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Typhoon-affected farmers, fishers in Catanduanes get more than P200-M worth of agri-fishery assistance

November 13, 2020

Agriculture Secretary William Dar on November 10, 2020, handed over more than P200-million worth of farm and fishery assistance, benefiting thousands of farmers and fishers in Catanduanes, particularly in the municipality of Bato, where typhoon “Rolly” hit hardest, and in the capital town of Virac. The agri chief joined Senator Christopher “Bong” Go and three other department secretaries — Francisco Duque of health, Silvestre Bello of labor and employment, and Rolando Bautista of social welfare and development — who also extended their respective financial aid, food packs and other forms of assistance to Catandunganons, who felt and experienced the brunt and devastation of the strongest typhoon that visited the country this year, according to DOST-PAGASA. Senator Go led the handing of assistance to typhoon victims through Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua, Bato Mayor Juan Rodulfo, and Virac Mayor Sinforoso Sarmiento, Jr., during a simple program held at the Bato Central Elementary School and at Virac municipal multi-purpose auditorium that were both partially damaged by typhoon “Rolly.” The various DA assistance for typhoon-affected farmers and fishers in Catanduanes and Bicol region, respectively, consist of: ·      P121 M – to rehabilitate abaca farms in Bicol region through the DA’s Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA); ·      P23-M worth of seeds of hybrid and inbred rice, corn and assorted vegetables, urea fertilizer, 4-wheel tractor, and farm implements for Catandunganon farmers; ·      P25 M – for fishing boats and engines, nets and other paraphernalia, marine plywood and other materials for boat repair, tilapia fingerlings, canned sardines, and other forms of assistance from the DA’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for Bicol region, of which P5.5M will go to Catanduanes; ·      1,000 metric tons or 20,000 bags (50 kg each) of rice from the DA’s National Food Authority (NFA) for the Province of Catanduanes; ·      Crop, livestock or fishery insurance payments, ranging from P10,000 to P15,000 per insured farmer, from the DA’s Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC), alloting a total of P592.4 M as insurance payments for 32,761 Bicol insured farmers affected by super typhoon “Rolly;” and ·      Emergency and rehabilitation loan, worth P25,000 per borrower, from the DA’s Agricultural Credit and Policy Council (ACPC), under its Survival and Recovery (SURE) loan program. The DA-ACPC allotted an initial P100M for Bicol under the SURE program. The loan is non-collateral, has zero interest, and payable in 10 years. During the program in the town of Bato, Senator Go also handed over P10-M financial assistance from President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to the province of Catanduanes. He also distributed hundreds of face masks and shields, boxes of medicines, and dozens of bicycles and computer tablets. Last week, Secretary Dar also visited Polangui, Albay, where he led the distribution of P90-M worth of various assistance to typhoon “Rolly” affected farmers and fishers. The initial estimate of the agri-fishery damage in Bicol due to typhoon “Rolly” amounts to more P3 billion, said DA Bicol Regional Director Rodel Tornilla. During the visit in Catanduanes, Secretary Dar was joined by DA Undersecretary for Operations Ariel Cayanan, NFA Administrator Judy Carol Dansal, BFAR Director Eduardo Gongona, PhilFIDA Administrator Kennedy Costales, and DA Spokesperson and Assistant Secretary for Strategic Communications Noel Reyes.  (DA StratComms)  

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Bong Go urges careful study to ensure safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines

November 13, 2020

Senator and chair of the Senate Committee on Health Christopher “Bong” Go issued a strong reminder to the Department of Science and Technology and other relevant authorities to avoid any pressure in the vaccine approval process, and to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine before it is distributed to the general public. “Kailangan siguraduhin muna natin na safe na, so antayin muna natin ang pag-aaral ng health experts at concerned authorities tulad ng Food and Drug Administration at ng DOST. Magkakaroon naman ng clinical trial. Alam ko nagmamadali na ang ating mga kababayan pero dapat unahin natin ang safety,” Go said during an interview after visiting typhoon victims in Bato, Catanduanes on Tuesday, November 10. He disclosed that Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Carlito Galvez Jr., the country’s newly designated vaccine czar, had identified potential vaccines from which government could make its decisions. “Kagabi, inabot sa amin ni Secretary Galvez ang mga possible na vaccine natin na pwedeng kunin. Iba’t-ibang presyo, iba’t-ibang bansa. ‘Yung iba, nasa stage three na. In fact, ang ating Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte gusto na rin magpa-vaccine [dahil] may edad na [siya],” he added. His statements come after an American pharmaceutical company announced a vaccine candidate it is developing with a German partner was determined to be 90% effective based on initial trial results. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III cautioned during the interview that the effectiveness of any vaccine must first be validated by the DOST and the country’s vaccine expert panel before it can be distributed within the country. “Hindi tayo pwedeng maniwala basta-basta ng mga claims so kailangan po validation. Kailangan i-validate ng iba’t-ibang eksperto. Sa isang taon pa ang bakuna. Gusto man natin bukas kung kakayanin pero ‘di ganun dahil sinisiguro ng pamahalan na maging ligtas at epektibo ang bakuna. Number one ang kaligtasan. Sinisiguro natin ang kalidad,” said Duque, before stressing the importance of waiting for the World Health Organization’s assessment on the matter. Senator Go continued and reassured the public that the government’s national vaccination program would prioritize the poor and vulnerable who have been most affected by the pandemic. “Huwag kayo mag-aalala. Uunahin namin [ni Pangulong Duterte] ang mahihirap, vulnerable. Alam ko, hirap na sila pero importante maging safe na muna ang vaccine na ito,” he stressed. Under Republic Act No. 11494, otherwise known as the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, the government has set aside P10 billion as standby funds for the testing and procurement of COVID-19 vaccines and medication . Under its initial plan, the government intends to purchase vaccines for twenty million Filipinos. Medical frontliners, including barangay health workers and other healthcare workers, shall be vaccinated first. Senior citizens, low-income households and the vulnerable sector will also be prioritized. In recent weeks, Go issued an appeal to the government to find ways to provide COVID-19 vaccines for free to poor and vulnerable sectors once they are declared safe and effective. “Naiintindihan din namin ni Pangulo ang kahalagahan ng pagbibigay-prayoridad sa mga mahihirap na Pilipino pagdating sa COVID-19 vaccine. Kaya naman po umapela rin ako sa gobyerno na mag-develop ng isang national vaccination program na mangangasiwa sa sistematikong pag-i-immunize sa ating mga kababayan kung saan uunahin natin ang mga mahihirap at parte ng vulnerable sectors. Dapat gawing libre ang COVID-19 vaccines para sa mga pinaka-nangangailangan nito,” he stressed. (OSBG)

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‘Grateful’ Velasco takes oath before PRRD

November 13, 2020

House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco took his oath of office, this time before President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in a private ceremony held at the Rizal Hall in Malacañan Palace Monday night. “I am deeply honored to be sworn in by President Duterte who I admire a lot and have high regard for. He is also one of the persons to whom I am greatly indebted,” Velasco said The oath-taking happened on the same day Velasco celebrated his 43rd birth anniversary and almost one month after he was elected Speaker by an overwhelming majority of House members last Oct. 12. Velasco once again thanked the President for all his help in making sure the speakership term-sharing agreement he brokered last year would be followed. The Marinduque lawmaker promised to pay it forward by carrying out the legislative agenda of the Duterte administration in Congress. Velasco said the House will adhere to the Chief Executive’s call for enabling legislation that would put an end to systemic corruption and protect the interests and welfare of overseas Filipino workers, farmers and fisherfolk. “I assure the President that he can rely on Congress to help him fulfill his promises to our people before his term ends in 2022,” Velasco said. As the 27th House Speaker, Velasco also vowed to exert all efforts toward attaining his goal of a “stronger, inclusive and united House.” “We will work together in Congress to pass laws that are timely and responsive to the needs of our countrymen and to make the lower chamber truly the House representing the people,” he said. Velasco first took his oath before barangay captain Allan Franza of Matandang Balara, Quezon City, shortly after his election as Speaker in a remote session held at the Celebrity Sports Plaza last Oct. 12. The following day, more than 200 House members ratified his election at the plenary hall of the Batasan Pambansa in Quezon City. (House of Representatives PPAB)  

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Nat’l ID syst can address delays in gov’t aid distribution to beneficiaries - DSWD official

November 13, 2020

 The Philippine Identification System or PhilSys can help address recurring delays in the distribution of government assistance to beneficiaries. This is according to Assistant Secretary Joseline Niwane of the Department of Social Welfare and Development at a public webinar recently organized by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS). Niwane, who served as a discussant at the PIDS event, said that one of the major causes of delays in distributing government assistance like the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) is the lack of identification cards among many beneficiaries.   She said that through the PhilSys, it would be easier for the department to identify target recipients for social protection programs like the SAP. “Once the national ID system is in place, we will be able to assist our beneficiaries directly through digital means. They will also be able to access government benefits better and faster,” the DSWD official explained. DSWD currently relies on the SAP forms distributed and provided by barangay officials and local government units. PIDS Senior Research Fellow Jose Ramon Albert, the main presenter in the webinar, supported Niwane’s statement. The national ID system’s implementation in the Philippines is long overdue, he said.  “It should have been implemented years ago before the pandemic. Unfortunately, there have been some delays in its implementation that is why, as Assistant Secretary Niwane pointed out, it has not been easy for the DSWD to provide the SAP and other kinds of benefits [to the people],” he said. Albert also emphasized the need to have ‘data interoperability among government agencies’ once the national ID system is in full swing. “Will [other government agencies] be able to share databases with the DSWD so that we won’t be wasting resources?  Because sometimes, we seem to be giving too many benefits to people, and we don’t know whether there are actual changes in their lives as a result of all the programs that we are [providing them],” he pointed out. Concurring with Albert, Niwane said that government agencies must synchronize and share their data to prevent beneficiaries from receiving “double or triple assistance”. Data interoperability will also help the government monitor the assistance’ impact on the beneficiaries' lives, she added.      Moreover, Albert underscored the importance of data privacy in the implementation of the national ID system. “We have a stringent privacy law that is sometimes misunderstood by people. How do we implement [the national ID system] while maintaining privacy? The issue is not whether people should have access to one’s personal information. It is more of making sure that there will be those who will be made accountable because sometimes people can misuse the access to data,” he said.   The nationwide implementation of the PhilSys is mandated by Republic Act No. 11055, otherwise known as the “Philippine Identification System Act”. Signed by President Duterte on August 6, 2018, the Act decrees the establishment of a single national identification system that aims to provide a valid proof of identity for Filipino citizens and resident aliens in the country.   The PhilSys is lodged with the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA). The agency aims to register low-income household heads by the fourth quarter of 2020 and open the registration to the general public by 2021.  Watch the video of this seminar at https://www.facebook.com/PIDS. PH/videos/256956769024542. For more videos of PIDS events, go to https://www.pids.gov.ph/videos .  (PIDS)

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Andanar lauds Laguna report as province with highest COVID-19 recovery rate

November 6, 2020

The province of Laguna, which used to be one of the COVID-19 hotspots in earlier months, is now among areas with the lowest COVID-19 active cases and rising as the LGU with the highest COVID-19 recovery rate at 91%. During the Pagdalaw sa Laguna: “Explain, Explain, Explain” conference on Wednesday, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar lauded the development of the COVID-19 situation in Laguna. The said conference aims to present and bring closer to the people the programs and services of the national government amid the pandemic, and provide an avenue for stakeholders to acquire and share updates on the COVID-19 situation of the locality. “Kailangan po natin maipakita sa buong Pilipinas kung gaano po kagaling ang Laguna na maresolba ang kaso ng COVID-19. We need to inspire yung iba pang probinsya sa labas ng Laguna at maipakita kung paano nagkakaisa ang LGUs dito. We should show the entire Philippines how united we are laban sa COVID-19 [We need to show the whole Philippines how well Laguna handled the COVID-19 cases.  We need to inspire other provinces outside of Laguna and show that LGUs are united here.  We should show the entire Philippines how united we are against COVID-19],” he said. “But more than anything, it is really to send the symbol of hope, symbol of a united front and also para maipakita natin na mayroong mga ehemplo na pwedeng tularan ng iba pang lalawigan sa buong Pilipinas [But more than anything, it is really to send the symbol of hope, symbol of a united front and also to show that there are good examples that can be emulated by other provinces all over the Philippines],” he added. In previous months, high numbers of COVID-19 infections were reported in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, prompting the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF COVID-19) to designate Cabinet members to oversee said areas. Secretary Andanar is the designated “Big Brother” of the anti-COVID coordination for Laguna, linking gaps among LGUs and state agencies and ensuring synchronized COVID-19 responses. As of November 3, 2020, Laguna recorded 15,300 coronavirus infections, of which 1,063  are active cases however with no reported patients under severe condition. The province logged 13,925 recoveries and 312 fatalities. The PCOO chief assured that aside from COVID-19, the government maintains commitment to assist and respond to areas affected by typhoons and the pandemic, while bringing timely information needed in emergency cases and dismissing disinformation. “Sa gitna ng unos, naniniwala kami na ang involved public is an informed public. Kaya kami sa Presidential Communications Operations Office  at aming attached agencies ay walang tigil at walang kapaguran sa pagpapalaganap ng impormasyon tungkol sa mga responses, actions, at programs ng administrasyong Duterte para mabawasan ang epekto ng COVID-19 at ng maiwasan ang mga di inaasahang sakuna mula sa mga bagyo at iba pang mga kalamidad [Amid the storm, we believe that an involved public is an informed public.  So we at the Presidential Communications Operations Office and our attached agencies are relentless and tireless in disseminating information about the responses, actions, and programs of the Duterte administration to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and to prevent unforeseen accidents from storms and other calamities,” he said. Key officials present during the conference include the Department of Health (DOH) Director Beverly Ho, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Director Irene Dumlao, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Sarah Arriola, Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Roldan Gorgonio, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Ruth Castelo, Small Business Corporation (SBCorp.) Strategy for Policy and Systems Sector Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Josefina Flores, and the Regional Task Force Against COVID-19. (PCOO)

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Bong Go sends aid to fire victims in Zamboanga City

November 5, 2020

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go continues to provide assistance to Filipinos in need, particularly those affected by fire incidents. On Tuesday, November 3, Go’s personnel distributed aid to 134 Muslim families from two barangays in Zamboanga City whose houses were ravaged by two separate fire incidents. One hundred twenty seven families from Barangay Campo Islam and seven families from Barangay Calarian received meals, food packs, masks, face shield, cash assistance and medicines. Go’s team strictly complied with the necessary health and safety protocols in line with national and local policies during the activity. “Alam ko ang inyong pinagdadaanan ngayon, kaya ako nagpadala ng tulong sa inyo. Nandiyan po ang aking staff dala ang pagkain, food packs, masks, face shields. Mayroon ding cash assistance at medicines para sa inyong lahat,” Go said in a video call. He also urged each beneficiaries to cooperate with authorities, follow health protocols, and use the masks and face shields as a way to prevent transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country. With the limited transportation due to the health crisis and the need to commute to work, Go provided bicycles to selected beneficiaries. Go’s team also gave away tablets to another set of selected beneficiaries for their children to help them in the blended learning approach being implemented. “Mahirap ang transportasyon ngayong panahon dahil sa nangyayaring health crisis sa bansa. Kaya mayroon po akong bisikletang ibibigay sa iilan sa inyo,” Go said. “Sa mga bata, may binigay akong mga tablets sa inyong mga magulang. Mayroon lang akong pakiusap sa inyo. Mag-aral kayo ng mabuti dahil edukasyon ang ating tanging puhunan sa mundong ito. At tayo po, mga magulang, pagsikapan natin na makapagtapos ang ating mga anak,” he added. The Senator also urged fire victims to go to the nearest Malasakit Center located in Zamboanga City Medical Center to avail of medical and financial assistance for their healthcare needs. The Malasakit Center is a one-stop shop where the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, PhilHealth and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office are housed under one roof to conveniently provide medical and financial assistance from their existing programs for poor and indigent Filipino patients. “Para sa mga Pilipino itong Malasakit Center. Isinulong ko ito para maging batas dahil alam kong makakabenepisyo kayo dito. Hangad ko at ni Pangulong Duterte na mabigyan kayo ng maayos at mabilis na serbisyo, lalong lalo na sa inyong kalusugan,” Go said. Meanwhile, representatives from the DSWD also provided separate financial assistance to the beneficiaries under their existing program for individuals in crisis situations. They also gave away relief kits for the affected families. Personnel from the Department of Trade and Industry were also present to assess and validate potential beneficiaries for the livelihood assistance under the Pangkabuhayan sa Pagbangon at Ginhawa livelihood program. The National Housing Agency also assessed and validated fire victims for housing assistance under the Emergency Housing Assistance Program (EHAP). “Magtulungan tayo lalo na sa panahon ngayon. Basta kami ni Presidente Duterte, magseserbisyo kami para sa inyo sa abot ng aming makakaya,” Go reiterated. “Magbayanihan at magmalasakit tayo sa kapwa para malampasan natin ang mga pagsubok na ito. Sino pa ba ang magtutulungan kundi tayo ring mga kapwa Pilipino,” he ended. (OSBG)

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