18 January 2017

Outgoing Egypt envoy pays farewell call on President Duterte

Ambassador of Egypt to the Philippines Mahmoud Mostafa Ahmed Mohamed bade goodbye to the Philipines in a farewell call to President Rodrigo Duterte on January 17, Tuesday at the Study Room in Malacañan Palace.

Ambassador Mohamed, born February 8, 1957, had been assigned to various foreign missions, which included Konacky, Prague, Damascus, Abu Dhabi, and Benghazi, prior to taking the post in Manila.

Also present to witness the event was Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Hjayceelyn Quintana of the Office of Middle East and African Affairs.

After the farewell call, President Duterte proceeded to Malacañan’s Music Room for a private meeting with Davao-based broadcaster Mario Maximo Solis. 

After the meeting, the Chief Executive attended the presentation on National Broadcom by Converge ICT Solutions Inc., which took place at the Palace’s Orchid Room.

Next on the President’s agenda was a meeting with the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa mga Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA).

Then President Duterte met with Liu Zhenmin, vice foreign minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, in a courtesy call.###PND

DA assures minor damage to agri crops in Northern Mindanao flashfloods
Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol assured that the flashfloods in Northern Mindanao has not made a huge damage to agriculture.

In a press briefing in Malacañan on Wednesday, January 18, Piñol said the flooding in Northern Mindanao did not widely affect the country’s rice and corn production.

“As indicated by the report coming from Region X, hindi naman ganoon kalawak ‘yung tinamaan na area,” Piñol said.

“While of course, we’re sad that this happened, it will not really make a huge dent on the agricultural production on the region considering that is less than a thousand hectares. We can easily recover kasi ready ‘yung interventions,” he added.

Piñol said that in Bukidnon, 147 hectares of corn were affected in four barangays in Malaybalay City; in Impasugong, Bukidnon 2.5 hectares of corn; in Misamis Occidental, in Tudela, 112 hectares of rice areas ready for harvesting were damaged; in Plaridel, Misamis Occidental, 630 hectares of rice newly transplanted and vegetables two hectares were also damaged; and in Oroquieta City, 128 hectares of rice in the tillering stage were also damaged. Misamis Oriental and Lanao del Norte have yet to report the damage.

“The region is ready with interventions. We have 6,200 bags of rice seeds available and also vegetable seeds and corn seeds,” he said.

The Agriculture chief however said that while the damage to agriculture in Northern Mindanao was not extensive, he has created a technical working group to assess the situation and come up with a plan.

“‘Pag flash floods ang tumatama sa isang lugar, there’s only one reason for that: wala ng kahoy na humahawak sa bundok at ‘yon ang dahilan kung bakit mabilis ‘yung pagbaba ng tubig,” Pinol explained.

“Ito ‘yung indication actually na nagkaroon tayo ng problema sa environment in that area,” he added.

Piñol said they are looking at deforestation and the unabated cutting down of trees in the mountains of Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, and Misamis Oriental as the possible cause of the flash floods.

“We are taking a look at the situation not only in the context of providing immediate intervention but also long-term solution,” he said.

The Agriculture chief meanwhile said the DA is planning to provide interventions for the rice farmers and the 4Ps beneficiaries.

“I am of the view that if this program is properly implemented, meaning, if instead of giving them coupons or cash, DSWD would decide to buy rice directly from the farmers in the communities where the 4Ps beneficiaries are located,” Pinol said.

“Not only would we be serving the purpose of giving rice ration to the poorest of the poor in this country, the rice farmers will also benefit from this because then they will have a ready market for their produce, which is our problem right now actually,” he said.

“Our farmers actually are organized and all that we need to do is just identify ‘yung facilities kung saan namin imi-mill and then we can extend the needed interventions,” he added.

In the same press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella announced that the country’s economic landscape continues to show great improvement as necessary policies are being established.

“There are more banks that have expressed interest to come to the Philippines,” Abella said, adding that there are improvements in the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs as part of the tax reform measures.

Abella likewise cited the latest positive forecast of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the country’s growing economy.

“According to International Monetary Fund resident representative Shanaka Jayanath Peiris, the Philippines is expected to maintain its strong GDP (gross domestic product) growth momentum registered in 2016 into 2017 at a pace of 6.8 percent,” Abella said.

Meanwhile, Abella said President Duterte had a meeting with a group of Taipans Tuesday night.

The meeting, facilitated by Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion, touched on many topics such as federalism, contractualization, job creation, tax reform, among others.

“In the words of PA Joey Concepcion, everybody walked out extremely, extremely happy,” Abella concluded.###PND

Duterte promises to rid PhilHealth of corruption
CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija — President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to reform the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to provide better healthcare for Filipinos.

In a speech during the 20th anniversary celebration of Premiere Medical Center (PMC) here on Wednesday, January 18, the President said PhilHealth is plagued by problems particularly corruption that needs to be fixed with urgency.

“Pero napag-usapan na lang naman ho natin itong profession ninyo, malaki ho ’yung problema ko sa gobyerno and this is not the first time that I have heard again complaints sa PhilHealth,” the President said before a crowd of doctors and health officials.

He said he plans to summon medical associations, PhilHealth and Department of Health (DOH) officials to a meeting in Malacañan to craft policies aimed at reforming the health insurance agency.

“There has to be a corrective measure put in place now,” he said.

Corruption must be eliminated, he said, asking the public to support government’s anti-corruption drive. The people must also be assertive to fight abuses and misdeeds, he added.

At the same time, the President warned corrupt government officials and personnel to mend their ways.

“Kayong lahat nasa gobyerno, if you are dealing with the transacting public, the taxpayers, I have this to say: Now is not the time to do it,” he said.

“Sabi ko sa kanila, you have had your heydays, your fun and glory but this time, at my time, paki lang po kasi…It’s only six years, a little bit of sacrifice,” he added.

As proof of his anti-corruption drive, he said he fired two of his fraternity brothers involved in anomaly. Ninety two personnel at the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) were also sacked, he said, adding he will not stop in eliminating corrupt personnel.

President Duterte also renewed his strong anti-illegal drugs stance, adding that after meeting the mayors at the Palace last week, he will meet the governors this week to also discuss the perils of illegal drugs. He promised to eliminate illegal drugs in the country during his term.

The President also talked about Mindanao rebellion and warned them against the threat of the Islamic State (ISIS) that has already affected the Middle East.

Aside from meeting officials of PMC here, the President also came face to face with cancer patients in the hospital’s villa for patients and relatives.

Among those who welcomed the President were Atty. Danilo Yang, PMC chairman of the board; Dr. Sylvia Yang, PMC medical director; and Dr. Reynaldo Yang, PMC president.###PND