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Filipino land grab doubles to 2 million hectares

March 28, 2018 Leave a comment

“Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neil [sic] instantly offered 100,000 hectares for planting even starting tomorrow, but can develop easily 2 million hectares in government lands for rice farming with irrigation.”

The problem is, the PNG government doesn’t have even 100,000 hectares of land, let alone 2 million hectares. So whose land are they going to use – and how many Filipino rice farmers are we going to allow into the country?

See also:

Filipino’s on their way to claim 1 million hectares

O’Neill and Allan stitch up another huge land grab

On Piñol’s idea to rise with rice in Papua New Guinea

Source: Michael Makabenta Alunan – Business Mirror

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol’s proposal to “export” Filipino private sector-led rice-farming systems to Papua New Guinea may have raised condescending eyebrows from economists and agriculture experts, but his novel strategy can perhaps open up vast potentials and unintended opportunities.

Thinking out of box? Piñol, a boxing aficionado early on in his career, even as a former journalist, long before he joined politics, was thinking out of the box when he proposed to bring high-end Filipino rice-farming systems to Papua New Guinea.

Only over a week ago, Piñol went to Papua New Guinea, a British Commonwealth Realm, and got its Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to commit to come over to meet with President Duterte sometime in May and possibly cement bilateral economic commitments, followed by a treaty that can institutionalize any mutually beneficial arrangements.

However, top-notch economists and agricultural planners led no less by former Socioeconomic Secretary Dr. Cielito Habito and former Agriculture Secretary William Dar have criticized Piñol, asking two valid questions: 1) Why focus on “rice self-sufficiency” when we cannot compete against Thailand’s and Vietnam’s production costs of rice at P5 to P6 per kilo against P10 to P12 per kilo in the Philippines? Many economists would therefore advise to give up the elusive goal of self-sufficiency, and settle instead for food security while focusing on higher incomes from other high-value cash crops and livelihood activities; and 2) Why go to Papua New Guinea when we have more problems locally?

Can’t do away with rice yet. Speaking on March 22 before the 2017 Philippine Agricultural Journalists Inc. and San Miguel Corp.’s BINHI Agricultural Journalism Awards, Piñol argued we cannot simply abandon rice self-sufficiency, unless Filipinos change their diets and reduce their rice consumption.

For the poor, who survive on a hand-to-mouth existence, 80 percent to 90 percent of their income is spent on food, the bulk on rice to fill their hungry stomachs and less on real food. A study by Professor Jeyakumar, a rice dietary expert and one-time fellow of the International Rice Research Institute, noted that obesity of Westerners like the Americans is caused by almost 40 percent in high-fat diets, compared to Asians, whose average diets are composed of 67 percent carbohydrates, mostly rice, and only 21 percent fats. For the dirt poor, rice may even share as much as 90 percent of their diet.

As our traditional sources of rice imports, Vietnam and Thailand are also vulnerable to climate change with Thailand devastated by a tsunami years back, Piñol claims we must continue aiming for rice self-sufficiency and developing alternative sources like Papua New Guinea.

It’s no “Guinea pig,” it’s real! Piñol argues the rice-farming potentials in Papua New Guinea are real and tremendous based on actual pilot results. This makes Piñol’s idea no longer a “guinea-pig experiment,” referring to how scientists use rodents or laboratory rats, popularly called “guinea pigs.”

Actual rice-farming experiments done in Papua New Guinea yielded 8.5 metric tons per hectare, even without fertilizers, even double our national average yield of 4MT per hectare, he revealed in conversations while seated at the BINHI awards.

The reasons for this are 1) Papua New Guinea is blessed with good rainfall with its remaining lush forests and watersheds as evidenced by its vast rivers as wide as a kilometer, and easily diverted to feed irrigation canals; and 2) Papua New Guinea’s farm soils are vastly virgin and rich, unlike Philippine rice lands that are already toxic from four to five decades of chemical fertilizer and pesticide usage.

All the land to offer. Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neil instantly offered 100,000 hectares for planting even starting tomorrow, but can develop easily 2 million hectares in government lands for rice farming with irrigation.

“PNG has only 8 million people and over 46.28 million hectares of land, mostly forest and agricultural lands, compared to our 105 million and 30 million hectares, respectively,” Piñol said.

Rice farming will mutually benefit both countries. Rice farming will be done exclusively by the private sector, but can tap Filipino workers. Any excess produce can be exported cheap to the Philippines, and any excess exported worldwide. For Papua New Guinea, producing its own rice is novel, as it had long been sourcing rice from former surrogate colonizer, Australia, which allegedly imports cheap rice from Vietnam, then sells it to Papua New Guinea by as much as P100 per kilo.

Pursuing the Papua New Guinea option is logical for Piñol, as we have limited rice lands of 4.8 million hectares. In fact, only 3.9 million hectares are planted to rice, of which only 1.2 million hectares have irrigation, the remaining 2.7 million hectares are rain-fed areas producing only once a year at low yields.

New sites, new sights? As an island archipelago, we have fewer flat lands suitable to rice producing thrice a year, but more sloping mountain areas with mixed eco-systems, including adjacent marine and mangrove areas. Piñol added traditional rice sites like Luzon and Bicol are ravaged yearly by 21 typhoons a year.

We won’t abandon these areas, but we need to develop new sites like Palawan, Samar, Agusan, Zamboanga, Davao, Basilan and Soccsksargen and, of course, in Papua New Guinea.

Piñol declared earlier that even former warzones in Mindanao and portions of military reservations like Fort Magsaysay’s 46,000 hectares, can be converted to production areas. This will realize the biblical phrase of “converting swords to ploughshares,” which we can call transforming arms into farms.

While Piñol is confident of hitting 100-percent rice self-sufficiency by 2020, he says the growing population will overtake our capacity to produce. Thus, the need to develop new sites, and the urgency to keep our sights on new ideas, new technologies and even achieve unintended opportunities, which, ironically, are the very intended targets of our economists and experts. As we gain from new sites, old sites may slowly shift to non-rice, but more profitable commodities and other agro-processing ventures.

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Illegal Logging Site Shut-Down, Asians Jailed

March 16, 2018 3 comments

BY NELLIE SETEPANO, Post Courier

AN illegal logging company operating in Northern Province was shut down and 13 Asians without work permits were locked up at the Popondetta cells.

Northern Province Police have confirmed the shutdown of the illegal logging company known as Northern Forest Products at Collingwood Bay, Wanigela with thousands of logs and heavy equipment impounded. All logs and equipment will be moved to Oro Bay.

Provincial Police Commander Chief Inspector Lincoln Gerari said police had acted on advise from National Forest Authority to move onto the site and shut it down after its illegal operations on 45,000 hectares state land that consists of portions 135, 136 and 137.

“We moved in last Friday and caught them off guard, the Asians were cooking pumpkins, and then fled into the bushes and our men went after them,” Gerari said.

When caught, the men complained that they were never fed properly and or paid by the site manager since arriving last September.

Police said the loggers arrived with no legal entry permits and are now arrested and charged under the Employment of Non-Citizens acts 2007. Aged between 28 to 50 years; 12 of the men are from Malaysia and one from Indonesia. This section provides for prohibition of employment without valid work permit. Separately, the site manager was charged for stealing logs on state.

According to police, the provincial government had a keen eye on the operations of the company that had entered into a partnership with landowner group called Aiso [Assor] Development Corporation under the pretext of doing agricultural business and growing cash crops like cocoa.

Northern Governor Garry Juffa who has been aware of the illegal operations and had brought the issue to the attention of National Forest Authority and ensured the shut down happened. He also visited the site after the raid and confirmed the shutdown.

Mr Juffa talked to the villages and assured those involved will be prosecuted.

The governor has been vocal about illegal aliens operating in the province and vowed to remove them.

How the elite profit while a nation suffers their incompetence

February 19, 2018 2 comments

Port Moresby, a city where the elite profit while the rest suffer the consequences of their incompetence

Imagine a company that is in debt, heavily in debt and still racking up more losses.

Imagine a company that in 2016 alone lost over K354 million.

Imagine a company where the total liabilities exceed the total assets by more than K218 million.

Imagine that this is a company set up by the government to manage a nation’s interests in its abundant mineral resources.

Now imagine no more and say hello to Kumul Minerals Holdings Limited, formerly Petromin PNG Holdings Limited.

The two numbers above are from Kumul Minerals Holdings latest Annual Return, which is for the 2016 financial year.

How could a company that, according to Statute, is supposed to be the commercial enterprise that participates in mineral exploration, development, production, processing and marketing activities on behalf of the State, be run into near bankruptcy?

But never fear, the Directors, the people responsible for this appalling state of affairs, are still profiting handsomely.

While the company was racking up losses of K354 million in 2016 alone its Board members were still taking a handsome pay packet:

Director

Remuneration

Brown Bai

K 159,759

Ian Goddard

K 211,337

Jerry Wemin

K 126,227

William Searson

K 102,654

Richard Tengdui

K 99,809

Issac Lupari

K 68,232

Peter Pokawin

K 23,959

Arunavu Basu

K 182.816

Peter Graham

K 59,028

Stanley Lira

K 33,129

Richard Kuna

K 34,379

In total K1,101,329 paid to eleven men [yes, all men, no room here for gender diversity let alone equality] many, if not all of whom, already occupy other well paid jobs.

K1.1 million paid for overseeing losses of over K354 million, losses that were almost three times greater than in the previous year, 2015 (K133 million).

And the excess does not end there. In addition to the Board remuneration, Kumul Minerals Holdings had 10 staff who earned more than K100,000 each in 2016.

One of those staff earned over K920,000, two more over K620,000, another over K450,000 and one over K300,000. Two more earned over K270,000.

In total, Kumul Minerals Holdings paid its staff just under K9 million in 2016 and spent a further K1.5 million on consultancy and professional fees.

Who is ultimately responsible for this negligent mismanagement of our nations mineral wealth, and the looting of an empty pot?

Well it has to be the trustee shareholder does it not? The person who effectively owns the company on behalf of the nation, who is none other than one Peter O’Neill.

It seems our trustee is not doing a very good job!

Disgraced judge Bernard Sakora resigns in latest move to avoid justice

February 12, 2018 6 comments

Disgraced Judge, Justice Sakora, has resigned to avoid facing court

Having seemingly already wriggled out of one corruption charge in the criminal courts, Justice Sakora has now resigned as a Judge [see story below] in order to close down formal misconduct investigations against him, by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, and a separate Leadership Code Tribunal, instigated by the Ombudsman Commission.

Sakora’s criminal charge was in relation to his role in preventing the publication of the findings of the Commission of Inquiry into the Department of Finance which first revealed the role of Paul Paraka and his law firm in scamming millions of kina from the government. It is alleged Sakora received K100,000 from Paraka in return for granting the injunction. 

During the Finance Inquiry hearings, Sakora also granted an injunction to Messrs Gelu, Lupari and Lui, stopping investigations into their role in the Paraka scams. The injunctions were withdrawn after an appeal by the Commissioners.

Sakora was also recently heavily criticised by the Supreme Court over his awarding of almost K18 million in damages to Peter Yama and a further K5 in costs.  Both orders were revoked by the Supreme Court.

As the Leadership Tribunal investigating Sakora, which has been sitting since August and includes a New Zealand judge on the panel, will now have to be abandoned, the Justice Minister should reveal how much the Tribunal has cost.

Yet more tax payers money wasted while another white collar criminal walks free!

PNG Attorney General reveals judge’s resignation

Justice Minister and Attorney General, Davis Steven has revealed the resignation of senior judge, Justice Sir Bernard Sakora from the National and Supreme Courts.

In a statement today, Minister Steven says, he has advised the prime minister of Justice Sakora’s resignation.

The senior judge has given 25 years of service to the nation, making him the second longest current serving judge to the Deputy Chief Justice Salika.

Mr Steven says Justice Sakora resigned on his own accord, to take rest from public office.

Sir Bernard leaves a legacy behind in his strong punctuation of academic reasoning, and his grammatical flair sets his recorded decisions apart.

Minister Steven thanked Sir Bernard for serving the judiciary and the country as a judge.

The resignation of Justice Sakora effectively terminates formal investigations into misconduct allegations against him, initiated by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, and a separate Leadership Code investigation process, instigated by the Ombudsman Commission.

NBC News/ PNG Today

Paraka Fails To Stop Court Proceedings [again!]

December 20, 2017 1 comment

Lawyer Paul Paraka

See also:
The Paraka scams – K780 million stolen from the people
Top PNG lawyer Paul Paraka arrested over $28m

BY TONY SII, Post Courier

LAWYER Paul Paraka’s bid to stop criminal proceedings against him at the committal court has failed yesterday.

This was after magistrate Cosmas Bidar refused an application by Paraka’s lawyer seeking orders for the court to stay the committal court proceedings in relation to the much-publicised Paul Paraka saga pending hearing and determination of a related matter in the National Court.

The application filed under section 5, 9, and 22 of the District Court Act was described as a delay tactic in advancing the criminal case against Paraka and that the reasons put forward were not convincing Mr Bidar said, adding that section 22 of the Act was misconstrued.

“The application is basically using a civil process to stay criminal proceedings. The practice in my view is improper and it should not be allowed,” he said.

“Just because Paul Paraka, the principal accused in the allegations involving payment of Paul Paraka Lawyers’ legal bills by the Department of Finance, has a judicial review application before the National Court, which to date since filing of the application, no steps have been taken to diligently prosecute that application first of all for seeking leave and secondly the application proper.”

That high court application sought to review the committal court’s decision of April 27.

Mr Bidar said Paraka is facing distinct and separate criminal charges relating to the allegations and that this should proceed through the committal process.

“A committal process has ample and sufficient checks and balance system to protect the accused person’s rights.

“In any event, the committal process is transitory, non-conclusive and tentative process which should be allowed to take its course,” Mr Bidar said.

The matter returns to court on February 13 next year.

Meanwhile, the case on former finance secretary Steven Gibson in relation to the substantive matter was adjourned to February 28 for oral submissions on evidence.

Ten month delay on Manumanu inquiry is unacceptable

December 18, 2017 Leave a comment

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has been vocal in the media recently telling anti-corruption warriors to be patient and wait for the results of an administrative inquiry into the alleged illegal Manumanu land deals – transactions involving millions of kina in state funds and hundreds of hectares of land.

See also:

But it has already been ten months since the scandal erupted in the media. It was early February when the Prime Minister promised three investigations, a Commission of Inquiry (later downgraded to an Administrative Inquiry) a police fraud squad investigation and an Ombudsman Commission inquiry.

Now the Prime Minister says the Administrative Inquiry is yet to complete its investigations and the results will be known in an ‘appropriate timeframe’ but given no clue as to what that means.

Meanwhile the people implicated in the scandal and their party are back at the heart of government and the police and Ombudsman Commission are completely silent.

Justice delayed is justice denied and we are all victims of government corruption; corruption that O’Neill is happy to see continue while he sits on his hands.

Cash strapped government moves Environment Dept into plush new office

November 15, 2017 3 comments

Peter O’Neill’s cash strapped government is moving it Conservation and Environment Protection Authority into plush new office accommodation in one of Port Moresby’s premier real estate developments.

The Savannah Heights complex on Waigani Drive is the new home for both CEPA and its sister organisation, the Climate Change Development Authority.

The two organisations will occupy the whole eight floors in one Savannah Heights tower; quite a step up from CEPA’s old accommodation in the B-Mobile building further down Waigani Drive.

The new accommodation costs are clouded in secrecy, but it is believed the government is paying at least K1,200 per square metre per month. With CEPA and CCDA spread over eight luxurious floors that could mean a bill of around K2 million a month or K24 million a year.

Other estimates have put the costs as high as K3.5 million a month or K42 million each year.

CEPA staff are rather bewildered by the move as CEPA relies on generous grants from aid donors like the United Nations and Japanese and Australian governments to maintain many of its functions.

Inside the new CEPA / CCDA building