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Asia Pacific health leaders to meet on COVID-19 virtually

October 3, 2020

CAGAYAN de Oro City--Health ministers and senior officials from across the region will meet virtually from October 6-9 for the 75th session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a press statement. "The Committee is WHO’s governing body for the Region. It meets annually in October, usually face-to-face," it said, adding "This year will be the first time it meets virtually." Topics to be addressed include: COVID-19, vaccine-preventable diseases, and immunization, safe and affordable surgery, and ageing and health The Regional Committee meeting will be attended by: * Regional Director Dr Takeshi Kasai, WHO country representatives and other staff across the Western Pacific * Ministers of health and senior officials representing countries and areas of the Region * Nongovernmental and other partner organizations. During the press conference, Dr Takeshi Kasai, will give remarks and answer questions on COVID-19 and other agenda items to be addressed by the Regional Committee. He will be joined by Dr Babatunde Olowokure, WHO Regional Emergency Director for the Western Pacific. (PR)

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El Salvador City in Misamis Covid funding until December

October 2, 2020

CAGAYAN de Oro City--The component city of El Salvador in Misamis Oriental can still sustain its COVID-19 measures until December while positive cases are still on the rise in Northern Mindanao. Mayor Edgar Lignes said they still have available funds which will be taken from the re-aligned 20 percent development fund. He said the city has P510 million budget for this year, and P540 million for 2021. The mayor said he has allocated P5 million for El Salvador’s Covid-19 response for next year. He added the city government has already spent 95 percent of the P35 million Bayanihan grant from the national government. He said the bulk of the Bayanihan grant and the city’s own funds was spent on food packages given to most of the residents. El Salvador has about 56,000 inhabitants. Lignes said the provincial government of Misamis Oriental also gave El Salvador P1 million in assistance, which was used to construct isolation rooms for Covid-19 suspected cases and patients, as well as in the purchase of rapid test kits and protective personal equipment. For his part, Agripino Estrada Jr., El Salvador vice mayor, said they will approve any proposal for inclusion of Covid-19 response funds in the annual budget for 2021. Estrada added the city council will begin budget deliberation anytime this month. As of Sept. 30, Misamis Oriental has a cumulative 404 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 206 active, 195 recovered, and three deaths. El Salvador has 20 cases, with 12 active cases, and eight recoveries. Of the 12 patients positive with Covid-19, three are confined at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center, while nine are staying at the city’s isolation facilities since they did not manifest any symptoms. Meanwhile, Lignes said has approved the re-opening of some of the city’s tourist attractions with the basic health protocols still in effect. Recently re-opened is the Divine Mercy Shrine, one of the most visited religious sites in Northern Mindanao. Also considered as an attraction at the Divine Mercy is the 50-foot statue of Jesus Christ. Aside from the religious shrine, Lignes said the city government has also approved the re-opening of beaches, but not swimming pools. Among those back in operation, he said, is the Burias Shoal Marine Sanctuary in Barangay Molugan. “We have limited the number of beach goers who can go to the Burias Shoal. We have Bantay Dagat volunteers who keep watch and ensure that health protocols are followed,” Lignes said. Maj. Patrick Dalangin, El Salvador city police chief, said he has deployed units to patrol tourism sites that have recently opened, especially at the Divine Mercy. We have security measure at the shrine. We have assigned a mobile patrol at the road intersection going to the Divine Mercy, which will also enter the shrine from time to time, so that they can immediately respond to any call for assistance, Dalangin said.

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NBI arrests 'pimp' in Oro

October 2, 2020

CAGAYAN de Oro City--Authorities arrested a man suspected of being a pimp who kept young women, many of them minors, in his residence, and is now facing a string of cases, the the National Bureau of Investigation in Region 10 (NBI-10) said Thursday. Lawyer Patricio Bernales Jr., NBI-10 regional director, identified the suspect as Jeffrey Mendez, a resident of Barangay Carmen here. Bernales said among the complaints filed against Mendez were rape, child prostitution, keeping a minor in his company in any private place, and qualified trafficking. Bernales said Mendez was arrested at his rented pad where the three females were allegedly staying. NBI-10 operatives and officers from the Department of Social Welfare and Development-10 conducted the raid that led to the rescue of three females, two of them minors on Tuesday (Sept. 30), he said. He said that based on the testimonies of the women, the suspect acted as their pimp and one of them even accused Mendez of sexually abusing her. Bernales said the suspect usually contacts his clients through phone and would bring the victims to them. He said the suspect’s identity was only known when a female minor who claimed to be one the victims managed to escape and went to the police recently. That victim is now in the care of a private organization that has been helping abused girls based in Cagayan de Oro. Her escape was what triggered us to conduct a surveillance on the suspect, Bernales said in an interview. In a separate interview, Mendez has denied that he pimped out the victims saying he only allowed them to sleep in his rented residence.

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46th Philippine Business Conference: Oro, MisOr finalists in PCCIs Most Business Friendly Local Government Unit Awards

September 29, 2020

THE local government units of Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental have been chosen finalists for the 2020 Most Business-Friendly Local Government Unit Awards of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Cagayan de Oro is a finalist in the Highly Urbanized Cities category while Misamis Oriental in the 1st Class Provinces, respectively. Winners will be announced on October 8, 2020 during the virtual 46th Philippine Business Conference.   “The PCCI is spearheading this year, during the period of extreme challenges brought about by COVID-19 pandemic and various disruptions, the search for local government units that have been successful in restoring and increasing the business operations in their area thru significant and sustained innovative actions,” said Ma. Teresa R. Alegrio, PCCI Area Vice President for Mindanao. “In line with the 46th Philippine Business Conference's (PBC) theme which is anchored on innovation, this year's LGU awards initiative aims to highlight LGU success stories and best practices that go beyond ordinary to address the overwhelming negative impacts of the current pandemic to the business community,” she added. The PCCI has been conducting the search for the Most Business Friendly LGUs for the last 18 years to recognize outstanding efforts and commendable practices of LGUs in the country to promote trade and investments, employment, transparency, accountability and efficiency in delivering business services. The selection is based on five criteria: trade, investments, and tourism promotions; public-private sector partnership; micro, small and medium enterprises [MSME] development; quality management system, innovations, and human resources development; and inter-local government relations. The award has categories and each has 2 levels: City Level 1 – for highly urbanized/independent component 1st to 3rd class cities; and Level 2 for 4th to 6th class cities. The Provincial Category is similarly divided into Level 1 for 1st to 3rd class provinces; and Level 2 for 4th to 6th class provinces; as is the Municipal Category: Level 1 for 1st to 3rd class municipalities and Level 2 for 4th to 6th class municipalities. LGUs which are repeat winners in their respective categories include Muntinlupa City in City Level 1 (2017, 2018) and Calaca, Batangas for Municipality Level 1 (2017, 2018). Special citations will be awarded to LGUs that have demonstrated exemplary programs or initiatives in any of the areas of the award criteria: Quality Customer Service, Public-Private Sector Partnership, Investment Promotion, MSME (Micro Small Medium Enterprises) Development), Quality Management Systems and Innovation. Interviews for component cities and municipalities are still ongoing as of press time. The virtual 46th Philippine Business Conference and Expo will be conducted on October 7-8, 2020. carries the theme innovation@ph that seeks to provide a roadmap for businesses to effectively navigate uncharted territories and to chart a more sustainable and secure future for themselves and for the country. It will scrutinize into the country’s innovation ecosystem and deep dive into how executives in government and across industries are leading digital transformation across different aspects of government and business operations.ch for the Most Business Friendly LGUs for the last 18 years to recognize outstanding efforts and commendable practices of LGUs in the country to promote trade and investments, employment, transparency, accountability and efficiency in delivering business services. The selection is based on five criteria: trade, investments, and tourism promotions; public-private sector partnership; micro, small and medium enterprises [MSME] development; quality management system, innovations, and human resources development; and inter-local government relations. The award has categories and each has 2 levels: City Level 1 – for highly urbanized/independent component 1st to 3rd class cities; and Level 2 for 4th to 6th class cities. The Provincial Category is similarly divided into Level 1 for 1st to 3rd class provinces; and Level 2 for 4th to 6th class provinces; as is the Municipal Category: Level 1 for 1st to 3rd class municipalities and Level 2 for 4th to 6th class municipalities. LGUs which are repeat winners in their respective categories include Muntinlupa City in City Level 1 (2017, 2018) and Calaca, Batangas for Municipality Level 1 (2017, 2018). Special citations will be awarded to LGUs that have demonstrated exemplary programs or initiatives in any of the areas of the award criteria: Quality Customer Service, Public-Private Sector Partnership, Investment Promotion, MSME (Micro Small Medium Enterprises) Development), Quality Management Systems and Innovation.   Interviews for component cities and municipalities are still ongoing as of press time. The virtual 46th Philippine Business Conference and Expo will be conducted on October 7-8, 2020. carries the theme innovation@ph that seeks to provide a roadmap for businesses to effectively navigate uncharted territories and to chart a more sustainable and secure future for themselves and for the country. It will scrutinize into the country’s innovation ecosystem and deep dive into how executives in government and across industries are leading digital transformation across different aspects of government and business operations.

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OTC official lauds ‘cashless transactions’ initiated by transport coops

September 25, 2020

CAGAYAN de Oro City-A top official of the Office of Transportation Cooperatives (OTC) has lauded the implementation of 100 percent “cashless transactions” by modernization-compliant vehicles of two transport cooperatives. OTC Executive Director Eugene M. Pabualan said cashless transport operation will provide ease for both the drivers and commuters, even as he congratulated South Metro Transport Cooperative (SMTC) and Libra Jeepney Operator Transport Cooperative (LJOTC), which recently began implementing cashless transactions, enforcing the “No Card, No Ride” rule to passengers availing public transport rides.   “OTC would like to commend and congratulate Metro South (SMTC) and Libra (LJOTC), both operating as transport cooperatives, for advancing the vision of the program. Good Job,” Director Pabualan exclaimed.   Both transport cooperatives (TCs) are implementors of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP), and adopting the collectively-owned and controlled PUVs through fleet management system. This operational scheme modifies traditional ways of operating public transport that includes the provision for an automatic fare collection system, among other trip monitoring technology applications. Pabualan said, “In the PUVM program, it is often misconstrued that modernization is only all about the units of jeepneys, buses, taxis and other types of modes. That idea is incomplete. The program actually gears towards overhauling the uncomfortable system. Essential part of it is the payment method.”   SMTC, which operates 15 Class II PUV units (electric-powered), plying the route Star Mall (Alabang) – Zapote, Las Piῆas, started implementing 100% cashless transactions in July 2020.   Meanwhile, LJOTC started the same cashless transactions on August 19, 2020, using its 19 Class II PUV units (Euro IV-compliant) within the route Punta, Sta. Ana – Quiapo.   Both TCs offer green cards to their passengers priced at Php 30 to 40 each. Passengers can buy and reload their cards in their respective terminals, designated drop off points, and from drivers.   Benefits   LJOTC Chairwoman Estela Buensuceso said they strictly implemented the “No Card, No Ride” policy not only to comply with the PUVMP requirement but also to protect their drivers, members, and passengers from contracting COVID-19.   She also added that this type of transaction can help address “mal-practices” in transport financial operations because they can easily monitor their income.   For his part, SMTC Chairman Jun Saw expressed optimism for an increase in their income through cashless transactions, assuring, too, of drivers who are more focused on passengers’ safety instead of collecting fares.   Traditionally, cash payments were facilitated by the drivers themselves while driving the unit. In the initial stage of the operation of the modernized PUVs, the cooperative hired public assistance officers (PAOs) to accept both cash and non-cash transactions and ensure passengers’ comfort and safety. In the case of 100% cashless transactions, LJOTC ensured that their PAOs would not lose their jobs. Buensuceso explained that some PAOs were assigned to be cashiers in the terminal, while others have assisted in selling and reloading cards.   Challenges faced   The implementation of a 100% cashless transaction came not without difficulties but the two transport cooperatives came up with ways to address them.   To help passengers purchase their green cards and further incentivize cashless payments, SMTC conducted a promo that provided cards for free, which already carried an initial Php30 worth of load per card.   LJOTC, meanwhile, lowered the cost of each card to Php20 to make it more affordable.   Saw pointed out that even though they started cashless transactions last February 2019 yet, there are still passengers who preferred paying cash.   Buensuceso also mentioned that they are continuously educating and informing passengers on how to use the cards, as their passengers are still adjusting with this type of transaction.   On the other hand, Saw said that they rely on CCTV to make sure that their passengers tap in and out, aside from conducting random inspections during trips.   Passengers’ feedback   Despite the challenges, Buensuceso said they received positive feedback from their passengers.   Saw added that some passengers who commute everyday preferred the cashless transaction. He said that some opt to reload higher amounts on their green cards for longer period of use.   “Magiging maayos siguro lahat kung 100% ang implementation ng government na lahat ng PUV dapat wala nang tumatanggap ng cash (Cashless transactions will be properly implemented if the government enforces all PUVs to refuse cash payments),” Saw said. Both TC heads encouraged other TCs to also implement 100% cashless transactions for public health and safety amidst the pandemic. (PR)

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321 NPA rebels, supporters surrender in Agusan del Sur

September 19, 2020

BANCASI, Butuan City--Some 321 members of the New People's Army (NPA) and their supporters operating in Esperanza, Agusan del Sur surrendered to the military, a report reaching the Mindanao Daily News Online said yesterday. The NPAs and their supporters surrended during the peace rally and mass withdrawal of support ceremony on September 15, 2020 held at the Esperanza National High School Gymnasium, Barangay Poblacion, Esperanza, Agusan del Sur. The former NPA members and the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) supporters have openly denounced through a march protest rally, the atrocities and continuous exploitation of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) of their communities. They expressed their sentiments against the CTG’s deception method and continuous hardship they have brought to them. the military said in a press statement. Some 32 members and supporters of the CTG composed of 29 regular NPA members, 80 Milisya ng Bayan members, 12 supporters, 151 mass organization members, 23 contacts, and 26 couriers, all residents of Esperanza have pledged allegiance to the government and vowed to eradicate the influence of the CTG in their communities, the report said. It said that Guerilla Front (GF) 88, GF89 and GF4B of North Central Mindanao Regional Command (NCMRC) are the CTGs conducting agitation, organizing and recruitment in the said municipality to include extortion and threat. Since January 2020, the miliatry said 607 CPP-NPA Terrorist (CNT) CNTs were already neutralized (killed, apprehended or surrendered) through combat operations, joint law enforcement operations and Community Support Program of the government.   The Municipal Task Force in Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict spearheaded by  Leonida M Manpatilan through the efforts of the Community Support Teams (CSTs) of the 26th Infantry (Ever Onward) Battalion under the operational control of the 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade facilitated the Signing of Manifesto entitled “Manipesto sa Among Pagbugto sa Pagka-miyembro sa Kalihukan sa CPP-NPA-NDF Organisasyong Masa ug Militar”. Mayor Manpatilan lamented the continuous threat brought about by the CNTs who sow fear by killing innocent civilians who refuse to support their movement in order to maintain control and influence in the communities. She also commended the courage and bravery of her constituents for coming back to the folds of the law and have now become peace partners of the government. Fifteen members received financial assistance worth fifteen thousand pesos (Php15, 000.00) each from the LGU of Esperanza while the rest will still undergo validation. Meanwhile, Brigadier General Maurito L Licudine, the Commander of the 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade, said that the shift of support of the former members of the CNTs and its mass supporters were already anticipated due to the strong advocacy of the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Esperanza led by their Municipal Mayor in facilitating the Whole of Nation Approach convergence to address the insurgency problem in their municipality. “Local Chief Executives need to rise up and be the voice of their people in addressing this menace plaguing our communities for several decades. We are fortunate that Mayor Manpatilan and Vice Mayor Siohan together with their Sangguniang Members have joined hands with the security sector and recognized that only in an environment of peace that use can realize peaceful and progressive communities,” Licudine said. “We call on the other Local Chief Executives to strengthen their resolve to fight these terrorists. Much is expected from our local leaders as they are the key element in leading their respective constituents in driving away the communist terrorist from their communities. Together let’s fight these pests who hamper the socio-economic development potentials of communities for the past decades," he said. Licudine also encouraged remaining members of the CTG to surrender and avail the E-CLIP that can provide opportunities for them to start a new life. Also in attendance in full support to the activity of the MTF ELCAC were Governor Santiago Cane Jr, the Provincial Governor of Agusan del Sur, Lt Col Reynald Romel A Goce, 26IB Commanding Officer, and Datu Carlos “Balubaguio” Otacan, the Municipal IP Mandatory Representative of EADS. (PR)

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