Landbank vows to submit plans for farmers after Duterte threat

Marje Pelayo   •   July 24, 2019   •   2264

MANILA, Philippines — The Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) has promised to submit its plans and programs for the agriculture sector following a threat from President Rodrigo Duterte that he would have it abolished for failure to serve its purpose.

Landbank is the main depository and servicing bank of the government with a special focus on serving the needs of farmers and fishermen in the countryside.

During his fourth state of the nation address (SONA) on Monday (July 22), the President lambasted the Landbank for being “mired in so many commercial transactions” while doing little to help out farmers and coconut growers.

The President said, “You know, you are called Landbank but you are now the number one commercial bank in the Philippines. What the heck is happening to you? You are supposed to finance agricultural enterprises and endeavors. Bakit wala (Why none)?”

“Go to the countryside and ask the people if there are cooperatives, tulungan ninyo to form one,” he added.

The President has given the Landbank until end of July to submit a viable plan for agricultural institutions and the local farmers otherwise he will ask Congress to act.

“I’m asking now Congress, if there is no viable plan for that for the farmers and it is just all commercial transactions, might as well abolish it (Landbank),” he warned.

In response, Landbank in a statement on Tuesday (July 23) vowed to comply with the President’s instructions and promised to further enhance its service channels to reach its primary clients – “the small farmers and fishers, and the agricultural sector at large.”

“We shall also be strengthening partnerships with cooperatives farmer groups and associations as well as collaboration with other key agencies and government units,” the Landbank said in the statement.

“As a matter of fact, together with the office of the provincial governor of Cotabato, we have a scheduled roadshow with initially 400 farmers, including those who never had financial access. This will just be the first of many,” it added.

Duterte urges Congress to expedite creation of agency concerning OFWs

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 28, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte urged Congress to expedite the creation of a new agency that will cater to the welfare of the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

“So I proposed in the coming months, and I hope to come up with a Department of Overseas Workers,” he said.

Duterte said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has so much burden to focus on OFWs.

The President also said the new agency will address the persistent woes encountered by OFWs. There is also a proposal to create another agency for seafarers.

“So iyan ang ano ko sa mga kababayan ko na naghihirap sa labas, (So that is what I can provide for our fellowmen abroad) that there will be a more thorough review in policies for your protection and that somebody should look after you,” he said.

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go in 2019 filed Senate Bill 202, or the Department of Overseas Filipinos Act of 2019 in support of President Duterte’s advocacy. AAC

Duterte to announce quarantine classifications for November tonight

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 26, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte will announce the new quarantine classifications for November on Monday (October 26) evening, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

“We will proceed with our meeting with him via Zoom at inaasahan pa rin pong magre-report ang ilang miyembro ng Gabinete lalong lalo na dito sa quarantine classifications (and we expect several Cabinet members will also present their report especially for the quarantine classifications),” he said during a press briefing.

Roque also confirmed the technical working group of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) already has a recommendation regarding the quarantine classifications.

The Palace official also confirmed that the President already assigned a vaccine czar two months ago. This was after the proposal of Senate President Pro Tempore Ralp Recto in order to prepare for the needed storage facility and the system for vaccine distribution.

“Two months ago, I recalled si Presidente may tinalagang vaccine czar kaya lang po, iyong naitalagang vaccine czar is hesitant when I asked him if I could remind the public that he has been designated as a vaccine czar kasi baka hindi na raw po maalala ni President. So we would like to wait for the Pesident to make an announcement anew (I recalled, two months ago, the President already assigned a vaccine czar. However, the assigned vaccine czar was hesitant when I asked him if I could remind the public that he has been designated. He said the President may have forgotten already so we would like to wait for the President to make the announcement anew),” Roque said. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Russia eyes establishing a pharma facility in PH for COVID-19, Duterte says

Marje Pelayo   •   October 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday that Russia is planning to establish a pharmaceutical company in the Philippines for the manufacture of COVID-19 vaccine.

The President said he had a serious discussion on the said plan with outgoing Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev during the latter’s farewell courtesy call in Malacañang on October 14.

“I just had a talk with the ambassador of Russia, the outgoing, and we had a serious one-on-one talk. He said Russia is coming in. They want to establish here, gagawa sila ng pharmaceutical and vaccine papasok,” the President said.

He reiterated his preference to source the COVID-19 vaccine from either China or Russia once available.

He added that the government has already secured enough budget for the purchase of the initial batch of vaccines, although an additional amount is still needed to cover for the vaccination of the entire Filipino population.

“ I have the money already for the vaccine, but hahanap pa ako ng maraming pera because you know there are 130 million Filipinos and to me ideally, all should have the vaccine without exception,” Duterte said. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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