Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Drilon: Senate to raise tax exemption limit on Christmas perks, other bonuses before yearend

MANILA-A bill that will increase the take-home pay of public and private employees is among the measures that will be passed before the year ends, said Senate President Franklin M. Drilon.

"In the meeting we had with the House leadership, we have resolved that the tax exemption limit on 13th month pay and other benefits should have the Congress' approval before the year ends. This bill has already the lawmakers' thumbs up, so it's possible that we can pass it this year,” said Drilon.

Drilon said the Senate Committee on Ways and Means is already finished with its committee report and it will be brought to plenary debates this week.

“Once it is laid on the floor, we will immediately calendar it for debates. I am sure we can come up with the solutions on how to address the concerns regarding its effects on our national coffers,” said Drilon.

“What we are more concerned about is how we can help our millions of workers who are struggling from day to day to cope with the effects of inflation. The exemplary actions of our workers, for instance, our teachers, cops and soldiers deserve more support from the government,” stressed Drilon.

The Senate intends to raise the exclusion limit on an individual’s 13th month pay, Christmas bonus, and other work benefits from income taxation from the current imposed limit of P30, 000 to P75,000.

A house version of the proposed measure had already been transmitted to the Senate last September.

Meanwhile, Drilon said he expects floor deliberations on the 2015 national budget to start by November 18. He said the chamber remains on-track on the budget and is committed to approve it before yearend.

The Senate leader also enumerated a number of measures, mostly economic measures, that will receive urgent legislative action which include the Bangsamoro Basic Law, Fair Competition Act, Rationalization of Fiscal Incentives Law, Customs and Tariff Modernization Act, Rationalization of Mining Revenues Act, the amendments to the charter of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and Built-Operate-Transfer law, and the establishment of an information and communications technology department. 

Senate commends mayor for agri feats

MANILA-The Senate today adopted a resolution commending Zamboanga del Sur Mayor Nacianceno “Jun” Mejos Pacalioga Jr. for winning the 2012 One World Award last September in Legau, Germany.

Senator Cynthia Villar, author of Resolution 807, said Pacalioga was awarded the 2012 One World Award for promoting organic agriculture and sustainable rural development in his hometown of  Dumingag  in Zamboanga del Sur.

One World is a biennial honor that recognizes outstanding people and their projects that serve as examples of globalization and show strong commitment towards a sustainable future.

Villar, chair of the Senate Committee of Agriculture and Food, said Republic Act 10068, otherwise known as the "Organic Agriculture Act of 2010," recognizes best practices in organic agriculture which showcase organic farming technologies and techniques which will seek to set benchmarks for local farmers.

“Mayor Jun bested finalists from around the world for his "outstanding work
(that) is unique in its complexity, targeting agriculture, rural development, forestry and resources management,” Villar said.

“His achievement in his hometown puts Dumingag in the global map as a framework of socially and ecologically sustainable development which can be emulated not only by the country but by communities throughout the world,” she added.

Villar said Pacalioga deserves to be commended and emulated for his dedication and hard work.

Ecozone project to boost dev't in Aurora province

CASIGURAN, Aurora-The creation of the Aurora Pacific Ecozone and Freeport Authority (APECO) here in Casiguran, Aurora is seen to spur local economy in the eastern seaboard of Luzon.

Gerardo Erquiza, president and chief executive officer of APECO, on Tuesday lamented that the Aurora province has been increasingly isolated and neglected over the past few decades.

“Tourism is expected to boost as tourist influx to Baler has dramatically rose. Casiguran has much more to offer than Baler in terms of tourist spots and hotel owners in Baler are keen on putting-up hotel facilities in Casiguran to respond to the call,” said Erquiza.

Travel time between Casiguran and Baler was also shortened due to APECO’s Baler-Casiguran Road project, according to him.

The official was present during the Senate hearing on the proposed 2015 budget of the APECO. Its proposed budget amounts to P250 million.

While he welcomes a number of criticisms regarding APECO, Erquiza appealed for the support of its stakeholders.

Erquiza said they have always been open for “greater consultation and collaboration,” especially with people of Casiguran.

“What we need now is breathing space, not a choking point. Let’s not kill the ideas and visions that APECO has for the eastern seaboard of the Philippines,” he stressed.

During the hearing, Erquiza also dismissed reports that APECO destroyed the lives and resources of the Casiguran farmers.

Renato Prado, chairman of Samahang AKDA ng Aurora, in a press conference at the Senate December last year, debunked land-grabbing claims against APECO.

“Wala pong katotohanan. Wala pong inaalis ang APECO na Dumagat. Sa totoo lang po sila po ‘yung nakatulong sa amin, binigyan po kami ng kabuhayan po,” said Prado.

Ely Dipablo, a Dumagat elder and former officer of Presidential Aim for National Minorities in Casiguran, echoed Prado’s statement.

“Hamunin ko po. Magsabi sila ng kahit na isang pangalan ang na inagawan ng lupa ng APECO. Hinahamon kop o sila ilabas nila kahit isa lang tao kung sino ang inagawan. Walang inagawan ng lupa,” he said. 

Legarda Invites Filipinos to Join Dayaw Festival in Baguio

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today encouraged Filipinos, especially those in the Cordillera and nearby regions, to participate in the Luzon leg of the 2014 Dayaw Indigenous Peoples Festival, which will be held in Baguio City from October 22-23, 2014.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities, said that through the Dayaw Festival, citizens will be able to witness various indigenous performances, rituals, traditions and crafts, which are all part of the Filipino identity.

“We have a very rich culture and we should rediscover our traditions through the Dayaw Festival. I invite the people in Baguio, in the Cordillera Region, and even those in other regions in Luzon to participate in the Dayaw 2014 in Baguio,” she said.

Cultural performances by cultural masters, traditional games and cuisine demonstrations, parade of IPs, and craft exhibitions are among the highlights of the Dayaw Festival in Baguio.

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the lead agency organizing the Dayaw Festival, earlier announced that the 2014 Dayaw Festival will be held in three different venues—in Baguio City on October 22-23; in Bacolod City on November 10-11; and in Zamboanga City on November 15-16.

“I congratulate the NCCA for bringing our culture and traditions closer to many Filipinos by organizing three Dayaw Festivals this year. This would allow more Filipinos to be part of the celebration,” said Legarda.

“I wish to highlight once more that culture is our common ground as a people. We have to find that common ground so that we remain connected to one another and strengthen the unity among our citizens. And so I wish that our citizens would take this opportunity to know about and be proud of what we have and where we came from so that we may find the essence of being Filipino,” Legarda concluded.


PALAYAN City, Nueva Ecija – The National Irrigation Administration led by Administrator Florencio F. Padernal and the provincial government of Nueva Ecija headed by Governor Aurelio M. Umali hosted this year’s Nueva Ecija Water Summit on October 15, 2014 at the Nueva Ecija Convention Center, this city. The activity primarily aimed to present the current water situation in the coverage area of Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation System (UPRIIS) – headed by Engr. Reynaldo D. Puno – to base the formulation of measures that would help to mitigate the negative effects of the El Niño phenomenon.

El Niño

PAG-ASA forecasted that the climate phenomenon, which occurs across the tropical Pacific Ocean, will peak during the last quarter of 2014 until beginning of second quarter of 2015. This particular climate pattern is mostly associated with lack of rainfall occurrence, drought, and abnormal weather conditions. Countries that are dependent on agriculture and fisheries like the Philippines are said to be the most affected by El Niño. Due to this event, rice and food production will likely to suffer.

Affected Area

Currently, Pantabangan Dam had been suffering the initial effects of the phenomenon. Due to the lack of rainfall occurrence, particularly in Luzon, the water elevation of the reservoir as of July 2014 is only at 182 meters. Based on the average and maximum inflows, the projected water level on November 30 is 194.22 meters (average inflow) or 209.53 (maximum inflow) which is still below the Operation Rule Curve of 212.15 meters.

In connection to this, it is forecasted that only 70% or 80,842 hectares out of UPRIIS’s total irrigable area of 114,490 hectares can be programmed for irrigation for the Dry Cropping Season 2015 that will affect 27,332 farmers.


Also one of the main purposes of the water summit is to convene the stakeholders involved in rice and food production in the province. It became the venue for all the participants to share trends and practices in relation to increasing agricultural productivity amidst the El Niño phenomenon. Aside from Padernal, Umali, and Puno, present during the summit were: DOST-PAGASA Administrator Dr. Vicente B. Malano; Department of Agriculture Asst. Regional Director Cris Bautista; and Representative of the OPAFSAM Ferdinand Hombrebueno. Also present were representatives from other private and government agencies, LGUs, and officials and members of Irrigators Associations (IAs).

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Nueva Ecija Governor Aurelio M. Umali said he will allot funds to improve water flow of Peñaranda River hence improving irrigation especially during the peak of El Niño.

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NIA Administrator Florencio F. Padernal and UPRIIS Operations Manager Reynaldo D. Puno assured the participants of the Water Summit that NIA is well-prepared for El Niño.


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