on Monday, April 25, a demand letter to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) over its possible failure to reasonably protect the sensitive private data of registered voters that resulted in the hacking and leaking incident dubbed #Comeleak.
In his individual capacity as a private citizen, Jose Ramon Albert, senior research fellow of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, formally demanded that the Comelec notify the National Privacy Commission the nature of the breach, the sensitive personal information involved, and the measures taken by poll agency to address the breach and who are the officials designated by the Comelec as accountable for its compliance with RA 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012.
Albert, who is the former secretary general of the National Statistical Coordination Board and member of the Privacy Advisory Group of the United Nations Global Pulse, was assisted by lawyer Romel Bagares of Centerlaw.
The demand letter reminded members of the Comelec that, Under Section 30 of the Data Privacy Act, it is a crime to conceal security breaches involving sensitive personal information, with a penalty of imprisonment of one year and six months to five years and a fine of not less than P500,000.00 but not more than P1,000,000.00.
The Comelec has been given 24 hours to respond, after which a formal complaint will be filed against the poll body by Albert via Centerlaw before the National Privacy Commission.
Since around March 28, database dumps of the sensitive personal data of around 55 million registered Philippine voters was made freely available for download on the Internet by hacking group LulzSec Pilipinas.
On April 21, individuals who had obtained the leaked data launched a website hosted on Russian servers. In it, any individual could search for a Filipinos name and retrieve in whole or part the first name, last name, mothers maiden name, date of birth, street address, fingerprint biometric topological data and for OFWs, passport numbers and e-mail addresses. These information are usually needed to perform identity theft or compromise the physical safety of ordinary citizens.
Since the beginning of the leak, the Comelec has consistently denied verification of the authenticity of the leaked files, but individual Filipino netizens have since confirmed that much of the data revealed via the Russian website was indeed legitimate.
As security researcher Troy Hunt, who had examined the data firsthand, related: Part of the problem is that Comelec are still not acknowledging the problem All they need to do is to compare the data in the breach with that in the source system. Thats a three hour job, not a three week one.//
The full letter of demand may be viewed via this link: Centerlaw #Comeleak Demand Letter.
NEWSBYTES.PH

Author: Carlos Nazareno
Date: April 26, 2016
Source: Interksyon TV5

OVERSEAS Filipino workers (OFWs) will be less affected by the migrant crisis in Europe, because they are employed in highly in-demand jobs, according to a Europe-based economist.
The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (Pids) recently invited Prof. Lino Briguglio of the University of Malta to talk about the European Unions (EU) migrant crisis.

The crisis in Europe is not expected to create a large and adverse effect on the Philippines, particularly for millions of OFWs in the region.
The Filipino people have a very good reputation in Europe, Briguglio said. They often occupy jobs that are in demand.
The migrant crisis will impact your overseas work force as far as the tightening of visa rules and requirements is concerned. If the EU collapses, the issue of stricter border rules will be a problem that the whole Europe and other foreigners will face and not just your Filipino expats, he added.
Based on the results of 2014 Survey on Overseas Filipinos (SOF) released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) last year, there were 7.1 percent of all OFWs worldwide in Europe.
Of the total male OFWs working worldwide, 10.1 percent are in Europe; and of the total female OFWs, only 4.2 percent are working in Europe.
PIDS President Gilberto Llanto said the European migrant crisis has been pegged as one of the big global shocks of this year.
Because shocks do not occur in silos, Llanto said they directly affect other potential and ongoing risks, given the interconnected nature of threats to global, regional and national stability.
This puts the onus on policymakers to evaluate in-depth how something as critical as the European migrant crisis could possibly affect a far-off country like the Philippines, Llanto added.
Briguglio pointed out three dimensions of the migrant crisis. According to Briguglio, the EU migration crisis has three dimensions, and these are associated with border control, grant of asylum and humanitarian considerations.
However, he said it is difficult to differentiate legitimate asylum- seekers from migrants seeking economic opportunity.
The PIDS also raised during the forum that Europe can learn something from the Philippines when it comes to migrant and refugee policies.
The Philippines is one of only a handful of signatories to the 1952 Refugee Convention with a clear procedure on managing refugees.
A Refugee and Stateless People Protection Unit under the Department of Justice regularly deals with refugees from countries like Syria and Pakistan, more often than the public is aware of.
In 2012, the United Nations lauded the Philippines for establishing an emergency transit mechanism to help process refugee application papers and assist irregular migrants.//

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: April 26, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

MANILA, Philippines " Two decades of zero agency funding that ended only three years ago highlight the governments lagging information technology (IT) system, where more than half of the bureaucracy remains not connected and at risk to cyber attacks.

A major breach of more than 70 million data from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) last week show the need to invest on cyber security as the economy expands fast, thereby attracting increasing amount of data and information.

Large databases will be developed by businesses and governments that will need to make investments in network security to prevent fraudulent transactions and various cybercrimes, said Jose Ramon Albert, senior researcher at Philippine Institute for Development Studies.

From 1991 to 2012, national government agencies did not spend a single centavo from their budgets for Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure, data from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) showed.

Funding mostly came from the e-Government Fund, a separate fund pool for the entire bureaucracy for ICT projects created in 2003. For 2016, the fund was allocated P1 billion.

The Department of Science and Technology, supposed to be the governments main research agency, did not also have a separate budget for ICT until 2014, data showed.

It was only last year the ICT office under it was allocated P2.54 billion for infrastructure. For 2016, that amount slightly grew to P2.9 billion.

Most funding is not captured by the budget since they are project based. So they are not included under it, said Roy Espiritu, communications head of ICT office, in a phone interview.

So far, our funding covers all our needs, he added.

60 percent still not connected
The ICT office leads the e-government master plan 2013-2016 that calls, among others, for the full implementation of the government web hosting service supposed to be by 2014.

The idea is to put under one server all websites and e-mail addresses of government agencies. As of this year, around 60 percent of those entities continue to rent third-party servers, including that of Comelec.

The problem is AO 39 did not prescribe any sanction for those which will not meet the deadline so a lot of them are still using their own servers, Espiritu said, citing AO 39 issued by President Aquino.

Hopefully, what happened to Comelec will push other agencies to connect with our system, he added.

This is worrisome if analysts are to be believed. According to TrendMicro, a global developer of security software, the Philippines recorded 6,207 cases of online and mobile malwares in 2014, more than four times the number in the previous year. In Southeast Asia, the country suffered the fourth highest number of attacks in the third quarter of 2015 alone.

Espiritu declined to name the agencies still disconnected from the system, although he vouched for the latters efficiency and security. We are able to monitor it round the clock, he said.

Enrique Festijo, lecturer from the Technological Institute of the Philippines, however was not impressed.

The way the system works now is its reactive, more on root cause analysis. It must be proactive. The system must continually improve even without a threat, said Festijo, whose dissertation tackled computer network security and applications.

By estimates, he said being connected to a unified server only protects data 60 percent of the time, indicating a still higher chance of getting infiltrated.

So risks increase when you are not even connected to the system. The STAR found out that at least under the Department of Transportation and Communications, e-mail addresses of higher-ups could be so generic, they are using Yahoo! or Google Mail.

For instance, Manila International Airport Authority general manager Jose Angel Honrados listed e-mail was josea7paf2003@yahoo.com. An unnamed deputy director general from Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, meanwhile, uses o444dg.caap@gmail.com.

There is not enough network infrastructure because the market is monopolized. Network infrastructure is dependent on private companies, Festijo said.

Hard to determine
But the government could also not be also blamed. Analysts said it was only recently that the budget deficit was put in check with more revenues becoming available to fund other needs.

ICT is not something you easily put up on the priority list before other solid infrastructure, an economist said.

For some, ICT is being funded by grants. The Bureau of Internal Revenue, for instance, just finished its $54.3-million Revenue Administration Reform Project (RARP) under the countrys five-year US compact.

RARP improved the governments tax collection system using US taxpayers money, Internal Revenue commissioner Kim Henares said in her speech during the closing event last Friday.

But the amount did not include cyber security, which according to her, is budgeted every year. For Albert, this represents the challenge of estimating the governments entire ICT needs.

I think the DBM only shows the hard equipment they purchase, but ICT staff (or manpower) is not included, Albert said. Its really difficult to measure how much do you need, he added.//

Author: Prinz Magtulis
Date: April 25, 2016
Source: Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Prosecutors have recommended P600,000 bail for the temporary release of the 23-year-old information technology graduate arrested for allegedly hacking the website of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Paul Biteng underwent inquest proceedings yesterday after his arrest last week by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in his house in Sampaloc, Manila.
The P600,000 bail recommended for Biteng is for three separate offenses broken down into P200,000 each: illegal access, data interference and illegal use of devices.
The offenses are punishable with six to 12 years imprisonment under the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
Joven Senados, city inquest prosecutor, told The STAR they still have to create information on our charge sheets before filing charges with the court.
The Manila city prosecutor found probable cause to charge Biteng for defacement of the Comelec website on March 27. The hacking affected certain functions like the precinct finder and post finder for registered voters.
The logs from Bitengs personal computer, as well as from his smartphone, could help the NBI strengthen the case against the suspect, authorities said.

Harold Alcantara, Bitengs counsel, stressed his client had nothing to do with the defacement of the Comelec website or the leak of the supposed database of registered voters.
He only works as a security analyst, whose job is to check the vulnerability of certain websites to hacking, Alcantara said.
Shortly after the NBI and Comelec announced the arrest of Biteng last Wednesday, a website wehaveyourdata.com emerged, containing a search engine for 70 million Filipino voters.
The database, taken down a day after it came out, included voters names, birthdays, addresses and even passport numbers and fingerprint codes.
The NBI is still trying to identify the two others who might have colluded with Biteng in defacing the website.
Alcantara said Biteng is ready to post bail today once he receives a copy of the case being readied against him.
But as prosecutors are building up a case against Biteng, charges are also being readied against the Comelec over the alleged breach in its system that resulted in a massive leak of voter information.
Romel Bagares of the Center for International Law (CenterLaw) said they would file a complaint against the poll body for violating provisions of the Data Privacy Act.
CenterLaw, representing a research fellow of the Philippine Institute of Development Studies, also asked the Comelec to immediately report to the Data Privacy Commission (DPC) the real extent of the breach in its system.
Jose Ramon Albert, a former secretary general of the National Statistical Coordination Board and a member of the advisory council of the United Nations Global Pulse, said Comelec has the obligation to report the breach in compliance with the Data Privacy Act.
In a demand letter addressed to Comelec chairman Andres Bautista, Albert " through the CenterLaw " demanded that the poll body report the breach within 24 hours.
The Data Privacy Act mandates government agencies to notify the DPC and the affected subjects of the nature of the breach, including possibly compromised sensitive personal information as well as measures being taken to address the incident.
Evasive
Albert said Bautista and Comelec spokesman James Jimenez have been less than forthright in reporting about the breach and have even downplayed it by claiming the information leaked by hackers was publicly available anyway.
It spared no one, said Bagares and fellow lawyer Gilbert Andres also of CenterLaw, referring to personal information compromised. It bears stressing that the personal information involved in the breach was not voluntarily provided by voters. In the first place, the Comelec obtained possession of the sensitive personal information by requiring voters to submit them.
In the demand letter, CenterLaw noted that the apology issued by Jimenez for the creation of the dubious website has raised more questions than answers.
The Comelecs long silence on what has been dubbed as the worst incident of data theft in digital history is simply incomprehensible, the demand letter read.
The letter stresses the things Comelec should have already done as a result of this breach, said Bagares in a separate text message to The STAR.
With or without (compliance with the demand letter), we will file (a case) The issue of liability is separate, he added.
Comelec, for its part, said it would make sure no more hacker would attack its website as it seeks help from information technology experts to counter further threats to its system.
Bautista gave the assurance in Pangasinan as he cited the arrest of Biteng and the ongoing search for two other suspected hackers by the NBI.
He said computer and electronic paraphernalia seized from Biteng would undergo forensic investigation by the NBI.
The poll chief said they have launched an internal investigation to determine how the hacking became possible and what steps should be taken to prevent a repeat of the incident. " With Janvic Mateo, Jess Diaz, Eva Visperas

Author: Ghio Ong
Date: April 26, 2016
Source: Philippine Star

THE PHILIPPINES is prepared to face the challenges and opportunities the economic integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) brings, particularly to smaller businesses, according to the Trade department.
The Philippines is a ready market, Maria Roseni M. Alvero, assistant secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said in a forum on the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) yesterday in Mandaluyong City.

Discussions focused on Accessing Market and Investment Opportunities to Support Inclusive Growth in AEC.

The forum was held by the Trade department, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) in partnership with the Financial Executives of the Philippines and Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

In her presentation, Ms. Alvero said: The Philippines indeed is open for business. Our natural pool of talent and culturally adaptable human resources positions the country as an advantageous value-for-money destination in Asia.

The official, in charge of DTIs Foreign Trade Services Corps, also cited the countrys ongoing infrastructure development, investment incentives and strategic location.

The countrys location is a critical entry point to the ASEAN market and a natural gateway to the East Asian economies. The country is likewise placed at the crossroads of international shipping and airlines.

SMES KEY TO ECONOMIC INCLUSIVENESS

Building physical connectivity, raising labor productivity and providing access to finance are critical to the development of small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) in the region, Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice-President Bambang Susantono said in a keynote address.

Today, with concerns over rising income inequality, the primary challenge is to unleash the potential of [SMEs], which remain one of ASEANs largest untapped resources, noted the official, who is in charge of knowledge management and sustainable development at ADB.

SMEs comprise the largest number of firms in the region. They generate the most jobs. And they spread across the entire gamut of agricultural processing, industrial production and services.

In 2012, micro, small and medium enterprises comprised 99.6% of business establishments in the Philippines and accounted for 64.97% of total employment, said Erlinda M. Medalla, senior research fellow of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies.


BIG OPPORTUNITY

Enabling SMEs to join the global supply chain presents a big opportunity for the Philippines and other ASEAN economies, Ganeshan Wignaraja, advisor for the ADB Office of the Chief Economist, said in a separate presentation.

Mr. Wignaraja, however, noted that firm size matters for joining global production networks, and that technological capabilities, skills, access to credit and foreign ownership also factors.

Accordingly, SMEs will have to adopt smart strategies including mergers and acquisitions, business alliances and formation of industrial clusters, Mr. Wignaraja said.

STORM CLOUDS ON THE HORIZON

Moreover, the Philippines and other ASEAN economies should work on providing SMEs greater access to finance, Mr. Wignaraja noted.

In the Philippines alone, 46,424 enterprises have unmet financing needs cumulatively amounting to $2 billion, Mr. Wignaraja said, citing 2011 data from the International Finance Corp. of the World Bank Group.

Trade is changing -- and its changing in a way [that] although Asia is doing really well in terms of trade and growth, [in] the short to medium term, there are storm clouds on the horizon, Mr. Wignaraja said.

And in such an atmosphere, weve got to think of the competition that may occur but also the opportunities.//

Author: Keith Richard D. Mariano
Date: April 25, 2016
Source: Business World

THE so-called migrant crisis gripping the European Union (EU) will have minimal impact on Overseas Filipino Workers based in the region, a Malta-based economist said.
In a statement issued yesterday, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) noted the region could tighten borders to arrest the influx of refugees to Europe from the Middle East.

[T]he breakdown of trust among European nations and the tightening of borders put free movement in the continent at risk, while hostilities against migrants intensify, the statement read.

But Lino Briguglio, a professor at the University of Malta, said Filipinos working in the region have little to worry about.

The Filipino people have a very good reputation in Europe, Mr. Briguglio was quoted as saying in a presentation for a seminar that PIDS hosted on April 11.

They often occupy jobs that are in demand. The migrant crisis will impact your overseas workforce as far as the tightening of visa rules and requirements is concerned.

Mr. Briguglio further noted that if the EU collapses, the issue of stricter border rules will be a problem that the whole Europe and other foreigners will face and not just your Filipino [expatriates].

The European migrant crisis is considered one of the years big global shocks that directly affect other potential and existing risks, PIDS President Gilberto M. Llanto said.

This puts the onus on policymakers to evaluate in-depth how something as critical as the European migrant crisis could possibly affect a far-off country like the Philippines.

Mr. Llanto noted that Mr. Briguglios presentation about the EU migrant crisis aligns with PIDS agenda of enriching the national discourse on building resilience against an array of risks.

Strategists in the EU need to strengthen the regions capacity to receive asylum seekers and expedite the processing procedure, Mr. Briguglio said.

For instance, Europe can create a common asylum system to harmonize the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees and share the responsibility.

Geography has dictated the disproportionate distribution of responsibility among European countries in dealing with the crisis, Mr. Briguglio said.

The Dublin Regulation places the responsibility of temporarily keeping and recognizing asylum seekers on the country where the migrants first arrive.

Because most migrants originate from the Maghreb, South Asia, and the Middle East, nations like Greece, Italy, Malta, and Eastern European countries like Hungary bear majority of that responsibility, Mr. Briguglio explained.

The professor also cited how employment could reduce cultural tensions and the cost of hosting irregular migrants.

Policymakers will have to sort out and reduce skill mismatches, address and minimize language barriers, and protect the migrants from further exploitation.

The Philippines is a signatory to the 1952 Refugee Convention, which provides a clear procedure on managing refugees. A Refugee and Stateless People Protection Unit under the Department of Justice regularly deals with refugees from countries like Syria and Pakistan, according to PIDS.//

Author: Keith Richard D. Mariano
Date: April 26, 2016
Source: Business World

On April 14, the long awaited cacao convergence was achieved.

This was when the respective cacao roadmaps of the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao Inc. (Cidami) were harmonized to produce only one roadmap for the country to follow.

That was one of the main suggestions of the Coalition of Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines (CAMP), led by its chair, Emil Javier, and president, Ben Pecson.

This was included in the list of recommendations given to the presidential bets by the Agri-Fisheries Alliance (AFA), which is scheduled to have interviews with each of the candidates on their respective agriculture agendas.

Just as relevant government agencies of the DA and DTI are converging for cacao, agriculture stakeholders also converged when the AFA was organized on Dec. 20, 2015. CAMP represents science and academe. It united with Alyansa Agrikultura (AA) representing farmers and fisherfolk, Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI) representing agribusiness, Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK) representing rural women and Agriculture Fisheries 2025 (AF2025) representing sub-sector agriculture leaders.

When AA reported that DTI had submitted 30 subsector roadmaps to government think tank Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) while DA had submitted none, CAMP argued that DTI and DA should agree on each roadmap. This is because processing and trade are part of a product value chain that should be guided by both the DTI and DA.

The CAMP recommendation was followed on April 14 in Davao. The National Cacao Industry Working Group is chaired by Agriculture Undersecretary Emerson Palad. DTI Director Edwin Banquero is head of the secretariat. The private sector is represented by CIDAMI executive director Valente Turtur, who serves as vice chair. This is a good example of the public-private partnership (PPP) necessary for agriculture development to succeed.
Banquero (0917-7054627) provided information that was agreed upon during the DA-DTI-Cidami harmonization meeting. Reports showed an annual income of only P20,000 per hectare for coconut without intercropping. An additional P60,000 to P80,000 is earned if cacao intercropping is done.

The latest numbers from the harmonization meeting are much more promising. With correct agricultural practices, coconut yields P60,000 to P80,000 per hectare and with the right technology, the additional income from cacao intercropping rises to P150,000.

The side effect of cacao intercropping increases coconut income by 30 percent. This is because the coconut trees will benefit from the fertilization of cacao. Also, the dry leaves that fall from the cacao plants will serve as mulching material for coconut trees, with the resulting organic fertilizer enriching the soil.

Where is science and academe in all of this?

Let us look at Central Luzon. There is an existing project of Kapampangan Development Foundation (KDF) and AA for the planting of one million coconut trees with intercropping for five years. This is done with full support from Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and the DA regional office. Last Nov. 10, a memorandum of agreement was signed among KDF, the First Coconut Manufacturing Inc. (FCMI) and the Florida Blanca National Agricultural School (FNAS). FCMI has 60 years of experience in coconut milling and refinery.
FNAS will add to the KDF-FCMI collaboration the benefit of being a center not only for best technology, but also for effective technology transfer. The school will showcase 10 hectares of coconut intercropped with cacao for all to learn from. Also, FNAS will have an additional five hectares for high value crops: one hectare each for BPI-accredited tree seedlings. These will serve as the scion groves for the AA-KDF accredited fruit tree nurseries.

The cacao convergence will be finalized on May 25 in Cebu. It will be followed by an Asia-Pacific Cacao Conference in September. This kind of convergence should be replicated in other agriculture sub-sectors. If we do this, we will achieve inclusive growth in the next six years.//

(The author is chair of Agriwatch, former Secretary for Presidential Flagship Programs and Projects, and former Undersecretary for Agriculture, Trade and Industry. For inquiries and suggestions, e-mail agriwatch_phil@yahoo.com or telefax 8522112.)

Author: Ernesto M. Ordoez
Date: April 26, 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

Ex-NSCB head Jose Ramon Albert and CenterLaw Philippines will file an administrative complaint against the poll body with the National Privacy Commission after the 24-hour deadline.

DEMAND LETTER. Lawyer Romel Bagares of CenterLaw Philippines and their client Jose Ramon Albert explain on Monday, April 25, their decision to write a demand letter to the Comelec following the massive data leak last March. Photo by Michael Bueza/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines " The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has been given 24 hours from Monday, April 25, to act immediately on the massive online leak of voters personal information, and to comply with privacy law in updating voters on what happened to their data.
The demand was made by Jose Ramon Albert, a senior research fellow of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and former head of the now-defunct National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB).
Albert, through law firm CenterLaw Philippines, wrote to Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista to demand that the Comelec take immediate steps in response to the massive data breach.
In our demand letter, we are giving the Comelec 24 hours from receipt " they have until tomorrow [Tuesday] at 11:15 in the morning " to reply to our demand and inform us of the steps they have already taken or are being taken by the Commission, explained lawyer Romel Bagares, executive director of Center Law Philippines.
Through the letter, the Comelec was formally asked to notify "as required by law the [National] Privacy Commission and all 55 million registered Filipino voters" of the hacking and data leak incidents, including the exact nature of the information released."
Albert also wanted to know the measures taken by the Comelec to address the breach, and sought for the names of officials designated by the Comelec as accountable for its compliance with the law.
These requirements, said CenterLaw, are mandated in Republic Act 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012.

Comelec given 24 hours to respond to CenterLaw, @toots_albert's demand letter. @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/uQevYEfwcE
" Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) April 25, 2016

"They have different modes of communication, not just those that are web-based. You have the traditional media, you have the radio, and it should be done on the national level," said Bagares.
We need to hear officially from the Comelec, because thats its duty under the Data Privacy Act. And they have basically failed to do that for the last 3 or 4 weeks, he added.
Albert made the demands as a private citizen as a service to the public and to protect his own informational privacy.
Anonymous Philippines defaced the Comelecs website on March 27. Shortly after, a separate group of hackers obtained the database from the website, containing records of over 55 million registered voters, and leaked it online. (READ: Experts fear identity theft, scams due to data leak)
The issue reached a whole new level on April 21, when a website posted the voter records and allowed these to be searchable by online users. The website has since been inaccessible.
While the Comelec has 24 hours to respond to the demand letter, Bagares clarified that the Comelecs reply would not stop Albert and other camps from availing themselves of legal remedies, including a class suit against the poll body.
The criminal or the administrative complaint, its different, because these will pertain to what we believe is the negligence of the Comelec, he said.
Also, Bagares noted that it would still file an administrative complaint before the National Privacy Commission after the 24-hour deadline.

'We're all at risk'
Albert said that in statistics and census taking, they ensure that personal private information or respondents are not shared to the public. But the Comelec leak exposed voters basic and sensitive personal information online. (READ: After Comelec data leak, what to do to protect yourself?)
I felt so vulnerable. I felt [we're] being violated, that every single information that the Comelec asked of me " which I thought they would be using for their own purposes " was just made public, Albert said.
"All of a sudden, someone can just put information together and target you. Everybody can be a target.... We're all at risk," emphasized Albert. "We have to start [acknowledging] that it's a really, really big problem."
Bagares then noted that the poll body has been obscuring the true nature of what happened and denying the seriousness of the hacking incident.
They are saying that the personal information taken by the hackers, in any case, were the same information that are already publicly available and on social media, which was "bollocks," argued Bagares.
"They have been misrepresenting the true magnitude of what happened. That is what makes us really angry about the whole thing."
He added, All government agencies concerned with data privacy should put their acts together and come up with a solution to this problem. " Rappler.com


Author: Michael Bueza
Date: April 25, 2016
Source: Rappler.com

QUEZON CITY, April 27 - The European migrant crisis will not have large, adverse effects on the Philippines, according to a Malta-based economist in a presentation at a recently-held seminar hosted by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

While the distance between Europe and the Philippines makes it difficult to imagine how the crisis can affect the country, the breakdown of trust among European nations and the tightening of borders put free movement in the continent at risk, while hostilities against migrants intensify.

But according to Prof. Lino Briguglio of the University of Malta, Filipinos who work in the European Union (EU) need not worry about the crisis.

"The Filipino people have a very good reputation in Europe," remarked Briguglio.

"They often occupy jobs that are in demand. The migrant crisis will impact your overseas workforce as far as the tightening of visa rules and requirements is concerned. If the EU collapses, the issue of stricter border rules will be a problem that the whole Europe and other foreigners will face and not just your Filipino expats," he explained further.

Meanwhile, PIDS President Gilberto Llanto said the European migrant crisis has been pegged as one of the big global shocks of this year. Because shocks do not occur in silos, they directly affect other potential and ongoing risks given the interconnected nature of threats to global, regional, and national stability.

"This puts the onus on policymakers to evaluate in-depth how something as critical as the European migrant crisis could possibly affect a far-off country like the Philippines," Llanto added.

Llanto also noted that Briguglio's presentation about the EU migrant crisis is in line with PIDS' agenda of enriching the national discourse on building resilience against an array of risks.

Briguglio pointed out three dimensions of the migrant crisis. According to Briguglio, the EU migration crisis has three dimensions and these are associated with border control, granting of asylum, and humanitarian considerations.

"Geography has dictated the disproportionate distribution of responsibility among European countries in dealing with the crisis. Europes legislative guide to dealing with migrants is embodied in the Dublin Regulation, which places responsibility of temporarily keeping and legitimizing asylum seekers on the first country migrants arrive in. Because most migrants originate from the Maghreb, South Asia, and the Middle East, nations like Greece, Italy, Malta, and Eastern European countries like Hungary bear majority of that responsibility," he explained.
In addition, Briguglio pointed out a conundrum in identifying legitimate asylum seekers from migrants seeking economic opportunity.

"Part of what makes the European migrant crisis unprecedented is the sheer volume of people. Leaving it up to the border countries is unsustainable. Currently, only a very small proportion of migrants have actually been resettled outside of the entry-point countries," he said.

Briguglio also criticized the EU's lack of an effective strategy in dealing with the crisis, calling it a "crisis of solidarity".

"The humanitarian aspect of the crisis is forgotten in the scramble to flee from the responsibility of responding to and helping manage the influx of people. Instead of highlighting the issue from a humanitarian angle, whereby the fact that the vast majority of migrants are normal people running away from war, the crisis has given rightist groups an opportunity to wage an anti-immigrant political agenda across European states. The issue has become extremely polarized on the issue of religion and cultural compatibility, with little room for finding both pragmatic and humane solutions," he explained.

Overall, the refugee crisis, according to Briguglio, is a multifaceted issue. He added that peace in the Middle East is the most ideal solution to stop the influx of migrants to the EU. However, he admitted that it is also the hardest and farthest from being accomplished in the near future.

According to Briguglio, the EU strategists need to focus on strengthening Europe's capacity to receive asylum seekers and expedite the processing procedure. He suggested that Europe has to create a common European asylum system to harmonize the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees, and more importantly, to share the burden of responsibility equally among EU countries. The researcher also recommended making targeted policies that would integrate migrants into the labor market.

"Employment would reduce cultural tensions and the cost of hosting irregular migrants. Policymakers will have to sort out and reduce skill mismatches, address and minimize language barriers, and protect the migrants from further exploitation," he stated.

Interestingly, during the seminar's open forum, an audience member revealed that Europe could learn a thing or two about managing migrants and refugees from the Philippines.

The Philippines is one of only a handful of signatories to the 1952 Refugee Convention with a clear procedure on managing refugees. A Refugee and Stateless People Protection Unit under the Department of Justice regularly deals with refugees from countries like Syria and Pakistan, more often than the public is aware of. In 2012, the United Nations lauded the Philippines for establishing an emergency transit mechanism to help process refugee application papers and assist irregular migrants. (PIDS)

Author:
Date: April 27, 2016
Source: PIA