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Daily inquirer forexAdd sections of your favorite publications into your personal home feed to build your own newspaper or magazine. Get an endless stream of top news stories tailored just for you. PressReader continues to give you the best access to thousands of newspapers and magazines just as they appear in print. Create opinions and make your voice heard. Your voice is a catalyst for change, and your opinion gains momentum as more people support it. Plus, get more ways to share, bookmark and comment on stories that matter. PressReader delivers continuity. Read stories in your news feed on one device and pick up where you left off on another. PressReader delivers news to all of your devices. It’s optimized for web browsers on your tablet or computer. You can also download the PressReader app for your mobile device. Your existing credentials are all you need. Forex reserves hit record-high $85.9B. The country’s dollar reserves hit a record-high $85.9 billion in end-August, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said Wednesday. The gross international reserves (GIR) level was at $85.5 billion a month ago and $80.3 billion a year ago, preliminary BSP data showed. In a statement, BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. attributed the higher GIR mostly to “the national government’s net foreign currency deposits and the BSP’s foreign exchange operations and income from investments abroad.” The increase in GIR last month, however, was partially offset by the national government’s payments for maturing foreign obligations as well as revaluation adjustments on the BSP’s gold holdings due to a decline in global gold prices, Tetangco added.

The GIR level as of end-August can cover 10.5 months’ worth of imports of goods as well as payments of income and services. The dollar reserves were also equivalent to six times the country’s short-term external debt based on original maturity and 4.3 times based on residual maturity. The BSP defines short-term debt based on residual maturity as outstanding foreign debt whose original maturity was a year or less, plus principal payments on medium - and long-term loans of the government as well as the private sector that were due within the next 12 months. As for net international reserves, or the difference between the GIR and total short-term liabilities, these likewise rose to $85.9 billion in August from $85.5 billion a month ago. Due to weak global trade in the first quarter, the BSP had slightly cut its projected balance of payments (BOP) position for 2016, which monetary authorities expected to taper to a $2-billion surplus from the earlier projection of a $2.2-billion surplus. The BOP is a summary of all the businesses the country does with the rest of the world. A surplus means the amount of dollars that entered the economy that year was more than the amount that left. The projected end-2016 GIR level was nonetheless kept at about $82.7 billion, higher than 2015’s $80.7 billion and enough to cover nine months’ worth of goods imports and payments of services and income. Ben O. de Vera. Forex swings slice Aboitiz Power income. Foreign exchange fluctuations shaved Aboitiz Power Corp.’s net income by 2 percent year-on-year to P9.7 billion in the first half of 2017. Aboitiz Power said in a statement it lost P744 million in the first six months of this year due to forex losses on the revaluation of its dollar-denominated liabilities. The company said, however, that its consolidated Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) jumped 18 percent to P21.8 billion from P18.4 billion.

“Our core power generation and power distribution businesses have continued to post significant growth,” said Antonio R. Moraza, Aboitiz Power president and chief operating officer. “Our new power plants are contributing significantly while our existing power plants are continuously improving in terms of availability and reliability,” said Moraza. He said Aboitiz Power’s pipeline of projects was on track and should bring the company towards its goal of having 4,000 megawatts (MW) of net attributable capacity by 2020. The group’s power generation business recorded an 8-percent growth, bringing in P8.9 billion in terms of core net income. From January to June, Aboitiz Power sales accounted for 2,706 MW of generating capacity, one-third more than the 2,033 MW previously. Sales were mainly driven by the additional capacity of GNPower Mariveles Coal Plant Ltd. Co. and higher capacity sold from hydro units. Aboitiz Power’s distribution business also saw a 3-percent rise in net income contribution of P1.8 billion in the semester. Distribution sales also improved by 1.4 percent, for a total of 2,546 gigawatt-hours. Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media.

Call 896 6000. Right here right now. Rethinking the PDI quintet. It is, indeed, a moment of joy, and a historical one at that, for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, as it enters this new chapter in its 30-year, vibrant history. Newspapers and their readers become family. Newspapers and the regions and countries in which they circulate create strong bonds, with the journalistically sound press recording the daily occurrences that are part of our lives—the good and bad deeds of people, the natural catastrophes, the ins and out of politics and politicians—and, in some cases, playing the role of the watchdog that keeps institutions and those in charge of running them in check. Binay sent P100M to HK via Philrem. COURTING VIGAN Vice President Jejomar Binay campaigns with former PNP Special Action Force chief Getulio Napenas, a senatorial candidate, in Vigan, Ilocos Sur province. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO. Vice President Jejomar Binay’s law firm sent more than P100 million to a Hong Kong company using the same remittance agency embroiled in the alleged $81-million money-laundering scheme under investigation in the Senate. In a 62-page report, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) said the dispatch of various amounts to Citibank in Hong Kong for Three Star Phil, a company based in the British Virgin Islands that purportedly was an investor in a Binay dummy company, was made in transactions recorded in October 2014 and facilitated by Philrem Service Corp. A Senate hearing on money laundering on Tuesday heard testimony that Philrem had converted the $81 million that computer hackers diverted from the Bangladesh central bank accounts to the Philippines into pesos. The AMLC report said Binay, while mayor of Makati City, received through dummies billions of pesos in kickbacks from various infrastructure projects, notably the Makati City Hall Building II and the Makati City Science High School building. Part of that money allegedly went to the Hong Kong bank. The Oct. 28, 2015, report recommended the prosecution of Binay for civil and criminal charges, including forfeiture of his bank accounts and other assets. Binay has denied the accusation, saying the AMLC report was part of a campaign to derail his candidacy for President in the May elections.

The AMLC report, a copy of which was secured by the Inquirer on Monday, was signed by Amando M. Tetangco Jr., head of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Teresita J. Herbosa, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Dennis Funa, deputy commissioner of the Insurance Commission. The AMLC looked into the bank accounts of Binay in connection with the investigation of the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee into his alleged ill-gotten wealth. Law firm. According to the AMLC report, Martin C. Subido, a partner in Binay’s law firm, Subido, Pagente, Certeza, Mendoza and Binay (SPCMB), opened a bank account at a Banco de Oro branch with an initial deposit of $2,449,054.18. This amount came from the BDO Account No. 100140217126 of Daniel C. Subido, a brother of Martin. The report also said that there were eight big transactions representing interaccount transfers (within the same bank) from Oct. 13 to 17, 2014, totaling to $2,208,604.17 (equivalent to P99,042,361.46) and a cash deposit on Oct. 22, 2014, of $240,450.01 (equivalent to P10,772,160.45). From Oct. 31, 2014, to Feb. 19, 2015, the report said, there were no transactions on this SPCMB US dollar account. However from Feb. 20, 2015, until it was closed the next month, on March 11, withdrawals ranging from $130,000 to $200,000.00—for a total of $2,451,125.06 (equivalent to P109,656,400.91) were made almost on a daily basis. “It was observed that all withdrawal slips have notations written on them as to 102780130446. Said account number belongs to Philrem Service Corp., a remittance and moneychanger firm,” the AMLC report said.

Dummies. Notably, the report said accounts of Binay and his alleged dummies—Gerardo Limlingan, Lily Crystal, Bernadette Portollano, and Mitzi Sedillo—disbursed amounts to Philrem’s Account No. 2780130466 in BDO. A BDO joint account of Limlingan, Portollano and Subido disbursed a total of P100 million to Philrem by way of debit memos. The five debit memos covered the dates Oct. 13-17, 2014, at P20 million each credited to Philrem BDO Account No. 2780027548. “The total amount transacted from Limlingan’s joint account is an exact matching transaction involving the crediting of $2,208,604.17 equivalent to P99,042,361.46 to the US dollar account of Daniel Subido within the same period,” the AMLC said. 2 telegraphic transfers. The AMLC also said SPCMB made two telegraphic transfers to Three Star Capital Limited in Hong Kong: On June 5, 2014, SPCMB, through Martin Subido, who in turn authorized Portollano, transferred $500,000 to Savings Account No. 904-10-11475 in the name of Three Star Capital Limited in CTBC bank Co. Ltd. Hong Kong Branch documents showed that the remitter was SPCMB Account No. 5390035195. Another telegraphic transfer was made by SPCMB on Sept. 15, 2015, of $500,000,00 debited from Regines Forex Corp. Account No. 3250200005060 maintained at Sterling Bank of Asia through Regine’s Forex Corp.

, also to Three Star at its CTBC-Hong Kong account. From the account of SPCMB’s BDO Account No. 5390048025 transfers in rounded figures were made from July 1 to 4, 2014, between and among SPCMB, Sunchamp Real Estate Development Corp., Earthright Holdings Inc., Greenergy Holdings Inc. and to the joint accounts of Antonio L. Tiu, James Tui, Anne Lorraine Buencamino Tui and Pei Feng Lee. On July 1, 2014, SPCMB BDO Account No. 5390048025 received a fund transfer from Sunchamp BDO Account No. 5390131062 in the amount of P270 million. On July 2, 2014, SPCMB BDO account again received a cash deposit of P67.5 million from Tiu. Tiu is allegedly a dummy of Binay and linked to the so-called “Hacienda Binay” property in Batangas province. Also on the same day, the SPCMB BDO account received another transfer from Sunchamp’s BDO account. Then on July 4, 2014, the SPCMB BDO account received another fund transfer of P39 million from the Sunchamp BDO account. On that same day, SPCMB transferred P37 million via domestic telegraphic transfer to the joint account of Tiu at the Philippine Business Bank account. The transactions based on bank documents, establish that SPCMB was principally involved in the transfer of funds across accounts owned by persons and entities with clear and discernable links to VP Binay, the AMLC report said. SPCMB further transferred funds obtained in the Philippines to accounts abroad. “This is a common recourse intended to bring funds beyond the reach of authorities or at the very least make it difficult to recover them,” the report said. Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000. Duterte's target: The Philippine Daily Inquirer. Duterte started with subtle hits but has since ramped up tirades against the Philippine Daily Inquirer before the Prieto family sold its majority stake to businessman Ramon Ang, close friend of the President.

TARGET. President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly threatened the Philippine Daily Inquirer. File photo from Malacanang PPD. MANILA, Philippines – When big news rocked the newsroom of the Philippines' biggest newspaper on July 17, 2017, two key figures that played remarkable roles in the spunk and growth of the Philippine Daily Inquirer were noticeably absent: Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc and President and CEO Alexandra "Sandy" Prieto-Romualdez. Magsanoc had died in December 2015. Her sparring partner, Prieto-Romualdez, decided to take a vacation when her mother announced to the Inquirer staff that the family had sold its majority stake in the newspaper to business tycoon Ramon S. Ang, also the President's close friend. It must have been too much to bear for Prieto-Romualdez. She and Magsanoc, after all, had weathered many a crisis that usually visits an aggressive media company caught in a love-hate relationship with the powers that be. Without Magsanoc and in the face of unrelenting pressure from the Duterte administration, Prieto-Romualdez and her family gave up their 25-year-old control of the Inquirer . "They were bullied," said a media business executive who knows the Prietos well. The bullying was made publicly – and behind the scenes.

President Rodrigo Duterte started with subtle hits against the newspaper, particularly during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) in 2016, when he decried the Inquirer's famous Pieta-like front page photo of a victim of the war on drugs. Several months later, on March 30, ranting over the alleged “unfair news” written about him, Duterte said that karma was sure to catch the "bullshit" Inquirer . “ Dapat may magsabi sa inyo ngayon, mga putang-ina ninyo, sinobrahan 'nyo ang kalokohan ninyo, " he said during the oath-taking of government officials in Malacanang. (Someone should tell you, "You are sons of bitches, you went too far in your nonsense.") The Inquirer has maintained a running list of alleged drug personalities allegedly killed in the administration's violent and bloody war on drugs. It had to issue a statement , taking "exception” to these allegations and stressing that it has always “endeavored to get the administration's side of any controversy.” Successive attacks. This did not stop Duterte’s tirades against what he described as a “rude” newspaper. Less than a week after, on April 5, he accused an alleged Prieto “ son-in-law” of earning more than his colleagues at the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) in 2013.

The man in question, Briccio Santos, is the uncle-in-law of Sandy Prieto-Romualdez. Sandy married businessman Benjamin Philip Romualdez, president of the Chamber of Mines and Benguet Corporation and a nephew of former first lady and now Ilocos Norte Representative Imelda Marcos. By the start of the second half of 2017, Duterte focused on another issue involving the family – their Mile Long property . The 2.9-hectare property had previously been the subject of a long ordeal since the early 2000s, peaking with a case filed by the National Power Corporation (Napocor) through the Office of the Solicitor General during the administration of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2009. Duterte, however, took it to another level – in public. On July 1, he accused the newspaper of owing P8 billion in taxes over the property which is the subject of a court case between Makati City and Sunvar Realty Development Corporation, a company owned by the Rufino and Prieto families. Two weeks after, on July 17, Duterte threatened to turn the property into socialized housing, accusing the Prietos of “ swindling ” the government. "These newspaper owners, who do they think they are? The way they editorialize people in government saying they are thieves….,” he said. “You have hostaged a government property for so long a time and collected the rentals there. That is swindling.” On July 19, t he Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed its earlier ruling that a Makati court has no jurisdiction to hear the petition for injunction filed by Sunvar. This puts the government ahead in the legal race as it already won an ejectment case in 2015 .

(READ: Prietos lose another round at CA in Mile Long dispute) Solicitor General Jose Calida on July 28 demanded that Sunvar vacate the property, saying that the Prietos " have used your newspaper, Philippine Daily Inquirer, to shield your shenanigans." Newsroom feels pressure. The pressures soon began to be felt in the newsroom. Editors would be asked if "this certain story was really necessary," and they would end up spending precious time justifying stories to the owners, according to an Inquirer editor. They tried to persuade the family to stand their ground, the same position they took during the Estrada years – when then president Joseph Estrada also put political and commercial pressure on them for exposing his alleged ill-gotten wealth. But this was not the Estrada regime, the editors were told. The family was not just referring to the style of Estrada, that suddenly seemed benign, but also to the state of the newspaper business. The Prietos could afford to stand up to Estrada then because, among others, the Inquirer was raking it in during those years. Not anymore. Its profits have dwindled in the last decade. (READ: FAST FACTS: What you should know about the Inquirer Group) Aware of the difficult terrain that the newspaper was navigating under Duterte, some Inquirer editors exerted extra effort to show balance in their stories to show management they were not being unreasonable. "We would catch ourselves practicing self-censorship," one of them said. "It was sad and tears were shed," said another. Nothing they did, though, could seem to pacify the powers that be. About two weeks before the talks with Ang were finalized, the signal of an ad boycott became clear, according to one insider.

Reminiscent of the Estrada years, this – among other factors – facilitated the sale of the Prieto shares to Ang, the same insider added. Today, the Inquirer is on the brink of a massive reorganization with the looming takeover of Ang. Did the Inquirer 's sale buy the Prietos some peace? Not if one goes by the President's latest tirade against them – when he said he not only wanted to sue them, he also wanted to see them in jail. (READ: Duterte wants to sue Prietos, Rufinos for economic sabotage) In their official statements, the Prietos said that the sale to Ang was a purely business decision, a strategic one that's needed, given the crisis in the newspaper industry and the massive shift to digital. They have been in talks since 2014, according to an Inquirer report. They call Ang a "longstanding friend and business partner” yet many fear that the takeover could affect independent media in the Philippines, given the businessman’s close ties to Duterte. This relationship manifests in the fact that the business interests of the 11th richest man in the Philippines – including conglomerate San Miguel Corporation – remain untouched by Duterte’s constant rage against select business personalities. One does not need to dig to see the “deep” friendship between the two. (READ: Meet Ramon Ang, Filipino billionaire and Duterte's friend ) During the 2016 presidential campaign period, the businessman was one of the former Davao City’s contributors, even offering to buy him a private jet for his safety. (READ: Duterte: San Miguel's Ramon Ang was campaign donor ) Politically savvy, he was also known to have supported then presidential candidate Grace Poe. Ang has been supporting Duterte’s projects, including the intense anti-illegal drug campaign which has drawn criticism from local and international organizations. In fact, San Miguel donated P1 billion to the government to build new drug rehabilitation facilities. At one time, Duterte said of Ang: “ Alam mo, we became fast friends because, alam mo, ang tao may ano eh (You know, we became fast friends because you know, the person has)…You have a disarming attitude of humility. Talagang madi-disarm ka (So you will really be disarmed), so we became fast friends. Until now.” CHRISTMAS WITH THE PRESIDENT. President Duterte walks with Presidential Assistant Bong Go and SMC boss Ramon Ang (left) during a Christmas party in Malacanang on December 20. Photo courtesy of Malacanang.

Editorial independence? Inquirer employees have expressed their concern over what could happen with the incoming management. They, however, hope that their editors would be “strong enough, brave enough” to resist pressure from management in case it mounts. For now, the mood in the newsroom is "wait and see", according to insiders. (READ: Inquirer employees surprised, worried about Ramon Ang buyout ) At present, due diligence is still being carried out and approval by the Philippine Competitive Commission of the sale to Ang is still being awaited. Republic Act (RA) No. 10667, also known as the Philippine Competition Act, requires that before a transaction can be sealed, the antitrust regulator should be notified for merger and acquisition deals whose transaction values are above P1 billion. The completion of these requirements is not expected to take long, however. Yet some political observers have compared the impending takeover of Ang to what happened with The Manila Times after it was sued by former president Joseph Estrada in 1999. (READ: Is the Inquirer's impending sale a Manila Times redux?

) But the Inquirer said in a statement that the Prietos are “confident that Mr Ang will uphold the Inquirer Group's commitment to pursuing highest standards of journalism.” After all, insiders said, business wisdom would dictate that the new owners and managers maintain and uphold the credibility and independence of the paper, the very capital that built the Inquirer' s value through the years. "The Inquirer was a mission, it was an advocacy. You stay in the media as a steward. When Eggie former Inquirer publisher Eugenia Apostol sold the Inquirer, she believed it was to take the Inquirer further. The time has come for the Prietos to find someone who will take care of it," said another insider. The call for journalism independence, however, may be marred as the names of those being floated by incoming management to assume top editorial positions in the Inquirer , according to the grapevine, include those known to be Duterte supporters. Foreign exchange student from Taiwan faces new federal charge after Delaware County school shooting threat. An Tso Sun, the foreign exchange student who pleaded guilty in Delaware County Court this week to threatening to "shoot up" a Catholic high school, was back in court Wednesday, this time to face a new federal charge in Philadelphia. Sun was calm as he was arraigned for possessing more than 1,600 rounds of ammunition while on a nonimmigrant visa. His green prison jumpsuit appeared to swallow the frail teenager, who looked around the courtroom wide-eyed. He spoke quietly with his attorney but did not address the judge. The federal case is based primarily on the allegations that led to his arrest in Delaware County this spring. In March, authorities said Sun warned a classmate at Bonner and Prendergast Catholic High School not to come to the Drexel Hill school on May 1 because Sun planned to go on a shooting spree that day. Upper Darby police arrested Sun, 18, who is from Taiwan and was staying with a host family in Lansdowne, and charged him with making terroristic threats. Sun told police then he was "just joking" about the planned shooting.

“Mr. Sun may have said he was just kidding after he made this threat, but his alleged threat is no laughing matter,” U. S. Attorney William M. McSwain said at a news conference after the arraignment. Authorities said their search warrants had uncovered something more sinister. "When you add it all together, we believe that he was planning something horrible," Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said at the time of Sun's arrest. In Sun's bedroom, authorities found a military-style ballistic vest, a crossbow with a scope and light, 20 rounds of 9mm ammunition, a military ski mask, an ammunition clip loader, and a strangulation apparatus called a garrote. On a school-issued iPad, authorities said, they uncovered internet searches about how to obtain parts to make an AK-47 or an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. Attorneys have said Sun's parents are in the United States to support their son, but the couple did not appear in court or at the news conference on Wednesday. They have been identified by various news outlets, including the Associated Press, as the Taiwanese actor Peng Sun and opera singer Ying Di. According to the Taiwan News, they have apologized for their son's behavior, insisting any threat must have been unintentional or the result of a language barrier. "We as parents feel remorseful and guilty," Peng Sun told the News. "We firmly believe that our child's actions were unintentional, but we will accompany our child as he faces the American legal process." His mother said some of the items found in Sun's room were intended to be part of a Halloween costume, according to the news outlet. Authorities said Sun's host mother, whom they have not identified, had removed the gun and ammunition from his room after Bonner-Prendergast contacted her about the threat and before authorities searched Sun's room.

McSwain skirted questions on Wednesday about whether the host mother could face charges as a consequence. But he did offer a stern warning to parents. "Wake up and do your job," McSwain said. "Law enforcement is not the first line of defense in these matters. You are." Enrique A. Latoison, a lawyer who at one time represented Sun's host family, said in March that Sun had the equipment because he was interested in a career in law enforcement. Latoison added that Sun, who had only been in the U. S. for about five months at the time, did not understand the implications of making such a statement, even as a "joke," in a time when school shootings happen with regularity. Caroline Goldner Cinquanto, Sun's attorney in the federal case, declined to comment Wednesday on whether Sun planned to plead guilty. He did not enter a plea at the arraignment. His attorney in the state case could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon. Sun is being held on a detainer lodged by U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and will be held in federal custody until his next court date. If convicted of the federal charge, Sun would be deported and permanently barred from reentering the U. S. "Americans should be safe from such terror no matter who or where they are," McSwain said. "One more mass shooting is one too many." Philippine News for Filipinos, INQUIRER. net. Blog of Philippine Daily Inquirer updated daily to provide the news , commentaries, business, lifestyle and entertainment.

Friday, September 30, 2011. FEU needs a storm of a game. REDEMPTION VS REIGN. Ateneo FEU clashes anew in the finals of UAAP Season 74. MANILA—Ateneo sees no problem in facing a pumped up Far Eastern University in the UAAP men’s basketball championship Saturday. Although ranged against a much improved Tamaraws, the Blue Eagles think there should be no question on their motivation to bag a fourth straight crown. “I think people who assume that we are no longer hungry to win will be surprised,” said Ateneo coach Norman Black. FEU mentor Bert Flores, though, finds more reasons to push the Tamaraws when Game 1 of the best-of-three title series unfolds at 3 p. m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. “There’s last year’s Finals,” said Flores, noting that the Tamaraws are aiming for redemption from last season’s championship meltdown. “We were badly beaten, so I think the players want to prove something.” FEU, which clinched title berths in all divisions this season, also vie for crowns as the favorite in the women’s and juniors best-of-three Finals.

The top-seeded Lady Tamaraws clash with defending champion Adamson at 9 a. m., before the No. 1 Baby Tams take on surprise finalist National University at 11 a. m. “The first game is really the most important,” said Flores. “I keep reminding my players that we’re almost there. Just two more weeks of staying focused.” The Tamaraws of course, have a lot to deal with as the Eagles boast of an experienced cast—led by Nico Salva, Kirk Long and Emman Monfort—bolstered by rookie stars Kiefer Ravena and Greg Slaughter. “We’ll continue to play the same way,” said Black of his Eagles, who topped the eliminations at 13-1 before disposing University of Santo Tomas in the Final Four. “We normally go inside-and-out. We utilize Slaughter's size inside to force other teams to collapse and double-team against him.” The Tamaraws, the No. 3 seed (9-5) who overcame Adamson’s twice-to-beat semifinal edge, are again expected to rely on their formidable backcourt bannered by RR Garcia, Terrence Romeo and Cris Tolomia. “In a sense that’s going to be be a big challenge for us,” said Black. “We’re probably No. 1 in the league in shutting down the lane area. Now we’re going up against a team whose strength is perimeter play. We have to do a good job of not just shutting down the lane, but also to close out and challenge their shooters.” Flores said his Tamraws have adjusted since their twin elimination loss to the Eagles. “We have to work hard on our rebounding,” said Flores. “Ateneo is also good off transition, so we have to be ready for that.

” The Eagles surprisingly dumped the Tamaraws in the first round, 69-49, but had a tougher time in pulling off a 74-67 overtime win in their second meeting. “The FEU team that’s playing right now is a much better team,” said Black. “They have a lot more confidence. They’re much more aggressive. They’re getting out trying to run fastbreaks and they’re really pressuring defensively.” SBP sends Fiba Asia hosting bid. PBA-Gilas partnership assured. Whenever a Philippine national basketball team doesn’t fare too well in a major international tournament, there is a negative effect on the PBA in terms of interest, attendance and TV ratings. This is why we are confident—and so are PBA commissioner Chito Salud and chair Mamerto Mondragon—that the fine performance of the Smart Gilas national team in the recent Fiba Asia Men’s Championship in Wuhan would redound to the benefit of the PBA when its new season opens on Sunday. After all, most of the Smart Gilas national team players will suit up for different teams, which has raised the expectancy level of the fans. High-flying Japeth Aguilar should provide some awesome dunks alongside Kelly Williams with Jimmy Alapag, who played so well in Wuhan, making the right calls for powerhouse Talk ‘N Text, back-to-back champions last season. Former Alaska grand slam coach Tim Cone will try to weave the magic of his triangle offense with a popular and highly motivated B Meg Llamados squad backstopped by the fiery Mark Barroca. Surprise Governors Cup champions Petron will seek to blaze new trails with solid wingman Chris Lutz while his partner Marcio Lassiter is certain to show his tigerish defensive prowess and offensive skills along with streak-shooter JV Casio for the Powerade squad. He may be getting on in years but Asi Taulava can still bring some electricity to the Meralco Bolts along with Smart Gilas reserve and big man Jason Ballesteros while feisty Marc Baracael fits nicely into the Alaska brand of play.

With an enthusiastic new television franchise holder in TV5, which telecast some of the best sports programs on its action-oriented AKTV IBC Channel 13, the fans can look forward to a new and innovative dimension in the coverage of the PBA. We believe that with the performance of Smart Gilas in Wuhan, Philippine basketball, thanks to the passionate commitment of businessman-sportsman Manny Pangilinan, is on the right track. By placing fourth, the Philippines jumped eight notches and made it to the top 50 in world basketball . The renowned NBA superstar Clyde Drexler even commended Smart Gilas and made some welcome suggestions. What the public wishes to see—and the PBA has responded positively—is that all 10 teams in the pro league set aside their competitive differences both on the hardcourt and in business and industry and rally around Mr. Pangilinan and his Smart Gilas program. Indeed, the PBA can set an example for the rest of the sports organizations and business enterprises to follow in the interest of the greater good. Never mind the pessimists and the perennial prophets of doom and just go ahead and do the right thing. Imagine if Rajko Toroman and his coaching staff that included Chot Reyes, Ryan Gregorio and Charles Tiu had the benefit of tapping the likes of Arwind Santos, Gabe Norwood, James Yap and Mark Caguioa, things may have been different in Wuhan. Happily, both the PBA board and commissioner Salud have realized that the league needs to get together. Salud and Mondragon offered to consider a 16-man PBA pool even as the youthful commissioner correctly pointed out that we have a lot of room to improve and we are taking small steps to get there. This is no small step in the public mind. It is—and must remain—a giant leap forward. Thursday, September 29, 2011.

PBA launches 37th season; teams make a pledge. Wednesday, September 28, 2011. UAAP postpones seniors’ finals game two due to ‘Pedring’ Tuesday, September 27, 2011. UAAP Finals: Ateneo Blue Eagles shoot for 4th straight UAAP crown. MANILA, Philippines—Ateneo tries to complete a historic quest Tuesday with coach Norman Black hoping the Blue Eagles would stick to what has made them successful all these years. Monday, September 26, 2011. UFL Cup kickoff, matches on AKTV. Friday, September 23, 2011. Philippines hosts first Asean Spratlys meet. The Philippines is pushing for the setup of a “Joint Marine Peace Park” in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), part of its fresh proposals that seek to ease tensions in the region by delineating disputed areas and replacing military forces with civilians representing the various claimant countries. Manila’s proposals came under scrutiny as it began hosting Thursday a two-day meeting of Southeast Asian maritime experts. The gathering, the first of its kind, was an attempt by the Philippines to present a unified regional policy in confronting China’s exclusive claim over all the islands in the region. The meeting was limited to maritime and legal experts from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), four members of which lay claims to the sea believed to be rich in oil. The four claimants from Asean are the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei. The other rival claimants are longtime rivals China and Taiwan. Not all The Philippine proposal maintained that not the entire West Philippine Sea is subject to a dispute, but only the Spratly group of islands which are sought by all six claimants, and the Paracel Islands which are being contested by China, Vietnam and Taiwan.

China refers to the strategic body of water as the South China Sea. The proposed peace park “could be established in the joint cooperation area, or JCA, for the six Spratlys claimant-countries,” according to a paper from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), a copy of which was obtained by the Daily News Philippines . “It would be a concrete implementation of the code of conduct (for Spratlys claimants) and a beginning of a more vigorous cooperation in the West Philippine Sea,” the paper said. It noted that the code “would be specifically applied in the JCA” and “could be designed to prevent accidental military encounters through specific rules of engagement between and among the parties.” Demilitarized The DFA paper said the JCA could be “demilitarized,” with police or Coast Guard staff replacing military personnel. On maritime areas outside the JCA, the report said “joint activities that could be undertaken include search and rescue, oil spill preparedness, marine scientific research, and other conservation projects.” And to transform the West Philippine Sea from a region of conflict into a so-called zone of peace, freedom, friendship and cooperation, “the disputed areas must be clarified from the nondisputed waters,” the DFA said. Once the disputed areas are delineated, claimants can decide to withdraw their troops, replace them with civilian forces and undertake joint research projects and disaster drills to boost trust, the proposal added. For Manila, the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea are “specific, determinable and measurable.” These areas can be determined and measured, it said, by making distinctions between “territorial disputes” and “maritime claims,” specifying the geological features being claimed, and applying the rules governing them under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos). In the Asean bloc, the Philippines together with Vietnam has been the most vocal party in the dispute. China, however, prefers bilateral negotiations with each claimant country.

Beijing protest Two senior Philippine diplomats told The Associated Press (AP) that Beijing had protested the two-day meeting. Beijing has also questioned why Asean should deal with the disputes as a group when the majority of its members are not claimants, the two diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters. One of the diplomats said that if Asean can forge a common stand, the bloc would later try to get China’s concurrence. A draft statement to be issued after the meeting indicated all the participants were inclined to support the Manila proposal, describing it as “consistent with international law.” They would urge the claimant countries “to meet among themselves and explore the possibility of defining” the disputed areas for joint projects. Binay’s doubts They would endorse the proposal to senior Asean diplomats for political deliberation, according to the draft statement, a copy of which was seen by AP. Resolving the dispute “may take centuries,” said Vice President Jejomar Binay while talking to reporters after delivering an opening speech to the delegates at the conference. Binay noted in the speech that the sea—through which more than half of the world’s supertankers pass—has “become a source of tension, which threatens the security” of not only the vital sea lane but also the region and the world. But segregating the disputed areas would be tough. The Philippines, for example, claims as its own a potentially gas-rich area called the Reed Bank, which lies off the province of Palawan. China, however, contests that claim, and two Chinese patrol boats tried to drive away a Philippine oil exploration ship from the area in March. The Philippines protested the incident as one of several intrusions by China into its territorial waters that reignited tensions in the first half of the year.

With a report from AP. ‘Ghost’ borrowers got P2.5B from Acef — Drilon. After phantom soldiers and fake veterans, now it’s “ghost” borrowers. Senator Franklin Drilon warned that the government can no longer recover a total of P2.5 billion in loans that went to what he called ghost borrowers under the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (Acef). The Senate earlier uncovered ghost soldiers and questioned the existence of centenarian World War II veterans at separate hearings on military corruption and the proposed 2012 budget of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office. Acef, put up in 1996 after the Philippines joined the World Trade Organization, was meant to enhance the competitiveness of farmers and fisherfolk, and to boost the country’s food security. Citing a Commission on Audit (COA) report, Drilon said many of the business ventures that got loans from the P10-billion fund might have been opened “just to make an advance” from the government credit line. “The government is clearly prejudiced in this case because the amount could not be collected anymore since these are clearly ghost borrowers,” he said. Among the alleged beneficiaries were politicians close to the Arroyo administration. No response Drilon noted that a total of 264 letters had been sent out to check on the status of the loans. But the government got no response from 140 beneficiaries, whose aggregate balance amounted to P2.1 billion, according to the COA report. Twenty-seven of the recipients, whose balances were worth P370 million, were said to have returned the letters to COA “for various reasons.” Drilon said borrowers whose combined loans amounted to P66.4 million “failed to pay back their loans due to the closure of the companies affected by typhoons and firms that no longer exist.” Loans worth P1 million “may not be collected anymore because of death, insufficient address or unknown identity of the borrower,” he said.

Safety nets Acef, funded by tariffs from agricultural products, is a mechanism aimed at providing financial support to the agriculture sector to increase its competitiveness in the global market. The money from the taxes was supposed to be used to establish “safety nets” for those in the agriculture sector affected by trade liberalization. In January, the fund was halted after officials saw irregularities in the program. Aside from the low repayment rate that left only P1.8 billion from the P10-billion fund, beneficiaries and former applicants also complained that past agriculture officials had asked kickbacks from them. Agriculture officials said 110 accounts that drew funding from Acef were in arrears worth P3 billion. Many of these were projects worth P15 million and below. Agriculture Undersecretary Antonio Fleta said Acef had a low repayment rate of 26 percent. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the beneficiaries did not find it urgent to pay back their loans as the program did not require any collateral or did not charge interest. In addition, many of the project owners turned out to be incapable of paying back the dues.

No trace Some borrowers reasoned that they were left bankrupt by natural calamities, while others just vanished and could not be traced anymore, officials and records said. Malacanang said individuals and groups that made a killing out of the fund should be unmasked. “If there’s corruption, certainly we are eager to know who profited from that scam,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said at news briefing in the Palace. Aurora province An audit conducted by the Department of Agriculture showed that Senator Edgardo Angara’s home province, Aurora, received a total of P300 million from Acef. The province got P200 million in 2008 for the concreting of the Baler-Casiguran Highway, while the Aurora State University received P100 million in 2007 for its Enhancement of Technology-based Agribusiness Industry program. Foul Angara, a former agriculture secretary, cried foul for supposedly being “singled out” in the controversy surrounding the alleged misuse of Acef. “It is irresponsible to single me out and impute irregularities without proof. Do not turn this into a witch-hunt,” he said in a statement. Angara called for “an honest-to-goodness performance audit of Acef to resolve the controversy once and for all, instead of resorting to useless and damaging labeling that characterizes the fund as worse than the fertilizer scam.” He said both the agriculture department and the Senate oversight committee on agriculture should conduct a “full and fair audit” of Acef. He was the author of the law establishing the facility. Publish all names “They should publish all the names of the beneficiaries of Acef , from Day 1 to the present, whether individuals, corporations, provinces or universities,” said Angara. The senator said it would be easy to trace where the money went and how it was used. “I see no reason not to publish this information, unless there really are ghost beneficiaries.” Angara said the P300 million received by Aurora was spent for projects that were channeled to the right beneficiaries.

“Just because I am a native of Aurora does not mean I made a profit from Acef,” he said. “We have results and outcomes to prove that the money was well-spent. There is nothing to hide.” Conflict of interest The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said Angara had no moral ascendancy to conduct a probe of Acef because he was among those accused of benefiting from the fund. “It appears that Angara has been used to practicing conflict of interest,” KMP vice chairman Randall Echanis said, noting that the senator is a member of the congressional oversight committee on agriculture and fisheries modernization (COCAFM). KMP also assailed former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap’s statement that the low repayment rate did not make Acef a failure or a scam. “It is the height of callousness for Yap to simply dismiss reports that only big businesses and corrupt bureaucrats benefited from the Acef while farmers suffer from the brunt of the massive flooding of imported agricultural products in the local market,” Echanis said. He said farmers affected by the impact of agricultural trade liberalization were more than willing to testify that they did not receive a single cent from Acef. Fund to reopen The credit line is expected to reopen within the year, pending the Development Bank of the Philippines’ release of funds. But Alcala no longer has full discretion in deciding who will get loans from Acef. Loans amounting to P15 million and below used to require only the agriculture secretary’s approval after these had been passed by the reviewing committee. Alcala said this rule was changed to include the two chairs of COCAFM, Senator Francis Pangilinan and Representative Mark Mendoza. The change is part of the checks and balances instituted in preparation for the reopening of Acef. “Before, the approval of loans P15 million and below was in the level of the secretary only after a review of the Technical Working Group. I did not approve of that anymore so the COCAFM chairs are now included,” Alcala said.

With a report from Norman Bordadora. Thursday, September 22, 2011. Aquino on martial law: Never again, never forget. NEW YORK—Filipinos should not forget martial law lest they repeat the mistake of one of the darkest periods in their lives, according to President Benigno Aquino III. During a coffee break with Filipino reporters covering his US trip, the President was asked whether the people should forget or continue to remember how the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial law 39 years ago on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila). He replied by quoting the writer George Santayana: “Those who forget the mistakes of the past are condemned to repeat them.” “If we don’t remember, maybe one day, given the right conditions, we just might get into that kind of situation and there will be no certainty that it will be peacefully resolved,” he said. Conditioning Mr. Aquino said the people should not forget how they were “conditioned” by the Marcos dictatorship to think that the nation then was in chaos and that martial law needed to be imposed. He said it should be remembered that “the desire of one man and a group decided for the people then, and until now the people continue to suffer from the wrong decisions made.” He cited as example the bad debts incurred by the Marcos regime from building the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.

“What should we remember about martial law? Whatever those revising history say, let us not forget that the person who implemented it had then finished his term in office as allowed under the Constitution. He was supposed to be a bar topnotcher but he did a lot of things that violated the rights of the people, including trying civilians in military courts,” the President said in an apparent reference to Marcos who had a military court try and sentence to death his late father, former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. The assassination of Ninoy Aquino on his return home in 1983 after three years in exile in the United States sparked the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution that toppled the Marcos dictatorship and installed his widow, Corazon Aquino, as President. Human rights policy In Manila, Malacanang renewed its commitment to uphold human rights in commemoration of the 39th anniversary of the imposition of martial law, but remained unclear on the definition of certain concepts that could lead to the adoption of a compensation bill for victims. Mr. Aquino’s spokesperson Edwin Lacierda boldly said that there was no political prisoner under the current administration and that extrajudicial killings were being investigated. “We have made a very strict policy to uphold human rights. In fact, we have extended even to those who do not agree with this administration due process, both substantive and procedural due process,” Lacierda said at Wednesday’s news briefing. “In fact, that is why it takes us so long to file cases. It’s because we are in strict observance of human rights. We believe in due process and we will continue to uphold due process and human rights in this country,” he said. Lacierda, however, said more precise definitions remained elusive. Asked to comment on the human rights situation in the country 39 years after the imposition of martial law, he said: “I think we need a better definition of terms and maybe clearer terms of reference with respect to human rights.” Terms too broad “Broad terms” related to the human rights issue are apparently getting in the way of the compensation bill for victims of rights abuse, particularly those under the dictatorship.

“There was a bill that was submitted by the executive branch, prior to the Legislative-Executive Development and Advisory Council meeting,” Lacierda said. “Unfortunately, the terms and provisions were so broad that these would not be able to determine how one can be called a human rights victim.” Mr. Aquino thinks that the compensation bill should be fine-tuned and its provisions made more specific, Lacierda said. He said the bill was still “being worked on.” Lacierda said violating human rights was not a policy of the administration. “Proof positive of this is the appointment of Loretta Rosales as chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, who was herself a victim of torture under the Marcos regime,” he said. He added that there was no political prisoner under Mr. Aquino’s watch despite demands from the Left that certain prisoners be released because they were “consultants” in the peace negotiations between the government and the communist-led National Democratic Front. Lacierda also said the administration does not condone extrajudicial killings. “So far, under this administration, there have been 10 extralegal killings that happened and they are all under investigation. Some of the cases have already been filed in court,” he said.

Philippines Government. OFW households saved less cash in Q3. Households that rely on money sent in by acquaintances and family members working abroad appear to have saved less cash in the third quarter, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. In its latest survey, the BSP reported that 35.5 percent of households dependent on remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) had less savings in the three months to September, compared with the 43 percent of respondents reported in the same quarter last year. “The appreciation of the peso decreased the value of remittances in peso terms, hence, a smaller amount could have been apportioned by households for savings and purchase of big-ticket items,” the BSP said in a report. The latest figure was also lower than the 44 percent recorded in the second quarter of the year. There were 651 households covered in the BSP survey, which was conducted in July. According to the central bank, OFW households are encouraged to set aside a certain sum for savings and investments to secure their future. The BSP has been conducting seminars on savings and investments for migrant workers and their families. But it admitted that it still has a long way to go before most OFW households get to practice saving up and investing.

The peso’s appreciation was fueled by the surge in foreign capital inflows, particularly short-term investments in stocks, bonds and other securities. The BSP said the sharp rise in foreign “hot money” inflows was due to the poor economic performance of the United States and Europe which, in turn, forced international portfolio fund owners to seek opportunities elsewhere, particularly in emerging markets like the Philippines. Also, the rise of the peso has badly affected the fortunes of Filipino exporters, whose goods are now more expensive in dollar terms, and thus less competitive in foreign markets. Traders have since urged the BSP to intervene in the foreign exchange market, particularly by making the peso much weaker against the US dollar. But according to central bank officials, the regulator maintains a policy of allowing a market-determined exchange rate. They noted that a weak peso would not benefit all sectors, and that the regulator must stick to a bias-free policy. However, the BSP does intervene in the foreign exchange market from time to time, but only to temper the sharp rise or fall of the peso. Remittances from Filipino migrant workers continued to grow this year, particularly in dollar terms, despite the problems abroad. The rise in remittances is attributed to continued strong demand for Filipino workers in overseas labor markets. But economists said that while remittances have grown significantly in dollar terms, the peso value of the remittances have been registering almost flat growth because of the appreciation of the local currency against the US dollar. Latest data from the BSP showed that remittances in the first seven months of the year reached $11.35 billion, rising by 6.3 percent from the $10.68 billion reported in the same period last year. Smart Gilas Pilipinas locks down on Syria, faces Chinese Taipei.

The Chinese, fired up by a rowdy sellout crowd, swept the group stages and booked a fight-off with Lebanon in the quarters while the Japanese will grind it out with the Koreans in other knockout pairing. Wednesday, September 21, 2011. P10B agri funds drained. It was worse than the fertilizer scam. A P10-billion fund meant to help small farmers, fisherfolk and agriculture entrepreneurs raise their skills and production was used as a cash cow of agriculture officials, politicians and businessmen “favored” by the Arroyo administration for almost a decade, officials said. The discovery of irregularities in Acef (Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund) has led lawmakers and agriculture officials to suspend the program in January and to review its implementation. What they saw, according to officials who checked the Acef records, was a long list of companies and beneficiaries who failed to pay back their loans. The same officials also heard of complaints from borrowers who said that agriculture officials demanded kickbacks in exchange for loan approvals. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said his office had received complaints from beneficiaries and those who tried to apply for the fund that former agriculture officials had asked for kickbacks in exchange for approving their loans. Legitimate projects were also set aside in favor of proponents who have questionable projects but are willing to provide kickbacks, officials said. “As we investigated it, we found out that the majority of those who did not pay were the ones who were complaining about the kickbacks,” Alcala said. “It was as high as 20 to 35 percent,” he noted. A senior agriculture official also noted that the Acef executive committee was lax in approving projects. Some proponents, who promised to give commissions, were not even required to appear at the Department of Agriculture to explain their projects, the official said.

Alcala said it was the Acef management that was accused of being the recipients of bribes. “They got money out of proceeds. After the funds are released, something goes to them,” he said. Although the reports and complaints were numerous, Alcala said it was difficult to pin down the errant officials. “Of course, these had no receipts,” he said. Some borrowers were also reluctant to say something on record because they knew that they got the deal out of bad faith, Alcala said. The practice of asking for commissions in exchange for loan approval was confirmed by Gregorio San Diego, president of United Broilers Raisers Association (Ubra). Four years ago, Ubra applied as a cooperative for the Acef to build a broiler breeder facility in Pampanga. San Diego said his group was encouraged by then Secretary Arthur Yap, but when the application reached the central office of the agriculture department , it was denied. “They asked 10 percent from us,” he said, noting that it was considered a discount.

“Others were told to give 35 percent,” he added. In the end, Ubra decided not to push through with its application, San Diego said. Senator Francis Pangilinan, cochair of the congressional oversight Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization, and sources confirmed that some of those who applied for the fund were personalities and politicians “favored” by the past administration. ‘Lender of last resort’ An industry source and an agriculture official, who reviewed the project and requested anonymity because of lack of authority to discuss the matter, described the use of Acef in the last decade as “plunder.” “This was bigger than the fertilizer scam,” the industry source said, referring to the misuse of P728 million in agriculture funds under then Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante. The fund, intended to benefit farmers, was said to have been diverted to the campaign kitty of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004. Bolante and former Agriculture Secretary Cito Lorenzo have been charged with plunder at the Sandiganbayan. “This was supposed to be for agricultural enhancement but they have become the lender of last resort,” the source said, referring to Acef. Acef, established in 1996 and funded by tariffs from agricultural products, is a funding mechanism aimed at providing financial support to the agriculture sector to increase their competitiveness in the global market. Safety net The money from the taxes was supposed to be used to establish “safety nets” for agriculture sectors affected by trade liberalization. “That was the basic tenet of Acef, but it was not followed. If it was implemented properly, say the industries were given common services, it would have made Philippine agriculture competitive.

But this was not followed. Even those projects that were not aimed at competitiveness were given funding,” the industry source noted. The fund was set up to enable farmers, fisherfolk, and cooperatives to upgrade their skills and facilities so that they can compete in an increasingly globalized agriculture market. Loans up to P30M Under the program, agricultural workers, cooperatives, nongovernment organizations, and local government units may take out loans ranging from P500,000 to P30 million. Acef was supposed to have a 10-year life-span, but the agriculture department, during the term of former Secretary Yap, issued several memoranda extending the program and its scope. Collateral-, interest-free The program was especially designed to encourage small and medium agricultural enterprises to borrow from it as it does not demand a collateral from them and is interest-free. The lack of these requirements opened the fund to abuse and was the main reason for the low-repayment rate, officials said. Acef contained P10.73 billion accumulated from collected tariffs from 1990 to 2010, according to the Department of Agriculture’s preliminary report as of February 2011. During that period, the fund used P8.85 billion, mostly for grants and loans. As of February, the agriculture department said P2.57 billion went to grants, while P5.82 billion went to loans to 299 accounts. Included in the loan portfolio was a P1-billion grant to the bankrupt Quedancor, which was supposed to be used for the agency’s training program. At about P372.78 million was used to fund scholarship programs. Quedancor did not remit a single centavo to Acef and even borrowers who failed to pay were allowed to borrow huge sums again, officials said.

As of early 2011, only about P1.8 billion remained in Acef coffers as many of the creditors failed to pay back their loans over the years, the Department of Agriculture said. Failure Despite the huge amounts of money that were funneled into the fund since its creation, the credit mechanism that was supposed to improve Philippine agriculture, provide employment in the countryside and raise the income of farmers and fisherfolk failed in its vision. In March, the technical working group on Acef said: “Available data indicate that the Acef has not been able to provide loans to the marginalized farmers and fisherfolk; but mostly to small and medium enterprises.” In a report, the Commission on Audit (COA) said Acef was a failure. “The purpose of the program to raise farm productivity by extending credit to small farmers, fisherfolk and agricultural entrepreneurs was not achieved as manifested by the low collection rate of amortization due from the proponents. The inability of the proponents to pay the amortization is an indication that their livelihood agricultural activities did not succeed,” the report said. Yap’s friend One of the borrowers who was not punctual in paying his loan was Lyndon Tan, owner of Basic Necessity, a vegetable farm in Cavite, and a friend of former Secretary Yap. Yap, project head of the book, “The Art of Agribusiness: 111 and More Success Stories in Agri-Entrepreneurship,” cited Tan as an example of a successful Filipino farm entrepreneur. Tan, according to a recent agriculture department audit, sells his greens to supermarkets and restaurants. He borrowed P38 million from the fund for his farm in the mid-2000s. He only paid P4 million of it. The COA also noted that Acef was inefficient and questioned why certain companies that did not remit were still given a chance to borrow millions of pesos. In its 2010 report, the COA said five proponents with Acef loans of P72.245 million were given additional loans of P35.659 million for the same project, even if previous loans were not yet paid. Gemsum Marketing The companies were identified by CAA as C and L Farms, Hi-Las Marketing Corp., Moraleda Farms, Queen’s Agro-Industrial Farms Inc. and Gemsum Marketing. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. There were 46 proponents who got loans from 2000 to 2008 but “have not paid a single installment,” the agriculture department said.

Their loans from Acef totaled P802.95 million. Baler-Casiguran road Senator Edgardo Angara, a former agriculture secretary who authored the law that established the Acef, has been identified as one of the beneficiaries. Angara’s home province Aurora received P300 million from the fund, according to an audit by the agriculture department. Angara was cited by two sources as the one who recommended projects to the Acef committee. The audit by the agriculture department found out that Aurora, Angara’s home province, benefited from two grants. In 2008, the local government of Aurora received P200 million for the concreting of the Baler-Casiguran Highway. Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said the Baler-Casiguran Road was built to serve Angara’s Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport project. In 2007, Aurora State University received P100 million for a project called Enhancement of Technology-Based Agribusiness Industry. In a phone interview, Angara said he could not recall recommending the grant of P200 million for the concreting of the Baler-Casiguran road. “Who is the source of that report? I do not recall … Why would they even use the word competitiveness for that? And why would I recommend it,” he told the Inquirer Tuesday night.

Angara said it was more likely that the P200 million came from his pork barrel. “And if it indeed came from my pork barrel, that would not be considered irregular since it came from my (


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