04 October 2015

APEC News Releases

Palace proud of Gilas Pilipinas’ silver medal in the 2015 FIBA Asia championship
Malacañang joined the entire Filipino nation Saturday in congratulating the men’s national basketball team, Gilas Pilipinas, for winning the silver medal in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship.

Gilas Pilipinas tried to conquer the odds against host country, China, during their finals match at the Changsha Social Work Colleges gymnasium but came up short in taking the gold.

Boasting a much taller lineup and home court advantage, China dominated the entire game wire-to-wire (78-67), thus getting an outright spot to the
31st Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil next year.

In a statement sent shortly after the game has been decided, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda conveyed that Gilas Pilipinas had nothing to be ashamed of in their loss.

“We join the Filipino people in celebrating Gilas Pilipinas’ silver medal finish in the 2015 FIBA Asia Basketball Championships,” Lacierda’s statement read.

“Throughout this tournament, our team displayed the Philippine brand of selfless, creative, passionate basketball, fuelled by the warm and vocal support of Filipinos at home and abroad,” he added.

Lacierda commended all Gilas Pilipinas players, the team’s coaching staff, and their supporters for never giving up on that elusive quest to once again represent our basketball-loving nation in the Olympic stage.

“Our people have shown the world what it means to be Filipino, and this serves as inspiration for all of us to work even harder in our respective endeavors, fulfill our individual potentials, and secure the national pride we have reclaimed, one success after another, in varying fields,” he said.

“We encourage all our countrymen to continue their support for our athletes in general, and for Gilas Pilipinas in particular, as they continue to pursue our collective basketball dream of landing a berth in the 2016 Olympics,” Lacierda concluded in his statement.

As runner-up in the competition, Gilas Pilipinas still has a chance to earn an Olympic slot should they make it to the top three in the 2016 Rio Olympic Men’s Basketball Tournament happening in July.

The Philippines will be joined by FIBA Asia bronze medalist Iran and fourth-placer Japan in the same tournament along with 15 other national teams from Europe, Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. PND (hdc)

APEC members agree on regional plan to ensure food security
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) Member economies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) agreed on Saturday on a food security plan contained in a declaration following the two-day meeting on food security here.

The policy declarations, which will be forwarded to the APEC economic leaders in November, have four priority areas: stock-take and food security roadmap toward 2020, sustainable development of agriculture and fishery sectors, facilitation on investment and infrastructure development and enhancing trade and market.

“Food security has come to be one of the most urgent and important challenges confronting the world especially APEC economies,” said Undersecretary for Fisheries Asis Perez, the chair of the APEC Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS) Meeting here.

The Philippines, a predominantly agricultural country, has focused on attaining food security and rice self sufficiency in the last five years under the Aquino administration.

This government goal coincides with APEC PPFS goal of attaining an institutionalized food system structure by 2020, that will ensure sufficient food supply for the entire region.

But having a secured supply of food goes beyond increasing production, Perez said adding it also involves enhancing producers’ competitiveness and having fair policy regimes that promote sustainable growth and recognize the participation of women, farmers and fisherman in the value chain.

Among the major agenda during the meeting is the major role that the private sector will play in assisting micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) production process, which is part of the PPFS 2015 work plan.

To push this regional agenda, the Philippine government has been working to bridge the gap between the public and the private sectors, especially in the agriculture and fishery sectors so that small entrepreneurs receive the necessary support as they become part of the value chain.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, under the Department of Agriculture, hosted the APEC 2015 PPFS meeting here in Iloilo City. PND (as)

APEC Business Advisory Council advisor highlights role of private sector in regional food security
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) The advisor for the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) reported a fruitful two-day discussion on food security here highlighting the role of the private sector in ensuring enough food in the region Saturday.

“We have completed two days of very active discussion, and it’s been a very dynamic and very vigorous meeting about a very important issue, the issue of food security,” said Anthony Nowell, the ABAC Advisor to the Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS) Vice Chair.

“The issue of food security in the region, not least for the Philippines, is a very big issue, it’s in fact an increasing issue, as the population of course of the planet grows very significantly through until 2050, where we project that we will have probably more than 10 billion people to feed on this planet,” Nowell said during the press briefing here.

Aside from the significant increase in number of the population in the Asia-Pacific region, another challenge is climate change, which threatens the region’s quest for food security.

As a member of the private sector from New Zealand, Nowell said he strongly advocated during the discussions the big role for the private sector in the issue of food security.

“The APEC Business Advisory Council or ABAC firmly believes that unless you have a private sector that is very well engaged, you don’t achieve food security because ultimately, our very capable bureaucrats, officials, can make all the right policies but you need the private sector and the investment to activate many of those policies,” he said.

Engaging private businesses to come in will make it sure that “food gets from your small fisherfolk and your small farmers through to the markets of the Philippines, the markets of the world,” he noted.

Member economies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) agreed on Saturday on a food security plan contained in a declaration after the two-day meeting on food security.

The policy declarations, which will be forwarded to the APEC economic leaders in November, have four priority areas: stock-take and food security roadmap toward 2020, sustainable development of agriculture and fishery sectors, facilitation on investment and infrastructure development and enhancing trade and market. PND (as)

Climate-related issues gaining ground in APEC discussions, says private sector representative
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) There is already an increasing consensus within the APEC region about climate-related impacts to food security, a representative from the private sector said.

In a press briefing on Saturday, Anthony Nowell, the ABAC advisor to the Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS) vice chair, said that when they developed the PPFS agenda in Iloilo, the El Niño phenomenon has not yet been pronounced.

So APEC member economies will likely take the PPFS agenda for next year when they meet in Peru.

El Niño Phenomenon not only affects the Philippines but also the entire Asia Pacific region, Nowell said, adding El Niño phenomenon is affecting not only the crops but also the fisheries as well.

New Zealand, Nowell’s home country, has likewise started to feel the impact of El Niño. While there’s a lot more rains in West Pacific countries, the east of New Zealand will experience dry weather, he said.

“We are a big dairy producer in the region. So it’s a big issue for us to manage,” he said.

“But in addition to the natural effect of El Niño vs La Niña, we have to also recognize the future impact of climate change. And that is becoming more and more part of our thinking, and that will be part of our future debate and discussions,” he said.

Although the increase in temperature, say 1 to 2 degrees Celsius can kill some crops, it can also create some advantage to some, for example in horticulture, he noted.

“Because the ability to grow horticulture products will probably increase when the heat increases. But in the dairy industry, it might impact negatively.”

Local scientists predict that El Niño will affect the Philippines in the last quarter of this year until the first quarter of 2016.

The weather phenomenon could have devastating effects in the country’s agriculture sector and the government has already laid out mitigating measures to be carried out by different government agencies. PND (as)

Fishery official recognizes challenges in fishery law enforcement
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) A Philippine fishery official said the government is doing everything to enforce fishery laws and monitor the country’s coastlines despite mounting challenges.

“There is a challenge for us in terms of monitoring our domain and sea. We have 7,100 islands, 36,000 kilometers of coastline and we have probably over 1.8 million fisher folks,” Fishery Undersecretary Asis Perez said in a press briefing on Saturday.

“So it’s a tough challenge for us to even manage our own waters, but the government is trying its best to be able to respond to this particular challenge, especially now that the administration is really focusing on sustainability,” said Perez, who is the vice chair of the APEC Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS).

Part of the Aquino administration’s 10-point agenda is eliminating all forms of unsustainable resource utilization believing that bad practices impact on government anti-poverty initiatives.

Another thrust of the Philippine government is participating in different fora like APEC to tackle policy issues to ensure sustainability in the Asia Pacific region’s marine resources, Perez said.

“Sustainability means increasing resiliency of our ocean, ensuring that there is protection of biodiversity at the same time, by working together, minimizing illegal or unregulated fishing within APEC economies,” he said.

These discussions at the international level is important because Filipino fishermen, especially the big ones, not just fish in the country’s waters, but also in the international waters.

There are around 100 Filipino-owned fishing vessels operating in the other parts of the world including the high seas and coordination with other countries is important so that Filipino fishermen do not violate international fishery regulations. PND (as)

Linking small with large producers could encourage private sector participation in food production, says private sector representative
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) APEC member economies could encourage increased private sector participation in financing and infrastructure development in food production by linking small and medium producers with big companies, a representative from the private sector said.

In a press briefing on Saturday, Anthony Nowell, the ABAC advisor to the APEC Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS) vice chair, said that opportunities must be created by getting u with the large companies to increase private sector participation.

“You start to see that in some countries. You start to work quite effectively, and if u can have a policy that encourages the micro and small medium to be working with the large, then you’re going to have more much success,” he said.

Nowell, a member of the private sector in New Zealand, said people with the money will only invest in infrastructure if they can see that it will work, and that there is value, so APEC member economies have to complete the whole supply chain to entice private businesses participation.

“You have to create the supply chain, and that’s the answer, I think to many of our developing countries, and that is to create more value. And as a result of that, you can have better food security, because people know that they can make a good living,” he explained.

Once this kind of regime is in place, people can do more, and they will do it better and more efficiently, and that’s good for the economy, he added.

But prior to that, Nowell said APEC economies must work for the participation of the micro, small and the medium entrepreneurs in the supply chain so that they become part of the production process.

Farmers and fisher folks should not be considered as small producers at the bottom of the chain but must be as entrepreneurs who are making a living.

“What we need to try to do is to bring those small stakeholders and fisher folks further into the supply chain, so they can participate in the supply chain because if you are familiar with the concept of a value chain, as we move from the ocean to the plate, the value increases.”

It is not just an increase in geometric fashion, but it tends to be exponential, according to Nowell, adding that farmers must move further up the supply curve to create more value.

APEC delegates and officials have just concluded Saturday their two-day meeting on food issues during the APEC Policy Partnership on Food Security. PND (as)

APEC leaders urged to adopt codex principle for harmonization of food standards
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) Leaders of the 21 member economies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) are urged to harmonize food safety standards to ease flow of food trade in the region by adopting principles of the Codex Alimentarius or the international standards for food.

In a press briefing concluding the Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS) Meeting here, PPFS Vice Chair Anthony Nowell mentioned that varying food safety requirements is one of the challenges to push free flow of food commodities in the Asia Pacific.

“Food safety is a huge issue across the region, and what is very important issue is, as far as we are concern, all of the countries of the Asia Pacific region ideally needs to be working on the same food safety principles,” said Nowell who is also the advisor for APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC).

Nowell however noted that this can be addressed by simply adopting the internationally-accepted food safety standards.

“We strongly recommend that [APEC] countries’ leaders push towards food safety regime across the Asia Pacific region that is based on the Codex principles which is international food safety and standard principles,” he stressed.

He cited that among APEC economies that significantly adopted the Codex standards are the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, and Canada among others.

However, other big economies like China have their own food standards.

“Some very large economies, like China, have develop their own approach… their own standards, and they found it a very complex task to change that, and maybe even philosophically, (which is) why they don’t totally buy in to the international standards,” Nowell said on the margins of the briefing.

“What we would like to see is that everything is what we called a level playing field. Because if you are exporting to 21 economies, you don’t want to have different rules. This will lead towards better trade and more guarantees for consumers,” he added.

He noted that adopting the Codex principles would not require monetary investments for economies — but just implementing the standards; thus, even developing economies in the region can implement.

Implementing Codex standard in a particular economy should not make food commodities expensive for the consumers.

“That [adopting Codex standards] should not have any fundamental differences to cost of food,” the PPFS vice chair said.

Nowell said the adaptation of Codex principles is a part of the food safety regime the PPFS will be recommending to APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting this November. PNA (kc)

Private sector to APEC: Open trade, not self-sufficiency, ensures food security
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) Promoting open and free trade — not self-sufficiency agenda — will help the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) achieve its goals toward food security in the region, an executive from the private sector said.

APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Advisor Anthony Nowell, in a briefing concluding the Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS) Meeting here, said the business community strongly disagrees with trade restrictions vis-a-vis self-sufficiency on food as this poses negative impacts both on trade and ensuring food security.

“I think we need to be careful about something like self sufficiency. Certainly from the private sectors point of view, the best way for you to have food security is to have an open market so you can buy what you need and you can sell what is surplus for you easily,” said Nowell who is also the PPFS Vice Chair.

He mentioned that implementing self-sufficiency programs on a particular commodity can drive up prices on the product.

Citing Indonesia’s beef self-sufficiency agenda, the executive said that beef prices in Indonesia are twice the price of beef in Japan.

“When you have El Niño effect coming in, you need to have the door wide open; you need to be buying and selling. We believe that should be happening every day, that you should have the freedom to trade, and that’s the best way to be secured,” Nowell said.

He noted that APEC economies should implement the right policies that will not impede trade and will ensure food security.

“So policies that can seem to be the right thing… Sensible policies around those issues are very important to achieve food security as well,” he stressed.

The ABAC advisor also said APEC economies can look into the concept of environmental competitive advantage which can help the attainment of food security goals in the region.

Nowell explained that the concept involves growing a certain product where conditions are more favourable in order to produce the product more competitively.

Citing Indonesia again, he said the country cannot establish naturally a beef industry due to conditions that can affect the production of beef.

On the other hand, New Zealand is a competitive area for dairy industry with its environmental conditions conducive for dairy production.

“What we are saying is open up the markets for dairy trade, go around the region and we can supply the high quality that you need and we will buy your products in return,” Nowell further said.

Food security is a crucial issue in the Asia Pacific region as this is home to 70 percent of the hungry population worldwide.

APEC also faces threats of climate change to food security, hence the need for further collaboration in ensuring safe, sufficient, and sustainable food among member economies. PNA (kc)

President Aquino attends funeral of close-in security
(KORONADAL CITY) President Benigno Aquino III has bid his final farewell to one of his closest close-in security aide, who died last September 26.

President Aquino, along with some of his Cabinet men, attended the funeral of Police Officer 3 (PO3) Ryan “Bong” Fuyonan in Barangay Panay, Sto. Niño, South Cotabato on Sunday, October 3.

The President first attended the funeral mass held at Panay Alliance Church and then proceeded to Norala Cemetery, where the remains of Fuyonan were laid to rest.‎

Fuyonan succumbed to pancreatic cancer last week. He was 43.

He was survived by his wife and seven-year-old daughter.

Among the Cabinet secretaries who also attended the funeral were Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Interior Secretary Mel Sarmiento, Mindanao Development Authority Chairperson Luwalhati Antonino and Presidential Management Staff Chief Julia Abad.

The burial was not open for media coverage as the family requested for privacy.

Last Monday, President Aquino also attended the necrological service for Fuyonan at the chapel inside the Presidential Security Group compound.

The Chief Executive gave an emotional eulogy when he thanked Fuyonan for ensuring his safety since his days in Congress.

He described his aide as “humble, trustworthy and efficient.”

In a Twitter post last week, Aquino’s sister, actress-TV host Kris, detailed how close Fuyonan was to her brother.

“Bong was with Noy since his days in Congress, from 2004, followed by the Senate in 2007, and Malacañang in 2010…Thank you to Bong for the unwavering loyalty and service he gave our brother for 11 years,” she said.

The TV host likewise revealed that the President even gave Fuyonan a church wedding before he died.

Fuyonan was one of the close-in security aides whom the President mentioned in his final State of the Nation Address last July.

He hailed Fuyonan for securing US President Barack Obama and Pope Francis during their recent separate visits to the Philippines. PND (jb)

Palace says DOH is on top of dengue outbreak, notes decline of cases in 10 regions
The Department of Health (DOH) continues to provide medical assistance to public hospitals attending to citizens affected by a flare-up of dengue in several parts of the country, Malacañang said on Sunday.

“Nakahanda rin po ang mga pampublikong pagamutan kung sakaling dumagsa ang (mga pasyenteng may) sakit na dengue sa mga lalawigan,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. told Radyo ng Bayan.

Coloma acknowledged that dengue cases increased in seven provincial zones, but he noted that such incidence has declined in 10 regions, according to DOH.

Among the regions with reported lower incidence of dengue in 2015 are MIMAROPA (1,646 to 1,346), Bicol Region (993 to 868), Western Visayas (5,718 to 3,756), Central Visayas (3,481 to 3,326), Eastern Visayas (4,508 to 737), Zamboanga Peninsula (4,743 to 3,891), Northern Mindanao (6,298 to 5,795), Davao Region (5,849 to 2,619), SOCCSKSARGEN (5,302 to 5,109), and Caraga (6,946 to 2,598).

Reports citing the latest nationwide data from DOH said dengue cases rose by 16.5 percent from January 1 to September 5 this year with a total number of 78,808 cases against the 67,637 cases recorded during the same period in 2014.

Coloma said the DOH is zeroing in on areas with mounting reports of dengue, comparing the figures from 2014 to 2015, and continues to monitor the situation.

“Hindi naman dapat magkaroon ng pagkabahala dahil masinsin ang pagsusubaybay ng DOH sa bagay na ito,” the Palace official emphasized.

Coloma underscored the importance of keeping our environment clean at all times to help prevent the spread of such disease. He said the DOH is already coordinating with local government authorities on this matter.

“Ang pinakamahalagang aspeto ay prevention. Kinakailangang mapanatili ang kalinisan ng kapaligiran para hindi magkaroon ng pamumugaran ang mga carrier ng dengue at ito ay inaasikaso ng DOH sa pakikipag-ugnayan sa mga local government authority,” he said. PND (hdc)

Environment Department offers plan of action to ensure sustainable fishery sector in Asia Pacific
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, one of the key agencies leading the APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and Blue Economy, laid out a action plan for APEC member economies to adopt.

“As your host for this meeting, we humbly offer a Plan of Action, which we encourage each of the APEC economies to implement,” Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said in his welcome remarksSunday during the opening of the APEC high-level policy dialogue.

The Plan of Action consists of three priorities each with a set of actions building on existing APEC commitments: Resilient Oceans, Coastal Resources and Ecosystems, and Sustainable Aquaculture; Fish Loss Reduction; and Agribusiness and Blue Economy.

Paje said the Plan of Action has undergone several revisions taking into consideration the valuable comments and suggestions from different member economies.

“I am hopeful that the Plan of Action of the APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and Blue Economy will be adopted at the end of this meeting,” he said.

At the same time, Paje underscored the importance of the region’s marine resources in achieving food security, noting that Asia Pacific accounts for two-thirds of the world’s capture fishery production and 80 percent of the world’s aquaculture production.

To sustain and improve the productivity of the region’s oceans, he said there’s a need to enhance the biodiversity of coastal and marine ecosystems.

“Healthy ecosystems support higher fishery production and provide better ecological services such as regulation of climate and disaster risk reduction,” the environment chief said.

“Hence, if we have healthy marine and coastal ecosystems, we can develop our brand of ‘Blue Economy'”.

The Philippines is hosting the APEC High-Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and Blue Economy, which started today and will go on until October 6 at the Iloilo Convention Center. PND (as)

APEC’s high level officials to establish policies towards food security
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) High level officials from member economies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) convene here in Iloilo City from October 4 to 6 to come up with feasible plans and policies to ensure food security in the region.

The High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and the Blue Economy (HLPD-FSBE) Meeting kicked okicked the Iloilo Convention Center on Sunday which is the concluding event of various meetings related to food security in the past week.

HLPD-FSBE Co-Chair Proceso J. Alcala said food security is one of the crucial issues in APEC as the region is the largest producer and consumer of food products globally.

Asia Pacific accounts for 60 percent of the global population. Likewise, the region is home to about 70 percent of the total hungry population globally.

Alcala, who is also the Secretary of Department of Agriculture (DA), has stressed that outcomes of the HLPD-FSBE Meeting should cover three priority areas that will lead to attaining food security goals of APEC including:

●improving resiliency of oceans, coastal resources and ecosystems as well as enhancing the sustainability of aquaculture by advancing sustainable management and conservation measures;

●reducing food loss and wastage by improving quantity, quality, safety and value of fish and fish products to ensure food security and sustainable livelihoods; and

●promoting inclusive growth in agribusiness and blue economy through market development and integrating small fishers and farmers into the global value chains.

The DA chief has also stressed the role of blue economy or the use of the sea and its resources for economic development to ensure food security in the Asia Pacific.

It was noted that the APEC region accounts for two-thirds of capture fishery production and 80 percent of the aquaculture production globally. The region is also home to nine of the top 10 fish producers in the world.

”It is indeed a big challenge for us to come up with responsive and feasible plans and recommendations that will substantially deal with ensuring the sustainability of the economic benefits we get from our seas,” Alcala added.

He mentioned that consumption of fishery products in the APEC region is 65 percent higher than the world average.

“However, it is truly a challenge to talk about food security and sustainable supply chain if our marine ecosystems are under threat of degradation caused by several factors including illegal, unreported and unregulated or IUU fishing and changing global climate patterns, among others,” he said.

“It is our hope that any policy we will develop in this meeting will always be rooted on protecting our resources on which our economies are built and will thrive,” the DA official stressed.

Meanwhile, HLPD-FSBE-related meetings that have concluded in the past week were APEC Seminar on Strengthening Public-Private Partnership to Reduce Food Losses in the Supply chain of Fishery and Livestock; Agricultural Technical Cooperation Working Group Annual Meeting; Forum on the Global Alliance for Agricultural Biotech Trade Model Policy on Low-Level Presence, and Genetic Modification and Organic Co-Existence Farming; HLPD on Agricultural Biotechnology; and Policy Partnership on Food Security. PNA (kc)

Lawmaker: Philippines will continue to contribute to Asia Pacific region’s food security
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) The Philippines has done its share in ensuring sufficient supply of food in the region by enacting laws and carrying out projects that boost food production, a lawmaker said here on Sunday.

In his opening message during the APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and Blue Economy, Senate President Franklin Drilon said that in the 2015 World Food Security Index, the Philippines ranked 72 out of 109 countries.

The index rated the country’s efforts related to food security as “moderate” performance, and this is a significant improvement.

He said that in the previous years, the Philippines had the highest prevalence of food insecurity among Asia’s emerging economies.

“The Philippines Congress has done its share by enacting laws to ensure food security. The Agriculture and Fishery Modernization Act (AFMA) seeks to develop the agriculture and the fishery sectors and make it more competitive,” he said.

Congress also amended the country’s fishery code to deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing as well as aligning the Philippines law with international conventions and standards.

On Monday, Drilon said the Philippine Senate will approve Senate Bill 2923, which declares large-scale agricultural smuggling as economic sabotage, a crime that carries heavy penalties including life imprisonment.

Once approved by the House of Representatives this will become law hopefully by the first quarter of 2016, he added.

“We have ongoing programs and projects that promote the conservation of the fishery and aquatic resources and we have provided the appropriate budget for that activity included in the proposed 2016 budget,” Drilon said.

The Bantay-Dagat program provides patrol boats for local governments to strengthen their capacity in curbing illegal fishing activities. Fisherfolks are provided training on various technologies in the culture of fish and other aquatic organisms.

The Philippine Development Plan for 2011 and 2016 affirms the significant role played by agriculture and fishery sector in the attainment of inclusive growth and poverty reduction, according to Drilon.

The Senate President also mentioned about the agriculture and fishery situation in the Visayas region, especially in Iloilo.

He said that in the western Visayas, they noted that last year, agriculture, forestry and fishing as a sector, contributed 22 percent of the regional gross domestic product (GDP) although the sector contracted by an average of 2 percent per year for the last three years.

“We hope to arrest this negative growth in our regional agricultural sector by 2020, when we put into operation the P11.2-billion Jalaur River Multipurpose Project here in Iloilo,” he said.

The dam construction will start by February next year, he said adding that it will be the biggest dam outside of Luzon. It will irrigate over 33,000 hectares of rice lands in Iloilo and will provide an additional 200,000 metric tons of palay per year, which will enhance the country’s food security.

He said he is aware of the challenge that threatens food security in the region and APEC discussions here in Iloilo will be an auspicious venue to debate and develop ideas that will address Asia Pacific region’s food needs.

The APEC region accounts for two thirds of the world’s capture fish production and 80 percent of the world’s aquaculture production.

The per capita supply of fish is 65 percent higher than the world average and APEC region consumes 70 percent of the world’s fish products, based on available data. PND (as)

Palace hopes Gilas Pilipinas gets better to qualify for the olympics
Malacañang is hopeful the national men’s basketball team, Gilas Pilipinas, will get better to accomplish its noble aim of bringing our country back on the Olympic stage.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. issued the statement Sunday as he personally extended his congratulations to Gilas Pilipinas after placing second in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship.

Host country, China, bullied its way to a 78-67 victory over the underdog Philippine team in a lopsided finals match held Saturday evening at the Changsha Social Work Colleges gymnasium.

In the process, China claimed the lone outright Asian berth to qualify for the 31st Summer Olympic Games hosted by Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, August next year.

Despite this setback, however, Coloma still believes Gilas Pilipinas will be able to recover and play better in the 2016 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament to earn a coveted spot in the Summer Games.

Nananalig tayo na sila ay makakapaglakas at makakapagsanay para matamo na ang pagbabalik ng Pilipinas sa 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games,” Coloma told state-run Radyo ng Bayan in an interview.

Kaya, muli, nakikiisa tayo sa pagsigaw ng ating mga mamamayan ng ‘Gilas Pilipinas, PUSO!’” added the Palace official, echoing the national team’s mantra.

Coloma said he is proud of Gilas Pilipinas’ performance in the recently concluded FIBA Asia Championship, as the players never backed down in every game even when the odds were against them.

Hindi sila nagpatinag at nagpasindak at nakipagsabayan (sila) sa kanilang mga katunggali sa lahat ng aspekto ng laro,” the Palace official said, adding our players gained the respect of many basketball enthusiasts as a result.

Ipinakita nila ang natatanging uri ng paglalaro ng mga Pilipino na magiting, marubdob, at puno ng puso na siyang dahilan upang umani ng paghanga at respeto mula sa mga pinakamagagaling na koponan sa Asya,” he said. PND (hdc)

Agri chief calls for doable plan that ensures sustainability of APEC region’s marine resources
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala called on APEC officials and delegates to strengthen cooperation within the APEC region to come up with responsive and feasible plans that will ensure the sustainability of region’s marine resources.

In his welcome remarks Sunday at the opening ceremony of the APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and Blue Economy at the Iloilo Convention Center, Alcala said the APEC members must work together to address challenges of ensuring food security and maintaining healthy marine and aquaculture ecosystem.

This is in the amidst of the threats of unsustainable fishing practices and environmental degradation aside from the impact of climate change.

Blue economy refers to a development approach anchored on sustainable development and utilization of marine resources and ecosystems in APEC region.

“Food is basic need,” the DA chief said. “As one community, we ought to put strength and ideas together to ensure that there will always be safe and nutritious food on the plates of our citizens.”

As APEC economies benefit from the bounties of the Pacific Ocean, they must also share responsibility in protecting and conserving this marine resources not only for today’s population but also for future generations, he said.

Alcala co-chairs the two-day meeting with Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, which forms part of lead up activities to the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting (AELM) in November this year in Manila.

“This forum, I believe, is one of the most significant APEC meetings as this seeks to address primary concerns most relevant to our people such as hunger, general health and well-being,” Alcala noted.

Paje, in his message, expressed optimism that the forum would come up with policy commitment such as making the oceans, coastal resources and ecosystems more resilient and the aquaculture industry more sustainable; working together to reduce food loss and waste; and promoting agribusiness and blue economy.

The High Level Policy Dialogue provides a venue and opportunity for decision makers from the government and the private and business sectors from APEC member economies to harmonize policies conducive to economic growth of the region.

The forum, scheduled October 4 to 6, aims to build a consensus on action plan on food security and blue economy. The plan will to be endorsed to the APEC economic leaders in their meeting in November.

A series of related meetings were held earlier in Boracay, Cebu and this city to provide inputs to the high level dialogue.

As APEC delegates craft policies for the leaders’ approval, Alcala said those guidelines must incorporate measures that protect the natural resources and ensure the sustainability of people’s livelihood. PND (as)

APEC delegates finalize food security policy statements
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member-economies have agreed on food security policy statements for consideration during the APEC Leaders’ Meeting in November.

The policy declarations, made public on the culmination of the two-day APEC Policy Partnership on Food Security (APEC-PPFS) Meeting held here, focused on four priority areas, which the member-economies adopted. They include Stock-take and Food Security Road Map Toward 2020, Sustainable Development of Agriculture and Fishery Sector, Facilitation on Investment and Infrastructure Development and, Enhancing Trade and Market. The delegates also finalized their food security projects and activities for this year.

“What we want to achieve in APEC and the PPFS meetings is an adequate supply of safe and nutritious food for the Asia-Pacific region–everything in the statements is driven from that in one way or another,” said PPFS Vice Chair and APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Advisor Anthony Nowell in a press briefing over the weekend.

With regards to Enhancing Trade and Market, Nowell said it was all about the question of “how to give better opportunities to your fisher folk, to your rice farmers but also the dairy farmers in New Zealand or the agriculture farmers in Thailand to get their product more effectively to the market and with better value.”

“If they do not get better value then they would not have the encouragement to produce the amount of food that is required,” he said.

Food safety is also a huge issue across the region, said Nowell. “How do we get safe food right across the region.”

Another very important issue, he said, is that all the countries in the Asia-Pacific region ideally needs to be working to the same food safety principles.

“We strongly recommend that countries and that the leaders push towards a food safety regime across the region that is based very much on the codex principles which is the International Food Safety and Food standards principles,” the ABAC advisor stressed.

Global data standards is perhaps the most sophisticated issue that the PPFS focused on, said Nowell,

Today, almost every product people pick up has a bar code which, he said, is driven by global data standards.

“The more we can use global data standards on food products the more we are able to ensure the food that you are receiving and eating is authentic, that you know that it is properly produced, that you know where it actually comes from who it says it comes from, that you know it is actually beef and not horse meat which in some parts of the world we have problems of food fraud,” Nowell explained.

The PPFS also focused very much on investment in the supply chain for food, investment in technology, investment on infrastructure “whether it be roads, ports or railways all of those issues that are required to support a good food trade.”

He said technology is likewise a big one for the PPFS.
“Technology has many different strands to it. we talked about agricultural technology, how we can make the productivity of the rice farmers better, how we can make the productivity of the aquaculture operator better but also we talked more and more about new technologies,” Nowell pointed out.

Those new technologies, he said, “can be innovative, they can be things like synthetic biology and of course a very sensitive issue is the issue of genetic modification and how genetic modification will or will not become part of the future of feeding the planet.”

“The issues are many and varied and of course not every economy has the same emphasis as the other economy so at times its an interesting discussion,” Nowell noted.

Presiding PPFS Chair and Philippine Undersecretary for Fisheries Asis G. Perez said during the meeting’s opening ceremonies that food security has come to be one of the most urgent and important challenges confronting the world, especially APEC economies.

Perez, however, explained that food security goes beyond increased food production. He said it involves enhancing the competitiveness of the economies’ agriculture and fisheries and fair policies that promote sustainability and growth among the many stakeholders particularly small holders such as women, farmers and fishermen.

Among the salient matters discussed during the meeting is the reinforcement of private sector’s participation particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which is included in the PPFS 2015 Work Plan. (APEC Communications Group)

Business groups urge APEC economies to invest in cold-chain systems for food products
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) Developing countries of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) should invest in cold-chain systems for food products in order to reduce waste and improve food security, the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) said.

ABAC member Anthony Nowell told the APEC forum on food security that while refrigeration is a short-term issue, it is “surprisingly” not well-developed among some APEC economies.

“And that’s the major reason why we lose fish, we lose fruits, we lose dairy products,” said Nowell, also a member of the Board of Food Standards of Australia-New Zealand.

The 40-percent food loss and waste noted in APEC member-economies is a “huge loss to the population, to the grower, and a huge cost to the economy,” he said.

Governments should disseminate cold-chain technology and urge investors to build refrigeration systems in places rich in resources, Nowell said, adding that this would bring farmers and fisher folk closer to the market.

Governments should also make fishing ports accessible to nearby markets and make exporting viable, said Asis Perez, APEC-Policy Partnership on Food Security chair and the Philippine undersecretary for fisheries.

Making fishing ports accessible to markets would increase the value chain and boost the farmers’ and fisherfolks’ competitiveness in the global market, he said.

To make private sectors invest in fishing ports, ABAC’s Nowell advised governments to first improve the value and quality of the infrastructures involved in food production and distribution. (APEC Communications Group)