06 November 2015


Government not hiding homeless during major events, says Palace
The government on Friday denied that it intends to hide homeless people in Metro Manila during the country’s hosting of the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, saying its pro-poor programs have been ongoing for some time.A Manila bishop has criticized the government’s plan to hide the homeless during the APEC meetings by giving them money to rent temporary shelters.

In a press briefing in Malacañang, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said there is no government plan to hide the poor and the homeless during the APEC summit.

“Naipaliwanag po natin na ‘yung modified CCT (Conditional Cash Transfer) ay isang programang matagal na, ‘yung ginagawa ng DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development), at ‘yung pagtulong po nila ay hindi po limited sa tuwing mayroong malaking event,” Valte explained.

“Nakikita po natin itong pagkakataon na simulan ang pagtulong sa kanila para makapag-transition naman po sila from the streets into dignified living quarters.”

Asked why the DSWD’s pro-poor activities occur at the same time as international events, Valte said those activities just coincide with major events happening in the country.

For instance, the government did a similar activity when Pope Francis arrived in Manila last January, Valte said, noting that the DSWD has been doing this for the past few years.

“Ilang taon na pong nangyayari ito at hindi po naitataon,” she said. “Baka naitataon lang pong nai-re-report kapag mayroong malaking event, pero ang katotohanan po diyan ay ilang taon na pong ginagawa ng DSWD ang programang ito.”

The Philippines will host the APEC Leaders’ Summit on November 17 to 20. PND (as)

Palace hopes ‘bullet planting’ in airport would not affect country’s tourism industry
The Palace on Friday expressed hope that the bullet-planting issue at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) would not affect the country’s gains, especially in the tourism sector, which the government has been promoting aggressively in the past few years.Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said she hopes that the issue, which has already drawn media attention in the US, Japan and other countries, would not affect the country in the long term.

“Nakikita ko rin po ‘yung mga lumalabas (na reports) and unfortunately, these are unintended consequences of the attention that this has generated and we are hoping that the effects will not be lasting,” she told reporters during the daily media briefing in Malacañang.

“Sana po hindi ma-undo ‘yung naging trabaho at pagsisikap natin sa mga nakaraang taon.”

Asked about the conclusion made by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) regarding the incidents at the NAIA even though investigations are still ongoing, Valte said what is important is that the government has already begun carrying out measures to prevent the scheme, based on the President’s instructions.

She said the government has already implemented new screening and security protocols to prevent people from being victimized, if there are really syndicates operating in NAIA.

“And we also know that the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) is already on deck to conduct their own investigations, kasi nga ang bilin ng Pangulo, you have to watch the watchers,” Valte said.

With the implementation of these measures, she said, this bullet planting and other schemes could be minimized and no one would be unfairly accused of an offense he or she did not commit.

Part of the measures is the installation of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in screening areas, as well as the imposition of a hands-off policy among airport screeners to prevent them from touching passengers’ belongings.

Valte however noted that should there be legitimate cases of bullets being found on the luggage of passengers, they will be handled by the Philippine National Police’s Aviation Security Group. PND (as)

Government asks public for more patience as it determines true count of ‘Yolanda’ casualties
The Palace on Friday asked the public for patience as authorities continue to determine the actual number of casualties during Typhoon Yolanda, saying that such inquiry is a tedious process.As the country marks this month the second year since the super typhoon battered Eastern Visayas, leaving thousands of people dead, missing or injured, issues have been raised regarding the casualty figure that until now has not been made final.

During a press briefing in Malacañang, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte noted that just like the Filipino public, President Benigno S. Aquino III is also interested in knowing the true number of those who died in the disaster.

While the government is eager to know the real casualty figure, there are processes that must be followed, Valte said.

Based on the last report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), there is a sub-cluster under the ‘Yolanda’ response called the management of the dead and the missing.

She pointed out that whenever there is a report of casualty, it must be validated by the NDRRMC and the Department of Health.

“Hindi po sapat na sinasabi nating mayroon po kaming nakitang katawan dahil po doon sa laki ‘nung nangyari, and in any calamity, we have to make sure na na-i-identify ang body, at nagkakaroon po tayo ng DNA testing para sa ganyan,” Valte explained.

Once the identity of a dead person is validated by the NDRRMC, it could be added to the casualty count, she said, noting that hindi “po kasi pwedeng magpabara-bara ang pamahalaan at sinabing magbibilang lang—kumbaga, ‘yung parang eyeball lang; hindi po kasi ganoon ‘yung kailangan nating proseso,” she said.

Typhoon Yolanda left more than a thousand people missing and they cannot be added to the list of casualties due to the necessary legal processes, the Palace official said.

Valte said that under the law, if a person disappears, he or she can only be declared legally dead after seven years for purposes of inheritance.

“Sa aking pagkakaalam, mayroong shorter period if someone went missing in the event of a calamity, so mas maikli lang ‘yung period,” she said.

The NDRRMC, in January last year, put Typhoon Yolanda’s death toll at 6,190.

In its situational report, the NDRRMC said the number of injured persons remained at 28, 626 and those still missing at 1,785.

The NDRRMC also reported that more than 3.4 pmillion families, or more than 16 million people, in 44 provinces, 591 municipalities and 57 cities in different regions were affected by the powerful typhoon. PND (as)

10 ways to address food trade issues in the APEC region
Private sector food industry representatives of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies have made several recommendations in an effort to address food security challenges in the region.These recommendations were drafted during the 2nd Asia Pacific Food Industry Forum (AP‐FIF) Meeting held last September and presented during the APEC Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS) Meeting hosted by Iloilo City last month.

During the September meeting, 18 participants from industry research and private sector trade organizations in the APEC discussed current issues in food trade — food standards and food safety, the continuing rise of non‐tariff barriers, barriers to the advancement and increased availability of new technologies, such as genetic modification, and the food-related dynamics of new trade agreements.

The outcomes and recommendations of the AP‐FIF Meeting, which were presented by APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) PPFS Co‐Chair Tony Nowell of New Zealand during the APEC Policy Partnership on Food Security Meeting, are:

1.) The food industry has to present more compellingly to governments and consumers the benefits of open trade, including ensuring a secure supply of safe and adequate nutrition for all APEC economies.

2.) Keep ambitions high in the negotiation of trade agreements, including on market access for food products.

3.) The private sector, in partnership with governments, has to find market‐based solutions to the challenges of feeding growing populations with adequate supplies of safe, nutritious and sustainably‐produced food.

4.) The growth of food supply and value chains comes along with emerging choke points in many critical areas. These choke points must be addressed by policymakers, with input from the private sector.

5.) The APEC Action Plan on Food Security should be reviewed and refined to identify the priority areas of specific partnership between the public and private sectors, and the concrete actions needed to make progress in those areas. There is also the need for identification and agreement on those parts of the action plan that are the clear responsibility of either governments or the private sector to execute.

6.) Governments should bring renewed focus and thought leadership to food security issues, both in the APEC setting and in negotiating new trade agreements that will set the parameters for trade in food for decades to come.

7.) New and innovative technologies, including genetic modification and synthetic biology, should be allowed more freedom to develop, with clear boundaries between restrictions based on proven scientific evidence versus restrictions based on philosophical concerns.

8.) Non‐tariff barriers must be addressed in concrete and practical ways.

9.) Also emphasized was the need for science‐based food safety measure and the good sense in supporting the laudable and increasingly effective efforts of the APEC Food Safety Cooperation Forum.

10.) The AP-FIF also highlighted the need to recognize the potential of new and innovative technologies, including increased access to genetic modification in the food sector. (PCOO-APEC Communications Group)

Things to know about APEC initiatives on start-ups
Technology and innovation – the latest buzzwords in 21st century trade – are increasing competition in the market, be it local, regional, or international markets.

Start-ups, particularly digital start-ups, have emerged by exploring new technologies and exploiting old technologies in new ways. Their innovative business models have created new markets where their products or services can be offered.

Think of Uber, which directly links riders and commuters through an online application, changing the way of commuting in cities; or Airbnb, an online platform that allows home or property owners to rent out their space to travellers, enabling the latter to experience the culture of a particular place and offering them more options; or the Philippines’ own Kalibrr, which has transformed how jobseekers find jobs and how companies hire talents by directly connecting candidates and firms, doing away with recruitment agencies. These are all digital start-ups that affect the market through technology and innovation.

The 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) have recognized the potential of digital start-ups in achieving sustainable economic growth in the region.

Here are the APEC initiatives to harness the potentials of start-ups:

1. Slingshot MNL

The APEC and the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry have partnered to hold the first Slingshot MNL in July, in an effort to boost start-ups in the region.

Slingshot MNL gathered leading figures in the international start-up community, including Start-up Chile founder Nicolas Shea, Hugh Mason from leading Asian investment firm JFDI Asia, and Professor Richard Dasher from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

A key take-away during the conference is the need to strengthen collaboration among the government, the business sector, and the academe to boost start-up communities to address such challenges as policy reforms for start-ups, improving access to finance, and continuous development of skills and talents.

2. APEC Accelerator Network (AAN)

An initiative of Chinese Taipei, the AAN pushes more micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to utilize new technology and innovation and benefit from the opportunities of digital economy. This could be achieved by giving start-ups access to accelerator programs and resources.

Like business incubators, which help start-ups survive in the vulnerable early stages of development, accelerators focus on start-ups with the potential to grow both in the domestic and global markets.

Currently, the AAN has 50 accelerator partners from 15 APEC member economies.

3. AAN Summit and Global Challenge

The annual AAN Summit and Global Challenge is a platform for start-ups to pitch their businesses to multinational companies in the region.

Since its launch in 2013, the AAN Summit and Global Challenge attracted more than 800 participants, among them 60 start-up teams from APEC member economies, as well as representatives of high-profile international venture capitalists, angel investors, and corporate executives.

After participating in the Challenge, a number of start-ups successfully gained access to funding and launched their businesses in the global market.

4. Diversified financing

During the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Finance Forum in Iloilo City in September, APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Chair Doris Magsaysay-Ho urged member economies to provide diversified financial instruments for the changing needs of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which include start-ups, in the region.

“We need financing instruments that will provide financing for start-ups as well as financial innovation that responds to the changing business models,” Ho said.

With this year’s APEC theme of “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World”, start-ups — as part of MSMEs – have begun gaining support from member economies.

Like any MSME, start-ups are urged to tap and participate in the global market. PNA (kc)