Aris: No to re-blocking, improve gravel roads

By JUNE S. BLANCO

REP. Erico Aristotle Aumentado (Bohol, 2nd District) has expressed anxiety anew over the “wastage” of public funds in the re-clocking activities of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Aumentado says far from being shattered to merit re-blocking, the concrete pavements are still whole.

He says the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is heading in the right direction when it started improving local roads.

To note, the DILG has embarked into the Conditional Matching Grant to Provinces (CMGP) program that started with provincial roads but will ultimately include all other roads.

Being one of initially 10 provinces that received grants from the Government of Australia to rehabilitate, maintain and improve provincial roads, Bohol already has a Provincial Road Network Development Plan (PRNDP).

With CMGP, however, DILG has instructed the provinces to upgrade their respective PRNDPs into Local Road Network Development Plans (LRNDP) to include city, municipal and even barangay roads.

It may not be easy, but Aumentado is looking at the possibility that DPWH and DILG can pool their resources together to help local government units (LGUs) improve their roads.

He said LGUs are mandated to allocate 20% of their income for development funds. Since the allocation of barangays and even municipalities are not as substantial as those of cities and provinces to rehabilitate, repair and improve roads, he expressed the desire that funds for re-blocking be spent for the former instead,

DPWH’ re-blocking activities have drawn flak from netizens who bash that agency for the seeming waste of public funds.

To register his opposition to early re-blocking, Aumentado filed a bill seeking to  declare concrete roads to be “no touch” to DPWH and its contractors for the duration of their life span.

This means, he explained, roads designed to last for five years, if found still good, should be touched or re-blocked – only when the five years are up.

This will complement President Duterte’s economic agenda, he said.

With the national highways stil “untouchable”, DPWH will have the option of developing qualified rural roads instead.

Only then can the rural areas be empowered to contribute to the economy. To note, Aumentado said, bad roads spell delays in bringing farm produce to the market – make leafy greens wither and less saleable, and worse, at a higher price since habal-habal drivers charge higher fares.

Cusi Orders Importation of Low-Cost Oil to Help Arrest Inflation

 

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi takes steps to address slowing growth and high commodity prices by tapping the Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC) to import low-priced fuel.

 

PNOC-EC acquired in December last year, a trading function to generate added income for the government.

 

“PNOC-EC will source low-priced petroleum products particularly diesel, to mitigate the impact of volatile oil prices,” Sec. Cusi said.

 

The measure is expected to have a ripple effect on taming the prices of basic commodities, thus controlling inflation. The resulting price relief would ease the plight of consumers.

 

Under the project, the trading function of PNOC-EC will be employed in the acquisition of low-priced fuel which will mainly come from state deals.

 

The PNOC-EC Board chaired by the Energy Chief is drafting the trading procedure and policy safeguards for the public on the proposed importation.

 

The products bought at a special price will be made available to dealers, operators and independent petroleum players under a Memorandum of Agreement.

 

EURO-II COMPLIANT DIESEL

 

The Department of Energy (DOE) also issued a Memorandum Order requiring oil companies to provide Euro-II compliant automotive diesel oil to help reduce fuel prices.

 

“Pursuant to existing Philippine National Standards on Diesel Fuel Quality and in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act 8479, otherwise known as the Downstream Oil Deregulation Law, Republic Act 8749, otherwise known as the Philippine Clean Air Act and for the purpose of reducing the impact of rising petroleum prices in the world market, all industry players are hereby directed to provide at the retail level Euro-II compliant automative diesel oil as a fuel option for the transport and industrial customers,” the Memorandum Order stated.

 

It also directed oil companies offering Euro-II compliant diesel to submit a monthly compliance report, indicating the list of participating retail outlets.

 

According to Sec. Cusi, the sale of said diesel will be subjected to close monitoring by the DOE.

DTI launches nursing education fair in Indonesia

PH EDUCATION SERVICES IN INDONESIA. Participants during the two-day education fair in Medan, Indonesia last 30-31 July 2018

The Department of Trade and Industry through its Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Jakarta (PTIC-Jakarta) and the Embassy of the Philippines together with the top Philippine universities and accredited institutions in the field of nursing successfully co-organized the Nursing Education Fair last 30-31 July 2018 in Medan, Indonesia.

Participated in by more than three hundred Indonesian students, faculty, and school administrators from Medan and North Sumatra, the event provided an opportunity for Philippine nursing schools to assess the Indonesian space for expansion as well as forge academic partnerships, student exchange, and capacity building for faculties.

PTIC Jakarta shared that part of its strategic initiatives in Indonesia is the promotion of Philippine education services through school visits and roadshows.

Top Philippine nursing schools joined the fair include University of Sto. Tomas (UST), Centro Escolar University (CEU), Far Eastern University (FEU), San Pedro College – Davao (SPC), University of Perpetual Help Dalta (UPHD), and Saint Louis University (SLU).

During the two-day event, some of the participating schools like UST and CEU have established partnerships with Indonesian universities. Matching sessions among Philippine nursing universities, Indonesian schools, and associations were also conducted at Sari Mutiara University for prospective students and possible memorandum of understanding (MOU).

“The fair aims to further the cooperation between the Indonesian and Philippine nursing educational institutions. By promoting the educational services sector, we hope to provide more opportunities in the country that will eventually lead to job generation,” said PTIC Jakarta Commercial Attaché Jeremiah Reyes.

PTIC-Jakarta Commercial Attache Jeremiah Reyes with some of the participants during the nursing education fair.

DTI-EMB assists Cebu, Davao startups

In an effort to deepen relationships with local startup ecosystem players in Cebu and Davao and complete the ecosystem assessment of the two cities for the Startup Genome Project, the Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB) organized the conduct of a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) in Cebu and Davao on 18 and 20 July 2018, respectively.

Startup Genome Project aims to increase the success rate of startups and improve the performance of startup ecosystems across more than 30 countries, including the Philippines. The DTI-EMB facilitated the Philippines’ first-time participation in the Startup Genome Project, which released the 2018 Global Startup Ecosystem Report in April this year.  The 2018 GSER featured strategic start-up, investment and policy insights from over 10,000 founders in 45 cities, including Manila.

Attended by some 100 startups, technology business incubators (TBIs), accelerators, business support organizations (BSOs), academe, and government agencies, the FGD was facilitated by Startup Genome Director of Research Arnobio Morelix and Manager of Research Pranav Arya in Harolds Hotel in Cebu City and The Pinnacle Hotel and Suites in Davao City.

With assistance from DTI-VII OIC Assistant Regional Director Ma. Elena C. Arbon and DTI-XI Industry Development Division Chief Marie Anne J. How, the FGD focused on the challenges Cebu and Davao startups face, the strengths of their ecosystems, and the recommended solutions to address their key concerns.

“In addition to getting a better understanding of the local startup scene and ultimately work together with you to increase your exposure and improve your performance, this FGD also aims to elicit your commitment to be Ecosystem Partners in the research through sharing of your expertise and supporting data collection, learn from your insights to complete the Ecosystem 360 Rubric, and ask you to complete the Organization Assessment,” Morelix said.

Morelix also reported to the participants the Manila Ecosystem Findings, which he also presented to Trade and Investments Promotion Group (TIPG) Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado, DTI-EMB Director Senen M.  Perlada, EMB-Knowledge Processing Division (KPD) Chief Vic Soriano, EMB-KPD Assistant Division Chief Angie Brosas, Kaye Mendoza of EMB-KPD, and Brian Jay Ambulo from the Office of TIPG Undersecretary.

Based on Startup Genome’s analysis, Manila is currently in Activation Phase in terms of experience levels, ecosystem size (startup output), and resource attraction. While Manila’s overall startup experience is close to Activation Phase average, the ecosystem needs more sizable exits, the Report said.

The Report also noted that output growth in Manila shows that the ecosystem is expanding rapidly and that overall global resource attraction is higher than the phase average.

However, Manila ecosystem needs to improve in terms of funding and number of experienced engineers. It added that Manila has not been able to create a series of $100M+ exits in the ecosystem, which are a must for resource attraction. Focus must be on driving valuations and achieving multiple $100M+ exits to enter next phase, the Report said.

The Report also pointed out that market reach is the single metric most closely related to ecosystem production of scaleups and exits. Manila startups, the Report noted, have lower global market reach than most of their peers in the Activation Phase.

“Startups with higher global market reach early on see their revenue grow two times faster and are more likely to become scaleups,” Morelix stressed, adding that global market reach is driven by global connectedness.

“Notably, ecosystems’ focus should be on building connections with top ecosystems,” he said.

The Report concluded that Manila startups have more potential to strengthen global market reach.

In photo: Startup Genome Director of Research Arnobio Morelix (left) assists a participant complete the survey during the Focus Group Discussion (FGD) held at Harolds Hotel, Cebu City on July 18, 2018 while Startup Genome Manager of Research Pranav Arya (3rd from left) looks on. The same FGD was also conducted at the Pinnacle Hotel and Suites for Davao City startups on July 20, 2018.

ARTA calls for review of Citizen’s Charters to align with  new EODB law—3-7-20 rule for faster government  transactions must be strictly observed

As the temporary secretariat of the Anti-Red Tape Authority, the Department of Trade and Industry-Competitiveness Bureau (CB) urged all government agencies to start the review of their systems and processes starting with their existing Citizen’s Charter, to comply with the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018.

Speaking before the officials of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Assistant Secretary Pacheco cited Section 5 of Republic Act 11032, calling for the reengineering of their systems and procedures.

“The EODB Act took effect last June 17 and under the law, all LGUs and NGAs are directed to initiate review of existing policies and operations and commences with the reengineering of their systems and procedures, even without the IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations). We urge you to update your Citizen’s Charter.” DTI Assistant Secretary Mary Jean Pacheco told the participants of Anti Red Tape Task Force Meeting at the BSP.

Under the new law, the reduced processing time for simple transactions is now 3 days, while for complex transactions is 7 working days. Highly technical transactions should be processed within 20 working days. Applications and request for license, clearance, permit, or authorization which require the approval of local Sangguniang Bayan, Sangguniang Panlungsod, or Sangguniang Panglalawigan should only take 45 working days, which could be extended for another 20 working days. Likewise, the law also reduced the number of signatories to only three, further facilitating business-related transactions.

The EODB law also mandates all government agencies to setup the most current and updated Citizen’s Charter, the service standard which shall detail the following information:

 

  1.  a) a comprehensive and uniform checklist of requirements for each type of application or request;
  2. b) the procedure to obtain a particular service;
  3. c) the person/s responsible for each step;
  4. d) the maximum time to complete process;
  5. e) the documents to be presented by the applicant or requesting party, if necessary
  6. f) the amount of fees, if necessary; and
  7. g) the procedure for filing complaints

 

The act of requiring additional documentary requirements and fees not listed in the agency’s Citizen’s Charter shall be punishable by six months suspension (administrative liability) for the first offense, and dismissal from public office, and forfeiture of retirement benefits and imprisonment of 1-6 years with a fine ranging from PhP 500,000 to PhP 2,000,000 (administrative and criminal liability) for second offense.

 

Assistant Secretary Pacheco highlighted the importance of establishing an updated Citizen Charter as it will serve as a useful reference for the public when transacting with frontline services. Reengineering the systems is needed to reduce bureaucratic red tape and processing time.

 

“For the government agencies to effectively put EODB Law at work, we should reengineer our systems and procedures, by undertaking cost compliance analysis, time and motion studies, evaluation and improvement of transaction systems, and initiate review of existing policies and operations, in compliance with the provisions of the RA 11032.” Asec Pacheco added.