Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Marcos accepts resignation of 3 police generals, 15 colonels over alleged drug links

Posted to Rappler (Jun 25, 2023): Marcos accepts resignation of 3 police generals, 15 colonels over alleged drug links (By BEA CUPIN)

In his SONA, Marcos promised to accept the resignations of 'unscrupulous law enforcers and others involved in the highly nefarious drug trade'

MANILA, Philippines – A day after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. promised to accept the resignations of “unscrupulous law enforcers and others involved in the highly nefarious drug trade” during his State of the Nation Address (SONA), Malacañang made public on Tuesday, July 15, the list of police offers whose resignations were accepted by the President.

Marcos, addressing the 19th Congress and other top government and diplomatic officials, reiterated an earlier promise to introduce a new approach to battle illegal drugs: focusing instead on treatment and rehabilitation.

The President said he would not “tolerate corruption or incompetence in government,” referring to officials with supposed links to the illegal trade.

Current PNP chief Benjamin Acorda Jr., according to the Palace, sent a letter to the President to inform him of the advisory group’s investigation. Some 953 officials handed in their resignations. Of those, only the resignation of the following were accepted: 

PBGEN Remus Balingasa Medina O-10038
PBGEN Randy Quines Peralta O-05124
PBGEN Pablo Gacayan Labra II O-03734
PCOL Rogarth Bulalacao Campo O-08477
PCOL Rommel Javier Ochave O-08085
PCOL Rommel Allaga Velasco O-08084
PCOL Robin King Sarmiento O-03552
PCOL Fernando Reyes Ortega O-07478
PCOL Rex Ordoño Derilo O-10549
PCOL Julian Tesorero Olonan O-12395
PCOL Rolando Tapon Portera O-07520
PCOL Lawrence Bonifacio Cajipe O-12905
PCOL Dario Milagrosa Menor O-07757
PCOL Joel Kagayed Tampis O-08180
PCOL Michael Arcillas David O-07686
PCOL Igmedio Belonio Bernaldez O-12544
PCOL Rodolfo Calope Albotra Jr O-08061
PCOL Marvin Barba Sanchez O-08043

Acorda, according to Malacañang, said the 18 are “continuously being monitored.”

The 18 will be relieved from their current posts and placed under the Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit (PHAU) of the Directorate for Personnel and Records Management. Being under PHAU means an official is “floating” or does not hold a post – he or she, however, typically still gets a salary.

Why did they hand in courtesy resignations? Senior police officials had little choice in the matter.

In early January 2023, Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos called on police generals and colonels to hand in their courtesy resignations in an effort to rid the Philippine National Police (PNP) of officials with alleged links to illegal drugs. Even as the move was deemed controversial, Abalos, who has administrative oversight of the PNP, pushed through with the campaign.

Abalos later announced in February 2023 the creation of an “independent” group that would go through the resignations and determine which ones to accept. The group included former PNP second in command and current Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong, then-PNP chief General Rodolfo Azurin, former defense chief and defeated 2022 senatorial candidate Gilbert Teodoro, and Office of the Presidential Adviser on Military Affairs Undersecretary for Police Affairs Isagani Nerez. Teodoro has since been appointed defense secretary.


Army deploys ‘spotters’ to protect NGCP towers vs saboteurs

Posted to the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 25, 2023): Army deploys ‘spotters’ to protect NGCP towers vs saboteurs (By: Edwin O. Fernandez)

Troops inspect the bombed NGCP Tower No. 39 in Barangay Batulawan, Pikit, Cotabato on Sunday, July 23. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY THE PHILIPPINE ARMY

PIKIT, COTABATO – Military authorities here have deployed “spotters” and lookouts to foil attempts by extremists to bomb power lines in Cotabato and nearby areas, an Army official said.

Lt. Colonel Rowel Gavinales, commander of the Army’s 90th Infantry Battalion based here, said this came about after an attempt by armed groups to bomb one of the transmission towers of the National Grid Corporation (NGCP) in Sitio Punol, Barangay Batulawan in Pikit town of Cotabato province on Saturday.

Police and military authorities inspected NGCP’s Tower No. 39 which was bombed in Barangay Batulawan and found that although the twin blasts caused minor damage, these did not affect the structure’s integrity, Gavinales said.

Inspecting bomb experts also recovered one improvised explosive device (IED) fashioned from 81mm mortars on site.

“The bombs were attached to its braces and not on the four legs of the steel tower, thus the structure remained,” Gavinales said, adding that this was an indication those who installed these were not really after the toppling of the tower but were “sending a message” to the company.

He said it was the same tower where three IEDs were set off on June 12 this year allegedly by members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

The structure only suffered minor damage.

Gavinales said his unit employed locals living near power transmission towers to help authorities suppress economic sabotage.

Barangay Batulawan of Pikit was one of the 63 barangays in Cotabato province that opted to be part of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and is now part of the expanded autonomous region’s Special Geographic Area.

On Sunday afternoon, a three-hour power service interruption hit consumers in the provinces of Cotabato, Maguindanao del Norte, and Cotabato City, not because of the bombing but due to technical failure, the NGCP said.

Portions of the 69 KV line in Barangay Abaga, Libungan, Cotabato province sagged and fell across the national highway near a gas station, triggering a five-hour brownout in the province. Power was restored at about 10 p.m.


Bulatlat: Explosions in Kalinga community cause fear, anxiety

Propaganda article posted to the pro-CPP/NDF/NPA online propaganda outlet Bulatlat (Jul 25, 2023): Explosions in Kalinga community cause fear, anxiety (By SINAG JOAQUIN)

Brgy. Captain Lucina Minao points to the area where the bomb was dropped near the Gawaan Elementary School. (Photo by Sinag Joaquin / Bulatlat)

In his second State of the Nation Address, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was silent on human rights issues during his administration. Meanwhile, indigenous peoples of Gawaan, Balbalan, Kalinga stressed that their community was bombed twice in March 2023.

BALBALAN, Kalinga – In his 67 years of living in this quaint inner village roughly 12 hours away from Metro Manila, Cosme Dumag said that it was his first time to hear an intense, defeaning sound.

“The bomb caused our house to shake,” he said as he described how a bombing incident awakened the neighborhood in the wee hours of March 5, 2023.

Bulatlat interviewed Dumag, a coffee farmer, on July 10 (Sunday) during the relief operations led by the Serve the People Brigade-Cordillera for the people of Gawaan.

Dumag said that it took him three hours (or around 5:00 a.m.) before he went outside. While roaming with his neighbors to check where the bomb dropped, Dumag said that they were suddenly held by soldiers who ordered them to keep still until around 2:00 p.m. They were told that an encounter was ongoing. “We had nothing to do [with the bombing], why were we held?” he asked.

According to human rights group Karapatan, they have documented at least 6,931 incidents of counterinsurgency related bombings a year into the Marcos Jr. administration. The group said that indiscriminate bombings and strafing also displaced families as “they are forced to evacuate and leave their crops and farm animals untended for long periods.”

Since that day, Dumag said the farmers in the neighborhood felt so threatened that they were unable to tend to their farms. The frightening mood worsened when four days later (March 9), another bomb was dropped near the Gawaan Elementary School around 3:00 p.m. in the middle of classes.

Dumag, who is also one of the village councilors, said that this incident caused panic among the students and teachers. “The children cried and scampered in all directions. Their parents had to take them home.”

The bombing incident has also caused anxiety among the children, Dumag added. “They would cry at the sound of an airplane or any loud sound. They are frightened even at the sound of any object falling.”

Rita Calangngao shows photos of her carabao she found dead one month after the bombings in Gawaan. (Photo by Sinag Joaquin / Bulatlat)

Balbalan Mayor responds

Fear and anxiety have crippled the livelihood in their community four months since the bombings happened. Dumag found it puzzling how the local government can dismiss the incident as a mere “counterinsurgency effort” based on an open letter from Balbalan Mayor Almar Malannag posted on the Banat Balbalan Facebook page on July 10, 7:59 a.m., the morning before the relief mission volunteers reached Gawaan.

The letter was in response to several inquiries regarding a post of the Kabataan Partylist on its official Facebook page that called for donations for the people of Gawaan and Poswoy. According to the post, “the tribes of Salegseg, Gubang and Mabaca were unable to farm due to restrictions imposed on them by Philippine Army troops. Their ancestral lands were also under attack through indiscriminate aerial bombings and artillery firing as their locality, Balbalan, has been declared as a focus state of counterinsurgency operations by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”

In response, Mayor Malannag in an open letter said, “[A]ll genuine efforts to extend a helping hand to Balbalan communities affected by counterinsurgency efforts are nothing but welcomed, it is important however to do so without spreading inaccurate, bordering false, information.”

The mayor said that the fact-finding report dated April 3, 2023 of the Commission on Human Rights led by lawyer Joecle Dongla concluded that there was no evidence of indiscriminate bombings during the military operations.

According to the mayor, the CHR report allegedly confirmed military claims that “no bomb exploded near the Gawaan Elementary School and nearby residential areas.” What exploded nearby, quoting again the CHR report, was “white phosphorus and not bombs.” The report also cited Lt. Ferdinand Pulalon of the Philippines Army’s 50th Infantry Battalion, who said that the white phosphorus “is used as a military marker which signifies the limit of military operations in a particular area.”

Bulatlat requested a copy of the report from CHR but has not been furnished as of press time.

The mayor added in his response letter: “Plainly looking at the area alone will confirm the absence of bombs or any damage that could have resulted from bombings near schools or the residences.”

Dead carabao

The mayor’s statement and the CHR report only left a blank stare on Rita Calangngao’s face. The 54-year-old farmer from Gawaan lost her carabao due to the explosions. Calangngao told Bulatlat she was not able to tend to her carabao as she feared going out. It was only after a month since March 5 that they were allowed to visit their farms and it was only then that she saw her lifeless carabao. It turned out, she said that one of the bombs exploded on their pasteur land while the carabao was nearby.

Calangngao said the army offered to pay for the carabao but she has not received payment as of July 10.

Meanwhile, village chief Lucina Manao, 66, said that she hardly felt and heard the bombings on March 5 as she was sound asleep. She said that she only knew of the bombings when people started talking during the following day.

Manao, however, confirmed that there was an explosion near the Gawaan Elementary School on March 9 which forced the children to stay away from school for three straight days. Due to the children’s undue stress, Manao requested the municipal health officer, Dr. Rosel Calma, to conduct a debriefing for the students and even the elderly.

Manao said that the military restricted the people’s routines. In fact, she said the farmers have found it obligatory to ask permission from the army’s battalion commander when they go out on field.

Manao said the commanding post when the bombings happened was from the 501st Infantry Brigade which was replaced by the 503rd IB in May 2023.

Mission accomplished

Despite efforts from the 5th Infantry Division (ID) of the Philippine Army to pressure local government to deny the Serve the People Brigade-Cordillera entry to Gawaan, the relief mission organizers reported on their Facebook page on July 17 that the delivery of goods to the people of Gawaan was done.

Lulu Jimenez of the Aliansa dagiti Pesante iti Kordiliera (APIT TAKO) and STPB coordinator for peasant communities said in a statement that the relief mission was completed “only because the communities and farmers’ associations in Gawaan and Poswoy exercised their collective will and secured the cooperation of their local officials.”

The relief mission delivered goods to Poswoy on July 9, a day ahead of Gawaan. Poswoy folk also reported community restrictions due to firefights between government forces and the New People’s Army (NPA).

“The communities were anticipating a shortage of food because they had suffered significant crop losses resulting from restrictions that had been imposed by the soldiers of the 5th ID on their farming activities during its counterinsurgency operations. The battalion commander’s attempt to block our delivery of relief was an added transgression of the communities’ socio-economic rights,” Gimenez said in the statement. (JJE, RVO, DAA)


NTF-ELCAC: Amnesty for ex-rebels proves gov't commitment to peace

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 25, 2023): NTF-ELCAC: Amnesty for ex-rebels proves gov't commitment to peace (By Priam Nepomuceno)

(PNA photo by Joey Razon)

MANILA – The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Secretariat lauded President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s announcement that he will be issuing a proclamation granting amnesty to all rebel returnees as this highlights the government's commitment to achieving peace.

"The NTF-ELCAC Secretariat welcomes the message of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr's call to our Congress, to support the granting of amnesty to our rebel returnees. This reflects our country's commitment to achieving unity, peace, and development amidst the challenges posed by communist terrorism that has long plagued our country and impacted our economy," NTF-ELCAC National Secretariat executive director Undersecretary Ernesto C. Torres Jr. said in a statement late Monday.

He added that this amnesty initiative will bolster the NTF-ELCAC's call for the remaining armed combatants to lay down their weapons and embrace the path to peace.

"It will make the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program more inclusive and more appealing to the remnants of the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front) for them to rebuild their lives and contribute to our nation's development," Torres noted.

The anti-insurgency body also said it remains steadfast to its goal to end local communist armed conflict and urged all government agencies, local government units and the entire citizenry to support the President's call for peace.

"Let us come together as one nation in our commitment to end local communist armed conflict and achieve unity, peace, and development that the Filipino people rightfully deserve.

During his second State of the Nation Address, the Chief Executive said he will issue a proclamation granting amnesty to rebel returnees and requested the help of Congress to make it happen.

"To complete this reintegration process, I will issue a Proclamation granting amnesty to rebel returnees, and I ask Congress to support me in this endeavor," Marcos emphasized.

A new proclamation is needed to extend the application process of the amnesty program, which lapsed in January this year. The previous proclamations were issued during the time of former president Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Marcos earlier appointed Leah Tanodra-Armamento as chairperson and Jamar Kulayan and Nasser Marahomsalic as commissioners of the National Amnesty Commission.


CPP rejects Marcos amnesty offer

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 25, 2023): CPP rejects Marcos amnesty offer (By: John Eric Mendoza)

A flag bearing the logo of the CPP-NPA. (File photo from the Philippine Army)

MANILA, Philippines — The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) “firmly” rejected on Tuesday the offer of amnesty made by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in his second State of the Nation Address.

The president’s offer is backed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“The Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army will firmly reject Marcos’s treacherous offer of amnesty and surrender,” CPP spokesperson Marco Valbuena said in a statement.

“The revolutionary cause for genuine national freedom and social justice is far greater than any Marcos offer of amnesty. Revolutionaries are motivated not by the selfish desire for some personal gain, rather by the selfless devotion to serve and struggle with the people.”

Valbuena said that Marcos was “seriously mistaken” to think that the NPA would “line up to gain a few individual concessions in exchange for giving up the much bigger people’s cause which they have committed themselves to.”

Established on March 29, 1969, the NPA had 25,000 members at its height around 1987, according to an AFP estimate.

To date, the NPA is present in around 200 barangays with 1,800 members, according to the AFP.


Philippines designates Communist Party members as terrorists

Posted to the European Sanctions Website (Jul 25, 2023): Philippines designates Communist Party members as terrorists (By Maya Lester KC)

On 13 July 2023 the Philippine Government’s Anti-Terrorism Council designated 6 individuals as terrorist members of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) (press release):
  • Sarah Abellon Alikes, Secretary of the Regional White Area Committee of the CPP-NPA’s Ilocos Cordillera Regional Committee (ICRC);
  • Jennifer R. Awingan, Secretary of the Regional Urban White Area Committee (RUWAC) of the CPP’s ICRC;
  • Windel Balag-ey Bolinget, member of the Cordillera White Area Committee (CWAC) of the CPP-NPA;
  • Stephen Ambucay Tauli, First Deputy Secretary of CWAC, RUWAC of the CPP’s ICRC;
  • Jovencio Sannadan Tangbawan, Commanding Officer of the Kilusang Larangang Gerilya of North Abra; and
  • May Rodriguez Vargas-Casilao, Plenary Member of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee of the CPP-NPA.

PBBM's second State of the Nation Address (Full Copy)

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 25, 2023): PBBM's second State of the Nation Address (Full Copy)




[Delivered at the Session Hall of the House of Representatives, Batasang Pambansa Complex, Quezon City on July 24, 2023]

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. delivers his second State of the Nation Address on July 24, 2023. (PNA photo by Joey Razon)

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Allow me to greet Vice President Sara Zimmerman Duterte; the former Presidents – our former Presidents, President Joseph Ejercito Estrada and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and the Honorable Members of the Senate; House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and the Honorable Members of the House of Representatives; Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo and the Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court; His Excellency, Most Reverend Charles John Brown and the esteemed members of the Diplomatic Corps; Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin and the members of the Cabinet; First Lady Louise Araneta-Marcos [applause]; former First Lady, First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos [applause]; other distinguished guests; mga minamahal kong kababayan; ladies and gentlemen, magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat.

One year ago today, I stood here before you, setting forth the plans that we have to improve our economy, bring jobs to our people, improve the ease of doing business, recalibrate our educational system to adapt to the new economy, lower and rationalize energy costs, boost agricultural production, enhance healthcare, and continue social programs for the poor and the vulnerable.

Let me now report to the people on the successes that we can now lay claim to, and also the challenges that we continue to face.

Last year, we emphasized certain strong headwinds that were confronting us along with the rest of the world in our post-pandemic economic recovery.

And the biggest problem that we encountered was inflation.

Maraming kaganapan sa mundo ang nakapagpagulo sa maayos na takbo ng pandaigdigang merkado. Bukod sa digmaan sa Ukraine, naroon ang patuloy na epekto ng pandemya. Pinalala pa ito ng pagbabawas ng produksyon ng mga bansang pinagkukuhanan natin ng langis. Nang tumaas ang presyo nito, nagsunuran na rin ang presyo ng iba’t ibang bilihin— ang gasolina, ang kuryente, at ang pagkain.

Ramdam sa buong daigdig, pati na sa Pilipinas, ang naging pagtaas ng mga presyo ng bilihin noong mga nakalipas na buwan.

Sinuri nating mabuti ang sitwasyon. Sa tulong ng ating mga ekonomista, nakapagbalangkas tayo ng mga polisiya na magsisilbing pundasyon ng ating ekonomiya sa mga susunod na taon. Ito ay nakasaad sa ating Medium-Term Fiscal Framework, na sinuportahan ninyo sa Kongreso.

Kasabay nito ang paglulunsad ng mga istratehiya na magpapalakas sa kakayahan ng ating mga kababayan at mga sektor ng ating ekonomiya.

Nakakita po tayo ng magagandang resulta.

While the global prospects were bleak, our economy posted a 7.6 percent growth in 2022—our highest growth rate in 46 years. [applause] For the first quarter of this year, our growth has registered at 6.4 percent. It remains within our target of 6 to 7 percent for 2023. We are still considered to be among the fastest-growing economies in the Asian region and in the world. [applause] It is a testament to our strong macroeconomic fundamentals.

Our financial system, the nerve center of our economy, remains strong and stable. Banks, the transmission arms of our monetary policy, have strong capital and liquidity positions.

Stimulated by the relaxation of pandemic restrictions, transactions once again have flourished—alongside the booming e-commerce that was undeterred by the pandemic. In 2022, the digital economy contributed 2 trillion pesos, the equivalent of 9.4 percent of our GDP. The economy is revived and rejuvenated, backstopped by a favorable enabling environment and the strong rule of law.

This year, the World Bank projects a 6 percent overall growth rate, well within the range of our target for the year. It is anchored on strong local demand, underpinned by consumer spending, and draws strength from the BPO industry, and of course, the steady flow of remittances, and the continuing jobs recovery.

Inflation rate is moving in the right direction. From 8.7 percent in January, our inflation has continued to ease up in all regions, settling now at 5.4 percent for June. What this means is that in spite of all the difficulties, we are transforming the economy. We are stabilizing the prices of all critical commodities.

According to the Bangko Sentral, inflation is expected to ease further by the close of the year, and projected at 2.9 percent by 2024. [applause]

On matters of the economy, there are many things over which we have no control. But over those where we do have control, we are doing everything we can.

Puspusan ang ating ginagawa upang pataasin ang produksyon ng ating ekonomiya. Pinapalago natin ang mga industriya. Dinadagdagan natin ang mga imprastraktura upang mas mapabilis ang daloy ng mga produkto at ng serbisyo. Higit sa lahat, pinapalakas natin ang kakayahan ng mga mamamayan upang mapaganda nila ang kanilang pamumuhay. Ito ang puno’t dulo ng ating Philippine Development Plan.

Investments in public infrastructure and in the capacity of our people—through food, education, health, jobs, and social protection—remain our top priority. For this year, economic and social services were allocated almost 70% of the national budget.

Higher revenue collections will be critical in our bid to bolster public investments. Under our fiscal framework, we envision our tax and revenue efforts to further increase, to up to 16.9 percent and 17.3 percent by 2028.

Revenue generation has improved this year. From January to May, the Bureau of Internal Revenue has posted record collections, amounting to 1.05 trillion pesos, an increase of almost 10 percent over the last year. For its part, the Bureau of Customs has also increased its collection by 7.4 percent for the first seven months of 2023, amounting to 476 billion pesos. Since July 2022, we have seen increased revenues from PAGCOR of 47.9 percent, and from the PCSO of
20 percent.

We therefore seek once again the continued support of Congress to enact into law the policies and reforms under our fiscal framework.

Sa mga nakalipas na buwan, nakita natin ang pagbaba ng presyo ng bilihin sa iba’t ibang mga sektor.

Napatunayan natin na kayang maipababa ang presyo ng bigas, karne, isda, gulay, at asukal.

Malaking tulong ang KADIWA stores na ating muling binuhay at inilunsad. Ang layunin ng KADIWA ay pag-ugnayin ang mga magsasaka at ang mga mamimili. Walang iba pang namamagitan. Walang dagdag na gastos at patong. Maganda ang kita ng magsasaka. Nakakatipid din ang mga mamimili.

Sa mahigit pitong libong KADIWA na idinaos sa buong Pilipinas, 1.8 milyon na na pamilya ang nakinabang sa mababang presyo ng bilihin. Sa kabuuan, halos pitong-daang milyon piso ang naging benta ng mga ito, na nakapagbigay ng hanapbuhay sa mga miyembro ng mahigit tatlong libo na kooperatiba at samahan.

Maganda ang nakita nating resulta, kaya papalawigin pa natin ang KADIWA sa buong bansa. [applause] Kamakailan lamang ay nagsanib-puwersa na ang mga ahensiya ng pamahalaan upang lalo pang patibayin ang KADIWA. Katuwang natin dito ang buong sektor ng agrikultura at ang lokal na pamahalaan.

Our aim is to boost our local agricultural production—through consolidation, modernization, mechanization, and improvement of value chains—augmented by timely and calibrated importation, as needed.

Nakita nating tumaas nang 2.2 percent ang sektor ng agrikultura sa unang tatlong buwan ng taong ito.

In our quest for food security, our methods are now more guided by science and the balance of nature, so that production is both sustainable and responsible, benefiting both this and future generations.

Our Fisheries Code must be revised to incorporate and strengthen science-based analysis and determination of fishing areas. This approach will protect both the interests of our fisherfolk and our fisheries and aquatic resources.

To this end, we will seek the support of Congress to amend the Code to guarantee sustainable development of our fisheries sector in harmony with environmental balance. [applause]

Ipinagbubuklod natin ang mga magsasaka, sa pamamagitan ng farm and fisheries clustering at mga livestock multiplier farms. Tatlong daang clusters na ang ating natukoy na binubuo ng halos siyam na raang kooperatiba, at may lawak na mahigit dalawang-daang libong ektarya ng bukirin.

Upang mas mapabilis at mas mapadali ang pagbuo ng kooperatiba, kakailanganin natin ang suporta ng Kongreso na maamyendahan ang Cooperative Code. [applause]

Sa pamamagitan nito, unti-unting lalakas ang kanilang produksyon at puwersa sa merkado. Totoo ang kasabihan: mas malakas basta’t sama-sama!

Pinapalawak natin ang kanilang kaalaman sa makabagong mga teknolohiya at pamamaraan. Isa na rito ang paggamit ng bio-fertilizers, na gawa sa Pilipinas at subok din at maaasahan. Sa balanced fertilizer strategy, gaganda ang ani ng mga magsasaka. Hindi na nila kailangan pang umasa sa mas mahal at imported na fertilizer. [applause]

Bilang tulong sa mga magsasaka, namigay ang pamahalaan ng mahigit dalawampu’t walong libong mga makabagong makinarya at mga kagamitan sa iba’t ibang dako ng Pilipinas.

Sa ilalim ng iba’t ibang mga programa ng Kagawaran ng Agrikultura, namigay ang pamahalaan ng mahigit na limampung milyong binhi ng palay, mahigit isang milyong binhi ng mais, at sari-saring mga binhi ng gulay. Nagpamigay tayo ng mahigit isandaang libong binhi ng niyog at nagpatanim sa halos sampunlibong ektarya ng lupa sa buong bansa.

Lahat ng mga binhing ito ay makabago, hybrid, at mataas ang kalidad.

Sa naging pagtaas ng presyo ng gasolina at pataba, nagdala ng kaunting ginhawa ang mga fuel at fertilizer discount vouchers na ating pinamigay sa mga nahihirapang magsasaka. Ang mga natanggap nating donasyon na pataba mula sa Tsina, ipinamigay na natin kaagad sa kanila.

Isa sa mga dahilan ng pagtaas ng presyo ay ang mga smugglers, mga hoarders at nagmamanipula ng presyo ng produktong agrikultural. Hinahabol at ihahabla natin sila. [applause] Sadyang hindi tama ang kanilang gawain at hindi rin ito tugma sa ating magandang layunin. Pandaraya ang kanilang ginagawa. Napapahamak hindi lamang ang mga magsasaka, kundi tayo na ring mga mamimili. Kaya hindi natin papayagan ang ganitong kalakaran. [applause] Bilang na ang mga araw ng mga smugglers at hoarders na ‘yan. [applause and cheers]

Mahalaga ang imprastraktura para masuportahan ang may labing-apat na milyong ektarya ng sakahan. Inayos natin ang Geo-Agri map ng mga farm-to-market roads ng buong bansa upang maidugtong mabuti ang mga sakahan sa mga pamilihan. Alinsunod dito, karagdagang anim na raang kilometro ng mga FMRs ang ating nilatag sa iba’t ibang panig ng bansa.

Binigyan din natin ng patubig ang mahigit na apatnapu’t siyam na libong ektarya ng bukirin sa buong Pilipinas.

Nagpagawa tayo ng halos apat na libong mga karagdagang fabrication labs, production at cold storage facilities na magagamit ng lahat. Sa tulong ng Kongreso, nakapagpatayo tayo ng dalawampu’t apat na multi-species hatcheries upang maparami ang produksyon ng mga isda.

Nakabantay tayo sa anumang banta ng mga sakit at peste na maaaring dumapo sa mga pananim at alagang hayop. Malapit na tayong magkaroon ng mga epektibong gamot at bakuna laban sa mga ito. Samantala, pinapalakas natin ang bio-security levels ng mga alagang hayop bilang panlaban sa sakit.

Tayo rin ay naghahanda sa El Niño na nagbabadyang tumama sa mga darating na buwan. Nagsimula na tayong maghanda, at ang mga buffer stocks at ang mga kagamitang patubig ay inihahanda na. Kung kinakailangan, magsasagawa pa tayo ng cloud-seeding upang makapagdala ng ulan. Kasabay ng lahat ng ito, hinihimok din natin ang ating sambayanan na magtipid ng tubig para sa malawakang paghahanda sa banta ng tagtuyot.

Tulad ng ating ipinangako, ipinagpatuloy natin ang repormang pansakahan. Mahalagang haligi ito ng sektor ng agrikultura na ating inaayos. Nitong nakalipas na taon, mahigit pitumpong-libong titulo ng lupa ang ginawad sa mga benepisyaryo ng repormang agraryo. [applause]

Tamang-tama ang ating pagpapatigil ng mga bayarin ng mga benepisyaryo sa ilalim ng ating nilagdaang EO No. 4. Isang taon mula noong aking unang SONA, naisabatas na ang bagong Agrarian Emancipation Act. [applause] Dahil dito, ang 57 bilyong pisong utang na pinapasan ng mahigit anim na raang libong benepisyaryo ay tuluyan nang nabura. [applause]

Sa ngalan ng mga magsasakang ito at ang kanilang mga pamilya, maraming salamat muli sa ating mga mambabatas. [applause]

Ang tubig ay kasing-halaga rin ng pagkain. Kailangan nating tiyakin na may sapat at malinis na tubig para sa lahat at sa mga susunod na salinlahi. Kasama na rito ang tubig na ginagamit natin para sa sakahan.

Considering its fundamental importance, water security deserves a special focus. Our efforts must not be scattershot, but rather, cohesive, centralized, and systematic.

So given that urgency, we have created the Water Resources Management Office to specifically handle the delicate job involving this most precious resource. Nakikipag-ugnayan tayo sa Kongreso upang maipasa ang batas para sa pagbuo ng isang Department of Water Resource Management. [applause]

This year, we have allocated 14.6 billion pesos for water supply projects, which will benefit communities all over the country. Recently, the water supply of NCR and Rizal received a significant boost from the first phase of the Wawa Bulk Water Supply Project. The water supply will increase as the Project enters the second phase.

We have installed six thousand rainwater collection systems across the country, in preparation for the looming dry spell brought about by El Niño.

One of the keys to continuing economic growth is infrastructure development. So, we will build better, and more. Our 8.3-trillion peso “Build Better More” Program is currently in progress and being vigorously implemented. [applause]

Ang buong bansa ay makikinabang sa isandaan at siyamnapu’t apat na proyekto sa ilalim ng Programang ito.

Hindi lamang natin ipinagpapatuloy ang mga nasimulan ng mga proyekto. Lalo pa nating pinapalawak. Kaya naman, ang isangdaan at dalawampu’t tatlong proyekto dito sa Build-Better-More program ay bago.

The flagship projects cover investments in the areas of physical connectivity, water resources, agriculture, health, digital connectivity, and energy. Physical connectivity infrastructure—such as roads, bridges, seaports, airports, and mass transport—accounts for 83 percent of this program. Our infrastructure spending will stay at 5 to 6 percent of our GDP. [applause]

The underlying logic to our infrastructure development is economic efficiency. We are opening up all gateways to mobilize goods and services at less cost and in less time, and ultimately, to drive the economy forward.

Our road network plans must link not only our 3 major islands, but all prospective sites of economic development.

The 1,200-kilometer Luzon Spine Expressway Network Program will effectively connect Ilocos to Bicol from 20 hours to just 9 hours of travel. [applause and cheers]

Under the Mega-Bridge Program, 12 bridges totaling 90 kilometers will be constructed, connecting islands and areas separated by waters. The Program notably includes the Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge [applause] and the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Island Bridges [applause], each spanning 32 kilometers, and also the Samal Island-Davao City Connector Bridge. [applause]

As of June this year, we have constructed, maintained, and upgraded more than 4,000 kilometers of roads and around 500 bridges across the country. Crucial airport and port development projects across the country have also been completed, including Cebu’s Pier 88 smart port, and the new passenger terminal buildings of Clark Airport and the Port of Calapan.

We initiated several railway projects, with a total length of more than 1,000 kilometers. Notably, the southern leg of the North-South Commuter Railway System is now in full swing. In a few years, travel from Pampanga to Laguna will be reduced from 4 hours to just 2. [applause]

Inter-modal connectivity will also be a primary consideration. Roads, bridges and mass transport systems will be interconnected. This network will provide access and passage to vital and bustling economic markets, such as agriculture hubs, tourism sites, and key business districts.

For strategic financing, some of the nation’s high-priority projects can now look to the newly established Maharlika Investment Fund, without the added debt burden.

In pooling a small fraction of the considerable but underutilized government funds, the Fund shall be used to make high-impact and profitable investments, such as the Build-Better-More program. The gains from the Fund shall be reinvested into the country’s economic well-being.

To ensure sound financial management, a group of internationally recognized economic managers shall oversee the operations of the Fund, guided by principles of transparency and accountability. This guarantees that investment decisions will be based on financial considerations alone, absent any political influence. [applause]

The funds for the social security and public health insurance of our people shall remain intact and separate.

Owing to favorable market conditions, the price of crude oil has stabilized. Since last year, gasoline and diesel prices have gone down by 18 to 29 percent, respectively.

We have built 8 new additional power plants. This brings to 17 the total number of power generation facilities that have been switched on across the country since last year, substantially increasing our energy production by 1,174 megawatts.

Alongside power generation, we are also as relentless in pursuing total electrification. Since my assumption into office, almost half a million homes have been given access to electricity. We will spare no effort to achieve full household-electrification by the end of my term. 100% is within our reach. [applause]

When it comes to energy, renewable energy is the way forward. We are aggressively promoting renewables, so that it provides a 35 percent share in the power mix by 2030, and then on to 50 percent by 2040. To accelerate the realization of this green energy goal, we have opened renewable energy projects to foreign investments.

Since last year, an additional 126 renewable energy contracts with potential capacity of 31,000 megawatts have been awarded. To date, we have over a thousand active projects spread all over the country: 299 of these are solar; 187 are wind; 436 are hydroelectric; 58 biomass; 36 geothermal; and 9 are ocean-powered.

The Malampaya project has been a boon to our country, energizing 20 percent of Luzon. The renewal of the contract guarantees continued revenues and energy production for another 15 years. But aside from Malampaya, we will also push for more gas exploration in other parts of the country.

The national government has also partnered with the BARMM in regard to energy exploration and development, and also its utilization within its territorial jurisdiction. We therefore expect to see renewed investor interest in its promising sites.

We finally have a Unified National Grid, with the interconnection of the Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao grids. The “One Grid, One Market” will enable more efficient transfers and more competitive pricing of electricity throughout the country.

However, 68 grid connections are much delayed, according to the ERC’s count. We are conducting a performance review of our private concessionaire, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines. [applause] We look to NGCP to complete all of its deliverables, starting with the vital Mindanao-Visayas and Cebu-Negros-Panay interconnections. [applause]

Habang pinapabuti natin ang lagay ng ekonomiya, pinapalakas din natin ang kakayahan ng Pilipino. Ito ay sa pamamagitan ng mahahalagang armas ng edukasyon, magandang kalusugan, at trabaho. Malaking bahagi ng pondo ng pamahalaan ay inilaan para sa mga ito.

Sa ating pagtahak sa kaunlaran, walang mamamayang Pilipino ang maiiwanan. [applause] Para sa atin, ang bawat buhay ay mahalaga—anuman ang edad, kasarian, pangkat, relihiyon, o pisikal na kundisyon. Sila ay kukupkupin at tutulungan.

Naglaan tayo ng sapat na pondo para sa mga paglingap ng mga lubos na nangangailangan. Layunin natin na sila ay makabangon, mabigyan ng sapat na kakayahan, at maging produktibo.

Hindi lamang DSWD, kundi pati ang DOLE, ang DepEd, TESDA, at CHED, ay tumutulong sa ating mga kababayang nangangailangan. Ang AICS, TUPAD, TVET for Social Equity, Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens, at ang Cash-for-Work para sa mga PWDs ay ilan lamang sa mga mahahalagang programa ng pamahalaan para sa kanila. Nariyan din ang Integrated Livelihood Program-Kabuhayan upang matulungan ang mga maliliit na negosyo.

We are inclusive in our pursuit of social protection. The pension of the military and the uniformed personnel is as important, as urgent, and as humanitarian as that of all other civilian Filipino employees. Efforts are underway to make it fully functional and financially sustainable. We are once again working closely with Congress to ease the transition from the old system to the new one, so as to be able to guarantee that no effects are felt by those in the uniformed services. [applause]

Nagsisimula ang lahat sa edukasyon. Ito ay para palakasin ang isip at kakayahan ng bawat Pilipino.

Ang ating butihing Bise-Presidente, na Kalihim din ng Kagawaran ng Edukasyon, ay tumutulong upang tiyakin na ang bawat batang Pilipino ay mabibigyan ng nararapat at kalidad na edukasyon. [applause]

We have renewed hope in giving the best to our next batches of students, especially the 28.4 million learners who returned to school this year. Learning recovery will be at the forefront of our education agenda.

The MATATAG Agenda for basic education has been launched, focusing on relevance of curriculum, rapid and responsive delivery, and the welfare of both learners and teachers.

We are augmenting as well our school workforce.

90 percent of the newly created teaching positions have now been filled, while additional administrative personnel have been hired to unburden the teachers of any extra load.

Taking to heart the lessons of the pandemic, alternative delivery modes and blended learning methodologies have been adopted to ensure unhampered learning. Additional social safety nets, such as school-based feeding programs, are also being implemented.

Learners will be made more resilient. Our public schools and facilities are being increased and fortified.

The shortage of classrooms and facilities is being addressed. Aside from new constructions, schools and facilities are being retrofitted to become ready for the future—ready for hybrid and high-tech learning, and also climate-ready and disaster-proof. [applause] Through the DepEd Partnership Assistance Portal, private sector partners continue their assistance in the rehabilitation and improvement of schools, as part of their corporate social responsibility programs.

We are recalibrating the K to 10 curriculum to ensure that it is always relevant, responsive, and at par with international standards. [applause] Literacy and numeracy skills need to be strengthened. The virtue of good citizenship and sense of community are also now integrated into our curriculum.

We continue to exhaust all efforts to keep our young people away from the sinister influences in the dark corners of society. We are making available to them their participation in formal schooling, alternative learning, non-diploma courses, or in technical-vocational education and training or TVET.

TVET continues to prove itself to be an empowering educational intervention. There are many examples of how its graduates have gone on to secure competitive technical jobs.

Since last year, more than a million Filipinos graduated from the TVET, one-third of whom were TESDA scholars. [applause]

More and more of our higher education institutions (HEIs) have reached world-class status. This year, 52 Philippine HEIs have been included in the World Universities Rankings, compared to just 15 last year. [applause]

We will not let a student’s financial constraints be a hindrance to his or her education. We have activated social safety nets, such as skills development training and youth employment programs. Tertiary education in state universities and colleges will remain free for our qualified students. [applause]

Last year, out of the 4.1 million enrolled college students, almost 50 percent were beneficiaries of the country’s free higher education under the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education program.

Deserving and talented students without the financial capacity to attend school, will not be left behind in this education agenda.

A culture of innovation, working hand-in-glove with a culture of entrepreneurship, must be fostered. This is “FILIPINNOVATION”. Science and technology, especially R&D, will be at its foundation.

The DOST leads the development of our capabilities in science, technology, and innovation.

Science and technology-related scholarships are made available for the talented and technically-gifted students, from high school all the way to graduate school.

To address the challenge of staying at the cutting-edge of technology, 44 renowned Filipino scientists in diverse areas of expertise have returned home under the Balik-Scientist Program. They will undertake research in various priority fields, and will be supported by upgraded facilities and R&D funding. [applause]

The Philippines has launched 2 additional satellites into space. Together with the first satellite, they will track weather, predict storms, evaluate soil and water supplies, analyze shifts in population, and be used for traffic management, geo-hazard mapping, risk assessment, and even including security and defense.

Science, technology and innovation will drive the quality and competitiveness of our workforce, as well as our manufacturing, export, creative, and service industries, in existing markets and in new ones waiting to be explored.

The bane of the mismatch between jobs and skills among our workforce is being rectified through strengthened government-industry-labor-academe partnerships, and the continuous reskilling and upskilling training programs that we have put before our workforce.

For our seafarers to continue to excel, maritime education in the Philippines has been strengthened. This will progress and solidify our country’s position as a “global maritime hub”, through the steady supply of competent Filipino seafarers to foreign merchant marine vessels.

The question about the European Union’s recognition of the standards of training of Filipino seafarers has, after 17 years, finally been resolved. [applause] This development now effectively maintains the Filipino seafarer’s distinct competitive advantage in the global shipping labor market.

To address the current shortage of healthcare professionals in our country, and to help us achieve our goal of universal healthcare, we are greatly expanding our medical and nursing education programs. We will push the envelope even further. We are helping nursing graduates hurdle their board exams, so that they will obtain their licenses and join our pool of healthcare professionals. [applause]

Ang kalusugan ang ikalawang armas: para sa lakas ng pangangatawan ng bawat Pilipino. Isinu-sulong nating muli ang kalusugan ng Pilipino.

We are now refocusing our health priorities, applying the lessons learnt from the pandemic and addressing the weaknesses that it has exposed.

Healthier communities and lifestyles are our advocacy.

We have launched convergent programs to address hunger and nutrition-related issues amongst our people, especially the children, like stunting and wasting. Last week, we introduced the pilot Food Stamp Program (FSP), which seeks to supply the nutrition needs of the million most food-poor Filipinos. [applause]

The FSP shall complement our nutrition continuity programs, such as the First 1,000 Days program which ensures nourishment for the first three years of a child’s life. The Supplemental Feeding Program is for our children attending daycare centers. The K-to-6 Program will feed Kindergarten to Grade 6 public school students, who are suffering from wasting and severe malnutrition.

We are catching up on the routine vaccinations of our children. As of this year, more than 80 percent of our eligible children have been vaccinated against measles, rubella, and polio.

Nananawagan ako sa lahat ng mga magulang na kumpletuhin ang mga bakuna ng kanilang mga anak, at magtungo sa pinaka-malapit na health center para sa mga libreng bakuna. [applause]

The whole of society must exert efforts to suppress the alarming rise of tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. To stem the tide, the strategic plan is to ensure early diagnosis and treatment, and ample testing sites and medications.

Our healthcare system is undergoing structural changes.

Public health facilities are being increased, both in number and in capability. Last year, more than 3,400 projects were completed. To improve capacity for specialized medical treatment, specialty centers in various fields are being established and integrated into our government hospitals. In the last year, additional 60 specialty centers have been opened to the public.

Just last week, we inspected the site of what will soon be a 5-hectare multi-specialty center in Pampanga, which will specialize in pediatrics, cardiology, kidney, and cancer treatment. [applause]

We are working for a more direct, efficient delivery of services, through integrated primary care providers and networks, in partnership with the LGUs and our partners in the private sector. These shall of course be supported by what is now a better and more efficient PhilHealth.

Ang presyo ng mga mahahalaga at pangunahing gamot ay bumaba nang humigit-kumulang na apat-napung porsyento. Mayroon ding iba na bumaba hanggang siyam-napung porsyento.

Aside from the maximum retail price regulation being implemented, strategic VAT exemption also lowered the prices of 59 essential medications, such as those for cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and mental illness. [applause]

Palapit nang palapit na tayo sa hangarin na ang lahat ng Pilipino ay makakakuha ng serbisyong-pangkalusugan: sa ngayon, mahigit 93 percent na ang kasapi sa PhilHealth.

Sa pinagandang Konsulta Package ng PhilHealth, dalawampu’t isang klase ng mga gamot at labin-tatlong laboratory service ang ibibigay nang libre. Ngayon, mayroon na tayong mahigit dalawanlibong Konsultacenters sa buong bansa. Ang bilang na ito ay mas marami nang tatlumpu’t limang porsyento mula noong nakalipas na taon.

Upang mas lalo pang makatulong sa mga pasyente, ang dating siyam-napung libreng dialysis session ay inakyat na natin sa isandaan at limampu’t anim. [applause] Mga kababayan, libre na po ngayon ang dialysis para sa karamihan ng Pilipino. [applause]

Noong nakalipas na taon, mahigit 3.4 milyon na Pilipino ang nabigyan ng tulong sa ilalim ng Medical Assistance for Indigent Patients (MAIP) program ng DOH.

Tinutugunan natin ngayon ang ating kakulangan sa mga doktor at mga nars, sa pamamagitan ng mga reporma sa edukasyon, patuloy na pagsasanay, at paniniguro sa kanilang kapakanan.

Naglagay po tayo ng doktor sa halos dalawangdaang munisipyo sa bansa. Lalagyan natin din ng doktor ang natitirang labing-siyam na bayan na wala pang doktor. [applause]

Upang masuklian naman natin ang naging sakripisyo ng ating mga health workers sa pribado at pampubliko na mga ospital noong nakaraang pandemya, ipapamahagi na sa kanila ang kanilang COVID health emergency allowance at iba pang mga nabinbing benepisyo. [applause]

Kasabay ng pangangalaga natin sa edukasyon at kalusugan ng ating mamamayan, tinitiyak din natin na may sapat at magandang hanapbuhay—sa loob at maging sa labas ng bansa.

As of May this year, our employment rate rose to 95.7 percent, clear proof of the improvement from the severe unemployment that we experienced during the height of the pandemic. Employment then was at a low of 82.4 percent.

But even with our current high level of employment, we must do more. We will generate additional jobs for the remaining 4.3 percent of our workforce, as well as for the 11.7 percent underemployed Filipinos seeking better employment opportunities.

Under the banner of our fast-growing economy, we are aggressive in our investment and business promotions and facilitations. For that, we have not limited ourselves to the local economy, but we have looked to the global economy for partnerships and agreements.

Our independent foreign policy—a friend to all and enemy of none—has proven effective. We have formed strategic alliances with our traditional and newfound partners in the international community.

We have embarked on foreign trips to promote the interests of the country, for peace-building and for mutually beneficial purposes. Those economic missions have yielded an estimated total investment value of 3.9 trillion pesos or 71 billion US dollars with a potential to generate 175,000 jobs. [applause]

The implementation of recent economic reforms is underway. BOI-approved investment projects have reached 1.2 trillion pesos during our first year, while other strategic investments approved for processing through the newly established “green lanes” amount now to 230 billion pesos.

Our existing bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, notably within the ASEAN framework, and with Japan, and with Europe, allow us to leverage our competitive advantages and reap economic benefits. We will continue to forge more of these international partnerships that will lead to a more balanced trade strategy and a healthier economic position.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or RCEP is now in force. It is a multilateral trade arrangement with the ASEAN and other countries, such as Australia, China, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand. We can now have competitive access to a regional market that comprises two billion people.

As we address our weaknesses and develop competitiveness in other potential areas, we also must play to our strengths. Our competitive advantage must be leveraged. As a “service export powerhouse”, we must continue to nurture the growth of the services sector, particularly the Information Technology-Business Process Management (IT-BPM) sector and of course the tourism industry.

Our tourism has always been a reliable pillar of our economic growth through the years, providing livelihood to more than 5 million of our citizens. Because of the reopening of the economy, and the phenomenon of “revenge travel”, this sector is headed for a great rebound.

From January to June this year, we have received 3 million international visitors. This number is already 62 percent of our 4.8-million target for the entire year.

Mga kababayan, ang lahat ng mga ginagawa nating ito ay magbibigay-bunga sa libo-libong hanapbuhay para sa ating mga kababayan. [applause]

To create these investment opportunities, we must ensure that an enabling business environment is in place; that there is peace and order, and that the rule of law governs. We will solidify our country’s reputation as an attractive and reliable investment destination.

Building on institutional reforms of recent years, we have created “green lanes” for strategic investments, and expedited the business processes in various sectors and investment modalities.

A progressive and rationalized system of taxation is a component of the ease of doing business. The CREATE Law has made our corporate tax and incentive schemes equitable and business-friendly. There are more structural tax reforms that must be introduced to allow us to reach our socioeconomic targets.

Digitalization is the call of today; not the call of the future—but of the present. It is here. It is needed, and it is needed today.

Government must fully embrace digitalization to provide better service to the people, through its vital frontline services and its back-end functions.

Digitalization will support the government’s data-driven and science-based planning and decision-making. It is the greatest, most powerful tool, not just to improve the ease of doing business, but also against many forms of graft and corruption.

Data shows that digitalization, in conjunction with government’s streamlining efforts, has significantly boosted efficiency. Notable examples are in the areas of government payments, company and business registrations, issuance of permits and licenses, loan applications, and revenue collection.

All our digitalization efforts will be linked to our payment systems, whose digital transformation has been accelerating at a remarkable rate.

Digital payments accounted for 42 percent of the total retail payments made in 2022, whether by businesses or individuals or by the government. Its high trajectory is now well-positioned to achieve Bangko Sentral’s target of 50 percent of total retail payments by this year.

The eGov PH app has also been launched. As envisioned, all key government services are to be integrated into this single and centralized mobile app, for the convenience of the general public.

The National ID system will be at the core of this digitally transformed network of government services. It will fundamentally change the lives of each Filipino. At 87% total registration, we are now closer to establishing a complete, accurate, and reliable digital database of our own for the entire population. This has already been integrated into the eGov PH app, and can be now accessed by our citizens.

Consistent with this transformative policy direction, all government offices must then ensure that their vital services are digitalised immediately.

In response to this call, the Department of Migrant Workers launched last week the Department of Migrant Workers Mobile to make the journey of our Overseas Filipino Workers easier.

Because of system upgrades, our internet speed has improved. As of June of this year, our fixed broadband speed ranks 47th amongst 180 countries. This ranking is 11 places higher than it was in last year. [applause]

Our mobile internet speed is now ranked at 83 out of 142 countries, which is 8 places higher than it was last year.

There will be more improvements, as our internet infrastructure undergoes further upgrades. Early this year, Starlink went live in the Philippines, now providing high-speed satellite broadband connectivity. Our National Fiber Backbone and Broadband ng Masa projects will also deliver high-connectivity and high-speed internet. We are prioritising geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas.

The DICT has been directed to consolidate all these digitalised government services into the eGov PH app, to establish the National Government Portal and the Philippine Business Databank, to improve the internet speed in our country.

With our E-Commerce Roadmap firmly in place, we are poised to take this digitalization drive further and beyond, utilising e-commerce to take full advantage of new technologies.

The first bill that I signed into law was the SIM Registration Act because we are mindful of the risks and vulnerabilities that can lead to negative consequences. Digital users and consumers shall be protected from identity theft, phishing, other online scams, through essential systems and safeguards, such as cybersecurity, data privacy, consumer complaint mechanisms, and financial literacy campaigns.

The trainings necessary to ease the transition of those whose jobs would be affected by the shift to digitalization are also now being included in the curricula and programs offered by TESDA, DICT, and other agencies of government.

It is our wish that one day foreign employment will be driven by choice, not by necessity. It remains a noble calling that our OFWs have answered, requiring great sacrifice from them, their families, and their communities.

We are engaging with our partners in the international community to ensure a safe working environment for our countrymen. And as we do so, we are also putting in place responsive mechanisms for the social welfare, repatriation, and reintegration of our returning OFWs into the Philippine economy. [applause]

As the world economy reopens, we are witnessing a rise in overseas Filipino deployment. In 2022, the number has increased by 62 percent. OFWs continue to send in historically high remittances, solidifying their role in our transformative economic growth. In 2022, our OFWs contributed 32.5 billion dollars, or roughly 1.8 trillion pesos, to our economy.

Several countries have also signified interest to explore bilateral labor cooperation with the Philippines in the areas of healthcare, tourism, hospitality, engineering, construction, and information technology. Recently, we signed agreements with Singapore, Austria, and the province of Alberta in Canada.

Our priority is to ensure that the principles of ethical recruitment, fair employment, and the safe and orderly migration of our people, are embodied in our agreements with other countries.

For example, the deployment issue in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has now been resolved. And as of today, 70,000 of our OFWs have already been deployed to Saudi Arabia for employment. [applause]

Moreover, the unpaid salaries and other related claims of some 14,000 OFWs, who have been put out of work in Saudi Arabia during the pandemic, are now being processed. The Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia himself personally committed to me that the unpaid claims of Filipino workers would now be paid. [applause]

The continued employment of some 50,000 workers and the deployment of many more Filipino seafarers aboard EU vessels, has also been assured. The lesson for us is that our education and skills training must always be attuned to the high, exacting and constantly evolving global standards.

Sa pagsusumikap ng mga mamamayan, walang hindi kakayanin. Kahit ang mga matatayog na pangarap ay maaabot, kasama ang inaasam na tahanan.

Katuwang natin ang lokal na pamahalaan at pribadong sektor upang matulungan ang Pilipino sa pangangailangan na pabahay.

Patuloy ang serbisyo ng Pag-IBIG Fund upang makatulong sa kanyang labinlimang milyong miyembro para makabili ng bahay. Sa nakaraang taon, mahigit isang daang libo ang kumuha ng housing loan sa Pag-IBIG, na nagkaka-halaga ng 117 bilyon na piso. Ito ang pinakamataas na bilang sa buong kasaysayan ng Pag-IBIG. [applause]

Itong nakalipas na taon, mahigit 148,000 na kabahayan at mahigit tatlumpung libong mga certificates of eligibility of lot award ang naipamahagi sa Luzon, sa Visayas, at sa Mindanao—sa ilalim ng sari-saring mga programang pabahay ng pamahalaan.

Mahigit tatlumpu’t limanlibong residential free patent at agricultural patent titles naman ang naibigay sa mga benepisyaryo nito sa buong bansa.

Hindi pa dito natatapos. Papalawigin pa natin ang ating programa sa abot-kayang pabahay, lalo na para sa mga mahihirap nating kababayan. Itong nakalipas na taon, inilunsad natin ang Pambansang Pabahay Para sa Pilipino Housing Program o 4PH.

Nagkaroon na tayo ng groundbreaking sa dalawampu’t limang lugar sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng bansa. Nagpirmahan na rin ng kasunduan upang simulan ang mga proyekto sa mahigit isang daang lokasyon. Kung susumahin natin ito, mahigit isang milyong kabahayan ang maiaalay natin sa ating mga kababayan sa buong bansa. [applause]

The building blocks of progressive, livable and sustainable communities will never be complete without appropriate and responsible action to mitigate and to adapt to the effects of climate change.

We can never lose sight of our responsibility to the future. The economic agenda cannot and will not ever be incompatible with our climate change agenda.

Climate change is now an important criterion in our integral national policies, in planning, decision-making, up to the implementation of programs. The potential advantages of such enlightened policies extend to jobs and livelihood, with the unlocking of the development of the green and blue economies.

We have learned many painful lessons from past disasters but we continue to be alert and prepared in our disaster response. It has, in fact, been commented that sometimes we are over-prepared for such natural disasters. Well, to continue that, we are reorganizing our response teams to make them more adaptable, agile and effective in times of calamities and crises, with a clear unity of command.

Our evacuation centers are being upgraded to withstand the greater forces of the new normal of extreme weather, as well as other natural and man-made disasters. Furthermore, new evacuation centers are also being built, of which 55 have already been completed.

We remain committed to global decarbonization goals, and the reduction of our carbon footprint. We preserve and protect the treasure that is our forests. Their value to the environment, to the ecology, and the economy is incalculable.

We have adopted the concept of the “circular economy”, using nature as our model. The aim is to keep raw materials in a closed loop. In our world with scarce resources, the circular economy allows us to fully use these resources, minimize waste and reduce the need for new resources—just as it is in nature.

Just like our climate change action, this new system requires the participation of all sectors of society, up to each individual citizen, for it to succeed.

Only a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach will enable us to do all of these. It is necessary to apply all the resources that are at hand if we are to progress as quickly as we need to.

Collaboration is the key: between and among government offices; between government and the private sector; between industries and the academe; between government and international partners. And most importantly, collaboration between and among our populace.

Kakailanganin natin ang tulong at kakayahan ng buong pamahalaan at ng buong bansa.

And so, we shall do the same for the next 5 years. We seek not only to become more effective, but more, to become truly transformative.

This approach will be operationalized through inter-agency cooperations; as well as through coordinated efforts between and among the three branches of government, and the independent constitutional bodies. We have organized private sector advisory councils, and national-local mechanisms to establish the needed linkages.

Once again, on this same principle, I urge the government to enact a new Government Procurement Law and a new Government Auditing Code. [applause] This to make government procurement and auditing more attuned to these changing times.

We will give effect to the mandate of the Constitution and the Local Government Code, as clarified by the Supreme Court very soon. Almost all the required Devolution Transition Plans of the LGUs are done. To fully prepare them for optimal devolution, the necessary technical and financial assistance is being extended to our local governments.

In everything that we do, the enduring Filipino quality of Bayanihan will still be our guide.

Limang taon mula noong matinding kaguluhan, babangon na ang Marawi City. [applause] Nanunumbalik na ang sigla sa pamayanan. Maraming proyekto ang nakumpleto at mga imprastrakturang naitatayo. Kasalukuyan na tayong nagpoproseso ng tulong-pinansyal para sa mga biktima ng Marawi siege upang sila ay makapagsimula muli. Nawa’y mamayani ang pag-asa. Nawa’y magpatuloy ang pagkakaisa, pagmamatyag, at paghahangad ng kapayapaan at kaunlaran.

We are proud of the progress that the BARMM has taken. [applause] It will be self-governing, it will be progressive, and it will be effective.

But this was only made possible because of the cooperation of all key groups. We talked to the local governments, the royal families, the MNLF and the MILF were all consulted and represented in this transition phase. The international community has also supported us in this smooth transition. Former adversaries are now partners in peace. Its functions have been defined, and its basic laws are now being written.

Through the BARMM, we have strengthened the nation’s prospects for finally achieving sustainable progress anchored on a true and lasting peace in Southern Philippines. We will continue to support the progress of the BARMM, apace with our singular vision for all Filipinos. [applause]

A strong and stable rule of law will strengthen the foundation of our transformation.

Our Police and Armed Forces are being strengthened and modernized to be more effective in maintaining peace and order and in defending our sovereignty. We fully support the Judiciary’s efforts to improve the justice system and to protect constitutional rights.

The campaign against illegal drugs continues—but it has taken on a new face. [applause] It is now geared towards community-based treatment, rehabilitation, education, and reintegration, to curb drug dependence amongst our affected citizenry. Last year, we launched the Buhay Ingatan, Droga’y Ayawan or BIDA Program, and established additional 102 Balay Silangan Reformation Centers nationwide.

We will relentlessly continue our fight against drug syndicates, shutting down their illegal activities [applause] – we will shut down their activities and dismantle their network of operations.

Unscrupulous law enforcers and others involved in the highly nefarious drug trade have been exposed. I will be accepting their resignations. [applause and cheers] In their stead, we will install individuals with unquestionable integrity, who will be effective and trustworthy in handling the task of eliminating this dreaded and corrosive social curse. We cannot tolerate corruption or incompetence in government. [applause]

For almost half a century, some of our fellow Filipinos have taken to arms to make their views known and felt. We are now at a point in our history when their armed struggle has evolved. We have now progressed together towards peace and development.

We have incorporated capacity-building and social protection into our reintegration programs to guarantee full decommissioning of former combatants. Through community development and livelihood programs, the Barangay Development and Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Programs have been effective in addressing the root cause of conflict in the countryside.

To complete this reintegration process, I will issue a Proclamation granting amnesty to rebel returnees, and I ask Congress to support me in this endeavor. [applause]

Our journey to progress requires not only unity and social cohesion amongst our people. It is also imperative that our nation remains intact and inviolable, our sovereignty preserved. We will protect our sovereign rights and preserve our territorial integrity, in defense of a rules-based international order. [applause]

With our national interest paramount, we will always pursue constant dialogue and diplomatic approaches to the resolution of any issue that may arise.

So, the initial results of our efforts inspire confidence. Let us continue to be relentless in our aspiration of peace and progress. This has not been the work of a single person. Neither a single branch of government, nor even the whole Government acting alone.

This is the collective synergy achieved by all Filipinos working together. It took a whole-of-nation effort to achieve this immediate recovery from our pandemic slump. Unity was what made us rise once more.

Nagsisimula pa lamang tayo. Ang pagbangon ng ating bayan ay magpapatuloy pa.

Hinihiling ko ang inyong tiwala at pakikiisa. Sa ganitong paraan, makakamtan natin ang ating tanging hangarin: ang maginhawa, matatag, at panatag na buhay para sa lahat ng Pilipino. [applause]

Makikipagtulungan tayo nang mabuti sa Kongreso para sa mga mahahalagang batas na kinakailangan para sa ating tuloy-tuloy na pag-ahon.

And once again, I appeal to Congress for its support for the following priority legislations:

1) The essential tax measures under our Medium-Term Fiscal Framework, such as--Excise tax on single-use plastics, VAT on digital services, Rationalization of mining fiscal regime, Motor vehicle user’s charge/road user’s tax, Military and Uniformed Personnel Pension

2) Amendment of the Fisheries Code;

3) Amendment of the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act;

4) Amendment of the Cooperative Code;

5) New Government Procurement Law;

6) New Government Auditing Code;

7) Anti-financial accounts scamming;

8) Tatak-Pinoy law;

9) The Blue Economy law;

10) Ease of paying taxes;

11) LGU income classification; and

12) The Philippine Immigration Act.

In the past year, it has been a source of great hope and optimism to me to now know that there is an enormous pool of highly competent and dedicated workers serving in our government. It is up to us to provide good leadership and guidance. They love the Philippines and have responded to our call. [applause]

I have stated before that my confidence in our future was grounded in our world-class quality workforce—be they the farmers in the field, corporate giants, government officials, school teachers, health workers, or employees.

That confidence has been further buoyed by the demonstration of love for the Philippines. Every Filipino has unanimously risen to the challenge that we have made to them to be part of our nation’s future. Handa silang maghandog ng tulong dahil mahal nila ang kanilang kapwa-Pilipino at mahal na mahal nila ang Pilipinas.

And thus, with this in my heart, I know that the state of the nation is sound, and is improving.

Dumating na po ang Bagong Pilipinas. Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat. [applause and cheers]


OPAPRU hails PBBM’s support for Bangsamoro, former rebels

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 25, 2023): OPAPRU hails PBBM’s support for Bangsamoro, former rebels (By Priam Nepomuceno)

MANILA – The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) has lauded President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. for his commitment and unwavering support to the Bangsamoro and helping former rebels in their transformation process.

"What we have witnessed in today's (Monday) SONA (State Of the Nation Address) is President Marcos' genuine sincerity in implementing all the signed peace agreements, and his commitment to bring sustainable peace throughout the country. This is true to his mantra of unity towards national healing and reconciliation," OPAPRU Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said in a statement Tuesday.

In his second SONA, Marcos vowed to continue to support the progress of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), and to help former rebels to regain their legal rights through an amnesty program as part of the administration's effort to push forward the country's comprehensive peace process.

"We are proud of the progress that the BARMM has taken. It will be self-governing, it will be progressive, and it will be effective," the President said.

Marcos also said this progress was only made possible due to cooperation made by key groups which included local government units, royal families, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

He also added that these sectors were all consulted and represented in this transition phase.

"The international community has also supported us in this smooth transition. Former adversaries are now partners in peace. Its functions have been defined, and its basic laws are now being written," Marcos said.

To recall, less than two months into his administration, Marcos administered the oath of office to 80 newly and reappointed members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) on Aug. 12, 2022.

This is the first time that the composition of the BTA includes members of the MNLF, particularly from the group of its founding chairman Nur Misuari.

Marcos emphasized the great potential of the region and stressed that "through the BARMM, we have strengthened the nation’s prospects for finally achieving sustainable progress anchored on a true and lasting peace in Southern Philippines. We will continue to support the progress of the BARMM, apace with our singular vision for all Filipinos."

He said the national government is expanding its energy resources to include the BARMM.

"The national government has also partnered with the BARMM in regard to energy exploration and development, and also its utilization within its territorial jurisdiction. We, therefore, expect to see renewed investor interest in its promising sites," the Chief Executive pointed out.

Last July 6, the President witnessed the signing of the Intergovernmental Energy Board Circular (EIB) on the Joint Award of Petroleum Service Contracts and Coal Operating Contracts in the BARMM, which marks another major milestone in the Bangsamoro peace process.

The IEB Circular operationalizes the provision in Section 10, Article XIII of Republic Act 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, to jointly grant rights, privileges, and concessions for the exploration, development, and utilization of uranium and fossil fuels such as petroleum, natural gas, and coal within the territorial jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro.

The circular aims to boost economic development and draw foreign capital into the region.

Meanwhile, the President also highlighted the government's effort in the rehabilitation of Marawi City.

“Five years since the siege, Marawi City will rise again. The community has come alive again. A lot of projects have been completed and many infrastructures are being constructed. We are currently processing the financial aid for the victims of the Marawi siege for them to be able to start again. May hope prevail. May unity, vigilance and the desire for peace and prosperity continue,” the President said.

Last week, Special Assistant to the President Antonio Ernesto F. Lagdameo, Galvez, Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, who co-sponsored the Republic Act 11696 or the Marawi Siege Compensations Act of 2022, and other officials witnessed firsthand the applications for compensation claims filed with the Marawi Compensation Board.

To ensure the holistic transformation of former combatants, the President emphasized the need of granting amnesty.

"For almost half a century, some of our fellow Filipinos have taken to arms to make their views known and felt. We are now at a point in our history when their armed struggle has evolved. We have now progressed together towards peace and development," Marcos added.

"We have incorporated capacity-building and social protection into our reintegration programs to guarantee full decommissioning of former combatants. Through community development and livelihood programs, the Barangay Development and Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Programs have been effective in addressing the root cause of conflict in the countryside," he added.


PH gov’t bent on pursuing local peace talks with rebels

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 25, 2023): PH gov’t bent on pursuing local peace talks with rebels (By Benjamin Pulta)

Department of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla (PNA photo by Benjamin Pulta)

MANILA – The Philippine government will continue wooing rebels back to government fold through the continuation of talks in the local level, a move initiated by previous administration.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla confirmed with reporters on Tuesday that the recommendation for localized peace talks came from national security experts who see it as a more effective means.

“There would be no more peace talks on the national level. Peace talks will be localized everywhere. That is the advice I have been getting from our national security agencies that are there,” Remulla said.

“(It will be) localized in a sense that all of these groups will be local basis, whether it is the region or province or city, it will be looked upon in that manner. We do not recognize anymore central authority that we have to deal with. We are looking at the local scenario in every place,” he added.

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict has identified the localized peace engagement (LPE) as the process to take.

The main essence of the LPE is to reach more group of surrenderers, according to Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr.

Dealing with the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA-National Democratic Front at the national level has been hampered by several demands from communist rebels, according to authorities.


ECLIP, amnesty program good formula to end insurgency: Solon

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 25, 2023): ECLIP, amnesty program good formula to end insurgency: Solon (By Alexander Lopez)

LAUDABLE MOVE. Agusan del Norte 2nd District Rep. Dale Corvera lauds the move of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to enhance the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program and the amnesty program for former New People’s Army rebels during his 2nd SONA on Monday (July 24, 2023). Corvera said the President’s actions can finally end the insurgency problem in the country. (Photo grabbed from House of Representatives Website)

BUTUAN CITY – The move to strengthen the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) and the amnesty program will help the government win over the insurgency, a lawmaker here said Tuesday.

“My interest, aside from the present administration’s economic plans underpinning the macro-economic framework of the country with the Maharlika Investment Plan were the issues on the drug problem and insurgency,” Agusan del Norte 2nd District Rep. Dale Corvera said in reaction to the second State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Monday.

In a phone interview, Corvera lauded the President for laying out a clear direction for the present administration to end the problem of insurgency.

“The President’s SONA was inspiring and was done sincerely,” Corvera said.

He said the government’s ECLIP program has gained positive results, especially in providing the necessary support for the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who wanted to return to their communities.

Marcos described the ECLIP as effective “in addressing the root cause of conflict in the countryside.”

The President said he will also issue a proclamation granting amnesty for NPA rebels who wish to return to the fold of the law.

“Hundreds of former rebels in the Caraga Region have already benefited from the E-CLIP and are now settling peacefully with their families,” Corvera noted.

In its 2022 annual report, the Department of the Interior and Local Government in the Caraga Region noted that 465 former NPA guerrillas received over PHP39 million worth of assistance through the E-CLIP.

It added that the support was in the form of livelihood funding, reintegration assistance, immediate assistance, and firearms remuneration.

Of the 465 FRs given E-CLIP assistance last year, 118 were from Agusan del Norte; 169, Agusan del Sur; 145, Surigao del Sur; 25, Surigao del Norte; and eight, from Butuan City.

Corvera said the two programs will show the sincerity of the government in asking the rebels to lay down their arms and surrender, especially those who have standing arrest warrants.


BARMM leaders laud PBBM full support for peace process

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 25, 2023): BARMM leaders laud PBBM full support for peace process (By Edwin Fernandez)

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao government building in Cotabato City. (Photo courtesy of BARMM PIO)

COTABATO CITY – Officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) have welcomed the full support to the peace process expressed by President Ferdinand. R. Marcos Jr. in his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

In a statement Tuesday, BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim applauded President Marcos' commitment "to bring genuine autonomy and progress to our homeland."

"The president’s call for granting amnesty is a testament to his strong and resolute desire of finding lasting peace and justice," Ebrahim said.

He said the BARMM leadership looks forward "to working together with all sectors concerned in sustaining the positive and inclusive developments that we have made so far in this crucial transition period."

Andrew Alonto, BARMM Bureau of Public Information (BIO) director, said regional officials were in high spirits listening to the President’s SONA. “We are exultantly proud that the welfare of the Bangsamoro is a priority of the President and that it was mentioned in his 2nd SONA,” Alonto said in a statement Tuesday.

“We are one with the President in welcoming the Bagong Pilipinas. In the ‘Bagong Pilipinas,’ we share his vision of Bangsamoro that is self-governing, progressive, and effective,” he added.

“God willing, through the continuous partnership and support of all concerned sectors, we will fully realize our dreams and aspirations,” Alonto said.

In his SONA, the President cited and lauded the progress made in BARMM.

“We are proud of the progress that the BARMM has taken. It will be self-governing, progressive, and effective,” the President said.

“This was made possible only because of the cooperation of all key groups. The local government, the royal families, the MNLF, and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front were all consulted and represented in the transition phase,” he added.

Marcos also reiterated his administration’s determination to push for the completion of reintegration programs to guarantee the full decommissioning of former combatants.

To complete this reintegration process, the President said he will issue a Proclamation granting amnesty to rebel returnees, "and I ask Congress to support me in this endeavor.”

A new proclamation is needed to extend the application process of the amnesty program, which lapsed in January this year. The previous proclamations were issued during the time of former President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

BARMM Parliament Member Bailing Mantawil welcomed the President’s promise to issue another presidential proclamation.

“We are very happy, very grateful because it is the President speaking, our hopes remain high,” Mantawil said during an interview over a local radio program.

Lawyer Jamar Kulayan, National Amnesty Commission (NAC) commissioner, also welcomed the President’s statement on the amnesty program.

In appreciation, Kulayan quoted a statement from fellow NAC commissioner Nasser Marohomsalic saying that “the amnesty is the crowning glory of the peace process.”
“Without amnesty, we could not expect to achieve peace, unity, and reconciliation,” he said.


Family of doctors starts free services to soldiers, former rebels

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 25, 2023): Family of doctors starts free services to soldiers, former rebels (By Edwin Fernandez)

FREE HEALTH SERVICES. A doctor of the Tagaloguin-Adona Polymedic and Diagnostic Center Incorporated (TAPDCI) administers minor surgery to a patient in Tawi-Tawi Island during the group’s visit to the area on June 12-14, 2023, in coordination with the military’s Western Mindanao Command. The TAPDCI doctors on July 22, 2023 signed a partnership with the Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade in Zamboanga Sibugay to treat some 8,000 brigade soldiers, auxiliary force units, and former rebels in the province. (Photo courtesy of TAPDCI)

COTABATO CITY – A family of doctors is providing free medical services to the personnel and families of the Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade (Bde) and its Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Active Auxiliary Units (CAA) in the Zamboanga Sibugay province.

“Our primary objective is to ensure that soldiers and their families have access to quality healthcare services without any financial burden,” said Dr. Amy T. Adona, co-administrator of the Tagaloguin-Adona Polymedic and Diagnostic Center Incorporated (TAPDCI) based in Ozamiz City, in a statement Tuesday.

The initiative materialized after the 102Bde and TAPDCI signed a memorandum of partnership agreement on July 22 at the 1st Infantry Division (ID) headquarters in Labangan town, Zamboanga del Sur province.

“By joining hands, the 102BDE and TAPDCI aim to promote the overall health welfare of those who dedicate their lives to safeguarding our freedom and security,” Adona said of their family advocacy.

Adona, a reserve Army colonel herself, said the healthcare services are not limited to soldiers and their families under the 102Bde but also to the CAAs and former rebels.

Adona said TAPDCI, through his family of doctors – husband, son, daughter, and son-in-law – would render basic health services to some 8,000 soldiers, CAA members, former rebels, and their families periodically.

Of the 86 soldier-patients they have diagnosed so far, Adona said they found hypertension, acute gastritis, and acute gouty arthritis as prevailing diseases.

“If the need arises, we would refer them to co-doctors who have specialization of their health needs,” Adona said, adding that their charity works are non-political.

Meanwhile, Brigadier General Elmer Suderio, the Army’s 102Bde commander, expressed his gratitude to TAPDCI for the realization of the partnership.

"This opportunity will boost the morale and dedication of our soldiers to serve the people and protect the nation,” Suderio said.

Maj. Gen. Antonio Nafarrete, the 1ID commander, lauded the initiative by the 102Bde for actively pursuing partnerships that bring tangible benefits to the military community.

By providing free health services, he said both 102Bde and TAPDCI are “demonstrating their commitment to the welfare of those who selflessly serve the nation.”

Last month, Adona and partner doctors also initiated an outreach program in Tawi-Tawi in partnership with the Western Mindanao Command.

During the June 13-14 health mission in the islands of Mapun and Taganak in Tawi-Tawi province, the doctors administered 29 minor surgeries, 23 circumcisions, 560 dental, and 401 medical services, among others.


Army commander supports Marcos’ move to grant FRs amnesty

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 25, 2023): Army commander supports Marcos’ move to grant FRs amnesty (By Mary Judaline Partlow)

AMNESTY. Maj. Gen. Marion Sison, commander of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, has expressed full support for President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s move to provide amnesty to qualified former rebels. The Army general, in this undated photo, said the amnesty will help speed up government efforts to end the local communist armed conflict. (PNA photo by Judy Flores Partlow)

DUMAGUETE CITY – Maj. Gen. Marion Sison, commander of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (ID), is fully supportive of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in providing amnesty to qualified former rebels (FRs).

“That is one of the best moves next to Executive Order (EO) 70 because this is where we can see the sincerity of the government that despite the atrocities committed by the FRs, for the sake of peace, we will absolve them of their offenses,” Sison said in an interview Tuesday.

He was reacting to the President’s second State of the Nation Address on Monday where the Chief Executive said he will issue a proclamation granting FRs amnesty.

Former president Rodrigo Duterte signed EO 70 in December 2018, creating the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict that employs a whole-of-nation approach to end communism and institute peace-building initiatives.

Sison said an amnesty would further strengthen the government’s efforts to end the communist insurgency and would entice the remaining rebels to return to the fold of the law.

“At the same time, they would no longer be thinking of repercussions such as facing court cases or imprisonment so this is a good move of the President to give amnesty to the communist terrorists and even to secessionist groups,” he explained.

One of the reasons why members of the communist New People’s Army are hesitant to surrender, he added, is that they are afraid of the repercussions, such as having a standing warrant of arrest for their atrocities.

The Army official, however, said he believes there will be conditions and determining factors set for the amnesty after consultations with the government security forces, such as the type of offenses committed and the victims of these atrocities.

The 3ID covers the Western and Central Visayas regions which are still facing the communist insurgency problem.


PBBM Mindanao peace agenda gives hope: VP Sara

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 25, 2023): PBBM Mindanao peace agenda gives hope: VP Sara (By Che Palicte)

SONA LADIES. Vice President Sara Duterte (left) and Senator Imee Marcos are shown in their tribal-inspired attire during the 2nd State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday (July 24, 2023) at the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City. Duterte thanked the Marcos administration for its peace-building efforts in Mindanao. (Photo from Inday Sara Duterte Facebook Page)

DAVAO CITY – Following the 2nd State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday, Vice President Sara Z. Duterte lauded the administration's peace-building efforts in Mindanao.

“It offers us hope and a deep sense of optimism that the efforts to stamp out terrorism and the peace-building initiatives of the past administrations are strengthened to bring about meaningful development for the region and its people,” Duterte said in a statement.

As a Mindanaoan, Duterte said Marcos' leadership has inspired all government workers to be more aggressive in delivering what the administration has promised to the Filipino people.

During his SONA, Marcos touted the "regained peace" in Marawi City, as seen in various completed projects and several infrastructures that are being built.

“May hope, unity, vigilance, and pursuit of peace and development continue,” Marcos said, as he noted that former adversaries of the government are now partners in peace.

Duterte said she was thankful "for President Ferdinand Marcos and his leadership marked with decisiveness, strength, fortitude, and political will — clearly demonstrated over the past year in office.”

The Vice President also thanked Marcos for his "unremitting support of the reforms introduced by the Department of Education to the education system through the MATATAG Agenda," which will benefit not only the learners but also the teaching and non-teaching staff of the department.

“Thank you, Apo BBM, for reminding us of our obligation to our country — an obligation contained in the contract we signed with the Filipino people in the 2022 election,” Duterte said.