06 October 2015

APEC News Releases

Palace thanks ‘bosses’ for increased approval rating for the Cabinet
Malacañang thanked the public on Tuesday for expressing satisfaction with the performance of the Cabinet.

Results of the Social Weather Stations’ (SWS) third quarter survey on key government institutions showed a four-point increase in the net approval rating for the Cabinet from +12 in June to +16 in September.

Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. considered this a manifestation of the public’s continuing trust and confidence in the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III.

“We thank our bosses—the Filipino people—for affirming their satisfaction with the Cabinet’s performance,” Coloma told reporters seeking his comment on the matter.

“This mirrors their continuing high level of satisfaction with the President’s performance going into the final phase of the Aquino administration,” the Palace official added.

The SWS survey, conducted on September 2 to 5 among 1,200 adults nationwide, highlighted the net approval ratings for Vice President Jejomar Binay (+33), Senate President Franklin Drilon (+42), House of Representatives Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. (+5), and Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno (+4).

Public satisfaction with the Senate and House of Representatives also increased to +44 and +26, respectively, from +33 and +20. The Supreme Court, however, experienced a slight decline in its net approval rating from +32 to +27. PND (hdc)

Environment Secretary to APEC: Healthy ecosystem leads to poverty reduction
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) Achieving a healthy and sustainable ecosystem will lead to poverty reduction, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje said on Monday.

During a press conference concluding the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and the Blue Economy Meeting here, Secretary Paje urged APEC member economies to reduce the degradation of any ecosystem.

Paje, who is also the meeting’s Co-Chair, explained that the degradation of an ecosystem will lead to low productivity, which in turn will result in poverty. Poverty will push people to increase productivity efforts by overexploiting the ecosystem, thus further destroying the environment.

“Degradation, low productivity, more poverty — and poverty also leads to overexploitation,” he noted.

“We have to break loose from this cycle,” the DENR chief stressed.

He said the Iloilo Plan of Action, which is the outcome of the meeting and was adopted by policymakers of the APEC member economies, aims to reduce degradation — if possible, stop the destruction — of the ecosystem.

Specifically, the Iloilo Plan of Action lays down strategies for sustainable management and conservation of the Asia-Pacific region’s marine and coastal ecosystems and aquaculture.

The Iloilo Plan of Action also aims to strengthen the partnership between the public and private sectors in shaping the blue economy initiatives in the APEC region.

Likewise, it targets to improve the participation of small-scale fishers and fish farmers into the global food value chain in the context of the blue economy by promoting agribusiness, market development, and open trade. PNA (kc)

Environment Chief hails APEC’s adoption of plan of action for fishery sector
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) Even prior to the adoption of the Iloilo Action Plan for the fishery sector, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has been implementing measures that protect the country’s marine resources, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said on Monday.

Member economies of the APEC on Monday adopted the Iloilo Plan of Action aimed at ensuring a sustainable fishery sector, reducing losses and developing agribusiness.

“Basically, the fishery concern is with the DA (Department of Agriculture), but we (at DENR) are more on the protection of the habitat, which is the marine ecosystem. We are in fact implementing some of the measures already,” Secretary Paje said during a press briefing that followed the conclusion of the two-day high policy meeting on food security here.

One of the DENR’s priorities is addressing coral bleaching, Paje said. Another initiative would be the protection of the country’s coastal areas.

Protecting coastal areas means preventing land-based pollution from reaching the sea, he said, noting that pollution coming from land degrades the coastal areas and will eventually reduce fish catch.

“And the other thing is, we would also like our coastal ecosystem to protect humans. Like for example, the development of mangroves to reduce the impact of typhoon surge and other calamities,” Paje said.

The environment secretary said he hopes that the Iloilo Plan of Action would bring tangible outputs as they strongly encourage every member economy of the APEC to implement the strategy that lays the foundation for healthy and resilient coastal and marine resources.

“We truly believe that this plan of action will promote the realization of our theme for the APEC 2015, ‘Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World’,” he said. PND (as)

Plan of action for fishery sector will benefit small stakeholders, says fishery official
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) The recently adopted Iloilo Plan of Action for the fishery sector, aimed at ensuring food security and developing agribusiness, will benefit small stakeholders in the long term, a fishery official has said.

During a press briefing on Monday, Fishery Undersecretary Asis Perez said one of the major priorities of the action plan is to make the Asia-Pacific region’s marine resources sustainable.

“If you look at the different priorities in the recommended plan of action, one of the important elements is to have resilient ocean, coastal resources, and ecosystems and sustainable aquaculture,” he said.

Perez pointed out that sustainable ocean is a prerequisite to sustainable production and a fishing community cannot have production without seagrass beds and mangrove areas where marine life reproduce and thrive.

Once these areas are degraded, small fishermen are the ones primarily affected because unlike big fishing companies, they are unable to go elsewhere to fish, he said.

Perez further said that the Iloilo Plan of Action also encourages fishermen to bypass middlemen and sell directly to the market, which would mean additional income for them.

“If there is access on the part of our small fishers to the upper level of the value chain, then they can expect benefits,” he said.

Member economies of the APEC on Monday adopted the Iloilo Plan of Action on Food Security and the Blue Economy, which will be presented to the APEC economic leaders in November.

Among the priorities of the action plan are ensuring sustainable food supply chains, reducing fish loss, and developing the region’s agribusiness for food security. PND (as)

Philippines already implementing several provisions of Iloilo Plan of Action, says Environment Secretary Paje
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) The Philippines is already making efforts to implement some of the provisions of the Iloilo Plan of Action on the protection of the marine ecosystem, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said on Monday.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is already making strides toward arresting coral bleaching and protecting coastal areas, which basically refer to pollution from land-based sources, said Secretary Paje, also the Co-Chair of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC) High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and the Blue Economy.

According to him, coral bleaching leads to the destruction of corals, which has a “big impact on the habitat of fishes”, and this subsequently leads to loss of production.

Coral bleaching occurs when corals are exposed to stressors, such as light and temperature. The stress makes corals expel their algae, which would turn them white.

Although corals are known to survive this bleaching, they suffer from mortality, thereby affecting the fishery habitat.

Paje further said that land-based pollution “degrades coastal areas and reduces catch”.

He noted that aside from protecting marine resources, improving the ecosystem must also be achieved “to protect our humans”.

The DENR is specifically concerned about the protection of mangroves, which greatly contributes to a reduction in the impact of typhoons and other natural disasters, he said.

The APEC’s member economies have agreed to adopt the Iloilo Plan of Action, which focuses on three areas: (1) Resilient Oceans, Coastal Resources and Ecosystems, and Sustainable Aquaculture, (2) Fish Loss Reduction, and (3) Agribusiness and Blue Economy.

“Sustainability and management of our ocean sources will lead to a resilient ocean and coastal ecosystem,” Paje said during a media briefing here.

He also noted the need for strategies that are geared toward the reduction of fish loss distribution and marketing.

Likewise, Paje emphasized that the development of agribusiness plans and the blue economy in the APEC will open opportunities for inclusive economic growth.

“Our objective is to reduce degradation. Degradation leads to low productivity, and this engenders poverty,” he pointed out.

The Plan of Action will be endorsed at the leaders’ summit in Manila in November.

Paje described the Plan of Action as a “landmark development” that embodies the APEC’s theme for this year — “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World”. (APEC Communications Group)

Palace brushes off Vice President Binay’s‘demolition by perception’ allegation
Malacañang has once again dismissed Vice President Jejomar Binay’s ‘demolition by perception’ charge against the government, saying President Benigno S. Aquino III has always advocated the rule of law.

In an email sent to reporters on Tuesday, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. reiterated the President’s call for a high level of political discourse amid the Vice President’s claims.

“The Aquino administration believes in and upholds the rule of law. We have focused on implementing reforms and on achieving inclusive and long-term growth,” Secretary Coloma said.

He added that such reforms have been recognized internationally and that the administration trusts that its ‘bosses’ — the Filipino people – would continue to support President Aquino’s Daang Matuwid platform of good governance.

According to news reports, Vice President Binay has expressed concern over what he termed as a sinister plan by his political opponents to have him disqualified as a presidential candidate and sent to jail.

Vice President Binay reportedly said he has a “feeling” that the Sandiganbayan would issue him an arrest warrant after he files his candidacy this month.

Coloma instead encouraged a high level of political discourse that is “platform- and not personality-based”, as mentioned by President Aquino.

“We trust that the Filipino people will join us in this advocacy and shun those that engage in the discredited ways of gutter-level partisan politics,” the Palace official stated.

The Vice President is currently facing three plunder complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman over alleged irregularities in Makati City during his time as its mayor. PND (hdc)

Philippines to start DNA barcoding of marine resources to discourage poachers
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) The Philippine government will implement DNA barcoding on turtles and other aquatic resources by 2016, amid rampant illegal fishing and poaching in the country’s exclusive economic zone, an official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has revealed.

In an interview, DENR Biodiversity Management Bureau Director Theresa Lim said the DNA barcoding will be used to trace the origin of fish and aquatic resources being smuggled, as well as to penalize smugglers.

“Dito sa atin, bina-barcode nila ang DNA para kahit lumabas ang mga huli, mate-trace na galing dito sa Pilipinas. Kasi minsan dine-deny nila, sinasabi nila na kinuha nila ito sa iba (In the Philippines, we are now collecting through barcodes the DNA of our aquatic resources, so that in case they are smuggled, we can still determine if the species were caught in our territorial waters. There have been instances wherein smugglers deny the origin of their catch),” Lim said Sunday on the sidelines of the APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and the Blue Economy here.

A DNA barcoding is a taxonomic method that uses a short genetic marker in an organism’s DNA to identify it as belonging to a particular species.

The DENR is currently working with the University of the Philippines Institute of Biology, she said.

“Inuumpisahan na natin with the UP Institute of Biology. Bina-barcode na nila yung DNA,” she disclosed.

“Right now, every time na may confiscation, yung mga turtles natin, we take the DNA samples, tapos nilalagay sa data base, para ma-match mo ngayon ang sample,” she added.

Lim said the use of DNA barcoding would discourage smugglers from catching fishes and endangered species.

Undersecretary of the DENR Manuel Gerochi said during a press conference that so far, several recommendations have been raised on monitoring the catch of fishes, the volume of fishes that are caught, provisions on how to preserve resources, and prevention of illegal fishing, among others.

He said a lot of recommendations are coming in.

“I can’t lay all (the recommendations) at this point in time, since the action plan is still under negotiation. There are still some back-door negotiations going on at this point in time,” he said. (APEC Communications Group)

Philippines can learn from New Zealand’s fishery experience, says private sector representative
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) It is a challenge for the Philippines to monitor its marine territory to fend off encroaching foreign fishermen but it could learn from the practices of other countries concerning their respective fishery sectors.

During a press conference here over the weekend, Anthony Nowell, representative to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS), said his country, New Zealand, has the fourth largest fishery sector in the world.

Being an island nation, New Zealand has a long coastline along its southern part, he said.

Twenty-five years ago, New Zealand, like the Philippines, faced fishery problems with the encroachment of Taiwanese fishing vessels on its territory, Nowell said, noting that since New Zealand is a small nation, it does not have a big navy.

To address the concern, he said, New Zealand put an economic limit to its coastlines to secure them.

“What we did was we invested in aircraft… always in the air monitoring who is fishing around the country,” he said.

“And mostly, we put in place a very strong fishery management system. It covers 105 species in New Zealand. Fishing companies or fishing folks have to actually register, we have to keep good records. That has been very effective.”

Nowell observed that in the case of the Philippines, the situation is very challenging.

The country has hundreds of thousands of fisher folks and its government must think of a program management system so that everyone could have an equal and fair share of the fish catch and not deplete the ocean, he said.

“And you’ve got to have tough negotiations in international fora with other countries to make sure that they stay outside your economic limit,” Nowell said.

Although APEC officials met here to address fishery issues, Philippine fishery authorities said they did not discuss issues on the encroachment of foreign vessels on the country’s fishing grounds, especially in contested territories.

They said the dialogues in APEC tackle purely economic issues and avoid delving into political matters. PND (as)

Iloilo Plan of Action to boost earnings of farmers and fishermen
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) The Iloilo Plan of Action will boost the income of farmers and fishermen by giving micro enterprises direct access to the upper level of the value chain.

Direct access to the upper value chain, one of the elements of the action plan, will allow farmers and fishermen to sell their products at a higher price because there will be no need for middlemen, Agriculture Undersecretary Asis Perez, Co-Chair of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and the Blue Economy, said here Monday.

“Enabling fishers to directly deal with market is important,” Perez said.

The Iloilo Plan of Action is also pushing for APEC economies to have resilient oceans, coastal resources, and ecosystems, which are prerequisite to sustaining production, the undersecretary said.

There can be no boost in production, which is one of the focuses of the Plan of Action, without seagrass beds and mangrove trees that protect the environment, he added.

Once coastal areas and marine ecosystems become degraded, small fishermen are the ones “primarily affected” because they will be unable to increase or sustain their production, Perez explained.

Member economies of the APEC have agreed to adopt the Iloilo Plan of Action, which focuses on three areas: (1) Resilient Oceans, Coastal Resources and Ecosystems, and Sustainable Aquaculture, (2) Fish Loss Reduction, and (3) Agribusiness and Blue Economy.

The Plan of Action will be endorsed at the Leaders’ Summit in Manila in November. (APEC Communications Group)

Inflation rate hit another all-time low in September, says NEDA
Inflation rate was recorded at its lowest level last month at 0.4 percent, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said on Tuesday, citing latest figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority.

The NEDA attributed the latest drop to slow adjustments in the prices of food, power and oil, which helped ease inflation from 0.6 percent in August and 4.4 percent in the same period last year.

In a press statement, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said they expect this trend to continue towards the end of the year, given the state of oil prices in the international market.

“We expect the current low inflation environment exhibited in the first nine months of 2015 to persist throughout the rest of the year, more so, as international oil prices continue to remain low and are not expected to increase significantly in the near term,” he said in the statement.

Balisacan however noted that the government must remain wary of other upside risks to inflation in the coming months, such as the current El Niño episode that might affect the country’s agricultural output.

The NEDA director general also said that the government must ensure sufficient food supply by improving the level of inventories and efficiency of the distribution system.

“Continued monitoring of drought occurrence in agricultural areas is necessary to ensure timely policy actions, including importation of rice and other basic commodities to augment domestic supply,” Balisacan said.

He stated further that expanding agriculture support structures from production areas to the demand centers would help bring down the cost of transporting goods and services.

Balisacan also proposed to consider increasing the number of agricultural workers as beneficiaries of the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program to offset potential farm output losses as the drought continues.

The government, he said, must also ensure that access to financing in the agriculture and fisheries sectors remains unhampered. PND (hdc)