23 APRIL 2014

SC Decision Was For Qualified Farmer Beneficiaries, Not For Any Single Group – DAR
Php 21.6M government project irrigates 335-hectare farmlands in Nueva Vizcaya
DBM shells out P10-B for AFP, PVAO pensioners
DSWD supports national gathering of solo parents
Badjao, Samal woman-evacuees taught how to write their names
New Zealand Visitors to the Philippines Increase
Phl Ambassador to New Zealand Participates in First Prayer @Parliament 2014
Luistro to new DepEd officials: "Be shepherds who smell like your sheep"
USD 150 Million French-assisted loan from AFD in recognition of decentralization reforms undertaken by the Philippine government
Baldoz announces 65 job fairs for May 1
Baldoz to OWWA: Incorporate MERS-CoV information in PDOS for OFWs
DPWH appointments
DOTC seals deal for Mactan-Cebu Airport project
GPH peace panel member clarifies CAB will not create Islamic state in Mindanao
Gov’t reforms, Updated Plan to ensure effective public spending – NEDA

SC Decision Was For Qualified Farmer Beneficiaries, Not For Any Single Group – DAR
Source: http://www.dar.gov.ph
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) today clarified that the Supreme Court decision to distribute the land of the Hacienda Luisita estate did not favor any single group, even as it belied claims by the Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) that the said decision was in favor of the Ambala solely.

DAR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Anthony Parungao said that the SC decision was clear in ordering the distribution of the land to farmer beneficiaries that meet the requirements or criteria it had set in its landmark decision.

He added that Supreme Court had ordered the DAR to distribute land to farmworkers of the hacienda in 1989, which, Parungao said, the Department painstakingly followed.

“That was what the Supreme Court asked us to do”, Parungao added. “There was never any reference in the SC decision to favor any particular farmers' group. It would be grossly unfair to the other groups and farmers which advocated for its distribution, or to the vast majority of unaffiliated beneficiaries, for any one group to claim the land,” he said.

Parungao also said that the DAR has posted in several public locations the names of persons it had deemed as qualified beneficiaries. It has even given the different farmworker groups this list. No one, however, formally filed any petition or action for the removal of any beneficiary.

Parungao then emphasized that the DAR has been engaged in sustained operations to speed up the monumenting of farm lots after the Department allocated farmlots to the qualified beneficiaries and subsequently distributed certified true copies of the titles to the land to the identified farmer-beneficiaries in the last quarter of 2013.

He said that, to date, 87.5 per cent of the monumenting work has been completed. Around 6,024 farm lots had been monumented and about 4,716 farmworker-beneficiaries have been installed in more or less 5,500 lots (or almost 76% of those in the masterlist), despite reported instances of harassment of survey teams and actual destruction of ‘mohons’ by those opposed to the DAR effort.

DAR is confident that the remaining 860 lots on balance will be monumented shortly, and that the remaining farmer beneficiaries will be installed by next month, barring any further acts of harassment or obstruction, he said.

Parungao also said that the DAR is assisting farmer-beneficiaries in the 10 barangays of the Hacienda Luisita estate in voluntarily organizing themselves to enable them to better access support services and credit so that they can immediately work on their land.

Some 1,187 beneficiaries have already participated in preliminary organizing activities and are now members of these newly-formed farmers organizations. Parungao expressed confidence that more farmer beneficiaries will join up as the farmers organizations become more stable and engaged in enterprise building.

“Upon the registration of their CLOAs, the farmworker-beneficiaries became the actual owners of their individual parcel of lands. As owners, these beneficiaries are free to determine what they want to do with the same, subject only to the limitations provided by the law.” said Parungao.

In the meantime, Parungao reported that there were indeed parts of the Hacienda owned by TADECO, not Hacienda Luisita Inc., which were not part of the Supreme Court decision, which are being processed under rules and laws pertaining to land acquisition and distribution of CARP. He emphasized that the processing thereof will be subject to the general rules under the CARP law (R.A. No. 6657, as amended), and not the principles laid down by the Supreme Court in the Hacienda Luisita Incorporated case.

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Php 21.6M government project irrigates 335-hectare farmlands in Nueva Vizcaya
Source: http://www.dar.gov.ph
Nueva Vizcaya - Three hundred thirty five hectares (335 has.) of rain-fed farms are expected to become more productive as the Department of Agrarian Reform turned over three newly communal irrigation system (CIS) worth Php 21.6 million in Dupax del Sur, Nueva Vizcaya.

Regional Director Atty. Marjorie P. Ayson said the Duppes-Mangayang CIS has a total cost of Php 9,543,550.00 and can irrigate 100 hectares of farmland for 100 beneficiaries. The Allawan CIS has a total cost of Php10,747,960.00 which will service a total of 200 hectares and will benefit 191 farmers. The Palabotan CIS which has a total cost of Php1,351,870.00 can irrigate 35 hectares that would benefit 27 beneficiaries.

"In sum, these three completed CIS will irrigate a total of 335 hectares of farmlands providing sufficient irrigation water for 318 farmers during their cropping cycle," Ayson added.

Dupax del Sur Mayor Ruben S. Basconcillo Jr. expressed his appreciation to the DAR officials for the implementation of the CIS and post harvest facilities that will help farmers become more productive particularly in the remote areas.

Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer Primo C. Lara urged farmer beneficiaries to take care of the CIS and other post harvest facilities since maintenance and sustainability of the projects are now in their hands.

Engr. Antonio C. Lara, Acting Regional Manager of the National Irrigation Administration of Region 2, for his part said the improvement in the irrigation system will boost economic activities in the province and will help contribute to food sustainability and in the rice self-sufficiency efforts of the government.

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DBM shells out P10-B for AFP, PVAO pensioners
Source: http://www.dbm.gov.ph
As part of the Aquino Administration’s commitment to support the country’s retired men in uniform, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released a combined amount of P9.91 billion to the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the second-quarter pension requirements of war veterans and retired military personnel.

Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad reported that P7.50 billion of the total amount will benefit 120,296 pensioners of the AFP, of which 2,583 comprise new beneficiaries for 2014. Both releases were sourced from the Pension and Gratuity Fund under the 2014 General Appropriations Act (GAA)

“This latest release guarantees the timely delivery of regular pension benefits to our retired military personnel for the second quarter of the year. At the same time, we continue our transparency efforts to update, validate and cleanse our list of beneficiaries so that it’s free of invalid, duplicate, and ghost entries. Our pensioners and their families will therefore receive the benefits due them much more quickly and efficiently, all while we ensure greater accountability in the payment process,” Abad said.

Meanwhile, P2.40 billion was released to 208,458 PVAO veterans to cover old age pensions, death pensions, disability pensions, and total administrative disability (TAD) pensions for the second quarter of the year.

The budget chief noted that the automation of pension payments is one among several Administration-led initiatives to tap digital technology to strengthen transparency and accountability in the Philippine bureaucracy.

“Before we began clearing the list of pension beneficiaries, we found out that hundreds of millions were going to ghost pensioners or deceased retirees every year. Switching from check to ATM payments nipped these anomalies in the bud,” Abad said.

“More important, however, is the fact that we’re able to give better support to our retired military personnel and our war veterans. Such digitization and cashless initiatives ultimately allow us to deliver public services faster and protect government processes from corruption,” he added.

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DSWD supports national gathering of solo parents
Source: http://www.dswd.gov.ph
Promoting and protecting the rights and welfare of the vulnerable sectors, such as solo parents and their children, is one of the mandates of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

In line with this mandate, the DSWD is supporting the First National Convention of Solo Parents to be held in Naga City on April 25-26, 2014.

With the theme, “Solo Parents Facing a Bright Future”, the event aims to gather the leaders and representatives of various solo parent associations (SPAs) to discuss mutual issues and concerns affecting their sector.

Organized by SONATA (Solong Nanay at Tatay) Confederation, the umbrella organization of SPAs, in cooperation with the local government of Naga City and DSWD, the convention is a take -off from the launching of the National Solo Parents Day last year.

The leaders of the various SPAs pushed for the proclamation of the third Saturday of April to be declared National Solo Parents Day, and to come-up with meaningful activities every year.

The convention will also serve as a vehicle to bring to the government’s attention the plight of solo parents.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said that, “solo parents and their children are considered vulnerable, hence, programs designed to empower them should be in place.”

Topics to be discussed include “Awareness on Republic Act 8972 or the Solo Parents Welfare Act of 2000” by DSWD Undersecretary Florita R. Villar, “The challenges of a solo parent” by Kris Aquino, a solo parent herself, and “Moving from grief to growth” by Susan Roces, widow of movie icon Fernando Poe, Jr.

Meanwhile, Dr. Diosdado A. Amante, Dean of the Philippine College of Criminology (PCCR) will talk about the “Importance of values formation.”

Local officials led by Naga City Mayor John Bongat, Naga Social Welfare and Development Officer Jaime Reblando, DSWD Director Leticia Diokno, SONATA National President Lito Alcaraz, and SONATA Corporate Secretary Liezel Po will also be present.

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Badjao, Samal woman-evacuees taught how to write their names
Source: http://www.dswd.gov.ph
Zamboanga City - For Happia, 38, a Badjao who is among the internally displaced persons (IPDs) during the armed conflict between government troops and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)-Misuari Faction in this city, writing her six-letter name for the first time is a dream come true.

“Masaya ako dahil natuto akong magsulat (I am happy that I learned how to write),” Happia shared shyly after showing her notebook with scribbles of her name.

Happia together with other 30 Badjao and Samal women who are currently staying at the Zamboanga East-West Central School evacuation center attended the mini-workshop on basic writing organized recently by the camp managers under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Camp Manager Lani Espiritusanto said that most of the Badjao and Samal evacuees from Rio Hondo and Mariki expressed their interest to learn how to write especially their names as the evacuees are asked for their signatures upon receiving relief goods. The unschooled IDPs would affix their thumbmarks instead.

“We find it beneficial not only for the IDPs but also for the agencies and humanitarian groups assisting them. Through this learning activity, we can ensure that the persons receiving the aids are the right recipients,” Aljimar Amil, a volunteer in the evacuation center, said.

Aya Dari, a housewife with six children, said that after the workshop, she makes it a point to practice writing.

“Pagkatapos kong maglaba, nagpa-practice na akong magsulat at pasalamat ako na naturuan kami ng mga taga DSWD (After doing the laundry, I practice writing and I thank the DSWD for teaching us how to write),” Aya said.

It was also learned that the women would want to learn about simple mathematics and to practice reading the sounds and alphabet in the next session.

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New Zealand Visitors to the Philippines Increase
Source: https://www.dfa.gov.ph
23 April 2014 – The number of New Zealand visitors to the Philippines increased since last year, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT). Based on updates provided by DOT, there were 15,783 tourists from New Zealand who visited the Philippines in 2013. This represented a growth rate of 11.94% from the previous year.

In January 2014, there were 1,425 New Zealanders who came to the Philippines representing a growth rate of 11.07% on a month-on-month basis, which is higher than the overall average of 5.80%. Moreover, DOT data showed that tourists from New Zealand demonstrated high spending capacity of US$92.48 average daily expenditure with an average length of stay of 14.35 nights. It is estimated that they spend an average of about US$1,300 per visit which is higher than the overall average of about US$1,000.

Due to the higher than average growth rate, visitor arrivals from New Zealand continue to be on the upward trend and a positive development in the Philippine Embassy’s continuing tourism promotion drive. “According to some tour operators and travel agents, New Zealanders enjoy the beaches, outdoor adventures, diving, snorkeling, mountain climbing and biking, historical places, cultural sites, health and wellness, culinary attractions and other tourism destinations that the Philippines has to offer. As always, the gracious hospitality, the natural warmth and ready smile of the Filipino people contribute immensely to making the Philippines an attractive tourist destination for New Zealanders. It is heartening to know that they continue to experience and enjoy the richness and variety of our spectacular sights, smells, specialties, shopping, surprises, artistry, vibrancy and creativity,” Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand Virginia Benavidez stated.

As many New Zealander visitors have said, “Firstly, the country, the Philippines is GREAT. It’s vibrant and exciting, peaceful and noisy, unspoiled and modern…Yes, all of these things and more. In the Philippines, amazing snorkelling is right outside your door every step of the way. Don't get me started on the turtles in a few feet of water or the whale sharks just off the beach. Every island we visited was greeted with a "WOW", the Philippines really has the Wow factor. The Philippines is a stunning country, the people are amazing, the landscape, beaches, volcanoes, lakes, sulphurous rivers are epic.”

Indeed, the tourism campaign of “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” is catching on, getting to be widely known and increasingly experienced among New Zealanders and other local and foreign visitors.

The Philippines’ strategic location and easy accessibility in the Asia-Pacific region offer distinct advantages for visitors from New Zealand and other countries. Developments such as the successful conclusion of the air talks between the Philippines and New Zealand aviation authorities in Wellington from March 5 to 6 for amendments to the bilateral Air Services Agreement that will allow for increase in the frequency of flights to 21 from 3 flights per week, the improvement in the 5th freedom exchange to enable Philippine carriers to operate 5th freedom flights to Australia and New Zealand carriers to operate 5th freedom to China, and third country code sharing for the carriers of the Philippines and New Zealand will offer huge opportunities for greater tourism, visitor movements and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

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Phl Ambassador to New Zealand Participates in First Prayer @Parliament 2014
Source: https://www.dfa.gov.ph
23 April 2014 - As the Philippine Embassy continues to cultivate closer people-to-people ties and deeper friendship, solidarity and understanding between Filipinos and New Zealanders and in response to the invitation extended by Hon. Chester Borrows, Member of Parliament for Whanganui, Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand Virginia H. Benavidez attended the first Prayer @ Parliament for 2014 held at the Grand Hall of the Parliament of New Zealand on March 20.

Pastor Rasik Ranchord, Convener of the Interdenominational Christian Prayer Gathering and Founding Pastor of the Abundant Life Church (ALC) in New Zealand, holds the Prayer @ Parliament three times a year, every March, June and September to pray for the government, leaders, business, church, youth, family, media, sport, education, various sectors of society of New Zealand and prevailing developments, issues and concerns affecting the multi-cultural nation. Since its inception eight years ago, Ministers and Parliamentarians have participated in the prayer gatherings that are open to people from different denominations and places in New Zealand. Representatives from various parts of North Island attended the gathering.

This first Prayer @ Parliament for 2014 focused on the bicentenary of the gospel in New Zealand and the general elections to be held on September 20. The ALC Worship Team gave a moving rendition of the National Anthem of New Zealand, Member of Parliament for New Plymouth Jonathan Young led the opening prayer, Member of Parliament for Hamilton West Tim Macindoe and Pastor Rasik welcomed everyone. This was followed by readings from the New Testament, Romans 1:1-5, 16, 17 by Ms. Maura Young and Romans 13:1-7 by Ambassador Benavidez. Individual and group prayers followed Prayer Track 1 on the nationwide Hope project presented by Mr. Dave Mann, Prayer Track 2 on a Christian’s civic duties with input from Pastor Rasik Ranchord and Prayer Track 3 on challenges facing the Members of Parliament with input from List Member of Parliament for National Alfred Ngaro and Member of Parliament Tim Macindoe.

Pastor Hamish Thomson, the Senior Pastor of ALC gave an update on the annual Capital Prayer Breakfast to be held at the Parliament later this year and Mr. Brian Caughley from the Intercessors for New Zealand shared the highlights of the Farewell Service for the late Catherine Hollister-Jones who used to fly from Tauranga to attend regularly the Prayer @ Parliament in Wellington. Everyone read the prayer she wrote for the Leaders and Members of Parliament of New Zealand.

“By GOD’s grace, the Philippines had the honour of being part of this prayer gathering again at the Parliament which is of utmost importance in obeying GOD’s Word to pray for all those in authority and for the nation. To be able to join in individual and collective prayers right at New Zealand’s seat of government which has become an altar of worship and a haven for prayers and fellowship is a moving, meaningful and memorable way of demonstrating the Christian heritage of the Philippines and the Filipino people’s solidarity and togetherness with the people of New Zealand in praying for their country and leaders,” Ambassador Benavidez stated.

She also said that in January 2014, President Benigno S. Aquino III attended the first prayer gathering of Christians held at the Malacañan Palace grounds. Ambassador Benavidez thanked Pastors Rasik and Lalita Ranchord and the Members of Parliament for the honour and privilege of participating in the regular series of the Prayer @ Parliament since she arrived in New Zealand more than two years ago.

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Luistro to new DepEd officials: "Be shepherds who smell like your sheep"
Source: http://www.deped.gov.ph
PASIG CITY --“Kung ano ang ating tinatanim, ‘yun din ang bunga. Marami kayong mga desisyon na gagawin bilang Assistant Superintendent at Superintendent. At lahat ng mga desisyon na iyan ay desisyon para sa kagawaran at para sa mga kabataang pinagsisilbihan natin.”

This was how Education Secretary Br. Armin A. Luistro FSC challenged the newly-appointed executives of the Department of Education (DepEd) during their oath-taking, April 22. Schools Division Superintendents and Assistant Superintendents are third-level officials whose appointments are signed by the President and who need to swear an oath before the head of the agency.
Luistro reminded the officials of the trials and challenges that may distract them from their responsibilities. He hoped that though those challenges would come, they would still remember how their decisions would affect future generations.

“Ngayon ay ang unang araw na ang lahat ng inyong mga magiging desisyon ay magkakaroon ng bunga na ipapamana natin sa susunod na henerasyon. Ang bawat desisyon ay isang magandang pagkakataon hindi lamang para sa sarili, kung hindi para din sa madla,” Luistro said.

DepEd Undersecretary Rizalino Rivera told the officials that with being a DepEd executive comes the responsibility to, not only take care of their personnel and the students, but to also be an example of what a real worker should be.

“Kaya lagi natin isipin na lahat ng ating gagawin ay tinitignan sa loob at labas ng DepEd. Kaya dapat maging karapat-dapat tayo sa tungkulin natin,” Rivera said.

The 18 newly-appointed officials vowed to give their best in doing their tasks and responsibilities and to uphold and protect the Philippine Constitution. Among these officials are Fatima R. Boado, Zenia G. Mostoles, Lorna G. Bugayong, Joann A. Corpuz, Leilani S. Cunanan, Norma P. Esteban, Imelda P. Macaspac, Jose L. Doncillo, Loida N. Nidea, Sally B. Ullalim, Maria Magdalena M. Lim, William E. Gando and Crestito M. Morcilla from Luzon; Allan B. Yap, Dexter Y. Aguilar and Roseller N. Gelig from Visayas; and Mindanao officials, Omar A. Obas and Arsenio T. Cornites Jr.

In closing, Luistro quoted Pope John Paul II and challenged the officials to be officials ‘who smell like their sheep.’ He hopes that all officials would grow familiar and truly be more knowledgeable with the youth whom they will serve this coming June.

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USD 150 Million French-assisted loan from AFD in recognition of decentralization reforms undertaken by the Philippine government
Source: http://www.dof.gov.ph
An official development assistance (ODA) loan agreement amounting to USD 150 million has been recently signed between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD – French Development Agency).

The loan will partially finance the 2014 general budget requirements of the National Government under the framework of the Local Government Finance and Fiscal Decentralization Reform Program also being co-financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima signed the agreement with French Ambassador Gilles Garachon and AFD Country Director Luc Le Cabellec in the presence of European Ambassador Guy Ledoux and National Treasurer Rosalia V. De Leon. The provision of the highly concessional loan by the French Government, through AFD, is in recognition of the Philippine Government’s accomplishments on its decentralization reforms.

The European Union will support the process through a EUR 4.8 million (PHP 300 million) grant to strengthen the national Disaster Preparedness Audit (DPA) framework to be implemented by DILG, which aims to improve local government performance in institutionalizing disaster preparedness policies and monitoring disaster preparedness response, and (ii) strengthen the public finance management at the local level.

Secretary Purisima expressed his appreciation to the French Government and the European Union for their valuable and unwavering support to the Philippines, particularly in the achievement of the inclusive growth agenda of the Aquino Administration and in the relief and reconstruction efforts of the Government in the areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda.

Ambassador Ledoux declared that “the provisions of this technical assistance reflect, the timely and coordinated assistance that the EU and AFD can jointly provide to the Philippine Government to implement disaster risk reduction and management policies. The EU grant will complement emergency contributions of the European Union and its Member States for reconstruction in the wake of typhoon Yolanda (PHP 10 billion)”.

Ambassador Garachon added that, since the opening of a Country Office in the Philippines in May 2010, “this loan agreement materializes four years of AFD’s full dedication and commitment to assist the Government in achieving its inclusive growth strategy. Thanks to this important step for the France-Philippines cooperation, AFD is expecting to further enhance its strategic partnership with the Government of the Philippines on the occasion of forthcoming bilateral consultations and in the prospects for the most expected official visit of President Aquino to France.

AFD, the French Government’s Official Development Agency supports strategic efforts related to public finance management, local governance, and sustainable, green and inclusive growth.

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Baldoz announces 65 job fairs for May 1
Source: http://www.dof.gov.ph
With 115,384 vacancies from 1,985 employers
Baldoz announces 65 job fairs for May 1

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapils-Baldoz yesterday announced that the Department of Labor will mount 65 job fairs nationwide on 1 May, Labor Day.

"The 65 job fairs will be simultaneous nationwide. These will be held in different venues in 16 regions under the overall supervision of the DOLE," said Baldoz, saying the 2014 Labor Day theme, “Sa Sipag, Tiyaga, at Talino, Buong Mundo Saludo sa Manggagawang Pilipino” will be reflected in all Labor Day activities as a way of recognizing the invaluable contribution of all Filipino workers to the continued growth and resurgence of the Philippine economy.

Baldoz said the 65 job fairs scheduled on 1 May will gather 1,985 employers who will be bringing in 115,384 job vacancies, easily surpassing the close to 100,000 job vacancies registered in last year's Labor Day job fairs.

"These numbers are preliminary and may increase," she quickly added, noting that it is still a full week before 1 May.

"As Labor Day approaches, the number of both participating employers and job vacancies are expected to increase, so job seekers of all types from every corner of the archipelago need to prepare to join the 65 job fairs.

According to the labor and employment chief, the Labor Day job fairs will provide job seekers convenient venues that will enable them to speed up their search for jobs and employers to fast-track their search for skilled and qualified personnel.
Baldoz’s announcement of the Labor Day job fairs came on the heels of the DOLE’s first quarter 2014 Consolidated Regional Operations Statistical Report showing that the DOLE has already mounted 266 job fairs from 1 January to 31 March this year, attended by 81,859 job applicants, 10,065 of whom were hired on-the-spot by some of the 2,665 establishments/employers who brought in 367,656 job vacancies of all types to the job fairs.

In the National Capital Region (NCR), Bureau of Local Employment Director Dominique Rubia-Tutay said the DOLE will hold 17 job fairs, including the biggest one at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, where 170 participating local and overseas employers will offer 25,000 vacancies.

The other job fairs in the national capital will be held at the following SM Supermalls: North Edsa, Megamall, Valenzuela, Fairview, Novaliches, Manila, San Lazaro, Sta. Mesa, Pasig, Marikina, South Mall, Las Pinas, Sucat, Bicutan, BF Paranaque, and Muntinlupa.

In the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), there will be two job fairs, one each at the Baguio Convention Center and at SM City Baguio to be joined by 55 employers.

In Region 1, the job fairs will be at SM Rosales Mall, Rosales, Pangasinan with 55 employers and 6,000 vacancies and at LGU-Vigan City, Ilocos Sur with 35 employers bringing in 3,500 vacancies.

In Region 2, the People's Gym in Tuguegarao City will host a job fair where 20 employers with 3,500 job vacancies will participate, and another job fair will be held at the City Hall, Santiago City, Isabela where 70 employers will offer 3,500 job vacancies.

There will be 16 job fairs on Labor Day in Region 3 to be held at the following venues: Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, with 40 employers and 2,264 vacancies; Camp Servillano Aquino, San Miguel, Tarlac, 30 employers with 1,000 vacancies; People’s Park, Provincial Capitol, in Balanga City, Bataan, 50 with 4,750 vacancies; President Ramon F. Magsaysay Sports Complex, Caballero St., Poblacion, Candelaria, Zambales, 22 employers and 920 vacancies; Provincial Capitol, Aurora, seven employers with 2,473 vacancies; and at the following SM branches, SM City Baliuag, 60 employers with 1,900 vacancies; SM City Clark, 40 employers with 1,550 vacancies; SM City Marilao, 60 employers with 2,000 vacancies; SM City Olongapo, 10 employers with 725 vacancies; SM City Pampanga, 55 employers with 1,900 vacancies; SM City San Fernando, 10 employers with 200 vacancies; and SM City Tarlac, 20 employers with 200 vacancies.

Five job fairs will be held in Region 4-A, one each at the Batangas City Sports Coliseum, three employers with 450 vacancies; District Ayala Mall, Imus, Cavite, 39 employers with 9,131 vacancies; SM City Mall, Sta. Rosa City, Laguna, 100 employers with 14,000 vacancies; SM City Mall, Lucena City, 13 employers with 5,019 vacancies; and SM City Mall, Taytay City, 40 employers and 10,000 vacancies.

In Region 4-B, the DOLE regional office will mount a job fair at the Gaisano Mall, Calapan City with three employers and 300 vacancies, while in Region 5, the DOLE regional office will hold a job fair at SM Naga City, with 70 employers and 6,000 vacancies.

In Region 6, two job fairs will be held at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol Ground (30 employers with 4,000 job vacancies) and at SM Bacolod City (40 employers with 8,000 job vacancies.

In Region 7, five job fairs will be mounted at the Abellana National Sports Complex, 30 employers with 15,000 vacancies; Cebu Provincial Capitol, Cebu City, 35 employers with 2,500 vacancies; Robinson’s Place, Dumaguete City, 15 employers with 1,750 vacancies; SM Atrium, Consolacion, Cebu, 30 employers with 1,000 vacancies; and SM Trade Hall, Cebu City, 40 employers with 1,300 vacancies.

In Region 8, a job fair will be held at the St. Paul School of Business in Palo, Leyte, with 50 employers bringing in 8,000 vacancies; in Region 9, there will be a job fair in Zamboanga City to be attended by 45 employers with yet unspecified number of job vacancies; and in Region 10, there will be a job fair at the SM Carpark, Upper Carmen, Cagayan de Oro, with 140 employers to offer 7,570 job vacancies.

In Region 11, three simultaneous job fairs will be held at the Gaisano Mall of Davao, Davao City, 100 employers with 850 vacancies; SM City Davao, Davao City, 75 employers with 650 vacancies; and Gaisano Mall of Tagum City, 50 employers with 450 vacancies.

In Region 12, two job fairs will be held at the KCC Mall Convention Center, Gen. Santos City, 113 employers with 16,960 vacancies and at the SM Mall Convention Center, also in Gen. Santos City, with 88 employers offering 11,300 job vacancies.

In CARAGA, a job fair at the Robinson's Place in Butuan City will see 25 employers recruiting for over 10,000 job vacancies.

For any inquiries about this release, please call the Bureau of Local Employment at tel. nos. 527-2539 or 527-2453; or the DOLE Regional Office in your area: DOLE-NCR, tel. no. 400-6242 or 400-6011; CAR--(074) 442-2447; 442-0824; Region 1--(072) 700-2520; Region 2--(078) 304-5085; Region 3--(045) 455-1613; Region 4-A--(049) 545-7360; Region 4-B--(043) 288-2080; Region 5--(052) 481-0768; Region 6--(033) 320-6904; Region 6--(032) 266-9722, (032) 266-2792; Region 8--(053) 570-8099, or mobile no. 09176225039; Region 9--(053) 570 8099, (062) 991-2673; Region 10--(088) 857-2583; Region 11--(082) 227-8772, 226-2481, 227-3157; Region 12--(083) 228-4920; and CARAGA--085) 341-3198; or please call the DOLE Hotline, 527-8000.

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Baldoz to OWWA: Incorporate MERS-CoV information in PDOS for OFWs
Source: http://www.dole.gov.ph
Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday directed the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to incorporate in the conduct of the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar, or PDOS, for OFWs an information, education, and communication module on the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus to raise their awareness on the deadly disease.

"To be forewarned is to be forearmed," she said in her instruction to OWWA chief Carmelita Dimzon following the issuance by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration of an advisory to newly-newly-hired or returning overseas Filipino workers and OFWs on-site to take preventive measures against the MERS-CoV.

The OWWA and the POEA are attached agencies of the DOLE.

Baldoz said that the OWWA should craft a similar advisory to all PDOS providers, including licensed recruitment agencies, in-house PDOS centers, associations, and non-government organizations accredited by the OWWA to provide the orientation to all departing OFWs.

The PDOS is a country-specific, mandatory education and information orientation session that the government conducts for all departing OFWs to ensure that they are ready for their life of work abroad.

"While the PDOS has already a health module that provides knowledge and information on such diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Acute Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), and other infectious ailments, the MERS-CoV, being fairly news, is not included, so we better incorporate it in the PDOS," Baldoz explained.

Administrator Dimzon said the OWWA will disseminate the advisory incorporating the MERS-CoV in the PDOS using all media, including posting it in the OWWA website so that OFWs can download it and keep copies.

"We will use the official information on the MERS-CoV coming from the Department of Health, the Mahahalagang Impormasyon sa MERS-Cov," said Dimzon.

Earlier, the DOLE has posted this official information on the MERS-CoV in the DOLE website, www.dole.gov.ph and Secretary Baldoz has instructed all DOLE regional offices, bureaus, services, and attached agencies to do the same. She had also issued a memorandum to all Philippine Overseas Labor Offices and their staff to undertake precautionary and preventive measures against the virus.

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DPWH appointments
Source: http://www.dpwh.gov.ph
Appointment to Director position of three (3) officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways as approved by the Office of the President was formalized with the oath of office before DPWH Secretary Rogelio L. Singson. Those who took their oath are (from left) Bureau of Design Assistant Director Adriano Doroy, Bureau of Equipment Director Dante Potante, and Region VI Assistant Regional Director Leah Delfinado.

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DOTC seals deal for Mactan-Cebu Airport project
Source: http://www.dotc.gov.ph
Private Concessionaire to Take Over Operations by October 2014

The country’s second-busiest airport will soon begin undergoing a major upgrade, after the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) signed the Concession Agreement for the Mactan-Cebu International Airport with winning consortium GMR-Megawide this morning, 22 April 2014.

The 25-year Concession Agreement was signed following the consortium’s fulfillment of all post-award requirements, including payment to the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) of the P 14.4-Billion premium it offered as its financial bid.

Operations and maintenance (O&M) of the airport will be turned over by MCIAA to GMR-Megawide within the next six (6) months, which means that the public can expect private sector efficiency and more customer-oriented services at the airport beginning in October 2014.

The concessionaire should also begin constructing the new passenger terminal building (PTB) by January 2015, which it should complete in three (3) years, or by January 2018. This new terminal will be dedicated to international flights and will rise next to the existing PTB, to which it will be connected.

The existing PTB will then be renovated for completion in January 2019, when it will begin to serve the airport’s domestic clientele exclusively.

The project’s contract signing followed the expiration of the 15-day period to file any motion for reconsideration contesting the award, with no bidder having filed such a motion.

Neither has the transport agency received any temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Supreme Court (SC), which would prevent the project from proceeding. Absent these legal obstacles, the Concession Agreement’s signing has fixed GMR-Megawide’s contractually-defined timelines mentioned above.

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GPH peace panel member clarifies CAB will not create Islamic state in Mindanao
Source: http://www.opapp.gov.ph
Wao, Lanao del Sur – Government peace panel member Senen Bacani has allayed fears of residents here that the envisioned Bangsamoro government will lead to the establishment of an Islamic state in Mindanao and that Christians would lose their lands to Muslims once the new region is in place.

“The Bangsamoro will be part of the Philippines, it will not separate from the Philippines. Bangsamoro officials will report to the President of the Philippines. The laws of the Philippines will apply to the Bangsamoro,” he said.

Bacani was here Monday for a public forum on the Bangsamoro attended by an estimated 3,000 residents, including those from the nearby town of Bumbaran, also in Lanao del Sur.

“The envisioned Bangsamoro government will not become an Islamic state but a secular one with a working democracy where everyone will continue to enjoy [for example] freedom of religion and freedom of expression. Walang mawawalang rights and privileges natin bilang mamamayan ng Pilipinas dito sa Bangsamoro...including vested property rights” he stressed.

The public forum was held to update people here on the developments in the peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The Islamic state issue was raised through the streamers displayed in the town plaza, the venue of the dialogue. Christians also raised concern that they would lose their lands to Muslims once the Bangsamoro is in place.

Wao town is composed of at least 80 percent Christians with a minority Muslim population.

Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong III graced the forum and rallied the residents to support the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the final peace deal between the government and the MILF.

“Ginagawa lahat ng national government ang makakabuti para sa lahat ng Filipino, Muslim man o Kristiyano kasama na ang katutubo,” he said.

Bacani reiterated that the GPH peace panel signed the CAB with their MILF counterpart clearly following the instruction of President Benigno Aquino III that it must be within the parameters of the Constitution.

Also present to listen to the sentiments of the residents were Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) members Pedrito Eisma and Said Sheik. The two also took turns explaining that the CAB dos not seek the establishment of an Islamic state in Mindanao and that the constituents will continue to enjoy their rights under the Bangsamoro government.

Mayor Elvino Balicao Jr. led the list of local government officials attending the forum.

Benigna Rosal Aguirre, a leader of a Catholic women’s organization here, thanked Bacani and the BTC commissioners for coming and clarifying the disinformation spreading in the locality.

“There’s nothing to fear in the Bangsamoro. It’s good they came here. I’m enlightened now because it’s clear we will continue to enjoy our rights such as religious freedom and that we will continue to own our lands,” she said at the sidelines.

Bacani stressed that land ownership will be respected under the new Bangsamoro region.

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Gov’t reforms, Updated Plan to ensure effective public spending – NEDA
Source: http://www.neda.gov.ph
MEXICO CITY—The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said that the Philippine government’s plan of increasing the share of social and infrastructure spending will be coupled with fiscal and governance reforms to ensure the effectiveness of public expenditures.

Speaking during a session of the First High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation on April 15, 2014, Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said that this strategy is in line with the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2011-2016 Midterm Update.

“The Philippine government’s spending on infrastructure and other capital outlays has significantly increased in recent years. These are channeled specifically to projects that benefit the poor, such as construction and rehabilitation of roads and bridges, enhancement of tourism access, and irrigation to support the agriculture sector,” said Balisacan during the event’s session on Linking Domestic Resource Mobilization to Public Expenditure Needs.

He added that higher infrastructure spending is expected to reach 5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2016 as outlined in the Updated PDP.

“The Philippine government has embarked on a series of reforms in the fiscal sector and in governance to mobilize domestic resources. These will help meet the country’s spending priorities in social development, infrastructure, and especially developing resilience against natural shocks,” said Balisacan, who is also NEDA Director-General.

The Cabinet official said recent reforms of the Philippine government include policies and programs that aim to widen the tax base, prosecute and jail tax evaders, raise taxes on “sin” products, and eliminate corruption.

“These resulted in a wider fiscal space that provided enough flexibility to sustain the momentum of increased spending and improved budget allocation. In turn, these allowed the expansion and improvement of investments in health, education, social protection, and infrastructure, which are known to be binding constraints to poverty reduction and inclusive development,” said Balisacan.

During the session that had a panel of distinguished representatives from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Kingdom of Norway, Africa and other international civil society organizations, Balisacan highlighted critical factors that successfully link resource mobilization with public expenditure needs in the Philippines.

“First, there is a need for a credible government that ‘puts its money where its mouth is.’ Next, a plan should provide a clear set of targets that are relevant, meaningful, and can be monitored to measure and report the government’s performance and accountability. And we addressed this through the Updated PDP. Finally, a country needs a development budget that has predictable and sufficient resources to support the implementation of the Plan,” Balisacan concluded.

The high-level meeting brought together over 1,500 participants, including heads of states, ministers, parliamentarians and leaders from international organizations, businesses, civil society and foundations.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon led the high-level meeting, which aimed at building on the commitments made in 2011 during the Fourth High-level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea.

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