davao

Davao’s livestock industry vigilant vs animal diseases

August 24, 2017

DAVAO CITY—Amid the Avian Influenza or bird flu outbreak in Luzon, the livestock industry players here are not taking any chances against animal diseases that may affect the industry, such as food and mouth disease (FMD) by beefing up good agricultural practices. “We should not put our guards down even if we are FMD-free,” said Edward So, president of Davao Hog Raisers Association. “The more that we should be strict in protecting our industry, considering the fact that other markets in the country like Luzon and the Visayas source their pork requirements in Mindanao,” he added. He said Mindanao has quality products and exports hogs to Luzon and Visayas where there is a shortage of pork meat. The shortage of pork meat, So said, is felt especially in Luzon because of the present administration’s policy to curb smuggling. So stressed the shortage of pork production in the country even surprises hog raisers in Mindanao. As such this is an opportune time to consider joining the hog industry to increase production. While Mindanao hog raisers are committed to improving their production, So said the government should also help backyard raising to go mainstream. “What is good in Mindanao is that we still have available lands for hog raising unlike in Luzon,” he said. Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture (DA) XI will collect blood samples from hogs for FMD test, cholera and other hog diseases as part of its monitoring to ensure that Davao’s livestock remains FMD free. Dr. Dannie Apelo, Avian Influenza coordinator of DA, also assured that in the provinces, cities, towns and barangay levels there are personnel in-charge on IEC (information, education, communication) for awareness campaign among backyard raisers. “These backyard raisers already know what vaccine to apply for instance against cholera,” he said, adding that the industry players should not be complacent even if the region is FMD-free. That is why he said, the quarantine operatives are on guard and man quarantine checkpoints to look into all livestock and poultry products transported into Davao. PNA

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Abandoned bag inside bus yields firearms

August 23, 2017

DAVAO CITY -- A bag left inside the compartment of a provincial bus containing several firearms and ammunition, was intercepted at the Task Force Davao checkpoint in Licanan, Lasang, Davao City Monday. The firearms were discovered during an inspection when the bomb-sniffing dog sat on the bag prompting Task Force (TF) Davao to ask for assistance from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team, which used water disruption, making sure any explosive device not to function. Davao City Police Office (DCPO) spokesperson Sr. Insp. Ma Theresa Gaspan said the bag was placed inside the Bachelor Bus bearing plate number WOY113 coming from Tagum City heading to Davao City. Gaspan said the bag contained seven caliber .45 pistol with six empty magazines and one UZi sub machine gun with three magazines and silencer. Based on initial investigation, Gaspan said the bus actually came from Tacloban. The bus driver, Marcos Aninon, said he only had two stops during the travel – in Tacloban and Lipata, Surigao, where they accepted cargoes. Aninon said he had other stops but only to unload cargoes. As this developed, the bus passengers were brought to the Bunawan Police Station for questioning. Of the 27 passengers based on the number of ticket issued, only 26 passengers appeared. The police are now on the look-out for the 27th passenger. (Lilian C. Mellejor/PNA)

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Davao’s 1st shrimp processing plant opens

August 22, 2017

DAVAO CITY -- Davao Region’s first processing plant for shrimp products set to create employment for over a hundred Dabawenyos opened Friday at the Davao Fish Port Complex in Toril, this city. Anderlude Seafoods Corp. Chief executive officer Ludevito Batilong said the plant process packs of tempura (nobashi ebi), headless shrimps, whole shrimp which the company will supply to domestic market all over the country.Batilong has a foreign investor, Anders Haagen who is from Denmark. The company grows shrimps in 45-hectare area in Dumoy, Toril. It has a 14-hectare area farm in Coronon, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur and 68 hectares in Hagonoy, Davao del Sur. The total production in these aeas is at 142 to 180 tons every month. It has leased some 600 sq. meters area in the fish port. Of the total area, 300 sq. meters is dedicated to the processing facility which process 3 tons of the products daily in a single shift. According to Batilong, there is a big demand of the products in the country. The requirement in Davao City alone from Monday to Thursday is five tons daily and goes up to 10 tons on Friday to Sunday. He also said that the company already had a purchase order of 2.5 million pieces of processed shrimps for delivery next month to a Manila buyer. There is great potential in this industry, he said, especially now that seafood preference among consumers is increasing. Batilong said he will first concentrate on the distribution of their products within the country, targeting small restaurants and eateries to patronize their products like the tempura. “We wanted to teach this small eateries how to prepare the food and for them to offer good food like the tempura to ordinary people as we deliver the ready to cook shrimp in the morning and collect payment the next day,” he said. He said he would also be helping this small businesses earn additional income by offering the product at affordable price of PHP5 per piece for a shrimp of five inches in size. The company is also eyeing malls, restaurants and other institution. Batilong said that part of their future plans is an expansion of their production area. Exporting their products to foreign market is also part of their long term plan. PNA

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Grab mulls expanding operations in Davao

August 22, 2017

DAVAO CITY -- Grab Philippines is mulling on expanding its GrabCar operations in Davao City which is now under study if it’s feasible amid a good taxi system here. Leo Gonzalez, head of the Public Affairs, said Grab is testing the environment in Davao City if Davaoenos are ready to pay higher fares for a more convenient ride. Gonzalez stressed the company is looking more on the demand side under such operation. He said the company has already expressed interest with the Land Transportation and Franchising Board (LTFRB) to operate in the city. GrabCar is a car-booking application that dispatches private vehicles. The app has high demand in Metro Manila. Grab has been operating in Davao City since 2014 when it partnered with taxi operators and drivers in Davao for GrabTaxi. Jose Thor Villarreiz, Grab Davao Manager, said there are now 1,300 Grab-a-Taxi drivers still using the Grab platform averaging about 500 drivers active per day. When Grab started in Davao City there were about 2,600 because of the incentives they offered to establish the brand. Meanwhile, on Friday, Grab Philippines revealed it has already accepted 100 drivers from Uber as of Friday, August 18, after the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) allowed transport network vehicle services (TNVS) units to transfer to two other accredited Transport Network Companies (TNCs). Grab Philippines Country head Brian Cu, however, is not sure how many will be joining Grab. “It is yet to be seen,” Cu said when asked how many the company would take in. Cu, who was here for the 32nd Kadayawan sa Dabaw, said Grab will just submit a list to LTFRB daily until his company will be told it is enough. The submission of a list is required by LTFRB. On Thursday, LTFRB released Board Resolution No. 19 stating Uber TNVS units will be allowed to transfer to two other accredited TNCs like Grab and UHOP to ease the burden of commuters. Under the said resolution, the TNVS should only show their proof of accreditation by Uber and insurance coverage. Grab and UHOP should submit to the LTFRB a list of operated TNVS on a daily basis. Cu said, “We will accommodate the members of the TNVs community who want to join Grab’s platform so long as they abide by the requirements clearly stated in the order and the company’s policies.” Cu said Grab is also looking at people whose livelihood is affected by the suspension of the operations. Uber was suspended last August 14 and was ordered to cease and desist the operations of its online booking applications. Cu stressed that Grab understands very well about the lack of supply to serve the need of the riding public. With LTFRB’s resolution, Cu is optimistic Grab can meet the demand beginning on Monday. To maintain Grab’s quality of service, Cu said drivers will undergo training, cross check their background. “We’re focused on serving drivers and consumers, and ensuring that the car-and-taxi-hailing transport continues to run as smoothly as possible,” he said. He added that aside from the fare cap which Grab put in place to ensure consumers continue to pay a reasonable fare, Cu said Grab also ensures that the onboarding process will be smooth so that TNVs drivers can start to make a loving again. PNA

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Street dancing, float parade caps Kadayawan Festival

August 22, 2017

DAVAO CITY -- The flower float parade, Pitik (drum beating) Kadayawan, and the street-dancing competitions capped the week-long Kadayawan sa Dabaw as participants from different Mindanao provinces rocked city streets in the last two days of the celebration. It is the first Kadayawan Festival under a martial period but people from Davao City, Maguindanao, Davao provinces, Surigao, Compostela Valley, South Cotabato defied security fears as hundreds went out to the streets to show support and unity. The big winners in the Pamulak or floral float parade Sunday were Davao Horse Club with PHP100,000 cash prize under “Lahi (different) category; the Philippines Extreme Volunteers Association under the small category with PHP300,000; and the IPI under the big category with PHP700,000. In Pitik Kadayawan or drum beating competition, a new feature of this year’s festival, the Mati Drumbeaters went home with the grand prize of PHP200,000 while second prize of PHP150,000 went to El Ritmo Drumbeaters, and the Landan National High School with the third prize of PHP100,000. On Saturday’s street dancing “Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan” competition, the Davao City National High School (DCNHS) Special Program in the Arts and the Sagayen National High School Performing Arts of Asuncion town, Davao del Norte bagged the major prize in the Davao City school-based category and the open category, respectively. It was a big comeback for DCHNS, which bagged PHP500,000 in cash prize plus trophy. It also bagged PHP15,000 for best music. Sagayen National high School won the P700,000 cash prize. Sagayen’s performance showed the richness of the town where many banana plantations are located. Other winners in the street dancing competition under the school-based category were the Sta. Ana National High School Performing Arts Guild (second prize -- PHP200,000); Buhisan Elementary School (third prize -- PHP100,000); F. Bustamante Central Elementary School (fourth prize -- PHP75,000); and, Jose Bastida Elementary School Tribong Dumoyans (fifth prize -- PHP15,000). In the open category, the second prize with PHP400,000 cash went to Polomolok, South Cotabato contingent; third prize with PHP300,000 cash went to Gabi National High School of Compostela town, Compostela Valley Province; fourth prize with PHP200,00 cash went to Matiao National High School of Mati, Davao Oriental; and, fifth prize with PHP100,000 cash went to Hamugaway Performing Arts of South Cotabato. In the open category, the second prize with PHP400,000 cash went to Polomolok, South Cotabato contingent; third prize with PHP300,000 cash went to Gabi National High School of Compostela town, Compostela Valley Province; fourth prize with PHP200,00 cash went to Matiao National High School of Mati, Davao Oriental; and, fifth prize with PHP100,000 cash went to Hamugaway Performing Arts of South Cotabato. However, no contingent went empty-handed as non-winners were also awarded a consolation cash prize of PHP15,000 for Davao City school-based category and PHP20,000 for the open category. At the closing of Sunday’s events, Mayor Sara-Duterte Carpio lauded the city government’s private sector partner -- the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII). The mayor cited the overwhelming support from the people and the private sector despite the city and Mindanao facing challenging times. To the visitors, Duterte-Carpio thanked them for not hesitating to visit Davao to celebrate Kadayawan. She looks forward to a bigger and grander festival next year. “We will set the bar higher for the future celebration,” the mayor promised. DCCCII president and Kadayawan executive committee co-chair, Capt. Ronald Go was hopeful the festival changed the negative perception that it is unsafe in the city because of the martial law. “I Hope people share -- start to spread more and more people realize and visit Davao said. Go, who is not a native of Davao, said Kadayawan has brought and made him understand the history and culture of lumads. He said he only used to watch Kadayawan from the comforts of his home behind the television screen. Go said Kadayawan is very promising although he is not sure if DCCCII will again partner with the city. He said there were already discussions to create a foundation to handle the festival every year. PNA

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Buwis(et)! DOF’s top 5 tax reform lies

July 22, 2017

DAVAO CITY - President Rodrigo Duterte certified TRAIN as urgent and his main economic managers – the finance, budget and economic planning secretaries – have been aggressively pushing it since last year. The bill is also supported by a wide range of other high-income earners spanning the 246 HOR lawmakers voting in favour of it, former finance secretaries and heads of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), economists, business tycoons, big business groups, foreign chambers of commerce in the country, financial institutions like Deutsche Bank and Nomura, and others. The government and the wealthy private sector constantly invoke national development and the welfare of the poor to justify their position. Yet the conspicuous lack of similar clamor on the part of the country’s poor majority is not surprising – the DOF’s TRAIN is grossly anti-poor, brazenly pro-rich, and should be derailed. These are the DOF’s five (5) biggest tax reform lies: 1) “We will lessen the overall tax burden of the poor” and “increase the take-home pay of most individuals thereby putting more money in people’s pockets” where “99% of taxpayers will pay less taxes” – The truth: the tax reform will make the poor poorer. The net impact of the change in income taxes, expansion of VAT coverage, new oil excise taxes, and inflationary effect is that the poorest 60% of Filipino households, or 13.7 million households with some 60 million Filipinos, will have less money in their pockets after the tax reform. The government will in effect take away Php737 annually from the pockets of the poorest 2.3 million families with an average monthly household income of just Php5,214 in 2018 (first and lowest income decile), Php980 from the next poorest 2.3 million families with monthly income of Php8,315 (second income decile), Php1,163 from the next poorest 2.3 million families with monthly income of Php10,691 (third income decile), Php1,374 from the next poorest 2.3 million families with monthly income of Php13,015 (fourth income decile), Php1,687 from the next poorest 2.3 million families with monthly income of Php15,746 (fifth income decile), and Php2,088 from the next poorest 2.3 million families with monthly income of Php19,269 (sixth income decile). The poorest 60 million Filipinos will pay more taxes under the proposed tax package with higher prices on food, drinks, LPG, transport fares, electricity, housing and other basic goods and services they consume. It will in effect take away Php737 from every rice farmer, Php980 from every farm worker, Php1,163 from every construction worker, Php1,374 from every private school teacher, Php1,687 from every bookkeeper, and Php2,088 from every machine tool operator. The figures from a DOF table supposedly computing the change in annual take-home pay in 2018 are however likely even underestimated. For instance, the DOF has also estimated that the oil excise tax alone will increase a fisherman’s fuel expenses by Php1,089 and of a farmer’s by Php1,210 with the VAT and inflationary impact even coming on top of these. The income tax exemption for minimum wage earners, personal and additional exemptions, and health insurance premium payments are also proposed to be lifted. While minimum wage earners will still not pay taxes for now – because income tax starts to be paid upon reaching an annual income of Php250,000 a year – it is possible that they will be subject to income taxes in the future if the minimum wage reaches the first taxable income tax bracket. 2) “After the tax-transfer reform, the poor benefits the most” and “the tax system will be fairer and more equitable” – The truth: the tax reform will make the rich richer. The net impact of the change in income taxes, expansion of VAT coverage, new oil excise taxes, and inflationary effect is that the highest-earning 40% of Filipino households, or 9.1 million households with some 40 million Filipinos, will have more money in their pockets after the tax reform. This includes among the richest households in the country. The 2.3 million families with an average monthly household income of Php24,355 (seventh income decile) will gain an additional Php4,187 annually, the next 2.3 million families with monthly income of Php32,295 (eighth income decile) will gain an additional Php8,012, the next 2.3 million families with monthly income of Php47,131 (ninth income decile) will gain an additional Php16,954, and the richest 2.3 million families with monthly income of Php111,380 (tenth and highest income decile) will gain an additional Php43,540. They have net gains because their increased take home pay from lower personal income taxes more than offsets losses from additional VAT, oil taxes, and inflation. The net gains also remain even if higher taxes on automobiles and especially on high-end luxury cars, which is sensible, are factored in. Middle class households in the seventh to ninth income deciles certainly deserve relief from changing decades-old tax brackets. These include Filipino families whose only moderate incomes are doubly-eroded by inflation and by excessively high taxes. It can even be argued that the minimum figure for tax exemptions can be raised to those earning up to around Php33,000 monthly. However it does not make sense for supposed tax reforms to give a corporate executive already earning Php280,309 monthly (or Php3.4 million yearly) an additional Php91,027 or a company’s chief executive officer already earning Php598,132 monthly (or Php7.2 million yearly) an additional Php130,267. Yet the DOF’s TRAIN does just that while, to recall, taking hundreds of pesos away from the poorest Filipinos who already have so little as it is. The poorest are made to pay more out of much smaller incomes to begin with and this is not by any reasonable interpretation a “fairer and more equitable” tax system. The DOF cites the supposedly higher income tax rate of 35% applied to the highest income bracket, compared to the current 32%, as proof of the progressivity of their proposals. This is a half-truth though because using the complete formula which includes a minimum lump sum and applying the tax rate only on the excess of income over Php5 million means that many of the country’s rich will actually end up paying less than under the current tax system. The DOF also gives the example of the country’s top two income taxpayers whose take home pay falls in 2018 upon the tax reform to reinforce the impression that the new tax system is progressive. This is however an exaggeration and is oblivious to how the country’s super-rich use various legal and illegal strategies to avoid paying taxes including tax havens, off-shore accounts, shell companies and trust funds, smuggling and others. The tax reform program really does nothing to address, and actually worsens, the continuing accumulation of massive wealth in the hands of a few. The country’s richest for instance also gain additional benefit from the lowering of estate and donor’s taxes to a flat rate of 6%, with the DOF estimating that they will pay at least Php3.1 billion less per year starting 2018. 3) “We are committed to uplift the poor and the vulnerable through a progressive social protection using targeted cash transfers and public transport subsidies” – The truth: TRAIN’s taxes are permanent but its social protection is only temporary and, worse, still just an undefined afterthought. The only reason the DOF can argue that the poor benefit is because TRAIN supposedly has a social protection component. Early proposals included a targeted cash transfer of Php300 per month to the poorest 50% or some 10 million households in the country to mitigate rising prices and a Pantawid Pasada scheme of cash cards for public utility vehicles to offset the impact of the increase in oil excise taxes especially on diesel. The TRAIN bill passed by the HOR however remains extremely vague on these supposed social protection measures. Out of the 59-page bill, there is only a third (1/3) of a page on them with just cursory mention of a “social benefits program” and “granting fuel vouchers to qualified transport franchise holders”. The only clarity given is that the measures will last for just three years. This means that even assuming that they are implemented, the measures are only temporary and the majority poor of the country will be struggling with the onerous tax burden of TRAIN long after the social protection measures have ended. This gives credence to the notion that they are only being implemented to divert from the gross regressiveness of the new tax package. Such a smokescreen also comes at a price and the administrative cost of the scheme will run into at least hundreds of millions of pesos and perhaps even into the billions. 4) “If no or diluted tax reform, the outcome will be poverty, malnutrition and traffic” and “the poor will likely remain poor” – The truth: the DOF is blackmailing the poor because it is afraid to tax the rich. The threat of poverty, malnutrition and indeed the traffic oddly mentioned in the same breath is directed at the country’s poor farmers, workers, informal sector, low-paid employees and others who already suffer these the worst. It is certainly true that the government needs resources for the many different things needed to ensure social and economic development for the majority. Schools, hospitals and homes have to be built, roads, bridges, water systems and power plants have to be constructed, factories and farms have to be developed, and the economy has to be strengthened. The DOF is however disingenuous in putting the burden of providing these resources on the majority of Filipinos who have such low incomes and barely any assets to begin with, rather than on the few elite families and corporations who not only have such high incomes but have also amassed huge wealth from the economy over decades. Poorer families earning just a few thousand pesos a month with barely any savings and scant assets cannot be treated the same way as the richest families earning hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of pesos a month with hundreds of millions (or even billions) in savings and assets. The extreme concentration of wealth in a few in the country is an opportunity for real tax reforms that do not just raise revenues for development but also reduce inequality. Today, some 17 million Filipino families (80% of all families) earn at most around Php20,000 a month; the poorest half (53%) try to live off less than Php13,000 a month and the poorest fifth (20%) on an average of less than Php5,600 a month. These poor and low income families should be taxed as lightly as possible while being given as much publicly-provided social and economic services as they need. On the other hand, the richest 156,000 or 0.7% of families had a cumulative income of Php356.9 billion in 2012 with an average annual income of Php2.3 million – taxing just an additional 20% of this income can raise Php71 billion. The next richest 170,000 or 0.8% of families had a cumulative income of Php198.4 billion with an average annual income of Php1.3 million – taxing just an additional 10% of this income can raise Php20 billion. So raising income taxes on just the richest 1.5% of Filipino families can already raise some Php91 billion. While the DOF often mentions “shared responsibility,” its tax reforms are conspicuously silent on taxing the super-rich’s massive wealth. For instance, there are reportedly at least 690 “ultra high net worth” Filipinos with at least Php1.4 billion in assets each. This includes the country’s 50 richest oligarchs who have a combined net worth of US$79.5 billion or Php3.8 trillion at current exchange rates and 14 of whom recently landed on Forbes’ World Billionaires list. The DOF is correct in pointing out “dire consequences [on] the lives of the poor and vulnerable” from “[losing] classrooms, teachers, rural health units, barangay health stations, provincial hospitals, paved roads, bridges and irrigated land”. For the sake of argument it can also be granted that greater infrastructure spending will increase economic activity and output at least in the short-term. It should however not look to the poor for the resources to finance these but to the rich, especially the super-rich, who have already benefited so much from the economy, from its infrastructure, and indeed from the labors of the poor themselves. 5) “Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion” – The truth: TRAIN deforms the tax system to become even more anti-poor and pro-rich. To “reform” is to make something better but, for all the reasons mentioned above, the DOF is not reforming the tax system. The tax proposals are even exclusionary in disproportionately burdening the poor while relieving the rich. To call the proposals “Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion” is then the biggest lie of them all. The Duterte administration’s tax reform program starkly reflects the country’s class divide and is neoliberalism in full play. The upper classes and foreign capital are clamoring to pay lower taxes and to have their infrastructure and other services paid for by the poor. The government is unfortunately complicit and doing all it can to deliver these benefits for a wealthy minority at the expense of the poor majority. Ruling elites should however be worried. The resulting further build-up of wealth in the hands of a few from reducing the incomes of the many will only increase social conflict and tensions, intensify class contradictions, and create the conditions for a great upheaval. The real reforms will come after this.

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