Landbank vows to submit plans for farmers after Duterte threat

Marje Pelayo   •   July 24, 2019   •   2066

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.

OFW groups satisfied with President’s SONA

Maris Federez   •   July 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Several groups of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) have expressed their gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte on his State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Around 300 Filipinos representing several groups of OFWs from different countries met online and simultaneously watched the President’s SONA.

They said the chief executive did not let them down as he urged Congress “to pass a law establishing the Department of Overseas Filipino solely on addressing the concerns of Filipinos abroad and their families.”

Last March, the lower House passed the creation of the Department of Filipino Overseas and Foreign Deployment. The Senate, on the other hand, is still hearing the bill.

In his SONA, the President reiterated his commitment of support to OFWs.

He called on the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and other agencies to allocate trainings and programs for OFWs.

With this, the United Filipino Global International thanked the president for his concern over them.

“The SONA speech of the president, I think we are very happy kasi alam naman po namin ang kaniyang intention. Ang kaniyang speech ay para talaga tumulong nang totoo na walang halong pamumulitiko,” said Gemma Sotto, chairperson of United Filipino Global International. — (from the report of Asher Cadapan, Jr.) /mbmf

Modernization plan seen to boost performance of BFP

Maris Federez   •   July 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) on Tuesday, July 28, said it is looking forward to the planned modernization of the agency as mentioned by President Rodrigo Duterte in his 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

In a phone interview, BFP Director Jose Embang, Jr admitted that the agency is now being left behind as compared with the other fire departments in other countries.

Embang said that what they need to be on par with other countries in meeting and maintaining international standards is additional personnel, as well as equipment, training, and salary increase.

He said what the President mentioned in his SONA will be a great help to the agency.

“Ngayon lang nagkaroon, nabanggit ng isang Pangulo na dalawang beses ang modernization ng Bureau of Fire since last year, nabanggit n’ya na ‘yan, tapos ngayong nabanggit na naman n’ya. Given by the fact siguro na s’ya ay naging mayor sa Davao ng ilang dekada at nakita n’ya ang importance ng isang fire department sa isang bayan,” Embang said.

He added that the agency has only around 29,000 personnel nationwide and what they need is double that number.

He said that to be able to recruit the additional 30,000 personnel, they have to offer a more competitive salary.

He explained that more than being firefighters, the BFP is also among the first to respond to rescue operations during disasters and emergencies.

“Ini-ensure n’ya na ang lahat ng tao na nakatira sa mga establishment ay safe from destructive fires, isa lang ‘yun, prevention,” he said.

The BFP is also a support group to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in national emergencies and in fighting terrorism.

“Sini-secure n’ya ‘yung mga taong affected ng isang emergency bago ‘yung investigation, bago dumating ‘yung iba-ibang mga unit,” Embang said.

To perform these things, Embang said, the BFP would need equipment such as additional fire trucks, ladders, platforms, ambulances, rescue trucks, and hazardous materials trucks.

“Importanteng-importante po ‘yang hazardous materials truck, kasi ‘yan po ‘yung nagre responde sa mga chemical spill, sa mga bio kagaya ng COVID, sa mga radiological incident, ‘yan po ‘yung hazardous materials na tinatawag,” the BFP official further explained.

The agency is also planning to procure choppers to be used in transporting victims from high-rise buildings or forest fires, as well as rescue boats, and drones. — (from the report of Lea Ylagan) /mbmf

SONA 2020: Bills Duterte wants 18th Congress to support

Marje Pelayo   •   July 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday (July 27) fulfilled one of his most important tasks as head of the country despite the risks of the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

He opted to deliver his SONA personally at the Batasang Pambansa despite heavy rain and several reports of COVID-19 positive test results among some of the event’s supposed attendees.

The ceremony was obviously a deviation from the Congress’ decade-long tradition: no prior meet-up with the Senate and House leaders, no fancy welcoming rites, no live performers and no handshakes.

The President went straight to the plenary upon his arrival and after the opening numbers, he went on to deliver his report to the nation. 

His speech lasted for about an hour and 40 minutes.

During his SONA, President Duterte asked the Congress to pass significant legislation that he believes are necessary in helping his administration propel the country even amidst the ongoing challenges. 

One of which is the revival of death penalty for drug-related crimes.

“I reiterate the swift passage of reviving the death penalty by lethal injection for crimes specified under the Comprehensive Dangerous Acts of 2002,” he said in his speech stressing the dangers illegal drugs cause to an individual and families.

Likewise, he asked Congress to immediately enact the Bayanihan Two so that assistance to sectors most affected by the pandemic will be delivered right away and funds will be made available for the procurement of additional medical equipment that will augment the country’s healthcare system.

“I hope that we can get some or the same treatment of clarity, purpose and the fastness to support the passage of the Bayanihan [to Recover as One Act], which will supplement funds for recovery and response against the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Aside from these two priority bills, the President enumerated several legislation which he wants Congress to deliberate and pass soon. 

These include the passage of the:

  • Corporate Recovery And Tax Incentives For Enterprises (Create) Act
  • Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer Or Fist Act
  • Establishment of the Department Of Overseas Filipinos
  • National Land Use Act
  • Coconut Farmers and Industry Fund
  • Advanced Nursing Education Act

After his SONA, the President immediately left the Batasang Complex and went back to Malacañang. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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