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Tobacco Products Banned in Qatar

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The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) reminded overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) bound for Qatar to refrain from bringing tobacco products there.

This after the host country has banned all tobacco derivatives, equipment, and other materials in relation to tobacco usage.

“OFWs are advised to be wary of these prohibitions and should never attempt to carry any of these banned products when travelling to Qatar,” the POEA said in a statement Thursday.

Included in the list of banned tobacco products are chewing tobacco in any form; electronic cigarette, electronic shisha, and any product similar to it or made in any form of tobacco; swaika (substance made from tobacco products and that can be taken by absorption, chewing or inhalation); cigarette machines; and advertising, promotion, or sponsorship materials that seek to introduce any tobacco product.

The POEA said that violators can face imprisonment and fines.

“(Those) entering the State of Qatar will be subject to legal liability if found in possession of banned tobacco derivatives, equipment, and other materials in relation to tobacco usage,” it added.

Qatar’s Law No. 10 of 2016 on the Control of Tobacco and its Derivatives provides strict measures to curb the import and use of tobacco products.

It added that those found violating the relevant articles might face imprisonment not exceeding six months and fines not exceeding 100,000 Qatari riyal (Php1,385,000).

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Duterte Opens Bank Dedicated to the Needs of Overseas Filipinos

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Image Source: from pia.gov.ph by Presidential Photos

President Rodrigo Duterte launched on Thursday the Overseas Filipino Bank, a fruition of his campaign promise to establish the first-ever bank dedicated to the needs of overseas-based Filipinos.

In his speech during the launching of the Overseas Filipino Bank at the former Philippine Postal Savings Bank (PostBank) head office in Liwasang Bonifacio, Manila, the President said he was happy that he was able to fulfill one of his campaign promises.

In September last year, the President issued Executive Order No. 44 ordering the Philippine Postal Corporation and the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) to transfer their PostBank shares to LandBank at zero value.

The EO further stated that the former Postal Bank will be converted into the “Overseas Filipino Bank,” which will be a “policy bank dedicated to provide financial products and services tailored to the requirement of overseas Filipinos” and will focus on delivering “quality and efficient foreign remittance services.

“The Overseas Filipino Bank (OFB) is envisioned to provide a wide array of financial services to overseas Filipinos, especially the country’s migrant workers, so that they would no longer be vulnerable to expensive remittance services and investment scams,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said.

“The OFB is another step towards reshaping our economic progress to make it more inclusive. It will help fulfill our goal of shifting to an investment-driven economy. More important, our overseas workers would be able to invest in their country which they have helped transform into one of the fastest-growing economies in the region,” Dominguez said.

He clarified that the Bank was initially conceptualized as a financial institution for OFWs, but its coverage was expanded to include all Filipinos based overseas to make it more inclusive.

“There is no other institution like this one,” said Dominguez.

As a subsidiary of the Land Bank of the Philippines, Dominguez said the OFB can be assured of “exemplary financial expertise and sufficient capital to ensure its success.

He said the DOF and LandBank are also planning to secure licenses in other countries with large concentrations of overseas Filipinos so the LandBank can provide financial advisory services to the Filipino communities in these areas. (PIA-NCR/EPC/SDL)

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Be Wary of Phishing, Spoofing – BSP

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The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reminded the public anew to be cautious of phishing and spoofing scams.

BSP advises the public to watch out for these scams and be cautious of emails that ask for details like personal information such as username, password, account number, card number, CVV code, PIN, birthday. According to BSP, banks would not request these details thru email.

The public is also advised to watch for emails with generic greeting, misspelling or bad grammar, unexpected or not typically received. Also, a link to another website which is possibly a fake website, and emails that does not give you full contact details of the sender.

Phishing is an act wherein fraudsters get your personal information thru legitimate-looking email and use it to illegally access your account. Meanwhile, spoofing is an act wherein fraudsters fool you to click a link to a website that looks legitimate to get your account details.

BSP reminded the public to immediately verify or report to your bank if you receive this kind of email and to copy furnish and / or report to BSP or call at (02) 708-7087. (bsp/epc/jeg/pia-ncr)

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Globe Telecom Looks at Global Best Practices in Fight vs. Illegal Sites, Child Pornography

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Globe Telecom looks at global best practices in Singapore and other countries in its fight against illegal sites and child pornography in order to protect the rights of young Filipino boys and girls who are most susceptible to exploitation and abuse.

The island-state currently regulates the presence of objectionable content and conduct online through its Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as enabled by the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act and carried out by Singapore’s Media Development Authority. A list of 100 websites are banned including a site that allegedly recruited underage boys for sex and nude photography.

In the Philippines, the Anti-child Pornography Act of 2009, Intellectual Property Code, and the Anti-Camcording Law were previously placed to combat child pornography and other illegal sites. In 2014, the Cyber Crime Law took effect that made any crime under the Revised Penal Code, which is a list of general punishable acts, be considered a cybercrime if done using a computer or the internet. Thus, prior laws pertaining to intellectual rights and piracy are given more support for enforcement.

With enabling laws, regulatory agencies such as the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), Intellectual Property Office (IPO), and the Optical Media Board (OMB) among others can learn from the practice of other countries if the Philippines is really serious at combating piracy and child pornography.

Yoly Crisanto, Globe SVP for Corporate Communications, said: “This advocacy is important especially as we contribute greatly to the development of a digital nation. We want to provide our customers with safe and quality content and ensure that our products and services are not used for illegal activities. At the same time, we want to protect intellectual property rights including our own original content and the licensed content of our global and local partners so that we can give the people who create content what’s rightfully due them.”

In 2017, Globe invested 2.7 million dollars to improve its Domain Name System (DNS) with several blocking capabilities that enabled the company to block close to 2,500 domains or sites found to have lewd and child pornography-related content and will continue to actively look out for such illegal sites.

Although the Philippines has Republic Act 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 to protect every child from all forms of exploitation and abuse, sadly the country continue to top the list of global sources of child pornography based on the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) The State of The World’s Children 2017 report entitled “Children in a Digital World. The situation, however, is expected to improve with the signing into law of the child online protection provision in RA 10929 or the Free Internet in Public Places Act.

The Unicef report noted that the pervasiveness of the Internet, mobile apps and online payment methods further aided in the proliferation of child pornography and sex trafficking.

It was collaborated by another report from the International Justice Mission, a human rights group handling cases of online exploitation of children in the Philippines which noted that 8 out of 10 victims that they have rescued are 12 years old and below, some even as young babies.

Under Philippine law, “child pornography” refers to ”any representation, whether visual, audio, or written combination thereof, by electronic, mechanical, digital, optical, magnetic or any other means, of child engaged or involved in real or simulated explicit sexual activities”.

The fight against child pornography and illegal sites is part of Globe Telecom’s #PlayItRight advocacy campaign to ensure that its products and services are not used in illegal activities and to protect the copyrighted content of its global partners.

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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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