Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 01 November 2017

PH, Japan sign fresh $6B biz deals

MANILA –The Philippines and Japan signed fresh business deals worth USD6 billion following the visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to Tokyo from Oct. 29 to 31, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez shared to Manila-based reporters in a text message.
In a text message to reporters, Lopez, who accompanied Pres. Duterte in his second visit to Japan, said these commitments came from 18 business deals involving new investments and joint ventures between Manila and Tokyo.
“PRRD met several Japanese companies and witnessed several business-to-business memoranda of understanding and letters of intent on investment plans, joint ventures, and expansion of operations in the Philippines,” he said.
The trade chief mentioned that the USD6-billion business deals will be invested in sectors of manufacturing, particularly shipbuilding and iron and steel; agribusiness; power, particularly renewable energy; information and communications technology and IT-business process outsourcing; retail; transportation; and infrastructure.
“All these show confidence on President Duterte's administration,” Lopez noted.
Six companies presented their letters of intent to Lopez including Marubeni Corp., Itochu Corp., Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Ltd., Teihiyo Cement Corp., Tsuneishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., Japan Tobacco, Inc., and Lawson Inc.
Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd., also submitted their LOI of doing business in Philippines to Lopez and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, while Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III received the LOI of Japan Tobaco, Inc.
Bases Conversion and Development Authority also got LOI from Hitachi Asia while Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority had LOIs from Subic Smart Community Corp and List Co. Ltd.
Business deals between private sector of Japan and the Philippines include the following:
Ubicon Holdings, Inc. and Advanced World Solutions, Inc. with Alsons/AWS Information System, Inc.;
Densan System Co. Ltd. and CIS Bayad Center;
Hitachi Ltd. and Manila Electric Company;
List Co., Ltd., and Newcoast Southbeach Realty;
Nomura Real Estate Development Co., Ltd. and Federal Land, Inc.;
Yamato Kogyo and SteelAsia Manufcaturing Corp.; and
Itochu Corp. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp.
During the first visit of President Duterte in Tokyo last year, the Philippines and Japan signed financial deals reaching USD19 billion.
Moreover, Lopez also had bilateral meeting with Japanese Trade and Industry Ministers Hiroshige Seko, in which they had discussions on boosting economic ties between the Philippines and Japan.
“[We] discussed improving market access and lowering tariff for our agricultural products such banana, pineapple, and mango,” he said, adding that they also had talks on Industrial Cooperation Dialogue as well as expanding supply chain of Japanese companies in the country and partner with Filipino small and medium enterprises.
Lopez added that the Philippines, as chairman of this year’s ASEAN Summit, has secured Japan’s support to reach substantial conclusion of the ASEAN-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. (PNA)

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Duque to prioritize rebuilding of Marawi’s health infra

MANILA – Newly-appointed Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said his department will give priority to the rebuilding of health infrastructure damaged during the five-month siege of Marawi City.
"Ang priority program natin ngayon (Our priority program at present) is to help rebuild Marawi City," Duque said when asked about his priorities during an interview Friday, a day after he was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as ad interim health chief.
"Masigasig kami na matugunan yan, lalo na yung mga nasirang (We are eager to address that, especially the damaged) health delivery infrastructure," he added.
Among the health infrastructure in Marawi that need to be rebuilt are rural health units (RHU) and barangay health stations (BHS), such as the RHUs in Barangay Kapantaran and in Barangay Fort, and 23 BHSs.
In a separate interview, Gloria Balboa, director of the Department of Health’s (DOH) Health Emergency Management Bureau (HEMB), said the Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi has begun functioning 24/7 to provide emergency, operation, pharmacy and laboratory services.
Balboa said the department is also addressing malnutrition problems in the war-torn city, and is offering vaccination, vitamins and mineral supplements.
Together with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the DOH has also put up help desks, provided psychological first aid and psychotropic drugs for those with mental illnesses.
"Those with the potential to suffer from mental illness are being referred to psychiatrists in higher-level hospital facilities," Balboa added.
She said the DOH will also focus on reducing maternal mortality rates; working towards more PhilHealth benefit packages by increasing its funds and sustainability without raising the contribution; and intensifying drug rehabilitation programs and services. (PNA)

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4,000 benefit from ARMM People’s Day in Marawi

COTABATO CITY – Maranao evacuees, numbering to some 4,000, were recipients of a day-long medical and relief outreach mission by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on Monday in Marawi City, the region’s information office reported.
The program, aptly called ARMM’s Peoples Day, also marked the return of thousands of displaced residents from Barangay Basak Malutlut, the site where the firefight broke out between government forces and the combined terror groups of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf last May 23.
Barangay Basak Malutlut has been cleared by military and police forces from unexploded bombs left behind by terrorists who have been wiped out by government troopers in a battle for the retaking of the city that lasted for five months.
Various booths from ARMM line agencies have been set up to provide appropriate services to returning Marawi City residents during the event.
A line of Philippine flags raised in poles also proudly fluttered in the air around the City Hall symbolizing the government’s successful campaign against the extremist Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups from May 23 to Oct. 23 this year.
“Despite our current situation, let us remember that a new opportunity can and will always present itself even in times of crisis,” ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman told the returning evacuees during a flag-raising ceremony held at the city hall grounds on Monday.
“This is not the time to blame each other for the things that have happened, but a time for us to work together towards rebuilding and rehabilitation,” Hataman added.
In his message, Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra, who expressed joy for the gradual return of his constituents in the locality, reminded everyone that there still much to be done and that unity is an obligation.
“I now ask everybody here to unite, to work and live for peace,” he said.
A symbolic prayer activity also highlighted Monday’s event in the city for its liberation from the Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists.
This developed as 12 public schools in Marawi have resumed classes shortly after the liberation of the city from the clasp of the terrorists. The schools included Sultan Conding Elementary School, Sikap Elementary School, Cabingan Primary School, Banga Elementary School, Datu Tambak Elementary School, Rorogagus Elementary School, Bito Elementary School, Pendolonan Elementary School, Abdulazis Elementary School, Camp Bagong Amai Pakpak Central Elementary School, Sugod Elementary School, and Mipaga Elementary School.
Rehabilitation efforts for schools damaged by the fighting are underway, so as to the psychological and social needs of the students.
The city of Marawi is the capital of Lanao del Sur, a province component of the ARMM. Other component areas of ARMM are the city of Lamitan and the provinces of Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-tawi and Basilan. (PNA)

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PH culture highlighted at 'Evening at the Embassy'

WASHINGTON, D.C. – For the 3rd year in a row, Things to Do DC organized “Evening at the Embassy of the Philippines”, allowing more than 80 young professionals of Metro DC to step into Philippine soil and experience Filipino culture and cuisine at the Romulo Hall of the Embassy in the fun-filled evening of 26 October 2017.

“I think what I want you to take away from your evening here in the Philippines tonight is a realization, an understanding, an appreciation of how rich, how diverse, and how colorful our culture is,” said Atty. Jose Victor Chan-Gonzaga, Minister for Economic Affairs of the Philippine Embassy in welcoming the guests of the event.

“I hope, particularly for Filipino-Americans who are here tonight, that you go away from the Philippine Embassy with a renewed sense of pride in where you’ve come from, where your roots are,” the Minister further stated.

The Migrant Heritage Commission Fil-Am Dance Ensemble led the interactive cultural presentation, which includes a demonstration of Filipino stick fighting, performance of Filipino folk dances such as Banga at Sarip, Pangalay, and Tinikling among others.

Ilocano Society of America’s Ms. Teen Philippines of Washington DC, Cathy Bayas, also serenaded the guests while they paraded in traditional Filipino costumes in a mini fashion show.

Volunteer guests also learned and tried basic Tinikling, a traditional bamboo dance that involves two people beating, tapping, and sliding bamboo poles on the ground and against each other, while one or more dancers step over in between the poles in a dance.

In addition to the cultural presentation, a booth was also set up for the Filipino adventure computer game, “The Girl Who Sees” built by Ms. Pattie Umali and Ms. Cherisse Datu of InterIntellectus Games. The game is about a young girl in World War II Mindanao who gets mixed up with the mythical creatures of the Philippines.

“This game is unique because it explores our Filipino indigenous culture and lore, while set in the historical reality of the World War II Japanese occupation,” said game creator Pattie Umali as she encouraged the audience to support the development of a game that can serve as a point of cultural access for young Filipino-Americans.

Things to Do DC is a premiere organization for DC young professionals that makes use of interactive social, educational and cultural events that enrich their social and cultural experiences. ###

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P843M earmarked for PUV Modernization Program

The government is spending P843 million next year to jumpstart the nationwide implementation of the Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program, a lawmaker said on Saturday.

The initial funding for the program, officially launched only in June this year, has been included in the 2018 budget of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), according to Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, a member of the House appropriations committee.

“It is a highly constructive program overall. The government is basically stepping in to assure the public a better way to commute in the years ahead, while giving PUV operators and drivers the opportunity to upgrade their vehicles,” Pimentel said.

The lawmaker stressed that the operation of PUVs on public roads is a privilege granted by the government.

“This is why we have a franchising system. Those who are in the business of running PUVs have to live up to higher operating standards to ensure that commuters are safely, efficiently and conveniently transferred,” Pimentel said.

The modernization program is also expected to help drive jobs creation in the automotive industry, a key sector of the economy, Pimentel, also a member of the House transportation committee, pointed out.

“There’s also no question the shift to low-emission vehicles will help reduce pollutants and improve air quality in a big way,” he added.

Under the program, all PUVs that are more than 15 years old will be phased out and replaced with new models equipped with automated fare collection systems, digital security and dashboard cameras, Wi-Fi Internet connectivity, GPS tracking devices and speed limiters.

A combined P2.5-billion special financing plan from two state-run banks will extend low-cost loans to enable PUV operators and drivers to acquire the newly designed passenger buses, vans and jeepneys.

The new PUVs will run either on Euro 4 compliant diesel engines that discharge 68 percent less particulate matter, 57 percent less nitrogen oxides and 50 percent less carbon monoxide, or on electric batteries that have zero exhaust gas emissions.

The modernization program also reforms the franchising system to strengthen control over and regulation of PUVs.

Fewer new franchises will be issued to PUV operators and drivers who will be compelled to organize themselves into cooperatives or firms to build up accountability, enforcement and compliance.

In the case of jeepneys, for instance, each operator must have a minimum of 10 units to obtain a single franchise. Thus, drivers running their own units will have to consolidate themselves into groups of at least 10 members to get a franchise.

The DOTr is also expected to draw up new PUV routes in consultation with local government units.

An academy will also help re-educate PUV operators and drivers on basic road discipline, courtesy and safety.

The modernization program has become controversial owing to the strong opposition of militant jeepney operators and drivers grouped under PISTON.

PISTON has vowed to stage monthly transport strikes, unless they are granted a dialogue with President Rodrigo Duterte.

In response, the President has warned that the PUVs of defiant operators and drivers will be towed away.

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