todays top stories

Roque: Northern Mindanao’s resilience an exemplary template to follow

September 22, 2020

PRESIDENTIAL spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday commended local officials and residents of Northern Mindanao in general for continuing to run the economy and not panicking in spite of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Roque made the statement when he conducted his daily press briefing in Cagayan de Oro City on that day. In particular, Roque praised the efforts of Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno, Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano and Iligan City Mayor Celso Regencia for acting on appropriate measures against the coronavirus despite the increasing number of cases here. “If only the people of the Philippines can see Northern Mindanao, tapang na ipinagpatuloy nila ang kanilang hanapbuhay. Iyan po ang nakita ko ditto sa Misor at CDO (referring to Misamis Oriental and Cagyaan de Oro City). Ang mga tao rito hinaharap ang pandemya. Nandiyan pa ang pandemya pero sila ay nag-iingat dahil nais pa nilang mag-hanapbuhay. Napakaganda po ang sitwayson dito sa Northern Mindanao,” Roque said. “Ngayon po kinakailangan na nating buksan unting-unti ang ekonomiya kaya ang panawagan natin, ingat buhay para sa hanapbuhay,” he added. For his part, Moreno said the implementation of minimum public health standards is very important as well as the intervnetions of the local government units. The city government here has provided four RT-PCRs to the Department of Health (DOH) that can be used starting October 2020. “Testing in the region is now leveling up. Hopefully by October, we can also serve Caraga and BARMM,” he said. Meanwhile, Emano attributed the relatively low number of local COVID-19 transmissions in the province to the early declaration of the state of calamity here. As of presstime, Misamis Oriental has only 306 cases. Lastly, Regencia reported that Iligan City was able to decrease its active cases from 182 to 151 in two weeks due to the implementation of a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) there. 

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Pompee La Viña gets support from gov’t, business sectors

September 19, 2020

LOCAL government and business leaders welcomed the assumption of Phividec administrator Jose Gabriel “Pompee” La Viña, saying it would breathe new face in the industrial zone and help steer the economy of Northern Mindanao which has suffered a blow in the ongoing pandemic.      Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno congratulated his erstwhile nemesis, saying it is the prerogative of the President to appoint anyone who enjoys his full trust and confidence.       Meanwhile, Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said that La Viña is "fully qualified for the job and he has the dedication, integrity and work ethics to perform well for Phividec."      "He likewise has the energy and efficiency to attract more locators/investors to Phividec and more employment to our people of Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro City," Rodriguez said.      The leader of all city and municipal councilors in Region 10 also expressed support for La Viña.      Cagayan de Oro City Councilor George Goking said the Philippine Councilors League (PCL) Northern Mindanao chapter in which he chairs is looking forward working with La Viña in bringing more investments to the region.      "We believe that he will do a good job," he added.      For his part, Oro Chamber president Robertino Pizarro described La Viña as pro-development and has a good grasp of doing business. Oro Chamber is the largest organization of homegrown enterprises in the region.      Phividec Industrial Authority manages the 3,000-hectare wide Phividec Industrial Estate in Misamis Oriental, home to dozens of multinational companies enjoying the privileges of an economic zone.      Encompassing the two municipalities of Tagoloan and Villanueva, Phividec stands for the Philippine Veterans Investment Development Corporation, a government owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) created in 1974 aimed at harnessing funds for retired soldiers.

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E-finance key to helping Filipinos cope with COVID-19 pandemic

September 19, 2020

WITH the community quarantine still in effect in the country since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, digital services and platforms became the primary means of transaction among Filipinos. Digital payments, for one, have become a necessity. In her presentation during the 18th Development Policy Research Month (DPRM) virtual kickoff forum held recently, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Assistant Governor Iluminada Sicat said that the BSP noted a marked increase in electronic fund transfers vis-à-vis automated teller machine (ATM) withdrawals and check transactions during the community quarantine from March to May. Without a vaccine for COVID-19, she added that this increasing trend in digital transactions is expected to continue “even as lockdown measures are eased”. Sicat also mentioned that the government’s initiatives to digitize payments for social benefits, wages, and transportation would further boost digital payment platforms. Further, she said the creation of a national ID system in the country is being pushed to establish a verifiable digital identity for Filipinos, “which will enable them to open bank accounts… and gainfully participate in an increasingly digital economy”. Local governments have also adopted various technologies to help their constituents. For example, in Makati City, Makati Mayor Abigail Binay implemented some innovations to make financial services more accessible and convenient. For instance, a contactless financial aid distribution, through the Makatizen card and application, was developed. “I believe that leaders and citizens should embrace new technologies even at the time [when] there was [no] pandemic yet because it provides convenience. It also promotes public health by avoiding physical contact,” Binay said, one of the panelists in the DPRM virtual kickoff forum.   Citing the 2019 Financial Inclusion Survey, Sicat said there are opportunities in the country that should be explored in promoting the use of digital payments in the Philippines.   In terms of mobile phone owners, only 12 percent out of the 69 percent of adults who own a mobile phone use them for financial transactions. Meanwhile, only 9 percent of the 53 percent of adults with internet connection use it for financial transactions. Moreover, 7 out of 10 unbanked adults have a mobile phone, “which represents an untapped opportunity for digital finance”.   While there have been developments and various initiatives from the government and other key sectors in the utilization of e-finance, Sicat noted that “lack of awareness and trust remains to be the main barriers in [the] usage of mobile phone and internet for financial transactions”.   “The BSP believes that promoting digital literacy plays a crucial role in deepening the public’s trust in digital financial services,” Sicat said. She also emphasized that widely shared access to affordable and fast internet connection and the universal access to the national ID system “will facilitate the scale and reach of digital financial services”.   The DPRM, led by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, is celebrated every September to promote nationwide awareness of the importance of policy research in crafting evidence-based policies, plans, and programs, pursuant to Malacañang Proclamation No. 247 signed in 2002. This year’s theme is “Bouncing Back Together: Innovating Governance for the New Normal.” (PR)

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IP leaders: We Won the Fight for quality IP Education

September 19, 2020

LIANGA, Surigao del Sur--Two leaders of the Indigenous Peoples (IP) yesterday claimed the IP is winning the fight for quality IP educationn in the province. “We won the fight to have quality Education,” Hawudon Jumar S. Bucales of the Lianga Indigenous People Mandatory Representative (IPMR) and Datu Constancio Duhac of the Lianga Tribal Chieftain, said during the Inauguration ceremony of two DepEd IP Schools of Living Traditions on September 16 to the IP communities and the local government units in Sitio Simowao in Lianga and Sitio Lucnodon in Marihatag to replace non-DepEd accredited and communist NPA terrorist (CNT)-linked Tribal Filipino Program in Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS). Bayan Muna representatives Eufemia Cullamat, a native of Lianga and the Makabayan bloc have been continuously opposing the establishment of DepEd accredited IP schools accusing the government, particularly the NTF-ELCAC of depriving the IPs’ of education because of its closure order to TRIFPSS and ALCADEV and discredits the military’s Community Support Program in the IP communities during the budget hearing in Congress. Yet, Surigao Sur IP leaders have been vocal in their support to the NTF-ELCAC and have lambasted Cullamat and her cohorts and identified them as cuddlers of NPAs. “When the government addresses the root causes of insurgency and confronts the NPAs through combat operations, they oppose, but when it comes to NPAs’ killings of innocent IP leaders and members, they are quiet. Cullamat and Makabayan bloc simply cover up the NPAs and discredits the government forces that are enforcing the laws against NPAs,” Datu Rico Maca, IPMR of San Miguel Surigao Del Sur said.   Surigao Sur IP leaders have sought the help of the Regional Task Force on Ending Local  Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) to abolish the said schools and replace them with DepEd IP schools citing that TRIFPSS and ALCADEV breeds NPA terrorists and cadres who have destroyed their culture. Lieutenant Colonel Joey B Baybayan INF PA, 3rd Special Forces “Arrowhead” Battalion Commander said, “The best weapon we can use to counter terrorism is to teach the children the genuine essence of peace. These DepEd IP schools will not only provide quality education but also the right values that can preserve and even develop the culture and tradition of our indigenous peoples.” Surigao Sur Province, DepEd CARAGA, RTF-ELCAC member agencies particularly the Regional Peace and Order Committee (RPOC) and Regional Development Council (RDC) stood by the guiding principle that the ‘State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all.’ This is why they worked hard to establish the schools so that the IP communities in the conflict-affected areas may have access to quality education.   “For the information of all, the request for the closure of CNT-linked TRIFPSS and ALCADEV emanated from the resolutions of the legitimate IP leaders, local government units and even the former rebels who were products of these schools. The focus of our community support program in the communities is to identify the primary and secondary issues of the IPs so that the government will know how to help them. Quality IP education is what the IP wants and we raised it to the RTF-ELCAC to address it, “Brigadier General Allan D Hambala AFP, 401st Brigade Commander, said.   Former Rebels and IP leaders’ testimonies, and recovered documents from combat encounters against NPAs which served as substantial evidences unearthed the symbiotic relationship of ALCADEV, TRIFPSS and the NPA terrorist movement in Surigao Sur.   Surigao Del Sur Governor Alexander T. Pimentel, DEPED CARAGA Regional Director Francis Bringas, RDC-SDC chairman and Bayugan City Mayor Kirk A. Asis, 4th Infantry Division Commander Major General Andres C. Centino AFP, Surigao Provincial IPMR, Datu Jimmy Guinsod, Lianga Mayor Novelita M Sarmen and Marihatag Mayor Marc Justine Pelenio with RTF-ELCAC member agencies were present in the ceremonial turn-over of DepEd IP schools. The RTF-ELCAC’s thrust is to address the root causes of insurgency and NPA terrorism to put an end to the protracted war waged by the Communist NPA Terrorists that have been draining the country’s resources and have wasted many Filipinos’ lives for over 5 decades. (PR)

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Children plunged into poverty due to Covid-19

September 19, 2020

THE number of children living in multidimensional poverty has soared to approximately 1.2 billion due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new UNICEF and Save the Children analysis published today. This is a 15 per cent increase in the number of children living in deprivation in low-and middle-income countries, or an additional 150 million children since the pandemic hit earlier this year.   The multidimensional poverty analysis uses data on access to education, healthcare, housing, nutrition, sanitation and water from more than 70 countries. It highlights that around 45 per cent of children were severely deprived of at least one of these critical needs in the countries analyzed before the pandemic.   Although the analysis paints a dire picture already, UNICEF warns the situation will likely worsen in the months to come. Save the Children and UNICEF are committed to continue to monitor this evolving situation and work with governments and civil society to confront it.   “COVID-19 and the lockdown measures imposed to prevent its spread have pushed millions of children deeper into poverty,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “Families on the cusp of escaping poverty have been pulled back in, while others are experiencing levels of deprivation they have never seen before. Most concerningly, we are closer to the beginning of this crisis than its end.”   The report notes that child poverty is much more than a monetary value. Although measures of monetary poverty such as household income are important, they provide only a partial view of the plight of children living in poverty. To understand the full extent of child poverty, all potential deprivations must be analysed directly. This also points to the need to implement multi-sectoral policies addressing health, education, nutrition, water and sanitation and housing deprivations to end multidimensional poverty.   Social protection, inclusive fiscal policies, investments in social services, and employment and labor market interventions to support families are critical to lifting children out of poverty and preventing further devastation. This includes expanding access to quality health care and providing the tools and technology needed for children to continue their education remotely; and investing in family-friendly policies such as paid leave and child care.   “This pandemic has already caused the biggest global education emergency in history, and the increase in poverty will make it very hard for the most vulnerable children and their families to make up for the loss”, said Inger Ashing, CEO of Save the Children. “Children who lose out on education are more likely to be forced into child labour or early marriage and be trapped in a cycle of poverty for years to come. We cannot afford to let a whole generation of children become victims of this pandemic. National governments and the international community must step up to soften the blow.”   There are not only more children experiencing poverty than before, the poorest children are getting poorer as well, the report notes. Some children may suffer one or more deprivations and others experience none at all, therefore the average number of deprivations suffered per child can be used to assess how poor children are. Before the pandemic, the average number of severe deprivations per child was around 0.7. It is now estimated to have increased by 15 per cent to around 0.85.   “We must act now to prevent additional children from being deprived in basic life needs like school, medicine, food, water and shelter,” said Fore. “Governments must prioritize the most marginalized children and their families through rapid expansion of social protection systems including cash transfers and child benefits, remote learning opportunities, healthcare services and school feeding. Making these critical investments now can help countries to prepare for future shocks.(Save the Chilcren)

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WHO, UNICEF recommit to accelerating health

September 19, 2020

GENEVA--New partnership calls for key actions in universal health coverage, mental health, emergencies and nutrition The new Strategic Collaboration Framework builds on a robust 70-year collaboration between the two organizations, and prioritizes four strategic areas for immediate attention and action at all levels of the organizations: universal health coverage, through a primary health care and health systems approach; mental health and psychosocial well-being and development; public health emergencies; and maternal and child nutrition. Additionally, the two organizations signed a new Joint Programme on Mental Health and Psychosocial Well-being and Development of Children and Adolescents. This 10-year collaborative effort will promote mental health and psychosocial well-being and development, increase access to care for mental health conditions, and reduce suffering and enhance quality of life among children and adolescents, and their caregivers. “The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed huge gaps in accessing health, well-being and nutrition services among children and vulnerable populations,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “There has never been a more urgent need to work together. This new framework will help us strengthen health and food systems, and invest in mental health and psychosocial support in every country in the world.” For more than 70 years, WHO and UNICEF have worked together worldwide to ensure children survive and thrive, and benefit from a safe and clean environment. The two organizations collaborated to provide high-impact health, immunization, nutrition, HIV and early child development interventions, as well as safe water and sanitation services in every region of the world, including in fragile and conflict settings. "At the heart of our work with UNICEF is seeing that every child not only survives but ultimately thrives and transforms their communities and future generations," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. "With great appreciation and respect for our unique and complementary roles, we stand together in our commitment to achieve health for all. As this pandemic demonstrates, no-one is safe until everyone is safe.” Today, WHO and UNICEF continue to work together to stop the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that every woman and every child have access to the essential health services they need, including immunizations and health check-ups. The two organizations are also working together to support countries to introduce and deliver COVID-19 vaccines under the vaccines pillar of the “Access to COVID-19 Tools – Accelerator” (ACT-A) initiative, along with Gavi, CEPI and global immunization partners. Additionally, the organizations are strengthening health systems through primary health care, as agreed in the Declaration of Astana, and the UN High-level declaration on UHC, in order to accelerate achievement of universal health coverage and Sustainable Development Goal 3 targets by 2030. (PR)

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