Tuesday, September 25, 2012


MANILA, September 25, 2012-Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan today underscores the need to set into motion plans that would boost the modernization of the agricultural and fisheries sector in the country, saying that doing so would solve the nation's unemployment, poverty, and food security issues.

"There is very compelling evidence that the agriculture and fisheries sectors can be robust springboards upon which nations may be able to lift themselves out of poverty and move towards progress and prosperity. Vietnam has done it, as did China and Thailand. The Philippines should take its cue from its neighbors and put into practice what has proven to be effective formulas for success."

In a public hearing on bills promoting agriculture and fisheries mechanization, Pangilinan says that the country is in an enviable position to become the next booming economy in Asia.

"We are in the midst of a transition wherein the business climate and social structures are improving. This atmosphere must be supported by plans for long-term, sustainable economic structures that would ensure continuous progress. Agricultural mechanization will help immensely our efforts at becoming food self-sufficient."

Pangilinan, who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, laments the fact that the Philippines is currently languishing at the bottom list of rice producing countries in Asia in terms of agricultural mechanization, barely edging out Myanmar, which is the least mechanized in the region.

"The country only has 12,000 agricultural tractors. Compare that to Japan, who is the most mechanized country in Asia and has 2 million tractors. This is a very wide gap. The data is glaring and we need to address this issue immediately."

Pangilinan stands firm in his belief that agriculture is a key sector that could boost further the country's economy. He adds that agricultural mechanization will bring in more jobs in the sector, and increase profits for farmers.

"It is laudable that we have an anti-corruption advocate as President, as well as a very hardworking Agriculture Secretary in Proceso Alcala. These are the reasons why prioritizing the agriculture and fisheries sector could benefit us now. The timing could not have been more perfect, more ripe. If we are able to up the incomes of our farmers, and make agriculture and fisheries a highly profitable venture for them, then the country would be able to fulfill its goal of becoming a developed nation. But every effort must be geared towards uplifting the lives of our farmers and fisherfolk."

Legarda: Thousands of Filipino Seafarers to Benefit from Maritime Labour Convention, 2006

MANILA, September 25, 2012-In light of the celebration of Maritime Week, Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, today stressed on the importance of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 to the thousands of Filipinos seafarers who all seek for better protection and improved working conditions. 

“As we celebrate Maritime Week, we must all work to ensure that the rights of all seafarers are upheld, and that they are respected and recognized as vital components of the world economy. We must begin working towards full implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006,” Legarda said.

“Thirty percent (30%) of all the personnel manning ships worldwide are Filipino seafarers. In 2011 alone, the Philippines deployed 343,587 seafarers, making 1 out of every 5 seafarers in the world a Filipino. There is an urgent need for governments to effectively enforce its regulatory role in ensuring safer and secure shipping, in preventing marine pollution, and in ensuring decent work for seafarers,” she explained.

The Philippine Senate concurred in the ratification of MLC, 2006 on August 12, 2012. The Philippines became the pivotal 30th member state to do so, as MLC, 2006 will enter into force one year after it has been ratified by 30 countries with a minimum of 33% of world tonnage.

“The unfair conditions of seafarers including exploitation, excessive working hours, ill-treatment, contract substitution and underpayment of wages and other benefits will be abolished through this Convention. We must give them the just treatment that they deserve, underscoring their sacrifices and contributions to the global economy,” Legarda remarked.

MLC, 2006, dubbed as the seafarer’s Bill of Rights, establishes the right to a safe and secure workplace that complies with safety standards; right to fair terms of employment; right to decent working and living conditions on board ship; and right to health protection, medical care, welfare measures and other forms of social protection.

It also covers more basic rights such as freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor; the effective abolition of child labor; and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

Senate panel Oks DPWH P165-B outlay for 2013

MANILA, September 25, 2012-The Senate Finance Committee approved on Monday and will submit for plenary deliberations the proposed 2013 budget of the Department of Social Public Works and Highways (DPWH) amounting P165.57 billion, 32 percent bigger than its current budget of P125.74 billion, said its chairman Senator Franklin M. Drilon.

Primarily, the 2013 expenditures program of the DPWH, said Drilon, will support the rehabilitation and pavement of all 31,242 national and secondary roads which the government targets to be finished by 2014 and 2016, respectively; as well as the construction and rehabilitation of bridges in the country.

“For 2013, a huge amount of P130.64 billion is allotted to pave and rehabilitate all roads and bridges nationwide which is a commitment by the Aquino administration to improve our infrastructure to attract local and foreign investors,” said Drilon.

Of the amount, P12 billion is also earmarked for the construction and widening of 623.8 kilometers access roads to declared and strategic tourist destinations.

“The efforts being undertaken by the Department of Tourism to promote the ‘it is more fun in the Philippines’ campaign must be complemented by the DPWH by way of improving our access roads to different tourist destinations from North to South of the country,” said Drilon. 

Drilon also said that a substantial amount of P18.22 billion will go for the implementation of various flood control projects throughout the country which basically include the construction and rehabilitation of flood control projects such as dikes, seawall, slope protection and creeks within 20 major river basins and 376 principal river basins.

“We need to intensify these flood control projects to mitigate flooding in low-lying areas, and to provide safety to motorists and commuters,” said Drilon.

Dito lang sa Kamaynilaan, umihi lang ang palaka, nagbabaha na kaagad. Marami sa mga kababayan natin ang naaabala nang husto at na-i-stranded sa gitna ng baha. Marami rin sa mga klase ang nasususpinde dahil sa mabilis na pagbaha,” said Drilon. 

All these, he added, hopefully will be firmly addressed with the huge budget the government allocated for our main infrastructure agency.

Drilon also stressed that a good portion of the funding for all DPWH projects will come from locally-generated funds amounting P124.86 billion, and only P15.73 billion will be sourced from foreign-assisted projects.


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