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28th MinBizCon to raise six policy agenda to Duterte

September 12, 2019

THE 28th Mindanao Business Conference will raise six major policy agenda to President Rodrigo R. Duterte when he addresses the closing plenary of the annual event on Saturday, September 14, 2019 at the MSU-IIT gym in Iligan City. The Mindanao Business Conference is an annual area conference organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce Inc. (PCCI) led by President Alegria Limjoco and Area Vice President for Mindanao and 28th MinBizCon Chair Merlou Quisimbing.    This year’s host is the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Iligan Foundation Inc. (CCIIFI) led by President and 28th MinBizCon Director Reggie Punongbayan. Ma. Teresa R. Alegrio, PCCI Region 10 Governor identified these policy agenda as Upgrading Airport Capabilities in five key areas; increasing private 2sector consultations and participation in the Roads Leveraging Linkages for Industry and Trade (ROLL IT) program;  expediting action on the TRABAHO Bill given its Implications to Business; Fast-tracking the Rehabilitation of Agus-Pulangi Hydropower Plant ; Institutionalizing the Whole-of-Nation Approach under EO 70 to address Mindanao’s perennial peace and order issues; and, Fast-tracking the Economic Recovery of Marawi City. Upgrade Airports in Key Areas The first policy agenda seeks the upgrading of airports’ capabilities in Pagadian, Ozamiz, Surigao (and Siargao), Camiguin, and Laguindingan Airport. “Mindanao’s air passenger volume performance in 2011 to 2018 is surpassing the country’s annual average growth rate (9.7% vs. 7.7%), coupled with an increasing share (12.0% to 13.1%),” Alegrio noted.  Aside from Mindanao’s 5 biggest airports of Davao, Laguindingan, Zamboanga, General Santos and Butuan, the Ozamiz, Pagadian, Camiguin, and Surigao Airports have exhibited increasing shares and growth – a testament of their rising significance to business and to the influence areas they cater to, she added. Among the actionable areas being sought by the MinBizCon are increased transparency on the entire project cycle of all airport development projects, the upgrading of night time operations capabilities of all airports, and the acceleration of the procurement process for Laguindingan Airport’s upgrade, expansion, operations and maintenance given the OPS status granted to Aboitiz InfraCapital unsolicited proposal. ROLL-IT Program Meantime, the private sector is asking DPWH and DTI to conduct regular consultations between and among the Mindanao regions with business and industry sectors of all regions to improve transparency and spur participation/optimize benefits of the Roads Leveraging Linkages for Industry and Trade (ROLL IT) program. Intensifying regular consultations and feedback mechanisms would improve the knowledge level of the private sector and should include orientation on the entire project cycle (planning to evaluation), regular consultations with the local industry leaders for project identification, and dedicated website portals for effective monitoring of project implementation. The policy of the national government during the procurement process e. g., opening of sealed bids, should designate the private sector representative as a permanent and voting member of the bids and awards committee, and not merely as an observer. TRABAHO Bill The private sector is seeking a similar protocol from the Department of Finance (DOF) as the main proponent of the TRABAHO bill to undertake a series of consultations similar to small town-hall meetings with the business sector to provide first-hand information on the relevant contents, and implications to members of the business community, labor and to the national economy. With the failure of the bill to pass last Congress, the TRABAHO package needs to be refiled in the House of Representatives in the 18th Congress. Even if passed, this is expected to be a protracted process, thus the business community need to increase lobbying efforts on the legislative process in order to fast-track its enactment into law, while allowing for more in-depth analysis on its implications to labor and human capital, internal revenues, business competitiveness, trade performance, health and education, countryside investment, among others. Proposed comprehensive reforms on taxation and in fiscal incentives are seldom undertaken resulting to dissimilar and contrasting interpretations and implications. Hence, it is imperative for the national government, more particularly the DOF as the main proponent of the TRABAHO package of tax and fiscal incentives reforms, and together with other government agencies The TRABAHO package forwarded by DOF intends to progressively lower the current corporate income tax (CIT) from 30% to 20% over a 10-year period to benefit MSMEs that constitute the bulk of business establishments in the country. It also aims to modernize the current convoluted fiscal incentive environment to make it more ‘pro-investment and pro-incentive’ i.e. create more jobs, advance R & D, cause technology transfers, encourage innovation, stimulate domestic industries, promote countryside development, and diversify to high-value export goods. Agus-Pulangi HEPP Rehab In another key policy agenda, the private sector is asking the DOF and DOE to fast-track the Rehabilitation of Agus-Pulangi Hydropower Plant (HEPP) in the 2020 National Expenditure Program plan, being the most significant and urgent challenge to the power sector as it has far ranging ramifications on the business climate and competitiveness dynamism of Mindanao. Corollary to the fast-tracking of Agus-Pulangi system’s rehabilitation is the privatization mandated by the EPIRA law. PSALM together with the Joint Congressional Power Committee (JCPC), should consider other options such as a hybrid privatization where the Operations and Maintenance (O& M) can be privatized but the ownership of the facility remains with government. Another option is to exclude the Agus and Pulangi HEPPs from the privatization plans of PSALM and seriously considered this in the amendment of the EPIRA law. The websites of the departments of Finance and Energy and the National Power Corporation should contain a dedicated section on the status of the rehabilitation of the Agus-Pulangi hydroelectric power plants and evolving completion targets, if any.  Furthermore, the updates should include progressive updates on the privatization of these HEPPs. At present the procurement of services for the feasibility study is still underway and if proceed as planned; the entire rehabilitation will take place within the next 4 to 5 years or, 2023 to 2024.  Cost has been estimated to exceed a little over US$1.0 Billion.   EO 70 Whole-of-Nation Approach To address Mindanao’s perennial peace and order problem, the private sector is seeking the institutionalization of the Whole-of-Nation Approach detailed in Executive Order No. 70 (EO 70). As the most crucial first step, this policy agenda seeks the formation of regional and/or city ad-hoc inter-agency and multi-sectoral groups facilitated by the designated lead government agency to fast-track the attainment of inclusive and sustainable peace. Government agencies and their instrumentalities can present to the ad-hoc groups their respective plans and programs in accordance with their respective mandates that can significantly contribute to EO 70.  In the same manner, the private sector partners can likewise present complimentary plans and programs.  Only then can an implementation plan be formulated that defines the activities to be undertaken, the extent of required resources (manpower, funds, hardware and technology) needed, with responsibilities clearly allocated amongst the members.    Issued in December 2018, EO 70 reframes and refocuses government policy as it recognizes that insurgencies, internal disturbances and tensions, and other armed conflicts and threats are not only military and security concerns, but symptomatic of broader social, economic, and historical problems, such as poverty, historical injustice, social inequality, and lack of inclusivity, among others. Thus, the whole-of-nation approach addresses the root causes by prioritizing and harmonizing the delivery of basic services and social development packages by the government, by facilitating social inclusivity, and by ensuring active participation of all sectors of the society in the pursuit of the country’s peace agenda. Fast-tracking the Economic Recovery of Marawi City Not the least, the private sector seeks the following measures to expedite the economic recovery of Marawi City following the protracted siege by Islamic terrorists. ADB estimates 369,196 persons with about 100,000 school-aged children were displaced from Marawi City and surrounding municipalities, with 270 civilians killed; 5,627 houses damaged including one municipal hall, one public market, 69 school buildings and 10 madaris, 21 health facilities; and, 73.8 kilometers of city roads and 3 bridges, numerous water supply and distribution assets, and 30.4 kilometers of power distribution lines destroyed. To fast track the rebuilding of the city’s economy, the private sector is asking the DTI and other relevant government agencies especially members of the Business and Livelihood Sub-Cluster to continue, enhance and further accelerate efforts to assist the Marawi business community through external marketing and promotion of local products and services. Orientation by DTI on the Supplier Development Program should be conducted soonest to explore potential opportunities with the business sector. For DTI, the City Government of Marawi, the Provincial Government of Lanao del Sur, with the support of multilateral donor agencies, to establish a Business Resilience Center to institutionalize the promotion of overall business and economic recovery and ensure unparalleled prosperity and growth for Marawi City; as well as enable the business community to pro-actively adapt to future disruptions while strongly maintaining continuous business activities, and safeguarding people and assets. For DTI with partner MFIs and other private financial institutions to design and support an expanded and Marawi-specific financing packages with risk-mitigation features for the entrepreneurial business community in Marawi. And lastly, for DICT to strongly urge private telecommunications companies to immediately restore the necessary infrastructure to improve telecommunication connections in Marawi.

Townfolk wont allow cutting of centuries-old giant Toog tree

September 11, 2019

SAN Fracisco, Agusan del Sur--The centuries-old giant Toog tree of this town believed to be the tallest in the country will no longer be cut down after all. Concerned residents, local officials and tree preservation advocates had reached a common ground in a meeting at the town hall yesterday that the 54-meter Philippine Rosewood (Petersianthus quadrialatus) will be spared from the cutting down order by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). DENR Caraga Regional Executive Director Felix Alicer had earlier gave a go-signal to cut down the tree due to the potential danger it poses to the lives of people, particularly commuters passing by the national highway. The giant Toog tree , already a landmark tourist spot of this town, is situated just a few meters of the Maharlika highway in Barangay Alegria. “We will do everything possible to preserve the Toog tree. It’s everybody’s concern. This is a national heritage,” said Mayor Solomon Rufila as the meeting concluded. Engineer Mauro Bravo Jr., an old-timer resident and a former District Engineer of the Department of Public Works and Highways, has led to move to defer the order as he pushed for another professional advise form an arborist to examine the condition of the towering tree estimated to be around 300 years old. “Let’s make the tree healthy again. It is an important treasure for us long-time residents here,” he said. Engineer Jaime Bernat, another retired DPWH district engineer, suggested to put up a reinforced concrete buttress with enough spece to breath inside to prevent what DENR experts claimed about its impending collapse. “If we kill this treasure , then we lost our pride,” he said. Engineer Marjun Ursos, a grandson of Vice Mayor Bernardino Ursos who is a structural engineer and planning head at the National Irrigation Administration, wanted mitigating engineering application to prevent the centuries-old Toog from cutting down. “The Toog tree is a symbolism of the people of Agusan del Sur on how they care for the environment. If we dare to cut the giant tree then we can easily cut even smaller ones everywhere else,” Ursos said. For his part, Davao City-based  Forester Jose Kanapi, vice president of Society of Filipino Foresters, Inc in Region 11, said their group made a firm stand to oppose the cutting down of the Toog tree citing a law on tree preservation. Kanapi referred a comment from a professor of University of the Philippines-Los Baños who told him to relay his message to DENR that “the decision was horrible.” He asked not to name the professor. Confronted with pressure, Forester Jerome Albia, DENR Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer based in Bunawan town, changed the tune saying the clearance issued by Alicer was not automatic since they would respect the outcome of the meeting. He however said the move to put up a structure to support  the leaning Toog tree is a long-term solution but the need to treat the sick tree is immediate. Albia suggested the pruning on the branches of the tree where some decay was also spotted. Dennis Gilbero, science research specialist of DENR Forest and Wetland Research Development and Extension Center ( FWRDEC), made a presentation at the meeting on the results of an analysis of the Toog tree including its biomechanics which found a high potential hazard at 5.4 rating which is considered high risk of collapsing. But Dr. Marcelino Pacho, a tree surgeon who once worked with DENR’s Environment and Natural Resources-Ecosystem Research and Development Bureau, had recommended for a treatment and rehabilitation of the giant Toog tree during her visit here on April 24.

Suspect in killing of 2 painters surrender

September 10, 2019

ILIGAN City--The gunman of two painters killed early morning on Monday (September 9) appeared at Iligan City Police Station 4 (ICPS-4) exactly 12 hours after the incident happened in Purok 1, Barangay Tambacan this city. Police Captain Aiman Pantaran, chief of ICPS 4, said the suspect, 33-year old Gino Capuyan, tried to evade the crime he committed by asking his cousin Alex to claim the motorcycle he left while he escaped after he gunned the two victims. Capuyan is a member of Special Cafgu Active Auxilliary (SCAA) assigned at a checkpoint in Hinaplanon Bridge in Barangay Hinaplanon, Iligan City. “After some interrogations with Alex Capuyan, it was found out that the real owner of the motorcycle is Gino, who was also identified by witnesses as the one who shot the victims,” Pantaran said. Around 11 in the evening on September 9, Gino Capuyan, appeared at police station 2 and admitted the crime he committed. It was 5:30 in the morning on Monday, September 9, when Rio Concepcion and his nephew, Mark, were shot by the suspect while playing card games in a vigil in Tambacan. Pantaran said the incident started in arguments and alleged cheating in their card games. “The suspect used .45 caliber pistol and shot the victims, Rio on the head and on his chest while Mark sustained gunshot wounds on his head, chest and stomach,” Pantaran said. The suspect is now at the custody of police station 4 for filling of appropriated against him.

All GCTA convicts from Region 10 accounted for

September 10, 2019

ALL convicts released under the Good Conduct Time Allowance from Northern Mindanao have been accounted for. According to PNP Regional Office 10 spokesperson Lt. Col. Mardi Hortillosa, the eight convicts are now under the custody of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and were released earlier between 2016 and 2019. Their cases ranged from murder to rape, robbery with homicide and arson. Four of them came from Bukidnon as their home province; two from Lanao del Norte; one from Camiguin; and one from Iligan Cituy. Hortillosa said all eight surrendered voluntarily, beating President Duterte's 15-day deadline or else they would be declared as fugitives. "I would like to thank these personalities for their voluntary surrender that made our job easier," PRO 10 director Brig. Gen. Rafael Santiago Jr. said.

Woman keeps partner's decaying body in Oro

September 6, 2019

CAGAYAN de Oro City--A woman kept the decomposing body of her live-in partner for days in keeping with his partner’s promised that he would get well soon. Village officials found the decomposing body of a certain Romeo Bagtong, 50, who was presumed to be dead for the last four days since Monday. Local officials and neighbors, who barged into the house, found the live-in partner Melita Alembo, 38, in between sobs, beside the victim’s body while picking up lice on her hair. Melita told the police investigators that her live-in partner suffered a “cram” and told her that he would be well in five minutes. “I decided not to report the incident because he told me that he will recover soon. I did not also know what to do,” Alembo said. A certain Grace, the closest neighbor, told police that she heard suspicious moaning sounds in the house of the couple Monday. After that Melita was seen coming out of the house to wash clothes. Since Monday, the victim has not come out of the house, the neighbor said. “I told my son to peep on the house to find out what happened. It was dark in the house that my son saw nothing,” she said. Grace said that they never heard that the couple had a quarrel since they lived at the relocation site. The police are now conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the death of the victim while holding Melita, the live-in partner, in custody. -0-

Broadcasters in Caraga to plant thousands of trees

September 3, 2019

SAN Francisco, Agusan del Sur--Local broadcasters will make good anew what they preached on the airwaves to preserve and protect the environment with the massive planting of trees in the open areas of the mountains on September 7. This year’s edition of Oplan Broadcastreeing , a nationwide simultaneous tree growing  activity initiated by Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), will draw around 2,600 people from all walks of life in Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur. Max Tutor, Chair of KBP Agusan del Sur-Surigao del Sur Chapter, said at least four areas in the neighbouring provinces have been identified for the activity where participants will plant the tree seedlings mostly of different indigenous species. The areas for the tree planting activities are in Mt. Magdiwata in San Francisco town and the mountainous village of Calaitan in Bayugan City, Barangay Patong in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur and in Bislig City where they already held it in August 25. Philsaga Mining Corporation will provide some 1,000 seedlings of indigenous species incluing Narra, Yakal and Lauan  with  laborers and transportation while the San Francisco Water District will identify the site and committed for the clearing and land preparation in the Mt. Magdiwata area. The Community Environment and Natural Resources Office nin Bunawan town will also provide some 300 seedlings of mixed Gmelina specie. Some 800 people will join in San Francisco, 600 people in Bayugan City , about 500 in Tandag City while 700 joined in Bislig City. The local government units will support in transporting the tree planters towards the sites especially students in different collegiate private schools are expected to participate. San Francisco Mayor Solomon Rufila will deliver an environmental message in a short program before they will proceed to the site in Mt Magdiwata. To energize the participants, an early morning zumba exercise will be held in front of the town hall.


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