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Fintech usage among Filipinos increases amid COVID-19 pandemic—BSP

November 4, 2020

AMID the pandemic brought about by Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19), the use of financial technology (Fintech) or “technology-enabled innovations in financial services and payments” in the country had increased. This is according to Laura Ignacio, director at the Center for Monetary and Financial Policy of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). Ignacio served as a panelist during the Annual Public Policy Conference (APPC) organized by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS). With community quarantine and other restrictions in place since March, Ignacio said the BSP noted a “growing preference for digital transactions” among Filipinos, “as these are seen as safer and convenient [ways] in making payments and transferring funds”. There is a notable increase in the use of online payment transactions for the first and second quarter of 2020. According to Ignacio, this can partly be attributed to the “financial assistance extended by the Social Security System to micro, small, and medium enterprises” as well as the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Social Amelioration Program wherein the Land Bank of the Philippines transferred disbursements for beneficiaries to their bank accounts. Consequently, data also showed that the volume of automated teller machine withdrawals dropped by almost 30 percent for the first 45 days of the enhanced community quarantine. Similarly, the volume of check payments declined by 70 percent. The BSP has also marked an increase in the volume of EGov Pay transactions—the facility that digitized government collections and disbursements for taxes, licenses, permits, and other obligations to the government—of 688 percent since its launch in November 2019. These trends are welcomed by the BSP, which has been promoting financial inclusion in the country. “The use of electronic payments is greatly encouraged with the zero fees on PESONet and InstaPay, as well as with the digitalization of payments for social benefits, wages, and transportation. The increase in digitization and the public’s acceptance and greater usage of these electronic platforms also promote financial inclusion, which is a major advocacy of the BSP,” Ignacio explained. However, she also warned the public against the potential risks that may arise with the increased use of digital transactions. These risks include disruption in financial services due to system capacity constraints and fraud and cyberattacks, such as phishing and the emergence of malicious websites. Another is the diversion of funds to money laundering and financing of terrorism. The lack of infrastructure, particularly poor internet connectivity in the rural areas, may also result in the public’s loss of trust in digital payment facilities. Ignacio noted that the BSP has already implemented regulations and measures to ensure that these risks are managed via a three-fold approach: risk-based, proportionate, and fair regulation; active multistakeholder collaboration among the industry, users, and consumers; and consumer protection through communication campaigns.   “With a balanced approach to financial innovation, the BSP strives to create an enabling environment for new technologies and digital transformation. Moreover, the regulations [must] continue to adjust to these developments, so as not to compromise consumer protection standards and ensure the welfare of the consumers,” she explained. The APPC is the main and culminating activity of the Development Policy Research Month (DPRM) celebration led by PIDS every September. This year’s DPRM theme is “Bouncing Back Together: Innovating Governance for the New Normal” (PR)

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Army, police nab NPA rebel in Agusan del Norte

November 4, 2020

BUENAVISTA, Agusan del Norte--Joint forces of the 23rd Infantry “Masigasig” Battalion and the Butuan City Police Office (BCPO) from Stations 1 and 5 arrested an active member of the Militia ng Bayan (MB) and Sanga sa Partio sa Lokalidad (SPL) under the Guerrilla Front (GF) 4-A, North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC) of the Communist New People’s Army (NPA) Terrorist (CNT) during a law enforcement operation conducted on November 1, 2020, at Purok 22, Bagong Silang, Barangay San Mateo, Butuan City. The apprehended CNT member was identified as Eduardo Namaog Bagsican @LOLONG, 55, and a resident in the area. The police personnel and the 23rd IB troopers were in the area for the service of an arrest warrant issued against the subject CNT member. Bagsican is wanted for the crime of Attempted Murder docketed as Criminal Case No 2020-985 at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 3 in Butuan City. His arrest warrant was issued by Judge Marigel S. Dagani-Hugo with a recommended bail bond of PHP150,000.00. After the arrest, authorities brought the CNT member to BCPO station 5 for custody and proper disposition. Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paulo, the Acting Commander of 23rd IB commended the Army and police personnel involved in the arrest of Bagsican. “No one is above the law,” Paulo said, referring to the remaining members and supporters of the CNTs in Butuan City and Agusan del Norte. He pointed out that the government will not stop in performing law enforcement operations against CNT members who have standing warrants of arrest and the implementation of the programs and services under Executive Order No. 70, or the Whole-of-Nation approach to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC).   “We will do our best to neutralize all the spoilers of peace and those who destroy our country. It is always the aim of the government to make this country constantly soaring high to achieve lasting peace and sustainable development,” Paulo said. He also urged the remaining members of GF 4-A of the CNT to surrender as the government continue to offer them programs and services.   “Stop exploiting, manipulating, harassing and extorting from the people, especially those in the countryside. You are only making the lives of our people miserable and their communities impoverished,” Paulo said. He also reminded the CNT members that criminal charges will be filed against them once they continue to harass and intimidate residents. “Once the evidence warrant, then criminal cases will be filed against you and arrest warrants will be issued. You cannot run away or hide from the long arm of the law,” Paulo said.  (PR)

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Ex village chief in Oro asks city fiscal to inhibit in murder case

November 3, 2020

CAGAYAN de Oro City--Willam Guialani, the former village chief of Taglimao, called on Assistant City Prosecutor Alfonso Vicente to inhibit in the prosecution in the handling of the case where he (Guialani) is the alleged suspect. In his motion for inhibition filed on October 30,2020 with the Office of the Prosecutor of Cagayan De Oro City, Guialani asked that a panel of prosecutors be constituted to handle the investigation of the case to avoid a “miscarriage of justice” and in consideration of the seriousness of the case. Guialani was tagged as the mastermind the in the killing of Carlos Lam, 58, a local Chinese businessman, who was shot by two unidentified motorcycle riding suspects in his farm in Canitoan, an outskirt village of Cagayan de Oro City on July 18,2020. In his motion for inhibition, Guialani alleged that Vicente is “biased” in favor of the complainant when he (Vicente) admitted the supplemental affidavit beyond the period of 10 days in violation of the “rules” of the Department of Justice (DOJ) on preliminary investigation. He said that the admission of the Vicente of the supplemental affidavit that implicate the supposed killer Gregorio Anog, which then required the respondent to file a reply violated the rules of due process. Guialani alleged that “Vicente admitted that Anog was supposedly identified as the alleged suspect in the killing of Lam as early as August, 2, 2020, but, was not even charged.” He said that the filing of the case against him without the filing of the charges against Anog was a “clear sign of manifest bias on the part of the investigating police officers and the private complainant, Roger Kwong Lam, the brother of Carlos Lam. Guialani also alleged that aside from a being a “golfing buddy,” Vicente and Atty. Dale Mordeno, the lawyer of the complainant Roger Lam, are brothers in a fraternity Guialani also doubted Vicente’s motive when he (Vicente) ordered the process sever to personally deliver the supplemental affidavit subpoena to him. Guialani, is remembered as one of the complainants in the string of violation of anti-graft cases, some were dismissed, filed against Cagayan De Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno. (PR)

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BAN Toxics spearheads relief operations after Sitio Bliss flash flood

November 3, 2020

THE Environmental justice watchdog organization, BAN Toxics, in collaboration with the Sharing Community, an online barter community organized by BAN Toxics, spearheaded relief operations to help Sitio Bliss residents affected by the flash flood on October 16, 2020. Sitio Bliss is in Poblacion, T’Boli, South Cotabato and was devastated by the sudden flash flood. BAN Toxics gathered rice, instant noodles, canned goods, bottled water, clothing, and beddings for the victims of the flooding. BAN Toxics and Sharing Community were able to collect the first batch of donations on October 20. The families whose houses were completely destroyed were prioritized during the distribution of donations. The displaced families were temporarily evacuated to an elevated area in Sitio Bliss. The Local Government Unit (LGU) of Barangay Poblacion ensured continued assistance to affected families. Sharing Community is an online barter community that BAN Toxics organized to respond to the challenges faced by many villages during COVID-19. It is an avenue to exchange or donate excess or unused goods for another product without having to shell out money. This barter system aims to promote sustainable consumption by addressing the problem with consumerism and overconsumption. This program was also conceptualized to address the problem with accessing produce due to the temporary closure of several businesses because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The flash flood displaced many families from their homes. BAN Toxics and the Sharing Community are conscious of the impact of this tragedy especially to the most vulnerable, children and people in need. We are grateful to be part of efforts to extend a helping hand to the flooding victims,” says Reynaldo San Juan, executive director of BAN Toxics. Relief operations for the victims of the flash floods are still ongoing. Barangay Poblacion LGU is calling for the continued donation of food, clothing, toiletries, kitchenware, laundry soap, trapal roof, and candles. (PR)

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Children in evac at risk of Covid-19

November 2, 2020

CHILDREN huddled in evacuation centres at risk from COVID19, as this year’s strongest storm batters the Philippines.   As hundreds of thousands of children huddle in evacuation centres following the most powerful typhoon in the Philippines for seven years, Save the Children fears the spread of COVID19.   Typhoon Goni made landfall across Luzon island on Sunday local time, bringing with it catastrophic winds, storm surges and widespread floods.   The extent of the damage in coastal areas is still unknown, but feared to have had a high humanitarian impact.   The CEO of Save the Children in the Philippines is Atty. Alberto Muyot. He said, “We call on the local government to urgently put in place proper health protocols to protect people sheltering in evacuation centres from life-threatening diseases including COVID-19.   “They must also ensure children and their families staying in evacuation centres are provided with hygiene essentials, nutritious food and clean water.”   “It is important local officials provide breast milk access to babies in case they are separated from their mothers, or mothers are unable to express breastmilk due to injury and psychosocial distress.”   The nation’s capital Manila, home to 13 million people, is bracing for the impact of the storm today.  Save the Children has fears for more than nine million people living in the city.   “The impact on the most vulnerable in Manila could be horrendous. We are especially concerned for 1.5 million families forced to live in dangerous conditions along railroads tracks, garbage dumps and riverbanks.”   As soon it is safe to do so, Save the Children will deploy aid workers to the worst affected parts of Luzon island. They will quickly distribute basic life-saving hygiene kits and emergency supplies. (PR)

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PUBLIC ADVISORY - PCSO

November 2, 2020

PUBLIC ADVISORY - In line with the latest weather forecast from PAGASA relative to the weakening intensity and estimated exit of Typhoon “Rolly” from the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR), as well as the projection on the nominal effects of Tropical Storm “Siony” over the country, the PCSO shall resume the conduct of Lottery Draws on Monday, 02 November 2020. Catch-up draws for the games covered by the suspension on 01 November 2020 shall be held tomorrow at 12:30 pm and may be viewed at PTV4's and PCSO’s official Facebook page and other social media accounts.    The selling of tickets remains continuous in all operational Lotto Outlets, subject to prevailing IATF and LGU rulings and ordinances. We thank the public for patronizing PCSO games in their respective localities while paying attention to their safety at all times.

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