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Saturday, March 12, 2022

5 Tips for Entrepreneurs to be Successful in the Cannabis Market



Wazzup Pilipinas!?




Many governments worldwide are gradually realizing the benefits inherent in cannabis. As a result, quite a few have relaxed the laws, making it legal to sell and distribute marijuana for medical and recreational use. These regions often have authorized dealers licensed to sell cannabis products in stores called dispensaries.

Canada and some US states have several stores where one can purchase cannabis products without getting into trouble with the law. Series of entrepreneurs have realized the potential in the cannabis business. However, due to the heavy regulation that this niche has seen, it is not recommended to dabble into the business without the necessary knowledge and tips for success.

As a result, this article sheds light on everything a cannabis entrepreneur needs for success in the field.

 
1. Optimum Delivery Service


Your cannabis dispensary needs a top-notch delivery system. This is extremely important following the recent COVID-19 restrictions in many countries. However, not all American States permit the delivery of weed. Many people use cannabis for medicinal purposes. As a result, a trip to the dispensary might expose them to unnecessary risk, making a delivery system essential.

You should strive to have a 24 hours delivery service that makes it easy for customers to order pot without restrictions. It is possible to have people employed for delivery which will work full time. Make sure this person has a valid driver's licence without any prior conviction case. Likewise, it will be nice if your customers can order marijuana online or via the telephone. You might have to deal with customers who need instant or same-day delivery, so having a full-time delivery person will be awesome.

 
2. Online Presence

In this day and age, almost 70% of the population has a device that gives them instant access to the internet. As a result, if you want to keep being relevant, a good online presence is inevitable.

A simple eCommerce website where you display your entire product like a disposable vape product is a good idea. Besides, you get to promote various cannabis strains and other marijuana products. Typically, someone will likely want to know and research different marijuana products before buying. If your store has this information, it will be easy to convert these visitors to paying customers.

Besides having a dedicated website, a good presence on social media can also go a long way to promote your dispensary. It can provide a quick link for customers to contact you and get more information about what you have to offer.

 
3. Keep Regulation and Laws in Mind

Over the years, some unlucky cannabis businesses have been shut down, while some were severely warned by the regulatory bodies. Most of the time, non-compliance with the law, which arises from illegal business dealings and questionable products, leads to this. As a result, to keep your business from getting entangled with the law, make sure to know what the law expects of you.

Cannabis has succeeded medically, which explains its popularity. Some businesses are guilty of making medical claims, suggesting the use of cannabis in place of prescription risks getting on the wrong side of the law. The FDA ensures that these businesses do not thrive into the future.

The operation of such illegal companies affects the entire cannabis industry. For instance, a business that claims that all cannabis strains can relieve indigestion is not trustworthy as there are high quality black diamond og that can deal with indigestion. Such a hyped claim will eventually hurt the business. With this, make sure you understand what is required of you legally.


4. Be Smart with Marketing

You might have created a fantastic marketing brand with top-quality ingredients that will help your customers tremendously. However, your customers are ignorant of what makes your product stand out or the supposed benefits.

Part of your duties is to ensure that your customers know what makes your product unique alongside the creation procedures. Provided your target knows that your product has the value they want, it will not be an issue for them to make recurrent purchases. They might even go out of their way to refer you.

 
5. Find Ways to Stand out

One thing that makes the cannabis business stand out is the wide range of products available under it. This presents the perfect space for various entrepreneurs to focus on. As a result, cannabis is not a growing field but a massive market with countless users with multiple preferences.

This makes it essential to be smart enough to decipher how you can share in this market. You can make this possible by looking for ways to make customers loyal to your brand. It is possible to stand out via a unique packaging system or include a barcode that users can scan and get information on ingredients, third-party lab processing, and much vital information.

Getting that unique selling point can help you stand out among your competitors


Conclusion

There is a lot that goes into growing and having success in the cannabis business. You need to educate your customers on proven medical studies alongside research on what cannabis can do. It is essential to be creative with marketing and getting funds. Staying on the right side of the law will help ensure that you do not get entangled with the government. These five tips will go a long way to set you on the path to success in your cannabis business.

Increase Your SEO Ranking With Encryption Techniqu


Wazzup Pilipinas!?



The secret ingredient to a successful business is - reach to your audience. How well your company will perform is dependent on its visibility among your target audience.

If you already have a business website, you need to look for ways to improve its ranking. A good rank is a must to grab the eye of your audience.

Hypothetically if a user makes a google search to buy a shoe and you have a shoe store, then ideally, your website needs to be visible in the search result. And then he may land upon your website and probably end up buying from you. Although, achieving a good rank on search is not that simple. You have to have a lot of patience and persistence to improve the ranking of your website. There are various ways to improve your ranking such as white label link building technique, broken link building and many more but it’s up to you what you choose.


How to Optimize Your Website?

There are a multitude of ways to optimize your website and enhance its ranking. Adding security to your website can be one of the most beneficial ways of optimizing and improving the SEO rank.

The incidence of credit card theft, identity theft, and all types of data security breaches is something we often hear about everywhere. It increases the concern among business owners and users about the privacy of their sensitive data. Having a robust security setup can potentially save your business and your audience from such unfortunate incidents. Encryption is one such solid security setup in the online world. Encryption is essential for the security of your website. It will protect and prevent your data from being compromised.Key management is a viable option to consider for effective encryption and data security

Not only will it prevent security breaches, but it will also enhance your ranking in the search results. Search engines consider ranking factors while deciding whether the page should appear in the search result for a given query and in which order. The chief ranking factors are content, keyword research, website architecture, backlinks, etc., with the recent addition of security.

Encryption can aid in the security of your website. Learning about encryption and implementing it on your website can be incredibly useful. You can take help by hiring an agency that works on improving the encryption of websites.



Website Security & Its Impact On SEO Ranking

Website Security is essential, and it not only impacts you but the users as well. Users need assurance that their data is safe while they are on your website. You also need to protect your website from cyberattacks.

Cybercriminals can take advantage of your hard work. It may sound unreal to you, but SEO can be the main reason for website hacking. Not everyone invests honest efforts to boost the ranking of their website. Cybercriminals earn from malicious activities by attacking unprotected websites for their benefit.

Your website may be doing so well, and it can fall prey to such an attack because you didn't pay heed to improve the security of your website. The chances are that these attacks may result in search engines blocking your site. Let us dive in to learn more about encryption-


What You Need To Know About Encryption

Today, many organizations depend heavily on PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) to manage security through encryption. There are many pki assessment courses available online to gain knowledge. Encryption is the conversion of information (plain text) into an unintelligible form of data(ciphertext). Only those who have some authorization can read this data by converting it into its original state(decryption) using a secret key. The technology of encryption and decryption is called Cryptography. A cipher or algorithm is needed to implement encryption and algorithm.

The unauthorized entity needs to figure out the algorithm and the key to understand the encrypted data. Breaking encryption is not an easy thing to do. It is not easy to figure out keys and cipher that easily. Therefore, encryption is an essential tool when it comes to the security of your websites.

Google, which dominates the market of search queries by 91.86%, has announced that it will consider website encryption as a ranking factor. Thus, having website encryption in place is rather beneficial for your SEO ranking.

Here are the two encryption methods through which you can secure your website and improve your SEO ranking:-

End to End Encryption

End to End Encryption allows complete security of data-it means that no one can intercept this data except the sender and receiver. E2EE can ensure that no one can read the messages of a communication between two users. Hackers, the government, or even the company facilitating your communication will not be able to read or see the content.

End to End encryption is known for its absolute data privacy. Messaging applications like WhatsApp and Facebook messenger also have End to End encryption.

If your audience knows that they are safe from unethical monitoring and data theft, they will prefer using your website. It will ultimately help with your website ranking.


Quantum Cryptography

Quantum Cryptography originates from the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which suggests that two properties location and momentum can be used to identify a particle. But, the particle cannot be measured without altering the values of those properties.

In simpler terms, if you quantum-encode the data, the data cannot be copied, and if an unauthorized person tries to access the encoded data, the data will change. You will get an alert when any such activities occur, and the attacker will fail from concealing this act. You will get saved from SEO spam infected sites that direct visitors to spam web pages with encryption in place.

Spam comments and links can damage the reputation of your website. These spammy links and comments are majorly visible to search engines and users of your website. You may end up losing traffic on your website and ranking as well.


Conclusion

The security of your website is essential for keeping your data safe. Privacy and Data Security is a growing concern among internet users. Placing encryption will help you in gaining the trust of visitors. In the future, secure websites will have greater chances of ranking well in search results.

Thus far, the year 2020 has been turbulent. Between protests and pandemics, it seems unlikely the world will ever return to the way it was. This includes the way we do business.

As social distancing protocols are forcing us to close our physical doors, it’s opening doors of opportunity. Digital marketing has long been a part of our world, but now it’s becoming a staple of the way we do business.













Friday, March 11, 2022

CSOs collaborate to support urban poor in Caloocan


Wazzup Pilipinas!?


Caloocan City is one of the biggest and most densely populated cities in the Philippines. According to the 2018 official poverty statistics of the Philippine Statistics Agency (PSA), it has a total population of 1.6 million and a poverty incidence of 4.7%, the highest in the National Capital Region.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country in March 2020, the enhanced community quarantines aggravated the situation of poor households especially those living in urban centers. As observed by the United Nations, people who are most vulnerable to food and nutrition crises during the pandemic are those who were already exposed to critical food and dietary deprivations pre-pandemic. It was in this setting that an informal coalition of civil society and private sector organizations, already providing relief operations on their own, came together to strategize and collaborate to address the need for food among poor families in Metro Manila.



Ensuring food security

As an informal alliance of different CSOs and NGOs, the CSO coalition was organized to coordinate and manage relief efforts in affected communities in NCR. To address the hunger situation and revive small businesses, the group embarked on “Project Karinderya”, which brought safe and nutritious food to urban poor households while helping the karinderyas (food stalls) recover from the slack in business.

“During the first year of the pandemic, the CSO coalition focused on food security and livelihood,” CSO coalition Project Manager Kathleen Loresca said.

In Bagong Silang Caloocan, the largest barangay in the country, the coalition supported Kabuhayan sa Ganap na Kasarinlan Credit and Savings Cooperative (K-COOP) to provide hot meals to thousands of residents and establish community kitchens that has fed families for a month.

The Project Karinderya, which provided income to food stall owners while feeding families, was also replicated in around 200 barangays in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

A similar initiative, the Super Carinderia, is being implemented by PBSP in partnership with Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP), and Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Pamilya ng Pantawid, which was initially done in NCR and is now currently being replicated as far as Iloilo, Negros Occidental, and Marawi City.



Project CAHEL

Aside from ensuring food security, barangay health teams were also trained on preventing further spread of the virus.

Led by the Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF), Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF), and K-COOP and the Caloocan City LGU, the Caloocan Consortium to Alleviate Health and Leadership or Project CAHEL was launched in June 2021. A six-month training included two modules of the Barangay Health Leadership and Management Program for Pandemics as well as learning sessions on contact tracing, triage and referral system, mental health awareness & psychosocial support, dengue awareness and management.



Caloocan Vaccination Partnership

To ramp up its support to the national vaccination plan in 2021, the coalition also partnered with the local government of Caloocan City to provide technical assistance, conduct information campaigns, generate demand for vaccines, and address logistical issues in the vaccination sites.

The Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF), with Task Force T3 (Test, Trace and Treat), shared their technical expertise on planning, allocation and monitoring performance of their vaccination campaign through the MiƱana Matrix, a tool to determine targets in vaccination efforts. The CSO coalition also created an online map of vaccination sites in Caloocan and devised a system for contact tracing and mapping locations for granular lockdowns.

To deal with vaccine hesitancy, KCOOP initiated information, education, and community campaigns by releasing COVID-19 facts and figures to their client members in their communication channels, particularly, online chat groups composed of mothers in the community.

“Most of KCOOPs client members are “nanays” (mothers). They became “infomediaries” to enlighten their communities that vaccines are safe and effective, and there is a need to get vaccinated to protect yourself and others,” Loresca said.

The Microfinance Council of the Philippines (MCPI), meanwhile, introduced to the CSO Collab through KCoop General Manager Ms. Maria Anna Ignacio, also mobilized their members to help generate demand for vaccination among their clients through the conduct of IEC campaigns.

With the increase in demand, the LGU then provided slots in dedicated vaccination sites to the Collab partners’ members As the vaccine supply stabilized in NCR towards the last quarter of last year, KCOOP brought its client-members from the nearby province of Bulacan when Caloocan City opened its vaccination sites to residents outside the city. Transportation expenses were shouldered by members of the CSO coalition like the Philippine Business for Social Progress.

Through linkages with the Jollibee Group Foundation, service crews from the Jollibee Foods Corporation were also vaccinated along with Food Panda riders.

With these efforts, over 2,000 individuals were vaccinated in Caloocan.

 

Addressing challenges in the vaccination sites

The CSO coalition also stepped up its efforts to address the lack of equipment and manpower in the vaccination sites.

To help encoders of the local government, PEF, through K-COOP, provided 27 laptop units for the vaccination project’s database management component. The CAMANAVA chapter of the Philippine College of Physicians, at the same time, helped in the enlistment of 32 medical volunteers for the vaccination centers in Caloocan.

The SEAOIL Foundation Inc. also provided e-vouchers for fuel worth P50,000 to help transport COVID-19 vaccines to vaccination centers.



Replicating the efforts

The coming together of the development organizations to help the local government, plus the impact of the effort to improve the vaccination in Caloocan have prompted replication in other areas.

In November 2021, another vaccination partnership was initiated in Padre Burgos, Quezon, a PEF focus area. Together with MCPI and the CSO coalition, PEF coordinated with the municipal Rural Health Unit, local MFIs, and partner cooperative Yakap at Halik Multipurpose Cooperative Quezon 2 to vaccinate residents.

According to Loresca, the CSO coalition will be working with other LGUs to replicate the efforts.

“For Caloocan and Padre Burgos, we have seen the potential of microfinance institutions in increasing vaccine coverage. The Department of Health, World Health Organization, and Task Force T3 are looking forward to engaging these MFIs in areas with low vaccination rates,” she said.

The Caloocan LGU was also invited by the Association of Foundations in a forum to discuss their model and share experiences to inspire creation of similar efforts.

With the learnings from the collaboration, more cities and municipalities are expected to produce partnerships that can have multiplier effects to their own efforts

The Peace and Equity Foundation aspires to drive positive change in poor Filipino household communities by investing in social enterprises that will provide them with viable livelihood and better access to basic services. We work with partners who share this vision by developing models and best practices that will steer social enterprises to scale up. Founded in October 2001, our Foundation is the steward of an endowment fund and registered as a non-stock, non-profit organization based in Quezon City, Philippines.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Law Group Welcomes Effectivity of FDA Ban on Trans Fat, Urges Industry Compliance


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“The Filipino people, for the sake of their heart health, deserve a trans fat-free Philippines by 2023. We laud the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its commitment to this vision and urge the food industry to observe the strictest compliance.” 

 

This was the statement of law group ImagineLaw as the FDA Circular No. 2021-028 or the “Guidelines for Prepackaged Processed Food Products Containing Trans Fatty Acids (TFA)” takes effect today, March 10, 2022. The Circular implements the Department of Health (DOH) Administrative Order No. 2021-0039, a national policy that bans industrial TFA from processed food items.

 

“We recognize FDA’s firm stance in promoting consumers’ health and diet through the issuance of the guidelines. We also expect no less from the food industry than to join the collective effort among state actors and civil society in complying with this measure. After all, health is everyone’s business,” Atty. Mary Grace Anne Rosales-Sto. Domingo, ImagineLaw’s Project Manager for Healthy Diet remarked.

 

The Circular prohibits the manufacture, use, importation, distribution, and sale of food sources, ingredients, and pre-packaged processed food products containing partially hydrogenated oil (PHO) and high TFA content. These include margarine, vegetable shortening, fried foods and doughnuts, crackers, biscuits, packaged pies, pancakes, and hot chocolate mixes.

 

To ensure strict compliance with the policy, the FDA requires businesses to submit an accredited Certificate of Analysis indicating the food item’s TFA content, which shall not exceed 2g per 100 ml of total fat.

 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), industrial TFA is a toxic fat that increases bad cholesterol levels and leads to a higher risk of heart disease, including stroke and heart attacks. Data from a WHO 2017 study also revealed that high TFA intake results in around 3,000 annual premature deaths in the country.

 

Full implementation of the policy regulations is expected to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases (NCD) in the Philippines, and in turn, help Filipinos build resilience against diseases like COVID-19.

 

Food manufacturers will have until June 18, 2023, to reformulate their products, as mandated by the policy.

 

“We urge the food industry to partake in solutions that address this health challenge, especially amid the ongoing pandemic, by removing TFA from their food production. With full compliance to the guidelines, even micro and small business owners will be assured that oils and fat they buy from the markets are safe and TFA-free,” Sto. Domingo added.

 

“To prolong every moment we have with our loved ones, we must acknowledge the importance of looking after our health, especially our hearts. The FDA gives importance to keeping your hearts healthy through the regulation of TFA in pre-packaged processed food that you eat,” said Dir. Pilar Marilyn Pagayunan, Director of the FDA Center for Food Regulation and Research (FDA-CFRR).

Citizen Monitoring Group Calls on Voters to Turn the 2022 Polls Into an Accountability Platform


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Accountability frontliners from various parts of the country have recently urged voters to turn the upcoming May elections into an “accountability process, where candidates have to be made answerable for their performance or lack thereof.” 

 

The call was made by Government Watch (G-Watch) in a statement that was released exactly two months before the 2022 polls. An independent action research and citizen monitoring organization that is present in 12 local sites, G-Watch emphasized the need to elect officials who will “restore checks and balances in government, strengthen accountability institutions, uphold merit-based public management, and support independent civil society monitoring and advocacy.” During the COVID-19 crisis, G-Watch monitored the social amelioration program, citizen health entitlements and vaccination, noting many lapses and gaps in the response of the national government.

 

The G-Watch statement on the May polls was adopted after their five-day national meeting and learning exchange that was held in Pasig and Baguio City from March 4-8, 2022. Mayor Vico Sotto, a member of the G-Watch Executive Board, also attended the second day of the meeting and shared the experience of the Pasig City local government in fighting corruption.

 

Noting the importance of the upcoming polls, Amelia Mancera of G-Watch-Southern Leyte emphasized the need “to be more vigilant since society’s issues and concerns become amplified during election time.”

 

One of these pressing problems is the spread of fake news. According to G-Watch accountability frontliner Gemar Barola, “since this is becoming an era of disinformation, accountability should be taken very seriously.” He appealed to the public to “demand for transparency and accountability from those who seek for power by investing in education and fact-checking for truth and authentic news.”

 

Gabriel Peralta of G-Watch-Quezon City underscores that a key lesson from the country’s experience with the pandemic is that, “we need leaders who are transparent and accountable.” His colleague Maribel Sumagay shares this sentiment, stating that, “Our nation deserves a president who is accountable and transparent to its people.” 

 

For his part, Mickel Ollave of G-Watch-Puerto Princesa sees elections as a mechanism for choosing the best leaders. “Ang eleksyon ay isang epektibong pamamaraan para pagpanagutin, palitan ang mga tiwaling lider at panatilihin ang mga lider na matitino,” he said. (Elections are effective mechanisms to hold account and change corrupt officials and keep those who deliver.)

 

G-Watch volunteer Jun Tingson offered a similar thought, saying that, “Election is the best time for citizens to engage in accountability, so that they can vote for the best candidates for the country.”

 

Noting their experience in Dumaguete, G-Watch volunteer Cindy Uy affirmed the importance of accountability in elections: “Accountability in elections creates an enabling environment where citizens freely choose leaders, ensure that development agenda are implemented, periodically monitored and corrective actions done efficiently and effectively,” she said.

 

Khalid Camar of G-Watch Lanao del Sur also reminded voters that, “in the coming elections, not only politicians should be made to account, citizens too, as they decide for the future of the country.”

 

Joy Aceron, G-Watch convener-director, says “G-Watch work is above and beyond the elections, but the electoral exercise remains a crucial accountability mechanism that can enable and advance good governance, so it has to be engaged.”

 

G-Watch, in its statement, offered six-point agenda for the next administration, which includes: 

 

  • Ensure access to relevant, useful and clear information.
  • Pass the Freedom of Information Law.
  • Bolster transparency mechanisms and efforts.
  • Ensure that feedback, complaint and grievance redress mechanisms properly work so that the concerns of citizens can be adequately addressed.
  • Enhance the capacity of accountability institutions, mechanisms and programs inside government.
  • Ensure that the country’s legal framework remains supportive, facilitative and enabling of progressive civil society, including independent citizen accountability efforts.


Make the 2022 Elections an Accountability Platform!  

A Statement of Government Watch (G-Watch) on the Upcoming May Polls

 

In exactly two months from now, Filipinos will once again go to the polls to elect the country’s next President, along with the Vice President, 12 senators, 316 members of the Lower House, as well as 16,055 local officials. While every election is important, the upcoming poll is both unique and extremely crucial due to the ongoing pandemic, and the continuing threats to democracy and to our people’s very survival.

 

The dismal performance of the national government in handling the COVID-19 crisis is going to be the backdrop of the 2022 elections. It has to be. The 2022 elections will also be critical in reaffirming many democratic values that has been under threat for the past years, such as inviolability of human rights, the rule of law, and the principle that a public office is public trust since all power emanates from the people.

The 2022 polls, in other words, has to be turned into an accountability process, where candidates have to be made answerable for their performance or lack thereof.

 

We call on voters to elect candidates that will restore checks and balances in government, strengthen accountability institutions, uphold merit-based public management, and support independent civil society monitoring and advocacy.  

 

At the same time, G-Watch offers the following agenda for the next administration:

 

· Ensure access to relevant, useful and clear information.

· Pass the Freedom of Information Law.

· Bolster transparency mechanisms and efforts.

· Ensure that feedback, complaint and grievance redress mechanisms properly work so that the concerns of citizens can be adequately addressed.

· Enhance the capacity of accountability institutions, mechanisms and programs inside government.

· Ensure that the country’s legal framework remains supportive, facilitative and enabling of progressive civil society, including independent citizen accountability efforts.

 

We also call on the Philippine development community to start rebooting, retooling and re-energizing civil society-government engagement to one that synergizes interdependent power which checks abuses at the top and uplifts the most marginalized.

 

If all these are done, then we can turn elections to what it should be—as a way to allow even the most ordinary of citizens to speak truth to power and change the course of the country’s history.

 

 

Passed during the 2022 G-Watch National Meeting & Learning Exchange on March 4-8 in Pasig and Baguio Cities. G-Watch is an independent action research organization embedded in constituencies of civic and advocacy-oriented organizations all over the Philippines that aims to contribute in democratic deepening through the scaling of accountability and citizen empowerment. G-Watch has local sites and partner civil society organizations and government allies in Pasig City, Quezon City, Naga, Puerto Princesa, Cebu, Bohol, Tacloban, Dumaguete, Bacolod, Southern Leyte, Lanao del Sur, Samal Island, and Agusan del Sur.


Female passengers got to ride trains of the MRT-3 and LRT-2 for free on International Women’s Day


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A total of 51,202 female passengers got to ride trains of the MRT-3 and LRT-2 for free on Tuesday, 08 March 2022, as the Department of Transportation (DOTr) joined in the celebration of International Women’s Day.

The DOTr joined the rest of the world in honoring the valuable roles women play in society. As part of the month-long celebration, female passengers of the MRT-3 and LRT-2 lines were given free rides during peak hours on Tuesday from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM.

The MRT-3 recorded a total of 38,445 female passengers who availed of the free ride.

Meanwhile, aside from the free rides for female passengers, the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) also offered free Blood Typing Test, Blood Pressure Checking, and Random Blood Sugar Tests at the LRT-2 Recto and Araneta Center-Cubao stations on the same day.

The LRTA likewise recorded a total of 12,757 female passengers who availed the free ride at the LRT-2 line.

"Kaisa po ng buong bansa ang pamunuan ng MRT-3 sa pagdiriwang at pagsaludo sa dedikasyon, galing, at puso ng bawat kababaihang Pilipino," MRT-3 OIC-General Manager Asec. Eymard Eje said.

“These activities aim to honor and recognize the indispensable role of women in our society as well as reaffirm DOTr and LRTA’s commitment to gender equality and women empowerment,” LRTA Administrator Jeremy Regino, for his part, said.

With the theme, "Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow," this year’s National Women's Month Celebration highlights women’s achievements, promotes the breaking of biases, and encourages others to take action for equality.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

DepEd Last Mile Schools Program marks milestone with first-ever completed school in Eastern Visayas


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The Department of Education (DepEd) unveiled its first-ever completed Last Mile School in Eastern Visayas during a turnover ceremony in Calbiga, Samar last February 23, 2022.

 

“This is only the first step to the many developments under the Public Schools of the Future framework. We will continue to close the gap between the Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas to their urban center counterparts in providing unhampered and equal access to education,” Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones said.

 

Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del B. Pascua stressed that funding must be allocated to Last Mile Schools like Patong National High School (PNHS), which has classrooms and roofs made of sala-sala, bamboo, sawali, nipa, and pan-aw, and have unpaved flooring.

 

“Hindi lang tayo nagtatayo ng building kundi kinukompleto rin natin ang package. Itatayo natin ang building, lalagyan natin ng laman tulad ng furniture, sistema para sa solar power at tubig. Ito ang essential elements of a last mile school,” Undersecretary Pascua said.

 

PNHS School Head Apolinario Nacario mentioned the program’s important contribution, especially to those who belong to low-income families.




 

“Hindi na mahihirapan ang mga pamilya sa paggastos ng malaki para sa pamasahe ng kanilang anak papunta ng bayan. Ito rin kasi ay nasa sentro ng limang paaralan ng elementarya,” Nacario noted.

 

Meanwhile, Bonga National High School (BNHS) Principal Wilma Montejo shared the status of the undergoing construction of one concrete school building with four classrooms to replace their six makeshift classrooms.

 

“Gawa na halos lahat. Kinakailangan na lang ay ang system na makakapag-generate ng kuryente mula sa solar power at ang pasilidad sa paghuhugas ng kamay. By March. sana ay matapos ito para makapag-open na kami ng face-to-face classes," Montejo said.

 

DepEd field officers’ latest assessments revealed that the figure has risen to 9,225, which is currently equivalent to 19.4% of all public schools.

 

“’Yan ang dapat bigyan natin ng focus kung paano natin gagawing kasing ganda ang mga last mile schools na narito ng mga eskuwelahan sa siyudad. Hopefully, the next administration will continue ang ganito klase ng priority,” Usec. Pascua said.

 

Led by Usec. Pascua, the Office of the Undersecretary for Administration visited Samar and Leyte from February 23 to 25 to assess the completeness of newly-constructed and restored buildings, including those undergoing construction.

 

Statement on the Enactment of RA 11648


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Save the Children Philippines lauds the enactment of Republic Act 11648 or the Act Raising the Age of Sexual Consent, which increases the age of statutory rape from 12 to 16. This recognizes children’s right to and need for protection from sexual abuse and exploitation.

According to the country’s National Baseline Study on Violence against Children (Council for the Welfare of Children, 2016), 1 out of 4 Filipino children experience some form of sexual violence with children aged 13-17 experiencing the most sexual violence. Majority of the victims of rape are children aged 13-15 according to the Philippine Commission on Women. By raising the age of sexual consent, we are casting a wider net to protect more children from being sexually abused and exploited, especially by adults.

With the passage of this law, the Philippines as State Party complies with the recommendations of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to increase the age of sexual consent, and thereby, addressing the limitation of the Anti-Rape Law of 1997 in addressing statutory rape.

Save the Children, however, recognizes that the passage of this law is just the beginning of a stronger advocacy for the protection of children from all forms of violence. We call on the Philippine government for stronger implementation of all child protection related laws and policies, particularly at the community level. This will help to ensure that violence against children is prevented and properly addressed should this happen. This can start by ensuring that all local government officials and other stakeholders understand these laws and policies, and what their roles and responsibilities are in implementing these so they can fulfill their obligations to protect all children in their communities. These laws and policies should also be translated into actual child protection related programs, projects, and activities that are included in local development plans and budgets. These should particularly include investments in prevention activities, readily-available and accessible services, and adequate and capacitated human resources to deliver the services.

Save the Children Philippines Chief Executive Officer, Atty. Alberto Muyot said:

“While we celebrate the enactment of RA 11648, we enjoin families and all sectors of society to remain vigilant and continue to work together to protect children from all forms of sexual abuse and exploitation.”

SM Knows What Women Want


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Throughout the whole month of March, women take center stage at SM Supermalls. For inspiring us with their voice, their courage in everything they do, SM Supermalls salutes all Women of The World by giving them what their hearts desire most.



The Womenpreneur Market



From comfort food and beauty cosmetics to active lifestyle and more. Great finds that women love are on sale at the Womenpreneur Market, a gathering of pop ups of small and medium business endeavors for women, by women. Presented in partnership with various SM tenants, affiliates and women’s partner organizations. The Womenpreneur Market is open from March 1 to March 15.



Women at Home



The Home Edit Fair for Women opens a world of hobbies that women love to indulge in. Interior designing, gardening, baking, art and other ways of sprucing up the home have taken the fancy of today’s women. An inviting and charming home for her family and guests is in every woman’s bucket list. The Home Edit Fair is open from March 16 to March 31.



Women’s Wellness and Wednesday Sale



To be pampered from head to foot is an offer no woman can refuse. To avail of the offer at discounted prices makes it even more irresistible. For the whole month of March, women can avail of great deals from wellness salons at SM Supermalls, from facials, hair and body treatments to nail care and massage. Women’s Wellness is on from March 1 to March 31.



The Wednesday Sale is a weekly offering of special deals exclusively for women. Shopping on Wednesdays has become even more tempting for her at SM Supermalls. Catch the sale every Wednesday of the month: March 2,9, 16, 23, and 30



Women Who Lunch



From dining deals to specially prepared dishes and free drinks, women are in for some flavorful treats this month. Moms, Titas, Mars, Lolas, Sis and girlfriends may fulfill their cravings at participating restaurants and food outlets that are whipping up delicious offers exclusively for women. From March 1 to March 31.



Women’s month at SM Supermalls began with a Summit on Women Empowerment for a Sustainable Tomorrow entitled, Women Now and The Future that took place last March 8, in partnership with UN Women, Spark Philippines, Connected Women, and Girl Scouts of The Philippines. The hybrid summit focuses on womenpreneur mentorship with women in business such as, Rissa Mananquil- Trillo, Krie Lopez, Gina Romero and Jammy San Juan-Magsino, as well as empowering the next generation women with Antoinette Taus, Sam Tamayo, Mariane Rosario and Nina Lim-Yuson of Girl Scouts of the Philippines. Hosted by Karen Davila with keynote speech from Steven Tan, live at SM Megamall and the @smsupermalls Facebook page.



Women’s World, a celebration of Women’s month at SM Supermalls, aims to make every woman’s shopping experience more special and meaningful. Because at SM Supermalls, we know what she wants and what she deserves. Visit www.smdeals.com to see all our treats just for you. #WomenFeelAweSM







END

Monday, March 7, 2022

DepEd optimistic on conduct of limited physical end-of-school-year rites


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The Department of Education (DepEd) is optimistic that schools will be able to conduct limited physical End-of-School-Year (EOSY) rites for School Year 2021-2022.

At the recent EduAksyon Virtual Regional press conference hosted by DepEd Region IX, Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones expressed her optimism that schools may be able to conduct their graduation rites depending on the risk assessment in various regions of the country.

“Yung risk assessment natin sa mga different regions, sa mga different schools ay nag-improve. Pag nag tuloy-tuloy ito, the chances of being allowed to conduct face-to-face graduation also increases. Sunod-sunod yan pag nag-opening ka ng classes, nag face-to-face (classes) ka, physical graduation rites are also possible,” Education Chief Briones said.

“Ang hope lang natin, maabutan ng graduation season natin na hindi naman abutan ng hindi magandang balita (increase in COVID cases/alert level) kung may biglang pagbabago,” Sec. Briones added.

Furthermore, in anticipation of the physical graduation rites, the Office of the Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction (OUCI) is already planning and developing the guidelines on how to conduct the said activity.

“Kami sa Curriculum and Instruction Strand ay nag-uusap na ng magiging guidelines. Yung tanong na kung possible ang face-to-face graduation? Siyempre po kasi nga pinayagan na ang limited face-to-face, so ang ibig sabihin posible na rin yung limited face-to-face graduation ceremonies,” Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction Diosdado M. San Antonio said.

Usec. San Antonio also mentioned that the graduation ceremony will not be the same as before the pandemic and assured that proper health and safety protocols will be maintained throughout the ceremony.

“Huwag tayong umasa na katulad ng dati na napakaraming tao, ire-regulate po natin, susundin natin yung mga social distancing requirements,” Usec. San Antonio said.


“May posibilidad na hindi lang isahan, baka may unang oras, isang grupo kung maliit yung lugar na pagdarausan ng face-to-face graduation. Mga ganon na modelo ay pinag-aaralan pa namin at pinag-uusapan, pero sisiguruhin natin na kung tayo ay magre-recommend nito ito ay sasang-ayon sa mga pinapatupad na requirements ng IATF at ng DOH,” he added.

Sheraton Manila Bay Celebrate All Women


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Sheraton Manila Bay continues its commitment to celebrate all women on International Women’s Month, offering a range of delectable culinary and beverage selection for ladies to indulge.
Treat the lovely ladies in your life with our divine Chocolate Fudge Decadent Cake of the Month for only Php 1,200 net. Pair it with a beverage of your choice which come complimentary for every purchase of a whole cake. Moreover, female visitors at the Sheraton Kiosk may also avail of our Buy 1, Take 1 deal on coffees, cold brews, and grab & go juices until March 31, 2022.







On International Women’s Day (March 8), we will be giving away complimentary freshly baked cupcake for a minimum spend of Php 500 on pasties, savories, and beverages at the Sheraton Kiosk.

Chocolate Fudge Decadent Cake is also available at the Culinary Courier. View our menu at bit.ly/ccmnlsb. 24 hours advance reservation is required. To order please call +632 5318 0788, 09175837294, 09175837326 or email sh.mnlsb.fnb@sheraton.com.

The Sheraton Kiosk is located at Robinsons Place Manila, Mall Entrance, Padre Faura Wing. Like us on Facebook and Instagram @sheratonmanilabay and Twitter at @sheratonmnlbay.



Sunday, March 6, 2022

SSS statement on the influx of members, claimants in SSS branches


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The Social Security System (SSS) said that the agency has already addressed the influx of transacting members in certain SSS branches in the National Capital Region (NCR), especially in SSS Diliman Branch.

SS made the statement after a media report showed claimants camping outside the SSS Diliman Branch along East Avenue in Quezon City.


“We have accommodated all the transacting members who flocked in several of our SSS branches. We are in 100% operation capacity since all our employees are reporting in the office,” SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Aurora Ignacio said.


Ignacio said that they will continue to monitor the influx of members in SSS branches. “We will evaluate the situation to determine if there is a need to extend its servicing hours and extend its daily operations until Saturday,” she added.


Likewise, SSS renews its call for members, claimants, and the transacting public to use the agency’s online facilities such as My.SSS and SSS Mobile App for their various SSS transactions.


“We urge them to fully maximize its online facilities, especially the My.SSS portal. There are more than 30 member services available on My.SSS. They can even access some of these services on the SSS Mobile App,” Ignacio said.


Even before the pandemic, SSS have been shifting our core and business processes towards digitalization. In 2011, SSS started accepting online submission of several SSS transactions through My.SSS, an online service portal which can be found on the SSS website (www.sss.gov.ph).


Since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, SSS has accelerated the shift of its over-the-counter transactions through its various online platforms using the member’s My.SSS account and SSS Mobile App which can be done 24/7 at the comfort of their homes or offices. It is in line with SSS’ brand campaign “ExpreSSS” to provide a simpler, faster, safer, and more convenient transaction to minimize their exposure to COVID-19.


Meanwhile, Ignacio said that there is an existing online branch appointment system. Members may use the appointment system to indicate the preferred date and time that they want to be accommodated in their chosen SSS branch.


Further, SSS debunks the misconception that processing of claim and loan applications is faster in SSS Diliman Branch than in other SSS branches. It clarifies that the speed of processing their SSS transactions is based on the completeness of the documents they have submitted.


The “File Anywhere” policy is still in effect so they can transact at the nearest branch of their choice. Currently, there are 58 branches in NCR, about 135 branches in Luzon, 44 branches in Visayas, and 44 branches in Mindanao.

“We want to assure our members that we are continuously finding ways to improve our processes to better serve our members,” Ignacio concluded.



CAAP completes airport projects nationwide, with strength and resolve


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The strength and resolve amid various challenges have enabled the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to complete airport projects across the country under the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Transportation Secretary Art Tugade said on Friday, 04 March 2022.Secretary Tugade said the CAAP, along with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) Aviation Sector, had endured challenges, criticisms, and doubts through commitment, passion, and love for the people.

These hardships, according to Secretary Tugade, motivated the CAAP to work harder to deliver the mandate of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“When I heard the song coupled with pictures that accompanied the song, napaluha ako. Pagkat nakita ko ‘yung damdamin, yung pakikisama, commitment at passion ng CAAP. Na kung saan nakipag-isa sila sa akin upang magawa at magawa ‘yung mga katungkulan na minandate sa atin ng ating mahal na Pangulo – make the Filipino life convenient and comfortable,” Secretary Tugade’s emotional message during CAAP’s 14th anniversary celebration on Friday.

“Nilalabanan natin ‘yung mga kutsa, agam agam. Nilalabanan natin ‘yung bagyo. Nilalabanan natin ‘yung tinatawag na earthquake, kung anupamang challenges. But we have strength. We have resolve because we never felt alone,” Secretary Tugade added.






Since the start of the Duterte administration in 2016 and amid the COVID-19 pandemic for the past two years, CAAP and the rest of the DOTr Aviation Sector had completed a total of 243 airport projects nationwide. Of this number, 169 airport projects in 55 airports were completed by CAAP throughout the country as of February 2022.

Secretary Tugade commended the CAAP, led by Director General Jim Sydiongco for the ongoing works for the completion of additional transformational airport projects, facilities, and infrastructures across the country.

“Lahat kayo magagaling, matatalino, inspirado, committed, passionate. Nakita ko kung papano kayo maglingkod,” Secretary Tugade stressed.

On the other hand, DG Sydiongco pointed out that the accomplishments in the DOTr Aviation Sector over the past five years would not have been possible without the support of Secretary Tugade and the hardworking personnel of CAAP and the DOTr.

“I’d like to thank Secretary Tugade, Sec. Art, for giving me your trust and confidence and being an ever-bright beacon of light to bring us back right on track,” DG Sydiongco said.

Construction of North Avenue Common Station structure slated to be completed by end of March


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After more than 15 years since its approval by the NEDA Investment Coordination Committee in December 2006, construction of the North Avenue Common Station structure in Quezon City is slated to be completed by end of March this year, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Art Tugade stated.Tugade made the statement during his site inspection of the Common Station on Thursday, 03 March 2022. The transportation chief was accompanied by Japan Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhiko Koshikawa, JICA Chief Representative Eigo Azukizawa, BF Corporation CEO Marides Fernando, other transport officials, and private sector partners, to check on the progress of the project.

The inspection consisted of a walkthrough of the Common Station, which saw significant and fast-paced improvements since Secretary Tugade’s last inspection in December 2021. To date, the Station Building of Area A is now connected to Area B or the Atrium, which is now 100% complete.

The 13,700 square meter concourse area will interconnect four major railway lines: LRT-1, MRT-3, MRT-7, and soon, the Metro Manila Subway Project.
















"Notwithstanding the fact that I did not close EDSA to traffic, notwithstanding the fact that I did not suspend or realign the operations of the MRT-3, the construction of the Common Station’s building structure will be completed by end of March," Secretary Tugade said.

Targeted to start operations by July 2022, Secretary Tugade ordered commencement of operations at an earlier date, “without sacrificing quality of work and reasonability of cost”.

"I will henceforth, until my term ends, inspect and make sure that the electromechanical system will also be in place so that this Common Station – a long-time dream of the Filipino people – will come into reality. I hope it can be done during the term of President Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” Secretary Tugade said.

Meanwhile, the project’s contractor, BF Construction, assured to meet the timeline set by Secretary Tugade with non-stop construction works to complete the project. At present, BF Construction CEO Marides Fernando said the concreting of the platform level, where the MRT-3 and LRT-1 lines are set to merge, is now ongoing.

"Today, we are very pleased to welcome Secretary Tugade. You can see that the status of the [station] building is well on its way and we are rushing; 24/7 work is going on here at the station to complete it as per the Secretary's schedule," said Fernando.

For his part, Ambassador Kazuhiko, who earlier rode the MRT-3 from the Ayala Station going to the inspection site at North Avenue, lauded the relentless efforts of the DOTr to improve mobility and connectivity in the country.

“So, in the near future, I can change from the MRT-3 to the LRT-1 and MRT-7 or Metro Manila Subway via this Common Station. And I can go anywhere in a short time period. Needless to say that railway connectivity is indispensable for efficient transport. That’s why the opening of this Common Station will offer a significant level of comfort to use these railways,” Ambassador Kazuhiko said.

Once operational, the Common Station can accommodate almost 500,000 passengers daily.
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