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Samar-Leyte media group attend CARD MRI study tour

3Q fishery production in Eastern Visayas drops by 11.9%

PBSP, DepEd launch Year 2 of educational assistance to Olango SHS scholars

220 pupils in the outskirts of Calbayog receive early Christmas gifts

Phil. Army hits NPA in Samar anew

PIA bags first ever best NSM agency in EV

NMP women employees learn self-defense

Road works to Leyte agri areas underway





DILG outstanding Sanggunians
PCL-EV President Wilson Uy with DILG-8 ARD Valente Bajet awards plaque to Usec. Marivel Sacendoncillo.

DILG-8 recognizes outstanding Sanggunians at regional awards ceremony

Press Release
February 13, 2019

TACLOBAN CITY – “The Sanggunian is the brain of the local government and the Sanggunians who are present today are doing a great job at providing the brains of the local government; that is, being the source of ideas and innovations translated into policies and programs.”

This was the pronouncement of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Marivel C. Sacendoncillo, as she recognized the accomplishments of the best performing Local Government Units (LGUs) in Eastern Visayas during the Regional Awards Ceremony of the 2018 Local Legislative Award at Robinsons Summit Hotel, Tacloban City on February 7.

“The LGUs should not only look at the needs of the people but also search for opportunities that they can maximize to pursue development in their respective communities,” Sacendoncillo added.

She told the Sanggunian members to be serious in the jobs that they entered into because the people will not remember them by just being honorable but by the things that they were able to do to contribute to the betterment of their communities.

In the categories of Highly Urbanized Cities and Independent Component Cities, the Cities of Tacloban and Ormoc emerged as the regional winners, respectively. Both cities were lone entries in their respective categories.

Baybay City made it as the regional champion in the Component Cities Category followed by the Cities of Catbalogan and Borongan which were both regional finalists.

In the 1st-3rd Class Municipalities Category, Basey, Samar notched the top spot while Sogod, Southern Leyte and Naval, Biliran were recognized as runners-up.

Furthermore, Balangiga, Eastern Samar took the lead in the 4th-6th Class Municipalities Category. Following the winner were the municipalities of San Isidro, Leyte; San Juan, Southern Leyte; Cabucgayan, Biliran; and Motiong, Samar (regional finalists).

The LGUs were assessed by the Regional Award Committee (RAC) which is headed by the DILG Regional Director with the Philippine Councilors League (PCL) Regional Council Chairman as the Vice-Chairman. Members of the committee also include the Regional Directors of the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and a Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) representative.

The RAC evaluated the finalists through the Awards Criteria totalling 100 points: (a) Responsiveness of the Legislative Agenda (30 points); (b) Availability of Legislative Documents (18 points); (c) Effectiveness of Performance of the Sanggunian (30 points); (d) Efficiency of the Performance of the Sanggunian (13 points); (e) Legislative Citations and Awards (5 points); and (f) Capacity Development for Legislators and Staff (4 points).

“The regional winners will now vie for the national legislative award. The National Award Committee (NAC) will be coming in the region and reevaluate the nomination,” PCL Regional Council Chairman Wilson Uy said in his closing remarks.

Usec Sacendoncillo, OIC-Assistant Regional Director Valente P. Bajet and PCL Regional Council Chairman Uy awarded a plaque of commendation and a cash award worth P10,000 to the regional champions in every category.

Approximately 300 participants from different LGUs, government agencies, and the DILG regional and field offices attended the said event.





Eastern Visayas welcomes 2019 with 4.0% inflation rate

By PSA-8
February 11, 2019

TACLOBAN CITY – Eastern Visayas welcomed 2019 with a 4.0% Inflation Rate (IR). This IR is 0.4 percentage point lower compared with the 4.4% IR a month ago, and equal to the IR recorded in the same period last year. The regional inflation rate was 0.4 percentage point lower than the 4.4% national average in January 2019. Among other regions, Eastern Visayas ranked fourth from the bottom.

Eastern Visayas January 2019 inflation rateFour provinces in the region registered lower inflation rates in January 2019 compared with their figures in the previous month. Eastern Samar and Northern Samar posted the highest decrease of 2.2 percentage points each. Southern Leyte recorded a 0.7 percentage point decrease, while Biliran registered a decrease of 0.3 percentage point from their figures a month ago. On the other hand, increases in IR were noted in Samar (0.7 percentage point) and Leyte (0.4 percentage point). Samar recorded the highest IR at 6.3%, while Biliran posted the lowest at 1.4% (Table 1).

Among the commodity groups, alcoholic beverages and tobacco registered the highest decrease of 3.0 percentage points. It still, however, posted a double digit inflation rate and the highest among all items at 17.4% in January 2019 from 20.4% in December 2018. The decrease in IR can be attributed to the huge decrease in the index of alcoholic beverages.

The heavily weighted food and non-alcoholic beverages eased down to 5.3% in January 2019 from its previous month’s rate of 6.0%, a decrease of 0.7 percentage point. This can be traced to slower price increases of majority of the food items. Fruits index registered a negative inflation rate at 1.3%, from 2.1 percent in December 2018.

Inflation rate for transport also went down by 0.5 percentage point, from 3.0% in December 2018 to 2.5% in January 2019. This can be traced to the slower IR seen in the index for operation of personal transport equipment.

Meanwhile, furnishings, household equipment and routine maintenance of the house increased to 4.5% during the reference month, 0.5 percentage point higher compared with the 4.0% IR in December 2018. Increases were observed in the indices for goods and services for routine household maintenance; and furniture and furnishings, carpets and other floor coverings.

Health index also recorded a slight increase at 3.9% in January 2019 from 3.7% a month ago. IRs for housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels; clothing and footwear; and restaurant and miscellaneous goods and services inched up by 0.1 percentage point each settling at 3.9%, 2.2% and 1.6%, respectively during the month in review.

The Purchasing Power of Peso (PPP) of the region was recorded at P0.80 in January 2019, slightly weaker than the P0.81 PPP a month ago. This PPP implies that goods and services worth 100 pesos in January 2019 costs 80 pesos only in 2012.

Biliran and Eastern Samar registered a 0.01 centavo decrease each in PPP compared with their figures in December 2018, while Southern Leyte recorded a 0.01 centavo increase from its PPP a month ago. The rest of the provinces sustained their PPP last month. Leyte recorded the strongest PPP at P0.83. Biliran and Southern Leyte ranked second at P0.82, followed by Eastern Samar at P0.77. Northern Samar and Samar posted the weakest PPP at P0.76.

Eastern Visayas January 2019 inflation rate





Employers, business, contractors faces up to daily P100K fine for workplace safety violation

February 10, 2019

QUEZON CITY – A more stringent workplace safety and health rules were issued last week by the Department of Labor and Employment to avoid a recurrence of serious workplace accidents that caused deaths and serious injuries to workers.

For example, contractors and business-owners whose offices, construction work sites and other workplaces devoid of comfort rooms and whose employees are without safety gear are facing up to P100,000 per day fine.

This is part of the new Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Law issued by the Department of Labor and Employment that have taken effect this month, placing stiffer penalties on erring employers and non-compliant business owners to workplace safety and health standards.

According to workers’ group Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Republic Act 11058 otherwise known as An Act Strengthening Compliance With Occupational Safety and Health Standards which President Duterte enacted into law in November last year is an offshoot of tripartite collaboration between government, employers and labor sectors in improving compliance to workplace safety and health standards in the light of preventable workplace fires and construction mishaps a few years ago which killed and injured workers while at work.

“It’s painful to think that scores of workers had to die and so many working people had to be maimed to raise the level of compliance to workplace safety and health standards. Let us not forget this law is built on workers untimely deaths and injuries. We strongly hope there would be higher compliance to safety standards and reduce workplace accidents and mishaps with this new improvised workplace safety and health standard and regulations,” said TUCP President Raymond Mendoza.

Mendoza said around 170 workers have died over the period of three years beginning May 2015 to May 2018 due to businesses and employers non-compliance to workplace safety and health regulations and building fire safety standards.

“Employers and businesses basically wants to improve their profits by ignoring workplace safety and health standards thereby risking and compromising the health and safety of their employees. It’s always the workers who were made to sacrifice due to non-compliance and poor enforcement of regulations,” Mendoza said.

The Kentex rubber factory fire incident in May 2015 which killed 74 workers and seriously wounded several others, the HTI fire in Cavite economic zone, the Holiday Inn fire, Resorts World fire and the series of construction mishaps which killed many construction workers.

On February 2017, five workers perished at HTI fire factory in Cavite, 38 fatalities, mostly casino employees, were recovered after a gunman set Resorts World Hotel rooms in Pasay City afire on June 2017. On December 23 the same year, 38 more workers were trapped to their deaths following a fire the destroyed NCCC Mall in Davao City.

Five construction workers were pinned to death after a substandard bunkhouse which they sleeping in collapsed shortly after midnight on March 6, 2018. Two weeks later, five casino employees were burned inside Manila Pavillion Hotel fire.

Under DOLE Department Order 198 otherwise known as the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 11058 entitled An Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Standards and Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof, the daily administrative fines are as follows:

workplace safety violation rates

The DO also states that when the violation exposes the worker to death, serious injury or serious illness, the imposable penalty shall be one hundred thousand pesos (P100,000) a day, Should there two or more non-compliances, all penalties shall be imposed provided that the total daily penalty shall not exceed P100,000.





Executive Director Maglunsod assumes NMP leadership

NMP Executive Director Joel B. Maglunsod

By National Maritime Polytechnic
February 8, 2019

TACLOBAN CITY – The National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP), a premier government-owned maritime training and research institution, moves into transition of leadership as Executive Director Joel B. Maglunsod takes the helm of the Agency’s directorship effective 01 February 2019 with the issuance of Certification of Assumption of Duty on the same date.

The turn-over of NMP flag and the Symbolic Key took place in the morning of 04 February 2019, right after the flag raising ceremony inside the NMP Administration Building, Cabalawan, Tacloban City. The NMP flag symbolizes the assumption of leadership while the Symbolic Key stands for the authority and accountability that comes with the holding of office as Executive Director of the NMP.

During the ceremony, Deputy Executive Director III, Mayla N. Macadawan who assumed the functions and responsibilities as the NMP Officer-In-Charge by virtue of DOLE Administrative Order No. 35, s. 2019 dated 04 February 2019, expressed her confidence that the new NMP ED would be able to steer the Agency in pursuit to the delivery of its mandate and functions.

“During my very short stint as NMP Officer-In-Charge, I am very happy to help and assist NMP in the way that I can. Though I had very limited powers during those times but somehow we were able to surpass whatever challenges that we have encountered” said DED Macadawan.

She also expressed her gratitude to former NMP ED, Dr. Romulo V. Bernardes, who resigned on 23 November 2018, for mentoring her and for all his contributions to the Agency.

“I always say that family is not always about the bloodline, it is about someone who hold your hands in times of need. In NMP, we are always treating each other as a family. I am really lucky that I was able to work here in a short span of time as the NMP Officer-In-Charge” she added.

In his acceptance speech, Executive Director Maglunsod said, “Ako sa totoo lang hindi naman ako umaayaw sa trabaho. Kasi sa kanta pa ni Rico J. Puno, “Ang umaayaw, hindi nagwawagi, ANG NAGWAWAGI ay yung HINDI UMAAYAW. Ang importante na makatulong parin tayo sa mahal na Pangulo at sa mga manggagawa.”

“Taos-puso kong tinatanggap ang trabaho natin at magtatagumpay tayo sa collective efforts natin. Kailangan kung ano man ang mga nakikita nating problema ipaabot agad sa senior officials ninyo at kung hindi kayo inintindi ideretso sa DOLE Hotline 1349, pag hindi sinagot dun sa Hotline 8888,” ED Maglunsod disclosed.

He also shared some issues and challenges confronting NMP as well as the maritime industry in general, including among others: Development and packaging of new courses (Training for Harbour Pilots and Crane / Winch Operators); Acquisition of training ship and towing tank; Attraction of massive trainees; and Maximizing the Use of NMP resources.

ED Maglunsod also emphasized the need to sustain cooperation and collaboration between and among maritime stakeholders to be able to respond to the ever growing needs of the Filipino seafarers.

Attended by the NMP employees, the activity was also graced by the members of the DOLE Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) RO-8 namely, Atty. Cecilio I. Baleña, OIC Assistant Regional Director of DOLE RO-8, Ms. Pamela Babalcon of National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB), Ms. Mary Catherine O. Pastor of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Ms. Meriam R. Balmocena of Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Ms. Catherine O. Doblon of National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO), Ms. Michelle C. Basal of Employees Compensation Commission (ECC), Engr. Ma. Elena Limen-Diez of Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC). Also present were former NMP ED, Dr. Romulo V. Bernardes and Ms. Arlene Maglunsod, wife of ED Maglunsod.

Meanwhile, NMP continues to upgrade its facilities and provide maritime trainings required pursuant to the STCW Convention as amended in 2010 including value-adding courses towards improving the qualifications of Filipino seafarers for their employment acceptability and enhanced competitiveness. It also regularly conducts maritime studies to come up with policies for the improvement of the manpower sector of the industry.

Those interested in NMP research undertakings may visit the NMP website (www.nm.gov.ph) and access the e-Research Information System Portal which is designed to gather inputs for NMP’s research, dissemination of NMP completed researches and other articles pertaining to maritime research.

For more information about NMP trainings viewers may visit the agency’s facebook page (www.facebook.com/nmptrainingcenter) where all related information on NMP trainings are available.

Further, NMP encourages seafarers to avail of the NMP-OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) Seafarers’ Upgrading Program (SUP) which entitles the beneficiary to receive financial assistance for training costs from the OWWA.





Woe to the state that considers teachers its enemies - ACT

Press Release
February 8, 2019

QUEZON CITY – The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) expressed alarm over Philippine National Police's (PNP) announcement that intelligence operations on their organization will continue following the Court of Appeals (CA) dismissal of ACT's petition to declare PNP's profiling of its members unconstitutional.

"This is precisely what we were worried about – PNP is now taking CA's decision as a nod to their illegal operations. It has emboldened state forces to continue and intensify their attacks against our organization," stated Raymond Basilio, ACT Secretary General.

Earlier today, PNP and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) welcomed the ruling of CA, adding that they will continue surveilling on 'enemies of the state.'

"They used to have a hard time getting their stories straight when asked about the profiling, but now the truth's out. They consider teachers, as well as anyone else who dare fight for their rights and welfare, as enemies of the state. What they fail to realize, however, is they've also exposed themselves to be the real enemy of the people," said Basilio.

ACT said that such a stance taken on by state forces has "no place in a democratic country like ours."

"Democracy puts primacy on civilians and their rights, which the state has an obligation to uphold and protect. Police forces, on the other hand, has a duty to 'serve and protect' the people, not to suspect and make enemies out of them," concluded Basilio.





DPWH-Biliran DEO strictly impose 15-ton weight limit for vehicles passing Biliran bridge

Biliran bridge

Press Release
February 7, 2019

NAVAL, Biliran – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Biliran District Engineering Office (DEO) informs the travelling public to strictly observe the maximum 15-ton allowable weight limit for vehicles passing Biliran Bridge.

David P. Adongay Jr., District Engineer said that Biliran DEO is conducting a load monitoring checkpoint for all equipment and heavy loading vehicles crossing the bridge for safety precaution.

To prevent deterioration, damage or any danger of collapse of bridge, Adongay said that they have deployed maintenance personnel to guard the bridge 24 hours against overloading heavy vehicles.

Meanwhile, Engr. Glenda G. Dagalea, Chief Maintenance Engineer said that they only allow heavy equipment vehicles to cross Biliran Bridge one at a time to preserve the old structured bridge.

For hauling equipment vehicles, a maximum of 250 bags of cement is allowed to be loaded on a single truck and a maximum of 16 cubic meter for hauling aggregates (sand and gravel).

“More than the allowed capacity, should be unloaded,” said Dagalea.

“We need to protect the bridge but most importantly the lives of the people and the convenience of the travelling public, so I am asking the drivers of heavy vehicles to have discipline and cooperate.” Dagalea added.

The Biliran Bridge is the only access by land of the entire island-province of Biliran to the island of Leyte, and practically, of the entire Philippines. Completed around 1975, this bridge is about 120 meters long at its central span, held in place by an arched steel structure which hovers above a short and narrow channel of water measuring about 100 meters wide at low tide.





Dr. Alip together with Dr. Dolores M. Torres, senior management adviser of CARD Bank, Flordeliza L. Sarmiento, managing director of CARD MRI, and some management committee members of CARD MRI with CARD Bank and CARD MBA staff in Iloilo on January 16, 2019.

3,175 scholarship slots available at CARD MRI

February 5, 2019

SAN PABLO CITY – A total of 3,175 scholarship slots will be provided by the four major institutions of CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI) namely CARD, Inc., CARD Bank, CARD MRI Rizal Bank, and CARD SME Bank, to its microfinance clients and their dependents this academic year 2019-2020.

Microfinance clients of these institutions who are at least three years in membership until May 2019 with 100% repayment rate and 90% attendance rate during weekly center meetings may have themselves or their children take the national qualifying exam on February 9, 2019. The scholarship slots are also available for those who are savers of the institutions for at least five years.

“Education is one the social development efforts CARD MRI values for more than three decades now. With access to education, our fight to end extreme poverty in the Philippines would be made possible,” said Flordeliza L. Sarmiento, managing director of CARD MRI.

Sarmiento also emphasized that the scholarship program is part of the community development efforts of its four major institutions. “Apart from providing microfinance loans and insurance, our four major institutions is also committed to providing community development support to its clients as an inclusive approach to poverty eradication.”

Prior to taking the exam, an accomplished application form must be filled out, which can be secured in any CARD offices nationwide. The exam will run for one hour only. Designated testing areas are already posted in CARD’s respective offices nationwide.

Scholarship programs

CARD MRI has scholarship slots for high school, senior high school, and college. The senior high school slots, however, are only allotted for students who will enroll at CARD-MRI Development Institute (CMDI) in Bay, Laguna and Tagum, Davao davao del Norte campuses. All the slots are open for the children of CARD clients. Those clients who intend to finish their schooling may also take the exam for the Balik Eskwela program.

Qualified high school scholars will receive P3,000 yearly, senior high school scholars at CMDI will receive P17,500 per year, while college scholars will receive P12,000 per year. Every scholar will receive a financial support for maximum of four years.

One family, one graduate

The One Family, One Graduate program was launched by CARD MRI in 2016 to ensure that for every family the CARD major institutions serve at least one will graduate from college.

In 2015, CARD MRI through its then training center the CARD-MRI Development Institute (CMDI), was granted by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to operate as secondary and tertiary institution.

CMDI established campuses in Tagum City, Davao del Norte and Bay, Laguna to provide quality education to deserving students. High School and Senior High School scholars are encouraged to enroll I the two campuses as more scholarship opportunities for college education from CARD MRI await them in the college.

“We are planning to open more campuses in the coming years to accommodate more students and promote microfinance and development-related courses,” said Sarmiento.

As of December 2018, CARD MRI has supported 12,465 scholars nationwide where 4,816 already graduated in college.





CARD Bank in Tanauan
Dr. Jaime Aristotle B. Alip, founder and chair emeritus of CARD MRI, during his visit at CARD Bank in Tanauan on January 24, 2019.

As low as P20, families can be insured

February 1, 2019

SAN PABLO CITY – The Chief Executive Officer of CARD Mutual Benefit Association (CARD MBA), May Dawat, assured on January 22 during the Microinsurance Forum 2019 in Century Park, Manila that families can be insured for as low as P20 per week.

“At CARD MBA, we are committed to providing microinsurance products that are affordable and tailored fit to the needs of our members,” said Dawat.

Since CARD MBA was formalized in 1999, it has been providing microinsurance to the microfinance clients of the four major institutions of CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI) namely CARD, Inc., CARD Bank, CARD SME Bank, and CARD MRI Rizal Bank.

CARD MBA first launched three main products covering loan insurance, which is known as Loan Redemption Fund (LRF), retirement fund, and life insurance that insures not only the clients but also their spouses and dependents who are 21 years old and below. All of these are covered by the P20 weekly premium.

To date, CARD MBA insures more than 18.58 million individuals nationwide. It is also worthy to note that the Association is managed and owned by its members.

“This is what makes the Association unique and grounded to its members because the members of the Board of Trustees itself are also members of the Association,” said Dawat.

Violeta Aquino, CARD MBA President, also expressed her commitment in making sure that microinsurance will be fully understood by everyone. “As a client of CARD for more than eight years I have seen how microinsurance have supported every family in times of uncertainties and this is what I want to share with my co-clients,” added Aquino.

Dawat further emphasized that CARD MBA has already insured 18% of the Philippine population. “This is already a milestone at CARD MBA. But as an institution that is in the business of poverty eradication through microinsurance, we want to do and reach more because there are more families especially in the rural areas who are not insured and protected in times of disaster and other uncertainties,” she added.

CARD MBA hopes to insure 40 million individuals in 2020 in support to the 5-8-40 strategic direction of CARD MRI. The strategy is a five year goal of CARD MRI since 2016 where it aims to reach eight million clients nationwide to be able to insure 40 million individuals.

In celebration of Microinsurance Month, the CARD MBA is thankful to all staff, coordinators, partners, volunteers, and members for the unending support and for working hand in hand with the Association.

CARD MRI is a group of 21 development-oriented institutions including CARD MBA and the four major institutions that aims to eradicate poverty in the Philippines.





PSA data dashboard
PSA-RSSO 8 Regional Director Wilma A. Perante (R) and Chief Statistical Specialist of the Statistical Operations and Coordination Division Ms. Mae R. Almonte (L) unveils the Data Dashboard.

PSA-EV launches its data dashboard

By PSA-8
February 1, 2019

TACLOBAN CITY – The Philippine Statistics Authority -Regional Statistical Service Office VIII (PSA-RSSO 8) launched its Data Dashboard yesterday, 31 January 2019 at the Tacloban City Civil Registry Service (CRS) Outlet. This innovation aims to promote, enhance and instill awareness and appreciation of statistics, and at the same time encourage the public to help improve the quality of statistics in the region.

The Data Dashboard is an information management tool which displays the latest statistical data of the region through infographics. Aside from being the trend, data visualization has the unique ability to capture attention, convey information, and encourage data retention despite their complex nature.

Tacloban City CRS Outlet clients will now learn the latest statistics of the region while they wait – the agency’s step of bringing statistics closer to the public.

The Tacloban City CRS Outlet is located at Congressman Mate Avenue, Barangay Abucay, Tacloban City and is open from Monday to Friday, from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Cut-off time for payment is at 4:00 PM.





NMP, off to a good start in 2019: 443 trainees as of January 18

National Maritime Polytechnic

By National Maritime Polytechnic
January 30, 2019

TACLOBAN CITY – The National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP), a premier government-owned maritime training and research institution located at Brgy. Cabalawan, Tacloban City, is off to a good start this year as it surpasses its monthly target number of trainees for the month of January 2019.

As of 18 January 2019, NMP trained a total of four hundred forty-three (443) maritime trainees comprised of aspiring and active seafarers, maritime instructors and assessors and supervisors and other maritime allied personnel.

Out of the total, 329 (74%) took the Basic Courses, 45 (10%) enrolled in Specialized Courses, 38 (9%) availed of Deck Courses, 18 (4%) listed in Faculty Development Courses, and the remaining 13 (3%) came from Engine Courses.

Four hundred two (402) trainees are set to finish their trainings on 31 January 2019.

This is a well-grounded start for the Agency as it endeavors to attain its target of ten thousand (10,000) trainees trained in CY 2019.

In the interim, NMP is addressing the deficiencies noted by the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) in connection with its application for full course accreditation of four (4) courses whose provisional authority will expire on 07 February 2019, namely: Basic Training (BT), Advance Training in Fire Fighting (ATFF), Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boat (PSCRB), and Medical Emergency First Aid (MEFA).

Likewise, constant follow-up with MARINA is being made relative to NMP’s application for full course accreditation of Ratings Forming Part of Navigational Watch (RFNW) and Ratings Forming Part of Engineering Watch (RFPEW) which were pilot-tested last 15-19 October 2018.

Also, three (3) new courses are targeted to be developed this year, namely: Safe Mooring Practice; Oily Water Separator and Training for Harbor Pilot.

In its effort to contribute in providing employment to Filipino seafarers, NMP continues to upgrade its facilities and provide quality maritime trainings required pursuant to the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Convention (STCW) for Seafarers as amended in 2010.

On the pipeline, funded by the NMP insurance proceeds from GSIS (in relation to the damages due to Super Typhoon Yolanda), are the acquisition of Full Mission Engine Room Simulator (FMERS) and the construction of Wharf Extension for the Free-Fall Enclosed Lifeboat with Davit which was donated by the Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP).

Those interested in NMP research undertakings may visit the NMP website (www.nmp.gov.ph) and access the e-Research Information System Portal which is designed for gathering inputs for NMP’s research, dissemination of NMP completed researches and other articles pertaining to maritime research.

For more information about NMP trainings viewers may visit the agency’s facebook page (www.facebook.com/nmptrainingcenter) where all related information on NMP trainings are available.

NMP also encourages seafarers to avail of the NMP-OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) Seafarers’ Upgrading Program (SUP) which entitles the beneficiary to receive financial assistance for training costs from the OWWA.





road going to Ulan-Ulan falls
Construction of access road going to Ulan-Ulan falls in Sampao, Almeria, Biliran is on-going with 88% accomplishment as of December 31, 2018 with a project cost of P 43,163,800.00. The completion of the project under 2018 fund which starts from the proper road of Brgy. Sampao going to Ulan-ulan falls will reduce travel time from 30-40 minutes hike to just 10-15 minutes through vehicle ride. With the accessibility of the tourist site, it will encourage more local and foreign tourists to visit the place.

DPWH-Biliran DEO accomplished 84.62% of 2018 infrastructure projects

Press Release
January 28, 2019

NAVAL, Biliran – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Biliran District Engineering Office (DEO) ends the year with 84.62% accomplishment of its 2018 infrastructure projects.

According to David P. Adongay Jr., District Engineer, Biliran DEO surpassed the 80.87% planned target accomplishment by 3.75% as of December 31, 2018. Out of the 60 total projects, 44 are completed and 16 are on-going.

Adongay said that the main reason for the slight delay are the implementation of big ticket projects amounting to P50M and above.

“Medyo na dedelayed ang aming projects because of the late approval of authority to bid and implement of these projects from the DPWH Central Office pero yung’ mga projects naming na below P50M ay almost completed na,” Adongay said.

Adongay said that the target completion date for all 2018 projects is on June, 2019.

“Hopefully we can complete this by March 2019,” Adongay added.

Under 2018 Regular Infrastructure Program, Biliran DEO has completed 18 flood control projects, four rehabilitation of bridges, four slope protections, three access roads leading to tourist destinations, three access roads leading to trades and industries and economic zones, two asphalt overlays and one drainage project.

Meanwhile, under 2018 Local Infrastructure Program, Biliran DEO has already completed four multipurpose buildings, one flood control project, one Farm-Market Road (FMR) project, one seawall project, one baywalk/breakwater project and one road concreting project.





EV’s unemployment rate down to 4.2% in 2018

By PSA-8
January 28, 2019

TACLOBAN CITY – The unemployment rate in Eastern Visayas slightly decreased to 4.2% in 2018 from 4.4% in 2017, ranking sixth among the regions with low employment rate in the country (Table 1).

Unemployment rate is the proportion of unemployed persons to total labor force. Considered unemployed persons are persons in the labor force who are reported as without work; and currently available for work; and seeking work or not seeking work due to the following reasons: a) belief that no work is available, or b) awaiting results of previous job application, or c) because of temporary illness or disability, or d) weather, or e) waiting for rehire or job call.

Out of the estimated 3.2 million population 15 years old and over in 2018, about 1.9 million were economically active or in the labor force. This number translates to Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) of 61.2% in 2018. This figure is 0.9 percentage point higher compared to the previous year’s LFPR of 60.3%. Among the regions, Eastern Visayas registered sixth lowest LFPR and sits at par with Western Visayas.

About 1.8 million persons in the labor force were employed. This translates to an employment rate of 95.8%, slightly higher than the 95.6% employment rate recorded in 2017. Employment rate is the proportion of employed persons to total labor force.

The underemployed persons or those employed persons who express the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job or to have additional job, or to have a new job with longer working hours was estimated at 396 thousand. This is equal to an underemployment rate of 21.4%, lower than the 22.6% recorded a year ago. The region had the fourth highest underemployment rate in the country.

The preliminary results of the labor and employment estimates for the year are based on the average of the final results of the January and April rounds of the 2018 LFS and preliminary results of the July and October 2018 LFS rounds.

2018 eastern visayas unemployment rate





NPA terrorist dead, wounded cohort caught in an AFP checkpoint

By 19th Infantry Battalion, 8ID PA
January 27, 2019

MAGPET, Cotabato – A Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army terrorist (CNT) was found dead in an encounter with the troops of 19th Infantry COMMANDO Battalion (19IB) in the vicinity of Sitio Kalo Kalo, Barangay Bagumbayan, Magpet, Cotabato around 9:30AM, while a wounded CNT was caught in an AFP checkpoint in Brgy Gubatan, of the same town 1:00PM, January 27, 2019.

19IB launched an operation when a report was received from a concerned citizen that there are presence of armed terrorists in their community. Upon arrival in the area, the troops encountered 70 fully armed terrorists of Guerilla Front 53 (GF53) of Southern Mindanao Regional Command (SMRC).

“We had been receiving reports from concerned civilians about the presence of the terrorist NPAs in the area the reason why we launched our operations. This village was a former mass base of the terrorist group and they are trying to recover it by harassing populace and threatening former rebels to rejoin them in their failed armed struggle,” Colonel Ehrlich Noel Paraso, Commanding Officer of 19IB said.

The firefight lasted for 30 minutes after which the CNTs scampered to different directions. A male NPA terrorist was found dead in the encounter site while 1 M14 rifle, 1 M16 rifle with M203 granade launcher, 1 antipersonnel landmine, 5 magazines with 208 rds of ammunition, 2 NDF flags, 2 NPA flags, 2 CPP flags, medical paraphernalia and subversive documents. Further, a soldier (name withheld for security purposes) was slightly wounded in his left shoulder.

On the other hand, a wounded NPA terrorist was apprehended in an ambulance passing through Gubatan patrol base. The rescue ambulance of Magpet responded to call from the barangay council of Brgy Noa stating that there was a person in need of medical attention.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the family of the dead NPA terrorist. We have coordinated with the local government unit and our PNP counterparts to help us find his family and also the family of the wounded terrorist for them to be informed of their whereabouts,” Brigadier General Larry Mojica, Commander of 901st Infantry Brigade said.

The cadaver was already turned over to the local officials for identification while the wounded CNT was brought to Amas Hospital in Kidapawan City and the injured soldier was already extracted for medical treatment as of press time.

“I commend the barangay council of Brgy. Noa for their concern of the wounded NPA. I believe that wounded NPA terrorists have a right to receive proper medical attention. These people are only victims of CPP-NPA-NDF deception in the hinterland barangays. Members of the terrorist group have a choice, they can remain and accept their faith of dying in an encounter with the government troops, or they can go back to their families and return to the mainstream society. If they choose the latter, they can still avail of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) being offered by the government. I am saying this because, units under 4th Infantry Division (4ID) will never stop going after these NPA terrorists in our area of responsibility. We will never stop until barangays will be cleared of CPP-NPA-NDF infiltration and we will never stop until communities and populace will experience the peace and progress that they are worthy of,” Major General Ronald Villanueva, Army’s 4ID Commander said.





DPWH undergoes disaster mitigation, preparedness and response seminar

DPWH disaster mitigation, preparedness and response program

January 27, 2019

CALBAYOG CITY – Two area personnel from the Maintenance Section of DPWH Samar First District Engineering Office, Engr. Jeremias Lim and Engr. Ronalie Pelotos, attended the seminar on Disaster Mitigation, Preparedness and Response Program (DMPR) on January 17-18, 2019 at the Summit Hotel, Tacloban City.

The two-day program was attended by almost 100 area engineers and representatives from the different District Engineering offices within the region. Assistant Regional Director Eric Ayapana warmly welcomed all participants and speakers during his welcome remarks.

The several disaster mitigation and preparedness experts were invited to the program, discussing several topics which include the following: Structural Safety Evaluators Manual; Standard Operating Procedures, Geotechnical Hazard, Pre-earthquake Evaluation of Existing Buildings, Post-earthquake Rapid and Detailed Evaluation Procedure, Inspection of Concrete and Masonry Buildings, Non-Structural Elements and Hazardous Materials, and Major Earthquakes Zones in the Philippines.

DMPR refers to the system of standardized procedures developed by the Association of Structural Engineers of the Philippines (ASEP). The conduct of this disaster preparedness seminar is to create a pool of reserve DPWH structural safety evaluators that can be readily mobilized before, during and after any disaster.





DPWH completes P40-M barangay road projects

mawacat road projects

January 26, 2019

CALBAYOG CITY – The Department of Public Works and Highways Samar First District Engineering Office completes the rehabilitation and improvement of two road projects in Oquendo District, Calbayog City, with a combined appropriation of P40 million.

The first project connects barangay Cagbilwang to Mawacat, covering the rehabilitation of 1.67 km concrete road. The second road project links barangay Mawacat to Panlayahan involving the improvement of 1.66 km concrete road.

The Cagbilwang to Mawacat road leads to the famed Mawacat falls, a tourist attraction in the barangay which is a source of income for the residents that serve as tourist guides.

On the other hand, the Mawacat to Panlayahan road helps the local farmers in transporting their agricultural goods.

“Before, our road was so rough and muddy. It’s hard for us to travel and to transfer our agricultural products like coconut and rice, but now we have a better and wider road when we go to Calbayog proper vice-versa, we thank DPWH for this project,” said Mr. Alfredo Diaz, sangguniang barangay member of Mawacat.





Murang kuryente: Posible?

Groups oppose using of Malampaya funds to cover NAPOCOR debts

Power for People (P4P) Coalition

Consumers, CSOs urge legislators to address true cause of costly energy in the Philippines

Press Release
January 25, 2018

QUEZON CITY – A coalition of civil society organizations, coal-affected communities, and power consumers finds current pending legislative proposals insufficient to reduce the high cost of electricity.

The Power for People (P4P) Coalition in a press conference today warned that energy reforms are not enough "without overhauling the Electric and Power Industry Reform Act, the complete removal of pass-on provisions, expanding subsidies for impoverished consumers, rejecting the entrance of more coal in the energy mix, and combating corruption in the ERC."

"While we are glad that the problem of costly energy is front and center in the chambers of Congress, it will only continue to be felt by consumers if fundamental changes are not introduced and made into law," said P4P convenor and Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) Executive Director Gerry Arances.

The Coalition zeroed in on the Murang Kuryente Bill which aims to use the Malampaya fund to cover the stranded debts and contract costs incurred by the National Power Corporation.

"Filipino consumers should not be paying for these stranded debts and costly contracts in the first place," said Arances. "The Malampaya fund could be more properly put to use in order to benefit ordinary end-users directly, like in expanding the coverage and increasing subsidies for households which use small amounts of electricity through the lifeline rates," Arances claimed.

"To put things in perspective, the P123 billion to be sourced from the Malampaya fund to pay off NPC's debt is already enough to provide 3.5 million households with one 200 W solar photovoltaic (PV) system each," he added. "Instead, while consumers may not pay for it in their bills, they are paying for it with the benefits they could have reaped from the Malampaya fund."

The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) decried the use of the Malampaya fund as it would be still be citizens "bailing out" independent power producers (IPPs) for bad, costly deals they made with NAPOCOR and Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM), which acquired its assets and debts.

"We have continually called for the renegotiation of contracts entered into by the Ramos administration with local and foreign IPPs, as they have been found to be supplying electricity at a much higher price than other power producers," said FDC's Manjette Lopez. "Consumers have been at the losing end, paying for the price of these unnecessarily costly contracts ever since they were brokered, and PSALM has repeatedly over the years negotiated on behalf of IPPs for higher rates to be passed on to the public," she continued.

Atty. Avril De Torres of CEED warns of a similar situation being repeated with the increase of coal’s share in the country's energy mix. "A study has found that all coal-fired power plants to go online in the Philippines will become stranded assets, and many of those operating are already in various levels of stranding," said De Torres. "Despite this, the administration remains adamant in pursuing more coal projects, with 3,500 MW of coal to go online this year alone," she continued.

"Not only this, but through Executive Order 30, the government is fast-tracking the approval of these projects," said De Torres, citing how almost half of the awardees of Certificates of Energy Project of National Significance (EPNS) are coal projects. "Without sober, scientific reflection of the economic costs of these projects, we will only have a repeat of consumers having to pay more for uncompetitive and costly power contracts in their monthly bills," she concluded.

"With renewable energy technology being more and more affordable and supposedly accessible for communities, it is appalling that the government is neglecting its potential to deliver cheaper electricity for the people," said Philippine Movement for Climate Justice National Coordinator Ian Rivera. "It is unjust how the Malampaya fund, instead of being used to fund initiatives by communities to set up and operate their own renewable energy systems, is being used to pay for contracts and debts involving dirty energy projects, the very things which are killing Filipinos with pollution and killing the planet with emissions."

P4P: Genuine "Murang Kuryente" Bills Needed

The Coalition then called for legislative action which will "address the heart of the issue and put consumers at the center of the solutions".

"The core of the problem is the idea that citizens should be paying for the costs that generation and distribution companies do not want to pay for," said Sanlakas Secretary-General Atty. Aaron Pedrosa.

“Poor Filipinos - especially women - bear the brunt of the high costs of electricity,” said Inday Gonzales of Oriang Women’s Movement. “That we have to adjust our daily expenses to account for the debts and costly contracts entered by the government and power producers is simply an injustice that cannot continue,” she continued.

"Whether it is the universal charge, value added tax, or even the system loss charge which Congress presently aims to reduce, these are charges which should not be taken on by ordinary consumers but by the companies themselves," Pedrosa continued. "Overhauling EPIRA and disallowing any and all pass-on provisions are necessary first steps to truly address the problem of high costs. The question is whether the Congress has the courage to truly take on the corporations and their own vested interests in pursuing this agenda," he stressed.

Leody De Guzman of the Partido Lakas ng Masa Coalition spoke on behalf of consumers affected by high prices which are also exacerbated by additional daily burdens.

"Sunod-sunod ang atake sa bulsa dulot ng TRAIN Law, panibagong dagok na naman sa pamilya ng manggagawang Pilipino ngayong taon ang pagtaas ng presyo ng kuryente," De Guzman noted. "Tama na ang pamamayagpag ng anti-mahirap na EPIRA at mga monopolyo gaya ng Meralco. Kailangan na itong lagutin bago tayo ang lagutin nito," he concluded.





Energy think tank alarmed over abundance of big ticket coal projects in pipeline

coa plant

Abundance of coal to negate efforts on reducing energy costs, group says

January 23, 2019

QUEZON CITY – An energy think tank is alarmed over the sheer number of major coal projects to go online this 2019, saying that coal threatens to raise electricity costs for the next ten to twenty years, on top of its negative effects on the environment and climate.

The Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED), one of the convening organizations of the Power for People Coalition, expressed concern as the abundance of coal "will undermine any current attempt to reduce the cost of electricity for ordinary consumers."

"Despite the global push to reduce carbon emissions and shift to renewables, 81% of major projects to go online for 2019 in the Philippines are to be sourced from coal, amounting to almost 3,500 MW of dirty and costly energy," said CEED Executive Director Gerry Arances.

"As early as 2017, it has been reported that all proposed and committed coal plants are projected to become stranded assets, with many plants currently in operation already in various stages of stranding," Arances continued. "It is ironic that after years of consumers paying for stranded debts and contract costs of the National Power Corporation, we are on the verge of replicating the same problem with the current onslaught of coal projects in the pipeline," he said.

Arances said that the foreseen devaluation of coal projects will be shouldered by consumers, who will end up paying for the projects' contract costs.

"As many as four bills are in the present legislative agenda aiming to decrease the costs of electricity," Arances said. "But we run the risk of being blindsided by hidden and externalized costs in pending coal projects if they are left unhindered."

philippine coal projects






DAR Secretary turns over farm machineries
Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones (right) turns over the symbolic key to one of the chairmen of 18 agrarian reform beneficiary organizations (ARBOs) who are recipient of the 18 six-wheeler dump trucks in Eastern Visayas during the turnover ceremony. Looking on are DAR Assistant Regional Director Ma. Fe Malinao and Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominic Petilla. (Jose Alsmith L. Soria)

DAR Secretary turns over farm machineries, inaugurates building in EV

January 21, 2019

TACLOBAN CITY – Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones turned over on Thursday 18 six-wheeler heavy-duty dump trucks to the same number of selected agrarian reform beneficiary organizations (ARBOs) in Eastern Visayas, and inaugurated the newly-rehabilitated building at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Regional Office-8 compound on the same occasion.

Castriciones in his message emphasized, “If we want our country to be progressive, let us strengthen the agriculture sector”. Thus DAR is providing ARBOs the necessary equipment particularly for their agri-enterprise activities.

Provision of the necessary support services is one of the components of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) to improve the quality of lives of the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs).

Regional Director Sheila Enciso disclosed that the said dump trucks amounted to P81-million funded under the Agrarian Reform Communities Connectivity and Economic Support Services (ARCCESS) project.

According to her, of the 18 dump trucks, six units were given to the province of Leyte for MAALSADA Farmers Irrigators Service Agriculture Cooperative (FISCO) in Alangalang; Omaganhan Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Tabango; Hacienda Maria Multi-Purpose Cooperative in San Isidro; Merida Agriculture Diversified Services Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Merida; Brgy. Agutayan Farmers Association in Hilongos and Pastrana ARC Farmers Organization in Pastrana.

Four units were given to the province of Eastern Samar for the San Gabriel ARB Association in Borongan; San Pablo Agrarian Reform Cooperative in Taft; Growers Integrated Farmers Association in Salcedo and Canloterio Farmers Association in Maydolong.

Northern Samar was also given four units for the Centralized Farmers Association in Mondragon; Victoria Agrarian Reform Community Cooperative in Victoria; San Jose Farmers Association in San Jose and Northern Samar Rice Producers Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Palapag.

Two units were given to the province of Western Samar for the Legaspi Farmers and Fisherfolk Association in Marabut and Villahermosa Oriental Farmers and Fisherfolk Association in Pagsanghan.

Biliran and Southern Leyte provinces were give one each for the Lico Agrarian Reform Cooperative in Naval, Biliran and San Francisco Multi-Purpose Cooperative in San Franciso, Southern Leyte.

Five units however were put on hold pending compliance of the requirements by the concerned ARBOs.

Undersecretary for Support Services Emily Padilla who was with the Secretary during the said occasion challenged the concerned ARBOs to use the dump trucks in uplifting the lives of the more than 20,000 members of the 18 farmer organizations.

She likewise stressed to the recipient ARBOs that all farm equipment provided by the agency will be geo-tagged so the office could monitor them.

According to the Secretary, the government hopes these ARBOs will succeed in developing their awarded lands and contribute to national development.

Rice production and trading, organic fertilizer production and trading, vegetable production and trading, coco coir and geotextile production and abaca trading are just among the agri-enterprise these ARBOs had ventured in.

Reynaldo Peja, Chairman of the MAALSADA FISCO, one of the ARBO recipients which is into rice trading, thank the President and the DAR and said, the dump truck would enable their cooperative now to deliver rice as far as Ormoc City and other areas in the region.

Meanwhile, as the DAR inaugurated a newly-rehabilitated building where the regional office will be transferred, Castriciones challenged the employees to be united and “work as a team to be able to achieve our objectives the way it should be done”.

The newly-rehabilitated building used to be a dormitory that was severely devastated during the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda on November 8, 2013.

With a contract price of P25.5-million, the rehabilitation started on December 2017 after the provincial government of Leyte granted DAR a usufruct for 25 years to the land where the building is erected, the area being owned by the provincial government of Leyte.

Governor Leopoldo Dominic Petilla said during the occasion, though the usufruct is free, he appealed to DAR officials to always consider Leyte for whatever programs and projects it has for the ARBs.

With the distribution of dump trucks, Petilla was happy that six farmer organizations in his province were among the beneficiaries of the multi-million pesos worth of machineries.

DAR Secretary inaugurates DAR-8 building
(R-L) Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones, DAR Undersecretary Emily Padilla, Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominic Petilla and DAR-8 Regional Director Sheila Enciso cut the ceremonial ribbon during the inauguration of the newly-rehabilitated dormitory which will now serve as the new DAR-8 office. (Jose Alsmith L. Soria)





Illegal lumbers seized in Marabut, Samar

January 21, 2018

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan City – A joint anti-illegal logging operations by Samar Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), Community Environment and Natural Resources Office of Sta. Rita (CENRO-Sta. Rita), 805th Regional Mobile Force PNP, Marabut Municipal Police Station and elements from the NISU 53, NT G2, Joint Task Force Storm resulted to the seizure of illegally cut lumber in Brgy. Osmeña, Marabut, Samar on January 16, 2019 at 4:45 AM.

A total of 12,000 board feet of abandoned forest products of dipterocarp specie were recovered at the said vicinity with an estimated market value of P960,000.00. Said lumbers were turned-over to CENRO-Sta Rita for proper disposition and documentation.

The success of the operation was attributed to the information provided by the populace of Brgy. Osmeña against the illegal loggers operating in their area.

Maj. Gen. Raul M. Farnacio AFP, Commander, 8ID/Joint Task Force Storm, commended the residents of Brgy. Osmeña for cooperating with the local government agencies and the military in locating the abandoned illegal lumbers.

In his message, the 8ID/Joint Task Force Storm Commander said that “the shared responsibility shown by the populace reflects their awareness in protecting their community from the catastrophic effects of illegal logging to the environment."

“The 8ID/Joint Task Force Storm as one of the deputized agencies of the Department of Environment Natural Resources relentlessly supports the National Greening Program of the government through the enforcement of the anti-illegal logging operations in Eastern Visayas for the protection and preservation of our ecosystem,” Farnacio added.





Mindanao workers hold protest against Makati-based banana firm

Sumifru Protest

Press Release
January 18, 2019

MANILA – Over 200 workers of banana company Sumifru Phils. Corp. held a protest today in the company’s main office in Makati for neglecting court’s order recognizing them as regular workers.

The workers under their union Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm (NAMASUFA) have been camping here in Manila since November last year in a bid to press the company as well as the Department of Labor and Employment to enforce the court’s order, and escape the military harassments because of Martial law in Mindanao.

Paul John Dizon, NAMASUFA President, revealed that since their labor dispute erupted on October 1, 2018, one of their members was already killed, 2 escaped from slay trials, at least 20 had been mauled, their protest camps burned, belongings were looted, and their house including the union’s office were burned down. The workers attributed all these atrocities to Sumifru in cahoots with the state forces and enabled through Martial Law.

“Instead of abiding by the law, they mauled, robbed, and killed! For more than a decade the company denied us our regular status and better benefits, now that the Supreme Court had already ordered last 2017, this is how they treated us!”, Dizon lamented.

As a sign of protest, the workers threw paint bombs to the replica logo of Sumifru and called on Paul Cuyegkeng, the company’s owner, to abide the law.

Sumifru Phils. Corp. is an agricultural company engaged in sourcing, production, shipment and marketing of various fresh fruits, primarily the export of quality Cavendish bananas, pineapple, and papaya. The company operates in more than 12,000 hectares in Mindanao.

In Compostela, Compostela Valley where the protesting workers came from, the company operates in more or less 2,200 hectares with 9 packing plants, with total production capacity of at least 19,000 boxes per day or 7 million boxes per year. The company’s gross daily income is P19 million per day in Compostela operations alone.





Puentespina Farms
Puentespina Farms is now among the 16 Heirloom cacao growers worldwide that are recognized by the Heirloom Cacao Preservation (HCP).

Cacao from Davao’s Puentespina Farms gains heirloom status

January 18, 2019

MAKATI CITY – The beans grown by Davao City’s Puentespina Farms, manufacturer of the world-renowned Malagos Chocolates, have been recognized as “Heirloom Cacao” by the US-based organization Heirloom Cacao Preservation (HCP) Fund.

Charita Puentespina, founder of Puentespina Farms, said the farm was the 16th recipient of the international distinction. Other heirloom farmers were from Bolivia, Ecuador, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Belize, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Tanzania, and Madagascar.

“We are elated to be part of this very small group of farmers who have been given this designation as Heirloom Cacao,” she said.

Puentespina’s beans underwent an extensive evaluation by HCP’s tasting panel before its heirloom status was announced in San Francisco on January 12, 2019. According to HCP, the chocolate was praised for its flavor, low acidity and “touch of fruits.”

HCP’s mission is to “identify and preserve fine flavor cacao varieties for the conservation of biological diversity and the empowerment of farming communities.” It is an initiative of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association founded in collaboration with the US Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Services.

Primarily grown by small farms in the lowland tropical regions, cacaos are good for the ecosystem because they are grown in the shade along with other fruit trees like bananas, coconuts, and forest trees. Helping preserve heirloom cacao also helps the livelihood of the farmers who grow them.

“We want our products to be worthy of the heirloom designation that has been given to us,” said Puentespina.

Meanwhile, the Malagos Agri-Ventures Corporation has issued a limited edition bar of Malagos Heirloom Chocolate 72% Dark Chocolate to celebrate the certification.





ACT petitions CA to prohibit PNP profiling, harassment of teachers

By Alliance of Concerned Teachers
January 17, 2019

QUEZON CITY – The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) filed a petition before the Court of Appeals today to seek remedy to the ongoing profiling operations being conducted by the Philippine Nationals Police (PNP) against their organization. ACT asks the CA to nullify all existing PNP directives to profile its membership and order the prohibition of the conduct of all operations that harass its leaders and members.

“This is just a first step of a host of legal actions that we will undertake against the illegal profiling, intimidation and harassment that the PNP carries out against us teachers. The profiling operations are evidently illegal as they violate our constitutionally-guaranteed rights to free expression, association and privacy, as well as pertinent laws,” declared Joselyn Martinez, chairperson of ACT Philippines.

ACT included PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde, Police Intelligence Director Gregorio Pimentel, Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, as well as ten police regional directors of Cordillera Administrative Region, National Capital Region, Regions I, III, IV-A, IV-B, V, VI, X and XIII as respondents to the case.

“The expanse of the reports we received regarding the profiling operations reveals its nationwide character, which shows that the top officials of the PNP and the DILG should be held liable. Anyway, the fish was already caught in their mouths as instead of categorically denying and denouncing the operations, they have justified it and laid ACT members vulnerable to further harm by red-tagging our organization,” explained Martinez.

The Petition for Prohibition with Urgent Prayer for the Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction cited first-hand accounts of ACT leaders and members who were victims of illegal profiling, person-specific surveillance and harassments perpetrated by police and military officers in the Cordillera Administrative Region, National Capital Region, Regions I, III, IV-A, IV-B, V, VI, X and XIII, as well as death threats issued against leaders at the height of the profiling issue.

“We are determined to frustrate these vile acts of the state forces against teachers through our solid unity and hold the perpetrators accountable, be it through the parliament of the street, lobbying or legal battle as our fight is not just for the sector but a fight to uphold democracy, against tyrannical forces,” underscored Martinez.

She added that ‘while we face this battle against repression, we equally invest our energies to intensify our struggle for decent salaries. No amount of intimidation and harassment can distract us from or dampen our resolve to forward our legitimate demands,” Martinez averred.

Petitioners of the case include the ACT Philippines, ACT National Capital Region Union, ACT Region III Union and the Manila Public School Teachers Association. They are joined by their legal counsels from the National Union of People’s Lawyers.





Pursuing troops discover enemy encampment in Samar

January 17, 2019

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan City – As of this day, the pursuing troops from 63rd Infantry (Innovator) Battalion, who were after the escaping group of CPP-NPA Terrorists (CNTs), were given an information by a concerned resident, on the presence of enemy personalities at Brgy. Bay-ang, San Jorge, Samar and discovered the abandoned enemy encampment last January 14, 2019 at 5:00 P.M.

Said operation resulted to the discovery of the following: four bulwagans (Multi-Purpose Hall), one big mess hall, one classroom with medical facilities, one training ground, four caves with one supply room, one comfort room (Ladies’ CR), five kitchens, six comfort rooms, 13 posts, laminated sacks, one C type claymore mine, oil container with gas, 122 bunkers, two generators (Honda), two M16 magazines (long), one .45 cal. magazine, assorted wires (300 meters), 10 pcs. water containers, one command switch for IED, eight assorted light bulbs and subversive documents.

Maj. Gen. Raul M. Farnacio AFP lauded the residents of Barangay Bay-ang for cooperating with the military troops in tracking down the enemies encamped in their locality. Likewise, MGen. Farnacio urges the CNTs to lay down their arms, live a normal and peaceful life with their families and avail the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) offered by the government.

In his message, the 8ID Commander said that “this captured enemy encampment is a big blow to the CNTs and on their plan to conduct atrocities in the region. It bespeaks of 8ID’s relentless efforts in internal security operations and in safeguarding the remote communities that are often abused and exploited by the CNTs."





Karapatan human rights worker abducted in Mindanao; Kabataan Partylist organizer arrested in Central Luzon

January 17, 2019

QUEZON CITY – “Yesterday, a human rights worker of Karapatan in Mindanao was abducted, while an organizer of Kabataan Partylist in Central Luzon was also illegally arrested. Both are women human rights defenders who have extensively worked alongside marginalized sectors. This series of rights violations is the latest in a string of atrocities that have been reported since the start of the year. If the first few weeks of this year is any indication of the months to come, then the dire human rights situation in the country will no doubt progressively worsen,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

Racquel Quintano
Racquel Quintano at Karapatan's 5th National Congress. (Photo from Karapatan SMR)

On the morning of January 16, 2019, Racquel Quintano, 42, spokesperson of Kalumonan, an organization composed of kin of political prisoners in Southern Mindanao, was abducted by still unknown assailants. According to witnesses, as Racquel was waiting for a jeepney along Sunrise St. in Brgy. Madaum, Tagum City, a black car stopped in front of her. Men dragged her inside and sped off. A search team has been mobilized, but as of this writing, Racquel’s whereabouts remain unknown. Racquel is also a human rights worker of Karapatan Southern Mindanao Region (SMR). She was among the delegates in Karapatan’s 5th National Congress in August 2018.

“We strongly condemn the abduction of another Karapatan human rights worker, and demand that State forces immediately surface Racquel and return her to her family. We know Racquel as a staunch rights advocate. She assisted two torture victims in the filing of their complaints at the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) last year. She has worked tirelessly to seek accountability for the injustices done against the two victims, one of whom was a minor when the incident occurred,” Palabay explained.

The Karapatan official also noted that a week ago, the human rights community have been branded by the President as enemies of the State. “From the start of his term, Duterte has mentioned Karapatan at least six times in his speeches, red-tagging the organization and discrediting our work. People like Racquel have worked under dangerous and disadvantageous circumstances to aid victims of rights violations throughout regimes. Yet, we ourselves are continuously being subjected to violations, with the government actively inciting threats against us,” she said, adding that since 2001, at least 40 human rights workers of Karapatan have been killed by State forces.

On the same day, Jennifer David, 28, a community organizer of Kabataan Partylist-Central Luzon, was illegally arrested by elements of the police in her residence in Brgy. San Matias, Sto. Tomas, Pampanga. She was detained at the Sto. Tomas police station, afterwhich she was brought to a court in Cavite. Jennifer has worked with Kabataan Partylist since 2011. According to recent updates from the quick reaction team (QRT), Jennifer has now been released. She was interrogated by police and military elements.

“The danger that human rights defenders face, particularly women, under the Duterte regime has reached a critical level. Women who remain in the custody of State forces remain vulnerable to further abuses. In Mindanao where martial law is implemented, state security forces commit atrocities with reckless abandon. The same can be said in other areas in the country where de facto martial law is crippling any form of dissent. However, the voices of victims and their families, communities, organizations and rights workers continue to expose these abuses and demand accountability for these crimes against the Filipino people,” Palabay concluded.





Safer schools ensure children’s rights to education and survival - Save the Children Philippines

Press Release
January 16, 2019

MAKATI CITY – Save the Children Philippines welcomes partnership with the Department of Education and Prudence Foundation in strengthening safety in schools as millions of children face risk of injury, psychosocial trauma and deaths during disasters and emergencies.

The project - Education Safe from Disasters was launched on January 16, 2019 to be implemented by the Department of Education, in partnership with Save the Children Philippines and Prudence Foundation.

The three year project improves the capacity of learners, teachers, schools staff and officials on disaster preparedness and risk reduction. It also integrates safety and disaster resiliency in the construction and retrofitting of school buildings. The program will be pilot tested in 16 schools division in Metro Manila.

The Philippines ranks third in the 2016 World Risk Index of the most disaster prone countries in the world. Every year, the country is hit by almost all forms of natural and man-made calamities like typhoons, earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, landslides. Lingering armed conflict in Mindanao and parts of Visayas continue to disrupt classes and displace families and children.

Lawyer Albert Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines said safety in schools guarantee children’s rights to survival and basic education.

Learners spend five to eight hours in schools during weekdays and their safety and security should be ensured while they are away from parents and guardians.

From 2007 to 2012, a total of 11 Million schoolchildren in the Philippines were affected by major disasters jeopardizing their rights to education and survival.

“Children face the harshest impact of disasters and emergencies, as they miss out on school, suffer injury and worse, deaths,” said Muyot. “We welcome the Education Safe from Disasters as part of our comprehensive child-rights based response to the needs of learners before, during and after disasters and emergencies.”

Save the Children Philippines has been providing emergency response during disasters by establishing Child Friendly Space (CFS) where displaced children can play and learn and Temporary Learning Space (TLS) where school age children can attend alternative classes.

The organization has provided interventions for thousands of displaced children during typhoon Mangkhut that hit Northern Luzon provinces and armed conflict in Marawi.





PSA conducts January 2019 Labor Force Survey (LFS) and 2018 Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) - visit 2

Family Income and Expenditure Survey

By PSA-8
January 15, 2019

TACLOBAN CITY – The Philippine Statistics Authority, Regional Statistical Service Office VIII (PSA RSSO VIII) will conduct the January 2019 Labor Force Survey (LFS) and the 2018 Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) – Visit 2 which will be carried out simultaneously on 14 January 2019.

A total of 10,663 systematically and randomly selected sample households in Region VIII were identified as respondents. Around 364 Hired Statistical Researchers and Team Supervisors will be deployed across the region to conduct the interviews.

The LFS is a quarterly nationwide survey of households which aims to gather data on the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the population, and to provide a quantitative framework for the preparation of plans and formulation of policies affecting the labor market.

Specifically, the LFS serves as a tool in measuring the distribution of household population 15 years old and over by employment status – employed, unemployed or underemployed. It is also used to determine various employment characteristics such as industry, class of worker, nature of employment and basis of payment.

The 2018 FIES-Visit 2, meanwhile, is the second of two rounds covering the second semester of 2018 (July to December) as reference period. It is a nationwide survey of households conducted every three years which aims to gather data on family income and expenditure, to include among others, levels of consumption by item of expenditure as well as sources of income in cash and in kind. The results of FIES provide inputs in the estimation of poverty threshold and incidence. It also determines the levels of living and disparities in income of Filipino families, as well as their spending patterns.

The PSA appeals to the public to cooperate and support the conduct of these surveys. The office also assures that all information gathered will be held strictly confidential and shall not be used as evidence in court for purposes of taxation, regulation or investigation as provided for in RA 10625.Data generated from these surveys will be disseminated in statistical summaries without reference to any individual person or household.





ACT demands for substantial pay hike, says 4th tranche not enough

By Alliance of Concerned Teachers
January 15, 2019

QUEZON CITY – Teachers from the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) renewed their call for substantial salary increase upon Budget Chief Diokno’s announcement regarding the February release of the 4th tranche of the salary adjustment under Executive Order 201, s. 2016. The group denounced the lamentable increase in their salaries while top government officials receive as much as P100K additional to their already 6-figure income.

“The 4th tranche only amounts to an increase of P575 for Teacher I, P789 for Teacher II, and P1,008 for Teacher III, and it is us who compose around 90% of the workforce in public basic education. Meanwhile, the President will receive an additional P101,656 and DBM Sec. ‘Joke-no’ may receive as much as P71,601 more. It is impossible to miss the injustice here,” declared Joselyn Martinez, ACT National Chairperson.

Martinez argued that these amounts “hardly cover the erosion in our salaries due to the TRAIN-induced surge in inflation last year, which were implemented by the very people in our government whose salaries were barely hurt by the rise in prices of basic commodities.”

Educators that belong to Teacher I, II, and III ranks will receive 2.8% to 4.2% salary increases under the 4th tranche of pay hike, which are way below the 5.2% inflation rate in 2018. President Duterte, on the other hand, will receive a 34% increase on his monthly salaries.

“We are hoping that this is not what the President was referring to when he claimed to want to raise our salaries this year,” said Martinez.

She stated that ACT is more than willing to discuss with the President the immediate and just demands of teachers, adding that “as the sole accredited union of teachers all over the country, we are confident that we represent the demands of our sector.”

“We remain steadfast on our call for a P30,000 salary for Teacher I, P31,000 for Instructor I, and P16,000 for salary grade 1 employees. We also call on the President to immediately effect a P3,000 increase in our personnel economic relief allowance (PERA),” urged Martinez.

The group also proposed some potential sources of funds for the increase, which included “the presidential pork, road users’ tax, flood control projects, P75 billion worth of last-minute insertions to the 2019 budget, tokhang and war funds,” among others.

“If the government were to truly be earnest in its efforts and wield its power and authority to serve the people, then nothing is impossible. The pay hike of teachers and other workers can be implemented in no time. Until then, we shall carry on the fight,” concluded Martinez.





Eastern Visayas closes 2018 with 4.4% inflation rate

By PSA-8
January 15, 2019

TACLOBAN CITY – Eastern Visayas closed 2018 with a 4.4% Inflation Rate (IR). This IR is 0.8 percentage point lower compared with the 5.2% IR a month ago, but 1.1 percentage points higher than the recorded 3.3% IR in the same period last year. The regional inflation rate was 0.7 percentage point lower than the 5.1% national average in December 2018.

December 2018 Eastern Visayas inflation rateAll provinces registered lower inflation rates in December 2018 compared with their figures in the previous month. Samar posted the highest decrease at 1.8 percentage points, from 7.4% in November 2018 to 5.6% in December 2018. The rest of the provinces registered decreases ranging from 0.2 to 1.6 percentage points. Eastern Samar recorded the highest IR at 7.6%, while Biliran posted the lowest at 1.7%.

Among the commodity groups, transport registered the highest decrease of 3.7 percentage points. It was posted at 3.0% in December 2018 from 6.7% in November 2018. This can be attributed to the huge decrease in the index of operation of personal transport equipment.

The heavily weighted food and non-alcoholic beverages eased down to 6.0% in December 2018 from its previous month’s rate of 7.4%, a decrease of 1.4 percentage points. This can be traced to slower price increases of majority of the food items. Rice index registered the highest decrease at 3.2 percentage points, from 8.4% in November 2018 to 5.2% in December 2018. Fish index continued to have a double digit inflation rate at 10.2%, despite shedding off 2.0 percentage points from its figure a month ago. It also posted the highest among all food items.

Inflation rate for alcoholic beverages and tobacco also went down by 0.2 percentage point but still recorded double digit IR at 20.4%, the highest among all commodities.

Meanwhile, health index increased to 3.7% during the reference month, 1.3 percentage points higher compared with the 2.4% IR in November 2018. This can be attributed to the increase in the index for hospital services.

The Purchasing Power of Peso (PPP) of the region was recorded at P0.81 in December 2018, slightly stronger than the P0.80 PPP a month ago. This PPP implies that goods and services worth 100 pesos in December 2018 only costs 81 pesos in 2012.

Biliran, Northern Samar and Samar registered a 0.01 centavo increase in PPP compared with their figures in November 2018, while the rest of the provinces had retained their previous month’s PPP. Leyte and Biliran recorded the strongest PPP at P0.83. Southern Leyte ranked second at P0.81, followed by Eastern Samar at P0.78. Northern Samar and Samar posted the weakest PPP at P0.76.

December 2018 Eastern Visayas inflation rate





Troops encounter CPP NPA terrorists in Samar

By 803rd Infantry Brigade, 8ID PA
January 13, 2019

CAMP SUMOROY, Catarman, Northern Samar – Army troops operating in Samar Province encountered CPP NPA Terrorists (CNTs) in a remote area in Barangay Bay-ang, San Jorge, Samar on January 12, 2019 at around 6:50 in the morning.

In a report from Lt. Col. Rizaldo N. Laurena, Commanding Officer of the 63rd Infantry (Innovator) Battalion based in Barangay Erenas, San Jorge, Samar, his troops were on their way to Barangay Bay-ang when they chanced upon a group of fully armed CNTs operating in the area that triggered a brief firefight and an explosion.

After the encounter, nine soldiers were slightly wounded due to shrapnels from the blast while there are undetermined casualties on the side of the enemy. The wounded troops were evacuated to the nearest hospital for their immediate treatment.

In his statement, Brig. Gen. Ramil M. Bitong said that “the encounter in San Jorge is a significant accomplishment against the CNTs. As of this report, our troops are pursuing the main body of the fleeing CNTs, comprised of the EVRPC leadership. Our sources disclosed that the CNTs were planning to launch tactical offensives throughout Region 8. Another desperate attempt of the Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee to stay relevant by sowing fear and discontent among the residents of Region 8. This prompted the brigade to launch an offensive against them. The reliable reports of the residents of Barangays Bay-ang and Mobo-ob both of San Jorge and Brgy Beri of Motiong, who were complaining of the CNT abuses against them helped the government troops to close in on them.

The Brigade and the whole Team 8ID will be always ready to help our people. We are committed to stop the EVRPC's reign of terror in Region 8. Lastly, we appeal to the remaining NPA's and all misguided citizens who still support them to stop their activities and join the rest of society. Don’t be deceived.” Gen. Bitong added.





Work from home is timely, beneficial to workers and business; Good for PWDs, women

January 11, 2019

QUEZON CITY – The country’s largest workers group Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) applauded President Rodrigo Duterte for signing into law a measure allowing workers to work from home as alternative work arrangement in the light of heavy traffic congestion and poor mass transport system.

“After pending in both congress for so many congresses, Duterte’s signing into law allowing workers to work from home alternative work arrangement finally sets the clear parameters for both employees and employers who wants to jointly practice the scheme. This alternative work scheme will benefit both employers and their employees,” TUCP President Raymond Mendoza said.

He said those who work from home would be able save from transport and food costs. Employees would also be able to minimize stress caused by traffic congestion and ageing mass transport system.

Employers meanwhile would be able to minimize operational costs and ensure higher productivity from home working employee.

This will also widen the employment horizons for Person with Disabilities, senior citizens and working mothers who need not to report at work.

According to Mendoza, the alternative work arrangement will not change the 8-hour standard working time. There is also no diminution of wages and benefits including overtime pay, sick leave, maternity leave and all other benefits that employees have been receiving.

However, these rights must be ensured in the drafting of its Implementing Rules and Regulations spearheaded by the Labor department, workers and employers groups particularly workers' right to form a union and collectively bargain are complied with.

Mendoza expects the IRR finished by March this year.

On one hand, the work from home arrangement is not applicable in other industries particularly those working manufacturing and services sector.





Save the Children Philippines welcomes new law allowing 15 years old and above to get tested for HIV without consent of parents, guardians

Press Release
January 11, 2019

MAKATI CITY – Save the Children Philippines welcomed the signing of the law that finally allows minors aged 15 years and above to get tested for HIV without consent from parents or guardians.

Lawyer Albert Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines said the new “HIV and AIDS Policy Act” or Republic Act 1116 signed by President Duterte on December 20, 2018 amended RA 8504 or the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act that requires all minors to get a consent from parents or guardians before they can undergo an HIV test.

Muyot said the law recognizes the rights of children to health and protection from HIV.

He said giving minors aged 15 years old and above access to HIV testing is consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child where the government exercises responsibility to protect and assist families to nurture their children.

The new law allows minors aged 15-17 years old access to undergo voluntary HIV testing without parental consent, which was previously required under RA 8504.

Muyot welcomed provisions in the new HIV law that highlights participatory rights of children where their views are respected, “when adults are making decisions that affect children.”

Section 29 of the new HIV law allows any young person aged 15 and below who is pregnant or engaged in high risk behavior to access HIV testing and counseling with assistance from a licensed social worker or health worker.

When parents or guardians cannot be located or refuses to give consent, the minor aged 15 years old and below can still access HIV test and counseling through a consent from a social worker or health worker. “To protect the best interest of the child, the assent of the minor shall also be required prior to the testing,” said RA 1116, Section 29.

He said the new law is aligned with Article 5 of the UN convention that encourages parents to deal with rights issues "in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.”

The Philippines is one of the countries with the highest number of HIV cases in the world, with an average of 32 persons getting diagnosed with HIV daily.

Latest figures from the Department of Health showed that there are 1,072 new cases of HIV in the Philippines as of October 2018, with 306 of them young people aged 15 to 24.

The percentage of youth getting infected with HIV has ballooned to 29 per cent from 13 per cent over the last decade.

“The steady rise of HIV cases among minors has been a cause for alarm since they cannot open up to their parents and guardians and get treatment due to social stigma,” said Muyot.

The lack of access to testing centers without consent from parents and guardians has deepened the problem as minors continue to contract and spread HIV.

Save the Children Philippines, in partnership with Global Fund implements an HIV prevention project targeting key populations of men who have sex with men, transgender women, people who inject drugs and young key populations.

The project assists in setting up community HIV centers in addition to Social Hygiene Clinics in different localities that provide free access to HIV-related services. The project also employs community health workers who conduct testing among target communities and facilitate enrollment to treatment of those who test positive.

Save the Children Philippines joined the Committee on Children and HIV/AIDS (ComCHA) being led by the Council for the Welfare of Children in pushing for the “Proxy Consent Protocol” that allows those 18 years old and below to get HIV test through a consent from a health or social worker.

The passage of the new HIV law means that the protocol will only be needed for those who are under 15.

“The issue of HIV/AIDS is a global health concern that can only be addressed with measures that respect the rights of people especially minors to access health services such as HIV testing and treatment,” said Muyot.





New SEC memo on non-profit organizations violates right to organize - Karapatan

January 9, 2019

QUEZON CITY – Surreptitiously, without consultation with many non-profit organizations, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued SEC Memorandum Circular No. 15 (s. 2018) or the Guidelines for the Protection of SEC Registered Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) From Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Abuse or the NPO Guidelines on November 7, 2018.

At first glance, the said memorandum seems like an innocuous set of guidelines to supposedly “protect non-profit organizations from money laundering and terrorist financing abuse.” However, considering the context of the worsening human rights situation, including the increasingly dangerous situation of human rights defenders, and the climate of impunity in the Philippines, SEC Memorandum Circular No. 15 merits deeper scrutiny.

As it is, human rights defenders face greater risks under the Duterte administration. Karapatan notes that at least 139 human rights defenders have been killed from July 2016 to November 2018. UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Michel Forst, in his World Report on the situation of human rights defenders, has noted that in the Philippines, the “government’s war on drugs has created a climate of insecurity and impunity for extrajudicial killings that affects human rights defenders.” Forst also observed that Duterte’s has fostered a “very harmful rhetoric against human rights defenders," labelling them as “anti-nation,” “protectors of drug lords,” “communists,” “terrorists,” among others.

Recently, a slew of such rhetoric has resulted in killings of farmworkers and a human rights lawyer in Negros, arbitrary arrests on trumped up charges of peace advocates, peasant organizers and leaders, harassment of human rights workers, and profiling and surveillance of teachers.

A closer look and analysis reveal that the latest set of guidelines by SEC is one that infringes on non-governmental organizations’ rights to organize and form associations, specifically on their freedom or capacity to freely conduct or perform their advocacies, as well as the right to privacy of the officers, members, clients or beneficiaries of any of those considered as non-profit organizations. This new memorandum is an extension of the mounting repressive policies insidiously implemented by the Duterte government in installments, so as not to betray its real intent of curbing all platforms for dissent.

With the said recent SEC Guidelines, the Commission is given unchecked discretion to determine and identify those whom it considers “NPOs at Risk.” No clear parameters have been stated, other than a very arbitrary classification of NPOs as “low risk,” “medium risk,” “high risk,” or “blacklisted.” Determination of which NPO will be classified as such also rests on information provided by government agencies such as the Philippine National Police. This renders progressive organizations at risk, particularly those openly red-tagged by the PNP and the Duterte government as “legal fronts.”

Through SEC Memorandum Circular No. 15, the SEC and government authorities are given unbridled power to compel disclosure of numerous information on non-government organizations, without a court order, including information on the location of beneficiaries or projects, areas of operation or activity, identities and locations of persons or entities who provide financial support for the NPO or are its intended beneficiaries. According to the guidelines, such information will be shared and made accessible to government agencies such as the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation. With the express provision in the said memorandum on the SEC’s powers to enlist the aid, support and/or deputize any and all enforcement agencies of the government, civil or MILITARY, for the purpose of conducting investigations and information gathering, there is great danger that the SEC will be used for profiling, intelligence-gathering, surveillance, harassment and other possible grave violations against NGOs.

Through the said memorandum, the SEC is given control of all non-profit organizations in the country, as it is weaponized to infringe on the freedom and capacity of these organizations to freely conduct or perform their advocacies.

Karapatan thus calls for the scrapping or rescinding of SEC Memorandum Circular No. 15 as a measure that is directly inconsistent to the government’s duty to uphold the right to organize and privacy of all citizens, including the rights of human rights defenders against any form of interference or reprisal on their work. Such an arbitrary yet powerful memorandum will provide justification for a new form of witch-hunt, albeit still with the same targets. Such regulations will inevitably impede the work of human rights defenders, aid and development workers and other non-profit/non-government organizations and will surely result in the further constriction of civic space in the Philippines.





Waray novelist creative writing workshop
SULAT’s pioneering batch of creative writing fellows participated in the two-day creative writing workshop facilitated by Filipino novelist Gina Apostol. (Photo by Stacy Garcia)

Waray novelist facilitates first Southeast Asian creative writing workshop in the UK

Press Release
January 9, 2019

LONDON – Award-winning Waray novelist Gina Apostol facilitated the first Creative Writing Workshop under SULAT, a platform launched by the School of Oriental and African Studies University of London (SOAS) aimed at fostering an active and engaged creative writing community for Southeast Asian literature.

The workshop focused on discussions about the place of history and the ‘silent voices’ in writing post-colonial fiction. It was followed by a round of critiques on the works of SULAT’s first batch of creative writing fellows and concluded with readings from the award-winning masterpieces of Apostol and Reine Arcache Melvin.

“SULAT is committed to discovering and supporting emerging writers of Southeast Asian descent in the UK,” said Dr. Cristina Martinez-Juan, who currently heads SOAS’ Philippine Studies Programme. “It’s meant to be a space where writers can come together, learn from each other, and support each other, particularly in terms of Southeast Asian literature.”

According to Juan, Southeast Asia is replete with brilliant writers but in order to increase the works’ readership, it needs wider distribution, more media coverage, and more people talking about the stories being written by Southeast Asian writers.

“Writers are some of the most important purveyors of culture,” said Ambassador Antonio M. Lagdameo. “Works of literature, whether prose or poetry, have the power to provide people a glimpse into the soul of a nation and the essence of a country’s culture. Specific to Philippine literature, the Filipinos’ strong command of the English language make us some of the most compelling storytellers in the English speaking world.”

SULAT aims to follow-up on the workshop by continuously engaging the pioneering batch of creative writing fellows and by initiating other activities that aimed at igniting interest in Southeast Asian literature in the United Kingdom (UK).

Reine Arcache Melvin
Reine Arcache Melvin explains the historical backdrop of her latest book, The Betrayed. (Photo by Stacy Garcia)





DepEd neglect necessitates teachers to organize - TDC

Press Release
January 9, 2019

QUEZON CITY – “An attack on one of us is an attack against all of us”. This was the statement made by Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC) national chairperson and Benjo Basas upon hearing of the profiling of members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) by the national police with the consent and endorsement of certain Education department officials.

The group condemned the malicious profiling of teachers by the PNP as well as the connivance of certain DepEd officials who endorsed the surveillance of teachers.

PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde admitted in press conference Monday that their intelligence gathering was not limited to members of ACT.

Basas strongly demanded the DepEd to stand firm against all intrusions and transgressions of their rights and well being as state employees and hold accountable officials who conspired with the national police without providing sufficient reason.

The group says that the revocation of the endorsement letter is insufficient to guarantee the full protection of their rights.

“The DepEd cannot expect teachers to be as effective stewards of the next generation if we are being subjected to harassment and intimidation for merely joining an organization to seek what we rightfully deserve,” Basas said.

He adds, “it is distressing for us to find out that an institution with such noble goals be a willing tool to the fascist machinations of this administration”.

He pointed out that public school teachers are overworked, undercompensated and continuously deprived of our economic and political rights, and are now being maliciously red-tagged for merely asserting what is granted to them by law.

Basas, first nominee of partylist group Partido Lakas ng Masa cited that among the issues they have long lobbied for is the full implementation of the provisions of Republic Act 4670 or the Magna Carta of Public School Teachers which includes the freedom to organize.

In last year’s National Teachers Month, the more than 30,000-strong TDC held protests demanding the implementation of the six hour work day under DepEd Memorandum 291 of 2008 and DepEd Order 16 of 2009, following three suicide cases last year attributed to heavy workloads.

This culminated in a campout outside the DepEd Central office in Pasig City from September 24 to October 5.

Meanwhile, TDC chairman for the National Capital Region Nono Esguerra of Roxas High School called on the DepEd to uphold the confidentiality & privacy of records of its employees and protect them from possible harm and danger.

He reminds the DepEd that it is within its mandate to implement the right and freedom to organize and non-discrimination enshrined in Magna Carta for Public School Teachers.

Basas indicated that they are willing to march side-by-side with ACT members. “Unity is required to derail whatever sinister plans the PNP have up their sleeve. We will do whatever is required for teachers to be treated as dignified professionals and not what the police are painting us to be”.

TDC, a rival organization of ACT, was founded in 2006 with the purpose of advancing the interests and general welfare of all public school teachers.

He warned that the continued neglect and persecution of teachers under the present administration will give rise to a unified teachers’ movement that may launch bolder actions to advance their interests, similar to the wave of teachers’ strikes that hit the United States last year.

“Hindi ba kapag napuno na ang salop, dapat na itong kalusin,” Basas averred.





Save the Children Philippines pushes vaccination vs. measles to prevent rising deaths of children

Press Release
January 8, 2019

MAKATI CITY – Save the Children Philippines called on parents and health workers to intensify measles vaccination due to the steady rise of deaths among children caused by complications from the preventable disease.

Lawyer Albert Muyot, chief executive officer of Save the Children Philippines said there is a need to dispel the public scare against vaccination in general as it has prevented mothers from having their children immunized.

A scare against vaccination spread in the Philippines because of the Dengvaxia vaccine against dengue.

“Parents and community health workers must be at the forefront of the campaign to dispel the public scare against measles vaccination to make sure children do not die from the preventable disease,” said Muyot.

The number of deaths from measles, mostly children climbed five times to 17,289 between January to November 2018, compared to 3,706 cases recorded during the same period in 2017, according to the Department of Health.

The recently passed First 1,000 Days law highlights the need for complete immunization of babies including measles vaccines before they reach one year old. It also ensures children’s health and nutrition and better performance in schools.

Dr. Amado Parawan, health and nutrition advisor of Save the Children Philippines said immunization is important to ensure herd immunity of children from the airborne virus of measles.

He said measles vaccine has been used in the country for four decades and has prevented deaths and diseases among children since then.

“We cannot compare measles vaccines which have been proven to be effective in saving the lives of children from the life threatening disease to the newly developed Dengvaxia, which is the subject of the public scare,” said Parawan.

He said measles virus is airborne and easily transferred among infants and children who have not been vaccinated.

“Complications from measles are pneumonia and diarrhea, which are also the top two leading causes of deaths among children,” said Parawan.

Save the Children Philippines has been implementing maternal and child health and nutrition programs among poor families in Navotas, Malabon, Caloocan through access to immunization, prenatal check-ups for pregnant mothers and training of community health workers.

Under Project NURTURE, the group is implementing nutrition-sensitive measures in eight poor barangays in Navotas with focus on the first 1,000 days of the child to prevent stunting and improve the health of pregnant and lactating mothers. The program includes prenatal check-up, food vouchers for pregnant and lactating mothers as well as health and nutrition services for undernourished children.

Save the Children Philippines pushed for the enactment of the First 1,000 Days law that scales up the nutrition support for mothers and children in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, which is the crucial window of opportunity to ensure that mothers and children in Philippines achieve optimum development.





school buildings turn over in Biliran
Congressman Rogelio J. Espina (in red polo shirt) and Ms. Leah Lim, School Principal lead the ribbon cutting rites of the newly completed school buildings in Maurang Elementary School in Caibiran, Biliran. The ribbon cutting was assisted by District Engineer David P. Adongay Jr., (in white longsleeve) and Engr. Warlito Alagao Sr. (in green shirt) of WB Alagao Construction on December 10, 2018.

P32.7M newly completed school buildings turn over to recipient schools

Press Release
December 28, 2018

NAVAL, Biliran – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Biliran District Engineering Office (DEO) turns-over the newly completed school buildings to two recipient schools in the town of Culaba and Caibiran.

The Pinamihagan Elementary School in Culaba town and Maurang Elementary School in Caibiran town are among the beneficiary schools of the newly completed P32.7M school buildings.

In Pinamihagan Elementary School, P13M three school buildings with a total of nine classrooms is now operational after being turned-over on December 14, 2018 This school building can accommodate at least 360 students of the said school.

Meanwhile, P19.7M four new school buildings now also rise in Maurang Elementary School with a total of 14 classrooms. The school building that can accommodate at least 560 students was turned-over on December 10, 2018.

David P. Adongay Jr., District Engineer said that the newly completed school buildings were equipped with better toilets and ceiling fans to provide the students a conducive place for learning.

“With good school environment, our students will be motivated to learn as well as our teachers to teach,” said Adongay.

“This school buildings can also be used by the residents as an evacuation just in times of calamities,” added Adongay.

According to Adongay, the design of the school buildings were based on DPWH design standards which emanates from DPWH Central Office.

“As far as the design is concerned, the school buildings are sturdy,” said Adongay.

DPWH-Biliran DEO is currently implementing a total of 71 school building projects under FY 2017 Department of Education (DepEd) - Basic Educational Facilities Fund (BEFF) amounting to P329.2M.

Out of 71, 61 were already completed, nine are on-going and one is Not-Yet-Started (NYS) with an accomplishment of 97.45%.





Manila Water bags Calbayog deal

Press Release
December 27, 2018

QUEZON CITY – Ayala-led Manila Water Co., Inc. has been awarded the contract to provide water and wastewater services in Calbayog City.

In a regulatory filing early today, Manila Water disclosed that it had received the Notice of Award from the Calbayog City Water District (CCWD) for the implementation of an integrated water supply and sanitation project, to be carried out under a joint venture framework.

The contract covers the design, construction, rehabilitation, operation, maintenance, financing, expansion, and management of water and wastewater systems in the city of Calbayog, as well as other areas which may eventually form part of the service coverage of CCWD in the Province of Samar.

Manila Water intends to form a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) with its local partner, TubigPilipinas Group, Inc., to implement the project with an estimated CAPEX of P1.2B under a contractual joint venture with CCWD.

The joint venture agreement will grant the SPV the exclusive right to manage, operate, maintain, repair, refurbish and improve, expand and as appropriate, decommission, the facilities of CCWD. The SPV shall also be given the right to bill and collect tariff for the provision of water supply and sanitation services in the service area.

Calbayog City serves as the commercial and industrial center of the province of Western Samar. It has a total estimated population of 194,000. As of 2017, CCWD has 13,097 water service connections, with a service coverage of only 32% and an effective water tariff of P39.4/cum. The project has a potential billed volume of about 30 million liters per day.





Soldier pays the ultimate sacrifice to protect the community

December 23, 2018

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan City – Community Support Program (CSP) Team of 20th Infantry (We Lead) Battalion, 8ID, PA while conducting security patrol was fired upon by more or less 30 Communist NPA Terrorist (CNTs) at vicinity Brgy Caputo-an, Las Navas, Northern Samar on December 22, 2018 at about 6: 20 A.M.

Firefight between the soldiers and the terrorists lasted for an hour and twenty minutes that resulted to the loss of Private First Class Alvin B. Avila (Inf) PA and wounding of Private Ivan Anthony P. Ignao (Inf) PA and Private Michael S. Ocasla (Inf) PA.

Recovered after the encounter were the following: 60 meters drop wire; one bag of assorted empty shells of (M60 machine gun, M14 and M16 rifles, Cal. 45 and 9mm pistol); two cooking pots; detonating cords and one empty box with Armscor trademark.

The fatality, PFC Avila is 24 years old and is a resident of Aguadas St. District 4, Burauen, Leyte who had a great passion to serve his fellow Visayans in Northern Samar.

The CSP Team was deployed at Brgy Caputo-an to assist the community to facilitate the needed basic services to be addressed by the local government unit.

Major General Raul M. Farnacio, Commander of the 8th Infantry Division, instructed the troops to be more aggressive to put an end to the terroristic activities of the CNTs against our people within our area of operations.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Private First Class Avila. He died protecting the people of Northern Samar in pursuit of peace and development,” Farnacio added.





EV registers 96.1% employment rate in October 2018

By PSA-8
December 19, 2018

TACLOBAN CITY – Eastern Visayas registered 96.1% Employment Rate (ER) in October 2018, ranking sixth among the regions with high employment rates in the country, and at par with Zamboanga Peninsula. This figure is slightly lower than the 96.3% ER recorded in October 2017. Employment rate is the proportion of employed persons to total labor force.

Out of the estimated 3.2 million population 15 years old and over in October 2018, about 1.8 million were economically active or in the labor force. This number translates to a Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) of 58.4%. This figure is 1.8 percentage points lower compared with the 60.2% LFPR in the same period a year ago. Among the regions, Eastern Visayas recorded the fourth lowest LFPR.

The underemployed persons or those employed persons who express the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job or to have additional job, or to have a new job with longer working hours was estimated at 265 thousand. This is equal to an underemployment rate of 14.9%, 5.7 percentage points lower than the 20.6% recorded in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, about 72 thousand persons in the labor force were unemployed. This translates to an unemployment rate of 3.9%, slightly higher than the 3.7% unemployment rate recorded in the same period in 2017. Considered unemployed persons are persons in the labor force who are reported as without work; and currently available for work; and seeking work or not seeking work due to the following reasons: a) belief that no work is available, or b) awaiting results of previous job application, or c) because of temporary illness or disability, or d) weather, or e) waiting for rehire or job call.

Data were based on the preliminary estimates released by the Philippine Statistics Authority from the Labor Force Survey (LFS) conducted in October2018.

October 2018 eastern visayas employment rate





Innocent mother and son, and four soldiers blast with anti-personnel mine by CNTs in Catarman, Northern Samar

By 43rd Infantry Battalion, 8ID PA
December 18, 2018

LOPE DE VEGA, Northern Samar – Troops of 43IB, 8ID, PA who delivered food intended for the soldiers of Charlie Company 43IB at Brgy. Mckinley, Northern Samar who are conducting Community Support Program (CSP) operations in the said barangay, while riding on one light ace civilian vehicle of the said unit traversing the road towards Catarman proper were hit by an anti-personnel mine and fired upon by more or less 15 Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) at vicinity in-between Brgy Hinatad and Brgy Mckinley of same municipality at around 11:35 in the morning yesterday.

Anti-personnel mine were detonated first followed by volumes of fire of different caliber, forcing them to retaliate, the firefight lasted for about five minutes, which resulted to the wounding of four soldiers and two innocent civilians passing on that area, after which the CNTs withdrew towards different direction.

The victims were identified as Pvt Rolly B Dizon (Inf) PA, Pfc Rorey O Montopar (Inf) PA, Pvt Joel Lacabe (Inf) PA, and Cpl Jose Jerome L Ballano (Inf) PA, all endured minor wounds. Furthermore, the identified mother and son, Sherly Robenacio, 35 years old and Christian Robenacio, 17 years old, of Brgy. Hinatad, Catarman, Northern Samar were reportedly wounded in the incident.

The injured soldiers were brought to the nearest hospital for immediate medical treatment and already recovering. Moreover, the wounded civilians were already in the Northern Samar Provincial Hospital and were assisted by 43IB troops.

From the point of Cornillo Robenacio, husband and father of the wounded civilians, there were no good things that CNTs may bring to the people; they are just giving problems and headaches to the innocent.

According to LTC Apollo B Herrera INF (GSC) PA Commanding Officer of 43rd IB, the incident that transpired in the area was brought not only misery but also caused panic to the innocent civilians particularly the use of violence and enemy atrocities distorting the lives of the local folks. Moreover, the unit will not observe Christmas break to ensure the safety of its area of operation and to prepare for other possible violent move of the CNTs. The unit will plan different and massive tactical operations, and will file both human rights violation and criminal cases against the CNTs.

The 43rd IB call the attention of Nortehanons to condemn the barbaric act done by the Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) particularly in using anti-personnel mines and other terroristic atrocities actions in Northern Samar.

These illegal activities of the CNTs that affect innocent civilians are a clear violation of the International Humanitarian Law and Comprehensive Agreement for Respect on Human Rights and International Law (CARHIL), affecting the peace effort of the government particularly in attaining the long-lasting peace and development in Northern Samar respectively and despite of commemorating National Human Rights Consciousness week last December 04-10, 2018 this case happened. Moreover, this incident shows that Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) are not sincere from their offered unilateral truce this Christmas season because their plan is contrast with what is happening.





InsuResilience Global Partnership
In the photo are (L-R) African Risk Capacity (ARC) Chief of Operational Planning Mr. Papa Zoumana Diarra, Deutsche Welle TV Global Broadcaster Monica Jones, Dr. Alip who also a member of the board of International Co-operative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF), and InsuResilience Head Dr. Astrid Zwick.

Paving the way to effective risk financing solutions

Press Release
December 18, 2018

SAN PABLO CITY – CARD Mutual Benefit Association’s (CARD MBA) experiences and strategies in delivering affordable and efficient microinsurance products for the socioeconomically challenged communities in the Philippines is one of the featured talks at the Global Partnership Forum of InsuResilience Global Partnership on December 10, 2018 in Katowice, Poland (COP24).

Dr. Jaime Aristotle B. Alip, the founder and chair emeritus of CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI) where CARD MBA is a member institution, highlighted in his talk the business model and strategic direction of CARD MBA, the 1-3-5 claims settlement.

The said scheme ensures that the claim of every policy holder must be given within one day to a maximum of five days.

Moreover, CARD MBA offers life insurance at P15 (USD 0.3) per week to more than six million clients of CARD financial institutions insuring more than 23 million individuals nationwide.

CARD MRI is a group of 21 development-oriented institutions that aims to eradicate poverty through microfinance, social protection, and community development.

The 2nd Partnership Forum serves as a platform to exchange experience and knowledge in exploring successful ways to promote climate and disaster risk finance and insurance solutions.

At least 200 participants from governments to representatives of international organizations, civil society, private sector, and academia attended the forum.





Local steel company to construct P500M plant in Batangas - DTI

Steel plant

December 14, 2018

MAKATI – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez and Puyat Steel Corporation Chairman Edgardo Reyes discussed the plan of expand the steel manufacturing base in the Philippines as a way to answer the country’s growing demand for steel products and reduce the trade deficit through import substitution.

During their meeting on 11 December with the DTI, Chairman Reyes reported that Puyat Steel is constructing a Php 500-million pipe manufacturing plant in Batangas that will produce steel pipes of up to 3 meters in diameter and to create 350 new jobs. It will be located beside the company’s existing plant in Batangas, and will begin operation in the first quarter of 2019.

Lopez is pushing for local manufacturing companies to expand operations amidst a fast-growing economy under the Duterte administration. Boosting the manufacturing sector creates jobs, increases the production capacity to support the rapidly expanding domestic demand and export requirements, and helps reduce the trade deficit, said Sec. Lopez.

DTI pushing for fair trade practices and a level playing field for domestic industries and is therefore studying the inclusion of steel pipes and roofing materials in the list of products requiring mandatory certification to ensure that only quality standard materials are sold in the local market, for the protection of consumers and users.

Strengthening enforcement of industry standards, he further noted, will prevent substandard imports and smuggled goods from entering the country. Undersecretary Ruth Castelo, who heads the Consumer Protection Group, said that the DTI advocates for the use of international standards for all local and imported steel products.

Mr. Reyes said that while they are facing challenges in maintaining its market share against imported products, they are willing to invest to expand more as they have the technology and know-how.

Puyat Steel Corporation is a 62-year old company that established the first galvanizing plant in the Philippines. They produce galvanized iron sheets for construction, building, and roofing materials.


Last updated: 03/16/2019