Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Temperature in Metro Manila

The temperature in Metro Manila sizzled at 34.4 degrees Celsius on Tuesday, the hottest so far this year, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Administration (PAGASA) said.

Maralyn Medina, chief meteorological officer at the Science Garden in Quezon City, said that Metro Manila recorded 34.4 degrees Celsius temperature at around 4:10 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, the hottest so far this year in the metropolis.

She added that at 2:00 p.m. the temperature was recorded at 33.8 degrees Celsius.

"Nagtaka kami kasi dapat pagdating ng 3 or 4 p.m. onwards baba na yun temperature kasi ang peak na mainit is between 12 noon up to 2 p.m. but tumaas pagdating ng 4 p.m.," Medina said in a phone interview.

But she added that the agency is still not announcing the official start of summer since there are many factors to consider.

Medina said that the coldest temperature was recorded at 18.1 degrees Celsius last Jan. 24, 2013 at 6:00 a.m. due to the northeast monsoon.

In another interview, weather forecaster Ricky Fabregas said the hot days might be cut short by the return of the "amihan" or the northeast monsoon or the tail end of the cold front in the coming days.

Fabregas said they have not yet declared summer in the country since the four criteria have yet to be met.

According to PAGASA, the summer season commences when the amihan is no longer present; when a high-pressure area or anti-cyclone is present; temperatures are on the rise; and the easterlies or warm air from the Pacific Ocean prevail.

Fabregas said that although the afternoons are hot, there is still a high chance for localized rains.

In its 5:00 p.m. advisory, PAGASA said the easterlies are still affecting the eastern section of the country, and the whole country will be partly cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms.

Moderate to strong winds blowing from the east to southeast will prevail over the northern and eastern sections of Northern Luzon, and from the east over the eastern sections of Central and Southern Luzon and Visayas. The coastal waters along these areas will be moderate to rough.

Filipinos in evacuation centers in Felda Sahabat in Lahad Datu

Malaysia has allowed a Philippine consular team access to some 500 Filipinos in evacuation centers in Felda Sahabat in Lahad Datu.

The Filipinos have been affected by skirmishes between Malysian forces and followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III who are pressing historical claim over Sabah.

This is the first time that Philippine officials were allowed access to distressed Filipinos since fighting erupted in Sabah as Kiram's men refused to stand down until Malaysia agrees to discuss their claim on Sabah.

Malaysian forces continued to hunt down the Filipinos they regard as intruders and vowed to push for an all-out offensive.

Scores have been arrested and at least two dozen of the Filipino fighters were reported killed in the attacks.

"Our embassy officials in Kuala Lumpur have confirmed that the augmentation team of the Department of Foreign Affairs was able to visit yesterday the Filipinos currently staying in evacuation centers in Felda Sahabat," Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez told a press briefing.

Hernandez said the Philippine team found that the needs of Filipino evacuees are being "appropriately addressed."

"They were able to look at and meet the Filipinos there and they have confirmed they have adequate food and also that they are also being extended medical assistance," Hernandez said.

The evacuees came from the villages in Lahad Datu, where Kiram's forces had been holed up for more than two weeks until Malaysia's offensive sent them running to neighboring towns like Semporna.

Hernandez said the Filipinos, along with other Sabah residents, were asked to leave so they would not be further affected by the conflict.

On alleged human rights violations committed by Malaysian security forces against Filipinos in Sabah, Hernandez said Malaysia has yet to officially clarify such reports.

Malaysia's Defense Ministry quickly denied that such atrocities were committed on Filipino civilians, particularly those who are undocumented.

Despite this, Hernandez said the Philippine government will continue to verify the allegations which appeared in the media last weekend.

"We will still have to undertake the process of documentation, validation as regards to the people who have already left Lahad Datu and who are now in Mindanao. We will have to get more information and hopefully we will be able to confirm all these stories and reports," he said.

Efforts by Manila to end the violence in Sabah are continuing, discussing possible "disengagement" of Kiram's men in Sabah to end the month-long violence.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has already conveyed a message to the Malaysian side regarding the issue of disengagement, Hernandez said.

KABISIG Philippine Government Expo and Trade Fair 2013

President Benigno S. Aquino III encouraged all government agencies and instrumentalities to extend their support and participate in the "KABISIG Philippine Government Expo and Trade Fair 2013.″

The KABISIG People's Movement (KABISIG) Program was created by virtue of Proclamation No. 650 (s. 1990) to facilitate, coordinate and monitor the implementation of government programs and projects, as well as to provide linkages between and among the private sector groups and the government agencies.

In pursuit of the mandate, KABISIG is conducting the "KABISIG Philippine Government Expo and Trade Fair 2013″ which has for its theme "Kaalaman ng Mamamayan: Kabalikat sa Matuwid na Daan."

The project aims to bring together in one venue all government agencies and instrumentalities, including Government-Owned or Controlled Corporations and Local Government Units (LGUs), to feature their profiles, service facilities, programs, projects, products and accomplishments.

It is also an opportunity that will allow the government to promote public awareness and participation in national development.

"In this regard, all heads of departments, agencies and instrumentalities of the national government, including GOCCs and LGUs, are hereby encouraged to extend support and participate in the said expo and trade fair, subject to the availability of funds and usual accounting and auditing rules," the President said.

Philippine stock market declined for second day

Philippine stock market declined for a second day after surging to a new record high last week, giving up 27.53 points closing at below 6,800 level on Tuesday, on expected correction and lack of news to lift the market.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) fell 0.40 percent to 6,786.42 from Monday's 6,813.95 finish.

The broader All Shares index also shed 17.14 points or 0.40 percent to 4,217.74.

Metrobank, in its research note, said the equities market would keep an eye on the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas' policy meeting set this Thursday.

It said that news flows due out for the week include the United States retail sales, jobless claims and consumer price index.

All counters were in negative territory, with the downtrend led by mining and oil sector that lost 373.40 points or 1.70 percent.

The sub-indices of other sectors fell moderately, except for industrials sector that rose 18.62 points or 0.19 percent.

A total of two billion shares changed hands worth P18.24 billion.

Decliners won advancers, 106 to 52, while 50 issues were unchanged.

Most actively traded stocks were SM Investments Corporation, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, Alliance Global Group, Inc., Ayala Corporation and Ayala Land, Inc.

NBI to Arrest Kiram Family

The National Bureau of Investigation Tuesday issued subpoenas to five members of the Kiram family in connection with the standoff in Sabah, Malaysia.

Summoned by the NBI are Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, Princess Jacel Kiram, Esmail Kiram, Fatima Cecilia Kiram and Abraham Idjirani.

The Kiram family members were ordered to appear before the NBI's Anti-Organized Crime Division on Friday, March 15, 2013 at 10 a.m.

The NBI earlier issued subpoenas to Pastor Boy Saycon, the alleged adviser of the Sultanate of Sulu, former National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales and Moro National Liberation Front founding chair and erstwhile Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Nurallaji "Nur" Misuari.

The NBI aims to place under questioning the former ARMM governor pertaining to the investigation being conducted by the government.

It was learned Misuari was on

Balikatan Exercise 2013

The Armed Forces of the Philippines Tuesday said maritime table-top exercises will highlight the 13-day "Balikatan Exercise 2013" starting April 5.

The multi-national maritime TTX aims to determine specific humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in high-traffic international waters, and build response confidence among partners.

This is among the several activities which will be conducted during "Balikatan Exercise 2013".

The 29th of its series, the activity will be participated in by more than 8,000 members of the AFP and US military.

It will also enjoin personnel and representatives from other partner nations in the region.

Aside from the multinational maritime TTX, members of the Philippine and US armed forces will also undertake joint humanitarian assistance projects in communities in Zambales.

Preliminary work on community infrastructure projects will begin mid-March, Philippine military officials said.

Military medical personnel will offer free medical, dental and veterinary care.

In selected communities, military engineers will construct and repair schools and other infrastructure.

Additionally, Armed Forces personnel from both countries will conduct combined staff exercises and field training in Camp O'Donnell, Crow Valley, Subic Bay and Fort Magsaysay to improve inter-operability and contingency planning.

This year's "Balikatan" is the fourth HA/DR focused bilateral exercise, the 1st in 2008, the 2nd in 2010, and the third last year.

The annual military exercise is a combined joint military exercise based on the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.

This is conducted every year to serve as a venue for joint and combined training between the Philippine and United States militaries.

The exercise is designed to enhance the AFP and the US military in capability development in the conduct of both traditional military training and civil military projects focusing on reaching out towards communities that need priority.

The HA/DR-focused "Balikatan 2013" seeks to address previous disaster situations that occurred recently in the Philippines with the objectives of supporting the Government with the development of regional disaster management and emergency response mechanisms.

It is also aimed at testing and validating the PH-US military HA/DR concept of operations in a multinational and multi-organizational exercise.

Extension of Saudi Arabian government deadline

Sen. Francis Escudero is supporting efforts to seek an extension of the Saudi Arabian government deadline which falls Tuesday, March 12, for the payment of the P44 million blood money to save overseas Filipino worker Joselito Zapanta from execution.

Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, said saving the life of one Filipino should involve the combined efforts of all Filipinos of whatever persuasion or political leaning.

"I am enjoining the public to heed the government's call for prayers and active contribution to raise the P44 million blood money for the liberty of Zapanta," Escudero said.

He made the appeal after the government said it was having difficulty in raising the substantial amount despite the two previous extensions granted by the Saudi government and the family of the Sudanese killed by Zapanta in 2009.

The government has also been negotiating for the reduction of the blood money aside from negotiations for the extension of the payment deadline.

Escudero also stressed the need for a long-term solution that would make working abroad a career choice and not a livelihood necessity for Filipinos.

The Aquino administration's efforts to raise the number and quality of available jobs should continue in line with President Benigno Aquino III's goal of inclusive growth, according to Escudero.

"The Aquino administration had taken the correct step in giving priority to eradicating corruption in government to improve the image of the country for investors," he said.

Last Monday, Vice President Jejomar Binay said the Philippine government is exerting all efforts to push back the deadline for the blood money payment of Zapanta.

Exposing largest Philippine urban hub to flooding

An expert warned Metro Manila will further sink from continuous groundwater extraction that's being done to meet demand of the ballooning population here, increasingly exposing this largest Philippine urban hub to flooding and other hazards.

"Metro Manila's groundwater demand continues rising as more people live here so subsidence will worsen," noted Filipino geologist and University of Illinois at Chicago Professor Emeritus Dr. Kevin Rodolfo, referring to sinking of land over time due to excessive groundwater withdrawal that leaves soil particles compact.

He noted latest available data already show onslaught of subsidence in various parts of Metro Manila as well as adjacent Bulacan, Cavite and Laguna provinces already.

Dr. Rodolfo warned such occurrence is raising the areas'vulnerability to sea level rise (SLR), which experts identified as one impact of climate change, as well as to salt water intrusion and flooding.

Subsidence, storm surges and liquefaction are the three reasons Dr. Rodolfo cited in opposing Manila Gold Coast Development Corporation's proposal to reclaim part of Manila Bay for mixed-use purposes.

Citing a study he and his colleagues conducted, Dr. Rodolfo reported data show subsidence-plagued Metro Manila areas include Pateros municipality as well as Valenzuela, Caloocan, Malabon, Manila, Taguig, Las Pinas and Muntinlupa cities.

"Navotas City is below seal level already," he warned.

He said subsidence is also gripping Bulacan province's Malolos City as well as Guiguinto, Marilao and Obando municipalities; Kawit and Dasmarinas municipalities in Cavite province and Laguna province's San Pedro-Binan area.

"Land's sinking as more water is being extracted and used - more population creates need for more water," Dr. Rodolfo noted.

Bulacan, Cavite and Laguna provinces are adjacent to Metro Manila and host this urban hub's spill-over population.

Dr. Rodolfo reported magnitude of subsidence in some parts of Metro Manila even hit nearly 1.5 meters with the areas sinking at a rate of around 6.1mm/year.

He isn't surprised, however, noting groundwater extraction in Metro Manila and surroundings rose and exceeded the 20 million liters per day (MLD) volume withdrawn in the 1930s.

"Groundwater extraction back then wasn't very much but this increased to some 250 MLD in the 1980s, 778 MLD in the 1990s and 1,770 MLD in 2004," he said.

Available data placed Metro Manila's average groundwater recharge as of 1990 at around 564 MLD representing rate at which the liquid's replenished daily, Dr. Rodolfo continued.

"As early as the 1970s, however, groundwater was already being extracted at a rate faster than what nature can provide," he noted.

Developing Philippine Coconut Industry

President Benigno S. Aquino III vowed to further develop the country's coconut industry now that it has become one of the country's best economic assets given the great demand by other countries of its various byproducts.

In his speech during his meeting with local leaders and the community here Monday, President Aquino said his administration will continue to look for more economic opportunities for the province of Quezon especially on its thriving coconut industry.

"Kung dati sadyang binabalewala ang potensyal ng inyong probinsya, ngayon talagang binibigyang-lakas natin ang inyong mga industriya upang ang bawat taga-Quezon ay kayang makamit anuman ang kanyang mga pangarap sa buhay," he said.

Prior to his visit in Catanauan Central Elementary School where Team PNoy also held one of its campaign sorties in Quezon, President Aquino toured a coconut water plantation operated by Peter Paul Philippine Corporation's in Candelaria.

According to the President, PPPC at present does not only provide jobs for more than 2,000 people but also gives tremendous support to the livelihood of about 2,500 coconut farmers which only underscores the great economic potential behind the coconut industry.

President Aquino noted that in 2009, only 484,000 liters were being exported by our country whereas, in 2010, it increased to as much 1.81 million liters and was even pegged at 16 million liters as of 2011.

"Ano po ang naging susi dito? Pinag-aralan natin kung ano ang lakas ng inyong lalawigan at wala tayong sinayang na panahon upang ang pakinabang ng industriya ng pagniniyog ay umabot sa mga taga-Quezon," the President added.

President Aquino also mentioned that the demand was also great for coco coir fiber especially from countries like Japan, China, Germany, and the United States, among others, since it is now being used to prevent soil erosion.

"Tayo na po mismo ang naubusan ng coco coir. Baka gusto niyo hong paramihin pa ang ating puno ng niyog para matakpan ang kakulangan nito. Hudyat po itong dapat pa talaga nating palaguin ang ating industriya ng niyog," President Aquino said.

Aquino also rolled out several infrastructure and irrigation projects in Quezon including an 82-million peso budget already earmarked to supply water for some 1,100 hectares of rice fields in the towns of Burdeos, Polillo, Infanta, Tiaong, Pagbilao, Tayabas, Mauban, Perez, San Francisco, Ginayangan, and Lucena.

The President told the residents of Quezon Province that the almost P15-billion saved by the Department of Public Works and Highways from its budget will be used to fund more road projects in their locality.

These include the eight-kilometer Lucena diversion Talao-Talao port road project, the 16 farm-to-market road projects in Calauag, Gumaca, and Tagkawayan, and the 60-kilometer South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) extension project from Batangas to Lucena, that aim to cut travel time for motorists, tourists, and delivery of goods.

P10 billion to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)

The government will infuse another P10 billion to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) this year enabling it to pay in full the central bank's P50 billion capitalization .

"We'll infuse P10 billion by year-end…And we'll infuse additional if needed," Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima told reporters at the sidelines of the Euromoney forum in Makati City Tuesday.

Under the New Central Bank Act of 1993, the national government is mandated to give the BSP P50 billion capitalization, P10 billion of which was given in 1996.

In 2011, the government gave the BSP another P10 billion while P20 billion was infused last year.

Last year, the central bank incurred a net loss of P86.31 billion due in part to its foreign exchange operations wherein it buys dollars to address volatility of the exchange rate.

Relatively, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco Jr., in a separate interview at the sidelines of the same forum, said monetary officials are studying the need to increase BSP's capitalization.

"It will be part of the review of the existing provisions and the formulation of the proposed amendments that we'll be presenting to congress when ot convenes July," he said.

The central bank chief said the domestic economy has expanded and its requirements has increased compared to when the P50 billion capitalization was set about two decades ago.

Trade and Business Between Philippines and Vietnam

As a neighbor of the Philippines that shares ASEAN membership, Vietnam attaches much importance to nurturing multi-faceted cooperation with the Philippines for mutual interest and the development of both countries, said Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in Hanoi on Monday.

Dung made the statement at his reception of the Philippines' Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales during her visit to Vietnam.

The Party and State of Vietnam attach importance to the prevention and fight against corruption, a constant struggle that needs synchronous, drastic and long-term measures to increase the transparency of Government procedures and uphold the punishment of offences, said the Vietnamese leader.

He also said that Vietnam hopes to learn from the anti- corruption experience of countries across the world, including the Philippines.

Regarding cooperation between the two inspectorates, Dung affirmed his support for the Philippines' Office of Ombudsman and Vietnam's Government Inspectorate.

Morales briefed the Vietnamese leader on outcomes of her talks with her Vietnamese counterpart, Inspector General Huynh Phong Tranh, saying the newly-signed memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the two sides is a firm foundation for friendly cooperation between the two agencies.

Don't use 4Ps for election campaign period

President Benigno Aquino III warned political candidates for the May 2013 election against using the "Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program" (4Ps) to force people to vote for them.

"Ang gusto natin diretso sa tao ang serbisyo ng gobyerno. Kaya ngayong papalapit na ang halalan, at ito po'y narinig ko na naman -- sa Iloilo po'y may nagreklamo sa atin, dito sa Quezon may narinig na naman tayong ganito -- kung may mga nagsasabi pong pulitiko sa inyo na matatanggalan kayo ng rehistro sa Pantawid Pamilya kapag hindi ninyo sila binoto, ako na mismo ang nagsasabi sa inyo: Hindi sila mananaig," the President said on Monday during his meeting with local leaders and the community held at the Gumaca National High School, in Barangay Mabini, here.

"Dadaan po muna sila (politicians) sa atin. Huwag nilang sabihin na matatanggal kayo sa pagkarehistro dahil sila po ang tatanggalin natin sa pwesto," he added.

The President said the Pantawid Pamilya program was legal, and that its beneficiaries -- totaling more than 3.8 million households -- were carefully screened based on standard set by the government.

"(Ang) Pantawid Pamilya hindi naman po hokus pokus 'yung pagrehistro diyan. May national household targeting survey. May mga criteria para masali. May mga katangian para maisama ka sa proyektong yan. Pinag-aralan ng DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development), (na siyang) namamahala pati po sa pagbibigay ng biyaya ng mga miyembro ng 4Ps," he noted.

"Sa katunayan, ang mga benepisyaryong kabahayan pong kabilang po sa ating Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program sa buong bansa mula nitong katapusan ng Pebrero ay umabot na sa mahigit 3.8 million households ang bilang. Mahigit 91,302 sa bilang na ito ang mga pamilyang mula sa Quezon," he added.

President Aquino said the Filipino people will decide this May if they want these kind of leader to rule in their area.

"Dapat ba nating ihalal ang mga taong para mabalik sa pwesto, mananakot sa mga pinaka-nangangailangan? Aba, ang poder ho nasa taongbayan, huwag nating kakalimutan. Kung kaya kayong takutin habang nangangampanya, paano kaya kung nakaupo na?" he said.