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Lorenzana contests 2018 IEP peace index report

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Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana assailed an international study that ranked Philippines as the second least peaceful country in the Asia-Pacific Region, describing it “not fair.”

“I don’t think the study is very conclusive. The method is at most faulty,” Lorenzana said, adding the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) used parameters that are not present in the Philippines.

The newly-released Global Peace Index showed that the country ranked 137th out of 163 nations, and was tagged as the second least peaceful country in the Asia-Pacific region, beating only North Korea, which ranked 150th in the global ranking.

“Well, we do not like it. But that is their study…. Next only to North Korea as least peaceful? No. If you ask the North Koreans, they will say that they are also peaceful dahil wala namang patayan dun eh, di ba? (because there are no killings there, right?),” he said.

The think tank attributed the score to the 5-month-long Marawi siege between the government forces and pro-Islamic rebels last year and the government’s war on drugs campaign.

Lorenzana defended the anti-drug campaign of the Duterte Administration that aims for a drug-free Philippines.

“A lot of people can go around very peacefully…Just because there is war on drugs it is the least peaceful? In fact, a lot of people are saying that their lives are more peaceful now because of the war on drugs,” Lorenzana argued.

Data released by the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs (ICAD) showed that a total of 91,704 anti-drug operations were conducted by the law enforcing agencies like the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Philippine National Police from July 1, 2016 to March 20, 2018.

During the same period, a total of 123,648 drug personalities were arrested, and 4, 075 drug personalities died during the conduct of anti-drug operations.

Lorenzana also said the military acknowledged that the threat of ISIS-linked armed groups remained in the country, however, he said there’s no “actual fighting” on the ground.

“The threat and actual fighting are two different things. The threat of ISIS is only there because some remnants of the Maute Group are still there and apparently they are, according to rumors, recruiting. But we cannot confirm that they are recruiting,” Lorenzana said.

The Philippines landed on the 137th spot this year, one notch higher than 138th in 2017.

OWWA, Facebook eye to train 1,500 OFWs

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The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and social media giant Facebook will start giving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) training programs on staying safe online and expanding their businesses next month.

This, after OWWA chief Hans Cacdac and Facebook Asia-Pacific director for community affairs Clair Deevy signed a memorandum of agreement last Thursday during the national celebration of the Migrant Workers Day.

From July until the end of the year, an initial of 1,500 OFs will be trained before their departure.

Under the program, departing OFWs will be provided with a one-hour digital literacy module while informational videos will be played at OWWA offices and posted on their online platforms.

The training will provide information on basic online safety, identifying scams and fake news, and improve their online empathy.

“It’s valuable to us in terms of making our OFWs and families better equipped to combat bullying, to identify fake news, and make their own value judgement or otherwise in terms of empathizing or working on any kind of information they receive through Facebook,” Cacdac said.

OFWs will be oriented on online safety basics, including distinguishing between followers and friends; keeping information such as bank account numbers; setting privacy option on posts to control the audience ho can see them; and distinguishing between scams and regular posts.

Filipino migrant workers will also learn how to spot false news by learning how to identify misleading headlines, fake URLs, and fact check through easy-to-understand infographics and lessons.

Growing business online

Filipinos workers will also be involved in digital marketing workshops to teach them the use of social media in starting or expanding their small businesses.

Trained OWWA personnel will coach participants on how to utilize Facebook, and even Instagram, in promoting their businesses online.

Also, OFWs will also learn how to set up and manage Facebook pages for businesses, the pages’ demographics, and photography.

Cacdac said interested OFWs can sign up for the offline training course before, during, and after their deployment overseas.

“We will open up all these lines for anyone who would be interested and we will try to put the participation listings all together and tap the specific OFW circles as the seminars come out,” he said.

On Filipino Migrants Workers Day, DFA Cites Gains in Protecting Filipinos Overseas

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(photo from Philippine Star)

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano  hailed the more than 10 million overseas Filipinos and assured them that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will continue to be responsive to their needs.

In a statement on the occasion of Filipino Migrant Workers Day yesterday, Secretary Cayetano reaffirmed the DFA’s commitment to continue to strengthen its efforts to protect and promote the rights and welfare of Filipinos abroad.

“We cannot just say we care for our kababayans abroad. We must be able to demonstrate that we care enough for them,” Secretary Cayetano said as he underscored President Duterte’s promise to look after the welfare of Filipinos wherever in the world they may be.

The Secretary expressed his appreciation to the President and Congress for approving the increase in the Assistance to Nationals (ATN) Fund from P400 million last year to P1 billion in 2018.

“This generous gesture of the President and members of Congress has allowed us to help more of our distressed kababayan abroad,” the Secretary said as he cited the more than 9,000 overseas workers the DFA has been able to assist from January to April alone.

The Secretary said the P200 million that was added to the DFA’s Legal Assistance Fund also benefited almost 300 overseas workers during the same period.

“The Department has also opened additional Consular Offices in various regional locations to bring its frontline services closer to our overseas workers,” he added.

“This is all in recognition of the hard work and sacrifice of our modern-day heroes,” the Secretary said.

Secretary Cayetano, at the same time, said that all Philippine embassies and consulates abroad shall be more proactive in promoting the welfare and protecting the rights of overseas workers.

“We will also strive to enhance access of our overseas workers to government services abroad and in the Philippines in cooperation with other relevant agencies of government such as the Department of Labor and Employment,” he said.

In a separate message to overseas Filipinos, Secretary Cayetano recognized the sacrifices of overseas Filipinos, and their invaluable contribution to nation-building.

“Through their indomitable Filipino spirit, they have braved foreign lands and overcome many challenges to gain economic freedom for their families and to give them better opportunities in life.  In doing so, they built communities and lifted up our beloved country, the Philippines,” the Secretary said.

Secretary Cayetano ended his message by reaffirming the DFA’s unwavering commitment to look after the welfare and well-being Filipinos abroad.

“As we hope that one day, going abroad to work becomes an option instead of a necessity, the Department assures our kababayan that as a core national interest of the Philippines, we shall always defend and protect their well-being worldwide,” he said.

As part of its commemoration, Secretary Cayetano said all foreign service posts will be providing care packages to all Filipinos staying in government-run shelters as well as those currently in detention facilities abroad.

Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers Act that was enacted on 7 June 1995 is a landmark law protecting and promoting the welfare of overseas Filipino workers, which is one of the three pillars of Philippine foreign policy.

Duterte’s ConCom to submit federal charter on July 9

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President Rodrigo Duterte with the appointed members of the Consultative Committee tasked to study possible revisions of the 1987 Constitution and draft a new federal charter. (Presidential Photo)

The 22-member Consultative Committee (Concom) will submit the draft of a new federal charter to President Rodrigo Duterte on July 9, two weeks before he delivers his third State of the Nation Address (SONA).

“Con-com is on track to submit the adopted draft on July 9 in time for the Sona,”Concom spokesman Conrado I. Generoso said, adding the consultative body is still finalizing three remaining articles- “Federated Regions,” “Transitory Provisions” and “Amendments.”

Generoso said the articles of the draft federal constitution “were now being refined, edited for style, and proofread for consistency.”

The committee, handpicked by the President, will then vote en banc on the complete draft of the new constitution next week, tentatively on June 14.

With only a month left before its submission, the committee will also conduct two waves of regional presentation and public consultation which will start on June 17 to 19 in Dumaguete City led by Con-com member Arthur N. Aguilar.

Meanwhile, Con-com members Roan Libarios and Susan Ubalde-Ordinario will lead the simultaneous consultation in Butuan City on June 21 to 23 for Caraga Region and Legaspi City for Region 5.

The committee is set to go to Baguio City in Cordillera Administrative Region and in Tacloban City in Region 8 led by Dr. Virgilio Bautista and former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Eduardo Nachura, respectively, on June 25 to 27.

The schedule of the second wave of the consultation is still being finalized, but it is set to happen in July and August.

He said the rounds of public consultation and regional presentations will continue even after the adopted draft charter is submitted to the President.

Generoso said both the public and private stakeholders will be presented with the concrete proposals and designed of the eyed federal system, including the functions and its benefits.

All the feedbacks of the participants from the consultation will be submitted to the President for review.

The consultation will be conducted by the ConCom with Presidential Management Staff Office of the Regional Concerns, representatives from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG,) the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO,) and the Philippine Information Agency.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No.10 last December 7, 2016, which created the committee tasked to deliberate possible revisions to the 1987 Constitution and draft new articles under a federal Charter

The groups started convening mid-February and voted to proposed a presidential-federal form of government under a federalized Philippines.

President Duterte, including his allies in Congress, has been pushing for Charter Change in order to allow for a shift to a federal form of government.

Duterte argued, even during the campaign, that federal form of government would result in better equity in the distribution of wealth and political power. (CRC/with reports from PIA, Rappler, Businessworld, and UNTV)

DFA to launch ePayment Portal

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Passport application and renewal made easy with DFA's ePayment System

In a bid to provide convenience and to lessen no-show appointments, the Department of Foreign Affairs(DFA) will simultaneously launch its ePayment Portal, starting this week in its Aseana Office.

The ePayment portal will be launched next in consular offices in the National Capital Region first week next month, followed by a nationwide launch on or before the first week of August.

As posted in the DFA website, the ePayment Portal is “an upgrade to the Online Appointment System that enables passport applicants to pay their passport processing fees through selected payment centers nationwide and eventually through the use of credit and debit cards, or through over-the-counter cash transactions in selected banks.”

Both new applicants of Philippine ePassports and renewing will be required to prepay the passport processing fees using the portal as part of the Online Appointment System.

Under this system, an applicant will receive thru email a reference number. This reference number will be presented upon payment of the passport processing fee in accredited Payment Centers.

Passport applicants will need to pay Php1,200 for expedited processing and Php950 for regular processing. A Php50 convenience fee will be charged by the authorized Payment Centers on top of the processing fees.

An applicants’ confirmed appointment schedule is non-transferable.

In case the applicant fails to show up during the scheduled appointment, the fees paid will not be refunded.

The DFA said in the statement that the use of ePayment Portal will encourage passport applicants to show up on their scheduled appointments, otherwise the fees they paid will be forfeited.

Applicants will also save time because they can pay their passport processing fees anytime at any authorized payment center and eventually online through their credit or debit cards.

Thru this, the DFA hopes to accommodate more passport applicants and gets rid of fixers. CRC

Duterte’s South Korea visit nets $4.85B investment, 58K jobs for Filipinos

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PH-SOKOR TIES. President Rodrigo R. Duterte and Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in shake hands after they declare their joint press statement following the successful bilateral meeting at the Blue House in Seoul on June 4, 2018. (Toto Lozano/Presidential Photo)

President Rodrigo Duterte’s 3-day trip to South Korea brought home a total of $4.858 billion in investment that could generate 58,000 jobs for Filipinos, an official said.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a recent press conference that this is the result of the total 23 business agreements entered by the Philippines and South Korea during the official visit.

Lopez noted that Korean investors were positive and bullish about the Philippines considering the growing population of the middle class in the country.

“They all know that with an enlarging population and a growing middle class, there’s a lot of opportunity in construction, infrastructure, consumer goods, retailing,” he said.

During a bilateral meeting at the Blue House, the two countries also agreed to strengthen and resuscitate the joint commission on trade and economic cooperation and develop a preferential trading agreement to improve the market access of Philippine’s agriculture products to Korea, Lopez said.

He said the Philippines and Korea are eyeing to strengthen the ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Agreement as well as other areas of cooperation.

“There are still products that we wish to improve market access on, in particular, we are referring to products like banana, pineapple, mangoes, coconut products that we intend to improve market access on,” Lopez added.

A report said that President Duterte and South Korean President Moon Jae-in witnessed the signing of the following agreements:

  • Memorandum of agreement (MOA) – with the deed of donations between the Freeport Area of Bataan and Korean Federation of Fire Association (KFFA).Under the agreement, the KFFA will donate chemical fire truck, a fire pump truck and two car ambulances to the Freeport.
  • Memorandum of understanding (MOU) forged between the ASEAN Business Advisory Council and ASEAN Korean Centre with Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business for the joint development and undertaking of programs related to the ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network.
  • MOA between Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (PCCII) and the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business.
  • MOU between PCCII and the Korea Importers Association (KOIMA)covering technological cooperation and other business relations.
  • MOA between:
  • Philippine Overseas Construction Board and the International Contractors Association of Korea
  • PH Die and Mold Association and Korea Association of Machinery Industry
  • Philippine Utility Vehicle Inc. and Deakyung Engineering Co. Ltd.
  • Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) and the Sea Offshore Services Corporation
  • CEZA and Fairbridge Overseas Development-Philippines Inc.
  • CEZA, IP Vebtures Inc. and the Hanwa Life Insurance Co. Ltd.
  • CEZA and Hanwa Life Insurance Co. Ltd
  • SK E& S and POSCO Engineering and Construction Co. Ltd.
  • MOU between DOST and Korean counterpart on Scientific and Technological Cooperation
  • MOU between DTI Sec. Lopez and South Korean minister of Trade, industry and energy Paik Unyo
  • MOU between Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Paik on cooperation on expansion of renewable energy deployment
  • Loan agreement between Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Export-Import Bank of Korea chairman Eun Sung-soo for the development of the planned Cebu International Container Port.

 Others agreements signed:

  • MOU signed between Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism for the expansion of news cooperation partnership in the field of broadcasting.

“New government-to-government agreements open up areas of wider collaboration in science and technology, infrastructure development, renewable energy deployment, trade and economic relations, transportation, agriculture, forestry, and communications,” Duterte said during his arrival statement from his visit at South Korea at the Terminal 2 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Tuesday evening. CRC

DFA Inks Deal with SM, Gaisano for More Mall-Based Consular Offices

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MOA Signing. Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Frank Cimafranca and Gaisano Group Vice President Kevin Gaisano sign the memorandum of agreement for the rent-free hosting of a consular office at the Gaisano Mall in Tagum, Davao del Norte. (DFA Photo)

The Department of Foreign Affairs today announced it has entered into partnership agreements with SM Prime Holdings and the Gaisano Group for the opening of four more mall-based consular offices that the agency said would allow it to better serve the public.

“We would like to thank SM Prime Holdings and the Gaisano Group for expanding their partnership with us,” Secretary Cayetano said following the recent signing of memoranda of agreement with SM Prime Holdings and Gaisano Malls for the rent-free hosting of the consular offices in their malls.

“We expect to serve the public better and quicker with the opening of these additional consular offices that would be hosted by our private sector partners at no cost to the government,” Secretary Cayetano added.

The Secretary said the new DFA consular offices will be located at the SM City Dasmariñas, Cavite; SM City San Pablo, Laguna: SM Cherry Foodarama Antipolo, Rizal; and the Gaisano Mall in Tagum City.

The signing of the Public-Private Partnership agreements with SM and Gaisano follow the DFA inauguration of new consular offices at the Robinsons Malls in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, Santiago City, Isabela, and Tacloban City in Leyte.

In addition, three other consular offices are being eyed in Malolos City, Bulacan Paniqui, Tarlac and Ozamiz City or Oroquieta City in Mindanao.

“Our new consular offices are bigger than our existing mall-based offices and will have facilities that will promote a more efficient work flow which will contribute towards faster passport application processing,” Secretary Cayetano said.

Secretary Cayetano thanked President Duterte for making it possible for the DFA to improve its capacity to serve the public when he signed in October Executive Order 45 that allows the establishment of additional consular offices.

According to Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Frank Cimafranca, the opening of the new offices will significantly boost the efforts of the DFA to improve its capacity to meet the unprecedented surge in passport demand.

Assistant Secretary Cimafranca said that aside from opening new consular offices, the DFA has also doubled the number of vans for its Passport on Wheels Program and expanded its Mobile Outreach Services to allow it to accommodate more passport applicants not only in Metro Manila but in the provinces as well. Its main passporting office in Aseana, Paranaque has also been doing Saturday work since January.

“We can be expected to continue our efforts to not only increase our passport production capacity but also make our consular services more accessible to the public,” Assistant Secretary Cimafranca said. DFA PR

PH takes appropriate diplomatic action regarding South China Sea dev’t

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Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano [File Photo / PPD]

MANILA, 21 May 2018 — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reiterated the country’s claim to its territories in the West Philippine Sea / South China Sea, assuring the public that the Duterte administration will continue to protect the areas which the Philippines has sovereignty.

“We are taking the appropriate diplomatic action necessary to protect our claims and will continue to do so in the future,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in a statement.

The DFA is in close coordination with other relevant agencies and departments in monitoring developments in the West Philippine Sea and the South China Sea.

Secretary Cayetano disclosed that the government is taking a different approach to avoid any drawbacks and challenges.

He added that upholding the country’s rights under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the government’s present strategy, the Philippines intends to achieve more, which included among others a comprehensive and effective Code of Conduct that will promote peace, cooperation, and stability in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea.

“In professionally and prudently advancing our interests in the West Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, we will always be guided by our patriotic duty to protect the Filipino people and defend our sovereignty,” Cayetano concluded.

Alan Cayetano cites sports as unifying element

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In this file photo, SEA Games Organizing Committee chairman and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano joins hands with Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) chairman Bambol Tolentino (left), POC president Ricky Vargas (right), and Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez (2nd from left).

by Joaquin Henson | The Philippine Star 

MANILA — Foreign Affairs Secretary and Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) executive board presiding chairman Alan Peter Cayetano hosted a welcome dinner for the SEA Games Federation delegates at the Marquis Events Place in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, the other night and delivered a heartfelt talk that spoke volumes of his passion for sports.

Cayetano took the stage for a brief message before dinner and dispensed with a prepared speech to speak from the heart. He cited sports as a unifying element in Southeast Asia and called it a teacher of values such as teamwork and discipline. Cayetano said while POC president and PHISGOC co-vice chair Ricky Vargas spoke on perseverance in a previous speech, he stressed the importance of persistence, even relating a Bible passage to express his point.

Cayetano said the cooperative spirit of the SEA Games family is what makes the biennial conclave an enriching experience. He said when the Philippines hosts the SEA Games next year, it will be difficult to top the delivery of the previous host Malaysia in 2017. “If we are able to match what Malaysia did, it will be a feat,” he said. “If we are able to top what Malaysia did, it will be a standard of excellence. If we are not able to match or surpass what Malaysia did, then it will be a lesson for future host countries to learn from.” He said the Philippines will do its best to stage an unforgettable SEA Games.

Vargas, for his part, said the coming SEA Games will be a fiercely-contested but fun event. “We in Southeast Asia are very competitive in nature so we expect fierce and healthy competition,” he said. Vargas mentioned that Filipino hospitality will be at its warmest in hosting the athletes, coaches, and delegates of the SEA Games family next year. PSC chairman and PHISGOC co-vice chair Butch Ramirez also went on stage to welcome the SEA Games Federation and vowed to do his part in making the next SEA Games a success.

Among those who attended the dinner were Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano, Sen. Miguel Zubiri, former Sen. Manny Villar, Rep. Conrad Estrella, 2019 SEA Games Philippine chef de mission Rep. Monsour del Rosario, Tarlac Gov. Susan Yap, Capas Mayor Rey Catacutan, IOC honorary member Frank Elizalde, SEA Games Federation honorary life president Prince Sufri Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesian head delegate Erick Thohir, former Rep. Monico Puentevella and PBA players J. C. Intal and Jay-R Reyes.

Former POC president and chairman of the SEA Games Federation executive committee Celso Dayrit said deliberations went smoothly in the morning and afternoon sessions. The Medical, Sports and Rules and Women and Sports Committees held simultaneous morning meetings before reporting to the Executive Committee in the afternoon. Dayrit said the first round of discussions zeroed in on 30 sports for the next SEA Games which will be the 30th edition of the event. Badminton made it to the list of 30, displacing ice hockey which will be reviewed in the coming rounds of deliberations with other sports, including squash, figure skating, jiu-jitsu, and E-sports. Arnis, a traditional Filipino sport, was in the list of 30.

In yesterday’s SEA Games Federation council meeting, Dayrit reported on the deliberations of the Medical, Sports and Rules, Women and Sports and Executive Committees. PHISGOC executive director Ramon Suzara made a 20-minute audio-visual presentation of what to expect in the 2019 SEA Games and Malaysia submitted a summary report on the 2017 SEA Games.

Esperon eyes strengthening of PH-Russia security relations

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National Security Adviser Hermogenes C. Esperon Jr. [File Photo/PPD]

MANILA, 17 May 2018 — The strengthening of security cooperation between the Philippines and the Russian Federation will be the main objective when an interagency delegation composed of officials of the national security sector, led by the National Security Adviser and Director General of the National Security Council (NSC) Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr., flies to Moscow to hold bilateral meetings with their Russian counterparts on May 18-19, 2018.

The bilateral discussions build on the successful efforts of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano in solidifying Philippines-Russia diplomatic relations along President Rodrigo Duterte’s independent foreign policy when he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the same city last May 15.

Secretary Esperon will meet with Secretary Nikolay Patruchev of the Security Council of the Russian Federation (SCRF) particularly to follow through on the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding on security cooperation between the NSC and SCRF that was signed in May 2017.

Others in the Philippine delegation who shall also meet with their Russian counterparts are senior officials representing the Department of National Defense (DND), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Justice (DOJ), the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Philippine National Police (PNP). They are expected to explore cooperation mechanisms on information exchange, capacity-building, training, and other matters that are mutually beneficial to both nations. [NSA]

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