06 OCTOBER  2015

Inflation dips anew to lowest level in September 2015
Philippine Tourism Secretary to Open PATA New Frontiers Forum 2015
DSWD aids families affected by typhoon ‘Kabayan’ in Ilocos and Central Luzon
DSWD’s Near Poor Forum wins Best Statistical Activity Award
DepEd celebrates teachers as living heroes, culminates World Teachers’ Day
Palabyab remains as PTTC head
Bottom-up Budgeting Summit for the Visayas opens in Cebu today
Segment of the Berlin Wall to be Unveiled at the National Museum
PHL Ambassador calls on New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister
PHL Embassy assists inactive Filipino Youth in Italy to register for possible employment and other Skills-Building Activities
SSS cites ILO for role in social protection of typhoon-hit workers
Paje seeks greater cooperation to achieve inclusive development in Asia Pacific region
World Bank gives satisfactory rating to gov’t rural dev’t project
APEC 2015 PPFS Meeting Concludes in Iloilo City
800 Surigao del Sur farmers now landowners
Ayala Bridge closed in four (4) weekends of October
Ex-CDO Mayor indicted over refusal to heed civil service order
Four illegal aliens arrested

Inflation dips anew to lowest level in September 2015
Source: http://www.neda.gov.ph
MANILA – Tempered price movement in food, power, and oil rates pushed inflation to another all-time low of 0.4 percent in September 2015, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported today that headline inflation rate recorded its lowest level, easing further to 0.4 percent in September 2015 from 0.6 percent in the previous month and from 4.4 percent in September 2014.

“We expect the current low inflation environment exhibited in the first nine months of 2015 to persist throughout the rest of the year, more so, as international oil prices continue to remain low and are not expected to increase significantly in the near term,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.

Inflation in the food subgroup continued to ease in September 2015, (0.7% from 1.1%) following slower price adjustments in majority of its sub-items such as breads and cereals, fish, fruits, and rice. The declining prices of regular milled rice due to sufficient supply partly supported the downward trend in overall food prices. On the other hand, meat (0.4% from 0.3%) and vegetables (2.3% from 2.0%) exhibited slightly faster upward price adjustments relative to the previous month.
Non-food inflation also declined (-0.2% from 0.2%) resulting from the sustained lowering of prices of electricity, gas, and other fuels.

Meanwhile, core inflation—which excludes selected volatile food and energy prices—slid further to 1.4 percent from 1.6 percent in August 2015 and 3.4 percent in September 2014. Core inflation in the first nine months of 2015 averaged at 2.1 percent.

“The slowdown of core inflation further indicates that prices across a broad range of consumer items continue to remain stable,” the Cabinet official said.

Inflation for the National Capital Region (0.1% from 0.2%) and other regions in the country (0.4% from 0.8%), were also restrained in September 2015 relative to the previous month.

Balisacan noted that while low oil prices are likely to provide a cushion to upside inflationary pressures, government should remain wary of the upside risks to inflation such as the current El Niño episode in the country.

“Government must ensure that food supply is sufficient by improving the level of inventories and efficiency of the distribution system. Continued monitoring of drought occurrence in agricultural areas is necessary to ensure timely policy actions, including importation of rice and other basic commodities to augment domestic supply,” Balisacan said.

The NEDA Director-General added that expanding agriculture support structures from production areas to the demand centers will also further bring down the cost of transporting goods and services.

As the El Nino intensifies, Balisacan said that the government may consider increasing the number of agricultural workers as potential beneficiaries in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program to offset farm output losses. He said government must also ensure that access to finance in the agriculture and fisheries sectors remains unhampered.


Philippine Tourism Secretary to Open PATA New Frontiers Forum 2015
Source: http://www.tourism.gov.ph
The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is pleased to announce that Hon. Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr., Secretary of the Philippine Department of Tourism (PDOT), will deliver the opening address during the PATA New Tourism Frontiers Forum 2015 at the Oriental Hotel in Legazpi, Albay, Philippines from November 25-27. The event is being generously hosted by the Provincial Government of Albay in partnership with The Department of Tourism, Philippines.

Secretary Jimenez, who is responsible for the country’s highly successful tourism campaign, It’s More Fun in the Philippines, will speak on the “Successful Destination Marketing Campaign – Trend in this digital economy”.

“This forum is timely and relevant as we step up our marketing efforts for our destination-based campaign and as we launch Visit the Philippines Again (VPA) 2016 –which is going to be the most massive retail-focused effort the Philippines has ever made. Destination marketing is a daunting task as it involves selling an experience, both tangible and intangible. The Philippines prides itself of having a unique biodiversity, rich natural resources, and wide variety of product offerings for tourists. But most of all, we have the Filipino people—the country’s most important asset—to thank for, who serve as the PDOT’s partners in building our brand and fulfilling the promise of a more fun Philippines,” Tourism Secretary Jimenez said.

Mr. Mario Hardy, CEO, PATA, said, “We are extremely delighted to have Secretary Jimenez open the event, as his experience and expertise on how to market a destination is something all industry stakeholders should learn from, especially when trying to market a new emerging destination. In addition to Secretary Jimenez, we have a very broad and dynamic range of speakers confirmed for the event, and delegates can be assured of coming away with practical skills and knowledge to take back and apply to their organization, especially through the Technical Tour and Tourism Marketing Treasure Hunt.”

PATA is also delighted to announce that Mr. Joey Sarte Salceda, Governor, Provincial Government of Albay, Philippines, will be providing the closing address on “Ecotourism – Transcending Climate Change”, the theme of this year’s PATA New Tourism Frontiers Forum.

Governor Salceda said, "Albay is globally recognized by United Nations as the model for adapting to the impacts of climate change. After suffering 46% damage in 2006, the province quickly recovered by using tourism as one of its principal tools for reconstruction with foreign tourists rising from 8,700 in 2006 to 339,000 in 2014. In the same period, it built 320 kilometers of roads to provide access to new and unique destinations. As host of PATA 2015, Albay shares this unique experience giving hope and guidance in transcending the inevitable effects of climate change."

Governor Salceda has gained a well-deserved reputation for his commitment to Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation. In his inaugural speech in 2013, after his election for a third consecutive term as Governor, he said that ‘our goal is to become the most liveable province of the Philippines known for good education, good healthcare and good environment where people are healthy, happy, employed, and live full lives’.

Confirmed speakers for the event include Ms. Chloe Harvey, International Coordinator, Green Fins/Reef World Foundation; Ms. Maeve Nightingale, Manager, Capacity Development, Mangroves for the Future, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Asia Regional Office, Ecosystems & Livelihoods Group; Mr. Andy Cornish, Global Shark Programme Leader, WWF International; Mr. Sylvain Gianni, General Manager, Asiaventure Services; Mr. Willem Niemeijer, Founder & CEO, Khiri Travel Co., Ltd.; Mr. Struan Robertson, CEO, SpiceRoads Cycle Tours; Mr. Lucas M. Nunag, Owner, Amarela Resort and Chairman of Bohol Provincial Tourism Council; Mr. Masato Takamatsu, Managing Director & Chief Research Officer, Japan Tourism Marketing Co.; Mr. Masaru Takayama, Founding Chair, Asian Ecotourism Network; Mr. Jon Nathan Denight, General Manager, Guam Visitors Bureau; Mr. Al Linsangan III, Executive Director, The Coron Initiative and Director, Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.; Mr. Damian Cook, Founder & Managing Director - E-Tourism Frontiers and Chairman Local Ocean Trust; Ms. Lisa Pagotto, Founder, Crooked Compass & Railbookers; and Ms. Sarah Mathews, Head of Destination Marketing - APAC, TripAdvisor.

The Forum will explore various topics including Climate Change Mitigation and the Role of Tourism, Marine Tourism & the Implications for Water-Reliant Operations, Global Adventure Travel Trends, ASEAN for Adventure: Where Boundaries are Endless, Crisis Management & Risk Reduction for New Destinations, and the Power of Ecotourism: Best Practices & Models for Implementation.

Furthermore, the last session on Interactive Marketing – A Treasure Hunt will allow delegates to explore how to make a destination discovered in the dynamic world of digital, mobile and new travel behaviour, using tools and insights gained from the previous day’s Technical Tour and Treasure Hunt.

Delegates attending the PATA New Tourism Frontiers Forum 2015 will land in the “City of Fun and Adventure” – Legazpi City in the province of Albay in the Philippines – known for its perfectly cone-shaped Mayon Volcano, once a nominee for the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Albay is a United Nations Global Model for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation. It is ranked among the 1st Class Provinces in the country and among the fastest growing tourist destinations in 2013. Legazpi also recently hosted the UNWTO-ASEAN International Conference on Tourism and Climate Change.

To learn more about the PATA New Tourism Frontiers Forum 2015 or to register for the event as a media delegate, visit www.PATA.org/ntff2015.


DSWD aids families affected by typhoon ‘Kabayan’ in Ilocos and Central Luzon
Source: http://www.dswd.gov.ph
As ‘Kabayan’ moved out of the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) continues to coordinate with the local government units and Provincial Action Teams (PAT) validating and assessing the families with reported totally and partially damaged houses.

A total of ₱2,234,464.00 worth of relief assistance were provided where ₱54,000.00 was given by DSWD, and ₱2,180,464.00 was given by the LGUs of Region III as of 5 October 2015, 2PM.

There are reportedly 875 damaged houses in Aurora Province, where 89 were totally damaged and 786 were partially destroyed.

To date, about 11,298 families or 55,056 persons were affected where 1,781 families or 8,320 persons are inside seven evacuation centers in Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Zambales, while 2,408 families or 12,269 persons are outside evacuation centers.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said that all disaster teams in DSWD-Field Offices are ready to provide technical assistance to LGUs along relief distribution and management of evacuation centers.


DSWD’s Near Poor Forum wins Best Statistical Activity Award
Source: http://www.dswd.gov.ph
The Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) advocacy forum dubbed as​, “People at the Edge: Defining the Near Poor of the Philippines”​, was awarded as Best Statistical Information Dissemination Activity in the 25th National Statistics Month (NSM) Awards.

This is the first recognition received by the Department under the NSM awards.

NSM Awards is an activity incorporated in the annual NSM Celebration. It recognizes the efforts of government agencies, local government units, academic institution, media and the private sector in promoting and instilling appreciation for statistics through activities they conduct in support of the NSM.

The awarding was held during the Opening Ceremony of the 26th NSM at the Heritage Hotel in Pasay City on October 1, 2015.

I​nitiative to address ​near-​poor ​challenge

The Department’s advocacy forum, which was conducted on​ October 7, 2014, featured a presentation by Dr. Vicente Paqueo, Asian Development Bank (ADB) consultant and author of the near poor study entitled​, “Analysis of the Near Poor Challenge and Strategy Development Ideas”.

He presented the results of his study to a panel of experts in the field of social statistics and economics, who included Dr. Mahar Mangahas of the Social Weather Stations, Dr. Ana Maria Tabunda of Pulse Asia​, and Mr. Romeo Recide of the Philippine Statistical Authority, to gather inputs, comments and support on the crafting of a near poor policy.

“The Department initiated this study on the near poor to enable us to come up with a policy that will allow us to identify them and provide the necessary assistance to keep them from becoming poor,”said DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman.

The study defines the near poor as non-poor families who have a high probability of becoming poor when faced with shocks and disasters.

The comments and suggestions by the participants and panelists were integrated into the draft joint resolution between the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cabinet Cluster (HDPRC) and National Economic and Development Authority-Social Development Committee (NEDA-SDC),​ adopting the near poor definition of households within the 10% above the total poverty threshold. The resolution also specifies the DSWD’s Listahanan as the source of names and statistics on near poor.


DepEd celebrates teachers as living heroes, culminates World Teachers’ Day
Source: http://www.deped.gov.ph
Recognizing the vital contribution of Filipino teachers in institutionalizing educational reforms in the country, the Department of Education (DepEd) and its partners celebrated this year’s World Teachers’ Day (WTD) at Araullo University in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija on October 5.

Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro FSC emphasized the great responsibility of every teacher in preparing the Filipino youth to be better equipped for the world. He said, “If all the teachers in the country start to move as one, we will start the biggest revolution in education.”

“The revolution in education is a revolution that will change the country and bring about all of the dreams and hopes of our young people... If you want to transform our country, we need living heroes,” he added.

Themed as “My Teacher, My Hero,” this year’s celebration highlighted the integral role of educators as prime movers and catalysts to extend the last mile efforts of DepEd and the K to 12 education reform for the delivery of quality education.

The event which gathered around 4,000 public school teachers from Regions I, II, III, and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) culminated the month-long celebration to express the education agency’s sincere gratitude for teachers’ important role in institutionalizing the reform efforts of the Department.

President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared September 5 to October 5 every year as National Teachers’ Month (NTM) through Presidential Proclamation 242 signed in 2011.


Palabyab remains as PTTC head
Source: http://www.dti.gov.ph
Nestor P. Palabyab stays as the head of the Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC), an attached agency of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Palabyab was recently appointed as PTTC’s Executive Director III by President Benigno S. Aquino III. Earlier, he took the leadership of PTTC as officer-in-charge on August 2012.

Palabyab joined PTTC as Deputy Executive Director in March 2010.

Prior to his stint at PTTC, he was the Division Chief of the ASEAN Other Asia DTI-Bureau of Export Trade Promotion (now Export Marketing Bureau) for ten years. He also conceptualized, designed and guided the implementation of DTI’s Halal Export Trade Development Program that created awareness among stakeholders on the intricacies of accessing the USD 150B halal global trade, and has conducted training sessions on export promotion for Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA). He also worked as investigator for trade remedies with the DTI- Bureau of Import Services (BIS) and participated in negotiations for the Rules of Origin in Brussels, Belgium.
Palabyab is a Career Executive Service Officer (CESO), and has completed the capacity-building program for CESOs and conferred third level eligibility with the rank CESO III. He was a DTI-Trade and Investment Promotions Group nominee as best manager for 2012.

Aside from his government service, Palabyab had a six-year stint with the hotel and restaurant industry in both supervisory and administrative capacities.

He is a part time Lecturer in the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Foreign Service Institute, and the College of International Relations of the Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU).

He completed his Masters in Business Administration in 1993 at the De La Salle University, Bachelor of Arts in Economics in 1980 at the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Manila, and Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Administration in 1976 at UP Diliman, Quezon City. Recently, he underwent training on Green Economic Development from July 14 to 19, 2014 in Berlin and Brandenburg, Germany, and is one of the Department’s green advocate.


Bottom-up Budgeting Summit for the Visayas opens in Cebu today
Source: http://www.dbm.gov.ph
Region VIII, the poorest region in the country following the onslaught of Yolanda, is the region with the highest budget allocation for Bottom-up Budgeting (BuB) projects in the Visayas, Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad said as the fourth leg of the BuB Summit opens in Cebu to highlight and track the progress of the government’s participatory planning and budgeting process.

“The Yolanda-devastated poor in the provinces of Leyte, Southern Leyte, Samar, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar and Biliran are the intended beneficiaries of the BuB projects in Region VIII. This is why it has the highest funding among the four regions in the Visayas. As a truly grassroots and democratic tool for the people to engage the government to fund their priorities and thereby increase their access to local service delivery, it makes sense that more funds will go to those that need it most,” the budget chief said.

Region VIII has an allocation of P1.87 billion this year to support the implementation of 1,150 projects, up from P1.83 billion and P622 million in 2014 and 2013, respectively. The BuB allocation for Region VI, VII, and Negros Island are P1.28 billion, P1.52 billion, and P907 million, respectively.

According to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the poverty level in Eastern Visayas grew to 54.9 percent in early 2014 from 45.2 percent in 2012, following the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda, which hit the region in November 2013.

Meanwhile, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the economy of Eastern Visayas suffered a reversal as it recorded a 2.3 percent contraction in 2014, from a 4.5 percent growth in 2013. This can be attributed to the lingering effects of the Yolanda devastation.

Secretary Abad also said that contrary to what critics say about BuB as a tool for patronage politics, “the BuB as a program has managed to strengthen community-decision making across the country and delivered concrete projects that improved the quality of life of people.”

“Regardless of political affiliation or parties, the BuB projects are implemented and their effects are felt in communities in many parts of the country. This is the result of successful partnerships between LGUs and CSOs. We hope to build on these successful partnerships to further expand the program and drive participation forward. The real and concrete outcome of this program is strong democracy and strong communities,” he added.

The Visayas BuB Summit will present the status of the P19.98-billion worth of BuB projects in the islands, ranging from projects first implemented in 2013 to those proposed for 2016. The discussions will tackle strategies to drive participation in the BUB planning process, enhance CSO and LGU partnerships, and speed up BuB project implementation.

In the 2015 budget, the BuB program has a budget of P20.9 billion covering 1,590 municipalities and cities nationwide. The Aquino Administration proposed a budget of P24.7 billion in the 2016 National Expenditure Program (NEP) to support the implementation of more than 14,300 BUB projects across the country.

Under the 2015 budget, Visayas received a total of P5.57 billion for 3,634 projects. For 2016, a total of P6.71 billion is proposed to support the implementation of 3,366 projects. The following is a breakdown of the amount and projects allocated to Visayas each year:

Year 2013 2014 2015 2016 (proposed) Total
Budget Allocation P1.92B P5.77B P5.57B P6.71B P19.98B
Number of Projects 1,311 5,229 3,634 3,366 13,540

Preceded by other BUB summits recently held in Manila, Subic, and Davao, the Cebu BuB Summit had been convened by the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC). It is supported by the departments of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Budget and Management (DBM), Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The summit is held at the Montebello Villa Hotel in Cebu until October 8. Some 300 to 500 participants from civil society organizations (CSOs), national government agencies (NGAs), and local government units (LGUs) are expected to attend.


Segment of the Berlin Wall to be Unveiled at the National Museum
Source: http://www.dfa.gov.ph
5 October 2015 – A segment of the historic Berlin Wall will be unveiled at the National Museum on October 07 to commemorate the 61st anniversary of the establishment of Philippine-German diplomatic relations.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario will formally unveil the wall segment in a simple ceremony, which will be attended by guest of honor Parliamentary State Secretary Madame Brigitte Zyproes at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

Erected in 1961, the Berlin Wall divided the City of Berlin into the Communist East and the Democratic West. Its collapse in November 1989 proved to be a crucial moment in German history, paving the way for the country’s unification.

Diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Germany were established in 1954. In 2014, total trade reached US$5.3 billion, making Germany the Philippines’ biggest trade partner in Europe.


PHL Ambassador calls on New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister
Source: http://www.dfa.gov.ph
06 October 2015 – Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand Virginia H. Benavidez called on New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully at his office in Parliament on September 16. Also present during the call were Mr. Stephen Harris, Divisional Manager of the South and South East Asia Division and Mr. Lawry Perrott, Policy Officer of South and South East Division of New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), and Minister and Consul General Arlene Gonzales-Macaisa of the Philippine Embassy in Wellington.

Foreign Minister McCully warmly welcomed Ambassador Benavidez and stated that he greatly appreciates the Ambassador’s hard work in maintaining and building Philippines-New Zealand relations during her time as Ambassador to New Zealand. The Foreign Minister said that the relationship of the two countries is in a good space with high level visits and contacts on both sides continuing, as well as with the significant numbers of Filipinos working in all sectors of the economy in New Zealand.

Ambassador Benavidez highlighted the key enablers of the strength of the relations between the Philippines and New Zealand, namely, the considerable increase in high level exchanges, the visit of President Benigno S. Aquino III to New Zealand in 2012, concrete cooperation in the defense sector, and the upcoming inaugural direct flight service of Philippine Airlines to New Zealand on December 01. She also stated that the Philippines’ and New Zealand’s warm and strong ties are underpinned by its people-based relationships. There are now close to 44,000 Filipinos in New Zealand, growing and thriving in its multicultural society.

Foreign Minister McCully acknowledged that the dairy industry, which is the mainstay of New Zealand’s economy, is heavily dependent on Filipino workers and he sees this continuing into the future. He also cited the fact that Filipino workers are now a dominant force and integral part of the long-term rebuild of Christchurch and that local authorities, companies, and employers acknowledge and appreciate the valuable contribution of the Filipino workers participating in the city’s rebuild and reconstruction, as well as in health and other sectors.

The Foreign Minister also stated that Philippine Airlines direct flights to New Zealand will be a big step forward and a game changer for the progress of Philippine-New Zealand relations.

Foreign Minister McCully expressed his personal best wishes to Ambassador Benavidez and Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario. The Foreign Minister stated that Ambassador Benavidez should be proud of what she has achieved during her time in New Zealand. Ambassador Benavidez conveyed her deepest appreciation and personal thanks to the Foreign Minister for the very warm hospitality and friendship extended to her by the Government and People of New Zealand during her memorable, meaningful and momentous diplomatic assignment for the past four years.


PHL Embassy assists inactive Filipino Youth in Italy to register for possible employment and other Skills-Building Activities
Source: http://www.dfa.gov.ph
06 October 2015 – The Philippine Embassy in Rome, in cooperation with the Associazione Stranieri Lavoratori in Italia (ASLI) or the Association of Foreign Workers in Italy, organized a “Seminar for Inactive Youth” on October 04, principally targetted at Filipino youth migrants from 15 to 29 years old who fall under the category of NEET or “Not in Employment, Education and Training.”

The seminar presented, in detail, how the Italian government is implementing the EU Council decision to establish a “Youth Guarantee” program in all EU countries to ensure that the youth receive a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, apprenticeship or traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education.

In his opening remarks, Philippine Ambassador to Italy Domingo P. Nolasco stated that the Embassy, in organizing the seminar, takes cognizance of the challenges faced by Filipino youth migrants, specifically in the education and labor sectors. The Ambassador conveyed the Embassy’s commitment to facilitate and support initiatives and projects that directly assist young migrant Filipinos in their integration efforts in the Italian society.

Ambassador Nolasco also provided an update on current migration realities to Italy such as high unemployment rate among youth, continued restriction in the entry of foreign workers due to the economic crisis and the entry of increasing number of dependents or holders of family reunification visas, rather than working visas.

ASLI President Pia Gonzalez highlighted the importance of the Integration Agreement and provided a situationer of the Filipino youth in Italy. ASLI Executive Information Officer Flora Ventura explained the administrative function of Centro per L’Impiego (Center for Employment of the City of Rome) in facilitating not only unemployment benefits but also job-seeking efforts. ASLI’s Liza Bueno elaborated on the Italian Youth Guarantee Implementation program, its objectives and step-by-step processes.

John Michael Caputol, a youth representative, also shared with the participants his experience and success in securing employment through the program. At the end of the seminar, ASLI assisted the youth-participants to register online for the Youth Guarantee program.

In his closing remarks, Ambassador Nolasco reminded that, in this era of globalization, the traditional path of education from primary to university is not the only key to finding a job. He advised the youth to be globally competitive by (1) enrolling in online courses to develop skills responsive to the needs of the labor sector, and (2) putting value on multilingualism –that is, fluency not only in Italian but also retaining Filipino and learning English. The need to sustain engagement with young Filipinos in Italy, with increased participation of their parents and/or guardians, was acknowledged. In this regard, the Ambassador assured there will be future seminars and interventions for the Filipino migrant youth.


SSS cites ILO for role in social protection of typhoon-hit workers
Source: https://www.sss.gov.ph/
The Social Security System (SSS) gave the International Labour Organization (ILO) the SSS Balikat ng Bayan Special Citation in recognition of the ILO?s efforts to provide social protection for thousands of workers in areas devastated by typhoons Yolanda (Haiyan) and Ruby (Hagupit) through subsidies for SSS contributions and opportunities for emergency employment.

Photo shows ILO Disaster Response and Livelihood Development Officer Simon Hills (center) receive the certificate from top SSS officials, namely (from left) SSS Senior Vice President (SVP) for Accounts Management Group and Balikat ng Bayan Awards Committee Chairperson Judy Frances See, Social Security Commission Chairman Juan Santos, SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio de Quiros, Jr., and SSS SVP for National Capital Region Operations Group Jose Bautista during the awarding ceremonies held at the Ramon Magsaysay Hall of the SSS main office in Diliman, Quezon City on September 18.

The SSS Balikat ng Bayan Awards is held every September as part of the pension fund?s anniversary celebrations. The SSS marked its 58th year of service last September 1.


Paje seeks greater cooperation to achieve inclusive development in Asia Pacific region
Source: http://www.denr.gov.ph
Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje on Sunday called for greater cooperation among 21 member economies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to unlock the full potential of the so-called "blue economy" and achieve inclusive growth in the region.

"We envision a regional cooperation to narrow the gap in economic development of our economies while sustaining growth with equity," Paje said in his opening remarks during the APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and Blue Economy at the Iloilo International Convention Center in Iloilo City.

The forum, scheduled from October 4-5 is co-hosted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture.

Paje underscored the need to narrow the economic gap among APEC nations, noting that the region currently "comprise economies at varying levels in the development spectrum."

"There is a need for us to cooperate and address this wide economic gap," the environment chief pointed out.

Paje said the two-day forum provides "an opportunity to discuss concrete and feasible actions to advance sustainable management and conservation of our coastal and marine ecosystems and habitats, and improved biodiversity to support higher fisheries productivity and provide better ecological services."

He said the focus of the meeting is anchored on one of the four priority themes of the host country of this year's APEC meetings, the Philippines, which is "Building Sustainable and Resilient Communities."

This specific theme, he explained, contributes toward the three other themes, namely: the enhancing of regional economic agenda, fostering the participation of small and medium enterprises in regional and global markets, and supporting and investing in human resources.

"We firmly believe that these initiatives will expand our efforts in making the theme of the host economy APEC Philippines 2015 'Building inclusive economies, building a better world’ a reality," Paje said.

Paje said that harnessing the blue economy is most important in the Asia Pacific considering that the region's marine resources account for two-thirds of the world's capture fishery production and 80 percent of the world's aquaculture production, making them vital in achieving food security.

He said an important way of sustaining and even improving the productivity of our oceans is "improving the biodiversity of coastal and marine ecosystems" as healthy ecosystems "support higher fisheries production and provides better ecological services such as their important contribution to regulate climate and to disaster risk reduction."

"If we have healthy marine and coastal ecosystems, we can develop our brand of 'Blue Economy' defined as an approach to advance sustainable management and conservation of ocean and coastal resources and ecosystems and sustainable development, in order to foster economic growth," Paje stressed.

The APEC dialogue aims to produce a plan of action that would keep the coastal and marine ecosystems resiliency and ensure sustainable food supply chains.

The action plan tackles three priority areas: resilient oceans and coastal resources; fish loss production; and agri-business development.

"The plan of action has undergone several revisions from the important and valuable comments and suggestions from different member economies," Paje said.

"I express hope and confidence that the proposed 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 added.


World Bank gives satisfactory rating to gov’t rural dev’t project
Source: http://www.da.gov.ph
The World Bank accorded the government's Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) a “satisfactory” rating during the exit conference of the month-long First Implementation Support Mission to the Project on September 18, 2015.

The rating was determined after the WB team had assessed the PRDP’s implementation on the ground. The team visited on-going Infrastructure (I-BUILD) sub-projects and proposed enterprise development (I-REAP) sub-projects, and consulted with beneficiaries, proponent groups and other stakeholders during the cluster missions.

In a wrap-up meeting with the World Bank consultants and specialists, Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso J. Alcala expressed his appreciation to the World Bank team for acknowledging the satisfactory implementation of the project.

He likewise recognized the need to sustain the rural development innovations that the PRDP is working on.

“Indeed, the DA has proven that the implementation strategies and measures we had put early on are in still in good place," Alcala said adding that the innovations must be sustained. Despite the project's satisfactory performance, the Agri chief notes that there are still aspects in the project that the department and its local partners need to work and improve on.

“With the able support from the World Bank and the DA leadership, we are positive that we can deliver better tasks and outputs for the enhanced implementation of the project. Our shared enthusiasm with LGUs as implementation partners is certainly greater than the challenges we have to hurdle, together,” he added.

World Bank Portfolio and Operations Manager for the Philippines Agata Pawlowska, who delivered the report of Task Team Leader for PRDP Samik Sundar Das lauded the PRDP implementers for the quick implementation of the project, as well as its healthy project portfolio, considering that it was just signaled effective in December last year.

“After just nine months, you have continued the strong start-up and momentum of project implementation,” Pawlowska continued.

World Bank Task Team Leader for PRDP Carolina Figueroa-Geron stressed that at US$501.25 million (P27.48 billion) and US$7 (P287 million), the PRDP is the biggest World Bank single investment to the Philippines.

“The PRDP continues to be the vehicle of the DA to change the way it does business with the various stakeholders such as local government units, farmers’ and fishers’ groups [and the] the private sector, among others, in the agriculture sector,” Geron added.

During the mission, which commenced on August 24, the World Bank team met with the heads and personnel of PRDP’s Project Support Offices (PSOs) and Regional Project Coordination Offices (RPCOs) and discussed the current set-up of PRDP’s implementation on the ground. The World Bank also checked if tools, processes and monitoring systems in the sub-project sites are in place.

Two proposed sub-projects in Palawan and Bohol under the I-REAP component with Global Environment Facility (GEF) funding were also visited.

Under the GEF financing, the DA-PRDP aims to assist enterprise development initiatives in GEF-identified areas while strengthening fisheries resources management and biodiversity conservation.

The PRDP, implemented under the DA, is the government's main platform for rural development. It aims to operationalize local level convergence among agricultural stakeholders to synergize programs and projects for modern, climate-smart and market-oriented agri-fishery sector that benefits the greater segment of farmers and fishers. (Catherine Nanta, DA-PRDP)


APEC 2015 PPFS Meeting Concludes in Iloilo City
Source: http://www.da.gov.ph
On the culmination of the two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Policy Partnership on Food Security (APEC-PPFS) Meeting in Iloilo City on October 3, 2015, the APEC member-economies agreed on food security policy statements for consideration during the APEC Leaders’ Meeting in November.

The policy declarations focused on four (4) priority areas, which the member-economies adopted such as 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.

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

In the Philippines, a predominantly agricultural country, food security and staple sufficiency has been the Aquino administration’s priority agenda for Agriculture sector since it started in 2010. This coincides with the APEC PPFS goal to attain a food system structure by year 2020, which is sufficient to provide lasting food security to APEC economies including the Philippines.

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.

The Philippine government for its part has been incessantly working on effectively bridging public-private partnerships, most notably on agriculture and fisheries sectors where entrepreneurs who wish to engage on agriculture or fisheries are provided with necessary assistance and support.

The APEC 2015 PPFS Meeting was hosted by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of the Department of Agriculture (DA-BFAR). (DA-BFAR-IPRG)


800 Surigao del Sur farmers now landowners
Source: http://www.dar.gov.ph
Farmers in Surigao del Sur got an early Christmas gift as the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) awarded certificate of land ownership awards (CLOAs) to 802 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs).

DAR Regional Director Julita Ragandang, together with Municipal Mayor Candelario Viola, Jr. recently led the distribution of 1,715 hectares of agricultural lands to farmer beneficiaries in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur.

“Now that you own the land, be responsible and make it productive and progressive. We at DAR will provide you with support services to help you achieve this,” Ragandang said.

Mayor Viola explained that land reform “is not just giving lands. The government will also provide projects and programs to help farmers develop their lands and uplift their livelihood.”

Ragandang expounded on Viola’s statement and explained that the department is following a method wherein simultaneous with the processing of the CLOAs, different support services would be facilitated, such as agrarian credit from Land Bank, agri-extension from DA, farm machineries from DAR and other assistance that would help strengthen the farmer beneficiaries and their cooperatives.

Farmer beneficiary Sanny Basigsig expressed his gratefulness after receiving his CLOA. “Now that I own this, I no longer need to worry about my rent for the use of the land.”

Another beneficiary, farmer Edilberto Barrios, said the land title gives him peace of mind “This is a dream come true. Now I have something to leave my children when I die.”

ARCs are group of barangays with farmers awarded by DAR with lands and with convergence of development initiatives from the national and local governments, private organizations and foreign donor communities. -Pinky Roque

Photo 1: Regional Director Julita Ragandang speaks before farmer-beneficiaries during the DAR’s distribution of certificate of land ownership awards in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur.

Photo 2: Farmer-beneficiaries show their CLOAs together with: Municipal Agrarian Reform Program Officer Javier Galaura, Jr., RD Ragandang, Mayor Candelario Viola, Vice Mayor Cristina Camba, Provincial Governor Johnny Pimentel, Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer Benjamin Mataksil, Agrarian Reform Program Technologist Gilbert Jolejole, Provincial Assessor Edwin Acebedo and Official from the tax bureau.


Ayala Bridge closed in four (4) weekends of October
Source: http://www.dpwh.gov.ph
Vehicular traffic will not be allowed at Ayala Bridge in Manila in the next four (4) weekends of October 2015.

The Department of Public Works and Highways disclosed that post-tensioning and dampers installation works will require full closure of Ayala Bridge every Fridays at 10 PM through Mondays at 5 AM specifically between October 9 to 12, October 16 to 19, October 23 to 26, and October 30 to November 2.

Ayala Bridge will be one (1) outer lane open in each direction for light vehicles during weekdays wherein additional lane in each direction may be opened by October 16-31, 2015 as work progresses.

DPWH Secretary Rogelio L. Singson said that Ayala Bridge is expected to be fully opened to vehicular traffic by November 2, 2015 following the completion of post tensioning activities, a method of introducing internal forces or stress to the high strength steel or cables after the concrete placement.

When construction related activities on top of the bridge are completed, vehicular movement will be allowed as remaining works such as welding and sandblasting will be done under the bridge that will be completed on December 23, 2015, added Singson.

The 139-lineal meter bridge with a total superstructure width of 25 was lifted by 70 centimeters for freeboard clearance of navigating vessels along Pasig River.

The lifting of the bridge, first in the Philippines, commenced last April 22 utilizing heavy lifting system which is being used to lift bridges, buildings and other structures worldwide.

In the past, Ayala Bridge was susceptible to damage from passing barges and tugboats because of limited freeboard clearance and also at serious risk from seismic or earthquake forces inasmuch as it was subjected to major repair 58 years ago (1957).

The retrofitting works at the Ayala Bridge in Manila will be compliant to the latest seismic design when fully completed.

To ensure that the four lane steel truss-type Ayala bridge will be earthquake-resistant, two (2) seismic engineering tools namely the high-damping rubber bearing and base isolation were utilized at the bridge rehabilitation project.

Installation of high-damping rubber (HDR) bearings will allow the bridge to absorb energy in case of lateral earthquake by transforming energy to heat while the use of base isolators is intended for the bridge to survive a devastating seismic impact by dividing the bridge’s fixed connections to substructures and placing roller bearing on sides of the bridge to make way for movement.


Ex-CDO Mayor indicted over refusal to heed civil service order
Source: http://www.ombudsman.gov.ph
The Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause to indict former Cagayan de Oro city mayor Vicente Emano for his willful refusal to implement a final and executory decision of the Civil Service Commission (CSC), in violation of Section 67, Book V of Executive Order 292 (Revised Administrative Code of 1987).

The case stemmed from a complaint filed by Administrative Assistant III Leonor Esparcia who was transferred and detailed to the city library as Watchman resulting to the diminution of her rank or status. Aggrieved, Esparcia challenged her transfer before the CSC which ruled that she should be restored to her original position.

Emano failed to file an appeal and refused to implement the CSC directive.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said that Emano’s failure to appeal within the prescribed period rendered the decision final and executory. Hence, there is ground “to hold respondent criminally liable under Section 67, Book V of E.O. 292 that imputes criminal liability against any person who violates or refuses to comply with its provisions and implementing rules."

“As respondent willfully refused to implement it, perforce, the penal clause of E.O. 292 applies,” the Resolution added.


Four illegal aliens arrested
Source: http://www.immigration.gov.ph
Manila, Philippines – Four overstaying foreign nationals were arrested in separate operations on September 29 and 30 at Tagum City, Cavite, and Marilao, Bulacan.

Gregory Cue King (American), Raynaldo Roman (American), Peter Smith Bjarnason (Kiwi), and Isaac Agyei (Ghanian) were arrested pursuant to the “Sa Immigration Magsumbong” informants program, where concerned private citizens may send information about overstaying or undocumented foreign nationals through a text message. All were found to have no valid stay in the country, in violation of Section 37(a)(7) of the Philippine Immigration Act.

“This indicates strong public involvement in our drive against illegal aliens. Since the inception of the program last year, we were able to arrest 82 foreign nationals,” said BI spokesperson Elaine Tan.

Concerned individuals may send in their tips by texting “SIM <full name of foreign national> <complete address> <name of informant>” to any of the following mobile numbers:

(0908) 894-6644
(0932) 894-6644
(0917) 573-3871

Information leading to the arrest of the foreign national shall entitle the informant to an incentive of Php 2,000.00.