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Paying it forward: NMP mobilizes donation drive for MPCF

An egg-citing story of an ex-OFW: If chicken do it, so can you

Filipino startup wins in global pitch competition

RTF-8 ELCAC vows stronger coordination to attain peace by 2022

NMP answers the call for a sustainable maritime future

P3.4-M TUPAD grants benefit 679 Leyteňos

DPWH-BDEO installs rainwater collection systems in Biliran province

DTI’s OTOP Ambassador Catriona Gray raises the flag, flaunting the PH weaving crafts





Samar First received 162 projects for 2021

DPWH Samar 1 projects

January 28, 2021

CALBAYOG CITY – The Department of Public Works and Highways -Samar First District Engineering Office received 162 projects to be implemented by the district amounting to more than P2.95 billion for 2021.

There will be 36 projects that are under the Multi-Year Contracting Authority (MYCA) while one project is included in the FY 2020 For Later Release (FLR) that is subject for withdrawal. Another 125 of which are part of the new projects. These will comprise the General Appropriations Act for CY 2021. Samar is continuously creating opportunities within its sphere of jurisdiction and infrastructure project under the Build, Build, Build Program.

To preserve the infrastructure investment made along national road, the project identified focus more on rehabilitation/construction/widening on both national and secondary roads amounting to P1,457,587,000.00 while an allocation of P343,417,000.00 was granted to projects that will prevent flooding in low-lying areas.

Local Program also received P1,012,746,000.00 whereas, convergence and special support program received P136,599,000.00 to build roads leading to tourism destinations and infrastructure/s in support of national security which is beneficial to the people of the 1st District of Samar.





Investigate PH: The world needs to act now on Duterte gov’t’s rights abuses

Investigate PH

Global independent probe on rights abuses in the Philippines launched, announced 3 reports for submission to UN human rights body

Press Release
January 28, 2021

MANILA – The Independent International Commission of Investigation into human rights violations in the Philippines or Investigate PH was launched this Thursday, January 28. The commission expressed urgency for accountability of perpetrators and justice for victims and their families.

More than 200 participants from lawyers organisations, civil society and churches all over the world came together to manifest their support for the global project.

“Investigate PH is a critical space of solidarity and accompaniment of the people of the Philippines as it investigates the blatant violation and violence related to the basic human rights of people,” says one of the commissioners, Rev. Michael Blair, current General Secretary of the United Church of Canada’s General Council.

The creation of Investigate PH was prompted by the resolution of the 45th UN Human Rights Council session on the Philippine rights situation, also known as Resolution 45/L.38, last October 2020 that fell short of victims and the international community’s demand for an independent probe on the country.

“The gravity of the violations underlines why the world needs to know about these human rights abuses and to act to stop the crimes. I put it to everyone at this event that if we were Filipinos, we would surely have suffered under the Duterte government. The evidence is overwhelming. The testimonies [are] tragic,” Investigate PH Commissioner Lee Rhiannon and former Senator of Australia said, pertaining to her solidarity visit in the Philippines last 2019.

In the global launch, commissioners of Investigate PH call on the international community to act now on the human rights abuses perpetrated by the government of President Rodrigo Duterte. Currently, the Commission is composed of 10 eminent personalities namely:

Lee Rhiannon, Former Senator of Australia

Atty. Jeanne Mirer, President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers

Atty. Jan De Lien of the Justis Lawyers Group of Belgium

Atty. Suzanne Adely, President of the National Lawyers Guild

Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs

Rev. Dr. Chris Ferguson, General Secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches

Rev. Michael Blair, General Secretary of United Church of Canada

Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary of the General Board of Church & Society, the United Methodist Church

Archbishop Joris Vercammen of the Old Catholic Church of Netherlands, and Central Committee member, World Council of Churches

Dr. David Edwards, General Secretary of the Education International

Leaders of international lawyers’ groups, political leaders and global church groups have formed the Investigate PH to gather evidence on crimes against humanity in relation to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs” and the persecution of human rights defenders and civil society organisations.

New York-based human rights lawyer Jeanne Mirer vowed that Investigate PH will “bring these violations to light” internationally.

Three reports to the UNHRC, ICC

It was announced in the global launch that the international probe will submit their findings by way of oral interventions and submissions at Enhanced Interactive Dialogues and General Debates in the upcoming UNHRC Regular Sessions.

Two preliminary reports will be released in time for the 46th and 47th UNHRC sessions in March and July 2021 respectively, and one final report in time for the 48th UNHRC session in September when the High Commissioner will deliver an update on the implementation of Resolution 45/L.38.

“We are preparing a submission on these crimes to go to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,” says Rhiannon and added that “what is happening in the Philippines amounts to crimes against humanity. These crimes must end.”

Investigate PH will also submit their findings to the International Criminal Court. They aim to update the Bachelet report and help facilitate international mechanisms for redress and accountability such as in relevant UN bodies and the ICC.

A project brief on Investigate PH is attached to this email. You may also access it here.





100-days countdown marker to NMP's 43rd anniversary unveiled

NMP 43rd anniversary countdown

By National Maritime Polytechnic
January 26, 2021

TACLOBAN CITY – The National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP), established in the year 1978 by Presidential Decree No. 1369, sets its pace through the unveiling of the 100-Days countdown marker last 22 January 2021 in celebration of NMP's 43 years in public service providing competitive and quality trainings & researches to the Filipino seafarers.

With this year's anniversary theme: "Enhancing the Filipino Seafarers' Capabilities through NMP Trainings In Meeting Global Competitiveness Towards Adopting The New Normal", a challenge and reflection was injected by NMP's Deputy Executive Director, Mayla N. Macadawan in her opening remarks, "This is not the occasion we imagined it to be. It's not going to be a normal celebration but nevertheless, with our initiative and resilience we always find ways to give meaningful occasions. The wisdom of putting NMP in Tacloban City is we are at the heart of the country making us accessible to both the two major islands of the country. Therefore, let's look back to 43 years as a premier & the only maritime training & research center with the need to evolve and continuously meet the demand of the advancing maritime world."

The event was concluded with the words of encouragement from the Executive Director of NMP, Joel B. Maglunsod mirroring on the importance of unity as a great factor in achieving success and the persistent attainment of the NMP's vision and mission.

"This occasion must be marked by the dedication and commitment of all NMP employees who have been serving the Filipino people in general, and the Filipino seafarers in particular, for the past 43 years" said Executive Director Maglunsod.

NMP, an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), was established as the government's response to the immediate and dire need of updating and upgrading the capability and qualifications of maritime licensed officers and other marine graduates for their increased acceptability for employment in international and domestic fleets. Also, the agency has a satellite office located at Makati City but soon to transfer to a more reachable location at the DOLE Office in Manila.

Apart from its training operations, NMP also conducts industry researches towards improving the Philippine maritime workforce with its findings adopted as inputs in the formulation of maritime education and labor and employment policies.





Biliran slope collapse
David P. Adongay Jr. inspects on-going construction of the Emergency Repair of Damaged National Roads with Slips, Slope Collapse and Landslide along Naval Caibiran Cross Country Road, (K1041+500-K1041+590), So. Macalpe, Naval, Biliran.

Emergency repair of damaged road with slope collapse in Biliran underway

By DPWH-Biliran
January 26, 2021

NAVAL, Biliran – Two on-going projects: emergency repair of damaged national road with slope collapse along Naval-Caibiran Cross Country Road (NCCCR) are more than halfway complete.

David P. Adongay Jr., District Engineer said that these projects are being fast-tracked under contract with Chu Construction to accommodate huge numbers of traffic along NCCCR.

Both projects are located at Sitio Macalpe, Brgy. Cabibihan, Naval Biliran with road sections: K1041+500-K1041+590 amounting to P35M and K1041+266-K1041+382 amounting to P44.8M. As of January 25, 2021, they have an accomplishment of 83.52% and 60%, respectively. Currently, these road sections are passable only to light vehicles for safety measures.

“The immediate completion of these projects is important to prevent any road accident especially that these road sections are prone to slips, slope collapse and landslides,” said Adongay.

According to Adongay, major scope of work for this project involves the concreting of a four-lane road and the installation of gabions, the first of its kind here in the Province.

Gabion is a wire cage or box filled with materials such as stone, concrete, sand, or soil. It is a partially flexible block construction used for slope stability and erosion protection in construction.

“The asset preservation project is designed to prevent further road slips along NCCCR and prevent road closures in this area”, said Adongay.

The road at NCCCR is essential for residents in the town of Caibiran and to its neighboring towns for a faster access to the only Provincial Hospital and other basic essential services like banks and other financial institutions in the capital town of Naval.

When completed, this project will provide a wider and safer road for the increasing volume of traffic along NCCCR.

From its start dates on June 10, 2020, these projects are targeted to be completed on February 19, 2021 and March 05, 2021.





Global probe on PH rights violations to include case of harassed indigenous peoples leader

Igorot activist Windel Bolinget politically persecuted, submitted himself to authorities for custodial protection on fabricated charges

Press Release
January 26, 2021

MANILA – Investigate PH, an independent international investigation on the human rights abuses in the Philippines announced Wednesday that it will include the case of Cordillera indigenous leader Windel Bolinget. Last week, Bolinget submitted himself to the authorities for protection as he faces the trumped-up murder case that was filed by a police against him. Prior to this, a shoot to kill order and bounty of US $2,100 was issued by the police directly threatening his life.

“We are determined to pursue the case of indigenous peoples activist Windel Bolinget in this ongoing independent investigation. The absurd cases filed against him causing fear for his life and the safety of his family are testaments to the terror human rights defenders face in the Philippines,” says International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippine (ICHRP) Chairperson Peter Murphy who is also part of the global probe Investigate PH.

Bolinget’s case which involves harassment, red-tagging and the now trumped up charges has been shortlisted by Investigate PH in its investigation. The independent international probe will submit a report to the upcoming Regular Sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

Mr Bolinget is the Chairperson of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and national convenor of KATRIBU national alliance of indigenous peoples. He is also a member of the global steering committee of Land is Life, a global network of indigenous peoples’ organizations and advocates. “Windel Bolinget has long been known globally as an indigenous activist strongly committed to his work, and for many years has suffered red-tagging and death threats,” says Murphy.

On 6 August 2020, a criminal case was filed at Davao del Norte, Southern Philippines, against eleven individuals including Mr Bolinget, for their alleged involvement in the murder of Garito Malibato on 21 March 2018. Bolinget belongs to the Kankanaey and Bontok indigenous peoples in the Cordillera Region, Northern Philippines. The distance between the Cordillera and Davao del Norte is more than 1700 kilometres and is two major islands away.

“The murder charge appears to be absurd and out of this world. The Cordillera is in the north of the Philippines, while Davao del Norte is very far to the south,” says Murphy.

The Police circulated online and in public places the Wanted Poster announcing a reward of P100,000 (2,080 USD) for any information that could lead to his arrest. On January 19, 2021, Police Provincial Regional Office Cordillera Chief R’win Pagkalinawan released a ‘shoot to kill’ order for Mr Bolinget, qualifying it only with ‘if nanlaban’ (if he retaliated). ‘Nanlaban’ is the routine excuse for police shooting of alleged drug suspects and indicates that the target person ‘resisted’.

According to ICHRP, this bounty only encourages vigilantes and more violence, which further puts in danger the life of Bolinget. It also denied due process to the falsely accused Mr Bolinget.

The ICHRP Chairperson reminded Chief Pagkalinawan that his statement “is a pretext for the speedy extra-judicial killing of Mr Bolinget before evidence presented in a legal process could prove that the murder charge is false.”

The Independent International Commission of Investigation into Human Rights Violations in the Philippines or Investigate PH seek to look into cases of killings of those allegedly involved in drug trade/use and the persecution of human rights defenders and civil society organizations like that of Bolinget.

Investigate PH will be holding a global launch this week to introduce its commissioners who are leaders of government parliaments, international legal organisations and churches.

Lastly, the global rights group ICHRP stressed that Bolinget’s case is just one of many cases that demonstrate that the Philippine government claims to the international community that its domestic processes upholding human rights are blatantly fraudulent.





DPWH completes circumferential road in Barangay Basud, Calbayog City

Barangay Basud circumferential road

January 25, 2021

CALBAYOG CITY – The circumferential road built in Barangay Basud, Calbayog City is now completely passable to motorists and residents of the barangay, said DPWH-Samar First District Engineering Office. The projects have a total revised contract amount of more than P57 million drawn from the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2019.

The road before is somewhat dangerous because it was narrow and some parts are not yet cemented while other parts can be reached through a footpath. This area is hazardous and accident prone for passing motorists and residents as stated by Barangay Captain Bliselda Ortiz.

With this condition, a length of 520 meters was rehabilitated that includes a riprap of 430 meters. Another part includes a concreted road opening of 290 meters and a gravel road of 30 meters with a riprap of 340 meters along Salagan Creek. Cross drainages were also built to allow free flow of water since the area is a rice field and near a body of water.

Furthermore, another part of the road was rehabilitated which spans 923 meters and a riprap was also built with a length of 42.5 meters. This project also includes a drainage canal for both lanes that spans 236.8 meters and another two cross drainages to avoid water flooding on the main road.

Both road works have a width of six (6) meters and includes installation of solar lights.

Now that the roads are widened and solar lights are installed, the security of the residents and passing motorists are ensured. By strengthening connectivity, the circumferential road will allow for the smooth flow of motorists going to and from the city proper and facilitate socioeconomic progress among the community.





Former rebels, soldiers jointly finish livelihood training in Leyte

former rebels livelihood training

January 22, 2021

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan City – Fifteen former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Samar and Leyte are now job-ready as they completed a 27-day skills training conducted by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

The livelihood training the former rebels have completed is the Landscape Installation and Maintenance (Softscape) NC II.

Ten soldiers of the 8th Infantry Division also attended the same training as former rebels training partners to show unity and peaceful endeavor.

The graduation was held at the Villaconzoilo Farm School, Barangay Villaconzoilo, Jaro, Leyte on January 20, 2021.

TESDA Regional Director Gamaliel Vicente Jr. congratulated the graduates and hoped that more rebels would enroll for them to gain skills and later have jobs, which are beneficial for their families.

“TESDA is in full support to former rebels in providing livelihood training opportunities in pursuit of peace,” Dir. Vicente said.

Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla said the local government units are offering livelihood training to bring the government closer to the people and encourage rebels that some programs and services await them if only they return to the folds of the law. He added that skills training is a venue for more rebels to address poverty in their families and communities which is one of the socio-economic issues being used by the NPA to lure and recruit individuals in the region.

A former rebel, who introduced himself as Jade said that he is thankful for the government's intervention. He was not only given the chance to live peacefully with her family but was also given livelihood.

"Masayang-masayang ako dahil nabigyan ako ng scholarship sa TESDA sa pamamagitan po ng Task Force - ELCAC. Di ko pa po naranasang grumaduate dahil hanggang grade 1 lang po ako ngunit ngayon ay naka-graduate na at ganap nang landscaper," Jade said.

Among the graduates, Jade was ranked as top 3 and received awards as best in indoor gardening and best in dish gardening.

The 802nd Infantry Brigade Commander, Brigadier General Zosimo A. Oliveros who facilitated the surrender of some former rebels pledged to work and encourage more NPA surrenderers to sustain the gains of peace and development in the province.

Landscape Installation and Maintenance NC II





The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement celebrates the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Press Release
January 22, 2021

GENEVA – The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement welcomes the entry into force today of the first instrument of international humanitarian law to include provisions to help address the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of using and testing nuclear weapons.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) explicitly and unequivocally prohibits the use, threat of use, development, production, testing and stockpiling of nuclear weapons, and it obliges all States Parties to not assist, encourage or induce anyone in any way to engage in any activity prohibited by the Treaty.

“Today is a victory for humanity. This Treaty – the result of more than 75 years of work – sends a clear signal that nuclear weapons are unacceptable from a moral, humanitarian, and now a legal point of view. It sets in motion even higher legal barriers and an even greater stigmatization of nuclear warheads than already exists. It allows us to imagine a world free from these inhumane weapons as an achievable goal,” said Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders celebrate the entry into force of the TPNW and salute all 51 states whose backing of the Treaty makes clear their refusal to accept nuclear weapons as an inevitable part of the international security architecture. They invite other world leaders, including those of nuclear-armed states, to follow suit and join the path toward a world free of nuclear weapons, in line with long-standing international obligations, notably those under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Philippines has yet to become party to the treaty, although President Rodrigo Duterte, during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2020, said he has asked the Philippine Senate to ratify the TPNW, adding that “we were among those to sign it first.” The Philippines was among the 122 States that adopted the treaty in July 2017 and was one of the 50 States that signed the treaty when it opened on 20 September 2017.

In August 2020, on the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, the ICRC and the Philippine Red Cross issued a joint statement calling on the Philippines to join other States in ratifying the treaty and in protecting all humanity.

The TPNW is now before the Philippine Senate for discussion, following endorsement by its Committee on Foreign Relations last week.

Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said: “The entry into force of this instrument of international humanitarian law comes as a welcome and powerful reminder that despite current global tensions, we can overcome even our biggest and most entrenched challenges, in the true spirit of multilateralism. This capacity to effectively unite and coordinate our action should be called upon as we grapple with other global, deadly challenges.”

The Treaty obliges states to provide assistance, including medical care, rehabilitation and psychological support, to victims under their jurisdiction without discrimination, and ensure their socio-economic inclusion. It also requires states to clear areas contaminated by nuclear use or testing.

“The Treaty is a ground-breaking step to address the legacy of destruction caused by these weapons. The compelling evidence of the suffering and devastation caused by nuclear weapons, and the threat their use may pose to humanity’s survival, makes attempts to justify their use or mere existence increasingly indefensible. It is extremely doubtful that these weapons could ever be used in line with international humanitarian law,” Mr. Maurer said.

The Treaty enters into force as the world witnesses what happens when a public health system is overwhelmed by patients. The needs created by a nuclear detonation would render any meaningful health response impossible. No health system, no government, and no aid organization is capable of adequately responding to the health and other assistance needs that a nuclear blast would bring.

The adoption by nuclear-armed states of more aggressive nuclear weapons policies and the continued modernization of nuclear weapons all worryingly point towards an increasing risk of use of nuclear weapons. That’s why it is imperative that we act now to prevent a nuclear detonation from happening in the first place, by removing any use and testing of nuclear weapons from the realm of possibility.

States Parties, which will have their first meeting in the course of 2021, must now ensure that the Treaty's provisions are faithfully implemented and promote its adherence.

“The Treaty presents each of us with a really simple question: Do we want nuclear weapons to be banned or not? We are ready, together with our Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies, to intensify our efforts to achieve the broadest possible adherence to the Treaty and insist on its vision of collective security. The entry into force of the Nuclear Ban Treaty is the beginning, not the end, of our efforts,” Francesco Rocca said.





CARD Bank opens branch in Tabaco City

January 21, 2021

SAN PABLO CITY – In its bid to promote financial inclusion, CARD Bank, a microfinance-oriented rural bank, opened its 98th branch in Tabaco City, Albay on January 18, 2021.

The branch will cater to 29,626 microfinance clients who were originally part of Legazpi Branch. Having this new branch will bring bank services closer to clients of nine branch-lite units in the municipalities of Tabaco, Tiwi, Bacacay, Malilipot and Malinao. As well, these two branches will have better opportunities to expand.

This will fully reach more unbanked and underbanked families in the province. According to CARD Bank Regional Director Wilma Laurio, the branch is expected to deliver financial banking products and services to 31,000 clients by the end of the first quarter.

“These clients, who mostly came from the socioeconomically challenged families, will have equal opportunities to access affordable and useful financial products and services,” said CARD Bank President and CEO Marivic Austria. She added that financial inclusion is one of the solutions to break the endless cycle of poverty.

Aside from offering microfinance, SME and other loan products, CARD Bank also promotes a better saving habit for every client it serves. For as low as P100, its clients can now open their savings account. This will encourage them more to become conscious about saving for their future.

CARD Bank also has a remittance service called CARD Sulit Padala. Together with CARD, Inc., CARD SME Bank, and CARD MRI Rizal Bank, clients who need remittance services can send or transfer money in more than 900 branches nationwide. For as low as P1, senders can transfer money to their loved ones to meet their financial needs.

The new branch will also be part of CARD Bank’s digitization journey which is even more intensified because of the pandemic. “During the pandemic, the digital services of the bank showed a crucial role to constantly provide its services even with the presence of physical barriers. These digital efforts brought convenience and safety to our clients,” said Austria.

The branch is located at Purok 1, Brgy. Pawa, Tabaco City, Albay. The opening was graced by CARD Bank President Marivic Austria, CARD Bank Executive Vice President Lourdes Dijan, CARD Bank Vice President for Operations Glenda Magpantay, and CARD Bank Assistant Vice President Raquel Zaragoza. It was also attended by CARD Bank Chairman Dr. Jaime Aristotle B. Alip, CARD Bank Senior Advisers Dr. Dolores Torres and Lorenza Bañez, and CARD MRI Managing Director Flordeliza Sarmiento via online conference.

To date, CARD Bank has more than 3.4 million clients served all over the country.





EV closes 2020 with 2.4% inflation rate

By PSA-8
January 20, 2021

TACLOBAN CITY – Eastern Visayas closed 2020 with a 2.4 percent Inflation Rate (IR). This IR is 0.6 percentage point higher compared with the 1.8 percent IR a month ago. This is also 0.9 percentage point higher than the recorded 1.5 percent IR in the same period last year.

Eastern Visayas 2020 inflation rateThe regional IR is 1.1 percentage points lower than the 3.5 percent national average inflation rate in December 2020.

Samar, Northern Samar, Southern Leyte, and Leyte registered higher IRs in December 2020 compared with their figures in November 2020. Samar and Northern Samar recorded the increase in their IRs at 1.9 percentage points, pushing their IRs in December 2020 to 5.5 percent and 4.0 percent, respectively. Southern Leyte and Leyte’s IRs, meanwhile, rose to 3.2 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively. Both provinces recorded 0.6 percentage point increase from their figures in November 2020.

On the other hand, Biliran registered a 1.0 percentage point decrease in IR. It declined to 0.8 percent in December 2020 from 1.8 percent in November 2020. This is the lowest IR among the provinces during the month in review. Eastern Samar, meanwhile, eased down to 1.5 percent in December 2020 from 1.7 percent in November 2020.

Of the 11 commodity groups in the region, five (5) exhibited higher IRs in December 2020 compared with their rates in November 2020. Alcoholic beverages and tobacco commodity group registered the biggest increase of 2.9 percentage points, from 6.4 percent in November 2020 to 9.3 percent in December 2020. This acceleration may be traced to the double-digit IR (12.4%) registered in the index for tobacco.

The IR for food and non-alcoholic beverages commodity group increased by 1.4 percentage points, from 1.7 percent in November 2020 to 3.1 percent in December 2020. Higher IRs were noted in all items under this commodity group. Vegetables index registered the highest increase of 4.7 percentage points, posting a double-digit IR of 13.0 percent in December 2020 from 8.3 percent in November 2020.

Fish index recorded 2.9 percent IR in December 2020 from 0.6 percent deflation in November 2020. Corn index continued to register deflation but at slower rate of 0.4 percent during the reference month from 0.5 percent deflation in November 2020. The rest of the items under this commodity group recorded increases in IRs ranging from 0.1 percent to 2.2 percent.

Transport commodity group recorded 1.1 percentage points increase in its IR, from 3.9 percent in November 2020 to 5.0 percent in December 2020. The 3.1 percent deflation registered in the index for operation of personal transport equipment was offset by the higher IR (8.9%) posted in the index for transport services.

Compared with their November 2020 levels, the IRs for clothing and footwear commodity group (2.7%) and health commodity group (1.2%) were higher by 0.2 percentage point and 0.1 percentage point, respectively, in December 2020.

On the other hand, annual price change for housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels commodity group declined by 1.1 percentage points. The 0.5 percent IR in November 2020 dropped to 0.6 percent deflation in December 2020. This can be attributed to the significant decrease in the index for electricity, gas and other fuels to 2.8 percent deflation in December 2020, from 0.1 percent deflation in November 2020.

The deflation for communication commodity group eased down by 0.1 percentage point, settling at 1.6 percent during the month in review.

The commodity groups of restaurants and miscellaneous goods and services; furnishings, household equipment and routine maintenance of the house; and education retained their previous month’s IRs at 3.8 percent, 2.4 percent, and 0.4 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, recreation and culture commodity group retained its previous month’s deflation at 1.4 percent.

The Purchasing Power of Peso (PPP) of the region remained at P0.78 in December 2020. This PPP implies that the goods and services worth P78.00 in 2012 is worth P100.00 in December 2020.

Compared to their levels in November 2020, PPP in Samar (P0.71) weakened by P0.02 in December 2020. This is the lowest PPP among the provinces during the month in review. PPP in Leyte (P0.80), Southern Leyte (P0.79), Eastern Samar (P0.75), and Northern Samar (P0.72) weakened by P0.01 in December 2020. Biliran, meanwhile, retained its previous month’s PPP at P0.82 registering the strongest PPP among the provinces during the reference month.





Jerry Lutao alias Apple
Killed: Alias Apple, Secretary of FC 2, SRC Emporium, EVRPC.

Government troops repel CTG’s intents to sow havoc during Christmas time in Northern Samar

December 25, 2020

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan CIty – In a series of encounters this week, the government troops repelled Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) who were planning to sow chaos during the Christmas celebration in Northern Samar.

A high-ranking New People's Army (NPA) terrorist leader was killed while another wounded NPA was arrested during the five successive encounters. Several high and low-powered firearms, ammunition, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), claymore mine, and grenades were also seized.

The first encounter between the troops of the 43rd Infantry Battalion and a group of CNTs occurred in Barangay Happy Valley, San Isidro, in the morning of December 21, 2020.

The 30-minute gunfight resulted in the death of a certain Jerry Lutao, alias 'Apple', Secretary of Front Committee 2, Sub-Regional Committee (SRC) Emporium, Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee (EVRPC) whose body was left behind by the retreating comrades.

The troops also overran the CNT’s lair and successfully seized one M16, M4, M4KG, .38 revolver, magazines, two rifle grenades, a hand grenade, four IEDs, claymore mine, bomb triggering devices, backpacks, cellphones, generator sets, medical supplies, NPA flag, and subversive documents.

In the morning of December 22, 2020, while on pursuit operation, the troops of the 43rd IB encountered six CNTs at the vicinity of Barangay Happy Valley, San Isidro.

No casualty on the government side while an undetermined casualty on the enemy's side was reported during the 10-minute firefight.

Five hours after the morning encounter, troops of 43rd IB clashed with the same group of CNTs at the vicinity of Sitio Agsam, Barangay Happy Valley, San Isidro. Seized during the encounter were two shotguns, one caliber .38 revolver with ammunition, one magazine of .45 pistol loaded with 7 rounds of ammunition, cellphones, and backpacks.

The fourth encounter transpired at dawn of December 23, 2020, at the vicinity of Km 14, Barangay Happy Valley of the same town. One Communist NPA Terrorist (CNT) was wounded and troops immediately gave him first aid. He was identified as Jonas Dela Torre alias Jonel, 36, years old, Team Leader of Squad Uno, Front Committee 2. Troops were able to recover Dela Torres's AK47 rifle.

The last encounter happened hours before Christmas Eve when troops from 43rd IB engaged in a 15-minute gunfight with three CNTs still at Barangay Happy Valley, San Isidro, Northern Samar.

There were no reported casualties on the government side while there are heavy casualties on CNT’s side as indicated by bloodstains at enemy’s route of withdrawal.

Recovered at the encounter site were two M16 rifles, magazines, ammunition, and one improvised hand grenade. Troops are still on pursuit operation.

According to 43rdIB Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Raymundo C Picut Jr, all their military intelligence are closely monitoring the activities of the Communist Party of the Philippines New People's Army (CPP-NPA) this holiday season as it planned to really conduct atrocities in the Province.

"Maliban sa panggugulo ngayong kapaskuhan sa mga remote at vulnerable areas ay magsasagawa rin sila ng mga tactical offensives sa mga military detachments at police stations lalo na ngayong nalalapit na rin ang ika-52 anibersaryo ng CPP-NPA,” Picut said.

Because of the dwindling ranks of the NPA, 8th Infantry Division Commander Major General Pio Q Diñoso III said, it is unlikely for the Communist Terrorists to hold a large meeting during CPP's founding anniversary on December 26.

He assured the people of Eastern Visayas that troops will be guarding communities to ensure a meaningful and peaceful Christmas celebration.

"Bilib at hanga ako sa lakas at determinasyon ng ating mga tropa. Gamit ang ating makabagong technology, military assets kasama ang ating K9 team at mga pursigidong sundalo at sa tulong ng mga residente, hindi natin titigilan ang pagtugis sa mga teroristang NPA hanggang sa magapi natin sila. Maliban na lamang kung mapag-pasyahan na nilang sumuko para maibalik natin sila ng buhay sa kanilang mga pamilya." Major General Diñoso added.





NMP Year-End Performance Assessment
NMP’s 2-Day Year-End Performance Assessment (YEPA) held last December 7 & 9, 2020 at NMP Training Complex, Cabalawan, Tacloban City.

NMP bares 2020 accomplishments during YEPA

By National Maritime Polytechnic
December 23, 2020

TACLOBAN CITY – The National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP), the sole government maritime training and research center in the country conducted its 2020 Year-End Performance Assessment (YEPA) and 2021 Corporate Planning Exercise on 07 & 9 December 2020 at the NMP Complex, Tacloban City.

The Agency’s accomplishments as of 30 November 2020 were presented and assessed vis-à-vis its Thrusts and Priorities as well as performance commitments as contained in the 2020 Office Performance Commitment Review (OPCR), Annual Action Plan, and NMP Strategic Plan.

As to the conduct of maritime trainings, NMP was able to train a total of 5,405 seafarer- trainees as of 30 November 2020 representing an accomplishment of 113.55% from its reformulated annual target of 4,500. The trainees certificated comprised of aspiring and active seafarers, maritime instructors, assessors and supervisors and other allied personnel in the maritime industry.

All (100%) of the trainees were issued with certificate within seventy-two (72) hours from successful completion of all course requirements. Further, 100% (2,242 out of 2,242) of trainees-assessed who requested for Training Completion and Record Assessment (TCROA) were issued with TCROA after completion of the assessment.

This is a notable accomplishment considering that the Agency only resumed its conduct of training operations in July 2020 after its suspension on 16 March 2020 in line with the declaration of state of public health emergency in the Philippines due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Contributing significantly to the output performance were the conduct of Professional Development Courses (PDC) in NMP Manila with 256 certificates issued and the accreditation of ten (10) STCW courses, namely: Ratings Forming Part of a Navigational Watch (RFPNW); Medical First Aid (MEFA); Survival Craft and Rescue Boats other than Fast Rescue Boats (SCRB); Refresher Course on Survival Craft and Rescue Boats other than Fast Rescue Boats (RSCRB); Global Maritime Distress and Safety System Radio Operators (GMDSS RO); Ratings Forming Part of a Watch in a Manned Engine-room/designated to perform duties in a Periodically Unmanned Engine Room (RFPEW); Basic Training (BT); Refresher Course on Basic Training (RBT); Advanced Fire Fighting (AFF); and Refresher Course on Advanced Fire Fighting (RAFF).

Ingrained to serve despite of the health crisis, NMP also transitioned to "new and better normal" by offering in August 2020, FREE online courses on: STD/HIV/AIDS Prevention in the Maritime Sector (SHAPIMS); Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in the Maritime Sector (PADAMS); and Gender Sensitivity Training for Seafarers (GSTS). A pilot-class on Oily Water Separator (OWS) Course and Updating Training on Basic Safety (BTU) using blended learning were also held last 10 & 17 October 2020, respectively.

Likewise, as part of the Agency’s thrust in keeping its training services abreast and receptive to the varying demands of the maritime industry, one (1) maritime training course was developed and approved by the NMP Board of Trustees last 25 November 2020, namely: Vessel Crane Operator Course.

The imposition of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in the different parts of the country affected the Agency’s major activities including those under its Maritime Research Program. The dissemination of the CY 2019 completed researches through the conduct of Stakeholders’ Fora in Manila and Davao in April 2020 and the data gathering activities in March and April 2020 for the four (4) researches targeted for completion within the year were cancelled.

With NMP’s request for the reformulation of its targets having been granted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), its target for the conduct of researches was reduced from four (4) to two (2) researches completed and two (2) research proposals developed. As of November 2020, three (3) researches are on near completion stages, the research entitled “An Examination of the Online Learning Readiness of Filipino Seafarers” is 80% accomplished, the study on “Managing the Threats of a Pandemic: Response of the Philippine Maritime Industry to COVID-19” is 72% accomplished while the research titled “An Assessment on the NMP's Capability to Conduct Online Training” is 75% accomplished.

On research proposals developed, the proposal on “Managing the Threats of a Pandemic: Response of the Philippine Maritime Industry to COVID-19” was completed while the proposal on “Issues and Concerns on the Philippines’ Non-Ratification of STCW-F” is 80% accomplished.

Meanwhile, the cancellation of the Research Fora in April 2020 has led to the enhancement of the NMP e-Research Portal to facilitate the research dissemination and validation processes. The portal may also serve as a discussion forum for the development of the NMP Three-year Research Agenda (CY 2021-2023) where the involvement of the stakeholders is the foremost priority.

Also, complementing the efforts of providing quality maritime training and the conduct of relevant researches were the implementation of administrative and support programs that significantly contributed to the NMP’s sustained productivity.

On two (2) Information Systems (IS) targeted to be developed by year-end, the Document Tracking System was completed in June 2020 while the Work Queue Information System has a 95% cumulative accomplishment.

In terms of infrastructure projects, Repainting of Maritime Training Building (Phase 2) was completed in July 2020 and Repair of Staff House No. 4 and Renovation/Improvement of Learning Resource Center (LRC) were accomplished in August 2020.

Similarly, repair / improvement of NMP buildings, structures and facilities damaged by Typhoon Ursula on 24 December 2019 were also undertaken and 100% accomplished, namely: Repair/ replacement of Damaged Existing Perimeter Fence; Fabrication/ Installation of Double Wall Folding wood Partition @ Maritime Training Annex Building and Provision of Rain Water Catcher; Repair/ Replacement of Glass Partition at Registrar’s Office Waiting Area; Repair/ Improvement of Existing Concrete Seawall and Repair/ Replacement of Existing Damaged Roofing @ DED Staff House, School Buildings, Officer’s and Rating’s Dormitory. Said projects were funded from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) insurance proceeds received after the destruction brought by the Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

Moreover, the Agency has successfully passed the surveillance audit of NMP Quality Management System (QMS) conducted by the SOCOTEC Certification Philippines Inc. on 05 March 2020 and was recommended for continued certification under ISO 9001:2015 Standard.

On top of these accomplishments, however, NMP Executive Director Joel B. Maglunsod still pushed for the completion of other deliverables that have yet to be completed for 2020.

Further, NMP continues to conduct face-to-face trainings to those residents of Region VIII with strict implementation of the Maritime Industry Authority’s (MARINA) approved Post-Enhanced Community Quarantine Operational Plan and other health and safety protocols as required by the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and local government unit (LGU) of Tacloban.

Filipino seafarers who are interested to avail of the NMP’s FREE online classes on SHAPIMS, PADAMS, and GSTS may register through this link: https://nmp.gov.ph/online-course-offerings/.

Interested stakeholders who wish to validate the authenticity of their seafarers-employed with NMP issued certificates may visit www.verify.nmp.gov.ph. Likewise, those interested in NMP research undertakings may visit the NMP website and access the e-Research Information System Portal which is designed to disseminate NMP completed researches, present the Research Agenda, and engage the industry stakeholders to collaborate in the research activities.

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





DAR holiday sharing
More than 60 children in Barangay Banawang, Tunga, Leyte receive toys and goodies from employees of Department of Agrarian Reform Regional Office 8 on December 16, 2020.

DAR continues its tradition of sharing this holiday season

December 22, 2020

TUNGA, Leyte – Some 40 households in a remote village in this town will somehow celebrate with joy on Christmas eve as they received a bag of “pang-noche buena” items from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

With the help of barangay officials and teachers in the area, personnel of the Support to Operations Division of the DAR Regional Office-8, headed by Regional Chief Admin Officer, Ma. Fe Castro, distributed on Wednesday, December 16, bags of “pang-noche buena” items in Barangay Banawang, a village six kilometers away from the national highway, which crosses a river and a mountain.

Aside from the excited housewives who received the said items, some 60 children in the area also received goodies and toys for them to feel the spirit of Christmas.

But before distributing the Christmas presents, the DAR employees instill to the residents in the area, both adults and children, the importance of social distancing and wearing of face masks to contain the spread of the dreaded coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), thus facemasks were likewise provided to those who were not wearing it.

A day before, the Legal Division of the same office, headed by Legal Chief, Atty. Christopher Ryan Rosal, opted to distribute food packs to 40 children living at the Tacloban City by-pass road.

Yesterday, the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Development and Sustainability Program (ARBDSP) Division, headed by ARBDSP chief, Melecia Ong, chose the 39 persons deprived of liberty (PDL) at the Tacloban City Jail’s Women’s Dorm as beneficiaries of hygiene kits.

Meanwhile, the Land Tenure Service (LTS) Division, headed by LTS Chief, Francis Diloy, distributed food packs and goodies today to children living in Barangay 74 also in Tacloban City.

Regional Director Ismael Aya-ay said, DAR-8 will continue its tradition of sharing something out of personal generosity especially to the less fortunate this season of giving with or without pandemic.





IFC and CARD MRI partner to help Filipina entrepreneurs weather COVID-19

Filipina entrepreneurs

Press Release
December 22, 2020

MANILA – Women entrepreneurs in the Philippines stand to benefit from new loans issued to two of the country's largest microfinance institutions, which will help keep businesses afloat and save jobs as the Philippines grapples with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, plans to issue up to 750 million Philippine pesos ($15 million) in debt financing to CARD Bank Inc. and CARD SME Bank Inc. which are part of the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development – Mutually Reinforcing Institutions Group (CARD MRI).

The investment aims to benefit over 60,000 companies, 44,000 of which are micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) owned or led by women. The banks have more than 120 branches and serve four million customers. Support from the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) in the form of performance-based incentives will help the banks reach pre-defined targets for lending to women-owned/led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

"Filipino women entrepreneurs are fighting to recover from the grave effects of the pandemic, and we are right behind them every step of the way" said Dr. Jaime Aristotle B. Alip, Founder and Chairman Emeritus of CARD MRI. "We believe that a poverty-free Philippines can be achieved by empowering these women to reach their full potential. Through this partnership with IFC, we can reach more women-owned and led MSMEs and help them continue their journey towards a better future."

The funding will provide critical working capital to MSMEs, which have been especially disadvantaged by the pandemic due to the lack of funding buffers and capacity to restart operations during strict quarantine periods. MSMEs account for 99.5 percent of businesses in the Philippines. More than half of those businesses are led by women, and the largest share of companies operate in wholesale and retail, which have been particularly impacted by COVID-19.

The financing package is part of IFC's $8 billion global COVID-19 fast-track financing facility, aimed at helping businesses stay afloat during the ongoing public health crisis. The loans are being provided through IFC's Working Capital Solutions Program, a $2 billion facility that provides funding to emerging-market banks to extend credit to help businesses shore up their working capital.

"We are delighted to continue our long-standing relationship with Dr. Alip and the CARD MRI Group," said Rosy Khanna, Regional Industry Director for Financial Institutions Asia Pacific at IFC. "The success of women-owned businesses in the Philippines is critical to the success of the overall economy. Our investment will help provide much-needed working capital at a crucial time for micro, small and medium sized businesses, helping them to sustain operations and save jobs so they are on a better footing for a successful post-crisis recovery."

The transaction is IFC's first investment in the Philippines as part of its Banking on Women business, which provides financing and expertise to financial institutions to help them profitably finance women-owned businesses. Women customers present a substantial growth opportunity for financial institutions and financial-technology companies, known as fintechs. Women own and lead roughly 9.7 million formal SMEs and 63.8 million micro-businesses in emerging markets, with a total estimated unmet credit demand of $1.5 trillion.

The transaction builds on a relationship between IFC and CARD MRI that began in 2007, when IFC helped CARD MRI develop an SME lending platform. Since then, the two institutions have worked together on a series of initiatives, including agrifinance, digital risk management and the Binhi Crop Insurance Program, which protects farmers from the adverse effects of natural disasters.

CARD MRI aims to empower socially and economically challenged women and families by providing access to financial, educational, social and health services. The group has 6.9 million clients and insures over 25 million people in the Philippines.

About We-Fi
The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) is a collaborative partnership among the 14 governments that have made financial contributions, six multilateral development banks that serve as implementing partners, and other public and private stakeholders. We-Fi was formally established in October 2017 as a Financial Intermediary Fund hosted by the World Bank. We-Fi invests in programs and projects that help unlock billions of dollars in financing to address the full range of barriers facing women entrepreneurs—increasing access to finance, markets, technology, and mentoring, while strengthening policy, legal and regulatory frameworks. As one of the We-Fi Implementing Partners, IFC supports private sector clients with investment and advisory services to expand financial services and market access for women-owned/led firms, as well as increasing the capacity of women entrepreneurs to run high-growth businesses. For more information, visit www.we-fi.org.

About IFC
IFC – a member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2020, we invested $22 billion in private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI) is a group of institutions with a holistic approach to development. Established in 1986, CARD MRI has continuously provided socio-economically challenged families with access to financial, microinsurance, education, livelihood, health and other capacity-building services. CARD Bank and CARD SME Bank are both member-institutions of CARD MRI with clients served of 3.3M and 1M individuals, respectively.





Violence Against Women

Labor unions call for the protection of those vulnerable to violence

Convention 190

By Associated Labor Unions
December 20, 2020

QUEZON CITY – The Associated Labor Unions (ALU) and global unions Building and Wood Workers International (BWI), and IndustriALL, are calling for the protection of workers and other persons in situations of vulnerability from gender-based violence perpetuated or condoned by individuals, institutions and the State, especially in the midst of pandemic Christmas season.

ALU National Executive Vice President Gerard Seno urged the government, employers, and communities to tighten their measures to address violence and harassment against frontliners, jobseekers and applicants, those in contractual arrangement, probationary period, night work, domestic work, women with disabilities, and in poverty.

On December 20, on the occasion of the anniversary of the 1993 adoption of the United Nations’ Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, ALU National Vice President and Women’s Committee Chair Eva Arcos continued to value its pioneering explicitness from which governments are obligated to act and from which many national and international instruments and programs addressing gender-based violence were built.

Arcos, however said that, 27 years and ILO Convention 190 on Violence and Harassment (2019) after, the Philippines has gotten worse in terms of bridging the gap between law and practice, and in delivering justice to victims who died or survived from gender-based violence, and in protecting witnesses, whistleblowers and defenders.

Arcos reminds full compliance to existing women-specific laws and international instruments which the Philippines signed or ratified. Swift actions are needed for victims of gender-based violence to include right to remove themselves from an unsafe work situation, protection from retaliation, 10-day paid leave, employment facilitation, access to financial assistance or low-interest credit facility, equal access to justice mechanism, free legal assistance, establishment of more shelters in the country, and counseling services.

Seno pressed for the necessity of having gender-sensitive public officials and officers of the law, of enforcing penalties, and complying with the mandatory psychological counseling or psychiatric treatment for offenders.

Health and safety risk, flexible work arrangements, joblessness, reduced income, work from home, home-schooling, childcare, difficulties in reporting and limited access to essential services are aggravating circumstances to cases of violence and harassment that jeopardize not only women’s health and safety, but also their capability to access, remain, and advance in the labor market.

The labor unions pointed out that aside from the need to update and publicly circulate database on gender-based violence and harassment, the government, in consultations with stakeholders, should conduct regular research on the effectiveness of measures being undertaken to prevent and redress violence against women.

The labor unions have been campaigning for the Philippine government’s ratification of Convention 190.

*The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993. It covers physical, sexual and psychological violence as well as violence both at home and elsewhere in society.

*Convention 190 – Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No.190) recognizes the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment and acknowledges that violence and harassment also affects the quality of public and private services, and may prevent persons, particularly women, from accessing, and remaining and advancing in the labor market.





Lingap ng REAP project
From right, DPWH-Biliran District Engineering Office represented by Chief of Administrative Section Mr. Bern L. Calomadre and Assistant District Engineer Alfredo L. Bollido on behalf of District Engineer David P. Adongay Jr. turn-over donated tablet, bond papers and printers with ink to Naval National High School (NNHS) represented by Ms. Rachelle C. Dado, Principal I, Ms. Elaine Joy Mejia, Head Teacher I, and Mr. Patricio P. Laurito Jr., Head Teacher III on December 16, 2020 at NNHS, Brgy. Larrazabal, Naval, Biliran.

DPWH-Biliran DEO turns-over donated printers, tablets and other supplies

By DPWH-Biliran
December 18, 2020

NAVAL, Biliran – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)- Biliran District Engineering Office (DEO) turns-over printers, tablets and other supplies donated by the Road Engineering Association of the Philippines (REAP) Inc. thru “Lingap ng REAP” project to selected schools and deserving students in the Municipality of Naval on December 16, 2020 at Naval National High School, Brgy. Larrazabal, Naval, Biliran.

Assistant District Engineer (ADE) Alfredo L. Bollido together with Mr. Bern L. Calomadre, Chief of Administrative Section led the turn-over on behalf of District Engineer David P. Adongay Jr.

According to ADE Bollido, DPWH in coordination with the Department of Education (DepEd) identified six schools and 10 deserving students to be the recipient of the tablets, printers with ink and reams of bond papers for use in the new normal set-up of learning under the threat of COVID-19 pandemic.

Recipient schools are Naval National High School with two units of printers having plenty of enrollees and one unit each for Naval Central School SPED Center, Lucsoon National High School, Larrazabal Elementary School, Cornelio P. Limpiado Elementary School and Fidel M. Limpiado National High School, Higatangan Island, all in the town of Naval.

Meanwhile, 10 poor but deserving students of Naval National High School (NNHS) received one tablet each that they can use for the blended learning.

Ms. Rachelle C. Dado, Principal I of NNHS expressed her gratitude in behalf of the school to the DPWH and REAP for donating the said equipment and supplies.

“This is really helpful for the learners in researching topics in their Learning Activity Sheets (LAS) especially that we are in this pandemic and of course a great help for the teachers for printing the LAS and other reports,” said Ms. Dado.

The “Lingap ng REAP” project – Sharing tablets for on-line learning in coordination with the Department of Education aims to help the students in adapting to the new blended educational system under COVID-19 and live to reap their efforts to success beyond the pandemic.

REAP Inc. 2019-2021 REAP National Director is headed by President and DPWH Undersecretary Maria Catalina E. Cabral with REAP Region VIII Chapter President, OIC-ARD Gerald A. Pacanan, now assigned in DPWH Region V.





Int’l Commission assembled to investigate Duterte’s crimes against humanity

Investigate PH

All eyes on the Philippines now as independent global probe happens

Press Release
December 17, 2020

MANILA – After the recent pronouncement of the International Criminal Court (ICC), prominent members of the international community declared on Thursday that there is an independent investigation ongoing in the Philippines called Investigate PH.

The ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said last Tuesday that there is "reasonable basis" to believe that crimes against humanity were committed by President Rodrigo Duterte, specifically the thousands killed in his war on drugs.

In a virtual press conference, the Independent International Commission of Investigation into Human Rights Violations in the Philippines or INVESTIGATE PH was publicly announced.

“We are here to announce that an independent people-led probe is happening in the Philippines. This is most definitely a global issue. The world community has a responsibility to speak up and seek the truth” says Former Australian Senator Lee Rhiannon also a member of the INVESTIGATE PH High Level Commission.

The former Australian senator further emphasized that: “We must not allow the call for human rights be hijacked. Accountability must be a part of the justice and democratic system.”

Also speaking live in the media event were its leading High Level Commissioners namely: Rev. Michael Blair, General Secretary of the United Church of Canada; Atty. Jeanne Mirer, President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers; Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe - General Secretary, General Board of Church & Society, the United Methodist Church; and Rev. Dr. Chris Ferguson, General Secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches.

According to INVESTIGATE PH, this global endeavor is an independent international investigation of the human rights situation in the Philippines. It is an initiative of global organisations, religious, legal, trade union and political leaders, and civil society.

“We will submit the final report of the findings to the International Criminal Court and other relevant UN bodies such as the UN Human Rights Council, UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly Special Session,” says Atty. Jeanne Mirer, Investigate Ph High Level Commissioner.

The independent investigations are scheduled to happen through a hybrid of virtual and physical fact findings. This aims to further substantiate the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights June 2020 report.

A final report of the findings will be submitted to the Enhanced Interactive Dialogues and General Debates of the UN Human Rights Council 48th Session in September 2021, when the High Commissioner will update on the implementation of the Human Rights Council Resolution 45/L.38 that shall provide technical assistance and capacity-building to the Government of the Philippines for the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.

INVESTIGATE PH also intends to join in preceding UNHRC sessions, including the 46th Session in February to March 2021 and the 47th Session in June-July 2021 to share about the on-going investigation and the preliminary findings.

“That is what brings us together today. What is happening in the Philippines amounts to crimes against humanity. These crimes must be investigated. The human rights cases must be investigated and the perpetrators be made accountable,” Former Senator Lee Rhiannon ends.





CARD SME Bank inaugurates 36th branch in General Santos City

Press Release
December 17, 2020

SAN PABLO CITY – CARD SME Bank opens its 36th branch on December 7, 2020, to cater to the financial needs of more MSMEs in Brgy. Lagao, General Santos City. The Lagao Branch, located at Sestina Building, Lucio Velayo Sr. Road, Brgy. Lagao, General Santos City, is officially the 6th CARD SME Bank branch in Mindanao and one of the two (2) branches in the city.

CARD SME Bank President and CEO Aristeo A. Dequito is positive that the products and services of the bank will ignite hope despite the challenges of 2020. “We want to end 2020 reaching more entrepreneurs and helping them recover from the adverse impact of the pandemic,” says Dequito.

While the first branch in General Santos City already caters to more than 25,000 clients, Lagao Branch “will be the home of thousands of MSMEs in the area,” says Dequito. He continues, “We assure that this expansion will provide easier transactions for our clients with us.”

As the quarantine protocols ease, Dequito also shares how the bank braves the pandemic to constantly provide financial access to the unbanked and underbanked families.

“The branch strictly follows the safety guidelines and protocols to ensure the safety of our clients and staff,” he adds. Like all its branches nationwide, CARD SME Bank Lagao Branch is equipped with plexiglass dividers and hand sanitizer dispensers, while strictly following government mandated health protocols like social distancing and wearing of face mask.

Digital Banking

Dequito also shares how the pandemic led the institution to accelerate its digitalization to advance its banking system. “Throughout the decade, we have been investing in our digital transformation, but with the current situation, our banking technological solutions need more urgency to provide our clients the safety and convenience they need amid the pandemic.”

With digital banking, clients can now experience hassle-free banking transactions anytime and anywhere using their mobile phones through konek2CARD, a mobile banking application, offered free to all account holders of CARD SME Bank. “With our continuous journey to digital transformation, we will advance more of its capabilities.”

Dequito continues, “We at CARD SME Bank, together with the other institutions under CARD MRI, are in full swing to continue our mission in improving the lives of the socioeconomically challenged families in the country.”

CARD SME Bank is expecting to initially serve more than 7,000 clients from five (5) branch lite units.

The grand opening of CARD SME Bank Lagao branch was personally attended by several CARD MRI clients and staff, representatives from local government units, and other members of the community. Virtually present via Zoom conference were CARD MRI Executive Committee Members, including CARD MRI Founder and Chairman Emeritus Dr. Jaime Aristotle Alip and Managing Director Flordeliza Sarmiento.

As of October 2020, CARD SME Bank has already served more than 1 million clients, has disbursed more than P7 billion loans, and has a total asset of P8 billion.





DPWH completes P1.9M footbridge project in Caibiran town

Caibiran footbridge

By DPWH Biliran
December 16, 2020

NAVAL, Biliran – Accessing basic essential services is now easier for the residents in Sitio Guindulangan, Victory village in Caibiran town with the completion of the P1.9M footbridge project from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-Biliran District Engineering Office (DEO).

District Engineer David P. Adongay Jr., said that the footbridge project links Sitio Guindulangan to Sitio Katipunan, Victory village to the town proper of Caibiran and to other neighboring villages.

The said project covers the construction of a 14-meter length footbridge with a height of 4-meter from the river bed and a concreting of an 8-meter footbridge approaches on both sides.

Prior to the implementation of the project, residents of Sitio Guindulangan are crossing the river through a log bridge from an unused electrical post supported only by bamboo poles for its foundation.

Adongay revealed that the situation of the old bridge limits the residents’ capacity to access the very basic services they need especially during high tide.

“Because of the poor condition of the old bridge, crossing the bridge also poses danger to the passers especially to the children, pregnant women and senior citizens,” Adongay said.

“With the completion of the footbridge project, residents of Sitio Guindulangan can now enjoy a safer and faster access to the basic essential establishments of the town such as schools, health facilities, and other government and non-government services,” Adongay said.

Moreover, transport of goods and farm products will now be much easier since the footbridge is now accessible by motorcycles.

From its start date on October 15, 2020, the said project was completed on November 25, 2020, ahead of its target completion date which is on January 02, 2021.





DTI launches National Trade Fair Digital Mall

By DTI-TPG-Bureau of Domestic Trade Promotion
December 15, 2020

MAKATI CITY – In lieu of the usual National Trade Fair (NTF) organized annually, the Department of Trade and Industry - Bureau of Domestic Trade Promotion (DTI-BDTP) is launching the NTF Digital Mall. This is in response to the unprecedented challenges faced by micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has adversely impacted their operations.

National Trade Fair Digital MallTo help MSMEs future-proof their businesses as they pivot to online selling, the NTF Digital Mall is a platform that offers continuous promotion of the food and non-food products from the different regions, amid the physical restrictions of the pandemic. A project of the DTI-BDTP in collaboration with the DTI-Regional and Provincial Offices, the NTF Digital Mall is an e-commerce platform inside the UB GlobalLinker site.

Formally opened on December 15, the NTF Digital Mall, like all national trade fairs, showcases the best products of 223 MSMEs from all parts of the country. Featured products include processed food and beverages, gifts and souvenirs, houseware and decor, fashion accessories, wearables, as well as health and fitness products.

For a more convenient online shopping experience, the NTF Digital Mall features a product catalog with a facility to search for a specific product or product category. For easier transactions, buyers can connect with the MSMEs via the Viber app for secure instant messaging. Visitors will also have access to DTI webinars, and can read about the participating exhibitors' inspirational success stories.

Digital Mall Features for MSMEs

The NTF Digital Mall is hosted on UnionBank GlobalLinker, a free and innovative platform that helps MSMEs grow online with tools for efficient business management and network expansion. It is distinct from other e-commerce platforms as it is an all-in-one accessible platform that enables MSMEs to connect to both local and global B2B and B2C partners, suppliers, and customers. It has networking capabilities to help MSMEs grow and manage their business. It offers immediate access to financial service providers, point of sale, accounting, inventory, human resources, tax and payroll services, supply chain management, and B2B and B2C marketplaces.

Some of the business features offered on the NTF Digital Mall that MSMEs can readily use are:

• Linker.Store - Connect the MSME’s business to the world by launching their do-it-yourself E-commerce store for free with its inventory management and data analysis tools.

• Network – Search for and manage a global network of potential suppliers, partners, and customers, not just in the Philippines, but also in other parts of Southeast Asia.

• Biz offers - Have access to business tools that will help MSMEs manage their business, share files, and track important events more efficiently.

• Secure multi-device access via desktop, mobile or tablet.

• Apply online for business loans, deposit products, and credit cards without the hassle.

• Biz Forum - Get tips and inspiration from successful entrepreneurs. A place for discussing new business ideas, topics and useful articles within a vibrant business community.

To visit the site, simply log in to https://ntfdigimall.linker.store/

For more information about the DTI-Bureau of Domestic Trade Promotion, please follow their social media accounts @BDTP on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You may also email bdtp@dti.gov.ph.





DELIVER-e will be “game-changing” for farmers and consumers - DTI chief


By DTI-OSEC-Office of Digital Philippines
December 13, 2020

MANILA – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) – together with the Department of Agriculture (DA), private sector partners, farmer cooperatives, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – is officially launching DELIVER-e on December 14, 2020 alongside a multi-stakeholder commitment pledge signing to upscale agriculture value chain and improve overall food security in the country even beyond the COVID-19 crisis.

“This initiative is all about bringing farm produce closer to consumers and cutting layers of traders. Through technology and innovation, it will be game-changing not only for our farmers but also for our consumers,” DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

He added: “This is part of our strong partnership with Agriculture Secretary William Dar as we jointly work on solutions to increasing farmers’ income, providing better supply chain in agriculture and its link to industry processors or direct to marketplace, and delivering fresher products for consumers.”

DELIVER-e is a digital platform that connects farmers to buyers through an efficient and transparent end-to-end market-based system. It operates through a sophisticated blockchain technology developed by a Filipino tech startup, Insight Supply Chain Solutions (InsightSCS), that integrates related e-commerce and logistics application services from consolidation point to central warehousing facility, and then to last-mile delivery services to reach end-clients.

As the lead agency for the Inter-agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) sub-taskforce on food value chain and logistics, DTI brought together public and private partners, as well as development partners like the USAID, to design and implement strategies addressing the looming threat on food security and widened gap in agriculture value chain.

“Our main goal is to increase production and ensure supply stability for basic necessities and prime commodities through new business models,” Sec. Lopez said.

The immediate collaborative planning, consultation, and benchmarking activities of the DTI, DA, private sector partner Supply Chain Management Association of the Philippines (SCMAP), logistics technology experts, farmer groups, and the USAID DELIVER-Project paved the way for the development and initial launch of DELIVER-e in early April 2020.

Since April, this innovative platform has mobilized over 260 tons of fresh fruits and vegetables and recorded more than P7.15 million worth of transactions. Additionally, it has helped around 600 farmers in Luzon and some provinces in Mindanao by doubling their income from their harvests and reducing wastage from 50 percent down to only 5 percent.

Even beyond the pandemic situation, DELIVER-e’s technology is deemed as one of the key sustainable solutions to improve the Philippines’ agriculture value chain, making the country more food-secure while improving the lives of every Filipino farmer.

With the intent of further developing DELIVER-e and its database modules, DTI – together with its collaborators from the National Government, private sector, farmer groups, and the USAID – will undertake a ceremonial commitment pledge signing during the “DELIVER-e Goes Live” official launch event on 14 December 2020 to solidify greater collaboration and cooperation efforts.

As the platform onboards more players in the agriculture value chain, DELIVER-e will soon be able to build an elaborate supply-and-demand dashboard system that will be useful in providing insightful data for the Philippine Government’s evidence-based decision-making process in relevant sectors and issues as the country moves towards building back better.

“Instead of adjusting to the New Normal, let us try to create a Better Normal where all Filipinos can enjoy the fruits of our country’s inclusive growth and shared prosperity for all,” DTI Sec. Lopez underscored.

In October 2019, DTI and DA also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) reinforcing strong collaboration and implementation of the Agribusiness Support for Promotion and Investment in Regional Expositions (ASPIRE) between the government and the private sector.

Through DELIVER-e, the public and private sectors will be able to realize ASPIRE’s ultimate vision of creating businesses and jobs to the rural community by linking farmers directly to the market.





Unwrapping the sweet success story of a mother turned entrepreneur from Occidental Mindoro

By DTI-Regional Operations Group
December 11, 2020

MAKATI CITY – While motherhood and running a business might be a ‘tight-rope walk’, Jerlie Daseco, owner of Triple P Food Products from the Municipality of Paluan in Occidental Mindoro, embraces both her vital roles.

Triple P Food ProductsTriple P Food Products’ flagship product is pastillas. A sweet milk-based confection made with carabao’s milk, pastillas is a popular pasalubong in the municipality of Paluan, as it is in any part of the country. The enterprise offers a variety of pastillas flavors, from purple yam (ube), jackfruit (langka), cheese, pandan, coconut, and chili, showing the diverse taste palette of Filipinos.

Occidental Mindoro is also home to cashew, expanding her product line to roasted and fried cashew nuts. More of Triple P’s products include, sampaloc candies, papaya relish (atsara), and honey.

With an initial capital of P1,500.00 just enough to produce and sell pastillas in their small community, backed by the owner’s passion to help her family, and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) MIMAROPA’s support, the enterprise grew remarkably. From a monthly gross sale of P12,000.00, Triple P Food Products hit P200,000.00 to P300,000.00 gross sale per month. Furthermore, the enterprise was able to employ two full-time employees and 6 part-time employees.

Since DTI MIMAROPA’s interventions, Triple P Food Products has attended several free business development trainings and seminars, product packaging and label designs assistance through the Regional Integrated Product Development Assistance Project (RIPDA) under the One Town One Product (OTOP) Program, laboratory analysis support, and participation to numerous municipal, regional, and national trade fairs. Ms. Daseco is also a member of the Paluan Food Processors Association (PAFPA), cooperator of Milk Processing Shared Service Facility, and a beneficiary of the Livelihood Seeding Program – Negosyo Serbisyo sa Barangay (LSP-NSB), among others.

Triple P Food Products takes pride in helping their community, especially the indigenous peoples (IPs) and farmers, by buying their produce at fair prices.

DTI’s interventions helped Jerlie Daseco to reach out to more aspiring and existing Mompreneurs, having hired as one of the trainers of the Department on pastillas and cashew nut processing in the province. This stay-at-home mom turned entrepreneur is a perfect example of how one can ripple change to the community through entrepreneurship.

Triple P Food Products has also tapped the online market, enrolling their products to several digital platforms, as assisted by DTI. They supply their products to different stores in Occidental Mindoro and nearby provinces in the region. Likewise, their product distribution has extended to Manila, Batangas, and Tarlac, through retailers and distributors.

Interested buyers and distributors may reach them via their official Facebook page: Triple P Food Products -Apong. For more information on local products and produce proudly made from MIMAROPA, visit the nearest DTI Provincial Office or Negosyo Center.





Castriciones signs AO giving land to agriculture graduates

DAR Secretary Brother John Castriciones

December 10, 2020

TACLOBAN CITY – Agriculture graduates can now avail of farmland under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) where they can apply their knowledge on farming as Agrarian Reform Secretary Brother John Castriciones signed Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Administrative Order No. 03, series of 2020.

During the Radyo Agraryo program aired on Monday (December 7) over Radyo Veritas, Castriciones announced that he had already signed the said law that would allow agriculture graduates to become agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) of CARP’s Land Transfer Program.

The new law will take effect 10 days after it has been published in the newspaper of general circulation.

To qualify, DAR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs, Luis Meinrado Pañgulayan, explained that aside from being a graduate of a four-year agriculture-related course, the applicant must be landless; living within the municipality where the land to be awarded is situated; has the aptitude to make the land productive; and not an applicant of any other DAR’s land transfer programs.

He emphasized that an applicant need not be a fresh graduate.

Once this new law takes effect, Pañgulayan said, interested applicants can file letter of intent at the Municipal Agrarian Reform Office (MARO) in their area, and fill out the forms that will be provided to them.

A certification from the school registrar, where they completed their studies, attesting that the applicant is truly a graduate of an agriculture-related course must also be submitted, Pañgulayan added.

Two weeks ago, Castriciones shared when he distributed Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) in Alangalang, Leyte, that his agency is preparing an administrative order that would grant graduates of agriculture-related courses a maximum of three-hectare farm lot under CARP for their laboratory.

With the signing of the new administrative order, Castriciones calls on parents to encourage their children to take agriculture-related courses to boost the country’s agriculture sector.

He reported that per inventory, there are approximately 230,000 hectares of government-owned lands (GOL) that may be involved all over the country.





NCCP on Human Rights Day: Stand for Justice, Stand for Human Rights

Press Release
December 10, 2020

QUEZON CITY – On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines joined the multisectoral actions commemorating the 72nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “This year’s commemoration of International Human Rights Day is a reminder that as Christians we must actively take part in defending human dignity especially at a time when wanton disregard for human rights and the rule of law seems to be a state policy,” said Bishop Reuel Norman O. Marigza, the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP).

“To remain silent runs counter to what our faith and conscience demand – to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8)” Bishop Marigza added.

The NCCP has always been vocal in its defense of human rights especially in the midst of the pandemic where spiraling deeper crises plague the country, and have pushed many of the vulnerable sectors to the fringes of society as toxic lockdowns were implemented. NCCP avers that the government’s militaristic response to the pandemic only brought devastating effects to the lives of the Filipino people.

The Council and its member churches also experienced intensifying vilification and red-tagging. Aside from NCCP, repeatedly mentioned in the recent presentations made by NTF-ELCAC Executive Director Allen Apuyan were Iglesia Filipina Independiente, United Church of Christ in the Philippines, United Methodist Church and Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches. Last December 8, the image of IFI Obispo Maximo Rhee Timbang was also included in malicious flyers distributed around Cagayan De Oro tagging him as a “communist terrorist”.

“Red tagging is real, but despite these attacks, we will continue to defend human rights. Denouncing evils in our society and proclaiming and asserting Jesus’ promise of abundant life for all remains to be our fundamental task.” Bishop Marigza averred.

“The defense of human rights is at the very core of our faith because of our belief in the sanctity of life and the need to protect human dignity that God bestowed on each of us. Just as Jesus triumphed over death in order to proclaim God’s love, the churches will surely win against the attempts to malign our ministry and prophetic stance. We will continue to stand for human rights!” Bishop Marigza concluded.





Castriciones delivers CLOAs in Leyte
DAR to Door. Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Brother John Castriciones delivers Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) to agrarian reform beneficiaries’ (ARBs’) homes in Barangays Lourdes and Bobonon in Alangalang, Leyte.

Castriciones delivers CLOAs in remote Leyte villages despite heavy rains

December 5, 2020

ALANGALANG, Leyte – Despite the sudden heavy downpour, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Brother John Castriciones did not back out from his original plan of delivering the Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) to six agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in a remote village here under the “DAR to Door” program.

Upon his arrival on Wednesday (November 25) in Tacloban City, Castriciones went directly to this town, which is some 30 kilometers away.

Accompanied by his deputies, Undersecretary David Erro of the Field Operations Office and Undersecretary Carim Panumpang of the Special Concerns Office, Castriciones proceeded to Barangay Lourdes, which is still about five kilometers away from the town proper.

While in the middle of his talk with ARB Francisco Catindoy in the land the latter is tilling, heavy rain suddenly poured. But Castriciones patiently waited in a nearby house of Bernardo Lagaday, another ARB, for the rain to subside to continue with his purpose of delivering the CLOAs to the homes of the four other recipient farmers in the area.

From Barangay Lourdes, Castriciones went also to Barangay Bobonon to deliver the CLOA of Alicia Tabernero, who became emotional when she received the land title.

Tabernero, as she thanked Secretary Castriciones, shared that she had been wishing for a long time that the land she was tilling would be hers someday, and that her wish is now being realized. She added that she valued much that land especially the time that she was sending her children to school.

On the following day, Castriciones went back to this town and distributed in a formal rite at the municipal covered court 1,280 more CLOAs covering an aggregate area of over a thousand hectares to 1,042 ARBs from other farming villages in this municipality as well as from the towns of Barugo, Burauen, Capoocan, Carigara, Dagami, Jaro, Kananga, and Pastrana.

According to Castriciones, “kaya ako ay lumilibot sa buong Pilipinas upang palakasin ang pag-asa ng ating mga magsasaka sapagkat alam ko na sa panahong ito ay dapat silang bigyan ng pag-asa, bigyan sila ng motibasyon para magpatuloy sa paghahanapbuhay bilang mga magsasaka.

Castriciones described the farmers as true heroes of our nation.

He emphasized “malaki po ang utang na loob ng ating bansa sa ating mga magsasaka lalo na ngayong may pandemya. Dahil sa kanila may pagkain ang ating mga mesa.”

Meanwhile, MAALSADA-Farmer Irrigators Service Cooperative (FISCO) was honored on the same occasion as outstanding agrarian reform beneficiaries organization (ARBO) in the region for garnering the highest product sales encompassing both the traditional and institutional markets, at P13.3-million from March to October this year.

However, Reynaldo Peja, chairman of the MAALSADA-FISCO, begged to increase the buying price of rice. At present, a kilo of rice is sold at P12 only.





Karapatan files complaint against gov’t officials engaged in red-tagging

December 4, 2020

QUEZOZN CITY – On December 4, 2020, days after the last Senate committee hearing on red-tagging, Karapatan filed criminal and administrative charges against the ranking officials of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and former PCOO Undersecretary Mocha Uson. The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) serves as Karapatan’s counsel in this case.

During the filing of charges before the Office of the Ombudsman, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Antonio Parlade Jr., Lorraine Marie T. Badoy, and Esther Margaux “Mocha” Uson should be held criminally and administratively liable for the acts that malign, vilify and baselessly red-tag her along with Karapatan’s officers and members.

Palabay said red-tagging of activists and progressive groups has led to the killings of human rights defenders, enforced disappearances, illegal arrests and detention, torture, criminalization of their jobs and advocacies, and other defilements of their civil and political rights.

Parlade was earlier quoted in an article by the Philippine News Agency (PNA) entitled “Denounce Reds over brutal slay of CAFGU member, Karapatan told”, written by Priam Nepomuceno and published on June 2, 2019, alleging that Karapatan has a connection with the New People’s Army.

“On March 7, 2019, Respondent Parlade, in a poster shared from the account of the Civil Relations Service AFP, referred to KARAPATAN as a terrorist front organization, told the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) falsehoods with regards to the human rights situation in the country, and sought material support from EU member states on the basis of these false claims,” the 40-page complaint said.

“Thereafter, on April 9, 2019, Respondent Parlade utilized the social media as his platform to spread lies against me and my organization KARAPATAN. In a story published by Kalinaw News in its website, Respondent Parlade was quoted.”

The complaint also cited that Parlade continued red-tagging KARAPATAN, “that even our support for the calls for press freedom insofar as the franchise renewal issue of ABS-CBN is concerned was smeared with malicious and baseless accusations against us.”

The complaint said the respondents’ red-tagging of Palabay, KARAPATAN and its members and officers violates the principle of distinction under international and domestic humanitarian law.

The Philippine government is a party to the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). One of the hallmark principles of International Humanitarian Law is the principle of distinction, which restricts targets of attacks to military objectives only to protect civilian persons and objects.

“Both parties affirmed the applicability of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and its 1977 Additional Protocols, which are main IHL treaties. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court has parallel provisions and principles on this,” the complaint said.

Under the complaint, Palabay and Karapatan said red-tagging constitutes the Crime against Humanity of Persecution.

Republic Act No. 9851 (RA 9851) or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity penalizes the crime against humanity of persecution.

Republic Act No. 9851 (RA 9851) or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity penalizes the crime against humanity of persecution.

Under Section 3(p) of RA 9851, persecution refers to “the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason of identity of the group or collectivity.”

“This crime against humanity is committed when there is persecution “against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender, sexual orientation, or other grounds, committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population,” the complaint said.

Under the complaint, Karapatan and Palabay said the government officials also violated the Anti- Graft and Corrupt Practices Act by doing acts that “are contrary to law or regulation; are unreasonable, unfair, oppressive or discriminatory; and are inconsistent with the general course of an agency's functions, though in accordance with law proceed from a mistake of law or an arbitrary ascertainment of facts; are in the exercise of discretionary powers but for an improper purpose; or are otherwise irregular, immoral or devoid of justification.”

“Respondents acted with manifest partiality and evident bad faith when they recklessly engaged in red-tagging me and KARAPATAN publicly, absent any competent, admissible, much less credible evidence to prove their claims,” the complainants said.

“Lastly, the red-tagging and vilification against us have indubitably already caused us undue injury not only by threatening our lives, liberty, security but also discrediting our work and advocacy and besmirching our reputations.”

Download: Copy of the complaint





livelihood kits to former rebels
Ninety-nine LSP-NSB & PPG beneficiaries received livelihood packages from DTI Asec. Niño Contreras with DTI R8 RD Celerina Bato, DTI Leyte OIC-PD Araceli Larraga and other government official.

DTI Leyte grants livelihood kits to 99 former rebels, MEs in Calubian, Leyte

By DTI-OSEC-Office of the Assistant Secretary for PPG
December 4, 2020

MAKATI CITY – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Leyte Provincial Office grants livelihood kits to 82 former rebels (FRs) and 17 COVID-19 affected micro entrepreneurs of Calubian, Leyte during the Livelihood Seeding Program (LSP) - Negosyo Serbisyo sa Barangay (NSB) and Pangkabuhayan sa Pagbangon at Ginhawa (PPG) Program Distribution of Livelihood Kits last November 19, 2020 at Brgy. Jubay, Calubian, Leyte.

DTI Assistant Secretary Niño Contreras, PPG Head for Visayas and Mindanao Region led the distribution of P5,000.00 worth of sari-sari store and food processing livelihood packages to these FRs together with Leyte Vice-Governor Carlo P. Loreto representing Governor Dominic L. Petilla, Representative Vicente Veloso of the 3rd District of Leyte, Brigadier General Zosimo A. Olivares, Brigade Commander of 802 Brigade of the Philippine Army, DTI Region 8 Regional Director Celerina T. Bato, Calubian Mayor Marciano A. Batiancela, Jr., DTI Leyte OIC-Provincial Director Araceli D. Larraga and Capt. Roberto Q. Beatisula, Jr., Battalion Commander of 93rd Infantry Battalion, 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army.

“We are bringing the services of the national government through DTI and other government agencies to the remote barangays and conflict affected areas of the country”, says Asec. Contreras.

He also emphasized that “President Duterte is there to help the people affected by calamities including those former rebels who are now in one with the government.”

The sari-sari store package is composed of: 72 pieces of instant noodles assorted flavor, 240 single packs of 3-in-1 coffee, 50 pcs. canned sardines, 45 corned beef and 144 sachets of detergent powder. On the other hand, the food processing package comprised of one (1) unit two-burner gas stove, a frying pan and an 11 kg. filled liquefied petroleum gas tank (LPG) with accessories. In addition to the livelihood kits, the beneficiaries also received grocery items courtesy of Senator Bong Go who co-funded the PPG program.

Mr. Rotchel Itol, a former rebel expressed his deep gratitude to DTI and the national government for the assistance received:

“Thank you very much to DTI and to our government for this PPG livelihood grant. This is a big help us (former rebels) as we start a new life”, he said. He encouraged all other beneficiaries to properly manage the pangkabuhayan kit they received. “Let us nurture the livelihood packages given by the government so this will grow and help us improve our lives”, Itol added.

The Pangkabuhayan sa Pagbangon at Ginhawa (PPG) Program is one of the initiatives of the government and the Department of Trade and Industry that aims to help micro entrepreneurs and individuals who were affected by natural and man-made calamities such as typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, flash floods, fires, health emergencies or pandemics and local armed conflicts. The said program gives a fast and easy source of initial capital in the form of livelihood kits such as the sari-sari store and food processing package to help micro entrepreneurs recover from the effects of a calamity and for identified individuals like former rebels start a new business opportunity.





First BAHANDI Virtual Trade Fair earns more than P8M

By DTI-Regional Operations Group
December 2, 2020

MAKATI CITY – Moved by the determination of our assisted micro entrepreneurs and the readily available opportunity for a wider market reach through technology, the Department of Trade and Industry Region 8 launched its first BAHANDI Eastern Visayas Virtual Trade Fair.

BAHANDI Virtual Trade FairThe Trade Fair ran from November 16-20, 2020 which was participated by 104 micro entrepreneurs across the region. These entrepreneurs showcased their products remotely using online platforms such as Zoom and Facebook. The products were also posted online as DTI sees it as one of the best marketing strategies in this season.

The micro small and entrepreneurs generated a total sale of P8,087,302 including cash and booked orders. Food products in the region remain best sellers with 81% chunk from the total sales generated.

Top sellers were Alboco Food Industry with P2.775 M sales for peanut butter and Delza’s Native Products with P450,230.00.

The products are still posted at the BAHANDI Eastern Visayas FB Page and the PLDT Kaasenso Virtual Trade Expo Platform.







DAR-EV employees financial assistance
OIC-Regional Director Ismael Aya-ay (2nd from right) of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Eastern Visayas turns over the P201,000.00 cash to DAR Secretary Brother John Castriciones (extreme right) as financial assistance for colleagues in Regions II and V who were severely affected by Typhoons Rolly and Ulysses. Assistant Secretary David Erro (left) and Assistant Regional Director Ma. Fe Malinao (2nd from left) witness the event. (Jose Alsmith L. Soria)

DAR-EV employees extend financial assistance to victims of Typhoons Rolly, Ulysses

December 1, 2020

TACLOBAN CITY – OIC-Regional Director Ismael Ay-ay of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Eastern Visayas turned over on Friday P201,000.00 to Agrarian Reform Secretary, Brother John Castriciones as financial assistance for colleagues in Regions II and V who were severely affected by Typhoons Rolly and Ulysses.

Aya-ay disclosed that the said amount was a combined contribution of all employees throughout the region.

Even the contractual and job-order employees did not hesitate to voluntarily share any amount they could afford. No matter how small an amount is, but when summed-up, we were able to raise more than P200,000.00, Aya-ay added.

According to Girlie Costa, a job-order employee assigned at the Land Tenure Service Division, “we can feel how they feel now because we’ve been through the same situation when Typhoon Yolanda struck our region in 2013, and they were there to help us recover from devastation.”

“Now, it’s our time to help them. It’s time that we show them our love even in a small way,” said Costa.

Earlier, DAR Southern Leyte Provincial Office send more than P10,000.00 to the DAR Employees Association in Central Office for the same purpose.

Meanwhile, Castriciones was in the Region 8 last week to distribute Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs).





Young female NPA fighter killed in a clash in Kananga, Leyte

By 802nd Infantry Brigade, 8ID PA
November 28, 2020

CAMP DOWNES, Ormoc City – A young female NPA fighter died in a 15- minute clash between the operating troops of the 93rd Infantry Battalion, 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) at Sitio Mat-i, Barangay Mahawan, Kananga, Leyte about 3:35pm today.

The Kananga Municipal Police Station identified the fatality as a certain Rochelle Mae Bacalso alias Ruth/Justine, about 21 years old, said to be a newly-recruited member of the remnants of Sub-Regional Committee Levox, Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee, CPP-NPA-NDF.

The attending physician declared her dead when brought to the Kananga Municipal Hospital, where the troops rushed her in an attempt to save her life. She sustained gunshot wounds in the body that caused her death.

Bacalso was among the undetermined number of CPP-NPA terrorists who attempted to ambush a team of soldiers patrolling in the area. The soldiers were deployed to check reports from local residents on the presence of armed persons who were suspected to be communist terrorists.

Captured from the encounter site were one Austrian-made Glock pistol, one bandoleer for M16 magazines, one magazine for M16 rifle with 29 pieces of caliber 5.56 ammunition, one backpack with personal belongings, one cellular phone, four hammocks, four poncho tents, and documents with high intelligence value.

It can be recalled that in the aftermath of the first armed encounter between 93IB troops and the same marauding CPP-NPA band led by a certain Juanito Selleza alias Tibor, the 802nd Infantry (Peerless) Brigade, 8ID, PA posted in its Facebook Page photos of a certain Ruth alias Justine who was identified as a member of the engaged communist terrorist group.

The 802Bde appealed to the public then for help in locating her family in Samar Island or elsewhere in Eastern Visayas in a bid to rescue her from the CTG that deceived her into joining the armed struggle.

Facial photos taken from the remains of the female NPA casualty whom the police identified as Rochelle Mae Bacalso matched with the photos of Ruth alias Justine, which were downloaded from her Facebook account bearing the pseudo name of “Kenlyn Mark.” Three unmistakable moles under her lower lip confirmed her identity.

Brig. Gen. Zosimo A. Oliveros PA, commander of the 802Bde, reiterates his previous call for “the local CTG members to abandon the armed struggle and return to the mainstream of the society and become productive citizens.”





Army troops seized high-powered firearm, explosives in Northern Samar clash

By 803rd Infantry Brigade, 8ID PA
November 28, 2020

CATARMAN, Northern Samar – The troops of the 43rd Infantry Battalion engaged in an encounter with more or less 25 Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) after a concerned citizen reported the presence of an armed group in the vicinity of Barangay Mabini, Catarman, Northern Samar on November 27, 2020.

Gunfight lasted for about 15 minutes. No casualty on the operating troops while an undetermined number of wounded NPA terrorists were reported based on the bloodstains found in the encounter site.

Seized during the clash were one M16 rifle, one shotgun, a hand grenade, detonator with detonator cord, six M16-magazines, 91 rounds of ammunition, bandolier, laptop, cellphones, 22 backpacks with personal belongings, five CNT flags, medical supplies and subversive documents.

The Commander of the 803rd Infantry Brigade, Colonel Lowell R Tan, lauded the troops of 43IB for their efforts in protecting the community of Barangay Mabini. He also thanked the residents who gave the information.

“Let us continue engaging the community from the Barangay down to Sitios, to build a strong rapport with the communities and help them cooperate with the government and the armed forces. The government troops are also willing to extend our hand for the wounded members of the NPA,” Tan said.





NMP BOT approves offering of Vessel Crane Operator Course

Vessel Crane Operator Course

By National Maritime Polytechnic
November 28, 2020

TACLOBAN CITY – Driven to address the current training needs of domestic and ocean-going seafarers and maritime allied personnel, the National Maritime Polytechnic developed new training course, namely: Vessel Crane Operator Course which aimed to provide adequate training and familiarization on the usage and operation of a vessel crane equipment to ensure the safety of the crew, dockworkers and cargoes.

Reports revealed that majority of crane accidents are caused by human error, resulting to safety risk, and controllable lost time to the whole operation and even death, however, these accidents may be minimized, controlled, or prevented if the person assigned to operate has the proper training, thus, equipped with the needed knowledge, understanding and skills on the principles and safe practices relative to the its operation.

It can be recalled that last 19 July 2019, on the occasion of the Maritime Industry Tripartite Council Dialogue held in Cebu City, NMP Head of the Curriculum Development Section, Capt. Chito A. Go had an initial discussion with a representative from the Gothong Southern Shipping Lines, Inc. (GSSLI) on the possible development of a company specific course for vessel crane operator to address the latter’s need to increase awareness and to keep its crew and personnel abreast of the safe and effective operation of the equipment.

Relative to said cause, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was forged by both parties on 18 September 2019 in Cebu City. The course development was completed in the 3rd quarter of CY 2020 and pilot-class was eventually conducted on 24 October 2020 with twelve (12) participants. It was also attended in by six (6) validators, three (3) from NMP and three (3) from GSSLI.

After the successful conduct of the pilot-class, the course package was presented to the NMP Polytechnic Council on 06 November 2020 where it was thoroughly deliberated and agreed to have it endorsed to the NMP Board of Trustees and seek their approval.

The NMP Board of Trustees (BOT) during its Third (3rd) Regular Meeting (virtual) on 25 November 2020 approved the Agency’s proposal to offer the said course with a training fee of Two Hundred Eighty-One Pesos (P 281.00) only.

Schedules for the conduct of the training will be finalized and posted at the NMP website: www.nmp.gov.ph or in the Agency’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ nmptrainingcenter) where all updates and relevant information on NMP programs are also available.

Meanwhile, NMP continues to conduct face-to-face trainings with strict implementation of the Maritime Industry Authority’s (MARINA) approved Post-Enhanced Community Quarantine Operational Plan and other health and safety protocols as required by the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and local government unit (LGU).

Likewise, Filipino seafarers who are interested to avail of the NMP’s FREE online classes on SHAPIMS, PADAMS, and GSTS may register through this link: https://nmp.gov.ph/online-course-offerings/.

Interested stakeholders who wish to validate the authenticity of their seafarers-employed with NMP issued certificates may visit www.verify.nmp.gov.ph. Likewise, those interested in NMP research undertakings may visit the NMP website and access the e-Research Information System Portal which is designed to disseminate NMP completed researches, present the Research Agenda, and engage the industry stakeholders to collaborate in the research activities.

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





1st NSPMFC, POP celebrate National Children’s Month with 200 schoolers and non-schoolers

November 28, 2020

CAMP CARLOS DELGADO, Catarman, Northern Samar – The First Northern Samar Provincial Mobile Force Company (1st NSPMFC), Philippine National Police (PNP), in a joint activity with the People’s Outreach Program (POP), celebrated the 28th National Children’s Month with 200 school and non-schoolers in Barangay Mirador, Mondragon of same province, on November 25, 2020.

1st NSPMFC National Children’s MonthNovember marks the National Children’s Month as declared by the Council of Welfare for Children (CWC). The month-long event aims to promote awareness on the children’s rights and protection.

COVID-19 has disrupted the activities in an environment where children thrive that basically affect their rights to enjoy and develop themselves; thus, the celebration.

The distress suffered by the families, coupled with restricted movement, aggravated the risks of children to certain abuses like neglect, exploitative labor, social exclusion, physical, sexual and psychological, which existed long before the spread of the dreaded corona virus.

With the theme: “Sama-samang Itaguyod ang Karapatan ng Bawat Bata sa Panahon ng Pandemya”, 1st NSPMFC, collaborated with POP and local officials of said barangay including feeding and distribution of slippers, facemask and school supplies.

Relatively, each child received copy of 1st NSPMFC’s Comic Books as additional reading materials which promote the PNP’s campaign against terrorism. Parlor games concluded a fun-filled and enjoyable Children’s Month Celebration.

Meanwhile, an orientation was simultaneously conducted to the parents and guardians to take care of their children by upholding their rights especially during this global crisis.

The significance of responsible parenting plays a primordial role in influencing the developmental competence and life course trajectories of the children.

“Our children must be treated with utmost protection. Being powerless, they become vulnerable to exploitation, violence and certain abuses. As protector of innocents and weak, we assure to stand for their security and protection and exemplify ourselves as role model to guide them along their journey,” said Police Major Edwin Oloan Jr, 1st NSPMFC Commander.





Upset Hindus urge ex-beautyqueen Imelda apologize & replace album cover mimicking goddess Kali

Press Release
November 26, 2020

Upset Hindus are urging Filipino-German musician and former beauty queen Imelda Bautista Schweighart to apologize and replace cover of her album “Fuccboi” emulating Hindu goddess Kali, calling it highly inappropriate.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that goddess Kali was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be used for selling albums with vulgar names. Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts or symbols or icons for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees.

Celebrities should not be in the business of religious appropriation, sacrilege, and ridiculing entire communities. It was deeply disrespectful and trivializing of divine Hindu deities to be ill-used in scenarios like this; Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, emphasized.

Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.2 billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled; Rajan Zed noted.

Zed further said that such trivialization of Hindu deities was disturbing to the Hindus world over. Hindus were for free artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it hurt the followers, Zed added.

Goddess Kali, who personifies Sakti or divine energy, is widely worshipped in Hinduism. She is considered the goddess of time and change. Some Bengali poets described her as supreme deity.





Caraycaray-Libtong road
On-going construction/improvement of access roads leading to trades, industries and economic zones - Caraycaray-Cabungaan-Libtong road in support of the agribusiness: food and resource-based processing in Brgy. Libtong, Naval, Biliran.

DPWH-Biliran DEO improves road in support of agribusiness in Libtong, Naval

By DPWH Biliran
November 26, 2020

NAVAL, Biliran – The on-going construction/ improvement of access road in Libtong, Naval town in support of the agribusiness: food and resource-based processing is now more than halfway complete.

The project which starts from Brgy. Caraycaray-Cabungaan-Libtong is now on its third phase of implementation, according to David P. Adongay Jr., District Engineer.

According to Adongay, this is a multi-year funded project from FY 2018-2022 under the Convergence program of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). This project covers a total length of 5.8-kilometer two-lane road concreting with road slope protection, masonry barriers, drainage structures and rehabilitation of damaged pavement with an allocation amount of P187.9M.

To date, DPWH Biliran District Engineering Office (DEO) has completed a total length of 1.6-kilometer two lane road under 2018 and 2019 implementation.

Currently, DPWH Biliran DEO is implementing the 1.86-kilometer two-lane road concreting with drainage & slope protection in Brgy. Libtong under 2020 implementation. This project has a contract amount of P46.7M and is now 71.64% complete as of October 31, 2020.

The completion of the project by phases will provide a safer and faster transport of farmers’ agricultural products for food and resource-based processing such as palay, abaca, copra, cassava, camote, curioso and ginger in Brgy. Libtong to the market center in the progressive town of Naval and to the nearby urban areas.





High-powered firearm, explosives seized in Paranas, Samar clash

By 801st Infantry Brigade, 8ID PA
November 26, 2020

FATIMA, Hinabangan, Samar – Operating troops of the 87th Infantry Battalion engaged in an encounter with Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) following a tip from a resident of the presence of terrorists in Barangay Sto. Niño, Paranas, Samar, 9:40 a.m. on November 25, 2020.

During the conduct of focus military operations, the army troopers clashed against five CNTs in a 10-minute firefight.

No casualty on the government side while an undetermined casualty was reported on the terrorist side following the bloodstains found in the area and route of withdrawal.

Seized during the operation were one AK47, bandoleer, three long magazines, 27 ammunition, two improvised grenades, cellphones, and subversive documents.

“The army will continue its offensive against the NPA. We will assure the people of Samar that the Army will continue relentlessly and will use all its resources against the threat group. The government troops will not stop until we see an end to the local communist armed conflict”, said Brigadier General Camilo Z Ligayo, Commander of 801st Brigade.

Ligayo also encouraged the people to work closely with the authorities by reporting any information regarding the NPA movements and activities in their communities.


Last updated: 04/17/2021