Wednesday, November 19, 2014

NOLCOM Christmas Park Opens for Viewing

CAMP AQUINO, Tarlac City – Northern Luzon Command opened a new attraction with the lighting of NOLCOM Christmas Park located inside Camp Aquino, San Miguel, Tarlac City on November 18, 2014 at exactly 6:00 pm.  This is an additional attraction for the Yuletide Season after Camp Aquino captured attention from the public when the AFP NOLCOM Belen entry for Belenismo sa Tarlak 2014 Festival was unveiled and lighted last November 4 at NOLCOM main gate. The Christmas Park is open to the public for viewing.

The NOLCOM Christmas Park include a Belen, giant Christmas Tree and Christmas lanterns, to include the entries of the Lantern Making Contest participated by the different NOLCOM offices. These Christmas lanterns are made of recyclable materials which were crafted by the soldiers with their own initiative and creativity.

“We did this not only for our own benefit, but also to join the Filipino people in the time honored Filipino Tradition of celebrating Christmas and add festivity in the celebration of this season.” LtGen Trinidad explained. He further added that, “Although we only have limited resources, we still give much importance in sharing the spirit of Christmas and to be united in pursuing the peace and development of our nation.”

Cabanatuan trike driver tears P20 bill, is arrested, charged

CABANATUAN CITY – A 36-year-old tricycle driver has been arrested by police and is facing charges and a possible prison term here after tearing a P20 bill paid to him by a lady employee of the Department of Justice.

         Police Superintendent Joselito Villarosa, Cabanatuan police chief, identified the tricycle driver as Alexander Sunga of Purok 3, Barangay San Juan Accfa.

         Villarosa said Sunga was arrested by local police after he angrily tore the P20 bill, with serial No. JT935015, paid as transportation fare by Elizabeth Pangilinan Diesta, 54, administrative assistant of the DOJ here.

        The bill-tearing incident, Diesta said, happened Monday morning.

        Tearing of central bank notes and coins is prohibited under Presidential Decree 247 signed on July 18,1973 by then-President Ferdinand Marcos.  Aside from tearing, it also prohibits and penalizes defacement, mutilation, burning or destruction of notes and coins which are issued by the Central Bank for circulation as medium of exchange.

          The law said utilizing them for other purposes does not speak well of the due respect and dignity befitting the currency and unfavorably reflect on the discipline of the people and create a bad image for the country.

          Any person found to violate the Decree shall be slapped with conviction, a fine of not more than P20,000 and/or by a maximum imprisonment of five years.

          Police said that Sunga apparently was disgusted with the amount given him by Diesta and was demanding for more.

         Tricycle drivers in this city have often been the butt of complaints of passengers due to overcharging and refusing to convey them among other complaints.

        This city has been hailed as the country’s tricycle capital with an estimated 14,000 tricycle units plying this city’s route daily.

        A criminal complaint for violations of PD 247 (Tearing of Currency Notes) and unjust vexation was forwarded to the Cabanatuan City Prosecutor’s Office. – Manny Galvez

Legarda Urges TESDA to Create Culture-Based Vocational Courses

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today urged the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to create culture-based vocational courses as part of efforts to support indigenous peoples (IPs) and promote Philippine culture.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities, made the statement at the opening of the Conference on Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for Indigenous People of the ASEAN held today at Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros, Manila.

“Through TESDA’s TVET, we can provide our IPs better employment and livelihood opportunities. But while we empower our IPs through skills development and enhancement for employment in mainstream industries, I urge the creation of culture-based vocational courses,” she said during her keynote speech.

“Many of the crafts of our IPs are sought after in other countries, but the supply, especially of handmade products, cannot keep up with the demand because a handwoven cloth made of abaca or handmade basket made of nito would take weeks or months to complete. This economic opportunity is what we must present to our IPs. We need not take our IPs out of their communities, which they strive to preserve as part of their heritage. We can provide the needed livelihood support to them by promoting their culture through traditional skills training program,” she added.

Legarda said that TESDA can partner with local government units, especially those with Schools of Living Traditions (SLTs), and cultural agencies in creating culture-based courses.

“We have to develop interest in traditional skills like hand weaving, embroidery, tabungaw-making, basket-weaving, pottery, and likewise present the economic opportunities that can be derived from acquiring or improving on such skills,” she stressed.

The Senator also said that stronger support for IPs is needed especially with the emergence of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

“ASEAN’s bold vision of achieving the free flow of goods, services, investment, and skilled labor in the region may help us achieve higher productivity and economic diversification. But we have to consider a lot of things—our indigenous communities are among our concerns. Aside from protecting their traditional and intellectual property, IPs should be socially and economically empowered," she said.

“Basic services, including access to education and healthcare, should be provided to them. Most indigenous communities are located in isolated and disadvantaged areas. We must create a system that would enhance delivery of basic, social, technical and legal services,” said Legarda, who has filed Senate Bill No. 2209 that will create resource centers for IPs, which shall serve as access centers to enhance delivery of these services.

Budget needs rearview mirror

MANILA-The 5,947-page national budget package may be as thick as an encyclopedia set, but it has one fault : It doesn’t tell what happened to funds appropriated in the previous national budget.

Senate President Pro-Tempore cited this weakness of the current budgeting system in pushing for “the installation of the rearview mirror on the national budget.”

Recto bewailed that despite the “fine print of nine budget documents”, nowhere is there a section which says that the projects and programs authorized in the past budget have been implemented or not.

“You can go through the almost 6,000 pages line by line but you won’t find anything which says that the projects lovingly enumerated in the previous year’s budget have been completed,” Recto said.

“Wade through the thicket of numbers and there’s nothing there which says if 61,510 teachers were indeed hired last year, if the plan to recruit 9,000 pushed through, if the roads catalogued in the DPWH budget were indeed built,” Recto said.

To cure this defect, Recto proposed a “new budget accountability” form which reports on the status of projects funded by the immediate General Appropriations Act.

He said this can be done by using the GAA format, “but it will now be returned to us with annotations showing line-by-line if the projects were indeed implemented.”

“If a line-item in the 2015 GAA says that P100 million is appropriated for this road in Cebu, then what we want is for the government to submit in 2016 the same GAA with a status report opposite the said line-item,” Recto said.

 “If the GAA authorizes the recruitment of, say, 10,000 new policemen and 50,000 new teachers, then what we want is for the executive to later indicate in that GAA a note stating the actual number of policemen and teachers hired,” he added.

Recto said his proposal is easy to implement. “We are not reinventing the wheel or imposing a new administrative budget.”

“We are not even creating a new book. Just the old GAA, but this time, there’s a note opposite line-item indicating if it’s completed, still under construction, or the funds have been impounded,” he said.

“Formatting wise, hindi mahirap, kasi sabi nga nila isang Excel column lang ang idadagdag,” he said.

“Ang status na gusto natin ay hindi kilometric ang haba. One-liner lang or one brief sentence pwede na. Pag tapos na ang isang project, eh di sulatan nila ng “implemented”.

Recto asked the executive branch to embrace his idea as it would lead to more transparent budgeting.

His proposal, Recto said, will lead to the disaggregation of multi-billion lump-sum funds.

“Kung halimbawa block fund ang Calamity Fund, sa proposal ko itemized na sa post-budget reporting kung saan ito napunta,” Recto explained.

Recto lamented that at present it is impossible for taxpayers to check if a specific project authorized in the GAA has indeed been implemented.

He blamed the “data vacuum” in the “budget accountability phase” to the discontinuation of the same format used from budget preparation to budget authorization to budget execution.

“The National Expenditure Program evolves into the General Appropriations Bill and the latter morphs into the GAA which in turn is used as budget release document,” Recto said.

“But what is supposed to be the seamless progression of using one reference format stops at post-implementation because there is no way we will be able to know if a project has been implemented.”

He said this can be solved by using the same GAA as report card of fund utilization.

“The annotated GAA can be one easy-to-read document which show where the money went,” he said. 

Recto : Higher tax cap on 13th month pay merely recovers what was lost to inflation

MANILA-The senator who introduced the amendment to raise to P82,000 the tax exemption cap for 13th month pay and other bonuses says the amount merely restores the value of the peso which has been lost to inflation since 1994.

Sen. Ralph Recto, principal author of the bill increasing the no-tax zone on bonuses, said the peso has lost two-thirds of its value over the past 20 years.

“One peso in 1994 is worth 36 centavos today. Adjusted to inflation, the P30,000 then should be P82,300 today. That is why we peg the new cap at P82,000,” Recto said.

The P30,000 cap entered the tax code in 1994 when, Recto recalled, “the minimum jeepney fare was P1.50, rice was P13 a kilo, bread was sold for P7 a loaf, gasoline was priced at P8.50 a liter, a can of sardines was P6.”

He said the P30,000 was set so that it could cover the highest salary in the government then which that of the President who was then receiving P25,000 a month.

“The idea was that when all government employees get their 13th month pay, it will be in full and without tax deduction.”

Recto said the hike in the tax exempt cap should not be viewed as a revenue loss for the government but as “income gained by the workingman.”

“And even if his 13th month pay is tax-exempt upon receipt, it will be taxable when spent, so tax not withheld at source will later be captured in the form of sales tax at points of sale,” the senator explained.

Another good point of the bill passed by the Senate on Second Reading on Tuesday is that the tax cap on the 13th month pay and other benefits will now be indexed to inflation.

“There is now automatic adjustment every three years,” he said.

“This means the adjustment is a mandatory executive action. No need to run to Congress for a law setting a higher threshold,” Recto said. 


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