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DARAB to resolve protests, disputes, or claims to speed up distribution of government-owned lands under EO 75

December 26, 2020

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has authorized the DAR Adjudication Board (DARAB) to resolve protests, disputes, or claims that will arise from the distribution of government-owned lands (GOLs) under Executive Order No. 75, Series of 2019. DAR Secretary Brother John R. Castriciones signed Memorandum Circular No. 28, Series of 2020 to ensure that due process will be observed in the resolution of protests, disputes, or claims arising from the distribution of government-owned land. Executive Order No. 75, series of 2019, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte, February 2019, directs all government instrumentalities to accelerate and ensure the immediate identification and segregation of all unclassified lands of public domain and all government-owned lands (GOLs), devoted to or suitable for agriculture and which are no longer actually, directly and exclusively used or necessary for the purpose for which they have been reserved or acquired, shall be used for agrarian reform for eventual distribution to qualified beneficiaries “The Memorandum Circular shall apply only to all protests, disputes, claims, or controversies arising from the coverage and distribution of GOLs in favor of qualified beneficiaries,” Brother John said. In case there is a petition or protest involving the implementation of EO 75, the Office of the Secretary or any other DAR office shall refer the case to the Executive Director of the DARAB Secretariat, who in turn shall issue an order directing the Field Operations Office to submit a comment within a specified period and raffle the case to the Board Members for review. The Board Member assigned to the case shall issue an Order directing all parties to submit their respective position papers for resolution or may schedule a hearing for investigation. The assigned Board Member shall submit its recommendation for the Secretary’s consideration, on whether to grant or deny the petition or protest. The Secretary’s decision shall immediately be forwarded to the DARAB Secretariat Executive Director for releasing to all concerned parties. A party involved may file a motion for reconsideration (MR) or an appeal, within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the decision. Castriciones reiterated in the Circular that: “Notwithstanding the filing of the appeal, the identification, validation, segregation, transfer, and distribution of coverable GOLs shall proceed up to the issuance of a title in the name of the Republic of the Philippines, if the coverable GOL is a titled property. ”However, if the GOL is not titled or is covered by a proclamation, the process will proceed up to the generation of the Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) unless the Office of the President enjoins DAR from continuing with the process of distribution. The decision of the Secretary shall become final and executory 15 days after all parties have received an official copy and that no MR nor appeal was filed against the said decision. Only then can the DARAB Executive Director will issue a Certificate of Finality to the case. Qualified beneficiaries under EO 75 are farmers, tillers or farmworkers who are landless or who own less than three (3) hectares of agricultural lands; Filipino citizens; residents of the barangay (or the municipality if there are not enough qualified beneficiaries in the barangay) where the landholding is located; at least fifteen (15) years of age at the time of identification, screening, and selection of the farmer beneficiaries; and with willingness, aptitude, and ability to cultivate and make the land as productive as possible as provided under Section 22 of RA No. 6657, as amended. DARAB reresolbahin ang mga protesta, pagtatalo o pag-aangkin upang mapabilis ang pagpapatupad ng EO 75 Pinahintulutan ng Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) ang DAR Adjudication Board (DARAB) upang resolbahin ang mga protesta, alitan o pag-aangkin na magmumula sa pamamahagi ng mga lupang pagmamay-ari ng pamahalaan o government-owned lands (GOL) sa ilalim ng Executive Order No. 75, Serye ng 2019. Nilagdaan ni DAR Secretary Brother John R. Castriciones ang Memorandum Circular No. 28, Serye ng 2020 upang matiyak na angkop ang proseso sa pag resolba ng mga protesta, alitan o pag-aangkin na magmumula sa pamamahagi ng lupa napag-aari ng pamahalaan. Ang Executive Order No. 75, Serye 2019, na nilagdaan ni Presidente Rodrigo Duterte nuong Pebrero 2019 ay nag-aatas sa lahat ng ahensya ng pamahalaan upang pabilisin at siguraduhin ang agarang pagtukoy, paghiwa-hiwalay ng lahat ng hindi pa nauuring pampublikong lupain at mga lupain na pag-aari ng pamahalaan na nakatuon o angkop sa agrilultura at hindi na ginagamit sa pangunahin nitong layunin, ay ilalaan sa repormang agraryo upang maipamahagi sa mga kwalipikadong benepisyaryo.  "Ang Memorandum Circular ay para lamang sa lahat ng mga protesta, pagtatalo, pag-aangkin, o kontrobersya na nagmumula sa pagsaklaw at pamamahagi ng mga GOL pabor para sa mga kwalipikadong benepisyaryo," ani Brother John. Kung sakaling magkaroon ng mga petisyon o protesta kaugnay sa implementasyon ng EO 75, and Opisina ng Kalihim o kahit anong opisina sa DAR ay isasangguni ang kaso sa Executive Director ng DARAB Secretariat, na siya namang mag-iisyu ng kautusan para sa Field Operations Office upang magsumite ng komento sa loob ng itinakdang panahon at ira-raffle ang kaso sa mga miyembro ng DARAB para sa pagsusuri ng kaso.   Ang Board Member na naitalaga sa kaso ay mag-iisyu ng kautusan para sa mga sangkot na partido upang sila ay magsumite ng position papers para sa resolusyon o maaaring mag-iskedyul ng pagdinig para sa imbestigasyon ng kaso. Ang naitalagang Board Member ay magsusumite ng rekomendasyon para sa pagsasaalang-alam ng Kalihim, kung ipagkakaloob o hindi ang petisyon o protesta. Ang desisyon ng Kalihim ay agad na ipapasa sa DARAB Secretariat Executive Director upang maipalabas sa lahat ng sangkot na partido. Ang partido ay maaaring magsampa ng motion for reconsideration (MR) o apila sa loob lamang ng 15 araw mula ng natanggap ang desisyon. Sinabi ni Castriciones na: “Sa kabila ng pagkakaroon ng apila, magpapatuloy ang pagtutukoy, pagpapatunay, paghiwa-hiwalay, paglilipat at pamamahagi ng mga nasakop na GOL hanggang sa pagpapalabas ng titulo sa pangalan ng Republika ng Pilipinas, kung ang GOL ay isang pag-aari na may titulo.” Subali’t kung ang GOL ay walang titulo o sakop ng isang proklamasyon, ang proseso ay magpapatuloy hanggang sa pagsasagawa ng Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs), maliban lamang kung ang Opisina ng Presidente ay nag-utos sa DAR na ipagpatuloy ang proseso hanggang sa pamamahagi. Ang desisyon ng Kalihim ay pinal at ipapatupad 15 araw pagkatapos matanggap ng bawat partido ang opisyal na kopya ng desisyon at kung saan walang naisampang MR o apila laban sa nasabing desisyon. Duon lamang maaaring magsasagawa ang DARAB Executive Director ng Certificate of Finality sa kaso.   Ang mga kwalipikadong benepisyaryo ay magsasaka o manggagawa sa bukid na mga walang lupa o nagmamay-ari ng mas mababa sa tatlong ektarya ng mga lupang agrikultura; mga mamamayang Pilipino; mga residente ng barangay (o ang munisipalidad kung walang sapat na kwalipikadong mga benepisyaryo sa barangay) kung saan matatagpuan ang pag-aari ng lupa; hindi bababa sa 15 taong gulang sa panahon  ng pagkakakilanlan at pagpili ng mga magsasakang benepisyaryo; at may kakayahan linangin at gawing mas produktibo ang lupa na nakasaad sa ilalim ng Seksyon 22 ng RA 6657, na sinusugan.  

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Legarda urges Filipino youth to be leaders in climate action

December 23, 2020

MANILA, — Deputy Speaker and Antique Representative Loren Legarda today called on the youth to use their power to spark movement and raise awareness on environmental justice, sustainability, and climate action.Legarda made the call during her virtual speech titled "On Climate Action and Accountability: The Journey Towards Environmental Justice" at the EcoSummit 2020: The First National Youth Environmental Forum organized by the official student government of Ateneo de Davao University. “Our country is no stranger to the impacts of climate change. But averting loss and damage and coping in the aftermath of these extreme weather events, which have become more intense and damaging in the last decade, are an additional burden against limited resources of a developing, fast growing nation. Climate-related disasters are undoing years of development gains,” Legarda stressed. The Philippines was recently hit by typhoons Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses in the past months, which massively destroyed infrastructure and agricultural lands and submerged the communities in floodwater. It ranked fourth among countries most affected by climate change from 1999 to 2018 in the 2020 Global Climate Risk Index by the Germanwatch. An annual average of 0.5% of GDP has been lost due to climate change impacts.Coupled with the challenges of COVID-19, Legarda said that the country needed to push for a pandemic recovery that also strives for climate resilience in order to protect vulnerable communities. “As we have declared in the Global Commission on Adaptation, the matter of accelerating adaptation measures has also never been more important. Climate shocks are happening now, intersecting with and exacerbating impacts of COVID-19. Building resilience to climate impacts will be critical to response and recovery efforts. We have been on the receiving end of extreme weather events at the expense of our fellow Filipinos’ lives, livelihoods, and resources,” added Legarda. Legarda also co-authored House Resolution No. 1377 declaring a climate and environmental emergency to ensure “enhanced and coherent climate actions in the executive and legislative agenda of the government,” which was sponsored by the House Committee on Climate Change and unanimously approved by the House of Representatives on November 25, 2020. “In the name of climate justice, we will continue calling for greater leadership and action from the developed countries that have caused this climate crisis. Climate justice is to demand for what is right and just for the Filipinos. It is to improve our capacity to adapt and mitigate. It is to commit to upholding the right of every Filipino to a better life,” Legarda said. “But within our country, we also need to exhibit leadership and action. We need to build on our progress so far and identify gaps within our systems in order to spur and normalize climate action on the ground and down to the last mile,” Legarda added. Citing the 2017 Philippine Climate Change Assessment Report of the Climate Change Commission and PAGASA projections, Legarda said that regions in the Philippines, including Mindanao, are experiencing seasonal aridity and recurrent droughts and manifest conditions and effects of desertification processes, and will continue to experience large decreases in rainfall and longer drier periods which will affect the amount of water in watersheds and dams, thereby limiting agricultural and energy production. The observed temperature in the country is projected to increase by as much as 0.9°C to 2.3°C by 2050, entailing drastic changes in weather patterns, increase in frequency, intensity and duration of floods, and increase in frequency and intensity of droughts, according to PAGASA,Sea level rise in the country is projected to be at 60 centimeters or three times the global average of 19 centimeters, with 60 percent of local government units at risk to storm surges, flashfloods, and saltwater intrusion. “These and many more are a stark reminder that climate change is a clear and present threat to the lives of all Filipinos, particularly our most  vulnerable sectors of our society. I am talking about our local communities, the lumad, farmers, fisherfolks, persons with disabilities, women, children, and the elderly,” Legarda emphasized.Legarda underscored the need for participation of all sectors, especially the youth, in addressing the climate emergency. Legarda then challenged the youth to raise awareness, inspire people, and find solutions to the emerging challenges of the world today.“Our youth will not just simply inherit this world. You are part of this process of building our nation and our planet. You have the passion, skills, creativity, and energy to effect positive change. You are not just the leaders of tomorrow. You are already the leaders of today,”

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Hontiveros questions capacity of NTF,  DOH to deliver vaccine to marginalized communities 

December 23, 2020

Senator Risa Hontiveros questioned the capacity of the National Taskforce on COVID-19 (NTF) and the Department of Health (DOH) to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine to geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA) given the unsolved difficulties in existing immunization programs.  “A documented difficulty by the DOH in the Sabayang Patak Laban sa Polio is the low immunization coverage in some areas, owing to the difficulties in terrain. Magkakalayo ang mga bahay at mahirap ang mga dadaanan. Hindi pa ito matugunan ng DOH ngayon, so paano natin masisiguro na itong COVID-19 vaccine ay makakarating sa mga nangangailangan given na napaka-sensitibo ng bakuna sa temperature changes?” she asked.  “I support Senator Pangilinan’s call for a hearing by a Senate Committee of the Whole to iron out all the details from preparations, to roll-out, to finish. As I said before, public trust is crucial in a public health crisis. This is a massive project that should be made clear to the whole of government, whole of society. Everyone has to be confident in the game plan.”  Hontiveros also called for government to begin creating a post-vaccination COVID-19 response plan after an editorial published in November in the Nature Journal showed that vaccinated individuals can still spread the coronavirus to others. “To my layperson’s ears, it means you can be protected from COVID-19 but you can pass it on to others. I imagine that there are specific populations that cannot be vaccinated, like the very young. They will continue to be vulnerable to COVID. We cannot let our guard down and the protocols should be maintained,” she said.  “Vaccination is not the magic bullet to putting an end to the pandemic. We must create sustainable strategies for safely co-existing with COVID-19 while we roll-out vaccination,” she added. “It is of the utmost importance that we think of the end in mind, if not we might see a whole new wave of infections.”  Hontiveros added that after the vaccination of the indigent groups, it is important to begin securing and allocating funds for mass vaccination. “We can only achieve herd immunity if 60-70% of the population gets vaccinated. If the DOH and NTF foresee the process to take the next 4 to 5 years, are we financially prepared to make it happen? The threat of a hiccup in our plans might cost lives,” she said.    “Ito ang pinakamalaking vaccination program in the history of our country. If we don’t do it right, we'll waste billions of pesos and risk millions of lives,” she concluded.

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Country must fortify evacuations centers, President Duterte tells lawmakers

November 24, 2020

The government should prioritize the construction of sturdy evacuation centers to provide shelter to vulnerable population during disasters, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said on Tuesday as he asked lawmakers to act on it. “Alam mo, it is high time that government consider really, of course, in the government units facing the Pacific Ocean, gamit na gamit ito na we build a strong structure, stronger than a typhoon that would come their way para mapuntahan ng mga tao, and maybe small rooms with many comfort rooms where people can really stay for a while,” the President said in a public address on government response on the coronavirus pandemic. At present, schools and public buildings are being used as evacuation centers, which the President said creates “an aberration in the movement or in the development” of governmental functions and education. “Iyan nga ang sanang tugunan ng Congress, Senator Bong Go, kasi pagka itong ganitong a deluge, they tend to go to places for shelter and relief,” he said. Assessing typhoon damages, the President said that despite the ferocity of the weather disturbances, the government was able to manage the disaster well because of the commendable performance of security forces and government agencies. The President said that comparing the impact of Typhoons Rolly, Siony, Tonyo and Ulysses to previous typhoons, the damages and casualties left by the recent calamities were comparably smaller, adding that this is due to the administration’s extensive preparations prior to the typhoons’ impact. “But despite of its fury, we were able to manage. Hindi naman… I know that it leaves a bad taste in the mouth to say that minimal ang namatay. Pero hindi kagaya ng Ondoy,” he said. President Duterte praised government troops for their rescue efforts, lauding Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana for taking the lead in the planning and deployment of government personnel. The government’s initiative to buy new equipment for security forces such as rubber boats has helped save more lives during rescue operations, he pointed out. Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, who is also present during the meeting, said the impact of the typhoons was mitigated by the President’s order for government agencies to conduct early coordination and planning as well as deployment of troops and other personnel. Striving for zero casualty in calamities in the future, Año said government agencies including the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services (PAGASA) are committed to further improve their disaster management and strategies. On November 1, Super Typhoon Rolly, internationally known as Typhoon Goni, battered the Bicol Region and Southern Luzon. It was followed by Typhoons Siony and Tonyo. And on November 11, Typhoon Ulysses, internationally known as Typhoon Vamco, devastated Quezon Province, Central Luzon, and the Bicol Region with heavy precipitation and strong winds. The successive typhoons that ravaged the country left billions worth of damages in agriculture and infrastructures in its wake. (PND)

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PHL thanks Korea for support to ‘Build, Build, Build,' COVID-19 response

November 24, 2020

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has thanked the government of Korea for its swift assistance to the Philippines in its COVID-19 response efforts as well as for increased fund support to the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program and initiatives to reform the country’s tax system.  Secretary Dominguez also expressed his appreciation for South Korea’s plan to further expand its investments in the Philippines and step up the pace of the negotiations on the proposed Philippines-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA), during a recent lunch meeting with Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-man.  On top of providing a US$50-million loan to the Philippines-Korea Project Preparation Facility (PK-PPF) to help bridge operational gaps in implementing projects under the “Build, Build, Build” Program, Korea has also expressed its willingness to extend funding support to the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Bridge Project in Western Visayas, Secretary Dominguez said.  Korea also signed an agreement for a US$100-million loan for the Philippines’ COVID-19 Emergency Response Program last October 29 and has extended its expertise and assistance in setting up an electronic invoicing system in the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to improve tax administration.  During the meeting, Secretary Dominguez assured Ambassador Han that the Philippine government is intent on advancing the processing of loans and grants with Korea in the pipeline, such as a possible additional loan for COVID-19 response and financing support for projects on maritime safety, a water resources management information system, agricultural modernization and forest management.  Secretary Dominguez also sought Korea’s support in establishing a framework agreement that will provide a basis to process tied financing intended for the procurement of military equipment for the Department of National Defense (DND). Ambassador Han, for his part, said Korea is always ready to assist the Philippines in implementing its development agenda and in extending support during emergencies such as the COVID-19 outbreak, given the strong ties and enduring friendship between the two countries.  These strong ties have been cemented by the sacrifices made by Filipino soldiers during the Korean war, which marks its 70th anniversary this year, Ambassador Han said.  During the meeting, the Ambassador also said Korea is planning to expand business opportunities in the Philippines, but he has expressed concern over the country’s high corporate income tax (CIT) rate of 30 percent.  He welcomed Secretary Dominguez’s clarification on the proposed CIT reduction under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) bill, which seeks to provide an outright tax cut of 5 percentage points from the current 30 percent tax rate to 25 percent starting this year, and an additional 1 percent reduction every year until the rate goes down to 20 percent.  The Ambassador said a possible investment opportunity that the two countries can explore is the manufacture of environment-friendly vehicles, considering that the Philippines is one of the world’s biggest producers of nickel, which is a key component in making electric car batteries.  Korea and the Philippines are also in the final stages of negotiations on an FTA, which will further expand trade and investment opportunities between the two countries, Ambassador Han said.  Secretary Dominguez said the Philippines is 100-percent behind this FTA as he underscored the Philippines’ strategic location in expanding Korea’s trade footprint in the US$2.6-trillion ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) market.   Korea is the country’s 5th largest provider of Official Development Assistance (ODA), with loan and grant commitments amounting to around US$679.65 million or 2.59 percent of the country’s total ODA portfolio as of June 2020. Through the Korea Export Import Bank- Economic Development Cooperation Fund (KEXIM-EDCF), Korea has likewise committed ODA loans to the Philippines in the amount of US$631.77 million.  Korea is the 9th largest provider of ODA grants to the Philippines, with a total of US$ 47.88 million as of June this year.  (DOF)  

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

November 13, 2020

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

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