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Turnover Ceremony for “The Project for the Construction of Classrooms for Tictapul Elementary School”

May 3, 2019

 On April 24, 2019, Minister for Economic Affairs Makoto Iyori, Consul General Yoshiaki Miwa and Second Secretary Atsushi Kobayashi of the Embassy of Japan attended the turnover ceremony in Zamboanga City for the “The Project for the Construction of Classrooms for Tictapul Elementary School”.     The project was approved in 2016, and is part of Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP). Mr. Maximillan Ventura, President of Philam Foundation, Inc., Mr. Felix Romy A. Triambulo, Superintendent of the Department of Education Zamboanga City Division, school teachers and selected students, also graced the event.     Tictapul is one of the distant rural barangays of Zamboanga City. Similar to most rural areas in Zamboanga, Tictapul is an underprivileged community and endures shortage of appropriate social infrastructure such as school buildings.     Given the increasing number of students enrolling at Tictapul Elementary School, the school lacks the funding to improve its dilapidated classrooms and facilities. During classes, some of the students were forced to sit on the floor due to inadequate chairs and tables.     In line with Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD)*1, and through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP), the Embassy of Japan provided assistance to Philam Foundation, Inc. with a grant amounting to Forty-Eight Thousand Five Hundred Fifty-Six US dollars (USD 48,556) or approximately 2.4 million pesos. The grant covered the construction of a one-storey four-classroom school building with the necessary school furniture for Tictapul Elementary School.     This project is expected to provide a conducive learning and teaching environment which will benefit more than 700 students and 18 teaching personnel of the school.     The Government of Japan, as the top ODA donor for the Philippines, launched the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects in the Philippines in 1989 for the purpose of reducing poverty and helping various communities engaged in grassroots activities. At present, 543 grassroots projects have been implemented by the GGP. Japan believes that these projects will not only strengthen the friendship between the peoples of Japan and the Philippines but also contribute in sustaining strategic partnership between the two countries.     Note*1: Since 2006, Japan has been intensively implementing Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects and other ODA projects for conflict affected areas in Mindanao, collectively called J-BIRD (Japan-Bangsamoro Initiative for Reconstruction and Development). Their total amount is over 200 million US Dollars. Furthermore, when former President Aquino made a state visit to Japan in June 2015, Japanese Prime Minister, Mr. Shinzo Abe, expressed at their summit meeting his support for efforts by the Government of the Philippines to secure enduring peace in Mindanao, and stated that the Government of Japan will promote the J-BIRD II, in view of the establishment of a new autonomous political entity.

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Metro TODA pledges support for Bong Go as former SAP vows to fight for their cause

May 3, 2019

PASIG CITY - Former Special Assistant to the President and 2019 senatorial candidate Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Saturday received a pledge of support from the National Capital Region-Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association (TODA) Coalition.     Signed by TODA leaders in Metro Manila led NCR TODA Coalition President Ace Sevilla, the pledge of support was given to Go during the Pasig City First TODA Summit held at Urbano Velasco Avenue, in Brgy. Pinagbuhatan here.     “..Kami po ay mataimtim na nangangakong susuporta sa pagtakbo ni Kuya Bong Go bilang isa sa mga Senador ng Republika ng Pilipinas ng may buong katapatan at paniniwala. Asahan ninyong kami ay magiging kaakibat nito tungo sa pag-unlad at pagbabagong nais ipagpatuloy ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte,” the manifesto read.     Earlier in the day, Go went around Pasig City in a motorcade. He thanked the people of the city for the enthusiastic reception he received from them.     “Sobrang init ng pagtanggap ng ating mga kababayan sa atin kahit saan kami pumunta. Kanina pinasok natin yung eskinita ng Payatas, ng Quezon City, ngayon naman sa Pasig. Sobrang init ng pagtanggap ng tao, nakakawala talaga ng pagod,” Go said.     He said he goes around the country not merely to pursue his campaign but also to meet with the residents to cheer them up and listen to their concerns.     Speaking at the summit, Go reaffirmed his commitment to champion the cause of the TODA and promote their welfare. He recalled that a chance meeting with Sevilla marked the beginning of his earnest efforts to help the TODA.     “Nagkakilala kami sa isang tabi lang po, sa isang carinderia diyan sa Pasay. Nagkwentuhan kami, sabi niya marami akong gustong iparating, mga hinaing daw ng TODA…so sabi ko ipaparating ko kay Pangulo. Kaya po tayo nagkaroon ng TODA Summit,” Go pointed out.     In January this year, the government held a national TODA Summit in Pasay City to listen to the concern of the tricycle operators and drivers in the country.     “Inimbitahan rin po yung mga presidente ng TODA doon po sa Malacanang at naiparating ni Presidente Ace kay Pangulong Duterte yung mga hinaing po ng TODA at yung mga problema ninyo,” Go added.     “Sa katauhan ni Kuya Bong Go, may magtutulay na ng hinaing ng mga TODA sa Presidente,” said Sevilla for his part, as he also recalled how Go  spearheaded the January National TODA Summit.     Sevilla noted that during their meeting with President Duterte, arranged by Go, he requested fuel subsidy for tricycle drivers similar to that enjoyed by jeepney drivers. He said this would soon be realized through the help of the private sector.     For his part, Go assured the TODA that they can always count on his help if they have any concerns or problems that they want to bring to the attention of President Rodrigo Duterte.     “Asahan nyo po, ako bilang Kuya Bong Go ninyo, ako yung tulay ninyo sa Malacanang. Kung may problema po kayo …basta kahit anong reklamo po…isumbong nyo rin po sa akin,” Go said.     He said that if elected to the Senate he would undertake a review of existing laws, including those governing their livelihood and operations, to ensure the regulations would be beneficial to them.     “Mga TODA, mahal po namin kayo ni Pangulong Duterte. Basta kahit ano pong pwede naming gawin sa inyo iparating nyo lang po sa mga presidente ninyo,” he added.     Go also recalled that during his visit to fire victims he would also take time to talk to the TODA in the area just to hear their concerns.     “Tuwing may nasusunugan nakikipag-boodle fight ako sa TODA na malapit, kahit hating-gabi. Doon lang po yung pagkakataon na pwede ko kayong makausap at makahalubilo at (malaman kung) ano po yung mga gusto ninyong iparating po sa ating gobyerno,” Go said.     Go told them that he remains committed to supporting the campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte against criminality, corruption, and illegal drugs as he also warned them to stay away from drugs.     “Marami pong mga TODA na naging biktima ng droga. Marami pong lumapit sa akin, sabi nila: Sir salamat po kay Pangulong Duterte, nagbagong-buhay na ako, nag-surrender na ako. ..Iwasan ninyo po yung droga,” Go reminded them.     In addition, Go said he supports the Duterte administration’s development and infrastructure programs, noting there are many on-going and planned projects that would benefit not only Pasig but other adjacent cities in Metro Manila.     Among others, he cited P27.3-billion project for the construction of consisting of 10 bridges crossing the Pasig-Marikina River and Manggahan Floodway. The government has requested international loan financing for the project since June 6, 2018.     There were also plans for other bridges such as the Mercury-Evangelista Bridge, the J.P. Rizal-Lopez Jaena Bridge, as well as the BGC-Ortigas Link, all meant to reduce traffic and improve travel time between Pasig and nearby cities in Metro Manila, among others.     Likewise, Go told the TODA in Pasig that they could also benefit from his advocacy to improve the delivery of health services in the country, particularly through the establishment of Malasakit Center.     A program of the Duterte administration based on Go’s idea, the Malasakit Center makes it easier and faster for poor patients to avail of medical and financial assistance by bringing together in one room all concerned agencies such as DOH, DSWD, PCSO, and Philhealth.     “Kung may magkakasakit na TODA o kanilang pamilya pwede po silang matulungan sa Malasakit Center,” Go said. Out of the 34 Malasakit Center currently in operation, three are in the NCR.     Go is pushing for a law to enable the establishment of Malasakit Center in more provinces and key urban centers in the country and allow continuity of the program even after the term of the Duterte administration.     He vowed to serve the Filipino people the best way he could, saying “Bisyo ko na po ang magserbisyo.”     “Magseserbisyo kami (ni Pangulong Duterte) sa inyong lahat. Serbisyo sa tao ay serbisyo sa Diyos. Wala kaming ibang hangarin kundi kabutihan ng Pilipino dahil mahal namin kayo,” Go said.     Other priority concerns Go had identified to be part of his legislative agenda include agriculture, housing, education, long-term sports development, fire protection and prevention, localized peace talks, barangay welfare, creation of a Department of OFW, and improved benefits for senior citizens.

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BSP eyes April inflation between 2.7-3.5%

May 3, 2019

HIGHER domestic fuel and electricity prices are seen as upside risks to the country's April 2019 inflation, which is projected to stay between 2.7-3.5 percent.     “However, these pressures may be partly offset by the continued decline in rice prices and by the peso appreciation,” the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said in a statement Tuesday.     “Moving forward, the BSP will continue to closely monitor evolving price trends and will undertake necessary measures towards its commitment to price stability,” it added.     The rate of price increases has been on the downtrend after peaking at 6.7 percent in September to October 2018.     Last March, it decelerated to 3.3 percent from month-ago’s 3.8 percent, bringing the average rate in the first quarter this year to 3.8 percent.     Monetary officials forecast this year’s inflation to average at 3 percent, the middle of the 2 to 4 percent target band until 2022.     Meanwhile, ING Bank Manila senior economist Nicholas Mapa forecasts inflation this month at 3 percent.     In a research note, the economist said rice prices, which has a 9 percent weight on Philippines’ consumer price index (CPI), has declined, with the year-on-year change in the price of regular milled rice down by 0.90 percent.     With this development, “we can expect headline inflation to remain subdued,” he said.     Mapa, however, noted that utility rates have increased.     Mapa said inflation has been declining amid the 31.6 percent year-to-date uptick in price of Dubai crude oil and the 24.6 percent rise in domestic diesel prices.     He said both the inflation forecasts and expectations point to within target inflation rate in the next two years.     “Given BSP Governor (Benjamin) Diokno's recent remarks hinting at a rate cut (and RRR reduction) within the year, we expect that we are getting closer to the central bank finally reversing its ultra-aggressive stance of yesteryear,” he added. (PNA)

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PNB to acquire bank to boost consumer finance biz

May 3, 2019

THE Tan-led Philippine National Bank (PNB) targets to acquire a bank to further strengthen its consumer finance.     In a briefing Tuesday, PNB president and chief executive officer Jose Arnulfo Veloso said they are on the lookout for a bank that “can bring PNB to the next level”, noting that this is the trend among other financial institutions in the country.     He said PNB has a large customer base in the commercial banking space and local corporate space and most of about two-thirds of their branches are in the provinces.     “We would like to be able to have a good consumer finance business which currently is lower than industry…so if we are going to find a bank that we will be able to acquire, our focus will be a financial institution that would complement that business opportunity that we would like to develop,” he said.     Veloso said this decision was made since “the top end and large corporates are overbanked.”     He said foreign banks are now additional competitors for the large corporates after the industry’s liberalization in 2014.     “The commercial banking space will eventually be challenged and that is where PNB is very strong that is why we are putting the savings bank back into the bank to allow ourselves to have a very good cover of the consumer finance business locally and also to be able to allow our overseas Filipino customers the ability to have a referral back of consumer finance needs into the country,” he said.     He said “on a forward basis, we’ve always been interested to make the Filipino people who are taking the services of money lending investors be a business the PNB will be able to cover on a long term basis.”     He said they aim to have a joint venture with an industry expert to “be able to allow us to have the ability to understand the business, to be able to set up the proper collection and risk taking methodologies (and) to allow us to then be able to be prepared going forward.”     Veloso said they are open to having a strategic partner that will have about 20 to 25 percent share in PNB but clarified that this is not their focus right now.     Veloso said they are set to come out with a digital platform to further reach more customers both here and overseas. (PNA)

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Nueva Ecija welcomes adopted son Bong Go as he vows to promote welfare of farmers

May 3, 2019

The people of Nueva Ecija on Thursday welcomed with open arms their adopted son, former Special Assistant to the President and 2019 senatorial candidate Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, on his return to the province.     It could be recalled that last January 14, 2019 the provincial board adopted a resolution declaring Go as an adopted son of the province, citing his work as former special assistant of President Rodrigo Duterte, his role in bringing the concerns of the people to the Chief Executive and his continued support of the province.     Go started his day in Nueva Ecija meeting local farmers and sharing a meal with them in a “boodle fight,” also taking the opportunity to listen to their concerns. He then went around the cities of Gapan and Cabatanuan, met in many places by cheering residents out in the streets, chanting his name.     “Nagpapasalamat po ako dahil isa akong adopted son ng Nueva Ecija. Maraming salamat po sa mga taga-Nueva Ecija sa napakainit na pagtanggap ninyo sa akin, sing-init ng panahon ngayon. Napakataas ng temperatura dito sa Nueva Ecija subalit sa sobrang init ng pagtanggap nila sa akin nakakawala ng pagod at masaya po ako na napapangiti natin sila,” Go said in an ambush interview.     Go assured the people of the province, considered as the “Rice Granary of the Philippines” that agriculture is among the top priorities under his legislative agenda and that he would support all government programs that would not only promote agriculture but also uplift the lives of farmers.     “Gagawin po namin lahat ni Pangulong Duterte in the next three years po kung anong maitutulong namin dito. Especially kanina marami pong mga hinaing ang ating mga farmers dito, (kabilang na )yung patubig. Sabi ko hindi ko po kayo pabababayaan,” Go said.     “Isa po sa aking priority ang agriculture at itong free irrigation program naman po ni Pangulong Duterte ay tuloy-tuloy po ito at susuportahan ko po ito,” he added.     Among others, Go said he would look for means to help provide alternative sources of water for farmers and conduct extensive consultation as well as information dissemination to the people of the province on the status of irrigation projects in the area.     He added that proper consultation and information dissemination are important to ensure that their concerns are properly addressed and they are informed of the governments projects available for them to benefit from.     Go had earlier called for pro-active measures to mitigate the effects of perennial El Niño phenomenon not only through expanded irrigation services but also the conduct of cloud-seeding operations.     The former SAP also said he would look into the concerns the farmers have referred to him.     “May ibinigay po silang sulat at isa po siguro ito sa pag-aaralan natin kung papano nga natin sila matutulungan. Marami po silang inabot na sulat sa akin .…Ang ibinigay kong assurance sa kanila ay ang interest nila ay uunahin po namin ni Pangulong Duterte,” Go said.     As part of his legislative agenda for agriculture, Go is pushing for improved government support for farmers including access to cheaper fertilizers, climate-resistant seeds, as well as low-interest credit facilities through a simplified process.     He is also proposing to conduct agri-entrepreneurship skills training for farmers and their families to open opportunities for additional livelihood instead of relying mostly on farming.     “So rest assured po in the next three years, (kayong) mga farmers po dito sa Nueva Ecija, ako po ang patuloy ninyong magiging tulay kay Pangulong Duterte at marami po akong isusulong na batas sa kapakanan po ng ating mga farmers,” Go said.     Specifically, Go said he would support infrastructure programs of the administration that would be beneficial to the agriculture sector and the farmers not only in Nueva Ecija but in adjacent provinces.     Among others, Go cited the Lower Agno River Irrigation System Improvement Project, a P46-million diversion-type irrigation dam meant to improve delivery of water supply, increase agricultural productivity and farmer’s income and generate employment in the region. Notice to proceed for the project was issued last August 2018.     “Andyan din po ang Dalton Pass East Alignment Alternative Road Project na magdudugtong sa Nueva Ecija at Nueva Vizcaya para mapabilis ang biyahe ninyo at ang pagdadala ng mga produkto,” Go pointed out.     The P4.7-billion project, which calls for the construction of a 60-kilometer bypass road network connecting the two provinces, is expected to be completed by 2025.     Go also pointed to the Central Luzon Link Expressway, a P14.9-million project for a four-lane, 30-kilometer expressway connecting Tarlac and Cabanatuan City, meant to shorten travel time between the two cities from 1 hour and 10 minutes to just 20 minutes. It is expected to be finished by 2020.     The former SAP noted that Nueva Ecija has already benefitted from various projects of the Duterte administration, including the construction and concreting of several farm-to-market roads, and deep-well water system, and the construction of several government buildings.     Go also assured the people of Nueva Ecija of his firm commitment to support President Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs, criminality and corruption.     “Ipagpapatuloy ko po ang mga pagbabagong nasimulan ni Pangulong Duterte, lalong-lalo na po yung kampanya laban sa corruption, kampanya laban sa kriminalidad, at kampanya laban sa iligal na droga,” Go said.     In addition, Go said that part of his legislative agenda is the effort to improve the delivery of health services in the country, particularly through the establishment of Malasakit Center.     A program of the Duterte administration based on Go’s idea, the Malasakit Center makes it easier and faster for poor patients to avail of medical and financial assistance from the government by bringing together in one room concerned agencies such as DOH, DSWD, PCSO and Philhealth.     “Mayroon na po tayong 34 na Malasakit Center sa buong bansa at isa ay nandito sa Nueva Ecija. Gusto ko sanang maisabatas ito para tuloy-tuloy ang programa kahit hindi na pangulo si Pangulong Duterte at madagdagan pa ang ating mga Malasakit Center sa ibang lugar sa Pilipinas,” Go said.     Other priority concerns Go have identified to be part of his legislative agenda for the Senate include housing for the poor, education, long-term sports development, fire protection and prevention, barangay welfare, creation of a Department of OFW and improved benefits for senior citizens.     The former SAP said he is ready to serve the Filipinos the way he served President Duterte for over 21 years.     “Ang bisyo ko po magserbisyo. Naniniwala ako na ang serbisyo sa tao, serbisyo sa Diyos. Wala po kaming ibang hangarin ni Pangulong Duterte kundi kabutihan ng bawat Pilipino dahil mahal namin kayo,” he said.

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Facebook launches 'Digital Tayo' to train 1 million Filipinos by 2020

May 3, 2019

Facebook in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and civil society partners launched Digital Tayo, a nationwide digital literacy program that aims to develop skills that enable Filipinos to create a positive and safe culture online.     Digital Tayo is the local adaptation of Facebook's recently launched 'We Think Digital', a global digital literacy program, with resources aimed at helping people think critically and share thoughtfully online. The program's learning resources are designed to help people whether they're new to the Internet or a digital native who wants to learn more or improve their digital skills. Facebook and its partners from government, civil society groups, and communities aim to conduct online and in-person training sessions for a million Filipino netizens by the end of 2020.     “Digital literacy has traditionally focused on helping people learn to use computers, get jobs, or access information from the Internet. But there is a greater need to consider how we are plugging into a global community and connecting with people, not just information. 'Digital Tayo' is more than digital literacy. It's about ‘digital citizenship'. It is designed to help Filipinos with vital skills such as critical thinking, empathy, and being adept at using tools for online safety and well-being,” said Clair Deevy, Facebook's Director of Community Affairs for the APAC Region.     “We are glad to be one of Facebook's partners in launching Digital Tayo for Filipinos, and to help answer the critical question: “What does it mean to be a digital citizen?” We look forward to working with our partners as we equip our learners, teachers and personnel with the much-needed skills for creating a responsible and safe community online,” says Secretary Leonor Briones of the Department of Education.     The program comes at a crucial time in the Philippines as Filipinos were reported to be spending the most time online worldwide at 10 hours and 2 minutes everyday. Internet users from the Philippines are also the heaviest users of social media, spending an average of 4 hours and 12 minutes, compared to the worldwide average of 2 hours and 16 minutes.[1]      In a recent YouGov survey commissioned by Facebook [2], Filipino respondents were asked about how they deal with negative experiences online. More Filipinos said they were willing to listen and try to understand other people's viewpoints in face to face conversations (58%); but less in an online argument (37%).      When they encountered hate speech, 40% of respondents said that they ignored it, while 28% reported it to social networks.      Digital Tayo aims to further strengthen the Filipinos' understanding of the online landscape and in turn help them become even more informed digital citizens. The program's learning modules are designed to equip people with skills, including the ability to think critically about what they see online, how to communicate respectfully, and engage in digital discourse. These modules will be rolled out in the coming months to students and youth leaders in partnership with DepEd, to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) through OWWA, to local communities through the Department of ICT, and in training programs to be mounted by Facebook's partners from civil society.     Topics that will be covered include privacy, safety, security, digital discourse and knowing your digital footprint, organized in four modules:     •    What Is the Internet? An explanation of the internet and social media, how they work, and the importance of digital citizenship.     •    Your Digital Footprint: All you need to know about safety and security online and managing your digital footprint.     •    Be a Critical Thinker: Helping you to discern different types of information and develop critical thinking and empathy when communicating online.     •    You as a Digital Citizen: Insights into digital discourse and the differences between interacting online versus offline, your rights and responsibilities, as well as internet concepts like netiquette, being a creator, copyright and plagiarism.     To learn more about Digital Tayo and its modules, log on to: https://digitaltayo.fb.com/

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