Gov't to promote foreign investments in agriculture sector

Gov’t to promote foreign investments in agriculture sector” by MELODY M. AGUIBA

The government may take a strong policy of aggressively promoting foreign investments even as it is set to hold in February a long-term visioning to make agriculture a top investment priority until year 2025.

The Congressional Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization (COCAFM) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) are set to host on Feb. 10 and 11 a planning session called “Agriculture and Fisheries 2025: Shared Vision, Shared Journey.”

This aims to make the sector a vehicle toward economic growth.

“It’s a golden opportunity to discuss where we want to be in 15 years. We’ll be bringing 100 plus of key players in agriculture — 60 percent from the private sector, 30 from the government, and 10 percent from the academe,” said Sen. Francis N. Pangilinan in a press briefing.

Stressing that “no developed country has become a first world country without developing its agriculture sector,” Pangilinan said the government should try “new approaches” in order to solve the country’s food security problems.

Read more at the Manila Bulletin

Palace is satisfied with latest transparency international result

This one from the Inquirer:

TI ranked the Philippines this year at 134th from last year’s 139th in the transparency and good governance index.

“We’re just four months old, Mia, and the fact that we improved in the ranking says something about our determination to promote good governance,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in response to a reporter’s question during a news briefing on Wednesday.

“We’ll continue to do our part in the promotion of good governance,” he added.

You can find a PDF of the report, here.

Are you satisfied with this report given that the Administration is only 4 months old?

On Noynoy is repeating his mother's mistake

Torn and Frayed in Manila wrote an interesting piece, “Noynoy is repeating his mother’s mistake.”

A house divided against itself cannot stand
It’s early days and Noynoy, who has very little management experience to my knowledge, is presumably learning from these bruising battles. Let’s hope so because the country needs the son to be a better team leader than his mother was.

He has to be tougher than her, to squash the squabbling between his associates, and to be ruthless when needed. Unlike Cory, who, in the words of Joel Rocamora, “allowed her brother to sabotage the reform process by recruiting KBL and other unsavory trapo (traditional politician) types” into the ruling party, Noynoy has to end the perceptions of cronyism that the recent headlines about Puno have generated. If not, he will spend the next 6 years looking inward instead of focusing on the many problems and opportunities he was elected to address.

Three things:

1. It is almost universally accepted that Aquino is sincere in his promise— 70 percent trust rating and an electoral mandate better than Erap Estrada has it going for him.

2. There have been numerous quiet success stories in the past 100 days. PAGASA is just one of many. The organs of the government are working, where only a year ago during Ondoy, was one freaking mess. So things are moving along, sometimes too slow— but you have this sense that somethings are changing. So, so far, the nation is improving.

3. The IIRC report really is a sore thumb. It is obvious to anyone who reads it— that heavy charges needed to be filed against Alfredo Lim and other officers of the government. The IIRC report glaringly was mute with regard to Puno— yet there are reasonable questions that persist. As the President’s appointed representative to the hostage taking crisis, why didn’t he

a) advice the president to take it to the national level,

b) why didn’t he ensure that the President’s order was not carried out?

The sore thumb really isn’t that one thinks Lim or Puno are innocent. The sore thumb really is that they should have been charged and let the courts decide on the merit of the case. Let them defend themselves in court as they have the right to do so, and we the people— and the dead have a right to justice. Hence, the perception of a whitewash or favoritism because a) it took so long to come out with the report and b) there seem to be universal disgust with Puno’s government service.

It is the President’s prerogative to appoint his officers. The argument that he shouldn’t appoint his friends, is a gray area, at best. We appoint our friends and allies to positions of power because it is the natural human thing. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t the wisest course of action. That doesn’t mean that we glaringly turn our back on incompetence. That doesn’t mean that we do not look into the capability of the candidate if he or she is the right one for the job.

The President should either remove Puno from the DILG or bring him somewhere else— Presidential adviser on something because it is quite obvious he wasn’t up to the task.

Alfredo Lim ought to be charged properly in court for his role in the botched hostage taking. What’s certain too is that his brand of leadership is at an end. He ought to be given the right to defend himself in court.

The lackluster charges filed against Lim, and other officials of the government gives the people the license to doubt and be disappointed, which is such waste for a man of his many years in government service. Mister President, it is such a waste of political capital to be defending Lim and Puno,, because this nation will need your political capital to fight the more important battles— fiscal situation, reproductive health, freedom of information, corruption and many more.

So far the nation is improving and given the state of the nation, those results do matter. Just the lives saved during Juan’s visit is an achievement worth remembering and worth building upon, but there is creeping doubt and disappointment is on the prowl.

(Photo by: Ryan Lim / Malacañang Photo Bureau) via

What insights we can learn from Coca-Cola to help in Reproductive Health

Melinda French Gates

This is a great talk from Melinda French Gates.

Melinda French Gates talked about what can governments and NGOs learn from Coca-Cola– especially in the context of delivering health care and for Filipinos, it might let us know some insights for our own reproductive health program.

Three things she said makes Coca-Cola successful:

  • Real-time data and immediately use it to measure progress
  • Great at tap local entrepreneurs – micro distribution
  • Marketing

Lastly, she said, “If we really understand what people want in health and development, we can change communities and help change nations.”

How do we adapt those three things for health care?

BSAIII action plan on job generation

Job Generation

Action Plan on Job Generation

We will increase investments to provide quality jobs for Filipinos by lowering the costs of doing business in our country.

  • We will level the playing field for businesses. We will encourage free and fair competition in a level playing field that stresses that one need not be a crony in order to be successful in this country. We will make our bidding and procurement policies and processes more transparent, and punish those who seek to circumvent procurement laws through collusion and other illegal means.
  • We will have easier, streamlined business procedures. We will transform our systems to foster service to the public. We will streamline the approval process, not only for setting up new businesses but also in the regular day-to-day transactions with government, such as the payment of taxes. We will do this on a national as well as the local level.

We will strategically target assistance to small and medium enterprises, and key industries where we have a competitive advantage to maximize our potential for job generation.

  • We will support small and medium enterprises. SMEs are the main generators of jobs in the country. But they lack access to credit and finance. They also need access to markets and to technology so that they can connect to the global economy. An Aquino government will not only encourage microfinance and small business loans, which was a cause supported by former President Corazon Aquino, but will also harness the remittances of our overseas workers by creating financial instruments that can attract remittances and be channeled to the rural sector. For market and technology access, we will encourage the private sector to link up with local firms, using information exchange, by giving the private sector the appropriate incentives.
  • We will directly target industries with the greatest potential for growth and where the Philippines has a competitive advantage, industries that have already been identified by domestic and foreign business groups and include agribusiness, business process outsourcing, creative industries, infrastructure, manufacturing and logistics, socially-responsible mining and tourism and retirement.

We will invest in our country’s top resource, our human resource, to make us more competitive and employable.

  • We will overhaul basic education by having universal pre-schooling and strengthening our basic education system to a 12-year cycle. For students who want to work after high school, we will strengthen technical-vocational education to provide them with needed skills.
  • We will solve the labor-mismatch problem by promoting better coordination between employers, academia and government, including through strengthening both public (e.g. Public Employment Service Offices -PESO) and private sector labor market information and exchange institutions, especially at the local levels.

[Archived from the official campaign web site of President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III]

GMA urges all sectors to unite

GMA urges all sectors to unite
By Marvin Sy
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – In her last Easter message as President and with barely three months left before the end of her term, President Arroyo has called on Filipinos to unite for the country’s future.

“Let us unite as one nation,” Mrs. Arroyo said in her Easter message released yesterday.

Unlike in previous years when the President delivered her Easter message from Baguio City where she and her family would spend the Holy Week, Mrs. Arroyo this time had to do all her work at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City where her husband, First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, is confined due to a heart ailment.

It has been 10 days since the First Gentleman was brought to the hospital after complaining of back pains.

His doctors revealed that a new tear has developed in his aorta near the area that was surgically repaired in 2007.

“As we celebrate Easter Sunday, we must reflect on the message in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. May this wonderful story of our Lord’s triumph over death inspire us again with the endless verities of our faith,” the President said.

“Easter Sunday is an occasion to celebrate redemption, restoration and renewal. When our Lord suffered and made the supreme sacrifice of giving His life for us in the dark hours of Good Friday, He also brought forth our salvation and the possibility of our rebirth to life eternal by vanquishing death when He rose from the grave three days later,” she added.

The President said she would continue to work on her administration’s development programs such as infrastructure projects and social services until the end of her term on June 30.

Mrs. Arroyo again insisted that she would step down as scheduled and appealed to her successor to continue working on the gains that her administration has achieved over the past nine years.

“As we remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ in our hearts today, let us unite as one nation and collectively work toward a new future for our country – a future rich with hope and possibilities for every one of us, a future illuminated by the blessing of the Lord,” she said.

The President is expected to go to her hometown in Lubao, Pampanga tomorrow as part of her birthday celebration.

Mrs. Arroyo, who is turning 63 tomorrow, is running for congresswoman in the second district of Pampanga in the May 10 elections.

Rise from Calvary

Liberal Party (LP) presidential candidate Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, for his part, called on Filipinos to pray and strive hard to help the country “rise from its Calvary.”

Calvary, the place where Jesus Christ was crucified, symbolizes extreme suffering.

“His sacrifice and love serve as the guide for all of us, that we may all live not only for ourselves but also for others,” Aquino said.

Aquino said Jesus Christ’s example should drive Filipinos to face their difficulties with compassion and dignity.

“Let us all pray to our Lord God for Him to bless our beloved Philippines so that we will finally be able to achieve our much-hoped redemption from corruption and poverty,” he said.

“Poverty has been the bitter and heavy burden of our people. Poverty has been the long-time Calvary of Juan de la Cruz. But this is one huge problem that no single Juan can solve,” he said.

“As His followers, we have the duty to look after each other’s welfare. This is also what drove us to continue the fight for true democracy. We need hope and reforms. We need an honest and good government. We should all pray and seek God’s blessings for Him to bring light to the path for change,” he added.

For his part, Aquino’s running mate, Sen. Manuel Roxas II, said, “May we remember the events in Christ’s life, and strive to follow His example of sacrifice and compassion for His fellowman,”

Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. also called on Filipinos to unite and work hard and persevere in working for the country’s progress.

“Easter is a season of hope, change, and rebirth. As we celebrate it, let us continue to hope for a better future for our countrymen. Let us pursue genuine change through our fight against poverty,” Villar said.

His running mate, Sen. Loren Legarda, urged her fellow candidates to fulfill the desire of voters to have officials who will improve their lives and not enrich themselves while in office.

In a statement, Legarda said public officials should emulate the teachings of Jesus Christ and “give their citizens renewed hope in their political outlook, though skeptics and cynics may try to virtually crucify them for their efforts.”

Legarda said all candidates should give new meaning and relevance to resurrection and rebirth as the central theme of Easter Sunday.

“Candidates know this – that voters, especially the poor majority, look up to them as saviors that would lead them to a better life,” she said.

“The dishonest take advantage of this just to get elected and then use their office to enrich themselves. On the other hand, the honest public servants use their office to try to improve their constituents’ lives,” she added.

“Together, let us strive for the rebirth of a Philippines that is progressive, strong, and free from corruption. Let us chart this nation’s destiny through hard work, perseverance, and unity,” she said.

Vice President Noli de Castro, meanwhile, expressed hope for a peaceful and orderly transition of power in June.

“Let us use the grace of Easter to prepare for the forthcoming May 2010 elections and for the transition in the national leadership at the end of June of this year,” De Castro said.

“Let us trust that the resurrected Christ will bless our nation as we prepare to begin a new chapter in our history and as the torch of national leadership passes from the old to the new,” he said.

He added that Christ’s resurrection brings with it the fulfillment of the biblical promise of new life and new beginnings where “old things have passed away and the new has come.”

De Castro also urged the people and the candidates to help work for the success of the country’s first automated elections.

“Let us urge those running in the 2010 elections to give the highest respect to the electoral process, knowing fully that this democratic exercise is an expression and reflection of the voice of the God of a new beginning resounding through the voice of men,” he said. – With Aurea Calica and Pia Lee-Brago

UN body calls for conversion of NBN4 into public broadcast system

UN body calls for conversion of NBN4 into public broadcast system
VERA Files

THE United Nations Educations, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) National Commission of the Philippines (UNACOM) came up with a 16-point policy recommendation for  presidential and vice-presidential candidates in the 2010 elections that included the conversion of government media network into a public broadcasting system that would serve the people rather than the government.

UNACOM said, “In the current setup, government stance is prioritized over the information needs of public and sectoral interest groups whose input and partnership are needed to sustain national welfare.”

“The new administration should study re-engineering the current ‘monolithic’ government broadcasting system and adopt the community-based concept,” said UNACOM, which monitors the roles of education, science and culture for the UN.

The proposals, which aim to “reduce the gap between what is and what should be”, were divided into three major concerns: Environment, Human Resources, and Cultural Framework for Sustainable Development.

Other recommendations include climate change and coastal management, freedom of information policy, promotion of conduct becoming a Filipino.

The signatories  were chairpersons Vilma Labrador, Committee for Education; Mel Velarde, Committee for Science and Technology; Felice Sta.marica-Pridente, Committee for Social and Human Sciences Committee; Carmen  Padilla, Committee for Culture; Florangel Rosario-Braid, Committee for Communication;  and Preciosa Soliven, secretary-general.

They appealed to the candidates to “set the example for positive transformation.”

“Anchor your action on a knowledge-based society that values learning throughout a lifetime. Anchor your action on the promotion of a Philippine culture that is a lasting legacy of excellence and nobleness in all we make and in all we do,” they said.