todays top stories

Selfie amid pandemic

November 1, 2020

Amid the strict implementation of health protocols, these women are seen taking selfie outside a mall in Pasay City without wearing face masks and face shields. Photo by Gerry Lee Gorit

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As Covid-19 spikes, IHR urges focus on measures that work

October 31, 2020

GENEVA, Switzerland--The Emergency Committee on COVID-19 met on October 29 to review the situation and progress made on the temporary recommendations.  The body advised that the pandemic still constituted a public health emergency of international concern, and urged a focus on response efforts based on lessons learned and strong science. WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus accepted the advice of the committee, stating that “WHO will continue to work in partnership across the world to drive science, solutions and solidarity.” The committee expressed appreciation for WHO’s leadership and activities throughout the global response, including its critical role in developing evidence-based guidance, providing countries with technical assistance and critical supplies and equipment, communicating clear information and addressing misinformation, and convening the Solidarity Trials and the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. The committee provided concrete and targeted advice for WHO and countries to focus on in the coming months. It emphasized the importance of evidence-informed, risk-based and coherent measures in relation to international traffic, surveillance and contract tracing efforts, maintaining essential health services including mental health services, and preparing plans for future COVID-19 vaccines. The committee urged countries to avoid politicization of the pandemic response, seen as a major detriment to global efforts. Read the full statement [LINK]. As the committee convened for the fifth time, global reported cases had reached 44 million, with over 1.1 million people having lost their lives to COVID-19.

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RC Cagayan de Oro turns over global grant to Philippine Red Cross

October 30, 2020

THE Rotary Club of Cagayan de Oro turned over a global grant to the Philippine Red Cross CDO-MisOr chapter in ceremonies held Wednesday. Global grants support large international activities with sustainable, measurable outcomes in Rotary’s areas of focus. By working together to respond to real community needs, clubs and districts strengthen their global partnerships. Global grants have a minimum budget of $30,000 and a maximum World Fund award of $400,000. Grant sponsors can use a combination of District Designated Funds (DDF), cash, and/or directed gifts and endowment earnings to fund a global grant. The Foundation will provide a 100 percent World Fund match for all DDF contributions. In this case, the global grant was applied during the time of immediate past president Julino Dulfo in 2019. Past RI District 3870 governor and district Rotary Foundation chair Manuel Along recalled that it was during a training among fellow Rotary Foundation district chairs in Clark last March 2019 that they were encouraged to apply for the global grant. Along, who is organic to the Rotary Club of Cagayan de Oro, then met with Dulfo so they could apply for a global grant. It so happened that Philippine Red Cross CDO-MisOr chapter chair Antonio Soriano also happened to be a member of the Rotary Club of Cagayan de Oro. And so it was decided that the global grant, once approved, will be turned over to the Philippine Red Cross CDO-MisOr chapter. The global grant that they applied for was to be used to install a blood bank refrigerator, a plasma freezer, an incubated platelet agitator, a tube sealer and a T-seal mobile. These are equipment that will increase capacity to store blood at the blood center and replace antiquated equipment. Soriano is grateful to the Rotarians, saying the global grant is timely in the light of COVID-19. 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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BSP affirms industry’s role in advancing financial inclusion

October 30, 2020

BANGKO Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno recently graced the first anniversary virtual celebration of Pru Life UK Investments, the asset manager of leading life insurer Pru Life UK. As part of the month-long celebration, the webinar titled “Pilipinas Rising Up!” discussed the role of investments in reshaping the future of financial inclusion in the country. The event was attended by over 1,500 people, including customers, agents, business partners, subject matter experts, industry practitioners. “We are honored to have the opportunity to share insights and exchange best practices with Gov. Diokno in advancing financial inclusion in the Philippines. In line with our ‘We DO Wealth’ commitment, we are eager to play a bigger role to enhance the financial wellbeing of our customers through Pru Life UK Investments and its selection of funds that cater to their long-term savings needs,” says Pru Life UK President and CEO Antonio “Jumbing” De Rosas. In the webinar, BSP Gov. Diokno reiterated that investing is one of the best options for Filipinos to secure and grow their wealth. He highlighted the investment industry’s crucial role in pushing for financial inclusivity, especially in a period of uncertainty. He also shared data on the growth of financial inclusion in the country in the past two years. Findings from BSP’s 2019 Financial Inclusion Survey indicated that account ownership increased to 29 percent from 23 percent in 2017--translating to five million new accounts in just two years. E-money accounts drove the overall growth in account ownership, increasing to 8 percent from a mere 1 percent. Meanwhile, BSP also observed an uptake in other financial services within the same period: formal credit (19 percent from 14 percent), insurance (23 percent from 18 percent), and investment (25 percent from 23 percent). Despite the positive trends, Gov. Diokno stressed that there is much to be done to drive financial inclusion as 54 million Filipinos still do not have any form of investment. Further to these findings, Gov. Diokno cited that increasing connectivity within the communities and providing a wider array of products and services are substantial efforts to improve Filipinos’ financial well-being. “Financial inclusion has become a compelling strategy for sustainable growth. Investments are critical for realizing financial inclusion as these lead to greater market participation and enterprise opportunities,” says Gov. Diokno, after congratulating Pru Life UK Investments on its first anniversary. Milestones during the first year Since its launch last year, Pru Life UK Investments’ fund portfolio now consists of eight products, each tailored to the clients’ risk appetite of conservative, moderate, or aggressive investments. In May 2020, the company launched three new products – PRUInvest PHP Dynamic Equity Fund, PRUInvest PH Equity Index Tracker Fund, and PRUInvest USD Intermediate Term Bond Fund. It currently has over 900 clients serviced by 1,090 certified investment advisors (CIAs). Meanwhile, it is also the asset manager of Pru Life UK’s latest offering--PRULink Equity Index Tracker fund launched in September. The fund aims to provide high potential returns by mirroring the performance of the Philippine Stock Exchange Index (PSEi). “As we enter our second year of operations, we will continue to provide customers with options to invest their money and diversify their portfolios albeit uncertainties in the financial markets. With support and encouragement from BSP, we are pleased to perform our duty to protect and grow Filipinos’ wealth so they can enjoy a financially-secure life,” says Pru Life UK Investments President and CEO Lee Longa. As part of its celebration, the company earlier conducted “esPRUsso: A Coffee Talk with Pru Life UK Investments CEO Lee Longa” for its CIAs and “PRUInvesTalks Module 4,” a virtual learning session hosted by Francis Kong, a renowned business speaker and recipient of the Outstanding Filipino Award in 2014. The latter also featured Pru Life UK Investments CIA Angela Gaw-Flores, who shared her perspectives on being a financial advisor amid the pandemic. For more information about Pru Life UK Investments, visit www.prulifeukinvestments.com.ph. (PR)

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Mercury-laced skin lightening creams available in Lazada, Shopee, Facebook

October 30, 2020

THE Environmental watchdog organization BAN Toxics urges local online shopping centers Lazada, Shopee and Marketplace on Facebook to enforce stricter measures to prevent sale of mercury-laced skin lightening products. In 2019, Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG), an international coalition of public interest environmental and health non-governmental organizations, of which BAN Toxics is a part of, tested 158 skin lightening creams from 12 sampling countries. Ninety-five of which exceeded the allowable limit of 1 ppm (part per million), with mercury levels ranging from 40 ppm to over 130,000. ZMWG released the Dirty Eighty list to warn consumers about the product brands. Several of the tested brands were bought from online shopping centers. Research in October 2020 showed that mercury-laced skin lightening creams are still widely available on Lazada, Shopee, Marketplace by Facebook, eBay and Amazon. Mercury is a toxic chemical listed by the World Health Organization as one of their top chemicals of major health concern. Regular application of mercury-laced skin products can lead to skin damage, while long-term exposure to high levels of mercury can cause harm on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, with some cases leading to death. Primary sources of human exposure to mercury and its compounds are from dental amalgams, mercury-laden hospital devices, and artisanal and small-scale gold mining activities. The Philippines ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury on July 8, 2020, making it the 123rd country to join the treaty.[4] Sale of products with mercury content is illegal and punishable by law according to the Chemical Control Order-DENR Administrative Order 2019-20 (CCO-DAO 2019-20). CCO-DAO 2019-20 also requires entities to provide liability insurance coverage separate from public liability insurance to guarantee payment for cleanup, damage claims and accidents should an issue arise.[5] “Lazada, Shopee, and Facebook need to take a stronger stance against mercury-added products to protect their consumers,” says Reynaldo San Juan, Executive Director of BAN Toxics. “Removing mercury-added skin products from the shelves alone is not enough. These websites need to enforce stricter policies to protect consumers from mercury by requiring approval before sale of skin lightening products,” San Juan adds. “Policies and implementation gaps on protecting Filipinos from mercury must be addressed as soon as possible to prevent more people from harm.” (PR)

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What Now? Refinitiv gathers global finance data experts to analyze what’s next for economies

October 30, 2020

THE economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is greatly felt across the world, but data points to a hopeful path. According to the latest Refinitiv Retail and Restaurant Earnings Index, the average industry income for retail and dining will remain negative for the rest of the year but will slowly bounce back in the first quarter of 2021.  While consumption trends may have dampened, a common observation is stronger support towards local businesses. This is just one of the reports that Refinitiv has released to better understand the state of industries amid the pandemic. The company shares its findings and more via its latest offering What Now?, a five-part documentary series on YouTube that looks at the building blocks of the global financial system as the world comes out of quarantine. Refinitiv specializes in data, analytics, trading, and risk assessment tools. Its position on the pulse of the global financial market allows access to trends and information that could shape solutions to the economic crisis. “At Refinitiv, we believe that data is just the beginning and can be utilized to help economies move forward. The data we gather can be used not only to make sense of the present, but also to help design our future. What Now? aims to guide leaders to make the right choices towards a more sustainable tomorrow,” says Refinitiv Manila Co-Site lead and Director of Order Management Jeff Dawis. What Now? takes a deep dive into the impact of COVID-19 on key economic foundations such as the household, corporations, and governments, and what the future looks like for these structures. The series also explores the chances of economic rebound and recovery, and identifies the changes that will last throughout and beyond the recovery period. The documentary is hosted by macro analyst Roger Hirst. In each episode, he is joined by experts in business and finance to share their prospects for a rapidly evolving world. Hirst is joined by legendary investor Jim Rogers; Danielle DiMartino, chief executive officer of Quill Intelligence; Martin Wolf, chief economist of the Financial Times; Hak Bin Chua, senior economist at Maybank; Mark Yusko, CEO of Morgan Creek; entrepreneur Luke Johnson; and many more. “COVID-19 may have caught us off-guard but with the insights of global experts, comprehensive data, dedicated analysis, and determined leadership, we can take back control of our economic future,” shares Dawis. Apart from What Now?, Refinitiv also utilized its expertise to help decision-makers and stakeholders manage the COVID-19 impact. The firm has published reports, conducted webinars, and hosted knowledge transfer initiatives among its analysts. Locally, Refinitiv Philippines held a virtual leadership webinar to give managers the needed skills to effectively lead their teams. “Refinitiv recognizes that data is a powerful tool to unlock information that could potentially shape the future. We place greater importance on the people that analyze these data since it is the human element that adds nuance to our insights. Refinitiv continues to care for its employees by implementing a work from anywhere setup and supporting their employees’ pandemic-related advocacies. The financial provider also cares for the community it works in, thus giving them the analyses in What Now? to allow them to strategize and move forward,” ends Refinitiv Director for Contributed Content, Customer Operations and Managed Services Lei Buendia. Watch the complete episodes of What Now? on YouTube at youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2-78gs9nRfNfxIu5lWV3ySSqQS8ASZpH.

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