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Villar: “I am Not Planning to Make a Law Banning Unli Rice”



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Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, reassures rice-loving Filipinos that she is not planning to file a bill to ban the serving of unlimited rice (unli rice) in restaurants and other food establishments.

I am not planning to make a law banning ‘unli rice’, not at all. I just voiced out my concern that eating too much rice is one of the main causes of high blood sugar that leads to diabetes. But, of course, I cannot prevent people from eating unlimited amount of rice. It is their choice. It was just a genuine expression of concern on my part,” said Villar.

Villar led a Senate hearing on rice importation and other rice-related matters on Wednesday (June 14) and the topic was discussed during the course of the hearing and was also raised during the press conference after the public hearing.

She cited that in other countries, they promote a balanced diet consists of a small portion of rice and a generous amount of vegetables.

In schools in Japan, the students even discuss the nutritional value of their meals for the day before they eat. They also harvest the vegetables they eat from the garden in their school. Of course, we want our children and children’s children to grow up healthy,” added Villar.

Villar has earlier urged the government departments such as the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Department of Health (DoH) to align their programs in order to promote better nutrition and health among the young Filipinos.

I have recommended to the government departments and they are doing it in some areas already to incorporate vegetable gardening in schools in the feeding program, for instance. They can also source the ingredients locally, particularly the perishable produce, to help the small farmers and cooperatives,” said Villar.

According to Villar, it will really be difficult to stop Filipinos from eating rice as the Philippines is a nation or rice eaters. But to decrease health risks, cutting down on rice is still a good idea.

Based on a study, eating one plate of white rice everyday increases the risk of developing diabetes by 11 percent. Health experts also recommend adding 20% of brown rice to the daily white rice consumption; it can reduce the risk of diabetes by around 16%. Rice cause an increase in the level of sugar in the blood, which makes pancreas produce more insulin and cause frequent spikes in blood sugar level leading to diabetes. When not managed, diabetes may cause organ malfunction leading to death.


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PCOO Lauded for Holding First Nat’l Info Confab




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Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) has earned commendations for the successful staging of the first National Information Convention (NIC), calling it a “timely and enriching” endeavor.

“The good thing about this convention is it is enriching, enhancing and encouraging,” said Catherine Somera, information officer of Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)-Region 1, in an interview with Philippine News Agency (PNA) after the NIC 2018 held at the SMX Convention Center in SM Lanang, Davao City on Feb. 19-21.

Somera said the NIC, organized by PCOO through Philippine Information Agency, has enhanced their knowledge and capabilities to become effective communicators at the grassroots level.

“It is important for me not only to be equipped with knowledge but attitude in doing our work so that we can really work in promoting government programs,” she said.

For his part, Ronaldo Cabanhaw said the NIC has enhanced his capabilities as designated public information officer (PIO) of the Parole Provision Administration in Region 6.

“It’s a big help for us in imparting information especially to the grassroots. We are happy to be part of this convention,” Cabanhaw said.

Norma Pereyras, a volunteer for 39 years of different non-government organizations from Tagum City, said she attended the NIC even without an invitation.

“It’s my commitment to help our government though I came from private sector,” she said. “This is what we need today. This is very timely with all the fake news going around.”

Through the convention, she said she was able to appreciate more the Duterte administration which has been doing an “amazing” job in empowering the public communicators to engage the citizenry in nation-building.

Pereyras said she congratulated PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar for the successful hosting of the NIC, requesting him to hold more similar events.

“I told Secretary Andanar not to stop here. Go and reach more,” she said, hoping the next convention will include officials of the country’s more than 42,000 barangays.

Throughout the three-day event, powerhouse speakers discussed topics on government programs and policies, media environment, raising the bar of governance, responsible communication, engaging citizenry in nation-building and communication strategy.

After the convention, Andanar and 17 representatives from different regions led the audience in reading of the Declaration of Commitment to Responsible Communication.

Andanar said the declaration of commitment will be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte, hoping it will be transformed into manifesto of support for stronger and empowered government information officers.

He promised to use all resources of government media to produce truthful and factual news and information down to the remotest barangays of the country.

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PCOO Launches ‘DU30 Mobile App’




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A new media platfrom that will serve as Filipinos’ link, here or abroad, for updates on the plans and programs of the Duterte administration was formally launched here Tuesday.

he Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) led the launch at the second day of the National Information Convention (NIC) at SMX Convention Center in Davao City of President DU30 mobile application as the newest media platform to link government to Filipino communities worldwide.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the DU30 App is the Filipinos link for updates on government plans, activities and speeches of President Rodrigo Duterte via the RTVM, Radyo Pilipinas, and the PCOO’s DU30 on Duty.

The mobile application is one of the initiatives of the PCOO, believing that mobile technology is one of the best ways to fight disinformation, misinformation and fake news.

With the growing number of active mobile users and with fact-based technology, Andanar said the PCOO continues to actively explore means, ways to communicate to people to get to know President Rodrigo Duterte, and the executive branch. Andanar noted that there are 62 million active mobile users out of the 105 million Filipinos.

The DU30 App is developed by iBayad Online Ventures Inc. It is downloadable on Google Play and the Apple Store for IPhone users.

Paolo Saycon, chief operating officer of iBayad, said the DU30 App is Andanar’s brainchild. Initially, it has links with PTV and Radyo Pilipinas. Other agencies within the scope of PCOO will also be added.

One of the features of the DU30 App is the sentiment analysis tool or the poll survey. It has also the Comment and Share, Quick Call, Caption This and Direct and Official Social Media Feeds.

After it was turned over to PCOO, Saycon said application is completely managed by PCOO. This was already reviewed by the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT).

According to Saycon, it took one year for iBayad to develop the application.

iBayad is also developing another feature of the application that will serve as a tool for President Duterte to send personal messages to the people.

There will be a module on the phone of the President or through Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go whereby the President can just send casual or non-formal messages to the people wherever he is.

This is aimed at bringing the President closer to the people, Saycon said.

iBayad has also developed another application initially called “Public Eye” which has tools on feedback, recording, and reporting for citizens of any incident like crimes, damaged roads, among others.

It will have sub-categories depending on how the PCOO would develop the structure.

Once clicked, it directly opens the camera to serve as CCTV and GPS then the user can send it to responsible agency. If it is of urgent or emergency situation it has linked to the 8888 and 911.

Saycon, however, said the application is not yet ready because it needs more security features to protect citizens.

Mervin Caraan of the iBayad Business Development assured the application is still okay even with multiple reports.

He said the application can even be used by Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) to report abuses.

There will be no problem on the magnitude of the download because iBayad is using the iCloud infrastructure network.

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Catholic Church Donates P26-M to Humanitarian Responses in 2017




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The social action arm of the Catholic Church has donated a total of PHP26 million to several disasters and emergencies last year.

According to Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Executive Secretary, NASSA/Caritas Philippines, the donation was released from its local funds under Alay Kapwa for numerous responses including fire, medical assistance, burial and typhoons.

“The amount and the vastness of the contribution our Alay Kapwa solidarity fund has provided are a testament to how fast we can gather our resources and extend assistance to the most in need dioceses,” he said in a statement.

“As a network, we have implemented programs in the most remote communities, highly vulnerable population and in some instances, under the most challenging conditions! The figures provide us a glimpse of our capacity, as the national social action arm of the Catholic Church, to respond readily to the needs of our dioceses. These are also showing how we have developed in terms of competence and efficiency to implement and manage multi-donor responses,” he added.

In addition to the local funds, NASSA/Caritas Philippines’ over-all humanitarian response portfolio in 2017 totaled to PHP267 million.

These are from the Caritas Internationalis confederation and other funding mechanisms. The amount assisted more than 69,000 families (348,000 individuals) affected by disasters and emergencies.

Currently, the humanitarian crises the national Caritas is supporting are the ongoing Marawi response and the Mayon Volcano’s eruption.

Gariguez noted that the Catholic Church is only complementing the efforts of the government and other organizations.

“We do not wish to be doing the work of the government especially. We fully recognize that our role is only to provide additional assistance. However, we cannot close our eyes to the pressing and severing needs of our people. Where others fail, we do our share,” he added.

NASSA /Caritas Philippines is the humanitarian, development and advocacy arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

It serves as secretariat to the 85 diocesan social action centers in the country and represents the Philippines to the Caritas Internationalis, a global confederation of Catholic charities.

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NIC Boosts DOE’s “E-Power Mo” Campaign




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The Department of Energy (DOE) joins hands with the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) in ensuring responsible communication to boost “E-Power Mo” at the National Information Convention (NIC) on 19-21 February at the SMX Convention Center in SM Lanang, Davao City.

In a speech delivered by DOE Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella, Energy Secretary Alfonso G.  Cusi emphasized that “an informed energy consumer is an empowered one.”

Usec. Fuentebella said the DOE took the opportunity through the NIC to inform the public on the “E-Power Mo” concept for the country’s quest to be globally competitive.

“The power of information can help consumers cut unnecessary costs while industry players are bound to compete more effectively,” the DOE official said.

Using the metaphor of a basketball game, Usec. Fuentebella outlined how energy users can play competitively following the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, the energy policies for an increased consumers’ power of choice, diversity in energy resources, energy resiliency, energy efficiency and conservation, and energy smart consumers.

On addressing the impact of the TRAIN Law, the DOE initiated proactive measures including advisories and timely monitoring that saved the public around P2.64 billion for liquid petroleum fuels (i.e., gasoline, diesel, kerosene) and P58.4 million for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

For increased consumer power of choice, the DOE together with the Energy Regulatory Commission will push for the full implementation of Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA) under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA). With RCOA in place, “contestable customers” or huge electricity users with at least one megawatt (1 MW) demand are now able to choose their power suppliers to reduce their costs.

Toward providing more choices, the RCOA implementation aims to include consumers with 0.75 MW demand (likened to a nine-storey building) then consumers of 0.5 MW, until reaching 0.10 MW (at least a 2-storey building).

Another choice is the “Green Energy Option” which gives consumers the power to choose a sustainable and more environmental-friendly energy for their utilization.

Moreover, the DOE presented its program in diversifying the country’s energy resources, highlighting its activities for the realization of a Liquefied Natural Gas terminal and the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear energy.

For energy resiliency, the DOE issued policy guidelines to ensure the energy sector’s preparedness, quick response and rehabilitation mechanisms to address adverse impact of natural and human-induced disasters.

Lastly, Usec. Fuentebella shared the programs for energy efficiency and conservation including practical energy tips.

Around 1,800 information officers and participants from around the country attended the NIC.

The DOE co-presented the convention, together with the Social Security System.

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