Thursday, 26 February 2009

PIA Dispatch - Thursday, February 26, 2009

PGMA exhorts private sector to sustain investments to shield RP from global crisis

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo called on the private sector to help the government insulate the Philippines from the global economic crisis by continuing their investments and taking advantage of the country’s stable and secure fiscal and economic position.

In her address before the gathering of top local and international investors during the “Philippine Economic Briefing” at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City, the President said that the economic and fiscal reforms instituted by her administration have shielded the country from the wave of challenges since last year, such as the huge spike in food, fuel and rice prices, and now, global financial crisis.

Because of these reforms, the President said the Philippines registered an 8 percent GNP (gross national product) growth rate in 2007.

With the country’s sound fiscal management and prudent monetary policies, the President said she remains hopeful that the continued partnership with the private sector and the resiliency of the Filipino people would help insulate the country from the continuing global financial crisis.

Pangulong Arroyo, sinabihan ang Pribadong Sektor na tulungang pangalagaan ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas laban sa nararanasang global crisis

Pinakiusapan ni Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ang mga nasa Pribadong Sektor na tulungan ang gobyernong pangalagaan ang ekonomiya ng bansa laban sa nararanasang global economic crisis. Ito ay sa pamamagitan ng pagpapatuloy ng kanilang investments sa bansa, lalo pa’t nagpapamalas ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas ng katatagan at seguridad na pam-pinansiyal.

Sa naganap na pagpupulong ng mga pangunahing local at foreign investors sa Dusit Thani Hotel sa Makati, ipinagmalaki ng Pangulo ang kaniyang mga ipinatupad na economic at fiscal reforms na siya ngayong nagiging dahilan kung bakit patuloy na nagiging matatag ang ekonomiya ng bansa sa kabila ng sunod-sunod na suliraning pang-ekonomiya sa buong daigdig.

Dagdag pa ng Pangulo, dahil sa mga repormang kaniyang ipinatupad ay nagtala ang Pilipinas ng 8 percent GNP growth nuong 2007.

Naniniwala ang Pangulo na mananatiling matatag ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas dahil sa Sound Fiscal Management at Prudent Monetary policies ng Pamahalaan.

PGMA ensures college education for best public HS graduates

Through President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s “One Town, One Scholar” Program, poor but deserving public high school graduates who will be chosen as their municipalities’ “Town Scholar” or “Iskolar ng Bayan” can now be assured of a college education in a state university or college. 

The program aims to ensure that the best public high school graduate from every municipality, especially those who have no financial means, will get a college education,” 

All town scholars will each receive a scholarship for a four or five-year college degree program, including free tuition and transportation and living allowances, not exceeding P15,000 per semester for SY 2009-2010 and every year thereafter. The Town Scholar, however, must pass the state college or university’s entrance examination.

After graduating, the Town Scholar should render a return service for one year for every year of study grant within the country, with priority within the municipality of his/her residence.

The minimum qualifications for becoming a Town Scholar are: (a) a natural born Filipino citizen residing in the municipality/town; (b) graduating student of a public high school in the municipality/town; (c) belongs to the top 10 of the graduating class of a public school in said municipality; (d) with a combined gross annual family income below P300,000; and, (e) possesses good moral character and good health.

The Town Scholar shall carry a full semestral/trimestral load as prescribed in the course curriculum and finish within the subscribed duration of the course; enroll only in CHED-identified priority programs, preferably in a SUC near the municipality, and should not shift to another course or school, except for meritorious reasons. He/she should maintain an average of 2.0 in all subjects, with a grade of not less than 2.75 per subject, in order to be retained in the Program.

Interested applicants must submit their letters of application to their respective schools, subject to the screening and selection process agreed upon by Municipal/Town Head and DepED and in addition to the programs’ minimum requirements. Period for application, screening and selection of grantees at the municipal town level is from March 1 to April 15, 2009. 

Fast-track 17 projects in Luzon Urban Beltway

President Arroyo has ordered the fast-tracking of the remaining 17 priority projects in the Luzon Urban Beltway (LUB) to make the region an “investment haven.”

Mrs. Arroyo issued the order during the full Cabinet meeting here the other day where she ordered the LUB to be “a seamless priority infrastructure project.”

Mrs. Arroyo said, “Seamless means joining south Luzon as far as Batangas to northern Luzon with a series of world-class road systems through the STAR Tollway system linked with the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and the C-5 road and the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX).”

She instructed the Cabinet to make the LUB an “investment-friendly hub” as the region contributes at least 55 percent to the Gross Domestic Product and is considered the prime industrial and financial region of the country.

Sec. Eduardo Pamintuan of the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development told reporters that 13 out of the 38 priority projects in the LUB worth P39 billion have been completed. Among the completed projects are the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, the Subic Bay Port, the STAR Tollway, and the Batangas and Marinduque ports. The LUB projects cost a total of P180 billion.

Pagtapos sa 17 proyekto sa Luzon Urban Beltway, pinabibilisan ni Presidente Arroyo

Ipinag-utos ni Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ang pagtapos sa nalalabing 17 priority projects na siyang magtatanghal sa Luzon Urban Beltway (LUB) para maging isang “investment haven.”

Sinabi ng Pangulo sa kanyang ginanap na Cabinet Meeting sa Pampanga nag awing “seamless priority infrastructure project” ang Luzon Urban Beltway.

Nilalayon ng proyektong Luzon Urban Beltway na pag-ugnayin ang Northern Luzon at Southern Luzon sa pamamagitan ng mga world-class na road system. Kasama na rito ang North Luzon at South Luzon Expressway, at ang C-5.

Ayon kay Sec. Eduardo Pamintuan ng Subic-Clark Alliance for Development, sa 38 priority projects ng LUB, 31 na ang natapos. Ang mga ito ay ang Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, ang Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, ang Subic Bay Port, ang STAR Tollway, at ang Batangas at Marinduque ports. Ang LUB projects ay nagkakahalaga ng P180 billion.

Pork is safe, hog raisers guarantee consumers

Pork lovers have nothing to fear: they can still enjoy their favorite lechon, adobo and sinigang na baboy 

The National Federation of Hog Farmers in the Philippines said hogs all over the country are safe to eat because government has contained the Ebola Reston Virus in a piggery in Bulacan. 

But just to calm down worried consumers, Hog farmer federation President Albert Lim advised people to cook their pork dishes well before eating it. 

Furthermore, he said authorities will make sure that the affected 6,000 pigs will be disposed properly and will not be sold in markets. 

The Bulacan provincial government, along with the Department of Agriculture, has set the culling of the affected pigs tomorrow in accordance with acceptable standards of disposing animals. 

Lim said the incident in Pandi will not even raise market prices because the affected hogs represents a very a small percentage as compared to the total hog population.  

Based on their Php 108 farm gate prices, Lim estimated that pork retail prices should not go beyond Php 170 per kilogram.  

Meanwhile, authorities are keeping a close watch on 31 farm hands that were infected with the Ebola Reston Virus. 

Experts are puzzled on how the virus was transmitted from the affected pigs to the workers who appeared healthy and without signs of sickness. 

Ebola Reston Virus is known to be non-pathogenic to humans.

Ligtas kainin ang baboy, tiniyak ng mga hog raiser

Pwede pa ring mag-litson, mag-adobo o mag-sinigang na baboy.

Ito ang ginawang pagtiyak ng National Federation of Hog Farmers in the Philippines kasabay pagsasabing kontrolado ng pamahalaan ang Ebola Reston Virus sa iisang babuyan sa Pandi, Bulacan.

Upang mapakalma ang mga nag-aalalang consumers, pinayuhan ni hog federation president Albert Lim na lutuin mabuti ang kanilang ulam na baboy bago kainin. 

Bukod pa rito, sinabi ni Lim na tiniyak ng mga awtoridad na ang may anim na libong baboy na apektado ng Ebola Reston Virus ay hindi makakarating sa mga palengke.

 Itinakda ng pamahalaang panglalawigan ng Bulacan, kasama ang Department of Agriculture, ngayong biernes ang pagpatay sa mga apektadong baboy alinsunod sa mga pamantayan ng pagliligpit ng mga hayop. 

Ani Lim, ang insidente sa Pandi ay hindi sapat para itaas ang presyo ng baboy sa palengke dahil napakaliit lamang ng bilang ng mga ito kumpara sa kabuuong bilang ng mga baboy sa buong bansa.  

Batay sa kanilang Php 108 farm gate prices, tinaya ni Lim na ang retail price ng baboy ay hindi dapat lumagpas ng Php 170 kada kilo.

Samantala, mahigpit na binabantayan naman ng mga awtoridad ang kalagayan ng 31 manggagawa ng babuyan na nahawaan ng Ebola Reston Virus. 

Palaisipan pa rin sa mga eksperto kung paano nailipat ang virus sa mga manggawa mula sa mga baboy.

Hanggang ngayon ay walang nakikitang sintomas ng karamdaman sa mga manggagawa.

Ang Ebola Reston Virus ay hindi nakakapagdulot ng sakit sa mga tao. #

3 big projects in NLAQ Super Region for completion end of 2009 or early 2010 - Yap 

Dagupan City, Feb. 26 (PNA) - Three big projects in the Northwest Luzon Growth Quadrangle (NLAQ) Super Region worth billions of pesos, are set for completion by the end of 2009 or early 2010, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said. 

Speaking to newsmen in Dagupan City on Wednesday night, Yap said these include the Agno River Integrated Irrigation Project (ARIIP) in Pangasinan, Halsema Highway from Baguio to Mountain Province and Tabuk-Tinglayan Road in Kalinga. 

Yap, who was designated development czar for NLAQ, said slowly, these projects are now being completed. 

NLAQ covers the whole of Ilocos Region, Cordillera, Region 2 and part of Region 3. 

Yap explained that the Alaminos Airport was not included in the medium-term plan for NLAQ but it remains a part of the priority programs of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. 

He, however, is in quandary if the Alaminos Airport is included in the 2009 budget and if not, he said it will surely be included in the 2010 budget. 

But Yap expressed confidence that for year 2009, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has allocated a start-up budget. 

He recalled that when he was Presidential Management Staff in 2006, he was the one who included the project in the list of priorities of President Arroyo. 

NLAQ is expected to produce food for the other four Super Regions, particularly the Metro Manila Beltway, including Southern China.

PGMA urges vice mayors to work closely with national government to soften impact of crisis

Cagayan de Oro City (PND) - Citing the critical role local officials play in building up the economy, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today urged the country's vice mayors to work hand-in-hand with the national government to soften the impact of the global crisis on the Philippines.

Addressing the 18th National Convention of the Vice Mayors League of the Philippines held at the Pryce Plaza Hotel here, the President said that while the country has been able to weather the global financial turmoil thus far, "it is not the time for laying back but rather to step up to the challenge and work hard to ensure the nation’s bright economic future.

"Let us work together to ensure that our nation's finite though larger resources are able to meet the objective of improving the lives of the people of your constituencies and the entire Philippines, " the President said.

Pointing out that success can only be achieved through real team effort, the Chief Executive said that the national government will always do its part in protecting the interests of the people especially during these trying economic times, while relying on the local governments to step up and seize the opportunities that her administration has created.

"Working together, we have created a better deal, if you will, than many countries in the region, which have not yet devolved power to the local governments," she said.

Likewise, the President asked the vice mayors to continue investing more of their municipal revenues in the future of local government units (LGUs).

"The sum total of all that is the nation's future," she said.

The President said the various programs of the government have successfully bore fruit through the support of the local officials.

"The local governments have helped build our economy's reputation as an island of stability' in an otherwise stormy global sea of economic troubles. You have played a crucial part in the country's impressive growth," she said.

The President also urged the local officials to spend their internal revenue allotment (IRA) wisely.

At present, she said, the local governments are enjoying the biggest increase of their IRA -- P40-billion in all, owing to the three-year lag in the computation of the LGUs' share of the Expanded Valued Added Tax (VAT) from 2006.

"The IRA is your primary tool to serve your constituencies. Used it correctly, it will go a long way towards ensuring that our people will get the kind of local government they want," she said.

The President thanked the local government officials for their full support for her administration, saying "your commitment to the economy of your constituencies and to the economy of the Philippines will continue to pay dividends for many years to come."

CAMANAVA flood control project President Arroyo's legacy to Malabon residents, says city exec

Malabon City Waste Management Committee (MCWMC) chair and anti-flooding advocate Gloria Tamayo said the completion this year of the Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela (CAMANAVA) flood control program would be a major legacy of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to residents of this areas.  

The project is being pursued under the Luzon Urban Beltway program that is included in the President's Super Regions scheme.
Tamayo said completion of the CAMANAVA flood control program will give much needed relief to the residents, particularly in Malabon, who are perennially saddled by the almost daily occurrence of flooding in their areas. 

Likewise, Tamayo said the immediate completion of the almost P10-billion CAMANAVA flood control project could spark an economic renaissance in the coastal city of Malabon that is home to almost 340,000 people. 

She told the Philippines News Agency in a telephone interview that real estate investors and property developers are now starting to train their sights on Malabon after learning that the CAMANAVA flood control project is just months away from completion. 

The MCWMC chair noted that a property development corporation is now in the midst of constructing a condominium style dwelling in Malabon’s Barangays (villages) Concepcion and Catmon in the Governor Pascual Avenue district. 

Tamayo said the realtor decided to go ahead with his development project after learning of the CAMANAVA flood control project's impending completion and anti-flooding programs being undertaken by Malabon Mayor Canuto Tito Oreta which includes elevation of city roads prone to flooding, declogging of drainage pipes and canals and continuous modernization of existing anti-flooding infrastructures as well as construction of new facilities to combat flooding in the city’s 21 barangays. 

If a realtor would throw in millions of pesos in condominium projects on word that the CAMANAVA flood control project is just months away from completion, just imagine the economic stimulus of fully completed and operational anti-flood project would be, Tamayo said. 

She said that investors and businessmen traditionally look on Malabon to set up their investments as the city is near major and commercial centers like Makati and Quezon City and Port Area, Manila but were stymied from setting up their businesses due to the almost daily occurrence of flooding in the area caused by the fact that a major portion of the city is situated almost two meters below sea level and surrounded by tidal bodies of water like the Tullahan, Malabon and Manila Bay. 

Tamayo lauded President Arroyo and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the CAMANAVA flood control project that is poised to end the flooding problems which have affected generations of Malabon City residents. 

Completion of this vital anti-flooding program means so much to us Malabon residents who for generations have suffered much from flooding, she further pointed out. 

Malabon public information chief Bong Padua concurred with the observation of the MCWMC chair Tamayo. 

If CAMANAVA control project would be completed anytime this year, and flooding equation, totally eliminated, investors from the banking, financial, construction and property development sector would be more than willing to invest and create jobs in Malabon, Padua added. 

We are hoping that the national government and DPWH would soon complete the remaining 12 percent of the project so that Mayor Oreta could finally tell investors that we had the flooding problem licked here, he further said. 

Padua made the remark after recalling Oreta’s strenuous efforts in trying to convince big businessmen only to be balked by the latter on the flooding problem. 

They (investors) would tell Mayor Oreta to get back to them when he had the flooding problem solved. If the CAMANAVA flood control project would only get on-line or operational anytime this year, we would be more than willing to go back and tell, the Malabon public information chief further said. 

He also said that completion of this vital anti-flood infrastructure would also erase the almost traditional television scenes of Malabon residents having to wade through waist-deep flood just to get home to their families in the event of strong typhoons and heavy rains. 

It would be like putting a ghost to rest, Padua remarked. 

The CAMANAVA Flood Control and Drainage System Improvement Project is made up of strategically constructed pumping stations, floodgates and dikes to prevent flood waters from entering low lying areas. 

The project covers the 18.50 square kilometers of CAMANAVA’s flood-prone areas. 

The DPWH earlier said that the CAMANAVA Flood Control and Drainage System Improvement Project (CFCDSIP) is already 88 percent complete. 

It added that the remaining 12 percent of the project will soon begin operations. The unfinished portion will be funded by "local contractors." 

The CFCDSIP was initially funded through a grant from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) Special Yen Loan Package in 2000. (PNA) 

Subic’s New Container Terminal-1 begins to spur growth in Luzon

Subic’s New Container Terminal-1 (NCT-1) is beginning to spur growth among industries in Luzon that need to widen their reach in the global market. 

Already, actual collections by the Subic seaport in 2008 reached P276.24 million, which is 21 percent higher than the P228.21-million target for 2008, according to retired Captain Perfecto Pascual, who heads the Seaport Department of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA). 

He noted that since NCT-1 started its operations in April 2008, it has tremendously contributed to the revenue upsurge, as the facility rakes in some P4.3 million into the SBMA Seaport’s coffers monthly. 

Pascual noted that updating of shipping fees being collected in the Port of Subic likewise helped, along with the decision of the SBMA to modify its policy on vessel and cargo charges, including those levied on the Philippine Coastal Corp, whose exemption from paying said fees was cancelled in the fourth quarter of 2007. 

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said NCT-1, which comprises the first phase of Subic’s $ 215-million port development project under the Super Regions program of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, has a cargo-handling capacity of 300,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) and is now primed to position Subic Bay as the new maritime logistics center of the Philippines. 

Now that the infrastructure are in place, it would be easier to attract foreign investments and boost local trade at the same time, he added. 

The NCT-1, which is now being operated by the Subic Bay International Terminal Corp. (SBITC), has already unloaded shipment deliveries from the port of Kaoshiung in Taiwan. 

The commercial operation of the NCT-1 boosts Subic’s bid to attract more investments and become a major catalyst in propelling economic growth in the country. 

SBITC vice chairman Francisco Delgado III said, Subic is now fully-equipped to attract, foster and support industries, and it is a key to an industrialized Philippines. 

NCT-1 will provide the global link needed by industries in the Central and Northern Luzon growth corridor, he added. 

Pascual said despite the global economic downturn, the SBMA Seaport expects a revenue of P316.3 million this year, compared to actual revenue collections of P276.24 million in 2008. 

The slowdown in the shipping industry, ironically, turns out good for the Port of Subic since shipping lines began to use Subic Bay as a place to lay by their vessels, he said. 

As of last count, 22 vessels are laid up in Subic Bay to wait out the recession. The SBMA Seaport earns about P6 million monthly from these idle ships, Pascual noted. 

Subic’s container port and the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) at the neighboring Clark Freeport are the key ingredients to government efforts in transforming the former Subic and Clark military bases into a globally-competitive service and logistics hub in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Subic’s port and Clark’s airport are now connected by the 94-kilometer Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, which plays a crucial role in facilitating the efficient transfer of raw materials, products and services between the two free ports and other industrial areas in Luzon. (PNA) 

Government to build over 2,000 kms of farm-to-market roads

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is building starting this week various farm-to-market roads (FMRs) spanning over 2,000 kilometers nationwide that will create an estimated 53,000 jobs as part of the Arroyo administration’s economic stimulus program designed to help Filipinos weather the global economic slowdown that is expected to worsen this year. 

DA Secretary Arthur Yap said that besides creating more jobs, the projects are also expected to benefit over 212,000 farmers in food-producing and hunger-prone areas across the country. 

President Arroyo ordered the DA and other agencies last January to frontload labor-intensive projects in line with her P330-billion economic resiliency program that is meant to stimulate the domestic economy and generate about 1.5 million jobs by midyear alone. 

Yap, who is the Cabinet coordinator for President Arroyo’s Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP) in Northern Luzon and Bohol, said that more than half of the total length of these FMRs would be built in Central Philippines and the Mindanao Super Region, where major food production sites are located. 

The 567.60 kilometers of FMRs to be built in Central Philippines are expected to benefit 56,760 farmers and create 14,190 new jobs, while the 536.94 kilometers of roads in Mindanao will have 53,694 direct farmer-beneficiaries and require 13,424 workers. 

The North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle, where Yap has been designated by the President as its development champion, will have 420.80 kilometers of new FMRs that will benefit 42,080 farmers and generate 10,520 jobs while 366.80 kilometers of FMRs will be constructed in the Metro Luzon Urban Beltway, which include Central Luzon, to help 36,680 farmers and create 9,170 jobs. 

Another 230.80 kilometers of FMRs will be constructed in other priority areas identified by the DA, which will create 5,770 jobs and benefit 23,080 farmers. 

Yap said that in compliance with the provisions of the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) Program, these FMR projects worth a collective total of P5.3 billion will be located within Key Production Areas (KPA), marginal lands or new sites under convergence initiatives which link these areas to higher road class systems and major markets or trading posts. 

These FMRs will also be constructed in sites that link other non-convergence areas within the Strategic Agricultural and Fisheries Development Zones (SAFDZs), Community-Based Forest Management Agreements (CBFMAs), and Agrarian Reform Communities (ARCs) to markets and trading posts; and may be located within the areas identified by the National Nutrition Council (NNC) as very vulnerable areas, in line with the hunger mitigating measures of the government or within peace-conflicted areas. 

Yap had earlier ordered DA regional directors to immediately bid out its labor-intensive, high-impact projects in keeping with President Arroyo’s CLEEP. 

The plan, said Yap, is for the DA to speed up the implementation of these intervention projects in the first semester of the year to create a lot of jobs and stimulate economic activity in the countryside by the time the full brunt of the global financial crisis is expected to be felt in the Philippines.
He noted that expediting the bidding process would help speed up the release of funds for such projects, given that under government auditing rules, no disbursements can be made unless the bidding processes are completed and the winning bidders are named. 

Yap said the DA would closely monitor the implementation of its high-impact projects to ensure the judicious disbursement of funds particularly to its program partners in the private sector. 

He has already created national and regional monitoring teams to conduct "periodic field validation and rapid appraisal" of the Department's intervention measures under its banner program Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA), and the adoption of stringent guidelines on the release of funds to program partners like nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and people's organizations (POs). 

To maximize the use of DA funds, Yap said the DA is also shifting its focus this year on hard or "big-ticket" projects covering irrigation maintenance, postharvest facilities, FMRs and rural extension work, in lieu of "soft" projects like fertilizer support to farmers. 

For instance, instead of the fertilizer discount coupons that the DA gave out in 2008 to farmer-beneficiaries in partnership with local government units (LGUs), the Department is providing organic fertilizer manufacturing support to farmers in 2,600 clusters or sites where the DA is channeling a bulk of its funds for intervention measures in 2009. 

These clusters of adjacent or neighboring farms are spread out across 48 provinces mostly in rainfed areas where per-hectare yields are below the national average of 3.8 tons of palay per hectare. (PNA)

Comelec to push for full computerization, called on legislators to pass supplemental budget in April

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) called on legislators to pass in April the supplemental budget for the 2010 elections. 

Comelec Chair Jose Melo said the poll body needs enough time to do pre-election preparations that include the bidding of the automated voting machines. 

The poll body proposed a Php11.302 billion supplemental budget on top of a Php5.3 billion allocation in the 2009 national budget. 

Out of the Php 11.302 billion, Php 9.960 billion will be used for purchasing automated poll machines. 

The Senate finance committee will support Comelec’s proposed supplemental budget without conditions.

However, the committee wanted to hold Comelec accountable in ensuring transparency in the requisition of the technology to be used in the elections and the choice of the service provider. 

At the House of the Representatives, a special piece of legislation is expected to be filed on Friday in support of the poll body’s proposed supplemental budget that has survived the second reading. 

This piece of legislation, to be crafted by a special house panel, would detail the manner of voting, mode of canvassing, and transmission of ballots.

The House is more inclined to support a mixed technology for the elections. 

However, Comelec would try to convince the House to go for full computerization to avoid an extra Php 2 Billion expenses and prevent opportunities for election results manipulation. #

COMELEC igigiit ang full computerization, nananawagan sa mga mambabatas na ipasa ang supplemental budget sa Abril

Nananawagan ang Commission on Elections (Comelec) sa Senado at Kamara de Representante na ipasa ngayong abril ang supplemental budget para sa Halalan sa 2010. 

Ayon kay Comelec Chair Jose Melo, kailangan nila ng sapat na panahon sa paghahanda sa election kabilang na rito ang pagsasagawa ng bidding para sa pagbili ng mga automated voting machine. 

Isinulong ng Comelec ang Php11.302 billion supplemental budget bilang pandagdag sa Php5.3 billion na pondo mula sa 2009 pambansang badyet. 

Mula sa Php 11.302 billion, Php 9.960 billion ang gagamitin para sa pagbili ng mga automated poll machine. 

Naiulat na susuportahan ng Senate finance committee ang panukalang supplemental budget ng Comelec nang walang kundisyon.

Gayumpaman, gusto ng kumite na tiyakin ng Comelec na magiging transparent ang pagpili ng teknolohiyang gagamitin sa halalan at ng kumpanyang magpapatakbo nito. 
Sa Kamara de Representante, isang espeyal na panukalang batas ang inaasahang maisasampa ngayong Biernes.

Ang nasabing panukalang batas, bubuuin ng isang espesyal na panel, ang magbibigay ng detalye sa paraan ng pagboto, anyo ng pagbibilang ng boto at transmission ng balota.

Sinasabing mas pinapoboran ng Kamara ang pinagsamang teknolohiya ng manual at ng computerization sa halalan. 

Gayumpaman, sisikapin ng Comelec na kumbinsihin ang Kamara na suportahan ang full computerization ng halalan para maiwasan hindi lang ang karagdagang gastos na maaring umabot ng Php 2 Billion kundi pati ang mga pagkakataon para mamaniobra ang resulta ng halalan. #

Displaced OFWs optimistic of brighter future

Cagayan del Oro City (PND) - Displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and other job seekers in the regions can look forward to a brighter future as the government intensifies its skills training assistance and provision of livelihood packages for them in the countryside.

In today’s job bridging skills event at SM City here, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo personally led in the delivery of livelihood and training assistance packages to retrenched OFWs from three regions in Mindanao.

For 40-year old Jocelyn D. Cabisan, who returned to the country after losing job as beautician in Dubai, this government initiative inspires and gives her a fresh resolve to start new life. A single mother with two children, she was among the 30 beneficiaries of a P50,000 livelihood assistance package for OFWs.

``I am very thankful to the President for helping us. This is really a big help for my family,`` Cabisan said, adding she will use the money to expand their small sari-sari store in Salay, Misamis Oriental. 

The Chief Executive awarded a total of 33 checks worth P2.7 million as livelihood assistance to OFWs from Mindanao. Of the 33, two checks worth P313,500 went to displaced OFWs from Lanao del Norte under the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating mga Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) project.

Another check amounting to P573,000 was awarded to jobless residents from Lanao del Norte under the government’s Integrated Services for Livelihood Assistance for Marginalized Fisherfolks.

The 30 other checks worth P50,000 each, on the other hand, went to as many 
retrenched OFWs -- 10 from the Davao Region, 10 from Northern Mindanao Region and 10 from the Caraga Region.

Of the beneficiaries, however, Casiban`s future seems much brighter with a new job awaiting her now in Qatar.

``Its nice to hear that. Good luck to you,`` the Chief Executive told Casiban upon knowing she was re-hired as beautician in Qatar.

``I am truly grateful to our government, especially to you, Madam President,`` she said responded.

Under the government’s contingency plan for displaced OFWs, assistance primarily involves helping retrenched workers set up livelihood or income-generating projects or finding them another suitable employment locally or overseas.

Like Cabisan, Gelacio Cabanero and Alex Abragan are also among the lucky job applicants. Cabanero, 39, has been signed on as butcher in Alberta, Canada after undergoing TESDA skills training. He was among the first batch in the city who availed of the PGMA Scholarship Program.

``Congratulations and good luck in your new work,`` the President told Cabanero.

Abragan, on the other hand, was hired on the spot after he readily qualified for the skills specifications by First CPM PERT Manpower Recruitment. ``I am so happy I qualified for the position. Through the government’s training assistance, I was able to get a new job,`` Abragan jubilantly said.

A former security guard, Abragan, 36, will work as heavy equipment operator in Saudi Arabia starting next month. He has just completed his short course in heavy equipment operations at the Skills Mastery Institute here under the PGMA Scholarship Program.

Aside from livelihood assistance, the President likewise turned over a number of PGMA Scholarship Program vouchers to displaced OFWs who need retraining and skills upgrading to qualify for jobs available overseas.

President Arroyo also took time to observe the skills demonstrations in welding, scaffolding and heavy equipment operation. Some 15,000 job items awaited the more than 2,000 jobseekers who trooped to the one-day event here.

PGMA cites LGU efforts in creating investor-friendly environment 

Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur (PND) --- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today cited local government initiatives that helped create investor-friendly environment in their areas of jurisdiction and had significant impact on national economic development.

In a brief remark during her visit to and inspection of the P5.1-billion Sibulan Hydropower Project of Hedcor in Sta.Cruz, Davao del Sur, the President said the 4.2-megawatt hydropower facility is a private sector investment made partly in response to such local government initiatives.

The Chief Executive said the 42.5 MW Sibulan Hydropower Project of Hedcor, an Aboitiz Ventures Inc. subsidiary, will surely help create more jobs and spur development in Mindanao while ensuring the availability of clean and environment- friendly power.

"It is important that local government units create an investor-friendly environment to attract investments such as this," referring to the Sibulan Hydropower Project, the President stressed. 

President Arroyo has repeatedly and consistently stressed the need to attract investments as well as partner with the private sector in major development undertakings.
She thanked Davao del Sur Governor Douglas Cagas, Sibulan Mayor Joel Lopez and Presidential Legal Adviser Jesus Dureza for their efforts in making possible the construction of the Aboitiz hydropower plant that has so far benefited- some 80,000 residents in the area, including some 20,000 indigenous people -- the Bagobo-Tagabawa tribe. 

Since the project started a few years back, Hedcor had already built and repaired several farm-to-market roads and potable water systems, sponsored medical missions and provided educational assistance to the host communities here.

The company has likewise employed some 1,000 locals, including members of indigenous tribes. Its presence in the area has also generated various livelihood opportunities for the locals. 

Arnel Aninipot, a native farmer and father of four, is now employed by Hedcor as community relations officer. Jeorge Concepcion, who shares similar circumstances with Aninipot, said the construction of concrete roads by Hedcor has made him earn more because transporting his farm produce to the market is now much cheaper, easier and convenient.

Leaders of indigenous peoples (IPs) here said they look forward to more direct benefits from the Sibulan Hydropower Project when its starts operation because one percent of its royalty tax to the government will go to livelihood projects for IPs.

President Arroyo noted that with more investments pouring in, the lives of people in countryside communities will vastly improve.

Gov`t to hire 180,000 workers under 6-month emergency employment program

Manila (PND) - Malacanang has set the stage for the temporary employment of 180,000 Filipinos from the middle and middle-low income classes and the poorest of the poor as part of the government’s strategy to cushion the impact of the deepening global financial turmoil.

In Executive Order (EO) No. 738, which Malacanang released today, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo stressed that the 180,000 workers to be hired for six months far exceed the number of job losses of 39,000 since last year as reported by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Under the EO, the President directed all Cabinet members to draw up and prepare emergency work programs, doable and fundable livelihood projects designed to benefit the vulnerable sectors of the population.

She ordered all government agencies to set aside 1.5 percent of their respective allocations for maintenance, overhead and operating expenses for the six-month emergency employment program.

The temporary employees may be assigned to conduct census, surveys, price monitoring and other activities earlier identified in the Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Em0ployment Program (CLEEP), the President said.

Of the 180,000 jobs to be opened, 50,000 will be in Region lV-A and the Bicol provinces; 20,000 in Cebu, Mactan Economic Zones, Leyte and Samar; 20,000 in the Subic and Clark Economic Zones, Pampanga, Tarlac, Bataan and Zambales, and 5,000 in the CARAGA region. The remainder will be ``distributed among the other regions of the country, with priority for the 10 poorest provinces and the 1,000 poorest municipalities. ``

The emergency employment program also includes ``training with income support at half of minimum wage`` in in-demand skills for workers.

Priority will be given to displaced workers as follows: 20,000 female workers from Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon, Camarines provinces and Albay; 5,000 from Region III; 5,000 from Region VII; 5,000 from the CARAGA Region, and 50,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

The income support will provide for meals and transportation of the trainees. In another significant move, the President ordered the integration of the government’s livelihood programs into a one-stop shop under the Regional Livelihood Program Office.

At present these livelihood programs are implemented separately by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Trade and Industry (ADTI), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Finance
(DOF), and Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs).

The President also directed the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to provide opportunities for 250,000 workers over the six-month period.

On the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, the President said, the coverage should be expanded to include the CARAGA and Cordillera regions to ``cover low/no income families and avoid the incidence of child labor, especially in manual mining-intensive areas.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

PIA Dispatch - Wednesday, February 25, 2009

PGMA wants LUB seamless, investment haven

“Let us develop the Luzon Urban Beltway (LUB) a seamless priority infrastructure project.”

This is the standing order of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the recently concluded cabinet meeting at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Clark Filed, Pampanga. The President enjoined the various heads of government agencies and concerned GOCCs and GFIs to fast track the completion of all priority infrastructure projects in the LUB and to closely coordinate with one another to ensure completion of this priority projects by the end of her term.  

The order was a reaction to the thorough presentation made by Secretary Eduardo Pamintuan, Luzon Urban Beltway Super Region Champion and Chair of the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development on the achievements and developments in the Luzon Urban Beltway Super Region and that of the SCAD. 

PGMA said that seamless means joining South Luzon as far as Batangas to Northern Luzon with a series of world-class road systems through the Star Tollways system linked with the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and the SLEX-C5-NLEX.

PGMA also instructed her cabinet to make LUB an investment friendly hub more so because the Luzon Urban Beltway Super Region contributes at least 55% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country and is considered the prime industrial and financial region of the country. 

RP inches towards energy security

Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur (PND)-- The government’s energy security thrust designed to hike the country’s energy sufficiency to 60 percent by 2010 and contribute significantly to the reduction in damaging carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere is on track.

The energy security thrust has found solid support in Hedcor, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Aboitiz Ventures, Inc. which has invested P5.1 billion in the Sibulan Hydropower Project located in Barangay Sibulan here. The project is one of the biggest investments of the Aboitiz Group in the power sector.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is scheduled to visit the Sibulan Hydropower Project site here Thursday (February 26) morning. The project which will tap the water flow of the Sibulan and Baroring rivers in Davao del Sur, has a designed power generating capacity of 42.5 megawatts.

The hydro project’s engineering scheme appeals to local folks here because it involves no dam construction and no water impounding, and therefore no undue risks of flooding or people displacements in cases of technical accidents or force majeure.

The facility is expected to generate a sizable volume of clean or ``green energy`` annually for the Mindanao Grid, and help address the global threat of global warming and climate change since it will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Hydropower generation produces essentially no carbon dioxide or other harmful emissions, unlike burning fossil fuels.

Earlier, President Arroyo said energy security demands the development of indigenous and renewable sources, including geothermal, domestic oil and gas, solar, wind, wave and biofuels. Harnessing renewable energy comprises a critical component of the government’s energy security strategy. 

Increased power generation from geothermal, hydro and other indigenous resources has significantly reduced the country’s dependence on imported fossil fuels. The government has likewise tapped renewable energy sources such as solar, micro-hydro, wind and biomass resources in its rural electrification efforts.

The Department of Energy (DOE) said renewable energy is foreseen to satisfy 40 percent of the country’s primary energy requirements over a ten-year period beginning in 2003.

Biomass, micro-hydro, solar and wind will remain as major contributors to the total share of renewable energy in the energy mix with an average share of 27.5 percent, according to the DOE. Hydro and geothermal will account for the balance of the indigenously generated energy.

Given the country’s vast hydropower potential, it is projected that more than 10 percent of the country’s electricity requirements can be supplied by hydropower.

With the Renewable Energy Law in place, observers said the Philippines is on track in its quest to wean itself away from imported fossil fuel that accounts for most of the country’s air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Displaced OFWs from Mindanao to get P2.7 million for livelihood projects

Cagayan de Oro City (PND) – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will distribute here tomorrow (Thursday) 31 checks worth P2.7 million as livelihood assistance to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Mindanao who lost their jobs in the aftermath of the global economic crisis.

Of the 31 checks to be distributed by the President at the SM City here, one check worth Pl.2 million will go to displaced OFWs from Lanao del Norte under the Tulong Panghanap Buhay sa Ating Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) project.

The 30 other checks worth P50,000 each will be divided among 30 retrenched OFWs -- 10 from the Davao Region, 10 from Northern Mindanao Region and 10 from the Caraga Region.

Aside from the livelihood assistance, the Chief Executive will also turn over Pangulong Gloria Scholarship vouchers to displaced OFWs for retraining and skills upgrading to prepare them for jobs overseas.

"We are putting up this skills and job event in Mindanao to assist Mindanaoans who have lost their jobs in the aftermath of the worldwide economic crunch," TESDA Director General Boboy Syjuco said.

Some 2,150 returning OFWs, jobseekers and technical vocational education and training (TVET) graduates from the three regions in Mindanao are expected to attend the whole-day event and take advantage of the government's employment training and livelihood program.

"The job of TESDA and its partner-companies may involve re-tooling our displaced workers and re-matching them to available jobs or retraining them for livelihood skills," Syjuco said.

He said that among the most in-demand workers today are welders, aircraft mechanics, animation artists, software developers and other business process outsourcing (BPO) workers.

Forty regional and Manila-based recruitment and manpower placement agencies are joining the event, dubbed as Jobs Bridging, Skill Retraining.

Nine TVET institution and enterprise partners will also participate in the skills retraining program which offers such short courses as welding, heavy equipment and machine operations, construction works and slaughtering.

The event is being organized by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO).

PGMA urge private sector to help protect RP from global recession
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo encouraged the private sector to continue investing in the country to cushion the impact of global economic slow down.
At the Philippine Economic Briefing in Makati, the President said cooperation between government and private sector is necessary to survive the economic storm that affected the world.
The President said the country is ripe for investment because is in a better economic position as compared to others because of the economic reforms instituted in the past years.
In 2007, the Philippines generated an 8.0 percent GNP growth. In 2008, the country managed to pull up a 6.1 percent GNP growth at the time when world was in recession. 
The President added that in the fourth quarter of 2008, the Philippine Gross Domestic Product (GDP) went up by 4.5 percent while other economies’ GDPs have fallen.
“Working together, we have created a better deal, if you will, than many countries in the region. So now I call upon the leaders of our private sector to take up the challenge at this important time: Join your government and continue to invest in our nation’s future. Work with us to ensure that our nation’s limited resources are able to meet the objective of improving the lives of the people of the Philippines,” the President said.
PGMA, hinikayat ang pribadong sektor na mamuhuhan sa Pilipinas
Hinikayat ng Pangulong Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ang mga negosyante na mamuhunan sa Pilipinas upang protektahan ang bansa sa nagaganap na recession sa buong mundo.
Sa Philippine Economic Briefing sa Makati, ipinaliwanag ng Pangulo na mahalagang magpatuloy ang kooperasyon sa pagitan ng pamahalaan at ng pribadong sektor upang maibsan ang epekto ng global recession.
Sinabi ng Pangulo na hinog ang bansa sa pamumuhunan dahil ang mas maganda ang katayuan ng Pilipinas kumpara sa iba bunga ng mga ipinatupad na repormang pang-ekonomiya sa mga nakalipas na panahon.  
Ikinuwento ng Pangulo na noong 2007 umakyat ng 80 porsiyento ang Gross National Product (GNP). Pagsapit ng 2008, nakahatak pa ang bansa ng anim na porsiyento na GNP sa panahon binalot ng recession ang mundo.
Idinagdag ng Pangulo na noong fourth quarter ng 2008, umakyat pa ang Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ng hanggang apat at kalahating porsiyento habang nakalugmok ang GDP ng iba pang mga bansa. #

Job hunts topped 23rd EDSA I celebration
Job hunters trooped to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Wednesday where a job fair was held in celebration of the EDSA People Power I.  
More than 20 companies including five sea-based companies participated.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo visited POEA to mingle with the applicants who are mostly displaced workers.
Some of these displaced workers secured jobs in Dubai and in Singapore.
The President found out that some of the displaced workers are now working at home after learning new trades such as food processing and perfume making.
Government has been staging job fairs in response to the unemployment caused by global recession.

Before POEA, the Department of Public Works and Highways started holding job fair last Monday where more than 3,000 people got hired.  

Earlier, Vice President Noli De Castro led the flag raising ceremony at the People Power Monument to kick off the EDSA People Power I celebration.
Also present during the rites were Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senator Gringo Honasan and Former President Fidel Valdez Ramos who demonstrated again his famous jump in 1986.
Yesterday, the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation inaugurated the Aklatan ng Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City as part of the nationwide commemoration of EDSA People Power I.
The library aims to honor the memories of people who fought the Marcos Administration during Martial Law. #
EDSA People Power I, ipinagdiwang ng pamahalaan sa pamamagitan ng job fairs
Dinumog ng mga aplikanteng na naghahanap ng trabaho ang Philippine Overseas Employment Administration kung saan isang job fair ang ginanap bilang pagdiriwang sa unang EDSA people power.
Mahigit sa dalawampung kumpanya kabilang ang limang sea-based agency ang lumahok sa job fair kung saan maraming nakakuha ng trabaho sa Dubai at sa Singapore.
Kabilang sa mga pumunta sa job fair ang Pangulong Gloria Macapagal Arroyo para makisalamuha sa mga job seeker na karamihan naging biktima ng global recession.
Napag-alaman ng Pangulo na mayroong manggagawa na sa halip namasukan ay nagnegosyo matapos matutunan ang mga bagong kabuhayan tulad ng food processing at perfume making.  
Ang pagdadaraos ng mga job fair ay bahagi ng kampanya ng pamahalaan para labanan ang kawalan ng trabaho dulot ng global recession.
Bago ang POEA, unang nagsagawa ng job fair ang Department of Public Works and Highways noong Lunes kung saan mahigit sa 3,000 katao ang nakakuha ng trabaho.  

Una rito, pinagunahan ni Vice President Noli De Castro ang pagwawagayway ng bandila sa People Power Monument para simulan ang pagdiriwang ng EDSA People Power I.
Kasama ng Pangalawang Pangulo sina Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senador Gringo Honasan at Dating Pangulong Fidel Valdez Ramos na ipinakita muli ang kanyang paglundag katulad ng kanyang ginawa noong 1986.
Kahapon, pinasinayaan ng Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation ang Aklatan ng Bantayog ng mga Bayani sa Quezon City bilang bahagi ng paggunita sa EDSA People Power I.
Ang aklatan ay naglalayong sariwain ang mga alaala ng mga kalaban ng Administrasyong Marcos noong pinairal ang Batas Militar. #

RP in a race against economic challenges – PGMA

Manila (PND)--President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said today that the Philippines is in a race against economic challenges and the country must move quickly ``if we are to ensure that our economy stays on path.``

Addressing a gathering of local and international investors at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City this morning, the President said her administration will act with deliberate haste to address these challenges at a time of deepening global economic crunch.

Pursuing her theme that there’s no time to waste, the President said in a message beamed to government leaders: ``Let’s not wait for Congress to pass this or that because we have lump sums in our budget,`` referring to the government’s economic stimulus program.

``Let’s not wait for the private sector to come up with their part of the promised P100-billion private sector fund. Let’s work on our P50-billion
contribution, `` she added.

The President assured the nation that the massive spending to further stimulate the economy and sustain economic growth will not be made at the expense of fiscal prudence.

``We cannot abandon our hard-fought gains in fiscal discipline. We may increase the deficit, yes, but it must be a finite number and not the sky is the limit. We must have a projection, a ceiling that we will stay under.``

``We are well aware that that we must both spend wisely and be prudent if we are to leave our country in a healthy condition for the next generation. That is the road we were on before the onset of this global crisis. That is the road on which we would like the country to continue when this challenge has passed,`` she stressed.

The President admitted that the global financial crisis now appears to be worse than most people had anticipated. But she pointed out that she remains cautiously optimistic that the Philippines can be insulated from the full blow that most of the world is now experiencing.

``Yet, we realize that with each passing day, that objective becomes a greater challenge and therefore we must always be ready to innovate,`` she said.

She said that the biggest challenge confronting the country is the ``challenge of jobs.``

Before proceeding to Dusit Thani Hotel to address the ``Philippine Economic Briefing,`` the President said she dropped by at the jobs fair being held at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) along Ortigas Ave. in Mandaluyong City where she had an interaction with Filipino workers some of whom were recruited on the spot for employment abroad.

She said she hoped that the employment numbers for Filipinos abroad will continue and so far, there has not been a major slump. Last year, 5,500
Filipino expatriate workers lost their jobs but that number remains largely the same.

Since last year, 39,000 domestic workers, mostly in the export sector like electronics, garments, auto parts, and mining have been displaced. The good news is 3,000 new jobs are being processed daily, she said.

Moreover, the President said that many displaced workers are finding new job opportunities as self-employed. Some have gone into food processing, garments, perfume-making, meat-processing and other livelihood projects.

She said she has been hearing that the Philippines was lucky compared to other countries now caught in the cusp of the global crisis. The thing is ``we worked hard to be lucky. We have been able to cushion the blow today because of the pain we endured yesterday.

``With the support of Congress and our dedicated civil servants, we took the economic reform medicine and improved our banking system, raised revenue, cracked down on smugglers and streamline our revenue system,`` the President said.

New mining jobs opening in Down Under
The Philippines and Australia are set to sign an agreement for new jobs for mining.
Southern Australia is beefing up is mining operations and would be requiring at least 30,000 workers who would be given working visas good for 10 years.
The Department of Labor and Employment said Filipino workers would be the first to benefit in the new job opportunities from Down Under once the agreement is signed after holy week.
Since joblessness is an offspring of global financial crunch, government continues to search for opportunities for employment for Filipinos.
In Mandaluyong City, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo celebrated EDSA People Power I with job hunters at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Job Fair.
The President said the spirit of EDSA people power I would guide the country in confronting the challenges of global recession.  
At least 16 land-based and five sea-based agencies participated at the POEA Job Fair.
POEA is processing an average of 3,000 job placements every day.

Australia, magbubukas ng mga bagong trabaho sa mga Pinoy.
Nakatakdang lumagda ang Pilipinas at Australia sa isang kasunduan hinggil sa pagkuha ng mga manggagawang Pilipino para sa industriya ng pagmimina.
Palalakasin ng Katimugang Australia ang kanilang mining operation at ito ay mangangailangan ng may 30, 000 manggagawa.
Ang mga naturang manggagawa ay gagawaran ng sampung taong working visa ng Australia.
Inaasahan ng Department of Labor and Employment na malalagdaan ang kasunduan makalipas ang Semana Santa.
Dahil supling ng global recession ang kawalan ng trabaho, patuloy ang pamahalaan sa paghahahanap ng mga oportunidad sa trabaho para sa mga Pilipino.
Sa Mandaluyong, Ipinagdiwang ng Pangulong Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ang anibersaryo ng EDSA People Power I kapiling ang mga naghahanap ng trabaho sa Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
Ayon sa Pangulo, dapat gamitin ang espiritu ng EDSA People Power sa pagharap sa hamon ng global recession.
Sa job fair ng POEA, labing anim na land-based agency at limang sea-based agency ang lumahok.
Halos 3,000 job placements ang inaasikaso ng POEA araw-araw.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

PIA Dispatch - Tuesday, February 24, 2009

PGMA matches Pangasinan town’s school board’s outlay for school improvement projects

BINALONAN, Pangasinan – To demonstrate her appreciation of this town’s efforts to provide quality education for its children, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today pledged to match the Binalonan School Board’s budget for school improvement projects this year with an equal amount.

The President made the commitment during the inauguration of the newly constructed 2-storey 4-classroom school building of the Binalonan South Central School (BSCS) here today (Tuesday).

Under the Local Government Code, local School Boards are allotted a Special Education Fund share from one percent of real property tax revenue which is primarily intended for the improvement and development of school facilities.

Binalonan Mayor Ramon Guico, in a meeting with the President and the Binalonan School Board before the inaugural program, said the BSCS’s Special Education Fund for this year stands at P3.5-million.

“I waited for this program to announce that whatever the local school board will allocate for school improvement and implement the pre-school curriculum, I will give Binalonan an equivalent amount,” the President said to the rousing applause from her audience.

The President said the government is able to put up such matching fund counterpart for noble school projects and programs as a result of her administration’s financial reform agenda such as the Expanded Value Added Tax (E-VAT) law which has also shielded the Philippines from the global recession currently sweeping countries around the world.

“The people of Binalonan have reasons to feel optimistic despite the worsening global economic recession. The structures that enable us to improve our lives had been started even before anyone noticed that a global recession would occur. We had our shields ready; we had installed programs that would increase our yields and allow us to help other provinces even more,” the President said.

President Arroyo thanked the people of Binalonan for their unwavering support and wished them success for their upcoming town fiesta.

“Let us commit ourselves to helping our townmates, our provincemates and the rest of our countrymen who are not as fortunate as the professionals that abound here in Binalonan,” she enjoined the local folks.

President Arroyo bares initiative to set up forward-looking national education program

BINALONAN, Pangasinan, (PNA) — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced here that her administration has begun this year the initiative to create a forward-looking national education program

In a speech following the inauguration of a two-storey, four-room school building she built for the Binalonan South Central School here, President Arroyo stressed this is being done because of the need “to generate more social impact from education”.

This program, she said, involves the consolidated efforts of the Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

President Arroyo was accompanied here by Education Secretary Jesli Lapus, Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral and Presidential Management Staff chief Hermogenes Esperon.

She said the Presidential Task Force on Education which she organized sometime ago submitted a recommendation seeking to improve the state of the main education highway, from pre-school education—includes elementary, high school, pre-college for some courses, college, masteral and doctoral education.

The President stressed that her administration showcased educational reforms in pre-school education when she signed Executive Order 685 seeking standardization of the pre-school curriculum for five-year old children with the goal of increasing the participation rate for grade one.

She also reiterated the determination of her administration to bring down the drop out rate in school to five per cent by 2010, and went on to challenge Education Secretary Lapus to bring this closer to reality in line with millennium development goal called "universal primary education".

“But even if the world may not be able to achieve it, with all our efforts here, we will be able to achieve it," the President confidently said.

She likewise stressed the importance of the local school boards in every town, city and province, chaired by the mayor and district supervisor with members from the ranks of key local officials and representatives of the Parents-Teachers Associations and others.

The President reminded that the Local Government Code allots a special education fund of one percent on real property to the local school boards to be spent for projects related to school improvement and development.

In the hometown of her late mother, the former First Lady Evangeline Macaraeg Macapagal, President Arroyo announced that whatever the local school board will allocate to implement the pre-school curriculum, “I will give Binalonan the equivalent amount”.

On the other hand, Binalonan Mayor Ramon Guico Jr., president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, vowed that the local school board of his town will be active in pursuing the program of improving the participation rate of pupils which he promised to reach 94 per cent by 2010.

He said he will rally local school boards throughout the country to support the program to bring back out-of-school youth to the classroom.

While in Binalonan, the President also inaugurated an e-library and a separate library hub of the Juan Macaraeg National which contains 35,000 volumes of storybooks with different titles to be lent to 458 elementary and 101 high schools of the town.

PGMA calls for greater efforts to increase social impact of education on Filipino youth

BINALONAN, Pangasinan – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo rallied today agencies and individuals in the education sector to make “targeted and consolidated” efforts to increase the “social impact” of education on the Filipino youth.

The President made the call in her speech at the ceremonies formally opening the newly constructed two-storey, four-classroom school building -- the latest addition to the Binalonan South Central School complex here.

“We can generate more social impact from education if the efforts are targeted and consolidated,” the President said.

She said that this year, the government started to “cluster the programs of Department of Education (DepED), Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to create a forward-looking national education program.”

This national education program, which is encapsulated in the recommendations forwarded by the Presidential Task Force for Education, sets the guidelines in improving the different states of the main education “highway” --pre-school, elementary school, high school, technical or vocational school, college, masters and post-graduate education.

A key feature of this national education program is the inclusion of five-year-old children in government-run daycare centers to strengthen and expand the DepEd’s pre-school program.

The President said that under Executive Order No. 685 entitled, Expanding the Preschool Coverage to Include Children Enrolled in Day Care Centers, which she issued early last year, the DepEd is directed to strengthen its pre-school program to entice children to stay in school and thereby minimize dropouts in elementary schools.

Before delivering her speech, the President met with the members of the Local School Board of Binalonan and was presented the main features of the new pre-school curriculum by Education Secretary Jesli Lapus.

The new curriculum defines what a five-year-old child should know and be able to do. These are statements that set expectations for learning and development of children on the following: # 1) Values Development, 2) Physical Health and Motor Development, 3) Social and Emotional Development, 4) Cognitive Development, 5) Creative Arts, 6) Reading and Writing Readiness, and 7) Language, Literacy and Communication.

“Earlier today, we showcased our reforms in pre-school education, particularly Executive Order No. 685 on the Standardization of the Pre-School Curriculum for 5-year-olds with the goal of increasing the participation rate for Grade 1,” she said.

After her speech, the President proceeded to a pre-school classroom and observed a demonstration on the preparation of a lesson plan for the first day of school based on the new standardized curriculum.

For this particular demo, the pre-school teacher, Ms. Winnie Fontanilla, discussed “Tamang Pagbasa” which falls under the Reading and Writing Readiness category.

The President then proceeded to the hand-washing and brushing trough area to observe the Essential Health Care Package showcase which includes: teaching pupils proper hand-washing and toothbrushing techniques and administration of oral de-worming tablets/suspension

She gamely joined the pre-schoolers and showed them the proper way of washing the hands to come up with “completely clean hands.”

She then observed the school doctor and nutritionist administer de-worming suspension to pre-school pupils as part of the national launching of the Essential Health Care Package under the “Fit for School” program of the DepEd.

The Essential Health Care Package is implemented in the framework of the WHO-UNICEF’s program “Health Promoting Schools” in public elementary schools and daycare centers.

The program aims to reduce neglected childhood diseases like parasitic infections and dental problems, two principal causes of absenteeism among schoolchildren.

PGMA exhorts Cabalen lawyers to help in cushioning the impact of global economic crisis

CLARK, Pampanga - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today challenged her Cabalen lawyers and judges to adopt the “public responsibility” principle in the practice of their profession as their contribution to the national government’s efforts to maintain the positive momentum of the economy.

The President made the remarks when she addressed the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Pampanga Chapter as it honored its past 17 presidents at the Ballroom 1 & 2 of Holiday Inn Clark here.

“Ikayu mo, bilang abogado at huwes, nanu kaya ing puwede yung agawa para makausap kayu para a sulung taya ing momentum na ning national economy arapan da ring mangabayat a kapagsubukan (Bilang mga abogado at huwes, ano kaya ang inyong magagawa para maisulong natin ang momentum ng national economy sa harap ng mabibigat na pagsubok),” the President said in Pampango.

She also advised them that politicking especially in the midst of economic crisis is not good for the country. Instead, the President rallied them to work together to face the biggest challenge of the present because of the negative impact of global economic slowdown.

During her speech, the President reported that her administration had “rebooted” the economy years before the current financial meltdown “and this economic medicine helps a lot in mitigating the impact of worldwide economic turmoil on the Philippines.

“We took our economic medicine through fundamental economic reform by raising taxes, cutting down on smugglers, and reforming our tax collection system and banking laws. Our reform moves paid off with revenue for investments in human and physical infrastructure,” the President told lawyers, judges, state prosecutors and other members of IBP here.

She said part of her strategy is the acceleration of investment which started in January 2009 to further stimulate the economy, to help majority of the Filipino people, and to sustain the economic growth.

She said since the global financial turmoil has started to spread, the Philippines recorded its 4.5 to 4.6 percent GDP growth and gross national product (GNP) of 6.1 percent improvement during the fourth quarter of 2008, compared to Japan’s GDP declined by 12.7 percent, United States by 5.1 percent, Taiwan by 9.2 percent, Thailand by 4.3 percent, Singapore by 3.7 percent, and Korea by 5.6 percent.

The President told the assembly of lawyers that the $7 billion stimulus spending of the Philippines, in preparation for the world crisis, is bigger than Indonesia’s $6.3 billion, Malaysia $4 billion, and Thailand’s $3.4 billion.

“But it is not meant to break the bank. We have brought forward investments to further stimulate our economy, to help our people and to sustain the growth that has been so important to our economic success,” she said.

In relation to this, the President noted that her administration remains focused on further raising revenues through improvements in tax administration and establishment of a public-private sector fund to support resiliency plan initiatives, provides tax relief for the private sector by reducing corporate income tax from 35 to 40 percent, and by exempting minimum wage earners from personal tax and increasing personal exemptions.

She also said that the national government through the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has been processing 3,000 jobs per day as a testament to the government support to all workers here and abroad through retraining programs for them to be more competitive globally.

During the program dubbed as “Aldo Ning Parangal: A Tribute to the Past Presidents of the IBP-Pampanga Chapter,” the President awarded plaques of appreciation to the 17 past presidents of the organization for their valuable contributions to the welfare of the society, particularly in the administration of justice.

Cabinet Officer for Region 3 and Internal Affairs Secretary Edgardo Pamintuan, and IBP Pampanga Chapter president Atty. Maria Imelda Q. Tuazon assisted the President in the awarding of plaques.

Those who received a plaque from the President were Silvestre M. Punsalan (1973-1975); Martin M. Roque (1975-1977); Isidro T. Calma (1977-1979); Ernesto L. Pineda (1979-1981); Cesar L. Paras (1981-1983); Eligio P. Mallari (1983-1985); Vicente L. San Luis (1985-1987); Avelino L. Liangco (1987-1989); Atlee T. Viray (1989-1991); Augurio G. Pamintuan (1991-1993); Zoilo A. Andin (1993-1995); Wilfredo I. Untalan (1995-1997); Wilfrido C. Mangiliman (1997-1999); Ruben L. Feliciano (1999-2001); Federico S. Tolentino, Jr. (2001-2003); Orlando R. Pangilinan (2003-2005); Joseph Jepri M. Miranda (2005-2007); and Maria Imelda Q. Tuazon (2007-2009).

Meanwhile, Atty. Tuazon, said the affair was held to “give recognition to the past presidents of the chapter who have each played a vital role in the pursuit of the organization’s three fold objectives.”

These objectives are: 1) to elevate the standard of legal profession, 2) to improve the administration of justice, and 3) to enable the bar to discharge its public responsibility more effectively.

“This is a good time to honor them,” Tuazon said, adding that the chapter has to give recognition to the achievements of their former leaders who have uplifted the standard of legal profession in Pampanga.

Founded in 1973, the chapter with 679 members today was given by the IBP National Office the “Best Chapter Award” under the leadership of lawyers Viray (1989-1991), Untalan (1995-1997), Mangiliman (1997-1999), and Miranda (2005-2007).

Thousands apply at DPWH job fairs 

Thousands of unemployed flocked to the main office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Manila last Monday to try their luck in any of the nearly half a million job openings offered at the job fair.  

Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said the DPWH job fair would open more opportunities for jobless Filipinos affected by the global economic crisis.

The DPWH is spending P60 billion, part of the P330-billion stimulus package, in the first half of the year for construction projects nationwide. The agency hopes to generate 500,000 jobs in the construction sector for 2009.

Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. said about 1,500 people found jobs in the construction sector just a few hours after the fair at the DPWH main office opened. Some 30 contractors participated in the fair.

Ebdane said the employment initiative was part of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s program to mitigate the effects of the global economic crisis on the Philippines.

The event is cosponsored by the Department of Labor and Employment, National Constructors Association of the Philippines and Philippine Constructors Association.

DOLE team to help OFWs in Korea find alternative jobs, other productive undertakings

MANILA (PNA) -- The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has sent a three-man team to Korea to help overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in this country find alternative employment and other productive undertakings before the global crisis could hit their current employment.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said the team has been directed to prepare the OFWs before they actually lose their jobs with alternative opportunities which they may undertake to ease the impact of the global crisis on them and their families.

The team consists of personnel from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO).

Roque said that under DOLE Administrative Order No. 42, series of 2009, the team would coordinate with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Seoul in identifying firms in Korea with OFWs workers who could lose their jobs due to the global crisis.

He said the team would immediately meet with vulnerable OFWs in the identified firms to profile their skills for appropriate job matching and referral to other companies, whether on site or in local firms in the Philippines, where their skills are needed.

OFWs who are in need of skills upgrading and retooling, on the other hand, would be issued onsite with scholarship training vouchers from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

The DOLE Chief said the TESDA vouchers would enable the OFW-beneficiaries to train immediately upon their return to the Philippines in skills that are needed by industry, thereby, enhancing their prospects for employment locally and overseas.

At the same time, the three-man DOLE team would provide livelihood orientation to OFWs who may no longer want to work in Korea and instead opt to set up their own business enterprises in the Philippines.

Roque said the team would assist said OFWs in organizing themselves for livelihood projects and also in preparing their business proposals.

The Labor and Employment Secretary also said that another DOLE team will be sent to Korea to negotiate for the renewal of the country's participation in the Korean Employment Permit System (EPS) in line with national efforts in jobs preservation and generation for Filipino workers.

The last MOU on the EPS forged in 2006 between the DOLE and the Korean Labor Ministry expired last year.

Roque said the team would meet and discuss with their South Korean Ministry of Labor specifically the conclusion of a new EPS memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Philippines and South Korea that would provide for the recruitment and deployment of OFWs to this country in the next two years.

He said that despite the raging global crisis that had displaced 74 OFWs in Korea, the Philippines is keen on renewing its participation in the Korean EPS in view of this country's continuing preference for OFWs.

He cited the initiative of the South Korean government to prioritize OFWs displaced by the global crisis for available new job openings under the EPS. POEA data also showed that in January this year, about 30 OFWs have been offered to work in Korea under the EPS.

At the same time, the DOLE team would confer and explore with the Korean Ministry of Education the prospect of deploying Filipino English teachers to Korea and also with appropriate authorities the prospect of sending OFWs to the Incheon Free Export Zone in Incheon which is a major Korean seaport near Seoul. The export zone is envisioned to become the center of international business, IT, biotechnology, logistics and tourism in
Northeast Asia. 

PGMA`s speech to highlight economic managers` proactive dialogue with investors

MANILA (PND) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will address tomorrow (Wednesday) the ``Philippine Economic Briefing`` to underscore the need to sustain the country’s economic growth and uplift the lives of the poor.

The President will be the keynote speaker of the Briefing with the theme, ``Challenges and Opportunities in a Global Crisis,`` at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City.

To attract investments and create jobs, the President’s economic managers are conducting a continuing dialogue with domestic and international investors on the state of the country’s public finances and the economy.

Before the President’s speech, her economic managers will conduct separate presentations on the state of the country’s fiscal and economic situation.

Among the presentors are Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr., National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Ralph Recto, Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila, Budget and Management Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr., Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes, and Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap.

An open forum, which will follow the presentations, will be moderated by Investor Relations Office (IRO) Executive Director Claro Fernandez.

In July 2001, the government created the IRO in response to investors` need for a coordinated approach to sourcing macro-economic information from the economic agencies of the government such as the BSP, NEDA, DOF, DTI, and DBM.

Through the proactive investor relations program, the country’s economic agencies provide macroeconomic information needed by analysts and investors in making critical business and investment decisions. 

Monday, 23 February 2009

PIA Dispatch - Monday, February 23, 2009

Pangulong Arroyo, nanawagan sa kanyang mga kritiko na makipagkaisa upang labanan ang tumitinding global financial crisis

Nanawagan ang Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo sa kanyang mga kritiko na makipagkasundo na sa pamahalaan upang labanan ang tumitinding global financial crisis.

Sinabi ng Pangulo ang ganitong pahayag sa isang wreath-laying ceremony na siyang pasimula sa pag-alaala ng ika-23 anibersaryo ng EDSA People Power.

Ayon sa Pangulo, nasa diwa ng pagkakaisa na ipinamalas ng mga Pilipino noong EDSA ang susi sa tagumpay nating mga Pilipino at harapin at malampasan ang mga baong hamon na kinakaharap ng ating bansa.  

Oil firms, retailers cut LPG, diesel prices  

Liquified Petroleum Gas retailers will cut down prices by Php 1 per kilogram tomorrow.

This is the second round of price reduction following the price cut over the weekend.

Apart from the low world price, retailers cited the high supply of LPG has been pulling down the market price.

Last year, the Christmas holiday has tighten the LPG supply and drove prices as high as P600 per tank.

Current LPG prices ranged between Php500 and Php580 per tank.

Retailers had slashed their prices Saturday by Php 3 per kilogram to reflect a US$58 per metric ton reduction in contract prices from January to February.

Meanwhile, Petron Corporation, Caltex Chevron, PPTT Philippines Corporation, Seaoil Philippines and Pilipinas Shell have reduced their diesel prices by Php 1 per liter today.

Current diesel prices are estimated between Php 22.24 and Php 28.45 per liter.

Some outlets of big oil firms were forced to reduce prices because small oil players were selling diesel at rock bottom prices.

Furthermore, the low price of finished diesel products in the world market also drove the prices down. #  

Presyo ng LPG at Diesel pababa

Bababa na naman ng piso kada kilo ang presyo ng liquefied petroleum gas simula bukas.

Ito ay ikalawang pagtapyas sa presyo ng LPG: ang unang pagbaba ng presyo ay nangyari noong Sabado.

Bukod sa mababang world price, sinabi ng mga independent retailer na ang mataas na supply sa merkado ang humahatak pababa sa presyo ng LPG.  

Una rito, binawasan ng mga retailer nang tatlong piso kada kilo ang halaga ng LPG noong Sabado.

Noong nakaraang Disyembre, tumaas ang demand sa LPG kaya naging pahirapan ang supply.

Dahil dito, umabot nang hanggang Php600 kada tangke ang halaga ng LPG noong mga panahong iyon.

Samantala, halos sabay-sabay nagbaba ng presyo ng diesel ang Petron Corporation, Caltex Chevron, PPTT Philippines Corporation, Seaoil Philippines at Pilipinas Shell.

Piso kada litro ang ibinaba ng presyo ng diesel ngayong araw na ito.

Tinatayang nasa pagitain ng Php 22.24 at Php 28.45 kada litro ang presyo ng diesel.
Naiulat na napuwersa ang ilang mga outlet ng mga malalaking kumpanya ng langis na magbaba na presyo dahil sa mababang presyong inaalok ng mga maliit na oil players.  

Nakatulong din ang mababang presyo ng finished diesel products sa pandaigdigang merkado sa kasalukuyang pagprepresyo sa diesel. #

LTFRB warns penalty vs jeepney drivers who will ignore fare rollback

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) will penalize jeepney drivers who will ignore the fare rollback that took effective today.

The board approved last week the 50 centavo provisionary fare rollback following a petition from a commuters group and the fall of diesel prices in the world market.

The LTFRB resolution also includes giving fare discounts to senior citizens, students and persons with disabilities.

From seven pesos and fifty centavos, the minimum fare rate for the first four kilometers is now seven pesos.

However, the provisional rate for the next kilometers remains at one peso and forty centavos.

The rollback is implemented throughout Mega Manila, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Aurora , Laguna, Quezon, Rizal, Batangas, Cavite , Mindoro , Marinduque, Romblon at Palawan . #

Mga dyipney drayber na hindi susunod sa fare rollback, parurusahan ng LTFRB

Nagbanta ang Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) na paparusahan ang mga dyipney drayber na hindi susunod sa pinakahuling fare rollback.

Inaprubahan noong nakaraang linggo ng LTFRB ang singkwenta sentimong fare rollback kasunod ng petisyon ng isang commuter’s group at paglagpak ng presyo ng diesel sa pandaigdigang merkado.

Kasama din sa resolusyon ang paggawad ng diskwento sa pasahe sa mga senior citizen, estudyante at mga taong may kapansanan.

Mula pitong piso at singkwenta sentimos, ang minimum na pasahe para sa unang apat na kilometro ngayon ay pitong piso.

Gayumpaman, ang piso at kuwarenta sentimong provisional rate para sa susunod na kilometro ay paiiralin parin.

Epektibo ang rollback sa buong Mega Manila, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlak, Aurora, Laguna, Quezon, Rizal, Batangas, Kabite, Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon at Palawan. #

Bakers cuts down prices of tasty bread and pandesals

Like jeepney fare and diesel products, loaf breads and pandesal have a price roll back

The Philippine Baking Industry (PHILBAKING) took off fifty centavos for every 10 pieces of Pandesal while the price for popular tasty bread got sliced by a peso.

Philbaking President Simplicio Umali explained the price of imported flour went down from Php 900 to Php 870 per 25 kilogram bag. #

Presyo ng Tasty at Pandesal, ibinaba

Tulad ng pasahe sa dyip at diesel, nagkaroon din ng rollback sa presyo ng loaf bread at pandesal.

Singkwenta sentimos ang tinanggal sa bawat sampung pirasong pandesal samantala piso naman ang inalis sa bawat tasty bread.

Ayon kay Simplicio Umali ng Philippine Baking Industry, ibinaba nila ang presyo ng loaf bread at pandesal dahil sa pagbaba rin ng presyo ng inaangkat nilang harina.

Mula sa dating Php 900, naging Php 870 na lang ang presyo ng isang salop na harina na may timbang na tig-bebeinte singko kilo. #

38,000 informal family settlers benefit from Northrail Relocation Program 

A total of 38,206 informal family settlers will benefit from the Northrail Relocation Program (NRP) affected by the North Luzon Railway System Project. This is in accordance with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s order for the National Housing Authority (NHA) to implement the Rail Related Resettlement and Relocation Programs – in line with the Super Regions – Luzon Urban Beltway economic blueprint.

The Northrail Relocation Program (NRP) has been developing relocation sites for informal family settlers from the Philippine National Railway (PNR) rail rights-of-way from Kalookan City to Malolos, Bulacan. 

The NRP is now being implemented in four Phases: Phase 1, Section 1 - Caloocan, Malabon and Valenzuela in Metro Manila and Meycauayan, Marilao, Bocuae; Phase 1, Section 2 - Barrio Longos in Malolos City and Calumpit, Bulacan toward the province of Pampanga; Phase 2 - Clark Air Base in Angeles City, Pampanga to Subic Bay in Olongapo City; Phase 3 - Clark to La Union; and Phase 4 - Caloocan City to Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City.  

Based on the data from the NHA as of January 31, 2009, the Northrail Relocation Program (Phase 1, Sections 1 and 2) has already generated 37,945 lots, and developed 17,998 structures for the informal family settlers affected by the project.  

The NRP – Phase 1, Section 1 has already reached completion with total generated lots of 18,741 and structures of 17,998 in nine (9) relocation sites in Meycauayan, Marilao, Bocaue, Sta. Maria, Balagtas, Guiguinto, and Malolos. Of this, 17,415 informal settler families have been actually relocated by the NHA.

The NRP - Phase 1, Section 2, according to NHA, is now being developed in eight relocation sites in Malolos and Calumpit, Bulacan; Apalit, Minalin, Sto. Tomas, San Fernando, Angeles, and Mabalacat, Pampanga, with a total generated lots of 19,204. The construction of structures for these lots is in the offing.  

The Arroyo administration is relentless in pushing the implementation of resettlement program to protect the illegal settlers living along the railways and road projects, and provide them with safe dwelling places. The relocation of informal settlers would likewise help decongest Metro Manila and redound to more socio-economic benefits to the people.  

The NRP is a component program of the North Luzon Railway System Project aimed to provide fast and reliable mass transit system from Caloocan City to Clark and the provinces of Central and Northern Luzon at an approximate distance of 80.291 kilometers. (PIA-NCR)

PGMA orders PVAO to set up temporary processing centers for the speedy processing of Filvets' benefits

MANILA (PNA) – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Monday directed the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) to put up temporary processing centers in the provinces as a way to speed up the dispensation of the lump-sum benefits for Filipino World War veterans granted by the United States government.

The President issued the directive to spare the veterans who have served the country the cost of going to Metro Manila to have their claims processed.

To be called as PVAO Fast Track Centers, President Arroyo said the processing centers will be put temporarily in the provinces with the large number of World War II veterans.

“The roster of surviving World War II veterans now in PVAO and the updated database of government agencies that have records of living veterans will be the basis for where the PVAO FTCs shall be located,” the President said during the celebration held at the Heroes Hall in Malacanang on the passage of the US law granting more benefits to WW II veterans.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which was passed by the US Congress on Feb. 14 and signed into law by President Barack Obama on Feb. 17 as part of the US government stimulus package, grants a one-time lump-sum payment of $15,000 for each US-based Filipino WWII veteran and $ 9,000 for those living in the Philippines.

The Chief Executive also instructed the PVAO staffers, who will be assigned to the temporary processing centers, to coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the local government leaders in their areas of assignment to fast track the setting up of the centers.

“The dispersal of PVAO staffers to carry out outreach programs in the provinces will also help them develop a keener understanding of the problems faced by our war veterans,” she said.

The President said the PVAO staffers should also need to communicate in simple and easy to understand language the entire processing exercise.

“In their old age and the winter of their lives, the veterans need more than ever, the tender and caring hands of government,” the Chief Executive said as she assured the Filipino veterans that her administration will continue working with the US government in ensuring that benefits and recognition are given to them.

Aside from US President Barack Obama, the President also thanked the US senators and congressmen who “have been staunch supporters of Filipino veterans all these years.”

She also underscored the need to prioritize the welfare of the poorest people as “we are looking at ways to help develop economies.”

“We observed that the welfare of the poorest people and the poorest economies are not yet a priority as the world searches for solution to the global crisis and we urged that it must be made a priority in moving forward,” she added.

President Arroyo said the inclusion in the stimulus bill of World War veterans is an example of “what we have been advocating for --that is in looking for solutions to the crisis, we must not neglect the hardship of those most hurt by the global downturn, including our Filipino veterans.”

PGMA awards P1.14M to 57 rebel-returnees under the Social Integration Program

MANILA (PND) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today awarded a total of P1.14 million as immediate economic assistance, under the government’s Social Integration Program (SIP), to 57 rebel-returnees in simple rites at the Heroes Hall in Malacanang.

Each of the rebel-returnees received P20,000 as immediate cash aid to start life anew in mainstream society. The 57 rebel-returnees are from the Cordillera Autonomous Region (6), Pampanga (13), Panay Island (7), Bicol (5), and Caraga (26). Eight of them are women.

Aside from the P20,000 immediate cash, the rebel-returnees are also entitled to P50,000 under the SIP as capital assistance in the form of working animals, farm implements, and/or and sari-sari store goods, among others to help them rebuild their economic and social lives.

If they surrender their M16 or M14 rifles, they will also each receive an additional P50,000 for each firearm, and equitable amounts for similar firearms, explosives or ammunition surrendered.

To give rebel-returnees better direction under the SIP, they are to undergo seminar-workshops where they are briefed and acquainted with other program opportunities for them, including livelihood packages, employment, training and education assistance.

The seminars will also enable them to have better access to basic services and other social amelioration programs of government which they may be qualified.

The SIP involves a process whereby former rebels and their dependents are provided a set of interventions to facilitate their integration into mainstream social life. It provides a framework for the convergence and cooperation among local government units, state line agencies, non-government organizations (NGOs) and the community as well.

Among the partners of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) are the Department of Education (DepEd), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), National Food Authority (NFA), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), and DILG.

Presently, the OPAPP is working with selected LGUs in the creation of the latter’s Local Social Integration Committees (LSIC) designed to help sustain and strengthen the implementation of the SIP at the local level.

The SIP was officially launched on June 18, 2008 and in the last seven (7) months of its operation, it has already benefited some 331 rebel-returnees from all over the country.

Rolando Marzan, a rebel fugitive for 10 years and one of the 57 latest SIP benefiaries, regretted having joined the communist guerrilla movement during which time he lost his family.

“I would like to thank the government for giving us new hope. Our lives were destroyed by ideology. We will not go back to our dark past. We will start a new life for a better tomorrow,” he said in Filipino.

1.3M public school students, OSYs to benefit from DepEd's soapmaking program

MANILA (PNA) -- Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Jesli Lapus on Monday said some 1.3 million public schools students in Central Luzon will benefit from its cash-in-soap program.

Lapus said the program is expected to provide livelihood to out-of-school youths while addressing the health concerns of pupils in public schools.

The OSYs were trained on medicinal soap making by school health personnel who were trained by the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITAHC).

"We are counting on some 12,300 OSYs to produce herb-based health soaps which we intend to distribute to schoolchildren suffering from various skin ailments in Tarlac and Pampanga," he added.

The engagement of OSYs in soapmaking falls under the Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP) being spearheaded by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Lapus was assigned to ensure and oversee the implementation of the various projects under the CLEEP in selected areas in Region III such as Tarlac and Pampanga.

The other CLEEP projects under the supervision of Lapus include utility services in public schools; livestock dispersal; irrigation restoration; construction of diversion dams and cultivation of organic fertilizer in the 1st district of Tarlac.

In the soapmaking livelihood activity, each OSY is expected to earn P4,000 for making 2,000 bars of soap. The 20-day production period is expected to yield about 24.6 million bars.

The soap production is slated on April to June 2009. The soaps are expected to be given to student beneficiaries for school-year 2009 to 2010.

"We will give these soaps to public elementary school pupils who will receive their year's supply of four bars of Citronella soap for their head lice, four bars of Acapulco or Guava soap to combat skin diseases, and 12 bars of calamansi soap for personal hygiene," said Lapus.

Lapus noted the program's 'multiplier effect' on the local economy. "It will lead to the creation of more jobs and the generation of additional income."

The education chief believes that the soap-making venture can be a sustainable livelihood project.

"There is a real need to produce medicinal soap at a minimal cost to keep our school children free from head lice and skin diseases," he added.

The distribution of soap is part of the Essential Health Care Package funded by local government units. The package consists of soap, toothpaste, toothbrush and de-worming tabs.

Studies showed that 46 percent of children in Region III have pediculosis or head lice while 40 percent have skin diseases.

Children with such health conditions have been observed to feel shy and do not actively participate in class activities.

Assistant Secretary for Special Concerns Thelma Santos said the program is one of DepEd's efforts to show concern to the pupils and improve their participation rate and retention.

Last 2008, DepEd has sent some 1,500 OSYs as utility workers in public schools.

"We can tap partners in the community who can take this project to the next level. We see the local government units who are always in the look-out for livelihood opportunities and the private sector which can also pitch in to better improve the technology and marketing," Lapus said.

CLEEP aims to mitigate the effects of the global economic crisis.

The cabinet secretaries served as stewards to various regions and were assigned their respective priority projects. (PNA)