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PMI releases first Integrated Report on performance and headways in its smoke-free future vision

July 6, 2020

Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI) has published its first Integrated Report, a comprehensive overview of the company’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance and its progress toward delivering a smoke-free future—including the company’s ambition to switch more than 40 million adult smokers to its smoke-free products by 2025.  PMI said its Integrated Report 2019 demonstrates the role of the organization's strategy, governance, and performance in the creation of value over the short, medium, and long terms. The report further shows PMI’s approach and important progress in various ESG areas, while setting new and ambitious targets for 2025 that complement the company’s prior aspirations.  “Clarity of purpose is essential for the internal alignment of any company. Since we announced our smoke-free commitment in 2016, we have made enormous progress in terms of organizational capabilities, the integration of sustainability into every aspect of our transformation, and our business,” said André Calantzopoulos, PMI Chief Executive Officer. “PMI’s Statement of Purpose reaffirms our commitment to deliver a smoke-free future for the benefit of people who would otherwise continue to smoke and, hence, to global public health. It is clear to all of us at PMI that the biggest positive impact our company can have on society is to replace cigarettes with less harmful alternatives; this is at the very core of our corporate strategy and sits atop our sustainability priorities while we are progressing well on all others,” Calantzopoulos added.  The report cited PMI’s Philippine affiliate, PMFTC Inc., for its strong commitment to the development and growth of local communities. In particular, the company’s corporate social responsibility program Embrace, which involves charitable giving, social contributions and community investments that focused on access to education, women empowerment, economic opportunity, and most especially disaster preparedness and relief efforts. “As a leader in the tobacco industry and a top taxpayer in the Philippines, PMFTC has a responsible role to play in spurring economic development, empowering communities and sustaining our environment,” PMFTC President Denis Gorkun said. “We are proud of our company’s caring and giving culture. We are equally proud of our employees who champion the values of social responsibility as can be most recently seen in our societal response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gorkun added. In the report, PMFTC was cited as being in the forefront in providing relief assistance during disasters like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons and floods. More than 25,000 individuals received help in the past earthquake incidences in Batanes and Mindanao; and another 7,384 families benefited from relief items during the Taal volcano eruption in January this year. In these community efforts, “PMFTC employees were at the core of relief operations.” mentioning the company employees “spirit of volunteerism and compassion for the community.”   On top of helping communities, PMFTC has placed the safety and protection of its own employees a priority. Some 150 displaced employees were provided immediate assistance in the recent Taal volcano eruption. The Integrated Report 2019 also demonstrates how PMI is focusing its resources on developing, scientifically substantiating, and responsibly commercializing smoke-free products that are a better choice than continued smoking, with the aim of completely replacing cigarettes as soon as possible. The company believes that, with the right regulatory encouragement and support from civil society, cigarette sales can end within 10 to 15 years in many countries.  It also highlights the company’s most material sustainability topics, including the health impacts of the company’s products, an aspect often not captured by external ESG assessments.  The report focuses on this key area, and describes how the company is working to reduce the harm caused by tobacco use by replacing combustible products with scientifically substantiated reduced-risk alternatives.  From the previous sustainability reporting, PMI’s evolution to integrated reporting helps investors make the connection between the product-focused sustainability initiatives, which form the core of the ESG strategy, and the financial performance over time. The report also enables the company’s stakeholders to better evaluate the company’s progress in achieving its purpose. PMI’s Statement of Purpose, adopted by the company’s Board of Directors earlier this year and published in its 2020 proxy statement, is also available in the Integrated Report.

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Rotary Club of Cagayan de Oro provides food

June 17, 2020

CIVIC groups are now assisting the government in alleviating the hassles experienced by locally stranded individuals (LSIs) at a holding facility in Cagayan de Oro City.   The spacious gym at the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP) - known within the campus as the Dr. Ricardo E. Rotoras Memorial Hall - has been transformed as a drop zone for LSIs coming from Laguindingan airport and the Port of Cagayan de Oro where local government units (LGUs) from all over including as far as Digos City would fetch them home.   The phenomenal influx of arriving LSIs was attributed to Cagayan de Oro being the gateway to Mindanao for passengers from virus-hit Luzon and Visayas.   Thus, PPA Port of Cagayan de Oro manager Isidro Butaslac Jr. conceived a plan along with the USTP management for DRERM Hall to be transformed into a holding facility.   Butaslac then rallied fellow Rotarians to redirect their civic-mindedness to help the LSIs.   Since June 12, the mother Rotary Club of Cagayan de Oro has distributed 900 food packs to the LSIs.   "We also provided 10 gallons of purified drinking water which will be replenished when they are all consumed. We have coordinated with Pepsi Cola Philippines Cag de Oro Plant under GM Bob Flores for the installation of a dispenser for Lipton Ice Tea and Gatorade for the LSIs free consumption," remarked RC Cagayan de Oro past president and project director Cris Parojinog. "Del Monte Philippines also assisted us with pack fruit cocktails for our LSIs."   Mindanao’s biggest club, also recognized as The Mother Club, was organized on April 22, 1948. From a small group 17 charter members, it has constantly grown over the years.   The Rotary Club of Cagayan de Oro is made up of distinguished professionals, business and community leaders who share the common passion of serving the community selflessly. It is a non-religious, culturally diverse and non-political club that strives to promote equality and high ethical standards among men through project and activities that cater to various sectors of society advocating the importance of education, health improvement, and poverty alleviation are prioritized and regularly carried out by the club and its members.

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SMC starts delivery of donated testing booths, kits to NCR LGUs

May 16, 2020

MANILA – The San Miguel Corp. (SMC) has begun turning over its donation of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) testing booths, starting with the cities of Mandaluyong, Pasig, and Manila, fulfilling an earlier promise to help boost the testing capacities of all 17 Metro Manila local government units (LGUs).     A total of 24 testing booths were turned over to Mandaluyong Mayor Carmelita Abalos, Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto, and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso.     The delivery of testing booths for other LGUs -- Quezon City, Caloocan, Malabon, Las Piñas, Parañaque, Muntinlupa, Makati, Navotas, San Juan, Taguig, Marikina, Valenzuela, Pasay, and Pateros – will continue this coming week.     Apart from the testing booths, the SMC is also donating PHP3 million worth of reverse transcription - polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests to each of the 17 LGUs, equivalent to 34,000 tests.     The company is also set to turn over an additional three sets of RT-PCR testing machines and automated RNA machines to key government hospitals.     “We are fully committed to helping all our Metro Manila LGUs increase their Covid-19 testing capabilities, in support of the national government’s expanded testing goals,” SMC president Ramon S. Ang said in a news release on Friday.     Ang said with the donations, they hope to help boost testing, particularly in “our less-fortunate communities where many underprivileged families are extra vulnerable, due to their living conditions.”     He noted the importance of carrying out expanded testing and making it accessible to more people by offering it to poor families for free.     “We need to be able to find a way to make testing accessible to all. Everyone should have equal access, not just those who have the means,” Ang said.     At the same time, he batted for the regulation of the price of testing to make it affordable to regular Filipinos and small companies that have to test their employees before returning to work.     Along this line, the SMC is working with the local government of its home city of Mandaluyong to ensure that the cost to test in the city remains affordable.     Apart from its donations to the LGUs, SMC had earlier donated five sets of the same testing machines to the Department of Health (DOH) and testing kits, which can administer up to 20,000 tests.     According to the DOH, the donation effectively doubled the country’s testing capacity. (SMC PR)

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Fintech will drive ‘new normal,’ as cash may pose risks on health safety

May 16, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the whole world to drastically change its old ways. Most of its population went into isolation to flatten the curve. In the Philippines, Luzon has been placed under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), which meant limited mobility and fewer options for most people since businesses were closed down.      Since everyone is affected by a general anxiety of contracting the coronavirus, private citizens have also imposed upon themselves to observe safer and more hygienic practices to avoid transmission of the disease. While these were once deemed “alternatives” before the pandemic struck, they are sure to remain in the post-COVID world as part of the new normal.     One of these practices is cashless transactions. Digital payments are not a matter of convenience anymore. Given the circumstances, it could be a matter of life and death to those who are more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19.      “Now more than ever, financial technology (fintech) will play a big part in defining a “new normal” for the Philippines in the midst of a public health crisis. We believe that digital payments should be the bedrock of digital services, as we need to limit the social interaction between people and reduce risk of contracting the virus from common surfaces such as paper money,” GCash Chief Technology and Operations Officer Pebbles Sy said.      The World Health Organization (WHO) encouraged the public to wash their hands after handling paper money. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno echoed this sentiment in the country, saying that digital transactions have advantages in the face of a pandemic.     In fact, studies state that paper money increases the risk of coronavirus transmission since it can harbor harmful bacteria and viruses for several days. Thus, many governments from around the world such as China and the United States were reportedly forced to disinfect bank notes before recirculating them back into the economy. In Europe, even bank notes are being subjected to almost two weeks of quarantine, according to the Federal Reserve.     The risks introduced by cash also apply to the use of credit and debit cards in physical transactions. Doing business in the conventional way negates the efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, since this would mean that exchanging cards and receipts would violate social distancing rules even if it is just for a matter of seconds.      GCash, the leading mobile wallet in the Philippines, provides a better alternative to cash as it offers reduced costs and efficiency of transactions, better transparency and security, offers greater convenience, and promotes financial inclusion.      “With most of the country under different levels of quarantine, digital finance is emerging as the core of services in the country. Everything from donation drives to food delivery services to public service utilities went digital. Businesses which have been forced to halt physical operations have used e-wallets like GCash to save themselves from bankruptcy,” Sy said.      GCash as a platform eliminates the issue of accessibility as well since anyone with a smartphone can easily join the growing community of people using digital finance. Its free app does not only innovate money transfer, but it also provides other services such as credit, insurance, and even investments.     Globe Fintech Innovations Inc. (Mynt), which operates GCash, is part of the portfolio companies of 917Ventures, the largest corporate incubator in the Philippines wholly-owned by Globe Telecom Inc.     GCash is available for download on the App Store and Google Play. For more information, kindly visit https://www.gcash.com/.

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Bong Go reiterates call for establishment of Department of OFWs for migrant workers

May 16, 2020

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has negatively affected the world economy resulting to significant losses of jobs for Filipino workers overseas. As the health crisis continues to threaten the lives and livelihood of many workers abroad, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has renewed the call for the establishment of the proposed Department of Overseas Filipino Workers (DOFWs).      “Simula noong nakaraang taon pa, nanawagan na ako na sana’y mapadali ang pagbibigay ng serbisyo sa ating OFWs sa pamamagitan ng pagtayo ng isang departamento na mamamahala sa pag-aalaga ng kanilang kapakanan,” he said.      “Noon pa lamang ay marami nang mga issues ang kinakaharap ng ating mga kababayang nagtatrabaho abroad. Ang paglipat-lipat ng ahensya ay naging pabigat na proseso sa kanila mula sa pagkuha ng kanilang mga permit, hanggang sa pagbigay ng tulong para maresolba ang mga problemang hinaharap nila sa ibang bansa,” Go added.      “Mas lumala pa ngayon dahil sa hirap na dulot ng COVID-19 crisis. Kung mayroon pong DOFWs, mas mapapadali sana ang koordinasyon ng mga ahensya at may iisang departamento na tututok sa mga pangangailangan nila,” he stressed.      The creation of the Department of Overseas Filipinos is one of Go’s priority bills filed just more than month after being elected as Senator in 2019 and is also part of the Duterte Administration’s priority legislative agenda. The House of Representatives has passed its version last March of this year. However, its Senate counterpart is still pending in the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development.      “Ako ay nanawagan sa mga kasamahan ko sa Senado na sana ay maipasa na ang panukalang itayo ang ‘Department of Overseas Filipinos’,” Go said.      Under his proposed Senate Bill (SB) 202 or the Department of Overseas Filipinos Act of 2019, Go said that the measure aims to make government more efficient and responsive to the needs of Filipinos abroad. The bill aims to put concerned government agencies dealing with OFW concerns under one umbrella.       “Tungkulin ng ating pamahalaan na pangalagaan ang kapakanan ng ating mamamayan na nasa abroad. We should make sure that all Filipinos in distress, here or abroad, are given timely assistance and that measures are also undertaken to protect their welfare, especially in times of crises,” said Go.      The proposed measure aims to also address perennial issues, such as the need to ease the coordination among offices concerned with OFW affairs; immediate legal assistance to OFWs in distress; lack of full migration cycle approach in promoting migrant’s rights from pre-employment, onsite and reintegration services; and lack of shared database system that contains all information of all OFWs to aid in tracking their status and fast track delivery of assistance to distressed workers.  Currently, services and information are scattered throughout several offices.      “Katulad ngayon, madaming dinadaanan pang iba’t ibang ahensya bago makaresponde  ang gobyerno sa mga OFWs na humihingi ng saklolo. Iba-iba ang concern, iba-iba ang kailangang lapitan pa mula DFA, OWWA, MARINA, at iba pa,” Go said.      “Nalilito ang ating mga OFWs sa pangkasalukuyang sitwasyon. Sa oras na kailangan nila ng saklolo, hindi na nila alam sino dapat lapitan kaya sa media o Facebook sila nananawagan,” he added.      “If mayroon na tayong department for OFWs, iisa na lang ang lalapitan at iisa na lang ang makikipag coordinate na departamento. Magiging mas maayos ang pagresponde sa mga krisis at mas mabilis nating matutulungan ang ating mga kababayang humihingi ng saklolo,” he stressed.      The proposal also aims to strengthen and streamline the government’s capability to respond to the needs of OFWs and help ease their burden in the future.      “Kawawa po talaga ang mga OFWs ngayon. Hindi naman po natin akalain na ganitong kalawak ang epekto ng COVID-19 sa kabuhayan ng mga Pilipino lalo na mga OFWs. Huwag na po natin silang mas pahirapan pa. Let us learn from this COVID-19 experience,” he said.       Go stressed that the challenges currently faced by OFWs and the difficulties experienced by the government in responding to their needs show the relevance of the proposal to establish a department with a sole mandate to handle the concerns of our “modern day heroes”.      To ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of response to OFW concerns, the bill proposes that the following agencies and their powers and functions, funds and appropriations, records, equipment, property, and personnel be transferred to the new department to be established: Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Commission on Filipino Overseas (CFO), International Labor Affairs Bureau of the Department of Labor and Employment (ILAB-DOLE) and National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO).

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Indoor Summer Fun at Toy Kingdom

May 16, 2020

With more kids staying home this summer, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a break, rest and spend some quality time with the whole family. Stay at home and let Toy Kingdom bring the fun into your doorstep with their wide variety of amazing toy finds now available for purchase at Lazada.     Little chefs will love the Kid’s Dough Cooking Set, Ice Cream Set and Motion Air Sand Deluxe Cookie Maker. Ryan’s World Treasure Chest, on the other hand, will surely thrill the little pirates.      Keep your kids’ minds creative and inspired with games from Cogo in city and farm themes. Board games like Uno, Monopoly, and Pictionary Air are great for family bonding and fun; while table games like Air Spring’s pinball shoot and air soccer will keep kids active and sporty.     Tech-savyy kids, on the other hand, can also enjoy an ultimate home entertainment experience with Toy Kingdom’s PS4 mega pack and various home video games.     Experience an enjoyable summer fun at home with these toys from Toy Kingdom. Check out these amazing finds and more available at https://www.lazada.com.ph/ and wait for your items to be delivered right into your doorsteps.  Also, don’t forget to stay home to help in the fight against COVID-19.     For more updates visit www.toykingdom.ph and follow ToyKingdomPH at Facebook and Instagram.

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