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Saturday, May 30, 2009

ALI-BPI Property Exhibit at Glorietta 5, May 30-31, 2009



DOLE to lead three-day Independence Day job fair

Following the successful Labor Day job fair that hired 10,000 workers on the spot last May 1, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will conduct a bigger three-day nationwide job and livelihood fair as part of the observance of Independence Day on June 12, 2009.

 

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said the Kalayaan 2009 Mega Job and Livelihood Fair would be held simultaneously in 19 cities nationwide on June 12, 13, and 14 to mark the country's celebration of Independence Day this year. About 1,000 employers from the private and government sectors including those from the overseas recruitment industry would participate in the mega event.

 

Roque, thus, urged jobseekers to register this early for the Kalayaan job fair via the PhilJobnet system as this will give them the opportunity to be prioritized by firms and agencies that would participate in the three-day job fair.  

 

He said that registering with the system at http://phil-job.net would enable the job fair participating private firms and government agencies to pre-screen applicants and subsequently hasten the selection and on the spot hiring of those who are qualified during the three-day mega event.

 

He stressed that it would be advantageous for jobseekers to register with PhilJobNet as early as possible as some participating firms may start to hire applicants prior to the actual job fair.

 

For more information, interested applicants may use SMS. Text DOLE ON using Globe or TM cell phones and send to 2910.

 

 

The DOLE Chief said that participating private firms and government agencies as well would offer over 170,000 vacancies that include opportunities for overseas employment, thereby, making the three-day job fair the biggest, so far.

 

He said the first day of the job fair on June 12 would feature government agencies offering 50,000 vacancies especially for professionals and other jobseekers with civil service eligibility.  

 

The second day of the job fair on June 13 would feature private local companies offering some 70,000.  The following day, June 14, would feature recruitment agencies offering some 50,000 sea-based and land-based overseas employment.

 

Roque also said that government agencies nationwide would at the same time award about 30,000 emergency jobs to displaced and other unemployed workers under the emergency employment program of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

 

Under the program, local government units and other government offices including government-owned corporations and state schools at the provincial and regional levels with employ temporary workers in accordance with the President's Executive Order No. 782. The order provides for the temporary filling up of vacancies in the government using 1.5% of a government agency's maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE).

 

Meanwhile, the bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA) confirmed Roque's appointment as Labor and Employment Secretary during Wednesday's hearing, which was considered one of the fastest and unopposed confirmation hearings that the CA has conducted.

 

Endorsed by chairman of the CA labor committee Lanao del Norte Rep. Abdullah D. Dimaporo, Roque is an advocate of Filipino workers welfare.  He had helped developed the OFW employment standards and initiated the provision of welfare services for OFWs onsite. He is also adept in crisis management and dispute resolution having successfully managed mass evacuation, repatriation and negotiation for detained OFWs.  He is also an expert in the development of employment programs including the generation of niche deployment opportunities.



PRODUCTIVITY OLYMPICS 2009


  Bigger cash prizes awaits the national winners of the 2009 Productivity Olympics as the  National Wages and Productivity Commission and  the Regional Boards  yesterday announced that nomination for the contest is now open for micro, small and medium enterprises.

 

Following a successful launch last year, the search for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) with the best productivity improvement program continues in 2009.  Interested MSMEs may inquire and apply at the nearest Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards..

 

The competition aims to intensify awareness on the importance of productivity and to showcase best practices throughout the country.  With this year's theme, "Enhancing Quality and Productivity towards Competitiveness,"  the nWPC expects to gather more nominees as the event now has nine  categories, giving separate awards for enterprises in agribusiness, services and industry for the micro, small and medium categories.

 

The contest got underway with the official launching in  February at the Heritage Hotel in Manila.  The regional nominees  will be selected in July and the national winners will be selected in September.

 

It will culminate in October with the awarding of the  national winners in time for the celebration of the National Quality and Productivity Month.  Cash prizes, trophies and priority endorsements to various DOLE training programs await the winners.

 

Last year, the NWPC awarded seven (7)  MSMEs were awarded for having the best productivity improvement programs.  Winners under "Best in People Development" criteria were Natomo Manufacturing (Region I), Add Research Prints and Chemicals Inc. (Region IV-A), Tropics Agro Industries (Region V), Cagayan Valley Sanitarium and Hospital (Region II).  Winners under  "Best in Business Excellence" criteria were Kuya Orly's Café and Restaurant (CAR), Velomer Poultry Breeder Farms (Region X) and SLERS Industries, Inc. (Region X).

 

For 2009, the NWPC and its Regional Boards will continue to take more aggressive efforts in promoting workforce and enterprise productivity, particularly of MSMEs.  Productivity improvement is a survival strategy to efficiently manage resources and organize production, especially in times of economic uncertainty and fluctuating market demand.  A number of companies take advantage of production lulls by pursuing various human resource development programs in preparation for economic recovery. 



Friday, May 29, 2009

Strengthen barangray health centers - Chiz

Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday said the government should pour more funds to strengthen barangay health centers which could be the weakest link in the anti-flu (A-HINI) prevention and containment drive.

"We all know that our barangay health centers have been neglected. If an outbreak occurs, particularly in our urban poor communities, we would be hard press in containing the spread of this dreaded virus," he said in a statement.

"The barangay health center is our last line of defense in the health care system. We should have a capability check so we will know exactly in which area we are most vulnerable," Escudero added.

He made the call following the disclosure of Health Secretary Francisco Duque that AHINI flu cases in the country have risen to 14 while 21 people are being monitored for the presence of the virus.

Escudero said the problems of many barangays with health centers usually have to do with the unavailability of medical staff, inadequate facilities, and insufficient supply of medicines.

A recent report by VERA Files shows that health spending has sharply declined during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, "forcing Filipinos to spend more for badly needed health services."

It said that last year, total national government spending dropped by 27.5 percent to P253.00 per Filipino.

"If this is true, this government's priorities are sadly and deplorably skewed," Escudero said.

He urged the Department of Health to immediately conduct an inventory of resources available in barangay health centers especially in communities which cluster near schools.

Escudero reiterated his call for the administration to release funds from its own pork barrel to beef up its anti-flu campaign.

"Let us not be distracted by the political noise as well as the fleeting controversies that crowd the headlines. We have to protect the poorest among us who could face the brunt of an epidemic," he said.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

MSC makes first call at ICTSI Syria

 Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) recently made its maiden call to Tartous International Container Terminal (TICT) in Tartous, Syria.  MSC Augusta, which has a capacity of 1,879-twenty foot equivalent unit, now calls twice a month at TICT.  Augusta is joined by Adele, Annamaria and Accra in MSC's Tartous, Llatakia, Izmir, Gioia, Tauro, Venic, Ravenna, Ancona, Piraeus, Limassol, Beirut, Llatakia Adriatic service.  Photo shows Romeo Salvador (far right), TICT chief executive officer and general manager, awarding the commemorative certificate to Capt. Antonio Galano (4th from left), vessel master. Witnessing the awarding were (from left): Houssam Houssad, TICT operations manager; Abdullah Suleiman, Dalia shipping enterprise manager and Augusto Oblego, TICT terminal manager.  MSC, a privately owned company, started in 1970, and is one of leading shipping lines in the world.  TICT is a subsidiary of International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
(ICTSI) a leading developer of international ports and terminals with a global port network spanning 13 countries.  Headquartered in the Philippines, ICTSI is on its 20th year of operation, and continues to pursue container terminal opportunities around the world.

NEDA BOARD APPROVES FOUR PROJECTS ON RENEWABLE ENERGY, AGRICULTURE, LGUs ? INVESTMENT PROGRAM

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board today approved the following projects: Renewable Energy and Climate Change (REACH) Facility, Agricultural Credit Support Project, Establishment of Modern Rice Processing Complexes in the Philippines and Request for a EUR7 million Fund Replenishment of the KfW (German Development Bank) Loan for the Local Government Units Investment Program.

Loan Facility for REACH projects

The REACH financing facility, with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) as loan conduit, aims to provide local government units (LGUs), government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) and private enterprises access to medium and long-term funds to finance their projects involving renewable energy, climate change mitigation and adaptation including projects featuring European Union (EU) interests. Private corporations that can avail of the loan must be at least 70 percent Filipino-owned.national government agencies, on the other hand, cannot borrow from this facility.  

The REACH facility is estimated to cost about PhP6.2 billion (Euro 100.0 million), of which 50 percent or PhP3.1 billion will be financed through the European Investment Bank (EIB) Loan while the remaining 50 percent will be provided through the LBP, financing from other banks or sub-borrowers' equity.

The facility, which will be disbursed in three years from the fourth quarter of 2009 to 2012, is expected to generate about 3,495 new jobs.


Loan assistance to farmers, fisherfolk and SMEs

The revised cost for the Agriculture Credit Support Project (ACSP) (formerly known as the Support Program for Agri-Enterprise Development) was also approved by the NEDA Board as this project can increase investments, create new job opportunities and improve agricultural productivity in the rural areas.

With the ACSP, loans directly from LBP or through its conduits shall be extended to small farmers and fisherfolk, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and large agribusiness enterprises.

The Board approved the changes in the loan amount for the non-credit component and in implementation schedule of the ACSP which were recommended by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Appraisal Mission dispatched last March.

The loan amount for the noncredit component will be revised from PhP154 million to PhP227 million.

The ACSP is expected to generate 53,230 jobs.


Modern Rice Processing Complexes

To be funded through a grant assistance from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the PhP785-million modern rice processing complex project is expected to increase the income of 5,160 farmer beneficiaries and provide employment opportunities for people in Pangasinan, Iloilo, Bohol and Davao del Sur.

Through this project, the income of target farmer beneficiaries shall be increased through improved efficiency in rice post-production systems.. This will reduce postharvest losses, enhance the quality of milled rice, improve distribution system and maximize rice by-products.

The total project cost is estimated at PhP785 million, of which PhP649 million is the grant component and PhP136 million will be the GOP counterpart to be provided by the Department of Agriculture and concerned local government units.

The processing complexes will be established in (1) Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan; (2) Pototan, Iloilo; (3) Pilar, Bohol; and (4) Matanao, Davao del Sur. These will be constructed simultaneously over the next two years.

This project is expected to generate 2,737 direct employment during construction, 3,957 direct employment during operations, and 189,724 indirect employment.


Investment Programme for LGUs

Moreover, the NEDA Board likewise approved LBP's request for a EUR7 million fund replenishment of the KfW loan for the LGUs investment programme (LIP).


        The LBP requested for an additional fund replenishment amounting to PhP429.83 million and loan extension of four years, from December 31, 2010 to December 31, 2014.

        The Programme aims to facilitate the access of LGUs to long-term funds and address their long-term financing needs for investment and development projects. This facility shall be available nationwide with preference to LGUs in the Visayas and Mindanao to complement other German development projects.

        The project has generated 1,390 jobs during its implementation.



-end-

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

RP, JICA SIGN GRANT AGREEMENT ON JAPANESE-ASSISTED PROJECTS WORTH OVER PhP2B

The Government of the Philippines, represented by Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director General Ralph G. Recto, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), represented by JICA-Philippines Chief Representative Norio Matsuda, today signed agreements on three Japan-assisted grant projects amounting to over PhP2 billion.

The projects are: improvement of the meteorological radar system in the Philippines; project for the bridge construction for expanded agrarian reform communities; and the Japanese Grant Aid for Human Resource Development (JDS).

"We appreciate the Japanese government's initiative to provide, among others, radar systems, dams and reconstruction of damaged infrastructure such as bridges in the country.  These equipment and infrastructure support are very much aligned with one of the Philippine government's priorities, that is, natural disaster prevention and mitigation," Recto said in his remarks.

The radar system project, with the PAGASA as proponent, amounts to more than PhP1.6 billion and is so far the biggest Japanese grant-assisted project provided to the country. It involves the replacement of three existing meteorological radar systems in Aparri, Cagayan; Virac, Catanduanes; and Guian, Samar. It aims to effectively prevent damages caused by tropical storms or typhoons by enhancing the capability of PAGASA in weather monitoring and weather information or warning dissemination. The diplomatic Exchange of Notes for this project was signed last March 30.

Meanwhile, the PhP302-million Bazal bridge construction project involves the construction and replacement of existing wooden bridge that crosses Bazal river along the boundary between two barangays in Maria Aurora, Aurora province. The grant agreement for the conduct of the detailed design study for this project was signed by Recto and Matsuda last April 20.

The JDS, another Japan grant-assisted project, amounts to about PhP149 million It aims to provide qualified Filipinos with the opportunity to obtain Master's degree at Japanese universities to support the human resource development policy of Japan, and eventually to extend and strengthen the bilateral relationship between Japan and the Philippines


The JDS project funds 20 scholarship slots for young Filipino government employees who are expected to play leadership roles in the Philippines and those who will contribute to the socioeconomic development of the country in the following fields of study: Economics, Business Administration, Public Administration, Information and Communications Technology, and Industrial Development.

About 84 scholars out of 159 grantees had graduated and came back to use their skills and knowledge gained in Japan while 50 grantees have ongoing studies in Japan and 25 more successful candidates were selected under the seventh batch for July 2009 intake. The Exchange of Notes for the eighth batch of JDS scholars was signed last May 19.

Chiz to LGUs: Make sure dorms are not fire traps

Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero called on concerned local government officials to conduct regular inspections of dormitories in Metro Manila, particularly in the University Belt and along Taft Avenue to see if they meet safety and sanitation standards.

 

"Thousands of students leave the provinces every year to study in Manila and most of them stay temporarily in dormitories. We must ensure that these structures are built properly so that fire risks are minimized, especially now that classes are about to resume," he said.

 

Escudero co-authored Senate Bill 2553, which updates the 30-year-old Fire Code of the Philippines, to make the country's fire prevention measures more effective.

 

The bill requires the accreditation and training of fire volunteers nationwide and provides stiffer penalties against erring personnel of the Bureau of Fire Protection who fail to perform their duties in terms of preventing damages to properties or protecting the lives of people during fires.

 

It also imposes stricter penalties against building owners who do not comply with the Fire Code.

 

"Fire disaster-preparedness should be instilled by the authorities in the minds of students, particularly those living in dormitories, since many of them are built close to each other."

 

He expressed hope that SB 2553 will make fire officials more accountable for their action or inaction, especially when it comes to the enforcement of fire laws, since there are administrative sanctions as well as criminal liabilities for acts of omission and negligence should they fail to do their duty.

 

 

Dr Pepper Snapple Group "Ready for Any Size Planogram Project" with JDA Planogram Generator

 Scottsdale, Ariz. – May 26, 2009 JDA® Software Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: JDAS) today announced that Dr Pepper Snapple Group, one of the largest beverage companies in North America with $5.7 billion in sales, is in production with JDA® Planogram Generator and winning new business as a result of its innovative capabilities. JDA's Category Management solution enables Dr Pepper Snapple Group to mass produce store-specific planograms for any sized retail customer, thus the company is increasing its retail partnerships and making current accounts more strategic by adjusting for seasonality and changing consumer demand faster than its competitors.

"We are ready to take on any sized planogram project for even the largest tier-one retailers with JDA Planogram Generator," said John Williams, director, category management, Dr Pepper Snapple Group. "While our past process would take as much as 600 hours and require 10 people to support, we now have a fully automated process that takes about 40 hours to generate an equivalent number of planograms. JDA's solution accounts for bottler and fixture complexities, scales to an unlimited planogram quantity and leaves no room for human error, which saves our retail team at a minimum three weeks that they can now put towards higher-value projects."

"Instead of setting our retail customers' planograms once per year, we can perform resets twice a year or even more, which many of our competitors just can't handle," Williams added.

Dr Pepper Snapple Group is using JDA Planogram Generator to produce massive quantities of highly detailed planograms for its 50-plus brands that include Dr Pepper, Snapple, 7UP, Mott's and Canada Dry. Since JDA's solution incorporates attributes such as user-defined merchandising rules, fixtures, assortment and performance data, Dr Pepper Snapple Group can quickly adjust product placement based on shopper insights and shifting preferences across stores to more effectively manage categories and increase profitability. 

"Dr Pepper Snapple Group has reached a whole new level of competitive advantage in serving its customers and helping them better harness changes in consumer demand," said David Johnston, senior vice president of manufacturing and wholesale distribution, JDA Software. "We're thrilled to have the company leverage JDA's Planogram Generator in its fast-paced industry to generate market specific planograms for 1000's of stores with unmatched speed. Dr Pepper Snapple Group is now in a terrific position to take on more categories, make its current accounts more strategic and offer an industry-leading space management program that surpasses the requirements of the world's largest retailers."

Dr Pepper Snapple Group Receives Recognition at JDA FOCUS

With the support of JDA Category Management solutions, Dr Pepper Snapple Group rates itself as being in the Top 1 percent of all consumer product goods companies in the area of space technology, process and methodology. JDA recently honored Dr Pepper Snapple Group for "Best in Collaboration" with its customer TravelCenters of America at the JDA FOCUS 2009 annual user conference. The companies' collaborative program is also supported by JDA® Space Planning, JDA® Space Automation, and JDA® Intactix Knowledge Base solutions. The following are real results the companies have achieved with the support of JDA:

§         Maintained a 2 to 3 percent growth in sales while competitors' sales declined by 4 to 6 percent

  • Decreased inventory levels by 7 to 9 percent
  • Improved in-stock position by more than 4 percent
  • Maintained a 99.5 percent in-stock average, which far exceeds all other chain categories

For more information on the JDA's Category Management solutions, including JDA Planogram Generator, visit http://www.jda.com/solutions/category-management-overview.html.

About Dr Pepper Snapple Group

            Dr Pepper Snapple Group (NYSE: DPS) is one of the largest beverage companies in the Americas. We manufacture, market and distribute more than 50 brands of carbonated soft drinks, juices, ready to drink teas, mixers and other premium beverages across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Our diverse portfolio includes Dr Pepper, Snapple, 7UP, Mott's, A&W, Sunkist Soda, Canada Dry, Hawaiian Punch, Schweppes, Peñafiel, Squirt, Clamato, Mr & Mrs T Mixers, Rose's, Yoo-hoo and other consumer favorites.

About JDA Software Group, Inc.

JDA® Software Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: JDAS) is the world's leading supply chain solutions provider, helping companies optimize operations and improve profitability. JDA drives business efficiency for its global customer base of more than 5,800 retailers, manufacturers, wholesaler-distributors and services industries companies through deep domain expertise and innovative solutions. JDA's combination of unmatched services, together with its integrated yet modular solutions for merchandising, supply chain planning and execution and revenue management, leverage the strong heritage and knowledge capital of market leaders including Manugistics, E3, Intactix and Arthur. When supply chain results matter, companies turn to JDA.

Chiz calls on government officials, employees to voluntarily submit SALs

Opposition Senator Chiz Escudero yesterday called on all government officials to voluntarily submit and make public their statements of assets and liabilities (SALs) as part of efforts to ensure more transparency in government.

"We lack transparency in government. Our country has been ranking as one of the lowest in transparency surveys. If we are to curb corruption in the public service, we have to start with the very people that run the show," Escudero said.

A voluntary disclosure of the SALs of public officers, Escudero said, is just one of the ways of increasing transparency in government.

"This way, we can see if a government official or employee has enriched himself or herself during tenure. Public office is a public trust, and we cannot allow corrupt public officers to seek refuge under the protection of our banking secrecy laws," he said.

The senator also batted for the passage of a bill he filed which would enable the government to examine the bank accounts and investments of public servants.

Escudero said Senate Bill No. 1476 puts in place a mechanism that allows the government to audit the finances of all public officers by requiring them to submit a written permission or waiver in favor of the Office of the Ombudsman.

"But until this bill is approved and passed into law by Congress, we should address the lack of transparency in government. This is why I am asking all government officials to voluntarily submit their SALs and make it public so that the Filipino people may know who enriched themselves during government service," he added.

According to the senator, a similar policy had been enforced in the United States, particularly among members of the Judiciary.

"The financial information on judges and employees working in Federal Courts may be requested by the public online. All one has to do is fill up a form. Why can't we do that here?" Escudero asked.

"I stress the importance of increasing transparency in government. International corruption watchdogs have been tagging the Philippines as not only one of the most corrupt in the Asia, but in the world as well," he said.

Escudero cited Transparency International's annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI), where the Philippines has been spiraling downwards for the last five years, as an indication of how the international community views the country when it comes to corruption.

"We were ranked 102 in 2004 and in 2008, we dipped to 141st. We have to arrest this negative perception if we want to survive as a nation. It doesn't just affect us politically, but also economically. No one wants to invest in a country that is perceived to be corrupt," the senator explained.

Chiz opposes privatization of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines

Opposition Senator Chiz Escudero sought the approval of a proposed new charter for the Girl Scouts of the Philippines (GSP) which celebrated on Tuesday its 69th founding anniversary.

 

"The GSP is one of the existing organizations in the country today that effectively promotes the objectives embodied as a Constitutional policy. We should not allow its treatment as a private institution erode the special status and support it has gained throughout its 68 years of existence," he said in a statement yesterday.

 "The GSP's mission is to help girls and young women realize the ideals of womanhood and prepare them for their roles and responsibilities in the home and in nation-building," Escudero said.

 

 The senator explained that Executive Order 495 issued during the administration of President Corazon Aquino superseded Commonwealth Act 542, the GSP's charter enacted on May 26, 1940, in line with its Corporate Rationalization Program.

 

 By virtue of this EO, GSP has been ordered to convert itself into a private corporation and register with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

 

 Escudero warned that turning the GSP into a private corporation threatens its continuity as an organization "as it will be relatively easier to dissolve a private corporation than an organization mandated by law."

 

 He also said that support from educational institutions and local government units could dry up once the GSP becomes an ordinary corporation.

 

 Escudero has filed Senate Bill 2900 seeking to a new charter of the GSP with further amendments to provide the institution with permanence, structure and identity.

 

He added that as part of the 144-strong World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, the GSP helps promote and strengthen global unity and cooperation among young women all over the world.

 "It also establishes open communications among girls and young women around the globe through correspondence and cultural exchanges and visits. The importance of the GSP to our girls and to the nation as well cannot be understated," Escudero said.

 

DPWH CREATES ANTI-RED TAPE TEAM

TO immediately implement the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007 and Administrative Order No. 241 of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Department of Public Works and Highways creates the Citizen's Charter Team (DPWH-CCT).
Through Special order No. 68, DPWH Secretary Hermogenes E. Ebdane Jr. has assigned Assistant Secretary Raul Asis as Chairperson of the CCT with DPWH Planning Service Director Melvin Navarro as Vice Chairman.
" The new DPWH CCT will determine which processes or transactions constitute the frontline services of the department and they will reengineer existing transaction systems and procedures, formulate steps in providing service, forms used, requirements, processing time and fees or charges" Ebdane said.
Ebdane also added that the citizen's charter team will also set a standard, feedback, complaints and redress mechanisms and initiate promotions, training, monitoring and evaluation and perform other activities related to the Anti-Red Tape Act implementation in the central and field offices.
Among the members of the CCT are Project Manager Criste Navida,  Project Manager Patrick Gatan , Director Burt Favorito,  Director Aristeo Reyes and Director Ardeliza Medenilla
Meanwhile, a technical working group was also created to assist the new DPWH CCT. DPWH Bureau of Research and Standard Assistant Director Judy Sese was appointed as Head while Bureau of Design Assistant Director Gilberto Reyes was assigned as Assistant Head.
Members of the TWG include Serafin Recta-Comptrollership and Financial Management Service, Marichu Palafox-Accounting Division, Elizabeth Pilorin- OIC-Chief Public Information Division, Jesus Cruz- Property Division, Aristarco Doroy-Bureau of Design and  Anabelle Delos Reyes-Monitoring and Information Service.

LOCAL ROADS IN BULACAN NOW INCLUDED IN THE NATIONAL ROAD NETW

Considered as vital access roads linking major agricultural areas in major municipalities in Bulacan Province, the Department of Public Works and Highways has converted three (3) local roads into national roads to assure effective monitoring and maintenance of the road network.
In his Department Order No. 22, DPWH Secretary Hermogenes E. Ebdane Jr. has declared that the  Brgy. San Roque Angat to Dona Remedios Trinidad Road (7.8 Km), Dona Remedios Trinidad to Akle San Ildefenso Road (12.9 Km), and Brgy Akle, San Ildefenso to Sibul, San Miguel Road Section (19.4 Km) into national roads.
" These roads are vital in the agricultural communities especially to the rice farmers in the municipalities of Dona Remedios, San Ildefonso and San Miguel Bulacan, now that they are converted into national roads, we can now allot funds for their immediate maintenance works along the road network and make them passable at all times" Ebdane said.
Under Executive Order No. 124 Series of 1987, the DPWH was authorized to classify roads and highways into national, provincial, city, municipal, and barangay roads. However the local roads to be converted shall conform with the criteria set by DPWH for national roads.
The said road network will be monitored and maintained by the DPWH Bulacan Second District Engineering Office.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Capital and consumer goods buoy 6.9 percent month-on-month imports growth

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ralph G. Recto said that "for the first time since July 2008, merchandise imports grew on a month-on-month basis, by 6.9 percent from February this year with both capital and consumer goods leading the way".

Data from the National Statistics Office (NSO) showed that compared to the previous month, the value of inward shipments of capital goods and consumer goods increased significantly by 20.7 percent and 18.6 percent, respectively. Import payments of capital goods were buoyed by land transport equipment (56.5%), telecommunication equipment and electrical machineries (38.2%), office and electronic data processing (EDP) machine(21.9%), and power generating and specialized machines (3.9%).

Meanwhile, the increase in imports of telecommunication equipment and electrical machinery from the previous month coupled with the decline in materials/accessories for the manufacture of electronic equipment made the former the country's top import commodity.

The month-on-month increase in consumer goods was broadly supported by both durable and non-durable goods which improved by 7.2 percent and 25.5 percent, respectively. Imports of miscellaneous durable manufactures (70.7%), fish and fish preparation (77.9%), beverages and tobacco (49.7%), other food and live animals (33.3%), rice (32.7%), and articles of apparel and accessories (28.2%)posted remarkable month-on-month growth rates.

In a memorandum to President Arroyo, Recto however added that "despite the positive performance in March, the negative effects of the global financial crisis continued to wear down the local appetite for foreign goods". The NSO announced that the country's merchandise imports fell by 36.2 percent year-on-year.

"But the country's imports statistics compared reasonably well with that of our Asian neighbors. Japan's imports for March year-on-year dropped by 36.6 percent while imports in Korea and Thailand fell by 36 percent and 29.7 percent, respectively," said Recto, who is also director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority.

Cumulatively, payments for imported goods reached only US$9.6 billion in the first quarter of 2009 which is a 34.3-percent decline from the same period last year. The trade deficit, on the other hand, reached US$1.7 billion for the first three months of the year, about US$394 million less than what was accounted for in the same period last year.

On the downside, major commodity groups continued to post negative growth rates for at least five straight months led by the double-digit declines in capital goods (-34.9%), raw materials and intermediate goods (-29.9%), and mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials (-60.1%).

Raw materials and intermediate goods and mineral fuels and lubricants continued to contract, registering 0.3 percent and 3.5 percent decline vis-à-vis February 2009.

The United States remains the biggest source of imports in March this year with a 12.2-percent share, followed by Japan with 11.5-percent share. Other major sources of imports were People's Republic of China (9.1%), Singapore (8.0%) and Taiwan (7.4%).

Monday, May 25, 2009

Migrants group condemns OWWA’s callousness on pleading OFW family

As the family of Emy Pepito prepared to meet his repatriated remains, Migrante International lashed out at the OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administrations) for not delivering any its much hyped services to the distressed family. The family, together with the officers of Migrante International, trooped to the office of OWWA administrator Carmelita Dimzon to demand for the funeral and burial assistance so that they will be able to claim the remains of Pepito which will arrive at the NAIA 1 airport by 1:00 pm, May 25, 2009.

 

"When will the agony for the Pepito family end? When will this government live true to its oath of protecting our OFWs? First, they had to pressure the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) to act so Emy's remains can be repatriated. They waited six months for the repatriation. But they still cannot pay their last respects to their loved one as OWWA refuses to give any burial assistance to the family," lamented Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.

Martinez asserts that Pepito is a documented OFW who paid all the necessary exactions required by the government thus must be fully accorded services sue any paying member. This includes funeral and burial assistance from OWWA.

Emy Pepito, 29 years old, who hails from Osamiz City, went to work as a construction worker in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2006. His dreams in working abroad abruptly ended on a tragic note when he was buried alive in sand mixed with boiling asphalt while he was working on the foundation of a building. The incident happened last November 12, 2008.

"After being stored at the morgue in Saudi Arabia for six months, we are afraid that the remains of Pepito will lie rotting at the Pair Pags in NAIA if the OWWA will continue to deny Pepito's family the assistance that is due them." Martinez exclaimed.

"This is another proof of how neglected OFWs' or their families' welfare are under this government. But, when it comes to collecting fees from OFWs, OWWA is well- known to be very efficient. It is when they are collecting fees that OFWs are bagong bayanis but when they need help, OWWA seems to be deliberately slow when it comes to providing assistance," said Garry Martinez, " Intensifying its labor export policy as government's response to crisis will certainly lead to more cases such as that of Pepito's."

Aside from Emy Pepito, Migrante also cited the cases of Eduardo Reyes who died in Riyadh last March 6, 2009 and Marilou Macam who died last November 23, 2008, in Jeddah whose families, up until now, continue to demand for the repatriation of the remains of their loved ones. ###

Chiz Calls for 5 more DepEd Reps in GSIS Board

Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday pushed for the passage of a bill amending the GSIS charter to increase to five the number of seats for the Department of Education (DepEd) in the board of trustees of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

 

"Our teachers must be given a greater representation in the GSIS. This will give them more power in formulating policies in the use of the financial resources of the GSIS," he said.

 

"They work for very little pay, their  benefits are always delayed, and they work under very horrible conditions. Let us not delay this any longer," said Escudero, who authored Senate Bill 3172.

 

He pointed out that more than half a million teachers and DepEd personnel represent about 40 percent of the 1.4 million total membership of state-run GSIS.

 

The bill also proposes to that the basis for the computation of service should be the date of appointment and not the date of first payment of GSIS premiums. It also puts a cap on the interest penalties for delayed payments to 2 percent.

 

Escudero, whose parents are former teachers, also wants to double funeral benefits to P24,000 for each GSIS member, which will be further increased to 35,000 in five years.

 

He also wants to increase the criminal liabilities for those who defraud the GSIS or fail to comply with the provisions of the GSIS law.

 

 

 

Agriculture is the Future

 

Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero said over the weekend that government should make agriculture one of its priorities to lessen the country's dependence on imports.

Philippine agricultural imports have continued to rise by about 12 percent annually since 2004 when it reached nearly $4 billion.

During the first half of 2008, total agricultural import expenditures reached more than $3 billion, or 12 percent of total import expenditures; among the biggest agricultural imports are milk and dairy products and wheat that account for nearly 25 percent of it.

"As a tropical nation we should focus on agriculture. But we are not doing anything to improve it. For example, while we have the capability to make the dairy industry better, government has not provided assistance and incentives for it," he said at a gathering of farmers in Nueva Ecija and Pampanga.

The Philippines imports about 85 percent of its dairy needs, with imports of milk and dairy products reaching $302 million during the first half of 2007 while domestic milk production was worth just $7.9 million.

Agricultural production accounted for about a fifth of the Philippine economic output of $168.6 billion in 2008.

Of the country's land area of 30 million hectares, about 47 percent is agricultural. Agriculture currently employs about 38 percent of total labor force of 36 million.

 "I have authored a bill to amend the National Dairy Authority (NDA) charter. For the longest time, the budget of the NDA, which is the government agency tasked to oversee the development of the Philippine dairy industry, has not been sufficient," Escudero lamented, noting that the 2009 budget for it is only P102 million.

"SB 2670 seeks to amend the National Dairy Act of 1995 (RA 7884) to step up development of the domestic dairy industry, regulate the entry of milk products more tightly, increase our local dairy market share, and strengthen the dairy industry so that we won't rely too much on imported milk for our needs," he said.

 

DOLE issues guidelines for H1N1 prevention in workplaces

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has issued guidelines on the prevention and control of the influenza A (H1N1) or swine flu in workplaces as it called on employers and workers to immediately put up plant level precautionary measures against the dreadful disease in view of recorded cases of H1N1 infection in the country.

 

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said DOLE Department Advisory No. 4, series of 2009, would guide employers and workers in setting up their own preventive measures against H1N1. 

 

Roque said the social partners and all the other sectors need to be vigilant against H1N1 to prevent its spread and save lives as the country is no longer swine-flu free.

 

He also said that necessary measures for the prevention and control of H1N1 should be part of plant-level efforts aimed at preventing disruptions that would  undermine workers' productivity and the growth of business and industry in the country.

 

"H1N1 poses a serious threat on people's lives and the economy as well," the DOLE Chief said as he urged employers and workers to collaborate in setting up preventive measures against the disease.

 

He said the social partners may delegate a focal person who would be responsible in monitoring and ensuring that the measures are strictly followed at the workplace, adding the DOLE is ready to assist establishments in building the capabilities of their H1N1 focal persons.

 

The DOLE, he added, would also provide technical assistance in risk assessment, use of protective equipment including a respirator program, and workplace improvements to reduce the likelihood droplet infection and contamination by materials possibly infected by H1N1.

 

The Labor and Employment Secretary said that in case a worker in public or private sector gets infected with H1N1, the worker may avail of P150,000 medical insurance package in addition to existing company health-care benefits and the PhilHealth coverage. PhilHealth members and their dependents infected with the disease may also avail of PhilHealth hospital benefits amounting to P75,000.

 

A worker who contracts H1N1 in the performance of his/her work is also entitled to sickness benefits under the Social Security System and employees compensation benefits under PD 626 or the ECC law, Roque said.

 

DOLE Advisory No. 4 enjoins establishments to regularly provide information about H1N1 including its transmission, disease outcome, and treatment options to their workers.  It also asked employers to monitor the health of their workers particularly those with fever and those who have traveled to countries affected by H1N1.

 

In the event that a worker is ill or has fever, he/she must be advised to take prudent measures to limit the spread of communicable diseases.  If the worker is suspected as having H1N1, the employer should immediately refer him/her to the company healthcare provider and subsequently decontaminate the work area. H1N1 symptoms include fever, cough, difficulty of breathing, vomiting or nausea, and diarrhea.

 

The advisory also stresses everyday actions to stay healthy and keep workplaces always clean with disinfectants. Workers are asked to cover the nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing; wash hands with soap and water frequently; spit at proper places; avoid close contact with sick individuals; and increase body resistance by having adequate sleep, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating nutritious food.

Friday, May 22, 2009

ICTSI Gdynia port gets ISO certification

Baltic Container Terminal (BCT) in Gdynia, Poland was certified compliant with ISO 9001: 2008 by Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance. BCT is the first Polish seaport to adhere to the upgraded global management standard.  Photo shows Jan Novak (center), BCT vice president receiving the compliance certificate from Maciej Liszko (right), Lloyd's Register deputy director in Poland. Andrzej Kujoth, BCT chief commercial officer, witnessed the awarding.  BCT is a subsidiary of International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI), a leading developer of international ports and terminals with a global port network spanning 13 countries. Headquartered in the Philippines, ICTSI is on its 20th year of operation, and continues to pursue container terminal opportunities around the world.

SSS benefit payments hit P68B in 2008

Social Security System disbursed a total of P67.92 billion  for benefits of members last year, up 12 percent from P60.75 billion
in 2007, a ranking official said today.

SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Romulo Neri said payments  for retirement and death benefits, which posted double-digit growths
in the past year, combined for 84 percent of the total or P57.36  billion.

He said SSS disbursed 13 percent more for retirement claims, which  rose to P32.68 billion from P28.91 billion in 2007, and payments for
death benefits amounted to P24.68 billion last year, up 12 percent  from P21.97 billion.

Neri said maternity benefits, which grew to P3.27 billion from P2.87 billion in 2007, posted the highest increase at 14 percent, while disability claims grew two percent to P3.29 billion, and funeral grants at seven percent to P2.25 billion.

"Benefits are based on the number and amount of contribution payments,  so we urge members to make paying SSS premiums a habit," Neri
said. "More contributions mean more benefits during times of need."

For self-employed and voluntary members, the deadline for paying  contributions falls on the 20th day after the applicable month or
quarter, while employers are required by law to remit employees'  monthly premiums on or before the tenth day of the following month.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chiz to Comelec: Reveal incorporators of remaining bidders now

Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Jose Melo to reveal the names of the incorporators of the remaining bidders for the P11.3-billion automation contract.

 

"It is about time for the Comelec disclose the names of the people running the consortiums whatever their decision maybe on their bids," he said in a statement.

 

Escudero, who is chair of the Senate oversight committee on poll automation, said Chairman Melo himself agreed that there was nothing wrong with releasing the documents of the bidders to the public.

 

"Chairman Melo did say that he wants 'as much as many people as possible looking over the (Comelec's) shoulders'," he said, referring to statements made by Melo during a hearing of the committee last April.

 

Escudero said by revealing the names of the incorporators at this stage, the Comelec will remove lingering doubts about the way the poll body is conducting the bidding for the single, biggest government project.

 

Only one bidder, Smartmatic International and Total  Information Management Corp., has passed the technical screening of the bidding committee. Two other bidders -- Sequioa Voting Systems and Universal Storefront Services Corp.; and Filipinas Systems, Gilat Satellite Network and EE Cruz and Co. – have asked the poll body to reconsider their disqualification.

 

Smartmatic/TIM submitted a bid of P7 billion for the poll automation project as against the 11.2 billion tendered by the group of Indra Sistemas, Strategic Alliance Holdings and Hart Intercivic.

 

Escudero also urged the Comelec to inform the people about its alternative plans should there be a failure of bidding.

 

"The Comelec should not be sending out smoke signals or releasing cryptic statements about its alternative plans. The people want clear and straightforward statements on how things stand," he said.

Training cum employment program for nurses gains support from pharmaceutical association

 

The nurse assigned in rural services (NARS) program that has, so far, deployed 5,000 unemployed registered nurses to poor municipalities gained the support of the country's largest pharmaceutical group, which agreed to sponsor the deployment of an additional 100 nurses to another 20 poor municipalities, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said.

 

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) through its PHAPCares Foundation entered into an agreement with the DOLE along with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) to provide for the former's sponsorship of 100 unemployed registered nurses who will be deployed to 20 poor municipalities under Project NARS.

 

PHAP is composed of more than 50 Filipino and international research-based pharmaceutical firms, manufacturers and retailers; generic pharmaceutical firms; pharmaceutical distribution firms; medical devices manufacturers; and health research firms. Its corporate social responsibility arm, PHAPCares Foundation, manages its social support programs that include donation of medicines for the poor and other disadvantaged Filipinos.

 

Roque said PHAP president Oscar Aragon and Reiner Gloor, PHAP executive director, signed the memorandum of agreement (MOA) guaranteeing their association's support to Project NARS.  Roque together with DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III and PRC Chairman Nicolas Lapena Jr. also signed the MOA.

 

The document was subsequently presented to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who launched Project NARS during the multi-sectoral summit on "Joining Hands Against the Global Crisis" in Malacanang last February 9.

 

Roque hailed the PHAP for extending its support to NARS stressing that the association's support will boost the project's aim to deliver healthcare services to needy folks in rural areas while giving more unemployed registered nurses the opportunity to train and gain necessary competencies they need for employment in local medical centers and eventually abroad.

 

"The association has remarkably responded to the call of President Arroyo to support NARS, thus making the program a national undertaking with private equity," Roque said.

 

So far, he said the first batch of 5,000 nurse-trainees under Project NARS was deployed to 1,000 poorest municipalities for a six-month tour of duty starting last month.  Another batch of 5,000 nurse-trainees will be deployed for the second half of the year.

 

Under the project, Roque said the nurse-trainees would undergo training and development for competency enhancement in accordance with the training program designed by the PRC and the Board of Nursing in collaboration with DOH.

 

The nurse-trainees receive a monthly P8,000 stipend during their training period. With the signed MOA, PHAP will shoulder the monthly allowance for the 100 additional nurse-trainees who will soon be recruited under NARS.

 

The association through its PHAPCares Foundation, will also donate medicines to DOH hospitals covered by Project NARS subject to availability of stocks for donation.  It will also provide bags, first aid kits and other items to sponsored nurses. 

 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fw: BoC uncovers smuggled P100 million worth of elephant tusks

Bureau of Customs Commissioner Napoleon L. Morales and Enforcement and Security Service Director Gen. Nestorio Gualberto today presented to Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Jose L. Atienza, Jr. some P100 million worth of elephant tusks uncovered by the Customs Enforcement and Security Service (ESS). The tusks arrived at the Port of Manila (POM) in two separate shipments.

 

Sometime in April, ESS officials at the Port of Manila inspected a twenty footer container consigned to 210 Enterprises which arrived in the port since March first.  Declared as blow molding machines from Dar Es Salaam , Tanzania in Africa , the shipment was found to contain plastic scraps and sheeting in an initial spot check of the contents. However, another more thorough stripping of the container earlier this month unveiled that there were elephant tusks in the middle portion of the container.

 

"The ESS unveiled the tusks concealed in some bxes between the plastic scraps," explained C/Supt. Jose Yuchongco. Yuchongco further explained that the shipment is in violation of Section 2530 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP), as amended in relation to R.A. 9147 otherwise known as the Wildlife Resources Conservation Act and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

 

Commissioner Morales immediately ordered for a thorough investigation of the shipment to find out who are the ultimate importers and to be on alert for any shipments that may be related or similar to this.

 

Under marching orders from the Commissioner, the ESS team intercepted another twenty-footer shipment which arrived at POM also from Dar Es Salaam , Tanzania and only four days (March 5) after the first apprehended shipment, ESS officials opened the container to check its contents. Declared as plastic scraps, customs officials were not shocked to find boxes of elephant tusks concealed in the innermost part of the container. Present during the inspection were DENR Assistant Secretary Jay Yambao and NCR Executive Director Jose Diaz. A request letter from a local importer of a President Container Lines, Inc. to the forwarding company, Ben Line Philippines, Inc., the cargo was to be relocated from the pier zone to a Balut Warehouse in Tondo when it was intercepted by Customs.

 

"I have ordered Director (Simplicio) Domingo of the Legal Service to immediately file the appropriate cases against those behind these smuggling tries and have ordered Gen. Gualberto for close monitoring of shipments from the same region to intercept any future shipments of elephant tusks," said Morales who lauded the swift actions of the ESS which led to the apprehension of the second shipment.

 

The seizures are considered a significant contribution of the Philippines to the international effort of eradicating illegal trade of wildlife and their byproducts, the country being a Party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) since 1981. Customs and DENR will conduct a joint inventory of the elephant tusks before these will be turned over to DENR custody.

 


BOC REMAINS VIGILANT AMID Influenza A H1N1 scare

The Bureau of Customs remains vigilant in monitoring the influx of goods from abroad amid the influenza A H1N1 pandemic that is sweeping the globe.

Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales, in an interview assured the public that the BoC is in close coordination with other regulating agencies like the Department of Agriculture to ensure that banned imported goods that pose risk to local consumers are seized upon entry at customs and not allowed to leave its premises.

"When the DA issued a ban on imported pork and pork products from countries with confirmed cases of A H1N1 flu, we immediately complied," explained Morales. Should other bans or issuances be ordered by other regulating agencies, the BoC is "fully capable of acting immediately on these orders to ensure the safety of our consumers," said Morales.

Reacting to recent reports that the Department of Health has warned the public about buying and using imported used clothing or "ukay-ukay", Commissioner Morales could only agree.

"Ukay-ukay has been banned a long time precisely because of the health risks that used clothing may pose to our consumers. Customs apprehend any shipment of ukay-ukay that passes through customs territory," said Morales.

Morales informed the public that the BoC will employ the same approach it used in preventing the entry of previous threats like avian influenza and the melamine-contaminated milk products in dealing with the A H1N1 virus scare. And that is the combination of three things:

"Vigilance of our people in imports monitoring with the help of our x-ray machines, close coordination with other agencies,  and swift actions on any bans, orders or warnings issued by other regulating agencies," said Morales.