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Hong Kong maintains top spot in freedom index, United States drops to 23rd

783 Leyte farmers receive CLOAs from Sec. Mariano

Sec. Mariano turns over P7M PHF in Biliran

PH SME chocolate makes its sweet debut in London

8ID joins the launching of anti-illegal drugs in Samar

DPWH, DepEd turnover Techvoc building in ICT

P9.83M three storey-six classroom school building inaugurated

Activist call on the youth to emulate Martial Law heroes and martyrs






Cayetano: PH's AIIB membership crucial to sustaining economic growth

By Office of Senator Alan Peter S. Cayetano
December 6, 2016

PASAY CITY – Senate foreign relations committee chair Senator Alan Peter S. Cayetano thanked his colleagues in the Senate for supporting the treaty that would make the Philippines a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

The Senate on Monday (December 5) passed on third and final reading Senate Resolution No. 241, or the Articles of Agreement of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which formally ratifies the country’s AIIB entry documents. The measure got 20 affirmative votes, one negative vote, and no abstention.

Cayetano’s Foreign Relations Committee submitted last November 22 Committee Report No. 11 recommending the approval of the resolution of concurrence.

Cayetano said the Senate’s concurrence with the treaty formalizing the country’s membership into the China-led multilateral institution will allow the Philippines access to funds for major infrastructure projects to sustain the momentum of economic growth that was started by the Duterte government.

“Any institution that will promote human development, accelerate economic and social progress, and further good relations with neighboring nations should be embraced and supported,” said Cayetano.

He expressed his gratitude to the Department of Finance led by Sec. Carlos Dominguez III and their counterparts in the Chinese government for their assistance, stressing how the treaty could foster a stronger relationship between the two countries. He also thanked Senator Loren Legarda, sponsor of the resolution, for making possible the passage of the measure.

Cayetano explained that, like the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank (WB), the AIIB is a multilateral funding agency owned by sovereign member-countries, which specifically aims to promote economic development and strengthen regional cooperation and partnership in the Asian region.

“Our economy has been cited recently as the fastest growing in the Asian region. We posted a robust 7.1% growth in the third quarter are on target to achieving a 7-percent full-year GDP growth this year,” he said.

The administration earlier expressed its plan to raise the government’s share in infrastructure spending to the gross domestic product (GDP) to 7 percent before President Rodrigo Duterte's term ends.

Following the Senate’s concurrence, the executive branch now has the chance to access US$500 million annually from the Bank to finance infrastructure projects in the country. This, he said, is apart from over $20 billion that China is prepared to extend to the Philippines after the President's historic visit to China.

“AIIB’s role as a major player in infrastructure development in Asia in the future is inevitable, and the timing of our membership in AIIB cannot be more perfect as the Philippines is at the point of development where increasing our infrastructure capacity can no longer be set aside,” Cayetano said.

“As Asia’s fastest growing economy, we surely cannot afford to pass up on this opportunity to be able to tap an additional fund source to help sustain the economic progress we have started to gain under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte,” he added.





Drug-related killings must stop and the perpetrators should be held accountable

By KARAPATAN via the Asian Human Rights Commission
December 6, 2016

Karapatan today joined RISE UP!, a campaign initiated by faith-based groups, institutions and people’s organizations against the drug menace and for the protection of human and people’s rights against drug-related extrajudicial killings, in a protest action in front of the Department of Interior and Local Government office in Quezon City.

"Drug-related killings must stop and the perpetrators should be held accountable, whether government officials, police officers, or drug cartel operatives. It is unacceptable that the killings are justified or merely explained as 'killed in legitimate police operations,' 'nanlaban' or 'killed by unidentified assailants,'" Clamor said.

"Majority of the victims of drug-related killings come from poor communities. Their families chose not to pursue investigation and prosecution against the perpetrators out of fear and lack of resources. Thus, the climate of impunity reigns," Clamor said. Karapatan called on the public “to uphold people’s and human rights amid a system that breeds the existence and proliferation of the illegal drug trade.”

“We will support efforts to educate the general public on the roots and impact of the global drug on the Filipino people, to document cases of drug-related killings, and to advocate against the brazen impunity by which these killings are conducted in direct violation of the right to due process,” said Jigs Clamor, Karapatan Deputy Secretary General.

Karapatan previously reported the use of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against drugs in the conduct of counter-insurgency operations of the Philippine National Police in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, where four farmer activists were illegally arrested and detained last October on charges related to the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (Republic Act RA 9165).

The farmers’ personal belongings were taken and their families were traumatized. They were wrongly accused as members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and one of them was mauled. The four are members of the Karahumi Farmers Association (KFA), an organization that has long been resisting the landgrabbing of more than 1,000 hectares of agricultural lands in Bulacan. Police authorities planted evidence against them. “Batak kami sa trabaho, hindi kami batak sa droga,” said one of the arrested farmers.

Three of the farmer activists were released from detention, while another KFA member, Romy “Nonoy” Gaitero, remains in jail.

“We are also receiving disturbing reports that the Armed Forces of the Philippines, even while the GRP has declared a unilateral ceasefire in relation to its peacetalks with the NDFP, continues military operations under Oplan Bayanihan by encamping in civilian communities, threatening and harassing civilians suspected of being members of the NPA and conducts census of residents in the guise of Oplan Tokhang,” said Clamor.

Karapatan reiterated its call to Duterte to stop drug-related killings and to respect the people’s rights to due process.

“The drug menace can be eliminated without curtailing the basic rights of the people, especially of the poor. In fact, it is through upholding the rights of the people, especially social and economic rights, that the people can repudiate the use and trade of illegal drugs. The government should instead strive to improve the living conditions of the Filipinos, especially the marginalized, by providing them secure jobs with living wages, free education and health care, and land to cultivate,” Clamor concluded.





8ID welcomes gov’t disater response chief

DRRM chief at 8ID

December 2, 2016

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan City – The 8th Infantry (Stormtroopers) Division welcomed Usec. Ricardo B. Jalad, Executive Director, National Risk Reduction and Management council (NDRRMC) and other representatives from the regional, provincial and local government units and agencies last December 02, 2016.

Usec Jalad’s visit to 8ID is part of his itinerary to check the recovery of Eastern Visayas from the devastation of previous super typhoons and the local governments and other agencies’ preparedness for upcoming calamities. During his remarks, Usec Jalad recognized the peculiarity of Region 8 as “highway of typhoons” of the Philippines.

8th ID Assistant Division Commander Brig. General Cesar Idio assured that “the men and women of the 8th Infantry Division are committed in working hand in hand with various government, non-government, civil sector and private sector organizations in ensuring the protection and welfare of the people during disasters or emergencies.”

The conference yielded discussions on how to increase interoperability among members of the regional and local DRRMC and capacitate each other in terms of equipment especially in redundancy of communications and training.

“For our part, we are looking forward for more capacity-building programs that we can work together as we prepare for the unknowns of tomorrow,” Idio added.






Trabaho, Negosyo at Kabuhayan
The “Trabaho, Negosyo at Kabuhayan: A Blueprint for Decent Employment and Entrepreneurship 2017-2022” prioritizes decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, formalization and growth of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), youth unemployment reduction, education and training.

New gov’t blueprint for decent employment envisions 7.5 million jobs by 2022

December 2, 2016

TAGUIG CITY – A new government blueprint for decent job creation through employment and entrepreneurship from 2017 to 2022 was adopted at the conclusion of the two-day Trabaho, Negosyo at Kabuhayan (TNK) - Employment and Livelihood Summit on December 2.

Signed by Secretaries Ramon Lopez of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Silvestre Bello III of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the “Trabaho, Negosyo at Kabuhayan: A Blueprint for Decent Employment and Entrepreneurship 2017-2022” prioritizes decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, formalization and growth of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), youth unemployment reduction, education and training.

“By 2022, we want to achieve full employment at 5% unemployment rate by creating 7.5 million jobs, mainly in key employment generating sectors (KEGS) such as manufacturing including food processing, construction, tourism, Information Technology-Business Process Management (IT-BPM), transportation and logistics, and retail trade,” Sec. Lopez said.

The commitment is in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly Goals 8 and 9, on the provision of decent work and economic growth, and on building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation, respectively.

The 2017-2022 livelihood agenda envisions the transition of informal and economic units to the formal economy with full respect to fundamental rights and principles at work. It also reiterates the implementation of the Comprehensive National Industrial Strategy to upgrade selected industries that generate employment, integrate manufacturing, agriculture and services, address supply chain gaps, and deepen industry participation in global value chains.

The TNK Summit, participated in by the public and private sectors and some members of the academe wrapped up policy recommendations from previously held sectoral summits to chart a new employment agenda, in line with the administration’s development path.

Sec. Lopez strongly encouraged Summit participants to invest in the Industry and Services sector, as well as in the country’s human capital to help address the perennial problem of skills mismatch and to sustain the growth of Philippines industries.

Policy recommendations from sectoral summits on MSME, manufacturing, construction and IT-BPM fed into the TNK Summit, which carried the theme, “Malasakit at Pagbabago Tungo sa Kaunlaran at Katiwasayan,” preparing the workforce for the industry’s current and future needs.





Senate panel includes casinos in AMLA to fortify law

By Office of Senator Escudero
December 1, 2016

PASAY CITY – The Senate is giving more teeth to the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) by amending its current provisions to include the casino industry under the scrutiny of the law.

Senator Chiz Escudero, chairman of the Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies which is sponsoring the measure, said a panel report to further amend Republic Act No. 9160 or AMLA of 2001 has already been filed and is due for sponsorship on Monday next week.

The inclusion of casinos in the AMLA coverage is one of the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism watchdog, to avoid the potential blacklisting of the Philippines.

Senate Committee Report No. 13, however, has now expanded its coverage to include casinos as part of the reporting bodies to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), which was left out in the amendments made in 2012.

Escudero said the country is rushing to comply with prescribed global legal and regulatory framework on anti-money laundering before FATF’s assessment of the country in June next year. The Philippines was last assessed three years ago by the international body, which noted strong concerns on the exclusion of the casino sector from the law.

In the amended act, the cash threshold for any covered transactions is now anything exceeding P500,000.00 or US$10,000.00 or other equivalent monetary instrument. Also covered by the expanded law are money services business or money transfer companies, dealers of precious stones, jewels and metals, dealers of high-value items or goods and real estate developers, brokers and sales agents.

“We are talking of dealers or those entities, like lawyers and accountants acting in behalf of clients whenever they receive cash for profit or gains, exceeding P500, 000.00. So if they don’t want to be covered by the AMLA law, then they should transact or act in behalf of their clients with checks, not cash. Then again, checks are already covered by the reportorial requirements of banks under AMLA,” Escudero said.

Considered high-value items under the measure are the following goods or items which value exceeds one million pesos (P1,000,000.00): motor vehicles, including land, air and water vehicles; art and antiques; and other luxury items such as jewelry, watches and bags.

“We put a generic and catch all terms. In the original act, it simply states jewelry, with 50 percent of its value coming from the precious stone used. But this is ambiguous and evasive, what if you are paying for the luxury brand itself and not the stones? Then that’s already left out. There are strong calls to include luxury car dealers, but those who deal choppers and planes and yachts will also be left out, so we phrased the inclusion as high-value goods to cover all,” the senator pointed out.

C.R. No. 13 also strengthens the power of AMLC to investigate motu propio or upon the request of appropriate departments or agencies transactions deemed suspicious for possible money laundering-activities.

It is already being empowered to file, directly through the Office of the Solicitor General, before the Court of Appeals petition for a freeze order against any monetary instrument or property deemed laundered.

The AMLC can also already subpoena any person and compel his/her attendance to produce information for verification and investigation in compliance with AMLA.

Escudero scored the importance of complying with the country’s commitments to the FATF action plans and to earn its approval after its review next year as millions of our overseas workers will be the front liners to receive the impact of a positive or negative review.

“We are rushing to sponsor this and hopefully pass the measure first quarter next year, to comply in time for the review. Otherwise, global remittances of our millions of overseas workers will go through scrutiny and difficulties,” Escudero said.





8ID supports 18-day campaign to end VAW

8ID supports VAW

November 29, 2016

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan City – The Philippine Army in Eastern Visayas joins the nation’s call to end violence against women (VAW) during the flag-raising ceremony at Camp Lukban last November 28, 2016.

In all countries of the world, women and girls are exposed to violence because of their gender. Its long term effect from physical, sexual and psychological abuse, oftentimes lead to death. Despite the fact that different social, cultural and political backgrounds give rise to different forms of violence, its majority and its patterns are remarkably endless as it prevents women from fully participating in society.

As enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, the Philippine government is committed to protect the human rights of women and to address all forms of violence against them. As this year’s campaign theme, “Violence-free community starts with me”, 8th ID is actively participating in the quest to achieve a VAW-free community through everyone’s obligation and participation.

8ID has instituted the gender-based violence (GBV) referral system by handling GBV cases within the organization and by providing the necessary assistance and services to survivors and victims of this kind of violence.

In his message, Brig. Gen. Raul M Farnacio encouraged every female personnel of this command to empower themselves, to know their rights and available courses of actions if their rights are violated. Women in the service are also empowered to speak out and report to authorities and inspire others to fight for their rights.

On the other hand, Brig. Gen. Farnacio also directed every male personnel within the organization to respect women, especially girls in their homes, in their workplace and community. Male soldiers are encouraged to be a good role model and enlighten other men not to condone or commit violence against women and girls.

As he emphasized during his message, everyone must contribute to the total eradication of violence in our organization, family and the community.





Duterte inaugurates mega drug rehabilitation center

By Presidential News Desk
November 29, 2016

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte led the inauguration of the mega Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center (DATRC) at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija on Tuesday, November 29, as part of the administration's efforts to solve drug problem in the country.

In his speech, President Duterte said he would fulfill his campaign promise to eliminate illegal drugs and create a safer environment for the Filipinos.

"Let me warn you, drugs is a very virulent agent in any society. The campaign against drug will continue ‘till the last day of my term. I will not stop until the last drug pusher is out of the street and the last drug lord or king killed," he said.

The President said the drug lords have invested on the lives and sanity of the Filipinos.

"Kaya maraming property, mga hotel, barko, lahat na nandiyan sa kanila," Duterte said.

He said there will be no let up in the campaign against illegal drugs and the only compromise is for the illegal drug users and pushers to surrender.

"The only compromise that’s acceptable to me is you surrender," Duterte said.

"If you continue, I said, you might end losing not only your funds but your life," he added.

Duterte meanwhile thanked Chinese philanthropist Huang Rulun who donated the first large scale drug rehabilitation center in the country, which can accommodate 10,000 drug addicts.

For his part, Huang stated that the donation was his way of showing support to the administration’s war against drugs and as a sign of goodwill for the President’s efforts to strengthen the country’s ties and friendly relations with China.

Huang is an honorary chairman of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Association of the Philippines Foundation, Inc. (FFCAP) and chairman of the board of directors of Century Golden Resources Group.

During the event, the President unveiled the marker of the rehabilitation center together with Huang and the administration’s top officials.

DATRC is located in Fort Magsaysay, a military camp that occupies a land area of hectares divided by four zones. It has a total construction area of 60,000 square meters with 172 building units.

Huang first met with the President in Davao last June 28 before he donated an amount of about P1.4 billion to construct two drug rehabilitation centers inside Fort Magsaysay.

In expressing his appreciation for the assistance extended by Huang to the government, the President stressed that those whom he consider as the country’s allies should also help him solve the country’s drug problem instead of criticizing his administration in its war against drugs.

In his speech, the President also mentioned the ambush that happened in Lanao del Sur wherein seven members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) and two soldiers were wounded. The PSG personnel were part of the advance team of the President who is set to fly to Marawi City on Wednesday to visit wounded soldiers fighting the Maute group.

Duterte said he would push through with his visit despite ongoing conflict in the province.



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