Thursday, March 31, 2011

There is enough rice by 2013-PhilRice

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, April 1, 2011-A former executive director of Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) said that the country could hit its goal of producing enough rice with the innovations and initiatives on research, development, and extension (RD&E), which contribute 40 percent to rice self-sufficiency.

Ronilo A. Beronio said at the PhilRice Central Experiment Station that technology components and other social aspects are well-covered by the RD&E concerned and he is optimistic that the accomplishments in rice R&D during the past 25 years are now fruitful.

Beronio challenged the RD&E sector highlighting varieties, machines, and farming practices such as Palayamanan and PalayCheck that were developed, tested, and improved to suit farmers’ needs, the three-day event also produced outstanding studies in best paper and poster presentations.

Under the theme Strategies to mitigate impacts of and adapt to climate change, and other emerging problems besetting the rice industry PhilRice, Engineer Arnold S. Juliano’s paper, Development of a mobile ricehull gasifier engine-pump system, won the best paper award. 

To help farmers reduce production cost and minimize the environmental hazards of rice hull, the local gasifier system, which is compact, mobile, and affordable, was developed, where under the theme Socio-economics, impact assessment, policy, and market, Enhancing rice productivity and self-sufficiency in Romblon (Phase 1) of Leonardo A. Gonzales from STRIVE foundation, was adjudged best paper.

After project implementation, the farmer beneficiaries across the Location Specific Technology Development (LSTD) project sites in four municipalities illustrated marked improvements in terms of yield, efficiency in farm and wholesale level costs, net farm and wholesale incomes, food subsistence and poverty level carrying capacities, rice self-sufficiency, and global competitiveness.

A study using cellphone-based survey forms for PhilRice field data collection presented by Arturo C. Arocena Jr. from PhilRice, won the best paper award under the theme Technology promotion and delivery for narrowing the yield gap.

Arocena said that cellular phone-based survey forms can deliver structured datasets that can either replace or integrate with the existing paper-based process. 

DA-PhilRice is a government owned and controlled corporation that aims at developing high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos. (Jason de Asis)

Agricultural sector to build capacity to address food crisis

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, April 1, 2011-Senator Edgardo J. Angara, who is a former Agriculture secretary urged the government to build the agricultural sector the capacity to address the increasing needs of the country saying with all of these catastrophes and global problems, food prices in the Philippines will go up very soon.

Angara explained the interconnected factors contributing to the increase of food prices worldwide saying that normally steady agriculture sector in Russia, China, India and Australia have been negatively affected by flood, drought and fire as a result of climate change. 

“Last year the harvests in Europe, North and South America and in Asia saw record lows,” he said, adding that the conflict in the Middle East is boosting the price of gasoline, adding to the cost of food transportation.

Angara furthered that in the past few months, the price of vegetables and grains here in the country significantly rise up.

“The key to soften the local impact of the impending global food crisis is through innovations in the agriculture industry,” Angara pointed out, saying that it is important how we shape the industry to better suit our changing needs where knowledge and skills in agriculture are always needed.

Angara reiterated his call for the immediate actions from all the institution involve to reduce the full effect of global food crisis, saying that a better preparation and action should be conducted as early as possible to lessen the impact of it in the country. (Jason de Asis)

Revilla tasked PLDT's acquisition of Digitel

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, April 1, 2011-Senator Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., chair of the senate committee on public service tasked the national telecommunications commission (NTC) to submit a report in the next two weeks on PLDT’s acquisition of third-ranked telecommunication digitel and prepare a study on the possible effects of PLDT's acquisition of Digitel on the local Telecommunications Market.

Revilla said that the NTC, which is the country's Telecoms regulator, is in the best position to assess the impact of this transaction on consumers and the public in general.

“While, a change of ownership of corporations is usually ordinary business, this is not the case here as Telecommunications is imbued with public interest, and we must ensure that public interest is upheld in this transaction,” he said.

Revilla added that another consideration must be given to the fact that if the acquisition pushes through, PLDT will undoubtedly be owning a great chunk of the Mobile Phone industry, being the owner of Piltel, Smart, Cure, and eventually Digitel, saying that in 1992 the PLDT held a monopoly on the country’s telecommunication where President Fidel Valdez Ramos deregulated the company.

To give the agency broader powers in overseeing the Telecoms Industry, the Senator said that the committee is now conducting Technical Working Group meetings on the reorganization of the NTC, saying that there are already proposals to empower the NTC to monitor pricing and competition, and another proposal to consider is to give NTC the mandate to overseer the acquisition of Telecom companies by other Telecom companies. (Jason de Asis)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Angara bats for Phl 2nd millennium development goal of universal education

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, March 31, 2011-In a recent interview with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Senator Edgardo J. Angara, chair of the Senate committee on Education, Arts and Culture said that the only way to get closer to the second Millennium Development Goal of universal education is through increased of state funding after researchers from the USAID consulted Angara in accordance with the bilateral assistance agreement between the two countries about the state of education in the Philippines which will be used to guide the next USAID-Philippines education strategy.

“Insufficient state subsidy as one of the main reasons behind the slow progress of the Philippine’s education sector,” Angara said, adding that underinvestment in education will prevent Filipinos from being globally competitive although the numbers reflect a steady increase in the government’s allocation to the DepEd, per-student spending is actually of less real-world value now than in previous decades.

The Senator said that this lack of a workable budget undermines the ability of a university to fulfill its functions as a research and development facility.

He added that state universities and colleges (SUCs) are primarily research-oriented where the Senator said that in order to have effective applications in daily lives a field of study requires steady funding.

“The best-case scenario has the majority of students enrolled in good public schools,” he said, explaining that the goal is to have 70% of students attending quality, state-funded schools.

He furthered that SUC system is quite good and there are public schools nationwide but still there is a need to be regulated to ensure the quality of education.

Angara concluded that educational development and national progress should be correlated revealing that these are the weaknesses of the current educational system; thus, the need for the advancement of the Philippines education. (Jason de Asis)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

NOLCOM AFP and PNP on alert on NPA 42nd founding Anniversary

CAMP AQUINO, Tarlac, March 30, 2011-The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) raised alarm on the possible atrocities by the New People’s Army (NPA) as the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) armed wing approached its 42ND  founding anniversary.

Northern Luzon Command Spokesman Ltc Rosendo Armas, Police Chief Supt. Alan la Madrid Purisima, PRO 3 chief and
Cagayan Provincial Director S/Supt. Mao Ranada Aplasca reminded their field units in their respective area of responsibilities to be alert and take extra precaution for the possible atrocities that the CPP-NPA may carry out ahead of the NPA’s founding anniversary Yesterday (March 29) adding that all field unit commanders are directed to strengthen and to implement utmost security measures to preempt harassments of the AFP and PNP personnel, ambuscades, raids, sabotage of cell sites and various vital installations.

They furthered that series of field command conferences held in the different provinces within their AOR are being conducted in order to beef up security measures during said NPA anniversary.

Central Luzon PNP Purisima said that a random field inspections by the Regional Headquarters particularly on “soft targets" such as isolated and less fortified police and military outposts, government installations and infrastructure, and vital facilities are carried out.

Purisima added that the PNP is now in an aggressive stance to address criminality in region 3 by way of implementing the Police Integrated Patrol System (PIPS), which is a tool adopted by the PNP in the conduct of Anti-Criminality and Police Operations to reduce street crimes, to neutralize motorcycle riding criminals, to arrest wanted persons and to address other crimes committed with the use of firearms.

Cagayan S/Supt. Aplasca said that the police and the army have strengthened their security measures in their respective areas of concern versus the CPP-NPA due to the recent firefights between the army and rebels at Sinundungan, Rixal, Cagayan last Sunday that resulted to casualty of four (4) soldiers and undetermined wounded on the part of the NPA.

Hot pursuit operation is still going-on by the military and police force at the place of encountered. (Jason de Asis)

Guigona conducted forum on public revenues for budget reform

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, March 30, 2011-In his crusade for a transparent, accountable and participatory budget process, Senator Teofisto G. Guingona yesterday convened a forum for the Open Budget Partnership (OBP) Forum on Public Revenues together with the Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Cesar Purisima, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares, Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Angelito Alvarez, leaders and members of the academe and the civil society organizations (CSOs).

Guingona said that the Forum on Pubic Revenues was convened because the revenue performance of the government is found to considerably affect the likelihood of achieving the objectives of the national budget in delivering quality services to the poor, where it’s objective was to inform the public about the structure of revenues of the national government, fiscal plans and targets of the Aquino Administration, and factors that may affect revenue performance and expenditure performance of the national government.

Finance Sec. Purisima explained the fiscal policies of the national government and discussed plans and policies that enable the achievement of a pro-poor budget while BIR Commissioner Jacinto-Henares presented information on the strategies of the BIR for meeting its revenue targets, and the reform plans for the agencies. BOC Commissioner Alvarez presented the strategies of the BOC for meeting its revenue targets and reforms in the agency. The members of the academe and the CSOs suggested strategies that the government needs to prioritize in raising key issues.

“The participation of the top revenue agencies in the country and the members of the CSOs and the academe highlighted the desire of the public to bring good governance in the revenue process as well,” Guingona said.

Last November 2010, the OBP was created to enhance transparency and accountability of the national budget process for the purpose of creating dialogue opportunities between the executive and legislative agencies of the government with civil society organizations.

The key budget issues were discussed and opened the way towards possible CSO participation in the budget process in the first forum which was on the National Expenditure Plan. (Jason de Asis)

National Museum got 178 million pesos from PAGCOR

SENATE OFFICE, MANILA, March 30, 2011-A historical agreement between the National Museum of the Philippines and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR)  was executed last March 25, 2011 to provide endowment by PGCOR of 178 million pesos for the Museum which was scheduled to be paid between April and December of 2011, saying that this finally implements the provisions of the National Museum Act of 1998 (Republic Act No. 8492) which appropriated 250 million pesos from the earnings of PAGCOR for the Museum's Endowment Fund this year.

Partial remittances had been made in the past, payment of the balance of 178 million pesos had not been made for many years until it was brought to the attention of the present management of PAGCOR.

At the signing ceremony were PAGCOR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Cristino L. Naguiat Jr., National Museum Director and Assistant Director Jeremy Barns, Cecilio Salcedo, and Senator Edgardo J. Angara, representing the Board of Trustees of the National Museum, of which he is an ex-officio member as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture.

PAGCOR Chairman Naguiat said that there is a need to help preserve the Philippines' greatest collection of important treasures where PAGCOR is continually raising funds for the governments' socio-civic and national developmental efforts, including boosting the country's tourism industry.

Senator Angara said that the occasion was a huge milestone for the country where it will foster cultural and artistic literacy.

“The National Museum has not acquired any large collection in the last few years, and now it finally can where this is the largest amount that any government agency has given so far, and the National Museum can use every penny of it,” Angara said.

National Museum Director Barns said that in its charter, the National Museum may use interest generated from its Endowment Fund for special projects, of which the most important currently is the restoration and refurbishment of its main building, the Old Legislative Building, and the improvement of public galleries and facilities.

“This boost to the endowment fund could not have come at a better time,” Barns said, stressing that they are in the process of creating a new and improved National Museum that every Filipino can be proud of.

He furthered that they have been working hard to modernize, expand and upgrade their facilities for the general public as well as enhance the general appeal of the Museum.

Through this landmark agreement, Barns furthered that they have not had the resources that they need to make any big moves, but that has changed significantly now and expressed that they are happy to forge a strong relationship with PAGCOR. (Jason de Asis)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Zubiri distributes projects in Davao and consults leaders for ARMM postponement

SENATE OFFICE, MANILA, March 29, 2011-Senator Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri yesterday formally turned-over the infrastructure projects for schools, public markets and multi-purpose buildings in Davao City and Davao del Norte through his One Town, One Project or OTOP.

Zubiri led the ceremonial turn over along with Representatives Anton Lagdameo (2nd District, Davao del Norte) and Mylene Albano (2nd District, Davao City), with local chief executives Mayor Lolita Moral (Braulio E. Dujali), Mayor Marcelino Perandos (Carmen), Mayor Maximo Estela (Sto. Tomas), and Mayor Sara Duterte (Davao City).

Governor Rodolfo Del Rosario joined Zubiri in the ceremonial distribution of nine million peso projects at the Davao City Provincial Capitol where it was witnessed by the Mayors Joseph Parenas, Edgardo Timbol, Rosabella Abelita-Nana, Basilio Libayao and LMP President Mayor Nestor Alcoran.

The Bukidnon solon also conducted consultation on the proposed plan to postpone the ARMM elections on August which started since last week where he stood on the Senate floor on March 21 and strongly criticized House Bill 4246 or the measure that seeks to postpone ARMM elections and Malacanang plan to appoint caretaker officials in the region instead, saying that such move is a threat to democracy and viewed as an impending death of the people of Mindanao's right to suffrage.

He said that he stood as a senator from Mindanao and tackled Mindanao issues and concerns where he flew to Cotabato City and some areas in the former province of Shariff Kabunsuan last Thursday to consult with the Muslim leaders and for the record most of them were not politicians at all.

The result of the recent dialogue with the teachers, students, doctors, nurses, government employees of ARMM, soldiers, policemen, Imams and leaders of their religious faith exposed that they were very wary of the idea of postponing the elections of ARMM in different degrees of convictions, they were, however, all unanimous in opposing the plan of appointing the leaders of the region and literally taking away the right to choose who should lead them.

The Senator urged the COMELEC to push through with the preparations for the ARMM elections in August despite the perceived pressures from powerful parties in favor of postponing it, saying that the Muslim lawmakers opposed the move for postponement and appointment on ARMM for the reason that it is undemocratic and unconstitutional.

“Why are we not listening to them in this issue? Aren’t the Muslim lawmakers the representatives of their people?” he asked, explaining that it would be tantamount for example to forcing changes in the democratic process of Bicol without the support of our Bicolano congressmen and senators and only using the power of the majority to subvert their will.

“Wouldn't that be going overboard with a presidential prerogative and even bordering on the dictatorial?” Zubiri asked, stressing that reform should indeed be made in the Mindanao region or in the entire country but not at the expense of democracy and freedom.

Relative to this, Senator Bongbong Marcos advised the government to establish first the true sentiments of the villagers living at the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on the proposed postponement of the scheduled elections in 2011 where he said that a consultation should be conducted first in the areas of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Marawi City.

Marcos reminded the Palace officials that the deferment of the August 8, 2011 elections in the ARMM should first clearly establish the true sentiments of the people of ARMM regarding the Palace's bill seeking to postpone elections to 2013 and appointing Officers-in-charge (OIC's) in the interim. (Jason de Asis)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

PDEA renews call to public against drug syndicates

SAN FERNANDO CITY, Pampanga, March 28, 2011-The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Central Luzon renewed its call to the public versus drug syndicates, particularly those belonging to the Western African drug syndicates where they recorded that out of 689 Filipinos arrested in other countries for drug trafficking, 79 of them are sentenced with death penalty according to Ronald Allan Ricardo, regional director of PDEA operating here in region 3.

Ricardo said that six of these were no reprieve to include Sally Villanueva, Ramon Credo, and Elizabeth Batain. They have to face death for having been victims of drug syndicates who recruited them as drug couriers wherein they are scheduled for execution on March 30.

“There are still a number of Filipino overseas who were used as drug couriers who are also facing the fate of Villanueva, Credo and Batain, saying that some of them are also facing death row.

However, Ricardo cleared that the government provided the three OFWs all possible consular and legal assistance and has exhausted all possible representations to appeal their cases, saying that the Philippines was not singled out in the cases of Villanueva, Credo and Batain, revealing that there were also other foreign nationals in the past who suffered execution in China for drug trafficking.

He cited Akmal Shaikh of Britain who was executed by lethal injection on December 29, 2009 despite Britain’s top officials doing everything within its power to secure fair trial and clemency for him where Shaikh was found guilty of drug smuggling in 2007 while four Japanese nationals were convicted of drug trafficking (Mitsunobu Akno, Teruo Takeda, Hironori Ukal and Katsuo Mori).

“They were executed in China even if Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada expressed concern over possible backlash from Japan in his reported meeting with Chinese Ambassador Cheng Yonghua last April 2010, adding that the Japanese government just appealed to the Japanese people to understand that execution is legal punishment for drug smuggling in China and there was not much that Japan could do to interfere in this,” he furthered.

He said that the Philippine government will continue to monitor and review their cases for the purpose of protecting their legal rights and ensuring that they receive humane treatment as for the other Filipinos arrested or convicted in China or in other countries of drug-related and other crimes.

“I am appealing to the citizenry not to support illegal drugs syndicates and informed the PDEA in case that they have monitored the activities of the group for proper action,” he ended. 

Earlier, PDEA in the region deployed some of its agents at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Clark Freeport Zone to conduct surveillance to its campaign on anti-drug courier program and to ensure that no drug courrier or drug mule will enter or exit the country(Jason de Asis)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Angara renewed reforms to fight corruption

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, March 27, 2011-Senator Edgardo J. Angara who is the principal author of republic act 9184 otherwise known as the landmark government reform act of 2003 stressed the importance of procurement reform in the government’s continuing battle against corruption where he renewed his call to fight it.

Angara shared his experience in drafting, lobbying for and ultimately passing one of the biggest anti-corruption laws in the Philippines, saying that it's a subject that probably doesn't interest a lot of people although it affects everyone in our everyday lives.

“How the government procures goods and services?,” he asked saying that we were able to build a critical mass behind the reform and sought to modernize, standardize, and regulate the procurement activities of the government.

“Each government agency or branch must conduct competitive and transparent purchases by means of public bidding,” he said, explaining that the said law focused on the principle of transparency.

The veteran senator said that the budget of every agency is known publicly through websites and bulletins. The bill was created to address the ever-present problem of corrupt purchasing and acquisition practices in the government.

Angara furthered that we must get rid of lawless frontier where anything goes. This was a time marked by confusion and chaos when it comes to state processes.

The Senator who was then the president of the Southeast Asian Parliamentarians Against Corruption, the Procurement Reform Act introduced an innovation to this movement: the creation of a watchdog formed by members of the civil society.

“The group serves as the eye and ear of the masses to guard the process and a very important check-and-balance to the transactions that the state undergoes.

“With a very simple but striking insight on the nature of reform in a democracy such as ours reform doesn’t have to begin with a battalion. It can just start with one person,” Angara concluded. (Jason de Asis)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Legarda denounced the killing of a female broadcaster Sumera

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, March 26, 2011-Senator Loren Legarda condemned the killing of Len Flores Sumera, 45 years old, a female broadcaster in Malabon and a radio anchor of DZME who was shot to death last Thursday morning while on her way to work.

Legarda stressed that if the motive behind the crime was work-related, then the Congress has to fast track the passing of the bill qualifying as murder the killing of members of media in the performance of their duties.

“The authorities have yet to determine the motive behind the killing,” she lamented, saying that another journalist had to die in brutal killing. 

Legarda denounced in the strongest sense in this reckless act of violence committed against a media practitioner explaining that whether or not the crime was related to her work as a broadcaster, such cruel act must be condemned and authorities must make sure that perpetrators are caught and penalized.

She furthered that the protection of journalists and members of media must really be strengthened. “If it is proven that the purpose of the killing is related to Sumera’s duty as a radio anchor, there is a need to pass her authored bill in the senate to give teeth in the law regarding media killings in the country.

The Senator who authored senate bill no. 1426 seeks to amend Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code to qualify the killing of members of broadcast and print media in the performance of their duties as a crime of murder, is currently pending at the Senate plenary under Committee Report No. 9 which she also co-sponsored.   

She said that the bill will help to protect the members of the media while in the lawful exercise of their functions and hopefully when it becomes a law, crimes against journalists will be lessened.

Prior to this, Sumera was on her way to Manila based DZME radio station when a gunman shot her in the neck. The victim hosted her public service program “Arangkada Kinse Trenta (full speed Ahead 1530) with DZME reporter Ed Sarto. Sumera is the 3rd broadcaster killed in line of duty under the President Aquino administration.

Historically, records from the center for media freedom and responsibility showed that 119 of the 179 cases of journalists or media practitioner killed in the country were work related. (Jason de Asis)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Aurora Governor expressed disappointment on Aurora’s top cop

BALER, Aurora, March 25, 2011-Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo expressed dissatisfaction over Senior Supt. Rosvi Manulid performance amid the rash in crimes in this capital town and the police’s alleged failure to contain illegal logging activities seven months after he was the provincial police director in this province and may be on the way out.

Manulid is a bemedalled and well-decorated police officer who held sensitive positions at the Philippine National Police Regional Police Office 3 here in Central Luzon who was included in the list of recommendees for new provincial director of the Aurora police but Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo left him out.

“I did not choose him,” Angara-Castillo told newsmen without specifying who was her choice; however, sources said that her personal choice was Senior Supt. Benjie Hulipas, who hails from the province.

“I am very disappointed when Manulid took over as provincial director, there was a surge in crimes, including a P1-million broad daylight heist. Even during day-time, there were crime incidents,” Angara-Castillo said, adding that before the latter came in, the province had the lowest crime rate among the seven provinces in Central Luzon.

“Before Manulid was assigned here, we were the most peaceful in the entire region 3 and I wanted to maintain that distinction so he had to go,” she said, adding that the surge in crimes would adversely affect Aurora’s aggressive tourism campaign.

Angara-Castillo said that she herself was not spared from the outbreak in crimes where she cited that recently she lost her generator to thieves who broke into her house.

She recalled confronting Manulid about the incident, even warning him that if her generator would not be produced within 24 hours, Manulid would suffer the consequences; then the generator was recovered by police within the 24-hour period.

Angara-Castillo said the fact that the stolen generator was recovered by police indicated that if they wanted to, they can do their job efficiently. She said she has long been complaining to Manulid and his men the lack of police visibility in the province.

Asked to comment on his impending relief, Manulid said that he serves at the pleasure of the governor. He said insofar as he is concerned, he has done his best although this has failed to satisfy the governor.

“I have no regrets,” he said.

Before a new set of recommendees was laid down, Manulid has been subjected by the governor to severe tongue-lashing. Once, she scolded him in front of local officials and newsmen during a meeting of the provincial government-led task force against illegal logging for the inability of lawmen to prevent the passage of trucks in police-manned checkpoints.

But what broke the camel’s back, sources said, was the occurrence of five consecutive robbery-holdup and theft incidents in the province.        

Earlier, Manulid was appointed last September to his post as officer-in-charge by Chief Supt. Allan Purisima, PNP regional director, replacing Senior Supt. Romulo Esteban who stayed barely a year in his post.

Manulid and Esteban are “mistahs” or classmates in the 1984 batch of the PNP Academy. Another prominent batchmate is Senior Supt. Rudy Lacadin, regional director for Central Luzon of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

A native of Porac, Pampanga, Manulid was chief of the PRO3’s regional operations and plans division prior to his assignment in Aurora. Before being assigned in Central Luzon, Manulid served as regional chief of the PNP maritime division of the PRO4-A covering the coastal provinces of Batangas, Marinduque, Mindoro Occidental, Mindoro Oriental, Quezon and Romblon.

He also served in various capacities as deputy provincial director for administration and deputy provincial for operations of the Pampanga police and as station commanders of the Floridablanca, Guagua, Mabalacat and Sta. Ana police stations.

At least twice, Manulid was adjudged police officer of the year in Central Luzon in the late 80s. To his credit were 28 medals and 31 letters of commendations. (Jason de Asis)

AFP bayanihan patrol launched a success

CAMP AQUINO, Tarlac City, March 25, 2011-At least four hundred villagers were benefited from the free medical and dental check-up/treatment, 80 had their hair cut also free of charge while about 300 received toothbrush, toothpaste, bath soap, supplemental feeding program and other hygiene items courtesy of  Hacienda Luisita.

Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) Spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Rosendo Armas said that residents of Barangay Balanti, Tarlac City lauded the group for delivering basic services in the form of free medical and dental check-up/treatment, haircut services, supplementary feeding program and hygiene kit distribution at Balanti Elementary School last Wednesday.

Armas said that a joint “bayanihan” by the NOLCOM doctors, nurses, dentists and their support personnel, Tarlac Provincial Civil Affairs Unit (PCAU) with reservists from the AFP Reserve Command, 3rd Mechanized Infantry Battalion, Tactical Operations Group-3 were held describing Filipino trait of helping one another.

Congresswoman Susan Yap, Governor Vic Yap and Commander of NOLCOM Lieutenant General Gaudencio Pangilinan witnessed the “bayanihan patrol” conducted where they expressed support for the project.

Pangilinan joined by Colonel Gerard Velez, Chief of Unified Command Staff who used to head the Civil-Military Operations division of NOLCOM and his successor Colonel Pedro Sumayo Jr., saying that the first bayanihan patrol recorded 500 beneficiaries through Tarlac PCAU headed by Captain Enrico Talon, a Navy reservist which was held in Barangay Sta. Maria, Tarlac City last March 19.

Barangay Captain Pacifico Bautista lauded the NOLCOM for enabling his constituents to experience the fruits of “bayanihan” first hand while the principal of Balanti Elementary School Mr. Pedro Gabriel expressed his thanks for their efforts in giving free service to the populace.

Back to Armas, he said that the AFP’s Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) otherwise known as “Bayanihan” takes cognizance of the role played by all sectors in “winning the peace”, saying that the bayanihan teams conducting bayanihan patrols in target barangays are there to assist the local government unit and agencies. 

“Our goal is to cultivate synergy from the stakeholders’ network for the benefit of the communities,” Armas ended. (Jason de Asis)

South East Asian’s fourth largest bank opened at Subic

CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga, March 25, 2011-To further strengthen its presence in the Philippines, the Maybank (Malaysian Bank) which is the fourth largest bank in South East Asia is now operating inside this Freeport Zone as a one stop financial shop offering customers a portfolio of products and services suited to meet a variety of needs especially to those based here and its immediate surroundings.

It is located within the BerthaPhil Clark Center Compound which is right in the heart of an emerging community that features, at full build-out, an information technology business park, commercial shopping centers, entertainment complexes, condominiums and a school campus.

The Maybank Philippines is a member of the Maybank Group, Malaysia’s leading financial services provider backed by over USD100 billion in Group assets and USD18.6 billion market capitalization and has outlets in 14 countries worldwide to includes the key financial centers such as Singapore, HongKong, Jakarta, Shanghai, New York and London.

The Maybank Group has expanded its reach in South East Asia and also strengthened operations in the Philippines.  In fact 2010 alone, five new branches in five different sites were opened, bringing the total branch count to 50.

Meanwhile, the Clark Freeport Zone is considered as premier location for business establishments that gives attractive tax privilege offerings, professional support services and high-technology amenities, adding that it is fast becoming a major International gateway  via the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport given its proximity to major Asian destinations such as China, HongKong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Singapore. (Jason de Asis)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Angara filed a bill sought to harmonize Phl incentives

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, March 24, 2011-In the aftermath of the global economic crisis, Senator Edgardo J. Angara has filed Senate bill number 2755 otherwise known as “The Investments and Incentives Code of the Philippines” that aims to rationalize fiscal incentives awarded to enterprises, stressing the need to put our fiscal house in order.
Angara said that the bill will harmonize the country's existing incentive system which is presently provided under different laws with differing provisions, saying that the disparate incentive offerings has regrettably created competition among various economic zones vying for limited investments that flow into the country. The Philippines' foreign direct investment in 2009 totaled $1.948 billion, which is far lower than what our neighbors in the region receive.

“Unequal incentive regimes have fostered unnecessary rivalry among our own ecozones, when they should be working together to build up our total investment portfolio,” Angara said, adding that the incentives we give investors must be clearly defined and comparable across the board, otherwise we risk putting off potential investors instead of attracting them.

“There is a need to ensure that our incentives remain competitive with those of our Asian neighbors,” Angara said, explaining that the bill will help spur development in the countryside and other underdeveloped areas by granting tax incentives to investors who would locate in our poorest provinces.

The said bill will promote export-oriented enterprises, whether these are located inside or outside economic zones and will ensure that progress will be as equitable as possible.
Angara added that the bill will reform institutions primarily the Board of Investments that grant incentives by clarifying their mandates and enhancing their capacity to monitor and to implement the incentive system, saying that this is the right time to pass this urgent fiscal reform measure.

“The Congress has been considering this bill for so long and I am hoping that my colleague in the Senate would support this bill for its immediate passage,” Angara said. (Jason de Asis)

Libreng Tawag project to OFW help line led by Villar

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, March 24, 2011-Senator Manny Villar offers “Libreng Tawag" project of the OFW Helpline for those who are in need around the world where the toll free overseas calls project will last for one month and would be coursed through the Bantay OFW radio program of Toots Ople aired live over DZXL-RMN Manila every Monday to Friday and will run until April 23.

Villar said that the public who are worried about their loved ones abroad especially those in troubled areas around the world, can be reunited on air through the "Libreng Tawag” project centered on the welfare of OFWs all over the globe, adding that the free telephone calls would give families the chance to be briefly reunited with their loved ones who are working in different parts of the world.

“Relatives or families wishing to contact by overseas telephone call their loved ones abroad will just have to visit the RMN-DZXL station at the fourth floor of Guadalupe Commercial Complex in Guadalupe, Edsa, Makati City from 9am to 12 noon,” Villar said.

“The project is for the benefit of relatives especially those who are in countries gripped by unrest like Middle East and North Africa and of natural tragedies like Japan and New Zealand, Villar said, adding that the project is part of the Senator’s crusade to help our countrymen abroad who are experiencing crisis and tragedy so that they can share their situation in their love ones who are in the Philippines.

“Until now since pro-democracy movements erupted in the Arab world, some families of OFWs who are based in the Middle East and in North Africa's Libya have remained clueless on the true whereabouts of their loved ones,” Villar stressed, saying that there are still families who have not contacted their relatives in the aftermath of the killer quakes that rocked New Zealand and Japan, which are being compounded by threats of possible nuclear radiation for Japan-based Filipinos.

He said that with the absence of communication lines that could be used to reach out to their relatives and vice-versa, the pain of not personally hearing the assuring voice of a loved one in a strife-torn nation becomes increasingly unbearable, pointing out that even if there are available communication lines, access is still a problem since applicable rates charged by international and local service providers are relatively high.

“This is where our Libreng Tawag project with the help of the radio program of Toots will seek to connect the two parties and possibly reunite them even for a moment via the airwaves,” Villar added.

“The precious phone minutes that a worried-sick family member would spend soliciting words of assurance from his beloved OFW relative would be enough to lessen the entire family's anxiety,” he furthered.

Villar also lauded RMN Manila and Ople, who also heads the Ople Policy Center, for co-spearheading the "Libreng Tawag" project. (Jason de Asis)


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