PH as world’s biggest rice importer concerns Malacañang

Marje Pelayo   •   November 12, 2019   •   257

Filipino port workers unload sacks of rice, which are imported from Vietnam to be distributed by the National Food Authority (NFA), inside a ship docked at Surigao port, Mindanao, southern Philippines. EPA-EFE/ALLANAH TORRALBA (FILE)

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang does not deny being concerned about recent reports that the Philippines is currently the world’s top rice importer.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, such report may be true but the government is making sure that the Department of Agriculture (DA) is on top of the situation.

“Ginagawa naman ni Secretary Dar ang kaniyang mga pamamaraan (Secretary Dar is finding ways) to solve whatever problems confronting the farmers,” Panelo said.

The report published by the United States’ Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Services (USDA-FAS) projected the Philippines rice importation to reach a record high by year-end – about 3 million metric tons – the highest in the world and the country’s highest ever recorded.

This projection is way higher than China, the biggest rice importer so far at 2.5 million metric tons by year-end.

Malacañang, meanwhile, blames the country’s lack of irrigation as the main reason for the increase in rice importation. – MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte paving the way for allies into the water industry? Nonsense! – Malacañang

Marje Pelayo   •   December 12, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang vehemently denied alleged reason behind President Rodrigo Duterte’s rants against water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water.

Reports alleged that the Chief Executive is making a move to place his allies into the water industry.

“That’s nonsense. Si Presidente pa, walang ally-ally kay Presidente (That’s nonsense. Knowing the President, he doesn’t care for allies),” said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

The President earlier warned to file charges of economic sabotage against the two firms and their cohorts who were behind what he calls as onerous water concession agreements.

Such was his reaction after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore favored the water concessionaires against the government, ordering it to pay billions for not approving water rate increase under the previous administration.

The Palace scrutinized what seemed to be ‘unfair’ provisions of the water concession agreement including allegations that the government was giving the water concessionaires a cold shoulder and the intent to extend the agreement up to 2037 even prior to the contract’s expiration.

Malacañang opened the idea of a possible government take over only to ensure that water distribution service would not be cut in case none in the private sector intends to handle it.

“Initially government muna then most likely after that there will be biddings for a private company to take over,” Panelo said.

It was in 1997 when the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) signed water concession contracts with Manila Water Services Inc. and Maynilad.

It was a decision made after the government-owned facility delivered poor services and only a few investors were willing to invest their billions in improving the facility’s services which, Manila Water and Maynilad accepted through a bidding. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

PH, Japan meet tackle closer cooperation on key infrastructure projects

Robie de Guzman   •   December 10, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and Japan both agreed to strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries in implementing key infrastructure projects under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a statement, the Department of Finance (DOF) said that during the high-level meeting held in Hakone last Dec. 6, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Japan’s Hiroto Izumi, special advisor to Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, discussed Japan’s continued assistance for the Philippines’ infrastructure projects.

The two sides also expressed readiness to sign the JPY4.409 billion supplemental loan agreement for the Metro Manila Priority Seismic Bridge Improvement Project in the coming months.

During the meeting, the two officials signed the memorandum of cooperation (MOC) signifying the latter’s commitment to provide technical support to the Duterte administration’s formulation of a regional development master plan designed to maximize the economic potentials of the Subic Bay and its surrounding areas.

In November, the DOF said that Japan have committed to support the masterplan which includes the development of possible projects that will help boost economy in the Subic Bay area.

Japan also committed to extend additional technical assistance that are critical to the Philippines’ campaign to bridge the infrastructure financing gap.

Both sides likewise confirmed to work towards the signing of the exchange of notes and the loan agreement for a supplemental loan to finance the ongoing Davao City Bypass Construction Project (DCBCP).

The two countries also committed to speed up the formulation of the Central Mindanao Highway Project (Cagayan de Oro-Malaybalay Section), as a candidate for Japanese official development assistance (ODA).

In addition, the DOF said that Japanese officials have expressed their intention to conduct pre-feasibility studies for four of the Philippines’ priority projects: the Cebu Circumferential Road, Second San Juanico Bridge and Access Road, Central Mindanao Highway (Cagayan de Oro-Malaybay Section), and Agusan del Norte-Butuan City Logistical Highway (4th Butuan Bridge.)

Japan also reiterated its intention to provide a loan for the Cebu-Mactan Bridge and Coastal Road Construction Project, as well as additional technical assistance to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) and the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Most Affected Areas (MAA) in Marawi City.

The two sides also discussed other loan financing arrangements for the Philippines as it transitions to Upper Middle-Income Country (UMIC) status ahead of schedule in 2020.

Palace says gov’t won’t pay damages to Manila Water, Maynilad

Robie de Guzman   •   December 5, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday insisted that the government will not pay any damages sought by the concessionaires, Maynilad and Manila Water, for the losses they incurred from the rejected petition for rate hikes.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the government will not comply with the arbitration court’s decisions as the concession agreements with Maynilad and Manila Water were onerous.

“Hindi, kasi nga onerous ang kontrata. Masyadong disadvantageous sa gobyerno,” Panelo said in an interview with radio station dzXL.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday threatened to file economic sabotage raps against the water concessionaires and other officials involved in the crafting of the deals following the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore’s order to pay Manila Water P7.4 billion, and Maynilad P3.6 billion about two years ago as compensation for losses or damages.

The two water firms separately took the government to court after the MWSS rejected their respective petitions to raise water rates a few years ago. The firms cited its concession deal which prohibits the government from setting water rates, and pushes for indemnification for possible losses in the event of such government interference.

Instead of paying indemnity, Panelo said the president has ordered for the drafting of new water concession deals with provisions that are advantageous to the public.

The presidential spokesman also said that the chief executive has already directed the Department of Justice to file appropriate charges against those behind the contracts which were signed in 1997.

READ: Manila Water to work closely with gov’t for ‘acceptable scheme’ on arbitral award

“The President has also directed the filing of the appropriate criminal, civil and administrative charges against all those involved in the said agreements including the latter’s owners and legal counsels, as well as agents and lawyers of the government for economic sabotage,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

REACH US

The Philippine Broadcast Hub

UNTV, 915 Barangay Philam,

EDSA, Quezon City M.M. 1104

(+632) 8396-8688 (Tel)

(+632) 8920.8336 (Fax)

info@untvweb.com (General inquiries)

support@untvweb.com

UNTV News and Rescue Emergency Hotlines:

LANDLINE (+632) 8396-8688

ADVERTISE WITH US

(+632) 8 442.6244 Loc. 143, 144, 162, 164

advertising@untvweb.com

ABOUT UNTV

UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.