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SSS conducts second wave of simultaneous RACE Ops

July 2, 2019

The state-run Social Security System (SSS) continued its nationwide campaign against non-compliant employers with its second simultaneous Run After Contribution Evaders (RACE) Campaign in Binondo, Cabanatuan, Dumaguete, and Iligan on Thursday.   SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Aurora C. Ignacio said 53 establishments were visited by the RACE team and posted Show Cause Orders to remind them of their obligations under Republic Act 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018.   “The non-compliance of these establishments to the Social Security Law jeopardizes the social security protection of more than 125 employees as their employers failed to pay their contributions. Social security coverage is one of the basic rights of every employee," Ignacio said.   Of the 53 non-compliant business establishments, 14 were from Binondo in Manila, 13 from Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija, 11 from Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental, and 15 from Iligan City. The participating SSS branches are expected to collect ‪P4.12 million worth of contribution delinquencies from these employers.   The RACE Team in Binondo visited 14 establishments for not registering their business to SSS while 13 establishments were also visited in Cabanatuan due to non-registration of business, non-production of records, and non-remittance of SSS contributions.   In Dumaguete, 11 establishments received Show Cause Orders from the RACE Team due to non-remittance of SSS contributions and under-reporting of employees. SSS Dumaguete is expected to collect contribution delinquencies amounting to P1.70 million.   In Iligan, similar notices were also issued to six establishments due to non-reporting of employees, one for non-registration of business to SSS, and eight for non-remittance of SSS contributions with total delinquency worth of P2.42 million.   “With the simultaneous nationwide conduct of the RACE Campaign, we hope to further raise employers’ compliance with the Social Security Law,” Ignacio said.   All employers subject to the RACE operations should show cause within a non-extendable period of fifteen days from notice or posting of the order why no legal action shall be taken against them.   “Our employers can avoid being subjected to RACE campaign by coordinating with the nearest SSS branch to comply with the law. Currently, we have a Contribution Penalty Condonation Program wherein employers can settle their unpaid premiums without paying any penalty," Ignacio said.   “We encourage delinquent employers to avail themselves of this program and settle their obligations to SSS. The program will only run ‪until September 1 this year. This is their opportunity to clean up their records to have a good standing with SSS and pay their obligations without paying penalties,” she added.   This is the second time the pension fund conducted a nationwide simultaneous RACE campaign. The first leg of the simultaneous RACE campaign was also held in Mandaluyong City, San Fernando City in Pampanga, Mandaue City in Cebu and Dipolog City in Zamboanga del Norte last June 14. 

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PH bolsters fight against child labor

June 28, 2019

The labor department has strengthened its commitment of achieving a child-labor free Philippines as it pushes for more inclusive and preventive interventions in combatting child labor and its worst forms.   Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said DOLE has so far profiled 85,582 child laborers in 16 regions of which 18,651 were referred to appropriate agencies for the provision of services and assistance needed by the children and their families.   “Profiling of the child laborers is our strategic way of withdrawing children from child labor. We must first assess their needs and refer these children and their families to appropriate agencies and organizations for the provision of necessary assistance to remove them from child labor,” Bello said.   Apart from the nationwide profiling, DOLE has also provided livelihood assistance in form of Negokart and starter kits to parents of child laborers to enable their families to start their livelihood as a preventive measure against child labor.     Also, DOLE has partnered with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and Industrial Tripartite Councils for the provision of skills training to former child laborers to help them land decent employment.   “Eliminating child labor calls for intensified convergence efforts from various government agencies, non-government organizations, local government units, and the communities. We must work together in advocating for a child-labor free Philippines by understanding the problem that puts our children at harm,” Bello said.   DOLE, along with its social partners is all set to observe the World Day against Child Labor on June 29, 2019 at the GSIS Theater, Pasay City to draw public attention to the issue of child labor and encourage communities to be active partners of the government in ending child labor.   These initiatives of the labor department are aligned with the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, which targets to reduce the cases of child labor by 30 percent or 630,000 from the estimated 2.1 million child laborers nationwide

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President Duterte Attends PSG’S 122ND ANNIVERSARY, Commends Elite Group For Service To Nation

June 27, 2019

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Wednesday joined the Presidential Security Group (PSG) in its 122nd anniversary celebration expressing his gratitude to the elite unit for securing him and his family as well as for serving the nation.   “I extend my sincere appreciation and gratitude to the Presidential Security Group. Rest assured that this administration will remain committed to the continuing improvement and modernization of the PSG so you may perform your mandate more effectively and efficiently,” President Duterte said in his speech during the celebration held at the PSG Grandstand in Malacañang Park.   "Together, let us safeguard our nation, defend our people and march towards a brighter future for all,” he added.   President Duterte also recognized PSG’s unwavering commitment to defend the presidency and the country’s democratic institutions by going beyond its mandate of providing protection to the President and the First Family.   "The organization’s notable contributions, not only to the Office of the President, but also to the communities around Malacañang Complex, will be written in the annals of this institution’s long history," he said.   PSG troopers, who have demonstrated excellence in the fulfillment of their respective duties within the organization, was honored by the President.   He also acknowledged agencies, corporations, and individuals who have served as the PSG's reliable partners in its various undertakings.    President Duterte said he believes in PSG’s steadfast commitment to protect the presidency to the best of its abilities. "I am confident that through your professionalism, integrity, and courage, we can further serve our people during the remaining half of my Presidency."    The PSG is a combined elite unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) complemented by the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and civilian workforce.    Meeting with Misuari   President Duterte also discussed several domestic issues Wednesday, particularly the Mindanao peace process, the country’s financial standing, and the administration’s crackdown on graft and corruption.   With regards to Mindanao peace initiatives, he said he would organize a meeting with Moro National Liberation Front founder and leader Nur Misuari to put an end to MNLF rebellion, expressing his willingness to present Misuari’s group similar concessions offered by the government to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).   "Central Mindanao medyo nagkalma na. We were able to really convince those guys. Sila Murad. And I'm trying to set up a meeting with Nur Misuari. I would conceive the same arrangement,” President Duterte said.   The President also reiterated his plan to open up barter trade in the Sulu archipelago to prop up economic activity and uplift the living conditions of the Moros there.   He said, however, that he would exclude Zamboanga since unscrupulous individuals and groups might use the system for smuggling. The navy has to intervene to fend off such activity.   During the 13th Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines - East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit in Thailand last weekend, President Duterte asked his Malaysian counterpart to speed up the negotiations on the barter trade system between the Philippines and Malaysia in time for the Philippine government’s implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) aimed at ending decades-long conflict in Mindanao.   The President believes that the institutionalization of the barter trade system in the area will help address poverty, conflict, and instability.  

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EcoWaste Coalition Raises the Alarm over Dangerous Weapon Toys

June 24, 2019

The EcoWaste Coalition sounded the alarm bell after buying toy weapons with sharp points and edges, including imitation “balisong” (fan knife), hunting knife and Naruto weapons such as “kunai” (dagger), “shuriken” (hand blade ) and “tanto” (sword).   The group bought the weapon toys yesterday, June 23, from toy retailers and wholesalers at M. de Santos and Tabora Sts., Binondo, Manila outside the Divisoria Mall.  These are sold for P55 to P120 per pack of 20 or 30 pieces. These weapon toys are often sold to children for P5 to P10 each by ambulant vendors or toy shops near public elementary schools and in some neighborhood sari-sari stores, the group said While very affordable, the use of such toys could result to injuries requiring first aid treatment or medical attention and should therefore be kept out of children’s reach, the group pointed out.   “Toys with sharp points and edges are potentially dangerous as these could tear a child’s sensitive skin or cause injury to a child eyes,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. “Ninja weapon toys inspired by Naruto, a Japanese manga series, are attractive to young children who are fascinated by action heroes.  However, some of these toys have pointed parts and sharp edges that can harm an unsuspecting child or his playmates,” he added. Aside from the accidental cuts, stabbing, and eye injuries, the EcoWaste Coalition is also concerned with the impact of such toys on the development of aggressive and violent behavior among children. “For example, we find it totally inappropriate for young children to play with ‘balisong,' which is often used in street altercations and crimes,” Dizon said. “We strongly suggest to both parents and kids to pick safe toys that do not invite aggression or violence such as toy weapons,” he emphasized.   To keep children safe and to discourage aggressive and violent behaviors, the EcoWaste Coalition advises parents to consider these tips: 1. Carefully read product labels and shun toys lacking the required labeling requirements such as age grading, cautionary warnings and usage instructions.  2. Select age and developmentally-appropriate toys. 3. Shun toys with sharp edges or points, small parts, long strings, small and loosely attached batteries, and toxic components such as lead-containing paint. 4.  Read the instructional literature and teach your child how to safely play with purchased toys. 5.  Supervise children under your care when they engage in indoor or outdoor play. The group also drew attention to the importance of choosing toys and childcare articles that are notified or registered with the Food and Drug Administration, which have undergone quality and safety verification procedures. Next month, the EcoWaste Coalition will conduct test buys of toys being sold outside public elementary schools to check on toy industry compliance to the newly-promulgated Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 10620, or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act.

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EMC simulates SRR role in Eastern Mindanao during NSED

June 24, 2019

The readiness of Eastern Mindanao Command's (EMC) fortified its disaster preparedness after simulating its role as lead agency in Search, Rescue, and Retrieval (SRR) cluster in the whole Eastern Mindanao during disasters of great magnitude, during the National Simultaneous Earthquake Drill (NSED), held nationwide on June 20, 2019.   The Command executed the drill in two phases: the first phase was focused on Duck, Cover and Hold evacuation procedure while the second phase was the simulation of the Command's role of overseeing the SRR operations in Eastern Mindanao.    It also covered communication exercises among its subordinate units, battle staff action, and Rapid Damage Assessment Survey.     During the drill, the Command likewise simulated a crisis management action via video teleconference with the National Command Post at Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur.   Lt. Gen. Felimon T. Santos Jr., Commander of Eastmincom reiterated the importance of the drill to the Command, being the lead agency in SRR Operations.   "Being the lead agency in SRR cluster, our exercise must go beyond duck, cover and hold to ensure our readiness and preparedness in carrying out our role in the wide range of disaster risk reduction management," Lt. Gen. Santos Jr. said.   The event here was evaluated by an Inter-Agency Team from the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (DRRMC) XI while the video teleconference in the National Command Post in Bayugan City was supervised and evaluated by the members of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council. 

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LGU tapping divers to maintain Camiguin’s marine life

June 24, 2019

To preserve its flourishing marine flora and fauna, the provincial government of this island has urged divers and tourists to help them in preventing the destruction of its coral reefs.   Outgoing Gov. Maria Luisa Romualdo said visitorsto the province, especially sea divers, also play a role in the protection and preservation of Camiguin’s marine life.   “We hope we can get more divers, responsible tourists, like you who would help us in the maintenance, in the preservation of our dive spots,” Romualdo told the crowd of divers, tourists and locals during the opening ceremony of the 1st Camiguin Dive Festival held at the Lagundi Beach in this town on Sunday, June 23.   The two-month festival runs from June 23 to August 31 and will showcase various activities such as Scubasurero, fun dive, dive classes, underwater photography contest, among others.   She said they are taking care of their marine-protected areas, even organizing the residents and fisherfolk to safeguard the dive sites and fish sanctuaries around the island.   “So anything you see in the marine-protected areas, in the dive spots, which you think can destroy our coral reefs, our fish, please feel free to remove it. I will give you that authority,” the governor added, referring to fish traps that are placed on corals and have proven to be destructive.   Camigun has around 30 dive sites scattered throughout the island’s provincial waters.   According to Department of Tourism-10 (DOT-10) regional director Marie Elaine Unchuan, the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving has already accredited six dive shops in Camiguin, owing to the increasing number of divers who visit the province.   Unchuan noted that operators are investing in dive shops, which would mean more local and international divers are coming over to Camiguin.   “We’ve talked to the stakeholders to really up their game to develop dive facilities and dive shops that are DOT-accredited and worthy of international visitors,” she said, adding that more foreigners are visiting the island’s dive spots.   “You can see we have a good percentage of foreigners. We’re tapping the European market,” the regional director added, referring to the influx of divers.   Veteran diver and underwater photographer and videographer Bo Mancao, who documented the festival, said Camiguin has always been unique because it’s one of the volcanic reef islands in the country.   “I keep coming back here and I keep finding new stuff, be it coral, be it fish, be it invertebrate. There’s always something new in Camiguin,” Mancao said.   He said he was impressed by how clean the coral reefs are. “I think this goes to show how the leadership in Camiguin works. They are very good in organizing their trash management. Even if there are wastes that float from the mainland to Camiguin, they have a way of collecting and disposing it.”   Diver and blogger Gian Carlo Jubela said he was surprised that Black Forest, a part of the coral reef near the White Island is free of garbage considering that the sand bar is one of most visited tourist destinations in Camiguin.   “We do hope that it can be maintained; the ocean is life, and if the oceans die, the planet dies, we all perish,” Jubela said.   Mambajao mayor and governor-elect Jurdin Jesus Romualdo said he cannot understand why people still throw their trash in the sea despite the existence of laws and ordinances prohibiting it.   Romualdo said they want to preserve the reputation of Camiguin’s coral reefs as pristine and dive-worthy, with the help of divers.   “I’m really banking on the dive resorts and all the divers that come here. Help me preserve this beautiful island. I cannot do this alone,” he said.   What makes Camiguin’s corals and other underwater life still intact after the occurrence of volcanic eruptions in the past is in itself a cause for wonder and amazement, he said.   “Divers have been telling that it’s more beautiful under the water than on top,” Romualdo said. Camiguin provincial tourism officer Candice Naome Dael said they expect the volume of tourists to further increase because of the Dive Festival and other regular annual activities in the island, which include the Lanzones Festival and the Panaad, a yearly activity involving Roman Catholic devotees who walk around the island as form of penance during the Holy Week.   The Manila-Camiguin flights recently offered by an airline company would also help boost the number of foreign and local visitors to visit the province, she said.   “We are projecting a million or more tourists for this year,” Dael said, adding that the establishment of new multi-room hotels and resorts will help address the growing number of vacationers to the island.

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