31 JANUARY 2015

Opening Statement of Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer at the GPH-MIL Press Conference in Kuala Lumpur
GPH, MILF peace panels sign protocol on decommissioning of MILF weapons and combatants
Cash prizes at stake in PhilHealth’s 2nd Simultaneous Run
Sandiganbayan convicts water execs for excessive salary
DSWD aids families of slain SAF commandos
1st Meeting of Philippines-Viet Nam Joint Commission on concluding a Strategic Partnership held in Manila
‘A regionally-integrated PH services sector contributes to inclusive growth’ – NEDA
PNP confers posthumous promotion to fallen police commandos
PNP opens account for SAF casualties in Maguindanao
GSIS opens emergency loan to more than 27,000 members in Misamis Oriental, Dinagat Islands
OFW families from Regions 4-B, 11 rroclaimed MOFYA 2014 Grand Winners
DOF-BLGF opens 197 positions to re-energize, reform local finance
Baldoz says only one OFW injured in Libya hotel attack; victim in stable condition
Materials Engineers' accreditation exam set on March 14
Roads to draw tourist adventure in Ilocos Region completed
2015 Palarong Pambansa to highlight peace
DOST's ADMATEL helps build a stronger semicon industry in Ph
APEC Senior Officials to Conduct Public-Private Dialogue on Services at First APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting in Clark
48 Filipinos from Libya arrive in Manila today
Filipinos bag top ASEAN Tourism Award

Opening Statement of Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer at the GPH-MIL Press Conference in Kuala Lumpur
Source: http://www.opapp.gov.ph
The road to peace is paved with good intentions but that road too is full of twists and turns.

On Jan 25, we all witnessed an ugly turn of events.

What was a legitimate law enforcement operation turned into a combat situation, with combatants from all sides killed and wounded. Forty-four gallant members of the SAF; almost 20 MILF members, an undetermined number of BIFF persons died in a fierce gun battle that lasted for hours, until the disengagement facilitated by the government and MILF ceasefire committees and the IMT allowed for the withdrawal of SAF troops and the retrieval of the dead and the wounded.

As in any war situation, civilians were also killed and for them we equally grieve. For them, these nameless, faceless villagers we also grieve.

In this unwanted, unexpected mini-war that erupted in Mamasapano, we praise our police officers and remember them for their sacrifices and the unflinching service they have rendered to the nation. We know that more than anything they wanted to be remembered in this way – as heroes. As heroes first and foremost.

This is not the first ugly turn we have endured in this difficult journey to peace in Mindanao, to peace in our country.

But we want it to be the last.

In this regard, we are exerting all efforts to continue on with the road to peace, peace with our brothers and sisters in Mindanao. To achieve peace through peaceful means with our brothers and sisters in the MILF as we have set out to do in our negotiations and now in the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

As part of our confidence-building measures, the GPH and MILF Panels have agreed to undertake the following steps:

1. Begin preparations with the help of the IDB and our other security mechanisms (JNC, JPSC, JPST, CCCH) for the turning in of the first set of MILF weapons. This ceremonial event will signal the start of the decommissioning process laid out in the Annex on Normalization as Phase 1.

Actually, last January 22 (three days before the fateful events in Mamasapano), MILF Chair Ebrahim Murad already personally handed over the list of 75 weapons (20 crewserved, 55 high-powered arms) , including their make and serial numbers to IDB Chair Turkish Ambassador Haydar Berk and the rest of the members of the IDB who visited him in Camp Darapanan.

The list of first 145 MILF members to be decommissioned, we understand will be handed over to the IDB this week. Government in turn will prepare the socio-economic package that will be given to the decommissioned combatants in order to facilitate their path to productive, civilian lives in their respective communities.

This turning-in ceremony will happen next month. Details will provided as we move along but do understand that serious care will have to be undertaken in ensuring the safety of all those concerned.

2. The GPH and MiLF panels have agreed to hold within this month a joint security assessment of the situation that will address criminality and terrorism, with the end in view of enhancing the security cooperation between the GPH and the MILF.

As you know we have standing protocols pertaining to the ceasefire and the conduct of law enforcement operations. These were well thought out protocols that had from the very beginning involved AFP and police generals. They were a product precisely of the complex context in which the war, and now the peace agreement, operates. They aim to prevent unwanted hostility between the ceasefire parties without – I repeat, without- impeding law enforcement operations.

These protocols have served as well in the past. They have helped save lives, prevented escalation of conflict, and also provided a stable environment for the peace negotiations, and now the difficult phase of implementation. Operationally, they are not perfect. Therefore there is room for improvement. And there is more to be done in order to quell the infiltration of terrorist cells and neutralize all sorts of lawless elements in these marshlands, hills, coasts and cities of Mindanao.

As such, we have agreed to hold this joint security assessment. It would be participated by high ranking security officials on the government side and on the side of the MILF, especially of the BIAF.

3. Investigations will continue. As far as our mechanisms are concerned, the IMT has already announced the conduct of its own official field verification mission. Today, the IMT is in fact in the encounter sites, accompanied by our ceasefire officers.

Both parties pledge full cooperation to this mission and the other investigations being undertaken by the Board of Inquiry and the Special Investigative Commission of the MILF.

There are many more pending items that we discussed in the last two days pertaining to administrative and policy matters for our different mechanisms and tracks. We believe we have managed to come up with concrete resolutions on these many items, soberly and responsibly as can only be expected of parties that have committed each other to a peace agreement.

The results will not be immediately become evident. We will remain under scrutiny. We will have to regain the people’s trust.

Let our actions then speak louder than our words in due time.

Before I end, let me thank the Government of Malaysia for hosting this meeting that as usual was ably facilitated by Tengku Ghafar. We thank also the Government of Turkey for the presence here today of Ambassador Berk, and the friends of the process, the ICG who have kept the faith and accompanied us in all these twists and turns.

Thank you.

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GPH, MILF peace panels sign protocol on decommissioning of MILF weapons and combatants
Source: http://www.opapp.gov.ph
KUALA LUMPUR – The government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace panels signed yesterday the 10-page implementing guidelines for the decommissioning of weapons and combatants of the MILF.

“Standing by their commitment to achieve the objectives of the normalization process, the Parties finalized and signed the Protocol on the Implementation of the Terms of Reference of the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB),” the Joint Statement issued by panel chairs Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Mohagher Iqbal in Kuala Lumpur reads.

The IDB is the recent addition to the set of mechanisms that will implement the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). It is tasked to supervise and monitor the decommissioning process.

According to the protocol, the IDB will conduct the inventory, verification and validation of the members, arms and weapons of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF); develop and implement the schedule of decommissioning of BIAF members; plan, design, and implement techniques and technologies for weapons collection or retrieval, transport, and storage and putting weapons beyond use in accordance with the agreements of the Parties.

The IDB is also tasked to ensure that the Parties comply with all the necessary steps and processes for decommissioning.

The Protocol was a product of three months deliberations between the parties and the IDB. It drew from international standards established in the course of implementing the decommissioning of combatants and weapons in different parts of the world such as in Nepal, Northern Ireland and Aceh, said GPH panel chair Coronel-Ferrer.

Gradual and phased process

According to the Protocol, four batches of MILF combatants and weapons will be processed and registered in six to twelve selected Assembly and Processing Areas (APAs). The collected weapons will be placed in secured containers in guarded storage areas until such time that these are put permanently beyond use.

The decommissioning will be done in four phases. Under Phase 1, a ceremonial turning in of 75 high-powered weapons will signal the actual start of the process. By the time of the ratification of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, 30 percent of MILF weapons and combatants would have been decommissioned. Another 35 percent will follow under Phase 3 and the balance, under Phase 4.

Security Cooperation

Responding to the public clamor for the MILF to prove its commitment and sincerity in abiding by the signed agreements, the two parties agreed to discuss measures that they would undertake in order to jointly quell criminality and terrorism in affected Mindanao communities.

“In accordance with the statements made by President Aquino and Chair Murad in relation to this tragic incident, the Parties reaffirmed their commitment to the attainment of peace that has long eluded Mindanao. In this vein, they resolved to strengthen their cooperation and coordination in addressing security concerns in the most effective and appropriate manner, and also in rebuilding trust and public confidence in the peace process,” the Joint Statement reads.

The parties again expressed “deep sympathy and grief for the loss of lives in the early morning of January 25, 2015 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao” and pledged support for the investigations being conducted by the Board of Inquiry and the MILF’s Special Investigative Commission.

These bodies were separately created to determine the actual events and specific accountabilities.

The Panels further ‎commended the members of its ceasefire mechanisms, particularly the International Monitoring Team (IMT) and the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) "for their determination that led to the reinstatement of the ceasefire in the affected areas." It must be noted that due to the efforts of the ceasefire mechanisms, the situation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao was stabilized and evacuation of the wounded and the sick began mid-afternoon of the same day and completed morning of Monday.

According to the Joint Statement, the courageous efforts of the ceasefire mechanisms "prevented further loss of life and put to safety those who might have been put in harm's way had the fighting escalated."

Return to civilian life

Financial assistance and sustainable socio-economic programs will be given to the decommissioned BIAF members and their communities based on a needs assessment survey of combatants.

To qualify for assistance, combatants must be registered, regardless of whether they possess firearms or not. Registered MILF combatants will be issued identity cards which they may use for securing socio-economic assistance.

“We are looking to a future where ploughshares, not weapons will be the order of the day in these communities long saddled by an unwanted war, but this requires a lot of time, patience and trust,” said government panel member Senen Bacani.

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Cash prizes at stake in PhilHealth’s 2nd Simultaneous Run
Source: http://www.philhealth.gov.ph
UP to P145,000.00 in cash prizes are up for grabs in the second nationwide, simultaneous run to be staged by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on Sunday, February 15, 2015.

The first male and first female to cross the finish line in the 20K category in the National Capital Region will each receive P15,000.00 while the second place winners will receive P10,000.00 each. Third place winners will receive P7,000.00 each.

In the 10K category, which stretches from the Quezon City Memorial Circle’s Commonwealth Avenue entrance up to Meralco Commonwealth and back, the first place finisher wins P10,000.00, the second placer wins P7,000.00 and the third place winner gets P5,000.00.

In the 5K category, which will bring runners up to Luzon Avenue and back, the top three will receive P8,000.00 P5,000.00 and P3,000.00, respectively, while top three finishers in the 3K leg will receive P5,000.00, P4,000.00 and P2,000.00.

Dubbed “PhilHealth Ready, TSeKaP, Go!”, the run is among the major activities that will unfold as PhilHealth marks its 20th Anniversary. It is primarily aimed at increasing public awareness on the health care benefits that PhilHealth provides its members, and how these may be availed of. It also intends to instil the importance of preventive care among PhilHealth members, especially among the Indigent and Sponsored members. Interested runners may choose from four (4) race categories : 20K, 10K, 5K and 3K. Prizes await the top three finishers in the different race distances.

The Run, which is being supported by People’s Television Network, Inc., Pfizer Philippines, Nine Media Corporation, Tupperware Philippines, Oishi, Smart Communications, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corporation and Air Juan, will be held in 13 sites nationwide, namely, in the cities of Quezon, Baguio, Dagupan, Tuguegarao, Naga, Lipa, Lucena, Iloilo, Cebu, Tacloban, Davao and Koronadal, as well as in Subic.

“I encourage everyone to participate in the PhilHealth 2nd Simultaneous Run on Feb. 15, 2015. What makes this Run very significant is the chance to help the less fortunate through an activity that helps us maintain our health and well-being,” said Alexander A. Padilla, PhilHealth President and CEO. Complete details may be found on run2015.philhealth.gov.ph.

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Sandiganbayan convicts water execs for excessive salary
Source: http://www.ombudsman.gov.ph
The Sandiganbayan convicted General Manager Ranulfo Feliciano and Board of Directors (BOD) member Cesar Aquitania, former executives of the Leyte Metropolitan Water District (LMWD), of Malversation and violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) for authorizing the increase in the salary of the General Manager without proper authority.

In a Decision promulgated on 27 January 2015, the Sandiganbayan found that the former Board of Directors of LMWD issued Resolution No. 98-33 approving the salary increase of Feliciano from P18,749.00/month to P57,146.00/month without authority and in total disregard of the prescribed compensation based on the Plantilla of Personnel authorized by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). The anti-graft court also found that Feliciano approved and received the salary increase in the total amount of P506,246.26.

The Decision stated that “the compensation rates of the officers and personnel of the LMWD must conform with the salary schedule being implemented by the DBM pursuant to the provision of Republic Act No. 6758, or the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989.”

For violating the anti-graft law, the court sentenced Feliciano and Aquitania to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of six years and one month as minimum, to 10 years as maximum. For committing Malversation, Feliciano was sentenced to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of 10 years and one day of prision mayor as minimum to 18 years, eight months and one day of reclusion temporal as maximum, and was ordered to pay a fine of P506,246.26. Feliciano was also ordered to indemnify LMWD the amount of P506,246.26. Feliciano and Aquitania were also meted out the penalty of perpetual disqualification from public office.

Co-accused former BOD members Honorio Gerez, Concepcion Medalla, Virginia Flores, Franklin Sicoy and Accounting Section Head Virginia Jo Abayata died during the pendency of the case.

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DSWD aids families of slain SAF commandos
Source: http://www.dswd.gov.ph
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will be helping the families of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos recently killed in an encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said the Department received a list of the slain policemen.

“I was instructed by President [Benigno] Aquino to provide assistance to the bereaved families… We shall extend government’s help to them since they lost their breadwinner. We also extend our sympathies and condolences to our fallen SAF policemen,” Sec. Soliman explained.

The DSWD will provide psychosocial counseling to the policemen’s families, as well as educational and livelihood support.

Other forms of aid will be given to the families, which will be determined by the results of the counseling sessions.

At the same time, Sec. Soliman said that a bank account has been opened to receive donations for the families.

Interested donors may deposit to Landbank of the Philippines (Batasan Branch) Peso Current Account No. 3122-1026-28 under DSWD Donation Account for Armed Conflict in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
Aid for displaced families

Since Monday, the DSWD has distributed more than 600 food packs to the displaced residents in Mamasapano who have fled their communities because of the incident.

The Department has also provided P25,000 in assistance each to the families of four civilians killed in the encounter.

On the other hand, P10,000 was given to each of the four wounded civilians. One is still recuperating in the hospital, while the three others have already been discharged.

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1st Meeting of Philippines-Viet Nam Joint Commission on concluding a Strategic Partnership held in Manila
Source: http://www.dfa.gov.ph
30 January 2015 - At the invitation of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario, Viet Nam’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh visited the Philippines on 29-30 January 2015. During the visit, the two Ministers co-chaired the meeting of the Philippines-Viet Nam Joint Commission on concluding a Strategic Partnership.

During his stay in Manila, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh also paid a courtesy call on Vice President Jejomar Binay.

On the Proposed Strategic Partnership

On the basis of amity, equality, mutual respect and cooperation, the two sides stressed that bilateral relations between the Philippines and Viet Nam are growing in various aspects, including in political, trade and investment, fisheries, marine and oceanic affairs, as well as defense and security cooperation, among others.

As a follow up to the agreement between the leaders of the two countries, both sides began discussions towards the establishment of a Strategic Partnership and its elements with a view to elevating the level and intensity of bilateral exchanges between the two countries.

On Regional Issues

The two sides exchanged views on regional and international issues of common concern. On the South China Sea (SCS), the two Ministers expressed their serious concern over the ongoing massive reclamation activities that pose threats to the peace and stability in the region as well as to the lives of many people across the various coastal states in the SCS.

The two Ministers agreed that concerned Parties should adhere to the ASEAN-China Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and soon conclude a Code of Conduct (COC) in view of the urgency of the issue and exercise restraint from undertaking any action that may escalate tension in the SCS. The two Ministers reaffirmed their commitments to a peaceful resolution of disputes in the SCS in accordance with international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

They reiterated their commitment to continue bilateral and multilateral cooperation towards the forging of an ASEAN Community and upholding the centrality and unity of ASEAN in the evolving regional architecture.

The two Ministers also reaffirmed the invaluable friendship between the Philippines and Viet Nam and the importance of their partnership in ASEAN.

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‘A regionally-integrated PH services sector contributes to inclusive growth’ – NEDA
Source: http://www.neda.gov.ph
MANILA— The Philippines’ current leadership in the APEC Group on Services can provide a necessary boost to the dynamism of our services sector and the attainment of inclusive growth, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“Services is the largest economic sector and is a major employer in most APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) economies, including the Philippines. For full-year 2014, it accounted for 56.7 percent of our country’s GDP and 53.6 percent to total employment,” said Deputy Director-General Emmanuel F. Esguerra, who serves as the convenor of the APEC Group on Services (GOS).

“This is a manifestation of how big our services sector is. Yet, there are still underlying potentials that must be tapped and developed. The APEC fora provide good venues to pursue these,” he added.

For the First Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM1) of the GOS, the Philippines, along with other APEC member economies, aims to enhance current initiatives by building on last year’s developments and focusing on the integration of Small and Medium Enterprises into services global value chains (GVCs).

Many services are being undertaken in the production and sale of a product, whether it is a good or a service. Other sectors such as manufacturing have a number of services embedded in their processes. These include design, quality control, inventory systems, transport, logistics, wholesale/retail, marketing/advertising, repair/maintenance, installation/construction, finance after-sales services.

Firms in the services sector itself also outsource or move their non-core services functions offshore to their affiliates, as they seek to move up the value chain. The services then become value added to the final product.

“This ‘tasking’ in the production process of firms or in the GVCs are where opportunities for SMEs in the services industry reside,” said Esguerra.

For the APEC region, total services exports account for 20.27 percent. However, when viewed through a value-added lens, services share to total exports increases to 39.08 percent.

“Looking at services this way shows us that it has an important role not only in big industries engaged in production but also in our small and medium enterprises (SMEs). In fact, among APEC economies, the Philippines has the highest GVC participation in electrical and optical equipment,” said Esguerra.

“These are only among the reasons why the government is keen on enhancing regional cooperation and engaging in partnerships in services. In our pursuit of inclusive growth, services open numerous opportunities for employment generation and poverty reduction – goals that we have set in the Updated Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016,” he added.

For full-year 2014, services grew by 6.0 percent and generated 599,000 jobs, the highest among the country’s major sectors.

The NEDA is also host to four other related meetings of the APEC SOM1 from January 31 to February 7, 2015 in Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga.

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PNP confers posthumous promotion to fallen police commandos
Source: http://www.pnp.gov.ph
The Philippine National Police will bestow posthumous promotion to 44 PNP Special Action Force personnel who were Killed in Police Operation (KIPO) in Maguindanao in recognition of their “supreme sacrifice” in line of duty.

PNP Officer-in-Charge, Police Deputy Director General Leonardo A Espina has approved, for endorsement to Napolcom, the recommendation of the PNP Special Promotion Awards and Decorations Board (SPADB) to confer meritorious promotion (posthumous) to the fallen police commandos killed in a police operation against high–value terrorist targets last Sunday.

With this promotion, all financial benefits and pension due to the surviving kin will be computed based on the salary scale of the new rank, Espina said.

At the same time, Espina also announced the availability of PNP educational benefits to qualified dependents of the 44 deceased PNP-SAF personnel. This PNP scholarship program is bankrolled by revenue from gun licenses and permits collected by the PNP.

During the necrological services on Friday, President Benigno S Aquino III assured widows and orphans of the fallen police heroes of government assistance to alleviate the effect on their lives of the tragic loss.

“”Makakaasa rin po kayo: Pipilitin nating bawasan ang agam-agam sa inyong kinabukasan. Tutugunna po natin ang inyong mga pngangailangan nang sumusunod sa lahat ng batas at patakaran. Gagawin po nating lahat, sa abot ng ating makakaya, upang tulungan ang bawat pamilya ng ating mga bayaning kapulisan.” President Aquino said.

Surviving kin of slain policemen in Maguindanao encounter are entitled to receive death benefits ranging from P1.5-million to P2-million.

Death benefits for policemen killed in line of duty include P250,000.00 from the President’s Social Fund; between P141,000.00 up to P181,000.00 as Special Financial Assistance (SFA) from the PNP; burial benefits worth P50,000.00; and P200,000.00 gratuity from the National Police Commission.

PNP members of the Public Safety Mutual Benefit Fund are also entitled to death insurance ranging from P225,000.00 to P417,000.00 depending on rank.

These death benefits are on top of the monthly lifetime pension from the PNP ranging from P15,000.00 to P25,000.00 depending on rank; and roughly the same amount of pension for five years from the Napolcom. (PNP-PIO)

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PNP opens account for SAF casualties in Maguindanao
Source: http://www.pnp.gov.ph
In support to the families of the Special Action Force casualties in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Sunday (Jan 25), the Philippine National Police opened an account with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) for cash donations intended for the said PNP SAF casualties.

Donations for the families of the late policemen maybe deposited to the account "PNP Special Assistance Fund Account 1862-1027-77".

Donors may contact thru text Police Chief Inspector Renante F Pinuela of the PNP Directorate for Comptrollership (DC) at mobile number 09178576020 for the details of the donation.

The donations will be in line to the benefits that will be given to the surviving kin of SAF casualties. (PNP-PIO)

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GSIS opens emergency loan to more than 27,000 members in Misamis Oriental, Dinagat Islands
Source: http://www.gsis.gov.ph
The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) is now granting emergency loan to active members hit by typhoon Ruby and Seniang in Misamis Oriental and Dinagat Islands in Mindanao.

More than 27,000 members working or residing in the two provinces may apply for the loan. Those who will avail of the loan program for the first time may borrow P20,000.00. Members with existing emergency loan may apply for a renewal, with a loan ceiling of P40,000.00. Payment of 12 monthly amortizations on the existing emergency loan is no longer a requirement for loan renewal.

Qualified to apply are members who are not on leave of absence, have no arrears in paying their mandatory monthly premium contributions, and have no loans in default.

Carrying a 6 percent interest rate per annum, the loan is payable in 36 monthly instalments. It is covered by a loan redemption insurance, which means that in case of a member’s demise, the loan will be deemed fully paid.

Interested members may apply through the GSIS Wireless Automated System (GWAPS) kiosks located in GSIS branch offices, provincial capitols, city halls, selected municipal offices, and large government agencies such as the Department of Education, and selected Robinsons Malls.

Loan proceeds are electronically credited to members’ GSIS eCard or unified multipurpose identification (UMID) card.

The deadline for application is February 26, 2015.

For more details on the emergency loan, members may call the GSIS Contact Center at 847-4747.

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OFW families from Regions 4-B, 11 rroclaimed MOFYA 2014 Grand Winners
Source: http://www.owwa.gov.ph
The families of Bartolome C. Cadavero of Puerto Princesa, Palawan and Fe S. Lao of Bansalan, Davao del Sur emerged as national winners of the 10th MOFYA (Model OFW Family of the Year Award ) in the sea-based and land-based categories after a year-long search conducted in 2014. The honor rite was held January 26 in Blue Leaf Filipinas, Parañaque City.

After 33 years of overseas employment, sea-based winner Captain Cadavero acquired farm lands, real estate properties, and a plantation of exotic, high value trees like rubber and gmelina while land-based winner Fe S. Lao’s toils abroad was put into good use by her husband whose expertise in agriculture resulted in a multi-million integrated, organic farm enterprise with supplemental by-products.

As grand prize winners, Cadavero and Lao received trophies, cash prize of P500,000 and appliances.

Meanwhile, special awards, Best in Community Projects and Best in Entrepreneurship were bestowed on the families of Engr. Isidro M. Cabantac of Region 1 and Capt. Juan M. Cope of Region V. The Cabantacs received numerous awards from various organizations in public and private sectors for their agricultural projects benefiting the community while the Copeses translated their advocacies in advancing health and wellness and education into a school and a hospital.

Special awards winners were given plaques of recognition and P100,000 each.

MOFYA is an annual, nationwide search of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to honor and recognize outstanding families of Filipino migrant workers who have shown exemplary example of family solidarity, financial stewardship, civic/community involvement, and entrepreneurship.

Major sponsors for the 10th MOFYA are Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and Banco de Oro (BDO). Insular Life and Duty Free Philippines provided additional logistical support.

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DOF-BLGF opens 197 positions to re-energize, reform local finance
Source: http://www.dof.gov.ph
Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima has instructed the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) to fast-track the filling up of the bureau’s 197 vacant positions as part of the DOF’s revenue agency reform and modernization program.

“We are re-energizing the BLGF by hiring more young and competent individuals committed to public service so we can improve the quality of our supervision of the revenue operations of all local government units (LGUs). As a percentage of GDP, LGU revenues have fallen from 0.9% in 2009 to 0.8% in 2012. The BLGF has much to do to help LGUs improve their fiscal performance,” Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima noted.

The filling up of positions had been authorized by the Department of Budget and Management in December 2014 to implement the BLGF’s approved Rationalization Plan and Notice of Organization, Staffing, and Compensation Action.

The BLGF, with 15 regional offices, is the technical and administrative arm of the DOF in supervising local treasury and assessment operations of the 81 provinces, 144 cities, and 1,490 municipalities.

“The Secretary has set his agenda for us, so we want to recruit the best possible personnel to be part of the BLGF,” OIC Executive Director Salvador M. Del Castilllo emphasized.

The BLGF is now receiving applications for the 153 vacant first and second level positions.

Among the key positions that will be filled in the BLGF Central Office are five Division Chiefs (Salary Grade [SG] 24-25), and six SG 22 positions, namely, Financial Analyst IV, Local Assessment Operations Officer IV, Local Treasury Operations Officer IV, Supervising Administrative Officer, Supervising Administrative Officer, and Supervising Tax Specialist. These SG 22 positions are also available in 22 vacancies in various regional offices.

In addition, there are 40 vacant SG 18 positions (10 Central, 30 Regional), 35 vacant SG 15 positions (10 Central, 24 Regional), 5 vacant SG 14 positions (all Regional), 25 vacant SG 11 positions (4 Central, 21 Regional), and 16 vacant positions under SG 8-10.

Applicants must submit personally or by mail the following documents to the BLGF, with office address located at 8F EDPC Building, BSP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Manila:

§ Application letter addressed to Atty. Salvador M. Del Castillo, OIC Executive Director;

§ Personal Data Sheet (PDS) per CSC Form 212 (Revised 2005);

§ NSO Birth Certificate;

§ Certificate of Eligibility issued by the Civil Service Commission, Professional Regulation Commission, or Supreme Court, as appropriate;

§ Transcript of Records and Diploma;

§ Relevant certificates of trainings and seminars attended, if any; and

§ Performance Rating Report for the last two (2) rating periods for those who are already working in government offices.

The deadline for the submission of application for first and second level positions is on February 16, 2015.

For third level positions, three director positions are vacant in the BLGF Central Office, while the Regional Director position is vacant in 13 BLGF regional offices. Applicants for director positions must submit their application letter directly to the Secretary of Finance, with office address located at 6F DOF Building, BSP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Manila.

The complete list of job vacancies is available at www.blgf.gov.ph/downloads/listofvacantpositions.pdf and www.blgf.gov.ph/downloads/vacant3rdlvl.pdf 

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Baldoz says only one OFW injured in Libya hotel attack; victim in stable condition
Source: http://www.dole.gov.ph
Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday said the overseas Filipino worker, a female, who sustained five gunshot wounds when terrorists stormed a luxury hotel in Tripoli, Libya, is the only Filipino injured in the attack, but she is now safe and recuperating at a Tripoli hospital.

“She is recuperating. Once she is repatriated, she and her family will receive proper assistance from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration even if she is not an active member,” said Baldoz, after she received a report on the condition of the OFW from Labor Attache Nasser Munder.

The female OFW, was deployed as employee to Kentz Engineers and Constructors. She sustained five gunshot wounds during the attack—two in the chest, one in the arm, one in the knee, and one in the leg—but has been declared out of danger.

“She is now in stable condition at the Metiga Hospital. Her husband, a brother, and a sister are with her and watching over her,” Baldoz said.

The labor and employment chief added that because the hospital do not the ample equipment, the existing government in Tripoli had offered to airlift the OFW to Malta or Turkey where she can get better treatment while awaiting repatriation to the Philippines.
The OWWA, through Acting Administrator Josefino Torres, said it will provide OFW, with repatriation assistance, which includes such services as airport assistance, temporary shelter at the Halfway Home, psycho-social counseling, stress debriefing, and provision of transport services or fares for her onward travel to her home province, if she is from one.

When she comes home and decides not to go abroad anymore, she can avail of training on value formation, financial literacy, entrepreneurial development training (EDT), techno-skills and capacity building before she decides whether to work again locally or engage in some entrepreneurial activities.

Baldoz said the POEA will also assist in facilitating the payment of her salaries and benefits from her employer.

Initial reports said two OFWs died in the attack, but Secretary Baldoz said the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office said the two were not Filipinos.

“Our local hire in Tripoli had accompanied Charge d’ Affaires Adel Cruz to the Central Hospital Mortuary in Libya where the two alleged Filipino workers were brought, but they were advised to go to the Tripoli Central Police Station where the case was first reported. There, the chief of police confirmed that the court had already seen the documents of the dead bodies and that they were not Filipinos, but Kazakhs who only looked like Korean or Filipinos,” Baldoz said.

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Materials Engineers' accreditation exam set on March 14
Source: http://www.dpwh.gov.ph
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will conduct accreditation examination of Contractors' and Consultants' Materials Engineers on March 14, 2015.

DPWH Secretary Rogelio L. Singson said that accreditation examination is to strengthen Quality Assurance Program of the Department and to ensure that only qualified and accredited Materials Engineers can be assigned by Contractors and Consultants to DPWH projects.

All registered and licensed civil engineers, including foreigners, may apply for accreditation.

Applicants have to file their applications in any DPWH Regional Offices for initial processing. The evaluated applications received, stamped and sealed by authorized DPWH Quality Assurance and Hydrology Division personnel in any Region have to be submitted to Bureau of Research and Standards (BRS) Director Judy F. Sese not later than February 13, 2015 or one (1) month before the scheduled examination.

In 2014, 1,897 engineers took the two (2) batches of accreditation examination conducted on March and September. Only 191 were accredited as Materials Engineer I while nine (9) were accredited as Materials Engineer II.

An accredited Materials Engineers I may be assigned to one (1) DPWH projects not more than P100 Million or three (3) projects located within the same province with an aggregate cost of not more than P20 Million. Materials Engineers II can handle one (1) project with no cost limit or two (2) projects located within the same province with an aggregate cost of not more than P100 Million.

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Roads to draw tourist adventure in Ilocos Region completed
Source: http://www.dpwh.gov.ph
The completion of four (4) roads to declared tourism destinations topped the lists of projects accomplished in CY 2014 by the Department of Public Works and Highways in Ilocos Region.

In his report to DPWH Secretary Rogelio L. Singson, DPWH Region 1 Director Melanio C. Briosos said that road construction/improvement project leading to three (3) tourism sites in Pangasinan and one (1) in Ilocos Norte were completed.

Tourism road completed in the Province of Pangasinan are the Bangrin Mangrove Road in Bani, Bobonot-Tambobong Road in Dasol, and Poblacion-Patar Road in Bolinao.

Other than leading to Bangrin Marine Protected Area, the Bangrin Mangrove Road also serves as farm-to-market road for the farmers and fisher folks living in Barangays San Jose, Luac and Aporao while Bobonot-Tambobong Road and Poblacion-Patar Road facilitate access to attractive beaches.

Different waterfalls and trails waiting to be explored by outdoor enthusiast are now accessible via the completed Pancian-Pagudpud-Adams Road to give boost to the ecotourism potential of Adams, Ilocos Norte.

DPWH and Department of Tourism partnership under the Tourism Road Infrastructure Program complements the aggressive government program of drawing local and foreign tourists’ adventure to scenic places of the Philippines.

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2015 Palarong Pambansa to highlight peace
Source: http://www.deped.gov.ph
PASIG CITY -- The Department of Education (DepEd) signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Provincial Government of Davao del Norte, the host for the upcoming Palarong Pambansa 2015 in Tagum City.

With the theme, “Breaking borders, Building Peace,” DepEd and the partner LGU aim to highlight the importance of sports and solidarity in pursuing and inculcating peace among young Filipinos. Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro FSC said that, “Davao del Norte is known not only for promoting peace and development within their region but of the whole of Mindanao. That is why when people ask, ‘Is it safe to do the games in Mindanao,” we answer, ‘Why not?’”

Luistro extended his gratitude and congratulations to the host region and said, “We are pleased that the winner of the bidding, as host for the coming games, had come from Mindanao. We thank the Provincial Government of Davao del Norte for taking charge of Palaro 2015.”

The Palarong Pambansa houses thousands of student athletes participating in various sporting events. Host region Davao del Norte will be providing the facilities for the events, the billeting quarters for the sports officials and technical staff, and the transportation of all participants, among other things.

Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo del Rosario highlighted the importance of this competition, not only for the region but for the whole nation. He said, “With this great privilege, comes a big responsibility of advancing both physical and social significance of the national games – particularly in promoting the ideals of harmony, solidarity, and tolerance.” He also mentioned that for the coming national games they will “show the world that sports may be a tool to achieve peace.”

DepEd Assistant Secretary and Palarong Pambansa Secretary General Tonisito MC Umali, Esq. highlighted the importance of the national games and said, “Napakahalaga nitong Palarong Pambansa 2015 dahil una itong pagkakataon na isasagawa ang Palaro sa ilalim ng bagong batas na na nagngangalang Palarong Pambansa Law.”

Luistro then challenged the congregation and said that “This event is a perfect avenue to promote peace. There is no other perfect way to do that but through sports, where most of our student athletes will live out and dialogue with other players, not necessarily through words but through deeds, gestures, and actions which show that peace is possible, that peace is here and now.”

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DOST's ADMATEL helps build a stronger semicon industry in Ph
Source: http://www.dost.gov.ph
Clients for the country’s first state-of-the-art electronics and semiconductor test lab, the Advanced Materials Testing Laboratory (ADMATEL) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), are expected to double this year as the global electronics and semiconductor (S&E) industry sees a stronger outlook.

This was learned during DOST’s media briefing “Agham na Ramdam” at the ADMATEL facility in DOST Complex, Bicutan, Taguig City.

“It has been two years since President Aquino came here to inaugurate this facility which is DOST’s contribution to invigorate our local manufacturing industries,” says DOST Assistant Secretary Raymund E. Liboro. “And the public should know the strides that ADMATEL had since then.”

ADMATEL’s services, since the lab opened its doors in 2013, have steadily picked up the pace as clients from the local S&E industry send sample hardware for testing and analysis in the facility.

The laboratory offers local testing and analytical services on electronic chipsets, virtually slashing rates by 40 percent. Also, ADMATEL has a shorter turn-around time of 24 hours on test results compared with a 5- to 6-day turn-around time when done outside the country. This means chips productions resume with less delays.

Reports say that local companies are spending $9-18M annually in tests and analysis which are the identified gaps in a study by the Nomura Research Institute.

According to ADMATEL General Manager Virgilio Aguinaldo, in 2013 alone, the electronics testing lab has received more than 40 electronics components for failure analysis and materials characterization from various S&E companies.

Aguinaldo added that the number of client companies has doubled since then. He said that he is expecting to serve 170 clients this year.

Surprisingly, Aguinaldo reveals that 38 percent of ADMATEL’s clients came from outside its target industry. Companies from the allied industries such as construction and energy, medical, and automotive industries have been sending samples for analyses.

“We had a client from the auto industry who had us test a specific model because of the model’s lack of power when driven off-road. And the result showed us that the unit’s oil filter had foreign objects that block the air flow,” explains Aguinaldo.

ADMATEL is looking forward have a round-the-clock operations once the demand for testing and analysis will rise in the next few months.

ADMATEL does five types of testing in the facility. It conducts failure analysis to determine the cause of the product inefficiencies. It also undertakes process development testing to help manufacturers optimize their procedures. Also, ADMATEL aids in product development, quality inspections, and research and development.

Aguinaldo says that the laboratory is open for R&D collaboration with the academe. “That is what we really are encouraging our students to do. Actually, we have students coming here to have their hardware tested for their thesis. Some are joining robotics events,” explains Aguinaldo.

For students, Aguinaldo says that ADMATEL is offering a socialized fee while clients from the micro, small, and medium enterprises are billed at a 20-percent reduced rate.
The lab has already applied for ISO 17025 accreditation for its three laboratories.

ADMATEL is one of DOST’s initiatives in strengthening the manufacturing industry. With the S&E as one of the country’s leading and important industries, and giving support to the manufacturing industry, it generated $21 billion in 2013.

DOST is now pushing the industry to hit $50 billion by the year 2016 and become a major player in the global electronics supply chain.

“Agham na Ramdam”, organized by the DOST-Science and Technology Information Institute, is a series of media briefings highlighting DOST program milestones and updates.

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APEC Senior Officials to Conduct Public-Private Dialogue on Services at First APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting in Clark
Source: http://www.dfa.gov.ph
30 January 2015 – Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Senior Officials, in partnership with the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) of the Philippines and the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC), will have a Public-Private Dialogue on Services on February 03 at the Clark Freeport Zone as one of the related meetings of the ongoing First Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM1).

The event is the first in a series of dialogues on services in 2015 envisioned to guide APEC’s public and private stakeholders in examining developments, challenges, and opportunities for the services sectors; identifying new strategies for building the full potential of the services sectors; generating policy options towards removing barriers to services trade; developing an innovative approach in pursuing the services agenda of APEC; and fostering collaboration and best practice exchanges to promote services in trade.

Twenty two (22) speakers, including representatives from the academe and private sector from across the Asia-Pacific region as well as from international organizations such as the International Trade Centre and the Asian Development Bank, have been invited to share their expertise on Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM), Creative Industries, and Research and Development Services.

Government representatives from the APEC member economies, together with their private sector counterparts,will evaluate the current work on services being done in various APEC fora, and discuss how APEC could promote services in the region.

A second Public Private Dialogue is set at the margins of the Second Officials’ Meetings this May in Boracay, which will focus on services relevant to trade in goods. The first Regional Conference of Services Coalitions and Service Industries will be held at the margins of the Third Senior Officials’ Meeting later in the year in Cebu.

The First APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting and Related Meetings (SOM1) runs from January 26 to February 07 at the Clark and Subic Freeport Zones.

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48 Filipinos from Libya arrive in Manila today
Source: http://www.dfa.gov.ph
30 January 2015 – Forty eight (48) overseas Filipinos from Libya are scheduled to arrived in Manila today at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The first batch composed of 24 Filipinos will arrive at 3:10 p.m. today via flight QR926, Terminal 1. The second batch composed of another of 24 Filipinos will arrive at 4:00 p.m. on board flight EK332, Terminal 3.

These arrivals bring the total number of Filipino repatriates from Libya to 4,107. DFA and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) representatives will be at the airport to brief and assist them.

The DFA appeals to our remaining Filipino nationals in Libya to immediately get in touch with the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli and register for repatriation. Filipinos can reach our Embassy through this number +218916656134 and through the e-mail addresses tripoli.pe@gmail.com and tripoli.pe@dfa.gov.ph. The next-of-kin may also contact the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) through the phone number (02)834-4996 or send their queries by e-mail to oumwa@dfa.gov.ph.

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Filipinos bag top ASEAN Tourism Award
Source: http://www.dfa.gov.ph
30 January 2015 - The ASEAN Tourism Association (ASEANTA) presented the best ASEAN conservation effort award to Mr. Edgar Cases, managing director of Project Sharklink, a non-profit organization, and the best ASEAN cultural preservation effort award to Ms. Regina “Gina” Lopez, managing director of ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc., at the opening ceremony of the recently concluded ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) held in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar from January 22 to 29.

ASEANTA’s best conservation effort award recognizes Mr. Cases’ efforts, through the Project Sharklink, to protect Malapascua Island’s thresher shark.

Besides Mr. Cases, Ms. Gina Lopez also received the best ASEAN cultural preservation effort award which recognizes her active involvement, through the Green Initiative of the ABS-CBN Foundation’s Bantay Kalikasan, in the development of the village museum in Lamlifew, Datal Tampal in Malungon, Saranggani as a sustainable eco-tourism destination.

The Green Initiative, a collaborative effort between the ABS-CBN Foundation, Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and Ateneo de Manila University aims to preserve biodiversity and eradicate poverty in 11 selected sites throughout the country.

In Lamlifew, Saranggani, the Green Initiative assists the local government in developing the village into a sustainable eco-tourism destination that preserves the culture and traditions of the B’laan tribe and provides sustainable livelihood to the community.

The ASEANTA Awards for Excellence recognizes individuals and organizations with positive contribution to the development of tourism in ASEAN.

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