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Archive for October, 2012





Walking in the fields of Peace
Read 200 times | Posted on October 30, 2012 @ 5 years ago

Walking in the fields of Peace

by: PED T. QUIAMJOT

THE PHILIPPINES legal holidays have recently included the proclamation of Eidul Fitri or Eid Feter as a celebration to end the Muslim fasting during the month of June. It took time for the Philippine Historical Commission to understand the positive role of Islam which has been part of our culture for the last 300 years to realize the importance of commemorating the occasion in the Muslim world.

Islam has been in the Philippines since the 13th century some 200 years before Ferdinand Magellan came to Masao in Butuan in 1521. Islam before the discovery of the Philippines was already practiced between interaction of communities and the inhabitants in matters of trade and commerce. The economic activities during those period simulated good relations between the people of Mindanao to the outside world of Borneo, Malaysia and Sumatra were Muslims traders fly their trade bringing Silk, Jars, Brass Gongs and weapons.

The positive role of Islam to the early Filipinos was replaced by the tragic confrontation between the Spaniards and the Muslims involving Christianized Filipinos who were used by Spain against the Muslims. The long colonial confrontation would later reflect to the long armed struggle of today between the MILF, MNLF and the government.

In one of the speeches of Former Senator, Santanina Rasul, during her incumbency in the Senate, she mentioned the perceived gap between theory and practice as far as the Muslims are concerned on the “implementation of policies and programs declared which created a lot of doubt, misgivings and resentment over the sincerity and ability of the government to fulfill its commitment”.

Muslims are guided by the rules that the relationship with non-Muslims should be based on justice, mutual respect, cooperation and communication.
Enthused by the BIMP-EAGA connectivity to the Southern Philippines Cities, a peace treaty with the Bangsamoro in the stripe torn conflict of Mindanao is a welcome development for businessmen and government officials from our neighboring countries who are coming to the Philippines at increase random. Urban Muslims, highly educated, well travelled often with their families are increasingly seeking our goods and services that reflect their needs as Muslims.
The expanding Muslim population worldwide which is estimated at 1.8 Billion is growing rapidly and is predicted to reach 25% of the global population in the next 10 years. This growth is expected to influence the economy of Mindanao.

With the proposed establishment of the Bangsamoro as defined in the peace agreement recently signed in Malacañang, positive perspective would mean Muslims can start flexing their economic muscles where business and investments are two sectors where their money is beginning to count. A great majority of big Muslim businessmen have access to the Middle East funds invested globally by the association of Oil Producing Countries or OPEC.
General Santos, Davao City, Cagayan de Oro and Zamboanga City where Muslims are always welcome for friendly holidays are good destination for the Muslim petroleum fund for investment in tourism, energy and power generation and rural reconstruction.

Al Salamu Alaikum! Or peace on us in Mindanao, Muslims and Christians shall be sharing more in prosperity and in a new bar of development in the Bangsamoro cities and provinces.



Baldoz calls to address labor-market mismatch to improve PH competitiveness
Read 274 times | Posted on October 27, 2012 @ 5 years ago

Baldoz calls to address labor-market mismatch to improve PH competitiveness

The issue of job-skills mismatch has been a lingering problem both in the domestic and global labor markets.

This is the introduction made by Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz during the 3rd National Competitiveness Council dialogue at Makati.

Baldoz said that the inability of our job applicant to obtain jobs appropriate to their backgrounds, graduates getting jobs not in line with their degrees and suffering from tough competition and unjust compensation are evident for the need to converge and work hand-in-hand to improve the matching of skills with available jobs in the market.

More of these lingering problems are the difficulties employers encounter in screening qualified workers and the daunting high unemployment and underemployment in the country.

Baldoz said, “The recent statistics of unemployment has reached to 2.84 million or 7 percent.”

On the other hand, underemployment has reached to 8.55 million or 22.7 percent in the country, she noted.

Most unemployed were college undergraduates and graduates estimated to be at 940 Thousand, Baldoz said.

Youth unemployment rate is alarming at high as 17 percent which is more than twice the national average, she added.

This youth is crucial to a nation’s development but our young people are constantly struggling to find a decent job, she further stressed.

The Philippine Development Plan (PDP) aims to create one million new jobs per year and maintain the unemployment rate within a narrow range of 6.8 percent and 7.2 percent.

One of its accompanying plans is the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) Labor and Employment Plan for 2011-2016 which has set out active labor market policies and interventions to address the employment challenge of asymmetry in information.

This will be addressed in both the demand and the supply sides of the labor market by enhancing the labor market information and employment intermediation systems.

In addition, the Plan includes institutionalization and capacity-building of the Public Employment Service Offices (PESOs) for better service delivery, developing job search and internship programs for the youth who have difficulty integrating in the labor market.

There is also a policy initiating a review of the labor code to address impediments to hiring workers and adopting flexible arrangements that are acceptable to the tripartite partners.

Meanwhile, Baldoz echoed the advocacy of APEC leaders which is to “put job creation at the heart of our economic strategy and enhance cooperation to address the social implications of globalization”.

“Not only should we advocate that our workforce be employed in the domestic market, but we should also ensure that what we are producing are qualified and competent workforce who can compete well in the global arena”, Baldoz said.

Global competitiveness is a key pillar that should be mainstreamed in the employment services. — Gelo Udaundo, PHILEXPORT News and Features



Competition in infrastructure services can enhance exports
Read 236 times | Posted on October 27, 2012 @ 5 years ago

Competition in infrastructure services can enhance exports

The Philippines and other developing countries may consider introducing competition into infrastructure monopolies which is crucial for enhancing export competitiveness.

This is the recommendation of trade experts in the book titled “Combating Anti-competitive Practices,” published by the International Trade Centre (ITC). ITC is the joint cooperation agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations for business aspects of trade development.

The book is co-authored by economist and judge of Supreme Court of France Dr. Frederic Jenny, and two members of the WTO’s Intellectual Property Division –counselor Robert Anderson and legal affairs officer Anna Muller.

The trade experts pointed out that measures to strengthen competition are important complement to other reforms aimed at improving performance in the provision of public infrastructure services, including transportation, energy and telecommunications.

“Successfully implemented, such measures offer substantial potential benefits for the users of such services, including (very much) export-oriented businesses,” they said.

This, as infrastructure services account for much of the costs of export-oriented and other developing and transition economy businesses.

The authors said restructuring and applying appropriate competition rules to this sector merit consideration by all countries as a complement to participation in trade-liberalizing agreements and arrangements.

The report stressed that competition laws are important to deal with three main sets of business practices: cartels, mergers between competing firms and abuses of dominant position.

It also cited the need to introduce competitive access regime and measures such as the separation of potentially competitive segments from other segments that constitute genuine natural monopolies.

The report, however, did not recommend a uniform or ‘blanket’ approach to the implementation of competition-oriented structural reforms across all sectors and countries.

“Experts counsel a ‘case-by-case’ approach. User businesses and their associations, in addition to public interest and other advisory bodies, play a role in providing input to policy formulation,” it said.

Likewise, countries should establish and strengthen incentives for investment, innovation, the creation of efficient management structures and productivity improvement, the authors added. — Danielle Venz, PHILEXPORT News and Features



Boosting public goods and services provision can curb corruption
Read 375 times | Posted on October 27, 2012 @ 5 years ago

Boosting public goods and services provision can curb corruption

The Philippines should efficiently provide public goods and services and create a business-friendly environment in an effort to stamp out corruption.

Dr. Ronald Mendoza, executive director of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Policy Center and associate professor of economics, made this recommendation based on results of the 2009 AIM Enterprise Survey Data indicating that more corruption was reported by firms if they were located in cities with very poor business environments.

The survey, which was implemented in the second quarter of 2009, covered about 1,740 firms in 29 cities in the country.

“Results suggest that corruption affects Philippine SMEs (small and medium enterprises) in a very pernicious way,” he said in a forum recently organized by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies.

Mendoza said there is an observation that there are possibly higher opportunities for corruption bribe-seeking when public goods and services are inadequate and inefficient.

He said the survey found that bribery was reported by companies who got their business permits a month late, those which experienced an hour of power interruption, with roads that were poorly maintained, those that accessed informal sources of credit, and firms in cities with high poverty incidence.

With this, Mendoza said lowering the number of steps to set up a business could thus reduce the opportunity for ‘gatekeepers’ to extort bribes.

To boost competitiveness, Mendoza said that poverty in the country should be reduced through improving education, health and other human capital investments.

“This could also have knock-on effects in building a stronger “demand” by a well-educated voting cohort for less corruption and a more professional public sector at the local level,” he said.

Mendoza likewise stressed the role of the media in helping curb corruption, noting that these might also facilitate more information on the practice and more likelihood to report bribery.

“Policymakers need to address these challenges if they are to unleash the full potentials of SMEs,” he said.

The SME sector comprises about 99.6 percent of all registered firms nationwide, employs 69.9 percent of the labor force and contributes 32 percent to the economy. — Danielle Venz, PHILEXPORT News and Features



Cities urged to adopt cluster-based strategies to boost growth
Read 315 times | Posted on October 27, 2012 @ 5 years ago

Cities urged to adopt cluster-based strategies to boost growth

The head of the League of Cities is urging cities to implement cluster-based strategies to further spur developments and continue to be the country’s most dynamic areas.

“Development planners tell us that as economies become more globalized, cities need to adopt policies that embrace the tendency for industry clustering,” said Oscar Rodriguez, mayor of the city of San Fernando, Pampanga.

Rodriguez, in a recent business conference, underscored the need for cities to interconnect to each other to achieve growth and development.

“As more and more people converge on cities, for instance, we realize the wisdom of interconnecting with other cities particularly those contiguous to us in terms of geography, resource profile, or even culture. No man is an island and the same is true for a city,” he noted.

To this end, Rodriguez said his city has entered into a sister-city agreement with its neighbor Angeles City, noting that the partnership hopes to give opportunities for cooperative efforts to advance their mutual interests.

He said they also supported the bid of another neighbor in the province, Mabalacat, to become a new city of Pampanga. The town’s graduation to cityhood resulted in higher revenue and overall economic gains.

“We shall continue to look for more partners with which we can “cluster” in our search for sustainable development and growth that will benefit our people,” he added.

Rodriguez, also the president of the League of Cities of the Philippines, said cities should work harder to boost their respective competitiveness.

He cited efforts at cutting the cost of doing business and ‘satisfying business needs’ as among the key drivers for achieving competitive standards among cities.

“For LGUs (local government units), particularly cities, to be competitive, they have to excel in their job of providing services and support facilities to their communities, particularly to business enterprises that also want to contribute their share for the betterment of the domestic economies,” he added.

Moreover, Rodriguez said that while the overall Philippine economy grew in 2011 by 3.9 percent, much higher rates of expansion were registered in many of the regions outside highly urbanized Metro Manila.

The National Capital Region shared a slightly lower 35.7 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2011. Of the country’s 17 regions, seven posted growth rates last year that were higher than Metro Manila, he said. — Danielle Venz, PHILEXPORT News and Features



MERALCO launches program to help SMEs reduce power costs
Read 220 times | Posted on October 27, 2012 @ 5 years ago

MERALCO launches program to help SMEs reduce power costs

The Manila Electric Company (Meralco) has launched the time-of-use (TOU) metering program specifically designed to help small and medium enterprises (SME) within its franchise area to help reduce the cost of their monthly electric consumption.

The program was announced by Francisco Collantes, Jr., manager of the electric distributor’s SME relationship management office.

Under the program, SMEs could enroll in the program by applying with Collantes’ office. After the payment of some fees, the SME enrollees will be given special metering devices that computes consumption of electricity not under the present blended rates, but on a time-of-use rates.

Collantes explained that cheaper rates are charged during off-peak hours while peak hours are also charged peak or high rates. The differentiated rates affect only generation charges.

From Mondays to Saturdays, peak hours when generation charge are highest is from 8:00 in the morning to 8:00 in the evening. The rest of the day are off-peak hours when electricity is cheaper. On Sundays, electricity is expensive only from six to eight in the evening.

The program was unrolled after the company piloted the program with different SMEs in Metro Manila. Among those piloted, the partner enterprises made between five and 20 percent of savings on their two-month electric bills.

Applied on micro enterprises, the savings on electric bills were found not to be very significant and took more than two months before their impact was felt.

Collantes said that the program is best enjoyed by the BPO industry that deploys people during the night, enterprises that operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and those with night shifts. Savings are highest on Sundays when peak hours are only from six to eight in the evening. — Abe P. Belena, PHILEXPORT News and Features



Iligan City sees brighter business prospect as Bangsamoro Framework Agreement sealed
Read 312 times | Posted on October 27, 2012 @ 5 years ago

Iligan City sees brighter business prospect as Bangsamoro Framework Agreement sealed
(By :Richel V. Umel, Business Week Mindanao)

ILIGAN CITY – The signing of Bangasamoro Framework Agreement has established a road map and working atmosphere towards peace would add more confidence to investors to put their investment in Iligan City .

Mayor Lawrence Lluch Cruz and chairperson of the Regional Development Council Region 10 who witnessed the signing of the agreement told Mindanao Daily News in an interview “the feeling of the people who were there in Malacanan was up beat wherein the people were very happy of the most historical milestone in achieving a lasting peace in Mindanao “.

“Though this is not yet the final agreement but the parameters of agreement and the relationship has been established to end the four decades of armed conflict in Mindanao”, Mayor Cruz said. Iligan City has been tagged as tough opposition to Bangsamoro Juridical Entity in August 2008 where Iligan City’s 82 per cent of the total land area was supposed to be included in the BJE and the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional and sparked a new conflict between the MILF and the government forces on August 17 bombing in Iligan City and August 18, 2008 attack in two barangays of Lapayan and Tacub, Kauswagan and Kolambugan towns in Lanao del Norte that displaced thousands of civilians.

“The signing of Bangsamoro Framework Agreement was a victory not only for Iligan City but for the entire nation” Cruz said. The barangays in Iligan City targeted for inclusion in 2008 failed deal was no longer included in the recently signed peace pact” Mayor Cruz said, For or those who are still opposing the peace agreement Mayor Cruz said, ” Let’s give peace a chance”

Development directions of Region 10

Mayor Cruz and RDC 10 chairperson announced in a Business Forum in Iligan City Wednesday the Laguindingan Airport Development Project in Laguuindingan, Misamis Oriental will be operational to commercial flights by first quarter of 2014 instead of November 2013.

Cruz said, this is due to new bidding of navigational equipment participated in by competent bidders with significant track records.With the entry Transportation and Communication Secretary Mar Roxas, a review of project document has been going on to ensure quality of the project.

Mayor Cruz said, under the new budget for infrastructure development, the national highway from Iligan City to Cagayan de Oro City will be transformed in four lanes to pave way to the Laguindingan airport.” Though it is not yet called Laguindingan International Airport but furture flights will cater some Asian countries flight destination.

Ms. Emily M. Pascua, chairperson of Iligan Chamber of Commerce and Industry said, the ICCI members welcome the new development opportunity after the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement was signed between the MILF and the Government of the Philippines. Being a member of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry we are confident that more investors will be very confident to invest in Iligan City .

The Business Forum Wednesday October 17 provided an update to businessmen the trends of business opportunity and indicators that will serve as guidance and reference for the decision making.



So Much Alike and Yet.
Read 310 times | Posted on October 27, 2012 @ 5 years ago


Health IN Focus

So Much Alike and Yet…

BY Mary Jean Loreche

Twins can either be identical or fraternal. Since their physical characteristics are so similar, it may take time and a keenness , before one gets to identify one from the other, except for family members, who, by their closeness can easily say which is who. So, it can happen too, in the medical field. One type of illness may be so similar to another that it may require one’s knowledge, experience and the help of colleagues as well as the use of diagnostic tests that will help differentiate one from the other. There are even instances when the diagnosis is made based on exclusion.

Chikungunya Fever is one such illness. This illness is really not that uncommon, though, it only comes to the public’s notice when there are travel advisories or when the number of cases is such that it gains attention in the medical community as well as in media. Last October 9, Dr Eric Tayag of the Department of Health said that there were a total of 58 confirmed cases of Chikungunya Fever in the Philippines. As far back as the 1990’s, records has it that cases of Chikungunya fever were already diagnosed. This is a Viral disease that is spread by mosquitoes, the same mosquitoes that carry the viruses for Dengue Fever: Aedes aegypti and albopticus. It comes as no surprise then that the manifestations of both diseases may be similar and at times these two may even co-occur in a single patient.

Though both diseases will present with fever, fatigue, muscle pains, nausea and headache, what is prominent in chikungunya is the severity of the joint pains. As a matter of fact, chikungunya comes from the kimakonde language which means “ to become contorted “. A person afflicted with the disease may be seen with a stooped appearance due to the stiffness and joint pains! The presence of arthritic pains in an adult, with abrupt onset of fever, should alert one to the possibility of the disease, instead of misdiagnosing the case as dengue fever. To confirm the diagnosis, a serologic test for anti chikungunya antibodies may be requested.

Just like Dengue, there is no vaccine as yet for the disease. Treatment is directed at the symptoms. Vector control, such as reducing the number of artificial and natural water filled containers that serve as habitats for breeding of mosquitoes, use of insecticide sprays and insecticide treated mosquito nets, are preventive measures that are doable.

Keeping one’s environment clean is as important as making one’s self healthy and looking great and beautiful….



Philippine Treasures
Read 479 times | Posted on October 27, 2012 @ 5 years ago


Philippine Treasures

By Ignacio R. Bunye

It’s about time the world knows how rich the Philippines truly is.

The Musée du quai Branly (MQB) in Paris, France will be featuring the Philippines’ pre-Hispanic collection of pottery and gold in an “exhibition of indigenous art and culture” next year.

This will be part of MQB’s mandate as a national museum to feature arts and civilizations from Africa, Oceania, the Americas and Asia.

The Philippine Exhibition, entitled “Philippines, Art of Exchange,” will be held from April 9 to July 21, 2013.
The MQB is set to borrow 30 pieces from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) pre-Hispanic collection—27 of which will be from the gold collection and three from the pottery collection.

The total insurance value for the 30 pieces is a staggering P111,159,000.00!

Such treasures only show how distinct and rich the Filipino civilization was even before the Spanish colonization.
According to the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, excavations all over the Philippines have turned up fine pottery and gold pieces in sites such as Batangas and Mindoro in Luzon, Samar in the Visayas, and Butuan and Surigao in Mindanao.

“The technology used in making these artifacts is an enduring evidence of the high level of technology during the pre-colonial period,” the Metropolitan Museum said, adding that the artifacts are now considered a national heritage and are part of the BSP’s Gold and Pottery Collection.

The Metropolitan Museum revealed that since the ancient times, gold has been one of the main products of the Philippine islands.

“Both ancient and modern-day goldsmiths exude exquisiteness in their craftmanship in making pieces for trade or for personal vanity and prestige,” the Museum said.

The BSP’s gold collection actually started with beads and gold pieces that were utilized as a means of exchange during the ancient times.

The pre-Hispanic gold collection also showcases “barter rings,” or hollow gold tubes that form a circle.
These barter rings, according to the Metropolitan Museum, are bigger than doughnuts in size and are made of nearly pure gold.

Aside from the rings, the BSP also has a significant collection of excavated glass and semiprecious stone beads, which are strung into necklaces and other ornaments.

“The gold belts or waist embellishments, which are also part of the collection, have not been found anywhere else in the world and represent the height of ancient Filipino gold industry,” the Museum said.

So rare are these embellishments that a gold sash from Surigao, which will be included in the Paris exhibition, is set to be insured for P54 million!

Other pieces in the BSP Gold and Pottery Collection show that Filipinos from a thousand years ago “sent” their dead in spirit boats to the afterworld, according to the Metropolitan Museum.

The ancient Filipino dead were extravagantly adorned with “masks,” which covered their eyes, noses, and mouths, made of gold sheets.

The Museum explained that gold was then considered a magical substance that may have been aimed to be kept inside the soul or to keep out evil spirits.

“The gold partially hides the features of the departed, impressing on the mind of grieving relatives an eternal, incorruptible visage, not of the flesh that will soon become earth,” it added.
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Villars open Sendong Memorial, pay tribute to victims, the living
Read 286 times | Posted on October 27, 2012 @ 5 years ago

Villars open Sendong Memorial, pay tribute to victims, the living
BY PAT SAMONTE

BULUA, CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Senator Manny Villar and Cynthia Villar, Chairman and Managing Director, respectively, of Villar Foundation, led the unveiling and dedication ceremonies on Thursday of Sendong Memorial, built to honor the memory of those who died and went missing when Tropical Storm Sendong ravaged this city on December 17 last year.

Cynthia Villar dedicated the memorial not only to those who perished but to the living as well, “Through the Sendong Memorial, may we be able to help you pay homage to the memory of your dearly departed loved ones. The memorial will stand as a lasting tribute, not to the death, but to the lives of those whom we have lost, to the people who helped Cagayan de Oro recover…”

The memorial occupies 716 square meters inside the Villar Foundation’s Golden Haven Memorial Park here. Made of travertine and black granite base, it features an ascending circular marker in the middle, accented by a water fountain. Its 13 pillars bear the names of the confirmed and identified casualties of Typhoon Sendong.

Sendong was one of the worst natural calamities that hit Mindanao and one of the deadliest cyclones to visit the Philippines in the last 12 years. Some 1,200 lives were lost and hundreds more were unaccounted for. It affected almost 150,000 people and damaged P1.3 billion worth of farm crops, infrastructure and property.

Mrs. Villar said the memorial stands “to remind us that we should take care of our environment to prevent disasters in the future. Typhoon Sendong, which many say was caused by climate change and deforestation, shows the pressing need for Filipinos to protect the environment.”

She praised the local government for its environmental efforts including the dredging of the Cagayan de Oro river, the overflowing of which contributed to the Sendong disaster.

In this context, she said the Villar Foundation is involved in various environment-related projects particularly its flagship Sagip Ilog program that has won numerous international awards including the United Nations’ Best Water Management award last year.

She added that “We will try to help the Sendong victims’ families through livelihood projects. We will also try to come up with measures to mitigate the effects of typhoons and other natural calamities.”

For his part, Sen. Manny Villar said, “It is proper and fitting to remember the victims of Typhoon Sendong. Through this simple effort, we offer this memorial to remember the people who perished. We also recall and praise the bravery and heroism of some of our countrymen.”

In Tagalog, he said humbly, “Pagpasensiyahan nyo po itong aming konting alay,” referring to the Sendong Memorial.
Sen. Villar announced his retirement from politics. He assured however, that “I will pursue my activities to help the poor full time. Poverty is one problem that we should try hard to solve.”

Several thousands gathered at the blessing and dedication of the memorial including local officials, survivors, families and relatives of victims, donors, members of religious groups and people from the academe.

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