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Highlights of the ASEAN Post- Ministerial Conferences

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The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday, August 7, shared the highlights of the Post-Ministerial Conferences (PMCs).

In a press briefing at the International Media Center in Manila, DFA Acting Spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar said that during European Union (EU) and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) dialogue the two regional blocs adopted statements on climate change, discussed the resumption of negotiations on the ASEAN-EU Free Trade Agreement, talked about the realization of a Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement, and welcomed the enhanced cooperation on non-traditional security concerns. Also during the meeting, the invitation to European Council President Donald Tusk to grace this year’s East Asia Summit was extended.

At the ASEAN-Japan Ministerial Meeting, Bolivar continued, the foreign ministers agreed on the Revised Implementation Plan of the Vision Statement for ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation. They also talked about the ASEAN Community Building Efforts, including Japan’s support for the ASEAN Master Plan on Connectivity and the Initiative for ASEAN Integration Work Plan III.

In a meeting with India, the ASEAN top diplomats had an in-depth dialogue on the importance of improving ASEAN-India connectivity, the need to enhance economic cooperation, and the preparations for the Commemorative Summit on the 25th anniversary of the ASEAN-India Dialogue Partnership in January 2018.

Meanwhile, the ASEAN foreign ministers met with United States’ Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as they discussed the future directions of the US-ASEAN partnerships and the US support for ASEAN centrality and ASEAN Community building efforts.

“The Ministers reaffirmed their intention to pursue strengthening of economic engagement through US-ASEAN Connect, the ASEAN-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, and the ASEAN Connectivity through Trade and Investment,” Bolivar said.

The DFA spokesperson added that the ASEAN ministers also expressed their commitment to strengthen cooperation with the US in the field of information communication technology, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, sustainable fisheries and marine environment, climate change, education, women’s and youth issues, emerging leadership, and people-to-people exchanges.

The ministers of ASEAN and Russia, on the other hand, noted key deliverables agreed upon during the Commemorative Summit in Sochi, which included counter-terrorism, maritime cooperation, trade and investment facilitation, cooperation in transport, energy, agriculture, tourism, people-to-people connectivity, science and technology, education, disaster management and emergency response, and health development.

At the meeting of ASEAN Plus Three (APT), which groups the 10 member states of ASEAN, China, Japan, and South Korea, held earlier on Monday, Bolivar said DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano underscored in his opening remarks delivered during the APT Meeting that the cooperation on many areas directly impact people’s lives, and he called on the ministers to work towards the continued strengthening of the East Asia Summit.

The ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation Work Plan 2018-2022 was adopted and endorsed for notation at the 12th East Asia Summit in November. (DFA-PR/PNA)

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Anti-Hazing Bill Hurdles House

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The House of Representatives has unanimously approved on third and final reading a measure seeking to prohibit all forms of hazing and regulate the initiation rites of fraternities, sororities and other organizations.

The House approved on Monday night House Bill No. 6753, or the Anti-Hazing Act, with 210 affirmative votes, zero negative, and no abstention.

Bagong Henerasyon Partylist Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, principal author of the bill, said the bill made all forms of hazing illegal, instead of just regulating hazing, with penalties ranging from fines to life imprisonment.

The bill seeks to increase the penalty from 20 years imprisonment to life if death, suicide, rape, sodomy or mutilation results from hazing.

It also mandates a four-hour hazing education course as an additional condition for any sentence, which may also include alcohol and drug probation.

The bill expands the definition of hazing to cover psychological injuries in addition to physical suffering, as well as beyond just incidences related to gaining membership in an organization.

It likewise provided the definition of “initiation” and “initiation rites,” which were not included in the current law.

Herrera-Dy also highlighted that community-based fraternities, sororities, and organizations be covered under the proposed law.

School-based fraternities, sororities and organizations will be required to register with school authorities, while community-based organizations will likewise be required to register with their respective local government units.

The solon said the initiation rites of fraternities, sororities, and organizations should be monitored to “see to it that no hazing is conducted.

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Duterte Opens Bank Dedicated to the Needs of Overseas Filipinos

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President Rodrigo Duterte launched on Thursday the Overseas Filipino Bank, a fruition of his campaign promise to establish the first-ever bank dedicated to the needs of overseas-based Filipinos.

In his speech during the launching of the Overseas Filipino Bank at the former Philippine Postal Savings Bank (PostBank) head office in Liwasang Bonifacio, Manila, the President said he was happy that he was able to fulfill one of his campaign promises.

In September last year, the President issued Executive Order No. 44 ordering the Philippine Postal Corporation and the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) to transfer their PostBank shares to LandBank at zero value.

The EO further stated that the former Postal Bank will be converted into the “Overseas Filipino Bank,” which will be a “policy bank dedicated to provide financial products and services tailored to the requirement of overseas Filipinos” and will focus on delivering “quality and efficient foreign remittance services.

“The Overseas Filipino Bank (OFB) is envisioned to provide a wide array of financial services to overseas Filipinos, especially the country’s migrant workers, so that they would no longer be vulnerable to expensive remittance services and investment scams,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said.

“The OFB is another step towards reshaping our economic progress to make it more inclusive. It will help fulfill our goal of shifting to an investment-driven economy. More important, our overseas workers would be able to invest in their country which they have helped transform into one of the fastest-growing economies in the region,” Dominguez said.

He clarified that the Bank was initially conceptualized as a financial institution for OFWs, but its coverage was expanded to include all Filipinos based overseas to make it more inclusive.

“There is no other institution like this one,” said Dominguez.

As a subsidiary of the Land Bank of the Philippines, Dominguez said the OFB can be assured of “exemplary financial expertise and sufficient capital to ensure its success.

He said the DOF and LandBank are also planning to secure licenses in other countries with large concentrations of overseas Filipinos so the LandBank can provide financial advisory services to the Filipino communities in these areas. (PIA-NCR/EPC/SDL)

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Be Wary of Phishing, Spoofing – BSP

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The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reminded the public anew to be cautious of phishing and spoofing scams.

BSP advises the public to watch out for these scams and be cautious of emails that ask for details like personal information such as username, password, account number, card number, CVV code, PIN, birthday. According to BSP, banks would not request these details thru email.

The public is also advised to watch for emails with generic greeting, misspelling or bad grammar, unexpected or not typically received. Also, a link to another website which is possibly a fake website, and emails that does not give you full contact details of the sender.

Phishing is an act wherein fraudsters get your personal information thru legitimate-looking email and use it to illegally access your account. Meanwhile, spoofing is an act wherein fraudsters fool you to click a link to a website that looks legitimate to get your account details.

BSP reminded the public to immediately verify or report to your bank if you receive this kind of email and to copy furnish and / or report to BSP or call at (02) 708-7087. (bsp/epc/jeg/pia-ncr)

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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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