Economic managers back military pension reform

Economic managers back military pension reform
(BusinessWorld) GOVERNMENT economic managers backed a proposal to reform the pension system for the military and police to prevent its collapse and ease fiscal burden.

In a statement, the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) said reforms would ensure a better framework for the pension system that could ease the pressure on state funds amid a coronavirus pandemic.

“Without funding sources to support this growing expenditure, the military and uniformed personnel pension system, as well as the fiscal stability of the National Government, is at serious risk,” it said.

“The ability of the government to compensate active personnel and invest resources to keep [them] in fighting shape is also in jeopardy,” it added.

The interagency body composed of the Department of Finance, Department of Budget and Management, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the National Economic and Development Authority said keeping the so-called automatic indexation of pensions to salaries of uniformed personnel is unsustainable.

Indexation aligns a retiree’s benefits to wage increases for active workers.

The DBCC said salaries of the military and police increased at an average of 19.63% from 2008 to 2019. The government has suspended the indexation pending are review by lawmakers and the Executive branch.

Despite the increase, soldiers and policemen are not subject to the mandatory contributions deducted from the monthly salaries of government employees. Their pensions are provided for in the national budget.

A study by the Government Service Insurance System showed that the government needs to allot P9.6 trillion to keep the pension system afloat without reforms.

“We urge Congress to pass a fiscally sustainable version of the military and uniformed personnel pension reform when the session resumes,” the DBCC said.

House Bill 9271 authored by Albay Rep. Jose Maria Clemente S. Salceda seeks to reform the system by creating a more sustainable framework for separation, retirement and pension for retired soldiers and policemen. The bill has been pending at a House of Representatives committee level.

“Sourcing the funds for a noncontributory pension system from the budget means curtailment of other equally pressing demands of public welfare including those for food, medicine, infrastructure and even digital transformation,” former central bank Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo said a BusinessWorld column in May… Read More

Koko Pimentel to PDP-Laban partymates: Don’t pressure Duterte to run for VP

Koko Pimentel to PDP-Laban partymates: Don’t pressure Duterte to run for VP
(GMA News) Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Wednesday asked his partymates in the ruling PDP-Laban not to pressure President Rodrigo Duterte to run for vice president in Eleksyon 2022.

Pimentel, the former president of the PDP-Laban, recalled interactions with Duterte where the latter repeatedly said that he would retire from politics after his term.

“Ako, nu’ng time na maraming pa kaming interactions lalo na nung Senate President pa ako ang naririnig ko is, ‘Pagtapos ng term ko, wala na akong political ambition,” Pimentel told GMA News Online.

“Narating ko na ‘yung pinakamataas na political office in the Republic of the Philippines.’ Hindi na raw s’ya mamumulitika,” he added.

[When I had several interactions with him, especially when I was still the Senate President, I always hear him say ‘After my term, I have no political ambition. I have reached the highest political office in the Republic of the Philippines.’ He said he no longer wants to be involved in politics.]

“Siguro naman naniniwala ako sa paulit-ulit kong narinig. If they want also to give in to the desire of the person and follow the wishes of the person, ‘di na dapat siya pine-pressure nang ganyan,” Pimentel said.

[I believe on what he repeatedly said. If they want also to give in to the desire of the person and follow the wishes of the person, then they should not pressure the person to pursue what some of our partymates want.]

A resolution by the ruling PDP-Laban party circulated in March urging Duterte to run for vice president, but House Deputy Speaker Eric Martinez, a party stalwart, said that it was not final… Read More

Kai Sotto part of Gilas 12 in 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers

Kai Sotto part of Gilas 12 in 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers
(CNNPhilippines) Metro Manila – Kai Sotto, the 7-foot-4 basketball wunderkind, will don the national colors in the third window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers slated for June 16-20 at Clark, Pampanga.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas released on Tuesday the 12-man Gilas Pilipinas lineup for the tournament, where the Filipinos will face rival South Korea twice on June 16 and 20, and Indonesia on June 18.

Fielded along with Sotto for the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers are newly naturalized player Angelo Kouame, Gilas Cadet veteran Justine Baltazar, and team captain Isaac Go.

Go said the upcoming qualifying tournament is a good time to test the young Gilas frontcourt, the perennial problem of the Philippines in international competitions.

“The younger generations will only gonna get taller,” Go told CNN Philippines’ Sports Desk on Monday. “So it’s a bright future for Philippine basketball.”

Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin expressed his confidence that the 19-year-old Sotto will perform well despite attending few practices with the team to complete his 14-day quarantine when he arrived from the United States.

“He did his best to stay in shape during that period but it’s a very quick turnaround. We don’t want to rush him back because, as we’ve said in the past, we cannot risk our long-term goals for short-term gains,” Baldwin said.

Manning the Gilas backcourt are youngsters RJ Abarrientos and SJ Belangel, Mike Nieto, Jaydee Tungcab, and Dwight Ramos, who had an impressive showing in the Gilas cadets’ campaign in the competition’s second window last November.

Young hooper Carl Tamayo was also added in the lineup along with veteran Gilas Cadet forwards Javi Gomez de Liano and William Navarro.

Meanwhile, SBP also released the 12-man Gilas roster for their June 18 game against Indonesia. Teenage prospects Geo Chiu and Lebron Lopez, and Filipino Australian guard Jordan Heading were inserted into the lineup in lieu of Tungcab, Nieto, and de Liano.

Gilas only needs a win to advance in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup in Indonesia this August. They currently lead Group A with an immaculate 3-0 record… Read More

Meralco strengthens its Pulilan substation

Meralco strengthens its Pulilan substation
(BusinessWorld) Meralco recently commissioned its new 50 MVA transformer bank no. 2 in its Pulilan 69 kV – 13.8 kV Substation located along the Plaridel-Pulilan Diversion Road, Pulilan, Bulacan, providing additional capacity to its existing 33 MVA transformer bank. Likewise, this project provides switching flexibility during contingencies, ensuring continuous power supply of the customers served by the said substation in the areas of Pulilan, Bustos, Baliwag, and Plaridel in Bulacan. The newly installed transformer bank will also improve voltage regulation and reduce technical system loss in the area. Despite the continued implementation of community quarantine measures throughout the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Meralco and its subsidiaries are continuously working hard to improve its distribution system in order to provide safe, adequate, and reliable electric service to its customers… Read More

NGAP: 3 Filipino golfers to see action at Tokyo Olympic Games

NGAP: 3 Filipino golfers to see action at Tokyo Olympic Games
(BusinessWorld) THREE Filipino golfers are expected to compete in rescheduled Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, on the strength of their standings in the world rankings.

Newly crowned US Women’s Open champion Yuka Saso, Asian Games and Southeast Asian Games gold winner Bianca Pagdanganan, and Juvic Pagunsan are all technical qualified for the biennial Games since they are all in top 60 players in their respective divisions, shared Bones Floro, secretary-general of the National Golf Association of the Philippines (NGAP), at the online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday.

Ms. Saso, 19, is currently number eight in the world, boosted by her historic win recently in the US Open in San Francisco, while Ms. Pagdanganan, 23, sits at the number 42. Forty-three-year-old Pagunsan, for his part, has made a late charge deep in the rankings, now sitting at 51st.

In the Olympics, the top 60 players for men and women earn spots.

The NGAP and the players are only waiting for the official confirmation.

Mr. Floro said at the moment they have begun working on what the players will need for their participation in the Olympics.

“It is going to be challenging since Yuka, Bianca and Juvic will be coming from different parts of the world, but we are up for it. That’s our job,” said Mr. Floro.

He went on to say that the players still have some tournaments to take part in the lead-up to the Games and that the NGAP will be coordinating with the players’ respective groups as far as preparations are concerned.

The NGAP official said that they are expecting a tough road in the country’s Olympic golf quest, but one should like the chances of the Filipino players with the way they are competing with the best in the world.

“Yuka, for one, gained a lot of confidence with her win in the US Open. The victory made her realize she can stand against the top players and have defeated them, which will be big entering the Olympics,” Mr. Floro said.

Ms. Pagdanganan has been a steady competitor in the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour, the most recent in the LPGA Mediheal Championship in Daly City, California, from June 10 to 13.

Mr. Pagunsan, meanwhile, won the Mizuno Open in Japan on May 30.

The NGAP said for this year’s Olympics, happening from July 23 to Aug. 8, there will be no team competitions.

Golf will be played for the second straight Olympics in Japan. The Tokyo Olympics golf competitions are scheduled from July 29 to Aug. 7 at the Kasumigaseki Country Club… Read More

Pagdanganan closes out with 71

Pagdanganan closes out with 71
(PhilStar) MANILA, Philippines — Bianca Pagdanganan closed out with a one-under par 71 to finish at joint 64th in the LPGA Mediheal Championship yesterday at Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City, California.

Pagdanganan wound up tied with Japanese Haru Nomura (73) and Australian Sarah Jane Smith (74) at four-over 292, 18 strokes behind the winning 274 of Finnish Matilda Castren (65).

LPGA rookie Castren scored a two-shot triumph over Taiwanese Min Lee, who tallied 276 after a final-day 69.

Pagdanganan, 23, netted $3,373 (P161,000) in the $1.5 million event a week after Yuka Saso’s historic triumph in the US Open.

Pagdanganan got off to a good start as she fired a 71 for a share of 14th… Read More

Duterte extends suspension of VFA abrogation by another 6 months

Duterte extends suspension of VFA abrogation by another 6 months
(CNNPhilippines) Metro Manila — President Rodrigo Duterte is holding off for six more months the abrogation of the country’s Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. said on Monday.

In a video announcement, Locsin said the President decided to extend the suspension to further study the move “while both sides address his concerns regarding particular aspects of the agreement.”

The decision came after Philippine and US officials submitted to Duterte an “improved” version of the VFA, which Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez said officials had worked on over the past few months.

The President terminated the agreement in February 2020. The termination process, however, was suspended in June last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and emerging threats in the disputed South China Sea.

The Philippine government again held off the suspension in November 2020.

The VFA provides the legal framework for the presence of American troops in the Philippines as they conduct joint military exercises… Read More

China slams G7 ‘manipulation’ after Xinjiang, Hong Kong criticism

China slams G7 'manipulation' after Xinjiang, Hong Kong criticism
(Manila Times) PEKIN: China on Monday accused the G7 of “political manipulation” after it criticized Beijing over its human rights record in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

In a communique after a three-day summit in England, G7 leaders slammed China over abuses against minorities in the Xinjiang region and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, while US President Joe Biden called for Beijing to “start acting more responsibly in terms of international norms on human rights.”

The Chinese embassy in the United Kingdom responded angrily on Monday, and accused the G7 of “interfering.”

“The Group of Seven (G-7) takes advantage of Xinjiang-related issues to engage in political manipulation and interfere in China’s internal affairs, which we firmly oppose,” an embassy spokesman said in a statement.

The statement accused the G7 of “lies, rumors and baseless accusations.”

Human rights groups say China has rounded up an estimated one million Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang into internment camps, which Beijing says is to eradicate Islamic extremism.

“We will promote our values, including by calling on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms” the G7 communique read.

(from left) Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden, France’s President Emmanuel Macron, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga attend a plenary session during G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall on June 13, 2021. AFP PHOTO
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At their first physical summit in nearly two years, leaders of the seven nations announced a number of pledges on Covid-19 vaccinations, climate change, rights and trade.

They also called for a new investigation in China into the origins of Covid-19 – prompting a response from the Chinese embassy that the work needs to be done in a “scientific, objective and fair manner,” without agreeing to a new probe… Read More