30 SEPT 2014

Statement: The Socioeconomic Planning Secretary on accelerating infrastructure development
Remote Zambo village fulfills dream school through people participation
Sajahatra implements initial cash-for-work program in South Cotabato communities
DBM-Comelec secure overseas voting funding in 2015; Abad: Funds to be sourced from Comelec savings
Intermediate courses in Productivity Toolbox to increase MSMEs' efficiency and improve workers attitude towards customer and product/service quality--Baldoz
POEA Governing Board issues new guidelines defining high risk areas and benefits due to seafarers
ASEAN, Australia Reaffirm Commitment to Elevate Relations at 4th Joint Cooperation Committee Meeting
BFAR’s statement on the incident of fish mortality in Rosario, Cavite
Philippines makes significant headway in fight vs illegal fishing
P15.5-M Machineries For Samar And Leyte
DENR pushes for early compliance to Euro 4 fuel standards, phase-out of ageing vehicles
FCDU Loans Up by 1.8 Percent in Q2 2014
Roxas welcomes Gold Award granted to the Philippines for the GPB
PDIC to pay depositors of the closed Rural Bank of Lobo starting October 7
Discontinuation of the "PREMYO SA RESIBO (PSR)" Program
Mayor is new PNP spokesman and publicist
TESDA renews partnership with Robinsons malls

Statement: The Socioeconomic Planning Secretary on accelerating infrastructure development
Source: http://www.neda.gov.ph
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director-General

“Accelerating Infrastructure Development”
30 September 2014, 8:00 AM
Philippine International Convention Center, Pasay City

Infrastructure development remains one of the top priorities of the Philippine Government to help sustain the robust economic performance and the improved confidence level among the international business communities that the country is currently enjoying. As we know, infrastructure development plays a critical role in the growth and competitiveness of the Philippines and its major economic sectors; in reducing poverty, and creating quality employment; and in ensuring the safety of people, communities, properties and livelihood in times of natural disasters and calamities. Given all these, the government is working to enhance the quality, adequacy and accessibility of the country’s infrastructure.

The overall strategy of the government to accelerate infrastructure development is to increase public infrastructure spending from 2.2 percent of GDP in 2012 to at least 5.0 percent by 2016.

The strategies and action plans in the Philippine Development Plan are translated into priority programs and projects under the current Public Investment Program (PIP) being implemented within the medium-term by the national government (NG), government-owned and/or -controlled corporations (GOCCs), government financial institutions (GFIs), and other government offices and instrumentalities.

For 2013-2016, the priority programs and projects for the infrastructure sector consist of 952 projects with total investment requirements amounting to about USD46.69 billion (PhP2.06 trillion), including capital infrastructure projects, both ongoing and proposed.

This slide provides the breakdown for the subsectors until 2016.

Investment requirements for infrastructure development remain huge despite increased public infrastructure spending. Therefore, infrastructure development will be supplemented by private sector investments through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs).

To optimize public-private partnerships and enhance the country’s attractiveness to private sector investors, the government has reviewed, amended, and approved policies and legal framework involving private sector participation, such as the IRR of the BOT Law (RA 7718) and the JV Guidelines. Reforms in the energy sector have also increased private sector participation. In July 2012, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) approved the feed-in-tariff (FiT) rates to encourage RE developers to invest at the initial stage and hasten RE deployment.

To improve competitiveness and geographic connectivity, the Pocket Open Skies Policy (EO 29) was issued in 2011, allowing foreign carriers to operate unilateral and unlimited traffic rights to airports other than the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Meanwhile, the Common Carriers Tax (CCT) Act (RA 10378) aims to enhance the country’s competitiveness in international travel by encouraging international air carriers to include the Philippines in their primary routes.

Alongside these policies, the government is pursuing the synchronization of planning, programming and budgeting to ensure that the programs and projects are aligned with the country’s developmental goals and outcomes.

Sustaining the economy’s high-growth trajectory requires continued investment in infrastructure to unleash the potentials of many areas throughout the country. Thus, investors are encouraged to participate in the construction and implementation of various programs and projects that have been identified in a number of infrastructure-related roadmaps and master plans approved by the government. Several programs and projects in these roadmaps and master plans have no identified financing yet.

For transport infrastructure, priorities include the implementation of:

The Transport Infrastructure Development Roadmap for Metro Manila and its Surrounding Areas (Region III and IV-a), to improve coordination among relevant agencies on transport projects in Metro Manila and its environs in the short-term, medium-term, and long-term;
The Logistics Infrastructure Roadmap for Mindanao, to improve logistics infrastructure for cost-effective linking of Mindanao’s agriculture and fishery production centers to markets within the region, the rest of the country and abroad; and
The DPWH and Department of Tourism (DOT) Convergence Plan, to provide road access to designated priority tourism destinations under the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP).

Other approved infrastructure master plans include: The Flood Management Master Plan for Metro Manila and Surrounding Areas and the E-Government Master Plan (EGMP).

In the energy sector, the 2013-2017 Household Electrification Development Plan (HEDP) issued by the Department of Energy (DOE) sets the plans and strategies to attain 86.2-percent household electrification by 2016 and 90-percent by 2017, while the Philippine Energy Plan 2012-2030 targets 100-percent electrification of sitios by 2015.

To promote energy conservation and energy efficient technologies, the Department of Energy (DOE) is implementing various activities under the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Program (NEECP), while the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) aims to develop specific RE technologies and help the country triple its renewable energy capacity by 2030.

In terms of basic infrastructure facilities and services, the government is working to provide clean and safe drinking water to 14 million Filipinos; construct additional 87,034 classrooms by end of 2016; provide 262,287 socialized housing units from 2014 to 2016; construct, rehabilitate and upgrade 12,295 basic health care hospitals and facilities from 2014 to 2016; and improve solid waste and wastewater management.

For ICT, the adoption of the Integrated Services Digital Broadcast-Terrestrial (ISDB-T) or the Japanese standard in Digital Broadcasting provides potential investment opportunities for the development of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) broadcast infrastructure in the country.

As we accelerate infrastructure development, the government shall continue implementing strategies to improve the country’s business climate and encourage private sector participation through good governance, vital infrastructure support, and policy reforms to facilitate doing business in the country.


Remote Zambo village fulfills dream school through people participation
Source: http://www.dswd.gov.ph
Tukura, Zamboanga del Sur – Lack of education remains one of the biggest concerns in the Philippines, particularly for those living in remote villages.

This was a problem that was all too real for the residents of Barangay Man-ilan in this town.

Located almost 20 kilometers away from the main road, Barangay Man-ilan can only be reached by habal-habal (motorcycles for public transport). With this, Brgy. Man-ilan is isolated from the rest of the villages.

“Sa una, gamay lang gyud ang mga estudyante namu (There were only a few students here before),” narrated Nezaida Labrador, a teacher of the Man-ilan Elementary School, which previously consisted of two makeshift classrooms.

“Katung mga naka-enrol diri, kasagaran ga-transfer pud kay kung ga-ulan, matuluan gyud sila kay murag gi-himu-himu lang man ang ilahang room (Most of those who were enrolled here would eventually transfer to other schools because when it rains, students would get wet as they only occupied makeshift classrooms),” she added.

More often than not, grim future awaited the students who did not have the option to transfer schools.

“Ginikanan ang ilahang sitwasyon. Ang uban nga diri gapuyo pero sa laing nga eskwela ga-sulud, mu-baclay pa sa pikas nga baryo kay didtu maayu man ang classrooms (The tendency was for children who could not transfer to no longer attend school, because their parents could see how difficult their situation would be. On the other hand, those who enrolled to another school needed to take a longer route to get to the other side of the village),” Nezaida further narrated.

The introduction of the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services-National Community-Driven Development Program (KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP) to support Barangay Man-ilan’s implementation of the national government’s Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP) provided the opportunity for the villagers to finally get their own school building.

KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP is one of the poverty-alleviation programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). It utilizes the community-driven development (CDD) approach to ensure that citizens become actively involved in local decision-making, even as they are provided the opportunity to have improved access to basic social services.

GPBP, formerly known as Bottom-Up Budgeting (BUB), is a strategy of the Philippine government for the citizens, particularly the poor, to enable them to participate in the local budgeting process to ensure that programs and services are responsive to their needs.

However, residents were initially hesitant to participate in the process despite the opportunity offered to them through the KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP’s GPBP implementation.

Mamelito Butir, who served as one of the community volunteers in KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP, shared, “Gamay lang gyud mu attend mga anang asembliya sa una. Mga lima, daku na nang dyes katau. Siguro pud, maulaw sila, kahy basig dili sila kasabut (Only a few attended barangay assemblies before. A group of five or ten people was already a significant size then. Maybe they were reluctant to attend because they thought they would not be able to understand whatever will be discussed there),” adding that such was typically how they responded to government projects in the past.

Still, those who showed interest to volunteer in KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP persevered, even though they needed to adjust, as it was a novelty for them to work with their fellow villagers.

“Ang katung problema lang sa una, kana bang syempre ang kinaiya sa tawu nay dili natu mapasabut, pero daghan mi ug kalihukan para mapasabut lang sila (There were times when we cannot understand what our supposed responsibilities were in the project, but we made a lot of effort for them to comprehend and even appreciate it),” said Mamelito.

Men and women of different sectors came together to volunteer and participate in the construction of the classrooms, which had a total cost of P2,572,424.00.

By working together, they were finally able to achieve their longtime dream to have a school in their community.

“Sa kaluuy sa ginoo, gi-succeed da gihapun ang among tumong. Kaayuhan da gihapun sa community. Basta amu silang gipasabut kay naa ta’y proyekto gihatag sa KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDPat GPBP. Kinahanglan mu tabang ta. Tabang lang pud dayun sila (With God’s grace, we succeeded in realizing our objective of working for the welfare of the community. We let the people know that we got our sub-project through KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP and GPBP, and that we as a community need to help each other),” Mamelito related.

Today, a one-unit, four-classroom building sits proudly in Barangay Man-ilan, testimony of the hard work put into by the residents of the village for their children.

“Apan sa pagtukud sa kining classroom, gi-pull out namu ang mga estudyante nga residente diri sa Man-ilan pero enrolled sa mga eskwela sa laing barangay. Kay gusto pud namu magamit gyud nila ang proyekto nga para ilaha. Si na sila mu-baclay sa kalayu (Upon the completion of the classroom building, students who reside in Man-ilan but were enrolled in schools in other barangays were pulled out so they can be enrolled here. We also wanted them to benefit from the sub-project that was built for them, and they no longer have to take a long walk to get to and from school),” Teacher Nezaida said.

The new building is a far cry from the makeshift classrooms of the past, which were insufficient for their needs, as teachers were required to develop a rotating schedule just so they can have the opportunity to use the available classrooms, dilapidated as they may be.

Now, Man-ilan elementary students no longer have to put up with improvised classrooms, especially during the on-set of rainy weather. Consequently, the new facility has encouraged more children to enroll in the village’s primary school, increasing the number of enrolees to 136 at present as compared to less than 100 last year.

What seemed elusive for the present and future students of Man-ilan before has now become a reality, and it is through the efforts of the community people themselves, who have made this possible through their own hard work with the support of DSWD’s KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP.


Sajahatra implements initial cash-for-work program in South Cotabato communities
Source: http://www.opapp.gov.ph
SOUTH COTABATO, MINDANAO – Some 246 residents of South Cotabato have been given a unique chance to augment their income through a cash-for-work (CFW) program implemented under the Sajahatra Bangsamoro initiative.

"Malaking bagay po para sa amin itong cash-for-work (This cash-for-work is significant for us)," said Nowkh Mama Ludsiman of Barangay Lampari, Banga, South Cotabato.

"Bukod sa nagkakaroon kami ng trabaho, napapatibay pa ng ginagawa namin ang pamayanan namin (Aside from giving us jobs, our efforts allow us to strengthen our communities.)"

The Sajahatra Bangsamoro's CFW program is carried out by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). The types of jobs under the program are targeted towards community improvement and protection such as flood prevention, disaster-preparedness, environment protection, and infrastructure reconstruction and rehabilitation as well as food security under the supplemental feeding program.

Norhata Benito, head of the DSWD Risk Reduction and Management Section-Region XII office, refers to the CFW as one of “DSWD's commitments to help our Bangsamoro brothers and sisters gain ground on their path to peace and progress."

“The program gives them earning opportunities that are not only productive, but also directly beneficial to the long-term improvement, protection, and empowerment of their communities," she pointed out.

The 246 individuals participating in the CFW program in this province are part of the program-wide total of 11,000 beneficiaries who are being mobilized to serve 10 days of paid community work per month in a span of three months.

Both male and female comprise the list of beneficiaries, allowing fair and equal opportunities to contribute to, as well as gain from, the program.

"Malaki po ang naitutulong ng cash-for-work sa amin, lalo bilang kababaihan (The cash-for-work program helps us in a big way, especially us women)," remarked Menina Balicacos, a young mother who is also from Barangay Lampari.

"Nabibigyan kami ng paraan para suportahan ang mga pamilya namin (We are given a means to provide for our families.)" she said.

Pioneer batches of CFW beneficiaries have already received wages. To date, approximately one-third of the program's identified beneficiaries have been mobilized.

The Sajahatra Bangsamoro is the Aquino government’s concrete socio-economic peace initiative that aims to uplift the health, education, and livelihood conditions in communities that fall within and around the proposed Bangsamoro territory. Jointly implemented with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the program is the initial dividend of peace following the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro. The Sajahatra Bangsamoro is also expected to jumpstart the socio-economic component of the Normalization process in line with the signed Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.


DBM-Comelec secure overseas voting funding in 2015; Abad: Funds to be sourced from Comelec savings
Source: http://www.dbm.gov.ph
Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad today said that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) have secured the necessary funding requirements to amply support the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) in 2015, by drawing the required funds from the election body’s savings.

The budget department, in turn, has committed to provide an item of appropriation under the 2015 proposed budget for the said purpose that can be augmented using Comelec’s savings.

“The P89.6 million being proposed by the Comelec for the OAV registration next year can be completely accommodated by utilizing their own savings, which they have generated since last year. We discussed the matter with the Comelec, and they have since agreed to tap their savings for the said purpose in 2015.

“It’s very important to give our Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) the necessary means to participate in the coming elections. That is exactly why we advised the Comelec to prioritize the OAV registration in the use of their savings,“ Abad said.

The Budget Secretary added that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) also has an allocation for Overseas Absentee Voting worth P43.4 million under the 2014 GAA and proposed 2015 budget, respectively.

This appropriation is allocated for the conduct of continuing registration, information campaign and development, and proper maintenance of voter databases.


Intermediate courses in Productivity Toolbox to increase MSMEs' efficiency and improve workers attitude towards customer and product/service quality--Baldoz
Source: http://www.dole.gov.ph
Pressing her pitch for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to avail of the DOLE's Productivity Toolbox, Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday enumerated the specific benefits that MSMEs can derive from the intermediate training courses in the toolbox.

"For MSMEs, the intermediate courses will increase their efficiency in utilizing their resources and managing production costs. It will improve their productivity and competitiveness through the application of appropriate and advanced productivity technologies," said Baldoz.

"On the part of the workers, the intermediate training courses will result to improved work attitude; reduce their service errors leading to better services; make them conscious of product/service quality; and lead them to focus more on their customers," Baldoz added.

The Productivity Toolbox consists of five basic training courses; six intermediate training courses; and three advanced training courses, or a total of fourteen (14) training courses.

For intermediate training, the Toolbox offers the following: (1) ISTIV Plus (Succeeding in Business); (2) Green Productivity (Green My Enterprise Program); (3) Service Quality for Key Employment Generators-Hotel and Restaurant Industry; (4) Training on Work Improvement and Measurement Study; (5) Consulting/Supplemental Training on Advance Productivity Technologies; and (6) Production and Operation Management.

ISTIV Plus (Succeeding in Business) is a two-day values-driven human resource intervention for quality and productivity improvement rooted in the five ideal attributes of a productive individual. ISTIV stands for Industrious, Systematic, Time-Conscious, Innovative, and Value for work. This training course combines productivity values and productivity techniques in a knowledge dialogue for improved communication between labor and management.

Another two-day intermediate training is Green Productivity (Green My Enterprise Program), a consulting training for sustainable growth and environment protection that recognizes the workforce as driver of change in the enterprise.

Service Quality for Key Employment Generators-Hotel and Restaurant Industry is a two-day intermediate training course specifically for hotels and restaurants categorized as standard or economy and fast-food. It is a quality management intervention to enhance workforce knowledge and skills in providing error-free service to customers.

Training on Work Improvement and Measurement Study is a seminar-workshop which teaches the preparation of time study by determining factors, such as observed, normal, and standard times and allowances. It seeks to define work measurement and identify its uses and techniques to help enterprises determine correct wage rates, as well as improve their work systems. The duration of the seminar-workshop is two days.

The fourth intermediate training course is Consulting Training on Advance Productivity Technologies, an intervention which involves the provision of direction and guidance to enterprises through regular monitoring and evaluation visits to give advice on productivity improvement programs.

The last, but not the least, intermediate training course is Production and Operation Management (PROMAN), an eight-day introductory course on the process of creation of products from resource inputs and productive processing. It seeks to help participants understand the production functions in an organization and how these relate to wage and time standards; apply production concepts, tools, and techniques in both manufacturing and services; and gain necessary and sufficient skills to be of better help to organizations or individuals in improving, measuring, and compensating.
Baldoz emphasized that these training courses are offered free of charge.

The labor and employment chief had approved the National Wages and Productivity Commission-formulated Productivity Toolbox for MSMEs and the Manual on Productivity Enhancement Program for DOLE Livelihood Program Beneficiaries which the DOLE will provide in the second level of its engagement with business establishments under the new Labor Laws Compliance System.

The Productivity Toolbox is a needs-based, ladderized package of developmental assistance to MSMEs to ensure that they transition to more viable and competitive enterprises and eventually, comply with labor laws, including safety and health standards.

It provides a menu of productivity tools and technologies which MSMEs can adopt depending on their capacity-building needs. It also forms part of the DOLE's package of development assistance to MSMEs in support of the productivity-based pay scheme, or the second tier, of the Two-Tiered Wage System, a reform which Baldoz has initiated and which the DOLE has been pursuing since 2011.

For a preview of the Productivity Toolbox and its content, visit the NWPC website www.nwpc.dole.gov.ph and click on the Productivity Toolbox icon, or inquire from the NWPC and its network of Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards.


POEA Governing Board issues new guidelines defining high risk areas and benefits due to seafarers
Source: http://www.dole.gov.ph
Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, chairman of the Governing Board of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), yesterday announced that the Board has issued a resolution adopting guidelines on the limits of high-risk areas and benefits due to seafarers that apply to the Internationally-Recognized Transit Corridor (IRTC) within the Gulf of Aden. “The POEA Governing Board issued GBR No. 26, Series of 2014, adopting the amended guidelines defining high-risk areas and the benefits due to seafarers in transiting in such areas after the POEA consulted manning associations, seafarers’ unions, and international shipowners’ associations, which fully support the new agreement between the social partners comprising the International Bargaining Forum,” explained Baldoz. The amended High Risk Area Agreement, reached between social partners comprising the International Bargaining Forum on 5 June 2014, takes into account the decreased likelihood of piracy attack in the Gulf of Aden due to the implementation of the Best Management Practices, Series 4, by international shipping organizations and the increased presence of military assets in the area. The International Bargaining Forum (IBF) is a forum of international maritime employers. The agreement downgrades the IRTC within the Gulf of Aden from High Risk Area status to Extended Risk Zone status. This results in the removal of the necessity to pay additional compensation for transit within the IRTC and that such additional compensation will only apply if the vessel is subject to a confirmed attack. The guidelines provides that (1) Seafarers on board ships transiting the following coordinates shall no longer be covered by High Risk Area bonus/additional compensation: (A) For East bound Lane, start position at 45° East and runs between 11° 48’ North and 11° 53’ North. The lane runs straight, at course 72°. The termination of the lane is at 53° East, between 14° 18’ North and 14° 23’ North; (B) For West bound lane, start position at 53° East, between 14° 25’ North and 14° 30’ North. The lane runs straight through 252°. The termination of the lane is at 45° East, between 11° 55’ North and 12° 00’ North. The guidelines further provide that when a vessel sailing or operating within the said coordinates is attacked, high risk area bonus shall be paid, on the condition that the attack shall be recorded in the vessel’s logbook, confirmed in writing and submitted to the employer or manning agency to ensure that proper compensation is paid. The guidelines also provides that seafarers onboard ships transiting in the following high risk areas shall be entitled to High Risk area bonus/additional compensation and benefits: (1) IBF Warlike Operations Area -- 12 nautical miles off Somali North Coast Territorial waters extending up to the 12 nautical miles limit from due north of the north-western border of Somalia with Ethiopia to due north of Cape Guardafui; (2) IBF High Risk Area -- Gulf of Aden, up to 400 nautical miles off Somali East Coast. The Western border of this High Risk Area runs from the coastline at the border of Djibouti and Somalia to position of 11° 48’ North, 45° East, from 12° 00’ North, 45° East to Mayyun Island in the Bab El Mandeb Straits. The Eastern border runs from Rhiy di-Irisal on Suqutra Island to position 14° 18’ North, 53° East, from 14° 30’ North, 53° East to the coastline at the border between Yemen and Oman together with a 400 mile zone of the eastern coast of Somalia; (3) IBF Extended Risk Zone -- West Indian Ocean. The western border of the Extended Risk Zone runs from the coastline at the border of Djibouti and Somalia to position 11° 48’ North, 45° East, from 12° 00’ North, 45° East to Mayyun Island in the Bab El Mandeb Straits. The Eastern border is set at 78° East, the southern border is set at 10° South and the Northern border is set at 26° North; and (4) IBF High Risk Area -- Gulf of Guinea. The territorial waters of Benin and Nigeria, including ports, terminals and roads anchorages, the delta of the Niger river, other inland waterways and port facilities, except only when the vessel is attached securely to a berth or SBM facility in a guarded port are. “Seafarers onboard vessels transiting in these areas are entitled to additional compensation,” said Baldoz. It can be recalled that the POEA Governing Board had issued various resolutions concerning the Gulf of Aden as a high risk area for Filipino seafarers onboard ships transiting in the area. These resolutions included GBR No 4, Series of 2008, passed on October 2008, declaring the Gulf of Aden as a high risk area for seafarers; Resolutions Nos. 3, 5, and 6, Series of 2009; No. 11, Series of 2011; and Nos. 12 and 13, Series of 2012, were subsequently issued to govern the application of the guidelines issued by IBF. “The resolution is effective on 1 October 2014, hence, I have instructed the POEA and the Labor Communications Office, as well as stakeholders, to join in its extensive dissemination to ensure wide circulation and knowledge of this resolution,” Baldoz said. Baldoz, POEA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, the Governing Board's Vice Chairman, and Governing Board members Milagros Isabel Cristobal, Alexander Asuncion, Estrelita Hizon, and Felix Rodolfo Oca, all signed the resolution.


ASEAN, Australia Reaffirm Commitment to Elevate Relations at 4th Joint Cooperation Committee Meeting
Source: http://www.dfa.gov.ph
30 September 2014 – ASEAN and Australia reaffirmed their shared commitment to further strengthen their comprehensive partnership and discussed preparations for ASEAN-Australia Commemorative Summit to be held on November 12 in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar to mark the 40th anniversary of ASEAN-Australia Dialogue Relations as an opportunity to elevate the mature ties to a higher level.

This was the consensus reached at the 4th ASEAN-Australia Joint Cooperation Committee (AAJCC) Meeting on September 25, which was co-chaired by Philippine Ambassador Elizabeth P. Buensuceso, Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Philippines to ASEAN, and Australian Ambassador to ASEAN Simon Merrifield at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta. The AAJCC was also attended by all the Permanent Representatives/Ambassadors to ASEAN of ASEAN Member States.

“2014 is a banner year for ASEAN-Australia relations even as we hold this JCC on the 40th Anniversary of the establishment of our relations. Indeed, a number of activities have been undertaken to mark the long and mutually beneficial friendship that ASEAN and Australia have been according each other,” Ambassador Buensuceso emphasized.

“2014 is also the year we completed the successor document to our Plan of Action, which was adopted by our Ministers at the Post Ministerial Conference with Australia in August in Nay Pyi Taw. We remember fondly, of course, the landmark visit to Australia of the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN, where we met with no less than Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop and Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb,” Ambassador Buensuceso added.

The AAJCC discussed preparations for the ASEAN-Australia Commemorative Summit to be chaired by Myanmar President and ASEAN Chair U Thein Sein, and to be attended by all ASEAN Leaders and the Prime Minister of Australia.

The AAJCC agreed that a statement to be released after the Commemorative Summit will serve as an important guide in charting the future directions of ASEAN-Australia Dialogue Relations in all areas of cooperative partnership in the years to come.

The AAJCC also exchanged views on the goals for the next five years to further strengthen ASEAN-Australia relations, including the effective implementation of the newly-adopted Plan of Action (POA) to Implement the Joint Declaration on ASEAN-Australia Comprehensive Partnership (2015-2019). The POA covers a range of ASEAN-Australia cooperative endeavors in political and security, economic, trade and investment, socio-cultural, people-to-people exchanges, tourism, development cooperation and education issues.

“Australia is a vital and important partner of ASEAN. Economic and trade relations between ASEAN and Australia have steadily expanded in the past years. Tourist arrivals from Australia to ASEAN is also very significant. We also appreciate Australia’s enduring commitment to support ASEAN in education by offering more than its current award of around 1,000 scholarships per year to ASEAN students to study in Australia. We also welcome the New Colombo Plan’s expansion to all ASEAN Member States in 2015. Australia has made it plain time and again that she is our reliable partner in upholding the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law, unimpeded trade and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea and the peaceful settlement of disputes,” Ambassador Buensuceso said.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Merrifield reiterated Australia’s commitment to further deepen and strengthen its relationship with ASEAN covering cooperation in security, culture, trade, education and development. He added that Australia will continue to support ASEAN’s community building efforts and its Post-2015 Vision. He said that Australia will continue to be an active partner of ASEAN in various ASEAN-led mechanisms like the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+).

“I was delighted to co-chair my second JCC, and appreciated the useful discussions we had about regional issues of mutual interest and the deepening of the ASEAN-Australia partnership. It was also a valuable opportunity to discuss preparations for the ASEAN-Australia Commemorative Summit in November, which will be a highlight of our celebrations of the 40th anniversary of ASEAN-Australia relations this year,” Ambassador Merrifield said.

“ASEAN is our number two trading partner after China and Australia is ASEAN’s sixth largest export destination. Two-way trade is now at $92.3 billion per annum (2013 figures) and that figure is twice what it was a decade ago,” Ambassador Merrifield added.

Australia, which established its formal ties with ASEAN in 1974, is ASEAN’s oldest dialogue partner.


BFAR’s statement on the incident of fish mortality in Rosario, Cavite
Source: http://www.da.gov.ph
The BFAR Quick Response Team and the Fish Health Unit personnel of BFAR IV-A were deployed in Rosario, Cavite on September 25 following a reported incident of fish mortality in Malimango River, a four-kilometer river, which starts in Brgy. Bagbag 1 and ends in Brgy. Ligtong 1 where it opens to Manila Bay.

The river traverses five (5) barangays in Rosario, Cavite namely; Bagbag 1, Bagbag 2, Ligtong 1, Ligtong 3 and, Ligtong 4.

The stretch of Malimango river is not an aquaculture-producing area and the fish affected by the mortality were wild stock species of tilapia,asohos (silago), banak (mullet) and biya (goby). The loss is estimated at one (1) ton. In the afternoon of September 24, residents in the area noticed that the fish were surfacing the water and “gasping for air.” Later on, they saw dead fish floating on the river, particularly, in area where it flows into Manila Bay.

The Fish Health Unit personnel of BFAR IV-A in collaboration with the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer (MENRO) of Rosario collected water samples and conducted dissolved oxygen (DO) reading in the following areas: 1. Point 1: Tramo, Barangay Bagbag Uno (A) 2. Point 2: Tramo, Barangay Bagbag Uno (B) 3. Point 3: Marcella St. , Barangay Ligtong 3 4. Point 4: Barangay Ligtong 4 5. Point 5: Barangay Ligtong Uno (river mouth)

Initial findings indicated that dissolved oxygen (DO) level in all three sampling points—Brgy. Bagbag Uno (B), Brgy. Ligtong 3 and, Brgy. Ligtong 4— was below 3-5 mg/L or within the critical level. The water quality test came back with high levels of Ammonia-Nitrogen, Nitrite-Nitrogen, and Phosphates, beyond acceptable level, in all the sampling sites.

Ammonia is a chemical compound produced naturally from decomposing organic matter, including plants, animals and animal wastes. The ammonia in the water samples, however, might have also come from agricultural, domestic and industrial wastes. Phosphates, on the other hand, are one of the primary nutrient sources for many forms of algae and could come from sources like domestic sewage and runoff from agricultural land, urban areas and green areas (PEMSEA and MBEMP TWA-RRA in 2006). These chemicals at alarming level have hazardous effects on fish which may result in fish mortality.

BFAR is closely working with the LGU of Rosario in monitoring the water quality of the river and has recommended the necessary management measures during the fish mortality occurrence such as proper disposal of dead fish. This is to ensure that dead fishes will not reach the market and prevent sanitary-related diseases from happening. (DA-BFAR IPRG)


Philippines makes significant headway in fight vs illegal fishing
Source: http://www.da.gov.ph
The fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF) remains part of the country’s continuing efforts to ensure the sustainable use of the country’s marine and fishery wealth for future food security and long-term socio-economic opportunities.

“As a country where fish hunting and fish farming are a major source of livelihood and income as well as export earnings, proper conservation and protection of our marine wealth and ecosystems is an imperative and not a choice,” Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director Asis Perez said.

And the same time, putting an end to IUUF is an international commitment that President Benigno S. Aquino III himself re-affirmed during his visit to Belgium recently.

In a meeting with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso at EC headquarters in Brussels, Aquino assured the European Union that the Philippines is actively undertaking measures, and has actually made progress, in its efforts to combat IUUF activities.

“Our relevant agencies, particularly BFAR, have been in close coordination with EU’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries to address the matter,” Aquino remarked during a joint press conference with Barroso after their talks.

He said the government has initiated and posted gains in its pursuit of legal, administrative and budgetary reforms to effect good governance in the fishing sector.

These include the adoption of the National Plan of Action signed as Executive Order No. 154 by President Aquino in December 2013, which prompted the creation of an Inter-agency Philippine Committee against IUUF.

DA-BFAR also instituted a new traceability regulation (FAO 251 s. of 2014) to help ensure that only non-IUU fish will make it to Philippine markets.

Surveillance and monitoring capabilities were likewise enhanced through the adoption a fully functional Vessel Monitoring System and acquisition of modern multi-mission patrol vessels.

To beef up its regulatory, quarantine and fish inspection systems, DA-BFAR will hire and train additional manpower and talents to serve as frontliners.

At Congress, the country’s 16-year old Fisheries Code, also known as Republic Act 8550, is on the verge of being updated to impose heftier fines and longer periods of imprisonment against violators, in line with the International Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

The Senate bill version, which provides provisions on deterrent sanctions and penalties, and conservation and management principles, is now on second reading. On the other hand, the House version is on third and final reading.

In June this year, EC slapped the Philippines, along with Papua New Guinea, a yellow card warning over what it deemed as insufficient action to fight illegal fishing. The government was given six months to act on the recommendations; otherwise EU may ban all Philippine fisheries exports from its billion-dollar market.

In 2013, Philippine exports of fish to the EU amounted to 165 million euros (P9.4 billion).

“In fact, the country has acted on most of the recommendations and required actions by the Commission, except for two matters: amendment to the Fisheries Code, and manning of the new inspectors,” said Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala who, along with Perez, took part in the European leg of the President’s five-country US-Europe official tour.

“But we are on track to meeting these requisites,” he added.


P15.5-M Machineries For Samar And Leyte
Source: http://www.dar.gov.ph
TACLOBAN CITY – The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) recently turned-over Php15.5 million worth of farm machineries to five agrarian reform beneficiary organizations (ARBOs) in Leyte, Samar and Eastern Samar to help them rebuild their lives after being battered by super typhoon Yolanda last year.

Region 8 Director Sheila Enciso said the tractors were funded under the Agrarian Reform Communities Connectivity and Economic Support Services (ARCCESS) project and were intended for the clearing and rehabilitation of farm lots in areas greatly affected by the typhoon

Enciso added that three tractors were distributed in Leyte and one tractor each for the provinces of Samar and Eastern Samar, respectively.

DAR entrusted to five ARBOs the operations and maintenance of the machines which cost P3,117,920 per unit.

For Leyte, DAR turned over the machines to the St. Benedict’s Association for Sustainable Farming which is based in Tunga; the Boroc Agricultural Primary Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Ormoc; and the Zaragosa Agrarian Cooperative in Matalom.

Meanwhile for Eastern Samar and Samar, DAR turned over the machines to the Carapdapan Small Farmers and Fishermen Producers Cooperative based in Salcedo, Eastern Samar and the Legaspi Farmers and Fishermen Association in Marabut.


DENR pushes for early compliance to Euro 4 fuel standards, phase-out of ageing vehicles
Source: http://www.denr.gov.ph
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is pushing for the early implementation of improved fuel standards and the phase-out of older, polluting motor vehicles as strategies to improve air quality and reduce the carbon footprint of Metro Manila.

DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje noted that around 70 to 80 percent of air pollution in the metropolis comes from mobile sources or vehicular emissions; while only 20 to 30 percent comes from stationary sources such as industrial emissions, and area sources like open burning.

“Clearly, the key to improving Metro Manila’s air quality is by addressing the biggest source of pollution, which is motor vehicles,” Paje pointed out. “We are therefore proposing an early implementation of the Euro 4 standards for automobile fuels and the scrapping of older high polluting vehicles.”

He said such measures were necessary after the DENR - Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) recorded the levels of total suspended particulates (TSP) still over the acceptable or national annual guideline value of 90 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/Ncm). This, despite a 21 percent overall annual reduction from 2010 to 2013, or from 150 to 118 ug/Ncm.

“Air pollution has a direct impact on the health of our citizenry and the environment, and an indirect impact on our country’s economy because of the health costs. We are all breathing the same air; let us not subject ourselves to this silent killer for much longer,” Paje said.

As early as 2010, the DENR had issued an administrative order requiring passenger and light duty vehicles to comply with Euro 4 emission limits, subject to Euro IV fuel availability, by January 1, 2016.

But Paje has proposed to the Department of Energy that the deadline be imposed six months ahead, or in June 2015, citing the urgent need to improve Metro Manila’s air quality.

The Philippines is currently following Euro 2 emission limits. Euro 2 fuel types have a sulfur content of 500 parts per million (ppm), compared to 50ppm for Euro 4 fuels. Sulfuric content in pollutants have been known to lead to heart and lung diseases, increased cancer risks, and premature deaths.

EMB Director Jonas Leones expressed confidence that stakeholders from the automotive industry as well as owners of newer vehicles would not experience much difficulty with an earlier deadline since most vehicles manufactured recently are already compliant with or can be retrofitted to accept Euro 4 fuels.

Leones also noted that independent players in the fuel industry are already selling Euro 4 compliant products.

Paje, meanwhile, urged the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) to phase out vehicles that operate for 15 years or more in order to reduce the volume of vehicles in Metro Manila.

The environment chief said that older vehicles consume more fuel and produce more emissions.

As an alternative, however, Paje suggested prohibiting older vehicles from plying major thoroughfares that are prone to heavy traffic.

“Heavier traffic means more idling time for vehicles on the road. This leads to more emissions, and older vehicles have more toxic emissions,” he explained.


FCDU Loans Up by 1.8 Percent in Q2 2014
Source: http://www.bsp.gov.ph
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. announced that as of end-June 2014, outstanding FCDU loans stood at US$11.6 billion, up by US$204 million (or 1.8 percent) from the end-March 2014 level of US$11.4 billion, due principally to net loan disbursements. This may be attributed to the ample liquidity of the banking sector, the low interest rate environment, and the country’s growing external trade. Sustained consumer demand and investor confidence in the economy, induced by the country’s stable and resilient macroeconomic fundamentals, also contributed to the expansion of the FCDU loan portfolio.

The maturity profile of outstanding FCDU loans was as follows: medium- to long-term loans [or those payable over a term of more than one (1) year] represented 59.3 percent of total, and funded various projects. Short-term (ST) accounts [or those with original maturities of up to one (1) year] comprised the 40.7 percent balance of the loan portfolio.

Outstanding loans to the private sector represented 99.0 percent of total, with the 1.0 percent balance pertaining to the public sector with the following as major beneficiaries: public utility firms (US$1.9 billion or 16.5 percent), producers/manufacturers, including oil companies (US$1.9 billion or 16.0 percent) and merchandise and service exporters (US$1.6 billion or 13.4 percent).

Gross disbursements during the second quarter of the year increased to US$14.2 billion (or by 10.1 percent) from US$12.9 billion a quarter ago. The bulk of loan releases (95.9 percent) had ST maturities, and were largely for working capital requirements (83.1 percent of total ST disbursements).

FCDU deposit liabilities also increased to US$29.8 billion or by US$2.4 billion (8.7 percent) from US$27.4 billion in March 2014. The bulk (97.0 percent) of the deposits continued to be held by residents and essentially constitute additional foreign exchange buffer to the country’s international reserves. The loans-to-deposit ratio declined to 38.8 percent in June from 41.5 percent in the first quarter in view of the larger increase in deposit liabilities vis-à-vis loans.


Roxas welcomes Gold Award granted to the Philippines for the GPB
Source: http://www.dilg.gov.ph
Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas expressed elation over the Gold Open Government Award for Grassroots Participatory Budgeting (GPB) granted to the Philippines during the recent Inaugural Open Government Partnership Awards at the United Nations Head Quarters in New York City.

The country was recognized for its outstanding efforts to deepen citizen engagement in the budget process.

Roxas said under the GPB, local government units are given the freedom to choose a particular project based on the needs of their community. “Kayo ang magsasabi kung ano ang pangangailangan ng komunidad ninyo.”

He said this exemplifies President Aquino’s policy to always listen to the people, whom he calls his “Boss”. He said, “sabi ng Pangulo, kayo ang Boss, kayo ang mamimili ng proyekto ninyo, popondohan naming ang proyektong ito.”

Under the proposed 2015 budget, the GPB has been allocated a total of P21 billion to be divided among 1,590 cities and municipalities nationwide.

Roxas however urged the people to help the government in monitoring the implementation of the GPB to maximize the use of the funds. He said, “bantayan natin ang programang ito (GPB).”

The Open Government Partnership, of which the Philippines is a founding member, is a movement comprising of 64 governments, and international and national civil society organizations. It aims to deepen the practice of open government across its member countries.

Aside from the Philippines, also granted gold awards during the event were Denmark and Montenegro.


PDIC to pay depositors of the closed Rural Bank of Lobo starting October 7
Source: http://www.dof.gov.ph
The Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC) will service the deposit insurance claims of depositors of the closed Rural Bank of Lobo, Inc. starting on October 7, 2014 from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Servicing of claims for the bank’s Head Office and Batangas City Branch will be at their respective premises on October 7 to 8, 2014. Meanwhile, claims of depositors of the Lipa City Branch and Sto. Tomas Branch will be serviced at the premises of the bank’s branches on October 7, 2014.

Depositors with valid deposit balances of P50,000 and below, with complete mailing address found in the bank records or updated through the Mailing Address Update Form, and without any outstanding obligation with the bank do not need to file claims.

Depositors whose accounts have balances of more than P50,000, and those with outstanding obligations with the closed Rural Bank of Lobo or with incomplete mailing address, or those which maintain the account under the name of business entities, regardless of type of account and account balance, are required to file their deposit insurance claims. The announcement on the claims settlement operations of Rural Bank of Lobo is posted at its Head Office and branches and on the PDIC website, www.pdic.gov.ph.

When filing deposit insurance claims, depositors are advised to personally present their duly accomplished Claim Form, original copy of evidence of deposit such as Savings Passbook and Certificate of Time Deposit, and two (2) valid photo-bearing IDs with signature of the depositor. Depositors may also file their claims through mail and enclose the same set of document requirements.

Depositors who are below 18 years old should submit either a photocopy of their Birth Certificate issued by the National Statistics Office (NSO) or a duly certified copy issued by the Local Civil Registrar as an additional requirement, with the Claim Form signed by the parent and the other requirements. Claimants who are not the signatories in the bank records are required to submit an original copy of a notarized Special Power of Attorney (SPA). In the case of a minor depositor, the SPA must be executed by the parent.

The procedures and requirements for the filing of deposit insurance claims are posted in the PDIC website, www.pdic.gov.ph. The Claim Form and format of the Special Power of Attorney may also be downloaded from the PDIC website.

Depositors who are not able to file their claims during the claims settlement operations period may submit their claims either through mail to PDIC or personally at the PDIC Office, 4th Floor, SSS Bldg., 6782 Ayala Avenue corner V.A. Rufino Street, Makati City starting onOctober 20, 2014.

In accordance with the provisions of the PDIC Charter, the last day for filing deposit insurance claims in the closed Rural Bank of Lobo is on September 19, 2016. After this date, PDIC as Deposit Insurer, shall no longer accept any deposit insurance claim.

The PDIC said that all valid claims will be paid. For deposits to be considered valid, it must be recorded in the bank’s records and must have evidence of inflow of funds, based on the results of PDIC examination. PDIC, as Receiver, has the authority to adjust the interest rate on unpaid interests on deposits of a bank if such rate is deemed unreasonable.

For more information, depositors may contact the Public Assistance Department at telephone numbers (02) 841-4630 to 31, or e-mail atpad@pdic.gov.ph. Depositors outside Metro Manila may call the PDIC Toll Free Hotline at 1-800-1-888-PDIC (7342).


Mayor is new PNP spokesman and publicist
Source: http://pnp.gov.ph
Lawyer Police Senior Superintendent Wilben M Mayor, formally assumed position as Chief of the PNP Public Information Office (PIO) during simple ceremonies in Camp Crame on Monday.

Mayor will serve as full-time Spokesperson and publicist of the PNP. He replaced Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore C Sindac who was promoted to a command position as Director of the Logistics Support Service (LSS).

Before assuming the Chief PIO post, Mayor briefly served as Secretary of the Directorial Staff (SDS) and Spokesperson of the Office of the Chief PNP.

ON his first day in office, Mayor assured members of the PNP Press Corps of access to timely and accurate information involving the affairs of the PNP.

“Essentially, my responsibility is to ensure effective implementation of the PNP Media Relations Policy that basically involves upholding the right to information particularly on matters of public interest,” Mayor said.

He said he firmly believes that an atmosphere of productive partnership can exist between the PNP and media under a spirit of mutual support and cooperation.

I look forward to the opportunity of establishing cordial working relationship with members of the tri-media similar to the support and cooperation you extended to my predecessor, CSupt Reuben Theodore C Sindac,” he said.

Mayor graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in 1985 and was admitted into the Philippine Bar in 2005.

As a field grade officer, Mayor saw action in various command, staff and training assignments in Luzon and Mindoro provinces, including a colorful stint with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group where he figured prominently in the campaign against organized crime groups and wanted persons.(PNP-PIO)


TESDA renews partnership with Robinsons malls
Source: http://www.tesda.gov.ph
The Technical Education and Skills Authority (TESDA) and Robinsons Land Corporation (RLC) have renewed their tie-up to bring technical vocational education and training (tech-voc) programs closer to the public.

For another year starting this month, shoppers and mall goers at Robinsons' 19 sites all over the country will continue to find TESDA Specialista Desks manned by personnel who are ready to assist people who need information on the agency's scholarship and other programs.

TESDA, represented by Secretary Joel Villanueva, and RLC, through its president and chief executive officer Frederick Go signed the memorandum of agreement on Monday, September 29, formalizing the partnership for the project.

"Through Robinsons Land's Lingkod Pinoy Center, government services, such as TESDA's programs and projects have become more accessible to the general public," Villanueva said.

"Now, Filipinos can equate malling at Robinsons not just with shopping, having fun, and eating, but with learning about technical vocational education and training as well," he said.

The TESDA Specialista Desks aim to bring the agency's services to the public in one convenient location. It will serve as link between the agency and the people by providing information about the agency's available programs and services.

The desks will be manned by TESDA personnel who will provide services during office hours.

People who will visit the desks may get information on available scholarship programs, apprenticeship or learnership programs, available tech-voc courses, and assessment and certification among others. The personnel will also provide career guidance and counseling.

In May 2013, TESDA and RLC first signed a MOA creating the desks, which became operational in Robinsons' 15 malls across the country.

From July 2013 to August 31, 2014, the TESDA desks have catered to a total of 33, 436 people who have approached the desks or booth for information about the agency and its programs.

Participating malls are Robinsons Place Pangasinan; Robinsons Place Santiago, Isabela; Robinsons Starmills Pampanga; Robinsons Luisita Tarlac; Robinsons Place Cavite; Robinsons Sta. Rosa Market Laguna; Robinsons Cainta, Rizal; Robinsons Place Iloilo; Robinsons Place Roxas, Capiz; Robinsons Fuente Cebu; Robinsons Dumaguete, Negros Oriental; Robinsons Cagayan de Oro; Robinsons Place GenSan, Sarangani; and Robinsons Place Butuan, Agusan del Norte.

Additional TESDA desks will also be available in Robinsons malls that are opening soon -- Robinsons Malolos, Bulacan; Robinsons Place Palawan; Robinsons Ilocos Norte; and, Robinsons Tagum, Davao del Norte.