PIA News Service - Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Feature News: Young Workers Feel the Heat of the Global Financial Crisis: Trade Unions to the Rescue

Manila (March 3) - The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) with assistance from the International Trade Union Confederation-Asia Pacific (ITUC-AP) will hold a two-day National Youth Workshop for Decent Work under Global Crisis on March 12-13, 2010 at Kimberly Hotel Tagaytay. 

Around 30 motivated and dedicated youth representatives, leaders and youth advocates from TUCP affiliates across industries including manufacturing, public sector, automotive, services, electronics, media and informal sector and youth partners in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao will participate in the program.

 “It is important to work directly with young people. This conference is a perfect setting to interact, hear young people’s voice, their experiences, lessons learned, challenges and successes,” says TUCP General Secretary Ernesto Herrera. 

This activity will give young people opportunities to participate and contribute in workshops covering topics such as youth employment in times of crisis, youth in trade unions, the ITUC-AP Youth Charter and local actions, and accessing assistance funds and programs on youth, among other issues. 

“This conference is very timely and needed especially that young people have been disproportionately affected by the global financial crisis.” 

“We need to invest more attention and priority on youth to harness their potentials in nation building. Many of TUCP programs target young people and their families, including employment facilitation and training, reproductive health, HIV and AIDS, human trafficking, youth leadership, climate change and green jobs, child labor monitoring,” added Herrera. 

"I look forward to attending the conference. This is a great opportunity to meet other youth with similar interests and challenges. The topics are pertinent especially on accessing assistance funds and programs for youth,” says Ann Dumaraog, Union Secretary for Education of Kilusan sa Jolibee.

This conference will highlight discussions on the challenges that young people face in the labor market especially during difficult economic times and explore ways of addressing these challenges, and particularly promoting the rights and conditions of young people at work.

Experts on youth employment issues from the International Labor Organization (ILO), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Japanese Embassy of Manila and the ITUC-AP will provide information on government, intergovernmental and trade union responses to the crisis and the steps that had been taken to protect and promote youth employment and their rights. 

"The TUCP and ITUC-AP is looking forward to continuing their commitment to implement measures to improve the actual participation and contribution of young people in youth employment activities and decision-making processes and increase their involvement in trade union activities,” concluded Herrera. (ALF/PIA-Surigao del Norte)

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SSS to condone penalties on unremitted, delinquent employer contributions

BUTUAN CITY (03 March) – Social Security System (SSS) recently announced its implementing rules and regulations of the SSS Condonation Law of 2009. 

In a memorandum circular issued by Romulo Neri, SSS President and CEO, all employers and employees identified were informed as to who may avail of the program.  

Republic Act 9903 otherwise known as “Social Security Condonation Law of 2009”, grants SSS a one-time authority to condone penalties on unremitted or delinquent contributions by employers.

The law covered any employer who is delinquent or has not remitted all contributions due and payable to the SSS, including those with pending cases either before the Social Security Commission, courts or Office of the Prosecutor involving collection of contributions and/or penalties, may within six months from the effectivity of the law to: (a) remit said contributions; or (b) submit a proposal to pay the same in installments, subject to the implementing rules and regulations which the Social Security Commission may prescribe, provided, that the delinquent employer submits the corresponding collection lists together with the remittance or proposal to pay the installments, provided, further, that upon approval and payment in full or in installments of contributions due and payable to the SSS, all such pending cases filed against the employer shall be withdrawn without prejudice to the refiling of the case in the event the employer fails to remit in full the required delinquent contributions or defaults in the payment of any installment under the approved proposal.

RA 9903 also stated, in the event that a delinquent employer chooses to submit an installment proposal, SSS shall give due course to approve and grant the same, subject to the implementing rules and regulations as the Social Security Commission shall prescribe.

However, the employer shall remit, upon submission of the installment proposal, a downpayment of not less than five percent of its total contribution delinquency. Also, the employer shall remit the balance thereof in equal monthly installments within a period not exceeding 48 months from the date of approval of the proposal, provided, that the installment payments shall bear an interest of three percent per annum.

The penalty provided under Section 22(a) of Republic Act 8282 shall be condoned by virtue of the SSS Condonation Law of 2009 when and until all the delinquent contributions are remitted by the employer to SSS.

In case the employer fails to remit in full the required delinquent contributions, or defaults in the payment of any installment under the approved proposal, within the availment period provided in RA 9903, the penalties are deemed reimposed from the time the contributions first become due, to accrue until the delinquent account is paid in full. For the reason of equity, however, employers who settled arrears in contributions before the effectivity of the law shall likewise have their accrued penalties waved.

With these developments, SSS Butuan Branch is calling all delinquent employers to have their penalties condoned, pay in full or installment their SSS contribution delinquencies. For inquiries, visit the SSS Servicing Branch for details or log on to www.sss.gov.ph. The condonation is open until July 31, 2010 only.
(Robert E. Roperos, PIA-13)
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CEBUANO NEWS: Women’s Month Celebration gipatigayon sa Caraga 
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BUTUAN CITY (03 March) - Ang Rehiyon sa Caraga nakigduyog sa selebrasyon sa kababaihan isip dakong pahat sa natampong partisipasyon ngadto sa kumunidad, himoon ang pag-obserbar sa “Women’s Month Celebration” sulod sa bulan sa Marso, ni’ng syudad.
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Agi’g pakig-alayon sa Regional Development Council Gender and Development Coordinating Council (RDC-GADCC) gilusad ang nagkadaiyang aktibidades alang sa paghatag sa ka-importansya sa atong kababayen-an lukop nasyon.
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Subay sa Akta Republika 6949, “An Act to Declare March 8 of Every Year as a Working Special Holiday to be Known as National Women’s Day” nga giluwatan ni kanhi Presidente Corazon C. Aquino niadtong April 10, 1990. 
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Si Chairperson Commission on Human Rights Regional Director Atty. Marilyn M. Pintor ang nanguna sa Women’s Month Celebration, matud niini nga adunay mga programa nga ipahigayon isip pagpakabana sa katilingban aron ilunsad ang katungod sa kababayen-an.
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Tukion ang mga nahimong achievements ug hatagan sa patas nga pagtagad sa kumunidad ug mga natampo alang sa kauswagan ug kalamboan sa nasud.
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Luyo sa mga pagpangabuso ug kasong pagpandagmal sa kababayen-an apil na kabataan gitutokan sa Komisyon sa katungod, kapulisan, sector sa kababayen-an nga nagpakabana aron makabaton sa katarungan ug malikay sa deskriminasyon ang mga biktima.
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Gisulong ang temang “Babae, Tagumpay ka ng Bayan,” nagsentro sa mga nakab-ot nga pangandoy sa kababayen-an isip inahan sa pamilya ug kaabag sa katilingban. (PIA-Caraga)

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Northern, Northeastern Mindanao Task Force’s El Niño prepares mitigation plan 
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BUTUAN CITY (March 3) – The Regional Task Forces (TF) on the El Niño phenomenon of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Northern and Northeastern Mindanao regions were reactivated Wednesday to conduct mitigating measures on the dry spell that started besetting the region. 
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Agriculturists and technical men started lining up mitigating plans at their respective DA regional offices to counter on the effects of the drought. 
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The reactivation of Task Force El Niño was recently ordered by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to enhance inter-agency coordination in the formulation and implementation of measures to mitigate the adverse effects of the said phenomenon on the people. 
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Members of the task force include all the regional directors of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Department Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), National Commission for Indigenous People (NCIP) and the Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Council (RAFC). 
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Among the functions of the task force are the formulation of a comprehensive disaster preparedness and rehabilitation plan to help the people cope with the phenomenon and minimize its disastrous effects and regularly monitor the implementation of such plan. 
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It is also aimed to conduct a massive information campaign to educate the public on the phenomenon and the needed interventions to reduce its expected adverse impact and enlist the assistance and support of other government agencies or instrumentalities and the civil society in pursuance of its functions and objectives. 
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The task force will likewise identify possible funding sources to implement its activities in coordination with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). 
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In a related development, the Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) 900th Air Weather Group is setting up preparations for cloud seeding operations to induce the occurrence of rain in Region 10. 
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DA Region 10 Regional Director Lealyn A. Ramos said the Northern Mindanao El Niño Task Force identified for cloud seeding watershed of major reservoirs used for irrigation and in areas where the crop stage would require water. 
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The priority areas are those near the river basins of Lake Lanao in Lanao del Sur and the Pulangi River in Bukidnon due to need to bring to the required levels of water that drive the turbines of the hydro-electric plants. 
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Lake Lanao in Lanao provinces and Pulangi River are the sources of Mindanao power grid that already seriously suffered low water level for almost two months now. 
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Meanwhile, at least P149.758 million will be needed by the DA to mitigate the effects of the El Niño phenomenon in Northern Mindanao. 
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Different sources from members Regional Task Force on the El Niño already recommended the need to implement intervention programs on the following anticipated problems: reduction of irrigation water, occurrence of pests and diseases, high prices of food commodities due to low production and indiscriminate slaughter/disposal of breeding animals. 
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The other mitigating measures include: the implementation of water rotational methods in the national irrigation systems (NIS) and establishment of drainage re-use systems and water transitory structures by the National Irrigation Administration. 
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Lending of pump and engine sets to El Nino affected farmers and fisher folk organizations until the duration of the El Niño episode and technical assistance to LGUs in the conduct of pest surveillance and control measures that may occur as the dry condition and warmer temperature progresses through the summer, by the Regional Crop Protection Center. 
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As of January 15 this year, a total of 238,622 hectares of land in the region have been planted to crops of which 97,521 hectares are vulnerable with a projected production losses of 211,712 metric tons, DA officials said. 
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For livestock, the vulnerable population are 120,689,850 heads with a projected production losses of 20,068 MT. 
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While for poultry, the vulnerable population is expected to reach 224,504,745 heads with a projected production losses of 2,245,047 MT. 
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The gradual decrease in sea surface temperature is expected to still be within the El Niño threshold and likely to sustain its moderate strength until its mature stage which will last up to June 2010. (PNA) 
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New Zealand reaffirms commitment to peace, development of Caraga region
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ROSARIO, Agusan del Sur (March 3) - New Zealand Ambassador Andrew Matheson together with Renaud Meyer, country director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will start their three-day swing in Caraga region starting Wednesday to reaffirm their commitment to peace and development in Caraga region. 
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The New Zealand and UNDP officials will meet with key leaders in the region and visit communities in Agusan del Sur and Butuan City to reaffirm New Zealand’s commitment to work with local stakeholders. 
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The New Zealand Government, through the New Zealand Agency for International Development (NZAID), is a key donor partner of the Government of the Philippines–United Nation Action for Conflict Transformation (GoP-UN ACT) for Peace Programme in assisting the 37 Peace and Development Communities (PDCs) in Caraga region in their transformation process. 
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Along with Mindanao Super Region Champion Secretary Jesus G. Dureza, Ambassador Matheson, Meyer and Dureza will turn over various projects on community economic enterprise and improving access to health services in Barangay Marfil in Rosario town, Agusan del Sur. They will also visit the Manila de Bugabus Elementary School of Peace in PDC Manila de Bugabus, Butuan City. These efforts were implemented in partnership with the local government units. 
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Marfil and Manila de Bugabus are among the 278 Peace and Development Communities (PDCs) that are being supported by the ACT for Peace Programme in Southern Philippines, 37 of which are in Caraga region. 
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A PDC is a conflict-affected or conflict-vulnerable community that is undergoing change processes towards sustainable peace and development through the help of various development partners. 
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“This visit affords us excellent opportunity to assess the extent of our initiatives and efforts made by our communities in pushing for peace and development in Caraga,” said Dureza, who also serves as the ACT for Peace national programme director. 
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Managed by UNDP, the ACT for Peace Programme is implemented by the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo) in partnership with the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The Programme is also supported by the governments of Australia, Spain and the European Union. 
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Among the assistance being provided to PDC Marfil are construction of barangay health station, provision of medical equipment, establishment of “botika ng barangay”, installation of potable water system and establishment of rice trading. These projects were priorities set by the community in their Barangay Development Plan that they formulated using peace-sensitive and participatory resource appraisal approaches. 
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“The activities pursued under the ACT for Peace Programme in this region demonstrate firm commitment of both the Government and donor partners including the government of New Zealand to lay the solid foundation for lasting peace in Mindanao,” Dureza added. 
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The GoP-UN ACT for Peace Programme is implemented by the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo) in partnership with the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Regional Government and supported by the Governments of Australia, New Zealand, Spain and the European Union. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) serves as the managing agency for the Programme ACT for Peace. (PNA) 
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BCBMPC Launches “Pinoy Coop ATM”
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The launching of its “Pinoy Coop ATM” on February 23, 2010 at main branch in Magallanes, Agusan del Norte is another milestone for BCBMPC in finding better ways to serve and address the needs of its ARB and non-ARB members.
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Hon. Congressman Edilmero A. Amante, District II Representative and RD Faisar Ali Mambuay, DAR CARAGA Regional Director with PARO II Andre B. Atega of DAR-Agusan del Norte cut the ribbon of the Pinoy Coop ATM of BCBMPC with the assistance of Mayor Carlito C. Cumba, Municipality of Carmen and Mr. Leopoldo Cabiad, in behalf of RD Manuela E. Pelaes of CDA – Caraga Region.
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“We are proud to announce that BCBMPC is now on its peak of their dreams being the only Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative in CARAGA Region having an ATM project installed and operationalized”, DAR Regional Director Faisar Mambuay said.
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Meanwhile, PARO II Andre B. Atega congratulates BCBMPC for harvesting the yields on the impact of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in Agusan del Norte. He reiterated the spirit of unity, one of the reasons why the coop stands still over a decade.
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The recently installed Pinoy Coop ATM is a dream come true to the members of BCBMPC through the effort of Chairman Jimmy L. Beray in partnership with Mindanao Alliance Self-help Societies – Southern Philippines Education Cooperative Center (MASS-SPECC).
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For his part, Mr. Jimmy L. Beray sincerely commended DAR Agusan del Norte through their European-funded Agrarian Reform Support Project (ARSP), granted a loan 13 years ago used to start a business.
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At least 4,790 members stand to benefit from BCBMPC Pinoy Coop ATM comprising of five (5) branches located in Butuan City, Cabadbaran City, Buenavista and satellite office at Langihan, Butuan City. 
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The Pinoy Coop ATM has link 24 hours, 7 days a week to any Megalink and BancNet ATM Machines. BCBMPC members can now withdraw their loans using any ATM worldwide.
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The BCBMPC is one of the cooperatives assisted by the Department of Agrarian Reform of Agusan del Norte in 1994 with 110 lowly-paid crab hunters and fishpond workers started from humble beginnings and now operated a bank-like-operation.
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Now, the cooperative has grown to P79,043,404.14 Million total assets and seen to further expand its coverage to include Surigao del Norte soon. (Gil E. Miranda, Dar-Agusan del Norte/ PIA-Caraga)