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Go continues to respond to calls for help from victims of calamities amid ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; sends aid to 300 flashflood victims in Lopez, Quezon

October 27, 2020

After distributing relief assistance in Lucena City and Gumaca town, Quezon province the past days, the Office of Senator Christopher “Bong” Go proceeded to the municipality of Lopez to extend similar assistance to the flash flood victims on Friday, October 23. The activity, held at the Lopez National Comprehensive High School, benefited 300 individuals who were provided with meals, food packs, masks and face shields. “Ako po ay nalulungkot dahil marami pong nasalanta. Huwag ho kayong mag-alala dahil magtutulungan tayo para makabangon kayo. Sa abot ng aming makakaya, tutulong kami ng Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte sa inyo,” encouraged Go in his video call to the residents. Ang mahalaga ay buhay tayo. Ang pera pwedeng kikitain pero ang buhay hindi nabibili ng pera kaya kapit ho tayo at malalampasan rin natin ‘to,” he added. His staff gave away bicycles to several recipients as alternative mode of transportation amid travel restrictions. Others with children were given tablets for use in the online classes carried out by schools under the blended learning approach. “Pakiusap sa mga estudyante: mag-aral kayong mabuti. ‘Yan lang ang kaligayahan naming mga magulang ang makapagtapos kayong mga anak. Kami ay nagpapakamatay makapag-aral lang kayo. So, bilang ganti o konsuelo, mag-aral kayong mabuti,” he urged. Representatives from the Department of Social Welfare and Development were also present to distribute cash assistance and additional food packs. Additionally, the Senator thanked local officials for the support they extended to the victims, including Governor Danilo Suarez, Representative Angelina Tan, Representative Anna Villaraza-Suarez, and other local officials. Go also announced that President Rodrigo Duterte plans to distribute additional benefits to barangay officials, specifically barangay captains, kagawads, secretaries and treasurers as well Sangguniang Kabataan chairpersons and Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representatives this Christmas season in recognition of their service. “Tiis lang po tayo. Alam kong hirap kayo. Kami rin po dito hirap na hirap na kami pero hindi kami nawawalan ng pag-asa hangga’t nakikita namin ang bayanihan at pagmamalasakit ng kapwa nating mga Pilipino,” Go said. “Kayo ang nagbibigay lakas sa amin para makapag-serbisyo pa kami ng maayos at paigtingan pa ang pagtutulungan natin sa isa’t isa. Patuloy lang po kaming magsisilbi at magseserbisyo para sa kabutihan ng bawat Pilipino,” he added. (OSBG)

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DOF takes steps to untie legal knot on gov’t-held mining assets

October 27, 2020

The Department of Finance (DOF) is pursuing steps to untangle the legal issues tying down idle mining interests held by the government in an effort to speed up the privatization of these assets and revive their operations.    According to the Privatization and Management Office (PMO), lawsuits filed by the private sector proponents in the operations of these once-flourishing mining assets have hampered efforts by the government to privatize them.    “We are forming an interagency team to study ways on how we can clear the path for these assets to be privatized and revive their operations,” Dominguez said.    He said the team will be composed of representatives from the DOF, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the DOF-attached Privatization and Management Office (PMO), and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).    A memorandum by the PMO to Dominguez identified the copper-gold project of the Maricalum Mining Corp. (Maricalum Mining) in Negros Occidental, the nickel mines of the Nonoc Mining and Industrial Corp. (Nonoc Mining) in Surigao del Norte, and the gold- and copper-rich North Davao Mining Property (North Davao Mining) in Davao del Norte as among the idle mining assets held by the government that have long been under litigation.    The PMO also said the copper mines of the Basay Mining Corporation (Basay Mining) in Negros Oriental and the nickel mine once operated by the Marinduque Mining and Industrial Corp. (MMIC Bagacay Mine) in Western Samar have also remained inoperational because of legal concerns on how these assets should be disposed.   Dominguez recently told business leaders during the 46th Philippine Business Conference and Expo hosted by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) that the DOF had done a comprehensive assessment of state-held mining assets.   He said during the conference that the government is pushing the revival of the mining industry to provide jobs and energize economies in the countryside, as part of national efforts to restart the economy in the face of the pandemic-induced global economic downturn.   The mining industry, Dominguez has said, “provides jobs in (rural) areas where there are no other alternative jobs” available.    “Definitely, we are pushing for the revival of the mining industry,” he said during the PCCI virtual conference.    Maricalum Mining, Nonoc Mining and North Davao Mining were once successful mining companies that have failed to settle their debts with government financial institutions, leading to their foreclosure and transfer of their assets and shares of stocks to the national government.    The government then auctioned off the shares of these mining firms, but the firms with the highest bid failed to fulfill their obligations, which resulted in decades of litigation that have left these mining assets idle.    Maricalum Mining, led by its President, Teodoro G. Bernardino, has been tied up in litigation since 1995.  The winning bidder, G Holding Inc. (GHI), refused to pay the balance of the price of its purchased shares under its Purchase and Sale Agreement with the government. In the last General Information Sheet (GIS) filed by GHI with the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2005, it indicated Michael G. Bernardino as the Chairman of its Board with Eleanore B. Gutierrez as its major stockholder.   Nonoc Mining was acquired by the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and the Philippine National Bank (PNB) in 1984 and turned over in 1987 to the then-Asset Privatization Trust (APT).  In 1996, APT sold 22.5 million shares of stock of Nonoc Mining to Philnico Mining and Industrial Corp. (PMIC), now Philnico Industrial Corporation (PIC). Based on its 2018 GIS, the PIC Chairman of the Board is Ramon S. Ang, and its President is Horacio C. Ramos   The sale represented 90 percent ownership of Nonoc Mining.    Under the Amended and Restated Definitive Agreement (ARDA) between the two parties, PMIC agreed to pay APT the peso equivalent of US$263.762 million as purchase price, payable in two sets of installments and in accordance with the schedule set in the ARDA.   The government moved for the reversion of the shares sold to PMIC when the latter defaulted.    This led to numerous cases filed by both the private sector and the government against each other that eventually reached the Supreme Court (SC).   The issue is now awaiting resolution by the high court, the PMO said. To date, there has been no collection on the P14.9 billion purchase price.      The North Davao Mining case involved the bidding for a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) to develop its mining assets in partnership with the Philippine Mining Development Corporation (PMDC), a wholly owned and controlled government corporation designated as the new implementing arm of the DENR in undertaking the mining and mineral processing operations in Compostela Valley Province, among others.      The Asia-Alliance Mining Resources Corp. (AAMRC), led by its President Simon L. Paz, was qualified and considered as the highest calculated and responsive bid, failed to comply with the conditions of the Notice of Award in 2009, including failure to pay the commitment fee, secure a performance bond, and execute the JOA. A series of litigation ensued, and is still pending with the Court of Appeals (CA).    Basay Mining, formerly the CDCP Mining Corp. was established in 1970, but its operations were suspended in 1983 because of lack of working and operating funds. Basay Mining had entered into a Deed of Assignment of Mining Claims and Leasehold Rights with the PNB to secure credit and loan accommodations from the Bank.    Technical studies by the PMO indicate that the Basay mine is estimated to contain at least 105 million tons of copper ore and could generate at least Php 1 billion.   Similarly, MMIC Bagacay mine which has been mired in environmental complaints was foreclosed by the DBP and PNB in 1984 with an outstanding claim of P19.5 billion. Its assets were transferred to APT for privatization.    According to PMO, DENR Administrative Order (AO) No. 2012-07, which states that the MGB shall formulate the guidelines for the privatization of mines through public bidding, needs to be harmonized with the Privatization & Management Office’s mandate to dispose of state assets for a successful tender. (DOF)    

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Meat safety is a shared responsibility – Agri chief

October 23, 2020

Agriculture Secretary William Dar challenged the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to advance current practices and level up its food and meat safety protocols.   “Food safety, particularly meat safety, is a shared responsibility. We each have to do our part to keep and maintain safety in our own locality, and in the entire country, to ensure the health and wellness of all consumers,” said Secretary Dar, underscoring the importance of safe and clean meat industry, during the 48th anniversary of the DA-NMIS on October 20, 2020, in Quezon City.   “As part of the government and the DA family, the officers and personnel of the NMIS serve as gatekeepers of safe meat in our markets, and must continue to fulfill their duties and functions as public servants,” Secretary Dar said.   “Let us not miss the mark. We must not be distracted by the difficulties. No matter what difficulty we are in, whether we are in a pandemic or not, we proceed head-on. After all, we have sworn to protect the public against unsafe meat that can bring direct and indirect hazards and risks to our health,” the DA chief said.   He emphasized that NMIS should ensure that necessary standards and regulations are observed, urging employees to always practice good governance and sustain anti-corruption efforts.   Guided by the theme “Sa Anumang Panahon, Malinis na Karne ang Layon,” the 27th Meat Safety Consciousness Week — which also coincides with the 48th founding anniversary of NMIS — highlights the role of the agency in ensuring that the Filipino consumers enjoy quality, affordable and wholesome meat amidst increased threats to food safety and food security.   The Meat Safety Consciousness Week, held every third week of October, is mandated under Proclamation 276 and signed by then-President Fidel V. Ramos.   Secretary Dar said the agency should work closely with the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) to address transboundary animal diseases such as African Swine Fever (ASF) and Avian Flu.   He also reiterated the importance of building strong partnerships with stakeholders as well as local government units (LGUs) that are at the forefront in ensuring meat safety particularly when border controls were set up to control ASF and lockdowns imposed to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus.   Further, he directed the inspection service to help LGUs enhance their capabilities in implementing the Meat Inspection Code of the Philippines in their respective localities.   He also urged NMIS staff members to properly carry out the guidelines specified in the Food Safety Act of 2013, particularly now that the country is in the midst of a health crisis.   “You must strictly monitor concerns on the potential transmission of Covid-19 virus to meat products, compliance of meat manufacturers on imposed health safety protocols,” he added.   For his part, NMIS executive director Dr. Reildrin G. Morales reported the accomplishments of the agency, including efficient data collection on inspections, development of the National Accreditation and Registration Information System (NARIS), implementation of the electronic payment systems and Automated In-Plant Line Inspection Reporting System (AIPLIRS) in selected regional offices, extension of meat plants licenses, mandatory application of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) program, and non-stop monitoring and surveillance to ensure that consumers have ready and immediate access to safe and quality meat.   Dr. Morales added that the NMIS plans to intensify staff technical trainings and will soon offer scholarships for graduate studies.   He said a study is also being conducted to review the current state of the country’s meat industry, the total number of processing facilities in the country, and the current gaps the agency is facing, among other major concerns. (KM/ DA-AFID)

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Bong Go expresses support for DHSUD budget; urges housing agencies to finish projects to improve access of poor Filipinos, victims of crises, calamities to affordable quality housing

October 23, 2020

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go expressed his support for the proposed 2021 budget of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development. In his manifestation during a Senate budget hearing on Wednesday, October 21, Go said that the proposed budget for the DHSUD and its attached agencies will be a big help for homeless and less fortunate Filipinos. “Malaki po ang maitutulong nito sa ating mga kababayan. Patuloy po tayo sa pagtatrabaho para sa pangarap natin na maglagay ng bubong sa ibabaw ng ulo ng bawat Pilipino. At sana po, walang squatters sa sariling bayan,” Go said. Go added that the need for proper and adequate housing cannot be overemphasized by the government as he, himself, witnessed the struggle of the poor during his visits to victims of fire and other calamities. Citing the Yolanda housing project which was left unfinished, Go urged the DHSUD and concerned agencies to ensure that the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi City will not suffer the same fate. “We all know what happened in the Yolanda Rehabilitation before and it has never been the style of President Duterte to leave projects undone and without any use for the benefit of the Filipino people. Ayaw po natin mag-iwan ng mga white elephant po. This should not happen again. I am certain Secretary Ed will not allow it,” Go said, referring to DHSUD Secretary Eduardo del Rosario. Go reminded implementing agencies involved in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi City that the Duterte Administration does not want to see unfinished projects in the rehabilitation or see people blaming each other for shortcomings. “Magtulungan po tayo. Bilang isang Mindanaoan, ako mismo ay gagawin ang lahat ng maaari kong maiambag at maitulong. Magtulungan lang po tayo,” he added. According to data from the Philippine Statistical Research and Training Institute, the country’s housing demand is estimated to grow to more than 6.57 million units from 2017 to 2022, and it will further rise to 22.6 million units by the end of 2040. Meanwhile, the population of Informal Settler Families in the country is also continuing to increase. There are nearly two million informal settler families, as of 2019. “Kaya po ginagawa ko po ang lahat para makatulong at makapagbigay ng kahit kaunting pag-asa sa mga kababayan natin,” he said. “Kahit nakakapagbigay po ako ng tulong sa abot ng aking makakaya, iba pa rin po ang magkaroon ng maituturing na talagang tahanan,” he added. Last year, Go filed Senate Bill No. 203, or the National Housing Development, Production and Financing (NHDPF) Bill, which aims to institutionalize a program to address the growing housing needs of Filipinos by generating and mobilizing funds, and encouraging public and private sector participation, among others. The bill seeks continuous funding support for the NHDPF Program even beyond the Duterte Administration. The Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement has had its first hearing on the proposal last year. “Malaki po ang maitutulong nito sa ating mga kababayan. Patuloy po tayo sa pagtatrabaho para sa pangarap natin na maglagay ng bubong sa ibabaw ng ulo ng bawat Pilipino. At sana po, wala nang maging squatter sa sariling bayan,” Go said Go also stressed that many Filipinos have expressed intent to return to their home provinces after the COVID-19 pandemic. As proponent of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program, Go said the NHDPF bill will complement the housing component over the medium to long term as returning residents starting life anew need sufficient housing options. The BP2 program is a long-term plan of the government to decongest Metro Manila and boost countryside development. At the height of more stringent COVID-19 quarantine measures, the BP2 program’s initial rollouts were suspended to give way to President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to prioritize the Hatid Tulong initiative, a transportation assistance program which helps locally stranded individuals (LSIs) return to their provinces. “Despite temporarily suspending the subsequent rollouts, the preparations being conducted by concerned government agencies for the eventual implementation of the BP2 program remains in full swing,” Go previously said. “That is why coordination, cooperation, and collaboration between the national agencies and concerned local government units are crucial to ensure that the respective provinces are ready to accept BP2 beneficiaries, take care of their needs, provide housing options, and ensure their safety and the safety of the rest of the communities in their area,” he added. Under the NHDPF, the NHA will be the lead agency in developing various types of housing programs for the bottom 30 per cent of the population. Some of the programs are resettlement housing programs for low-salaried government employees, settlements upgrading of calamity victims and land banking. (OSBG)

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Yolanda housing in MacArthur, Leyte, 100% complete - Nograles

October 23, 2020

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles led the formal turnover of housing units for Typhoon Yolanda victims in a virtual ceremony on Thursday, October 22, 2020 as part of the government's effort to complete all its housing commitments despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. It was the 10th such virtual turnover of the Yolanda Permanent Housing Project, held at Brgy. San Isidro, MacArthur, Leyte. A total of 122 units were distributed to local beneficiaries. "We're very thankful for the gracious invitation of Mayor Rudin Babante and the other LGU officials who also joined us online. The turnover was also made more meaningful with the active participation of residents who directly expressed their gratitude for the free housing units," the Malacañang official said. Nograles, chair of the IATF Task Force for the Unified Implementation and Monitoring of Rehabilitation and Recovery Projects and Programs in the Yolanda-affected Areas, commended the various national and regional partner agencies for "working double time and extra hard despite the health challenges posed by the Corona virus." "The tireless efforts of the local chief executives, in coordination with National Housing Authority Region 8 Regional Manager Engr. Dodong Antiniero and District Manager Marilyn Lauzon made the succesful turnover possible. Our collective efforts have borne fruit. Everybody needs to be commended for a good job. This is the essence of selfless public service," the former Davao legislator noted. According to the Cab Sec, President Rodrigo Duterte was fully aware of the plight of people in the countryside, particularly those who expect assistance from government like those whose lives and livelihoods were swept away by Typhoon Yolanda. "That's why the President made this housing project in affected provinces a top priority, even during this pandemic." Based on NHA data as of October 12, 2020, out of a planned 53,038 housing units for Region VIII, 37,414 have already been completed, with the remaining 15,624 undergoing construction. "I am proud that we are already 100% complete in our 112 housing commitments here in MacArthur, Leyte. This is the result of everyone's dedication," said the official. For his part, Mayor Babante said that "in behalf of everyone, we thank the President and the various government agencies such as the NHA which helped the people of MacArthur. We will do everything to deserve this generous gift." In response, Nograles expressed that "government is just doing its job. Delivery of basic services is essential to good governance. We hope that the free housing will spur the growth of responsible families and communities and improve their lives. We build, so the people can rebuild." (OCS)

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PPO brings classical music to Filipino audiences amid pandemic with Chamber Concert series

October 22, 2020

In this time when social gatherings are prohibited, the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra finds an alternative way to bring classical music to the Filipino audiences through the PPO Chamber Music Concert, slated on October 30, 2020 (Friday), 8pm, streamed via the CCP and PPO Facebook Pages and CCP YouTube Channel.   Maestro Yoshikazu Fukumura, PPO music director and principal conductor, has carefully programmed a chamber concert series that highlights the different instruments of the orchestra while performing music composed for small ensembles.   For the October concert, the repertoire focuses on string instruments.  For the first part of the program, PPO concertmaster and violinist Dino Akira Decena and cellist Giancarlo Gonzales will perform VIOLIN AND CELLO DUO OP. 6 No. 1by Franz Anton Hoffmeister.   Violinist Jose Carlo Tuazon, violinist Berny Dulce Payte, cellist Giuseppe Diestro, and double bassist Ariston Payte III will play SONATA FOR 2 VIOLINS, CELLO AND DOUBLE BASS NO. 2 IN A MAJORby Gioachino Rossini for the second part of the program.   On November 27, the PPO Chamber Concert puts a spotlight on wind instruments.  Clarinet players Ariel Sta. Ana, Jayson Rivera, and Hernan Manalastas will play SERENADE FOR 3 CLARINETSby Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.   It will be followed by PREGON DE DANZA FOR CLARINET AND CELLO by Georgia Sanchez, to be performed by clarinettist Jayson Rivera, clarinet and cellist Gerry Graham Gonzales.   The program continues with flutist Rosemarie Poblete, clarinettist Ariel Sta. Ana, bassoonist Frenvee Andra, and French horn player Ernani Pascual serenading the audience with WOODWIND QUARTET NO. 4 IN B MAJORby Gioachino Rossini.   The November concert will conclude with flutist Hercules Santiago and marimba player Aimee De la Cruz playing TWO PIECES FOR FLUTE AND MARIMBAby Ney Rosauro.   “In compliance with the protocols imposed by the government, the most logical and safest way to perform classical music is through ensemble playing.  By doing so, it will not only help highlight the artistry of individual players with their respective instruments more but also offer another form of performance for instrumental classical music to audiences aside from the usual full orchestra performances of the PPO before the pandemic,” shared PPO orchestra director Eugene Delos Santos, DMA.   For more information, please visit the CCP website (www.culturalcenter.gov.ph) or follow the official CCP and PPO Facebook pages ( CCP).

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