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Gov’t to provide over P300-M aid to Marawi victims

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Saturday, March 24th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: Community leaders survey damaged houses and buildings inside war-torn Marawi, Philippines January 13, 2018. REUTERS/Tom Allard

MANILA, Philippines — It has been four months since Marawi has been liberated from the terrorists, but more than 1,600 families still remain in evacuation centers in Region X and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as of Friday, March 23.

On the other hand, 41,000 families are still temporarily staying with relatives and friends.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said, the government’s efforts to assist the affected residents of Marawi continues.

The amount of assistance provided to them has gone up to P322.48-million

“These services include financial assistance, ‘pabaon’ food packs, hygiene kits and kitchen kits,” said Andanar.

Meanwhile, the Philippine government also thanked other countries for their help in the Marawi rehabilitation.

These include the P1-billion official development assistance and 27 sets of new heavy equipment from Japan; the United States Agency for International and Development’s (USAID) P100-million assistance to boost food security in Marawi and Belgium’s assistance for farmers.  — Rosalie Coz | UNTV News & Rescue

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Piñol posts open letter to Andanar; clarifies proposal to end smuggling

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, September 3rd, 2018

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol (left); Palace Communications Secretary Martin Andanar (right)


Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol is dismayed by reports of his alleged proposal to “legalize” rice smuggling in the ZamBaSulTa (Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi) area.

The situation has been made worse, he said, when a reporter from PTV4 asked the President for his opinion about it at a press briefing last Sunday.

In an open letter addressed to Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, the DA chief clarified some misconceptions regarding his proposal to put up a trading center in ZamBaSulTa in an effort to curb smuggling.


Open letter to Secretary Martin Andanar

Tawi-Tawi Rice Trading Center to end smuggling, earn P1-B

Dear Sec. Martin,

I am deeply disappointed that a reporter of PTV4, a government television channel, would cause further misunderstanding and confusion on a very important issue by asking President Rody Duterte whether he approves of my proposal to “legalize rice smuggling” in the ZAMBASULTA Area.

Of course, when asked whether he would “allow the entry of smuggled rice to address the rice crisis,” President Duterte was right when he said “No, he won’t allow it.”

The reporter should have gone over my previous statements on the proposed Tawi-Tawi Rice Trading Center, which by the way is supported by the local government units and the people of the ZAMBASULTA Area, before she posed to the President a wrongly premised question.

Here is another attempt to explain what this issue is all about.

The smuggling of rice into the ZAMBASULTA Area from Vietnam or Thailand using the Sandakan and Labuan Ports in Sabah as transshipment points has been going on for years now.

While the illegal activity supplies the rice needs of the ZAMBASULTA Area (Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi) which has a rice sufficiency rate of only 10%, it deprives government of an estimated P1-B to P2-B in revenues and worse, it threatens the livelihood of farmers in the main island of Mindanao.

When the Malaysian authorities a month ago decided to clamp down on the rice smuggling activities in the ports of Labuan and Sandakan, the ZAMBASULTA Area suddenly ran out of rice supplies.

Now, the rice needs of the islands are provided for by the National Food Authority (NFA) but this cannot be sustained because with a total consumption of 220,000 metric tons every year, the ZAMBASULTA rice requirement would deprive other regions of government subsidized rice.

The NFA is importing only about 500,000 metric tons of rice every year sold for P27 to P32 per kilo in the market to stabilize the price.

Shipping commercial rice to the island provinces is a difficult option because the price of rice per kilo would be over P50 due to the difficulty in shipping the supplies to the area, a problem made worse by security concerns.

So, during the series of meetings I had with the local officials of ZAMBASULTA, the idea of establishing a Rice Trading Center, where the erstwhile illegal rice traders could bring in their stocks covered with import permits, quarantine and sanitary clearances and charged with the correct tariffs and duties, was endorsed by the stakeholders.

What would be the advantages of the Rice Trading Center?

  1. It would end rice smuggling because every sack of rice brought in through the Rice Trading Center will be charged with corresponding tariffs roughly estimated to be between P1-B to P2-B every year;
  2.  It will ensure steady supply of legally imported rice for the people of the ZAMBASULTA area until such time the Department of Agriculture and the LGUs have fully revived the rice farming industry in the islands and in Zamboanga City;
  3.  It will provide a safeguard against the unregulated entry of rice which could adversely affect the rice farmers of the main island of Mindanao. Under the proposal, the volume of rice which would be allowed to bring in through the Rice Trading Center should not exceed the total consumption requirements per capita of the ZAMBASULTA Area.

To set things straight, those who are saying that this idea means “legalizing rice smuggling” are simply missing the point.

First, let us define “smuggling.”

Smuggling is the act of bringing valuable goods into a country evading and avoiding the payment of tariffs, duties and taxes.

So, if the rice shipped in through the proposed Tawi-Tawi Rice Trading Center is covered with import permits, charged with appropriate tariffs and duties and covered with quarantine and sanitary clearances, would that still be “smuggling?”

Of course, NO! That becomes now a legitimate rice importation. Is that really difficult to understand?

I really hope that PTV4 and other government media entities under your department would exert more effort to clarify nebulous issues with other departments like the DA, especially in these times where the critics of the administration are engaged in a disinformation and destabilization campaign.

As it is now, our hands are already full trying to address the deliberate attempts of spreading false information by the so-called mainstream media.

The last thing that we need now is a PTV4 reporter further fanning the fire by asking the President to respond to a wrongly premised question.

I apologize for writing this open letter but this is intended to let the public know the other side of the story of the controversial Tawi-Tawi Rice Trading Center.

Thank you.

Secretary  Manny Piñol

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NEDA: Rebuilding Marawi to cost P53.4B excluding ‘ground zero’

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

FILE PHOTO: Community leaders survey damaged houses and buildings inside war-torn Marawi, Philippines January 13, 2018. REUTERS/Tom Allard


MANILA, Philippines – The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) estimates that the government will have to allot P53.4 billion for the rehabilitation of the conflict-torn city.

However, the fund does not cover the amount needed for the repair of the entire ground zero or the most damaged area in the city.

NEDA said a huge chunk of the P53 billion has to be used this year. It will cover the more than 800 priority programs, projects and activities the government target to finish until 2022.

“We have something to start with, I think that’s the most important thing, we’re for almost half of the year over. Getting started is what is important,” said NEDA Secretary Ernesto Pernia.

In NEDA’S breakdown, P26.148 billion is needed for physical infrastructure; P5.867 billion for social services and more than P10.383 billion for housing settlements; P7.765 billion  for livelihood and business development; P1.251 billion for local governance and peace-building and P2.004 billion for land resource and management.

The agency noted three fund sources for the rehabilitation of Marawi city. First is from the 2018 National Budget and second is from donations of private and non-government agencies, non-profit organizations. The fund can also be sourced from the official development assistance (ODA.)

Figures presented by NEDA showed that a huge part of the P53 billion will come from the fund of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund that reaches P24.8 billion. The other needed amount will be taken from other sectors.

NEDA said the estimated fund for the rehabilitation might still increase depending on the recommendations of stakeholders.

Despite this, NEDA is confident that the government can address concerns regarding the restoration of Marawi City to its former glory before the Maute siege.

“You know the leadership is determined to get Marawi back on its feet…”Bangon Marawi”  ang tawag. There are commitments,” concluded Pernia. — Joan Nano | UNTV News & Rescue

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Pres. Duterte to take action once probe on P60-M ad deal is complete – Malacañang

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Friday, May 4th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: President Rodrigo Duterte.

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the President is now looking into the controversial P60-million advertisement contract placed in the program managed by the brothers of Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo in the state run-People’s Television (PTV 4).

However, the presidential spokesperson refused to divulge who particularly in the president’s office investigates the issue.

But Malacañang assured the probe includes all those involved and the president will take appropriate actions once the investigation is complete

“Many reports have reached the OP, and the president have taken action on these. Don’t be on a rush, let the investigations proceed to determine if reports are correct or not, the president has already a track record on this,” Presidential Spokesperson Roque said.

Previous reports said that aside from Tourism Secretary Teo, the probe also covers Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.

Andanar oversees PTV 4 as Palace communications chief.

“Of course it would be an investigation that would cover everyone. I leave the statement of SAP Bong Go for whatever it is worth, he was the one quoted as having said Secretary Andanar is part of that so I let it be,” Roque added.

Andanar, meanwhile, refused to give comments on this issue while investigations are ongoing.

For now, Malacañang said President Duterte has no directives for Cabinet members involved in the controversy to resign, particularly Secretary Teo.

“Every Cabinet member, unless they’re fired, enjoys the trust and confidence of the president,” the presidential spokesman said. – Rosalie Coz | UNTV News & Rescue


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