25 OCT 2014

100 Pantawid Pamilya model kids join DSWD children’s congress
DOST’s Mission Possible: Science chief bats for training to get jobs in manufacturing industry
Montejo pitches use of scientific data for Yolanda rehab
DAR fetes Rizal farmers
DOE renews commitment of ensuring oil supply during the aftermath of natural disasters
BI urges aliens to report to BI offices for passport re-stamping
6 more Congressmen, Napoles face PDAF complaints
CSC awards game-changers in public frontline service delivery
GSIS pays Php149 M indemnity to Yolanda-hit goverment properties
Imports slide by 1.3 percent in August 2014, government to remain vigilant vs possible slowdown in global economy – NEDA
Monetary Board keeps policy rates unchanged
Mailed anti-impotence pills seized by Customs
Customs busts seller of fake BOC receipts
DPWH gears up ahead of All Saints' Day, clear roads leading to provinces
Baldoz reiterates pay rules on All Saints Day
In General Santos City, courier firm and its union agree to a new CBA in only two meetings
NHCP unveils the Mga Guho ng Kuta ng Tukuran historical marker
Purisima unveils new SAF facilities
IPs to benefit from additional rights under Bangsamoro Law
Philippines, US sign MOU on Labor Rights
Filipino-Australian teen wins “The X-Factor Australia”

http://pnp.gov.ph
100 Pantawid Pamilya model kids join DSWD children’s congress
Source: http://www.dswd.gov.ph
In recognition of the children’s role in development, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is holding the 2014 National Children’s Congress (NCC) today at Sequoia Hotel, Quezon City.

The activity is in observance of the annual Children’s Month Celebration, with this year’s theme, “Bata Kasali Ka, Ikaw ay Mahalaga” which focuses on the participation of children in nation-building.

Around 100 children from 17 regions nationwide will be attending the NCC. They are expected to identify the issues or problems that greatly affect their sector.

The children-participants will also develop a policy recommendation that will be presented to legislators for their consideration in the formulation of laws for children.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said that the activity is timely in reiterating the message that children are the future of the nation.

She added, “Majority of our programs are focused on promoting children’s rights and welfare. Apart from the centers and institutions that we maintain, we are the lead in the implementation of Pantawid Pamilya, the government’s flagship poverty reduction program.”

Pantawid Pamilya is a human development program of the national government that invests in the health and education of children 0-18 years old.

As of October 24, 2014, there are 10 million children-beneficiaries of the program. As beneficiaries they have better chances of finishing high school and growing up healthy.

As part of the congress, DSWD will also award the national winner of the 2014 Pantawid Pamilya Exemplary Child. The award is given to a child-beneficiary who showed admirable accomplishments in his or her home, school, and community.
The national winner will be chosen from among the regional winners.

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DOST’s Mission Possible: Science chief bats for training to get jobs in manufacturing industry
Source: http://www.dost.gov.ph
Brighter employment prospects await at least 800 individuals who have received free training for CNC Tool Programming and Operations from the Department of Science and Technology- Metals Industry Research and Development Center (DOST-MIRDC).

MIRDC’s training program is part of DOST’s push for industry competitiveness in the metals and engineering sector and in accordance with Secretary Mario G. Montejo’s directive to address the lack of workers with this skill in the manufacturing industry.

Dr. Danilo N. Pilar, Chief of Technology Diffusion Division of MIRDC revealed that the Secretary’s directive came after Department of Labor and Employment identified CNC machining as a “mission critical skill” in 2012. This means that such is an absolute necessary skill in the industry; takes a long time to produce; and cannot be easily replaced.
Computer numerical control (CNC) is a process in manufacturing that involves the use of computers to control machine tools. CNC machinists are in-charge of programming, setting up and operating CNC machines to cut, shape and form metal castings. Such machines allow the manufacture of products that are exactly the same copies. This is very important in aerospace, medical equipment, and other industries that require precision in manufacturing.

MIRDC’s program to provide free CNC training to qualified unemployed individuals started in 2012 and will end December this year.

“The trainees are given Php 300 per day as stipend for the entire duration of training program”, explained Dr. Pilar.

The 62-day training program includes a twenty-day industry immersion with partner companies of MIRDC. So far, 569 have graduated from the program and another 237 are set to graduate from the ongoing batches, revealed Dr. Pilar. “This means we have exceeded the target of 800 trainee graduates by the end of the year,” he added.

He also said the demand for CNC machinist is very high. In the first batch alone, MIRDC has monitored that more than half of the graduate trainees were eventually employed in the companies where they had their industry immersion. Most of their industry partner companies promise to hire the graduates from the training.

According to Labor Market Trends Publication of the DOLE-Bureau of Local Employment, an entry level CNC machinist earns a salary of Php 15,000 to Php 20,000.

Dr. Pilar clarified that they also accept employed individuals from their partner companies in the training program however a minimal training fee will be charged from them. Most of their trainees are from the unemployed ranks.

The training graduates will also have to render three years of service in the country in exchange for the free training provided.

The training program is being implemented in partnership with Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in eight locations nationwide which include: MIRDC office in Bicutan Taguig, and TESDA training offices in Taguig, Baguio, Batangas, Ilo-ilo, Negross Occidental, Cebu, and Davao.

Virgilio Lanzuela, immediate past national president of Metalworking Industry Association of the Philippines and owner of RollMaster Machinery and Industrial Services Corporation, commended DOST for its CNC training and other initiatives in the Metals Industry Sector. His company is one of the 24 industry partners of MIRDC in its training program.

“Napakahirap para sa isang maliit na kumpanya ang magtrain ng CNC operators. Dati makakapagtraining ka lang kapag bumili ka ng equipment kasi kasama yun sa package (It’s difficult for a small company to get CNC ooperator trainings. Before, you can only avail of training if you buy an equipment as it is included already in the package,” He said. “With this training provided by MIRDC, companies like us can also have an opportunity to upgrade the skills of our employees.”

To qualify under the program, an applicant must be at least be high school graduate with machining course from TESDA or TESDA accredited training institutions; vocational/trade course graduate or completed two years of college preferably in engineering course.

Aside from CNC Machine Tool Programming and Operations, MIRDC also provides other trainings related to the metalwork industry. For more information, please log on to mirdc.dost.gov.ph or call (02) 8370764. (S&T Media Service)

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Montejo pitches use of scientific data for Yolanda rehab
Source: http://www.dost.gov.ph
Science Secretary Mario Montejo is directing all agencies involved in Yolanda rehabilitation to secure all scientific information they need at the Yolanda Rehabilitation Scientific Information Center (YORINFOCENTER). Located at the University of the Philippines National Engineering Center n Diliman, Quezon City, the said Center makes it easier for other government agencies, including local government units, and humanitarian organizations to get scientific data that could help them in rehabilitating Eastern Visayas and its environs affected by the typhoon.

Since its launch on May 17 this year, YORINFOCENTER has facilitated the release to stakeholders of scientific data, such as like LiDAR topographic maps and multi-hazard maps from both the Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the DOST, and the latest satellite images of the Yolanda-devastated areas. .

Montejo said the creation of YORINFOCENTER is part of the DOST’s commitment to make sure that the people are benefitted by its technological and research outputs. The Center was established in partnership with the DENR.

“We continue to process many of the data to produce hazards maps for flood, landslide and storm surges. Just recently, we completed the new multi-hazard map for Tacloban and other areas.”

“The DOST and the DENR have been using these information for the Yolanda effort but we have been getting numerous inquiries from many groups for these data that’s why we have decided to come up with this center as a one-stop information shop,” the DOST chief explained.

Geodetic Engineer Sarah Jane Samalburo of NOAH DREAM Project, who was tasked to take charge of YORINFOCENTER’s operation, said they have been able to help a lot of government and private entities in securing hazards maps.

She said that while they have received numerous requests from government agencies and the private sector, only a few have come from local government units.

YORINFOCENTER urges local government units to get copies of their maps so that they may be able to identify the most vulnerable and the safest points in their areas.

These maps, she said, could help in drawing effective strategies for disaster preparedness and resiliency in Eastern Visayas.

YORINFOCENTER is manned by experts from DOST-Project NOAH and DREAM, PAGASA, Phivocs, and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the DENR. It can also be consulted for information, data and any other technical support relative to the scientific datasets it is providing for the on-going rehab of areas devastated by typhoon Yolanda. (S&T Media Service)

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DAR fetes Rizal farmers
Source: http://www.dar.gov.ph
Some 300 agrarian reform beneficiaries of Rizal were all sated and glowing with glee after the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) recently feted them with a day of food, fun and games.

Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer Amado Blor said that the objective of the event is to have an assembly of farmer-beneficiaries of Rizal for a “kumustahan,” to determine the farmers’ current situation.

“This Farmers’ Day was held at the Veranda Banquet Hall in Tanay,Rizal to know their concerns so we can properly address them. It is also a way to show them the various projects and support services that DAR has provided them,” Blor said of the day-long festivities on Monday.dar web news pix 2 oct. 24 2014

“The Farmers’ Day started with an open forum where they threshed out their concerns on land, titling and their requests for support services,” Blor said, adding that the DAR provided the farmers a short lecture on how to adapt to climate change.

“There were also product sampling of the farmers’ products like carrot and malunggay noodles, fruit jams and fruit wines to determine what each product needs to improve on. All these activities were interspersed with hearty meals, parlor games and raffle draws,” added Blor.

A prototype of an ambulant vending vehicle was also shown to the farmers to sell and promote the products of agrarian reform communities (ARCs) of Rizal.dar web news pix 3 oct. 24 2014

“We plan to have six of these vehicles for each of the six ARCs of Rizal. We are currently drafting a memorandum of agreement for this vending vehicle project,” Blor said.

The invited farmer-beneficiaries came from the municipalities of Jalala, Tanay, Pililla, Morong and Baras. The second and last batch for the Farmers’ Day will be on October 29 for the farmer-beneficiaries of Antipolo, Angono, Pinugay, Rodriguez, San Mateo and Teresa.

“We are happy to see them having a relaxing and enjoyable day. With all their back-breaking work, they deserve it,” said Blor.

Present at the Farmers’ Day were Tanay Mayor Rafael Tanjuatco and Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) Director Teresita Panlilio.

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DOE renews commitment of ensuring oil supply during the aftermath of natural disasters
Source: http://www.doe.gov.ph
(Taguig City) As part of its duty of protecting the consumers, the Department of Energy (DOE) attended the 7th Industry Emergency Response Event (IERO) hosted by the Philippine Institute of Petroleum (PIP) last October 22, 2014.

Heading the DOE delegation was Undersecretary Zenaida Monsada who also gave the keynote address. She cited the importance of the availability of the oil supply during the restoration and rehabilitation efforts most especially in the critically damaged regions.

“We must understand that fuel is an indispensable factor in relief operations and even in restoration efforts.” said Usec. Monsada.

The 7th IERO tackled the experiences during the Bohol Earthquake and the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas. Both natural disasters happened last year. The event also became an avenue where different stakeholders from the public and private sectors can actively express their concerns and lessons learned from the recent disasters.

The event was capped with the signing of a memorandum of agreement with the DOE, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Office of Civil Defense (OCD)/The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and members of the PIP. The MOA contains the commitments of the entities in ensuring a steady oil supply in the advent of natural disasters. The DOE will continue its role as the focal and point agency in oil supply related matters.

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BI urges aliens to report to BI offices for passport re-stamping
Source: http://www.immigration.gov.ph
MANILA, Philippines – All foreign nationals and their dependents who are staying in the Philippines with a permanent resident status by virtue of Republic Acts 7919 and 8247, are required to report to the Bureau of Immigration in Intramuros Manila for re-stamping of their passports, or risk being penalised or worse, face deportation and cancellation of their Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR) I-cards.

BI Spokesperson Elaine Tan encouraged the concerned foreign nationals to participate in the re-stamping scheme to ensure that their passports have the authentic stamps.

Tan said the re-stamping scheme will also simplify the verification of the BI’s updated RA 7919/8247 database and will surely help expedite their future transactions in the Bureau. Such transactions include processing of annual report and the renewal of their ACR I-Card.

Applicants for re-stamp must pay the amount of P1,010 and must also secure a BI Clearance at the same cost. The processing for the re-stamp applications may be completed within three days.

The filing period for the re-stamping started last September and will end on December 15, 2014. Such process may only be applied at the BI Main Office in Intramuros, Manila.

All applicants must submit the following:

Letter request addressed to the Commissioner for re-stamp;

Official receipt showing payment of applicable fees;

BI Clearance Certificate of applicant and/or principal RA 7919 holder issued within two months from the date of application;

Photocopy of passport bio-page RA 7919 implementation page and latest arrival stamp / RA 7919 admission;

Photocopy of passport page where the new/amended name is indicated, if applicable;

Certified true copy of newspaper publication;

Original and Authenticated Birth Certificate and/or Marriage Certificate (issued by the National Statistics Office) if the civil registry document is issued in the Philippines or by the Philippine Foreign Service Post which has jurisdiction over the place of issuance, or by the Department of Foreign Affairs if said document is issued by the local Embassy in the Philippines, with English translation, if written in other foreign language; and Photocopy of ACR I-Card (front and back portions)

Apart from payment of fines and deactivation of ACR I-Cards, the failure to comply with the RA 7919/8247 re-stamping may result to investigation and institution of deportation proceedings and the denial of arrival and departure clearances.

Republic Act 7919 is a law passed by Philippine Congress granting permanent resident status to qualified aliens who entered the country before June 30, 1992. It also granted legal residence to children of RA 7179 parents by providing that children born after June 30, 1992 of parents who received the benefits of said Act shall, upon proper registration with the BI, become legal residents.

Republic Act 8247 extended the period to file petitions for RA 7919 status until June 30, 1997. (30)

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6 more Congressmen, Napoles face PDAF complaints
Source: http://www.ombudsman.gov.ph
The Office of the Ombudsman completed its fact-finding investigation into the anomalous disbursement of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of former Representatives Alvin Sandoval of Navotas-Malabon district, Marina Clarete of the 1st district of Misamis Occidental, Reno Lim of the 3rd district of Albay, Rodolfo Antonino of the 4th district of Nueva Ecija, Teodulo Coquilla of the lone district of Easter Samar, and Anthony Miranda of the 4th district of Isabela.
The filing of this set of complaints is the result of the field investigation conducted on the PDAF scam as early as July 2013 when Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales motu proprio initiated a fact-finding investigation in response to news reports on the “pork barrel scam” exposé.

Several investigation teams were created to expedite the investigation by gathering numerous documents and interviewing hundreds of witnesses nationwide based on the Commission on Audit (COA) Special Audits Office Report No. 2012-03 which involved a total of P6.156 billion worth of PDAF released from 2007 to 2009 by various Implementing Agencies (IAs) to 82 non-government organizations (NGOs).

Ombudsman investigators formally filed criminal complaints against the six former congressmen together with officials of the IAs and NGOs. Also charged are Janet Lim Napoles and former Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Arthur Yap.

Congressman

IA

NGO

Charges

Alvin Sandoval

Technology Resource Center (TRC)

Pangkabuhayan Foundation

 

Dr. Rodolfo Ignacio, Sr. Foundation, Inc. (DRAISFI)

 

Jacinto Castel Borja Foundation, Inc. (JCBFI)

Malversation and violation of Sections 3(e) and 3(g) of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act)

Marina Clarete

National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR)

 

 

National Livelihood  Development Corporation (NLDC)

 

TRC

Kabuhayan at Kalusugan Alay sa Masa Foundation (KKAMFI)

 

Kassangga sa Magandang Bukas Foundation, Inc. (KMBFI)

 

Aaron Foundation Philippines, Inc. (AFPI)

Malversation and violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019

Reno Lim

TRC

Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation, Inc.  (KMFI)

Malversation and violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019

Rodolfo Antonino

NABCOR

Buhay Mo Mahal Ko Foundation, Inc. (BMMKFI)

Malversation and violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019

Teodulo Coquilla

NABCOR

Gabaymasa Development Foundation

Malversation thru Falsification of Public Documents

Anthony Miranda

TRC

Aksyon Makamasa Foundation, Inc. (AMFI)

Malversation, violation of Sections 3(e) and 3(h) R.A. No. 3019, violation of Section 7(a) of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (Republic Act No. 6713


Sandoval PDAF

Ex-Representative Sandoval was charged for the misuse of his PDAF amounting to P30 million coursed through the following NGOs: DRAISFI which received P5 million, Pangkabuhayan receiving P5 million and JCBFI receiving P20 million.
The PDAF released through the TRC was allocated for the benefit of small-scale entrepreneurs for skills training, technology transfer, capital start-up, tools and implements.

Ombudsman investigators uncovered documents such as the 18 December 2007 letter of Sandoval addressed to TRC official Antonio Ortiz requesting the immediate implementation of the livelihood projects, and designating DRAISFI as the project implementor.

Upon field verification, the former punong barangays of the supposed beneficiaries of the projects stated that they were not familiar with DRAISFI, nor were there any trainings or seminars conducted in their area. Neither did they receive any financial assistance from the PDAF of Sandoval.

Documents submitted to support the liquidation did not include official receipts and sales invoices, but mere acknowledgment receipts of individuals with no specific businesses or addresses.

The Complaint narrated that the negative certifications issued by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the cities of Malabon and Navotas clearly aligned with the testimonies of the punong barangay stating that the suppliers had no business establishments in their respective jurisdictions.

The FIO alleges that DRAISFI only had a total fund balance of P50,000.00 for 2006 and 2007, to prove that it was not even financially capable to carry out multi-million projects.

Upon field investigation, the head of the Malabon Agriculture Office denied knowledge of any trainings conducted nor the distribution of livelihood training kits (LTK). It was also ascertained that the LTK supplier (Calpito Agrifarm and Mach. Ent.) is not a registered business establishment.

Aside from Sandoval, included in the criminal complaint are TRC officials Antonio Ortiz, Dennis Cunanan, Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, Marivic Jover and Consuelo Lilian Espiritu, Pangkabuhayan officials Fernando Balmaceda, Petronila Balmaceda, Leoncio Balisi, DRAISFI official Rolleo Ignacio, and Roberto Agana of JCBFI.

Clarete PDAF

The COA in its Special Audits Office Report No. 2012-03 reported that the PDAF of ex-Rep. Clarete from 2007 to 2009 totalling P65 million was released to the TRC, NLDC and NABCOR, with KKAMFI, KMBFI, AFPI as NGO-partners for distribution of livelihood kits, grafted seedlings and financial assistance. Initially, the PDAF was released through the Office of the Department of Agriculture Secretary (OSEC) Arthur Yap, however, during actual implementation, the funds were released to the three NGOs. Prior to the issuance of the SAROs, Clarete wrote NABCOR president Javellana requesting that the designated NGOs implement her chosen projects.
The Complaint charged Clarete, Yap, Godofredo Roque, NABCOR, NLDC, TRC officials, representatives of KKAMFI, KMBFI and AFPI with Malversation and violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019.

Validation made by members of the Ombudsman-Mindanao Field Investigation Unit (FIU) revealed that some of the supposed beneficiaries are not registered voters of the municipalities. The FIU alleges that out of 1,616 purported beneficiaries of livelihood kits, only one beneficiary was confirmed to be a resident of Jimenez, Misamis Occidental. The former mayors and city agriculturists also denied having received any of the kits.

The COA reported that suppliers B.B. Plant Nursery and P.I. Farm Products, Inc. denied transacting with the NGOs for the delivery of seedlings. Insofar as AFPI is concerned, the COA reported that it was not issued a business permit since 2004 up to the present and its reported address is a vacant lot. More importantly, as per FIU validation, questionable or spurious documents were submitted as part of the liquidation report.

Miranda PDAF

The charges against ex-Rep. Miranda stem from the funneling to AMFI, an NGO of which he is the founding Chairman. In 2007, Miranda received P21 million released through two SAROs coursed through the TRC and AMFI. In two letters addressed to TRC Director General Antonio Ortiz, Miranda requested that the PDAF be released to AMFI.
Up to this date, AMFI has not liquidated the P20 million funds received.

COA Circular No. 96-003 requires that for NGO accreditation, it must submit financial statements for at least three years operation to ensure its stable financial condition and demonstrate proven expertise in fund management. AMFI was incorporated only in 2007, the same year that they received PDAF allocation. Neither has AMFI complied with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reportorial requirements.

Under Section 3(h) of R.A. No. 3019, public officials are prohibited from directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity.

Aside from Miranda, also facing criminal charges are TRC officials Ortiz, Cunanan, Jover, Lacsamana, Belina Concepcion, Espiritu, Francisco Figura, Domingo Mamauag, and Engr. Edison Sabio of AMFI.

Coquilla PDAF

Ex-Rep. Coquilla received P5 million as PDAF in 2007. The fund was supposed to be used for the benefit of the municipalities of Dolores, Maslog, Jipapad, Lawa-an and Guian for the procurement of assorted instructional materials, calamansi, rambutan, chico, and mango seedlings, with the Gabaymasa Foundation as project implementor. Based on documents obtained, Marinduqueno’s Garden and KP Enterprises acted as suppliers.
Ombudsman investigators who conducted field validation verified that Marinduqueno does not supply tree seedlings while KP Enterprises was registered with the DTI only in 2011 and is a vendor of car batteries and wheel interiors in Marikina Heights.

Aside from Coquilla, criminal charges were also filed against NABCOR officials Alan Javellana, Encarnita-Cristina Munsod, Ma. Julie Villaralvo-Johnson, Romulo Relevo, Margie Luz and Ma. Cristina Vizcarra.

Antonino PDAF
In his letter dated 31 January 2007, then Rep. Antonino requested that his PDAF of P15 million worth of livelihood projects be coursed through the DA and endorsed BMMKFI as project implementor to benefit the seven municipalities of the 4th district of Nueva Ecija. On 07 March 2007, a MOA was entered into between DA and NABCOR. On the same date, the Obligation Request was issued transferring the funds to NABCOR.

7,275 sets of Livelihood Technology Kits (LTK) were allegedly bought from C.C. Barredo Enterprises at P2,000 per kit, with deliveries allegedly made to BMMKFI in Legazpi Tower,Roxas Boulevard.

Field investigation disclosed that BMMKFI or any its officers or incorporators are not known in the condominium unit. Documents obtained also revealed that BMMKFI’s declared gross receipts for 2007 amounted to only P300,000.00. The Acting City Administrator of Gapan City, municipal mayors, municipal agriculturists, and municipal administrators attested that no records exist as to the receipt or distribution of LTKs.

Aside from Antonino and Yap, also included in the criminal charges are Javellana, Munsod, Mendoza, Guanizo, Antonio and Carmelita Barredo of C.C. Barredo.

Lim PDAF

In 2007, then Rep. Lim of Albay initiated the release of his P30 million PDAF through the TRC as IA and endorsing the KMFI as project implementor for livelihood projects.

KMFI made it appear that it procured 8,000 sets of LTKs from C.C. Barredo. However, as per validation from local government officials, not a single person from the 3rd district of Albay received any of these kits.

Investigation into the profile of KMFI revealed that its authority to engage in livelihood projects is limited only to areas located within Quezon City. The NGO’s listed address in Quezon City is the same address used by C.C. Barredo, supplier of the LTKs.

The Complaint stated that “these facts lead to no other conclusion that respondents deliberately consented to or permitted the taking of public funds despite the fact that they are fully aware that (there) were no projects implemented.”

Included as respondents in the complaint are Ortiz, Cunanan, Jover, Lacsamana, Espiritu, KMFI representatives Carlos Soriano, France Mercado and Carmelita Barredo of C.C. Barredo Publishing House.

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CSC awards game-changers in public frontline service delivery
Source: http://web.csc.gov.ph
The Civil Service Commission recognized top performing frontline service offices based on the Anti-Red Tape Act Report Card Survey (ARTA-RCS), an instrument used to check agency compliance with the ARTA provisions to gauge citizens’ satisfaction with the quality of government services.

In the recognition program, “Celebrating Excellence in the Public Frontline Service Office,” held at the Luxent Hotel in Quezon City yesterday, CSC hailed three ARTA Best Performing CSC Regional Offices (Regions 3, 6, and NCR) and awarded the 2014 ARTA Breakthrough Agency Award to five agencies, namely, Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Philippine Health Insurance Commission (PhilHealth), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and Public Attorney’s Office (PAO).

The ARTA Breakthrough Agency Award is given to the top 5 agencies ranked along with 32 other agencies based on two criteria: (a) Percent of surveyed offices from 2011-2013 which were awarded with the CSC Seal of Excellence (70%), and (b) Percent of surveyed offices passing the ARTA-RCS from 2011-2013 (30%). The Seal of Excellence is conferred to agencies who got ‘Excellent’ rating on ARTA-RCS.

CSC also launched a coffee table book titled Breakthrough: Game-Changers in Public Frontline Service Delivery. The book features 10 service offices across the regions that were chosen from the recipients of the Citizen’s Satisfaction Center Seal of Excellence Award and the three ARTA Breakthrough Agency Award recipients.

The 10 featured offices are as follows: PAO Cagayan de Oro City District Office; Philippine Statistics Authority – National Statistics Office Regional Office I; CHED Regional Office III; Home Development Mutual Fund Naga Branch; LBP San Carlos City; DTI Kalinga; Land Transportation Office (LTO) Barangay Tiza, Roxas City; Government Service Insurance System Surigao City; Dr. Serapio B. Montañer Jr. Al Haj Memorial Hospital; and PhilHealth Santiago, Isabela Local Health Insurance Office.

CSC also recognized its various partners, government and non-government, including media partners, for the operation and promotion of its ARTA initiatives.

Present in the event were CSC Chairman Francisco T. Duque III, Commissioners Robert S. Martinez and Nieves L. Osorio, CSC Multi-Sector Advisory Council (MSAC) lead by Atty. Alexander Lacson, together with Prof. Edna Co from the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance, Philippines-Australia Human Resource and Organisational Development Facility (PAHRODF) Director Milalin Javellana, and Investors in People – Philippines CEO Gerry Plana.

Other guests from both government and international institutions include PAO Chief Persida Rueda-Acosta, LTO Chair Marjin Victorio, Professional Regulation Commission Commissioner Angeline Chua Chiaco, Securities and Exchange Commission Commissioner Blas James Viterbo, Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison, Department of Social Welfare and Development Assistant Secretary Rodolfo M. Santos, and United Nations Development Programme Secretary Fe Cabran.

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GSIS pays Php149 M indemnity to Yolanda-hit goverment properties
Source: http://www.gsis.gov.ph
Payment for Yolanda damages. PGM Robert G. Vergara turns over a check amounting to Php144.2 million to CAAP Director General William Hotchkiss III as compensation for the financial loss suffered by the Daniel Romualdez Airport in Tacloban as a result of typhoon Yolanda.

State pension fund Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) recently released the total amount of nearly Php149 million to indemnify two government agencies for the damages to their properties wrought by typhoon Yolanda.

GSIS paid the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Php144.17 million in insurance proceeds to compensate for the damages to the domestic airports of Tacloban and Roxas.

It similarly indemnified the Department of Trade and Industry's (DTI) Regional Office in Tacloban in the amount of Php4.35 million for the destruction of its office building after Yolanda devastated Eastern Samar.

"Minimizing the impact of financial or asset loss to government agencies caused by an unforeseen calamity or event is the System's contribution to nation-building", President and General Manager Robert Vergara said.

Vergara explained that CAAP, the agency responsible for the operation of all domestic airports in the country, actually insured 22 of its facilities with GSIS for Php9.5 billion under the Industrial All Risk Policy.

CAAP paid the annual premium of Php18.97 million to GSIS. Out of this amount, the premium it specifically paid for the Tacloban Airport was only Php463,633 for an insurance of Php232 million. While the premium paid for the Roxas Airport was Php272,461 for an insured amount of Php136,230,538.

"It was providential that CAAP insured its properties with GSIS less than a month before Yolanda struck the Tacloban and Roxas airports", Vergara said.

DTI-Tacloban has been religiously securing insurance cover (Fire with Allied Perils-Typhoon, Flood, Earthquake) from GSIS every year since 2010. It pays a little more than Php66,000 in annual insurance premium in exchange for an assurance from GSIS that it will shoulder the burden of an uncertain loss in the future.

GSIS is coordinating with other government agencies hit by Yolanda to assist them in claiming compensation for the damages sustained by their properties. In 2013, the System settled the claims of the NFA offices in Borongan and Leyte, the city hall building in Bogo, Cebu, the Eastern Samar State University, the sports complex in Bantayan, Cebu, and the office of the Mayor in Bogo, Cebu.

"The need to insure government-owned buildings and infrastructure with GSIS has become more imperative since typhoons and other calamities can just strike anywhere... this is the new normal", Vergara added.

Under Republic Act No. 656, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 245, GSIS is mandated to insure all properties, assets, and interests of the government against any insurable risk.
 

Imports slide by 1.3 percent in August 2014, government to remain vigilant vs possible slowdown in global economy – NEDA
Source: http://www.neda.gov.ph
MANILA – Significant declines in spending for imported raw materials and intermediate goods and mineral fuels and lubricants resulted in a 1.3 percent decline in merchandise imports in August 2014, offsetting the year-on-year gains in consumer and capital goods, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“Although relatively in better condition than last year, the gradual softening in imports has been observed since the 24.7-percent growth seen last January, steadily sliding to its slowest growth as of August this year. Despite the gains from increased imports of consumer and capital goods, reduced purchases of imported raw materials and intermediate goods and mineral fuels and lubricants dragged down imports growth in August 2014,” said Economic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director-General Arsenio M. Balisacan.

Payments for Philippine merchandise imports decreased to US$5.5 billion in August 2014 from US$5.6 billion in August 2013.

However, the total import payments in the first eight months of 2014 increased by 4.0 percent to US$42.4 billion from US$40.8 billion in the comparable period in 2013. Given the faster growth in merchandise exports at 9.2 percent during the same period, the
narrowed to US$1.7 billion from US$3.5 billion a year ago.

“Domestically, the recent slowdown in imports may reflect market sentiment of sluggish demand due to seasonal factors. But we remain vigilant should this sluggish growth in imports turn out to be a signal of a more pessimistic condition of the global economy, which may spill over locally,” said Balisacan.

The Cabinet official added that the issue on port congestion is still a big threat to imports and exports.

“Although the truck ban has been lifted to ease congestion in Manila ports, cramped port yards remain an issue that may still have an impact on external trade. These should further be monitored and given ample solution to ease the flow of goods traversing Manila ports,” he said.

Meanwhile, payments for imported consumer goods posted a double-digit expansion of 13.8 percent to reach US$766.2 million in August 2014 from US$673.2 million a year ago. Similarly, imports of capital goods grew at a faster pace of 3.1 percent in August 2014 from a marginal increase of 0.3 percent in July 2014, following consecutive contractions since February to June 2014.

“Overall, merchandise imports could possibly pick up in the succeeding months as suggested by the inventory drawdown in the national accounts,” noted Balisacan.
The People’s Republic of China remained as the top source of Philippine merchandise imports in August 2014 with a 14.7 percent share to total import payments amounting to US$806.5 million. Second was United States of America with a share of 7.8 percent, followed by Singapore (7.4%), Taiwan (7.3%), Republic of Korea (7.0%), Japan (6.7%), Saudi Arabia (6.0%), Thailand (5.9%), France (5.3%), and Germany (4.2%).

The value of imported commodities from other ASEAN-member countries accounted for 23.1 percent of Philippine merchandise imports amounting to US$1.3 billion. Meanwhile, the European Union provided US$709.8 million worth of imports or about 12.9 percent of the country’s total import requirements in August 2014.

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Monetary Board keeps policy rates unchanged
Source: http://www.bsp.gov.ph
At its meeting today, the Monetary Board decided to maintain the BSP's key policy rates at 4.00 percent for the overnight borrowing or reverse repurchase (RRP) facility and 6.00 percent for the overnight lending or repurchase (RP) facility. The interest rates on term RRPs, RPs and special deposit accounts (SDA) were also kept steady. The reserve requirement ratios were left unchanged as well.

The Monetary Board’s decision is based on its assessment of a more manageable inflation environment, based on latest baseline projections indicating within-target inflation for the policy horizon. Latest forecasts show a lower inflation path for 2014-2016, reflecting easing pressures on commodity prices. Inflation expectations have also remained broadly stable and aligned to the inflation target. At the same time, domestic demand conditions continue to be resilient, supported by adequate domestic liquidity and robust bank lending growth.

The Monetary Board noted that the risks to the inflation outlook are broadly balanced, with potential price pressures emanating from pending petitions for adjustments in utility rates and possible power shortages. Meanwhile, global economic prospects are likely to stay uneven, thus mitigating upward pressures from commodity prices going forward.

Given these considerations, the Monetary Board deemed it prudent for the time being to allow previous monetary responses to continue to work their way through the economy. The Monetary Board emphasized that the BSP will remain vigilant against developments that could affect the outlook for inflation and financial stability and is prepared to take appropriate policy action as necessary to safeguard its price and financial stability objectives.

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Mailed anti-impotence pills seized by Customs
Source: http://www.dof.gov.ph
Operatives of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) Intelligence Group intercepted a parcel mailed from the United States containing 268 blue-colored pills suspected to be sildenafil citrate, a drug used to treat erectile dysfunction and sold under various trade names like “Viagra.” The drugs, packed in four-tablet blister packs, have an estimated street value of over P40,000.

The parcel, which was declared as “assorted pharmaceutical products,” was mailed last January 6, 2014 to a certain Angelica Amor Vasquez with address at 171 Gomez Street, Barangay Addition Hills, San Juan City, The package arrived at the San Juan Central Post Office on January 18, 2014 where it remained unclaimed for the last eight months, prompting authorities to open the package. The parcel were seized by Customs officials for violation of Section 2530 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP)., as amended, in relation to Food and Drug Administration law, rules, and regulations and the Intellectual Property Code or Republic Act 8293.

“All products that come into the country—whether by ship, balikbayan box or even postal parcels, are subject to Customs inspection and maybe charged with corresponding duties and taxes or are outright prohibit or require special permits. Unscrupulous individuals sometimes try to use postal mail and express parcels to ship illegal or prohibited items to and from the Philippines because they think that there is minimal chance of being caught. Let this be a warning to the public that we are closely monitoring all mail, parcels, and packages,” said Customs Commissioner John P. Sevilla.

The sildenafil citrate pills have been turned-over to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

The Bureau has confiscated over P500-Million of illegal drugs and other controlled chemicals. These include methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, marijuana, Ecstacy, Valium, Ativan, Dormicum, Rivotril, Alprazolam, Ritalin, and other unlabeled tablets.

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Customs busts seller of fake BOC receipts
Source: http://www.dof.gov.ph
Operatives of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) nabbed a woman caught selling fake Bureau of Customs Official Receipts (BCORS) outside the Paircargo Warehouse, adjacent to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). The perpetrator, identified as Llana Cabangbang, 19 years old, with address at Greenpoint Homes Mambog 4 Bacoor, Cavite, was caught selling fake BCORs at the waiting shed outside the Paircargo warehouse last October 10 in a buy-bust operation.

Combined personnel from the Bureau’s Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service and Enforcement and Security Service port carried out the operation. Video documentation showed Cabangbang handing over the fake receipts and receiving the amount of P2,000 to a BOC informant right before she was apprehended.

Cabangbang was found to be carrying falsified BOC official receipt with OR no. 01854212287 under the name of Emmanuel C. Ragas and signed by Vivian Dayao; one blank receipt with OR no. 01852553489; and one photocopy of BOC receipt with OR no. 01854212283 stamped with Certified True Copy. The fake receipts were signed and initialed by a certain ‘JSF’ dated October 10. The receipts were confirmed to be fake by Vivian Dayao, Acting Chief of Collection Division of the Bureau’s NAIA Collection District. According to Dayao, BCOR no. 01852553489 is not included in the list of BCORs supplied by the Procurement Unit of the BOC’s General Services Division, while BCOR no. 0185421228 is an outright fake, as it had the wrong security code.

“We are closely monitoring all illegal activities happening inside as well as in the vicinity of the airport that is why when we received reports that scrupulous individuals are selling fake Customs official receipts we immediately acted on it,” said BOC NAIA District Collector Edgar Macabeo. “We would like to get to the bottom of this and weed out the syndicate selling fake receipts once and for all.”

Cabangbang faces charges for alleged violation of Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines (RPC) and Section 3602 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP) as amended.

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DPWH gears up ahead of All Saints' Day, clear roads leading to provinces
Source: http://www.dpwh.gov.ph
 The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) prepared several measures to address the expected increase in number of motorists heading provinces for the traditional observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

Secretary Rogelio L. Singson said that DPWH Regional and District Offices have started vigorous implementation of various highway routine maintenance activities such as pavement, bridge, shoulder, and drainage and vegetation control maintenance especially those leading to both public and private cemeteries.

Also included in the routine maintenance activities for both carriageway and roadsides being undertaken by the DPWH field units includes traffic service maintenance with the provision of informative/regulatory warning signs or traffic advisory.

“These activities will ensure better and safer travel of motorists and commuters”, said Singson.

With various improvement and maintenance works under the long term performance based maintenance projects on national arterial roads on-going, Secretary Singson directed all concerned District Engineers to properly coordinate with the Project Engineers of the Unified Project Management Office implementing the project and the contractors for the scheduling of their activities and installation of necessary traffic advisory.

“Contractors with on-going projects have to suspend further excavation or pavement removal activities and shall begin with the clearing of construction barriers including removal of idle equipment directly on site that may obstruct and affect traffic flow”, added Singson.

To manage road situation, DPWH will also activate a composite team on strategic location headed by an anchorman from the Regional and District offices who will aid travelling public on October 30 to November 3, 2014 under the “Lakbay Alalay” program.

DPWH will closely coordinate with the Land Transportation Office, Philippine National Police, and concerned local government units for the harmonize operation of “Lakbay Alalay”.

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Baldoz reiterates pay rules on All Saints Day
Source: http://www.dole.gov.ph
 Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday said that 1 November 2014 (All Saints Day), a Saturday, is a Special (Non-Working) Day throughout the country.

The labor and employment chief said the Special Non-Working Day is by virtue of President Benigno S. Aquino III’s Proclamation No. 655 Declaring the Regular Holidays, Special (Non-Working) Days, and Special Holiday (for all schools) for the year 2014, which he issued on 25 September 2013.

“All Saints Day is truly one of the country’s most cherished traditions,” said Baldoz, adding:

"The proper observance of the pay rules and core labor standards on this Special Non-Working Day promotes decent work, the productivity of workers, and competitiveness.”

Thus, the labor chief reminded the country’s private sector employers on the guidelines on proper pay rules to be observed on All Saints Day, Saturday, 1 November, as follows:

(1) If the employee did not work, the “no work, no pay” principle shall apply, unless there is a favorable company policy, practice, or collective bargaining agreement (CBA) granting payment on a special day;

(2) For work done during the special day, he/she shall be paid an additional 30% of his or her daily rate on the first 8 hours of work [(Daily Rate x 130%) + COLA)];

(3) For work done in excess of 8 hours (overtime work), he/she shall be paid an additional 30% of his/her hourly rate on said day (Hourly Rate of the Basic Daily Wage x 130% x 130% x Number of Hours Worked);

(4) For work done during a special day that also falls on his/her rest day, he/she shall be paid an additional 50% of his/her daily rate on the first 8 hours of work [(Daily Rate x 150%) + COLA]; and,

(5) For work done in excess of 8 hours (overtime work) during a special day that also falls on his/her rest day, he/she shall be paid an additional 30% of his/her hourly rate on said day (Hourly Rate of the Basic Daily Wage x 150% x 130% x Number of Hours Worked).

For inquiries about this release, please call the Bureau of Working Conditions at Tel. Nos. 527-3000 locals 303 or 307; the nearest DOLE Regional Office (for DOLE-NCR 400-6011); or dial the DOLE Hotline, 527-8000.

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In General Santos City, courier firm and its union agree to a new CBA in only two meetings
Source: http://www.dole.gov.ph
Benefits package is P2.2-M In General Santos City, courier firm and its union agree to a new CBA in only two meetings Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday lauded the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) Regional Branch No. 12 for its pro-active role in facilitating the successful negotiations that resulted to a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the management and workers' union of the South Mindanao Courier Co. Inc. (SMCCI), a subsidiary of courier giant LBC Corporation. Citing a report of NCMB Regional Branch No. 12 Director Feliciano "Jun" Orihuela, Baldoz said the patience and open minds of the parties, plus the guidance of NCMB regional officials and staff, particularly of Director Orihuela Jr. and supervising labor and employment officer Gerie D. Lampitco, led to the success of the negotiations. Director Orihuela Jr. reported to Secretary Baldoz that the new CBA between the SMCCI and its union, the South Mindanao Courier Co., Inc. Employees Union-ALU, took only two meetings of the parties to be forged. "The SMCCI and the SMCCIEU-ALU met only twice to agree on the new CBA, prompting Lauro Pacres, SMCCI General Santos Hub Manager, to exclaim: "Puwede naman palang gawin eh!” Previous CBA negotiations, according to Mr. Pacres, were very combative. The SMCCI management and the union, according to Orihuela, yesterday signed the new CBA, containing a benefits package worth P2.2 million. The provisions of the CBA are as follows: On wages, a P325.00 increase per month per covered employee in the 4th year; and the same amount on the fifth year. On uniform allowance, P1,200/year/covered employee; and a P350 Labor Day t-shirt allowance per covered employee. which amount is to be integrated in the uniform allowance. "The CBA also provides a hazard pay of P300/month/covered employee; and a signing bonus of P1,800.00/covered employee. The retroactivity pay and the signing bonus will be released one-time, on 30 October 2014," said Orihuela. The NCMB regional chief said that during the signing of the CBA, both parties recalled the events that transpired during the negotiations. Originally, the negotiations during the first meeting covered an agenda consisting of 11 items/issues, specifically, (1) P500.00 wage increase; (2) P350 hazard pay/month; (3) P18,000 burial assistance; (4) P2,000 travel allowance; (5) P600 meal allowance; (6) P2,000 Christmas gift; (7) P1,500 rice allowance; (8) P1,500 birthday gift; (9) P500 medicine allowance (a new provision); (10) P1,200 uniform allowance (which already includes the P350 Labor Day uniform allowance); and (11) a memorandum of agreement breaking down the items covered by the other LBC subsidiary. Then on the second meeting, the parties, showing goodwill and maturity, mutually agreed to focus the discussion to only four items, namely, (1) P500 wage increase; (2) P350 hazard pay/month; (3) P1,200 uniform allowance; and (4) P1,800 signing bonus. After only more than five hours of negotiation, the management, aided by its legal counsel, and the union, assisted by the ALU representative, finally came to agree on the new two-year CBA, which contains a total benefit of P2,225,000 for 100 union members. Henry Visitacion, SMCCIEU-ALU president, expressed satisfaction over the successful conclusion of the negotiations and the signing of the CBA. "We are happy because everything that we asked of management were granted. This is proof of management's sincerity to foster a harmonious relationship in the company. We will reciprocate this sincerity through cooperation," he said. SMCCI Manila representatives led by legal counsel Atty. Noel L. Duque, Finance Officer Marcel Valera, Accounting Office Niño Ludwig Dayrit, HR Head Jo Marie P. Ramos witnessed the signing of the CBA. The signers were headed by the Mindanao Area Head Cesar A. Atibagos, Gensan Hub Manager Lauro Pacres and HRO Liezel Ecoy. On the part of the union, the signers were led by its president, Mr. Visitacion, who was supported by the officers together with the Associated Labor Union (ALU) representatives Francis Pascua and legal counsel Atty. Jose Ledda.

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NHCP unveils the Mga Guho ng Kuta ng Tukuran historical marker
Source: http://nhcp.gov.ph
TUKURAN, ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR ─ The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) led by its Executive Director Ludovico D. Badoy, unveils on Tuesday, 28 October 2014, the historical marker “Mga Guho ng Kuta ngTukuran” in Tukuran, Zamboanga del Sur. The marker states:

MGA GUHO NG KUTA NG TUKURAN

KINATATAYUAN NG PAMAYANAN NI SULTAN UNTUNG NA NAKUBKOB NG PUWERSANG ESPANYOL, 1887. TINAYUAN NG KUTA NG ALFONSO XIII, 1890; NATAPOS, 1891. POOK NG REBELYON LABAN SA ESPANYA, SETYEMBRE 1896 AT OKTUBRE 1898, AT POOK-PINAGBITAYAN SA MGA REBELDENG SUNDALONG PILIPINO SA MINDANAO, ENERO 1897. TINAYUAN NG PAMAYANANG MUSLIM MATAPOS IWAN NG MGA ESPANYOL, 1899. NAGING GARISON NG HUKBONG AMERIKANO, 1900-1912., AT NG PHILIPPINE CONSTABULARY, 1902-1903. SENTRO NG TUKURAN-LINTOGUP TELEPHONE LINE NG U.S. SIGNAL CORPS, ANG PANGUNAHING LINYA NG KOMUNIKASYON SA MINDANAO, 1 ENERO 1901. HIMPILAN NG DISTRITONG MILITAR, 1912-1918, AT DISTRITONG MUNISIPAL NG TUKURAN, 1918-1921. TULUYANG INABANDONA DULOT NG PATULOY NA PAGSALAKAY NG MGA MORO, 1921. NAGING BARANGAY MILITAR, TUKURAN, ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR.

The marker will be officially turned over to the Municipal Government of Tukuran, Zamboanga del Sur, headed by Mayor Francisvic S. Villamero. ABC President Hipolito C. Villamero will stand as witness during the signing of the Certificate of Transfer.

For more information, contact the Historic Sites and Education Division at NHCP tel. nos. 2547482 loc 131/523-1019.

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Purisima unveils new SAF facilities
Source: http://pnp.gov.ph
PNP Chief Police Director General Alan LM Purisima led the unveiling of markers and blessing of Special Action Force Training Branch facilities today (Oct 23) at Sto. Domingo, Sta. Rosa City, Laguna.

Together with SAF Director, Police Director Getulio Napeñas, and other PNP key officials, Purisima unveiled the markers of SAF Training Branch Mess Hall, Planning Room and Classrooms aiming to provide world class training and education to SAF troopers.

“This holds great promise for the police students who are undergoing training and those who will attend future courses under the auspices of this school because they will stand to benefit from the improvements made in this infrastructure.” Purisima said.

The Chief PNP added that the SAF Training Branch will play an important role in the achievement of one of the key objectives of the PNP P.A.T.R.O.L. Plan 2030 and strategic initiative embodied in CODE-P, which is to develop highly competent, motivated and values-oriented and disciplined personnel.

The SAF Training Branch has been making huge strides in its bid to become one of the premiere training institutions in the country, and in line with the PNP’s modernization program, strengthening of its personnel capabilities through the conduct of training courses with good training facilities is one of the priorities of the organization.

Purisima also commended the past and present leadership of SAF for initiating reforms and bringing the institution in a class of its own within the PNP.

The Chief PNP was assigned as Operations Officer of the former Philippine Constabulary SAF in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig for two years, from 1989 to 1991. (PNP-PIO)

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IPs to benefit from additional rights under Bangsamoro Law
Source: http://www.opapp.gov.ph
UPI, MAGUINDANAO – The Bangsamoro Basic Law will not only protect the rights of the indigenous peoples (IPs) enshrined in Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997 but more importantly, guarantee additional rights for them.

“The Bangsamoro Basic Law will be in favor of the Indigenous Peoples in the Bangsamoro because of the additional rights provided in the proposed law,” said Cagayan de Oro second district Representative Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the House of Representatives' Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL during Wednesday’s first out-of-town congressional hearing held in Upi, Maguindanao. “It is very clear that all the rights in the IPRA are already in the BBL and there are more,” he stressed.

Rodriguez issued the statement in response to concerns expressed by IP leaders that there should be no derogation and dilution of the IP rights already guaranteed in the IPRA.

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Assistant Secretary Howard Cafugauan affirmed Rodriguez’ statement and clarified that the protection of IP rights in the BBL is also accordance with the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples.

IPs political participation

At the same time, Cafugauan noted that beyond the definite recognition of IP rights in the Bangsamoro is the assurance of the right to political participation and representation in the Bangsamoro Government. Cafugauan cited Article VII, Sec. 5.3 of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, which provides for “sectoral representatives, constituting ten percent (10%) of the Members of Parliament, including two (2) reserved seats each for non-Moro indigenous communities and settler communities.”

He added that the BBL also provides for the creation of an appropriate ministry or office for the IPs by the Bangsamoro parliament. “This ministry of Indigenous Peoples is at the cabinet-level. This is how IP rights are significantly recognized and respected in the BBL,” Cafugauan said.

To ensure more opportunities for IPs political participation, Rodriguez also committed that Congress will consider the proposal given by the Indigenous Peoples Technical Working Group for a separate district for the municipalities of Datu Blah Sinsuat, South Upi, and North Upi in Maguindanao, which are largely populated by IPs.

Meanwhile, Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) legal consultant Atty Lanang Ali, Jr. also shared that IPs will receive higher equitable share in revenues from the exploration, development, and utilization of resources in their ancestral lands as opposed to the one-percent (1%) royalty provided for by the IPRA Law.

Tribal university

Rodriguez also noted the establishment of a tribal university system in the Bangsamoro which will help preserve all the customs and traditions, and cultures of the IPs in Mindanao, while also providing the much needed educational opportunities.

“I am excited for your children because I am of indigenous ancestry as my grandmother, Amparo Bagaboyo is a Higaonon from Bukidnon,” Rodriguez said, explaining that the BBL provides for the creation by the Bangsamoro parliament of a tribal university system that seeks to address the higher educational needs of the indigenous cultural communities in the Bangsamoro.

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Philippines, US sign MOU on Labor Rights
Source: http://www.dfa.gov.ph
24 October 2014 - The Philippine Government has taken another step in fulfilling its mandate to look after the interest and welfare of Filipinos abroad by partnering with the United States in reaching out and educating members of the Filipino-American community about their rights and responsibilities as employees and employers.

In a statement, the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. said the latest partnership between the Philippines and the US was formalized on October 22 with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The Embassy said the agreement, which was signed by Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. and NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin, seeks to strengthen bilateral efforts to provide Filipino workers, their employers, and Filipino business owners in the US with information, guidance, and access to education regarding their rights and responsibilities under the National Labor Relations Act.

“We welcome the opportunity of entering into worker-related bilateral agreements such as this MOU, as a step forward in the fulfillment of our mandate to protect worker rights,” Ambassador Cuisia said in his remarks during the signing ceremonies.

Ambassador Cuisia, at the same time, commended the US Government for strengthening its collaborations with the Philippines and other countries that have large worker populations in the US.

The MOU with the NLRB is the third agreement the Philippines has entered into with US labor agencies. The Embassy had previously signed agreements with the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the Department of Labor.

The NLRB is an independent agency responsible for enforcing the National Labor Relations Act, the primary law governing relations between employers and employees in the private sector. The Act guarantees workers the right to join together, with or without a union, to improve their wages and working conditions, or to refrain from such activities. Employers and employees alike are protected from unfair labor practices.

“As we partner with you in helping foster greater awareness among Filipino workers of their rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, we hope to do our part in promoting the essence of dignity at work which they deserve, while at the same time empowering them with decision-making capabilities available to them in a free and open society,” he said.

“This initiative is an affirmation of the US government’s advocacy for human rights and a demonstration of their appreciation for the Filipinos’ contribution to the US economy,” Ambassador Cuisia added.

The contribution of the Filipino-American community to the US economy was likewise cited by NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce in his remarks. NLRB General Counsel Griffin said the MOU encompasses the values and aspirations commonly shared by the Philippines and the US.

Philippine Consul General Fernandez said that under the framework, the NLRB and the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C., as well as NLRB Regional Offices and Philippine Consulates in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Honolulu, will cooperate to provide outreach, education, and training, and to develop best practices.

“The Embassy values these partnerships as a vital component of its Assistance-to-Nationals efforts,” he said.

Present at the event were NLRB officials as well as guests from the US Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. Victoria Navarro, immediate past president of the Philippine Nurses Association of America, also attended the ceremonies.

The event was witnessed via video conference by Consuls General Mario de Leon of the Philippine Consulate General in New York; Leo Herrera Lim in Los Angeles; and Henry Bensurto in San Francisco and was followed by respective engagements at the regional level.

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Filipino-Australian teen wins “The X-Factor Australia”
Source: http://www.dfa.gov.ph
24 October 2014 - Ms. Marlisa Ann Punzalan, a teenager of Filipino descent, was declared the winner of Australian television’s reality music competition, The X-Factor Australia, at the show’s grand finale on October 20 shown on Australia’s Channel Seven.

Ms. Punzalan, whom is 15 years old, is the daughter of Andrea and Lito Punzalan based in Glendenning, New South Wales. Marlisa’s parents are originally from Bataan and migrated to Australia before she was born.

Marlisa started singing at the age of four. According to Marlisa’s social media page, she performed in various piano performances at the Sydney Opera House and the Australian Conservatorium of Music from 2005 to 2006. She was the winner of the Sydney Eisteddfod Performing Arts Challenge in 2009 and 2011.

Marlisa has also performed in a number of Filipino community events, including the benefit concert for Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan victims, “United - Bringing Hope for the New Year” held last January 12 at the Burwood RSL Club in Burwood, New South Wales. She also performed at the “Bukas Palad" concert in 2012 for the benefit of those affected by Typhoon Sendong.

In The X-Factor Australia, Marlisa was mentored by Irish recording artist Ronan Keating. In the course of the competition, Marlisa was strongly supported by the members of the Filipino community and by friends and supporters who voted for her via SMS and social media.

In her comments after winning the competition, Marlisa thanked all the Filipinos who have supported her in her journey.

Viewers of The X-Factor caught a glimpse of Filipino culture in the episode aired on October 20, when Marlisa was shown going back to her home and being greeted by family and friends, after which she and Ronan put on traditional costumes and performed an Igorot dance. The homecoming was organised by various Filipino community organisations. Her victory was met with celebration by the Filipino community.

Members of the Filipino community hope that Marlisa’s victory would pave the way for other Filipino-Australian artists to be recognised in Australia. Her self-titled debut album, “Marlisa,” will be released next month.

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