DA to extend zero-interest loans to market vendors in Metro Manila

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 9, 2021   •   815

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Monday said it will extend zero-interest loans as operating capital to market vendors’ associations in Metro Manila public markets.

“This will enable them to buy pork carcasses directly from hog raisers and major agricultural commodities from farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs), and sell these at reasonable prices to consumers in Metro Manila,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.

He added that the initiative seeks to institutionalize mutual partnership between retailers and FCAs and create a win-win situation benefiting producers, retailers and consumers alike. 

Dar appealed for the meat vendors’ cooperation to ease up tight pork supply and temper high pork prices in Metro Manila.

Under the market vendors’ financing program, market vendors’ associations (MVAs) may avail of up to P5 million as working capital at zero-interest and payable in three to five years. AAC

Two-week ECQ resulted in over 26,000 displaced workers — DOLE

Marje Pelayo   •   April 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Over 26,000 workers have lost their jobs during the two-week implementation of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), according to the latest data from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Specifically, there were about 26,114 displaced workers in DOLE’s Job Displacement Monitoring Report from a total of 1,567 establishments within the areas covered by the NCR Plus (Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal) set by the government.

Of the said number of establishments, 1,389 reduced their workforce while 169 declared permanent closure.

The most number of displaced workers were recorded in Metro Manila where 778 establishments reduced their manpower and 69 declared permanent closure.

This resulted in the displacement of 15,246 workers in Metro Manila alone.

Region VIA (3,322); Region III (5,151); Region VII (3,638), and Region V (2,274) are among the regions with the highest number of displaced workers in the past two weeks.

The ECQ was imposed in NCR Plus initially from March 27 to April 4 but has been extended until April 11.

Manila Water announces extension of water interruption in several barangays in Metro Manila

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 12, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines—The Manila Water on Monday (April 12) announced that the water service interruption in several barangays in Metro Manila will be extended.

The extension of service interruption is due to difficult conditions on the site of Manila Water’s damaged mainline at EDSA/Boni Ave. northbound.

Affected barangays will have no water service from 5:00 in the afternoon of Monday until 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday (April 13) as the company completes its permanent repair of the breakage.

The 600-mm mainline was damaged on Sunday evening (April 11), which resulted in a water service interruption to more than 30 barangays in Mandaluyong, Pasig, San Juan, and Quezon City.

The breakage, the Manila Water reported, was caused by AWIN Technology, a third-party contractor doing CCTV network installation.

Affected barangays:

MANDALUYONG CITY (16):
Highway Hills
Barangka Ilaya
Barangka Itaas
Malamig
Addition Hills
Greenhills
Wack-Wack East Greenhills
Mauway
Barangka Drive
Barangka Ibaba
Pleasant Hills
Plainview
Hulo
Hagdang Bato Itaas
Hagdang Bato Libis
San Jose

SAN JUAN CITY (12):
Addition Hills
Corazon de Jesus
West Crame
Pasadena
Onse
Halo-Halo (St. Joseph)
Maytunas
Santa Lucia
St. Joseph
Isabelita
Little Baguio
Valencia

QUEZON CITY (6):
Kaunlaran
San Martin de Porres
Bagong Lipunan ng Crame
Pinagkaisahan
Horseshoe
Immaculate Concepcion

PASIG CITY (1):
Oranbo

“Customers in these areas are encouraged to store just enough water for their needs within the water interruption schedule. This will also help avoid crowding around water tankers,” the Manila Water said in an advisory.

“While we apologize for the inconvenience these have caused thousands of our customers, we are working non-stop to restore water service as soon as possible,” Manila Water’s Group Head for Corporate Strategic Affairs Jeric Sevilla said. -AAC

DA urged to prioritize eradication of ASF, extension of aid to hog farmers

Robie de Guzman   •   April 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Joel Villanueva on Monday called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) to “do everything in its power” to resolve the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak, and to prioritize the extension of aid to struggling local hog industry stakeholders.

“This food crisis is a local problem that must have a local solution. In order of priority, unahin po natin ang pagsugpo sa ASF at pagtulong sa mga magbababoy. Iyan ang tanong po natin sa DA ngayon. Ano po ang farm-level solutions nyo?” Villanueva said in Monday’s Senate hearing on the alleged “tongpats scheme” within the DA on imported pork.

Villanueva made the call as he expressed apprehension over President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 128 to temporarily lower the tariffs on pork imports to resolve the existing pork supply shortage and stabilize meat prices in the country.

“At hindi po ako naniniwala na ang solusyon sa krisis na ito ay mag-import ng karne. An imported virus is killing local pigs. We should not let too much imported pork finish off what is left of our hog industry. Our salvation cannot be found in foreign farms,” he said.

Villanueva said that the ASF outbreak has reduced the supply of local pork in the market and that he wants to know what the DA is doing to counter this scarcity that has been driving the prices of meat to unaffordable levels.

“Maliban sa pag-alis ng tariff walls, ano po ang farmgate interventions ng DA? The national swine inventory is down by 3 million heads. Piggeries have been emptied of one-fourth of their stocks. This 25-percent plunge in the livestock population translates to a 100-percent bankruptcy rate in many pig farms. Biyak na po pati kanilang piggy banks,” he said in a separate statement.

The senator noted that in Bulacan alone, the pork production inventory was already down by one-third last year while the hog production in the whole Central Luzon plunged to one-fourth in 2020.

“P8,000 po ang nawalang kita sa kada ulo ng baboy. Di hamak mas malaki po ito sa P1,000 na ayuda ng gobyerno kada ulo sa isang bahay,” he said.

Other senators have earlier called on Duterte to reconsider and recall EO 128 as this will only further burden local hog raisers who are already suffering from the negative impact of the ASF crisis.

Under EO 128, the tariff rate for imported pork meat within quota or minimum access volume will be pegged at 5 percent for the first three months of the order’s effectivity and 10 percent during the months four to 12.

For pork imports outside the quota, the order cuts the tariff to 15 percent during the first three months upon its effectivity, and 20 percent for the months four to 12.

The EO said that the current 30 percent to 40 percent tariff rate for imported pork will be restored after the 12th month.

“There is an urgent need to temporarily reduce the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) tariff rates on fresh, chilled or frozen meat of swine to address the existing pork supply shortage, stabilize prices of pork meat, and minimize inflation rates,” Duterte said in his order.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, however, said there is no need to import more pork products because the local production is already more than sufficient to address the shortage of pork supply.

Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, Lacson said the average nationwide consumption of pork products from 2018 to 2020 was at 1.85 million metric tons.

During the same period, the average annual local production of pork was 2.25 million metric tons.

“So where is the shortage? Hindi man malinaw na higit pa sa sapat ang supply mula sa local na production upang matugunan ang pangangailangan ng ating bansa?” Lacson said in his opening statement at the hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole on the food security crisis.

“Ito ay sa kabila ng umiiral na African Swine Fever (ASF) na nagsimulang nakapasok sa bansa noon pa mang Agosto 2019 na siyang ginawa nilang pangunahing dahilan sa pagkumbinsi kay Presidente Duterte upang pirmahan ang nasabing EO 128,” he added.

The investigation into the food security crisis stemmed from allegations about a kickback scheme in the pork importation process within the Department of Agriculture.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar earlier denied involvement in the alleged scheme and that an investigation has been launched into the issue.

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