Court convicts BIR employee for SALN violation
POEA issues warning on alleged jobs in Portugal
Philippine Statistics Authority to conduct the 2014 survey on overseas Filipinos
NCMB facilitates P13 M in benefits for 4 seafarers
In Region 12, DOLE and Industry Tripartite Council move fast to address labor laws compliance challenges in fishing industry
66 former rebels in Bukidnon receive livelihood assistance from DILG
Valenzuela City opens new, state-of-the-art Mathematics and Science public school
Remittances from Filipinos in US helping improve Philippine economy
New Philippine Consul General meets with Hawaii Consular Corps Members
Environment consciousness pervades
CHED Press Statement: P 4.1B Not Pork
PPP Center advocates probity advisory in PPP procurement
Auto industry expected to yield 300,000 jobs
Sajahatra Bangsamoro boosts sustainable farming and livelihood prospects in Zambo Sibugay
Statement on Repositioning of Troops in Golan Heights

Court convicts BIR employee for SALN violation
Source: http://www.ombudsman.gov.ph
The Office of the Ombudsman secured the conviction of a Revenue Officer from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for false misrepresentation in her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

In an Order issued by Acting Presiding Judge Roland Dennis Molina of Branch 41 of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, Revenue Officer Myrna Ramirez was found guilty of three counts of violation of Section 8 of Republic Act No. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees).

During the hearing conducted last 19 May 2014, Ramirez manifested her desire to change her plea to guilty for failing to disclose her business interests in a mineral water shop and her ownership of a Mitsubishi L-300 van.

Section 8 of R.A. No. 6713 states that all public officials and employees have an obligation to accomplish and submit declarations under oath of, and the public has the right to know, their assets, liabilities, net worth and financial and business interests including those of their spouses and of unmarried children under eighteen (18) years of age living in their households.


Philippine Statistics Authority to conduct the 2014 survey on overseas Filipinos
Source: http://www.nscb.gov.ph
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) is set to conduct the 2014 Survey on Overseas Filipinos (SOF) in October 2014. The annual SOF provides national estimates on the number of Filipinos who went out of the country, particularly those who worked overseas. The survey also generates information on (1) the socio-economic characteristics of the overseas Filipinos, (2) the amount of cash and in-kind transfers received by their families residing in the Philippines, and (3) the mode of remittance used.

Results of the 2013 SOF conducted last year showed that among the 17 administrative regions in the Philippines, 18.4% of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) came from CALABARZON, followed by Central Luzon (13.9%), and the National Capital Region (12.8%). Countries with the highest Filipino employment were Saudi Arabia (22.1%), United Arab Emirates (15.4%), and Singapore (7.3%). This pattern was also seen in terms of the amount of cash remittances received by the OFWs’ relatives in the Philippines. It was recorded that from April to September 2013, the OFWs in Saudi Arabia sent home the largest amount of remittance amounting to PhP 25.2M, followed by OFWs in the United Arab Emirates with PhP 16.0M, and by those in Singapore, PhP 7.7M.

The 2014 SOF will be administered to around 5,000 individuals nationwide with family members or who themselves travelled outside the Philippines for any purpose for the past five years. Information collected from the survey are kept strictly confidential by virtue of Commonwealth Act No. 591 and as such, are released in the form of statistical tables.

With the enactment of the Philippine Statistical Act of 2013, merging the National Statistics Office (NSO), National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), and Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics (BLES) into the newly established PSA, the SOF which was formerly implemented by the NSO is now under the mandate of the latter.

On July 28, 2014, the 2014 SOF was reviewed and granted clearance through the Statistical Survey Review and Clearance System (SSRCS). The SSRCS is a mechanism implemented by the PSA as directed by Rule 28 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 10625 (Philippine Statistical Act of 2013) to: (1) ensure sound design for data collection, (2) minimize the burden placed upon respondents, (3) effect economy in statistical data collection, (4) eliminate unnecessary duplication of statistical data collection, and (5) achieve better coordination of such government statistical activities.

Since the SOF is a rider to the Labor Force Survey (LFS), it requires a budget of only PhP 10,000 for the printing of the 2014 SOF questionnaires. Results of the survey are expected to be released in June 2015.

In light of this, the public is enjoined to participate in the survey.


NCMB facilitates P13 M in benefits for 4 seafarers
Source: http://www.dole.gov.ph
Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis Baldoz yesterday said there is an increasing number of money claims involving Filipino seafarers that are being settled through conciliation-mediation by the National Conciliation and Mediation Board.

Citing a report from NCMB Executive Director Reynaldo R. Ubaldo, Baldoz said that in July 2014, four seafarers received a total of P13 million in disability benefits, illness allowances, medical, and other fees, following the settlement of their claims.

She said the four seafarers sought the intervention of the NCMB on their separate complaints against Philippine Transmarine Carrier, Bouvet Shipping Management Corporation, Sealanes Marine Services, Inc., and Magsaysay Maritime Corporation.

One of the four seafarers is Alfredo D. Abdon, who was hired as fitter (pipe liner) on 18 February 2013 by Philippine Transmarine Carrier. He was repatriated to the Philippines on 6 May 2013 because of a bulging disc.

As fitter, Abdon was in charge of putting together or installing machinery, engine parts, and other equipment. While performing his duties, he met an accident resulting to the disease that caused his disability.

A bulging disc is commonly referred to as a slipped disc, or a protruding disc, in which the muscles are stretched or torn. It can occur in the lower back, upper and mid-back, or neck.

On 15 April 2014, Abdon, assisted by Atty. Joseph T. Entero, filed with the RCMB-NCR a notice to arbitrate, claiming entitlement to full disability benefits.

On 4 July 2014, after a series of conciliation –mediation meetings, the parties mutually agreed to the payment of P2,558,100 (US$ 60,000) representing the full and complete settlement of Abdons’ claim. Conciliator-mediator Ma. Yolanda P. Minoria facilitated the settlement.

Also, on 11 June 2014, Joseph A. Cuares, an ordinary seaman employed by Magsaysay Maritime Corporation, filed a notice to arbitrate with the RCMB-NCR, claiming illness allowance, medical reimbursement, and disability benefits as per CBA, attorney’s fees, and other damages.

Cuares sustained an injury while on board an international vessel as an ordinary seaman that made him unfit to continue his seafaring. He was repatriated in August 2013 due to a bulging disc and was immediately confined for treatment.

On 22 July 2014, the parties agreed to P3,957,927.15 (US$ 93,154.00) as full settlement of Cuares’s complaint against his former employer. They were assisted by
Director Edgar G. Aquino.

Meanwhile, Ernesto Ignacio, a second assistant engineer employed by Bouvet Shipping Management Corporation was awarded P3,618,960 (US$ 85,000) as settlement package following the resolution of his complaint against his former employer. Ignacio suffered lumbago in November 2012 resulting to his repatriation.

Ignacio sought the intervention of the RCMB-NCR on 25 March 2014 by filing a notice to arbitrate, claiming disability benefits, damages and attorney’s fees. On 15 July 2014, after a series of conciliation-mediation conferences, the parties mutually agreed to the full settlement of Ignacio’s claims. Conciliator-Mediator Estelita S. Bautista facilitated the settlement.

The fourth case involved Ramon Ruga, who was hired as third assistant engineer of Sealanes Marine Services Inc. Ruga suffered segmental fractures in his left forearm while on duty and was declared unfit to work resulting to his repatriation and hospital confinement in the Philippines last 3 July 2013.

On 28 March 2014, Ruga, with the assistance of Atty. Frederick Linsangan filed a notice to arbitrate with RCMB-NCR, claiming full disability, compensation benefits, medical/sickness allowance expenses, damages and attorney’s fees.

After RCMB-NCR Director Edgar G. Aquino conducted the conciliation and mediation conferences, the parties agreed to settle on 22 July 2014 in the amount of P 3,399,040 (US$ 80,000.00) as full and complete settlement of Ruga’s claims.

Secretary Baldoz commended the RCMB –NCR for its focused and pro-active effort in facilitating the settlement of these disputes.

“This means that more seafarers are opting for NCMB’s alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedures, such as conciliation and mediation, in settling their claims for CBA benefits,” Baldoz said, noting that ADR mechanisms provided them with speedy, fair, and amicable option instead of resorting to long, expensive and litigious means in the settlement of their money claims.


In Region 12, DOLE and Industry Tripartite Council move fast to address labor laws compliance challenges in fishing industry
Source: http://www.dole.gov.ph
In Region 12, DOLE and Industry Tripartite Council move fast to address labor laws compliance challenges in fishing industry Moving quickly to build on the gains and the public goodwill that the fishing, canning, aquaculture production, and allied services sector has built and achieved last week during the industry-wide labor laws compliance assessment in General Santos City, the Department of Labor and Employment Regional Office No. 12 under Regional Director Ofelia B. Domingo and the officers and members of the Industry Tripartite Council on Fishing, Fish Canning, Aquaculture Production, and Allied Services have met and discussed over the weekend the results of the assessment. "The occasion, the ITC's 7th quarterly meeting was, convened with the end in view of encouraging member-companies that had not been issued yet their certificates of compliance to avail of the DOLE's 'toolbox' of technical assistance and services to enable them to compliance," said Director Domingo. A total of 94 participant-representatives from workers and management attended the quarterly meeting. On hand to discuss the services offered by the DOLE under the labor laws compliance systems are officials of the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board, Employees Compensation Commission, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and the National Reintegration Center for OFWs. Seeing DOLE’s commitment to assist the industry, Eric Du of the Umbrella Fish Landing Association and one of the member-associations of the Socsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries, Inc., moved for the creation of a Technical Working Group (TWG) to look further into the details of the issues and challenges facing the fishing industry. "We have to move fast," he said and got the ITC to agree to TWG's first meeting on 12 September. Franco B. Meting, human resource manager of RDEX Food International, Inc., one of the companies that was issued a certificate of compliance at the industry-wide assessment last week, took the occasion to share his company’s best practices through a brief video presentation showing how RDEX exercises corporate responsibility in conserving the country's sea resources. Since its re-activation over a year ago, the ITC-Fishing, Fish Canning, Aquaculture Production, and Allied Services, chaired by the DOLE regional director, has been meeting regularly not just to consult but to formulate collective action to address issues and concerns prevailing in the industry and to sustain dialogue towards harmonious labor-management relations. Impressed by the heavy members' presence at the meeting, Baldoz expressed optimism for stakeholders in the fishing industry in Region 12 to address prevailing issues on their own with the support of the DOLE. “The stakeholders' full cooperation during the industry-wide labor laws compliance assessment and their willingness to voluntary comply with all labor laws are clear manifestation of their strong support in helping us strengthen the promotion of social partnership to provide stable, equitable, and harmonious employment relations and enhance productivity in the fishing and allied industries in SOCSKSARGEN area,” Baldoz said.


66 former rebels in Bukidnon receive livelihood assistance from DILG
Source: http://www.dilg.gov.ph
MALAYBALAY, Bukidnon – A total of 66 former rebels and their families have received livelihood assistance worth P65,000 each under the government's Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP).

Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas along with Governor Jose Maria Zubiri Jr. handed the checks to the former rebels during simple rites held at the Camp Osito Bahian, the home of the 403rd Infantry Brigade, also known as Peacemaker Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, based in this city.

The 26 of the former rebels have returned to the fold of the law as early as 2009 while the latest batch of 40 were among those who laid down their arms last March 22, 2014.

The event was highlighted by the ceremonial turn-over of firearms of the former rebels to government authorities and pledge of allegiance to the Constitution, which was witnessed by officials and representatives of CLIP-implementing agencies, which incidentally marks the Centennial Anniversary of Bukidnon.

Joining Roxas and Zubiri, who is also the chairman of the Bukidnon-CLIP committee, are Senator Teofisto Guingona, DILG Region 10 Director Atty. Rene K. Burdeos, P/Chief Supt. Isagani F. Genabe, chief of the PNP Region 10 Office, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Region 10 chief Supt. Lindy C. Lauzon, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) Region 10 chief, S/Supt. Cesar F. Balderas and Col. Francisco Pabayo, the Commanding Officer of the 403rd Infantry Brigade.

Among those turned over were long and short firearms belonging to the former rebels, including M-14 and M-16 automatic rifles.

CLIP is being spearheaded by the DILG as part of the government’s peace and development efforts across the country.

During the program, Zubiri pledged to provide additional livelihood support of P50,000 for each of the 66 former rebels.

He appealed to Roxas to help facilitate the resumption of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

In behalf of the government, Roxas welcomed the rebel returnees to the fold of the law.

He said the implementation of CLIP in partnership with the local government units (LGUs), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), PNP, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and civil society organizations (CSOs) demonstrates the Aquino administration’s commitment to pursuing peace and development amid the stalled peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

He urged the CLIP beneficiaries to undergo counseling to be prudent and wise in spending the livelihood support awarded by the government.

"Sa ayaw at gusto nyo, magiging ka-partner nyo si Mar Roxas para hindi na kayo kailangang bumalik sa bundok," Roxas said.

He said he will help find ways for the former rebels to find sustainable source of income for the former rebels.

“Wala ng mas malungkot pa na makikita ang Pilipino na binabatil ang kapwa Pilipino. Ako ay natutuwa na nandito ako ngayon kasama ang AFP, PNP. Gawin natin ito ng tuloy tuloy.

He also promised Zubiri to help facilitate the resumption of the peace talks with the NDFP.

Roxas said that the government remains steadfast in its resolve to address the insurgency problem in the country through good governance and reform anchored on the “Daang Matuwid” thrusts of the Aquino administration.

The DILG’s role in the peace and development efforts of the government was institutionalized by the signing of the the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 2014-01 between the DILG and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) on May 15, 2014.

Before CLIP, the government has implemented similar programs to encourage former rebels to return to the fold of the law. These include National Reconciliation and Development Program ( RDP) in 1986, New NRDP in 1992; National Program for Unification and Development (NPUD) in 1994, and Expanded NPUD “Balikloob Program” in 2000 and the Social Integration Program implemented from 2007 until 2010.


Valenzuela City opens new, state-of-the-art Mathematics and Science public school
Source: http://www.deped.gov.ph
Valenzuela City – The future of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education shines bright as Valenzuela City formally inaugurates their School of Science and Mathematics.

Groundbreaking ceremonies were held in January of this year and today, following months of construction, the school formally opens its doors to the students of Valenzuela City. This four-storey, twenty-classroom building includes chemistry, biology, physics, and robotics laboratories equipped with six (6) Smart Boards that already have Internet access. The campus is envisioned to be part of the country’s most high-tech and advanced Mathematics and Science schools in the country.

Education Secretary Br. Armin A. Luistro FSC lauds the city’s education program saying, “I am very much impressed by this city’s investment in education. Aside from this new city school, Valenzuela City has found solutions for the decongestion of schools within their area through the ‘busing system,’ by transferring students from one school to another.”

The school construction is under Valenzuela City’s Education 360º Investment Program that includes feeding programs, the provision of school supplies, trainings for students, parents, and teachers.

Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian explains their 360º Investment Program and says, “This is a large-scale investment to shore up the local education system.” He adds that the City School for Math and Science was the “best education investment their city has ever made.”

769 students of the former Valenzuela City Science High School (ValSci), which had 13 classrooms and a single science laboratory, will be the beneficiaries of this new school construction.

Luistro adds, “My prayer is that Valenzuela City School of Mathematics and Science may produce the best and brightest scientists of the country.”


Remittances from Filipinos in US helping improve Philippine economy
Source: http://www.dfa.gov.ph
1 September 2014 - Remittances from Filipinos in the United States and other parts of the world helped the Philippines regain its position as Southeast Asia’s best performing economy during the first semester of the year.

“The Philippine economy grew by 6.4 percent during the second quarter of 2014 also because of the millions of dollars that our kababayans, especially those in the US, have been sending home,” Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. said after the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) announced the good news.

“Our diaspora plays a very important role in the economic transformation now taking place in the Philippines,” Ambassador Cuisia said as he paid tribute to the 3.5 million members of the Filipino-American community who consistently account for more than half of the total remittances the Philippines receive annually from abroad.

Citing NEDA figures, Ambassador Cuisia said remittances by overseas-based Filipinos reached a new high for the year in June when inflows went up by 5.9 percent to US$2.050 billion that month, raising the total for the first half by 5.8 percent to US$11.422 billion.

“Our economy is performing well as result of a stronger industry and services sector and robust remittances from overseas Filipinos,” Ambassador Cuisia said. “This should make the Philippines more competitive and more attractive to investors, particularly those in the US.”

Ambassador Cuisia cited the improved performance of the Philippine economy in urging a group of businessmen in New York to consider doing business in the Philippines.

“It is important to point out that the emergence of the Philippines as ‘Asia’s New Emerging Tiger’ is a strong demonstration of a tipping point phenomenon – the results of transformational leadership changes and policy reforms introduced in almost 30 years,” Ambassador Cuisia told businessmen at the Harvard Club during a luncheon co-hosted by Samish Kumar, Chief Executive Officer of Transfast, a leading international money transfer company and Peter Tichansky, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Business Council for International Understanding.

“With all this dynamism and optimism, I hope your interest in the Philippines will continue,” Ambassador Cuisia told the group that included senior-level executives involved in financial services, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, equipment manufacturing, communications, and law and government.

In response, Kumar said his company, which operates a proprietary network of over 200,000 payment points across more than 100 countries in the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Africa, will continue to be a major player in the remittance sector in the Philippines.

“The 3.5 million Filipinos in the US and the 850,000 in Canada send nearly US$13 billion–or more than half of the approximately US$25 billion—of global, cross-border remittances sent annually to the Philippines,” Kumar said.

“Transfast delivers a large percentage of these remittances making the company a significant player in the Philippines economy,” he added. “Transfast has a 25-year commitment to the well-being of Filipinos, wherever they may be across the globe. We are proud to be a contributor to the health and growth of the Filipino economy.”

In July, Transfast expanded to over 20 banks the instant bank deposit service for money transfers to the Philippines that it first launched in 2009. Kumar said this makes Transfast the only remittance company that offers instant deposits to most Philippines banks.


New Philippine Consul General meets with Hawaii Consular Corps Members
Source: http://www.dfa.gov.ph
1 September 2014 – The new Philippine Consul General in Hawaii, Ms. Gina A. Jamoralin, made her customary courtesy calls on several members of the Consular Corps of Hawaii this August.

Consul General Jamoralin met with Consul General Walter Paik of the Republic of Korea on August 18 at the Consulate General of Korea along Pali Highway, a stone’s throw away from the Philippine Consulate General. In the morning of the following day, she met Consul General Scott Dewar of Australia and in the afternoon, Belgian Honorary Consul Jeffrey Daniel Lau who is also the Dean of the Consular Corps of Hawaii. Consul General Jamoralin met Japanese Consul General Toyoei Shigeeda on August 26.

During the discussions, Consul General Jamoralin informed her counterparts about her priories, the first of which is to promote the welfare of the almost 400,000 Filipinos in the State which is the largest ethnic community in the Islands. She also shared her plans of having deeper engagement with the US Pacific Command (USPACOM) and promoting trade, tourism and cultural activities among the Philippines, the State of Hawaii and the Consular Corps.


Environment consciousness pervades
Source: http://www.denr.gov.ph
In the hearing of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ budget yesterday, Congress gave strong support to the environment programs being implemented by the Aquino administration. In fact, more than a dozen members of the House of Representatives expressed commendation on the government’s environmental performance.

The DENR reported that the Cadastral Survey Program which was signed into law on February 11, 1913, was able to complete only 46% of the entire land area of the Republic of the Philippines in nearly 100 years. The remaining 54% is expected to be completed within the Aquino administration. Likewise, the National Greening Program (NGP) which aims to plant 1.5M hectares, expects to reverse the forest cover of the country. By 2016, there will be more forested areas than denuded. Similarly, DENR expects to complete the 1:10,000 geohazard maps of the entire country by next year.

DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje is grateful to the pervading environmental consciousness in the three branches of government. Recently, the judiciary also showed strong environmental consciousness in its green decisions i.e. the Manila Bay Mandamus and the various Writs of Kalikasan issued.

Correspondingly, the June 2014 SWS survey indicated that the government’s environmental protection efforts ranked first of the seventeen concerns monitored by the said survey. Also, Pulse Asia’s March 2014 report indicated a leap of 7 percentage points on the “protection of the environment” from +41 in December 2013 to +48 in March 2014.

Paje thanked the DENR employees, for their dedication and hard work and the civil society, people’s organization and other environmental partners and stakeholders for their vigilance and heightened consciousness.


PPP Center advocates probity advisory in PPP procurement
Source: http://www.ppp.gov.ph
The Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center of the Philippines organized a two-day roundtable discussion introducing the significance of probity advisory services in PPP procurement to key implementing, oversight and regulatory agencies involved in the country’s PPP Program. This is part of the Center’s policy initiative to further institutionalize due diligence, transparency and accountability in government’s PPP undertakings.

Ms. Erin Flaherty, Executive Director for Transport, Social and Cultural Infrastructure of Infrastructure New South Wales (INSW) Australia and Mr. Warwick Smith, a probity advisory practitioner from Procure Group Ptd Ltd., were the resource persons during the roundtable discussion held at Crowne Plaza Manila in Ortigas, Pasig on August 28-29, 2014. Both speakers shared their experience in the use of probity advisory services in PPP procurement of infrastructure projects in New South Wales, Australia.

Probity advisory is an internationally recognized best practice in PPP procurements that ensures PPP projects’ ability to stand legal and procedural scrutiny by harnessing independent review and advice at all stages of procurement decisions and processes by the concerned institutions and/or committees. Its observance and documentation ensure diligent, transparent and credible processes resulting in getting the most competent private partners.

“By introducing probity advisory in our PPP procurement, we’re building up the current confidence of local and international business communities on the credibility and competitiveness of the country’s PPP procurement policy and practice,” said PPP Center Executive Director Cosette V. Canilao.

The roundtable discussion ultimately aims to strengthen the country’s PPP Program and its institutions and is supported by the Asian Development Bank and the governments of Australia and Canada through its Capacity Building Technical Assistance to the Philippine PPP Program (CDTA).

“We are very happy to be involved in this initiative of the Philippine PPP Center. It’s a worthwhile process. And we would like to let you know that we are very supportive of this.” Ms. Erin Flaherty reassures of the Government of Australia and Infrastructure New South Wales’ commitment to provide assistance to the PPP Center in building up the country’s PPP Program.

Early this year, the Philippine PPP Center forged a twinning arrangement with INSW with the intent of bringing into the county INSW’s experience and expertise in undertaking successful PPPs. Early this year, the Philippine PPP Center forged a twinning arrangement with INSW with the intent of bringing into the county INSW’s experience and expertise in undertaking successful PPPs.


Auto industry expected to yield 300,000 jobs
Source: http://www.pids.gov.ph
The automotive industry is expected to yield 300,000 jobs under a new industrial policy that seeks to revive the manufacturing sector, an official bared.

Reviving the manufacturing sector will help achieve inclusive growth and at the same time generate better-paying jobs, said Rafaelita Aldaba, senior research fellow at the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) now on secondment to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in a press conference launching the 12th Development Policy Research Month (DPRM) last August 28.

`We`re looking at auto investments for broad-based industrial growth to happen. Auto has a large multiplier effect,` said Aldaba, who joined the DTI as assistant secretary last year. `We have an auto program and it`s already being finalized.`

The economist pointed out that manufacturing had stagnated in the past two decades, leaving the country dependent on services for growth and job creation. But structural transformation of the economy is needed as services won`t be enough given the entry of 800,000 new workers to the job market annually, and the three million unemployed. `Competitiveness is crucial. We need to upgrade our manufacturing capacity,` she added.

Aldaba however clarified that the government`s role would be to ensure a conducive environment to industrial upgrading. `Firms, the private sector, need to execute the roadmaps. They will be the proximate cause of growth, investment, and entrepreneurship,` she said.

The goal of the Manufacturing Roadmap, which incorporates 20 industry development roadmaps, is to hike manufacturing value added contribution to 30 percent of gross domestic product, and a 15 percent increase in employment. `We want to move workers from informal to formal jobs, low-productivity to high-productivity jobs,` Aldaba said.

PIDS Senior Research Fellow Aniceto Orbeta called for labor policy reforms, citing empirical evidence that current policies such as the minimum wage had failed to reduce the ranks of the jobless. Orbeta presented the results of a labor policy analysis he had co-authored with Vicente Paqueo, Leonardo Lanzona, and Dean Dulay, that showed that minimum wage regulations have generally been not helpful and even `detrimental to the welfare of the common man`.

Smaller firms, for instance, are being forced to reduce hiring, and are losing out to large firms. `Minimum wages have a negative impact for smaller firms, and because smaller firms dominate, the total impact is negative,` Orbeta said. Moreover, the minimum wage hurts the employment probability of the young, female and inexperienced workers. Data also showed that it lowers the average proportion of working-age family members who will be hired.

Orbeta said there should be flexibility in hiring and firing, and that the poor and jobless should also be represented in the existing tripartite wage-setting scheme. `We are not anti-worker. What we are saying is our old tools are not working for the workers for their decent wages,` he added.

For the observance of 12th DPRM, PIDS has organized a series of fora for the whole month of September anchored on the theme `Addressing the Jobs Challenge toward Inclusive Growth`. The series of fora will gather policymakers, program planners, development researchers, and labor leaders to identify the causes of unemployment and underemployment and to seek ways on how to effectively address these.

"We are highlighting another timely issue in this years DPRM. Job creation is a central feature of the Aquino Administration`s strategy for inclusive growth," PIDS President Gilberto Llanto said in his remarks.

"With the Philippines in the cusp of major international and regional developments such as the forthcoming ASEAN economic integration in 2015, it is high time that we take a look at our labor policies and regulations and other binding constraints that hamper the country`s ability to generate ample and productive jobs and make use of its abundant resources. We should determine what policy measures and interventions can make a serious dent on high income inequality and poverty incidence," Llanto said.


Sajahatra Bangsamoro boosts sustainable farming and livelihood prospects in Zambo Sibugay
Source: http://www.opapp.gov.ph
TUNGAWAN, ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY – Villagers of Barangay Datu Tumanggon in this town recently received a boost in their livelihood opportunities, thanks to the Sajahatra Bangsamoro, a joint, initial socioeconomic development initiative of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

​On Tuesday, August 26, the Sajahatra Bangsamoro Program (SBP), through the Department of Agriculture (DA), distributed substantial farm inputs and conducted post-harvest trainings to the Moro and non-Moro residents of the barangay.

The Datu Tumanggon community, heavily dependent on agriculture for livelihood and sustenance, had longed throughout the years for better means to cultivate and maximize their natural farm resources, eyeing long-term economic self-reliance.

“In the past, we could only dream of having a better source of livelihood here in Datu Tumanggon,” said Winnielyn Jainuddin, president of the local people’s organization known as Peace Loving People of Datu Tumanggon.

“High interest loan rates, along with the lack of financial windows for farmers to buy seeds and other tools to cultivate our lands, were major challenges to us villagers. With the free farm inputs provided to us by the Department of Agriculture under the Sajahatra program, those dreams can now be achieved.”

DA Assistant Secretary Edilberto M. de Luna led the distribution of farm kits, livestock, and seeds to the villagers in a symbolic turnover ceremony held at the barangay hall.

“We respect and recognize your aspiration for self-determination as Bangsamoro people,” De Luna told Datu Tumanggon locals, adding that the support does not end in providing seedlings alone, but will also involve farmer trainings to ensure the sustainability of the program within their communities.

DA’s livelihood assistance manifests the agency’s commitment to the Sajahatra Bangsamoro Program which aims to uplift Bangsamoro communities through the delivery of health, education and livelihood opportunities as initial dividends of peace.

De Luna said they are providing at least a thousand coffee seedlings, several vegetable seeds, and livestock to include 45 chickens, 21 goats, and two water buffaloes to enhance the agricultural activities in the village.

Tuesday’s event is the first among a series of livelihood distribution events that the DA is initiating in all 10 SBP beneficiary sites across Mindanao, which the joint Sajahatra team had identified.

Fair and equitable distribution

Jainuddin said the farm inputs and livestock will be distributed to the villagers. Each family will have a fair share of seedlings and the chance to breed the livestock.

“The impact of this program is huge. Considering how the level of living conditions here is so low, the program will certainly help each family here earn more,” she said.

For Merlyn Melindres, a Visayan settler who grew up in Datu Tumanggon, the potential for prosperity that they are being given now could not have been realized if not for the strong determination and sincere commitment of the Philippine government and the MILF to pursue the path to peace.

“The good thing about the Sajahatra Program is that it is not selective in terms of its beneficiaries. Even we Visayan members of the community can still gain from the program,” she shared.

Beyond economic advantages, the joint initiative also puts in effect a grassroots-level effort to cater to the political and historical rights of the Bangsamoro people in Mindanao.

“Muslims and Christians here share a mutual understanding. Their (Sajahatra program’s) purpose upholds this and promises to bring progress to our village. We, the people here, express our gratitude to them for coming down to meet our group,” Melindres added.

Jainuddin affirmed that the southern peace process between the GPH and MILF has not only created a peaceful environment in their area, but also enabled a significant improvement in the delivery of basic services.

“We have huge regard to the [GPH-MILF] peace process. It has provided us with better livelihood and education opportunities for our children. Now, we are even expecting a health center to be constructed in our village; we don’t have to travel far to get free medical services anymore. The [peace process] has truly uplifted the living conditions of the families here,” she said.


Statement on Repositioning of Troops in Golan Heights
Source: http://www.dfa.gov.ph
Yesterday, August 30, at around 6 a.m. Syrian time (11 a.m. Philippine time), Syrian rebels initiated an attack on Position 68. Our troops defended their position. The Syrian rebels attacked on-board pick-up trucks. Our peacekeepers returned fire in self-defense. Our troops fought back bravely and successfully held their positions.This attack prompted UNDOF to reposition our troops to a more secure position within the mission area

The government of Syria and Israel are supporting our troops to uphold the integrity of the area of separation and to deescalate the situation. The teamwork demonstrated by our fellow UNDOF troop-contributing countries and the UN is exemplary. Other governments including the United States and Qatar also played a role in the safeguarding our peacekeepers

Currently, Filipino peacekeepers from both Position 68 and 69 have successfully repositioned to Camp Ziuoani.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the United Nations will not compromise the safety and security of our troops while in the pursuit of their duties. It is in our national interest to prioritize their safety without abandoning our commitment to international security.

We commend our soldiers for exhibiting resolve even while under heavy fire. This manifests their determination to fulfill our commitment to the community of nations.