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POST COVID-19 SCENARIO: Mindanao biz groups set eco revival plans

April 21, 2020

THE Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry has endorsed to the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases a resolution from its regional chambers in Mindanao detailing suggestions for the resumption of economic activities in the island. Previously, PCCI Mindanao submitted recommendation to mitigate the spread of COVID 19, as well as mechanisms to cushion the impact on MSME’s of business disruptions in the two (2) Resolutions endorsed by the PCCI National Board. Ma. Teresa R. Alegrio, PCCI Area Vice President for Mindanao, noted how the Mindanao chambers have been in the thick of the fight against the novel coronavirus since the pandemic started. “Our LCCIs (Local Chambers of Commerce and Industry) in Mindanao have contributed to the distribution of food packs and supported the production of PPEs for health care workers and frontliners, and local Universities in the production of rubbing alcohol and sodium hydrochlorite (disinfectant) for key hospitals and offices,” Alegrio said. “On top of this, our LCCIs initiated Rolling “Kadiwa” Stores in key cities and provinces which have enabled barangay residents to have access to basic commodities without needlessly exposing themselves in crowded super and public markets, thus helping LGUs enforce Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ)” she added. Not the least, Alegrio noted how the Regional Chambers and LCCIs established a Trade Information Exchanges and logistic network for communities under ECQ to provide basic commodities such as rice, vegetables, wet meat products, canned goods and alcohol to LGUs outside the main urban centers. Resolution # 2020-003 noted how the LCCIs in Mindanao have been actively participating in the local Disaster Risk Management and Mitigation Councils and have advised their members across all sectors to prepare a rapid impact assessment on the displacement of workers as well as business disruption losses arising from the enforcement of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). Furthermore, the LCCIs have also been advised to prepare their respective Contingency and Recovery Plans on the following scenarios:  1) Extension of Enhance Community Quarantine (ECQ); 2) Selective Lifting of the ECQ; or 3) Lifting of Travel Restrictions; Among the measures endorsed for adoption under the resolution are expanding the membership of the  IATF-EID to include private sector groups in the planning and formulation of specific guidelines on how  the ECQ should be properly lifted in a manner that will not compromise the life and livelihood of the people; For the IATF-EID to strictly enjoin the LGUs to enforce the quarantine measures to be consistent with the national directives, specifically on the exemption of vital and essential services like food, utilities and health in the areas where the ECQ cannot yet be lifted; For  the DOH, DA, &DTI  to ensure the protection of the food supply chain in Mindanao - from production, manufacturing and logistics by giving workers in this sector first priority in mass screening, contact tracing, provision of quarantine facilities and eventually provision of vaccines; For the DOF to prioritize funding allocation and procurement of services for all pending DPWH-DTI ROLL-IT projects to efficiently transport raw materials from agricultural areas to the main processing or manufacturing centers; For DICT to make available to local/Private Telecommunications Companies, Cable TV, Internet and Value Added Service Providers their existing tower facilities and infrastructure including unused internet bandwidth, to fast track deployment of broadband internet services to the underserved areas of the country, thereby fulfilling its mandate of bringing information and communications technology to all Filipinos; For DICT to enjoin NEA to roll back its recent rate increase in Pole Rental Fees collected through rural electric cooperatives, thereby reducing the costs for Telcos, Cable TV and Internet Service providers in the deployment of essential information and telecommunications services in the country; For the Board of Investments and the LGUs to provide incentives to companies that will invest in health care-related projects including conversion of commercial spaces to quarantine facilities and construction of  sanitary  landfills, and for the importation of special equipment for the proper disposal of infectious and pathological wastes of hospitals and households; For the DTI to engage LCCIs in the development, implementation and harmonization of economic stimulus programs in their respective localities and adjacent regions; For Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to encourage commercial banks to allow restructuring and rescheduling of Current Loan Payments for both private and government banks, and to extend the due dates of Credit Card payments without penalties for a 3-month duration, irrespective whether the account is updated or not; For the DOF to allocate funds from The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act for the purpose of absorbing the cost by the banks to lower the interest rate for new commercial loans to encourage new economic activities related to food production and manufacturing of health related equipment; For the DTI to increase the Loan Availment Cap of the  Small Business Corporation’s Enterprise Rehabilitation Facility from P500,000 to P25,000,000; For the DTI to extend technical assistance and financial support to LCCIs in the preparation of Business Continuity Plans so that the same can be disseminated to MSMEs in their localities who may wish to apply for commercial loans through the Small Business Corporation; For the DTI, DOST and DOLE to immediately implement Retooling and Re-Training Programs for MSME companies and workers of sectors belonging to non-essential goods and services; For the DILG, DTI and DA to encourage LGUs in rural areas to give preference to the agricultural products of local farmers, fisher folks, and livestock producers over the usual processed food (canned goods and noodles) in the food assistance packs distributed to their constituents; For the DOST to extend  funding and technical support for Research and Development to City and State Colleges, Universities and Technical schools related to health care efforts that may directly impact the area’s COVID-19 response; For the DOLE and POEA to subsidize the hotels and restaurants that may utilized as quarantine facilities for incoming OFWs once the travel restriction is lifted; For the Department of Tourism (DOT) and its aligned agencies like TPB (Tourism Promotions Board) and TIEZA (Tourism Infrastructure Estate Zone Authority) to create a Technical Working Group composed of tourism stakeholders/organizations to study and develop a Business Recovery Plan focusing on the domestic tourism market. “Additional inputs may be considered in the next resolution once the IATF has released guidelines on the extension or selective lifting of ECQ,” Alegrio noted. The resolution was signed in behalf of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry affiliate Chambers in Mindanao on 15April 2020 by Ma. Teresa R. Alegrio, PCCI Area Vice President for Mindanao; and the following PCCI Regional Governors with their respective areas: Arturo Milan (South Eastern Mindanao); Pete Marquez (Central Mindanao); Cioney Paqueo (Eastern Mindanao); Roderico Bioco (Northern Mindanao); Paul Gudmalin (Western Mindanao); Loreta Sy (South Western Mindanao); Aldrin Ibbo (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Mindanao) and Elpidio M. Paras, President of Promote NorMin Foundation. There are about 45 PCCI local Chambers of Commerce (LCCIs) in Mindanao, around 90 percent of whose members belong to the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) whose capitalization range from P3M-100M with large companies making up some 10 percent of chamber members. (RMB)

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Bizman denies illegal financial scheme

April 21, 2020

A CAGAYAN de Oro trader has denied involvement in an illegal financial scheme operating online. In a radio interview, Joshua Calderon, chief executive officer of Jocals688 Beauty and Wellness Products Trading Inc., said his business is legally registered with the SEC. Jocals688, he said, is a networking company selling Jocals Gluta Glow Powdered Drink Mix, Jocals Green Coffee, and Jocals Vitamin C. Records from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) showed that Jocals688 was registered with the commission on October 9, 2019, under company registration no. CS201965099. In its media advisory, however, SEC said the company’s products are not registered with the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) and it has no license to operate (LTO) from FDA-Center for Food Regulation and Research. While Jocals688 is a duly SEC-registered entity, SEC said the firm is not allowed to engage in investment-taking activity by offering an investment of up P100,000 with a minimum investment of P10,000. “An investor is assured that even without any effort on his/her part, a 30 percent monthly return is guaranteed,” the agency said. SEC added a person could become a Jocals688 member by paying P3,980 that would entitle him or her a monthly return of 30 percent. The membership fee, SEC said, is inclusive of a bottle of juice, a box of coffee and a bottle of food supplement. The scheme employed by Jocals688 offers five different ways to earn money, which include direct selling, direct referral bonus, pairing bonus, "unilevel" bonus, and through buy and earn. “With the referral link of Jocals6888, one can recruit a member and earn [P500] for every successful registered account,” SEC said. In a separate radio interview, lawyer Renato Egypto, SEC-Cagayan de Oro chief, said there is no legal impediment if the company is into the business of selling products so long as these have legal permits. In response, Calderon said that he has secured an LTO from FDA although, he admitted, the certificate of product registration of his products is still “on-process.” He also clarified that his company is not engaged in a get-rich-quick financial investment scheme used by some groups to entice potential investors. “We are not into investment. What you earn is incentive when you buy products from us,” he said. SEC has reminded that “aside from the strict penalties imposed by the commission for violations of the Securities Regulation Code, the Revised Corporation Code, and such other rules and regulation it enforces, the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Republic Act No. 11469) also punishes those participating in cyber incidents that make use or take advantage of the current crisis situation to prey on the public through scams, phishing, fraudulent emails, or other similar acts.” “Those who act as salesmen, brokers, dealers or agents of the said entity in selling or convincing people to invest in the investment scheme it is being offered including soliciting investments or recruiting investors through the internet may be held criminally liable under Section 28 of the SRC and penalized with a maximum fine of Five Million Pesos (P5,000,000) or imprisonment of 21 years or both pursuant to Section 73 of the SRC (SEC vs. Oudine Santos, G.R. No. 195542, 19 March 2014),” it said. (PNA)

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Migz donates rapid test kits to hospitals in Mindanao

April 21, 2020

DAYS after being cleared of the dreaded 2019 coronavirus disease, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri has donated more than 6,000 antibody diagnostic kits to various hospitals in Mindanao. In Region 10, the senator's office donated at least 2,000 rapid test kits to the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) -- the region’s primary Covid-19 referral facility -- on Monday. The city government-run JR Borja General Hospital (JRBGH) also received on the same day some 200 pieces of the test kits through its chief of hospital, Dr. Ramon Nery. The kits are manufactured by the company Xiamen Boson Biotech Co. Ltd. based in Fujian, China. On its website, the company claims to be a specialist in the in-vitro diagnostic kits field, developing and manufacturing high-quality point-of-care and other immunoassay kits for the worldwide market. Zubiri, the Senate majority leader, was not able to attend the turnover due to the government-imposed travel restrictions. Yoyong Aquino, Zubiri's Special Assistant for Mindanao reported that the said 2,200 pieces of testing kits is worth PHP3 million, which comes from the personal contribution of the senator with some help of his closedfriends who don't want to be identified.  Meanwhile,another 2,000 kits will be distributed to Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center in his hometown Malaybalay City, while Zubiri's staff also donated 1,000 kits in Caraga Regional Hospital in Surigao City.  Cotabato Regional and Medical Center in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) will also receive another 1,000 kits on April 21. The kits given to selected Mindanao hospitals is the second wave of donation made by Zubiri after he spearheaded a donation of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test kits to the Philippine General Hospital through the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health early this month. “If we only focus on Metro Manila, we cannot defeat the Covid,” Zubiri said in a statement. “The longer we hold other regions back from massive testing, the higher the chances that the virus will continue to spread there, even with community quarantine. We can’t afford for that to happen. We must address this as soon as possible,” he added. The donated kits are the same rapid antibody test kits promoted by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte which can be used in the absence of testing laboratories. “I know the gold standard of testing for Covid-19 are the PCR test kits, like those we donated to PGH. But in the absence of accredited laboratories across the country, these rapid test kits will have to do for now,” Zubiri said. The lawmaker was referring to the RT-PCR or the real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, a nuclear-derived method for detecting the presence of specific genetic material from any pathogen, including a virus. He also acknowledged the need for nationwide testing, believing that it’s the only way health officials can properly identify the scope of the virus, "and the only way the whole nation can begin to eliminate it." Dr. Adriano Suba-an, DOH-10 director, said the health department is using RT-PCR as the preferred method of detection of the coronavirus. However, Suba-an said the rapid test kits would still be used "for some other purposes that is going to help us make a decision for our doctors." Suba-an has assured that the Boson Biotech test kits are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but these will not be used for mass testing of persons suspected of being infected with the coronavirus. During the daily press briefing on Monday, Mayor Oscar Moreno expressed gratitude to Zubiri for donating the rapid test kits. “This is his gesture, after having gone through this trauma of being (Covid-19) positive. I’m sure he did not want others to experience the same,” Moreno said. On March 16, Zubiri tested positive for Covid-19 after sitting on a Senate hearing where an infected person attended. The senator tested negative for the coronavirus during a second testing on April 12. (PNA)

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Marawi students, nakadawat hinabang gikan’s kapitolyo

April 21, 2020

NAHUPAY intawon sa ilang hilabihan nga kabalaka ug kagutom ang pipila ka magtutungha sa Mindanao State University (MSU) Marawi City, human sila makadawat og ayudang pinasiyal gikan sa panudlanan sa kapitolyo probinsiyal sa Misamis Oriental. Gikabutyag nga tag-P3,000 ang ilang nadawat gikan kang Gov. Bambi Emano, human maabtan sa lockdown sa lugar tungod sa coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).     Mikabat sa 17 ka magtutungha ug 1 ka magtutudlo ang stranded intawon sa Marawi tungod sa lockdown. Sila si Reynaldo Antipolo, Rodgen, Rosco, Karla Charizze Yu, Ed Vincent Loue Aloyon, Ruvie Pearl Araneta, Hummeegen Quidet, Softly Love Catayas, Joshua Miguel Amaton, Jezreel Martinez, Rosevie Ruarie Ramis, Honey Joyce Valmocina, Shiela May Saway, Rj Lagrosas, Jarol Del Anota, Necodiel Ganancial, Jolana Hope Pasicaran, ug Mitz Cruzada.     Pinaagi sa Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO), sa pagpangulo ni Mr. Jhunleymar Abella, gilayong nagpadala sa hinabang nga kwarta, aron maggamit sa stranded MSU students.     “Thank you, Misamis Oriental. Salamat kaayo sa dako nga hinabang nga among nadawatan nga maoy magsustento sa amoa,” sulti pa ni Rosco nga taga Opol. Si Rodgen Rosco, nga mulupyo sa Opol, usa sa mga studyante nga nakadawat sa ayuda gikan sa pangagamhanang lokal dako ang kalipay nga nakadawat siya sa giingong ayuda.  

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'Survival gardens' on forestlands pushed to ensure food supply

April 21, 2020

    MARAWI City – To cushion the impact of corona pandemic to food security, the Bangsamoro Government’s Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Energy (MENRE-BARMM) has begun establishing 'survival gardens' in forestlands across the Bangsamoro region.     The move is part of the Bangsamoro Government’s long-term plan to ensure food security in the region as stringent measures have been implemented to prevent the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) from further spreading.     BARMM Executive Secretary and concurrent MENRE-BARMM Minister Abdulraof Macacua released a memorandum order dated April 6, directing its MENRE workforce to establish food production areas in forestlands suitable for vegetables and short-term crops.      "This is in pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act No. 11469, otherwise known as the ‘Bayanihan to Heal as One Act’," Macacua said.     "This survival garden will serve as another source of food for the region’s constituents, helping them ease the shortage of food supply," he added.     Macacua said the implementation is region-wide through the Provincial Environment, Natural Resources and Energy (PENRE) officers and Palaw Rangers (Forest Rangers).     Some of the Palaw Rangers are former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants, who have been mobilized to aid in the region-wide establishment of the gardening program.     "They have already begun implementing the initiative in their respective communities early this month," he said.     The PENRE offices continue to identify suitable planting areas in BARMM that are strategically located close to forest-dependent communities and where access to water is available for easy watering in preparation for the season.     “Lubos ang aking pasasalamat sa PENRE Offices sa kanilang pag-implement ng massive food production program sa bawat probinsiya. Nagpapasalamat din kami sa suporta ng MAFAR-BARMM sa pangunguna ni Minister Mohammad S. Yacob sa kanilang pag-provide ng vegetable seeds,” Macacua said.     [I am very grateful to PENRE Offices for implementing a massive food production program in each province. We are also grateful for the support of MAFAR-BARMM under the leadership of Minister Mohammad S. Yacob in providing vegetable seeds.]     The Minister also encourages the Bangsamoro to practice vegetable gardening in their backyards during and even after the Enhanced Community Quarantine.     “Inaasahan namin na ang vegetable gardening na ito ay magpapatuloy hindi lang ngayong may pandemic,kundi pati na rin sa pang-araw-araw, dahil magiging malaking tulong ito sa bawat pamilya,” he added.     [We hope that this vegetable gardening will continue not only during this pandemic as it will be a great help to every family.] (BPI/PIA ICIC)

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Ramadan preparations up, no congregational prayer

April 19, 2020

    COTABATO City – The Bangsamoro Darul-Ifta announced on Thursday that moonsighting will be conducted simultaneously on Wednesday in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to signal the Muslim ‘ummah’ (community) of the start of the month of Ramadan.     Bangsamoro Grand Mufti Abuhuraira Udasan said if the crescent moon is sighted on April 22, Ramadan would start on April 23. If not, the holy month automatically starts on April 24.     “We will make an official announcement on April 22 at 8 p.m. through our official Facebook page and media partners,” Udasan said. Meanwhile, the Darul-Iftah released a religious guideline on Friday suspending the “Taraweeh” (special evening prayers) and all five times daily congregational prayers during Ramadan in all mosques in BARMM due to the threat posed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). “This is in compliance with the Islamic preventive measures, such as social distancing. In congregational prayers, the devotees stand up shoulder-to-shoulder. Social distancing is necessary to avoid contamination of the contagious virus,” Udasan said. The “fatwa” (religious guideline) cited a “hadith” (Islamic teaching) that says, “Don’t cause harm or return harm.” However, despite the temporary suspension of all congregational prayers, Udasan said families could perform the “Taraweeh” prayer in their respective homes. During Ramadan, Islam believers fast every day from dawn to sunset, which is described as a whole month of strengthening their faith to Allah. (PNA)  

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