Trust fund para sa mga magniniyog, isusulong sa Kongreso

admin   •   May 9, 2014   •   8531

FILE PHOTO: Coconut or Niyog (OLIVER JUAN / Photoville International)

MANILA, Philippines — Isusulong ng ilang grupo ng magsasaka ng niyog sa pangunguna ng Koalisyon para sa Ugnayang Magniniyog o KILUS-Magniniyog ang paglikha ng Coconut Farmers’ Trust Fund na gagamitin para sa pagpapaunlad ng industriya ng niyugan sa bansa.

Kukunin ang inisyal na kapital ng trust fund mula sa Coco Levy Fund na bahagi ng shares ng San Miguel Corporation na idineklara ng Korte Suprema na pag-aari ng gobyerno.

Ang Coco Levy Fund ay buwis na kinolekta sa mga magniniyog noong panahon ni dating pangulong Ferdinand Marcos upang mapaunlad ang industriya ng pagniniyugan sa bansa.

Tinatayang aabot na sa P73-billion ang halaga nito kasama na ang mga interes mula nang ibaba ang desisyon ng Korte Suprema noong Oktubre 2012.

Base sa panukala ng koalisyon ng mga magniniyog, idideposito sa isang bangko ang Coco Levy Fund upang huwag itong magalaw.

Ang interes lamang nito taon-taon ang gagamitin sa mga programa at proyektong nakaukol sa mga magniniyog. Halimbawa ay ang direktang pagbibigay ng assistance sa mga magniniyog at pagtatayo ng coconut-based enterprises.

Ayon kay Joey Faustino, Executive Director ng Coconut Industry Reform Movement (COIR), Layunin din ng panukalang batas na matiyak na mapupunta sa mga magniniyog ang bilyong pisong Coco Levy Fund na nakatengga pa rin hanggang sa ngayon.

“Since October 2012, these funds have interest for more than a year. So we calculate that it should be around P73 billion as of present with its interest at hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa yan napapakinabangan. Not a single centavo ay napapakinabangan ng mga tunay na magniniyog,” pahayag nito.

Ayon pa sa grupo ng mga magniniyog, hanggang ngayon ay walang malinaw na plano ang gobyerno kung paano nga ba at saan gagamitin ang Coco Levy Fund kaya’t sila na mismo ang gumawa ng inisyatibo upang ipanukala kung paano ito mapupunta sa tunay na mga magniniyog.

“The President himself has been very silent on this issue saying nothing about the coconut levy and how government intended to utilize the coco levy. Ang nagsasabi ho kung papaano i-utilize ang coco levy are different agencies of government. Mukhang maraming ahensiya ang interesado dito sa perang ito,” saad pa ni Faustino. (Roderic Mendoza / Ruth Navales, UNTV News)

Construction of Bulacan Airport to start before end of 2019 – DOTr

Robie de Guzman   •   August 1, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The construction works for the proposed New Manila International Airport (NMIA) in Bulacan is expected to start before the end of the year, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said Wednesday.

The P735.6-billion unsolicited airport project in Bulakan town in the province of Bulacan will serve as an alternative to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

NMIA has a design capacity of 100 million passengers per year but can be expanded to 200 million, the DOTr said.

It targets 240 aircraft movements per hour with four parallel runways planned.

The project will also include the construction of an 8.4-kilometer tollway that will connect the NMIA to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) in Marilao, Bulacan.

The DOTr said the airport will be operated and maintained by the San Miguel Corporation (SMC) after its unsolicited proposal emerged as winner of the Swiss challenge that the department concluded on Wednesday (July 31).

Unsolicited proposals undergo a swiss challenge, which requires an invitation to other companies to make offers while giving the original proponent the right to match it.

The DOTr said that since SMC’s offer had no challengers, the project is set to be awarded to the company after a recommendation from the technical working group is made within three days.

“On the notice of award, there are some conditions that should be complied with. These include post performance security, proof of commitment, among others as stated in the law. They (SMC) have 20 days to do so,” said DOTr Assistant Secretary for Procurement and Project Implementation Giovanni Lopez.

The department said that once the notice to proceed is issued sometime in August or September, the San Miguel Holdings shall then be in-charge of the financing, design, construction, operation and maintenance of the NMIA.

The NMIA is expected to be operational within four to six years.

“The instruction of (DOTr) Secretary (Arthur) Tugade was that we were expecting San Miguel Corporation to break ground by the last quarter of this year. And in the ordinary course of things, according to our time period under the law, that is very doable,” Lopez said.

Tugade, for his part, commended the progress of airport project.

“This new international airport is important in helping ease the congestion of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Together with the expansion of Clark Airport and the construction of additional facilities at Sangley Airport, NMIA is part of ‘baskets of solutions’ to bring further connectivity to the Filipino people,” Tugade said.

DOTr targets partial operation of MRT-7 in 2021

Marje Pelayo   •   July 17, 2019

Proposed MRT 7 train

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is targeting the partial operation of MRT-7 in 2021.

DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan said the project will definitely ease the burden of commuters as travel time from Quezon City to San Jose del Monte in Bulacan will reduce significantly from four hours to about 35 minutes once the project is completed.

On Wednesday (July 17), Batan and DOTr officials inspected MRT-7’s construction site in Quezon City to check the work in progress.

According to the project’s contractor San Miguel Corporation, the ongoing construction is already 44% complete which includes the train stations, platforms and the line where the railings will be placed.

The DOTr also announced that the procurement of 36 new train sets from South Korea has already been done.

MRT-7 is a 23-kilometer railway system that connects North Avenue in Quezon City to the province of Bulacan.

The train system traverses 14 stations namely North Avenue, Quezon City Memorial Circle, University Avenue, Tandang Sora, Don Antonio, Batasan, Manggahan, Doña Carmen, Regalado, Mindanao Avenue, Quirino, Sacred Heart, Tala and San Jose Del Monte.

It can load up to 500,000 passengers daily.

To prevent similar glitches as those in MRT Line 3, the DOTr is in close coordination with the agency’s private partners in terms of the regular maintenance of the MRT-7.

Usec. Batan said the completion of the entire project is expected in 2022. – with details from Joan Nano

Duterte wants more safeguards; vetoes bill reconstituting PCA

Marje Pelayo   •   February 11, 2019

FILE PHOTO: President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte refused to sign Senate Bill 1976 and House Bill 8522 which seek to strengthen the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and manage the billion-peso coco levy fund for farmers.

Malacañang argued that the P10-billion in annual appropriation for the development of an industry “is susceptible to corruption akin to creating pork barrel funds” because its implementation is handled by an agency that is not required to seek approval from the Executive Branch.

With a reconstituted PCA, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said, there will be no checks and balances over its functions including the sale, disposition and dissolution of the coco levy assets.

The Executive Branch is also not in favor of the bill’s composition of the 15-member PCA Board which employs seven members from the private sector which “translates to permitting private persons to influence the disbursement of public funds.”

Lastly, the Palace argued that: “The PCA is set up like the Road Board which is heavily criticized for allegations of corruption and misappropriation of funds.”

“The PCA Board, like the Road Board which disburses the Motor Vehicle User’s Charge, is given full authority to disburse PhP10-Billion every year in perpetuity without a terminal date, and subject only to review by Congress after six years”, Panelo said.

The measure’s author, Senator Cynthia Villar said it is “unfortunate” that President Duterte did not sign the bill but remains hopeful for the local farmers to soon benefit from the coco levy fund.

“Certainly, this will not discourage us until we see the day when our coconut farmers, who are among our country’s poorest, benefit from the fund that is rightfully theirs,” Villar concluded.

With these, the Chief Executive is asking Congress to redraft the bill and put more safeguards to the funds intended for the local coconut farmers. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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