Senate panel kicks off hearings on measures seeking to boost PPP

The Senate Committee on Public Works on Tuesday started discussing various measures seeking to strengthen public-private partnerships (PPPs) to develop the country’s public infrastructure and other projects. Committee chair, Senator Ramon Revilla Jr., said the measures, filed by the senators to support the national government’s ‘Build Better More,’ are also included in the priority legislation mentioned by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July last year. ‘In his message, the President already outlined the direction we should take in amending the law. Batid natin ang kahalagahan ng batas na ito sa pagpapadaloy ng mga serbisyo sa ating mga mamamayan. Ang mga amendments sa (Build-Operate-Transfer) BOT Law ay naglalayong pagtibayin at pagyabungin pa ang mga benepisyo sa ilalim ng nasabing batas (We know the importance of this law in serving our people. The amendments to the BOT Law seek to strengthen and develop the benefits under it,)’ Revilla said during the hearing. Marcos noted in his inaugural SONA that the planned expansion of infrastructure projects would be possible if the private sector continues to participate in the development of government programs. “Public-Private Partnerships or PPPs hold great potential for that expansion, for infrastructure development, and for innovation,” he said. In pushing the amendment of the law, Marcos seeks to address the ambiguities in the existing law, bottlenecks, and challenges affecting the implementation of the PPP Program, and foster a more competitive and enabling environment for PPPs. During the hearing, Revilla emphasized the importance of PPPs and the urgent need to implement the proposed amendments. ‘PPPs are said to be schemes that offer more benefits than risk to our development. With PPPs, projects may be completed sooner. Higit pa rito, may mga proyektong nagiging posible nang dahil sa dito (Apart from this, there are projects that became possible because of this). It turns what seems to be too ambitious into reality. In fact, it is a promising route as we pursue the massive infrastructure development in the country under the ‘Build Better More’ banner,” he said. The pending measures, if consolidated and passed into law, will enhance the government’s ease and reduced the cost of doing business; augmented financial incentives for private partners; straightforward, fair, and systematic governing rules; more transparent and competitive bidding and selection process; more established rules and guidelines on unsolicited proposals; and inclusion of PPP projects by the local government units and local universities and colleges, which are also part of the cross-cutting strategies identified in the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028.

Source: Philippines News Agency

Solon calls for digitalization of nat’l licensure exams

The digitalization of the Bar examinations should prompt the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) to modernize other licensure exams, according to Northern Samar 1st District Rep. Paul Daza on Tuesday. At the same time, he congratulated the successful November 2022 Bar candidates and commended the ‘steadily improving’ passing rate of the exam. He also commended the Supreme Court ‘for the ongoing reforms implementation, including the digitization of the Bar examinations.’ ‘I hope that these positive developments encourage the Professional Regulation Commission to ramp up the modernization of other licensure exams,’ Daza said in a statement. Daza is hoping that through the digitalization and modernization of licensure processes, the country will continue to produce competitive professionals. He earlier urged the PRC, Commission on Higher Education and Board of Nursing to reassess ‘flaws in the licensure framework with its complicated, almost archaic regulations.’ Daza also called on the government to solve the growing problem of Philippine nurses choosing to work abroad, resulting in a shortage. ‘Let us, by all means, continue to raise the standard for Filipino skills but let’s not compromise when it comes to being inclusive,’ Daza said. ‘We are stewards of the next generation of Filipino talent. We must empower all those who seek to be professionals and serve our country, regardless of social status or physical condition,’ he added.

Source: Philippines News Agency

Malasakit Center eyed north of Antique

The Antique Provincial Board wants to make services of the Malasakit Center more accessible, especially by indigents in the northern part of the province, and has requested for its establishment at Culasi District Hospital. Vice Governor Edgar Denosta’s resolution requesting for another Malasakit Center, addressed to Senator Lawrence Christopher Go and the Department of Health (DOH), was approved by the provincial board during their regular session on Monday. Go conceptualized the Malasakit Center, a one-stop shop facility within the premises of all DOH-run hospital where indigent and financially incapacitated patients can access assistance from the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and Department of Social Welfare and Development. Republic Act 11436 or the Malasakit Center Act was signed by former president Rodrigo Duterte on Dec.2, 2019. Other public hospitals of local government units, state universities and colleges, Department of National Defense, Department of the Interior and Local Government, including the Philippine National Police, and the Department of Justice, may also apply for a Malasakit Center. “Through the establishment of a Malasakit Center in the town of Culasi, the government can deliver basic services to our province mates in the northern municipalities in the most efficient, responsive, and sustainable manner,” Denosta said in an interview on Tuesday. It can serve patients from northern municipalities Libertad, Pandan, Tibiao, Barbaza, Laua-an, Caluya, and the host town when realized. The existing center was installed at Angel Salazar Memorial General Hospital (ASMGH) in San Jose de Buenavista in 2020. A patient from Libertad, the northernmost town, has to travel for at least 143 kilometers, spending almost PHP500 for public transport, just to access services in San Jose de Buenavista. “With the Malasakit Center at the ASMGH, patients or their families no longer have to go to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation or the Department of Social Welfare and Development to avail of assistance for they have personnel assigned already at the one-stop shop,” said Integrated Provincial Health Officer I Dr. Leoncio Abiera Jr. in a separate interview.

Source: Philippines News Agency

Final draft on PNP execs’ resignation to be submitted Thursday

Outgoing Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said the final draft on the screening of third-level officials for their possible involvement in illegal drugs will be submitted to the National Police Commission (Napolcom) on Thursday. Azurin, who is a member of the five-man advisory group, said they have already processed 953 courtesy resignations of police generals and colonels. ‘We will submit this Thursday the final draft. Definitely the 953 na nag-submit, nahagip naman sila lahat. So some were recommended na na-clear (while) some are still being deliberated,’ Azurin told reporters on Monday. The other members of the advisory body are retired police general and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, Office of the Presidential Adviser on Military Affairs Undersecretary Isagani Nerez, former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and retired Court of Appeals Justice Melchor Sadang He said senior officers found to be possibly involved in illegal drugs will not be immediately dismissed from service but will investigated further for possible administrative cases. ‘Siguro hindi tanggalin but kasuhan and then mag-conduct ng investigation, further investigation to determine yung kanilang liability or culpability on criminal and administrative but mag-umpisa ‘yan sa administrative case muna. Hindi ganun kadali (They won’t dismissed right away but will be charged and investigated to determine their criminal and administrative liability. It will not be easy but it will definitely start with an administrative case,’ Azurin said. The country’s top cop said the Napolcom will have to review the recommendation of the five-man advisory group for them to check their recommendations before forwarding for approval or denial of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. The Napolcom is chaired by Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. and includes Azurin as an ex-officio commissioner. ‘Any recommendation by the advisory group will go through Napolcom and then Napolcom will review and then finally they will endorse it to the President for his approval,’ Azurin said, who will retire from the service upon reaching the mandatory age of 56 on April 24. Azurin, a member of the Philippine Military Academy ‘Makatao’ Class of 1989, was appointed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. as the country’s 28th top cop in August last year. Azurin, who has been in police service for over 38 years, is the first PNP chief of the Marcos administration. Officials whose resignations will be accepted would be forced to retire. The mandatory retirement age of uniformed personnel of the PNP is 56 and those who were asked to resign are generals and police colonels, some of whom still have at least eight years in the service. On Jan. 4, Abalos called for the courtesy resignation of 955 police colonels and generals to cleanse the ranks of those involved in illegal drug activities. Abalos said the committee would thoroughly vet police officials and submit the names of those whose resignations have been accepted to the Napolcom for another round of verification before submitting their recommendation to the President. The move aims to cleanse the ranks of officers in the police organization from possible influence or connivance with drug syndicates.

Source: Philippines News Agency

Sacred Phabang Buddha image invited to be watered

Authorities and people of Luang Prabang City held a religious ceremony to invite revered Phabang Buddha image to be sprinkled with perfumed water on the occasion of Pi Mai Lao (Lao New Year B.E. 2566). On April 17, Authorities and people of Luang Prabang City held a religious ceremony to invite revered Phabang Buddha image to be sprinkled with perfumed water on the occasion of Pi Mai Lao (Lao New Year B.E. 2566).

The Buddha image was paraded from Hor Phabang at the National Museum of Luang Phabang to Souvannaphoummalam Temple.

The parade was joined by venerable monks, central and provincial leaders including former central leader Mr Somsavat Lengsavad, Luang Prabang Governor Khamkhan Chanthavisouk, and representatives of relevant authorities, local people, domestic and foreign visitors.

General public members can water Phabang at Souvannaphoummalam Temple through April 20.

Source: Lao News Agency

Seminar highlights historical values of Upper Laos Victory

The historical values and lessons drawn from the Victory of Upper Laos (northern provinces of Laos) in 1953 were spotlighted at a scientific seminar held by the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defence in the northern border province of Son La, Vietnam on April 13. The historical values and lessons drawn from the Victory of Upper Laos (northern provinces of Laos) in 1953 were spotlighted at a scientific seminar held by the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defence in the northern border province of Son La, Vietnam on April 13.

Opening the event, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of National Defence Sen. Lt. Gen. Le Huy Vinh said that the victory was a milestone in the resistance war against the French colonialists and a vivid symbol of the faithful friendship and the fighting alliance between Vietnam and Laos.

It showed the strategic vision, wise and creative leadership and direction of the General Military Commission, the General High Command of the Vietnam People’s Army, and the Campaign’s High Command, he said.

Vinh also highlighted precious lessons learnt from the victory, including the close coordination between the militaries and people of Vietnam and Laos.

Secretary of the Party Committee of Son La province Nguyen Huu Dong said that the historical values of the friendship and special solidarity between the two nations shown through the victory have been maintained today.

He underlined that Son La has given the highest priority to developing the special friendship, solidarity and comprehensive cooperation with localities of Laos, considering the ties as a priceless treasure shared by the two nations.

Nearly 80 speeches delivered at the seminar affirmed and deepened theoretical and practical issues related to the victory, thus contributing to reinforcing and developing the Laos-Vietnam special relationship.

Source: Lao News Agency