PIA News Service - Friday, Jan. 1, 2010

New MOA will bring back AFP to help Comelec ensure clean and peaceful 2010 polls

THE Defense Department and the Commission on Elections are working on a new Memorandum of Agreement that will put the Armed Forces of the Philippines at the “full disposal” of the poll body “to safeguard the sanctity of the 2010 elections.”

Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales yesterday said the new MOA will redefine the role of the AFP during elections to check private armed groups in many areas of the country and to prevent a repeat of the Maguindanao tragedy.

The new MOA is also intended to help prevent a repeat of the issues that resulted from the 2004 and 2007 elections, Gonzales added.

“A technical working group is now going into its details,” the defense chief said.

The new MOA will replace the 2007 agreement between the DND-AFP and the Comelec which prohibits soldiers from escorting candidates and election paraphernalia during elections, among others.

“Instead of shying away from their responsibility, our armed forces will meet the challenge head on. We will show that the AFP is the true protector of our democracy and our people’s will. We will prove the detractors of our soldiers wrong,” Gonzales emphasized.

Already, a new Comelec resolution allowing a maximum of two soldiers to protect candidates in election hot spots has made the 2007 MOA moot and academic. The poll body has also announced imposing a total gun ban during the election period.

Gonzales said the defense establishment and the AFP held a dialogue with the Comelec in response to Comelec chair Jose Melo’s expression of need for “an environment that will allow Comelec to do its work.”

Gonzales, who is concurrently the National Security Adviser, noted that there are at least 132 private armed groups in the country and about one million loose firearms.

Gonzales expressed concern that the country’s intelligence sector was monitoring heavy purchase of weapons by local politicians apparently in preparation for the forthcoming elections. This is happening even in provinces not previously known for election violence, he said.

“If left unchecked, this situation will result in the subversion of the true will of our people,” the defense chief said. He pointed out that there was a pattern of daily political killings in the country even before the election season. (Louie Ceniza, NSC/ PIA-Caraga)


DTI-Caraga encourages public to patronize OTOP

BUTUAN CITY (01 January) – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Caraga through Regional Director Brielgo Pagarab encouraged the consuming public to patronize the One Town One Product (OTOP) being sold in the Pasalubong Center in Gaisano Mall, this city.

During the press conference held recently, Dir. Pagaran recalled that one of the priority programs of Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is to promote entrepreneurship and generate jobs. Thus, through OTOP, local chief executives of every city and municipality must take the lead in identifying, developing, and promoting a specific product or service that will compete with the products of the other areas in the country.

Dir. Pagaran further said that OTOP-Philippines supports micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to manufacture, offer and market distinctive products or services through the use of indigenous raw materials and local skills and talents.

Dir. Pagaran explained that the concept of OTOP-Philippines is an adaptation of Japan’s successful One Village One Product (OVOP) project, which was started in 1979 by Governor Morihiro Hiramatsu of Oita Prefecture as a form of people’s participation in the regional development of that country. Its success prompted other countries to adopt the concept in their own areas as an effective tool for poverty alleviation, particularly in the rural areas. OTOP has been established in Thailand, Vietnam, Malawi, Cambodia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia.

During its media briefing held recently, Dir. Pagaran presented some of the products made by Butuan City OTOP manufacturers, which was also given to all its participants.

Dir. Pagaran then encourages all Butuanons and Caraganons to patronize OTOP for it is one way to develop Butuanon-made products and help it make known to other places. (Jennifer P. Gaitano, PIA-Caraga)


Cebuano News: ILO-DOLE ug DTI nangandam sa climate change

BUTUAN CITY (01 January) – Gipangandaman sa ahensya sa International Labor Organizations (ILO), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) uban ang Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) ang mahitungod sa epekto sa climate change sa kalibotan tipik dinhe sa Agusan del Norte, sa gipahigayong panagtigom sa tanang media practioners dili pa lang dugay didto sa 4FD & V Plaza Building J.C. Aquino Ave. ning dakbayan.

Ang Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) Project migahin sa pagtutok sa mga prayoridad ug mekanismo sa haom nga proteksyunan ang kalibotan sa dakong kadaot nga dala sa kausaban sa teknolohiya.

Si ILO-Manager Lurraine Baybay Villacorta ang midesisyon nga humanon sa technical working group ang nahisgutan nga proyekto apil ang Project’s Advisory Committee (PAC) sa pagtuon sa baseline niini.

Gibutyag nga ang PAC gipamunuan sa Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Caraga Regional Director Brielgo O. Pagaran isip acting chairman, samtang ang Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) regional director ug si Agusan del Norte Governor Erlpe John Amante ang mahimong mga meyiembro.

Si Pagaran nagkanayon nga ang draft baseline gitun-an sayo niadtong December 3, 2009 nga giapilan sa mga opisyales sa provincial, municipal ug mga representante gikan sa sektor sa mag-uuma, organisasyon ug line agencies alang sa validation workshop.

Gibutyag nga ang Agusan del Norte ang usa sa lima ka demonstration sites sa nasud nga apektado sa climate change ubos sa Millenium Development Goals Fund. Dugang niana nga ang demonstration projects ang gitawag nga outcome 3 sa dinagkong proyekto ilalom sa “Strengthening the Philippines Institutional Capacity to Adapt Climate Change.

Gipahibalo pod ni Pagaran nga gitigom ang commitment ug pakigsalmot sa kagamhanang probinsyal sa Agusan del Norte pinaagi sa gikasabotan nga Memorandum of Understanding kon (MOU) nga gipirmahan ni Gov. Amante, Director Linda Wirth sa ILO Sub-Regional Office for Southeast Asia ug Pacific (SRO-Manila) niadtong gi-launching ang proyekto bulan sa Agosto 26, 2009 ubos sa Temang: Climate Change Resilient farming Communities in Agusan del Norte through Innovative Risk Transfer Mechanisms. (Mike A. Imbo, PIA-Caraga)


Cebuano News: Caraga nakapundo’g kita nga miabot sa P305 milyones gikan sa DTI Marketing
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BUTUAN CITY (01 January) – Gipasigarbo sa rehiyon sa Caraga nga nakapundo kinig kita nga miabot sa P305 milyones nga halin sa partisipasyon sa nagkalain-laing marketing activities nga gisalmotan sa Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) sulod sa 11 ka bulan ni’ng tuiga.

Atol sa gipahigayong press conference niadtong December 22, 2009 didto sa 4FD & V Plaza Building J.C. Aquino Ave. ning dakbayan.

Gitug-an ni DTI-Regional Director Brielgo O. Pagaran nga ang marketing unit sa iyang buhatan ubos sa Caraga Business Development Division kompiyansa sa penal nga figure subay sa approximate nga gipamantala sugod niadtong tuig 2008 nga miabot sa P378 milyones hangtod sa kasamtangang reports nga misulod sa buhatan.

Adunay 34 ka producers ang naitala ubos sa koordinasyon gikan sa ahensya nga nagikan sa Nasyonal, regional ug provincial trade fairs sulod ug gawas sa probinsya pinaagi sa market matching activities, apil na ang maintenance sa trade houses ug mga pasalubong centers.

Dugang ni Pagaran nga ang Surigao del Norte ang migahin sa dakong share nga may P113.93 milyones nga sales, gisundan sa Surigao del Sur nga may P88 milyones, samtang ang Agusan del Sur may P67.53 milyones ug P35.77 milyones sa Agusan del Norte.

Sa rehiyon sa Caraga ang mga produktong gi-processed gilangkuban kini gikan sa pagkaon, gifts, mga dekorasyon nga binuhat sa kahoy, coco beads, nito, romblon, agsam, tikog, fashion accessories ug mga furniture. Nagpadayon ang pagpaningkamot nga mosaka sa new markets ug developments nga masiguro sa rehiyon ang competitive, desinyo, kalidad ug affordable nga presyo. (Mike A. Imbo, PIA-Caraga)


Cebuano News: Proyekto sa CARAGA-OTOP, giaprobahan sa DBP

BUTUAN CITY (01 January) – Ang Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) mipagawas sa P68.5 milyon pundo alang sa duha ka proyekto ang One Town Product (OTOP) dinhe sa rehiyon sa Caraga, kini ang gipahibalo sa Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) atol sa ilang media briefing didto sa Conference room sa ilang buhatan ning dakbayan, dili pa lang dogay.

Sa impormasyon nga nadawat gibutyag nga P65 milyon sa San Francisco, Agusan del Sur OTOP Complex, P3.5 milyon expansion sa Ocean Bounty Food ug Frozen Products sa Surigao del Norte. Kini ang nauna sa duha ka OTOP projects nga gigahinan sa pundo sa DBP-OTOP financing window.

Gisugyot nga ang duha ka prominenteng proyekto ang may nadawat nga Otop Regional Awardees ning tuiga. Ang munisipalidad sa San Francisco ang nakadawat sa Most Supportive OTOP local Government Unit, samtang ang Ocean Bounty ang nakasungkit sa Most Oustanding Micro Small and Medium Enterprise Award.

Ang OTOP Complex ang mahimong sentro sa kahugpungan nga makadugang sa pasilidad nga magsilbing trading center aron ma-prayoridad ang maong produkto.

Dugang niana ang LGU migahin pod sa pundo alang sa allocated working capital nga magtabang sa micro-enterpreneurs kinsa direktang benipisyari nga makapadayo0n sa maong negosyo. Gi-operan kini sa mga dugang trainings ug assistance para mapalambo ang negosyo ug mahatagan kini sa capital.

Sa laing bahin ang expansion sa Ocean Bounty gilauman nga modugang sa produksyon ug mosaka ang sales sa mga fresh ug frozen seafood delicacies nga gikan sa Surigao del Norte.

Ang gipagawas nga produkto niini sama sa bottled poot poot, aquamarine fresh, squid balls, crab meat, saang, tempura shredded squid (bottled), fresh lobster ug lapulapu. (Mike A. Imbo, PIA-Caraga)
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QC Senior Citizens get GSIS personal accident insurance

One hundred thousand senior citizens of Quezon City today, 11 December, become policy holders of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), following the availment by the Quezon City local government of the GSIS Group Personal Accident Insurance.

Each of the 100,000 senior citizens gets an insurance coverage of up to P65,000 for a premium of only P52.50. The GSIS Group Personal Accident Insurance offers the cheapest yet the widest accident insurance coverage in the industry today.

The policy covers an indemnity of P50,000 for accidental death or dismemberment and P5,000 for medical reimbursement. In addition, the policy also covers a P10,000 bereavement assistance in case of the accidental death of the insured. 

The policy also offers a 24-hour accident insurance coverage of P25,000 and another P25,000 for unprovoked murder or assault.

The availment of the group accident insurance is an initiative of the Quezon City local government led by Mayor Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte, who was also once the president and general manager of the GSIS.

“The local government of Quezon City has always been an advocate of preparedness. We want to secure the future of our constituents especially against unforeseen events that may severely affect them and their family’s future,” said Mayor Belmonte. 

“With preparedness in mind, we have always relied on the dependability of the GSIS as a pension fund and as the country’s largest insurer. We went beyond insuring our properties, we also want to protect the future of our constituents,” he added.

Meanwhile, GSIS President and General Manager Winston F. Garcia lauded the efforts of Mayor Belmonte for securing the future of his constituents through insurance. “This project is something that all local governments should do. The GSIS has a wide array of insurance products that will protect your future at the lowest premium.” 

The GSIS also offers personal accident insurance, dubbed as My Shield, under its GCare Umbrella of Products. My Shield covers an individual ages three to 80 years old for the lowest premium of .40.
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For just 40 centavos, an individual can already get P1,000 worth of personal accident coverage . My Shield offers a minimum coverage of P50,000 to a maximum protection of P5 million.

The GSIS, by virtue of Republic Act 656 as amended by Presidential Decree 245, is allowed to engage in all kinds of insurance and reinsurance business. In addition, the state-run pension fund is empowered to insure all properties, assets, and interests of the government against any insurable risk. (GSIS)
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GSIS declares P893-M in 2009 cash dividends for members

The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) has allotted P893 million for the 2009 cash dividends to be given to its eligible members after the System again recorded earnings from its life insurance fund in 2008.

“This is a result of the reforms we have initiated which required the prudent management of GSIS funds, in line with the vision of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” said GSIS President and General Manager Winston F. Garcia. 

The earnings in life insurance are principally derived from two sources: investment income and mortality gains or savings.

All active members including the members of the Judiciary and Constitutional Offices whose life insurance coverage have been in force for at least one year as of December 31, 2008 and are still active as of the declaration date shall be entitled to the 2009 GSIS cash dividends.

In addition, active members issued with Life Endowment Policy (LEP) or with new or converted Enhanced Life Policy (ELP) will be entitled to cash dividends provided their policies have been in force for at least one year as of December 31, 2008.

Active members whose LEP matured after December 31, 2008 and who were issued a renewal policy under the ELP will likewise be entitled to the 2009 cash dividends based on their LEP. Active members who opted to convert their LEP to ELP after December 31, 2008 will also be entitled based on their LEP.

On the other hand, those with lapsed policies in calendar year 2008 up to the declaration date are not entitled to receive the 2009 GSIS cash dividends. 

In addition, those with terminated policies due to retirement, maturity, and separation in calendar year 2008 up to the declaration date and active members who have defaulted in their Consoloans and salary loans for at least 12 months and/or have unpaid premiums for at least 12 months as of declaration date will not receive the dividends.
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The 2009 GSIS cash dividends were disbursed through the savings account of the members’ eCard Plus. (GSIS)
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Christmas cash gift for GSIS pensioners grows for 4th straight year

The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) Board of Trustees has approved the allocation of P1.291 billion for the 2009 GSIS Christmas Cash Gift to be given to eligible active old-age pensioners this December, an improvement of 9.4 percent from the previous year’s budget of P1.18 billion. 

In fact, the amount of Christmas cash gift the pension fund has been allocating for its pensioners has been increasing over the years, from P923 million in 2007, P623 million in 2006, and P587 million in 2005.

“This has become an annual tradition for the GSIS, and we are very glad to share this blessing to our old-age pensioners,” said GSIS President and General Manager Winston F. Garcia. 

The GSIS chief noted that the earnings growth the GSIS has been enjoying over the years contributed significantly to the steady increase in the budget allotted for the Christmas cash gift. 

Meanwhile, only active old-age pensioners as of the declaration of the Christmas cash gift are eligible to receive the said benefit.

For old-age pensioners whose 2008 Christmas Cash Gift is above P10,000, they shall be granted an amount equivalent to one month current pension up to a maximum of P12,600. Those whose 2008 Christmas Cash Gift is P10,000 and below shall be granted an amount equivalent to one month current pension up to a maximum of P10,000, while old-age pensioners who resumed their regular monthly pensions after December 15, 2008 (after the 5-year guaranteed period) shall be granted an amount equivalent to one-month current pension up to a maximum of P10,000.

Entitled to the Christmas Cash Gift are old-age/retirement pensioners, including joint-life retirees, and disability pensioners under Republic Act 8291, Presidential Decree 1146, and R..A. 660 who are receiving their regular monthly pensions and are still qualified to their corresponding pensions and living as of December 15, 2009.

On the other hand, those not entitled to receive the Christmas cash gift are basic survivorship pensioners, dependent pensioners, and joint-life beneficiaries; retirees who received in advance their guaranteed pensions in the form of lump sums who are still within the guaranteed period and who shall be resuming their regular monthly pensions after December 15, 2009; new retirees from 2006 to 2009. They shall only be entitled to the Christmas Cash Gift that will be granted five years after their retirement date; members who separated from the service from 2006 to 2009 before reaching age 60 and who started their regular monthly pension in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. They shall only be entitled to the Christmas Cash Gift once they have been regular pensioners for at least five years; and pensioners under Republic Act 7699 or the Portability Law who are receiving their regular pro-rata pension including those who are receiving pro-rata pension as a result of the Premium-Based Policy. (GSIS)
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GSIS disburses P32.10 billion in Consoloan proceeds

The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) is close to surpassing the amount of Consolidated Loan (ConsoLoan) proceeds it disbursed last year, as it keeps its commitment to pump-prime the economy.

Figures showed the state-run pension fund disbursed close to P32.1-billion in ConsoLoan proceeds in the first ten months of the year, against P34.70 billion in the entire 2008 which benefited some 342,765 GSIS members.

As of end-October this year, 290,856 GSIS members availed and benefited from the ConsoLoan program.

“The GSIS is aware of the many other aspirations of our members. These may include owning a house, a car, or putting up a business. With our ConsoLoan program, these dreams become a reality,” GSIS President and General Manager Winston F. Garcia said.

The ConsoLoan is a loan window that consolidates five different loan packages into one—Salary Loan, Restructured Salary Loan, Enhanced Salary Loan, Emergency Loan Assistance, and Summer One-Month Salary Loan—thus, making it easier to manage. The outstanding penalties or surcharges incurred from these five loans are also waived when availing of this loan.

Furthermore, the ConsoLoan, which has a repayment period of up to six years, gives members higher loanable amount with the additional amount of twice the basic monthly salary on top of the existing salary.

GSIS members can avail of a loan equivalent to up to 10 months of their basic salary with the ConsoLoan.

For members who have been in government service for at least 10 years, they can avail of a ConsoLoan equivalent to 10 months of their monthly salary. The minimum creditable years in service a member has to have to qualify is 20 months, with the ConsoLoan proceeds equivalent to three months of his monthly salary.

To qualify for the ConsoLoan, the applicant has to be an active GSIS member for at least 20 months; the agency has paid at least three correct premium payments in the last six months; the agency also should not be on the suspended list of the GSIS due to arrearages; the member has had no administrative charge and his take home pay should be sufficient to pay the loan.

Members with a GSIS eCard Plus can apply for the Conso-Loan via the GSIS Wireless Automated Processing System or G-W@PS kiosk or over-the-counter in their servicing GSIS offices.

Meantime, the GSIS has recently offered an optional one-year moratorium program for members badly hit by typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” covering their ConsoLoan accounts. This is to enable the calamity victims attend to more pressing financial needs like food, clothing, relocation and/or repair of shelter.

The one-year moratorium program covers only the amortizations within the month of October 2009 up to September 2010. All ConsoLoan accounts not declared in default as of Sept. 30, 2009 are eligible to be applied for this program.

Borrowers with arrears shall be allowed to avail of the moratorium. However, the moratorium period shall be limited to the difference between 12 months and the number of months in arrears. (GSIS)
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GSIS and CSC collaborate to address members’ concerns

The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) is working closely with the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to address members’ issues that were brought to the attention of the CSC and subsequently communicated with the pension fund for appropriate action.

The two agencies have formed a joint committee composed of key executives from the GSIS—headed by Executive Vice President for Operations Consuelo D. Manansala—and the CSC—headed by Asst. Commissioner Anicia M. De Lima—to thresh out concerns from different sectors of the government through a series of meetings. One of the issues discussed relates to members who will soon be retiring that have concerns on their unposted GSIS records. In response, the GSIS is reminding agencies to submit the names as well as the applications of employees who will avail of early retirement 60 days prior to their preferred retirement date to facilitate the reconciliation of the members’ accounts.
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The pension fund added that the early notification mechanism will ensure the judicious settlement of their retirement benefits.

GSIS President and General Manager Winston F. Garcia said the full compliance of all agencies concerned is crucial in ensuring the success of the program, especially in meeting the GSIS’s aforementioned objectives.

“The success of this activity would require the cooperation and full support of all agencies by providing us the names of their employees below 65 years old who intend to avail of early retirement,” he said.

Consequently, members who will avail of the early retirement are required to submit their application as endorsed by their respective heads of agencies.

Mr. Garcia added that the GSIS is prioritizing the reconciliation of premium and loan payments of prospective retirees to facilitate the timely and accurate computation of their benefits. 

For further details on this program, the pension fund has advised the Authorized Agency Officers of different agencies to coordinate with the Membership Group of the GSIS. 

Meanwhile, the GSIS said concerns on questionable loan accounts allegedly incurred by some members are referred to its Investigation Department. On the other hand, issues on the alleged inability of some members to avail of loans are referred to the GSIS’s Internal Reconciliation Unit for appropriate examination.

“If the CSC has any knowledge of such cases, we ask them to provide us the names so we can look into the matter,” said Mr. Garcia.

The GSIS’s problems with unposted payments stemmed from the deficiency in its database management system software dubbed as DB2 and supplied by IBM. Despite the problems with IBM-DB2, Mr. Garcia assured members that the GSIS continues to process loans and claims although the processing of such has experienced delays. 

“The integrity of all membership data has not been compromised and no data has been lost, as records have been preserved and kept in perpetual storage,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the GSIS said names of employees who will retire at age 65, or the compulsory age of retirement, need not be submitted since the reconciliation of their accounts shall be done 60 days prior their 65th birthday.

Per GSIS records, there are a total of 3,893 compulsory retirees by March 31, 2010.
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The GSIS has four retirement modes, namely: Republic Act 660 that took effect on June 16, 1951; R.A. 1616 which took effect on May 31, 1957; Presidential Decree 1146 which took effect on June 1, 1977; and R.A. 8291 which took effect on June 24, 1997.

Under R.A. 660, the so-called Magic 87 is used, wherein the age of the member and the years in service he has rendered will be added. If the sum is 87, he will be qualified to retire under R.A. 660 with pension. This mode is applicable only to employees who entered government service before June 1, 1977.

For R.A. 1616, the retiree must have rendered at least 20 years of service regardless of age and employment status. His last three years of service prior to retirement must also be continuous, except in cases of death, disability, abolition or phase out of position due to reorganization.

On the other hand, P.D. 1146 involves the pension benefit from the amended R.A. 660. Under this mode, a member can retire if he is 60 years old, a permanent employee, and has rendered at least 15 years in service.

Meanwhile, under R.A. 8291, there are two options: the 5-year lump sum and the 18-month cash payment and pension. The requirements under this mode include a minimum years in service of 15 years and the retiree must be at least 60 years old. (GSIS)