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Cimatu: PH won’t tolerate illegal wildlife trade

April 26, 2019

The Philippines has once again demonstrated its strong and steadfast commitment to fighting illegal wildlife trade following two consecutive law enforcement operations that resulted in massive seizures of live wild animals and arrest of wildlife criminals.     Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu made this remark after the Philippine Operations Group on Ivory and Illegal Wildlife Trade, or Task Force POGI, seized over P50-million worth of live exotic animals reportedly smuggled from Indonesia in an operation conducted on April 8 in Mati City, Davao Oriental.     Earlier this month, the Bureau of Customs also intercepted more than 700 live venomous tarantulas, with combined estimated value of P310,000, at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The interception also led to the arrest of two suspects, one of them is the consignee of the shipment from Poland.     Cimatu said the government has not changed its stance on wildlife protection and will not ease its crackdown on illegal trafficking and trade of wildlife species.     “The Philippines is taking illegal wildlife trade seriously,” the former military chief said. “We want to send a clear signal that the country does not tolerate illegal wildlife crime, trafficking and trade that is driving endangered species to the brink of extinction.”     With a value of $23 billion annually, illegal wildlife trade is the fourth most lucrative global crime after illegal drugs, human trafficking and illicit arms trade.     The Philippines has been labeled as a consumer, source and transit point for illegal trade of wildlife and their by-products, threatening endemic species populations, economic development and biodiversity.     Cimatu said the government will not waver in its commitment to end illegal wildlife trade. “We are not going to stop. The fight against illegal wildlife trade is worth fighting,” he said.     In June 2013, the Philippines—through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)—destroyed at least five tons of smuggled elephant tusks using a road roller, making the Philippines the first country in Asia to conduct physical destruction of massive ivory stockpile in support of global efforts to stamp out illegal wildlife trade.     Last April 8, Task Force POGI—a composite team of wildlife enforcers from various agencies including the Biodiversity Management Bureau, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police—conducted a raid in Barangay Dahican in Mati City where they confiscated 450 species of bird, mammals and reptiles, including the endangered black palm cockatoos (Probosciger aterrimus) and echidna, both of which are listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendix I and II respectively.     CITES is an international agreement between governments and aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival, and was conceived to regulate the trade of wildlife animals and plants across borders and safeguard certain species from over-exploitation.     Appendix II states a list of species that are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival, while the Appendix I contains a list of species threatened with extinction.     The confiscated exotic animals were reportedly in the area for safekeeping in a week before they are transported to and sold in different areas in the country. The task force arrested two persons who served as caretakers of the wild animals.     Both the suspects in the tarantula shipment and Indonesian wildlife have been charged for violating Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources and Protection Act, which defines and penalizes illegal wildlife trade.     Under the law, unlawful trading, possession and transport of wildlife species are punishable by a jail term of up to two years and a fine of not more than P200,000.

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Tarrification law boosts Normin rice buffer stock

April 26, 2019

THE new Tarrification Law has boosted the rice of buffer stocks in Northern Mindanao ensuring sufficient supply for the rest of the year.     In a press release, National Food Authority (NFA) 10 director Genaro Nuñez Jr. said the new law hastened the local procurement activities in rice producing areas in the region such as Bukidnon.     Nuñez said this was done with the help coming from the Department of Agriculture (DA) which provided two hauling trucks for procurement activities in remote areas in Malaybalay City.     Under the new rice tarrification law, NFA’s activities will be limited in sourcing its rice buffer stock through local palay procurement sans imports.     Nuñez has set the maximum buying price of P20.40 (individual farmer) and P20.70 (farmers’ cooperative) per kilo, positioning its own mechanical dryers, hauling trucks and warehouses to accommodate a massive palay volume that will be procured in the different provinces in the region.     The amount is on top of other incentives such as P0.20 per kilogram (drying), P0.20 per kilogram (delivery) and P0.30 per kilogram (cooperative incentive fee).     As of April 15, performance of this year’s procurement in the region garnered a total of 20,585 bags of palay with Bukidnon being the highest procuring province at the volume of 12,459; Lanao del Norte (4,613), Misamis Occidental (3,420) and Misamis Oriental (93).     That’s an add on to the 20,611 bags inventoried in December 31 last year, bringing the total to 39,681 bags.     Republic Act 11203, otherwise known as the rice tarrification law, has left NFA with the lone function of ensuring the country’s buffer stocks for emergencies and calamities.

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Italpinas earnings breach P100-M mark in 2018

April 24, 2019

ITALPINAS Development Corp. (IDC) posted a P120.56-million net income in 2018, breaching the P100-million mark for the first time.     IDC’s net income last year was double the P59.9-million profit recorded in 2017.     For 2018, revenues surged 94% to P368.52 million from P147.4 million in the previous year.     “We would like to maintain the trend … In terms of gross sales, we booked around P360 million. We would like to double this year… Next year, we want to double our sales and continue with the growth percentage that we have been able to achieve in the past year,” IDC Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Romolo V. Nati said in a press briefing held on Tuesday in Taguig City.     Mr. Nati said the company hopes to sustain its growth momentum in the next few years.     “Actually, our plan is bigger. In terms, in span of five years we like to replicate in the growth that we experienced starting from 2013. It means we want to achieve a net profit of billions in the next five years, if we will be able to replicate the growth we delivered so far,” he said. IDC recorded a net income of P5.3 million in 2013.     IDC attributed its strong growth in 2018 to sales of its projects, particularly Primavera City in Cagayan De Oro City.     Located near SM City CDO, Primavera City is a mixed-use residential condominium project with six mid-rise buildings and one high rise tower. Broken down, 281 units will be allotted for residential, while 39 will be for commercial/office for the first phase.     Another project developed by IDC is Primavera Residences located within the Pueblo de Oro township also in Cagayan De Oro City. The two tower project, which has 298 units, has been sold out and has completed its turnover.     IDC is also developing the Miramonti project in Sto. Tomas, Batangas.

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Car sales recover in March

April 24, 2019

SALES of car manufacturers bounced back in March, recording a double-digit growth year-on-year, the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers Association of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) reported on Monday.     CAMPI sales increased by 14 percent last month to 32,173 units from 28,216 units sold in March 2018.     “The double-digit growth during the month of March compared to the same month last year is a strong indication that the automotive industry is well on its way to recovery. We are optimistic that this trend will be sustained in the coming months,” CAMPI President Rommel Gutierrez said.     The 32.8-percent improvement in sales of commercial vehicle segment supported the overall sales in March, offsetting the 15.7 percent decrement in passenger cars’ sales.     Passenger car segment sold a total of 9,214 units in March, still lower than the 10,925 unit sales in the same month in 2018.     But month-on-month sales of this segment already improved by 8.77 percent from 8,471 units sold in February this year.     On the other hand, commercial vehicle sales accelerated to 22,959 units last month from 17,291 units a year ago.     Light commercial vehicles sold 18,793 units last month, up by 54.4 percent from 12,171 units in March 2018.     Asian Utility Vehicle (AUV) sales, however, declined by 29.4 percent, to 2,753 units this year from 3,899 units last year.     Among truck sub-segments, only trucks and buses category four recorded a decrease in sales, down by 36.4 percent, while the category three and light trucks were both up by 24 percent.     The double-digit growth in March has narrowed the sales decline for the first quarter of 2019.     Total CAMPI sales from January to March this year slipped by 0.8 percent to 85,388 units from 86,037 units in the same period last year.     Passenger cars sold a total of 26,172 units in Q1 2019, down by 9.5 percent from 28,907 units in Q1 2018.     Commercial vehicle sales went up by 3.7 percent to 59,216 units this year from 57,130 units in the same period of the previous year.     Market leaders in the Philippines for Q1 2018 were Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Honda, and Ford. (PNA)

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Aboitiz Power welcomes investigation on alleged collusion in power sector

April 24, 2019

THE top management of Aboitiz Power Corporation (AP) welcomed an investigation by the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) on alleged collusion among power industry players to jack up electricity prices.     In a briefing after the annual stockholders meeting of Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AVE) in Makati City Monday, AP Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Emmanuel V. Rubio said speculations that power players are deliberately disrupting power services need to be addressed.     "We believe it's something that really needs to be clarified to erase speculations, perceptions of the market," said Rubio, who takes over as the company's Chief Executive Officer on January 1, 2020, when current CEO Erramon Aboitiz retires.     Asked if he sees the need to implement reforms in the industry, he said this will be a good development.     "If there are actually reforms that will recommended as a conclusion of the investigation to improve the system then we welcome that," he added.     The Luzon grid experienced low power reserves before the Holy Week after several power plants went on unplanned outages due to various reasons like having some parts that are not working.     This resulted in the issuance of yellow and red alerts for the Luzon grid and power outages in several areas.     PCC chairman Arsenio Balisacan, in a statement Monday, said the Commission is "looking into the recent series of shutdowns and assessing if it merits an investigation."     "We look forward to the report that DOE (Department of Energy) will send us as it will help with our assessment," he said.     Balisacan said the drop in reserves that resulted to power outages "sparked complaints from the public", thus, "PCC shall assess whether the recent power plants’ outages are manipulated to increase electricity prices or are valid unplanned breakdowns that affect supply conditions."     He explained that the Commission, under the Philippine Competition Act, is "mandated to promote fair market competition, prohibit anti-competitive behavior among businesses across sectors including the power sector, and advance consumer welfare in the process."     He, thus, called on power generation companies to refrain from "engaging in anti-competitive or collusive behavior which is punishable by the competition law with fines of up to PHP250 million, and imprisonment of responsible officers of up to seven years."     He also stressed that "while the PCC has primary and original jurisdiction over competition concerns, the antitrust commission acknowledges the technical expertise and regulatory functions of the DOE and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) in overseeing the power industry."     "With this, the PCC seeks to deepen its ties and advance its previous discussions with the DOE and ERC towards a Memorandum of Agreement in order to facilitate market competition and investigations in the power sector," he said.     Balisacan also pointed out that the Energy department "has previously referred a similar matter" to the PCC.     "That is being treated as a separate investigation," he added. (PNA)

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Bong Go vowed to press Duterte’s campaign against corruption; HNP stumps Kidapawan City

April 24, 2019

KIDAPAWAN CITY, North Cotabato - Former Special Assistant to the President and 2019 senatorial candidate Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Monday vowed to help President Rodrigo Duterte in his campaign to rid the government of corrupt officials.     Speaking at the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) campaign rally at the Capitol Provincial Gymnasium here, Go thanked the residents of the city for their warm welcome, particularly during his motorcade earlier.     “Maraming salamat po sa mga kababayan ko dito sa Kidapawan at North Cotabato. Tulad po ng ibang lugar na pinuntahan namin, napaka-init po ng pagtanggap ninyo, sing-init ng panahon. Nakakawala po talaga ng pagod pag nakikita mo ang ganung klase ng suporta,” Go said.      In his message to the people of Kidapawan and the entire province, Go reiterated his vow to support President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs, criminality and corruption.      “Ipagpapatuloy ko po ang mga pagbabagong nasimulan ni Pangulong Duterte. Yung kampanya laban sa iligal na droga, kampanya laban sa kriminalidad, at kampanya laban sa corruption isusulong ko po,” Go said.      Zeroing in on corruption, Go lamented that it takes a big bite out of the funds intended for projects and programs meant for the benefit of the people.      “Marami pong nagpapawis, tumulong kay Pangulong Duterte noong kampanya. Pero sabi ni Pangulong Duterte pag pumasok ka sa corruption, hiwa-hiwalay na tayo. Interest muna ng bayan bago interest ng sarili o kaibigan. Marami na pong sinipang opisyal si Pangulong Duterte dahil sa corruption,” Go said.     Earlier, Go had urged people to report to him, to the Truth and Justice Coalition, or to the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission any information on corrupt officials and they can be sure it would be acted upon immediately.     “Tulungan nyo po si Pangulong Duterte sa kanyang kampanya laban sa mga corrupt na opisyal. Ibulong nyo lang po sa akin, o iparating ninyo sa Truth and Justice Coalition of Greco Belgica, o kaya sa PACC,” Go had said.     As part of his legislative agenda for agriculture, Go called for improved irrigation services to curb the effects of the perennial dry spell the country experiences, noting reports that the dry spell had affected about 15,000 hectares of farmland.      Go said improved irrigation system, coupled with better management of water resources could not only help bring a bountiful harvest for the farmers but also support the operation of residents engaged in fish farming.      “Pagbutihin pa natin ang irigasyon para bukod sa patubig sa bukid ay magkaroon ng tubig ang mga fish ponds. Bigyan din natin ng binhing isda ang mga mangingisda para tuloy ang kabuhayan nila,” said Go.     “Dapat palakasin pa natin ang suporta ng pamahalaan sa pagbibigay ng mga abono, binhi, makinarya at mga pagsasanay. Ilalayo natin ang mga magsasaka sa 5-6 dahil pahihiramin natin sila ng puhunan na may mababang interes. Gusto ko na magkaroon sila ng alternatibong pagkakabuhayan,” he added.     He also assured the people of North Cotabato that they can count on him to support the Duterte administration’s infrastructure and development programs, particularly those that are directly beneficial to the people of the province.     He cited, among others, the on-going Malitubog-Maridagao Irrigation Project (Phase 11) located in North Cotabato and Maguindanao area, that would divert irrigation water from Maridagao River to deliver timely and adequate irrigation water to 9,784 hectares of agricultural lands.      There are also various farms to market road projects in the province to enable farmers to transport their products faster to the market such as the concreting of Mahongcog to Sitio Tagaytay road, upgrading of Bangkal Sitio Apog-Apog road, improvement of Manobisa Crossing Iwal to Sitio Timodos road, and concreting of PBMA – Sitio Hijara-Tombao road. Proponents have been required to submit the requirements for these projects.     To mitigate the effects of flash floods that destroy properties, crops, and livestock, the Duterte administration is embarking on a P1.4-billion project to dredge and realign the Simuay River and its shoreline. The NEDA has already approved the project in February this year and civil works are expected to begin by this year.      Topmost among  Go’s priorities in his legislative agenda is the crusade to improve the delivery of health services in the country, particularly through the establishment of Malasakit Center. It’s a one, stop shop that makes it easier and faster for indigents to avail of medical and financial assistance from the government by bringing together in one room all concerned agencies such as DOH, DSWD, PCSO, and Philhealth.      “It’s a continuing program of the Duterte administration. Gusto ko po itong maisabatas pagdating ng panahon para tuloy-tuloy ang programa kahit hindi na pangulo si Pangulong Duterte at mas madagdagan pa ang ating mga Malasakit Center,” Go said.      Other priority concerns in Go’s legislative agenda include programs for education, housing for the poor, fire protection and prevention, long-term sports development, localized peace talks,  barangay welfare, creation of a department of OFW and better support for senior citizens.     “Asahan nyo po, patuloy ninyo akong magiging tulay kay Pangulong Duterte. Wala po kaming ibang hangarin ni Pangulong Duterte kundi ang kabutihan ng Pilipino dahil mahal namin kayo,” Go said.     “Ang bisyo ko po, magserbisyo. Naniniwala ako na ang serbisyo sa tao ay serbisyo sa Diyos,” he added.

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