10 FEBRUARY 2016

DILG: 977 former rebels to get P63.5-million financial assistance
Ombudsman investigates local officials for illegal dump sites
BSP Rediscount Rates for February 2016 and availments as of January 2016
MB lifts restrictions on establishment of new banks
House approves Anti-Age Discrimination in Employment Act on 2nd reading
Dinky should ask Palace for El Niño funds - Recto
Drilon urges SC to hold marathon hearings on Poe DQ case
Mahindra went public bidding -PNP
SSS shares experience on calamity assistance with Bangladesh officials
Business opportunities and franchising for Balikbayans highlighted in New York seminar
Modernizing the Philippine agri sector
February 2016 Physical and Occupational Therapist Licensure Examinations results released in two (2) working days
Manufacturing sector continues to grow in December 2015
PH PPP rail piloted for int’l project preparation platform

DILG: 977 former rebels to get P63.5-million financial assistance
Source: http://www.dilg.gov.ph
 
Around P63.5-million in financial assistance will be provided to a targeted 977 former rebels (FRs) who are projected to surrender this year under the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s (DILG’s) Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP).

CLIP is a peace building and social protection program for former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and National Democratic Front who have decided to abandon armed struggle, return to the folds of the law and rejoin the society.

“The goal is to facilitate the mainstreaming of FRs as productive citizens and enhance capacities of local government units (LGUs) and National Government Agencies (NGAs) in the implementation and sustainability of the CLIP,” said DILG Secretary Mel Senen S. Sarmiento.

Under the program, P15,000 is given per FR as an immediate assistance for mobilization expenses while the FR’s enrolment in the CLIP is being processed. Another P50,000 is given for livelihood assistance per FR.

Aside from CLIP financial aid, the government also offers cash incentives in exchange for their high-caliber firearms. Firearms remuneration depends on the type of firearms surrendered by FRs.

The DILG Secretary said FRs are also given security guarantees by the LGU or police force in cooperation with the military from the time the FR had surfaced, and while the FR is enrolled under the CLIP.

FRs as well as their families and communities also undergo healing and reconciliation initiatives to provide psycho-social support, he said.

Additional assistance may include capacity building, skills trainings, provision of shelter and legal assistance, among others.

The CLIP began in 2014 with 347 FR enrollees and increased last year to 643 enrolled FRs. Before CLIP, the government has implemented similar programs to encourage former rebels to return to the fold of the law, such as the National Reconciliation and Development Program (NRDP) in 1986, the new NRDP in 1992, National Program for Unification and Development (NPUD) in 1994, the Expanded NPUD “Balik-loob Program” in 2000 and the Social Integration Program implemented from 2007 until 2010.

DILG in Serbisyo Caravan

Further recognizing that peace-building is a shared effort, the DILG actively participates in the National Serbisyo Caravan which is being held in several areas in the country.

The 5th Serbisyo Caravan has just culminated in Gingoog, Misamis Oriental last February 2-4, 2016.

Through the National Serbisyo Caravan, different government agencies deliver services directly to geographically isolated, underdeveloped, and conflict-affected areas.

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Ombudsman investigates local officials for illegal dump sites
Source: http://www.ombudsman.gov.ph
 
The Office of the Ombudsman is set to investigate close to 600 local government executives in the 13 administrative regions for violations of Republic Act No. 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000).

In 50 complaints filed by Romeo Hidalgo of the Ecowaste Coalition, it was reported that “field investigations reveal that the officials committed violations of RA 9003 and its implementing rules and regulations.”

According to the complainant, mayors, vice-mayors and Sanggunian members have “the mandate to establish policies and having control over the funds of the city” and that “they conspired in committing the violations of R.A. No. 9003 within their jurisdiction.”

Under R.A. No. 9003, “no open dump sites shall be established and operated, nor any practice or disposal of solid waste by any person, including LGUs, which constitutes the use of open dumps for solid wastes, be allowed after the effectivity of this Act, every LGU shall convert its open dumps to controlled dumps.”

It will be recalled that in 2013, the Environmental Ombudsman program, in collaboration with the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), launched a three-year nationwide campaign to increase awareness of, and promote voluntary compliance with R.A. No. 9003.

Under this program, the local government units were directed to conduct their respective self-assessment as to their compliance status and to voluntarily implement corrective actions. Two years after implementation, tracer results show that R.A. No. 9003 remains to be the least prioritized local government program.

The DENR-EMB has identified and submitted the list of 350 LGUs with recurring and blatant violations of open dump sites to the Ombudsman.

Phase two of the project aims to improve compliance through the submission by the LGUs of their respective Priority Corrective Action Plan (PCAP) to be implemented within a six-month period and/or the submission of a 10-year Solid Waste Management Plan.

Under its mandate, the Environmental Ombudsman Team headed by Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard Mosquera, shall handle complaints filed against any public official, employee, office or agency mandated to protect the environment and conserve natural resources where the act complained of appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient.

The Team also acts on any malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance committed by any public officer or employee, including conspiring private individuals, if said act or omission involves any violation of environmental laws or concerns or relates to environmental protection or conservation.

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BSP Rediscount Rates for February 2016 and availments as of January 2016
Source: http://www.bsp.gov.ph
 

The BSP announced today the applicable Peso Rediscount Facility and Exporters Dollar and Yen Rediscount Facility (EDYRF) rates for the month of February 2016 and loan availments as of end-January 2016.

The Peso Rediscount Facility rates for Rediscounting Windows (RWs) I and II for February 2016 are as follows: 

 

Loan Maturity

Rate (%)

RW I

RW II

30 days

6.1250

4.0000

90 days

6.1875

4.0000

180 days

6.2500

4.0625

360 days

n/a

4.1250

The Peso rediscount rates for RW I and RW II are effective starting 15 September 2014 up to the next policy rates revision and are based on the applicable BSP one-month repurchase rate and overnight reverse repurchase rate, respectively, plus term premia for longer maturities per Circular No. 806 dated 15 August 2013.

The following are the rates for the month of February for loans under the EDYRF:

Loan 
Maturity

Rate (%)

Dollar

Yen

1-90 days

2.61260

2.04771

91-180 days

2.67510

2.11021

181-360 days

2.73760

2.17271

The EDYRF rates are based on the respective 90-day London Inter-Bank Offered Rate (LIBOR) as of 29 January 2016 plus 200 basis points plus term premia for longer maturities pursuant to Circular No. 807 dated 15 August 2013.

Under the Peso Rediscount Facility, total availments amounted to P11 million for the period 01 to 31 January 2016, which is 82.0 percent lower than the P61 million total availments during the same period last year. Out of the aggregate availments for the period, 37.7 percent went to agricultural credits and the remaining 62.3 percent went to capital expenditure under other credits.

There was no dollar and yen availment for the period 01 to 31 January 2016 under the EDYRF, nor for the same period in 2015.

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MB lifts restrictions on establishment of new banks
Source: http://www.bsp.gov.ph
 
The Monetary Board (MB) has approved the gradual lifting of the moratorium on the granting of licenses for the establishment of new banks.

The approval of the MB comes in two phases, the initial phase of which takes effect until end-2017. During this time, existing thrift banks may apply for a license to convert into a universal or commercial (U/KB) bank.

The second phase will commence on 1 January 2018 from which point all restrictions on the granting of all new bank licenses shall be fully lifted.

This initiative provides local businesses the avenue to explore opportunities in the banking sector amid the opening of the industry to foreign capital infusion. The two-year transition period also gives interested parties ample time to strategically position themselves in line with evolving policy reforms and regional integration efforts,” said MB Chairman and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr.

The previous moratorium took effect in 1999 as a policy initiative to encourage mergers and consolidations to facilitate the establishment of larger and stronger financial institutions.

The only exception to the moratorium was the granting of license for new banks in unbanked areas as well as for microfinance-oriented thrift and rural banks.

Under said regulation approved by the MB, all of these restrictions and exemptions will be fully lifted in Phase 2. Said regulation also provides for a graduated matrix of application and licensing fees. However, in line with the continuing policy thrust of the BSP on Financial Inclusion, as well as for stronger financial institutions, applications for new banks with head offices in unbanked areas as well as applications for mergers and acquisitions for distressed banks are exempted from said fees.

To provide further for a general incentive for the new regulation, documentary requirements for the establishment of new banks have likewise been rationalized.

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House approves Anti-Age Discrimination in Employment Act on 2nd reading
Source: http://www.congress.gov.ph
 
The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill seeking to prohibit and penalize the discrimination against any individual in employment on account of age.

Approved by the House is House Bill 6418 or the proposed "Anti-Age Discrimination in Employment Act," which provides that the State shall promote equal opportunities in employment for everyone, hence its policy shall be to promote employment of individuals on the basis of their abilities, knowledge, skills and qualifications rather their age.

The State shall also prohibit arbitrary age limitations in employment and promote the rights of all employees and workers, regardless of age, to be treated equally in terms of compensation, benefits, promotion, training and other employment opportunities.

The bill was endorsed for plenary approval by the House committee on labor and employment chaired by Rep. Karlo Alexei B. Nograles. It substituted House Bill 5698 authored by Deputy Speaker and Nueva Vizcaya Lone District Rep. Carlos M. Padilla; HB 411 by Rep. Susan A. Yap (2nd District, Tarlac); HB 268 by Rep. Eric L. Olivarez (1st District, Parañaque City); HBs 1753 and 2280 by Rep. Emi Calixto-Rubiano (Lone District, Pasay City); HB 502 by Rep. Rodolfo G. Biazon (Lone District, Muntinlupa City); HB 2416 by Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez (4th District, Leyte); HB 3139 by Gabriela Party-list Reps. Emmi A. De Jesus and Luzviminda C. Ilagan, Bayan Muna Party-list Reps. Neri J. Colmenares and Isagani T. Zarate, Rep. Terry L. Ridon (Party-list, Kabataan), and Rep. Antonio L. Tinio (Party-list, ACT); HB 3281 by Reps. Rufus B. Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) and Maximo B. Rodriguez, Jr. (Party-list ABAMIN); and HB 5723 by Rep. Rolando G. Andaya, Jr. (1st District, Camarines Sur).

Padilla said in these times of global recession, a number of Filipinos have lost their jobs, while many employers have limited the work hours of their employees and reduced their take- home pay.

Padilla said unemployment rate has gone up, especially as fresh graduates continue to join the labor force. Because of this, a new type of discrimination has emerged, which is discrimination against an individual due to age according to Padilla.

"These displaced workers face a bleak future, especially since most employers prefer young employees. Prejudice against an aging workforce is evident in the qualifications posted in job notices and differences in benefits received," said Padilla.

House Bill 6418 covers all employers, labor contractors or subcontractors and labor organizations, the government and all its branches, subdivisions and instrumentalities, all government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), and government financial institutions (GFIs), and also non-profit private institutions or organizations.

The bill makes it unlawful for the employer to print or publish or cause to be printed or published, in any form of media, including the internet, any notice of advertisement relating to employment suggesting preferences, limitations, specifications, and discrimination based on age.

It also prohibits the employer from requiring the declaration of age or birth date during the application process; declining any employment application because of the individual's age; discriminating against an individual in terms of compensation, terms and conditions, or privileges of employment on account of such individual's age.

Moreover, it shall be unlawful for the employer to: deny any employee's or worker's promotion or opportunity for training because of age; forcibly lay-off an employee on the basis of old age; or impose early retirement on the basis of such employee's or worker's age.

On the part of a labor organization, it shall be unlawful to: deny membership to any individual because of such individual's age; exclude from its membership any individual because of such individual's age; or cause or attempt to cause an employer to discriminate against an individual in violation of the Act.

On the part of a publisher, it shall be unlawful to print or publish any notice of advertisement relating to employment suggesting preferences, limitations, specification, and discrimination based on age.

It shall, however, not be unlawful for an employer to set age limitation in employment if: age is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary in the normal operation of a particular business or where the differentiation is based on reasonable factors other than age; the intent is to observe the terms of a bona fide seniority system that is not intended to evade the purpose of the Act; the intent is to observe the terms of a bona fide employee retirement or a voluntary early retirement plan consistent with the purpose of the Act. Provided that such retirement or voluntary retirement plan is in accordance with the purpose of the Act; and the action is duly certified by the Secretary of Labor and Employment in accordance with the purpose of the Act.

Violators of the Act shall be punished with a fine of P50,000 to P500,000, or imprisonment of three months to two years, or both at the discretion of the court.

If the offense is committed by a corporation, trust, firm, partnership or association or other entity, the penalty shall be imposed upon its guilty officer or officers.

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Dinky should ask Palace for El Niño funds - Recto
Source: http://www.senate.gov.ph
 
The chairman of the Senate body in charge of the budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said there is "absolutely no time" for the adjourned Congress to tackle the agency's request for a P6.7 billion aid package for families who could be affected by El Niño.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, who also chairs the Finance subcommittee overseeing the DSWD budget, instead suggested that the funds being sought to help an estimated 2.5 million families be sourced from the P38.9 billion Calamity Fund.

Another alternative, Recto said, is for the government "to ramp up spending of its P766.5 billion public sector infrastructure budget this year so that local jobs can be created, especially in El Niño areas."

Included in the above are allocations for farm projects, like the P14.7 billion for the construction or repair of farm-to-market roads and the P25.5 billion for irrigation, Recto said.

Recto also called for the fast implementation of P24.7 billion worth of Bottom Up Budgeting (BUB) projects, "which people in the grassroots themselves identified."

Government is also building 43,000 classrooms this year, at a cost of P61.8 billion, he said. "If the funds for these can be mobilized, just think of how many jobs it can create."

"The idea is to create an assistance fund which is an ideal mixture of jobs and social assistance. It cannot be purely dole out. There should be a sweat equity on the part of the recipient," he said.

There are "hundreds of billions" already appropriated, the senator stressed. "It is just a matter of quick but judicious spending. If there is natural calamity coming, we should not aggravate it with the man-made disaster called underspending."

"Sa agriculture na lang, halos P95 billion ang nakalaan na pondo sa taong ito, P56.6 billion sa Department of Agriculture (DA) at P38.4 billion sa Office of the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization," he said.

Recto explained that "if by 'supplemental budget', the DSWD meant one that is given by Congress, I think that route is closed."

Congress has adjourned for a three-and-half month election break. It will reconvene in the last week of May: first, to act as a presidential canvassing board and then to wrap up unfinished business during what is considered a "lame duck session."

Recto said "[DSWD Secretary] Dinky's best bet is to get funds from the Palace. Because if it would come from Congress, then it would come in June, after summer, when the full brunt of El Niño is already in effect."

"Kung dito sa lehislatura, at kung sa Mayo pa, parang tapos na ang sunog saka lang maaapprove ang pambili ng fire extinguisher. Tutal nandyan na ang pondo, so doon sya humingi sa Palasyo," he added.

In addition to the almost P40 billion Calamity Fund, which is officially called the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund, Recto said there is also the "P2.5 billion presidential Contingent Fund" which can be tapped.

Even the DSWD, Recto pointed out, has funds outside what has been earmarked for Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), which can be tapped.

"There's almost P11 billion for community -built projects under the KALAHI-CIDDS National Community Driven Development program. Meron pang P9.6 billion for livelihood," he said.

DSWD's budget this year is P110.4 billion.

"Maraming oportunidad para sa food-for-work or emergency employment sa kanayunan. Sabi mismo ng pamahalaan, 1,285 kilometro ng farm-to-market road ang gagawin at 37,068 kilometers ng irrigation canal ang aayusin ngayong taon," Recto said.

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Drilon urges SC to hold marathon hearings on Poe DQ case
Source: http://www.senate.gov.ph
 
Senate President Franklin M. Drilon expressed his disappointment with the Supreme Court for having "no sense of urgency" in deciding the disqualification case against presidential aspirant Senator Grace Poe.

"I am not happy with the pace of trial in the Supreme Court. It appears that the High Court lacks a sense of urgency. This is not an ordinary case. It will have a vast impact on our future," Drilon said.

Drilon, who is seeking a re-election under the administration's Liberal Party, said that it is within the Supreme Court's power to hold marathon hearings on cases of this magnitude and importance.

"Having oral arguments once a week, that is not giving it the urgency it deserves. I'm not dictating on the court, but it is very frustrating because we know for certain that the court could hasten the process by conducting marathon hearings but it has chosen not do so," Drilon said.

He thus urged the court "to give the case extra ordinary attention, so that it can be decided earlier in order to protect the integrity and credibility of the May 2016 polls."

Drilon recalled that in a similar plea in the past, the Supreme Court rebuffed him by saying "we know what we are doing." Drilon said "such arrogance does not have a place in a public discourse."

"The issue cannot be left hanging. The case is posing serious threats to fair and credible elections in May and only the Supreme Court's prompt action can eliminate that threat by resolving the case at the soonest," Drilon stressed.

"As I've said, the election is a basic tenet of democracy and any threat to it should be immediately resolved," he concluded.

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Mahindra went public bidding -PNP
Source: http://pnp.gov.ph
 
The Philippine National Police (PNP) reaffirms that the 1,470 units of Mahindra Enforcer, Single Cab 4x2, patrol jeeps went public bidding on January 2015 which was undertaken by the Procurement Service – Department of Budget Management (PS-DBM).

Together with Toyota, Mitsubishi, Isuzu, and Ford, the Columbian AutoCar Corporation (CAC) (Mahindra) attended a pre-bidding conference on January 21, 2015.

Opening and evaluation of bids were made on February 5, 2015 where the procurement of patrol jeeps was divided into four (4) lots where CAC won the four (4) lots as the single lowest calculated bidder (SLCB), however, Toyota Quezon Avenue manifested that it will file a motion for reconsideration for Lot 1 where it joined.

On February 26, 2015, opening of bids of patrol jeeps for financial envelope of Toyota Quezon Ave. for lot 1 was made because the Toyota’s motion for reconsideration was granted by the PS-DBM. However, the amount offered by Toyota which is Php 950,000 is still higher that the amount offered by CAC with Php 840,000 value per unit.

For Lot 2, only Mahindra submitted bid of Php 880,000 per unit; For Lot 3, only Mahindra submitted bid of Php 920,000 per unit; and For Lot 4, only Mahindra submitted bid of Php 920,000 per unit.

The prototype sample of CAC was found complying after final deliberation of the PS DBM. The vehicles passed the functional and endurance test ensuring that specifications provided by the PNP were followed accordingly; therefore, CAC was declared as the Single Calculated Responsive Bid (SCRB) on March 16, 2015.

Accordingly PS-DBM did not choose Columbian AutoCar Corporation (Mahindra), but it is the bidding process, under RA 9184, which chose Mahindra because it was able to offer the most competitive price.

PNP or DBM-PS is legally bound to follow RA 9184 which compels the government to choose the lowest price offered provided it meets the specifications.

RA 9184, or the government Procurement Reform Act, prohibits tailor fitting to a specific brand or discriminating on the basis of country of origin. By choosing the lowest price offered in this case by Mahindra, the government was able to save almost 100 Million Pesos which PNP can use to buy more patrol jeeps.

The PNP firmly believe that the procurement of Mahindra patrol jeeps conducted by no less than the PS-DBM is fair, transparent and advantageous to the Government. (PNP-PIO)

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SSS shares experience on calamity assistance with Bangladesh officials
Source: https://www.sss.gov.ph
 
The Social Security System (SSS) shared the highlights of its 58-year experience in pension fund management, grant of various benefits and calamity assistance during the SSS Study Tour for officials of the Bangladesh Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief (MDMR) at the SSS Main Office in Diliman, Quezon City on January 5. It was the first study tour conducted by SSS for Bangladesh nationals, and featured the kinds of assistance the SSS gives its members during times of calamities and disasters. The study tour was granted at the request of the Center for Disaster Preparedness, which is the MDMR?s counterpart agency in the Philippines.

SSS Senior Vice President for Administration Group Ms. May Catherine C. Ciriaco (7th from left) delivered a lecture for the Bangladeshi delegates, namely (starting 2nd from left) Mr. Dilip Kumar Sen, Mr. A.B.M Akram Hossain, Mr. Md. Aowlad Hossain Khan, Mrs. Ishrat Jahan Taslim, Mr. Md. Siddiqur Rahman, Mr. Satyendra Kumar Sarkar, Mrs. Sultana Sayeeda, Mr. Gias Uddin Ahmed, Mr. ASM Shahidul Islam, Mr. Mohammed Asaduzzaman, Mr. Md. Shafiqul Islam. Also present were SSS Corporate Communications Department Officer-in-Charge Ms. Sonia P. Guinto (right) and Special Events and Promotions Team Head Ms. Evelyn R. Binarao (left).

In 2015, the SSS conducted study tours for four universities, including the Technological Institute of the Philippines from Quezon City; St. Anthony's College - Department of Engineering from Antique; University of Southeastern Philippines from Davao City; and Filamer Christian University - College of Computer Studies from Roxas City. Visitors from two foreign government agencies -- the Employees Trust Fund from Brunei Darussalam and Employees Provident Fund from Nepal -- also benefited from SSS study tours and lectures on SSS coverage, collections, benefits, actuarial fund life and self-service facilities, among others.

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Business opportunities and franchising for Balikbayans highlighted in New York seminar
Source: http://www.dfa.gov.ph
 
09 February 2016 - The Philippine Consulate General in New York hosted a Seminar on Franchising and Business Opportunities in the Philippines for Balikbayans on February 01 at the Kalayaan Hall of the New York Philippine Center. The seminar was led by Professor Enrique M. Soriano, a noted book author and columnist in the Philippines, whose varied past occupations have also included being the Chairman of Eastwood City, First President of Travelers International (Resorts World), Head of Megaworld Lifestyle Malls, Chairman of the Marketing Com Phil. Retirement Inc., Group CEO of Belo Medical Group and CEO of Medsonix Philippines.

The evening’s program began with a short briefing presentation by Ms. Rowena Sy-Santos, Co-Executive Director of the Bagong Kulturang Pinoy (BKP), who explained to the audience her organization’s services and advocacy where Filipino immigrants sponsor and fund libraries and bring books from the U.S. to rural areas in the Philippines.

Deputy Consul General Kira Christianne Danganan-Azucena welcomed the participants and briefly spoke about the emergence of the Philippine economy in recent years due to a platform combining good governance and the institution of sound macroeconomic fundamentals. Then, as she introduced the program speaker, she pointed out the importance of the seminar for many “Overseas Filipinos who are ever so mindful of our country’s situation as not a few of us continue to support family members and friends back home. There is wisdom in finding business opportunities for ourselves and our family members in our golden years. As 2016 is a Presidential election year, Overseas Filipinos should take their duty to vote seriously and choose leaders who can continue reforms and provide a stable economic environment,” she added.

In his presentation, Prof. Soriano stressed the importance of creating your own compelling story when it came to initiating successful and productive private businesses. He discussed how knowledge was a valuable equalizer in all successful businesses and cited the examples of lucrative food/drug franchises based in the Philippines which have now expanded to different locations throughout the country and even to global locations in North America, Europe and the Middle East, including Jollibee, Julie’s Bakeshop, Mini-Stop, Generika Drugstore, and Mr. Softy, all of which are affordable and recognizable brands beginning at P500k investment.

Prof. Soriano also shared his experiences working with some of the most prolific business tycoons in the Philippines, including Henry Sy, Sr., John Gokongwei, Jr., and Andrew Tan, and how he acquired much practical knowledge in business management from working with them.

He further illustrated valuable lesson points in franchising, specifically the need for focus, hiring and paying the right people, efficient customer service, aggressive yet prudent financial discipline, brand investment, powerful value propositions, tenacity and executional excellence.

Audience members were given a chance to share their views and to inquire more on franchising and business opportunities with Prof. Soriano during the program’s question-and-answer portion. Consul Felipe Carino, director of the economic section, then awarded Prof. Soriano with a Certificate of Appreciation for serving as the evening’s resource speaker.

This seminar is one of the first public service events regularly conducted by the Consulate General throughout the year in cooperation with and for the benefit of the local community.

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Modernizing the Philippine agri sector
Source: http://www.da.gov.ph
The Philippine government aims to attain farm modernization at 4-horsepower per hectare (HP/ha) to be able to meet the requirements of the regional integration and be at par with its ASEAN neighbors.

“We are getting there,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said stressing that recent reports show the local agriculture, particularly the rice sector, is now close to 3 HP/ha.

“This number is double the 2010 status at ¾ or .75HP/ha,” he added.

“At wag po kayong mag-alala, despite the modernization of the agricultural sector, no farmers will be left jobless, “ he assured.

The agri chief stressed that part of the mechanization program is enhancing and building the capabilities of farmers to be service providers.

“Aside from providing state-of-the-art machines and facilities, we will provide farmers trainings on how to operate these high-tech equipment and how to run a business,” he said.

The local agri scene has been undergoing major development thru the interventions downloaded by the Department of Agriculture regional field units to farmers’ groups and associations.

Alcala has been visiting rural communities across the country as part of the national drive to reduce the gap between the government and the Filipino people.

Last week, Alcala together with agriculture regional directors and agency heads visited Tuguegarao in the Cagayan Valley Region for the Farmers’ and Agricultural Extensionists’ Congress. More than 8,000 farmers, fishers and other stakeholders participated.

“The government will continue to provide assistance to you, but you have to tell us what you need, it has to come from you,” he said.

“Ako po ay naririto upang iparamdam sa inyo ang mga programa ng pamahalaan, dahil sa lahat pong proyektong agrikultural na nais ninyong simulan, nandito kaming naka-agapay sa inyo,” he said.

Since 2010, DA has distributed thousands of units of farm equipment and facilities including high-powered four-wheel drive tractors, combine harvesters, and rice mills, among others.

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February 2016 Physical and Occupational Therapist Licensure Examinations results released in two (2) working days
Source: http://www.prc.gov.ph
 
The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) announces that 521 out of 912 passed the Physical Therapist Licensure Examination and 55 out of 102 passed the Occupational Therapist Licensure Examination given by the Board of Physical and Occupational Therapy in the cities of Manila and Cebu this February 2016.

The members of the Board of Physical and Occupational Therapy who gave the licensure examinations are Pollyana G. Escano, Chairman; Raul G. Agustin, Bernadette M. Reyes, Delia R. Pabalan and Rolland Lyle D. Duque, Members.

The results were released in two (2) working days from the last day of examinations.

Registration for the issuance of Professional Identification Card (ID) and Certificate of Registration will be on February 17 to 19, 2016. Those who will register are required to bring the following: duly accomplished Oath Form or Panunumpa ng Propesyonal, current Community Tax Certificate (cedula), 1 piece passport size picture (colored with white background and complete name tag), 2 sets of metered documentary stamps and 1 short brown envelope with name and profession and to pay the Initial Registration Fee of P600 and Annual Registration Fee of P450 for 2016-2019. Successful examinees should personally register and sign in the Roster of Registered Professionals.

The date and venue for the oathtaking ceremony of the new successful examinees in the said examination WILL BE ANNOUNCED LATER.

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Manufacturing sector continues to grow in December 2015
Source: http://www.neda.gov.ph
 
MANILA — The manufacturing sector continued to grow in December 2015 as construction activity picks up and oil prices still drop, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

In the Philippine Statistics Authority’s Monthly Integrated Survey of Selected Industries for December 2015, the Volume of Production Index (VoPI) grew by 4.9 percent, a steady push from its growth of 4.4 percent in the previous month, while the Value of Production (VaPI) decreased by 2.6 percent.

“We must continue to help the manufacturing sector realize its potential by creating and strengthening linkages across all production sectors. This will enhance its capacity to absorb labor,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Emmanuel F. Esguerra.

For consumer goods, beverages leaped from its negative performance in the previous month to 12.0 percent growth in volume of production and 15.2-percent growth in value of production—tripling its performance from November 2015.

On the other hand, the drop in the food subsector slowed down in both production volume and value, registering a contraction of 1.3 and 2.7 percent, respectively. This is due to the persistent dry spell brought about by El Niño in the second semester of 2015.

“It is important to broaden the scope of supply and marketing linkages to dampen the impact of the El Niño which is reported to last until the second quarter of 2016. This includes encouraging more processing and better storage, packaging, and marketing of agricultural products to expand product range and reach a wider market,” the NEDA official said.

He added that the government must continue to improve infrastructure to support business activity and encourage businesses to reap the benefits of free trade agreements through aggressive information-sharing schemes and simplified bureaucratic processes.

“Smooth flow of goods can be achieved through adequate and resilient road networks, seaports and airports, and reliable telecommunication services. These improvements will enhance the capacity of local players to participate in global value chains,” said Esguerra.

For intermediate goods, non-metallic mineral products led a double-digit boom by 18.8 and 18.2 percent in volume and value of production, while paper and paper products came in second posting 18.6 and 18.8 percent growth in volume and production.

However, petroleum continued to decline, posting a drop of 33.8 and 40.6 percent in volume and value of production due to the weak global demand and oversupply in the world market.

For capital goods, machinery, except electrical machinery, posted a double-digit growth of 17.8 and 22.2 percent in volume and value of production. The transport sector also grew at a rapid pace of 13.0 and 9.9 percent in volume and value of production following the attractive financing schemes for automotive sales.

Meanwhile, the average capacity utilization of firms maintained its growth at 83.5 percent, with basic metals posting the highest utilization rate of 88.5 percent. .

“Despite the unfavorable economic global climate, the sector remains optimistic in 2016. With low and stable inflation and good employment opportunities, consumers have increased spending power, which strengthens domestic demand. The continued drop in petroleum prices will also keep operating costs minimal, and this is expected to boost the volume of production,” said Esguerra, who is also NEDA Director-General.

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PH PPP rail piloted for int’l project preparation platform
Source: http://ppp.gov.ph
 
The Philippines recently took part in the global launching of the International Infrastructure Support System (IISS), a project preparation platform developed by the Sustainable Infrastructure Foundation (SIF) in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank.

The IISS is a new online cloud-based project development tool for project sponsors to attract and increase investment in infrastructure. The Center sees this as a useful marketing tool to promote the Philippine PPP program in the global market and ensure greater participation in the country’s PPP projects.

IISS utilizes an online IT platform targeted specifically for project preparation, collaboration and information sharing. It offers different templates for government agencies and private entities to help improve the quality and transparency of projects prepared ensuring a wider range of public, PPP and private funding options.

As one of the pilot countries to use the IISS platform, the Philippines included the North-South Rail project (NSRP) as one of the first projects to use the IISS platform. The NSRP is currently undergoing a competitive bidding process. The USD 3.7 B rail project is one of several rail projects being undertaken by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) under a public-private partnership scheme.

Five companies, namely San Miguel Holdings Corporation, Metro Pacific Investment Corporation, AC Infrastructure Holdings Corporation, Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Transport Networks Limited and Fluor Daniel Pacific Inc., a subsidiary of Fluor Corporation are set to submit their pre-qualification documents for the NSRP on March 31, 2016, the deadline for submission.

The PPP Center’s participation to the IISS gives it the exposure to a wider range of would be investors for its PPP projects.

The Center’s involvement on the IISS complements the homegrown Virtual Data Room (VDR) that is being used by Implementing Agencies and investors as the repository of PPP project documents during the bidding process. The VDR is part of the Center’s knowledge management (KM) portal which acts as a strategic tool in centralizing all PPP related documents by storing information and transforming into useful knowledge products.

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