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To mitigate low farm gate prices due to Rice Tariffication Law: Bukidnon rice farmers receive cash assistance from DA

April 29, 2020

The Department of Agriculture - Regional Field Office 10 (DA-10) concluded its cash assistance to rice farmers in the province of Bukidnon who were adversely affected by the low buying price of palay due to the Rice Tariffication Law.  DA-10 executive Carlene C. Collado explained that the P5, 000 cash assistance was given to qualified rice farmers, tilling an area ranging from half to two hectares and duly registered under the updated Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA).  The financial aid was extended through the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA) sourced from tariff collections of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).  Collado expressed his gratitude to the provincial government under Governor Jose Ma. Zubiri, Jr. and municipal mayors for the support they extended to the agriculture sector.  A total of 6,594 rice farmer-recipients received the P5, 000 financial aid through Bukidnon’s 19 municipalities and cities from April 20-24.  The towns and cities include Baungon, Talakag, Sumilao, Manolo Fortich, Impasug-ong, Lantapan, Cabanglasan, San Fernando, Malaybalay City, Damulog, Kibawe, Dangcagan, Don Carlos, Kadingilan, Maramag, Quezon, Kalilangan, Pangantucan and Valencia City.  “Dako na kaayo ni nga tabang alang sa pagkaon sa akong pamilya, labi na niining panahon sa krisis. Ang pagtanom sa humay ug ang kita niini maoy gisaligan namo alang sa among pagkaon sa tibuok tuig,” said Nova H. Omonlay, a 62-year old rice farmer from barangay Kisolon, Sumilao, Bukidnon, who has been cultivating her rice fields for over 20 years, [This is a big help to buy food for my family, especially in this time of crisis. Rice farming is also the source of our income and this is where we also get money for our food for the whole year.”  Aside from Bukidnon, simultaneous distribution of RFFA assistance was also conducted in the province of Lanao del Norte with 6,442 beneficiaries.# (DA RFO-X/MGBS)

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Stronger Together: COCA-COLA's Collective COVID-19 Response for Frontliners & Communities

April 29, 2020

For 108 years, the purpose of refreshing the world and making a difference has been the driving force of Coca-Cola  in times of crisis. The Company continues to tap its network of partners to provide financial resources and logistics support to be of genuine service to health workers and local communities.  Following the announcement of the Company last March 20 to re-channel P150 million of its advertising budget toward COVID-19 relief efforts, the Coca-Cola system immediately mobilized the provision of personal protective equipment (PPEs) for frontline responders, the distribution of food packs to vulnerable communities, and the delivery of beverages to hospitals, national government agencies local government units and NGOs.  PPEs for frontline responders and food for vulnerable communities  One of the top priorities of Coca-Cola is to respond to the urgent demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) to help equip critical healthcare workers with gear ensuring their safety and welfare, as they lead the nation’s fight against COVID-19. Over 46,000 medical workers in 305 medical institutions have so far been provided with PPEs, a significant portion of which was coursed through the TOWNS Foundation, UP Medical Foundation and the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF).  “These initiatives form only the initial phase of our ongoing efforts to make a positive impact in communities and among the most vulnerable,” says Winn Everhart, Coca-Cola Philippines President and General Manager. “Alongside our valued partners, we are committed to the spirit of bayanihan, believing that as long as we weather this crisis while lifting up our fellow countrymen, we can look forward to a better-shared future."  Coca-Cola also saw the need to help feed the most vulnerable families in the country once the enhanced community quarantine was imposed. Working together with Caritas Manila, McDonald’s, Rise Against Hunger-PH, Philippines Business for Social Progress & Jollibee Foundation, Coca-Cola has delivered over 5,000 food packs and is committed to reaching 30,000 more families in the coming days.  Continuous supply of essential hydration   In addition, with over 19 production facilities, over 70 distribution centres and 10,000 direct employees in the country, Coca-Cola continues to manufacture and deliver essential hydration needs to stores, its customers and partners to ensure that beverages such as Wilkins water and other Coca-Cola products remain available to communities during this time.   Since March 20, Coca-Cola has distributed over 400,000 litres of beverages to various frontline organizations—including 125 public and private medical institutions, the AFP, the PNP, several government agencies, local government units , and different civic organizations—as well as vulnerable communities.  “We have all been witnessing the generosity of spirit, the hard work, and the unparalleled dedication of the thousands upon thousands of frontline workers in the medical sector and across various industries, and it is incumbent upon everyone of us to support them in any way we can,” says Gareth McGeown, President and CEO of Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines, Inc., the bottling arm of Coca-Cola in the country.  The Company will also be providing beverages to the COVID-19 quarantine facilities the government will be establishing, in partnership with the PDRF. The first batch of these deliveries has already been made to the PICC and the Ninoy Aquino Stadium. Coca-Cola coolers will be installed in the command centres of these facilities.  “This is perhaps the toughest collective challenge we will all face in our lifetimes, and extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary responses. Coca-Cola is in a position to help—therefore, we will do so to the utmost of our abilities. We will continue to prioritize the safety of our employees; as we serve our customers, support the government’s welfare initiatives, and help bring aid to vulnerable communities across the country,” added McGeown. (StratWorks) Keeping their welfare in mind, Coca-Cola responds to the urgent demand for personal protective equipment in order for our healthworkers to work safely.        

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AboitizPower sets lower capex this year

April 28, 2020

ABOITIZ Power Corp. has earmarked P33 billion for capital expenditure (capex) for 2020, as its parent company Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV) reduced its capital outlay for this year.     During the company’s virtual annual stockholders’ meeting Monday, president and chief executive officer Emmanuel Rubio said AboitizPower initially set its capex at P1 billion this year compared to P35 billion spent in 2019.      AEV reduced its capex this year to P47 billion from P73 billion it previously announced.      Rubio said AboitizPower’s capex for this year is 17 percent higher than 2019’s spending of P35 billion.     “It’s primarily for the construction of GNPower Dinginin facilities. However, we are reviewing the schedule of the rest of our capital expenditures given the current situation,” he added.     Unit 1 of GNPower Dinginin will commence its commercial operation by the first quarter of 2021 while Unit 2 will start by the second quarter next year.     “As far as demand is concerned, the curtailed economic activity brought about by the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) has resulted in lower demand and consumption, which in turn have affected revenue targets for our business both generation and distribution, even in our retail electricity supply business units,” Rubio said.     He said despite the ECQ, all of its power plants remain online to provide power for hospitals, government institutions, and critical businesses.     “We are operating all power plants within the lockdown communities and keeping operators, team members in our facilities on (a) 14-day cycle,” he added.     Rubio said an uptick in demand is expected due to higher temperatures during the dry season and also the easing of community quarantine measures in other parts of the country.     “We are already working on our business recovery plans to allow us to take advantage of these promising developments and keep us on track with our goals despite the unusual business situation,” Rubio said.     In 2019, AboitizPower’s net income declined by 20 percent to P17.32 billion from P21.71 billion in 2018. (PNA)  

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Fruitas to reopen more stores

April 28, 2020

FRUITAS Holdings, Inc. is opening more stores across the country with the downgraded quarantine in select areas starting May 1.     In a statement Monday, the operator of food and beverage kiosks said it will have more than 60 active stores by the end of this week as it gradually expands store reopening with the shift of some regions to a general community quarantine (GCQ).     It will also ramp up its delivery operations with more than 10 Fruitas brands on-boarded for delivery.     “As we resume operations in more stores, we will continue to adapt our business model and optimize the use of our resources,” Fruitas President and Chief Executive Officer Lester C. Yu said in the statement.     “We are harnessing our model of maximizing sales and profits with limited space, including the utilization of kitchen capacity in our foodparks to fulfill delivery orders. We will also repurpose or upgrade some stores into delivery hubs,” he added.     Fruitas said it had reopened more than 10 stores in the past week and is preparing to reopen at least 10 more this week.     The government is set to downgrade the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in regions that are considered low-risk or medium risk after April 30. The ECQ in Greater Metro Manila and other high-risk regions will remain until May 15.     Areas that will be under GCQ may gradually reopen more establishments and facilitate mass public transportation but still at reduced capacity.     Quarantine measures in the Philippines have been in place since middle of March due to the ongoing spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Since then, Fruitas said it had strengthened its delivery network and partnered with food companies to boost revenue streams.     At present, the company said it was looking at partnerships with more on-demand delivery service providers.     “We are confident that we will emerge stronger and thrive in the post-pandemic environment,” Mr. Yu said.     Fruitas operates brands such as Fruitas Fresh from Babot’s Farm, Buko Loco, Buko ni Fruitas, De Original Jamaican Pattie, Johnn Lemon, Juice Avenue, Black Pearl, Friends Fries, The Mango Farm, 7,107 Halo Halo Islands, Kuxina, Shou La Mien Hand Pulled Noodles and Sabroso Lechon.  

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PHL airlines extend flight suspensions

April 28, 2020

THE country’s major airlines on Friday said all domestic and international flights will remain suspended until May 15, after the government extended the lockdown measures in the National Capital Region and key areas around the country.     In separate statements, Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific and Philippines AirAsia said they will not yet resume passenger flights in view of the extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) aimed at containing the coronavirus outbreak.     “All domestic and international Cebu Pacific and Cebgo flights remain cancelled from May 1 to 15, 2020. This is in line with the extension of ECQ imposed over much of Luzon, and implementation of general community quarantine (GCQ) over other provinces. Restrictions are also implemented by local governments across the Philippines,” Cebu Pacific said in its statement.     Should the ECQ be lifted by May 15, PAL said it will have a “gradual and calibrated” resumption of operations starting May 16.     “The complete list of flights to be operated once the ECQ is lifted will be released as soon as possible. In the meantime, our domestic sweeper flights and special flights — arranged by several foreign embassies to ferry stranded nationals out of the country — will continue,” PAL said.     The government has extended the ECQ, which was scheduled to end on April 30, by another two weeks in Metro Manila, Central Luzon (Region III), Calabarzon (Region IV-A — Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon), as well as other provinces that continue to face high risk of coronavirus disease infections.     Other areas facing low-risk of the coronavirus will be placed under GCQ starting May 1. Under a GCQ, the government said airports and ports can continue to operate but only for goods.  

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AboitizPower Team Sow #PositiveEnergy: Brix - Duty & Family

April 27, 2020

Brix Maskariño wakes up before the sun rises. The dormitory begins to bustle with muted activity, but Brix’s early start means that he won’t have to wait in line to shower. He is one of the team members rendering duty in Therma South, Inc.’s (TSI) facility quarantine to keep the lights on amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  While the country’s frontliners like medical personnel, bankers, janitors, and police continue to brave the pandemic, another group of unsung heroes diligently works as the backbone of the nation by keeping power supply available during these challenging times.  Control Room Engineers (CREs) are the brains of the power plant. They have oversight of the entire plant operations, and like brains picking up signals from the body, CREs also monitor the condition of the plant to ensure that everything is running normally.  To do this, it is imperative for CREs to remain mentally alert and mindful anything can happen anytime, especially now when manpower has been stripped down to a skeletal workforce due to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).  “By the time I go back to the dorm, I usually fall asleep right away since the task is mentally-demanding. You have to continuously monitor the status of the plant and your mind is always alert and prepared to respond instantly if something goes wrong,” Brix shared.  Plant operations are not the only thing running through Brix’s mind, though. The facility quarantine entails that all personnel rendering duty inside the plant have to stay inside the facility for two weeks.  This is a reverse isolation protocol to prevent bringing in potential infection. This also means that team members have to be away from their families during that time.  TSI has provided dormitories for its team members under quarantine, along with entertainment such as cable TV and full Internet access so that people like Brix are able to stay in touch with their loved ones.  “This is the first time I’ve been away from my family. With all that’s happening, it’s hard to keep your mind at ease. My thoughts keep going back to my family. I found a better appreciation for my family through this experience,” Brix said.  In light of the developments, Brix had to leave his aging parents at home alone while he steps up to keep the electricity flowing.  “The work that we do is important, now more than ever. We need to supply energy so that frontliners can do their work and use the facilities they need. They need electricity in hospitals,” Brix shares.  “I can appreciate my job more now. Usually you see people thanking nurses and frontliners on social media, but sometimes you can see some thanking the power sector. It’s touching that there are some people who appreciate what we do,” Brix added.  Overall, Brix found that his experience with hotel isolation and facility quarantine was alright. It was an experience that allowed him to find a deeper appreciation and sense of duty to his family.  “The sacrifice we’re making is for the sake of our family. We need to support our frontliners so they can do their job to control the pandemic, so that our families are kept safe. This is my mindset now. I’m doing this to keep my family safe and to help my country.”  Wholly-owned AboitizPower subsidiary Therma South, Inc. (TSI) is the owner and operator of the 300-Megawatt Davao Baseload Power Plant located in Binugao, Toril, Davao City. TSI is certified in four ISO standards, namely Quality Management (ISO 9001:2015), Environmental Management (ISO 14001:2015), Occupational Health and Safety Management (OHSAS 45001:2018), and Asset Management System (ISO 55001:2014). Along with Therma Luzon, Inc. and Therma Visayas, Inc., the three primarily compose the Coal Business Unit of AboitizPower.

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