PIDS in the News Archived (November 2016)

The Duterte administration will soon launch the biggest infrastructure push in Philippine history to propel economic growth in the next five-and-a-half years.
Big-ticket infrastructure projects, specifically roads and bridges, mass urban transport and alternative green city solutions are among the key investments to be made by the Philippine government. These will solve the problems brought about by traffic congestion, inadequate mass transport facilities, air pollution, and the lack of healthy, green liveable community spaces.
The development mantra is: build, build and build.
The Duterte administration sees increased infrastructure spending as key to move the country forward and improve the lives of the Filipino people by generating massive investments, creating millions of jobs and lowering prices of commodities.
The countrys lead infrastructure agencies are working in close coordination to build new facilities. The National Economic Development Agency (NEDA), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) are crafting the Duterte Infrastructure Plan. In three to five years, new and better roads, bridges, railways, rehabilitated airports and a new metropolis are envisioned to benefit the Filipino people.
According to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) 2017 National Expenditure Program, in the first year of the Duterte presidency, infrastructure spending will represent 5.4 percent of the countrys Gross Domestic Product. This will be the highest since the Marcos era spanning 21 years when infra spending was at 3.2 percent of GDP.
Among the game-changing solutions of the DOTr that guarantee better transport and passenger experience are the Metro Manila Clark Railway which will assure one-hour travel from Metro Manila to Clark International Airport; the Metro Manila Bus Rapid Train System which will yield on-time trips along EDSA; and the Mindanao Railway which will provide the much-needed connection of people and goods across Mindanao.
For its part, the DPWH will build new linkages to ensure better connectivity between key destinations. These include the Santa Monica-Lawton-BGC Viaduct which will directly link BGC going to Ortigas; the UP-Miriam-Ateneo Viaduct which will cut down travel by 80 percent in Katipunan Ave at CP Garcia; and the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road which will reduce travel time to 30 minutes going to Alabang from Balintawak.
BCDA also eyes big-ticket projects in Central Luzon and Metro Manila. The Clark International Airport New Terminal Building is envisioned to be a world-class airport which will reduce traffic at the NAIA. BCDA also will continue to build a new city proximate to Metro Manila, a 9,450-hectare smart, green and disaster-resilient city that will be a long-term solution to traffic congestion in main urban centers.
Another project is the BGC to NAIA Bus Rapid Transit that will facilitate a 15-minute travel time from Fort Bonifacio to NAIA, preventing delays for passengers rushing to catch their flights whether for leisure or business.
The Philippines has been lagging behind its Asian neighbors in attracting foreign direct investments due to poor infrastructure, which has been traced to government underspending on such projects.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported: At 21.8 percent of GDP [gross domestic product] in 2014, the investment rate in the Philippines is well below regional peers, as reflected in its low capital stock and infrastructure quality.
Given the Duterte administrations development platform, a complete turnaround is expected in the next six years with bold solutions and swift action in responding to the pressing needs of the public through massive infra spending.
At present, feasibility studies are being done for the infra projects of the DPWH, DOTr and BCDA. These projects will be subject to public tender following stringent Philippine government procurement rules. In two years, these are envisioned to break ground, with a launch eyed in three to five years.//

Author:
Date: November 03, 2016
Source: Asian Journal Online

The national government plans to undertake a public rental housing program that will allow Filipinos to live near their workplace, according to the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).

Vice President and HUDCC Chairman Maria Leonor G. Robredo said the public rental housing program is one of the innovative ways the council is thinking of to make housing more affordable for Filipinos.

We are looking into a public rental housing program to cater to the needs of individuals whose needs are temporary or are, otherwise, not looking to own a home where they are working, Robredo said.

Based on the 2015 Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES), second to food, Filipinos spent the most on housing rental or rental value. On average, Filipinos spent 12.2 percent of their total expenses on shelter.

The so-called bottom 30 percent of the population, or the poorest Filipinos, spent less on shelter at 7.7 percent, while the upper 70 percent spent more at 13 percent.

Robredo further cited data from government think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (Pids) which indicated that 33 percent of urban population are renters, while 17 percent are sharers.

She added that a 2004 Pids study found that rental housing is found mostly in informal settlements.

Robredo said a public rental program will also allow families who cannot afford to buy their own homes save up toward the goal of being a homeowner in the future.

The HUDCC said it has convened a technical working group that will conduct consultations with different stakeholders to develop a public rental housing program and other non-ownership based modes for providing more affordable housing options.

We are also developing innovative approaches to housing finance, including housing microfinance and the use of right-based land tenure instruments as collateral substitutes, Robredo added.

She said these housing solutions also involve local government units (LGUs), in keeping with the HUDCCs new strategic direction of putting greater emphasis on empowering local governments.

Robredo added that LGUs can be efficient urban managers with the capacity to develop plans and deliver services to their growing urban population.

These solutions, Robredo said, can make housing more affordable in the long run. HUDCC earlier said the poorest Filipinos cannot afford even socialized housing facilities.

Based on the 2015 FIES, the annual income of the poorest 30 percent range, from P86,020 to P132,983.

However, HUDCC noted that socialized housing in the Philippines, which includes building a house and buying land, costs as much as P450,000, or higher than the yearly income of the poorest Filipinos.

The challenge that we face now is setting in place a stronger land use policy that is efficiently administered through an integrated land and ISF [informal-settlers family]information system, Robredo said.

This will be complemented by providing innovative housing solutions through the key shelter agencies and public-private partnerships to address opportunity gaps facing the homeless and low-income families, she added.

Earlier, Robredo said she is looking at the housing program in Valenzuela, where homeless residents pay the local government a monthly rent of P300.

Through the housing program, the city of Valenzuela is also able to impose government regulations, such as keeping children in school and giving them regular checkups.

The only downside, Robredo said, is the amount needed by LGUs to finance such an undertaking. The city of Valenzuela is lucky to have the resources, but not all LGUs have that kind of financial muscle.//

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: November 03, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

MANILA, Philippines -- President Rodrigo Duterte's administration will soon launch the biggest infrastructure push in Philippine history to propel economic growth in the next five-and-a-half years.
Big-ticket infrastructure projects, specifically roads and bridges, mass urban transport and alternative green city solutions are among the key investments to be made by the Philippine government. These are aimed at solving the problems brought about by traffic congestion, inadequate mass transport facilities, air pollution, and the lack of healthy, green liveable community spaces.
The development mantra is: build, build and build.
The Duterte administration sees increased infrastructure spending as key to move the country forward and improve the lives of the Filipino people by generating massive investments, creating millions of jobs and reducing the prices of commodities.
The country's lead infrastructure agencies are working in close coordination to build new facilities. The National Economic and Development Agency (NEDA), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) are crafting the Duterte Infrastructure Plan. In three to five years, new and better roads, bridges, railways, rehabilitated airports and a new metropolis are envisioned to benefit the Filipino people.
According to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) 2017 National Expenditure Program, in the first year of the Duterte presidency, infrastructure spending will represent 5.4 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product. This will be the highest since the Marcos era spanning 21 years when infrastructure spending was at 3.2 percent of GDP.
Among the "game-changing solutions" of the DOTr that guarantee better transport and passenger experience are:
the Metro Manila Clark Railway which will assure one-hour travel from Metro Manila to Clark International Airport;
the Metro Manila Bus Rapid Train System which will yield on-time trips along EDSA; and
the Mindanao Railway which will provide the much-needed connection of people and goods across Mindanao.
For its part, the DPWH will build new linkages to ensure better connectivity between key destinations. These include:
the Santa Monica-Lawton-BGC Viaduct which will directly link the Bonifacio Global City going to Ortigas;
the UP-Miriam-Ateneo Viaduct which will cut down travel time by 80 percent in Katipunan Ave. and CP Garcia; and
the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road which will reduce travel time to 30 minutes going to Alabang from Balintawak.
BCDA also eyes big-ticket projects in Central Luzon and Metro Manila. The Clark International Airport New Terminal Building is envisioned to be a world-class airport which will reduce traffic at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
BCDA will also continue to build a new city proximate to Metro Manila, a 9,450-hectare smart, green and disaster-resilient city that will be a long-term solution to traffic congestion in main urban centers.
Another project is the BGC to NAIA Bus Rapid Transit that will facilitate a 15-minute travel time from Fort Bonifacio to NAIA, preventing delays for passengers rushing to catch their flights whether for leisure or business.
The Philippines has been lagging behind its Asian neighbors in attracting foreign direct investments due to poor infrastructure, which has been traced to previous government underspending on such projects.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported, "At 21.8 percent of GDP [gross domestic product] in 2014, the investment rate in the Philippines is well below regional peers, as reflected in its low capital stock and infrastructure quality.
Given the Duterte administration's development platform, a complete turnaround is expected in the next six years with bold solutions and swift action in responding to the pressing needs of the public through massive infrastructure spending.
At present, feasibility studies are being done for the infrastructure projects of the DPWH, DOTr and BCDA. These projects will be subject to public tender following stringent Philippine government procurement rules. In two years, these are envisioned to break ground, with a launch eyed in three to five years.//

Author:
Date: November 03, 2016
Source: PIA

Duterte claims there are 3 to 4 million drug addicts in the Philippines but data from the Dangerous Drugs Board show there are only 1.8 million current drug users. How will this affect the war on drugs?

ACCURATE DATA. The war on drugs needs to be based on accurate statistics and data.

MANILA, Philippines " President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, October 10, said that two policemen die each day in drug-related operations. Dalawa, kahapon, dalawa. Dalawa 'yan. Dalawang dalawa. Kung hindi sundalo, pulis. Nawawalan ako ng sundalo pati pulis. If that is not a war against drugs then what is it? he said during the ceremonial sendoff of 18 Vietnamese fishermen in Pangasinan. (Two, yesterday, two. Thats two. That's really two. If not soldiers, Im losing policemen. Im losing soldiers and policemen. If that is not a war against drugs, then what is it?) A quick check with data from the Philippine National Police (PNP), however, shows that as of November 3, 7 policemen and 3 Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) personnel have been killed in drug-related operations. Meanwhile, 24 policemen and 8 soldiers were injured. (IN NUMBERS: The Philippines' 'war on drugs) Several media organizations such as Rappler and Philippine Star, among others, have pointed out this inaccuracy as early as August. In fact, if two policemen or military have died every day since the war on drugs started, there should be 250 policemen or military killed already. (READ: Duterte losing 2 policemen daily to drug war? Stats dont say so)
This is not the first time that Duterte has cited inaccurate data in support of his intensified campaign against illegal drugs that has already claimed 4,783 lives as of Thursday, November 3. In speeches delivered in various events within his first 4 months, Duterte often mentioned that the drug addicts in the Philippines have reached 3 to 4 million already. In a report by the Philippine Star, Duterte explained that the estimate of 3 million drug addicts came from former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Dionisio Santiago, while he cited an added one million based on recent events without specifying any source. Data from the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), the policy-making body under the Office of the President and repository of official data on illegal drugs, refute this claim. Results of the 2015 Nationwide Survey on the Nature and Extent of Drug Abuse in the Philippines show that there are 1.8 million current drug users aged 18 to 69, while 4.8 million Filipinos have used illegal drugs at least once in their lives. The survey, which is done every 3 years, did not identify these individuals as drug addicts. Accurate statistics is important The exaggeration of drug data doesnt seem to be a problem for some officials in the anti-narcotics body. In a Reuters report, PDEA National Capital Region (NCR) Director Wilkins Villanueva said that the overestimation of President Duterte is okay since he just exaggerates it so we will know that the problem is very big. Is it really not a problem? Cari Laylo of Laylo Research Strategies, who has worked with both government and non-governmental agencies in data gathering through surveys, said that using wrong data, no matter what issue is involved, may affect the outcome of policies and strategies. Lack of or inaccurate data leads to unrealistic targets and ineffective strategies, she told Rappler. Professional statistician and Philippine Institute of Development Studies senior research fellow Dr Jose Ramon Albert, meanwhile, said that statistics are primarily meant as inputs to policies. They also help identify the problems even if there are limited resources. Accurate data can give any policy-making body, such as the DDB, a sense of how to approach these problems through policies. Any policy-making body should be focusing on evidence-based policies, and statistics are inputs to policies, he said. While they are not the only inputs, it is important that policies are based on accurate, credible and meaningful statistics. For example, the National Nutrition Council (NNC) conducts an annual Operation Timbang or an annual weighing of pre-schoolers below 6 years old (or 0 to 71 months old) in different communities. The data gathered by Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNS) are then used for local nutritional planning. Other government agencies also make use of statistics and data gathered by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). Laylo, meanwhile, said an annual data-gathering, like what the NNC does, can make policies more effective. The more recent or up-to-date the data is, the more calibrated one can design policies to address a specific issue, she said. This is what Agriculture Secretary Manny Piol earlier pointed out. In a Facebook post in July, he admonished the Department of Agriculture (DA) for using information based on soil samplings that were gathered "in the late 1970s." (READ: Piol calls out DA officials for using outdated soil data) An updated national soil testing and sampling is important, he said, because it will be used to determine which "region of the country could grow which crop best, based on soil components and fertility." What happens to inaccurate data? Aside from playing an important role in policy-making, Laylo explained surveys can also serve as a tool in evaluating existing programs aimed at solving problems in society. Surveys can be used both as a benchmark if no data is available, or as a tool to evaluate the impact of a current or past program or project, and assess or design next steps, she said.
Albert, however, pointed out that statistics related to drug use may be hard to come by considering how controversial the issue is. Statistics on drugs tend to be inaccurate as hardly anyone will admit being hooked on drugs, he said. But if there are inaccuracies in statistics and data used, it is still not too late to correct them. Government agencies and other organizations that maximize data, Laylo explained, need to be familiar with surveyrelated terms such as methodologies and analysis to better understand how to maximize the results they report. Having access to some statistics is always better than no data at all, she said. If they are aware of overestimation or underreporting then there are means to correct for it, provided you have info on where overestimation or underreporting may have occurred and why. The effectiveness of strategies employed can only be measured in the light of how they designed their studies, Laylo added. The Philippines has several drug-related statistics " from PDEA to DDB " that can guide the government as it ventures into the second phase of its war on drugs. Will Dutertes approach be more fact-based? " Rappler.com

Author: Jodesz Gavilan
Date: November 04, 2016
Source: Rappler.com

The Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) is finding ways to make housing more affordable for Filipinos.

Vice President Leni Robredo, HUDCC chair, said the agency is developing innovative solutions to housing finance, including housing microfinance and the use of right-based land tenure instruments as collateral substitutes.

Robredo said HUDCC is also looking into a public rental housing program to cater to individuals whose needs are temporary or are otherwise not looking to own a home where they are working.

Robredo said this initiative would address the housing needs of families who cannot afford homeownership, but still wish to save more from their income to own a home in the future.

HUDCC has convened a technical working group that is currently undertaking a series of consultations with different stakeholders to develop a public rental housing program and other non-ownership based modes for providing more affordable housing options.

No details are available on how the scheme will be implemented.

HUDCC, citing a study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies in 2004, said almost half of the urban population are renters and sharers, at 33 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

The agency noted rental housing is mostly found in informal settlements.

Robredo said while efforts are being made to strengthen land use policy that is efficiently administered through an integrated land and informal settler family (ISF) information system, these are to be complemented by providing innovative housing solutions through the key shelter agencies (KSAs) and public-private partnerships.

Last September, HUDCC began integrating and consolidating data on ISFs from the National Household Targeting System of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, as well as data from the European Satellite Agency (ESA) and on land titles in Metro Manila in ESA-identified areas from the Land Registration Authority.

HUDCC is also studying measures towards more integrated and inclusive transport infrastructures that provide families and residents living outside the cities easier access to livelihood opportunities in the urban centers, Robredo said.

The measures will be discussed with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the member-agencies at the next meeting of the Council.

Recently, National Economic and Development Authority approved HUDCCs request to join DOTr in the Infrastructure Subcommittee on Transport for the Philippine development planning process,in light of HUDCCs mandate on urban development.

In turn, HUDCC proposed that DOTr be made a regular member of the Council through a draft executive order strengthening HUDCC that was submitted to the Office of the President last October 5.

HUDCC has also been drawing in the expertise of international national organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, UN Habitat and World Bank to help build the technical capabilities of local government units in developing their shelter plans using evidence-based planning and decision-making.

Last October 27, HUDCC and Habitat for Humanity signed a partnership to assist at least 50 cities and 300 municipalities in implementing their local shelter plans and in packaging appropriate housing projects and technical assistance in accessing home financing options under the governments KSAs.//

Author: Irma Isip
Date: November 03, 2016
Source: Malaya

The Duterte administration will soon launch the biggest infrastructure push in Philippine history to propel economic growth in the next five-and-a-half years.
Big-ticket infrastructure projects, specifically roads and bridges, mass urban transport and alternative green city solutions are among the key investments to be made by the Philippine government. These will solve the problems brought about by traffic congestion, inadequate mass transport facilities, air pollution, and the lack of healthy, green liveable community spaces.
The development mantra is: build, build and build.
The Duterte administration sees increased infrastructure spending as key to move the country forward and improve the lives of the Filipino people by generating massive investments, creating millions of jobs and lowering prices of commodities.
The countrys lead infrastructure agencies are working in close coordination to build new facilities. The National Economic Development Agency (NEDA), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) are crafting the Duterte Infrastructure Plan. In three to five years, new and better roads, bridges, railways, rehabilitated airports and a new metropolis are envisioned to benefit the Filipino people.
According to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) 2017 National Expenditure Program, in the first year of the Duterte presidency, infrastructure spending will represent 5.4 percent of the countrys Gross Domestic Product. This will be the highest since the Marcos era spanning 21 years when infra spending was at 3.2 percent of GDP.
Among the game-changing solutions of the DOTr that guarantee better transport and passenger experience are the Metro Manila Clark Railway which will assure one-hour travel from Metro Manila to Clark International Airport; the Metro Manila Bus Rapid Train System which will yield on-time trips along EDSA; and the Mindanao Railway which will provide the much-needed connection of people and goods across Mindanao.
For its part, the DPWH will build new linkages to ensure better connectivity between key destinations. These include the Santa Monica-Lawton-BGC Viaduct which will directly link BGC going to Ortigas; the UP-Miriam-Ateneo Viaduct which will cut down travel by 80 percent in Katipunan Ave at CP Garcia; and the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road which will reduce travel time to 30 minutes going to Alabang from Balintawak.



BCDA also eyes big-ticket projects in Central Luzon and Metro Manila. The Clark International Airport New Terminal Building is envisioned to be a world-class airport which will reduce traffic at the NAIA. BCDA also will continue to build a new city proximate to Metro Manila, a 9,450-hectare smart, green and disaster-resilient city that will be a long-term solution to traffic congestion in main urban centers.
Another project is the BGC to NAIA Bus Rapid Transit that will facilitate a 15-minute travel time from Fort Bonifacio to NAIA, preventing delays for passengers rushing to catch their flights whether for leisure or business.
The Philippines has been lagging behind its Asian neighbors in attracting foreign direct investments due to poor infrastructure, which has been traced to government underspending on such projects.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported: At 21.8 percent of GDP [gross domestic product] in 2014, the investment rate in the Philippines is well below regional peers, as reflected in its low capital stock and infrastructure quality.
Given the Duterte administrations development platform, a complete turnaround is expected in the next six years with bold solutions and swift action in responding to the pressing needs of the public through massive infra spending.
At present, feasibility studies are being done for the infra projects of the DPWH, DOTr and BCDA. These projects will be subject to public tender following stringent Philippine government procurement rules. In two years, these are envisioned to break ground, with a launch eyed in three to five years.//

Author:
Date: November 03, 2016
Source: Asian Journal Online

The Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) is pushing for a stronger land use policy that is efficiently administered through an integrated land and ISF information system to address housing affordability, which remains a challenge to many Filipino families.
Vice President and HUDCC Chair Leni Robredo said the affordability of housing has been adversely affected by out-of-control urbanization and unplanned urban sprawl where demand for residential lands far outstrips the available supply of land, particularly in densely populated areas.
The challenge that we face now is setting in place a stronger land use policy that is efficiently administered through an integrated land and ISF information system, the Vice President said.
This will be complemented by providing innovative housing solutions through the Key Shelter Agencies (KSAs) and Public-Private Partnerships to address opportunity gaps facing the homeless and low-income families, she added.
Last September, HUDCC began integrating and consolidating data on ISFs from the National Household Targeting System (NHTS) of DSWD, as well as data from the European Satellite Agency (ESA) and on land titles in Metro Manila in ESA-identified areas from the Land Registration Authority (LRA).
In response, the Vice President said that part of HUDCCs new strategic direction is putting greater focus in empowering the local government units (LGUs) as efficient urban managers with the capacity to develop plans and deliver services to their growing urban population.
HUDCC is also studying measures towards more integrated and inclusive transport infrastructures that provide families and residents living outside the cities easier access to livelihood opportunities in the urban centers, the Vice President said.
The measures will be discussed with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the member-agencies at the next meeting of the Council.
Recently, NEDA approved HUDCCs request to join DOTr in the Infrastructure Subcommittee on Transport for the Philippine Development planning process in light of HUDCCs mandate on urban development.
In turn, HUDCC proposed that DOTr be made a regular member of the Council thru a draft Executive Order strengthening HUDCC that was submitted to the Office of the President last October 5, 2016.
HUDCC has also been drawing in the expertise of international national organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, UN Habitat and World Bank, to help build the technical capabilities of LGUs in developing their shelter plans using evidence-based planning and decision-making.
On Thursday, October 27, HUDCC and Habitat for Humanity (HFH) signed a partnership in assisting at least 50 cities and 300 municipalities in implementing their LSPs and in packaging appropriate housing projects and technical assistance in accessing home financing options under the governments key shelter agencies (KSAs).
We are also developing innovative approaches to housing finance, including housing microfinance and the use of right-based land tenure instruments as collateral substitutes, she added. (BCM)
Furthermore, we are looking into a public rental housing program to cater to the needs of individuals whose needs are temporary or are otherwise not looking to own a home where they are working, she added.
This initiative would address the housing needs of families who cannot afford homeownership, but still wish to save more from their income to own a home in the future, she emphasized.
According to a Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) study in 2004, almost half of the urban population are renters and sharers, 33 percent and 17 percent, respectively.
It was also observed that the marked proliferation of rental housing is found mostly in informal settlements.
HUDCC has already convened a Technical Working Group (TWG) that is currently undertaking a series of consultations with different stakeholders to develop a public rental housing program and other nonownership based modes for providing more affordable housing options.(BCM)

Author: Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Date: November 02, 2016
Source: Manila Bulletin

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is backing up moves to remove the import quota on rice.
It will benefit consumers if you do that. Remove the QR (quantitative restriction) so everyone could import, but we should slap tariff, BSP Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo told reporters recently.
Guinigundo said proceeds from the tariff protection could be spent on improving agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation and drying facilities, and providing better seeding varieties.
It could also help improve farm-to-market roads, instead of [the government] just subsidizing farm-gate prices, Guinigundo added.
State-run think tank Philippine Institute of Development Studies was urging a shift from the current import quota regime to tariff protection, pushing a 35-percent tariff on rice when the QR lapses in July next year.
The Department of Finance also expressed support for the removal of import restrictions on rice and transferring rice importation to the private sector.
The Department of Agriculture, however, is seeking a grace period of two more years before the QR on rice is removed to give farmers more time to adjust to an expected influx of imports under an open market setup.
State planning agency National Economic and Development Authority earlier disclosed the decision of the majority of the countrys economic managers to remove the quota on rice importation, as the government moves to lower the prices of the staple food.
Economic managers were proposing amendments to the decade-old Republic Act No. 8178 or the Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996, which had put the rice import quota in place.
In 2014, the World Trade Organization (WTO) allowed the Philippines to extend its QR on rice until June 30, 2017, in a bid to buy more time for local farmers to prepare for free trade in light of the governments goal of achieving rice self-sufficiency.
Since the government imposes a quota on rice imports, domestic prices are vulnerable to shocks arising from meager supply.
The QR puts the burden of rice supply and demand to the government, whereas the market forces are being limited by the quota system.
Pundits say importation should be done by the private sector in order to allow market forces to determine prices.
The extended QR slaps a 35-percent duty on imported rice under a minimum access volume (MAV) of 805,200 metric tons. Importation outside of the MAV limit are slapped 50 percent.
The Philippines most favored nation rate"the additional tariff imposed when imported outside of Asean" on the commodity remains at about 40 percent. //

Author: Ben O. de Vera
Date: November 02, 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

AS we rejoice with the approaching Christmas season of bonuses and merry-making, expect a monstrous traffic nightmare with more people swarming the big city for shopping, coupled by the pressures from expected sales of 370,000 units of four-wheeled vehicles this year.

Unless innovative solutions are implemented, there is no way traffic will improve much if we do the same palliative measures, like the stricter highway patrol group in charge of Edsa, clearing of sidewalks and parked cars, less corrupt traffic enforcers, etc., although they may help a bit.

No one sees the elephant in the room? It is ironic that nobody seems to see the proverbial big elephant in the middle of the room, even our so-called experts and planners from National Economic and Development Authoritys Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) could not see the problem in broad daylight and even blame the traffic on the buses.

Even the Department of Transportation (DOTr) got Secretary Arthur P. Tugade to ban a few months back public autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Express vans on Edsa, only to retract his order. When this happened, commuters like my daughter got stranded almost an hour longer than usual.

In contrast, ordinary drivers exposed to the stark reality on the streets see more problem. They see the sheer volume of cars as their competitors for road space and the main culprit behind the traffic. Even DOTrs studies say private cars carry an average of only 1.2 passengers per car and account for 80 percent of total vehicles on major roads.

Buses with five seats to a row carry about 60 seated passengers, and 20 more jam-packed along the aisles. This means one bus is equivalent to over 50 cars of road space, or even more owing to the space intervals in-between cars. AUV vans carry at least 20 passengers.

Neither the railways and Rapid Bus Transit (RBT) systems, which take years to build, nor Tugades request for emergency powers, will help solve traffic immediately.

Cut car volume by 50% on rush hours.So why not apply simple principles on spatial management to solve the traffic that is costing P2.4 billion a day in losses, according to a Japan International Cooperation Agency study. Solution No. 1 is imposing an odd-even scheme, only during rush hours, say from 6 to 8 a.m. for plates ending in odd numbers, and 8 to 10 a.m. for even plates. The same goes in the evening rush. In either period, only half of cars are on the road with the other half in the succeeding period. This must be applied only to private cars, while public transport be exempted over public roads in compliance with constitutional principles of giving priority to the general welfare.

Standing policy for buses. Solution No. 2 is to remove bus seats only for Metro Manila, but keep a few for elderly, handicapped and pregnant women. With this literal standing policy more passengers served from the original 60 seated, based on five seats to a row, plus about 20 standing along the aisles, to over 100 to 120 passengers.
If Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit passengers are made to stand, why not bus passengers. If Singapore with its smaller population makes its bus passengers stand, why not do the same here. Wider aisles will allow faster unloading and loading, and lesser time at bus stops, which means lesser traffic buildups, faster and more turnovers owing to time savings by 20 percent or more. This also encourages car owners banned at the odd-even hours to take the bus.

Distribute trucks over 24 hours. The truck ban aimed to ease traffic has actually done more harm. For one, it is causing more traffic owing to their massive build up at the outskirts of the city while the ban is in place, but suddenly flood in mass when the ban is lifted.

Secondly, the truck ban is antibusiness and penalizes the entire economy as flow of goods is constricted, thus affecting supply and prices. There are over 400,000 registered trucks nationwide, the bulk of which pass through Metro Manila.

Solution No. 3, therefore, is to lift the truck ban, but program and spread out truck deliveries over 24 hours. After all, deliveries at night will not matter to international trade. Incentives and penalties can be adopted to implement this.

More U-turns. Many traffic buildups happen around u-turn slots as a one-lane or two-lane slot is suddenly choked in a bottleneck by three to four lines of vehicles, thus causing traffic jams behind them. Solution No. 4 again applies the same spatial management principle of distributing volume to avoid clogging and bottlenecks. Construction of more U-turn slots can be done at night. Fewer MRT stops on rush hours. On the same principle of increasing riding capacity, given the same limited number of coaches through faster turnovers, my friend Dave Garcia says this can be done by limiting the MRT stops only during rush hours. MRT stops can be reduced to three or four from North to Pasay South in the morning rush, and vice-versa South to North in the early evening rush, but allowing train passengers to commute backward in the opposite direction, where traffic is lighter, until they reach their intended destinations. The aim is to allow faster turnarounds to avoid the one-way buildup of commuters, whose resulting long queues spill over for a mad scramble for bus rides on Edsa. Many may complain to the adjustments and feel deprived, but this Solution No. 5 can easily be done through a simple management decision. Slap high car parking fees. Another measure, which may not be immediate as it may entail local legislation, although commercial establishments can be encouraged to immediately make unilateral decisions, is increasing massively car parking fees at least this Christmas season.

Car-park fees are the most effective form of road congestion pricing. They can discourage motorists from bringing their cars. Singapore alone collects about $6 billion in car-park fees, which can also be done here. Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III can consider this as a revenue measure that does not affect the poor.

And because public roads were built by public funds from peoples money, priority must be given to public transport, not cars, which must be made to pay fat parking fees. With lesser cars on the road, more buses will be needed, contrary to the recommendation of experts. All bus colorums can even be legalized and thus stop the corruption on them.//
E-mail: mikealunan@yahoo.com

Author: Michael Makabenta Alunan
Date: November 08, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

The countrys economic managers appear bent on removing next year the quantitative restrictions (QR) on rice importation to comply with the commitment of the Philippines to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and to pave the way for lowering the price of our staple food.
In 2014, the WTO had allowed the Philippines to extend its QR on rice until June 30, 2017, to enable our country to buy more time to prepare local farmers for free trade and enable them to be more competitive with other rice producers. Earlier in 1995, the WTO permitted the Philippines to impose a 10-year rice QR system which was extended in 2004. When the QR lapsed in 2012, it was renewed in 2014 for three more years.
Its not good to extend it for the fourth time, it doesnt make us look good that we keep on extending it, Socio-economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said as he stressed scrapping the QR would lead to lower prices.
Other economic experts agree that increased rice supply from more imports will lower prices because even with a proposed tariff rate of 35%, cheap rice from Thailand and Vietnam can still be sold at prices lower than that of locally-produced rice.
Its going to be better for consumers and its going to exert pressure on farmers and to others involved in the industry to not get into a vicious cycle where nothing gets done, Pernia said. The competition is always good for people to get their acts together and deliver results.
But Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piol is opposed to Pernias position, saying the removal of QR will be disastrous to local farmers who are still not prepared to compete with imported cheap rice.
Pinols stand is supported by two of his predecessors at the helm of the Department of Agriculture, Leonardo Montemayor and William Dar, who warned that rice trade deregulation will cause severe cuts in income of some 1.5 million farmers whose production costs exceed that of their Vietnamese and Thai counterparts.
For the 550,000 who are expected to be displaced altogether, they will find the cheap imported rice unaffordable. At present, it remains unclear what realistic support/adjustment measures will be extended by the current administration to affected farmers and other stakeholders in the rice industry, they lamented.
Dar and Montemayor, who were recent guests in my DZMM Teleradyo program Sagot Ko Yan (8 to 9 a.m. Sundays), said lifting the QR will lead to a drop in farmers income and undermine President Dutertes campaign promise of achieving self-sufficiency in domestic rice production within two years.
They also warned that the advantages for consumers may turn out to be temporary, minimal and unsustainable. Citing studies of the Philippine Institute of Development Studies, and independent economists like Manuel Montes, they said that with the financial incentives of bringing in cheap rice and the resultant reduced production of the staple locally, Philippine rice imports may balloon to 4-5 million metric tons annually.
Dar and Montemayor explained that with our countrys limited port, storage, shipping, and transportation facilities, it is doubtful if we can handle importations double the magnitude of 2 million tons, historically the Philippines largest import volume in a single year.
In a position paper they co-wrote with Trade Union Congress of the Philippines President and former Labor Secretary Ruben Torres, Dar and Montemayor also warned that amid the extremely limited amount of rice traded globally, Filipino consumers will be at the mercy of the profit-maximizing speculators here and abroad.
They recalled that in 2007-2008, the international price of rice skyrocketed from $300 to $1,200 per metric ton, with domestic prices jumping almost 100%, due to shortfall in supply, market speculations, panic-buying by importing countries and import restrictions imposed by major exporters like India, Vietnam, and Thailand which wanted to secure adequate supplies for their local populations first.
They said reliance on importation should take into account adverse effects of climate change which, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute, could lead to the following: rice prices will increase by 32 to 37%, rice yield losses will be 10-15%, and 20 million hectares of rice areas will be at risk, particularly in major exporters to the Philippines like India and Vietnam.
A win-win outcome to the challenge of security in food in general and rice in particular will demand well thought out, comprehensive and dynamic solutions that go beyond mere textbook application of theories of comparative advantage and free trade, they concluded in their position paper.
Clearly, there is need to achieve balance between the need for cheap and readily available rice to benefit consumers, and to ensure sustainable livelihood and decent income for local farmers that ought to lead to self-sufficiency.
I support their call for concerned sectors to immediately implement the necessary policies and programs (on technologies, practices, markets) that will improve the productivity and competitiveness of our rice farmers and their industry.//

E-mail: finding.lina@yahoo.com



Author: Atty. Joey D. Lina,
Date: November 14, 2016
Source: Manila Bulletin

While SEZs generate foreign investment and employment they also deprive farmers of their land and distort the economy

For 17 days in December 2012, at least 120 farmers and indigenous Agtas from the towns of Casiguran and San Ildefonso in Aurora province along the Pacific coast of northern Philippines marched 350 kilometers to Manila.
Their intent was to directly petition then President Benigno Aquino III to stop the implementation of the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport (APECO). The 2,923-hectares of APECO would dislocate some 3,000 farmers, fisherfolk and indigenous people from their farmlands, fishing grounds, and ancestral lands. President Aquino met with the marchers but fell short of granting their main demand, instead offering compromise measures that left the marchers frustrated and angry.For 17 days in December 2012, 120 farmers and indigenous Agtas from the towns of Casiguran and San Ildefonso in Aurora province along the Pacific coast of northern Philippines marched 350 kilometers to Manila.
The past decades have seen a proliferation of special economic zones (SEZ) in the Philippines.
SEZs are meant to attract investments (mostly foreign) to contribute to the countrys economic growth and generate employment. Situated mainly in the countryside, however, SEZs also take up vast tracts of mainly agriculturally productive lands. In this manner, they encroach on farmlands cultivated by small farmers and indigenous groups.
Government systematically takes over these lands without regard for the legal rights of peasant and other rural families who have been toiling on them for generations.
SEZs have been the rage among governments and private investors in recent years. As enclaves of economic activities, they are preferred by both foreign and local investors because of the various incentives granted including tax, tariff, and regulatory perks which would otherwise apply in a non-SEZ environment.
At the same time, the Economist noted that they also create distortions within economies and many actually fail, leaving a long trail of failed zones that either never got going, were poorly run, or where investors gladly took tax breaks without producing substantial employment or export earnings.

PROTESTING. Members of Task Force Anti-APECO gathered outside the senate in 2015 to demand the budget of APECO be totally cut. File Photo by Gerard Lim/Rappler
SEZ attractiveness
In a 2011 World Bank publication, Thomas Farole and Gokhan Akinci see SEZ rules and regulation as being more free-market oriented than prevailing national and sub-national prescriptions, the latter being suspended within the confines of the SEZ.
They include generous tax holidays on income taxes and as much as 100 % on import and export duties, unrestricted repatriation of profits, government provisions for infrastructure including roads, bridges, utilities, and factory buildings.
In return for these incentives, governments usually merely require the payment of a minimal percentage of an SEZ investor-locators gross income.
As a further incentive, governments normally relax laws that protect workers rights and welfare. Specific types of SEZs include: free trade zones (FTZ), export processing zones (EPZ), industrial estates (IE), free ports, urban enterprise zones, tourism zones (including medical tourism), technology parks, and others.
From the very first modern SEZ established in Shannon Airport, Ireland in 1959, the number has now grown to over 4,000 SEZs in 73 countries. An estimated 68 million people work in them. The number of zones could top 5,000 before long.
SEZ track record
Farole and Akinci point out that SEZs track record has been a mixture of successes and failures.
Many SEZs have been successful in generating exports and employment, and come out marginally positive in cost-benefit assessments. Evidence, however, has also surfaced of SEZs turning into virtual white elephants, investors taking advantage of tax breaks without producing substantial employment or export earnings, of unsustainable zones due to rising labor costs or loss of preferential trade access, and failure to extend benefits outside their enclaves or to contribute to upgrading of skills and the production base.
Success indicators have to be redefined, writes Lotta Moberg. The normal parameters of employment, FDI, export and production growth and comparing these to previous trends and to the rest of the country are inadequate and may be too narrowly-focused.
Moberg argues that the existence of economic activity in an SEZ does not make it a net positive to the economy as its success may be due mainly to an abundance of government subsidies or is located in an area naturally disposed to high growth.
Employment generated may prove to be insecure since multinationals may be more prone than others to relocate from an SEZ or restructure when their costs rise.
Concerns were also expressed in 2008 by the World Banks Foreign Investment Advisory Services which cite poor site locations, uncompetitive policies, poor zone development, subsidized rent, cumbersome procedures, inadequate administrative structures, and weak coordination between private developers and governments in infrastructure provision.
The Bank further emphasized that maximizing the benefits of zones depends on the extent to which they are integrated with their host economies via the development of backward and forward linkages and not as enclaves where their economic impacts are suppressed.
The Economist writes that, in addition to the foregone tax revenues, SEZs also create distortions inside economies, (and) are increasingly a haven for money-laundering through, for instance, the mis-invoicing of exports.
The takeover by SEZs of large tracts of often productive agricultural lands can be viewed in the context of a global phenomenon of land grabbing that has come to characterize land transformations in recent years, including the conversion of peasant-controlled lands for commercial plantations and biofuel production.
In Southeast Asia, a prominent case is that of the Dawei Special Economic Zone in Myanmar which, at an area coverage of 196,000 hectares, is billed as the regions largest industrial complex with a deep seaport, industrial estate, and a 350-kilometer road network that ends in Bangkok.
The Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute estimates that 22,000 to 44,000 indigenous people in 20 to 36 Dawei and Karen farming villages will be displaced.
The Dawei Development Association has also criticized the project for widespread human rights abuses of local villagers including land seizures, forced evictions, insufficient compensation for confiscated farmland, and denial of their right to sufficient food and adequate housing.
SEZs in the Philippines
Philippine special economic zones were established through Republic Act No. 7916, otherwise known as "The Special Economic Zone Act of 1995" as amended by Republic Act No. 8748.
The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) administers these zones as an attached agency of the Department of Trade and Industry. Several incentives enjoyed by establishments operating within Philippine SEZs include:
income tax holidays
zero % duty on importation of capital equipment, spare parts, and accessories
exemption from wharfage dues and export tax, impost or fees
the simplification of customs procedures
a tax of 5% of their gross income to the national government
As of May 31, 2015, a total of 326 SEZs have been operating in the Philippines.
Information technology parks lead the list with 216, followed by manufacturing zones with 68. Agro-industrial zones have 21, tourism zones have 19, while medical tourism zones have 2. Compared to the December 2012 number of 277 operating SEZs, there has been a 17.6% increase in the number of SEZs in the Philippines.
Evaluating Philippine SEZs
Similar to the record of SEZs in other parts of the world, the experience of Philippine SEZs has been mixed. Rosario Manasan, in a 2013 publication of the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), outlines both the positive and negative outcomes.
On the positive side, PEZA improved the competitiveness of the countrys investment climate through its one-stop-shop model which reduces the cost of doing business and encouraging the establishment of privately-operated SEZs.
While FDIs in the country declined by 13% yearly from 2006 to 2010, FDIs in SEZs grew by 23% yearly in the same period.
Thus, PEZAs share of total approved FDIs grew from 46% in 2000-2004 to 52 % in 2005-2010 while manufactured exports from SEZs increased from $19.5 billion in 2001 to $28.9 billion in 2009, an annual growth rate of 5 %.
In contrast, manufactured exports from non-SEZ firms declined by 9% yearly during the same period from $9.1 billion to $4.3 billion.
Employment-wise, SEZ workers increased by 10% yearly from 2001 to 2010 or from 289,548 to 735,672, doubling their share of total employment from 1% to 2 %. A rise in skill levels among SEZ workers was also noted particularly in the electronics industries with the rise in design and research related jobs.
On the negative side, SEZ performance has been deficient as forward and backward linkages remain at a low level thus preventing any dynamic economic benefits.
Manasan notes that locator investments have also been overly concentrated (90%) in the electrical and electrical machinery sectors thus increasing the countrys vulnerability to external shocks.
The import-dependent nature of SEZ firms resulted in low-value added electronic products which are mainly assemble electronic components while the processes and designs of original manufactured products are done by the foreign-based mother company.
Manasan observes that Filipino firms in the electronic sector are merely subcontracted to undertake low technology and low value-added operations.
Costs outweigh benefits
As with other SEZs in other Asian countries, Philippine SEZs have costs that outweigh their benefits.
Manasan cites the Bataan Export Processing Zone (BEPZ) where its costs (consisting primarily of infrastructure development costs) exceeded the benefits (employment and associated wage income of workers in the ecozone, exports and associated foreign exchange earnings, local input purchases by ecozone enterprises, and government revenues).
In APECO, despite government investments amounting to P2.9 billion in an airstrip, port improvement, paving and rehabilitation of the Baler-Casiguran Highway, flood control, and other on-site improvements, there were only 10 approved locators as of April 2013 and only 3 of them have started doing business. The APECO official website appears to be inactive and is silent on the number of investor-locators.
As a tool for spurring and encouraging regional development, SEZs have also been, almost without exception, a failure especially in geographical areas located far from developing regions and are of low economic density.
To make matters worse, Manasan says that some SEZs have become conduits for smuggling activities particularly in used automobiles. This has cost the Philippine government P58 billion in lost taxes from 2007 to 2009.
Overall, the tax holidays and other incentives have caused the government to give up P61 billion in foregone revenues from just 29 % of reporting locator firms in SEZs in 2011 alone.
The social costs of Philippine SEZs have been equally disturbing.
A 2015 study by Ateneo de Manila University scholars, Jerome Patrick Cruz, Hansley Juliano, and Enrico La Via, point to aggressive giant property developers and special economic zones in almost all regions of the country as leading a drive for aggressive land use change of agricultural and forest lands in what has now become the most prominent form of land conversions and transformations.
Cruz, Juliano, and La Via further report the displacements of Filipino rural communities from their inhabited lands, and typically accompanied by human rights abuses such as intimidation, forcible evictions and killings all suggest(ing) that a more aggressive drive for commercially-linked land seizures is now under way.
As early as 1990, Sixto K. Roxas was convinced that the SEZ strategy is harmful to the overall development of the Philippine economy because it is being planned and implemented at the expense of agricultural development.
Alternatives
In order to become viable contributors to a national development that is sustainable and inclusive, SEZs have to establish strong linkages with the local economies and be diversified in their product lines.
Incentives must be commensurate with the incomes they provide the national coffers and the costs incurred by government. Planned SEZs must be the result of consultations with affected communities and must not encroach on agricultural lands especially those covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program and tilled by small farm holders and the ancestral domains of indigenous peoples.
Pending an independent audit of SEZ performance in the country, there should be a moratorium on the establishment of new SEZs.
While opposing the APECO project, residents of Casiguran and their support groups also proposed an alternative vision of development, one based on inclusive and sustainable agriculture by organizing organic agriculture, microfinance, and disaster rehabilitation ventures.
They have also been championing a form of development which begins by establishing a dialogue with and respecting the rights of those whom it seeks to benefit.
The aim should be to heighten their capabilities as persons rather than treating them as passive and incapable actors. " Rappler.com

Eduardo Climaco Tadem, Ph.D., is Professorial Lecturer in Asian Studies at the University of the Philippines Diliman and President of the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC).


Author: Eduardo Climaco Tadem
Date: November 10, 2016
Source: Rappler.com

THE COUNTRYS agriculture production is expected to have improved last quarter from the preceding three months and a year ago as El Nio fizzled out, officials and economists said in interviews earlier this week, signaling some support for overall third-quarter economic growth.

Definitely, yung third-quarter growth ng agriculture will be greater than... last year, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piol said in a phone interview on Tuesday when asked for estimates on July-September performance.
[N]akapagtanim tayo matapos ng (we were able to plant after) El Nio. Although naabutan yung iba ng bagyo(some areas were affected by typhoons), it was a bountiful harvest.
Farm output crawled by a nearly flat 0.04% in terms of value in the third quarter last year as El Nio started to make itself felt. Subsequent quarters saw year-on-year contractions in production, but the fall eased to 2.34% last quarter from January-Marchs 4.53% as El Nio waned.
The government is scheduled to report third-quarter farm production data on Nov. 15, two days before it releases third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) results. The agriculture sector has historically accounted for a third of the countrys jobs but contributed only a 10th to GDP.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said last week that the economy could have grown 6.3-7.3% last quarter on increased state infrastructure spending and flat farm output that was still better than previous declines.
It will be flat or smaller negative, Mr. Pernia said by phone on Monday when asked for his expectation on third-quarter agriculture performance.
Economists shared his expectation, noting that the sector has been recovering from the drought that started to make an impact in the second quarter of 2015.
[It] will be much better than the second quarter because of the conclusion of the El Nio and the resumption of the monsoon rain, except for the typhoons... were on our way to recovery, said Roehlano M. Briones, senior research fellow at the state think-tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies.

I wont be surprised if its 2% or 3% or even more for the third quarter, he added.
Guian Angelo S. Dumalagan, market economist at the Land Bank of the Philippines, gave a -1% estimate for the farm sectors third-quarter performance, saying in an e-mail: The rate of decline... might be softer than the second quarters 2.34% fall due to the waning impact of El Nio and relatively fewer devastating storms during the period.
Looking ahead, Mr. Piol said the year may still end with some contraction due to successive storms that have hit the country this semester. We will not be able to really expect positive growth for fourth quarter this year due to two consecutive typhoons that hit the country last month, he said, referring to typhoons Karen and Lawin (known internationally as Sarika and Haima, respectively) that wreaked at least P11.34 billion worth of damage on the agriculture sector.
Mr. Piol sidestepped a question on his departments full-year target for the sector, saying only: Talagang di masyado maganda kasi (Performance is really not so good because) we were led down by the first and second quarters.
The previous administration, which stepped down last June 30, had projected a 3-3.5% growth for agriculture production this year.
Land Banks Mr. Dumalagan said: In the fourth quarter, agricultural production might drop at a sharper rate of 3% due to the damage caused by the two typhoons in October.
Overall, farm output this year might be smaller than last years level and a full-year drop of 3% would not be unusual, Mr. Dumalagan said, referring the sectors marginal 0.11% annual growth in value of output to P788.798 billion last year.
For Ariel T. Cayanan, the Agriculture departments undersecretary for Operations, [w]hatever we had before, we want to at least ma-minimum natin yun (make that the minimum).
But if we can go far as to increase it, okay yun, Mr. Cayanan told reporters on the sidelines of a Monday press briefing in Quezon City, adding that the department was able to prepare for El Nio because El Nio is no longer a phenomenon -- its the new norm...
Mercedita S. Sombilla, a director of the National Economic and Development Authority, said separately by phone that while the agriculture sector could still grow this year, [d]efinitely, di natin mami-meet ang 3% (we cannot meet the 3% set by the past administration).//

Author: Janina C. Lim
Date: November 10, 2016
Source: Business World

Meanwhile, on another front, the government has suddenly lowered the Philippines poverty incidence to a new 30-year low, at 21.6 percent as of 2015.
Reporting on poverty in the Philippines has always been a tricky exercise.
There is no single government agency which is an authority on poverty incidence"which is measured two ways"as a percentage of the population (which means number of Filipinos) and as a percentage of total families (which means number of families). And there is no consensus on what exactly is the accurate and realistic poverty incidence.
The Philippine population is reckoned to be 102 million. If you divide that by 4.5, the number of people per family, you get 22.66-million families. As a percentage of the total number of Filipinos, poverty incidence has been reckoned to be between 26 percent and 27 percent. So 26 percent of 22.66 million is 5.89 million families who are poor. Yet, President BS Aquinos deputy statistics chief, Dr. Jose Ramon Albert, estimated that in 2012 there were actually 17-million families who are either poor (11.28-million families) or had low income (5.77-million families).
So if you claim poverty incidence is now 21.6 percent, which means only 4.89-million families (21.6 percent of 22.66 million), does it mean the ranks of the poor have been reduced by 12-million families? In just three years? Incredible. It beats young Jesus Christs multiplication of the bread wherein he fed 4,000 with just seven loaves of bread. But then Jesus was God and Dutertes men are"humans.
When he was still the economic planning secretary, Arsenio Balisacan used 26 percent and 27 percent as the fairly accurate poverty incidence.
Come now the economists of President Duterte. They are using a much-lower figure of poverty incidence"25.2 percent for 2012 and 21.6 percent for 2015.
Duterte has promised to reduce poverty incidence dramatically, from 26 percent to 17 percent, in six years, or by 2022, a reduction of nine percentage points.
The effect of the new poverty figures is that even before Duterte could start reducing poverty, poverty has reduced itself, to 21.6 percent by 2015.
This implies that this administration has already achieved half of its poverty reduction target because poverty has been reduced by exactly 4.6 percentage points. So over the next six years, Duterte needs only to reduce poverty by 4.4 percentage points (9 minus 4.6) or an average reduction of .73 point (4.4 divided by six years).
When Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez announced the nine percentage-point target reduction in poverty at the beginning of July, he was thinking of a reduction of 1.5 percentage points and even up to 2.2 percentage points per year.
Now it seems the target is a reduction of just .73 (one-third of 2.2 percentage points) per year "certainly a much more realistic and doable target"two-thirds of a percent per year.
In fairness to Dominguez, he is now using new figures of poverty reduction"from 22 percent in 2016 to 13 percent by 2022.
I hope the Duterte people do not use the kind of math they use when reckoning with the number of drugs addicts in the country"four million, up by one million in just three years.
Poverty incidence reduced by 12-million families in three years? That, my dear, is hyperbole.

biznewsasia@gmail.com

Author: Tony Lopez
Date: November 09, 2016
Source: Manila Standard Today

AS we rejoice with the approaching Christmas season of bonuses and merry-making, expect a monstrous traffic nightmare with more people swarming the big city for shopping, coupled by the pressures from expected sales of 370,000 units of four-wheeled vehicles this year.

Unless innovative solutions are implemented, there is no way traffic will improve much if we do the same palliative measures, like the stricter highway patrol group in charge of Edsa, clearing of sidewalks and parked cars, less corrupt traffic enforcers, etc., although they may help a bit.

No one sees the elephant in the room? It is ironic that nobody seems to see the proverbial big elephant in the middle of the room, even our so-called experts and planners from National Economic and Development Authoritys Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) could not see the problem in broad daylight and even blame the traffic on the buses.

Even the Department of Transportation (DOTr) got Secretary Arthur P. Tugade to ban a few months back public autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Express vans on Edsa, only to retract his order. When this happened, commuters like my daughter got stranded almost an hour longer than usual.

In contrast, ordinary drivers exposed to the stark reality on the streets see more problem. They see the sheer volume of cars as their competitors for road space and the main culprit behind the traffic. Even DOTrs studies say private cars carry an average of only 1.2 passengers per car and account for 80 percent of total vehicles on major roads.

Buses with five seats to a row carry about 60 seated passengers, and 20 more jam-packed along the aisles. This means one bus is equivalent to over 50 cars of road space, or even more owing to the space intervals in-between cars. AUV vans carry at least 20 passengers.

Neither the railways and Rapid Bus Transit (RBT) systems, which take years to build, nor Tugades request for emergency powers, will help solve traffic immediately.

Cut car volume by 50% on rush hours.So why not apply simple principles on spatial management to solve the traffic that is costing P2.4 billion a day in losses, according to a Japan International Cooperation Agency study. Solution No. 1 is imposing an odd-even scheme, only during rush hours, say from 6 to 8 a.m. for plates ending in odd numbers, and 8 to 10 a.m. for even plates. The same goes in the evening rush. In either period, only half of cars are on the road with the other half in the succeeding period. This must be applied only to private cars, while public transport be exempted over public roads in compliance with constitutional principles of giving priority to the general welfare.

Standing policy for buses. Solution No. 2 is to remove bus seats only for Metro Manila, but keep a few for elderly, handicapped and pregnant women. With this literal standing policy more passengers served from the original 60 seated, based on five seats to a row, plus about 20 standing along the aisles, to over 100 to 120 passengers.
If Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit passengers are made to stand, why not bus passengers. If Singapore with its smaller population makes its bus passengers stand, why not do the same here. Wider aisles will allow faster unloading and loading, and lesser time at bus stops, which means lesser traffic buildups, faster and more turnovers owing to time savings by 20 percent or more. This also encourages car owners banned at the odd-even hours to take the bus.

Distribute trucks over 24 hours. The truck ban aimed to ease traffic has actually done more harm. For one, it is causing more traffic owing to their massive build up at the outskirts of the city while the ban is in place, but suddenly flood in mass when the ban is lifted.

Secondly, the truck ban is antibusiness and penalizes the entire economy as flow of goods is constricted, thus affecting supply and prices. There are over 400,000 registered trucks nationwide, the bulk of which pass through Metro Manila.

Solution No. 3, therefore, is to lift the truck ban, but program and spread out truck deliveries over 24 hours. After all, deliveries at night will not matter to international trade. Incentives and penalties can be adopted to implement this.

More U-turns. Many traffic buildups happen around u-turn slots as a one-lane or two-lane slot is suddenly choked in a bottleneck by three to four lines of vehicles, thus causing traffic jams behind them. Solution No. 4 again applies the same spatial management principle of distributing volume to avoid clogging and bottlenecks. Construction of more U-turn slots can be done at night. Fewer MRT stops on rush hours. On the same principle of increasing riding capacity, given the same limited number of coaches through faster turnovers, my friend Dave Garcia says this can be done by limiting the MRT stops only during rush hours. MRT stops can be reduced to three or four from North to Pasay South in the morning rush, and vice-versa South to North in the early evening rush, but allowing train passengers to commute backward in the opposite direction, where traffic is lighter, until they reach their intended destinations. The aim is to allow faster turnarounds to avoid the one-way buildup of commuters, whose resulting long queues spill over for a mad scramble for bus rides on Edsa. Many may complain to the adjustments and feel deprived, but this Solution No. 5 can easily be done through a simple management decision. Slap high car parking fees. Another measure, which may not be immediate as it may entail local legislation, although commercial establishments can be encouraged to immediately make unilateral decisions, is increasing massively car parking fees at least this Christmas season.

Car-park fees are the most effective form of road congestion pricing. They can discourage motorists from bringing their cars. Singapore alone collects about $6 billion in car-park fees, which can also be done here. Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III can consider this as a revenue measure that does not affect the poor.

And because public roads were built by public funds from peoples money, priority must be given to public transport, not cars, which must be made to pay fat parking fees. With lesser cars on the road, more buses will be needed, contrary to the recommendation of experts. All bus colorums can even be legalized and thus stop the corruption on them.//
E-mail: mikealunan@yahoo.com

Author: Michael Makabenta Alunan
Date: November 08, 2016
Source: Business Mirror