01 March 2015

Malta’s Prince arrives Sunday for a weeklong Philippine visit
The Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta Fra’ Matthew Festing, arrives today, Sunday, for a weeklong official visit in the Philippines, the Palace announced on Saturday.

Fra’ Festing, whose official visit marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Malta, will stay in the country until March 7, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a statement.

He is scheduled to meet with President Aquino to discuss bilateral relations before proceeding to Eastern Samar to see the ongoing shelter projects there funded by Malta.

The region was ravaged by Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013, killing thousands and destroying people’s livelihood.

Malta’s visiting prince will also hand over the symbolic key for his country’s donation of core shelters–540 finished houses, 64 ongoing, and 96 to be constructed. The shelter project is expected to be finished by the end of May 2015.

Aside from meeting President Aquino in Malacanang, Fra’ Festing’s official delegation will also meet with Vice President Jejomar Binay, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Acting Health Secretary Janette Garin.

On March 5, Thursday, Fra’ Festing and his official delegation will visit Basey, Samar and see the 350 core shelters donated by Malta.

Malteser International, Malta’s humanitarian, has been actively working in the Philippines providing assistance in areas like healthcare, hygiene and sanitation.

The organization is also involved in feeding programs, the provision of food supplements and medical supplies and disaster relief and rehabilitation. PND (as)

DSWD earmarks 4.85 million pesos for residents affected by armed conflict in Maguindanao, says Palace
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has allotted 4.85 million pesos for the residence affected by the ongoing armed conflict in Maguindanao, Palace said on Sunday.

“Naglaan na ang DSWD ng tulong na nagkakahalaga ng P4,850,000 para sa pagkain at iba pang serbisyo,” said Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., on Sunday.

“May 2,090 pamilya o 10,450 katao mula sa pitong barangay sa bayan ng Datu Salibo, lalawigan ng Maguindanao ang kasalukuyang nasa anim na evacuation centers at binibigyan ng kalinga sa kanilang mga pangangailangan. Ito ay bunsod ng armed conflict sa pagitan ng Sandatahang Lakas at BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters),” Coloma added.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has an operation against the BIFF who believed to had aided two high value targets.

On January 25, police operatives conducted a manhunt on suspected terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan and Abdul Basit Usman in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

The operation resulted to the killing of Marwan, while Usman eluded arrest. Forty-four police commandos were killed by suspected members of the BIFF and Moro Islamic Liberation Front during the operation.

Coloma also noted that there are additional provisions from the disaster response operations monitoring and information center of the DSWD and its field office in Region 12, should there be a need so. PND (ag)

APEC delegates to tackle financial inclusion in Tagaytay City meeting
Officials and stakeholders gathering in the Philippines for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum will meet in at Taal Vista Lodge in Tagaytay City on March 3 and 4 to discuss financial inclusion.

The APEC delegates will meet during the Asia-Pacific Forum on Financial Inclusion, to be hosted by the Department of Finance.

The event is being organized by the APEC Business Advisory Council, and the Foundation for Development Cooperation, in partnership with Citi Foundation and in collaboration with GE Capital, the International Finance Corp. (IFC), the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the Policy and Economic Research Council (PERC).

The APEC Advisory Group for Financial Systems Capacity Building has been convening the Asia-Pacific Forum on Financial Inclusion since 2010 to provide policymakers and regulators with priority recommendations in relation to financial inclusion.

This year’s forum will seek to bring to the next level work that has been done on a number of issues in previous years’ forums and discussions under the APEC Finance Ministers’ Process (FMP).

The first day will begin with a review of what has been learned and proposed from past discussions in the Forum and the FMP.

Participants will also complete the review by discussing the situation in three emerging APEC economies such as Mexico, Vietnam and Papua New Guinea that were not assessed in last year’s forum.

Plenary sessions will conclude with a discussion of digital finance, the opportunities it presents and its implications for the provision of financial services and regulations.

The afternoon sessions on March 3 and the morning session on March 4 will focus on advancing discussions in two important priority issues such as credit information system and legal and institutional framework for secured transactions.

The forum will conclude with reports on the outcomes of the various sessions and agreement among participants to progress initiatives and proposals to the APEC Finance Ministers.

The APEC meetings in Tagaytay City and in other parts of the country are a run-up to the APEC Leaders’ Meeting in November, to be attended by leaders of the grouping’s 21 member economies. PND (as)