20 DEC 2014

DOTC 2014 year in review: Aviation, NAIA upgrades top achievements
Customs stuns G-Shock smugglers with court charges
PNP presses for gun-free yuletide season
GSIS offers calamity loan in Cotabato, Palawan
BSP issues three new limited edition commemorative coins
Misamis ex-Gov convicted of malversation
Sandiganbayan suspends Zamboanga board member
No placement fee for New Zealand jobs
Rehab assistance to Zamboanga siege victims continues – Sec. Soliman
Foreign portfolio investments yield net inflows in November
MAR, ERAP sign Trust Fund for Manila Housing Projects
Safest Christmas' about to come - Roxas
PHL Embassy joins Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Diplomatic Corps to raise funds for Syria
64 Participants complete Financial Education Seminar Workshop for Filipinos in Geneva
Agri programs best with support from farmers’ organizations, coops—Alcala
2014 agri achievers bridge gap towards AEC ’15

DOTC 2014 year in review: Aviation, NAIA upgrades top achievements
Source: http://www.dotc.gov.ph
Transport agency vows progress in railway projects in 2015

Manila, Philippines – With 2014 coming to an end, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) says that it has been a banner year for the country’s air transport sector, while noting that it will have to sharpen its focus even further on railway developments in 2015.

“2014 has been decorated with noteworthy achievements in our aviation sector: from getting the nods of the US FAA and the European Union, to the start of full operations at NAIA 3 and the notable improvements at NAIA 1, we are proud to say that it has been a good year for air transportation,” said DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya.

“We look forward to more airport accomplishments in 2015, but we will give special attention to much-needed upgrades for land transportation next year, especially for our rail lines,” he added.

Tasked with the job of modernizing transportation systems which have been largely barren of improvements in the past 15 to 20 years, the transport agency had the following major achievements this year:

Air Transportation Sector

The year opened in January with the start of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 Rehabilitation project, a P 1.3-Billion effort to ensure the building’s structural integrity since this necessary undertaking had never been done in its more than 30 years existence.

NAIA 1 has been rated as one of the world’s worst airports in past years, but with 40% completion of its structural rehabilitation and its mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, and architectural works this month, passenger experience at the terminal has been noticeably increased.

The NAIA 1 Rehab project will be 95% complete by the end of February 2015, with some finishing works not affecting passenger areas to be completed by May.

The month of April saw the simultaneous upgrading of the Philippines’ aviation rating by the United States Federal Aviation Authority (US FAA) from Category 2 to Category 1, and the lifting of the European Union ban against Philippine aircrafts operating in their continent.

These landmark achievements spearheaded by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) indicated that the country’s aviation safety standards had met international criteria, and paved the way for the mounting of more Philippine-US and Philippine-Europe flights.

Also in April this year, the DOTC awarded its first airport Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project under President Benigno S. Aquino’s administration: the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) project, which entails the construction of a new world-class international terminal by 2018 and the refurbishment of the existing terminal building by 2019.

The 25-year concession was bagged by the GMR-Megawide consortium, which bid to undertake the project with a premium payment of P 14.4 Billion in favor of government. The consortium formally took over operations at MCIA last month, and promised to launch immediate service improvements within its first 3 months of management.

During the following month, the transport agency awarded the design-and-build contract for the Puerto Princesa International Airport, another major destination for foreign tourists. The US$ 82.9 Million contract funded by the Korean government was awarded to the Kumho-GS joint venture, which has until the end of 2016 to construct new passenger and cargo terminal buildings, aprons, taxiways, and a new air navigation system.

Still in May, a newly-built modern passenger terminal building was opened at the Clark International Airport, boosting its capacity by 1.5 million passengers annually. The P 417-Million improvement project increased the terminal’s size from 11,439 square meters to 19,799 square meters, and added new service facilities.

By the beginning of August, full airline operations were launched at NAIA Terminal 3, a much-needed development which was 17 years in the making. This was made possible by the airport’s original contractor, Takenaka of Japan, which agreed with the DOTC in August 2013 to complete unfinished works after legal complications delayed the project’s implementation over a decade ago.

This enabled the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) to start the transfer of the 5 biggest airlines from NAIA 1 to NAIA 3, substantially decongesting the former by 3.5 million passengers per year, and restoring it to its design capacity of 4.5 million annual passengers.

Delta Airlines was the first to transfer to NAIA 3, with its first aircraft arriving in the evening of July 31st. This was followed by Cathay Pacific, KLM, and Singapore Airlines in August and September, while Emirates moved in the month of October, featuring the arrival of its A380 carrier.

Also in October, the DOTC’s rehabilitation project for the Tacloban Airport was completed, restoring and improving on the facility after its destruction by Typhoon Yolanda less than a year prior.

In November, the installation of night landing equipment at the Laguindingan Airport was completed, enabling evening flights to begin within the year.

Finally, 2014 is ending with the agency starting the bid for the enhanced operation and maintenance (O&M) contracts for 6 airports in the Visayas and Mindanao under the PPP program. These are the Iloilo, Bacolod, Davao, Puerto Princesa, Bohol, and Laguindingan Airports.

Apart from these projects, the DOTC is also working on the new Bicol airport in Daraga, the new Bohol airport in Panglao, and the development of Sangley airport as a primary gateway to Manila in the long-term.

Rail Transportation Sector

Contrasting the numerous achievements in aviation was the railway sector, which was largely associated with multiple glitches and service interruptions at the Metro Rail Transit III (MRT-3) line, along with the unfortunate overshooting incident in August 2014.

The year began with the awarding of the concession for the Automatic Fare Collection System (AFCS) PPP project in January. This project will provide a common tap-and-go ticketing scheme for the MRT-3, along with the Light Rail Transit Lines 1 and 2 (LRT-1 and LRT-2), by September 2015 at the latest.

This project, which will lessen queuing time and allow for seamless transfers between rail lines, resulted in a winning bid of P 1.088 Billion in premium payments from the AF Consortium.

This was followed shortly by the award of the contract for the supply of 48 brand-new light rail vehicles (LRVs) for MRT-3 in February 2014, after the expiration of a temporary restraining order (TRO) secured by MRT Holdings II against the project. The DOTC has repeatedly stated that this expansion project – which will increase the railway’s capacity from 540,000 riders per day to over 900,000 – is the true solution to the long lines.

The prototype unit is expected to be delivered and tested in September 2015, which will be followed by the delivery of 3 to 4 additional LRVs per month until completion sometime towards the end of 2016. This project will increase the number of train sets from 3-car configurations to 4-car configurations, and lessen intervals between trains from 3 minutes down to 2.5 minutes.

In March, the Philippine National Railway (PNR) opened 2 new stations in Cabuyao and Mamatid in Laguna, extending the reach of its commuter service further in order to serve the transport needs of daily travelers to and from Manila.

Then in April, the DOTC awarded its largest PPP project thus far, the PhP 65 Billion LRT-1 Cavite Extension project, which will extend the current system by 11.7 kilometers from Baclaran southwards to Niyog in Bacoor by 2019. This will again provide hundreds of thousands of expected riders with convenient and efficient transportation, giving them equal access to employment and educational opportunities in Metro Manila.

Shortly thereafter, a streak of MRT-3-related issues grabbed public attention, prompting government to launch multiple rehabilitation projects including other capacity expansion projects, rail replacements, upgrading of the signaling system, traction motor overhauling, restoration of conveyance facilities, among others. Most of these rehabilitation efforts will begin and be completed in 2015.

The year is ending with the PNR’s opening of its newest station in Calamba earlier this month, with the intention of reopening the Bicol Express in time for the Peñafrancia celebration in September 2015.

Apart from these projects, the DOTC is also working on the LRT-2 extension to Masinag, plus an O&M PPP bid for the entire line. It has also greenlighted the MRT-7 project which will run from the North EDSA area up to San Francisco del Monte, Bulacan via Commonwealth Avenue.

Road Transportation Sector

Groundbreaking for the Skyway Stage 3 project was held in January this year, with actual construction starting in April. Envisioned to ease traffic in Metro Manila by linking the North Luzon Expressway and the South Luzon Expressway via an elevated toll road, it will cut travel time between Buendia in Makati and Balintawak in Quezon City from 2 hours down to 20 minutes. This project is scheduled for completion in April 2017.

Meanwhile, the Land Transportation Office’s (LTO) license plate standardization project took off in May, when its implementation began. The 3-year program will replace all 9 existing license plate designs with a uniform and modern license plate design, which has enhanced security features to better promote safety in the streets.

In June, two important issuances for the road transport sector took effect: first, the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for Republic Act No. 10586 – or the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Law – was published by the DOTC and the LTO; and second, Joint Administrative Order (JAO) No. 2014-01 of the DOTC, LTO, and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) took effect.

The IRR outlines the procedures and penalties for the illegal act of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, while the JAO increases the penalties for violations of road transport rules and regulations, including the imposition of a P 1 Million fine for colorum or unauthorized operation of public utility buses. Both measures are meant to instill road discipline and safety in our streets.

In addition to these, the DOTC is currently bidding out two Integrated Transport System (ITS) PPP projects: ITS-Southwest for the construction and operation of an intermodal terminal on Coastal Road, and ITS-South for one in the FTI complex along the SLEX. These ITS terminals will serve as transfer points for provincial buses entering Metro Manila, in locations where they will not add to congestion in the metropolis and where they intersect with other modes of transportation such as railways, city buses, and taxis, for passenger convenience.

The agency is also developing the country’s first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system for Cebu. BRT systems are intended to also be implemented in heavily-congested corridors in Metro Manila, such as the Quezon City Hall-Manila City Hall route via Quezon Avenue.

Maritime Transportation Sector

Of particular note in the maritime transport sector are the efforts of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in defending the national territory and sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea. The PCG’s operations entail the constant deployment of officers and assets to the contested areas to protect the country’s interests against foreign intrusions.

14 ports which were destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda have also been fully rehabilitated by the DOTC and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) at various times in the past year. Finally, port congestion issues at the Port of Manila have been soundly addressed by the PPA, in coordination with many other government agencies, throughout 2014.

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Customs stuns G-Shock smugglers with court charges
Source: http://www.dof.gov.ph
Six persons face smuggling-related cases filed by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for attempting to sneak-in a total of 413 Casio G-Shock watches through Balikbayan Boxes. The watches have a total value of over P7.4-Million.

Complaints of violating Sections 3601 and 3602 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines were filed against Zenaida Valencia, Jennifer Valencia, Edward Ochave, Clarisse Karingal, Genevieve Ochave and Edmund Discutido before the Justice Department. The case stemmed from the entry of six Balikbayan Boxes from Bahrain last August. These were shipped on the same flight and on the same day through Forex U-Mac Bahrain and its counterpart, U-Mac Forex Cargo Philippines. The boxes were declared to contain personal effects such as shoes and clothing, beddings, groceries, candies and chocolates. However, derogatory information from the Bureau’s Intelligence Group prompted the 100% physical inspection of the boxes, revealing the watches inside. The misdeclaration was intended to evade payment of duties and taxes amounting to over P1-Million.

“While we recognize that the Balikbayan Box is vital to millions of overseas Filipinos and their families in the Philippines, we cannot allow the abuse and misuse of this privilege to bring in goods of commercial quantity or contraband items. Let this be a lesson to traders and sellers that by illegally concealing items meant for sale or prohibited items, you are not only taking risk by getting caught but you also delay other Balikbayan Boxes that are in the same batch,” said Customs Commissioner John P. Sevilla.

Since 2001, the Bureau has continually revamped its process for monitoring and inspecting Balikbayan Boxes following revelations that these have been used to bring-in illegal items such as car parts and accessories, goods for sale and regulated drugs.

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PNP presses for gun-free yuletide season
Source: http://www.pnp.gov.ph
The Philippine National Police issued a stern warning on indiscriminate and illegal discharge of firearms by government and civilian gunholders as part of their support to a “gun-free” celebration of Christmas and New Year.

PNP Officer-In-Charge, PDDG Leonardo A Espina had already issued a Memorandum to all PNP personnel for an intensified campaign against illegal discharge of firearms and indiscriminate firing.

The said campaign includes the simultaneous gun muzzle taping, from the National Headqarters down to Police Regional Offices, Provicial Offices, City and Municipal Police Stations nationwide, which will conducted on Monday (Dec 22) to assure the public that PNP personnel will not discharge their firearms this yuletide season.

“This traditional gun muzzle is a strong message to all gun owners, especially our policemen and soldiers who are the primary enforcers of the law, to refrain from firing their guns and help prevent casualties and injuries during the revelry of the yuletide,” Espina said.

Furthermore, Espina said that intensified intelligence efforts in coordination with AFP, other law enforcement agencies, and local government units will be conducted to identify probable violators.

Joint PNP and AFP teams will also be organized to conduct preventive patrols to arrest or apprehend uniformed personnel, members of law enforcement agencies and civilians involved in indiscriminate firing. (PNP-PIO)

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GSIS offers calamity loan in Cotabato, Palawan
Source: http://www.gsis.gov.ph
Active Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) members working or residing in Carmen, Cotabato, and those in the municipalities of Araceli, Dumaran, and Taytay in Palawan, including old-age pensioners in the latter areas, may now apply for emergency loan.

All four municipalities were declared under a state of calamity after a series of bad weather conditions, including typhoons Paeng and Queenie, wreaked havoc last month.

Under the GSIS Enhanced Emergency Loan Program, active members are qualified to apply provided they are not on leave of absence without pay, have no arrears in paying mandatory monthly premium contributions, and have no loans in default.

“We understand how hard it is to be struck by a calamity more than once within the year, so we doubled the loanable amount to P40,000 for members with existing emergency loans. This enables them to take home bigger loan proceeds,” said GSIS President and General Manager Robert G. Vergara.

He added that the required payment of 12 monthly amortizations prior to loan renewal has also been waived.

First-time borrowers are entitled to P20,000 in loanable amount. Old-age pensioners in the three Palawan municipalities may avail of the same amount.

Emergency loan for both members and pensioners, which carry a 6 percent interest per annum, is payable in 36 monthly installments. The first loan amortization is deducted from the borrower’s salary or pension three months after the loan was granted.

The pensioner emergency loan (PEL) is covered by a loan redemption insurance, which means that in case of the pensioner’s demise, survivors no longer have to pay the loan balance.

Interested members may apply through the GSIS Wireless Automated Processing System (GWAPS) kiosks located in GSIS offices, provincial capitols, city halls, selected municipal offices, large government agencies such as the Department of Education, and selected Robinsons Malls. The loan proceeds are electronically credited to the borrower’s GSIS eCard or UMID card.

GSIS will accept applications from members in Carmen, Cotabato, until 13 January 2015, while members and pensioners in the three Palawan municipalities may apply until 17 January 2015.

GSIS has allotted a total of P15 billion for the Emergency Loan Program (ELP) this year.

Inquiries on the ELP for members and pensioners may be directed to the GSIS Contact Center at 847-4747.

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BSP issues three new limited edition commemorative coins
Source: http://www.bsp.gov.ph


The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas today announced that three new limited edition commemorative circulation coins will be available starting Monday, 22 December 2014. The new coins commemorate the following:

1. The Bagong Bayani Commemorative Coin in honor of Overseas Filipinos on the 5-piso circulating coin;
2. The 150th year of Philippine Hero Apolinario Mabini on the 10-piso circulating coin; and
3. The Leyte Landing which was a turning point for the liberation of the Philippines during World War II on the 5-piso circulating coin
As a matter of policy, the BSP commemorates significant events and heroic Filipinos in our country’s history through the minting of coins, medals or overprints on our banknotes.

The most recent commemorative circulation coins issued by the BSP were for the 150th year of National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal in 2011 and the 150th year of Philippine Hero Andres Bonifacio in 2013.

The BSP also announced today the minting by the BSP of 50-piso and 500-piso commemorative coins in time for the Papal visit in January next year.

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Source: http://www.ombudsman.gov.ph
 

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Source: http://www.ombudsman.gov.ph
 

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Source: http://www.ombudsman.gov.ph
 

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Misamis ex-Gov convicted of malversation
Source: http://www.ombudsman.gov.ph
Ombudsman prosecutors secured the conviction of former Misamis Oriental Governor Antonio Calingin for Malversation in connection with the missing spare parts and accessories of two government vehicles assigned to the Office of the Provincial Governor.

In a Decision promulgated by the Sandiganbayan on 04 December 2014, it was found that Calingin served as governor for two terms from July 1998 until July 2004. During his incumbency, two Toyota 4x4 Hi-Lux vehicles with a total value of P2,082,385.00 were assigned to Calingin as service vehicles. In 2003, the Office of the President found Calingin guilty of Dishonesty, Gross Negligence and Grave Misconduct, and suspended him for six months without pay. In an effort to retrieve the government-issued vehicles, two letters were sent in 2004 demanding the return of the vehicles. In addition, the Provincial Retrieval Team organized by then Governor Oscar Moreno discovered that the vehicles were placed in a warehouse in Claveria, Misamis Oriental and were also cannibalized rendering them unserviceable.

The anti-graft court sentenced Calingin to imprisonment of 10 years and one day of prision mayor as minimum, to 18 years, eight months and one day of reclusion temporal as maximum. Calingin was ordered to pay a fine of P2,082,385.00, and to suffer perpetual special disqualification. Calingin was also ordered to indemnify the Province of Misamis Oriental in the total amount of P2,082,385.00.

Co-Accused Mario Calingin was acquitted for insufficiency of evidence.

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Sandiganbayan suspends Zamboanga board member
Source: http://www.ombudsman.gov.ph
The Sandiganbayan granted the prosecution’s motion to suspend Zamboanga Sibugay provincial board member George Castillo for a period of 90 days in connection with the ongoing trial for graft and malversation involving alleged anomalies in the implementation of the Aid to the Poor Program.

In its 8-page Resolution, the anti-graft court ruled that “[s]uspension under R.A. No. 3019 being a mere preventive suspension whose duration shall in no case exceed ninety (90) days, the adequacy of the opportunity to contest the validity of the information and of the proceedings that preceded its filing vis-à-vis the merits of the defenses of the accused cannot be measured alone by the absence or presence of an actual hearing.”

The court brushed aside Castillo’s argument that the suspension would deprive his constituents of essential representation, and ruled that “the fear of the accused that his constituents will be paralyzed for ninety (90) days when he is preventively suspended is remote” as “there will still remain ten (10) other Board Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Zamboanga Sibugay who can meet as such.”

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Rehab assistance to Zamboanga siege victims continues – Sec. Soliman
Source: http://www.dswd.gov.ph
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman recently visited Zamboanga City to monitor the progress of the rehabilitation efforts for those affected by the siege that happened in the city on September 2013. “I want to personally ensure everyone that no one is forgotten. We from the national government, with all our partners, will continue to provide assistance until we have built back better for all the victims,” she affirmed as she chaired the Local Inter-agency Committee (LIAC) meeting held at the Zamboanga City Hall. Although the Secretary was quick to admit that the December 15 deadline of moving all evacuees in the Zamboanga Grandstand was not met, she still believes that the efforts of the local government, national agencies and international humanitarian organizations should be recognized. “From almost 2,800 families residing at the Grandstand in January 2014, there are now just around 1,300. Some we have already moved to permanent shelters, while others to temporary shelters as they await the permanent ones. This is still a very significant accomplishment,” she pointed out. The Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Complex, or the Grandstand, became the biggest evacuation center at the height of the armed tension last year when a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front stormed the city. Factors Aside from the setback in the construction of houses, Sec. Soliman also confirmed other circumstances contributing to the delay. “Another major factor causing delays are certain cultural concerns have just been brought to the attention of the authorities. For example, there are more or less 300 families who cannot go to a certain transitional area because of clan conflict. So they would not move out of the evacuation center,” she shared. There have also been instances of evacuees not wanting to transfer to temporary shelters for fear that they will not eventually be given permanent houses. “We constantly clarify to the displaced families, especially those relocated to transitory sites, that those are just temporary. They will still have to be transferred to permanent, more sturdy houses, although most have noted that the bunkhouses are already better than what they had before” she commented. Targets According to the National Housing Authority, they target to finish all permanent shelter by middle of 2015 as the projects are currently in various stages of completion. On the other hand, DSWD intends to relocate everyone in the evacuation centers to transitory sites by January 2015. Furthermore, Sec. Soliman explained that according to the local government, not all who are still staying at the Grandstand were actually victims of the siege. For them, DSWD offers other services such as the Balik-Barangay and Balik-Probinsiya program where they are provided financial assistance so they can return to their places of origin. “We do this because those who will only be awarded permanent houses are those really affected by the siege and are already previously listed on the database of the local government,” she expounded. On Tuesday, the Secretary attended the turnover of 40 bunkhouses and 14 single detached housing units in Masepla, Mampang constructed by the 52nd Engineering Brigade of the Philippine Army with funding support from the DSWD and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Beyond physical To date, the Department has already provided a total of P438.75 million worth of assistance to all affected families. This includes P95.5 million which covered for expenses for the transitional shelters and P8.75 million for the DSWD programs for movement of families such as the Balik-Probinsiya, Balik-Barangay, House Rental and Home Materials Assistance (HOMA) Programs. Some P318 million was spent on the provision of food packs and non-food items, implementation of the cash and food-for-work programs, and delivery of other basic series such as financial and educational aid. The Department likewise continues with the conduct of livelihood programs. A total of P16.5 million has been utilized to cover the capital seed funds and the conduct of skills trainings. “We have given out capital funds for businesses like seaweed farming, fish vending, candle making, food processing, rice retailing, among others,” she continued. The city government likewise reported that it is working with concerned national agencies and international organization to continue to ration water and provide electricity using generator sets to transitory sites. Though these physical necessities of the affected families should immediately be met, Sec. Soliman pointed out that more beyond the provision of their daily needs should to be done. “The durable solution still is the rebuilding of the trust of all the Zamboangueños, all the ethnicities, all the religions. We should remember the peaceful diversity alive in the city before, as perfectly represented by the famous vinta sails – a beautiful piece created by a harmonious patching together of different colors and textures,” she reminded all.

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Foreign portfolio investments yield net inflows in November
Source: http://www.bsp.gov.ph
Transactions in foreign portfolio investments for November 2014 yielded net inflows of US$369 million. This is a major turnaround after two (2) consecutive months of net outflows (the latest at US$180 million in October) as investments in PSE-listed shares rose due to: (i) an initial public offering by a retail company; (ii) additional listing of shares of a gaming corporation; and (iii) a top-up offering of a holding corporation’s shares. This month’s performance, however, was still lower compared to last year’s US$981 million net inflows.

Registered foreign portfolio investments in November 2014 amounted to US$1.8 billion, 2.2 percent better than last month’s level, but 40.4 percent lower compared to the same period last year due to the effects of the tapering of the quantitative easing program of the United States which ended in October 2014.

Total outflows for the month of US$1.4 billion were much lower than those recorded in October 2014 (US$1.9 billion) and in the same period last year (US$2.0 billion).

About 78.7 percent of investments registered in November were in PSE-listed securities (mainly holding firms; banks; property companies; telecommunication firms; and casinos and gaming companies); the rest of the investments were in Peso-denominated government securities (GS) (19.3 percent) and in other Peso debt instruments (2.0 percent). Transactions in PSE-listed securities yielded net inflows of US$446 million in contrast to the US$222 million outflows in October. Transactions in Peso GS resulted in net outflows of US$113 million, a reversal from the US$42 million net inflows in October 2014.

The United Kingdom, the United States, Singapore, Luxembourg, and Malaysia were the top five (5) investor countries for the month, with combined share to total of 76.0 percent. The United States continued to be the main destination of outflows, receiving 72.1 percent of total.

Registration of inward foreign investments with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is voluntary under the liberalized rules on foreign exchange transactions. The issuance of a BSP registration document entitles the investor or his representative to buy foreign exchange from authorized agent banks and/or their subsidiary/affiliate foreign exchange corporations for repatriation of capital and remittance of earnings that accrue on the registered investment. Without such registration, the foreign investor can still repatriate capital and remit earnings on his investment but the foreign exchange will have to be sourced outside the banking system.

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MAR, ERAP sign Trust Fund for Manila Housing Projects
Source: http://www.dilg.gov.ph
As an example of cooperation between the national and local levels of government, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Manila City Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada shared the stage in signing the trust fund for informal settler families (ISF)’s homes to cap off this year’s Urban Poor Solidarity Week.

"Nandito tayo para maisakatuparan ang isang matibay at ligtas na tahanan para sa lahat ?[ng nakatira sa mapanganib na lugar]?(We are here to provide sturdy and safe houses for all those living in danger areas.)," said Roxas.

Leaders from government, civil society and people’s organizations bore witness to the awarding of the multimillion-peso fund for the site development and construction of two separate projects in BASECO and De Dios, City of Manila.

"Hindi [ito] political promise kundi moral promise ni PNoy?(This isn't a political promise but a moral promise made by PNoy.)," Roxas added.

Pursuant to the General Appropriations Act of 2014, DILG has facilitated the provision of the fund for the construction of socialized housing for ISFs in Metro Manila, amounting to P334.5 million for the cities of Malabon, Las Pinas, Muntinlupa, Caloocan, Navotas and Manila to share.

The Manila housing projects are expected to benefit 585 urban poor families.

In turn, Mayor Estrada personally extended his sincere gratitude and even cited Roxas' "unquestionable integrity" as a public servant.

The seed fund for Manila is one of the many fruits of the meaningful cooperation between the DILG, the local government and people’s organizations such as Karangalan and Ugnayang Lakas ng Apektadong Pamilya sa Baybayin ng Ilog Pasig (ULAP) of Manila.

“Dahil buong komunidad tayong nandito...ito ay bahagi ng tinatawag ng Pangulong Aquino na 'whole of country approach': nakikiisa at nagkakaisa,?(Because we're all here as a community, this is in fulfillment of what President Aquino calls 'whole of country approach': participatory and united.),?” Roxas remarked.

Also present in the event were Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Dinky Soliman, Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Secretary Ronaldo Llamas and Philippine Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) chairman Hernani Panganiban.

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Safest Christmas' about to come - Roxas
Source: http://www.dilg.gov.ph
With about a week left before Christmas, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas has given the public his utmost assurance that they can count on the Philippine National Police (PNP) for the "safest Christmas" thus far, thanks to their intensified anti-crime campaign.

"This will be our gift to the Filipino public: the safest Christmas season that we've all been working for," said Roxas to the leaders of more than 150,000 PNP personnel stationed in different parts of the country.

Roxas has previously confirmed a downward trend in criminality in NCR mainly due to the deliberate, programmatic and sustained approach that the PNP has taken under OPLAN Lambat-Sibat. He has also confirmed that the operation plan is set to be cascaded to all regions beginning early 2015.

According to the latest update from the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), robbery, theft, car and motorcycle napping incidents are at an all-time low of 534, compared to the weekly average of 900-1000 petty crime incidents before the campaign was rolled out.

"Wala nang bara-bara, kanya-kanya at ningas-cogon. Sa Tuwid na Daan, simula pa lang ito ng mas marami pang magagawang pagbabago, (We can't work ad hoc, in silos and sporadically. With Tuwid na Daan, this is just the beginning of many other reforms.)," Roxas remarked.

Roxas has already coordinated with the PNP OIC Police Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, to ensure that high crime areas of convergence, especially malls in Metro Manila, will be under the close watch of authorities.

"We saturate these areas with police personnel because criminals cluster around commercial areas," said Roxas.

Roxas has also coordinated with PDDG Espina to install checkpoints for public utility vehicles such as vans and taxis on major routes in Metro Manila.

He explained that part of the operation plan was "Pasadya," where police interventions were designed based on the particular features of the environment. Force multipliers such as volunteer radio groups and barangay peacekeeping action teams (BPATs) were also deployed with uniformed police personnel to help provide additional security in convergence areas.

"Everyone should be on board. We welcome the future where all police personnel are doing what they're really supposed to do," Roxas added.

In addition, the DILG has also been active in social media by advising the public to take the necessary precautions to prevent any untoward incidents and to keep their holiday celebrations merry and safe.

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PHL Embassy joins Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Diplomatic Corps to raise funds for Syria
Source: http://www.dfa.gov.ph
19 December 2014 – The Philippine Embassy in Seoul participated in a charity concert with the diplomatic corps on December 16 organized and held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of the Republic of Korea to raise cash donations for Syrian refugees as well as enhance the bonds among diplomats based in Seoul.

Korea’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se opened the MOFA-Diplomatic Corps Charity Concert to explain why he revived an old tradition of holding a yearend goodwill concert while Brunei Ambassador Dato Haji Harun, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Korea, thanked everyone for their efforts in joining the event despite their busy schedules.

“Participating and supporting this Charity Concert by the Foreign Ministry is another way to express our wholehearted appreciation to the host government’s assistance to our Embassy through the years” said Philippine Ambassador to Korea Raul S. Hernandez who joined a group composed of 19 ambassadors and their spouses to perform at the concert.

The Diplomats’ Choir closed the concert with three songs, including a Korean folk song “Longing for Mt Kumgang” (Geuriun Geumgangsan), which they sang with Foreign Minister Yun.

The musical talents of the Embassy staff were showcased by the Embassy’s Cultural Officer Ms. Elaine M. Diza, and Public Diplomacy Officer Ms. Cheryl M. Navarro, as well as personnel from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office(POLO) consisting of Ms. Ma. Jhonna D. Fiedacan and Mr. Rene Mangune.

The Embassy staff’s performance was the first number among 12 teams in the program. They sang a Filipino patriotic song “Tagumpay Nating Lahat” (Our Victory), which was accompanied by a video containing an English translation.

The two-hour concert, the brain child of Foreign Minister Yun and the second of its kind following the one held last year, was attended by more than 200 members of the diplomatic corps and their families, journalists and MOFA staff. The audience gave voluntary cash donations in special envelopes at the entrance to the MOFA Auditorium.

The concert raised 11 million KRW (US$9,975) for donation to the Emergency Response Fund (ERF) for Syria at the Office the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The donation was handed by Deputy Foreign Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs Shin Dong-ikto UNHCR Representative Dirk Hebecker on December 18.

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64 Participants complete Financial Education Seminar Workshop for Filipinos in Geneva
Source: http://www.dfa.gov.ph
19 December 2014 – A total of 64 participants were recognized on December 07 for successfully completing the Financial Education Seminar-Workshop for Filipinos in Geneva conducted by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines/Philippine Consulate General (Geneva PM/PCG)/ Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Geneva.

The month-long program on Financial Education Seminar Workshop for Filipinos in Geneva and Vaud aims to enhance the skills of participants on more effectively managing their finances through discussions on money matters, business setup, and risk appreciation. Participants were given Certificates of Completion that they could also use when taking advantage of relevant programs by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

Philippine Ambassador Cecilia B. Rebong expressed hope that the graduates would be better equipped to manage their finances as a result of the program. “Holding this event in our new Sentro Rizal, I am sure that our national hero Gat Jose Rizal, who himself travelled to Geneva and valued education above all else, would be proud of the interest and dedication you have shown in completing this Seminar Workshop,” she said.

The Recognition Day was the culmination of a four-week Seminar Workshop, which were held every Sunday on November 09, 16, 23, and 30. The classes lasted three hours each week for a total of 12 hours.

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Agri programs best with support from farmers’ organizations, coops—Alcala
Source: http://www.da.gov.ph
Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso J. Alcala reiterated to agriculture sector stakeholders in his recent visits to Regions I and II that the programs and projects of DA are best implemented and optimized with the support from farmers’ organizations and cooperatives.

“The department has given special attention on the formation of farmers’ organizations and cooperatives because as they are organized, access to resources especially those provided by the government becomes easier and accountability is observed. We now give assistance to groups, not individual farmers,” Alcala said.

As an example, Alcala highlighted that organized farm workers thru the Farm Service Providers (FSP) program are granted machineries that they use in providing services to landowners such as land preparation, planting and harvesting.

And as DA purposefully integrates marketing and value-adding in its programs, Alcala added that cooperatives are the best conduit for initiatives on technology transfer and access to capital, both vital in creating economies of scale.

Together with local DA officials, LGU executives and farmers’ organizations and cooperatives, Alcala led the opening and dedication of newly constructed agricultural hubs in the two regions, which according to him will serve as centers of convergence between the government and farmers.

The secretary inaugurated the new regional office building of DA Regional Field Office I and the San Fernando Food Terminal Project, both located in San Fernando City, La Union.

In Isabela, Alcala inaugurated the Agri-Pinoy Sentrong Pamilihan ng Produktong Agrikultura ng Isabela in Roxas town. The trading center has three components: a fruits and vegetable trading center, a livestock auction market and an “AA” slaughterhouse.

Alcala stressed to stakeholders present in the events that these projects are not DA’s alone but a project of, by and for the farmers, in partnership with LGUs.

“These are your projects—the instruments to improve the lives of the farmers. As PNoy said to me before I went here, I shouldn’t only be sharing him news about opening trading centers but also news on how the lives of farmers have changed with our projects,” Alcala said.

Alcala also signed the MOA with local chief executives on the construction of P100-M worth of farm-to-market roads in Isabela under the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP). He also led in the distribution of farm machineries, livestock, seeds and other forms of initial assistance to attending farmers’ organizations and cooperatives.

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2014 agri achievers bridge gap towards AEC ’15
Source: http://www.da.gov.ph
When Gerardo “Gerry” Esteban decided to leave behind his fast-paced lifestyle and relocate to the countryside to farm, he did not imagine himself being one of the best in what he does, much more be recognized by the government for his feat in integrated rice farming.

Starting on a leased one-hectare land, he ventured into rice production with the knowledge passed on to him by his father. Working hard and doubling his efforts, Mang Gerry, achieved good results and has now expanded his venture. He now manages his own five-hectare land planted with rice, fruit trees, vegetables, and livestock forage. He also maintains a farmhouse, a greenhouse, a multi-purpose drying pavement, livestock animals and various aquatic species.

Gerry, along with 21 other outstanding farm laborers, in individual and group categories, will be recognized and awarded by Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala as outstanding farmers and fishers who constitute the 2014 Gawad Saka agri champions, at the Philippine International Convention Center, today, December 18, 2014.

The newest batch of achievers who have paved way for a more developed rural sector that is more competitive and at par with other ASEAN nations are composed of 14 individual awardees and 8 groups/associations including the outstanding farm family from Rosario, La Union.

“These outstanding farm champions have brought us closer to a more competitive Philippines, agriculture wise,” Alcala announced.

Despite the damages brought by Typhoons Glenda, Luis, Mario and Yolanda last year, the agriculture sector was able to post a .33 percent growth with production increments from the crops and livestock subsectors.

In total, the agriculture sector grossed P1.1 trillion at current prices, almost 10% more than last year’s gross income.

“Our farmers’ and fishers’ exemplary and noteworthy contributions have made all these possible,” Alcala said.

The Secretary added that the sector’s collective efforts continue to push for a more competitive Philippine agriculture that is ready to take on the challenges of the ASEAN Economic Community come 2015.

“These individuals and groups who continue to forge a strong partnership with the government in its goals toward a food sufficient Philippines are truly remarkable. These awards are just testaments of their outstanding skills and talents that raise the bar of the food production sector year in and year out,” Alcala said.

Aside from Esteban, this year’s rosters of awardees are composed of top corn producer Eulogio V. Cabiles.

Esteban, of Laur Nueva Ecija, yielded a total of 54.68 metric tons for dry and wet season, netted a total of P664,000 in 2013. Cabiles of Tarlac, on the other hand, earned a total of P962,000 from his three-hectare corn farm in the last two cropping seasons.

Esteban, Cabiles and ten other individual awardees, alongside this year’s outstanding family of farmers will take home P200,000 cash award. Two other individual winners, in the field of science and research, will each get P900,000 in research grant and P100,000 as cash prize.

All group winners, with the exemption of the Outstanding Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (FARMC), will each receive P50,000 in cash award and P300,000 in project grant. FARMC will given P450,000 in cash award. All winners will also be awarded a presidential trophy and a presidential citation. (odarodriguez/AFID)

Other winners are: Individual Conrado B. Sotomayor Coconut Davao del Sur; Felix S. Berou Sugarcane Bukidnon; Ella D. Pobre High Value Crops North Cotabato; Philip Norman Y. Young (Global Food Solutions Inc.) Agri-Entrepreneur Laguna; Arturo B. Damasco Organic Agriculture South Cotabato; Teotimo T. Guzon, Jr. Aquaculture Apayao; Ernesto C. Tauro Capture Fisheries Occidental Mindoro; Arcadio F. de Belen Large Animal Raiser Bulacan; Alexander Marcelo Small Animal Raiser Palawan; Jonathan C. Domingo Young Farmer/ Fisherfolk Ilocos Norte; Emily A. Soriano Agricultural Researcher Tarlac; Dr. Jonar I. Yago Agricultural Scientist Nueva Vizcaya; Group Mr. and Mrs. Rolando Rocapor and family Farm Family La Union; Masla Hoyohoy 4H Club Young Farmer/Fisherfolk Association Mountain Province; Miluya RIC Rural Improvement Club Sorsogon; Sagada MAFC City/ Municpal Agricultural and Fishery Council Mountain Province; Benguet PAFC Provincial Agricultural and Fishery Council Benguet; Lupon MFARMC Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council Davao Oriental; San Antonio BFT Barangay Food Terminal (Local Government Unit-operated) Nueva Ecija; People’s Official, Employees and Community Multi-Purpose Cooperative BFT BFT (Non-LGU) Zamboanga del Norte.

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