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New HIV Prevention Drug Now Available in the Philippines

October 8, 2019

MANDALUYONG CITY – The Philippines has the fastest increasing rate of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections in Asia, having 35 cases a day per latest Department of Health (DOH) data. Augmenting the government’s national HIV program initiatives, LoveYourself, Inc. recently introduced Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) to boost HIV prevention in the country.  PrEP is a Food and Drug Administration-approved pill that lowers the risk of HIV infection by more than 90% when taken daily. “In other countries like Australia, the PrEP program of their government is widespread that the rate of HIV infection in their country has significantly gone down, and we hope to replicate that scenario here in the Philippines. We made this bold step to provide an additional layer of protection against HIV for Filipinos, complementing their use of condoms and lubricants to prevent HIV infection,” said LoveYourself Executive Director Ronivin Pagtakhan. A PrEP demonstration project conducted between 2017 and 2019 by LoveYourself in partnership with the DOH, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, The Global Fund to Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, amfAR, UNAIDS and the World Health Organization showed that this new HIV prevention method is safe and effective.  The research component of the demonstration project showed that participants of the program has experienced: 1.       No PrEP-related side effects 2.       No significant increase in sexually transmitted infections (STI) 3.       No seroconversions or no one from the project participants got HIV during the course of the study. Under its PrEP Pilipinas (PrEPPY) program, LoveYourself currently offers the medicine at its three community centers, namely: LoveYourself Anglo in Mandaluyong, Victoria by LoveYourself in Pasay, and LoveYourself White House in Cebu. In the weeks to come, PrEPPY services will be also available to Lily by LoveYourself in Parañaque and LoveYourself Welcome in Manila.  The PrEPPY program has a nationwide rollout, which is being implemented through a partnership with Hi-Precision Diagnostics. Interested individuals can take the basic PrEPPY services at any Hi-Precision across the country, while results interpretation will be conducted through a telemedicine, and once a client is eligible for PrEP, the medicine will be delivered to the client at their preferred address through a courier. “By offering PrEP, we hope to be able to put an end to HIV. More than that, it is not just a pill: this is another empowerment tool for us to enjoy the life we deserve to live,” Pagtakhan said.  As a frontrunner in providing PrEP services in the country, LoveYourself also leads the KalasagNetwork, which is a group of PrEP providers promoting knowledge sharing for a wider implementation of the new HIV prevention method throughout the nation. For more details on the PrEPPY program, visit go.loveyourself.ph/PrEPPY. LoveYourself is a community-based volunteer-driven non-profit organization that caters to a wide range of STI and HIV-related services, including education and prevention, testing and counseling, and treatment, support and care. The organization also offers transgender health services, and mental wellness initiatives. ###  

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BARMM eyes ASEAN experience, best practices in education

October 3, 2019

BRUNEI DARUSSALAM --- The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is benchmarking the experiences and best practices of ASEAN-member countries in developing its educational system. Speaking before the delegates of the 35th ASEAN Council of Teachers +1 Convention held here on 28 September 2019, BARMM Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal said BARMM looks up to its neighboring countries, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, and Malaysia, for inspiration and expertise in education. It can be recalled that Iqbal sent his team to Indonesia in June 2019 with support from Australia through the Pathways Program. The team looked into Indonesia’s educational system, which provides integrated education services to all of its people regardless of background. “We learned a lot from that learning trip to Indonesia and we hope to gain more insights from our neighboring countries,” he said. Like Indonesia, Iqbal said BARMM will also provide its constituents equal opportunities. “The Bangsamoro Government shall develop an educational framework relevant and responsive to the needs, ideals, and aspirations of the Bangsamoro people,” he said. He added education in the Bangsamoro shall be accessible to all – Moro, Christian, and IP. “We’ve seen this educational system worked in Indonesia,” Iqbal said. Iqbal shared that the Ministry of Basic Higher and Technical Education is tasked to draft and submit the Bangsamoro Education Code to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority. The code shall govern the education system in the Bangsamoro and set the strategic direction for the implementation of a balanced educational structure and standard in the Bangsamoro. He closed his keynote speech by thanking the government and people of Brunei Darussalam for their continued support to the peace process by sending a contingent to the International Monitoring Team. He also appealed for more investments in the BARMM. “This will help your brothers and sisters come to their knees after almost 50 years of struggle for self-determination,” said Iqbal. (Regional Information Office - Ministry of Basic Education, BARMM)

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HERBALIFE NUTRITION LAUNCHES “NUTRITION FOR ZERO HUNGER” INITIATIVE,  PLEDGES $2M TO HELP FIGHT GLOBAL HUNGER

October 2, 2019

Herbalife Nutrition (NYSE: HLF), a premier global nutrition company, recently announced the launch of the Nutrition for Zero Hunger global initiative, pledging $2 million to help end world hunger, ensure people have access to good nutrition and address rising obesity. The initiative, with the assistance of nonprofit partners, will focus on providing access to healthy foods, improving nutrition education, identifying sustainable food resources and raising awareness of the global crisis.  In conjunction with the launch of the initiative, the Company also announced its partnership with Feed the Children, a nonprofit organization committed to defeating childhood hunger worldwide. Feed the Children has designated September as Defeat Hunger Month and as a lead partner of Nutrition for Zero Hunger, Herbalife Nutrition will support their programs to help end hunger around the world. “The Nutrition for Zero Hunger initiative addresses key pandemic problems and through our work with our partners, like Feed the Children, we hope to build a world where everyone has access to quality food and nutrition,” said Alan Hoffman, Executive Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs. As a leader in the global nutrition, Herbalife Nutrition was founded, nearly 40 years ago, on the importance and value of good nutrition, providing a reliable source of nutritious food through a network of independent distributors to customers worldwide.  “Feed the Children is proud to partner with Herbalife Nutrition to address the important issue of childhood hunger,” said Travis Arnold, Feed the Children president and CEO. “The problem cannot be tackled alone. We know that when we combine our efforts, we will have a greater impact on the lives of families who need us most around the world.”  Feed the Children is an organization that is dedicated to supporting families and communities by providing food assistance and resources to help achieve stable lives both in the U.S. and internationally in 10 countries. In 2018, Feed the Children distributed 88.6 million pounds of food and essentials, working with community partners to support 6.5 million people globally. In addition to supporting strategic partnerships, Nutrition for Zero Hunger aligns with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal #2, which calls for bold action to end hunger in all its forms by 2030, as well as solutions to achieve food security and improve nutrition worldwide. Through the $2 million pledge, the Company will: •    Partner with organizations addressing hunger, food security and malnutrition   •    Provide in-kind donations of nutritious food and nutrition products to vulnerable people  •    Deliver resources to support nutrition education •    Engage and educate communities globally through integrated campaigns       Hoffman added, “we have seen how healthy nutrition impacts people’s lives, and we are committed to supporting this critical need to vulnerable populations all around the world.” To learn more about Herbalife Nutrition, visit IamHerbalifeNutrition.com. To receive the latest company updates from Herbalife Nutrition, follow us on Twitter: @HerbalifeNews.   

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PH Indicators Defy Global Wealth Decline – Allianz Report

October 2, 2019

The Philippine economy will remain one of the most dynamic in the region amid a marked decline in household wealth across Asia, according to the recent Allianz Global Wealth Report. Allianz released the Allianz Global Wealth Report, which assessed the global wealth and debt situation. The report showed a simultaneous decline in financial assets held by private households in 2018, the first time since the financial crisis more than a decade ago. Gross financial assets declined by 0.4% in emerging-market economies, but the drop was more pronounced in Asia (excluding Japan) at 0.9%, the report showed. This was triggered by a sharp 14% fall in securities such as equity and investment funds, although bank deposits and insurance and pensions grew healthily by 8.7% and 8.2%, respectively, in Asia. Savers worldwide found themselves in a bind, due to the escalating trade conflict between the United States and China, Brexit and increasing geopolitical tensions, the tightening of monetary conditions and the (announced) normalization of monetary policy, the Allianz Global Wealth Report said. “Despite these external factors, the Philippine economy grew by a healthy 6.2% in 2018.  A slowdown is expected in 2019 but fundamentals remain very strong.  Country’s expected GDP growth will be above that of many developed and developing economies.” said Efren Caringal, Chief Financial Officer of Allianz Philippines. Wealth and debt indicators also remained positive, even with domestic inflation rising markedly to 5.2% in June 2018 from 2.9% in 2017.  Caringal added that headline inflation has since cooled down, falling to a near 3-year low of 1.7% last month. Philippine deposit and loan growth moderated in 2018: Consumer loans increased by 11.5%, against 17.2% in 2017, and deposits advanced by 8.9% (versus 11.6% in 2017). “This resilience is remarkable considering the hostile global economic context, and bodes well for short- to medium-term growth,” Caringal said. The 2018 Allianz Global Wealth Report found that global gross financial assets of private households fell by 0.1% and remained more or less flat at EUR 172.5 trillion. Global equity prices fell by around 12% in 2018, which had a direct impact on asset growth.    “The increasing uncertainty takes its toll,” said Michael Heise, chief economist of Allianz Group. “The dismantling of the rule-based global economic order is poisonous for wealth accumulation. The numbers for asset growth also make it evident: Trade is a no zero-sum game. Either all are on the winning side – as in the past – or all are on the losing side – as happened last year. Aggressive protectionism knows no winners.” Worldwide household liabilities rose by 5.7% in 2018, a tad below the previous year's level of 6.0%, but also well above the long-term average annual growth rate of 3.6%. The global debt ratio (liabilities as a percentage of gross domestic product or GDP), however, re-mained stable at 65.1%, thanks to still robust economic growth. The ranking of the richest countries/regions (financial assets per capita) is again topped by the USA, replacing Switzerland, not least thanks to the strong dollar. Singapore climbed to third place in 2018 capturing, for the first time, the crown as the richest country/region in Asia. Looking at how the list has changed since the turn of the century, the rise of Asia becomes evident: The big winners include Singapore (+13 places) and Taiwan (+10 places) as well as – last year’s setback notwithstanding – China (+6 places) and South Korea (+5 places). For the first time in over a decade, the global wealth middle class did not grow: At the end of 2018, roughly 1,040 million people belonged to the global wealth middle class – which is more or less the same number of people as one year before. Against the backdrop of shrinking assets in China, this does not come as a big surprise. Because up to now the emergence of the new global middle class was mainly a Chinese affair: Almost half of their members speak Chinese as well as 25% of the wealth upper class.   “There are still plenty of opportunities for global prosperity,” said Arne Holzhausen, Allianz Group Head of Insurance & Wealth Markets and co-author of the report. “If other heavily populated countries such as Brazil, Russia, Indonesia and in particular India would have a level distribution of wealth comparable to China, the global wealth middle class would be boosted by around 350 million people and the global wealth upper class by around 200 million people. And the global distribution of wealth would be a little more equal: at the end of 2018, the richest 10% of the population worldwide owned roughly 82% of total net financial assets. Questioning globalization and free trade now deprives millions of people around the world of their opportunities for advancement.” About Allianz in Asia Asia is one of the core growth regions for Allianz, characterized by a rich diversity of cul-tures, languages and customs. Allianz has been present in the region since 1910, when it first provided fire and marine insurance in the coastal cities of China. Today, Allianz is ac-tive in 14 markets in the region, offering its core businesses of property and casualty insurance, life, protection and health solutions, as well as asset management. With its more than 32,000 staff, Allianz serves the needs of over 18 million customers in the region across multiple distribution channels and digital platforms.   About Allianz The Allianz Group is one of the world's leading insurers and asset managers with more than 92 million retail and corporate customers. Allianz customers benefit from a broad range of personal and corporate insurance services, ranging from property, life and health insurance to assistance services to credit insurance and global business insur-ance. Allianz is one of the world’s largest investors, managing around 673 billion euros on behalf of its insurance customers. Furthermore, our asset managers PIMCO and Allianz Global Investors manage more than 1.4 trillion euros of third-party assets.  Thanks to our systematic integration of ecological and social criteria in our business pro-cesses and investment decisions, we hold the leading position for insurers in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In 2018, over 142,000 employees in more than 80 countries achieved total revenues of 131 billion euros and an operating profit of 11.5 billion euros for the group. These assessments are, as always, subject to the disclaimer provided below. Cautionary note regarding forward-looking statements The statements contained herein may include prospects, statements of future expectations and other forward-looking statements that are based on management's current views and assumptions and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties. Actual results, performance or events may differ materially from those expressed or implied in such forward-looking statements. Such deviations may arise due to, without limitation, (i) changes of the general economic conditions and competitive situation, particularly in the Allianz Group's core business and core markets, (ii) performance of financial markets (particularly market volatility, liquidity and credit events), (iii) frequency and severity of insured loss events, including from natural catastrophes, and the development of loss expenses, (iv) mortality and morbidity levels and trends, (v) persistency levels, (vi) particularly in the banking business, the extent of credit defaults, (vii) interest rate levels, (viii) currency exchange rates including the EUR/USD  exchange rate, (ix) changes in laws and regulations, including tax regulations, (x) the impact of acquisitions, including related integration issues, and reorganization measures, and (xi) general competitive factors, in each case on a local, regional, national and/or global basis. Many of these factors may be more likely to occur, or more pronounced, as a result of terrorist activities and their consequences. No duty to update The company assumes no obligation to update any information or forward-looking state-ment contained herein, save for any information required to be disclosed by law.  

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PUV modernization still a pressing concern

October 2, 2019

MANILA (National News digital, October 2) - The planned phase out of traditional jeepneys from the roads in Metro Manila and elsewhere in the country continued to become a pressing concern as jeepney drivers seem not ready yet to face modernization. But the country is set to welcome the modern public itility vehicles come June 2020. A Philippine News Agency interview in Metro Manila, commuters welcome this modernization of PUVs and expressed positive responses to the set up proposed by the transportation department. A 25-year-old freelance artist Anju de Vera who resides in Mandaluyong and takes public transport when meeting with prospects and clients said he is hoping and looking forward for this new development like phasing out the old jeepneys and changing them to new ones. “Yes, I’m in favor, as long as di pahirap sa mga jeepney drivers especially sa cost of the upgrade,” he said. The office of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) had earlier announced it is supporting the move by helping and providing five percent equity, an interest of six percent plus a paying period of seven years for the modern PUVs which cost around P1.2 million to as high as P1.8 million. The Philippine Congress has also earlier agreed to provide an additional P80,000 subsidy per unit. Harald Tomintz, a businessman from Australia said “the [traditional] jeepney will still stay with us for some time but eventually be gone in years to come by slowly getting phased out." "Perhaps a few of the Jeepneys remain but with the technical upgrade to make them compliant with the times,” he said. “It’s a good move of the (Department of Transportation) DOTr to modernize the PUV transport system. This is done with foresight and considered future-oriented. Of course, a proper phase in (short- medium - long term) plan be necessary since change can’t be done in a rush. And by doing so the riding public is getting used to and become aware of a more comfortable and environmentally friendly ride,” the Aussie businessman said.

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Whatever happened to PUV modernization pilot areas?

October 1, 2019

A MAJOR factor in the continued opposition of jeepney drivers and operators to the PUV modernization program is the absence of palpable and positive results in pilot areas identified by transport agencies, such as Taguig, Pateros and Pasay.   “Since the announcement of pilot areas in 2017, we have not monitored a single official report or briefing by the country’s transport agencies on whether the pilot areas were viable, profitable routes for jeepney operators and drivers that would enable them to  regularly pay the high financial costs of implementing the modernization program,” said Terry Ridon, Infrawatch PH convenor and former House transport committee member.   Ridon, who raised concerns on the PUV modernization program as the Duterte government’s urban poor chief, said a positive result of the modernization program in pilot areas is critical to convince operators-drivers that acquiring modern jeepneys will not drive them to bankruptcy.   Mutually acceptable financial proposal   “Ultimately, government will have to provide a mutually acceptable financial proposal to operators-drivers if it really wants the modernization program to succeed.”    Ridon said a major component in an acceptable financial proposal is a larger government stake in acquiring new vehicles.   “Government’s five-percent equity commitment or subsidy to acquire new vehicles is clearly insufficient, particularly because this is an involuntary loan, which no one except government wanted. Worse, the subsidy is still capped at eighty-thousand pesos, while the prices of the modern jeepneys wildly vary to more than P2-Million.”   Raise government subsidy   Ridon said government should consider raising its equity commitment  from ten to twenty percent.   “With next year's P 4-Trillion government budget, a larger equity commitment to ensure the nationwide success of the modernization program is just a drop in the bucket.”   Cut loan interest rates   Ridon also said that the interest rates for the loans should now be adjusted, given that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas had undertaken several interest rate cuts in as recent as last week.   “Clearly, government’s financial proposal fro 2017 should now be updated to reflect current market conditions.” 

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