04 JULY 2015

MWSS sets new prequalification for water PPP project
Bureau beefs up immigration service at NAIA3 “Better waiting periods after plan implementation”
The Philippines Ready to Present Its Case Before the Arbitral Tribunal on July 07-13 in the Hague, Netherlands
Ombudsman indicts Vitangcol, 5 others over MRT3 maintenance deal
Ombudsman indicts Gov. Ebdane for Graft, Usurpation of Official Functions
Senate employees discovered facilitating trafficking victims
Converge with us. Become recruitment centers of care and excellence, Baldoz tells recruitment agencies
A journey back home
DOJ creates Antitrust Task Force
DTI, BOI strengthens regional capability for investors
Philippines’ strong Fiscal Position decoupled from Greek fallout
DOF issues warning on scams
Mindanao Police to receive support in form of Patrol Jeeps
DILG, QC gov't turn informal settlers dreams into 'Concrete reality'
“No Mindanaoan will be left behind” – Luistro
Abad: VP Binay exposes own hypocrisy; Budget chief hits VP's flip-flopping on housing issue
Pinay scientists in career-related talks at DOST's National Science and Technology Week
Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCII) and The Department of Foreign Affairs look forward to a continued partnership
PDIC advises borrowers of Siargao Bank (A Rural Bank), Inc. to pay their obligations
COA officials brief Tanzanian team on COA anti-corruption efforts

MWSS sets new prequalification for water PPP project
Source: http://www.ppp.gov.ph
 
The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) invites interested private companies to participate in the pre-qualification and bidding for the design, financing and construction of the dam and raw water conveyance structure for the PhP 18.72 Billion New Centennial Water Source – Kaliwa Dam Project under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Program.

MWSS has republished the Invitation to Pre-Qualify and Bid (ITPB) and will conduct another round of prequalification process following the disqualification of the three prospective bidders due to non-compliance with prequalification requirements.

Interested bidders may obtain invitation documents from MWSS starting July 6 to September 15, 2015.

They have until 12:00 noon on September 16 to submit their complete and duly accomplished pre-qualification documents.

The PPP bidding will be conducted in accordance with Republic Act 7718 or the Amended Philippine BOT Law and its Implementing Rules and Regulations.

The project aims to ensure long term water security in Metro Manila and nearby provinces by increasing raw water supply to meet future potable water demand. It will also address the need for an additional water supply source, reducing dependency on the Angat Dam reservoir.

The private partner will be responsible for the financing, detailed design and construction of the Kaliwa Dam, the intake facilities, other pertinent facilities and a water conveyance tunnel.

Under a Build-Transfer contractual arrangement the government will pay the private partner with fixed annual amortization over 25 years.

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Bureau beefs up immigration service at NAIA3 “Better waiting periods after plan implementation”
Source: http://www.immigration.gov.ph
 
Manila, Philippines, July 3, 2015---Bureau of Immigration (BI) spokesperson Elaine Tan says that they will implement a new deployment plan at the airport counters to avoid a repeat of the horrendous long queues which happened at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminal 3 (NAIA3) last Thursday morning.

Effective July 1, the Bureau implemented a new personnel deployment scheme in NAIA 3 with 7 shifts instead of the usual 3 shifts based on the expected volume of passengers. While July 1 was a transition period, all passengers were timely cleared and none missed their flights due to long immigration lines.

With the new plan, expect a better waiting period at the counters, assures Tan.

Tan admitted that the bureau failed to anticipate the unusual spike in tourist departures that day. Reports show that the long queue began at around 5 am when only eight Immigration Officers were left to process a total of 1,767 passengers for 11 flights.

“More and more tourists are coming in and out of our country. For us at the bureau of Immigration, this adds to the challenge. In spite of our numbers, we will ensure a more efficient deployment of our people so that we are responsive to the increasing demands at the counters. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that this incident may have caused to the travelers. We request for your kind understanding and consideration,” said Tan.

Bureau chief Siegfred Mison have called on the terminal head and the duty supervisor for their explanation as to why they failed to manage the queue.

“We are still getting all the facts from terminal head Chem Siguan and the duty supervisor. We apologize for this temporary inconvenience AND firmly commit to the public that such events, if inexcusable, will not happen again considering that we are MAXIMIZING the number of immigration inspectors during peak hours,” Mison adds.

Due to the limited number of immigration officers, those assigned at the arrival counters are directed to augment the workforce at the departure area whenever possible. “However, due to the heavy passenger density at the arrival area, the scheme was not possible,” added Tan.

Despite the limited resources, BI promised the public that the same incident will not happen again. The BI has formulated a new schedule to maximize its workforce during peak hours, by adjusting the duty shifts to seven instead of the existing four shifts, with overlaps between shifts.

BI likewise reminded the traveling public to be at the airport at least three hours before their estimated departure time, and must be cleared at the immigration inspection at least 45 minutes before boarding time.

“Our immigration officers call out passengers whose flights are about to depart, so it is best to approach the immigration duty supervisor if we know that we are about to be late,” advised Tan.”

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The Philippines Ready to Present Its Case Before the Arbitral Tribunal on July 07-13 in the Hague, Netherlands
Source: http://www.dfa.gov.ph
 
The Philippines is set to argue its case before the Arbitral Tribunal in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands on July 07-13. The hearings will address the issue of the Arbitral Tribunal’s jurisdiction over the case.

Solicitor General Florin T. Hilbay, as agent of the Philippines, together with the counsels from the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Foley and Hoag, headed by Mr. Paul Reichler, will present the country’s position.

The Philippine delegation will be composed of Solicitor General Hilbay and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario, as well as officials from the Solicitor General’s office and the Department of Foreign Affairs. They will be joined by high-ranking officials from the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial departments.

If the tribunal decides that it has jurisdiction over the case, the Philippines will be asked at a future date to present its oral arguments on the merits of the case.

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Ombudsman indicts Vitangcol, 5 others over MRT3 maintenance deal
Source: http://www.ombudsman.gov.ph
 
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales directed the filing of Informations against Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT3) ex-General Manager Al Vitangcol III and five incorporators of Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corporation (PH Trams) for violations of Sections 3(e) and 3(h) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Section 65(c)(1) of the Government Procurement Reform Act, arising from the MRT3 interim maintenance contract.

In a 39-page Resolution, Ombudsman Morales found probable cause that Vitangcol, Wilson De Vera, Marlo Dela Cruz, Manolo Maralit, Federico Remo and Vitangcol’s uncle-in-law, Arturo Soriano, presently the Provincial Accountant of Pangasinan, conspired to irregularly award the MRT3 contract to the PH Trams-CB&T joint venture.

The Resolution held that Vitangcol used his power and authority as general manager/ chief end-user, head of the negotiating team, member of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), all in one, “to dictate the proponents invited for the preliminary negotiations” of the maintenance services and “intentionally hid his [affinitive] relationship with Soriano, which would have automatically disqualified PH Trams.”

The Resolution also ruled that the PH Trams incorporators were equally held liable for executing a false Affidavit of Disclosure dated 12 August 2012 stating that none of the incorporators are related by affinity with any member of the procurement teams. It found unavailing Soriano’s claim that he divested his interest on 10 September 2012, as such waiver was not recorded in the Securities and Exchange Commission and runs contrary to Soriano’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) declaring that he obtained an interest as a stockholder of PH Trams in November 2012.

Antecedents show that a maintenance agreement was entered into in December 1997 between MRT Corporation (MRTC) and Sumitomo Corporation for the safe and proper operations of the trains, including the provision for labor and supervision. The original maintenance agreement between MRTC and Sumitomo expired on 21 June 2010 and had undergone four extensions from June 2010 until October 2012. Fifteen days prior to the expiration of the last extension, the BAC adopted a resolution to undertake the procurement of an interim maintenance provider for six months and negotiate its terms and conditions. The Negotiating Team recommended that the project be awarded to PH Trams - CB&T joint venture in the amount of US$1.15 million monthly. On October 20, 2012, the project was awarded to PH Trams - CB&T and was renewed three times until 04 September 2013.

Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 prohibits public officials from causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence, while Section 3(h) prohibits public officials 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, or in which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any law from having any interest.

Meanwhile, Section 65(c)(1) of R.A. 9184 punishes the act of “submit[ting] eligibility requirements of whatever kind and nature that contain false information or falsified documents calculated to influence the outcome of the eligibility screening process or conceal such information in the eligibility requirements when the information will lead to a declaration of ineligibility from participating in public bidding.”

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Ombudsman indicts Gov. Ebdane for Graft, Usurpation of Official Functions
Source: http://www.ombudsman.gov.ph
 
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales found probable cause to indict Zambales Governor Hermogenes Ebdane, Jr. for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act (RA) No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and Usurpation of Official Functions under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).

In a 32-page Resolution by the Special Panel of the Environmental Ombudsman Team, Ombudsman Morales also approved the indictment of Romelino Gojo, member of the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB), private individuals Weng Chen, Camilo Esico and three others connected with Geoking Asia Mining Corporation (Geoking) for Theft of Minerals under Section 103 of R.A. 7942 (Philippine Mining Act of 1995).

The case stemmed from a complaint filed by Consolidated Mines, Inc. (CMI), the mineral rights holder of the area covered by the Coto Chromite Project (Coto Mines) under a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA), which has been operating the Coto Mines for more than five decades.

The CMI complaint alleges that Gojo and a group of police officers headed by PNP Provincial Director Francisco Santiago, Jr. forcibly entered Coto Mines on October 30, 2011 and presented a Small-Scale Mining Permit (SSMP) and other permits, all signed by Ebdane and issued in favor of Esico. They thereupon dismantled the security checkpoints, established their own outpost along the road going to the chromite stockpiles, and threatened CMI personnel, with Gojo uttering, “Kung gusto ninyong magdemanda, idemanda ninyo si Governor Ebdane.” Complainant later found out that Ebdane issued several SSMPs. It further averred that the following day, Chen and a group of Chinese nationals entered the premises with police officers who have since assisted Chen, et al. in taking, hauling, transporting and shipping chromite fines valued at more than P211 million.

The Resolution ruled that Ebdane usurped the functions of the PMRB when he issued the SSMPs without authority, and thereby gave unwarranted benefits to Esico, et al. It stated that under R.A. 7076 (People’s Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991), the evaluation, negotiation and award of small-scale mining contracts are done by the Provincial or City Mining Regulatory Board. It explained that the PMRB’s ratification of the SSMPs in July 2012 is inconsequential since SSMPs issued by a governor are null and void, citing Calanza v. PICOP.

In finding probable cause for Theft of Minerals, the Ombudsman Environmental Team found it unlawful for Gojo, Esico, Chen, et al. to haul 12 trucks of chromite fines from the Coto Mines in November 2011, which fact was established by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Fact-Finding Report, eyewitnesses’ account, photographs and video footages. The Resolution ruled that the issue of ownership lies between CMI and the State, hence, the claim of ownership of Esico, et al. lacks basis. It noted that it was not within Gojo’s function as PMRB member to implement an SSMP.

The Resolution found insufficient evidence, however, to indict Santiago and respondent-policemen who were able to establish that the dismantling of CMI’s checkpoints was prompted by Masinloc Mayor Desiree Edora’s indorsement of a municipal Resolution requesting police assistance in maintaining peace and order at a provincial road outside CMI’s MPSA area and authorizing them to dismantle illegal checkpoints that prevented the passage of the public and the delivery of basic services. Complainant’s bare allegations of their takeover and their participation in the hauling of chromite fines were not corroborated by any other evidence.

Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 prohibits public officials from causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence, while Article 177 of the RPC penalizes “[a]ny person x x x who, under pretense of official position, shall perform any act pertaining to any person in authority or public officer of the Philippine Government or any foreign government, or any agency thereof, without being lawfully entitled to do so.” Section 103 of R.A. 7942 punishes “any person x x x [who] steals minerals or ores or the products thereof from mines or mills or processing plants[.]”

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Senate employees discovered facilitating trafficking victims
Source: http://www.immigration.gov.ph
 
MANILA, Philippines—Bureau of Immigration (BI) Officers discovered an attempt to traffic three female victims to illegally work as domestic helpers in China last June 26.

The victims, whose names are withheld for their safety, attempted to depart for China via Cathay Pacific Flight No. CX904.

They were escorted by a certain Wilma Manalo and Ana Tomarong, who both claimed employees of the Senate of the Philippines. Ms. Tomarong claimed to be the employer of two of the victims, while Ms. Manalo claimed to be their neighbor.

Upon inspection, Travel Control and Enforcement Unit Officers Vincent Estacio, Rey Daquipil, and Justin Jimenez noticed major inconsistencies in their statements.

The three victims later admitted that they did not know Tomarong, and they were recruited by Manalo to work as domestic helpers in China despite having only tourist visas and lacking clearance from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

They were likewise promised a P30,000 salary, but were told they each needed to pay a P20,000 ‘debt’ to their recruiters for six months.

“The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act states that recruiting and transporting workers by means of fraud and deception is punishable by law,” said Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison. “Our Immigration Officers are trained to detect any such attempt, and we will make sure that we do our duty to protect Filipinos from human trafficking and illegal recruitment syndicates,” he added.

All three victims, including Manalo and Tomorong, were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for further investigation.

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Converge with us. Become recruitment centers of care and excellence, Baldoz tells recruitment agencies
Source: http://www.dole.gov.ph
 
Just as the DOLE and the Department of Foreign Affairs are doing their utmost to transform Philippine Overseas Labor Offices and Philippine Embassies and Consulates into centers of care and excellence for overseas Filipino workers as mandated by President Benigno S. Aquino III, so must recruitment agencies also become so that the government and the private sector can have a seamless system for protecting workers being deployed to overseas labor markets.

This was the challenge posed by Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday to officials and members of the Philippine Association of Service Exporters, Inc. (PASEI), one of the country’s leading associations of overseas recruitment agencies.

In a speech delivered on her behalf by Philippine Overseas Employment Administration chief Hans Leo J. Cacdac at the PASEI’s 15th annual general membership meeting, Baldoz emphasized that the promotion of the welfare and protection of the rights of Filipinos who opt to work overseas is the DOLE’s continuing commitment, alongside efforts to facilitate the creation of better local employment opportunities.

“PASEI has been a strong social partner of the government, along with the other industry associations and civil society in promoting the interest and welfare of OFWs. Your efforts to support our anti-illegal recruitment and trafficking campaign and other welfare initiatives are much appreciated. But I believe there are more reforms you can do to professionalize your sector and strengthen initiatives on ethical recruitment. PASEI members must strive to be models of recruitment agencies practicing the highest ethical standards for OFW deployment,” said Baldoz.

She said that to do this, there are basic things that PASEI—and the industry—must do. First, she said the recruitment industry must have a change in business mindset and culture.

“The recruitment of OFWs is not an ordinary business. You deal with human beings who needed to be treated with dignity and respect. You must stop the race for quantity. You must opt for quality deployment,” she said.

Agencies, Baldoz reminded, must first be fully compliant with the laws, rules and regulations and labor standards set by the government for license holders.

She also said recruitment agencies should have strong financial guarantees to deal with the risks of the industry.

“Your agencies should not operate as mom-and-pop stores, but as strong companies who are competitive and financially viable to undertake the requirements of such a complex business, and to be able to deploy top-notch human resources for global businesses.

She said agencies must adopt quality systems certified by international certifying bodies, such the ISO, to ensure they are efficient, transparent and compliant with government regulations and standards.

“Your employees should be properly trained and compensated and imbued with proper work values that are the core of what will spell as ethical recruiters. The use of unauthorized personnel or agents by some unscrupulous agencies must be stopped because this is one factor that renders our workers vulnerable to abuses from the very start of the recruitment process,” she said.

The labor and employment chief further said an important aspect of quality systems is an efficient and effective database and monitoring and reporting system for workers, one that is capable of monitoring departure, situation in the jobsite, and return to the country.

“This becomes essential in times of emergency or crisis situations. Online systems that can connect with those of the POEA, OWWA and the POLO will not only promote efficiency and transparency but help monitor workers better to ensure their continuing welfare,” she said, adding:

“This is why we have asked recruiters of domestic workers to put up a Facebook account where their workers can send positive and negative signals of the status of their employment in the jobsite. There could be other innovative medium that you can look at to help you in the basic responsibility of looking after your workers’ welfare, even after you have deployed them.”

She urged PASEI to deploy highly-skilled workers by adopting good skills-matching systems and investing in training and certification or partnering with employers and other entities which can help develop such workers.

“Employers and agencies should view training and education of workers as investment, not as cost. This will ensure continuous supply of highly-qualified Filipino workers for the global labor market,” she said.

She also urged PASEI members to be selective in choosing business partners. “You should opt for quality employers who share your core values in business, so you can do business with them for the long-term. Quality employers pay good service fees. This will enable you to deliver quality services, in terms of deployment of highly-qualified workers who are protected on both ends of the market, from recruitment to employment, and even until their reintegration back to the Philippines,” she further said.

Finally, Baldoz challenged PASEI to converge with the POEA, OWWA, and POLOs to make DOLE reforms work meaningfully for OFWs. This, she said is imperative because of the many issues and challenges of managing migration, such as the continued growth in deployment and OFW remittances; sustaining global competitiveness and ensuring their welfare through the ups and downs of the global economy; technological changes; volatility of the political landscape in major countries of destinations; and risk of pandemic diseases.

“Maximizing the benefits and minimizing the costs for our OFWs, their families, and the country is something that we should continue to work on together for effective migration governance,” Baldoz said.

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A journey back home
Source: http://www.dswd.gov.ph
 
For James Beni Wilson, courage was all that he needed to overcome his deep-rooted fear of knowing his past.

Adopted as a baby, Beni, as he is fondly called by his friends, was raised in the United States of America (USA) but decided to embark on a journey back to the Philippines to complete his identity.

“As I grew up in a foreign country, I started to see the difference between myself and the community. I felt that I did not belong,” said Beni.

He added that kids on their neighborhood would say a lot of nasty words about his physical appearance, especially about the color of his skin.

In spite of the hardships, Beni still tried hard to live and grow up normally, but deep in his heart he knew that a part of his identity still needed to be discovered.

Tracing roots

When Beni turned 18 years old, he contacted the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Central Visayas to help him locate and meet his biological parents and relatives.

After receiving confirmation from DSWD, Beni returned on August 2013 to his birthplace and started gathering important details about his missing past. This was his first time to set foot in his birthplace since he was adopted.

During his stay in his hometown, he found out that his second name, “Beni,” is a Visayan word for “Binitay,” which means “hanged” in English.

Beni was given that name because he was allegedly found hanging on a banana tree when he was still a baby, by a woman named Elizabeth Ochia. Elizabeth surrendered him to the Local Social Welfare and Development Office in Tabogon, northeast of Cebu.

To Beni’s surprise, however, a twist in his story was later revealed.

He learned that Elizabeth, the woman who allegedly found him, was his biological mother. Beni further learned that he was christened Isagani Gulina Ochia by his biological family.

“Reading my case study report prepared by the DSWD made me wonder how a mother could abandon her child,” said James.

Acceptance and understanding

It took him a month to process the information emotionally before eventually realizing that there must have been a reason why he was surrendered by his mother. He eventually forgave his mother and accepted his fate.

Beni never had a chance to talk to Elizabeth as she died of liver cirrhosis four months before he arrived in the Philippines. But his relatives told him about their family’s situation back then and how hard it had been for Elizabeth to give him up.

In fact, Beni’s biological family tried to get him back but it was too late for he had already been adopted by an American couple from Michigan through inter-country adoption.

Inter-country adoption refers to the process where a Filipino child is legally adopted by a foreigner or a Filipino citizen permanently residing abroad where the petition for adoption is filed.

Inter-country adoption is a step taken when domestic adoption is not immediately possible, and this is undertaken through the Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB), an attached agency of DSWD.

Quality time with biological relatives

On April 29, 2015, Beni made his second visit to the Philippines. Unlike his first visit, Beni had more time to bond with his biological family.

By constantly communicating with his immediate family and relatives, he learned more things about himself. Slowly, his longtime questions about his true identity have been answered.

Helping fellow Filipino adoptees

Currently, Beni is back in the USA, carrying with him his goal to help fellow Filipino adoptees.

He now serves as a camp counselor for the Filipino Heritage Camp for Filipino adoptees in Colorado. Through this program, he is able to interact with the Filipino adoptees and help them by sharing his experiences.

“I hope that I am able to connect with other Filipino adoptees because I want to see if they have similar feelings and experiences that I had while growing up as an adoptee, specifically those who were adopted by foreigners,” he disclosed.

To his fellow adoptees, Beni would advise them to learn more about themselves. He added, “Get information about your background and have an open mind to accept your past.”

Beni has a full-time job. But he plans to take up Bachelors in Social Work at Arizona State University through their online courses to gain more knowledge on how to deal with various kinds of people who need help.

Today, Beni has accepted his past and has moved on. With that, he can now focus on the present with the goal of achieving a better future with his loving parents, his newfound relatives, and his vocation of helping fellow adoptees.

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DOJ creates Antitrust Task Force
Source: http://www.doj.gov.ph
 
The Secretary of Justice recently constituted the Task Force on Anti-Competitive Agreements and Cartels to handle cases involving violations of competition laws.

"Effective anti-cartel enforcement requires a dedicated unit equipped with the necessary tools and capacity to handle the complex nature of competition cases," said Secretary Leila M. De Lima. "We also recommended to the Supreme Court the designation of specialized courts to hear and decide competition cases," she added.

The Task Force is composed of five (5) members from DOJ offices including the National Prosecution Service (NPS), Office of the Chief State Counsel and Office for Competition (OFC).

"This initiative is an indication of the Department's serious stance in the fight against the most harmful forms of business conduct," said Prosecutor General Claro M. Arellano.

Assistant Secretary Geronimo L. Sy said that "the focus is on price fixing, output restriction, market allocation, bid-rigging and similar anticompetitive agreements. The use of investigative strategies and techniques rounded on international best practices is key to enforcement," he added.

Meanwhile, the legislature ratified on 10 June 2015 the Philippine Competition Act that penalizes bad market behavior and abuse of dominant position, further strengthening the competition reforms which the DOJ -OFC has consistently supported and advocated.

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DTI, BOI strengthens regional capability for investors
Source: http://www.dti.gov.ph
As the Philippines continues to enjoy high investor confidence, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Board of Investments (BOI) continue to build sustainable groundwork to promote investments in the various regions of the country.

“In collaboration with DTI’s regional offices, we have stepped up our promotion efforts to drive economic activities nationwide, especially in investment-ready areas,” DTI-Industry Promotions Group (IPG) Undersecretary Ponciano C. Manalo Jr. said.

The BOI through its Domestic Investments Promotion Service (DIPS) and the Investment Assistance Service (IAS) recently synchronized their respective programs to conduct the investment counseling and capability-building training on investments promotion with focus on project plan preparation.

“With these efforts, we expect a more vibrant DTI and BOI presence in providing frontline services to investors in the regions,” Manalo said.

He also noted that this training intends to refine the skills of the DTI regional and provincial frontline staff and the Local Economic and Investment Promotion Officers (LEIPOs) assigned in the regional Negosyo Centers in assisting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and providing advanced advisory services on investments.

He added that project preparation skills of the stakeholders will be enriched to generate ready to go investment projects for promotion and possible BOI registration.

Aside from the frontline DTI regional and provincial staff and LEIPOs in Negosyo Center, participants in trainings also include economic stakeholders from the local chambers of commerce and industry, industry associations, SMEs, academe and representatives from the other line agencies.

These series of trainings nationwide started last May. Similar trainings are scheduled in Region 7 (Cebu City) from 13 to 14 July 2015 and Region 3 (San Fernando, Pampanga) from 8 to 9 October 2015.

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Philippines’ strong Fiscal Position decoupled from Greek fallout
Source: http://www.dof.gov.ph
 
With Greece missing its repayment to the IMF last 30 June 2015, emerging markets are expected to be at risk of capital flow reversal which can be prompted by either loss of investor confidence, asset price shifts, increase in borrowing costs, and foreign rate volatility. The Philippines stands as a pillar of stability in the region with a sound fiscal position decoupled from any spillover effects.

The Philippines has no significant exposure to Greece having minimal trade with a mere 0.01% of total exports and only 0.02% of total imports from Greece in 2014. Likewise, remittances from Greece account for only 1.38% of the total.

The Philippines has continued to strengthen its macroeconomic fundamentals, with the widening of fiscal space, tamed inflation, robust reserves, and the strong performance of a well-capitalized banking sector, enabling the country to withstand external shocks and other challenges to price and financial stability.

According to the IMF, these fundamentals should provide for the necessary cushion to be able to manage the effects and respond adequately due to ample policy space.

Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima said, “The Philippines is prepared to navigate through challenges from uncertainties brought about by external risks and factors. We continue to develop measures fortifying the economic fundamentals we have built, as well as increasing competitiveness in the country, reaping brighter prospects for higher and more durable growth.”

The national government continues to safeguard its sound fiscal performance. Both the IMF and the World Bank forecast that for the next three years, growth will be above 6%, allowing financial and external developments to prevent any real economic decline. Primary balance is also maintained as no new debt has been issued to finance interest payments.

Since 2003, the country’s general government debt-to-GDP ratio has consistently dropped from 68.1% to only 36.4% in 2014. This widening fiscal space allows room for more expansionary fiscal policy, giving the government the ability to spend more on infrastructure, social services and other development initiatives to further boost the economy.
In addition, the government of the Philippines also undertakes prudent policies on debt and liability management including preferences for domestic over foreign debt, and long-term debts over short-term debts. The reduced reliance on external financing makes the country less susceptible to foreign exchange volatilities while long-term debts insulates the country from liquidity problems that short-term debts bring about.

The adequate reserves that the Philippines holds serve as a buffer for external risks as well. The central bank’s reserves stood at $80.4 billion as of May 2015, and can cover about 10-11 month’s worth of imports and is 4.5 times the country’s debts maturing within the short term. Inflation has therefore been tamed and kept within official targets, giving the monetary authorities more room for maneuverings.

The Philippines has been enjoying surpluses in its current account due to sustained rise in remittances, and tourism and BPO receipts. For this year, the central bank projects a current account surplus of $14.2 billion compared with the surplus of $12.7 billion last year.

Further, the Philippines actively participates in various regional cooperation frameworks such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, that serve as a platform for policy dialogues on global imbalances, developing precautionary arrangements to prevent crisis episodes and deepen financial stability.

“The overall decline of the debt burden, strong external position and banking system, stable inflation, well managed fiscal position, and participation in cooperative frameworks sustains market confidence in the country. While the Philippines stands in good stead to navigate the challenges not only from Greece but emerging bouts of uncertainties, it is imperative to stay on the course of reform and maintain vigilance to put the country on path of sustained, higher and inclusive growth.” Purisima added.

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DOF issues warning on scams
Source: http://www.dof.gov.ph
 
The Department of Finance would like to inform the public that certain letters are circulating, requesting individuals to provide sensitive personal information, in the guise of official business as authorized by the Department.

The DOF has received reports from individuals being contacted by persons claiming to be DOF employees using the e-mail address dof.gov.ph@execs.com.

In the letters, supposed DOF employees request for pertinent information from unsuspecting individuals, to be used for the investigation of fraudulent companies, or to facilitate the transfer of funds through a spurious investment scheme to so-called beneficiaries, among others.

The DOF would like to clarify that these letters are bogus and the DOF representatives are likewise fictitious.

Evidently, this is a type of scam to elicit information and funds from individuals by unlawfully using the name of the Department of Finance.

Solicitation of such information in writing, accompanied by a promise of compensation, is a hallmark of an attempted scam.

The public is advised to be highly cautious of such notices, especially from entities and individuals claiming to transact on behalf of Philippine government agencies. Verification of official and legitimate activities can be done through the DOF website: http://www.dof.gov.ph/.

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Mindanao Police to receive support in form of Patrol Jeeps
Source: http://www.dilg.gov.ph
 
Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Mar Roxas is set to officially turn-over 71 multi-purpose patrol jeeps for the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Mindanao on July 3 and 4 to support ongoing operations against crime, insurgencies, and natural calamities.

These patrol jeeps are part of the 1,490 vehicles recently purchased by the PNP and will be given to the provinces of Misamis Oriental (23), Misamis Occidental (14), Lanao del Norte (22), Dinagat Islands (7), and Camiguin (5).

Prior to this, Roxas had also turned over 80 patrol vehicles to the provinces of South Cotabato (10), Sarangani (7), Bukidnon (20), Agusan del Norte (10), Compostela Valley (11), Davao del Norte (8), Davao del Sur (9), and Davao Occidental (5).

The DILG Chief wants to strengthen the local police forces for they are the frontliners in maintaining peace and order in our communities.

Roxas hopes the new vehicles will bring about faster growth and development due to a safer and more secure environment.

“There is no development without peace and no peace without development," he said.

The procurement of new patrol jeeps is a significant part of OPLAN Lambat-Sibat, an anti-crime campaign that employs a deliberate (hindi bara-bara, hindi patsamba-tsamba), programmatic (hindi kanya-kanya), and sustained (hindi ningas-cogon) approach.

The program’s success in the National Capital Region prompted Roxas to cascade Oplan Lambat-Sibat nationwide.

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DILG, QC gov't turn informal settlers dreams into 'Concrete reality'
Source: http://www.dilg.gov.ph
 
This was how Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas envisioned the transformation of the lives of 765 informal settler families from Brgy. Apolonio Samson, Quezon City, who will soon hold the keys to their new homes.

After visiting the proposed construction site in Kaingin Bukid, Roxas signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) yesterday between the DILG and the Quezon City Government, granting the latter a sum of P100 million for the construction of more than 800 brand new, safe, and high quality houses, as part of the national government's public safety and relocation program.

"Pera po ninyo ito na hindi ninakaw, hindi ginamit sa masama, at ngayo'y ibinabalik sa tao," Roxas told around 500 residents of Brgy. Apolonio Samson in attendance.

He also joined Mayor Herbert Bautista and 6th District Rep. Kit Belmonte in unveiling the proposed subdivision scheme for the on-site relocation project for the people of Brgy. Apolonio Samson.

"A picture tells a thousand words. At dito makikita natin ang larawan ng tagumpay," Roxas told the audience, who shouted and cheered in excitement for their new homes.

Roxas took time to share with the audience his own anxiety over their current living conditions, which are prone to perennial hazards.

Kaingin Bukid is located near the San Juan River and has always been prone to regular floods. At nighttime, the flood reaches up to an average of seven feet, posing significant danger for the children and the elderly in the area.

In addition, a fire ravaged the homes of more than 2,000 families who lived in the area last January 1, leading to widespread devastation of the families' lives.

In response, the DILG, in cooperation with the local government of Quezon City, intervened and came up with the project that was a product of collaboration among various stakeholders.

In his speech, Roxas likened the project to a human hand with five fingers, which cannot work properly and effectively without even one of the "fingers," referring to the main stakeholders in the project.

He mentioned the national government composed of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor (PCUP), DILG, and the Office of the President; the legislature that allotted funds for the project through the General Appropriations Act of 2014; the local government unit (LGU); the barangays, that are closest to constituents; and the people themselves who actively participated in finalizing the People's Plan.

This is a distinct feature of DILG's relocation program called OPLAN Likas where the people themselves determine the terms of their relocation through the active participation of people's organizations (POs) in communities.

"Dito makikita natin ang whole of government approach. Ibig sabihin, buong pamahalaan ang dinala para tingnan ang isang problema at ambag-ambagan, gumawa ng solusyon," Roxas stressed.

In 2013, the President directed Roxas to immediately spearhead the transfer of informal settler families (ISFs) living in dangerous and high-risk areas to decent relocation sites within and outside Metro Manila cities.

This is also part of President Aquino's social contract with the Filipino people, expressing the administration's "commitment to inclusive urban development," that is translated through programs such as OPLAN Likas, which aims to assist ISFs in transferring to safer homes and in building stronger communities with sufficient economic and social capital.

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“No Mindanaoan will be left behind” – Luistro
Source: http://www.deped.gov.ph
 
Cagayan de Oro—“Part of the challenge of the K to 12 Program is that no Mindanaoan will be left behind. If Mindanao progresses, the Philippines will progress,” Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro FSC said during the gathering of over 4,000 education stakeholders from Mindanao supporting the education reform.

“K to 12 is not just a national educational reform program. This reform was anchored in hopes, dreams and challenges that you in Mindanao faced. It is the time for the educators and stakeholders here to rewrite the story of Mindanao,” Luistro added.

Tagum City Mayor Allan Rellon said that the local government of Tagum is committed in the successful implementation of the said education reform, saying, “The success of the K to 12 Program is not just the success of DepEd but also the success of all Filipinos.”

“We, education stakeholders, made it a point that education is not a spending but an investment. K to 12 is an investment for the future,” Rellon added.

Several students from Mindanao shared how the K to 12 Program and their decision to undergo the early implementation of Senior High School changed the course of their lives.

“Isa ako sa magandang bunga ng K to 12 sa pagkakaroon ng magandang training na kailangan ko sa paghahanap-buhay. Nagagamit ko ang mga kasanayang nakamit sa isang tribal school,” said Marian Clarell Bularon, Grade 11, Kling National High School in Sarangani.

Lyn Joy Olana, a Grade 9 indigenous learner from Impasugong National High School in Bukidnon also attested that in K to 12, their cultural knowledge is being recognized and given importance. She added that “the implementation of K to 12 serves as a helping hand for the Indigenous Peoples to boost us to do our best in school.”

Elaine Salar, a mother from Surigao City, lauded the K to 12 Program as his son landed a job as encoder after finishing the program. “Now, I truly believe that K to 12 is a big help to the families, especially the least fortunate families,” Salar said.

“I had a hard time figuring out what would happen to me after fourth year high school. I came from a poor family,” said Marion Sonorio, an SHS graduate of a technical−vocational course from Iligan City National School of Fisheries. He said that, after taking up commercial cooking, he immediately found a job as cook in a local restaurant. Months after, he was promoted as assistant supervisor.

Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno said that he sees a brighter future for the Mindanaoans with the full implementation of the K to 12 Program.

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Abad: VP Binay exposes own hypocrisy; Budget chief hits VP's flip-flopping on housing issue
Source: http://www.dbm.gov.ph
 
Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad today struck at claims made by Vice President Jejomar Binay, after the latter alleged that the Administration’s budget for housing initiatives was diverted from the Vice President’s agencies to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Contrary to the Vice President’s allegations, DBM records show that the four housing corporations headed by Binay—including the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC), Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC), Home Guaranty Corporation (HGC), and National Housing Authority (NHA)—have received a total of P116.3 billion pesos, beginning 2010 until 2015.

“Why does the Vice President insist on misleading the public, especially when the facts will so easily debunk his claims? The Aquino administration has offered consistent budgetary support to the Vice President’s housing agencies since 2010. We do this exactly because we understand the urgent nature of providing housing services to Filipino families, especially the poorest and most marginalized,” Abad said.

“What’s most galling is the fact that just last year, Binay gave effusive thanks to the President for the support that was given to the Vice President’s housing programs. Perhaps Binay doesn’t realize that by repeatedly contradicting himself, he exposes his character for what it really is,” Abad added.

Vice President Binay was previously quoted in an October 2014 Philippine Daily Inquirer article, “Amid trials, Binay bares successes in housing.” In stark contrast to his recent attacks against the housing budget, Binay then claimed that “The government housing sector is very grateful for the support given by the President in the housing programs of the shelter agencies. These achievements would not have happened without the support of the President.”

The Budget Secretary also denounced inconsistencies in the statements released by the Vice President, particularly with respect to issues on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).

“Binay was already quoted as saying that the NHA was under OP and that the HGC was a GOCC, conveniently avoiding the fact that he chairs both agencies. He did this to save face after he attacked the government for using DAP when agencies under him received and utilized P11.45 billion in DAP funds in October 2011. And during that period and until his resignation, Binay never said anything,” Abad said.

“Recently, the Vice President boasted about the ‘record and performance’ of HUDCC under his watch. But didn’t an UNA official just say that HUDCC is under the OP, after we reminded the Vice President of the DAP support that the agency received? It’s almost a joke—and not a very funny one—when Binay keeps contradicting himself in this fashion. He’s certainly more than happy to take the credit when it benefits him. Unfortunately, however, he’s not quite as eager to be truthful or answerable to the people,” Abad said.

Abad criticized the Vice President’s refusal to respond to various corruption allegations, as well as Binay’s sustained attacks on the Aquino administration.

“The challenge of accountability is one where the Vice President continues to disappoint. To this day, he refuses to address the corruption allegations against him in the proper forum, preferring instead to spread lies about the Administration. That’s not public service. But that’s exactly what politicking looks like,” Abad said.

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Pinay scientists in career-related talks at DOST's National Science and Technology Week
Source: http://dost.gov.ph
 
Four successful scientists and alumni of the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Science High School (DOST-PSHS) will give career-related talks on July 27, 2015 at the Outcome 7 Exhibit Area, SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia, Pasay City, in celebration of the weeklong National Science and Technology Week (NSTW).

Dr. Ma. Corazon A. de Ungria, of PSHS Main Campus Batch 1985 and who now heads the DNA Analysis Laboratory of UP Diliman’s National Sciences Research Institute, is slated to give a talk from 10:00 to 11:00 am. She will be followed by Dr. Reinabelle Reyes, PSHS Main Campus Batch 2001, an astrophysicist who led a team that proved Einstein’s Theory of Relativity on a cosmic level and another team that discovered 900 quasars, the largest number of super massive black holes found. From 1:30 to 2:30 pm, Balik-Scientist Dr. Mary Ann Go, PSHS Eastern Visayas Campus Batch 2000, will share her knowledge on neuroscience. Next to deliver a talk is Ma. Antonia Arroyo, PSHS Main Campus Batch 1995, at 2:30-3:30 pm. Arroyo is the CEO and founder of Hybridigm Consulting, the premier and pioneering biotechnology consulting and commercialization firm in the Philippines.

Chosen for their outstanding scientific contributions, these Filipina scientists are among the DOST scholars who will be featured in an exhibit during the NSTW. Entitled “She for We: Highlighting the Role, Life and Achievement of Filipina Scientists in the Local and International Scientific Community,” the exhibit is a celebration of the contributions of Filipina science scholars and scientists in the country and the world.

Why the Filipina scientists? The exhibit proponents, DOST agencies namely Science Education Institute (SEI), PSHS System and the National Academy of Science & Technology, rationalize that the science community has been, at different points in time, regarded as a male-dominated body with women relegated to the sidelines. Despite the vast contributions that the female scientists and engineers have given mankind, they are overshadowed by the gender bias that often favors their male counterparts, the proponents said.

In the Philippines, the ratio between male and female scientists slightly favors the male group. The latest Human Resource in Science and Technology in the Philippines study by SEI revealed that engineering, architecture and related professions remain male-dominated while medical professions like midwifery and nursing, remain female-dominated.

Initiatives to create greater awareness is important to bring about a change in culture in the scientific community and show the need to make opportunities that will provide equal access to Filipinas in the scientific community here and abroad, the agency proponents added.

Aside from the aforementioned scientists, the other DOST scholars and Filipina scientists who will be featured in the exhibit are Dr. Gay Perez, Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevara, Dr. Rosalia Mercado-Simmen, Dr. Cymbeline T. Culiat, Dr. Maria Victoria Espaldon, Dr. Jacq Romero, Maria Antonia Romero, Dr. Lourdes Cruz, Dr. Milagros Ibe, Dr. Ester Ogena, Dr. Aura Matias, Dr. May Lim, Dr. Dolores Ramirez, Dr. Josette Biyo, Dr. Carmencita Padilla, and Dr. Filipinas Natividad
The exhibit will highlight the role of these DOST Filipina scholars and scientists as pioneers, movers, risk takers, builders, innovators, dreamers, wall breakers, technopreneurs, icons and torchbearers.

Get to know them and be inspired by their lives. Come and view the exhibition. Free tickets are available at the venue or call 434-1066, for ticket reservation. For more info, visit: http://nstw.dost.gov.ph/. Free admission.

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Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCII) and The Department of Foreign Affairs look forward to a continued partnership
Source: http://www.dfa.gov.ph
 
03 July 2015 – The new set of officers of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) for the term 2015-2017 paid a courtesy call on Secretary Albert F. del Rosario at the Department of Foreign Affairs last Friday, June 26.

Secretary del Rosario and the officers of FFCCCII agreed on the importance of further enhancing Philippines-China economic exchanges. Secretary del Rosario expressed his appreciation for the Federation’s role in the increasing trade and investment between the Philippines and China. FFCCCII said they look forward to continued partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs especially in supporting Philippines-China bilateral relations.

President of FFCCCII Mr. Angel Ngu also offered their support to the Philippines’ hosting of APEC this year. He said, “As the voice of Filipino Chinese business community, our Federation seeks to promote the competitiveness of our industries both locally and globally, and foster participation in international trade initiatives like APEC and the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community.”

The Secretary and FFCCCII also exchanged ideas on tourism, foreign investments, infrastructure development and ASEAN integration.

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PDIC advises borrowers of Siargao Bank (A Rural Bank), Inc. to pay their obligations
Source: http://www.pdic.gov.ph
 
The Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC), the Receiver of the closed Siargao Bank (A Rural Bank), Inc. reminded borrowers of the bank to continue to pay their loans and transact only with authorized PDIC representatives. Siargao Bank was placed under the receivership of the PDIC by virtue of Monetary Board Resolution No. 919.B dated June 11, 2015.

In a statement, PDIC advised borrowers of Siargao Bank to pay their loans and other obligations directly at any Philippine National Bank (PNB) Branch under account name, PDIC FAO BURL (SIARGAO BANK, INC.). PDIC emphasized that it has not engaged any person, agent or agency to collect the loan payments for and in behalf of the bank.

To ensure proper recording of their payments, PDIC further advised borrowers to keep copies of the PNB Deposit/Payment Slips. The PDIC emphasized that for payments to be valid, it must be supported by a machine-validated PNB Deposit/Payment Slip. Official receipts will be issued by PDIC upon validation of payments and will be sent through mail to the borrowers. For proper accounting of their payments, borrowers who do not receive their official receipts are advised to send a photocopy of their deposit slips by mail to the Deputy Receiver for loans Democrito L. Bitang at the PDIC Office, 5th Floor, SSS Bldg., Ayala Avenue corner V.A. Rufino St., Makati City or send via e-mail to Ignacio M. Quintano at imquintano@pdic.gov.ph and to Ms. Thelma A. Peña at tbarias@pdic.gov.ph.

Borrowers of the bank may also communicate with the PDIC-Loans Management Department I at (02) 841-4992 or 841-4766. Queries may also be sent through email at pad@pdic.gov.ph.

Siargao Bank is a three-unit rural bank with Head Office located at 03406 Jose C. Sering Bldg., Borromeo St., Surigao City, Surigao del Norte. Its two branches are located in Dapa and Mainit, both in Surigao del Norte.

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COA officials brief Tanzanian team on COA anti-corruption efforts
Source: http://www.coa.gov.ph
 
Commission on Audit (COA) officials briefed a team from the Zanzibar Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Authority (ZACECA) of Tanzania on COA’s roles and mandate in the fight against corruption as well as issues and challenges on audit intervention during a study tour held on June 22, 2015.

Assistant Commissioner Alexander B. Juliano discussed COA’s anti-corruption mandate, including “prevention/disallowance of irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant, or unconscionable expenditures, or uses of government funds and properties.” He also described fraud and forensic audits which COA conducts, the Citizen Participatory Audit project which was founded on the rationale that public accountability can foster only with vigilance of the citizenry, and other anti-corruption programs of COA such as the creation of a Prosecution and Litigation Office tasked to initiate complaints and assist in the prosecution of cases arising from audit actions, and initiatives as a permanent member of the Inter-agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council.

The team from Tanzania was composed of ZACECA Acting Director General Mr. Ali Juma Haji and Acting Head of Investigation Mr. Khamis Bakar Amani accompanied by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Analyst Ms. Fe Cabral. The UNDP together with the Office of the Ombudsman organized the Tanzania study tour on anti-corruption in the Philippines which ran from June 22 to 26, 2015.

COA Chairman Michael G. Aguinaldo, Commissioners Heidi L. Mendoza and Jose A. Fabia, Assistant Commissioner Luz L. Tolentino, Director Jonathan B. Beltran, and Assistant Director Eugenio R. Dizon also attended the meeting and answered questions from the Tanzanian team during the open forum.

Aside from COA, the team from Zanzibar also visited the UNDP Country Office, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Sandiganbayan, the House of Representatives—House Committee on Good Governance and Public Accountability, the Anti-Money Laundering Council, the Department of Justice, and various civil society organizations and anti-corruption advocates.

The study tour aims to strengthen the capabilities of ZACECA as an institution to perform its mandate to investigate anti-corruption cases by engaging and learning from the experiences of a country with more mature anti-corruption infrastructures and mechanisms and more vibrant civil society.

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