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Duterte Wants Gov’t Workers Strictly Banned from Entering Casinos

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In line with his call to all government workers to avoid lavish lifestyles, President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the strict implementation of a law prohibiting public servants from entering gambling casinos.

During the launch of the Overseas Filipino Bank (OFBank) last Thursday, President Duterte said he made his directive to Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa.

“I just issued an order to Bato last night. Sabi ko, Bato, halika, maglagay ka sa casino prohibiting all workers of government from entering,” Duterte said.

“May PD niyan eh. There’s a law. At that time, it was a law. It’s still the law. It was never modified or repealed. Sabi pa ni Bato, ‘Lagay mo diyan ‘all government employees’,” he added.

When asked by Dela Rosa if he would include government officials, President Duterte said: “Lahat kami workers.”

“That’s why I’d like to remind everybody: We are all workers of government and we serve the people,” the President said.

Former President Ferdinand Marcos had issued Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1067-B granting the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation a franchise to establish, operate, and maintain gambling casinos.

Both PD 1067-B and its amended version PD 1869 prohibit government officials, members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and persons under 21 years of age or students from entering and playing in casinos.

In September 2016, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea issued Memorandum Circular No. 6 ordering all public officials and employees, including military and police, to strictly observe all laws banning them from entering, staying, or playing in the casinos.

Recently, Medialdea issued a separate memorandum providing guidelines to all government officials and personnel in the executive department applying for foreign travels.

The memorandum was made in line with Pres. Duterte’s campaign to cut down extravagant and lavish foreign trips.

Duterte, a popular graft buster during his 23 years of service as mayor of Davao City, is also known for his very simple and frugal lifestyle.

“That’s all my message. Very simple. Not so good to hear but at least, at least, at the very least, it comes from the heart,” the President said in closing his OFBank launching speech.

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Improved Infra, Eased Regulations to Boost Trade, Investments in ASEAN

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Member countries of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) need to improve physical infrastructures and streamline regulatory processes in an effort to facilitate trade and investments in the region, according to a report from state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

In a report titled “ASEAN connectivity: The hows and whys,” PIDS information officer Neille Gwen de la Cruz noted that connectivity is important to the region’s continued economic growth and an integral factor to realize the vision of an ASEAN Community by 2025.

ASEAN leaders have adopted the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, which has the goal of achieving a “seamlessly and comprehensively connected and integrated ASEAN that will promote competitiveness, inclusiveness, and a greater sense of Community” by the year 2025.

“Right now, ASEAN is recognized as one of the world’s largest economic zones. Making it easier to transport goods and services, reducing cumbersome processes, or simply opening more ways for people to move around the region would help facilitate the growth of ASEAN SMEs (small and medium enterprises),” said De la Cruz.

Citing an ASEAN Secretariat data, she said SMEs comprise 90 percent of companies in the region and contribute to as much as 60 percent of the region’s gross domestic product, making them the driving force of economic growth in the ASEAN.

“One of the main advantages of having an integrated region is having a seamless trade. Once the means to move from one country to another has been provided, there would be a freer flow of goods, services, and workers within and across the region, bolstering the perception that the region is an attractive market,” she added.

The PIDS report noted that an interconnected ASEAN is also envisioned to promote knowledge sharing and cultural exchange through improved physical infrastructure, streamlined regulatory processes and harmonized procedures and standards.

These are expected to create significant positive impacts on the region’s SMEs, as well as tourism and human resources, among others, it said.

“Promoting ASEAN connectivity will also boost tourism by capitalizing on the diverse history and culture of the region. Easing visa requirements across ASEAN would encourage greater mobility of people,” De la Cruz added.

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Challenges Facing Filipinos Overseas Tackled at Global Online Confab

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Senior officials of the government and private institutions will tackle different problems and challenges facing overseas Filipinos (OFs), including persistent illegal recruitment,  at a global conference for overseas Filipinos to be held here and shown live on YouTube on Feb. 24 and 25.

The “2018 Global Conference of Overseas Filipinos & Livelihood/Investments Exhibition” also aims to help OFs identify which profitable livelihood projects that they can put up back home to secure the financial security of their families.

Between January and November last year, USD28.24 billion (PHP1.41 trillion) were sent home by overseas Filipinos through banking channels, according to data of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Despite their huge earnings, many OFs have not put up sound investments, with scores still taking risks with illegal networking schemes.

“While overseas Filipinos are often hailed as modern heroes (bagong bayani) for sending home over USD20 billion a year, it is ironic that they are beset by numerous problems. This global conference aims to tackle these problems and help identify solutions to them with the assistance of government and private institutions,” said Alliance of Overseas Filipinos for Change (AOFC) President Juanito Concepcion.

Investments and livelihood are, therefore, a major focus of the conference organized by a Hong Kong-based NGO, AOFC, with LINKPAD Inc. in Manila as its secretariat and marketing arm.

 Further details about the event and sponsorships can be obtained from LINKPAD at (02) 734-6300, (02) 788-6521, and (02) 500-0040, 0908-6199582; 0917-5932000 or at globalonlinefilipinoconference@gmail.com.

Up to 10,000 overseas Filipinos  gathered in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and in different other countries in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America are expected to watch online this conference that will be shown live on YouTube and Facebook Live. (PR)

About 500 local participants — comprised of visiting OFs, OFs who have returned home for good, family members of OFs, officials of government agencies and private institutions relevant to OFs and other migration and development stakeholders — are also attending the conference.

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PH Top Officials Discuss Names on 5 Features in PH Rise

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Various government officials will meet to discuss possible Filipino names to give to the five underwater features in the Philippine Rise (formerly Benham Rise) named by China.

In a message Wednesday, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that this matter would be discussed by him, National Security Adviser (NSA) Hermogenes Esperon and other members of the Cabinet.

“Pag-uusapan pa namin ni NSA (Esperon) and ibang Cabinet members. (We will talk about it with NSA and other Cabinet members) As for me, I would also give these features Philippine names,” he added.

The DND chief made this statement after maritime law expert Dr. Jay Batongbacal revealed that China successfully named five undersea features in the region, all within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the country, as approved by the International Hydrographic Organization in 2017.

Three of the features were reportedly “discovered” during a survey by the Li Shiguang Hao of the China Navy Hydrographic Office in 2004 and the names were submitted to IHO for consideration in 2014.

The remaining two features were “discovered” by the same ship but proposals for names came in 2016. The features named are the Jinghao and Tianbao Seamounts said to be within 70 nautical miles east of Cagayan, and the Haidonquing Seamount located east at 190 nautical miles.

The other two named Cuiqiao Hill and Jujiu Seamount forms the central peaks of the Philippine Rise undersea geological province itself, said Batongbacal.

On Wednesday, Malacanang said the Philippine Embassy in Beijing already raised the subject with China.

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‘Basyang’-Affected Families Now at 37k

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The number of families affected by Tropical Depression Basyang has now climbed to 37,138 or 152,025 persons residing in 387 barangays in 15 provinces in western, central and eastern Visayas, and Caraga, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said in its Thursday update.

Ricardo Jalad, NDRRMC executive director, said 10,307 families or about 40,089 persons have sought refuge in 194 evacuation centers, while another 470 families or 2,282 individuals are being aided outside evacuation centers.

Jalad also said that 350 houses have been damaged, 66 totally and 284 partially, in western and eastern Visayas, and Caraga.

A total of PHP2,801,016.94 worth of assistance has been provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and local government units to affected families in Western Visayas and Caraga.

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