Philippines, Japan ink deal for 6 new projects

admin   •   March 27, 2015   •   3500

OFFICIAL DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE. Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario and H.E. Kazuhide Ishikawa, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Philippines, signed and exchanged notes at the Deparment of Foreign Affairs in Pasay City, March 25, 2015 on 2 ODA grant projects amounting to 2.789 billion Yen that is approximately 1.2 billion pesos. (Willie Sy / Photoville International)

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and Japan have signed a deal for six new projects that will be implemented in the country.

Two of the projects were signed under the Official Development Assistance (ODA) that amount to P1.9 billion; while the other two were signed under the Yen Loan Program amounting to P8 billion.

Among the ODA projects are the grant aid program for the conflict-affected areas in Mindanao that will be implemented by the Department of Agriculture (DA), and the grant agreement for the hydro power development projects in Ifugao Province that will be implemented by the Department of Energy (DOE).

Also part of these are the non-grant project aid for Japanese SMEs products that will be implemented by the DPWH and PAGASA-DOST, and the non-project grant aid for disaster risk reduction equipment and facilities that will be implemented by the DepED, DSWD and PNP.

Two Yen Loan Programs will also be carried out in Metro Manila and Cagayan De Oro.  These are the Metro Manila interchange project phase 6, which amounts to more than P3 billion, and the flood risk management project for the Cagayan De Oro River.

The interchange project aims to resolve the heavy traffic in Metro Manila through building of interchange and flyovers.

The flood risk project meanwhile aims to mitigate flood risk in Cagayan De Oro River by building dikes and improving existing bridges.

Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhide Ishikawa hopes the said projects would help in the socio-economic development of the Philippines, and to further strengthen the bilateral ties of the two countries.

“I believe these projects will strengthen friendship between the people of Japan and the Philippines as well as the strategic partnership between our two countries,” he said. (Darlene Basingan / UNTV News)

Japanese probe travels back to Earth with samples of distant asteroid

Robie de Guzman   •   November 14, 2019

Tokyo – Japanese probe Hayabusa2 began its journey back to Earth after collecting samples of a distant asteroid, marking an unprecedented achievement in space exploration, the country’s aerospace agency announced Wednesday.

The probe began maneuvers to leave asteroid Ryugu’s orbit and return to Earth, a distance of 700 million kilometers that would take one year to cover, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) tweeted.

If the probe returns without any setbacks, Hayabusa2 will become the first space mission to bring surface and underground samples from extremely distant celestial bodies, contributing to research into the mysteries of the universe, JAXA said.

On Wednesday at 10:05 local time (1:05 GMT), the probe activated its lithium-ion powered engine to lift itself from its orbital location – some 20 kilometers above the asteroid – and begin its return journey.

JAXA provided details of the operation named “Sayonara Ryugu” (Goodbye Ryugu) on its Twitter account and posted pictures taken by Hayabusa2.

According to JAXA’s plan, the probe will pass over Australia towards the end of 2020 and drop a capsule containing sand and rock samples collected from Ryugu.

Hayabusa2 reached the asteroid in 2018 and made two touchdowns this year, in what have been pioneering missions of high technical complexity.

Maneuvers were aimed at retrieving underground samples from an artificial crater on the surface of the asteroid created by a projectile made of the metal tantalum fired by the spacecraft.

Ryugu is located 340 million kilometers from the Earth and its surface is believed to contain traces of coal and water formed during the birth of the solar system some 4.6 billion years ago.

The samples collected by Hayabusa2 could provide clues to the formation of planets and the origin of life. EFE-EPA
ahg/tk-sc/lds

DA to review Rice Tariffication law as Phl ranks as world’s biggest rice importer

Maris Federez   •   November 12, 2019

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, 15 April 2008. EPA-EFE/ALANNAH TORRALBA (FILE)

MANILA, Philippines – A United States agency report reveals that the Philippines has become the world’s biggest importer of rice, just months after the rice tariffication bill was enacted.

The US Department of Agriculture – Foreign Agricultural Service report also projected that the Philippines will have imported a total of 3-million metric tons of rice before the year ends.

This is 58% higher compared to the 1.9-million metric tons of rice that the country imported in 2018.

The Philippine reportedly outranked China – the biggest rice importer– which is expected to import 2.5 metric tons of rice.

The Department of Agriculture record, however, said that this early, the Philippines has already imported 2.99 million metric tons from January to October.

DA spokesperson Noel Reyes added that 1.8 million metric tons of the total amount of rice that the country has imported were placed after the enactment of the rice tariffication bill in March.

“We cannot restrict. Kasi kung ire-restrict mo ‘yan, we are going against the law, unless the law says, we can only import so much,” Reyes said.

The DA admitted that there may have been an over-importation of rice in the country.

Because of this, DA Secretary William Dar and Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food Chairperson Cynthia Villar are planning to review the said law.

“That’s the feeling of the department because of the complaints of farmers and farmers groups,” Reyes said.

“That’s the wish of the secretary and Senator Villar after a year, they have to review the RTL (Rice Tariffication Law) and probably put in some more provisions so as not to over-exceed our rice requirements,” he added.

Several farmer groups share the same sentiment.

The Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) said the government must raise the rice importation tariff and focus on increasing the presence of local rice in the market.

“Kapag dumating na ‘yung panahon na naubos na ‘yung sobra, pwede naman nilang tanggalin ‘yung additional tariff na ‘yun para magpasok ulit ng imported. Ganun sana ang laro nila,” said Raul Montemayor, FFF National Manager.

“Parang gusto nating mamatay ‘yung magsasaka, na wala tayong nilagay na control sa import, pasok lang ng pasok ‘yung importation, pabagsak ng pabagsak ang palay, at parang napakahina ‘yung response ng gobyerno,” he added.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), on the other hand, believes that the Rice Tariffication Law must be scrapped.

The group said the latest record of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) shows that the farm gate price of palay (grains) is now at P15 per kilo.

The KMP, however, said there are still several areas in the country where farmers sell their produce at P10 per kilo.

“Hindi na rin po namimili ang National Food Authority kasi po sa ilalim po ng Rice Tarrification and Liberalization Law, hindi na po sila mamimili ng palay sa magsasaka kaya po lalo pong binabarat ng mga malalaking traders at cartels,” said KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos.

In a statement, Bantay Bigas group spokesperson Cathy Estavillo said that they have been giving warning that the rice tariffication law will gravely affect the local farmers.

 “As we have decried repeatedly, RA 11203 will turn Filipinos into beggars of imported rice.  We all have witnessed this law causing bankruptcy to rice farmers, and this will lead to displacement and ultimately declined productivity,” Estavillo said.

To date, the price of a regular milled local rice is somewhere between P35 and P38 per kilo in several marketplaces in Quezon City.

The DA, on the other hand, is confident that the price of rice will continue to go down to P30 per kilo.

The agency also sees a downward trend in rice importation by next year as the local production improves. (from the report of Harlene Delgado) /mbmf

Japanese firm recalls 1.7M bottles of Craft Boss Tea due to bacillus bacteria

Marje Pelayo   •   November 7, 2019

JAPAN – A Japanese beverage manufacturer has ordered the recall of its tea drink following reports that it causes severe stomachache.

The manufacturer, Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd, has ordered a recall of around 1.7 million 500ml bottles of ‘Craft Boss Tea’ specifically those marked “best before” August 2020, with blue caps and production facility code of ‘/JJ’.

The company admitted that bacillus cereus bacteria were detected in the said batch of tea drink which causes food poisoning and serious infections in humans.

In October, one customer complained that the tea tasted sour.

After laboratory tests and investigation, Suntory Beverage discovered that microbes were present even in other bottles.

Suntory Beverage vowed to refund its customers for every bottle of Craft Boss Tea Drink returned through a gift certificate corresponding their purchase costs. – MNP (with details from Danny Ticzon Jr.)

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