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‘Realistic’ wage hike for workers urged

May 2, 2019

THE business sector is urging regional wage boards to come up with a "realistic" wage hike for workers that will ensure improvement of their living conditions but at the same time will not unduly burden entrepreneurs so the inflow of investments can be sustained.     Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) chairman emeritus Francis Chua said labor groups seeking for wage increases must work with the government to arrive at a wage structure that will be amenable to both the business and labor sectors.     “Labor groups should work with the government to come up with realistic wage hike. Any wage increases should be in level with the strong purchasing power of peso for it to become sustainable,” Chua said.     “We are hoping that the tripartite board will be able to come up with a compromise solution on the wage increase issue,” Chua stated as he expressed concern that any wage increases might cause significant inflationary effects that will affect the operations of businesses in the country.     The Philippine Statistics Authority reported earlier this month that the inflation rate for March has declined to 3.3 percent which is the lowest level in 15 months due to easing food prices.     The business leader noted that higher labor costs are a significant factor that the Philippines has lower foreign investments compared to its neighboring countries in the Asian region.     “Investments go to other countries such as China because of lower labor costs,” according to Chua.     The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas recently reported that net inflows of foreign direct investments declined by 38.2 percent year on year to USD609 million in January this year from $986 million in the same period last year due to the worsening trade war between the United States and China which resulted in investors pulling out their funds from local equities markets.     The TUCP stated that minimum wage in Metro Manila will increase to P1,247 per day if their petition is approved by the tripartite wage board.     The minimum wage for Metro Manila workers is currently set at P537 per day.     The TUCP is also set to file separate wage hike petitions in other regions within the week. (PNA)

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Marcos human rights victims get another P78K checks

May 2, 2019

BUTUAN City — Human rights victims at the height of Marcos regime atrocities in the countryside in Caraga region in the 1980s patiently queued at the regional office of the Commission on Human Rights here on Wenesday to claim P78,000 checks each from American human rights lawyer Robert Swift.     The third tranche of distribution of checks were personally handed over by Swift to at least 140 recipients belonging to a group called “Claimants 1081” which he fought for years in Hawaii.     Swift’s law firm has already given individual checks to the human rights victims in 2011 with P43,000 each and in 2013 with P50,000 each from the court settlements of Marcos ill-gotten wealth.     Swift expects about 90 percent of the claimants will come at the CHR office to get their checks which will end at noon Thursday mostly whose ages range from 60 up to 80 years old.     He considered the percentage of response was still enough considering that the notices were sent through the snail-paced Philippine Postal Corporation mail system.     Another problem Swift’s local team faced was some of the claimants never updated their addresses that the notice documents would return to them.     He noted one young recipient named “Jerry” was allowed to get his late father’s claim after he complied the requirements of providing a Special Power of Attorney and a death certificate.     Lucresia Monte, 64, whose younger brother was one of 12 innocent civilians massacred by members of the dreaded “Lost Command”, a private army anticommunist group in June 23, 1983 in the village of Lucena in Prosperidad town  in Agusan del Sur said she never received a letter from the local postal office.     But she was lucky enough that her daughter who works in Manila sent a text message to her that she read a Facebook post about the distribution of checks is set on May 1 for Caraga region claimants.     Some others however went home empty handed.     Norma Montenegro, 62, whose farmer husband Max Victor was summarily executed by the elements of the defunct Philippine Constabulary in the woods in the village of Layog in Tago town in Surigao del Sur in 1983 was not among listed in the claim documents sheets prepared by Swift’s staff.     Leonor Ledesma Jr., Training Specialist IV at CHR Caraga, said Montenegro was among several claimants who came to their office in 2011 and 2013 who were not listed as “Claimants 1081” beneficiaries because of lacking of necessary documents.     A check on her documents tucked on a folder showed only an affidavit from her neighbor  Remedios Azarcon duly notarized by a lawyer testifying that she witnessed how Max Victor was tortured and later summarily executed months later in 1983.     Monte however explained to Montenegro that she had indeed lacked documents like a certification from the Barangay officials to verify that there was a gruesome massacre incident that occurred on the date and a police blotter records from the municipal police station.     “I never wasted time to get these documents in 1983 since I thought this could be useful in seeking justice for the death of my brother,” Mont said.     She recalled her brother Felix who was then aged 24 was frisked by the heavily-armed Lost Command bandits towards the Barangay Hall where he and 11 other civilians purportedly teaching them how to fire a rifle but it turned out that the gunman at the stage peppered the victims with magazines of bullets.     “The gunman who saw my brother still gasping for breath finished him off at his head and even mutilated his organs,” she recalled.     The victims were later hauled off a truck by the National Irrigation Administration and brought at the back of the town hall where they were buried on a mass grave.

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Peace, security contribute to NorMin economic growth

May 2, 2019

CAMP EVANGELISTA – Northern Mindanao ranked seventh among the fastest growing regional economies in the Philippines, and second in Mindanao after Davao Region based on the media forum of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA 10) held April 25, 2019 in Cagayan de Oro City.     The activity was spearheaded by NEDA 10 Director Mylah Faye Aurora Cariño and participated by Wimla Guillen, Assistant National Statistician of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), PSA-10 chief Janith Aves, representatives from other government agencies in the region and members of the media.     Based on the presentation of Cariño, the 2018 Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) of Northern Mindanao has increased to 7 percent from 5.8 percent in 2017.     “Among the three major economic industries, Services like manufacture, transport and communication remained to have the largest share of the region’s economy with 44.1 percent, followed by Industry 35.6 percent and Agriculture, Hunting, Forestry and Fishing with 20.3 percent," Cariño said.     Also, the poverty of Northern Mindanao drastically decreased from 35 percent in 2017 to 25 percent in the 1st semester of 2018.     Dir. Cariño added that if the region wants to continue with its economic growth, peace and security must be maintained and prioritized.     “Peace, public security and safety must be number one on our considerations in order for Northern Mindanao to continue its growth. If we won’t have public law and order we will lose investors and the economy will significantly decrease,” Cariño emphasized.     Maj. Gen. Franco Nemesio M Gacal, commander 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division said, “I am very happy that the 4th ID has contributed in the increase of the economy of Region 10 in 2018 by upholding peace. We assure our people that 4ID will continue with our mandate in pursuing long-lasting peace and development in Northern Mindanao and in CARAGA region.”     “I am confident that Region's Convergence Areas on Peace and Development (CAPDev) will be able to help Northern Mindanao in its growth into becoming developed and conflict-resilient,” he added.

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Thousands flock CdO Labor Day jobs fair

May 2, 2019

THOUSANDS of job seekers from Northern Mindanao joined this year’s Labor Day Mega Job Fair held at the Atrium of Limketkai Center, in Cagayan de Oro City.     Rachel Ann Fuentes was one of the applicants hoping to land a job on labor day. To increase her chances of getting hired, Fuentes submitted her applications and requirements to three different companies.     Lawyer Joffrey Suyao, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) regional director, said around 5,000 local and 11,000 overseas jobs from 132 participating companies were opened to job seekers on labor day.     Government agencies, particularly the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine Army (PA), and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), also opened around 12,000 vacancies.      Security guards, factory workers, call center officers, and customer service specialists were among the top local vacancies available.     Kisscel Joy Dumandan was happy when she was hired-on-the-spot as call center agent of Abyss Virtual Assistant Services. “Pasalamat nalang pud ko nga na hired dayon ko kay kailangan nako ang trabaho (I’m very thankful that I’m hired immediately because I need a job),” she said. Director Suyao     Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-X Director Joffrey Suyao says more than 28,000 job vacancies from 132 participating companies are up for grabs during the 117thLabor Day celebration in Cagayan de Oro. (PIA/Cagayan de Oro)     Alquezon Ano-os, a resident of Maigo, Lanao del Norte, was also hired-on-the-spot as a salesman in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He said he applied for work abroad due to his previous experience as an overseas worker.       As of twelve noon on Labor Day, DOLE Region X reported that 2,250 applicants have registered and 20 of them were hired-on-the-spot.     A one-stop shop was also set-up at the Atrium of Limketkai Center to help applicants in their pre-employment requirements.     Aside from the mega job fair, the 117th labor celebration in Cagayan de Oro was also highlighted by the livelihood and business fair organized by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as well as free Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) enrollment and skills demonstration spearheaded by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).     DTI Region 10 Director Linda Boniao said the livelihood and business fair will not only promote local products and businesses but also multiply the workforce by bringing employment opportunities in the informal sector through entrepreneurship.     Tesda Region 10 Director Tarhata Mapandi, on the other hand, said Tesda offered 1,800 scholarship slots worth Php14 million through the 52 participating TVET providers in the region.

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AboitizPower Q1 net income dips by 9% to P3.6 billion

May 2, 2019

AboitizPower recorded a consolidated net income of P3.6 billion for the first quarter of 2019, 9% lower than the P4 billion recorded for the same period last year.     Non-recurring losses amounting to P440 million were recognized during the period, compared to the P1.2 billion in non-recurring losses recorded during the same period last year. Without these one-off losses, core net income for the first quarter of 2019 was P4.1 billion, 21% lower year-on-year (YoY), which was largely due to the higher volume and cost of purchased power.     Spot market prices were exceptionally high during the first three months of 2019, and the company purchased replacement power due to outages and over-contracting in preparation for Therma Visayas, Inc. (TVI) coming online. The company recorded consolidated earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) of P10.4 billion for the period, 13% lower than the P11.9 billion for the first quarter of 2018.     “It has been a challenging first quarter for the industry and AboitizPower. The planned maintenance shutdown of power plants in preparation for the upcoming elections, coupled with forced outages, resulted in the grid's thinning reserves. Despite this, our customers remain our top priority and we ensured delivery of replacement power from the spot market,” said Emmanuel V. Rubio, AboitizPower Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. Generation and Retail Electricity Supply     AboitizPower’s generation and retail supply business recorded a consolidated EBITDA of P8.6 billion in the first quarter of 2019, 15% lower than the P10.1 billion recorded during the same period last year. This was primarily due to higher volume and cost of purchased power. As previously mentioned, spot market prices were high during the first quarter of 2018, and the company purchased replacement power caused by outages and over-contracting in preparation for TVI’s incoming capacity addition.     Capacity sold for the first quarter decreased by 7% YoY, from 3,174 megawatts (MW) in 2018 to 2,947 MW in 2019.     “We are excited with new supply contracts and new power plants that have started to deliver power to the grid, which should contribute to our bottom line starting this year,” Rubio said.     “We will continue to pursue our renewable energy projects as we look forward to the implementation of the Green Energy Option Program and Renewable Portfolio Standards. We are committed to continue providing the country with adequate power supply that is affordable and sustainable,” Rubio added. Distribution     AboitizPower’s distribution business, meanwhile, recorded consolidated EBITDA of P1.9 billion, 3% higher than the P1.8 billion recorded last year.  The company saw energy sales increase to 1,343 gigawatt-hours (GWh), which was 3% higher than the 1,298 GWh recorded in the first quarter of 2018.  This was driven by the increase in new customers across all segments.  About AboitizPower     AboitizPower is the holding company for the Aboitiz Group’s investments in power generation, distribution, and retail electricity services. It advances business and communities by providing reliable and ample power supply at a reasonable and competitive price, and with the least adverse effects on the environment and host communities.     The company is one of the largest power producers in the Philippines with a balanced portfolio of assets located across the country. It is a major producer of Cleanergy, its brand for clean and renewable energy with several hydroelectric, geothermal and solar power generation facilities. It also has thermal power plants in its generation portfolio to support the baseload and peak energy demands of the country.     The company also owns distribution utilities that operate in high-growth areas in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, including the second and third largest private utilities in the country.

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Filinvest assist local students overcome reading difficulties

May 2, 2019

FILINVEST’S FDC Misamis Power Corporation (FDC Misamis), owner and operator of the biggest baseload plant in Mindanao, has partnered with Mohon Elementary School (MES) in Tagoloan town, Misamis Oriental to improve the reading proficiency of local students.      The collaboration was made possible through MES’ Active Stakeholders Participation in Reading Engagement (ASPIRE) Program.      ASPIRE, which was conceptualized by the MES’ General Parents-Teachers Association (GPTA) and is in partnership with the Barangay Council of Mohon, is a tutorial program intended for poor reader and non-reader students of MES.      Launched last year, the program aims to improve the literacy rate of MES students through the active participation of teachers, parents and other community stakeholders within the area such as private entities like FDC Misamis. The management of FDC Misamis welcomed the opportunity and allowed employees to tutor students based on their available schedules.      FDC Misamis is the pioneering private institution who welcomes this partnership according to school principal, Dr. Carnila Simacon.      This, as FDC Misamis wants to contribute something positive to the Department of Education’s (DepEd) flagship initiative dubbed as “Every Child A Reader Program.” For its initial participation, FDC Misamis employee-volunteers took under their wings five poor-reader six grader pupils earlier last month.      The beneficiaries are graduating students who are under conditional status and must improve their reading skills in the next two months for them to move up to seventh grade. “It’s sad to note that our five beneficiaries have great difficulty knowing the (basic) sounding of the letters in our alphabet,” shared Analiza Miso, FDC Misamis’ Community Relations Specialist, who’s acting as one of the tutors.      “But the kids are showing enthusiasm learning how to identify letters, its sounding, and of course, the proper pronunciation, through our help and encouragement,” Miso added. Five weeks into the program, the students are showing a lot of improvements in their reading skills. One volunteer, Kim Orquillas, FDC Misamis’ Assistant Community Relations Specialist, narrates the changes he observed from the students. “I am very happy and most of all, there is a feeling of fulfillment that after four consecutive Mondays of teaching the kids, I realized that the time and effort I spent with them were never wasted, because I can see that they can now identify letters, phonics and words they have difficulty reading before,” said Orquillas.     MES and other community partners are happy for the developments of the students. They are hopeful that the program will yield positive results in eliminating illiteracy in the community. “What a great help! We’re blessed. And we’re thankful, indeed that FDC Misamis is here to help us teach our non-readers,” said Simacon. Simple but very helpful, was how Francis Jerson Sabio, punong barangay of Mohon in Tagoloan tagged the program.     “Hoping then that FDC Misamis is one among those who can help cure an ‘appalling’ joke that Philippines is a nation of poor-readers,” said Sabio.      FDC Misamis then disclosed plans to continue the tutorial program in the coming years and will be under its Corporate Social Responsibility’s (CSR) “Education for Empowerment” pillar. The program will be replicated to other public elementary schools situated in Tagoloan and Villanueva and will accommodate non-readers and poor-readers from grades one to six.

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