Today's Top Stories

  • P36-M annual damages estimated | Rats threaten viability of Mindanao broadband network

    P36-M annual damages estimated | Rats threaten viability of Mindanao broadband network

    The continued roll-out of the national broadband network in Mindanao is being threatened by rats.      During the 126th Regional Development Council-X Full Council Meeting held virtually on 24 June 2021 via Zoom, Parasat Cable TV President and CEO Elpidio M. Paras reported that rat bites have been delaying the rollout of the broadband network between Cagayan de Oro to Davao.      Parasat is one of several telecommunications and Internet Service Provider (ISP) firms currently renting the utility poles of BUSECO and FIBECO to securing their fiber optic lines and equipment which are a vital infrastructure for the country’s ICT network.      “We are under contract with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Region X in building, maintaining and monitoring their internet access equipment which are now providing FreeWifi services to many municipalities, hospitals and State Colleges and Universities in Bukidnon. The fiber optic lines are our main cables which carry high speed internet connectivity to several sites in Bukidnon province,” Paras explained.      “Since last year, we have had several instances where our fiber optic lines were chewed, cut and affected by rodents (rats) which use the palm oil branches for access. In fact, late last year, we had to replace a 20 kilometer stretch of very expensive fiber optic cable which the rodents chewed on in at least 30 locations in Impasug-ong municipality alone,” he added.      Initially, Parasat were able to get permission to trim palm tree branches which in contact with the power and telecommunications lines. Estimated costs for repair and downtime every instance the lines were cut have now grown to millions of pesos.      However, Paras said within a week’s time last March, two events of rat bites on the 96F Fiber Mainline between Cagayan de Oro and Davao were again experienced.      “Our Maramag-Davao link went down on March 20, 2021 around 9:30 PM. Our response team traced the fault line at Brgy. Loriga, Kitaotao, Bukidnon beside Phoenix Gas Station and Seagull Resort. It is 117 meters from Enclosure 23 going to Maramag where rats chewed a portion of 96 Fiber core cable,” he reported. “It took the company 46 hours to replace the cable and enclosure to restore the link at an estimated cost of P350,000.”      Barely a week later, the Davao Monitoring Hub reported that the Cagayan de Oro to Davao line was down around 5 AM. The response team found damaged fiber cores at crossing going thru the National Highway at Impasug-ong, Bukidnon. This time, the damage was repaired after 9.5 hours at a total cost of P320,000.      “In summary, the latest downtime cost our company P670,000.00 in  less than a week,” Paras said. “Such a high incidence of fiber cuts due to rodent infestation is now becoming a major problem just for our operations between the Cagayan de Oro-Davao leg."      In the latest reported incidents on July 21, two fiber cut incidents were observed on  CDO -Gingoog  and CDO to Davao main fiber transport lines. One was caused by people cutting overgrown bamboo trees on the CDO- Butuan highway, and the other was caused by rodents chewing thru the 96 core fiber cable near Quezon, Bukidnon.      “If the four other telco players which also have pole mounted cables are affected, around P3-million a month worth of repair and maintenance costs are estimated.  In a year’s time, P36-million in damages caused by rodents which gain access via trees and other vegetation under power/telecommunication lines is possible,” he stressed.      Parasat has requested Impasug-ong Mayor Anthony A. Uy for assistance and permission to remove palm oil trees and other vegetation currently growing underneath the power and telecommunications poles, cables and equipment along the National Highway in the municipality of Impasug-ong.      During its 126th RDC-X Full Council Meeting on June 24, 2021, the council endorsed for approval to the Presidential Office the “Policy Brief on Strengthening the Resiliency of Information and Communications Technology Fiber Optic Networks” presented by Karma Yasmin B. Ortiz, Economic Development Specialist II, ICT Sub-Sector Coordinator, NEDA-X, InfraCom-X Secretariat.

    July 23, 2021

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  • ‘Kalabasa’ new source of hope for farmers in Agusan Sur village

    ‘Kalabasa’ new source of hope for farmers in Agusan Sur village

    SAN LUIS, Agusan del Sur– Farmers in the interior village of Nuevo Trabaho here are pinning their hopes for the future on the livelihood potential of the lowly kalabasa (squash).      Already, a one-hectare model communal farm developed by the local electricity consumers group called Multi-sectoral Electrification Advisory Council (MSEAC) had recently produced some 7,000 kilos of the highly-nutritious vegetable.      The farmers were encouraged to grow the crop after the Agusan del Sur Electric Cooperative (ASELCO) assured them of help in getting fair market prices from local traders in neighboring Bayugan City.      They have so far planted squash on at least 15 hectares of individual farms.      Melodina Pineda, MSEAC president in Nuevo Trabaho, said there are many potentials for processed squash products like flour, biscuits, candies and crunchy chips.      But she added that for now they are focusing on the production of nutritious squash cooked meals for feeding programs in the daycare center in Nuevo Trabaho and neighboring villages.      Arnie Arreza, ASELCO board member, said he will help the farmers in processing byproducts to add value to their produce and generate more livelihood opportunities.      “The objective of the rural electrification program is not only to energize the far-flung villages but to let them utilize electricity into economic enterprises,” Arreza said.      He said the ASELCO board is closely coordinating with the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperative Association for a possible squash meal production supply deal after they learned during a meeting with top executives of the Department of Social Welfare and Development about a P10-billion unused funds for the feeding program nationwide.      He said they have visited the Food Innovation Center of the Caraga State University in Butuan City where they saw some of the equipment that will be useful in processing food products from squash.      Engineer Emmanuel Galarse, ASELCO general manager, said their office will work to access government funding to enable MSEAC members to produce more and acquire a processing plant and equipment.      ASELCO said the project is a livelihood program spearheaded by the National Center of Electric Cooperative Consumers Inc. – Agusan del Sur Chapter.      Other farmers who were encouraged to plant squash in at least one hectare of their farms would continue to grow in the next cropping season after getting a good yield last June.      Joseph Curato, president of Nuetra Micro Farmers Association, harvested 2,007 kilos in the initial harvest which he sold to a buyer in Bayugan City at P5.00 a kilo.      He said he would negotiate for P6.00 a kilo for the remaining produce.      He said prices of squash went higher last year at P13.50 a kilo in the wake of heavy demand from Luzon consumers who experienced supply shortage during the implementation of strict anti-COVID-19 measures. (Chris V. Panganiban/MindaNews)

    July 23, 2021

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  • PMFTC rolls out IQOS e-commerce nationwide, ramps up Smoke-Free Future vision

    PMFTC rolls out IQOS e-commerce nationwide, ramps up Smoke-Free Future vision

    PMFTC Inc. is ramping up its commitment to deliver a smoke-free future with the expansion of the IQOS e-commerce coverage, making available nationwide its flagship smoke-free product, IQOS, for Filipino adult smokers 21 years old and above who would otherwise continue to smoke.  The local affiliate of Philip Morris International (PMI), PMFTC extended the distribution coverage of the IQOS e-commerce website making heated tobacco devices and heat sticks accessible through delivery to key areas in Mindanao including Davao City, General Santos City, Palomok, Cagayan de Oro City, Opol, El Salvador, Tagoloan and Villanueva in Misamis Oriental. “Making IQOS accessible in key areas across the Philippines will help fast track PMFTC’s commitment towards achieving our vision of a smoke-free future. This is in line with PMI’s goal to help adult smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke to move away from cigarettes as quickly as possible and switch to a better alternative,” PMFTC’s President Denis Gorkun said. During a media briefing last May, PMI’s new CEO Jacek Olczak said PMI is focused on developing, scientifically substantiating, and responsibly commercializing smoke-free products that are better alternatives to smoking, with the aim of replacing cigarettes as soon as possible. “I am humbled and excited to lead PMI as we accelerate our transformation into a smoke-free company,” Olczak said. Latest estimates showed that there are 17 million Filipino smokers in the Philippines and more than 117,000 Filipinos die each year due to smoking related disease. The quit rate, however, stagnates at 4 percent since 2009. “PMI is an industry leader in scientific innovation, and our ambition is that more than half of our net revenues will come from smoke-free products in 2025. Our evolving portfolio will drive our long-term future,” Olczak added.  IQOS devices use a patented HeatControl™ Technology that precisely heats, without burning, tobacco-filled sticks wrapped in paper called HEETS™ to release a water-based aerosol. Unlike cigarettes, IQOS does not burn tobacco and therefore produces no smoke and no ash. A growing consensus among public health experts concludes that burning or combustion, not nicotine, is the main cause of smoking-related diseases and deaths.  Gorkun noted that heated tobacco products are not risk free and that the best option for smokers is still to quit cigarettes and nicotine products. He, however, said that “for adult smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke, non-combustible alternatives like IQOS are better options.” PMFTC’s heated tobacco products were initially made available in Metro Manila last year through the IQOS.COM website, the IQOS Stores located in major shopping malls, and select tobacconists/retail stores. Currently carried by select 7/11 branches in the National Capital Region, the heat sticks will also be available at select branches in South and Central Luzon by end of July.  IQOS devices and heat sticks are only for adult consumers 21 years old and above who wish to continue using tobacco products or other nicotine-containing products. The IQOS e-commerce website requires age verification upon entry, while presentation of a valid ID is required upon delivery of the product to the consumer. 

    July 16, 2021

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  • Doctor says vape and heated tobacco products are viable solutions to smoking problem

    Doctor says vape and heated tobacco products are viable solutions to smoking problem

    Non-combustible alternatives like vapes and heated tobacco products (HTPs) are practical solutions to cigarette smoking epidemic, the world’s leading cause of preventable death and diseases, said a respected family doctor and tobacco harm reduction (THR) advocate. Dr. Lorenzo Mata, president of Quit For Good, a non-stock, non-profit organization that advocates real, practical, and tangible solutions to the smoking problem, said the traditional ‘Quit or Die’ approach is not working to substantially reduce the risk of death and disease from smoking. “In our country, there are almost 17 million smokers.  And a shocking rate of more than 117,000 Filipinos die each year due to tobacco smoking.  Equally alarming is the measly quit rate of 4-percent measured as of 2015 which largely remained unchanged from 2009,” he noted during the 4th Asia Harm Reduction Forum held virtually on June 28, 2021. He recommended that another option must be provided to adult smokers who do not wish to quit. “Tobacco harm reduction, through the use and promotion of safer alternatives to combustible tobacco, should be employed to substantially reduce the risk of death and disease of smoking,” Dr. Mata said. THR is defined by the 2021 Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction report as “a range of pragmatic policies, regulations and actions which either reduce health risks by providing safer forms of products or substances or encourage less risky behaviors.”  Dr. Mata identified innovative electronic nicotine delivery systems which eliminates the combustion process, such as heated tobacco products and e-cigarettes or vapes, as examples of THR.  “Beyond any reasonable doubt, vaping is considerably less harmful than combustible cigarettes. Almost all the harm done by cigarettes arises from the smoke which is caused by combustion. Vaping does not produce smoke—only vapor,” he said. “What happens in smoking combustible tobacco is a chemical change.  What happens in vaping is a physical change,” he said.  “In chemical change, this is brought about by extreme heat or combustion that causes oxidation of the original substance which then creates different chemical substances. The byproduct of oxidation is already totally different from the original substance. That is why from tobacco, it now comes out as smoke containing harmful substances where hundreds are toxic,” he further explained. “When it comes to vaping, you just heat the liquid until it vaporizes. When you create vapor, you don’t change the original substance to a different one. This, my friends, makes a lot of difference in public health,” Dr. Mata said. The doctor said that another alternative to cigarette, which has no combustion are HTPs. “Similar to e-cigarettes, there is no burning. But unlike vapes, nicotine is naturally found in the tobacco. By heating the tobacco without burning it, HTPs only produce vapor,” he said. “Vapor products and HTPs are not completely risk-free but they only carry a small fraction of the risk of cigarettes.  Allow me to remind everyone, however, that the best way to avoid the harms of cigarette smoking is as simple as quitting completely,” Dr. Mata said. Citing the conclusion of a 2021 Toxicology Report Journal review from the University of Occupational and Environmental Health in Japan, Dr. Mata said the “use of electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products could lead to a significant reduction in exposure to harmful substances compared to combusted cigarettes.”  “These are just some of the many scientific studies supporting the less-harmful claims regarding electronic vaping products. The bottomline is this: the deadly effect of cigarette smoking is due to combustion of tobacco that produces smoke which contains carbon monoxide and more than 7,000 chemicals,” he said. Dr. Mata said this means that vaping clearly is a viable alternative to cigarette smoking. “In line with this, we urge the government to consider the best possible differentiated legal framework through careful review of the science and evidence presented on the matter, and defend the right of the consumers to make better choices for themselves,” he said. He said that “the considerably less harmful products should not be taken off the shelves while the very much harmful product remains easily accessible and that the harm reduction potential of electronic vapor products should be maximized instead and regulated to minimize the risk to the youth and the non-smokers.”  The Asia Harm Reduction Forum is a non-profit and interdisciplinary organization that advances public health education for the improvement of lives and environments across the globe. It is an international avenue for experts, academics, and advocates to share and exchange research findings, product developments, and pragmatic solutions on tobacco harm reduction.

    July 14, 2021

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A Brown files shelf registration of 50-M shares

July 23, 2021

Corporate

By: , A BROWN Co., Inc. has filed for the shelf registration of 50 million cumulative, nonvoting, non-participating, and nonconvertible peso-denominated perpetual preferred shares, along with an offer supplement for its initial P1.5-billion offering.      The company on Wednesday said it submitted a registration statement to the Securities and Exchange (SEC) on Monday. It is subjected for the commission’s review and approval.      The 50 million offer shares will be sold in tranches within three years from the effectivity of its registration statement.      For its first tranche, the company will sell 10 million preferred shares for P100 each, with an oversubscription option of up to five million preferred shares to raise as much as P1.5 billion.      A Brown aims to use proceeds from the first tranche to support the development of its real estate projects in the pipeline, landbanking activities, funding for subsidiary Irradiation Solutions, Inc., and for other general corporate purposes.      “It is in a position to venture into pockets of growth areas as seen in the current thrust to supply the necessary housing inventory to address the backlog in the economic and socialized segments,” A Brown said in a statement.      The company is planning to allocate as much as P600 million for its property developments in Tanay in Rizal, Bukidnon, Butuan City, Misamis Oriental, and Cagayan de Oro.      It added that it has eight ongoing projects in Cagayan de Oro and Butuan City, with 17 more in the pipeline covering 400 hectares.      Meanwhile, up to P400 million will be spent on landbanking initiatives in Tanay, Rizal, Cagayan de Oro City, Butuan City, and Bukidnon.      “Landbanking is focused on areas where the company has local presence and a competitive advantage. Properties adjacent completed and ongoing projects will support expansion phases,” A Brown said in its offer supplement.      “The company is also looking into new areas where it can consolidate sizable portions to come up with integrated mixed-use developments,” it added.      The company currently has 293 hectares in its land bank.      Should the company need additional capital to fund land acquisitions, it plans to tap internally generated funds and credit lines from local banks.      Around P350 million from the proceeds will be allocated for the funding requirements of Irradiation Solutions, A Brown said. The subsidiary is developing its Tanay Multipurpose Irradiation Facility Project, which is aimed to be the first commercial E-Beam irradiation facility in the country.      The company assigned PNB Capital and Investment Corp. as the sole issue manager, lead underwriter, and sole bookrunner for the transaction.

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Cebu’s IT-BPM sector ‘more resilient’ amid pandemic

July 14, 2021

Corporate

By: , CEBU City -- Cebu’s information technology-business process management (IT-BPM) industry has proven itself to be among the resilient sectors here even as the economy continues to reel from the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.      Such observation was shared by Aseem Roy, country head of Wipro Philippines, during the opening of the four-day virtual 2021 Transformation Summit on Monday, organized by the Cebu IT BPM.Organization (CIB.O).      “The pandemic was a litmus test to what Cebu City and Cebu province have to contribute and how well we cope with adapting to some global trends,” the top official of the Indian BPO company told the virtual conference.      The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed a lot of industries, pushing the IT-BPM sector in particular to widely adopt flexibility as to how it operates.       A number of BPO companies have since allowed their employees to work from home and offer more flexible work arrangements, as the pandemic has significantly changed how industries operate.      Despite the challenges, the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) said the outsourcing sector still posted employment growth in 2020 of about 23,000 people, bringing the total to 1.32 million.      This was primarily due to more jobs created by resilient industries such as e-commerce and healthcare, in Metro Manila as well as Cebu, according to property consultancy firm Colliers International Philippines.      In Cebu, the IT-BPM industry employed about 180,000 to 190,000 workforce as of last year, up from 170,000 two years ago, according to estimates earlier disclosed by CIB.O president Pert Cabataña.       Wipro’s Roy said they are “fairly confident” that Cebu has the capability to outshine with the top outsourcing hubs in the world.      “The Cebu IT-BPM industry has become stronger and more resilient,” he said.      Roy said that Cebu, being the country’s key top IT-BPM investment destination outside Metro Manila, has the “capability to transform and lead” as the stakeholders bring collective efforts to further push the industry forward.   Cebu’s advantage      According to Colliers, Cebu remains a preferred business destination outside Metro Manila due to its competitiveness in terms of manpower, infrastructure, and cost of doing business.      Based on the results of Tholons’ 2021 survey, three of the 100 most attractive outsourcing sites in the world, Cebu ranked 52nd.      Among Tholons’ criteria are talent, skill and quality, business catalyst, cost and infrastructure, and innovation and capital.      “In our view, Metro Cebu will likely remain a viable destination for firms looking to open space outside of Metro Manila beyond this Covid-affected period, even for higher-value outsourcing services such as healthcare and technology firms,” said Joey Bondoc, associate director for research at Colliers Philippines, when sought for comment.      Among the firms operating knowledge process outsourcing in Metro Cebu are Google, Tech Mahindra, and Kuehne+Nagel.      In the first quarter of 2021, Cebu recorded notable office deals, which came from outsourcing and traditional companies including 24/7 InTouch Philippines, Aldesa BPO, Nokia and the Philippines Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, based on data from Colliers.      The bulk of these transactions were in Cebu Business Park in Cebu City. (PNA)

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Globe 1st PH company to set science-based goals for climate action

July 12, 2021

Corporate

By: , Stepping up its advocacy for climate action, Globe became the first and only Philippine company listed by the Science-Based Target initiative (SBTi) to commit to Business Ambition for 1.5 and has officially joined as a participant of the Race to Zero. The company has been a supporter of the #RacetoZero global campaign, spearheaded by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and COP26 Presidency, and the GSMA, an international mobile industry body, since its launch in 2020.      Globe’s commitment to establish science based targets and net-zero emissions by 2050 are in line with the Paris Agreement and #RacetoZero Campaign. The Paris agreement aims to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. Race to Zero is the UN-backed global campaign rallying non-state actors – including companies, cities, regions, financial and educational institutions – to take rigorous and immediate action to halve global emissions by 2030 and deliver a healthier, fairer zero carbon world by 2050.      All members are committed to the same overarching goal of reducing emissions across all scopes swiftly and fairly in line with the Paris Agreement, with transparent action plans and robust near-term targets. Led by the High-Level Climate Champions for Climate Action – Nigel Topping and Gonzalo Muñoz – Race To Zero mobilizes actors outside of national governments to join the Climate Ambition Alliance, which was launched at the UNSG’s Climate Action Summit 2019 by the President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera.      Its sibling campaign – Race to Resilience – was launched at the 2021 Climate Adaptation Summit. It is the UN-backed global campaign to catalyse a step-change in global ambition for climate resilience, putting people and nature first in pursuit of a resilient world where we don’t just survive climate shocks and stresses, but thrive in spite of them.      “We recognize the critical need to take action now to counter climate change. The imminent crisis is already threatening people, businesses, and economies worldwide. Companies like ours have a vital role to play, utilizing innovations, technologies, and expertise to decarbonize our operations and serve as a guidepost for other organizations to follow,” said Ernest L Cu, Globe President and CEO.      Over the next 24 months, Globe will set verifiable science-based targets through SBTi, which will independently assess the company’s direct and indirect emissions reduction targets. SBTi enables private companies to set science-based emission reduction targets. It is a partnership between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI), and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).  Direct emissions include fuel combustion on-site from owned vehicles and generator sets, while indirect emissions cover electricity purchases and use of the organization.      Paul Simpson, CEO of CDP, one of SBTi’s partners, said: “The science is clear: to limit the catastrophic impacts of climate change, we must ensure warming does not exceed 1.5°C. The ambition is high, but it’s achievable — and science-based targets give companies a roadmap for getting there. Corporations worldwide have an unprecedented opportunity to be at the very forefront of the transition to a net-zero economy — and there is no time to lose.”      Globe has been making significant inroads towards its sustainability goals in recent years. Since 2019, the company has shifted to buying energy directly from power plants producing renewable energy. Today, its headquarters in Taguig, together with six offices and facilities in Makati, Quezon City, Tarlac, and Cebu, are powered by renewables. More locations are scheduled to start running on alternative sources of energy.      Likewise, the company has deployed over 7,400 Green Network Solutions such as hybrid generators, free cooling systems, and lithium-ion batteries to reduce its carbon footprint while opting for renewable energy solutions like solar panels and fuel cells at its cell sites.      These initiatives complement the company’s continued implementation of the internationally-recognized Environmental Management System (ISO 14001:2015) under the Integrated Management Systems (IMS). IMS also covers process quality and occupational health and safety across the organization.      To ensure best-in-class sustainability practices, Globe, early this year, announced its support of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) which forms the foundation of the company’s climate change strategy moving forward.      “Business as usual is no longer an option. Setting and working towards science-based targets will help protect our consumers and us against future disruptions. The zero-carbon transformation of Globe’s business is already unlocking many economic opportunities, enhancing competitiveness, creating jobs, and sustainable growth. Doing good makes good business sense,” Cu added.      From waste management to electronic SIM cards to cashless transactions, the company’s wide range of sustainability programs make operations more efficient and produce new revenue streams.      This commitment coincides with the Philippine Environment month. In line with this celebration, Globe is encouraging Filipinos to take part in climate action by properly disposing of electronic waste (e-waste). Globe At Home rewards its customers who swap their existing devices in exchange for new, advanced WiFi units with its “Swap and Save” campaign. Customers will receive a 500-peso discount for Globe MyFi LTE-Advanced and Home Prepaid WiFi LTE-Advanced devices when they drop-off their existing prepaid Globe MyFi, WiFi stick or Home Prepaid WiFi at any of the 48 participating Globe Stores on or before August 21 this year.      Globe’s SBTi commitment supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG), specifically UN SDG No. 13 calling for urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.      To learn more about how to create a Globe of Good and make a difference visit https://www.globe.com.ph/about-us/sustainability.html.

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Vivant doubles growth in power retail marketing

June 28, 2021

Corporate

By: , DESPITE a Covid-limped year, Garcia-led Vivant Energy Corporation is well on its way to doubling the growth of its capacity in the retail electricity market – with it aiming for 25 megawatts by yearend from a current portfolio of more than 13MW.      “Right now, we are at 13.4MW, and based on what we have under negotiations, we would be ending the year with 25MW capacity of contracted capacity for retail supply,” Vivant Energy Executive Vice President and COO Emil Andre M. Garcia said. He expounded that the firm’s targeted clients are those in the 1.0-megawatt and higher base of electricity usage – and fundamentally, these are industries and big-ticket commercial establishments.      “A lot of them are in the 1.0MW range, that’s our niche market – lots of them are in the industrial space. And as far as the location, most of them are mainly in Visayas and Luzon,” Garcia specified.      The Vivant executive qualified that the customers they are catering to in the Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA) frame are strategically spread in the country’s two main power grids, hence, that is giving the company “right customer diversity’ in the power retailing sphere.      Garcia further explained “one of the reasons why there was a sudden growth in RES, because of Covid, a lot of things had slowdown. But now that a lot of things are opening up, a lot of the negotiations have continued, that’s why we’ve been able to grow that by yearend.”      Via its licensed retail electricity supplier (RES) subsidiary Corenergy Inc., Vivant Energy has introduced to targeted contestable customers “all-inclusive services” and tailor-fitted solutions to meet their energy needs.      As prescribed under the RCOA policy, contestable customers are those end-users that can already exercise ‘power of choice’ and directly contract their electricity requirements from preferred suppliers.      The suite of solutions that will be offered to targeted clients, according to Vivant, will include satisfying their energy needs, option for solar rooftop solution as well as engineering solutions or energy business solutions that stretches beyond the meter.      Solar rooftop solution is one investment domain that the company has been widening its business grips on – and it is also part of the package that they will be offering to clients in the electricity retail market space.      The RES unit of the company was registered with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) in October 2012. Vivant Energy stepped up on its RES business last year.      The company indicated it is procuring supply “from a diverse mix of sources,” as it primarily takes into consideration the reliability of service as well as the cost impact on a particular customer.

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DOF chief sees ‘pretty good’ Q2 GDP growth

July 23, 2021

Banking & Finance

By: , IMPROVEMENT in the employment situation is expected to make the country’s second-quarter economic growth “pretty good”, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said.       In an interview over Bloomberg TV on Wednesday, Dominguez declined to give specific figures, saying he is “not big on predictions” but cited the drop in unemployment and underemployment last May.       “The fact that we’ve created about two and a half million new jobs over the last year seems to be good signs for us,” he said.      Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data show that the labor force participation rate last May improved to 64.6 percent from the previous month’s 63.2 percent.       Employment rate increased to 92.3 percent in May from last April’s 91.3 percent, while the underemployment rate declined to 12.3 percent from 17.2 percent.      Unemployment rate thus went down to 7.7 percent from 8.7 percent.      Authorities have attributed the increase in employment rate to the continued re-opening of the economy which allows more workers to land a job.       The second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) report is scheduled to be released on August 10.       In the first three months of 2021, the country’s GDP posted a contraction of 4.2 percent, better than the -8.3 percent in the previous quarter.       Economic managers’ growth target for this year ranges between 6 percent to 7 percent, while it is 7 percent to 9 percent for next year and 6 percent to 7 percent for 2023-2024.       With the pandemic still expected to linger, Dominguez said it is important to continue to remain “fiscally responsible.”       “We want to make sure that we have enough resources to tackle any problems in the future, such as surges in the pandemic. We also want to make sure that we have enough money to protect our citizens and that is providing them with enough vaccines,” he said.       Dominguez said the government’s USD3-trillion borrowing program for this year, same as last year, would remain to be primarily sourced domestically at around 75 percent.      The balance would be tapped overseas “depending on the situation in the market”, he said.       “We’re keeping ourselves open to financing from domestic or international sources. And essentially it’s going to be the same amount,” he added.       To date, the government has issued around PHP150 billion (USD3 billion) worth of dual tranche, 10.5-year and 25-year US dollar-denominated bond; EUR2.1-billion multi-tranche, 4-year, 12-year, and 20-year global bonds; and JPY55 billion three-year zero-coupon fixed-rate yen-denominated Samurai bond.      Dominguez said these borrowings help finance government programs this year, including the procurement of vaccines against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).       He said nearly 30 million doses of vaccines have arrived in the country as of July 21 while around 70 million doses are expected in the third quarter and around 55 million doses in the last quarter.  “That’s certainly enough to vaccinate 100 percent of our adult population,” he said, adding the vaccination program is the government’s primary method of fighting the virus.  (PNA)

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BSP sees more foreign investments in digital banking

June 28, 2021

Banking & Finance

By: , THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is seeing more investment inflows from foreign banks for digital banking in the country.      Governor Benjamin Diokno said in a press conference Friday that since the start of the country's digital banking framework in December 2020, the central bank anticipates growth in foreign investment in digital banking.      “In fact, a number of new and incumbent foreign banks have expressed intent to establish a new digital bank or convert their existing license to a digital bank license,” Diokno said.      BSP Policy and Specialized Supervision Sub-Sector managing director Lyn Javier said the central bank has received queries and interest from foreign banks in Europe and Asian regions.      At least three banks have completed phase one of the licensing process for digital banks, Javier said, adding that the BSP will continue to evaluate other applications upon submission of complete documents.      Moreover, Diokno said aside from opportunities in digital banking in the Philippines, foreign banks have huge prospects in partnering with the private sector in promoting investments in infrastructure and sustainable finance.      “Foreign banks have the capacity to pool funds to finance infrastructure projects in key sectors such as renewable energy, low carbon transport, sustainable water management, and sustainable waste management,” the BSP chief said.      He added that foreign banks have financing opportunities for big-ticket and long-term projects under the Build Build Build program.      There is also a growing acceptance for green and sustainable finance in the country, Diokno said.      “With global market expertise, foreign banks can facilitate the underwriting of green, social, or sustainability bonds or develop innovative sustainable finance instruments. Given their global market expertise, foreign banks can facilitate underwriting of green, social, or sustainability bonds or finance infrastructure projects in key sectors such as renewable energy and low carbon transport,” he said.      With the liberalization of the entry of foreign banks, there are now 29 foreign banks operating in the country, of which, 12 are included in the 2020 list of Global Systemically Important Banks.      Diokno said that as of end-April 2021, the combined assets of these foreign banks amounted to PHP1.4 trillion, or 7 percent of the banking system’s total assets.      Deposits in foreign banks grew by 43.4 percent since the liberalization of the banking sector in 2014, “indicating trust and confidence in foreign banks even amid the pandemic”, Diokno added.      He said investment activities of these banks also reached PHP377.5 billion as of end-April this year. (PNA)

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Big banks fail to meet MSME credit quota

June 2, 2021

Banking & Finance

By: , BIG AND thrift banks failed to hit the quota for small business loans required by law in the first three months of 2021, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed.      Loans extended by these banks to micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSME) amounted to P448.458 billion in the January to March period or just 5.24% of their total loan portfolio of P8.564 trillion.      This was also 16% lower than the P534.767 billion in loans they extended to the sector in the same period in 2020.      Lenders are mandated by the Republic Act 6977 or the Magna Carta for MSMEs to allocate 10% of their credit portfolio for small businesses to boost the sector — 8% for micro and small enterprises (MSEs) and 2% for medium-sized enterprises.      However, banks have long opted to incur penalties for noncompliance instead of taking on the risks associated with lending to small businesses.      Broken down, MSE loans extended by banks amounted to P174.925 billion in the first quarter, which was just 2.04% of their total loan portfolio and well below the 8% quota.      On the other hand, lending to medium-sized enterprises stood at P273.533 billion in the period, equivalent to 3.19% of these banks’ credit book and beyond the 2% minimum requirement by law.      Based on the type of bank, BSP data showed universal and commercial banks disbursed P113.748 billion in credit to MSEs, equivalent to only 1.47% of their P7.719-trillion loan portfolio.      Meanwhile, their lending to medium-sized enterprises hit P227.447 billion or 2.95% of their loan book.      Thrift banks were also unable to meet the quota for MSE credit as they only extended P31.498% or 4.36% of their P722.079-billion loan portfolio to the sector.      However, these lenders went beyond the credit quota for medium enterprises as their loans to the sector hit P32.027 billion or 4.44% of their portfolio.      Meanwhile, rural and cooperative banks extended loans worth P29.679 billion to MSEs, equivalent to 24.11% of their P123.077-billion credit book, well above the amount required by law. These banks’ lending to medium enterprises hit P14.059 billion or 11.42% of their loan portfolio.      To help prop up the MSME sector during the coronavirus pandemic, the central bank last year allowed banks to count MSME loans as alternative reserve compliance. Loans extended to the sector likewise were also given reduced credit risk weight.      The BSP has also been working with the Japan International Cooperation Agency for a credit risk database project meant to help banks evaluate the creditworthiness of small businesses.

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BSP sees May average inflation at 4.4%

June 2, 2021

Banking & Finance

By: , PHILIPPINE monetary officials eye rate of price increases to average at 4.4 percent for May 2021, with the range projected between 4-4.8 percent, driven by higher meat prices.       Aside from higher meat prices, the elevated domestic petroleum prices, as well as uptick in power rates in areas being serviced by the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), are also expected as upside risks to the inflation rate in the fifth month this year, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno told journalists in a Viber message on Monday.      However, Diokno said these factors are seen to be countered by the drop in the prices of rice, vegetables, and fish due to improved supply conditions along with the appreciation of the peso.      “Moving forward, the BSP will remain watchful of economic and financial developments to ensure that the monetary policy stance remains consistent with the BSP’s price stability mandate,” he added.       Last April, inflation was steady at 4.5 percent relative to the previous month’s level.       Average inflation in the first four months this year stood at 4.5 percent, above the government’s 2-4 percent target band until 2024.      Inflation breached the government’s target band last January when it accelerated to 4.2 percent from last December’s 3.5 percent.       Its highest so far this year was in February when it surged to 4.7 percent.       Monetary officials see an elevated inflation rate until the third quarter of this year but the full-year average is expected to be around 3.9 percent. (PNA)

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GSIS to insure over 6,000 PhilPost personnel

June 28, 2021

Economy

By: , Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) President and General Manager Rolando Ledesma Macasaet recently announced that the pension fund will provide insurance coverage to 6,600 Philippine Postal Corporation (PhilPost) personnel including permanent and contractual employees and postmen nationwide.      "Ang insurance policy na ibibigay ng GSIS sa Philpost personnel ay may kasamang accidental death o dismemberment, medical reimbursement, at burial assistance. Isang malaking kaginhawahan sa panig ng manggagawa ang pakikipagtulungan ng Philpost sa GSIS upang mabigyan sila ng insurance lalo na ngayong panahon ng pandemya. Mapapanatag ang kalooban nila dahil may tutulong na sa kanilang pamilya kung sakaling may mangyari sa kanila,”   Macasaet said.      "COVID-19 has put the world at a standstill, running for more than a year now. Ngunit Sa kabila ng mga pagsubok na dumarating, patuloy po ang aming paglilingkod at  paghahatid ng serbisyo nang may malasakit. Nandyan din po ang magigiting na kartero at kawani ng Post Office handang tumugon," PhilPost Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer Norman Fulgencio said.      PhilPost has allotted a budget of Php616,000 for the insurance coverage. It is the second agency that partnered with GSIS to insure their personnel. Last June 14, the Manila City Government approved a Php7.5 million insurance coverage to around 45,000 barangay officials, including tanods and chairpersons of the Sangguniang Kabataan.      At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020, GSIS launched the Bayanihan Fund for Frontliners. Under the program, the family of  public frontliners who would succumb to COVID-19 are entitled to  an additional Php500,000 in insurance benefits over and above their life insurance benefits as GSIS members.

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SMC to buy 4 million kilos of surplus corn from DA, to utilize its Petron stations as outlets for farm produce

April 26, 2020

Economy

By: , San Miguel Corporation (SMC) is teaming up with the Department of Agriculture (DA) to mass purchase agricultural produce, starting with four million kilos of surplus corn, to provide a lifeline to farmers and help secure the country’s food supply in the midst of COVID-19.     The surplus corn is enough to produce feeds for over 7 million live broilers that can eventually feed 4 million families in one day.     SMC is also in talks with the DA to utilize strategic Petron stations nationwide as outlets for government’s “Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita” rolling store program, to make farm produce such as fruits and vegetables accessible to consumers. The program is the market system project of the DA that links local farmers to consumers to ensure the sale of agricultural produce at reasonable prices.     “Through this program with the Agricultural department, we will be able to keep our farmers afloat as we navigate these uncertain times. At the same time, we also help people stay safe, healthy and nourished by providing them a convenient way to buy fresh fruits and vegetables from our local farmers,” SMC president and COO Ramon S. Ang said.     Petron stations that will be initially tapped as venues for Kadiwa stores are Filinvest, Dasmarinas/Edsa and Katipunan/La Vista. The company said that more gas stations will be added in the coming days. Currently, SMC’s Petron stations also serve as sites for SMC’s Manukang Bayan refrigerated vans, which bring fresh chicken and other refrigerated and canned meats closer to consumers.     He thanked the DA for offering its network of corn and cassava farmers to supply its San Miguel Foods, Inc. with raw materials for continuous food production.     “We thank the DA for helping us identify possible sources of corn and cassava and farmers who are in need of help. By helping them, we will also ensure that we get the needed raw material supplies for our various food products,” he said     Among these are some 25,000 hectares of corn farms in Cagayan, where much of the surplus corn will come from. The company is also looking to the DA to link it with cooperative heads in Tuguegarao for sourcing of cassava.     SMC said it will buy the produce at pre-agreed prices and volume, as part of a long-term partnership.     The company has also reiterated its call to farmers nationwide to supply rice, corn, cassava, sweet potato, coconut oil and other farm products that will be bought at guaranteed prices for the farmers benefit.      Ang emphasized the need to sustain economic activity in the food value chain, which includes agricultural products suppliers, processing, and shipping to retailers.      SMC has assured a stable food supply for at least six months even beyond the ECQ with the 24/7 operation of its food facilities. SMC’s food facilities can produce a daily output of 1.96 million kilograms of fresh meats (poultry, beef, and pork); 524,000 kilograms of processed meats (canned meat, nuggets, and hotdogs); and 2.11 million kilograms of flour/baked goods (flour, biscuits, pandesal, and nutribuns).     It also continues to donate food products, rice, and flour to vulnerable communities in support of the government’s Covid-19 relief efforts.

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Food rationing starts in Davao City

March 25, 2020

Economy

By: Che Palicte, PNA, DAVAO CITY – The city government rolled out food rations to some 50,000 families beginning Monday (March 23), as part of the aid package for those affected by the restrictive measures adopted to prevent the spread of the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19).      Mayor Sara Duterte said those who qualify to receive the food rations are the indigents and out-of-work head of a family, contractual workers whose no pay and out-of-work head of a family, self-employed and out-of-work head of a family, and low-income head of family with significant loss or reduction of income.      “To those who are not residents of this city, do not worry because we [mayors in Davao Region] agreed to give food rations in our respective constituents,” Duterte assured.      She added that in order to avail of the relief goods, ration cards are distributed through the City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO) and the barangay leaders.      “During the distribution of the relief goods, we still have to observe social distancing,” she said, adding that a system will be in place to ensure the smooth distribution of the rations.      Mayor Sara said barangay chairpersons distributing the ration cards are monitored by team leaders consisting of the members of the City Council to ensure that the rationing is properly implemented, as well as to manage the issues in the barangays.      The mayor also called on members of the private sector that are providing relief goods to coordinate with Task Force Davao to avoid crowding or worse, chaos.      "We are prohibiting the private sector from giving relief goods directly to the people because this will cause chaos; this will be disorganized, and this will cause people to gather around," she said.      “Rest assured that your donations will reach the people. We do this to avoid mass gathering,” Duterte added. (PNA)

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Go hits irresponsible media accusations

March 25, 2020

Economy

By: , SENATOR BONG GO, in a message yesterday, lashed out at some print media outfits for coming out with a story that criticized his visit to Butuan City last March 14. The news report, he said, was very irresponsible.        “Sa aking pagbisita po sa Butuan City noong March 14, nais ko pong klaruhin muli ang mga pangyayari:       - Totoo na dumaan ako sa isang Evacuation Center para dalawin ang mga nasunugan, magbigay ng tulong, pakinggan ang kanilang mga hinaing, maghanap ng solusyon sa kanilang pang araw-araw na mga problema, at mag-iwan ng ngiti sa oras ng kanilang pagdadalamhati.       - WALANG MASS GATHERING NA SADYANG INORGANISA. Evacuation Center po ang pinuntahan ko. Doon na po sila pansamantalang nakatira bago pa ako dumating. Hindi ko sila sinadya na itipon sa lugar na iyon.       - Sa kooperasyon ng mga pulis at pati na rin ng mga evacuees, ipinaliwanag ko na kahit gusto ko man sila yakapin, kamayan, kamustahin, at lapitan, sinigurado ko na kaming galing Maynila ay NAKA-DISTANSYA sa mga taga Butuan City para rin po sa kaligtasan ng lahat kahit na wala naman kaming sakit. May barriers pa nga pong inilagay.       - Sinigurado ko po na ang tulong at serbisyong ibinigay namin ay sa pamamaraan na HINDI MAKAKASAMA sa kanilang kalusugan at mananatiling ligtas sila sa anumang karamdaman.       - Pinayuhan ko rin ang local officials at national agencies na MADALIIN ANG PAGBIGAY NG TULONG lalo na ng tirahan sa mga nawalan ng bahay dahil paano naman po sila susunod sa “Social Distancing measures” kung wala naman silang ibang matitirhan kundi doon sa evacuation center na kumpol-kumpol sila.       Para sa inyong kaalaman, March 9 nangyari ang sunog sa Butuan City. 444 na pamilya o 2,292 na indibidwal ang apektado at humingi ng tulong sa atin. March 12, nagpa-test kami ni Pangulong Duterte para malaman kung infected kami ng COVID-19. March 13 lumabas ang resulta at sinabing negatibo kami sa sakit at pwede kaming magserbisyo sa publiko. March 15 naman magiging epektibo ang “Community Quarantine” sa Metro Manila base sa inanunsyo ng Pangulo noong March 12 sa kanyang presscon.       Dahil dito, nagdesisyon ako na pumuntang Butuan City ng March 14 — isang araw matapos sinabing negatibo ako sa COVID-19, at isang araw bago ipagbawal ang paglipad mula Maynila — para magpadala ng sarili kong tulong sa mga nasunugan.       Hindi ko matiis na hindi tumulong sa kapwa. Ipinangako ko ito sa taumbayan na kahit saan man, basta kaya ng oras at katawan ko, pupuntahan ko kayo. Hindi ko po makakaya na ipagpaliban o ipagkait sa kanila ang tulong na kanilang hinihingi mula sa atin.       Nagpapasalamat po ako sa mga iba’t ibang ahensya ng gobyerno na sumaklolo sa hinaing ng mga biktima ng sunog at pati na rin sa mga LGUs na nagbigay rin ng tulong. Napaka-importante po ang pagtutulungan ng national government at mga LGUs sa panahon ng sakuna. Isa po ito sa aking prayoridad bilang isang Senador at public servant.       Nagpapasalamat rin ako sa mga artista na sumama sa akin at kusang nagsakripisyo para pasayahin ang ating mga kababayang nangangailangan. Sila Robin Padilla, Philip Salvador, at Victor Neri ay tumugon sa tawag dahil alam nila na sa kanilang sariling paraan ay nabigyan nila ng saya at pag-asa ang kanilang kapwa. Si Robin, tumakas pa ng bahay para iparamdam ang kanyang pagmamalasakit.       Sa mga bumabatikos, tumulong nalang sana kayo. Hindi po nakakain ang inyong batikos. Hindi rin iyan nakakatulong sa mga naghihirap. Dumadagdag rin lang kayo sa problema. Puro dada, wala namang nagawa.       Wala po kaming ibang interes kundi tumulong at alagaan ang kapakanan ng bawat Pilipino. Hindi po kami takot mamatay. As always, I will continue to serve and I will die serving the Filipino people.      Now more than ever, we, as elected officials should do everything we can to be of service to the Filipino people. The government as a whole should still do its job in a manner that will not put the health of others at risk. Hindi pwedeng ipagpaliban ang tulong sa kapwa Pilipino, tuloy-tuloy dapat ang serbisyo.

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Suzuki Introduces New Online Auto Loan Feature

May 18, 2020

Motoring

By: , Suzuki Philippines Inc. (SPH), the pioneer compact car distributor in the country, brings good news to its avid customers and to those looking into purchasing their own automobile with the new Auto Loan feature found on their official website. With this new addition to one of its many available services, getting a new car is now a few clicks away!      SPH just launched a new feature on their website allowing customers to be able to apply for auto loans online. In partnership with banks including Bank of Commerce, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Chinabank Savings, East West Bank, Maybank, PS Bank, RCBC, Robinsons Bank, UCPB, and Yulon Finance, the Auto Loan Feature directs customers to their preferred bank’s website page dedicated for auto loans. Once accomplished by interested patrons, their bank of choice will be able to review and grant them the loans if eligible as they are in operation.      This new online service presented by Suzuki Philippines is an effort to provide ways to serve its customers by being reachable amid the current situation in the country brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision to launch the online Auto Loan service with the help of dependable financial institutions is rooted from the realization that during this time of uncertainty, consumers are longing for a sense of security and reliability, more than just the product itself. SPH believes that their vehicles across different segments may provide this longing by staying committed in championing the Suzuki Way of Life! to the Filipino people and relentlessly finding solutions especially when people are now more than ever, highly concerned about where to tunnel their investments that will prove to be beneficiary to them even after these challenging times.

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Kawasaki Joins the Fight Against Covid-19 by Producing Medical Face Shields for Donation

May 18, 2020

Motoring

By: , Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) has begun manufacturing medical face shields and gowns at our Kobe and Harima factories, and has been donating them to medical facilities since the 20th of April.     Up to 500 medical face shields can be made per day using the transparent pattern film used for steel processing, and up to 1,400 medical gowns can be produced per day based on the guidelines by Osaka University Hospital. We have been donating the supplies to Kawasaki Hospital (Kobe City) since 20th April, and plan to supply to other prefectural hospitals as well through the Hyogo Prefecture Hospital Bureau.     KHI would like to express their appreciation for the medical staff who have been devoting themselves on the frontlines. By utilizing their design, production and quality control techniques to efficiently produce medical face shields and gowns for donation to medical institutions, they hope to contribute to the prevention of the spread of COVID-19.     KHI also reaches out to those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19. They sincerely hope that those currently suffering from the virus will recover quickly, and that the spread of COVID-19 will end as soon as possible.

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VP Robredo Receives Suzuki Motorcycle Service Units for Healthcare Workers

May 2, 2020

Motoring

By: , Suzuki Philippines, Inc. - one of the country's top motorcycle manufacturers shares help to those fighting the COVID19 battle at the front - the nurses and medical personnel by lending motorcycles as their transport service. This is in partnership with the Office of the Vice President's (OVP) Angat Buhay Program which is a flagship anti-poverty campaign relying on private partnerships in implementing its activities seeking to help people from the marginalized sector and recently to support our frontliners in the fight against COVID19. The units were turned over and received by Vice President Leni Robredo herself on April 23, 2020.  Suzuki lends 10 units of the Raider J Crossover to serve Angat Buhay's Free Dorm for Healthcare Workers hospitals' staff. Two of these - the Teacher's Village Dorm and Holy Family School in Maginhawa; will benefit from this initiative from Suzuki. Tenants of these dorms are working at East Avenue Medical Center, Philippine Children's Medical Center, Philippine Lung Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute and Philippine Heart Center. The Raider J Crossover is Suzuki's latest bike launched in February and the brand believes that it is the fitting ride for the frontliners, it is efficient and economical. More than that, since social distancing is a top priority nowadays, a solo ride on a motorcycle now provides one of the best means of transportation. "We are one with the whole nation in this fight against COVID19. We hope that these motorcycles help our frontliners in their commute to their respective medical facilities efficiently and safely. We will heal and overcome this together as one team Suzuki," Mr. Akira Utsumi said in a statement. "Thank you so much Suzuki Philippines for lending these units to us. These motorcycles will go a long way in helping our medical dormers," said Vice President Leni Robredo.  

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The Ford Ranger: Built To Last During Tough Times

May 2, 2020

Motoring

By: , MANILA, Philippines, 28 April 2020 – In times of uncertainties during natural calamities and pandemic crises, Filipinos are known for their resilience, strength and unwavering toughness even in the most trying times, rising above all odds and challenges.     This is why pickup trucks such as the Ford Ranger have become a popular choice among Filipinos who look for a tough and reliable vehicle for their needs. Built purposeful, the Ford Ranger has a durable design, proven performance, and segment-leading technologies to help get the job done.      Time-tested utilitarian characteristics give the Ford Ranger the ultimate edge as your daily workhorse. Its generous cargo space tied with 1.3 tons maximum payload capacity and impressive 800mm water wading capability with 230mm high ground clearance enable you to carry numerous back-breaking loads while effortlessly carving through obstacles both on and off-road. It features a Tailgate Lift Assist that makes lifting and lowering the tailgate easier when loading and unloading cargo.      A truck bed full of supplies and equipment demands a tremendous amount of power to effectively reach its destination. The Ford Ranger is equipped with the 2.0L Bi-Turbo Diesel engine capable of generating 213PS and 500Nm of torque coupled with 10-speed automatic transmission, delivering more than enough power to move heavy loads while remaining exceptionally fuel-efficient.     The Ford Ranger is also packed with advanced features to ensure maximum safety and convenience for drivers and passengers on-board. With the Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian detection, pedestrians and vehicles near you are detected and alerts you with an audible and visual warning. The Ford Ranger also features Active Park Assist and rearview camera and sensors to ease your worries away during parking.     Enhanced Ranger lineup      At the start of the year, Ford Philippines introduced a series of enhancements to its entire Ford Ranger lineup to give customers more value in their pickup truck without any price increase.     The Ford Ranger XLS and XLT variants now come with a new 8-inch LCD touchscreen radio with Apple Carplay and Android Auto Capability. Perfect for customers with workhorse and utility needs, the Ranger XLS and XLT variants are equipped with a selection of features that combine powerful performance with work-ready capability.     Meanwhile, Ranger Wildtrak 4x2 variants now have a new wheel design and LED headlamps. The Wildtrak 4x4 also has a new wheel design and LED headlamps with the addition of a high-mount USB feature to support various dashcam models. The Ranger Wildtrak combines iconic Ranger design qualities, powerful performance, and advanced technologies to suit work and play needs.      Finally, the Ranger Raptor now comes with a camera-based Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian detection, lane keeping aid, high-mount USB, and LED headlamps, enhancing the Raptor’s driver-assist technologies that make it a high-performance but safe and reliable pickup truck.     The new Ford Ranger FX4 is the latest addition to the Ranger portfolio, boasting of a bold design inside out and features that help widen the appeal of the Ranger among customers seeking for a versatile and capable pickup truck.       To know more about the Ford Ranger, visit www.ford.com.ph/trucks/ranger.

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DILG-10 to LGUs: Protect privacy of COVID-19 patients

June 28, 2021

Local

By: , As the government calls on all coronavirus disease (COVID)-19 patients to truthfully and accurately disclose their personal data to proper authorities to contain the spread of the virus, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)-10 reminds the local government units (LGUs) on their responsibility to protect such information.      "Kung kinsa’y naa'y mga COVID-19 cases, mga suspected, ang atong mga punong barangay dili na sila allowed nga magngalan ug positive sa publiko," DILG-10 Regional Director Arnel Agabe said during the Northern Mindanao COVID-19 Response Task Force press conference, June 25.      (Our punong barangays are not allowed to disclose the names of our COVID-19 confirmed or suspect cases to the public)      He added that the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Privacy Commission (NPC) implement the Republic Act No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, and the Data Privacy Act of 2012 in processing COVID-19 patient data in pursuit of disease surveillance and response.      Based on the said joint memorandum circular, the DOH only discloses the obtained data to public health authorities and concerned health care providers for purposes of contact tracing and management of the disease.      It also states that the personally-identifiable data may also be disclosed to other government entities authorized based on DOH guidelines.      "Kung naa’y violation sa privacy or na’y data breach sa personal information of security incident, kini siya, kung kinsa’y responsable pwede na siya mahatagan ug pinalidad in accordance with RA 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012," Agabe said.      (If there is a privacy violation or data breach on the personal information of security incident, those responsible will be dealt with in accordance with Republic Act 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012)      Doing so can help lessen the fears of patients on COVID-19-related physical assaults, harassment, and discrimination, and encourage them to report their symptoms, take confirmatory tests, and submit themselves to treatments by proper authorities, the NPC stated.      As to complaints on imposing the health protocols, Agabe said they have not received any complaint regarding the barangay officials who have not imposed the minimum public health standards. If ever there are violations on such, the official is held liable with negligence of duty. (RTP/PIA-10)

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Be truthful in vax registration: DOH

June 21, 2021

Local

By: , DO not cheat during registration for the Covid-19 vaccination program.      The Department of Health in Region 10 (DOH-10) issued the appeal on Friday after confirming reports that data, like birthdates, were altered in order to be included in the vaccination schedule.      "There are many magicians among our brothers and sisters. There were some who have changed their birthdays in order for them to be covered in the vaccine," DOH-10 Assistant Director Dr. David Mendoza said in an online media conference.      DOH-10 (Northern Mindanao) is currently accommodating priority groups A1 (health care workers), A2 (senior citizens), and A3 (adults with comorbidities).      Mendoza acknowledged the eagerness of some individuals to be vaccinated against the coronavirus but reiterated they must wait for their schedules.      "Thank you, brothers and sisters, for your energy that you really wanted to get vaccinated but please wait for our turn. No jumping the line," he said.      DOH-10 is validating more erroneous data in coordination with the Philippine Statistics Authority.      "It will now be the action of the local government units on what will be done in order to eradicate and stop falsification of documents," he said. Right information      Mendoza likewise stressed the importance of knowing the right information in order not to be victimized by "infodemic".      He cited a fake information that vaccinees may proceed to the Centrio Ayala Mall Cagayan de Oro vaccination site even without registration as long as they have medical certificates.      On the day the misinformation spread, only national government agency employees were scheduled at the mall.      He also clarified that even the youth may qualify under A1 or A3, regardless of age.      "There are teenagers and other young people who have comorbidities. We also cater to third and fourth-year Medicine and Nursing students who are part of the A1 group because they help in hospitals," he said.      To date, Mendoza said around 100,000 were already vaccinated in Northern Mindanao. (PNA)

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DA-10, Ayala Mall collab for year-round farmers' fair

May 17, 2021

Local

By: , CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY--With the goal of promoting northern Mindanao's agri-fishery products at the same time providing fresh and healthy foods to the locals, the Department of Agriculture (DA)-10 facilitates the 'Alagang Ayala Farmers' Fair' (AAFF) at Centrio Mall, here.      Said exhibit features the agricultural produce and its by-products of nine farmers and fisher cooperatives and associations (FCAs) namely; RJ Agriproducts, Manzano Farm, Northern Mindanao Federation of Dairy Cooperatives, Farmgrown Association of Claveria, NM Foods, Mylin Products, CNQ Agriventures, Kape Mindanaw, and Homegrown Marketing.      DA-10 Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) OIC-Chief Larry E. Paraluman said the trade fair will run for a year starting May 9, of which exhibitors can participate in the trade display free-of-charge for the rental space.      He detailed that said arrangement is Ayala Malls–CdeO Gateway, Corp.’s commitment, as part of their social responsibility to help small enterprises, on top of their regular exhibitors of herbal and ornamental plants.      Since its kickoff activity, Farmgrown shared that among their saleable products in their stall are turmeric powder, banana chips, sautéed shrimp, salted eggs and bottled fresh milk; while for Manzano's Farm are the lemon and mangoes.      AAFF is open every day from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (DA10/PIA10)

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Normin hosts leveling session to deepen understanding on GAD

April 21, 2021

Local

By: , CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY--To heighten awareness and reinforce knowledge on gender and development, the Regional Gender and Development Committee (RGADC)-10, a special committee under the Regional Development Council (RDC)-10, held a leveling session, April 6-8, through video conferencing.      “This leveling session is part of the continuing effort of the RGADC-10, in partnership with the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), to equip members with a deeper knowledge and understanding of gender and development, which is included in our work plan for the first semester 2021,” said Dr. Jesus Antonio G. Derijie, DVM, president of the Central Mindanao University and the newly-installed RGADC-10 Chairperson.      Derije furthered that through the active participation of members in virtual lectures, sharing, and workshops/case study analysis, the attendees are expected to gain worthwhile, meaningful, and useful experiences for cascading to their respective agencies/institutions with the goal of advancing the gender and development agenda.      The series of lectures include GAD and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) as a review of key concepts. It also underscored the history of efforts to alleviate the plight of women and the mainstreaming of GAD. Gender analysis and gender tools, such as the harmonized GAD guidelines on project implementation and management, and monitoring and evaluation Checklist were also incorporated through workshops and case study analysis sessions.      The lecture concluded with the topic GAD planning and budgeting, as well as, the preparation of GAD accomplishment reports of RLAs and LGUs based on the latest issuances of the PCW. Members of the PCW National Pool of GAD Resource Persons, together with PCW senior staff members, served as speakers/resource persons during the leveling session.      The Magna Carta of Women (RA 9710) mandates all government offices, including government-owned and controlled corporations and LGUs to adopt gender mainstreaming as a strategy for implementing the law and attaining its objectives of women empowerment and gender-fair society.       It also mandates planning, budgeting, monitoring, and evaluation for gender and development; the creation and/or strengthening of gender and development focal points; and the generation and maintenance of gender statistics and sex-disaggregated databases to aid in planning, programming, policy formulation, and monitoring and evaluation.       Members of the RGADC-10 from regional line agencies (RLAs), local government units (LGUs), academe, and private sector attended the said session. (NEDA10/PIA10)

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