Speech of Secretary Jimenez inthe Makati Business Club

Speech of Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr.:In front of the Makati Business Club
[Delivered at the Intercontinental Manila on March 29, 2012]
Thank you, Mr. Lance Gokongwei; Ms. Corazon De La Paz-Bernardo. Good Afternoon.
Mr. Robert de Ocampo; Mr. Edgar Chua; Mr. Guilermo Luz; members, friends, from the media, ladies and gentlemen:
First of all, thank you very much for abbreviating the list of brands I have actually worked on for 35 years. I have to begin—you know I was sitting there and I was looking at the theme about constructive ideas, and when you have worked for 35 years in advertising and you are standing in front of a room full of potential clients, your first instinct is to make a pitch, which is to a very large extent what I intend to do today, before I actually tell you what is in store for the tourism business for the Philippines.
The reason I am going to make a pitch, and Mr. Bill Luz here—and it’s very appropriate—is the core idea behind your tourism campaign, not mine, is actually the same as the core idea I would like to pitch for Philippine investment abroad, because the primary offering of this country is its people.
If tomorrow, and around the world, the Philippines was able to successfully convince investors that solid investment is not about where you invest your money but whom you will work with, the Philippines will win hands down.
The Philippines is the most established business solution in workforces in the world. It is the established business solution in the healthcare industry. The Filipino worker is the established business solution in the maritime industry. The Filipino worker is the established business solution in the BPO industry, and as even people from Singapore and Malaysia will tell you, the Filipino workforce is the established business solution in the tourism and hospitality industry.
We are sitting on top of a goldmine, because the Filipino is really the most significant advantage we have as a country. I tell investors all the time: don’t think about where to put your money. Worry about whom you are going to have a management meeting with tomorrow. Worry about with whom you are going to have a quality circle meeting with tomorrow, and you will find out, as many other companies in world find out, that Filipinos work. And that’s fundamentally where your new tourism campaign comes from.
It comes from a very simple insight: that what is truly touristic begins not with what you see but whom you are with when you see it.
The Filipino takes it as his personal responsibility that the guest is okay. In fact, we have a somewhat irritating reputation for badgering our guests by constantly asking them if they are okay. “Are you okay?” “Have you eaten?” “Did they treat you right?” Etcetera.
This isn’t a put-on. Filipinos find it very difficult to share space without turning you into a friend. In fact, it has often been said that no one stays a stranger in the Philippines for longer than 24 hours. And if you make the mistake of staying for more than 30 days, you could end up as godfather at somebody’s christening.
Your new tourism campaign was based fundamentally on that insight. The willingness of the Filipino to allow his guest to participate in the joy of living. And that is why we have one of the highest revisit rates in the world. Sixty-five percent of all the people who come to the Philippines eventually come back. So every time I say that our tourism numbers have gone up, I actually mean that we have practically secured 65 percent of the future, because those people who came, are coming back for sure.
Now, we live in an exciting time.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization estimates that over one billion people will travel across national boarders this year. In 2011, the Philippines counted 27.9 million trips domestically, or over 14 million round trips domestically in 2011. That is our domestic tourism record, it is one of the most spectacular records in the world.
In January of this year, as you may already have heard, we saw 411,000 foreign arrivals in the Philippines. The first time we breached the 400,000-mark for just one month. As of last count, over 3.9 million foreign tourists came to the Philippines in a year.
And all these is described simply as the beginning.
You know some people will point out that other countries have much bigger success—Thailand, Malaysia, even Vietnam. But my attitude as your Tourism Secretary is simply this: A good beginning is just that. It is the start of something good. Where we have come from is a far cry from where we are today because where we go from here, how high, how fast, is entirely up to us.
And the question that must be answered is: “Okay Mon, what has changed?”
For starters, we have today the most tourism-oriented government in the history of the Republic. President Noynoy Aquino is by far in a way the most committed to tourist as any previous president. This time the government is putting its money where its tourism ambitions lie.
For example, in the area of infrastructure. This year’s infrastructure budget will be focused on tourism related infrastructure projects: 8.1 billion has been earmarked for construction of access roads leading to airports and RO-RO ports alone. In addition to this, 12 billion will be for the development of new international airports.
I keep telling everyone, the tourism picture, or snapshot you’re getting today will be very dramatically different in 2 years from now when a lot of these new gateways start coming out of the chute. But the time to get excited, the time to start building, the time to start investing in tourism is now. We cannot afford to start waiting for the cement to dry on these airports before we make our moves.
And so, the Tourism Department has, in fact, embarked as you may now know on a very aggressive pricing program, very aggressive value-package program, that will compete effectively with the rest of Asia.
Part of the job is convincing the rest of government to compete also. In keeping with that, the national government has in fact spearheaded—after much talk that came before—the national government has spearheaded the review of policy bottlenecks that run counter to tourism’s progress.
This includes matters pertaining, for example, to, it was mentioned earlier, the economic viability of airlines as affected by commons carriers tax, the gross billings tax, and even the infamous CIQ or Customs immigrations and quarantine chargers.
The common-carriers tax and gross billings tax are headed for extinction because both the bills in the House and in the Senate call for their abolition. And since we are already on second reading in the Congress, we have every confidence that that will pass.
Also, we are working continuously on the FAA downgrade, and of course, related to that, the EU ban on Philippine carriers. And we are confident that soon, within the year, we will get that upgrade.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Justice have already issued the circular that relaxes the visa requirements on 166 countries. Before, the Philippines granted for some strange reason only 21 days for visa-free arrival. And it was only when we started asking ourselves whether that was really a fun thing to do that everyone realized that the only way to compete was to automatically grant 30 days.
That circular, both from the DFA and the Bureau of Immigration, has finally been sent to all offices around the world. So the standard visa-free for 166 countries is 30 days. We have also gotten the DFA to issue a circular that retirees, those who are speculating on retiring in the Philippines, automatically get 6 months visa visiting the Philippines.
I am anxious to announce that by the end of this year, the Philippines will be the first country in the world to grant senior-citizen rights and discounts to all senior citizens arriving in the Republic of the Philippines. And the BIR and the Department of Finance are now working on the mechanics for such a move. There is no reason we cannot communicate to the world that the Philippines is fun, no matter what age you are.
Second of course, and very important. We aim to reposition your Department of Tourism not as a regulatory body, but as your selling arm. “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” is positive proof of the retraining and the reorientation we are undergoing at the DOT, as I speak. This has been painful for a lot of people, because we used to have a department that really just granted permits and organized familiarization tours.
Now we are tasked with actually delivering the volume, the goods, the demand; and we are determined to do that. I believe we are off to a good start. I am happy to share that international visitor arrivals continue, after the January announcement, at double-digit levels for February, although the official figures are not yet out.
Just this month, we finalized the National Tourism Development Plan, and by the end of the Holy Week, the President shall find this plan on his desk. The National Tourism Development Plan enumerates in great detail our strategic plans until 2016 and beyond, and it identifies 21 tourism clusters for development across the country.
For the first time in a long time, this country now has a complete digital catalogue of all the touristic sites in the Philippines. It sounds simple, but no one bothered to put it together before.
There are nine tourism product categories which we will focus on. By the way, every time people ask me “Secretary, which areas will we focus on?” I keep reminding them we focus on activities, not places. These nine activities are: Nature, Culture, Sun and Beach, Cruise, MICE, Health and Wellness, Marine Leisure, Entertainment, Education.
The final point I want to make is this. Ironically, the most important discovery I have made as your Tourism Secretary has to do with the so-called issue on public toilets—as if it was the responsibility of the Philippine government to actually build all these things. And in fact, at one point in time, the government actually did. It actually attempted to build these things across the country; and naturally, you can almost imagine, after a while, the fund sources dried up, and we were looking for public toilets again.
The new standard will be our ability to couple Department and Tourism demands with private facilities. There are 500 McDonalds around the country. There are 800 Jollibees around the country. There are over a thousand BPI branches. There are thousands of Mini Stops and 7-Elevens. All of them have clean, well lit, guarded public toilets and eating areas with security guard. In other words, safe haven, for any tourist. We never approached them all these years. We will now.
The involvement of the private sector will be that tourism, as we said from the very start, is everyone’s business, and most certainly, it is the people’s business. And the Filipinos ability to participate is what makes the experience different.

1st Philippines - Japan Vice Ministerial Strategic Dialogue held in Tokyo

The first Philippines-Japan Vice Ministerial Strategic Dialogue was held at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affars in Tokyo on March 23, pursuant to the 2011 Joint Statement signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary for Policy Erlinda F. Basilio led the Philippine delegation, which included Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manuel M. Lopez and Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Affairs Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro.
The Japanese delegation was led by Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Koro Bessho and Director General Kunio Umeda of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Department.
The two countries undertook a comprehensive review of relations and engaged in extensive and fruitful discussions on key regional developments, as well as bilateral and multilateral issues relevant to the strategic direction of Philippine-Japan relations, acknowledged to be one of the Philippines’ most dynamic.
Japan affirmed its sustained support for Philippine economic development, including through enhanced trade and investment, as well as through support for the public-private partnership (PPP) program. Japan also reiterated its support for the peace process in Mindanao and grassroots economic assistance projects in the island.
The Philippines and Japan also affirmed the relevance and value of their regular policy consultations and exchanges of views on key and pressing global and regional concerns, including maritime security and developments in the Korean Peninsula. Both governments vowed to strengthen their bilateral cooperation and collaboration in multilateral fora such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United Nations (UN).

DOE press released on Malampaya Phases 2 and 3

Statement of the Department of Energy:On the Malampaya Phases 2 and 3
[Released on March 26, 2012]
We categorically state that the Department of Energy (DOE) has not granted any extension for Service Contract No. 38 (SC 38) which is set to expire on 2024. The application is still pending since 2008, when the SC 38 Consortium filed for a 15-year extension application.
However, we emphasize that the Luzon grid is very much dependent on the three power plants fueled by the Malampaya gas. The three power plants account for almost 40 percent of the power generation capacity of Luzon, equivalent to 2,700MW. It is very important that Malampaya gas production remain at present levels otherwise these power plants will shift to more expensive fuels.
In order to sustain the production levels of the project’s natural gas, the SC 38 Consortium made additional investments in the form of Malampaya Phase 2 for completion in 2013 and Malampaya Phase 3 for completion in 2015. Malampaya Phase 2 will install two additional subsea wells and tie manifold with minor modifications in the asset at a cost of $250 Million. Malampaya Phase 3 will install compressors and self-installing platform at a cost of $700 Million.
The reason for Malampaya Phases 2 & 3 is to prolong the same volume of gas production until 2024. Available data shows that if no further activities are undertaken, gas production from Malampaya will drop starting 2015 and will run out by 2024.
 Malampaya Phases 2 & 3 requires no drilling of wells as stated in the column as recent data has shown that Camago-Malampaya are interconnected. To date, SC 38 Consortium has drilled eleven (11) wells of which five (5) wells are being used for production and the rest are just exploration wells which are not used for production.

Dept. of Agriculture allots P260 Million for irrigation in Antique

The Department of Agriculture (DA) through the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) has earmarked P260 million for the construction, rehabilitation, and restoration of 60 small irrigation projects (SIPs) in the province of Antique.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the projects will be undertaken by the DA-NIA under its Irrigated Rice Production Enhancement Project (IRPEP) funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
He made the announcement during a farmers’ forum in the town of Barbaza, Antique, where he also led a simple turnover of two completed IRPEP-funded SIPs in Mablad and Bugnay.
Secretary Alcala said IRPEP is a joint initiative of the DA-NIA in partnership with the host local government units (LGUs), and Irrigators’ Associations (IAs). The project implements a 70-20-10 counterparting scheme, where the DA-NIA shoulders 70 % of the total CIS cost, the LGUs 20 percent, and the beneficiary IAs 10 percent. Thus, for the entire IRPEP, the DA-NIA will allot P182M, the LGUs P52M, the IAs P26M.
The Project aims to restore about 2.282 ha and rehabilitate about 1,589 ha that would bring normal irrigation to 6,165 ha benefiting 7,368 farmers in the Province of Antique.
Meanwhile, the NIA has completed another two small irrigation projects in Antique and turned over to Irrigators Associations for operation and maintenance. The two projects are just one of the completed irrigation projects of the NIA in its fast-tracking commitment of completing the rehabilitation, restoration, and construction of various irrigation projects in the country. The two projects have a combined irrigated area of about 60 hectares benefiting 70 farmers costing P3M.
The Mablad and Bugnay Small Irrigation Projects are one of the sixty projects under the Irrigated Rice Production Enhancement Project (IRPEP) in Antique with an overall total estimated project cost of P260M. Once the rehabilitation, restoration, and construction of these projects were completed, they will have a combined irrigated area of 6,165 ha benefiting 7,368 farmers.
Completion of irrigation projects is in line with the Rice Self-Sufficiency Program of the government as these contribute to more productive and harvestable area.
The turnover of the completed projects was done during the AgriPinoy Farmers Forum held in the Municipality of Barbaza, in Antique. It was witnessed by no less than DA Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, NIA Administrator Antonio S. Nangel, Antique Governor Exequiel Javier, Congressman Paolo Javier, Barbaza Mayor Faith Francisco and other LGU Executives, NIA officials and Irrigators’ Associations.

PNoy and Amir of Kuwait discuss OFWs in prison

Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III (20...
President Benigno S. Aquino III appealed to the benevolence and kindness of His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, the Amir of Kuwait, for two overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) with death penalty cases in Kuwait.
During the courtesy call, the President thanked the Amir for the compassion he had shown in 2008 and 2009 when two OFWs previously in death row received a sentence commutation and a full pardon from the Amir. The President also discussed the case of two OFWs currently with death penalty cases.
In the first case, the Amir said that the commutation would be possible because the family of the victim had already given a tanazul or affidavit of forgiveness. In the second case, the Amir assured the President that he will look into the matter and that once the tanazul is secured, the pardon will be easier to grant.
As of December 2011, there are an estimated 146,505 OFWs residing and working in Kuwait.

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DSWD supports House Bill No. 2295 - The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents, Senior Citizens, and Elderly Act of 2010

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) supports the bill which calls for the special protection and security to parents and senior citizens from economic abuse and financial hardships caused by children and grandchildren who have neglected and abandoned them.
House Bill No. 2295 or the “The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents, Senior Citizens, and Elderly Act of 2010” was filed by Party-List Congressman Godofredo V. Arquiza. Congressman Arquiza is the Vice-Chairperson of the Committee of Social Services and Veterans Affairs and Welfare in the House of Representatives.
The DSWD said it has submitted its recommendations to the Committee on Population and Family Relations to enhance the bill. The recommendation includes provision of a case management of families involved by social workers to assess the relationships and capabilities of the individuals before the filing of cases.
The DSWD also recommends the Public Attorney’s Office provide legal services on court-related complaints that will be filed by the elderly and the senior citizens.
Further, the DSWD wants a provision on those who may file for support in behalf of the parent or the senior citizen such as DSWD and local social workers, or at least two concerned responsible persons of the city or municipality where the parent or senior citizen who is in need of support resides.
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DPWH to help motorists this Holy Week

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has made sure help will be available to motorists during Holy Week.
Secretary of Public Works and Highways Rogelio L. Singson has directed all field units to reactivate the department’s “Lakbay Alalay” program to ensure smooth travel of motorists as the nation observes the Lenten Season.
Starting 6:00 a.m. of March 31, 2012 to 12:00 p.m. of April 10, 2012, a composite team of DPWH personnel, in coordination with other government entities, namely the Land Transportation Office (LTO), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and officials of local government units (LGU) will provide assistance on normal and emergency situations to motorists along national roads.
The DPWH Chief has also directed for the hastening of necessary road maintenance and improvement activities, including the installation of legible informational and directional signs, and of reflectorized pavement markings along national roads.
With the DPWH taking advantage of the dry season to expedite various road construction works, Secretary Singson has also directed all Regional Directors and District Engineers to ensure that proper traffic and warning signs are provided with all ongoing road-improvement projects of the department.
“Once our rehabilitation works on national roads are completed, the situation will certainly improve,” Secretary Singson said. He appeals to the public to bear with the inconveniences and stressed the road improvement activities are needed in line with the government’s program to upgrade quality and safety of national roads and bridges.
The DPWH has also advised motorists’ to take alternate routes bypassing traffic-congested areas and road sections where construction activities are ongoing, with the concerned field offices of the department ordered to provide adequate traffic advisories specifying entry and exit points with the corresponding distances and strictly carry out the removal of obstructions along national roads and bridges.
In the Bicol Region, DPWH Region 5 Director Danilo Dequito has reported that some 30 Motorists’ Assistance Centers will be installed in conspicuous places of the national road, not only in the mainland provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Albay, and Sorsogon, but also in the Catanduanes and Masbate island provinces.
Motorists Assistance teams in Bicol will be placed in the following locations:
Province of Albay Province
- Basud, Sto. Domingo (DM Jct.-Legazpi-Sto. Domingo-Tabaco-Camarines Sur Bdry. Road)
- Busay, Daraga, Albay (Daang Maharlika)
- Paulog, Ligao City (in front of Albay 2nd DEO)
Province of Camarines Norte
- Tabugon, Sta. Elena (Km. 244+313, Daang Maharlika) with roving unit;
Province of  Camarines Sur
- Tambo, Pamplona (Daang Maharlika)
- Concepcion Grande, Naga City (Fronting TMG Hqtrs.)
- Tigaon Station (DPWH Junction)
- Buluang, Baao (Daang Maharlika)
- Bato Resthouse, Agos (Daang Maharlika)
- DPWH Sub-Office, Agrupacion, Ragay
Province of Catanduanes
- Manambrag, San Andres (Catanduanes Circ. Road)
- Pagsangahan, San Miguel (km. 24+780)
- Bato, Catanduanes (km. 7+760)
- Sicmil, Gigmoto (km. 64+800)
Province of  Masbate
- Jct. Milagros-Baleno-Lagta Road
- Jct. Tawad-Balud Road
- Masbate-Milagros/Masbate-Cataingan Road
- Junction Buenavista (Jct. Buenavista-Cawayan Road)
- Barangay Del Carmen (Jct. Buenavista-Cawayan Road)
- Barangay Balocawe, Dimasalang (Jct.Balatucan-Cataingan Rd.)
- Jct. Cataingan (Jct. Balatucan-Cataingan Road)
- Brgy. Katipunan (Jct. Cataingan-Placer Road)
- San Fernando South Road (Batuan Section)
- San Fernando North Road (San Fernando Section)
- San Fernando North Road (San Jacinto Section)
- San Fernando North Road (Monreal Section)
- San Pascual-Claveria Road (San Pascual Side)
- San Pascual-Claveria Road (Claveria Section)
Province of Sorsogon
- Pepita Park, Bucalbucalan (Daang Maharlika)
- San Pedro Multi-Purpose Brgy. Hall, Irosin (Km.621+800)

DBM released 91.3% of 2012 National Budget

Sustaining the high momentum of fund releases set earlier this year, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released 91.3% of this year’s budget for government agencies as of end-February, with P793 billion already released from the P869 billion earmarked for agency expenditures under the 2012 National Budget.
“The swift pace of our budget releases affirms the Aquino administration’s commitment of ensuring the quick delivery of critical goods and services to the public, particularly the poorest and most marginalized. The releases will enable all government departments and agencies to implement key projects and programs within—or even ahead of—their respective schedules for this fiscal year,” Budget and Management Secretary Florencio B. Abad said.
Under the budget set for various departments of the National Government, releases for Personal Services reached 99.7 or P425 billion of its P426.1 billion allocation. This covers expenses for salaries, allowances, and other personnel benefits, including pensions. The Administration has also released 92.5 percent—amounting to P217 billion—of the P234.4 billion set for Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE), while 72.5 percent or P151 billion of the P208.3 billion programmed for Capital Outlays has been released.
“In contrast to our previous year’s performance, we’re determined to make the bulk of our releases within the first semester of this fiscal year. This way, government agencies can take advantage of the good weather in the coming months for rolling out their projects, ahead of the opening of classes and the rainy season,” Abad said.
He added that fund releases under the 2012 General Appropriations Act (GAA) will spike further pending the release of department balances, particularly to the Department of Health (P20.3 billion), Department of Transportation and Communications (P12.2 billion), Department of Agriculture (P10.3 billion), Department of Education (P9 billion), and Department of Public Works and Highways (P7.9 billion).
“The current balance for these departments will be released once the agencies comply with the DBM’s submission requirements. These include special budget requests, as well as other documentary requirements. As much as we want to fast-track spending, we need to balance this out with agency due diligence and compliance, especially with respect to our standards for accountability and transparency,” Abad said.
Of the total 2012 program, 61 percent or P1.108 trillion of the P1.8-trillion budget has already been released by the DBM as of February 2012. Meanwhile, 73.5 percent or P803.3 billion of the P1.09 trillion programmed under the 2012 GAA has been released as of end-February.
The DBM also released 41.5 percent of the P723.6 billion for Automatic Appropriations under the 2012 budget. Of these appropriations, 100 percent or P273.3 billion set for Internal Revenue Allotments (IRA) has already been released, while 98.1 percent or P22.8 billion has been released for Retirement and Life Insurance Premiums.
Moreover, additional releases of P3.6 billion under the 2011 Continuing Appropriations were made in February this year, hiking up the total releases in this category to P5.03 billion. Of this, P2.8 billion was charged against the P11-billion pooled savings from the previous fiscal year, while P2.2 billion was charged against carry-over appropriations for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and certain Special Purpose Funds.

Philippines, Kuwait sign MOU for bilateral labor cooperation, workers welfare

The Philippines and Kuwait on March 23, 2012, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to strengthen bilateral-labor cooperation and strengthen workers welfare to the increasing labor and economic interaction between the two countries.
The accord was signed by and between Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz and Kuwaiti Minister of Commerce Anas Al-Saleh in the presence of His Excellency President Benigno S. Aquino III and the Royal Amir of Kuwait His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al Sabah at the Malacañan Palace.
The event is part of the official five-day state visit of the Royal Amir of Kuwait.
Baldoz said the Philippines is highly honored that the Royal Amir of Kuwait is visiting the Philippines. This is an affirmation, of the strong, vibrant, and dynamic bilateral-labor relations between the two states, according to the secretary.
“His visit to the Philippines recalls the most compassionate treatment consistently accorded by the Royal Amir to the OFWs, particularly distressed ones, facilitating their assistance and reintegration back to the Philippines,” Baldoz said.
The labor and employment chief said that on the part of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the accord is consistent with the aim of President Aquino III, in his 22-point platform and policy pronouncements on labor and employment, to strengthen the protection and welfare of OFWs, address the social costs of migration, and review the continued deployment of workers to countries, which are high-and medium-risk areas, as well the continued deployment of workers in high-risk occupations.
The accord, Baldoz said, immediately paves the road for the creation of a Philippine-Kuwait Joint Working Group that, based on Article 8, shall (a) ensure the implementation of the MOU; (b) jointly review and agree on a standard employment contract (for OFWs); (c) propose revisions of the MOU as may be necessary and to resolve problems in its implementation; and, (d) study emerging employment opportunities and suggest measures of technical cooperation, training skill enhancement and to provide all the sectors with technically skilled personnel for the benefit of both parties.
Based on Philippine Overseas Employment Administration figures, 65,603 documented overseas Filipino workers were deployed in Kuwait in 2011.
The accord, entitled “Memorandum of Understanding Between The Government of the State of Kuwait and The Government of the Republic of the Philippines in the Field of Labor Cooperation”, Kuwait and the Philippines affirmed the following:
•  Strengthen cooperation in the in the field of labor and employment and human resource development;
•  Facilitate relevant services to adopt and develop such cooperation within the framework of the existing laws, rules, and regulations of both countries;
•  Facilitate labor mobility within the framework of the existing applicable laws, rules, and regulations in each country;
•  The recruitment and employment of workers shall be in accordance with existing laws and procedures between the two countries and shall be governed by the mutual benefit;
• Share expertise and knowledge in the field of job creation and employment through exchange of visits and consultations;
• The basic conditions of employment and the rights and duties of both the employer and the employee shall be specified in the contract of employment in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations;
• The employment contract must be written in the Arabic and English languages, both being equally authentic;
• The employer in the host country shall issue the work permit along with the documents presented at the time of seeking approval as well as a copy of the employment contract of the worker within two months of his arrival in the country; and
• Any dispute between the employer and the worker arising out of the interpretation or implementation of the employment contract shall be settled amicably by consultation or negotiation. The worker’s right to labor and criminal courts shall likewise be ensured by both parties.
Baldoz was pleased with the other agreements resulting from the Kuwaiti visit, including agriculture and fisheries, along with an executive program and cultural accord, saying, “At core we recognize that these may have directly or indirectly, mutually beneficial labor and economic aspects between the Philippines and Kuwait.”
“Indeed, along with the generation of productive opportunities, workers welfare and protection remain of utmost priority, anent the overarching goal stated by President Aquino to invest in our country’s top resource—our human resource—to make us more competitive and employable while promoting industrial peace based on social justice,” Baldoz said.

P1,200.00 reload on Pantawid Pasada cards with jeepney plates ending in 6 and 7

Philippine JeepneyPhilippine Jeepney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it has finished reloading Pantawid Pasada cards associated with jeepney plates ending in 6 and 7.
Beneficiaries may now use their cards in participating gas stations nationwide. Pantawid Pasada cards associated with jeepney plate numbers ending in 0–5 have earlier been reloaded.
The DOE notes that it will need to reload cards of drivers whose jeepney plate numbers end with 8 and 9 in the coming weeks.
Only jeepney drivers with Pantawid Pasada cards claimed before December 31, 2011 and loaded with the initial amount of P1,050.00 within the same timeframe (May 2011 to December 2011) can enjoy the P1,200.00 reload.
The DOE highlights that the reloading is in line with President Aquino’s announcement in February 2012. The temporary program was intended to aid the drivers who face continued oil price hikes.
Pantawid Pasada cardholders may call the contact number at the back of the card: (02) 840-22-67, or they may call DOE trunk line 479-2900 local 329 if they have questions regarding their load.