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DTI encourages micro enterprises to avail of incentives under BMBE Law

Palm Grass Hotel to screen a community-created short fiction film

NMP remains with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)

Eastern Visayas’ inflation rate accelerates further by 5.7% in March

Fishery production in Eastern Visayas declines by 2.9% in 2017

Palay production in Eastern Visayas declines by 1.0% in 2017

Construction of new Caraycaray bridge to start this year

Duterte’s TRAIN devalues daily pay & pushes workers into deeper poverty







First quarter fishery production in Eastern Visayas drops by 29.0%

By PSA-8
May 25, 2018

TACLOBAN CITY – Fishery production in Eastern Visayas dropped by 29.0% from 37,607 metric tons (MT) in the first quarter of 2017 to 26,704 MT in the first quarter of 2018.

All provinces registered decreases in fishery production, except Samar, the only province that recorded a significant increase of 24.5%, from 9,498 MT in the first quarter of 2017 to 11,822 MT in the same quarter in 2018. Leyte recorded the highest decrease of 68.4%, from 17,517 MT in the first quarter of 2017 to 5,527 MT during the quarter in review.

Among provinces, Samar produced the highest volume of fishery production at 11,822 MT, which comprised 44.3% of the total fishery production in the region. Leyte ranked second with 5,527 MT, which accounted for 20.7% of the region’s total fishery production. Southern Leyte, meanwhile registered the lowest volume of production with 4.7% share or 1,249 MT.

By subsector, volume of production in Aquaculture went down by 49.4%, from 16,291 MT in the first quarter of 2017 to 8,244 MT in the same period in 2018. All provinces registered decreases, except Samar, the only province that recorded an increase of 124.2%. Biliran recorded the highest decrease of 100.0 percent, from 5 MT in the first quarter of 2017 to zero during the quarter in review.

Similarly, volume of production in Municipal Fishing (marine and inland) registered a decrease of 16.4%, from 17,682 MT in the first quarter of 2017 to 14,776 MT in the same quarter in 2018. All provinces registered decreases, except Southern Leyte, the only province which posted an increase of 4.2%. Leyte registered the highest decrease in volume of production at 27.2%.

On the other hand, volume of production in Commercial Fishing increased by 1.4%, from 3,634 MT in the first quarter of 2017 to 3,684 MT in the same period in 2018. Among provinces, only Samar registered growth in production of 68.9%. This increase offset the decreases recorded by Biliran (44.3%), Eastern Samar (0.3%), Leyte (39.0%), Northern Samar (10.2%) and Southern Leyte (45.3%).

More than half or 55.3% (14,776 MT) of the total fishery production in the region were from Municipal Fishing. Aquaculture contributed 30.9% (8,244 MT), while Commercial Fishing accounted for 13.8% (3,684 MT).

Eastern Visayas fishery production





People’s group, energy insti, Atimonan community:

EO 30 to expedite ‘irregularity-ridden’ Atimonan coal project

Press Release
May 25, 2018

QUEZON CITY – Energy groups and Atimonan community members scored Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi for considering Atimonan One Energy, Inc.’s (A1E) “irregularity-ridden” Atimonan coal power plant as one of the first energy projects to be classified as an Energy Project of National Significance (EPNS) under Executive Order 30 (EO 30).

“Secretary Cusi’s positive consideration of the Atimonan coal power plant project as an EPNS is a huge blow to the Atimonan community – especially to Atimonan fisherfolk and farmers,” said Atimonan fisherfolk member Joseph Benedict.

“Atimonan residents have suffered deception and harassment, on top of loss of livelihood and health, in the push for the hasty and irregular approval and construction of its coal plant project in Atimonan,” said Benedict.

“The Atimonan community, together with civil society organizations, have been putting up a long fight against this coal project – their impending classification as EPNS tells us the government is not on our side here,” said Benedict.

Under EO 30, permit applications of EPNS-classified projects shall be acted upon by concerned government agencies not exceeding a 30-day period; otherwise, said permit applications are automatically deemed approved.

Sanlakas Secretary-General Atty. Aaron Pedrosa expressed alarm that this mechanism now appears to be a tool for prioritizing and legitimizing “dubious and destructive” energy projects like the proposed Atimonan power plant, a project with a long record of violating processes established to protect the interests of electricity consumers and host communities.

Pedrosa cites Meralco, through its power generation arm Meralco PowerGen Corp. (MGen) that wholly owns the Atimonan One Energy (A1E), as a ‘habitual violator’ of procedures and human and ecological rights.

Atimonan fisherfolk member Joseph Benedict recounted instances of irregularities in the procurement of community consent to the project.

“On 2012, Atimonan community members, including fisherfolk, were made to be on board the Atimonan project because it postured as a Liquefied Natural Gas project. On 2014, however, the project turned out to be of coal plants instead. However, no new public scoping was made in response to this new project, and the conducted public hearing had suppressed opposing community members, like my fellow fisherfolk, from voicing out our resistance,” said Benedict.

Benedict stated that this kind of suppression of opposition from communities is on top of instances of harassment and land grabbing made against fisherfolk and coconut farmers alike.

According to Sanlakas Secretary-General Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, this irregular conduct of procuring local consent violates Sections 26 and 27 Local Government Code, provisions which require a meaningful consultation with local government units, nongovernmental organizations, and other sectors concerned as regards any project.

Pedrosa also stated that aside from irregularities in the process for local consultation with the people of Atimonan, MGen’s coal project has also been involved in violating the process for submission of Power Supply Agreements (PSAs) in the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), a process which seeks to ensure that electricity consumers are given the cheapest, most competitive source of electricity.

“MGen, along with other Meralco-affiliated coal companies, have been the subject of cases filed in the Ombudsman for their alleged collusion with officials from the ERC,” said Pedrosa.

“Clearly, MGen has formed a habit of gross disregard for law and for community welfare,” he added.

Energy research institution Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) claimed that the consideration of the Atimonan project as one of the first possible EPNS highlights how EO30 can be utilised to advance a fossil fuel-dependent energy development path for the next 20-25 years in under 30 days.

“Globally, the trend is towards retiring existing coal-fired power plants, whether HELE or not, and to stop further implementation of coal projects. Coal projects are increasingly becoming obsolete and economically unviable,” said CEED Legal and Policy Officer Atty. Avril De Torres.

De Torres cited studies by energy economics institutes which emphasized findings on governments worldwide that have been adopting policies of pricing coal projects according to surfaced environmental, health, and economic costs of constructing and maintaining coal projects.

According to De Torres, these resulting changes in the global energy market put coal projects at the risk of being stranded assets and it is the public at large that will be paying for an economically unviable coal project.

“The classification of coal plant projects as an EPNS goes against existing policies, laws and global trends that favor renewable energy projects over fossil fuels,” said De Torres.

“It’s frightening to think that because a coal project can be considered as EPNS, it can be decided in less than a month to be our source of energy for the next decades,” she concluded.






12th International Food Exhibition Philippines
From L-R: DTI Undersecretary Rowel Barba, DTI Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado, Food and Agriculture Organization Representative Jose Luis Fernandez, DA Secretary Emmanuel Pinol and Venezuelan Ambassador to the Philippines Capaya Rodríguez González.

DTI supports coastal communities through int’l food expo

May 25, 2018

MAKATI CITY – The Department of Trade and Industry through its Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) featured the ‘best of the seas’ as it welcomed buyers for the 12th International Food Exhibition Philippines (IFEX) 2018 on May 25 to May 27, 2018 at the World Trade Center and Philippine Trade Training Center in Pasay City.

“Marking its return as an annual event, IFEX Philippines 2018 will highlight the country’s finest seafood to fulfill the growing global demand for marine product and coastal cuisines,” said DTI Trade and Investment Promotion Group Undersecretary and CITEM Officer-in-Charge Nora K. Terrado.

Participated in by over 450 Philippine micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) including those from coastal communities from Northern Luzon and Mindanao, the trade show is composed of four major exhibition halls: Food Philippines Hall, International Hall, Food Artisans Hall, and the Marketplace.

“This is also our way of supporting the promotion of agribusiness sector in the country that provides employment opportunities especially in the regions,” added Terrado.

Among the municipalities joining the said trade show is the General Santos City, the Tuna Capital of the Philippines. Local companies will showcase their world‐class tuna varieties, including skipjack, yellowfin, bluefin, and bigeye tuna, in different packaging options during the three-day show.

“General Santos City is home to one of the world’s best‐tasting tuna catches available to the international and local market and we wanted to highlight this as we position the Philippines as a go‐to sourcing destination for high‐quality tuna and tuna‐like species,” said Terrado.

As of 2016, the city’s tuna industry generates 65 percent of the country's over-all tuna catch and employs around 200,000 workers.

According to Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), the Philippines is top three tuna producer in the world in terms of volume. Eighty (80) percent of Philippines seafood is exported to the United States and the European Union, with a value of approximately US $120 million export earnings per year.

“The Philippines is also currently ranked as the second largest manufacturer of canned and processed tuna in Asia, after Thailand, with a majority of this catch landed in the port of General Santos City,” said Terrado.

SEAFDEC data also showed that tuna is the Philippines’ top export fish commodity valued at P19.6 billion pesos in 2014, making up 35 percent of the country’s total fishery export.

IFEX Philippines 2018 is the country’s biggest international trade exhibition on the Philippines’ and Asia's ethnic and specialty food, tropical fruits, vegetables, seafood, beverages, bakery and confectionery products, meat and poultry, Halal-certified products, as well as natural, organic, and healthy food products.

To streamline export deals, DTI-CITEM opened its ‘IFEX Connect’ program, a customized platform for integrated business-to-business (B2B) matching services to help buyers identify and screen potential business partners among the exhibitors, in collaboration with DTI’s Export Marketing Bureau (EMB).

“We expect a more upbeat exchange of trade deals, sealing of partnerships and knowledge transfer through our B2B activities and learning seminars,” said Terrado.

In its previous four editions in 2011 to 2017, IFEX Philippines has already welcomed nearly 6,600 international and local buyers across the world: 1,270 in 2011, 1,259 in 2013, 1,976 in 2015 and 2,092 in 2017 – increasing at an average of 14 percent over the past four editions.

From 2009 to 2017, the top 10 countries where these buyers came from are the United States, Japan, Singapore, China, United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Malaysia, Australia, Taiwan and Canada, respectively.

The 12th edition of IFEX is organized by the DTI-CITEM in close partnership with Department of Agriculture (DA), through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS).





Government: No. 1 on list of violators of illegal contracting

endo violators

May 25, 2018

QUEZON CITY – If there is an entity that should be in the list of violators of illegal contracting or sub-contracting, then the first on the list should be the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, Ferdinand Gaite of COURAGE said.

In President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent Labor Day speech, he ordered DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello to submit the list of violators of illegal contracting or subcontracting with today as the deadline. This after Duterte signed Executive Order No. 51 which was supposed to end contactualization but instead only reiterated what was already in the Labor Code or Herrera Law allowing “labor contracting”. Gaite said that with the more than 720,000 non-regular workers called casuals, contractuals, job orders, contract of service and others out of the 2.3 million government employees, the government is the largest violator and should be the first to be penalized. This figure pales in comparison with other private companies such as Jollibee, McDonalds, SM and others who have also violated the law against illegal contracting.

According to the Inventory of Government Human Resources of the Civil Service Commission as of 2016, the 720,000 non-regular employees can be found in various government agencies with the Department of Public Works and Highways (22,419), Department of Health (21,424), and the Department of Social Work and Development (20,890) at the top three. Also at the top are the Quezon City Local Government (10,249), Department of Agriculture (9,496), Department of Transportation (8,455), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (8,123) and the Department of Education (6,602). Notable also is that 420,000 of the non-regular workers mostly come from the 1,715 local government units.

In a noontime picket at the DA today, government employees demanded from the Duterte administration for the immediate end of contractualization as he had longtime promised. Roxanne Fernandez of the Kawani Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon (KALAKON) and a contractual employee from the National Anti-Poverty Commission said that as non-regular workers, they have no security of tenure, no social insurance protection, no or minimal benefits, disallowed from joining unions, have relatively lower pay but actually pay higher taxes as they are treated as “individual contractors” or a business entity.

Fernandez also pushed for the passage of House Bill 7415 authored by the Makabayan bloc in the lower house which seeks to prohibit contractualization in government, grant security of tenure and civil service eligibility for all non-regular workers who have rendered at least 6 months of government service. She said that this should be made a priority bill and urged the lawmakers to immediately pass the bill. She said that Duterte should expect more protests from the public and private labor sector for his failed promises.





P70M Gandara-Matuguinao Road portion completed

Gandara-Matuguinao Road portion

May 24, 2018

CALBAYOG CITY – As part of the Build Build Build program of the present administration, the Department of Public Works and Highways -Samar First District Engineering Office completes the construction of the 2-kilometer road portion connecting Gandara and Matuguinao.

This project is beneficial to more or less 34,000 residents of the municipalities of Gandara and Matuguinao. It provides easier, safer and smoother access from Gandara to Matuguinao since the road gets muddy during rainy seasons.

“The long-time dream of our people to be connected to the growth centers of Samar has finally come true. This concrete road has a great impact to daily lives of the residents because they no longer have to travel in the muddy road, now they can easily transport the agricultural products in a convenient way,” said Inan Torres, a resident of the village of Pizarro in Matuguinao.

This project portion has an appropriation of P70 million and is under contract with B. Vicencio Construction. It was completed on February 18, 2018.





DPWH completes P50-M flood control in Calbayog

Calbayog flood control

May 24, 2018

CALBAYOG CITY – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) -Samar First District Engineering Office (SFDEO) completes the construction of flood control structures along Calbayog River (upstream) in Brgy. Hamorawon.

The project covers the construction of 336.57 meters of reinforced concrete river protection works on steel sheet piles foundation. It is under contract with B. Vicencio Construction with an appropriation of P50 million sourced out from the 2017 General Appropriations Act. It was completed on October 13, 2017.

The flood control structure mitigates the flooding caused by heavy rains and high tides, benefitting the people of Brgys. Hamorawon, Payahan, Dagum and adjacent barangays specifically those residing along the Calbayog River.

“Ever since this flood control project was completed, the river no longer overflows. We are so happy for this project because there are no more floods. We are so happy because before, we used boats to go to school and work but with this project, we now use the pathways provided by the flood control structure. It really has been a big help to our community,” said PO1 Jessica Amor, a local residing near the river.





PH to develop AI-enabled workforce to address the threat of AI

May 24, 2018

MANILA – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) together with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and tech pioneer company AI Pros, are set to join forces to train Filipinos in using Augmented Intelligence (AI2) as a solution to the impending threat of artificial intelligence on the jobs in the Information Technology - Business Process Outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry, while encouraging investors and operators to create more Socially Responsible Business Process Outsourcing (SRBPO) in the countryside.

“Instead of AI replacing jobs in the IT-BPO industry which is estimated to affect half of the 1.3 million jobs in the sector, the workers will be trained and upskilled to make use of AI2-enabled systems. Basically, it’s making the AI system become the solution to the problem,” Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez explained.

“Augmented Intelligence will combine the power of artificial intelligence with human intelligence to upskill the Filipino workforce and make them more effective and productive by enabling them to do complex and higher-paying tasks. This initiative, summed up under the “Philippine AI Workforce” brand campaign, will provide more jobs to Filipinos and bring the development to rural communities,” DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio added.

“We are the first country to launch this kind of initiative. Instead of looking at AI as a threat to the BPO industry, the Duterte administration is using AI2 to provide more opportunities for inclusive growth. We will train and enable our workforce, regardless of their background and experience, to use AI2 to perform smarter and complete difficult tasks, and help them move up the value chain. The training will make them employable, operating even in the rural areas to make this program truly inclusive,” said Sec. Lopez.

DTI and DICT will introduce the presence of AI2 solution to the BPO sector in the Philippines (PH). The AI2 solution will employ impact sourcing by involving the masses in the sector’s growth. This will allow 482,000 unskilled workers to handle low-skilled work, while 525,000 low-skilled workers will perform mid-skilled work, and 309,000 mid-skilled workers will be able to do high level tasks.

“The entire industry market is worth USD 262 billion and only USD 79 billion is outsourced. With the government’s initiative and push for innovation, we will be able to benefit from this market to open up more job opportunities for the Filipinos which is the priority of President Duterte,” said Sec. Lopez

“The idea here is to empower not only the existing BPO workers but also involve those at the rural areas. A pedicab driver or palengke vendor can be trained in using AI2 and start to perform even high-skilled jobs in IT-BPM,” the trade chief added.

With the help of AI Pros, a technology company founded by Diosdado Banatao and George Yang, industry operators will be assisted in expanding their businesses by designing, developing, and deploying AI2-based services that can be applied to retail, finance, services, and healthcare. Both Dr. Banatao and Dr. Yang are successful Filipino entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley who are committed to help the Filipinos level-up their skills in the age of technology.

To encourage IT-BPO operators to use an inclusive business model, expand their businesses to provinces and become Socially Responsible BPO, DTI through the Board of Investments (BOI) has this activity in the BOI Investment Priorities Plan, entitled to incentives.

The Department will then focus on promoting areas with high poverty rates to these companies and provide rural residents with 654,000 jobs.

“Operating in rural communities with high poverty rate will give BPO companies an opportunity to lower their labor cost while providing meaningful employment,” said DTI Assistant Secretary Rafaelita Aldaba.

“As we deepen our participation and upgrade along the global value chains of multinational companies, investments in AI activities in various sectors of the economy will be supported,” said Sec. Lopez while highlighting the inclusion of IT-BPM in the top industry priorities to drive the country’s growth and development under the Inclusive Innovation Industrial Strategy (i3S).

Meanwhile, DICT will supply a fast and inexpensive internet connection for the BPO operators located in the countryside. DICT’s 4,000 Tech4Ed centers nationwide will also be utilized to assist recruitment and AI training.

According to Sec. Rio, the government will focus on rebranding and promoting the new “Philippine AI Workforce” to support the BPO industry and improve the country’s competitiveness.

The BPO industry has been a key driver of PH growth for 15 years, supporting various industries such as banking, retail, property, and providing 18 million employment opportunities nationwide. In a 2017 report, 50% of the BPO operations are starting to be automated.





First quarter corn production in Eastern Visayas decreases by 9.6%

By PSA-8
May 23, 2018

TACLOBAN CITY – Corn production in Eastern Visayas decreased by 9.6% from 11,649 metric tons (MT) in the first quarter of 2017 to 10,528 MT in the same quarter of 2018. Decreases were observed among all provinces, except in Southern Leyte and Eastern Samar, which posted increases of 7.0% and 3.8%, respectively.

Among the provinces, Leyte produced the highest volume of corn at 7,101 MT, which comprised a little over two-thirds (67.4%) of the total corn production in the region. Biliran, meanwhile, had the lowest volume of production (118 MT) accounting for only 1.1%.

The total harvest area for corn in the region likewise decreased by 7.1%, from 8,081 hectares in the first quarter of 2017 to 7,507 hectares in the first quarter of 2018. Contributing largely to this decrease is Northern Samar with a drop of 30.1%.

Leyte recorded almost three quarters or 74.3% (5,574 hectares) of the total corn area harvested during the quarter in review, while Eastern Samar contributed the least (70 hectares) accounting for only 0.9%.

Yield per hectare for corn in the region remained at 1.4 metric tons per hectare.

Among the provinces, Eastern Samar posted the highest yield per hectare during the quarter in review at 2.0 MT per hectare. Biliran registered the lowest yield per hectare at 1.2 MT per hectare.

Eastern Visayas corn production





1st quarter palay production in Eastern Visayas declines by 2.1%

By PSA-8
May 23, 2018

TACLOBAN CITY – Palay production in Eastern Visayas declined by 2.1% from 285,616 metric tons (MT) in the first quarter of 2017 to 279,728 MT in the first quarter of 2018. Decreases were observed among all provinces, except in Northern Samar and Southern Leyte, which posted an increase of 12.1% and 4.8%, respectively.

Among the provinces, Leyte produced the highest volume of palay at 147,131 MT, which comprised more than half (52.6%) of the total palay production in the region. Biliran, meanwhile, had the lowest volume of production (1,938 MT) accounting for only 0.7%.

The total harvest area for palay in the region likewise decreased by 0.3%, from 89,139 hectares in the first quarter of 2017 to 88,865 hectares in the first quarter of 2018. Biliran contributed largely to this decrease posting a drop of 83.9%.

Leyte recorded almost two-fifths or 38.8% (34,498 hectares) of the total palay area harvested during the quarter in review, while Biliran contributed the least (429 hectares) accounting for only 0.5%.

Yield per hectare for palay in the region went down by 3.1%, from 3.2 MT per hectare in the first quarter of 2017 to 3.1 MT per hectare in the same quarter of 2018.

Among the provinces, Biliran and Southern Leyte posted the highest yield per hectare during the quarter in review at 4.5 MT per hectare. Eastern Samar registered the lowest yield per hectare at 2.1 MT per hectare.

Eastern Visayas palay production





Karapatan submits report on HR violations during 1-year of martial law in Mindanao to local officials, UN experts

May 22, 2018

QUEZON CITY – In letters to at least seven UN independent experts and special procedures, to Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Jose Luis Martin Gascon and to Sec. Silvestre Bello III, in his capacity as Chairperson of the Negotiating Panel in the Government of the Republic of the Philippines Peace Negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, Karapatan submitted a report on the civil and political rights violations during the one-year implementation of martial law in Mindanao under the administration of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte.

“The report outlines how the Duterte administration, through his own brand of war-on-terror with the imposition and extension of martial law in Mindanao and the continuing implementation of government’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan, has promoted State terrorism and violence in the Southern Philippines,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

Since the declaration of martial law on May 23, 2017, Karapatan documented at least 49 victims of extrajudicial killings in Mindanao, with an average of one victim killed every week. Most of the victims are indigenous peoples and members of local peasant organizations targeted for their local campaigns for genuine agrarian reform and against militarization.

Karapatan also documented 22 cases of torture, 116 victims of frustrated extrajudicial killings, 89 victims of illegal arrest and detention, and 336,124 victims of indiscriminate gunfire and aerial bombings. At least 404, 654 individuals have been displaced, largely because of these bombings. “Many more reported cases reveal a much graver magnitude of the effects of martial law. The dangers of ensuring security in traveling across the area prevent news gatherers and documenters from looking into field conditions so as to fully report on the human rights situation,” Palabay stated.

Karapatan called on the officials and UN experts to conduct an independent investigation on the rights violations during the imposition of martial law in Mindanao, the immediate lifting of martial law in Mindanao which has been used by Philippine State security forces as license to further perpetuate rights violations, the immediate investigation and prosecution of perpetrators which include the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and elements of the police; and an end to counter-insurgency programs like Oplan Kapayapaan which encourage the use of ‘hit lists’ that target activists and civilians.

The human rights organization also reminded the Philippine Government to pursue its commitments under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), and to adhere and respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all major human rights instruments that is a party and signatory.

Download the Report here.




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