11 March 2015

Malaysian Defense Minister calls on President Aquino
Malaysian Defense Minister Dato Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein made a courtesy call on President Benigno S. Aquino III in Malacañang Palace on Wednesday.

Minister Hishammuddin was accompanied by Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines Dato’ Mohd Zamri bin Mohd Kassim, Deputy Secretary General for Policy Suriani binti Ahmad, Director General for Intelligence Lt. Gen. Datuk Abdul Hadi bin Hj Hussin, and Malaysian Army Field Commander Lt. Gen. Dato’ Sri Zulkiple bin Hj Kassim.

Present on the Philippines’ side were Department of National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, National Security Council Secretary Cesar Garcia, Jr., Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Lacanlale Linglingay, and Department of National Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino.

Minister Hishammuddin arrived on Tuesday on board Malaysian Airlines 802. He was welcomed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport by Ambassador Mohd Zamri and Defense Attaché to the Philippines Col. Hamzah Ali.

After his courtesy call on President Aquino, the Malaysian defense minister is scheduled to fly to Cotabato to meet with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels, as well as the Malaysian contingent of the International Monitoring Team.

The Malaysian defense minister and his delegation, which also included Special Officer to the Minister Faris Hussein Dato’ Seri Hishammudin, Military Advisor Col. Arman Rumaizi bin Hj Ahmad, Policy and Strategic Planning Division Director Sahipulhijaiman bin Sulaiman, Private Secretary to the Minister Idamoerni Zakaria, Special Officer Nur Diyanah binti Abdul Rahiman, Special Officer to the Minister Yaqin bin Mohamad Khan, Political Secretary Onn Hafiz bin Datuk Ghazi, Personal Security Officer to the Minister SM Azhari bin Md Supian and Minister of Defense staff Cpl. Abdul Nazir bin Assan, will return to Malaysia at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. PND (jm)

Government determined to reduce poverty through various programs
The Palace on Wednesday reiterated the government’s determination to reduce poverty through various programs.Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the government “continues and will continue to fight poverty and evidence of that is our poverty alleviation intervention programs.”

“Every economist knows that the fight against poverty is a sustained fight that requires sustained intervention and it takes decades,” Secretary Lacierda said, commenting on the latest IBON Foundation survey showing that a majority of Filipinos see themselves as poor.

The IBON survey, conducted from January 19 to 30 among 1,501 respondents across various sectors in 16 regions, also revealed that many Filipinos had difficulty in meeting their basic expenses in the past three months.

According to the survey posted on the IBON website, 7 out of 10 Filipinos rated themselves as poor. Asked what they can say about their situation today, 65 percent of the respondents said they consider their families as poor, while 30 percent said otherwise.

Majority of the respondents also believe that their livelihood has not improved compared to a year ago, with 59 percent saying their livelihood remains the same and 21 percent answering that their livelihood became worse.

Asked how their family met household expenses in the past three months, 59 percent said they had difficulty in paying for electricity while only 29 percent said they did not have any difficulty.

Of the 1,501 respondents, 53.6 percent said they had difficulty in buying enough food. As for buying medicines or paying for medical treatment, 50.8 percent said they had difficulty.

Many Filipinos also said they had difficulty paying for their children’s schooling (38.6 percent), for transportation (41 percent), and for water (38.9 percent).

The IBON Foundation, an independent development institution established in 1978, provides research, education, publications, information work, and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues.

The government’s primary program in assisting the poor is the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, also known as the Conditional Cash Transfer program under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). With a budget of P62.3 billion, the program provides conditional cash grants to extremely poor households to help reduce poverty for 4.3 million families.
The DSWD implements other programs to address social protection.

One is the KALAHI-CIDSS National Community-Driven Development Project, which seeks to empower communities in accessing services and participating in local planning, budgeting and implementation. This program aims to support 6,735 community projects that cater to 1.5 million poor households.

Another is the Sustainable Livelihood Program, which covers families who graduate from the CCT program. This program aims to support 265,175 family beneficiaries with micro-enterprise developments and 113,647 households under the employment facilitation through capacity development.

Social pensions for indigent senior citizens allocate a monthly social pension of P500 to 939,609 indigent senior citizens, aged 65 years and above.

The Supplemental Feeding Program, which is part of the government’s Early Childhood Care and Development program, is a food supplementation program that will give hot meals to children during snack/mealtime five days a week for 120 days.

The government has also implemented the National Household Targeting System, an information management system that identifies who and where the poor are, besides ranking and classifying them. Updated every four years, it has already identified 5.2 million poor households entitled to social protection as of 2011. PND (jm)