Saturday, November 30, 2013
CAMP AQUINO, Tarlac City- Army troopers of 48th Infantry Battalion recovered from NPA remnants a cache of food supplies, high powered firearm and subversive documents in Sitio Maputi, Barangay Camachin, Dona Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan this 1:30pm, November 30.
The soldiers led by 2lt Edwin S Lauro were on combat operation when they were fired by more or less 25 lawless elements identified as members of Platoon Siera Madre in Bulacan armed group.
Recovered items included the following: one (1) M14 rifle, one (1) laptop, one (1) portable DVD, one (1) cellular phone, one (1) transistor radio, one (1) sack rice, one (1) sack sardines, two (2) back pack and volume of subversive documents
Commander of Northern Luzon Command, LtGen Gregorio Pio P Catapang said, “we will not allow these armed group to continue their illegal activities in collecting foods from less fortunate… we will assure to the residents that our forces will provide enough security”.
The exchange of fire lasted for almost 30 minutes. No casualty in government side, while soldiers believed that enemy suffered several wounded. The pursuit operations still on-going in the said barangay.
MANILA-Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada said that the Commission on Audit lost its credibility in looking into the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as the agency itself is a recipient of the said funds.
Sen. Estrada said as much during the plenary budget deliberation of the proposed 2014 budget of the COA late Monday night, as he rejected the idea that the agency could look into the DAP disbursements with objectivity and impartiality especially that it was also made a beneficiary of the said fund release.
COA Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan in a statement made early October disclosed that the agency is examining the utilization of the DAP, in response to the request made to them.
The lawmaker also questioned the Commission on Audit’s expenditures using the funds from the DAP.
Jinggoy recalled that Secretary Butch Abad of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) earlier declared that the DAP was designed to ramp up spending and help accelerate economic expansion and that releases from DAP were for quick moving projects that directly supported the Aquino administration’s socio-economic development platform.”
Chairperson Pulido-Tan said that she requested funding from the DBM to modernize the computer systems of the agency. DBM then released funds totaling 143 million pesos sourced from the DAP.
COA broke down the fund utilization as follows: P68,352,000 for information technology infrastructure program; P2,079,900 for installation of closed-circuit television; P4,607,000 for the hiring of litigation experts and legal and management consultants; and P5,115,000 for the purchase of service vehicles.
“So Sec. Abad considers the purchase of cars and computers as a ‘quick moving project’ and an ‘activity which pump prime the economy,’” Jinggoy asked.
“Your agency cannot be objective in its audit on the propriety and legality of the DAP when the agency itself is a recipient and beneficiary of the DAP even if there is no irregularity in the disbursement of the DAP, and everything was in accordance in the SARO issued by the DBM,” Jinggoy said to Tan.
The constitutionality of the DAP is now questioned before the Supreme Court, as critics and observers say that the DAP is an illegal disbursement by the government as this is made outside the enacted appropriations law.
Sen. Estrada raised the possibility of forming an independent body composed of respected personalities from the academe, mass media, among others to scrutinize the releases made under the DAP.
Friday, November 29, 2013
MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda highlighted the Philippines’ success in crafting and implementing laws on gender equality at the Women in Parliaments Global Forum Annual Summit on November 27 in Brussels, Belgium.
Legarda, as President Benigno Aquino III’s representative to the forum, received the Award for Leadership on Closing the Gender Gap (Winner by Region: Southeast Asia).
“Filipino women play an important role in the Philippine society. They are present in more than a hundred countries around the world, caring for children and parents not their own, and operating businesses and industries as part of the force that drives the growth of the global community,” she said, noting that 60% of Filipinos overseas are women.
The Senator said that policies promoting women’s rights are vital instruments in closing the gender gap in the Philippines.
The Expanded Anti-trafficking in Persons Act, a law she principally sponsored, ensures greater protection for women and children.
Under this law, recruitment in the guise of domestic or overseas employment for sexual exploitation, forced labor or involuntary debt bondage, recruitment of any Filipino woman to marry a foreigner, engagement in sex tourism, recruitment for organ removal, and recruitment of a child to engage in armed activities abroad are considered human trafficking.
“A number of laws have been adopted by the Philippines with the Filipino women on top of mind. These include the Magna Carta of Women, which ensures that the rights of women are guaranteed by the State; the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, which provides for a gender-responsive and proactive response in lessening the impacts of disasters and climate change; and, the Domestic Workers Act, which effectively brings domestic workers, the vast majority of whom are women, within the full and formal protection of our laws and government,” said Legarda.
She also highlighted the important role of women in addressing the so-called “new norm”, stressing the capability of women to be at the forefront of disaster prevention and climate change adaptation efforts.
“In the Philippines, women have effectively been at the frontline of building community resilience. In the Municipality of San Francisco in Camotes Island, Cebu, one of the UN’s model communities worldwide, 90% of officers in charge of environmental protection and disaster prevention programs in each zone are women,” Legarda said.
She added that a group of women farmers in Montalban, Rizal has been practicing a farming method that can adapt to prolonged rainy season; while a group of women fisherfolk in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur reforested a total of 136 hectares of mangrove to protect their settlements from storm surges and secure additional source of food for their families.
“Women have a wealth of capacities that need to be harnessed, and we must provide them the needed support to have the confidence to lead and continue with the journey of improving the lives and securing the rights of women around the world,” Legarda concluded.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga-Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has established a learning center in its San Fernando branch in a bid to provide substantial information to Kapampangans and residents of other Central Luzon provinces on economic and financial matters.
“Our Economic and Financial Learning Center (EFLC) has tons of information, education, and communication materials covering central banking, economics, and finance topics,” BSP Research Specialist Divine Bariuan said.
EFLC maintains an updated periodic statistical regional economic data and information that are readily available and holds lectures in schools, companies, government agencies, and banks that focus on the three pillars of central banking- price stability, financial stability, and efficient payments and settlement system.
They also orient stakeholders on the features of the New Generation Currency and their Coin Recirculation Program.
“Through these, we hope that we will enable the citizenry to be more literate and produce wise decisions in the financial area, thus, they become a dynamic partner or participant in the development of the market,” Bariuan added.
For more information on EFLC, please contact (045) 455-3989 or 455-3835 and look for Bariuan or Malou Laconsay.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon is confident that the House of Representatives and the Senate will be able to reach agreement on how to resolve the differences in their versions of the 2014 General Appropriations Bill. The Senate passed yesterday its own version.
“I am confident that we will come into agreement. I’m not worried that there will be a deadlock. I have gone through this numerous times in the past. There can be difficulties sometimes, but at the end of the day, reasonable people can come up with an agreement that is acceptable not only to both chambers but also to the Filipino public in general,” said Drilon.
“We have an obligation to restore the people’s trust in the government. Transparency and accountability will be the order of the day,” he added.
The senators put forward several amendments in the General Appropriations Bill submitted by the House of Representatives.
The Senate lowered the proposed national budget from the original amount of P2.268-trillion to P2.265-trillion, representing a P3.2 billion decrease which resulted from the deletion of the senators' allocations for the now unconstitutional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
"The decrease in the budget proposal was the result of the decision of the 15 senators and the vice president who opted to delete their PDAF allocations worth P200 million each, as the Supreme Court recently ruled that the PDAF is unconstitutional," explained Drilon.
Moreover, the Senate moved to increase several items in the budget. These included the P5.5 billion budget increase for calamity fund and P600 million increase in quick response funds for the Department of Health and Department of Transportation and Communication to better capacitate the government in responding to calamities that may hit the country next year.
The Senate also carved out P100 billion for rehabilitation and reconstruction program on areas heavily hit by the recent disastrous events particularly typhoons Yolanda, Labuyo, Santi, the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in the Visayas region and the siege in Zamboanga City, noted Drilon.
“In total, we have allocated P100 billion for rehabilitation program to be undertaken by the line agencies next year, and of which, P20 billion is funded, and P80 billion is unprogrammed, which funds shall serve as standby authority and ready authorization for spending once we receive the foreign donations and grants for victims of typhoon Yolanda,” said Drilon.
The Senate version likewise realigned P2.5 billion from the P5 billion lump-sum appropriation for scholarships to the budget of 112 state colleges and universities to manage their own scholarship programs for deserving students. The Senate also increased the budget of the University of the Philippines by P438 million.
Lastly, the Senate President proposed to delete the provisions in the budget proposal which are contrary to the ruling of the Supreme Court on the unconstitutionality of the PDAF.
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – The Department of Labor and Employment in Central Luzon recently conferred a new award to the country’s leading and ISO-certified meat processing company.
Regional Director Raymundo Agravante has conferred Tripartite Certificate of Compliance with Labor Standards (TCCLS) to Mekeni Food Corporation (Mekeni) and 10 other companies in Central Luzon. There are about 4,400 enterprises in the region that are under mandated monitoring by the DOLE. Mekeni is the only company in the food industry sector to be given this award.
“This is a kick-off program of activities in our full implementation of new labor law compliance system that we are usually conducting based on the enforcement power of DOLE,” Agravante said during the awarding ceremonies.
TCCLS is one of the most coveted certifications by any company as it acknowledges voluntary compliance with standards on general labor, occupational safety, health and child labor.
Part of the incentives in the TCCLS certification is a three-year exemption from mandatory inspections and eligibility to win higher recognition such as the DOLE Secretary’s Labor Law Compliance Award and the Tripartite Seal of Excellence to be given in Malacanang.
Agravante said that Mekeni complied with necessary standards per evaluation of the committee “especially on health and safety being in the food industry”.
Mekeni was started by couple Felix and Meding Garcia as a backyard tocino business in Balubad, Porac in 1986. It now employs more than 1,000 workers and has been conferred various awards and certifications from various government agencies, local and international private firms.
Its recent awards include the Platinum Award of Total Quality Leadership conferred by Business Initiative Directions in Frankfurt, Germany.
Mekeni is the very first Asian and Philippine meat plant to have been certified with the highest standards in hotdog processing. It is the first in Asia and Philippines and second firm in the world to get the Food Safety Management System (FSMS) or ISO 22000 in 2006.
Recently, it was also certified as the first Philippine meat processing company to have obtained the Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000, the latest and integrated standard on food safety and quality. FSSC covers many of the most comprehensive existing food and safety standards and program requirements because of the full integration of ISO 22000.
This certification covers its hotdog line and marinated products, making Mekeni’s tocino as the first and only tocino that is ISO certified.
Prudencio S. Garcia, president and CEO of Mekeni, said that they dedicate the latest recognition to the customers, dealers and workers.
“We owe it to the people that we are given this award. The customers, the community and our staff. With this recognition, we will continue to commit to excellence in work environments, production, food safety and quality. The public deserves no less than the highest quality standards,” Garcia said.
“This is another proof that our company truly cares,” Garcia added.
The TCCLS is a seal of good housekeeping award by the Labor Department. It is a pre-requisite to the DOLE Secretary’s Labor Law Compliance Award (SLLCA) and the Tripartite Seal of Excellence (TSE) – two of the most prestigious awards given to top performing Philippine-based companies in terms of compliance and best practices in labor standards.
Other awardees in Central Luzon include:
Anvaya Cove Beach and Nature Club, Chun Chiang Enterprises Mfg. Company, Inc., Essilor Manufacturing Phils., Inc., International Wiring Systems Phils. Inc., ON Semiconductor SSMP Phils., Corp., Petron Freeport Corp., Petron San Fernando Depot, Pharmatechnical Laboratory, Inc., Subic Enerzone, and Trust International Paper Corp.
Of the 11 awardees, only Mekeni, International Wiring Systems Phils, and Subic Enerzone qualify for the SLLCA and TSE awards.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, and Ms. Margareta Wahlstrom (3rd from left), Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, encourage schoolchildren, teachers and communities to assess the safety of their schools with the launch of the international program, "How Safe Is Your School?" at the Philippine Senate on November 21. They were joined by UNISDR Chief of Advocacy and Outreach Dr. Jerry Velasquez (1st from left), UNDP Country Director Mr. Tohishiro Tanaka (2nd from left), Department of Education Undersecretary Dina Ocampo (2nd from right), UNISDR consultant Mr. Manny de Guzman (1st from right), and students from the Pasay City West High School.
Monday, November 25, 2013
MANILA-Government should start rolling out a cash-for-work program in Yolanda-devastated areas in order to “clear and clean” communities of debris and employ those whose jobs or livelihood were also destroyed by the typhoon.
“Disaster areas need a different kind of emergency – emergency employment,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto in proposing that typhoon victims be temporarily employed so they can rebuild their own communities themselves.
“Relief shouldn't only come in grocery bags,” Recto said, “but must also be in the opportunity to be employed. If you want victims to stop displaying ‘We need food’ placards, then hang ‘Help wanted’ signs.”
He said Yolanda merely aggravated a bleak unemployment picture in the areas it devastated. “Before Yolanda struck, the three regions of Visayas were home to 2.1 million unemployed and underemployed. One in three in the labor force was without a job or underemployed.”
In batting for cash-for-work, Recto said government will not find a more determined volunteer force to do post-typhoon clean-up than in the victims themselves. “The victims’ sweat equity matched with government pay, that’s the best reconstruction material.”
Recto said “mass employment” can be found in next year’s national budget. “With its huge P2.4 trillion footprint, it is a big job order document.”
In infrastructure alone, close to P400 billion has been earmarked, Recto said. This would finance the construction of P137.7 billion worth of roads, not including the P12 billion worth of farm-to-market roads that the Department of Agriculture will build.
For schools, 43,183 classrooms will be built while 9,502 will be repaired.
In agriculture, some P53 billion will be allocated, the senator said. On irrigation alone, construction will cover 86,019 hectares of farmland.
He said the DA will be holding “a year-round job fair” because it will be given money, not only for farm infrastructure, but for “labor intensive activities like rice and corn planting, and coconut production for which it will be given P2 billion.”
Because ‘Yolanda’ barreled through agriculture areas, DA will have to assume the role of a job provider, Recto said. “In the case of fishermen, relief is about giving them cans of sardines. Rehabilitation is empowering them to fish again.“
But for the above capital expenditures to generate local jobs, Recto said Congress can insert provisions in the national budget that will require the recruitment of local labor.
“For example, there’s actually a law, Republic Act 6685, which requires the contractor of a government public works project to hire one-half of the unskilled labor and one-third of the skilled labor requirements from among the residents
where it will be implemented,” he said.
Another option is for Congress to appropriate specific cash-for-work initiatives, Recto said.
He said the funding for cash-for-work for December will have to come from savings from the 2013 national budget.
He said the funding for cash-for-work for December will have to come from savings from the 2013 national budget.
“For next year, it will be a combination of specific cash-for-work programs on top of job-generating infra projects,” he said.
Destabilization feared with China’s creation of “air defense zone” in disputed islands US criticizes China over recent move to impose new rules on airspace
MANILA-Tensions escalate anew over China’s establishment last Saturday of an “air defense identification zone” in the East China Sea including a group of uninhabited islets whose ownership has been disputed by China and Japan for decades.
Analysts are concerned that China’s move could increase the likelihood of triggering a wider armed conflict, pulling in the United States which is treaty-bound to protect Japan.
The islands, currently under control by Tokyo, are known as Senkaku in Japan, and Diaoyu in China. With the “air defense zone” the Chinese Defense Ministry compels noncommercial aircraft entering the zone to first identify themselves to Beijing, at the risk of facing “defensive emergency measures” by Chinese armed forces.
Japan has lodged a strong protest, with its Foreign Ministry calling the move “totally unacceptable and extremely regrettable as it includes the Japanese territorial airspace over the Senkaku Islands, an inherent territory of Japan.”
The United States Defense department has likewise sharply criticized China's action to impose new rules on airspace over islands, calling it a "destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region."
Beijing has grown more assertive in recent years with its territorial claims in the rest of Asia, which has resulted to heightened conflict among claimant states.
On December 5, top international experts will meet in Manila to discuss the issue of territorial maritime disputes in a roundtable discussion titled "What Is to Be Done? Resolving Maritime Disputes in Southeast Asia", organized by the Angara Centre for Law and Economics at the Marriott Hotel, Resorts World Manila.
World-renowned experts Donald Emmerson of Stanford University, Shen Dingli of Fudan University in China, Ian Storey of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, Yoichiro Sato of the Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Japan, and Professor Harry Roque of the University of the Philippines will form the distinguished panel of speakers.
Former Senator Edgardo J. Angara will keynote the event. Angara recently concluded over two decades of service in the Senate, having led the enactment of landmark laws like the Free High School Act, creation of CHED and TESDA, PhilHealth Act, Senior Citizens Act, and many others.
A former UP President, Angara initiated the creation of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea (UP-IMLOS), which specializes in law and policy research services for the different maritime industries—shipping, fishing, seafaring and other marine resource uses. It also provides legal advice and policy support in all maritime fields, including marine environment protection, maritime boundaries, maritime law enforcement, maritime security, and territorial studies.
The forum and roundtable discussions will be moderated by Prof. John Nye of George Mason University, Executive Director of the Angara Centre. The event is sponsored by Asia United Bank.
MANILA-Amid growing concerns on the transparency and accountability in the use of funds intended for calamity response, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon has vowed to oversee the disbursement of relief and rehabilitation funds that the Congress had pledged to provide to national government for its aid and rebuilding programs to damages caused by recent calamities.
“We assure that the Congress will fully carry out its oversight functions over the utilization of relief and rehabilitation funds currently being raised to support the government in addressing both the immediate and long-term needs of the people and areas victimized by the past calamitous events,” said Drilon.
“Our role as legislators also covers the monitoring of public spending to guarantee that the funds we authorize to the executive to spend are indeed spent properly and purposely,” he added.
According to Drilon, while public funds are being made available for government’s disposal, the need to monitor and fully account the funds’ flow remains.
“We need a source of funding flexible enough to address the objectives of relief and rehabilitation operations done by the line agencies, but still there must be systems of accountability and checks employed,” pointed out Drilon.
The Senate chief also said that they will observe the absorptive capacities of the agencies that will use these funding and if necessary, they are willing to augment the funding requirements only to ensure that all areas and all victims will be covered in the relief and rebuilding efforts.
“We will keep an eye on the ability of the agencies dealing with disaster relief and rehabilitation activities, especially the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, to make sure that they are able to implement the much-needed programs and projects promptly and efficiently,” said Drilon.
He said there are relevant committees that will closely monitor the funds’ utilization, and will observe the absorptive capacities of the agencies such as the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Public Expenditures.
Right now, Drilon said the priority of both the House and the Senate is to look for funds that can be tapped by the government to boost its relief and rehabilitation efforts on areas heavily damaged by the past calamities particularly super typhoon “Yolanda”.
The Congress, according to Drilon, will be allocating P55.4 billion funds to the national government to be used solely for the rehabilitation of infrastructure damaged by calamities including school buildings, power supply utilities, roads and bridges, and even houses.
The P55.4 billion will be sourced from the proposed P14.6-billion supplemental budget using the unused Priority Development Assistance Fund which was declared unconstitutional, and the calamity-related funds which are expected to remain unobligated and unreleased estimated to be P20.8 billion by the year-end.
The other source is the P20 billion rehabiliation fund that was already appropriated in the 2014 national budget.
The funds are on top of the regular budget for the calamity and quick response funds already in the 2014 national budget.
CAMP GENERAL EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City –The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) welcomes 140 new 2nd Lieutenants from the three major services; Army, Air Force and Navy as they graduate from their respective Officer Candidate Courses (OCCs) today at the AFP Theatre.
The President and AFP Commander-in-Chief, Benigno S. Aquino III attended as the Guest of Honor and Speaker. This is the first time President Aquino attended the joint graduation ceremony of the OCC. He was assisted by the AFP Chief of Staff, General Emmanuel T. Bautista, and Secretary of National Defense, Voltaire T. Gazmin in the distribution of diplomas and presentation of awards.
Receiving the Presidential Saber are Probationary 2nd Lt. (P/2LT.) Mary Jean B. Cabillete, Philippine Army (PA); P/2LT. Kristyl May A. Beatingo, Philippine Ari Force (PAF); and Probationary Ensign (P/ENS.) Vanessa Katrina J. Tulang, Philippine Navy (PN).
The Secretary of National Defense Saber is awarded to P/2LT. Shiela Mae T. Enderez, PA; P/2LT. John Red A. Honrales, PAF; and P/ENS. Tiffany Ann P. Palmares, PN.
The Chief of Staff Saber is awarded to P/2LT. Mike Vergel L. Conception, PA; P/2LT. Janna B. Ontong, PAF; and P/ENS. Eunice Fe M. Sabado, PN.
After the graduation ceremony, the 55 graduates from the Army, 40 from the Navy and 45 from the Air Force took their oath as regular military officers before General Bautista.
“The AFP that you are joining today is in the midst of a transformation. Now, you all have the responsibility of shaping and leading this transformation, in the spirit of the vision and renewed call to reform inspired by our President,” Bautista said.
“Take pride in the uniform that you wear, and in the patriotic duty that you will perform as protector of the people and of the State, in the attainment of our vision of being a world-class armed forces, source of national pride; and in our commitment to winning just and lasting peace for our nation,” he added.
The officer candidate schools established in the three Major Services train civilians and enlisted personnel who are baccalaureate degree holders to be future members of the AFP regular force. The one-year course prepares an officer candidate with a rank of Probationary Second Lieutenant and Probationary Ensign to be mentally, physically and emotionally fit to earn a commission as an officer in the Army, Air Force, and Navy.
MANILA-Government can double the number of its operational C-130 planes to six next year by earmarking P1.5 billion in the 2014 national budget.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto said the cost of refurbishing one mothballed C-130 in the Philippine Air Force inventory is P500 million.
The estimate, he said, was provided by the PAF itself.
“So if we set aside P1.5 billion in next year’s budget, then we will be able to double he number of our C-130 fleet. And that is a very wise investment the country should make,” Recto said.
Recto said the PAF’s three C-130s have proven their mettle by flying relief sorties in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda.
“It was the first plane to land in Tacloban after Yolanda laid waste to it. Since then the C-130s have conducted almost round-the-clock humanitarian airlift,” Recto said.
The C-130s were also among the first responders to the Bohol earthquake, he said. “And when Zamboanga was under siege, it was the C-130s who kept supplying the city with fresh troops and supplies, sometimes delivering then under enemy fire,” he said.
“The recent tragic events have proven one indisputable point : C-130s are essential transport. They should be high up in the list of disaster response equipment. Their purchase should be part of disaster preparation,” Recto said.
“It doesn't take a rocket genius to figure out that a disaster-prone archipelago like ours need airlift capability,” Recto said.
Repairing an “unserviceable” C-130 in the PAF stock, Recto said, even at a cost of P500 million per, is cheaper than buying a brand new C-130 which has a current price tag of $50 million or P2.2 billion.
He, however, said that government should not rule out buying brand new C-130s “if we have the money for it, and if that is what the PAF would recommend after technical review.”
Recto believes that the government, using multi-year budgeting approach, meaning the payment will be spread out in years, can raise the amount for at least two brand new C-130s.
“If we were able to arrange funding for a squadron of South Korean-made FA-50 jets, then there’s no reason why we can’t do the same to C-130s,” Recto said.
He was referring to the dozen fighter jets that the Philippines will be buying from Seoul at a cost of almost P19 billion.
From a high of 18, the number of Air Force’s “mission capable” C-130 planes has whittled down to three.
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