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DPWH: Multi-Billion Peso Infra Projects Set to Start This Year

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The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has revealed the government’s multi-billion infrastructure projects that would be undertaken starting this year.

During the Dutertenomics forum at the Conrad Hotel in Pasay City on Tuesday, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar and other members of the Duterte administration’s economic team shared the respective plans of the departments in the next five years.

The DPWH chief noted that for this year, the agency will be starting different projects amounting to almost PHP500 billion covering undertakings in Luzon and Mindanao.

“The infrastructure program of this administration for this year 2017 is approximately PHP450 billion. If you were to add the projects in 2010 to 2013, it would be less than what we intend to spend this year in infra, increasing every year,” he said.

Among the projects in the pipeline include the Luzon Spine expressway network which is a series of ongoing projects.

Connection of high standard highway network that will connect the northern most province of the Philippines to the southern most to Bicol; the TR4 high speed expressway going to Quezon and Lucena and Quezon-Bicol expressway;CALA-X, eastern alignment of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX).

“High speed network would be able to bring development thru all of Luzon. If you put these in numbers for instance today to get form Bicol to Metro Manila it will take you 12 hours when this high speed standard highway is finished before the end of the term of the president you can go from Bicol to La Union in less than 12 hours,” Villar said.

“The South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and NLEX connector project which will make the travel time from Alabang to NLEX (Balintawak the entrance to NLEX) in 30 minutes,” he added.

Likewise, included in the government’s “Build, Build, Build,” projects is the NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10, an all elevated expressway aimed at providing direct access between the port area and the northern provinces of Luzon via NLEX.

The 5.7-km expressway worth PHP10.5-billion, will decongest Metro Manila by providing an alternative entry to NLEX, bypassing EDSA and other busy streets of Manila.

Once opened, travel time from the Manila Port to the NLEX will take only 10 minutes.

The undertaking is set to be completed this year.

Villar said that also expected to have groundbreaking this year is the Cavite-Laguna that will connect Cavite expressway (CAVITEX) to the Mampalasan exit in Laguna.

“The President has also instructed us to go into most ambitious bridge program in the history our country, the Panguil Bay Bridge connecting Misamis to Lanao this is in Mindanao,” he said.

Villar added, “the Leyte Tide Embankment this is also a project that will mitigate disaster. We all know what happened to Leyte before and this is a long term solution. It is a 21 km embankment at a cost of Php 2.1 billion that will also serve as a tourist attraction at the same time it will permanently prevent recurrence of what happened in Tacloban Leyte in the past. This is an example of our disaster risk resiliency program in the DPWG and is also scheduled to be completed before the end of our president’s term in 2022.”

“Build, Build, Build” is the mantra of the administration’s infrastructure program where several government agencies are partnering to implement major projects involving roads, bridges, railways, airports, and green cities to bolster development and ease traffic congestion in the country.

Also present during the forum are: Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Department of Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Bases Cinversion and Development Authority President and CEO Vince Dizon, Presidential Spokesperson Usec. Ernie Abella and Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar. (PNA)

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Globe Telecom Looks at Global Best Practices in Fight vs. Illegal Sites, Child Pornography

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Globe Telecom looks at global best practices in Singapore and other countries in its fight against illegal sites and child pornography in order to protect the rights of young Filipino boys and girls who are most susceptible to exploitation and abuse.

The island-state currently regulates the presence of objectionable content and conduct online through its Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as enabled by the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act and carried out by Singapore’s Media Development Authority. A list of 100 websites are banned including a site that allegedly recruited underage boys for sex and nude photography.

In the Philippines, the Anti-child Pornography Act of 2009, Intellectual Property Code, and the Anti-Camcording Law were previously placed to combat child pornography and other illegal sites. In 2014, the Cyber Crime Law took effect that made any crime under the Revised Penal Code, which is a list of general punishable acts, be considered a cybercrime if done using a computer or the internet. Thus, prior laws pertaining to intellectual rights and piracy are given more support for enforcement.

With enabling laws, regulatory agencies such as the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), Intellectual Property Office (IPO), and the Optical Media Board (OMB) among others can learn from the practice of other countries if the Philippines is really serious at combating piracy and child pornography.

Yoly Crisanto, Globe SVP for Corporate Communications, said: “This advocacy is important especially as we contribute greatly to the development of a digital nation. We want to provide our customers with safe and quality content and ensure that our products and services are not used for illegal activities. At the same time, we want to protect intellectual property rights including our own original content and the licensed content of our global and local partners so that we can give the people who create content what’s rightfully due them.”

In 2017, Globe invested 2.7 million dollars to improve its Domain Name System (DNS) with several blocking capabilities that enabled the company to block close to 2,500 domains or sites found to have lewd and child pornography-related content and will continue to actively look out for such illegal sites.

Although the Philippines has Republic Act 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 to protect every child from all forms of exploitation and abuse, sadly the country continue to top the list of global sources of child pornography based on the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) The State of The World’s Children 2017 report entitled “Children in a Digital World. The situation, however, is expected to improve with the signing into law of the child online protection provision in RA 10929 or the Free Internet in Public Places Act.

The Unicef report noted that the pervasiveness of the Internet, mobile apps and online payment methods further aided in the proliferation of child pornography and sex trafficking.

It was collaborated by another report from the International Justice Mission, a human rights group handling cases of online exploitation of children in the Philippines which noted that 8 out of 10 victims that they have rescued are 12 years old and below, some even as young babies.

Under Philippine law, “child pornography” refers to ”any representation, whether visual, audio, or written combination thereof, by electronic, mechanical, digital, optical, magnetic or any other means, of child engaged or involved in real or simulated explicit sexual activities”.

The fight against child pornography and illegal sites is part of Globe Telecom’s #PlayItRight advocacy campaign to ensure that its products and services are not used in illegal activities and to protect the copyrighted content of its global partners.

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Duterte Wants Gov’t Workers Strictly Banned from Entering Casinos

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In line with his call to all government workers to avoid lavish lifestyles, President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the strict implementation of a law prohibiting public servants from entering gambling casinos.

During the launch of the Overseas Filipino Bank (OFBank) last Thursday, President Duterte said he made his directive to Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa.

“I just issued an order to Bato last night. Sabi ko, Bato, halika, maglagay ka sa casino prohibiting all workers of government from entering,” Duterte said.

“May PD niyan eh. There’s a law. At that time, it was a law. It’s still the law. It was never modified or repealed. Sabi pa ni Bato, ‘Lagay mo diyan ‘all government employees’,” he added.

When asked by Dela Rosa if he would include government officials, President Duterte said: “Lahat kami workers.”

“That’s why I’d like to remind everybody: We are all workers of government and we serve the people,” the President said.

Former President Ferdinand Marcos had issued Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1067-B granting the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation a franchise to establish, operate, and maintain gambling casinos.

Both PD 1067-B and its amended version PD 1869 prohibit government officials, members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and persons under 21 years of age or students from entering and playing in casinos.

In September 2016, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea issued Memorandum Circular No. 6 ordering all public officials and employees, including military and police, to strictly observe all laws banning them from entering, staying, or playing in the casinos.

Recently, Medialdea issued a separate memorandum providing guidelines to all government officials and personnel in the executive department applying for foreign travels.

The memorandum was made in line with Pres. Duterte’s campaign to cut down extravagant and lavish foreign trips.

Duterte, a popular graft buster during his 23 years of service as mayor of Davao City, is also known for his very simple and frugal lifestyle.

“That’s all my message. Very simple. Not so good to hear but at least, at least, at the very least, it comes from the heart,” the President said in closing his OFBank launching speech.

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Pres. Duterte Considers ‘Total Ban’ on OFW Deployment to Kuwait

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President Rodrigo Duterte has described the death of four Filipino women in Kuwait unacceptable, mulling a total ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the oil-rich country.

“We have lost about four Filipino women in the last few months. It’s always in Kuwait,” Duterte said in his speech at the launching of the Overseas Filipino Bank (OFBank) on Thursday in Liwasang Bonifacio, Manila.

Duterte said he discussed the issue with Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, advising the latter to talk to government officials of Kuwait.

“So usap kami ni Alan, it’s either — my advice is, we talk to them, state the truth and just tell them that it’s not acceptable anymore. Either we impose a total ban or you can have the correction,” he said.

“I do not want a quarrel with Kuwait. I respect their leaders, but they have to do something about this,” he added.

Asked for comment, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said they will investigate first the real cause of death of the four women.

Bello said if reports are true that the cause of death was maltreatment, then the government will not hesitate to impose a deployment ban in Kuwait.

“He (President Duterte) is considering it because of recent incidents. If the death is a result of maltreatment of their employers, that’s another thing. I will not hesitate to impose a total ban,” Bello said in a chance media interview after the OFBank launching.

Kuwait is one of the top destinations of Filipino household workers.

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Sereno’s Land Cruiser Purchase Violates Procurement Law: Solons

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Lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Wednesday said the purchase of a Php5.1-million luxurious Toyota Land Cruiser 2017 for Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno using public funds could be a violation of the government procurement law.

This comes after SC Procurement Head Carina Cunanan admitted during the impeachment hearing against Sereno that the purchase of the luxurious vehicle was already pre-determined by the top magistrate’s office.

“It was already predetermined, your honor (referring to House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas),” Cunanan said.

Fariñas said citing the brand in a bidding process was prohibited under the law.

“When you procure, do not name a brand so that it will be fair to everyone… You should specify the details but not the brand,” Fariñas said.

Lawyer Thelma Bahia, head of the SC Bids and Awards Committee, said that in posting the procurement of the vehicle, they did not specify the brand but simply stated the specification even though there was already an endorsement to get a Land Cruiser.

“Although there was an endorsement (from Sereno’s office)… But, when we posted the procurement we did not specify the brand” Bahia said.

Fariñas, however, was not convinced, saying “that’s how you skirt the law.

ABS Partylist Rep. Eugene Michael de Vera said branding violates the procurement law, and thus could be linked to graft and corruption.

Complainant lawyer Larry Gadon accused Sereno of corruption for using public funds in the purchase of a luxurious vehicle for official use amounting to more than Php5 million pesos.

Sereno’s spokesperson Jojo Lacanilao, in a separate statement, said the procurement was “above board and not a capricious decision of the Chief Justice.

Lacanilao said the SC en banc itself approved the acquisition of the Land Cruiser.

He also said the Chief Justice did not ask to be exempted from the prohibition against the acquisition and use of security vehicles by government officials, as she was already exempted by virtue of her position.

Lacanilao cited a budget circular allowing the Chief Justice the purchase of a service vehicle “for security reasons”. The President, Vice President, Senate President, and House Speaker are also covered by such exemption.

“The Land Cruiser was purchased to ensure the safety and security of the Chief Justice. Because of threats to her personal security, she had no choice but to acquire a vehicle that could be bulletproofed. It cannot be denied that judges, lawyers, and prosecutors have been assassinated,” he said.

“For years, the Chief Justice did not ask for a new service vehicle. This was the first time the Chief Justice had ever requested for a vehicle since she was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2010. She had always used vehicles “inherited” from other Justices or court employees,” he added.

Sereno’s camp further said that based on SC records, new vehicles had already been purchased for eight other justices at the time of the procurement of the Land Cruiser.

Meanwhile. two new vehicles for two more justices are currently being procured. (with reports from Christopher Lloyd T. Caliwan/PNA)

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