DICT to issue permits for new cell sites within 3 mos

July 1, 2019

THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) targets to issue permits to tower building companies in three months or less to green light the construction of new cell sites.      "Our target is that we will have all the permits by two months or three months. We will really be more efficient in coming up with towers faster,” DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said in a press conference on Thursday.      Rio said a task force was created to establish a one-stop shop that will process the issuance of permits to the tower providers.      The task force is composed of agencies related with the release of the permits such as the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Health, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), among others.      The DICT has signed a memorandum of agreement with ISOC Infrastructures Inc. and Malaysia-based edotco Group Sdn Bhd to expedite the process of securing permits for the common towers that will be shared to telcos to further improve the delivery of communication services in the country.      "The MOA binds the DICT to facilitate getting of permits for the common tower to set up," Rio said.      Globe Telecom recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with ISOC and edotco to build 150 cell sites in the Calabarzon Region.      According to the MOU, ISOC and edotco will build and co-own the towers, which will be leased by Globe. These may eventually be leased out to other telcos such as PLDT Inc. and Mislatel.      The DICT expects the initial set of common towers to be constructed within the next five months.      “Maybe, the initial timeline for the first 150 towers, is from today to maybe two to three months for permits, then another two months for construction, maybe five months,”      A total of 2,500 sites were identified by the DICT as the location for the cell towers.      The department aims to build at least 50,000 cell towers within the next seven to 10 years through partnerships among the telcos and the tower providers. (PNA)

Bayer partners with Department of Agriculture to accelerate hybrid rice production in Mindanao

June 28, 2019

In a Memorandum of Agreement signing ceremony held at DA-RFO XII in Koronadal City, South Cotabato, both parties agreed to implement a pilot project to boost the hybrid rice production of farmers in North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Saranggani, and Sultan Kudarat. These provinces will soon ground Arize Hybrid Rice seeds with the guidance of field technicians from both parties. The farmers will undergo Bayer Agri-Academy training on rice production to ensure the successful knowledge transfer of hybrid technology. This will allow farmers to become independent and highly productive in growing hybrid rice. The average yield of inbred rice farmers is approximately four (4) metric tons while hybrid rice seeds can potentially increase yield by six to eight (6 to 8) metric tons. While some farmers in the region are already existing hybrid rice users, adoption rate remains low. “This is the first-of-its-kind among our projects with the Department of Agriculture. By formalizing our partnership, we convey our commitment to join hands with the government to improve the region’s rice productivity,” said Iiinas Ivan Lao, Country Commercial Lead, Bayer Crop Science.      “More than ever, we need to collaborate with the Department of Agriculture to ensure the project’s success. The support of DA-RFO XII and the local government units of the provinces involved will create a significant impact to the farming communities in the region,” shared Recher Ondap, Head of Seeds Bayer Crop Science. He also added that, through this project, not only will farmers increase their yield by 20%, but also they will be better equipped to run their business in the highly competitive rice market.      The planting season will start in May or June and will end by September. At the end of the season, farmers who to have harvested more than five metric tons of hybrid rice will be honored as top yielders in their respective areas. This recognition will help farmers qualify in the Department of Agriculture’s annual Gawad Saka Awards, which recognizes farmers, fisherfolk, as well as distinguished groups and individuals, who have excelled and made significant contributions in the development of agriculture and fishery sector in their regions and in the country.      “I’m grateful for this partnership with Bayer. We recognize the importance of this collaboration to further strengthen our local initiatives to accelerate hybridization in the region and most importantly, equip our rice farmers with the knowledge and skills to boost our rice productivity,” said Milagros Casis, DA-RFO XII Regional Executive Director.

CDA probes Sarangani coop over investment operations

June 24, 2019

GENERAL Santos City -- The Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) is set to issue a "show cause order" against a credit cooperative based in Sarangani province over questions on its investment operations. Aminoden Elias, CDA-Soccsksargen regional director, said Thursday they are currently processing the issuance of the order to Alabel Maasim Credit Cooperative (Alamcco) for violating its own Articles of Cooperation and Bylaws (ACBL) and Republic Act 9520 or the Philippine Cooperative Code. He said the move was in line with the ongoing investigation by the CDA central office into Alamcco's solicitation and acceptance of deposits or investments from non-members at a monthly interest rate of 35 percent.  "This is to let them (Alamcco officials) explain, as a matter of due process, why (the cooperative) should not be dissolved," Elias said in an interview with a local television station. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had issued an advisory, warning the public against Alamcco's investment operations at "a promised interest rate that is too high to sustain their claims that every member will receive as long as the cooperative operates". SEC said the cooperative is "not allowed to offer, solicit, sell or distribute any investment/securities from the public as the same requires a secondary license for such activity". Agents from the National Bureau of Investigation "visited" last week the offices of Alamcco here, in Koronadal City and Alabel, Sarangani in line with the crackdown ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte against the rampant "pyramiding" investment activities. Citing their investigation, Elias said Alamcco violated the provisions of its ACBL for soliciting and accepting investments in the form of deposits from non-members. He said the cooperative, which was registered in December 2018, was only allowed to recruit members from this city and Sarangani province based on its specified area of operations. But Alamcco has opened various offices in Soccsksargen that it uses to recruit members for its investment scheme, he said. Under Alamcco's ACBL, he said its recruits should undergo pre-membership education seminars before they are admitted as regular members. Elias said the new members should subscribe by paying a minimum required shared capital based on the authorized capital of the cooperative. As a credit cooperative, he said it is only allowed to promote and undertake savings and credit services to its regular members. He said Alamcco officers were aware of such provisions since they were the ones who crafted its ACBL and these were discussed to them by the agency during the pre-registration seminar. The official said the cooperative was previously informed of such violation through an advisory issued by its central office last May 31 and the cease and desist order (CDO) dated June 7. "The CDO mainly stops Alamcco from receiving deposits and investments from non-members but its other authorized activities may still continue," Elias said. Lawyer Umar Genita, Alamcco legal counsel, said the cooperative is currently complying with the CDO issued by CDA. He said their officers have also considered lowering the interest rate of its investment scheme to 20 percent to ensure that it will be sustainable. In the wake of the controversy, some of members of the cooperative have already signified to withdraw their deposits but the processing remains pending. "We are not running away from our obligations. We will comply with what is agreed and return whatever amount deposited by the members," Genita assured. (PNA)

Qatar Airways starts direct Doha-Davao-Doha flights

June 21, 2019

QATAR Airways has touched down for the first time in Davao on Wednesday, making Mindanao’s largest city its third gateway in the country and serving direct weekly return services (Doha-Davao-Doha) for the growing number of passengers in this region. The first Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Davao, Philippines, touched down at Davao International Airport, where it was welcomed with a celebratory water cannon salute. Qatar Airways flight QR936 departed Hamad International Airport (HIA) on Tuesday, 18 June at 02.45 and landed in Davao at 17:20 local time. The Ambassador of the Philippines to the State of Qatar, H.E. Alan Timbayan, was joined by Qatar Airways Senior Vice President Asia Pacific, Marwan Koleilat on board Qatar Airways’ inaugural flight to Davao. Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, H.E. Akbar Al Baker, said: “Qatar Airways is very proud to extend its reach into the Philippines by launching our third gateway into this beautiful country. The inclusion of Davao into our global network further demonstrates our commitment to the Far East region, a highly important market for Qatar Airways. With 50 weekly passenger flights to and from the Philippines, we take great pride in our role of enabling trade and connecting international businesses.” At present, Qatar Airways flies to Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Clark International Airport. The national carrier of the state of Qatar was also looking at resuming its Doha-Cebu-Doha direct service, which was suspended in 2012 after 7 years of serving the country’s second largest city. Commenting on the new route launch, Davao International Airport Manager, Engr. Rex A. Obcena, said: “Davao International Airport is the main airport serving Davao City and Davao Region in the Philippines. It is the busiest airport on the island of Mindanao and one of the busiest in the Philippines. We look forward to welcoming all passengers on Qatar Airways’ weekly return flights.” With numerous beaches and resorts, Davao City, on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, is a coastal commercial center near Mount Apo, the country’s highest peak. Davao City is the largest city outside of Manila and the fourth largest in the Philippines in terms of population, with over 1.4 million residents. The airline will operate its Davao service once a week with a Boeing 787-8 aircraft, featuring 22 seats in Business Class and 232 seats in Economy Class. Passengers will be able to enjoy the airline’s superior entertainment system, Oryx One, offering a wide variety of entertainment options. Qatar Airways flight QR936 departs Doha 02:45hrs and arrives Davao 20.50hrs. The Davao-Doha QR936 return flight departs Davao 22:20hrs and arrives Doha 03:15hrs. The Philippines is an important air freight market for Qatar Airways, with the carrier’s cargo arm offering a weekly capacity of 350 tons each way on the Doha-Manila-Doha route and 70 tons on the Doha-Clark-Doha route. With the introduction of flights from Doha to Davao on the Doha-Clark-Davao-Doha route effective 18 June, exporters in Davao will be offered direct connection to destinations in Europe, the Middle East and the Americas via Doha. A multiple-award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was named ‘World’s Best Business Class’ by the 2018 World Airline Awards, managed by international air transport rating organization Skytrax. It was also named ‘Best Business Class Seat’, ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’, and ‘World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge’. Qatar Airways currently operates a modern fleet of more than 250 aircraft via its hub, Hamad International Airport (HIA) to more than 160 destinations worldwide. In addition to its service to Davao, Qatar Airways has launched an array of exciting new destinations recently, including Mombasa, Kenya; Izmir, Turkey and Malta to name just a few. The airline will add a number of new destinations to its extensive route network in the second half of 2019, including Lisbon, Portugal; Mogadishu, Somalia and Langkawi, Malaysia. Qatar Airways, the national carrier of the State of Qatar, is also celebrating more than 20 years of Going Places Together with travellers across its more than 160 business and leisure destinations on board a modern fleet of more than 250 aircraft. The world’s fastest-growing airline will add a number of exciting new destinations to its growing network this year, including Lisbon, Portugal; Malta; Rabat, Morocco; Langkawi, Malaysia; Davao, Philippines; Izmir, Turkey; and Mogadishu, Somalia. A multiple award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was named ‘World’s Best Business Class’ by the 2018 World Airline Awards, managed by international air transport rating organization Skytrax. It was also named ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’, ‘World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge’ and ‘Best Business Class Seat’, in recognition of its ground-breaking Business Class experience, Qsuite. Qatar Airways has been awarded the coveted “Skytrax Airline of the Year” title, which is recognized as the pinnacle of excellence in the airline industry, four times.

Philip Morris lauds passage of cigarette excise tax bill

June 7, 2019

THE management of Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation (PMFTC) on Tuesday lauded the Senate's decision to pass the bill increasing further the excise tax on tobacco products. PMFTC Inc. Corporate Communications head Dave Gomez, in a statement, said passage of the bill is a step towards ensuring funds for the government’s Universal Health Care (UHC) program. He, however, warned the government of the possibility of higher illicit cigarette trade as a result of tax hikes. He explained that once the measure has been signed into law it will be the 8th tax increase since 2012. “The higher rate raises some concerns over unintended consequences. We call on the government to exercise vigilance to curb the illicit cigarette trade which may worsen as a result of this excise tax increase, and undermine government efforts to raise funds for the UHC,” he said. On Monday, Senators voted 20-0-0 in favor of Senate Bill 2233, which not only increased excise tax on “heated tobacco products” but also “vapor tobacco products”. Once signed into law, this measure will increase excise tax of a pack of cigarette from PHP35 per pack to PHP45 per pack by January 1, 2020 and to PHP60 per pack by 2022. Refill of vapor products will be increased by a minimum of PHP10 for those that are less than 10 milliliters. Relatively, Gomez said they expect the government “to provide the appropriate safety nets for farmers, workers and retailers whose livelihood would be impacted by this new round of tax increase”. “The Senate version is a positive step forward as it will enable smokers to switch to less harmful alternatives to cigarettes while generating additional revenues from previously untaxed e-vapor products,” he added. (PNA)

Fire safety events lace Filinvest’s Brigada Eskwela ‘19 participation

June 5, 2019

FDC Misamis Power Corporation’s (FDC Misamis) participation in this year’s Brigada Eskwela both in the municipalities of Villanueva and Tagoloan in Misamis Oriental (MisOr) was laced with the conduct of fire safety events. FDC Misamis, a subsidiary of FDC Utilities, Inc. (FDCUI), the power and utilities arm of the Gotianun-led Filinvest group, joined Brigada Eskwela at Vicente N. Chavez Memorial Central School (VNCMCS) in Villanueva and Sta. Ana Elementary School (SAES) in Tagoloan on May 20 and 21, respectively. Apart from donating construction, painting and electrical materials for the minor repairs of six classrooms at VNCMCS and two unfinished classrooms at SAES, the power firm also sent more than 50 employee-volunteers to help teachers and parents, among other stakeholders, to do the cleanup drive as well as the rewiring and repainting jobs.  But the highlight of the firm’s participation in this year’s National Schools Maintenance Week (NSMW) was the conduct of Basic Electrical Safety in School (BESS) symposium with the Information Education Communication (IEC) on the proper use of fire extinguisher. Such is in consonance with the Department of Education (DepEd) Order No. 72, series of 2012. Both fire safety events were spearheaded by the firm’s electrical and safety units. Then, the company donated eight units of fire extinguisher to each adopted school. This, as the power firm aims to make each of its adopted school fire-free. FDC Misamis’ participation, stressed VNCMCS’ principal Aileen Dabon, is truly a visible commitment to help their school to become a conducive hub for learning. VNCMCS has more than 3,000 students. “The generosity of FDC Misamis, therefore, is always equated with the magnanimity of the needs of our school.” “Ang amoang kinasing-kasingon nga pagpasalamat sa FDC sa daghang bulig nila kanamo,” retorted SAES Head Virginia Mariano. SAES is seen to cater more than a thousand pupils and students when classes start on June 3 “We are always here to help and support schools within our host communities for as long as it is within our limitations,” responded FDC Misamis Community Relations Officer (CRO) Analiza Miso. “Since then my salute to FDC Misamis for being consistent in helping and supporting our barrio schools in Villanueva,” concluded town councilor and chair of the education committee Leoncio Abejo. Aside from VNCMCS and SAES, FDC Misamis also provided repainting and basic construction materials, cleaning and gardening tools, and school supplies, respectively, to other 14 schools located in Villanueva and Tagoloan. FDC Misamis owns and operates the 3x135-MW circulating fluidized bed coal thermal plant at Phividec Industrial Estate in Brgys. Tambobong and Balacanas, Villanueva, MisOr.      


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