28 March 2017

Claims of martial law victims processed

The Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) has accelerated the process of evaluating and releasing of claims of martial law victims as part of its commitment to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to expedite the release of claims.

The HRVCB informed the Office of the President of their accomplishments and latest developments on the processing and release of claims since their meeting with the President. The HRVCB transmitted to the Office of Executive Secretary (OES) Salvador Medialdea Board Resolution No. 01-2017, approving the preliminary list of 4,000 eligible claimants and release of partial monetary reparation; Board Resolution No. 03-2017, publishing the list of eligible claimants; a memorandum of agreement between HRVCB and Landbank pertaining to the use of the bank’s Cash Card facility to pay legitimate claimants; and an acknowledgement receipt from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), pertaining to the letter of HRCVB requesting for the release of P300-million from the Bureau of Treasury intended for the partial payment of monetary reparation.

President Duterte earlier met with officers of the Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) and members of HRVCB in Malacañan to discuss matters pertaining to the release of monetary reparation to victims of human rights violations during martial law. The said meeting was also attended senior government officials which included ES Medialdea, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, and Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno,

SELDA sought the assistance of the President to expedite the release of the claims since the reparation law–the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 (Republic Act No. 10368)–had been passed four years ago and martial law victims have yet to receive recognition and compensation. The HRCVB has only until May 12, 2018 to complete the reparation process of about 75,000 claimants. To date, 4,000 claims have been approved out of the 30,027 claims already adjudicated, and 45,703 applications are still to be resolved.

In the said meeting, President Duterte through ES Medialdea discussed with the Claims Board the drafting of a resolution seeking to expedite the processing of claims, re-compute the claims amount based on actual received applications, release 50 percent of the monetary value, revise the processing timeline, and collaborate with concerned government agencies and other human rights groups to expedite the distribution and acceptance of decisions.

The HRVCB, in its resolutions, committed to distribute 50 percent of the total estimated reparation value due to the first 4,000 eligible claimants, consisting of 2,661 conclusively presumed victims and 1,339 new applicants.

The Claims Board, following the point system prescribed in the reparation law, came up with a total of 23,567 points to be awarded to the first batch of claimants, with one point equivalent to P25,000 rounded up. Thus, the total reparation value amounted to P589-million. Half of it will be released to the first batch of claimants by the second quarter of 2017 through Landbank’s Cash Cards facility, and the balance to be released after the final resolution of all claims and the publication of the final list.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Postal Corporation (PhilPost) offered a discount of 50 centavos per mail to the HRCVB in lieu of franking privilege. The HRCVB, however, requested for additional discount for the mailing of notices and resolutions. Prior to that, the Claims Board requested the Commission on Audit (COA) for a public bidding exemption on the publication of the list of legitimate claimants.

Also outlined in the documents submitted to OES are the activities required by law the HRCVB needs to perform before the actual delivery of payment, such as docketing of appeals from the claimants and oppositions from any interested party; resolution of appeals and oppositions; publication of the final list of eligible claimants; and submission of the list of the first 4,000 eligible claimants to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and Department of Health (DOH) for the delivery of non-monetary reparation benefits. ###PCO-Content

Data Protection Summit to tackle security concerns
The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has announced plans for the first Data Protection Officers Summit to take up the looming concerns about data security.

In a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday, March 28, NPC Commissioner Raymund Enriquez Liboro assured that reforms have already been undertaken to secure official data on individuals following the data breaches at the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

“Nais ko lamang sabihin na isang taon matapos po ang ‘Comeleak’ tayo po, sa tulong po ng mga sangay ng pamahalaan, lalung-lalo na po ang Office of the President through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea ay maglulunsad po ng kauna-unahang Data Protection Officers Summit,” Liboro said.

The Summit, Liboro said, will explore avenues and new approaches for the government to further beef up its defense against violation of data privacy rights, data breaches, and on how to further secure important information of the general public. It will be participated in by data protection officers in executive agencies.

“Ito po’y kabibilangan ng lahat ng mga data protection officers ng ehekutibo at tayo po ay magsasama-sama sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon,” the NPC head said.

Liboro explained that in implementing the Data Privacy Act of 2012, the agency has come up with five guidelines for government agencies concerned.

“Naglabas po kami ng tinatawag naming limang utos ‘no. Ang una nga po diyan ay mag-appoint ng accountable officer within your organization, we call them the data protection officer (DPO),” Liboro said.

“So ang unang utos po namin ay magkaroon ng mga accountable officer na mananagot doon po sa loob ng mga opisina at magiging champion ng privacy rights of their customers or stakeholders,” he said.

Agencies were likewise directed to conduct a privacy impact assessment to check vulnerabilities within their organizations.

The agencies were also told to come up with a privacy manual to put on paper how the general public can be assured that their private information are protected.

Agencies were also directed to strictly enforce security measures against data breaches.

In the same briefing, meanwhile, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella announced that 4.3 million 4Ps beneficiaries will start receiving P600 in rice subsidy from the Department of Welfare and Social Development (DSWD) this month.

“The additional rice subsidy allocated for the month of March has already totaled to P2.5 billion,” Abella explained.

The Palace official also announced that as part of the administration’s commitment to alleviate poverty, indigent patients can now avail of free medicines.

“The DSWD has already distributed free medicines amounting to P8.2M to 984 indigent Filipinos from Regions 3, 6, 7, 11 and the NCR region,” Abella said.

The Presidential spokesperson meanwhile lauded the results of a Social Weather Stations (SWS) Survey showing an overwhelming portion of a happy Filipino populace.

“SWS survey on happiness level is at 91 percent. It’s a group of happy Filipinos,” he said. “Nine out of 10 Filipinos considered themselves happy with their life, according to a December 2016 Social Weather Stations (SWS) Survey. This is the highest score in 20 years.”

“Around this time, the economy of the Philippines is on the upswing at 6.6 percent during the last quarter. People likewise feel safer and more secure with more than eight out of 10 Filipinos attributing this to the President’s anti-drug war,” Abella said.

He also said that among the topics taken up during the meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua include the handling of the South China Sea issue; defense cooperation; capacity building; infrastructure projects, and anti-poverty and anti-illegal drugs campaign. Abella also said that the Chinese envoy conveyed that China looks forward to the first meeting of the bilateral mechanism set up to properly handle the SCS issue this May.

“They intend to build a bilateral mechanism, mutual trust and maritime cooperation. His Excellency also expressed China’s determination to work with ASEAN members in finalizing the Code of Conduct framework on the South China Sea, sometime in the middle of this year,” he added.###PND

PH, Hungary strengthen ties with MOUs on Cooperation, Arts and Culture

DAVAO CITY—The Philippines and Hungary on Monday, March 27, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperation that is expected to further enhance bilateral ties between the two countries.

The MOU is between the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) – Foreign Service Institute (FSI) and the Institute of Foreign Affairs and Trade (IFAT) of Hungary.

It was signed by Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo and Hungarian Foreign and Trade Minister Peter Szijjártó. The MOU signing was held at the Waterfront Insular Hotel, Davao City.

The MOU serves as a framework for cooperation between two institutions in a move to further strengthen bilateral relations.

Among the cooperative activities outlined in the agreement include exchange of experts and researchers, conduct of joint research programs, invitations to symposia, meetings, and conferences, as well as other modes of cooperation.

Likewise, Virgilio Almario, National Artist and chair of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and Hungarian Ambassador to the Philippines Ambassador József Bencze, signed the Cultural Cooperation Programme for 2017 to 2018.

This was to fully implement the Agreement on Cultural Cooperation between Philippines and Hungary dated July 15, 1976.

The cultural cooperation programme calls for exchanges between art/cultural professionals and organizations in both countries in the areas of creative and performing arts (i.e. literature, fine arts, music, dance, theater, cinema, publishing) museology, and archives, among other fields.

Szijjarto re-opened today the Hungarian Embassy in Manila.

The Philippines and Hungary officially established diplomatic relations on September 28, 1973.###PND